The House of Missing Keys, Part 3

“Wouldn’t it be great,” said Yamamoto, “if there were a place where every key made was cataloged? Then we’d be able to match the profile of any key found.”

“Well,” said Chan, “it would be no piece of cake to try to match a profile by looking at pictures of every key in the world.”

Yamamoto laughed. “But what if there were a machine fast enough to do the matching? Much faster than a human being? You pop in a key profile and bam! The machine rips through every key photo on file. Faster than a speeding bullet.”

“Yeah,” said Chan. “That would be progress, all right. And if we had machines that could do that, we could use them for mugshots, too.”

“And fingerprints,” added Yamamoto. “A central office that kept all of that info, like the FBI or something, that would have all of that kind of stuff on file. Then we could share it with police departments around the country. Or be part of INTERPOL and share it around the world.”

“That would be a dream come true,” said Chan, “except for one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“We would have to have the profiles of every key on earth, and that would never happen.”

“Yeah, true. And, of course, we’d only have the mugshots and fingerprints of people who’d been photographed and fingerprinted by a law enforcement agency.”

“Yeah,” agreed Chan.

“Still,” said Yamamoto, “we’d have more information at our fingertips than we have now.”

“Well,” said Chan, “think positive, Victor. This is 1959. The way things are progressing nowadays, we may have machines like that before you and I die.”

Yamamoto took his eyes off the road, glancing over at his partner. “You mean retire, right? We’d have machines like that before we retire. Dead ain’t gonna do us any good, David. We could use those machines while we’re still on the force.”

Chan laughed. “Well, let’s knock on wood. Okay, yeah, let’s get them while we can still use them. And if we’re real old by the time we have that capability, and if I have a hard time getting around in my old policeman age, maybe I can have one of those machines on my desk at home, you know, so I can do all my work from home, matching key profiles, mugshots, fingerprints, whatever. Yeah, working from home. That I could handle. I wish I could do it right now.”

Yamamoto laughed. “Yeah working from home. That would be awesome except for us having to go to crime scenes.”

“Hmmm,” mused Chan. “We’ve got cameras, haven’t we. You and I could hire someone to go to the scenes and send the information right to our new-fangled machines. Never have to leave the house.”

“I’m all in,” said Yamamoto. “Let’s figure out how we can patten all of this.”

“Yeah,” said Chan, “let’s definitely work on that in our free time. I could try building one of those machines in my garage on nights and weekends.”

“I’ll bring the beer and the supervisory capability,” said Yamamoto.

They arrived back at the station. Yamamoto let Chan out by his car.

“So Vic,” Chan said, “we know Kazu Hatanaka had two jobs. The Holo Holo Bar on Kūhiō, and The King Surfrider Hotel across the zoo. I’ll take the bar, you take the hotel. After we get any information we can, we’ll meet back here.”

“Sounds good, boss,” said Yamamoto. “And take a picture of every key you run across so we can add it to our useful information base.”

Chan laughed. “If I only had a camera.”

“Hey,” said Yamamoto, “I have a Nikon at home. You want to borrow it?”

Chan laughed again and closed the door. “One day we’ll all be carrying cameras around with us, mark my word. One day we’ll have photos of everything on the planet.”

Yamamoto drove off. Chan sat in his car, turning in his mind the picture of the three keys they’d found under the dead man’s body. He smiled. What if, he wondered, he asked everyone associated with the case, everyone they interviewed, to show them their car and house keys? Maybe he should borrow a camera from the forensics lab, start making a collection of key photos?

He laughed out loud, then stopped abruptly. What if, he wondered, he asked to see a house key and a car key, if the person had a car, and someone was unable to produce one or the other or both? Would he possibly be face-to-face with Kazu Hatanaka’s killer?

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