“Holy Jesus!” the Ginger Boy exclaimed after he successfully lit his cigarette. “That’s quite a drive! I’m just kidding. Did you guys take Hawaiian Airlines? They have a direct now from JFK which is super-convenient, so I’ve heard. I hear a lot of news, you know. Sometimes it comes in handy. I’m not from here myself, either. But I’m not as far from here as New-fucking-York. Pardon my French, but I figure we’re family from way back so you guys can forgive me,” he said. “How do you guys like the weather here? Pretty nice, huh? You could almost just live outside if you wanted to.”
“It’s beautiful,” said Lindsay. “It never rains.”
“Sure it does. It absolutely does. I mean there’s a rainy season or whatever, but usually every morning it rains just a little—just enough to clean everything off—dust and dirt and bad stuff from the day before—so that the day can start clean. By the time you wake up in the morning, the rain stops, but not before it cleans the island for you so you can start over again.” He held his cigarette thoughtfully between his thumb and forefinger, staring in the distance as if he were delivering a monologue. “Sometimes it doesn’t rain for a few days though. Hopefully it’ll be like that for you two if that’s what you want.
“So,” he said in a pinched voice, inhaling, “you guys don’t smoke?”
“No, we don’t smoke,” said Lindsay politely.
“That’s good, it’s a disgusting habit,” he repeated. “Do you guys smoke anything else? You know what I’m talking about. This guy knows,” he winked suggestively at the husband as he held the smoke in his lungs.
“No. Thanks for the offer, though,” said Joshua.
“That’s too bad. You guys are missing out. The Big Island is renowned for green. Re-fucking-nowned. You guys can read about it on Google when I gotta get going in a minute. Pardon my French again by the way.” He paused and smiled as if recalling a joke. “I must have picked all this French up from this girl I’m seeing. Yeah, I’m seeing this girl—well, not seeing—I mean, we’re ‘friends with benefits’—the best kind. Heh.” He scooted his chair closer to Joshua and poked him with his elbow. “Yeah, I met this girl, she works at the Humane Society, which is part of the attraction since I’m an animal lover. Well, I love dogs and cats. I don’t have any at the moment but I’m hoping to adopt. They mainly have dogs and cats but every once in a while the occasional rabbit pops in. But she had this amazing accent and I that’s how I picked her up. I went up to her—you know, I heard her talking or whatever—and I went up to her and I just point-blank said to her, ‘You have a lovely accent.’” He affected Sean Connery’s voice. “She ate it up. We talked for a while, and it turns out she’s French, like from France, French. Anyway, she told me she thought we’d be great friends. ‘Friends.’” With his cigarette in hand, he made emphatic finger quotes in the air. “I knew what she meant though. We were on the same wavelength.
“But I was a little hesitant about her. Wanna know why?”
“Why?” asked Lindsay blandly.
“Well, I’ve been seeing this other woman—this cougar—this nun who is double my age. How old do you think I look?”
The couple looked at each other agape, hoping that the other would speak.
“Come on, how old?” the Ginger Boy smiled impishly, leaning forward on the back of his chair, which he had flipped wrongways. “Thirty? Thirty-five?”
“Sure. Could be,” said Lindsay without conviction.
“Twenty. I’m twenty years old,” he said. “I look older than I am. I know I do. It’s because I matured pretty quickly. That’s why I got this cougar into me—a priestess-cougar, for that matter. Ever wonder what it’d be like to be with a woman of the cloth? Or a man of the cloth,” he corrected himself to include the wife. “Well I’ll tell you, I’m down on my knees every night to pray. So’s she—down on her knees, I mean.” He once again poked Joshua with his elbow and chuckled. “Nah, I’m only half-joking. I’ll tell you, I stole this money—it wasn’t a lot, it was only twenty dollars—ok, it was a hundred—and I felt bad about it—it doesn’t matter where it was from although that’s a good story too—so I went to confess, you know, at the booth. I’m a recovering Catholic. Ha, ha. After I finished and I got my prayers I was supposed to say, that’s when I saw her. Let me tell you, I saw right through those nun’s clothes, that nun’s hat. I mean figuratively, of course. I mean what she was thinking, right through her hat.” He shook his head violently as if to try to get a bug out of his hair, or his head, and his earring made a jingling sound.
“Wimple,” said Lindsay.
“What’d you call me?” his eyes bulged and he stopped blinking. She could see the lines of his jaws, hard and angled. Tiny beads of perspiration appeared on her forehead and she stuttered. He threw his head back, howled, and playfully smacked her on the shoulder. “Come on, we’re related way back, sister. I didn’t even hear what you said, really. I just like to have fun with you guys.”
She laughed feebly.
The Ginger Boy pointed to his ear. “You’re probably wondering about my earring. Well, it’s a token. I’m wearing it because, well, we’re in love. Me and the nun, that is. She has the other earring. It shows that we are both one half of the other. Like those ‘Best Friends’ necklaces. Yeah, we’re trying to keep it quiet. Not because I’m embarrassed. No way. She could get in a lot of trouble if anyone found out about us. Our love is kind of forbidden. It’s like Romeo and Juliet or something. Really poetic.” He stopped to take a last drag on his cigarette before putting it out in the same way he had before.