The House of Missing Keys, Part 10

David Chan sat at the dining room table cleaning his service revolver. He always cleaned his personal one first, although he wasn’t sure why.

Out in the parlor, Sarah and Dave III were doing homework while listening to Hawai‘i Calls on the radio. Webley Edwards introduced John Almeida, saying he would play his classic composition, “Green Rose Hula.” Almeida, the blind musician nicknamed the Dean of Hawaiian Music for his prolific songwriting over the years, very kindly noted, before he began playing, that the song had been written as well by Laida Paia, and Mrs. James Keoni Willis.

Chan wanted some Jack Daniels, but he never drank when he was handling his guns. He mused about how often people attribute things to people, forgetting that others may be due credit for their contribution as well.

One of the things that ate at him most about all of this was the dual personality of Kazu Hatanaka. The model employee at the King’s Surfrider Hotel, and the surly, lazy barback at the Holo Holo Bar. Why? He’d guessed that Hatanaka was actually the model employee, but that he was acting up at the Holo Holo Bar. But why?

Chan made a mental note to go back to the bar and ask more questions about Hatanaka’s behavior. It would be good, since he was Hatanaka’s immediate boss, to talk to the bartender, Duke Goto. Goto’s dislike for Hatanaka seemed a little harsh, but then Chan wasn’t working side-by-side with Hatanaka.

Locking his weapons back in the bedroom closet safe, Chan headed out to pour himself a Jack Daniel’s. It was his favorite because it had been Elaine’s favorite, not for drinking, because she didn’t, but for cooking. Every time he picked up the bottle, he could feel the warmth of her hand. Every time
He sipped, he could taster her cooking, her chili, and her spaghetti most clearly in his sense memory.

On his way to the lānai, Chan was waylaid by his children.

“Hey, Dad, when are you going to buy us a TV?” asked Sarah. Sarah was older by three years.

“What’s wrong with the radio?” replied Chan.

“It’s so primitive,” said Sarah.

“Yeah, primitive,” said Dave III.

Chan frowned at this son. “You know what she means?”

“Yeah, ancient.”

“It’s so not hip,” added Sarah.

Chan shook his head. “I tell you what. When they start making the screens bigger, we’ll check them out. I don’t want to go blind watching the thing. Hey, look at,” he went on. “If the radio’s too soft, you can turn it up. But if the TV picture is too small, there’s no way you can make it bigger. There’s no knob you can turn so the screen gets bigger.” He laughed at his joke.

“Oh, Dad,” said Sarah, “you are so not funny.”

“Yeah,” added Dave III, “not funny.”

The phone rang. Chan picked up. It was Victor Yamamoto.

“So what you up to?” asked Yamamoto.

“I was about to go sit on my lānai and drink a little Jack.”

“You want to drink alone or you want company?”

“Where are you?” asked Chan.

“The Blue Light.”

The Blue Light Bar and Grill was a bar and restaurant a couple of blocks up from the police station in Chinatown. It was popular with plenty of policemen, and a lot of the professional wrestlers frequented the place as well. Chan and the other three members of the Hawai‘i 4-9 team held many of their powwows there.

“I’ll be right down,” said Chan.

Chan poured the Jack into the bottle being careful not to spill a drop. Then he dressed and opened the safe again, dropping his service piece into his shoulder holster.

The Blue Light was packed. The owner, Rick Yamanaha greeted him and walked him over to Yamamoto sitting at the bar.

“You look like hell,” said Yamanaha.

“Thanks,” said Chan, “I needed that.”

“And here’s something else you need,” said Yamamoto, pointing to a JD double sitting on the bar.

Chan sat and told Rick he was a dick. They’d grown up together, so the rhyme had become automatic over time.

Yamanaha just laughed and walked off to say hello to other customers.

Chan and Yamamoto clinked glasses. Yamamoto was drinking a schooner of Primo Draft.

“You know,” said Chan. “I’ve been trying that third key everywhere we go, but I didn’t try it on the door to below deck on Makia boat.”

“Let’s not go now,” said Yamamoto, “if that’s okay with you.”

Chan laughed. “Nah, I’m too beat to drive, and that Pāli Road run is a little too tough at this time of night after a double shot. But tomorrow, first thing.”

Yamamoto shook his head. “This case is f’ed up, David. Are we sure that all of the cases are related? I mean you’d think yeah, obviously, but really, is it? For one, Keola Waioli drowned in Nu‘uanu Stream. Yeah, he one of the jocks lifting weights at Central Y, but let’s face it, a lotta muscle-heads do. That’s like pure coincidence maybe.”

Chan watched the two of them in the mirror behind the bar. “Huh,” he said. “I was just thinking about misattribution a little while ago.”

“Say what?” asked Yamamoto.

Explaining the incident on “Hawai‘i Calls,” Chan admitted that he might be trying too hard to tie that one in. “But, Vic, the others, Hatanaka, Ammanton and this kid we only know as Laura, and then David Pomeroy and Glenn Makia, they’ve got to be connected.” He sipped. “They’ve just got to be.”

“Yeah,” agreed Yamamoto, “which makes me double down on the one. It is double f-ed up.”

Chan had to chuckle again. “Thank goodness for moments like this to help un-f it.”

The friends clinked glasses again.

“Another one?” asked Yamamoto.

“Nah, Vic, I’m beat. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Sunday?” asked Yamamoto. “You really are twenty-four-seven man, you know?”

“Did you just come up with that?” said Chan.

“What, twenty-four-seven?”

“Yeah. I mean it is you, isn’t it?”

“I like it,” said Chan. “You should copyright that before it gets popular.”

Yamamoto laughed. “See you in the morning. Boss.”

Stepping out of the Blue Light, Chan stopped on the way to his car. The Palms was just down the street. Should he stop by just to see what was going on? He could talk to any staff Yamamoto might not have questioned.

He turned onto Hotel Street and walked in the direction of The Palms. It amazed him really, with the police station only a few blocks away, that he’d never been inside The Palms. As he neared the bar, he could see that people were spilling out into the street.

“Nah,” thought Chan, “no more crowds. Not tonight.”

He walked right by the entrance and kept going until he reached Nu‘uanu Stream. Leaning against the low wall, he looked down into the dark water, the streetlight overhead casting the shadow of his head and shoulders on it.

While he watched himself and contemplated the drowning of Keola Waioli, a much larger dark reflection appeared next to him on his left side. It was too large for Yamamoto. Chan turned to see who had joined him. It was a man. A very large man. And even in the bad streetlighting, he looked familiar.

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