installment 10

Outside Dudgeons’ Compound – 10:10 AM Hawaii Time

From the monkey pod tree on the previous night, Nachtmann caught a glimpse of Dudgeons inside the main building. That sighting kept him motionless for over and hour, waiting for a shot opportunity that never came. Spending that much time, nearly naked and lying over a crook between two branches, left him stiff and sore.

At around 3:00 AM, he slithered down the tree trunk and found a layer of moss on the forest floor. There he slept.

Now, at 10:10 AM, Nachtmann was back in the tree and on the lookout for activity inside Dudgeons’ compound. He didn’t have long to wait.

Inside Dudgeons’ Compound – 10:15 AM Hawaii Time

Deborah lay on her side and gazed out a narrow space between the curtains of her room. Through the opening, past the topmost edge of a chain link fence, lay the thick green outline of tropical forest. Further afield, the distant Pacific Ocean, shockingly blue and beautiful, pressed up against a nearly cloudless sky. Top to bottom, it was a six-inch sliver of paradise.

The moment would have been perfect had only Noah and Jim been there to enjoy it with her. She’d tried reaching Noah at Sally Hank’s number, but the line had been busy all three times.

Deborah sat up and put her feet on the floor. Anthony Dudgeons tapped on the doorjamb.

“Deborah? Are you awake?”

“Yes, Anthony,” she replied. “Come on in.”

Dudgeons opened the door and stuck his head inside, leaning in from the hallway. “I’m about ready to rustle up some breakfast,” he said with a wink. “Are you interested?”

“Nothing big,” said Deborah, “but if you’ve got coffee and papaya bread, I’m in.”

“You read my mind,” Dudgeons replied. “That’s exactly what we’re having. If you’re up to it, we also have a few things to talk over.”

Outside Dudgeons’ Compound – 10:20 AM Hawaii Time

For all his lunacy, part of Nachtmann’s mind remained methodical and organized. In the intensity of the previous evening, he had allowed a number of conflicting details to escape his attention. Now, in the clear light of day, they began to nag at him.

To begin with, why was Anthony Dudgeons so wary of his own privacy? Who was he that he could afford such elaborate security precautions? Think of it: There was no visible entrance. There had to be a tunnel leading from the townhouses to the compound. All by itself, that must have cost what? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?

As head of security for the Faber-Brady Trust, it had been part of Nachtmann’s job to know what resources were available to which local citizens and whose fortunes were the most lavish. Anthony Dudgeons clearly commanded vast resources and yet, except in the context of Deborah Garrison, Nachtmann had never even heard of Anthony Dudgeons. How was that possible?

Nachtmann’s eye flicked to the rooftop of the compound. For the first time, he noticed something: it bristled with aerials and antennae. He looked more closely. Again, as a security specialist, Nachtmann had a broad knowledge of electronic surveillance and radio devices. Some of this equipment he recognized.

Microwave radio, he mused. Why would a private citizen need a microwave broadcast system?

Nachtmann grimaced, clinched his eyes shut and swore. “Fuck!” he said. “Shit!”

Private citizen? Private citizens can’t dig under public highways, least of all federally funded public highways. Neither can they render themselves so completely invisible to influential men like L. David Kane. That kind of anonymity requires, power, real power; the kind wielded only by the police, the military or the federal government.

Nachtmann considered the possibilities.

Dudgeons couldn’t be FBI. Schmidt would have known if he were. Military intelligence was a team effort and Dudgeons worked alone. The armed forces were out. So was the CIA. They couldn’t operate inside US borders, at least not so blatantly. Who did Dudgeons work for?

Nachtmann started. There was movement inside the compound. Tensing, he squinted down his rifle sight. Beyond the chain link fence and across the manicured lawn, taking a seat behind a table on the second floor, was Anthony Dudgeons.

“Gotcha, you son-of-a-bitch.” Nachtmann drew a bead on Dudgeons’ head and held his breath.

He began squeezing the trigger just as Deborah Garrison came between him and his target.

Inside Dudgeons’ Compound – 10:35 AM Hawaii Time

Dudgeons and Deborah sat across from one another, the aroma of Kona coffee wafting upward from their cups. Deborah stirred in a spoonful of sugar, using the moment to take in her surroundings. Though weary, she did her best to remain sociable.

“Anthony, I love your carpet,” she said, admiring a floral and geometric oriental rug near the table. “The colors are dazzling.”

“Antique Serapi,” Dudgeons said, a touch of pride in his voice. “Woven in Persia in the late 19th century. I just got it.”

“Well, it’s gorgeous.”

Dudgeons nodded his head modestly. “How did you sleep?” he asked.

“Better than I have for the last two nights,” Deborah replied. “But that’s not saying much. I’m worried sick about Noah.”

“Why don’t you call him?”

“I’ve tried. The line’s busy. I’ll try again later. What was it you wanted to talk about?”

Dudgeons looked up, a glint in his eye. “Right to business, eh?”

“I’d rather be getting a root canal,” said Deborah. “But talk or not, it’s still on my mind.”

“Have you decided yet what you’re going to do?”

Deborah shook her head. “It’s a big decision,” she said.

“You’re right. It is. I don’t blame you for sitting on the fence.”

“Sometimes I’m tempted to turn my back and walk away,” Deborah said. “But then I feel guilty. How can I leave the Faber-Brady Trust in the hands of people who have no feeling for Hawaii, no regard for its people?”

“You did it before,” Dudgeons said. “You chose marriage and a family.”

“That’s not true,” Deborah replied. “I was forced out. Kane and his people passed me over. It was only after that that I married Jim and moved.”

Dudgeons remained silent.

“I love my son and husband,” she continued, “but I also love Hawaii. I feel a strong pull to assume my rightful place and become executive director of the Faber-Brady Trust.”

“And force Kane to resign?” Dudgeons asked.


“Do you think that would be wise?”

Deborah shrugged. “Compared to what? The man’s been using the trust to line his own pockets for decades.”

“That’s my point,” Dudgeons said. “For decades he’s lined his own pockets and the pockets of everyone he’s bought or bribed. Kane’s friends could make it tough on you if you were to oust him.”

“If I take over the trust, I’ll make it clear that I have no intention of dredging up the past. I’ll excuse everyone who ever dealt with Kane, however guilty they might be.”

“It won’t work,” said Dudgeons.

“Why not?”

“It’s not your call,” he said. “No matter how forgiving you might be, laws have been broken. Sooner or later, it’ll all come out...especially if Kane’s not around to keep the lid on. The minute that happens, some crusading prosecutor is going to start investigating. Kane knows that. So do his cronies.”

“What if they do? What does it matter?”

“Think about it Deborah,” said Dudgeons. “You’ve been in hiding for the past week. Just imagine what’d happen if you were to go public. You’d never have a moment’s peace. Neither would your family.”

Deborah’s shoulders drooped.

“You’re right,” she said. “I thought of that too. I was hoping I was being paranoid.”

“No,” said Dudgeons. “That’s not paranoia. It’s realistic.”

They sat in silence. Deborah stared into her cup. Dudgeons tapped his fingers on the tabletop, looking at her.

“I have an alternative suggestion,” he said after a moment.


“You want to hear it?”

“Of course I do. Whatever you’ve got, tell me.”

Dudgeons smiled. “It’s simplicity itself,” he said. “Give it back.”


“Give the trust’s assets back to the people who owned them in the first place.”

“What are you talking about?” said Deborah.

“Look,” he said, “let’s say there are a half million people with at least 1/8 Native Hawaiian lineage. Liquidate the entire estate, realize the $8 billion and split it up among them.”

“You’re not serious.”

“I am.”

“I could never do that.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t believe you’re even asking me,” said Deborah. “Surely you know why not.”

“Humor me. Tell me why it offends you so.”

“Because, besides the fact that a gesture like that trivializes the struggle of the Hawaiian people, it would also rob living Native Hawaiians of a powerful political voice.”

“It would trivialize history? Isn’t that a little grandiose? How would giving people a substantial sum of money diminish their standing in history?”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Anthony,” she said, “just do the math. Even if there are only a half million Native Hawaiians and even if the trust can be liquidated to its full market value, that’s what? Fifteen or sixteen thousand dollars per person. The number itself is trivial. A $16,000 check won’t get one student through a single year of college. It’s the modern day equivalent of buying Manhattan with a bunch of beads.”

“Sixteen thousand dollars is trivial?” Dudgeons’ oozed condescension. “I’m sure there a fair number of clock-punching Hawaiians who’d disagree.”

“Not if they understood what the trust could do for them...if its assets were available for guaranteeing loans, for underwriting educational costs, for lobbying on their behalf...”

“Oh, come on, Deborah,” Dudgeons said. “Join the real world. Long term, nothing like what you’re suggesting is even remotely possible. Suppose you do manage to pull something together in your lifetime. Suppose you do clean up the board and re-focus the charter. When you die, the scum will rise to the top again.”

Deborah blinked and shook her head, staring across the table in disbelief.

“Anthony,” she said. “Is this some kind of trial? Are you testing my resolve? Because if you are, you can stop right now. I’ve risked my life... I’ve risked family’s lives to be here. I believe there is a wrong to be righted and, one way or another, I want to see that done.”

“And what’s the great injustice?” Dudgeons said. “The illegal takeover of an independent nation? Please, Deborah. The strong always subsume the weak. This sort of thing has been going on for millennia.”

“Exactly,” Deborah said. “And theoretically, that’s one of the reasons the United States was created, to put a stop to that. Things haven’t exactly worked out that way, I grant you, but that’s the idea, and it’s a good one.”

“Be careful, Deborah,” Dudgeons said with a hint of derision. “You’re starting to sound a lot like Isaac Faber.”

Deborah’s back straightened. She turned her head to one side and looked at Dudgeons askance.

“Isaac Faber was my father,” she said. “Of course I sound like him. He was a fine man and I loved him. If he’d lived, Hawaii might be a very different place today.”

“If he’d lived, America might be a second rate power today, like the former Soviet Union; an undisciplined mob of bickering nation states.”

“What are you suggesting,” Deborah demanded, “that my father was not a loyal American? He fought in two wars defending his country. How dare you?”

“Your father’s politics were driving Native Hawaiians toward succession.”

“My father’s conscience was driving him toward redressing their grievances.”

“The things your father wanted could have pushed this country into another civil war.”

“That’s ridiculous. All my father wanted to do was to give the Hawaiian people a fair shake in their own land. That’s what I want. That’s why I’m here.”

Dudgeons’ features grew dark. “Since you’re so much like your father,” he said, “I don’t suppose I have to remind you what happened to him.”

A puzzled expression came over Deborah’s face. She peered across the table.

“Of course not,” she said warily. “I know what happened to him. He died in an auto accident. He and my mother were...” Deborah’s voice trailed away.

Dudgeons’ faced had hardened. Slowly, he shook his head from side to side. Deborah’s eyes widened as a series of events from long ago abruptly assumed new meaning.

“Oh, my god,” she said. Her mind raced backward.

It was bedtime. Seven-year-old Deborah was lying in bed, listening to her father read from ‘Treasure Island.’ Long John Silver was planning his treachery. Jim Hawkins was cowering in the apple barrel, eavesdropping. Deborah was holding her breath. Her father turned the page and the bedroom door banged open. Deborah’s mother rushed in.

“Anthony just called,” she said. “He’s in trouble. Kane has sent some thugs. The police are on their way but Anthony says he’s afraid they won’t make it.”

Isaac closed the book. “I’m on my way.”

“I’m going with you,” Deborah’s mother said.

Isaac Faber tried to make her stay behind, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

“Don’t worry, Deborah,” her father said. “We’ll be back soon.”

Mr. and Mrs. Faber set off, leaving their daughter with Lewis Foo.

But they didn’t come back. They never came back.

Later that same night, Uncle Anthony entered her room, Deborah asked him if he was all right, if the men had left him alone. She asked if the police had come to help him. She asked if her mommy and daddy were home. Uncle Anthony hadn’t said a word. Now she understood why.

“My parents treated you like a member of our family,” Deborah said, her eyes wide with shock. “They were on their way to help you. And”

“I set them up,” said Dudgeons, “I cut their brake cables, too. By the time they reached the downgrade over the cliffs they were going at least sixty-five. When they came to the first sharp turn...well, you know the rest.”

“You…you monster,” she said.

“Perhaps,” Dudgeons said, “but I like to think of myself as merely practical.”

“You’re a double-dealing backstabber,” said Deborah.

“Don’t be a fool, Deborah. Your father was a pleasant enough fellow, but he was woefully behind the times. We’re moving into the 21st century. There’s only one superpower now, but Asia is coming on strong. You’ve got to choose a side.”

“You’re insane.”

“Am I? Did the Chinese bother to ask the Tibetans what they wanted? No. They just took over. That’s what we did in Hawaii. That’s how we have to continue to be. If we allow ourselves to weaken, the US as we know it today won’t be here in a hundred years.”

“If that’s the way America has to be to survive,” Deborah said, “maybe it shouldn’t be.”

Dudgeons pulled a .22 caliber pistol from a holster under his shirt. “And I was so hoping I could make you see reason,” he said, “I deeply regret having to do this, but I can’t stand by and watch you undermine my country.”

“I don’t understand, Anthony,” she said. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because I’m a patriot, Deborah. An American who loves his homeland. There are those among us, you know, who feel that government is too important to be left to public servants.” He stood up. “Let’s go into the next room, dear. I don’t want to get blood on my new Persian carpet.”

Deborah did not hear the shots, only the crackle of glass and the whistling thump of soft lead as it tore through Dudgeons’ skull. His head snapped backward and then to one side. His arms flew outward and his body collapsed. He slid down the wall, still holding his pistol.

Without thinking, Deborah fell to the floor. Her eyes darted around the room. Shots or no shots, there was no mystery about what had happened. To her left were the bullet holes in the window. To her right was the bloody mess that had once been Anthony Dudgeon’s head.

Not since her parents’ funeral had Deborah seen a corpse. To violent death, she had never borne witness. Neither, had she ever knowingly met a killer. Moments ago, Anthony Dudgeons had revealed himself to be one. Just beyond the compound she was being stalked by another.

Outside, Nachtmann swung from an overhanging tree branch and dropped over the fence onto the grounds below. Glancing up, he spotted a short staircase leading to a first floor entrance. He scampered toward it, bounded up the steps and tried the door. It was bolted fast. He aimed rifle at the lock and pulled the trigger.

Deborah flinched at the sound, then leapt up, dashed to her room and snatched her backpack, then ran toward the front hallway in search of an exit.

Which way should she go?

Besides the rear entry, the only other outlet led to the tunnel. With a shock, Deborah realized that the tunnel entrance was adjacent to the rear entry. She was trapped.

Glass from a latched door in the kitchen splintered, crashing to the floor. Deborah ran to a far window in the adjoining room, opened it and looked down.

Twenty feet below lay rugged terrain, strewn with broken bits of lava rock. She sat on the sill and dangled her feet outside.

“No! Don’t!”

Deborah turned her head. A chilling figure came toward her. Years had passed. Filth and grime covered his face and body. Still, there could be no mistake. It was Nachtmann. “Stop!” he said.

She closed her eyes and jumped.

VIP Lounge, LAX, Los Angeles International Airport -- 10:40 PM PST

Jim Garrison arrived at LAX shortly after 9:00 AM, four hours prior to his scheduled departure for Kona. Edgy and anxious, he went in search of an earlier flight. He and a young ticket agent contacted all the major carriers as well as a number of charter operations. It was no use. Everything was booked.

He toyed with the idea of seeking preferential treatment based on his company’s hefty travel budget, but decided against it. Better to stay below the radar, he thought. Better to remain inconspicuous.

The ticket agent seemed genuinely sympathetic. “I’m terribly sorry, sir,” she said.

“Yeah, me too. I haven’t seen my wife and son for over a week and I miss them.”

“How long have you been married?” she asked.

“Eight years.”

“Eight years?” the agent said. “Wow.” She took a coupon from a stack of vouchers. “In that case, since I can’t help you find a flight, the least I can do is help make the wait more pleasant. Here...appetizers and drinks in the VIP lounge...on the house.”

“I’m a VIP?”

“To me you are,” she said. “You’ve given me hope.”

“For what?”

Smiling, she pointed to an engagement ring on her left hand. “That my fiancée will be as eager to see me eight years from now.”

Twenty minutes later, at a crowded counter in front of a tray of crullers, Garrison searched the mid-morning papers for further news of Kailikane Kapono. There was nothing.

He glanced up at the TV set over the bar. The sound was muted, but the announcer’s words appeared via closed captions. At that moment, Kapono’s name flashed across the screen.

“Earlier this morning on the Today show,” the captions read, “NBC aired an exclusive interview with Kailikane Kapono, the Hawaiian schoolteacher who so captured the world’s imagination following a fatal shooting yesterday. Since then, Ms Kapono has been staying at an undisclosed location on Hawaii’s Big Island. There she was interviewed by NBC’s Theresa Turner. We now rebroadcast Ms Kapono’s interview in it’s entirety.”

“Bartender,” Garrison called out, “can we get a little volume on the TV?”

As Kailikane’s face filled the screen. Garrison’s eyes widened involuntarily. The frat boys at the airport in Phoenix had been right. She was stunning. A buzz hummed through the room at her appearance onscreen. Garrison looked around. Virtually every eye in the lounge was directed toward the television.

The bartender flipped on the sound just as the interviewer posed her opening question.

“Ms. Kapono,” Theresa Turner began, “I hope you won’t think me too forward, but the thought is on everyone’s mind: What was the nature of your relationship with the slain man?”

The reporter’s manner was abrupt, her attitude presumptuous. Garrison was familiar with the approach. He seen it used on rock stars and other celebrities. Turner was attempting to manufacture news by asking provocative questions. She failed.

Kapono arched a brow and tipped her head to one side.

“Are you asking whether or not Dr. Crockett and I were linked in some personal way, Miss Turner?” she said.

Nothing in Kapono’s voice or manner suggested that the interviewer’s question might have been thought impertinent. Even so, something in the nature of her response instantly redefined the relationship between the newswoman and her subject. Captured in close-up, the journalist’s face registered chagrin. She backed off.

“ Not at all,” she said. “I...uh...meant only to inquire how you happened to be among the audience members at his appearance in Hilo.”

Kapono nodded. “I see. Yes,” she said. “Dr. Crockett was a friend of my family, Miss Turner, as he was of all Hawaiian people. I was there to welcome him to the islands and to listen to his message.”

“His message?”

“Yes. As an international jurist and legal scholar, it was Dr. Crockett’s opinion that the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands in 1900 was mishandled by the US government.”

“Tell us about that,” said Turner. “It’s my understanding that Dr. Crockett was arguing in favor of Hawaii’s succession from the United States. Is that correct?”

“Not exactly,” Ms. Kapono replied. “Dr. Crockett believed that the annexation of Hawaii was illegal under international law, both then and now. Therefore, Hawaii was never eligible for statehood in the first place.”

“So Hawaii is not a state?”

“And never was. Not according to Dr. Crockett’s line of reasoning, anyway.”

“Why do you think Dr. Crockett was killed, Ms. Kapono? Might it have had to do with his political views?”

“I don’t really know,” the Hawaiian woman said. “It’s certainly possible.”

“Let me ask you this, then,” said Turner. “Do you have any suspicions of your own regarding who or what might be behind his murder?”

Kapono hesitated. “None that I would want to share at this time,” she said at length. “However, that could change very shortly.”

“How do you mean?”

“I’d rather not say here and now,” said Kapono. “However, I am holding a press conference tomorrow on the steps of the Faber-Brady Trust Building in Hilo. You’re welcome to come if you like.”

“The Faber-Brady Trust Building?”

“Yes. At 10:00 AM, on the steps where my grandfather took his life.”

“Ah,” Turner said, “let me ask you about that. As I understand it, until his death, your grandfather was at the head of a group of Native Hawaiian spiritual leaders called the Council of Kahunas. What can you tell us about that organization?”

Kailikane opened her mouth to answer, but Garrison never heard the reply.

“Excuse me,” said the bartender. “Are you the guy looking for a flight to Hawaii?”

“Yes, I am,” Garrison said.

“Telephone,” the man replied, holding out a portable handset. Garrison took it.


“Hello, sir. It’s Gwen, the ticket agent over at United? Are you still interested in getting on an earlier flight?”

“Absolutely,” Garrison said.

“Then get over to gate 87 ASAP. There was a last minute cancellation. The boarding agent has all your info at the desk. Just show her your old ticket and you’re good to go.”

“Gwen, you’re a goddess,” Garrison said. “and if that fiancé of yours ever stops treating you like one, he’s an idiot.”

He looked back up at the television, but no longer had time to listen, “Press conference at 10 AM,” he said to himself. “Faber-Brady Trust Building.”

Home of Edmund ‘Iggy’ Arnold, Hilo, HI -- 11:25 PM Hawaii Time

Agent Schmidt pulled up the gravel drive beside Iggy Arnold’s bungalow and cut his engine. For a few seconds he sat there. Then he restarted the car and drove a bit further on, finally stopping in the backyard behind an overgrown shrub. After a moment, he got out, carrying a tan briefcase.

Local police had just discovered Iggy’s actual residence, its location having been concealed behind the blizzard of false and former addresses that Schmidt had created. The building itself, though not technically a crime scene, had been cordoned off by Hilo PD at the request of the Pahoa Police. Ignoring the tape, Schmidt kicked through the rear door and went inside.

He knew what he wanted. Within five minutes, he’d found it. Bent over a computer screen in Iggy’s back bedroom, Schmidt tapped and clicked his way into a hidden folder called “Project Soma.”

Better not to write anything down, Schmidt thought. He stared at the monitor.

“206 Kauwa Road,” he said aloud, repeating Dickley Hooper’s address until he’d committed it to memory. “206 Kauwa.”

Then he went to Iggy’s kitchen door, near the center of the house, put his briefcase on the floor and left.

Home of Moses and Alana Pukuli, Pahoa Town, HI -- 11:55 AM Hawaii Time

Alana had not, as Hannah Frederick had supposed, been left alone in her kitchen. Since early that morning, a cadre of cooks and craftspeople had been hard at work, helping her get ready for the evening’s entertainment. From the long, curving driveway of the couple’s home, evidence of the elaborate preparations was everywhere. The dining tents and free standing lanai were almost completely set up, as were three barbeque pits, two full bars and a performance stage complete with theatrical lighting and a sound system.

As the minivan pulled up, Mrs. Pukuli came outside to welcome her guests. In the traditional Hawaiian fashion, she placed orchid leis around each of their necks, kissed them on either cheek and embraced them both.

“Sweetheart,” she said, turning to her husband, “that package you were expecting has arrived. Why don’t you and Hal go into your study. I’ll show Hannah to the guest room and help her get settled.”

“I heard there was going to be a luau,” Frederick said as he took a seat in the den. “I assumed it was going to be a family affair.”

Moses rummaged through a stack of mail on his desk. “Between you and me, I’m throwing my hat in the ring for seat in the US Congress,” he said. “The luau is to soften up the party faithful. Ah, here it is.” Pukuli pulled a stack of documents from a manila envelope and held them out. “The report on the Faber crash. Take a look at that while I check on things outside.”

Hal called after him. “Don’t forget we’re going to the Long Branch Saloon,” he said.

“Don’t worry, bruddah,” said Moses, heading out the door. “We got plenty time.”

Kaumana Cave, Near Hilo, HI -- 12:15 PM Hawaii Time

Nearby was a pool into which she heard an occasional drop of water fall. The fragrance and feel of the air were familiar, even soothing.

Deborah knew where she was: a lava tube, a tunnel formed beneath the surface of a solidifying lava flow. As a young girl, she and Katherine Stanford had explored hundreds of such places.

How had she gotten here?

She lay on a sleeping bag filled with cushiony goose down. She should have been resting easily but she wasn’t. The slightest movement was anguish. Her ankle pulsed. Her head ached.

Cautiously, she opened her eyes. Wavering torchlight rippled through the cave and over the moss and lichens clinging to its walls. Those growths look like brain tissue, she thought. The comparison disturbed her. She tried to remember why, but couldn’t.

From close at hand, came the sound of turning pages. She was not alone. More pages turned. The unseen reader snickered once or twice, then guffawed.

Her stomach churned. She knew that laugh.

Now she remembered everything: Anthony’s transformation from friend to fiend, his gory death and, worst of all, the nightmarish apparition of Hugh Nachtmann.

Deborah’s heart hammered in her chest. She closed her eyes, fighting back fear.

As her schoolyard tormentor, Nachtmann had used every means at his disposal to make her life miserable. Back then, his worse threats had been bluff and intimidation. Now the ante had been upped to murder. Of what else he might be capable, she dared not imagine.

She willed herself to remain still, to breathe evenly. For as long as she feigned unconsciousness, she could avoid confronting him. For just that long, she had time to think.

From Anthony Dudgeons, Deborah knew that Nachtmann had been made head of security for the Faber-Brady Trust. She also knew that Nachtmann had been charged with the task of apprehending her. What then, was she doing here?

Where was Kane? He was not a man given to relinquishing control of anything, particularly where it concerned his authority over the trust. That she should be in the hands of his head of security and not also in the presence of Kane was beyond strange.

There was something else, too. Deborah’s best recollection of Hubert Nachtmann was that he hated her. In all the years she’d known him, he’d shown her nothing but contempt. Moreover, the Nachtmann she remembered had always taken the offensive, relentlessly pressing any advantage, whenever and wherever it came.

It was more than a little odd then, that she was here, relatively comfortable and lying on a goose down pallet. Knowing Nachtmann as she did, she might better have expected to be bound and gagged and on the floor of some dark closet.

She tried, for several long minutes, to reconcile the contradictions but it was no use, she realized. She didn’t know enough.

Deborah steeled herself. If she was going to get through this, it would not be by second guessing. She was going to have to face Nachtmann, straight up. If she was to succeed, she could not waver, she could not hesitate. If at any time, he sensed her fear, all would be lost.

She took a breath, pushed herself into a sitting position and turned toward him.

Long Branch Saloon, Rear Entrance, Pahoa Town, HI -- 12:30 PM Hawaii Time

The Molana Organic Program for Scrap Salvage (MOPS), a public service agency operated by Moses and Alana’s meat processing company, was a model of efficiency. With a small fleet of airtight, leak proof rendering trucks, and at no cost to participants, the MOPS program regularly collected meat scraps, bone, blood and feathers, ultimately transforming those materials into marketable goods for agricultural and industrial use. It had never shown a loss, and what profits the program generated were distributed among various Puna charities and community services. MOPS enjoyed the participation of almost every eligible enterprise in the district, including the Long Branch Saloon.

At 12:30 PM on Tuesday, April 13, a rendering truck bearing the MOPS logo, pulled into the lot behind the Long Branch. That the truck had arrived was not remarkable. That it had shown up just minutes after another MOPS truck had come and gone, however, was.

The driver of the MOPS truck parked and entered the saloon, presumably to make a pickup, then exited, empty-handed, only seconds later. At that moment, a minivan entered the parking lot and stopped alongside. After brief conference, the MOPS driver returned to his vehicle while the minivan pulled over and parked. Its driver got out, donned a pair of coveralls and boarded the rendering truck.

Then the truck pulled onto the Puna Road and turned right, toward Highway 130.

Home of Moses and Alana Pukuli, Pahoa Town, HI -- 12:35 AM Hawaii Time

Frederick sat amid a stack of forms, faxes and yellowing police records. His brother-in-law had been right. The case files recounting the deaths of Rebecca and Isaac Faber were a shambles. Whatever real facts they may once have contained had long since been excised.

From the hallway just outside, the sound of the congressman’s voice spilled into the room, followed closely by the man himself. Assisting in the luau preparations had put him in a party mood. His spirit was much improved.

“How’s it going?” he asked. “Find what you’re looking for?”

“Don’t mock me Moses,” said Frederick. “You know I didn’t.”

“Pretty slick, huh.”

“What do you mean?”

“The missing information,” Pukuli said. “The disappearing act.”

“Oh, yeah,” said Frederick. “Bureaucratic sleight of hand....Houdini couldn’t have done better.”

Moses chuckled as he reached over the desk to answer the ringing telephone. Seconds later, a much chastened Congressman Pukuli placed the handset back in its cradle. Frederick could not help noticing the change in him.

“What’s up?” he said.

“More voodoo.”


“Meaning it took us three to figure out where Iggy Arnold actually lived. We finally found the place and now it’s gone.”


Moses mimed an explosion with his fingers. “Boom,” he said. “Presto. Nothing’s left. Just a smoking hole.”



“In that case,” Frederick said, “we’d better get to the Long Branch fast. If this is magic, we need to figure out who’s waving the wand.”

Faber-Brady Trust Building, Hilo HI – 12:45 PM Hawaii Time

As soon as the fax from Kidwell & Perk came through, Kane whisked it from the tray and began to read. When he finished, he sank into his chair. For perhaps a minute, he sat in silence. Then reached for the intercom and pressed a button.

“Trask,” he said.

“Yes, sir?”

“Bring me a Bromo.”

Trask glided into Kane’s office carrying a glass full of fizzing liquid on a tray, stopping short at the sight of his boss’ waxen appearance.

“What is it, sir?” he inquired with alarm. “Is something wrong?”

Kane took the tumbler in both hands and emptied its contents down his throat in a single gulp. Then he belched.

“Sir?” Trask inquired again. “Are you quite well?”

Without a word, Kane held out the fax. Trask took it and read, then found a nearby chair and sat.

“Nachtmann, sir?” said Trask.

“Nachtmann,” the executive director repeated. “Hubert F. Nachtmann. ‘F’ is for ‘Faber.’ I didn’t know that. Did you know that, Trask?”

“No, sir. I didn’t.”

“Hubert Faber Nachtmann,” Kane said, shaking his head.

The two men stared at one another for what seemed like a very long time. Finally, Kane chuckled.

“Nachtmann,” he said again, this time following it with a hearty peal of laughter. “Hubert F. Nachtmann!”

“Yes,” Trask giggled, following his boss’ example. “Hubert Nachtmann!”

Within seconds, both men were roaring helplessly, blotting tears from their eyes.

Long Branch Saloon, Pahoa Town, HI -- 1:10 PM Hawaii Time

On the Big Island, Pahoa is notorious as an outlaw town, a reputation its appearance does little to dispel. With its covered boardwalks, narrow thoroughfares and weathered, wood frame buildings, it looks more like Dodge City, Kansas, than Hawaii.

At just past 12:45 PM, Inspector Frederick and Moses pushed past the swinging doors of Pahoa’s Long Branch Saloon. Frederick paused for a moment, taking in his surroundings.

But for the Pukulis’ Jeep Grand Cherokee parked outside and the electricity and running water inside, the Long Branch was altogether true to its namesake. Wyatt, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson would have felt right at home. Indeed, a sometime bar owner himself, Marshal Earp would likely have been gratified to note that, early on Tuesday afternoon, the place was packed.

It was also noisy, though the clamor subsided briefly at the arrival of Congressman Pukuli. A brawny bartender in an aloha shirt waved hello. A young woman with tattoos kissed him on the cheek. Her boyfriend shook his hand. A hefty biker slapped his back enthusiastically.

Frederick leaned close to Pukuli’s ear. “Are you sure this is a doper bar?” he said.

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“How come these people know you so well?”

Pukuli laughed. “Hawaii is a very laid back place, Hal.”


“Meaning that just about everyone here hangs with everyone else.” Moses motioned around the room. “Some of these folks are straight arrows, some of them aren’t. Either way, both groups very tolerant of each other.”

“Still, you seem awfully friendly with the natives,” Frederick said. “I thought you politicians had to worry about scandal.”

Moses winked. “If I worried too much,” he said. “I’d never have gotten elected.”

The bartender made his way to where Hal and his brother-in-law were standing. “What’ll it be, gents,” he said.

“Ed,” said Pukuli. “This is Hal Frederick...ohana from the mainland. Hal, this is Big Ed Gentry. He’s the boss here.” The two men shook hands. “I’ve got a problem, Ed. Hal here is helping me sort it out. Do you have a minute to talk?”

“Sure,” said Big Ed. “What about?”


Big Ed’s eyes flicked around the room. “What do you say we go to my office?”

Once the door closed, Ed motioned his visitors toward a tattered sofa, then sat down, propped his feet up and tilted back his chair. “This is better,” he said, lighting a small cigar. “How can I help you, Congressman?”

“You’ve heard about the recent spate of killings around here, haven’t you Ed?” Pukuli asked.

“Are you kidding?” said Gentry. “I own a bar, Moses. It’s all I do hear about. This is the first I’ve heard that they were drug related, though.”

“That information was held back,” Pukuli said. “As far as anyone knows officially, the victims were all ex-dealers. That’s what’s got us stumped.” The congressman laid four mug shots on the desk. “You recognize any of these guys?”

Big Ed flipped through the pictures. “Yeah,” he said, throwing down a photo of Iggy Arnold. “This one. He used to come in with one of the regulars.”

“Does this regular have a name?” said Frederick.

“Yeah,” Gentry said. “Hold on a sec, I’ll get it for you.” The barman picked up a telephone and pressed the intercom button. “Hey, Sharon,” he said into the mouthpiece, “send Spencer down here, will you?” Hanging up the phone, he explained. “Spencer’s a doorman. He knows everybody.”

The door opened and a deeply tanned, muscular young Asian man came inside. “What’s up, boss?” he said.

“Hey, Spence,” said Gentry, holding up Iggy’s picture. “You remember this guy?”

“Yeah, I remember him,” Spencer said. “Cuervo Gold over, end of the bar. Nasty. What about him?”

“He used to come in with one of the regulars. What was his name?”

Spencer nodded. “Dickley Hooper,” he said. “The squatter out on Kauwa Road.”

Frederick interrupted. “Squatter?”

“He’s living on land he doesn’t own,” said Moses. “There’s a lot of that around here.”

“What do you guys want with Dickley?” Spencer said. “You gonna put him away somewhere?”

“Should we?” said Frederick.

“Well, he’s kinda weird, always has been. Especially lately, though.”


“Yeah, like today. He comes in around noon, he’s here for a few minutes. Doesn’t even have a drink...just goes off...starts pointing at the TV and screaming: ‘You told me to tell them. I’m telling them. I’m going to tell them.’ Shit like that. I tried to calm him down. Finally I just threw him out.”

“Is today the first time he’s acted up?” Moses asked.

“Yesterday he was mumbling to himself at the bar,” Spencer said, “but he wasn’t like... out of control, like today.”

“What was on?” Frederick asked.

Spencer frowned. “Pardon?”

“When Hooper came in today,” Frederick said. “When he started screaming, what was on TV?”

“Oh...uh.” The doorman scratched his head. “The news, I think. Yeah, it was the news...CNN...about that school teacher who saw the lawyer get shot.”

Frederick and Pukuli exchanged glances.

“What does Dickley Hooper do?” Frederick asked.


“For a living, I mean.”

Spencer looked nervously at his boss.

Big Ed nodded. “Speak freely, Spence,” he said.

“He’s a pot farmer,” the doorman replied.

“You know where he lives?” asked Moses.

“Off Highway 130 on Kauwa Road,” said Spencer. “By the green ranch style and the bungalows.”

Moses stood up and ushered Spencer out the door. “Thanks,” he said. “You’ve been a big help.” Spencer stepped out and Moses closed the door.

“Is that it?” Big Ed asked. “Is there anything more I can do?”

“Just keep your eyes and ears open,” Frederick said.

“Yeah, Ed,” Pukuli added. “And if you would, keep our little talk to yourself, OK?”

Gentry grinned. “What talk?”

There was a knock. Spencer stuck his head back inside. “One thing I forgot,” he said.


“Someone else was here today. Just after I threw Dickley out, this big kanaka dude came in asking for him.”

“Kanaka?” Frederick said.

“Native Hawaiian,” said Moses. “Anyone you know, Spencer?”

“Never seen him.”

“You sure?” said Gentry.

The doorman shook his head. “A guy that big I’d remember.”

Kaumana Cave, Near Hilo, HI -- 12:50 PM Hawaii Time

“Do you know where you are?” Nachtmann asked.

“Of course,” Deborah said. “We’re in a lava tube.”

“Yes, but which one and where?”

Deborah looked around. A wood carving of the Hawaiian god of the underworld stared out from a rough niche in the wall, and a small collection of antique books sat on a rock. But for those things, this was much like thousands of such caves that riddled the Big Island.

“I have no idea,” she said.

“Would it surprise you to learn that you’re in Kaumana Cave?”

Deborah was surprised. Kaumana is one of the largest and most important caves of its kind on earth. A popular tourist destination, it attracts thousands of visitors yearly.

“What’s the matter,” said Nachtmann. “Don’t you believe me?”

“Yes, but how?”

“How what?”

“How did we get here? Where are all the tourists, the hikers?”

Nachtmann’s face twisted into a leer. “No tourist will ever see this place,” he said.

His tone almost undid her. Deborah’s skin crawled. More to fill the silence than to learn, she prodded him. “Why not?” she said. “Why can’t tourists come here?”

“It’s not connected to the main tube anymore. I sealed it off. No one but you and me will ever see this.”

Deborah came near to gagging. The phrase “no one but you and me” implied so much. Still, she kept her nerve.

“As for how we got here,” he said, “you’ll find out about that later.”

In this last statement, at least, was a modicum of comfort. Evidently, he didn’t mean to keep her prisoner indefinitely. At some point, they would leave. Soon, she hoped.

Meanwhile, she pressed on. It was time to ask the most important question of all.

“What is this all about?” she said. “Why am I here?”

Nachtmann blinked several times and screwed up his face in puzzlement, shaking his head slowly from side to side. “You don’t have to pretend with me, Deborah,” he said. “I know what you want. I know what you really want. I’ve known for years.”

“You do?”

“Come on. Stop being coy.”

“I’m not being coy. I really don’t know. Tell me what’s going on. You owe me that much.”

He stared at her for a few moments, blew a puff of air through his lips and looked away. Then he turned back.

“For eight years, I stayed away from you, planning this. That’s what you wanted. Now I’ve got the whole thing together and you still want me to spell it out for you?”

Nachtmann’s voice was growing louder, more agitated. Deborah was tempted to back off, but having started down this road, there was only one way forward.

“Yes,” she said. “Spell it out.”

Nachtmann howled with frustration, clenched his fists and shook them in the air. “All right,” he shouted, his eyes bulging. “You’re here to rule an in-de-pen-dent Hawaii.” His breathed heavily, glowering for a moment before continuing. “We’re going to conquer this place. Use the money in the Faber-Brady Trust to take it back.”

Deborah swallowed hard. “Take back what?” she asked. “Hawaii?”

“Yes, Hawaii,” Nachtmann said. “Of course, Hawaii. That’s our destiny. Then you and I will rule together at Iolani Palace. There. That’s everything, chapter, page, book and verse. Are you satisfied now?”

Now it was Deborah’s turn to stare in disbelief.

Highway 130, Near Kauwa Road, Pahoa Town, HI -- 1:15 PM Hawaii Time

Dickley Hooper trudged, sandal-footed, down the shoulder of Highway 130, stopping every few yards to shout at the trees along the roadside.

“I did my best. I tried to tell them,” he called out, “but they didn’t want to know.”

He paused briefly after each outburst, listening for a response, continuing on his way only when it became apparent that none was forthcoming.

At the junction of Highway 130 and Kauwa, he stopped again and turned toward the roadside.

“I did my best. I tried to tell them,” he said. “They didn’t want to know.”

Then, as Dickley stood with his back to the road, waiting and listening, awhite truck approached from the southeast and braked to a stop behind him. Engrossed in his ritual, he neither heard nor saw the vehicle drawing near. Slowly, its tinted passenger window opened, revealing a massive brown man inside.

“Hey. What you doing, brah?” said the man, smiling broadly.

Dickley whirled around, the pebbly roadside crunching underfoot. “What...what do you want?” he said.

“Nothing, brah,” the man replied. “Just passing the time, like. Where you going?”

A perplexed, semi-sensible expression stole over Hooper’s face. Who is this guy, he thought. Do I know him?

The driver of the truck leaned across the gearshift console and into the light so Dickley could see him. “You want a ride?” he said.

Dickley’s breath caught in his throat. The driver and his passenger were identical. Now, even without their gourd helmets, he knew exactly who they were.

He gulped. In the grip of fear, his brain shifted into overdrive, digging through every fact and memory, every thought and idea he’d ever had. There had to be a way out of this.

“I tried to do what she told me,” Dickley said finally. “I tried to tell them.”

The twin in the passenger seat began to pull back the door handle. “Yeah,” he said. “I bet you did.”

Dickley’s life flashed before his eyes. With a piteous bleat, he turned and bolted down Kauwa Road, heading for home. Broken bits of razor-sharp gravel wedged into his sandals. Panicky sweat poured into his eyes.

The truck lurched forward, surging after him. From behind, the fingers of a heavy hand closed around Dickley’s collar, jerking him backward and flinging him to the ground. Gravel tore into his hip, legs and arms.

The truck stopped. Its doors opened. Hooper squirmed and scrambled to his feet, somehow managing to put a few precious steps between himself and the truck. His tongue protruded. His head rolled from side-to-side. To his right lay an open ditch; to the right of that, a barbed wire fence. But for the roadway, there was nowhere to run.

Dickley looked over his shoulder. The truck rushed at him. Beefy fingers clutched again at his collar. He skidded to a stop and ducked. The truck careened past.

Desperately, he changed course, turned back and made for the highway, praying for a miracle.

The truck, too, reversed itself, and came at him yet again.

This time, however, there was no grasping hand. This time, the truck hurtled by at breakneck speed. This time, just as it came alongside, the passenger door sprang open and swatted Dickley like a fly.

To late, Dickley threw out his hands as he crashed to the pavement. His face skidded and scraped across the blacktop. He slid to a stop and lay still.

The truck backed up beside hm. His brain willed him to move. His body refused.

From far away, as though deep in a well, Dickley heard the clatter of chain against heavy gauge metal. Steel doors creaked. He was borne aloft. For a second, just before splashing down, he felt weightless. After that, there was nothing; nothing but stench.

The truck was brimming, full to overflowing with animal by-products and blood.

Dickley opened his eyes. He saw only darkness. He gasped for air. His mouth filled with sludge.

Swimming, spitting, splashing, ever more helpless to hold up his head, he screamed into the darkness. “I tried to t...tell them...god damn it!...I d...did my best! I tried...they wouldn’t...they wouldn’t l...listen!”

With that, the rendering truck reached the highway and turned right, away from Pahoa and toward the ocean.

Blue Diamond Rent-A-Car, Kailua-Kona Airport -- 1:20 PM, Hawaii Time

“Can’t I just pay cash?”

“Sorry, sir,” the clerk said. “When you return the vehicle, you can settle up any way you like, but company policy says I can’t give you a car unless I get a draft from a major credit card.”

Garrison thumbed through the bills still left in his wallet. “Tell you what,” he said. “Between you and me, special deal, today only. I’ll pay you double, off the books.”

The young man shrugged and held up his hands.

“Triple, then,” Garrison pleaded. “Plus a $500 bonus, up front.”

“Believe me, sir,” said the clerk, “if I could take that deal, I would. I just can’t.”

Garrison sighed. This was the third rental agency he’d tried. He needed a car, and fast.

“You’ve got plenty of cards,” the clerk said. “They can’t all be maxed out.”

Garrison gave up. “All right,” he said, pulling out some plastic. “Give me a full-size.”

“Excellent. May I see your drivers’ license, please?”

The clerk took Garrison’s CDL, swiped his charge card through an electronic reader and began writing a contract. Meanwhile, via modem, the car agency’s point-of-sale program contacted a remote credit authentication computer. That computer downloaded information from the magnetic stripe on the back of Garrison’s card, checked it against a database and validated the transaction. The Blue Diamond Rent-A-Car printer spat out a sales draft.

“There,” said the clerk. He held out a pen and slid the draft across the counter. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Garrison took the pen and signed. “I sure as hell hope not,” he said.

Before he could board his Taurus and drive off the lot, the computer that had validated Garrison’s card began executing a secondary subroutine, checking the card number against a host of other, supplementary databases. Before he could pull out on the highway, the subroutine had found a match. Before he’d gone a single mile, an electronic message had been sent to the San Francisco office of a certain workaholic accountant named Kertz.

Trade Wind Towers Apartments, Hilo, HI – 1:30 PM Hawaii Time

Nachtmann was not answering his phone.

“To hell with calling,” Kane said. “Take me there.”

Twenty minutes later, a long black limousine carrying Kane, Trask and three multi-purpose hatchet men pulled up in front of apartment eleven on the ground floor of Trade Wind Towers. Kane and his assistant went to the door. The three grunts waited outside.

Trask rang the bell but no one answered. Kane grumbled. Trask pulled a small screwdriver and a dental pick from a leather case in his jacket. In a trice, Nachtmann’s door popped open. Trask stood to one side, holding the door for FBT’s executive director.

Entering, Kane paused, letting his eyes adjust to the darkened hallway. Behind him, his assistant felt around for the light switch. As the room lit up, both men stopped dead. Nachtmann’s décor was a surprise.

Taped across his walls were hundreds of haphazard photos, snapshots, newspapers and magazine articles, headlines, biographies, obituaries and birth announcements. Most of the material pertained to Deborah’s family, especially to Deborah herself. The rest dealt with various milestones in the life of Nachtmann’s father, the late Reverend Dr. Faber Heath.

“I thought this was going to be a surprise to him,” said Kane.

Trask sniffed. “Evidently not, sir.”

The director growled and stamped his foot. “What’s he been thinking, damn it? He’s what we’ve been looking for all along and he knew it. Why didn’t he just step up and say so?”

“This doesn’t bode well, sir,” Trask said.

“Damn right it doesn’t.”

The executive director crossed to a chair and sat down. His problems, so he’d thought, had been resolved. Now, thanks to his scheming security chief, he had a new set, the most pressing of which was this: What was Nachtmann up to?

A little over 48 hours ago, Kane had given Nachtmann carte blanche to go anywhere and do anything to find Deborah Garrison’s son. Even assuming the man was still following orders, which was doubtful, there was no way of telling where he might be.

Kane turned toward Trask. “We’ve got to find that son-of-a-bitch and put this right, one way or another,” he said. “Tomorrow’s the deadline.”

Trask cleared his throat. “Nachtmann inherited a few acres of land off Kaumana Road, sir. The Grober Tag Ranch. It was his mother’s, I think.”

Kane looked up. “How do you know that, Trask?” he said.

“It was in the report, sir...from Kidwell & Perk.”

“Let’s go then, for Christ’s sake. Let’s get out there.”

206 Kauwa Road, Off Highway 130, Pahoa Town, HI -- 1:30 PM Hawaii Time

Moses’ Grand Cherokee crept down Kauwa Road. Tropical forest encroached on either side. An occasional tin-roofed squatter’s shack poked through the greenery. Ahead and to the right stood an open tract of land. A row of bungalows lined one edge of the clearing, a sprawling, green ranch-style house lay along the other.

Moses pointed across the street toward a tumbledown, clapboard shanty, partially hidden by brush. “That must be the place,” he said.

Pukuli’s police experience was in his past, but he was still a cop. With a minimum of commotion, he and Frederick made their way to Dickley’s doorway. The congressman stood to one side. Frederick knocked.


He knocked again.

From the quad between the ranch-style and the row of bungalows across the road, a voice rang out. “He’s not in there,” it said.

A sandy-haired fellow in his mid-thirties, barefoot, wearing Levis and a tank top, hopped over a ditch and crossed the road. “You looking for that Hooper creep?” he called out.

“Yeah,” Frederick said. “Dickley Hooper. You seen him?”

“Not since about eleven this morning.” The man came closer. “You guys cops?” he asked.

“I’m Congressman Pukuli,” Moses said. He held out his hand as the man approached. “I stand for this district in the state house of representatives. This is Inspector Frederick of the San Francisco Police.”

He took Moses’ hand and gave it a shake. “Right, I’ve seen you on TV. I’m Jack Richter.” He nodded at Frederick. “I’m glad someone’s finally coming after that little prick. I was beginning to think he was police-proof.”


“My girlfriend says he’s been raising hell out here for years; talking shit, taking stuff that’s not his. People report him, but nothing happens. Son-of-a-bitch stole Brendan’s bicycle yesterday. Pissed me off.”


“My girlfriend’s son,” Richter explained.

Frederick nodded. “You say you saw him around eleven?”

“Yeah. Taking off down the road. Walking, though. Not riding Brendan’s bike, that’s for damned sure.”


“I kicked his ass yesterday; took the bike back too. Cocksucker.”

The inspector cleared his throat. “You live over there, Jack?” he asked, indicating the bungalows.

“Yeah. My girlfriend’s place. I just moved in.”

“Do me a favor, then. Head on back. We’ve got some work to do.” A pause. Richter frowned. “We’ll call you if we need anything.”

The man glanced quickly from the inspector to the congressman and back again.

“Yeah, sure,” he said, his voice uneasy. “No problem.”

Hesitating, Richter turned to go, only to stop before taking his second step. “Listen,” he said. “Just so you know, I didn’t rough him up bad. Just enough to make him cautious.”

“Don’t worry,” Pukuli said. “We understand.”

Richter looked relieved. “Thanks.”

Once more, Jack Richter took his leave, only to stop again a moment later.

“And by the way,” he said, “that front door don’t open. You gotta go around back.”

Pukuli watched the man disappear into his girlfriend’s bungalow.

The backside of Dickley’s shack was even more dilapidated than the front. What had once been a wall now lay in a heap where it had fallen, covered with moss. A blue canvas drop cloth hung like a curtain over the hole left behind. Two long, rusty pipes supported what was left of the roof.

Frederick took a pair latex gloves out of his shirt pocket and began pulling them over his hands.

Moses’ eyed them. “Where the hell did those things come from?”

The inspector winked. “Me and the Boy Scouts, Mo,” he said. “Always prepared.”

Frederick drew back the drop cloth and looked inside. But for a lone mouse, hunkered over a pile of crumbs, no living thing was evident. Water dripped into a sink full of dishes. A muted television set flickered from atop an orange crate.

After a moment, Moses spoke. “Tell you what,” he said, “you get started. I’ll fetch Pahoa PD and a warrant. I don’t want our asses coming uncovered. OK with you?”

“Go,” said Frederick.

Pukuli pulled away as the inspector eased into Dickley’s digs. His step was light. Even the mouse didn’t move.

Crossing to the TV set, he turned it off and looked around. From within, it was even funkier than it first appeared. Rusty nails stuck out from the floorboards. Trash was everywhere.

Only one surface, a table near the center of the room, was free of clutter.Dead center was a single sheet of drawing paper. Frederick walked to the table and turned the page over. On the reverse side was a childish drawing. Frederick’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline.

“Hot damn,” he muttered. “That tells a tale.” He put the drawing back down.

On top of a stack of magazines near the table, was a hookah; a water pipe. Frederick picked it up by the bowl. Bottom heavy with liquid, it came apart. A small, stainless steel cylinder clattered to the floor.

The sound was too much for the mouse. Startled, it scurried toward a far corner, disappearing down what appeared to be a perfectly square, freshly sawn hole.

Frederick crossed the room and crouched over the hole. A sticky sweetness, heavy and dark, filled his nostrils. He went down on one knee, stretching out his arm to explore the cache.

Outside, a car came to a stop. Must be Moses, Frederick thought. That was quick.

The drop cloth curtain opened, letting in more light. Footsteps fell.

Now on all fours, the inspector did not look around. “Hey, Mo,” he said. “Come here. Take a look at this.”

“I’ve got a better idea, Frederick. Why don’t you take a look at this?”

He knew the voice. It wasn’t Moses. The inspector turned his head. Something shiny and hard slammed into his skull.

Ray   Staar

Ray Staar

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