I almost didn’t pick up the call, but I’m glad I did.
“Mr. Deep End?” The female voice was a bit breathy, reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe in her prime. But there was also a trace of a lilting accent, a voice you’d fantasize on a tropical beach, in the background the soft murmur of rolling surf, and in the air the caressing sparkle of slanting sunshine.
“No need to be formal. Call me D.P.,” I said. “And to whom have I the pleasure of speaking?”
“This is Lennay Kekua,” she said in the defiant tone of someone who doesn’t expect to be believed.
“The Lennay Kekua?” I asked. “The dead girlfriend of Manti Te’o, the cancer-stricken hottie who told Manti to go out there and win one for the Gipper?”
“The very one,” she said, her tone of defiance softening into a relieved resignation, as if she had taken an irretrievable step into hostile territory.
“What can I do for you?” The last thing I wanted to do was scare her off the line, so I stayed matter-of-fact, professional and totally nonplussed, even though my pulse was racing with the monumental scoop that had just buzzed its way across the ether to my modest cellular device.
“So, you believe in me?” Miss Kekua said. “You believe that I actually exist?”
“Hey, I take your word for it. I believe in all sorts of beings that your ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill folk don’t believe in. I believe in Richard Burwash, for example, the debonair journalist and jack-of-all-trades who blazed across our polluted horizon a while back, the same Richard Burwash who the vast majority of Utahns thought was just a figment of West Valley Mayor Mike Winder’s rich and fanciful ideation. But I have the last laugh—no one today remembers Mike Winder, but everyone knows the name of Richard Burwash, whether they believe in him or not.”
“I have a confession to make,” Miss Kekua said, her breathy voice subsiding to a vixenish whisper. “Dick Burwash—his close friends call him Dick—Dick Burwash is the one who gave me your name and told me I could trust you with my life. Dick is a close, personal friend of mine, but he’s just a friend, despite the innuendoes of people who are jealous of our relationship and think that just because we frolic in cyberspace, we must be having sex. It’s just a spiritual thing between us.”
I decided to plunge right in and ask the question on everyone’s lips.
“I hope you don’t think I’m being too forward, Miss Kekua, but our readers would like to know the nature of your relationship with Mr. Manti Te’o.”
The silence on the other end of the line was not just deafening, it was earsplitting, decibel- wise. I could tell that Miss Kekua was gathering herself for a retort way on top of the indignation scale.
“Are implying that Manti and me were violating the vows of chastity? Let me tell you something, Mr. Deep End—is that some sort of foreign name? Before someone spilled the beans that I didn’t have a car accident and that I didn’t die of leukemia, me and Manti were planning on getting married in the temple for time and all eternity. I bet you and your readers at City Weekly don’t believe that two people, even if one is imaginary, can love each other in a deep, spiritual way without making the beast with two backs, as they say in the Bible.”
I took a deep breath.
“With all due respect, Miss Kekua, you’ll have to admit that it’s hard to get your mind, let alone your body, around the idea of two people—real, imaginary or otherwise—having a relationship for three years without some contact of a corporeal nature.”
“As Samuel the Lamanite says in the Book of Nephi, ‘O ye of little faith.’ I bet you’re one of those skeptics who wonder how the Nephites and Lamanites and Jaredites and Mulakites propagated their peoples without the existence of female-type characters in the Book of Mormon—”
I had to break in. “Whoa, Nellie, Miss Kekua, you’re wrong about the imaginary females in the Book of Mormon. What about Abish? What about the nameless queen of Lamoni? What about Jared’s nameless, naked dancing daughter? And long-suffering Sariah? Those dames are no more fictional than you.”
For a second, I could her faint breathing, and then it ceased.
“Miss Kekua? Can you hear me? Are you there?”