The House of Missing Keys, Part 14

As Chan and Yamamoto waited for the coroner, Hank Lee, to arrive, they sat on the sofa across the coffee table from the chair where Harumi McDonald’s body sat. They’d examined the body and the position of the gun carefully but were not able to draw any conclusion. Hank Lee would know better if this were a genuine suicide.

Yamamoto said, “Well, if it is suicide, she’s looking good for killing her brother, for sure.”

“Yeah,” agreed Chan, morose at the thought of fratricide. “And if it is another faked suicide, then what?”

“Well,” said Yamamoto, “she still could have killed her brother.”

“Yeah, right,” agreed Chan. “Great.”

“And then,” continued Yamamoto, “some accomplice, a partner in something, is tying a bow on this package. The brother may have been loose end number one, and this sister loose end number two.”

“Of course,” said Chan, “we agree she knew something. They may have both been loose ends. The person tying the bow may be the only killer involved.”

Yamamoto glanced at his partner. “And that person would be the one who killed them, the couple of Ammonton and whoever Laura is, Makia and Pomeroy – who may or may not be a couple, and also held big man Keola Wailoli underwater.”

Chan swiveled to look at his partner. “And you’re saying that’s not possible, right?”

“No no no,” said Yamamoto.

Chan waited. Then, “And?”

“And nothing,” said Yamamoto. “Hey, if we can make it all fit, more power to us.”

There was no sarcasm in the statement. Yamamoto, even if he didn’t believe this scenario, at least was willing to entertain the possibility if his partner believed it.

The two sat silently.

“Hey,” said Yamamoto, sitting up straight. “Look at that chair.”

Chan focused on the rattan chair in which the woman sat slumped. “Okay,” he said.

“And this couch,” said Yamamoto, running his hand over the flower-patterned cushion.

“Okay,” said Chan, “a matching chair and couch, and – Huh. They’re identical to the chair and couch that her brother owned. You think there’s something to it?”

At that moment, Mr. Abbot McDonald came through the front door. Chan had called his office to ask him to come home, not telling him why other than that he needed to talk to him.

McDonald’s reaction was as horrible as could be expected, and the two, watching him for any signs of faked emotion, did not find his reactions to be anything but genuine. Once they were able to settle him down, they let him sit for a while in the kitchen to gather himself before they began asking questions.

At one point Chan asked, “Mister McDonald, did you know Kazu was homosexual?”

McDonald nodded. “Yes, yes I did. It never bothered me, but my wife, well, you know the way very old-school traditional families are about those things.”

Yamamoto asked, “So you mean she was definitely upset about it?”

Again McDonald nodded. “Yes, she definitely was. Some nights he’d be over here and they’d argue about it, very heated, about his lifestyle, his choice of friends. It was all so unpleasant. It got so that I wished he wouldn’t come by anymore. It was so ugly and getting uglier every time.”

Hank Lee arrived at that moment, along with the forensics people. Chan explained the situation to Lee and asked him to take extra care in determining the cause of death as it might relate to a second staged suicide.

Rejoining his partner and McDonald at the dining room table, Chan said, “Mister McDonald, we noticed that you and your brother-in-law have the same rattan furniture in your living rooms, the same floral pattern cushions.”

McDonald, who was working down a generous portion of a single malt, nodded. “Yes, yes, they bought them at the same time. My mother-in-law convinced them that they could get a good deal if they both bought sets simultaneously.”

“Your mother-in-law?” said Chan. “So their mother is alive and here in Hawai‘i?”

“Oh yes,” said McDonald, “God, yes. After her husband died, she moved here from Japan.”

“We didn’t know she existed,” said Chan.

“Oh, believe you me, Lieutenant, she exists, all right,” said McDonald. “Heaven help us.”

“What do you mean?” asked Chan.

McDonald shook his head. “For such a little woman, she has the temper of a giantess. I felt for both my wife and her brother. Apparently, their upbringing is the primary reason they escaped from Japan as soon as they were old enough to do so. That little lady was a tyrant to them growing up. To look at her you’d think she was this meek little gentlewoman, but go and do anything she didn’t like, and she’d blow up like an atomic bomb. Harumi was convinced that she sent their father to an early grave.”

“You mean killed him?” asked Yamamoto.

“Well, not quite that, Sergeant. Seems she just generally harassed him every waking hour of the day. Nothing he ever did was good enough. She demanded more from him. She demanded more of everything from all of them. She was, is, driven.”

Chan and Yamamoto gave each other knowing looks.

“Driven to do what?” asked Yamamoto.

McDonald stopped sipping and looked at Yamamoto over the rim of his glass. He said nothing, simply shook his head as he laid the glass down gently on the table.

“Can you tell us where she lives?” asked Chan.

With an address in hand, the two detectives headed the short distance to Kaimukī. When they arrived, there was no one home.

“And so?” said Yamamoto.

“We wait.”

The sun had almost disappeared when the figure of a small woman came down the sidewalk and turned up the walkway toward the front door. Chan and Yamamoto exited their car, crossed the street, and came up the walkway behind her, reaching the three steps up to the door just as she pushed it open.

“Police, Missus Hatanaka,” said Chan.

Flipping on the porch light, the startled woman turned to face Chan holding out his badge.

What the two detectives saw staggered both of them. The little woman was none other than Harue Hata, Roger Ammanton’s housekeeper.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s