The Case of the Rising Sun
A project of The Great Five-0 Weekend Writing Challenge
Steve’s Girl, Barbara of Pittsburgh, Vrinda, Eric W, and H50 1.0 FOREVER
On a dark and stormy night . . .
Since 4:00, rain had been coming down in torrents, driving everyone inside and bringing life on Hotel Street to a veritable standstill. There was little movement, except for the occasional taxi cab that rolled through puddles of water en route to points unknown. The alleys, where the usual clandestine trade in opium, heroin, and even Havana cigars was transacted, were deserted.
Inside the Longshoreman’s Bar, sailors from faraway lands shared gambling tables with Honolulu’s drug pushers and pimps, each determined to outwit the other. The century-old saloon was well known for attracting a less desirable patronage, as well as a few tourists, who sought to learn whether the establishment was as disreputable as it appeared on television and in movies. It was.
In a far corner, a man of Japanese descent sat with his back to the wall. He was attired in a black sweater and blue jeans and sported a rising sun headband. As he lay his cards on the table, he spoke in broken English and declared his victory.
“Three king, two ace.”
Across the table, a large local man of Samoan descent slammed his cards onto the table with a fierceness that caused the bartender to wonder whether he would destroy the table. It would not be the first table to go, if he did.
“You cheated!” the Hawaiian exploded. “There’s no way you could have three kings. I have two.”
“See! See!” the Japanese replied as he passed his cards to the Hawaiian.
He reached to the center of the table to claim the booty only to have a heavy arm come down on his hands. He looked at the Hawaiian; however, before he could react, a single gunshot rang out.
For a moment the room was absolutely quiet. Then, all of a sudden, chairs tumbled as their occupants knocked them over as they ran toward the front and back doors and disappeared into the night. The third and fourth men at the card table grabbed the money and bolted out the back door. They jumped into a white 1970 Ford Falcon and sent it careening out of the parking lot behind the Wo Fat Building and into Maunakea Street.
At the same time, the bartender called the Honolulu Police Department. The few remaining guests seemed to be talking at once. What had happened? Where had the shot originated? Who had fired it? Why had he fired it?
A man who had not fled crept slowly toward the card table. Even his inexpert eye could tell that the Japanese was dead. The full house the Japanese had presented was still laid out, the dead man's head touching the king of spades. The man turned toward the Hawaiian, who remained fixed in his chair, unable or unwilling to move, staring but not seeing. The man looked for signs of injury, but found none.
“Kimo?” he asked. “Are you alright?”
He received no answer.
“Where does it hurt, Kimo?” he then asked.
Still, he received no answer.
In the background, the sound of the sirens of approaching police cars could be heard. Soon, their flashing lights were shining through the front windows of the establishment.
Two patrolmen from the Honolulu Police Department entered the Longshoreman's Bar and approached the bartender.
“You report a shooting?” asked the older of the two.
In reply, the bartender nodded in the direction of the table where the Japanese and the Hawaiian had been playing cards. The older officer walked over to the table and confirmed that the Japanese was dead. Then, walking around the table, he checked the Hawaiian. He was alive, yet he did not appear to be conscious.
Before he could do more, two HPD detectives entered. One nodded to the bartender as he walked over to the table.
“That one’s dead, Lieutenant,” the senior patrolman said. “This one appears to be in shock.”
“Call for an ambulance,” the detective lieutenant said in reply. He carefully raised the upper body of the dead man from the table and saw that the rising sun on his headband was stained by a single drop of blood. Turning to his partner, he said, "Call Five-0."
“Do you think this is an international incident?” asked the junior patrolman. His demeanor reflected both excitement and fear at the prospect that he had responded to something more serious than a Saturday night fight on Hotel Street.
The lieutenant nodded but said no more as he turned his attention to the Hawaiian. He searched his person, the table in front of him, the chair on which he sat, and the floor around him but found no evidence of either an injury or the weapon that might have killed the Japanese.
Meanwhile, the junior detective placed the call to the Hawai‘i State Police, Department of Criminal Investigations. Affectionately known as Five-0, the department handled crimes that extended beyond the boundaries of local law enforcement. In that capacity, they often worked with both local and national agencies. The only problem, if it was one, was that their chief investigator had little patience with the local agencies and thoroughly disliked the national ones.
That chief investigator was Stephen J. McGarrett, a graduate of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and a commander in the Naval Reserve forces, a man who had seen intelligence work from the perspectives of both wartime and peacetime. During the war, he had worked as a reconnaissance photographer, tracking enemy movement in the Pacific theater. After the war, he had worked as an investigator of criminal conspiracy within the Navy, putting away men, who sought to turn their military service to their own advantage. A dozen years earlier, the Governor of Hawai‘i had tapped McGarrett to lead Five-0. It was a duty he took seriously. As a result, more than one of the men he had arrested through the years had come out of prison with a deep-seated desire to take revenge.
The street-side door of the Longshoreman’s Bar opened, and the tall, imposing chief investigator stepped inside. He stood in place and surveyed the crime scene. Bar to his right, vacant except for the bartender, who stood behind it. Forty feet back : Back wall containing three doors, two marked as restrooms, the third unmarked. Solid wall, no windows or doors, to his left. Overhead, an old tin-tile ceiling with too few lights to properly illuminate the space; no access to the roof or an attic, if there was one.
The deceased sat at a table in the far left corner and faced in McGarrett’s direction. Assuming Che Fong confirmed the angle of the bullet, it seemed likely that it came from the approximate place where he now stood. Unless it came from beyond. Turning, McGarrett looked to see what stood along the same path, across from the Longshoreman’s Bar. He saw nothing that offered promise of being a vantage point. He also saw no evidence of a bullet having passed from outside to inside. The glass in the doors and windows was intact. Unless the gunman had fired through the doorway while the doors were being held open, he had fired from within the saloon. But Che would confirm or deny that theory, too.
"Good evening, Yoshi," McGarrett greeted Officer Matsuda as he walked into the bar.
"You called Five-0. What made you think this was more than a brawl about someone cheating on cards?"
“I called you, McGarrett,” offered the junior detective.
“Okay, then. Why did you call?” asked the top cop.
"It was the M.O. of the killing.” When he saw Steve frowning, he added, “The man is wearing a headband with a rising sun and was killed by a single shot to the forehead. The bullet hit him right through the sun emblem. This is the fourth victim that was killed this way within as many weeks, so the lieutenant decided we'd better call Five-0."
“You did the right thing.” Turning, he walked to the card table, where Dr. Bergman, the medical examiner, was making a quick, preliminary check of the dead man's body.
"Whaddaya got, Doc?"
"The deceased gives evidence of a clean bullet wound to the forehead. It follows a pattern that is identical to those seen in the victims of three other shootings."
"Okay, Doc, but..."
"That’s all I can tell you, now, Steve, but I’ll see that you get a full report as soon as possible," Doc hastened to say. He hoped to avert an all-too-familiar barrage of questions and criticisms from the chief investigator.
Bergman moved around the table and began examining the Hawaiian, whose body remained erect and fixed in its seat. He felt for a pulse. He found one, but it was weak. He checked the man’s eyes and found them to be fixed but not dilated.
“This man’s in shock,” he said to no one in particular. Reaching for his radio, he called for an ambulance. With the assistance of a patrolman, he lay the man on the floor and elevated his feet to improve circulation to his brain. The other officer brought a tank of oxygen from his patrol car; Doc administered it to the victim.
“What caused him to react like this, Dr. Bergman?” asked the junior patrolman?
Severe emotional shock can be caused by witnessing something he thought terrifying.
“Perhaps, he saw the bullet enter the other man’s skull.”
“That would do it for me,” offered the junior detective.
Doc nodded and looked around at Steve, who was looking from the door to the table and back again.
“Can you tell me what angle the bullet hit the deceased, Doc?” Steve asked.
“Not until I get him on the table, Steve.”
“Somebody with a gun had to have been somewhere in this room, yet no one seems to have seen or heard anything until this man fell onto the table. It doesn’t make sense! Now, you’re telling me that man is in a state of shock…”
When Doc failed to respond, McGarrett turned on his heel and strode toward the doorway.
“Check the second man for needle marks or other evidence that this catatonic trance was induced, Doc.”
“Don’t I always?” Bergman replied to the door that was swinging shut behind the detective.
- - - - -
The chief investigator drove to the ‘Iolani Palace, where the Five-0 offices were located. Before alighting from his car, he looked at his watch. It read 6:45, but there was no hint of a glorious Hawaiian sunset. Instead, the pouring rain continued to fall. Giving a sigh of resignation, he opened the door of his car, quickly alit, and bolted across the pavement and up the steps before the palace. From there, he cut through the grand hall and bounded up the koa-wood staircase, taking two steps at a time. Moments later, he entered his office.
Detective Chin Ho Kelly was still on Maui in connection with another case, and so, his cubicle was empty. Detectives Kono Kalakaua and Dan Williams were speaking on their respective telephones. Secretary Jenny Sherman was in the adjoining supply room, making photocopies. Steve nodded as she looked around to see who was passing by, then stepped into his office. He shrugged out of his raincoat and hung it upon the coat rack beside his desk as he studied the blackboard that stood in the middle of the room. Upon it were listed the main facts about the first three men who had been shot through their rising sun headbands.
Steve drew a long, vertical line after the third victim’s list and wrote at the top of the newly formed column: #4. Then, he copied the information that he previously had entered for the first three victims. As he wrote, he heard his office door open.
A familiar voice asked, "Steve, I just heard. Do you think we have a serial killer?"
Steve glanced over his shoulder to Danno. Then he gave a tire nod toward the blackboard. "It looks that way, Danno, but let's not jump to conclusions. Perhaps someone wants us to think that. No matter. We'll figure it out. It's all here in front of us.”
“We just need to look at what's here, not at what someone else wants us to see!"
The office door opened, and two sets of footsteps announced the arrival of Kono and a man who weighed much less. Steve maintained his focus on the blackboard, while Danno smiled inwardly.
"Okay, Boss. Here's what the bartender told me. The Hawaiian visits the Longshoreman almost every day, but the Japanese had never been there until today," Kono announced as he flipped through his notebook.
"It looks like the poker game was an impromptu one, Steve," Duke added.
Steve turned toward the detectives. "Yeah, an impromptu game, but they were no international pro gamblers. This has all the markings of a set up!"
"A set-up? But why stage it in a public place? It doesn't make sense," Danno argued.
"Or does it?" Steve disagreed. “Look at it this way: You’ve been hired to kill Duke. You know he plays cards at the Longshoreman almost every night after he leaves his jiu jitsu studio in the next block. So, what do you do? You walk in, act nonchalant, and when you know Duke is distracted, you place one well-aimed bullet through his forehead.”
Duke spoke up. “Uh, Steve, could you use hypothetical characters in that scenario?”
“Sorry, Duke. Just making a point.”
“Do you know who the victim is? Does he have a jiu jitsu studio?” Kono asked.
“This is all hypothesis, Kono. Go and call the lab and see if Che has been able to ID the dead man from his fingerprints. We need something to go on.”
- - - - -
The following day . . .
An elderly man sat behind a long desk. Light reflecting off the ceiling made the dark cherry wood finish gleam. From outside came the sounds of birds chirping and an ocean breeze. The peaceful sounds were interrupted by the buzz from the intercom.
Picking up the receiver gingerly, the man said, "Yes, Miss Baker?"
"Mr. Nogami is here," his secretary responded.
"Thank you. Please send him in." The man replaced the receiver and watched as a young Japanese man in a clean and pressed gray suit entered, carrying a small briefcase. Setting the briefcase on the floor before the desk, Nogami bowed. The man behind the desk arose.
"The mission was completed successfully, Hikaru-san," Nogami said.
"Thank you, Nogami," Hikaru said. He returned Nogami’s bow. When he straightened, he said, "You may have a seat."
When the men were seated, Hikaru picked up the briefcase and opened it. Within it was an array of rare and old stamps from Japan. All dated to the nineteenth century. All were encased in small plastic trays, which rested on black felt linings. Hikaru picked up each tray and examined the stamps inside.
Nogami told him, "The stamps were in Matsuo's room. The collection is intact, except for three stamps."
Hikaru looked up from the stamps and upon Nogami. "Where are they?" he asked as an edge of disapproval tinged his voice and his facial expression.
"I searched Matsuo's room, and they were not there. We are still trying to find them. He may have left them with someone."
"Make sure you find them as soon as possible. We need every stamp in order to proceed."
Hikaru opened one of the trays and took out a stamp with a pair of tweezers. Holding it up to the light, he looked at it from the blank side. There appeared through its transparency a design that ensured the authenticity of the stamp.
- - - - -
Dan Williams walked into Steve McGarrett’s office. Even before he reached the chief investigator’s desk, he began to speak. "Steve, the deceased man has been identified as Jiro Matsuo. He works as a fisherman for the South Pacific Long Shore Company.”
“Ah, so!” Steve replied.
Dan continued, "He lived in a room a few blocks from the harbor. Immigration says he came to Hawai‘i from Japan two years ago, but there are no records of any activities here until six months ago, when he started working for South Pacific."
"It looks like our fisherman might have had other skills," Steve said as he finish his coffee. He set the mug down on his desk and picked up a file folder. "Doc has completed the autopsy on Jiro. The gunshot to the head was the obvious cause of death." The chief investigator read further down the report, then said, "but he had some interesting tattoos on his body.”
“What kind of tattoos, Steve?”
“The type that indicate he was a member of the Japanese mafia."
Danno's ocean-blue eyes opened wide in terror at the mention of the Yakuza.
Of all the organized crime families Five-0 had encountered, the Japanese were the most vicious and the most inconspicuous – until now. The Yakuza were notorious for their strict codes of conduct and tight organization. That one of their members would be gunned down would give them cause for revenge, revenge they would exact in the most gruesome of ways.
“The Yakuza are as upsetting to me as they are to you, Danno, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Most Yakuza members rarely wear tattoos, yet Matsuo had a half-dozen.”
“Maybe he didn’t get the memo,” Danno quipped.
Steve ignored him and said, “Still, this does give us a good lead. Let's check out his place. Then, we’ll go and talk to the people at the South Pacific Long Shore Company.”
“Chin and Kono are already out, questioning the people at Matsuo’s job.”
Steve and Danno rushed through the office, down the koa-wood staircase, and out into the parking lot in front of the ‘Iolani Palace. Claiming Steve's black Mercury Park Lane, they sped away with tires screeching as a group of tourists watched them in awe.
Jiro Matsuo's room was sparsely furnished and bleak. The walls were covered in a coat of beige paint made dingy and dark by the sea air. The room contained a bed, nightstand, dresser, desk, and chair. Lamps stood on the nightstand and desk. Random shirts and khaki slacks hung on hangers in a closet. The bathroom was clean; the only items of Matsuo's within it were a toothbrush, toothpaste tube, comb, and a bar of soap in a soap dish.
Steve opened the dresser drawers and carefully looked through items he found, including more clothes and a leather box. The box contained photographs (all black and white) of various people; all were Japanese. The women wore kimonos, the men western suits and ties. Sheer joy shone upon children’s faces. Steve showed the photographs to Danno.
“Isn’t that a very young Matsuo with those children?” asked the younger detective.
“Yeah,” Steve replied.
“As carefree as they look, how did one of them end up being shot dead in bar on Hotel Street in Honolulu?” Danny asked.
Steve did not reply. His attention had turned to other items in the leather box. A brass key was engraved with the number 187. A jade trinket bore a Japanese character engraved in gold. A handful of Japanese coins lay on the bottom of the box.
Steve handed the box to Danno and said, "See what Che can do with these.” Then, he asked, "Did you find anything?"
"Just this." Danno showed him a business card:
"Shenso Industries?" Steve said, examining the card. As if thinking aloud, he murmured, "They're all about manufacturing and shipping. Unless they ship seafood now, what would a fisherman have to do with them?"
"If Matsuo was from the Yakuza, it could be anything," Danno said.
- - - - -
Strange odors penetrated Kimo Kalani's nostrils, causing him to stir in his bed. He opened his eyes and realized he must be in a hospital. He had no idea why he was there or how he had gotten there. He only knew that his head felt twice its normal size and hurt. He tried to remember what had happened, although he was not sure what was real and what was not. And then, all of a sudden, his memory returned, hitting him like a bolt of lightning.
He had been playing poker in the Longshoreman's Bar, and the Japanese had tried to cheat. He had pinned the man's hands down with his arm to keep him from taking the money… A shot had rung out… Yes! The Japanese had collapsed onto the table!
Kalani remembered turning around and looking around the room. Amidst the patrons fleeing the scene, someone had paused – just for a moment – and looked in Kimo’s direction. For a split second, their eyes had met. And, then, just as quickly as the other patrons had left, that man had left. Who was he? Why had he been staring at him? Kalani could not remember anything about the man, but the look he had given him… Kalani knew he would never forget that look or how it had made him feel. He had felt as if red hot needles had gone through him. Kalani began to shiver uncontrollably.
The murderer! That must have been the murderer! I must get out of here! He'll come back for me!
Kalani threw back the bed covers and climbed slowly out of bed. He swayed upon rising and had to stop to allow his head to clear. When his sense of balance returned, he stumbled to the closet, got his clothes, and put them on. The rush of adrenaline produced by his sense of panic helped to steady him.
Carefully he opened the door to the corridor and peeked out. Good! The floor was deserted. He could see the nurses far away working over a medication cart. Stepping out, he hurried to the elevators and pressed the call button. To his surprise, the doors opened immediately. He stepped into it and pressed the button that would take him to the ground floor. There, Kalani stepped out cautiously. The ground floor was crowded, and there was a lot of noise and commotion as people moved about. In the confusion of it all, Kalani was able to leave unnoticed.
- - - - -
The telephone on Jenny Sherman's desk rang. Five-0's seasoned secretary took the receiver and said, "Hawaii Five-0. How may I help you?"
"Jen? Kimo Akama, HPD. May I speak to McGarrett please?"
"I'm sorry, Kimo. Steve is not in. Can I take a message?"
"Yes. Please tell him that Kimo Kalani, the patient who was involved in the Longshoreman's Bar killing last night, has disappeared from the hospital."
- - - - -
The search for the missing Kimo Kalani was not an easy one. Even though he had a history of visiting The Longshoreman’s Bar every day after work, no one seemed to know anything else about him. The detectives had been unable to learn where he lived or worked or even who his family and friends were. It seemed to Det. Kono Kalakaua as though Kimo Kalani lived on another planet, except when he stopped in at The Longshoreman each evening.
Kono’s temper showed through his usually restrained façade as he spoke to another regular at The Longshoreman. “So, he just appears and disappears like maybe he’s a hologram? You really ‘spect me to believe that, brah?”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Mr. Kalākaua.”
The speaker pronounced the name Kah-LAH-kah-wah, as it had been pronounced by King David, the first king of Hawai‘i after the last of the Kamehamehas had passed away. The correct pronunciation was not lost on Kono, although it did not cause his eyebrows to rise. He knew Moki Aleno had taught Hawaiian culture at the university before alcoholism had cost him his professorship, his wife, his children, and his home. How many times had Kono wished he could persuade Moki to turn away from alcohol, but of course, he could not.
Aleno continued, “Kimo comes in just after five o’clock, which is when he closes the news stand.”
“The news stand?” Kono asked.
“Where he works. It’s just up the street. He sits at the bar and drinks a jigger of whiskey, no more. He goes to the back room and plays pool – snooker, they call it here, since the guy who runs the room’s a Brit. If Kimo wins, he comes out and joins a game of poker. If not, he goes out the back way without coming through here. It’s the same way every night.”
“But he does work at the news stand?” Kono asked.
“That’s where I’ve seen him. I assume he works there.”
“I’ll check it out. Mahalo, brah.”
“But Kimo didn’t shoot the Yakuza.”
“How do you know he was Yakuza?” Kimo wanted to know.
“He had the look. I saw it when I was in Japan a dozen or more years ago. The man who took the bullet was Yakuza, and Kimo did not shoot him. He was too busy defending the ante.”
“Do you know where the shot originated?”
“No. I didn’t hear a sound. Maybe the shot came from another room. Maybe the gun had a… What do you call the muzzle they put on guns?”
“Silencer?” Kono asked.
“Yeah. Maybe it had a silencer. All I know is the Yakuza fell on his face on the table, and it got away with Kimo so bad that he went into shock.”
“Okay, then, Moki. I appreciate it.”
“Hope you catch him. No one’s gonna feel safe around here until you do.”
“We’ll get him, Moki. You can count on that.”
“Is Kimo still in the hospital?”
“The doctor said it would be a few days,” Kono replied without revealing the facts that Kimo had left the hospital and that his whereabouts were unknown.
Taking his leave from The Longshoreman, Kono walked a half-block to the news stand. It was run by old Joe Acona and had been for more years than most people could remember.
“Is that you, Kono?” Joe asked as Kono entered the small shop.
“Yes, Mr. Acona. I need some information.”
“You ask. I answer.”
“Does Kimo Kalani work for you?”
“He does, except that he hasn’t come the past two days. I don’t know where he is. It’s not like him just to take off without saying something.”
“Kimo’s been in the hospital, Mr. Acona.”
“The hospital? He’s not sick, is he?”
“He witnessed the shooting at The Longshoreman the other night and was badly shocked by what he saw. The doctors want to keep an eye on him for a while.”
“That is best. Kimo is not a strong man, Kono, not since the war. In World War I, we had the mustard gas. In Vietnam, they had the Napalm. I think that’s what hurt him. Something did. So, I let him work for me.”
“That’s good of you. Do you know where he lives?”
“Kimo lives here, in the back room. He has a cot. I put in a mini-fridge for him. I let him come upstairs, where I live, to warm up his soup and TV dinners.”
“But he hasn’t been here for two or three days?”
“Not for two or three days,” Acona affirmed.
After thanking the elderly man, Kono returned to the palace to report his findings.
- - - - -
When Kono entered Steve's office, Steve and Danny had just returned from the South Pacific Longshore Company. Before he could utter a single word, the door opened and Chin entered carrying a bag with take-out meals from his uncle's restaurant. All of a sudden, the detectives realized how hungry they were. It had been a busy day that had produced only meager results. For a few minutes, they ate in silence.
Suddenly, Steve flung down his chopsticks and set down his bowl of saimin so hard that some of it spilled. Even as he stood up, his fist came down on his desk, and he exploded, "Why didn't I think of an alternative?"
Danny, Chin and Kono stopped eating and stared at him questioningly.
"When Doc explained that shock can occur when someone is witnessing something frightening, a patrolman suggested that Kalani saw the bullet enter Matsuo’s skull. But, If that is what triggered the shock, why would Kalani escape from the hospital and disappear?"
"He was afraid," Danny answered.
"Right, Danno, but what was he afraid of?"
"Probably not what but whom," Chin mused.
"The murderer!” Kono exclaimed as he stood before Steve’s desk with a pair of chopsticks poised over a bowl of saimin. “That means, Kimo must have seen who shot Matsuo!"
“And that means Matsuo was hit from behind. But was he? We need Doc’s report.”
“I’ll call over and see what Doc can tell us, Steve,” Chin offered.
“Good, Chin. Good!” Steve snapped his fingers as he paced behind his desk. After a moment, he said, "If I had thought of that possibility before, I would have had the HPD send someone to stand guard in front of Kalani's hospital room." The anger and frustration in Steve's voice were unmistakable.
"Figures," Kono muttered.
"What do you mean, Kono?" Steve asked.
"Joe Acona, the man Kalani is working for, told me Kalani is not a strong man. He thinks he was hurt in Vietnam. Joe lets Kalani live in a back room, but he hasn't been in for two or three days. If Kalani fears the murderer will come after him, he won't go home, but hide somewhere."
"Put out an APB on him, Kono. We've got to find him!"
As Kono left the room, he glanced longingly at his unfinished meal, causing Danno to grin as he witnessed his colleague’s salivating departure. Before he could tease his colleague about his insatiable appetite, Chin hung up the telephone and spoke.
“Doc said the bullet definitely struck Matsuo from behind, Steve. Your theory is right!”
“Good! Good!” Steve exclaimed. “Now that we know how it happened, we need to find out why it happened.”
"What did you learn at the South Pacific Longshore Company, Boss?" Chin inquired.
Seeing that Steve was still lost in thought about Matsuo, Danno spoke. “Not a lot, but we did confirm that the company catches, processes, and ships seafood. We also learned that the chairman of the board of directors is a man by the name of Hikaru. Toshio Hikaru. He’s a venerable Japanese gentleman, who immigrated to Hawai‘i after the war.”
“Or so he says,” Steve interjected. “Something didn’t ring quite true, and I’m not sure what it was.”
“Just what did they say?” Kono wanted to know. It seemed to him that both Danno and Steve were being vague in their recollections of the meeting.
“They said Matsuo was a model employee, nothing more than what they told you,” Steve replied.
“I thought they would open up more if Steve spoke to them,” Chin added, “yet, no one seemed to know anything that could shed light on why he was shot. They went on about what a great worker he was, always on time, never had trouble with anyone, etc.” Chin reported as he read from his notebook.
“That’s the perfect cover for a criminal,” Steve said. “Make everyone think you’re perfect and reliable, then quietly show your true colors somewhere else.” He picked up his coffee cup and took a short sip; then, setting the cup down, he picked up the statements that Chin had taken from the employees and looked through them. They were all the same – too much the same. As he returned the statements to his desk, Steve rubbed his forehead and said, “The Yakuza are very efficient and organized and very good businessmen. If we are to learn how they are involved in this case, we are going to have to dig deeper.” Taking up the statements yet again, he handed them to Chin and said, “Check out Matsuo’s co-workers and his bosses. Have Det. Nishimura in HPD help you. See if anyone has a connection to organized crime. If you find someone, I want to know about it, even if his only crime here was a parking ticket.”
“Will do, boss,” Chin stated.
“If you need me, I’ll be at the governor’s office. May called and said he wants to see me about our budget.”
“We have one, boss?” Kono asked as he looked in.
Steve gave his detective an unhappy smile but said nothing as he grabbed his coat from the rack beside his desk and donned it. “When I get through with the governor, I’m going to pay a visit to Mr. Hikaru at Shenso Industries.”
- - - - -
Governor Paul Jameson looked up from his paperwork to see the chief of his state police force walk in. Steve looked flustered, and Jameson did not blame him the least.
“Hello, Steve,” he said. “Have a seat, please.”
Steve sat in an armchair upholstered in leather, across from the governor’s desk. Despite the fact that the room had a certain ambience about it, neither man felt at ease.
“Steve, I’ll cut right to the chase,” Jameson began. “There’s been some pressure from the Senate to trim our expenses.”
“Sir…,” Steve started only to be silenced by Jameson’s raised hand.
“I have told them that Five-0 has doing its best to operate with the least cost to the taxpayer. Unfortunately, they are not listening.”
“So we have to cut back even further,” Steve surmised. “I already had to forgo hiring a fifth team member, and we even reduced the junior secretary to part-time. My men are starting to cover the costs for things that the division’s budget should be covering. Just last month, Danno paid for a hotel room for a witness in a case from his own pocket.”
“I know you’ve all been doing what you can to make the financial load easier,” Jameson began, “but the attorney general and even the director of budget and finance think a state police force is a luxury. Given the nature of crime that exists here and how you and your people have kept the crime rate down since you became the head of Five-0, their statements sound ludicrous.”
“They won’t say that for much longer when they see organized crime take over the islands,” Steve replied. “Are they going to close down Five-0?”
“No. They know you and the team are valuable to these islands, but they think they can have their cake and eat it, too. They want the best protection for the least amount of money,” Jameson explained.
“I’ll tell my men to make their own bullets,” Steve said. The jest was only half-true.
“Don’t worry, Steve. We will get through this,” Jameson said. “Find that fisherman’s killer and see to it that the Yakuza doesn’t infest Hawai‘i any further. Then, we might get Five-0 back in the legislature’s financial favor.”
“I’m already on it, sir,” Steve said as he got up to leave.
“Steve, one more thing,” Jameson said. As Steve turned toward him, the governor said, “Tell Danno that I will personally reimburse him for that witness’s hotel bill.”
- - - - -
Toshi Hikaru sipped tea from a small white tea cup and set it down. His refined manners and calm demeanor were no surprise to Steve, who studied the Japanese businessman with suspicion and curiosity.
“Mr. McGarrett,” Hikaru began, “May I start by telling you that it is an honor and a pleasure to meet you. I have heard much about you and your dedication to maintaining law in these islands.”
“Thank you,” McGarrett replied, “and may I return the compliment. Your company has created many jobs for Hawai‘i, and its donations to the children’s hospital and veterans’ homes are very generous. You have saved a great many lives and improved many more.” As Steve spoke, he managed a smile.
“You are most welcome, Mr. McGarrett,” Hikaru said. “Now: How can be of service?”
“Do you know a man named Jiro Matsuo?” Steve asked.
Hikaru thought for a moment, then answered, “No, I do not. I don’t have anyone by that name employed here.”
“He was employed by the South Pacific Long Shore Company, which, I believe, is owned by Shenso.”
“Yes. We do own South Pacific, but I do not know this Jiro Matsuo,” Hikaru said. “May I ask why you need to speak to him?”
“Mr. Matsuo will not be doing much talking, sir,” Steve replied, “because he was shot dead in a bar on Hotel Street yesterday afternoon.”
Hikaru’s calm face took on a look of intense fear and horror. As Steve watched, all color drained from the executive’s face. Hikaru trembled slightly, and his pupils enlarged. “I am most sorry to hear that,” he managed to say. “I assure you, Mr. McGarrett, that I will cooperate with you in every way. Unfortunately, I cannot be of much help, since I never knew this Mr. Matsuo.”
“You can help by telling me why you think he had your business card in his possession,” Steve said as he slid a plastic evidence bag across the executive’s desk.
Hikaru picked it up and saw that the bag contained a business card from Shenso Industries and that his name was imprinted upon it. “I do not know why Mr. Matsuo had my business card in his possession – unless, of course, as a way of knowing the parent company of his own employers,” he told the Five-O chief. “Since I never met Mr. Matsuo, I clearly never gave him my card. Of course, he could have obtained it anywhere.” Slowly, he slid the bag back to Steve. He did not want to return it so quickly as to look like he was in a hurry to get rid of it.
Steve took up the bag and returned it to his jacket pocket. Then, rising, he took out his Five-0 business card and handed to Hikaru. Rising, he said, “If you can remember anything else, please let me know.”
In reply, Hikaru also rose and bowed. “Thank you, Mr. McGarrett,” he said. “I will see what I can find out.”
Steve did not bow, but he did give a nod to the executive and said, “Thank you. I can see myself out.”
As the door closed behind the top cop, Hikaru took out his handkerchief and wiped his forehead. His heart was racing; he could feel that his face was flushed. It was not like him to show his emotions, yet he had laid them out for the policeman, for all the world, to see. After taking a moment to collect himself, he reached for his telephone and depressed a button to summon his secretary.
“Miss Baker,” he said in a voice so calm that it belied his feelings, “have Mr. Nogami come as soon as he can.”
- - - - -
"Kono just called, boss,” announced secretary Jenny Sherman as Steve walked into the office. “It seems that Kimo Kalani has been found. Kono has gone to check it out."
"Thanks, Jenny," Steve replied.
He stopped by the coffee pot and filled his freshly washed mug. He did not add cream or sugar; McGarrett was known for drinking his coffee black and as strong as Jenny could make it. Taking it with him, he walked into his office and closed the door. He set the mug on his desk, slowly peeled off his jacket and hung it on the rack beside his desk. Then, he removed the shoulder holster that held his .38 caliber police special and hung it on the rack, as well. Sometimes, it seemed that the holster and revolver were as heavy as the weight of the world.
Steve felt, at once, frustrated and angry. He was frustrated that the case was not progressing more quickly than it was. He was angry that, for the second time in as many weeks, he was going to have to call the woman he was dating to back out of their plans to have dinner together. Sometimes, Steve wished he’d never entered law enforcement. Sometimes, he wished he had led a conventional life, marrying, becoming a father, and going home at a decent time each night. This was one of those times. Taking the receiver from his telephone, he dialed the number he knew by heart.
As the phone began to ring at the other end, his door opened and Danno looked in.
“Give me just a minute, please, Danno. I’ll be right with you.”
“Sure, Steve,” his partner said even as he backed from the doorway and closed the door behind him.
“Uh oh. I know the signs,” a woman’s voice came over the line. “You have to work tonight.”
“I’m afraid so, Maggie. The longshoreman case is going absolutely nowhere.”
“Well, the truth be known, I need to work late tonight, as well,” she replied. “If I don’t take some time to catch up on my books and inventory, I may as well close the gallery, because I won’t know which pictures I can sell and which are on loan.”
Steve chuckled quietly. “If it’s as bad as that, maybe you should work tonight. Just remember, my works are on loan. I never sell my work.”
“I’ll have to remember that. Otherwise, you won’t take me out, anymore,” she cooed.
Steve kissed her through the telephone. “I’ll call you Saturday about taking a Sunday sail.”
“Good! Hopefully, my gallery and your case will be on much more solid footing by then.”
Steve chuckled as he replaced the receiver upon its cradle. Bless Maggie. She always knew just the right thing to say to make him feel better. They both knew that her gallery was perfectly organized; she knew where every picture hook, invoice, and dollar sign was located, even though she liked to make him think she did not. Best of all, she knew when he needed some tender loving care. Steve knew without asking that, when he picked her up on Sunday, she would have made a slow cooker of his favorite Yankee pot roast made just the way his mother had made it, oh, so many, years ago. It was rare that Steve even had a chance to reminisce like this. He always had his mind on other things and other people.
He remembered Danno waiting at the door and called out to him. “Come in, Danno,” he said.
His second-in-command walked briskly in, holding a sheaf of papers. “Steve, we checked out all of Matsuo’s co-workers,” he said. “None of them had criminal records. At least two had parking tickets, but there was nothing to connect them to Matsuo.” As he handed the papers to Steve, he added, “But Che found something interesting on the items in the leather box that we recovered from Matsuo’s apartment.”
“Tell me, Danno. I’m all ears,” Steve said, perking up with interest.
“No leads on the key, yet, but the box had two sets of fingerprints. The first belonged to Jiro Matsuo. The second set belonged to a notorious yakuza assassin named Akio Nogami.”
Steve’s eyes lit up in recognition. “Nogami…,” he repeated, stunned. He knew all about the Japanese mafia’s famed hatchet man. Although Steve never had met up with Nogami face-to-face, he knew that the man was responsible for several unsolved murders in and around Honolulu. The victims were either low-level yakuza members, who had outlived their usefulness, or witnesses who were supposed to testify against some of the higher-ups. Nogami used a variety of methods to do his work, but there was always the same result – Death!
“Nogami normally would be more careful than to leave his fingerprints,” Steve said.
“Che identified thumb and index fingerprints," Danno said.
“Nogami might have been trying to examine the box and thought he could risk not using gloves,” Steve mused. “Okay, Danno. Did you find anything else?”
“Toshi Hikaru has had a long and successful business career in Japan, as well as in Hawai‘i, and the yakuza has been tied to all of his business endeavors, including Shenso,” Danno reported. “This was confirmed by Interpol and some of our informants.”
“We need solid evidence,” Steve said.
“We might just get it, Steve,” Danno replied. “Det. Nishimura took the photos that were in the leather box to some of the Japanese neighborhoods. One family, the Kenzos, lived in the same town in Japan as Matsuo’s family in the years before World War II. The Kenzos immigrated here sometime in 1940. Mr. and Mrs. Kenzo didn’t know that Jiro was here, since they lost touch with the Matsuos when they left Japan.”
“Where is this leading, Danno?” Steve asked, his impatience brimming.
“The couple recognized some of the people in the pictures. One of them was – get this – Toshi Hikaru’s sister, Midori Hikaru.” Danno leaned forward and looked his boss in the eye as he spoke.
“That seems to connect everyone,” Steve said, “but it does not tell us why these guys were after Matsuo.”
“Maybe, when we trace the key, it will tell us more,” Danno suggested. “Che said the key could be to a locker – not a bus or airport one, but maybe a work or storage locker.”
“Are you checking area storage facilities?” Steve asked.
“Chin and Duke are on it,” Danno replied. “Nishimura and I are going to check out the jade trinket. It was custom made, and it might have been made here.”
“I’d nearly forgotten about the trinket,” Steve said. “Does Che have anything on it?”
“Only that it might have come from a woman’s necklace and that the Japanese character on it is the symbol for the color green in Kanji script.” Danno showed Steve an enlarged photograph of the trinket; it clearly showed the symbol:
“‘Midori’ means ‘green’ in Japanese,” Steve mused. “Maybe there is a stronger connection to Hikaru than we thought.”
- - - - -
On Hotel Street, HPD Officer Andy Kalakaua dismounted from his Harley Davidson. It was his personal bike; he had bought it in rough condition and spent a full five years restoring it. He had put in many extra hours with the department to finance the project. Now, it purred like a kitten and gleamed brightly. Now, too, it bore department-issued lights and siren.
Andy greeted his cousin. "Hi, Kono. Thanks for coming wiki wiki ."
"No problem, Andy. Whaddaya got?" Kono asked.
"I had a call from Matt-the-Hat. He owns the pawn shop farther down the street. He told me that Kalani stumbled into his shop this morning and begged for a place to hide. He seemed to be in very bad shape, so Matt called me. He said he suspects something fishy is going on."
“What kinda something fishy?” Kono wanted to know.
“He said he couldn’t talk about it over the phone. You’ll have to ask him,” Andy replied.
"Okay. Mahalo, brah. I'll check it out."
Five minutes later, Kono stood in front of the small shop. Its name, "Whatever You Need," was painted on the plate glass window beside the front door. The owner, Matt Morris, looked up when he saw Kono enter. A man of medium height, Morris held himself very erect. He was nicknamed Matt-the-Hat for his widely varied assortment of slouch hats; he always wore one to hide a big scar on his bald scalp.
"I'm Kono Kalakaua, Five-0," Kono said, showing his badge and identification card. "Andy Kalakaua informed me that Kimo Kalani was here."
"Was and still is. Poor sucker’s scared to death.”
“Scared? Why?” Kono asked.
“He didn't say, only that he needed a place to hide. We were together in ‘Nam, so I took him in. But, if you want my opinion, something fishy is going on."
Kono did not ask what Matt-the-Hat meant by “something fishy.” Instead, he said, "Thank you, Mr. Morris. I'd like to speak to him."
"Has he made a mess of something?"
"No. I need to talk to him, because his name came up during an investigation. Kimo Kalani hasn't done anything wrong."
Morris led Kono to a small, windowless room. There, on a bed nearly too small for Kalani's big frame, the man lay curled in a ball. When he heard the door open, he looked up. His face paled when he saw that Morris was not alone.
"Thank you, Mr. Morris,” Kono said. “I'd like to speak to Mr. Kalani in private, please."
Morris gave a nod but watched Kimo and Kono as he backed from the room.
After Morris had left, Kono identified himself and said, "You have nothing to fear, Mr. Kalani. I only want to know why you released yourself from hospital." When Kimo did not answer, Kono tried a different approach. "You saw who shot that man in The Longshoreman's Bar, and now, you are afraid that man will come after you. Is that what’s going on, Mr. Kalani?"
"Y… y… yes. Yes, I...I did," Kalani stammered. His voice cracked as he spoke.
"My boss, Steve McGarrett, would like to know what happened at the bar that night, Mr. Kalani. You have nothing to fear. Five-0 can give you protection. Please, accompany me to my office.”
Kalani hesitated. He was not unsure whether it was safe to go with Kono. His uncertainty was whether it was safe to leave his hiding place in Matt-the-Hat’s store.
“I promise you, Mr. Kalani. I will make sure no one hurts you,” Kono said.
Finally, after hearing more encouraging words from Kono, the frightened man agreed to accompany Kono to Five-0 headquarters.
- - - - -
Steve perched on the edge of his desk, arms folded across his chest, and watched Kimo Kalani closely. Kalani sipped coffee from the Styrofoam cup that Kono handed him. His hands shook as he clutched the cup. Despite being in safe hands, Kalani clearly was still afraid. What he had seen had impacted him greatly. Kanai seemed to feel that what he had seen was strong enough to break into ‘Iolani Palace and come after him.
“Mr. Kalani,” Steve said, “I know this was upsetting to you, but we need to know what you saw and heard at the bar. It could mean saving other lives.” It was a long shot, since Steve didn’t know if anyone else could be in danger, but he hoped that an appeal to Kalani’s conscience would persuade him to talk. Kalani looked up from the coffee cup and stared at the police chief with scared black eyes.
“Jiro was shot, Mr. McGarrett. I saw the bullet hit him in the middle of his forehead. He fell dead. He was cheating. Had three kings. I had two. I wouldn’t let him collect the money. I stopped him, slammed my arm over his hands. Jiro looked at me, then he fell over. He was dead!” Kalani stared out into space, looking at something that only he could see. He was replaying the event in his mind, over and over, and it came out the same each time. He could still see the red dot of blood forming in the center of Jiro’s forehead, in the middle of the headband he wore, in the middle of the Rising Sun.
Steve arose from the desk and bent down. Putting his hands on his knees, he leaned towards Kalani and asked, “Do you know or have heard of a man named Toshi Hikaru?”
Kalani shook his head. “No. I never heard of him.”
Kono spoke up. “Did Jiro ever mention the yakuza?”
The mention of the name for the Japanese mafia made Kalani’s ears burn. His head spun towards Kono. “The yakuza?” he asked. “They killers. They killed Jiro! They killed him!”
Steve put his hands on the distraught man’s shoulders. “Easy, Kalani. Easy. Nothing will happen to you. No one will harm you. I guarantee that. Please tell me what you know about the yakuza. Did Jiro mention them?”
Kalani nodded his head furiously. “Jiro was one of them, Mr. McGarrett. He had the tattoos. He was a hit man for them. He killed someone…” Kalani trailed off.
“Who, Kalani? Whom did he kill?” Steve pressed on, urgently.
“I don’t know, Mr. McGarrett!” Kalani wailed. He started to crumble, then cowered like a scared child.
“But you do know that he killed somebody?” Steve asked. “He wouldn’t just tell you that he killed somebody and leave it at that.”
“He didn’t tell me. I heard it,” Kalani said. “He killed a man. I don’t know who. A man from the Philippines. That man was coming here a few weeks ago. He had a briefcase. That is all I know. I heard people on the dock talking about it.”
Steve nodded in understanding, then looked at Kono and gave another nod. “Alright,” he told Kalani as he looked back at him. “Kono is going to take you to a safe house, a place where you will be protected and won’t need to worry.” He nodded to Kono, who took Kalani by the arm and guided him to his feet.
“This way, bruddah,” he said.
As the men walked from his office, Steve rubbed his forehead as he pondered the words he had just heard. Giving a sigh, he arose and walked to French doors behind his desk. Leaning against the jamb, he stared out at the busy street, South King Street, which ran in front of the palace. People were walking about – tourists taking pictures of the building, clamoring to be in the snapshots; tour buses cruising by; kids riding on bicycles; businessmen taking a noontime stroll; and women with their huge straw shopping bags, walking home from the market. It was life as usual for them. For McGarrett and the rest of the police force, there was something sinister beneath all that gaiety. There was murder, robbery, kidnapping, drugs, debauchery, and insanity, among other maladies. It seemed as though it would never end, and it would not end, all at once. Instead, the law enforcement officers had to chip away at it, moving toward the end, one offender at a time.
The top cop’s reverie was interrupted by a knock on the office door.
“Hey, Steve,” said his second-in-command as he walked in.
“What say you, Danno?” Steve asked, smiling at the younger detective.
“We traced that key from Matsuo’s room. It belongs to an apartment building on Alakea Street.”
“Let’s check it out,” Steve replied, even as he stepped around his desk and began striding toward the door.
- - - - -
Even as McGarrett and Williams were making their way through traffic, Chin Ho Kelly was on Hotel Street. He had waked that morning with a melody running through his mind. Initially, he had been unable to remember where he had heard it. He knew only that the melody had certain traits of a sea chanty.
Now, he knew where he had heard it. A thoroughly drunken sailor, seated at the far end of the bar, at The Longshoreman’s Bar, had been singing it when Chin had tried to interrogate him on the night of the shooting. The sailor had had a thick Irish brogue and red hair. More to the point, the words had been a recounting of what had happened that night.
I heaved me bones upon this stone
And ordered up me first straight cup
And as I watched hands on the clock
A lad in black climbed up the rack.
He took his place amidst the case
Of whiskey fine, of ales divine
He drew a gun with nerves of Hun
Took aim and squeezed one round with ease.
Now, Chin studied the layout of the bar with renewed appreciation for what he saw. Sure enough, a ladder affixed to the back wall gave access to a loft. There were stored cases of liquor. A man easily could climb up without attracting more than a little attention. One would think he was simply going up for more whiskey or wine or beer to serve at the bar. He easily could crouch behind the cases, squeeze off a round, and hide or even descend and disappear while all eyes were turned toward the man with the bullet hole in his headband.
Chin climbed the ladder to the loft and took a look around. Sure enough, on the floor behind two cases of Irish ale lay a spent shell casing. Reaching for the microphone of the CP unit on his shoulder, Chin spoke. “Central, put me through to McGarrett.”
The reply put the ball firmly in Chin’s court. “We can’t raise him, Mr. Kelly.”
“Then, get me Che Fong in the lab.”
“Right away, Mr. Kelly.”
While Chin waited for the lab crew, he picked up on another detail: how the gunman had disappeared without being seen. A row of barred windows spanned the outside wall. One of those windows was a fire exit. The fire exit was open! Steve was going to be furious that no one had picked up on these details during the initial investigation.
- - - - -
The black Mercury pulled up before the old, rundown apartment house on Alakea Street. Like so many others built to accommodate men who worked at Honolulu Harbor, it now was little more than a tenement, an eyesore in downtown Honolulu. Even the people who lived there said the place should be torn down. Soon, it would be torn down, and when it was, it would be replaced by just one of many high-rise office buildings that were coming to blight the Hawaiian landscape in a way that not even a tenement could.
As McGarrett and Williams approached the building, they saw that ground-floor apartments had two-digit numbers. Accordingly, they made their way to the second floor of the two-storey structure by way of a rickety set of stairs, which were being eaten away as much by termites as by the harsh sunlight and the sea salt, which permeated the air. Upon reaching the upper landing, they made their way to apartment number 187, the number that was imprinted upon the key, which the detectives had found in Jiro Matsuda’s apartment.
That key easily turned in the lock to open an apartment that had been rented by the man from the Philippines, the man who had been killed by Jiro Matsuo. It was a plain and simply furnished apartment. The only bed was a studio couch, which was covered in gray and dingy bed linens. There were no curtains or blinds or even shades upon the windows, which overlooked the street. Privacy was provided by the frosted glass in the jalousie windows.
The kitchen comprised no more than an antiquated refrigerator and a hot plate (an electric fire, Danno had heard it called) on which to cook. Two plates, two bowls, and two cups stood on a drying rack, waiting to be put away upon a shelf. There was no sink; the Philippino would have washed the dishes in the lavatory in the bathroom. The bathroom was no prize, either. As old as the building, itself, its fixtures were stained with rust. Water dripped from the faucet at the lavatory. There was no bathtub, only a shower stall so tiny that it seemed incapable of accommodating many adults. The commode was stained even more severely than the lavatory and leaked, causing the floor around it to be wet.
Kimo Kalani had mentioned that the Philippino had a briefcase, yet it was nowhere to be found. Nor was anything else, except for two shirts and a single pair of pants, which hung in a curtain-draped closet, and two sets of underclothing, which lay in a drawer. Oddly, not even a suitcase was to be found. Was it possible that the Philippino had brought his clothes in the briefcase? Steve and Danno did not think so.
“It looks like Jiro took the briefcase when he killed this man, Danno,” Steve said.
“The briefcase and anything else that might have held interest or value,” Danno agreed.
“I’ll call Che to send the lab boys over. Maybe we’ll be lucky and pick up some fingerprints,” Steve said as he took up the receiver from a wall telephone and listened for a dial tone. He heard one and began to dial. “Che, McGarrett. I need you to send the lab boys to an apartment…”
The forensic scientist interrupted Steve. “Steve, the lab team is at the Longshoreman’s Bar. Chin uncovered evidence that was somehow overlooked when we conducted our original investigation.”
“Overlooked? How did that happen?”
“No one thought to climb up, into the loft, yet Chin found a spent shell there, as well as a way for the gunman to escape.”
“Then, that answers that question. Maybe, when you check for fingerprints, we’ll know who our gunman was,” Steve replied.
“I’ll call Moki Ohana at the HPD and see if they can send their lab team to the apartment you’re talking about. Otherwise, it’s likely to be several hours before my team can get there.”
Good, Che,” Steve allowed. He gave Che the address of the Philippino’s apartment, then hung up. Turning to Danno, he said, “You stay here and wait for the lab boys. I’ve got to see a man about an airline ticket from Lingayen.”
"Lingayen? Why do you think this man came from Lingayen?"
In reply, Steve held up a newspaper, which he had noticed laying on a table. Imprinted across its banner was the name "Lingayen Register."
- - - - -
Unknown to either detective, the man called Nogami was sitting in a car a block away and watching through a pair of binoculars. First, the older detectives, the one they called McGarrett, had left the apartment and driven away. That left one behind. And, then, two HPD cruisers had arrived with a van bearing the logo of the City and County of Honolulu on its front doors and the name of its department on the side:
Honolulu Police Department
Forensics & Pathology Division
The bees were gathering. Eventually, the police would discover the purpose of Hernandez’s visit to Hawai‘i. Hernandez: That was the name of the Philippino. Nogami was concerned. Why were the police here? Had they found the three missing stamps? More to the point, had they found them here, in this ramshackle excuse of a dwelling? If so, where? He, Nogami, had left no corner unturned in his own search for the priceless postal tax certificates, which is what stamps were when one got down to it. Had the stamps ever been in Hernandez’s possession, at all? Nogami still had as many unanswered questions as the detectives, and he was as determined to find the answers to those questions – no matter what cost.
- - - - -
Yet another day had passed in the investigation when forensic scientist Che Fong entered the Five-0 offices. In the same instant, Duke Lukela tore a message from the Telex machine. Both made a bee line to Steve McGarrett’s office.
“Steve, we’ve heard back from Interpol regarding the fingerprints the HPD lab lifted at the apartment on Alakea Street,” Duke said.
“And I’ve heard from Interpol about the fingerprints my lab lifted from the loft at the Longshoreman’s Bar,” Che added.
“Well, by all means, gentlemen, give!” Steve replied as he looked from the detective to the forensic scientist and back again.
Duke looked at Che to see if he would speak first. Che looked at Duke to see if he would.
“You go first, Che,” Steve commanded.
Che paraphrased the contents on the Telex message he held, a message that had arrived in the Forensics lab only minutes earlier. “Besides prints of the barkeep and delivery men, one other distinct set of prints was isolated. According to Interpol, they belong to a gunman for hire, a man from Japan, who has known affiliation with the Yakuza. His name is Nagamo.”
“That’s one of the names Interpol sent to us, Steve,” Duke said. “Besides prints belonging to the landlord and cleaning lady…”
“They have a cleaning lady at that dump, Duke?” Steve asked.
“There’s cleaning, and then there’s cleaning, Steve,” Duke replied.
“That is true. Go ahead, Duke.”
“Two other sets of prints were identified. The first belongs to the Yakuza, Nagamo. The second set belongs to a man by the name of Juan Hernandez, whose known address is Lingayen in The Philippines.”
“Ah, so!” Steve exclaimed.
“There’s more, Steve,” Duke said. “According to Interpol, Hernandez is a courier for hire.”
“And I’ll bet he was carrying collectible postage stamps,” Steve said.
“Steve,” Che spoke up, “the inherent value of the three stamps you recovered from Jiro Matsuo’s apartment is nil! They are common, every day, ordinary postage stamps.”
“Then, there’s something else about them. Go over them with a fine-tooth comb, Che. Look for hidden messages, invisible ink, and anything else you can think to look for. There is something about those stamps! I want to know what that is.”
“Will do, Steve.”
Steve reached for his telephone and buzzed the local line. “Jenny, are Chin, Kono, and Danno here?”
“Please, send them in.”
“Che, before you go…,” Steve said even as his detectives walked into his office.
“Sure, Steve,” Che replied.
“I can’t get my thoughts off those postage stamps. You say they are worth virtually nothing.”
“They are currently used, standard-issue postage stamps,” Che affirmed.
“Then, why was the Philippino… What was his name, Hernandez? Why was Hernandez holding onto them? Take another look at them, Che. There has to be something about those postage stamps that would explain what this case is all about.”
“Okay, Steve. I’ll get on it just as soon as I get back to the lab,” the forensic scientist replied.
“Thanks, Che.” As Che departed, Steve looked at his detectives. “We now know who two of our suspects are. The Philippine man, who lived on Alakea Street, was Juan Hernandez. He came here from Lingayen, The Philippines. According to Interpol, he was a courier for hire. My guess is that he was transporting postage stamps and that the cache is much larger than the three stamps we found in Jiro Matsuo’s apartment. What we need to know is, first, why are the stamps so important; second, who was Jiro Matsuo working for when he was killed; and, third, who is Akio Nogami working for, and how does he fit into all of this.”
“Maybe those stamps are misprints and are valuable because they are incorrect,” Chin Ho Kelly suggested.
“That would interest a collector, but mistakes in printing don’t raise the value sufficiently in current issues to account for the kind of violence we’ve seen,” Steve said.
“Maybe there’s something more valuable buried under the stamp,” Kono suggested. “Like when someone paints over a valuable painting in order to hide it.”
Steve fixed his gaze upon Kono as he pondered the possibility. Suddenly, he sprung to his feet and slammed his fist upon his desk. “That’s it!”
“Huh?” Kono asked.
“Microdots! The stamps are being used to transport microdots of important data – intelligence, perhaps.”
Snatching the receiver from his telephone, he dialed Che Fong’s number.
- - - - -
As soon as McGarrett and Danno stepped into the Longshoreman’s Bar, they saw Nagami.
“Who said, ‘A criminal always returns to the scene of the crime’?” Danno asked.
“I have no idea, Danno,” Steve replied as he walked over to the table where Nagami was seated. It was the same table, where, less than a week earlier, Jiro Matsuo had been killed. Now, sitting in the same chair, where Matsuo had been sitting, there sat another Japanese man. “Akio Nagami, you’re under arrest for the murder of Juan Hernandez and Juro Matsuo.”
Nagami looked up at him and made a single statement. “The man you want is Toshi Hikaru.”
“Toshi Hikaru?” Steve asked. “At Shenso Industries?”
Nagami gave a single nod. “I am Yakuza, but Hikaru is Red Chinese.”
“Red Chinese?” Steve asked in disbelief.
“The man you know, Wo Fat, lost favor when he tried to take leadership for himself. Hikaru is his replacement.”
“But Toshi Hikaru is a Japanese name, not Chinese,” Steve said.
“He hides behind Japanese name. His real name is Dong Cheng.”
Steve had heard of Dong Cheng, but it never had occurred to him that he was in Hawai‘i or working under cover, behind a Japanese identity. “Why are you telling me this?”
“I will tell you everything you want to know.”
“Why?” Steve repeated.
“I would rather go to your Leavenworth than to die a terrible death in my bed.”
“Okay. If you will turn state’s evidence, I will see that you are imprisoned on the mainland, away from those who would harm you here.”
“Then, I will tell you what you want to know.”
"We know about the microdots on the postage stamps," Steve said.
Nogami nodded. "There are many. Together, they spell out intelligence that could topple the world powers. But three stamps are missing. Those three stamps contain the links that make it all work. Hikaru is furious that someone arranged the data like that, but whoever made the microdots did it that way. So, now, it's all been for nothing, and Hikaru..." He fell silent with a disgruntled expression upon his face.
"Why are you changing sides?" Danno asked.
"I have my reasons," Nogami replied.
Steve studied Nogami carefully. He doubted whether he was telling the complete truth. The pride of the Asian would preclude such an admission, after all. More likely, Nogami was there to lure Steve into a trap. He glanced about, yet saw no one who appeared to be involved. All seated around the room were familiar faces.
“Let’s go to my office to discuss this, Nogami,” Steve said. It would be better to take this discussion to a more secure environment.
Kono stepped forward with a pair of handcuffs in hand. “Get up,” he told Nogami.
All eyes were fixed upon Akio Nogami as he arose from the chair and was secure by handcuffs and then as Kono propelled him toward the doorway.
“Just a minute, Kono,” Steve said before Kono propelled Nogami through the doorway. “Let’s make sure Hikaru’s men aren’t lying in wait.”
Duke used his CP unit to radio the HPD squad, which was on lookout around the building.
“Keep the suspect there, Duke,” came the reply. “There’s something suspicious going on in the next block.
“Move him to a safe room, Kono,” Steve commanded. Try the women’s restroom. Chin, check it out. Make sure no one has climbed in through the window.”
The room not only was safe, but there was no access to the room from outside. Kono and Chin Ho took Nogami in, while Duke took in chairs on which they could sit while they waited for the all-clear from the HPD.
- - - - -
“What’s going on, Ben?” asked Steve McGarrett as the HPD squad captain’s voice came over the police band radio.
“A car is parked in the next block with two men sitting in it. Gut instinct tells me they aren’t discussing the Warriors’ game last night, Steve.”
“Can you run the plates to see who they are?”
“We’re doing that, now. I’ll let you know when we find out what’s going on.”
Even as Steve spoke, another call came in. “Captain, the green Mercury is registered to Shenso Industries. Their security department.”
That told Steve all he needed to know.
“Time to round ‘em up, Steve?” asked Dan Williams.
“Yeah, Danno. Just as soon as we get Nogami and Hikaru’s goons behind bars, we’ll go after the man, himself.”
The HPD arrested the men in the car. It was a simple matter of surrounding them and giving them no choice but to give up. When they had been taken away, Five-0 took Nogami to a safe house, where he was surrounded by enough policemen to hold a convention.
The last arrests were made at Toshi Hikaru’s home in Kahala. This time, the big Mercury was McGarrett’s intimidating black one. He and his detectives surrounded Hikaru’s black Lincoln Town Car. To their surprise, Hikaru did not resist arrest. His henchmen’s protest was feeble, at best.
“Something’s wrong, Danno,” Steve insisted. “They gave up too easily.”
“Yeah, Steve. That’s what I was thinking,” Danno agreed. “Suppose this isn’t really Hikaru, but a double. Wo Fat had doubles. Why wouldn’t his replacement?”
Sure enough, three miles offshore, Dong Cheng was transferring from a rubber raft and to a Red Chinese submarine.
- - - - -
Steve arose quietly lest he wake Maggie, who slept peacefully beside him. Slipping from the room, he put on a pair of shorts and climbed up to the deck of his sailboat. ‘Uhana Moana, he had named it, "The Spirit Of the Seas."
It was still dark. The luminous dial on Steve’s wristwatch told him that it was just after 6:00. Sunrise was about half an hour away. All was quiet, except for the murmur of small waves, which lapped gently against the shore, and the soft cry of a sea bird waking from its slumber.
Steve cherished this time of day, when he often jogged before he drove to the Palace to begin his work day. Then, traffic, snippets of music, or other noise filled the darkness. Not this morning. This morning, Honolulu and its hustle and bustle were far away, almost as if they had existed in another time and place. At dusk on the previous day, Steve and Maggie had dropped anchor in this small bay. The winds had been favorable, enabling them to arrive after but a two-hour sail. The waters had been calm, allowing them to enjoy their journey. The waters still were calm in the pre-dawn light.
Steve noticed the light padding of naked feet on the ladder from below. The footsteps drew nearer before a bare arm slid around his waist. He turned his head and met Maggie's hazel eyes which were beaming upon him.
"Good morning, Hon," he whispered, as if he were afraid to disturb the silence around them. He nuzzled his face in her hair, which still bore the scent of her preferred fruity shampoo.
"Good morning, Steve," she whispered in reply as she rubbed her left temple on his arm, which encircled her.
Together, they watched the sun climb over the mountains and admired the black silhouette of palm trees against the brightening sky and the white clouds as they received a pink lining as if being touched by a gigantic paint brush.
"When it comes to coloring, Mother Nature still does it best," Maggie observed after several silent moments had passed between them.
Without uttering a word, Steve nodded in agreement, for it was rare moments like these that helped him rebuild the stamina he needed for stemming the flood of crime that threatened to engulf his beloved Hawai‘i.