Bad Men (800)

Lieutenant Chan walked in, discussed something with Detective Stillman, then asked me if I needed a ride.

We drove down Beretania in silence.  After a while, I asked, “What makes you so sad about Byung Yu’s second wife being Japanese?”

He glanced at me.  “My partner, Victor Yamamoto.  The woman Byung Yu married.  Yu took Yamamoto’s wife from him.”

“What?  How could that happen?”

“He told her that if she didn’t leave Victor, he’d kill Victor.  I didn’t find that out until I spoke with her at Vic’s funeral.  Vic died thinking she’d cheated on him and left him by choice.  I’m glad I didn’t see her at their funeral?”

“Who’s funeral?”

“Her husband and his son.”

“Why would you go to their funeral?” I asked.

Chan laughed.  “Because I hated them so much, Lanning, I wanted to make sure they were dead.”

That kind of scared me.

He went on.  “And it was business.  I wanted to check out the crowd.   See which honchos were around.  Who I might arrest next.   Almost all the men and probably half the women were armed.  I could have busted hundreds of them for carrying, and I’ll bet most didn’t have permits either.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Can you imagine the number of forms I’d have to fill out?  And for only small fines?  I’d still be typing, and it’s been two years.”

He seemed calm again.

“And, of course, I wanted to rub Kang Yu’s nose in the death of his son and grandson.  They killed Victor, Lanning, and they killed my daughter too.  I thought my son as well, but he lived.  That family.  They all need to be shot every day.”

I didn’t think I should say anything else.

“I’m glad my wife didn’t live to see her daughter die.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know your wife had died.”

“Cancer, four years before my daughter died.”

Chan had been through the wringer.  And his father.  Missing.  Possibly the Yus.

He dropped me and took off for the station.  I punched the button and waited for the elevator.  The doors opened and a young Caucasian woman stood there holding a boy’s hand.  The little boy looked African American.

I stepped aside to let them out.

“Come in, come in!” the boy encouraged.  He must have been four or five.

The woman smiled sheepishly.  “Please don’t mind my son.  We’re not getting out.  He just likes to ride in the elevator.”

“Ah,” I said.

“Come in, come in,” the little boy repeated.

I stepped in.

“What floor?” he asked me.

“Six please.”

“I like to push the buttons,” he said.

The mom gave that smile again.

“I see,” I said.

“I go to school,” the boy said.

“Oh, that’s very good.”

“Someday I’m going to Punahou.”

“Barry, honey,” the woman said.  “Don’t forget we’re going away.  We don’t know if we’ll come back to Hawai‘i.  You might go to school somewhere else.”

“Oh no,” said Barry.  “I’m going to Punahou.”

Punahou.  What ambition.  The most elite private school in Hawai‘i.  This building was on the corner of Punahou and Beretania.  The school was three blocks up.

“Did you go to Punahou?” he asked.

“No, sorry.  I went to University High.”

“Oh, too bad.”

The mom shrugged her shoulders apologetically.

The doors opened and I stepped out.  The little boy waved and said, “Watch out for the bad men.”

I stopped and stared at him.  The doors closed.

The bad men?  I looked down the hallway in both directions.  I moved quickly toward the condo.  I could see the door was ajar.  My heart was beating so hard I thought I’d need CPR shortly.  Should I just run for a phone, call Lieutenant Chan two blocks away?

Just then a hand from inside pushed the door open.  I kind of screamed.  Not long, but loud enough.  Jerry stepped outside looking startled.

“Whoa, Lanning, don’t scare me like that.”

“Scare you like that?  You scared me, man.  Why’s the door open like that?”

“Just try-nuh get some cross-v going here.  Hot tonight.”

“Hey, Jerry, have you seen anybody walking around the hallway?  Bad guy looking types?”

“What?”

“You know, like Korean gangster types.”

“Ah, nooooo.”

“Damn, Jerry, some kid on the elevator told me to watch out for bad men.”

Jerry laughed.  “You mean that little kid named Barry?”

“Yes.  What’s so funny?”

“He rides the elevator all the time.  He tells everybody to watch out for bad guys.  It’s his thing, man.”

I went in and cracked a beer.

“Oh,” Jerry said, “I took a message from the UH English Department.  Appointment tomorrow morning.  Interview for a lecturer position.”

Not much pay, so not my first choice.  But when you’re desperate, you grab at anything.  It’s always good to have a Plan B.

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