All Hallows' Eve: The Unmaskings of Honolulu — Chapter 19 (excerpt)

For Halloween, the boys from Siu Lum Pai decided to meet up in Waikīkī around 7:00 p.m. at the Moana Hotel, in the banyan tree courtyard.

The tall Korean with the red hair finally had a job to finish.  He’d waited longer than either he or Kang Yu had planned, but Yu’s work, his kick-starting the reinvention of himself with the building out of his new real estate investment and development corporation, had needed more time than expected, which meant that he stayed in Honolulu for nearly a year.  He had ordered the death of David Chan III, son of Lieutenant David Chan Jr., with the stipulation that it happen only after he had returned to Korea.

David Chan III, then, had lived longer than planned, but while Yu worked to take steps to legitimize his enterprise, he kept turning the old adage over in his mind about how revenge is best served cold.

Red had been told to leave the body where it lay.  Yu wanted it found.  In an ideal world, he wanted the son found by the father.  Once Red knew that Yu had returned to Korea, he decided that Halloween night was as good as any to do the job..

Truth be told, over that long year, Red had grown much less enamored of his profession.  He and Mrs.  Amberson had talked a lot about seeing the world together.  They were very much old time lovers now. And that love had changed him. He’d turned down every job that had come up during the year.

Red sat in his car outside David Chan’s house, waiting for the youngest Chan to come home.  He figured there would be no more appropriate place to leave the body than in the home.  It was the perfect place for the father to find it. But . . .

But then the unexpected happened.  David Chan III came home all right, in a car packed with his friends.  While Chan ran inside, the young men sang and chattered, bantering with trick-or-treaters and their parents passing by.

Finally, David Chan III emerged from the house dressed in his Siu Lum Pai uniform, a black mask propped up on his forehead.  He jumped into the loaded car, and off they went down Pacific Heights Road.

Maybe some other night? Well. Reluctantly, Red followed.  After a while it became obvious to him that they were headed for Waikīkī, party central on Halloween night.

He parked a few stalls away from the young men, then watched as they emerged from the car, all six wearing identical kung fu uniforms.  He watched as Chan lowered his black mask over his eyes.  Unfortunately, so did all of them.

But Red was an experienced tracker.  It was part of his job.  The odd circumstance of identical outfits and masks, while it surprised him, was only a minor blip on his radar.  He marked Chan by his height and width, compared to the others, and he followed the six knowing full well which one he’d have to take care of.

Kalākaua Avenue, as well as many of the side streets, were already alive with raucous activity.  Drinking had slowly traveled from bars and hotels out onto the sidewalks, and was sneaking into the streets as the revelers grew more raucous.

The six approached the Moana Hotel and then ran up the front stairs.  Red followed.  They walked across the hall and down the stairs to the bayan tree courtyard which was itself a sea of bodies.  What Red saw made him stop and think.  It looked like the entire Siu Lum Pai group were there.  Maybe thirty of them.  They were all laughing and jumping around, all in their black uniforms and their black masks.

Red took a table off to the side and watched Chan as he moved.  When the waiter came to ask him if he wanted something, Red could barely her him, waved him away, and in the instant the waiter blocked his view, Red lost track of which one was David Chan III.

Was this the sign of a bad night to do this? Try as he might, and with all the movement and talking and laughter, Red could not locate his target.  And then they began to leave, swarmed past him, moved up to the lobby, and poured out into the street.

Red was right behind them.  But, well, maybe another time.  And then as luck would have it, Chan lifted his mask and turned back up the stairs.  Red pulled off to the side, watched Chan run down the hallway toward the men’s restroom.

It would be the ideal place.  If his heart were still in the job, the old Red would have gloried in this stroke of good luck.  But the new Red followed Chan half-heartedly down the hallway.  Closing the gap, he came close enough behind Chan that the courteous young man held the door open for him.

Red walked in and took the far urinal.  Chan took the first one.  The restroom was like the grave compared to the wall of noise outside.  Red scanned the room, making sure it was empty.  Satisfied that they were alone, he fingered the knife in his pocket. Did he really want to do this?

Chan zipped up and turned toward the sink. Red shook his head, then quickly walked up behind him, zeroing in on the spot where he would need to slip the blade through the back and into the heart.

And then a man, about Chan’s height, wearing a red mask, burst through the door with a gun.  Chan stopped dead, as did Red.  Red pushed Chan over against the wall.  The man took aim at Red and pulled the trigger, but Red was ahead of the man’s finger reflex, dove forward, did a neat roll, and came up standing in front of his assailant.

Before the man could pull the trigger again, Red grabbed the gun, twisting it from the smaller man’s hand with ease, then grabbed him by the throat and pushed him up against the wall.

“What are you doing?”

The man said nothing.

Red let the man go and took a few steps back.  This really is a sign, he thought.  Time to get out of this business.  He cocked the revolver.

“Why are you doing this?”

Again nothing.

“My friend, when I shoot at someone this close I can’t miss.”

The man broke.  “I’m supposed to take out you and him,” he said, indicating Chan with a nod.

“Who hired you?”  Red asked.

“Come on,” the man said, “you’re a smart guy.  Can’t you figure it out?”

Red was truly puzzled.  “No, I can’t figure it out.”  He raised the gun, leveling it a foot away from the man’s forehead.  “Tell me.”

Silence.

Maybe, the old Red suddenly piped up in his head, it might be easier to just kill this guy.

The man saw that thought in Red’s eyes and knew what was coming.  In one quick motion he slid for the door, reached and pulled it open.

A gun fired from the noisy corridor and the bullet caught him in the chest, throwing him back against the charging Red.

Red shoved the man aside and dashed into the hall, ready to fire.  Whoever the gunman was, it looked as if he were gone.

The man lay unconscious on the floor, but he was still breathing.  Red looked over at Chan, who was frozen against the bathroom wall.  He stooped down and pulled off the mask.  

“Dammit!” He looked over at Chan. “Kid, get out of your clothes.”

Chan stared at him.  “Move it, kid.  People may be coming in here any second.  I don’t want to have to kill anyone else.  Strip!”

Chan had his clothes off in record time.  Red undressed the man quickly, tossing the shirt and pants to Chan.  “Put these on.”

Just as quickly, as if he did this all the time, Red dressed the man.

“You got a wallet?” Red asked.

“Ah, yes, I do.”

“Give it to me.”

David Chan handed over his wallet.

Red stuffed it in the man’s pocket.

Then, swiftly, the reluctant assassin pummeled the man’s face with the butt of the gun.  Several strokes opened cuts above the eyes, broke the nose, and battered the lips.  A few teeth flew.  The final heavy blows were meant to break the cheek bones.  Red stopped.  It looked as if the man would be barely recognizable now.

He felt the man’s pulse.  Nothing.

Red stood.  Turning to Chan, he said, “You better move your ass and come with me if you want to live.”

Peering out into the hallway, Red saw no one.  The two walked quickly down the hallway and to the stairs leading out into the street.  It was (snip)

* * * * *

Today’s word is

party

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

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