Epilogue to HARA KIRI MURDERS

 

IN THE LINE OF DUTY

 

by GM

December 1974


 

Relieved to have the nasty banking murders behind him, McGarrett sat at his desk and stared at the ever-present paperwork challenging his attention. Unable to focus on the paper shuffling he leaned back in his chair and swiveled around to stare out the window at the Palace grounds. He should feel more satisfaction at the close of the trying mystery, but he only felt gritty and uneasy at the deception and crime they had uncovered. A man murdered -- looking like ritual hara kiri to throw them off, then embezzlement and kidnapping. Lives lost, lives changed forever. For what? Greed. Money. He had seen too much of that motivation to be surprised, but it still sickened him. Crimes of passion -- he could have a sense of understanding there because he was a man of intense emotions himself -- but avarice? He could never comprehend the love of money over a human life.

 

The phone rang, his private line. He wondering automatically if it was Danno again to report some complication to the case. Williams had called in just a few moments before to relate the initial success of arresting of Ramon Borelle. Most likely Danno was just calling about further details or complications.

 

"McGarrett."

 

"Steve, we've got a problem."

 

Dan Williams sounding breathless -- desperate. Anxious vibrations emanated from his friend's voice. Danno was obviously alive, probably okay, but something was desperately wrong.

 

"What is it?"

 

"Steve, there's no easy way --" Williams' voice was thick with emotion. "I didn't know. I took the front door -- "

 

"Danno! What is it?"

 

"It's Ben -- Ben's been shot."

 

"What? How bad?"

 

"It's bad, Steve, they just took him away. Queens. He's going to Queens."

 

"I'll meet you there."

 

McGarrett was out the door and on the way to the car before he thought of anything beyond the tragedy. Did anyone go to get Sarah, Ben's wife? What about the children? Were any other officers injured? What went wrong? Why did Danno first report a successful arrest if one of the team had been shot?

 

The confusing questions insulated him from the full impact of the calamity. One of his guys being hurt was the worst grief of the job. As cops, they were in danger on a daily basis, but knowing that risk did not lessen the trepidation of his guys being targets; the hurt when one of his men was downed.

 

*****

 

By the time he strode the halls of ER his temper flared to maximum heat. The instant he saw his second-in-command by the nurse's station he was ready to level Williams with a withering barrage of blame for the oversight that caused Kokua's injury. How could Williams allow such a mistake? The harsh anger died instantly when Dan turned, his suit stained with blood, his face ashen, his hands shaking. Any recriminations Steve might have unjustly flung at his friend were far less than the blame emanating from the younger detective. Williams was a top officer, so this had been no dereliction on his part. Without asking Steve knew none of this was Dan's fault. Ben was their friend on and off the job. All were hurting from this tragedy. Williams seemed to be suffering for it as if he was the only one to blame, not whoever was on the other side of the gun that fired the bullets into Kokua.

 

"Danno," he spoke quietly, taking his friend aside with an arm around the shorter man's shoulder. "How is he?"

 

"In surgery," Williams grated. "Looks bad, Steve. At least one bullet went into his lower chest. No exit wound." He drew in a ragged breath. "There was so much blood --"

 

"He's in good hands now, Danno, take it easy." Shaken himself, McGarrett found solace in expending comfort to his colleague. Lent compassion helped displace his own fears. "What about Sarah?"

 

"Duke went to get her. He said he'd call Doris, too." Dan sighed, regaining some control of his emotions. "Chin was going to get Mai to come down. Cop's wives. I hope they can help Sarah."

 

Mai Kelly and Doris Lukela were the unofficial den mothers to the extended group of police families of Five-0. Although Sergeant Lukela worked within HPD, in association with Five-0, he was considered part of their extended ohana. Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Lukela were always the first to comfort families in times of stress, or notify other cop wives with bad or good news. In this case they probably already contacted the Kokua family, who, like many other locals, had extensive families to call on for support. A religious family, the Kokuas also had the aid of church members to carry them through the crisis.

 

"How am I going to tell Sarah? She's going to blame me, Steve."

 

Unlike the veteran-cop spouses Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Lukela, Sarah Kokua was a young wife with three small children. Ben's commitment to the team was absolute; diverting time from his precious, growing family to his duties as a Five-0 officer. Much was demanded of a cop in the elite unit, and much was given by Ben, Chin, even Duke, despite their various obligations. Other detectives in the past; Ray Kaimano, Kono Kalakaua, Brian Tosaki had all left because the strain of the job was too much. In the long history of Hawaii Five-0 Steve had never lost a detective in the line of duty. He hoped Ben would not be the first.

 

McGarrett found a place for them near the vending machines and bought two black coffees. "Why don't you tell me what happened?"

 

Too agitated to sit, Dan paced a small track in the waiting area. "I went in the front. Ben and Officer Chase and some patrolmen covered the back. There were shots from the back, but no one reported -- " he took a deep drink of coffee, gasping from the hot liquid burning down his throat. He put the coffee down and sunk his hands in his pockets as he leaned on the wall. "No one mentioned an officer down. I arrested Borelle and phoned you. Everything seemed okay. Then they called me out to the back lanai and he was down." The words were accelerating with his disturbance. "He's usually so careful. And fast, Steve, he always moves in and out of a doorway wikiwiki -- "

 

"I know, Danno, I know," Steve sighed, feeling the anguish as palpably as if he had been there on that lanai.

 

"I shouldn't have put him in back. If he'd been in the front with me -- "

 

"Danno, that kind of thinking doesn't work," he interrupted sternly. "Sometimes a cop catches a bullet even if he's playing by all the rules. You know that. We've experienced that."

 

Grudgingly Williams agreed.

 

Steve wanted to lecture more, but found no words to counter his own thoughts of guilt. He'd sent his men out to arrest murderers. Deadly force should have been anticipated. Why wasn't he there with them? Maybe things would have been different -- no, he couldn't take that path. It was all behind them. Ben was gunned down in the line of duty and now all they could do was pray he would live.

 

Down the hall voices and weeping startled him out of his thoughts. Sarah Kokua, Duke and Doris Lukela, Chin Ho and Mai Kelly came from the elevators. He stepped over to meet them, taking Sarah in his arms. His calm reassurances and strong support helped ease her panic. Soon they were sitting in the waiting room chairs, talking about how everything would be okay. Mrs. Kokua eventually relaxed enough to talk conversationally about Ben; the children, last week's wonderful Christmas. Did Steve have a pleasant birthday? The Five-0 staff had been too busy this year to throw him the traditional surprise birthday bash. Progressively she gained composure from McGarrett's succor. Looking to Williams, aware his second-in-command was unusually quiet, Steve motioned for Dan to take the seat on the other side of Sarah. She held onto both their hands.

 

"Can you tell me what happened?" she asked, her lyrical voice regaining balance.

 

Petite -- small -- compared to her tall and husky husband, Mrs. Kokua was a renowned singer at local events and church functions. She ran her household nearly single-handed because of Ben's grueling duties, and managed a refined, pleasant home, with little three children, on a cop's meager salary. Not yet out of her twenties, she was pleasant, hard-working, and fit in well with the rest of the Five-0 ohana.

 

Visibly straining to maintain aplomb, Dan related the barest outline of the shooting. Sarah took it calmly enough, quietly settling back against McGarrett's shoulder to wait-out the ordeal. Before long the OR doors opened and a doctor emerged. Sarah, McGarrett and Williams came to their feet.

 

Soberly the physician related Ben's injuries were not life-threatening but serious. The bullet missed vital organs but inflicted some damage to his spinal cord. He predicted Ben would be paralyzed, but otherwise return to a relatively normal life.

 

Angry at the blunt prognosis, McGarrett bit back his harsh words and comforted the woman falling apart in his arms. After an indeterminate length of time Steve reached the limit of his ability to ease Mrs. Kokua's grief. Mrs. Kelly stepped in and smoothly took command of the situation. Steve and Dan both promised to return when Ben could receive visitors, then the Five-0 officers left.

 

*****

 

"Steve?"

 

McGarrett started at the quiet summons echoing in the dark and silent sanctuary of his office. Turning from the window he gave a nod to Williams, who crossed to sit on the edge of the desk. Too drained to offer conversation or comment, Steve turned back to his blank study of the Palace grounds now spotted with the old-fashioned gas-light-like lamps lining the driveway. Williams clicked on the lamp on the desk.

 

"I can't work either," he offered softly. Sighing, he stared out at the dim landscape. "I should finish the arrest report, but there doesn't seem any point, does there?"

 

After the hospital visit Williams had gone home to change and recover from the ordeal. Typically, he returned to the office no long ago, ostensibly to deal with paperwork. McGarrett, who had never gone home, maintained his vigil here, where he was more comfortable than anywhere on earth.

 

McGarrett shook his head. "I keep thinking about the time I was framed by Wo Fat." *

 

"The car wreck," Dan mused sullenly. "The poison that paralyzed you. It must have been a nightmare."

 

"It was."

 

"Luckily it was only temporary." He took a deep breath. "For Ben it might be for real."

 

Swiveling around, Steve toyed with a pen on the desk, obviously struggling with the emotions inside. "What if he's paralyzed? There's nothing we can do for him." Frustrated, he launched to his feet and paced out to the lanai.

 

Williams followed, leaning both hands on the wrought-iron railing. "Sometimes you can't help but think about being hurt on the job." He shot a rueful glance at his friend. "Happens often enough." McGarrett's disdainful snort was comment enough about that! "You worry about 'what-ifs'," he continued somberly. "Will I recover enough to still be a cop? Will I be disabled, or worse, an invalid? Sometimes you wonder if you'll want to live at all."

 

"You pray that you'll live." Steve growled back the catch in his throat. "But somewhere in the darkest corners of your mind there are whispers that hope you don't if that happens."

 

The phone rang and Steve lunged back inside to grab it up before the second ring.

 

"McGarrett!" Yes, Duke?" For a moment he held his breath. As the HPD sergeant relayed the message a grin spread on his face and he glanced at his colleague. "Yes, Duke, that's wonderful. Yes, our prayers were answered. And give our love to Sarah, tell her we'll see her tomorrow." He replaced the phone and laughed away the tension, wiped away the moisture in his eyes. "He's going to be okay, thank God. He'll have some trouble with one leg -- and physical therapy. But the doctor's say he'll walk again."

 

Smiling brightly, Dan swept the tears off his face. "Great news."

 

Steve patted his friend's shoulders with both hands, grateful for the support, feeling both emotionally and physically weak. "Yeah, great news," he agreed. "I never thought I'd be so relieved to lose one of my guys from the team. He's going to be okay. Better than the alternative."

 

"Yeah," Williams fervently nodded. "Ben'll be okay. He's got a degree he can fall back on. Being alive, that's what counts for him and his family."

 

"You bet." He patted his friend several times, as if reaffirming the solidity of the support. "You bet, Danno. Now let's get out of here." He closed the door, feeling they had faced enough police work for now. Whatever else needed to be done to serve and protect could be done by someone else. Five-0 was finished for today.

 


PAU

 


 

*THE 90 SECOND WAR