‘No time for pleasantries, Mr. Reeves, say goodbye.’
I flung myself to one side, but a red-hot poker sliced my shoulder and sent me spinning to the floor. Lo aimed again.
It was all over.
I was going to die.
A flash — I could smell cordite. I heard a scream, and a body fell beside me. Wet, sticky blood sprayed over me. A gurgling sound, then silence. I wiped my face, stared at the body. Mr. Lo was glaring at me out of one eye — just like the Swamp Donkey — as if I were to blame.
His other eye was just a bloody hole.
A leather boot nudged my leg. I looked up. Wang was smiling his smile that wasn’t.
‘Fate,’ he said.
Kona International Airport
‘My assignment is finished,’ Wang said.
He dumped my cell and billfold on my lap and slipped what looked like a mini-cassette into the top pocket of my smelly coveralls, which covered my bandaged shoulder. A nick, not enough to cramp my surfing lifestyle.
‘You were caught up in gang warfare,’ he explained. ‘That’s all you need to know. The tape is your fate, Mr. Reeves. Freedom.’
Then he was gone.
Three people were in the back seat of the Land Cruiser — Smokin’ Joe and Janet, with Dia between them. Handcuffed together — mine were clipped to the steering wheel. Dia, unharmed, Janet with a sore head where Fat had KO’d her, and the big fella with a sore chest looking slightly embarrassed that the improvised ballistic vest didn’t work as well as he had expected.
‘What now?’ Janet asked.
‘We wait,’ I said. Thirty minutes parked outside Terminal Two would be noticed. I pointed to a police patrol car that came cruising towards us. ‘Time to face the music,’ I replied, ‘and that’s before they open the trunk.’
I groaned when Detective Mauve Hennessey stepped out and moved up to my window.
‘We had a 911 call,’ she said. ‘I’ve missed having you around, Mr. Reeves.’
And I think it made her day when a patrolman popped the trunk and discovered the dead bodies of Lo and Fat inside. She sighed, pushed a lock of hair from her face.
‘Don’t tell me. You weren’t thinking straight right then?’
I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.
My interrogation lasted four days — almost constant round-the-clock interviews by different detectives, all trying to make me slip up.
Hennessey, first. ‘Take me back to the hospital, where you assaulted a police officer and went on the run.’
‘I didn’t assault anyone. I didn’t go on the run. I’m a lawful citizen.’
‘You were under arrest.’
‘I wasn’t charged.’
Hennessey made a note. ‘How about when you evaded arrest at the Steak House.’
‘Is that so? I didn’t see any cops. I’m a lawful citizen.’
‘Your rapid exit through a fire door could be construed as a guilty action.’
‘I had an urgent meeting with my girlfriend.’
Hennessey looked up. ‘Who?’
I kept a straight face. ‘Janet. Janet Taylor. The same Janet that you‘ve been sniffing around.’
Hennessey glared at me, stood up, and walked out. I punched the air. Round one to me, but round two brought a couple of male detectives playing the good cop, bad cop routine.
I’d seen plenty of movies, and I’d had enough practice in Sandy’s bar beating off gays who were coming on to me. We batted words around for a while until they thought they had me figured out.
Bad Cop. ‘We know you did it. Killed Ms Swain. Your fingerprints were on the gun.’
‘I was set up. You know that.’
Snarl. ‘You’re lying.’
‘Lo confessed. It’s on the tape.’
‘What tape?’ Bad Cop waved his hands at Good Cop. ‘Did you see any tape?’ Good Cop looked up at the ceiling at a fly buzzing against the fluorescent tube.
I poured a glass of water. ‘This is a stunt, right?’
Bad Cop snatched the water from my hand. ‘You drink when I say you can drink.’
Good Cop gently removed the glass and gave it back. ‘We can cut this short and get some sleep. All you have to do is admit you weren’t thinking straight when Paula Swain was killed.’
‘I didn’t kill Paula Swain. Period. Get it?’
Good Cop sighed. A short conversation and they ended that interview.
Round two to me.
Captain Marvel — I called him that — was their last attempt to snare me. We went through every word of my statement, and then some.
‘Who recorded the tape?’
I shrugged. ‘I don’t know. One of Lo’s men? An undercover agent? Hell, he could be anybody.’
‘Why did he help you?’
‘I don’t know. He said it was fate.’
Captain Marvel’s eyes swiveled. He looked up at the ceiling, just like Good Cop, and rubbed a hand across his day-old stubble. ‘Mr. Reeves … no, don’t bother. Gang warfare, you said?’
‘Maybe it’s that simple,’ he said.
In the end, the clincher that got me “out of jail” was the tape and Smokin’ Joe’s identical testimony. Wang’s surveillance equipment must have been state of the art. Crystal clear throughout my session with Lo, and what followed afterwards. Lo’s confession to Paula Swain’s murder got me off that hook, and I learned that Janet had enough evidence of Lo’s human trafficking enterprise to bust that chain. Dia was repatriated back to her family.
I had no idea how the police managed to work through Lo’s death or Fat’s. Could be Smokin’ Joe’s statement helped square that one.
But Detective Hennessey hadn’t finished with me.