A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

 

by GM

 


 

November 1967
 

 

"You're going to have to rush this maniac, no way outta that." Ray Kaimano punctuated his insistence with blowing a billow of cigar smoke into the air. The short, stocky Hawaiian frowned at his companions-in-shelter behind a lava-stone wall. "The only way he's going down is feet first." Kaimano hefted his .38 from his shoulder holster. "Let's just go in and blow him away!"

 

Stepping back from the end of the lava barricade, Steve McGarrett spared an impatient glare at his second-in-command. "I want to stop the killing, Ray, not escalate it!" He ground his teeth, darting a look to the open quad of the historic sugar plantation-turned tourist site. To the side of one of the factory buildings, the officers were barely out of the sniper's line of fire. Their attention focused on the activity a few yards away. "I certainly don't want to endanger any officers! We try to get him without more casualties!"

 

Kaimano gestured toward the courtyard of the old sugar plantation. "Meanwhile that druggie shoots more people. What about the ones already down? They're bleeding to death out there!"

 

For the hundredth time he wondered why he put up with Kaimano's insubordination, or why the Hawaiian detective stuck-it-out with Five-0 -- a place he was obviously not welcome. The answers were always the same: McGarrett had chosen the detective on skill, not personality. When the governor of Hawaii offered McGarrett the job of organizing a state police force in 1959, Steve spent the first few years in a hit-and-miss shuffle of officers. Building a police force from the ground up was a challenge, and McGarrett's exacting standards made it formidable.

 

From the strained beginning of his duty with Five-0, Ray contributed to make the new Five-0 unit one of the sharpest state police forces in the nation. An ex-Army veteran from WWII, Kaimano was a hard working, by the book cop with lots of police training and little imagination. Only two months away from retirement with a comfortable pension, Ray did not want to rock the boat in an open argument with McGarrett. Never agreeing on anything -- except that they disliked each other -- neither could deny the professional skills of the other. So they stuck in out in their uneasy partnership, working around the other detectives in the elite unit, waiting for the day when Kaimano retired to his little fishing shop in Maui. On days like today, that retirement celebration seemed far away.

 

Steve chewed his lip, sparing a glance at the three people in the courtyard. Two were unmoving, one was writhing in pain, her moans clearly audible over the constant surge of the nearby surf. He turned to Lieutenant Kimura, the ranking HPD officer. "Anybody call a sharpshooter?"

 

"Yeah," the officer responded. "Our best shot. He's on his way."

 

The summons of a sharpshooter was a formality at this point. The crazed killer held the highest, most defensible position around. Chin Ho Kelly and some uniformed HPD men were on the other side of the plantation, but they could get no good vantage point either. Any marksman would put himself at the sniper's mercy just to get off any kind of fast shot. No buildings or other advantageous locations were close enough for a perch to challenge the water tower maniac. Steve didn't know what he would do with the marksman, but it wouldn't hurt to have the best HPD shot on standby. Maybe something would break in their favor.

 

Up on the highway behind the plantation a patrol car pulled up to the gate. Kono Kalakaua was there to stop them from driving into range of the gunman. A uniformed man and a shorter plainclothes officer exited, the man in the suit taking a rifle from the back seat. Kono escorted the slighter (much slighter and shorter compared to the big Hawaiian) policeman toward the police barricades. Jogging toward them, the smaller man vaulted the low barrier and joined the group. Greeting Kimura, he exchanged short nods with Kaimano, but his eyes were on McGarrett.

 

"Steve McGarrett, this is Danny Williams."

 

The younger man beamed, enthusiastically shaking hands with the head of Five-0. "Pleased to meet you, Mr. McGarrett. I understand you need a sharpshooter?"

 

Unbelievably young, were the words leaping into Steve's mind. The enthusiasm was nearly as glaring as Williams' youth and ardent blue eyes. Obviously the young officer was gifted, or much younger looking than his years. Not just anyone in the ranks qualified as HPD's top marksman.

 

"Yes. We've got a sniper up on the water tower."

 

Williams edged over to the end of the wall and dared a glance. Quickly scanning the opposition, his attention snagged on the victims in the courtyard. A sympathetic groan escaped his lips.

 

Steve yanked him back just a second before a volley of bullets shattered the lava wall.

 

"Watch yourself, Officer Williams." He squeezed the young man's shoulder before he released his grip. "We need you in one piece."

 

Disturbed, Williams stared at McGarrett. "We have to get those people out of there."

 

"Yeah, and you're not going to be much help," Kaimano complained. "You're still green around the edges kid. Why'd they send you out?"

 

Kono Kalakaua shouldered his way into the group. "He's the best, bruddah."

 

Kaimano scoffed. "He's a kid." He glared at McGarrett. "I say we rush the idiot up there before those people are dead!"

 

"Then we'd be cleaning YOU off the pavement," Williams snapped back. He turned to McGarrett. "Don't risk anymore lives. I can take him, Mr. McGarrett."

 

Kaimano dismissed the shorter man. "It's too hard, he can't do it."

 

"I can!" insisted Williams, imploring McGarrett's consent with an intense expression.

 

"It can never be done, kid. You're not good enough."

 

Danny glared at Kaimano, then looked hopefully to McGarrett. "There's a first time for everything," he reasoned. Tactful enough not to comment on the conflict between the Five-0 men, smart enough not to step in the middle of Kaimano challenging McGarrett's authority, Danny went for the heart of the issue. "We need to get this nut out of the way and save those people out there. I can do that, Mr. McGarrett."

 

Kaimano's rude scoff of derision went unnoticed. McGarrett assessed the young man, gauging the character of the officer. Williams must be as good as everyone claimed or he wouldn't be there. Did his greenness and inexperience make him a liability? Obviously empathetic to the wounded civilians, did Williams have cool enough nerves to kill the maniac and not be killed himself? Some quality of sincere eagerness forced a serious consideration of the request, making his statement not a boast, but a promise. Searching the boyish face, the earnest blue eyes, McGarrett's instincts swayed him to believe in Danny Williams.

 

"How do you intend to get a shot without making yourself a target?" he asked, already decided on accepting the volunteer.

 

The buoyant eyes sparked with anticipation. "Come on, I'll show you."

 

Williams jogged back toward the barricade and McGarrett, Kaimano and Kalakaua followed. Out of sight from the water tower, they skirted the outlying buildings of the factory and came to a rocky embankment leading down to the ocean.

 

"This lava breakwater edges the old place all around the makai sides," Williams explained. McGarrett's eyebrows shot up and the younger man grinned. "I used to fish out here with my buddies when the old place was still processing cane." He rubbed a hand through his tightly curled, sandy hair. "The manager didn't like us hanging around, so we climbed down through the rocks here, to the point over by the dock. No one in the courtyard, or the water tower, can see along the surfline down there. I can come up where that nut will never expect me and take him out."

 

Kalakaua gave a nod and a shaka sign. "Way to go, Danny."

 

Even Kaimano offered a nod of approval.

 

Impressed, McGarrett grudgingly laughed and patted the young man on the shoulder. "Good thinking, Officer Williams. Good plan."

 

Was that a blush of embarrassment? "Thanks, Mr. McGarrett. Can I go ahead?"

 

Steve sobered, suddenly very reluctant to send this novice into danger. "Can you get a shot off without endangering yourself?"

 

"I'm no hero," he countered. "I'll get him before he knows I'm there."

 

McGarrett nodded. "Okay, Williams. Good luck."

 

Williams thanked the Five-0 leader again and scrambled down the rocks. McGarrett waited until Williams was down by the surf, then jogged back to the original location at the lava wall. As soon as the sniper was eliminated, he wanted the wounded taken out by the waiting ambulance attendants.

 

Chancing a glance at the breakwater -- failing to see Williams -- Steve barely avoided a bullet sent his way. The water tower assassin was good. Was he better than Officer Williams? For a moment, Steve debated rushing over to the makai side to join Williams. There was nothing he could offer as support to the young officer, but it seemed his responsibility to be with the man he'd sent into danger. No, not so much his responsibility, but his need to watch out for this likable officer.

 

"Help me, please help me!"

 

The plea came from the courtyard. Steve glanced around the wall, horrified to see one of the wounded victims struggling toward the rocky embankment. From this angle, and the woman's, Williams was visible through a crevice of rocks. Swinging toward the woman, the gunman spotted Williams, who was not yet into position. Without waiting for a proper bead on the killer, Danny shot at the sniper at the same instant McGarrett snapped off the first of three rounds. The assassin jerked, falling to his knees atop the platform. Williams slammed the bolt-action of the rifle to insert the next bullet while McGarrett loosed two more rounds into the slumped form on the water tower, toppling the man in an inert heap.

 

Immediately attendants ran to the victims in the courtyard. Kaimano and Kalakaua rushed to the water tower, warily and speedily climbing up to check on the sniper. McGarrett holstered his .38 and crossed to the rocks where Officer Williams knelt by the wounded woman who had blown his cover and nearly caused his death.

 

"How are you doing?"

 

Danny stepped back, the rifle visibly shaking in his hand. "Okay," he barely breathed, his face pallid, his voice weak.

 

"Good work, Williams." Steve stepped down and helped the detective up out of the rocks. "Well done."

 

Williams sank onto one of the lava outcroppings, the rifle dropping to the ground, hands cradling his head. Steve realized the younger detective probably never killed anyone before. It was one thing to shoot at targets, or wound dangerous suspects, but killing for the first time was something very different. Once more struck with how unseasoned this detective was, he sat down beside Danny and placed a brotherly arm on his shoulder.

 

There were so many things he could say to jar Williams out of the shock, but none of them seemed appropriate now. Hardly knowing Williams, he offered only silent support. Later he could give his lectures, his pep-talks, his sage counsel. Right now, Danny needed just the simplest reassurance that he was not suffering alone.

 

"Hey boss, you got him!" Chin Ho confirmed as he joined them. He leaned down and peered into the sharpshooter's face. "You okay, Danny? You not looking so hot."

 

Still pale, even down to his lips, Williams shook his head. "I never shot a man before."

 

Incongruously, Kelly grinned. "Don't think you did today, either, Danny."

 

Williams looked up. "What do you mean?"

 

Chin laughed. "I'm not with the lab team, but my guess is your shot was a little off, Danny. Look at the tower."

 

Aside from the obvious hump of a dead body, several HPD officers, medical attendants, the striking thing about the water tower was the thin stream of water shooting down like a narrow waterfall. Williams and McGarrett stared at the phenomenon as they approached the tower. At the bottom of the metal water receptacle was a single hole.

 

"You're good, Danny, but your aim was off today. No way Steve could have put that hole there. Musta been you."

 

Williams shook his head. "I didn't kill him?"

 

"No," McGarrett confirmed.

 

"Wow. That's good," Williams sighed, then self-consciously looked at McGarrett. "Sorry. Guess that doesn't make me much of a cop, does it?"

 

"How do you figure?" Obviously the officer was not as self-confident as he was skilled with a rifle or as a clever tactician. "You save the woman's life and could have been killed. Inadvertently being a diversion enabled me to nail the shooter. It was your plan, Williams. We have you to thank."

 

The shorter man blushed, a startling and instant transformation from the colorless visage a moment before. Steve almost grinned. He'd never met a cop so open, so uncalculatingly without ego. Guess there was a first time for everything after all.

 

"I just wanted to get those people out of danger."

 

"And you did, Danny, you did. Good work." He patted the detective on the shoulder, feeling the uncharacteristic need to bolster the young man's confidence. Not in the human-relations business, McGarrett rarely stopped to think about feelings or reactions, but this officer brought out a need to guide and encourage instead of dismiss. "Good job."

 

"Thanks, Mr. McGarrett. Thank you for letting me help Five-0."

 

Williams turned back to the rocks and retrieved his rifle. He spun around, offered a wave, and retreated toward the squad cars still blocking the plantation road.

 

Yes, there was a first time for everything -- for saving lives -- for killing. Today was not Williamsí day for a first kill and Steve found himself with mixed feelings about that. As a cop, as a sharpshooter, that day would come soon enough and it would tear the guts of this sensitive detective apart. The first time, however, was not today. For Steve, a jaded, callused veteran who had seen too much killing, it was a surprising relief.

 

Several officers, including Kalakaua, joined Williams. Handshakes and congratulatory back-slaps were given the younger officer. Several times an expressive shrug of the shoulders dismissed the obvious praise of his brother policemen. Talented, self-effacing, well liked, and embarrassingly in awe of McGarrett. Steve smiled. He liked Officer Danny Williams.

 

Another first -- noticing the talent and humanity of an HPD detective he'd never met before. Next time they needed to borrow someone from HPD, McGarrett knew exactly which detective he would request.

 


PAU

 

 

 

THE BEGINNING . . . . . .