“He dresses like an idiot”
The first time Bernie Benedict, the chief of police from Bolsa Chico, California met the shark goddess and queen of Kupaio was when he walked onto the beach in search of his wife, Sylvia. There, he came face to face with the ‘café au lait beauty’ named Dauna. Dauna was a boni fide Fijian shark goddess who was over three-thousand years old. She’d been born with the Fijian name Daucina which means ‘the light giver.’
In the 1960s, Daucina shortened her name to Dauna after deciding the long version of her name was too tiring to write when signing checks.
Dauna would not have taken a second look at the colorblind tourist, if not alerted by his ‘screaming’ Bermuda shorts and mismatched aloha shirt upon which hung a tag announcing, “Bula! My name is…Bernie.”
Afraid that she might be blinded by Mr. Benedict’s clothing, Dauna took her sunglasses from the belt of her parreo and put them on. She stared at the schlub in disbelief until he became uncomfortable, dizzy and confused. Wait, he thought trying to focus himself, I’m at the dock waiting for, uh, what’s-her name… Wife? Yeah. Sally or something. Bernie tried to focus his mind by trying to determine whether her delectable tan could be described as toffee, butterscotch or caramel in color. Dauna laughed when he drooled on his name tag.
While Bernie was calculating the curves of possible tan lines beneath her parreo, the village sage, a tiny, ancient crone named Lupta, approached Dauna and whispered into Her Majesty’s ear, “The white meat’s name is Bernie Benedict, Your Heinie. You briefly met his great—great —-grandfather, *Samuel “Beans” Benedict, the sailor who brought coffee beans to our island many years ago. When you turned two-thousand and seventeen years old, Chief Paua Moa’s magical coffee grounds predicted that his decendant, another Benedict would carry your family jewels and save your empire.”
“SHUT THE באַרען up, לאָך WAFFLE!” screamed Dauna, causing a group of ‘shocked’ Christian tourists to spill their cups of Outtamywayasshole Coffee while they ran back toward the Nyah-Wassup Dock, . “Oh, sorry, all. That was my Tourette’s speaking,” she told them. “What I meant to say was ‘Shut the באַרען up, לאָך waffle!’”
“All offense taken, my queen,” said the crone.
Amid the gutter language, the remaining ‘heathen’ tourists were focused on Bernie’s ugly shorts, staring, as if he were a nudist-filled car wreck inside of a Walmart.
“That…schlub,” said Lupta, employing an old Fijian term, “will someday bear your fruit, Dearie, I meanYour Heinieness.”
“P’leeeeease. Fruit? You know that I pass out at the sight of juice. That slob? Really? Dauna’s curiosity was being aroused — as was the schlub who was staring at her pectorals. My ampullae of Lorenzini (sharkie sensing organs) have never felt like this. Oooh, It’s warming up down south, she thought as her tail end began its hypnotic sway.
Bernie, in return, could not take his eyes off the luscious, shifting form beneath her lucky parreo. Lucky? Lucky? Why did I think the parreo was lucky, as if it were somehow alive? He watched ‘Her Heinie’ draw down an entire cigarette in a single slow breath. The temptress was making Bernie uncomfortable as she took serious ‘inventory’ of his Bermudas. Her big eyes, behind the sunglasses, seemed to go ‘click click click. The goddess had been born with a pornographic memory.
Smoldering and delicious, Bernie thought. Like roasting s’mores over a dying campfire.
Bernie aimed his Nikon to snap a memory of the Queen of Kupaio. The camera flared, fell and melted in the sand. Being a shark goddess, she began to circle the white meat. Bernie had a premonition: Either he was going to be eaten by, or married to, the alluring ‘creature.’
Same damned thing. His plaid-clad boner didn’t care.
Dauna’s spell was broken when the captain of the dive boat called the tourists back on board. Bernie’s heart was racing as ‘Little Bernie’ turned him around for one last look. She was gone. He would never forget her.
Nor would she forget the funny looking human who would, someday, determine her future.
Every so often, in the silence of the tropic night, a mysterious breeze carrying the name “Bernie” would gently jingle the chimes of Dauna’s fun foyer. “Berrrrrnie. Berrrrrrrrnie. Bula! My name is Bernie”
(Sad violin music.) But forsooth, dear readers, for after Bernie had left the island, Dauna was to be married.
An arranged marriage…
…to another shark god. A gold-plated schmuck-on-fins named Bunji.
Dauna, upset, drove off in her golf cart, running into some stuff along the way. Human stuff.
When he finally boarded the boat to Suva, Bernie found his wife, Sylvia asleep inside the boat’s cabin. She’d been drinking, again,. He wouldn’t ask questions. Bernie knew that he had already lost his marriage. Before their trip, Sylvia, a teacher, would often stumble through the front door at 8 p.m, drunk, with a ‘musty’ scent — and on her breath, a curious trace of Geritol.