The Informers


The taller woman smiles at us and holds up a frosty pink glass and says, “Pahoehoes.”

“Pahoehoes?” I ask, grinning.

“Yes,” she says. “They’re delicious.”

“I don’t believe this,” I hear Tim mutter behind me.

“Bartender, sorry, er …” I peer at the smiling gray-haired Hawaiian as he brings over our Mai Tais, until his name tag comes into my line of vision, “Hiki, why don’t you bring these two gorgeous ladies another round of …” I look at her, still grinning.

“Pahoehoes,” she says, smiling lewdly.

“Pahoehoes,” I tell Hiki.

“Yes sir, very good,” Hiki says, moving off.

“Well, you two—you both look like you were on the beach today, catching some rays. Where are you from?” I ask one of them.

The one who responds takes a sip from her drink. “I’m Patty and this is Darlene and we’re from Chicago.” “Chicago?” I ask, leaning closer. “Is that right?”

“That’s right,” Patty says. “Where are you both from?”

“We’re from L.A.,” I tell her, the sound of a blender almost drowning me out.

“Oh, Los Angeles?” Darlene asks, looking us over.

“That’s right,” I say. “I’m Les Price and this is my son, Tim.” I gesture toward Tim as if he’s on display, his head bowed down. “He’s, er, a little shy.”

“Hi, Tim,” Patty says carefully.

“Say hello, Tim,” I urge.

Tim smiles politely.

“He goes to USC,” I add, as if offering an explanation.

The woman playing the ukelele begins to sing “It Had to Be You” and I find myself swaying to the music.

“I have a niece out in L.A.,” Darlene says, mildly excited. “She goes to Pepperdine. Ever hear of Pepperdine?” she asks Tim.

“Yes.” He nods, looking into his Mai Tai.

“Her name is Norma Perry. Ever hear of Norma Perry? She’s a sophomore?” Darlene asks Tim, sipping her Pahoehoe. “At Pepperdine?”

I look over at Tim, who is shaking his head, still looking into his drink, glassy-eyed. “No, I’m, um, afraid, um, not… .”

The three of us stare at Tim like he’s some kind of blank, exotic creature, more stunned than we should be by how inarticulate he actually is. He keeps shaking his head slowly and it takes massive will on my part to turn away from him.

“Well, how long are you two ladies here?” I ask, taking a large gulp of Mai Tai.

“‘Until Sunday,” Patty says. She has so much jade on her wrist that I’m surprised she can lift her drink. “How about you two?”

“Until Saturday, Patty,” I say.

“That’s nice. Just the two of you?”

“That’s right,” I say, looking over at Tim good-naturedly.

“Isn’t that nice, Darlene?” Patty asks Darlene, looking at Tim.

Darlene nods. “Father-son. It’s nice.” She finishes her Pahoehoe greedily and immediately sets upon the fresh one Hiki places in front of her.

“Well, I hope I’m not being too forward if I ask you this,” I begin, leaning a little closer to Patty, who reeks of gardenias.

“I’m sure you won’t be, Les,” Patty says. Darlene giggles expectantly.

“Jesus,” Tim mutters, finally taking a sip of his Mai Tai. I ignore the little bastard.

“What is it?” Darlene asks. “Les?”

“Who are you two ladies here with?” I ask, laughing a little. “That’s it,” Tim says, getting off the stool.

“We’re here alone,” Pattv says, looking over at Darlene. “All alone,” Darlene adds.

“Can I have the keys to the room?” Tim asks, holding out his hand.

“Where are you going?” I ask, sobering up slightly. “To the room,” he says. “Where do you think? Christ.” “But you haven’t even finished your drink,” I say, pointing at the Mai Tai.

“I don’t want the drink,” he says evenly.

“Why not?” I ask, my voice rising.

“I’ll drink it if he doesn’t.” Darlene laughs.

“Just give me the key,” Tim says, exasperated.

“Well, I’ll come with you,” I tell him, standing there.

“No, no, no, you just stay here and enjoy yourself with Patty and Marlene.”

“That’s Darlene, honey,” Darlene says behind me.