Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song
by Peg Keeley
Steve swung the Mercury hard up onto the curbing by the flower shop. The coroner's wagon was already there: Berman would be about somewhere. Neighbors were peeking out of doorways, watching and police went in and out of the door of the shop, up and down the stairway of the little apartment, carrying small boxes and bags of clues to the death of the flower shop owner. Steve spotted Chin right away.
"Her son, Clem," he motioned towards the teenager standing to one side, looking desperate, yet brave. "He found her. Called paramedics, but it was way too late for that."
Bergman joined them. "Died about ten hours ago -- during the night. Looks like a suicide. Stabbed herself with a kitchen knife, hari-kari style."
"Are you sure it's suicide?" Steve demanded. "Why would a mother of three kill herself?"
Bergman shrugged. "Can't give you a clear answer for either of those. The little girls are with the neighbor lady. CPS has been notified."
Steve looked again at Mamiko's son and wished he had Danny there to talk to the teen. "Chin, is Danno on the way?"
"Couldn't find him. I guess he took his Sunday off," Chin commented.
Steve just nodded, then crossed over to where the boy, who was now watching him approach, stood stiffly trying to keep his courage. "My name is Steve McGarrett. Mamiko was your mother?"
"Yes," he whispered, dark fear in his eyes.
"Your name is Clem, is that right?"
He managed a nod.
"Clem, let's get away from here for a minute," Steve suggested. "Let me buy you a Coke."
He hesitated, fear growing.
"It's all right. We'll just walk down to the corner and get a Coke. Everyone will know where we are." He glanced back a Chin who nodded.
Clem allowed Steve to lead him away from the site of his mother's death.
"You have had a very hard day," Steve said, searching to sound empathic.
"I don't understand," he whispered.
"Your mother wasn't unusually upset? She didn't mention any problems to you?" Steve paid for two soft drinks from the outdoor vender and handed Clem one.
Clem accepted the drink and shook his head. "She was afraid that the men would come."
"I don't know. She was always afraid people would come and make her go back to Japan. She told us to be good so we could always stay here."
"Were you and your sisters born here?"
He nodded. "She was just afraid."
"Did you ever see these men?" He held out the marine photo.
He scowled at it. "I think so, but this picture is old." He tapped Thornton' face. "He used to come to the shop when I was younger. Sometimes Mom would argue with him or they would talk. Then he would go away. He never hurt her, never even raised his voice to her."
"She talked about other men - or maybe just one man, but I never saw him." He sighed and glanced back up the street. "What are they going to do with us? What will happen to my sisters?"
Steve did not want to have to tell him he did not know, so he went back to the subject. "Clem, do you think your mother killed herself?"
He made eye contact with Steve. "I don't know why she would do this. She loved us, Mr. McGarrett. She would never leave us."
Steve nodded quietly. "Clem,
she must have been a fine person. I'm going to see to it that you and your sisters
are cared for." I am? How am I going to do that?
Bright Monday morning delivered the coroner's report on Mamiko. It was on Steve's desk promptly by 7:00AM. Chin arrived and Steve showed it to him.
"No signs of a struggle. No prints but hers on the knife. Body was not touched after it fell -- be pretty hard to use that kind of evidence to prove homicide," Chin commented.
"But she had three children to live for," Steve commented. "Unless she thought she was dying for them." He tapped his pen against the blotter and glanced at his watch. "Where's Danno?"
Chin shrugged and noticed it was 7:05. Danny was rarely late.
Steve busied himself with paperwork while Chin went to call Danny's home. The phone on Steve's desk rang.
"This is Officer Kamoleki. We've just detained your APB, Everett Thornton. We are enroute with him to HPD."
Steve jumped from the desk. "Chin, come on. May, when Danny gets here, have him meet us at HPD."
Everett Thornton sat straight in the chair of the interrogation room at HPD, staring straight ahead.
"Everett Thornton?" Steve greeted him.
He pressed his lips together.
"You are Everett Thornton?" Steve repeated.
Thornton did not reply.
Steve sat down across from him and watched him for a moment. "Does this mean anything to you?" He flopped the photo of the skull tattoo onto the table.
Thornton glanced at it, then away.
McGarrett's temper was rising. "Why were you running?"
Thornton just stared at the far wall.
"Did you kill Mamiko Sye?" he demanded.
Thornton glanced at him, but said nothing.
"Unless you start talking, I will charge you with her murder. Now explain to me why that isn't a good idea," Steve declared.
Thornton shook his head slightly. "You have nothing to connect me with her death. I did not kill her."
"You knew we wanted to talk to you."
He again stared at the wall.
"Thornton, I am not going to allow you to leave here. I will find something to stick, promise -- even if it is illegal alien registrations that are 20 years old."
Thornton gave a small smile and looked down at the floor. "So Bill Hannah was not so complete a confidence as I might have hoped."
"Bill Hannah thinks you are a hero of some kind. I do not," Steve snapped. "Obviously someone else doesn't think much of you either. Some one tried to kill you last week."
"Me? Why would anyone care about an old soldier? It was my simple foolishness to step in front of a moving car."
"The officer responding on the hit and run was shot by the driver, Thornton. Kono Kalahkana almost died. I think you know who that driver is and why he was after you. I also think there is a connection between this and why Mamiko Sye would kill herself or be killed. I want that driver."
Thornton gave a slow exhale, as though trying to weigh what was safe to reveal and what at was hot. How much can I tell this McGarrett so that he will let me go?
Steve laid the platoon photo on the table. "Your squad from 1945. Marines, the 169th. The same numbers that appear on the tattoo." He dropped the tattoo photo. He jammed a finger at the face Kono had Ided. "Who is this guy?"
Thornton's composure slipped a little. "You are mistaken."
"I don't think so." Steve grabbed Thornton's arm and yanked the shirtsleeve back revealing the skull tattoo on the back of his lower right arm. "It's time to talk."
Thornton pulled his arm back. "Police dramatics, don't you think, McGarrett?"
"Thornton, you can help us now and we will offer you protection or a deal, or we can sit here and sweat this mess for hours -- and there will be no deal. Which is it to be?"
Everett crossed his arms. "I assisted several Japanese women to come to the United States after World War II. It was not a difficult matter. All I needed was access to the proper forms and American GI names for suitable husbands."
"But there were no real husbands."
"Oh, there were some, but most were delivered here knowing that they would have to make their own way and assimilate into the culture."
"And it worked?"
Thornton shrugged. "I don't know, McGarrett. They went their ways."
"What about Mamiko Saye?"
"What about her?"
"Was she one of the women you brought here?"
He nodded, a little more hesitation evident. "Mamiko was one of the first."
"And did she had a real husband?"
He lifted an eyebrow. "Yes, she did."
McGarrett paused, suspecting the answer. "His name?"
Thornton pursed his lips. "I think you know that answer. I was her husband. She was one of the first. She helped the girls adapt to American life."
"Clem is my son," Everett admitted. "Named for my father actually. I don't know who the father of the girls is. In time it seemed better we not be together."
"Really, McGarrett. Things just happen -- people grow apart -- our cultures were too radically different. I agreed to stay out of her life."
"Clem says a man came around and it frightened his mother. That man you?"
"No," he said quietly. "If she had told me ." He stopped.
Steve pushed the marine photo towards Everett again. "Who would threaten her, Thornton? Was there someone who helped you bring the girls here? Someone who would not want that made public? Someone who would have tried to run you down -- and who would have killed her and made it look like hari-kari?" He put down a photo of Mamiko lying on her floor, dead.
Thornton closed his eyes. "I never should have agreed to talk with Hannah and write that book."
Steve knew he was getting closer. "Why not, Thornton?"
"You need to remember," Thornton said softly. "It had been years -- years -- I didn't think he was still around. I had not seen him -- I did not know! Hannah told me that the twentieth anniversary of the end of the war would been a good time to reveal what we had done to save those women." His voice caught in his throat.
"Who is the other man!" Steve insisted.
"The man in the photo that you have marked -- his name is Alan Dexton. He was a sergeant in my unit. And there was Archibald Fellows," he pointed to a second face. We were trying to do good!"
"Why would Alan Dexton not want you to tell your story to Hannah?"
Tornton buried his face in his hands.
Steve left the interrogation room, knowing Chin would already have alerts out to pick up Dexton and Fellows. He got back to the office, just as Chin arrived in the other car.
"Did you see Danno?" Steve asked as they hurried up the stairway.
"No, I thought he met you," Chin replied, surprise on his face.
Steve put the absent officer aside. "What did you find out?" He opened the door and they stepped into the office.
May turned, accompanied by a young woman. Steve recalled the girl as the one who had accompanied Danny to the hospital. May spoke. "Steve, this is Chancy Jacobi."
He was in a hurry, but tried to slow down. "I believe we met at the hospital," he recalled, nodding towards her.
This man is a police officer who remembers everything. What if he think I have done something wrong? Danny is an officer. He knows this person or I wouldn't be here. This McGarrett has to be a good person, Chancy argued with herself. But her family history still made her cautious. "I think Dan Williams works for you," she started.
He nodded. "Have you seen Dan Williams?"
"Well," she hesitated. "Yesterday. I mean, that's why I'm here. He was supposed to meet me, but he didn't. And he didn't go to the hospital this morning. I was hoping -" she stopped, realizing she already had her answer. McGarrett's concerned look told her he had not seen Danny either. "You don't know either, do you?" she concluded.
He stood before her, mildly surprised. He thought he was better at hiding things than this. "I have not seen him in two days, Chancy."
"I - we - he was upset about not being able to recall the man who shot Kono," she said, wringing her hands. "I helped him remember what he could, but there was something bothering him."
Steve and Chin brought her into Steve's office. "How did you help him?"
"Well, I used some of my mother's techniques for relaxation." Chancy was clearly most uncomfortable.
"Is your mother a therapist?" Steve asked a little harshly.
"She's a fortune teller," Chancy murmured.
Steve stared at her, clearly unprepared for the response he had received. He glanced at Chin whose look was blank. How could he have been so desperate that he would consent to something like that? Steve recalled Danny's response following the accident, his reluctance and obsession with the tattoo.
Chancy hurriedly added. "Well, mama always said that most people have their answers within them -- they just need help finding them. This isn't voodoo and black magic -- I just wanted to help him focus. And he remembered something."
"What?" Steve demanded, abandoning any vestige of diplomacy.
She literally jumped. "He wouldn't tell me. But something was upsetting him. We were on the beach Saturday night and he was -- like something was haunting him. And he did not show up yesterday. I don't know what is happening. I thought he'd be here." Tears were coming to her eyes. "You do believe me?"
Steve tried to sound calm. "Yes, Honey, we believe you. I know you were trying to be helpful -" How ridiculous this all seems! But Danny has not shown up for work. She was the last one to see him. Changing tactics, he tried to put gentleness into his tone. "Chancy, what can you tell me about the last time you saw him?"
"He was dropping me off at my uncle's home. It was about 2:30 in the morning on Sunday."
"And where had you come from?"
"A beach. He'd taken me out to one of the quiet beaches away from Honolulu where it was peaceful." Her face twisted in guilt. "I guess it was my fault. I didn't want to watch that silly old ball game. We were at Lucy's Shrimp Grill, but I didn't want to stay. Maybe we should have stayed."
"Chancy, what time did you leave the grill?"
"It was only around 10 o'clock. The game had only been on a few minutes."
He left the World Series with this girl missing the whole game? I thought this was Kono's girl. "And you went to a beach?"
She nodded. "I don't know which one -- it was dark, they all look the same." Her eyes brightened. "I know it was on the west side because we watched the moon set -- well sort of."
Moonset? That wasn't until well after midnight.
Without prompting she continued. "I'd fallen asleep and I woke up and he was like -- like something had him really upset. He was sweating and nervous. He asked if I'd heard the woman screaming. He was really shook up. But there wasn't any lady screaming. There was just the water and us. After a few minutes, he forgot about it."
I'll bet he did, Steve thought allowing his imagination to run. Danny, a pretty girl, a dark beach - Kono's girl.
She shrugged. "That's all there was. When he took me home, he said he'd see me Sunday afternoon. But he didn't come back."
Steve glanced at Chin, who gave no indication of his thoughts, nor did he say anything to assist in this twisted story. "Can you remember anything at all about the beach? Could you see Honolulu? Were there any aircraft noises? Ships? Anything?"
She sighed, glancing at the map of Oahu that hung on Steve's wall. "I think we were north of the city -- there were some lights to the left. But it was very quiet. No cars, no aircraft."
He glared at the map eliminating several possible coastal spots and everything south. "Chin, let's get some uniforms out searching the area around Pokia Bay."
"Chancy, we'll let you know when we find him. I'm certain there is going to be a simple answer to all this," Steve said with conviction he did not feel. He ushered her quickly to the door, wanting her to be gone so he could get Chin to tell him what he knew was hidden behind that stoic expression. As the door closed, he spun. "Chin?"
He gave a stiff nod. "Pokia Bay seems good, Boss. I'd send someone down around Wailupe as well. His aunt owns a cottage down there. You never know."
"Chin," Steve said, leaning back against his desk. "This just doesn't make any sense. Danno is levelheaded. He's professional. What in the name of heaven is he doing conjuring up visions and incantations."
Chin considered whether or not to give an answer. He chose the gentle path. "She didn't say they were playing with an ouiji board or palm-reading. She said she was using relaxation techniques."
"Relaxation. Can't he handle this?"
"Steve, his partner has been shot. He feels responsible that he either can't remember or never saw the shooter for whatever reason. He was as desperate to give you an answer as you were to find it."
"He could have just told me right off he didn't see the guy."
Chin did not reply.
Steve scowled. "He could have. He's a good cop; I want him to be a better one. Sometimes he bleeds too much."
Chin gripped the handle of his teacup more tightly.
"Say something, Chin."
"You sound like Marten Camp."
Steve stared at him like Chin had just struck him.
Chin continued. "Yes, I know about Camp. I wish I didn't. Danno worshiped that man and Camp took advantage of it. Put him in all kinds of tight spots. Danno keeps wanting to prove himself -- he wanted Camp's approval, now he wants yours. You keep pushin' him. And he keeps trying to get your approval."
"Danny doesn't need my approval," Steve replied flatly. McGarrett did not like this conversation. He did not like the feeling that he had somehow, unknowingly contributed to the situation and certainly did not want to think of Danny as anything less than a tough-and-ready urban soldier. That's what I hired him to be. Tough and exact. He wanted to change the subject to avoid thinking about it. "Okay, Chin. I'll consider that. You think he want off on his own looking for the shooter?"
Chin frowned. "I don't think he would have taken off without leaving us whatever he had learned or remembered. So maybe he went looking for a way to remember what he thought would be enough to tell us."
"Get that team out
on the beaches. And get everyone looking for his Mustang, but let's do it quietly.
I don't want pre-mature media attention. I'm going down to Wailupe."
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