Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song
by Peg Keeley
Steve gave a passing nod at the uniformed officers that flanked the hospital room door. He stepped inside. Alan Dexton lay on the bed, the public defender at his side.
The PD gave Steve a nod. "My client insists he has a statement to make."
Steve stiffly pulled out a recorder and laid it on the table. "Make it."
Dexton glanced at his lawyer. "I want some kind of concession."
"Concession? For what?" Steve asked.
"Where they are buried. I can tell you where they are. And I can tell you who killed Beebee."
"Someone other than you I assume," Steve said dryly.
"But I want a limited sentence in exchange."
Steve frowned. "I don't make the deals, Dexton. You need to take that up with the DA. But I'll put in a word if it is worth it."
"I didn't kill Beebee, but I know who did."
Steve put a foot up on the bed. "Talk."
Dexton glanced at his lawyer who gave a quick approving nod. "Beebee and me, we helped Thornton get those girls here. But they weren't sweet like schoolgirls. They were prostitutes. He brought 'em here and sold 'em to whore houses. Made good money. Damn, he's got that book making him out like a saint. What did it matter than we decided to sample the goods a little? There were so many of them. It was just a couple," Dexton shrugged.
"Six. Beebee and me, we didn't think much of it. They were just whores. Nobody missed 'em. First girl just up and died. Don't know why. So, we put her out in the field. Didn't know how to explain it. After that, they just got to be troublesome."
"So you killed them?"
He shrugged. "They weren't much. Beebee, he was getting nervous. That last girl, she was different. Turned out she was some friend to Everett's woman. Like, what were we do to? Take her back. We agreed she was the last."
"What is your connection with Dan Williams?"
Dexton gave a quiet smile. "Dan Williams?"
"You found him at the burial site this morning. You must have known he was coming there."
"Oh, Williams," Dexton grinned again, in psuedo-innocence. "He must have been the kid who was up there the day she died. He kind of stumbled into it." Dexton stopped for a moment. "He went running off scared home to his mama. Beebee got really upset, thought he might snitch on us, but I was pretty sure he was good. Kids get scared easy."
"What did you do to scare him?" Steve said hotly.
Sexton chuckled. "You're mixing my words around. He ran home, I told you that. Anyway, after that girl, Beebee and I separated. I left the islands for a while. Came back later and did some stuff."
"What kind of stuff?"
He smiled again. "Nothing illegal. I was working in Hilo for a plantation -- teaching little kids science in the school."
"There isn't any record."
He gave a shrug and a smile. "I guess the records must not be very current. That's not my fault. Call Hilo."
"I promise you -- I will."
Last year Beebee comes to me all nervous like -- seems he'd seen a news story. That kid grew up and was a cop now."
"Yeah. Beebee really freaked. He was gonna go to Thornton. A guy I knew did Beebee. I didn't ask him to. He thought it would help me. I was just gonna get Beebee to see reason. I didn't know he was gonna get killed."
"Who killed Fellows?"
"He works for Kumu."
Dexton nodded. "I knew a few people here for -- a while."
Steve glared at Dexton. A small time hustler. Probably ran the drug market for the Kumu in Hilo on the side. Yet he had Thorton believing he was untouchable and had connections. The license tag? Sure Kumu could arrange a fake plate. No deep connections at all.
"That's good for something, right?" Dexton demanded.
"Where were you last Thursday around 9:30AM?"
"I was asleep. Home alone."
"You own a white corvette?"
"Where you on Kapiolani Boulevard around 9:40AM that day?"
He smiled. "No."
"Did you attempt to leave the scene of a possible hit and run?"
The lawyer cleared his throat. "I don't believe we have any connections to-"
"Did you shoot Officer Kalakua in a traffic stop?" Steve raised his voice.
"I don't even know the man. I don't own a car and I don't own a gun," Dexton said quietly, clearly and with a smile on his face.
Steve had known everything surrounding the shooting of Kono was circumstantial. Without an eyewitness or the gun, there would be no charges.
McGarrett turned off the recorder and waited for a response from Danny who sat in on the corner couch in Steve's office, his right hand elevated, encased in cotton and gauze and secured by an ace bandage so that just the tips of his fingers were visible. It had been two days most of which Williams had slept away interrupted only long enough to take more pain pills. Steve knew that the infamous Chancy had been by his side most of the time. Kono is to be released tomorrow, what then?
Danny finally spoke. "He took you to the bodies?"
Steve nodded, vividly recalling the grizzly memories of each decomposed body unearthed. "He's been charged with six counts of murder. I'd like to charge him with more."
Danny gave a nod. "Statute of limitations ran out on things like illegal burial."
Steve sat down on the white chair opposite Danny. "There is no statute of limitation on maltreatment of children from acts of physical or emotional abuse. But only you can make that statement."
What do I say? Do I tell the whole ugly truth? Do I want it in three inch headlines that I was sodomized by this scum when I was a child? I couldn't hold my head up; I'd be a laughing stock. No way. I just want to put this behind me. "What time does John think he'll do right now?"
"Does that matter?" Steve replied, a little irritation in his voice. "Manicote wants him to get life, but he won't push for it. Because no one can ID him at Kono's shooting or even at Thornton's hit and run. There is nothing but speculation to tie him to Mamiko's death either. There can be no charges unless we someday turn up a gun and put it in his hand. Dexton may get twenty-five years. He convinces some parole board he's a new guy -- and that he has been pretty clean for eighteen years, he could be back on the street in three years. You want him walking up to you in the frozen section of the market in three years?"
Danny glared at McGarrett. This is Steve's usual approach when trying to get a victim to press charges. But do I really want to see Dexton in three years? Three years?
"Doesn't seem like he's paying his debt to society, does it," Steve remarked, reading Danny's thoughts. "But unless society knows how it has been wronged, the debt cannot be paid."
Color rose in Williams' face. "You don't know what you are asking of me!" he exploded.
McGarrett did not answer right away, but allowed silence to give them both space for a moment. "How about off the record, Danno. What am I asking of you?"
Danny studied McGarrett for a moment. Is it really safe here? Can I trust him with what I could not even tell myself? "I was nine, playing up in the hills. She came running out of the trees. She was afraid, told me to run." He stopped for a moment to convince himself that Steve's recorder really was not on. "They caught up with us."
"Dexton and Fellows." He took another breath, feeling his heart rate increasing, his left palm sweating. "Fellows grabbed me, Dexton her." I need a cigarette. "Dexton raped her -- killed her, although I don't think I understood exactly what was happening to her. I just knew it was something bad." He stopped again. His heart was now thundering in his chest.
Steve could see Danny's pulse beating in his neck. He looks cool as ice, but he is seething inside. Come on, Danno, just say it. When Danny did not speak for several minutes, Steve encouraged him. "Talking will help."
Danny blinked and looked back at McGarrett. For the first time, he could see his superior as genuinely caring not just about justice or the law, but him. It's like he cares. I haven't seen that before. But does he? "Um," he started, then stopped. "Dexton made me bury her. They both told me that if I told anyone, they'd kill me, kill my family. I was little, I believed them." Fear was subsiding now. I got around it. "I was so scared I soiled myself," He cracked an embarrassed smile. "Kids, you know. Aunt Clara was popping mad at me about it."
Steve managed a nod. "Did you ever tell Aunt Clara?"
"I tried to." He stopped. The emotion of his judgment before her suddenly washed over him unexpectedly. "I tried to," he repeated. "She, um, she didn't understand," he finished more quietly and tried to give a shrug. "Pretty common thing."
Wondering if this was the whole story, and doubting it was, Steve sighed. "I don't think someone like Dexton committed acts for murder we know of, and carried out the things we know he did this week, but was a model citizen in between. I know there have been other victims of this man's cruelty. He was around school children for the last eighteen years. Maybe some of them need in the inspiration to step forward. He carefully asked. "Can we update the charges?"
What if Dexton turns around and tell the whole thing just to get me?
Steve read the uncertainty in Williams face. "You are an officer of the law, Danno," he remarked with a bit more hardness. "You have a responsibility to the people we protect. If you can keep this guy off the street you need to do it."
What about Aunt Clara? She would feel awful. What about the people I know. What will they think? They will talk about me. I can never face them again. McGarrett doesn't understand that. "No."
Danny had thought McGarrett might get angry, but he just gave a nod. "It is your decision, Dan. I cannot make you do this. But I think you are wrong."
You have no idea how
wrong. "Sorry, Steve. I just can't." He rose. "I have work
to catch up on."
Friday night was a time to celebrate. The World Series had been complete on Thursday, but Chin Ho had enforced a total blackout so that none of the partygoers knew the outcome until they watched the replay at the party he and his wife were throwing. Kono arrived, having been released from the hospital that morning and was made comfortable in the place of honor closest to the television, surrounded by Coke and hotdogs.
"Hey, Danno, no beer tonight," Kono remarked to him. "Ain't baseball without beer."
"Narcotics, Bro," Danny replied. "Just be glad you've got that pain med working." He had tried to ignore that Chancy had brought Kono. I hope Kono never has to know about Chancy and me. He would never forgive me. Just let it be this way.
Steve arrived a little late, but still before the first pitch. Chin greeted him warmly as he scooped up Chin's youngest daughter and tossed her playfully. She squealed and hugged her Uncle Steve.
"Gonna be a great game!" Lew commented from where he stood, his arms wrapped around Marj's waist. "I can't believe you've missed every game, Danny. Three and three, this game decides it. Your man Koufax is pitching. It's gonna be a beauty!"
Danny grinned. "I'll bet you already know the results, Lew. Anybody seen how Lew bet in the pool?" he asked loudly.
Lew raised a hand. "Promise, I do not have the result. Cross my heart."
The announcers were still giving their opinions and discussing the first six games. Danny made his way to the heaping vegetable and fruit tray in the kitchen and selected a large slice of pineapple and some mango. He looked up as Chancy approached him.
She gave a small smile. "Can we talk?"
He glanced towards Kono in the other room who was occupied in a discussion with May's son. "Okay."
They moved to the patio outside. She slowly pulled some scrap paper from her pocket and held it out. He recognized the draft copy of his poem that had been with the fruit. "Where'd you get that?" he asked uselessly.
"Does it matter?" she asked. "Kono doesn't have any idea what he supposedly wrote in the poem, Danny. I found these in your apartment. I don't understand." Her look was one of pain.
He felt a loss of words. "Don't understand what?"
"I thought you loved me. I thought -- you said Kono -- has this just been some awful game for you two?"
He was aghast. "Chancy, no! I, Kono wanted to do something nice for you. He didn't know how to express himself. He wanted me to help -- I didn't plan on falling in love with you myself."
She sighed, a crossed her arms. "I have spent the last week totally beside myself because Kono expressed such depth, but I loved you. Now -- it was really you all the time!"
"Chancy, please. I did not mean -- Kono "
"Was that night on the beach for Kono, too?" she asked in frustration.
"No," he whispered. "But you are Kono's girl."
"I'm not anybody's girl! I am me, myself. I decide. I am not the property of you or Kono that you can play tug-o-war over me for possession."
"That's not the way it was."
She shook her head. "You weren't honest with me or yourself. Maybe you need to read a little more Shakespeare. 'This above all: to thine own self be true.'"
He looked down. "I'm sorry, Chancy. I just wanted to do what was right."
"No, Danny, you did what was easy," she replied. "Sometimes the truth isn't easy. Sometimes it means trusting someone. You didn't trust me. You didn't trust Kono to handle the truth. I'm not sure you really trust anyone. That's a pretty lonely way to live."
He felt as though she had just ripped him open and left him bleeding on the patio stones. "Chancy, what can I do?"
She sighed. "I think I should leave. I due to fly back to Vegas in another week anyway. Maybe this is one to chalk up to experience."
"But will you tell Kono?"
She slipped her purse over her shoulder. "You're the one who's been so good with the words. I'll let you do that." She walked away into the night.
A voice called from inside. "Hey, Danny," Lew stuck his head out of the patio door. "Game's about to start."
He gave a nod and masked
his emotion. "Coming."
It was about half way through the game when Kono decided to get up and move around. "My back is killin' me." He took advantage of the commercial interlude to make his way slowly out to the kitchen.
Danny followed knowing he needed to admit to his friend what had happened.
Kono opened the fridge. "Aha! Here's the beer."
"Kono, you can't," Danny reminded him.
He glanced at him. "Sometimes you a real prude." He pulled out a Coke and piled some chips and dip onto a paper plate. "So, you said you'd tell me why Chancy left. So tell me."
He hesitated. How can I hurt him like this? What an awful friend I have been. "She's going back to Vegas."
He looked puzzled. "Tonight? Why didn't she say good-bye?"
Danny felt his color rising. Don't lie to him again. "Well, she's leaving next week."
Kono frowned and said. "You hidin' something, Bruddah. 'Oia'i'o, Danno."
"'Oia'i'o," he whispered. "Truth, huh? Chancy found out that I wrote the poems for you. She decided I wasn't honest."
Kono's look was deepening. "I don't understand."
I'm not sure I do. "I said she was your girl and she got mad, said she wasn't anybody's girl."
Kono's wounded look continued to darken. "You messed with her, didn't you? You made her love you and not me."
"It wasn't like that," he protested. Was it?
"I know you, Danny. You were makin' time with her on that beach. Don't tell me no."
He looked at the floor. "It wasn't supposed to be that way," he murmured. "It just happened."
"Damn you, Danno. Ain't nothin' just happens with you and women. I'm on my back in the hospital and you stole my girl," Kono's anger was rising.
Danny felt a loss for words. He opened his mouth to speak, not sure what would come out.
"Don' talk to me right now," Kono growled. "You just stay clear for a while, you hear."
Kono swung and punched Danny in the face with a lot less power than he could have a full health.
Danny stumbled backward against the wall oven. The pain of the blow no where as significant as the pain from the look of betrayal on the face of Kono. "I'm sorry." He uttered.
Kono was already beginning to make his slow trek back to the television. "You my bro, Danno, but I think you should just stay away for a while. Give me some space."
Danny sighed fingering his tender nose as Kono left, then caught a glimpse of himself reflected in the glass of the oven door window. He looked away, ashamed of his own reflection.
Danny arrived at the office nearly on time the next day.
Chin came to his cubicle almost immediately. "You okay?"
"Of course." He sat down in his desk chair.
"For a guy whose hero pitched a three hit shutout in the seventh game of the World Series, you pretty quiet."
Danny sighed. "Been a big week."
Chin nodded. Never one to pry, he hesitated before speaking. "You and that girl -- what happened?"
He gave a small laugh. "Kono and I both lose. She thought I wasn't truthful with her."
Chin lit up his pipe. "What do you think?"
He shook his head. "I don't know."
The aromatic smoke encircled them for a moment. "Sometimes people are more than we give them credit for. You need to learn to trust people, Bruddah."
He gave another sad smile. "That's what Chancy said."
Chin gave a nod of an acknowledgement. "Smart girl." He leaned on the door jam. "Everybody gotta trust someone, Danno."
"I trust people," he said a bit lamely.
"Who do you trust?"
"I trust you."
He felt suddenly uncomfortable. "Well, yeah. We've known each other forever."
"I known you longer than you remember me," Chin corrected. "But that doesn't mean you trust me. It just means you know me."
"I trust you, Chin," he said sincerely, even more uncomfortable.
"You trust me? Then what if I tell you I trust Steve McGarrett."
He turned away with a gesture of disgust. "Did he put you up to this?"
"So you don't trust me," Chin replied.
"You are splitting my words," he complained.
"Danny," Chin said with deep intensity, coming close to him and getting eye to eye, "you have always been like my own son to me. I see you having a good time, I see you get into all kinds of bad scrapes -- and get back out. But I never see you trust anyone. You can't live like that forever."
He slowly exhaled. "I do fine like this."
"Do you? Look at Chancy. You didn't trust her, you didn't trust Kono -- and all three of you got hurt. Nobody's happy. Nobody wins. And you have something that wants to be told so bad that it's eating you up inside. I can see that, too. Soon it will eat all of you and you will be all gone, just a shell of what used to be a man living out nothing. You want that?"
"Chin." He shook his head. "I can't."
"You can't what? Trust me? Trust Steve?" The pipe had gone out and Chin tapped the ash out into the trashcan. "If they let Dexton go in a few years and he goes out and hurts somebody how are you gonna feel then?"
Danny gazed towards the window. "Maybe they can keep him in."
"Maybe!" Chin sounded unusually frustrated. "No maybe, Danny. You can keep him in. I know you can keep him in. There isn't anything you can tell me that will shock me or that I haven't already thought of. And you can bet that McGarrett is more imaginative than I am."
Steve's door opened and he stepped out, saw them and brought over a paper. "Charges on Dexton and expected sentence. He pled guilty, says he has a reformed citizen just wanting to serve his time -- grand jury just loved him. Ten years, probation in just under two."
Danny's jaw dropped. "Ten years for killing six women?"
Steve shrugged, trying to look unconcerned. "It was long ago. We can't prove he's ever hurt anyone else."
Danny looked down at the floor with a frown. "Too bad."
Steve cast a glance towards him. "How about coming in here." He motioned Danny into his office and shut the door. Instead of directing Danny towards a seat, he walked out onto the lanai. Danny followed with mild hesitation. "Danno, a number of years ago I knew a spunky kid. He was a pretty athletic thirteen year old, had a girl friend or two. Very religious. He wanted to be a priest."
Danny just listened.
Steve paused, dwelling on the story. "Boy's dad died, and he needed a male role model -- or so the parish priest told his mother. The priest was an older guy, a good father type guy, and the boy spent a lot of time with the man. The boy never said a thing, but about ten years later someone else did. Another courageous teen stepped up and told his family and the authorities that the priest was abusing him. By that time, the priest had molested no less than eight other boys. Eight lives tragically damaged that would have been spared had the first boy had the courage to take the right step. That boy, now an adult, has to live with that." There was silence for a moment. "Danno, you don't know that Dexton has been clean for eighteen years. He worked with second and third graders in Hilo for twelve years. What do you think happened there in all that time? You have the chance to totally change the outcome of this. Don't make the same mistake I did."
Danny stared at him. Is it possible? What is he saying? McGarrett? That is unbelievable.
McGarrett turned away from him and walked back into the office.
Danny stared out through the foliage across the lawn of the Palace. Are there others Dexton has abused? Could there be more? What if there are not? I would be the laughing stock of the town. And I would be letting Dexton get away with this. He will haunt me the rest of my life. Chin said it was eating me up. Until a few days ago, I did not even recall it. But I do recall it now. Dexton destroyed my innocence, my faith in others - will I let him continue to destroy my ability to trust? He glanced at Steve's back. The chief was standing at his desk, facing away, sipping on coffee.
Danny slowly left the lanai.
Trusting begins right here, right now. With the decision made he felt suddenly
awash with a sense of overwhelming relief and knew this was the right action
to take. "Steve, I have a statement to make."
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