WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT

by G M

 

June 1972

 


 

Pecking out the last sentence on the arrest form in his typewriter, Kono Kalakaua leaned back and stretched sore muscles. Paperwork ranked lower than stake-out duty on his scale of priorities. The trails of red tape, however, extended to every function of his Five-0 duties, and Kono accepted them with silent long-suffering. It did no good to complain, since protest would not make the paperwork go away and would only make him the victim of cruel, unsympathetic remarks from his colleagues. No one, including McGarrett, liked the details of police work, but they all suffered from the malaise.

 

Better than getting shot at, he reasoned. Having his share of 'purple-heart badges of honor' in his career at Five-0 -- shootings, beatings, attacks -- he thought maybe he should reevaluate his bottom five complaints about the job. Sobering, he knew his irritations were just part of his mood. He was stacking up reasons to complain to justify the actions he had put off all day.

 

From his desk drawer he took a sealed envelope with McGarrett's name printed on the front. He should have delivered it first thing in the morning. Then, however, Chin had been at the coffee stand already, passing around homemade coffeecake made by his wife -- a renowned cook. With extra streusel topping just for Kono. Moments later Williams came in, helping McGarrett, who was on crutches from the last brush with danger encountered by the two top Five-0 officers. [OVER THE EDGE] Jenny arrived soon afterward, scooping big servings of cake onto paper plates for all the detectives and countering Steve's irascible comments with witticisms. Like many encounters in the office, the familial interlude soon gave way to the business of the day, but it started the morning out on a good tone. Kono couldn't deliver the envelope then. He had to wait for a better time.

 

Later in the morning Chin and he went out on a call to Kaimuki. On the way back to town they stopped for lunch at the Kelly house. Mai Kelly was nice enough to fix them both fresh rice bowls, with leftover eggrolls and cookies. The generous hospitality and friendship overwhelmed Kalakaua and he confessed his intentions to Chin and Mai.

 

"Hey, I have something to talk over with you two. You been married a long time. How you manage eight kids and working for Five-0?"

 

Chin shrugged. "Easy. I go to work, do what I need to, collect my pay. Whatever time's left over, I spend with my family. Mai, she in charge with the house and the kids. You worried about the job now that you're married?"

 

"Or is Lia worried?" Mai asked, knowingly. "I could talk to her if you want. It's not easy being a copís wife." Mai sat down next to the big detective. "Things going okay with you and Lia?"

 

Kono smiled just thinking about the wonderful girl he married a few months before. "Couldn't be better. Well, maybe it can. I got a chance to go to the Big Island and work as assistant chief to Ted Ohano in South Hilo."

 

"Wonderful, Kono." Chin finished the congratulations with a hearty pat on the back.

 

"We'll have you and Lia over on Saturday to celebrate," Mai decided instantly. "I'll bake one of my special pineapple cakes."

 

Hearing Kono out on the details, they agreed he had a wonderful opportunity and should follow-through with the chance of a lifetime. Kono's in-laws lived on the Big Island and it only made good sense to make the move.

 

"We'll miss you." Chin offered praise of his colleague, then finished. "Five-0 won't be the same without you. Just remember, you always ohana to us, bruddah. When will you leave?"

 

"Chief Ohano wants me there starting on Monday."

 

"That's wikiwiki, bruddah. What did Steve think of this?'

 

Kono made a study of the linoleum floor. "Don't know yet. Haven't had a chance to tell him."

 

Chin shook his head. "I don't think he's gonna like losing you, Kono."

 

The big man shrugged. "He'll still have you and Danny."

 

Chin agreed, but repeated his feeling that it just wouldn't be the same.

 

As soon as they returned to the Palace, Kalakaua intended to walk right into McGarrett's office for the dreaded confrontation. Fate had other ideas. Steve was in conference with the attorney general. The big case against Dr. Southmore was unraveling and that meant major tension in camp for the duration. When the attorney general left, he slammed the door to McGarrett's private office, a sure sign the meet did not go well.

 

'Not a good time to go into the jaws of death,' Kono reasoned.

 

Soon Jenny came by with the blank arrest forms he had requested. Always perceptive, the secretary asked how he was doing, how Lia liked the apartment in Pearl City. They chatted with small talk for a few minutes, but Kono's heart wasn't into the usual socializing.

 

"Something's wrong."

 

It was a statement, not a question. Jenny sometimes knew these things -- intuition, or detection -- she just knew. Her uncompromising stare indicated she wanted to know what was going on, mostly wanted to help. Without too extensive interrogation Kono spilled the news. Typically, Jenny was delighted and sad. Happy for the detective, but melancholy about losing such an important member of the Five-0 family.

 

"I'll miss your bad jokes and your good appetite," she teased. "I know Steve and Danny will certainly miss you." At his sour expression, she gave him a knowing stare. "Didn't you tell them yet?

 

Kono sighed. "Not yet."

 

Jenny patted his shoulder. "Batten down the hatches, sailor. We're in for some rough weather ahead."

 

*****

 

At the end of the afternoon Dan Williams arrived, looking every bit a harried, out-of-time detective. Much of Steve's roaming appointments went to Dan until the boss was without a leg cast. The sandy-haired second-in-command paused at Jenny's desk to ask if Steve was busy. She said he was anxiously awaiting Dan's arrival and Williams breezed through to the inner sanctum.

 

Kono watched the scene, wondering if he should do the same as Williams. With Danny in with Steve, maybe the news would be cushioned a little better. Maybe he was spooking himself for nothing. Steve was his boss, but also a friend. He'd been generous with time off for a honeymoon and with a nice present when Kono got married. Certainly he would want the best or the Kalakaua family. Even if that meant leaving Five-0? That's where the fantasy ended.

 

McGarrett thought of his police unit as his ohana and jealously guarded the interests of all the detectives and their respective families. Kono was apprehensive to confront Steve because he knew his boss would not want a change in the smooth-working unit, in the family Steve adopted as his own. Knowing his nerves were more twisted with every passing minute, he decided to take the plunge. Inhaling deeply, he seized the envelope and went to Jenny's desk.

 

"You think this is a good time to talk to Steve?"

 

Jenny's expression soured. "I don't think there'll be any time that's good, Kono, but maybe it'll be better while Danny's in there."

 

Kono acknowledged that was exactly what he had been thinking. Giving a tentative tap on the door, he entered the private office.

 

"Steve, can I talk to you?"

 

Slowly, Steve McGarrett swiveled around from his view of the Palace grounds to face his detective. McGarrett's left leg, encased in a cast, bumped against the desk. Grinding his teeth, the head of Five-0 readjusted the chair to face Officer Kalakaua. Dan Williams, standing near a chalkboard to the side of the room, stopped writing notes and watched the Hawaiian.

 

Just a few weeks before, McGarrett suffered injuries, most seriously a compound fracture, during a case on the Big Island. Coping with the limitation was trying on McGarrett's nerves. The whole office staff seemed to be wary of the Irish temper sizzling close to the boiling point on a daily basis. One of the valid reasons why the big Hawaiian so gingerly hovered near the door, seemingly ready to flee the danger zone in an instant's notice.

 

"Did you finish the arrest report on Dawson yet, Kono?"

 

"Uh, no. Almost. I have something else I wanted to talk to you about."

 

McGarrett indicated he was ready to listen. Even Williams stepped from the board to lean on the edge of the desk. Kalakaua plunged ahead.

 

"Lia's family lives on the Big Island. While we were there last time I talked to Chief Ohano. About working for him on the Big Island." McGarrett straightened, his back stiff, his eyes unwaveringly set on his detective. Warily, Kono continued. "He called me last night. There's an opening in South Hilo for an assistant chief of police. He's asked me to go work for him." Kono placed the envelope on the desk. "I told him I would take the job."

 

Frozen, McGarrett said nothing, nor did he make a move to accept the missive.

 

Dan moved forward, words finally stuttering through the surprise. "Kono, that's great." Stunned emotions belayed the message. "What an opportunity for you and Lia."

 

Grateful for a positive reaction, Kono focused on Williams. Sharing some details, he almost forgot about the silent boss. Glancing back at Steve's glacial expression, the detective continued, quickly relating he would be leaving at the end of the week. The time limit galvanized McGarrett, who finally spoke for the first time.

 

"Pretty sudden, don't you think?"

 

Kono's usually enthusiastic personality was subdued. "Ohano needs me on Monday."

 

"And Five-0 doesn't?" It was a challenge.

 

"I'm just married, Steve. I need the time to spend on my wife, someday my own family. Can't do that with Five-0. I'm sorry, Steve, but there's just not room for a wife in this job."

 

McGarrett's jaw worked back and forth. "Chin's managed with a wife and eight kids!" Each word grew louder, more sharply enunciated. "He's survived HPD and Five-0! You've been married a few months and suddenly there's no more room in your life for Five-0?"

 

The phone rang and all three jumped. McGarrett let it ring two more times before answering it. Disinterestedly, he held it up; saying it was for Danny. Commenting he would take it in his office, Williams gave a sigh, glanced at both men, then left.

 

A moment of silence further unnerved Kono and he offered another explanation. "Sorry this is so abrupt, Steve - I just - I just feel it's the right thing to do."

 

McGarrett's blue eyes bore into the detective. "The right thing to do." A whispered condemnation. "Then that's what you need to do, Kono. Of course, I wish you the best of luck with your future." Anger, resentment, regret colored his tone, contrasting the words with astringent emotion. "I'll have Jenny draw up the paperwork and have your paycheck ready on Friday."

 

It was a dismissal. Feeling sad and lucky at the same time, Kono left the office, returning to his cubicle. Although he knew this was change for the better, mixed feelings filled his heart. He would miss Five-0 and his friends in the police unit. Being a child of the remote island of Lanai, he would not miss the congestion of busy Honolulu. Most of all, he would remember this day and regret the unpleasant parting with his friend. Certain his decision was right, the greatest discomfort in departure came from the pity he felt for McGarrett. Possessive and protective of the Five-0 ohana, Steve had a hard time letting go - a hard time believing there was a life outside the walls of the Palace. Kono hoped one day they could smooth over the differences. That just wouldn't happen today.

 

PAU