All Hallows’ Eve: The Unmaskings of Honolulu — Chapter 13 (excerpt)

It did not surprise him, this sea of black suits, pouring out of the Methodist church doors.  The limos and Mercedes were piled up in the parking lot and all along Ke’eaumoku from Nehoa on down to Wilder and the freeway below that.

Christians.  Unbelievable.  Well, if they really believed in Hell, they’d all better get ready for a hot time in the old eternity town real soon, he thought.

It crossed his mind that if he were to do an impromptu search for unpermitted weapons, he might turn up a lot of unregistered iron.  How stupid could these guys be?  He mused for a moment about firing one shot across the bow to see if everyone would draw at once, firing away willy-nilly to help HPD knock down the criminal population by half in one fell swoop.

Nah, he thought, that would be a Chan-ism mistake.  How did that one go, one of the ones he’d heard his tipsy Grandfather and Mr. Derr Biggers come up with that night long ago on the veranda of the Punchbowl home?  Something like, Man who shout fire in theater when there is no fire, likely to be only one burned.  His grandfather had said that one stunk well enough to be used.

Yeah, with his luck, these guys would all be sharp-shooters.  He’d fire his shot, and they’d all hone in on him, leaving his corpse a beautiful piece of Swiss cheese.  He pictured all their bullets hitting him at once.  You know, some days at the office, when you say to yourself, hey, I’d like to pack it all in already, well, he wasn’t quite at that point yet.  If anyone was going to shoot him, it would be him.

Through the droning service, he spent most of his time watching the back of the head of Kang Yu.  When Yu’s daughter got up to do the eulogy for her brother and nephew, he could only think how lucky this poor woman was to live in New York and not have to smell the revolting stink of her family here in Honolulu.  Well, what was left of them now.  Not to mention being even farther removed from the father in Korea who reeked to the highest heaven of them all.

She was a lawyer, for God’s sake.  How could a lawyer tolerate a family of criminals like this one?  No wonder she lived so far away.  Could she even practice law in Honolulu, a place where her family broke every law on the books?

When the service was done, he waited for the line of people offering condolences to Yu, his wife, his daughter and her husband.  He lined up last.

He gave small nods to the daughter, Gi, and the son-in-law.  They would only know of him if Yu had mentioned him to them, and his face would not be familiar to them.  He paused in front of Yu’s wife, said nothing, but looked at her face.  It always struck him that with her thick make-up she resembled a Korean Boris Karloff as Fu Manchu. The years were not being kind to her in that regard.  She always gave him the creeps.  She, of course, recognized him and turned from the line, taking her daughter and son-in-law with her.

He waited for the person in front of him to finish off his so-sorry and prayers-for-you.  When the man had finished kissing Yu’s blood-stained ass, Chan reached for the Godfather’s hand before Yu could turn to him.

Yu stiffened.  “Why, Mr. Chan, how good of you to come.”

Chan smiled, and gripped Yu’s hand a little harder.  “Mr. Yu, it’s good to see you back in town, and,” he nodded toward the two caskets, “it’s good to see your family here too.”

Yu’s lip curled.  Chan squeezed a bit tighter.  Yu was losing feeling in his hand.

“Pretty nice crowd,” Chan said.  “I was wondering if any big wigs would show.  But I mean, if they’re smart enough to be working for you, well, then they’d be too smart to come to this little shindig.”

He would have loved to hear tiny bones in Yu’s hand snap.

“With all the heat your buddies are packing, it’s a wonder the church didn’t spontaneously combust.  You know, I thought about doing a little roust for unpermitted firearms, but I didn’t want to kill the mood of the party.”

Kang Yu made a small move to get his hand back, but Chan would not let go.

“Here,” Chan said, giving Yu an envelope.  “I didn’t want to drop this in the box out front.  I wanted to give it to you personally.”

Chan wondered how many thousands of dollars were sitting in the box at the reception table, all offered up to appease, bribe, and otherwise curry favor with their Godfather.

“Why, David,” Yu said, his hand nearly dead, “I believe I need money from you like –”

Chan interrupted him.  “Like you need a hole in the head?”

Yu said nothing.  Stared.  Hard.  Hot.

“It’s not money, Kang.  I wouldn’t dream of insulting you.  No, I want you to think of it as a kind of mirror.  You know, like who’s the fairest of them all.  It’ll always tell you it’s you.  Just like the movie.  Just like magic.  It’s you.”

Chan managed a smile.  “It strikes me, Mr. Yu, as I look at your face now, how much your late son and grandson resemble you.  A couple of real dead-ringers.”

Yu had given up trying to extricate his hand.  The vice could not be budged.

Chan gave Yu a look the old man knew well from dealing first with Chan’s grandfather, and then with his father.  It looked like the face of –

Chan pumped Yu’s hand once more, dropped it, and walked away.  Yu shook his hand vigorously, trying to bring the blood back into it.  The pins and needles gradually subsided.

He looked at the envelope.  It said simply, The Yu Family.

A mirror?  He opened the flap and pulled out the contents.  There were two forensics photos, head-shots of his son and grandson.

The first photo was of his grandson, Jason.  His face resembled raw hamburger, the result of the repeated blows Sergeant Yamamoto had administered, methodically pulverizing it, breaking the bone down into meal. It seemed to be a mask made of rubber.

The second photo was of his son, Byung, sitting at his desk, eyes wide open, staring straight ahead at the camera, a very neat hole in the very middle of his forehead where a bullet had found its mark.

Yu’s face contorted in rage.  He crumpled Chan’s gift.

If only (snip)

* * * * *

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