ALOHA, WALTER

B Huff

 

September 1970

 

Walter Stuart sauntered into the Five-0 office space and stopped at the desk of Jenny Sherman, executive secretary. The newly-retired man had never darkened the Palace doors dressed as casually as he was now. Sporting a grey and peach aloha shirt and khaki slacks, he glanced around uncomfortably and stroked his goatee.

 

"Walter, I didn't expect to see you again so soon," Jenny greeted as she hung up the phone. "I don't think I've ever had so much fun at a retirement party."

 

"I would've retired sooner if I'd known I would cause so much joy for everyone," Stuart joked distractedly as his eyes wandered to the office spaces along the wall. "Is the kid around?"

 

"Danny's at HPD - I'm not sure how long he'll be. Do you want me to call him?"

 

Stuart cleared his throat. "Ah, um… no, Jenny, thank you. It's not that… that… well, I'll catch him another time, I'm sure. Millie is expecting me home shortly."

 

The secretary studied the former attorney general. "I'm sure Danny is sorry he missed your soiree last night - weather on the Mainland held up his flight."

 

"Steve mentioned that," Stuart frowned. "Perhaps I'll leave him a note - may I borrow a pen and paper?"

 

"Of course," Jenny smiled and smoothly slid a notepad and pen across her desk.

 

The man offered a tentative smile. "I'll sit over here for a minute."

 

"Take your time, Walter." Jenny turned back to her typewriter, but watched her guest from the corner of her eye as he sat and composed his message. It was no secret that there had been tension between the attorney general and Williams ever since the young detective accepted the appointment to Five-0.

 

Stuart had been a vocal dissenter of McGarrett's decision to bring the young HPD officer (too young AND inexperienced, Stuart was convinced) into the elite unit. Never willing to admit he'd been wrong, the attorney general wasted no opportunity to point out Williams' shortcomings. McGarrett was determined to force his young protégé to work out the very important relationship with the stubborn older man. Under his boss's matter-of-fact insistence, Dan consistently took the high road, and ignored the insults and subtle slights routinely delivered by Stuart.

 

While Williams had not intentionally missed the retirement party - on the contrary, he was fully prepared to celebrate the retirement of his biggest detractor. McGarrett had sent him to Chicago to interview two witnesses. Mid-continent flight delays caused the detective to miss his connecting flight back to Honolulu.

 

Jenny observed with interest as Walter groused quietly to himself, wadded up a page, and stuffed it into his pocket before starting over. Fully aware of the history between Stuart and Williams, she burned to know what the new retiree wanted to convey to the Five-0 detective. An apology for his often-abysmal behavior towards Danny? OR maybe a final stabbing insult? If Jenny knew the latter were the case, she would certainly have a few choice words for the Stuart (and possibly a pop in the nose!).

 

It took the man a full ten minutes before he rose from his chair. He folded the small page twice and then proceeded to seal the edge with a piece of tape from Jenny's desk. He started to hand the note to the secretary, but pulled it back long enough to scratch 'Williams' on one of the note surfaces.

 

"I'll see that he gets it as soon as he returns," Jenny reassured as she tugged the note from Walter's reticent-to-release fingers. She held onto it until Stuart nodded and backed away.

 

"Mahalo, Jenny," Stuart breathed and, with one last focus on the message, turned and marched out the door.

 

The secretary stared at the tape on the note and sighed before dropping it into Williams' IN box.

 

 

*****

 

McGarrett and Detective Chin Ho Kelly burst through the door, greeting Jenny.

 

"Danno back yet, honey?"

 

"Nope, boss," Jenny returned. "I thought he'd be back by now." The head of Five-0 scooped his messages from his IN box as he passed and flashed his secretary a smile.

 

"It's a good thing Mister Stuart didn't wait for him." Her words hung in the air, as she knew they would. Everyone in the Five-0 office was acutely aware that a post-retirement visit from Walter for the unit's second-in-command was about as likely as a wild polar bear sighting in Waikiki.

 

Backing up to stand in front of Jenny's desk, McGarrett warily pierced the petite woman. "Walter. Here? For Danno?"

 

Jenny nodded and pointed to the sealed message in Williams' IN box.

 

The lead detective's brow furled as Chin approached and looked at the small square of paper.

 

"Looks like the notes my girls pass to each other in school," the Chinese detective observed neutrally.

 

McGarrett queried, "Did he say what he wanted?"

 

"Nope, and he was pretty darned secretive if you ask me," Jenny responded and picked up the message and held it in her hand.

 

The trio studied the message as if she were holding a rare species of bug. After several seconds of silence, the head of Five-0 collected the note and tossed it back into his second's IN box. Before more words could be exchanged, Dan Williams strode through the door, suit jacket and several file folders in hand, and approached the secretary's desk. The young officer's grin slimmed as he observed the perplexed expressions of his co-workers.

 

"What's going on?"

 

"It would seem you missed a visitor, Danno," McGarrett reported neutrally and nodded in the direction of the waiting message.

 

Williams collected the note and examined it before making eye contact with Chin. "Let me guess - Suzie?"

 

All lips curled upward. Another unspoken reality within the Five-0 ohana was the fact of the crushes Chin's daughters had on Williams. The young detective played it down, but was obviously aware enough to make the guess.

 

McGarrett smirked, "No, but you're close."

 

Not bothering to venture another guess, Dan broke the tape and unfolded the message. Frowning, he quickly read the short message. "Stuart." With a soft snort, he added, "Yeah, I've been expecting a love note from Walter for a long time."

 

Williams handed the note to McGarrett before sliding around him and into his office. "But this wasn't it."

 

Jenny and Chin edged closer to their boss to see the contents of the message even as Steve read it out loud. "Danny, please call me at home at your earliest convenience. Regards, Walter Stuart."

 

Williams called out from his desk, "Not even best regards. Just regards."

 

Jenny shifted so that she could see Dan taking a seat at his desk. "Are you going to call him?"

 

"Why? So he can bust my chops one last time? I've had to put up with that guy long enough without voluntarily subjecting myself to his venom." Williams opened his desk drawer and pulled a notebook from it.

 

McGarrett silently studied his officer for a few seconds. Williams felt his mentor's eyes on him and finally looked up. "What, Steve? Are you telling me to call him?"

 

The lead detective shrugged slightly. "No, Danno - it's your decision. Walter is a private citizen."

 

It was Williams' turn to study his boss. "Okay. Good." The detective slowly looked back to his notebook.

 

The rest of the afternoon was typical for the officers. McGarrett and Williams were each sequestered in their respective offices catching up on paperwork, with occasional interruptions for duty-related errands with the other detectives. When Kono Kalakaua returned with the results from his trip to the North Shore, McGarrett assembled his detectives in his office.

 

"How was the surf up there?" Dan plied Kono for the information near to his heart as he took a seat on the edge of McGarrett's desk.

 

"Down," the Hawaiian detective intoned.

 

"Good," Williams grinned. "I'm not missing anything."

 

McGarrett rose from his desk and gently tossed the document he'd been reviewing back onto his blotter. "Okay, gentlemen, when last we met, our two suspects had airtight alibis. Is that still the case?"

 

"Yes," Dan confirmed. "But Kono's trip to the North Shore was very productive."

 

"Yeah, boss - we have another suspect now."

 

McGarrett took in a breath to react, but Jenny tapped on his door, and did not wait before she opened it.

 

"Sorry, Steve - Danny, Millie Stuart is on line two for you." All eyes floated to Williams, who looked to his boss.

 

McGarrett nodded. "Take it in here, Danno."

 

Dan hesitated, and Steve added with a conciliatory flourish of his hand, "That is, IF you're so inclined."

 

The young detective sighed, and slipped off his desk perch and took a couple of steps to the phone on the far side of his boss's desk. Punching the Line Two button, he turned away from the other detectives.

 

"This is Dan, Millie. How are you? Sorry I missed you last night… Oh, he did." Williams threw a glance over his shoulder in Steve's direction. "Uh, yeah, yes… I got the message… Well… I'm not sure…"

 

Dan was quiet for several seconds as he apparently listened to the woman on the other end of the line. Finally, he sighed and glanced at his watch. "Okay, Millie, sure… I'll be there. Yes, see you then."

 

The detective turned to face his colleagues as he re-cradled the phone onto the switch hook. "I could ignore Walter's request, but I can't turn Millie down. I guess Walter REALLY wants to talk to me about something."

 

McGarrett smiled. "Chin up, Danno - you outlasted him."

 

Dan returned with a crooked smile, "Unless he plans to shoot me."

 

 

*****

 

Dan had been to the Stuart residence on business on only a couple of occasions - always with Steve, but he had no trouble finding the very nice Kahala residence. Not far from the Kahala Yacht Club, the two-story house with a circular drive was the epitome of good taste in décor and elegant ambience. The detective parked and slowly strode to the front door. A full thirty seconds after he rang the doorbell, Millie Stuart appeared, and greeted him with a warm smile and a hug.

 

"Danny, how nice to see you!" the slender, sixty-something-year-old woman announced. Williams returned one of his own heart-melting smiles as he reciprocated the squeeze.

 

"You look great, Millie!"

 

"And you're as sweet as ever," Millie returned as she wrapped her arms around one of the detective's and guided him through the house to a kidney-shaped pool.

 

"What are you gonna do to keep Walter out of your hair all day?"

 

"I plan on keeping his honey-do list good and long until he finds his own way to keep out from under foot," she laughed and winked.

 

"You're a genius," Dan whispered as they came within earshot of the former AG, who was skimming debris from the pool.

 

Stuart looked over his shoulder, and promptly retracted the skimming tool and leaned it against a nearby table.

 

"Danny, uh… thank you for coming out." The older man cleared his throat and approached.

 

Millie kissed the detective on the cheek, and retraced her steps into the house, calling over her shoulder, "I'll leave you boys to chat."

 

Dan did not react to Millie's departure, as he completely focused on the man who had treated him with disdain and adversarial disregard from the moment they met.

 

"I hope you didn't call me out here because you need a pool boy," Williams eyed the older man with no sense of humor in his demeanor.

 

A faint grimace crossed Stuart's expression, but he vanquished it quickly. "Would you like a drink?"

 

"What do want from me, Walter?" The detective was in no mood to mince words now that the man's wife was safely shielded indoors.

 

Stuart sighed, and stroked his goatee slowly. "I've had a long career, and only a few regrets, Danny…"

 

"And the fact that you couldn't get rid of me is one of them?" Williams accused evenly.

 

Annoyance brushed across the older man's face. "No! Let me finish!"

 

"Like I always do."

 

Exasperated, Stuart demanded, "PLEASE, Danny, indulge me one last time!"

 

Dan took in a breath to respond, but thought better of it. Instead he crossed his arms and quietly pierced Stuart with a level gaze.

 

As soon as Stuart realized that the object of his frustration was going to cooperate for a few seconds more at least, he started to continue, but frowned instead. "Now where was I?"

"Regrets," was Dan's one-word hint.

 

"Oh yes, regrets. I do regret…" The older man wiped a bead of perspiration from his brow.

 

"Are you trying to tell me you're sorry for treating me like something that was stuck on your shoe?"

 

Another pained frown etched onto Stuart's face. "What do you wanna do, Williams? Hit me? Throw me in the pool?"

 

"Do I have to choose just one?" Dan's voice grew tight.

 

"Fresh lemonade, boys." Millie's return elicited visible jumps from both men, but the pair, for once a team with the same objective, turned quickly towards the woman as she perkily strode toward them. They smiled and accepted the proffered beverages.

 

"This is great, Millie - mahalo," Dan offered after his first sip, taking great care to sound pleasant.

 

"Yes, dear, excellent as always," Stuart agreed while continuing to level a glare at the detective.

 

"I'll leave the pitcher on the counter - Dora is picking me up any moment now for an emergency run to Kahala Mall." She pecked her husband on the cheek, and squeezed Williams' free hand. "Don't be a stranger, Danny."

 

"And you don't empty the checking account," Walter distractedly called after her. As his wife's footsteps faded, he added, "Now, where were we?"

 

Williams' eyes narrowed slightly. "We were about to decide whether I should hit you or throw you in the pool."

 

The two men glared at each other for several seconds before the older man sighed tiredly and wandered a few steps to the bar. He mounted a stool and kept his lemonade glass clutched in his hand. "Do whatever suits you, kid. I know I won't talk you out of it. You're just like your boss - stubborn."

 

The back-handed compliment gave Williams pause, and he warily moved to the bar and took a seat as well. He did not speak before Stuart added, "And dedicated… and… and… a decent… no, a brilliant cop."

 

The praise from his detractor stunned the officer, but the Stuart was not done. Depression seemed to blend with chagrin as the new retiree threw a glance at Williams. "I regret any… pain or misery my attitude may have caused you."

 

There was only the sound of a lawn mower in the distance for a full thirty seconds as Dan digested the apology in stunned silence. Once again, Walter spoke first, his tone slightly gruffer. "That's it - I've said it. You can accept the apology or not - there's nothing else I can do."

 

As the young cop sat there, long-branded anger wrestling with his very-forgiving nature, Stuart added one more thing. "Unless you still want to throw me in the pool, or perhaps throw a drink in my face."

 

Dan cracked a smile at the last comment. "A drink in the face sounds kind of… of girly, don't you think…"

 

Stuart's lip twitched as he recognized an accepted apology. "Hmmm, perhaps you're right - a broken bottle over the head?"

 

"Then we've got a safety hazard - broken glass around the pool."

 

"Where does that leave us then?"

 

Williams studied his lemonade. "I guess it leaves us sitting here having a drink together."

 

Stuart turned to Dan and held up his glass. "Here's to a forgiving cop."

 

Dan's lips curled upward as he clinked his glass against Walter's and added, "And to a retired Attorney General with a conscience."

 

Pau