The phone call brought Lieutenant David Chan back from the dead. At 3:00 in the morning, it sounded, as he gradually came to, like the kind of wee hour call that brings bad news.
“David, it’s Victor. You gotta see this.”
Sergeant Victor Yamamoto was David Chan’s partner.
“Vic,” Chan checked the clock, “at 3:00 a.m.? Really?”
“David. For real. It’s unreal. I’m at the Kailua landfill.”
The Kailua landfill. Chan hadn’t gone there since it had been Kailua Drive-In, one of his childhood gang’s favorite hangouts. They’d park in the back row, break out the Colt 45s and Strawberry Hill, then drink their brains out. He couldn’t remember a single movie he’d ever seen there.
Ancient history, he thought, as he turned into the landfill entrance. Several squad cars, were strobing the area with their blue and white lights.
Chan found Yamamoto standing at the edge of the landfill. There were a number of spotlights trained down into the vast, dark pit.
“What is it?” Chan asked, joining his partner at the edge. The stink was unbelievable.
“It looks like a slaughterhouse,” said Yamamoto. “We’re thinking they’re Tongs.”
Chan shook his head. A mass killing. Of course the Yu clan leaped into his mind. The Yu family had controlled organized crime in the Islands since grandpa Kang Yu had come to Hawai‘i as a young man in the early 1900s. Slowly he’d built a Korean syndicate. Drugs, prostitution, gambling, the Yus ran it all. The Honolulu police had tried many, many times to bring the Yu clan to justice, but a fountainhead of brilliant lawyers down through the years had thwarted every effort. Chan now led the HPD task force dedicated to bringing down the Yus.
“David,” Yamamoto said, “check it out.”
All the spotlights were focused now from one end of the body pile to the other. Chan shivered. It reminded him of the mass graves he helped fill during Desert Storm. Body upon body dumped into long wide trenches, like garbage being tossed out. He could see the bulldozers pushing great mounds of sand to cover the corpses.
It looked like at least two dozen bodies. They lay in odd positions, some looking almost animated in their death poses.
“Tongs trying to muscle in,” Yamamoto said. “They underestimated Byung Yu.”
Victor, too, had jumped to the conclusion that only the Yu gang could have done this.
A man in a white hazmat suit climbed up the wall of the pit and emerged to stand next to Chan. He lifted off his goggle mask.
“Lieutenant, it’s a mess. Been in there a while. The stench is unreal.”
“Can you tell who they are?” Chan asked.
“Tongs. Lined um up and mowed um down. Like they faced a firing squad.”
Chan turned to his partner. “Let’s go.”
“Byung Yu?” asked Yamamoto.
“Hell yeah,” said Chan. “Let’s go wake the bastard up.”
Yamamoto followed Chan back over the Pali and on toward the Mānoa Valley mansion where the current head of the Yu crime family lived.
Chan had wanted Byung Yu’s head for a long time. He was sure that Byung was behind the disappearance of his father. Chan’s father had served with HPD and gone mysteriously missing. That had immediately steered Chan away from a career in teaching into the police academy.
The two drove up the circular driveway. There were no lights on.
Good, thought Chan. It would be great entertainment to wake Byung Yu from his beauty sleep by banging the hell out of his front door.
Chan was about to knock like the hand of God when Yamamoto stayed his hand.
“David,” said Yamamoto, “we gotta do this right. Cool head, boss, main thing. Everything by the book. Just ring the doorbell.”
Chan inhaled a few calming breaths. Yamamoto was right. Although it would be great to scare to death the godfather of organized crime in Hawai‘i, and if he had his druthers, he’d put a bullet through Byung Yus forehead, this all had to be handled in a business-like manner. The more staid their demeanor, the better the case would look if they could bring Yu to trial for mass murder.
He pushed the button. The bell sounded like happiness. As though an angel had earned its wings, Chan mused unhappily.
After a minute, lights went on in windows on both sides of door, and it swung open.
Byung Yu, looking like he’d just stepped out of a Hollywood movie set, dressed in a robe that looked like it cost a month of Chan’s salary, gave no indication of emotion as he realized it was Chan and Yamamoto, two people he hated with untold passion.
In a restrained voice, David Chan said, “Good morning, Mr. Yu, would you mind if we come in?”
Yu smiled, stepped aside, and gestured the two policemen into his living room. Chan figured it was the size of his entire house. There was a Steinway piano, a parquet dance floor, and enough seating to accommodate a small army.
“Please,” Byung Yu said, indicating a sofa.
The three sat down, Yu in a chair facing them.
“Good morning,” he said, smiling broadly at the two. “And what might bring two of Honolulu’s finest to my humble home at five o’clock in the morning.
“Mr. Yu,” said Chan, “we’ve just come from the Kailua landfill. Someone gunned down a couple dozen Tong out there. We were wondering if you knew anything about that.”
Yu gave them the broadest smile. “Of course I know about it,” he said.
Chan and Yamamoto glanced at each other. This was the last thing they’d thought Yu would say. Where was the feigned ignorance, the denial of any kind of knowledge of such a heinous crime.
Chan turned back to Yu. “Mr. Yu, you say you actually do know about the killings?”
“Why yes.” Yu smiled again.
“Well, ah, would you mind telling us how you know about them?”