Fiction Contest: Duct-Taped in Hilo
Presenting the grand prize- winning story from the 22nd Annual Honolulu Magazine Starbucks Coffee Hawaii Fiction Contest.
(page 2 of 3)
This Year’s Winners
Congratulations to the winners of the
At the cash register, a fireman in a blue uniform shouted into his cell phone, “I love you. I really do.”
Papa Joe closed his eyes and saw the young fireman balanced on a shaky ladder, escaping with a woman in his arms from a burning building.
“But no can, no more, Theresa. I’m not the one.”
Papa Joe opened his eyes and saw the fireman yelling into his cell phone as he grabbed a mug from the pregnant cashier. “I’m not the one!” The ladder collapsed, and for Papa Joe, suddenly, the world had become all too obvious.
The two police officers had to shout to be heard over the EMTs wheeling Theresa into the emergency room.
“Speeding,” the tall cop yelled.
“Not according to the witness!”
Theresa felt a cool mist blowing her lover’s words through the car window.
“Domingo,” the EMT read from a driver’s license spotted with bloody fingerprints. “Twenty-eight years old. Kiawe Street. No insurance card. No medical record.”
Theresa wanted to tell them not to hurt her baby. She was late for the breakfast rush and her mouth wouldn’t work. Where was he? He should be here. He’s a good man, hard headed, like his father. Born again. Don’t hurt my baby.
“Any drugs in the car?”
“She busted up pretty good.”
“A hundred, maybe two hundred, stitches.”
“At least,” the tall cop said. “Who knows what else.”
Papa Joe threw the blanket off the Madonna.
“Holy moley,” Manni said, crossing himself. He had stopped going to church a year after he graduated St. Joe’s Elementary, but he still knew the moves. Hadn’t he crossed himself three times before winning the Revolving 7s Jackpot in Vegas?
Papa Joe stuffed his hands in his pockets.
“That’s one weird statue,” Manni said. “Like you get one body in your truck.”
“Her neck’s cracked,” Papa Joe said, thinking of his first welding torch. He pressed his thick index finger against the crack.
“If she were made of metal, I could fix her.”
“Things aren’t right,” Manni said, “when people leave a statue in the middle of the road.”
Both men nodded their heads, both thinking of Papa Joe’s tiny cul-de-sac and the night 25 years ago when Papa Joe had run down the statue in front of Mother Mary Star of the Sea Church.
“Has to be outside agitators. Your neighbors too old to be leaving statues in the middle of the road, unless maybe old man Pacheco. He crazy religious kine.”
“Why would a religious person leave a statue in the road?”
“Religious people do all kine crazy things. Me, I had one auntie, crying all the time for her avocado tree that nevah give fruit. Huge that tree but no fruit. Then she seen a statue like this one for $5 at the Buddhist temple rummage sale. Had black mold all over. She rubbed it clean with bleach and stuck it in her yard, facing that avocado tree. Then she prayed to that statue for grow avocados. Oh please, god, give me avocados.”
Papa Joe saw a golden cross held in a young woman’s shaking fingers.
“The next day, that tree get plenty big kine juicy fruit. Ono. Buttery. My auntie, she took the fruit round to her neighbors, bragging about how buttery and juicy they was and about her statue and her miracle.”
“No such thing as miracles,” Papa Joe said.
“Did I tell you this story before? Anyway, you right. The next day that statue disappears. I think maybe some kid stole it. And everything goes to do-do. The avocado tree stops giving fruit. Then the leaves fall off, nothing left but a skeleton. Like thunder hit it. Completely dead.” Manni crossed himself three times.
Papa Joe tossed the blanket over the Madonna. “Me, I’m taking it to the dump. Can’t be fooling around with a statue when I’m supposed to work the late shift.”
“You can’t take a statue of the Madonna to the dump. You already get marks against you. Remember. This de´ja … you know.”
“Last time I meant to hit the statue.”