With the Bofors rounds safely tucked into the padded back seat of the Corvair, Jimmy drove the machine down Kalakaua toward the zoo, this time his driving so slow and careful Darren couldn’t believe it. Jimmy’s moving of the rounds from the front trunk to the back seat had been like watching a slow-motion ballet to Darren. The Duke’s short analytical comment about the explosive nature of the rounds warheads had reached Jimmy at his most technical level.
“Where we going?” Jimmy intoned, his voice barely audible over the wind coming off of Kuhio Beach, and the normal rushing sounds the convertible made in passing through the air, even at slow speed. “Want to drive out Makapuu way and dump these over the cliff into the ocean?”
“No,” Darren replied. “Turn up Monserrat and head toward the club. There’ll be nobody showing up to work yet, and I have an idea.”
“I can’t wait,” Jimmy replied, in the same subdued tone he’d used ever since the Duke had called him out on possessing the ammunition.
“No, this is going to work,” Darren said. “We get rid of the rounds, we get the Duke into the club, we meet Elvis again and we don’t need Judy or her sister to do it.”
“And how are we supposed to approach Elvis without them?” Jimmy replied, his voice brightening just a bit, Darren noted.
“All we have to do is get Sergeant Cross to let you be a busboy for the night, once we get them all approved for the dinner. That way we’ll both be right there to talk to him, no matter what,” Darren said.
“I don’t know how to be a busboy,” Jimmy replied, “and you still haven’t told me how we can possibly get them into the club. It’s a military officer’s club. Outside civilians can’t just come in and have a party or even dinner there. Sergeant Cross will never approve. Not even for the Duke or Elvis Presley, no matter how famous or popular they are.”
“Watch and learn,” Darren replied, with a big smile on his face Jimmy couldn’t see, as his full attention was on his driving, maybe for the first time since Darren had been driving with him.
Monserrat was mostly without traffic, as the day was still young. The trip only took minutes, and soon they were at the curved road inside the abandoned Fort Ruger gate. The base was still open, with a tiny commissary, some remaining barracks and the Cannon Club complex set up into the angled flank of Diamond Head. There were no cars in the parking lot, only a strange looking motorcycle with the words Triumph on its gas tank. It was too early for the dinner crew to show up and too late for the lunch crew. Darren glanced at the old tattered looking motorcycle, wondering if some drunken customer had left it from the previous night since Sergeant Cross drove a car and most definitely not a motorcycle.
“Pull around back,” Darren instructed, “and park at the chained gate. Sergeant Cross doesn’t lock the cable, he just makes it look like the thing is locked. I think the key to the big padlock was lost long ago but he never talks about it.”
Darren opened the passenger door and stepped from the Spyder once it was stopped. He easily pulled the cable out from the rings that ran back and forth mid-way up its chain-link twin gates. The big padlock was attached to one end but the other end was free and allowed the cable to be pulled all the way through without difficulty. He pulled the two gate halves open and waved to Jimmy, who was still at the wheel of the car. “It’s wide enough,” he said, waving for Jimmy to maneuver the car around and back it into the narrow space so it wouldn’t be so noticeable.
Instead of doing as Darren instructed, Jimmy turned off the ignition and got out of the car. He walked to where Darren stood.
“I’m pulling the rounds out,” he said. “I’m not risking bumping into anything and having one or all of those rounds go off. I presume you have a plan for what we’re going to do with them here.”
“Okay,” Darren replied, “but you’ve got to help me move the grate first.”
Darren headed into the narrow alley, one side dominated by eight-foot tall freezers lined up one after another. Each freezer had a great, secure-looking, door with an over-size chrome handle. The doors on the freezers alone were taller than either of the boys.
“Wu’s grate?” Jimmy asked, finally beginning to figure out Darren’s plan.
“It’s just a hole with a grate over it, leading to a sewer main down below,” he went on. “How’s that going to serve as a good hiding place?”
Darren didn’t reply, instead he knelt down to work at the grate.
Together they got the grate out and then backed off the hole they’d prepared for Wu to fall into. That he had had a stroke of fortune, and not been hurt or killed, and come to view the boys as his saviors, was good luck beyond considering.
“When Wu came out of the hole his legs, from his knees down, were covered in awful black mud,” Darren said. “The bottom of this cistern is filled with deep, old collected and disgusting mud. We toss the rounds down there and they’ll never be found, and we don’t have to worry that somebody’s going to come across them, report it and then someone else, like the Duke, confirms they were brought out of the harbor by us.”
Both boys peered down into the black maw of the hole. That it was square instead of round made it look even more forbidding than it would have if it was round, like a regular manhole.
“It’s your call,” Jimmy finally said, “I’ll get the package.”
Jimmy headed back for the car, which is Darren’s mind was sitting out in the parking lot like a neon beacon, but there was nothing to be done about it. Once Jimmy made up his mind that was it. there was the issue of who owned the cycle, as well. Darren had never seen it before, and could only hope that his conclusion that it belonged to some drunken patron of the night before was correct.
Jimmy came through the alley carrying the Bofors rounds very delicately, held to his chest in the lightest of hugs.
Darren ran to close the gates behind him, just in case, wishing they were made of solid wood or metal instead of the chain links anybody could see through.
Jimmy knelt down, before slowly placing the rounds on the cement next to the lip of the hole. He carefully unwrapped the rags he’d used to pad them earlier, before putting them in the trunk, and then the back seat of the Corvair.
“Can’t have the rags floating to the surface,” he murmured, preparing to pick the clip of rounds up.
Darren knelt by Jimmy’s side, wanting to witness the disposal of the rounds but also not wanting to be leaning over the opening when they were consigned to the black depths of the hole.
“Rags float where?” a voice out of nowhere said.
Jimmy froze, his hands on the rounds but no longer moving to do anything with them.
“Who are you?” Darren asked, his voice a whisper. “Where are you?” he went on, when there was no reply.
A door opened near the hole, and Wu stepped out of one of the freezers, clicking the door closed behind him.
The boys stared up at him, neither saying a word.
“It seems to Wu that you have strange toys beside your side,” Wu said, stepping close to the hole.
Darren noted the bottle in Wu’s hand, and recognized it as a bottle of Bacardi Light, his dad’s favorite drink. Wu swayed back and forth.
“What you doing good boys?” Wu asked, taking a swig from the bottle.
“Wu, you’re drunk,” Jimmy said, shock in his voice.
“Is that your motorcycle?” Darren asked, trying to change the subject away from what they were doing.
“Triumph,” Wu answered. “Best bike in world. Honda coming. Japanese coming. Hate Japanese but will be good bike.”
“Why are you drinking this early?” Jimmy asked.
“Shift in two hour,” Wu struggled to get out. “No law against drink. Fortify for night work. I nap. I work. I drink, nap and work,” Wu laughed. Then his laugh instantly disappeared and he became dead serious, and seemingly cold sober for a few seconds. “You no tell Wu drinks a bit.”
“We will never say a word,” Darren replied, being equally as serious in his demeanor and expression.
“What are we going to do now?” Jimmy asked Darren, removing his hands from the rounds.
“Not put blow up stuff in hole,” Wu stated, pointing behind him. “Blow up stuff blow up someday, or now. Take shovel, go up hill, dig hole, bury blow-up toy forever, not put in hole.” Wu continued to point behind him. “Shovel behind freezer, back,” he got out, before turning and staggering to the rear entrance of the Cannon Club kitchen.
“Thanks Wu,” Jimmy said to his departing back.
“No thanks,” Wu threw back over his shoulder. “No see nothing. No understand Haole boys, but Haole boys’ good boys. Save Wu. No see nothing.”
Wu went through the door and was gone.
“We’re going to do what he said,” Darren answered Jimmy’s question that he’d asked earlier. “He’s seen the rounds, and he knows what we wanted to do. We can’t take the chance he’ll talk, and maybe he’s right. A hole in the side of Diamond Head is probably better. The place is a monument so it’ll never be built on. Wu’s right.”
“So, we follow the instructions of a drunken Chinese chef?” Jimmy asked, still not moving from his knees next to the rounds.
“Yes, we do,” Darren answered, getting to his feet and heading for the closest space between two of the freezers. “If there’s a shovel back here somewhere, I mean.”
Darren found the shovel and with Jimmy, carrying the ammo clip with great care, moved up the mountainside behind the club.
“This dirt isn’t as dry and hard as I thought,” Darren said, sticking the pointed blade of the shovel into the ground from time to time as they climbed.
“The ground cover keeps it moister than anyone would think from a distance,” Jimmy replied. “Are we there yet?” he finally asked.
“Okay, this is it,” Darren stated, jamming the point of the shovel deep into the dirt and beginning to dig.
Jimmy sat, with the rounds in his lap, pushing his back into the angled surface of the mountainside and staring out over the top of the Cannon Club to take in the full scope of Waikiki, in all of its strangely developed beauty.
“Now Wu knows a secret about us, and I can’t see that as being good,” Jimmy said, worry in the tone of his voice.
“No, it’s good news for what we’re trying to do,” Jimmy answered, between digs with the shovel. “He owes us a second time now, because I think he thinks the secret of his drinking might cost him his job with Sergeant Cross and that’s a lot bigger secret than a couple of teenagers messing around with some old munitions.”
Jimmy eased the rounds into the hole Darren had dug.
“How we going to mark the spot so we’ll know where the rounds are?” he asked, as he stood up and took the shovel to throw in the loose pile of earth nearby, and then smooth over the disturbed earth above what had been the hole.
“We don’t need to know where the rounds are, although we should pile up some ground a foot or so above the spot so when it rains there won’t be a revealing crater here,” Darren replied. “In fact, we should deny anything said about those things, since we wouldn’t be all alone if they were discovered as having something to do with us. From what the Duke said, we’d probably hurt our dad’s because of the work they do.”
“What a waste,” Jimmy replied, turning to hike back down the mountainside. “I worked for hours on those, and I know Elvis would love them and no he’ll never see them. At least we’ve got the powder.”
Darren followed Jimmy down toward the back entrance to the Cannon Club, his thoughts leaving the buried rounds behind, as he contemplated exactly how he was going to somehow get Wu and Sergeant Cross to agree to allow the Duke’s dinner party.
“We talk to Wu first?” Jimmy asked, once they were down, the shovel replaced where it had been, and they stood standing at the back door of the club together. “He’s drunk, which might be the bests of all worlds for your plan. We get him to agree and then have him talk to Sergeant Cross.”
“No, won’t work,” Darren replied, his mind racing.
“Why not?” Jimmy said.
“Wu and Cross don’t talk,” Jimmy came back, “Ever.”
“But Wu’s the famous chef, and Sergeant Cross is his boss, how can that work?”
“Wu’s Chinese and Sergeant Cross is black,” Darren said, “it’s bad enough that we’re both Haoles, as Wu’s a terrible racist, but the Sergeant being black is something else again.”
“That’s just awful, so what are we supposed to do?” Jimmy asked.
“We need an emissary with the power to speak to both and get both to work together on this,” Darren said.
“Who?” Jimmy asked, “since the Duke isn’t doing it or he wouldn’t have asked us.”
“Your dad,” Darren replied, still holding the door open and facing his friend, “and maybe you might want to tell me what your dad really does, and what he’s got to do with that whole thing going on at the barracks with that supposedly retired guy named Colonel Banks and his supposedly retired friend General Volckmann. What are they doing here at Fort Ruger and how can we use that information to help us.”