By Peg Keeley
raced his car up to Andy's, slammed the brakes, and literally slid
the last four feet half into the parking place. He left it where it
was and dashed through the front door. "Where is she?" he demanded
of Tony who stood there waiting for him.
came the quick reply.
He burst into
the back room behind the bar where Andy was applying a cold, wet cloth
to Rita's face as she sat on a stool. He moved Andy's hand back and
gazed at the damage. Rita's left eye was already swollen and purple,
there were bruises on both cheeks, and scratches on the left one as
well. "God, Rita, what happened?"
She simply sat
there weeping as Andy pressed the ice back to her left eye.
Danny was no
stranger to the effects a beating could have on a person. He'd seen
victims of all sorts of violence and it never ceased to infuriate
him. "Who did this?" he asked gently.
I wish they hadn't called you," she whispered, whimpering from the
"Rita, we need
to get you to a doctor."
"No," she whispered.
"We need to
get you checked out."
"I'll be okay,
I told Andy not to call you."
"He did the
right thing. Can you tell me what happened?"
"I guess he
was robbing my place," she murmured slowly, not making eye contact.
"I don't have nothing there except a little TV. I must have surprised
"What did he
"Come on, Rita.
Haole? Big? Young? Give me something."
"He wore jeans,"
she whispered. "That's all."
all I remember."
He gave a slightly
exasperated sigh and glanced at Andy
"She came runnin' in here scared to death. First thing I thought was
to call you."
You did fine,
Andy." He turned back to Rita. "We need to get HPD over to your place
to file a report."
She shook her
head. "No, Danny. I can't. Mama will make me move back home to Maui."
"Damn your mama.
Maybe she's right. You could have been killed."
Rita began to sob. "Danny, I can't go back there."
go. But we need to file the report. Andy can stay with you here. Give
me your key."
go. Please, Danny. No police. Not now. Not yet. I'll go with you."
small flat was part of a duplex about three blocks from Andy's. It
was in marginally inhabitable condition, in need of cleaning, landscaping,
and paint. "Not much, huh?" she mumbled, embarrassed.
"It's okay." He unlocked the door and opened it cautiously.
The small front
room looked untouched. There was none of the overturned furniture,
dumped drawers, and other evidence he had expected to see. Except
for Rita's purse spilled on the floor, all was in order. He slowly
walked around the three-room place, his practiced eye searching for
anything out of place. He noticed the 13" TV on the dresser beside
her bed. He came back to where Rita stood, arms around her self, seeming
very small and vulnerable.
"Do you see
anything missing?" he asked her.
"I-I don't know,"
she replied, looking at the floor.
He raised an
eyebrow. "You must have frightened him off just after he arrived."
a grin. "I frightened him?"
He smiled back,
but he was troubled. If not for Rita's obvious injuries, there would
have been no signs of a crime. "Let's get you to a doctor."
I'm all right. I just want this over. If I got to the doctor, he'll
just say I've got some bruises and charge me a bunch of money."
He glanced around
again. "Well, I tell you what." He gestured towards the flimsy front
door. "We'll file that report, then I'll get you a deadbolt for that
"Can't the report
wait? What are they going find? I guess he didn't take anything. I'm
okay. What's the use?" She shivered. "Please, I don't want to stay
here. Take me back to Andy's. I'll stay there for a few days. He's
got a cot back in the washroom."
going to be very comfortable," he replied. "I've got this cottage
out at the beach. It belonged to my aunt and I've been fixing it up
with plans to rent it out again. There are two bedrooms there. I was
going to work on it this weekend anyway. It'll be a lot more comfortable
than Andy's and I'll know you are safe." And I can convince you
to file the report later.
"I hate to put you out, you've already done so much."
"It's no problem.
Hey, if you feel like you need to repay me, it really needs a lot
hating herself, wishing things were not turning out as planned
noon whistle in the shipyard blew its shrill tone. Kono gratefully
jumped from the forklift and removed his hard hat, wiping the sweat
from his brow. Not a moment too soon. How do guys do this all of
the workers hurried to the open window of the silver canteen truck
that had pulled up just minutes before. They began buying sandwiches
and cold soda. Kono bought a tuna sandwich and Coke, and then picked
out a nice piece of shade near a cluster of men he knew to be the
Just as he got
comfortable, the foreman called his assumed name. "Hey! Big Joe!"
He turned towards
The man, clipboard
in hand, came over and punched Kono's shoulder in a friendly way.
"The word is that you want to go play with the big boys."
"Oh, yeah. Heard
the money's good--and it ain't so hot."
at the paper on his clipboard. "Well, good money, but strange hours.
You gotta wife gonna complain?"
"No, wife, Bruddah--on
he shrugged, "--there's legal wives and there's other wives, if you
take my meaning."
"Not me, man,"
Kono said firmly. "Dames too much trouble."
chuckled. "Tell ya what. You need to finish up this shift. But, you
come around the office at 4:30 and they'll talk to you."
thanks." Kono took a long drink of Coke.
knocked on the edge of the open door frame and peered into the small,
dank office where Wetzel worked away on the keyboard of his computer.
up, punched a button, and the screen went blank. "What is it, Carew?"
He came in and
took a seat without asking. "Thought I'd see how you're doing."
"Why?" It was
more of a demand than a question.
still looking calm and relaxed. "Maybe cause I'm getting paid to baby-sit
"Should he be?"
a thin smile. "Truth in the winner, Carew, always. That's what it
is all about." He glanced back at the dark screen. He wasn't happy
that Carew had made his appearance just now. He'd quietly put two
DEA men to work for him that he had cleared through his own check
earlier. They were out there doing the legwork. He was not anxious
to have their identities revealed just yet.
"Why all the
secrets, Wetzel? Why all this--" He waved a hand across the computer.
"You think this
is just a gimmick? A game?" Wetzel glared. "No games, Carew. Serious
business. I am here to clean the house. That's my job. The trouble
with investigating crime fighters is they know all the tricks. So
I have to keep coming up with new methods. Hence this--stuff."
"What does the
computer do anyway?"
He shook his
head. "You'd be surprised."
me." Kimo leaned forward.
He leveled his
dark gaze on Carew. "You'll know soon enough."
"Ever try to
clean a house that wasn't dirty?"
yet, Carew. And it isn't happening this time either."
McGarrett isn't gonna like that.
sat quietly behind the desk in the Mayan Shipping office sizing up
Kono and poking a pencil into the desk blotter. The air-conditioner
was so cold, goose bumps popped up on Kono's arms. "So, you're Big
Moe, huh? Like the three stooges?"
Kono did not
smile. "That's Joe, Sir."
Cal smiled through
the pencil. "Right. Joe. You a hard worker, Joe?"
"Well, I got
hard work for the right guy. Are you the right guy, Joe?"
"I dunno. What you lookin' for?"
He tossed the
pencil aside. "I like you already," he said sincerely. "You are a
careful person--not quick to commit yourself. I like that in a man.
And that is just what I need--a careful person. Our import merchandise
is delicate. We don't want clumsy workers dropping cases, breaking
them open and such. We bring the imports in, repack them, and ship
them out. As simple as that. The work is at night. Sometimes I send
men with the shipment to ensure its safe arrival. You follow me, Joe?"
"I can be careful."
"Most of the
time I won't accept a man until he's been around six months or so.
But, I've heard good reports about you."
"Can you start
Kono had just
completed a full day's work. He knew Cal knew that. "Yes, sir."
He broke into
a broad smile. "Splendid. We're going to work well together!" He slapped
Kono's arm. "I'll have them get you a cot for an hour's nap." Cal
watched carefully as Kono left, then went to his phone and dialed
a number. "Mr. Bedson. We got him. Yes, sir. I'll be ready, sir."
turned the car off the tarmac onto the crushed shell road and drove
the last twenty-five yards up to the old cottage that used to belong
to Clara Williams. It held many fond memories of his past that he
normally would not have dwelt upon. After the incident with Mali Kanea
he had decided to sell it. But Duke Lukela in his usual paternal fashion
had convinced him to maintain the small income he got from the renters.
Only the last one had completed her lease a month ago and he'd decided
to use the opportunity to freshen the place up before listing it again.
For the first time is many years, he'd found himself amongst the ghosts
of his childhood. The paint on the white wood siding was half scraped
off in anticipation of his painting the outside. The screens had been
repaired already, fortunately, since he had not planned using this
place for company when he'd begun renovation. He was a little surprised
at how easy it had been to bring Rita here. The place was easier to
deal with when he wasn't alone. Good thing there are no neighbors
or the rumors would be flying long about now, he thought to himself
as he opened the car door and pulled the sack of groceries out after
him. He'd told Steve where he'd be for the weekend and made sure Kono
could reach him.
"Rita?" he called
as he came through the door.
she called back with a smile from where she was sweeping the porch
that faced the shoreline. Her hair was tied back with a bandana and
she wore one of his old flannel shirts over her jeans. "I did some
cleaning up in here. I hope you don't mind."
He stood admiring
the old dining room. It had never looked this good. The china had
been washed till it shone and placed in perfect setting on the old
white lace tablecloth of Aunt Clara's Rita had found in the attic
and washed. The silver candlesticks had been polished and two small
stubs of red candles were awaiting the match's light. "Look's great,"
make a meal," she said apologetically. "There wasn't any food."
"I brought it,"
he said, gesturing to the grocery bags in his arms.
"What did you
get?" She took one bag and peeked into it as if it held a treasure.
"I'll do the
dinner," he declared. She started to protest, but he insisted. "I'm
a good cook--really. I'll make you one of my specialties: stir-fried
beef tips in red wine sauce."
she said with a smile. The swollen bruises from the day before had
begun to fade just a little.
they unloaded the bags he thought about the thousands of men who came
home to the same woman every day, to a clean house and a meal waiting;
maybe a kid or two playing ball in the yard. It must feel something
like this. Get a grip! He scolded himself. It must be this
"I went by Andy's
today to tell him I was okay," Rita announced as he cubed the meat
and tossed it in flour.
"Did you tell
him where you were?" The meat sizzled as he dumped it into the hot
olive oil in the skillet.
"Sort of. He
He nodded and
gave a smile. "Andy's known me since I was six years old. He was friends
with Aunt Clara." He stirred the meat with a wooden spoon and added
some salt, garlic, and chopped onion. The aroma filled the cottage.
"He said she
was an actress," Rita commented, perching herself on a stool to watch
as he chopped the vegetables.
"She was. Broadway
and all." He checked the meat and stirred it again. He added the green
"How did she
wind up here?"
"That is a very
long story--too long." He dumped the egg noodles into boiling water.
"You want a beer? I've also got some wine."
But Rita was not going to let the other topic go. "Andy said she raised
you with all the best--tennis racquet in your hand, ivories under
He gave a chuckle.
"But it took Andy to put a baseball in my pocket. And he talks too
"You still play
"Not as much
as baseball." He opened the wine and poured it over the meat mixture.
The steam hissed up.
played for me," she said in a fake pout.
I like you." He checked the noodles.
"And who taught
you to cook?"
He put a hand
on his hip. "You ask too many questions."
he took her for a walk out on the beach to watch the sun set.
"I could love
a place like this," Rita whispered. "I can't believe you don't live
here all the time. If I lived here, I'd watch the sunset every chance
He didn't answer.
He was a little ashamed to admit he rarely took the time to notice
the natural beauty of the property. Darkness was starting to fall
and they turned back towards the cottage. "You want to sing at Andy's
tonight? It's Friday."
My poor face is awful." She took his hand. "You've been so wonderful
about all of this. Where have you been all of my life?" Even as she
said it, her conscience reminded her of her mission. How can I
be doing this? He's a nice guy. Maybe I should just tell him and maybe
he could fix it. Fix it? God, he'd hate me. He'll find out soon enough.
her head up. "What?"
"You all right?
You look like something is bothering you."
is insane," Cal declared.
"No, it's perfect,"
Bedson replied. "The Star of India will arrive tomorrow night, right
under the eyes of Five-0."
"But we're taking
a terrible chance!"
"No, the chance
was taken when you guys started making McGarrett look in our direction.
Now I'll see to it that he looks the other way. Tomorrow night he
won't be thinking about Mayan Shipping, that I can guarantee." Bedson
lit up a cigarette and dropped the match into the abalone shell ashtray
on his desk.
"But he's got
a cop on our docks and you just placed the guy on the inside!" Cal
my friend, can keep an eye on him. Five-0 thinks they've got this
in the bag." He gave a chuckle. "Well, this is one cat that isn't
gonna stay in their bag."
Cal left the
office, not wishing to comment on Bedson's misused metaphors. He gazed
across the domestic docks that were empty and silent towards the import
docks ablaze in light as the men worked moving crates from the warehouse
into the row of semi-trucks. Even from a hundred yards away, he could
pick out Big Joe.
first observation about the import crew was that they were as silent
as the other team had been talkative. They were careful almost to
a fault, gently guiding every crate from its stack on the dock into
the large bays. The crates were totally unmarked, which seemed a little
unusual, but the foreman knew exactly where to place each one. The
team only consisted of twelve men and a foreman who liked to be called
Ak. Their precision was like a surgical team as the stacks quickly
dwindled. By midnight, each crate had been placed in the warehouse
on it's own large square with a number on it. The only physical record
was on the tally sheet on the foreman's clipboard.
the others into the break room where a large pot of coffee steamed
beside a tray of donuts. No one seemed in much of a hurry to get back
to duty. The television was playing in the corner and most of the
men collapsed onto soft couches to watch wrestling. I can see why
they'd like a job like this, in spite of the hours, so why the fast
It was almost
two hours later when Ak reappeared and announced it was time to get
back to work.
"We always get
two hours off like that?" Kono asked one worker.
The man just
shrugged and walked away from him.
The group returned
to the large warehouse where they were instructed to move the crates
from their squares into the backs of the trucks. The crates were still
unmarked. Kono had the feeling he was watching an elaborate shell
game. Each truck was identified by small a magnetic number on the
left rear door. Again, Ak specified the placement of each crate. As
a truck was filled, Ak pulled off the number.
six a.m. the foreman announced the night's work was over. Kono could
look across the chain link fence and by the rays of the rising sun
see the domestic weekend crew just arriving. He followed the other
workers across the yard to the one story chanson hut with blackout
shades over the windows that served as the bunkhouse for the night
crew. He picked out an empty bed and dropped onto it, still fully
from twenty-four hours with no sleep, rest did not come quickly. Kono's
mind quickly raced through what he'd seen and how he could use it.
The workers never leave the yard, that's why he's so careful to
pick those without families. And the unloaded crates, what's in them?
The long break would have been plenty of time for someone to go out,
rearrange them, or add something to them. And why the trucks?
Where did they take the stuff? It seemed so elaborate. He knew
that tonight, he'd have to find out what was inside those crates.
had spent most of Saturday working on the cottage. He enjoyed fixing
the place up and Rita had made it all the more pleasant. He'd dug
out old dead shrubs, she'd cleaned windows and washed curtains. He
finished repairing the bath rub leak and found the break in the shingle
of the roof. He determined he'd get that fixed tomorrow so that next
weekend he could paint the back bedroom. He was exhausted, but felt
the satisfaction of accomplishment that only comes with physical labor.
Now, just past midnight, Rita had long gone to bed in the back and
he lie on the couch barefoot, in jeans and an old gray T-Shirt with
P.A.L. blazed across the front. As he sipped the cold beer, he listened
to the sounds of the house and the surf. It was unusually warm, but
the breeze whispering through the screens was cool. He lingered over
some of his more pleasant memories of childhood and he wondered if
it was better to sell than to rent. Or maybe I should just move
back here. Who would I share it with? Rita? He smiled in spite
of himself. Getting just a little ahead of myself here. He
knew the idea was silly. Just what do I really know about her?
Not much. She sings. I should have learned that lesson. I've only
known her two months. Where does she come from? Her mother is on Maui.
What brought her here? If it's singing, why doesn't she go for the
big clubs? What happened at her apartment? What really happened there?
What if her attackers weren't robbers, but were after her? After her
for what? What do I really know about her? With an audible sign,
he crumpled the aluminum can and tossed it into the waste can where
it clunked noisily against the one he'd finished earlier.
that tomorrow he would insist that she file a police report. He knew
he should have pushed for it Saturday. What if she is in danger
and there is someone out there looking for her right now? Can they
track her here? He checked his snub nosed .38 in the drawer of
the end table where he could reach it in a flash. I should have
made her file that report. He drifted off to sleep on the couch.
just about the time Danny was falling asleep, Kono was going on break
at Mayan Shipping. He filed into the break room with the rest of the
crew, poured his coffee and collected a fistful of donuts. There was
a roller derby on the set tonight. As the voluptuous women raced around
the rink at breakneck speeds slamming each other into the railings,
the men cheered and cat-called. Kono faked his involvement for a while,
watching the foreman closely. Kono slipped quietly into the rest room
where he waited another ten minutes. He would have loved to slip through
the window, but his size made that out of the question. Cracking the
door open an inch, he waited until the show came back on from a commercial,
then carefully slipped across the back of the room and out of the
The night was
invigorating; the air heavy with salt. Keeping his cover of shadows,
Kono made his way back towards the warehouse. As he rounded the dock,
he stopped in his tracks. A large freighter had tied up to the dock
since they had left. The back end was partially covered by a sheet,
but the last few letters were still visible. "--f India." Kono knew
right away it was one of the three ships from Steve's list of possible
drug runners. Star of India. Tempted to make a dash for the phone
right away, he resisted that urge and made his way to the warehouse
instead. He peeked over the edge of the window and saw the precious
crates all standing open, seltzer half poking out. Kono blinked twice.
It looked like a yard sale special. He'd expected to see bales of
drugs, but instead there were lamp bases, rolls of rugs, skins, figurines.
Then it hit him--smuggling contraband. The lamp bases were ivory as
were several of the statues. The rolled rugs were actually tiger and
leopard skins. We were so far off the mark, we might never have
gotten this one. No wonder all the drug leads came back dry! Kono
slipped away, knowing he had to get to the public phone on the other
side of the yard.
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