Does she have to cry?
He hates it when they cry; the sniffling and the whining. It annoys him and makes him want to hurt them. He doesn’t want to hurt them. He just wants answers.
He wants to know why they sleep with him if they aren’t looking for a relationship; why they let him buy them drinks and feel up their skirts. Why they let him take them home without a thought for their safety. More importantly, he wants to know why they leave the next morning without ever another word. He treats them right; he doesn’t push or cajole. He makes sure they haven’t had too much to drink and asks them repeatedly if they are sure.
They always are.
While they sleep in his bed, he rifles through their purses. It's amazing what you can learn from a woman's purse.
The wallet provides names and addresses. Cell phones are a wealth of information, and provide him with their plans well into the future. Through social networks and text messages, he knows all their friends and favorite places to hang out. Voice mail is a fairly easy code to crack as well. He's amazed really, that so many people never bother to change the code from the default; four zeros. It works most of the time. If not, his next two or three attempts usually do the trick.
He places a call to himself and retrieves their number from the caller ID. That way he won't have to ask and they won't have to offer. No strings attached. It's how they like it. It's how he likes it too.
He had picked this one back up just days after they'd first met. She had accepted him as a friend on Facebook with no questions asked. He doesn't use his own name, of course, just a generic fake that he logs in with at a local coffee shop. There's nothing to trace back to him. He’s anonymous and never has to say a word, instead he watches and he waits.
Three days later he had come upon the perfect opportunity.
A check-in, right down the street, at a busy mall. Cavernous and full of tourists, it's the kind of place to blend right in. He'd located her car and circled the lot a few times, until he found a spot nearby. Without much effort and quick as can be, he had cut the battery wire and retreated back to his SUV to wait while she had dined on Italian with a girlfriend named Michelle.
He loved modern technology, it really took no effort at all.
He had watched as she struggled to start her car, as she hit the steering wheel in frustration and finally gave up on the disabled vehicle. He made sure to 'accidentally' run into her before she had had a chance to call a motor club or a tow company.
How grateful she had been to run into him. How surprised to see him again. She said she'd been meaning to call. He'd grimaced and suppressed the urge to kill her right then and there. She'd snuck out before dawn as he feigned being asleep. She didn't have his number. There was definitely no plan to call.
Outwardly, he'd smiled and offered her a ride, a coffee while they waited for the tow company. She'd happily accepted, and when she had excused herself to find somewhere quiet to call the tow company, he had ordered the drinks. As they sipped their passion fruit iced teas, he had consoled her on her bad luck. As she had begun to slur, he had quietly slipped a twenty onto the table and walked her back to the parking lot; he had laid her on the back seat and covered her with a tarp without even raising an eyebrow from passersby. He had engaged the child locks as he started the car and sent up a prayer of thanks for her trusting nature. He had put the car into gear and sped off in the opposite direction of where she said she wanted to go.
He will spend another few hours questioning her, trying to get the resolution he seeks. But she won't be any help; they never are. The drugs leave them docile and pliable, eager at first. He's careful not to leave a mark. There’s no need to tie them up and he always uses protection. Eventually, as they sober and as he becomes more aggressive, they start to panic. Another dose of Rohypnol sends them to dreamland and then it’s just a short drive to the park he likes to frequent. It’s secluded at night and full of the homeless and drugged. Nobody notices as he slouches them against the tree. No one cares if they cry out. They are much more interested in securing their next high or listening to the voices in their heads.
“Will you shut up?” he yells at the sniffling girl. “You can go home soon. I just want to know why you didn't stay."
“Give it to me! It’s mine!”
“No way, butt-munch! It’s mine now!”
“I’m gonna tell Tutu!”
There's silence for a beat, and then a loud wailing. Detective Aron Kaneshiro wakes with a groan.
It’s still morning, he judges by the light that streams gently through the vertical blinds, and the pretty little chirp of birdsong that's just a hairs breadth shy of irritating. It's late enough though that the children on break, that the kind and elderly Mrs Hasmasu watches while their parents work, have eaten their breakfast and are out terrorizing the neighborhood already. They’re generally good kids, but as spring break nears it’s end, the kids have become bored with Grandma’s house; the bickering between the two brothers has amped up in both intensity and loudness with each passing day.
Aron makes a note to himself to talk to the boys before heading to the station. The old woman is good to him, keeps an eye on his place with the odd hours he keeps, and he wants to help her out. She bakes cookies and leaves them on his doorstep; always enough to take to the precinct for sharing. She inquires about his health and whether he’s been getting enough sleep when they meet in the shared laundry room. She pats his cheeks and thanks him for his service; she says it makes her feel better to know there’s a “strapping young boy” in the building to help keep them safe.
That always makes him chuckle a bit. Strapping might fit; he spends a lot of time surfing and has the toned abs and muscular arms that paddling out beyond the reef provides. Young however... He’s pushing forty. Most days it takes a healthy dose of caffeine and heaping serving of sugar in the form of a donut or brownie to brush away the cobwebs from his mind, to relieve the aches and pains in his back and get moving for the day.
He’d hoped to sleep past noon. He’d spent the better part of last evening combing the highway for evidence, and the rest of the night slouched at his desk, calling witnesses, checking statements, and trying to run down the owner of a white Toyota Camry.
It’s always a white Camry, he thinks, never a yellow Lamborghini or a red Ferrari. That would make his job a whole lot easier.
A hit and run, right on rush-hour, had shut the direct route to East Oahu down for more than three hours. The victim had died on route to Queen’s, and the driver of the vehicle was nowhere to be found. He’d been about to pack up and head home right around midnight when the call had come in about a mugging gone wrong down in Waikiki. A woman’s body had been found, stabbed in Kapiolani Park, and since he was still at the station, he’d caught the case. It wasn’t until 5am that he’d managed to duck out and head home for some much needed rest.
But something about it had struck him as odd; Honolulu isn't known for homicides. On average they only catch twenty or so a year and the vast majority of them are family disputes. Open and shut cases that are solved before the body has even been moved. Muggings however, are unfortunately fairly common; the abundance of tourists along the Waikiki strip are prime targets. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that the case is exactly as it appears to be. And yet it was odd. The body was out of the way, laying beside an old banyan tree in a less frequented area of the park. The area is known for bums and drug dealers but the medical examiner's initial report had concluded no drugs in the victim’s system and the victim's attire left no questions about her station in life. So what had she been doing there?
He thinks, as the screaming continues outside his window and as he stumbles out of bed and towards the bathroom, that the least he can do is scare a little sense into the rowdy youngsters before he makes his way back to the station. Maybe he will be able to guilt them into behaving for a few more days and their grandmother will have some much-needed peace.
As he showers and waits for the burning hot pricks of water to work their magic and wake him up, he can’t help but have his thoughts brought back to the mugging. Something just isn’t sitting right. A local girl, left in the park; not a tourist, and not a darkened alleyway between the two major thoroughfares. That’s where the muggings occur. The wallet was missing, and the lack of any damage other than the knife wound, points to a random attack gone wrong. But why didn’t the perp steal her jewelery? The victim had been wearing at least ten thousand dollars worth of jewelery on her fingers. She’d been decked out in designer clothing; the handbag alone was worth a cool three thousand dollars. Why only take the wallet and maybe a cell phone? Something doesn’t add up. Was she even carrying a cell phone and wallet? First impressions say mugging but Kane’s gut tells him otherwise. If she was carrying the assumed missing items, it points towards hiding her identity rather than financial gain.
He rinses off and hops out of the shower, knowing he won’t be relaxing anytime soon. He quickly dresses, shaves and prepares to head to the office. He hasn’t had a call about any new cases and he’d been told to take a break. Ordered to in actuality. His captain had commented on his rumpled state and told him not to come back until he looked, "a little less hobo and a lot more human". But four hours of sleep is more often than not the norm for Aron, and with the inconsistencies running in circles through his mind, he simply can’t stay away and take the day off. With his hair slicked back and a fresh set of clothes, he feels at least halfway to human.
Besdes, he has a couple stops to make before heading in to the station and staying cooped up in his small apartment holds no merit. He straps his badge onto his belt and holsters his piece firmly into place as he closes the door behind him with a little extra force. It's more force than is necessary, enough to cause a loud bang. The boys pay no attention though and continue yelling at each other.
He furrows his brow and aims a glare toward the two boys who are currently in a heated argument over who will ride a tricycle built for a child at least half the size of the smaller one. Aron mentally berates the parents of these boys. If given something to occupy themselves with, a lot of this tension that’s been building over spring break could have been avoided. Surely no sane person could expect a six and eleven year old to entertain themselves for two weeks?
“I had it first!” Ethan, the smaller of the two cries.
“Yeah, well I have it now,” the older boy, Nathanial smirks, sitting on the trike and looking ridiculous.
Kane, as a few select friends call him, stands over the boys and waits for them to notice his presence. He sets his face into a stern mask and taps his foot gently, his shadow casting a grey light over the two youngsters.
The larger of the two is the first to notice, his eyes slowly rising to meet Kane's. The smaller, currently sobbing about how unfair life is, takes a moment to realize that his brother has stopped arguing.
If only you knew, Kane thinks. If only you knew.
“Hey.... Detective Kaneshiro,” Nathanial says with a hint of shame coloring his face.
“Yeah, yeah. I know," the kid says, cutting Kane off before he can start. "He’s my little brother. Be nice. I know, okay?”
Kane crouches down to the kid’s level and speaks in a conspiratorial tone.
“You know, I have a little brother too, brah.” He flit his eyes from side to side as though checking for anyone who might be eavesdropping.
When the boy looks thoroughly engaged, he continues. “When we were growing up, he was a royal pain in my butt too.”
The boy nods, his face serious, and waits for more.
“But you know what?”
“What?” he sighs.
The kid gives a slight roll of his eyes and the detective knows the kid is expecting a long sermon about brothers needing to be the best of friends and needing to treat each other nice. He’s heard the old lady give that speech more times than he can count in the last few days. She's right, but perhaps a new approach will make it sink in.
“He still is!” Kane winks.
The kid laughs and Kane’ knows he’s got him hooked. He hopes that now Nate will be willing to listen.
“You know what else though?”
“He really is my best friend, and one day, yours will be too. He’ll still bug the crap out of you. He’ll want to borrow money and steal your hair gel. He’ll want to go to parties with you when you’re in college and wanting nothing to do with him. He will call, at midnight when you’ve just fallen asleep, looking to chat. He will drive you crazy. I mean that’s a little brother’s job, you know? But you’ll also come to realize that it’s mainly because he looks up to you. And one day, you’ll be feeling bad; maybe you’ve just broken up with a girl, maybe your best friend moved away, or you just lost the big game. Whatever it is, one day, your little brother will be there and he will nudge you in the shoulder and offer to play some video games or take you out for a drink and you’ll realize you had a best friend right beside you all along." The kid looks thoughtful as he absorbs this information. "So go easy on him, huh? He’s just in awe of the coolness that is you, brah.”
Nate smiles knowingly, the smile of an older brother who knows he’s the cooler kid. Kane hides a chuckle behind his palm and waits for the kid to respond.
“Yeah, I guess you might be right.”
“Please. I know I’m right. If I’m wrong that makes my little brother the cool one.”
Kane gives the kid a look of mock horror.
“Plus, you know, Tutu could use a break. If not for your brother, play nice for her, huh?”
Nathanial visibly softens as the mention of his grandma and he nods solemnly.
“Promise. I’ll play nice, Detective.”
“Call me Kane, kid.”
The boy beams and Kane ruffles his hair and throws a look toward the still sulking Ethan. Nathanial nods and walks off towards the smaller boy.
“Hey Buttmuch, you wanna go play freeze-tag?”
Kane smiles as he stands and straightens his aching knees and shoulders. The boys run off, fight forgotten, and begin chasing each other around small courtyard. Kane kicks the tricycle under a nearby hibiscus bush. It’s was once a neatly trimmed hedge but is now overgrown and shaggy; he hopes the boys won’t notice the trike hidden under the tangled branches. The kid it belongs to had moved out months ago. No one will miss it and hopefully it will spare Mrs Hasmasu a round or two of arguments.
Kane spies Mrs Hasmasu watching him from out of her window and he smiles and throws her a wink before turning to walk to his car. His bleary eyes protest as he turns toward the already hot sun; hopefully some of Waikiki’s finest caffeine will ease his aches and pains and put a little bit of a spring back into his step. Four hours on his uncomfortable mattress had done little to help and he's already regretting his decision to get out of bed so soon.
The shop is busy but even located in the heart of Waikiki, not oppressively so. She still has time to greet the customers, to glean what tidbits of information she can in the small amount of time between placing their orders and picking it up at the other end of the counter.
She loves her job. She’s built something of an anomaly in these days of a Starbucks on every corner and drive-through windows offering everything from milkshakes to flavored lattes. He place is a bustling and yet cozy alcove sandwiched between a Prada and a Forever 21; a favorite among locals and a novelty for tourists. Business is booming and she couldn’t be prouder.
Surrounded by high-end boutiques and even higher-end hotels sits her coffee shop. It’s a relic of another time, inherited from a long-lost great auntie. Childless and apparently enamored with her long dark hair and bright blue eyes, they’d met only once, when Jess was just a child. She had bequeathed it all on her death. Aunt Peggy had chosen to ignore Jess’ mother who once had the nerve to call her beloved Honolulu, “a squalid hovel.” So, not only was the coffee shop hers, free and clear, but also the building and land it was housed on; a rarity for Waikiki, with it’s exorbitant rents and leasehold land deals.
The cafe is cool and dark, with mismatched furniture and worn wood floors. It's barely thirty feet wide but stretching from streetfront to beachfront, she has managed to avoid lucrative offers to relocate and has fended off slimy businessmen with motives ulterior to their offers of partnership and assistance.
Yeah, right. Jess thinks they would like to assist her all the way to demolition. They’d replace Na Hale Kope, with a boutique hotel or another one of the seemingly endless convenience stores along the strip, in a heartbeat.
Da House, as the regulars call it, is her home away from home. It is her home; she spends the majority of her waking hours there and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Her apartment is nestled on the nearby slopes of Diamond Head; it's contemporary and stylish, yet still warm and inviting. It is everything she had thought she wanted. It’s a lonely reminder of the life she once dreamed of having. It has three bedrooms and two baths, million dollar views, and an even heftier price tag. However, it lacks the good memories and happy laughter that a home should provide. Every shiny fixture, every happy photograph she refuses to take down, reminds Jess of failure. So she uses the apartment only as a place to sleep; she uses the coffee shop to live.
She’s in the middle of steaming a beaker of milk when Kane walks in. He’s more than a customer, she considers him a friend. He's her most loyal late-night patron and a trusted confidant; he's a wealth of information too. He keeps her apprised of all the local happenings and she returns the favor when she can.
“Elvis!” she greets as he heads to the counter.
He rolls his eyes as he stuffs a fiver into the tip jar and heads to the far end of the counter where she is already making his brew. There’s no need for ordering; he’ll have a quad cap’ with extra foam. A lot of extra foam. One of these days she’s just going to serve him the quad espresso. The dark, bold brew is what he’s really after. It's the jolt he needs to start his day. The minuscule amount of milk she thinks, is some kind of tip of the hat to health.
“Must you?” he questions with a good-natured grin.
“I must,” Jess say back, smirking as she foams the milk.
Kane’s mother had been an Elvis fan; a huge Elvis fan. A throw your panties on the stage and faint, Elvis fan. So much so, that she felt the need to name her son after the late, great, entertainer. Kane should be thankful that she chose the misspelled middle name and not the first, she's always quick to remind him. With his dark, good looks and the permanent smirk that adorns his face, from just the right angle he could pass for a Hawaiian Elvis. He’d probably be able to make himself a decent living impersonating the 'King' at one of the many floor shows Waikiki has to offer. At least this way, she tells him, he only has to correct spelling twenty times a day and deal with her.
“So what’s new, Kane?” she asks, “Any gruesome murders to tell me about? Some great mystery that I can help you solve?”
He snorts and leans up against the counter. “Unless you count two hit and runs and a mugging as out of the ordinary, nope. Sorry, Jess. Just your run of the mill, people are horrible, murders of the month.”
“Eh, you win some, you lose some,” she shrugs.
“I know,” she smiles.
She is horrible. A little. But she is also an aspiring author. She has notebooks filled with unfinished scenes and plot ideas; an entire hard drive filled with character sketches and research. When the officer had started frequenting her cafe almost five years ago it had been like a sign from above. A sign that she needed to start writing more and working less. She had spent all of her evenings trying to think of the perfect crime, and then in walks the handsome officer with a penchant for fine coffee and a willingness to talk story. She has steadily begun handing over the reigns to her employees. She spends more time chatting up the customers and less time brewing the beverages these days. At thirty-three Jess has finally started living for herself. She counts herself lucky. If not for the inheritance, she has no clue what she might be doing now. Not too long ago, she had found herself struggling to make ends meet and wondering if she'd ever find happiness. Kane has been a walking knowledge-base and a good friend through it all.
They had bonded over occasional late night coffee binges. Him, staving off sleep during overnight patrols, and her, chugging down the brew in an attempt to hide the fact that she was avoiding a painful home life; an ugly marriage and eventually an even uglier divorce.
“So what’s new with you? How goes Da House?”
He asks politely, but she can tell he doesn’t have the time to chat. It’s mid-morning on a Monday and it’s right in the middle of his regular shift. Late night patrols were a thing of the past once he made detective. The generally nine to five routine has done wonders for their continuing friendship and even greater things to his physique. He keeps a surfboard stashed out back in the storeroom, and most evenings, as the sun sets over the Pacific and the visitors pack up their beach towels to head for gourmet dinners and hula shows, Kane paddles out beyond the reef and catches a few waves.
Jess takes this time to decompress from the day and observe. She's not at all handy on a board, but she's perfectly happy to watch the sights and sounds as people go by, to enjoy the view, both of the ocean and of Kane as he finishes his session and strides back up the sand; his arms are chiseled and his chest is broad. She may have sworn off men for the foreseeable future but she is certainly no saint. Nothing wrong with a little window shopping, she tells herself.
This morning though, she can tell that he’s here purely for the pick me up her coffee provides. He’ll stop by later tonight, or maybe even later in the week if he catches a new case, and they will chat then. She hands over his cappuccino and quickly pours him a large regular coffee to go with. Kona Gold; it’s a blend and much too bitter for her tastes, but it’s exactly what Kane's somewhat grumpy and definitely aged partner prefers.
“Business is booming,” she says, answerng his question with a gesture to the filled seats and long line that almost reaches the door. “Now go take that coffee to the dinosaur that you call a partner and we’ll talk later.”
He smiles and digs into his pocket, pulls out another five, and waves it in her direction.
“Pfft,” she scoffs. “You insult me, Kane. Keep your money. Don’t think I didn’t see the five you already stashed in the tip jar. You know it’s on the house.”
“Yeah, well don’t come crying to me when you’re broke and living on the streets, Jess.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” she grins. “Besides, isn’t there some kind of unwritten code? Coffee and donuts on the house for Honolulu’s finest… or else?”
“Or else!” he says darkly, picking up a pre-wrapped brownie from the counter and unwrapping it. “Brownies too, right?”
“Yeah, of course.” she laughs.
He takes a large bite and crumbs spill down his somewhat garish aloha shirt; the atrocity is standard issue for any self-respecting professional in Hawaii. Still, ten years later, she can’t grasp the appeal. He waves and mumbles an “Aloha” around his chocolate stuffed mouth as he brushes the crumbs away and turns toward the exit.
“Just don’t come crying to me when your pants don’t fit!” she calls after him as the bell above the door tinkles to signal his departure.