Goats and Chickens
A woman with a pretty smile answered the door. From her Polynesian features Lonnie assumed she was Ronny's mother. "Hello?" she said.
"Hi, I'm Lonnie. I came to help Ronny with her English for her test."
"Yes, she told me you were coming." She turned away from the door and he followed her inside. "Would you like some lemonade? Ronny will be right down."
He sat in the parlor as the ceiling fan gently turned overhead. The old house was not air-conditioned; these older homes had been built with open spaces and an air flow to keep one comfortable. For some reason he found himself remembering Lincoln Adair's big mansion in New York.
"Lonnie!" Ronny burst into the room. "Hi! Fahn told me you were here!"
"Fahn?" he asked.
"The house keeper," she laughed.
"I thought she was your mom," he said with a grin.
Ronny laughed outright. "Not hardly. Come on." She led him to the back of the house and the patio. As they walked out, three or four cats all bolted off the furniture and two more eyed them coolly without moving.
"You really do have a lot of cats," Lonnie remarked rubbing one's chin.
She shrugged. "Mama cat keeps having them."
"Why don't you spay her?"
"Why should we? I like kittens." She plopped down on a lounge chair and picked up her English book. "You know, the kids at school think you're kind of different."
Lonnie froze, concern clouding his face. "What do you mean?"
"Don't be mad. One of the kids said you're the kid that sings that they brought from the other school."
"You like to sing?"
"Yeah," he replied, his defenses still at full alert.
She giggled. "And… Sharon says you're adopted."
"I'm not adopted," he fired back, anger surfacing. "Look, maybe you'd better find somebody else-"
She jumped up and two cats leapt from the windowsill nearby. "Please, I'm not trying to be mean. I just wanted to know - you know, if what people say is true or not."
He glared at the ground. "Look, why did you ask me to help you? I'm just in seventh grade. I don't know eighth grade stuff." She's going to make fun of me. I'm not like everyone else in this school. They are all smart and rich and….
She touched his arm. "I really need your help. My writing is really really bad. And if I get help from someone in my class they will laugh at me. Please - Lonnie, I wasn't trying to make you mad."
His brows were still knit in suspicion. "I'm not adopted. And I guess I sing okay. But I'm not different."
Ronnie settled herself back with her English text. "Well, I'm different. I like being different. Who'd want to be like everyone else?"
There was a motion in the doorway. "Ronny?"
"Mother!" She jumped to her feet. "Come meet Lonnie."
Lonnie stared at the woman who came out onto the patio.
She blinked and squinted in the bright afternoon light like her eyes were unaccustomed to brightness. Her skin was a pallid, unhealthy white, almost translucent and she seemed little more than skin and bones. But she had a quick, gentle smile. "A pleasure to meet you, dear," she said to him extending a fragile hand.
He accepted it with a gentlemanly shake, although the coldness of it was frightening. "The same, I'm sure," he answered trying to put on good manners.
She turned away into the house, her voice following her. "Play nicely, children."
Lonnie raised an eyebrow, hesitate to ask about Ronny about her mother, but the woman seemed strange. He remembered Jay's comment about Ronny's family. "Your mom, hum, she seems nice."
"Saturdays are hard for her," Ronny offered. Lonnie tried to get things going on the English help, but could tell Ronny's mind wasn't on it.
"Do you like me?" she suddenly asked looking him in the eye.
Flushing, he shrugged. "Sure."
"Can I show you something?" She sounded like a little child with a secret. He shrugged again and she grabbed him by the hand and led him to her room where she picked up a small wooden jewelry box sitting on the windowsill. "My mother gave this to me two months ago." She carefully lifted out a delicate golden chain from which dangled a beautiful tear-shaped crystal. The afternoon sunlight caught the facets of the crystal and small shimmering rainbows danced around the room. "Isn't it beautiful"" she asked.
"Cool," he said with a grin and laughed as they playfully swung the crystal and caused the fractured beams to swirl through the room. "Was it your birthday or something?"
"Or something," she replied. She moved the crystal and the rainbows bounced off the little black kitten sitting on her bed. It batted its paws at the light and they both laughed. Ronny grinned, feeling very satisfied. Mother liked Lonnie; that was a good sign.
"It is good to see you, My Son," Father Donnelly greeted Steve McGarrett as he came into the priest's office.
It seemed comical that a man thirty years his junior would call him 'my son', but Steve accepted it kindly as part of the way the Catholic Church operated. For many years he'd given the Church and all it's traditions very little attention; his job had been his religion. Yet lately it seemed like it might not be a bad idea to begin a reintroduction to the religion of his youth. Coming to grips with the facts of one's mortality had a way of changing one's perspective. "Thank you for seeing me, Father."
Donnelly took a seat at his desk and Steve sat across from him. "How may I help you"
"I actually need some information for a friend," he started. "The Catholic Church has always been outspoken against witchcraft and such. I need some advice."
"Is this official police business?" he asked calmly.
"Yes and no. There have been some incidents lately. I guess we're not sure how serious they are."
Donnelly placed his elbows on the table, pressing his fingertips together for a moment. "That depends on who you ask, doesn't it? There are those who believe strongly in the presence of demonic forces. Others look at the supernatural as superstition. And still others think it is a game. Officially, the Church believes in the possibility of demonic activity, demon possession and the reality of Satan. After all, you can't believe in good and not in evil. I think a lot of what people point to as witchcraft or demonism is just fantasy. Voodoo and such has no power unless the person believes in its power. It's all in the mind."
Steve digested that for a minute. "Then you wouldn't see Satanism as a threat?"
"I didn't say that exactly. True Satanism--worshipping of Satan involves some pretty bizarre black mass rituals that are perversions of true God worship, intended to blaspheme God Himself. Those rituals can involve mutilation of animals. Hundreds of years ago there were human sacrifices." He paused. "But today?" He waved a hand. "Most people are too intelligent to even entertain such a concept. Funny thing though. One of my parishioners had a son run away. We've had people praying for his safe return. She says she thinks he was dabbling in Satanistic practice."
Steve's attention was caught. "Oh? Did she report this to the police?"
He gave a simple grin. "The young man is seventeen. A very rocky home life with an alcoholic father. He ran away from home. It's pretty obvious the mother is grasping at straws."
"When did this happen?"
He scratched his head. "A while ago. Let's see. Yes, it was the beginning of February."
He jotted it down. "Can you give me the name?"
"I'm sure the mother wouldn't mind. Chuck Yakamura. Chinese family."
Steve wrote that down, too.
"Did he meet his girl?" Danny asked.
Uri shrugged. "Mom said the girl was a student but could only remember her last name--Moony, or something like that."
Danny frowned. "Was it Moony or wasn't it?"
Uri seemed a little nervous. "She couldn't recall."
"Doesn't it seem a little odd that the only clue to her son is a girl whose name she can't remember?" Danny pointed out. "Seems like she's hiding something."
"She sure didn't want to talk to me," Uri added. "Told me she was afraid of a curse."
'Yeah." He chuckled. "She had cloves of garlic hanging all over her house."
Danny did not laugh. "Keep a clear head on this, Uri. It's all superstition, but it got one man scared enough to kill someone. We're going to have to put a lid on this."
"How do we do that?" Kono spoke up. "How do you turn off people's fear?"
Uri nodded in agreement. "That's what this is, you know. Fear of the unknown, things that go bump in the night. Besides, even if there is some kind of Satan worship going on, don't those people have a freedom to worship as they chose? Who says they can't worship a demon if they like? And what difference does it really make anyway?"
"When their worship violates the law, we stop it," Steve answered. "Now according to the Priest, there is a remote possibility that they kidnapped a teenager."
"They? Who are they anyway?" Uri pointed out.
Danny walked to the window. "Let's start with Cooper's family. Kono, Uri, go visit them. But don't be confrontational. Just see what they have to say."
After Uri and Kono left Steve poured new coffee. "Kind of a loose spirit, isn't he?" Steve remarked.
"Who?" Danny closed the file leaving the address of Yakamuras on top.
"Motsey." Steve gave a mild smile, a comic twinkle in his eye. "Reminds me of a wild young detective I had once."
"Does not," Danny replied, getting the suggestion.
Steve chuckled. "He'll work out in time. He'll work well for you -- just don't let up on him."
"Let up?" Danny looked over at him. "When I was his age I wanted your job. Now I'd gladly give it to someone else."
Steve sipped the coffee. "Better teach him to make better coffee." He gazed out across the lanai. How many more times will I get to appreciate this view? How much time will there be to enjoy all the things for so long I took for granted.
"I made the coffee," Danny grumbled.
Steve snapped his attention back. "What?"
McGarrett turned back from the lanai. It will be good to keep focused on this case. Danno needs me to stay focused.
Danny tried to look unconcerned, but gave up. "Steve, I need to ask you something."
"Fire away," he replied.
"When I was out at the ranch the other day - I know it's none of my business, but -- that envelope -- you would tell me the truth , right? I mean if…" he ran out of words.
McGarrett flexed his jaw silently. Can I lie to him again? And for what purpose? "I have liver cancer, Danno," he said quietly.
Danny stared at him, nearly overcome by the news.
"I guess the doctor suspected something when I was in the hospital -- ran some blood tests -- then an MRI," Steve felt like he was just babbling.
"Cancer?" Danny whispered.
"They want me to start chemotherapy right away," McGarrett said then added quietly, "They give me six months to a year."
"How did you make out on your English test?" Lonnie ask Ronny at lunch.
"Pretty good," she said as she opened her drink. "Thanks for the help. Did you ask your Dad about Friday yet?"
"No, he's been pretty busy," he replied. "I'm sure it won't really be a problem though." He noticed she was wearing the crystal necklace.
"He's busy a lot, huh"
Lonnie shrugged. "Isn't everybody?"
"What about your mom?"
"Oh, she's dead. Died when I was a baby."
"Sorry," Ronny said quietly.
"It's okay," Lonnie said quickly. "I guess your mom must be sick a lot."
"She's not sick," Ronny countered.
He scowled. "Ronny, she looked so pale."
"She doesn't get out much. And Saturdays are hard because she's always getting over Friday nights. We keep late Friday nights -- as you'll find out if your Dad lets you come!"
He let the comments about Ronny's mom go by. The idea of spending Friday evening on the town with Ronny was more entertaining.
"My sister, Connie, is due to have a baby soon," Ronny suddenly said. A small frown of concern flew across her face and was gone. "I hope it's born in time."
"In time for what?" Lonnie asked.
"For Friday of course!"
He couldn't follow her reasoning but at just that moment, the bell rang for class. He decided to not dig too deeply into her family and just enjoy being with her. My first real girl, he thought to himself, I hope I don't blow it. I'd be the laughing stock of the school.
"Mrs. Cooper, I'm Kono Kalakaua, this is Uri Motsey of Five-O. May we have a minute of your time please?" Kono asked at the door.
Mrs. Cooper, without a word, stepped back from the front door to admit them. She was dressed in black, sadness etched deeply into her features. There were two flowered plants with big bows on the dining room table.
"I know this is a difficult time for you," Kono started, aware her husband's funeral had been that morning. "I have a few questions for you."
There were footsteps approaching and a young woman entered the room. "Mama? Oh." She was surprised at the two officers. Introductions went around again and she introduced herself as Willow.
The name seemed very strange, but Kono said nothing except to write it down. "Your neighbor, Mr. LeFabre, claims your husband --Tony -- tried to put a curse on his unborn child. Said he used some kind of incantation. Did Tony ever take part in anything like voodoo?"
Mrs. Cooper looked at him with eyes empty of emotion. "I have just buried my husband, Mr.Kalakaua. My pastor was there and prayed over him. Do we look like people who would practice voodoo?"
He glanced around the typical middle class home. "I guess not," he replied a bit uncomfortably but internally thought, just what do people who practice voodoo look like anyway? "He never practiced any chants or took part in anything like a black mass? He didn't threaten to curse LaFebre's unborn child?"
Willow jumped to her feet. "That is just enough! For the love of God, leave my dear mother alone!"
"For the love of God, yes, most definitely," Uri interjected quickly. "Did you see the garment your father was wearing when he died? A black robe-like costume. Why was he wearing that?"
She seemed to quiet down some. "Can't a person own a black bathrobe?"
"Do you know where it came from?"
"A clothing store I presume," the girl said, voice edged in fury.
"Except no clothing shops in Honolulu carry something like that -- we asked."
"I don't know," she replied again. "He probably had it for years and years."
"Do you keep chickens?" Uri pushed again.
"But someone killed one on LeFabre's mail box-"
"Yes, yes," Willow snapped, "we all know about the chicken."
"Mr. LeFabre says your father did that. He says he saw him."
"He lied! My father was a gentle, loving person. He could never even think of something so vial."
Uri glanced at Kono who remained silent. "Would you ever have imagined him running around in a black robe either?"
Fury was on her pretty face. "I'm sure there is an explanation. That man next door was crazy. He has been for a long time. He's the one who does odd things, comes and goes all night. Check him out."
"Already have," Uri supplied, but offered no more. "Do you go to church?" he asked suddenly.
"The Presbyterian Church in Aiea. Why?"
"Did your father attend, too?"
Willow shook her head and gazed at the ceiling. "He worshipped the fish god."
"The what?" Uri wrinkled his brow.
"Yeah, you know," she made the gesture of casting fishing rod. "Every Sunday morning out in his boat. So just because he wasn't in church doesn't mean he's a Satan worshipper."
Kono and Uri left shortly after. "You sure didn't say much," Uri remarked to Kono.
"Didn't have to, you were doing enough talking for both of us. Remember the part about being non-confrontational? The Coopers are the victims here, not the criminals." He opened the car door.
Uri got in on the passenger side. "Willow said her father wasn't a Satan worshiper, but I didn't say anything about Satan worship."
Danny sat in the hot car staring across the parking lot at the old stone church for several minutes. I need to take some time here. It must be some mistake, Steve is so healthy, he's always eaten right, exercised - why him? Why not me? And why must I wrestle with these memories of my past right now? Danny had put this off as long as he could. Just walking up to the front of the old Baptist church made him feel apprehensive in a way he could not describe. Maybe it's the ghosts, he thought. Four generations of Willises served, died, and are buried here. He'd attended the church his grandfather had pastored during his early childhood while Grandma Willis was alive. Aunt Clara had thought it was the thing to do. He'd stopped going before he was ten. A lot of my life changed that year. Grandma died, Aunt Clara wanted to return to New York… It wasn't until he'd found Grandpa Willis' diaries as a teen he had realized that church could be more than a religion to anyone, that his grandfather had thought God was a personal friend. By that time, Danny's life had clearly taken a different path and he never looked back.
He walked up the steps at last, feeling a powerful urge to run away and hide. He scolded himself that he was willing to face gun toting felons, but not a minister armed with a Bible.
The reverend was in the sanctuary stacking hymnals. "Aha!" the older man called to him. "I've been expecting you." They shook hands.
Danny felt oddly nervous. "It's good to see you again, Rev. Goethals. Thank you for seeing me." He hesitated. What if he thinks I came to get my soul saved or something? Best to get it out right now. "I have to ask you something: What do you know about Satanism?" he blurted.
The old minister very slowly released Danny's hand. "Are you afraid?"
He blinked. That seemed like an odd question. But he recalled moments before and his urge to run.. "Yes."
"Come on. Be honest."
"Coming in here."
Danny tried to search his feelings. "I don't know. But I almost didn't come."
The minister gave a knowing nod, then gestured towards his office. It was a small cluttered affair with books scattered about. There was a computer that looked a bit out of place in the old musty room and a Bible lying open on the desk. "Before we talk about this, we need to pray."
"Pray? About what?"
"Sssh." The old minister knelt by his desk and commenced his prayer calling upon the name of God, petitioning for heavenly hosts to act as protection against demons of darkness. The prayer ran on for several uncomfortable minutes. At last, Goethals concluded with an "amen." He opened his eyes and rose.
Danny continued to stare at him, dumbfounded. Am I supposed to say amen or something here? What is this all about?
Goethals eased his old frame into the desk chair, and came face to face with Danny, his expression serious and earnest. "Satan is not a myth. Nor is he a guy with a red suit and pitchfork. He is an angel, Scripture refers to him as Star of the Morning, Son of Dawn." He quickly leafed from his Bible to a passage. "Right here." He showed it to Danny. "In Isaiah: He's also said to be extremely wise, beautiful." He leafed through again. "Here in Ezekiel. Satan is very real--and very dangerous. Satanism is the most vial of profanities and violates everything sacred." He paused. "It violates life itself. Those who fall into Satanism crave power, are violent, usually want answers about future events. They are desperate seeking people. Most of them don't really think they are selling themselves. Some think it's just a kick. But the demons are real, they can and do inhabit the unsaved. We're not talking about some force that can be turned on and off like a light switch. Demons are real, thinking, plotting spirits."
Danny continued to stare at Goethals trying to let what he said sink in. He could feel a sensation of terror lurking in the back of his mind. I don't want to accept this. I need the real, the concrete that I can touch, that I can arrest and lock up. Primitive superstitions, that's what this is. What is it Steve always says? The church exists to exploit the vulnerable. Am I vulnerable? Finally he murmured. "What about the Satanists? What do they do? What are they like?"
Goethal gave a half laugh. "What are they like? They are like every day people; most of them anyway. They are teachers, doctors, store clerks."
Danny tried to breathe more calmly. "So this isn't such a big deal then. I mean, if normal people do this thing -- normal people don't sacrifice animals and things, right?"
"I think you are referring to the black mass."
Danny wasn't sure what he was referring to, so did not respond. He did realize that Goethals' explanations were not quite as innocent as Father Donnelly's had been. Goethals was deadly serious about this whole thing and that was terrifying. Goethals is an old man in an old church that does things the old way. This is the 20th century, not the Dark Ages. He has to be wrong. I should have gone to a young guy instead of this old dinosaur.
"The black mass itself can be presented in any of several ways but always there is eventually blood sacrifice. Often it's goats or cats. I hate to say it, but sometimes, even now it's human. Usually newborn infants," Goethals explained.
Danny frowned, images of butchered goats and torn chickens flooding back over him. LeFabre had been afraid for his unborn child. Then he recalled the report of the missing teen. "If a mother told you her runaway son was kidnapped by Satanists would you believe it?"
Goethals raised his eyebrows. "You make that too simple. Perhaps. There are certain special days in demonology. Satanists bring special offerings at those times. I really don't want to send you off on a wild goose chase about this. Runaways can happen for many reasons having nothing to do with this."
Danny pulled out the 3x5 pictures of the barn scene and handed them over to Goethals, trying not to let his hands shake.
The clergyman examined them several moments, concern deepening in the wrinkles of his face. "Danny, this is serious business."
"Well, I've gathered information from several sources, most of them said it was merely superstition," he replied. Please tell me that this is a hoax.
Goethals handed the photos back. "Then why did you come here?"
That is a good question. Why did I come here? Because this was my grandfather's church? Because I remember Rev. Goethals from my childhood? Because it is a kind of home? "Because their answers didn't feel right."
"May I be frank with you?" the pastor asked patiently. He waited to be certain he had Danny undivided attention. "This is too big for you. You are not prepared to fight this."
Danny felt pride rear up inside. "We've handled tougher things than this," he answered, trying not to sound boastful.
"You are not going up against thieves with guns, Dan. This is a different kind of battle. And you are no more ready for this than a four-year-old would be to stop a bank robbery with a water pistol." He reached into his desk. "This experience is going to require you to reach into your past."
"My past"" he asked, confusion plain, but ice gripped his heart. My past is better left right where it is -- in the past.
"The defense against Satan lies within you. You have ignored it for a long time. But I know it is there."
"What is exactly is that?" he replied, although he did not want to hear the answer.
"You gave your soul to God in this church at the age of eight. Do you remember that?"
"Not really," he replied, feeling embarrassed. Maybe that was what causes the fear -- childhood experiences in churches. Maybe that is why I never take the kids. The church must have frightened me then like it is right now. At eight I was too young, too small, too innocent - too defenseless. Where was God when that was torn away from me? Where was God when Lani died? When Mali died? Whatever Goethals tells me is a lie. I should not have come here.
Goethals, seeming to be ignorant of the emotional war raging in the mind of the man next to him took a small New Testament out of his desk. "For you. Keep it with you."
He did not want to touch it, to pick it up. He stared at it. It's just a book, just like any other book of myth and fairy tales. It won't hurt to pick it up. But he could not reach out.
"Danny?" Goethals looked across at him, his expression open. "You don't believe me, do you?"
The problem is that I do believe you. "I don't know what to believe," he replied truthfully.
The response did not seem to surprise Goethals at all. "For now, just accept the gift. We can talk again later if you'd like. This is not a rabbit's foot, Danny. It is a source of strength. To find that strength you will have to read it." He picked up the small volume and placed it into Danny's hand as if he knew the detective had been unable to pick it up himself.
Danny felt his fingers close around the simulated black leather. He put the New Testament into his jacket pocket, convincing himself he was accepting it, more to not hurt Goethal's feelings than anything. Practically he thought: Right now I'm not going to turn away any form of help.
Danny left the church headed back to the office. The minister had been disquieting--worse than that, Danny felt a cold hand of fear gripping him. It was something he could not quite explain, but he felt inadequate. Maybe we really can't handle this; maybe I am helpless to deter this. It took every bit of forced concentration to remind himself he was still dealing with a homicide and to approach the situation from that angle.