I know he wants to hear something so I turn on the radio and find a hard-rock station.
“Wanna hear this?” I ask, smiling, turning the volume up.
“Whatever,” he says, looking out the window. “Sure.”
I do not like this music at all and it takes a lot of effort and another glass of vodka not to put in the Sondheim tape. The vodka is not working as I hoped.
“Who is this?” I ask, gesturing toward the radio.
“Um, I think it’s Devo,” Tim says.
“Who?” I heard him.
“A group called Devo.”
“Right,” he says, looking at me like I’m some kind of idiot.
“Okay.” I sit back. “I just wanna get that straight.”
Devo ends. A new song comes on that’s even more annoying.
“Who is this?” I ask.
He looks at me, puts his sunglasses on and says, “Missing Persons.”
“Missing Persons?” I ask.
“Yeah.” He laughs a little.
I nod and roll down a tinted window.
Tim sips his drink and then brings it back to his lap.
“Were you in Century City yesterday?” I ask him.
“No. I wasn’t,” he says evenly, without emotion.
“Oh,” I say, finishing my drink.
Finally, the song by Missing Persons ends. The DJ comes on, makes a joke, droning about free tickets to a New Year’s Eve concert that will be held in Anaheim.
“Did you bring your racket?” I ask, knowing that he did, having seen Chuck place it in the trunk.
“Yeah. I brought my racket,” Tim says, bringing the glass to his mouth, pretending to drink.
Once on the plane, in first class, me on the aisle, Tim by the window, I’m a little less tense. I drink some champagne, Tim has a glass of orange juice. He puts his Walkman on, reads a GQ he bought at the airport. I begin to read the copy of James Michener’s Hawaii that I bring to the Mauna Kea whenever I go and I set my headset to “Hawaiian Medley” and listen to Don Ho sing “Tiny Bubbles” again and again and again as we fly toward the islands.
After lunch I ask the stewardess for a deck of cards and Tim and I play a few hands of gin and I win all four games. He stares out the window until the movie starts. He watches the movie and I read Hawaii and drink rum and Coke and after the movie Tim flips through the GQ, looks out the window at the expanse of sea below us. I get up and walk a little drunkenly upstairs and wander around the lounge and take a Valium and walk back downstairs for the descent into Hilo and as we land Tim clutches the GQ tightly until it’s permanently curled and the plane pulls up to the gate.
When we get off the plane, a pretty, sweet-faced Hawaiian girl puts purple leis around our necks and we meet the chauffeur at the gate and he gets our luggage and we sit in the limousine, not saying a lot, barely even looking at each other, and as we drive through the humid mid-afternoon along the coast, Tim fiddles with the radio and can only get a local station from Hilo playing old sixties songs. I look over at Tim as Mary Wells begins to sing “My Guy” and he just sits there, the purple frangipani lei already starting to brown, hanging limply around his neck, his blank eyes staring sadly out the tinted windows, looking over the sweeps of green land, the GQ still clutched in his hands, and I ask myself if this is the right thing to do. Tim glances over at me and I avert my gaze and an imagined sense of imposed peace washes calmly over the two of us, answering my question.
Tim and I are sitting in the main dining room at the Mauna Kea. The dining room has one wall that is open and I can hear the far-off sounds of waves breaking along the beach. A breeze enters the darkened room, the flame of the candle at our table flickering for a moment. The wind chimes hanging from beams below the ceiling whisper softly. The young Hawaiian boy at the piano on a small, semi-lit stage next to the dance floor plays “Mack the Knife” while two elderly couples dance awkwardly in the darkness. Tim tries, inconspicuously, to light a cigarette. A woman’s laughter drifts through the large dining room, leaving me, for some reason, clueless.
“Oh, Tim, don’t smoke,” I say, sipping my second Mai Tai. “We’re in Hawaii for Christ sakes.”
Without saying a word or making any sign of protest, without even glancing at me, he puts the cigarette out in the ashtray, then folds his arms.
“Listen,” I begin, then, stuck, pause.
Tim looks at me. “Uh-huh. Go on.”
“Who”—my mind flops around, falls on something—“do you think is gonna win the Super Bowl this year?”