A Sleepless Night

He thought about how a bullet travels at 1700 miles per hour, so if you see it, it’s only for a split second before it tears into you. The body lay in a wide pool of blood. Valentine stooped to check for the man’s pulse, just in case, but the bullet had done its job. Valentine smiled a wicked smile, then turned and fled the room.

David Chan stopped reading. The story was all right, but still, he wondered how his wife could read these mystery thrillers. So many of them. This was the latest Charlie Valentine installment, the last his wife, Elaine, had been reading while she could still read. She’d died without knowing how the story ended.

Elaine Chan had read every whodunit ever written. The bookcases of their house on Pacific Heights were jammed with all of them, a shrine to the science of solving crime in the world of fiction. Chan had never been able to read any of them. His life was a mystery thriller, interrupted by periods of paperwork, true, but the last thing he wanted to do was read more about the same kind of thing.

Of course, he’d read all the stories about his grandfather. That, he’d considered, was his childhood instruction in crime. Neither his grandfather nor his father had ever discussed their cases with the family. Chan had never done so with his children either. He thought about his daughter. How the Yus had murdered her, he was sure. Just as he was sure they had murdered his father.

And his son. He’d disappeared, and Chan had thought he too had died. But, thankfully, he’d been found. David III was in medical school at UCLA now.

Chan laid the Valentine book on the stand next to his bed. A shot or two of Jack Daniel’s could sometimes knock him out. He got out of bed and headed into the living room, passing the spot where he and the others had scooped up the gore and mopped up the blood. He thought about the flight of the bullet from his gun. He pictured it traveling in slow motion, watched it crawl out of the barrel, a lazy smoke trail lagging behind it, then saw it crash like a raindrop into the unknown man.

After pouring himself a generous portion of the liquor, he walked out onto the lānai. Sitting, he sipped deeply and watched as downtown Honolulu did its part to light up the wide, dark Pacific Ocean.

Who did want him dead? And was it just him, or were he and the others in Four-9 all targets? Was it the same person or persons who’d tried to kill him before? If so, why wait more than a year to try again? Why, once the bomb had failed to kill him, wouldn’t the next attempt happen immediately?

Chan laughed out loud. Yes, it was a mystery, the kind his wife might love to read about. It was the story of his life.

The phone rang. Chan thought about not answering it, but the ringing persisted. After a good minute, the noise continuing to ruin the peaceful ambiance, he got up and went inside, carrying his drink with him. As he reached for the phone, the ringing stopped.

Great. And now what? He stood there, waiting for the phone to ring again. This was like an unsolved crime, he thought. He was waiting for the killer to reveal himself.

And the phone rang again. This time Chan grabbed the receiver. “Yes.”

There was silence on the other end.


Chan could hear soft breathing.

“Who is it?” Chan asked.

There was a click.

Chan stood there with the receiver against his ear. In his mind, he’d just cleared Kauhane, Kelly, Stillman, and Hank Lee from the list of people who might have been wanting to kill him. They had all known he’d survived the attack. Now, whoever that was who’d been on the other end of the line, that person also knew that Chan had survived.

Chan placed the receiver in its cradle and proceeded to pour himself another Jack.

So what? he wondered. Would it be another year before the next attempt on his life, or would it be as soon as tomorrow?

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