The House of Missing Keys, Part 11

“Lieutenant Chan, good evening,” said the huge shadow.

Chan recognized the voice immediately. The bartender of the Holo Holo Bar had looked like a big man when Chan spoke to him across the bar. But now, standing side by side with him, Chan could see that he was huge.

“Mister Goto,” said Chan, still examining their two shadows in the dark water, not turning to look at him. “This is quite the coincidence.”

“Really? Huh, I was going to say the same thing,” said Duke Goto. “I hardly ever come downtown, ‘cause I live and work Waikīkī, yeah. So hard to believe I would run into you over here.”

With The Palms two blocks away, Chan wondered how much of a coincidence this might be. If Goto didn’t come this way often, why now?

“So what brings you to our side of town?” asked Chan, referencing the fact that the Honolulu police station was also just five blocks away.

“Huh,” said Goto, sounding as if he were actually contemplating the existentialist metaphysics of the situation. “Lotta dying going on, yeah?”

“Yes,” said Chan, “more than’s healthy for anyone living.”

Goto laughed. “You know The Palms, right, Lieutenant?”

“Yes,” said Chan, all of a sudden wishing that he had a knob with him, one he could turn to make Duke Goto smaller. “It’s Ammonton’s place, too.”

Goto did not speak. Then, after some silence, “I’m glad that buggah is dead, you know?” The way Goto said this made Chan turn to look up at his face. It was too much masked in shadows to see clearly.

“Why’s that?” Chan asked.

There was more silence.

“You was asking me how come Kazu was such a lousy worker, right? How that could be if he really wanted to move up the ladder at Holo Holo?”

He paused. Chan waited.

Finally, “When he came to work, at first, he was good. Really good, really. But something happened to him. After a while, he got all futless, all habut. Could tell something started eating at him.”

Chan wanted to hear this.

“So Ammonton, with Kazu, something happened. You know Ammonton was mahu, right?”

Chan didn’t like the word. To be mahu was a local term for homosexual. The way it was used now, there was always heat behind it. Prejudice, hatred. So Goto was in that camp.

“Well, at least when I figured out Kazu was, and wasn’t hard to figure, believe me, I knew Ammonton must have known somehow. Cause he’d come in when Kazu was working, and lotta times he’d tell Kazu for come in the back office with him. I tell you, when Kazu came back, he’d be pissed.”

Chan spoke up. “So you think Ammonton was having sexual relations with Kazu? Forcing him?”

“Huh, yeah, take my word for it, Lieutenant. He was. Everybody knew Ammonton was a fag.”

That term angered Chan even more.  The cruelty behind his use of the word was disturbing.  What might bring Duke Goto within a stone’s throw of The Palms?

Goto continued. “But he never got into our faces about it. With Kazu, was different.”

“You know,” said Chan, “if Kazu Hatanaka didn’t want to have relations with Ammonton, why didn’t he just quit, go find another job?”

Goto laughed. “Shit, man, he couldn’t. Ammonton had something on him, I tell you.”

This didn’t make sense to Chan. “How? Like what?”

Goto said, “I think he wanted Kazu under his finger, and close. And Kazu had to do it. He couldn’t escape.”

Chan thought about this. “That’s an important idea,” he said. “So how come you didn’t tell me all of this when I was interviewing you?” Chan’s neck hurt from turning to look up and having to hold the position.

Goto turned and looked down at him. “I don’t know, Lieutenant. Seeing you here, how weird it is to run into you when I hardly ever come to Chinatown, maybe I think Kazu needs for you to know. That’s what coincidence does, yeah? It can make you look at stuff different.”

This sentiment struck Chan as very much out of character. “Mister Goto,” he said, trying for the right wording. “Were you and Kazu ever friends?”

Goto stared off into the water. “With that guy? Nah, I don’t go for that.”

He’d not sounded outright offended, but Goto had obviously known exactly what Chan meant. Still, the way he said it, Goto convinced Chan that he really did not care for homosexuals. He looked off into the water as well, and the two stood side-by-side without saying anything for a while.

Finally, Chan said, “By the way, what brings you down here tonight?”

Duke Goto continued to say nothing. Then abruptly he turned and walked off.

“Good night, Lieutenant,” he said, fading away down towards Honolulu Harbor.

Chan didn’t reply. Instead, he kept looking off into the flowing stream.

“Hello,” came a deep voice from behind him. Chan turned and saw a tall, slim woman fit into a very tight dress. “Interested in anything, mister?”

“Uh, no,” said Chan, not caring say he was with the police.

A vision of Kazu Hatanaka’s murdered friend, David Pomeroy, passed through Chan’s mind. The woman walked off; Chan turned back to water-gazing. And then a vision of Keola Waioli floating face down in the stream came to him. He watched after the disappearing woman. Then he thought about Duke Goto’s prejudice, his hatred, and a chill ran down his spine. What would bring Goto to Chinatown?

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