This is the second in my alternative universe. As Every Mother's Son introduced the series, It's How you Play the Game provides the answers to some of the questions left behind not only from the first fiction, but from the series. Keith Robinson is an actual living person and is a member of the Robinson family who own rights to Niihau. There is no attempt made here to depict him as he might actually be, his name is merely used as one would to place an event in historical perspective. So, Mr. Robinson, if you are out there, there is no intent to offend you.
Date: February 1980
IT'S HOW YOU PLAY THE
Eugene Caputo strolled slowly across the beachfront property along Waikiki. He nodded happily. "This I like," he said placidly to his brother. "The place is so simple. Clean air, lovely climate, beautiful flowers and--other things." His gazed followed a bikini-clad teenager. "A pineapple waiting the picking." He reminded himself that he had been advised that young women in Hawaii looked more at the wallet than the face. It did not matter that his hair was graying, and his nose betrayed his Italian heritage. His wallet had sex appeal.
"There are considerations," Anthony called his attention back to the issue at hand. They entered the Sheraton and rode the elevator toward the eighth floor. "Good access to Hong Kong markets but you could be trapped. There's only two ways out of here: Air and sea. And the Kumu will not just sit by; they will be trouble."
Eugene laughed and patted his younger brother on the shoulder. "Have you lost your spirit? Akila and his bumpkin islanders won't touch us. They all fear this McGarrett and his Five-O police. When you beat the toughest kid on the block, the rest fall in line. And when we get done with McGarrett, these islands will be our personal pearls." He entered their suite.
Anthony was not convinced. "You don't know this man, Gino."
He raised a hand, gesturing to the collection of men waiting. "Not now, Anthony. And I know enough. I am a good study of the human condition. I know what will make him knuckle under." From an attaché, he pulled out several itineraries. He scanned the faces of the assembled group. Some of them looked promising; some were little more than local thugs. Time would tell. How they played would also determine their future roles. "We will act swiftly," he announced with authority. "The element of surprise is our biggest edge, so it must not be wasted. You men have each been selected because of your special talents. I was told you are some of the best the Islands have to offer." He paused and scanned the faces again. "Yes, well we will see. In these envelopes are your orders. You will operate in pairs so I can see your ability to cooperate. And do not forget that you are dealing with the toughest man in Hawaii. Take no unnecessary risks. Follow them to the letter and you will be rewarded not only a bonus to your fee but with power once the Caputos run these islands. If you fail--there will be no second chances. If I do not remove you, our opponent will. Remember, timing is everything--everything." He handed an envelope containing airline tickets to one pair. "You are the first. Your flight to San Diego leaves in two hours. After that, McGarrett will quickly learn the rules for the game. He should be a very worthy challenge." He proceeded to pass out the rest of the papers. He smiled at his brother. "For some men it would be an attack on themselves, or their finances and possessions. For McGarrett, it is his fierce loyalty to his team. Without the eyes and ears of his unit, McGarrett alone is helpless."
The air of San Diego was always dirty. It was the one of the big things Frank Kamana had never adjusted to. That and the long look he got from time to time when the Californians thought he was Hispanic and couldn't understand why he didn't speak Spanish. It was a department joke. As chief detective, he could afford to let them laugh. He pulled his car off the crowded freeway as he noticed the odd thump-thump of a flat. Once on the shoulder, he got out and inspected the right rear tire. He kicked the rubber once and issued a curse. He'd bought all new tires 5,000 miles ago. It was just his luck to get a bad one. He could see himself sitting in the Sears Tire Store for hours this coming Saturday. He opened the trunk and pulled out the jack. As he leaned in for the spare, he heard footsteps.
"Hey, want a hand?" a friendly voice asked.
He started to turn to greet the Samaritan, but never completed the action. He was clubbed senseless with an aluminum baseball bat. The assailant and his partner collected Frank's inert body and lugged him into the shadows where their car was waiting.
Ben Kokua unlocked the door to his new home. It still had a new strangeness to it and the smell of fresh paint that he liked. He enjoyed being division director of the state police on Maui. It was a good, quiet job. He still worked for McGarrett, but not so close. That was good for his ulcer.
"Iliki!" he called to his wife. No answer. The note on the table said she was shopping. He speculated about what treasure she would bring home to decorate their new house. He'd never owned a new home before and, although driving a new car as pleasurable, it did not begin to match the pride he took in this house. He strolled out onto the back patio. He spotted a crumpled paper towel on the terrazzo floor and bent to pick it up. Caputo's man, hiding behind the door, struck him over the head and he collapsed to the stone deck.
Tahiti was still a paradise. Kono had never regretted accepting a head of security position for the largest hotel. He wished the strict regulations had been placed on Honolulu forty years ago that were here. It might still look like this. Sometimes he missed the States, but not often. He left his office to check out a "funny noise" a cleaning woman had reported in the basement. As he opened the door, he flipped the light switch. The bulb did not come on.
"Anyone there?" he called. He pulled out the flashlight and snapped the safety off his pistol but did not draw it. He stepped out into the room and was struck from behind with a gun butt. He dropped heavily the floor, unconscious.
Kimo Carew picked up his jacket from the back of his chair. His day at Five-O was done. He liked Hawaii well enough, but after eight months still missed Boston. There'd been three inches of snow in Massachusetts this morning. "Say, Truck," he called to the large Hawaiian, "busy tonight?"
He gave an uncommitted response.
"I rented a garage space to work on my Corvette. I could use the help," Kimo suggested with a grin. He knew Truck was a sucker for old cars. The two of them had already refinished a 1964 Impala. The salty air was hell on the body of these old beauties. "Wait till you see the paint I got."
Truck grinned. "I had a date, but she's nothing special. Let me give her a quick call."
Kimo shook his head. It was just like Truck to turn down a girl for a car.
They stopped for a quick bite to eat at a Chinese shop then Kimo took them to his rented garage space. "Here it is." He pulled the tarp off the car revealing the primed 1966 Corvette Stingray.
"Nice." Truck ran a hand over its gray finish. "What color?"
Kimo picked up the paint. "Metallic red."
There was the clanging sound of a metal object falling in the corridor outside. Kimo went back towards the door. "Someone there?"
Two men burst into the room swinging a large wrench and a tire iron. Kimo staggered back, reaching inside his jacket for his gun. The tire iron cracked against his arm and he went down, clutching his right forearm.
The wrench slammed against Truck's skull and he crashed to the cement, senseless. Kimo scrambled away, making a left-handed grab for his gun. He ducked the man with the wrench. As he turned, he caught the tire iron in his face. The last thing he felt was the blood rushing to his mouth.
"Damn," one of the men remarked. "Better call someone, Charlie. We got two instead of one."
Lori Wilson carried the bag of groceries out to her car. The evening air was still warm, a breeze rustling the trees. She set the bag down on the hood of the car and started to unlock the door. There was a roar of an engine as a black van raced into the parking lot. She turned and as she did, a man leapt at her from behind a car. She called out once as he grabbed her from behind and jammed a rag into her mouth. She tried to duck and throw him off balance, but he was ready for the maneuver and twisted her arms fiercely behind her back. She gave another muffled cry of pain as he pulled her into the van. They were gone as quickly as they'd arrived.
Nick Takea tucked his textbook under his arm and headed away from the university lecture hall towards the parking lot. He glanced at his watch: 9:30 p.m. Just enough time to get home and spend a little time when Cheryl before boning up for his criminal justice final tomorrow.
Two men approached. He paid them no attention until one pulled a gun directly in front of him. "I can shoot you now. Or you can come with me."
Nick stared at the small caliber weapon. "What is this?"
He was surprised that they had known him by name. "What do you want?" He moved as they directed him towards a black van.
The door slid open. "Just get in." He obeyed, still keeping his hands over his head.
The other kidnapper shoved him him further in impatiently. "Let's go."
Steve McGarrett examined the scene in the grocery store parking lot as the evening shadows deepened. He glanced inside Lori's bag of groceries that had started to thaw on the hood.
"Very little to go on," a police officer said. "Black van, several men, no one could say much."
Steve flexed his jaw. "A planned abduction in a public place a no one saw a thing?" He glanced around and walked back to his car. I didn’t want a female on the team. I didn't like being forced to make this politically correct statement. Now she is at risk. He snatched up the radio microphone. "Central, have you reached Carew?"
"No, sir," the dispatch crackled back.
He frowned. It was not like Kimo to be completely unreachable even when off duty.
Frank felt the world gradually stop spinning and realized he lay on a floor in a small tenement apartment room which was barren of furniture. He attempted to move and discovered his legs were cuffed to a heater grate with his own handcuffs. The key lay on the floor about ten feet away. Even by straining and reaching, it was totally ungraspable. The door opened and two men entered. One held a Polaroid camera; the other came close and took out a switchblade knife. Touching the button, the blade sprang out glimmering in the poor light. He grinned. "Smile for the camera." The hired assassin suddenly leaned out towards Frank, slashing the ex-Five-O officer's wrists.
Frank cried out, trying desperately to apply pressure against the blood flow.
The first man flashed a picture. They turned to leave. "Do the best you can," the one with the knife encouraged, "you may hold out for a little while."
As the sun rose on the Pacific, McGarrett, unrested, anxiously awaited any leads on Lori's kidnapping. Forensics had been useless. He'd left calls at both Kimo and Truck's apartments that they had never answered. Seven o’clock came and went. "Jenny." He walked out to her desk. "Where is everybody?" He had a gut feeling that something very big was very wrong. There'd been no ransom call, no crackpot claiming responsibility, no reason for Lori's disappearance. Whoever did this has an angle, but what was it?
"Duke called in this morning," she supplied. "His fifteen year old son didn't come home last night."
Steve scowled. Lori and now Duke's son missing. Co-incidence? A lot on teenagers stayed out all night once or twice. Where are Kimo and Truck? An overnight delivery courier entered.
Over night express letter for Steve McGarrett."
Jenny took it and signed for it, then handed the envelope to Steve. As he began to open it, the phone rang and she picked it up. "Five-O." She listened quietly. "Would you hold please?" She pressed the hold button and turned to him, concern etching her expression. "Steve, it's a Captain Hendrix, San Diego Police."
He didn't answer right away. He was staring at the Polaroid photo in his hand. "Frank Kamana is dead," he murmured. He numbly picked up the phone. "McGarrett here."
"One of your ex-officers, Frank Kamana," Hendrix said. "He was found dead about twenty minutes ago following an anonymous tip. Wrists slashed. A note was found with the body that said to notify you. What do you know about this?"
Not as much as I wish I knew. He hesitated to get his emotions in line. His anger was at a flash boil. His voice was calm, but his knuckles white as he gripped the receiver. "Captain, I was just handed a photo of Frank taken by his killer. We'll do what we can in the lab at this end. Please keep me informed regarding your progress and we'll do the same here," he replied. Hendrix gave an appropriate answer Steve later could not recall. After he hung up, McGarrett pulled the note from the envelope by one corner. Printed in letters cut from a magazine was: #1 MANY HAPPY RETURNS.
"Steve, what does it mean?" Jenny asked.
He didn't reply. Good God, what kind of monster would do this? And this is just the first. Lori is somehow tied up in this. And what of the others? Kimo and Truck are apparently missing also. Frank had been on the mainland for two years. I need to contact as many as I can. No one is safe. He froze as a thought struck him. There are no phones in Niihau! He picked up the phone and flipped through his Rolodex. He quickly dialed a number.
The young masculine voice at the other line announced, "Coast Guard."
Niihau, the Forbidden Island, is a place that exists in a bubble of its own reality. Life is slow and still as it once was through out the Hawaiian Islands. The primary job supplier is the Robinson family and nearly all the adults work for them. It is a society that keeps to itself and is reasonably effective at keeping out unwanted visitors. It is rare for an outsider to be invited to visit; even more rare for one to be invited to stay.
Dan Williams, shirtless in the early morning heat, carried a shotgun and canteen to the sheriff's department jeep, then turned back to his office. It had not been easy to come here. It was only of mild consolation that he was the first white man ever to be offered a permanent job on the Robinsons' island. Compared with the crime in Honolulu, it was like a perpetual vacation. The Robinsons had decided to establish their own limited law enforcement--a department of one--which, for this place, was a marked change. It was still supported by Kauai's police if arrests and detention became necessary. The common crime was that of trespassing by unwanted curiosity seekers and all it ever took was the appearance of the jeep with the gold star on the side to get them to leave. It had taken the full six months to finally adjust to the slow pace and enjoy the life. The biggest bust he'd made here was the ten-year-old who broke a window with his baseball and ran. He patrolled his island diligently, more concerned about environmental impact studies and counting monk seals than in crime. It had been hard to accept the change. He'd thrived on the adrenaline highs of his Five-O job, but now he was learning a new yet old way. Largely responsible for this adjustment was the relationship with a lovely girl of pure Hawaiian blood, Noelani Ka'chelauli'i.
She bounded up the three steps to his small office laughing in the morning sun. "Danny? Danny?" The breeze caught her long black hair and blew it back from her face.
He turned to her. "Yes, Lani?" He smiled as she came in the door, thankful she was there.
"My mother spoke to the Kahuna last night," she announced. "She wants you to come today."
He put his arms over her shoulders and drew her close. "I'm going to marry you, Lani, I don't need a Kahuna to agree."
"But my mother does. She believes in the old ways," Lani replied. "Please come by. She will make you something good to eat."
He easily envisioned the wonderful cuisine Lani's mother was capable of. The woman took great pride in announcing to the whole village that her daughter, Noelani, was the most beautiful girl on Niihau and had bewitched the haole kahana. It wasn't too far from wrong. But Ibe Ka 'chelauli'i spoke no English, like many of the older villagers, and every time Danny was there she and the other women would titter constantly amongst themselves about him.
"I told Keith I'd go up the mountain today and look at the sheep," he answered. "Can we make it tomorrow?"
She looked disappointed. “You have plenty of time to check on those stupid animals and get back here." She cocked her head with a little smile. "I won't let Aunt 'Ileu come near."
He sighed and released her, picking up his shirt from the back of the chair.
"Danno," she persisted and said slowly, "Ahonui."
He rolled his eyes. She had been teaching him the native dialect and he was a quick study. Her reminder was to have patience with her family. "Okay," he agreed, "just for you. But you'd better keep Aunt 'Ileu out." But he knew she couldn't.
She kissed his cheek. "I love you." She scampered back out the door. He watched her go. Young, barely twenty, and he twice her age. He was glad to be on Niihau where such age differences were not only accepted but encouraged. He began to button up the khaki shirt and hesitated momentarily, eyeing the six inch long scar running up his chest with the peculiar one and a half inch diameter sunburst shape scar centered over his heart. Odd how things change one's whole life. The bullet that had nearly killed him eight months ago had indirectly given him this whole new life. It had shattered more than his chest; a relationship had blown apart, too. In spite of Lani's gentle urging and his own sense of guilt, he could not bring himself to make contact with McGarrett. Their parting had been bitter. Steve had replaced him within a week of the shooting, then tossed him towards Keith Robinson as his cast off. Well, Lani makes it all worth while in the end. The only one of his old friends he ever communicated with was Kono. Danny had described his new position to Kono by using one of Grandpa Willis' old Sunday School lessons and comparing himself to the shepherd watching the sheep. Kono commented in a friendly way that he was being sacrilegious. He wished he could talk to Kono more often. But he'd left Niihau only twice since arriving, once for a doctor's appointment and two months ago for the trial of Robert Chaney. He had never quite shaken the feeling he'd been abandoned here.
Lani ran down the porch to the crushed shell road, totally preoccupied with joy. Had she been a child of Chicago or even Honolulu, she would have been ever on guard for what was around her, but she lived in a fairytale land of safety and was not prepared for the man who stepped out from behind a clump of kiawe. A hand grabbed her by the throat, another covered her muffled cry. She froze in fear.
"You call Williams out here," the man who held her whispered into her ear and motioned to his partner who stood up against the wall by the door with the shotgun taken from the jeep.
Lani was overcome with paralyzing terror. "Danny!" she managed to call, fear tightening her throat. She tried to swallow her panic. "Danny!"
He stepped to the door. "Wha-" He saw her held fast by a white man--a stranger. All the instincts that had lain dormant these months came rushing to the surface. This kind of thing here seemed unbelievable. I am here to protect these people. How could I have been so careless? In the flash of a moment his mind raced through every possibility of what this intruder could want. Not sex because he would have simply snatched Lani. Money? Sanctuary?
"Out here," her captor ordered him.
He stepped slowly down to the roadway. "What do you want?" He demanded authoritatively. He noticed the second man fall in behind with the shotgun from the jeep. He cursed himself again for being so careless about leaving it there. This isn't supposed to happen here. How did they get here?
"Drive." Lani's captor pointed to the jeep.
"Let her go," Danny demanded. "She can't mean anything to you."
He laughed. "But she means something to you. She'll keep you in line." He motioned again to the jeep, planting the sobbing Lani firmly in the passenger side. "Drive."
Danny slid in behind the wheel, the men climbed in over the back. "Where?"
"Up there." He gestured to the road winding up the mountain.
He started the jeep and pushing in the clutch, shifted into first. His hand lingered for a moment to give Lani a small reassuring squeeze. "It'll be all right," he whispered.
The shotgun stock slammed against the side of Danny's head, nearly knocking him out of the vehicle and he cursed in fury while Lani issued a startled shriek of new terror.
"Don't be touching her--just drive."
Shaking his head to clear his vision, he restarted the stalled jeep and they started up the hillside.
When they'd traveled about four miles into the kiawe and ironwood pines, the gunman told Danny to stop. "Let's take a walk," he announced.
Danny had spent the ten minute ride attempting to decide if the first one, dressed in an old camouflage shirt and a beat up ball cap was in charge or his partner who wheedled the weapon. I need to divide them. "Look, why don't you tell me what it is you want."
"I want you to get the hell out of that jeep," the one in the ball cap said.
They all got out. "Okay, now what is this about?" Danny tried again.
The one with the gun chuckled. "It's about you, Williams."
His heartbeat quickened. They know my name. "Okay, you've got me. Now let her go," Danny insisted again. "She isn't necessary in this."
The first one snapped the wad of gum in his mouth. He glanced at his partner. "Well, what cha think? I don't see any reason for us to keep her, do you?"
"Naw," he agreed.
Danny felt hopeful; at least Lani would be safe. "If you don't need her anymore, just let her go."
"You're right. We don't need her anymore." The man with the shotgun leveled it on the girl and she screamed.
"No!" The brief moment of hope was washed away in the flood of new horror. Danny leapt on him just as he fired. The blast threw Lani against the jeep, she slid to the ground, limp. Danny and the gunman wrestled a moment over the weapon, before the first man grabbed hold of Danny's shirt and yanked him back. With a twist, Danny pulled free of the open shirt, and in rage lunged back towards the man with the weapon. But the gunman was ready; the butt of the shotgun slammed against the side of Danny's head and he collapsed to the gravel road, dazed, and blood trickling down through his hair. "Lani," he mumbled trying to move towards her.
The man with the shotgun bludgeoned his head again with the butt, then swung the barrel around to point at his now senseless victim.
"Hey," called the other, "remember what that Caputo guy said: follow his orders exactly."
He tossed the weapon aside regretfully. "I should kill him."
"This'll be just as good," the other promised. "Let's get him outta here."
End Part 1
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