Chapter 29: Bad News

The ride back to the station was hellacious for Chan in two ways. First, Philip Tico kept up his tirade about harassment, lies, and lawsuits. In the back of Chan’s mind, he considered that these might make great song lyrics, but he was neither in a singing nor a music composition mood.

Second, more seriously, given all the racket, Chan had no time to ask Bobby to explain the situation, the concealment and the lying. Okay, so his partner was one of Tico’s illegitimate children. This was stunning enough. In Chan’s mind, he could almost understand why Stillman had lied about the interview that morning. But there was more, much more to this story, and Chan wanted it all.

Back at the station, Chan turned Tico over for mugshots and fingerprinting. He told Stillman to stay at his desk until he was finished talking to Captain Kauhane about what had transpired.

“What the hell?” exclaimed Kauhane when Chan told him about the relationship between Tico and Stillman. “So he conceals that vital information and also lies about the interview. What’d they say when you told them about Jeffrey Tico committing suicide?”

Chan glanced back through the blinds at Stillman. “I, uh, I didn’t tell them. I couldn’t do it, Del. I just didn’t have the heart to tell them about it with Zelda Tico present in the room. She loved that son as much as she hated her husband. Probably more. It just wasn’t the right time. And coming back here in the car, it just wasn’t the right time to tell Bobby and Tico either.”

He looked back out the window again. Stillman wasn’t at his desk. “Hold on,” said Chan, jumping up and exiting Kauhane’s office.

Scanning the squad room, Chan didn’t see Stillman anywhere. “Chin,” he called over to Kelly, “where’d Bobby go?”

Kelly looked up from his typewriter. “Beats me, David. Why? What’s up?”

“Come on!” Chan shouted, and Chin jumped and ran after Chan.

“Check the can!” said Chan as he bolted for the escalator.

Before he ran down the moving steps, he surveyed the busy floor from one end to the other. No Stillman.

Kelly came up from behind. “Not in the can.”

The two raced into the lobby and headed for the entrance. Outside, Chan stopped and scrutinized the parking lot. “Damn. His car’s gone.”

“David, whoa, hold up,” said the heavyset Chinese detective, bending over to catch his breath “Why are we chasing after Bobby?”

“I’ll tell you later,” said Chan. “Go back inside and have the operator send out an APB for Bobby. We need him, Chin. He’s the key to this whole mess.”

Kelly went back in, and Chan raced to his car. Where would Bobby go? The obvious answer was to check Stillman’s apartment first. Chan drove there using his lights.

There was no answer to Chan’s calling out and knocking, but when he tried the door, it was unlocked. Chan burst into the living room. Moving quickly from room to room, he confirmed that Stillman was not there. Chan sat down at the dining table to think. As he drummed his fingers, he surveyed around the room. Something struck him. There were several pictures of a Korean, about Stillman’s age. He was powerfully built, and in several of the photos, the two men had their arms around each other, always laughing.

Chan got up and headed into the bedroom. There were two closets. Opening the first one, he could see that there were several HPD standard blues and two dress uniforms. Other than that, the rest of it was empty.

Behind the second closet door, Chan found nothing. He sat down on the bed. What was it? he wondered. Then he saw something on the nightstand that made his blood run cold. The powerfully built Korean man in a photo of the two men, both bare-chested, held knives in both his hands, his arms crossed over his chest. Bobby Stillman was smiling, his service revolver drawn and held out in front of him, pointing at the camera.

The knives were unique, and Chan recognized them at once. All of a sudden, Chan knew he didn’t give a damn about where his partner was. Even if he were to drop off the face of the earth, Chan would prefer it that way. He disliked the idea of killing people, but if he ever ran into Bobby Stillman again, he was afraid that he just might blow his ex-partner’s brains out.

Chan drove slowly to the Ticos’ Kāhala home. He knew, of course, that Stillman would not be in a place where he was unwanted. Never mind that. But it was time to tell Mrs. Tico about her own son, the one whom she obviously loved so much. He knew what it was like to lose a child, and he hoped that his empathy with her situation would make it easier for Zelda Tico to bear the news.

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