Blood Brothers
By Peg Keeley

Part 8


Steve met Louie in the hospital lobby and Louie handed him the .38. "He was just tryin' to scare Junior," Louis lied. "He didn't mean anything."

Steve shook his head. "Thanks, Louie. You did some quick thinking." He got onto the elevator, looking at the weapon in his hands. I know Danny would have killed him, I don't need Louie lying to try to settle my nerves. It is so easy to see the calm, easygoing Danny and miss the other side. The Danny who nearly beat an attacker to death with a baseball bat in college; who attacked a suspect when Linda was killed then when the real killer was found beat him so bad the guy ended up in the hospital. The Danny who had hacked a man to pieces on the island northwest of Niihau....

Steve forced himself to stop thinking of the past. The elevator door slid open and he slipped the gun into his jacket pocket. He spotted Danny in the solarium right away. He sat looking at a copy of Time without reading it. There was another family present.

Danny did not look up although Steve knew he was aware of his arrival.

"Danno," he said quietly, but with an undertone of straining to control himself. "Let's go get some coffee."

Danny tossed the magazine aside and without a word followed.

Around the corner was a small table and two chairs by the candy machine. "Well?" Steve said quietly.

"I know it was stupid," Danny muttered.

"Stupid!" Steve fought to keep both his voice and emotion under control. "Stupid doesn't half fit it. How about moronic? You threatened him, you put a gun in his face. You know how many criminal laws you broke, not to mention civil ones? Junior has already contacted his lawyer about having you arrested and is threatening the department with a multi-million dollar law suite. You aren't even on the insurance!" Steve stopped, wondering why he sounded like a business man. "You plotted to kill him," he added more quietly. "Danno, I don't know how we're going to save your butt this time."

"Don't try, all right?" he replied. "There is no excuse, okay? I just -- I just could not bear to have him get away with this! I don't think I can live with allowing that to happen, Steve. I'll go nuts."

Steve nodded. "I understand, Danno, you know that, I understand more than anyone else could. You are over-tired, over-involved. You are out of this once and for all. It isn't hard to justify that you are cover come with the circumstances of Audrey. That will buy time for a bit and by that time maybe we can ensnare Junior for Max's shooting."

Danny did not argue.

Steve sighed as he gazed at his friend. This all out of control. Duke is running around undercover, I need to be at Tutu's funeral with Kono and Gary in two hours. Now I'll have to send Richard to Maui. Louie's cover is blown. Does anything go right anymore?


Lonnie got out of the cab downtown across the street from where he remembered Ikaika worked in a garage as an auto mechanic. He had to find out what was happening and why they had hurt Audrey. Maybe it wasn't my brothers, maybe it was the 'Iwi o'po 'Ele'e'e. Maybe Wela Ula will help to make this right.

From where he was replacing the shocks on a pickup truck in the garage's bay Ikaika had spotted Lonnie leaving the taxi. He tossed the wrench aside with a grimace on his face. I don't want this boy here. He's trouble. He don't know what I have. I just need to look okay through this day and then get offa this island with my gold. If this kid ratted on Mu, Mu may rat on me. "Koko," he greeted without happiness.

Lonnie remembered the handshakes, backslapping and joy of two nights ago. Now was so different.

"What you doin' here, Koko?" Ikaika asked.

Lonnie pulled the end of the red bandana from his pocket. "We're brothers right? You said that, Paul said that."


"Who hurt Audrey?"

Ikaika grunted once and walked back into the garage. "Who hurt Audrey?" He sounded evasive.

Lonnie followed him. "You know she was shot."

He shook his head and picked up the wrench again, and gazed at the underside of the truck. "Everybody know that, Koko."

"But you know who did it, don't you?" Lonnie persisted.

"You shot her, Koko. You did it," Ikaika answered.

Lonnie nearly fell down in shock. Then it is true! I did this! I caused this! How? "But -- how? I didn't do anything. I didn't tell on Mu! I promised I wouldn't and I didn't!" Tears sprang to his eyes.

"Really?" Ikaika glanced at him, then turned towards him, the wrench still in hand. "You betrayed us. This is a brotherhood -- not the Boy Scouts. Your word means it all, Koko. You keep your word like a haole. Bood doesn't betray a brother. Betrayal is punishable by death."

Lonnie shook his head in confusion. "But I didn't tell! I didn't!"

"They picked up Mu the very next morning for that old man's murder," Ikaika snared. "Your old man led the cops right to him!"

"Murder!" Lonnie gasped, open-mouthed. "Mu said the man wasn't hurt!"

Ikaika hesitated, wondering if he had said too much. "You ran straight home and told your old man everything. Five-0 picked up Mu right at his house. They knew right where to go."

"But it wasn't me!" Lonnie pleaded.

"Then who did it?" Ikaika demanded.

He raised his hands. "I don't know. But you can't just go around shooting people for no reason. Audrey didn't do anything to you!"

"Betrayal cannot be tolerated, Koko. An example has to be set. She's a haole anyway."

Lonnie stared in shocked horror. "She's just a little kid!"

"Look," Ikaika raised the fist holding the wrench. "What's done is done. If you didn't turn over Mu, well I guess we made a mistake. She's gonna live, so everything is square, right? I'll get Koa to tell her sorry."

"Koa?" Lonnie whispered remembering that was Paul's brother name. Paul? Paul who saved me? Paul who had Audrey make shell necklaces with his girlfriend? Paul? Paul was my friend. A cold feeling of betrayal gripped him. I trusted him, I thought he was a friend. He just used me for what? He remembered the break-in at the house. No one else was small enough to get through that pipe. They just wanted me to get into that house. "You just used me to get into that house. I'll bet the Skulls don't even live there!"

Ikaika gave a small grin. "Guess that doesn't matter now either. You listen good, Koko." He brought the wrench up close to Lonnie's face. "There better not be any more mysterious policemen showing up -- you got that? You in this and that is for life. You were in that car when the old guy bought it. You were the one who broke into the house. You squeel on us, you do in yourself. Next time anybody gets arrested, we gonna assume it's you -- and it will be your last mistake. You get my point?"

Lonnie staggered backwards out of the garage into the hot sun, frightened and not knowing what to do. It was true, this really is all my fault. The knowledge was overwhelming and the guilt unendurable. Who can I turn to for help? There is no one. He felt alienated from everyone he knew. There seemed to be no way out. He recalled Danny's rage when discussing finding those responsible for Audrey's injuries. He will hate me. What will I do?


Bruno Luccio stepped out of the yellow Viper and waited for the two boys to show. Dealing with youth gangs is really pretty easy -- provided they keep their hands visible and you stay between them and your car. He did not have long to wait. He had found a member of the Black Skulls -- a skinny kid named Rolli who looked like he was hurting for crack -- and he was.

"You got something for me?" Rolli asked, wiping his runny nose on the back of his hand.

Bruno grinned. "Depends on what you give me." He waved the small packet of cut crack.

Rolli's eyes never left the drugs. "The kid's cousin is in the Wela Ula. He fell out with them." Rolli giggled. "Lonnie is such a simple kid anyway. He can't fight, can't do much. A sissy kid. Never knew why Paul took the kid in anyway."

"Paul? Paul who?" Brunco waved the packet by once again.

"Paul and Ikaika, they must have been getting money from the kid or something." Rolli licked his lips.

"So, who did the girl?"

Rolli giggled. "Ikaika and Paul had to make an example -- they had to avenge their buddy. Bunch of stupids in that bunch anyway," Rolli added.

"You tellin' me they shot the girl?" Bruno clarified.

"Yeah, yeah," Rolli made a little grab for the drugs and Bruno pulled them back.

"Where do I find these guys?"

"Paul's in school. Ikaika works a garage on Kapeolani Boulevard."

Bruno grinned. "Smart boy, Rolli." He handed him the packet. "My boss will remember you."

Rollie eagerly moved off with the crack.

"You'd better know how to hold your tongue -- or I'll cut it out for you," Bruno commented as he moved off, but doubted the boy even heard him.


Danny opened the door of the cottage reminding himself he had just an hour before the funeral. If Lonnie was awake, he'd give him the choice of going back to the hospital or going to the funeral. One hell of a choice. The answering machine beeped every few seconds. With a sigh, he walked over and pressed the play button.

"Danny, it's me, Carrie. Call me! I can't believe what Eugene Caputo is telling the press all over-"

He cut off the player. I don't need to hear that.

The little house felt empty, like no one had been there. He assumed Lonnie was asleep. He walked back to the bedroom and opened the door. The bed was unmade -- like usual -- and empty.

"Lonnie?" Danny called in surprise. He checked the rest of the cottage, the porch, then looked up and down the beach. He felt a sudden rush of panic. Someone has kidnapped him! He has to be here. Danny stood in the center of the living room for a moment, trying to collect his wits and make sense, locked in indecision as fear swelled in his chest and choked his throat. Then his eye fell on the wall where he kept Grandpa Willis' old shotgun. Or where it should have been.

"O my God!" he uttered. Realizing he had no idea where Lonnie might have gone, but that the boy might have gone after Junior himself, Danny grabbed the phone. It took a few desperate minutes to reach Steve -- he was on the car phone.

"Like father like son," Steve complained upon getting the story. "I'll notify Louie and get an APB out. I'll be there in just a minute to get you."

As he hung up the phone, Danny spotted something under the chair and picked up the scrap of red bandana. As he unfolded it, he noticed the writing 'Koko.' The echo of Mu's voice bellowing revenge against his gang member Koko sprang to Danny's mind. Lonnie? What has he to do with the Wela Ula? Did they take him? Who is this Koko? Is Lonnie Koko? He shoved the impossible thought away. Where is my son? My god, what is happening to us?


Nina was at peace. Days of exhaustion were taking their toll and she curled up on a couch in the solarium beside the ICU, no longer able to keep her eyes open. The memory of the look of reassurance on Max's face, the loving firm grip of his hand in spite of all the equipment that kept him alive allowed her to relax at last. I don't know how we will make it, I know our lives will never be the same, but we will be together. That is enough. She allowed sleep to take her in its embrace.

The nurse walked into the quiet solarium and stood watching the sleeping woman for a moment as the sun played across the vinyl flooring. She noticed how content and peaceful Nina seemed and felt a tidal wave of regret wash over her. It had been so quick. There had been no time. When I awaken her, her life as she knew it will end. With great reluctance, the nurse touched Nina's arm. "Mrs. Conner."

Nina awoke, alert, instantly. "Yes?" she replied expectantly. "Is Max awake?"

She hesitated. "Mrs. Conner....I'm sorry."

"What?" she gasped.

"Mrs. Conner," she repeated, "Max just died."

"What?" she repeated, feeling faint. "No, this is some kind of mistake. They said he was going to make it!"

"I am terribly sorry," the nurse said quietly, bracing herself for the pain. "He just stopped everything. We tried but..." She stopped speaking.

"No, no," Nina whimpered, then let out a wail of anguish.


Steve picked up Danny within minutes of his call. Just as Danny slammed the passenger's door, Steve radio spoke the voice of dispatch.

"I have a call from Richard Quinn," the man's voice advised.

"Put him through," Steve agreed. "Go ahead, Richard."

"Steve, we just took a call from a guy named Frank Pool; runs a garage over on Kapeolani Boulevard. Says he overheard an employee talking to a gang kid about Audrey's shooting. I was headed out to the chopper -- which do you want?"

"Skip Maui. See the guy at the garage."

"Yes, Sir." Richard's voice was high and intense.

He hung up the radio and sighed. "We'd better short-cut past that garage. Loui is out at Junior's looking for Lonnie, too. I just don't quite feel comfortable with Richard handling this. But when we get to Junior's you stay in the car." Steve declared in a tone that left no room for questions.

"Steve that shotgun hasn't been fired or cleaned in God knows how long. If he fires it, it will blow up in his face. It wasn't loaded and I don't have any shells for it. Somehow I don't think that'll stop Lonnie. He is pretty resourceful."

Resourceful enough to get himself killed, Steve thought hotly, regretting all the times he had shared his inventive cop stories with Lonnie. Which one are you acting out now, Lonnie? "We'll find him, Danno. It will be all right."

Danny tossed the red bandana across the seat to Steve. "It was on the floor. I don't know what it means. Maybe it's a calling card."

"Isn't this Wela Ula? Why would a gang focus on your place?"

Danny was quiet for a moment. "Wela Ula recruit in middle school."

"Meaning?" Steve glanced at him as he turned the car back onto the highway.

"I don't know. Maybe I don't want to know."

The car phone rang. "Get that, Danno."

Danny listened, stunned, to the message. "Okay, Duke," he murmured and quietly hung up. He turned towards Steve. "Max Conner is dead."

Steve thought he might drive off the road in shock. "What? What happened? They said he was doing better."

"I don't know. Nina's pretty hysterical. They've sedated her," he said almost without emotion. "Duke is with her." He wondered if he could feel any more pain, any more fear any more anxiety and dread than he was right this minute.

Steve felt the wrenching loss, the need to be with Nina right now, the need to be on the case that was unraveling before him, the panic about Lonnie. Everything is pressing in at once. This is a young man's job.


Richard parked his car in front of the garage and nonchalantly walked into the front office. He glanced around at the greasy grim and noticed a burly Hawaiian man sorting through a toolbox just inside the bay. "Are you Frank Pool?"

Ikaika looked up. "Nope. He's out getting a part. Can I do something?"

Richard hesitated. "Richard Quinn." He flashed his badge. "Five-0."

Ikaika made no emotional response. "Well, what do you want?"

Richard wiped the sweat from his forehead. "I need to ask Mr. Pool some questions. I'll wait."

"Suit yourself." Ikaika turned back to the car up on the lift.

Richard stared out of the front window of the shop, impatiently waiting for the return of the owner. If the guy knew I was coming, why did he leave? I just can't understand these locals. It is a whole different world here. Richard noticed the green and white sedan parked near the side and remembered a witness describing the car Audrey's shooter drove as being green and white. That one was supposed to be a Chevy -- this was an old Datsun. He walked outside to get a better look at the car, not sure what he expected to find. He turned back towards the garage. "Hey!" he shouted towards Ikaika.

He came out the garage, a large wrench in his hand. "What?"

"Whose car is this?"

Ikaika came close by Richard and looked in the car window. Richard copied him, also looking inside. As Richard bent down, Ikaika suddenly came up, swinging the wrench toward's Quinn's head.

In the last instant, Richard dodged it, astonished, and scrambled to the side. The wrench slammed into the doorpost, putting a large dent in it. Ikaika swung again as Richard again scrambled to escape, grabbing for his gun inside his jacket. Again the wrench crashed against the car, shattering a window. By now, Richard's .38 was in hand. "Freeze!" he shouted, panting in fear.

Ikaika stood before him, also panting and sweating, rage plain.

"Drop the tool!" Richard ordered, relieved to be in control.

Ikaika hesitated another moment before letting the wrench drop to the cement with a loud clank. "That little scum Koko is make. The brothers gonna see to it!"

"Whatever you say, pal," Richard remarked. "Who's Koko?"

He forced a half grin. "That's his name. Koko -- blood. Only he ain't no blood."

Richard finally got Ikaika handcuffed to the damaged door post of the Datsun just as Frank Pool arrived.

"What's happening?" Pool demanded.

"You Frank Pool?" Richard demanded.


"You know this guy?" Richard gestured toward Ikaika.

"Yeah -- he works for me." Pool looked at Ikaika. "Harry, you're fired."

"Pig," Ikaika snarled.

Across the street, a small group was gawking at the arrest in progress. Unnoticed amongst them was Bruno Luccio. Pleased that the police seemed to have sifted out Ikaika for themselves, he turned to follow up on the high school boy.


Lonnie had taken the bus downtown. The shotgun stuffed into the denium duffel looked awkward, but was not instantly identifiable. He stopped outside of the gun shop on 19th Street where Danny had taken him many times. The clerk inside knew them and he had decided how to use that to his advantage. A stranger might have hesitated to sell ammo to a minor.

"Hi, Lonnie," Hal greeted from behind the counter. "What's up?"

"Hi, Dad asked me to come down here for him and pick up some shells for this shotgun." He pulled it out of the bag. One or two patrons glanced in his direction.

Hal looked mildly surprised and scowled, but his attention was captured by the weapon. He took it in hand, hefting it with a low whistle. "Where did you get this beauty? It's got to be seventy years old." He sited down the barrel. "I've some shells for it -- but are you sure your dad asked you to do this?"

Lonnie wavered. "Well, yeah."

Hal frowned. "Lonnie, your dad knows it's against the law for me to sell ammo to you. I could lose my licence."

Lonnie let his shoulders sag. "Oh."

"How about the truth, Lonnie. What are you doing with this?"

"We were gonna go boar hunting over on Kaui -- I wanted to surprise him. I didn't know I couldn't buy the shells. I just wanted to do something nice for him -- you know." He adopted a pleading, innocent expression.

Hal sighed. "Well, you'd best get this cleaned first. Why don't you leave it. I'll clean it up and Danny can pick up the gun and the shells later."

"No," Lonnie said too quickly. "He's -- um -- gonna teach me how to clean it."

"Great idea. Teach good gun safety sense at your age." Hal winced. "Tell you what. I can't sell you the shells. I'll just give 'em to you. Danny can come by and pay for them later. How's that?"

"That's great!" Lonnie burst into a beaming smile. As he left the shop, the smile vanished and he felt terrible guilt. I tricked Hal. He's Dad's friend and I got him to do something wrong. It doesn't matter -- I have to make Paul pay for what he did. Dad said that people like him get away with shooting people. I can make it right about Audrey by shooting Paul. A bit of conscience pricked him and he pushed it away. I have to do this.


Anna Cason's concept of "morning" was more like early afternoon. Duke had risen around ten, straightened her couch, and rummaged through her cabinets enough to discover there was little that was edible in them. He'd walked down to the corner grocery, an act that had told him this would not be one of the good days for his back and legs ached by the time he'd returned. By noon, he'd prepared a small egg and ham breakfast hoping the aroma would arouse Anna and it did.

She was confused at first, then recalled why this gentleman was in her apartment. "Gee, you made breakfast," she commented in awe. "Maybe I should keep you around."

He smiled. "I'd need my wife's permission."

She sighed. "Figures." She munched on some toast. "I've had a chance to think about this whole thing and -- well -- I don't think the cops can keep me safe. Forever, I mean. Someday when the cops think this is all over then they will come for me."

"Who is they, Anna?"

She shivered slightly. "They -- you know -- the bad guys. I don't know how they are. And that's the point."

"Anna, you can identify the people who shot Max Conner. We can bring them to justice. There is no parole in cop shooting. We will keep you safe." He attempted to ooze sincerity. She has got to believe me.

She sighed and glanced away. "Well.....what if I can't remember what they looked like?"

"You can try."

She gave a small nod.

Duke used her phone to call McGarrett, but he was not in the office. When he called dispatch, the officer could not locate Steve. How do I get her downtown? Do I want to get her downtown? He remembered Max's apprehension about corruption in city hall. Never in my life have I done this, he thought as he reluctantly punched in a number on the phone. "Mary Honey," he said when she answered, "I need you to do something for me."

Thirty minutes later, Anna Cason sat on Lukelas' living room couch as a police artist, mildly confused at the irregularity of location, began to help her piece together the shooters of Max Conner.


Steve spun the black Lincoln into the garage lot, bouncing it over the side of the curb. It lurched to a stop and he was out, headed for Ikaika who stood in the sun handcuffed to his car. Richard, looking pleased with himself, was talking with two HPD officers who were completing the paperwork. Frank Pool stood to one side, arms crossed, a sullen look on his face.

McGarrett motioned Danny to go to Pool as he approached Ikaika. "What's your name?" Steve demanded of the young man, glancing over Richard's information.

He did not reply.

"What is this? Ikaika?" He squinted at it. "Strength, huh? You don't look very strong now. I've got another of your buddies locked up downtown. He calls himself Mu -- Brave. But he isn't so brave either."

Ikaika snorted. "What you haole pigs know anyway."

Steve held up the red bandana Danny had given him. "Your pal Mu is in Wela Ula. He's going down for the murder of a store clerk. Your boss over there heard you and another gang member talking about the shooting of a second grade girl at Cook Elementary. What do you know about that?"

"Nothin'," Ikaika muttered. "He didn' hear nothin'. He just a lyin' son of a bitch."

One of the officers handed Steve the latest readout and he took the time to look over it. "Says here you are Harry Kula. Is that your name?"

Ikaika looked at the ground in silence.

"Also says you're a three time loser. Shop-lifting, car theft and criminal mischief. That's before today -- before you were charged with attempted murder of a police officer and resisting arrest." Steve waited for it to sink in. "You're in big trouble, friend."

He spit on the ground. "You ain't my friend."

Steve gave a small smirk. "Let's add this then -- friend. Your vehicle matches the description of the one fleeing the shooting at Cook Elementary. You are going down on this one. Hard. If you'd like to make that landing a little softer, start talking."

Ikaika looked up at Steve. "Talkin' 'bout what?" The look in his eyes spoke volumes. He had no intention on cooperating whatsoever.

"Who else is involved in the Harven shooting?" Steve waved the bandana again. "Was it a Wela Ula event? Why?"

Ikiaka snorted agian. "Pigs. I'm not a rat. I'm not gonna fink on my brothers. I'm not like that little pu'u Koko."

Pool turned from speaking to Danny. "That's it! That's what he called the kid --Koko!"

"Koko?" Danny asked, the red bandana flashing before his memory.

"Yeah, the little kid that came in here -- he called him Koko. Said that the little girl was shot as a lesson to the kid," Pool explained.

Danny grabbed hold of Ikiaka. "Who is Koko?" he demanded angrily.

Ikiaka was unimpressed with Danny's rage. "You kiddin' right?" he remarked.

"Give me an answer!" He demanded, twisting the larger Hawiian prisoner's shirt.

"I want my lawyer!" Ikiaka shouted.

"Danno," Steve said quietly, pulling Danny back.

"Steve, I have to know!" he shouted.

McGarrett glanced at Richard Quinn standing uselessly by. "Get a public defender down here."

"Here?" Quinn muttered.

"Yeah -- let this strength boy stand in the sun for awhile," Steve commented. "Let his body odor help him live up to his name."

Richard went to place the call that was not well received in the public defender's office, but they were sending someone out.

Danny paced the distance of the car and back, unable to tolerate the delay. Koko, it cannot be! I need to find Lonnie and that shotgun! He turned back to Pool. "Did you see this Koko kid? Could you identify him?"

Pool shugged. "Maybe. Little kid under five feet tall, dark wavy hair. Hawaiian of course -- all those Wela Ula are Hawaiian."

"He was a gang member?"

Pool nodded. "Yeah -- I think so."

Danny fumbled in his pocket, nearly dropping his wallet as he pulled it out with shaking hands. God, please, please don't let this be true. Don't let this be happening. He pulled out Lonnie's school photo. "Is this the kid?" His heart was in his mouth, it seemed to stop beating. His chest ached, his knees shook.

Pool, ignorant of the intensity of Danny's emotion nodded casually. "Yeah -- that's the kid."

Steve spun around from Ikaika in shock.

Danny's breath caught in his throat, the color drained from his face, stunned past words. How can this be happening? Why is this happening? How could things get this bad and I never saw, never suspected? How could I have had no idea? Why didn't Lonnie talk to me? He remembered telling Lonnie how he would make those responsible for Audrey's shooting pay. He must have been so terrified! He thinks he is responsible for what happened! The torment! My God, where is he now? What is he doing?

"You okay?" Steve asked Danny.

"God Steve," he whispered in shock, arms weak, legs trembling. "It fits, dear God, it fits. It wasn't Caputo at all. Lonnie got mixed up with these gang kids. He must have known about the store incident. They figured he told us and made an example of Audrey."

Steve knew this was not the time to start counting the laws his godson had broken. We have to find Lonnie. If he was here, he may go after the rest of the boys involved in this shooting. He turned back to Ikiaka. "Who else was involved in this shooting?"

He smiled smugly. "Not from me, cop."

"Lonnie Williams is armed, Harry, he is going after your friends. Now who is he looking for! If you want your gang friend alive you'll tell me right now!" Steve shouted in the gang boy's face.

Ikiaka scowled, licked his lips.

"If something happens to your friend you will be an accomplice for not telling me right now. You wanna get your gang buddy killed?" Steve persisted.

Ikiaka sighed and murmured. "Paul. Paul Llano."


Bruno waited in his small yellow Viper for the high school to let out. He knew the kid's car and the white convertible sat in the student lot amongst the rest of the vehicles. Luccio checked his load on his pistol. He did not have a solid plan in mind, but was not anxious to create a second school shooting in a week. He'd rather take the boy some place quiet. He hoped this could be completed quietly.

A bell sounded from somewhere inside and within minutes the door were thrown open and students were pouring out at varying rates of speed. Some were literally running, glad to escape the confines of school. Others were more casual as they playfully pushed and shoved friends. Clusters of girls wandered slowly down the sidewalks tittering about the latest gossip. A few students came by discussing their assignments. There were couples, hand in hand, and in other places, teasing and flirting as they went.

Luccio glanced at the car. It was still empty. He wanted his quarry to show, but was pleased that the crowd was thinning out before he arrived. At last, the tall dark Hawaiian boy, wearing the classic gang red scarf came from the building. He called to one girl who giggled and waved back. He darted for the parking lot and jumped over the door into the driver's seat of the car.

Bruno grinned.

Then Paul stopped, hands in mid-grab for the wheel.

Something is wrong here, Bruno observed. He can't possibly know I'm here, can he?

In the car, Paul sat frozen as he heard the voice from the back seat of his car.

"You did it, didn't you?" Lonnie demanded.

"Koko?" Paul said quietly. He started to turn.

"Don't move," Lonnie warned. "I don't know too much about guns -- but I'm pretty sure this one can put a pretty big hole in you."

"A gun?" Paul attempted a smile. "You're kidding right. You just trying to scare me, Koko?" He again started to turn.

"Don't move!" Lonnie repeated.

"Okay!" Paul answered, trying to be calm. "So, let's talk then. Is that what you want?"

"Audrey. You shot her. Ikiaka drove and you shot her," Lonnie said, regret plan in his voice.

Paul tried to glance in the rear view mirror. Does this kid really have a weapon? "Okay, if you say so. Now what? You gonna blow me away?"

Across the street, Bruno was starting to get nervous. Why doesn't the kid move? Maybe he's got a sixth sense or something. Some of those gang kids are pretty quick. Does he know something is going down? Damn, I didn't want this to be on school grounds, but if that's the only way, then that's how it will be.

Paul felt sweat starting to collect on his brow. "Look, Koko-"

"Don't call me that," Lonnie snapped. "I'm not in your gang anymore."

"Okay," he tried to be passive. "Lonnie, look, you ratted on Mu, you were told not to."

"But I didn't! That old man died, Paul, Mu killed him!"

"He was just an old guy, Lonnie, he wasn't nothing," Paul tried to explain.

Lonnie shook his head. "He was a person! But I did what you said. I knew it was wrong, but I didn't tell!"

"Then how did they find out it was Mu?" Paul fired back.

"I don't know! Maybe -- maybe there was a video camera. Lots of stores have them."

"Video?" Paul paused. That had never occurred to him. He hesitated, realizing that survival was his biggest issue right now. "Okay, so what happens now, Lonnie? You gonna shoot me? You want me to turn myself in? What do you want? You want us to go to the police?"

"They won't make you pay!" Lonnie shouted recalling Danny's comments about the Caputos.

Paul spun in the seat to face Lonnie, inches apart. "Then just shoot me, damn it!" He was staring down the barrel of the shot gun. Damn that is a big gun! I've got to get this little kid to back down!

Lonnie licked his lips and just stared back.

Paul managed to crack a small smile. "Not so easy, is it?"

There was a motion as a car pulled away from the curb across the street from the lot and entered the lot from the far end. Paul, seeing a moment of salvation, quickly waved in its direction, hoping for help.

Luccio leveled his gun and fired.

In horror, Paul spotted the gun in the last instant and ducked. The bullet whined off the edge of the chrome on the windshield post.

In shock, Lonnie ducked down also.

Paul used the moment to turn the key, kick the car into gear, burning rubber as it slammed over the curb stop and down onto the street, the action throwing Lonnie to the floor in the back. Paul spun the car left and raced up the street.

Cursing, Bruno followed, his car streaking out into traffic as horns blared and brakes complained.

"Looks like if you wanna kill me, you'll need to get in line," Paul shouted back at Lonnie. "But if you'd like to take a shot at that guy you could save us both."

"Who is he?" Lonnie shouted back.

"I thought you knew!" Paul skidded around another curve as the yellow Viper closed the distance.

Luccio picked off one shot. It hit Paul's tail light. This is not going as I planned.


End Part 8

Part 9

Back to list