Ida’s best friend, Myrtle, lived in the local nursing home. Myrtle’s son, Howard, had moved his mother into the Hanalei Assisted Living Center a year ago after Myrtle had accidentally set her kitchen on fire. It was a simple mistake, one all of us have made. Myrtle had forgotten to turn off the burner after boiling water in her tea kettle. She had never had a ‘senior moment’ before and Howard latched onto this one with might. Myrtle knew that her son wanted her out of her bungalow so he could sell it to developers. Her house on the beach had become hot property. Myrtle was contacted almost weekly by some developer or another offering her an outrageous sum of money for her tiny little house. Howard had not thought twice before dropping his mother off at Hanalei Assisted Living and was probably living it up in Oahu with the fortune he’d acquired from selling Myrtle’s house.
Myrtle didn’t really mind too much. As a mother, she wanted her son to have everything he dreamed of having. If that meant putting her into assisted living and selling her house, then so be it. What she did mind was the center’s strict rules and prison style schedules. The director of the center refused to let patients go any where near the beach, let alone try to stand on a surfboard. They were relegated to exercising on a treadmill in the gym or walking the gardens attached to the backside of the center. The gardens backed up to a wildlife refuge, so the bird watching was good, but bird watching and surfing where incomparable. Myrtle longed for the ocean, her board and escape. Ida visited every day and the two of them would sit in the rockers on the large verandah that surrounded the main building, plotting Myrtle’s escape.
One day, Ida was explaining how she’d heard that you could mix a few drops of Visine into someone’s coffee and it would give that person explosive diarrhea. “We could put some in the security guard’s coffee and the orderly’s soda drink.” “That doesn’t really work.” Ida and Myrtle looked up as a tall older gentleman with stooped shoulders dragged a rocker over and settled himself in it. “Bernard Muller. I don’t mean to listen in but I want the same thing you two seem to want. Freedom and surf.” After Bernard, came Lelani Kahale who wasn’t so much interested in surfing as she was just being able to get in the ocean with her snorkel, mask and spear for fishing. Lelani brought Alexi Sokolov into the group. She’d been eating her meals with this man since she moved into the center and he told her fantastical stories of being a Russian spy. She thought his skills might come in handy.
So now, they were a group of five, not counting Ida’s new apprentice, Floyd who didn’t realize yet that he was also a part of this group and would in fact play a pivotal role in their escape plan.