Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song
by Peg Keeley
Part 8 PG
McGarrett had just left the Palace when he got the call from Duke and Lew. "Found the Mustang. Off Manoa Road heading eastward there's a dirt road that turns east by northeast. Car is at the end of it."
"On my way." Steve pushed as much speed of the car as he dared and arrived at the turnoff from Manoa Road within minutes. The chopper was still hovering over the car, the spotlight brilliant against the white finish of the Mustang. Immediately Steve noticed that the roof was down, the interior soaked from rain.
Danny loves this car. He's been gone from it for a while. Steve noticed the headlights had been left on, running the battery down. The photo and tattoo sketch were on the seat. Three undrunk beers and a bag of soggy pretzels lay on the floor. There were three empty beer cans and a cluster of smoked cigarette butts on the ground. He was here for a while. The afternoon shower had erased clues of a trail.
Steve opened the glove box noting that the flashlight and Danny's gun were both gone. "Okay, Duke," he called up to the chopper through the radio. "He's not here now. Chin is organizing searches to the eastern side. Get with him and tell him to move them more this direction. Morgan, you recognize anything from up there?"
"Not really. We'll begin a search pattern," Lew replied.
Danny huddled on the ground near the small grove of trees lost in his mind's journey. Pieces were starting to come, new images that were distorted, frightening.
"Run! We run!" the girl had implored, pulling him a long with her.
He was frightened by her words, by the intense grip on his hand, trying to run and keep up with her but not understanding what was happening.
She suddenly stumbled and fell, screaming and kicking.
He looked up and as he did, was grabbed off the ground into a choking vise-like grip by someone he could not see. He screamed.
The man restraining him shook him so hard he thought his neck would break.
Someone else was there, dragging the screaming girl by her hair through the brush, yelling, hitting her, but she kept on screaming.
He tried to keep screaming for help, but he was thrown to the ground with such force it knocked the breath out of him.
The other man was hitting the girl over and over. Her screams were less strong. He was on top of her, hurting her and she tried to kick and scream against the attacker. She was not strong enough.
The man atop of her kept calling her terrible things like bitch and whore. Danny wanted to cry, wanted to run, wanted to save her, but he could not. He was pressed against the ground, almost unable to breathe, unable to look away.
The girl's cries stopped suddenly and she no longer moved.
Dexton rose and turned towards Danny and the child could see his face. The dark hair was matted against the man's head, a small mustache curled with the upper lip twisted in distain and anger. "You like that girl, boy? You like what you see, boy?"
He could not speak, he could not move, paralyzed by shock and fear.
Dexton grabbed the child by his shirt and pulled him up off the ground to the man's eye level. "What are we gonna do with you?"
"Hey, don't kill the kid, man," the other man offered.
Danny tried to turn his head to see the man but was unable to.
"Hey, them japs don't matter but you kill a kid and someone will come looking for us."
The attacker glared at the child again. "You gonna talk?"
"He won't talk," his partner promised.
The attacker snickered. "You gonna talk, boy?"
He barely uttered a little moan.
Dexton slammed the child roughly against the rock, shards biting through his shirt and digging into his chest. He wanted to struggle, to get free, but was pressed so tightly between the hideous rock and this evil man that he thought he might be crushed.
Grownup aren't supposed to hurt kids!
Dexton hissed. "This is your fault. You made it happen. You did this."
No! My fault? My fault?
The other man was protesting, but did nothing to stop what was happening. At last the attacker, his torment complete, literally threw the boy across the ground to land on top of the motionless girl.
Danny lifted his head and was staring into her open, dead eyes. His hands were entangled in her dirt covered dark hair. There was a small pink ribbon tied over her left ear. Is this my fault? Did I make her die? I have done a bad thing - a dirty thing. People will think I am bad. I am bad.
Dexton reached down and pulling the traumatized child onto his feet snarled coldly, "Get that shovel over there, dig a hole and bury that mess." He motioned towards the body. Danny's eyes were fixed on the tattoo on the man's wrist. The man grinned. "You see those eyes -- eyes of blood -- eyes of death. You ever ever say one word and the eyes will find you. They will be watching you always. You will never be free. I will be watching you. Watching you. Watching your family. This will be you." He dabbed some of the dead girl's blood onto the tattoo. "I will come for you. If you try anything. You understand me?"
He collapsed in shock and vomited
Danny awoke, his stomach aflame with hunger and twisted in fear. Dawn was just across the ridge. He looked around his surroundings and was surprised to see the wretched black rock only about twenty yards away. I walked in a complete circle. In the distance, he heard a helicopter that gradually faded away. He looked down at the earth beneath his hands, rolled his fingers over the fine black earth a few times. The years had compacted the soil, but he knew this was the spot. Unthinking, he began to dig at the earth with only his bare hands. His nails split and bled, but he kept pulling away at the handfuls of dry black dust. Slowly a small crater began to form. I have to know. I have to answer this. Mechanically he dug, mentally numb. Six inches, twelve inches, fifteen inches.
His fingers encountered a bump that did not give.
He dug faster. Dirt came
away from the object. It was small and cylindrical. The deeper dirt was moister
and now came away more quickly. He could identify the bones of fingers
McGarrett had worked methodically in widening circles away from the path, looking for clues regarding Danny's disappearance. In two days he could have walked all the way to the North Shore, but Steve knew that was unlikely. He had come here for a reason. He could hear the choppers criss-crossing the Puu Konahuanui area as they inspected sectors. Does Danny want to be found? Is he able to be found?
He found the flashlight
just as daylight was dawning and was encouraged that he was on the right trail.
Just minutes later, he found a footprint in the stream bank. He wanted to call
out, but stopped himself. For the first time he began to seriously question
if there was a deeper connection between Danny's peculiar actions and Thronton.
Thornton said the Dexton buried the women out in the wilderness. This is for
certain a wilderness. What if a small boy at play had come across something
better unseen? Danny had encountered the tattoo before. What else would explain
Danny had finally come to the end of his emotions and the end of his quest. The partially unearthed remains looked hardly human any longer, but the pink ribbon, tattered and aged, was still tied to the remnants of hair that clung to the decomposed face and skull. Burying his face in his hands, he wept beyond control and time with no thought beyond the pain of the past. I have been dead in this field for 18 years, unable to feel or live. I have been here all the time. Every bit of the nightmare is true. She really died. Images and feeling cascaded over him. He saw the dark eyes, wide with fright and not the empty orbits of the blackened skull and its papery tatters of dried skin and matted, muddy hair. He gently fingered the faded pink ribbon as salty tears dripped onto the bone that was exposed to light for the first time in eighteen years. The fear, the pain, the black guilt of shame and betrayal.
There was sudden movement to his right and he looked up, just in time to catch a booted kick in the jaw that knocked him backwards flat on his back.
"I should have killed you eighteen years ago."
Danny stared up at Dexton, blinking and trying to clear his head, but having already identified the man from his childhood nightmare. White-hot rage exploded within him. He lay motionless.
Dexton stepped over him. "I should have killed you," he repeated. "Now we've got this damned island crawling with cops lookin' for you. But I knew right where to look. I always knew you'd come back someday. Guess I can let them find you and her together. Maybe Thornton can take the blame."
Danny said nothing, his earlier agony transformed into blind vengeance.
Dexton swung his leg forward to kick Danny again, but Danny grabbed hold of the Dexton's leg and twisted it viciously to the side with a snap, dislocating the hip and breaking the tibia in two places. Dexton staggered backward with a cry as his would-be victim leapt up and forward pummeling his face with several accurate jabs to the head. Dexton tried to get his footing, but stumbled backward on his injured leg, falling against the large black rock.
Danny was on him, slamming him against the lava boulder over and over, shouting in rage as Dexton yelled back pleading in pain.
McGarrett had not been far away. The sudden commotion of yelling brought him at a run zeroing in on the source, gun already in hand. He burst onto the scene as Danny continued to repeatedly slam and now unconscious Dexton against the rock. "Danno!" Dexton slid limply down the rock into a heap on the ground. "Danno!"
Danny delivered one more enraged tightly fisted punch square into the surface of the black rock, crying out as bones in his hand broke under the force. Grabbing his right hand in pain, he slid down the opposite side of the boulder from Dexton.
Steve hurried to him. "Danno, it's over." He crouched next to his junior officer, taking just a moment to lock in all the gruesome evidence before him.
Danny looked at him, not seeing him. "He killed her," he uttered, gripping his bleeding knuckles.
Steve nodded and said quietly, "I know, Danny." He rose and pulled the flare from his pocket and fired it skyward. "It's all right now."
Danny turned his face away,
against the surface of the rock, finding comfort from the cold hard surface
that had hidden his darkest moment for most of his life. He wept.
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