Mother's Blue Dress
Chin Ho Kelley entered the office of Steve McGarrett, four files under his arm. He laid them on the desk of his superior.
"Thank you, Chin," McGarrett replied from where he was writing a letter longhand.
The officer nodded and started to leave.
"Did you look at them?"
Chin nodded. "You asked me to. My report is there."
"His, too." Chin began to turn away again.
"Chin," Steve called him back. "I'd like to hear what you think."
Chin stood in the center of the room feeling mildly uncomfortable. He was not a man who chose to express his thoughts even when it was asked of him. In the four years he had worked for McGarrett, he had learned to trust this non-islander totally, but still knew when to keep to himself. "Shall I have Kono come in here, too?"
Steve placed the pen carefully down on his desk. "I already know what Kono thinks."
Chin nodded. Kono never hesitates to express what he thinks - for better or for worse. "The two officers recommended by HPD seem to have very good references. Frank Kamana has ten years on the force. Ben Kokua only has four, but he has a good head and excellent intuition."
"Intuition?" Steve repeated the last word. He picked up Kokoa's file. "Spent his whole life in Honolulu. Top 10% of his graduating class at the academy."
"Frank grew up on the north side of the island. Most of his family is still up there. Been decorated twice for valor on the force. Purple heart from the Marines in Korea," Chin added.
Steve picked up the third file. "This one?"
"Self-nominated," Chin shrugged. "Local boy. Played good ball in Princess Lulianai High School. Heavy-hitter."
McGarrett nodded. "What's he accomplished since then Chin?"
"Top 20% of his academy class. Good marksman. Solid officer. He really wants this job."
Steve sighed. "But the chief did not nominate him?"
"He's a uniform officer, Elliott only recommended detectives," Chin explained.
Steve nodded again. "Line the three of them up for interviews."
"Okay," Chin answered. "But - why?"
"Because my best choice may turn me down," he replied simply. "Besides, I want to keep all my options open." As Chin left, McGarrett opened the fourth folder. The enclosed letter came not from Honolulu, but San Francisco and was signed by Lieutenant Mike Stone. He'd met Stone only once, two years ago, but Stone was an officer cut from the same cloth as Steve and he trusted the man he had enlisted the support of two years ago.
He gazed over Stone's letter. I was right, Mike, he came home.
True to her promise, she had the cold beer on the side table by the wicker couch when Danny appeared fifteen minutes later. The yearbook from their senior year of high school had been placed on the couch.
"Memory lane?" Danny asked, picking it up.
"I have the chicken in the oven," she announced. "Lew won't be home for awhile yet. I thought it might be fun to - you know - remember the old days."
"Old days!" He sat down with the book on his knees. "You make me feel ancient."
She laughed and sat down close beside him, hips touching his. "You, dear friend, are not old." She reached across him, opening the book to the senior section.
He was aware that they were close together, very close. She is my best friend's wife; this doesn't mean anything.
She had said something, but he did not know what it was. "What ever happened to that little Hawaiian girl you used to hang out with?" she repeated.
"Huh? Oh, Mali? She, hum, went to the mainland. Wanted to make it big as a singer," he muttered.
"You know, there was a rumor that you and she ran off and got married," Marjorie told him.
He laughed. "Not hardly."
"Too bad you didn't stay here," Marjorie commented. "I mean, Lew has missed you a lot." She glanced at him. "It's not been the same around here. No laughs anymore."
"Well, I'm back now," he replied, feeling suddenly warm under the collar. "You and Lew been married - what - two years?"
She nodded with a small smile. "Two great years."
"No,um, little Morgans yet?"
"Lew doesn't want children until we can afford them," she replied. "We need a bigger house, bigger car and all that."
She sounds disappointed. "You want kids, don't you?" he observed.
Marjorie brushed it aside. "We've got lots of time." She glanced back down at the yearbook. "It was all so new then, Danny. Lew was going to really be someone."
"He really is someone, Marjorie."
She sighed. "He is never content. He always wants more. But I don't know more of what. I sometimes feel like a failure - you know? I feel like I should be able to make him happy. But he isn't happy. Did you know that he has put in for a transfer in the department?"
"Really? It's about time he got promoted," Danny said enthusiastically hoping the subject would change. He did not want to hear that the marriage of his two close friends might be experiencing trouble.
"But if he doesn't get it - he'll be so hurt," she concluded. She took a sip of her beer. "If you had stayed it might have been different."
That is the second time she has said that. He could feel her even closer as she leafed through the yearbook on his lap. Her breast was now pressing against his left arm. Is she coming on to me? I've got to get a clear head about this!
She drew back, as though she could read his thoughts. "So - tell me what you have done with yourself since high school?"
He blinked once and took a big drink of beer. "A few years in the service." He shrugged. "Came back here for a year, then went to California for a couple. Now I'm back."
"Maybe. I didn't realize how much I missed Hawaii until today."
"Meet any girls on the mainland?"
He gave a sheepish smile. "A couple. But they aren't like girls here."
"Oh really?" She smiled and twisted a lock of blond hair between her fingers. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were blushing, Dan Williams."
Hot crimson flashed across his face. "You're just trying to embarrass me," he muttered. "Just like the old days."
She grinned and reached across him to turn the page of the book. "Yes - exactly like the old days."
He froze, unsure of a response recalling how Marjorie had played him against Lew in their senior year of high school. It had been a lover's spat - after all Lew and Marjorie had been dating for two years. Everyone knew they were going to marry someday. I don't even remember what started it…
…Just like the old days?
Marjorie started to laugh. "You should see your face, Danny! Relax, will you? I wanted to see if you remembered."
"I remember okay," he assured her a bit hesitantly.
"I need to go check on dinner." Still laughing, she rose and left the lanai.
He leaned back on the couch, took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.
The black Mercury came to a quick halt on the edge of the dock and McGarrett was up and out instantly. Nothing would stand between him and the grizzly discovery that had been called in. Every moment wasted might mean valuable evidence washed away or accidentally destroyed.
Kono approached him and directed him towards the pier. "The dock workers smelled something bad. They started looking around. Thought it was a dead dog or something."
"Dead dog?" Steve muttered. By now they were close to the wharf and the nauseating stench of rotting death hit them. Steve pulled his handkerchief and covered his nose.
"There," Kono pointed into the harbor. A badly decomposed body floated between the pilings. There were tatters of clothing on it in faded flowered pattern on what might have been a dress.
Bergman, seeming unaffected by the odor, motioned the diving team. In minutes, the decaying specter was carefully lifted onto the dock. In spite of the condition of the body, it was treated gently, with reverence and caution to keep clues intact that might reveal whoever had done this horrific act.
The few workers who had remained issued exclamations of disgust and moved quickly away.
McGarrett stepped back as Doc gave a quick look at the remains. The stocky medical examiner gave a wave and the body was covered over and quickly moved to the coroner's wagon.
"Impressions?" McGarrett asked of Bergman.
He glanced from Kono to Steve. "Female. Dead several days - I can be more exact later. How or why-" he shook his head.
his jaw. I hate it when we don't have the information. "Okay,
Doc, as fast as you can - okay?"
The phone rang and Marjorie answered it. Moments later, she came into the room, a platter of chicken sizzling between her potholders. "That was Lew. He's going to be late."
He looked up from the television. "We can wait."
"No, I mean really late. He volunteered to do a double shift tonight."
"Oh." Danny wondered why his friend he had not seen in four years had chosen to work a double the day he arrived and remembered Marjorie's comments about Lew's get-ahead spirit. I hope he gets his promotion and that things get better.
"He said he'll catch you in the morning. He knows you'll be tired," Marjorie added
"Oh, the jet lag isn't that bad," he replied, glancing at the television as a car commercial splashed across.
"Well, dinner's ready -- even if Lew wasn't." She placed the dish on the table and returned to the kitchen.
She sounds really
disappointed. After Lew and I get caught up, I'd better have a talk with
him. "Chicken smells great."
"Doc and the anthropologist gave me the specifics," the artist commented.
Steve gazed at the work of art for much more love and attention had gone into that than a simple police sketch. The beautiful Asian girl smiled pensively from the paper, her long black hair blowing slightly across her face, her eyes filled with a joy and innocence that reality had not been gracious enough to grant her. For a moment, Steve stood speechless, transfixed by the simplicity of the piece, letting the beauty of it work in his mind to erase the decaying lump of flesh he had been confronted with the day before. He noticed the name "Tilly" had been ascribed to the reconstruction. At last, heart filled with great balm and sorrow, he looked up to Doc Bergman who stood beside the artist. "Tilly?"
"I-um thought we should at least give her a name," the artist added.
Steve nodded and glanced at Bergman. "What can you tell me about her, Doc?"
The gruff pathologist passed over his report, then gave a verbal one as well. "Early adolescent, fourteen maybe fifteen years. Probably from Ceylon. There were some indications in the fabric. She still wore a shell bracelet that is widely sold there. Until recently, she had been in good health. Normal development of skeletal structure."
"She had been beaten at different times, probably starting in the last four months. Partially healed broken finger, probably occurred three weeks ago. Sexual abuse. There was very little in her stomach, mostly a husk of seeds - Che is looking at that. She did not drown. No water in her lungs, no peteche either. Her neck was broken violently - deliberately. I estimate she was in the water about 10 days."
Steve steeled back his intense feeling of rage. "How?" he demanded a little harshly. "Thrown off a ship? Thrown in from the dock?"
Doc shook his head. "We don't have enough to tell us that. Unless Che gets something off the stomach contents this is all we have for the moment."
"Thank you, Doc." He glanced over to Chin and Kono. Anything from the street?"
Kono spoke first. "Nobody knows nothing about a missing girl."
Chin Ho gestured towards the drawing. "One snitch talked about a slavery ring."
"Slavery?" Steve could not hide the revulsion.
"That's all, just he heard something about a slavery ring bringing in young girls - selling them for prostitution. Sell some as wives," Chin added. He recognized the impatient look on his superior's face. "Right, Steve, I'll keep leaning on him."
"We need names, dates, where," Steve declared. "Kono, go to the harbor master and find out what ships have come in from the East in the last two weeks."
Kono raised an eyebrow imaging a fairly long list.
Danny woke up early; part of the curse of jetlag. He'd been exhausted. A poor choice of combining the wine of dinner with the beers before and after had left him with a blazing headache this morning. He supposed he had become a poor guest by late evening, but he couldn't remember very much except that he knew he'd gone to bed long before Lew would have come in. He rolled over on the pillow, allowing the light floral scent of it to fill his nostrils. The window to the room was open to the yard and he could hear the birds singing. It was not much past sunrise and he wondered if Lew and Marjorie were awake yet. He was plagued with the discomfort of being alone with Marjorie and could not shake it no matter how he tried to explain it away by intellect. I need to find a place to live as soon as possible -- and a job. He couldn't understand why he had never heard back from HPD regarding a position as detective, but he would go out there later today and visit a few old acquaintances and see what was up.
The house was still as he walked out into the living area. Lew's gun belt was thrown over a dining room chair. Danny went to the kitchen and could smell fresh coffee. There was a mug sitting before the pot and he poured himself a cup. The nutty aroma soothed his aching head. Nothing like a hangover my first day back in the islands.
"Hi," came Marjorie's cheerful voice.
He, startled, nearly dropping the coffee mug.
She grinned. "Up early." She was dressed in a pink chiffon floor length robe that the breeze from the lanai gently blew between her legs and pressed against her form.
"Uh-yeah," he replied, looking towards the counter.
She reached out, taking his hand. "Come on out to the lanai, I have a big bowl of fruit cut up. Bet you haven't had good fruit in a long time."
"Is Lew up?" he asked hopefully as they walked outside to the dinette table.
"He's asleep," she replied. "He'll be up around noon." She sat down before her fruit. "What shall we do today?"
He sat opposite her. "We?" He took a drink of coffee and burned his mouth. He winced, trying to hide the pain. "I need to look for an apartment - and a job."
"Well, don't be in a hurry about the apartment. Wait for something good," she counseled. "Maybe Lew can get you in as a rookie at the force. Did you attend police academy?"
He shook his head, trying not to be distracted by the way she was leaning towards him in the low cut robe. She has nothing on underneath. Get a grip! She is my friend's wife! I need to get out of here! He forced a few quick bites of fruit down, chased that with scalding coffee, then rose. "I've got to go, Marjorie."
He fled back to his room to get dressed. Picking up the light blanket to make the bed, something fell out onto the floor. He bent under the bed to pick it up and rose, staring open-mouthed at the lacy bra in his hand. Where did that come from? A previous guest? But his heart was frozen in stark horror. It was in the bed. I am sure Marj put on clean sheets when she knew I was coming. In panic, he threw back the covers examining the bottom sheet. God, this can't be happening! Certainly I'd remember something! How could she do this! What have I done?! Lew is my best friend! What do I do now? Maybe it isn't what it looks like. But he knew better. What will I tell Lew? The truth? "Hi, I came back and on my first night in your home laid your wife"? What is going on here? How could Marj do this to me - to Lew - to herself?
He sat down on the side of the bed, bra still dangling from his hand, running the other hand through his short hair.
There was a knock at the door. "Danny?" It was Marjorie.
He quickly shoved the incriminating bra amongst the bedclothes and jumped to his feet. "What is it?" He could feel the sweat collecting on his palms.
"I was wondering," she stuck her head inside the door, "if you wanted to borrow my car this morning?"
He licked his lips, "Yes, Marj, that would be fine."
She hesitated. "You okay?"
No, I am going crazy, Marjorie. How could you do this? "I'm fine," he managed to utter.
"Is everything all right?" she repeated critically.
"Should there be something?" he asked, begging to see if she would reveal anything.
She grinned. "No. I'll leave the key on the table." She left.
She lied as simply as breathing! Maybe this is all in my head. Then he recalled the floral scented pillow - it smelled like Marjorie's perfume.