Thursday, September 22, 2011
Snap or Pop
Jackie is not her real name. She sat down in the beach chair in my yard with a white towel wrapped around her hair and head. You know, turban style, like every woman does with long hair. She crossed her legs and took a bite of watermelon while collecting her thoughts.
I sat, pen and pad in hand a few feet away. Ben, also not his real name, stood next to the other beach chair leaning forward while eating his watermelon.
"Yummmm!" Jackie grinned from ear to ear as the cold watermelon juice drooled down her chin. "This is so good. Thanks!".
“Your welcome. Hits the spot after surfing. Doesn’t it?”
Jackie nodded, looking forward and down. “And there’s the spot. See?”
Ben and I both laughed as Jackie pointed to the spot, a wet drip running down her chin as she whipped it with her napkin.
“Well, as I was saying, I was born here. My mom left my father when I was three months old and took me to the mainland. We traveled to Florida and stayed with my parents. They, my grandparents, adopted me when I was about two years old. It was a bitter separation and divorce during which time my mom revealed how she was abused by my father.”
Jackie got up and started looking around for a place to dispose of the watermelon rind. “Where is your green waste trash?”
“Oh here, let me take that. Feel free to use the sink over there.”
I walked over to the big green waste bin by the fence and threw it in. I came back over and sat down and Jackie joined me having rinsed and dried her face.
“Where was I? Oh yeah,” Jackie continued. “We spent a few years in Florida at my grandparents home until my mom got on her feet. We then moved to Texas where I went to school and eventually to college. A few years ago I moved to Hollywood and started my new career in the fashion industry. During this whole time, my father never once tried to contact me. My mom told me he was into drugs and not a good person. It was never easy talking to her about him. She knew I was curious about ‘my dad’ but, this was always so painful for her to go back and recollect those memories.
I was about 13, when one evening we sat at the table in our kitchen after dinner, just the two of us. She told me everything I am telling you now. She had tears in her eyes. She was fifteen when she hooked-up with this guy who was a lot older than her. She had thought he was ‘so cool’ ‘funny’ at the time. I knew when I got up from the table that evening; it was going to be the last time we would ever talk about ‘that’ subject again."
There was another pause and Jackie was reflecting back.
"I have always wondered about him and the place, this place, where I was born. About a year ago I made the decision to come here and look at the home where I was born and this beautiful beach of which I had only seen pictures.” Looking at Ben now, smiling, “Ben said he would join me if I came here. Yesterday when you saw Ben and me strolling along the beach, we had just walked past the home in which I was born and where I spent my first three months of life.
By the way Craig, it was so nice of you, really to loan us surfboards to go surfing yesterday and today. You gave me something that really connected me to here. Thank you so much.”
“Your welcome”, I blushed, a little. “I’ll tell you more about this place some day.”
“Thank you! I’d like that.”
“Being here these past few days, I have tried to find out about my father. My father's parents owned the house in which I was born. They sold it in the mid to late eighties and apparently stayed in a care facility or old folks home after that. They have both since died. Ben and I talked to some of the neighbors here and we got some information my father is still on the island and living in the Makaha area.”
Jackie again paused. “If I had had any illusions about my Dad, these people have confirmed what my Mom had told me all those years ago. He's been in jail from being in and out of trouble his whole life.
Ben and I went out to Waianae and Makaha and tried to follow some leads but we came up empty-handed. Now, we have to leave to go back to work.”
We both sat quietly for a moment as I wrote her information down.
“It’s possible I might be able to find him,” I told her, “I know a lot of the people here and I have some police officer friends that might lend me a hand if I ask them to help me. Did you go by the store down the street and talk to them?”
“The one just down the street here? Yeah, we stopped there. But, the young man we talked to there told us we should see his mom and she's only there in the evenings.”
“I’ll ask her. She and her family have lived here their whole lives and they know everybody.”
Jackie smiled. “That would we great. Here, let me give you my e-mail.”
She took my pad and pen and wrote it down then handed it back to me.
“Okay! I’ll do what I can. Umm, I guess the question I have is this. If I do find him, what do you want me to do?”
Looking at me seriously, “Tell me what you think of him. Let me know what you think I should do.”
Now she had me thinking, “Okay! I will.”
Jackie and Ben collected their belongings and we said our farewells. I took a picture of them.
Checking my e-mail that after noon I received this: ‘Hi Craig, So nice meeting you and getting to chat with you. We just got to the airport and are about to take off. I think I might have left my sunglasses in the bathroom. They are gold Ray Ban aviators. If you find them please let me know.
Thanks again for everything!’
Reply: ‘Got um! If you want um, you have to come back. …Just kidding! Give me your address and I’ll mail them to you.’
That late afternoon I went down to our local Beach Store.
“Hey Janet. Howzit?”
“Hi Craig! Good! What’s up?”
“Humm, interesting you should ask that. I want to rack your brain a bit.”
“Does the last name Zackery (not their real name) name mean anything to you? They lived here in the early eighties to maybe the late eighties.”
“Yeah. Mrs. Zackery was a hula instructor. My older sister went to her halau for years. So did several of the girls who lived around here. They used to live down… by you, but that was years ago.”
“Yeah, I know. I just met their granddaughter.”
“Their granddaughter! They have a granddaughter here?”
“Not now, but she was here all last week from the mainland trying to find her father.”
“No kidding! Wow! Wait, let’s see, who was the father?”
“Rodney Zackery was the father?” She is looking at me with big eyes in disbelief, open mouthed.”
“Yep, according to Jackie.”
“That’s her name, Jackie? Does she know about Rodney?”
“She knows from her Mom that he was funny, cool, older and into drugs. That he was later abusive. Enough so for her Mom to leave him.”
“Yeah, he was trouble for sure. Weird, a little.” Janet said, tilting her lifted palm back and forth. “If you want to know about Rodney, you should go down and talk to Corbin. Do you know Corbin?”
“You mean the guy who rides around on the golf cart?”
“Yep, that’s him. He can fill your ears with stuff about Rodney.”
“So, when was the last time you saw Rodney?”
“Sheeez, years ago.”
“So you haven’t seen him since then?”
I left the store and rode back towards my house which goes right past Corbin’s house. As I approached the house Corbin was in his cart talking to his son in his drive way.
“Hi! Corbin, right? My name is Craig.”
“Hi, What’s up?”
“I was just talking to Janet and she suggested you might recall someone I am trying to find out more about. The other day a girl came in here looking for her long lost father. Rodney Zackery. That name strike a bell?”
“Oh Geez! It was a nice day! Rodney’s daughter? He has a daughter?”
“Yep! She’s twenty-eight. She was born here and her mom took her at the age of three months and moved away to Florida. When Jackie, was thirteen, her Mom told her all about this Rodney character. Drugs, trouble and more trouble.”
“You got that straight. I told that guy once, that if anything went missing, I would know were to find him.”
“Interesting! So….what became of him?”
“Haven’t seen him for years. His Mom had a Halau here for years. They were nice folks. She must have taught hula to half the girls here on Oahu Beach.”
Corbin basically told me exactly what Janet has shared. Hadn’t seen or heard of him for years.
Being on Facebook, I posted a caption as follows with a photo: ‘Jackie Swan was born on Oahu Beach in 1983. She is now twenty-eight years old. She moved to the mainland with her mom when she was three months old. Her boy friend, Ben, and her are in the picture here in my yard. This last week, the eleventh through the eighteenth of September, they were here on Oahu and specifically right here at Oahu Beach. It was the first time she's returned to the place of her birth.
She went surfing.’
One of my good personal Facebook friends asked me for more details. Rick and I grew up together in Kailua and he is now with a district attorney's office in California. By that afternoon I had Rodney’s address and phone number. Rick also confirmed the character background.
I called Paul Scott who was a life-long friend of mine and who had just retired a few years back from the Honolulu Prison. He was a corrections officer. Paul listened to my spill and when I got to ‘Rodney Zackery’ I heard him say: “Wait, wait, wait! What? Rodney Zackery?”
“Yes, Rodney Zackery.”
“Stop! Stop right there! Have you contacted him?”
“No. I just now got this information and was going to call him this evening.”
“No! Do not contact Rodney Zachery! He is a drug addict and he is big trouble. Did you say he's never tried to contact his daughter? What’s her name, Jackie?”
“No, as far as Jackie knows, he's never attempted to reach her.”
“There's a reason he's never contacted her. Listen very carefully Craig, although it really doesn't make any difference what the real reason is. He does not want any contact with her. If you go and contact him about her, you may find out the hard way. Just think about this for a second. He's never contacted his daughter and he has obviously never paid any child support. Do you have any idea how much back-money he owes for a child who's been to college?”
“Craig, a person on drugs is missing a few snaps that connect continuous logical thought. He may think you are someone there just for that reason and… where there was once a snap is now a pop!”
“I knew there was a reason I called you.”
“Are you coming over on Sunday?"
“Bring the beer!”
“What are you not going to do?”
“I am not going to call Rodney Zackery”
What would you do if you were me? What would you do if you were in Jackie’s shoes? I told Jackie, in my e-mail, who you know is not really Jackie, but someone who you probably know because you read this magazine, that I was going to have to bow out under sound advice.
If you were ‘Jackie’ what would you do?
Addendum: Rodney Zackery was 36 years old when he got Jackie’s Mom pregnant. Jackie’s Mom was either 14 or just 15. Jackie’s Mom was a student hula dancer in Mrs. Zackery’s Hula Halau (dance troop). I have no idea what exactly occurred but maybe something like this:
Let’s call Jackie’s Mom Cheryl. One day Cheryl came over to Mrs. Zachery’s Halau having been dropped off by her Mom and she found out from Rodney, her son, that the lesson’s today had been cancelled. Mrs. Zackery had gone to the Big Isle to attend a funeral for a family member. Cheryl had come to know Rodney, a kind of cool older guy always cracking jokes and goofing off. She liked him. He was always smiling at her and made her feel good. Now he was inviting her inside to ‘hang out’ for the next two hours until her Mom would pick her up…
Cheryl is catholic. Abortion was not even a consideration. Move? Place charges?
And then there is Rodney. What sort of life do you think he has had? When I got his address information it included that he had been 'on the move' with no permanent residence since... well the records went back only 10 years. So we now know what the probable reason for his disappearance. He is probably guilty of statutory rape. Hawaii's age of consent is 16.