By Peg Keeley
The toast had burned. Audrey had dumped
a bottle of honey on the floor. Lonnie was still looking for his homework.
The clock warned them there were only five minutes before the school bus
Danny kept trying to get Audrey's strawberry blonde hair into a ponytail
but the tresses did not want to cooperate this morning.
"It's pulling!" she howled.
"Hold still," he snapped, trying to remember the tricks Mary
Lukela had offered him for dealing with the long hair. "Should have
made you cut it off," he muttered as the rubber band broke.
"No!" She howled again.
The phone rang once, twice. On the third ring, Lonnie dove for it. "Hello?"
"Lonnie," came Steve's voice down the line, "is your dad
"Hi, Uncle Steve!" He greeted happily. "Have you found
that book on the art history for my paper yet?"
"What? Oh, not yet. Would you get your dad please?"
Lonnie put the phone down feeling a little hurt. Steve obviously did not
want to spend time with him right now. "Dad!" he called. "Uncle
Steve on the phone!"
Danny abandoned the hair job and stepped into the kitchen, buttoning up
his own shirt. "What happened in here?" he grumbled stepping
into the honey.
"Audrey," Lonnie mumbled back.
"Clean it up, huh?" Danny took the phone. "Hello, Steve."
Lonnie wet a dish cloth and began to try to clean up the sticky honey,
wondering why Audrey wasn't cleaning up her own mess. He glanced at the
clock. They had just missed the bus. Great, somehow this will be my
fault, too. He tried to pick up on Danny's conversation, but the responses
were little more than monosyllabic grunts.
Danny hung up the phone.
"What is it?" Lonnie asked, pausing rag in hand.
He did not reply.
Audrey bounced into the room, a clip on either side of her hair, one high,
one low. "Look, I did it myself!" She tossed her head, her long
"You guys ready to go?" Danny suddenly asked.
"We missed the bus," Lonnie remarked gesturing towards the clock.
"What's the matter with you? Can't you tell time?" Danny muttered.
"I was cleaning up the honey," Lonnie reminded him.
He rolled his eyes and picked up his suit jacket. "Come on."
This is not a good day to have to take them to school. Lonnie is usually
more responsible than this.
"What did Uncle Steve want?"
"Just go get in the car, okay?"
Lonnie felt annoyed that his dad would avoid answering the question. "You're
treating me like a kid!" he complained.
"You are a kid!"
Lonnie turned on his heel and headed out of the door.
Danny picked up Audrey's backpack, handed it to her and headed her to
the car as well.
Lonnie was sitting in the front seat, glaring out of the window.
Danny got in, feeling the indignation across the seat. "Sorry, Lonnie,"
he said as he started the engine.
He nodded. "Okay."
Danny hesitated, then decided to share the facts. "Max Conner was
shot last night."
Lonnie turned to face him, his hurt feelings forgotten. "Is he okay?"
"No, he's not. I guess we'll have to wait and see." He turned
the car up the shell road onto the highway.
"But he will be okay, right?"
"I don't know, Lonnie."
Lonnie scowled and asked. "Are you and Uncle Steve gonna run Five-0
"I have a job, Lonnie, remember? I can't go running off to play cops
His lower lip pouted out. "I wish you were a cop again."
Danny just shook his head.
There was a traffic jam for two blocks around
the schools There always was. The high school, junior high, and elementary
schools were all on adjacent blocks and the conglomeration of buses, bicycles,
children on foot and inexperienced teenaged drivers was always a nightmare.
Danny hated the mess. He had to be in class by 8:30. A glance at his watch
told him it was not likely he'd be on time.
"Look, can I just drop you here and you and walk the couple of blocks
from here?" Danny suggested.
"Sure," Lonnie replied. He concealed his disappointment.
Audrey pouted. "I don't want to walk! It's too far! I'm tired!"
Lonnie hopped out of the car and pulled her from the back seat. "See
ya later, Dad."
Danny leaned across the seat. "I may be late-I'm going to the hospital
to see about Max."
Lonnie just nodded.
Danny pulled away, issuing a sigh. Is it just my imagination or has
life seemed to be getting confused lately? I really need to touch base
with Steve and see what's happening about Max. I've got a group of upper
class psych majors waiting for me - and I know I just let my children
down. He glanced in the rearview mirror, but Lonnie and Audrey were
already lost in the crowd of other students.
Lonnie held Audrey's hand as they crossed
the first block. He nervously glanced around at the crowd of kids. Maybe
they won't see me today. If I can just duck inside the elementary school
with Audrey it will be all right.
"Are you looking for Konito?" Audrey suddenly asked.
"No, why should I do that?" he scoffed.
Her eyes narrowed. "I don't like him. He said he was going to hurt
"Don't worry about him," Lonnie replied as much for his own
courage as hers.
"You should tell Danny about him," she commented in a motherly
Lonnie made a face. It bothered him when Audrey called his father 'Danny.'
And he liked her offers of advice even less. As the crossing guard waved
to them, he led her across the second street. They headed up the sidewalk
headed for the elementary school.
There was a jeering chuckle as Konito Ponana suddenly stepped onto the
walk directly in front of Lonnie, blocking their way. "Lookie lookie
who's got a cute little girl friend." Konito was in sixth grade like
Lonnie, but had been held back somewhere in his past, so was thirteen
while most of his classmates were a year younger. Lonnie was younger than
most of them having not yet turned twelve. Konito's large size contributed
to his ability to push nearly anyone around for he stood about five foot
eight and weighed close to one hundred fifty pounds. Right now he was
the last person Lonnie wanted to see.
"She's my cousin, my kaukini," he replied to Konito,
jutting his chin out to look fearless. He made a futile attempt to step
around Konito, who gently pushed him back.
"Hey, Rolli!" Konito hooted for his friend, "come look
at 'Iole iki's kaukini here!"
"She don't look like you!" Rolli laughed. He was a thin boy
who rarely bathed; it was rumored that had had no home but an alley. He
was inseparable from Konito. "Maybe there some hanky-panky?"
Konito grinned. "This little kanaka making like a haole by hanging
with 'em. That right short-stuff?" He shoved Lonnie's shoulder. "Hey,
wahine," he said towards Audrey. "Better watch out, some of
that Hawaiian dirt gonna rub off on your lily white skin."
Audrey's eyes were big and round. Lonnie pulled her behind him. "Leave
her alone, she's just a little kid."
Rolli slapped Konito's arm. "Come on, bruddah. Let's go."
Konito also spotted the large PE teacher headed their way and quickly
started away across the schoolyard towards the junior high across the
street. "Your time will come, 'Iole iki."
Lonnie let out a long breath. "Come on, Audrey."
"I'm sorry, Lonnie," she said with sincerity. "It's my
fault they pick on you. What was that he called you....okee something?"
"It's nothing," he answered as they passed through the large
double doors into the elementary school.
"But what does it mean?"
"I told you, nothing." He was not about to confess to Audrey
that Konito called him a little mouse. He looked back across the yard
to satisfy himself that Konito and Rolli were really gone. "I'll
meet you on the bus this afternoon. Don't be late. Dad won't be around
to pick us up if we miss the bus and it will be a long walk home."
Without waiting for a response, he stepped back outside and hurried towards
his school. He wasn't quite sure why Konito and his friends had singled
him out to torment. Konito was part of a gang called the 'Iwi o'po
'Ele'e'e and that was pretty frightening. Most of the students referred
to them as the Skulls. All kinds of stories and tales circulated about
'Iwi o'po 'Ele'e'e , Powerful Blood, Wela Ula, and other
groups. They keep telling us in school to stay away from these guys,
but how do I do that when one of them sits next to me in math class? Adults
really don't understand this. The first bell rang as he finished crossing
the street. He hurried his pace, knowing he'd have a bigger problem of
tardiness in one minute.
Danny glanced at the brass clock that sat on his office desk. It had been
a gift from Governor Moyer upon his retirement from Five-0 seven years
ago. There were times he wanted throw the thing on the floor. This was
one of them. They were running Max to death. The Governor wanted him
putting out fires in little places while the inferno of this gambling
issue raged out of control. It still does. I haven't been able to turn
over who is behind this and Masakaski has to appoint his comptroller within
a month. Okay, Max -- what had you learned? I need to get out to the hospital
and see if he can talk. I haven't heard from Steve. He doesn't answer
his phone. Where is he-at the hospital? At Five-0? He paused to consider
that for a minute or two. Who is in control over there? Who do I go
to or talk to? Is there any safe ground?
"This isn't the Five-0 that you
and Steve put together," Max had admitted sadly.
"Everything changes, Max," he had replied, hoping to discover
the situation was not as desperate has Steve had suggested.
Max grinned. "I am meeting you at the damned Seaworld, Danny. Seaworld!
I can't even trust that my own office isn't bugged. This isn't about
change. It is politics all the way. Masakaski wants to control everything
with an iron fist. Everything we do, every warrant we issue he wants
to know about first."
"And you tell him?"
"I have to, Danny-he's my boss!" Max hurled a piece of popcorn
at a seagull angrily. "I supposed I'm responsible for it getting
Danny did not reply. "I'd like to apply to come back."
Max gave a small chuckle. "Come back? We haven't got the money,
Danno. The governor has slashed our budget to the bone. I don't think
you'd like it; you'd be all tied up in red tape and you've always hated
Danny flexed his jaw muscle. "I can't just let this happen."
"The only thing I have wouldn't be a paying job. And as a father
of two-" Max stopped. "Look, Danny, I trust Kono, Gary, Richard,
but none of them have what it takes. They are known. Maybe you could
just pay visits to some of your old friends and get them talking-know
what I mean?"
That was ten weeks ago. And in ten weeks,
Danny had made little progress. His old contacts along the Coconut Wireless
either did not know or weren't saying and without the financial resources
for generous bribes, he had no leverage. All he could learn was "something"
was happening. He stared at his grade book and at the stack of composition
notebooks before him. He had twenty-five 2000 word essays to read and
grade in two days.
There was a light knock at the office door.
"Come in!" he called.
"Hi, you okay?" came a concerned female voice as Carrie Donagon
stuck her head inside.
He eased back in the office chair. "Good morning, Carrie, is this
She gave a soft smile. "Personal. Everything is flying about Max
Conner and I know you both are friends. You doing okay?"
"Sure," he replied quickly. Carrie, you always turn up at
the most interesting times. If ever there had been a love-hate relationship
in his life, the one was with Carrie Donagon was it -- if Danny did not
count Mali Kanae. Carrie was a reporter for KOAH and had dogged Five-0
for years as both support and menace. Since Danny left Five-0 and took
a teaching position, she had come by at fairly regular intervals for his
perspective on what might be happening in Honolulu law enforcement, politics,
and social events. A nervous truce had somehow mellowed out over the years
into a warm friendship. There were times he even fancied something more.
But not today.
"You know if McGarrett has any leads on who did this?" she asked,
sliding softly onto the comfortable chair facing the desk.
"That's a police issue, Carrie. I wouldn't know." He blinked.
"You said 'McGarrett.'"
Tickled that she had the scoop on him with his old friend, she nodded
enthusiastically. "He has been appointed temporary chief of Five-0."
His jaw dropped open. "What?"
"Well, it was pretty hard for Masakaski to do anything else,"
she remarked. "Who was gonna run the show? Gary Newman?"
"He's not a bad guy," Danny replied just to say something. His
mind was racing through this sudden turn of events.
"But he's no Steve McGarrett."
Steve back at Five-0. Masakaski did that? Why? To look good? I wonder
how much Max had told Steve about what was going on. I need to talk to
Carrie sat quietly in her reporter-like fashion. I can read you like
a book Dan Williams. You think your friend is in danger. I am so glad
you are a simple teacher with two children or it would be you running
back into harm's way right now. Do you ever feel the way about me that
I do about you? Finally she called his attention back. "My producer
would like me to do a story on McGarrett for the six o'clock news tomorrow.
Just a bit about his background, major achievements. All the great stuff
he's done for Hawaii. I thought maybe you could get him to grant me an
He lifted an eyebrow. Am I anything but a resource to her? A stepping
stone to the next big story. Maybe I should just ask her out to dinner.
I'm not sure at this age if I want to be laughed at. "I imagine
he's pretty busy right now, Carrie, but I'll ask him for you." It
also gives me an excuse to get a hold of him.
"I'd be eternally grateful," she replied. "Can I express
my appreciation over lunch?" I have tossed out the opportunity,
will you take it?
"Well, I really need to be finding Steve for you," he replied.
He took a second to glance at his schedule for the day. Don't read
too much into her offer, it's just a free lunch, not a proposition.
McGarrett had not taken the time for reflection
as he had hurried up the steps to the Iolani Palace, nor as he had climbed
the mahogany spiraling stairway inside. By the time he reached the second
floor, mildly out of breath, he had begun to have recollections of the
days past. He stepped through the doorway into the suite of offices and
it struck him like a fist.
Ginny looked up from her desk with a welcoming smile. "Hello, Steve.
Any word on Max?"
"Out of surgery; now we wait," he replied. But his gaze drifted
towards the solid wooden door with the gold stenciling of Maxmillian F.
Conner where it was once lettered with his name. It seemed to suddenly
take a very long time to reach the door. "Ginny, get the team in
"Yes, sir," she replied instantly.
He opened the door pausing to consider this must be strange for Ginny
as well. The desk had been moved to the right side of the room, no longer
facing the door. Max had football pictures and memorabilia everywhere.
The lamp on the desk was embedded into a full sized football with signatures
of the Dallas Cowboys. There was an 8 x 10 of Max shaking hands with Tom
Landry behind the desk. There were two chairs arranged in an L formation
with the couch over near the door to the lanai. The coffee table contained
what appeared to be an unlimited supply of Sports Illustrated magazines.
Steve stood in the room in a dreamlike trance where everything was familiar,
yet somehow different. Very slowly he walked over to the desk and sat
down in the old familiar chair and was face to face with the beautiful,
smiling face of Nina Conner.
The door opened. "You wanted me, Boss?" Kono asked -- just like
"On their way."
Steve opened the file drawer in the desk feeling a little like he was
violating someone else's space. "Kono, do you have any insight on
what Max was working on?"
"I know he was going through the Governor's list of candidates for
the gambling directorship."
"Do you have the list?"
"Pretty short list, Boss. I know there were only four or five people
"Who are they?"
He shrugged. "I dunno. Max was pretty hush about it. Was handling
it all himself."
"Pretty big task."
"Yeah." Kono licked his lips in discomfort. He casually took
out a notepad and scribbled something on it he slid across the desk. The
office is bugged.
Steve gave a start. Before he could give a response, the door opened to
admit Gary and Richard. Steve reached out and crushed the note. "Welcome,
Gary gave a grin. "Like old times, huh, Steve?"
He did not give a cheery response. "Until Max can get back on his
feet, the Governor has asked me to fill in."
Richard puckered his lips and gazed off at an invisible spot. He alone
knew he had jeopardized his very life by approaching Masakaski and insisting
on Steve's return. I don't like McGarrett. He scares the shit outta
me. But he is honest. I know he can be trusted and I would not have lasted
twenty-four hours as head of this mess.
"Do we have anything at all about Max's shooter?" Steve asked.
"I traced the tire tracks," Gary offered. "It was a brand
new tire, just put on. Kelly brand. Most recent purchaser is Hertz Rent-a
"Just because it was new doesn't mean it was just purchased,"
Kono remarked. "Those rental offices purchase large quantities and
keep them for months. And Hertz wasn't the only purchaser of tires."
"So, do we have anything from the tires?" Richard asked impatiently.
"We know the size of the car," Gary answered. "Full-sized
Chevy or Pontiac. Narrows it down to only four types."
"It isn't much," Steve agreed, "but it is a starting place.
Check with the rental agencies and see if any familiar names turn up renting
cars that fit our description. Gary, you and Richard get on it."
That's twenty places," Gary said with a sigh.
Steve forced a grin. "Best that you start soon then. Full-sized Chevys
and Pontiacs with new tires."
Richard reached into his pocket. "I have Max's notepad -- it was
in the safe at the hospital with his stuff."
Steve stuck out a hand for it and Richard passed it over. "It --
um -- is mostly about Max's background checks on the three candidates
for comptroller in the gambling casinos. There's been a lot of -- unrest
-- in the local mob. Legalized gambling is eating into their profits.
Everyone wants an in with that new comptroller's job..." Richard
seemed to run down.
Steve's eye quickly scanned the three names. Eugene Caputo stood out like
it was in neon lights. "Dear God." He felt his head swim with
shock. He looked up at Kono. "Caputo," he uttered.
The silence was deafening. The pen Steve had been holding slipped from
his fingers, fell to the desk, rolled across the surface and dropped to
the floor. No one moved to retrieve it. No one moved at all.
"Junior," Richard managed to say. "Eugene Caputo,
Junior. Not the mobster."
Kono and Steve still stared at each other, both lost in the hideous memories
of tortured and slain co-workers. "Kono, did you know this?"
Steve whispered urgently.
He managed a negative shake of his head.
Richard cleared his throat. "This isn't what you think, McGarrett.
This kid comes clean from the mainland -"
"Shut up, Richard," McGarrett snapped, pulling a small address
book from his pocket. On the last page was a list of current phone numbers
for every member and former member of Five-0 now alive. I always prayed
I would never need this. By God, the day has come. He dialed the Lukelas
first. As the phone rang he turned to Gary. "I want surveillance
on Caputo twenty-four hours a day."
"Already done, Boss," Gary replied quickly heading for the door.
He glanced at Richard. "I want everything Max had on Caputo."
Richard nodded and turned to make an escape.
"And," Steve called him back. "I want everything on him
since birth from the mainland."
Richard nodded again.
Mary Lukela's voice said hello over the phone line.
"And," Steve called after him once again. "I want every
minute since he got off the plane accounted for -- you got that, Quinn?"
He nodded anxiously again, this time making his escape good as Steve turned
to the phone.
"Hello, Mary," Steve said quietly. "I need to speak to
Duke." He glanced at Kono. "Find Danno. Call Carew-" he
shoved a phone number towards Kono. "I think he's in Detroit."
The small cafe did not offer the scenic Hawaii or the romantic atmosphere
that the Hua Lanai would have, but it was convenient to the University.
For that reason, students and faculty alike frequented it. Danny and Carried
shared a small table.
Danny squeezed a thin red stream of ketchup into a small puddle beside
his fries. "So what do you want from me, Carrie, -- besides the interview
She gave an exaggerated wounded look. "You make me sound positively
He gave a chuckle. "Everything has a cost with you, Carrie. It always
She took a sip of her Pepsi. Gee. I feel all tongue-tied like a schoolgirl.
"Can you give me some history about Five-0?" She focused her
eyes on the straw and poked it up and down through the ice. If I look
at him he will certainly see the attraction in my eyes. Is that so bad?
"History? What kind of history?"
"The kind that isn't in the newspaper archives."
He stuffed a pickle back into his hamburger and said a bit coldly, "Steve
doesn't have any dirty laundry, Carrie. He's never gotten a girl pregnant
or had a hidden addiction problem."
Her cheeks reddened. This is going wrong. He's angry, I can tell. We
both know his past. What is he really saying here? That McGarrett is a
better man than he? O, don't be hurt, don't be offended! "I'm
not looking for smut," she replied. "Please, Danny." She
dared to look at him. "I really want to do a friendly thing here."
Their eyes met and he broke the contact first. I need to back away
from this. It could never work. Not with her, not with Carrie. She's all
business, no play. If she knew how I felt, she'd laugh me out of this
He's afraid. What is he afraid of? Me? Could it be....don't read so
much into everything, girl, you'll mess this up before it begins.
Carrie struggled to get back to her task "Why did McGarrett come
to Hawaii in the first place?"
Danny spent a fraction of a second redirecting his focus from his thought
to the question. He shrugged. "Ask him. He was stationed here with
NIS and Governor Jameson talked him away. I think that was in 1960. One
thing led to another."
She jabbed a fork into her salad. "Kono Kalahuna-wasn't he an original
He nodded and chewed a bite of burger. "Kono could give you some
of the early stories. There are some pretty good ones."
She scowled. "Chin Ho Kelley was the other guy who started with the
department. Somewhere I read that he was supposed to have been the chief."
Danny shook his head slightly. "No, it was always Steve. Chin told
me once that he had been one of several that recommended Steve. He said
it was great getting to hire his boss."
She smiled. "Can I quote that?" He is relaxing some. Good,
"Sure," he agreed with a light laugh, also pleased the conversation
"Kelley died in an undercover on the job if I recall," Carrie
clarified. "That has to have been a terrible moment for McGarrett."
"A lot of us died on the job, Carrie," he commented soberly.
There was a moment's hesitation. "He cares about his men a lot, doesn't
he?" she said quietly.
"Very much," Danny replied. And sometimes too much.
Carrie wanted to ask him about more detail, but was afraid to. She'd seen
the clippings in the paper morgue and knew the stories about McGarrett's
sacrifices for his team. But she had also read about his bull-headedness
and stubborn streak. So which is the real McGarrett? "Is McGarrett
tough to work for?"
He issued a thin smile. "He has an eye for detail. He is very good
at what he does. And he will bring in Max's shooter."
"That is not what I asked."
"I know, but it is what I am going to answer," he supplied with
"Does McGarrett have family?"
"Just a sister in California."
He gave a chuckle. "Me?"
"Isn't he godfather to Lonnie?"
He nodded. "If you put it that way -- yes, we are his family."
She gave a momentary hesitation. "And there has never been a candidate
for Mrs. Steve McGarrett?"
He laughed outright. "Candidates? Heavens yes -- by the score --
or at least they thought so. But Steve has never married, although I think
there might have been one or two times he was tempted."
"In light of what's going on with Conner right now, maybe McGarrett
made the right choice," she commented quietly. And I am so glad
you are out of police work forever, dear friend. I could never tolerate
being married to a cop. "What has he been doing since he retired?"
"Trying his hand at cattle ranching."
Carrie issued a giggle, placing her hand over her mouth. "Sorry --
I am just imaging him with that granite stare hollering at some cow: 'Freeze!'
Does he like it?"
"I guess you can ask him that question, too," Danny laughed.
"You probably know him better than anyone. What kind of a friend
has he been?"
What a loaded question, Carrie. "The best," he answered
Movement in the corner of his vision caught his attention as two uniformed
police officers entered the restaurant.
They spoke to the hostess who gestured over towards Danny and Carrie.
"Gee, you have any outstanding tickets?" Carrie asked noting
the men were obviously looking for them.
"Maybe they are your tickets," he snorted.
The officers were at the table and one spoke. "Excuse the interruption,
Dr. Williams. Steve McGarrett of Five-0 needs to speak with you right
That didn't take long. He nodded. "Okay. I'll be by in just
a little bit."
"No, sir. With all due respect, he requested you accompany us now."
"He what!" Danny demanded in mild shock and surprise.
"He asked with all due respect," the policeman repeated, looking
Carrie looked surprised as well. "Go ahead, Danny, I'll get the check."
He frowned as he rose. "Wait just a -- Carrie, just hang on here."
"You need to come with us now -- please," the second officer
said with great politeness.
Please? Please?! What the -- It seemed there would be no answers
without complying, but Danny determined he would get to the bottom of
"Steve! What is this all about! You haven't had my tail hauled in
here since the Stevens case in 1978!" Danny shouted as he burst through
the door of Steve's office. He had been in the office after Max's redecorating
many times, but it seemed odd to have Steve the one flanked by the football
lamp. "I was in the middle of lunch!"
"With Carrie Donagon," Steve added.
"What difference does that make?" Danny demanded.
He shook his head. "O, none, none." He let the serious tone
creep in. "I really am sorry for embarrassing you, but you need to
"What? Max hasn't-"
"No, he's unchanged," Steve hurried to add. "Max was checking
out the governor's list of comptroller candidates."
Danny did not voice that he was aware of this. Does Steve know the
office is bugged?
Steve held out the slip of notepad paper with the three names.
Danny's jaw dropped as he saw Caputo's name. He stared back at Steve,
the stunned look of horror plain on his face. "My God." My
kids! Are my kids safe? I need to protect them. What do I do? Where can
I place them without terrifying them in the process? Maybe I want them
afraid. Fear will keep them safe...
"...Danno," Steve was saying quietly.
He looked at McGarrett. "I -- I'm sorry, Steve, what?"
"There is a twenty-four hour a day watch on Caputo. If you want police
protection for yourself and the children I will see to it."
A vision of Audrey and Lonnie in school under police guard flowed past
Danny's imagination. I cannot permit Caputo to destroy my family, to
terrorize my children. I must try to keep their lives normal. "I-I'll
notify the school officials to keep an eye out for anything abnormal.
Let's not frighten them. I'll talk to campus police. I'd rather not upset
my classes either."
Steve was aware Danny was attempting to be logical and brave with a situation
that was cowardly and illogical. "Don't let denial rule in place
of common sense, Danno."
He snapped his attention up. "It's fine, Steve. Thank you for telling
me." He hesitated. "How about coming by the house tonight?"
He is trying to tell me something. "I'll be there," Steve
promised. "Tell Lonnie I'll bring that art book tonight."
Lonnie passed through the end of the cafeteria
line, grateful that he'd had money today to pay for lunch. He looked around
the crowded, noisy lunchroom for a place to hide and eat. I hate lunch.
Kids are supposed to love lunch, but I hate it. I wish I could just go
do something else. I hate the way they all look at me like I'm stupid.
Everybody knows about Konito, and that he keeps trying to get my lunch
money. I know they laugh at me. I wish I wasn't the smallest guy in school.
It just isn't fair. He noticed a single seat in the far left side
of the room near a window and started that way.
"Hey, Lonnie!" called a voice.
He turned towards the sound and recognized BJ waving wildly at him from
the center of long table of kids.
"Come over here!" BJ shouted boisterously as he shoved the boy
next to him. "Move over, Kimo."
Grumbling, Kimo slid a few inches to the side, just barely enough to allow
Lonnie to join the group.
Wishing BJ had just left him be, Lonnie squeezed into the spot. "Sorry,"
he muttered to Kimo who returned a glare at him. Why can't I be like
BJ? Guys like him. Why should I want to be like BJ? I miss things the
way they used to be. He struggled to open the milk carton. I wish
it was just me and Dad again. Since Audrey came he's always so busy. He
has meetings stuff and I have to stay home with Audrey. It just isn't
fair. I wish I had some friends. If Audrey wasn't here Dad might be with
the police looking for Max's shooter and maybe I could help. For a
moment he envisioned himself single-handedly overpowering a huge, ugly
man and turning him over to the police amongst the praise of his fellow
His attention snapped back to the depressing lunchroom. "What?"
BJ gave a grin. "You were a thousand miles away."
He shrugged and peeked at the green brown pile on his plate. "What
is this stuff?"
"Some kind of broccoli-I think." BJ jammed the solidified mashed
potatoes with his fork. "Konito really got you today, huh?"
Lonnie did not reply. He opened the ketchup packet and ate the ketchup.
"Everybody knows, Lonnie," BJ whispered.
Lonnie wished he had ignored BJ's seating offer. "So?" he tried
to pretend he did not care.
BJ opened his milk effortlessly. "So, you think you're the only guy
who ever had to walk a little kid to school?" He waited for a second.
"Konito and his guys always hang out on that corner. They know you'll
come through there."
"They're always looking for anybody," Lonnie commented uselessly.
"They're always looking for you," BJ said pointedly. "You
Lonnie opened a sugar packet and poured it into his mouth. He washed the
granules down with a swallow of milk. "I'm an easy target,"
he muttered, hating that BJ was making him relive this. I should just
walk away. But he didn't. BJ is the first guy to show any kind of interest
in me at all. If I walk away, I'll be alone again.
"Yeah, you're an easy target," BJ agreed with a smile. "You
gotta get yourself a defense. You gotta get with a bunch of guys."
"Face it," BJ continued, sounding like a salesman. "You
are short, you don't weigh half of what Konito does and you're younger
than almost everybody, too."
There were giggles from around the students near bye.
Embarrassed at having this spelling out so plainly amongst so many ears,
Lonnie's cheeks reddened. "Tell me something I don't know,"
he remarked coldly, trying to imitate a look he'd seen Uncle Steve use
to show he was in control. Control? I just wanna get away from here.
I hate lunch, I hate school, I hate BJ. Maybe I can be sick tomorrow.
"Don't be mad, Lonnie, I'm trying to help you here," BJ offered.
"I know some guys who can help you."
Lonnie gave up on the sorry lunch. "No thanks." He rose with
his tray and headed for the trash line.
BJ followed him. "Wait up." He cornered Lonnie close to the
door. "I'm trying to be a buddy here. Everybody needs his pals, Lonnie.
I got friends who look after me." He tugged the edge of red fabric
in his pants pocket. "I'm bigger than you and I need my insurance."
Lonnie shook his head again. "I can take care of myself, BJ. Nobody
does something for nothing. You're talking about the Wela Ula,
BJ's eyes narrowed. "You think this a DARE class or something, Lonnie?
This is middle school, man, and you are in the lowest spot. You are too
little for a jock, too smart to be popular, you don't even belong in sixth
grade cause you're younger than everybody, damn you're even a half-breed.
Who's gonna protect you from Konito? The school choir?" BJ gave a
snort of disgust.
Lonnie pushed past him, towards the hallway, praying BJ would not see
the hot tears of anger that burned the back of his eyes.
"Be that way, Williams," BJ called after him. "Someday
Konito is gonna knock your block off and you'll wish you had some buddies.
You'd better loosen up and get a lot more likeable!"
The bell rang mercifully drowning out anything else BJ might have added.
Lonnie fled towards his Science class, BJ's words still echoing in his
ears. Likeable? Maybe that's it. I don't feel likeable.
End Part 2
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