NIGHT WALKERS

by

G M


Dan Williams covered his mouth and tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a yawn. Rubbing his face with both hands he released a deep sigh. He glanced at his watch, then groaned.

"Ten 'til two. This has got to be the slowest night in history."

"Yeah," was his companion's sigh of agreement.

Williams focused his attention, once more, on the white pillared house across the street. From this advantageous angle in the parking lot of the beach park, they could see both the front of the white house, plus the side entrance on the water. A canal wound from the mauka side of the neighborhood, under Kahala Avenue, to a bridge-covered ravine cut through the park. The washout leveled flat onto a sandy beach where the mountain water finally spilled into the sea. The exclusive property next to the park was the Waialae Country Club, which hosted the internationally acclaimed Hawaiian Open each winter. In his youth, Williams used to come to this beach and fish. It was probably the most scenic spot in the lush Kahala area, but fond memories and beauty did little to impress the sleep-robbed Williams.

This was the second night on stake out, and it was fraying his exhausted nerves. McGarrett had ordered a round-the-clock watch on Glen Kahale until the mobster came to trial in two days. McGarrett was sure the guy was going to try to skip the country. An obvious surveillance would discourage that. Winning the case against Kahale was so important, McGarrett put the staff on rotation stake-out duty -- including Williams.

Things could be worse, the young cop pondered. He could be stuck here with Steve! Enduring a stake-out with the boss of Five-0 was an exercise in exasperation. McGarrett's natural impatience made him the worst possible companion in long waits. Dan much preferred his present confederate, Kono, who was more likely to sleep through anything. At least it was better than all of Steve's agitated little ticks that could get on a guy's nerves, like snapping his fingers, or drumming fingers on the dash like --

Williams listened -- focused on the steady tap, tap tap. He wondered if he was being haunted by his boss. Then he glanced to the driver's side. Kono Kalakaua, the implacable, calm, immovable Hawaiian force of Five-0, was nervously tapping his fingers on the steering wheel!

"What are you doing?" Nerves and Kono did not go together. The native detective worked at the three basic Hawaiian speeds: slow, slower, and sleep.

"What?"

"You're tapping your fingers!"

Suddenly conscious of the action, Kono quickly dropped his hands.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothin'," the big man denied very quickly.

Suspicious, Williams glanced around the car. He picked up the binoculars and scanned the white house. No signs of trouble. He glared at Kono.

"Something is wrong! The only thing that makes you nervous is when the pig is too small at a luau. Now give. What's up?"

Kono shook his head. "Nothin, Danny. You go back to sleep."

"I wasn't asleep." Now on edge, Williams again scanned the area. If Kono's instincts were on alert, then it was time to be worried. "I better go out and check --"

Kono's beefy hand locked around his arm like a vice. "Don't leave the car!"

Williams stared at his friend for a moment. What he read in that Hawaiian countenance was fear. The emotion instantly transferred to Williams.

"Kono?" The urgency, the command in the voice, was resolute. Williams was younger and newer on the Five-0 team, but he was second in command, and in charge of this stake-out.

"Can't you just trust me on this, Danny?"

"No."

They had been friends since Williams joined the unit several years before. They surfed together, bar hopped together and spent a lot of office hours working closely together. There was a stubbornness in Williams, a trait he had magnified since influenced by McGarrett, and Kono could not refuse the demand. It would do no good to fight it, since Dan would persist and, as always, Kono would wear down. This time, however, he hated to reveal his very real fears.

"Kono!"

"All right. But you won't like it."

"Tell me anyway," the younger cop growled.

The tone and expression was so reminiscent of McGarrett, Kono almost laughed. Knowing that would get him into more trouble, he complied.

"Kahale gonna die tonight. We need to leave now."

Williams' mouth twitched into a smile at the joke. The somber Kono quickly killed his initial amusement. For a speechless moment he tried to say something, but no sound came out. Kono took advantage of the situation.

"Let's go. I'll explain it all later." His hand went to the keys in the ignition. Williams pushed his arm down.

"Are you crazy? What is this all about?"

Kono realized the only way to accomplish his wish was to explain the situation reasonably. Danny was Kama'aina and would understand. Then they could get out of here.

"Okay, I'll tell you. You know about the marchers of the night, right?"

"Sure. The night walkers. The procession of the dead who escort the souls of Hawaiians to wherever it is they go."

Kono ignored the superficial treatment of a sacred legend. Danny had grasped the highlights, and that was all that was important.

"Ka huaka'i o ka Po. Marchers of the night. Do you know where we are?"

Williams' expression soured with irritation. "Waialae Park . . . " his voice trailed off. He looked toward the wide wash which split the park, the crevice where the mountain-born stream swept through the neighborhood canal and, down to Waialae Beach Park, emptied into the ocean. "Yes,' he whispered. How could he have forgotten the spooky excursions out here when he was in high school? "This was the canoe landing for the Night Walkers." He glanced toward the beach that was invisible in the darkness. "This is where they come. My buddies and I used to come out here and spend the night, hoping to get a glance, but we never did." He studied his companion. "Are you getting superstitious on me, Kono?"

"Tonight is a night of Kaneloa, the god of the land of departed spiri --"

"I KNOW who Kaneloa is, Kono!"

"This is his sacred night. Kahale is gonna be taken tonight."

Despite his conscious rejection of such nonsense, Dan shivered. He had grown up with these old legends. He had believed, seen, and felt much of the Hawaiian spiritualism. One could not be Kama'aina, could not be born of the aina and moana of Hawaii, without feeling one with that intrinsic, profound heartbeat of earth and sea. They were woven into the fabric of life. In his generation, though, the old ways were lulled to quiet slumber. Post World War II Hawaii was a crossroads of US military activity. Burgeoning tourism thrust the islands into modern existence. It was a time when Danny Williams was growing up and experiencing the world around him. The mysticism and fantastic ways of the old beliefs grew into history and were dusted with the film of legends and tales. Even though he had grown up as ohana with the Kulani family, who practiced the old ways, Dan had evolved away from those roots.

Kono had never departed from the old ways, however, and was intensely affected by their hauntings tonight.

"Tell me what you know," Williams urged gently. Cooperation, not rejection was in order.

"You know my Uncle Puna is a Kahuna. I have been with him and seen the Marchers. I know the feeling. I can tell they are coming tonight for Kahale."

"But he's not a chief."

"He is for the mob, but that's no matter. He is probably descendent of chiefs."

For a moment Williams ground his teeth in silent frustration. This was tough to handle diplomatically, but his path was clear. "Kono, we can't just leave. What would Steve say?" Dan almost patted himself on the back for that stroke of brilliant tactic. Put the blame back on old Steve. Indeed, it was a sobering reminder for them. They both had to answer to McGarrett in the morning. Dan WAS NOT about to report they had left their assignment because of Kono's spooky feelings! They might as well walk into a bubbling volcano, because that would be the exact temperature of McGarrett's temper!

Kono's disappointment was enough to spur the younger cop to continue.

"We've got to wait it out, Kono. You don't want to be the one to tell Steve we left because of some mysterious ghosts."

"They are not ghosts."

"All right, Marchers. Still, we can't --"

"Shhh! Did you hear that?"

Williams cocked his head. There was something, just on the edge of the faint wind; beyond the constant rush of the surf and the muted tones of traffic. It was something -- chanting, almost singing -- he FELT it brushing against his prickled skin, heard it with his ears --something--whispered deep in his soul.

"Voices."

"They're coming."

Williams looked around to the ocean. Surely he imagined the tiny glows of gold, flickering light that looked like a row of torch-flames wafting in the wind.

"We have to leave!" Kono whispered desperately. He started the car.

Williams stopped the engine and pulled out the keys. "Kono, we can't go! What would Steve say?"

"The Marchers kill any mortal who sees them."

Forcibly, Williams ignored the shiver along his spine. "We're not leaving."

Again, Williams turned to look toward the beach. Strange -- it really did look like a procession of torches. He turned to his companion and caught a pile-driver punch right on the jaw.

* * *

Dawn's first gold rays were peaking over the humped ridge of Koko Head, when McGarrett braked the big Mercury with a screech of tires as he swung into the parking lot of Waialae Beach park. He had spared only a glimpse at the white house with police and medical vehicles in the driveway, as he had zoomed past. What happened there was of less concern than the events across the street. Already in the park were a black Five-0 issue sedan, an HPD patroller, and an ambulance.

He slammed to a halt and leaped from the car to join an ambulance attendant hovering over Dan and Kono. Williams had a cold pack covering the side of his face. Kono was covered in a blanket -- and nothing else! McGarrett halted, uncharacteristically stunned beyond the ability to speak. He simply stared at his officers. His presence was quickly noted by Williams, who gave him a nod, then nudged his companion. Kono glanced his way, then closed his eyes and shook his head.

"Steve," Williams mumbled around the obstruction.

"Awue," Kono sighed.

"Danno? Kono?" His tongue still too tied -- he shook his head and approached his officers. Carefully he lifted a side of the cold pack from Williams' face and winced at the puffy, bruised jawline.

"Ouch. You get hit by a truck, Danno?"

"Close."

McGarrett glanced at the big Hawaiian, his eyes roaming over the broad, bare shoulders. "You too?"

"Not exactly."

At a loss to find reason in the situation, McGarrett fell back on routine. "Let's try something simpler, gentlemen. Kahale died last night. Doc says heart attack. What did you two see?"

"Nothing," they chimed in unison.

The scowl of displeasure leaked into his tone. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Williams nodded toward Kalakaua.

"It's a long story, boss."

"I want to hear the whole, complicated tale," was McGarrett's ominous order. "My office in half an hour. Now go -- go find some clothes, Kono," he barked.

* * *

To the big Hawaiian's credit, his explanation was concise and clear. He began with a brief history of the Waialae area as a spot known to be a path for Marchers of the Night. His uncle, the Kahuna, had warned of Marcher's presence there. Kono had "felt" the Marchers would come.

"If they saw us we wouldda been killed for sure. If they spot you, the only salvation is to lie naked on the ground. They mistake you for dead.

The haole detectives were wisely silent.

"I FELT one of the marchers was an ancestor," Kono continued. "He mustta interceded for me, and the Marchers ignored me. I had to punch Danny to keep him from making a move and being spotted. I thought if he was knocked out and in the car, he'd be safe."

To McGarrett's credit, he did not speak -- did not even smirk -- during the recitation. He risked a glance at Williams and nearly lost his battle to subdue his amusement. Hawaiian tradition was something he would never scoff at, but this was the wildest legend he had come across during his many years on the islands.

"I know it sounds wild, Steve."

"That it does, Kono," McGarrett agreed levelly.

The Hawaiian shrugged. "Like my uncle says; 'what it is is what it is' ."

McGarrett could only nod silent agreement of the confounding quote. "It's been a long night, Kono. Take the day off. We'll see you tomorrow morning."

Kono left for some much needed sleep. Williams and McGarrett sank into the chairs in front of the desk.

"I guess I should be thankful he didn't have to undress me, too!"

"If I were you, Danno, I wouldn't question that old legend too carefully. Maybe Kono just didn't have time!"

Appalled at the thought, the paled, younger detective left the office. He would bury himself in busy work and out of McGarrett's path, though he knew it would not save him from McGarrett's tormenting jokes for the rest of the day -- week. The theory was confirmed when McGarrett's laughter was easily heard through the closed door.

PAU