Dark Red And Deadly
"Is there anything in your past that might embarrass the President-Elect?"
That’s where I come in. My name is Terry Rafferty. I don’t work for the government. I work for the President-Elect. My job is to vett the nominations.
Don’t ask me what I can do for my country.
I’ve had to do the damnedest things already.
* * *
The Quint house in rainforest Hawaii was a two story spacious building along the lines of a hunting lodge. There were goats and chickens, diapers on a clothesline, a pickup truck parked beside a vegetable garden surrounded by a chicken wire fence, and a large wooden crucifix. Between the house and that crucifix was a huge, old-fashioned satellite dish antenna pointed at the heavens.
Inside the garden a skinny gray-bearded man, stripped to the waist, was shoveling wet manure from the rear of his pickup truck atop a giant compost heap. A loaded shotgun was resting against his wheelbarrow. While he shoveled, a young pit bull terrier approached the compost pile, sniffed it, was distressed by the smell and whined to his master.
The bearded man shooed the dog away. The dog ran off, disappeared. The bearded man kept working, then looked up at the arrival of a rented car.
The rental car coming up the drive slammed on the brakes and stopped in front of some peacocks who stood in its path screaming like somebody wide-awake during major surgery.
Terry Rafferty slowly pulled around the peacocks to the Quint family home. He was a tall, wiry redhead in his early forties. His sunroof was opened.
The bearded man jumped his fence with his shotgun and ran across the yard towards Rafferty who had already parked and left his car.
Rafferty said, "Jeremiah Quint? Aloha!"
Jeremiah Quint said, "It is the wicked who with hands and words invite death, who consider it a friend, and pine for it, and made a covenant with death, because they deserve to be its possession."
Rafferty was puzzled by that.
Jeremiah Quint told Rafferty, "Stay inside your car!"
Two pit bull terriers came loping around the house towards Rafferty. The younger, smaller dog barked at Rafferty, while the older dog walked stiff-legged towards Rafferty, growling, with bared teeth and a menacing manner.
Rafferty moved back towards his car.
While the smaller dog kept barking, the larger dog jumped onto the hood of Rafferty's car, his toenails scratching the finish, and started towards Rafferty.
Rafferty got back into the car before the dog could lunge at Rafferty.
The larger dog went up the windshield and onto the roof of the car, wanting to climb into the sunroof.
Rafferty realized his sunroof was opened.
The larger dog put his head partway in the sunroof, his jaws wide, his teeth apart.
Rafferty slammed the sunroof on him, catching his throat, and Rafferty tried choking him with it.
The larger dog struggled, one eye glaring at Rafferty, the sunroof the only obstacle keeping him back from clawing Rafferty.
Jeremiah Quint told the dogs, "Shadrach! Abednego! Hold! Shadrach! Abednego! On the porch! Now!"
The larger dog eased up instantly, the fight gone from his eyes. The dog pulled back sharply, pulling his muzzle out of jeopardy, and Rafferty could close the sunroof.
The dogs made a mad dash towards the house and sat on the porch.
Shaken, Rafferty left his car and approached Jeremiah.
Jeremiah pointed his shotgun at Rafferty.
"You're trespassing. And visitors aren't welcome."
Rafferty kept walking closer, came alongside a hibiscus tree.
Rafferty said, "Jeremiah Quint? I'm Terry Rafferty. I'm here to see Jimmy."
An angry, fearful man, Jeremiah sighted his shotgun at Rafferty.
"Howl, for the day of the Lord is near, as destruction from the Almighty it comes."
"I’m Jimmy’s friend. So is Senator Kincaid."
"When you gain a friend, first test him, and be not ready to trust him."
"I really am his friend," Rafferty said.
Rafferty kept approaching. Rafferty said, "I won't walk away from the barrel of that gun. This close, Jeremiah, it's called murder."
Jeremiah blew apart the hibiscus tree.
Rafferty flinched and reconsidered.
"And I shall make a footstool from my enemy’s head."
Audrey Quint, a hippie earth mother wearing a peasant blouse and a long calico skirt, approached. She was easily twenty years younger than her husband. On her hip, she had a drooling two year old in diapers.
Audrey was friendly, almost sisterly. "Aloha! I'm Audrey Quint."
"Aloha! I'm Terry Rafferty."
Audrey Quint said, "I'm glad you came."
"Audrey!" Jeremiah threatened. He tried a more reasoned approach. "There are seven things the Lord hates, and he who sows discord with his brother is one of those abominations."
"Is that Proverbs?" Rafferty said.
"Jeremiah, he's here to help."
Jeremiah Quint said, "He doesn't need him."
In answer, Audrey handed Jeremiah the baby, and suddenly he found his arms too full to carry both a baby and a shotgun. His wife took the shotgun and set it inside the pickup truck.
Rafferty said, "Can I hear it from his own lips?"
Jeremiah was reluctant. "Well, from now on, you park on the reflectors and toot your horn until I come and get you, understand?"
Audrey could be patronizing. "You tell him, honey."
Both hands full, Jeremiah Quint started walking back towards the house. Over his shoulder, he told his wife, "We can't take any chances, because you never know who it could be."
Rafferty was puzzled by Jeremiah's words.
Audrey Quint called to her husband, "Only nobody ever comes to see us, either." She turned and told Rafferty, "C'mon, I'll take you out to see Jimmy. He's out by Wild Banana Gulch."
Audrey and Rafferty walked across the yard towards Audrey's new International Scout parked under the trees. The windows were tinted.
Rafferty said, "Thank you. I appreciate this."
Audrey brushed that aside. "I'll do anything to get out of the house."
"How long have you been married?"
"How long is eternity?"
"Let me buy you both—and Jimmy—dinner tonight."
"What kind of a meal are we talking about?"
"Your choice. I’m on expense account."
"It's a deal!" Audrey said.
A retarded ten year old boy in pastel surfer shorts, white socks and no shoes, who walked delicately as a flower across the yard, came and stared at Rafferty. The boy had a dirty face and stringy long hair.
Audrey Quint said, "That's my son. Summertime. He likes being called Summertime. He's very special."
The boy stood on the running board of the truck and pressed his lips against the window. Audrey rolled down the window to speak to him.
Audrey Quint told her son, "Mommy will be back soon. You take care of daddy for me, okay, baby?"
The boy looked dubious.
"You'll be okay," Audrey promised.
They waved goodbye and drove off. Audrey rolled up the window and turned on the air conditioning. Summertime had left his lip print on the truck window.
* * *
Mad Dog Rahler and his son Lester stood face-to face on a ridge above sugar cane fields. Lester held a buck knife in one hand and was teaching his father how to play FLINCH! Mad Dog was a shirtless man in his early forties who needed a shave, a haircut and a bath. Lester was almost twenty, sunburned, and had crazy eyes.
Lester was flexing the knife. "The idea, dad, is to get the other guy to flinch before you do."
Lester leaned forward and flung the knife into the grass between his father's feet. The knife sunk midway between Mad Dog's shoes.
Mad Dog said, "Now what?"
Lester Rahler said, "Put your foot over the hole."
Still unsure of the rules of the game, Mad Dog pulled the knife free, then put his foot over the hole made in the grass.
Lester Rahler said, "Throw the knife as close to my toes as you can."
Mad Dog hefted the knife for balance, then tossed it into the air, catching it after it turned around once in mid-air. Then he leaned forward and threw the knife.
The knife struck an inch from Lester's bare foot and quivered from the power behind his throw.
Lester pulled out the knife and set his foot atop the hole made in the grass. "Good shot, dad!"
"And now it's your turn?"
Lester sank the knife to the hilt beside his father's sandal. "From now on, as your feet get closer together, the game heats up."
Mad Dog tugged out the knife, moved his foot closer to his other one, then tossed the knife. The knife landed a fraction of an inch from his father's other foot.
Mad Dog was growing skeptical. "Lester—? What's to keep the other guy from sticking the knife in your foot?"
Lester said, "You get to use the knife next."
"How do you know when you've won?"
"When he flinches, you win."
Mad Dog started to laugh. "You gotta be outa your fucking mind to be playing this!"
Lester frowned, juggling the knife. "Dad, don't say that."
"Why don't you just stick the guy, son? It's quicker."
"You're not trying to stick the guy!"
Mad Dog stiffened. "Shut up, Lester!"
"Daddy, don't tell me to shut up!"
"Helicopters!" Mad Dog said, warning him.
Mad Dog and Lester ran across the ridge to the trees. The growing rumble of approaching helicopters was behind them.
Their trucks were both parked beneath the trees, and their belongings were scattered around the trucks.
Mad Dog grabbed his portable color TV from atop his truck and threw it inside. He took out a shotgun and made sure it was loaded. Lester already had his shotgun racked and aimed at the sky.
Two helicopters were headed their way, noisy as motorcycles without mufflers. The choppers came quickly, then passed overhead, flying off towards the mountains, both painted in bumblebee colors, the word Sheriff in white letters on either flank.
Lester and Mad Dog watched them fly away.
Mad Dog lowered his shotgun. "They're hitting somebody else.
Lester Rahler said, "Dirty bastards.
The helicopters flew away, growing smaller, their noise diminishing.
Lester said, "Wanna play Flinch! some more?"
Mad Dog shook his head. "The goddam Sheriff just made me flinch."
* * *
The helicopters flew on, following the course of a creek bed into a lush valley. Then the helicopters landed beside a sugar cane field.
From both choppers, a dozen deputies hit the ground with automatic rifles drawn and fanned out like an army patrol, disappearing into the cane.
Sheriff Charles Hartman followed them from one of the helicopters. He was handsome, well-built, and athletic. He wore his uniform with pride. He could be either an ex-Golden Gloves fighter or a male model.
A deputy said, "Nothing here, Sheriff."
Hartman was angered. "Not another ... "
Alice Taylor, one of the helicopter pilots, left her copter and joined them. She was a beautiful woman and man-crazy. She wore aviator sunglasses, an aloha shirt, white slacks and deck shoes without socks. They entered the cane field. The cane was twice as high as a man and waved like Kansas wheat.
They toured the garden. The stalks were fresh-cut. Batches of leaves littered the ground as if a storm had blown through. At least a hundred plants had been removed in a matter of hours.
Alice said, "I saw it yesterday morning."
Hartman said, "Maybe you were spotted."
Alice said, "No."
Hartman faced her. "Well, Alice, what else could it be?"
* * *
Rafferty and Audrey stood at the gulch's edge, looking down at the bottom of the gulch, at many tropical trees, a green pond held in check by a lava dam, a creek from the spillover, and a naked man in a jockstrap doing push-ups on a long flat rock.
Audrey Quint said, "There's your boy."
Rafferty and Audrey climbed down the gulch wall. They met with Jimmy Quint, the man in the jockstrap. He was deeply sun-burned, skinny from self deprivation, had uncombed hair and had deep-set, lost eyes. He didn't notice how undressed he was.
Jimmy shaded his eyes. "Rafferty? Terry?"
Rafferty said, "Hello, Jimmy. "
Jimmy laughed. "You came to see me?" His smile weakened. "Goddam." He shook his head, amazed that anyone would visit. "Goddam." He was lost in self-thought. "Goddam!"
Rafferty said, "How are you doing, Jimmy?"
Jimmy thought it over. "Not bad." Then he brightened. "I got running water over there." He pointed at the pond. "It gets deep over there. I get in over there and take a bath whenever I need one."
Rafferty and Audrey exchanged glances. The message that passed between them recognized that poor Jimmy was in a confused mental state.
Rafferty asked, "How long have you been living like this, Jimmy?"
Jimmy confided. "It feels like forever."
Rafferty said, "We want to know how it's going for you. We want to know if—when—you're coming back to work."
"I don't know. Maybe. I don't know."
Jimmy choked up, his voice hoarse.
Audrey watched, holding back her tears.
* * *
Later that day in Wild Banana Gulch, Jimmy wandered off and became silent and distant, again lost in himself, and Rafferty found that nothing he could sai could break through this new wall.
Rafferty said, "Well, if not dinner, how about if I come back tomorrow?"
Jimmy was lost. "Okay."
"Do you need anything?"
Jimmy looked around absent-mindedly. "I miss the Sports Page. I used to like reading the Sports Page."
Rafferty promised, "I'll get you one."
Jimmy stopped Audrey. "Don't tell my brother, Audrey, okay? He wouldn't understand." He told Rafferty, "He thinks the Bible is the only thing you should read."
Audrey said, "I won't tell Jeremiah."
Jimmy raised a palm. "Hey, Terry, Audrey, later, okay? Thanks for coming by."
Jimmy and Rafferty shook hands, while Audrey took Jimmy’s hands in her and quoted from the Psalms.
She said, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Then Audrey kissed Jimmy goodbye.
Jimmy turned and left his own camp. The last sight Rafferty and Audrey had was his bare ass disappearing into the trees. They were both surprised.
* * *
Mad Dog looked over the supplies Henry Oteas had brought up to their camp. Three pickup trucks were parked nearby. Lester wandered into the scene.
Mad Dog pawed through the boxes. "Henry, did you get me those batteries?"
Henry, a retired canefield worker, sat to one side drinking his favorite drink, a mixture of bourbon and Gatorade. He was Tahitian and wore his mane of white hair tied back in a ponytail. His clothes all seemed a little large on him.
Henry looked blank. "If it was on my list, it's in the boxes."
"You didn't read the list?" Mad Dog asked.
Henry said, "Tomo did. Keep looking."
Lester watched Henry drinking. "How can you drink that shit?"
Henry winked. "It's good shit."
Lester said, "Hey, old man, what are you going to do with your fourth?"
Henry smiled happily. "Buy a house for my grandson and his bride. The rest is for my old age."
Lester mocked him. "You're old now." Then he daydreamed aloud about his own lot. "I'm gonna buy a lot of women. Nothing in the world is worse than not getting any."
Mad Dog had found batteries and had replaced the old ones in his pocket-size electronic blackjack game. As he started punching the keys, Mad Dog said, "Sure, I'll take a hit on seventeen." He punched the keys. "Shit."
Lester told his father, "Mad Dog, you know what's crazy? Tomo's gonna use his share and get married. With that kinda money, he can afford more than just one woman." He broke up over his own joke. "One with meat on her bones!"
Henry frowned at the inside of his drink.
Lester Rahler said, "Tomo and his woman. He's so big and she's so skinny." Then he asked Henry, "How they ever do it, old man?"
Henry spoke stiffly, "What they do, they do in private."
"Have you ever watched them doing it?"
Henry was slowly burning. "I don't talk about your family."
Lester perked up. "What's that mean?"
"You shouldn't talk about mine," Henry said.
Lester started advancing on the old man, his chest out, looking for a fight. "Don't tell me what I can talk about."
Mad Dog stopped him. "Lester!"
Lester told Mad Dog, "I want him!"
Mad Dog smacked his son’s head so hard that sweat flew off his face.
Mad Dog said, "No!
Lester backed down. "Aw, Mad Dog, he can't take a joke!"
Mad Dog snapped, "Don't call me Mad Dog! I’m your father. You respect me, you shit!"
Lester apologized. "I'm sorry, daddy."
"I'll kick you so hard, you'll have another crack in your ass!"
Lester got crazy-eyed. "I said I was sorry!"
Mad Dog said, "Forget it, Lester, understand?"
Henry warily, silently watched these two.
Lester was contrite. "I'm just getting stir-crazy, that's all. "
Mad Dog backed off. "Hey, son, it's cool. "
Lester Rahler said, "Okay if I go down to the farm for tonight?"
Mad Dog, against his better judgment, said, "Yeah, sure. But nowhere else, understand?"
Lester told Henry, "Whenever you're ready, I'll follow you."
Without a word, Henry rose and walked towards his truck. Lester followed him, grinning like a fool back at his father.
Mad Dog stared after them, worried.
* * *
Rafferty entered a public phone booth near the beach in the touristy part of the island and dialed an 800-toll free number.
When someone answered on the other end, Rafferty said, "Rafferty here. Yes, I meet with him. He went native. Spacey as hell. I'm trying again tomorrow."
Then he hung up the phone.
* * *
That twilight Henry and Lester were at Henry's farm, a mobile home up on cement blocks and railroad ties, a propane tank in the front yard, some junkers in the weeds, chickens and hound dogs wandering loose. Lester was wired, edgy, pacing back and forth, while Henry sat quietly on the rundown porch.
"I'm going stir-crazy," Lester complained. Then, making up his mind, he said, "I'm going to town."
Henry said nothing.
Lester pulled off his grubby T-shirt, then washed his face and hands with a garden hose, then dried himself with his grubby T-shirt. He found a T-shirt in the back of his truck and slipped it on.
Seeing Henry watching him, Lester said, grabbing for his car keys, "Fuck you, old man. I need a woman."
* * *
The Pikake was a steak and lobster restaurant.
Rafferty met Jeremiah Quint and his wife Audrey at the bar.
Rafferty greeted them. "Aloha! I'm glad you both could make it."
Jeremiah Quint was brutally cold. "That's because you're buying dinner."
Rafferty ignored the jibe. "Shall we start with drinks?"
Jeremiah sneered. "On your expense account?"
Rafferty bought drinks at the front bar. He told the Quints, "I don't blame Jimmy for what happened. And I know Jimmy doesn't believe that, and I know you're helping him as best as you can. But Jimmy's not coping very well here. He needs the help you can't give him."
Jeremiah Quint was totally opposed. "My brother isn't crazy."
"I think Rafferty's right," Audrey said.
Jeremiah Quint was belligerent. "Jimmy stays here. He's my brother."
* * *
Tomo Oteas and Jack Draper were talking business in a back booth in the Pikake Lounge. Tomo, part Hawaiian and part Tahitian, was young, handsome and sexy, a broad-shouldered surfer in his early thirties. He wore a very beautiful, a very unique aloha shirt: the white bird of paradise against a flaming sunset. Jack Draper was a young white male in a black t-shirt and camouflage pants. He was short and slim, had slickbacked hair and a thin mustache. Last year part of his nose was shot off in a cocaine bust that went south. He was a son-of-a-bitch, a rotten bastard with a bad attitude.
"Tomo, when can I take delivery?"
Tomo considered before he spoke. "At least two weeks for the rest of the harvest, and another two weeks for it to dry. " He concluded, "At the end of the month, Jack."
"And how much are you asking for?"
* * *
Rafferty went for more drinks. While he waited at the bar, he turned to check out the restaurant’s clientele. He noticed in one of the back booths Tomo's very unique aloha shirt. He liked the design, thought about how he would enjoy wearing it in Washington. Then Rafferty saw Jeremiah Quint looking across the cocktail lounge. Rafferty saw Tomo Oreas and Jeremiah Quint making eye contact. He saw how both men flinched from that contact.
* * *
Jeremiah became galvanized. He told Audrey, "That man over there on the left. He's a cop."
Audrey stared at back booth. "Which one? Your left or their left?"
Jeremiah Quint stood. "Let's go, Audrey." When she failed to move, he became more excited. "C'mon, we gotta go!"
"But, honey --"
Jeremiah Quint pulled her arm. "We got to get going now!"
"As Isaiah wrote, ‘They are greedy dogs which can never have enough.’"
Audrey gave up and grabbed her belongings.
Jeremiah and Audrey left without saying good-byes to Rafferty.
Rafferty turned to watch the back booth. He stared at Tomo's very unique aloha shirt.
* * *
Draper stared at the Quints. "Who is he?"
"Jeremiah Quint," Tomo said. "A Bible-thumper. A big grower. Bigger than me. He grows real good shit." Tomo was unnerved. "It's bad luck seeing another grower when you're selling."
Draper was interested in Jeremiah Quint. "How much is he growing?"
"Maybe three hundred plants," Tomo said.
Draper was startled. "That many?"
"He probably sold already. Growers don't come to town until after they've sold."
* * *
Rafferty was embraced and kissed passionately by a young and very attractive Chinese woman. Rafferty was stunned. "Ginny?"
Ginny Hong squealed with delight. "Yes, yes, yes!"
They embraced, one-time lovers meeting after years apart.
Rafferty said, "What are you doing here?"
Ginny said, "I live here now."
"God, you look great!"
"Oh, Terry, I've missed you."
* * *
Draper and Tomo watched Rafferty and Ginny.
Draper eyed Ginny. "Small tits but a nice ass."
Tomo said, "The redheaded haole I don't know. That chick is Ginny Hong, and she's sleeping with Deputy Sheriff Eddie Ka’aina."
* * *
Ginny and Rafferty hovered together over Hawaiian drinks.
Rafferty said, "She was a combat instructor for the CIA. As you can guess, we got married for all the wrong reasons. All we did was fight. And yourself?"
Ginny was also rueful. "My divorce was ugly and nasty and messy. But I am getting married again. This December."
Rafferty was delighted. "Congratulations. We have to celebrate."
Ginny gathered her things. "I know a cheaper place to celebrate."
* * *
Draper and Tomo watched Rafferty and Ginny leave.
Tomo confided, "Jeremiah Quint's never been busted. I think I know why. He's been buying protection."
Draper was very interested hearing that news.
* * *
Rafferty and Ginny approached Ginny's vehicle in the Pikake Lounge parking lot. Ginny drove a bright white ambulance with "Ilima Chapel" stenciled on the doors.
Ginny unlocked the doors. "I'm still following in my father's footsteps."
Rafferty said, "How is he, anyway?"
Ginny hesitated. "He died six years ago. Mom, too."
They climbed into the ambulance.
Ginny said, "Mom and Dad were flying back from Kauai. He had a heart attack and the plane fell into the sea. No survivors."
"Ginny, I'm so very sorry for you."
Ginny started the car. "I gave them a lovely funeral."
As the ambulance left the parking lot, Ginny said, "What are you doing these days?"
Rafferty said, "Have you seen those newspaper stories that start out ‘Senate Investigators alleged that—?’ That's my beat. Washington, D.C."
"You’re a Senate investigator?" She was impressed.
Rafferty wouldn’t threaten a cover story.
The white ambulance drove uphill on a mainly deserted Hawaiian highway.
Ginny said, "What are you here for? Or can't you tell me?"
"Just here to see some people who live up in the hills. Seeing if the baby-sitter needs anything."
Ginny said, "Don't go prancing around in the hills too much. At least not alone, okay?" Seeing Rafferty puzzled, she said, "You could get shot, or—"
Rafferty joked, "Or worse?"
"Terry, this is harvest time. People forget everything else at harvest. They're got to get their crops in. And you don't just drop in on people. Even old friends."
"Marijuana, you mean? Is that stuff still going on?"
"Did you think it ever went away?"
"Ginny, you’re making me nostalgic. How much is it going for these days?"
Ginny was cold. "About three thousand dollars a pound."
Rafferty said, "That much!"
Ginny said, "Right now the paranoia is incredible. The growers are afraid to lose what they've worked so hard for. All it takes is a tourist from Japan, some backpacker from the Mainland—" She looked at Rafferty. "Some Washington, D.C., investigator wandering through the woods ... " She gestured out at the night. "These growers mauka, they'll shoot you right where you stand. And this haole is never heard from again."
"Mauka is a direction. It means towards the mountains. Makai means towards the sea. In Hawaii, you're either going mauka or makai."
"You make it sound like some voodoo curse in the movies," Rafferty said. In a stage voice he said, "If you go mauka, maybe you never come back."
Ginny said, "Maybe you not come back."
* * *
Rafferty and Ginny had tropical drinks in a side booth at Suszie’s Sugar Shack, a touristy nightclub whose trademark was a giant neon sign framed by palm trees. The club featured lanai seating, bamboo walls, flaming torches around a live fish pond, tourists and locals, and a good floor show.
Ginny raised her drink. "To old friends."
Rafferty raised his drink. "To old friends."
They clinked glasses and drank.
Deputy Sheriff Eddie Ka’aina, a big, burly Hawaiian in uniform, saw Rafferty and Ginny and joined them, sliding in beside Ginny. "Ginny?"
Ginny told Rafferty, "Terry, meet Eddie Ka’aina, my fiancee." Then she told Eddie, "And this is Terry Rafferty, an old friend from San Francisco."
Putting out his hand, Rafferty said, "I'm pleased to meet you."
Eddie ignored the hand and told Rafferty, with jealousy, "What are you doing here?"
Ginny said, "Eddie!"
The sudden tension could be cut with a knife.
"A business trip," Rafferty said. "I'm only here for a few days."
Eddie told Ginny, "I recognize him from the old photos."
Ginny asked, "How's tonight going?"
Eddie threatened Rafferty, "Stay away from Ginny. We're getting married."
A noisier row across the room broke the tension.
An angry, half-drunk Lester Rahler, beer bottle in hand, stood near a round table, at which five young women were sitting, several who wore nurse's uniforms. Cheryl Park, one of the nurses, a pretty young Korean woman, was the bone of contention, and the other women were encircling her, protecting her. A large plate glass window was behind their table.
A very thin, blonde and beautiful woman stood between the circle of women and Lester. She wore an aloha shirt identical to the one Tomo Oteas had been wearing earlier, again the white bird of paradise against a flaming sunset.
Lester Rahler told Nora, "I want to talk with her outside."
Nora stood up to him. "She doesn't want to. You better leave, Lester."
Lester said, "Nora, she can tell me herself outside."
* * *
As Eddie left their booth, Ginny told Rafferty, "That's Lester Rahler. He's poison. The blonde is Nora Buchanan. She's the Sheriff's sister-in-law."
A beer bottle crashed at Nora's feet, startling everyone.
Lester stood in the aisle, empty-handed, glaring at Nora.
Nora was livid. "You stupid shit!"
Lester punched Nora in the nose. She fell to the floor.
Nora sat on the floor, blood coming from her nose, and a glazed look in her eye.
Eddie grabbed Lester's shoulder to spin him around.
Lester went berserk. He barreled at the deputy, carried the deputy, and using their combined momentum, threw them both against the plate glass window. The window shattered, and the deputy's head and shoulders crashed against the large hole that appeared.
People cried, screamed, hollered and cursed. Chairs were toppled, tipped over. A pitcher of margaritas crashed to the floor.
Lester had the deputy sprawled on his back, his neck hanging over the edge of the broken glass window. Lester pushed down on the deputy, trying to saw off the deputy's neck with what was left of the window. The deputy choked, flailed his arms, and his neck splattered blood.
Rafferty and Ginny, on their feet, shoved their way through the onlookers, Ginny falling behind.
Lester was on a rampage, trying to choke the deputy, slice his throat, to kill him with a broken window. But the deputy's shirt collar was up, it covered most of his neck, protected it from most of the glass. Still, blood in great gobs was splashed around.
Lester planted a knee on the deputy's chest, then tried hopping on his chest, jumping up and down, screaming, "Die, fucker, die!"
Broken glass cracked beneath the deputy’s collar.
Rafferty grabbed a pitcher of margaritas and with a roundhouse swing smacked Lester in the head. The glass cracked apart, and Lester ricocheted away from the bleeding deputy. Rafferty went after Lester with the broken pitcher, Lester backed off, threw a chair in Rafferty's path, then took off through the hole in the window.
Rafferty followed Lester through the broken window. Rafferty saw Lester leaping onto a parked car. Lester kept moving, across the parked car, then he jumped onto the roof of a station wagon coming down the street. Then he was across the street and running away.
Rafferty was left standing on the sidewalk.
* * *
Lester Rahler ran like a deer through the streets and the night. His head was back, his nostrils flaring, the adrenaline coursing through him. After moments, he slowed, then stopped. His chest heaved from the effort. Aching, in pain, he leaned up against a telephone pole to catch his wind. Most of his clothes were splattered with blood and booze.
Lester's eyes were crazed. After a moment, he started laughing hysterically, from the sheer joy that came when trouble explodes around him, but then his laughter died off. Then, grimly determined, he looked back at where he came.
* * *
Rafferty brought the ambulance up by the front door of Suszie’s Sugar Shack, got out and opened the rear hatch, just as Nora, Ginny and Cheryl Park were helped outside with a folding-chair-used-as-a-stretcher carrying Eddie.
Eddie Ka’aina was dying. As the women used cocktail napkins as makeshift bandages, his neck wounds looked sliced, blood was pulsing out in waves, and his eyes were lolling around like loose marbles.
Ginny was worried. She said to Rafferty, "He's lost a lot of blood."
Rafferty helped them get the stretcher inside and said, "If there's anything I can do—"
Nora was impatient. "Are you a doctor?" Then she eased up. "I'm a nurse, and Ginny's a paramedic." She told Ginny, "Ginny, you get in first."
Ginny told Rafferty, "You're driving." As she climbed into the back of the ambulance, she added, "County General. Just follow this highway downhill. As fast as you can."
"If you need blood for transfusions," Rafferty told Nora, "I'm a universal donor."
Nora was not impressed. She helped Cheryl Park inside. "Great!" Then she climbed in after the other woman. "But let's go, let's go!"
As Nora slammed the hatch, Rafferty ran and jumped in behind the driver's seat. He slammed it into gear.
The white ambulance drove fast down the highway, its lights flashing, its siren wailing. The ambulance screeched around one tight corner after another.
Inside Rafferty was the model of concentration as the road sped by. He drove like a man possessed.
The highway went down in sweeping curves. The ambulance handled switchbacks and S-curves and hairpin curves on its way down from the mountains.
Rafferty found the driving was a blur.
He heard Ginny call his name.
He stepped on the gas.
The rain started, a ferocity of raindrops much like hailstones.
Rafferty flicked on the wipers. The sleeting rain befuddled the wipers and Rafferty lost all visibility in the blurry windshield.
Ginny said, "Terry!"
Rafferty arched his back and stood on the gas pedal. Rain drizzled outside the ambulance.
The highway glistened with rain and flooding ditches. The ambulance almost struck a deer on the road.
Momentarily startled, Rafferty knuckled down over the steering wheel and glared out at the road unfolding ahead.
Ginny said, "Please!"
The highway leveled off into the valley. The ambulance flashed past a sheriff's patrol car that had left the road, having heard the ambulance coming. Then the ambulance ran a red light inside the city limits. Then the neon lights of the hospital EMERGENCY appeared.
The ambulance pulled in and alongside the emergency entrance.
Rafferty parked, then ran back and opened up the hatch. Nora jumped out, followed by Ginny. They hauled out the makeshift stretcher carrying Eddie Ka’aina.
Nora said, "Rafferty, are you still offering to give blood?"
* * *
That evening Tomo Oteas arrived back at his grandfather's farmhouse, meeting Henry on the side porch. Tomo stood there, smiling slyly, but not saying a word.
"Did you make a deal?" Henry asked.
Tomo grinned. "Yeah, grandpa! We get almost three grand a dried pound!"
Henry had his breath taken away in awe. The two started laughing, jabbing each other in the ribs.
Tomo said, "How 'bout a little Gatorade and bourbon maybe?"
They laughed together and started pouring drinks.
Sheriff Charles Hartman arrived at the emergency room in time to see one of his deputies interviewing Rafferty, who was donating blood and lying on a gurney. The Sheriff took over.
Hartman said, "I understand you broke up the fight, Mister ... ?"
Rafferty said, "Terry Rafferty, a friend of Ginny Hong's."
Hartman stared at the blood bag by Rafferty's arm. "Do you know who attacked my deputy?"
"Ginny said his name was Lester," Rafferty said. "I don't remember if she said his last name."
"You're positive she called him Lester?"
The deputy said, "Her description matches ours."
Hartman told Rafferty, "Any idea where he is now?"
The deputy spoke. "I think Lester and his father work for Tomo Oteas."
Hartman told the deputy, "Call Dispatch, have her call all the men on tomorrow's Strike Force, tell them to be at the Ilima substation within thirty minutes in full gear." He faced Rafferty. "Thank you for what you've done."
Then he turned and left the waiting room.
Rafferty said, "Who was he?"
"Sheriff Charles Hartman."
Rafferty watched his blood draining from his arm into the blood bag.
* * *
Rafferty and Ginny waited outside the emergency room. Ginny was a nervous wreck. Nora came out.
Ginny was almost in tears. "Can I see him now?"
Exhausted, Nora shook her head, just as Sheriff Hartman re-entered the room. He saw Nora, they both looked away, and then the Sheriff left without saying a word. Then Nora left.
Rafferty said, "They're in-laws?"
Ginny said, "They used to be in-laws." She couldn’t stop worrying. "God, I hate this waiting."
Rafferty put his arm around Ginny who rested her head on his shoulder.
* * *
Henry and his grandson Tomo were under a porch light behind their mobile home, drinking and talking about the future. Suddenly the thunder of approaching helicopters startled them.
Tomo heard them first. "Helicopters!"
Henry took up his shotgun. "Run for it!"
Night became noon, as spotlights came angling down on the mobile home. Henry fired both barrels at the night sky, blowing out one of the spotlights. Flashing police lights and police sirens filled the darkness. Henry and Tomo ran off into what remained of the darkness. Patrol cars came sweeping up the drive and the helicopters began landing. Men and their weapons lept from their vehicles and fanned out like commandos taking a town.
Sheriff Hartman stood forth as leader of the operation.
Within moments, the raid was over. Some deputies brought a handcuffed Henry Oteas to Sheriff Hartman.
Henry growled at them, "I'm a senior citizen, dammit. Take it easy!"
"Hello, Henry," said the sheriff.
"Hello, Sheriff," Henry said.
A deputy approached carrying Henry's shotgun.
The deputy said, "He's the one who fired the shot at us, Sheriff."
"I was defending myself," Henry said.
Hartman said, "Henry, you're under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon and for interfering with a police officer."
"What's that gonna cost me, Sheriff?" Henry asked.
Hartman shrugged. "A thousand dollars bail. You can be arraigned in the morning and be home by noon."
Henry was relieved. "Oh, that's not bad."
Another deputy came up with various stolen property, including a color television and power tools. He told the Sheriff, "Serial numbers match some stolen items."
Hartman was impressed. He told Henry, "Henry, you're under arrest for theft charges, too."
Henry was outraged. "What!"
Hartman amended that. "Receiving stolen property."
Henry was hardly mollified. Still, he said, "Thank you, Sheriff."
Hartman agreed. "Henry, I can't picture you sneaking through somebody's house in the dead of night carrying off their television."
Deputies looked through the mobile home and found marijuana for personal use, some cocaine, a fifty pound bale of dried marijuana, weapons and ammunition, firecrackers and food stamps.
"Only the food stamps are mine, " Henry said.
"Book him with receiving stolen property, cultivation and possession with intent to sell, and unlicensed guns, too," Hartman said.
"Damn!" Henry told himself.
* * *
Lester drove back from the beach, drinking bourbon right from the bottle and eating an orange without peeling it, taking bites from it as if it were an apple.
He saw a mass of red and white lights up ahead and slowed his truck to gawk. The Sheriff's department had the Oteas driveway blocked off. Various deputies wandered around.
A truck behind Lester's van blew its horn because Lester had slowed.
Lester, outraged, slammed on his brakes.
The truck almost slammed into Lester's red brake lights.
Forsaking his other duties, one of the deputies approached Lester's van.
Lester watched as the deputy approached, and had his shotgun cradled in his lap. Lester cocked both barrels and raised it towards the window.
The deputy didn't look inside the truck. He told Lester, waving him on,
The deputy turned away before Lester had to shoot him. Lester slammed the gear lever down and drove off.
* * *
One light was on at the Quint house.
Jeremiah Quint was playing gospel spirituals on a church piano in the family room, while his wife Audrey stood in a doorway, her arms folded, a bathrobe wrapped around her.
Audrey Quint said, "Are you staying up all night?"
She moved closer, as Jeremiah never stopped playing his piano.
Jeremiah said, "They're going to bust me tomorrow, Audrey."
"Jeremiah, why did you clear out all your guns?"
"They're going bust me tomorrow, Audrey."
"You keep saying that."
"No bullshit," said Jeremiah.
"This time I'm sure of it. When I saw Tomo Oteas talking with that undercover cop—" Jeremiah frowned. "We weren't supposed to see them together. I saw it in his eyes. Tomo's helping them."
"Jeremiah, how did you know that man was a cop? Who told you?"
Jeremiah warned her, "Don't poke fun of me, Audrey."
"Seriously. If he was undercover, how did you know it?"
He quoted the Old Testmant, saying, "For among my people are found wicked men: They lay wait as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men."
"Jeremiah," she said absently.
"You just knew it, was that it?" Audrey was suddenly very angry. "How many nights are you going to sit around in the dark waiting, waiting, waiting—"
"They're coming tomorrow morning," Jeremiah Quint insisted.
Audrey backed off, calmer. "Did you call the lawyer?"
Jeremiah looked up. "Yes. Anything else?"
Audrey hesitated. "Is the money safe?"
Jeremiah said, "Safe enough. " He promised her, "They won't find it."
"Why did you move out your guns?"
"They weren't all registered," said Jeremiah.
Audrey hugged herself as if suddenly cold. Then she slapped the piano with both hands very loudly to get her husband's undivided attention. Jeremiah stopped playing the piano.
Audrey was angry. "When does this all stop? All this bullshit and deceit and fear. I want to be honest again."
"Poor but honest?"
"Yes!" Audrey became more excited. "I never want to be this scared ever again!
Jeremiah had resumed playing the piano, but Audrey slammed her hands down on the piano top again. She was outraged.
"You shit you shit you shit! I got little babies asleep upstairs, and the Sheriff's Strike Force is going to bust us in the morning!"
Jeremiah Quint kept playing his piano. "Go to your sister's house."
Audrey considered it. "Maybe I should. Why should I watch you get busted?"
"I don't want you to stay," said Jeremiah.
"Will you come with me?"
Jeremiah Quint was determined. "No."
"Stay out of it, Audrey!"
Audrey stared at her husband as she made up her mind. "I'm going to bed now."
"Goodnight, honey," said Jeremiah.
"Come to bed soon. We've got a busy day tomorrow."
"Okay, honey," said Jeremiah.
They kissed good night.
Audrey left Jeremiah playing the piano alone.
He quoted the Old Testament again, this time saying, "Her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones until the morrow."
He leaned back, closed his eyes, and played his piano for God alone.
* * *
Up on a ridge in the foothills Mad Dog sat in his underpants by his truck, drinking bourbon by the glow of his portable television set. He watched as headlights drove up towards him. Mad Dog took up his shotgun and holstered .357 pistol and waited. Tomo parked a stolen truck and stormed across the ridge to Mad Dog. Seeing Tomo, Mad Dog relaxed.
But Tomo was pissed off. "You, mother-fucker, you!"
Mad Dog was lost. "Hey, Tomo, what for?"
"My farm got busted, my grandfather got busted, and there's a warrant out for me!" Tomo jabbed a finger at Mad Dog. "Because of you, you mother-fucker you, I can't go home again!"
Mad Dog got as mad. "Okay, Tomo, so what the hell you gonna do next?"
Tomo mourned. "What the hell am I gonna do?"
Mad Dog passed him the bourbon. They passed the bottle back and forth often, drinking deeply, getting intoxicated.
Mad Dog said, "Maybe somebody snitched on us."
Tomo stiffened. "You think so?"
Mad Dog became suspicious. "Maybe. Maybe somebody did."
Tomo had a flash. "That haole Quint—" He drank before speaking. "Jeremiah Quint and some redheaded haole and Ginny Hong the undertaker all together in the Pikake Lounge." He had another flash. "And she's fucking that resident deputy Ka’aina - " He then concluded, "If I had known it sooner ... "
Mad Dog was disgusted. "What would you have done, Tomo?"
They watched Lester park his truck and approach them. Tomo and Mad Dog passed Lester the bottle, and he joined in with the heavy drinking. The bottle was in constant motion.
Tomo said bitterly, to Lester, "Mother-fuck you, too, mother-fucker!"
"Hey, mother-fuck you, too," Lester said. "Whose truck is that?"
"I stole it," Tomo said. "Only way I could get up here because you and your kid fucked me over."
Mad Dog told Lester, "The Sheriff busted the farm tonight."
Lester was stunned. "The grass there is gone?"
Tomo outraged. "Hey, fucker, my grandfather's in jail because of you fuckers."
Mad Dog corrected Lester. "We didn't lose our crop, Lester, just part of it. We still got the garden and what's drying up at the shack."
Tomo asked Lester, "Is that blood on your shirt?"
"Some deputy attacked me in a bar," Lester said.
Mad Dog was losing patience with his son. "What did you do to him?"
Lester honestly didn't know. "I was putting the moves on some chick, and the fucker just attacked me, and all I did was break free and come up here." He crossed his heart. "Honest Injun."
Tomo asked Lester, "Who was it?"
"That big Hawaiian from down in Ilima. Eddie Ka’aina."
"Maybe this is part of the set-up against us," Tomo said. "This Ka’aina is the one fucking the undertaker woman."
Lester said, "She was with him at Suzsie's Sugar Shack."
Tomo said, "She was down at the Pikake earlier with some redheaded haole who was with Jeremiah Quint even earlier."
"Some redheaded guy." Lester said, "I bet it was him at the Sugar Shack, too."
Mad Dog said, "See, there you go." He bitched. "Jeremiah Quint set us up."
"Let's go get him," Lester said.
"How you gonna do that?" Tomo asked.
Lester asked, "Have we blown the deal with that lawyer from Hilo?"
Tomo looked blankly at him. "Jack Draper? Sure. We got no dope to deliver."
Lester said, "We gotta have a crop to sell, right? So we hit Quint and we take his crop."
Tomo didn’t get it. "But he sold already, got his money already."
Mad Dog said, "Let's go get his money."
"We oughta," Lester said.
Tomo was lost in drunkenness. "Why?"
Lester said, "Hey, he fucked us!" Then he roared with anger. "Fuck him!"
Tomo could be just as rowdy. "Fuck him dead!"
* * *
A blood-red sunrise rose over the island.
Rafferty drove his rental with its sunroof open fast down a country dirt road alive with ruts and rocks. He reveled in the warmth of the islands.
But as Rafferty drove closer to the Quint house, with one hand on the wheel, he closed the sunroof.
When he saw red reflector tape wrapped around two palm trees on either flank of a side road, Rafferty spun the steering wheel hard and drove his car off the main dirt road onto this side road. He started tooting his horn madly.
Rafferty drove down the side road past the posted sign that read "KAPU. NO TRESPASSING."
The road made a half-turn, then swung right and began climbing again. At the Quint house Rafferty left his rental encircled by peacocks who were screaming horribly enough to curdle blood. Rafferty walked towards the Quint family home, then saw both pit bull terriers were dead, shotgunned.
Rafferty ran towards the farmhouse. He found Jeremiah Quint dead by the screen door. Still wearing yesterday's clothes, Jeremiah had been shot twice. Once in the small of his back, and then the back of his head has been blown off. A handgun was in the dirt beside him.
The side door had a shotgun hole, and the locks had been blown off.
The door had been kicked in.
"Audrey!" Rafferty called.
Desperately, Rafferty raced upstairs and into the master bedroom. Audrey Quint and her baby were dead in an upstairs closet, both shot with a single blast from a shotgun.
In the next room, the children’s room, Rafferty found Summertime, the retarded child, dead in his pajamas near his bedroom window.
Rafferty was filled with horror and anguish.
He fell back against the wall and let the pain flood him.
Then, hearing a door downstairs slam shut, Rafferty ran to the stairs and took them three at a time.
Rafferty met Jimmy Quint in the kitchen. Jimmy was weeping, bawling his anguish. Jimmy wore only cut-offs and tennis shoes. He held a hand gun limp in one hand.
Rafferty spoke with studied calm. "Jimmy, it's me, Terry Rafferty."
Jimmy shouted, "Oh, Jesus, oh, Jesus, oh, God!"
Jimmy jerked his hand at Rafferty, began firing his hand gun at Rafferty. Rafferty hit the floor, while Jimmy kept firing. The noises from the gun were drowned out by Jummy’s howls. Plaster exploded from the kitchen walls above and around Rafferty, and yet no bullets came near him.
Rafferty screamed, "Jimmy! Stop! Stop!"
But Jimmy Quint didn't know Rafferty was there. Rafferty threw himself sideways and backwards, started rolling, and hid behind the kitchen table. A bullet singed his scalp, and blood started down his forehead.
Rafferty cried, "Jimmy!"
Jimmy woke, realized he had shot at Rafftery, and was horrified with himself. He made a choking sound, then started howling like a ghoul. He ran from the kitchen. The screen door slammed behind him.
Rafferty raced outside after Jimmy and saw him disappearing into the woods behind the house. A great throbbing, rumbling noise of helicopters overhead began, while the airwash clouded his eyes.
The loudspeaker said, "Attention, this is the Sheriff's Department. Come outside with your hands on top of your heads. You are under arrest. Do not resist. Throw down your weapons and come outside. Attention, this is the Sheriff's Department. You are under arrest—"
Surprised and caught off-guard, Rafferty watched as the helicopters approached and descended, while their noise hammered the air. Meanwhile several jeep wagons painted in county Sheriff's colors raced up the drive and fishtailed through the dust and stopped in front of Rafferty, their sirens wailing and their bar lights flashing. A raiding party of a dozen men in army fatigues and carrying AR-16s hit the Quint house, fanned out commando style and went off looking for trouble.
Jack Draper aimed his AR-16 at Rafferty and flashed a billfold badge and photo ID. "Jack Draper, Special Agent, Drug Enforcement Agency! Freeze!
Rafferty looked as if he had been hit with a brick wall. "DEA? What are you doing here? This is a homicide."
Draper shoved Rafferty, grabbed his arms, jammed them up behind Rafferty's back, while twisting them backwards, then pushed Rafferty face first against the house.
Draper said, "Up against the wall, mother-fucker!"
Rafferty's face smacked the side of the house.
"Spread 'em!" Draper said.
Draper kicked Rafferty's heels apart, then frisked him crudely, vulgarly. Rafferty got pissed and took the AR-16 away from him. Draper lunged at him and knocked the gun from Rafferty's hands. Rafferty tried hand-chopping Draper's neck, but Draper defected Rafferty's chop. Draper tried throwing Rafferty against the wall, and Rafferty sidestepped and punched Draper's face. He tried throttling Rafferty, and Rafferty kicked his right kneecap, then used judo to get him off-balanced, then jammed his knuckles into his kidneys. Draper smacked Rafferty in the neck with the edge of his hand, and Rafferty kicked him in the soft spot behind the uninjured kneecap of his left leg. Draper forearmed Rafferty, then rammed Rafferty's head several times against the house. Then Rafferty jabbed a thumb in Draper's eye.
Behind them another helicopter landed, disgorging Sheriff Charles Hartman, who approached the battle with a bemused expression.
Rafferty grabbed the Special Agent's crotch, twisted sharply, then elbowed the soft flesh of Draper's neck, then smacked his other fist into Draper's testicles.
Sheriff Hartman made a gesture, and a half-dozen deputies pulled Draper and Rafferty apart.
Rafferty threatened Draper. "If you ever fuck with me again like that, I'll kill you!"
Draper coughed and choked. "Read him his rights and throw him in jail!"
Hartman grinned at Rafferty. "Professional street-fighter, eh?" He gestured at Rafferty's wounded forehead, and Rafferty touched it. His fingers came back bloody. His scalp had been creased by Jimmy's stray shot.
Sheriff Hartman examined the wound. "You'll live. But you won't enjoy it." He sobered. "You're being taken into custody for questioning.
Some deputies came running up from the Quint house.
The first deputy was nearly hyper-ventilating. "The whole family got slaughtered, Sheriff!"
The second deputy was as badly shaken. "It's a massacre, Sheriff. There's blood all over."
Hartman took command. "Get the lab team out here right now. I want that house sealed off. Call Doctor Deanna Wu, tell her she's needed. Also, call the county coroner's office and get the M.E. out here." He faced Rafferty. "We'll get to you. Don’t go away."
* * *
Later Sheriff Hartman and the lab chief Doctor Deanna Wu toured the scene of the crime, while dozens of lab technicians and deputies sketched, measured, diagrammed and photographed around them.
The two reached the screen door where the body of Jeremiah Quint was. Now there was only a splotch of blood to mark the spot.
Doctor Wu said, "One of them reloaded here. We found an unfired shell. As we figure it, he was reloading his weapon—there are ejection scratches on the casing—and he jammed the shell in back assward."
Hartman said, "Forensics can't match shotgun shells, Deanna."
"No, but we can match marks made in loading and extracting the shells, if you can locate the shotgun used here."
"A shotgun shell, and all you need is the shotgun it was jammed into?"
Doctor Wu nodded. "The dead man was shotgunned twice, struck in the back and again in the left side of his face. Also, there are machete marks on his face after he fell to the ground."
"Ambushed when he stepped outside?"
Doctor Wu corrected him. "He got one shot off with his handgun before they got him."
"Good for him."
"We think one of them was hit." Doctor Wu pointed to another blood stain in the dirt.
Hartman called for a deputy and told her, "Get on the horn to Dispatch, alert all medical units, emergency rooms, County General, be on the lookout for any gunshot victims."
Then Hartman and Doctor Wu toured the kitchen.
Hartrman pointed out the gunshot holes in the kitchen walls. "Any other room like this?"
Doctor Wu took Sheriff Hartman upstairs and through the master bedroom. "Two dead in this closet. First he blew a hole through the door, then he opened the door and fired the other barrel at extreme close range."
Hartman was horrified. "Oh my God!"
"She was shot once under the right arm. She raised her arm to defend herself and to protect her baby."
Hartman interrupted her. "The second man got so pissed at his partner getting hit, he went inside the house and wasted anyone and everyone he could find."
Doctor Wu said sadly, "That's how I figured it."
Then Hartman and Doctor Wu went in the children’s bedroom.
Doctor Wu said, "The boy made it to the rear window. Trying to make his escape—"
Hartman was hoarse. "Those miserable stinking lowlife dirty dogs!’
* * *
Inside Jeremiah Quint's safe house, which stood on neighboring property, Jimmy Quint broke a window was broken with a rock. Jimmy Quint, who was still grieving and weeping, broke into the safe house and went directly to a floorboard that he ripped up. Under the floorboard were several weapons. Jimmy Quint took up handfuls of ammunition, several automatic pistols and a mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, then left the way he came.
* * *
Sheriff Hartman sat with Terry Rafferty at the Quint kitchen table. Special Agent Jack Draper stood behind them by the sink. Sheriff Hartman was reading Rafferty's identification in his wallet.
Hartman said, "What's an investigator from Washington doing here?"
Rafferty said, "I'll tell you in private."
Draper was angry. "Bullshit! He's a buyer from the Mainland."
Repulsed by the DEA agent’s paranoia, Rafferty asked Hartman, "Is he always this hyper?"
Hartman said, "Jeremiah Quint was a grower. You were seen meeting with him last night."
Draper told Rafferty, "You're the only one alive here now."
Rafferty told Hartman, "Call the Senator. He'll vouch for me."
Thoughtfully, Sheriff Hartman left the table and picked up the telephone on the counter.
* * *
Nora Buchanan answered the knocking at her back door. She watched as Mad Dog and Lester carried the semiconscious Tomo Oteas inside her apartment. His bloodied shirt was matted against his wound, his eyes were closed and his head rolled around.
Nora was horrified, crushed, agonized. "Tomo!"
Mad Dog said, "Where do you want him, Nora?"
Nora said, "In my bed."
Nora followed them and watched Mad Dog and Lester place Tomo on her bed. She examined him and then discovered how bad his wound was.
"He got shot by raiders," Lester said.
Nora said, "He has to go to County General."
Lester punched Nora in the head. She staggered sideways, nearly fell. He punched her again. This time she hit the floor. Mad Dog stopped him from kicking her in the face.
Mad Dog spoke calmly to Nora. "We'll get you whatever you need, Nora, but he'll get well here in your apartment."
Lester threatened Nora. "Understand, bitch?"
Nora told Mad Dog, "Get him out of my apartment."
Lester tried to punch her again, but Mad Dog stopped him.
Mad Dog said, "That's enough, Lester."
Nora caught on. "Oh god, what did you get Tomo into?"
Mad Dog said, "The Sheriff busted his grandfather's farm, busted all his dope, his grandfather, too, and shot up Tomo here."
Nora was stung. "You crazy—"
Lester went to punch her again. She ducked.
Mad Dog said, "Go wait in the truck, Lester."
Snarling, Lester left the room.
Mad Dog told Nora, "Don't come between me and my son. It won't work."
Helpless against this crazy logic, Nora reexamined Tomo's wounds.
Nora said, "In the bathroom under the sink there's a cardboard box marked with a red cross."
Nora heard a gun cocked. She saw Mad Dog had his gun at her head.
Mad Dog warned her, "I will kill you if you try taking him to the hospital. Understand?"
Nora was desperate. Worse, she was powerless.
* * *
Terry Rafferty and Sheriff Hartman sat at a picnic table beneath a flame tree in Quint’s back yard. Rafferty now sported a bandage.
Hartman said, "Where'd you learn to fight like that?"
Rafferty was stone-faced. "I was married to a CIA combat instructor. We divorced, but not before she had taught me more than I wanted to know about hand to-hand combat."
Hartman was cold and disbelieving. "What are you doing here?"
Rafferty lied, saying, "The Senator asked me to look in on one of his former employees, find out if and when he can return to work. He's been staying with his older brother here, and his brother's wife and their kids."
"What's he doing in Hawaii?"
Rafferty admitted, "He had a nervous collapse."
Hartman said, "What's his name?"
"James Sebastian Quint," Rafferty said.
"Where is he right now?"
"I don't know. He was living in a tent by a waterfall in Wild Banana Gulch."
"Do you think James Sebastian Quint could have done this?"
Rafferty was emphatic. "No, Jimmy's the gentlest man I've ever met. Besides, more than one person had a hand in this."
"Why say that?"
"Jeremiah Quint got at least one shot off before somebody else came up and blasted him in the back. There's a fresh bloodstain eight yards away from him."
"Tell me about Jimmy Quint going nuts with a gun in the kitchen."
"How did you know?"
"We got eleven holes in the plaster made by a weapon that wasn't used anywhere else in the house."
Rafferty said, "Jimmy found his family massacred, he was in shock, started jerking the trigger at anything, and it just happened to be me."
"He's a lousy shot," said Hartman.
Rafferty agreed, saying, "Thank God."
Hartman was pensive. "You know, I don't care about dopers killing dopers—in some ways that's the best of all possible worlds—but when they start killing women and children—"
As Special Agent Draper approached, Hartman asked, "Any drugs in the house?"
Draper would not concede defeat. "If there isn't any, that's because the killers got it." He glared at Rafferty.
* * *
The Strike Force and Rafferty followed overhead electric wires over a hillside to what looked like an abandoned chicken coop covered with army surplus camouflage netting.
The chicken coop was actually three buildings in one.
In the first part they discovered Jeremiah's research laboratory. The deputies found some bookshelves, chairs and a desk, drug paraphernalia, photo albums, weight scales, records and labels, marijuana manuals, plant food and Jeremiah's seed bank. His seed bank was a tackle box, with each drawer labeled and filled with seeds from all over the world.
Behind his laboratory they found a greenhouse with two-inch starter planters, some mature plants in two-foot plastic pails, and a patch of seven footers in gravel-filled tubs. The coop also held cultivation gear. There were gardening tools, rodent traps, pesticides, camouflage paint, irrigation pipes, and chlordane.
Lastly, the Strike Force found a weapons stash, including Uzis, shotguns, pistols and hand grenades, in the storage space in the rear of the coop.
Hartman, awed, told Rafferty, "He wasn't the biggest grower on the island. Just the best."
Draper approached. "We found his garden."
Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty exchanged looks.
* * *
The Strike Force and Rafferty came over a hillside and discovered where Jeremiah Quint's marijuana garden had been. Now there were only the several hundred stumps left behind from harvesting. Everyone wandered aimlessly, until Sheriff Hartman gestured to his men to fan out and looked around. Deputies went off in all directions
Jimmy Quint squatted in the bushes, fiddling with his brother's semi-automatic rifle, when three prowling deputies came face to-face with him. Startled, Jimmy fired his rifle at their direction. The deputies hit the dust, drawing their weapons, while Jimmy took off running.
The Strike Force heard the rifle shot. Sheriff Hartman sent Draper and several deputies after the shooter.
Jimmy Quint ran through the woods. The three deputies fired after him, then ran after him. Draper and the deputies crashed through the underbrush. They made much noise.
* * *
Draper approached Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty. "He got away, Sheriff.
Rafferty said, "What did he look like?"
Draper said, "Sunburned, skinny and hairy."
Rafferty said, "Jimmy Quint."
Hartman was amused. "He's still a lousy shot."
Rafferty was not amused.
* * *
Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty walked to a Sheriff's Department helicopter. A bumper sticker on the runner read "If you can read this, you're too close." Alice Taylor, the pilot, waited there. With man-hungry eyes, she looked Rafferty over, practically licking her lips over him.
Alice gave him her best smile. "I'm Alice Taylor. What's your name?"
"Rafferty. Just Rafferty."
They all climbed into the chopper, Rafferty beside the pilot, and Hartman in the back. After a minute of warm-up, the helicopter leaped straight up into the air. The pilot spun the tail 360 degrees and flew off fast.
The helicopter skimmed the treetops at full speed. Inside Rafferty and Sheriff Hartman watched the landscape zipping under them. All wore headphones.
Rafferty realized Alice kept turning her head to look at him. In fact, she was paying more attention to Rafferty than to the sky ahead of them.
Alice told Rafferty, "I've got tomorrow afternoon off. I'd love to spend it with you. How about lunch and drinks?"
Sheriff Hartman was surprised and bemused.
"I’ll have to see what tomorrow brings," Rafferty said.
Alice seemed temporarily satisfied.
The helicopter skimmed over the treetops at full speed.
Alice told Rafferty, "Have you ever made love in a helicopter?"
Before Rafferty could answer, the chopper shuddered and bucked, and Alice goosed the stick. Then the chopper roared ahead.
Rafferty and Sheriff Hartman watched Alice flying.
Rafferty looked over his shoulder. "Is she always like this?"
"Only when she's flying. She's worse driving a car."
Alice looked back. "Did you say you wanted to walk?"
* * *
The Sheriff's car drove uphill in backcountry Hawaii.
Rafferty said, "Where are we going now?"
Hartman said, "Paula Grayson. Audrey Quint's sister."
Sheriff Hartman parked his car in Paula Grayson's driveway. Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty left the car and walked towards the house.
Paula Grayson, a housewife in her early twenties who wore braces on her teeth, saw them coming and stepped from the house to meet them. "Sheriff?"
Hartman said, "May we come in?"
Reluctantly, Paula Grayson let them inside her house.
Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty took turns telling Paula Grayson what happened to her sister and her family. She was horrified and anguished.
Paula disbelieved. "All of them?"
Hartman said, "Yes.
Paula wept and told the heavens above, "God help me!"
Hartman told Paula, "We need somebody to identify the bodies."
Paula wept and hugged herself.
* * *
Tomo Oteas lay in Nora's bed in her bedroom, pale and sweating, his body shuddering. Nora sat on the edge of the bed reading a thermometer. Henry Oteas stood near, not knowing what he could do, but waiting to help out.
Nora said, "He needs blood, Henry. Antibiotics, too."
"I give him my blood, " Henry said.
Nora was skeptical. "What's your blood type?"
Henry dug out his wallet and a dog-eared Red Cross card. Nora read the card, then shook her head.
"You're not his blood type," Nora said. "Neither am I."
Tomo stirred and whimpered. His eyes opened; he saw Henry and Nora hovering. Tomo said with great difficulty, "Peacocks—"
Henry was horrified. He told Nora, "I heard about the raid in jail. Jeremiah Quint's whole family got wiped out. Massacred. Even the children." With great difficulty, he said, "They had peacocks for watchdogs."
Nora didn’t understand what Henry was saying.
"I didn't connect it—" Henry said.
Tomo opened his eyes again. He was conscious and more aware. Seeing Nora, he said, "Nora?" And smiled as best as he could.
Nora said, "Tomo, were you at Jeremiah Quint's this morning?"
Tomo couldn’t hear her through with the pain. "I got shot—shot by that haole Quint."
"Tomo, did you shot anybody?"
Tomo shook his head.
Henry said, "Tomo, did you see anybody shoot anybody?"
Tomo shook his head. He whispered, "I'm sorry, honey. I got drunk and stupid."
Henry and Nora caught on; they were horrified.
Nora howled: "No! No!"
* * *
Yee’s Place was a roadside restaurant specializing in family style Chinese food. Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty ate Chinese lunch together.
Hartman said, "Jimmy Quint's no longer in Wild Banana Gulch.
Rafferty said, "How many other gulches are there?
"What made him go native?"
"About six months ago he met a woman in Washington and they fell in love. Three days later they got married," Rafferty said. "So off they went on their honeymoon. Off to the South of France. One morning they got up early, felt like going for a swim. A rip tide took her. He tried to save her, but she drowned. Jimmy's life crashed around him. He came here to hide out."
Sheriff Hartman was abruptly cold and distant. "A heart-breaker. Am I s'posed to believe it?"
"She was my ex-wife."
Hartman believed Rafferty, then grunted. "Now I feel stupid."
"Jimmy thinks I blame him for it," Rafferty said. "That he failed to save her. But I don't. And that's why I have to help him. To prove that to him. Any word on Eddie Ka’aina yet?"
"He's better. But he still has a long way to go.
"And his assailant?"
"Lester Rahler. He's still out there somewhere." Hartman was pensive.
"His father they call the Mad Dog."
"Nobody calls themselves Mad Dog unless they expect to be shot dead in the streets."
"Mad Dog got his name in the Oahu State Penitentiary. One of those classic hand-to-hand combat stories in the laundry room. He was separated from his homies, fought a duel to the death with some wacko. Mad Dog won by clenching his teeth on the other man's windpipe until he was dead."
"Mad Dog himself was nearly dead by this time. It was a toss-up whether to carry him out or leave him for the scavengers. And it wasn't long before the legends started filtering out of the cellblock about the asshole who kills like a mad dog."
"And Lester's his son?"
Hartman remembered. "When I was just a deputy starting here, the Sheriff once had Lester Rahler arrested for biting an attack dog."
Hartman said, "Seriously. " His voice was like ice. "Lester is a lunatic. When the heat came over him, you will have to kill him to stop him."
"Do you think Lester and Mad Dog could have whacked Jeremiah and his family?"
"They could have done it, yes."
"How is your search going for the killers?"
"Catching them will be easy. They're on an island. They got nowhere to run. And I've got the privilege of hunting them down."
"Good hunting, my friend. Be careful."
"Wanna ride along?"
"I've got to find Jimmy before he gets hurt or hurts someone else."
* * *
Lester and Mad Dog were together, with Lester driving. Lester fisted his truck horn, stuck his head out the window and screamed at the truck ahead of his.
"Are you deaf as well as dumb and blind!" Lester screamed.
A sugar cane truck, as big as a two-storied house, crowned by cane stalks, was blocking Lester's truck. At the first opportunity, Lester passed it like a rocket.
Mad Dog said, "Relax, Lester."
"We gotta get off this island," Lester said.
"We will when the heat's off."
"It ain't never gonna be off of us after what we did."
Mad Dog corrected his son. "After what you did."
Lester was itchy. "We gotta get off this island."
Mad Dog said, "We need money to get away."
"Where we gonna get money?"
"Jeremiah Quint just sold his crop, right?"
"He's dead, daddy, remember? We don't even know where his money is."
Mad Dog said, "I wonder how hard it'll be to find."
"You think it's still up there?"
* * *
Rafferty left his parked rental outside the Ilima Chapel and walked up to the front door. A sign said "Ilima Chapel Virginia Hong, Prop." Rafferty entered.
Inside Rafferty met with Ginny Hong.
Rafferty said, "How's Eddie?"
Ginny fought hard not to cry. Rafferty embraced her. Pulling herself together, she pushed away and then went toward her private office. After a moment, Rafferty followed.
Ginny went to her desk. "Sheriff Hartman didn't arrest you."
"He thought about it," Rafferty said.
"He's a good man, Terry. You know, his wife died earlier this year. A drunk driver. They were the happiest married couple I ever met. Eighteen years together and they still walked hand-in-hand on the beach. The Sheriff was on duty that night. He heard about the accident and drove over there. My Eddie was the one who gave him his wife's wallet."
Ginny opened her desk and brought out a frosted bottle of cognac and two snifters and then poured great dollops in each. "Fortifier for my customers." After tasting hers she said, "Let's get outa here."
* * *
That twilight Rafferty and Ginny walked together on a country road, passing the bottle back and forth to fill their snifters.
Ginny said, "Janis Buchanan was a wild one. She surprised everybody marrying the Sheriff."
"And that nurse in the ambulance? That's her sister?"
Ginny nodded. "Janis might've been wild, but Nora was always much wilder. She's been through a lot of men."
"Anybody in particular?"
"This guy named Tomo. Part Tahitian, part Hawaiian. Big guy. "
"Ginny, tell me about Lester and Mad Dog," Rafferty said.
"Lester Rahler is pupule, a crazy man. Insane. His father Mad Dog is both a rock and a hard place. Those two aren't fit to breathe the same air as my Eddie."
Rafferty tried to pass her the bottle, but Ginny refused it. Rafferty put his arm around her shoulder, and they walked together in silence.
* * *
At the same time, wearing her nurse's uniform, Nora was leaving her apartment for her job at the hospital, and Henry held the door for her.
Nora said, "I won't let him die."
Henry watched her walk down the staircase.
* * *
Inside the Sheriff’s private office Paula Grayson was cradling her sleeping baby and watching her other daughter playing with a cap pistol on the carpet. Sheriff Hartman listened intently.
"I told him he shouldn't be doing it," Paula said. "He had kids and a wife."
Hartman said, "How was his crop this year?"
"His best," Paula said. "He harvested about fifteen days ago."
"Who was his buyer?"
"I never knew the details."
"How much did he get for it?"
"Audrey told me between seven and eight hundred thousand dollars."
"What happened to the money?"
"In the bank, I suppose," Paula said.
Hartman said, "If it isn't there, where would he hide it?"
Paula Grayson had no idea.
On a hillside many miles away Mad Dog and Lester drank by the light of an opened van, passing back and forth a frosted bottle of cognac.
Lester said, "But we looked everywhere."
Mad Dog said, "We didn't look good enough, is all."
He passed the frosted bottle. His son drank deeply, was overcome by the powerful cognac, and started choking. Mad Dog took back the bottle.
Lester said, "Whoa! Goddam!"
Mad Dog explained, "Fifty year old cognac."
"Fuck, that dude was rich!"
Mad Dog raised a toast. "Here's to a rich dude with a lot of class who got whacked by my kid."
Mad Dog drank deep, then broke off gasping. He said with great respect, "This is good shit!" He drank more. "That miserable old man drinking bourbon and Gatorade, Jesus, what piss that was!"
Lester agreed. "Somebody oughta put Henry outa his misery."
They passed the bottle back and forth.
Lester asked, "D'you think that old man's gonna snitch on us?"
Mad Dog said, "No, Lester."
"You want me to waste him?"
"Jesus Christ, no!"
"Why not? Fuck him. Henry never did you any good."
"His son did," Mad Dog said belligerently.
"Henry knows too much about us already. Maybe he'll trade where we are for dropping some of those charges against him."
Mad Dog said, "Doncha ever get tired thinking about who you're gonna kill next? I mean, Jesus Christ, Lester, you can't look at the whole world like it's gonna betray you."
"The whole world's not gonna betray me," Lester said. "See, the whole world don't know me. But those fuckers who know me could send me behind those walls, and I won't go there again. They'll haveta blow me away before they'll ever take me alive again."
"Lester -- Son -- "
"A man has to make a stand sometime."
"Give it up, boy!"
"Daddy, I can't."
Mad Dog said, "I still remember that man in Houston."
"Hey, he started it. He said fuck you and I said fuck you ... "
"And then you shot him."
"A man shouldn't go around calling people out unless he's prepared to back himself up."
"You don't kill a guy just because he says fuck you."
Lester tried explaining again. "You can say fuck you a million times in this life, daddy, but until you say fuck you and pull the trigger on the son of a bitch at least once in your life, they'll always win and whip you down. Like a dog gets whipped down."
Mad Dog said, "No."
"I'm telling you the old man'll snitch on us."
"He won't. Don't lay a finger on him."
"Are you telling me not to?"
Mad Dog said, "Don't touch him."
Lester stopped talking, took his truck keys, and went to his truck.
Mad Dog called after him, "Lester!"
Lester drove off into the night.
Mad Dog said, "Damn you, son." He drank more.
* * *
Prim in her crisp nurse uniform, Nora Buchanan walked through the white corridors of County General Hospital, carrying an airline flight bag until she reached a door marked "BLOOD BANK."
Nora reached into the opened refrigerator at the blood bank, removed several units of plasma and whole blood, and placed them in the flight bag.
Minutes later Nora removed bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, throwaway hypos from several shelves in the supply room, and she placed them inside the airline flight bag.
Five minutes after that Nora removed antibiotics and other drugs from the emergency room cabinet, and then she placed them inside the flight bag.
Nora walked through white corridors, carrying her airline flight bag with its precious cargo. As she rounded a corner, Lester Rahler grabbed her and slammed her into the wall. His left forearm was wedged under her throat and pressed against her windpipe. His right hand ripped at her uniform, caught the cup of her bra and exposed her breast. He stuck the tip of his knife to her breast.
Lester hissed, "Snitch on me or my daddy ... "
He jabbed her breast with his knife, enough to break the skin and make her jump in terror.
Cheryl Park, the Korean nurse from Suszie's Sugar Shack, stood at the end of the hallway. She saw Lester sticking his knife at Nora.
She screamed, "Security! Security! Security!"
She pulled down the fire alarm.
The alarm echoed through the hospital.
A food cart piled with dirty dishes was nearby. Cheryl ran to it, started throwing coffee cups and plates at Lester and Nora. The dishware crashed around their feet.
The security guard came skidding up behind Cheryl. With his gun out, he started after Lester. Lester took off running. The security guard chased after him.
Nora ran terrified to Cheryl. Cheryl hugged her tightly. Nora loosened her top and looked at her breast where blood ran.
* * *
Though the apartment was hers, Henry Oteas was still surprised seeing Nora come in the door. Nora began unpacking the medical supplies from the airline flight bag.
"I was sent home," Nora said. "That lunatic Lester attacked me."
"He said he'd kill me if I went to the police."
Henry sagged. "Now what do we do?"
Nora took a handgun from the airline bag. "This gun freak in Radiology loaned me this. Showed me how to use it." She hid the gun under a sofa pillow. "Next time Lester comes here, I'll kill him." She considered all. "Somebody has to."
Nora agreed. "Okay. Let's turn them in to the Sheriff."
"You don't let nothing happen to my son."
"Henry, is there any other way we can keep them away from us?"
* * *
At the same hour a precinct station sat brightly lit up high in the backcountry. Many law enforcement vehicles were parked nearby. Helicopters were loudly warming up in the pasture behind the building.
Inside the squad room Sheriff Hartman stood before Rafferty, Special Agent Jack Draper, Alice Taylor and two dozen husky men. Some men wore regulation deputy uniforms, while others had flak jackets and fatigues. All wore bullet proof vests. Cigarette smoke was clumping in the air. Coffee steam was coming up from plastic cups.
Hartman addressed all. "This Strike Force is a Joint Eradication Program. Aside from being a lousy choice of words, well, this is a team effort. And I want to thank you all for helping out. You boys on the county SWAT Team raise your hands. No, not your rifles, just your hands. Everybody say hello to the Animal Control Officer who is here in case there are any guard dogs waiting for us." He read from his notes. "We also have observers here today from the state Attorney General's Office, the state Department of Justice, the state Franchise Tax Board, the state Bureau of Narcotics, and some deputies visiting from other islands." He looked back at his notes. "The Internal Revenue is here, as is US Customs and Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms, and the Drug Enforcement Agency has sent us Special Agent Jack Draper who brought some fellow agents, some guard dogs and lots of weapons." He looked at Draper. "Say hello, Jack."
Jack Draper was staring with ill-concealed hatred at Rafferty and was caught off-guard by Sheriff Hartman’s comments.
Hartman smiled at Rafferty. "We've another guest, too. Some of you may recognize him. Rafferty helped save Deputy Ka’aina's life last night. He even donated blood. His name is Rafferty, he’s from Washington, D.C., and he’s good friends with Senator Jacob Kincaid, the US Senator from Ohio, who the newspapers suggest might be America’s next drug czar. I've invited Rafferty along today to show the Senator how well we all can get along. Be nice to him today."
Draper was irritated. "Get on with it, Sheriff!"
Hartman said, "Be nice to one another, too." In a loud voice he added, "We're hitting only one target today. How many of you were in Desert Storm?"
Half the men present raised their arms, as did Rafferty, which caused the men around him to give him more grudging respect. Although himself taken aback, Sheriff Hartman plunged on.
Hartman said, "Just like that. Fast and low with guns up, and remember, be careful and be professional. Watch yourselves and your buddies. These growers are considered heavily armed and dangerous."
* * *
As day broke, the helicopters lifted off, following the path of the automobiles and trucks who had left an hour earlier.
The helicopters flew towards the mountains. They flew over pineapple plantations, sugar cane fields, the brush-covered ridges, green canyons, steep mountainsides and long waterfalls.
Alice Taylor was piloting and leering at Rafferty, who she had insisted sit beside her. "When we get back, how about watching the sunset with me? Then we can go over to my place for a few drinks."
Rafferty said, "I would love to."
The helicopters flew fast and low over the mountainsides.
* * *
Lester and Mad Dog were rolling up sleeping bags to stow inside their trucks which were parked inside a sugar cane field. Mad Dog stopped when he heard a coming thunder. He shaded his eyes and peered into the rising sun.
Then Mad Dog yelled to Lester, "Helicopters!"
The helicopters came in over the trees, low and fast.
Lester and Mad Dog ran like ten thousand demons chased them.
Lester cried out, "My truck!"
Mad Dog called back, "Fuck it!"
Mad Dog managed to get his truck going and Lester just made it to his father's truck, and together they drove without headlights through the sugar cane. But the helicopters had another target.
* * *
In the helicopter Alice Taylor was becoming more romantic. "We can have a midnight swim off Iliwei Beach. There's a full moon tonight and a low tide and tradewinds through the palm trees. We wouldn't need swimsuits. The water's warm. And in the morning we can go catch the sunrise over at Mango Beach."
"Can we do anything sooner?"
* * *
Once all the choppers had landed on the grassy ridge that was their target, Sheriff Hartman and his crew met and all headed off along a trail. Occasionally a deputy used a machete to chop at the underbrush. When the trail widened into the garden, the team fanned out.
Rafferty stopped cold when something invisible touched his throat. He jerked back, spooked. The Sheriff found the fishing line stretched across the trail.
"Fishing line. It spooks the deer. The deer love grass.
Rafferty asked, "Bambi gets stoned?"
Alice told him, "One state senator in Honolulu is worried about the deer eating all this high-potency weed. He's afraid we'll have wild-eyed drug crazed deer roaming the hills."
Hartman shrugged. "Scares the hell outa me."
They joined Jack Draper and the other law enforcement people who were busting the Rahler's marijuana garden inside the sugar cane field. The plants were thick shrubs, small bushes, and some were small trees twice as tall as a man. The branches were thick and filled with purplish buds, while the buds were swollen with resin and wrapped in plastic baggies.
Hartman looked it over. "Very commercial."
Draper fingered a bud. "This stuff's ready now."
Draper and Sheriff Hartman moved off together, leaving Rafferty and Alice to wander through the garden. Behind them, the deputies strapped on battery packs, then hooked up weed-eaters and started slicing and sawing down the marijuana stalks. Other deputies joined in with machetes and brush cutters.
Alice described it all for Rafferty. "Hawaiian homegrown. The best grass in the world. Grass so good, you don't tell your old lady you got it." She touched a bud. "Just this bud can cost you a hundred bucks."
Rafferty said, "Why so much?"
"For one thing, it's almost all pure smoke. It has no seeds, so you get twice as much per ounce right off the top. Plus it has five times more THC than regular weed."
"THC? That's the active ingredient in marijuana, isn’t it?"
"Plus you don't let it have sex."
Rafferty grinned. "No sex? Alice, that's cruel and unusual."
Alice pulled a bud off a nearby plant. Her attitude was very romantic as she spoke with Rafferty. They locked eyes.
"What you want are the virgins," she told him. "The young and frustrated, burning with-desire, horny-as-hell virgins. If the females get pollinated, they use their THC to produce seeds. If there's no pollination, she gets frustrated and frantic and taller and thicker, because she's looking for a male. She starts sweating resin in the buds."
The bud in her hand was oozing resin.
"Resin dripping out like maple syrup. The juice of a frustrated virgin. You just let them get hornier and hornier, and the hornier they get, the stronger the dope gets."
Alice pulled off a plastic baggie from a nearby plant.
"That's why these plants have plastic bags over their buds. Just in case there's some wild male plants in their neighborhood." She gave a nasty little smile. "Marijuana condoms."
Rafferty and Alice flirted with their eyes, as they rejoined Sheriff Hartman and Special Agent Draper who were now standing beside Lester Rahler's abandoned truck.
Sheriff Hartman held a twelve-gauge shotgun and was talking to one of his deputies. "Go with this to Honolulu. The state forensics lab. After the ballistics boys do their tests, call me immediately." He told Alice, "Alice, you're flying him." He then told Rafferty, "This truck's registered to Lester Rahler."
* * *
An hour later Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty watched the Rahlers’ marijuana go up in smoke at the city incinerator.
Hartman said, "Marijuana's the most dangerous thing ever to hit this island. Not counting the Quints, we've had thirteen dead this year. Not much maybe compared to the cocaine drug lords of Columbia, but our violent crime rate is up one-hundred-fifty percent. These growers are professional. They harvest in hundred pound lots and gross more than a hundred grand a year. Capitalists with guns under their aloha shirts and expensive Honolulu lawyers just a phone call away."
Rafferty said, "Capitalists who kill."
"That’s a good headline for you," the Sheriff said.
* * *
Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty drove into town, then left the Sheriff's parked car. They walked towards some law offices. Hartman said, "When you investigate someone in Washington, who's the first person you interview?"
Rafferty said, "His lawyer."
"Ed Finney was Jeremiah Quint's lawyer."
Inside the law offices Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty sat opposite Ed Finney, Attorney-at-Law.
"How can I help you, Sheriff?" Finney asked.
Hartman said, "I'm investigating the deaths of Jeremiah Quint and his family. You were his lawyer. When was the last time you saw him alive?"
"Two days ago," Finney said. "He was in my office most of the morning."
Rafferty said, "This was the day before he died?"
"Yes, Mister Rafferty," Finney said.
Rafferty told the Sheriff, "That was the day I got here." He then told Finney, "Are you sure he was here all day?"
Finney was amused. "I'm positive about that. He raised a big enough stink. In more ways than one."
Hartman said, "What was he seeing you about?"
Finney said, "Jeremiah came to town that day to buy some land."
"How much was the land?"
"Eight hundred thousand dollars," Finney said.
Hartman said, "Jeremiah Quint had fifteen dollars in his savings account and twenty-seven dollars in his checking. How was he going to pay for this land?"
"He had cash. I saw it."
"He had eight hundred thousand dollars in cash on him?"
"Oh yes," Finney said. "But somehow the signals got crossed. He waited all morning and when the seller didn't show, Jeremiah left in a huff."
Hartman was puzzled. "And that was the big stink?"
Finney was smiling. "Jeremiah stopped at a nursery before coming here. He had several sacks of manure in his truck. A pickup truck with wet manure sitting under a hot sun for hours! and of course my neighbors started complaining."
Hartman said, "What happened to the money?"
"I don't know," Finney said. "Jeremiah took it with him, and the bank was already closed by the time he left."
"And that was the last time you heard from him?"
"Not quite, Sheriff. When I came in yesterday morning, I found this message on my machine." Finney took a cassette from his desk and popped it into his desktop telephone answering machine and hit the PLAY button.
Jeremiah Quint’s voice came out of the answering machine: "Ed, this is Jeremiah Quint. I've probably been busted. Audrey will be in sometime this morning to help you get started with the paperwork. Aloha!"
Finney stopped the tape machine.
* * *
Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty were driving crosstown in the Sheriff’s car.
Rafferty said, "Why should I care what Jack Draper thinks?"
Hartman said, "He thinks you're the legendary Washington Connection. The go-between between the grass growers and Congress. And if you're not the Connection, you're protecting Jimmy Quint, who is."
"Oh, great. Does he have the entire DEA after me?"
Hartman shook his head. "Your Senate connection scares him. Maybe you have strings back in Washington that you can pull on and get him jerked around."
Rafferty grunted. "He needs more evidence."
* * *
When Nora Buchanan answered the doorbell of her apartment, Mad Dog and Lester forced their way inside. Nora ran for the gun she had hidden under a sofa pillow. Lester tried to head her off. Nora had the gun in her hand, but Lester caught her wrist and took the gun away from her. He knocked her to the carpet, and she pulled him down with her.
Nora fought furiously, wanting to kill him. She tried clawing his eyes out, kicking him, smacking him, biting him, and kneeing him. Lester tried strangling her, shoving apart her jaws, punched her head, tried twisting her arm off.
Mad Dog smacked her head with his gun butt. Nora went semi-conscious. Lester got out his knife and went to stab her. Mad Dog grabbed his son's wrist and pulled Lester off her.
Lester was crazed, had spittle on his lips. He tried pushing past his father. Mad Dog slammed him back against the wall and took away his son's knife.
Mad Dog screamed at Lester, "Stop it! It's over!"
Lester blinking, waking up, looking around. He shivered as if freezing, and the blood frenzy ever-so-slowly left his eyes. But Mad Dog wouldn't release him.
Lester had slurred speech. "She snitched on us. She's gotta be wasted."
Mad Dog smacked his son's head hard several times. "The killing stops now!"
Lester was shocked, dumb-founded. "She snitched, Mad Dog, I know it!"
Mad Dog said, "Goddam you, Lester, it's over."
Henry Oteas burst into the living room, then raced to Nora on the floor. She was okay, just stunned and weakened.
Henry told Mad Dog, "Go away! Take him away!"
Lester looked borderline at the old man.
Mad Dog told Lester, "Go wait in the truck."
Lester was confused. "She tried to kill me!"
Mad Dog said, "Lester!
Lester left, while Henry helped Nora into a chair. Her legs were wobbly, her face was bloodied, and she was choking with tears and pain.
Henry told Mad Dog, "What you come here for?"
Mad Dog said, "The garden got hit. It's all gone." He threatened Henry. "I gotta know, old man. Did she snitch?"
"She has not left Tomo's side," Henry said.
"Why the gun?" Mad Dog asked.
Henry was outraged. "Lester attacked her at the hospital last night. He tried raping her. She borrowed the gun to kill him because your son is a savage!"
Mad Dog said, "He's my son, Henry."
Henry was outraged. "My son thought you were something special. A hero. You're shit!"
Mad Dog said, "I never claimed I was a hero."
Henry faced up to Mad Dog. "Tell me about Jeremiah Quint. How his house got hit. You killed all those people!"
Mad Dog said, "Old man, you weren't there. You don't know how it went down. The things that went wrong. Just one thing after another." He jabbed Henry's chest. "Listen, Lester saved your son's life. If not for him, Tomo would've died right then and there."
Mad Dog left, taking Nora's gun with him.
Henry, motionless, could not grasp the horrible news.
* * *
After lunch Rafferty kponed the tourists and went window-shopping. Occasionally he would stop and chat with the shop owners. He asked a lot of questions in several clothing and gift stores. He happened to look in a store window.
Rafferty saw DEA Agent Draper following him.
Rafferty walked into the next shop.
When Rafferty didn't immediately reappear, Draper approached cautiously and tried to peer in the store.
Draper jumped when Rafferty came from behind him and spun him around. They were both ready for blood.
Rafferty said, "You were following me, Draper."
Draper said, "No, I wasn't."
Rafferty growled at him. "I'm going to love suing you."
Draper was as outraged. "Listen, you Washington hotshit, we made a pot bust and there's four people dead!" He jabbed Rafferty. "And you got there ahead of us. If I could, I'd drop on you like a ton of bricks."
Rafferty laughed in the DEA man’s face and then snarled like a '30s gangster, "You'll never take me alive, copper!"
Angry that Rafferty mocked him, Jack Draper stalked off.
* * *
Rafferty walked into his hotel lobby and was stopped by Paula Grayson.
The young woman looked exhausted, depleted. "Mister Rafferty? You said if we needed a favor ... ‘
* * *
Paula Grayson's car turned onto the side road that lay beyond two red reflectors on a palm tree.
"I couldn't go up there alone," Paula said.
They parked in front of the Quint house, then stared up at it.
"This house is haunted now," Paula said with a haunted voice.
* * *
They opened up the house and discovered the house had been searched and vandalized. Every room was a mess. They discovered the refrigerator had been trashed, and vegetables dumped on the floor.
Rafferty said, "What were they looking for?"
"Jeremiah's missing money. All the money he made from the harvest."
* * *
Paula and Rafferty dumped the kitchen garbage atop Jeremiah's compost pile.
Rafferty said, "How much is missing?"
"Almost eight hundred thousand dollars."
"Do you know where it is?"
Paula hesitated. "No."
The smell of the compost pile was rank and overpowering.
Rafferty asked, "Why does it stink so bad?"
"Mountain lion shit."
"Lord, is that what it is?"
"Mountain lion shit and bat guano and bone meal and steer manure. It keeps away the deer. The deer'll eat anything. Sunflowers, tomato plants - "
"I know whole families who went bankrupt because the deer ate their crops."
* * *
Henry wandered into Nora's kitchen late at night. Nora sat having coffee. Neither of them have had sleep. Both had desperate eyes. Nora was just barely holding back her hysteria.
Henry said, "He's sleeping better now."
Nora said, "Henry -- Henry, he needs blood. He's got to have it. I can't steal any more."
"If we don't get some blood, is he going to die?"
"Yes," Nora said.
"How we gonna get more blood?"
Nora hesitated, because the words were barbs ripping her throat and wouldn't come easily. "I got an idea. It's a terrible thing, though, Henry."
Henry without hesitation said, "For my grandson, I will do it."
Nora faced him, reluctantly. "We're going to need Lester and Mad Dog."
Henry was horrified. "Oh Nora!"
* * *
Rafferty's hotel included a main building and several bungalows scattered around the pool. Rafferty himself was poolside in a public phone booth across from his bungalow.
Rafferty said, "Senator, I'm not leaving without Jimmy’s statement."
He looked for and found his hotel room and saw Jack Draper sneaking a peek out of his hotel window.
Rafferty said, "I'll call you back, Senator." He hung up and redialed. "Is Sheriff Hartman there? This is Terry Rafferty. Sheriff, I'm calling from the phone booth by my bungalow, and I can see Jack Draper's face in my window. He is inside my hotel room. That son of a bitch better have a search warrant, or I want him prosecuted for breaking and entering. As we speak. Good. I will be waiting."
Rafferty hung up the telephone.
As Rafferty left the public phone booth, Mad Dog and Lester caught him and sandwiched him between them. Lester gave Rafferty a bear hug, while Mad Dog covered Rafferty's mouth and nose with a gauze of ether.
Rafferty fought as hard as he could, but his mouth and nose were covered by ethered gauze, and his strength faded quickly.
From Rafferty's window Special Agent Jack Draper saw Rafferty being shanghaied. He yanked open Rafferty's sliding door and ran to Rafferty’s rescue, his gun out and ready.
Mad Dog used his .357 Magnum to shoot Jack Draper.
Jack Draper was killed instantly by a bullet in his face.
Lester had the ether now. Rafferty struggled, but the ether in the gauze knocked him out. As Rafferty dropped to the ground, Lester kicked him.
* * *
Dr. Deanna Wu found Sheriff Hartman getting into his patrol car outside his office. She was pleased. "Honolulu says the ejection scratches on the shotgun shell found at Jeremiah Quint's place match the shotgun found in Lester Rahler's truck."
Hartman was very pleased, too. "Mahalo, Deanna, from the bottom of my heart. When I finish with that son of a bitch, he'll never bother anyone ever again."
A deputy came running and caught up to the Sheriff's car.
The deputy was excited. "Sheriff Hartman -- "
* * *
Up in the foothills Mad Dog's truck was parked outside the Rahlers' drying house, which was just a rundown chicken coop under the trees. A portajohn was off to one side.
Mad Dog got a plastic fungo bat from his truck, then joined his son. Mad Dog said, "Gimme your guns."
Lester reluctantly passed them over.
Mad Dog gave him the fungo bat.
Mad Dog said, "In case you get pissed at him."
"I have to make do hitting him with this?"
"Lester, listen to me. We need his blood. Don't kill him."
Lester was dubious about the entire affair.
Mad Dog opened the rear door of the truck. Inside was Rafferty, unconscious, tied with ropes, blinded by gauze bandages while his mouth was taped with adhesive tape. Mad Dog hauled Rafferty out, then dragged him inside the drying house.
The chicken coop looked like a tobacconist’s shed. Marijuana stalks hung down from make-shift drying racks and from the rafters, with newspapers spread out below to catch scraps. Mad Dog dumped Rafferty on a bunk bed, then tied him down with more ropes. Nora Buchanan sat off to one side and unpacked her medical supplies.
Then she inserted a needle into Rafferty’s arm.
As Rafferty woke, Mad Dog watched Nora taking a pint of blood from Rafferty. "How much are you going to take?"
Nora put a finger to her lips.
The blood bag was filling.
Rafferty realized his blood was being taken. He struggled against his bonds. Mad Dog reached over and smacked Rafferty’s head as hard as he could. Mad Dog was pissed; he didn’t have room for a real good swing. When he readied for another whack at Rafferty’s head, Nora intervened and stopped him. She used the gauze and more ether on Rafferty.
Rafferty lost consciousness as the blood bag filled.
After one pint was filled, Nora took another pint from Rafferty. Mad Dog was fascinated and wouldn’t leave her side. Lester came and looked over his father's shoulder. But Lester didn’t like watching. He was spooked by blood thievery. When the second pint was filled, Nora took another pint from Rafferty.
When Nora had three pints of blood, she disconnected Rafferty, swabbed his arm with rubbing alcohol, and gathered up her gear.
Rafferty started coming around. Already feeling the loss of blood, Rafferty has never been this weak or helpless before. He could barely moan.
* * *
Mad Dog walked Nora to her car, while Lester stayed behind.
Nora said, "Call me if there's any problem."
Mad Dog said, "How much do you think you can get from him?"
Nora had no idea. "I don't want to kill him." Then, remembering, she said, "Oh, feed him. Give him orange juice."
"We didn't plan on him eating."
"He can't give blood if he's dead." Nora indicated Lester. "And don't let Lester bother him."
Mad Dog said, "I won't."
Nora was dubious, but still she drove off in her car.
* * *
Inside the drying house, drained of strength, Rafferty was very tightly bound to the cot. His eyes were taped with gauze. He heard a truck driving off.
A moment later, with his plastic baseball bat, Lester came and sat on the bunk beside Rafferty. He ripped the adhesive tape from Rafferty's mouth, then leaned over and made a slurping sound in Rafferty's ear.
"You're gonna die here, dickhead," he whispered.
Rafferty said, "Eat shit and die!"
Angered, Lester punched Rafferty's head with the bat.
"We want Jeremiah Quint's money." He punched Rafferty again, even angrier. "Where is it?"
Rafferty said hoarsely, "I don't have it!"
Lester started beating Rafferty about the head and shoulders with the plastic bat. But soon Lester had lost control and was viciously attacking Rafferty with the fungo bat.
Rafferty, his nose bleeding, the blood streaming over his face, reeling from the pain, was desperate. His guts churned with hatred and disgust.
"I don't have it!"
Lester was outraged. He smacked Rafferty's head with the bat's butt end. Rafferty couldn't speak. Lester smacked Rafferty again and again.
"Where's the fucking money!"
Lester went berserk with the plastic bat. Rafferty gasped from the shock. His face was badly beaten. Blood from his nose smeared even the mattress.
"Eat shit and die!" Lester cried.
Lester threw away the plastic bat, grabbed Rafferty's throat with one hand and held his knife's blade against Rafferty's throat with the other hand. He whispered now with deadly passion.
"I'm gonna cut your throat, because I want to."
Mad Dog grabbed his son's knife hand and took the knife away.
"Mad Dog!" Lester threatened.
Mad Dog said, "No! I said no more!
Once Lester backed down, Mad Dog yanked his son outside.
* * *
Lester started his truck, while Mad Dog stood beside it.
Mad Dog said, "You're going down to get some more food. He's gotta eat."
Lester said, "Why bother?"
"Because we need his blood."
"Why should we help Nora? What do we get outa it?"
"Tomo’s father saved my life in prison. He carried me outa that stinking laundry room. I owe him."
Frustrated, Lester drove away.
Mad Dog watched his son drive off.
* * *
Once again inside Mad Dog approached Rafferty.
Gasping, Rafferty said, "I have to use the bathroom. Please! Let me use the bathroom.
Mad Dog said absently, "Yeah, yeah -- "
Rafferty was in agony. "Diarrhea."
Mad Dog said, "Goddam!
"I got diarrhea -- " Rafferty whispered.
Mad Dog was disgusted. "Not on my bunk!"
Mad Dog untied Rafferty’s legs, then pulled him erect. He took Rafferty by the collar and pushed him outside.
Holding his knife at Rafferty's throat, Mad Dog pushed him towards the portajohn. Rafferty stumbled, in great agony, bleeding and beaten, suffering from his great loss of blood. At the portajohn, Mad Dog untied Rafferty's hands and shoved Rafferty inside and slammed the door after him.
Inside the portajohn Rafferty ripped the gauze off his eyes. Looking around for a weapon, he spotted the toilet paper holder. It was just a coathanger wire twisted to hold a roll of toilet paper. Rafferty unwound it, then wrapped it around his hand until both pointed ends became prongs. These ends he twisted into a single sharp prong with a sturdy hilt.
Mad Dog said, "Aren't you finished yet?"
Rafferty took several deep breaths, stood poised, ready to lunge when the door opened. He gripped the wire prong tightly and waited.
When Mad Dog yanked open the door, Rafferty came out with the wire in his fist. First Rafferty jabbed Mad Dog's eye to blind him.
Mad Dog's reflexes saved him, but the wire caught a fold of skin in the web of his eye, and blood spurted everywhere. Rafferty jabbed Mad Dog again, the wire broke through skin and went into the soft fleshy hollow of Mad Dog's throat just above the breastbone, puncturing his jugular.
Blood started shooting out of Mad Dog's mouth and from the hole in his throat. He started gagging loudly on his own blood. He fell back, then down. He died slowly, painfully.
Rafferty watched him die. Too weak to move, he collapsed on the ground, where he passed out.
* * *
Alice Taylor walked in Sheriff Hartman’s private office.
Hartman perked up. "Alice?"
"I just heard about Rafferty. Any leads?"
Hartman sighed there were none. "Wanna take her up?"
Alice was already out the door, and the startled Sheriff hustled to catch up with her.
* * *
Rafferty awoke at twilight on the ground near Mad Dog's corpse, the bloodied wire prong still wrapped around his hand. He yanked it off and dropped it on the ground. Incredibly weakened, he staggered into the drying house.
Rafferty took up a water jug and drank some. He heard the sound of a approaching helicopter and so he stood by the open door of drying house. The Sheriff's helicopter zoomed overhead and flew away from the drying house.
Rafferty stumbled outside, tried waving after the helicopter. But the helicopter kept on going.
Rafferty was desperate. He could barely stand up. Too much blood had been taken from him.
Rafferty looked out across the valley and saw a red plume of dust from Lester's approaching truck and the helicopter rapidly receding. His heart fell.
* * *
Rafferty rummaged through Mad Dog's pockets and found a book of matches. Rafferty staggered into the drying house. He found and spilled a can of kerosene all over the floor. He used the book of matches to set afire a marijuana stalk. A giant flame shot up instantly. Then the room that was filled with marijuana stalks exploded into flame.
Rafferty barely escaped from the drying house. Within seconds, the drying house was ablaze.
Lester was in his truck roaring up the road towards the drying house when he saw the flames shooting up from the drying house. He sped up. He was screaming incoherently.
Rafferty grabbed Mad Dog's fungo bat and the wire prong and hid in the bushes behind the portajohn. He was wild eyed and desperate.
Lester Rahler raced from his truck towards the drying house just before it exploded into a blazing bonfire, which sent him reeling.
Lester saw his father's corpse in the dirt and ran to it. He cradled his dead father and wept.
Rafferty was lying in fear in the brush behind the portajohn.
Outraged and with murderous eyes, Lester took his shotgun from his truck and stalked after Rafferty. Lester shotgunned the bushes.
"I'm gonna kill you!"
Lester blasted a hole in the portajohn which then collapsed.
"I'll track you down and kill you!"
As the portajohn collapsed, Rafferty hid his face in the dirt, too weak to fight. He peered around remains of the portajohn and watched Lester reloading. Then they both heard the sound of the helicopter returning.
* * *
When Lester saw the Sheriff's helicopter approaching, he stayed long enough to trade a few shots with Sheriff Hartman. Then he ran off to his truck, which he fled in.
The helicopter landed by the burning house. Sheriff Hartman and Alice Taylor climbed out and found that Mad Dog was dead. They spotted Rafferty as he half-crawled, half-stumbled to the helicopter. Sheriff Hartman and Alice helped Rafferty to the helicopter.
Rafferty said weakly, "They took my blood."
Sheriff Hartman and Alice were outraged and horrified.
A minute later the Sheriff's helicopter flew towards a blood-red sunset.
* * *
Sheriff Hartman stood beside Rafferty's hospital bed, staring squeamishly at the bag of blood that hung down and ran into Rafferty's arm. Rafferty looked terrible, was bruised and battered, but was improving.
Rafferty felt very weak. "Does he have any family?"
Hartman said, "In Oklahoma City. A wife and three kids."
"I misjudged him," Rafferty said. "Jack Draper was a hero. He died trying to save my life."
A nurse came in and began replacing the blood bag with a new one.
Rafferty asked, "Any word about Lester?"
Hartman said, "None. How much blood have they given you?"
"That's the third one already," Rafferty said.
Hartman bunched his shoulders and shivered.
* * *
Later Rafferty was alone in his hospital room. The door opened and Ginny Hong entered with Eddie Ka’aina who sat in a wheelchair, with much of his lower neck wrapped in bandages.
Ginny said, "Can we come in?"
Rafferty said, "Ginny ... "
As Ginny hugged Rafferty, Rafferty realized Eddie Ka’aina was behind her. But Eddie brushed jealousy aside. He was grateful and contrite.
He told Rafferty, "I want to thank you for helping save my life."
Rafferty said, "Someday maybe you'll do the same for me."
Eddie asked, "When are they cutting you free?"
"The doctors say tomorrow," Rafferty said. "After I get my strength back."
"How 'bout I buy you a steak dinner?"
Rafferty said, "And then I'll buy you one."
They shook hands as friends.
* * *
At twilight Rafferty was alone in his hospital room when Alice Taylor popped in with a big bouquet of flowers, which she placed on Rafferty's lap.
"How you doing, beautiful?"
Rafferty smiled. "Better and better."
"Have you ever made love atop a volcano?"
Rafferty was amused and skeptical.
"Is it dormant or active?"
Alice reached under his blanket.
"It's not dormant," Alice said.
"Oh, I wish I could do more."
"Then I’ll do it."
* * *
Exhausted, Sheriff Hartman was trudging through the hospital and met one of his deputies interviewing one of the doctors.
"What are you doing here?" Hartman asked.
The deputy said, "Some medical supplies are missing from the hospital."
Sheriff Hartman found this very interesting.
* * *
At that same hour of night Paula Grayson answered her back door and found Jimmy Quint outside. Paula was concerned. "Jimmy! Where've you been?"
"Mauka. I had some problems I had to get straightened out."
Paula coaxed Jimmy into the kitchen. There she set some instant coffee in front of them. He pushed away the cookies she offered.
Jimmy asked, "Do you know about the money?"
Paula nodded. "Do you know where it's hidden?"
Jimmy nodded. "Paula, I'm going to use it as bait. If it's okay with you."
"To get the killers?"
"They're going to come back, and I'll be waiting for them."
"They were there last night," Paula said.
"But they didn't find it." He was defiant. "And you can't stop me or talk me out of it."
"I'm wondering if maybe I shouldn't join you. I've got about the same hatred that you have."
Jimmy said with difficulty, "This isn't hatred. This is ... my duty, maybe. Maybe the first step in how I come back from where I've been."
"Rafferty wants to see you again."
Jimmy was surprised. "What’s he up to these days?’
* * *
Rafferty awoke in his hospital room in the middle of the night and found Jimmy Quint fingering and poking the blood bag hanging down into Rafferty's arm. Jimmy saw Rafferty awake and with a guilty look stopped poking the bag of blood.
"Hi, Terry, it's me."
Rafferty was bleary-eyed. "Jimmy?"
As Rafferty turned on the bedside light, Jimmy jumped back and now sat in the chair by the bed.
Jimmy said, "How are you?"
"I'll be fine by morning," Rafferty said.
"That's what Paula told me. I can't stay long. I got to get back up to my brother's place."
"You can't go back up there, Jimmy. It's no good brooding like you're doing."
Jimmy was surprised. "Oh, I'm on my way back from all that."
Rafferty said, "Jimmy, you're in trouble with the law. You took a potshot at me in the kitchen, then you disappeared into the woods. Then you took a potshot at the deputies at your brother's garden. Resisting arrest, too."
Jimmy was defensive. "I can explain -- "
"You have to explain it to the Sheriff."
"First I got to get their killers."
"You know who they were?"
Jimmy shook his head. "I got there too late. But I know why."
"The eight hundred thousand dollars Jeremiah got for selling his crop."
"Terry, they were after the money. They didn't get it. That's why they'll come back for it. Oh. Who told you?" With haunted eyes, Jimmy added, "Well, they'll have to pay for it."
"Are you going to try to kill them?"
"Terry, I came to this island because I lost the love of my life." Jimmy left his chair. "And since then I've lost the only other people I've ever loved."
"You can't do it, Jimmy."
But Jimmy ducked out the window.
Rafferty tried to go after him, but he still had a blood transfusion dripping into his arm. As he started peeling off the adhesives, Nurse Cheryl Park walked into his room with a portable telephone.
Rafferty said, "Stop that man!"
She was confused. "What man?"
Rafferty backed off. "Aw, damn."
Cheryl told Rafferty, "I’m sorry to disturb you, but you have a phone call."
Rafferty, surprised, asked, "At this hour?" He answered the phone by his hospital bed. "Yes? Oh, hello, Senator." He slumped back. "Oh, I'm fine, Senator. Yes, in fact I have, Senator. He was just here. No, we didn’t talk about it."
Cheryl Park left, closing the door behind her.
* * *
In his office Sheriff Hartman listened to Doctor Deanna Wu.
Doctor Wu said, "We've got those bloodstains analyzed in Mad Dog Rahler's truck." She looked at files. "Mad Dog Rahler's blood type was received from the Marine Corps, and his son was knifed once in a Texas reformatory, so his type was also available. But the bloodstains belong to some third party."
Hartman tried to remember. "Weren't they hanging around with some guy named Tomo?"
"Tomo Oteas. You busted his grandfather's house the other night."
Sheriff Hartman was lost in thought.
Neither had had much sleep.
* * *
As the sun rose over Wild Banana Gulch, Jimmy Quint had set up some water-filled plastic jugs for target practice. He moved a hundred feet away, then settled down with his mini-14 automatic rifle. His first shot was great, although the sudden loud noise spooked him. He punctured a jug. But then because he anticipated the noise of the gunfire, he missed the next six shots in a row. He concentrated, fired and hit a jug of water, but then his next two shots missed. He plugged jugs with his next two shots, but missed the next five shots in a row. Finally he hit one more water jug.
Jimmy Quint was glum. He was lousy with a gun.
* * *
In the darkness of her bedroom Nora Buchanan kissed her unconscious lover's face. "Forgive me." Her love was total and complete. She whispered, "I can't let you die."
Tomo’s eyes fluttered and almost opened.
The doorbell rang. Nora stroked her lover's arm one more time, then rose and left her bedroom. She walked like the truly despairing.
* * *
Nora Buchanan answered the door. She was taken aback by the bright light of the morning sun. Rafferty stood there. Rafferty still looked very weak, his face was still badly bruised, but Rafferty was very cheerful. "Nora? Nora Buchanan? I'm Terry Rafferty. We met the other night."
"What do you want?"
Rafferty looked over her shoulder. "Is he here? Your lover. The only man you'd steal blood for. The man you took my blood for."
Nora said, "Why don't you come inside?"
Rafferty stepped in. "Thank you."
Nora closed the door behind Rafferty.
Rafferty found and sat in a chair.
"I was just released from County General an hour ago, and I still have to take it easy," he said. "Stealing my blood was dangerous. I mean, you can't just mug the next guy you see on the street. You have to know the person you're hitting. And you have to be professional and competent enough to extract the blood, which Mad Dog and Lester Rahler weren't. You are, however, a nurse, plus you knew I was a universal donor."
"Why would I steal your blood?"
"Your lover. Who else?" Rafferty frowned. "When you love somebody that much, stealing blood to keep him alive is an act of faith in the future. "
"And what's his name?"
Rafferty didn't know. "My first night in the islands, I saw you wearing an aloha blouse. It was beautiful. The white bird of paradise against a flaming sunset. That same night I saw a big Hawaiian wearing the identical pattern. Yesterday I went around to the tourist shops and they said it was a custom-made fabric and a very expensive pattern. You bought two and had those shirts custom-made. One for you and one for Tomo."
"Are you going to have me arrested?"
Rafferty didn't know. "Your lover has to go to the hospital. And you should turn yourself in, too."
The doorbell rang again.
Nora answered it and found Sheriff Hartman outside.
Nora said, "Aloha, Charles. C'mon in."
Sheriff Hartman and a deputy entered, were surprised finding Rafferty there. Hartman told Nora, "I'm here with a warrant for Tomo Oteas. Nora, you're under arrest, too, of course."
Nora sighed. "What brought you here?"
"Rafferty here said they used ether on him. The ether. D’you know how rare that smell is? The only place most people smell it is in hospitals. And that blood that was stolen from the blood bank. And the other medical supplies. Where's Tomo Oteas?"
Nora gave up. "In my bedroom."
The doorbell rang again. Because Nora was busy, Rafferty answered and found Ginny Hong and a young assistant waiting outside with a collapsible gurney.
Nora told Ginny, "He's in the bedroom." She faced Rafferty and the Sheriff and told them desperately, "I couldn't wait any longer, so I called Ginny."
Later Nora, Rafferty and Sheriff Hartman watched the gurney carrying Tomo Oteas going into the ambulance. Ginny approached them when the loading was finished.
Nora said, "I've tried so hard to keep him alive."
Ginny asked, "Are you riding with us?"
Nora asked Sheriff Hartman, "May I?"
Hartman relented. "All right." He told the deputy, "Ride with them. Drop him off first at County General, then take her in and book her."
Sheriff Hartman and Rafferty watched the ambulance leave with screaming sirens and flashing lights.
Rafferty said, "She's the Queen of Hearts."
"She's a fool," Hartman said.
Rafferty said, "They're always one and the same."
* * *
Across the street Henry Oteas crouched in his truck. As the ambulance rushed past him, he started his truck and followed it. He would not abandon his grandson.
* * *
The Sheriff drove while Rafferty sat alongside.
Rafferty said, "I talked with Jimmy Quint. He came down from the hills to tell me he's up at the Quint house waiting for the killers to return to the scene of the crime."
Hartman scoffed. "Lester is the only one left, and he's holed up mauka somewhere and you need a crowbar to pry him loose. He's not stupid enough to come out of hiding."
"But he needs money to escape." Rafferty then wondered, "Where are we going?"
"Mauka," Hartman said.
"If you go mauka, maybe you never come back."
"Maybe you not come back."
Sheriff Hartman parked his car deep in the Quint yard, near the compost pile. Before Rafferty and Sheriff Hartman could leave the car, the police radio crackled with a message.
Sheriff Hartman grabbed the microphone. "Go ahead, Dispatch."
The dispatcher said, "Tomo Oteas just died."
Angry, Sheriff Hartman fisted the dashboard. "Son of a bitch!"
* * *
In the woods Jimmy Quint woke up from a restless sleep and heard the police car. He pulled on some pants and grabbed up his arsenal.
* * *
Rafferty and Sheriff Hartman walked towards the Quint house.
"He was a pawn for the Rahlers," Rafferty said.
Hartman said, "That doesn’t excuse him."
Lester Rahler stood in their path, his feet apart and both hands outstretched holding a .357 Magnum aimed at them.
Lester told the Sheriff, "Unbuckle your gun belt. Let it drop to the dirt."
Sheriff Hartman reluctantly did as he was told.
Lester said, "Now step back."
Rafferty and Sheriff Hartman moved back.
Lester picked up the Sheriff's gun. "Police Special. A pea-shooter. It's hard to kill a man with this, Sheriff."
Hartman said, "We just want to stop them. We don't want to kill them."
Lester hefted the Sheriff’s gun. "I can keep you alive for a long time, just taking my time killing you."
Using the police special, Lester shot the Sheriff in the right leg. The Sheriff gasped and toppled over. He held his leg and tried rising to his feet, but the pain kept him grounded.
Lester stopped Rafferty from moving at him, then shot the Sheriff in the right shoulder. The Sheriff floundered in the dirt from the pain, then laid there gasping for strength.
Rafferty tried going to the Sheriff's aid, but Lester fired the gun at him, just missing him. Rafferty stopped in mid-stride.
Lester said, "There's this game my daddy said his cellmate played in 'Nam whenever he took prisoners. See how many bullets it takes to kill a man."
Lester shot the Sheriff in the other leg. The Sheriff cried out in agony. Sweat poured off his face.
Lester aimed his gun and snarled at Rafferty, the muscles in his neck standing out.
"You're next. Come here!"
Unafraid, Rafferty approached Lester, whose rage spilled out.
Lester said, "You killed my daddy -- "
Lester sucker-punched Rafferty in the throat with the butt of the Magnum as hard as he could. Rafferty fell to the ground and started gagging and choking.
Lester said, "Get up!"
When Rafferty was slow, Lester kicked him in the side of the head. Then he reached down and grabbed Rafferty's forearm and yanked him to his feet.
Rafferty sucker-punched Lester in the testicles. Lester howled from the pain. Rafferty brought clasped hands up at his exposed throat. Lester deflected them, but lost one of his guns in the process.
The Magnum landed beneath the police car.
Rafferty and Lester fought for the Police Special. Rafferty got it once, but Lester knocked it from his hand. The gun landed at Rafferty's feet, accidentally firing. Lester went for it, and Rafferty kicked him in the face.
Rafferty ran stumbling away from him and towards the gun in the dirt. Lester came after Rafferty and caught up with him. He punched Rafferty's already battered face and kept punching until Rafferty's nose and mouth were bleeding and his left eye was closed and starting to swell. Rafferty sank to his knees.
Lester picked up the police special, aimed at Rafferty who was sprawled in the dust, and fired. But the gun was empty. Lester threw it away, then hauled Rafferty to his feet, shook him and slammed him against the police car. Lester smacked him, banging his head against the car.
Jimmy Quint arrived in the woods near the Quint House and saw Rafferty being battered by Lester. Jimmy grabbed up his rifle and started loading it. He didn’t realize how far he was from the action.
Rafferty sandwiched his hands and gave Lester a roundhouse swing that slowed him. Then Rafferty devastated him with a palm up his nose. If Rafferty's strength had been there, Rafferty would've killed Lester then. But Lester fell to one knee, grabbed him and tried pulling him down to the dirt. Rafferty pushed him away.
Fifty yards away Jimmy Quint took careful aim at Lester's head, then very carefully squeezed the trigger, just as he was trained.
Rafferty was shot in the thigh. He fell to the ground, landed hard, landed wrong, right on his pelvic bone, right above where the bullet has struck him. A pulse of pain cut through him and almost stopped his heart.
Rafferty cried out, "Oh God!"
Jimmy was horrified at his bad shooting. He tried firing again.
Lester hit the ground, as the next bullet kicked up dirt beyond his head.
Rafferty dragged himself behind the patrol car, while Lester hid behind a wheelbarrow.
Jimmy fired twice, very fast.
Jimmy's first bullet hit the satellite dish. His second one shattered the windshield of the patrol car.
Rafferty struggled to pull himself up.
Rafferty called out, "Jimmy! Throw me the gun, Jimmy! Just throw me the gun, and I'll shoot the bastard!"
Jimmy's next shot came within inches of Rafferty's face. Rafferty ducked behind cover again, cursing Jimmy Quint under his breath.
Jimmy was heartsick. He very carefully aimed and fired at Lester and the bullet went wild and completely missed Lester.
Lester ran for the patrol car. Once there he stretched his arm beneath the patrol car and grabbed the Magnum.
Jimmy ran from the woods to get a closer shot at Lester.
Rafferty saw Lester reaching for the Magnum. Rafferty staggered to his feet and towards the compost pile, where he took up Jeremiah Quint's compost shovel.
Magnum in hand, Lester ran from the patrol car. He shot several times at Jimmy, hitting him only once, which struck Jimmy's foot at the ankle. Jimmy fell to the dirt, unable to continue. His rifle flew from his hands, went clattering out of his reach.
As Lester slowed, he cocked the magazine for a fresh load.
Jimmy crawled towards the compost pile and the woods beyond. He could not reach his rifle.
Standing over Jimmy, Lester grinned and aimed at Jimmy's forehead.
Rafferty hit Lester with the blade edge of the shovel. When Lester fell, Rafferty hit him again. Lester collapsed on the compost pile. As he died, his falling body crumbled the compost pile and Jeremiah Quint's missing money was revealed inside sealed mason jars under the compost pile.
Rafferty returned to Hartman, but stumbled and fell to the dirt, completely exhausted, still bleeding from Jimmy's bad shooting. He wanted to pass out.
Jimmy, badly injured and using his rifle as a crutch, approached Rafferty and Sheriff Hartman. The Sheriff tried pulling himself upright, barely managing to extract his car keys, which Jimmy took.
Hartman said, "Jimmy, there's a first aid kit in the trunk of my car."
Jimmy left for the patrol car.
Sheriff Hartman was so wounded, he collapsed. When Jimmy returned with the first aid kit, Rafferty took it from him.
Rafferty, with difficulty, said, "Use the radio in the police car, Jimmy. Turn the ignition on, take the microphone and press down on the button. Just keep saying over and over again: Mayday, mayday, officer down, officer down."
Jimmy practiced: "Mayday, mayday, officer down, officer down."
Rafferty said, "Then release the button. When somebody answers, you tell them where we are. Tell them to send paramedics by helicopter."
Jimmy went off to make the call.
Rafferty crawled over to Sheriff Hartman and unpacked the first aid kit. Rafferty wrapped bandages around the Sheriff's wounds. Jimmy returned to Rafferty's side.
Jimmy said, "They said Alice is on her way." He didn’t know her. "Who’s Alice?"
Hartman said, "Alice is fast. She’ll get here quick."
"Jimmy?" Rafferty was grateful. "Jimmy, you know you saved our lives."
Jimmy was dumbfounded when he realized this truth, then nodded his head.
Rafferty and Jimmy locked eyes.
Rafferty said, "Jim -- " He tried again. "Could the Senator have saved her?"
Jimmy said, "No one could have saved her."
"It was an accident?"
"I was the one who turned the heater on."
The Sheriff said, "I thought it was their honeymoon."
"It was a junket to visit NATO bases in the South of France."
The Sheriff said, "Oh, they weren’t alone."
Jimmy knelt by Rafferty’s side. He was inches from outright weeping. "I really screwed up, Terry." He began weeping. "I'm sorry."
"Jimmy -- " Rafferty said, biting back the pain. He consoled Jimmy. "It wasn't your fault, Jimmy. It wasn't."
Rafferty and Jimmy hugged, while Hartman watched warily.
As the men lay bleeding in the dirt, they heard a helicopter approaching.
Rafferty said, "I like fast women."