One Last Swimmer

David whispered, “Lanning, go back down the driveway.”

“What is it?”

“Just go, get to a safe distance.  Rodney, you cover here.  I’m going around back?”

Mr. Kim drew the revolver David had given to him.

“Go!”

I backed off, watched David go.  Mr. Kim poised with this hand against the door.  He looked ready with to shoot through it or kick it in.

I ran to the left, trailing David.  He was moving quickly, bent over.  He stopped, looked through a window, apparently saw nothing, kept going.  I closed in from a distance, following.

He arrived at the lānai behind, the place where I’d first been sitting when the Japanese woman had brought Joey Soto’s body up from Kāne‘ohe Bay.  I could hear the waves rushing along the wall below.

David stood upright and tiptoed to the back door.  This side was all glass, and I could see no one, but I tiptoed in toward him.

Suddenly he spun.  “Geez, Lanning, I could’ve shot you.  I told you to go down the driveway.”

“Sorry,” I whispered back, “I guess I misunderstood you.”

He rolled his eyes.  “Get over there to the seawall.”

“Right, okay.”  I backed up, watching him slide open the rear door, gun drawn and held near shoulder height, ready to fire.

I stood by the wall, looked down in the dark toward the waves.  The distance to the bottom of the stone stairway seemed farther in the dark.  But I could still see the small stone landing, and . . .

I ran toward the house.  “David, David,” I whispered hoarsley at some volume.  I stepped inside, went into the kitchen and then to the dining room.  I could see David just letting Mr. Kim in the front door.  A body lay on the living room floor.

We stood over the body.

“Who’s this?” I asked.

David knelt and pulled out the man’s wallet.  “It’s the head coach for the German diving team.”

“Right between the eyes,” said Mr. Kim.  “You have to be pretty good to do that so exactly.”

“There’s another one out here,” I said, gesturing for them to follow.  “Down by the water.”

We headed out to the wall.

“Down there,” I pointed.

All three of us peered through the dark to the landing.

“What?” said Mr. Kim.  “I don’t see anything.”

I said, “There was a person down there.”

We all went down the stairs.  Nothing.

“I swear I saw someone down here.”

“Well,” said David, “if there was someone, he took off.”

“Or she,” added Mr. Kim.  “I think we better get over to the Robertson dealership.  Maybe we can clear this up pretty fast.”

Now we drove over the Pali yet again.  I was beginning to think I recognized each tree and telephone pole.  As we neared Robertson’s, David shut off the headlights and stopped on the opposite side of the street.  We ran across and into the darkened display lot.  There were all these colorful little triangular flags stung on lines from flagpole to flagpole surrounding all the cars.

We skirted around back.  There was an unlocked door.  Inside was a light coming from behind a frosted glass wall, the area where the mythical manager sat when sales agents said they had to consult with him about a lower vehicle price offer.

David led the way as we came to and entered the office.  Mrs. Robertson sat there, a fairly large pile of what appeared to be diamonds sitting on the desk blotter in front of her.  There was an automatic next to the diamonds.

“Mrs. Robertson,” David said, “good evening.”

She looked up, tears in her eyes.  “All for nothing,” she said.

“Did you swim away from the house?” I asked.

She sneered at me.  “Yeah.  What of it?”

“How’d you get here?” I asked.

“One of our cars was parked down the street.  If you gentlemen hadn’t surprised me, I wouldn’t have had to get in the water.  I hate swimming.  I used to be a competitive swimmer.  All that training.  Once I gave it up, I couldn’t stand to be in the water anymore.  But you people, you – ”

Lightning quick, she reached for the gun.  David shot her in the arm.  She screamed but tried to pick it up anyway.  Mr. Kim shot this time.  Two rounds. One in the heart, one directly between the eyes.

David holstered his weapon, glancing at Mr. Kim, but not saying anything.  Mr. Kim stood there, gun smoking, glaring.

“What a drama queen,” he said.  “Oh I don’t know anything about it, boo hoo,” he whined, imitating her tearful act.

“Yes,” said David.  “Robertson’s last words were to give her a cover story.”

“Yeah,” said Mr. Kim, “and let’s hope she’s the last of these goddamn strong swimmers.”

* * * * *

The Case of the Strong Swimmer, Chapter Eight: One Last Swimmer (A Lieutenant David Chan Mystery, 800 words)

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