A Windy October Night 1971
“If it weren’t for the foliage, we’d be able to keep an eye on Kennedy’s place from inside that cemetery back there,” Dan Williams mused as he pulled the binoculars from his face and set them on the car seat between himself and Chin Ho Kelly.
“Another reason to love trees,” muttered Kono Kalakaua from the back seat.
As Dan turned the ignition, a grin brightened his expression. “Did I just feel the car shudder?”
“That wadn’t the car, bruddah,” the Hawaiian admitted easily. “Makai Cemetery ain’t no place to be hangin’ round in the dark – especially in stormy weather.”
Williams smiled broadened, and Kelly’s brow furled slightly in concentration as he glanced over his shoulder at the man behind the driver. “That’s not Nâ Iwi Huhű, is it?”
Before Kono could confirm the Chinese detective’s question, Dan spoke up. “The place of Angry Bones – that’s it, but if you ask me, there probably aren’t too many cemeteries that don’t have at least one or two justifiably angry bones in them.”
“There’s more than bones in THAT place,” Kono returned.
“It’s the giant bushes blocking our line of sight to the suspect’s house that are bugging me.” Williams turned the Ford LTD around with a mid-road u-turn, and slowly rolled down the street as he peered toward the wind-driven, dancing shadows in the old graveyard. “As a matter of fact…” The second-in-command of Hawaii Five-0 breathed as he turned the vehicle suddenly into the service driveway.
“Oh, no, Danny! Don’t do it, man!” Overt concern registered in Kono’s tone. “Why you wanna play with fire?”
The Chinese detective neutrally added his voice. “Danny, you right about da bushes – we can’t see anything from the car through them, so what are you doin’?”
“You said it, Chin – we can’t see anything from the car.” Williams explained distractedly as he focused on maneuvering the vehicle down the narrow dirt road. Potholes, camouflaged by the dark, made the drive a bumpy one.
“We’re NOT gettin’ out of the car in a place where angry spirits hang out!” The Hawaiian detective’s tone made his pronouncement seem like an edict, but it neither surprised nor swayed the higher-ranking detective behind the wheel, who gently braked and put the car into park.
“I’m not gonna let a myth about ghosts wandering around here keep me from checking out what might be a great stakeout spot,” Dan came back quickly as he pulled the latch on the car door, and then looked back with steely determination at Kono.
Kalakaua fired a near-desperate, say-something look at his Chinese colleague, who gave a stalling clear of his throat before coming up with an argument he thought might sway Williams. “Danny, maybe it ain’t a good idea for you to be crawlin’ around in the bushes just yet. If you hurt your shoulder again anytime soon, Steve’s gonna be real unhappy with you.”
Chin knew the younger detective well enough to realize that disappointing the head of the state police unit was something Dan would fear more than ghostly apparitions, and in fact, the words did give Williams pause. He’d only been cleared for field duty for a few days after being desk bound for more than a week during the final stages of his recuperation from the sniper’s round he’d taken earlier that month. [See episode: AND I WANT SOME CANDY AND A GUN THAT SHOOTS. See BH Fanfic: NO BRASS, NO AMMO, NO PEACE.]
After a brief consideration of the possibility presented by Kelly, Dan shrugged and his lips twitched in humor. “I bet I’ll be safer in these bushes than I was questioning suspects downtown yesterday,” Williams’ eyes grew slightly in a hint of mock drama. “UNLESS Kahoku has got a bone to pick with me.”
The Hawaiian detective’s eyes narrowed slightly. “You know the warning as well as me – you kama'aina' – you should leave the spirits to their pain on nights like this.”
Dan gave a mildly exasperated sigh as he climbed out of the car. “Okay, fine – you guys wait here. I’ll check it out myself—oh, and I’ll try not to upset anything.” The detective left the door ajar and strode into the blackness.
Kono popped his fist on the seat back in frustration. “Why an akamai guy like Danny always have to push things he’s been warned not to push!”
There weren’t many locals who didn’t know some version the legend of Makai Cemetery and its ghostly beginnings. What actually happened had become obfuscated over years of re-telling, artistic licenses taken in the name of heightening the drama, but the kernel of the story remained consistent. Late Eighteen-eighty-eight found Oahu in the midst of a particularly rainy weather pattern. It seemed that wind and rain pummeled the island nightly for weeks on end, saturating the earth, and making it difficult for even deep-rooted foliage to stay upright on hillsides.
The burial ground of Makai Hill, used then predominantly by Protestant missionaries and their converts, had become unsafe to traverse. The local kahuna placed a kapu on the area after several large trees toppled, but one young minister, particularly infamous for disrespecting native tradition, led a funeral procession up the hill. Nalani, a young Hawaiian woman – by some accounts a princess – broke the kapu to try to warn the mourners of the danger. This act angered her husband, Kahoku. Some versions of the tale explain the kanaka’s rage as controlled by spirits angered by the broken kapu. Others make mention of the man’s sour demeanor in general. Whatever the truth, a scuffle ensued in the mud as the missionaries tried to protect Nalani from Kahoku’s wrath. As if the gods want to put an end to the dispute, the clouds opened and released a torrent of rain, loosening the saturated earth. Within moments, a mudslide buried everyone.
Several locals watched in helpless horror from a distance as the scene unfolded before them. It was weeks before the kahuna allowed anyone to return to the area. Reports of ghostly apparitions warning those who ventured too close began to circulate in the weeks following the tragedy and never stopped. The cemetery did not re-open for burials until nearly forty years after that fateful day, when most who knew of the accident first-hand were dead.
“Put yourself in Danny’s shoes,” Kelly mused. “Can you see him tellin’ da boss, ‘Steve, we didn’t bother checkin’ out what was probably a good lookout spot because we’re afraida ghosts.’ Bruddah, we’d probably all three end up back here in the rain.”
The man in the back seat didn’t move for several seconds as he digested his colleague’s perspective. Finally, unable to shake the image of Steve McGarrett’s eyes angrily penetrating him, Kono groaned. “Man, we bettah’ get out there. I don’t want nothin’ to happen to da kakaina – unless it's ME that’s happening it to him!”
Chin grunted his agreement, and the two climbed from the vehicle to find their friend.
N N N N N
Regretting he hadn’t taken time to grab a flashlight, Dan chose his steps carefully while his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. The uneven, grass-covered ground was very spongy – the detective hoped it wasn’t too muddy since he was wearing his newer work shoes. He lost any notion that he was on a trail after a minute of wandering through the undergrowth in the general direction of the Kennedy property. A recent cloud burst had soaked the area, leaving the surrounding flora holding literally gallons of water on waxy surfaces. Williams felt his suit jacket becoming more drenched each time he pushed a branch aside. The dampness brought back too-fresh memories of his misery on Diamond Head after the altercation with the sniper. During their descent down the hill, the rain had soaked all of them – Dan, seriously wounded, had only a vague, almost cartoon-like recollection of the hike down the hill. What he still could feel viscerally when the memory arose was the bone-chilling rain. His current situation brought back that discomfort and the accompanying emotion.
A bit of regret seeped into his thoughts. He’d teased his friend about being too superstitious, but both of them had grown up on the knees of Hawaiians, who educated them in the Island ways and traditions. Unlike Kono though, as a light-haired, blue-eyed, Caucasian, Dan found a need to understand Western thinking, beliefs, and traditions. He was only subliminally aware of the reason, but his whole life had been a vacillation of fitting in while not fitting in. Orphaned during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dan was taken in by a generous and well-off Hawaiian family until his father’s brother returned from service in World War II to raise him. An unfortunate fire which killed his uncle when Dan was thirteen left him without a parental figure again, and so it was back to the Kulani family for the rest of his childhood. And so, as in his youth, Dan Williams always found himself with each foot in a different spiritual camp. Generally careful not to offend those who believed the old ways, for which he had the utmost respect, the detective still refused to let superstition rule him – especially while on the job, with Steve waiting for a report based upon facts and not ghost stories! No, Dan decided – he’d been right to check this out even if it did spook his Hawaiian friend.
His musings were spontaneously cut short when something un-plant-like moved ahead of him. An animal? He stood immobile and let all of his senses tune in to his surroundings. Bushes and trees swayed lightly in the post-storm breeze as he tried to reacquire whatever it was that had caught his attention. His heart rate picked up for several seconds, but began to settle down again as he began to decide that in fact the movement had probably been an errant tree branch.
The detective grinned and ran his hand over his damp curls. “Ghosts…”
Dan started to move forward, but stopped again, this time paralyzed by something another thirty feet beyond the suspect tree branch. Williams gasped and his blood seemed to drop ten degrees, but he continued his attempt to clear his focus on what appeared to be the outline of the top half of a human form! Gray and not completely solid, the figure seemed to move with the trees, but at that moment, Dan thought he could make out a forlorn expression as an arm fluidly moved up and seemed to be pointing somewhere. The wind picked up as large drops of rain began to fall again, thwarting the officer’s desperate attempt to focus more clearly on the sight, which his mind fought to refute.
“Stop,” Dan breathed quietly once, and then a little more loudly as the image vanished. “Stop!” Now more than a little frightened, the detective stepped forward trying to make sense of what he’d just witnessed. “Hello – I’m a police officer – who’s there?”
Only the elements responded as Williams warily trod over to where he thought the form had been standing. He squatted and tried to check for footprints, but the ground was too dark. Just as he stood, a large CRACK sounded above his head, and a tree branch rustled downward. Dan, realizing that something was heading his way, tried to leap out of harm’s way, but the grass was too slippery. The officer landed on his knees just as the branch struck him, and punched him to the ground with the ferocity of a wild animal.
Chin’s voice called to him, but with the wind knocked out of him, Williams lie still for several moments, as he took mental inventory of his physical being, and tried to take in enough air to not pass out.
“Bruddah – where you at?”
Finally, Dan felt recovered enough to respond. To his dismay, his voice did not carry as far as he would have liked. “Over… here… help…”
“Danny!” When Kelly cried out again, the two suddenly-concerned Five-0 detectives were nearly on top of the fallen officer. “Now where did that boy get off to?”
Both Kono and Chin heard him that time, and spoke in tandem. “Danny!”
“Ko…no,” Dan rasped as he reached up and tried to push the heavy branch off of himself.
“Hang on little Bruddah!” Kono nearly shouted as he collected the biggest part of the heavily-leaved branch, which was nearly ten feet long and eight feet wide. Only with concerted effort on the parts of both Kelly and Kalakaua was the offending plant matter moved enough to un-pin Five-0’s second-in-command. Dan crawled under his own power then from beneath the branch, and was helped to his feet by his colleagues.
“You all right, Danny?” Chin inspected the younger detective, who, despite his disheveled appearance, insisted he was not hurt.
“Really, I’m okay.” His tone was unconvincing as he warily looked around and distractedly brushed himself off.
Kono and Chin exchanged equally wary expressions, concerned that their friend did not seem to be himself.
“Danny, you sure you don’t need to get checked out—” Kono started, but was cut off by the object of his concern.
“I’m sure,” Dan continued to look around for several seconds before he realized he was being scrutinized. With a sigh, he pushed a hint of anger into his tone which he hoped would overpower the shakiness – the last place he wanted to end up this evening was a hospital. “Let’s get outta here.”
N N N N N
By the time they trekked through the muddy, wind-scoured graveyard, the rain lashing their faces, the leaves whipping their skin, the mud clogging their every step, the three men were soppy and weary. From the knees down their clothes were caked with thick grime and their jackets mottled with dirt and stuck-on debris. Williams was the worst, mostly globbed with smears of mud, his jacket torn, the knees on his trousers ripped open.
The physical appearances were hardly noted by the youngest officer. His attention was behind him as he made the slow trudge away from – from whatever that was he thought he had seen. With his companions on either side, sometimes providing helping hands on his arms, he could not linger. He wasn’t sure he wanted to pause, uncertain if he wanted to come face to face with that – that – thing – again – yet – part of him desired a better look, a more satisfactory identification of what it could have been.
When they reached his LTD, Williams slid along the side and leaned there for a moment, confused that he felt so weak and cold. It was a balmy tropical storm and even though his breath had been knocked out by the blow of the branch, and he was soaked, he felt like he had run a marathon and ended up in a freezer.
“Hey, bruddah, you shakin’ like you doin’ the hula,” Kono told him.
“Are you hurt?” Kelly asked.
Holding his hand out in front of him, Williams was dismayed that he could not stop the trembling. Delayed reaction to – to getting hit by the strong branch. Not to what he saw… no – he didn’t see anything. He climbed into the backseat more to conceal his reaction from the others than anything, but he was grateful for the shelter. Out of the wind and rain he felt better, but realizing he was still shaking he folded his arms across his chest.
“Danny, how do you feel?”
Chin asked him a question. “I’m fine,” he assured.
The two detectives still outside the vehicle exchanged one more round of confused expressions – Williams had climbed into the BACK seat of his car. Without words, the pair agreed that the big Hawaiian was now the driver. In a few moments, the car was in motion, Kono behind the wheel, and they pulled away from the cemetery, which now seemed cast in the eerie spectral shades of gray shadows melting into utter darkness. The faint tendrils of trees and bushes poked above the blackness to offer prickly decoration to the indistinct humps of tombstones.
Dan couldn’t help himself as he stared through the back window, hoping, yet not hoping, to see some other mysterious – whatever – in the graveyard. Something that would confirm he was not imagining things, but also relieved that his imagination did not conjure up another phantom to play tricks with his eyes and his mind.
Chin Ho kept a wary eye on the second-in-command as Kono wheeled the big car over the slick, not-well-drained driveways of the old cemetery. Danny looked pale and shaken. He was just recovering from that shoulder wound. The way he was holding his arm might mean he re-injured the wound. Maybe he was hit on the head. He was distracted, maybe even disoriented.
When Kelly tried to lighten the tense mood in the car, and jokingly suggested Danny might have suffered revenge from the insulted spirits, there was no reaction from Williams. Not rising to deliver a witty remark was just not like the detective. Exchanging another look of concern with Kono, the Chinese detective frowned and turned to the back.
“Danny, you hit your head in that fall?” The younger man did not respond, but continued staring out into the rain as if in a daze. “Danny?” he called more urgently.
Kelly glanced at the equally concerned Kalakaua next to him. “I think we better take him to the hospital –“
“No, I’m fine!” The much more typical, vehement response to the suggestion that they should seek out medical aid was more like the usual Williams. Kelly relaxed slightly, but was still not convinced.
Kono continued to insist, “We gonna take him to the hospital.”
Danny suddenly perked up. “No. “I’m not going.”
“You’re not driving.”
“But I’m fine.”
“If there’s something wrong, Steve will kill us.”
Knowing his colleagues were both concerned about his health, and even more worried about Steve’s reaction to the misadventure, Williams pulled his tattered thoughts into focus. There was no way he was going to the hospital and face an angry McGarrett over this. Generally unwilling to acknowledge his boss’s frequently over-protective stance towards him – and the responsibility McGarrett laid on the other detectives in the unit to keep him out of harm’s way – Dan decided the information was the best weapon he had on this night. His soft voice, still holding a slight tremble, was now nonetheless confident.
“If Steve finds out I almost… went down, he’s gonna want to know what you guys were doing.”
Kelly glared at him for a moment before yielding to the logical coup with a pained groan. “So, we all agree we want to avoid Steve tonight.”
Kono grumbled a warning. “Just don’t say anything when Steve checks in.”
That gave Williams pause. Steve would want a report of tonight’s excursion. What was he going to say? The whole evening’s duty was a blur after what he had seen – thought he saw. “Maybe he won’t check in.”
“He talks to you every night,” Chin glumly reminded.
Steve’s over-protective, big-brother nature kicking in after the recent injury. Dan silently acknowledged the truth, and then regrouped. “Well, nothing happened. We checked out the area, found a couple good vantage points, and that’s it…. Right?”
Before the two detectives in the front seat could agree, the radio, providing a constant buzz of background chatter, seemed to increase suddenly in volume as Dispatch signaled Five-0-Two: Dan’s designated call sign. Williams jumped in surprise, spooked that they had just been talking about their leader and, as if exhibiting his supernatural powers, he was trying to reach his officer.
Kelly picked up the mic and handed it back to the younger detective.
Dispatch repeated his name again before Williams clicked the button and acknowledged. Another crackle and the familiar, strong voice of his boss came over the air waves.
“Danno, how goes the recon?”
“Hi, Steve. Fine. Everything’s… fine. In fact, we’re done. Uh… just heading back now.”
The lack of immediate acknowledgement from Hawaii’s top cop made Kono and Chin shift uncomfortably. Their boss’s sixth sense exuded from the radio with no need of voice to convey the man’s suspicion that something was… off in his second’s demeanor.
Williams’ grimaced slightly – he felt it too – so he added, “We, uh, found a couple decent spots where we can keep an eye on the Kennedy place – I just hope the weather cooperates.”
After this transmission, McGarrett responded. “Okay, Danno… is that it?”
“Yeah, Steve – we’re all a little damp, so we’re gonna call it a night. See you in the morning. Williams out.”
Kelly took back the mic as he shook his head, doubtful of how well the conversation went. Williams leaned his head back and stared out the window, watching the streaks of rain glide up the glass. He was alternately shaking and cold, as if whatever had struck him in the cemetery was still lingering in ghostly tendrils along his skin. Under his skin. The eerie malady seemed to crawl along his nerves as he gazed out into the black, wondering what the images meant that played just-out-of-visual reach.
Kono pulled into a gas station, saying something about not having enough fuel to reach Honolulu. As the attendant joked about why he was bothering to wipe the windshield, Williams climbed out to get some air. To jittery to stay cooped up in the backseat, he grabbed some paper towels and tried to wipe off some of the bigger clots of grime from his person.
Officers Puna and MacKay pulled up in their HPD cruiser and gave a wave to the Five-0 detectives. Hooting in ribald amusement, they jibed at Williams, then the other two seated officers.
“You Five-0 guys going in for pig wrestlin’ or sumtin’?” Puna called out.
“You look muddier than the streets!” MacKay grinned as he watched Williams shake off his caked shoes.
Finding no humor in the situation, Williams turned a steely gaze on the HPD officers. “Ya know, we may be needing some assistance from HPD on this operation – I take it from your glee that you guys might be interested in volunteering?”
Puna and MacKay quickly fired glances at each other before MacKay let the cruiser begin to roll forward. Ineffectively muffling a snicker, he waved. “No, Danny – we’ll leave the dirty work to you!”
Dan didn’t return the wave, and instead climbed back into the sedan. The gas station attendant finished filling up the car and took Williams’ state credit card. After signing the receipt, he shut the door only a second before Kono pulled out of the station.
N N N N N
Try as he might, Steve McGarrett could not get his mind back on the paperwork before him. He was, instead, ruminating over the conversation he could not purge from his mind. The non-conversation, he should say. Something had been left unsaid. Checking in with his youngest officer was a task that had become routine during the last few weeks after Danno had been shot. The nightly visits with dinner had tapered off to include the occasional call when McGarrett worked too late to assert midnight meals on his recovering friend. Since Danno’s limited recovery work schedule, the visits had mutated again to become shepherding Williams out the door at the end of work and frequently sharing dinner then.
Today was the first field assignment of any length for Williams. Despite Steve insisting to himself that he had a lot more important things to do than worry about his more-than-capable friend, he acknowledged the subliminal concern which had never dispersed. The abbreviated radio exchange had raised suspicions, but he didn’t know of what. The assignment was simple enough – reconnoiter vantage points for a stake out. How much trouble could his detective get into with that? The mere question sent his guard up, knowing all too well trouble seemed to seek out Williams like a guided missile.
The speaker chatter on the radio caught his attention as informal commentary floated over the HPD waves. The title of his organization perked his ears, and brought his subliminal monitoring of the airwaves to the forefront of his thoughts. An officer was joking about the three muddy, soaked Five-0 rats he and his partner had just encountered on King Kam Highway. The kidding lasted only moments before a report of a hit-and-run accident took over the spotlight.
The words were hooked in his mind, though, and McGarrett wondered sourly what had happened to his men. Nor did he appreciate his unit – his men – being the subject of jokes. Curiosity and irritation distracted him from thinking of anything else. Danno had mentioned that the three of them were… what did he say? Damp. By the account of the HPD men, damp was an understatement.
The exchange with Williams, though, was somewhat explained. Danno’s atypical reticence meant he was trying to hide an unsavory incident during the seemingly routine mission. McGarrett did not like mysteries. He did not like being left out of any loop that concerned him. And anything his men got into was HIS business.
Shoving the paperwork into his desk drawer, McGarrett hardly paused as he swept by the coat rack and grabbed his jacket as he sped out of the office. Danno, Danno, Danno. What are you hiding? And why would you try to hide anything from me? You know better!
N N N N N
The brakes jammed Williams’ attention away from the window. “Oh, no,” Kono hardly breathed.
Williams sat up and saw the unwelcome sight of his boss casually leaning against the fender of Chin’s brown LTD in the HPD parking lot. Arms crossed, McGarrett appeared to not have a care in the world. As Kono wheeled the car into a slot, the headlights raked across the tall, statue-like figure of the chief of Five-0 and the grim set of the face was duly noted.
Williams climbed out of the backseat and gave a nod to the boss. “Hi, Steve.”
McGarrett looked him over, then Chin and Kono as they emerged. Mildly shaking his head, he brought his eyes back to Williams. He didn’t seem sure what to say, so he kept oscillating his head for a moment in complete confusion. Finally, he surrendered a sigh.
“Why was Kono driving your car, Danno?”
Williams blinked, glancing at the big Hawaiian who had distanced himself from the shorter detective. “I don’t know.” He didn’t know what else to say and certainly did not trust himself to elaborate about anything right now.
McGarrett was surprised at his second’s answer – a confused grimace revealed this fact. “You don’t know how you ended up in the backseat of your car?”
Dan’s expression changed from one of mild discomfort to concentration as he legitimately attempted to divine the reason he had not climbed into the driver’s seat when it was time to leave the cemetery. “Well… I… uh, I…I guess I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“And why is it that you weren’t thinking straight? Are you all right?” The head of Five-0 nailed him as he maintained a too-scrutinizing focus on the younger detective.
“Oh, yeah, Steve, I’m fine,” Dan insisted with less conviction than he’d intended to present.
McGarrett’s eyes narrowed slightly, but his attention was diverted to the Chinese detective, who cleared his throat.
“Learned a lot, boss,” Chin Ho offered with a forced smile. “We gonna have no problem up there.”
“Uh, yeah,” was Williams’ laconic response.
The mouth thinned in the precursor of irritation. “Did you find a good stake out spot, where we can keep a good eye on the house? Did you checkout the cemetery?” McGarrett’s eyes shifted back to his second-in-command.
Dan shivered. “Yeah – it was wet and muddy up there, Steve, but it’ll be fine.”
After several seconds of silent evaluation, the lead detective sighed, and decided to let the mystery ride – for the moment. He kidded, “Well, you all look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
None of them laughed at the joke.
“No problem, boss,” Kono cut in. “No ghosts.”
Williams crossed to the driver’s side and the other two officers edged toward their own cars, trying to scoot out of the limelight. They were all acting weird. As if they had something to hide, but sticking together. That was okay, not a big issue. No one was really hurt – as he had worried about Williams, he realized -- and it didn’t matter what the details were. They went out, did their jobs, and Williams was back to work. Not really back to normal, yet, but returned to the job. That was all he could ask after the last few weeks.
N N N N N
“Bruddah, are you sayin’ it WASN’T creepy?” Kono shuddered as he stepped through the corridor doorway and into the main office of the police unit.
Jenny Sherman looked up from her typing, distracted by the dramatic question posed by the Hawaiian detective. At his heels, Chin Ho Kelly followed, thoughtfully shaking his head. Intrigued at the strange conversation, she settled back to study the men as they trooped past her desk to stop at the coffee stand.
“I admit it – okay – I did have chicken skin for awhile,” Chin shrugged. “But only after Danny started acting funny.”
Dan stepped into the office, apparently having been trailing a good twenty paces behind the other two. The secretary studied Williams’ preoccupied demeanor, and noted the other two detectives exchanging a silent confirmation before their attention turned back to their colleague.
Jenny’s curiosity finally got the best of her. “What have the three of you been up to?”
The accusatory tone brought Dan out of his private reverie. “Today?”
Kono intervened. “Last night. Danny had us out stompin’ around Makai Cemetery. It was rainin’ and dark, the wind was howlin’. It was almost as bad as the stories say.”
“What stories?” Jenny frowned.
Dan responded with only a slight frown as he slipped past the petite woman and began perusing the papers in his IN box. Kelly jumped in and quickly glossed over the legend.
Afterward Jenny tsked, “Ghost stories – my boys have been spooked by ghost stories! The top investigators the governor, HPD and even heads of state turn to for answers. Steve McGarrett’s finest,” she teased as Kono and Chin retreated to their offices. “If the outside world only knew the truth.”
The Chinese detective defended the trio’s nocturnal misadventure from his doorway, and then added, “We were hopin’ to find a decent spot for the Kennedy stakeout.”
“Well, we didn’t as far as I’m concerned,” Kono called out from his desk.
With a mischievous chuckle, Chin took a sip of his freshly poured cup of coffee and spoke to Williams’ back. “Maybe Danny will volunteer for the night duty there!”
Dan stiffened slightly, and began to turn, but stopped short before taking a deep breath. It almost seemed as if the detective was pulling together an extra measure of composure. His resolve apparently steeled, he finished his turn, and coolly announced, “Why wouldn’t I volunteer?”
He started to say something else, but thought better of it, and quickly dipped into his cubicle.
Jenny exchanged a perplexed shrug with Kelly before returning her attention to Williams. “I don’t suppose you were in the least bit phased by the ghost stories and trespassing in a graveyard on a stormy night?”
It was clear the teasing question registered with the detective, but he did not stop sorting through the pile of papers on his desk as he provided a monotone non-response. “I gotta get over to the lab, and then to HPD. – Tell Steve I’ll be back as soon as I’m done.”
With that, Williams grabbed the documents and his notebook, and rushed down the aisle and out of the room. Jenny continued to stare at the hall door where the young man had just exited. Much more subdued and quiet than expected. Danny always gave as good as he got, and more, in the quick wit department. She had been waiting for some of his humor to counter hers. She wondered what was going on with him.
“You see – he’s still acting funny,” Chin judged, as if divining her silent question. “Hasn’t been the same since last night in the cemetery. Maybe he DID see a ghost!”
Kono emerged to lean on the doorframe of his cubicle. “Danny don’t believe, man. He would never see spirits from the other side.”
The absurdity of the time-wasting conversation suddenly struck her as ridiculous – discussing ghosts with the most pragmatic men – save their leader – in the state! Picking up on the typing again, she voiced, above the speedy plucking, “Maybe there is something much more tangible that worries Danny.”
Curiosity winning, Kono and Chin both approached the desk. “Like what?” the Hawaiian wondered, obviously skeptical there could be a stronger supernatural power than the cemetery spirits.
“Like knowing Steve wants results on the sugar cane murder and a report on your stake out on his desk before noon. You know how he feels about this case.”
Chin and Kono had been here three years ago when well-known businessman Brian Kennedy’s socialite wife, Amy, had disappeared during a torrential storm similar to the one that was whipping the islands now. Circumstantial evidence: a public argument that night at a Waikiki restaurant, suspicion the wealthy entrepreneur was seeing another woman, the thin story that Sally had stormed out of the house late that night, never to be seen again. McGarrett had been under pressure then to bring in the evidence to convict or acquit the well-connected suspect, but there had been nothing conclusive either way. Kennedy had moved away under a cloud of gossip. Three years later – almost to the week -- the last in October – news that Kennedy was returning via cruise ship to re-establish residence in the old house began appearing in the gossip columns on both sides of the Pacific.
“Yeah, that would do it,” Chin admitted, walking back to his desk and immediately getting to work.
Kono’s pace was slower, but when he sat down and started writing on a report form it was obvious the sober warning had affected him. Despite what ancient legends and creepy misadventures outside these walls, no ghost, myth or paranormal energy could compete with the very real wrath of the most powerful force in all their lives – their boss.
N N N N N
The whole scenario was so typical, McGarrett felt he must have lived this moment a hundred times or more. Yet, as he paused in the doorway of his second-in-command’s office, he could – feel – something was different. Off-balance. Not quite right. No matter what synonyms he attached to the scene, it came up the same. Hardly the kind of observation befitting the top cop of the state police, but nonetheless, a summation of what he had seen, heard and assessed over the last few days.
Danno staying late, well after the rest of the staff went home, was not unusual. Working on his own leads and trails to inch forward in an investigation, the younger cop often remained here to finish a task before calling it a night. Frequently, he remained behind with McGarrett, both of them going over evidence and loose ends to get to a satisfying end that they could accept enough to close these old palace doors and go home to get a few hours sleep.
The last few days, though, now that McGarrett had a brief moment of retrospection, he realized there was a behavioral difference in Williams lately. Subdued. Intent on some private mission in his office that drew him away from the others at every opportunity. Securing personal time even while working and surrounded by others. Very unlike the mostly gregarious and upbeat Williams.
Intrigued, curious, and concerned, the boss edged closer, trying to read over his friend’s shoulder to see what significance the newspaper clippings held. Whatever they were, they held Williams’ attention almost to the exclusion of everything else.
Startled, Williams jumped, immediately stashing the papers into the desk.
“What’s up?” he smiled, a little amused.
“What do you mean?” Williams shot back too fast, striving too hard to achieve a mask of indifference on his face.
Taken aback by the odd reaction, McGarrett tottered on the brink of confusion. It was almost as if Danno was – hiding something? Why? What would he have to hide from him?
“Uh – yeah – of course. Why not?”
The unstable ricochet made him even more suspicious. There WAS something wrong. “I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.”
He knew his friend inside and out, able to perceive the emotions readable at nearly all times. Danno was hiding something – painfully obvious. What? Why wouldn’t he admit it? Push him? Cornered, would he give in to the truth, or become more defensive? Mentally scanning over the last few days, he could not define anything that was specific to support his hunch, just a feeling. No specifics.
What if Danno had something private he wanted to work out on his own? A relationship issue with a girl? Maybe a problem with his aunt on the mainland? Perhaps a territorial dispute with Walter Stuart or someone giving him a hard time at HPD? Danno did not bring him into it. Maybe he wanted to handle it himself without the big boss stepping on toes. Maybe he didn’t want his love life exposed to anyone, even his closest friend?
The possibilities were endless. While he felt slighted that Danno would not confide in him, he admitted there were many things he kept inside that he did not discuss with others. Not even Danno. Every man was entitled to some privacy, right? Right… even though his instincts were telling him something was up . . . .
McGarrett slowly nodded and stepped out of the cubicle, “Right… okay, then. I guess I’ll wrap up a few things and call it a night.”
“Uh, yeah, good idea,” he offered a tentative smile, apparently relieved that his boss was not going to press the issue – whatever it was – and returned to shuffling some papers into an envelope. “See you tomorrow.”
“Right.” The lead detective made it to his office door before he reconsidered. Something’s up. He given Danno several (OKAY – three!) days to work through what was eating him on his own. Now, it was big brother time. McGarrett reversed course quickly, and re-announced himself within seconds of bidding Williams good night.
The fact that Dan jumped yet again confirmed in the Five-0 chief’s mind that he was doing the right thing. Williams blinked at him while he worked to mask the impatience, a hint of which was momentarily – and atypically – visible on the youthful features.
The expression gave McGarrett pause for only a moment before he plunged ahead. “On second thought, would you mind coming into my office for a few minutes?” Not waiting for an answer, he turned and strode into his office, knowing that his second knew him well enough to recognize an order disguised as a request. He had just grabbed his coffee and settled into one of the white, leather chairs usually reserved for visitors when Dan entered and settled into the neighboring twin chair.
Williams spoke first. “Is there something wrong, Steve?” His tone was wary, already sensing / suspecting a trap of sorts.
McGarrett sighed. “Yes, Danno, but I have no clue what it is.”
The two friends stared at each other for several seconds while Dan digested Steve’s meaning. At last, the younger detective gathered the reason for the meeting. He insisted. “Like I told you – everything’s fine – there is nothing… tangible wrong.”
“Nothing tangible. –Is there something intangible wrong, my friend?” McGarrett, already sensing that Dan was preparing to rebut the supposition for the umpteenth time, quickly added, “And please don’t insult my instincts by denying that something is not distracting you. I know you, Danno, and over the past few days, you’ve been jumpy, quiet, testy, and secretive – none of which is like you. Now, what can I do to help?”
The older detective’s deep blue eyes maintained a fix on the man sitting two feet away, and a good twenty seconds past as Williams conducted an internal debate. By way of encouragement, McGarrett offered, “You know you can trust me.”
Dan’s eyes grew large briefly. “Of course, Steve – it’s not that-- never think that I don’t trust you – please.”
“Then what is it? Tell me!”
Another few seconds of hesitation ensued as Dan tried to find the words. Finally, they spilled out slowly. “At the cemetery the other night…” Williams looked away for a few moments before he met McGarrett’s penetrating stare. “I thought I saw… something… something that I couldn’t have seen.”
“Go on,” Steve encouraged evenly.
With a deep breath, Dan plunged ahead and told the tale of his encounter with the ghostly visage that rainy evening. Steve listened, careful to not to react outwardly, despite the fact that his friend grew more agitated with each passing minute.
“I’ve been over and over it. I even went so far as to go through past police reports about unusual events in the area, and – barring the usual prank-type calls – I haven’t found anything.” Dan stopped speaking suddenly and looked away. “So… do you think I’ve lost it?”
McGarrett remained silent and continued to study his protégé until Williams’ eyes found his again. “Lost it? Not a chance, Danno.”
The relief which washed over Dan’s persona was palpable – to know that his mentor did not think him mad -- was a tremendous relief. Still, the events of the night were unexplained in his mind.
Visibly moved at the words of support, Williams continued, “I don’t have a good explanation.”
The firm word finally evoked a crooked smile from Dan. “Yet…”
“Danno, trust your eyes, like I do. Now, tell me again what you saw. Then, what say we return to the scene of the crime and make some sense of it.—” The lead detective glanced down at his watch. “It’s about the same time as it was that night.”
Gratitude for the rational lens his boss placed on the situation, Dan admitted that he’d already returned twice, but not at night. “Mahalo, Steve.”
“You’re welcome,” McGarrett grinned. “Now let’s take it from the top.”
N N N N N
Unable YET to fathom a rational explanation for Williams’ spooky experience at the cemetery, McGarrett mentally chewed on several other concerns as he drove through the misty streets of Honolulu. The moonless, shrouded October night dripped with the ravages of an intense tropical storm as well as the more ethereal elements of the imagination. The wind, the rain, the inadequate illumination from pale street lights lent power to the mystic ghost stories in the backs of their minds as the pair made their way toward the windward coast.
Makai Cemetery swirled in legend like many places in the Hawaiian Islands. It was hard to find a spot where there was not some supernatural story or sacred legend attached. Burial grounds, heiau, sacred stones – all of them popped up now and again as new discoveries. Some were known through local folklore for decades, even centuries.
Finally, pulling off the highway and into the dark, tree-shrouded asphalt of the winding graveyard path, McGarrett stopped the car where Williams indicated. The wind whipped particles of leaves, branches and dirt against the windshield. Faint scrapes of singing, blustery currents and the thrashing of the nearby surf-against-rocks raised the spooky factor high enough to send a chill along McGarrett’s skin. The atmosphere was right out of Poe and, with little imagination, he could picture ethereal substances moving in the deep shadows of the trees; picture unearthly shapes moving on the mist of the drizzly rain.
With tales of untimely, tragic deaths echoing in his ears, he could understand how the human mind could play tricks on one’s owner. He walked the narrow path between grave markers – in the footsteps of the princess who lost her life here centuries ago. As those years became more distant, the legend mutated and grew to include ghosts and unearthly mischief in these parts.
Evidence of anything unearthly was not expected. Instead, McGarrett read the signs that were elusively subtle, but far more familiar to him: Williams. Danno’s mood had been tense for days, and with the confession of “seeing” something in the cemetery, the attitude was explained. McGarrett wanted to dismiss it as his friend’s assimilation back to work after a bullet wound and the subsequent difficult path to recovery. He found it easier to write off Danno’s unsettled nerves as being a little gun shy after the injuries. But he knew – trusted -- Danno, and that put it all in a different light. If his friend said there was something in the cemetery then he believed it.
He cleared his throat, the sound a comfort – a human connection to sever the imagination from the realm of another dimension. He needed the reassurance to bolster his own flutter of creepiness. “As Holmes once told Watson, this agency stands on reason, no ghosts need apply.”
His friend did not sound convinced. “Are you afraid of ghosts, Danno?”
There was a slight pause. “No.” The younger officer looked at him, the partial light of the distant street light, the faint beams of headlights, reflected in a face that was trusting and true. “I don’t know if the old stories about the princess and the missionaries dying in Makai Cemetery are true, but I don’t believe in ghosts.” His voice was wry as he shrugged. “I’m more afraid of nuts with guns.”
The boss nodded, feeling that inner wince that came every time he remembered the incident on Diamond Head and his friend being shot by the sniper. Afraid of nuts with guns. That went for both of them. And it was also, probably, the answer to the mystery of Danno’s obsession with the cemetery incident, he just realized. The over compensation to get back on the job, get everything right, and pretend nothing happened to deter him from his duties – that was pure Danno. Throwing himself into the Kennedy case with extreme zeal – pure Danno. Unsettled by ghosts – out of character. Unless he factored in that there were emotional repercussions from the sniper shooting that were still lingering – different kinds of ghosts. Emotional wraiths. Danno – and Steve – were pushing for Williams to return to work. That was always a public and tangible proof that whatever trauma had affected either or both of them, it was pau. What if the emotions were catching up with Danno now? What if Steve had pushed him too hard and he wasn’t ready for the impact of murder and evil quite yet?
“What?” he blinked.
Williams’ scrutiny was exacting. “Do you believe in ghosts?”
A loaded question considering his musings. Weren’t they all haunted by spirits of one kind or another from the past, from their deepest fears? His smirk was grim. “No, but I believe in evil.”
Dan’s lips twitched in obvious appreciation of the sentiment he instantly recognized as his own as well. “Yeah, me too.”
McGarrett gently squeezed Williams’ neck. “Let’s go and see if we can find anything interesting out here and put your mind at rest.”
They retrieved flashlights out of the trunk and started walking at an uneven trudge through the grass. It was a dangerous trek. The grounds were old and unkempt and various debris, holes and weathered grave markers impeded the pace. Intent on the journey, the leader came up short when Williams grabbed onto his arm.
“Over there, Steve,” came Williams’ whisper. “That’s where I standing when... when the branch hit me.”
The lead detective pointed in the direction his friend was now looking. His own tension level was suddenly heightened as he tuned in to the environment. He shut off his flashlight to look at the scene as Williams had spied it a few nights ago. The trees swayed in knotted hulas, shifting with the wind and singing their dance of the dark. Light from the far-off street lamp cast enough of a distant glow to give the shadows and branches partial form. The yellow moon peaked out from behind a patch of clouds and the wind rose. For a moment it seemed the longest branch of the tall tree pointed across the cemetery. There was no logical reason to be quiet or wary, but McGarrett felt a need to tread carefully.
He questioned in an equally-quiet tone, “There’s no way the branch hit you BEFORE you saw—”
“No,” Dan interrupted quickly.
“Okay. You said the figure seemed to be pointing. Could it have been that tree limb moving with the breeze?”
Williams studied the area for a few seconds uncertainly, carefully observing the gentle sway of the foliage. Finally, he responded in an unconvinced and reluctant tenor. “Maybe… I can’t imagine what else it could have been. A stupid tree branch almost made me…” His voice trailed off as he continued to study the scene.
McGarrett guided his eyes from the darkness, and focused on his second-in-command. “I don’t blame you, Danno – even now – without the crummy weather obscuring the view – the shadows over there make an illusion of a human form hovering in the bushes.”
Still, Williams’ eyes remained focused, but he responded with a slightly lighter timbre. “So, do you have any explanations based upon your knowledge of my twisted imagination?”
McGarrett grinned. “Okay, maybe Kono’s stories played on some long-repressed childhood memory.”
“Memory of what, Doctor McGarrett?”
“I’m betting you’ve got a story or two to tell about sneaking around a graveyard when you were a kid.”
The theory-cum-accusation brought forth a single stifled laugh from the detective as he glanced in his boss’s direction. “You’re right – I do.” Dan grew a little more serious as he finished his thought, “And in honor of that fact, would you mind if we took a look over in the direction the ghost – or tree or whatever – was pointing? I know it’s silly, but I’d just like to feel like I’ve done a thorough investigation.”
McGarrett smile shrank marginally as he returned sincerely, “If anyone can appreciate that perspective, Danno, you know I can. Let’s go that way and see what we see.”
Williams gave a single nod of appreciation. “Right.”
The Five-0 chief followed the direction with his eyes. “Mauka,” he whispered. He flicked on the flashlight to follow the silent signpost. “Careful, Danno, this is nothing but mud,” he warned as they almost instantly slipped from the grassy hills to misshapen dirt.
“Run off from years of storms,” Williams assessed as the thin white beam of the light scoured across the eroded soil.
The pair tramped for fifty yards through the bushes along the top of a ridge, which demarked the beginning of the land’s gentle downward slope. Ten yards away, a row of trees thinly disguised the hill beyond. A blast of wind and rain splashed down on them and they started to scramble towards the shelter of the tall trees. Dan sidestepped to avoid a large root and slid on the slick mud, falling to his knees, then skating downhill. McGarrett spun around and grabbed his arm to stop the descent and help him to his feet.
Williams reached for his flashlight and grabbed onto a branch or root instead. About to toss it away he glanced at it. Recoiling, he gasped out a cry and threw it down. The light from McGarrett’s flashlight caught it all in an eerie spotlight. Amid the rain and wind, the dirt and dark, he had seen what Williams tossed to the ground. The beam followed the object to the mud.
“That’s a bone,” Williams identified with a gulp.
The light held on the unmistakable arm and hand bones pelted by the rain. Crouching down, McGarrett wondered what he could tell from this. A corpse dislodged from its coffin by the storm, or something more sinister?
As the beam traveled along the mud-encrusted ivory, McGarrett stopped at an unmistakable gash near what would be the upper shoulder. A deep cavity made by something sharp and cutting deep – a telltale result of violence.
“We’ll have to ask Doc Bergman to be sure, but I think Holmes was right. No ghosts need apply. We have enough mortal violence to go around.”
N N N N N
“Let me think… when was the last time I was talked into coming out to a grave yard in the middle of the night?” Doctor Niles Bergman closed one eye and wrinkled his nose in mock concentration momentarily before he answered his own question. “Oh, I remember – it was when I was fourteen!”
The medical examiner had just joined McGarrett and Williams under the umbrella of trees. The eeriness of the scene was mitigated by the arrival of modern technology. Arc lights, flashlights, revolving blue light from the police cars washed away any supernatural elements Hawaii’s two top cops had absorbed earlier. Spirits had long departed with the arrival of police, crime lab techs, and coroner personnel. Officers carefully searched the muddy banks and tree line for more bones. On a dark, vinyl, unzipped body bag, parts of a skeleton lay collected. One arm, both hands, one leg and one foot had so far been recovered.
“Doc, we need answers,” McGarrett grimaced as a gloved morgue technician placed what looked like part of a spine next to the other human remnants, all now protected from the elements by a hastily-constructed, tarpaulin pergola.
“Yesterday, yes, I know the drill, Steve,” the older physician complained as he looked over the remains. “But couldn’t this wait until daylight? I understand that the discovery of human remains needs to be investigated, but bones in an old cemetery after a week or two of gully washers don’t exactly scream murder, and imminent danger to the citizens of this state.”
Williams tore his eyes from the grizzly sight in the tent and focused on the ME. “Would it help if we told you that the residence of Brian Kennedy abuts this place?”
Bergman’s head snapped towards the detective and his eyes grew marginally larger as he assimilated the new information. “The same Brian Kennedy whose wife mysteriously vanished awhile back?”
McGarrett returned levelly, “One and the same, Doc, and he’ll be pulling up his driveway later today.”
Dan jumped in. “And it sure would be nice to know if these bones belong to Amy Kennedy before our suspect has an opportunity to rid himself of any more evidence that might be floating around the area.”
With a pained groan, the medical man conceded the argument. “Okay, okay. I get the picture, and I’m here.”
“I knew we could count on you, Doc,” the head of Five-0 smirked as Bergman took a step towards the bone collection.
“By the way,” Bergman stopped in mid-step and turned back to face the two detectives. “What were YOU TWO doing out here past the witching hour?”
“Investigating.” Steve returned succinctly after a perceptible hesitation.
Bergman looked over the top of his glasses to gaze first at McGarrett, then Williams. The two detectives exchanged a fleeting, secretive look. It was instantly obvious that he wasn’t going to get anymore from the pair of clams. The Three Musketeer oath paled in comparison to the loyalty that bonded these officers. Whatever experience had brought them to this unlikely place was going to stay between the two of them.
N N N N N
Later that morning, a little sleep and a lot of coffee under their belts, the trio re-convened in the morgue. Over the table they studied the nearly complete skeleton placed in a recognizable body structure.
“The pelvic bones tell us that the deceased was female. This gash and these two here,” Bergman gestured at three indentations in the skull as he explained, “were caused by a heavy object with a narrow edge. Any of these by themselves could have been fatal.”
“So we’re looking at homicide. – Could it have happened thirty six months ago?” Dan questioned as he wandered to the opposite side of the table to study the remains from a different angle, and absentmindedly massaged his shoulder.
“Difficult to say,” the medical examiner returned. “Possibly.”
“An edge . . . .” McGarrett ruminated.
“Possibly a shovel,” Bergman guessed as he rubbed his chin. “Based upon the angle of curvature of the wounds, it could be a spade. The depths of the cuts into the bone indicate considerable strength behind the blows.”
“Passion,” the boss supplied.
”That’s your department, Steve.” He toured around the top of the bones. “Roughly, though, she was the approximate height of Mrs. Kennedy.”
As the coroner drifted into the anteroom to revive himself with more coffee, he commented that the missing woman’s medical and dental files would be arriving any time, and he would be able to confirm or deny the victim’s identity soon.
McGarrett tried in vain to mentally overlay the image of Amy Kennedy against the assortment of bones on the slab. Without looking up, he interrogated his second-in-command. “What time does Kennedy’s ship dock today?”
When there was no response, he glanced across the table to his colleague and noted Williams’ intense study of the skeleton.
“What are you thinking?”
The younger detective looked to his friend, checked the other room to see Bergman at the desk, then turned back to McGarrett. “It’s a funny coincidence if this IS Mrs. Kennedy. We find her hours before her suspected killer returns, carelessly buried at the cemetery across the street from her house.”
McGarrett talked it out. “Crime of passion. The doctor loses his temper. Maybe they were outside. He grabs a shovel and bashes her head in. He panics and buries her in the most obvious location. But he doesn’t’ take into account the rains and erosion of the unattended graves.”
“Yeah, I guess it makes sense,” Dan sighed. “It’s just…” The detective did not finish his sentence, and finally, his boss took a step closer to him.
“I’m open to other theories, Danno, but you’ll need to at least voice them,” McGarrett half-joked. He suspected the fallout from his friend’s not-yet-completely-explained experience in the cemetery had not dissipated, but what was there to do? There was no way to recreate the exact conditions of that night – no way to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt what Williams had seen. Dan looked up and made eye contact with his boss, and, in that moment, it was clear that both men understood the problem.
“I don’t have another theory, Steve. I guess the best I can hope for is that we find out who killed this woman.” Running a hand over his curls, Dan re-focused on the issue at hand. “So what’s your plan with Kennedy? We can’t exactly race up and arrest him even if the bones do turn out to be those of his wife.”
McGarrett frowned, but already knew that to prematurely arrest anyone would not serve him in the end. “We’ll wait, Danno – as soon as Doc can confirms that we’ve found Amy Kennedy’s body, then we’ll at least have a justifiable reason to bring Kennedy in for questioning.”
N N N N N
“There’s no doubt, Steve”, came the voice over the speakerphone. “It’s her – Amy Kennedy. The dental records arrived, and I was able to quickly match a bridge on the victim to one on Mrs. Kennedy’s X-rays. ”
“You’re just in a nick of time, Doc,” McGarrett snapped jubilantly. “Brian Kennedy’s ship will be docking in thirty minutes!”
N N N N N
When the cruise liner pulled up to the dock at Aloha Tower, it seemed a scene right out of the old steam ship days. Until the last decade, traveling to Hawaii and the Pacific was more popular over the ocean than in the air. Up to a few years ago, the friendly hula bands played sprightly tunes while girls in grass skirts swayed their hips and greeted the arriving tourists and returning residents with flower leis. The cruise trade had fallen off sharply in the age of the jumbo jet, however, and the three day trip from the mainland no longer held the esteem of the golden age of touring in a jet-age world.
For the rich, the romantic, the retired, those with phobias against flying, liners were still the way to go. It was one, or several, of those reasons that brought Brian Kennedy back to Hawaii by ship. Standing in the shadow of the terminal, McGarrett scanned the people at the rail of the promenade deck waiting to disembark. The tall, lean form of his target was spotted quickly. Always an intolerant man (so it was surprising the rich businessman chose to cruise back to the Islands), Kennedy was standing close to the gangplank, impatiently tapping his fingers on the rail. Next to him, with an arm intertwined with his, was a stunning blond in a fashionable, tight-fitting dress of lime green. More than one man on the deck was watching her with interest, and casting envious glances at the man lucky enough to have snagged her.
“He’s not returning alone,” Williams commented.
Danno had alerted him to the San Francisco gossip that placed Kennedy with a popular socialite from that city. Months after his wife’s disappearance, tongues were wagging about the gorgeous blond who had latched onto the notorious businessman. In some circles, Kennedy’s reputation was enhanced by the mystery surrounding his wife and the wide-spread speculation he was a murderer, but no one – Five-0 -- could prove it.
The girlfriend had added veracity to the shadow of guilt cast on the leading suspect, but without any evidence the investigation had stalled. Now they had the body and proof of foul play. It was more than time to move on the prime suspect.
As Kennedy and the girl walked down, several reporters clamored through the crowd and started snapping pictures and asking questions. Inside his throat, Steve felt a growl threatening to surface. He had hoped to avoid such publicity, but he was anxious to waste no time intimidating a confession out of the slime. With the remains of Amy Kennedy now identified, it would be a whole different ball game as far as questioning went. To wait until the press evaporated was not practical – they would dog the man’s every move no doubt – and not advisable for the case. It had to be now.
Kennedy took the blond by the hand and shouldered past the aggressive reporters. Before he could reach the doors of the terminal McGarrett had his badge out and effectively blocked his way. The badge was a showy bit of drama, he admitted. Kennedy would not forget the cop who had hounded him – and some thought caused – the escape from Honolulu.
“Brian Kennedy, we would like to have a talk with you. Please come with us.”
No word of the skeleton found in Makai Cemetery had leaked out to the press so far, thankfully. It would have been a far worse circus if anyone knew this was more likely an arrest than a questioning. Amid shouts of harassment and police failure the first time, McGarrett walked beside Kennedy in a show of implied custody. Williams helped get the couple in the back seat, and then moved to the driver’s side of the Mercury, while McGarrett sat in the passenger’s front seat to keep his attention on the suspect.
“Still nothing else to do but hassle me, huh, McGarrett?”
“Brian warned me about you,” the blond negligently tossed at him while she casually scanned the view.
Williams had given him information on the girl but McGarrett had forgotten it. What mattered was she was the suspect’s ally. Where would her loyalty be if he showed her the remains of the late Mrs. Kennedy? That was a shock-treatment option up the road if he decided he needed to play hard ball with either or both of them. His ploy was subliminal intimidation; interrogation in the office of the state police, opportunity for confession, bring out the evidence when they resisted. There wasn’t a strong enough case to move forward with a trial, Walter Stuart had warned him, but he was hoping for a confession first.
“We have a few questions to ask you,” McGarrett shrugged coolly.
“You know I’ll call my lawyer as soon as I step into that old Palace.” He brushed some unknown particle from his expensive sports jacket. “I should have just stood there on the dock and insisted my lawyer meet me there.” He gave the cop a chill smile. “That would have caused quite a sensation. Front page. It could have been placed next to the picture of you in court, being sued for harassment.”
“You’re going to need that lawyer,” McGarrett levelly replied as he straightened in his seat. The car came to a stop in front of the Five-0 offices. “Oh, and did I forget to mention that,” he stared into the rearview mirror, “we found your wife’s body. Aloha, and welcome back, Kennedy.”
N N N N N
The unmournful demeanor of Kennedy rankled on the Five-0 chief. He was thwarted at every turn as the suspect reiterated almost verbatim the statement he’d made some thirty six months earlier. It was almost as if the man hoped to push the detective into some legal blunder before his legal counsel arrived, and there were certainly moments when the only thing that stopped him was a warning look from Danno, who stood at the back of the room as a tense sentinel, and a reminder that impulsive gratification was not what they needed now. Taking momentary calm from his cooler, more patient colleague, McGarrett had no doubt that Danno had Walter-Stuart-reprisals in the back of his mind if they rashly arrested Kennedy without sufficient evidence. Steve took a deep breath and moved around to stand behind his desk, staring out the lanai at the carefree people basking in the warm afternoon sun on the Palace grounds.
The circumstantial evidence marked this man as the perpetrator. The missing wife, the arguments in public, the rumors of his extra-marital affairs, him leaving town and closing up the house just two months after the wife’s disappearance. And before a year was out, he was back here with a hot girlfriend and rumors that he was going to court to have his wife declared legally dead. Police did not build cases according to newspaper gossip columns, but in a small city like Honolulu it was impossible to ignore the coconut wireless. Whether the stories meant anything or not, they were publicly circulated and the police were obligated to investigate. No other serious suspects even came to light during the investigation.
Not more than twenty minutes passed before Kennedy’s attorney arrived and ended the “voluntary” questioning.
The blonde gave the detectives a disdainful glare as she clutched her boyfriend’s arm on the way out of McGarrett’s office.
Kono and Chin stepped aside to allow the Kennedy entourage to pass them before they made their way into their boss’s office, where they noted Dan breathing an audible sigh (of relief?) as he leaned against one of the high-back chairs. The men all stood there silently for a few seconds as their leader machinated over their next steps. Finally, McGarrett popped his fist on the doorway where he’d wandered. “Chin, get up to his place and keep an eye on them from a discrete distance.”
“Right, boss.” Chin nodded and turned to leave, but Five-0’s second-in-command spoke up and moved toward the door.
“I’ll go, Steve.”
McGarrett’s brow furled. “Danno, you were up half the night last night – you’d better get some rest.”
Now standing in the doorway of his boss’s office, Williams turned to make eye contact with his colleagues. “I really need to do this, Steve.” When he noted the lead detective hesitating, he added, “Please.”
Kono and Chin blinked at each other – their friend NEEDED to do this? There was more to this case than they knew – this was apparent. With barely perceptible shrugs, they re-focused on Steve and Dan in time to note the silent communication between the two men.
“Okay, Danno – check in later.”
N N N N N
As Dan guided his vehicle around to the opposite side of Makai Cemetery, he noted with annoyance a few errant rain drops landing on his windshield. For a few moments, he considered whether he should just stay on the road near the Kennedy property line, but decided that discretion was probably best until more facts were uncovered. It would not have surprised him, after all, if some members of the press might drive up the road in search of a story after the incident earlier at the dock. This was his outward reasoning anyway. In his core, he knew there was another motive. The fear that had wracked him a few nights previously still hovered in his thoughts – a sentinel testifying silently to his irrationality. He had to move past it, and a trip through the graveyard – in the dark – alone – was somehow a way to do that.
Darkness was already upon the scene as Williams parked in a convenient recess in the bushes, and got out of his car. The crime scene crew had abandoned search operations with the darkness – with the identification of the victim, the sense of urgency had evaporated. The tropical air carried the scent of rain along with a myriad of floral scents. A sense of un-ease crept into Dan’s gut, and, try as he might to push it aside, it would not abate. Stubbornly, he pressed on through the bushes – no tree branch was going to scare him out of doing anything! At least, the ground had firmed up a bit – not much, but a bit, he silently noted. Within a minute, he was standing staring at the area where the foliage and weather had colluded to present such a terrifying specter. The detective stood there and observed as the trees moved in the breeze. Shadows frolicked menacingly, but nothing sentient appeared. It looked different on this evening than it had on either of the previous two nights he’d been here. There truly was no way to re-create the exact conditions which had caused the illusion, Dan reasoned. He smiled and ran his hand over his head as he felt himself relaxing marginally. Perhaps there was no reason to linger in the bushes, he mused. He could move his car—
The thought was brutally interrupted with a painful jolt to the back of his head. The blinding flash of light was the last thing that registered on the detective’s consciousness.
N N N N N
The ringing of the phone startled McGarrett despite the fact that he had been expecting a call from his second-in-command. It had been nearly two hours since his friend had taken his leave from the Palace and journeyed back to the cemetery. It was crystal clear to Steve why Danno needed to return. It was an in-your-face move that was typical of Williams’ personality. The younger detective had never been one to not push through fear and do what had to be done. Kono and Chin, along with the rest of the office staff, had headed for home shortly after Dan’s departure, so the entire office space, with the exception of the lamp on the big desk, was dark.
Popping the button on the speaker phone, McGarrett answered brusquely, and was momentarily surprised to hear the voice of the medical examiner.
“Doc, it’s after eight—” the detective started, but was cut off by the excited man on the other end of the line.
“Steve, it’s about the ID on the victim.”
“Doc, please don’t tell me it’s not Amy Kennedy.”
“Oh, it’s her alright, but it’s also somebody else – and somebody else!”
McGarrett stood with that cryptic remark. “What?”
“I confirmed that the remains of Mrs. Kennedy were in fact present on my table, BUT the crime scene guys dropped off another box of bones – some with quite a bit of un-embalmed tissue attached this time – and when I proceeded to inventory the rest of the human puzzle pieces, I realized that the two femurs do NOT match, and furthermore,” Bergman continued rapidly, “the hand bones are of disparate sizes, amongst other things!”
“Doc, you’re telling me that we’ve got the bones of more than one person!”
“Three people to be precise – Happy Halloween,” the medical examiner breathed.
N N N N N
It was in fits and starts that Dan realized he was moving – not under his own power, but somehow bumping along. The smell of mud and rust further served to revive him. He opened one eye with effort, and took a few moments to focus on the energy source of his conveyance, which he was peripherally aware was a wheelbarrow. A barrel-chested man in muddy, gray overalls trudged along purposefully, a determined, but bitter expression planted on his round features. Hawaiian heritage evident in his features, the grizzle-faced man was perhaps in his fifties – or perhaps a hard life had merely added years to his appearance.
None of these thoughts traveled through the forefront of the injured detective’s thoughts. Instead, his mind errantly harkened back to some of the facts of the Kennedy case. Why it came to him in that moment, Dan did not know, but somehow the sickening realization that he’d been caught off guard by the man who had murdered Amy Kennedy. The fact that his wife went missing was merely a fortunate coincidence for the cheating Brian Kennedy. Gardening. Amy Kennedy had loved gardening – her housekeeper had confirmed that it was the mistress of the house who maintained the lovely flower beds adjacent to the cemetery. The cemetery… it played a role in the murder, Williams sensed.
Who the burly thug was he could not concentrate well enough to consider.
Muttered angrily as he pushed the limp detective along the uneven surface. “Honor the kapu… honor the kapu…”
As the man’s mantra registered in the aware part of his brain, even through fogged senses and near-blinding pain in the back of his head with every jolt, Dan put the pieces together. This guy killed Amy Kennedy perhaps because he took umbrage with the proximity of her garden to the kapu area of the old cemetery! Had he killed others? Panic set in slowly as the detective realized that it didn’t matter – he was about to be the next!
A crack of thunder drowned out Dan’s cry as the wheel barrow came to an abrupt stop, and began to tip forward. Willing both of his eyes open, he could see that he was being dumped into a muddy hole / grave! With every bit of strength he could muster, he fought the momentum of his tumble, and managed to grab the leg of his would-be murderer.
Both men slid into the slimy, slushy abyss. Williams landed with a cushioned plop at the bottom of the hole, but elicited a cry of pain as the body of his attacker slammed on top of him. Fighting for breath, he struggled to free himself from the murderous struggles of the killer.
“No!” the man screamed in an anguish of the soul. “You made me break the kapu! They are angry with me!”
Mud and rain seeped into Dan’s mouth and he spit out the vile clogs as he fought to overpower the nut who was holding him down in this prison of sludge. As the hefty assailant with all the advantages pressed him further into the liquefied dirt, the detective struggled with all his might. Gasping for air, feeling the dampness sliding up around his face, knowing he had only moments left before he was buried and suffocated in the grave, he kneed the man in the chest and shoved him away with his feet.
Distracted by his moaning grief, or taken off guard that his victim could fight back, the man fell, unbalanced, back against the wall of the grave. Gasping, the man cried out in pain, then mumbled disjointed mutterings about the kapu. Dan edged away on one elbow, his re-injured shoulder in such pain he could no longer use it. When blood gushed from the mouth of the attacker and he went limp, Dan noted the end of a pick sticking out of the motionless chest.
Leaning his head up, Williams watched in grime-blurred fascination as an unearthly light glowed around the spectral tree branches in a nearly skeletal form. Was it an apparition on the edge of the grave, or the outline of branches through his pain filled, oxygen starved brain? “The kapu is lifted,” the wind seemed to echo. “The kapu is lifted . . . “
N N N N N
McGarrett raced through the streets towards Makai Cemetery with a sense of urgency he was not certain was justified. After receiving the startling news of that the graveyard was the burial ground for probably murder victims in addition to poor Amy Kennedy, Steve had tried in vane to raise his second-in-command on the radio. While it was no surprise that Danno had not responded to the call – he was probably out of earshot of the radio – the fact that there was not way to alert Williams to the new information filled McGarrett with unease. It seemed the unanswered questions grew with each new piece of evidence. Amy Kennedy’s murder could not have gone down the way his scenario was currently laid out. Why would Brian Kennedy have had to kill more than just his wife? Had the other victims had the misfortune to discover the murderer burying the body of his wife? It seemed highly unlikely that an “amateur” murderer could pull this off. With mild dejection, McGarrett realized that he had been wrong. He wasn’t sure which he disliked more – being mistaken or having to rework a job that he thought to be close to a conclusion. Being wrong, he decided as he turned down the road onto the cemetery grounds.
The graveyard was every bit the legendary, stereotypical, eerie, uneasy resting place of remains on this night of haunting spirits. The lashing rain and the whipping wind sent spooky wails through the singing trees, and scary shadows swaying in the occasional moonlight that peeked out when the clouds thinned. Cruising through the narrow roadways of the slopes, McGarrett scanned the paths for his colleague’s car or any sign of Danno. With the inadequate light and weather conditions dropping visibility, he had no success.
At the crest of a hill he stopped, the big car idling, the solid steel a welcome protection against the elements. Did Danno leave? Did he take a break to get some food? They had eaten little that day and coming up here on a lonely stake out vigil might have reminded the younger officer of how hungry he was. Did Williams relocate to a better vantage point for observing the Kennedy house? Snagging the radio mic he put in a call to Williams. Receiving no response spiked his concern level.
A torrent of rain and wind slammed into the windshield and the nearby trees strained, some branches cracking under the natural forces. In the headlights one of the limbs seemed to take on a form reminiscent of a human arm, pointing eerily back into the darker depths of the cemetery.
Chills coursing his skin, McGarrett watched the skeletal “arm” jabbing toward the other side of the hill. Was it an unearthly sign to take that path? Would that lead him to Danno? The drop in sudden temperature brought on a second wave of chills. For no reason logically explainable -- but perhaps a supernatural reason -- he followed his instincts. Launching out of the car, he tugged the collar of his jacket around his neck as he hurried along a narrow walkway heeding the “behest” of the tree.
The wind howling in spectral voices through the rattling leaves, he wished he would have remembered to grab a flashlight out of the trunk. An odd shape against the dark took on the recognizable image of a wheelbarrow as he approached. Just beyond that, an open grave. Nerves tightening, hairs raised on his skin, he warily approached.
The trees parted in the wind and a momentary split in the clouds brought angled moonlight into the hole. There was a crumpled body leaning against the side. Two bodies? It took a moment for him to realize the muddy lump at the bottom of the shallow grave was another body. Heart pounding hard against his chest he thought he saw the side of a rain pelted face –
Sliding down, nearly falling atop the corpse and Williams, he grabbed at his friend who was almost obliterated by the sludgy mud. The wet dirt served as a kind of quicksand, and when he yanked at Dan’s arm the suction pulled him off balance, slamming him into the wall of the grave. The action dislodged the corpse and it slid against him, pushing both rescuer and dead body into the chocolate-milkshake-type ground and smothering Williams.
Panicked, scrambling to clear the suffocating mud from his friend, McGarrett pushed away the corpse and cleared the slime form Williams face. Getting better footing and an improved grip on Dan’s shoulders, he tried again. The inert figure came free and McGarrett heaved him up the sloped walls of the would-be grave.
Reaching ground level McGarrett slumped over to catch his breath as he checked to make sure his friend was breathing. Yes. Danno was alive. Resting his head on the wet grass he waited for a moment before he carried the wounded man over to the car.
N N N N N
The noise of a door opening snapped his eyes open. It was a tremendous relief to see McGarrett entering the hospital room and taking a natural pose at the edge of his bed. The nightmares of being buried alive were as indistinct as the experience he remembered, but it gave Williams a thrill of fright every time he was caught in that semi-waking stage between consciousness and terror.
The reality of what had happened was not so far from horror. The insane caretaker of the cemetery had been killing people for years. The hunt for bodies was ongoing. He had attacked those he dementedly believed were breaking the ancient kapu of the graveyard. Williams had nearly been the last victim in that chain of the dead. If not for McGarrett, he would be six feet under right now.
“You look better,” Steve commented with a satisfied smile
“Not well enough to leave yet,” Doc Bergman corrected as he entered the room. “At least one more day in that bed young man,” he demanded of the recuperating detective. “You still look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
The expression made him wince with unease. Williams’ caught the startled expression on McGarrett’s face, and when his boss traded glances with him, he felt a shared communiqué of understanding.
“So it’s more bed rest, Danny.”
Inclined to argue, he refrained from a debate when he noted McGarrett was nodding in agreement with the medical professional.
“We’ve got everything covered at the office, Danno,” the boss assured.
The door swung open again and Chin and Kono arrived, the Oriental detective holding a covered plate of something that filled the room with a savory aroma. Bergman muttered darkly about not issuing a press release that Williams was ready to party. After inspecting under the towel and snagging a pot sticker, he agreed to allow the visitors to stay
Munching on a snack the Hawaiian reported, “I heard through the coconut wireless that Debbie Huston – Kennedy’s girlfriend,” Kono explained unnecessarily, “caught a plane to the Mainland this morning. She claimed a ghost lived in the house!”
”The kapu is lifted,” Williams whispered. McGarrett stared at him with uncommon intensity for a moment, but no one else seemed to have heard.
As the appreciative snickers died down, Dan offered a crooked smile. “I guess our ghosts take care of their own.”