True to his word, the sergeant’s truck showed up in the night to pack all the belongings they had. It didn’t take long and didn’t come anywhere near to filling up the storage area in the back of the truck. When they got to Shapiro’s place the kids ran through the mansion trying to figure out which room to choose from the nine available. Lauren’s wife showed the first warmth she’d evidenced since the devastating personal event with Neuzel by smiling after the truck was gone.
“What do we have to do for this? What will they want from us now?” Her words were not ‘smile’ words, however. They sat on the couch facing out over the bay. The lights from the shore and the distant city beyond were almost as impressive as the view during the day. They sat in silence until mutually deciding to turn in. The master bedroom was almost as large as the house they’d been renting in Kapahulu. One huge bed was central to it, set up against a low wall with its foot pointing out at the bay through another custom picture window. They slept on opposing edges of the bed, the gulf between them as wide as it had ever been in all the years of their marriage.
“Goodnight, Sharon,” Lauren whispered, after a few minutes, but his wife didn’t reply. He wondered if she was asleep or simply using the same tactic he’d used in ignoring her question about what they might be required to do to live in the house. He knew it would not really involve her. It would be what he had to do, although, as had been dramatically proven, his family could suffer huge collateral damage at any time for anything he did.
Lauren lay awake for a long time considering what options they might follow. They could pack up and leave the islands, although they had neither the cash nor credit to afford such a move. They also had nowhere to move to. They could go to the regular police located in Honolulu city center and complain, but with the autonomy, Yee was demonstrating that seemed like a path toward certain disaster. Lauren could quit the bartender job and move his family somewhere else on the island. He nearly laughed out loud at that option. It would take all of maybe two hours to find them on the small island. And then where would they be? No, they had no other option other than to proceed in the direction things were going.
They adjusted into the house, which was like adjusting into a five-star hotel, after being forced to spend years in a Motel Six. Everything in the house was the most expensive and the highest tech money could buy. Without rent, they could afford things they’d lacked, like cell phones and laptops. Sharon worked as the hostess for the seated dining room located just beyond the bakery in the single Zippy’s building they all shared. They could even afford to save a bit of money, although Lauren knew they would not be able to accumulate enough to mean anything before whatever was going on led to some conclusion. There were, for all intents and purposes ‘container people’. They could afford to fly home but not afford to rent a container to take their stuff or car. The island was sprinkled with Haoles with the same problem, who’d come to the wealthy city and state not understanding that the wealth did not transfer, and certainly not to Caucasians trying to make a living from doing things the local islander’s thought were their very own.
Lauren walked to work, often walking to Zippys for breakfast and then returning home late in the afternoon. Hiyashi was there every morning with his crew. One morning he invited Lauren over. They didn’t talk much about anything, and the daily breakfast turned into a ritual. Every morning they’d both have the same thing; a bowl of Saimin, a single scoop of sticky white rice and a piece of teriyaki fried chicken. The chicken pieces were always different in taste and cooking style. Zippy’s cook didn’t let customers choose. Hiyashi and Lauren would often trade pieces. After a few weeks, Hiyashi said something of note.
“Why you no use boat. You in club. Use boat,” the short compact man said, slurping up a spoonful of his soup.
“What boat?” Lauren replied.
“You live in Shapiro house. Comes with boat. Nice boat. Underpowered, but nice.”
“Nobody said anything about a boat,” Lauren continued, munching on a piece of chicken thigh. He’d given Hiyashi a leg, which they both preferred, to curry favor the strange man in any way he could.
From nowhere a keychain with a float attached by cord hit the top of the table. “Keys to gate and boat. You go out. Have fun. You will need boat for later maybe when Shapiro come back.” Hiyashi smiled a knowing smile that sent a chill up and down Lauren’s spine.
He wondered what the Yakuza did for fun. In movies, he’d seen a lot of them gambling and losing fingers if the players borrowed to play and could not pay the money back, but all of the ones coming to the bar didn’t seem to be missing so much as a pinky.
“I’ll have to check with Sergeant Yee,” Lauren murmured weakly, not knowing whether to accept the keys or not.
“Yee a servant. Shapiro a principal. Principal say okay. Hiyashi no principal but my Jou-Shi is. Take key. My Jou-Shi say so.”
Hiyashi departed, leaving some of his people to clear his tray.
Lauren checked out the keys. How was he supposed to know which boat was Shapiros, he wondered? The float was printed vertically with the words “Glacier Bay.” It was an unlikely name for a boat docked in a Hawaiian marina.
It took him half an hour, wandering among the sixty or seventy slipped boats to find what he was looking for. Glacier Bay was not the boat’s name; it was the boat’s manufacturer. The name of the boat was “Fools Gold,” which brought a smile to Lauren’s lips.
“How appropriate,” he said out loud, as there was not another soul on the docks or onboard any of the boats.
He checked the twenty-something footer out, from bow to stern. The boat was fueled. The builder’s information plate stated that it was made to hold a maximum of two 150 horsepower outboards, but mounted on the back of each stern pontoon was a Mercury 250 Sport.
“Underpowered,” Lauren whispered to himself, repeating Hiyashi’s words. He thought about whether the overpowered boat would be unsafe and then assumed it more than likely was. It didn’t matter, as Lauren was in so much trouble the safety of any vehicle he was in really didn’t seem like it would make any difference at all.
Lauren decided to take the boat out for a test run. It had everything, just like the house. The full radio system, VHF and UHF as well as single-side-band. Complete Decca radar; with its bar spinning slowly on top of the arch when Lauren turned on the key. Depth finder. Even an FM/AM radio. Burbling along inside the inner harbor Lauren put the radio on a local Hawaiian music station and turned up the volume. He looked back. It seemed vaguely eerie to pull away from Zippys by water. He guided the boat around the harbors island three times before heading out into the bay.
He thought about the information Hiyahsi had given him. The Japanese were more than fully informed about Shapiro, and also about the police involvement with them. The Yakuza was more than knowledgeable, which could only mean that it was somehow involved itself. It seemed that everyone in and around Hawaii Kai was waiting for the controversial man named Shapiro to return.
Once under the highway bridge, Lauren opened up both throttles of the 250s to the maximum and almost threw himself over the stern. The acceleration of the boat was sudden and savage. Lauren hung on to the bolster he should have been leaning back into or strapped to. He’d also failed to clip the float to his clothing so the boat would stop if he got too far from the controls, which had almost happened.
The speedometer pegged quickly at its 45 MPH maximum but the boat accelerated right on through. Lauren, regaining his balance and pressed back into the bolster took out his phone, turned it on and accessed the GPS speedometer app. Halfway across the bay, the boat topped out at 85.4 MPH. It was steady as a rock at that speed. Lauren was mightily impressed. The 250 Sport motors were not stock, by any definition. The wildly overpowered Japanese mono-hulled racing boats might be a bit faster, but they would never match the stability of the double-hulled Glacier Bay, especially in any kind of sea. It was a warm fact to know and store away.
He docked the boat easily. It was smoother and less difficult than parking a car. “And what or who is a Jou-Shi?” he murmured to himself, as he tied the “Fools Gold” to the pier. He realized there was a spring to his step as he walked through the outside dining area of Zippys. The boat had given him a sensation of power he hadn’t experienced in longer than he cared to think.
With Sharon working days and the kids off to school, Lauren had time to begin work on the pyrotechnics he would need to accomplish his singular mission. Neuzel could not be allowed to walk away from what happened. Lauren knew his deep feelings for vengeful resolution were selfishly his own. Sharon would have nothing to do with any of it, as her solution to what had happened was to turn inward and concentrate on surviving, while nurturing protecting and helping the family. But Lauren could not let it go. The violation was simply too deep, too personal and too contemptible.
His weapon of choice was a Mannlicher Schoenauer in .243 Caliber. He fondled the masterfully built machine, marveling that he’d been able to somehow hand on to it when some other things had to go. It was powerful, precise and built to deliver an exact amount of foot-pounds of energy on a distant target. It was neither too much gun for the job or too little. It was his ‘mother bear’ weapon. A silencer would have to be fashioned out of coffee and tomato puree cans with a large supply of oil-laden steel wool. The size of the suppressor would not be too important as the whole system would be buffered by its encasement within the nearly soundproof confines of a larger container, except, of course, the suppressor could not be so big as to interfere with the telescopic sight. Suppressing the noise of the bullet meant slowing its movement through the air, as well as extracting as many of the sound waves it radiated as it exited the barrel or the end of the can. All of the machine work would take some work to implement, and then carry out.
Lauren laid everything out on one of the many bench tables in the mansion’s basement. Most homes on Oahu were built on slabs. Basements were uncommon. It was his good fortune that Shapiro had built the place with no thought for cost containment. The ballistics tests would gain no notice, as he performed them when nobody was home, and the results of impacts could be cleaned up leaving no traces.
Back at work, four strangers, all young haoles, entered the bar near midnight. It was Saturday night, so strangers, those not from either the HPD or Yakuza group, were not that uncommon. Most did not stay too long as the Karaoke at Zippy’s in Hawaii Kai was accurately renowned to be among the worst in the Western Hemisphere. The strangers all took a place together, stretching partially across the center of the bar. They sat on the uncomfortable high leather stools, positioned mid-way between the cops and drug-runners. They wore aloha shirts and long cotton trousers. They all ordered Coors Light Beers. They looked, and acted, like clones.
“Where you guys from?” Lauren asked, conversationally, trying to tune out Hiyashi doing a horrid version of “Climb Every Mountain.”
“Government contract at Hickam. We’re Department of Interior, doing some admeasuring with respect to storage facilities out there.”
Lauren’s ears perked up. The word ‘admeasuring’ he knew but hadn’t heard since he was a kid. His father had spent a tour in the Coast Guard Marine Inspection branch of that service. The science of figuring out how much, and in what configuration cargo was stored aboard ships, was called ‘admeasuring the available space.’ He also knew it was one of the few things on earth an experienced human could do better and quicker than a computer.
Lauren served the beers by running the bottles across the top of the beautifully polished Koa wood bar surface. Each bottle stopped exactly in front of the man it was intended for. “So, you’re admeasuring airplane cargo space?” he asked.
“Buildings. All the buildings on Hickam proper. Probably have to do Pearl next,” the same clone who’d spoken earlier replied.
Lauren laughed quietly out loud. “You’re not admeasuring. You’re not Department of Interior. The word admeasure is used very sparingly in the language. It’s never used for land structures. You would use apportion or allocation but not admeasuring. So, what are you guys really after? Maybe I can help you.”
The four men sat in stony silence. It was uncommon in almost any public setting to be called a liar to your face in Hawaii. In all of America, not much had changed in male macho presentation from the cowboy western times, but the local population was a very high threat about such things, although very low in applying real violence to deal with it. It was an insult calling for a potentially violent response but that was not at all likely in Hawaii Kai. As one, the four turned to eye the significant police contingent drinking over in the corner of the bar. Yee looked over at Lauren, ignoring the obvious interest of the clones, and then smiled and waved.
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