The House of Missing Keys, Part 5

First thing the next morning, David Chan called down to the evidence lock-up to find out if everything from the scene in Palolo had been processed and logged. It had, so he went down and signed out the ring of three keys. Taking them back to his desk, he laid them on the side of the blotter, then picked up the case file he’d been examining when the call to head out yesterday had come in.

The case was one of a body that had been fished out of Nu‘uanu Stream, on the edge of Chinatown, the week before. The man had drowned, but there was some doubt about his having fallen in. For one thing, there’d been no alcohol or any other substance found ingested or in his blood. He was fit, looked like a very good athlete. That he could have accidentally fallen in and not been able to get back up the side seemed doubtful. There were no marks on the body, however. Could he have fainted, passed out, had some kind of fit?

Chan picked up his cup of coffee, sipped at it, and glanced at the three keys. One for the victim’s house, one for a car, and one, presumably, for another house. He couldn’t quite figure out why he was so focused on the keys.

Just then, Yamamoto came in. He’d been back to the King Surfrider Hotel to question the morning staff who’d already left by the time he’d gone there the day before.

“So any haters?” asked Chan.

“Nope. The guy was like a saint over there. Helping everybody with their work when his was done. I mean the guy even babysat some of the other workers’ kids from time to time.”

“Unbelievable,” said Chan. “It’s like we’re talking Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde.”

“Yeah,” agreed Yamamoto. “A real two-faced guy.”

Chan sat up. “Two-faced,” he said. “You know what? It’s not that he likes one job and hates the other. He’s playing two roles. No. One’s the real him, the other’s a fake.”

“So he’s putting on a Mister Sunshine face at the hotel?”

“No,” said Chan, “I think he’s pretending to be a jackass at the bar.”

Yamamoto gave Chan a curious look. “How on earth you figure that?”

“The goal – the supposed stated goal of Kazu the bar-back is to move to the front. But come on, if you do a crap job as a back, give bad attitude to not one, but to all of your fellow-employees, and slack off on the job, you know you’re never going to get promoted, right?”

“So he’s trying to get fired, then?” asked Yamamoto. “Why not just quit?”

“Yeah,” said Chan, “why not just quit? Or more importantly, why is it that he hasn’t he been fired yet?”

“Real tolerant boss?” speculated Yamamoto.

“Yeah,” said Chan, “his boss down there is Richard Hui, the bar manager. But he’s not the owner. I wonder if only the owner can do the firing?”

“So what if?” said Yamamoto. “I don’t get it. Why pretend to be a jerk? Why get everyone hating you? Why beg to be fired?”

“That’s a very good question,” said Chan. “We need to find out who the owner is.”

A quick call and they had the name. The Holo Holo Bar was owned by a Roger Ammonton, a wealthy restauranteur who owned many venues across the state.

Chan and Yamamoto arrived at Ammonton’s Kāhala home an hour later. The proximity to the Yu Clan residence made them both ill. Byung Yu, the son of the founding head of the local Korean syndicate, Kang Yu, lived just down the road. Yu and his father, Chan was sure, were responsible for the disappearance of Chan’s father, David Senior, a Honolulu Police Department lieutenant who’d gone missing one day when while he was investigating the latest Yu Clan crime. Chan had become a police officer because of his father’s disappearance, and he’d sworn, one day, to see the Yus hang for his father’s murder. The death penalty had recently been abolished, however, so the best Chan could hope for now was life in prison for the son. The father had moved back to Korea, and Chan held out little hope that extradition would work in Kang Yu’s case. It was as if the old man owned South Korea.

A tiny Japanese housekeeper answered the doorbell. Chan identified himself and Yamamoto. She ushered them into a living room that typified Kāhala homes. It was all koa wood and glass, and two- and three-dimensional art galore. The paintings all had to be originals, and any one of them would probably cost a policeman several years’ wages and more.

Chan and Yamamoto did not sit for long. They heard a scream and went running up to the second floor. The shrieks brought them down a corridor to the master bedroom. The bed was a mess of blood and what looked like body parts, or more like parts of more than one body. It was two bodies contorted together.

“Is that his wife?” Chan asked the sobbing housekeeper.

“No no, he’s not married,” she said. “That is Miss Laura, his lady friend.”

Yamamoto called for the coroner while Chan calmed the housekeeper. After she seemed settled, he went back upstairs to take a closer look at the bodies. It was an odd configuration. They were a bit twisted together, arms and legs intertwined, almost as if they’d tried to cover each other, protect each other from their killer. They’d been shot multiple times. This was angry shooting, too. A little wild. Bullets hitting in several areas, at least two misses in the headboard and wall that he could see.

Chan went back downstairs to talk to the housekeeper.

“Did you hear anything?” he asked her.

She had not. She didn’t live on the premises, only came in to make the meals and clean in between cooking sessions.

“And you came in what time this morning?”

“About 7:00. I usually have breakfast ready by 8:00.”

“And does Laura come here often?”

“Oh, yes, every night, I think. I only work weekdays. Mister Ammonton does his own cooking on the weekend. Or he goes out. Mostly goes out, I think.”

“Do you know how long Laura and he have been together?”

“Oh, maybe four months, maybe five.”

“And you’ve worked here how long now?” asked Chan.

“Over one year already.”

“So you’ve seen other girlfriends before Laura?”

“Oh no,” said the housekeeper. “Mister Ammonton never had girlfriends here before Miss Laura. He is always alone until he met her, I think.”

He guessed Ammonton was in his 50s.

“Do you know if he was ever married?” Chan asked.

“I think so. There are no photos or like that,” she said, “but I have always had the feeling he was married once.”

Chan wondered at this intuition. He was anxious to check it out. A jealous ex-wife maybe? And it went without saying that this could very well be related to the murder of Kazu Hatanaka.

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