Goats and Chickens
"What are you talkin' about?" Lonnie Williams complained. "My arm looks like a leg."
"No it doesn't. At least that case is off in time for your summer ball tryouts. The coarse hair will wear off in a week or so," his father, Dan Williams, replied as he started the car
"A whole week! Looks dorky. Maybe I can wear a jacket all week to school."
"It's ninety degrees."
He glared back. "So? School's air conditioned."
Danny shook his head. "Anyway, want to try throwing the old baseball around after school today? Coach has been asking about his southpaw pitcher. You need to get your arm back in shape."
Lonnie shrugged and said without enthusiasm. "Sure, if you want."
"If I want?" he asked, surprised. "What's the deal? I thought you ate, drank, and slept baseball."
Lonnie shrugged again, seeming a little uncomfortable. "Well, you know there are other things out there."
Like what? Danny frowned as they turned in to the school drive. "Have a good day."
Lonnie opened the door of the car. "'Have a good day'? I can sit in math class and braid my arm hair for kicks!" He shut the door and headed away to the building.
Danny gave a chuckle as he watched him go. In spite of this morning's whining, Lonnie had never been as happy as he was in the music-prep program at the Kamahamaha School. It did not matter the circumstances that brought him into the exclusive private school. Fortunately the tremendous income difference between Lonnie's parent and most of the other students' parents had not been an issue - at least to Lonnie. Danny hated the parent conferences. Parking his ten year old mercury next to next year's Lexus always seemed a little obvious, but his title of "Chief of Five-0" usually covered the gap He paused in his thought as he noticed two young girls spot Lonnie and call to him. He changed direction and went over to them, smoothing his hair and shirt as he went. Danny grinned again. How quickly they grow up.
"I thought they was havin' cock fights out here," the farmer explained to Kono as Danny's car pulled up. "I didn' wanna come out to find out. Sometimes those gamblers are packing rods--know what I mean. I didn' want no piece of their action."
"But this is your property Mr. Phuana," Kono commented. "You could have called the police to run them off."
"And if I had, then what?" the old farmer asked. "You see that? They curse me and make my crops die. Loko 'ino, brah."
Danny got out of the car, followed by Uri Motsey. Uri was typically young, having earned his degree in criminology just last year and served his time since then in HPD. Danny had taught him at the University of Hawaii and knew his aptitude. He was a quick study. That was what was desperately needed at Five-O these days--quick studies. The department had been cleansed of DeWitt and his corrupt bunch, leaving some glaring holes. Danny, reluctant to call McGarrett out of retirement a third time, had scrambled to fill the spots with trustworthy faces, even if they were inexperienced.
"Kono?" Danny asked him. They stepped away from the old farmer and walked into the barn.
"Not nice stuff," Kono remarked. "I haven't seen hana mana in a long time." His voice was hushed. "He doesn't know how long this has been going on. He don't come out to this old barn too much. Says been a month or two."
"What made him come now?" Danny asked as he examined the pentagram star that had been painted in white paint on the dirt floor amongst burn marks and spilled candle wax .
"He won't say. Says it was an accident."
"Hell of an accident." After he'd said it, Danny wished he could take it back. Hell seemed a little too close at hand right now. In the center of a large crude circle was the remains of a goat which had literally been torn apart. The head had been burned, the blackened skull bone now set aside. The partially burned limbs and torso remained in the blackened coals. Blood had been smeared on the barn walls in odd star and circle patterns. It was all eerie. "Get the prints off what you can--especially the barn door. Get some photos, then bury this mess," Danny ordered.
The old farmer was still moving about outside wringing his hands. Uri came inside the barn, gave a low whistle and ran a quick hand through his short red hair. "That old guy is scared he's been cursed. That is what kuamuamu means, right?"
Danny gave a single nod of his head. "Tell him we'll take care of this."
"Ain't none of us can take care of his problem," Kono remarked. "He needs a kahuna."
Danny made a face and exchanged looks with Uri. "Let's not get spooked by a bunch of hocus-pocus. Right now we're dealing with trespassing and inhumane treatment of animals. Was it the old farmer's goat?"
Kono shook his head. "He won't keep goats. Says they harbor the spirit of Lucifer."
"Who's that?" Uri muttered.
Danny glanced at him. "The Devil. Satan."
Steve pulled the car into the dirt driveway, not bothering to activate the electronic security gate he had just passed through as he drove up towards the ranch house. Danny had insisted on installing the device, but Steve rarely used it. Maybe I am objecting to Danny's recent paternal activity -- he treats me like I can no longer make my own decisions. Retirement is the pits.
He got out of the vehicle near the barn and started towards the house, pausing at the gravesite of Doc to gaze at the flowers. I suppose it was a sentimental thing to do, but -- he let the rest of his self-analysis go. I miss my dog. It has been two months since he gave his life trying to protect us. Lonnie has been wanting me to get a new dog - he told me about the woman in St. Louis Heights whose Sheltie had pups. Maybe it is just as well I did not get one of them.
Steve brushed a
hand over the simple grave marker of his dog. "At least I will
not be leaving you behind, old friend."
Lonnie glanced at his watch as he exchanged his Science and Math books at his locker between classes.
"Hi," came a voice.
He glanced at Ronny. Her name was really Saffron, but no one ever called her that. "Hi, Ronny."
"I see you got your cast off," she commented, her Asian eyes bright with a smile.
"Yeah," he remarked self-consciously. He could feel his ears reddening.
She gave a sincere smile. "See ya." Her gaze lingered on him just a moment longer than necessary before she turned with a motion that threw her black silky tresses and disappeared in the crowded hallway.
Lonnie felt all thumbs as he slammed his locker closed and ran for math class, his face still unexplainably crimson.
Lunch came and Lonnie found himself looking around the lunchroom for Ronny. He didn't care to ask himself why and when he realized he was scanning faces for hers, he quickly sat at the closest table near Jay and Marcus.
Jay commented on the fare--spaghetti and meatballs and made an off color joke about the size of the meatballs.
Marcus giggled and stuffed salad into his milk carton.
"You guys are so gross," Lonnie remarked.
"Is this the same guy who squirted milk out his nose last week?" Marcus sneered.
Lonnie was about to answer when he spotted Ronny coming through the lunch line.
"Say," Marcus whispered nudging Jay, "you see what I see?"
Jay grinned. "Hey, Lonnie--earth to Lonnie."
"Cut it out," he muttered
"You like her?" Jay asked.
"No!" he replied defensively.
"You don't like her? Why not?" Marcus shot back.
"I don't mean that--" he tried to say.
Jay and Marcus both started to laugh. Marcus flicked his balled up straw wrapper towards an unsuspecting sixth grade science whiz. The ball bounced off the boy's glasses. "You know Ronnie's in eighth grade. You like older women, Lonnie?"
"She's a cute chick, but she's weird," Jay informed him.
"How weird?" Lonnie asked.
"See? He does like her!" Marcus hooted.
"Cool it, man," Jay cut him off. "She has cats."
"So what?" Lonnie shrugged. "Lots of people have cats."
"I mean really has cats," Jay said emphatically. "They must have twenty cats at her house."
"What's the matter with that? My Aunt Sarah keeps lots of dogs," Lonnie replied.
Jay hesitated. "On the other hand, maybe you two were made for each other."
It was Saturday morning, a day Danny would have liked to have slept in then gone down later to inspect the progress on the cottage, but at 6:45 a.m. he'd awoken to the ringing of the phone.
It was Kono. "Sorry, Danny, you've gotta see this."
He dressed, greeted Gideon who, even on Saturday, was in the kitchen with a breakfast prepared, grabbed a cup of coffee and one of Gideon's sweet rolls, then headed for the address out past Pearl City. Kono and Uri were waiting for him along with two uniformed officers.
There was a young man sobbing, handcuffed in the back of the squad car. "No other way, no other way," he kept mumbling.
Kono motioned to the body covered by a yellow tarp in the lawn. "Tony Cooper. His neighbor shot him to death." He gestured his pen towards the man in the squad car. "Michael LaFebre."
Danny drew back the tarp and examined the dead man: fifty or so, thinning hair, one bullet entry wound in the center of his chest. The man was dressed in a black robe. "Get a load of the outfit."
Uri consulted his notes. "Shooter says this guy threatened to put a curse on his wife."
Danny stood up. "You're kidding."
"He was going to put a curse on her and their unborn child."
"Has he been advised of his rights?" Danny asked.
Kono nodded. "He doesn't seem to care about rights. Pretty shook up."
Danny walked slowly over to the squad car. He checked the name from Uri's report. "Mr. LaFebre?"
The Polynesian man looked up, his dark eyes bloodshot from tears. "I did not want to," he whispered.
Danny sat on the front seat and spoke over the back to him. "Can you tell me what happened?"
"He came to the house, it wasn't even light yet and he was mumbling over and over some chant. He would have cursed Kami and the baby."
"What did he say?"
He shook his head. "I don't know, I can't remember."
"You can't remember, but you shot him to death over it?" Danny frowned and watched a fly buzz around the car for a moment.
LaFebre became more agitated. "I don't want to repeat it."
Danny sighed. This is definitely a more-than-one-cup-of-coffee morning. "Look, LaFebre, I want to help you here. You'll have to tell someone because otherwise we don't know it happened. For all we know you killed Cooper because his dog peed on your newspaper."
LaFebre's eyes widened a little. He licked his lips nervously and whispered: "He said he was cursing our child. He said 'Cursed be from toes to eyes...curse this child until it dies.' I couldn't let that happen. He stood in my front yard."
"Did he have a gun?"
Danny shook his head a little. This is nuts.
"He had a chicken," LaFebre murmured.
"A chicken?" This sounded less and less believable.
Uri, having overheard the conversation, gestured towards the mailbox.
Danny felt his pulse quicken as he stared at the bloody feathers and remains of a chicken that had been torn in two over the mailbox. His mouth went dry.
"What would you do?" LaFebre implored.
Not answering LaFebre, Danny murmured to Uri: "How's his wife?"
"Okay -- physically. Pretty scared. Her doc came out and checked her. Says both she and the fetus are fine."
"Of course they are fine," LaFebre replied. "I stopped the curse."
"Mr. LaFebre, your wife and baby are fine because that's the way an overwhelming number of pregnancies are," Danny told him. "They can't be harmed by simple incantation and words."
"He was a witch," LaFebre whispered urgently, perspiration collecting on his forehead. "Said so. Part of a coven."
"And why did he pick on you?"
"The baby, he wanted the baby. He was a witch that's plain enough. I know I'll now be the cursed one, but that's okay, my family is safe."
Danny rubbed his finger around the edge of his collar and loosened his tie a little. Now I'm starting to sweat, too. "Why would he want your baby?"
LaFebre huddled back on the seat, arms drawn up around him and shook his head. Although Danny tried to question him further, he refused to answer.
At last Danny sighed and got out of the car. "Take him downtown - hold him without a charge for the moment," he advised the uniformed officer. "Have the psychologist check him out."
The officer nodded and stepped away.
Danny turned back to face the mutilated bird on the mailbox. He and Kono exchanged looks.
"LeFabre's definitely off the deep end," Kono commented.
"Something sure went on here though," Danny said pointing to the mailbox. "Mailman didn't bring that. And there is the dead man's getup." He sighed. "Still doesn't justify killing him. I can hear the defense -- temporary insanity -- already." He glanced towards Uri who was completing the paperwork on Cooper. "Oh, Uri, call the Post Office. Defacing a mailbox is a federal offense -- even if the guy is dead."
Kono gave a smirk. "Nothing like having a new guy to assign all the dumb stuff to. Post Office will get a big laugh."
Danny closed his notepad and turned away, realizing that there would be little less to laugh about in this affair.
The slam of the car door was easily audible from the barn as was Danny's voice. "Steve! You out here!"
"In the barn," he called back from where he was brushing the silky side of the chestnut quarter horse named Champ.
Danny was met by the musky smell of hay and horses as he entered the barn. There was something earthy and invigorating about the atmosphere. I can understand why Steve bought the ranch, even if it works him too hard.
Steve glanced at his friend noting Danny was in a suit. "I would have invited you out for the ride," he said with a half smile, "but it looks like you're working."
Danny sighed. "Like you ever took a Saturday off."
Steve placed the brush in the grooming bucket and patted Champ's neck. "So is your visit pleasure or business?"
Danny pursed his lips and gave a self-conscious grin. "Is it that obvious?"
McGarrett turned from the horse giving Danny his undivided attention, and crossed his arms. "Let me guess -- it's about the Cooper killing."
Surprise registered for just a moment, to be replaced by a grin. "That police scanner. You really listen to that thing?"
"Of course I do," he replied. He headed for the house. "Ready for a cup of coffee?"
Danny followed him into the kitchen and Steve poured two cups while Danny told of the events involving Cooper and LaFebre.
"Is LaFebre going to plead insanity?" Steve asked.
"Hasn't yet -- just insists that Cooper was cursing the baby. I've got to admit, I don't know a lot about this kind of thing. Most of the office is pretty spooked by it. Except Uri -- he's too green to know when to be scared."
Steve gave a chuckle. "Time to hit the library."
"I could use some of your insight on this," Williams admitted quietly. "That is if you aren't too busy."
"I don't know," Steve remarked, "I'm pretty busy -- as you can tell."
"Yeah," Danny remarked. He pushed the mail aside to set down his cup, and the return address on an envelope caught his eye. Brown &Beck Oncology. "Steve? Everything all right?"
Steve scooped up the mail and straightening it, removed it to his desk. "Of course, shouldn't it be? I think I'm doing pretty good for an old guy who took a bullet in the chest two months ago."
Danny did not smile back. "You'd tell me if something was wrong, right?"
"Of course I would," Steve replied, attempting to sound sincere.
Something is wrong -- he won't tell me. Why? He thinks I need his help. He doesn't want to disappoint me. But that was an oncology office -- He waited for a moment. I can't beg him to tell me. Can I? Maybe it's nothing. He says it's nothing. It's probably nothing.
"What's all this stuff?" Audrey asked pointing to the pile of reference books on the kitchen table of the apartment. She had completed her third attempt to get her Uncle Steve's attention with little results and was now offended.
"Homework," Danny muttered as he picked up one of the books.
"Listen to this," Uri who occupied the third chair remarked as though Audrey had never spoken. "'The figure of the Devil resembles a spirit of Evil. As Lord of the Underworld, or Hell, and caretaker of the souls of the wicked dead, the Devil of Christian tradition also bears resemblance to other underworld spirits of ancient mythology.' This whole idea of Satanism is based on mythology. Just religious mumbo-jumbo."
Gideon, without a word of comment, placed glasses of iced-tea before each man, then left the room.
"It got Cooper killed didn't it?" Danny replied.
"Who says Cooper told LaFebre he was a witch?" Steve remarked. "Did LeFabre's wife make a statement about that?"
"Wife didn't say anything," Danny replied with a sigh. "They sedated her and admitted her for observation. She was on the edge of a nervous breakdown."
"Devil? Witches?" Audrey asked, eyes wide, "Like horns and pitchforks and stuff?"
"Audrey, please," Danny cut her off. "Gideon!" he called the old valet. "Can we find Audrey somewhere else to be?"
She crossed her arms in a pout as Gideon reappeared and tugged her out of Danny's home office.
"See?" Uri added as though Audrey's opinion was confirmation. "It's like the guy said he was the Wizard of Oz. Would you kill him for that?"
"Maybe we're going about this all wrong. Cooper's family denied any knowledge of his being a witch, Satanist, or anything else religious. That barn incident was on the other side of town and there doesn't seem to be any tie--except for the animal sacrifice. Maybe we should just let this go and let the DA worry about LeFabre's sanity," Danny said.
"Is that what your gut feeling tells you?" Steve inquired, already knowing the answer.
Danny poked a pen at the notepad. "This is giving me the creeps." He couldn't explain his feelings, but something about this made the hair on his neck crawl. "Maybe it's all superstitious nonsense, not worth the time."
But none of them