FRIDAY THE 13TH
by GM


The opening strains of a lively symphony drifted through the open lanai door of Steve McGarrett's office. Kono Kalakaua looked up from the reports in front of him.
"Noon?"
"Already," Dan Williams replied sarcastically.
Chin Ho Kelly glanced out to the rain soaked Palace grounds. "I forgot it was Friday."
"The thirteenth," Kono reminded, trying to make his tone ominous. "Spooky Halloween time!"
It was a warm, humid October afternoon. The shirtsleeved detectives of Hawaii Five-0 gathered in McGarrett's office for an informal contemplation session. A series of jewel robberies plagued HPD and the case had just been turned over to the state police group.
The four officers were bleary-eyed from a late night stake out, followed by the early morning gathering to reevaluate their strategy. McGarrett did not like wasting his time on all night stake outs which proved fruitless. Thus, they would keep at the think session until someone came up with a viable plan. The flaw in the brainstorming plan was that the brains in use were drained of energy and wit.
"Maybe we should break for some kau kau, boss," Chin suggested.
Kono had already put down his notes. "Hmmm, akamai, Chin. I'll take your orders," he urged. "Golden Duck or Lee's?"
McGarrett, who was sitting in his chair, feet propped on the desk, offered a silent nod. The session was officially over.
Williams stacked his papers and walked around the room stretching tired muscles. Peeking through the window blinds, he strained. to see the barefoot girl on the grass as she danced the traditional hula.
The Royal Hawaiian Band attributed its inception to King Kalakaua. Modern generations of musicians performed in the bandstand on the front lawn of Iolani Palace. The tune changed to a slow, melodic hula and Chin hummed along with the old favorite. Every other Friday afternoon at lunch time the band offered a free concert in the gazebo. The lawns were dotted with office workers, school children and tourists enjoying the free recital, fair weather and almost perfect tropical day. Nearly everyone was dressed in bright aloha wear, traditional for the easy attitude of Aloha Friday adopted by the kamaainas. Unable to catch a good view of the girl, Dan gave up and moved out of the office to the lanai at the back of the Palace.
All day rain had intermittently showered the grounds with the famous 'liquid sunshine' of the Islands. Puddles in the parking lot jiggled from the persistent drizzles. The mist-air smelled fresh and clean and Williams leaned on the railing to breathe deeply of the fragrant atmosphere. Across the promenade showers rippled the water in the moat of the Capitol Building.
"We have been at it for awhile," McGarrett admitted quietly as he joined his friend. "Almost makes you wish for a day off." He rubbed sore neck and shoulder muscles, the weariness accentuated in wistful his tone.
The rain increased to a soft, brushing kind of drizzle that seemed to almost float from the heavens.
Dan was philosophical. "All pau hana?" he automatically translated into Hawaiian. "Nah. I can't play a decent tennis game in the rain."
McGarrett's smile was slow and tired. "Right," was his wry response. "So you'll be a good sport and work instead."
Like the rest of his team McGarrett was tired. His fatigue was exacerbated by the accumulation of too many intense work days piled atop each other. He stifled a yawn.
William shook his head, frowning. He wished he could to something to relieve the stress of his workaholic boss. McGarrett, however, did not take advice well. "You DO need the day off, Steve." Hinting, he finished, "We all do."
"Pau hana. I wish," was McGarrett's sincere reply.
"You're the boss." Almost conspiratorially Dan questioned, "Don't you ever daydream about it? Of sneaking off on Aloha Friday afternoon like so many other working stiffs?" He gestured toward the band, still playing despite the rain. "Sitting on the lawn and melding in with the crowd instead of answering phones?"
For a moment a faraway look passed through Steve' s eyes, then they cleared to their usual crisp, resolute-blue intensity. "Nah," he quoted back in reply.
The phone rang and for a moment Steve hesitated. A sure sign of his fatigue. Williams stepped inside, answering it, saving McGarrett the trouble. Dan's whole demeanor suddenly brightened, stiffened, then renewed with energy as he looked at McGarrett. "Right!" The other detectives were instantly alert. He slammed down the phone. "Jewel robbery in progress. Fort Street Mall. HPD is already responding!"
The officers grabbed their respective jackets and holsters and all jogged out of the office.
"Chin, Kono, take separate cars, block off the mauka end of the Mall," Steve snapped out on the run. "Danno, you're with me."
They raced down the front steps of the Palace and into the company cars. A few minutes were lost as they impatiently waited for the band spectators and tourists to get out of the way. McGarrett was first out of the slot and screeched down the side driveway to Richards Street.
Kono backed out and threw the car into drive, just as a cat dashed in front of his wheels. He slammed on the brakes and the heavy Ford skidded through a puddle, then slid on the oil/rain slick asphalt directly into the rear of Chin Ho's sedan. Chin's car slid sideways and bashed broadside into Dan's parked LTD.
McGarrett had almost reached Richards Street when he chanced to look in his rearview mirror. What he saw caused him to blink, check again, then slam on his brakes. The big Mercury slid on the wet pavement and came to a rocking halt just short of the Palace gateway.
"What --?" Dan started. He had been forced to grab onto the dash to save himself from going through the windshield. A good argument for seat belts, he thought. If only they had time to put them on and take them off in their breakneck dashes to and from the cars.
"I don't believe it," McGarrett said incredulously.
Williams saw his boss was staring into the rearview mirror. Dan turned around and checked out the scene. Chin and Kono were standing in the parking lot near their wrecked sedans. "I don't believe it either," Williams concurred.
McGarrett threw the car into reverse and screeched back to the parking slots.
"Are you two okay?"
"Sure, boss."
"Big pilikia, bruddah."
"Hey, you guys hit my car!"
"A cat ran in front of my car!"
"A black one I suppose?"
"What's a black cat doing out on a rainy day?
"It's Friday the thirteenth you know! Halloween month! That must mean something."
Everyone was talking atop each other. At a glance it was obvious the three cars were undrivable for the moment. Dan's LTD's rear fender bent into a ruptured rear tire. Kono's car radiator spewed water from a gaping hole in the front grill. Chin's sedan disabled by a warped wheel.
Impatiently, McGarrett took charge and reminded his men they had more important things to think about than a keystone-cops smashup. He ordered Chin and Kono into his own sedan. Once again he raced the car down the driveway. Williams called for a tow truck or three as they weaved through the lunch hour traffic of downtown Honolulu toward the nearby mall.
When they came to an abrupt halt at Fort Street they joined several HPD patrol cars already blocking the road. The detectives exited the car and met Duke Lukela at the nearest jewelry store.
Duke shook his head. "You just missed them. Looks like your suspects, Steve," the HPD sergeant reported. "They came and went with about thirty thousand in various stones."
McGarrett muttered something under his breath and instructed his men to take statements. Williams and he followed Duke to the back door and studied the escape route.
"Well, there's no reason for us to stick around here," he finally commented with vexation and returned to the front of the store. "You two coming?" he asked pointedly to Kono and Chin. They mutely assented and the four detectives climbed back into the Mercury for a silent and mercifully short trip back to the Palace.
The band was still playing when tropical storm McGarrett swung the black sedan around to the front of the Palace. Suddenly he slammed on the brakes, a long, ear-shattering screech echoing over the pleasant music. There was a car parked in his designated, clearly labeled 'McGARRETT' parking slot!
His jaw muscles tightened and his teeth ground together in irritation.
Dan covered his mouth with his hand to hide a grin. Once he was able to reestablish his composure he offered to call for another tow truck to have the interloper removed from the reserved place. Never in his memory could he recall unauthorized parking in the marked slots reserved for Five-0 staff. After all, EVERYBODY in the Islands knew the power the police unit wielded -- the reputation of Steve McGarrett!
Without a distinguishable comment, amid verbal and indefinable growls, McGarrett abruptly jerked the car into reverse and took the spot recently vacated by Dan's damaged sedan.
The four trooped up to their offices in silence. Once inside Chin and Kono each slinked into respective cubicles. Dan followed Steve into the main office to collect the reports left there earlier in the afternoon. Since Steve seemed disinclined to issue any comments or instructions, Dan left to do his work in his own office. He gently closed McGarrett's door behind him.
Williams removed his jacket and belt holster and slumped into his chair. As he picked up the top paper on the desk Steve's door flew open and McGarrett ran by, slapping his hand on his detective's cubicles as he raced by.
"HPD has the robbers in a chase on the H-1!"
The three officers, dressing on the run, raced to catch up with their boss. They charged down the staircase, out the front door, and down the Palace steps. All skidded to a dead halt at the bottom step, all barely avoiding a rear-end collision with their statue-like leader.
There was no black Mercury parked in the parking slot.
For several minutes Steve was speechless. His detectives, too stunned to find humor in the amazing disappearing act, were also without words.
The Royal Hawaiian Band concert finished their last exciting crescendo. People filtered away from the bandstand area, across the lawns and parking lot of the Palace. The rain abruptly turned into a deluge, coming down in heavy, large drops. The detectives stayed in place. No one wanted to be the first to move.
An HPD patrol car cruised through the circular lot and stopped in front of the Five-0 men. The patrolman obligingly reported a squad car had apprehended the jewel robbers, who were now on their way to jail.
In an ominously calm voice McGarrett requested that an APB be put out on his sedan. Wisely, the patrolman did not make editorial comments on the fact that the top cop of Hawaii had just had his car stolen!
The blue and white drove away. It was still raining. McGarrett turned around and held out a hand, palm up. With dark, soppy hair ringing his face he gazed up into the drizzly heavens, then to his second-in-command. His eyes twinkled, belaying the serious set of his expression.
"Bad day for tennis," he said to Williams. "Good day for handball."
"Or sailing," Dan offered with a hopeful grin. "Or swimming. Somewhere on Oahu it's not raining."
McGarrett raised his eyebrows and gave a slight nod of approval. He smiled. "Sailing it is!" He turned and started back up the Palace steps. Dan trailed behind. "Take the rest of the day off, fellas," McGarrett ordered over his shoulder to the other detectives.
Kono smiled, then his face fell. "But boss, we got no cars."
Chin elbowed him in the side. "I'll call cousin Louie. He drives a yellow cab."
McGarrett laughed at the overheard conversation. "A cousin with a yellow cab," he said ruefully to himself as he shook his head. Raindrops splashed off his hair and face. Half way up the broad koa wood steps inside the Palace he halted. "What about transportation?" he asked Dan, who had come up beside him.
"No problem. I know a someone better than cousin Louie. A girl who works just down King Street." McGarrett again ruefully shook his head as Dan continued quickly. "She can take off any time. She has a convertible. Which won't do us much good today," he said in an aside to himself. "Until we find some sun. But she has a friend."
"What a resourceful staff," he marveled. McGarrett began the ascent again. "This lady have a phone number?"
Williams was removing his soppy jacket and tie as they rounded the corner into the Five-0 wing. 'Yeah. And I'm keeping it."
Knowing when he had been outmaneuvered Steve gave in graciously. "Okay." At the door to the main offices McGarrett stopped with his hand on the knob. "Happy Friday the thirteenth, Officer Williams."
"Happy pau hana, Steve," Dan countered. "You know, we need more of these Five-0 holidays."
"Don't count on it."
The sigh was long suffering, but amused. "Of course not."
He wouldn't, of course. But it was sure nice to be surprised once in a while. Maybe he should wish for black cats crossing Kono's path more often.


PAU