‘V’ for Vashon: The Avenger*
Dedicated to the memory of Leonard and Rose Freeman
Vrinda, H50 1.0 FOREVER, Steve’s Girl, ParanoidJackLordFan50
The grand Gothic Victorian house stood on a hill, covered by trees and thick vines. The “For Sale” sign still stood on the hillside, near the street. Since the 1920s, it had been home to Dominic and Anna Vashon. Now, it seemed, it belonged to their younger son, Mario. He had spent an hour in the real estate agent’s office that morning, signing the papers that allowed him to take possession.
Now, Mario Vashon drove up the steeply inclined driveway and parked his car by the stony path that led to the front door. He stepped onto the front porch, unlocked the door, pushed it open, and stepped inside. As his foot stepped over the threshold, he paused and gave a look around. The furnishings, paintings, and fixtures were still in pristine condition, thanks to the butler and maid, who had been maintaining the house since Dominic Vashon’s suicide a month earlier. It had happened just down the hallway, in the study, where Old Nick had spent most of his time.
Now, Mario walked down the hall and towards the study door. Again, he hesitated. After drawing in a deep breath, he turned the knob and entered the room. It looked the same as it always did. The desk sat in front of French doors; copy of Crime and Punishment lay on the ink blotter.
This must be the book to which Honoré alluded. Alluded, yes. Conversation with his older brother in the prison visitation room the day before had been so stiff, so limited as to sound as if it were in code.
An Oriental rug still lay snugly upon the floor, although the chalk outline of Dominic’s body remained intact, between the standing Tiffany lamp and the desk, showing Mario where he had fallen after shooting himself. Dark stains on the hardwood floor showed where his blood, now dried, had spattered. The sight enraged Mario, and he tightened his fists, opened his eyes wide, and breathed in and out with a fury.
An impressive collection of old, leather-bound volumes lined the shelves in an alcove. Moroccan-leather-bound volumes reflected the best of nineteenth and early twentieth-century literature. They included the works of the Brontës, Dickens, Hardy, Wilde, Fitzgerald, London, Steinbeck, among other authors.
Turning, Mario again caught sight of the chalk outline and dried blood. If his wife, Ginerva, was going to live here, he would have to have the study cleaned quickly. Walking back to the desk, he picked up the old edition of Crime and Punishment that Honoré had mentioned. The cover was made of a beige cloth with the tile in gilt-embossed capital letters. Blowing away the dust that covered it, Mario opened it and leafed through the yellowing pages. He wondered what made the book so special that his brother had emphasized its presence.
And, then, as he flipped to the middle of the book, he found the answer. An envelope fell out and fluttered to the floor. Mario bent down to pick it up, then walked to the window and studied the envelope. It was small, the kind used to mail checks, and his name, “Mario Vashon,” was written in blue ink on the front. Using his father’s gold letter opener, he gently cut the flap along its edges rather than the top, in following a habit he had of keeping envelopes intact after opening them.
Mario opened the flap and pulled out a two sheets of lined paper, folded into thirds, and stapled at the top left-hand corner. The script upon the pages was in the same blue ink as that on the envelope – in his father’s hand – and limited to the first side of each page. Holding the letter to the light, Mario read silently:
My dearest son,
That you are reading this letter now means that I have already left this earth. I thought I had a foolproof plan, but it was not to be. I am writing to you now to make my final statement before I leave this earth, and to give you one last request.
I thought we had Steve McGarrett. We came so close, and then lost. He was too efficient for us. It is up to you to pick up where I left off. Steve McGarrett must be destroyed, and Christopher’s death must be avenged. Honoré tried to kill him and failed, and Tosaki and I tried to frame him and failed. If he had gone to jail, Honoré would have finished the job. I became too overconfident. I was certain we’d won, and I didn’t think of the appeal, that McGarrett’s men would find out how the gun disappeared and about Drew’s part in this affair. One by one, the walls came crumbling down around us, and I was left with no way out but to take my own life. I would not let McGarrett have the final triumph, and neither should you.
That you are left now to shoulder this burden will be a test of your strength, and I know you will succeed. That I failed is of no consequence to anyone but me. All our business dealings which I put up for sale are yours to do with what you wish, but along with these responsibilities, take care of your most important first. You can use whatever means to carry it out. Blood must be shed to avenge the shedding of another’s. Steve McGarrett must pay for your nephew’s murder. He must suffer, he must pay.
Should you feel lost or without hope, remember, I am watching over you always. You and Honoré never ceased to make me proud, and I know you will continue to do so. The Vashon name must be vindicated. I wish you the best of luck, and give you all blessings in your endeavor.
Your loving father,
March 1, 1972
Mario folded the letter and returned it to the envelope. Giving a sigh, he stared out the window at the colorful foliage, yet the beauty of the red hibiscuses, white lilies, and pink bougainvilleas did little to calm his anger. Glancing at a gilt-framed photograph of his parents, he made his decision.
“Yes, Papa,” Mario Vashon promised out loud. “I will keep my promise to you. Steve McGarrett will pay.”
- - - - -
Meanwhile, in the park atop Hanauma Bay, sat an unlikely group of men. Some were old, like elderly businessman Li Wing. Some were young, like the upstart, Lou Tanaka. They numbered six, in all, and sat in a bend of the low, stone wall that surrounded the park. All sat forward, some with their elbows propped upon their knees, as though lost in thought. In voices too low to carry, they shared their thoughts.
“It is said, Honoré Vashon’s brother is in town,” Li Wing said in rich, cultured tones.
“It is said McGarrett sent you to Taiwan with instructions never to return,” snapped Tanaka.
“That’s the way I heard it,” snapped Tasi Tanavasu.
“Yeah,” the others chorused.
In all, they sounded like a roster of mobsters sent to Oahu State Prison by Five-0 Chief Stephen J. McGarrett. They were; most had received their freedom within the past year, yet all had managed to re-establish themselves as the chiefs of their organizations.
“How’d you get back in the country, Li?”
“Gentlemen, please. We are here to share intelligence about the most unsettling turn of events that is the arrival of Mr. Mario Vashon,” Li Wing insisted.
“He poses no threat to us,” snapped Tasi Tanavasu. “His only interest is in destroying McGarrett.”
“Do you have that information from reliable sources?” asked Li Wing.
“It came to me from Honoré Vashon,” Tanavasu replied. “The one they called Old Nick left a request that Mario finish what he and Honoré started.”
“Should we help him?” asked young Tanaka.
“No,” Li Wing replied thoughtfully. “Wisdom resides in waiting and watching. Whether the young Mr. Vashon succeeds or fails, we will have left ourselves unblemished.”
“Yeah! Then, we can move in against this kid Mario, and the police will thank us for it,” offered Tony Alika.
“Who sprung you, Alika?” snarled Tanaka.
“Shaddup, kid, and listen. You just might learn something,” Alika retorted. “Are we in agreement on this?”
One by one, those gathered uttered the decisive word, “Agreed.”
Tasi Tanavasu was the first to arise. “You know where to reach me, Li Wing.”
“I know where to reach all of you, gentlemen.”
- - - - -
The cork flew off the champagne bottle and landed with a thump on the floor. The champagne fizzed out, bubbling into Steve McGarrett’s glass as Danny Williams, known affectionately as Danno, poured it.
“Enough, Danno,” Steve told him as the amount only reached a few inches, reminding his second-in-command of his rare moments of indulgence in alcohol.
“Steve, it’s your Charges Have Been Dropped Party. You’ve got to at least sample some of it!”
True enough, Steve had a reason to celebrate. A man – a paroled drug dealer, who pushed dope to high school students – had fired at him from an elevator. That man had not left the confines of the elevator; yet, when the elevator had opened on another floor and the body had been discovered, the gun had been nowhere to be found. A search of the area where the shooting had taken place had yielded no spent shells.
Danno and Chin had been forced to testify to those “facts” in court. It had pained them to do it, but there had been no way around it, for Steve had been the only one who had seen or heard a gun. The only other witness had been Harvey Mathieson Drew, one of Honolulu’s most respected lawyers. Even though Drew had said he had heard gunshots, he had been hesitant to admit so to Steve and DA John Manicote.
In court, Drew’s testimony had collapsed when Manicote had suggested on cross-examination that the gunshots could have been the sound of a car backfiring. When Drew had readily agreed, shockwaves had ripped through the courtroom. An especially powerful charge had torn through Steve. His very freedom, his career, and his reputation had hindered on Drew’s testimony. In an instant, they had been shot to pieces, because Drew had become indecisive at the last minute.
Stephen James McGarrett, that tower of truth and honesty and justice, had been found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. The man who had been certain that the criminal justice system would work to clear his good name – the man whose faith in the system had been unwavering before the judge had read the verdict – suddenly had felt as though his world had ended.
The robotic nature in which it had come about – the jury re-entering the court, the bailiff handing the verdict to the judge, and the judge reading it – had looked cold, as if deciding a person’s fate were a simple thing, even commonplace.
But, then, things had begun to turn around. Steve’s lawyer had made an oral request for an appeal. The judge had granted the request in such a swift manner as to make Steve believe that, even if no one else did, the court believed that he was innocent. And, if he were innocent, that meant there was more evidence to be found.
Five-0 had continued the investigation. Before long, they had uncovered a skeleton in Drew’s closet that had ruined him as much as he nearly had ruined Steve. A second autopsy on the murdered drug dealer had shown that he had not died from Steve’s bullet, but from a needle injected six inches into his brain.
In addition, information had been provided by an informant that a cat burglar had been showing off a new pair of shoes and a “stack of crispies,” indicating he had just done a job and been paid. Unfortunately for the cat burglar, he had become drunk and talked too much, revealing the name of his employer to be Dominic Vashon. Indication had been that word of the cat burglar’s tale had reached Vashon, for the cat burglar had not been seen or heard again. The second trial had been far different than the first, with Stephen James McGarrett being cleared of all charges and reinstated as the chief of Hawaii Five-0. Once again in possession of his badge and gun.
As his first order of business, McGarrett had led his team to Diamond Head to arrest the patriarch of the Vashon mob family. What none of the detectives could have foreseen was the elderly gangster’s refusal to be arrested. Taking the coward’s way out, Vashon had fired a bullet into his head. The incident had horrified Steve; yet, at the same time, it had given him a small sense of vindication. He had picked up the green marble paperweight bearing the gold letter ‘V’ that had sat atop Vashon’s desk and slammed it down. Victory had been won over the Vashons – the son, the father, and the patriarch.
Memories of those events ran through Steve McGarrett’s mind as Danno urged him to have more champagne. Too weary to protest, Steve gave in and let Danno pour him another glass. The sounds of laughter from those gathered to share the moment seemed to Steve to be miles away. The ordeal had taken a heavy toll on him, and he had not regained his footing. Even so, he looked on with appreciation for his detectives, Danno, Chin Ho, Kono, and Duke; newly hired detective Jayna Berringer; his secretary Jenny; DA John Manicote; Governor Paul Jameson; medical examiner “Doc” Bergman; and forensic scientist Che Fong, as well as a host of Honolulu Police Department and government officials.
Even though his ordeal was over, Steve felt uneasy. He sensed down deep that the worst was not over, and yet, he was not quite sure why. He would have to sort that out later, for the sound of Danno’s voice brought him back, once again, to the present.
“Hey, Steve! I just realized you’re not dressed for the occasion,” Danno declared as he stuck a yellow fabric party hat on Steve’s thick dark mane and pointed to the blue hat with a white tassel hanging from its tip that sat upon his own head, then gestured to everyone else, who wore similar hats.
Steve managed a wide smile and patted his young assistant on the shoulder. “Yeah, Danno. I gotta have a hat if this is party is going to be official.”
The approaching footsteps of Jayna Berringer caused Steve to turn. He greeted her with a polite smile. After all, when it came to her work, Jayna was dedicated. Still, she had her playful moments. This moment was no exception, and she wrapped her arms gently around Steve and kissed him firmly on the cheek.
“Welcome back,” she whispered, holding onto him.
Steve knew that was her way of showing affection, yet it made him uncomfortable. He was her boss, after all. “Jayna, you can let me go,” he whispered. “It’s alright. I’m free now.”
The governor approached them, ending the awkward moment. “Steve,” he said, “you’ve got to try this cake.” He handed Steve a plate bearing a slice of marble cake. “Mrs. Kelly made it.”
Steve took a bite, and his face broke into a smile of sheer delight. “Oh, yes! Mrs. Kelly outdoes herself every time!”
- - - - -
Mario Vashon was in a quandary. Actually, he had been in a quandary at midnight. After pacing the floor for half the night and tossing and turning in bed the other half, he was in far beyond a quandary. He was frustrated to the point of angry. He had been tasked with finishing off McGarrett, yet he had not a single idea how to do it. His brother Honoré had tried murder; the hired gun had turned state’s evidence. His father had tried a frame for murder; Five-0 had managed to see through the scheme. If Mario couldn’t kill McGarrett and couldn’t set him up, just what was he supposed to do? I’m not a murderer, and I’m not one to frame people. I’m a legitimate businessman – well, mostly legitimate. Okay. I bend the rules, sometimes, but…
Mario’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell ringing. He could hear someone speaking to the butler. What the devil is that butler’s name? I never could remember it. Again, his thoughts were interrupted, this time by a quiet knock on the door.
“Yes. Come in,” Mario called.
The door opened, and the butler looked in. “Mr. Tosaki wishes to see you, sir.”
“Tosaki… Didn’t he work for Papa?”
“Yes, sir. And for your brother.”
“Show him out to the lanai, and bring us some coffee.”
“Very good, sir,” the butler said. Backing through the open doorway, he closed the door. His soft footsteps receded up the hallway.
Tosaki… Tosaki… What did he do? Oh, yes! When Papa had an idea, Tosaki executed it. Hm… Maybe he’ll have an idea… I’d better test the waters, first, though. Make sure he still works for us. If he’s changed sides… Yes. I’ll play this close to the vest.
A few minutes later, Mario stepped outside, onto the lanai, where he found Tosaki standing at the railing and looking out over the deep-blue Pacific Ocean.
“Mr. Tosaki,” he said. His tone was unmistakably cautious.
The short, wiry man with grizzly Japanese features turned and peered at Mario through Coke bottle lenses. “Mr. Vashon, this is an honor,” he said, giving a deep bow.
Too deep, Mario thought. This man wants something. “What is on your mind, Tosaki?” Mario asked.
“I understand you have been tasked with completing a certain mission begun by your brother and continued by your father.”
“Oh? And where did you hear that?” Mario asked.
“From Mr. Honoré, sir. He has asked me to lend you whatever assistance you may require.”
Even after a lengthy meeting with him, Mario was still not certain he could trust Tosaki. Honoré might have contacted him, yes, but were this man’s loyalties still in the same place? Mario decided to let Tosaki tell him himself.
“May I ask when you got in touch with my brother?” he asked.
“I have been visiting your brother every other Sunday since he was incarcerated,” Tosaki replied. “Of course, our conversations were limited since they were monitored. However…” he paused, “your brother mentioned his father’s fondness for Dostoevsky.” Tosaki gave a slight smile as he spoke of the Russian writer’s name.
Mario leaned back in his chair and pondered the man across from him as he thought about what he had said. Honoré would not tell anyone about that book unless he trusted them. Perhaps I can trust this man after all? But little by little, in baby steps.
Finally, Mario returned Tosaki’s smile. “Come inside, Tosaki.” He gestured toward the house, motioning for Tosaki to enter first. Inside the study, Mario poured brandy for the two of them.
The Japanese man accepted the drink enthusiastically. Holding it up with his arm extended, he said, “To Dominic Vashon. There will never be another like him.”
“To Papa.” Mario raised his glass and met Tosaki’s with a clink. “May he rest in peace.”
The men sipped the brandy, enjoying its rich, warm flavor. For several moments, neither spoke. When Mario had pulled the glass away from his lips, Tosaki said, “Mr. Honoré asked me to help you with your problem, and I think I have a solution for you.”
Mario looked up with interest. “Oh?” he asked, making every effort to appear less excited than he felt. “What did Honoré tell you about my problem?” Better to be cautious. After all, he was still not convinced that this man was being straight with him.
As if he were reading Mario’s mind, Tosaki said, “You think I am not being honest with you, Mr. Vashon, but I can assure you, my intentions are purely genuine. I seek only to serve you the way I served your father and brother.”
He sounds sincere. Still... Mario knew he could only carry out his father’s dying wish if he were confident of those who offered to help him. Again, it seemed best to play it close to the vest.
Tosaki continued to speak. “Everyone has a weakness, even Steve McGarrett,” he explained. “Your brother tried killing McGarrett, and your father tried to send him to jail, where, in time, he would have been killed by those he sent there. But there is another way to kill a man, a way that will make him die a thousand deaths, if not more, and we will not even have to draw a single drop of his blood in the process.”
“No bleeding?” Mario asked.
“Someone else will bleed for him,” Tosaki explained.
“I’m intrigued,” Mario said. “Go on.”
- - - - -
After Tosaki left, Mario pondered Tosaki's plans. He walked over to the window and stared out, but he didn't take in the beautiful view of the Pacific under a clear blue Hawaiian sky. A soft knock on the door pulled him out of his reverie.
"Come in," he said.
The heavy door swung open, and the butler announced, "Mrs. Vashon is here to see you, sir."
“Mrs. Vashon?” Oh, yes. Of course. His sister-in-law, Marguerite. Mario vaguely remembered her from Honoré's and her wedding about twenty years earlier: Dark hair and eyes… not very pretty… very shy… Honoré had told him that she had come from an old, but poor, family and had hinted that her family had been saved from ruin by Vashon money. Marguerite had been the price. The women of her family were said to have many children, so this woman would produce sons to take over the Vashon empire when the time came.
Mario walked away from the window to greet his sister-in-law. When he shook her hand, his glance was met by a stare from cold, black eyes. There wasn't much that reminded him of the shy girl that hardly had dared to look people in the eye. In front of him stood a slim woman with strong features. Her grey-streaked hair was pulled back in a chignon, and she held herself very erect, exuding pride and dignity. She was wearing black for her father-in-law, but Mario recognized at once that her black dress and matching blazer were impeccably cut and very expensive. For no special reason, Mario began to feel uncomfortable.
"Marguerite," he began. "Please, have a seat. We haven't seen each other since your wedding. What a shame that we meet again under such circumstances: your husband in jail, my father dead… Please, sit down. Can I offer you something? How may I help you?"
Mentally, he chastised himself: You nervous Nellie, you're talking too much and too fast.
"No, thank you, Mario," Marguerite replied in a cold, clipped tones even as she took the offered seat. In the same tones, she said, "Mr. Tosaki has been here to see you. What did he want?"
Mario didn't stop to think about how Marguerite knew about Tosaki’s visit. Oddly, he felt like he was under a spell, seemingly sedated by the woman’s presence. After a moment, he jerked back to the present. "Well, he... he came to talk something over with me," he stammered. "After all, he was Honoré's and Papa's lawyer."
"Let me make an educated guess," Marguerite said, allowing a hint of sarcasm to show. "Has Honoré another plan to make Mr. McGarrett pay for Christopher's death?"
"Just answer my question, Mario. Are you and Honoré scheming to harm Mr. McGarrett?”
“At Papa’s bidding, yes.”
“At Papa’s bidding? Papa’s dead!” Marguerite exclaimed. “Haven't his and Honoré’s plans ruined the family, already?"
Mario did not respond, which fueled Marguerite’s barely suppressed fury. To his surprise, as well as her own, she began to speak in tones so low she barely was audible.
"I was married off to a criminal, because Pere was a notorious gambler and the Vashons paid his debts. They promised him more money should I, his eldest and favorite daughter, marry Honoré. The arrangement was supposed to lend the Vashons an air of respectability. I agreed to that bargain but only to save Pere, who would have taken his own life, brought shame upon the name of his family, and left my mother and sisters with barely a pittance.”
She paused for a moment, ostensibly to allow her words to penetrate Mario’s thoughts, before continuing. “On the outside, Honoré passed himself off as a wealthy gentleman, but not one cent was made with decent work. He was a hypocrite; even Christopher could see that. When Christopher died, Mr. McGarrett told Honoré that he and his grandfather were responsible for Christopher's death. As terrible as this might be to say about one's own son, Mr. McGarrett was right. Christopher was spoiled from the day he was born, and he became a grown man who had too much of everything and not one ounce of responsibility in him. He brought it all on himself."
Again, Marguerite paused. She took a deep breath. Then, coming to her feet, she said, "There will be no more plans to take revenge, Mario! Put Dominic's house on the market, and go home!” Without waiting for Mario's reply, she turned and walked from the room. She left behind a stunned Mario.
- - - - -
Marguerite did not return home immediately. Instead, she drove into town, where she turned into the driveway before the ‘Iolani Palace. Pulling into a parking space near the main entrance, she mounted the steps and walked across the lanai with its colorful likeness of the royal seal on the ceiling, above. Entering the building, she walked to an information desk not far away.
“May I help you?” asked a young Hawaiian woman with a smile that bespoke Aloha!
“I need to see Mr. McGarrett. Where is his office?” Marguerite replied.
“Go up the stairs. Five-0 is on the east side of the building.”
“Thank you.” The petite, yet proud, woman turned and made her way toward the grand koawood staircase. Many of the original features of the palace had required replacement during the restoration, but the staircase had survived. Now, freshly cleaned and polished, it was nothing short or glorious. As she reached the top of the stairs, she saw a sign on a stand before a doorway.
Hawai‘i State Police
Criminal Investigations Division
Turning the brass knob on the door (another survivor of the restoration), Marguerite Vashon stepped into the outer office of the law enforcement office. She found herself in a beehive of activity. To her right, two telecopiers and two Telex machines were droning with incoming and outgoing messages. Beyond, detectives bustled about among cubicles as they carried information about ongoing casework from one to another. At two desks, secretaries worked busily. One was typing a letter, while the other was speaking on the telephone and making notes on a pad of paper. Just ahead, a closed door bore a name painted in gold-colored paint:
“May I help you?” a feminine voice asked.
Marguerite looked to her right to see a helpful smile upon the face of a middle-aged woman with pleasantly styled red hair.
“Yes, please. I must see Mr. McGarrett. It is a matter of life and death,” Marguerite said. Her throat felt as dry as dust. She barely could get the words to come out.
“Mr. McGarrett is not in at the moment,” Jenny said. “Can someone else help you?”
“Yes, please. Someone who can stop my husband and his brother.”
“Perhaps, if you told me who you are…,” Jenny suggested.
“I am Marguerite… Marguerite Vashon. My husband and his brother are planning to make another attempt to harm Mr. McGarrett.”
Instantly, the detectives sprung to the doorways of their cubicles. Dan Williams stepped forward.
“Mrs. Vashon, I am Dan Williams.”
“Yes. I remember you from… from court.”
“Why don’t we step into my office, and you can tell me what you know.”
“Yes, of course. Please, may I have a glass of water? Suddenly, my throat is parched.”
“Of course. Jenny?”
“I’ll bring it to you, Mrs. Vashon,” the secretary offered.
Marguerite Vashon took a seat in the straight-back chair she was offered. A moment later, she took the glass of water Jenny handed to her. She took several sips before she began to speak.
“I don’t know how he reached a telephone, but last night, Honoré called me. He was talking out of his head, saying he and Mario were going to make everything all right. This morning, I went to Dominic’s house to try and persuade Mario not to go along with Honoré. Just as I arrived, Tosaki’s car pulled out of the driveway. I know that’s who it was. I’d know that man’s green coupe anywhere. Then, when I was talking to Mario, he admitted that plans are already underway.”
“Did he tell you what the plans are?”
“No, but he had an evil smile on his face. Even Honoré doesn’t have a smile that evil. I don’t know what he and Tosaki are planning, but I know it is something terrible!”
Danno needed to digest what he had heard. In one year, there had been an attempt on Steve’s life and an attempt to frame him for murder. Now, there would be another attempt to harm him in some way. When would the Vashons stop? Danno knew the answer but did not want to think about it.
“Mrs. Vashon,” he said, “I want you to keep this to yourself. Tell no one else.” Danno got up and motioned to an HPD officer. The officer rushed over to the cubicle. “Take Mrs. Vashon’s statement and then take her home. Get some men to keep a guard on her around the clock.”
The officer nodded and took Mrs. Vashon away.
Chin stopped doing his paperwork. He nearly dropped his pen when he saw the anxious look on Danno’s face.
“What’s going on?” he asked as Danno entered his cubicle.
“Steve’s in danger,” Danno replied. So affected was he by Mrs. Vashon’s words that he had trouble speaking coherently. “I’ve got to find him. The HPD is sending a man home with Marguerite Vashon to provide protection for her.” Without waiting for Chin to respond, Danno rushed back to his own cubicle and snatched the receiver from the telephone.
Never had Chin seen Danno so frightened; yet, given the situation, he was not surprised. Clearly, neither of the detectives could go back to their routine business, not now.
- - - - -
As soon as Marguerite’s car had disappeared from view, Mario had walked back into his father’s study. Sorting through all Old Nick’s old paperwork made Mario wonder if he had made the right decision to come back to Honolulu. Still, Honoré could not handle this while he was in prison. Who was left to shoulder the burden? Only he, and he had to shoulder it through to the end. If he saw it through, even this cloud would yield its silver lining. Mario was sure of it.
The butler’s knock on the door caught Mario’s attention, drawing his thoughts back to the present. “Come!”
“Mr. LoMauro is here to see you, sir,” the butler announced.
“Send him in,” Mario replied.
A tall, scraggly-haired, scruffy man entered. His chestnut-colored hair was not disheveled by neglect, but by its wavy texture. The scruff was from LoMauro’s not having shaven in two days. Despite his physical appearance, the man had thought enough to wear a clean sports shirt and khakis.
“Long time, no see, Jake,” Mario said. “Have a seat.” He gestured to an armchair.
LoMauro sat down, pushing a shock of unruly hair from his forehead. “I got the word from one of Honoré’s boys that you wanted to see me,” he said.
“I have an important job for you, Jake,” Mario replied. “I hear you are an expert with electronics?”
- - - - -
Danno dialed the police radio in Steve’s car and frantically repeated his message: “This is Williams calling McGarrett. Williams calling McGarrett. Come in, Steve!”
After what seemed like an eternity, he heard the familiar voice. “This is McGarrett. What is it, Danno?”
“Steve, where are you?” Danno asked.
“I’m on my way back to the Palace from a call at Pearl Harbor. What’s wrong?”
“Marguerite Vashon came into our office today. She says that Mario and Tosaki are planning to kill you.” Danno stopped speaking as he heard tires screeching of tires coming from the other end. “Steve?” Danno called out.
“I’m right here, Danno,” he said. “I’m nearly to the Palace. Don’t worry. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
Danno leaned against the wall, still clutching the receiver of his telephone. He did not breathe a sigh of relief and knew he would not until Steve was safely within the offices of Hawaii Five-0.
- - - - -
“Right!” Duke exclaimed into the receiver of his telephone. Leaping from his chair, he darted from his cubicle and into Steve’s office.
“Steve! I just heard from airport security. Paulo LoMauro was spotted an hour ago. He arrived on the 3:00 flight from LaGuardia.”
“Just who is Paulo LoMauro, Duke?” Steve asked in tones too calm to possibly reflect how he really felt.
“He’s an electronics expert, who worked for the Pulte family before the NYPD broke them up.”
Steve looked at Duke. “Where is he, now?”
“An HPD plainclothes detail followed him to Old Nick’s house in Diamond Head.”
“Steve, here’s something else,” Kono said as he walked in.
“Go!” Steve prodded him.
“I just had a call from one of my informants. It seems that the shyster Tosaki has been laying some big bills in some dirty palms along Hotel Street.”
“Not the coconut variety, I take it,” Steve deduced.
“No, Steve. The Lou Tanaka variety.”
Steve leaned back in his chair and stared through the open French doors behind his desk. “It looks like Mrs. Vashon was right, gentlemen. Brother Mario is planning something.”
“Something to do with electricity,” Duke added.
“Like mebbe he gonna hotwire your bathtub, Steve,” Kono suggested.
“Something to do with cat burglary,” Chin added. “That’s Tanaka’s specialty.”
Danno had walked in to hear what the others were saying. Now, he said, “Steve, we’d better place you under protective custody.”
Steve looked around at him. “This time, Danno, I’m not going to fight you. Make the arrangements.”
- - - - -
In Black Point, at a large house made more spectacular by the quarter-acre rose garden that fronted it, Li Wing looked up at the man who had been presented before him. He spoke in quiet tones that belied the aggravation he felt.
“Mr. Tanaka, I was under the impression that we had agreed not to become involved in Mr. Mario Vashon’s dealings.”
“I gotta eat, Mr. Wing.”
“His name is Mr. Li,” snarled Li Wing’s young nephew, Lai Po.
“Thank you, nephew,” said the elderly businessman, “but I have long accepted that many people do not understand the Asian custom of placing the family name before the given name.” He looked back at Lou Tanaka and added, “although, your being of Asian descent, I would have thought you would know.”
“Hey! Don’t get ya feathers ruffled. I let it be known in the meeting that I don’t think we should sit back and do nothing. If that guy Vashon wants to pay me, I’m available.”
“Be that as it may, we work together, Mr. Tanaka. In that way, we maintain strength through our numbers.”
“Yeah, well, while you’re working on those numbers, count me out.” Without waiting for a response, Tanaka turned and strode from the room.
When Lai Po had closed the door behind him, Li Wing spoke, “I fear Mr. Tanaka will be a problem, nephew. We must alert the others.”
- - - - -
Before Steve and Chin arrived at Safe House #4, Jayna met there with two members of the HPD bomb squad to go through the house to ensure that it was ready for the top cop's safekeeping. The three specialists checked every nook and cranny, looking for strange devices, especially bombs or, given LoMauro's expertise, electrocution devices. They also searched for wires and microphones.
The entire Five-0 team had wanted to come to make the search, but Steve had said "no." Rightfully, he had been apprehensive about letting them do the job, knowing what could happen if Tanaka, LoMauro, Tosaki, or another of Honoré Vashon's men had entered and planted a device. Besides, the others had their work cut out for them, as well, in investigating those men and discovering just what this plan was that they were devising for Mario Vashon.
Lou Okana came from the bedroom and called out, "Clear. Bathroom, too. Nothing out of the ordinary."
"Ditto for the living and dining rooms," announced bomb squad leader Len Emma.
Even after making the proscribed check, Jayna remained in the kitchen, where she went through the spice rack. She threw away any container that was not sealed or that could be penetrated with a needle containing a dangerous substance. That included the cardboard salt and pepper shakers and the plastic milk carton.
"What are you doing in here?" asked Len Emma as he walked in. Even as he asked, he saw what she was doing. Going to the pantry, he began doing the same thing.
"Looks like someone will need to go to the grocery store," Lou Okana said as he walked in. "I'll make a list based on what you're discarding."
"Good idea," Len said.
"I'll go to the store," Jayna offered. She took up the telephone receiver and started to dial Five-0's number. Already, she had checked it for bugs and explosives. "Jenny, put me through to Dan Williams." She reported their findings to Steve's second-in-command. "Don't bring Steve out here until we give the all-clear. I'm not satisfied that this house is safe."
"What's the problem, Jayna?" Danno asked.
"I'm not sure. It's something I feel."
"Keep looking, then. You're usually right about these things," Danno told her. "Let us know what you find."
Hanging up the telephone, Jayna lowered the access door to the attic. "Anyone check up here?" she called to Len and Lou in the kitchen.
"No. Go on up," Len replied.
A moment later, a loud gunshot rang out and resonated throughout the house.
Len and Lou felt the shock and jumped to their feet. Even as they rushed toward the attic stair, they heard footsteps over their heads that were too heavy to have been Jayna’s. They feared the worst, but of necessity, put their fears out of their minds and hurried up the stairs, guns in hand, to face the intruder.
Despite their concern for Jayna, they knew they had to be cautious and not rush blindly, in case the gunman was there, waiting for them. Each step of the stairs seemed to draw their breath away. Every second seemed like an eternity. What were they going to find?
Len entered the attic first. The sight before him caused the muscles in his chest to grab him like a vice, making it difficult for him to move. Yet, he knew he had to, for there, on the floor, by the window, lay Jayna, blood streaming from a gunshot wound to the right side of her chest. As he rushed toward her, he looked frantically about for something he could use to make a pressure bandage. Grabbing a curtain from the window, he bent over her and applied pressure to the wound. Then, he took her pulse. “She’s alive,” he said. “I’ll call an ambulance.”
Lou saw that the window was open. He ran to it and cautiously looked out in all directions, craning his neck to see into blind spots, hoping to spot the shooter. He saw no one, except two HPD patrolmen, who seemed to have no idea that anything was amiss.
“Officer down!” he called out to them. “Check the grounds. The shooter is on the loose!”
- - - - -
Steve was on pins and needles as he sat in his office, waiting for Danno’s call, telling him it was safe to move to Safe House #4. Chin, who waited with him, was just as anxious. For all they knew, a shooter could be only a few yards away, safely hidden inside a nearby building, with his gun aimed right at any one of Steve’s office windows. No matter that the windows and doors were closed and the blinds drawn. The thought that he was in danger made the top cop shiver, and he got up and went to sit in chairs that was farther from the window.
“I wish we could get moving,” Chin said, sensing his boss’s thoughts.
“You and me, both, Chin. I hate to sit here and do nothing,” Steve agreed, “but there are times when we have to sit tight and wait. I hate to be the sitting duck, with all of you putting your necks out to save me.”
“It’s our job, Steve, and it’s what we want to do.” He did not need to say more, for the inflection in his voice told it all. It softened Steve’s heart to see how much his staff cared for him. They would do – and had been doing – everything to protect him.
In his position as investigator-in-charge, Steve always had felt he needed to protect his detectives. He had to be their rock, their guiding light. Nothing and no one could touch him. His expectations were idealistic and impractical, and he knew that they were. After all, he was as human as everyone else. But, now, again, after so many months of having to rely on the men under him to help him fight his way out of the Vashons’ vice-like grip, he wanted nothing more than to be free to retake his role as Five-0 chief.
The telephone rang. Steve rushed forward and snatched the receiver from its cradle.
“McGarrett!” he fairly thundered.
“Steve!” The voice belonged to Danno, whose voice sounded anxious.
“What is it, Danno?” Steve asked. He tried to calm his voice, for he could hear fear in his partner’s voice. Something was wrong, seriously wrong.
“Steve, Len, Lou, and Jayna were checking out Safe House #4. There was someone hiding in the attic.”
“What happened?” Steve asked, his voice frantic. At the back of his mind, fast coming to the forefront, was what he knew and dreaded.
“Jayna went up into the attic, Steve. She’s been shot!”
Steve’s face turned white as the color drained from it. His jaw dropped. With his free hand, he propped himself up on the edge of his desk as his legs turned to jelly beneath him.
Chin rushed over to lend support to Steve and grabbed the receiver. He was in time to hear Danno screaming, “Steve! Steve! Are you there?”
“Steve’s here, Danno,” Chin said. “Where is Jayna, now?”
“They rushed her to Queen’s Hospital. Lou Okana said she’s in critical condition.”
The panic in Danno’s voice told Chin that he was nearly hysterical.
“Keep a grip, Danny. This is no time to panic,” Chin told him.
“I know that, but a gunman got into the safe house when we had taken every measure to ensure that it was secure.”
“Well, we missed something. Have the men keep searching,” Chin ordered.
“Will do, Chin. How’s Steve?”
“He’s all right. Worried about Jayna, of course, but he’ll be all right.”
It was a lie told to minimize Danno’s fears. In truth, Steve appeared to be in deep shock. Chin wished Danno would hang up, so he could ring downstairs for Doc to come up and check on Steve.
Hoping to hasten an end to the call, he told Danno, “Check with the bomb squad, Danno. Have them go through the other safe houses. Make sure they are clear. What happened should not have. We have to know how it happened. When we know that, we’ll decide what to do next.”
“You’re right, Chin. I’ll take care of that,” Danno replied.
“Good! Now, get busy.”
Chin hung up, instantly taking up the receiver again and ringing the extension in Pathology, downstairs.
“Doc, bring your bag. Steve’s in shock.”
“On my way,” replied Bergman, the chief medical examiner.
With the receiver resting upon its cradle, Chin went over to comfort Steve, who had made his way to a chair.
“They were after me, Chin. They were coming for me, but they got Jayna. When is this nightmare gonna end?”
“Jayna’s in good hands, Steve,” Chin assured him. “You’ve gotta keep the faith.”
“Keep the faith,” Steve repeated thoughtfully. “I’ve heard Doc say that.”
“Where do you think I learned it, boss?” Chin asked, giving Steve a hopeful smile.
- - - - -
It wasn’t like Steve McGarrett to fall apart. He was the stalwart of the Five-0 Team. He knew he had to pull himself together, regardless of the Vashons’ efforts to kill or discredit him. And, so, when Doc entered with his medical bag, Steve looked up at him and shook his head.
“Thanks, Doc, but that won’t be necessary. I’m fine.”
“I don’t know how you’re fine. None of the rest of us is fine,” Doc replied.
“We’re all fine. We’re all gonna survive this nightmare,” Steve insisted. “Okay. The safe houses are out. What are our options?”
“Jayna’s safe in the hospital,” Chin said.
“Make sure there’s round-the-clock protection for her, Chin.”
“Done, boss. Kono took care of that even before they left the safe house.”
“Steve, we have to get you to safety,” Doc said. “This palace with its jibe windows and French doors, is the least safe place in this town!”
“I agree, Doc. You have any suggestions?”
- - - - -
A light-blue panel van pulled up and parked across from the basement stairs on the north side of ‘Iolani Palace. Its driver and assistant hopped from the two front seats and crossed the driveway. With their caps pulled low over their foreheads, it was nearly impossible to discern who they might be as they mounted the stairs to the lanai on the main level. Entering the palace, they walked forward, beside the grand koawood staircase, until they reached its foot. Turning, they mounted the staircase to the second floor, where they crossed the center hall and entered the Five-0 offices. Only when they entered the private office of Steve McGarrett did they relax.
“Frank, John, did you have any trouble getting in?”
“No trouble, at all, Steve,” replied Lt Frank Kemana of the HPD. He assisted Five-0 whenever the elite police force was short on manpower.
“No one took any notice of us that I could detect,” added HPD detective John Lopaka.
“Good!” Steve said “Do you have our uniforms?”
“We’re wearing them, Steve. It was the easiest way to bring them without attracting attention,” Frank explained.
He unzipped the blue coverall he wore over his own clothes, removed it, and handed it to Steve to don over his own clothes. Meanwhile, Doc accepted a coverall from John and donned it. When Steve and Doc had zipped the coveralls, Frank and John handed them hats. Steve donned his and looked at Doc.
“How do I look?”
“Like you know how to fix photocopiers,” Doc replied, giving a sly smile.
“Might be a good thing to know if we don’t get the Vashons under control, once and for all,” Steve retorted. “The governor’s patience is running out.”
“So is all our patience, yours, most of all,” Frank replied.
Doc opened the toolbox, which John had brought, and began transferring medicine and equipment to it from his medical bag. Then, he took it up.
“Ready, Doc?” Steve asked.
“We’ll meet you there, Steve,” Frank Kemana said.
No one breathed a word about where “there” might be.
- - - - -
Doc Bergman pulled the light-blue panel van into the HPD hangar in the general aviation area at Honolulu International Airport and parked beside a Beech King Air twin-engine, turbo-prop aircraft. Anyone looking into the darkened hangar from the bright sun outside would have trouble telling who the two figures were who stepped from the truck and entered the aircraft.
A figure wearing an airport maintenance uniform stepped aboard a pushback tractor. Upon receiving the go-ahead from the HPD pilot in the cockpit, he started the engine and pushed the aircraft from the hangar and onto the tarmac. He then disconnected the towing rod from the nose gear and backed into the hangar, freeing the aircraft to move under its own power.
The pilot started Engine 2 on the starboard side of the aircraft. The engine caught easily and began humming smoothly. Then, he started Engine 1 on the portside. It, too, caught easily. As the pilot went through his pre-taxi checklist, he requested permission from the ground traffic control to taxi. Already, he had filed a flight plan with air traffic control. A few minutes passed before he received permission to taxi to the end of the runway. Considerable time passed before he received permission to take off. Commercial traffic was ahead of him in the business of the late afternoon. Honolulu desperately needed an airport with a traffic control tower to ease the general aviation load at Honolulu International, but that would not come about for another 25 years, when the closure of Barber’s Point Naval Air Station would make possible the opening of Kalaeloa Airport, near Ewa Beach.
Finally, air traffic control gave permission for the pilot to turn onto the runway and begin his takeoff roll. Scarcely a minute later, the aircraft was airborne. It banked away from the mountains and, after flying parallel to the south shore of O‘ahu, banked again, this time to the southeast.
- - - - -
When the aircraft set down 75 minutes later, it taxied to another service hangar. From there, its two passengers transferred to a panel van. This one bore the name and logo of the Hawaiian Volcanoes Helicopter Tours. No one paid any attention to it as it traversed the few blocks to the Maunaloa Hotel. Two figures emerged from the truck through its rear doors and entered the hotel through the service entrance. They took the service elevator to the seventh floor, where they entered an ocean-view suite.
The suite had been chosen carefully for high security. With six floors below and three floors above, it would not be easy for anyone to reach it from outside. Being located near the end of a long corridor and far away from the elevator, the only serious risk of invasion from within was the fire stair, which was only two doors away. It and the door into the suite were carefully guarded.
Steve walked into the bathroom, which stood off the bedroom, and splashed cool water on his face. He felt as though someone had turned the thermostat up to 80 degrees, even though he knew that was not the case.
“What’s wrong with me, Doc?” Steve asked as he emerged.
“Stress. Your system is rebelling against the attacks to your life and well-being,” Doc explained as he wrapped a sphygmomanometer cuff around Steve’s upper arm.
“I know it’s off the chart, Doc.”
“Be quiet. Let’s get an accurate reading,” the physician replied. “Yes, it’s off the chart. I’m going to give you a sedative. You need to rest.”
“No, Doc. Don’t knock me out,” Steve protested.
“Get some sleep. If you can’t sleep, read a good book. In a few days, when the situation on O‘ahu stabilizes, we’ll go out and take a walk or two.”
“What is being done to stabilize the situation?”
“That is for the detectives to worry about. For now – and until further notice – you are under medical care and prohibited from working.”
“Then, I’m imprisoned, whether here or behind bars.”
“It’s only temporary, Steve,” Doc reminded Steve as he gave him a pill and a glass of water.
But Steve didn’t hear him. His mind was in overdrive. “Maybe I should move to the mainland, change my name, and take up the life of an antiquarian bookseller,” he mused.
“They would find you. Let’s nab these people and put them behind bars. Then, you can retire to a life as a bookseller, if you still want to.”
“Yeah, yeah. You’re right, Doc. You’re always right.”
“No, but I am a few steps removed from the terror of this situation, and so, I can see a bit more clearly,” Doc insisted.
“Chin borrowed one of your lines. ‘Keep the faith.’”
“That’s not my line. It’s as old as history, itself. But it’s also very good advice. You do need to keep the faith,” Doc replied.
Steve barely heard him as he stifled a yawn. “Man! This stuff is powerful! What did you give me, Doc? Stuff to knock out a herd of buffalo?”
“Right. Stuff to knock out a herd of buffalo. Roll over and go to sleep.”
Steve did. Rather, he pretended to, just as he had feigned the yawn.
“I’ll leave you to get some rest.”
As soon as Doc left the room, Steve arose. Pulling the sheets from the bed, he tied them to form a rope. Quietly, he opened the sliding door to the lanai and walked outside. After making sure that no one, especially security guards, was nearby, he tied one end of the “rope” to the railing. Tossing the rest of the rope over the railing, he climbed over and used the rope to rappel down two floors. There, he swung himself over the railing to a lanai.
It was not difficult to pick the lock to the sliding-glass door giving access to what proved to be an unoccupied room. From there, Steve made his way to the stairwell at the far end of the building and down to the ground floor. Presently, he emerged into the gardens surrounding the hotel. Only then did he encounter the first roadblock. Two local police officers were watching the comings and goings near the front doors. Even so, it was not difficult for Steve to make his way past. He had only to carry himself as though he knew where he was going but was in no particular rush to get there. Sure enough, the patrolmen did not give him a second glance. In a single minute, he was walking around the Queen Lili‘uokalani Park and past the Suisan Fish Market. Taking care to stay away from Banyan Avenue and Kamehameha Avenue, he walked along Wailoa Beach to downtown Hilo.
Knowing that his dress shirt and slacks stood out, Steve ducked into a small curio shop and purchased a traditional Hawaiian shirt and slacks, both brown; a straw hat; sunglasses; and flip-flops. Soon, he looked like everyone else in town. Darkness was falling, but that didn’t stop Steve from wearing the hat and sunglasses; he needed them to help hide his pale complexion and blue eyes as he made his way to the Wailoa small boat harbor.
There, he entered a café that appeared to cater far more to the kama‘aina than to tourists and took a seat on a stool at the counter. As he perused the menu, he realized he was even hungrier than he had thought he was. It was nearly 5:00, and he had not had anything to eat since breakfast. He ordered loco moco. It was a plate of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. He ate it with a glass of milk, then ordered a cup of coffee to sip as he read the Honolulu Advertiser, the afternoon newspaper, which had just been delivered. A quick check told him that the incident involving the Vashons had not been reported. Good!
As he exited the café, he saw a sign that caught his attention:
SAIL MY CABIN CRUISER TO HONOLULU
FUEL AND $75 PROVIDED
- - - - -
“Hey, Steve! You getting hungry?” Danno called as he pushed open the door to the bedroom on the seventh floor of the Maunaloa Hotel. His voice broke as he saw that not only was the bed lacking a body; it was also lacking sheets, blanket, and bedspread. The flutter of white on the lanai drew his attention outside. Walking through the open sliding door, he caught the sheets and pulled them up. Taking them inside, he tossed them, still knotted together, onto the bed and walked into the sitting room. “I should have known he’d do this!” he spat.
“You should have known who would do what?” Doc wanted to know.
“Steve. He’s flown the coop.”
“That’s impossible! I gave him enough to knock out a horse for a week!”
“That would be the blue pill on the nightstand?”
Doc rushed into the bedroom, where sure enough, he saw the pill laying on the nightstand. “Damn that man! I apologize, Dan. Normally, I don’t curse, but I really swear I don’t know why I bother with Steve McGarrett.”
“Don’t apologize, Doc,” Dan said as he snatched the receiver from its cradle and dialed a number. “Kono, Steve’s taken off. Looks like he rappelled down two or three floors, then took the stairs the rest of the way.”
“That’s what I always say, Danno: Never trust an intelligence officer any farther than you can throw him.”
“Now, you tell me,” Danno snarled even as he slammed the receiver onto its cradle.
- - - - -
Steve used the compass on his watch to guide the 40-foot cabin cruiser through the waves around the northern tip of Big Island and then west by northwest, toward O‘ahu. It was going to be a long night, but Steve was up to the sail. In fact, he found himself relaxing as he read the position of the stars to confirm that his compass was accurate. Such was the knowledge of a man who had served twenty years in the Navy and sailed his twenty-foot sailboat at every available opportunity ever since.
Even as he kept an eye out for other traffic, which would not realize he was there, Steve began to formulate a plan for his return to Honolulu. He had to find out what Mario Vashon was planning. Relying on informants was too limited. He needed first-hand information. Somehow, he had to get inside Old Nick’s mansion. He had to find notes or recorded messages or…anything!
It wasn’t legal, of course – after all, he had no warrant – but then he didn’t have to tell anyone how he had managed to learn the game plan; he only had to keep it from being executed. Such was the difference between traditional law enforcement and military intelligence. That this case did not fall within the jurisdiction of military intelligence seemed somehow unimportant in the light of Vashon’s tactics: giving every intention that he was on the island to seek revenge, invading safe houses, and critically shooting a police officer. Besides, it was a matter of survival – Steve McGarrett’s survival!
- - - - -
"It was too easy, Doc," Danny said angrily as he paced back and forth across the bedroom in the Maunaloa Hotel.
"What do you mean, Danny?" Doc asked.
"Do you remember? Steve didn't argue when you told him we had to get him to safety. He must have had a plan, even then. He went along with everything we suggested or did, then took off as soon as we thought he was asleep and safe."
The door opened and Kono rushed in. He sounded alarmed as he relayed his findings:
"Security men haven't seen him."
Danny let out a chuckle and said, "Well, let's say they didn't recognize him. Certainly, Steve knows how to get past policemen without being seen."
"I don't get it, Danny. Why would Steve do that?" Kono asked.
"It wouldn't be like Steve to sit here in comfortable safety, far from the action, and let others risk their lives in a vendetta directed personally at him, Kono."
"You think he'll try to get to Honolulu?"
"You can bet your year's salary on that, Kono."
"But how? He can't risk going by plane or renting a helicopter,” Kono stated. His voice taking on a hint of grim humor, he added, “…and he can't swim to Honolulu." When Danny gave him an icy glance, he muttered under his breath, "Sorry, Bruddah."
Suddenly Danny's face lit up. "Of course! Kono, you are a genius! Steve can't swim to Honolulu, but boats can! There is no other way! He must have gone by boat!"
"But Danny, if he can't risk renting a helicopter, he can't risk renting a boat, either," Doc put in.
Danny hesitated for a moment before he said, "I'm sure Steve bought some clothes to blend in with the crowd. It's nearly dark, further masking his identity. Kono, go down to the harbor. Ask around. Maybe there are crews bound for Honolulu that are one man short. Steve has been in the navy for many years. He knows sailing. See if you can pick up something."
"On it, Danny."
- - - - -
The sky was pitch-black, except for the stars that twinkled. The cabin cruiser continued to make its way steadily across the relatively calm sea at about 20 miles per hour, its engine purring like a kitten. Steve did not push it; even though the cruiser was capable of going 30 miles per hour, speed was not an issue. He would arrive in Honolulu in good time, some twelve hours after leaving Hilo; that would put him at Vashon’s dock at about 7:00 in the morning. There was a lot to be said for traveling at night, the absence of blistering sunshine being at the top of the list. Steve’s thoughts returned to the problems associated with his goal: to find out what Mario Vashon was up to.
True, the legalities could be a problem. I can’t base my whole case on what I find at Old Nick’s house. I can only use it as a guide for what I need to do next. What are the potential pitfalls? Discovery, for one. That would amount to handing myself over to Vashon to torture or murder, depending on what he has in mind for me. Arrest, for another. After all, I would be trespassing. Am I going about this the wrong way? If so, how should I be going about it?
- - - - -
"Do you think Kono will come up with something?" Doc asked.
The remains of their dinner sat on the table. Danny was pacing the room again.
"I hope so, Doc. I really hope so," Danny replied.
No sooner had they fallen silent than they heard footsteps in the corridor, near the door. The door opened, and Kono entered.
"I think I found something, Danny," he exclaimed as he sat on a chair and glanced longingly at a plate on which two sandwiches were left. "May I? I'm starving."
"Go ahead," Danny replied impatiently. "Whaddaya got?"
"Heard someone say that a Mr. Bolton finally found someone to sail his cabin cruiser to Honolulu. He doesn't live far from the harbor, so I went there and asked him about that man.
He had Steve's build and wore brown slacks, a Hawaiian shirt, and flip-flops. Mr. Bolton found it strange that the man wore a straw hat and sunglasses, because it was nearly dark."
"Did he say anything else about the man?"
"No, only that he paid the man $75 and that he set sail immediately. That was around 6:30." Kono barely had finished his sentence when he took a hearty bite of the sandwich.
Paying him no attention, Danny went to the phone. "Operator, get me the harbormaster, please."
The call went through quickly. "Jefferson, harbormaster," a deep voice came through the phone.
"Williams, Five-0. Good evening, Mr. Jefferson. Could you tell me how long it would take to reach Honolulu by cabin cruiser?”
"About twelve hours, Mr. Williams. When do you plan to leave?”
“The party in question left around 6.30."
“If he sails through the night... If the sea is calm and there isn't much wind, he should get there just about daybreak, Mr. Williams."
"Mahalo, Mr. Jeffferson. Good night."
"Well?" Doc and Kono inquired in unison.
"Twelve hours. That means Steve will reach Honolulu about 7:00 tomorrow morning. Okay! Let's get back to Honolulu. A Hawaiian Airlines flight leaves Hilo International in about an hour.”
“Let's move!" Kono exclaimed, leaping from his chair even as he took another bite of the second sandwich.
- - - - -
The sky was light, but the sun had not yet risen over the horizon when Steve dropped anchor. Fifty yards ahead was a cliff; atop it stood Old Nick’s Gothic Victorian mansion. The detective would like to have taken the boat closer, but the water was too shallow. The pale aqua color of the water told him that; so did the visibility of coral not far beneath the surface.
Ideally, Steve would have with him a wet suit for swimming to shore. Conditions were not ideal. He had only his dress clothes, which were rolled up within a brown paper bag, and the brown Hawaiian clothes, which he wore. Stepping from the flip flops, he put one in each of his side pockets, then dove over the side of the boat and began swimming to shore. It was not a difficult swim, for Steve maintained his body in good condition.
He had swum no more than twenty yards when he heard a shot ring out. There was no mistaking what it was, for the bullet landed only inches away from him. Instantly, Steve dove. Taking advantage of the depth, he made his way under water back to the boat. He swam beneath the boat, coming up on the starboard side, then made his way to the rear, where a ledge would help him to board.
Well, so much for that idea. What’s he got up there, a fortress? Of course, he’s got a fortress! Old Nick built the place. Hell! He probably has cannons in the turrets.
It was an exaggeration, and Steve knew it, but it did prove the point that invasion, whether by land or sea, was not going to be an easy thing to accomplish. Steve weighed anchor, started the engine, and began backing the boat away from the shore. With any luck, at all, Mario Vashon’s weapon was not a high-powered one.
No such luck. A shell hit the side of the boat. Shifting into forward gear, Steve revved the engine to full power to send the boat out of the range of Vashon’s artillery as quickly as he could. He managed to escape but not before he heard four more bullets hit the boat. All Steve could do was pray that one of the bullets did not hit one of the two outboard motors. Now, luck proved to be in his favor. As the gunfire ceased, Steve reduced his speed to cruising and continued on to Kewalo Basin, where he was to deliver the boat.
As Steve pulled up to the pier he had been told to use, he found Danno and Kono. No doubt existed that they had slept no more the night before than he had.
"Steve, what the hell did you think you were doing?" Danno exploded.
"Save it, Danno. I gotta see a man about making good on this boat. You call the HPD to arrest Mario Vashon."
"What are these holes, Steve?" Kono asked.
"Bullet holes. Come onboard and see if you can find any shells."
"Someone attack you at sea?"
"No. Mario Vashon unloaded something along the order of an M16," Steve replied. "I was thirty yards out, in the ocean, not trespassing on his property."
Without staying to discuss the incident, Steve, left his detectives and walked toward the harbormaster's office.
"You bringing in Mr. Bolton's cabin cruiser?"
"Yeah, but I got a problem. Someone took a few shots at me and hit the boat. Please tell Mr. Bolton that I'll cover the cost of repairs."
"Oh, Mister! You don't know what you've let yourself in for. Sean Bolton thinks he owns this island. He's gonna make your life miserable."
Steve pursed his lips and gave a nod. Then, he handed the harbormaster his business card and the key to the cabin cruiser. "Tell him to send me the bill."
The harbormaster read the name on the card and asked, "You're Steve McGarrett?"
"Yeah." Without stopping to discuss his identity with the harbormaster, Steve turned and walked back to the boat. "You find anything?" he asked Kono as he climbed aboard.
Kono held up a plastic bag containing four shells in various states of destruction. "Yeah. We might be able to use these."
"He do any damage that would sink the boat?"
"No. the holes are all high," Danno replied.
"Okay, then. Let's get outta here," Steve said as he took up the bag containing his clothes.
- - - - -
The shooter cocked the rifle, causing the spent shells to scatter on the ground. Mario Vashon, watching from the safety of the lanai, eyed the other man reproachfully, shaking his head. This was not the first time the shooter had failed to hit his target.
“Rollins, you are one lucky man. Did you know that?” Vashon said as he approached the man with the rifle. “It’s not everyone who gets a second chance from a Vashon.”
The man called Rollins turned to face Mario, looking at him nervously, though trying very hard to hide it. To show fear to a Vashon was to show weakness, and that was an even quicker way of signing one’s death warrant than failing to complete an assignment successfully.
“He was too fast for me, Mr. Vashon. He dove down as soon I fired the first shot. I thought he wouldn’t hear it with the outboard motor running and the waves.”
“But he did!” Mario folded his arms and shook his head. “First, you managed to only wound that female cop, and then…”
“She’s in critical condition. She will die,” Rollins insisted in his own defense.
“And, then, you failed to hit Steve McGarrett when he was swimming right toward you. Follow me.” The men went back into the house, and Mario led Rollins back into the study. “Getting McGarrett was never easy for anyone and, so far, no one has been successful, but I won’t give up.” Mario picked up the phone and dialed a single digit. “Yes. Can you come down here? Thank you.” He hung up and walked over to Rollins. “McGarrett will probably go back into hiding, but I know how to bring him out.” Cold eyes looked away and settled upon the photograph of a couple that sat in a gilded frame upon the table. It was a photograph of his parents. “This will be the perfect chance to strike – our last chance.” He spoke more to himself than to Rollins.
The gunman knew all too well of his employer’s thirst for vengeance and its genetic hold over the Vashon family. “Who did you call?” he asked.
“Someone who can help us with the next part of our plan,” Mario replied. “Meanwhile, you find LoMauro. The two of you brush up on your marksmanship.”
- - - - -
Lai Po waited impatiently for his uncle, Li Wing, to end his morning ritual. The elderly man, as always, had arisen at sunrise, meditated for two hours, then sat, contemplating, in front of a small painting. It depicted a rising sun with rays that touched the surface of a lake surrounded by trees. Only a few delicate strokes on originally white silk that was now yellowed with age, the painting was titled "Every Sunrise is a Harbinger of Hope."
Having finished his contemplation, Li Wing ate a frugal breakfast of rice flavored with fruit, served in a priceless Chinese porcelain bowl with ivory chopsticks, and two cups of tea served in an equally priceless tea cup. Only the appearance of a servant to take the bowls away signaled Li Wing’s readiness for the day that lay ahead.
Lai Po entered the room and bowed. "Good morning, Uncle."
"Good morning, Nephew. Is there anything important I need to know?"
Li Wing answered Lai Po's greeting with customary words. "Yes, Uncle, there is. One of my informants reported that, this morning, Steve McGarrett, dripping wet, delivered a cabin cruiser bearing four bullet holes to the harbormaster at Kewalo Basin. Dan Williams and Kono Kalakaua were there, as well, after arriving last night on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Hilo. My informant also told me that he overheard Mr. McGarrett asking Mr. Willams to call the HPD with instructions to arrest Mario Vashon."
"Those are important items of news, Nephew. It seems that the younger Mr. Vashon's attempt to kill McGarrett might fail. As regrettable as that might be, we will be left undisturbed."
"Do you want me to contact Tanavasu and the others, Uncle?"
"No, but thank you, dutiful nephew. The less they know, the better."
- - - - -
A half-dozen blue-and-white police cruisers stood at the three exits from the Vashon mansion. Two blocked each end of the circular driveway, while two more blocked the service drive. Of the dozen officers they had carried, four stood guard at the cars, while six of the remaining eight surrounded the several exits from the mansion. The last two patrolled the steps that led down the cliff and to the beach, below.
The squadron leader pounded on the front door and called, "Police! Open up!"
When the door was not opened immediately, he pounded again. "Honolulu Police Department, Vashon. Open up."
Now, the door opened, and the butler looked out. "Yes, sir?" he asked as calmly as if he had been greeting a door-to-door salesman.
The squadron leader pushed past him and entered the house followed by the two patrolmen who had been guarding that exit. Quickly, they searched the rooms, first on the main level and then upstairs. They found no one.
"Check the basement."
Even as the squadron leader gave the command, voices and a scuffle could be heard emanating from the rooms below. He and his men ran down the stairs to join them. They arrived in time to see the patrolmen who had been guarding the basement exit slapping handcuffs on Mario Vashon and his gunmen. A patrolman gathered their rifles, while another provided a third set of handcuffs.
"Do you want us to take them in, Sarge?"
"Take ‘em to Five-0. Mr. McGarrett is waiting to talk to them."
"On our way, Sarge."
Another patrolman called from upstairs. "Hey, Sarge, you want the butler, too?"
"Yeah. We might as well find out what he has to say."
- - - - -
Meanwhile, Steve McGarrett entered the darkened hospital room and looked down at the sleeping body of Jayna Harris.
"She’s recuperating nicely, Mr. McGarrett," a nurse told him.
"Has anyone tried to get in?"
"Your policemen have thought two men in the corridor looked suspicious and sent them on their way, but no one has tried to enter the room."
Steve gave a nod, then turned and walked away.
- - - - -
Steve returned to the palace, where he showered and changed into a set of clothes that he kept for such situations as this.
Besides, I doubt whether Danno would have allowed me to go home on my own.
Which was true. Steve knew that a row with Danny lay ahead. He had an inkling that Danny had not liked his single-handedly taking matters into his own hands, let alone agreed with it. At the harbor Danny had resembled a volcano close to eruption.
He never has asked me about my Navy days, not as far as criminal investigations are concerned. Perhaps, he suspects there is much more of my modus operandi from those days left in me than he wants to know - or than I dare to admit? Yeah, there probably is, but that’s not going to change. I dare not allow it to change. It is what is saving my life!
Steve sighed. He would straighten things out with Danny later. Now, interrogating Mario Vashon had top priority. Rollins and LaMaura had been taken to the HPD, where they were being dealt with. Mario Vashon was a different matter. Steve wanted – and needed – to deal with him.
The younger brother of Honoré Vashon held himself erect, tall and proud, as he was ushered into Steve’s office. Despite his cool exterior, he lashed out with the anger that was bottled up behind that façade.
“You have no right, McGarrett.”
“You’re a very foolish man, Mario, and you’re following the ways of a very foolish father, brother, and nephew,” Steve said, ignoring the outburst. “Your quest for revenge is either going to lead you to prison or else to the cemetery.”
“You have nothing on me.”
“Actually, I do. The slugs taken from the boat match the slug removed from Jayna Harris’ body. That is two counts of attempted murder.”
“Boat? Jayna? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Vashon spat.
“Yes, you do, and I have a full confession from Ted Rollins to the effect that you hired him to pick off three members of the Five-0 team. He said… I’ll read it to you.
Vashon says he’s gonna have an eye for an eye. McGarrett shot and killed the boy, Chris, so Vashon got me to shoot the girl detective. McGarrett got Mr. Vashon’s brother sent to prison, so the next plan was to grab the blond, curly haired detective and hold him in the basement and let him starve to death, but he took off for Hilo before we could get him. Then, he wanted McGarrett driven insane, to the point of suicide – just like the old man shot himself. But when we saw him sailing up on the boat this morning, the temptation was too great. Vashon said we’d pick him off and leave him for the fish to pick his bones.
“That’s outrageous! He’s made up the whole thing!” Vashon exploded.
“Calm yourself, Mr. Vashon,” Steve said in steely cold tones.
“He’s writing fiction!” Vashon continued.
“Now, why would he do that? No, Vashon. Ted Rollins was hired to fire those shots, and you’re the one who hired him.”
Vashon squirmed. “You’ll never be able to prove it, McGarrett.”
“As I told you, the slugs match.”
“So, you have Rollins, but you don’t have me. Nice try, McGarrett, but no cigar.”
With that, Vashon leaped out of the chair, turned, and strode from the office.
“You gonna let him go, boss?” Kono asked.
“Dog him, Kono. You and Chin be wherever he goes, wherever he looks.”
“On it, boss!”
As the door closed behind Chin and Kono, Steve heard the door to the lanai being pushed open and Danny stepping outside. He sighed and followed Danny outside.
Danny spun around, his blue eyes blazing. His words fairly exploded from his lips. "What did you think you were doing, slipping away like a... a cheap cat burglar, climbing down on bed sheets! We had to pay for those sheets, you may know. We went out of our way to protect you from Vashon, and you..."
Steve interrupted him, trying to stay calm. "Danno, it had to be done that way. Vashon had to be made to think I was in Hilo. Otherwise, I never could have come back to Honolulu, not secretly. I had to do it on my own."
"Is that the way you did it back in the good old Navy days? The lone wolf on the prowl…the great gung ho investigator…doing it his way, not bothering to inform the men who worked with him, whose lives might be at stake, as well? What are we, mere foot soldiers?"
The past few days, with all their worries about Steve and too little sleep, had swept away any and all social conventions. Politeness was the last thing on either man’s mind.
"Cut the crap, Danno!" Steve exploded. Steve usually did not use foul language. His using it now revealed the toll the previous days’ stresses had taken on him as well. It also revealed how much Danny's words hurt. He paused and drew in a deep breath, allowing a moment for the tension to dissipate before he spoke again. "Danno, please! Please, try to understand there was no other way."
With all passion seemingly spent, Danno replied quietly, but with a touch of sarcasm, "Yeah, and a lot of good it did you. You nearly got killed by one of Vahon's snipers."
"Yeah, Danno, nearly, but they didn't get me, and I wasn't even trespassing."
A few moments passed in silence. Then, Danny inquired, "Suppose, you had made it to the shore… How did you intend to proceed?"
Steve hesitated a moment, then said, "I really didn't know. I’d have played it by ear, I suppose."
"And risked getting that ear cut off," Danny replied with a flicker of humor.
It was just as Danno had thought: The big, tough NIA guy was playing his own game, and the irony of it all was that the military stressed teamwork – when there was a team, and there was a team at Five-0 – unless he had been right and he, Kono, and Chin Ho were merely foot soldiers, go-fers, lackeys…
Several silent minutes passed, both men lost in their thoughts. Then, Steve began to speak in calm, carefully phrased sentences.
"Danno, you and Chin and Kono and Duke are no foot soldiers to me. How could I have made Five-0 into what it is today without your utmost support and trust. Please, keep that in mind. But sometimes, when a situation demands it, different measures have to be taken. You are a seasoned cop. You should know that."
"Yes, Steve, I do know that, but I also know you left us with egg on our faces when you crept off, into the night, without letting us know your plans."
“That was as it had to be, Danno.”
“Then, on that point, we will have to disagree,” Danno replied.
Steve restrained the urge he felt to remind Danno who had the big office and why. More minutes passed. Then, he suggested, "How about ordering some food from our favorite Chinese take-out? I'm starving and so must you be."
"That's a splendid idea, Steve."
They would eat in silence, well aware of the chasm that had developed between them.
- - - - -
Jayna slowly opened her eyes. At first, her surroundings seemed fuzzy and unfamiliar, but as her sight came back into focus, she recognized the pale walls and modestly furnished surroundings as those of a hospital room. An IV ran to her arm from a plastic bag filled with an antibiotic, while another machine monitored her vital signs with the indication of squiggly green lines on a monitor.
A man was asleep in the chair to her left. He was familiar to her. Seeing Duke Lukela sleeping so peaceful warmed her heart and almost forget the events of the past twenty-four hours. She did not want to rouse Duke Lukela out of his stupor.
Similarly, she did not want to make any movement that could impair her recovery. After all, she did not know badly she was injured. Could she sit up without injuring herself further? She did not know, and so she remained still.
She thought about Steve and the continuing vendetta of the Vashons. She hoped he was safe and that a safe place in which to secret him had been found. None of the safe houses would work now that they had been discovered. What did one do with an old safe house? Surely, no one would want to buy them in case the perpetrator of a long-forgotten crime came around, intending to exact his own brand of justice. Did they tear them down and sell the property? Jayna did not know.
She could hear several sets of footsteps in the corridor. They grew louder as they drew closer, then stopped outside the door to her room. Jayna’s heart started to pound as her survival instinct kicked into gear.
“Duke!” she cried out, yet not loudly, for she was weaker than she had realized, yet loudly enough for him to hear.
Duke’s eyes opened, and he looked in her direction to see fear in her eyes. “What’s wrong, Jayna?” he asked as he got up to check on her. She did not respond, yet her gaze did not waver from the door across the room. “Jayna? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” she managed to say. “Outside.” She pointed to the door.
Before Duke could draw his service revolver, the door opened. An HPD patrolmen assigned to stand guard in the corridor looked in.
“I’m coming on duty, Mr. Lukela,” he said.
“And I’m going off duty,” said another officer as he looked in.
“Okay, Moki, Keanu. See you tomorrow,” Duke replied. As the door closed behind them, he smiled at Jayna. “Everything’s just fine. You relax and get some rest.”
Giving an embarrassed smile, she nodded. “It hurts to get shot.”
“I think I’ll transfer to a desk job at the HPD.”
“Wait until you feel better before you make that decision,” Duke advised her.
- - - - -
Mario Vashon was not a happy camper. His plan to avenge his father’s and nephew’s deaths and his brother’s imprisonment was falling apart. Rollins had been arrested and was being held without bail, no thanks to the owner of that boat, who had filed charges against him for the damage his shells had done to it. LoMauro had fled the islands just as soon as the HPD had released him for a lack of evidence. He hadn’t even bothered to call to let Mario know that he was leaving. Mario had found out about it when he called his hotel and learned that he had checked out and taken a shuttle to the airport.
For the past three hours, Mario had been drowning his sorrows in a bottle of bourbon – well, actually, bottles of whiskey, vodka, and bourbon, but who it came down to the same thing. Mario was feeling no pain (or much of anything else) when a new sense of reality began to set in.
Why do I care whether Honoré avenges his past? It’s his past, not mine. He’s the mobster; I’m not. Hey! I’ve lived an honest life – well, mostly, but we’re not going there again. I was lucky to get off. That cop, McGarrett’s nobody’s fool. He strikes me of having the tenacity of a bulldog. He won’t let go until he takes me down. This thing’s gotta stop before it goes too far – if it hasn’t already gone too far. But how will I get off the island? McGarrett called it his rock. I’ll bet it is, too. Nobody does anything here that he doesn’t know about.
Rising from his chair on the lanai, Mario made his way on wobbly legs down the steps that descended to the beach. He was glad for the handrail. Otherwise, he never would have been able to maneuver the steep angle of the worn steps. Half-rotten, they were. Old Nick had kept the house in good order – and the gardens – but he obviously had stopped going down to the beach long years ago. Upon reaching the beach, he stumbled along in the direction of Koko Head.
He had no idea how far he had walked when he saw a boat lashed to a pier. No doubt, it belonged to the owner of the house above the pier. On a whim, he walked onto the pier and took a look into the boat.
Crazy idiot left the key in it! Hey! He left the key in it! Yeah! All I have to do is what McGarrett did – only in reverse! I’ll take this boat to that island that has the same name as the state – the one they call Big Island. There, I can catch a flight and be long gone from this place before anyone wakes up and realizes I’ve left.
With renewed hope, Mario Vashon stepped into the boat. He used the penlight on his key chain to check the fuel level (half-full), then checked the gas can that sat on the deck of the boat, near the outboard motor (full). He nearly fell over his own two feet as he hastened to the front of the boat. Giving a tug on the lashing line, he started the engine, backed quietly back from the pier, and out, into the darkness. As soon as he was far enough from shore not to be discovered, he pushed the lever forward and sent the boat speeding across the waves in Maunalua Bay.
As soon as I round Portlock Point, I’ll be rid of this island, Steve McGarrett, and even Honoré and all his problems. Correction: Make that especially Honoré and all his problems.
- - - - -
The sun had risen high in the sky, and a blue-and-white sailboat was clipping along, maintaining its maximum speed of 22 miles per hour. Its three occupants had set sail from Lahaina, Maui, just after the break of dawn, had passed Kaho‘olawe Island, and were making their way across the Alenuihaha Channel, toward Kailua-Kona on Hawai‘i Island, the Big Island.
They had sailed about 70 of their 90-mile journey when Burt called out, “Hey, Drew! Hold on!”
“What’s the matter?”
“There’s a body… Yeah! It’s a body, floating upside down in the water.”
Instantly, the men dropped the sails to slow the boat. The man called Drew could see the body and used the waves and his rudder to guide the boat closer for a better look. As they drew near the body, the third sailor, Kevin, reached out with a hook and snagged the body by the windbreaker that it wore. It did not wear a life preserver.
“Idiot! He went out without a life preserver!” Kevin called to Drew, who remained at the rudder.
“Some people never learn,” Drew called back.
Kevin pulled the body against the side of the boat. A quick glance told him and Burt that the body was dead.
“Better call the Coast Guard, Drew,” Burt called.
Burt nodded and took up the microphone to his radio. “Coast Guard Maui, this is the Maui Windsurfer. Come in, please.”
“Go ahead, Maui Windsurfer. This is Coast Guard Maui.”
“We’ve spotted a body floating face down in the water.” He went on to give his position to the communications officer.
At the same time, Burt pulled a wallet from the rear pants pocket of the dead body. He opened it and looked at a water-logged California driver’s license. It was issued in the name of Mario Dominic Vashon.
- - - - -
Steve was standing on the lanai just beyond his office, taking in the warm fragrant air and listening to the familiar noises from the streets, below. He looked exhausted after the past eventful days, yet content, nonetheless with a tiny smile upon his lips.
Hearing familiar footsteps behind him, he knew that Danny soon would join him. He knew the footsteps of all his detectives; they were as distinctive as their voices.
"You're smiling, Steve. That's good to see", Danny noted as he joined the chief investigator.
"It's good to know that the era of the Vashons is behind us – for good – Danno."
"For good? Do you really think it's over, Steve? Think of Mrs. Vashon. She has developed into one proud lady."
"Yes, she certainly did,” Steve agreed, “but I'm certain she will use the Vashon money wisely and not engage in criminal activities. She will see to it that her daughters receive the proper training to take over the reins from her one day."
Danny did not respond, for he had his doubts. After several silent moments, he asked,
"What gives you that idea?"
In reply, Steve stepped into his office and took an envelope from his desk.
"This was delivered this morning," he said as he handed him the envelope of hand-made paper. Upon it, in the penmanship of a self-assured person, were written Steve’s name and address, together with the notation “Personal & Confidential.”
Danny looked at Steve questioningly.
"Look at what's inside, Danno, and you'll know what I mean."
Danny opened the envelope to find a letter and a check. He read the letter:
Many brave policemen have laid down their lives trying to protect innocent people from the criminal deeds of the Vashons. That cannot be undone, but from now on, the Policemen's Widows and Orphans Fund will receive $50.000 annually from the Vashons. Please, accept the first check.
His eyebrows raised in surprise, yet at the same time, he was unmistakably impressed by the words he had read.
“Maybe you’re right, Steve. I hope you are.”
“So do I, Danno. So do I. By the way, I received Doc’s report on Mario Vashon’s autopsy this morning. He drowned. At the same time, his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. Doc thinks he got drunk and fell overboard.”
“Did they ever find the missing boat, Steve?”
“Yeah. It washed up on the shore on Lanai Island. The Coast Guard found three empty liquor bottles in it.”
* Based on the Vashon Trilogy (“‘V’ for Vashon: The Son,” “‘V’ for Vashon: The Father,” and
“‘V’ for Vashon: The Patriarch”) written by Alvin Sapinsley. Leonard Freeman Productions
/ CBS-Paramount, 1972.