The House of Missing Keys, Part 18

The two finished their drinks without solving the case. They said their goodnights to Rick Tamanaha and the rest of the regulars at the Bluelight Bar and Grill, then headed out to get home, get some sleep, and then start again to solve this case that seemed to be running down the drain faster than they could catch up with it.

As they opened their car doors, Yamamoto said, “If you figure it out tonight, call me so I don’t have to get up early tomorrow.”

Again Chan laughed. Yamamoto was the best tonic there could be for the kind of fatigue they were both feeling at this point.

Chan watched his partner drive off. Sitting in his car, he was torn between the need for sleep and the desire to finish off the case. The idling engine had a calming effect. He closed his eyes.

When he opened them again, he wasn’t sure how long he’d been sitting there. Checking his watch, he saw he’d been cat-napping for only five minutes. Groggy, he killed the engine and got out of the car.

Chan walked toward The Palms. Again people were flowing out on the street. Yes, whoever would inherit this place was stepping into a satin-lined gold mine.

With luck, thought Chan, they’d find out the Souzas had kids who killed to inherit. He tried to smile, but it wasn’t funny. This rabbit hole ran long and deep.

Coming to River Street, he crossed over and leaned against the wall, stared down into the dark water of Nu‘uanu Stream. The water barely moved. The termites were out swarming the streetlights that seemed only just bright enough so you could see the posts right before you ran into them.

The rabbit hole. Alice in Wonderland. He thought about how much his son and daughter had liked that story when they were younger. He watched his shadow reflecting in the stream. Still groggy, he closed his eyes.

Again he opened them, wondering how long he’d been standing there. He blinked. His shadow was still there, but there was another one moving toward him. It was a big one. That big one.

“Good evening, Lieutenant.”

Chan didn’t look up, didn’t respond.

“Another coincidence, huh?”

Chan blinked. Said nothing.

“So how’s the case going? Catch any killers yet?”

A moment of silence passed between them. Finally, Chan said, “Well, I can’t say we’ve closed the case, but I’m just about right there now. You can hold your breath on that.”

Duke Goto snorted softly. “Oh really? That close?”

Chan turned his head slightly and looked up at the giant of a man. Goto had at least six inches on Chan and probably outweighed him by at least 50 pounds of muscle.

“Yeah,” said Chan. “The whole case has been like a fairy tale, and we’re coming to a fairy-tale ending.”

Goto gave out a little laugh again. “I like those,” he said. “Bedtime stories. Good shit.”

“Yes,” said Chan. “This is a great one. One of the best. You’re going to enjoy it.”

“Why?” said Goto.

“Well,” said Chan, “what would you say if I were to ask you if you had killed Sally Souza?”

“Sheesh. What do you think I’d say?” asked Goto.

“I think, because this is a fairy-tale ending, that you’d say, ‘Yes’,” said Chan.

Again Souza gave a little laugh. “Okay, sure, I’ll play. Yeah, sure, I killed her.”

“And was it because you and she were going to become co-owners of The Palms, but you knew she was going to tell us you were the button man, so you had to stop her?”

“And I say . . . ?”

“You say ‘yes’ again,” said Chan.

“Oh, okay, yes,” said Duke Goto.

“And you and she, well, you at least, killed both Roger Ammanton and his girlfriend Laura, and then Glenn Makia and David Pomeroy, in order to consolidate that ownership, right?”

“Okay,” said Duke Goto. “Yeah, that’s right.”

“And for some reason, you killed Harue Hata, the mother of Harumi McDonald and Kazu Hatanaka, didn’t you.?

“Sure, Lieutenant, that was me.”

“What would be the reason?” asked Chan.

“How am I supposed to answer that one in this story?” asked Duke Goto.

“Honestly,” said Chan.

“Well, okay, then I guess honestly, I would have been afraid she’d tell you that she figured out I’d killed Ammanton and Laura, and she was trying to blackmail me. What a bitch.”

“Huh,” said Chan, “that’s a good one. I’d not considered that.”

“I guess you’re probably not as good at playing this game as I am,” said Duke Goto.

“Yeah, probably not,” said Chan. “So what about Keola Waioli?”

“You mean why maybe did I kill him, too, in this fairy tale of yours?” asked Duke Goto.


“Well, let’s see. How about I killed him because he was just a fucking asshole who needed to be dead? Doesn’t fit so good, but this is just some stupid story, right?”

“No, it doesn’t fit perfectly,” said Chan, “but it’s good for a rough draft.”

“What?” asked Duke Goto.

“Nothing,” said Chan. “Do you know who Laura is?”

“Just some dumb hooker,” said Duke Goto. “Ammanton picked him up somewhere, fresh off the boat from Cali. Who knows?”

“Were you and Kazu Hatanaka lovers?” asked Chan.

“What? Are you kidding me? I don’t swing that way. The only thing those fag and drag hags are good for is to make money, man. Me and Sally was gonna make a pile of money off of those fricking freaks.”

Chan turned his head to look up at Goto’s dark profile. “Duke, that is one fucked up way to look at other human beings. I gotta tell you, you’re some kind of fricking freak, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

Goto’s face pivoted and looked down at Chan. “Well, I’ll tell you another thing that’s pretty fucked up for you, Lieutenant Chan. It’s your turn now.”

Chan had anticipated this and reached for his gun. But Duke Goto’s left hand closed around Chan’s wrist and immobilized his arm. He pulled Chan to him and wrapped his right hand around his face, covering his mouth and nose, clamping them tight so Chan couldn’t breathe.

Chan felt dizzy. Everything was turning a blue color. Trying to suck in air, his chest heaved and the blood pumped through his brain like a freight train running 200 miles an hour.

And then, from somewhere far away, David Chan heard, “Hold it. Get your hands on the wall, or I’ll put a hole in your head the size of your cue ball brain.”

Chan felt the pressure release instantly. He fell against the wall gasping for air.

“David, David, are you okay?”

It was Victor Yamamoto.

“Yeah, Vic, yeah. I’m good. Thanks. I’m real good.”

Yamamoto said, “You mean really good, boss, right? Not real good.”

Chan smiled and took another deep breath.

After two uniformed officers took Duke Goto away, Yamamoto sat down on the sidewalk alongside his partner.

“You idiot,” said Yamamoto. “What the hell did you take on that gorilla all by yourself?”

Chan shook his head, laughing. “I swear, Vic, I had no idea that was going to happen. I promise I did not think I was going to take him on.”

“Yet here we are,” said Yamamoto, shaking his head and patting Chan on the back.

“Man,” said Chan, “I am so glad you were here. I thought you went home. Why’d you come back?”

“I was going home,” said Yamamoto, “but then I remembered you didn’t pay me your half for the drinks, so I came back to track you down.”

Chan laughed. “No, for real. Why’d you come back? Why didn’t you think I went home?”

“Well, boss, you remember how I said you were a twenty-four-seven cop?”

“Well, yeah. And don’t forget to trademark that term.”

Yamamoto chuckled. “So I knew you weren’t going home. And I had to come back. You know, ‘cause if there’s one person I know who needs a twenty-four-seven bodyguard, it’s you, David. When you weren’t at The Palms, I came over here just to check, because you’d told me about meeting Duke Goto here.”

“You are indeed the man, Vic. I always wondered what it would be like not to have you around. And now I know. I’d be dead.”

And with that, the two friends stood up and headed, not home, but over to the police station four blocks away. They knew the amount of paperwork on this case would be a bear, and neither one was very tired at all anymore.

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