Yu sat steaming at his desk. Nothing that affected his enterprise should ever escape notice. He had informants planted everywhere, had bought off politicians and judges, police and any other public service employee type you could name. Why did he know nothing of this?
The phone rang. “Yoboseyo.”
“Yeah,” barked Yu, “what the hell is going on with these killings last night?”
“So you know about it already?”
“Hey, yeah, wake up. I just mentioned them to you. Wouldn’t that make it obvious to you that I do? What, did you just find out now too? Is old news what I pay you for?”
“I’m sorry, so sorry, Mister Yu. I was working a case and didn’t get into the station to hear the news until now. How did you know about it?”
Yu was so angry he wanted to slam down the receiver. “How did I hear about it? Take a goddamn wild guess. I just had the pleasure of entertaining you know who and his boy wonder. I don’t enjoy getting my news from David Chan and his sidekick. Especially in my home? My home? They’ve never come to my goddamn home before. What is up with this situation?”
“Well, there were twelve of them. All shot execution style. One bullet through the back of the head. Their fingerprints aren’t on file, and their faces are all so disfigured that putting their photos in the paper would be no help.”
“And they’re a gang, right?” said Yu.
“Yes, looks that way. All of them have a tattoo. A big spade, the kind on playing cards, with four stars set like compass points. We’ve never seen that before. The coroner, you know, Hank Lee, he says the only thing he can tell for sure is that all of them are at least part Asian, maybe some of them are mixed.”
Yu sat back in his chair. How could an unknown gang this size, one with at least a dozen people to kill, how could it be operating in Hawai‘i without him knowing a single thing about it? Where were they from and what were they doing?
“Eh,” said Yu, “I strongly suggest you start earning your money, my friend. Stay way the hell on top of this,” he paused, “as if your life depended on it, right?”
“Right, yes, Mister Yu, yes, of course, I’m sorry. I’ll keep my eyes and ears on Chan and Yamamoto, see what they’re sniffing out.”
“You damn well better. I want news about this, and I want it faster than a speeding bullet, savvy?”
Unceremoniously he did slam down the receiver now. Then he called first his right-hand and then his left-hand man.
Woo-kyun “Tom” Choi oversaw Yu’s drug concerns. He’d been working hard on a transitional focus from opium to heroin. Heroin, Yu foresaw, would far outstrip the earnings of the old standby. Opium dens were still abundant in Honolulu, Yu made sure of that. But people didn’t need heroin dens. Addicts and soon-to-be addicts were happily shooting up at parties or even alone in the comfort of their homes.
Richard Han, the more bloodthirsty of the two, ran the gambling end of things. He saw all the gambling parlors in the state as his babies, and he fathered them accordingly. Many lower level operators had felt his rath when something went wrong with the money or the books at their parlors, and some of the luckier ones had actually survived that anger.
Choi and Han arrived quickly and sat like sterling students in the chairs opposite Yu, the same ones Chan and Yamamoto had warmed up earlier.
Yu eyeballed each of them, those finely manicured hands folded on the desk in front of him. He could tell by their expressions that the two mean were a bit confused by this urgent summons. Actually, this was good in some ways. You never knew where your rivals might be coming from. Yu trusted both these men a great deal, they had also served his father, but the desire for wealth and power could suddenly and most surprisingly motivate people in unexpected and very unpleasant ways.
Finally Yu spoke. “Gentlemen, do you know why I’ve asked you to come here?”
Choi and Han looked even more puzzled, exchanged glances of shared ignorance.
“Have you heard about the killings at Wai‘alae Drive-In last night?”
Both shrugged and shook their heads.
Yu unclasped his hands and sat back in his chair. “What is up with this?” he said, mostly to himself. “Twelve men, apparently part of some mystery gang of no small size, are executed, and no one seems to know anything about it. Like this is all some great big surprise.”
He sat forward and eyed each man in turn. “I hate surprises. In our business, gentlemen, surprises are a very, very bad thing. Surprises, guys, can get us all thrown in prison or even get us killed. I don’t know about you two, but I don’t relish the idea of incarceration, and I absolutely abhor the idea of being dead.”
He took a beat, a deep breath. “You two are my most trusted friends. I count with my life on you to be the extra eyes and ears I need out there in our fair and profitable community. I need you two to get out there and find out what is up with this new gang, and I need to know about them like yesterday, okay? If someone’s trying to horn in on our business, we need to know about it. I also want to find out who would kill them and why.”
He eyeballed the two again. “Neither of you ordered any kind of hit, did you?”
The two glanced at each other, looked back at Yu and shook their heads.
“Any comforting words for me before you depart to get the hell to the bottom of this?”
Han spoke up. “Don’t worry, Mister Yu, we will definitely get to the bottom of this.”
Choi said, “And don’t do anything except report to you, right? Take no action, right?”
Yu smiled his wickedest smile. “Of course not, Tommy. You know that’s one big reason why I’m here, gentlemen. You both know I’m the one who likes to drop the hammer when I can.”
The two knew that look, and they knew Yu all too well. Should the mood ever strike them to flip on Yu, oh the bloody stories they could tell to the prosecutor. But turn they would not. Not so far, at least.
Yu knew this too. He also knew that he’d as easily drop the hammer on either or both of these men should they ever be inclined to turn into evidential songbirds.
Most importantly Tom Choi and Richard Han knew they were expendable. So was anyone in the organization. That meant too, they knew, that if by any chance Byung Yu himself ever screwed up, Daddy Kang would just as easily drop the hammer on his own son.
This was really the way criminal organizations hung together. The cohesion came from everyone knowing they were expendable, thus everyone played their part accordingly, with that overarching single idea motivating their avid and sincere participation for the sake of the greater good, the mother organization who would, should the need arise, take a baby nursing at her breast and bash its head in.
“Are you waiting for a glass of milk and some cookies?” asked Byung Yu.
The two jumped up from their seats, bowed, and took off.
While Byung Yu sat still stewing at his desk, his son, Jason, came through the front door. Yu saw him cross the hall and head for the stairs.
“Jason,” Yu called out, “can I have a word with you, please, son?”
*Note, for historical accuracy, the name of the Drive-In has been changed from Kailua to Wai‘alae. This will be substituted into the earlier chapters in the next draft.