Jonathan Padua (b. 1981) is a Brooklyn-based writer born in Pearl City, HI. His publications include “The Distance From Here,” *Perpetual Magazine* (2008); “Events in Which…,” *A Thousand Faces* (2008); and “Survivor,” *pindeldyboz* (2009).
Padua’s awards include a Pushcart Prize Nomination in Fiction (2010) and Writer-in-Residence, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, NB (2013). He received his M.F.A. from New York University and a B.A. from University of Hawaii at Manoa.
EXCERPT FROM VIVA ALOHA
Bumpy Silva was the kind of Hawaii local that drove a Datsun pickup. You did not see Datsuns anymore, having been replaced by automobiles with better mileage, with better stereos, with better everything. It was a relic, sure, just as much as he was, but that didn’t stop him from driving it down from the valley onto the H-1 east, a good fifteen miles an hour less than the nicer cars around him, KCCN crackling through on the AM/FM, an old and dear friend sitting next to him in the passenger seat. To drive a Datsun flaking with rust in this modern year was to announce to everyone around you, I am old. I am poor. Bumpy Silva was cursed with both.
But he was proud of certain things. Not of the shit Datsun, no. If someone were to ask, he would offer:
He was a damn good farmer, in particular dealing with finicky plants whose potency was favored over their hardiness.
His lineage. Bumpy’s ancestors spanned the good part of a globe. German, Spanish, Portuguese. If he were to continue, he would have mentioned the lesser ones, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Tongan. All of which meant that Bumpy was a poi dog, and not handsome like the fair skinned hapas who advertised everything from guava juice to real estate. Bumpy was a mashing of so many ethnicities, a gathering of so many undesirable traits, that it was impossible to figure which was to blame just by looking at him. His skin was the color of red dirt, his eyes were narrow and pinched, and he had a nose so broad and flat it was if it had been pressed onto his face by a distracted maker. Bumpy Silva looked like a bonafide local.
He drove the Datsun down Kapahulu Avenue, due south, and then turned left when they hit the edge of Waikiki Beach. From there it was only a short drive down a shaded street, passing luxury condos and boutique hotels, until they pulled up into a single story water-stained complex, the ugliest and oldest building on the most beautiful coastline in the world. The parking lot was matted with wet, yellow leaves. He killed the engine, and the thing popped and hissed itself into silence.
“No swells,” Bumpy said. He didn’t even have to get out of his car to know. The doors of the Waikiki Canoe Club opened directly out into the ocean, and from where they were parked they had a clear view of what was in store of them: three miles of flat, pristine ocean so straight that Bumpy could take the old, near-rusted pistol he kept underneath the driver’s seat, shoot a round from his open window, and the ancient slug would find its gentle, slow end some miles out into the Pacific.