Chapter 32: Regrouping

The four men grabbed beers and sat down at a table in the private back room of the Blue Light Bar and Grill.

Captain Kauhane said, “I’d like to introduce you to Kono Kalakaua. He’s come home after working for the Treasury Department out of Los Angeles. I brought him here today because it seems likely we’re a man down on our four-man Four-Nine group. How do you see it, David?”

Chan, exhausted, gave a head nod. “That would be my guess. I’m sure Bobby’s gone, and he’s gone a long way.”

“But why?” asked Kelly. Why run? I still don’t get what all is going on here.”

Chan said, “Whoever the guy is who tried to kill me, he and Bobby, I believe they were lovers.”

This comment met with a long silence.

Finally, Kelly asked, “So you’re saying that Bobby blew his boyfriend’s brains out?”

Chan shook his head and gave a tired nod. “Yes. That’s the size of it.”

Kauhane asked, “Do you think he recognized him?”

“I’m not one-hundred percent sure,” said Chan.

Kelly said, “I told you he pulled that trigger fast. And we know he was the hottest shot at the Academy. A marksman, you know he was trying to obliterate the guy’s face.”

“But why do that?” said Kauhane. What’s the point of making him unrecognizable?”

“Well, if his face were intact, Bobby knew we’d publish his photo in the paper to see if anyone recognized him.”

“So?” said Kelly.

“So someone might recognize him and say he’d been seen with Bobby. That would be hard to explain. A policeman together with an assassin.”

“Are we saying here,” said Kelly, “that he asked the guy to kill you?”

Chan took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I choose not to believe that. I think it might have to do with Bobby being gay. Being exposed.”

“It would certainly have ended his career with HPD,” said Kauhane. “He’d be drummed out in short order.”

“Come on,” said Kelly, “this is the sixties. We’re living in the Age of Aquarius. It’s all peace, love, and tie-dye these days. So he’s homosexual. So what?”

Kono, who’d been silent to this point, spoke up. “Well, not everyone is as open-minded as you are. Yeah, we’d like to think that. But law enforcement’s not living in the middle of a love-fest. The Captain’s right. The FBI keeps files on homosexuals. Doesn’t matter if they’re criminals. Law enforcement accept a gay guy? Forget about it. HPD is the same as all of them. From the top down, law enforcement’s living in the cold-war repressed fifties.”

“Yeah,” said Chan, “which makes what Bobby did especially bad news. If he were just doing his job when he killed this man, then shooting in the line of duty covers it. But he could have winged him, right? We all know he could have. So what he did looks like murder. It looks like he killed him to cover up his relationship with him.”

“Why,” asked Kelly, “was the guy there to kill you in the first place? You say Bobby didn’t ask him to do it. Okay. Did someone hire him to kill you, and he just happened to be Bobby’s boyfriend?”

“No, not hired, “ said Chan. “The motive, I don’t know. In my gut, it feels like something else.”

“Whatever the reason, Bobby knew we’d come to see him killing your would-be assassin as murder,” said Kauhane. “Being gay aside, that’s a rap he figured he’d never beat.”

“Do we want to track him down?” asked Kelly.

“No,” said Chan. “Who knows if we could prove murder anyway. The DA might say it’d be impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bobby wasn’t just doing his job.”

Speaking of which,” said Kauhane, “we had to turn Philip Tico loose. The DA said the evidence is too circumstantial. And with the son dead, we’d have no concrete statement from him asserting his father said it was he who parked your dad’s car in front of the Tico residence.”

“Yeah right,” said Chan. He’d already known that would be the decision.

“Anyway,” said Kauhane, “I’ve asked Kono here to join us. He’ll be our first full-time liaison with the Governor.”

“And,” said Kalakaua, “I’ll be able to get all the preliminary work done on cases he assigns Four-Nine. You three will have less of a scramble juggling that and your regular police work as well.”

Kelly said, “Guys, I know this group was named the Four-Nine when you all thought Hawaii would be the forty-ninth state. But we’re not. We’re the fiftieth state. What do you say we do an official name change? Let’s call our group Five-0. Hawaii Five-0.”

“Makes sense,” agreed Chan.

“All right,” said Kauhane, “I’ll let the Governor know.

“To Hawai`i Five-0,” said Kalakaua, raising his beer.

The four clinked glasses and David Chan pictured Bobby Stillman far away, living out his days in some exotic location.

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