It was nearly midnight. Chan, unable to sleep, sat on his lānai overlooking downtown Honolulu. Sitting here, year after year, he watched as the city grew, the lights growing more numerous, pushing back more and more against the darkness. Still, there were many stars to see, but each year there were fewer, and he could imagine a day coming when it would be impossible to see anything except the dim outline of the moon, Honolulu lit up like broad daylight at midnight.
Was that possible? Or would no amount of light ever blot out the night?
The Jack Daniel’s didn’t taste as good as he’d hoped it would. He took a sip, put the whiskey glass down on the table, and turned it in a slow circle.
He remained convinced that Byung Yu was behind the murders of the eight Death Star gang members. He also believed that Jason Yu had strangled Kathy Thurston.
Letting go of the whiskey glass, he picked up the noose that had been sent to him at the station. Just as he was certain the Yus were guilty, he was convinced that neither one had sent him this gift. He could not imagine either the father or the son sitting down and writing a line like “have a noose day.”
In his mind, neither fit the profile of a punster. Although he was less familiar with the son, he tried hard to picture either one cracking a real smile. Killers like that, did they even have a sense of humor? Did they tell jokes as they pulled triggers, or as they tightened ropes around women’s necks?
Have a noose day. Chan shook his head, waited for signs that the alcohol was doing its job.
“What is that?”
Chan opened his eyes. The faceless woman sat across from him.
“Elaine?” he whispered. “Is that you?”
Chan opened his eyes. His daughter Sarah was sitting opposite him.
“Sorry,” Chan said. “I’m sorry.”
“What’s that rope? Is that like a noose, for hanging?”
Chan sat up straight. He realized he’d dozed off. “Ah, yes, it’s, I –“
“Why do you have that, Dad?”
Chan didn’t know what to say. Then, “I don’t know, Sarah. It’s just something someone sent to me at work.”
“What? Really? It doesn’t have anything to do with Kathy, does it?”
“I’m sorry you’re seeing this,” said Chan. “I shouldn’t have this out here.”
“Is it about Kathy?” Sarah asked again.
Chan was able to say with conviction, “No, Sarah, it’s not. It’s just someone’s idea of a joke.”
Sarah shook her head. “A joke? Geez. What kind of a sick person thinks getting hung is a joke?”
“Hey,” said Chan, changing the subject. “You shouldn’t be up this late. School tomorrow.”
“Dad, it’s hard to sleep when you’re out here singing.”
Chan stared at his daughter. “Singing?”
“Yeah, Dad. I mean your voice is nice enough and all, but you were getting pretty loud.”
Chan picked up the whiskey glass and examined it. How much had he had?
“I, I’m sorry. I didn’t know I was singing that loud.”
“It’s okay, Dad. Like I said, at least you got a decent voice.”
Chan managed a smile. “Thanks, I try.”
“I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m good, Sarah, I’m good. Go to bed, honey.”
Sarah stood and came around the table to kiss her father on the cheek. He reached back and gave her an awkward one-arm hug.
After his daughter slid the glass door closed behind her, Chan downed the last of the Jack Daniel’s, picked up the noose, and went to the edge of the lānai. Leaning on the railing, he let the rope dangle out over the yard below.
He’d made more than his share of enemies over the years. Some had swung, and those who hadn’t been hanged were finishing off their sentences and walking out of prison all the time. Then of course there were the ones who got away. Always too many of those.
The choices were numerous. If not the Yus, then who?
Chan thought about Kathy Thurston. It wasn’t the first time he’d promised a family that he would find a killer. It was even more maddening when you knew who the perpetrator was but couldn’t find the evidence to indict.
Doing the mental math, Chan remembered that he’d joined the police department 15 long years ago in order to catch his father’s killer. And Byung Yu and daddy Kang Yu were still going strong. It seemed to Chan as if he’d not even made a dent in the machine.
Even if you caught me now, you wouldn’t be able to hang me, Chan thought. The taunt. And the wit. Criminals who loved their jobs, and seemed to chortle with glee about the things they did.
That was what he and the force were up against. All the time.
He breathed deeply, looked out at the Honolulu city lights pushing back against the dark of night.