Excerpt From 'Hotel Honolulu'

Paradise Lost

Nothing to me is so erotic as a hotel room, and therefore so penetrated with life and death. Buddy Hamstra offered me a hotel job in Honolulu and laughed at my accepting it so quickly. I had been trying to begin a new life, as people do when they flee to distant places. Hawaii was paradise with heavy traffic. I met Sweetie in the hotel, where she was also working. One day when we were alone on the fourth floor I asked, Do you want to make love? and she said, Part of me does. Why smile? At last we did it, then often, and always in the same vacant guest room, 409. Sweetie got pregnant, our daughter was born. So, within a year of arriving, I had my new life, and as the writer said after the crack-up, I found new things to care about. I was resident manager of the Hotel Honolulu, eighty rooms nibbled by rats.

Buddy, the hotel's owner, said, We're multistory.

I liked the word and the way he made it multi-eye.

The rooms were small, the elevator was narrow, the lobby was tiny, the bar was just a nook.

Not small, Buddy said. Yerpeen.

I had gotten to these green mute islands, humbled and broke again, my brain blocked, feeling superfluous, out of the writing business, and trying to start all over at the age of forty-nine. A friend of mine recommended me to Buddy Hamstra. I applied for this job. It wasn't for material; it was the money. I needed work.

My manager's a typical local howlie -- a reetard, Buddy said. Fondles the help. Always cockroaching booze. Sniffs around the guest rooms.

That's not good, I said.

And this week he stepped on his dick.

Not good at all.

He needs therrpy, Buddy said. He's got lots of baggage.

Maybe that's what he likes about the hotel -- that he has a place to put it.

Buddy sucked his teeth and said, That's kind of funny.

The idea of rented bedrooms attracted me. Shared by so many dreaming strangers, every room was vibrant with their secrets, like furious dust in a sunbeam, their night sweats, the stammering echoes of their voices and horizontal fantasies; and certain ambiguous odors, the left-behind atoms and the residue of all the people who had ever stayed in it. The hotel bedroom is more than a symbol of intimacy; it is intimacy's very shrine, scattered with the essential paraphernalia and familiar fetish objects of its rituals. Assigning people to such rooms, I believed I was able to influence their lives.

Buddy Hamstra was a big, blaspheming, doggy-eyed man in drooping shorts, a wheezy smoker and heavy drinker. His nickname was Tuna. He was most people's nightmare, a reckless millionaire with the values of a delinquent and a barklike laugh. He liked saying, I'm a crude sumbitch. He was from the mainland -- Sweetwater, Nevada. But he pretended to be worse than he was. He had the sort of devilish gaze that showed a mind in motion.

What's yours, drink or weed?

We had met in his hotel bar. He had a cocktail in one hand and a cigarette in the other

I got some killer buds, he said.

Beer for me.

We talked idly -- about his tattoos, a forthcoming eclipse of the sun, the price of gas, and the source of the weed he was smoking -- before he got down to business, and he asked suddenly, Any hotel experience?

I've stayed in a lot of hotels.

He laughed in his barking way. And then, out of breath from the laughter, he went slack-jawed and gasped blue smoke. Finally he recovered and said, Hey, I've known a lot of assholes, but that doesn't make me a proctologist.

I admitted that I had no experience running a hotel, that I was a writer -- had been a writer. Every enterprise I had run, I had run in my head. I hated telling him that. I mentioned some of my books, because he asked, but nothing registered. That pleased me. I did not want to have a past.

You're probably great at thinking up names, he said. Being as you're a writer.

That's part of the job.

Part of the hotel business, too. Naming your restaurants, your lounges, your function rooms. Naming the bar.

His mention of the bar made me look up and see that we were sitting in Momi's Paradise Lounge.

Buddy drank, held the booze in his mouth, frowned, then swallowed and said, The manager here is a complete bozo. Dangerous, too.

In what way dangerous?

Has an argument with a guest, right? The guest storms out. When he comes back he finds that the manager has bricked up his doorway, sealed the whole room off. What he was saying was, it's the guest's room but it's our doorway.

I tried to imagine a guest opening the door and seeing fresh bricks where there should have been an opening.

Another guest -- a real pain, granted -- this manager put some goldfish in his toilet so he couldn't use it, but the guest flushed it, and so the manager filled the whole bathroom with industrial foam. Buddy sipped his drink, looking thoughtful. Someone asked him, ‘What's your problem?' The manager says, ‘Masturbation takes points off your IQ each time. Hey, I could have been a genius.'

At that moment Buddy's mobile phone rang. He answered it and handed me his business card and whispered for me to visit him the next day at his house on the North Shore. Then he exploded into the phone. Hearing him hollering at someone else, I realized how polite he had been with me. Buddy was watching an inaudible television when I found him the next day. Because he was supine and less animated, he looked more debauched. He lay in a hammock on a porch of his house, a large square building with porches like pulled-out bureau drawers, standing among rattling palm trees at the edge of Sunset Beach and the toppling, sliding waves. The sound of surf overwhelmed the sound of the television program he was watching. The women in bathing suits on the TV were not half as attractive as the ones on the beach below where he lay.

This lolo manager, he said, rolling his eyes, continuing where we had left off. I'll give you another eample. He sees a very pretty guest and introduces himself. He accompanies her to her room, they admire the view from her lanai, and he says, ‘Excuse me.' He goes into her john and takes a big loud leak. Buddy shook his head with disapproval. The woman is so spooked she moves out.

As I listened, I watched a rat moving smoothly along the baseboard of Buddy's big house like a blown leaf.

He's got a professional massage table in one room. He offers massages to women. Now and then he goes a little too far. Some like it, others don't. There are complaints.

He's a qualified masseur?

He's a three-balled tomcat. Like I said, he stepped on his dick.

I laughed in spite of myself, and Buddy joined me, barking. This second time I saw Buddy, he seemed more devilish. Watching him swinging in his hammock, like a big fish in a net, I was reminded of his nickname. Holding a glass of vodka on the dome of his belly, Buddy listed the manager's lapses. The man drank and disgraced himself. The man dipped into the cash register. The man insulted guests, sometimes using abusive language. He had been discovered sleeping in his office. He had a weakness for giving deals to guests who had done him favors, which was why the hotel had several long- term residents who could not be dislodged. He took pleasure in misleading people, and rubbed his hands when they went astray.

This week he got into a world of shit, Buddy said. He had a little flirtation with one of the guests. She's a fox but she's married -- she's on vacation here with her husband. After this dipshit manager made love to her she passed out, and he shaved off her pubic hair. She had to explain that to her old man! Buddy clucked, looked closely at me, and said, What do you think?

I laughed so hard at this weird outrage I could not reply. But I was also embarrassed. In the world I had left, people didn't do those things.

Buddy said, A person's laugh says an awful lot.

That made me self-conscious, so I said, He sounds pretty colorful. But I don't know whether I'd want him to run my business.

You said writers are good at thinking up names, Buddy said. We need a new name for the bar.

‘Momi's Paradise Lounge' isn't bad.

Except that Momi is my ex-wife. She used to tend bar. We just got divorced. My new wahine, Stella, hates the name. So?

He raised himself up in the hammock to face me. And I tried to think through all these distractions -- the TV, the dumping waves, the women in bikinis lying on the beach, the scuttling rat.

What about calling it ‘Paradise Lost'?

Buddy said nothing. He became very still, but his mind was in motion. I was aware of a straining sound, like the grunt of a laboring motor. Later I grew to recognize this as his way of thinking hard, his brain whirring like an old machine, cocked with a mainspring and the murmuring movement of its works coming out of his mouth. At last, in a whisper, he said, It's the name of . . . what? ome song? Some story?

Poem.

Poem. I like it.

And he relaxed. I stopped hearing the mechanism of slipping belts and uncoiling springs and meshing cogs from his damp forehead.

You'll do fine.

So I had the job. Was it because I was a writer? Buddy didn't read, which made the printed word seem like magic to him and perhaps gave him an exaggerated respect for writers. He was a gambler, and I was one of his gambles. He was one of the last of a dying breed, a rascal in the Pacific. His hiring me was another example of the sort of audacious risk he boasted about.

The staff is great, he said. They'll do your job for you, and the rest is oh-jay-tee. But I need someone who looks like he knows what he's doing.

I'll try.

It's not rocket surgery, Buddy said. And you've got the basic qualification.

What's that?

Reason being, you're a mainland howlie. He laughed and hitched himself tighter in his hammock and sent me on my way.

The word mainland, spoken in Hawaii, sounded to me like Planet Earth. 2 Castaways Whenever I felt superfluous, which was an old intimation, I reminded myself that I was running a multistory hotel. People in Hawaii asked me what I did for a living. I never said, I'm a writer -- they would not have known my books -- but rather, I run the Hotel Honolulu. That gave me a life and, among the rascals, a certain status.

After thirty years of moving around the world, and thirty years of books, I was hired because I was a white man, a haole. I had made and lost several -- not fortunes but livings; lost houses, lost land, lost family, lost friends; goodbye to cars, to my library. Other people were now sitting in lovely chairs I had bought and looking at paintings I used to own, hung on walls I had paid for.

I had never had a backup plan. My idea was to keep moving. Hawaii seemed a good place for starting over. This hotel was ideal. Buddy understood. He looked to be the sort of man who had also lost a lot in his life -- wives, houses, money, land; not books. I needed a rest from everything imaginary, and I felt that in settling in Hawaii, and not writing, I was returning to the world.

We were not on the beach. We were the last small, old hotel in Honolulu. It's kind of a bowteek hotel, Buddy said. He had won the place on a bet in the early sixties, when the jets had begun to replace the cruise ships. The hotel was a relic even then. What with the rising price of land in Waikiki, we were sure to be bought as a tear-down and replaced by a big ugly building, one of the chains. When I considered our certain doom, my memory was sharpened. I remembered what I saw and heard, every fugitive detail, and became a man on whom nothing was wasted.

There were residents, and some people who stayed for the winter, but most of the guests were strangers. By the time they checked out, I knew them as well as I wanted to, and in some cases I knew them very well.

This the winner! Keola, the janitor, said on m first day, welcoming me to the hotel. Dees da weena! But there was not much for me to do. Buddy had been right about the staff's running the place. Peewee was the chef, Lester Chen my number two. Tran and Trey were barmen. Tran was a Vietnamese immigrant. Trey, a surfer from Maui, also had a rock band, called Sub-Dude, formerly known as Meat Jelly, until all the band members found Jesus. Jesus was the first surfer, man. He walked on water, Trey told me, more than once. I surf for Christ. Charlie Wilnice and Ben Fishlow were our seasonal waiters. Keola and Kawika did the grunt work. I liked them for being incurious. Sweetie was for a time head of Housekeeping. She had been raised in the hotel, by her mother, Puamana, another of Buddy's gambles.

In a small hotel you see people at their best and at their worst, Peewee said. As for this one, we're in the islands, right, but this is where America stays. And some people come here to die.

We were too cheap for Japan, too expensive for Australia, too far for Europe, had little to offer the New Zealander, and didn't cater to backpackers. The business traveler avoided us, except when he was with a prostitute. Now and then we got Canadians. They were courteous and tried not to boast. They were budget-conscious. Another characteristic of frugal people: no jokes, or else bad jokes. Canadian guests despised us for not knowing their geography, while at the same time being embarrassed about their huge empty spaces that had funny place names. In conversation, Canadians were also the first to point out that they were different, usually by saying, Well, I wouldn't know, I'm a Canadian. We had a Mexican family once. We couldn't be called child-friendly, but Peewee was correct: America walked through our doors.

People talked. I listened. I observed. I read a little. My guests were naked. I sometimes trespassed, and it became my life -- the whole of my life, a new life in which I learned things I had never known before.

I had plaque cleared from my carotid artery, Clarence Greer told me. A hotel manager in Hawaii hears lots of medical reports, as well as weather reports from back home. The Scheesers were from International Falls, where the temperature that day was minus-twenty. Jirleen Cofield explained to me the making of a po-boy sandwich. I got Wanda Privett's recipe for meatloaf, and other recipes, and learned that many of them, being from middle America, involved adding a can of soup. It worried me to see a man wearing a toupee. I trusted people who lisped. Your diabetic needs to be careful of infections in his feet. I was overprotective of African Americans, always saw them as having among the oldest American pedigrees. I tried to understand the sadness of soldiers, the melancholy of the military. Was it the uniform? Was it the haircut? I heard so many stories that I abandoned any thought of writing them; their very number gave me writer's block and made me patient. Now and then, on the day he as to leave, a guest might walk the two blocks to the beach and sob in the sunshine.

I liked Hawaii because it was a void. There was no power here apart from landowning, no society worth the name, just a pecking order. There was a social ladder but it wasn't climbable, and the higher on it people stood, the sillier they looked, because everyone knew their secrets. On such small islands there was hardly any privacy, because people constantly bumped into each other.

Hawaii is hot and cold volcanoes, clear skies, and open ocean. Like most Pacific islands it is all edge, no center, very shallow, very narrow, a set of green bowls turned upside down in the sea, the lips of the coastline surrounding the bulges of porous mountains. This crockery is draped in a thickness of green so folded it is hidden and softened. Above the blazing beaches were the gorgeous green pleats of the mountains.

The place was once empty and unchanging, as lush as paradise, a peaceful balance of animals and plants. It was then visited by humans. At about the time Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, the second and largest wave of Polynesians were climbing out of double- hulled canoes, chanting in relief at having found land. They claimed it as theirs, but they were no more than castaways. They imposed a society of kings and commoners. People were eaten. They venerated the gods of fire and water they had brought with them. The first iron in Hawaii was stolen from the ships of Captain Cook -- so many nails yanked out of the timbers that the ships lost much of their seaworthiness. With the iron the islanders began to carve more subtly in wood. After the arrival of the first canoes the islands changed. The voyagers had brought dogs and pigs. The first whites brought guns and gonorrhea. Everything began at once, and in that beginning was decay. Now, half the people could not even swim, and an unspecific paragraph of inaccurate history like this one was all they knew.

And there was the sun. The sun in Hawaii was so dazzling, so misleading, yet we regarded sunlight as our fortune. We quietly believed, We are blessed because the sun shines every day. This is a good place for its sunlight. These islands are pure because of the sun. The sun has made us virtuous.

As the TV weathermen on the mainland took personal responsibility for the weather, each of us in Hawaii took credit for the sunshine here, as though we had discovered it and it was ours to dispense. Stranger, be grateful to me for this sunny day was our attitude toward visitors. The sun had been bestowed on us and we were sharing it with these alien refugees from dark cloudy places. The sun was our wealth and our goodness. The Hawaiian heresy, which we thought but never said, was We are good because of the sun. We are better than our visitors. We are sunnier.

This conceit made us sloppy and careless. Never mind the palmy setting, the people here were as cruel and violent and crafty as people anywhere, but tey were slower and so seemed mild. Close up, the islands were disorderly, fragile, and sensationally littered, with brittle cliffs and too many feral cats and beaches that were sucked and splashed by big waves to vanish in the sea. Our secret was that we hated hot weather and stayed out of the sun. The visitors ended up with pink noses, peeling shoulders, freckle clusters, sunstroke, and melanoma, while we kept in the shadows.

They say the Hawaii state motto is Hele I Loko, Haole ‘Ino, Aka Ha‘awi Mai Kala -- Go Home, You Mainland Scum, but Leave Your Money Behind, Buddy said. The real motto is even funnier. Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono -- The Life of the Land Is Perpetuated in Righteousness. The fuck it is! * * * The week I was hired, Buddy stopped coming to the hotel. I was glad. Buddy always introduced me by saying, Hey, he wrote a book!

I hated that. And I needed to learn the job. He was the wrong person to teach me. He was usually drunk and had the drunk's idiocy, mood swings, and facetiousness; he repeated himself; drink made him deaf.

To please me he tried to be funny, but that could be tedious, especially the formulaic jokes he told in order to define himself, or just to shock. I knew all the punch lines. The man at the bar who says, I used to think I was a cowboy, but, golly, I guess I'm a lesbian. Buddy saying, in his terrible Mexican accent, If God hadn't meant us to eat it, then why did he make it look like a taco? The elephant telling the naked man, How do you manage to breathe through a little thing like that? Or Buddy's croaky utterance that amounted almost to a war cry: Nine inches! A boss's comedy is always an employee's hardship.

A few days after I started at the hotel, Buddy invited me to his house to introduce me to his new woman, Stella, whom I had not yet met. She was from California, she said.

She's a tool of my lust, Buddy said, and handed me a platter of brownies. Stella made them. There's weed baked into them.

I took one and nibbled it while Buddy praised them in a wheezy voice, claiming they'd saved his lungs.

You ever swim? I asked.

Bad current, he said, pronouncing it kernt.

I'm surprised Buddy didn't make you manager of the hotel, I said to Stella. You're a great cook and you have the basic qualification. You're a mainland howlie.

But you also had the other important qualification, Buddy said, poking me in the chest. Reason being, you understood me.

I smiled at him, to show I didn't understand.

That dipshit manager I was telling you about? he said.

I remembered the aggression, the massage table, the blunders, the drunkenness, the practical jokes. Larger than life. Three-balled tomcat.

That was me!

He needed me to congratulate him for fooling me, and I did. But I had guessed it, and people had whispered at the hotel. What surprised me was that he felt I could do a better job. A man who doesn't make mistakes ain't doing nothing. But there were moe surprises for me, and they taught me to be watchful. I had asked for a new life, but I saw that this meant many lives -- wife, child, the world of these islands, and my misapprehensions. 3 Birdsong Not long after I nailed the janitor, Keola, as incurious, I saw him emptying trash barrels into a dumpster in the alley beside the hotel. Some papers flew out. He stooped and snatched at them with big blunt fingers, but instead of throwing them away, he looked at them. He began to read them, holding the flapping sheets to his face and smiling. That shocked me. He glanced back at me and gave me what the locals called stink-eye.

Later, when I summoned the courage to ask him why he had read the discarded papers, he denied it. If he sometimes seemed to be doing something crazy like reading, he said, it was because he suffered from nonselective blackouts. He said he didn't even know what I was talking about.

My short-term memory more worse, boss. Get real common in the islands. Real falustrating.

A week or so later I was in my office and heard, coming from outside the window, the voices of Keola and Kawika, who were weeding the flower bed by the swimming pool.

Eh, where you was yesterday?

Eh, was working.

I call you up talfone.

I never hear.

Eh, you never dere already.

Assa madda you, brah?

Fascinated, I cocked my head to listen. It was like hearing birds squawking.

Figure us go Makaha. Catch some wave.

I was lawnmowa da frikken grass. Weed Eater was buss.

How was buss?

Da shaff.

Eh, I get no more nothing to do.

Was frikken choke grass. I just stay sweating. My pants all broke. Later I wen cuttin da tchrees.

Two birds on a branch, squawking together, squawks I was trying to remember and understand. A few days later, they were squawking again.

Was one udda bugga. Was rob.

Who da bugga?

One howlie guy.

Who da steala-rubba?

Udda howlie guy.

Frikken howlies.

It da djrugs.

Yah.

They in depf.

Yah. Hey, how he go do it?

Hide in one tchree.

Up the tchree?

Back fo the tchree. See a waheeny with one bag. He say, ‘That mines!' He cuckaroach the bag, and the waheeny she ampin like hell.

They all on djrugs.

Take da cash. Buy batu.

Batu. Ice. Pakalolo.

Pakalolo one soff djrug. Batu is more worse.

Squawk, squawk. I sat at the window, pretending to work.

And another day:

Eh, but da bugga.

What bugga?

Da one new bugga.

Da howlie, yah. He more betta.

Eh, he look akamai.

But talk hybolic.

Yah. But everybody speak him too good.

The waheeny she frecklish.

She Housekeeping.

She not Housekeeping. She Guess Services.

But Tuna, he too much rascal.

Man, numba-one pilau luna.

And how come all da time he look us and then he laughing?

Bull liar. He job easy.

Yah.

Yah.

Too much hard though my job.

Stay sucking up beer. Talk story.

And us stay sweating.

Yah.
Yah.

Man, he got one big book, howlie bugga.

I never wen see no book.

In he office.

Bugga office?

Yah. Howlie bugga office. Big book. Hybolical book.

Eh, no easy fo read, yah.

Too much easy for howlie.

Yah.

Yah. Bymbye, da howlie bugga be rascal.

Frikken big rascal.

Squawk, squawk. There was more, and all in the dopiest apocopes, but by then I had realized they were talking about me, and my Tolstoy. 4 Rose History happens to other people. The rest of us just live and die, watch the news, listen to the guff, and remember the names. No one remembers us, though sometimes we are brushed by those bigger events or public figures. My boss, Buddy Hamstra, was a celebrity, because he knew many of the famous people who had visited Hawaii. He talked about them as though to prove that these little islands were part of the world and he was part of history. Babe Ruth had stayed in this hotel in 1927, before the renovation, when it was the height of a coconut tree. So had Will Rogers. Buddy had played golf with another rascal, Francis H. I'i Brown, who was part Hawaiian. Francis Brown had known Bob Hope. Hope was a regular in the islands.

Zachary Scott -- cowboy actor -- I knew him, Buddy said. He used to come here a lot.

I said, His ex-wife ran off with John Steinbeck. But that didn't impress Buddy, for he had never heard of Steinbeck.

Buddy had found Zachary Scott an island girlfriend. They did the horizontal hula. He could manage such an introduction in a friendly, uncomplicated way that took the curse off it and made him seem a matchmaker rather than a pimp.

A significant request of this sort was made early in 1962 when Sparky Lemmo asked whether Buddy could find him an island girl -- and the implication was that she would be young and pretty and willing. Buddy asked for more details. She was needed, Sparky said, to spend an evening with a visiting dignitary who was staying the night with his official entourage at the Kahala Hilton. The man's visit was secret, and he was so powerful he had not landed at Honolulu Airport but at one of the other airports -- there were thirteen on the island of Oahu, including the military fields. The man had been brought to the Kahala in a limo with blacked-out windows.

Howard Hughes? Buddy asked.

It was the sort of thing Hughes was doing in those years, with his flunkies and his millions and his private jet. Sparky gave no details; a hesitation in his manner, when the name came up, suggested to Buddy that the man in question might have been Howard Hughes.

Yet he could have been anyone. Famous people came to Hawaii and famous people lived here. Doris Duke lived on Black Point, Clare Boothe Luce on Diamond Head, Lindbergh was in Maui, Jimmy Stewart had a ranch above Kona, Elvis visited Hawaii all the time. Famous people had famous friends.

Bing Crosby? Buddy asked. Crosby played golf in Hawaii.

Sparky just ignored that. He repeated that the man anted a local girl, an island beauty.

Ha! Buddy Hamstra was triumphant. So they can't find a wahine at the Kahala. They have to come to the Hotel Honolulu!

He was pleased to be in demand, because even then his hotel's reputation had slipped. The Tahitian dancing on the lanai -- his Pretty Polynesia show -- only convinced people that Buddy was a rascal. And he was, which gave him some insight into how weak some men could be. He would say, I never had to pay for it -- one of those men -- but he was acquainted with the single-minded nature of desire.

Tell me who the guy is, Buddy said.

Sparky indicated by tightening his face that he wanted to tell but couldn't. He said, This man is very important. The idea is to find a girl who won't recognize him.

Would I recognize him? Buddy said.

Listen, this is urgent. And not a hooker. Just someone who's friendly. A little coconut princess.

There was just such a girl, Puamana Wilson, who hung around the hotel saying that she was looking for work. Buddy had sized her up as a runaway and was protective of her. She had been educated in a convent on the mainland but had run away, and was still hiding from her family in Hilo. He gave her casual jobs in the kitchen, to keep her out of the bar and under the protection of Peewee. He put her up in a back room so he could keep his eye on her. If she stayed out of trouble, he might marry her when she got a little older. She was still a girl, twenty or so, immature for her age because of the convent, freckled, funny, but experienced, as Buddy knew. She was sweet, not very bright, alluring in the pouty island way, half surf bunny and half shrew. She was simple and she was willing. But Buddy said, I want her back.

Puamana was summoned from the kitchen. Even damp-faced, in her apron, she looked pretty.

You're needed across town, Buddy said.

What I have to do?

Just be nice.

She understood this and knew what to do without being told.

While she washed and dressed, Sparky offered Buddy a tip, which Buddy waved away, offended by the imputation that he was part of the deal or that it was a commercial arrangement at all. This was something between friends, he said.

With a flower behind her ear and wearing a pareu, Puamana left for the Kahala with Sparky Lemmo. Buddy was asleep when she returned. Later that day he saw her in the kitchen -- in a T-shirt and apron and rubber sandals once more -- and asked her how it had gone.

Beautiful room, Puamana said. Was a suite.

How like Puamana to comment on the room and say nothing about the man or the money. So Buddy asked about him.

He was stoked.

She said nothing else. And she grew quiet, staying in her room as though hatching an egg. Six weeks later, Puamana told Buddy she was pregnant. When the little girl was born, Puamana said, She's hapa -- half islander, half haole. Puamana called her Ku‘uipo, Sweetheart, and with the birth she became a serious mother. She stpped flirting, saved her money, and devoted herself to her daughter, a lovely child who, before she was a year old, could totter across the hotel lobby and do hula moves without falling down.

Copyright © 2001 by Paul Theroux

--From Hotel Honolulu, by Paul Theroux. © May 2001 , Houghton Mifflin Co (Trd) used by permission.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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