Jason Yu had been attracted to Kathy Thurston for a long time. In school, a senior, he’d noticed her, a freshman, and when he mentioned his interest in her to his friends, they’d laughed him out of the idea, ribbing him about being a cradle robber.
When he’d returned to Hawai‘i after college, it seemed as if fate had played a hand in his love life. He’d run into Kathy, then attending the O‘ahu University, at a party thrown by another Lualuna alum, and his fortune was indeed sealed.
They’d begun dating after that, and Jason, already primed at the pump in his high school days, fell deeply in love with Kathy very quickly. Kathy felt the same way. She was also aware of Yu family’s reputation, and she resolved to keep her relationship with him a secret from her parents.
The other focus of Jason’s energy, of course, was to figure out some angle to work in the local crime community. The major player is this thriving business was, of course, his father. Because Byung Yu was adamant about Jason not joining him in business, Jason had to find a way in, realizing, or cours, that it would be imprudent to try to make a move in any of the areas of his father’s operations, the Korean syndicate’s holy trinity of gambling, drugs, and prostitution. What then to do?
He and his would-be delinquent high-school friends had always loved cars. Growing up they’d honed their automotive skills, and took great pride in driving some of the fastest cars in town.
It dawned on Jason, in his search for an inroad, that dealing in stolen vehicles might be a possibility. He’d discussed this with his friends. They were interested.
They’d decided to start small. An experiment. A car here and there, disassembled at a warehouse they rented in Māpunapuna. They send out a lowkey feeler to a few people they knew who might either want the parts themselves, or knew people who did.
Small grew fairly quickly to bigger. Jason and his closest three friends, Kevin Won, and the Halm twins, Alvin and Alden, assumed the leadership roles. Kevin, the best mechanic and body man in the group oversaw disassembly of the vehicles with an eye to salvaging every single part that might have a decent resale value.
The Halm twins took the reins in searching out and appropriating the cars that were common enough to suit a demand for the parts. It was not their intention to boost expensive automobiles. The less expensive and therefore the most popular models were ideal.
Jason oversaw the entire operation. In a risky, but calculated business move, realizing that the market in Hawai‘i was not large, Jason suggested a partnership with a college friend on the West Coast who ran a car dealership chain. The idea was to ship parts to him to either purchase for his business needs himself, or to sell to anyone interested.
Money talks. The deal was sealed. In fact, it was this export end of the business that brought in most of the profit. After not too long a while, Jason and his friends were doing fairly well. But there were only so many cars you could steal. Jason knew this, and pondered other avenues of revenue.
Kathy was not naïve. It didn’t take long for her to figure that Jason and his friends were working at something illegal. This scared her, but she was in love. It seemed to her there was no way around or out of this. She did not bring up her concerns with Jason, and Jason did not talk about his business dealings with Kathy.
And then it happened. One day when he was waiting for Kathy outside the library on University Avenue, he waited. And waited.
Jason became very concerned. Finally he did what Kathy had asked him never to do. He called her house. Mrs. Thurston answered the phone. Jason introduced himself as a classmate at UO, said that their study group was waiting for Kathy. No, Kathy was not home. Was there a time she’d be expected? No.
Jason spent most of the night into the morning parked just down Dowsett Avenue from the Thurston’s home. Waiting and waiting some more. Still no sign of Kathy.
The next day he wanted to call the Thurstons, but he didn’t. He again sat on the street outside Kathy’s house. After he’d waited there for hours, two police cruisers pulled into the Thurston’s driveway. The officers spent several hours in the house, and when they left, Jason drew the only obvious conclusion that something had happened to Kathy.
That night, at the Māpunupuna warehouse, Kevin Won, working on several cars with the crew, noticed Jason’s distress. He approached Jason in the office and asked him what was up?
Jason had known Kevin since elementary school. He was Jason’s oldest and closest friend. Jason told him about Kathy being missing, told him about the police having been at her house.
“Do you know anyone in the police department you can contact about it?” Kevin asked.
Jason looked at him. “Yeah, I know half the people who work there. At least by name and reputation. My dad, you know? They’re always in his face.”
“Right,” said Kevin, “but I’m talking about an inside man. Someone you can trust.”
Jason scoffed. “No, of course not. How could I?”
“I do,” Kevin said. “Mind if I ask him?”
Jason was skeptical. “If you go nosing around about Kathy, don’t you think whoever this inside person is, he’s going to be suspicious, maybe even think you’re involved or something?”
“Not this guy,” said Kevin. “How much cash we got?”
“You’ll buy him off?”
“Of course. Everybody has a price.”
“How much you think it’ll take?”
“A couple hundred, maybe.”
“You better be sure about this, Kevin. If he starts looking into you and your business, that could be big frickin trouble for us.”
“You want to know about Kathy, man?”
Jason nodded. Of course he did. He took $500 out of the cash box. “If he wants more, let him know we’ll pay more.”
“He won’t,” said Kevin. “This’ll do it. He’s a low-rent asshole.” Han picked up the money. “I’ll have any information the guy can give me by tomorrow.”
Jason watched his partner exit the warehouse. He thought, “I bet my dad must have single every dirty cop in the state wrapped around his finger. I wonder if this’ll get back to him?”