Jason Yu awoke with a start. It took a moment for him to realize where he was. Sitting up, he could see he was at home in Mānoa Valley. He peered at the clock on the nightstand. It was nearly 8:00 p.m. He sat at the edge of the bed trying to clear his head.
Then it came to him. He was late. The meeting at the warehouse had been scheduled for 6:00. Whatever Kevin Won had planned for the meeting there, it had been underway for two hours.
Jason had been at the warehouse, sitting in his office, watching several of his friends take cars apart. Knowing that they had participated in the kidnap and killing of Kathy Thurston had made him ill, but instead of stoking his anger, watching them had made him incredibly tired. The exhaustion had brought him home to bed.
Dressing quickly, he headed downstairs. He was glad his father was not at his desk in the den. With a clear view into the foyer, his father would have seen him leaving, maybe wanted to talk. This would have been the last thing he needed.
On the drive to Māpunapuna, Jason kept running the situation through his mind. He couldn’t stop himself from seeing Kathy’s body lying there on the floor. The face of Ted Sung admitting that Jason’s supposed friends had participated in kidnapping her. And the face of Kevin Won, the real friend who would help set this whole thing right.
Jason parked on the street and entered the warehouse. He’d expected to hear the sound of voices, but there were none. He wondered if he’d missed the entire meeting. At the far end, past the cars they were working on, Jason saw that the white van had its headlights on. Walking toward it, he could hear the hum of the engine. Squinting over the headlights, he could see no one in the front seat. As he rounded the back of the van, he stopped and stared. What he was looking at he couldn’t quite comprehend.
The floor was awash in red, as though someone had tossed a can of red paint across it. As he stood there trying to process this, he became aware of Kevin Won hunched over what appeared to be a body. Yes, it was a body. Won began pulling it toward the van. Pivoting his head, he saw Jason watching him.
Won dropped the arms of the body and stood up facing Jason. He shook his head. “Hell of a party, Jason, you should have been here.”
Still not quite sure what was going on, Jason said, “I, yeah, sorry. I fell asleep. What is this?”
“This,” said Won, nodding back at the body, “is the last of it.”
Jason nodded. “The last of what?”
“Them,” said Won.
“The boys,” said Won.
“The last of the boys? Where are the rest of them?”
Won nodded toward the van. “I got um all in there.”
Jason stepped toward the open back door of the van, trying not to step in the red, but not being able to avoid it since there was so much of it.
Stopping and peering into the darkness, he could make out a kind of odd body. It was very large, with lots of arms and legs. He could make out multiple heads as well. It was like some kind of weird artwork, a sculpture of body parts.
“What the . . .?”
And then it dawned on him. These were the bodies of his friends, the murderers of Kathy Thurston.
“How’d you . . . ?”
“It was easy, Jason. One shot in the back of the head. No more problems.”
Jason turned around slowly and looked at Won. “No more problems? You killed them all?”
Won laughed. “Nah. The twins helped me. Well, not with the killing. They had shotguns. Kept the boys on their hands and knees while I popped um off.”
“But . . .” Jason couldn’t think what to say.
“No worries, man, I got it all under control. Not my first rodeo.”
Jason looked around. “Where are they?”
They’re in the van.”
Won laughed again. “No no no. Not driving. They’re in there. With the rest.”
Jason blinked. “You, you killed them too?”
Won nodded, pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket. Jason watched him leave bloody marks on the shirt. Won lit the cigarette, and Jason wondered how he could light the match with so much blood on his hands.
“Well, yeah, it was time for them, you know? I’m telling you, Jason, those two assholes wanted more and more, you know? They wanted too much. I could see they were gonna give us problems pretty soon.”
Jason watched his oldest childhood friend, now a stone-cold killer, exhale a long stream of smoke into the air.
“So when they were helping me load the last body,” Won continued, “I just went up behind um and bam bam.” He gestured the fired shots with a bloody hand. “End of problem.”
“All of them are in there?”
“Yeah, well, except Ted here.” Won laughed. “I almost forgot about him in the trunk. Loose ends. Gotta tie um all up, brah. Don’t forget. No loose ends.”
“Right, right,” said Jason.
“Eh, since you’re here now, how about helping me toss Ted in back. My back is killing me. Reminds me of the time my mom made me move the piano all over the parlor because she couldn’t decide the best place for it. Man, I already hated frickin piano lessons. And for real, I really hated um after I fucked up my back that day.”
For a reason he couldn’t quite understand, Jason said, “You’re a really good piano player.”
“Yeah, well, lessons, you know? Gimme a hand.”
As Jason stepped slowly to the body, he pictured himself clapping for Kevin Won after some piano recital long ago. They were little boys in his mind. Grabbing one of the arms, he and Won dragged Ted Sung’s body to the back of the bed and, on the count of three, boosted it up and in.
Won, who’d held the bloody cigarette between his lips, took another drag and exhaled like a man who’d just put in a good day’s hard work. Jason saw the zip gun sitting on the side of the van bed.
“So what are you going to do now?” asked Jason.
“Well, I figure I’ll dump um someplace where they’re easy to find.”
The word “dump” hit Jason hard, the same way it had when Won had told the twins to “dump” Kathy Thurston’s body.
“That way,” said Won, “we’ll be getting into a bigger game, Jason. It’s us making our first mark on the way to the big time. I figure after your dad’s seen what we did, he’ll wanna bring us in with him for sure. Eh, with this we prove we’re ready, right?”
Jason marveled at his friend’s thinking, at where he was coming from. “So you did all of this to get in the good graces of my dad?”
“Of course, man. You and me. Hey, we’re going big time now. No distractions with crappy little stuffs like stealing cars and shit. It’s the same reason why I took care of your girlfriend.”
Jason blinked. “Took care of her?”
“Yeah, well, eh, buddy, she was getting to be a big frickin’ distraction, right? I mean you could hardly keep your mind on taking care of business anymore.”
“You? You kidnapped her?”
Won laughed, puffed again. “No no, not me. Like Ted said, it was the rest of them. Not the twins and me. We’re your real friends, Jason. Well, now it’s me, yeah? I’m your only real friend now.”
Jason closed his eyes. “So, you mean what exactly when you say you took care of Kathy?”
“Well, you know, I mean, when I found her upstairs I thought, what the heck. It was as good a time as any to move her outta the way.”
“So the others, that ransom scheme, that was theirs. But the killing, that was you?”
“Yeah, but don’t worry, Jason. It was fast. I’ve never killed anyone that way. Strangling, you know? It was harder than I thought, but it was easier too. Cleaner. Look at me now. Eh, you too. Look at you too, little bit now.” He pointed and laughed. “Brah, you and me, we got red on us.”
Won said, “Let’s clean up and then go find a good place to dump these losers.”
At the moment Kevin Won turned away from him, Jason Yu picked up the gun from the van bed. He’d never fired one before, but he figured at this range he couldn’t miss. He pulled the trigger and a bullet flew out of the barrel so fast that the first Jason knew he’d hit the back of Kevin Won’s head was an explosion of blood out the front as his old friend’s face blew apart.
Jason looked down at the body. The smoking butt lay a few feet away on the already bloody warehouse floor. A fresh slow creep of blood moved toward the cigarette, surrounded it, and the smoking stopped.
“Thanks, Kev,” whispered Jason, “for two things, buddy. You’re right. It is time for me to make my mark. And thanks for stressing the importance of leaving no loose ends.”