We sat quietly on Chan’s lanāi. The Honolulu city lights sparkled. Night flights came and went from the airport.
Chan said, “Hawai’i becoming a State hasn’t helped crime rates. Travel by jet replacing prop planes means we’re getting overrun. The more people, the more people break the law.”
It had been six years of accelerating progress now. I’d gone away to college in 1959, just a few weeks before the hoopla of Statehood signaled what felt like a checkered-flag race to the end of our sleepy little island. I’d come back to more hotels than I could count, what felt like more tourists than locals, and our beaches so crowded it seemed we were being forced off land into the ocean.
“Lanning,” he said, “you have your father now.”
“You do think it’s good, right?”
“You know, it’s odd. Before today, if you’d told me I’d find my dad, I would have said not only would that never happen, but that I couldn’t care less.”
I sipped on my beer and thought about the man who might be dying just a few feet away from me. “And now that I’ve found him, I can’t believe I’m actually worried I might lose him.”
“Losing a father,” said Chan, “is a terrible thing. I grew up with a dad who raised me in such a way that I thought I could never be as good a parent.”
“What did you say happened to him?”
“One day he said goodbye to me and my mom, left the house for work, and was never seen again. They found his car abandoned out at Ka‘ena Point.
“It was just after I graduated from UH. My wife and I were both headed for jobs teaching high-school English. It took me all of a month to shift gears and join the police academy.
“My dad’s partner, Wilbur Apana, who’s also my godfather, led the investigation. Everyone at HPD loved my dad. Everyone did what they could to help my Uncle Snuffy. That’s Apana’s nickname. Each search party came back with nothing. Every lead proved a dead end.
“I stormed through the academy, came out first in my class, and assumed I’d be able to jump right in and join my godfather in the search. Of course, I learned that rookie beat cops aren’t detectives.
“My godfather assured me he was giving the investigation everything he had, and I placed my faith in him. After all, he and my dad were considered to be the top two cops we had, so if anyone was going to find him, it was Uncle Snuff. But the case went cold, and by the time I made detective, the search had been officially given up.”
I said, “I met you godfather while I was waiting for you to come back to HPD to pick me up.”
Chan looked over at me. “Right,” Chan said, “he’s retired, but he still comes around. You want another beer?”
He went to get us two more. I walked over to the railing and gazed out at Honolulu’s growing up, big boy skyline. A jet flew overhead, coming in for a landing at the airport.
Then I heard some kind of grunting coming from below. I looked down in the backyard, squinting into the dark, and saw David’s son. He was moving around.
The Lieutenant came back.
“Your son,” I said, “what’s he doing down there?”
“Kung fu,” said Chan. “He’s been taking it since he was in elementary school. He’s one of the teachers now at Siu Lum Pai.”
We watched his son practice for a while.
“You know, David,” I said, “I never told Gi Yu that I might be my father’s son. When she came to Queen’s I just stood in the background. And you didn’t say anything about me to her, right?”
Chan was quiet for a long time. Finally, “I’ve been worried about information leaking in your father’s case. Gi found out he was there, and she knew it was her uncle. Now it might have been just a Punahou-Radcliffe-Harvard Law educated guess on her part that you were her cousin, but I have my doubts. Between the time your dad was shot, when he recognized you, said you were his son, too much that shouldn’t be known out there is.”
I wondered about what it might do to mention it, but I finally said, “I mean no offense, but you don’t think it could be Detective Stillman, do you?”
* * * * *
Aloha #WriterSaturday, I hope you’re well this weekend. Today’s #WritingPrompt is
Use it to inspire a piece of writing, short or long, any kind and style, and then post it as a comment below. I would love to read it : )