The three wove their way steadily through the beautifully maintained battleground.
“Another one here,” said the other officer.
Chan was the first to reach the steps leading up to the front lānai. Slowly pushing the front door open, he moved into the main living room. There, he sitting with his head tilted back over a low-backed chair, she slumped on the sofa, Chan recognized Tong Chee Goo and his wife Qing. Both had been shot, each apparently once. Several other chairs were overturned.
Chan signaled for both officers to check upstairs. Mrs. Goo, who had always given the children special good-luck candy and little toys after a meal, looked to be unarmed, but a .22 pistol sat loosely in Mr. Goo’s hand.
Chan moved into the kitchen. Alfred, the Goo’s oldest son, and head cook, was dressed in his white T-shirt and apron, as though he’d come from the restaurant. He lay face up near the back door, his glassy eyes looking up at nothing anymore.
Sticking his head out the door, Chan saw another body. At the far edge of the lot, he noticed an open gate. The two officers came in and reported they’d found no one upstairs. Chan asked them to go get the morgue and forensics people, then stepped out and down the stairs.
Still looking for bodies but finding none, Chan made his way to the open rear gate. Again using caution, although he sensed none was needed at this point, he moved through the gate.
What he found was almost as surprising as the revelation of the immense garden. Under a lengthy corrugated iron roof running 50 yards in each direction sat lines of parked cars. It was a garage with plenty of equipment, tools, and racks of tires. Strange, however, was that every car, as he walked along the line and could see, was beat up to varying degrees with dents and scrapes, but when he popped the hoods on a few, he noticed that the engines were sparkling clean and seeming in tiptop shape.
Looking into many of them, he noticed the keys were in the ignitions. Using his handkerchief, he got into one car and started it up. The engine fired up instantly and the motor hummed. Chan walked down the line, picked another car at random, got in and repeated the process. Then another car. They all sounded as if they were well cared for, but again, it was only on the mechanical side. For looks they were not great.
A narrow driveway ran all along the length of the garage. A high wooden fence began at one end and ran all the way to a wooden gate at the other end. Chan walked all the way to the enclosed end, then all the way back to the gate. He swung it open and found he was on at the end of a residential street. He figured he was three or maybe four blocks makai, or oceanside, of King Street.
Chan closed the gate and walked back down the row. He was looking at two-dozen vehicles, all different makes, models, colors, all in top mechanical condition, but all in need of body work. And then it hit him. None of them had license plates. He popped the hood of one and looked. The vehicle identification number had been filed off. He checked another. The same. So were these all stolen cars? If so, why not steal them, strip them, and sell the parts? This was no chop-shop.
Scanning the workbenches, Chan could see that the tools were high-quality. No expense had been spared to keep these vehicles in perfect mechanical condition. Why not do the same with the bodies?
When he stepped back into the garden, the activity level had increased significantly. Police and Lab people were all over the place, and bodies were gradually being transported outside.
Chan flagged down photographer Jimmy Doi and asked him to get photos of all the garage areas. He wanted forensics to get prints, and he also wanted a complete list of makes and models. Chan was also curious if all the cars’s VINs had been removed.
Making his way back to the restaurant, Chan found Chief of Detectives, Delbert Kauhane, on hand. For a killing ground this rife with bodies, he figured the brass would show up.
Chan informed his boss of his findings.
“Damn shame,” said Kauhane. “I’ve known the Goos for years. Hell, I think everybody knows them. My family used to bring me here when I was a kid, and I’ve been eating here ever since.”
“Yeah,” said Chan. “I have a feeling plenty of people on this island know what they know about Chinese food because they’ve eaten it here.”
Kauhane nodded. “But you know what I’ve got a bad feeling about, David?”
Now Chan nodded, then shook his head. “They were like Santa and Mrs. Claus. And now we’re going to find out that they were a couple of serious criminals.”
“And with their son dead,” Kauhane said, “you know the quality of the food is probably never going to be as good.”
Chan forced a chuckle. “Well,” he said, “their daughter Nina is a cook too, over at Lau Yee Chai. Maybe she’ll come back here and try to hold the place together.”
And just as Chan said this, Nina Goo came running up the sidewalk.
* * * * *
Aloha #WriterSaturday. Today’s #WritingPrompt is
Mr. and Mrs. Claus
Use it to inspire a piece of writing of any length, any style, and then post that piece on you site and link back to me, or simply leave it as a comment below. I’d love to read what you write : )