TELLTALE ALOHA

 

By BH and GM

 

 

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

                          Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

 

 

October 1973

 

NNN

 

 

“Danny Williams, are you trying to duck out on us?”

 

Knowing the blush rising up his face confirmed the gentle indictment, the Five-0 officer turned with a smile to confront his charming accuser. Dora Bergman, her slim frame draped in an elegant evening gown glittering with dark blue shimmers, instead of her usual nursing uniform, slipped an arm around his.

 

“Aren’t you the one who always gets after us for not getting enough sleep?” he countered in what he hoped was a pithy retort, instead of the clumsy repost it sounded like to him. The counter-question was appropriately accentuated by a yawn.

 

Both laughed at the perfect timing.

 

“Well, I can’t let you leave with me being the only woman here with whom you haven’t danced. Then, I wouldn’t think of keeping you from dreamland a moment longer,” she smiled. “Especially after sacrificing so valiantly by filling in for Steve this evening.”

 

“It IS a worthy cause,” Dan admitted.

 

“Well, you’re doing magnificently,” Dora proffered with a slight wink. “And you look just adorable this evening – why your eyes match your tuxedo!”

 

He felt a gentle burn come to his cheeks, but before he could respond to the flattery, she added, “I dare say Steve would’ve shown up in traditional black.”

 

“Steve did really want to be here,” he defended weakly despite the knowledge that he did not have to make excuses for his friend to someone who knew them so well. An extended member of the Five-0 ohana -- one of the prettiest -- as a matter of fact.

 

A new children’s clinic adjacent to Queen’s Hospital would normally have brought the press-shy McGarrett out of the office in support of such a worthy cause, but tonight’s dinner had interfered with an overlapping case he’d personally tied-up in Kauai.

 

Steve’s plane was due to touch down soon, but not soon enough. The boss considered the second-in-command’s duties extending to charity events as well as criminal cases. With as much good grace as possible, Williams donned his rarely-used, baby blue tuxedo and came for the dry chicken, long speeches, photographs with the right people, and sipped a glass of cola instead of indulging in the open bar. He’d secretly patted himself on the back as he thought he’d done an exemplary job and now, with Ten PM approaching, it was time to fetch Steve from the airport, then go home.

 

Governor Jameson and Dr. and Mrs. Trent Overton – the organizers of the bash -- just finished a last pose for the photographer by the advertising poster at the door. When they drifted away, Dan had hoped to slip out unnoticed, but leave it to Dora to catch him in mid-escape.

 

“You gonna dance with my wife, Danny? I’m getting too old to tango.”  Niles Bergman, Coroner, ME and physician-on-call to Hawaii Five-0, jostled him with an elbow as he took possession of the younger officer’s drink. “Please… I have an early meeting at eight.”

 

Williams scoffed. “Eight! I’ll be jogging at six with Steve,” he countered without sympathy.

 

“Old folks need more sleep than the young,” Bergman countered with a straight face. “Do you good to suffer a little.”

 

“Dancing with Dora does not fall into the category of suffering, Doc,” Williams called over his shoulder as the charming Dora gave him an appreciative wink and led him out onto the dance floor.

 

“Steve was supposed to be here,” she told him in an aggravated tone as they maneuvered past Ted Milton and his wife, and nodded to Governor Jameson and his wife, Mary, also moving to the dance floor. “I wanted him to meet this lovely doctor who just arrived from Fiji.”

 

Hoping the beginning of the fast swing number covered his groan, the young detective felt he was doing more than his duty to his friend and superior by filling in tonight. His appearance saved Steve from an infamous set-up with one of Dora’s friends.

 

Deciding to lead the conversation in a more comfortable direction, Williams inquired, “How do you like working for Overton?”

 

“What I would imagine it’s like to be an assistant to a movie star. Work mingled with social occasions mingled with a lot of attention.”  Mischievous, she grinned, “Or working for Steve McGarrett. You’re workaholics and perfectionists. Detectives and surgeons.”

 

“Not all of us,” Dan defended as they coursed around the floor at a little faster pace than most of the others, he noted. Dora was really into this energetic dancing. No wonder the Doc needed a substitute once in a while!

 

“Mmmm,” Her eyes narrowed as she penetrated him with a mock frown. “Do not exclude yourself from that group, Danny Williams.”

 

“What? I have a social life!”

 

“The last blind date I set you up with had other things to say when you ditched her – a pretty young nurse – to go help Steve on a stake out.”

 

Blind dates provided by Dora!  He’d rather have an encounter with Pele – wait – that WAS the last blind date!  Why did the Doc’s wife think she had to get him married off? His only consolation was that she targeted Steve even more persistently with set-up dates!  Maybe that was the REAL reason McGarrett had conveniently ended up on another island tonight?

 

He was spared from more debate when the song ended. Best not to get involved with Dora’s history of matchmaking with the two bachelors of Five-0. Why was it happily married women wanted all the men they knew to be married? And why was each certain she would be the one to find the mythical golden match, he wondered as they headed back to join Doc Bergman.

 

“Only one dance?” the Coroner teased when they returned. “Thought you’d have more energy than that, Danny. Why aren’t you with a pretty date tonight? You know Dora would’ve been happy to fix you up with one of her nurses. From what I hear, they think you’re cute.”

 

Williams flushed slightly at the tease, but the retort which sprang to mind about Mrs. Bergman’s blind dates was not one he was willing to share with the lovely woman just releasing his arm. Instead, he offered a silent, tight-eyed response aimed at the physician as he verbally ignored the rib.

 

“Only one dance – I have to pick up Steve at the air—” Five-0’s second-in-command gasped slightly as he noticed the out-of-control tray of martini glasses careening towards Dora. “Hey!” He shouted as he reflexively pushed forward and lifted his arm to serve as an impromptu shield.

 

No one else had time to do more than tense themselves in wait of what was to come. The petite nurse hunched her shoulders ever so slightly as the glasses cascaded down around, but not upon her. Dan’s arm took the brunt of the tumbling beverages before they found their way onto the breast of Dan’s tuxedo and white shirt, and then landing on the floor with a harsh, high-pitched crash.

 

“Oh, dear!” Mrs. Bergman cried out as Williams released a pained gasp. With only a shaken glance towards the flustered waiter, she immediately set about assessing her human shield’s status. “Danny, are you okay?”

 

Before the grimacing detective could respond, Doctor Bergman fired an angry salvo at the tall, burn-skinned haole waiter. “What on EARTH is wrong with you, man!

 

Niles, please!” Dora snapped impatiently with an annoyed toss of her head in the physician’s direction. “I’m all right!”

 

“Are you sure?” were Dan’s first words as he ineffectively wiped at his shirt.

 

“I’m very sorry, sir,” the man, some eight inches taller than Williams, mumbled desperately as he nervously alternated between scanning the room and trying to wipe the moisture from his victim’s arm.

 

“You could’ve hurt somebody!” The medical examiner was not satisfied.

 

“It’s… it’s okay… I’m fine,” Dan insisted distractedly, now not only tired, but decidedly uncomfortable as the wetness percolated across the threads of his clothing and drew goose bumps onto his skin.

 

“What’s your name?” Bergman demanded of the distressed man, whose eyes darted fearfully towards the doctor.

 

Niles! Stop it!” The petite woman called out again, this time a little louder, before she began to help Dan remove his jacket.

 

By now, several of the wait staff were present trying to assist in the cleanup project. The more senior among them hovered solicitously over Dan and Dora making ineffective, token gestures at helping set the mess straight.

 

“I’ll get you another jacket, sir!” The supervisor offered.

 

“Don’t bother – I’ve gotta go anyway,” Williams glanced at his watch. “Steve’s plane lands in twenty minutes.”

 

With a promise that his tuxedo would be cleaned and delivered to the Palace still echoing in his ears, Dan made it to the stairwell and descended to the garage level. What an evening! Williams pondered as he trotted down the steps. Enduring small talk with dozens of mostly older, married couples, fox-trotting and waltzing through what seemed like hundreds of musical numbers with women of varying degrees of grace… Picking at appetizers – some more appetizing than others -- while politely dodging questions about the latest police cases to be profiled in the news… And then to have the evening end with an embarrassing accident which left him smelling like a drunk – yes, Steve definitely owed him one! The door creaked as he pushed it open and reached for his car key.

 

“No!” Dan spat suddenly and ran his hand over his side. It struck him that, just before the accident, he’d surreptitiously transferred his keys to his tuxedo pocket in eager anticipation of a hasty exit. He stopped dead in his tracks and took in a breath to curse, but never had the chance.

 

A white flash of light accompanied a sharp and stunning blow to the top of his head. He rolled in blackness for an indefinite period before he became aware of sensation again. A cool, smooth surface against his cheek… pain… excruciating pain exploding through his eye sockets from the top of his head.

 

Taking in a slow breath, he tried to reorient himself to his circumstance, but before he could will his eyes open, he was suddenly snatched from his resting place and roughly lifted upward by someone who grunted with the effort. The detective groaned as another agonizing lightening bolt of pain pushed its way through his skull with his change of position. A gasp from his “handler” sluggishly registered. Williams made an uncoordinated attempt to free himself (from what or whom he had no clue), but did not have to spend much energy struggling before he was dumped roughly on his side onto a lumpy, uneven surface. He willed his eyes open to see the fuzzy image of a human form hovering over him. The dim light behind the figure darkened the all-important features of the man, who grunted as he raised his arms.

 

A pressure wave of air preceded a loud, but dull KER-CHUNK. With his thoughts too muddled to evaluate what was happening, Dan could only absorb impressions through mostly uncooperative senses. His resting place… ground? No -- he clawed and found his fist full of thick cloth. Before he could dig further, the muffled roar of a car engine scattered his attention. An obnoxious jerk of the vehicle being kicked from park into reverse too suddenly caused the detective to roll forward, sending his mind reeling again with a wave of nausea. He was in a car… the trunk… he’d been stuffed into the trunk of a car… There was no time for him to be amazed or dismayed as his prison accelerated backward, and then jumped forward, roughly pitching his helpless form in whatever direction accommodated the laws of physics. The screeching of tires beneath him registered in his consciousness for only a few moments before the vehicle rounded a corner so sharply that Williams was slammed headfirst into the side of the conveyance.

 

Dancing… the blue-haired woman seemed oblivious to the fact that she kept stepping on his feet… Suddenly, Governor Jamison stood next to him, a perfect, well-practiced smile plastered on his face despite the fact that he was complaining quietly to Dan that Steve always seemed to luck out of the painfully tedious events… A wine glass slipped from a tray to the floor… then more of them, each cracking gently in half as they landed…

 

“Who’s your prime suspect, Williams?”

 

A puff of smoke wafted upward from the cigar stuffed into the chubby face of his interrogator…. On the dance floor again – this time with Mrs. Overton. His dance partner was suddenly yanked from him and replaced by Doctor Bergman…

 

“I’ll have Dora set you up with Pele again… She’ll see you married if it’s the last thing she does, Danny…”

 

An attractive young woman smiled at him from across the room. Her earrings sparkling like stars framed her delicate features, but the pleasant sight was quickly vanquished by the threatening expression of the older man – her father, Dan suspected – gazing at him from her side. His watch… seven o’clock… suddenly nine… then back to seven…

 

“Dance with my wife, Danny…”

 

Headache… throbbing… cold… the taste of... chicken? No… Dan licked his lips… not chicken… gritty… dirt… he gave a dry spit. Dirt! He had dirt in his mouth! And he was cold… soaking wet…

 

He lifted his head and opened his eyes. The act made him dizzy, but he persisted. Bushes… he was lying in big, leafy bushes. Strains of traffic and tropical music in the distance further oriented him to the fact that he was somewhere in town.

 

Rising gingerly to keep his head from falling off, he came to his knees, and blinked to better focus. He appeared to be in one of the manicured garden beds which lined the side of one of the narrow side streets near the big hotels in Waikiki. Gritting his teeth and taking in a deep breath to try to bring a little clarity to his thoughts, he continued to slowly scan the area. A more exact idea of his location sank in as he began to recognize familiar landmarks. He was just around the corner from the garage entrance of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. What had happened to him? How had he come to be lying face down in the dirt in an alley in Waikiki? His head was spinning, but he recalled he’d been trying to escape the fundraising event which had taken place – or was still taking place (what time is it?) – around the corner. Clearly – or not so clearly perhaps – he’d been attacked by someone, to what end he knew not.

 

It took every bit of determination he could muster to bring himself to a standing position. His eyes began to sting as moisture began to trickle into them. A clumsy brush of his face with a dirty shirt sleeve revealed that the wetness was blood. The detective suddenly added faintness to his list of symptoms, but knew he needed to return to the scene of the crime before the trail drew cold. Staggering from the entangling vines, he stumbled onto the narrow sidewalk. Dan made an awkward attempt to smooth his decimated shirt as he steadied himself for the trip back to the garage.

 

NNN

 

Steve McGarrett glanced at his watch as he strolled across the tarmac towards the concourse. The flight from Lihue had landed a few minutes late, so to not see his second-in-command waiting for him as he disembarked from the aircraft caught him slightly off guard. Knowing that Williams would be coming directly from the hospital charity event, the head of Five-0 wondered what could’ve held up his friend’s escape.

 

He scanned the street as he approached the curb where three taxi cabs sat in wait of passengers – no sign of Williams’ familiar Ford. Of course, there were a dozen reasons why his detective might be late picking him up. His lip twitched slightly with the thought that Dora Bergman might’ve actually cornered Danno with another blind date. On the other hand, it was not like Williams to not at least communicate a change of plan…

 

McGarrett’s expression darkened marginally as he nodded to the cabbie in the first car and hopped into the front passenger seat. But it would certainly have been easy for Danno to lose track of time at the ball… a room full of fascinating… older, nosy… boring… easy to forget the time…

 

“Yeah, right,” McGarrett muttered.

 

“Sir?” The slight Hawaiian behind the steering wheel queried.

 

The question brought the detective back to the moment with a decision made. “To the Hawaiian Village bruddah – and step on it.”

 

NNN

 

There were still dozens of guests milling about the large ballroom, McGarrett noted as he scanned the room for a familiar face (one in particular). With what he hoped was a casually pleasant expression, he gave a short nod to Mrs. Overton and three other guests in his line of sight before he continued his pan of the room.

 

“Steve! Don’t tell me – Danny was having such a good time that he picked you up and insisted that the two of you return to the festivities.” The head of Five-0 spun to see the medical examiner, legs stretched to their limits in front of him as he sat in one of the dining chairs which had been pushed against the wall. The man’s tie was loose, and it was apparent that the party had gone on too long for his taste.

 

McGarrett grinned, but suddenly felt a notch more anxious – Danno HAD left the ball to pick him up. “I’m sure that’s what WOULD have happened, Doc, if Danno had in fact shown up at the airport.”

 

Bergman frowned. “Hmmph, well he said—”

 

“Steve! Did Danny come back with you?”

 

The detective turned as Mrs. Bergman approached and warmly took his arm. He bent to accept a kiss on the cheek as he responded. “Actually, Dora, I took a cab here – Danno didn’t meet me.”

 

The woman, dwarfed by the tall figure McGarrett posed, scrunched her brow. “I have his car keys – one of the waiters brought them to me after the incident with the drink tray. When he didn’t come right back, I assumed he must’ve had a second set.”

 

“Incident?”

 

The medical man rose, a tired, pained expression wandering across his features, as he spoke. “We all got a little wet after some clumsy oaf of a waiter nearly flattened Dora.”

 

“You didn’t hear from Danny?” The nurse pressed as Steve gently pulled away from her.

 

“No,” he returned tersely. “I’m gonna go check the parking garage.”

 

“I’ll grab his keys,” Dora supplied quickly as she turned and hurried to the coat check room.

 

“He took the stairs out.” Following the detective, the physician pointed to the nearby stairwell despite the fact that McGarrett, knowing his friend would’ve chosen the steps, was already headed in that direction.

 

Within a minute, the two men stepped into the underground garage, where McGarrett’s eyes were immediately drawn to a series of dark smears and one partial footprint around a much larger deep burgundy stain. A tire track left a trail of crimson from the puddle as well and diminished to invisibility within a few feet. Instantly recognizing recently-spilled blood, his chest tightened as he placed his hand on the doctor’s chest to wordlessly issue caution about where he stepped.

 

“It’s blood!” Bergman announced with surprise as the detective gingerly stepped around several fat red drops and kneeled by the largest puddle about 18 inches across. The lightest touch of its center with his pinky told him that whatever transpired had happened at least an hour earlier.

 

“What time did Danno leave?” Steve probed as his apprehension deepened. With one last close-up look at the small, congealing pool on the floor, he rose to his feet.

 

The creak of the door preceded the rushed entrance of Dora. “I’ve got the key--” Her announcement was cut short when she saw the concerned expressions on the two men.

 

After a silent exchange with his wife, the physician responded to the detective’s question. “It was about twenty minutes before your plane was supposed to land, Steve – by Danny’s reckoning anyway.”

 

Mrs. Bergman stepped from the shadow of her husband and gasped delicately as the ill-boding pools came into her view. A brief analysis of the scene filled in the holes for the nurse. “Steve, something’s happened to Danny – is that what you’re thinking?” Dora’s voice wavered with emotion, causing the doctor to place a light supportive hand on his wife’s shoulder.

 

Too distracted by his own dire thoughts, he could offer no measure of comfort as he studied the footprint which had tracked through the blood. He hated to say it, but the evidence did point to foul play. His friend’s car was here about forty paces away – his friend was not. The blood stains on the floor spoke of an injury – accident or crime – McGarrett’s gut told him CRIME.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

The voice echoed through the cavernous space, startling the three people standing over the blood-laced scene.

 

“Danny!”

 

Mrs. Bergman’s scream elicited an involuntary shudder from McGarrett as his head snapped to look at the woman before tracing visually back to the sound of the first voice.

 

He gasped at the almost macabre sight before adding his own shout. “Danno!”

 

Williams stood, listing slightly, arms hanging casually at his sides, about twenty feet away near one of the large cement pillars. Face streaked and mottled with blood, his bedraggled condition was immediately obvious. His pale blue pants and formerly white shirt were now striped in a near-psychedelic pattern of reds, browns, and grays, with his collar and shoulders drizzled in a shade of deep strawberry. His hair was dark and damp, clearly blood soaked.

 

The head of Five-0 bolted towards his friend with the Bergmans trailing behind, and was at his side in three strides. Fighting the urge to clutch for fear of touching whatever wound was causing such bleeding, he gently grabbed his friend’s arm.

 

“Danno! What happened? Where are you hurt?” The questions poured out too quickly to be answered, but McGarrett didn’t care – he was busy searching for the answers himself.

 

Williams unsteadily looked up at his boss. “As if you didn’t know,” he muttered before squeezing his eyes shut tightly for a moment.

 

“Where is this blood coming from?” The physician, now on the other side of his patient, wondered as he gingerly probed his patient.

 

Dan looked over slowly at the medical man. “What?”

 

“Where are you hurt?” Bergman re-phrased the question. No answer was necessary for seconds later, he came upon a two-inch gash on Williams’ crown – had it not been bleeding so profusely, it might not have been seen immediately through the tight curls which graced the detective’s head. As it was, a few small rivers of crimson were escaping from the wound and taking the paths of least resistance downward.

 

“Dora, call an ambulance!”

 

Without sparing a second to verbally acknowledge the command from her spouse, the petite figure, still incongruously dressed in her evening gown, spun and trotted back towards the stairwell, her black patent leather pumps tapping out a quick-time echo in the garage.

 

“You definitely owe me, Steve,” Dan looked back up at his taller friend, the act causing him to stagger a bit. McGarrett and Bergman both grabbed the younger detective to keep him from tipping over.

 

“Let’s sit down here and wait for our ride,” the doctor insisted.

 

McGarrett agreed with a distracted nod, and both men lowered the injured detective to the floor and leaned him against the pillar. The movement caused Williams’ face to twist in pain. He groaned, but seemed relieved to be sitting.

 

“Danno, what happened?” Steve interrogated softly as Bergman pulled out his handkerchief and whispered for McGarrett to hand over his as well. The detective quickly obeyed, and the doctor took both cloths, folded and pressed them lightly to Dan’s crown to try to stem the red tide. The injured man cried out and grimaced. For a few seconds, his breathing revealed that the pain was sharp and intense.

 

Both of the men aiding him unconsciously held their breath in sympathy until Williams’ own breathing and tense expression eased a bit, and he spoke. “I’m late picking you up…”

 

Grateful that his friend had the mental wherewithal to remember what should have transpired on this evening, Steve squeezed the arm on which he’d maintained a grip. “Don’t worry about that – what happened?”

 

Dora, with a hotel security guard in tow, slipped up, and quietly moved to kneel beside the injured cop as Dan closed his eyes for an extended blink. “It was just like I knew it would be...”

 

“Exactly WHAT was like you knew it would be?” Steve pressed as he decided at that moment to check his friend’s pants pockets for his wallet and badge – not there.

 

Dan’s brow furled. “Did you forget what I had to do this evening?”

 

“What? Get mugged in a parking garage?”

 

“Don’t worry, Steve. I chatted and danced and ate the crummy food and got my picture taken with the governor and ummm… what’s that couple’s name?”

 

“Trent and Alice Overton?” Dora supplied as a question while she unbuttoned Dan’s cuffs and palpated for a pulse.

 

The sound of the woman’s voice made the detective look up slowly into her eyes. “Dora… you looked so pretty in your sparkly dress. If I hadn’t been up all night on a case last night, I would’ve tangoed your pumps off.”

 

The nurse smiled poignantly and cocked her head as she touched his cheek with only her fingertips. Under her breath, she quickly supplied a piece of medical data to her husband before she responded to her former-dance-partner-now-patient. “He’s shocky. It’s okay, sweetie – now tell us – how did you come to be hurt?”

 

Confusion washed over Williams’ face. “I’m hurt?”

 

Steve’s chest tightened with the revelation that his friend did not know he was injured. He sighed and spoke up. “Yes, aikane, it looks like somebody got the drop on you when you stepped into the garage.”

 

Dan wore an intent expression as he listened to the possible explanation, and then looked down in concentration for several seconds before lethargically responding. “I’m sorry I’m late picking you up.”

 

The sound of a siren announced the approach of the ambulance. Desperate to get SOME clue from Williams, McGarrett tried another tack. “Danno – you didn’t start out late. What made you late?”

 

“The car ride I guess…” Dan closed his eyes. “My head…”

 

The doctor lifted the double handkerchief to show the two people crouched there with him – it was drenched. Dora quickly pulled a small pack of travel tissues from her purse and handed it to her husband as he reassured his patient. “You got a hole in the top of your head, Danny. We’re gonna go to the hospital now and get it stitched up.”

 

“Hmmm,” Williams did not open his eyes. “Sorry, Steve… I really wanted… to be on… on time…”

 

The ambulance tires screeched as it rounded the corner, and McGarrett stood to make sure they saw where to stop as he told the Bergmans that he would remain here on the scene until he was satisfied that any collectable evidence was gathered and catalogued. It was clear that his second-in-command was in no condition to answer questions at that moment.

 

As the attendants lifted the unresponsive detective onto the stretcher, the head of Five-0 put a hand on Bergman’s shoulder. “What do ya think, Doc?”

 

“I think we need to get him x-rayed and sewn up before I tell you what I think,” the doctor breathed as he frowned at the freshly sopping, and rapidly disintegrating tissue bundle. “Leave it to Danny to get me on the job at a dance.”

 

NNN

 

Arriving at the Palace straight from the hospital, McGarrett was a little startled to see the staff already in place and hard at work. A glance at Jenny’s clock as he paused at her desk told him he was far later than expected. Time had a fluid, displaced-with-reality quality within the confines of the hospital – within the stressful anxiety of his emotions when one of his guys was a patient – when Danno was there.

 

Jenny handed him a pile of memos and envelopes. “How’s Danny?” she asked brightly, as if knowing the answer.

 

The chief prided himself on the ability to maintain a balanced demeanor in nearly every circumstance. Ms. Sherman, though, knew him well, and would pick up even the most subtle signs if he was consumed with preoccupied distress about his youngest detective. When he walked in the door, no doubt, she had already read his countenance, his gait, his manner, and concluded that their missing colleague was much improved.

 

“He’s doing pretty well considering – stable all night,” he smiled despite the guarded instincts. Danno was doing much better than last night. “Doc says to give him a few more hours of sleep before...” McGarrett let his voice trail off as he hesitated – it struck him that the physician’s phraseology made it obvious that the head of Five-0 was hovering at the hospital like a mother hen.

 

Jenny didn’t need to hear the rest of Bergman’s admonition – she knew. “Great,” she returned his smile. “It’s never the same without him around.”

 

“No, it’s not.”  McGarrett agreed with a grateful squeeze of the petite woman’s shoulder before he began to leaf through the messages and mail. Glancing around, he noted Kokua in his cubicle and Kelly absent. The boss approached the newest detective’s desk. “Ben, you’ll have to juggle Danno’s load with yours for a few days.”

 

“Sure,” Ben nodded, holding up a file folder. “Already handling the dock extortion case. Chin took off just little while ago to interview someone out at Aiea about that string of robberies Danny was covering.”

 

“Great.”  McGarrett turned back toward his office. “Jenny, get a hold of Duke and have him come over.”

 

“Will do.”

 

“I need to go over the HPD overnights for this week. You still have them?”

 

“Just about to file them,” she told him and reached to exactly the right pile behind her, then handed them to the boss.

 

Closing his door when he entered his own office, McGarrett tossed the documents in hand onto the desk and stood there sorting through the morning paperwork already thick in the IN Box. Thumbing quickly to the overnight HPD activity summaries, he grabbed the thin stack. Circulating around the desk, he opened up the lanai doors and leaned against the doorframe as he read over the crime data for the night before.

 

Grimacing, he scanned the standard police language report of Danno’s mugging the night before. He had read such familiar documents hundreds of times, but knowing it was his friend’s name here in the black and white report made his stomach ripple. It was so clinical and removed from the anxiety of last night when he knew his friend was unexplainably missing; the anguish when Danno showed up in that garage bleeding and battered. The officer who wrote the report stated that the victim was “not useful” in giving evidence against his attacker – a suspected car thief! 

 

With a snarl, McGarrett muttered defenses for his friend. “Danno was swimming in blood and a concussion – how useful could ANYONE be!”

 

Working himself into ill temper, he scanned the reports and was irritated he did not find what he wanted. More evidence of the heinous car thief who had assaulted his friend. There were no similar car thefts at that hotel for the entire week, and only three others in Waikiki, at night. None of the others involved violence.

 

A strong knock at the door (one that might have followed lighter knocks, but he hadn’t really been paying much attention), urged him to bid the guest inside. Sergeant Duke Lukela entered and gave a nod of greeting, then immediately commented he was pleased to hear Danny was doing well. It was always good to see his old friend, but McGarrett felt bolstered at the arrival of Lukela at such a frustrating moment.

 

“Me too, Duke. Lucky thing he’s going to be all right.”  He waved the reports and took a seat at one of the white leather chairs in front of his desk, inviting the Sergeant to sit next to him. “I’ve been going over the HPD back logs for the last week. They’re not satisfactory. I can’t find a similar MO for Danno’s attack last night. I want you to dig around, Duke, gather information, get some data on this.”

 

Lukela’s face did not alter expression. “You know, Steve, HPD is handling this as a car theft gone wrong. If it wasn’t for Doctor Overton’s missing car, they’d be considering this a mugging.”

 

“I know.”

 

At the curt reply, Lukela gave a slow nod. “Danny has a lot of friends on the force, Steve, you know that –“

 

An even edgier, terse bite. “Yeah, I know.”

 

The uniformed policeman bit his lip. “Steve, they’re going to take care of this. Danny’s one of their own.”

 

“He’s one of MY own!” McGarrett snapped back sharply. “And I want to take care of this!”  Hearing the echo of his shout ring in his ears, he took a breath and was grateful Lukela knew him well enough to not be surprised or disturbed at such an outburst. “Duke, I can’t officially put the resources of Five-0 on a mugging, even if it was one of my officers. Nor do I want to let anyone in HPD think I lack confidence in their investigative abilities. I don’t.”

 

Lukela almost smiled. “But this is Danny we’re talking about.”

 

“Yeah, this is Danno. And you know – you know --”

 

“I know you don’t have to say any more,” the officer nodded. “I understand. None of the guys, or Chief Grover, will ever know.”

 

McGarrett patted his shoulder in gratitude. “Mahalo, my friend.”

 

NNN

 

“How do you feel?” From the faint grimace and Dan’s refusal / inability to open his eyes, Steve knew that the answer was not good. Still, standing at his friend’s bedside the afternoon after the mysterious incident, the question seemed to be the best ice breaker.

 

“Headache,” Williams answered softly in a hoarse voice. A thick bandage on the crown of his head was secured in place by gauze, which was looped a dozen times around his head under his chin. It was obvious that someone in the wee hours had attempted to clean the copious amount of blood from the patient, but he or she had not been completely successful. Those curls not obscured by the over-sized bandage were, for the most part, clear of clot debris, but dark brown Betadine Disinfectant stained his normally sandy-colored hair. His face and neck still bore numerous streaks and smudges of dirt and blood.

 

McGarrett frowned in sympathy and glimpsed back at Chin Ho Kelly and Ben Kokua. The two Five-0 detectives exchanged pained glances with their boss and then each other – there wasn’t much they could do except commiserate.

 

“Well, if it’s any consolation, Doc says your skull’s not broken. A concussion and complimentary nasty gash look to be the worst of it,” the head of Five-0 offered.

 

The comment caused Williams’ brow to furl slightly. Apparently digesting the information, he remained silent for a few seconds before he swallowed and spoke. “Where am I?”

 

His concern flashed considering that his younger officer was not recollecting the violent incident. “Leahi Hospital – do you remember what happened last night?”

 

Another delay was long enough that Steve began to wonder whether his friend had drifted back to sleep, but finally, Dan reacted. Eyes still not open, he weakly cleared his throat. “Hmmm, date gone bad?”

 

The head of Five-0 grinned and shared a pleased glance with the two snickering detectives behind him. It was encouraging to see Williams’ sense of humor coming through even in his discomfort.

 

“No – that was last month when Dora set you up with that little ICU nurse.”

 

The prone form took in a slightly deeper breath and seemed to hold it for a few seconds before a replied uncertainly. “Dora… the dance… was last night?”

 

McGarrett released a silent sigh of relief. His second-in-command might be confused and disoriented at the moment (and who wouldn’t be!), but at least his faculties did not seem permanently damaged. “Yeah, Danno – the fundraiser was last night at the Hawaiian Village. You were injured in the parking garage as you were leaving.” He didn’t want to lead his friend down the path of a false memory, so he was careful to relay only the barest facts upon which a mental hat could be hung.

 

More silence ensued for several seconds before Dan’s expression grew into one of painful concentration. “My keys… left my keys… then…” Slowly he opened his eyes and swallowed as he looked up into the intense blue eyes studying him. “I… someone… there was a car….”

 

Steve nodded slowly in encouragement, and whispered loudly, “Yes, Danno, go on.”

 

Williams hesitated as if reviewing his memory one last time before making a report. “I was in the trunk… then I woke up… in a bush.” His face grew troubled as he let his eyelids close again. “A bush… I was on my way to the airport… what happened?”

 

Chin and Ben took a couple steps closer to their colleague’s bedside as McGarrett explained. “All indications are that you had the bad luck to walk into a car theft in progress. Trent Overton’s Cadillac was stolen from the garage. It had been parked right where you left a decent-sized puddle of blood.”

 

“A car thief,” Dan groaned.

 

The Chinese detective nodded and spoke up. “Car’s still missing.”

 

“Along with your wallet,” Ben added.

 

With that news, after a brief delay, Williams flinched slightly. “I was mugged?”

 

McGarrett responded slowly. “That is the scenario which fits what facts we have.”

 

Dan sighed. “Embarrassing.”

 

With a gentle pat on the patient’s arm, Steve reassured his friend, “It could’ve been a lot worse, my friend.”

 

Williams’ expression relaxed marginally, and the detectives standing around his bedside knew that he had dozed off. The head of Five-0 offered a small hint of a thin smile, but his eyes held the gravity of his feeling. “You could’ve been killed.”

 

NNN

 

“Why do you need more blood?” Dan complained as he averted his eyes from the sight of the needle pushing through the skin in the crook of his arm.

 

Bergman continued to focus on the operation and kept his head tilted backward slightly so as to better see through the spectacles which had slipped closer to the tip of his nose. “Hush,” he whispered.

 

McGarrett, who’d stepped back a few paces from the bed to allow access to the patient, now strolled slowly to the other side of the bed and made eye contact with his friend. Nothing was said but the silent conversation conveyed the fact that Steve was still concerned about Williams’ condition. Dan offered a grin of reassurance just before the physician distractedly changed the subject.

 

“So have you got that waiter on your list of suspects?”

 

Still smiling, Williams nodded slightly and spoke up despite the fact that he knew the question was directed at his boss. “Yeah, Doc – and the baker and the candlestick maker.”

 

Amusement flashed across McGarrett’s expression before he added a frown to it. “What about the butcher?”

 

“Too obvious,” Dan shrugged.

 

Bergman tossed a slightly annoyed glance at each man as he pressed a cotton ball to his patient’s arm. “So that’s how you guys solve crimes. All this time, I thought you used things like motive and opportunity. That waiter had both, ya know.”

 

The head of Five-0 sighed. “Doc, leave the investigating to me – you’re a witness here.”

 

“Hmmm, well a medical examiner friend of mine in L.A. tells me that he’s a little more proactive in criminal investigations.”

 

“He’s probably not surrounded by the detective talent that you are,” Williams offered as he let the physician direct his hand to press against the cotton ball on his arm.

 

The medical man’s lip twitched slightly as he pulled a bandage from its wrapper. “I don’t know, Danny – if the waiter isn’t above the candlestick maker on your list…”

 

McGarrett shook his head slightly and sighed. “The waiter IS on the list, Doc. Now what’s the verdict with Danno?”

 

Bergman let his eyes quickly shoot to both detectives before they refocused on the bandaging operation. “Another day here as my guest and I think he’ll be good to go home to rest.”

 

Dan frowned. “What’s wrong with today? I’ve been here three days already – I’m feeling fine.”

 

“Leave the medical decisions to ME, Detective Williams,” the physician intoned with evil satisfaction before he added, “And when I send you home, I don’t mean that you hop into your Mustang and drive to the Palace! You’re going to be feeling pretty weak and tired for the next several days.”

 

“I don’t drive the Mustang to work,” Dan defended.

 

McGarrett broke in with a thin smile leveled at his bed-ridden friend, “Don’t worry, Doc – Danno will not be driving anywhere.”

 

With a skeptical humph, Bergman stuffed the sensitive end of his stethoscope into the breast pocket of his white jacket, and plod from the room. “Yeah, and I’m gonna win the Hawaiian Surf Championship this year.”

 

The door wafted shut gently behind the physician, leaving the two men to muse in silence for several seconds before McGarrett broached a subject again. “Danno, any more thoughts on who rang your bell the other night?”

 

With a mildly disheartened shake of his head, the patient admitted he’d had no new recollections or sudden revelations. “Most of my memories of that evening are from before I left the dance. The rest are just fuzzy bits and images… and perceptions.”

 

“What do you mean perceptions?”

 

Williams sighed and offered a frown as his gaze turned to the view out the window. “Sensations… pain… smells… cement… blood… and something sweet – like a spice or something. I wish I could give you something more to go on. I’m… I’m drawing a blank on everything else.” Frustration was evident in Dan’s voice, and Steve moved to reassure his friend.

 

“Give it a little time – you may remember something else.”

 

“Is HPD still calling it a car theft interrupted?”

 

The Five-0 chief canted his head slightly in confirmation. “Yes, but I’m not convinced all the facts are in.”

 

A small sense of foreboding crept into Williams’ sense of wellbeing as he slowly turned to study his friend. Steve had a history of – to put it euphemistically -- aggressively looking out for Dan’s welfare. The man was almost violent in his protectiveness when Williams was hurt or incapacitated. This fact was a source of occasional embarrassment to the younger detective, but simultaneously, it was a touching tribute to his value to the Five-0 chief. With this knowledge warming his heart, Williams silently endured any teasing which resulted from his favored status with Hawaii’s top cop.

 

How to put it, Dan pondered for a few seconds before he made the cautious inquiry. “You’re not… making any waves over this with HPD, are you, Steve?”

 

Knowing the point at which his protégé was driving, McGarrett immediately (too immediately Dan thought) and tersely denied active investigative involvement. “HPD is handling it,” he snapped as he scrutinized Williams’ suspicious expression. The discerning eyes forced him to look down casually at his watch. “I hate to be accused and run, but nobody’s minding the store.”

 

A crooked smile brushed across the patient’s face. The thought that nobody was minding the boss chased across his mind as his friend bid him a quick aloha and strode from the room with a promise to stop by later.

 

“Mahalo, Steve,” Dan offered softly to the door before he let his head settle back onto the pillow.

NNN

 

Taking the turn tight, compensating for the skid of the heavy vehicle, Dan twisted the wheel to the right, then quickly left as the bulky LTD slid on the loose, red dirt of the cliff road. Chasing the robbery suspect up the snaking highway along Oahu’s windward coast began inadvertently, but as part of his job, when the suspect, in an early 60s Impala, crossed his path on his way to work. What could Williams do? He joined in the chase as the white Chevy whipped around traffic, past police barricades and up King Kam Highway. The pursuit soon turned into a crusade for the Five-0 detective. This slippery character had eluded law enforcement for three weeks with his daring criminal activity and Williams was certain, now that he had joined the trail in Waikiki, they could nab this guy by the end of this car chase.

 

In the back of his mind, the detective realized that he would soon be standing before the desk of his boss, who was going to be very unhappy with him for jumping into the fray of a high-speed action only three days after his release from the hospital. McGarrett had given his second-in-command approval to come to the office on this morning, but Dan knew that his activities would’ve been restricted. He’d worry about that later – now -- as his sedan took over the lead with four HPD cars trailing behind, he was bent on capturing the crazy suspect. Taillights in sight, Williams was not going to let a criminal give him the slip. Particularly not behind the wheel.

 

At first wishing he was in the Mustang for the superior maneuverability in the tight corners, and the power-muscle engine that could outdistance any other car on the island, now he was glad he was using the company car as he bottomed out on an outcropping of volcanic stone. Wincing, he pushed the accelerator, closing the distance in the red dust as the Impala careened, then slid, down slope toward a deserted beach.

 

Familiar with the surf area, Dan slowed as the narrow dirt road sharply turned inland. The criminal, obviously not knowing the land as well as his pursuer, went into the turn too fast and wide. The Chevy skimmed on the gravelly path, whipping around in a sudden one-sixty-degree spin that clipped the front end of the LTD. The Chevy plunged down the rough lava rocks to land with a jarring crash at the rocky tide-line twenty feet below.

 

Twisting the wheel in his hands with speed quicker than mind or eye, Williams barely countered the reckless driving of the criminal by gyrating the big car, trying to stay on the path. Not quite successful, Williams skidded down to crash the rear end into the Impala. As soon as the LTD rocked to a stop, the officer held onto his ringing head for a moment, then stumbled out, aware there was a dangerous suspect on the loose and that he had no time to coddle his roaring headache and throbbing skull. Pausing on the ledge, Dan dizzily / blearily, searched for the suspect, waiting to see if he survived, and if the car would explode. Surprisingly, the criminal seemed only slightly dazed as he crawled out of the car window. Glancing up at his pursuer, the man then dashed across the rocks in another attempt to escape.

 

“What is wrong with you?” Dan muttered as he jumped down to the lava outcroppings and in an uncoordinated dash followed across the jagged landscape. His gait a little wobbly from the jarring crash and the still-not-vanished concussion, he doggedly tracked the fugitive. “No way I’m gonna let you go, man. Give it up!” he breathed as he ran.

 

The suspect was stumbling in and out of the surf, losing his lead quickly. Continually turning around to check on the detective, the criminal finally came to a stop. When the desperate man pulled a pistol from his pocket, Dan had a second of indecision, but his legs kept going, making the commitment almost, it seemed, without the permission of his brain. He plunged ahead, and the pistol discharged as Williams tackled the man, throwing them both into the heavy, rock-lined waves.

 

Fighting the surf, the lava, the man for possession of the weapon, Williams became a tangle of energized survival-focus as he managed to get the criminal in a firm hold and throw him against the rocky shore. Exhausted, he leaned against the man until two HPD officers joined the aftermath and cuffed the robber.

 

NNN

 

As soon as he heard the outer office door slam shut – a sound he had been anticipating for a while – McGarrett came to his feet and strode across the room. His office door had been left open so he would know the moment his detective returned. Accounts of Williams’ morning exploits still were peppering the radio, and McGarrett had simmered, vacillating between relief and irritation for the last few hours.

 

The head of Five-0 learned that Williams had joined HPD in pursuit of the robbery suspect when he arrived, after nine AM, from a breakfast meeting with the Governor. As details came in, the boss’s anxiety grew. While HPD commentary was nothing but glowing with admiration for the Five-0 detectives’ work, McGarrett had other adjectives in mind.

 

Confronting Williams as the younger detective ambled through the office, McGarrett’s fluctuation of emotions solidified. His officer was here; a bit worn looking and the hair still looked damp. A few scrapes, Steve noted, but thankfully no bullet wounds – he’d heard about the pistol. There was a triumphant air about Danno which spoke to pride in his work, which the head of Five-0 would happily share under other circumstances. Right now, concern outweighed every other consideration.

 

Ben and Chin emerged from their cubicles to congratulate the youngest officer. Jenny shook her head and scolded him for the reckless behavior even as she welcomed him with a hug. After modestly accepting the general celebratory comments, Dan greeted him with a smile that faded slowly as he recognized that his prediction about his boss’s displeasure had come to pass.

 

“Just when did you decide your life was worth risking for the likes of a robbery suspect?” McGarrett whipped out sharply.

 

The tone was as harsh as he felt inside – raw from the echo of fear as he learned the details of the chase. It was less than a week earlier that Danno had staggered into the parking garage, incoherent and bleeding profusely. With a few days in the hospital and a few more at home under his belt, Williams had grown restless. So, on this day, Steve had agreed to allow his detective to come in to work on the condition that he take it easy! A high-speed chase and the dangerous foot pursuit of an armed suspect was not what the doctor (or Hawaii’s top cop) ordered!

 

“And don’t get me started about the fact that your car is trashed! And you know that could have been you at the bottom of that cliff!  AND he had a gun, Danno, didn’t you think about that?”

 

Williams’ expression crumpled from pride to a vague uneasiness. “I didn’t expect him to be so crazy,” he defended.

 

“So you followed his lead? That justifies your actions?” he fired back. “He was wanted for robbery and you were willing to go over a cliff after him!” 

 

Aware his other detectives had disappeared and Jenny was buried in a phone conversation, McGarrett took a step back and a deep breath. The echo of his shouts seemed to ring in the suddenly uncomfortable atmosphere. Knowing it was wrong to berate his second-in-command in front of the rest of the staff, Steve tried to speak a little more quietly, though no less emphatically. “You could have been killed this morning.”

 

Not cowed, Williams stared at him in a solid refusal to give ground. “I was doing my job,” he reminded evenly.

 

“Doing your job? You just got out of the hospital! You should NOT have engaged!”  Realizing that his intensity and volume had begun to climb again, McGarrett took in yet another slow breath. He stood there for a few moments studying Williams’ strained countenance as he assessed the best course of action. The head of Five-0 was annoyed with himself for not having expected that his detective would leap back to work with everything he had at his earliest opportunity. Danno did know better, but, Steve knew, it was almost not in his friend’s makeup to DO better.

 

With a sigh, McGarrett finally responded, unable to mellow his tone more than marginally. “The question becomes how do I keep you out of trouble?”

 

Suddenly fearing that his boss would beach him again, Dan began to slowly shake his head, but before he could say anything appeasing, Jenny rose and stepped toward the Five-0 chief.

 

“Boss, HPD has requested the presence of Five-0 at a jewelry store break-in. Somebody left a finger in the ring case.”

 

“A finger? You mean a real human finger?” McGarrett blinked.

 

“Dispatch didn’t say,” the secretary shrugged slightly as she handed her boss the slip of paper on which she’d jotted the address.

 

“Sounds like a Halloween prank,” Five-0’s second-in-command volunteered, relieved to have the focus of conversation shift away from him.

 

“Yeeesss, Danno, it does,” McGarrett intoned softly as he returned his gaze to his second-in-command.

 

Suddenly wary, Williams looked slowly up into his boss’s eyes as the taller detective announced, “Danno will take care of it.”

 

“Me?” he gasped, appalled at the task. “A finger? It’s a joke!  A prank!”

 

“It IS that time of year, but find out for sure,” McGarrett ordered.

 

“Why are we rolling on a routine incident like this at all?” Dan argued.

 

“Danno, you know as well as I do that when HPD requests assistance, we’re bound to respond. We’ll find out the twist soon enough. Have Ben drive you since your car is no doubt in the shop.”

 

“Aww, Steve, please—”

 

The lead detective held up his hand. “On the other hand, maybe I should send you over to the hospital and have Bergman check you out after your morning of mayhem.”

 

The warning flashed in Steve’s eyes, and Dan knew the man was not bluffing. With a reluctant huff, he muttered an acceptance of the assignment and left with the Samoan detective on his heels.

 

Feeling the frosty atmosphere from the rest of the staff – that they considered his loss of his temper with Williams unacceptable – McGarrett retreated to his office, slamming the door closed – an obvious statement on the whole unsatisfactory morning.

 

Williams’ plodded desultorily out of the Palace to the nearest Five-0 vehicle in the parking lot, and slumped into the LTD. He sat there for several moments, staring at the wheel, before he realized he did not have a key. This was not his company car. Sheepishly glancing out the window, he noted Ben expectantly standing next to the vehicle, dangling his car keys by his index finger.

 

Glumly, Williams scooted across the seat and shifted to keep his sore right shoulder – a minor injury from this morning that he was not going to admit to anyone! -- off the door. Irritated at McGarrett’s overprotective attitude, loud vocal castigation in front of the rest of the staff, and punishment / assignment, he brooded all the way to Waikiki.

 

NNN

 

Hakima’s Jewelry was wedged in one of the small, unevenly distributed buildings under the shady trees of International Marketplace. Williams had never really noticed it before, but he was familiar with the area. The Marketplace was in the midst of Waikiki and a fun, inexpensive place to bring a date. Trader Vic’s -- just across from the jewelry store – was conveniently close to his apartment, and a decent restaurant/lounge. Sandy Manoa, Waikiki’s hottest rising star, was the lounge singer there. Coconut wireless had it that Manoa would be the next Hawaiian after Don Ho to make it big on the mainland record charts.

Two HPD patrolmen were placating an agitated shop keeper when the detectives arrived at the store front. Officers Tim Ono and Ted Nuuanu were well known to the Five-0 detectives. They took a moment to cover the amenities with Mr. Hardy Locke, the owner, and then immediately turned their attention to the specifics of the crime.

“Mr. Locke found a finger in one of his jewelry cases over here,” Nuuanu  explained as he guided the group into the building and pointed to the left.

Trailing behind, Dan held his breath as the Samoan/Hawaiian Ono, who was taller and broader than Ben, barely cleared the aisle between the fragile glass cases.

 

“What was taken?” Ben asked as he stooped before the glass counter to examine the scene.

 

“Nuthin’” Ono offered seriously. “They just gave him the finger.”

 

The other three officers all glanced at their colleague, but detected no outward sign of mirth at the situation. Any of the men might have had a witty rejoinder to offer, but the nervous owner hovered nearby and forced the law enforcement representatives to move along with the inquiry.

 

Williams slowly moved around to the employee side of the case before he kneeled and peered into the case. Amid a sea of sparkling bracelets resting on cotton-candy pink velvet, was a jaggedly severed finger sporting a classy, impressive ring with a red stone. The pink nail polish brushed across the well-manicured nail left little doubt that the digit had belonged to a female in life. His disgruntlement over the assignment was suddenly overshadowed by the sensation of familiarity which overcame him. Not immediately able to pinpoint the reason, he frowned slightly and cocked his head to the left to study the finger’s position from a different angle.

 

The delicate finger was bent naturally at the knuckle, but its waxy white pallor and the small ring of crimson moisture which had apparently drained from it made the scene incongruously grizzly. But there was something else… Dan could not quite identify it… He almost jumped when Ben’s voice broke his reverie.

 

“So, Ono, why we here?” The Samoan detective, obviously not as intrigued by the finger as the other Five-0 officer, queried in pigeon English as he rose. Of course, the question was a valid one – and Williams was mildly chagrinned that he’d forgotten to ask before that point. Without indication of a more complex case, a human body part would not necessitate the involvement of Hawaii’s elite investigative unit.

 

Ted Nuuanu spoke up in Ono’s place as he retrieved an envelope, already sandwiched in a handkerchief, from a neighboring countertop. “Didn’t Dispatch tell you?”

 

Kokua didn’t answer as looked at read the name of the address. Hawaii Five-0.” Dan came to his feet to look at the envelope in his colleague’s hand.

 

“Has it been opened?” Williams wondered as he gingerly accepted the item and placed it on the counter. The answer was obvious as he flipped it over to see an unbroken seal, but Ono responded anyway. “Nope – we weren’t sure if it was a good idea.”

 

Ben volunteered his pen as Dan used the unarmed end of it to slip under the fold of the envelope while holding it still with the handkerchief. The officers gathered around Williams, leaving the slight, Haole owner of the establishment standing on his toes at the back with an unsatisfactory view.

 

With brow furled slightly, Dan read what turned out to be a note, written in block letters.

 

“A severed finger points the way…

To what you ask, and this I’ll say.

 A buried sin and no confession…

 Leaves the sinner sans transgression.”

 

Several seconds of silence ensued as the officers digested the poem. Finally, Ono voiced the first question. “What does THAT mean? Sand trans…”

 

Dan didn’t look up from the note as he responded. “Not sand – sans – it means without… Without transgression… without wrongdoing…”

 

Ben looked at the shorter Five-0 detective. “It was addressed to Five-0 – looks like this guy wants to play a game with us.”

 

“Hmmm, yeah,” Williams agreed absentmindedly as he moved back to his original kneeling position and began to study the finger again. What was it about this finger which gave him the sense he was on the verge of remembering something? ”Which case did this ring come from?”

 

Ono responded, “Man says it not his merchandise.”

 

“Interesting,” Dan mused. “Mr. Locke, can you please describe what happened this morning.”

 

“I already told the officers—”

 

“I know, but sometimes little details come to light when you go over it again,” he prompted in a tone that brooked no wimpy refusals.

 

The man took a deep breath and related he had come to work at the usual time, preparing to open the store at ten AM. He noticed the envelope addressed to Five-0 on the counter, but that in itself did not alarm him. He had not closed the previous evening – the manager did – so as always, he took a quick look over the cases to see what had been purchased the night before.

 

“That is always quicker than checking the receipts. I was horrified to – well – at first I didn’t realize it was a real finger. I thought it was a Halloween prank. I almost TOUCHED it,” he squealed, “then stopped when I saw the—the blood!”

 

“Yes. Now you say you did not touch it?”

 

“No!”

 

“And you didn’t move it—”

 

“Absolutely not!  As soon as I realized what it was I called the police!”

 

Ben bent over again and studied the ring with interest. “You think it’s real or a fake?”

 

“The finger?” Locke blinked.

 

“The ring,” Ben growled.

 

“I didn’t pull out my jeweler’s loop and study it!” The little man’s voice rose to an almost girlish crescendo.

 

Dan, keeping an even, but firm tenor to his own voice, asked with the air of a command, “Well can you bend down here and give us your professional opinion now? That is unless you don’t think you can tell.” He added the last phrase hoping that the man’s sense of pride would override his queasiness with the circumstance.

 

The tactic worked as the jewelry straightened and his face flushed. “I may not even need a loop!” He snapped as he bent over next to Five-0’s second-in-command, who gently tugged the velvet around. The action dragged the entire selection of bracelets along with the finger several inches closer to the man’s face. With a distasteful expression, Locke drew to within inches of the ring for several seconds. Without warning, he jerked away, pulled a jeweler’s loop from his pocket, and immediately stuck his head back into the case with the magnifier applied to his eye. After few more seconds of twisted-face analysis, the man quickly pulled away and stood. Dan followed suit, and with a brief anticipatory glance in Kokua’s direction, he re-focused on the jeweler, who wiped the beads of perspiration from his brow and then began to clean the lens of his loop with the same handkerchief.

 

“Well, Mr. Locke?” Dan pressed.

 

“The stone is a lovely quality aquamarine – with the setting, it’s worth approximately two thousand dollars,” the man announced with a defiant glance at the young detective in charge of the scene.

 

“Thank you.”  Williams nodded for Ono to take him away as he bent down beside the finger again, studying the still-handkerchiefed note in his hand as he stooped. His eyes slipped back to the finger, where they rested as he wondered what about the disembodied member gave him this sensation. With the blood gone, it was hard to tell its owner’s race. Clearly, the finger was from a petite female, but there was not enough there for Dan to be certain that it belonged to anyone he might know. The nail polish… well, as much as he might try to be attentive to such details while out on a date, he couldn’t honestly say that he could recall a specific color of polish. Women had just too many concurrent shades of gray (or pink) for a guy to be able to discern between them easily. No… not the nails… Then what?

 

“Danny!” Ben’s call startled Five-0’s second-in-command, and he snapped his head up to look into his colleague’s eyes.

 

A hint of amusement, unclear to Dan, flickered across the Samoan detective’s expression as he explained the reason for his behest. “I said we’ve got another one, bruddah!”

 

Williams blinked. “Another…” The implication suddenly struck him, and he rose quickly, eyes growing wide. “Where?”

 

Ted pointed out the doorway. “Call just came in -- Tom’s Sandals – on the Kuhio side of the Marketplace!”

 

With a brief visual exchange, the two Five-0 men trotted out the door, leaving instructions to the patrolmen to stay until the lab techs did their work.

 

NNN

 

Tom’s Sandals was at the back of International Marketplace on the less traveled, but still busy, Kuhio Street. The discount rate hotels advertising their location as “just down from the beach” were on this street along with the lower rent businesses and tourist support places like rental car agencies and cheap eateries. Since Tom’s was not right on the beach, he attracted business by keeping his windows plastered with splashy signs declaring SALES and DISCOUNTS.

 

When Williams and Kokua entered the narrow shop, Dan noted and considered that perhaps sandals were not such a hot commodity since Tom had branched out to include a wide variety of sneakers and slippers. He gave the briefest of nods to the very young patrolman who’d been the first on the scene. The officer’s relieved reaction alerted the thin, slightly-hunched, balding man to their presence. He began his verbal attack almost instantly.

 

“Hey, you guys got to do something with the riff raff in this town!” He nearly shouted. “You gotta catch whoever did this!  Just scared ten years out of a gramma and her granddaughter from Nebraska or somewhere cold like that!  They’re gonna tell their whole tour group now and then where will I be? You cops–”

 

“All right,” Kokua barked loud enough for the stern command to echo. “We get the picture. Tell us what happened.”

 

The man launched into the colorful and long story of the woman and girl wanting to buy the matching sandals they’d seen on display as they entered. As the older lady picked up the sample, five toes fell onto the floor!  Dan studied the scene in question. Overturned shoeboxes, display shoes and chairs sideways on the floor indicated the chaos resulting from the macabre discovery. Remarkably, the toes – small and at first looking like pebbles – were visible on the tile, apparently undamaged (as undamaged as toes could be considered when not attached to a living creature) by the trampling stampede to flee the store.

 

Ben asked, “So where the lady go?”

 

“Running back to her hotel I guess,” snapped the little man. “Gonna tell everybody in the tour group!  I am outta business thanks to some wise acre!”

 

Dan shared a disgruntled look of irritation with Ben. They would have to track down the other witnesses somewhere in the ocean of hotels in Waikiki.

 

“You let her get away?” Ben accused.

 

“Like I could stop her?”

 

The tall Samoan turned to the HPD officer and commanded, “Get descriptions – anything you can get on them – from… from Tom here. I’ll call for a lab team.”

 

The young man nodded, but volunteered, “I already called it in, sir.”

 

Ben gave a pat of approval on the officer’s shoulder before he turned to see Williams standing near the cluster of toes, but looking higher at the nearest display stand. He didn’t need to ask why as he moved closer to his friend – neatly propped in front of a flower-adorned flip flop, was an envelope addressed to Hawaii Five-0.

 

Using the same technique he’d used only minutes earlier, Dan slid the piece of notebook paper from the envelope and read the note out loud. “Now who on earth will take the heat… when the cops are handed these toes with no feet?”

 

Both detectives stared at the words for several seconds before looking at each other. Grimacing, Dan finally spoke. “It may be a prank, but it’s felonious one.”

 

Ben nodded and opened his mouth to agree before his expression soured further and he headed towards the door. “Hey! Out!”

 

Williams turned to see the two people he recognized as reporters squeezing together into the shop.

 

Not willing to back down so easily, the attractive, blonde woman stood her ground. “Ah-ha! The Five-0 boys are here – that means that there IS something to the bizarre poems we received in this morning!”

 

Williams groaned internally – this psycho had involved the press. Now it was personal!

 

“There’s no trouble here!” Tom announced with a cheerful nervousness. “The police wear sandals too you know!”

 

Both detectives moved to intercept the woman and her photographer as Dan addressed the issue. “Karen, there may or may not be a story here, but for now, we’re in the asking questions – not answering questions – phase.”

 

“C’mon, Danny! How ‘bout a scoop? Just a tiny one!” The woman persisted seductively as the bearded man with the camera snapped a picture of the cool detectives.

 

Williams sighed and glanced at the woman’s pleading expression. He wished she weren’t in the enemy camp as he shook his head regretfully. “Sorry – no comment at this time.”

 

Ben and Dan continued to deny the pleas as they physically pushed the media people out of the store, and closed the door.

 

“Now what?” Kokua asked as he leaned against the doorframe.

 

“We’d better give Steve the heads up about the press – he hates surprises,” Williams responded as he looked back towards the distraught store owner and interrupted his own train of thought with a harsh command. “Hey! Watch where you’re stepping!”

 

The slight man looked down and quickly veered away from the pink-polished toes sprinkled like ice cream toppings on the floor. With a shudder of disgust, the shop owner skirted the scene, and vanished into the back room. Dan kneeled and then gingerly leaned his head down to where it nearly touched the floor as he drew near to the largest of the digits. From a sideways perspective, he studied the toe. It seemed likely that it came from the same victim as the finger. What was it about these parts that rang a bell in his head? The detective spent a few more seconds in his awkward position before the pressure on the healing wound on the top of his head forced him to give up his horizontal analysis and slowly come to his feet.

 

As he became upright, he clutched Ben’s arm as a wave of dizziness washed over him. With passing annoyance, he knew he should’ve probably given his head a couple more days to heal.

 

“You all right, bruddah?” The taller detective grabbed his friend’s arm and helped to stabilize him.

 

“Yeah,” Williams quickly assured, but he maintained a grip on his colleague until he re-established his equilibrium. Doing his best to subjugate his physical disease, his thoughts returned to the fact that something about the body parts almost summoned a memory… a realization.   

 

“What is it?” Ben’s brow furled slightly as he slipped his notebook back into his jacket with his free hand.

 

The shorter man gave a ginger shake of his head. “I… I don’t know. There’s something… familiar…”

 

“It’s not an old girlfriend...” The Samoan officer wondered as his face pinched with the suggestion.

 

Dan’s countenance matched his friend’s. “I hope not!”

 

NNN

 

Rushing through the door of the lab, McGarrett was not sure what he expected when he came down to meet his second-in-command. From his sense of relief at seeing Williams, he realized he had been expecting – what? – some further misadventure with the officer? It clued him in that his defensiveness over Danno’s head injury earlier in the week – the reckless car chase this morning – was pressing at the back of his thoughts this morning.

 

The return from a routine investigation was now a source of release from anxiety. The calm was tempered, however, but the strained expression, the crinkled tension around  the eyes of the sandy haired detective. Rubbing his temple when McGarrett arrived, the younger officer glanced up from his observance of Che Fong’s work.

 

“Steve, Che is just about done with the note.”

 

McGarrett joined Williams to stand behind the lab chief. Refraining from giving in to his urge to ask how Danno was feeling, he accepted his observations in that department as sufficient. The detective was pale and worn from a day of too much activity too soon, but was insisting on staying on the job. It had definitely been a mistake to send him out on this case, McGarrett recognized now.

 

It had been meant as a mild punishment to the impulsive younger officer, who had so recklessly endangered his life and health this morning. A penalty inflicted by an angry, quick-to-burn boss who lashed out at his protégé for showing too much dedication. Shaking off his distraction the head of Five-0 turned to the facts of the case without missing a beat.

 

“I checked with missing persons,” McGarrett reported as he watched Che dust the note for prints. “No haole females reported missing this week. Chin’s still checking the morgue and hospitals for Jane Does who are missing fingers or toes, but so far, he’s got nothing.”

 

Williams sighed tightly. “I’m not surprised. I’m betting this guy’s got the whole body somewhere. This is more than just a prank.”

 

Veering his mental focus away from his friend’s health, McGarrett was intrigued at the comment. “You sound certain.”

 

“I am,” Dan nodded. “I’m not sure why – maybe it’s the notes. Whatever the reason, that’s what my instincts are telling me.”

 

McGarrett tilted his head as he scrutinized his colleague. Yes, that’s what HIS instincts were telling him, too. “Okay. I agree. We’re dealing with a twisted murderer who’s demanding our attention by means of a nasty trick-or-treat message.”

 

Che broke in, “No fingerprints or any distinguishing evidence on the notes.”  He held up two protective bags enclosing the notes. “Whoever he is, he’s good.”

 

“He’s not good – he was careful twice,” Williams returned distantly.

 

A thin smile slipped onto McGarrett’s face and his hand came to rest on his second’s back. “And we’ll keep searching for the time he’s not.”

 

Dan acknowledged his boss’s sentiment with a slight nod before he returned to the moment. “I’m gonna head over to the morgue. There’s something bugging me about the victim’s remains.”

 

“Danno, why don’t you knock off for the evening – you’d do better to go sniffing around Bergman’s turf with a little sleep under your belt.”

 

Williams started slightly, and then met his mentor’s eye with focused concentration. McGarrett tensed slightly in wait of a reason for his second’s reaction. Moments later, Dan glanced downward before he looked up again, surprise registering in his expression. “That’s EXACTLY what I need to do! Thanks, Steve!”

 

The younger detective turned and trotted out the door without any further explanation.

 

Che Fong shook his head slightly. “I never saw Danny so excited about getting some sleep.”

 

As he turned to leave, McGarrett countered, “I suspect SLEEP wasn’t the operative word, Che.”

 

NNN

 

Williams brushed through the anteroom of the morgue office space, and almost skidded to a halt at the ME’s office door. Stepping in, he was taken back to see the office was already crowded. Bergman, Dora, and Dr. Trent Overton were gathered around the desk in a very social atmosphere. Wondering in passing what the Chief of Cardiology was doing here, he was more impressed with the delicious fare on the desk. The papers and reports usually stacked among the general organized clutter, were covered with a table cloth of a bright blue plaid. The medics were eating what looked and smelled like macaroni salad, barbeque chicken, mixed vegetable sticks and a fruit salad. He bet it was all homemade, too, he thought, mouth watering. Long ago, he had lost his queasiness over people eating at the morgue. Bergman and his attendants had no trouble munching on food even in the locker and autopsy area, though Dan had never managed that level of comfort around corpses.

 

Eating in the adjacent office, though, was not a problem. It sure looked and smelled better than the cold-sandwich/take-out-Chinese that was the standard menu of Five-0. The spread was proof positive that a woman’s touch given free reign and more money than detectives’ salaries could routinely cough up for meals were substantiated in the big and little things in life.

 

Recovering quickly, the officer grinned. “A gourmet dinner in the morgue – how unique!”

 

Bergman gave a humorless chuckle as he wiped his hands with a napkin. “Danny Williams – one of the two walking examples of why I should’ve never signed on as the Five-0 physician!  You’re barely twenty four hours out of the hospital with a head injury, and you get yourself wracked up in a car accident this morning!  Did you think I wouldn’t hear the details from the coconut wireless? It was all over the hospital before it was time for a morning coffee break!”

 

Unsurprised at the chastisement, Dan opened his mouth to offer his wrong-place-wrong-time defense, but Dora came to his rescue and took him by the arm. “Niles, have pity on the poor boy, he doesn’t have his color back yet.”  As if she was in her own office examining him as a patient, she gently pushed the detective into a chair, and gingerly probed through the new growth of curls surrounding the naked-stitched area on the top of his head. “It’s still swollen, Danny.”

 

Williams grimaced slightly, but was not given an entrée to speak.

 

“Oh, don’t coddle him, Dora,” the medical examiner groaned.

 

Pointedly ignoring her spouse, she moved to the filing cabinet, produced a new set of paper plates and accessories, then sat on the arm of her husband’s chair. “Danny, join us for a picnic dinner – I brought it here because Niles won’t come home until he’s finished with one last autopsy this evening.” With a slight wink at Williams, she added, “You remember our conversation about workaholic doctors and detectives?”

 

Dan took in a breath to respond but Dora cut in, mild alarm suddenly registering in her expression. “You DO remember our conversation, don’t you, sweetie?”

 

For the first time since he’d entered the office, the detective was given the opportunity to respond. He offered a reassuring smile to the nurse. “Of course I remember our conversation, Dora – why wouldn’t I remember it?”

 

Niles and Dora exchanged a silent communication before the doctor replied. “That’s the kind of comment that makes me regret discharging you, Detective. Do you ALSO remember being admitted to the hospital that evening with a concussion and low a quart or two of blood?”

 

Dan shrugged. “Not specifically, Doc, but something has come back to me about that evening – I need to see the remains of my trick-or-treat victim.”

 

“Ah, the other source of gossip for today’s coconut wireless,” Bergman sighed.

 

Trent Overton swallowed whatever morsel of food had been in his mouth as he looked towards the detective with a confused frown. “I’m sorry, Danny – trick-or-treat victim? Is that the police handle for the body parts they’re talking about on the television?”

 

Williams nodded and repeated the reason for his visit. “Yes – I need to take another look at the remains.”

 

The cardiologist flinched. “Pretty gruesome Halloween prank, but still a joke I would think, nonetheless. I can’t believe Five-0 is even paying attention to it.”

 

“Five-0 is not considering it a joke, Doctor Overton,” Dan leveled a serious gaze at the man.

 

It was Bergman’s turn to frown as he rose from his chair. “Wait a minute – WHAT do the body parts found today have to do with what happened to you the night of the dance?”

 

“I’ll tell you in a minute,” Dan rose and stepped from the office. The others followed him down the hall and around the corner to the morgue proper, where the remains of deceased persons were kept refrigerated.

 

The medical examiner pointed. “Drawer six.”

 

Williams tugged the stainless-steel handle on the drawer, which promptly slid open to reveal a nine-inch by thirteen-inch tray. Dan stopped the drawer from sliding out to its full human being length and put his face down to within inches of the now-familiar human parts.

 

“My God!” Overton turned away instantly and took a few paces before he turned to watch the scene over his shoulder.

 

The detective ignored the reaction and continued his up-close examination of the remains, but the Bergmans blinked in surprise and exchanged glances before their focus turned in tandem to the cardiologist – a surgeon who routinely sliced into human viscera for a living.

 

“Gee, Trent, if I’d known you never saw a body part before I would’ve left you in with the picnic!” The medical examiner announced dramatically. Dora tensed visibly at the tease directed at her boss, and squeezed her husband’s arm.

 

Overton made no attempt to disguise the distaste emblazoned on his pale face. “Sorry… I think you’re a bit jaded, Niles. Precise incisions affected to save a human life hardly compares to body parts brutally severed from their mistress. I don’t know how you deal with it day in and day out!”

 

“I help the dead tell their side of the story – a pretty satisfying job actually, Trent.”

 

“And nobody does it better than my Niles,” Dora boasted as she turned her attention back to Williams, who stood upright with electric spontaneity.

 

“It’s the perfume – I know this smell – it was in the trunk of the car that night!”

 

As Dora stepped closer and leaned in to sniff the body parts on the tray, Niles shook his head slightly. “Danny, a lot of people wear the same perfume.”

 

“Not this one!” The nurse announced, her expression confident. The three men looked at her as she continued. “This is Burning Ember – a hundred and fifty dollars an ounce!”

 

“How do you know that?” The medical examiner’s eyes narrowed slightly.

 

“Most women will recognize a famous fragrance – even if her spouse doesn’t approve of – or appreciate – the purchase.” Her own eyes accused her husband.

 

A smile flickered across Dan’s lips before he turned looked over his shoulder to address the surgeon. “Doctor Overton, I don’t suppose your wife wears Burning Ember?”

 

The physician, still looking a little pale, edged closer and, with the briefest of glances at the digits on the tray, looked at the detective. “As a matter of fact, she does – I bought it for her as a birthday gift a few months ago.”

 

Williams looked away briefly, a little disheartened. “What a coincidence – I get stuffed into a trunk which smells like the same rare cologne of a murder victim.”

 

“Yes… I… I guess it is a bit of a coincidence,” Overton offered as he nodded uncertainly in the direction of the body parts. “Perhaps the scent on this poor creature is a copy – I know many companies attempt to duplicate expensive perfumes.”

 

Dora leaned in and inhaled again before she looked back at the detective. “It’s hard to be one hundred percent certain through the slight aura of decomposition, but my nose smells the real deal.”

 

Dan offered an unconvincing smile. “I guess it doesn’t really matter since Alice wears it.”

 

Overton, finally getting over his queasiness, broke into a hesitant grin. “On a first name basis with my wife, Danny?”

 

“I danced with her twice,” Williams explained with a lop-sided grin. He let out a single, un-amused laugh. “Now that I think of it, it was probably me that was wearing the Burning Ember in the trunk.”

 

The others chuckled with the detective’s self-deprecating admission. Dora gave Dan’s arm an affectionate bump. “It’s good that you remembered the scent – is anything else about your attack coming back to you?”

 

The detective canted his head slightly and spoke slowly. “Yeaaahh – some stuff… and there’s still something smell-wise nagging me at the moment.”

 

“Don’t worry too much – a lot of times, people remember things as the swelling dies down.” The nurse spoke with the authority of many years experience under her belt. Dan turned a fleeting look of gratitude towards the little woman, but the medical examiner headed off further reaction.

 

“Any new leads?” Bergman queried with interest. “Probably not much chance of that. A mugging is difficult to track.”

 

It was a statement, not a question, but Williams felt compelled to respond anyway. “We’re working on it.”

 

“Following all leads, knocking on doors, the usual routine. Danny, I expect better of you. Let’s not look too much like Lestrade.”

 

“Who?”

 

“The hapless Scotland Yarder who was never as clever as Sherlock Holmes.”

 

“It’s not technically my case, Doc – I’m the victim. This is an HPD matter.”

 

“Ha! Some people might swallow that story, Detective, but I know your boss too well!”

 

Refraining from rubbing the headache that was back full force, he gave them all a tight smile. There was no way to win when debating, arguing or even questioning the Bergmans. They seemed to know everything (annoyingly they were almost always right – like Steve ), had done about everything and been everywhere. Besides, Dan had the sneaking suspicion that his boss could well be checking up – seriously checking up – on HPD’s progress. Williams’ best defense was to surrender and change the subject.

 

“What else can you tell me about the victim, Doc?”

 

“The lab report confirmed what I thought when I first examined the them – all severed post mortem. No embalming.” Bergman stopped speaking to let this significant fact sink in to his audience.

 

“Do you suspect murder?" Trent offered, his expression still holding an air of mild distaste. "This could be a case of some prankster getting a hold of a few body parts before embalming could occur.”

 

“It’s my job to suspect murder,” Dan responded distractedly as he maintained a focus on the medical examiner.

 

And my job to provide evidence to support or refute said suspicion,” Bergman chimed in before he continued his report. “These digits were severed with little skill and a crude instrument. Could be as common as a kitchen steak knife. Difficult to say how long the victim has been dead, but not very long. If I’m looking strictly at decomposition, then I’d put time of death within the week. All digits showed signs of being buried. I’ve sent the soil samples to Che.”

 

“Buried – hmmm. People generally don’t bury bodies who’ve died of natural causes,” Williams mused.

 

“No, they don’t,” Bergman agreed, and then added. “Danny, you look done in – you need to call it a day.”

 

With a sigh of resignation and a nod, he un-necessarily requested that the medical examiner notify him of any new discoveries, and then, declining Dora’s repeat invitation to join them for dinner, made his way towards the door.

 

“Go home and get some rest!” The medical examiner commanded again.

 

Williams continued moving toward the door as he called over his shoulder. “Ten-four, Doc.”

 

Overton watched the detective until he vanished out the door before he turned his focus back on the physician, who was sliding the tray back into its refrigerator home. Niles, I don’t know how it escaped me that you are actually the official physician for Five-0. I always wondered why you sometimes sound like a gum shoe straight out of one of those hard-boiled detective rags.

 

“Can’t help but follow the crime scene in my line of work,” the ME shrugged. With a twinkle in his eye, he looked at his wife. “We fancy ourselves the amateur sleuths. Comes with the territory.”

 

The cardiologist pursed his lips and frowned slightly. “So Danny, even in his great misfortune to have walked in on the theft of my Caddie, also had the good luck to have his own physician standing by to treat him for his minor injuries.”

 

Trent, his injuries were hardly minor,” Dora spoke up. “The horrible thug who did it almost killed him!”

 

Overton’s eyes grew large and he held up his hands. “Oh I did not mean to play down the seriousness of the crime – I just recall hearing that he walked back into the garage.”

 

The medical examiner growled as he held the door open for his wife and visitor, “Five-0 detectives have a strange way of being able to continue walking when they should be incapacitated.”

 

NNN

 

Feeling like he was drowning in back-logged paperwork, McGarrett brightened momentarily when he saw Lukela enter the office. The expression on the Hawaiian officer’s face was unreadable, as it often was, and the terse tone of matter-of-fact reporting did not add any encouragement to the proceedings.

 

“I don’t have much for you, Steve, sorry. Mostly negatives. The week before Danny’s kidnapping, as you know, there were three car thefts in that general area. None at the Hilton. No muggings there at all for about two weeks. Completely different MO there, by the way, an elderly couple from San Diego. That perp was arrested later in the evening, actually, and is still in jail.”

 

McGarrett leaned over and scanned the report sheets the sergeant had spread out on the desk. Muggings in Waikiki were down. Car rings out for parts – were targeting mostly rental cars in Waikiki, with resident cars the target primarily outside of Honolulu’s tourist center. Stolen cars did not generate much of a market as whole merchandise in Hawaii, since it was much simpler and more lucrative to sell pieces rather than easily identifiable vehicles. The comparison made him grimace as he thought of their body parts case, then continued to skim the pages as Duke explained further.

 

Waikiki nights usually have some pickpockets, some purse snatchings, a few rough ups after hours at the side street bars. Two MOs for car heists in hotel garages, but neither are like Danny’s attack. No violence.”

 

“More evidence to support the theory that Danno surprised a car thief.”

 

“Yeah,” Duke agreed, and then added, “Under the circumstances, isn’t that probably the best thing that could’ve happened? I mean, it implies that the guy wasn’t gunning for Danny specifically.”

 

McGarrett rubbed the back of his neck and admitted, “Yeah, Duke. If I had to choose between Danno having bad luck and Danno being a target, I’d take the bad luck every time. Mahalo for the follow up.”

 

NNN

 

While McGarrett did not approve of the method, nor the mayhem on State property, the circumstances of Williams without a vehicle lent a satisfying, if severe, element of control over the younger officer. More able to dictate the terms of his protégé’s work hours, the boss drove Williams home the night before and provided a pick-up the next morning.

 

Danno seemed in better color, more rested, and none-the-worse for wear from yesterday morning’s wild chase. By the time they reached the office, McGarrett was more apt to consider his friend was healing well and up to handling an average day at work – as long as that did not include reckless chases or deadly fights with criminals.

 

The morning staff meeting blended into phone calls to check on lab results, a brief meeting with Duke Lukela over an HPD overnight matter, and a call back to Manicote. Strolling into the outer office just before ten AM, McGarrett felt a glow of positive optimism. Things were going so much better this morning, he assessed, as he glanced into Danno’s cubicle and saw the younger detective on the phone. When Ben approached him with an air of disturbance, he knew things were about to change.

 

“Trouble?”

 

Ben waved a memo in his hand. “I just got off the phone with Officer Ono. We have another body part!”

 

Just finished with his call, Williams slammed down the phone. “What?”

 

McGarrett shook his head. “Where?”

 

“The record store at Ala Moana Mall.”

 

McGarrett muttered, “Let me guess – an ear?”

 

Kokua’s eyebrows shot up for a moment, impressed with his boss’s deduction. “Yeah, Steve.”

 

The lead detective gestured to Williams and took the note from the Samoan detective. “Come on, gentlemen, let’s hear what our killer has to say at the record store.”

 

Silence predominated during the drive to the sprawling shopping center near the beach. As McGarrett steered around slower vehicles, and raced through two yellow lights, Williams finally took his attention from the speedy trek to glance at his boss.

 

“What’s bugging you, Steve?”

 

“The MO.”

 

“Another body part? Or the location?”

 

“Both. This guy definitely has a sick sense of humor. A finger in a ring case, toes in a shoe store, and now an ear in a record store. He could get our attention without taking the risks he’s taking to deliver these body parts. I’m wondering whether he’s trying to give us more than one clue.”

 

“And WHY these specific parts?”

 

McGarrett smirked. “ONE reason has to be convenience. Toting around a leg or arm in Waikiki would be noticed.”

 

The mall parking lot was already filling, early shoppers descending to be at their favorite stores when the doors opened. Screeching to a stop at the red curb next to two HPD units. McGarrett and Williams hopped out and hurried through the center courtyard to the nearby record store close to the escalators.

 

Having never come to this shop – McGarrett preferred to buy his records at a small establishment on Fort Street Mall near the office, or at Kahala Mall where he bought his suits – it was a jarring culture shock to walk in the front doors. Apparently, the manager had set in motion his opening routine before the discovery of the body part. Reeking incense was burning and Steve’s nose twitched at the strong odor wafting from the back of the shop. Williams sneezed. At that point, Ben arrived, coughing and grimacing at the smell.

 

Blaring, nerve-screeching noise with scratchy electric guitars assaulted them from speakers on all sides. Above the record bins, psychedelic posters plastered the walls; some glowing from florescent black lights, some declaring rude slogans against the Vietnam war, some insulting the police. Tie-dyed shirts draped over the counters, along with beads and peace symbol necklaces, gave the store a tilt toward a thrift shop ambiance.

 

Joining Officers Ono and Nuuanu at the counter, Steve was introduced to the clerk behind the desk. The young man stared at him with undisguised insolence. Brown hair frizzed into a bushy mop, it was barely held in check by a leather strap around his forehead. A beard and mustache obscured much of his face, while orange-tinted glasses covering his eyes. Despite all the camouflage, McGarrett felt the disdain emanating from the youth in the multi-colored tie-dyed shirt, jeans and sandals. The slouching posture, the feet on the desk, the glare instead of a civil greeting, forewarned the head of Five-0 that they had just entered enemy territory.

 

Foregoing the standard social amenities, Nuuanu immediately jumped into an explanation. “Kamana here found the letter and ear this morning when he opened.”  The patrolman pointed to the register area. A familiar envelope and the appendage in question were sitting atop the cash drawer.

 

“You touched the evidence?” McGarrett accused sharply to the young man.

 

“A real trip, ya know?” he smiled at the officers, thrilled at their dismay. “An ear!  And a note for you pigs, too. Some guy’s really yanking your chain, huh? More power to him,” he nearly shouted, to be sure his message was emphasized. Outside, curious onlookers, and obvious patrons of the music store, gathered, some waving, some pointing at the officers. Kamana smiled and waved back, delighted to be the center of attention and controversy.

 

Feeling Williams bristle beside him, McGarrett placed a cautionary hand on his colleague’s shoulder. “Danno, why don’t you take care of the music so we can properly question Mr. Kamana.

 

“My pleasure,” the officer twitched a smile. Stepping over to the record player on the counter, he snapped off the power and the needle ground to an abrupt stop on the vinyl record.

 

The blessed silence was almost painful; McGarrett’s ears rang in residual ache from the slow-to-die throb from the din.

 

Kamana launched to his feet in confrontation. “Hey!  That’s my original Iron Butterfly album—”

 

“Sit down, sonny,” McGarrett pushed the young man back in the chair. “Or I might get the idea you were acting in an aggressive manner toward the police. We can already cite you for tampering with evidence in a murder investigation—”

 

“Hey—”

 

“And I bet you don’t want us to start investigating exactly what else you burn in this store, right?” Ono suggested sharply.

 

“No,” Kamana admitted between grinding teeth. “But don’t try any more police brutality!  You just try to get rough with me Big Pig and – and – I have witnesses!” he flung an arm toward the spectators gawking from the other side of the glass doors.

 

Fists clenching with irritation, McGarrett noted from the corner of his eye that Williams stepped toward the manager. He maneuvered in front of his reactionary detective to act as a subtle barrier between Williams and this low-life. “In a few minutes, we’ll let you bask in your temporary fame with your little crowd of fans out there. Now let’s get this over with for both our sakes,” McGarrett brusquely focused back on track. Noting the lab crew making their way through the gathering crowd, and additional officers taking care of the onlookers, he demanded the man give them a run down of the discovery. “Tell us what happened this morning.”

 

As with the previous crimes scenes, the discovery was made upon opening the shop. Nothing seemed out of place or missing. In this case, unfortunately, Kamana had read the letter and admitted, with some pride, that he had played with the ear to see if it was real.

 

While the techs dusted for prints and Kamana complained about them messing up the merchandise, McGarrett and Williams moved in for a closer look at the latest body part. At a guess, Williams commented, the pale, delicate ear, matched the skin tone of the toes and the finger. Again, it seemed like a crude job of surgery.

 

After studying the ear, McGarrett read the opened note aloud.

 

“Her scream was heard aloud,

the cops should not be proud,

silenced, the woman’s fear,

McGarrett, lend me an ear.”

 

Shaking his head in disgust, McGarrett wondered, “What do you think, Danno?”

 

“Besides bad poetry?”  Williams sniffed the appendage. His expression quizzical. “Burning Ember.”

 

McGarrett warily drew close to the body part and gave a cautionary inhale. Aside from the cloying cloud of musky incense, there were distinctive scents from the ear. Nodding, he assessed the putrid odor of decay, the stifling, mustiness of soil, and the scent of the pricey perfume. “Incredible coincidence that our victim here was wearing the same scent you were wearing second-hand when you were assaulted.”

 

An annoyed glance at his boss preceded Williams’ reluctant agreement. “Yeah.”

 

McGarrett considered. “I’m betting there are only a few stores in the city who sell this stuff.”

 

A satisfied smile vanquished Dan’s sour expression. “You’re right, Steve – just before we got this call, I was looking into it. I’ve already learned that there are about a dozen shops in Honolulu that carry it. I’ve got a list of places to check out.”

 

 “Good work, Danno,” McGarrett nodded with satisfaction. “Hopefully one of the clerks will remember a petite woman with very pink nail polish buying it.” 

 

“It’s a real long shot, Steve. You know most women don’t buy the expensive stuff for themselves.”

 

“No,” he sighed. “But a list of buyers might help us all the same. Instead of leading us to the victim, it could lead us to the killer.”  He shook his head, still studying the ear. “If it was a little closer to Christmas I would expect the remains to show up in a cardboard box. Halloween, though, it’s got me stumped.”

 

Scrutinizing the older detective, Dan did not miss the slightly crinkled lines around the twinkling eyes. He winced at the dark pun and shook his head. “Ouch, Steve,” he groaned.

 

“Sorry, couldn’t resist.”

 

“What do you mean about the cardboard box?”

 

“Sherlock Holmes. A Christmas story where the jealous husband killed his wife and her lover, then put an ear in a cardboard box and sent it to the wife’s sister. Not as complex as it sounds.”

 

“That’s the SECOND reference to Sherlock Holmes I’ve heard in the past twenty four hours. Doc said something last night about Scotland Yard and now you.”  The younger detective’s eyes narrowed marginally as he watched his boss for signs of a reaction. “AND he suspected you were probably conducting a secret investigation into my -- I might as well say it – mugging.”

 

The reaction was there – perhaps visible to nobody else on the planet – but Five-0’s second-in-command saw it even as McGarrett discharged the notion.

 

A glance in the direction of the friend who knew him too well told Steve that his denial would go un-believed. Still, he put forward a short dismissal. “I’ll state for the record one final time that the incident is HPD’s case.”

 

With a crooked smile, Dan maintained a level gaze at his boss. “Okay.”

 

NNN

 

“A fool… I was a fool…” Heaving sobs made the words difficult to understand.

 

“Yes, you WERE… and you ARE. There’s nothing to be done about that, but it’s clear that we’re going to have to take drastic measures to hide your weakness and STUPIDITY!”

 

“What… what can we do?”

 

“Bury the problem… or at least make sure the problem gets buried.”

 

NNN

 

After putting in a full day in Cardiology, Dora arrived at the morgue to collect her husband. She was not surprised to find him hunched over the desk, in a good imitation of Sherlock Holmes, magnifying lens in hand, examining a photo.

 

“What are you doing?” she wondered as she joined him behind the desk.

 

“Pictures of the trick-or-treat evidence. This is the ring that was on the finger when they found it. Doesn’t it look familiar?”

 

“Yes - it’s - oh - I’ve seen it before, I know it.”  They exchanged looks and she laughed. “It’s rotten to get old, isn’t it, dear?”

 

“They say the mind is the first to go, but not yours, sweetheart. You’ll come up with it eventually.”

 

“It’s the eventually I’m worried about.”

 

His intent study continued as he asked distractedly, “How are things in Cardiology?”

 

"Doctor Overton hurt his hand gardening so that new Doctor Kumar had to assist. She's is really a wonderful person, and good in the OR. She’s the one I wanted Steve to meet at the dance. The next time you see him, remind him to give her a call."

 

Niles tsked, "Leave me out of your matchmaking schemes, Dora!"

 

"But this could be the one for Steve!"

 

“I will not help you ensnare hapless bachelors who fall into your line of sight!”

 

“Are you happier married, darling?” Dora turned candy sweet suddenly.

 

The medical examiner snapped his glasses from his nose and looked up at his wife. “Of course I’m happier! You domesticated me early in life – I don’t know anything else, but I’ve warned you before – It's not going to happen with Steve. Not every man can be conquered by the pretty face of one of your nurses!”

 

"Or doctors,” she sniffed defensively. “You never know."

 

"You only get away with this because of your grandmotherly wisdom and your natural charm, you know," he complained. “Steve won't go for it this time. Not with a Cardiologist who is as busy as he is!" 

 

Dora gasped. “Cardiologist!”  Her husband started at her. “Overton. Alice Overton wears a ring just like that!"

 

Both scrunched together to look through the lens. "Yes, you're right! But, does that mean anything?” He mumbled as he continued to study the photo.

 

"I don't know," she puzzled. "Alice wears it all the time. Or did. You know, she wasn’t wearing it at the party!  I remember she had on an emerald, which I thought was so strange because her birthstone is aquamarine – like this ring!”  She huffed out a derisive laugh. "She said the emerald matched her eyes, but you know she has hazel eyes not green."

 

"Mmm, not really," Niles muttered as he continued to study the photo.

 

"She does so have hazel eyes!"

 

"What? Oh, no, I mean about Alice wearing this ring all the time. You’re sure?”

 

“Believe me, Niles, I am not wrong about gems that cost thousands of dollars. Alice and I have had enough conversations about her jewelry. She loves to talk about it to anyone who’ll listen, you know that.” 

 

“You’re right.”

 

She double-checked the photo. "I can prove this is Alice's ring!" she nearly shouted in triumph. "The photo over their mantle, you can see Alice wearing this ring!  It was an anniversary present, remember?"

 

"No, but I'll take your word for it."

 

“We have to tell Steve.”

 

Bergman scoffed. “Tell him what? That Alice Overton has a ring that is SIMILAR to the ring they found on that finger?”

 

The petite woman stiffened and snapped her hands to her hips indignantly. “NOT similar – identical!”

 

A morgue attendant looked askance at the couple as he passed by the door, and they realized that their voices had grown to argument level. After allowing a few moments of silence to cool the sizzle in the air, both started to speak, and then stopped.

 

The doctor grabbed his wife’s hand, and addressed her in a deliberately hushed voice. “If you’re one hundred percent certain – just by looking at this tiny little picture – then we need to let Steve know.”

 

Slowly, Dora looked in the direction of the photo again before a pained expression overcame her. “Okay, I’m not ABSOLUTELY one hundred percent certain.”

 

The pair grew silent again for several seconds as each pondered the alternatives. Finally, the medical examiner wondered out loud, “If it IS Alice’s, then how did it find its way out of her jewelry box?”

 

“Maybe it was stolen. Maybe she doesn’t even know it’s missing yet.” Dora’s eyes grew large. “OR maybe she LOST it, but hasn’t told Trent!”

 

“Hmm, can you find a way to diplomatically bring up the subject with Alice? I’d hate like heck to be the cause of a problem.”

 

Dora looked up her husband as her eyes narrowed slightly. “I’ll think of something.”

 

NNN

 

“What I don’t get is why the protesters give us advanced details!” Duke Lukela scoffed as he sneered at the newspaper report in the afternoon paper. “They know we’ll be all over them like bad poi!”

 

Tiredly, McGarrett shook his head, irrelevantly linking the image of protesters with the hippy-reject record store manager. Hard to explain to a by-the-book officer like Lukela that some misguided radicals would do just about anything – even defile a sacred event like the Pearl Harbor attack anniversary commemoration – with their personal grievances. A purely selfish platform to exploit their own biased opinions, even at the damage to honorable men and women who had seen more horrors in a few hours on December Seventh than most people could imagine.

 

“They want to gather their cronies and mess with the military,” Williams complained around a yawn.

 

“Well, HPD and Five-0 will be there to stop them,” McGarrett assured with steel resolve, his gaze veering to study his second-in-command. Danno was wearing down, the usual duties weighing on the recovering officer. They’d have to call it quits soon. To the sergeant, he continued, “That’s why I want you on top of this, Duke. We’ve only got a few more weeks to nail down the security. The Navy will handle everything on the base, but we’re responsible for everything around it.”

 

“Still a lousy way to treat veterans,” Duke griped with a shake of his head.

 

Further comment was forestalled when the phone rang. McGarrett, pacing by the chalk board, was not inclined to respond. When he saw Williams leave the white chair he was sitting in and move toward the desk, the boss admonished, “Danno, let Jenny get this, I want to finish this briefing without interruption.”

The younger officer blinked, glancing quickly at Duke, then back to McGarrett. With a slight grin, he continued to move forward, his hand reaching for the phone. “Steve, Jenny left a while ago. It’s almost seven.”

 

Knowing the report must be correct, nonetheless, the chief turned to the digital clock, reading the numbers 6:42, as Williams spoke into the receiver.

 

“About time.” Then his entire expression changed to one of surprise. “Really.”  His demeanor altered – energized by the information – eyebrows raised into his scrunched brow as he reported to McGarrett. “They found Doctor Overton’s car, Steve. Wrecked on the Pali. And they have a dead body to go with it.”

 

“Let’s go,” McGarrett ordered, grabbing his jacket and shoulder holster and racing out the door, his officers at his heels.

 

NNN

 

On the far side of Pali tunnel HPD squad cars parked along the shoulder of the highway. Red flares burned incandescent red leading to the crime scene. Fortunately, it was after rush hour and peak tourist sightseeing, so the highway was relatively unclogged. As they pulled around the law enforcement vehicles, they curved down to the right. The angle opened up an incredible vista of the valley panorama nestling Kaneohe Bay. The evening sun careened an orange wash across the landscape, tinting the picturesque Waiahole Mountain with dusky ginger hues, coloring the ocean in shimmering gold, and the countryside in graduated amber.

 

Here on the Pali, the clouds were close, hugging the sharply defined, verdant cliffs in a cloaked haze. The sun already obscured by the hills and overcast mist, the roadside darkening to purple and gray. On the Honolulu side, they’d left the glittering russet of the dying sun, while on this side of the tunnel, they emerged to drizzly twilight.

 

McGarrett read the moment as a metaphor; the unsolved case and injury to Williams the dark past. Perhaps this moment was the turning point, the kahana,  the emergence; Williams’ recovery AND a break in the mysterious investigation.

 

Exiting the Mercury, they joined Lukela and other officers at the edge of the asphalt. Just below the highway, a late model Cadillac rested, imbedded in the thick trees of the ravine. HPD officers had jury-rigged a rope line tied from the bumper of a blue-and-white, trailing down to the wrecked car.

 

From this distance, the detectives easily spotted a body slumped against the steering wheel. The front end of the Cadillac was crunched, the right side smashed in, the trunk popped open from the violence of the crash.

 

Shivering slightly from the micro-droplets of cool rain lashing against him in the force of the merciless Pali winds, McGarrett asked for details from the first officers on scene. They reported that a motorist stopped in traffic this evening happened to notice taillights of the downed car.

 

The dead man carried with him no form of identification, but the car registration confirmed its ownership to Doctor Overton.

 

McGarrett seized onto the rope and climbed down, not surprised that Williams, and Lukela followed. Rain and mud plastered the car, evidence it had been here for a while. They knew the absolute time the vehicle was stolen, he considered as he studied the body. How long ago had the wreck happened? A gash at the side of the victim’s head gave a guess at the cause of death.

 

Williams glanced back up to the highway. “Raining, night, driving fast to get clear of the city in a stolen car, he could have taken that turn too sharp and slid right off the road.”

 

“Yeah, bad luck for him.”  He scrutinized his friend. “Could this be the guy that hit you?”

 

Williams stared at the deceased. “I – I don’t know, Steve. I can’t remember.”

 

“Okay,” McGarrett patted his shoulder. “Doesn’t matter if you saw him or not, Danno. The lab can tell us what we need to know.”

 

Shaking his head, the younger detective was not so optimistic. “It’s been through a lot of rain and wind, Steve. Che might not be able to tell us too much.”

 

Lukela swung his flashlight into the partially open trunk. “We’ve got a lady’s shawl back here with some stains on it,” he reported. As the detectives joined him, he inquired, “Is this the trunk you were in, Danny?”

 

Shrugging, Williams wiped the damp mist from his hair and face. “It must be.”

 

The tow truck arrived along with the lab crew and the night-shift Coroner assistants. McGarrett suggested they could follow up on this in the morning when they had more evidence collected and analyzed. Frustrated, Williams seemed reluctant to leave, and gingerly leaned his head partially into the trunk. With a glance at Lukela, the head of Five-0 gently tugged his second upright, and commanded that the evening was over. Agreeing, but still visibly perturbed, Williams scrambled up the slope.

 

NNN

 

Niles Bergman glanced at the clock on the wall as he noticed Dora’s face peeking through the window of the door to the autopsy room. He knew his petite bride had to be standing on her tip toes to have the view she currently held. As soon as the pair made eye contact, she cracked the door open and stuck her head in.

 

He looked back at the open chest cavity of his customer and greeted her with, “You’re way too early!”

 

“I’ve got news,” she responded neutrally, and then vanished behind the door.

 

The physician groaned in annoyance when she offered no clue as to what the news could be. He tugged his rubber gloves from his hands and dropped them into the galvanized-steel bucket near his feet as he snapped a tired command to his assistant. “Erol, start the mid-lines for me.”

 

The lanky man nodded and looked back to the table as he unrolled the pack of cutting instruments.

 

Dora was sitting on the naughahyde sofa in the autopsy anteroom when the medical examiner tiredly dropped next to her. “Okay, what has your investigation turned up, my dear?”

 

The nurse, eyes large, began speaking immediately. “I called Alice, and asked her in passing if she’d lost her aquamarine ring. Of course, she wanted to know why. Well, I told her that it was identical to the one that was found on the trick-or-treat finger – the one that’s all over the news, and she was completely taken aback, but then remembered suddenly that she left it in the glove box of Trent’s caddie – the one that was stolen. Now she says she can’t imagine how the ring on that finger could possibly be hers!”

 

Bergman watched her face without blinking until she came to the end of her rapid-fire story. “It’s a good thing you didn’t argue with her – you’d be fainted on the floor here from a lack of oxygen!”

 

Ignoring her husband’s tease, Dora continued with mild exasperation. “Niles, she was lying – I could feel it right through the phone line!”

 

“Let’s assume she’s NOT lying, darling. That would mean… that the one who stole Trent’s car out of the Hawaiian Village parking garage either had contact with or IS the trick-or-treat killer.” The couple shared several seconds of silence as they pondered the possibilities.

 

Finally, Dora looked at her spouse. “That’s the scenario if Alice is telling the truth. What if she’s lying?”

 

Bergman frowned for a few moments before he offered his explanation. “Then Alice Overton either had contact with or IS the trick-or-treat killer.” Dora grimaced and opened her mouth to retort, but Niles quickly continued. “Oh, did I mention that I have news as well?”

 

“What?”

 

“They recovered Trent’s caddie WITH a body behind the wheel.” The medical examiner lightly jerked his head towards the autopsy room. “The guy on my table this very minute.”

 

“Really? Who is he?” Dora glanced at the door, but quickly drew her attention back to the man sitting next to her.

 

“The police are running the prints, but I haven’t heard back yet. What you’ll find interesting is the fact that I’ve found bits of tissue which are consistent with the trick-or-treat victim under his fingernails.”

 

“So the man who stole Trent’s car – and assaulted Danny – IS the same man who probably murdered and dismembered that woman.” Her tone was unconvincing.

 

“It’s looking like a pretty strong possibility given what we currently know,” Bergman returned as he squeezed his wife’s knee and rose. “Now, I’ve got to get back to work.”

 

Dora held her husband’s hand to the door, and when he gave her a peck on the cheek, she looked up at him. “But WHY was Alice lying to me?”

 

“I’m sorry your boss’s wife is not an axe murderer, darling – maybe dinner out will cheer you up?”

 

She pushed him through the swinging doors. “Something is amiss, my dear Holmes – wait and see!”

 

NNN

 

Following the gathering of evidence at the crime scene, came the most tedious part of the investigation – waiting. The results of analysis from HPD records, Che Fong’s lab team, and Bergman’s pathology team, would not be in for hours. Crosschecking computer data bases, running scientific tests and processing facts and translating them into reports depended on a human work force and took time.

 

This was the span when McGarrett’s impatience peaked during a case and over many years had trained himself to concentrate on other tasks. All details on the Five-0 side of the inquiry covered, the officers turned to other pressing duties. Security for the Pearl Harbor events was still an issue; pre trial prep for two cases was not yet up to his exacting standards, and three active cases were still pending involving phone calls and research. The detectives worked to catch up with their work, but in the back of their minds percolated the current and more relevant mystery.

 

Jenny and the secretarial staff had left hours before. A dinner of deli sandwiches and chips was consumed and darkness descended by the time Sergeant Lukela arrived with the first break to the monotony.

 

“We’ve got an ID, Steve,” he announced as he entered the big office.

 

McGarrett and Williams, shirtsleeves rolled back, sitting in the matching white leather chairs both came to their feet. Kelly, and Kokua, slouched on the sofa, straightened.

 

“What have you go, Duke?” McGarrett crisply demanded, straightening his tie in anticipation for action.

 

“Man in the stolen car was Richard Gene Donaldson. Employed at Benson’s Cadillac Dealership.”  He handed over a slip of paper. “Here’s his address.”

 

“Let’s go,” McGarrett ordered, sweeping around his desk to grab his jacket and holster. By the time he spun around to jog out the door, his men in various stages of preparation donning jackets and ties, trailed behind.

 

NNN

 

The small, unassuming house was clearly not the residence of anyone who cared about appearances. The plants meant for the flowerbed had long ago lost their battle to the weedier flora, which had now taken over all but the thinnest path on the sidewalk to the front door as well. The state of the landscaping though was not the Five-0 detectives’ focus as McGarrett gave orders by hand signal to his men. Ben and Dan skirted the crab-grass-saturated lawn and disappeared around the side of the house through the car port.

 

With Chin on his heels, McGarrett jogged to the front door, where the men positioned themselves on either side of the screen door. They waited for a silent count of thirty before the lead detective announced the presence and intended entry of law enforcement personnel. The sound of the other two officers entering through the back door echoed into to the living room as the head of Five-0 quickly scanned for signs of resistance in the rooms only illuminated from the pallid glow of the streetlamps through the filthy windows. Within a minute, all four detectives convened in the front room to confirm their belief that the residence was vacant. Separating again, they all headed in different directions to begin a more thorough search, flipping on meager, dim, house lights as they progressed.

 

Steve stepped into the small, mildewy bathroom and tugged the shower curtain out of the bathtub. A dark pink stain ringed the tub and discolored much of the surface area below the ring. He was repelled, but not surprised. It made sense that the victim had been hacked into parts in a spot where the mess could be contained and the blood could drain harmlessly into the sewer system. With a final glance of disgust, he slipped back into the hallway.

 

The THUNK of the seal releasing its hold on the freezer door came as no surprise to Williams, who gasped as the human head tumbled from the freezer and landed with the sound of a bowling ball in its bag being dropped on the lane. The head, abundant with pixie-length black hair, rolled only a couple feet before it came to rest on the teal-and-white checked tile. Williams cried out and stumbled backwards, knocking the table behind him a kilter. Despite the fact that he knew they were coming to the home of a suspect in a brutal murder-dismemberment, he had not expected this!

 

In the space of a few seconds, the commotion brought the other three Five-0 detectives from other parts of the house. They all burst with cautious urgency into the kitchen and sized up the scene and their colleague. It was obvious that Dan had sustained a fright as he was still leaning against the table and did not look up from the floor.

 

Steve was the first to track his second’s line of sight to the object, which instantly evoked a sense of horror and revulsion. From the quiet, verbal expressions of distaste, it was apparent that Ben and Chin had followed suit.

 

The almost-serene expression gave the female head an artificial appearance and belied its ghastly circumstance. The half-open, dark eyes stared disinterestedly ahead, and were glazed over with a light coating of frost. The lower lip pouted slightly and would have allowed a straw to slip comfortably into the mouth. The poor creature’s dark locks had either been hair sprayed into their rigid positions or dampness of some sort had caused them to freeze into their wind-blown stances.

 

Williams swallowed and collected himself enough to offer an unnecessary explanation. “It… it fell from there.” His eyes tore from the floor and pointed towards the fridge.

 

Steve gingerly released a breath, harshly inhaled moments before, as he lightly squeezed his protégé’s shoulder and looked up at the kitchen appliance. Ben, treading lightly around the head, nudged the freezer door open as far as it would  go with the barrel of his drawn gun, which he’d un-holstered upon hearing Dan’s distressed cry. More noises of disgust narrated the scene as the Five-0 men surveyed several more body parts resting haphazardly amidst a dozen white-paper-wrapped packages.

 

Finally, the lead detective found his voice, and let his embedded self-discipline take over. “Chin, call Bergman’s office and get Che’s team in here.”

 

With a last distasteful glance in the direction of his boss, the Chinese detective nodded and re-sheathed his weapon as he left the room. Dan stepped away from the table and, with a long, calming sigh, began to look around the rest of the kitchen.

 

Steve and Ben exchanged a look silently confirming the gruesome nature of the discovery before Ben turned towards the fridge to more closely examine its contents and the lead detective took a step towards the sink. Beneath the clean plate and cup on the dish rack were a butcher knife and a carving knife. McGarrett cringed slightly as he noted a small axe in lying in the sink. The tool appeared clean to the naked eye, but Steve knew that it had probably been used to dismember the poor victim.

 

“A lot of the victim is still here,” the Samoan detective broke the silence with his announcement from the fridge.

 

“Steve,” Dan’s voice summoned softly from the other side of the table, where Williams stood over a trash can, holding a crinkled piece of paper in his handkerchief. He gently tossed the paper onto the table and flattened it quickly with the cloth. The other two detectives gathered around and studied the page:

 

           Who knows whose nose           A rose

 

Who knows whose nose

                                         An eye for an eye

knee  flee   bee   tree

 

                                      arm --- charm harm

foot   --- soot             LEG – beg

 

                    eye try fly why

 

“Knee, flee… arm, charm… Why these parts you asked, Danno,” Steve mused.

 

Williams looked up with a grimace. “Donaldson couldn’t think of anything to rhyme with elbow.”

 

With a grim smirk, McGarrett nodded and carefully retrieved the only other easily-accessible crumpled notebook paper from the trash, and spread it on the table near the other one:

 

What will the killer do to keep out of jail?

 

Flail  mail  trail

 

What will the killer do to keep the secret from his wife?

There’s more than one witness

 

                                                   Wife        strife      life

 

Will he kill a cop?

 

                    How long before the cop remembers recalls

 

Who else must die to keep the killer’s secret safe?

SAFE – strafe waif       

 

“Bad poetry in progress,” Ben breathed.

 

“Bad poetry chock full of clues,” McGarrett returned distractedly. “Bag these notes and bring them to me.”

 

“Steve,” the Samoan detective stepped closer to the table. “Now that we found this guy’s freezer packed full of human remains, you’re not thinking there’s any doubt about his guilt, are you?”

 

The Five-0 chief's blue eyes pierced his interrogator. "Doubt is what keeps me careful, bruddah."

 

 

NNN

 

 

“Donaldson wasn’t married, was he?” Williams wondered as he slouched down onto the couch.

 

“Nope,” Chin announced as he strode through the office door. “Not since he’s lived here anyway. Is anybody else hungry?”

 

“Then why is he talking about keeping the secret from a wife?” Dan looked up at his boss, who leaned on the frame of his lanai door.

 

The doodles, practice messages, and poems in progress had been the subject of discussion off and on between other police matters over the course of the day. The case was not considered officially solved – the identity of Donaldson’s victim had yet to come to light – but it was clearly well on its way. With that information being general knowledge, other cases took on greater urgency.

 

McGarrett said very little – instead, he listened to the various comments and opinions of his subordinates, who all had theories about the meanings in the dead man’s trashed notes.

 

“Maybe he’s talkin’ about an ex-wife somewhere,” the Chinese detective suggested.

 

Ben shrugged. “Or maybe he WANTED a wife – maybe the lady in his fridge. I could eat – should we order something?”

 

“Maybe it don’t matter now,” Chin offered as he moved a nearby chair and sat. “The killer is dead.”

 

“Yeah, Donaldson’s bad driving broke the case for us,” the Samoan mentioned as he sank into the vacant seat by Chin. “I read the HPD accident report – it agreed with the on-scene accident assessment of the night before. The Cadillac skidded off the highway, probably at a high speed. No brake marks indicated the driver came up to the curve so quickly, probably at night, that there was no chance to avoid a collision into the trees.”

 

Dan sighed and began to press on his temple as he responded, “Well, that accident is the first time Donaldson ever showed up on the HPD radar. He lived his life without as much as a parking ticket. Showed up for work on time everyday at Benson’s Cadillac Dealership, paid his bills on time.”

 

“Hmmm…” Ben frowned. “The dealership must be Donaldson’s connection to Doctor Overton’s caddie.”

 

It was the Chinese detective’s turn to grimace. “But why steal it? What about carry out from Uncle Lee’s?”

 

A grin played across the Samoan detective’s face. “It was a NICE ride.”

 

Dan slowly rose from the sofa and stretched as he intoned seriously, “Well, I don’t remember it being all that great in the trunk.”

 

Steve reacted visibly for the first time since the discussion began. Grinning, he turned and sat on the corner of his desk. “Comfort for passengers in the trunk probably wasn’t a design consideration for the manufacturer.”

 

Williams offered a reluctant, slight grin as the other two detectives snickered. Before the chuckles died, the phone rang. The Five-0 chief, still smiling, collected the handset before the second ring could complete. The call was a request from Doctor Bergman for McGarrett and Williams to meet him at the morgue.

 

Dan bent and pulled his jacket from the table. “Are there any mysteries left in this case that require us to live through one of Doc’s dead body presentations?”

 

“Only the ones we don’t know about, Danno,” Steve offered a sympathetic smirk as he collected his own jacket from the rack.

 

NNN

 

When McGarrett and Williams arrived at the autopsy room, they were surprised to see two tables covered in sheets.

 

“Deceased number one, Richard Donaldson. Died of a blow to the left temporal bone. He was struck so hard that his Zygomatic process was splintered in a few locations,” he paused, dramatically noting McGarrett’s narrowed gaze. “In layman’s terms, he died of a blow to the left side of his head, resulting in trauma to the brain. And I can see in your eyes you are wondering how he could have sustained such an injury from an auto accident. He couldn’t. This was an instrument that had a sharp edge. Not a like a steering wheel or dash board.”

 

The two detectives looked at each other and blinked as McGarrett put into words what both men were thinking. “Could our murderer have been murdered?”

 

“That would be my conclusion,” the medical man nodded, and then with a flair, he moved to the second table. “Now I’ll introduce you to victim number two.” 

 

He whipped the sheet away like a magician to reveal the body parts with which the detectives had become so familiar over the course of the week. In pieces, in a macabre puzzle, were the severed parts of a woman. The grotesque maze of anatomical bits made a complete corpse in a bizarre lay-out on the slab. As far as the chief of Five-0 could tell, all the toes, fingers, limbs, head, etc were all there, just not attached.

 

Williams spoke first as he studied the ghoulish human puzzle. “What would compel that guy to steal a car and THEN murder and hack up someone?”

 

“Maybe it’s the someone that’s the key,” McGarrett breathed, not taking his eyes from the female victim.

 

Bergman’s expression grew more animated. “Exactly! Meet Tien Chow. Fingerprint check finally came through from immigration. Miss Chow was here on a student visa from South Korea, and, until about a month ago – when she quit without notice – she ALSO worked for Benson’s Cadillac Dealership!

 

“Okay, NOW we’ve got a point in common between murder victim number one, her murderer, and the stolen transportation!” The lead detective began pacing as he spoke.

 

The ME stepped over to a table with evidence bags and lifted the larger one, containing a bundle of white material. “I’m not even to the interesting part yet,” he smiled enthusiastically. “A woman’s shawl recovered from the trunk of the car. Contains elements of perfume, specifically Burning Ember.”   He then snatched up the smaller bag and waved it at the detectives. “Also recovered – a broken fingernail, coated with pink nail polish, and smeared with blood. The nail polish is a match for the polish found on Tien Chow’s severed digits. Blood type- A positive – not consistent with the victim, or Mr. Donaldson.” He leveled a gaze at the younger detective as he concluded, “BUT consistent with that of Officer Danny Williams.”

 

After exchanging a surprised glance with his colleague, McGarrett stared at the ME. “Are you sure, Doc? That puts Danno in the trunk of that car WITH the victim!”

 

“And it explains why Danny had such a visceral reaction to the Burning Ember – the woman’s shawl seems to have sustained a spill of the cologne,” Bergman concluded.

 

Williams studied the dismembered corpse, the evidence bags, and finally turned to McGarrett. “That means Donaldson killed Chow and I happened onto the scene in time to get cracked on the head and stuffed in the same trunk,” he twitched distastefully. “Glad I don’t remember it after all.”

 

“Yeah, pretty nasty,” McGarrett agreed, but then wandered back to the table where the first human form lay covered. “That leaves us with a new case – who murdered Donaldson?”

 

Dan watched his boss move to stand beside the dead man, and then his own eyes fell back to the re-assembled woman. “And what was Tien Chow doing in the parking garage at the Hawaiian Village?”

 

“Who’s Tien Chow?” The female voice startled all three men, and their heads turned toward the door in tandem to see it wafting shut in Dora’s wake. She quickly surveyed the two gurneys as she approached, but did not react with more than a twitch of her eye brows, and a quiet “oh.” With a matching clutch secured snugly under her arm, Mrs. Bergman was fashionably attired in a pink, just-above-the-knee, Courtelle jersey dress as she greeted her spouse smile.

 

“Oh no, she’s been shopping,” groaned the medical examiner.

 

Ignoring her spouse’s mock complaint, Dora immediately focused on the detectives, who both returned her smile. “So you boys are convinced that the man found dead in Trent’s car murdered that poor girl?”

 

With brushing eye contact between each other, McGarrett and Williams privately shared their reluctance to discuss the still-open case with anyone, even ohana like Dora. Her extensive medical background and the probable work-related pillow talk the Five-0 chief imagined went on between the very close couple made her a very educated interrogator. Additionally, her persistence was difficult to dodge. Deciding to attempt the brief answer which would be released to the press within the next day or so, the lead detective canted his head slightly in confirmation. “That’s the direction the evidence is taking us.”

 

“Interesting,” she announced simply, and then turned immediate to the younger detective. “Danny, how are feeling? You’re looking tired.”

 

“I’m doing great, Dora – thanks though,” Williams returned with a crooked grin.

 

“Well, just remember – you’ll heal more quickly if you get plenty of rest,” she squeezed his arm as she offered the motherly advice. Before Dan could do more than acknowledge the instruction with a slight tip of his head, the little woman turned back to the head of Five-0. “Steve, which of your scenarios puts the young lady in the parking garage with Mr. Donaldson?”

 

McGarrett could think of a couple – the two now-deceased people came as a couple to steel the car OR Donaldson waylaid the girl in the garage (Did she recognize him?) either just before or just after he took out Danno. Instead of voicing the possibilities, he avoided offering an answer. “Mrs. Bergman, you and Doc aren’t going to any Halloween parties as Nick and Nora Charles, are you?”

 

“We just might, Detective – and maybe we’ll see you there!” She winked. “So now about the aquamarine ring found on the victim’s finger—”

 

“Dora, Steve threw a hint the size of a manhole cover! This is still an active case officially.”

 

“I know that, dear, but I’m really—”

 

The ME gently, but firmly grabbed his wife by the shoulders. “I’m REALLY too, but I’ve gotta finish the paperwork on these two customers before we can leave, so if you’ll be so kind as to wait for me in the office…”

Dora did not have time to do more than offer a mildly frustrated frown at her spouse before McGarrett, seeing an opportunity for him and his protégé to make good on an escape, announced, “Doc, thanks for the very helpful information. Let me know if anything else comes up.” Turning to Williams, he saw that his friend did indeed look drained. “Let’s get you home, Danno.”

 

Without any argument, Dan nodded. “G’night, Dora, Doc.”

 

“Good night, boys,” Mrs. Bergman called as the couple watched the detectives disappear out the door. As soon as the door clicked, Dora looked up at the physician. “I just don’t believe we have all of the puzzle pieces in the right spot yet, but I’ve figured out a way that we might be able to correct that.”

 

“Dora,” the doc began tiredly as he released his hold on her and turned to cover the corpses. “I know that Alice roused your suspicions, but honestly, the boys found the rest of Miss Chow’s remains in Donaldson’s freezer – pretty damning evidence if you ask me.”

 

Niles, please listen,” the nurse quickly maneuvered around to the opposite side of the gurney. “It’s going to be perfectly innocent – no low crawling through the bushes to spy on the Overtons.”

 

Draping Donaldson’s form with the sheet, Bergman grimaced. “Oh that’s good, dear, because my knee pads are at the cleaners.”

 

“I’ve accepted an invitation to their Halloween luau at their place in Kahala tomorrow evening,” she revealed with a hint of defiance in her tone and she internally braced herself for the negative response she knew was coming.

 

He spun to face her and sputtered, “You… you what?”

 

“We’re going to a luau at my boss’s house tomorrow. What’s the harm in that?”

 

“We’re talking about the leading heart surgeon in Hawaii and his well-to-do wife! So she lied to you about a piece of jewelry---”

 

“A distinctive and valuable ring found on the finger of a murder victim,” she reminded.

 

“Which she says she left in the vehicle which was stolen by the murderer – what is unreasonable about that?”

 

“Women do NOT leave valuable rings in ash trays of cars!” She flung back, and then added, “And there was something in her voice…”

 

Exasperated, he turned and grabbed the sheet at the base of the woman’s body and, in one sweeping movement, flung the sheet so that it fell to rest over the remains. Dora took a step closer to him and continued to press her case. “We’ll go – make nice with Trent and Alice, ask a few innocent questions, and then leave. It will put any suspicions I have to rest, and I won’t mention it again.”  When he didn’t respond, she offered, “We can tell Steve about the plan if it would make you feel any better about it.”

 

The comment elicited an immediate reaction from the physician. He turned to face his wife. “Tell Steve what? That Alice Overton fed you a line about her ring, and so we’re thinking that we need to put them on the list of suspects for… for SOMETHING?”

 

"You don't want to look foolish to Steve?" The question came out as a mild accusation.

 

"That too," he admitted.

 

Niles, you can't suppress evidence."

 

“Your intuition is NOT evidence to anyone except me!” His eyes flashed in anger as he spun to make the announcement in her face.

 

She caught her breath slightly and paused. The two stared at each other for several seconds before the doctor finally sighed and broke eye contact. He slowly removed the mask, which had been dangling from his neck, and dropped it into the laundry bin by the door. The nurse watched him quietly until he turned back towards her.

 

She spoke softly. “Something was wrong with Alice’s demeanor when I told her about the ring. I KNOW it’s not much to go on, but I can’t seem to let it go.”

 

Niles studied the woman whose features he knew so well. She was smart – probably the smartest woman he knew. Ever since he’d met the beautiful, diminutive brunette, he’d been unable to resist her powers of persuasion, and, despite the more than thirty years of marriage between them, he still found his will bending to meet hers. Frustrated as much with himself as with Dora’s illogical insistence on pursuing groundless, vague suspicions, he growled, “What do you hope to find out by this little charade?”

 

The woman, seeing her spouse was relenting, smiled with satisfaction and approached. Wrapping both arms around one of his, she looked up at him as if the question was a silly one. “If I knew that, darling, we wouldn’t have to bother!”

 

NNN

 

When McGarrett glanced up from the report he’d scanned, he noted that Kelly and Kokua were smirking and looking in the direction of the couch. Glancing over to Williams, he shook his head. Danno had his head back, as if asleep.

 

"Good work, gentlemen," he congratulated a little too loudly. From the corner of his eye, he noted his second sat up a little straighter. "Well, it's almost six. Let's call it a night."

 

Chin and Ben hastily called their good nights, as if scurrying out before the boss changed his mind for leaving so early. Williams glanced to the lanai door, as if thinking the same thing as his colleagues.

 

"You're leaving before sunset?" Williams smiled at his boss. "Must have a date."

 

"A very pretty one," the older detective grinned as he buttoned his collar and adjusted his askew tie. "And smart AND talented."  The joy faltered. "If she's everything she's supposed to be."

 

Williams' eyes crinkled in knowing suspicion. "A set up?"

 

"Blind date with a doctor that Dora works with."

 

Williams let a crooked smile slip onto his face. "Ahh, the doctor from Fiji – she was at the dance last week. She IS real pretty – I didn’t detect anything abnormal about her,” he offered, but paused before he added, “but then I didn’t have any interaction with her.”

 

McGarrett’s lip twitched slightly. “Thanks for the words of encouragement, Danno.”

 

“Where you going?"

 

"A social event. The Halloween luau at the Overton’s beach house, remember?"

 

"Oh yeah," the younger man responded softly as he slowly came to his feet. “The highlight of my evening is going to be re-introducing my head to my pillow.”

 

The head of Five-0 gave his protégé a gentle pat on the back. “That sounds like a great plan – I’m not holding my breath that you’ll stick to it.”

 

"I will, Steve, I promise. I'm not up to anything but a nice relaxing night on the lanai."  His eyes sparked with familiar mischief. "I’m certainly not up to one of Dora's blind dates. Glad it's you and not me."

 

With a dramatic sigh, McGarrett gestured for him to proceed out of the office. "Tomorrow morning, Danno, you might hear me deliver the exact sentiment. Dora's a nice lady, but I wish she'd mind her own business."

 

"Yeah. So which one of us is going to tell her that?" Williams smirked as they exited the office.

 

NNN

 

Once changed out of his suit, Williams grabbed some cold juice and sat on his lanai. As tired as he was, his mind would not stop working. There was still something bothering him about his own attack – the answer seemed to remain just around the corner in his thoughts. With Donaldson dead and his body being found in the car which had been stolen from the parking garage, HPD had closed the case. It was probably for the best – it seemed that he was doomed to move on still holding a piece in an apparently-complete puzzle. Shaking his head, the detective silently issued the edict to his brain that it was time to let go of the mental struggle. He collected the latest surfing magazine from beneath his chair, and tried to focus on one of the articles, but it wasn’t more than a couple minutes before he realized that his eyes were moving over the words without passing comprehension to his head.

 

“That’s it, Williams!”

 

Dan stood and buttoned his favorite blue aloha shirt. Taking in the tropical scent on the breeze, he decided that a drive down to Waikiki would be a palatable diversion. He might have wrecked the LTD, but he had his Mustang, so within a few minutes, he was parked at the curb on Kalakaua, just down from the International Marketplace. As usual on his island home, it was a nice evening for a stroll.

 

The sidewalks were bustling with vacationers dressed in nice, casual wear for their evening out at one of the hotel restaurants, or night shows, or luaus. Dan slowly meandered his way through and past groups of happy people, chatting about their plans for the next day, marveling at the incredible, acrobatic nature of Polynesian dances, or perhaps discussing who back home would be receiving post cards.

 

As he had hoped, the pleasant sights and sounds of other humans carried his thoughts onto a more relaxing plane. As strains of ukulele music danced in his ears, he began planning a hiking trip. It had been ages since he’d hit any of his favorite trails. 

 

Suddenly, the flash of Trent Overton came into his mind with such precise clarity he took in a sharp breath, and pressed his back against a nearby light pole. He desperately analyzed the invasive recollection, ignoring the people wandering past him. It wasn’t a captured mental picture of the doctor giving a speech, or being photographed with the Governor, or dancing with his wife. Maddeningly, he couldn't grasp any more! What on earth had caused that image to catapult to the forefront of his thoughts like that? He looked up the street from where he’d been standing a few moments earlier – a lei stand vendor was busy helping a very pale elderly woman with her new Plumeria blossom lei while the man Williams took to be her husband focused on re-organizing the bills in his wallet.

 

All at once feeling ill and disoriented, Dan tried to offer a casual smile at a group of tourists as he edged around them to make his way back to the lei stand.

 

Gert, I bet you could make one of them outta the peonies in the back yard sometime,” the elderly gentleman proffered the comment as he stuffed his wallet into his pants pocket.

 

“Harry, somehow it doesn’t seem quite as romantic,” the man’s wife returned as part of her attention was captured by the young man suddenly standing there.

 

Dan smiled and offered a slight nod before he brought all of his senses to bear on the puzzle. Abruptly, there it was again! His attention snapped to the man.

 

“Excuse me, sir – can you tell me what kind of aftershave you’re wearing?”

 

The man was startled only momentarily before he recovered with a broad grin, and an I-told-you-so glance at his wife. “It’s called Mystery – I paid a little more than I usually pay—”

 

Gert cut in, “You mean you paid A LOT more than you usually pay for your witch hazel!”

 

An annoyed glance was Harry’s only recognition of his spouse’s interruption. “But I liked it, and the salesman told me that the odor—”

 

“SCENT – you’re not a garbage truck!” The little woman again intervened.

 

Dan, standing between the two, blinked uncertainly at the female of the pair before his attention re-focused on the male, who corrected his mistake and continued.

 

“Yeah, I mean the scent was specially designed to blend with my own personal chemistry – pretty incredible if you ask me!”

 

Williams nodded distractedly. “And I did… thank… thank you, sir… have a nice…” He let the sentence trail off as he spun and began jogging for his car, leaving the two perplexed tourists to watch him until he vanished into the crowd.

 

NNN

 

'So far, so good,' McGarrett sighed shallowly as he opened the door of the Mercury for his date.

 

Picking her up at her apartment on Beretania Street, Doctor Emma Kumar, attired in a striking cobalt blue sarong befitting the theme of the evening, seemed a pleasant and intelligent woman. Not too shy, not too bold, the small talk so far in the journey to the Kahala estate had been nice. As in any first date, they were searching for common ground, covering all the small talk possible -- except the weather -- which was useless to discuss in Hawaii. He learned about her small island in Fiji, that she was training here and planned to return back home at some point to work in a hospital in her native land. She was impressed, but not intimidated or overly awed about his job as top cop of the fiftieth state.

 

Allowing the valet to take the keys to the sedan, McGarrett took Emma's arm and they walked up the front path of the impressive estate. As with most beachfront property in the exclusive, expensive, elite and limited neighborhood of Oahu's rich and famous, the Overton's manor was an old and sprawling house set back from the narrow Kahala Avenue. Situated near the ocean front sands curving around the bay, the mansion was shaded by huge trees in the front that were the centerpieces of a scenic Japanese garden. Paths from the driveway wound around tastefully trimmed shrubbery and Oriental sculptures. The soil was rich and rough, and McGarrett idly thought it would be a sensational place to bury a body. Nah, the back yard would be better, he reconsidered, but the soil here was very conducive to such an activity. Catching his thoughts before they got too detailed, he glanced at his pretty escort and smiled, trying to get out of the cop-thinking-mode for just one evening.

 

The front door was a unique oval with a gold trim around the circle, in an ostentatious reminder of the last-name initial of the affluent owners. A butler directed them to an entryway with an alcove for removed shoes, a ritual skipped for the convenience of the guests tonight. The main living area, as well as the walls of the foyer and the halls leading to the right and left of the door, were sparsely, austerely decorated in Asian flavors.

 

Taking in the stunning view from the house -- right out to the backyard, the sandy beach and the pristine ocean beyond, McGarrett had only a moment to appreciate the scene. Alice Overton stepped over to welcome and guide them onto the spacious stone lanai, where most of the other guests mingled with drinks in hand. As his very attractive date looked up at him with a smile, the detective suddenly felt that perhaps the evening would go more pleasantly than he’d originally anticipated.

 

NNN

 

The drive from the Bergman's Aina Haina beach house, where they stayed during the week instead of their Makaha house in the hills of the leeward coast, was not far from the Overton's Kahala mansion. On the way, when they drove past the shopping center with Lolo's Barbeque, Niles groaned audibly.

 

In understanding, Dora patted his arm. “Dinner tomorrow night will be at Lolo’s.”

 

More grumbling ensued when they pulled into the large curved driveway of the Overton manor. Parking in the front yard was limited, so a valet service was parking guest vehicles around the neighborhood. Niles snapped at the valet, telling the young man getting behind the wheel of his classic Mercedes roadster that he was going to check it for scratches when the car was returned that night!

 

"Men and cars," she teased him as they walked, arm in arm, along the front walkway.

 

One waiter with pu'pus and another with drinks met them a few paces into the house. Niles helped himself to both barely in time as his wife dragged him by the elbow into the living room. "Wait till I get some of this expensive food," he groused, lingering at the tray with delectable looking goodies.

 

The comfortable and tastefully decorated main room overlooked an impressive bay and beach. The ocean front was a perfect backdrop beyond the pool and lawns of the back yard. For a moment, Bergman stood, appreciating the breathtaking scenery; the gray-blue shape of Koko Head Crater defining the curve of the land to the left, the azure-orange streaked sky, the rich blue and amber of the rolling ocean, the lush greens of the landscaped lawns, the swaying palms. All lit a burnished gold from the dying sun, along with the multicolored tones of the sea and the trees in the tawny rays of sunset, accentuated by the light blue of the sparkling pool. The Oriental garden theme extended back here, winding around the pool and lounge areas, leaving expansive plots of rich soil where sparse foliage and tasteful Asian sculptures accented, but did not dominate the ambiance

 

In the back yard, the party was already in full swing. A luau buffet table was set along the shrubs to the left. Several couples, all of them familiar to the Bergmans, were gathered nearby chatting with Trent and Alice. To Niles’ mild surprise, Steve McGarrett was there with Emma Kumar, the new doctor who’d just transferred in from Fiji!  Well, Dora's endless matchmaking had worked, temporarily, he inwardly mused.

 

Even as he watched the couple apparently enjoying their conversation with each other, he pessimistically knew that something would spoil it. It always did with Steve’s and Danny's romantic entanglements!  Why Dora would not rest as long as the two Five-0 detectives were single was beyond him. It was more than apparent to the medical examiner that neither of the men was ready for marriage -- never would be as long as they worked in Five-0. And leaving was just not going to happen. The unit was in their blood -- both of them -- like mentor and student -- what Steve did Danny would follow, he huffed. Injuries a number one case in point!

 

"Oh, look at that sunset," someone commented to their companion as they passed behind him.

 

The shift of focus tripped him to a better plane. An island transplant, Niles never ceased to be amazed at the beauty and sheer, stunning seduction of Hawaii's charms. Medical service in World War Two had brought him to these shores. Here at Pearl Harbor, he had met Dora Pemberton, a scrappy, gorgeous, opinionated nurse who aggravated him as much as captivated him. It wasn't long before their long walks along a sunset beach, the shared box lunches between stressful duties, led to a deep and lasting love. When they were released from service at the end of the War, they never left Hawaii. Instead, they were married, and continued their careers here. Never blessed with children, they focused on each other, their adopted land of aloha, and careers. Having seen enough tragedy during the War, Niles switched to post mortem specialty, to minimize his contact with the suffering.

 

Receiving another tug on the arm from his wife, Bergman followed her out onto the lanai and into the sculptured back yard. The ME grabbed more pu'pus and wandered after Dora as she gravitated toward the Overtons. Alice was engaged in a private conversation with two of her guests several feet from her husband, who was dipping a cup of punch out of the bowl.

 

Trent caught sight of his head nurse in her approach, and immediately greeted both Bergmans as he gave the woman a brief hug. “Dora, Niles, I’m delighted you could be here!”

 

“Mahalo, Trent,” Dora returned.

 

Trent,” Niles nodded his greeting. “Great spread.”

 

“Thanks, Niles,” the surgeon glanced over his shoulder to the buffet table. “It’s been in the planning for months.”

 

“It certainly shows.” Dora panned the area before her focus returned to her boss. “I keep meaning to ask you this…”

Niles’ gaze dropped to his drink as he hoped he looked nonchalant whilst his better half casually interrogated Overton.

 

“I keep meaning to tell you how sorry I am about your beautiful Cadillac being stolen. I know it was fairly new---” the nurse intoned with a sympathetic air.

 

“Yes,” Trent cut in. “It was rather upsetting, but what with everything that happened that evening, I don’t feel right feeling sorry for myself. It could well have been me that walked in on that fiend, Donaldson, instead of poor Danny Williams.”

 

Dora’s eyes never left the physician’s face. “The business with Danny WAS especially upsetting to Niles and I – he’s a dear friend. But fortunately, he’s almost made a full recovery.”

 

Trent shifted – uncomfortably Dora thought – but she didn’t stop. “Has your insurance agreed to pay for everything that was stolen along with the car?”

 

Overton gave a dismissive shake of his head. “There was really nothing of value in the vehicle when it was stolen. I’m the only one who drives… I mean drove it, and I generally travel light.”

 

The pleasant glance Dora tossed at her husband found him suddenly frozen with Trent’s statement. The medical examiner cleared his throat. “Hmm, so Trent, I don’t know what made me think it, but I thought some jewelry had been taken.”

 

Trent frowned, “No, nothing like that.”

 

Dora gently placed her hand on her husband’s arm. “Niles, you’re probably confusing your cases again!” She bubbled with a light laugh, and Bergman shrugged and feebly attempted a chuckle as he admitted that it might be so. The couple exchanged a meaningful look as they both noticed that Overton looked exceedingly uncomfortable.

 

“Oh look! There’s Emma Kumar!” Dora announced excitedly. “I’m so glad that Steve brought her! Excuse us, will you, Trent?” The nurse smiled sweetly at the man, who seemed to be breathing easier again. With a curt nod to Overton, Niles trailed after his wife as she made an apparent beeline for the doctor from Fiji.

Her pace slowed as she allowed her husband to catch up with her.

 

“Okay,” the ME whispered. “You’ve effectively infected me with your paranoia.”

 

Maintaining a pleasant smile, she nodded. “Finally. Next, we have to speak to Alice – I want to hear her tell us about her ring again.”

 

“First, I’m gonna go have a word with Steve, and you’d better at least say hi to Doctor Kumar in case Trent is watching.”

 

“Right,” Dora agreed as the couple angled away from each other to their respective targets.

 

Mrs. Bergman initiated her conversation with Emma by lightly probing about how she was enjoying her first date with the head of the state police.

 

“You were right, Dora – he’d be a dream catch, but I seem to have a little trouble keeping his attention.”

 

Confusion washed over the nurse’s expression as the lovely physician explained. “It’s like he’s… he’s… on alert.”

 

Dora gave a small dismissive wave with her hand. “Steve always has that on-duty air about him – he’s a very dedicated police officer. But don’t take that as a sign of disinterest.”

 

“Now what ARE we whispering about, ladies?”

 

Both women jumped slightly before they turned to see their hostess almost on top of them. Dora recovered quickly and smiled. “Definitely girl talk, Alice. Everything looks so beautiful!”

 

Grateful to her nurse friend for steering the conversation away from her date, Emma agreed, “Yes, Alice – you have a lovely home.”

 

Mrs. Overton focused on Doctor Kumar. “Emma, I’m told you’re quite the wine connoisseur – you MUST see my new wine cellar!” She glanced towards Niles Bergman, the Five-0 chief, and another Queens physician, who were all absorbed in conversation. With a conspiratorial wink, she added, “C’mon – I can show you while your men folk are plotting in the corner!”

 

Dora hesitated, but the doctor next to her nodded in pleased agreement. “I would LOVE to see it – if it’s no trouble, Alice.”

 

“No trouble at all,” Overton assured as she took one arm of each woman and began walking toward the house.

 

With an uncertain fleeting look over her shoulder in the direction of her oblivious husband, she kept pace with the two taller women as they left the lanai and re-entered the house proper.

 

“Dora, since you were so kind as to ask about my ring the other day, I wanted to tell you that the one found on that poor murdered girl could not have been mine – I found it – behind my dresser!” Alice giggled. “When it was missing from my jewelry box, I thought I’d forgotten to retrieve it from the change holder in Trent’s car.”

 

The nurse’s eyes grew large. “Your ring…” If Alice was telling the truth, then Trent was telling the truth as well. A slight knot of sick tension suddenly caught her in her diaphragm – she’d convinced Niles that the Overton’s were hiding something, and now, her spouse was probably regaling Steve with the information. Still skeptical though, Dora covered the fact admirably as she responded. “What a relief you must feel – although I thought you said the ring was one of a one-of-a-kind. I saw the one found on the dead woman, and it’s the spitting image of yours.”

 

Alice gave an exaggerated sigh. “Yes, I thought it was, but apparently the jeweler liked the design well enough to make more than one. Would you like to see mine?” With a penetrating stare into the shorter woman’s eyes, luau hostess added, “You seem SO interested in it.”

 

Now completely uncertain what Alice Overton was up to, Dora acknowledged an interest with the sinking feeling that perhaps his boss’s wife sensed her possibly misplaced distrust. Seeing the ring would certainly squelch any further misgivings she had. “Well, if it’s no trouble. By the way, why aren’t you wearing it?”

 

“One of the prongs broke – I was afraid I’d lose the stone,” Alice explained as she opened the basement door and turned on the light. “Please watch your step – the stairs are a little steep.”

 

Emma nodded and led the way, followed by Dora, who carefully clutched the wood railing all the way down. Their hostess brought up the rear. “This room is temperature and humidity controlled – much like a refrigerator – to insure minimal degradation of the wine,” Alice explained as the two women approached the caged area behind which were numerous racks filled with wine bottles canted carefully on their sides. She quickly lifted the keys from a hook on the far wall, and unlocked the floor-to-ceiling gate. With a gracious smile, she bade them to enter.

 

NNN

 

To Doctor Bergman’s annoyance, just as he arrived within conversational distance of McGarrett, a casual acquaintance joined him in lock step. Excited to meet Steve, the general practitioner enthusiastically launched into a series of questions about recent Five-0 cases.

 

Well versed in the art of polite avoidance, the head of Five-0 fielded the queries without answering the questions, all the while noticing the medical examiner’s growing and thinly-veiled impatience with the banal courtesies.

 

Bergman glanced over to where his wife had been standing a few minutes ago with Doctor Kumar. His brow furled as he slowly panned the lanai in an attempt to spot her. Not seeing his gregarious spouse out here mingling with many of their friends, the image of Dora skulking into the house and poking around in desk drawers and closets in search of clues suddenly dashed through his mind – a scene that suddenly seemed like a distinct possibility.

 

“Hmm, excuse me,” he whispered and slipped off to purposefully wander towards the house.

 

McGarrett watched with distracted interest as the physician headed for the indoors.

 

Covertly opening doors and checking rooms, Bergman jumped when someone touched his shoulder.

 

Alice Overton started and quickly pulled her hand back.

 

Alice!” He clutched his chest, and feigned more surprise than he actually felt as he tried to summon an explanation for the search, but there was no need.

 

Alarm was written on Mrs. Overton’s face. “Niles, it’s Dora!”

 

Now, true fear gripped him. “What is it? Where is she?”

 

“I was showing her and Emma our new wine cellar – she took a misstep and fell down the steps!”

 

“My God! Where is she now?” He demanded as she guided him down the hallway.

 

“Still in the cellar – I’ve called an ambulance. Emma is with her now,” Alice explained quickly.

 

As they rounded the corner, the pair almost rushed headlong into McGarrett. “Doc! What’s—” 

 

“Steve! Dora’s hurt!” The medical examiner’s face was flushed with emotion.

 

Immediately alarmed, McGarrett turned to follow the distraught physician. Within seconds, Alice opened the door. The light was already on as Niles pushed past his hostess onto the landing of the steps. “Dora!”

 

Niles!” Mrs. Bergman’s frightened cry was all the man needed to hear as he jogged down the steps more quickly than he might have considered prudent in other circumstances.

 

McGarrett stepped onto the landing as the physician rushed down to his distraught wife’s side. The detective sensed something was amiss, but his legendary sixth sense kicked in a second too late. A hard shove to his back sent him careening down the steps on top of Bergman, three-quarters of the way down the steps.

 

NNN

 

As soon as the cage of the wine cellar locked, McGarrett was at the wire mesh, his fingers interlaced with the thin, but secure, enclosure. Designed to keep the rare wine protected against any sneaky domestic help or other intruders, it was also an effective restraint for overly-curious medical professionals and the head of Five-0. Niles sat on the step stool behind the detective his arms clutching his ribs. Dora and Emma stood behind him.

 

“You WILL NOT get away with this!  Either one of you!” McGarrett shouted, a trickle of blood trailing from his nose, his anger and frustration making his voice raw. He shook the cage that was too strongly built to give way to his wrath. He looked at the cage keys hanging only yards away by the bottom of the stairs. So close and yet impossibly far away. “Overton!  Don’t be stupid!”

 

Standing safely away from the enclosure, Alice’s grip on McGarrett’s own revolver did not waiver. Trent stood behind her, wringing his hands in terror at the threats. The weapon, aimed squarely at its owner, served as a deadly deterrent on this side of the barrel. Alice’s cold, detached glare remained aloof and above the threats.

 

“Stupid? That’s already happened. Several times, Steve.” She turned the icy disdain toward her husband, then back to stare at the Bergmans. “I don’t know EXACTLY WHAT you know, but it’s clear that it’s a little too much. We had to clean up after Trent’s mistakes. Now you’re all going out with the next tide.”  Alice snapped a command over her shoulder, “Get upstairs and take care of the guests!”

 

With a fearful glance at his wife, Trent trudged up the stairs, visibly stirred by the pleas and invectives from the prisoners.

 

Mrs. Overton directed her attention back to her prisoners. “This was a very inconvenient evening for this to have come to a head! But, in another hour, the rest of our guests will have left through the FRONT door.”

 

She trotted up the stairs, and when she reached the landing, she turned and called back down the steps pleasantly. “Oh, this cellar is fairly soundproof, but should you be able to alert some unlucky soul, that life will be forfeit like yours!”

 

The basement door slammed shut and locked with resounding finality. McGarrett slammed both fists against the wire and stalked away, pacing in furious, sharp strides back and forth in the small confines of the narrow cage lined with bottles of expensive liquor. Doctor Kumar and Dora kept to the sides, away from the cop’s strident velocity to work out his fury. Niles stayed put on the chair, and nursed what he suspected could be cracked ribs.

 

“What on earth is this about?” The uninitiated Doctor Kumar maintained her cool, but was clearly on the verge of losing it.

 

“It’s a long story that started with murder and assault,” McGarrett breathed.

 

“And grand theft auto,” Bergman intoned sullenly.

 

“AND don’t forget dismemberment,” Dora added as she bent to check on her husband’s ribs.

 

The muffled sound of people upstairs occasionally filtered through the ventilation system. With one more frustrated slam of his fist against the cage, the Five-0 chief growled, “We can’t shout!”

 

Finally, the detective came to rest standing and leaned his head against the metal to focus on the sounds coming from above.

 

The minutes dragged into almost an hour before noises, like doors crashing, drawers opening and closing, echoed from the vent above the wine cage. From the shouts – mostly female – it was clear that the Overtons were fighting, and that the action had moved into what McGarrett estimated to be the formal living room almost directly above them.

 

“What are we going to do? How can we kill them all?”

 

“You should have thought of that before you killed that girl!”

 

“It was an accident!”

 

Which was nearly discovered by Danny Williams!  THEN, you didn’t hit him hard enough!”

 

McGarrett’s gasp at that remark brought the other three prisoner’s heads around to stare at him. “Trent attacked Danno,” he growled under his breath. “He killed Chow and Danno came upon the scene in time to get bashed in the head and stuffed in the trunk.”

 

“An impulse to cover up the crime,” Bergman concluded.

 

“A near homicide,” McGarrett harshly reminded.

 

“You are such an idiot!” Alice continued in the rooms above.

 

“I made a mistake! I admit it, but YOU made it worse, Alice!”

 

“You’re just fortunate that I was willing to clean up after you, Trent!  So just shut up!  You started this mess with that tramp – and you GAVE HER MY RING!”

 

“How was I to know he would find out and blackmail me and then hack her up—

 

“Well he did, and I had to eliminate him for it!

 

McGarrett rolled his eyes when Niles congratulated his wife. Quietly, the ME told her, “Dora, you were right!”

 

“We have to get out of here,” McGarrett shot out, at the end of his patience.

 

“I hope you’ll forgive me, Steve, if I decline any further social invitations from you,” Emma breathed in surprisingly-controlled show of dark humor.

 

McGarrett’s lips pressed together in a firm line of dismay and shrugged. The story of his life. Before he could respond, Alice answered the question herself.

 

“The valet service left the keys with me. Hide their cars, Trent – in case anyone comes looking for them.”

 

“How can we get away with this?” The male voice cried.

 

Trent, we’ll get away with this – not through your cleverness or nerves of steel! Unlike your little mistress, their bodies will be washed out with the tide, nevermore to haunt us.”

 

 Trent gasped. “You’re talking about murdering the head of Five-0!”

 

“Oh, please. You should have thought of that before you got us into this mess!”

 

“Five-0 will find out. Do you think Danny Williams will let Steve’s disappearance go uninvestigated? He’ll tear us apart!”

 

That comment brought a grim smile to the chief of the state police. Yeah, Danno. Asleep in his bed right now, as McGarrett had urged him to do, and far away from helping now. If only the oft allegation of mind-reading was a reality. While they thought alike with uncanny frequency, they had not perfected any paranormal thought-sharing capabilities. Too bad. Steve could use his friend’s help right now.

 

Alice’s voice dripped with sarcasm. Hel-loo. SWEET-HEART! He’s hopefully the LAST lose end in this nightmare!  Getting rid of him now is going to be a little tricky – too bad he didn’t come to the luau – we could’ve taken care of him tonight as well.”

 

McGarrett sucked in a sharp breath. Kill Danno!  No!  Danno would never see it coming – just like that initial attack in the garage. Trent was someone he knew, not a threat. His skin chilled with fear. He slammed his fists against the cage. He had to get out!

 

“Poor Danny,” Dora sighed a quavering whisper, echoing Steve’s thoughts. “He’ll never see the danger from the Overtons.”

 

The sound of a bell echoed, and Dr. Kumar spoke hopefully. “Was that the doorbell?”

 

“Yes,” Dora confirmed.

 

“Danny, what a surprise!”  The announcement of the new guest came through more loudly than the rest of the conversation.

 

“Hello, Alice. I thought the luau would still be going,” Dan Williams’ voice warbled through the ventilator and ominously echoed in the wine cellar.

 

The others looked to McGarrett’s who had gone cold with fear. Danno!  What was he doing here?!  Walking right into the devil’s lair without knowing the danger!

 

“Danno!  Danno!” he screamed, beating against the wire cage.

 

NNN

 

 

“Did you hear something?”

 

Trent, did you leave the television on downstairs?”

 

“Uh, yes -- sorry… dear.”

 

“Sorry you missed the luau, Danny, we finished a little early. I didn’t expect you. Steve mentioned you were still recovering from that terrible attack.”

 

“When did Steve leave, do you know?”

 

“Sorry, I didn’t really notice,” Alice replied sweetly. “Please come out of the foyer and into our humble living room.”

 

The invitation sent panic like an electric shock, through Steve’s system. “Danno!  Don’t trust her!  Danno!”

 

“Sure,” Williams replied as the door closed.

 

McGarrett’s heart started a heavy beat in his chest. Danno had just walked into the trap!  And there was nothing he could do locked up down here!  Helpless!

 

“If you don’t mind, I’ve got a couple questions for you, Doctor Overton,” Danno’s mild voice echoed. “A couple of things are nagging at me.”

 

The announcement brought McGarrett to complete stillness, even holding his breath, afraid of what Williams might say to endanger himself even more. Was that even possible? The Overtons planned to murder him along with their other prisoners.

 

NNN

 

Feeling a little tense, a little uncomfortable, a little thrilled with the excitement he always felt when a case was coming together, Williams stood to the side of the door. It was hard to put into words his strange suspicions, questions and guesses, but now that he was here, he would go ahead. He had hoped to talk to Steve, but Steve wasn’t here. No reason to waste this opportunity.

 

“I’m trying to lock down a few more puzzle pieces on our dismemberment case, and I’m having trouble trying to figure out how Miss Chow’s body got into your vehicle before it was actually stolen.”

 

 “I – uh – how would I know?”

 

It was coming together in his mind, formulating. He knew there was something more going on here. “Did YOU know Miss Chow?”

 

The detective’s ears perked up as the background noise which had been described as a television caught his attention again.

 

Trent nervously responded, “Who? Oh, no… no…” His eyes darted nervously to his wife as a pleasant breeze from the lanai pushed suddenly through the house.

Along with the fresh, night air and the wispy wash of ocean mist, came the scent of MYSTERY Aftershave.

 

With that olfactory evidence hitting him in the face, the answer came crashing in on Dan. Overton was lying. The trunk. He remembered now!  The aftershave – Trent was in the garage – he SAW/SMELLED Trent/MYSTERY Aftershave from the trunk because Trent put him in there!

 

Trent was sweating, nervous. Of course!  Donaldson was not there with the Cadillac – Trent was there with his own car because he knew Chow!

 

 “I only have one more question for you,” Dan tilted his head slightly as his gaze pierced Trent Overton. “Why is your TELEVISION calling my name!

 

Alice’s smile turned arctic and the rage-filled expression which blossomed spontaneously onto her face reminded Dan of a Halloween mask. He saw the revolver coming up from beneath the fold on her muumuu as she screamed like a banshee, “GRAB HIM!”

 

Dan, knowing he was in a fight for his life, dove towards Mrs. Overton and her gun just as Trent followed his wife’s command and dove towards him.

 

NNN

 

“Danno!  Danno!”  McGarrett beat on the wires until his fists went numb.

 

McGarrett heard the conversation unfold with horror, but he gasped as he heard – even above his cries and rattling of the cage -- thuds and scrapes and crashes. A violent struggle was taking place just overhead. Twenty seconds into the melee, there was a loud thud, then a gunshot.

 

Suddenly there was silence. The quiet unnerved him and he held his breath. What happened up there to Danno? He started yelling again, his voice scraping with the strain of his calls.

 

A firm hand gripped his shoulder. “Steve…” Bergman shook his head and patted the frantic cop. “It was a valiant try,” he whispered, shaken. “Danny – he gave it his best, I knew he would for you. For us.”

 

It was hard for the cop to breathe and his fingers gripped onto the wires until they ached. No, Danno had to be okay. But he couldn’t have handled two aggressors in his condition. The fear that Danno had died trying to save him rippled waves of illness through his tight stomach.

 

Suddenly, the basement door was unlocked, the bolt thrown back with a ringing echo. The Bergmans hugged each other, and Kumar whispered that they were about to die.

 

The only fear coursing through the police detective was his dread that the Overtons would be lugging Danno’s body. Well, they would have a real surprise when they got here. He was going to hold off and not let his anguish erupt into impulsive actions. Not like Trent when he accidentally killed his girlfriend, then attacked Danno to keep the death quiet. No, Steve was going to be restrained until they opened this cage. Then he was going after Alice and Trent with everything he had left. They were not going to get away with more murder – not with Danno’s murder.

 

The door opened. His clenched fists were his only outward show of the suppressed rage.

 

A single figure, silhouetted against the light, staggered down the steps, sliding along the wall. When a few steps from the floor, the pale light of the cellar cast a subdued glow on – not their captors – but Dan Williams.

 

“Danno!”

 

The younger detective fell more than walked the rest of the stairs and stumbled, falling, when he reached the floor. McGarrett sucked in a sharp breath, Dora and Niles both chattered with comments at Williams’ battered condition. Aloha shirt ripped, mouth and nose bleeding, he struggled to get up to his knees.

 

“Danno!  Danno!”

 

“Amazing,” Niles shook his head. “Didn’t think you could manage them, Danny, but I should have known better. Superhuman Five-0 strength came to the forefront when you knew Steve was down here in jeopardy.”

 

“Steve?”

 

Ignoring the commentary, McGarrett concentrated on getting his injured friend’s attention. Williams looked confused and hurting. “Where are you hurt, Danno?”

 

“Looks like he’s got another head injury,” Bergman growled with more irritation than sympathy.

 

“It’s okay, sweetie,” Dora commiserated. “We’ll help you.

 

The words flung him back with a ridiculous déjà vu of the scene in the garage. The bleeding and torn Williams then, like now, staggered, dazed and injured. Full circle. He had to get his friend to help them out of here so the doctors could treat him.

 

“Danno, can you reach the keys? They’re hanging by the stairs!”

 

The wounded man crawled on his hands and knees to the staircase. Every inch seemed painful and agonizing. Steve winced at the slow progress, hoping this was not causing more damage to his friend, encouraging him along the way with muttered words of support. Finally, Williams reached the wall, pulled himself up by the banister and grabbed the keys. The others in the cage cheered, but McGarrett only sighed in relief. The reaction turned swiftly to a groan of anguish as Williams slid down the wall and onto the floor again.

 

“Danno, you can do this,” was his quiet, encouragement, trembling with an intensity now urgent rather than boisterous. He knew this was difficult for Williams, and for himself, but with a little more effort this would all soon be over. A thought of more threats flashed into his mind and he wondered what had happened to their captors. “Danno, just get the keys over here and we can help you.”

 

Williams nodded but did not move.

 

“Where are the Overtons?”

 

“Upstairs?”  The injured man didn’t sound like he was sure.

 

“Just get the keys over here, Danno.”

 

Nodding, Williams tossed the keys and ring. The heavy metal fell short, but skidded and slid all the way to the cage. Again, the spectators cheered, but McGarrett ignored them, wrestling to get the keys through the metal wiring. They would not fit!

 

“Allow me, Steve.”  Doctor Kumar sidled over and took the keys, her small hands and fingers working deftly, with the skill of a surgeon, to work them up toward the lock.

 

Dora’s thin fingers then manipulated a key into the lock, but it would not fit. She tried the second one. It inserted smoothly. When she turned it, the lock sprang open, along with the door. Both women tumbled out.

 

Hesitating only briefly over chivalrous instincts, McGarrett leaped over their forms and jogged over to Williams, leaving Bergman behind to handle the gallantry. Williams’ eyes were closed. When McGarrett shook his shoulder, the officer nodded groggily.

 

“Danno, you okay?”

 

Mmm, yeah. Tired.”

 

The Bergmans and Kumar crowded around, pushing the chief cop out of the way in favor of medical proficiency. The three quickly determined Williams was suffering from some bruises and abrasions, but did not seem to have sustained another concussion. Only a thorough medical exam would determine that. Niles announced that an ambulance was needed.

 

“Before we call the coast clear, I think we better check on the Overtons first,” McGarrett decided, still crouching close to the circle of people. He gripped onto Williams’ arm. “Danno, what about the Overtons?”

 

Alice – had a gun – she bites!”

 

The nearly incoherent phrase would have seemed amusing under other circumstances. Steve grimaced and repeated his question.

 

“Upstairs.”

 

“Okay. Are they still a threat?” the boss stressed impatiently.

 

“Nah. Mad. Really mad.”

 

“They’re mad. What did you do to them?”

 

“Handcuffed ‘em. Alice and Trent. Cuffed them. Disarmed them.”  He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a revolver.

 

McGarrett snatched up his weapon. “Good work, Danno.”  He patted his friend on the shoulder, proud that even in diminished condition, Williams managed to save their lives. He was anxious to hear the details of the story, but for now it was enough that they were all alive. “I’ll go up and check it out,” he decided, before allowing Dora to head to the main level to call for help.

 

Trotting up the stairs, he was not surprised to find Mrs. Bergman at his heels, and knowing it was a waste of time to convince her otherwise, he cautiously peered around the corner of the basement door. Grunts, groans and curses could be heard close by. Warily scanning the area, he, with Dora in his shadow, followed the noise to the living room.

 

Alice and Trent Overton were wrestling around on the floor. Each had one hand cuffed, connected through the ornate, looped handle of the massive wood door. It was almost enough for amusement, but he was far too angry with these two criminals to find any humor in their plight.

 

McGarrett exchanged a relieved grin with Mrs. Bergman as he told her to call for an ambulance.

 

NNN

 

“I think this is where I came in,” Dan groaned as he accepted the medicine in the cup from a heavy-set nurse. After gingerly downing the meds with a sip of water, the detective let his head drop back onto the pillow. With a brief nod at the Bergman’s, the duty nurse slipped from the room.

 

“At least, your newest injuries were remarkably minor, considering,” Doc Bergman almost cheerfully related. Dora nodded slightly as she stood next to her husband at Williams’ bedside. Niles, attired in an orange and green aloha shirt, which matched Dora’s muumuu, was taking a few days off to let his bruised ribs heal, but the couple stopped by the hospital the morning following the Overton’s arrest to check up on their detective friend.

 

McGarrett, atypically dressed as well in one of his trademark long-sleeved luau shirts, stood on the opposite side of the bed from the Bergmans. His eyes narrowed in accusation. “What I’d like to know is WHY you didn’t bring your suspicions to my attention before we were overrun with the enemy.”

 

“I’m sorry, Steve – it just seemed so preposterous – so much of the evidence pointed towards Donaldson.”

 

“Hmmm,” Dan’s eyes were shut, but he was clearly listening. “Yeah, the body in the guy’s freezer was pretty incriminating.”

 

“Nevertheless, you didn’t share everything you knew!”

 

Dora remained quiet as her spouse weakly defended the two of them. “Dora’s feeling was ALL we had to go on – and it certainly didn’t match up with any facts we had at the time.”

 

“What exactly do you think Danno had to go on? That’s what we do sometimes – follow our instincts in the face of contradictory evidence!” The Five-0 chief’s tone grew sharper as he considered the possible outcome. “If Danno hadn’t decided to chase down a tourist wearing Mystery Aftershave, and followed through on a troubling image it brought to mind, the three of us – and Emma Kumar – would probably be sleeping with the fishes!”

 

“Steve,” Dan grimaced. “Could you take it down a few decibels?”

 

A hint of chagrin momentarily washed over McGarrett’s features as he responded with a light touch to his friend’s arm. “Sorry, Danno.”

 

“Don’t be too hard on Doc and Dora, Steve,” Williams requested. “It just took Doc a little extra time to give in to his woman’s intuition.”

 

With the humorous plea lodged, the Five-0 chief felt a measure of his own humor returning. Danno was on the mend, and the twisted truth in a complicated case had been uncovered.

 

With a sigh, McGarrett abandoned his chastisement of the obviously contrite couple. “I want the two of you to promise me that you’ll retire your gum shoe ways, and leave the field work to us.”

 

Bergman nodded.  “No more playing Mister and Missus North.”

 

“We promise, Steve,” Dora replied innocently. Niles nodded his concurrence, and then made fleeting eye contact with his wife as his hand covertly slipped behind her back and gently uncrossed her fingers.

 

 

PAU