The Kailua bums never came and never went.
At least, that’s how I’d start my first novel. Or, maybe I’d lead with, Embedded, like larvae, deep within the viens and cartilage and sinew of our Grader-A Town, the Kailua Bums grew wings as we entered the epoch of the fly, the appocolistic era following onset of severe and frequent climate “disasters.” There disasters only to the extent humans get messed up. Geologic or climatic events when no humans are harmed in the making. I’d write them all, of course, under my pen-name, Jeff Maxwell. I’m alway writing first sentences of novels I never write.
And I’m serious though. The Kailua Bums are real. Their lives before assention to the ranks vary widely, but often share generalized themes–drugs, mental illness, misguided youth, misguided maturity, too, I’m sure.
Kailua Newcomers often like to think, when they discover one Kailua bum or another, that they finally found the lore-filled town of their cinematic upbringing. The added benefit is that the Kailua bums help the Newcomer become Part of the Town. The watering hole badge of authenticity. Of course I know Mango Man! Living legend. Urban legend. Stands on the corner. Strong, sad, and silent. Army jacket, bust up walker, and knee-length dreadlocks.
Mango Man belongs to Kailua. Kailua folks swap Mango Man vignettes with each other and also tell non-Kailua folks about the street person of mythical stature. Let’s visit and interview him whilst hospitalized, for our monthly publication, and ask him if he knows of his position and importance and, gosh, Mr. Mango, with that hospital haircut and wash you don’t quite cut your usual iconic figure. Do grow your matted locks quickly, oh please do. I have family visiting in April–their town doesn’t even have a Mango Man. Damn shame. And their median home sales price reflects that deficiency. He’s right about that. The Kailua Realtors Association attributes to Mango Man roughly eight-tenths of one percent of all Kailua realty value. It’s called Mango Appreciation. Commercial, residential, doesn’t make a difference.