Pretense of Justice
Che Fong looked up from his work and Steve entered the lab. "Steve, I was just about to call you. I can tell you without question that the potassium chloride was injected into the orange." He held up the small plastic bag of orange rind. "The orange was a naval orange, produced by Sunkist in California. It arrived in a shipment to the hotel the same morning Wiseman died. It had to have been treated in the hotel complex."
"Good work, Che." Steve glared at the orange skin as though it might reveal something more.
"Impossible to get prints off it," Che added. "But, I did get some more about the potassium chloride. It was of the type that is usually taken in capsule form to treat hypokalaemia. Since potassium is absorbed a bit slowly through the GI tract, he would have to have been given a rather large amount. The best I can estimate is that the equivalent of 15 capsules were mixed into a small amount of water and injected into the orange. When Wiseman ate the orange, he ingested the poison. He died about an hour later and an apparent heart attack. His blood level was nearly 10mmol/l, well past the toxic level."
"How does one
obtain potassium chloride?" Steve asked.
"Prescription," Che answered, sticking his hands into his pockets. "Of course, like most other drugs -- where there's money there's a way."
"But in this case the killer had to have some kind of a knowledge about pharmacology," Steve remarked. And who has that kind of knowledge amongst our suspects. Certainly not Rickie. "Thanks, Che. If anything else turns up, I'll be with Danno."
"Oh, Steve," Che called him back. "Do you know anything about this? The office secretary took the message about half an hour ago."
Steve read the note. "Clara Williams is having a football party at St. Francis tomorrow?"
Che gave a semi-smile. "Seems a little spontaneous."
Steve lifted an eyebrow. "That's what describes her the best, Che." I wonder what Danny thinks about this.
Steve felt the weight of the day hanging from his shoulders as he parked the car in the hospital lot. The sun had set hours before, the night life of Honolulu had kicked up. Strange, tropical paradise on Thanksgiving over the river and through the wood not much here in common with the original concept of the holiday. He sighed as he entered the elevator. This has not been a year to be thankful for -- unless I consider how much worse it could have been. He watched the numbers blink and the car opened onto the third floor. The lights had been toned down in the corridors, encouraging sleep for the patients. At the nurses' station, a fluorescent tube under the counter illumined the counter top and the charts spread across it.
The nurse writing glanced up. "Good evening, Mr. McGarrett."
"How is it?" he asked gently.
"His aunt is -- interesting," she replied.
He hid a small smile. "Well, if anyone can motivate him, she can."
"She reserved the solarium for a Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow."
"I heard. Is Danny awake?"
"He told me he was hoping you'd come by, so wake him if you have to."
He nodded and walked down the short hallway to the glass walled cubicle. One light was on, shining on a far wall providing a soft, peaceful sense to the room.
Danny appeared to be asleep. The only sound was that of the oxygen bubbling through the water on its way down the nasal cannula. Steve just stood for a moment watching. How do I process this? How do I help him process this? There has to be something more I can do. I can't just let this happen. Bringing Mariotti to justice is a good place to start.
Danny opened his eyes. "Steve?"
"Yes, it's me," he replied quietly.
"Thought so. Everything okay?"
Everything is awful, but I don't have to tell you that. "Coming along."
"Chin came by. I don't really think Camp will bite -- you really did a number on him you know."
"Yeah, I know," he said quietly.
"Steve, poke my leg, okay?"
He sighed. "Sure." He walked to the end of the bed and gently ran the back end of his pen over the top of Danny's foot. It was unbearable waiting for a response that Steve could only pray would come.
"Steve," Danny murmured, "what if this doesn't change?"
"It's too early to know, Danno. Of course it will change. Keep the faith."
That's an odd
thing for him to say. Faith in what? "There isn't anything for
me to do but lay here wishing - hoping - praying that somehow -"
he cleared his throat. "Steve, I am afraid."
"Me, too, Danno," Steve admitted. "But I can tell you we're getting closer to the person who did this."
"Hum," he mumbled. Is that supposed to make a difference? What difference can it possibly make? It isn't like arresting the guy will make anything change. I guess it will change for Steve -- he will feel like he did something about all this. "At least you'll get some kind of -- vindication."
Steve blinked. Is that all he thinks this is? Something to make my guilt go away. Maybe it is. "After the holiday I am going to find the leading neurosurgeon in the world, Danno. I don't care where we have to go. There has to be some kind of answer."
Danny gave a slight smile. "Yeah, that's what I keep telling myself. Anything is better than accepting the reality that I was stupid and now I'm gonna pay for it."
"Don't give up, okay? We've got this guy, Mariotti, in our sites, we'll get him." Steve felt uncomfortable. Rarely did he feel at a loss for words with anyone, let alone Danny. His mind kept replaying the younger man's fierce competitive spirit on the tennis court, surfing the waves, hiking -- everything so physical. What can I offer in the way of hope? Nothing. There is nothing to say, nothing to do that has not already been done. All my great plans for nailing Mariotti aren't going to bring back Danny's feeling. Will time? The stark reality is that every hour that passes means recovery is less likely. I cannot accept the possibility --- if I can't how do I expect him to? "Danno," he said quietly, "I will see this through with you -- no matter what."
Ben had run errands
and helped Che process data for hours. It was getting late and he was
tired, but he could see no practical reason to go somewhere else.
Che finished cataloging his findings. "You going to go home sometime soon?'
Ben shook his head. "Don't really see why I should."
Che scowled. "Word is you asked Iliki to marry you - shouldn't you be spending some time with her?"
Ben opened his mouth, shut it, then murmured. "Things aren't that easy."
"Yeah?" Che closed his notebook.
Ben carefully poured out the whole story, the pain and frustration as Che made more coffee.
"You need to talk to this girl," Che commented. "It's hard to believe that she would believe a tabloid over you. You've been together since high school. You'd dated seriously three years, right?"
He nodded. "I would have thought we had more trust."
Che poured two cups of coffee. "Maybe you should have. Why don't you call her?"
He shrugged. "She's had all day to reconsider this."
As much as Ben wanted reconciliation, the thought of calling Iliki sent ice water through his veins. What if she hangs up? What if she refuses? As long as I don't do anything I can cling to this threat of hope that things will work out.
Che gave a kind smile and picked up the phone. "Go ahead."
He nervously accepted the receiver. "I don't know, Che."
"Well, I do. Call her."
He tried to settle his nerves. "What will I say?"
"Try telling her how you feel about her."
Well that won't work. He dialed her number. The phone was ringing at the other end. Everything within him told him to hang up, but he was frozen, the phone to his ear.
"Hello?" came Iliki's sweet and wonderful voice.
"Iliki," he managed to utter.
"What do you want?" she demanded, the softness instantly converted into hard coldness.
"I - I want you to know that I love you. There is no one but you. There never was." He could feel his hands shaking. Why did I do this?
"How could you do this?" she whispered hotly.
I didn't do anything!
He wanted to scream. "I know you must feel betrayed," he found
himself saying instead.
"How could you," she whispered again, this time her voice choking.
Is she crying? "Iliki, there is no one but you. I never had feelings for that girl. There was no relationship. It is not what it looks like. It is you I love."
She did not reply, but he could heard sniffling on the line.
"Iliki, can I come over?"
"That isn't a very good idea," she said through her tears. "I need time to think." She hung up.
At least she let me talk. What else can I do to convince her? What if I took her to meet Allison Stamper? Not very professional. He looked up and realized that Che had left the room. The telefax machine was running.
Che appeared in the
doorway. "Ben, it's the list from Switzerland -- the lip gel."
He held out the list, having already circled Hans Andersen's named third
from the top.
It was nearly one in the morning when Steve arrived at HPD. Perhaps due to the hour or the impending holiday, Andersen's arrest had escaped media attention. Steve, Duke and Ben stood on the other side of the one way glass watching the director who sat in the interrogation room at the table, hands folded in a very typical way.
always sit that way in interrogation rooms in movies?" Duke remarked.
"Guess even a director can play a role for us," Steve remarked. "Well, act 1, scene 1." He opened the door to the room and Andersen looked up at him.
"A bit theatrical, isn't it? Arresting me in the middle of the night," Andersen remarked.
"Is it?" Steve replied. "We have made some new discoveries."
"Really? And these discoveries implicate me?" Andersen did not look concerned in the least.
Steve dumped the manila folder of things taken from Andersen's pockets on arrest onto the table. Using the end of his pen, he poked around the small penknife, a little metal case of white tablets, a few coins, and singled out the small tube of lip gel. He slid it apart from the other things. "What do you use this for?"
Andersen sneered. "You got me out of bed to discuss lip balm?"
"That's what you use it for?" Steve asked calmly.
"Yes," Andersen answered, just barely maintaining civility. "Like it says: advanced lip moisturizing therapy. Apply as needed."
"Hum. And you order this all the way from Switzerland?"
"Yes. Is that a crime?"
"No. With all the products on the market, you order this?"
Steve circled the room once. "Seems to me that it is quite a signature."
"I have a report from the company that makes this stuff -- only six people in the US have placed an order in the last two years, but you are one of them."
"Okay, so what?"
"Well, it is just a pretty big co-incidence that a three inch spot of that very same lip gel was on the step of Jack's trailer - almost half a tube. Ally Stamper slipped in it and almost fell the other day. How do you suppose it got there?"
Andersen's mouth dropped open. "This is all about Allison's near fall? She didn't even fall! Nothing happened. Where are you going with this, McGarrett?"
Steve's expression tightened as he suddenly sat down opposite Andersen, leaning across the table face to face. "The same lip gel used in the same manner did cause one of my officers to fall the other night while he was chasing the person who violated the crime scene in Wiseman's room."
Andersen made the mistake of adopting a comical expression. "I remember hearing about your clumsy cop the other night. Too bad. I still don't know what this has to do with me."
Steve leapt forward
grabbing Andersen by the shirt. "You planted the incriminating evidence
against Mattingly, you used the same gel to make Williams fall and attempt
to make Stamper fall. That's evidence tampering and two counts of attempted
murder -- until I can make the murder of Wiseman stick, too."
Andersen, clutched in Steve's fierce grip was now appropriately terrified. "I don't know anything about any of this!" he stammered.
By this time, the door had burst open and Duke was there. "Steve," he grabbed McGarrett's arm. "Steve, let him go. Calm down here."
Steve twisted Andersen's shirt tighter in his fist just a moment, imparting the desire to clean the floor with the smaller director, before releasing the cloth and turning away towards the door.
Andersen jumped to the far side of the room, panting, attempting to settle himself. "You can't do this! I have my rights! I want my attorney!"
Duke stepped forward. "It's okay, Mr. Andersen. Right, Steve?" He glanced at McGarrett, but the senior officer of Five-0 make a comment or face them. Duke spoke calmly, "Look, Andersen, this probably can all be explained simply right now. Get your attorney involved and it will change. We will have to formally charge you then. Right now -- well it is still all off the books. Understand?"
Andersen glared at him warily, not completely certain he did understand. But Duke's face he recalled and this officer seemed much more in control over his emotion than hot-head McGarrett. "Okay," Andersen muttered.
"Now, we know you bought to lip gel -- and that it was in the possession of the person who planted this." He held up a red sharpie.
Andersen squinted. "A damned marker?"
"The one in
Wiseman's room had Rickie Mattingly's fingerprints all over it."
Andersen paused. "And Rickie killed Ronnie."
"We don't know," Duke replied, a little surprised that the point that the evidence had been planted against Rickie seemed to have escaped Andersen. Does he want us to believe Rickie killed Ronnie? "Have you given any of your lip gel to anyone in the crew?"
Andersen, feeling a little more in control of the situation, but keeping one eye on Steve, shrugged. "I don't remember."
Steve turned back. "You might want to think harder, Andersen. Right now it looks like you planted the evidence against Rickie."
"Why would I do that?"
"To draw attention away from Wiseman's real killer -- and that might be you."
Steve glanced at Duke. Duke spoke. "The person who had your lip balm used it as a weapon."
"Death by lip balm?" Andersen remarked.
Steve lunged towards
Anderson, but Duke managed to get a hold of him before the Five-0 chief
could reach Andersen, who again leapt back against the wall. "You
know, you need to pick your words with much more care," Duke remarked.
"It sounded to me like you were confessing."
Steve pulled free of Duke. "Your last two movies didn't get great reviews."
Andersen suddenly blinked. "Critics don't always understand the depth of a film."
"Yeah, Sally Jo gets killed by a giant slug that is haunting the sewers of the city - a lot of depth," Steve remarked. "I've heard that timing on release can make a big difference."
"If a film gets a lot of press, that can get people to see it."
"So media attention can be a big plus."
Andersen scowled. "So what, McGarrett?"
"It seems that since Wiseman's death, the media has been all over this picture. And I've heard that you and Moreland have all kinds of talk-show interviews scheduled now. Is that true?"
"But none of
that would have happened if Wiseman had not died."
Andersen did not reply.
"He didn't just die by drug induced heart attack. Someone made sure the world saw it - by dropping him out of the window into a hot shoot. Looks like a sure way to ensure publicity -- and eventually the box office sales." Steve stopped and watched for Andersen's reaction.
The reasoning was beginning to come to Andersen. "You think I killed Ronnie to promote the picture?"
"Millions of dollars at stake," Steve commented. "Plenty of motive. You didn't get enough attention, so you planted the marker to implicate your young co-star. And then you arranged for Ally to have an accident as well. What is enough for you, Andersen?"
"Wait, I didn't do any of this," Andersen murmured.
"Mattingly is in jail, arrested for Wiseman's murder because the evidence points to him," Steve went on.
Andersen shrugged. "Rickie is a pretty sick kid. He's difficult, rebellious "
"And he is fourteen," Duke injected.
Steve looked at him. "Duke, do you think that Andersen here thought Rickie would be tried as a juvenile and everything would be fine?"
"Is that what you thought?" Duke turned to Andersen.
"I -- no, I didn't do anything to Mattingly!"
Steve's expression changed to scorn. "Really? That's not what I hear. Sodomy is a crime in Hawaii, Andersen, and so is sex with a minor."
Sweat was pouring off Andersen, staining his brightly flowered shirt. "No more. I want my attorney."
Duke and Steve both stepped out of the room, Steve slamming the door behind him. "He was more worried about the suggestion of his sexual abuse that the possibility of murder charges," Duke remarked.
Steve nodded. "He
didn't kill Ronnie, but I think he knows more than he's telling. Wait
till the lawyer gets here, then let's see what we can get him to bargain
Danny awoke with a jolt. He had grown accustomed to the slow graying of his mental processes as he awoke from the usual mildly drug induced slumber, so this awakening in an alert "battle-mode" was particularly astonishing. For an instant he lay listening to his own breathing, a quickly developed habit to assure himself he actually was breathing. Something has happened -- or is happening.
He knew the voice, but Marten Camp did not come into his field of vision.
"Hell of a mess, isn't it?" Camp said quietly from the shadows. "You must feel -- vulnerable."
He wanted to turn his head, to move -- to see his former superior and instructor.
"Chin Ho sent me a message. Imagine that. How did he know about the PO box?" Camp's voice asked in the same quiet, peaceful fashion. "What else does he know?"
There was silence for a long moment. The deep shadows of darkness were held at bay only by one small light that shone against the far wall. I cannot see him. He wants it that way. He's making a point -- one I already knew. I am helpless. I am at his mercy. Mercy. Maybe Camp sees this better than everyone else. Maybe he's right.
Camp walked out of the shadow by the door. "You know there is no security in these places. Nothing. Anything could happen."
Danny could at last see Marten's face in the dim light as he came over to stand beside him.
"If I can get to you, so can anyone," Camp commented.
"No one would want to," Danny murmured.
Camp gave a small smile. "You under estimate yourself. You think that Gorek and Kachan were the only ones?" He shook his head slightly. "You have become the security risk."
Danny did not reply. I don't want to live like this. I can't live like this. But right now -- I don't know if I'm ready. Is anyone ever ready?
Camp issued a single staccatic laugh. "Let me guess. You don't want to live like this, but you aren't so sure about the alternative." He raised his right hand, a gray pistol with silencer looking more sinister in the dim light. He almost lovingly placed the silenced barrel against the side of Danny's head. "It will be painless."
Danny closed his eyes and swallowed. I am about to make the final payment for mistakes of my youth. Aunt Clara, I am sorry.
The moment seemed to hang for an eternity. Finally Marten whispered. "Is this what you want?"
He opened his eyes searching the black ops agent's face for any kind of emotion and finding none. "I don't know."
Camp nodded slightly. "I'm not a hatchet-man, Danny, you know that. But I need to do whatever it takes. Why did you have Chin contact me? You knew what it would create."
"Yes, I knew," he whispered.
A look of mild irritation crossed Camp's face. "Why?"
"Steve needed those records," he replied.
"Were they worth bringing attention to you so that I would have to do something like this?" Marten asked. "This is just unimportant local law stuff."
"A man was murdered. Steve needs to get to the bottom of it. And I -- I knew you would be able to help me, too."
Marten gave a slow nod and asked quietly: "Okay. When?"
Danny sighed. "How long do we have?"
"Already on borrowed time, Danny."
They were both quiet for a moment.
Marten scratched his head. "I'll have the records to you by later today. Friday night then."
"Okay," Danny said softly.
Camp placed a hand
on Danny's shoulder. "When I come - I'll try not to wake you."
End part 7