The House of Missing Keys, Part 8

When Chan arrived at the station, Yamamoto was already at his desk.

“Anything?” asked Chan.

“Yeah.  Wow.  You don’t look like you want to guess.  What happened to you?”

Chan slumped in his chair.  “Well, let’s just say that every once in a while I get a stark reminder of how shitty people can be to other people.”

“We do work homicide, David.  It can’t be that much of a surprise.”

Shaking his head, Chan said, “That’s not what I mean.  I mean the way people treat people.  People’s attitudes.  How we treat other human beings as second-class citizens or worse.  It makes me sick sometimes.  And the ones who claim to be squeaky clean, morally superior angels, they oftentimes turn out to be a lot less squeaky clean than they boast.  Bunch of damn hypocrites.”

Yamamoto listened, nodded.  It wasn’t often his partner talked this way.  Silence ensued.

“So, yeah,” said Chan finally, “don’t make me guess.”

“Okay, I won’t,” said Yamamoto.  “You might be very surprised to hear that the folks over at The Palms are mourning the death of one of their owners.”

“You’re kidding,” said Chan.  “Ammanton owned The Palms?”

“Co-owned.  There are three of them.  The other two are a Richard Souza, and a Glenn Makia.”

“Were they there?”

“No, boss, they weren’t.  But I got home addresses and phone numbers for both.  I tried calling.  Neither one’s home.  I’ll try again later.”

“Well, I did find someone who knew Kazu Hatanaka,” said Chan.  “One of the performers in the review there.  Hatanaka wasn’t a performer, but the friend says he was a prostitute, dressed as a woman when he worked.”

“Huh,” said Yamamoto, “that could be motive, right?  The John’s surprised to find out.”

“Yeah, could be,” said Chan, “but that would hardly tie everything together.”

“Maybe things don’t fit together,” said Yamamoto.  “Maybe the killings of Hatanaka, Ammonton and that Laura, and your guy in Nu‘uanu Stream, Keola Waioli, maybe they’re all unrelated.”

Chan looked at Yamamoto.  “Vic, in your gut, do you really believe that?”

Yamamoto shook his head without hesitation.  “No, David, no.  I agree.  There has to be something.  For Ammonton, Laura, and Hatanaka for sure.”

“So because you’re referring to her as Laura still, I guess that means Hank Lee didn’t ID him yet?”

“No, and I called him when I came back,” said Yamamoto.  “Still nothing.  I guess we better put his picture in the paper and see what we get.”

“No,” said Chan.  “I don’t want to do that.”

Yamamoto waited for an explanation.  None came.  Chan leaned back and examined the ceiling.

“Okay,” said Yamamoto, “what not?  That’s SOP for us.”

“Not this one,” said Chan leaning his elbows on the desk and looking at his partner.  “These men, Vic, a lot of them are forced to live their lives – that part of their lives in secret.  Society puts them in this position, makes their lifestyle seem shameful, something they should be ashamed of.  If Laura was living that part of his life in the shadows, not wanting maybe family and friends to know, then I sure don’t want to plaster his picture in the paper.  It may have been hard for him to live that way.  I don’t want to make it harder for him to die that way, too.  If it was a secret, I say we respect that and keep it that way.”

Yamamoto nodded.  “Agreed, David.  There are other ways to come at this.”

“Vic, did you ask the people there about Hatanaka and Wailoli?”

“I did.  And, of course, I asked them if they knew anyone who went by the name of Laura.  Nothing.”

“Well,” said Chan, “we wait for missing person reports on Laura.  The next thing we do is talk to The Palms’ other two owners.”

“Let me call again,” said Yamamoto.

Both were now home.  Yamamoto informed them that they should stay put and wait for him or Chan to come by to interview them.

“David, you want to split ‘em?”

“No, Vic, let’s the two of us both talk to both of them.”

First up was Richard Souza.  Chan and Yamamoto were surprised by how humble a home he owned.  The two had expected, since Souza was part-owner of a club as successful as The Palms was supposed to be, something a little more lavish.

Souza lived just below the campus of Kamehameha Schools in a simple two-story plantation-style home.  His wife greeted the two detectives at the door and ushered them into a very simple living room with comfortable old furniture.

The two sat and waited for Richard Souza to come upstairs from his home office down below.

After exchanging pleasantries, Chan asked him if he knew about Ammonton’s death.

“Oh yes, of course, I was at the club when the news came in.”

“Just out of curiosity,” said Yamamoto, “how did the news come into the club?”

“Oh, Glenn called to let us know.”

Chan said, “Glenn Makia.”

“Yes,” said Souza.

“And,” asked Chan, “how did Mister Makia find out about it?”

“Well,” said Souza, hesitating, “I thought he would have found out from you?”

“From me?” asked Chan.

“Oh, well, not necessarily from you personally.  I mean the police.  That they might have contacted him.”

Chan and Yamamoto exchanged interested looks.

“Well, perhaps that is the case,” said Chan.  “And that was the first you or anyone at the club had heard about it?”

“As far as I know,” said Souza.

“This is a very nice house,” Yamamoto commented.

“Oh, well, thank you,” said Souza.  “It was my parents’.  I’m actually the third generation to live here.  My dad’s parents bought it originally.”

“I like these simple old plantation homes,” said Yamamoto.  “Very unpretentious.”

“Right, right,” said Souza, sounding a bit puzzled.

“Mister Souza,” said Yamamoto, “were you, Mister Makia, and Mister Ammonton equal partners in The Palms.”

“Well,” said Souza, “actually no.  Roger had a fifty percent share.  Glenn and I each had twenty-five percent.”

“I see,” said Chan.  “And with Mister Ammonton now gone, does ownerships now fall to you two?”

“Yes, yes it does.  We’ll each be half-owners now.  Fifty-fifty.”

“Well,” said Chan, “congratulations on that, Mister Souza.”

He and Yamamoto rose from their seats.

“Thank you so much for your time.”

And with that, the two departed the Souza home and headed for Glenn Makia’s place in Kailua.

“Hmmm,” said Yamamoto, “taking over the club might be motive enough.  I mean look that the guy’s house.  It’s something even a cop could afford.”

“Yeah,” said Chan, “but as a quarter owner maybe he didn’t make a lot.”

“A quarter owner until now.”

“Yeah, but what about the scene at Ammonton’s?” Chan said.  “We agree it looks like the killer was probably angry, right?  I don’t get the feeling that Souza could get all that worked up about anything.”

“Right,” said Yamamoto, “he sure didn’t sound too broken up about getting his hands on another quarter of the club, though.”

Chan said, “Well, he wasn’t exactly rubbing his hands together with glee either.”

Yamamoto nodded.  “Okay, maybe.  Still, there’re some grounds for motive there.”

“Okay,” said Chan.  “Okay.”

“Holy shit!” said Yamamoto as they pulled up in front of Makia’s beachside home.  “Now this is a quarter owner, too, boss.  Looks to me, what with that attached dock and the big boat that this must be a whole lot bigger quarter than Souza’s.”

Chan had to admit it.  This was more of what he might have expected from a co-owner of a successful nightclub.  But one with only a 25% share?

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