The Weasel

By Peg Keeley

Part 2


Danny 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.

"Back there," 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.

"Oh, Danny, I wish they hadn't called you," she whispered, whimpering from the cold.

"Rita, we need to get you to a doctor."

"No," she whispered. "No doctor."

"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 him."

"What did he look like?"

She shrugged.

"Come on, Rita. Haole? Big? Young? Give me something."

"He wore jeans," she whispered. "That's all."

"No shirt?"

"No, that's all I remember."

He gave a slightly exasperated sigh and glanced at Andy

Andy offered: "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."

Okay, I'll go. But we need to file the report. Andy can stay with you here. Give me your key."

"I-I'll go. Please, Danny. No police. Not now. Not yet. I'll go with you."

Rita's 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.

He shrugged. "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."

She managed 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."

"No, please. 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 door."

"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."

"That's not 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.

She hesitated. "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 of cleaning."

She nodded, hating herself, wishing things were not turning out as planned

The 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 their lives?

Most 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 loudest talkers.

Just as he got comfortable, the foreman called his assumed name. "Hey! Big Joe!"

He turned towards him. "Yo."

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."


"Import division."

"Oh, yeah. Heard the money's good--and it ain't so hot."

He squinted at the paper on his clipboard. "Well, good money, but strange hours. You gotta wife gonna complain?"

"No, wife, Bruddah--on my application."

"Yeah well--" 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."

The foreman 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."

"Sure thing, thanks." Kono took a long drink of Coke.

Carew 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.

Wetzel looked 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.

He shrugged, still looking calm and relaxed. "Maybe cause I'm getting paid to baby-sit you."

McGarrett worried about something?"

"Should he be?"

Wetzel gave 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. "--stuff."

"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."

"Yeah? Surprise 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?"

"Never happened yet, Carew. And it isn't happening this time either."

Kimo blinked. McGarrett isn't gonna like that.

Cal 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?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, I got hard work for the right guy. Are you the right guy, Joe?"

Kono shrugged. "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?"

Kono nodded. "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."

"Thank you, sir."

"Can you start tonight?"

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."

Danny 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.

"Hi, Danny!" 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," he praised.

"I couldn't 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."

"Sounds great!" she said with a smile. The swollen bruises from the day before had begun to fade just a little.

As 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 house.

"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 guessed."

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 bell pepper.

"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."

"Water's fine." 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 your fingers."

He gave a chuckle. "But it took Andy to put a baseball in my pocket. And he talks too much."

"You still play piano?"

"Not as much as baseball." He opened the wine and poured it over the meat mixture. The steam hissed up.

"You've never played for me," she said in a fake pout.

"That's cause 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."

After dinner, 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 I could."

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."

"Not tonight. 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.


She snapped her head up. "What?"

"You all right? You look like something is bothering you."

"I'm fine."

"This 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 complained.

"Where you, 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.

Kono's 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.

"Break!" Ak announced.

Kono followed 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 turnover?

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.

Promptly at 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 clothed.

Although exhausted 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.

Danny 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.

He resolved 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.

At 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 door.

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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