The Meaning of Aloha (A Lieutenant David Chan Mystery, Chapter 3)

As with Mr. Martìnez, Mr. Flores’s room was tidy, everything packed, and there was an airline ticket indicating that he’d come in on a different flight from L.A. two days before, but that he’d scheduled to go back to L.A. on the same flight as Mr. Martìnez.

The situation at the Hawaii Surfrider proved different.  When Chan and Stillman entered the room there was a ticket for Juan Pérez to fly out that night on the same flight as the other two, but there was a pile of clothes and personal items dumped on the floor.  No suitcase could be found.

“An empty suitcase, right?” Bobby said.  “Someone wouldn’t leave here with an empty suitcase.”

Chan shook his head.  “No.  Whoever came in here needed that suitcase to carry something out.  Something else that was in this room.”

“But what?” asked Bobby.

Chan exhaled.  “That, Bobby, is the sixty-four thousand dollar question.  That’s why we get the big money.”

“Why do you think,” said Bobby, driving them back to headquarters, “the taco trio came in on different flights, but were leaving on the same one?”

Chan turned to look out the passenger side window.  They were passing Ala Moana Shopping Center, nearly ten years old and still holding the title of the largest shopping center in the U.S.  He thought about all the tourists, how they pumped money into the State economy.  How so many locals needed their dollars to work and survive.”

“Bobby,” Chan said, turning to face forward, “you knew my partner Vic Yamamoto, right?”

“Some.”

“I loved him as if he were my brother.  I’d trust him with my life, but there was one thing that always bothered me.”

“What’s that?”

“Vic wasn’t what I’d call full of aloha for many people.  He pretty much despised every ethnic group under the sun, and he didn’t care for most Japanese either.  I had to listen to him run down Koreans constantly, because we were always dealing with the Yu syndicate.  He knew my wife was Korean, therefore my kids were Korean as well.  He’d say they were exceptions.  He would go off on Filipinos, on Chinese, on Haoles, on Hawaiians, you name it.”

Chan was silent.

Finally Bobby said, “And so?”

“And so,” Bobby, “I just realized I never heard him say anything about Mexicans.”

“That’s good, right?”

“That’s not my point,” said Chan.  “When you call our three victims a taco trio, you’re reminding me of how the whole idea of aloha, of how we look at and treat and speak about people, especially people of different ethnicities than ours, well, the way this world is going, I think a more kindness is called for.  This world turns shittier with each day we supposedly progress.  We have to try harder to be kind.”

There was no heat in his voice.  It was the same voice he used when he talked to his son David the Third about something he wanted to sink in.

Stillman was quiet the rest of the trip.  As they were getting out of the car, he said, “I’m sorry, boss.  I didn’t think.”

“Eh,” said Chan, “No worries.”

“No no no,” said Stillman.  “I don’t talk like that intentionally.  I’m not prejudiced.”

Chan patted him on the shoulder.  “It’s funny,” he said.  “I tell myself the same thing.  I think there are loads of well-intentioned, very liberal-minded people who say they aren’t prejudiced.  But I have this feeling that if I let myself go, dropped my guard, found myself in a certain situation, that I might find out I’m one of the most racist bastards I know.”

Stillman stepped back alarmed.  “So you’re saying I’m a racist even though I say I’m not.”

Chan shook his head.  “No, Bobby, I mean to say that maybe deep down I am.  Given the right circumstances, I fear a lot of people would allow submerged prejudices and hatreds to boil to the surface and overflow.  If the time were right, if the tone of government, say, and were synched just right, just wrong, we might finally find out just how much hatred this world has been holding down.”

“David, I totally agree.  I don’t wanna find out I’m one of those people.  I’m definitely gonna try to be more aware.  I want to be one of those people who tries to be kinder.”

Chan opened the door into the air-conditioned haven.  “Me too, Bobby, let’s try to do it together.”

Chief of Detectives, Delbert Kauhane came over to them.  “David, that guy, the owner of the warehouse where we found the Mexicans, he’s in Queen’s.  Beaten up pretty badly.  You two head over there and see what’s up.”

David Chan thought about how much his dad had liked Conrad Jones.  Thinking about it made him ill.

* * * * *

Aloha #WriterWednesday. Happy Hump Day. Today’s #WritingPrompt is

prejudice

Use it to inspire a piece of writing, and then post that piece on your site and link back to me, or simply leave it as a comment below. I’d love to read it. I’m not just saying that. I mean it : )

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