Chan couldn’t find a parking space within two blocks of the station. Definitely the department had outgrown its location at Merchant and Bethel. The extra walking did nothing to lessen his fatigue.
Yamamoto sat at his desk munching on a donut. “You look great, boss,” he said as Chan slumped into his seat. “Sleep any?”
Chan gave him a pained look. “So have you thought anymore about my dream?”
“David, I’m telling you, there’s nothing else to say about it. We need something we can take to the bank.”
Chan nodded, sipped his coffee. “Anyone come in looking for our vics yet?”
Just then Captain Kauhane emerged from his lair. “David, Victor, please?”
The two rose and trudged into the office.
“Please shut the door,” Kauhane instructed.
Yamamoto and Chan exchanged glances and Chan closed it behind him.
“Gentlemen, a woman, Missus Susan Anderson, came to the front a while ago to ask about her missing son. Apparently he’s not been home for two nights, and she’s worried. Detective Santos was available when she came in, so I sent him down, and he’s talking to her right now. I asked him to interview her in the box, not up here at his desk.”
“This is it,” said Yamamoto. “If I were a betting man, I’d say this is going to break it open for us.”
“Why the secrecy?” Chan asked.
Kauhane looked out into the squad room. There were quite a few faces turned toward their captain’s closed door.
“This case is huge. I want to minimize the chance of any information leaking to the wrong people right now. Santos is going to come see me when he’s done. I’ll let you know what he tells me.”
The two returned to their desks.
“I know there are dirty cops,” said Yamamoto, “but once they start screwing up my business, we gotta have some kind of major change around here.”
“Yes,” said Chan, “we could use an investigation from outside. I don’t want to say that I suspect everyone, but it’s not hard to feel that you don’t know whom you should trust.”
Yamamoto surveyed the room. People typed, filed, talked on the phone. The air was thick with smoke. “Where are you hiding?” he said. “I catch you, you folks better pray for prison.”
Just then Detective Marvin Santos came through the door and headed back to Kauhane’s office. Chan and Yamamoto didn’t wait for an invitation. They jumped up and were right behind Santos.
“How do we even know we can trust Marvin?” Yamamoto whispered.
Chan rolled his eyeballs. Of course they couldn’t know.
Closing the door behind them, the two detectives stepped to either side of the desk, while Detective Santos sat across from Captain Kauhane.
“Marvin,” Kauhane said, “what’d she have to say?”
“The son, Dennis Anderson, hasn’t been home for two nights. He’s twenty-three, a McKinley High grad. He attended the Honolulu Technical Trade School, did two years of automotive studies. She’s concerned because she thinks he’s been hanging out with some bad actors.”
“What makes her think that?” asked Kauhane.
“She says he stays out ’til all hours, doesn’t seem to have a job as far as she can tell, but has money all the time.”
“The dad?” Kauhane asked.
“None. He’s dead.”
“This isn’t any good to us,” said Yamamoto. “None of the vics looked like they were Haoles.”
“Oh, she’s not Caucasian,” said Santos. “She’s Korean.”
“Can we take her over to the MEs?” said Chan. “You think she can handle looking at the bodies?”
“I didn’t ask her,” said Santos. “I didn’t want to suggest we thought the son might be dead. I’ll go –”
Chan interrupted, “We’re on it, Captain.”
And with that Chan and Yamamoto were out the door. They located Mrs. Anderson in one of the interrogation rooms, walked in, introduced themselves, and sat.
Chan, as gently as possible, explained to her that the bodies they wanted her to look at might not be her son, that he might very well be alive, but that they wanted her to be sure that none of these were her son. Despite speaking to her in as softened a manner as he could, there was no sugar-coating this talk with Mrs. Anderson. She did not receive well the message that her son might be laid out on a slab at the morgue, but Chan helped her understand it might give her some peace of mind if none of these were her son. Both he and Yamamoto knew this was a specious argument, that just because none of the corpses were her son, certainly didn’t mean he was alive.
Finally, after much grief and consoling, Mrs. Anderson accompanied them to the Coroner’s Office. It was daunting, to have to roll open eight drawers of cold white bodies whose faces were for the most part gone.
At just the first one, Mrs. Anderson went wobbly on them, moaned as Dr. Lee pulled back the sheet covering the corpse. Chan and Yamamoto supported her, one on each side, as they made their way slowly down the aisle. It was definitely proving more time-consuming a task to look over the bodies than it would have been if their faces were intact.
All Chan saw as the sheets were rolled back was the tattoo on each left forearm. The sign of the spade and stars burned itself into his brain. If he saw Jason Yu, Chan knew the first thing he’d do would be check his arm.
When Hank Lee pulled back the sheet on number six, even the combined strength of Chan and Yamamoto could not keep her standing. Mrs. Anderson went out like a light, and her body slumped as though dead. The three dragged her to a seat and revived her.
“The last one, Missus Anderson,” said Chan, “he is your son?”
Mrs. Anderson burst into tears. There was more consoling, tissues, a glass of water, before she could speak, her body shaking. “Yes, that is my Dennis.”
There was not much of the man’s face to identify. Chan hated to ask her if she were absolutely sure, but he did. Yes, that was definitely her son.
The two detectives took Mrs. Anderson back to the station, then returned with her to the interrogation room. They asked if she could tell them the names of some of her son’s friends.
Nothing rang a bell until she said, “And there’s a Jason, I think his last name is Yu.”