Detective Yamamoto came out of the first floor entrance. He joined Chan examining the carefully sliced up body. “Like death by 100 cuts,” he said, “yeah, Chinaman.”
He elbowed Chan in the ribs. “But in this part of town, could be jes one Flip with his butterfly knife.”
Chinatown had evolved into a whirl of races, and was not just a tidy couple square miles of Chinese only. Jammed in on all sides with everything from Koreans to Puerto Ricans, Filipinos to Portuguese, it had become a real chop suey of races. Throw in the servicemen, Chan thought, and you did have that rainbow effect, making Honolulu what had been deemed, mostly by the Hawai’i Visitors Bureau, a “melting pot.”
But on this job, you saw it was more like a frying pan. There was a lot of hatred between certain racial groups, and even worse, one generation of immigrants would sometimes go to war with the next over things as small as property lines or as big as new blood wanting to horn in on the lucrative criminal activities of the old guard.
Chan felt like he was melting in the midday sun, and having Yamamoto as a partner didn’t help him feel any cooler. Yamamoto was racist to the core. Sometimes his idea of humor made you think he liked only Japanese. He’d forbidden his daughter to marry anybody but a Japanese, and preferably a professional man, like a doctor or lawyer, who would make the couple rich.
As a result of this dictum, his daughter Kiku was still unmarried at 30, and she’d been forced to give up her the Okinawan boyfriend, the boy she’d met and fallen in love with at the University of Hawai’i. When he would see Kiku, it struck Chan that she had given up on dating, on the possibility of ever finding love again. He’d met her boyfriend, Kenny Kaneshiro, on several occasions, and thought he was a great guy. He could see in their eyes that the two were deeply in love, and every time Yamamoto made a crack about stupid Okinawan pig farmers, Chan despised him even more than usual. At this point all three of his children were involved with Haoles, so Yamaoto’s vile jokes about Haoles also pissed him off royally.
Still there was no doubt that Yamamoto was one of the best detectives at HPD, and working with him somehow created the best match of detective minds on the Force. The two had solved more cases than any other duo in the police department’s history. But “fuck this guy,” Chan often thought. Still the two clicked. It was an odd synergy.
“If you think this is bad,” Yamamoto said, elbowing him again, “try come inside and see what’s upstairs.”
Chan followed Yamamoto from the alley into the two-story wooden building. The downstairs, of course, was the pretty parlor, where the women would lounge, on display for the men. Selected, they would lead their John’s upstairs to one of the ugly little rooms. Usually there was just enough space for a small bed.
Yamamoto led him up. They walked down the hall to the last room on the right. Yamamoto gestured for him to enter.
Chan caught his breath. The walls of the room looked almost painted with blood, and there was a huge pool on the floor. The bedding had not been disturbed, but it was covered with its share of blood as well. He’d seen some disturbing murder scenes, but this one was right up there for sickening. Ironically, Chan had never liked the sight of blood. He amazed himself every time he came face to face with it. He’d sometimes gag mentally, but he’d never thrown up yet.
“No body,” Yamamoto said, “and that ain’t him in the alley. There’s too much blood here, and too much blood there for the guy to have been killed here and taken down there.”
“Not to mention there’s no blood trail between here and the alley,” Chan added. “So where’s the body?”
“I looked everywhere in dis fuckin’ Yobo whorehouse,” Yamamoto said, “and da boys checked around outside. Got nothing. Da body gone.”
Chan said, “To kill whoever it was and to get the body out without leaving any blood anywhere, the killer would have to had wrapped the corpse up somehow.”
He scanned the tiny room. The curtains were intact, the bedding looked to be all there. “It’s odd,” he said. “Looks like the bed wasn’t used. Could be they entered the room and either the woman or her client did the killing immediately.
“Where’s the bathroom?” he asked.
Yamamoto gestured back in the direction they’d just come.
The two men went down the hallway and entered the bathroom. Next to the parlor downstairs, it looked to be the biggest room in the house. In addition to a table and some lounge chairs, there were three ornate sinks in front of a long mirror with a gold gilted border, three enclosed toilets, and further back a shower and a galvanized bathtub with claw feet.
“The shower curtain’s missing,” Chan said, noting the rings on the rod.
“So the guy kills her,” said Yamamoto, “comes down here and grabs the curtain, wraps her up, then hauls the body down to his car.”
“But we can’t assume it’s a guy,” Chan said.
“Gotta be one guy,” Yamamoto said. “Gotta be strong to carry the body.”
“What if . . . [snip]
* * * * *
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