The Case of the Strong Swimmer, Chapter 2, Is It Me? (A Lieutenant David Chan Mystery)

With David vouching for me, I was released into his custody.  After I’d told him everything, he said, “Lanning, did anyone else know you’d be housesitting?”

“Not that I know of.  Do you think this has anything to do with me?”

David shook his head.  “I don’t know.”

“Do you think that someone might want to bring me an unconscious person and then kill him?”

David laughed.  I didn’t see what was funny.

“Lanning, that’s not quite the way I’d put it.  I was thinking more of someone wanting, maybe, to frame you for murder.”

“What?”

“We’re teasing out ideas,” he said.  “Don’t you think this could be seen as some kind of frame job?”

I said I supposed so.  “But why would anyone want to frame me?”

“Well, I can think of some reasons right off the bat.”

I was shocked.  “Really?  Like what?”

“Okay, first off, you are not in great shape as far as Gi Yu’s happiest thoughts are concerned.”

Gi Yu was my cousin, not by blood, but my father had been adopted by her biological grandmother, the second wife of Kang Yu.  Yu was the man who’d established and grown the Korean crime syndicate in Hawai‘i.  Gi Yu’s father and brother, who had taken over the reins of the syndicate when Kang Yu retired back to Korea, had been murdered, so Gi now ran the powerful organization.  Although she’d done much to legitimize the syndicate by piling its blood money into Hawai‘i real estate and development, it was widely accepted that Kang Yu, now into his 80s, still pulled the strings from afar, and that he would never give up his proceeds from gambling, prostitution, and drugs.

“But I thought you said you told her that if anything happened to me, she’d have to deal with you personally.”

“Shhh,” David said, lowering his voice, “that’s just between us, Lanning.  No one else here at HPD needs to hear about it from you.”

I apologized and lowered my voice.  “But wouldn’t that make her leave me alone?”

“One would hope,” said David, his voice trailing off.

I gulped.  “Hope?”

“No no, Lanning.  Don’t worry about that.  You’re right.  I was just thinking that it might have something to do with her grandfather wanting to frame you without her knowledge.”

“What? You really think that?”

David looked up at the ceiling.  “Ummm, no, no, I really don’t.  He’d be afraid for his granddaughter.  What might happen to her if I knew something had happened to you because of what he might have engineered.”

I said, “Geez, I guess there’d be no problem if either one of them took us both out at the same time.  You’d be gone, I’d be gone, no more problem for them.”

David smiled.  “Right, Lanning, if it were a frame, they’d be wanting to see you in prison.  If it were the Yus, they’d just kill us both and have done with it.”

I wondered if David thought he’s just been thinking this and that it had slipped out of his mouth.  This was not comforting to hear.

“No,” David continued, “if you’re the target of this frame up, then it’s someone else.”

This line of thinking was getting too far away from the direction I’d hoped.  The way I wanted it to go, David would say, “It doesn’t have anything to do with you.”  Which he did not.

“Is there someone,” he said, “I wonder, what with your researching my past cases and writing them up, who’s worried about something you might dig up?”

Please, I thought, let him dismiss this one with the same they’d-just-kill-us nonchalance.

“And if so,” David said, “is it one you’ve already looked at, or is it something you’re looking into right now?”

“Well,” I said, “I’m not really digging into anything at this moment.”

“Oh?” He sounded a bit dejected by this news.

“It’s been a rough semester, romance wise.”  I shrugged.

“Ahhh,” he said in a commiserating tone.  “You didn’t do something to upset this woman or maybe her parents?”

“What!  You’re kidding, right?”

“No, not really.  Do you know for sure that she or her family couldn’t be behind this?”

“Oh come on, David.  Yeah.  No way.  No.  That’s not it.”

He looked at me quizzically.  “Huh.  Okay.”

“Any other ideas?”

“Yes.  And this one is the one that seems most likely to me.”

I waited, praying it had nothing to do with me.

“And this one has nothing to do with you.  It has to do with the people for whom you’re housesitting.”

“How so?”

“What if it is some kind of a frame job?  What if the idea was to frame the owners, not you?  What if the people setting up the frame didn’t know the owners were out of town?  What if they assumed that you were the owner and wanted to stick you with the murdered man?”

I relaxed back into my chair.  No kidding, this was the one I liked best.  That it had absolutely nothing to do with people wanting to jail me or kill me, this was my idea of a great idea.

“I like that one,” I said.  “Why don’t you run with that one.”

“Okay, who are these people?”

“It’s a husband and wife, Mister and Missus Lambert Robertson.”

David was scrawling notes.  “The wife’s name?”

“Sylvia, I think.”

“Any kids?”

“Not that I know of.  They’re pretty young, so I don’t think it’s that they have children who’ve grown up and left the nest.”

“Where’d they go?”

“Europe somewhere, I think.  We didn’t really get into that.”

“Gone for how long?”

“Just over a month.”

“And no phone numbers or forwarding addresses?”

“Nope.”

“Do you know what they do for a living?”

“I think they said she’s a teacher and he sells cars.”

David folded his hands behind his head and resumed examining at the ceiling.

“Well, Lanning, I’ll be looking into all of this.  For the time being, you can consider your housesitting duties terminated.”

“But they’re expecting me to take care of their place.  Water their plants and their yard.”

“Never mind about that.  We can take care of it.  I want you out of harm’s way.”

This idea was a good one as well.  “Can I go back and get my clothes?”

David couldn’t take me himself, but he had an officer drive me out and then back to my stuffy apartment in Mō‘ili‘ili.  My plans for a great escape to the country had been foiled, and I was not happy.  My now ex-girlfriend lived in an apartment next door.

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