The House of Missing Keys, Part 12

The next morning on the drive over to Kailua, Chan told his partner what had transpired the night before in Chinatown after he’d left the Blue Light and headed for Nu‘uanu Stream instead of driving home. He mentioned how he’d been tempted to go into The Palms to see if there were any employees he could interview whom Yamamoto had not. How the place had been so busy that he headed for the stream instead.

“So still, David,” said Yamamoto, “you don’t know why Duke Goto was there, right?”

Chan sighed. “No. I asked, but he skirted the question.”

“And you’re saying you like him for drowning Keola Waioli in the stream.”

“I do. I’m telling you, Vic, I could feel it in my gut.”

“And if he did kill Waioli, you want to figure out how he killed everyone else.”

“That right. He’s behind it all. I know it.”

“Boss, the only tie-in I see, being objective, is that both Goto and Waioli work out at Central Y. Now objectively speaking, maybe we gotta go back there and build the case from that as our foundation.”

Chan contemplated this. “Okay, I guess you’re right. That’d be a good way to go at it. Anyway, let’s check this key on the boat.”

They arrived at the home of Glenn Makia. To look at it, you’d never know it was the scene of a homicide. The boat bobbing at the pier seemed so distant from the killing of David Pomeroy.

They boarded the boat and went to the cabin door entrance. Chan put the key in the doorknob lock. It fit well. He turned it and pushed against the door. It was locked.

“Damn it,” said Chan.

“David, it was left unlocked maybe?”

Chan turned the key the other way, and sure enough, when he pushed at it the door swung open. So whoever killed Kazu Hatanaka had three keys: one for Hatanaka’s house, one for his car, and one for the cabin door on Glenn Makia’s boat.

Could it be Duke Goto? If so, why?

The two detectives left the boat and headed for the house. As they rounded the front, they observed someone bent over off to the side of the front door.

“Excuse me,” said Chan, reaching for his badge.

The person rose to her full height, which was slight. They recognized her. Harumi McDonald, Kazu Hatanaka’s sister.

“Missus McDonald?” said Chan, surprised to see her. “What are you doing here?”

Right away he could sense her own perhaps over-surprise. She said nervously, “Oh, Lieutenant Chan, I, I clean here.”

Chan and Yamamoto glanced here.

Chan said, “You, you’re Mister Makia’s housekeeper?”

She fidgeted with whatever it was she appeared to have picked up from the ground.

“Well, once a week I clean for him.”

“Huh,” said Yamamoto. “So you know he’s dead, right?”

“What? Dead? How? When did that happen?” The small woman seemed genuinely flustered by this news.

Chan said, “He was murdered here yesterday.”

“Oh my goodness,” said Mrs. McDonald, “that is terrible.”

“Yeah,” said Yamamoto. “He was shot, just like your brother.”

Mrs. McDonald said nothing, continued to fidget.

“So you’d not heard, and you’re here to clean then?” asked Chan.

“Yes, yes,” said Mrs. McDonald. She held up the object she’d picked off the ground.

“What’s this?” asked Chan, stepping toward her.

“The key. The key for the front door.” She gestured toward it. He keeps it under this pot.” She pointed to a potted Boston fern.

“I see,” said Chan. “Well, you won’t need to clean today. This is an active crime scene. You wouldn’t be able to enter. It’s a good thing we were here to stop you, anyway. I’m sure the scene would be disturbing given your brother’s death.”

“And he won’t need your services anymore,” added Yamamoto, reaching for the key.

Harumi McDonald handed it over, her hand shaking some.

“Missus McDonald,” said Chan, “how is it that you came by this job?”

“Oh, I,” said Mrs. Mcdonald, visibly more nervous now, “I, well, I clean for lots of people.”

Chan shook his head. “That’s not what I mean, Ma’am. I’m asking how did you come to have this job. How did Mister Makia happen to hire you?”

“Oh, friends, word of mouth,” she said. “You know.”

“Geez, lady,” said Yamamoto, “can you just tell us who introduced the two of you?”

Mrs. McDonald’s eyes shot back and forth between the two men. It seemed as if she were about to faint. And then she did, collapsing on the front steps.

Chan tried to catch her, but couldn’t. Using the key she’d handed over, Yamamoto opened the front door. The two carried the woman to the couch beside the blood-splattered chair where someone had tried to fake the suicide of Glenn Makia.

Chan went to the kitchen and came back with a glass of water. Kneeling beside Mrs. McDonald, he patted her face gently.

“Missus McDonald? Mrs. McDonald.”

“Toss some on her face,” suggested Yamamoto.

Chan dipped his fingers in the glass and sprinkled water on her face, continuing to say her name, both as a question and as a statement.

Gradually Mrs. McDonald revived.

“Missus McDonald,” said Chan, “would you like some water?”

The tiny woman shook her head. “No, Mister Chan, no water. I, I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened.”

“What happened is you fainted,” said Yamamoto, “after I asked you who hooked you up with Glenn Makia.”

Mrs. McDonald closed her eyes. “A boy named David Pomeroy,” she said. “He, ah, he was a friend of Kazu’s. He said he knew that Mister Makia needed a maid. Would I like the job? I said yes.”

“How long have you been doing this?” asked Chan.

She closed her eyes again, as though figuring this took some heavy thought.

“This is my third week,” she said.

The two policemen looked at each other.

“Okay, Ma’am,” said Chan. “Let’s help you to your car.”

Chan put his arm around her waist and assisted her out the front door which Yamamoto locked.

Out on the street, Chan, very gently, eased the small woman into the driver’s seat of her car.

The two partners stepped away from the car as she started it up.

“Oh,” said Chan, “one more thing.”

Mrs. McDonald looked up at him from the car window.

“Do you clean the boat as well?”

Again her nervousness was palpable. “Yes, yes I do clean the boat.”

“Do you have a key for it?”

“A key, well, no, I don’t. He leaves the door unlocked one the day he knows I’m coming.”

“So he would have left the door unlocked for you today.”

“Yes, yes,” she said.

“Thank you,” said Chan. “Drive safely.”

Mrs. McDonald nodded to him, then to Yamamoto, and then slowly drove off.

Chan retrieved the set of three keys from his pocket.

“Damn,” said Yamamoto. “Can’t be.”

“She was awfully nervous,” said Chan.

“But then why would those keys be there under her brother’s body?”

Chan closed his hand over the three keys. Looking at his partner, he said nothing. He could think of nothing to say.

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