By Peg Keeley
The ground was still wet from the light rain that had fallen earlier in
the evening. The black Cadillac passed the alley silently; even the tires
did not make a sound as they passed through a shallow puddle.
"Go around again," the young man commented quietly from the
back seat and without a word, the driver began to circle the block again.
As he turned the steering wheel, Bruno Luccio made no comment, and was
relieved at his superior's extreme caution. He was aware that the two
of them were way out on a limb, but he would also share in the wealth
if his young boss could succeed. And Bruno would not have allowed himself
to be pulled all the way to Hawaii if he had not had faith in his boss.
Eugene Caputo, Jr. relaxed against the leather of the back seat, watchful
of every shadow and motion. There was no room for chance in this business.
He could be patient. His dark eyes, close-cut black hair, and Chicago
accent would instantly betray his Italian non-Island heritage, but he
did not care. He thought he just might find great pleasure in proving
himself better than the Old Man. It had been over 12 years since the Caputo
Empire had attempted to stake a claim in Honolulu-and failed miserably.
The time of embarrassment and shame is over. Now it is my turn. I have
worked for three months to buy, steal, and tear by brute force every bit
of value from these local island mobs. Here I will build an empire of
The car completed its tour of the block. "Okay, Bruno," he said
tapping the front seat, "let's go in."
Bruno smoothly turned the car into the alley behind the topless bar. There,
in the dark shadows was a car parked beside the empty dumpster. Bruno
noticed that it was an old vehicle, the kind that poorly paid law officers
would drive. He smirked.
The silhouette of a man moved away from the small car towards the Cadillac
and slowly approached. Max Conner made no remark about the forty-five
minute delay, nor about the three times he'd counted the black Caddy circle
the block. He was not surprised or impressed. Junior has a lot to worry
about, and it isn't all from me. He made his approach a slow one as
he kept an eye open for any false move.
The one-way glass power window slowly lowered in the back seat revealing
the youthful, but steady face of Caputo. "Conner." It was not
a question as much as a greeting.
Max gave a half nod. "You need all this-" He waved a hand around
at the dark, dirty alley. "-sleaze to do business, Junior? An honest
man conducts things during the day."
Junior did not miss a beat. "Somebody's gotta work graveyard shift,
right? Some one who isn't a-scared of the dark."
Max mentally kept score - one point each side. "What do you want?"
he asked bluntly.
"Come inside," Junior invited.
"No thanks. I like the air out here better-the dumpster smells better."
"Each to his own, Conner." Eugene lit a thin cigar. "I
wanted to get a good look at the competition." He puffed the tobacco.
"If you're done, I'll be on my way." Conner turned, knowing
Junior would hail him.
"Say, Conner, aren't you even a little curious?"
Max looked back over his shoulder. "About what?"
"Not really." He feigned boredom and turned away again.
"Conner!" He called again. "My uncle warned me about your
He gave a loud chuckle. "But he didn't tell me McGarrett had turned
it over to a kanaka who is half black."
Conner stopped walking, but did not look back.
"I want to make you a deal, Conner," Junior said.
Max turned and came back to the window, eyeing Junior coolly. "You're
so afraid of this half black kanaka that you have to make a deal?"
Junior seemed openly displeased by the remark. "We could all get
rich, Conner. Me, you, the State."
"The State?" He laughed. "Now you are really reaching,
"There's a lot in gambling to be had here," Junior continued.
"Gambling's legal now. The State wants to get a good piece of this
pie and the Governor needs the right man running this business. Someone
like me who knows what it's all about. I can manage the casinos better
than any Islander can and you know it. You put in a word for me-make sure
the Governor gives me the bid-I'll give you a piece of my take. Twenty
Max gave a quiet whistle, leaning down by the window. "Pretty steep
talk, Junior. Twenty percent's quite a chunk."
Junior gave a benevolent grin. "How I see it, you're worth it, Max.
Besides, why be greedy? I think there'll be plenty for all. And the beauty
is it's all legal."
Conner noted that Junior had switched to a first name basis. "And
I don't suppose you want me to have Five-0 be sure to leave you alone
about the little things like crooked tables, huh? Not to mention your
drugs, whores, and child porn you've got on the side. That ain't all legal."
Junior grinned around his cigar. "Well - I know that's too much to
ask of an honest cop like you, Max. Why don't we just take it one step
at a time, huh?"
Max shoved his hands into his raincoat pockets. "Caputo, you renew
my faith in mankind."
He leaned in the window, staring Junior eye to eye. "You have lived
down to my lowest expectation. Junior, you are low life, of the same stuff
as your father and uncle before you. It was Five-0 where they met their
match and it will be where you'll meet yours. I'm glad our pressure on
you has you squirming so much you were desperate enough to try this little
rendezvous." He turned away and started for his car. "Maybe
we can find a way to turn up the heat a little more."
Junior glared at his back. "Don't you walk away from me, Conner!"
"So long, Junior." Max kept walking.
Without a word, Junior motioned to Bruno. Bruno rose from the car, a silenced
Beretta in his hand.
Max was almost to his car. He heard the sound as Bruno moved and began
to turn, his right hand closing on the grip of his .38 in the shoulder
harness. Bruno fired once, hitting Max in the back. Max fell across the
front quarter panel of the car in a gasp of pain. Bruno second shot struck
Max in the base of the skull and he collapsed in a crumpled heap on the
ground, blood mixing with rainwater, right hand still inside his coat.
Junior shook his head and drew in on the cigar. "Max, old boy, forgot
his history. My father took out half the Five-0 force before he started
screwing up. And I don't plan to screw up." He pressed the button
and the window slid up as the Cadillac pulled away.
There was repeated, rapid thumping on the
door. Out behind the barn, the sheltie, Doc, was barking and jumping wildly.
Steve McGarrett squinted and looked at the red numbers on the clock. 4:16AM.
The impatient pounding sounded again. He pulled himself out of bed and
fumbling in the dark for his robe. I'm getting too old for this stuff.
He yawned and slid his feet into slippers. All the years of habit
came back as he without thinking, removed the small .22 pistol from the
bedside table drawer, checked the load, and dropped it into his robe pocket.
Leaving the lights off, he walked to the front room amid the knocking
at the door, and peeked out the drape. Recognizing the visitor, he opened
the door. "Richard," he commented, noticing the open stress
on the young detective's face. "What's going on?"
Richard Quinn was young, blonde haired, blue-eyed; the sort that got sunburned
even in the shade. Steve had only seen him a handful of times and in every
one of them, Richard had been in a panic. This one was no exception. "Max
has been shot," Richard blurted in a rush. "It's real bad."
"I'll get dressed." Steve turned back towards the bedroom. Even
as he hurriedly pulled on slacks and a shirt, his mind was turning over
not just the immediate concern for Max, but the many tangled possibilities,
outcomes and causes. And then there was Nina. Nina has always been
afraid something would happen to Max - even when she no longer expressed
it outwardly I know she just prayed for the day he would use Five-0 as
his stepping stone into State politics. It's too bad that she never seemed
to understand that wasn't Max's goal. He stepped back out into the
front of the ranch house where Richard stood waiting for him.
As they started for town, Steve glanced at the young detective who drove,
keeping his eyes diligently on the misty highway in the pre-dawn hours.
"What happened, Richard?" Steve asked him.
"Owner of the Olive Pit stayed late to do some bookkeeping. He found
Max in the alley when he was headed for his car at about 2:50. Trash pickup
comes through there at 1:30. Sometime in that hour and a half Max was
there and took one in the back, one in the head."
"Why was he there?" Steve demanded.
Richard ventured to glance at him. "I don't know. Maybe an angle
of the racketeering."
Steve was silent. "Did you check his notebook?"
Richard scowled. "His what?"
"He keeps a small spiral-bound notebook in his jacket pocket. It
has his contacts, movements." Steve shook his head. He had never
seen Richard Quinn as Five-0 material. Quinn had been catapulted to a
moment of stardom when some whiz kid in forensics had determined it was
his bullet that had killed Clint Meyer, The Pele's Child serial killer,
three years ago. Meyer had died in a hail of lead, taking more than 25
shots. It was pure chance that Quinn's had actually done the job. Nevertheless,
the press had made him a local hero. The governor had pressured Max to
fill the vacancy in Five-0 with Quinn. Max is a great detective, good
lawman, but a poor politician. Masakaski is a vicious political shark.
It isn't too surprising Max can't stand up to him.
Quinn bounced the car through a pothole. "I-I'll have to look."
"Where is Max now?"
"Queens," Quinn offered. "Surgery." He shook his head.
"Doesn't look good, McGarrett."
"Gary and Kono have gone for her."
"Who is handling the crime scene?"
Richard looked at him blankly. "HPD?" It was more of a question
Steve ground his teeth. "Call Kono. Tell him to get over there."
"Yes, sir," Richard replied, snapping up the radio.
Yes sir? I warned Max, I begged Max to interview good people, to find
someone with experience to serve as his second-in-command. Now what? Who
takes the reigns? Richard? He choked on his own thought. Kono?
Gary? There is no one. Am I ready to fight my way back in there? I am
if the reason is to find Max's shooter.
They swung into the parking lot of the hospital and Steve was out of the
car and through the large double doors of the ER before Quinn got the
car turned off.
Steve needed no directions to where the surgery waiting area was. He'd
been there often enough in the past. He remembered meeting Nina there
with Max the night of Meyer's shoot-out. Shoving the memories away to
have the energy to deal with the present, he spotted Nina instantly.
Gary and Mandy Newman were seated on either side of her as she hunched
forward on the couch, wringing her hands, terror in her dark eyes.
"Nina," Steve said gently embracing her in a comforting hug.
She accepted the gesture, but there was the passing glint of anger in
her eyes. "I knew," she whispered quietly, "I knew in my
heart that one day it would come to this. I told you this would happen."
I suppose I deserve this. Max's appointment nearly cost him his
marriage and now it may have cost him his life. "He's a fighter,
Nina. And everyone is pulling for him." He glanced at Gary. "Any
word from the doctor?"
He shook his head.
Mandy drew Nina back to the couch while Steve huddled with Gary and Richard.
"What do we know?" Steve asked. Maybe if I am doing something
I can feel better.
"Shot sometime between 1:30 and 2:50AM," Gary said. "Don't
even have a slug yet. Kono went out to the site like you asked,"
Steve fired them each a glare. I should not have had to ask. "We
are going to find out who did this. I want you both thinking like Five-0
officers, not mother hens."
Color rose in Richard's cheeks.
Gary gazed at the tiled floor.
"What was he doing there?" Steve demanded.
They looked at each other, then Steve.
"He didn't say anything," Gary commented.
Can it be that Max was closed mouthed to his team? Maybe. Steve
reminded himself that Five-0 was no longer a group of blood brothers,
but a ping pong ball in Masakaski's political game. If Max was investigating
some kind of corruption would he have confided in these guys? Who would
he tell? Kono maybe? "Gary, you and Mandy stay with Nina. Richard,
you come with me."
Richard paled a little and hurried to obey.
The eastern sky was beginning to fade from velvet purple into a pre-dawn
pink as Steve and Richard arrived in the alley where Kono had HPD officers
crawling around on hands and knees.
"Still lookin' for one casing, Boss," Kono informed them. "Found
one." He slid the small brass cylinder out of the tiny paper packet.
Steve sniffed the casing and detected the faint odor of gunpowder. Recently
fired. "Good work, Kono." He walked over to where Max's
small red Escort still stood. He noticed the chalk-circled bloodstains
and notations on the pavement where Max had fallen. The chalk had blurred
some on the wet pavement. Steve walked across the narrow alley and examined
a greasy smudge on the concrete. A tired had passed through the oily grease
and left a partial tread print behind.
Richard came close, hands in his pockets. "Not much, huh?"
McGarrett glanced at him. "It's a lot more than we've gotten in some
Kono paced off the distance. "One cheap dude. Less than ten feet
away and shoots Max in the back."
"Yeah." Steve exchanged looks with Kono, then looked back at
Richard who shrugged.
"So, we already know that," Richard finally remarked impatiently.
"It means Max probably knew the person who shot him. He felt safe
enough turning his back. How many cases is he working right now that meet
that criteria?" Steve was pretty sure Richard would not know, and
the young officer did not make a guess. "Kono, have you got photos
of these tire marks?"
"Already done, Boss," he replied.
"But what if that tire isn't from the car of the guy who shot Max?"
Richard ventured to interject.
Steve lifted an eyebrow. "We don't know. But I do know that it rained
earlier in the evening, washing away earlier residue. We know the trash
people did not find Max, so he was shot after 1:30. That tire mark is
a car, not a truck, so it isn't from the trash truck. How many cars do
you think come down this alley?"
"Sometimes you play the percentages, Richard," Steve advised.
He pulled Kono to the side and out of earshot of Richard remarked to his
old friend. "I can't believe a guy like Quinn got into Five-0."
Kono gave a small grin. "Max saw something in him. Don't ask me what.
I kept telling him he needed to get a good number two guy."
"I did, too. I guess he never quite got around to it."
"He knew he always had you to go to for advice," Kono added.
"He could count on you."
Steve shook his head. "So here we are."
"Back in the saddle again, huh?" Kono remarked.
End Part 1
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