Jason Yu sat at his desk, hands folded, and looked out over the yard of his Mānoa Valley home. He’d grown up here. Would he die here? It was time to do something more, to get out of this house and really do something.
Stamps, he thought. My dad is still interested in stamps.
He shook his head. If he were going to cry, he would have cried when he found out that his best friend had murdered his girlfriend. But he’d not cried for that, no matter how deeply it saddened him, and he was not going to cry for his lost youth, back when life was easily occupied with things of as great importance as collecting stamps. Lost youth. What romantic crap.
Examining his hands, he thought about the rope around Kathy Thurston’s throat.
It’s as if I strangled her myself, he thought. If it weren’t for me, for her connection with me, she’d still be alive.
He scoffed. And so would Kevin Won, and the rest of his group of friends. He imagined himself grabbing the rope around Kathy’s neck, trying to undo it, bring life back into her, but it was too late.
It had been a long night and morning. First, he had to dump the eight bodies in plain view. Of course he couldn’t just drive to the middles of downtown and toss them on the Fort Street sidewalk.
From Māpunapuna he’d driven east, through the downtown area and onward. He thought about places he passed, but they were all too public. Finally, sighting the new Wai‘alae Drive-In theater, he remembered the cemetery behind.
Perfect, he thought. Kevin Won would have approved, he was sure. Poetic, really, that this gang would end up in a graveyard.
Well, but not him. Under cover of the dark of early morning, he’d dragged the bodies one by one into the middle of the place and left them among the tombstones. The chore seemed to have taken an eternity.
Then he needed to go back to the warehouse and clean up. He’d hosed and scrubbed the whole place down. The sun had been up for hours by the time he finished straightening up the crime scene. The only problem now, of course, was the stolen cars, and the inventory of parts. They’d have to go. But where? He was too tired to think about it. No one would come busting in immediately. He’d have time to think about this.
The last thing he did was clean up the shotguns and leave them tucked away in a closet in the office. He’d looked for the zipgun, but had been unable to locate it. He knew he’d cleaned the blood off of it immediately, but it wasn’t in the warehouse restroom. What had he done with it? Well, never mind, that could wait for later, too.
The sun shone on the lawn where he’d played when he was young, back in his stamp-collecting days. Back when he’d begun to wish he could follow in his father’s footsteps. He’d always known he was born to be the next generation to take over the Yu family business. Right?
Now he’d killed someone. It hadn’t bothered him much at all. But it had been because of Kathy. Without that kind of motivation, would he have become a murderer anyway?
He watched a group of squawking mynah birds fighting over something. Was it food? A woman?
Jason took a deep breath and pushed himself away from the desk. Walking over to the closet, he rolled open the doors and reached up into the back of the top shelf and produced an attache case, dropped it on the bed, and then took a shower.
He dressed in front of the full-length mirror. Black suit, white shirt black tie. Then he put on the black socks and the black shoes.
He watched himself slick back his black hair. Then he stood and examined himself in the mirror. He really did make the suit look good. Here he was then, dressed in the uniform of his father and his father’s gang. The men in black. Everyone knew the Korean syndicate by the way they dressed. Maybe not individually, but get two or more together, and there they were. Usually armed and dangerous. Not to be screwed with. He liked that. Smiled at his reflection.
“Fuck with me and you’re a dead man,” he said, admiring how white his teeth appeared in the midst of all that blackness.
Picking up the case he headed downstairs. Walking straight to his father’s den, he was about to step inside, but his father was on the phone, so he stopped outside.
“How does that help me?” Byung Yu said. “I need to know if any of them are still around. If that was all of them, then there’s no more threat.”
There was silence as his father listened to the party on the other end.
“Well, that’s not enough. I swear. I don’t know why I pay you for all the useless information you give me.”
The receiver slammed into the cradle.
Jason took this as his cue. He walked in. “Dad.”
Byung Yu looked up. He’d seen his son dressed well before, of course, but this time it struck him in an odd way.
Jason put the attache case down on the desk, opened it, and turned it to face his father, sliding it toward him.
Byung Yu looked at the contents, felt cold.
“Jason, what is this?”
“It’s money, Dad. It’s for you.”
“I made this money. It’s about fifty thousand. I’m giving it to you.”
“Well,” Jason said, sitting down. “Here’s what it is.”
The son explained to the father how he’d come up with the idea for the Death Stars, how they’d gone into the car business.”
“So,” said Byung Yu, “this gang, the ones that were killed last night and dumped in that cemetery, that’s your gang?”
“Thank goodness you’re alive.”
“Son, what happened to them?”
Jason explained how Kevin Won had planned the killings. “But Kevin’s dead too,” said Jason.
“How’s that?” asked Byung Yu.
Then Jason explained about Kathy Thurston, the strangling, and how Kevin had made it appear the other members who’d done the kidnapping had murdered her as well.
“So when he explained to me that he’d been the one who killed her, I took care of him.”
Byung Yu closed his eyes. He could hear his heart beating in his ears. How hard he’d tried to keep his son out of this kind of business. And now. So the sins of the fathers, maybe it did work that way.
Byung Yu opened his eyes and stared into his son’s cold, hard face. “And by take care of him you mean you killed him?”
“Yes. I did it for Kathy.”
Byung Yu would have laughed if he hadn’t felt so sick. Killing for love. Byung Yu knew he’d have not gone far at all in this world if that were the only motivation for murder.
Byung Yu said, “And so this money. This money is for what?”
“Well, I’m down to a gang of one now,” said Jason, not smiling, “which means I need a new family.”
“So this is to what, buy your membership in my organization?”
“Yes, exactly. I’ll do a good job for you, Dad. You know I will.”
Byung Yu nodded. “All right.” The words came out more easily than he ever could have imagined they would.
“Lieutenant David Chan, you know him, right?” asked Byung Yu.
“Yes, of course, I know him.”
“He came to the house early this morning, he and that Sergeant Yamamoto. He brought the killings to my attention, was looking for a way to pin them on me.”
“I’m sorry, Dad. Can I do something to help with that?”
Byung Yu shook his head. “It’s the first time that gentleman and his sidekick have ever come to my house. He tasks me, that man. You don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.”
The two finished their discussion of the details for Jason’s coming on board.
“I’ve got some cars to unload,” said Jason.
“I’ll take care of that, too,” said Byung Yu. “Give me the address.”
Jason did so, then rose, thanked his father for accepting his proposition, and bowed. Turning, he exited the den.
Byung Yu kept his eyes on his son’s back as he walked away and headed out the front door. He sighed, closed the attache case, and pushed it to the side. Opening the desk drawer, he pulled out the rare little stamp in its protective plastic sheet. He laid it on the desk blotter and sat for a long while, hands folded, his satisfaction tremendous for watching it do absolutely nothing at all but sit still there.