As he rode the escalator down from the second floor, David Chan imagined what all he might do to one or the other or even both of the Ticos together when he encountered them. Staring straight ahead and lost in his thoughts, he did not see the woman riding the up escalator.
Chan fell out of his daydream and stared blankly at her face.
“Lieutenant Chan?” the woman said again.
The voice, recognizable, snapped him back to reality. “Miss Yu?” he said, finding it difficult to picture the head of the Yu empire in a police station. Unless, of course, she was being arrested. Preferably by Chan himself.
As she rose past him, he turned. “I’ll be right back up,” he said.
She had also turned to look backward at him. “Never mind,” she said, “I’ll come down.”
While Chan waited for Gi Yu to descend, an explanation for her appearance at HPD headquarters eluded him. The daughter of Byung Yu and the sister of Jason Yu, Gi had experienced the misfortune of losing both on the same day two years ago. Their deaths were as yet unexplained, primarily because Chan had headed the investigation into them. Solving them had been a bottom priority. And, truth be told, he preferred the killings to remain an eternal mystery.
Gi Yu, at her grandfather Kang Yu’s request, had moved back from her highly successful law career in New York. Kang Yu had desired that his granddaughter continue to run the Korean syndicate’s business in Hawai’i, but Gi had other ideas. Where Kang Yu saw an empire that controlled gambling, drugs, and prostitution, Gi Yu saw an empire controlling the ownership of real estate. She foresaw Hawai‘i as a state where owning property would be lucrative in the extreme, and she’d made it her goal to own and develop as much of it as she could.
Kang Yu, old now and ensconced in his Wanhei fortress way off in Korea, had little desire to kill his granddaughter and find a replacement for her, so he let her go on her path toward legitimization of the Yu dynasty. He did what he could to keep his business interests alive long distance, and Byung Yu’s underlings still answered to him because they knew full well that he could kill them without giving the idea a moment’s thought.
“Well,” said Chan, examining the never-smiling face of Gi Yu, “to what does our humble department owe this unexpected pleasure.”
Gi Yu smirked at Chan’s sarcastic remark. “The pleasure is all mine, Mister Chan. I’ve come to talk to you about the attempt on your life.”
Chan was more shocked than he should have been. “And you know about this how?”
“News travels fast on this tiny island, as you know. But I could say something as simple as one of your next-door neighbors who observed all the activity at your home is my best friend. That would answer the question with little mystery or speculation about some conspiracy theory, would it not?”
Chan shuddered at the idea that anyone in his neighborhood would be acquainted with this woman. “Yes, sure,” he said. “Soooo?”
“Could we possibly not stand here at the bottom of the escalator? Can we go up to your office?”
“My office? Hah! What do you think this place is? We work for the city and county. My quote unquote office is a desk in the middle of a roomful of desks. I don’t sit behind a koa desk surrounded by fine art. I don’t buy and sell this state.”
“Whoa, Lieutenant, sorry. I didn’t come here to get into an argument with you about the size of our workplaces. My apologies. I only meant can we sit down somewhere out of the flow of traffic.”
“There’s a Dairy Queen around back,” said Chan. “Let’s step over there.”
The two exited HPD and headed over to the DQ.
“Can you afford coffee here?” asked Gi Yu.
The remark struck Chan oddly. The tone of Gi Yu’s voice had a different quality than expected. The way she asked the question almost hinted at an attempt at humor rather than a flip insult.
“I think I might be able to dig a few coins out of my pocket,” Chan said, “not sounding angry or the least bit sarcastic.
Which altered the look of Gi Yu’s face in such a way that it appeared she almost might crack a small smile.
“No need to search the Sahara,” said Yu. “I’ll spring for the coffee.”
Chan stood behind her as Yu ordered the coffee. She was a good-looking woman, even from the back. Chan’s wife had been Korean as well, and in some ways, physically speaking, this cold-blooded real estate tycoon resemble Elaine.
“Let me carry those,” said Chan, picking up the coffees and gesturing to a table.”
The two sat, and Chan slid a cup toward Yu.
“So,” said Gi Yu, raising her cup, “here’s to you not being killed.”
This did make Chan smile. “Yeah, I can get behind that,” he said.
The slightest smile crossed Gi Yu’s face. The whole scene seemed remarkable to Chan.
Yu said, “I suppose you jumped to the conclusion that I or even my grandfather had something to do with this.”
Chan shook his head. “If anything, Miss Yu, I jumped to the immediate conclusion that you had nothing whatsoever to do with this.”
Cocking her head to one side, Yu said, “Really? And not my grandfather either?”
Chan couldn’t suppress a look of mild disgust. “No, Miss Yu, not even your sainted grandfather.”
This did not bring a further smile to Gi Yu’s face. But her face did not meet the look of disgust at Chan’s reaction. The stone mask had returned. Although she might not agree with her grandfather’s business practices, Kang Yu was her grandfather. Blood is blood.
“All right, Lieutenant, I appreciate that. At any rate, that’s all I want to say. To assure you, that we were not involved.”
“Please,” said Chan mildly, “I am a policeman, Miss Yu. If you believe that I can think of your grandfather in any kind of polite way, I’m afraid to say I can’t.”
Expecting Yu to perhaps even throw the hot coffee in his face, Chan was surprised to see the woman remain calm, pick up her cup, and blow into it before taking a sip.
“Yes, Lieutenant, I can understand that. You know I don’t condone anything my grandfather, or for that matter, anything my father and my brother may have done that involved illegal activity. That, as you well know, is not my way.”
Chan nodded. This was sincere, he knew, and if in no other way, he’d always in some small amount respected this about the very hard woman.
“Anyway, as I say, I just wanted to make it clear to you, and my grandfather wanted to make it clear to me, that none of this was our doing.”
Again, Chan nodded and sipped at his coffee.
“Any idea,” he said casually, “who might have been involved?”
This caught Gi Yu off guard, and Chan congratulated himself on firing in a shot out of left field.
Yu stammered, “I, ah, well why – how would I know anything about it? Come on, Lieutenant. I thought you agreed my family was completely out of all of this?”
The genuine consternation convinced Chan that there was absolutely no chance Gi Yu did have any ties to or information about any aspect of the attempt on his life.
“Yes, yes, all right, Miss Yu, yes.”
And then the strangest thing happened. Or at least the most unexpected thing as far as David Chan could imagine.
Gi Yu managed a human smile, a genuine smile, and she said, “Please, Lieutenant Chan, call my Gi.”
This caused Chan to tense up. The worst thing about it was that when Gi Yu smiled like a normal human being, she looked just like Elaine.