All Hallows' Eve: The Unmaskings of Honolulu — Chapter 11 (excerpt)

“Uncle Snuff, why so shocked?  We all knew there’d be a vacuum to fill once Byung and Jason were dead.  Richard Han lost the battle.  It’s obvious we should’ve questioned Tommy Choi first. I’m sure they did.”

Apana simply stared at Chan.

The phone rang.  “Hello?”

“David, I’m glad you’re still up.  This is Hank Lee.  The boys decided to do a wider sweep of the area.  They found another victim.  Male.  Same condition.  One year at most.  They took his hands too.”

Chan thanked him and hung up.  “Uncle Snuffy, you’ll never guess what.”

The older man appeared stone-cold sober now.  He leaned forward on the sofa.

“They found a second body at Mānoa Falls.  Been there a year at most as well.  What do you think?  Maybe Tommy Choi?”

Apana shook his head vigorously. “I have absolutely no idea, David,” he said.  “This whole thing is a mystery to me.  You know I’ve been away for nearly a year.”  He took out his handkerchief and wiped his brow.

Chan picked up Richard Han’s missing person file. He read further.  “Hah!  Uncle Snuff, sure enough, the first person they looked for was Choi.  It says they ended up classifying him a missing person, too.  If I’d gone through all the missing person files, I’m sure I would have found it.  Hey, I think the identities of these two are pretty much solved.  But we’ll find out for sure tomorrow.”

Wilbur Apana was perspiring profusely in the cool night air.  He blew his nose.

Chan said, “Dumped in Mānoa, not two miles from Byung Yu’s house.  If he’d been alive, it would implicate him, no?”

Apana shook his head.  “David, these are dead soldiers.  The war would only start once both Byung and Jason were gone.  And only a complete idiot would dump bodies close to home anyway.  You know the Yus. Anybody with half a brain who lives on an island knows the ocean’s the only way to disappear bodies.”

Just then the doorbell rang.  Chan checked his watch.  It was nearing 11:00.  “Can’t be trick or treaters, huh?  Geez, I should’ve kept the light off.”

He got up and went out to the front door.  He opened it. There were two very big ghosts standing there, big white sheets with holes for eyes.

The ghost on the right was holding a can with a slot in it.

“Trick-or-treat for UNICEF,” they said in tandem, their voices down in the baritone range.

Chan looked at them askance.  “Hey, guys, you’re kind of late, aren’t you?

“Sorry, Sir,” the left ghost said, “but a lot of us didn’t show up, so our Pastor assigned us two routes each.  We’re doing this real late, but we gotta do it.”

Chan was still curious.  “You,” he pointed to the ghost on the right, “what do the letters of UNICEF stand for?”

Without missing a beat, the ghost said, “It’s the United Nations’ International Children’s Fund.”

“Ah, no, not quite,” Chan said.  “I think you forgot something.”

“Oh,” the left ghost said, “Oh, yeah.  He left out Emergency.  It’s E for Emergency.”

“Oh, sorry,” ghost number one said.  “Emergency is right.”

“Okay, I believe you.”  Chan pulled out his wallet, folded a five, and pushed it through the slot.  “I’m glad to contribute to a worthy cause.  Hope you guys get done soon.”

He shut the door and went back into the living room.  His godfather was reading the Han file.

“A couple of ghosts collecting,” Chan said. “See anything interesting in that file?”

Apana looked up at him.  “It says one of the detectives involved is that guy who’s now in White Collar.  His name’s McGarrett.  You know him?”

“Yeah, Uncle.  He was pegged to replace you on the Hawaiʻi Four-Nine squad.  He’s a hard-charger.  So now it’s Kimo Kauhane on top, me, McGarrett, and a new guy, Chin Ho Kelly.  He came aboard to fill Victor’s position.  They actually head-hunted Kelly from the Sheriff’s Division.  He’s an ass-kicker.  My guess is someday he’ll head up the 49ers.  He’s a good man, like you, Uncle.”

Apana shifted in his seat, looked away then back, and closed his eyes.  He said, “David, when I said earlier that my father told me to come here tonight, I meant it.  He’s always in my head.  Even more so when I’ve had a few.  It’s a burden.  I think you of all people know what I mean.  It’s like having a double conscience.  For you triple. When I was sitting by Pop’s grave tonight, I could hear him clearly.”

“I still don’t get it, Uncle Snuff.  Why are you here, and what did he want you to do here?”

Apana opened his eyes.  “I’m no longer on the force, David, but you need to use it, use the force, to . . . “

“To what, Uncle?”

Apana stood up and went to the wide plate-glass window. Looking out at the Honolulu city lights, he said, “I have done things, David. Terrible things. So many things I’m ashamed of. Things my father might have, well, might even have killed me for doing. Tonight he told me to tell you that you should use the resources of the force to look into your father’s case. Do a thorough job, David. It will pay off. I abandoned the case, abandoned your father, my best friend. I never should have done that. I, I bowed to, well, to other pressures. Horrible pressures, David. I betrayed the force, your father, and you, David.”

He turned from the window.  Tears were running down his face.  “David, I believe that if you pursue your father’s case, you, the most dogged of detectives in HPD, will solve it.  I was never was able to do that.  Never could do that.”

Chan looked at him, then down at the other missing person file.  David Chan senior was, in fact, missing.  It was one of the cold case files that Chan had refused to examine.  Ever.

“Uncle, tonight, after I promised you I’d look into my dad’s case, I got a phone call.  Someone told me that it might be dangerous to look into it.  A threat, or maybe a warning. Do you think that’s so?  Is it dangerous?  I mean, is it any more dangerous than the kind of work we all do every day?  How could that be?”

Wilbur Apana put his handkerchief to his nose and blew.  “This is a mission of great purpose, and I believe you might regret some of what you find.  Sometimes, David, sleeping dogs should be left alone, but now you must rouse them, no matter the consequences.  My failed duty has fallen upon you, has become your obligation.”

His uncle’s voice was a bit muffled by the handkerchief.  It hit him like a brick. Chan knew who’d called him.  But why would Apana ask him to pursue the case and then call him to tell him, basically, not to pursue it?

Chan suddenly felt ill.  “Uncle Snuffy, please tell me the truth.  Do you work for Kang Ho Yu?”

Apana put his handkerchief in his pocket.  “David,” he said, “if I worked for a scumbag like Yu, I think I would kill myself before I’d admit it.”

Chan thought about this odd answer.  “Uncle, please tell me plainly, does Yu pay you for services you perform?”

Apana began walking for the front door.  “David,” he said, “please consider this.  If what you say is true, do you think I would encourage you to look further into your father’s case?”

“Uncle, what are you saying?  Are you saying my dad’s disappearance is related to Kang Yu?  Okay, but that still doesn’t answer my question.  Do you or do you not work for him?”

Wilbur Apana opened the door and stepped outside.  “David, I (snip)

* * * * *

Today’s word is

collecting

Use it in a piece of writing, or to inspire a piece of writing, and then post that piece as a comment below. I’d love to read it : )

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