It surprised no one, given Victor Yamamoto’s active dislike for people, that the church was nearly empty. Present were his mother and father, a smattering of other relatives, definitely not all of them, and a few other HPD officers who knew how good a policeman he had been, even if he was hard to live with.
Everyone except David Chan had been surprised that his wife, Chieko, was not there in the reception line with Victor’s sister, mother and father.
At the outset of the ceremony, the minister announced that Chieko had taken very ill and could not attend, but Chan had already explained to Kimo Kauhane and Wilbur Apana about Victor’s vasectomy, Chieko’s surprise pregnancy announcement, and the rage boiling up into the following day that had driven Yamamoto to chase down Byung Yu.
Afterwards, while the three ate together in the reception hall, Apana asked if there would be a replacement for Sergeant Yamamoto, or if the Hawai’i 4-9 would remain a trio. Kauhane replied that they were looking for a replacement, but they wanted to take their time, given the elite nature of the group.
“We don’t want to settle for just anyone,” Kauhane said. “We want the cream of the cream for this group. There are a couple guys we’re vetting.”
Chan said, “Victor is going to be hard to replace. They don’t make them like him very much anymore.”
“He was indeed special,” Apana said. “Viciously loyal to principle and the badge. How on earth did Chieko get hooked up with that bastard Yu? Abandoning Victor for that asshole? It seems impossible.”
“Yeah,” Kauhane said, “What are the odds. Hey, David, are you sure you want to take on your daughter’s case as well those of Victor and the two Yus?” Kauhane asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Chan. “I can handle it.”
“Aren’t you worried that you might be too emotionally involved to look at the facts of her case objectively?”
“Not at all.” Little did the other two know how minimally Chan planned to look into any of the cases. Sure, he’d show all the signs of diligent investigation, but he knew the Yus had killed his daughter and his partner, so with that dear father and son dead, Chan considered all four cases closed. In his book.
If, technically, all four cases remained unsolved on the books, so what? Maybe the facts were too sketchy, the leads too tough to find, the theories to abstruse for humble Detective Chan. There’d been a point in his career where the way he was acting, this cavalier attitude, would have bothered him a great deal. Not so anymore. Not really.
“So what about this opium shipment?” Chan asked. Because he’d stopped to listen to his Chief of Ds explain that Yu’s shipment was coming in and that he wanted the 49ers to handle it, Chan had been delayed getting to his partner, his call for help, and for this he could not forgive himself. Who knew but that arriving sooner might have saved his partner’s life?
“David,” Kauhane said, “I meant to tell you, Snuffy and I will handle that shipment. If our new guy comes on, we’ll use hm too. Right now, your plate is full to overflowing.”
Chan nodded. “Thanks, Boss. And I really have to finish up the arrangements for Sara’s service next week. I appreciate the two of you handling it.”
The following Monday the church was absolutely jammed with Chans. Besides David’s three younger sisters, Dora, Doris, and Delores, their husbands, and their children – each sister had a boy and a girl – there were his father’s 12 brothers and sisters, and all of their children, grandchildren, and now many great-grandchildren.
Chan used to pride himself on attempting to stay on top of all the names. It was a challenge to rival some of his toughest cases. He’d given up as the growth began to multiply exponentially.
He thought about how it had been when only his grandfather and grandmother, his dad David Senior, and his siblings, and his, David Junior’s generation of Chan’s, had been the sum total of the clan. That had already meant a sardine-packed house up on the slopes of Punchbowl for family parties. Even if his Grandfather’s house had still existed, fitting all of these descendants would have been impossible.
It was just as well that, nowadays, the various strands had broken off into their own sub-cluster celebrations, each branch unit holding their own parties. The only time all of them would see all the others these days was at funerals or at the annual all-family reunion at Ala Moana Park.
In the chapel, David and his son, David Chan III, formed a two-man reception line. They did their best recalling everyone’s name, settled for silence rather than bungling an identity if necessary, accepted all the condolences dry-eyed, and then sat down exhausted for the service.
Time seemed to fly by, and before he knew it, David and his son were standing again to receive more condolences from those who’d not been able to get to them before the service began.
The end was in sight. David III shook his last hand, passed the person on to his father, and made for the huge platters of food outside.
Chan shook the man’s hand, thought he looked familiar but could not place him, so could not even attempt a name, and then sat back down in the quiet of the morturary chapel. Now he wept quietly for his daughter, there, alone.
“David, please excuse me,” a woman said.
Fortunately, the mortuary had supplied them with a box of tissue. David grabbed a sheet, blotted his eyes quickly, then looked up.
“Wha . . . “
“I know, I’m sorry, but I needed to come.”
David stood and faced Chieko Yamamoto, Victor’s wife. “I, uh, thank you for coming.”
“May we sit?” she asked.
The two sat side by side.
“This was a very beautiful service.”
Chan had not heard much of it at all. Even when his son had given the eulogy, he had difficulty listening. All he could think about were his daughter and his wife, pictured them when they were so much younger and stronger.
“Ah, yes,” Chan said. “It was. You . . . “
“I know,” Chieko said. “How did I dare to show up? That’s what you’re thinking?”
Chan actually hadn’t been thinking that. “Why didn’t you come to Victor’s funeral?”
“David, I have something to tell you. Something of which I need to unburden myself. I have done a terrible thing, David. I felt so guilty when Victor died. You would not believe how horribly I felt. I nearly died.”
“Right,” Chan said. “Died. Like Victor, huh?” His temper flared a bit.
“Please, David, don’t make this any harder than it is. I, I, I’d been having an affair with Byung Yu.”
David scoffed. “Hey, surprise, Lady. That’s not news. Victor knew that.”
“Yes, I know he did.”
Chan looked at her, stunned.
“The day after I told him I was pregnant, when I came home that night, Victor had left a letter telling me he knew all of it.”
“Chieko,” Chan said heatedly, “Victor went after Byung Yu because of that. He died because of that.”
“I thought I’d be safe, at least for a while. It was so easy to pass it off on faulty birth control. I never considered he might have had a vasectomy. He looked so surprised. I thought he was happy. Until I read his note the following night. I started to worry about him.”
Chan was working up to full-blown anger.
“Started to worry about him? Hey. You should have started worrying about him like when you two decided to get married, don’t you think?”
Chieko had never seen David Chan in a rage. “I think I’d better go.”
“Yeah, right, me too. I think you’d better leave.”
She stood up. “David, I loved your daughter so much. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Chan’s face was a fiery red. This comment checked him.
“I knew it would be hard to talk to you here, so I’ve written down what I needed to tell you. What you need to know about me and Victor, and about Byung Yu.”
She handed him an envelope. “It’s not what you think, David. I can’t express to you how much I loved Victor. David, do you think any other woman on this planet could fall in love with Victor Yamamoto? Well I did, David. And I never stopped loving him. I never will stop.”
Chan’s anger left him as quickly as it had come.
Chieko turned and walked away.
He watched her exit, then opened the envelope.
“Dear David,” the note read, “I did not know who Byung Yu was until he approached me at the club. We talked briefly. I could tell what he was thinking. I tried to give him the cold shoulder.
“The next time he came in, he ordered my boss to send me back to the office where he was waiting for me.
“He asked me if I knew who he was. I told him I did not. He announced his identity as if everyone should know who he was. He said he was attracted to me. I told him I was married. He said he knew that. He said he knew that Victor was my husband.
“That scared me. I wanted to get away from him. Then he said that he wanted me as one of his wives. I said no. I absolutely refused.
“David, he then said he wasn’t asking me. He said, ‘You wouldn’t want me to have your husband killed, would you?’
“I swear, David, I did not know (snip)
* * * * *
Today’s word is
Use it to inspire a piece of writing and then post the piece as a comment below. I would love to read it : )