This arti­cle is part 1 of 9 in the series The Maui Condiments

My name is Michael Tate.

I am an assassin.

As I’ve not­ed before, I try to be selec­tive regard­ing the assign­ments I accept and con­fine my work to the elim­i­na­tion of only the most heinous and dan­ger­ous characters.

While most of my “com­mis­sions” begin with a some­what anony­mous let­ter set­ting up a per­son­al meet­ing to be giv­en all the par­tic­u­lars, the lat­est request came in the mail as a pack­age con­tain­ing tick­ets to the des­ti­na­tion where the assign­ment — if I chose to accept it — would be car­ried out.

That des­ti­na­tion was also the place of con­tact with the per­son who would be pro­vid­ing all the addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion I would require to com­plete the job.

And while I am, and always have been, ret­i­cent about trav­el­ing long dis­tances, the prospect of going to Maui, Hawaii was not one that I looked upon with much approbation.

I had nev­er been to the islands but had always assumed that they were a most desir­able des­ti­na­tion and a pleas­ant locale.  Now I would have a chance to find out.

It was also entic­ing to dis­cov­er that flight tick­ets for the trip were includ­ed in the pack­age and that the long legs of the flight, from Chicago to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Maui, would be in first class.  I knew from expe­ri­ence that there was no way that I would spend sev­er­al hours in a full-to-capac­i­ty air­plane jammed between two gross­ly over­weight pas­sen­gers over whom I would have to crawl in order to vis­it the lavatory.

The short note that accom­pa­nied the pack­age was signed by an old acquain­tance, Lionel Trane, L.T. for short, who would also be meet­ing me in Maui to fur­ther fill me in.

The only unfor­tu­nate thing about most of my assign­ments is that it is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to pre­de­ter­mine whether or not I should attempt to take weapons along with me.

Of course, the last assign­ment which sent me to China was a no-brain­er.  The pos­si­bil­i­ty of get­ting weapons into that closed-off coun­try was vir­tu­al­ly nil.

Traveling to Hawaii was some­what dif­fer­ent.  As a U.S. cit­i­zen, fly­ing from one state to anoth­er, it is quite pos­si­ble to con­ceal weapons in checked lug­gage.  A rifle can be bro­ken down and some of the parts placed in a sep­a­rate bag with golf clubs, while the ammu­ni­tion and oth­er small parts of the rifle can be hid­den in the spe­cial pock­ets built into my pull­man bag.

However, Hawaii, like most oth­er states, con­tains gun shops.  I knew that, should I decide on an elim­i­na­tion method requir­ing firearms, I could pro­cure them there or have L.T. do so.

I hap­pen to know that L.T. is a man with many tal­ents… and many contacts.

L.T.‘s short note indi­cat­ed that if I chose not to take the assign­ment, it would be a no-fault trip.  I could stay on as long as I liked for a vaca­tion and the costs for the trav­el and hotel would still be covered.

Hardly a deal to turn down!

My tick­ets sched­uled me to leave in two days so I set about get­ting things togeth­er and ready for pack­ing.  I also vis­it­ed the AAA office in Lexington to secure some trav­el brochures for Maui so I could acquaint myself with some of the attrac­tions there and famil­iar­ize myself with the streets and roads on the island.

I let Nelson, my neigh­bor and the per­son who does all the farm work here, know that I would be gone for prob­a­bly two weeks and asked him to keep an eye on the house.

Accepting the day’s mail deliv­ery on the day before my depar­ture, I informed LeAnn that I would be gone and asked her to hold my mail until my return.

Two days fol­low­ing the deliv­ery of the pack­age, I drove to Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, parked the Lexus in the long-term park­ing lot, and entered the ter­mi­nal to check my bag­gage and await depar­ture for Chicago

The secu­ri­ty check­point was not par­tic­u­lar­ly busy at the time I arrived, so my pas­sage through was quick and effi­cient.  As I was putting my shoes back on, the TSA agent asked me to open my car­ry-on — a brief­case. I read­i­ly oblig­ed with the warmest smile I could muster and he quick­ly scanned the con­tents, found them quite inno­cent, and motioned me on.

I picked up a cou­ple of mag­a­zines from a store on the con­course, even though I had brought along a cou­ple of paper­back books to read as well.  Sometimes it’s dif­fi­cult to stay focused on a nov­el and a break for some mag­a­zine arti­cles can help pass the time more quick­ly.  I got a copy of Skeptic mag­a­zine and a puz­zle book of log­ic puzzles.

I also grabbed a break­fast sand­wich and a large black cof­fee since I had not eat­en before leav­ing the house and it was still ear­ly in the day.  I would be reach­ing Maui in the after­noon of the same day I left.  Amazing what the speed of jet trav­el and a six-hour time dif­fer­ence makes when one is trav­el­ing west.  Of course, these two things work the same way trav­el­ing east, but they seem to work against a per­son going in that direction.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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