Passing through the ruined village of Kalapana only affirmed Gavin’s feelings of dread as he followed Uncle Aka and Maile to Captain Jack’s. Nothing remained of the town’s center, save for a salvaged nineteenth-century church up on blocks and the melted remnant of a plastic drive-in restaurant sign. As Aka’s old pickup wiggled down the long stony driveway toward the old sailor’s cabin, Gavin maneuvered Maile’s Jeep around thick tongues of lava that had spilled onto the road—vivid signs of the eruption that on the night of the murder made Jimmy wonder whether anyone actually lived down there.
The rain, which no doubt still pounded Hilo, had played out a few miles beyond Pahoa, but the overcast sky and impending nightfall made the trip seem all the more ominous. Gavin noticed the eerie yellow glow on the coconut palms—from the cabin’s lanai light—that had drawn Jimmy down the road that night. For a moment Gavin pictured himself safely back on Mauna Kea, perusing the latest issue of Sky and Telescope in front of the base camp fireplace, far removed from the mysterious undertones of an island culture he could never hope to understand.
He reached the ramshackle cabin just as Maile stepped out of Aka’s truck, her face even grimmer than that night they’d seen the men at the skylight.