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installment 8

Consulate of the People’s Republic of China, San Francisco, CA -- 3:15 PM PST

If traffic around Japantown was congested, parking was worse. Wingate circled the block twice and was heading around for a third time when he saw a space open up on the north side of Geary. He wheeled around and grabbed it, then got out and fed the meter. Perfect, he thought. The Chinese Consulate is right across the street. He went to the crosswalk, pressed the ped-xing button and stood at the curb, waiting for the light to change.

Making enquiries into an off-limits investigation in full view of the entire precinct had been nerve-wracking. Wingate was also getting hungry. He’d decided to combine his lunch break with an on-site visit to the consulate. The light changed, he crossed Geary and went inside the building.

A guard directed him to the office of public affairs. Seated facing the far wall, his back to the door and staring into a computer screen was a Mr. L. Kwan, or so said the sign on his desk. Mr. Kwan was deeply engrossed in something and evidently unaware that he had a visitor. Wingate cleared his throat. Kwan leaped straight up and spun around like a man on a tilt-a-whirl.

“How can I help you?” Kwan said, his voice unsteady. Wingate glanced over the man’s shoulder, toward the computer screen. Kwan was checking his stock portfolio.

“I’m looking into a request for a vehicle tow that came from here early Sunday morning,” Wingate said, flashing his ID. “Do you happen to know who might have called it in?”

“Uh, no, actually,” Kwan replied, speaking English with just a trace of an Oxford accent. “Ordinarily, there is no one in the building at that time of day. Only security guards. Perhaps one of them?”

“Perhaps,” said Wingate. As a CSI, he didn’t do a lot of interviewing. What should he ask next, he wondered. He took a wild stab. “Do you know of anyone connected to the consulate by the name of Lewis Foo?”

“I do not,” said Kwan. “Is this an American man?”

“Yes. American.”

“One moment,” the official said. “Perhaps he is a contractor or a civilian employee. Let me check with personnel.”

Kwan picked up his phone, dialed a number and, after a moment spoke a few Chinese phrases into the mouthpiece. Wingate knew a little Cantonese, but that did no good. Kwan was speaking Mandarin. He looked up from the phone.

“You did say ‘Foo,’ correct?” Kwan asked.

“Yeah,” said Wingate. “‘Lewis Foo.’” Kwan repeated the name into the mouthpiece and waited. “I’m sorry,” he said after a pause, “There is no American connected with the consulate by that name. Is there anything else you require?”

Kwan was still on the phone with personnel. Wingate thought about his question. Was there any thing else? Perhaps he should get a complete list of Americans who worked there. Who knew? Maybe one of them might have some useful information. He asked Kwan for a list. Kwan relayed his request to personnel and hung up the phone.

“Just a moment, sir,” he said. “I’ll go fetch the document.”

Kwan returned shortly with a single sheet of paper. As Wingate had asked, it was a list of names and telephone numbers on letterhead from the consulate.

At that moment, the door to the office flew open. A slightly older Chinese man, perhaps forty, with one gold tooth and a scar through his upper lip burst inside, screaming at the top of his voice. He was very excited.

Oh shit, Wingate thought. This doesn’t look good.

Trade Wind Towers Apartments, Hilo, HI – 2:10 PM Hawaii Time

Nachtmann dropped his bags beside a wilted palm plant, then made straight for the wet bar. He’d managed to get an hour or two of sleep on the flight from the mainland, but it hadn’t been enough. He was still reeling from a two day bender on pep pills. His nerves were shredded.

To make matters worse, his hands were shaking badly. Only half the tequila he was pouring came anywhere near the rim of his glass. He brought the bottle to his lips.

Drinking hard and swallowing fast, a rivulet of liquor went down his windpipe. He coughed, hacking and retching until his eyes grew red. Gasping for air, he came around to the front of the bar and leaned heavily on a stool. There he stood, seeing spots, for several minutes.

When, at last, he began to think with something like clarity, Nachtmann realized, yet again, how much needed doing. Deborah Garrison must be found, and soon. To L. David Kane, Nachtmann knew, her fate was of little consequence. Whether she lived or died scarcely mattered to him. There were others, however, who felt differently. To those people, only Deborah’s death was satisfactory.

Nachtmann shuddered. Without Deborah by his side, even Iolani Palace would seem bloodless and uninspiring. He reached into his bag and pulled out her framed photo.

“Don’t worry, baby,” he said.

The phone rang. Nachtmann pulled himself together and picked it up.


“Good afternoon, Mr. Nachtmann. I trust this call finds you well.”

Nachtmann hesitated. “Uh...well enough,” he said.

It had taken a moment to recognize the caller’s peculiar whiney tone, perhaps due to the fact that, except via telephone, Nachtmann and he had never actually met. He was, nonetheless, the source of the blackmail photos Nachtmann had used to gain employment at FBT.

“If you recall, sir,” said the voice, “several months ago, in exchange for certain information, you agreed to perform two tasks, the first of which falls due, this evening.”

“Oh, Jesus,” Nachtmann said. “That thing is tonight?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Christ. I just got back from the mainland. I lost track of the date. What time?”

“Get there at six. There’ll be less chance of being seen if you arrive early.”


“Everything is in place. Take a cab and get out a couple of blocks away. Understand?”

“Of course.”

“And Nachtmann?”


“Don’t miss.”

Faber-Brady Trust Executive Offices, Hilo, HI -- 2:15 PM Hawaii Time

Just seconds after opening the letter from Kidwell & Perk Detective Agency, a droplet of perspiration formed on L. David Kane’s brow. A fastidious man, he would normally have produced a handkerchief and dabbed it away immediately. This time he did not. Hence, rolling down his face as he read, the bead of sweat grew steadily larger until it hung, fat and tremulous, near the tip of his nose.

The document contained news...good news. And not just ordinary good news, but news that was almost unbelievably first-rate. Kane’s eyes, by turns widening and narrowing as they darted across the page, now lingered over a particularly gratifying passage.

“Investigations indicate,” it read, “that on December 16, 1960, an office worker in the employ of the late Reverend Dr. Faber Heath gave birth to a child. Evidence, which has only recently come to light, strongly suggests that the child, a boy, may well have been the son of your late colleague, Reverend Dr. Faber Heath.

“In an effort to resolve the truth of these findings and to determine the identity of the child in question, this office is currently endeavoring to locate and unseal the pertinent social services records.

“Inasmuch as official bureaucratic prejudices against disclosure of such information have proven an impediment, we appeal to you to bring your influence to bear on behalf of our efforts.

“Please be assured that we will keep you informed of our findings, whatever they may be.”

The drop of sweat, at last overcoming both surface tension and gravity, fell heavily from Kane’s nose and plopped down on the page in front of him.

“Trask!” he shouted to his assistant. “Trask! Get Kidwell & Perk on the phone, at once!”

206 Kauwa Road, Off Highway 130, Pahoa Town, HI -- 3:00 PM Hawaii Time

The memory of watching Iggy’s brains getting pounded out made concentration difficult. Exhausted, Dickley nodded off. When he awoke he was achy, parched and hungry.

He got up and stretched, then drank three glasses of water. That took care of the aching and the thirst, but he was still hungry. That was a problem: he was out of food and he didn’t feel like walking to get some.

A young widow and her 12-year-old son lived next door. Dickley peeked outside. The coast was clear. He strolled across the yard, helped himself to the kid’s bike and pedaled away.

Within minutes, he arrived at the Long Branch Saloon. Dickley was a regular here. People at the Long Branch knew him. They didn’t particularly like him, but they knew him.

The joint was jammed; every table full. Dickley found a stool at the bar, sat down, ordered beer and a burger, then sipped his brew and eavesdropped.

The words “Puna Pow” fairly leapt out at him. He was shocked. Puna Pow was Iggy’s name for the ultra potent pot he never sold. How did anyone else even know about it?

Dickley glanced over his shoulder. The blonde man who’d said the name was talking to three others. Dickley scooted back in his chair and leaned toward them.

“Genetic engineering, I guess,” the man was saying. “It makes it super strong and, get this, the shit is addictive. It’s supposed to be as bad as crack.”

The man’s friends were impressed. “Whoa,” they said.

“Puna Pow?” said one of them. “Never heard of it.”

“I’d like to try it,” said another.

“No can do,” the blonde man replied. “From what I hear, Kanakas got it free, but no one else could get any price.”

“What? They got comped and we get squat? Why’s that?”

“Beats me,” said the man. “But I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t have anything to do with that shit, even if it was free.”

“How come?”

The man lowered his voice. Dickley leaned in so far, he nearly tipped over.

“Because those four dead guys,” the man said, “the one’s who got all chopped up? I hear they got wasted because they were suppliers.”


“Yeah,” said the blonde man. “Damn.”

Dickley was thunderstruck. Iggy the Apostle had not been, as Dickley had supposed, the only victim. In all, four people were dead. And if this blonde fellow had it right, they’d all died in the same way, and all because of Puna Pow.

Suddenly, the words that had eluded Dickley for nearly two days, echoed through his head.

“For now,” she’d said. “This is the last of four. Should more poison find its way to my people, more deaths will follow. Do you understand?”

Dickley hadn’t understood any of it before. Now, he did, at least partially. In no particular order of importance, the woman’s message contained the following four points:

  1. Iggy the Apostle had been the last of four cautionary killings.

  2. Puna Pow was the poison to which she referred.

  3. If any more of it fell into Native Hawaiian hands, heads would roll, quite literally. And finally,

  4. First among those heads would be Dickley’s.

Potrero Hill, San Francisco, CA -- 4:15 PST

Wearing a thin layer of dust and dragging a battered suitcase, Frederick emerged from his basement just as Paul Wingate’s BMW rolled up the drive.

“Are they still letting that thing on the road?” Frederick said,.

Wingate climbed from behind the wheel. The ’82 Beamer was his pride and joy and he was touchy about it.

“What do you mean ‘they?’” he said. “We work for the police department, Hal. We ARE ‘they.’ ‘They’ are us. Remember?”

“Oh, right,” the inspector replied. “I forgot.”

Wingate had something on his mind. Frederick could tell. The two of them had worked together often enough and he knew the signs. Petulance was one of them.

“So, what are you doing here?” Frederick asked. “Haven’t you heard I’m on vacation?”

Wingate glanced up and down the street. Two cars were passing, one north, the other south. The northbound car, a black Lincoln, stopped two houses away. Wingate frowned.

“Let’s go inside,” he said.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No. I’m not kidding.”

“What’s up?” Frederick asked, casting a glance at the stopped car. “You auditioning to be the new James Bond?”

“I said, I’m...not...kidding.” Wingate bit off each word. “Let’s…go…inside.”

Frederick reached down to pick up his bag. “All right,” he said. “Let’s go.”

Once indoors, Wingate was still jumpy. “You got any liquor, Hal?” he asked. “I need a drink.”

The inspector looked at his friend. Wingate was not a teetotaler, but using alcohol to steady his nerves was not his usual style. “In the den,” he said. “Through there.”

Hannah looked out from the kitchen as they passed, eyeing her husband warily.

“Are you packed yet?” she said.

“That’s why Paul’s here, honey,” Frederick replied. “He my consultant.”

“Hal, you’d better pack.”

“I will, Hannah. I swear. Just as soon as we’re done here.”

The two men entered the den through sliding doors. Frederick went to the sideboard.

“OK,” he said. “I’ve got expensive scotch and I’ve got cheap gin,”

“As long it’s booze and it’s big.”

“Gin it is,” Frederick said.

He poured a large one into an old-fashioned glass and handed it over. Then he dribbled out a small scotch for himself and sat.

“OK,” he said. “What’s going on?”

“Look outside.”


“You have a view of the street from here, don’t you?”

“You know I do.”

“Well then, look at it. Look outside.”

Frederick put down his drink and went to the window and pried open the blinds.

“See that Lincoln Town Car out there?” Wingate asked.


“Can you see what’s on the bumper?”

“Yep,” Frederick said. “License plates.”

“What kind?”

“I can’t see that far.”

“Here. Try these.” Wingate stepped toward him and held out a pair of opera glasses.

“Since when are you an opera fan?” Frederick said.

“Just look at the damned car, will you?” The inspector peered through the lenses. “Can you see them?” Wingate asked. “Can you see the plates?”

“Yeah. They’re...”

“I’ll tell you what they are,” Wingate said. They’re special diplomatic plates and they say ‘Consul Corps 569-706.”


“And the driver is a Chinese man with a gold tooth.”

“I can see that he’s Asian,” said Frederick. “I’ll concede that he’s Chinese and take your word about his teeth. You win the prize for best eyesight. What’s going on?”

“That guy has been on my ass...all...afternoon, Hal.” Wingate was rattled. “When I first saw him I thought I was imagining things, so I shook him off. Then he showed up again. Then...”

“All right, Paul, all right. Settle down.” Frederick steered his friend back to a chair. “Does this story have a beginning?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“Start there.”

Wingate recounted his suspicions regarding Lewis Foo and learning about Garrison’s Mercedes getting towed from the Chinese Consulate. Then he hesitated.

“You’re not going to believe this part,” Wingate said.


“This is wild.”

“What is?” Frederick asked.

“Remember when you asked me to check out Lewis Foo’s phone activity?”


“Remember me telling you that his doctor’s number was a fake?”

“Didn’t you say it was the number of an embassy or someth...oh, shit. You mean the number Foo gave us was the number of the Chinese Consulate?”

Wingate bowed his head and pointed at Frederick. “Bingo,” he said.

“Holy crap,” said the inspector. “What happened when you called? You did call them, didn’t you?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You mean you paid them a visit?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And you picked up a tail?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why?” Frederick asked. “I mean what happened? Why are they following you?”

“I asked some flunky if he knew anyone by the name of Lewis Foo,” Wingate replied. “He said no. I showed him a copy of the tow order for Garrison’s car and asked him if he knew who called it in. He said no. Finally, I asked if I could have a list of US citizens who worked for the embassy. I figured I’d canvass them...find out if any of them knew anything.”

Frederick nodded. Wingate reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a single sheet of paper.

“Here’s the list,” he said. “As soon as I got my hands on it, things got weird.”

“How so?”

“That guy out it the Town Car, the guy with the gold tooth...maybe he’s the first guy’s boss. I don’t know. tooth boy comes in and starts yelling in Chinese...he’s giving the flunky hell. Then he turns to me and says he wants his list back.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing. I just folded the thing up and put it in my pocket.” Frederick laid out his hand and Wingate slapped it.

“for a bald guy,” Frederick said, “you’ve got steel.”

“You may not think so you hear what happened next.”

“Why? What happened?

“Gold tooth boy started screaming for the Red Guard.”

“You mean security?”


“What did you do?” asked Frederick.

“What do you think I did? I ran.”

“You ran?”

“Like a kid stealing candy.”

The inspector had a way with words. He was a good storyteller and his friends found him funny. Frederick himself, however, smiled infrequently and laughed even less. At Wingate’s revelation, he howled himself hoarse. It was a full minute before he could speak.

“Let me see that list,” he said finally, wiping his eyes on a shirtsleeve. Frederick took the page and scanned it, chuckling occasionally. Most of the names were either European or Hispanic, along with a sprinkling of ABCs, American born Chinese. It was a simple roll call of US citizens who worked at the consulate.

“See what I mean?” Wingate said. “There’s no one there. There’s nothing out of line on that list.” Frederick didn’t answer. He was staring at the Chinese characters beneath the consulate’s address on the letterhead.

“Maybe it’s not the list that got the tooth fairy’s drawers in a twist,” he said. “Maybe it’s something else.” Frederick went to the desk, picked up the receiver on his fax phone and punched in a number. “Let’s see what the Asian Languages department Berkeley makes of these ideographs.”

Near Peach Springs, AZ -- 5:30 PM MST

Ruth Yellowhawk was not pleased. As if it wasn’t enough of a burden to be the single mother of an absent-minded son who did foolish, inexplicable things, now she had to suffer the same behavior from the boy’s grandfather. At least Quentin had the excuse of youth and inexperience. An old man should know better.

Returning home from her shift at the convenience store, tired and achy, she was in no mood to receive company and the sight of the white man Quentin had found in a hole in the desert did little to help.

As recently as two weeks ago, Federal Marshals had come through Peach Springs, leaving brochures and warning people about the rise in survivalist activity along Highway 40. Authorities suspected that domestic terrorists might take advantage of the broad desert wilderness to hide weapons and build bombs. Who could say? This fellow, this stranger, now staying under her roof, he might be such a person.

“What were you thinking, bringing that man here?” she asked her father-in-law. “You don’t know anything about him.”

“Quiet,” Joseph said. “He’ll hear you.” The two had gone outside, near the chicken coop, to talk. Even so, the air was still and the cottage walls were thin.

“What if he does?” Ruth Yellowhawk demanded. “Do you care more about an outsider than you do about your own family? He could be a dangerous lunatic, like the marshals said. I have half a mind to call them right now, and find out if they’re looking for anyone named Jim Garrison.”

“For all I know, the marshals are looking for him,” Joseph said. “That is not the point. All I know is, Jim Garrison is not dangerous. He is not crazy.”

“How do you know?”

“Quentin told me.”

“Quentin?” Ruth Yellowhawk was incredulous. “Quentin told you? Now you’re blaming this nonsense on your grandson?”

“It’s the circle,” the old man insisted. “The circle of events. Quentin reminded me of all the things I have told him. About how everything is not always as it first appears.”

“You’re talking foolishness, old man.”

“No! It’s not foolishness! Listen to me. Quentin lost the chickens but he found the man. The man lost his wallet but, when Quentin returned it to him, he found his memory. This man has lost his family. Now, he must find them and, when he does...” Joseph Yellowhawk paused.

“When he does, what then?” his daughter-in-law said.

“Not for me to say,” the old man replied. “Events must unfold as they must. I only know what I have to do.”

With that, Joseph turned and went back inside the cottage. Garrison and the boy were sitting together at the kitchen table, looking at a map.

“Jim Garrison,” Joseph said. Garrison looked up. “I have something to attend to in town. I know you must leave soon. Please don’t go until I return.”

Garrison nodded. “OK, Joseph,” he replied. “Whatever you say.”

Potrero Hill, San Francisco, CA – 6:30 PM PST

The telephone in Fredericks’ den rang. The inspector picked it up.

“Hal Frederick,” he said.

“It’s Ed Wong over at UC Berkeley, Hal.”

“Hey, Ed. What do you have for me?”

“The Chinese characters on the consulate letterhead are names.”

“I thought they might be,” said Frederick. “Anything else there?”

“Yeah,” Wong said. “Job titles. Chief consulate, deputy chief consulate. Stuff like that. I’ll fax over my translation and you can take a look.”

“Excellent,” Frederick said. “Thanks.”

“If you have any questions, just give me a holler. I got another call. I’m gonna push the ‘start’ button and go. Bye, Hal.”

There was an electronic hissing followed by what Frederick always thought of as the sound of a constipated robot, then Wong’s fax started coming through.

“What do we have?” Wingate asked.

“Ed says it’s names and job titles,” Frederick replied, pulling the fax out of the tray. There were six lines of type. He held it up.

  1. Leung Ku Li – Chief Consulate

  2. Chin Do Kin – Deputy Chief Consulate

  3. Lee Ho Binh – Educational Liaison

  4. Jo En Ke – Military Attaché

  5. Fiu Tse Liu – Cultural Attaché

  6. Wan Lee Taw –Industrial Liaison

“Well,” Wingate said, “there’s another good theory, shot to pieces.”

“You think so?” Frederick asked.

“I sure as hell don’t see anything, do you?”

“Suppose I give you a pop quiz?” said Frederick.

“Do you have to?”

“I’m going to say the name of a famous Chinese leader.”

Wingate sighed. “OK.”

“Mao Tse Tung.”

“OK,” Wingate said. “Mao Tse Tung. So what?”

“So what was the man’s last name?” Frederick asked. “Tung or Tse Tung?”

“I don’t know,” Wingate said. “Tung, I guess.”

“Neither. His last name was Mao. In Chinese, the last name goes first, then the given name, then the chosen name.”

“What’s the chosen name?”

“A nickname,” said Frederick. “Everyone gets to pick their own. That’s why it’s called a chosen name.”

“OK,” Wingate said. “So what?”

“So,” said Frederick, “now that you know all there is to know about Chinese names, do you want to take another look at Wong’s list?” Wingate ran his finger down the page.

A moment later he looked up, his finger poised over item #5: Fiu Tse Liu – Cultural Attaché. “Fiu,” he said. “That’s pronounced ‘Foo,’ isn’t it?”

“Yep,” Frederick replied.

“And ‘Liu?’ Is that the same as ‘Lew?”


“And the first name goes last?”

“You got it,” said Frederick. “Six to four ‘Fiu Tse Liu, cultural attaché’ is Lew Foo... Lewis Foo.”

Wingate hesitated. “I don’t know,” he said. “Foo ain’t exactly ‘Smith, but it ain’t exactly ‘Eisenhower,’ either. There are a lot of Foos. How do we know Lewis Foo and Fiu Tse Liu are the same person?”

“Fair question,” said Frederick, glancing out the window, “Let’s wait till it gets good and dark, then we’ll go ask the tooth fairy out there.”

Hualapai Nation Tribal Hall, Peach Springs, AZ -- 7:30 MST

The Hualapai people, the People of the Tall Pines, are few. Less than 1600 now live within a day’s journey of Wikahme, Spirit Mountain, where the world began.

Joseph Yellowhawk knew all of the Hualapai, if not by their own names, then by their family names. He also knew all twelve members of the tribal council. He had once been a member himself.

On this evening, at so late an hour, all twelve council members could not be found. Joseph could only contact nine of them. Nine was enough.

In the days of Joseph’s grandfather, many council members had arrived at meetings on horseback. In the gathering place they had sat on blankets. The nine men and women in the Tribal Hall this evening had driven there in SUVs and pickup trucks. They sat on sofas and folding chairs. Still, the spirit of the Pai was in the room. The essence of the original people, the ones who had come here nearly fifteen centuries before, was here. How it had arrived or what it sat upon was of no consequence.

Joseph rose from his chair and walked to the front of the Tribal Hall.

“There is a man who needs our help,” he said. “My grandson, Quentin found the man. If you want to know his name, I will tell you.” One of the council members stood.

“What kind of help does this man need, Joseph?”

“Money,” Joseph replied. “Five thousand dollars.”

“For what reason?”

“He needs it to find his family. I ask the council to loan the money on my word.”

The council members looked around the room at one another. One of them spoke.

“If you will withdraw, the council will consider what you have said.”

Potrero Hill, San Francisco, CA -- 7:45 PST

Because it is only seven miles square, San Francisco is a city in which Easy Street often runs perilously close to the poor side of town. At 7:30 PM, Wingate’s black Beamer backed out the drive. Within minutes, it had left the vicinity of Frederick’s middle class neighborhood and entered Potrero Projects, one of the most violent neighborhoods on the West Coast. The two men in the BMW had already attracted some hostile stares from passers-by, but Frederick and Wingate were more interested in who was following them.

Wingate looked into the rear view mirror. “Is that him?” he said.

The Town Car had a pair of amber fog lights that were hard to miss.

Frederick glanced back. “Yeah. About a half a block back.”

“Tell me when.”

“It’s the next block,” Frederick replied. “When you get to the corner, cut your lights and turn right. Then make a fast, hard left into the alley, go two car lengths and stop.”

“OK. Lights, right, left, stop.”

“That’s it,” said Frederick. “Take your foot off the brake when you stop. He might see the tail lights. And when you go, go. Put your foot down and drive like you mean it.”

“Right,” Wingate said.

They approached the intersection. Wingate stopped behind the sign.

“OK, Paul,” Frederick turned his head to look out the back window. “Slow down at the sign but don’t stop...wait for it...wait...wait...Now! Go! Go! Go!”

Wingate switched off his lights and jammed down the accelerator. The Beamer squealed around the corner toward the entrance to a narrow backstreet.

“This is it, Paul!” Frederick shouted. “Turn here! Turn! Turn!” Wingate rounded the corner wide, taking down trash receptacle. Garbage spilled all over the street.

“Shit!” Wingate said, stopping quickly and taking his foot off the brake. “Did he see the trash can? Is he going by?”

“Shhh!” Frederick waved for silence. Out the back window, he could just make out the amber fog lights as they passed the mouth of the alley. “He bought it,” Frederick said. “Back up! Back up.”

Wingate’s car screeched out onto the street, stopping just inches before ramming into the side of a parked VW. The Town Car, stopped a few feet away, was facing a brick wall. It had been lured into a blind alley and trapped.

Frederick leapt out the passenger door, taking the safety off his 9 millimeter SIG on the way. The Town Car’s big engine was revving. Its back up lights flashed on. Frederick smelled rubber. He jumped aside, took aim at a back wheel and pulled the trigger. The tire exploded and the rim began to spin. The wheel lost traction, but not enough to stop the Lincoln from banging loudly into the side of Wingate’s Beamer.

“You son-of-a-bitch!” Wingate shouted. He was on the street in a heartbeat, screaming like a washer woman and diving for the Town Car’s door handle. It was locked. An instant later, the mild mannered CSI put a brick through the driver’s side window. A second after that, the gold-toothed driver was flat on his back and Wingate was sitting on his chest, a fist full of shirt collar in either hand.

“All right, cocksucker,” he bellowed. “Right fucking now: Fiu Tse Liu, is he the same guy as Lewis Foo? Answer me! Yes or no!”

“I have diplomatic immunity,” Gold Tooth began. “You are violating...”

Wingate posed his question again, punctuating each word by bouncing the man’s head off the pavement.

“YES...OR...NO?” he shouted.

A shabby curtain drew away from a nearby window. Wingate looked up and the curtain fell back into place. Gold Tooth was silent but sweating.

“I’m going to count to three,” Wingate growled. “If I don’t get an answer, my friend here is going to blow your fucking head off. One.”

Frederick’s weapon still stank of cordite. He pressed the muzzle against the downed man’s nose.

“You can’t do this,” Gold Tooth protested.

“Watch me,” Wingate said. “Two...”

“Someone will hear the shot.” He was putting on a brave front, but he was scared. Wingate brought his face within an inch of his eyes.

“Look around you, asshole,” he said. “If you think a gunshot is going to raise any eyebrows in this neighborhood, you better think again. Two and a half...”

Frederick pulled back the hammer. It ratcheted into place like a knuckle crack. Wingate took a breath and put his tongue behind his front teeth.


“Yes!” Gold Tooth said, throwing his arms up over his face. “Yes! Yes!”

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, they are the same. Lewis Foo and Fiu Tse Liu. They are the same.”

Wingate was not finished. He grabbed the man’s right thumb and bent it backward. Gold Tooth cried out. His arm came away from his face, his eyes full of fear and pain.

“All right,” Wingate said. “That’s a good start. Keep going. What’s he doing with the Garrisons?”

The man bit his lip. Wingate twisted harder. “Talk, damn it.”

“I don’t know.”

“I think you do,” he said, bearing down even more. Gold Tooth was in agony. The tendons in his neck stood out like bungee cords.

“No,” he said. “It’s the truth. I swear it. I was being paid to find that out. I thought you might know. That’s why I followed you.”

“You’re being paid?” Frederick said. “By whom?”

“I don’t know.”

“Bullshit,” Wingate barked, again twisting harder.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s a drop. I get the money from a PO box.”

Then, split lip, gold tooth and all, the man began to sob.

“I think he’s telling the truth, Paul,” Frederick said. Wingate thought it over.

“Yeah,” he said at length. “I guess he is.” He released the man’s thumb, got to his feet and dusted off.

“Jesus, Paul,” Frederick said quietly. “What the hell got into you? The son-of-a-bitch is crying like a little girl.”

“God damn right he is,” said Wingate, brushing the knees of his trouser legs. “Motherfucker hit my car.”

Faber-Brady Trust Building, Hilo, HI – 6:30 PM Hawaii Time

It had been a good day, a banner day. After seventy-two nerve-wracking hours, it appeared as though the fates were smiling again. Detectives at Kidwell & Perk were on to something. On their behalf, Kane had made a number of calls to friends in state government. They had promised to grease the wheels of the detectives’ inquiries; to help them get around any pesky confidentiality laws that might otherwise interfere with their work. By tonight, or at the latest, tomorrow morning, things should begin to come right. Kane heaved a great sigh. There was no need to spend another grueling night in the office, thank god. He could go home and rest.

His assistant, Trask, knocked briskly before entering. “One thing more before you leave, sir,” he said. “I’ve just spoken with the contractors installing the memorial fountain.”

I really must be in good spirits, Kane thought. Even that blasted fountain fails to annoy me. “And?” he said aloud.

“They want to know if you’d like to turn on the waterfall yourself, or if you’d prefer to give them a signal.”

“I don’t know, Trask,” said Kane. “Which is cheapest?”

“There’s no difference, sir.”

“In that case, I’ll do it,” Kane replied. “What’s that saying about getting a job done?”

“Yes, sir,” said Trask. “Absolutely. You should do it yourself.”

The executive director smiled, drew his walking stick from its place at the door, turned and left.

As the elevator doors slid open near his underground parking space, Kane heard loud voices from inside the garage. No one except executive officers and upper management should have been on that level of the building, especially at that hour. Moreover, the voices he was hearing sounded coarse; working class. Kane headed for their source, bent on making enquiries.

In a corner of the parking garage he came upon a small group of men. One of them was leaning on some kind of pneumatic tool, of the kind used to dig up roads.

“What’s the meaning of this?” he said. “What are you people doing?”

A man in a white suit and a hard hat looked around. It was Devlin.

“Oh, hello Mr. Kane,” he said.

“Devlin. What’s going on here?”

“The inspection, sir. The sooner we get started, the sooner we’ll be done.”

“Yes, of course,” Kane said. “But what’s the jack hammer for?”

“It’s a drill, sir,” Devlin replied. “We just have to make a few holes, that’s all, to check the strength and flexibility of the steel. Don’t worry, though,” he continued, gesturing toward a cement mixer. “We’ll patch the holes. No one will even know we’ve been here.”

“I see,” Kane said, nodding. “I must say, I’m impressed with your efficiency, Devlin. You’re quick to get at it, aren’t you?”

“You know what they say, sir: ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.’”

“Yes, quite,” said Kane. “How long do you reckon all this is going to take?”

“Your building will be finished by Wednesday, Mr. Kane,” Devlin replied, winking. “We wouldn’t want hold up any necessary retrofitting, would we?”

The executive director chuckled and turned to walk away. He decided he’d been entirely wrong about this Devlin fellow. At first, he’d found him odious. Now he quite liked him. In a way, Kane thought, he rather reminds me of myself as a young man.

FBI Field Office, Honolulu, HI – 7:10 PM Hawaii Time

What the fuck was going on, Schmidt wondered. He’d only been off island for two days and already, an operation he’d been running for years, some of the best field work he’d ever done, was coming unraveled.

Ordinarily, he didn’t make direct contact with in-place operatives. It spooked them and besides, it was risky. Telephone records, after all, were a simple trace and far too attainable.

Iggy Arnold, however, was not easily rattled. He also hid himself behind a cloud of cloned cell phone numbers, a convenience which not only made security a non-issue, it virtually assured Iggy’s easy accessibility.

It surprised Schmidt, therefore, that he’d been unable reach Iggy the night before. It surprised him further when, upon trying Iggy’s number earlier, a woman’s voice came on the line.

No, she’d said, Iggy was not available. He wouldn’t be available ever again. He’d been murdered. The police said it was the work of a serial killer. Why did they say that? Because, the woman said, within two days and five miles of each other, three other people with backgrounds similar to Iggy’s had been murdered in exactly the same way.

Stunned, Schmidt hung up the phone and made three more calls. They were all brief and to the point and all yielded the same information. The party you are trying to reach is not here. The party you are trying to reach is not available. The party you are trying to reach is dead.

It wasn’t hard to find background information on the killings. Serial murders are strong stuff, the kind of thing that drives up ratings and sells papers. It was all over the news. Ten minutes after first learning of Iggy’s death, Agent Schmidt had the whole story.

On the one hand, he was troubled. That all of his ace distributors had been wasted within 48 hours by the same person or persons unknown could mean only one thing: someone was on to his operation. On the other hand, the operation itself was coming to a close. Perhaps this unknown entity had done him a favor. Had those four sleaze balls not already been murdered, he might have had to do the job himself.

Still, Schmidt was a thorough man. He didn’t like comebacks. Some sanitizing was definitely in order. First thing tomorrow, he’d do a little island hopping.

Home of Moses and Alana Pukuli, Pahoa Town, HI -- 7:00 PM Hawaii Time

At 2:00 o’clock that afternoon, Moses Pukuli received a call from his assistant, Janet Suzuki. “It’s about your speaking engagement at Pahoa High this morning, sir,” she said.

Moses winced. “Yes?”

“The remarks you made about Hawaiian sovereignty were recorded.”

“Oh, god. And?”

“They’ve been edited, and they’re being broadcast on radio,” said his assistant. “They’re not very flattering, sir.”

Pukuli’s stomach fluttered. For the congressman, nausea often preceded a headache. “Shit!” he said. “I mean...drat. Excuse me Janet.”

“No problem, sir,” she said. “I don’t blame you, but I haven’t told you the worst of it.

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“Well, sir, that teacher? Kailikane Kapono?”

“What about her?”

“Evidently, she’s not the simple school marm she pretends to be.”


“No, sir. I checked up on her. She’s a real sleeper.”

“How do you mean?”

“Remember the attempted takeover of Iolani Palace last summer?”

“How could I forget it?” he said.

Honolulu’s Iolani Palace, now an historical monument, had been the home of the islands’ last ruling monarch. A potent symbol to members of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, it had been the target of an attempted sit-in on Kamehameha Day in 1992.

“Remember the protest leaders who were arrested?”


“Guess who bailed out them out.”

Moses was beginning to feel dizzy. “Don’t tell me.”

“Yes, sir, Kailikane Kapono. Not only that, she appears to have been involved in any number of other civil disruptions, one way or another.”

“So what are you saying?” asked the congressman. “What’s your take on her?”

“She’s a separatist, sir, with ties to practically every fringe group in the state.”

“You mean I was a set up?”

“It appears that way, sir.”

He’d been sandbagged by a schoolteacher. Not very complimentary, especially for an experienced pol like Moses.

“There’s something else, sir,” his assistant said. “It’s about the research I’ve been doing on Native Hawaiian males 13 to 30. I had a meeting today with...”

Suzuki’s voice began to disappear beneath waves of noise inside Pukuli’s head. He pinched the bridge of his nose and leaned on the desk for support. This was it; a migraine.

“Can this wait until tomorrow?” he asked.

“Well, sir, I...”

A series of curving lines began clouding Pukuli’s vision. Feeling faint, he sat down hard. Once an attack began, he was helpless within seconds. “I have to go, Janet,” he said, and hung up.

* * *

That evening, at the desk in his study, Moses Pukuli heaved a deep sigh. Tense and tired, he rubbed his eyes, then pushed against his jaw until his neck cracked. The hall door opened. It was Alana.

“I wish you’d stop that,” she said, crossing to him. “It’s not good for you. Here.” She stepped behind the chair and squeezed his shoulders. They were like rocks.

“What’s troubling you, sweetie? Is it the publicity around those killings?”

“It’s certainly not helping.”

“Talk to me.”

“I don’t know, babe,” Pukuli said. “For twenty years, we’ve worked our butts off...the company...politics...public service. And what do we get? Mockery and scorn. People think we’re fat cats living off the workers’ sweat. God damn it, some of that sweat is ours.”

“I know,” Alana said. “It doesn’t seem fair.”

“And everything new just fans the flames. If I could only put these killings behind and concentrate on...”

“On your run for Congress?”

Moses looked over his shoulder. “That was supposed to be a secret. How’d you know?”

“Sweetheart, after all this time, there’s not much I don’t know.”

“If only you knew who did those murders,” he said. Moses turned in his chair and pulled his wife toward him, resting his head against her stomach while she stroked his hair.

“That’d take a lot of pressure off, would it?”

“I’ll say.” He sighed again. “I wish Hal was getting here sooner.”

“I thought you might feel that way,” said Alana. “That’s why I changed their reservations. He and Hannah are arriving tomorrow morning at 9:30.”

Shanga Hall, Hilo Buddhist Temple, Hilo, HI – 8:30 PM Hawaii Time

Michael Crockett, LLD, doctor of international law, Oxford University, England, stood before five hundred people in the auditorium of Hilo Buddhist Temple. His appearance tonight had been widely publicized. Dr. Crockett was an expert on matters of global diplomacy with a message of particular interest, so the ads said, to Native Hawaiians.

There was even a television crew covering the occasion for public access news.

The hall itself was full to overflowing. Outside in the entryway, something over a hundred additional people were listening over a small PA system. Both crowds were spellbound. Crockett had them in thrall. He could feel it.

He was also feeling a bit dizzy, though not unpleasantly so, and he’d begun noticing something strange about the way a candle was flickering at the back of the room. Such sensations had dogged him for the last hour, beginning shortly after he’d eaten some mushroom canapés at the reception preceding his talk. So far, however, his speaking abilities had not been affected.

The title of his presentation was “The Legacy of Lili'uokalani.”

Queen Lili'uokalani’s tragic tale was well known to Native Hawaiians. From birth, their mothers had told them of the queen’s unhappy marriage to a white man, of her overthrow by the grandchildren of American missionaries and of her betrayal at the hands of the US Congress. Many of them had been rocked to sleep listening to melodies composed by their musician-monarch. She had been a saint, many of them thought, and much maligned.

Dr. Crockett told Lili'uokalani’s doleful story beautifully yet, even though Hawaiians love to hear their folklore recounted, that was not the reason these people had come tonight. It was not what they knew Dr. Crockett was going to say that had attracted them, it was something they thought he might say.

The lawyer glanced again at the candle in the rear of the hall. The flame had begun oscillating and changing colors. He blinked and took a breath before continuing.

He had just reached the point in his narrative at which American troops were being illegally summoned by the US minister to confront the queen and the royal court.

“From Honolulu Harbor,” he said, “four boatloads of Marines came ashore. They were armed with Gatling guns. They carried thousands of rounds of ammunition. They carried cannon. They came prepared to make war on a defenseless people.”

At that moment, Crockett had a strange and wonderful experience. While his brain and upper body skyrocketed into the stratosphere, everything from his stomach to his toes plummeted toward the center of the earth. All at once, he knew everything, he understood everything. Moreover, there and then, and right before his eyes, time warped.

A phalanx of 19th century American soldiers in full battle dress, came marching eight abreast, straight toward him. He heard their footfalls. He smelled the dust swirling up from the street. He felt the breeze on his face and saw the people of Honolulu craning their necks for a better view.

Then, as suddenly as he had left it, Crockett returned to the present. The soldiers, the dust, the people and the street disappeared. But for the candle, which still pulsated, the room itself returned to normal. As for the audience, they remained seated and silent, waiting for his next word as though nothing had happened, as indeed, nothing really had.

Crockett shivered and looked down at his notes, taking a moment to compose himself and his thoughts. What should he do? What could he do? He wasn’t ill. He wasn’t especially confused or disoriented. There was only one thing to do. He cleared his throat and carried on.

“As the queen watched from Iolani Palace,” he began again, “six platoons of armed combatants marched through the streets of Honolulu.”

At that, Crockett’s visions returned once more. The soldiers, the streets, the people, the palace, even the queen materialized before him. This time, however, the illusion appeared to float overhead, somewhere in the middle distance, hovering between himself and his audience. He felt himself to be in two places at once, both watching the past and addressing the present. He was suddenly exhilarated.

I am chronicling history, he thought. I am an oracle.

He continued his tale. As he pronounced the words, his visions acted them out.

“At the palace, they lowered their flags, saluted the Queen and rolled their drums,” he said. “The message was clear. Lili'uokalani was being deposed, not by her own people, but by an overwhelming show of force from a powerful nation she had thought her friend.”

He paused. The mirage, now immobile and, of course, invisible to everyone but the speaker, hung over the crowd. Crockett stared at it and began to pronounce judgment.

“This was a shameful act,” he said.

“Olelo, brah!” someone called out. “Speak, brother.”

“It was an act of international freebooting, unparalleled in American history.”

“Amen, kumu,” said another. “Right on, teacher.”

A chill passed through Crockett’s body. The hair on his arms stood and his skin tingled. This was how he imagined a crowd of Hawaiians might respond. The reality was thrilling.

Making an effort to keep his voice under control, he continued.

“I would like to read you a passage written by President Grover Cleveland,” he said. “This is something which many of you already know. It is from a memorandum delivered to the US Congress on December 18, 1893, only months after the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown. It was of great significance to the Hawaiian people then. It is of even greater significance today. President Cleveland said, and I quote:

By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the Government of Hawaii, a feeble but friendly and confiding people, has been overthrown. A substantial wrong has thus been done which we should...” I would say, must... “endeavor to repair.’”

The audience murmured restively. True, many of them had read President Cleveland’s words while at school, but few of them had ever heard them expressed with so much feeling.

“I put it to you today,” Crockett went on, “that President Cleveland’s message to Congress was neither an appeal to the national conscience nor a plea for political moderation. As a doctor of international law, I propose to you and to the rest of the world that it was a statement of policy on the part of the US government vis-à-vis the Hawaiian monarchy.”

Dr. Crockett broke off ever so briefly to assess his own feelings. Had he put it too forcefully? Was he still on solid ground? He thought so, if only barely. He might better have stopped there, but the flickering candlelight urged him on.

“I put it to you,” he said, “that the President’s statement of policy constituted a declaration of intent, a promise to the people of this land. I put it to you that the subsequent annexation of Hawaii by the United States was, therefore, an illegal act.”

Crockett’s voice had begun to rise with more and more feeling.

“Tell it, Bruddah,” someone shouted.

“I put it to you, finally,” Crockett said with fervor, “that today, right now, at this very moment, Hawaii is, and always has been...a free...and independent...nation!”

By the end of his final denunciation, Dr. Crockett’s voice had reached a fever pitch. He was shouting. The crowd was stunned, not just by what he had said, but by the force with which he’d said it. For a few seconds, they remained still. Crockett looked out over them, his chest heaving.

At the back of the hall, near the candle flame, a lone audience member began to applaud, then another, then three more. From the other side of the room an old woman with tears on her face called out.

“Aloha aina Hawaii!” she said. “Blessings on our land.” At that, the crowd exploded. They stood and cheered. They threw things in the air. They hugged one another.

In the midst of the uproar, a beautiful Hawaiian woman in traditional dress, bearing a lei of tropical flowers, approached Crockett, who leaned in and down as she began to drape the garland over his shoulders. At that moment, two shots rang out.

The crowd watched in horror as Dr. Michael Crockett, LLD, Oxford University, England, bleeding from the head and throat, fell dead into the woman’s arms.

TV news cameras captured every moment.

Near Peach Springs, AZ – 11:00 PM Mountain Time

Jim Garrison lay across three sofa cushions placed end-to-end on the floor. But for his coat and shoes, he was fully dressed. Joseph Yellowhawk sat on a wooden chair beside him, waiting. A few moments later, Garrison opened his eyes and looked up.

“Joseph?” he said.


“Why are you sitting in the dark?”

“Waiting for you.”

Garrison sat up rubbing his eyes. “What’s going on?”

Joseph held out an envelope for Garrison, who took it and looked inside. It contained sixty-five $50 bills.

“Oh, my god,” Garrison said. “What’s...I mean, how...?”

“I tried to get more,” Joseph said, “but that’s all the cash there was.”

“I don’t...”

“Get up, now. Tomorrow morning I must help my daughter-in-law with the goats. Tonight I will drive you to the airport.”

Garrison took a breath, intending to express his thanks. The old man stood and went in the kitchen, where he began boiling water for tea.

There was much Garrison wanted to say. Now, however, was clearly not the time.

As he rose from his bed, a band of light appeared beneath Ruth Yellowhawk’s bedroom door. A moment later, the woman herself came into the room.

“You’re leaving?” she said. Garrison turned.

“Joseph is taking me to the airport.”

Ruth nodded but said nothing, although it was clear that something was on her mind.

“Before you go,” she said at last, “I want to tell you that I’m sorry for being so suspicious. For not welcoming you into our home.”

“That’s all right,” said Garrison. “I’m just grateful you didn’t call the US Marshals.”

“The Marshals?” Ruth was shocked. “Oh, no. Did you hear what I said before?”

Garrison nodded. “And I agreed with you,” he said. The woman blushed deeply. Garrison could see she was ashamed. “No, I mean it,” he said. “You just wanted to protect your family.”

“Of course I did,” Ruth said, “but how much should I protect them...and from what?”

“As much as you can from whatever you can,” Garrison said.

“And how do I protect my family from my own fear?” said Ruth. “Because I was afraid, I was prepared to sacrifice your safety and that of your family. Who does that help?”

“But you didn’t know,” Garrison said. “After all, it’s a big world, full of selfish people.”

“Yes,” said Ruth, “and that’s exactly how I was though no one mattered but me. I’m ashamed of myself. My father-in-law was right. Only Quentin’s instincts were reliable.”


“All he saw was someone who needed help,” Ruth said. “That was the real truth, regardless of who you were. That’s the kind of people I want in my world, and if I can’t act in that way, how can I expect it of anyone else?”

Garrison stopped. Then he smiled. “Anyway,” he said. “Thanks for not calling the Marshals.”

Ruth smiled back. “That’s OK,” she said. “Thanks for not making me wish I had.”

Potrero Hill, San Francisco, CA -- 10:15 PST

Frederick took a card from his wallet and scribbled a number across the back. “Here’s my number in Hawaii,” he said to Wingate. “If you get any more urges to beat up on foreign diplomats, call me, OK?”

“I will,” said Wingate.

“And stay on top of things. Let me know if either Garrison or Foo turn up. I left my voicemail turned on. Check it. Anything important, you know where I am.” Frederick squeezed his eyes shut, trying to think. “I guess that’s all. You got anything?”

“Just bon voyage, old buddy.”

Inspector Frederick waved a hand, slid out of Wingate’s beamer and walked up the steps to his flat. From the living room, Hannah heard the front door open and close.

“Hal?” she called out. “Is that you?”

“No, sweetheart,” Frederick said. “I was having too much fun to come home. I sent my stunt double.”

“Oh,” Hannah replied, still talking from a room away. “Is this person the same size as you?”

“Of course he is. That’s why he’s called my stunt double.”

“Good,” said Hannah. “In that case, tell him to get busy and pack some of your clothes. I’m taking him to Hawaii tomorrow.”

“That’s funny, babe. Very Funny.”

“I found something for you to read on the plane,” Hannah said.

“Something to read?”

“Yeah. It’s right there on the sideboard in the hallway.”

Frederick looked down. A slender paperback with two Hawaiian dancers on the cover lay next to the mail tray.

A Brief History of Hawaii?” said Frederick.

“Yeah,” Hannah said. “It’s very good, actually. I forgot I had it. There’s a section devoted to the Faber-Brady Trust. I thought it might be useful.”

“Yeah. Hey, thanks, babe,” he said, flipping through the pages.

Frederick slipped the book under his arm, made his way to the kitchen, and checked out the refrigerator, finally coming away with a carton of buttermilk and a chunk of cornbread.

Hannah appeared at the door, barefoot and wearing a terrycloth bathrobe. Small beads of water clung to the dark curls tumbling over her shoulders. “Having some Arkansas cornflakes?” she said.

“Nothing like it,” Frederick answered, crumbling his cornbread into a coffee mug and covering it with buttermilk. “M-m-m,” he said. “Food of the gods.”

His wife wrinkled her nose and shuddered. “I can’t really criticize, I guess,” she said. “My favorite snack is Spam sushi.”

“You and every other Hawaiian on earth,” Frederick said.

“Although Moses and Alana are doing their best to convince people to swap out the Spam for the stuff they make, LuauKalua.”

“Do you think they’ll succeed?”

“I don’t see why not,” said Hannah. “Their stuff is similar to Spam. It’s the seasoning that’s different. Spam is made to taste like baked ham, LuauKalua tastes like kalua pig.”

“The kind they serve at a luaus?”

“That’s it,” Hannah replied. “By the way, we’re going to a luau tomorrow night.”

“No way,” Frederick said. “We’re not leaving until one in the afternoon. We won’t get into Hilo until 5:00 PM. We’ll be exhausted.”

“Wrong, love of my life,” said Hannah. “Our flight has been changed. We leave at 5:30 tomorrow morning. We’ll be in Pahoa by 11:00 AM Hawaii time.”

“What? When did all this happen?”

“About an hour ago,” said Hannah. “Alana called. Seems Moses had an ulterior motive in buying our way over there. She says he needs you there yesterday.”

Rosedale, CA – 10:30 PM PST

At age 59, it had been a long while since Lewis Foo had tested his burglary skills. Fortunately for him, tonight he caught some lucky breaks.

First, the moon would not rise for several hours. In a remote location like Rosedale, that meant that darkness was going to be very dark. Second, security in Sally Hank’s home consisted of motion sensors only. So long as its occupants were inside, the system could not be activated.

In short, environmental conditions were perfect and Sally’s house was a cracker box.

Still, it never paid to take chances. Foo was dressed in black. A black ski mask covered his face, black crepe sole shoes muffled his footsteps. A black utility belt around his waist held chemical mace, a black handled screwdriver, black matte duct tape and a set of lock picks.

The lock picks were a back up. The rear door appeared to be secured with a cheap privacy lock which he could shim with the celluloid strip in his back pocket.

Since 8:10 pm, Foo had been watching Sally’s home from behind a clump of bushes. A little less than an hour later, the downstairs lights had gone out. Forty-five minutes after that, at around 9:50, the upstairs lights did likewise.

It was now 10:30. Time to go.

Crouching, he crept from the bushes to the back door. Its lock was as cheesy as he’d hoped. He slid his celluloid strip through the doorjamb, manipulated the spring-bolt into an unlocked position and pushed. With a soft click, the door swung open. Foo stepped inside.

By a process of elimination, while watching the lights, Foo had determined that a corner room on the second floor was where Noah slept. From the rear of the house, he stole through the kitchen to a central stairway and made his way upward. Turning left at the top of the stairs, he made his way down a hallway to the room and let himself in.

He’d guessed correctly. Noah Garrison, wearing Spiderman pajamas, lay asleep in the glow of a nightlight. Foo pulled off his mask and looked at him. He’d seen him only a few days before, still the boy seemed to have grown.

Noah turned over, whimpering softly and Foo hurried to the bedside, ready to cover the child’s mouth with his hand. Noah’s eyes opened. “Lewis?” he said. “Is that you?”

“Shhh. You’ll wake everyone.”

The boy reached out and clasped his hands behind Foo’s neck. Foo straightened and the boy clung tighter.

His voice, small and sleepy, grew muffled as he buried his face in Foo’s neck. “I missed you,” he said.

Lewis Foo’s orders regarding Noah Garrison were explicit. He knew what must be done he was prepared to do it. The timing of the thing, however, was discretionary. He could accomplish it when and wherever he deemed most appropriate. For a moment, Foo considered his options. Should he do it now or later?

Later is better, he thought to himself. Yes, later.

Ray   Staar

Ray Staar

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