The Evidence
by Peg Keeley

Part 3

Kono entered the morgue and found Dr. Rush right away. She was young, but still pre-dated DeWitt's arrival at Five-O. People like that were getting hard to find.

"Hi, Kono," she said with a friendly smile.

"Hi." He tried to sound casual, appreciating the cheerful greeting. Those were hard to find around here, too. "You got the report on the fried dude from the arson last night?"

A small frown crossed her features. "DeWitt sealed those records."

"I know. I need to see them."

"To everybody," she added. "His access only."

Kono looked intentionally unintentional. "Those orders don't usually mean Five-O staff, do they?" he replied.

"No, but-" she hesitated, "-he sounded like he really meant it."

"Of course he meant it," Kono agreed. He paused. "Please, Ginger. I really need to see the records, life and death."

"Yeah - maybe my life and death. I can't," she said regretfully. "Orders, you know."

"Yeah," he murmured quietly.

"I know they aren't treating you fairly," she said in a whisper. "Word is Jackson is going to force you to retire before you can qualify for your pension. I think something is really wrong around here - everyone does. I think it's that Zito."

"Oh?" Kono tried not to sound too interested.

"Well, everyone just thinks he's a real snake."

"Maybe it's just that he's a mainlander. They think differently," Kono remarked.

Dr. Rush touched a file that slid off the desk and landed on the floor. "Oh, pick that up for me, will you?"

Kono bent down and realized he was looking at the file on the body from the arson. It took less than a minute for him to scan the pages as he picked them up for Ginger. "Well, I'll see you later," he said and winked. "Thanks."

The phone rang and Steve glanced at his watch - just past five p.m.. He picked up the receiver, praying it was not Danno calling from the airport. He told me to be cautious, certainly he would do the same.

The man's voice was muffled in an attempt to disguise it. "You've got live stock out on Kiwi Road." There was a click of the disconnect.

Steve scowled. Someone wanted him out of the house. It could be a set up. But everyone knew that livestock on the loose needed to be attended to. Who is at risk? Lonnie or me? I dare not take him with me, but I dare not leave him alone. Steve picked up his loaded pistol.

Lonnie bounded into the kitchen. "Was that Dad?" He stopped, his attention on the weapon.

"No." Steve walked away from him, back to the bedroom and returned with a small .32 gun. "I need to go out. Cattle have gotten loose."

"I can come help," Lonnie offered casually.

"It may be a trick. I can't risk having you with me," Steve replied. He sized up his godson. Lonnie looked deceptively younger than he was. In his brief 12 years he'd gone through more than many people did their entire lives - including a daring rescue of Kono and Danno a few months ago. "Lonnie, I need you to listen to me."

Lonnie's expression sobered.

"I don't know everything that is happening, but Richard Quinn was killed because he knew something. I think your dad knows what Richard was after. The same people who killed Quinn are going to be looking for your dad. They will use you or me to make that happen if they can. Do you understand me?"

He gave a quick nod.

"We have to be smart and careful. I need to check out that call. It might really be a loose cow, or someone may be trying to reach me. I don't know. But I cannot risk having you with me."

Lonnie gave another nod, eyes widening a little. "But what if someone wants to make you leave so they can get me?"

Steve was pleased than Lonnie had arrived at the second half of the dilemma by himself. "Exactly my next thought." He held out the .32.

Lonnie looked back in shocked surprise.

"Take it."

Lonnie felt the cool weight of the small gun. "I've only fired guns at the gun club range."

"And let's hope it stays that way. Protection only. If someone comes and you can hide - hide. No heroics. Understand? I want you to go to the barn and stay there until I come back."

"What if you don't come back?" Lonnie asked in a hush.

Steve forced a smile. "If I am not here by dark I want you to call Kono - no one else."

Lonnie opened the screen door to the kitchen and walked down the three wooden steps in the direction of barn. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder. "You watch out, okay?"

"You bet," Steve replied confidently. As the boy vanished into the barn Steve whistled for Doc. The sheltie came bounding expectantly to his master, tongue lolling with joy at having been summoned. Steve patted the dog's head. "Doc, guard the barn."

Doc barked his acknowledgment and ran for the barn door.

Steve pulled the old truck off the road by the pasture that faced Kiwi Road, not very surprised that all the cattle were accounted for. Parked beneath the shade of a tree near the curve was Gary Newman's old black Chevy. Danno's warning to trust no one flashed before Steve's mind. He felt the comfort of the gun in his jacket pocket. "Garry, did you call me out here?"

Gary stepped away from the car. "Figured your phone was tapped." He had noticed the bulge of a gun in Steve's pocket. "Nothin's what it seems anymore."

Steve did not reply. It was painful to realize that Danno's warning might include Gary Newman. I wish it was Kono here. I can trust Kono. "Why did you call me, Gary?"

"You were in to see DeWitt today," Gary said. "Do you know what Richard was after?"

Steve gazed out across the fenced property.

"Steve, I know there's trouble in the department." Gary stopped and glanced around as if someone might be hiding behind a tree. "It's so bad you can feel it. Zito's dirty. Be careful of him. I think Richard was gonna prove it. We can't make the pieces fit, but I think he could."

Who is 'we'?

"That body last night at Danno's place got burned pretty bad - but not bad enough."

Steve focused on Gary in silence.

"Kono saw the autopsy report. The guy was tortured first. He didn't light no match."

"Tortured?" McGarrett repeated.

"Right hand went through the garbage disposal. One eye orbit was exploded - like the eye was gouged out. Massive brain contusions, rupture liver. Steve, I don't know why the guy was dumped there, but he wasn't the fire bug." Gary stopped talking, hoping Steve would pick up the conversation, but the former chief remained silent. Gary nervously licked his lips. "Jackson pulled Kono off the investigation. I never got close in the first place. That's why Kono had me come. He's afraid he's marked. Zito's running the case." Gary paused once again. "I - um managed to get out to the cottage and pulled the disposal. I got it in a box in the car." He jerked his thumb towards the trunk. "A few good prints offa the faucet, too."

Steve wrestled internally with wanting to trust Gary, but not being sure. It was hard to believe the officer would have such a vital piece of evidence bouncing around in the trunk of his car. "How deep does this go?" he finally asked.

Gary shook his head. "I don't know. Kono is keeping a journal. He said you'd know where it is. He's real scared he's gonna be next."

"Is HPD clean?"

"I don't know that either," Gary admitted. "Damn, I guess you don't even know if you can trust me. At least I know I can trust you, huh?" He cracked a grin.

"Stay low," Steve advised. "Tell Kono to get off the Island if he can find the excuse. Keep your eyes open and wait. I don't have to tell you how dangerous Zito and whoever may be working with him are. If they thought they could get away with it, they'd kill us all."

Gary started to move towards the car, uncomfortable with the length of time he'd spent with McGarrett. "Keep Danno away from Five-0. Zito will see to it he never talks to DeWitt."

Lonnie lay back in the sweet scented straw listening to the flies buzzing around the two horses as they placidly swished their long tails back and forth. Doc lay asleep beside him in the warm sun. Somewhere up in the loft, the mother cat was bathing one of her new kittens and the little mews of protest could be heard. Everything seems to quiet, so normal, so safe. The black pistol lying beside his right leg seemed oddly out of place. Lonnie wondered how much time it would take Steve to return. What if it was an ambush? What if someone has been waiting for Uncle Steve and shot him and he 's laying out there bleeding to death with no one to help. Lonnie did not want to think about that. His heartbeat quickened as he considered everything that could go wrong. What if they come here looking for me? What if I have to use this gun? Can I do that?

Doc suddenly lifted his head gave a soft woof.

"What is it, boy?" Lonnie whispered, fear rushing over him.

The dog was up on his feet now and issued another soft bark as he started for the door.

Lonnie scooped up the gun, clutching it tightly in both hands and pressed himself flat against the barn wall, heart pounding and mouth dry. He could hear someone on the other side of the barn door. He could hear the latch moving as the door began to open.

Doc was barking loudly with excitement now - but his tail was wagging.

"Hey, Lonnie, are you in here?" came the sound of Danny's voice.

"Dad!" he exclaimed in relief, tossing the weapon aside. He ran for the door.

Danny gave him a quick hug as he stepped inside the barn and shut the door.

"Dad, you won't believe what's going on around here!" Lonnie started. "Richard Quinn called a bunch of times on the answering machine, then somebody killed him. Then they trashed the cottage and tried to burn it down last night. And Mr. Zito made Uncle Steve go talk to Jackson DeWitt this morning." He suddenly stopped talking. "How did you get here? Uncle Steve said they'd be watching the airport."

He grinned. "They're watching domestic flights. I took a flight to Dallas, then Mexico City. I used a fake name and came through international routes."

"Cool, like a spy," Lonnie approved with proud grin.

"Why did Steve have you stay out here?" Danny bent down and picked up the small pistol realizing that Steve had to have been pretty worried to have Lonnie out in the barn armed with a gun.

"Somebody said there was a cow loose. I don't think so. Maybe somebody is trying to set him up," Lonnie commented knowingly. "I'm glad you're here now. Can we go find him?"

"Nope," Danny replied, giving a quick glance out the crack of the barn door. "We're sitting tight right here and waiting for him. No one is going to try to hurt him right now. It isn't him they are after."

Lonnie scowled. "What do they want, Dad? Who are they?"

"I'm not real sure, Lonnie. We just need to be very careful."

Steve returned to the barnyard only minutes later, pleased and relieved that Danny had evaded detection in the airport. But he knew that the house was probably being watched and it would be difficult to keep Danny's presence a secret for long. They slipped carefully back into the house and Steve retrieved the answering machine tape from its hiding place. He played it, watching Danny's expression as the former Five-0 detective sat on the couch, chin in his hands listening intently.

When it was done, Danny slowly shook his head. "I was really afraid for Richard. He was determined he would go through with this but --" he paused, "--he was always so worried, so nervous. I didn't want him to go it alone but he was afraid to trust anyone inside. If he'd trusted someone else maybe he'd have lived. I should have made him trust Kono. I might as well have shot him myself for letting him go on."

Steve noted with surprise that Danny had used the same expression Jackson had earlier. "Any ideas about what information he had? It seems to be pretty hot stuff."

Danny was silent for a minute or two, thinking back over the history of Richard's investigation, weighing the risks of bringing in Steve. I need help now -- and there's no one in the world I'd rather have in my corner than Steve McGarrett. "Richard came to me already knowing something about Zito's past. A snitch named Marco had told him Zito had a mob connection in Seattle. Snitch conveniently died of a ruptured aneurysm a week later. But Richard had his statement on tape. Richard came to me after he'd already brought in a PI he knew in Minneapolis."

"PI?" Steve shook his head in disbelief.

"Yeah, not the conventional way to deal with this sort of thing, but then Quinn was pretty paranoid himself. DeWitt hated him. Zito was dirty. God only knows about the others. Even Kono had no respect for Richard. I tried to get Richard to talk to Kono, but he wouldn't. I tried to get him to take it to Travis at HPD. He said he would after the PI finished the work up and he was sure HPD was clean."

"Is that work up the information they killed him for?"

Danny nodded. "At least I think so. I looked into the PI myself. Lana Taylor. Squeaky clean."

"A woman?" That was also unexpected for Steve.

"Yeah." Danny gave a little laugh. "Welcome to sexual equality. For all his blundering, Richard was full of surprises. I guess an unorthodox problem calls for unorthodox treatment."

Steve considered all Danny had said for a moment. "Do you have an idea from the tape where that information is?"

Danny looked up in surprise. "Sure." He seemed shocked that Steve did not already know. "The mail -- with postage due so that it won't be delivered to the cottage..." His voice trailed off as a look of fear settled over him. "It should be at the post office, but it won't be." He jumped up.

Steve jumped up after him. "Danno, you're talking in riddles."

"Carrie. Carrie was getting the mail while I've been gone. She will have gone to the post office by now and picked up the envelope. She must have it at her place. Steve, we have got to get out there."

"Hang on," Steve cautioned, grabbing Danny's arm. "My guess is this house is being watched. They see you and you'll lead them right to Carrie and the evidence."

"I don't want Carrie dragged in. If I don't appear in Five-0 they will expand their pressure to include Carrie. And if they discover her with the envelope, they'll kill her. Reporters are as dangerous to them as honest cops -- maybe even more dangerous."

"But right now they don't know what she has -- she doesn't know what she has," Steve persisted. "They haven't heard the tape." Steve's mind raced to come up with a solution. The phone might be tapped, so they couldn't call her. "Right now they don't know you are back on the Island, Danny, so that is our one advantage. They are watching me and they're watching Lonnie. I'm going to take the old Mercury and go down to the airport for a while to watch the planes take off. They will expect that. And they will follow me. Take the old truck and slip out over the pasture. Get to Carrie's and find the evidence. Keep Lonnie with you. If Zito or any of his people get itchy, I don't want Lonnie with me at the airport."

Ten minutes later, as if on his way to meet someone, Steve's black car pulled slowly out of the old gravel drive of the ranch and onto the blacktop road headed for Honolulu. Just as he had hoped, a brown Five-0 car dropped in behind him as if they did not even care that he knew of their presence. He cast a quick glance around to see if anyone had remained behind and could see no other cars. He picked up the cellular phone and dialed his number at the house, let it ring twice, and hung up.

End Part 3

Part 4

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