Beef with Broccoli
Lukela barely had a chance to sit down behind the desk before he heard more gasps from the other room. The tone in Hilton’s deep voice triggered an instinctive alert, and Lukela rushed back out to join the others. He noted Williams clutching tightly to Chee’s arm and the couple, with the cameraman jogging behind, still filming, walking briskly down the street.
“What’s up?” he asked the other officers.
“Danny spotted something and he’s worried,” Hilton told him, tensely watching the small screen. “He acts like someone’s following him or something.” The big Polynesian turned to dart a glance at the sergeant. “You think there’s gonna be trouble?”
“After what that girl said? No bet.” He watched the TV and the hair on his arms stood up in a premonition of danger. From the body language and expression on Williams’ tense face, he knew the Five-0 detective was worried, frequently looking behind his shoulder at something that increased his speed and anxiety to flee. “Who have we got over there in that neighborhood?”
“Patrol unit?” Hilton asked, taken off guard.
“Uh, Bravo Nineteen, I think.”
“Is that Henderson and Makai?”
A crack like fireworks sputtered on the screen. It made the sergeant jump. He gasped when he saw Williams pull the girl along as he broke into a run, swerving into an alley. The camera juggled violently as the cameraman followed, valiantly running footage while escaping from what was now identifiable as gunshots. Someone, Lukela guessed another member of the camera crew, yelled, and went down in the street.
“Get Bravo Nineteen rolling to their position!” he yelled as he ran out the door. “Back of Ming’s Deli, I think that alley is heading toward Paiku Street!”
Racing through the corridor, he jumped out of the building, into the bright Hawaiian sunlight, dashing over to his HPD squad car by the curb. Ripping out of the parking lot, he overheard he requests for back up and the reports from other sources of shots fired in the old neighborhood downtown. Knowing the streets of his city well, he cut through a few blocks to come up behind the action that was playing out through the audio reports.
A call in told of a man with a movie camera down and bleeding. Other reports surfaced of a man and a woman running, being shot at, looking hurt. His stomach tightened at the concern for Williams. What if something happened to Danny? He prayed the younger man was not hurt. He gripped the wheel tight, knowing he needed to report this to McGarrett before the situation became worse.
Snatching up the radio, he snapped to be connected with McGarrett. When the Five-0 boss came on the other end, he took a breath. “Steve, we’ve got a shooting incident going on downtown by Hotel Street. It’s all on TV. Danny’s getting shot at –“
“Yeah, I’m on my way over there now.”
“So am I!”
Screeching into an alley, Lukela thought he spotted Williams and Chee trapped in a doorway. Unit Nineteen’s blue and white was parked partially blocking the end of the alley, the two patrolmen offering cover fire on whoever was plastering the street with bullets. The firefight was so intense, Williams could not make it to the safety of the patrol car just across the street from his position.
Duke threw his car into reverse and sped around the building to another alley. Racing through the narrow pathway, he came up behind a red Buick with two men taking cover behind the trunk. Just as he screamed out of the alley another patrol car slid around the corner and whipped around to blow into a blockade maneuver between the fugitives and the red vehicle. Duke ripped his squad car around the crash to come upon the sidewalk near Williams’ position.
Lukela reached back and opened the door. “Danny! Come on! Get in!”
Williams grabbed the girl, who was collapsed against him and sobbing, and raced to the back door of the car. He threw the woman in first, then piled in as Lukela floored the accelerator and sped from the scene. Tensely, he asked, “Are you all right, Danny?”
“Yeah,” Williams breathed shakily. “I think so. Are you hurt, Kiki?”
“I – I don’t know,” she wailed between sobs. “What about Mitch?”
“I’m not sure,” Williams shook his head.
Eyes meeting Lukela’s in the rearview mirror, the sergeant shook his head. He had heard over the police band that the cameraman and soundman had been found down the block, but didn’t impart details to the Five-0 officer or his guest. Screaming down the street, the blue and white was nearly sideswiped by a big sedan. In the rearview mirror, Lukela watched as the heavy car straightened, revved in pursuit, with bullets flew from weapons aimed out the open windows.
"Down! Down!" he shouted to the passengers. "We're being targeted." He took the next corner on two wheels. When the vehicle straightened, Williams propped himself against the door and returned fire. After two more turns down side streets, the trailing sedan did not appear again. "What is going on?" the sergeant wondered in amazement.
"I have no idea what any of this is about!" the younger officer assured, blowing out a deep breath. "Out of nowhere these guys started chasing us down and shooting!" He fell back against the back seat and to the sobbing woman he gathered into his arms, he spoke quiet, calming words Lukela could not clearly understand.
Heading toward the Palace did not seem like a good idea. Maybe he should take them to HPD? The chase had taken them far afield of reinforcements. He asked Williams for instructions, and the younger man admitted if armed suspects were after them they were a hot item for some unknown reason. Heading to the Palace might not be a good idea.
"See what Steve wants us to do."
Grabbing the mic, Lukela patched through to McGarrett.
As soon as the chief came on the line, the desperate fear in his voice was evident. “Danno?”
“I’ve got him, he’s safe,” Lukela assured instantly. “Here he is.” He handed the mic back to the officer who was still trying to console the distraught reporter.
“Steve, I’m okay. I don’t know what happened, but we've had a real firefight going on.”
“I know what happened! Apparently it was all over TV!” the volcanic explanation exploded over the speaker. “Your Miss Chee let the whole country know you were following a hot lead on Sands’ kidnapping!”
“Great,” the younger man snapped angrily, staring at the shivering woman in his arms in a new light. “Hap! What about Hap? Steve, we were ambushed in the street. Then there were guys shooting at us from a late modeled Chevy sedan. We ditched them but they're still at large. Hap could be in real danger.”
“I’ll get somebody on it,” Duke promised. “Last I saw him he was heading into a liquor store by Maunakea.”
“You’re hotter than Kilauea right now, Danno. I want you under wraps! Duke, I want you to take Danno somewhere temporarily while I set up a safe house. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
“Danno, I’ll meet you soon.”
“See you there.” He handed the mic back to Lukela. “You’re going to look for Hap?”
“As soon as we find him I’ll let you know.”
Williams settled against the cushioned seat of the patrol unit, calming his nerves after the adrenalin rush from the sudden crisis. As a cop, it was not unusual to find himself in abrupt danger, but today it was so unexpected. He had been sent out to create a diversion with the TV crew and ended up in a shooting gallery.
He turned to check on Kiki, upset at her for whatever misleading tidbit she must have slipped that had caused this unexpected firefight. Huddled against his chest, her legs curled in the corner of the back seat, she was trembling, and his heart melted. Dealing with danger was in his line of work, not hers. In a few hours he had gone from hopeless infatuation with the TV star, to annoyance at her continual chattering and pushing about the Sands case, to anger. Now, sympathy overwhelmed him, mixed with a little guilt at inadvertently drawing her into peril.
Utilizing his advantage to give her some personal attention, he soothingly rubbed the hair our of her face and massaged her hand. “Kiki, it’s okay. We’re out of danger now and we’re going to be completely safe.”
Sniffing into her handkerchief, she nodded. “They were shooting at us.”
“I know, but it’s over now. Trust me. Everything’s taken care of, Steve will see to that.”
She gripped back and managed a brave smile. “I trust you, Danny.”
Feeling a little more in control, and a little appeased at drawing her into such a harsh reality, he vowed to do all he could to make the aftermath of the crisis as pleasant as possible. He smiled reassuringly at the young woman Hap had called a fortune cookie. He hoped Hap was all right. If so, this situation could turn out to be very fortunate indeed in a personal regard.
Danno, this did not turn out the way I expected, Steve McGarrett thought in apology as he gripped the steering wheel with one hand while his other hand still clutched to the radio mic. Safe house. They needed to find a good spot for Danno and the others to hide until they could sort it all out.
How could this have deteriorated into such a mess? It had all been so simple this morning at the office, when he sent Williams out to distract and delay the attractive actress. He expected his lothario second-in-command to make time, not fall into a life-threatening ambush!
They were guessing Chee’s rash comments on air were the cause of the danger for the film crew, and he would hold onto that for the moment. Safe house, safe house, he puzzled as he raced toward the city. Speeding past the scenic beachfront property along Diamond Head struck him with inspiration. He barked into the mic again for a connection, this time to the ME’s office. In a moment, Doc Bergman came on the line.
“Doc, I need a big favor. Can we borrow your beach house for a few days as a safe house?”
“A safe house?” The surprise did not sound like a welcome one. “I don’t know if I like the sound of that, Steve. Letting you have it for a weekend get away is one thing, but some dangerous fugitive –“
In other circumstances, it could have been an amusing little exchange, but he was in nothing close to a humorous mood. “Danno is the fugitive, Doc. He needs a place to hole up till we can get him out of danger –“
“Danny! I should have known! I heard he was on TV this morning. The whole hospital is talking about that –“
“Yeah, Doc, it’s about that,” he growled, an unwelcome reminder of the ridiculous set of events that had turned unexpectedly perilous for his officer. “I’ll explain it all.”
“Well, then, let’s hear it!”
“Doc! Is it okay?”
“Yes, Steve, it’s fine. Come by and pick up the keys. But it will cost you.”
“All right. You’ll get the whole story. Mahalo, Doc.”
With relief that at least part of his day was working out as he orchestrated, he called back Lukela and ordered the sergeant to take the fugitives to Doc’s house in Aina Haina.
The Bergman beach house on the ocean's edge was nothing short of magnificent. Steve had borrowed the place a few times since he used it himself during his suspension on the Vashon case. In the past, Danny had thought it just about the most perfect spot on the island. Right on the beach of Mamala Bay, the surf was gentle, the neighborhood quiet, the house nice and interesting in architecture – not too big or too small. The view, though, was priceless, a picture-perfect scene of the mellow azure of the Pacific lapping on golden sands, framed by tall, waving palms and a soft blue sky. Perfect.
When they pulled up to the long, curved, gravel drive, Kiki sat up and eyed the estate with wary silence. There was a guesthouse next to the main, two story place, and Dan explained that this idyllic location was where she would be lucky enough to stay for a few days.
Still stunned by the earth-shattering events, Kiki nodded, taking it all in with a mute daze. Compassion surging over his irritation at her blunders, he solicitously helped her up to the house. Steve had not arrived yet with the key, so Dan led the reporter out to the back, where he removed his shoes, to match her bare feet, and strolled in the sand with her, easing the stress level.
Soon, the high-strung woman was relaxed, resting her head on his shoulder, the grip on his hand loosened to include the distraction of her thumbnail gently caressing his skin. The crying fit over, he handled the situation with the experience of a negotiator and tried to get her to talk to get her mind off the death of her colleagues. He understood she had never been that close to violence before, and his own reactions now surprised him. A month ago, a week ago, yesterday, he was infatuated with the pretty face and the vibrant personality of this stunning young woman. Today, he had evolved from superficial ardor, to irritation, to resentment, and now to caring on a level he would feel toward any victim encountered in the course of his work.
The familiar screech of brakes alerted him to the arrival of his boss, and he advised the girl to walk the beach, just within sight, until she felt ready to go into the house. As he trotted toward the driveway, he gave an approving nod to Duke, who was keeping an eye on Chee.
McGarrett’s car was still rocking from the jolting stop when he exited, zeroing in on Williams with a face momentarily readable with anxiety. Rushing over, he clapped him on the shoulder. “You all right, Danno?” he asked tightly, his eyes scanning for sighs of injury.
“Fine,” he assured, feeling centered now that he was able to connect with the head of Five-0. The events on the streets were nearly a blur of raw adrenalin and fear, but the timely rescue by Lukela, and the arrival of his friend, made him feel sheltered and completely under the personal protection of the best and toughest cops on the island. “I’m okay. Kiki’s pretty rattled.”
The keen blue eyes of the chief narrowed on the target of their conversation and the anxiety turned to clear resentment, matched by the tone. “She’s the reason everything blew up on you, Danno.”
“So I hear. She’s suffering for it now. Seeing Frank and Mitch die was a real shock.”
“Well, you’re safe now, and I’ll make sure you both stay that way.”
The harsh command held a note of ominous inevitability and Williams asked with wariness what McGarrett meant by the comment.
“You and Chee are here until we find out who wanted to kill you.”
“Me! I should be out there on the street helping –“
McGarrett’s intensity flashed clearly in his eyes. “You’re a target, Danno, and I don’t know why, and I don’t know who is on the firing end of this. So you’re going to stay under wraps until I do.” An upcoming protest was silenced with, “Don’t buck me on this, Danno. I’ve had a bad morning and I’m not in the mood for any dissention in the ranks. Got that?”
This was the part he did NOT like about the tight camaraderie and affection that bonded him with Steve. Their brotherly friendship worked as a source of comfort, safety, and companionship for both sides. That was good. However, the head of Five-0 was a formidable presence in any circumstance, but when he thought one of his guys – Danny – was in danger – he pulled out all the stops to offer protection and aid. That meant stepping on personal opinions or wants to solve the problem. That was the down side.
“Okay,” he reluctantly agreed, knowing there was no other option. For now. “But as soon as something breaks, Steve, I want back on the front line.”
Smiling, easily agreeable now that he had a firm victory over the situation, Steve smiled and patted his shoulder. “Absolutely, Danno. Anyway, you’re going to thank me. All this quality time with Kiki Chee. I figure you owe me.”
“Right.” Trapped here with a sexy star whom he could not make any moves on because she was under his protection as an officer, not as a fellow victim. At least that was how he had to look at it. How frustrating. Steve was not doing him any favors today.
Unlocking the house, McGarrett opened the back, lanai door leading out to a charming beach. Kiki Chee had spotted him and approached with an attitude far more confident and calm than the terrified reporter he had seen on the film.
“Mister McGarrett, I’d like to call my station now.”
“I’m sorry, Ms Chee, you can’t. You are now under protective custody and completely isolated at this safe house until we find the men who want to kill you and Danno, and why.”
“I know,” she agreed with a sigh, as if he had just wasted her valuable time with relating something completely irrelevant. “So where is the phone?”
“Not anywhere you’re going to need to know about,” he shot back sharply. “Isolation means just that. You are incommunicado with everyone. You don’t contact anyone, you don’t go anywhere.”
She seemed surprised. “I’m not a prisoner! I’m not the criminal! I was threatened!”
Not to mention Danno, he silently added before he flung back, “You’re in danger and to make sure no one gets the merest hint of where you are, you are going to stay in hiding. Danno knows the drill, he’ll fill you in.” He had only come out here personally to check on Danno. He did not have time to waste dealing with her star tantrums. Let his friend handle that – there would be little else to occupy his time for however long this confinement lasted. With a twinge of regret – a very slight twinge – he turned to his colleague. “Good luck,” he told him, and with a sigh of relief, swept out the door.
Satisfied that Danno and Kiki were safe, McGarrett drove back to Honolulu with promises to keep his second-in-command in the loop of the investigation. He smiled at the predicament that had his friend so unhappy. Being stuck with a pretty girl, at a romantic tropical beach, for an indefinite time, would normally thrill Williams. These were hardly normal circumstances, however, and no one was happy about the situation. One day they would look back at this and laugh, but he had a feeling it might be longer for Danno to find humor in it than for him.
When he entered the office, he ordered Jenny to notify Doris Lukela that they needed her to organize a supply run. They had done this before and it was one of those odd jobs that the cop’s wife found easy to manage. She would use a Five-0 expense account, authorized through Jenny Sherman, to purchase goods. She would transfer them to McGarrett, who would deliver them himself, or covertly hand them off to whatever officer was taking the next shift at the safe house. The civilian contact would be limited, to keep Mrs. Lukela safe. No direct contact between Five-0 and the beach cottage would go on unless it was through Five-0 and selected HPD officers, and only then through careful travel (making sure he was not followed) or on his private phone line that was secure. Only a handful of operatives outside this office would know the whereabouts of the victims in today’s shooting, and thus maximize the secrecy of the location. It was a stressful operation, made more delicate and nerve-wracking because one of the people in direct danger was his closest friend.
Knowing the culinary and trivial needs of the safe house inhabitants were met, he stopped at Chin Ho’s desk and asked for a status on the other side of the investigation.
“No lead on the cats who set up the ambush,” Kelly told him with a grim shake of his head. “Ben is down there now helping out HPD, but you know the routine. Hear nothing, see nothing.”
“Yeah, sounds familiar when bullets are flying. Tell Ben to keep at it.” Jenny called for his attention and he turned back toward her desk. She was clutching the phone, waving it at him. On a day filled with popping activity, there didn’t seem time to catch his breath. “Yeah, Jenny?”
“Ben on line one.”
McGarrett took the receiver from her hand. “Yeah, Ben?”
“Steve, I found Hap!”
“He’s been sleeping off the money Danny gave him at the back of Pete’s Bar.”
“What does he know about the shooters?”
“He’s as surprised as we were. Says he and Danny didn’t talk about anything important.”
“Yeah, that squares with what Danno said. Go ahead and have an officer take him over to the safe house, Ben. And tell Danno we’ve got supplies coming.”
When he stepped into his office he decided to deliver the good news to his friend personally. He dialed the number of the safe house, musing on the mystery of the sudden and lethal street attack. It took him a moment to realize the line was busy. Was Danno trying to call him? He hung up, then smiled when the phone rang. He answered it, surprised the voice on the other end belonged to John Manicote, who called to discuss a completely different case.
When a car pulled off busy Kalani Highway and onto the long, curved drive, both Williams and Lukela went to the window. Hands on their revolvers, they relaxed slightly when they identified the vehicle as an HPD blue and white. Both smiled with relief as Sergeant John Ono emerged from the driver’s side, then assisted Hap, who was stumbling out of the back.
Kiki, who had been lounging on the lanai painting her fingernails, rushed over. Her lip curled at the sight of the wrinkled and rumpled condition of the older man. The drunk was unstable and needed Ono’s help to enter the house, but Danny was still glad to see the snitch was safe.
He civilly greeted the informant with a handshake. “Hap, good to see you!”
“Danny. Yeah. Nice digs. Don’t mind if I find a place that’s not moving, do ya?” He stumbled over to the couch and collapsed. “Ohhh, what padding,” he happily crooned. “Hey, Danny, you mind if I get somethin’ for my nerves?”
“I told you, no liquor,” Ono sternly countered.
“Dry! I’m gonna die! Danny, you wouldn’t do that to me –“
“Yeah, I would. No booze, Hap.”
“I’m gonna die,” the man groaned as he closed his eyes and within the moment started snoring.
“Found him drinking off your lunch money, Danny,” Ono reported as he brought in two bags of groceries.
“Oh, good!” Kiki squealed as she watched the officer unload the bags.
“Duke, we better lock up Doc’s liquor or Hap will guzzle it all.”
After Lukela gave a last scan of the front, making sure Ono was not followed, he joined them. “My wife was supposed to pack a few things for you, Ms Chee.”
Some standard goods like fresh fruit, milk, eggs and juice were placed in the fridge. More supplies were coming later with McGarrett. Ono gave a check of the cupboards, commenting that this was a cozy hideaway. The Bergmans kept enough dry goods in stock to keep anyone happy. He promised to cook up something good for dinner, since he was spelling Duke as the guard for the night.
Williams rubbed his stomach. “Mmmm, no offense, Duke, but being stuck at a safe house with John has to be almost as good as being stuck here with Tim.” Williams explained to Chee that the other Ono brother who was a retired cop owned a great barbeque place in Waikiki. Then he realized his faux pau. “I mean, he can help you, Kiki, with the cooking.”
She paused from the search of the bags to sneer. “I don’t cook. And don’t expect me to. Haven’t you heard of women’s lib?”
The men exchanged varying expressions of amusement, irritation and long-suffering. Duke patted Dan on the back and bit his lip to conceal part of his smile. “I take consolation in Doris’ home cooking,” Lukela shot back as he checked out the windows once more. “Any thing else you guys need, let me know. I don’t know who will be back tomorrow, but Steve wanted two of us here all the time.”
“Who else is coming?” Kiki wondered.
Ono laughed, “Well, we’re guessing Danny can still handle some simple guard duty, so he’s half of the two of us.”
“Where’s my make up?” she asked, glaring at Lukela. “I thought your wife was sending things we would need as long as we’re stuck here!”
“She did,” he snapped back without the effort of civility. “Food, juice --”
“Well whoever comes back, tell them I need my make up. And someone’s got to go and get clothes. I can’t be stuck here in the same dress for two days! My hair is a mess -- I’m lucky I had a few things in my purse! Can you imagine what I would have done all this time without anything?” She fished through the paper bag, increasing her frustration. “And chocolate! There’s no chocolate here!”
She had been fussing over her hair and nails for an hour! Irked at the shrew attitude, Dan told her to give her apartment keys to Lukela and someone would gather her personal effects. She reluctantly did as she was bid, handing over her keys to Duke with specific orders on which outfits and shoes to bring. From the sergeant’s sour expression, he knew there was no way the HPD officer was going to go rifle through a girl’s belongings and fetch her pink heels that matched her pink Hibiscus sun dress.
After Lukela left, Chee tossed her scattered grooming supplies into her purse and announced she was going for a walk. Williams hurried to catch up to her, outlining that she was to go outside only with an escort. Then, they were to walk only to the property line of the private beach, and stay clear of the tall bushes and tress lining the estate on the sides.
“I don’t understand why I’m here! I wasn’t a target, you were!” she accused in a shrill voice. “You’re keeping me against my will! I should be allowed to contact my station!”
“You want to walk out right now?” he snapped back. “Just say the word and you’ll be on your own, Kiki. But before you go, ask yourself if you are one hundred percent sure you’re safe. The guys who shot at us think Hap told us something important –“
“So you say!” she flung back as she stalked down the beach.
“You want to bet your life that I’m wrong?”
Stopping, she stared out at the water, her chest rising with anger-fueled huffing. It was absurd that they were trapped together and she was making it so unpleasant. That made it easier, though, to remove himself from any interest in her romantically. His mood shifted back to the irritation he felt with her this afternoon, and that cascaded into recollection of her extreme pettiness and selfishness. A me-driven personality, he wondered how he had ever been so infatuated with her. Simple, he had fallen for the pretty image. Outside, one scrumptious-looking fortune cookie. Inside, one rotten piece of pineapple.
“All right, but after this is over I want an exclusive!”
The brief sympathy he held for her had evaporated with her queen-power attitude. “This is not a negotiation!” he retorted.
Stamping her foot, she spun around and stalked back to the house. He took his time strolling over to the dock and leaned on the railing for a while to cool his frustration. The clouds were moving in on the late afternoon sun. On the far horizon, he could faintly see a full moon emerging just above the water. The night promised to be filled with romantic beauty; the gentle waves of the sea, the mysterious luminous rays of a misty, cloud-shrouded-pirate moon. What a waste he was going to be spending it here babysitting a drunk and a spoiled starlet. He must be crazy, but he was feeling deprived that he was here while his colleagues were out, hard at work, on the dangerous streets, trying to solve a case.
Following a brief knock of announcement, Jenny poked her head around the door and announced Doris Lukela had dropped off a box of food for the guests at the safe house. And since it was so late, the secretary was leaving for the night. After she closed the door, he glanced at the clock, surprised it was after six already. Before he could ponder the mysteries of escaped time, Chin Ho entered.
“Boss, got something interesting on the Sands.”
“Shoot,” he tiredly invited as he leaned back in his chair to stretch tired muscles.
“Walter and his sister finished college here over twenty years ago.”
Not many things surprised McGarrett anymore, but that managed to raise his eyebrows. Nothing had shown up in their publicity or superficial background checks that they were former residents. That offered a whole new angle on their lives.
“Past association could mean former enemies,” he pondered aloud.
“Yeah, I did some digging there. Walter worked for a local architecture firm while his sister finished at the U of H. Funny thing, she dropped out of college the semester before graduation. He kept working for the firm, she moved to the Big Island to stay for a while.”
He could tell there was a punch line to the aberrant behavior. He gave a nod to his officer to continue.
“She lived at the Hale Mauna Loa. When it was owned by the Kaloa family.”
In the early days of tourism in Hawaii, Hale Mauna Loa was a luxury resort owned by a strong local mob family. Into every kind of vice on the islands, they were thought to have bought the luxury hotel back in the fifties as a legitimate enterprise to launder money. No one had ever been able to prove the allegation until the mid-sixties, when McGarrett took down the family of thugs and the hotel was sold off by the government, along with their other assets. As far as he could remember, most of the Kaloa crime family was behind bars or dead.
“You’re saying the Sands had connections to the mob back in their college days?”
“That would explain how a college kid could stay there for,” he consulted his notes, “Six months. Maybe how Walter Sands got his big break in architecture firms. Maybe those ties are still around.”
It seemed thin. What would a mob connection two decades old have to do with a kidnapping now? “Keep at it, Chin, but tomorrow. Time to go home now. In the morning I’ll have Ben finish the background on the houseboy. What about the witnesses statements from the neighbors.”
“HPD is still working that.”
“We’ll press them in the morning.”
Tidying up his desk, he decided to light a fire under the HPD staff and called the detectives to hurry up with the background checks. Working on a hunch, he walked out to Ben’s desk and found the file on the houseboy Kahala. What he found was illuminating, and spurred the swirling instincts that were starting to form into some interesting theories. By the time he made a few notes, his stomach was growling. Food. And he still needed to deliver more groceries to the safe house. He looked forward to going out to Aina Haina. He better pick up something quick to eat first. Then he could turn the visit into a conference with Williams while the others fixed their own meal.
A little family owned Oriental buffet in Kahala had become a favorite spot in the neighborhood, and he stopped there to stock up on plenty of tasty Chinese food. That he was hungry inspired him to overload, he was sure, but he could leave the leftovers with Williams. Munching on egg rolls as he drove toward the house, he steeled himself for confrontation. Danno was not happy with being locked out of the action. Steve had to come up with a way to keep his friend busy and not getting into trouble while isolated. Pulling up the long driveway, he was not surprised to see his detective come out to meet him before he shut off the engine.
“You’re supposed to be in hiding,” he chided as he handed his second-in-command the bag of take out.
“I figure I’m safe, you’re here to protect me.”
McGarrett grabbed the groceries out of the trunk and they walked up to the pleasant, white paneled house. The sun was sinking and the multicolored clouds washed the sky in various pastel hues, filling the picture window spanning most of the makai wall, with a calendar-perfect scene.
Out on the narrow boat dock, John Ono and the informant Hap, were fishing. The HPD officer was technically on duty, but in a situation like this where divergent personalities were thrown together suddenly, some flexibility was in order. Keeping the group cooped up all day would be hard, so under supervision, they were allowed to roam close to the house. It was a private beach and it would be easy to spot any intruders.
“John took Hap out for a little while,” the younger detective narrated the obvious as they unloaded the boxes of food. “Once he’s sober that old guy is okay. He’s fallen in love with fishing.”
“Where’s Ms Chee?” he wondered as he sorted out the Chinese take away on the table.
“Taking a nap. Apparently being trapped in a beach house with a cop and a snitch is too overwhelming for her.”
“Oh,” he smirked. Highly amused at the picture being painted by his disenchanted second.
“Looks pretty good. Sure you don’t want to stay and sign on as our cook?”
“No thanks. Did you try to get in touch? I called and the line was busy.”
Dan accepted chop sticks and sat down across from the boss. “Must have been Duke. I moved the phone down here to remove temptation from the charming Ms Chee.”
The sarcastic tone made him smile. “The glow fading from the romance already?” he smirked.
“What romance?” Williams scoffed. “Not that I would ever try anything here I'm on duty, but I think I’ve been cured from any ideas of a future in dating celebrities.”
Munching on the sweet and sour chicken, McGarrett had a keener appetite for gossip of his friend’s love life gone wrong. “What happened?”
“She is continually pestering me to let her contact her station. I’m going to be the downfall of her career apparently, because I won’t let her share her exclusive confinement with Hap and I. She’s sure we know more than we’re telling about the Sands case.” Around a bite of an egg roll, he asked, “What is going on with that?”
“Some interesting angles, Danno. Whatever you did on the street today aggravated someone. We’re trying to find out who.”
Lowering his voice, he imparted some of the threads of the investigation. One was the houseboy, who might turn out to be more than a simple employee. Then there was the possible mob connection, which would explain the gun battle in the streets. That surprised Williams, and he volunteered to work on calling some snitches who might talk to him on the phone. Just what the boss wanted. He knew Danno’s energetic personality would chafe at being stuck here without involvement in the case. The younger officer coming up with his own ideas for advancing the investigation was good for both of them.
Finishing the pleasant meal with their fortune cookies, McGarrett read his first. “ 'Outside noisy, inside empty. ' Sounds like Ms Chee,” he smirked.
Munching on the cookie, Dan read his next. “ 'Now is a lucky time for you – take a chance.' ” He shook his head. “I think I got the wrong fortune.”
“Timing is everything, my
friend, and I don’t think you have it on your side this time.”
Breakfast on the lanai of the beach house was worthy of a five-star rating. McGarrett had come out this morning to check on his officer and the others. The third-shift guard/patrolman just finishing his tour of the grounds was the barrel-chested, amiable and muscled Hawaiian Sergeant Olena (normally serving as a sharp-shooter, but today a volunteer to assist Five-0). When he waved to McGarrett, he finished his patrol of the beach and casually picked up a fishing pole, desultorily playing at catching breakfast, while keeping a keen eye on the area.
McGarrett unpacked fresh food while engaging in a routine update. It was mostly an excuse to drop in on his officer, but the head of Five-0 also looked on the excursion as a chance to get some first hand accounts from the participants in the action from the day before.
“So what did you learn?” Williams asked as he pulled some mangos from the paper bag.
“Not a lot,” the chief admitted, warily quiet when Chee entered the tiny kitchen.
Williams caught the chary attitude and gave a slight nod of acknowledgement.
“Just in time, Kiki. I was hoping to talk Steve into fixing us some breakfast.”
She picked up a banana. “I only eat granola and fruit in the morning. You brought my make up didn’t you? And that officer who came last night forgot my dress and shoes! Where are they?”
“Good morning to you too,” Steve cracked back with asperity.
He had engineered many safe house operations, and this was more wearing on the nerves than most. Usually his second-in-command was not the one in need of protection. That made this stressful and personal. Then there was the cause of this whole danger, Ms Chee! He had run across his share of reluctant, even antagonistic witnesses in such programs, but the spoiled actress was taking the prize pineapple on this one.
Chee’s lack of appreciation, though, really grated on him. Usually, Five-0 arranged safe house protection for threatened witnesses or those involved with helping the police. Kiki was offering nothing but irritation. In less make up, and a dress that seemed too loose and old for her (probably one of Dora Bergman’s), she looked more stunning than she had yesterday. Her personality, though, had soured to that of a spoiled brat. The true colors seeping through the painted façade, he figured. Poor Danno. Now he did feel sorry for his friend having to put up with her.
“The dress?” she asked again.
“I only brought food.” He plastered on an ingratiating smile. “Some pineapple?”
“And I don’t suppose you’re going to let me phone my station,” she snapped.
“I told you yesterday, that’s off limits.”
Tossing him a silent sneer, she stomped out of the room.
“Whew,” he breathed out, smiling at his friend’s pained expression. “I don’t think I should tease you, I should commiserate.”
“Mahalo,” the younger man sighed as he started chopping the pineapple with a sharp blade. “So what is going on?”
McGarrett lowered his voice. “We have a line on the Sands family,” he started, checking behind him to make sure Kiki was nowhere around. The kitchen was open to most of the living room, and while he thought she had exited, he kept his voice low to be on the safe side. “The bank accounts have been siphoned from a joint account.”
“Right, that’s how we learned about the kidnapping.”
“Yeah, well I called the bank manager this morning –“
“Before banker’s hours,” he smirked.
“Some things are too important to wait.”
Williams grinned. “For the head of Five-0, everything is too important to wait.”
Washing off a mango, Steve splashed him with water. “You’ll thank me for my diligence. The manager remembered Laura Sands coming for those withdrawals for the past two weeks, not just four days ago.”
Williams placed the knife on the counter and stared at his boss. “She knew?”
“Maybe. There are several possibilities. One, she was absconding with money a little at a time and Walter found out she was bleeding their account.”
“The more likely is blackmail,” Williams suggested. “That’s what it sounds like.”
“Right, Danno, that’s what my gut is telling me. Then what happened to Walter?”
“A few possibilities there.”
“Yeah. He might have tried to stop it and got himself nabbed –“
“Or killed. Yeah. I was out at Sands’ place this morning and no one is there. I’m waiting for a warrant to gain entry and check out the place.”
“What do you think you’ll find?”
“If Laura has skipped, then I think Walter is dead and she has the money. If she’s there I’ll find out one way or the other. If she doesn’t give me the whole story, I’ll take her downtown and sweat her till she does.”
The percolator bubbled over and the two detectives focused on breakfast prep rather than the case for a few moments. A dry cough from the living room alerted them to a new arrival, and they silenced the theories. Unsteadily, Hap wandered in and dropped into a chair at the small breakfast nook.
“Watcha got for food, Danny? And there must be something to wash it down.”
“Fruit salad and toast with pineapple juice or coffee,” Williams responded, holding up his glass of yellow- orange liquid.
The older man made a sour face and rubbed his stomach. “You’re killing me, Danny.”
“I think he’s helping you,” Steve pointed out, shoving a plate of sliced fruit over to his officer to give to the witness. “Hap, do you remember anything else about yesterday?” he asked, bringing his coffee with him and sitting across from the man.
“The money Danny gave me,” he stared at the juice with a jaundiced eye. “Can I get some coffee instead?” he wondered. Williams moved to fill the request as he continued. “The saucy fortune cookie. Ya know, she ain’t very friendly. I try to sit next to her on the sofa and she made me leave. I told her the living room should be free range but she can get a nasty tongue on her I tell you. Sour poi, man.”
“She’s not your type,” Williams assured as he placed a mug in front of the man.
“Not anyone’s I guess,” McGarrett smirked behind his cup, and from Danno’s expression knew his friend got the inside track on that comment.
He checked his watch, knowing he needed to get back on the job, reluctant to leave. While no great progress had been made on the case being here, it felt good to discuss the matters with someone on the same wave length. This was when he thought best – when matched with Danno’s spark of intuitive reasoning and intellect. He also missed not having his best officer with him on this hunt. Advising Hap to tell Williams anything else he thought of, he exited, the younger officer following.
When he reached the car the speaker was blaring out a summons, and he grabbed the mic while Danny eaned on the door.
“Ben here, Steve. Looks like you were right about that connection with the Kaloa family. Bart Kaloa went up to the state pen twenty years ago. He was released last month.”
“Where is he now?”
“He was supposed to be on the Big Island at his brother’s place, but I had Hilo PD check it out and he isn’t there. The brother got out two years ago and has been clean ever since apparently, but he's not there either.”
The officers exchanged a knowing glance, mutually doubting that the ex-cons were on the straight and narrow. “Keep checking, Ben,” he ordered. “I’m heading out to Sands’ now.”
“I don’t guess you’ll let me come along?” Williams wished.
“Sorry, Danno. Protecting the witnesses serves a double purpose by keeping you out of trouble.” He slammed the door. “I’ll be in touch.”
Without a warrant in hand, he could not enter the house, but McGarrett instinctively knew this was where he was going to find his answers. He had ordered Chin Ho to wait for the legal papers, while Ben was to meet him here. Exhibiting his lack of patience and need for action, he went around the back of the house. As a crime scene in an open case, he would have no restrictions of legally checking out the back yard and the boat dock on the private beach. When he turned the corner of the house, he was gratified to see Laura Sands and the houseboy, Trey Kahala, loading suitcases into the small boat tied to the small pier.
“Going somewhere, Ms Sands?”
The two of them turned, in guilty surprise, and it hit him then, the – literally -- connective tissue threading the whole case together. It was the same high cheekbones, the same shape of the jaw, and more, he realized, amazed he had not seen it before. The expression, the tawny hair and eyes accentuated by the streaming morning sun through the thick mane that was too straight and light for a Hawaiian, but gently wavy for a hapa-haole kid. Physical characteristics Trey might receive from a parent with sandy, gently wavy hair – like Laura Sands’.
Triumphant, he tempered his irritation and leaned toward compassion in his victory. “Did Walter know he is your child, Ms Sands?” They both gasped with such a similar mannerism that he was astounded the whole of Kahala did not announce on the coconut wireless about the parentage of the Sands’ houseboy.
“How –“ she stuttered in shock.
“The looks,” he began conversationally. “The blackmail, you secreting away on the Big Island twenty years ago. A college student dropping out of sight for six months. To give birth, wasn't it? About when Trey would have been born.” It had all come together in a flashing lightening bolt of inspiration. All the errant clues threading together to form the unmistakable tapestry of the solution. “I can only guess, but I think I’ll be pretty accurate. Is the father Bart Kaloa?”
“How could you know?” the boy asked. “We kept it a secret! I’ve been in private schools in the mainland for years! It was my idea to pretend I was a houseboy after my father was released. If you know then he must, too!”
“I’m a detective,” he countered, still piecing a few things together. “So Kaloa doesn’t know who you are?” He looked to the mother. “Let me finish. So he kidnapped your brother? As a trade for information on the boy?”
“Walter is being held as ransom,” she nodded, sniffing back the tears. “At first, when Bart contacted me after his release, I tried a pay off. Bart took the money but came back for more. When I refused to tell him Trey’s whereabouts, he took Walter.“
“For me,” Trey Kahala finished. “We thought hiding so close to them, in plain sight, my father would never figure it out. Now Uncle Walter is in jeopardy.”
“A least Kaloa hasn’t figured out the truth, yet.” McGarrett was amazed at the bold deception. His admiration turned cold as he surveyed the luggage. “Now you’re running and leaving your brother to suffer the consequences?”
“Until you came snooping around we could have handled this,” she accused him. “You brought your police and the TV people and now we have to hide! I’m hoping if we disappear Bart will give up and release Walter.”
“I conducted a discrete inquiry,” he shot back, irked that she was blaming any of this on him or his unit. “Authorities are called in automatically if a bank suspects a client is being blackmailed or is amassing cash for a ransom. It’s the law!”
“Why did you have to tell the news people?"
“I told no one!” he shouted back. “The fiasco yesterday was a stupid mix up by the reporter. There was no leak at Five-0!”
“Then why is the TV station calling us? They’re threatening to expose a story about me killing Walter or having him kidnapped! We can’t afford that kind of publicity! Everything will come out and Bart will find out about Trey!”
“When? When did they call?”
“This morning. Less than a half hour ago. That’s why we’re leaving!”
There was no time to analyze what went wrong or how it was unraveling, but he knew there was indeed a leak and it had endangered these two. Later, he would work on the discovery of the details, now, their safety was his first priority.
Grabbing them both by an arm, he rushed across the grounds of the estate and hurriedly shoved them into the backseat of his Mercury. Ordering them to stay down on the floor, he revved the engine and launched from the driveway. As he was turning onto the main highway, he noted a TV news truck turn onto the private street leading to the estate. Henry Lynch, the producer of LIVE FROM HAWAII, was in the front seat.
Under other circumstances, he would take this new set of protected civilians to yet another safe house. As he mused over the events, though, he recognized a creeping, sixth sense harbinger of dread seeping into his nerves. On a level he could not define, he knew danger was close at hand, inclusive of the people in the backseat, and the other witnesses at the beach house. Mixing Kiki Chee with the people she would love to interrogate was a bad idea on face value, but there was more to this than he could immediately understand. All he felt/guessed now, was that Sands, her son, Danno and the others were all in danger.
He would like to call Chin or Ben on the radio, but refrained. No telling how far the news media would go for this story, including monitoring police activity on the radio. And he could allow no one to know where his secret safe house was located.
Returning from a swim to wipe out his frustrations, Williams dried off on the lanai, then entered the living room, surprised Officer Olena was in the kitchen. The officer was engrossed in cleaning up a mess on the floor. When he spotted the Five-0 detective, he explained he and Kiki had been scrambling eggs and the bowl had tipped.
“She spilled something on her dress and went to change. I never knew eggs made such a mess! Or I make a mess. Good thing I always let my wife cook.”
Ambling over to the staircase, he was half way up to the landing when he stopped. There was something out of place. He couldn’t grasp it, but it was – something. Shaking his head, he continued up the steps. At the landing he peered over the living room, unable to place what he felt was amiss. Turning to the guest room, he grabbed some spare clothes from the closet – without waking Hap from his mid-morning slumber.
Retracing his steps, gazing over the living room, he realized what it was – the phone. It was over too far toward the edge of the couch. He made it a point to keep it back against the wall so he wouldn’t hit it when he was sleeping. What were the smudges on there? Trotting down, he stared at it as he approached. Brown on the beige phone? He picked it up. Red. It smelled like Kiki’s nail polish!
Jogging upstairs, he knocked on her door and bounced on his heels impatiently while awaiting her to give the okay to enter. Rapping on the wood again, she yelled that she would be a minute, then finally opened the door. Too angry to try his usual diplomatic approach, he came on with McGarrett-esque pique.
“You’ve been using the phone!”
“Don’t give me the simpering maiden routine, Kiki, I saw the smears of your nail polish on the phone! That was really sloppy –“
“All right! I was going to call the station while you were out for your swim, but that nasty old Hap came in and read his newspaper at the table,” she snapped back.
“While I was out swimming, Olena was supposed to be watching you.”
“He was too,” she assured.
“Don’t try it again,” he warned. “We are here to keep you both safe! A leak could cost all of us our lives, Kiki. Mine and Olena’s and Hap’s and whoever else is here with us –“
“I know, you don’t have to lecture me like McGarrett!” she whipped out. Changing instantly from petulance to seductiveness, she sidled up to him, tracing a finger down his neck. “You’re not really mad at me, are you, Danny? I just wanted to talk to my manager and let him know I was all right –“
He stepped away. “What did you tell him?”
“Nothing,” she pouted. “Olena came in. I didn’t have time.”
“Don’t do it again.” Livid, he jogged down the stairs and snatched up the phone, taking it with him to the beach, where he walked off his anger at Kiki’s lack of judgment and his own. His lax supervision of her had endangered everyone here.
When McGarrett pulled into the driveway at Aina Haina, he parked the car behind the guest house so there would be no view of the occupants from anyone who could see the property from the street. Ordering the two out of the car, he trotted them into the living room from the back lanai. Williams and Olena on the beach, jogged over to join the group inside.
The perplexity in his second’s expression was mirrored by Kiki Chee, who leaped up from where she was sitting on the sofa. It was a strange moment when everyone in the room, but Hap, who was observing languidly from the breakfast table, knew who the others were and were mutually surprised.
“You brought us to the reporter?” Laura squeaked in outrage.
“Laura Sands! What is she doing here? She’s supposed to be hiding out at her house!” Kiki blurted.
“What are you doing, Steve?”
“They need a place to hide . . . .” His voice trailed away and he spun to stab Kiki with a discerning glare. “How did you know they were in hiding at her house?”
“I – uh – it was a guess,” she stammered.
She was lying, he was certain. From the expressions, the not-very-good acting – he bet she knew a lot more than she was trying to conceal about the Sands. The TV people had been pestering Laura. They had arrived just as he managed an escape…
“You’ve been feeding your people information!” he shouted, throwing a finger at her in accusation, coming short of jabbing her in the chest.
She backed away. “How could I?” she countered, not denying it.
Groaning, Williams stepped forward. “She got to the phone a while ago, Steve, it was my fault. I should have kept a closer eye on her.
Instead of venting part of the justified anger at his officer, he silently admitted Danno and the HPD guards were guilty of underestimating their witness. When they were looking the other way, or like Hap, being kicked out of the house, she was taking advantage of them. Even he was guilty, he realized, knowing Kiki could not have known about Laura supposedly hiding out at the beach unless Kiki overheard him telling that to Williams this morning at breakfast. It seemed they were all too lax in their operations.
Before McGarrett could grab her and demand a confession, Olena came in from the lanai. “Steve, you got some urgent calls coming on your radio from Ben.”
Seething, McGarrett dashed out to his car and responded to the summons. His detective reported TV news crews were broadcasting from outside the safe house! LIVE FROM HAWAII was showing everyone in the nation the secret location of the witnesses!
Stepping around the house, he was horrified to see the TV news van on the shoulder of the highway and a camera pointed in his direction. Ordering Kokua and all nearby units to converge on the area, he jogged back to the house, formulating options before he reached the living room.
“We’ve been made!” he shouted, glaring at Kiki only for a moment. “We’ll have to relocate.” He swung back to the reporter. “What did you tell your producer?”
Gunfire down the beach distracted him. Instinctively, he and Williams went for their revolvers, while he ordered the civilians in the room to take cover upstairs. Olena, by the guest house, was under fire from two men in a boat at the dock. As the Five-0 officers joined in the fire fight, one of the men dashed toward the high brush ringing the property.
“We’ll lose him in trees and bamboo,” McGarrett cursed. “Get back up, Danno.”
Williams went for the phone, gasping when he saw it was missing! Kiki must have grabbed it on her way upstairs! That little vixen! The only way to call for help was to use the police radio in McGarrett’s car. Running out the front door, he was aghast to see Kiki just coming down the outside stairs leading from the master bedroom. As she ran toward the TV van at the street, he dashed after her, tackling her, bringing her down in the soft sand of the yard.
“You pupule wahine –“
“This is my exclusive!” she shouted at him, wrestling to get free.
“We have killers after us!” he shouted, pinning her to the ground. “You stay here with your head down! You don’t want to get killed as your exclusive on live TV do you?”
He scrambled up to make a break for the car. He skidded to the shelter of the rear of the Mercury, when he heard a scream from behind. An armed man was pulling Kiki into the nearby line of bamboo. Groaning at the madness, Dan spun around and shouted for the man to halt.
Whether from reality or artifice, Kiki swooned on cue, and slipped from the gunman’s hold. Dan shot, landing a hit in the man’s forehead, and the thug went down. Running , the officer scooped up the reporter in his arms and ran back toward the sedan to make his call.
Sirens and screeching tires
told him his radio contact was unnecessary. Blue and whites along with a Five-0
sedan raced into the driveway. Amid officers and a TV crew, with McGarrett
flushing out the second armed man from the trees, it became a melee of
activity. With a sudden burst of energy, Ms Chee scrambled from the ground and
took possession of the microphone, placing herself front and center to the
camera lens that was recording the heroic incident for posterity.
The evening breeze sweeping into the office fluttered the paper napkins spread on the top of the desk. McGarrett placed his chopsticks atop his carton of rice for a moment to move the large carton of sweet and sour pineapple chicken onto the stack of napkins before they blew away.
Williams leaned over and put his empty carton of Chinese food over the napkins and reached for one of the two fortune cookies on the desk.
“You must have been hungry,” the boss commented wryly. He passed his rice over. “Here, finish it up.”
“I’m fine, thanks. I’m ready for my fortune.”
“I hope it tells you to use a little caution from now on,” Steve significantly suggested. “That was a crazy finale at the beach house.”
Danny shrugged as he started munching on the cookie. “I didn’t even think about it, I just reacted.”
A noise at the door caused them to both turn. Henry Lynch swept into the room. “That’s just what I like to hear, Officer Williams. Your cop instincts. They were brilliant. You know every TV station in the country is crying for an interview with you, my boy.”
The detectives stood to face the unwelcome producer. Five-0 had been dodging the press all day. Wondering how this slime had managed entry, Steve promised himself to get some better night security going at the Palace.
“Get out, Lynch we don’t –“
“I have a better offer than an interview,” Lynch shouted, wedging in between McGarrett and his second. “I’ve been offered a documentary series in LA! It will be a huge hit! It’s called COPS ON THE BEAT. And I want you to be the star!”
Both detectives laughed, but soon became aware that Lynch was serious. The man continued to badger until Williams bodily pushed him out of the office. When the younger man returned, he slammed the door and leaned against it with dramatic emphasis.
“I hope that’s the last of those TV nuts.”
Laughing, Steve joked, “Danno, you’ve just torpedoed a future as a TV star.”
“It might have its moments. Wouldn’t that make Kiki livid if you got all the glory for this, including a TV contract?”
Danny grinned with relish. “It’s almost worth accepting just for that.”
There was no threat to the sarcastic comment, and secure in knowing Danno was right where he wanted to be – where Steve needed and wanted him to be. Stilol, he continued the humorous ribbing. “You don’t want to become rich and famous?”
“And trade it for low pay, Chinese food, and danger? Nah. Besides, I don‘t want to buck my fortune cookie.”
Taking the proffered fortune slip, Steve chuckled when he read:
“AVOID UNCHALLENGING OCCUPATIONS – THEY WASTE YOUR TALENTS.”
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