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Pakalaki Memories: 5

Kirby Wright

Gramma's biggest fear was that she'd fall asleep smoking in bed and burn the hotel to the ground. She was so worried about fires that she kept a mini extinguisher in her val pack. She insisted on staying in the same room on the second floor because it was above the street and had a handy escape ladder. Gramma's room also had a view of Bishop Tower, my father's building. She said she could look out anytime and see him hard at work in his office. Occasionally, Gramma ordered room service. If I was over and she didn't finish something on her plate, I'd toss it out the window when she wasn't looking. Once I splattered a car's windshield with Eggs Florentine. Gramma didn't believe in giving tips so she earned a reputation as a skinflint. "Okole kala," I heard our Chinese waiter whisper to a bus boy after our Saturday breakfast of macadamia nut waffles in the coffee shop.

'I wannah visit my mothah's grave," she said after paying at the register.

"Granny?" I asked.

She grabbed a handful of peppermint candies out of a glass jar next to the register. "The one yah stole diamonds from," she said and dropped the candies into her purse. Ben and I had found a ring encrusted with diamonds in our father‘s World War II locker and we took turns prying out the stones. We‘d been caught and Ben decided Granny made us destroy the ring from the world of the dead because she didn‘t want our haole mother wearing it.

"Granny made me do it," I told Gramma.

"Yah bloody thief."

One thing about Gramma, she never let you forget a crime. But my criminal past wasn't enough to deny a visit to the bakery. The aroma of pastries wafted through the lobby as we walked a floor of black and white tiles. Gramma told me to stay on the black ones. A huge air conditioner blew out blasts of arctic air. There were glass cases loaded with eclairs, Danishes with swirls of apricot, raspberry and peach, and glistening bear claws. A haole baker in a chef's hat brought out a pan of poha berry cookies and stacked them in the cookie section. Haupia, guava and Black Forest cakes beckoned inside rotating displays. There was a special section featuring mint and rocky road brownies. The rocky roads were crammed with walnuts and had a layer of marshmallow below the fudge topping. The mints had a green layer.


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