His death looked like it had been long and hard. The carefully sliced, mutilated body was the kind of sight he hated to have to see. Looking at them. That was the hardest part of his job. Or maybe not. Maybe it was being drafted as spokesperson for the Department, having to tell the press all the details of each awful case. Everybody at HPD kidded him about being a “star” for having his face all over the newspaper.
He felt very far from celebrity status, although he probably was the most recognizable HPD face. Even more so than Chief Dan Liu. Damn retirement was still a long ways away. He’d promised all his children that he’d pay their way through any kind of schooling they pursued. Maria’s dying wish had been that none of her children end up being saddled with huge debt after they finished school. All three kids were at some stage of higher education, and there really was no end in sight.
He thought about Maria for a second. Yeah, she would have the stronger stomach for this job. And she had possibly come close to reading every murder mystery novel in the universe, no matter how gory. He smiled. Something he’d not done all day.
He knelt beside the body, shaking his head over the ever climbing murder rate on O’ahu. Maybe he should have become an English teacher, like Maria had been.
Mr. Santos sat on the stoop of his second floor apartment. The weather was bad. Kona winds, high humidity. Still, sitting outside was cooler than being in the cooker his apartment felt like with no cross-ventilation. His son Randall had said he’d bring over a couple of fans. Santos was still waiting. Knowing the way his son operated, he figured he’d get the fans just a little after he died from heat prostration.
Berna Aquino, leaning against the stop sign pole at the bottom of the stairs, called up to him. “Uncle, you saw all the cops up the street?”
“Yeah yeah,” Santos said. “This neighborhood not so good anymore. Too dangerous coming.”
Berna nodded. “Eh,” she said, “you know what happened to the ‘s’ on the Follies sign?”
Santos looked over at the cheesy banner that hung from his building, across the street, to the building opposite. At night it lit up, a string of bright lightbulbs advertising the Follies Theater down the street. He didn’t get why burlesque managed to hang on into the 50s, but it was still alive, if only just barely.
He shook his head. “I don’t know, Berna, but gotta be it’s the only letter da guy needed.”
Berna laughed. “Or maybe only get one act left.”
Santos had to laugh too. He reached for his beer. “Yeah yeah. That place gonna die, jes like the rest of all the old time stuff around here. Maybe each night one more letter gonna disappear, like one countdown to the end.”
Like me, he thought, waiting for those damn fans.
* * * * *
The word for today is
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