All Hallows’ Eve: The Unmaskings of Honolulu — Chapter 3 (excerpt)

Old man Apana stepped out onto the porch.  Turning back, he said, “David, you have to promise me you will do this.”

Chan looked at him, his mind racing.  He nodded.  “Good night, Uncle Snuffy.  I promise, I will carry on.”

The old man took the white handkerchief from his pocket, blew his nose, then repositioned the soggy thing to his pocket.  Turning, he moved slowly out to the street, got into his car and drove off.

Chan closed the door and felt the weight of both this world, and the other, drop on his shoulders.  At one point, he had actually decided to follow his wife into high-school teaching, but instead of taking that path, he’d made the radical decision, overnight, to join the police force.

Very hot water beat on Chan’s aching back.  There was entirely too much sitting in his new job at the Records Division.  Until now, he’d been perfectly satisfied with the work HPD had done on this case, now long cold case, led by the efforts of Wilbur Apana and Chief of Detectives, Kimo Kauhane.

But a promise was a promise.

Which is why only an idiot makes promises, he thought.  A wise man would say, “Let me get back to you on that.”

There would be sleep now.  Just get to bed.  The phone rang.  Chan listened for a while. He lay down.  The ringing went on and on.  Finally, against his better judgment, he sat up and picked up the receiver.

“David Chan?” asked a muffled voice on the other end.

It didn’t sound familiar.  “Yes.”

“Lieutenant Chan,” the muddy voice went on, “think carefully.  You’re about to do something you may regret.  You might want to consider carefully before you leap.”

“Who is this?”

“Sometimes it really is best to let sleeping dogs lie.  You are not an old man who lives in the past.  You are a younger man who may perhaps want to live into the future.”

The line went dead.

In his years with HPD Chan had been threatened by just about everybody and their grandmothers.  Convicted criminals and their families and friends.  Truly, the more threats made to you in this line of work, the better you knew you were doing your job.

Right.  Okay now there would be no sleep.  Chan got up and dressed.  As he drove down Pacific Heights Road and toward headquarters, he passed trick-or-treaters moving in droves.  Monsters, witches, superheroes, cowboys, princesses, and ghosts.  Ghosts. A white sheet with a couple of holes.  So simple.  The easiest, most perfect disguise.

The intersection of Beretania and Kalākaua: Britain meets the Merrie Monarch. The best thing about the new station at the top of Kalākaua and Beretania was plenty of parking.  One of the things that had irritated David Chan most about the Merchant and Bethel location downtown, especially after the hiring of officers picked up, was finding a parking space.  Only the Chief had a reserved spot.  Everyone else had to hunt and pray. For the time being at least, although hiring was steady, crime ever rising, that problem was solved.

One drawback, however, was that being downtown before had placed law enforcement on the edge of the Chinatown-ʻAʻala area, close the heart of Honolulu’s worst criminal infestation.  Iwilei and the waterfront too, also festering wound, were just a stone’s throw away.  In this new location, however, he sometimes felt like HPD had been appointed guardians of the Makiki Mormon Tabernacle and Central Union Church.  Makiki was more than a few steps away from being a lawless Wild West.  Waikīkī, on the other hand, well, that was a growing problem. But sitting at the gateway still meant a bit of a drive to get into the Waikīkī Jungle in an emergency. There had been talk of establishing police substations both in Chinatown and Waikiki. It would happen sooner rather than later.

Chan pushed through the station’s front door.  One thing about this job: It didn’t matter what time of the day or night, there were always plenty of people working.  The place was a hive of activity.  In fact, the Records Division was one of just a few offices unstaffed from 4:30 in the afternoon until 7:45 in the morning.  The regular hours were a big plus.  However, as Chan knew well and could easily see, the inbox was always working.  Paperwork was dropped off at a constant pace. round the clock.  Crime knew no holiday from forms needing to be filled out, and the Records Division knew no calm in taming the sea of departmental documents.

Chan spun the dial like a roulette croupier knowing where the ball would drop. He could be blindfolded and still open this door. He stood still for a moment, staring into the abyss of the fire proof vault.  The room was enormous, seemed limitless.  Someday someone would get lost in here.  The Department would have to launch a search and rescue mission.

After a minute, Chan pushed himself down the aisles of the cold case files, searching for the cabinets holding those from 1940.  Locating them, he opened the cabinet for June. Christ, there were a lot of unsolved cases.

Chan took a deep breath, exhaled.  Flipping slowly through the folders, he finally found the one he was looking for and pulled it. Exiting the vault, he closed the door, spun the dial, then walked to his desk.

Laying the file carefully on the blotter, Chan sat.  Was he really going to do this?  After all these years?  He stared at the reason he’d become a police officer in the first place.  His mind clouded over.  He closed his eyes. They burned in the afterglow of Jack Daniel’s and questionable decisions.

A voice brought him back.  “Lieutenant Chan, you’re in?  What’re you doing here at this time of night?”

Chan opened his eyes and looked at Officer Robert Stillman.  “Hey, Bobby, odds and ends.  Trying to clean things up.  You know. How you doing?”

Stillman dropped a set of papers in the tray on the front desk.  “This one,” he said, pointing to the report, “is a doozy.  This afternoon (snip)

* * * * *

Today’s word is


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