Chapter 23: A Father’s Revenge

Chan came in early Sunday morning. He wanted to see what would transpire when his partner arrived. Bobby Stillman showed up at 8:30, and Kauhane called him into his office immediately.

Minutes later, Stillman exited the office and came back to his desk.

“What was that about?” asked Chan.

“He wants me to press Tico right now, so I’m headed over there. He wants me to report back to him immediately.”

“I appreciate this,” said Chan, and he meant it. True, he distrusted his partner, but he always hoped for the best with the young man.

“I’m sorry I’ve been so bogged down with other cases,” said Stillman. “If someone had tried to kill me and might still be looking to do it, I’d want you to have my back.”

“No worries,” said Chan, “I would, Bobby.” And he meant it.

Stillman picked up his notebook and headed out the door. Chin Ho Kelly, who was pouring himself a cup of coffee, put it down and followed after the young detective.

Chan took a deep breath and crossed his fingers. Hopefully, Kelly would report that Stillman went straight to Tico’s home, Stillman would do his job questioning him and then return to give Kauhane a full report. Hopefully. In the ideal world, this script would run flawlessly.

Once Kelly was out the door, Chan decided a drive to the Hawai‘i University campus was in order. It had been early Sunday morning that the young coed had been found at the bottom of the O‘ahu Hall steps.

Parking on University Avenue, Chan proceeded up the walkway past Upton Library and down the sidewalk to O‘ahu Hall. The campus seemed to have grown double its size since Chan had been a student. The number of new buildings amazed him.

He took a seat at the bottom of the stairs where the young woman’s body had been found. The days when he and Elaine would sit on these stairs eating lunch flashed through his memory. Leaning back on his elbows, Chan stared down Eugene Mall toward the new Chemistry building. It was five stories high, one of the taller buildings on the burgeoning campus.

The Chemistry building stood a mere 100 yards or so from where Chan sat. But why leave the body here? Would Jeffrey Tico kill the young woman here in this wide open space where anyone might see him do it? Of course not. Chan had no respect for him, but he didn’t underestimate a mind that could earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.

And as he sat there looking at the Chemistry building, whom should he see walking out the door but Jeffrey Tico. Tico turned left and headed down the mall toward where Chan sat.

This momentarily puzzled the detective. Should he remain seated and see if the young man noticed him, or should he get up and walk toward him? Chan decided to sit tight.

As the young chemist came nearer, oblivious to Chan sitting at the bottom of the stairs, he whistled some unidentifiable tune.

“Hey,” said Chan, suddenly standing up.

Jeffrey Tico stopped. “Why, Lieutenant Chan, I, uh, what brings you here on a Sunday morning?”

“Actually,” said Chan. “It’s you, Jeff. I wanted to see if you were in your lab.”

“Oh, well, yes, I was just there. I’m headed out –”

“Perfect,” said Chan. “I’d very much like to see your lab. Please take me to it.”

Tico did not put up an argument. As the two walked back to the Chemistry building, Chan asked if Tico had heard about the young woman who’d been found two Sundays ago.

“Oh, yes, of course. Everyone on campus knows about it.”

The two entered the Chemistry building.

Chan said, “So did you know Teri Ota?”

Tico pressed the elevator button for the fifth floor. “Oh no, never heard of her. Sorry.”

“Really?” exclaimed Chan. “So you don’t remember her from Chemistry class. You taught her for two semesters. Chem one six one and one six two. You don’t remember her, huh?”

The two exited the elevator and walked down the hallway.

“Oh no, Lieutenant, those intro classes are huge. So many students. They’re mostly just social security numbers to me.”

Tico slid a key into the lock and opened the door to the lab. “Please come in,” he said, gesturing for Chan to step in ahead of him.

Chan did so, went in, and immediately began pacing the room.

“Just social security numbers. That’s sad, don’t you think, Jeffrey? Whatever happened to the days when professors knew all of their students? It’s terrible, when things become so impersonal, don’t you think?”

Tico leaned against a counter. “I, uh, well, as I said, the classes, the intro ones, they’re too big to know.”

“But you do get to know some of the students you teach, right? I mean some of them must come to you for help with homework, things like that, right?”

Chan stopped pacing and came to lean side by side with Tico against the counter. The boy inched away to create a larger gap between them. Chan smiled.

“They do come to see you, don’t they, Jeffrey?” Chan repeated, not looking at him.

Tico swallowed hard. It was not difficult to miss the gradually hardening tone of Chan’s voice.

“Well, yes, of course, some of them do.”

“And you do get to know them then, don’t you? Especially the ones who come for help more often. You take them under your wing, almost. Personally guide them along. The good teacher. The mentor. A powerful figure, to be sure.”

Tico had lost track of the question. “I, uh, sorry. What were you asking?”

“What I’m asking, Professor Tico, is if Teri Ota was one of the students you got to know because she came to your office with some frequency?”

Tico swallowed again and inched a bit farther from Chan. “Well, I, no, I don’t know.”

Chan turned now and faced the boy. “Well, I’m glad to hear that, I think. Personally, I’d be worried sick if a young woman were here on a deserted Sunday morning to study, uh, chemistry or whatever. I’d worry she might find unsavory characters roaming the campus looking to attack her, strangle her.” Chan swallowed now. “Wouldn’t that worry you, Professor?”

Tico said nothing but now stared laser hatred at Chan. “Yes,” he said. “Now if you’ll excuse me, Lieutenant, I need to get back to work.”

“Back to work?” asked Chan, the heat in his voice matching that of Tico’s. “I thought you said you were headed out.”

“That’s right, I was, but now that I’m here, I think I’ll just get back to work.”

“Oh, very good, very good,” said Chan. “Well, it was very nice talking to you, Jeffrey. Glad I caught you, son. Real glad I caught you.”

Tico’s mouth opened, but no words came out. His lower jaw sat suspended in midair.

Chan smiled a wicked smile then doffed his hat and headed out the door. Stopping, he turned to look back at the stunned young man. “Be seeing you,” he said, then smiled and walked away.

As he pressed the down button, Chan wished that he was slapping the cuffs on Tico right then. Sure, he’d never be able to prove that the young man had once raped his daughter, but he could see in Tico’s eyes that he’d killed the coed. And that he knew he could prove.

Chan exited the building and turned left to head back to University Avenue.


Chan pivoted back toward the Chemistry building.


Chan looked up and saw Jeffrey Tico leaning over the roof of the building.

“Hey, Lieutenant Chan. I always knew you knew what I’d done to Sara. And after she died, I knew you’d never be able to prove it.”

Chan had come to the front of the building and stared up. He said nothing.

“Well, aren’t you going to say something?” yelled Tico.

“Like what?” asked Chan.

“I don’t know. Like, ‘Hey, you’re finally admitting it.’ How about something like that.”

Chan said nothing.

“No? Okay. You’d never be able to prove it, but I know now, well, with this one, you’re going to try, and I can tell you, I’m not going to jail. Never.”

Now Chan said something. “So what, are you making a confession? Can I take you in now?”

“You don’t understand,” yelled Tico. “I’m not going to jail. Not for this one or for any of them.”

A vision of the young woman at Sandy Beach flashed through Chan’s mind. “Them, Jeffrey? How many others?”

“Who knows how many?”

Chan felt a new adrenaline rush of anger. “Jeffery, I’m coming up there to get you, son. Don’t say anything else. Anything you do say can be used against you. You know that, right?”

“Right, right right, Lieutenant. Blah blah blah. I’ve seen enough movies and watched enough television. I know all about my rights.”

“I’m coming up,” said Chan.

“No you don’t, Lieutenant. I’ll jump if you do.”

“Jump? Come on, Jeff, it’s only five stories. Chances are you’ll live. You may be maimed, disfigured, suffer brain damage, or whatever. You don’t want to live like that, do you? I’m coming up.”

“I like my odds, Lieutenant. If I go head first, I think I win.”

Chan shook his head. The policeman in him wanted to take Tico in. The father in him wanted Tico to do a perfect 10 off the high dive.

“My father, I really hate him, Lieutenant. Do you know why?”


“It’s because he parked your father’s car outside our house. He was too damn lazy to drive it out where he was supposed to leave it, by Ka‘ena Point. And then the cops found it before he could ditch it somewhere else. How stupid, huh? He hoped that reverse psychology crap would cover his ass. What a moron. You, know, he hated your father almost as much as the Yus did. Your father, he told me, was coming too close to figuring out the workings of his import-export business. So he signed on with the Yus. He wanted to help kill your father. And I’ve hated him for it ever since.”

Chan’s thoughts were spinning so fast that he felt dizzy. He couldn’t look up at Tico any longer for fear of losing his balance and falling over. He closed his eyes. The kid actually cared? “So you’ve hated him for helping kill my father?” he shouted.

Tico roared with laughter. “Are you kidding me? No, I’ve hated him for being so lazy. It’s because of that car that all this heat’s been on us ever since. And especially on me. You hate me maybe even more than I hate him for all of this.”

Chan, still with his eyes closed, shouted, “I have every right to hate you, son, and you know it. Even before my father was killed. What you did to my daughter was unforgivable. You should have gone to prison for that. And now you tell me there are more women. Sara was lucky. At least you didn’t kill her.”

“No, you’re right, I didn’t. But I could have if I wanted to. Maybe I should have.”

Chan drew his revolver and looked up again.

“Don’t bother, Lieutenant, I’ll save you the effort.”

And with that, Jeffrey Tico took the bet that he could kill himself with a head-first five-story dive.

Chan walked over and knelt beside the body. He checked his pulse. Jeffrey Tico had won his bet.

A vision of Sara returning home that night from the prom and how wounded she appeared, came to mind. Chan thought about spitting on the body of Jeffrey Tico. And then he did.

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