Big Island Guidebook
The historical site had earned a Worth-a-Look rating in his Big Island guidebook and he had purposely driven an hour out of their way down a deserted patch of gravel road to find it.
He took the lead and hiked up the path, sweating. A wooden sign, staked in the middle of a pile of stones, was marked “Site of the Battle of Moku’ohai”.
He didn’t exactly know what he expected to see, but certainly not this barren lava field overgrown with yellowed shrub grass and twisted trees. No historic markers or monuments. No ruins. He searched for a place to focus for a photo, but under the intense sun, everything looked colorless and embarrassingly the same.
He walked over to the pile of stones holding up the sign. Crouching down, he picked up one of the loose rocks as a gust of wind rose up from the ocean and circled him.
The stone-slinger’s heart felt near to bursting with fear and excitement. It was the first time he’d gone to battle. He was only an inexperienced keiki compared to the muscular, tattooed warriors fighting to the death with jabs, swings and kicks.
As he dodged a thrown spear, he lost his footing and tumbled into a crevice. When he came to, the first thing he heard was a deep voice chanting. Then, as he peeked over the lava outcropping, he glimpsed barbed spear-tips followed by the most splendid feathered helmet he had ever seen.
It was the enemy chieftain and his bodyguards. King Kiwalaʻo himself stood just three canoe-lengths from his hiding place.
He reached for a stone in the woven pouch tied to his waist. A pang of fright— it was empty! Then he felt around the hollow cavity that hid him. Guided by an unseen Protector, his trembling fingers landed on a piece of porous rock that fit perfectly in his hand. He had one shot.
He swallowed hard and rose up from his hiding place, not caring he would draw the enemy’s attention. The nearest warrior spotted him and shouted a warning as he spun the sling with a circling arm.
Breathing steady, he took aim and let it fly. It was a perfect shot. The rock slammed into the chieftain’s forehead, knocking off his helmet. The great Kiwalaʻo let out a grunt, staggered to his knees and then went down in a heap.
Run! Run now! Every warrior must learn to run sometimes…
His breath came in spurts as he dodged the enemy’s spears and scrambled over the boulders. Running, he disappeared through the twisted trees, a gust of wind at his back.
The tourist lets the stone fall from his fingers, stands up and wipes his hand on his shorts.
“Stacy!” he calls out to his wife, still sitting in the rental car with the windows rolled down. “Wild goose chase.” He walks toward her. “Don’t bother getting out. Nothing here except a pile of rocks.”