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Meeting Jack on Kahala Beach

A Very Special Conversation

 

 

 

The following is entirely fictitious - that is, it did not happen, but wish it had happened.

I was walking along Kahala Beach when I saw Jack on his lanai, painting.

"Hey, Jack! Whatcha painting?" I called up to him.

"The sunset," he called back down to me as he wiped excess paint from his brush.

"What sunset?" I asked him. "It's 9:00 in the morning. Don't you mean the sunrise?"

"The sunset is in my mind," he told me.

"You have a sunset in your mind?" I asked. "Isn't it kinda hot?"

He gave me that disapproving look I knew so well and turned back to his painting. Clearly, he had brushed me off.

"Hey, Jack!" I tried again. "Why don't you come down here and talk to me?"

He ignored me.

"Don't be offended. I was teasing you," I called up to him.

"I'm not offended. I'm busy. This sunset has to be ready to go on the wall of the governor's office for the next episode."

"Can I see it?"

"The next episode? Sure! Tune in on Monday night at 9:00," he told me.

"Not the episode. Your painting."

"Tune in on Monday night at 9:00," he repeated.

"Come on, Jack! It'll be months before that episode airs."

"Then, you can tune in every Monday night at 9:00," he informed me.

"Did anyone ever tell you you're a pain in the neck?" I asked him.

I could tell that he was chuckling under his breath. Not even his great acting ability could hide it. Before I could ask him anything else, the sliding glass door opened, and Marie stepped out.

"Who are you talking to, Mick?" she asked.

"Someone who thinks I'm a pain in the neck."

She peered over the balcony and looked down at me. "Are you talking about that lady in the polka-dot blouse?" she asked.

"Um hm. I told her I'm busy, but she keeps hounding me."

"Then, go down and talk to her. Give her an autograph. That's all she wants."

"Marie, if I gave every woman who walks by here an autograph, I'd never get anything done. Besides, this is the first day off I've had since..."

"...Since the last day off you had?" I asked, calling up to him.

Now, Jack was growing angry. He couldn't fight Marie and me, after all. Setting down his paint brush, he took a step toward the railing, grasped it, and leveled a steady gaze upon me. Despite the distance, we were eyeball to eyeball.

"Now, see here, Miss... I've told you politely that I'm busy. Now, I'm going to tell you point-blank: If you want to stand there and call up to me, I'm going to have no choice but to call Security."

"You'd sic Security on me? Really, Jack?" I asked, feigning surprise.

He took a step back, pointed his finger at me, raised one eyebrow, and said, "You don't want to find out. Believe me."

I laughed merrily and continued my stroll along Kahala Beach. I'd just had a conversation I would remember for the rest of my life. The painting? Yes. It was on the show, and in my opinion, it is one of the best paintings Jack ever did. You've seen it: A golden sky with waves crashing against the shore. There's a certain fierceness to it. I wonder if I inspired that fierceness. I suppose I'll never know, but I do know this: Jack didn't sic Security on me, not then and not any of a half-dozen other times I called up to him while he painted.

 

* * *

 

I suppose six or eight months passed before I saw Jack again. It was a cloudy Sunday afternoon, and he was painting on his lanai. I was sitting on a bench on the peninsula behind his condo, lost in thought, as I listened to the waves lapping against the rocks that supported the peninsula. Just ahead, an outrigger canoe from The Kahala was making its way back to shore after taking a group of hotel guests for a ride across the bay. The rowers looked tired. Of course, they were not professional rowers, but hotel guests, who probably never had rowed a boat before in their lives.

“Taking in the scenery?” a voice asked as a figure sat beside me.

I didn’t have to look around to know who it was, although I did look around at the tall, strapping man. Gone were the aloha shirt, white slacks, white boots, and lauhala hat I had seen in photographs of him. In their places were a white cotton pullover, yellow shorts, and navy-blue tennis shoes.

I nodded and said, “There’s something very spiritual about this spot.”

“That’s possible. King Kamehameha the Great came ashore here. There could have been bloodshed on this very spot.”

“Then, this may be a burial ground,” I deduced.

“It’s possible,” Jack agreed. “Would you like to come up for some plantation tea?”

I shook my head. “I don’t want to intrude. Teasing you for a few minutes is one thing, but . . .”

“Marie’s feelings will be hurt, if you don’t.”

I had to smile, and I looked around at the building where Jack lived. Sure enough, Marie was standing on the lanai, waving for us to come on. I waved back to her and arose. Jack arose, as well, and we made our way to his apartment.

Marie met us at the door with a warm smile. “Come in, Tweety,” she greeted me.

 

"Tweety?" I asked.

 

“I said you were a sweetie for taking the time to banter with Mick that day. Ever since, he has called you Tweety.”

 

I had to laugh as I cast a doubtful eye upon the man in question. I asked, “Should

I take that as a compliment?”

 

“By all means,” the couple chorused.

 

“Come on in,” Marie prodded me. “I’ve made a cheesecake, and if we don’t have slices, Mick will eat it all, himself.”

 

“That would never do,” I replied, getting into the spirit of the conversation.

 

“Marie’s afraid I’ll get fat,” Jack replied.

 

“I doubt that would happen. You’re too active.”

 

“That’s what I tell her, but the cacciatore comes less frequently these days, and the portions get smaller.”

 

“Cacciatore on top of . . .,” Marie reminded her husband.

 

He cut her off. “Just serve the cheesecake, Doll,” Jack commanded her, albeit in good-natured tones.

 

As Marie disappeared into the kitchen, which I noticed had pumpkin-colored cabinets and stainless-steel appliances, Jack led me into the spacious living room. It was furnished as a typical mid-century modern room and was devoid of anything luxurious, except for the paintings that adorned the white walls. There hung the works of Gauguin, Manet, Renoir, Charlot, and, yes, Lord. I paused to study each one.

“Can you identify the artists?” he asked me.

I nodded. “Fatata Te Miti by Paul Gauguin. Mother With Child on Back by Jean Charlot. Summer Palaces by John J. P. Ryan . . .”

“Jack Lord,” he amended.

“At that point in time?” I asked.

“Jack Lord,” he repeated.

I gave a nod and said, “I like it.” I moved down the row and identified the next painting. “Argenteuil sur Seine by Edouard Manet.”

“Are you an art historian?” he asked.

“No, but my teacher has given me an appreciation of some of the masters’ works,” I replied through a smile.

“Who is your teacher?”

“Jack Lord,” I replied.

A curious smile crept across his face, and he cocked his head. “I don’t understand.”

“You taught us all on Hawaii Five-0. In “How to Steal a Masterpiece,” for one. In “Highest Castle, Deepest Grave” for . . .”

“Ah, yes! Duncan’s studio.”

I nodded and gave a nod toward the Manet. “I own a print of that. It hangs over my desk and is one of my favorites.”

“What else do you own?”

“Several of your lithographs: Sand Island was my first and is my favorite. Leahi, Brown Irises, one of the trial editions of The Sisters . . .”

 

“But why do you like my Sunday paintings?”

 

“As you once said, you let the extraneous details slip through the net, and you put the substance on the canvass.”

“I try to.”

“You succeed.”

“Have I painted anything you don’t like?” he asked me.

“At first, I wasn’t very fond of Anthuriums, but I bought it, because it was signed for a friend and was numbered 5-0. It grew on me and now is a special favorite that I like for reasons I don’t even understand.”

“Interesting,” he replied as he studied me. “What other artists do you own?”

“I have two colonial floral prints by Robert Furber.”

“The Williamsburg prints.”

“Yes. I have June and July. I also have a delightful pink dogwood by a woman in Kentucky. Her name escapes me, now. She calls it Weaver’s Branch. And I have two unnamed watercolors by a woman from south Louisiana, Camille Foret.”

“Just so it’s not all about me.”

 

I shook my head. “By the way, I like your sunset. I tried to make a screen capture of it, but a lampshade was in the way and cast a shadow.”

He chuckled. “Do you have any Hawaiian art?”

“Several prints by John Kelly. They are printed on menu covers from the Royal Hawaiian.”

“I know those, yes,” Jack replied as Marie came in. She carried a tray bearing our plantation tea and cheesecake. Jack took it from her and set it on the coffee table, and we sat down.

“So, thank you,” I said, “for giving me an appreciation of art. Before, I knew pitifully little about art – not that I know very much about it, even now.”

“I told you so,” Marie told her husband. “Mick doesn’t believe the show had any intrinsic value.”

“Not true,” I insisted. “I’ve learned about Hawaiian history and culture, the Navy and Coast Guard, and oh, so many more things. Something will spark an interest, and I’ll go and look it up and learn more than can be shared on the show.”

“Precisely!” Marie exclaimed. “I always said Mick should be a teacher.”

“He is a teacher,” I affirmed with a smile at Jack.

 

###

Part 1 written 31 December 2013, edited 27 March 2014 and 30 January 2024

© 2013, Virginia Tolles. All rights reserved.

Part 2 written 30 May 2015, edited 30 January 2024

© 2015, Virginia Tolles. All rights reserved.

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