The House of Missing Keys, Part 2

Mrs. Harumi McDonald did not care for the stares. When she and her husband had lived in Los Angeles, people would gawk at them at the grocery store, at the movies, even when they went for their evening walks. 1960 was right around the corner. The War was 14 years behind them. There were so many veterans who’d come home with war brides from Asia and Europe. But those stares had followed them. Even here in Hawai‘i, Land of Aloha, so many people seemed stunned by a White male and an Asian female together, often walking hand-in-hand.

One night when they’d been out walking around Kapi‘olani Park after dinner, a car had slowed in passing them. The driver had called out that she should go back to Japan. Had the ethnicities been reversed, she White, her husband Asian, the driver probably would have asked her if she were crazy.

Mrs. McDonald knocked on the door. Her brother, Kazu, had not come to Sunday lunch, and he’d not answered the phone when she called. Mr. McDonald had shrugged off his brother-in-law’s non-appearance. He’d never cared for Kazu anyway. There was something off about him. Something wrong. Something unkind.

There was no answer. She knocked again.

“What if something’s happened to him,” she’d said. “What if he’s hurt, fallen down, can’t reach the phone?”

Mr. McDonald had turned the page of his newspaper, was silent on the matter.

She fished her copy of the house key from her purse and unlocked the door, stepped in, and gasped. The pool of blood made her heart leap into her throat. Rushing to her brother, she knelt and pushed at him. “Kazu, Kazu, can you hear me?”

His head was turned to the side facing her, his eyes glassy. She put her head close to his face, listened for breath, sat up, felt for a pulse as she grasped his wrist.

“Oh my God, oh my God.”

She stood and went to the phone, called the police. An ambulance would be dispatched, as well as someone from the department.

Sergeant Victor Yamamoto got the call at his desk. Taking down the details, he hung up.

“Boss,” he said to his Lieutenant, “we’re up.”

David Chan looked up from a file he was reading. It was a current case about a body that had been found in Nu’uanu Stream, at the edge of Chinatown. The expression on his face mirrored the feelings of Sergeant Yamamoto. Another one. One more. After one more. After one more. It never ended.

“But that’s why we get the big money,” Yamamoto said, smiling slightly.

“Yeah, of course we do,” said Chan, closing the folder.

The two drove to a pleasant cul de sac in the back of Pālolo Valley. The ambulance was already there. The head shakes meant that Kazu Hatanaka was no longer a member of the land of the living.

Yamamoto sat with Mrs. McDonald, taking down the details of her story. Chan called the ME’s office. Because it was Sunday, they were short-staffed. Henry Lee, the ME himself, said he’d be there as soon as possible. Meanwhile, he’d dispatch the forensic team.

Chan didn’t want to move the body, turn it over. He fished in the dead man’s pants pockets as best he could. His search turned up the man’s wallet and a set of keys, one a house key, the other a car key, from their appearance.

Other than that, the pockets were empty. Chan went over to the front door. He tried the house hey in the lock. It worked. Stepping out onto the lānai, he walked down the three steps to the concrete driveway, turned the other key in the door of a late model Chevy. That worked as well.

The forensic team arrived and headed into the house, Chan right behind. Jimmy Doi began shooting photos. David Malama chalked the body outline. Chris Antolini started dusting for prints: the doorknob just in case, although Mrs. McDonald had managed to use both the front door exterior nob and the interior one.

“Let’s flip him,” said Yamamoto, having finished up his interview with Mrs. McDonald.

Together they turned Hatanaka on his back.

“His keys,” said Yamamoto, pointing to a ring with three keys on it, sitting in the middle of the pool of Hatanaka’s blood.

“No,” said Chan, holding out the keys he held. “I got these out of his pocket.”

Yamamoto used his pen to fish the keys out of the blood.

“No need be so careful,” said Antolini. “We wouldn’t be able to get any prints off of those with all that blood.”

“I know,” said Yamamoto, “I didn’t want to get my hands dirty.”

He and Chan proceeded to the kitchen. Yamamoto washed off the keys at the sink.

“So whose are these?” he asked.

“I’m guessing it’s someone who didn’t care much for Kazu Hatanaka,” said Chan. “That one,” he touched one of the keys, “looks like this one.”

Chan held up the house key. Yamamoto took it and pressed them together. The profiles matched. Just to be sure, the two went to the front door. The key worked.

Yamamoto said, “She says, as far as she knows, he lives here alone. He’s not married.”

“Girlfriend?” said Chan.

“No, she’s sure there’s no girlfriend,” said Yamamoto.

“Huh.” Chan thought for a second. “Housekeeper?”

“Didn’t ask,” said Yamamoto.

The two went over to the flowered rattan couch where Mrs. McDonald sat. She’d stop weeping; now she looked pale and drained.

“Do you know if your brother has a housekeeper?” asked Chan.

She shook her head. “I’m his housekeeper.”

“I see,” said Chan. “So you’re here a lot, then?”

“Only once a week. I usually come on Monday. Tomorrow.”

“And you know of no girlfriend?”

“Ah,” said Mrs. McDonald, “no. He has no girlfriends.”

There was something about the way she answered his question that piqued Chan’s interest.

“No girlfriends?” he asked. “Never?”

Mrs. McDonald gasped as if she were breaking the surface, sucking in air. Then looking from Yamamoto to Chan, she said. “No. Never any girlfriends,” and began to weep again.

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