Crab Rangoon

 

 

McGarrett’s arrival at the Black Point estate of Walter Sands was like an invasion instead of a summons to a meeting.  His Mercury rocked from the abrupt halt in the curved drive that stretched from one side of the beachside estate to the other.  In the background, surf pounded the rugged lava rocks rimming the private beach.  Elegant, cultivated tropical flowers graced the wide entranceway that led up to double doors inlaid with stained glass beach scene patterns.  Over the threshold, in a tasteful arc, gold-tinted glass spelled out the family name:

 

S A N D S

 

Unintimidated by the ostentatious show of wealth and extravagance, having visited here since the kidnapping, McGarrett did not hesitate to observe ceremony.  He pounded on the door with impatient raps until the houseboy arrived.  Not the young man who went missing with his employer, but another youth McGarrett did not recognize.  Flashing his badge, he pushed past the startled servant and swept through the foyer to the living room, his men at his heels.

 

Startled at the unannounced arrival, Laura Sands shot to her feet from the plush sofa facing the sea visible from a huge plate glass window.  A hapa-Hawaiian in his early twenties, who had been sitting next to her, darted toward the side door leading out to the back yard. 

 

“Stop!  Five-0!” the leader shouted.

 

Before the employee could make it more than a few steps, Ben Kokua, tall, broader and faster, nabbed him by the collar and dragged him back inside.  The willowy, blond woman protested, but her reprimands were soft and overshadowed by the young man’s.  He yelped and cursed until Kokua shoved him onto the sofa.

 

“You called us, remember, bruddah?” Chin Ho Kelly stabbed a finger at the young man who calmed enough to catch his breath.

 

“I called to tell you I wasn’t involved in Mister Sands’ kidnapping!  Not to get arrested!”

 

“No one is arresting you,” McGarrett shot back, closing in to further intimidate the suspect.  “But your actions are questionable.  You haven’t explained anything, and when we come in you run.”

 

“Hey, I called you.  I cooperated.  You’re the one who came in like an army.  What was I supposed to think?”

 

Laura Sands placed a gentle hand on his arm.  “He was terrified, Mister McGarrett.  He’s never been in trouble before.  Don’t you think you’ll learn more by acting civil to poor Trey?  He’s been through enough already.”

 

The solicitous attitude, the intimate body language, the caring touch, was not lost on the chief detective, who did not comment.  Nonetheless, he filed away the possible signs of a deep relationship between employer and employee.  Deep waters here.  Subplots with the hired help and the rich victim’s only relative.  What island kid came up with a name like Trey Kahala, anyway?  He had assigned Ben to check up on the kid and all the reports had not filtered in on that angle.  Yet.  Obviously they needed more work on that.

 

“All right, Mister Kahala, why don’t you start from the beginning?”

 

Both Ben and Chin removed notebooks and stared scribbling while McGarrett paced and wandered the room, checking out the details of the lifestyle and taste surrounding him.  He had observed it on his other visits, but Laura and Trey were a new element and he viewed everything with a slightly different lens just now.

 

“I was at home with Mister Walter.  It was after dinner.  He asked for cocktails on the lanai, just like he always did for sunset.  Mrs. Cardington had just phoned to say she was running late with car problems.  Mister Walter went out to sit by the beach to wait for her.  I had just placed the drinks on the lanai table when I heard a noise.  Two men with nylon masks over their faces grabbed Mister Walter and were dragging him toward the beach.  I tried to stop them, but they pushed me into the bushes by the dock.” 

 

Now, almost in tears, he admitted he was ashamed to confess he ran for his life, afraid they would kill him.  When he returned, the police were here and he overheard them wondering about him, making it sound like he was a suspect.  So he hid out with a friend in Wahiawa until Miss Laura persuaded him to return today.

 

The officers questioned him in more detail, but there was no more decent information given.  He estimated the kidnappers were trim, strong and taller than he was, which made them about average.  Did they say anything?  No.  How did they get away?  Maybe a boat.  What kind?  He couldn’t remember.  Was Walter Sands alive when Trey ran away?  He couldn’t tell.

 

“We’ll take you downtown and have you meet with a police artist –“

 

The woman stood, coming between the police and the witness.  “No, Mister McGarrett, I will not allow Trey to be put into any danger.”

 

The protective stance corroborated the friendly terms of these two, but McGarrett did not have time to analyze the situation.  He grudgingly agreed to have the artist come out here, and, under pressure, also agreed to have a stake out on the street.  There were alarms in the house, of course, which did no good for Sands the other night, but Laura assured that none of them would be venturing out unprotected.  She had hired extra servants and employed guards with patrol dogs.  A little late, but security was tight.

 

 

 

“What do you think of her?”

 

“And the houseboy?” Ben added onto Chin’s question as they stopped to confer with McGarrett at the Mercury.

 

“Pretty cozy job,” the boss nodded.  “Ben, you’ve got to keep checking on everybody’s background.  Chin, arrange security on our end for this neighborhood, and start checking out boats that were here Thursday evening. And double check the neighbors, no one said anything about a boat, have they?”

 

“Not that I remember.”

 

McGarrett climbed into the car and sped away, anxious to return to the Palace.  He wanted to go over statements again in this case.  He knew there were some inconsistencies, and  thought with some homework he could pin them down.  He would get Danno to help him.

 

Thinking of his second-in-command, he nearly laughed at the image of Danno and the dream-girl-turned-shark scenario playing out on the other side of town.  Far from the ritzy enclaves of the Sands, the TV reporter and her bait were hitting the mean streets of Honolulu on a wild goose chase.  He wouldn’t bet that the lothario-officer probably had a date already with the vapid tease.

 

The normal police-chatter on the radio finally filtered through his entertaining speculations.  Officer involved, shots fired, downtown.  His heart always skipped a beat when he heard of violence directed toward policemen.  When his men were not at a known, safe location, his pulse quickened with anxiety.  This time, though, the Five-0 detectives were not the ones in danger.  Two of his staff were following in the car behind him.  Danno was downtown – yes – but with a reporter, tracking down mythical leads.  No need to worry.

 

The dispatcher announced a call for him from Duke, and he accepted.  “Yes, Duke?”

 

“There’s been a shooting downtown.  Looks like Danny was involved.”

 

His skin chilled and he coughed out, past the knot in his throat, the question, “What!”  What happened?”

 

“I don’t know details yet.  I’m on my way over there now.”

 

“So am I!”

 

 

Unable to keep the horror from his expression, McGarrett, with Chin tracing his footsteps, wandered through the scene, which was strewn with evidence of violent crime. Giant crimson stains marred four separate areas of the pavement of the downtown Honolulu side street. A pool of blood, now scabbing over, had trickled from beneath the blanket which covered the torso of a dead man, whose legs splayed unnaturally into the gutter. Nearby, a large video camera lay in several pieces on the crimson-splattered pavement.

 

The head of Five-0 pulled out his handkerchief as he stooped. Carefully tipping the largest section of camera on its side, he gave Chin an uneasy silent visual command to take a look. The untrained eye might not have spotted the indications that a bullet had smashed through the device, since the damage from its fall to the hard surface is was so extensive.

 

The Chinese detective wore an inscrutable mask as he voiced what his boss was pointing out. “Somebody shot the camera right out of the guy’s hands.”

 

McGarrett gingerly let the camera roll back to its original position and stood. With quick expressions of mutual revulsion exchanged, the two Five-0 men strode towards Ben’s position no more than thirty yards away. The smashed klieg light and what was once probably a microphone and associated recording equipment were strewn, like the wreckage of a plane crash, just to the left of the lead detective’s beeline. He deviated only far enough to avoid contaminating the area around the dainty, clutch-style pocket book on the street.

 

Another body – that of a male wearing shorts and dingy sneakers lay to the side ninety percent covered with a blanket. Steve kept walking as he recalled in passing that the sound man with the crew had been the only one in shorts.

 

The disturbed countenance of the Samoan detective foretold of more gruesome discoveries. All three officers sank to the pavement simultaneously to squat over the evidence. A one-fold black leather wallet stood open, balanced on its edge, like an open book.  A recent tear on the outside of the wallet spoke of the rough treatment it had recently sustained. Bile rose a little higher in Steve’s esophagus as he focused on the Five-0 badge visible on the inside. More blood marred not only the badge, but the surrounding ground. A foot from McGarrett’s shoes, a .38 caliber revolver had been abandoned or dropped.

 

Ben collected the weapon with his handkerchief and lifted the gun to his nose for a quick sniff. Then, he opened the cylinder and visually inspected the weapon. In short order, he looked at his two colleagues and gave an abbreviated report. “It’s been fired recently. No rounds left.”

 

For several seconds, the three men remained there, immobile and silent as they each considered possible scenarios which could have led to the macabre landscape on this normally safe and pedestrian section of the downtown area. There were a few shop windows open to the area, but all of them were blocked by merchandise inside the over-stuffed little stores. The only body in sight was that of the downed cameraman. There were no obvious indications as to what might’ve happened to Danno and Chee. The blood evidence spoke of injuries, but where were they? Had they wandered off? Had passers by found them and rushed them to the hospital? Who attacked them?

 

Not willing to leave his friend’s badge on the ground as just another piece of evidence, Steve carefully collected and folded it into his handkerchief. Then, he forced himself to push away thoughts bordering on unbearable and stood suddenly. “Who called this in?” He demanded grimly of the approaching HPD officer.

 

“It wasn’t technically called in, sir,” the uniformed Hawaiian man explained. “I guess a bunch of the guys were watching ‘Live From Hawaii’ on the television in the break room. As soon as they realized what was happening, somebody ran across the hall to Dispatch to get units rolling to the location. My partner and I were the first ones on the scene.” It was apparent the officer was more than a little unnerved from the grizzly and mysterious picture.

 

McGarrett’s tone turned to steel as he pressed for more information. “And everything is as you found it? No witnesses?”

 

“No, sir! I called for backup and we got the scene secured. Press people started showin’ up only a minute or two after we got here – I guess they were watchin’ T.V. too.”

 

Steve, whose eyes had been panning the area for clues, snapped his head to focus on the startled officer. “Watching…” Realization struck the head of Five-0 with the force of a North Shore breaker. “No witnesses! What was I thinking! We’ve got a thousand witnesses – and at least part of whatever transpired here might’ve been captured on film!”

 

Subjugating the panic in his gut about the status of his second-in-command, he turned to Kokua. “Don’t they re-broadcast that show sometimes?”

 

The HPD man nodded with Ben, who responded with excitement. “Yeah, Steve! I’ve managed to catch it once or twice!”

”Find out what affiliate here carries it! I think we need to watch a little television!”

 

 

“Okay, right there – start it from there!” McGarrett snapped.

 

The technician in what appeared to be a sound-proof booth at the back of the television station conference room apparently heard the command because the video of the ‘Live from Hawaii’ show stopped fast forwarding and began to play at speed on the large video screen embedded into the facing wall. In a seat at the back of the room was a Picasso-looking fellow in his mid-forties. Harry Lynch was the local producer for Live from Hawaii. The only other civilian in the room was the station manager, Gary Devries, a man in his fifties with a harried appearance. Steve had golfed with the TV executive on a couple of occasions for charity events. The manager loosened his tie and slipped into a chair a few feet from the three Five-0 detectives, who focused on the program with knife-like purpose.

 

The scene picked up with the camera focused on Dan behind the wheel of his company car. From the perspective of the video, the cameraman, now known to be the dead man at the scene, was sitting in the right, back passenger seat. Kiki Chee, in the front passenger seat, fired questions at Williams in what McGarrett imagined was her most seductive voice.

 

“Is your job fun?”

 

If the three Five-0 men didn’t know what was coming, they would have found themselves laughing out loud at their colleague, who looked as if she’d just asked him to disrobe. He shot a glance toward the woman before he returned his focus to the road.

 

“Fun? I don’t work in a surf shop.”

 

“So your job isn’t fun.” The tone was almost pouting.

 

“I… I love my job, but fun… hmmm… If we define fun as rewarding and interesting, then I’m prepared to describe it as fun.”

 

Kiki was apparently mollified by the compromise as she cheerfully bounced to the next topic. “Now that we’re out of the office, you can tell Kiki – what’s the scoop on the Sands kidnapping? Any good leads?”

 

“Any leads we have are being vigorously pursued.” Williams’ tone was neutral and firm.

 

The reporter continued to cajole and badger the detective about active cases for another minute or two, but Dan was unsurprisingly steadfast in his refusal to share even information which was already public knowledge.

 

“Oh, please, Danny… just one teensy weensy little morsel that nobody else knows!”

 

For anyone who did not know Dan Williams, the flicker of annoyance which crossed his face would not have been recognized for what it was. Being well-schooled in McGarrett’s masks for the press, the Five-0 detective smiled. “Here’s a teensy weensy morsel of information for you. It’s a long, hot walk from downtown back to the Palace in those spike pumps.”

 

It was clear that the reporter, confident in her ability to sway the male of the species, had not expected the shutdown from the police officer who had earlier exuded indications of her appeal for him. With a short, embarrassed glance back toward the camera, she quickly recovered.

 

“Okay, well, we wouldn’t want any bad guys to get away on account of Detective Danny sharing something with poor little Kiki.”

 

Dan ignored the done-to demeanor of his passenger and announced cheerfully, “We’ll be parking just ahead. I only hope my informant has waited for me.” The Five-0 detectives all knew that Williams was going to have to find an informant on the fly. In the neighborhood he’d selected it was not going to be a huge problem.

 

The video went to fuzz and white noise for a few seconds, causing McGarrett to turn sharply in his seat. “Gary, what’s happening here?”

 

“They broke for a commercial, Steve. It’ll come back in a moment.” The man had barely finished his explanation when the scene re-appeared on the screen.

 

Now, Kiki was adjusting the small microphone clipped to Dan’s lapel. It was obvious to McGarrett, if nobody else, that Williams was growing tired of the inane little game he was being forced to play. He maintained a pleasant, but serious countenance as he looked around the area. The sound of cars passing degraded the sound only marginally.

 

“Where to?” Kiki chirped.

 

Dan yanked his head slightly. “Down here.”

 

As the couple strolled down the street and around the corner onto a less-busy side street, several onlookers stopped and watched with interest until they lost sight of the spectacle.

 

“Danny! Danny!” A hoarse voice called. Williams looked across the street and saw the thin, old man rushing across to greet him. Wearing a faded, yellow luau shirt, the man had obviously not shaved in days, possibly weeks.

 

“Is THAT your informant?” Disdain momentarily replaced the gleeful, conspiratorial mood of the striking reporter. She breathed a little more quietly. “He’s filthy!”

 

A flicker of disenchantment wafted across the detective’s face. “Not everyone can wake up with a maid-drawn bubble bath and orange juice waiting.”

 

Kiki’s eyes narrowed slightly as she focused on the detective. She started to respond, but Dan held up his hand and spoke again. “Excuse me.”

 

Nonplussed, she stopped in her tracks as Dan met the frail man. “Hap, how’s it goin’?

 

The man’s grin revealed no top teeth as he shook the detective’s hand. With a glance over the officer’s shoulder, he nodded. “Can’t complain, Danny… Who’s the fortune cookie?”

 

Williams shot a grinning glance over his shoulder as he guided the man away from the cameras. “Kiki Chee, a former Miss Hawaii,” Dan explained.

 

That incomplete explanation seemed to satisfy the old man, who took one more, appreciative look at the young woman. “Nice gams!”

 

Obviously used to the occasional wolf whistle, she merely looked back at the camera. Her eyes told the world she believed she was living dangerously by standing in such close proximity to a seedy and possibly desperate fellow as the one now embroiled in a quiet conversation with the police detective.

 

The camera remained on Dan and Hap as the two men strolled to the wall of a building about twenty feet away. Williams leaned on the wall and put the bottom of one shoe on the side of the building as he pulled a packet of gum from his suit jacket pocket. The old man accepted the stick of gum and both men un-wrapped their pieces and stuffed the gum into their mouths.

 

Since the microphone could not pick up the conversation – and there was little chance that lips would be read in light of the gum chewing – Kiki turned back to the camera and spoke in a loud whisper, as if she was the announcer for a golf tournament. “Behind me, dear viewers, is how crime is solved. A cop – on the streets… pressing the flesh with the unsavory element of our society.” She looked back over her shoulder and saw the two men were still caught up in their private conversation. Dan laughed and shook as head and Hap spoke a little louder. “I swear, on my mother’s grave, Danny!”

 

The reporter turned back to the camera, and spoke even more quietly. “Just so you know… I don’t want our brave police detective to get into any kind of trouble, but I have it on VERY GOOD AUTHORITY that Danny is getting information about the Sands case at this very moment! It is distinctly possible that we’re witnessing the exchange of information which will break this case wide open, bringing to justice the perpetrators of this horrible crime!” She put her index finger to her lips in a hush signal and winked.

 

“My, God!” McGarrett breathed with apprehension. Danno and a harmless wino informant had been fingered on live television as participants in a meeting about a high-profile kidnapping! Within minutes of the airing of this piece of what the Five-0 detectives knew was PATENTLY FALSE information, half of America (and more of Hawaii!) would have believed that his second-in-command had knowledge that could finger the kidnapper!

 

“Why didn’t she just paint a target on his back!” Ben shouted in outrage. They said no more as they turned their attention back to the film.

 

The camera panned back to Williams who slowly removed his wallet from his back pocket, and slipped the wino a few bills. The pair then released their hold on the building and moved towards the camera.

 

“Hap would like to meet you, Kiki.” Dan smiled as if he were introducing the young beauty to the governor. “Miss Kiki Chee, I’d like to present Walter ‘Hap’ Smith.”

 

The man grinned broadly and bowed slightly as he took her reluctant hand. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Chee.”

 

She smiled and shook his hand, obviously the veteran of many a baby kiss and handshake for the sake of a sponsor. “Nice to meet you, Mister Smith.”

 

He nodded and shook Dan’s hand one more time. “Thanks, Danny… See ya on the block, uh!”

 

“Yeah, Hap, see ya!” Williams called after the man who retreated in the direction from which he’d come. Then the detective turned cheerfully to Chee. “Well, I think we can wrap it up down here.”

 

“Did you find out what you needed to find out?” Kiki asked with a hint of conspiracy in her tone.

 

“Umm, I think so, yeah.” Dan responded, unaware of the significance his answer would hold.

 

The reporter turned to the camera and gave a big wink. Dan noticed, but apparently wrote the move off as an attempt to sensationalize the meeting.

 

As they started back up the side street, Kiki started to speak, but stopped to study the expression of the detective whose attention was held by something behind the cameraman. “Danny… Danny… what is it?”

 

The expression on his second’s face told the story to Steve. Curiosity at something or someone unseen was slowly displaced by mild concern. The gears were turning in Williams’ head, and for several seconds, he was so focused on the scene in front of him that he completely ignored Kiki’s questioning tugs. Whatever it was did not seem to be of particular concern to Chee, who glanced in the same direction more than once. Thirty seconds into the pause, the Five-0 detective decided that an immediate change of course was necessary.

 

“Danny, tell me!” The reporter demanded again as apprehension began to invade her demeanor as well.

 

McGarrett could feel himself tensing to the point of pain and was peripherally aware that the two detectives to his left were experiencing something similar. He almost stopped breathing as he watched.

 

“Uhh… nothing… On second thought, let’s go this way…” Dan turned, snagging the surprised woman’s hand in his own, and began to trot in the opposite direction. “Come on, guys – keep up.” He was now addressing the two members of the camera crew, who heeded his command as the picture took on a jogging effect. The detective’s pace picked up and Kiki stumbled. Williams turned to her. His voice lost the congenial and patient tenor it had been sporting throughout the broadcast event. “Kiki, you gotta lose the pumps!” He bent down and unceremoniously yanked them from the now-scared woman’s feet.

 

She shouted at him as they continued their jog-run down the narrow street. “You’re not just doing this for effect are you, because if you are—” The couple rounded the corner just ahead of the camera, and Dan came to a skidding halt yanking her behind him, and then drawing his gun,  in a single move. She screamed in surprise as the pops of gun fire could be heard. The camera spiraled and hit the ground. It was still transmitting, but the picture was suddenly out of focus.

 

“Frankie!” The voice of Kiki was heard just before an almost deafening SHAK echoed as the microphone struck the pavement.

 

“HEY!” Another voice Steve did not recognize, possibly the other member of the crew shouted.

 

“Police officer! Drop your weapons!” Dan’s tense voice shouted clearly.

 

More pops followed immediately and were intermingled with Chee’s screams. “Danny, I’m bleeding! I’m bleeding!”

 

A shadow ran past the blurry image and the sound of two large car engines and screeching cars drowned out whatever anybody might have been saying for several seconds.

 

“Don’t… what are you… Danny, help me!” Kiki’s terrified plea was the last human voice on the tape.

 

Another pop and the screen popped to a blaze of white, crackling static.

 

The three detectives continued to stare at the screen as the loud SHHHHHH filled the room. After several seconds, the producer turned to the shocked man in the booth and gave him the turn-it-off signal by running his finger across his throat. Moments later, silence echoed, but not for long.

 

“Wow! The ratings on this tonight are going to be mind blowing!” Lynch nearly shouted in glee.

 

The station manager turned and, from his disgusted expression, looked prepared to inform the excited TV exec that his comment was in poor taste, but Devries never got the chance. McGarrett came out of his chair like Kilauea erupting and shoved the startled man backward several feet.

 

“People are hurt or dead  or missing! I find the fact that all you care about is ratings more than a little disturbing!”

 

Chin and Ben were out of there seats a moment after their boss, ready, but not yet willing to prevent him from doing bodily harm to the unwary fool who’d stumbled into very dangerous surf. Ignoring his men, the head of Five-0 pressed closer to the now-alarmed producer and channeled the pain and fear he was feeling at that moment into the most venomous tone he could muster. “You can consider this film evidence in a murder investigation, and as such, it will NOT be publicly aired again until such time as the court releases it!”

 

Afraid, but outraged at the prospect of losing the juicy footage, Lynch argued diffidently. “You can’t—”

 

“YES, Harry – he can!” The station manager interrupted loudly. “And we’re gonna do whatever Steve McGarrett tells us we need to do to help find out what happened to the Kiki and Detective Williams!”

 

McGarrett, somewhat mollified by Gary Devries words, tried to slowly his breathing as he slowly stepped backward. After several more seconds of evil eye deliverance to Lynch, Steve addressed the station manager. “Gary, we’re gonna need some help analyzing that film.”

 

Devries quickly promised to get his best technicians in to the studio to do McGarrett’s bidding. Steve barely recalled thanking the man as his thoughts turned back to the events he’d just witnessed. They knew more, but unfortunately, he realized they didn’t know nearly enough yet to be able to help his missing friend.

 

 

 

 

Please choose an entree, and remember, this is a buffet -- you may always come back and select another path!

 

 

 

Tofu with Vegetables                  Sweet and Sour Pineapple Chicken