The End of an Era

Byung Yu picked up the receiver.  “Yeoboseyo?”

      “It’s done,” came the voice from the other end.

      Expecting it to be his father, Yu was thrown momentarily by the voice.  “Who – ”  And then it hit him.



      “You mean Chan is done?”


      “And the body?”

      “It’s at the bottom of the Pacific, Mr. Yu.  No one will ever see Lieutenant David Chan again.”

      “Did he have a car?”

      “Yes, that’s taken care of.  It’s been left out at Ka‘ena Point.”

      Byung Yu’s temperature flared.  “Why on earth did you do that?  Why didn’t have it chopped?”

      “I thought of it this way, Mr. Yu.  If the car is found, they’ll suspect the job to have been done by someone foolish, someone who didn’t plan at the level you would.  Of course, they’ll know he’s dead, but the pool of suspects will be very wide and very deep.”

      Byung Yu sat back in his chair and thought about this.  “I don’t know,” he said, fitting a cigarette into a long, slender holder.  “There’s a gamesmanship angle here.  They may guess that we wanted them to think that way.”

      “Sir, with all due respect, that’s the way David Chan would think.  But he’s the only one who’d think it over that cautiously.  No one at HPD has his kind of imagination for the possibilities.”

      This made sense to Yu.  “I see,” he said.  “Yes, I agree.  From my and my father’s many encounters with the Honolulu Police, I have to say that Chan is – was – several cuts above the others.  The only one close to his caliber of thought would be Apana, and, well, who cares about him, right?”  Yu laughed.

      “Yes, exactly,” said Wang.  “I know.”

      “So we’ll tie them in knots, then,” said Yu, gripping the holder in his teeth and rubbing his hands together.  “Yes, Sung-min, that was a very good idea.  Only a fool would be stupid enough to leave the car to be found so easily.  And Ka‘ena Point, it’s like the wild west out there.  Who knows but Chan may have been killed by some random moron he might have been following for whatever reason for one of the many cases he’s working on.  They could be searching for his body out there for who knows how long.  I like it, Sung-min.  I like this very much.  You are the best at what you do.  No question.  My father’s respect for you was always well-founded.”

      “Thank you, sir,” said Wang.  He paused, cleared his throat.  “Ah, and as for the money, Mr. Yu?”

      “Yes, of course.  Stop by the Beretania Follies this evening after 10:00.  I’ll be there with the cash.”

      There was another pause.  Then, “And your father, sir, is he ready to have me join him in his compound.”

      “Ahhhhhh, well, I. . .”  Yu wasn’t sure how to handle this.  “Ah, I did just talk to my father, and he – ”

      “He is willing to have me, sir, isn’t he?”

      Byung Yu had never in his life thought of honesty being the best policy, but this once, well, “He’s not.  Not yet, that is.”

      There was a very long pause this time.

      Wang said, “I don’t mean to question you or him, sir, but did I by some chance do something to offend him?”

      “No no no,” said Yu, “it’s not that.  It’s . . . It’s that my father didn’t want Chan killed yet.”

      “What?  But –”

      “Never fear, my friend.  It’s not that he said he never wanted to see the good Lieutenant dead.  It’s that he wanted to wait a bit.  Wanted to think about the repercussions.”

      “But, I –”

      “Sung-min, trust me, he will be overjoyed once he learns that Chan will no longer be a hindrance to our operations.”

      “But what will I do?” said Sung.  “All hell will break loose, and I don’t want to be here when it does.  I could get caught in HPD’s crosshairs by unlucky chance.”

      “Yes, yes, don’t worry, Sung-min.  I’ll have a place ticket to Seoul for you tonight.  I’ll confirm with him this afternoon that you will be most welcome.  Do not worry about that.”

      Wang, sounding anything but confident, said, “All right, sir, okay.  Yes, I’ll be there at 10:00 tonight.  Thank you, Mr. Yu.”

      Byung Yu hung up, but Sung-min Wang held the receiver in his hand.  He gripped it like death.  Like David Chan’s death, but not, he hoped, like his own.

      At exactly 10:00 that night, Wang arrived at the Beretania Follies.  There’d been no show this evening, but Cho, the bartender was washing and polishing glasses nonetheless.  Wang wondered how often those same glasses were cleaned each day.  Cho was an actor playing his part in a drama where he was cast as Byung Yu’s bodyguard.  He was there to protect and kill and bided his time washing clean glasses over and over.

      “I’m here to see Mr. Yu,” said Wang.

      Cho merely nodded his head in the direction of a rear door.  “Through there,” he said.

      Sung-min eyed him cautiously.  Cho had not reached for the gun under the bar this time.  Wang had noticed that the last time and had been ready to pull his pistol and blow Cho’s brains all over the mirror behind him that ran the length of the bar.

      Wang walked as casually as he could, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door.


      Opening the door warily, Wang walked in.  Byung Yu sat alone at his desk.  “Ah, Sung-min, so good to see you.  Please, have a seat.”

      Wang sat.  He decided not to say a word, wanted to let Yu steer the conversation.

      “First,” said Yu, sliding a briefcase across the desk, here’s the cash.  One hundred thousand.  Do you wish to count it?”

      “No, sir, I know I do not need to do that.”

      Byung Yu smiled.  He liked it when people trusted him.  Although almost no one should.

      “Good.  And as for my father, he will have someone meet you at the airport in Seoul.  He was overjoyed at the way you played this game.  Especially leaving the car to be found.”

      Wang breathed a sigh of relief.  “Thank you, Mr. Yu.”

      “Here’s the ticket,” said Yu, sliding it across the table. “Your flight is in the morning.”

      “Thank you, Mr. Yu.  I appreciate this so much.”

      “Never mind that,” said Yu.  “It is I and my father who thank you.  No more David Chan.  Why, it’s a gift from the heavens.  I’m just sorry you won’t be around anymore to handle future situations for me with such professional exactitude.”

      “Yes, yes, I’m sorry about that too.  But this is my last wet work.  I’m officially retired now.  I’m going to enjoy an easy life in Korea.  Hopefully, I’ll live out my days in peace.”

      Yu gave Wang an odd smile.  “Peace, yes, I hope that works out for you.”  Although Yu couldn’t see how a natural-born killer might ever be able to give up his calling so easily.

      Wang stood and bowed to Byung Yu.  “Thank you again, sir.  I look forward to seeing your father.  It’s been too long.”

      “Yes, yes,” said Yu, standing and reaching across the desk, “my father and you, together again.  He’s always been a fan of your work.”

      Wang shook Yu’s hand, turned, and departed.

      “Dammit,” Yu said, picking up the phone.  “I’d like to place a call to Korea,” he said to the overseas operator.

      Byung Yu knew he had to convince his father that it was a good idea to give sanctuary to Sung-min Wang, but he still was not exactly sure how to broach the subject of David Chan’s death.  What would his father say?

      He’d lied to Wang, of course, about everything being set.  But he was sure that somehow he’d be able to convince his father all of this was for the best.

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