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:: Refuge : Neil S. Plakcy ::
After a long, happy day of swimming, surfing and fishing, capped by a dinner of fresh-caught mahi-mahi, Gunter and I stood in front of the tent we'd pitched at Ho'okena Beach, feeling the warm ocean breeze on our naked bodies. I wondered if this was how my ancestors had felt, standing on a darkened island shore, marveling at the work of the gods: the ocean, the volcanoes, the stars above. Then Gunter grabbed my dick and dragged me into the tent with him.

Gunter isn't really my boyfriend; he's a friend, and we have sex every so often, usually an accident of circumstance and lust. He's six three, and his blond hair is shaved down to a spiky buzz. He works out every day, so that the muscles in his arms and legs are thick and ropy. I'm two inches shorter, but regular surfing and swimming keep me in pretty good shape, too. Sex between us is an athletic event, about endurance and the exhilaration of discovering new ways to twist our bodies together, applying pressure and being rewarded with pressure in return.

Inside the tent, we made out for hours, it seemed, holding back our climaxes, kissing, stroking, licking and rubbing in multiple combinations. Time stood still, sped up, slowed down, washed around us in waves. Outside we heard the relentless surf washing up on the beach, the occasional cry of a shore bird, the creak of wind in the trees.

Finally Gunter took me in his mouth, and I took him in mine, to work each other over the final heights. My body started to hum in a rhythm over which I had no control, and then, something happened. The walls of the tent started to flap, a light breeze grew stronger, and a cool mist floated around us. The tent began to glow with an unearthly green light just as Gunter and I climaxed together.

All at once the green glow disappeared and the air grew still. Gunter and I slumped against each other and he said, "Man, that was some fuck!"

I was baffled and exhilarated at the same time. As a detective, I have to believe that there is a reason for everything, some cause rooted in human behavior. But I'd had sex with Gunter before, and there had never been any green glow or misty breeze. I mean, he was good, but he wasn't that good.

He twisted around and cuddled up next to me, pressing his butt against my tender cock. He took my arm and wrapped it around him, and then within moments he was asleep. I lay there, trying to analyze what had happened. I'd seen green glows like that before, in the ocean. There's a fish that emits a phosphorescent chemical, and when you get enough of them together it's like a huge, lustrous wave. Could we have caught a reflection of that?

It might have been a car passing, maybe green neon wired into the chassis. I'd seen lights like that, driving around Honolulu. I ran through a half-dozen other possibilities, none of them reasonable, before I could shut off my brain, snuggle up next to Gunter, and nod off.

The next morning we were up at sunrise, surfing the incoming tide. For a while, we were surrounded by a herd of pygmy dolphins, and Gunter and I laughed exuberantly as they nosed our boards and our feet, diving and splashing around us, until we dragged our tired, aching bodies back to the tent. I started fiddling with some food while Gunter went inside to change out of his wet suit. He quickly stuck his head back out. "Hey, somebody's been in here," he said. "Come look."

I hurried over. He held the flap up so I could see. Someone had been rummaging in our stuff, and there were things spread out all over the sleeping bag. "Who could have done this?" Gunter asked. "We were always in sight of shore."

I crawled into the tent with him. "What the..." I said, holding up a rubber. Somebody had ripped open the foil wrapper and pulled it out, even stretched it a little, but it hadn't been used. Everything that was spilled around had something to do with sex, it seemed. Gunter had brought a dozen rubbers with him, all the foil packs joined, and someone had taken them apart. "You thought we were going to need all these?"

"You never know," he said. "Ew, look at this." Someone had taken his tube of K-Y jelly and squeezed some of it out, making a nasty little pool on the nylon floor.

"Gunter, you always bring dildos on camping trips?" I asked, holding it up.

They hadn't touched our clothes, or our money, or anything but Gunter's sex toys. "This is weird, man," he said. "I'm not sure I want to stick around here."

"We've already paid for the camping for two nights, and it's too late to pack up and go somewhere else." I put my hand on his crotch and rubbed a little. "Don't worry, Gunter, I'll take care of you." He frowned, but he stripped off his Speedos and started to clean up.

After lunch, we lounged in the sun, then swam. I wanted to go out for dinner, but Gunter wouldn't stay at the tent by himself and didn't want to leave it alone, so I sent him down the highway. It was kind of funny, this big, muscle-bound guy, who often scared the shit out of men he met in bars, frightened of somebody breaking into our tent and messing with his sex toys. When I heard him return in the rental car, I couldn't resist pulling my rain parka over my head and jumping out of the tent at him, moaning and howling.

It was as if all his tan faded away. "You bastard," he said, when he recovered. "I'll get you."

I let him chase me into the water, where we wrestled, and kissed, and groped each other, rolling around on the sand while the gentle surf nibbled all around us. After dinner we walked up to the park office, where a ranger named Prapakorn Sinthavanuchit was giving a talk about the Big Island and its legends.

He had started a bonfire, and he invited the kids to come up and sit around him. A few were haole, or white, and a few were Chinese, but most were mixed race, like me -- I have Hawai'ian, Japanese and haole grandparents. My friend Harry Ho calls me a Tiger Woods with a bad golf game.

Gunter and I sat with about a dozen adults in a large ring behind the kids, and the shadows of the fire danced across our faces like restless ghosts. Prap began by telling us what a spiritual place the island of Hawai'i was. "We believe the first Polynesian settlers landed here on the Big Island," he said. "This was also the place where they built the first luakini heiau." He looked around at the kids. "Do any of you know what that was?"

No one answered, so he raised his face to the adults. "Any of you know?"

"It's where they made human sacrifices, isn't it?" I asked.

Prap nodded, "Who knows what kapu is?"

One of the Chinese boys raised his hand. "Bad things."

"That's true," Prap said. "At least, they were things the ancient Hawai'ians thought were bad. For example, a commoner couldn't stand in the presence of a chief. Women couldn't eat certain foods, like pork and bananas, and they had to prepare their foods separately from food for men. Kapu regulated every aspect of their lives, and the penalty for breaking it was very severe. Do any of you know what that penalty was?"

A little blond boy drew his finger across his neck and made a slicing noise, and everybody laughed. "That's right," Prap said. "Death. There was only one way to avoid it, and that was to come to a place of refuge, like the historic site just down the road. How many of you have been there?"

Most people raised their hands. "If you broke a kapu, you had to get to a place of refuge before the chief got hold of you. Once you got the priest to perform a rite of absolution, you'd be OK. But it was hard to get there, and many people didn't make it."

A breeze blew through, stirring up the flames and causing sparks to fly as the wood shifted. "There are many stories of people who were killed just before they reached a place of refuge. It's said that their manas, or spirits, still remain, just outside the gates, longing for salvation."

The kids started looking around, as if the ghosts were hovering just beyond the edge of the firelight. "They say sometimes a spirit will find a live person, and attach to him." Prap smiled. "Haven't you heard about kids who have invisible friends? Maybe they're spirits that can't cross over into the next world." He laughed. "Now let me tell you a little about Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and the gods who live inside them."

After an hour the kids started to look sleepy and Prap wound down his talk. Gunter and I walked back to our tent together, and out of the range of the fire the night was dark and clouds covered most of the stars.

"D'you believe that stuff?" Gunter asked. "About spirits hanging around. The ones that didn't make it into the place of refuge."

I laughed. "You mean ghosts?"

"Well, mana is a pretty powerful thing, don't you think? Doesn't it mean your personal power, the spirit inside you?"

"Yes, but you think that spirit lives on after you die? And then comes back to mess with somebody's rubbers and dildos?"

"You don't know, Kimo. What if there really is a ghost hanging around? And what if he's attached himself to us?"

"You've got an invisible friend now, Gunter? Wouldn't that make us a threesome?"

He could tell I wasn't believing him so he got quiet. Prap's speech didn't leave either of us in a romantic mood, so we just went to sleep, leaving a well-defined space between us. During the night it got cool, though, so by morning we were nestled together, Gunter's leg draped over mine and his chest cuddled against my back. We stumbled through a quick breakfast and then went out into the ocean.

The wind turned around noon, making the water choppy and ruining the waves, so we got out, dried off in the sun and thought about what to do next. "I was thinking, maybe we should go over to the Place of Refuge," Gunter said at last.

"I didn't realize you were into that kind of thing."

"Remember, night before last, when we were doing it?" he asked. I wasn't quite following his train of thought, but I nodded. "Did you notice anything weird?"

"You mean the tent flapping in the wind, and that green light?"

"Exactly! I think that's when the ghost glommed onto us."


"I'm serious. Then he fooled around with all my sex toys yesterday morning."

"I think that was one of those kids. We just didn't see him."

"Still, Kimo, what if it's true? What if some spirit that couldn't get into the place of refuge has attached itself to us?"

"And you think going there will help?"

"Maybe we can take him in there with us."

I looked at Gunter. I had always known him to be firmly rooted in the physical. Very physical, if you counted sex. But we'd never really talked about faith, or belief, or anything supernatural. "You really believe that?"

"I think it's worth a try."

I shrugged. Back in Honolulu, I dealt with strange stuff all the time. I believed in empirical evidence, in cause and effect. But out here on the Big Island, surrounded by weird lava formations and ancient ruins, I was willing to cut Gunter a little slack. "All right." We put on some shorts and T-shirts and got into the rental car. Before we took off, I opened all the windows and yelled out, "All aboard for the Place of Refuge." Gunter gave me a look.

We paid our fee and parked in a group of about a dozen cars. "See over there, that stone ruin?" I said. "That's the heiau, or temple. But all around it were quarters for kings and warriors. So the only way for a kapu-breaker to get here was by the ocean. You had to face heavy currents and sharks."

We toured around, reading the historical markers, then stopped in front of a group of carved wooden statues called kii, that are said to embody the ancient gods. "It says there were 23 chiefs buried here," Gunter said, reading from one of the markers.

I nodded. "The legend says that their mana remained with their bones, and they help make this such a powerful place." I moved close to him. "Can you feel it? Feel that power?"

"I feel your dick pressing up against my butt," he said dryly. I looked around and didn't see anyone, so I kissed the back of his neck.

"You know what that does to me, Kimo," he said.

"I know." I reached around to his crotch, and felt him getting hard. "It's doing it."

He turned around so we were facing each other and we kissed deeply, rubbing our dicks together. I ran my hands over his back, and the sun glinted off his golden hair, and I felt a strong sense of peace in my soul. I guess a deeply spiritual place can do that to you.

"So what do you think?" I asked. "Was it enough that we brought your invisible friend here?"

He let go of me, and stepped back. "I think maybe we need to let him go."


"Well, you know how he attached himself to us."

"Gunter! There's lots of people here."

"It's a big place. I'll bet we can find some secluded spot."

I wanted to say no, but my body was clearly saying yes. Gunter was determined, and I had to admit that the risk was a little sexy. We got into the car and drove up the path that led to a secluded beach. Since the surf was choppy I didn't think there'd be anyone there, and sure enough, it was deserted. We went inside a little shed where you could change clothes.

The shed was rickety, made with ill-fitting boards, with a tin roof. Light seeped in through cracks everywhere, but the floor was clean and flat. Gunter stripped off his clothes and laid them down, and I did the same. We stood there, naked and hard, looking at each other.

"It's weird," I said. "I feel like there's someone else here."

"I do too. He's here with us."

"So how do we get rid of him?"

"I don't know. Maybe he just wants a little fun before he goes." Gunter smiled. I've never been able to resist that smile. I moved over to him and kissed him, and he kissed me back, and soon we were rolling around on the floor, making a mess of the clothes we'd carefully laid out.

It didn't take long before we were both ready to come. There was this great sexual energy between us, more than usual, and then when we were close to climax the shed started to creak and that green light appeared again, borne on a cool, damp breeze, and this time it didn't linger, but welled up around us and then burst upwards, collecting around the underside of the tin roof and then, with a big whoosh it was gone, and Gunter and I were spent, clutching each other.

I wasn't sure what had happened. I got up and examined the shaky, ill-fitting boards of the shack. I sniffed the air, got down on my hands and knees to check every inch of the floor. Gunter sat there and watched me.

"You don't believe, do you?" he asked. "That there was really a ghost here, and now he's gone. I think this was what he wanted. To get in here, to the place of refuge."

I sat down next to Gunter. "I just don't know. How can you take something like this on faith? What if there's some rational explanation, some chemical in the air, say. Or some kid sneaking around outside, playing, a prank on us?"

"What does it matter? You know, I go over to the AIDS clinic at Queen's Hospital once a week. I read to a guy with CMV, magazines, sometimes the newspaper, sometimes a novel. He's blind, so he doesn't know if I'm reading the right words. Maybe I'm missing a sentence, maybe it's some key to the whole article or the book. But he just takes it on faith, and goes on."

I started to get dressed. I was buttoning my shirt when I turned to Gunter. "You think he was gay? That maybe that's why he glommed onto us?"

Gunter stopped in the middle of pulling on his shorts. "Was being gay a kapu?"

I frowned. "I don't know for sure. But almost anything could be kapu if you did it at the wrong time, or the wrong place, or with the wrong person."

Gunter finished pulling on his shorts, and buttoned them up. He reached over and pushed a few stray hairs up off my forehead. "I kind of miss him," he said. "I hope he's happy now."

We drove back to the campsite. I wasn't sure how I felt, if I believed that we had been visited by a ghost or if I still thought there was some empirical explanation. "I think it's time to get out of here," I said. "If we hurry, we can make it back to Kona and get the last plane to Honolulu."

"I second that emotion," Gunter said. We got out of the car and hurried up to the tent. Gunter went in first, and then stopped so suddenly that I bumped into him and knocked him down, then fell on top of him.

There were two plumeria leis on our open sleeping bags. I didn't even wonder where they'd come from. I knew.

"Do you think..." Gunter asked.

"You know what they call the plumeria, don't you?" Gunter didn't know. "The dead man flower, because you see so many of them in cemeteries. Some of the hula halaus, when they need to make leis for a performance, they go to the cemetery and take the plumerias." Gunter looked at me. "Well, it's cheaper than buying them."

"This is creepy."

I picked up one lei and put it over Gunter's head, draping it around his neck. Then I kissed him once on each cheek. "Go on," I said. "Your turn."

He picked up the remaining lei, put it around my neck, and kissed me. We both wore the leis all the way back to Honolulu.


:: 4.2.01 : 4.2.02 : 4.2.03 : 4.2.04 : 4.2.05 : 4.2.06 : 4.2.07 : 4.2.08 ::

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