2.15.2019

the boys

I guess they are old now, but Jimmy and Owen don't look a bit different to me.
 Jim is Ruth's son. I met his parents first, when I was singing in the church choir, and then invaded their house. When they turned 21, Jimmy, as I can't help but call him, and his best bud Owen started showing up at the Sunrise Cafe, where I worked. They would talk story in unintelligible pidgen and toss back a few Olympia beers, I seem to recall. Jimmy often recounted how Owen had saved him, standing up for him when he was being bullied as the only haole kid in school.
     Months later, Jimmy became my boyfriend (after I dumped the guy who was into guns), and I displaced Owen when I moved into the canyon house, where Ruth now lives in a splendid addition to the old shack. Jimmy and his second wife ("the Lord sent her to me") live further up in the canyon in a collection of sheds, with chickens, dogs, horses, a mule, and Jimmy's visiting grandkids.
Jimmy and Katie's tented installation serves as living room, kitchen, tackroom, family room and office. Yes, they have internet and running water, but no plumbing. The other night Jimmy cooked Francolin Erkel—the laughing bird, like a pheasant—for dinner.
 When I met them, Jimmy was working with his father as a farmer, and Owen was working for his father as a carpenter. Later on, Jimmy worked for Owen's father as a carpenter and then, after a foray onto the mainland and into marriage, became a contractor himself. Owen and his four brothers continued working as a team for many years. "Their job sites were the quietest ever," says Jimmy. "Our sites are all, 'What are you doing? Not that way!' But they're a well oiled machine. Each knows what to do without even speaking."
   Owen and his oldest brother have retired from the family business, but the three younger ones continue on. Owen goes hunting about once a week. Hunting the feral goats and boars is a big "ting" on this part of the island. Owen uses a black-powder musket some, but prefers bow and arrow. He lives next door to his brother John, both bachelors, and they hang out in a garagelike outdoor space between houses that serves as kitchen and entertainment center. Their other brothers and many friends drop by for pupus and beer (the favorite now on Kauai, as everywhere, is Bud Lite) and cooking shows and and news shows.
   But Jimmy and Owen hardly ever see each other.
Owen still calls me Slick, which he named me almost 50 years ago. I took Owen the leftover Erkel that Jimmy cooked. He loved it. "James always did make good adobo," he said. "Especially goat."

In their gathering place, Owen and brother John check in on their shows. Owen still misses his dog, Gypsy, but John has recently acquired a chocolate lab puppy. Their household now feels more complete.

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