When The Song Dies
by Peg Keeley
hurriedly opened the door at the first knock. "My God, Danno, what did
they do to you?"
"Nothing much." He came uneasily into
"Mr. Athers?" She motioned to the lawyer.
He stood in the doorway. "Miss Kanae, your friend here is in a lot of
trouble. I'm not sure you really want to be seen with him. His hearing
will be next Monday." He hesitated a moment. "You might convince him
to give the police the information they want. They seem convinced he's
not behind this. It would be in his own best interest to co-operate.
Well," he paused again, "good evening, Mr. Williams, we'll be seeing
each other again."
She shut the door as he left, then pulled
Danny to the couch. "Come on, sit down. Let me see that bruise."
"Don't bother," he answered, taking a
She disappeared in the bath, then returned
with a washcloth and ice from the ice bucket.
flinched as she pressed it against his jaw and lip. "Interesting twist, isn't it?" he remarked.
"I've never had a day of trouble till
you came back. You know those morons you've got working for you set
"I know," she replied, sliding close beside
him. "I'm really sorry about it all. Alf's such a jealous baby."
"Jealousy? You think that's all this is
She shrugged. "Well, yeah. Alf just thinks
he has to be the lead pack dog or something." She giggled. "You just
have to get used to him."
"I'd rather not. Mali, I think they're
Her eyes narrowed slightly. "What makes you say that."
He wrestled for an instant about telling
her everything, and thought better of it."They
got those drugs to plant on me."
She lowered her gaze. "They don't sell,
She nodded, blushing. "It's really not
a big thing, Danno. I just use a little from time to time. It helps
me relax before a concert. I'm not a junky."
He didn't respond.
She hurried to continue her reasoning.
"You know, just like some people use coffee to wake up in the morning.
Alf and Randall are good guys really. They'd do anything for me."
Anything? "Coffee's not illegal.
And you're fooling yourself, Mali, those guys are no good. Did they
get you hooked?"
She frowned. "I'm not hooked." She tossed
the washcloth to the coffee table, frustration suddenly venting. "Why
are you so black and white? Most of life is really sort of gray. It's
all relative, you know?"
He took her hand to draw back her attention.
"Mali, I've spent twenty years trying to tell myself you're a pompous
brat, but all the while, unable to keep from following your every move.
I care about you. I don't want to see you get ruined by these guys.
They're into something big. It'll get you hurt--maybe worse."
There was a silence for a moment as she
stared at him with her deep black almond eyes. Then she giggled. "Oh,
Danno, you are so dear--and so naive." She pulled her hand away. "Did
you really think you could walk back into my life after twenty years
and have me fall at your feet?"
He felt indignation rising. He rose. "I
didn't ask to come here--that was your idea. I didn't have to do anything."
He headed for the door. "I've gotta be going. Thanks for the bail out.
I'll pay you back." It was not what he felt, but at this moment, he
wasn't sure what he did feel. He yearned to tell her the truth, perhaps
then she'd believe him about Alf and Randall. They'd killed one man,
would they kill her, too? If the steaks were high enough he believed
they would. He paused at the door, again uncertain of where Mali fit
in to this whole picture. He could still see her as the child he shared
popsicles with, the young girl he shared love with. "Mali, they're planning
a big sale. That's why they set me up. They don't want me around when
it goes down."
She came to him. "Who told you that?"
"It's pretty obvious, isn't it?" He shook
his head. "It had to be something big for them to get me arrested. They
wanted me out of the way. Alf got mad when you hired me. He is serious
business. I could have got killed today. You could be in real danger."
She gave a little strangled laugh. "Alf?
Dangerous? He's a big cuddly teddy bear. Alf would die for me. He loves
me--maybe more than I desire. Without me, he wouldn't have a life."
He looked away from her. "Well, maybe
so. I'd best just leave you with the guy who worships you. Godhood has
to be tricky at best."
She hurried to him, pulling his hand back
from the door. "Look, I'm sorry about all this. Really. It's not as
bad as it seems." She carefully placed her arms around his neck. "We
don't have a lot of time--let's not spend it fighting. I really do want
to be with you."
He scowled, aware he had just experienced
another of Mali's amazing mode shifts that seemed to change her entire
being like turning on a light switch. In high school, I thought that
was cute. I liked that spontaneity about her. It's not so cute anymore;
something is really wrong with her. He felt the urge to protect
her from Alf, Randall, the world, and herself. "Malama, you're a hard
woman to know."
She smiled, this time seductively. "Isn't
that when it's the best?" She kissed him gently on the lips, tenderly
avoiding the injury. "You were my first love, Danny Boy, no one will
ever change that."
He gazed into her dark face, wishing things
were different, trying to keep it all in perspective. "Haven't you heard?
You can't go home again." Does she even know who Thomas Wolf was?
She didn't seem phased at all. "I
told you, didn't I? Your first love never really leaves you," she whispered
into his ear, then nibbled his lobe.
"Ssssh." She embraced him and kissed him
passionately. She drew him towards the patio. "Look, Danno. A full moon
tonight. If only we had our beach."
He knew exactly what she meant. He recalled
that warm senior prom night, the iridescent droplets of salt water reflecting
the moon light on Mali's soft flawless skin. Every moment of that night
of first love was fresh before him as the Mali of today stood in the
full moon of this night.
She embraced him, running her fingers
up through his hair, then pressed her mouth to his in a fierce passion
as if to force the clock to turn back twenty years.
A small voice scolded him that he should
put out this fire. This isn't the time, no matter what she says.
She is still a suspect and this is an undercover assignment. I do this
and it could blow the case. He started to pull away, but Mali held
on tighter, issuing a tiny moan of protest. Her perfume enveloped him.
The same scent he had always known to be hers. Her hands were stroking
his neck, his face, his back. He could feel her body pressing against
his, just thin sheets of clothing between them.
He took her in his arms and returned the
kiss, immersing himself in her desire. It really did seem like the clock
was turning back as he felt his better judgement yielding to hopes long
dead and an old love that had never died. You never really leave
your first love.
was the clean sound of splashing water as Danny roused from a sound
sleep. It took a moment to place his surroundings. The sun streamed
through the open balcony sliding door and the curtain drifted lazily
in the breeze. He glanced at his watch as he sat up. Nearly 10 o'clock.
There was the smell of hot coffee and he realized he was hungry and
hadn't eaten since lunch the day before. By the couch was a room service
cart with coffee and danish. He half dressed, then helped himself.
I can't believe I was so stupid.
Yet even as he considered the night, he felt a passion for Mali that
he had known years ago. Maybe certain people really are just meant
for each other. I would have chosen Lani to go through this life with.
Lani. A wave of guilt washed over him. She would never have even
considered sexual relations before marriage. What would she think of
this? What opposites. Lani who was pure, honest, loving, giving to all
with no thought for herself. Mali, a border-line schizophrenic, junkie,
self-centered, ego manic. Yet I was drawn back to her like a magnet.
What do I do now? Get off this case. How? Do I just walk away? Tell
her what and who I am and what I know?
He took a sip of coffee. It was good,
the nutty aroma filled his head and he tried to clear his mind. What
do I really know? Is Mali a victim or a co-conspirator? She is
at the very least into a drug habit. That could be dealt with later.
Get her cleaned up--then what? Do I give up my life and chase her across
the continents for the next umteen years? Or do I expect her to become
the model wife with a houseful of little kids and dirty laundry?
Neither of those scenarios seemed likely. He considered the night before
and his feelings, not sure what to believe about himself. He would not
ever have imagined he could become so intimately involved with her again.
The old pain of rejection had been etched deeply upon his life for years--could
it have really been so totally wiped away in one night? Had it ever
existed? There is no future for us. Keep my mind on the job. The
drugs. Where did they come from? How did Alf get them in? What does
he plan to do with them? I could find them without problem. It's taking
out Alf and Sanders together that will be the trick. And what of Mali?
What of Mali.
He bit into a cheese danish. Mali
sneezed twice in the bath and the flavor went out of the food. She'd
just snorted her morning fix. The romance and charm was broken.
The bath door opened and she appeared in a lovely mint green sleeveless
top and white shorts. She gazed at him. For some unexplainable reason,
he felt suddenly embarrassed to be standing there bare chested with
a danish in hand. She smiled and skipped giddily across the floor. "Isn't
it a beautiful morning?"
He smiled slightly. "It's fine, Mali."
"Don't you wish we could stay here forever?"
She ran a hand across his chest. Her finger hesitated a moment over
the peculiar starburst scar over his sternum. For a moment, he thought
she would ask about it and hoped she wouldn't. "We did it," she said
instead, hugging him.
"We turned back time! It is all ours again!"
She giggled. "You'll come with me now, right? There isn't anything for
you here that could replace me, is there?"
He broke the embrace gently and turned to pick up his shirt. "Look,
Mali, about last night-"
"Oh, hush, Danno, don't go and say something
to spoil it. Don't tell me you have a fiancée hiding around somewhere."
"Nothing like that," he replied quietly.
"Good." As if that concluded the conversation,
she raced around the room like a school child, threw open the curtains
to the balcony and stood out upon it like a stage. "The world's at my
feet! Tonight will belong to me!" She raised her arms towards the morning
breeze. Her face was flushed with excitement--and cocaine.
He finished dressing, careful not to be
noticed tucking the pistol he'd wrapped in his shirt back behind him
in his belt. "I'd better go, Mali."
She spun in surprise. "Go? Go where? Just
"Your buddies are going to wonder where
"I don't care; why should you?"
"I don't care about them. I care about
you--now more than ever. They're bad business. I don't trust them. And
I don't like seeing you strung out on cocaine. If you are serious about
us being together prove it. Drop them and get enrolled in a drug rehab
program. I will be there for you. I'll help you."
She laughed at him, gesturing to his coffee.
"You get your morning fix, why shouldn't I?" She slapped her hand on
her leg in sudden irritation. "You're just like Alf, just like him.
One night and possessive as hell."
"This has nothing to do with being possessive.
I'm interested in your future. Alf and Randall are headed for trouble
and so are you unless you leave them right now. They will get caught.
You know that. And when they tell the cops they're buying for you, what
then? If they were your real friends they'd see you got help, not drugs."
She stood, hands on hips, face now flushed
with anger. "My dear straight arrow, Danno. Out on bail for drug possession
and still you sound like the white knight. You didn't squeal on Alf
and Randall. I thought you might have changed a bit, but you haven't.
You need to be a little more flexible. You need a nice little drug habit--help
you unwind a bit."
He didn't answer for a moment. He, too,
was realizing things hadn't really changed. Mali would never be what
he wished. If he had been about to share the truth with her, he was
thinking better of it now. Could it be she is in on this with them?
He dismissed it. They are using her drug habit to hide what they
do. Not even Mali would ever smuggle drugs. Didn't she do that commercial
last year telling kids about the dangers of drugs? He couldn't look
her in the eye, if he did he knew she would know something was happening.
"I'd better go get some work done."
Mali was not accustomed to being put off.
Her once loving eyes blazed with fury. Warmth a gaiety faded from her
face. "You need to see the real world, Danny. I am a real person with
big things happening. You couldn't possibly understand the pressure.
Don't you judge me! I gave you a chance to be with me. I asked you.
I've never asked that of anyone else!" She snatched up her purse. She
yanked out a dry cleaning slip. "Well, 'go'fer,' know where the Sparking
Cleaners is on Makapau? I left two dresses there yesterday. Get 'em
to my dressing room."
Danny met Duke at the prearranged spot on a bench of a bus stop. Sitting
side by side, Duke with newspaper spread across his knees, they were
quiet for a moment.
"Heard you had a wild night," Duke remarked.
Danny looked over at him in shocked surprise. God, has he been tailing
"I meant at the police station," Duke added, but instantly concluded
the truth. "Watch yourself, Bruddah."
He stared down at the pavement instead of at Duke. "I'm pretty sure
they're going to transfer the drugs tonight. Alf's been nervous as a
cat all day. I overheard his comment to Randall about being relieved
after tonight was over."
"Well, the drugs are drying up on the street. Word is The Colonel flushed
out his competition and is now going to drive prices up," Duke supplied.
"How does the lady fit into this?"
He never lifted his gaze. "I don’t know for sure. I don't think she
knows, but she is using."
Duke gave no response for what seemed an eternity. "Shall I tell Steve
to pull you out?"
He shook his head. "I haven't gotten the drugs yet. Maybe I can prove
"Bad deal, Danny," Duke sympathized, "this may do in her career."
Danny recalled how Mali had told him that the cheering audience meant
everything to her and she could never give it up. "Meet you at 8:00.
You know where."
Duke did not watch him leave, he kept his eyes on the newsprint, but
he wished Steve had chosen someone other than Danny.
had waited patiently for action that did not come. Duke gave his report,
what there was of it, and could see Steve was less than pleased. "It'll
be all right," Steve finally told him.
Duke could not help but notice it sounded
more like a wish than a promise. "Kimo reports there's not been anything
going on at Sanders; he hasn't even could out to pick up his daily paper."
Steve cracked a smile at that. "He called
over here complaining that all he'd observed was a fly doing pushups
on the windshield."
Duke gave no response. Kimo totally lacked
a sense of humor, so he doubted that had been the wording of the complaint.
"I've got records on one of those managers off the telex," Duke announced.
"Randall Higgens, alias Rudolph Higgens, alias Randolph Waites." He
handed Steve the blow-up of Randall's driver's licence photo.
Steve noted silently that it came from Phoenix.
"Minor but consistent rap sheet over the
last ten years. Possession of narcotics twice. Drunk and disorderly
once. DWI once. And this one." He showed the report.
"Illegal sale of a controlled substance,"
"Marijuana. They let him go because it
was such a small quantity."
"He may be moving up," Steve remarked
offhandedly. He moved to the table where the blue print to the band
shell was laid out. "I want plain clothes people at all exits, mixed
in with the crowd. Make sure they all know the two managers photos."
He handed back the glossies of Alf and Randall. He circled the delivery
area behind the shell with his finger. "Takes a lot of guts to schedule
a drug deal to go down in front of six thousand people. Maybe that's
what makes it so perfect."
atmosphere began to buzz with excitement. Wires were strung, scaffolding
secured, lights tested and flashed. Some of the employees of the snack
bars were arriving to warm up their grills. At five o'clock an armored
car carrying cash for the concessions arrived. At 6:00 some patrons
sat in their cars in the outer parking lot waiting. Scalpers moved quietly
from car to car. Danny had been kept busy most of the day and under
close observation by either Randall or Alf. If his apparent display
as an unwilling snitch in HPD had given them confidence in him, it did
not show. Danny had not seen Mali most of the day. She had locked herself
in to her dressing room for the last several hours. A band member commented
that was normal for her. Perhaps, but he was unhappy that their last
exchange had been so unpleasant. He wished so much to spare her from
what would fall on her associates. If he couldn't get her out, she'd
be swept away with them, guilty by association. If he could only catch
Alf and Randall in the act he could perhaps protect her. That would
mean finding the stash of drugs and staking out the right spot. He had
to get off by himself. At seven thirty, the gates opened and Mali's
admirers began to stream in. The sun was dipping low, shadows lengthened.
Danny had only half an hour to report by to Duke. He continued rolling
wire as he glanced at Randall, less than twenty yards away from him.
I've got to slip away from this guy.
Sander's driver, entered the lot and made his way through the throngs
of people to a security guard. "I have to see Alf Georgson or Randall
"Who?" the guard murmured, disinterestedly.
"Mali Kanae's managers. I've got an important
Shelby glanced at his watch. Thirty minutes to show time.
The guard hesitated, then spoke into his
Danny noticed Randall speak into his radio, then, casting a glance back
towards him once, turn and disappear into the enlarging crowd. Danny
dropped the coils of wire on the spot and dashed towards the storage
area to the rear of the shell.
Randall recognized Shelby as he approached the gate. Glancing quickly
around, he took Shelby by the arm and they ducked inside the door of
a custodial closet.
"Why do you need to bug me now?" Randall snapped impatiently, kicking
an empty mop bucket.. ""I'm not supposed to see you till eight."
Shelby wasted no time. "That beach-boy: he's a cop."
Randall froze. "Oh, man." He also was aware he'd just left Danny on
his own at the worst possible moment.
"And not just any cop--a Five-O cop," Shelby continued. "That's the
state's top. You don't mess with these guys. Tell your boss lady the
deal's off. Sanders doesn't want your goods."
"You can't do that!" Randall snarled.
"Sanders is throwin' away all he's invested on the streets."
Shelby shook his head. "He's out. End of discussion. He didn't even
want me to come back here, but---I thought I owed it to you."
"Why would you owe me something?" Randall sneered. "What the hell do
we do with six million in cocaine?"
"Shut up, man," Shelby hissed, glancing around even though they were
inside a closet. "You solve your personnel problems. I'll see what I
can do. Meet you back here at 8:30."
Randall looked hopeful. "You've got another buyer?"
He shrugged. "Maybe. Haven't got much time. It's almost certain to be
less than Sanders."
Randall jutted his jaw out. "I know this scam. Sanders is gonna cheat
Shelby smiled. "Your boss lady goofed. Risks go up, prices go down.
Take it or leave it."
Cursing, Randall stormed away in search of Alf.
The sounds of thousands of
fans in the shell were muffled through the cinderblock and concrete
that divided the storage area away from the performance side of the
shell. Danny had opened the three of the large sound crates on wheels
with no luck. He rummaged through the contents; tangled cords and cables
mixed with frayed electrical wire and a few small 3" and 5" speakers.
Running out of time, he warned himself, not even wanting to take
time to check his watch. He stood up, stuffing the contents haphazardly
back into the crate. He glanced at the six crates remaining and did
a mental "eany-meany-miney-moe." He took hold of an electrical box.
It was locked. Encouraged since the rest had been open, he pried the
simple lock off with his penknife and threw back the lid. It was empty
except for one orphan light fixture. Half way down, was a false wooden
bottom. He tapped it, then used the penknife to gently pry it up. Shining
white plastic packages of cocaine glimmered in the faint light. If pure,
it was easily valued over 12 million after cutting. Although he'd known
this would be the find, he was stunned. He felt the thrill of the find,
the bust pending, "the bad guys gonna lose," but at the same time, the
pit of his stomach twisted with fear for Mali. He lowered the false
bottom back into place.
"Looks sort of pretty, doesn't it?" Randall said suddenly.
Danny spun to face him.
"Surprise, surprise, surprise," Randall chuckled. "So, the beach boy
isn't a beach boy after all."
"It's over, Randall," Danny announced quietly.
"You think so?" Randall grinned.
There was a sudden motion and Alf, who'd been in the dark on the other
side stepped forward, a coax cable in hand.
Outnumbered and certain his cover was blown, Danny took his only option
and made a start for his weapon, but in a sudden lunge, Alf had the
cable taut around Danny's neck.
"Check him, Randall," he ordered.
Randall found the gun instantly. "Well, well," he smiled, turning it
over in his hands. "What a clever toy."
Alf tightened the cable as Danny gasped for breath. Blood thundered
in his ears and his face throbbed with each heart beat.
"You listen, cop," Alf muttered in his ear. "There's a lot of people
out there. No doubt some of them are your friends. We're gonna take
a nice leisurely stroll to see Mali. No quick moves. Randall here wouldn't
think twice about shooting you in the back." He released the cable.
Danny breathed deeply, rapidly, rubbing his hand against his neck where
a deep red welt had already sprung up. "Why not just kill me now?" he
panted, afraid of them dragging Mali into this mess. "Look, leave her
out of this."
"Last time we got creative with you, Mali nearly nailed me," Alf growled.
He glanced up, question on his face. What does that mean?