Pele's Child
By Peg Keeley

Author's note: When I start a story, I rarely know how it will end. That may sound odd to some, but occasionally it does present an unusual problem. When this story concluded, I was not satisfied with the end -- but it was a very appropriate end. On the advice of my "in home" editor, I returned to the keyboard and a second ending came forth. So, if we give birth to stories, this one is fraternal twins!

Part 1

The sound of the siren filled the night. The car ahead of him applied the brake, then moved to the side. Steve McGarrett turned the wheel slightly into the clear path and rushed on. His mind should have been filled with nature of the call, but it wasn't. He'd been disappointed. Thursday nights were special. He looked forward to them and to the brief taste of a life he never chose that they offered. He needed to get to The Blue Wave. There had been a shooting.

"I'm sorry," Max's voice came over the phone, "I know it's Thursday but--you really need to be there."
Maximillian Conner. He was a good man. Young, but then everyone seemed young nowadays. And if Max called him, he knew it was urgent...

...Steve recalled painful day four years ago when he'd been forced to accept the loss of his two best officers on the same day. Duke Lukela had been shot in the back, confronted with an early retirement and nearly two years of painful struggle that had eventually resulted in his ability to walk to the mailbox and back unassisted. For any longer distances, he would always require a walker or wheelchair. It had been of small consolation that the shooter had died in the final assault on the bank. Nothing would ever give Duke back his freedom of mobility.

Duke's loss had been the first blow, followed an hour later by the resignation of Dan Williams. Steve had known the day would come when Danno would choose his son, Lonnie, over Five-0, but had hoped to prevent it. Danny had balanced the two for the better part of three years; frequently believing Lonnie came out on the short end. His brush with mortality by the same hands that crippled Duke had been the last straw. He'd left Five-0 to accept a teaching position at the university less than two days later. And upon the completion of his dissertation, he had become Dan Williams, Ph.D. If the loss of his associate in Five-0 had been painful, the gain of his best friend at a new level had been Steve's trade-off. Thursday evenings were normally spent at Danny's small beachfront cottage and the position of hero worship that Steve had earned in Lonnie's eyes was a worthy reward.

For a solid year after losing Duke and Danno, Steve had struggled to maintain and rebuild his department. Governor Moyer had complained loudly and even suggested he might replace Steve with a younger man, but never followed through with the threat. Steve had hoped for a reprieve when Masakasi became governor, but instead, the problem had intensified. With the solid support of Kono and Gary, he had recruited, dismissed, and recruited again from HPD. Five-0 had become known as the "revolving door department." The reasons were varied. Some could not meet Steve's tough criteria, some could not meet the demanding hours, and still others did not wish to serve with the Iron Cop. Then one day, Dan Williams had shown up in the office with Maximillian Conner in tow.

"Steve McGarrett, Max Conner," he'd introduced them.

The tall half Hawaiian-half black officer had extended a firm handshake and a genuine smile. "Sir, you are a legend."

"Legend, huh," Steve had replied. "You make me feel old."

Max had fit in the department as if he had been born to it. In the three years Max had been there, Steve had known much of the old security he used to feel when Danno had been in the office next door. He felt that he would have a someone to pass the "crown" to when he retired -- someday...

...Steve brought the Lincoln to a halt in front of the nightclub. It was a glittered, tourist affair. Right now there were women in gaudy dresses and men in tuxes milling around on the sidewalk expressing everything from anger to tears while uniformed police officers corralled them out of the street. There were four squad cars and an ambulance, all with lights flashing, adding to the mayhem. He stepped from his car and grabbed the first officer.

"Inside, Sir," came the instant response.

Steve passed through a leaded crystal door. The manager of the club stood to one side talking in hushed tones with Gary Newman. Compared with the mayhem on the street, it was quiet in here. There was a police photographer taking shots up by the dance floor in the center of the room.

Max approached him. "At about 6:30 a guy came in, held up the place, shot one man." He pointed back to the dance floor.

Steve started up that way. "That's an HPD case."

"Not exactly," Mac replied with some hesitation. "This is the third incident in a month."

"What?" He stopped to stare

"I guess the rationale was that nobody got hurt on the first two jobs."

Steve had reached the murder scene. The body lay in a crumpled heap in a pool of semi-gelatinous blood and brain tissue on the parquet floor. Everything above the lower jaw and in front of the ears was gone. In thirty years of police work, Steve had never gotten used to the waste of human life. He turned away and a police officer covered the body with a yellow drop cloth.

Max glanced at his notes. "The shooter is a white man, black close cut hair, brown eyes, six feet tall, weighing 170 or so. He got up and starting preaching something about the Pele Defense Fund. He pulled out a gun and told everyone to put the cash in the bag. No jewels, no cards, just cash. Picked a woman to past the bag, then made her husband stand up there with the gun in his mouth. He told the folks they had three minutes to get the bag around or he'd shoot him. They didn't make it."

"This is the third time this guy's done this?" Steve asked, spotting Kimo Mamuka, the assistant chief of police on the other side of the room.

Mamuka, hearing the remark, came over. "Steve, we had no way of knowing--"

"A gunman takes hostages at gunpoint in clubs three times before you tell us?" Steve cut him off.

"Look, before this he'd only hit small bars twice. We figured him for a drunk. He didn't hurt nobody. We had a description, and we were keeping an eye out for him."

Steve gestured to the dead man. "So you only involved Five-0 now because someone was killed? Or because it was a tourist?"

Mamuka blushed. "I'll get you copies of all the information on all three situations."

"You do that, Mamuka," he snarled. "And I want the names of every person at each location. You can give them to Max Conner--tonight."

The doorbell chimed melodically when Steve pressed the lighted button. The door opened. "Am I still wanted?" he asked with a tired smile.

Dan Williams gave a laugh. "Anytime, Steve." He stepped back to permit his ex-superior and best friend to enter.

"Hope Lonnie wasn't too disappointed," Steve said with a sigh.

He shrugged. "He understands." He walked to the refrigerator, took out a pitcher and poured two glasses of iced tea.

"What time is it anyway?"

"About ten thirty. Say, there was a time this would still have been early to you."

"Yeah, once upon a time." He accepted a glass of iced tea. "Tell, ya, Danno, nothing ever changes out there. We put away one and two new ones take his place."

Danny folded up a newspaper so they could sit down on the couch. "Tired enough to slow down?"

"Now you sound like Governor Masakasi. He'd love to have me turn Five-0 over to a younger man."

"Max is a good officer. He'd make a good leader."

"Is that an official recommendation as his professor?"

"Well," he laughed, "he did learn from the best. What held you up tonight?"

Steve waved a hand. "I thought we had an agreement not to discuss the office."

"When Lonnie's awake," Danny added.

McGarrett relaxed a bit. He retold the events in short form, with no details. "I get the feeling HPD is more concerned over the impact on tourists than anything else."

"The killer sounds like he should stick out. Did anything he say fit with what Pele Defense Fund is claiming about the thermal hydraulic plant?"

"Max and Gary are still piecing that together."

"What do you think?"

McGarrett gave an analytical gaze. "I'll bet it comes in all off base."

"Like he just read about it?" Danny asked. "You think if it wasn't Pele, it would be something else?"

McGarrett nodded slowly. "We're thinking alike, aren't we? This isn't a petty crook; we've got a real psycho on our hands."

Danny gave a patient smile. "It's not politically correct to refer to nutcases as psychos any more. We're supposed to use terms like mentally unstable."

McGarrett raised an eyebrow. "Well, Dr. Williams, I think I should be asking you the questions in this case."

"Any time, Steve. The door is always open. And I'll give you a cut rate."

Gary and Max stood in Steve's office bright and early, armed with facts and with the attitude of being eager for the hunt.

"First bar was a real dive," Gary started, gesturing to the spot on the Plexiglas map of Honolulu. "He maybe got a hundred bucks. Description fits with last night. Medium build, haole, dark hair, mustache."

"No mustache mentioned last night," Steve remarked.

"He said something there about Pele's anger, how they were choppin' up nature, passed the bag, gave 'em three minutes. Owner says there were only about six patrons there. He did the same things though -- you know -- the gun in the mouth bit. Didn't take anything from the till."

"The second job?" Steve asked.

"Bigger bar, but all the way around by Barbar's Point. A surfers' hangout. Looks were different. He had longer blonde hair, maybe a wig. Took all cash again. Same MO The owner claims he tried to offer him the register money to release the hostage, but the guy just threatened to shoot if he came close. Got maybe five, six hundred there."

"And the take last night?" Steve blew on his morning coffee.

Max spoke up. "Things were pretty confused. Probably a lot closer to three thousand. Some of those folks were totting a lot of cash. He really stepped up in his choice of spots."

McGarrett added the third dot to the map. "He must have gained a lot of courage from the first two jobs."

"I talked with Eugene West of the Pele Defense Fund," Max added. "He doesn't recognize the guy. What we've got of the guy's speech does fit with their platform to some extent. It's more like he read something in the paper though. West really emphasized that they advocate peaceful protests -- not terrorist attacks."

"I'll bet he did," Steve said. "This whole thermal energy plant thing has stirred up a great deal of feeling. At a time when there's been so much pressure to hang onto the Hawaiian culture and young people are being encouraged to learn more about ancient ways, the energy commission has stepped on a hornet's nest with wanting to harness the volcanic energy. To those who believe, Pele is a powerful goddess."

"The power of Pele would not need a haole stealing to be great," Gary commented. "I don't think our killer understands anything of Hawaiian religious culture."

Steve paused, recalling Danny's comment the night before. "If he's truly a psychopath, picking up on any cause that floats by, then he's going to be a lot more dangerous." He rose, glared at the map then at his team. "Max, check out the mental health clinics; see if anyone recognizes the drawing. Be discreet. Gary, find Kono and the two of you go back and start looking up and interviewing every witness at all three incidents."

"Every witness?" Gary said, recalling the long list from last night. It was going to be a long day.

At the knock of the door, Eugene West hastened to answer it. He was obviously relieved. "Mr. McGarrett, I'm so glad you came."

"You did the best thing at calling me right away," Steve assured him.

West opened a drawer of his desk and took out a stuffed white business envelope. "It was stuck under my windshield washer this morning."

Steve glanced inside, seeing what he expected. "Did you count the money?"

He shook his head quickly. "I didn't touch it."

"Good. Have you received any unusual phone calls? Did anyone call to make sure you'd received the donation?"

"No, but that killer must have known my car and where I live. How did he find that out?"

"Oh, it's not too hard," Steve replied. "I'll station a plain clothes officer at your office and your home, but I don't think you are at risk."

"McGarrett, we're all at risk."

The bills were all pinned in neat rows on boards in forensics. Each one had been examined, dusted, counted.

"Six thousand, four hundred, and ninety two dollars," Ling Fong informed him, her glasses framed face beaming. She had only recently been appointed to the position formerly occupied by her father, Che Fong, and took great pleasure any time Five-0 requested her services. "The bad news is he washed them."

"Washed them?" Steve repeated.

"Yes. Soap and water washed them," she stated.

Max grinned. "Speaking of laundering your money."

"I can't tell you the brand of detergent right away," she added, "but if it matters, I'll get on it."

"Let me get this right," Steve said, frowning. "A man holds up three bars, kills one man, and then puts all the money through the washing machine before drying it and giving it to a charity?"

Max flipped the pages on his notepad. "During his speeches he talked about contamination and having a pure sacrifice. Maybe this was some kind of a ceremonial cleansing or something."

The air was tangy with the scents of tomato sauce and spices. A jute box played a current hit in the corner. Several high school students milled near it, playing a video game. On the other side of the room, a couple sat waiting for their pizza. Two more students wandered in calling greetings to the pizza vendor.

"Hey, Randy!" the man called, "you're pizza's ready."

The student wandered over reaching into his jeans pocket for his wallet.

A young, fair-haired, bearded man entered the restaurant and the bell over the door jangled. He glanced around, then came to the counter and ordered a Coke. He sipped at it absently, as if waiting for something. A few girls came in, obviously friends of the high school boys. They chattered and giggled.

The bearded man turned from the counter, then said loudly: "Okay, everyone, listen up!"

It got quiet as the young people looked at him in surprise and curiosity.

"I am here to see that each of you pays your homage to Pele."

"Get real, man," one of the boys scoffed.

"They are seeking to destroy our heritage," the man insisted. "The fools will unleash the wrath of Pele if they continue to drill into the earth. The earth is sacred; it must be protected from them. You must all join with me to protect her."

"Hey, fella, I just came for pizza," the same boy called out.

The speaker approached him, a small cloth bag in hand. "You will take the collection."

"Fat chance. What're you smokin' anyway?" He turned his back on the bearded man.

The man pulled out a surprisingly large gun and jammed it into a young girl's mouth. She tried to scream. "Now," he said angrily, gun in one hand, the girl's hair twisted in the other. "Cash in the bag. You have three minutes or I'll kill her."

The girl issued a muddled cry of panic.

The boy dashed from person to person, terrified. "Hold on, man, I'm doin' it, all right?"

"Cash only!" the attacker yelled as one man started to drop in his wallet. "No taunted plastic!"

The trembling high schooler handed him the bag; he pushed the girl away, and was gone through the door.

Max jotted cryptic notes as the pizza owner retold the story. Uniformed officers were still taking statements from the other witnesses. "It was just so damned fast," the owner repeated. "He was in and out in less than five minutes. I was afraid he'd kill that girl." He hesitated. "Is he the same loony who held up the cocktail lounge last week and killed that guy?"

Max looked at him calmly. "I don't know. Can you recall anything else about him? An accent maybe, anything special about his clothing? Get a license number or see his car?"

He thought a moment. "No. It seemed like he just vanished."

It was frustrating that witnesses never seemed to see what was really important. Max turned as he spotted Steve's car arrive and walked over as McGarrett got out. "Same song, different verse."

"Yeah, I'll bet," McGarrett closed the door.

"This time the attacker was bearded. Height, build about the same. He is definitely using disguises."

"Piece all three sketches together in the computer, see what comes up the same. Let's get a look at what your Mac thinks our man looks like." Steve sighed. "And I think it's time we paid a visit to our local criminology Ph.D."

"There are currently over 500 serial killers loose in Canada and mainland United States." Dan Williams turned from writing a large 5-0-0 on the chalkboard and faced his class of first year abnormal psychology students. He let the fact sink in. "For every David Berkowitz or Ted Bundy that's apprehended, there are fifty more out there. Why? What has made our society one of such violence? Every case you investigate will be more than victims and villains. In order to find your suspect and in order to hold and convict him you will need more than just the obvious clues. You will need to get inside his mind -- find out why he does what he does, how he thinks -- and then by understanding why he behaves as he does you will catch him. To do that, you need to look at society today, what affects people and makes them into the callus, non-feeling individuals who could just --"he shrugged, "-- blow away a stranger at the bar."

The mention of the current crime spree sponsored a brief buzz of activity amongst the students.

Danny was pleased. They were thinking. He looked up through the lecture hall of over seventy faces and found the ones he wanted. He had noticed McGarrett and Conner enter earlier. "Okay," he called out, bringing the talk to an end. "Now that you're all awake, I want you go get out your copy of TV Guide and count the number of shows that have violence in their main plot this week. And don't forget the cable listings. When you are finished, check out the hottest movies in town and what the plots are. I want 500 words tomorrow on your impressions." He tossed the chalk to the board. "Dismissed."

As the students filed out, Steve and Max came forward. "A little unorthodox, don't you think?" Steve asked of Danny.

He smiled. "Sure hope so. How are you doing, Max?"

"Fine," he replied.

"What's up, Steve?" Danny asked, closing his brief case.

"Our Pele worshipper," McGarrett remarked.

Danny nodded. "He's hit four times now."

"And getting more frequent. He's using disguises. The locations don't seem to have any relation, nor do the times of day." Steve handed Danny a manila envelope. "This is a copy of everything we've got. Just look through it and give me your impression."

Danny hesitated as he accepted the file. "In four years you've never asked me to become involved in a case." There is a part of me that wishes so much to go back to the hunt, the chase, the mystery that was part of Five-0. There are days I miss it so much it hurts. But there is a part that knows I cannot.

"I am not asking you to get involved," Steve said firmly. "I want your professional input, your advice." He could see there was disappointment in Williams' look and felt uncertain about how to handle the moment. He made this choice, not me. It was the right choice. I supported it. He doesn't seem to ever have regretted it -- until now.

"Sure, Steve." Danny dropped the file into his brief case. "I'll give you my best."

Clint Myer collapsed onto the old mattress on the floor of the small second story studio apartment. The walls of his single room were plastered with slogans and pamphlets of everything from saving the whales to Jacques Cousteau. On the wall was tacked a map of Hawaii, courtesy of Exxon Oil. Sketched over the face of it in pencil was a drawing of a volcano. He shoved his textbooks to the side. One slid off the bed and landed on the floor. It was his Abnormal Psych I text. He popped the flip-top on the beer can and drank heavily of its contents. Some escaped the sides of his mouth and drizzled down his chin. With an "ah" of satisfaction, he wiped his face with the back of his hand.

He finished the beer and gave a loud belch. A fly buzzing around his ears bothered him and he took a half-hearted swat at it, missing. At last, he got up from the mattress and went to study the map. From there, he went to the sink and after running a hand through his sandy blonde hair, picked up the bottle of temporary hair color.

There were all the usual sounds. A woman cried softly, clinging to her escort. Others stood around talking with officers and each other in hushed tones. Outside, the news people clamored for their story.

Max looked quickly away from the faceless body of a man lying sprawled on the floor of the club. He exchanged looks with Gary. "It's been only two days since the pizza shop."

Gary nodded. "He lost his nerve. Two of the witnesses said it hadn't been three minutes. He just panicked and fired. Left the money behind this time. And he got a new face. Sunglasses and red hair. No beard, no mustache."

He may but a loony, but he's a smart loony," Max added with a sigh.

McGarrett flexed his jaw muscles in fury and frustrations. I have got to stop this maniac, but how? There is no reason, no pattern. How can we make him come to us? What does he want? Even his locations vary from pizza shops and bars to fancy clubs and hot spots. Where is the one thing it all has in common? Hopefully Danno will have an idea and soon.

"Mr. McGarrett!" called an officer, "call for you."

He walked to the phone on the counter of the bar of the club. "McGarrett."

Max scooped up the evening paper that lay crumpled in the corner. "Did you see this?" he asked of Gary. The headline read: "Will Pele's Child Strike Again?"

"Pele's Child?" Gary commented. "You mean this guy has a name for himself like some super hero?"

"More like a serial killer," Max corrected.

Steve returned, his stride betraying he was in a hurry. "Gentlemen, our killer has just killed another person in Wakiki."

"What!" Max gasped.

"He must have left here and gone straight there!" Gary observed.

"Yeah, so much for losing his nerve," Steve remarked hotly. "It was a restaurant, with about fifty patrons and staff present. "We have to stop this man and now. I don't care how much manpower it takes or if we have to stake a man in every bar and restaurant on the Island, but we're going to get him. Compare the newest descriptions with the computer description. See how close it is and update it. Get it out on the airwaves. Somebody's got to know him or have seen him."

End Part 1

Part 2
return to list
Contact author