Lonnie sat on the commode cover for a few minutes, able to do nothing but weep from the pain on the wringer fracture. Already his elbow was swelling and pain still shot from his shoulder to his fingertips. Gradually, he began to realize that he needed to take advantage of where he was. Like most old farmhouses build on peer and beam foundations, there was a drop hatch beneath the house located in the bathroom closet. He knew where it was, he'd found it years ago as a small child. Opening the closet door, he rolled back the carpet revealing the hatch. He opened it up, laying the carpet across the top so that when he closed it, the carpet would again cover the hole. Getting down under the house was a different matter. Thick cobwebs criss-crossed in a tangled mass between the beams and stretched from dark, damp ground to the underside of the house. Beetles, bugs and slugs were everywhere. Gritting his teeth, Lonnie at last slipped down under the house. He shivered as the cobwebs clung to his skin and face. He closed the door and lay on the smelly earth, trying to get relief from the pain in his arm and waiting - hoping help would come.
Tuck clicked with his tongue as he observed Mitch's temper raging out of control. "Don't be mad now. Don't be mad now," he chided. "Count to ten - one…two…"
"Shut that retard up!" Mitch screamed at Ari, waving the gun wildly.
Ari threw another dinner plate against the wall and the pieces scattered amongst the pile of others growing on the floor. He didn't care much about the papers Mitch was ranting about, he was having fun destroying things. The man hiring them had said they would get a great high out of this - smashing things came close. He hit the power button on the stereo and spun the dial to a heavy metal station. He cranked the music up so that the very windows began to rattle.
His action did little for Mitch's mood. Cursing, he grabbed Danny by the shirt and pulled him to his feet, slamming him against the wall so hard, it crushed the drywall. "You're the guy with the answers," Mitch snarled in his face.
Steve moved his leg and Mitch caught the action out of the corner of his eye. "Ari! Get over here and make yourself useful!"
Ari gave an Indian-like war whoop and leapt onto the overturned sofa, then down to the floor beside Steve. He jammed the small pistol he had taken from Steve earlier against Steve's head. "Let's kill somebody."
"Contain it, Ari," Mitch snapped, then gave his attention back to Danny. "I could let him kill your boy."
Danny, having already noted that Lonnie was not in the room, let the idle threat go by.
"Come on," Ari begged, giving a malevolent smile, "I can just shoot this one. They're all gonna die anyway."
"Shut up," Mitch growled.
Danny managed a smile of bravado. "Why should I tell you where the papers are? You'll kill us either way."
Mitch gave a contemptuous look at Ari. "You are so lame."
Danny took the momentary diversion as an opportunity and lunged for Mitch's gun hand. Simultaneously, Steve punched Ari in the face with a left cross and flung the fishhook from his right hand into Mitch's face. Mitch gave a shriek of surprise as the hook dug into his cheek.
Danny had a grip on Mitch's gun hand and they struggled for control.
Steve dove for Ari's gun, but the young man gave him a vicious kick in the abdomen, and jumped to his feet. In open fear and confusion, he kept waving the weapon around trying to decide whether to shoot Steve or Danny and trying to get a clear shot at the latter. He squeezed his eyes tight as he tightened the trigger.
Just as Ari fired, Danny turned, forcing Mitch between them like a shield.
The bullet struck Mitch in the back of the head, spraying blood and tissue. As he went limp, Danny thrust him against Ari, hoping to gain a footing.
Ari, more confused that ever, and not quite understanding what had just happened, stumbled to the floor under the weight of Mitch. He pulled his gun hand free, trying to aim at Danny again.
Danny stepped towards Steve, looking for Mitch's gun at the same time.
"Run, Danno! Just run!" Steve ordered.
Danny looked up just as Ari fired. He stumbled backward towards the hallway, losing his balance.
Steve thought Williams had been struck, but Danny turned, rolling to his feet and, in a flash, dashed down the hall and into the bedroom where he slammed and locked the door. Ari was after him instantly, yelling for Tuck who continued to stand, mouth agape, stunned by the pandemonium.
Just as Ari reached the bedroom door, there was the sound of shattering glass. "He went out the window!" Tuck announced in wonder.
Ari pointed the gun at the doorknob, but as he tried to fire into the lock, it made a hollow click. He threw the gun aside. Ari raced for the front door. He spent a precious moment also looking for Mitch's gun. Also unable to find it, he remembered the weapon they had taken earlier from Danny and found it in Mitch's pocket. "Keep the gun on him!" he ordered pointing at Steve. "If he moves, shoot him!" He threw open the door and dashed down the porch. Moments later, the engine of the small Audio cranked over, revved loudly, and gravel spun as Ari raced out across the pasture.
Danny raced through the field trying to put as much distance as he could between the ranch house and himself. He felt a twang of embarrassed guilt at abandoning Lonnie and Steve, but knew full well he was the one Zito really wanted. Stuffed under his shirt was the bait he needed to draw Zito and his youthful incompetent hoodlums away. He could hear the whining engine of the small car as it attempted to negotiate through the pasture, zigzagging to and fro looking for him. The headlight beams shimmered and flickered with each punishing pothole the wheels encountered. He ran on through the darkness, heart pounding, and pain in his right side digging at him. After several minutes, his left leg began to protest the abuse as the metal pins in the tibia ground against the bone. He knew if he could stay beyond the reach of the lights, he was safe and the field peppered with potholes would eventually break an axle.
The front door of the ranch flew open with a horrendous bang and Reggie Zito entered the living room. It had been only moments after Ari's quick departure. He gazed at the disorderly mess, chewing placidly on his gum. He carefully stepped over Doc's body and the broken porcelain and walked over to where McGarrett still lay under Tuck's watchful gaze.
Zito grinned at Steve. "Somebody here call a cop?"
"I did what Ari said," Tuck announced. "I wanted him real good."
Zito gave him a barely tolerant sidewise glare. "Get the boy." He squatted down next to McGarrett. "Got a call that there was a break in here. Let me help you up," he added cordially.
Steve got off the floor, refusing Zito's hand.
Tuck hurried back to the bath and kicked the door open. His mouth dropped open in surprise. He looked behind the door, in the tub and closet. "He's gone!" he called back to Zito as he hurried back up the hallway.
Steve gave a smug grin. That-a-boy, Lonnie. Like your dad always says: 'Move the target.'
Reggie shook his head. "You lost a kid - a twelve year old kid! Your buddy is out chasing Williams through a cow pasture! Did you guys get anything right?"
"No," Tuck replied simply, fixing his gaze upon Mitch's bloody body.
Zito heaved a deep sigh to keep his stress level in line. "The chair, McGarrett." He gestured to an overturned kitchen chair that lay in the living room near the kitchen doorway.
Oozing dignity, Steve slowly walked over, righted the chair, the sat calmly down. Too much has gone down here. Zito cannot let me live. He isn't even trying to cover this. But he could have already killed me. Why is he waiting? The evidence.
Reggie stood, arms crossed, before Steve. "I told you not to keep anything from us."
"Us?" Steve asked.
"Obstruction of justice, McGarrett. That's a crime. Harboring a fugitive - another crime."
"Fugitive? Who's the fugitive? You wanted Williams back - he came back. We would have come by for him to hear out your questions in the morning. There is no warrant out for Williams, he's just a law-abiding citizen - like me. If you want to talk about crimes, how about embezzling funds, accepting bribes, arson, murder," Steve replied calmly. "I can tell you what you already know. Quinn was able to get the goods on you, enough to take you out of commission - permanently. It was a good job, very complete. He mailed the report to Williams who was out of town, so the post office held it. Carrie Donagon, not knowing what it was, picked it up. Williams broke into her house to get the file when she wasn't home so you couldn't use her." He stopped.
"Where's the file, McGarrett?" Reggie demanded.
He looked Zito in the eye. "I don't know. It's not here."
He suddenly punched Steve in the jaw, snapping his head back and rocking the chair wildly on the back two legs. "Where is it?!"
Steve gave no answer, just a small smile. Zito hit him again. Tuck stood by staring at the events. His friends were cruel and he was used to violence. He was not shock, just fascinated.
Lonnie lay under the house praying something would happen to rescue them. He had heard thuds, gunshots, running feet. A car he did not know had arrived and things had gotten much quieter. He wondered if it was safe to come out. No one had called for him so he decided to stay put a little longer. He kept brushing bugs off himself. It was too dark under the house to see and there was no moon out. He was shivering from the shock of his injury and was tired. Every time he started to doze off, the pain of his arm would awaken him again.
Kono had waited until well after one in the morning, hoping DeWitt would leave the office and go home, it seemed like he was waiting for something. It wasn't too much of a secret what it was. In some ways, as long as Jackson remained in the office, Kono knew Zito had not found Williams. Kono wasn't sure which side of the law Jackson was on, but he was beginning to believe it was the wrong side.
At last, Kono slipped away and went to the crime lab undetected. Ken was still there, sleeping on a stool, propped against the wall. He jumped when Kono entered, then relaxed. "Scared me," the scientist muttered. "I'm not used to this cloak and dagger stuff. Will you tell me what the hell's going on around here?"
Kono did not answer. "You got my results?"
"Yeah. The disposal matches blood and tissue from the deceased. The prints are Reggie Zito and Sergie Booth."
Kono blinked. The idea that Reggie would have done his own dirty work was surprising.
"Now, come clean with me, Kono. Why shouldn't I go to DeWitt with this? You're running around with Zito's prints, Zito's running around with prints on Williams. Everybody's hush about a body in the morgue."
"You know and you could get killed," Kono murmured softly. "For your own sake, keep this to yourself. If you got some sick or vacation time - use it and get out of here - now. Hopefully I'll live long enough to explain it all someday."
Danny had covered the mile of pasture at a dead run and by the time he reached the far end, was out of breath and the stitch in his side and leg could no longer be ignored. Crawling into some shrubbery, he tried to get comfortable and catch his breath. The stitch was fierce and he rubbed his side with his hand. When he did, the pain shot through him, surprising and shocking him. His hand was wet. It was too dark for visual examination, but when he smelled the moisture, it was unmistakably blood. He realized that he must have been shot. He needed to decide what to do, where to go. And he had to get help back to Steve and Lonnie. But right now, he needed to rest just a little…
Ari stumbled in the back door of the ranch and instantly felt the deep foreboding upon seeing Zito present and McGarrett's bruised and bloodied face.
"Well?" Reggie demanded of Ari.
He shrugged. "It's dark out there and my car's stuck in a hole."
Zito, in rage, slapped Ari hard, then grabbed the teen by the shirt. "Did he have the papers on him?"
Ari rubbed his sore face, glaring at Zito and wondering a little about this cop who'd promised him so much before. "I don't see how. I don't know."
"Then get back in that bedroom and search it. Search the whole damn place!" Zito ordered. He glanced at Tuck and decided he didn't think too much of the large man's searching abilities. "You. Watch McGarrett, but don't get too close. Understand?" He gestured to Danny's pistol still in Tuck's hand. "He makes a move - any move at all - kill him. He's not worth much to us anyway." Reggie stormed away to scour the other bedroom.
Tuck sank down on the edge of the destroyed couch watching Steve through dull, tired eyes, mouth hanging open.
"Are you tired, Tuck?" Steve asked him gently.
"Yeah," he muttered.
"Me, too. How did you get into this?"
"Ari, he's my friend. He always helps me out. He asked me to come help him cause Randy, the guy who usually helps him is locked up right now. He said we could trash a house and have lots of fun."
"Having any fun?"
He looked sad. "No. Mitch told me he wouldn't hurt the dog. He lied." He glanced at Mitch's pallid body. Most of the blood had pumped out onto the carpet. "And Mitch is dead now, too."
Steve allowed Tuck to dwell on the moment before commenting. "Zito will kill you and Ari. He can risk having you talk to someone."
"Naw, he's gonna give us money. He gave Ari some really good stuff earlier. He had the most excellent high."
Great, add drug dealing to Reggie's list, Steve thought.
"Ari told me so. He knows these things," Tuck finished sincerely.
"You seem smarter to me than Ari is," Steve commented.
Tuck flushed. "You're just saying that. Ari know things. Lots of things."
"Tuck, you need to be the one to decide if you will help me stop Zito from killing Ari. You need to decide this for yourself." Steve heard something crash in the back of the house. How much more time do I have?
"Ari says I'm too stupid to get out of my own way." Tuck grinned. "He's right, you know."
"Tuck, this is important. They are making you do things you know are wrong. They killed the dog. Lonnie got hurt. Mitch is dead. Tuck, you can change this. You can decide to stop this."
Steve tried to sound parental and kind. "Just give me the gun."
He drew back. "Oh no. I'm supposed to shoot you if you move."
"I won't move. You can just put the gun into my hand. See?"
Question clouded Tuck's face.
Zito suddenly appeared in the hallway. "Is he trying to trick you, Tuck?"
Tuck turned in surprise. "I don't know. He's a nice man. He said nice things to me."
"Hum," Zito murmured knowingly as he walked over to Tuck. "A regular charmer, huh? What did he want?"
Worry furrowed Tuck's brow. "He said I should give him the gun."
Zito glanced smugly at Steve who looked away. Zito took the weapon from Tuck. "Well, let's give him what he wants." He pointed the gun at Steve and fired. The impact of the bullet knocked Steve and the chair over backward.
Headlights suddenly gleamed in the window.
Zito cursed. He had expected no one and the sound of the shot could not have been missed by whoever had just arrived.
Outside, Kono was just pulling up to the ranch when he heard the shot. Picking up the radio he called: "Backup to McGarrett's ranch. Shots fired!" Not waiting for the confirmation, he leapt from the vehicle, gun drawn.
Zito grabbed Ari and Tuck and shoved them out of the kitchen door, then followed himself. He quickly wiped the gun and dropped it into the rose bush. "Get back to town. Stay off the main road. I will make sure no one follows you."
"My money, man!" Ari ignorantly hissed.
"There's a dead cop in there!" Zito snarled jerking his thumb towards the house. "Get out of here. I've got a friend named Sergie. He'll meet you at that tattoo parlor we were at yesterday. He'll give you your money later. Just get out of here." He watched the two slip away into the dark undergrowth knowing he'd send Sergie to quiet them permanently later. He heard the front door slam open.
Kono burst in the door, crouched, gun first, not knowing what to expect and was met by silence. His attention was drawn first to the body of Mitch. One quick glance and he knew the man had been dead over an hour. He looked around the room again and almost as quickly he saw Steve on his back against the overturned chair.
"Dear God," Kono uttered, holstering the weapon and racing to his side. A large bloody chest wound was oozing blood out onto Steve's shirt. Kono touched the carotid to reveal a rapid thready pulse. There was a heartbeat, but Steve was not breathing. Kono tilted Steve's head for puffed two breaths past the gray-blue lips, hoping he would begin to breathe again on his own. He did not. Kono began rhythmically breathing into McGarrett. "Come on, Steve," he begged. "Hang on. Breathe, bruddah!"
Zito stepped through the door Kono had left standing open, gun in hand. "What happened here?" he demanded, playing the part. "I was on the surveillance at the front road and heard the shot."
"Don't know," Kono gasped. "Call 911."
"Oh, yeah," Zito remarked and went to the phone.
Gary noticed Steve's color was a little less blue - he hoped he was doing some good. But McGarrett still did not breathe for himself, so Kono kept pushing the air in every five seconds. Kneeling on the floor, trying to wipe away blood between breaths, it was hard to believe there was any chance for McGarrett's survival at all.
Zito stood watching. "Kono, you sure he's alive?" How can he be alive? I should have done a headshot. Damned bad luck if this old warhorse is too stubborn to just die like he should.
The satellite aid station was less than a mile from the ranch and EMTs were on the scene in less than three minutes. Uniformed police officers were only moments behind them. Kono gratefully surrendered care of Steve over to the medics and watched as they quickly assessed the severity and bean to "bag" Steve with the mask to literally pump air into him. By the speed at which they worked, Kono knew things were pretty critical. It took less than five minutes for the team to have him on a stretcher and out to the ambulance.
Just as the ambulance turned out of the ranch, the headlight of the first news team came up the drive. Carry Donagon jumped from the passenger side as her cameraman scrambled for his gear.
Kono was shocked, Zito angered. "No cameras!" Zito shouted.
A uniformed officer entered the kitchen door with the gun held by a plastic glove. It was slid into a plastic Ziploc bag and handed to Zito.
Carrie had already noticed the body of Mitch as an officer covered it with a bed sheet. "What can you tell me about what happened here?" she bravely asked. "Who shot that man?"
Kono gripped her arm fiercely. "Get the hell out of here, Carrie," he murmured hotly.
Her eyes met his. "This is my job, Kono."
"This is your life, Carrie."
"Where's Steve? Where's Lonnie?" she persisted.
"Wait outside, there will be a statement. But get out of here right now," Kono almost begged, trying to keep any eye on Zito who continued to circle the room.
Carrie yielded. "I'll be right outside."
With her gone, Kono turned to face Zito. "What's going on around here?"
Zito had lifted the corner of the sheet and was examining Mitch's body. "Why don't you answer that? You got here first. And we know this guy didn't do it. He's been dead too long."
"You know who he is?" Kono asked.
He shook his head. "Nope. Nor what he was doin' here." He gazed at the gun in the bag. "This one 's been fired. I'm sure it was just used to shoot McGarrett."
Kono did not ask by whom. In his wildest fears he would not have pictured Zito being so brazen as to kill McGarrett, but now it seemed obvious. He walked back into the kitchen to wash the blood off his hands. He tried to piece it together. If the dead man was hired by Zito, he'd been dead awhile. Who shot him? Had Steve managed to take out the potential assassin, so Zito did it himself?
Zito marched into the kitchen as Kono turned off the water. Zito was shaking his head and scratching his neck. "I just don't get this whole thing. McGarrett was a good cop. I don't know why he got fooled into this thing."
"What thing?" Kono asked.
"Quinn was collecting evidence on a real hush-hush underworld connection. You knew that, right?"
Kono scowled and did not acknowledge.
"Williams tricked McGarrett into thinking it was DeWitt, or something like that. The information was incriminating Williams - that's why he was trying to keep it away from us."
Kono just stared at Zito. Based on what he knew to be true, this was impossible. He frantically tried to piece together what he was supposed to know from what he really knew. And he was aware of at least three uniformed cops who were hearing every word.
"Damned shame McGarrett bought into it," Zito repeated as he examined the serial number on the gun through the bag. "I'll bet this is Williams' piece."
Kono felt anger rising, but Zito was trying to be convincing. It took tremendous effort to remind himself the man was lying. "If Quinn was compiling evidence on Williams, why did he call him?"
"Hey, Kono, it's a dirty world out there. Maybe Quinn was selling it for a price."
"That's insane! You've got nothing to base that on!" Kono blurted.
Zito gave a grin and his gum snapped. "Maybe Williams arranged for Quinn's murder, too. First Quinn, now McGarrett."
"Williams wouldn't shoot Steve. Never!"
Zito gave a sly grin. "That's what he wants you to think. This isn't for good old days, Kono. I'm putting out an APB on Williams. Armed and dangerous."
End Part 6