Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song
by Peg Keeley
"Hi, Kono, how're you feeling?"
Kono opened his eyes, recognizing the voice of his friend. "Hey, Danno," he whispered around the naso-gastric tube. "Feels like hell."
"Yeah," Danny replied softly. "I can only imagine." No I can't. I can't imagine anything like this. I have never seen anything like this, experienced anything like or had anyone I know survive something like this.
"What you doin' here? What time is it?" Kono asked. He moved his arm and when he did, the pain in his gut flared again. He was cold right now, but ten minutes before been steaming in sweat. They had told him he had a fever.
"It's about five in the morning," Danny admitted.
"You should be asleep, man."
"Can't sleep." Danny did not reveal that when he had tried to sleep he'd experienced bizarre and terrifying nightmares that he could not explain.
"Who's winning the series?" Kono whispered.
"I don't know," he answered. Gee, that must be a first. Imagine me not knowing a ballgame stat like the series.
Kono eyed him for a moment. "You don't look too good. What's this not knowing the ball score?"
"Look who's talking about not looking good," Danny said in attempt of humor.
"Am I dying or something?" Kono murmured. "You sure look shook up."
"You're going to be fine," he hastened to assure his friend. Is he? Do I know that? This is all so foreign. I don't know anything except I cannot sleep again and face those images.
"Chancy?" Kono asked, trying to keep speaking to a minimum. It was tiring to talk.
"She was here yesterday. I'll see if she can come back later today, okay?"
"I need to give her something."
"Write her something for me," he pleaded.
"What do you want me to say?" Danny asked.
He frowned partly in pain, part in frustration. "You know what to say -- you know how I feel. And buy her something -- fruit -- buy her fruit to go with it."
"Kono - do you remember anything? The driver? The old man?"
"Guy in the flower shop?" Kono stared into nothing. "Yeah."
"Anything different about him?"
He gazed at Danny. "He almost got run over."
"Right. By the guy who shot you -- maybe there is a connection. Remember anything about him?"
Kono closed his eyes. "He ordered gladiolas."
Danny blinked. If Kono couldn't identify different roses, how did he know what a gladiola was?
Kono gave a pained smile, as if to say he'd read his partner's mind. "My mama always said they were a funeral flower -- flowers for the dead. Don't want no flowers for the dead."
"Flowers for the dead?"
Danny whispered. Could Thornton's flower order have been a signal to someone?
To whom? And what was the message? Someone dying? Who? Thornton himself? One
thing was for certain: that old man's role was becoming more and more plain.
Danny exited the hospital and went to the quiet alcove of beach that he used to frequent with his childhood sweetheart in high school. He briefly questioned the wisdom of his action, but dismissed it, permitting his mind to run with abandon through the thoughts he had been attempting feverishly to repress.
Chancy. Her eyes, her smile, her soft touch. His face tingled with the recollection of her fingertips on his skin from the evening before. Her kiss, even in her surprise, had been pure honey. Her delicate features, her caring hand held lightly in his own, all of her was intoxicating.
Kono loves her. It's no wonder. I made fun of him, but she really in an angel. Kono. I need to stop this. I need to be loyal to him. But she is so -- perfect.
He sighed, relaxing back amongst the rocks of the shoreline and gazed at the violet pre-dawn sky. He was tired, but could not rest. Write a love poem for Chancy? That won't be hard. Pulling out his notepad, he began to scribble out a short poem to her, realizing that it expressed his feelings -- but would contain Kono's name.
Steve poured coffee for Danny and himself, not making mention of the fatigue that was plain on the features of his young officer. Chin already sat waiting, a cup of tea nested between his hands.
"How is Kono?" Steve asked, deciding to get through the personal stuff first.
"I was there this morning. He's still running a fever, but he's alert. Still doesn't remember anything about the shooting," Danny offered. He dumped some sugar into the black coffee.
Steve handed out his brief report. "I looked into the flower shop. Been there for fifteen years, owned by the same owner-- Mamiko Sye. She has three children: seventeen-year-old son who's had one minor brush with the law. He shoplifted a 45-record a year ago. Two other children are girls, aged 12 and 9. She is paying a loan on the business, rents the storefront from Hank McClean. She came here from Japan in 1947." He stopped and allowed his men to look over the report. By itself, there was nothing much that would help the case, but Steve had learned that it was often the detail that made the difference in the end. "Danno, what about your hit and run victim?"
"Name is Everett Thornton," Danny handed Steve and Chin copies of Thornton's driver's license. "Retired from the marines as a full-bird colonel after the second world war. No family ties here or anywhere else. Worked for a real estate firm from 1947 until he retired two years ago. Living comfortably on savings and pension. Sure did not want to talk to me or anyone else. Acted like he was in fear. Apartment was locked up like a vault." He paused. "I went to see Kono. He remembered Thronton -- and his flower order. Said it was gladiolas -- flowers of the dead."
"Flowers of the dead?" Steve said with surprise. "Gladiolas?"
"Well, Kono said his mother told him that," Danny added with a sheepish grin.
"If she thinks that so might someone else. Some kind of message?" Steve gave a single nod. And the date of 1947 had come up twice, but it might mean nothing -- or everything. "Someone tried to hit him, understandable that he's nervous."
"And maybe it wasn't an accident," Chin put in. "Maybe he has something to hide."
Steve nodded in agreement. "Exactly. If we can learn what he's hiding, we may be led back to our shooter. Danno, anything on that tattoo?"
He shook his head. "I'll keep working on it this morning." He felt a shiver run up his spine. The nightmares of the skull with glowing eyes laughing at him, the lightning bolts flashing across his memory had tormented him in his nightmares. Blood had been flowing, dripping, spattering over him. He fought to keep his attention on the meeting.
Chin and Steve were discussing Thornton. Steve decided he would go back to see the man himself today.
Gus Quasar took pride in his artwork. "When I place my art on human canvas, everyone will see it. It must be the best or it is my name that is tarnished," he explained.
Danny had gotten to the shop just after Gus had opened around noon. There was incense burning on the counter, but it did not totally mask the musky smell of marijuana that the artist had been smoking just before. Danny chose not to mention it. "I hear you have one of the greatest collections of tattoo art on the island," Danny commented. "That right?"
Gus smiled, displaying yellowed teeth under his brown mustache. "I do the best -- I also save the best." He did not move, just stood in place smiling at Danny.
Danny tossed a $50 bill onto the counter. "How about a look at your collection?"
"It worth that much, maybe it worth even more," Gus suggested.
Danny gave a wry expression. "And maybe not." He snatched up the money and began to turn.
Gus grabbed hold of the younger man's wrist. "Dat the trouble today -- kids got no patience." He pulled a large three-ring binder from beneath his counter. He opened the cover. "You wanna just look through or can you give me an idea?"
"Skull with crossed lightning bolts," Danny described curtly.
Gus scowled and flipped through several pages of pictures pointing out a few that Danny gave a negative shake to.
They kept looking. As page after page was turned, Danny began to doubt he was going to have spent his $50 wisely, but the word on the coconut wireless had been that Gus was the best and that he collected the art of other tattoo artists in photos.
At last Gus had turned the last page. "None of them, huh?"
Danny attempted to hide his disappointment.
"You know, sometimes work is done overseas -- China, Japan, Tahiti, anywhere. And sometimes on onboard ship by amateurs." Gus shrugged. "I started another book -- not one of works I do, but of works I've seen. Some not so good -- some very special." He gave a toothy grin. "I show you that if you want, but it be extra -- and don't go show me that nickel stuff."
Danny hesitated, then peeled out five twenties.
Gus just looked at him. "Dream on, boy, you ain't never seen stuff like this."
Curiosity was beginning to rise as Danny dropped another sixty in twenties, one at a time on that stack.
Gus made a face.
Danny stepped back. "All I got, man, want it or no?"
Gus scowled. "Charity work, that's what I do all the time, charity work." Leaving the money on the counter, he walked back behind a tapestried curtain, then returned with another picture album. This was about half the size of the first. "Here you go." He handed it to Danny and picked up the money.
Danny flipped open the volume and almost instantly blushed in surprise. The first several drawings were definitely triple-x rated material. He glanced up at Gus.
Gus shrugged. "I don't do that kind of dirt. Who'd want their mama seeing that trash someday, know what I mean? Your tattoo work is you -- it identifies you to the world. Here " he spun the book around the flipped through several pages. "..I got some amateur stuff, mostly military unit stuff. Guys units made up some kind of secret pass code for a brother bond type of thing."
Danny flipped only one page when the image struck him like a blow. The skull, left cranium shattered, red glowing eyes and an evil grin missing four teeth caught his breath away. There was a circle of black and yellow flame about it and crossed yellow lightning bolts beneath with a small box on the x that had a three-digit number -- 169. Danny could feel his legs shaking. It took him nearly a minute to remember to breathe.
Gus was staring at him, attempting to look dis-interested. "Found it, huh?"
Danny looked up at him, trying to look in control, but his heart was racing, his hands nervously gripping the countertop. "Know anything about it?"
"Yeah." He pulled out the photo and read the notations on the back. "Friend at the local morgue gave it to me. Tattoo of a Marine group in Japan during the second world war. Some kind of blood pact. This dude broke it, or so my friend said." Gus handed Danny the photo. "Guy got chopped -- know what I mean?"
Gus squinted at the tiny writing. "One knife stab through the eye punctured his skull into the brain." He gave a little grin. "Ouch."
Danny gave no return smile. "I need to borrow this."
Gus reluctantly handed him the photo. "I suppose you're a cop and I'll get this back, right?"
Danny nodded. "And the name of your friend from the morgue?"
Steve knocked on the door of apartment 710, a search warrant comfortably in his breast pocket.
The apartment manager beside him was upset and concerned. He ran a nice, upper-class apartment building, he was not used to Five-0 detectives waving search warrants at him demanding admittance, let alone the chief of Five-0 himself.
"Everett Thornton," Steve called. "This is Steve McGarrett of Five-0. I need to talk with you." There was no response. He knocked again. "Thornton." He motioned the manager to unlock the door.
The nervous man did so, then stepped back.
Steve cautiously stepped into the darkened apartment. "Thorton?" he called one more time, but there was no response. He walked into the apartment, careful to touch nothing, disturb nothing. The drapes were all drawn shut, morning sunlight attempted to glow through them. The small living room was reasonably neat, last night's paper was folded to one side. Steve glanced at it momentarily. Anything there that would give a clue? Thornton smoked, or someone else here did -- there was an ashtray littered with butts, smoked down to the filter. Steve slipped one into a small paper evidence bag. He moved to the closet, only one size men's clothing. Everett lived alone. In the back of the closet hanging in clear plastic cleaner's bag was a dress blues Marine uniform. On the shelf above, a dress sword. No doubt about Thronton's military background. Steve walked around, carefully checking drawers, cabinets and other things. He picked up a photo album from a bookshelf noting the dust. The volume had not been touched in some time.
Circling the apartment,
Steve came to the small pad near the telephone. Scribbled on the corner of one
sheet was a phone number Steve recognized right away. "Bill Hannah,"
The receptionist of the Honolulu Star Bulletin recognized Steve and gave him a smile. "Good morning, Mr. McGarrett."
He returned the cordial smile. "How are you, Sissy?"
"Just fine, and yourself?"
"You make the day better," he commented to her. He wasn't totally sure why he flattered women this way -- it seemed to please them and unless he needed to show his power, he enjoyed making others feel good. Maybe it was his flip side to the terror he could strike to the guilty. "Bill Hannah in?"
"I'll check," Sissy answered. She turned to her phone console and moments later turned back. "He's on his way down."
Seconds later, Bill greeted Steve, extended hand and broad smile. "Good to see you, Steve. Are you tossing a hot story my way?"
He gave a smug grin. "Perhaps. Then again, maybe you'd like to help me."
"Me help you?" He chuckled. "Just as long as you don't try to get me to violate that confidentiality between reporter and source."
That's exactly what I want to make you do. But Steve just smiled benevolently. "Everett Thornton."
Bill directed Steve towards the small conference room off to the side. The reporter's expression never changed. "Is that supposed to mean something to me?" he asked with a shrug of his shoulders."
"I thought it might," Steve responded. "Your phone number was on his desk."
Bill shrugged. "I get lots of phone calls, Steve."
McGarrett lifted an eyebrow. "I suppose you do. Did Thronton call you?" he said cutting to business.
Bill gave a simple smile. "I don't remember, Steve, and if I did-"
"Still trying to find that angle for your great American novel?" Steve suddenly asked.
"History," Bill corrected, "I write history."
"Ah, that's right!" McGarrett smiled. "How about the history of an old Marine's war stories?"
"Hannah, to the best of my knowledge, Thornton hasn't committed a crime -- but someone may have tried to kill him. I think you may know why."
Bill gave a quiet sigh.
"Or maybe the book is worth more if he's dead?" Steve gave Bill a speculative look.
Bill's mouth dropped. "McGarrett, that is just not fair!"
Steve grabbed Hannah's arm.
"Unless you share what you know, dead may be what Thornton is."
"Mean looking thing," Chin muttered through his pipe as he examined the photo of the tattoo. "This offa a dead man?"
"Dead ex-Marine who violated the terms of his pact. Killed last year," Danny announced. "Unit 169 stationed in Okinawa from 1944 through 1947. At one time it was under the command of none other than our Colonel Thronton."
Steve looked up from the notes Hannah had provided. "Thornton was in command from November 45 till March of 47. He claims to have assisted more than fifty Japanese families relocate to the States."
"How do you suppose he did that?" Chin muttered.
Steve turned a page. "Falsify some paperwork, get the right signatures."
"Why?" Danny asked.
"Japan was a nation in economic collapse and reconstruction. The immigration service set up limits and waiting periods," Chin offered.
That isn't what this is about, I know that. Danny sat staring into the red blazing eyes of the tattoo. But what is? There is something about this.
Chin tapped out his pipe on the edge of the trashcan as Steve circled the office snapping his fingers. At last, his thoughts jelled, Steve turned to his team. "I want an APB out for Thornton. Let's talk to him. I want to know why one of his former squad members tried to hit him -- and I want to know who that man is."
Chin gave a nod and turned towards the door.
"And Chin," Steve called him back. "I want you to go back to the flower shop. Take this with you and let me know if Mrs. Sye can identify any of them." He handed Chin a copy of the group photo that he'd removed from Thornton's album.
Danny had been studying another copy of the same photo, trying to recall the face of the driver, but with no luck.
As Chin left, Steve looked over at him. "Anything?"
He looked up quickly. "I'll take this to Kono."
"You never saw the shooter, did you?" Steve asked quietly.
"No," he muttered stiffly, feeling his pulse quicken.
Steve gave a single nod and turned back to his desk. "See what Kono can tell us. Good work with that tattoo."
Steve's compliment regarding
the tattoo barely registered, Danny was in earnest to escape the office. McGarrett
must think I am a real foul-up. Maybe I am.
Mamiko's shop was almost empty except for the girl who was picking out flowers to take to a sick relative. Chin remained unnoticed in the far corner as Mamiko chatted with the customer in Japanese. Having been born and raised in Hawaii, Chin found it easier to accept Japanese that did many of his family, but he had to work at it. Haoles and Hawaiian alike rarely understood that Japanese and Chinese had nothing in common and were certainly not to be lumped together as "Orientals." He remembered one of his few barroom brawls had been in 1943 when a drunken sailor had called him a Jap. The sailor had not cared that Chin's uncle had fled Manchuria in 1932 before invading Japanese forces or that Chin had lost two cousins in the second Sino-Japanese war that seemed to be the forgotten portion of the second world war. Chin doubted the sailor cared any more after their "discussion" but Chin had left the man six weeks to think about it while the man's broken right arm would heal. I was young and a hothead. Now I am older, more forgiving -- and this woman has done me no ill. But both she and I know exactly who each of us is.
The jangle of the bell over the door startled Chin back to the present. The customer had left and he approached the counter.
Mamiko looked at him, distrust in her eyes.
Aha, there it is. No Matter. "Mamiko Sye?" he asked of her.
She gave a half-nod, her eyes never leaving his.
"Chin Ho Kelley, Five-0." He showed his badge. "Do you know a man named Everett Thornton?"
She gripped her hands beneath the counter. "The man who buy flowers. Yes, the other officer asked about him. I gave him information." Her sentence was rushed and full of fear.
Chin nodded and produced the marine group photo. "You see him in here?"
She gave a barely audible gasp upon seeing the images of the men. "No," she said quickly and averted her look.
"The picture is a few years old," Chin commented. "Maybe you should look again."
"I see him only once," she answered, nearly a plea. "He just a white man."
Chin pushed the photo out again. "Is he in this picture?" He persisted. She is terrified -- of Thornton? Something else? Maybe just Americans in uniform.
She was nearly shaking now. "No, no I don't see him. Too long -- please don't make me."
"I do not know him," she repeated. "Please, you go now."
Chin frowned. "Mrs. Sye, why is this picture so upsetting to you? Is there something else you need to tell us?"
"It was long ago. A difficult time. A terrible time. Please, just leave me alone," she pleaded.
Chin knew there was something more, but could tell she was too frightened to reveal what. "We can protect you, Mamiko," he promised, using her first name. "If there is someone who -"
"Nothing," she interrupted, attempting to control her feelings. "I cannot help you, Mr. Kelley."
"I am worried about Mr. Thornton; you may be also," Chin commented laying his card on the counter. "If you see him, or remember anything else, call me." She gave no acknowledgement as he left the shop. He went to the car and picked up the radio. "This is Kelley, patch me to McGarrett."
"Go ahead, Chin," came Steve's voice in moments.
"Mrs. Sye is one scared
lady, Steve. She did not like that photo one bit. Maybe nothing -- but I think
she knows more than she's saying. It may be Saturday, but I've have HPD call
someone in to keep an eye on her."
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