Diamond Head

It was a typical morning - we awoke at sunrise, dined on pancakes, painted everyone with sunblock and stood by the door for at least 7 minutes while the boys donned their shoes. We rode the elevator down to the basement. I was making sure all passengers were buckled into the back of the van properly when the long pedigree of poor performance sank to new lows. Wife, in her usual eagle-eyed manner, spied two cockroaches on the windshield. The unfortunate portion of this story is that they were not just on the windshield, they were inside the van. We had seen one the day before and foolishly thought it was an errant hitchhiker but sighting this pair firmed up the reality that this van was going to over-deliver in the disappointment department.

I managed to whisk one out of the vehicle and stomped it while the other one scurried up and disappeared into the headliner. I then coaxed wife into the passenger seat and began the short drive up to Diamond Head. We were three minutes into a peaceful drive and headed south on Leahi Avenue when Wife blurted out, “I used to think this van was pitiful. Now I just hate it.” I had scarcely made the turn onto Monsarrat Avenue when she screamed out, “there’s another one! Kill it, kill it, kill it!” I pointed out the obvious and curtly stated, “I’m driving. Use your shoe.” She responded in a sure, confident and direct tone, “I might miss it. Stop the car! Stop the car!” I pulled over at the next block and by that time the insect had heard enough commotion and retreated back into the headliner.

A distrustful calm came over the passenger area. Sensing a lull in the action, the five-year-old in the back seat seeked clarification of the events. In true scientific form, he combined all the facts he knew of the situation and distilled the important parts of the previous three minutes into a five-word query that painted a perfect portrait in such succinct detail there is little reason for me to continue typing. He asked, “Did you kill the cockscreech?” The van erupted with laughter and provided enough levity to get the vehicle rolling again.

Heading toward our destination, the sunlight was low on the horizon and blaring straight into us. I reached up, pulled down the visor to shield my view and defensively surveyed the headliner to see if anything was lurking above. Sure enough, another cockscreech was just sitting there twitching its tentacles. Wife was busy being grossed out by the entire situation and muttering that she was never going to ride in the front seat again so I took a moment to weigh my options. I could drive forth in relative visual comfort and hope it retreated like the others or I could conceal the horror and hope for the best. I reached up and while deftly securing the sun visor to rest against the headliner, I turned with calm and unsuspicious grace to see if Wife had noticed my short-lived use of the one standard feature on this van that actually worked properly. She hadn’t. I was in the clear and continued squinting undetected to Diamond Head.

We arrived at the crater without further insect interruptions. After driving through the tunnel, we were greeted by a parking attendant, paid our money at the booth and drove forth into the parking area. In all their managerial wisdom, the bright individuals operating Diamond Head failed to keep track of the parking spaces occupied. They continued to let cars into the full lot and it became a game of musical chairs as cars circled with contention. The idling-in-wait only fueled the hatred for our cockscreech chariot and after what seemed like an eternity, we snared a spot and exited the vehicle.

After our ascent to the bunker located on the edge of the crater, Wife, true to her word rode in the back with the boys. We never saw another insect and the next morning I returned the van to the rental location. Miss No Name asked if I would like a ride back. I politely declined without hesitation, exited the lot on foot and walked twelve blocks back to the condo. In the course of 18 days the Dodge delivered us to every destination without extravagance, class, vanity and, amazingly, without failure. It was worth its weight in character and will forever serve as the low watermark for all other rentals that follow.