"What sort of investment are you looking for?" Derek asked. Elena answered. "Investment is not the right word. Investment implies an ownership stake, and that is something we cannot grant. The arrangement with Mr. Nakamura has never been formalized. We can't expect anyone to step into a situation like that. Nor would we want it. We might offer a lease medium term or long term or lifetime lease on the house he built and the land it stands on. We might include the resort area, or manage it ourselves. That would depend on the person. We would require that no outside labor be brought in without our permission knowing that that limits what can be done here."
James thought about the series of mining and trading and political entrepreneurs he'd worked with over the years, some of them difficult and dangerous. "Do you care what nationality any investor what shall I say leaseholder would be?"
"No. We have adopted English as our working language, because of the opportunities it opens up to us; we'd want to be able to deal with the person in English. Naturally we'd investigate any offer, and the person behind it. To the extent possible, we would also consult Mr. Nakamura. He's widely acquainted, and we would respect his opinion. This is his legacy, and we will treat it with respect."
James wondered, "How much of this have you discussed with Nakamura?"
Malia responded. "Mr. Nakamura concern with what happen to island. He have no child, he know island belong to us. He always ask, never tell us what to do."
"He's from a world of handshake agreements," Elena added. "He may wish that someone could just step in as he did decades ago. But he knows how the world works now."
"He must have thought that someone tied to one of our companies might step in," James offered.
"I'm sure. And what do you think?"
Derek answered. "I think first of Richard Branson. And frankly I doubt it. He doesn't operate in this part of the world, and he already has Necker, which he owns outright. But he knows a lot of people, and I know a few. Now that we understand what you are making available, we can spread the word."
"I have to give you the same answer," James said. "I spoke with Peter Prost the other day from here, and he didn't want to hear anything about the island; his interest was in Nakamura's art collection. But he knows a lot of people, too, we both do."
Elena flashed anger. "We are not happy that he brought that collection here."
"He invited Heather Green to come this week, didn't he?"
"Do you know that she's with the Eisenthal Institute? Here specifically to investigate the collection?"
"No, I didn't know that."
"Last I saw, she and Helen were in an intense discussion about it. Liz thinks that Nakamura wanted that discussion to happen, and I agree. Just as I think Nakamura intended our discussion to happen. He may not tell you what to do, but he's been aggressive in opening possibilities."
Derek jumped in. "The success of a party is in the guest list."
Left alone, Liz went to the pavilion to see that Wolf was there, his empty breakfast plate still in front of him, a few unwashed dishes on the bar, the last of a pot of coffee on a warmer. She offered coffee to Wolf, and poured away the rest. Malia had plainly turned to other priorities. Liz drained cold dishwater from the sink and set about finishing with breakfast cleanup. Wolf wandered into the sun with his coffee to see Anjelo coming his way at a trot. They came into the pavilion together. Anjelo offered to take over the dishwashing. Wolf took a seat at the bar. Momentarily, Afitu followed his son into the kitchen. Afitu wore a waist wrap which he removed and tucked away when he arrived. Anjelo had arrived naked.
"We want to talk to Nakamura." It was Heather, Helen just behind her. Suddenly the pavilion was full, but this was no lunch crowd. Afitu responded to Heather's abruptness in kind. "Soon?" "As soon as we can." Anjelo looked to his father for guidance. Afitu gave him brief instructions in the local language, and Anjelo was off, running naked and barefoot into the sun. "We ask," Afitu told the women. Take seat. I get you anything?"
Liz watched Anjelo dash out of view. In a man's body, this was one of the naked children scampering about the village, running for the joy of running. He came back wet, panting. He'd swum the channel that lay between the resort and Mr. Nakamura's house. He relayed a message to Afitu. Afitu then let Heather and Helen know "Canoe ready. Mr. Nakamura see you now."
Malia rose from her bench, gesturing James and Derek to remain seated with one hand, shaking her dress with the other to straighten it. "Mr. Nakamura stay here as long he want, whole life OK with us. You understand. Not time to tell world he leave, not time to tell world we think he go jail. Thank you if you tell your boss, your friend, about island, about how Elena explain. Only them. They come visit, we welcome them." She made a slight bow, which Elena and then the men took as cue to stand. It was time to go.
They walked first to Elena's house, where her husband and little girl were tending their garden while an older woman with an infant watched from a nearby patch of shade. Elena said her goodbyes and stayed to join them. Malia led the men back to the resort's pavilion, where she joined Afitu and Anjelo. Derek went off to his cabin, and James went to his.
Liz was there, reading on her bed. "How was your walk with Malia?"
"Good. We met with Elena, the one with the New Zealand accent, the greeter at Nakamura's."
"I know her. We spent the night together last night in the village, sitting up with Malia."
"She's - they've - given their future a lot of thought; they're ready to lawyer up once they find the right people to deal with. Confidential, at this point, in deference to Nakamura. They definitely want me and want Derek to noise the opportunity around, though. You sat up all last night?"
"Kava party. A very, very, quiet kind of party. I'll tell you about it. But first, a piece of news from here. Heather and Helen are off, at their insistence, to talk with Nakamura."
"How does one insist on talking with Nakamura? Swim over and bang on the door?"
"They did it by asking Afitu," Liz explained, "with Anjelo doing the swimming, playing messenger. They had a canoe crewed up in minutes. I wouldn't have expected Nakamura to be so open to their visit, given his splendid isolation in that cement fortress."
"In fairness, it's a fortress against waves, not people. It doesn't really have a front door to knock on, or a gate to open. It's hard to know how to read it, or him. Good to know you can just ring up on the barefoot telephone. Listening to Malia and Elena today, it's clear that they are choosing what to bring in from outside and what to avoid. They could easily put phones in, but they just don't. And yet they send kids overseas to college."
"Malia told me last night that they credit Nakamura's investments with the ability to send kids to school."
"The word investment' is officially out, according to Elena. Implies ownership."
"I'll be careful."
"So, about the kava party?"
"Let's go find a place in the sun."
They walked toward the lagoon.