His son, David Jr., still lived at home. This was good. He was finishing up his English major at UH and earning his teaching certificate as well. This was better.
David Chan had served the Honolulu Police Department for 21 years now. His father had been with HPD before him. That his son would not become a police officer was a blessing as far as David Chan was concerned. No need to turn the high stress of police work into a family business.
Although, he mused, as he stood over the stove frying his morning ritual of three eggs and three strips of bacon, teaching English to antsy high school students undoubtedly carried its own kind of stress.
But the gun. To carry a gun in your job, that was a kind of stress that English teachers would never know. Not in the world that he envisioned. That world would be stress-free for everyone except those who had to carry guns to enforce the rule of law, and for the criminals they would take off the street. David Chan saw himself as a shield for innocent people against the criminals who would undermine that rule and disrupt the social fabric.
David Chan’s father and his father’s partner had been HPD legends. Neither had carried a gun, although the partner was famous for carrying a bullwhip that he used to good effect with surprising frequency.
David Chan had worshipped the two of them for their ability to fight crime and solve most of the cases that came their way. And all that without firearms.
But that was then. Crime grew like weeds in Honolulu. Now, in David Chan’s day, not only did they grow wild, but the field had expanded. More and more crime, more and more criminals, more and more violence, and now every HPD officer carried a weapon. Every day they might use that gun to take a life. This was the highest form of stress he could imagine, and it weighed heavily on him.
Still, with all that pressure threatening to smother him, he had become a legend himself. He, too, had solved most of the cases assigned to him. With one exception. The same exception that his father had come up against.
But it wasn’t A case. It was several cases. An octopus of cases dangling from its tentacles. And all of them revolved around the syndicate Kang Yu had built, slowly, since he’d arrived from Korea in 1905. Every year, Yu sponsored more and more Koreans and their families. Now, in 1942, the Yu mob had grown like cancer. The rough estimate was that there were perhaps 500 Koreans who pledged allegiance to Yu. Many were honest citizens, but enough were criminals involved in all kinds of illegal activity including drugs, extortion, gambling, and prostitution.
None of those were David Chan’s direct concern. It was when Yu and his minions committed murder that he stepped in. And there were several outstanding murder cases that Chan and the entire department knew were related to Yu and his business. But proving it, in court, presented problems, what with prosecutors and judges who might be on Yu’s payroll, not to mention jury tampering and intimidation of witnesses. These were the same problems his father had encountered. Finally, you’d get Kang Yu into court, only to see him walk free time after time.
To make matters worse, Kang Yu’s son, Byung Yu, had become his father’s right-hand man. The two of them and their family business. It made David Chan ill just to think about what kind of evil schemes those two talked about at the dinner table.
David Chan was laser-focused on one of those Yu-related cases now. His informant, Rupert Cho, had been killed the week before. Cho’s information was always exclusively about the Korean syndicate’s activity. There was no question that Kang Yu and company were behind it.
Most important of all, David Chan felt a deep obligation to the case not only because he sought justice for Cho, but because he knew Cho’s wife and daughters. Both attended Lualuna Academy, as did David Chan’s daughter, Denise. She and Cho’s older daughter, Cammie, were juniors. The two had been best friends since kindergarten, and they’d both taken up ballet at the same time. Cora, Cho’s second daughter, was two years younger, but she, too, had jumped at the chance to take ballet. The three were inseparable.
David Chan took the frying pan off the stove and shoveled the bacon and eggs onto a plate. Setting the pan on the sink, he grabbed a fork and sat down at the kitchen table. Just as he liberally peppered his eggs, Denise danced into the kitchen, doing a pirouette and small bow.
“Good morning, Pa-Pah,” she said. “Would you like to hear my French accent for the play?”
David Chan laughed. “Mais oui, Mademoiselle.”
“Ah shoots, Daddy, sorry, I actually haven’t figured it out yet. You know, I don’t understand why we have to do accents. Can’t we just do the play the way we normally speak?”
David Chan nodded. “Well, I suppose so. I guess if they do it in France, they do it in French. So if we do it in Hawai‘i, I’d think English the way we all speak it would be appropriate.”
“And Hawaiian,” said Denise. “Wouldn’t it be super cool to be able to do it in Hawaiian?”
David Chan nodded, trying to get a whole, runny yoke into his mouth. “Yes, I do think that would be cool.”
“I wish they’d offer Hawaiian at Lualuna,” said Denise. “Don’t you think that would be a good idea? Maybe everyone in Hawai‘i should learn Hawaiian. I mean, they were here first, right?”
“I agree,” said David Chan. “It would be a very good idea. A way of honoring the Hawaiian people.”
“Uncle Chang speaks Hawaiian,” said Denise. “Maybe I can ask him to teach me some.”
Chang Apana had been David Chan’s father’s partner. He of the bullwhip.
“That would be a wonderful thing,” said David Chan. “You should, Dini. Try ask him.”
Denise slurped up the last of the milk in her cereal bowl.
“Where’s ma mère?”
“She left early for church. They have that annual bazaar to set up.”
“Ah, yes, I forgot. Well, Pa-pah, I shall dance off to school now.”
And with that, Denise was gone.
David Jr. always took off early for the university as well. It was a good thing, David Chan thought again, that his son had not chosen to go into police work. David Chan pictured his wife, Beatrice, David Jr., and Denise as if they were posed for a family photograph. The four of them. It was perfect. All four of them. But no one was smiling. How strange, he thought.
The phone rang. It was his partner, Chang Apana’s son, Wilbur “Snuffy” Apana. Talk about your family business. Two cops with two cop sons.
“Yeah, Snuffy, what’s up.”
“David, I got a hot tip on the Cho case. Can you meet me at Pier 31?”
“I’m there,” said David Chan.
Already dressed, Lieutenant David Chan grabbed his gun and badge. As he settled into his car, he envisioned the family picture again. Why no smiles? he wondered.
Heading down Ward Avenue toward Ala Moana Boulevard, for some odd reason, the idea came to David Chan that he might never see his home on Prospect Street again. A shiver ran through him He tried to imagine that picture again. This time all he saw was his wife, his son, and his daughter. He tried to put himself in the scene again, but he couldn’t do it.