Blue Heart

by Liz Clare

 

Author’s note: This story has adult themes, including rape and police brutality. If you do not want to read a story about such topics, please stop here.

Cleo Kaina lay on the ground without the strength to get up. After a long time, she heard the men’s voices and the crunch of their footsteps in the tall dry grass. They called her name.

"Cleo! Cleo, where are you? Cleo!"

She couldn’t see the men from her position under the piece of plywood he had dragged over her. Part of her wanted to lift her arms to push the plywood off, or at least try to call to the men—call for help. Another part of her thought she would just lie under the plywood forever, until she died.

He had wrecked her bike! She had been riding home from King Kam High, looking forward to helping her mom make Korean spareribs for dinner. She hadn’t paid attention to the car until it was too late. It had hit her from behind, sending her flying over the handlebars into the grass. Her face had slammed the dirt, the blow stunning her. Still, she tried to push herself up. Immediately, the worst pain she had ever felt shot through her left leg. She couldn’t move it and knew it was broken.

He had come then. The driver. At first she thought he meant to help her. Instead, he grabbed her by her arms and pulled her off the road into the brush, where the new apartment house was going to be built. Cleo screamed with pain and fear. Then he hit her. The impact of his fist against her jaw sounded like a tree limb breaking.

When she swam to the surface of consciousness again, he was mauling her, brutal hands pawing at her naked breasts. She couldn’t raise her head to see but she knew he was raping her, cruelly plunging up and down. Cleo wanted to scream and cry but she couldn’t. She tried to remember her prayers but all she could think of was her mom, so she thought of her mom over and over and over.

She thought it was night now. She could taste blood in her mouth. She knew she stunk. She felt a tiny trickle of tears slide down from her eyes to her nose. She would have to make a sound, and then the men would find her and see what had happened to her today, on the way home from school.

"Help," Cleo tried to say. "Mommy. Help." Normally she had a loud voice. Her algebra teacher had scolded her about it just today. Now she could scarcely open her mouth. Her words sounded like a faint whimper.

"Mommy. Help," she tried again.

A man yelled, "Over here!" She heard running footsteps. The cool night air touched her defenseless body as the plywood was pulled from her body. The men shone flashlights on her. They wore policeman’s uniforms. Cleo Kaina lay before them, defenseless and ashamed.

***

The grilled ono was juicy and succulent, seared to perfection. Kono Kalakaua happily spooned mango chutney over the fish. Across the table from him sat a big, beautiful, wahine. An equally delicious-looking fish was steaming on her plate. Her eyes sparkled like black stars. A gorgeous pink sun was setting over Diamond Head…

The phone jangled rudely next to his bed. Kono moaned and pulled the pillow tightly over his head. Dimly, he felt incredulous that anyone would dare to interrupt the first date he’d had in months. Then, the date evaporated and he realized he was at home, alone in his own bed.

Highly displeased, Kono flopped on his back and pulled the phone to his ear. "Yeah?" he grunted.

"Kono, it’s McGarrett," the voice on the other end said.

Kono raised his head and looked at the clock. Five a.m. He had left his boss at the Hawaii Five-O offices just over six hours ago. They had all worked late going over security arrangements for the upcoming visit of the Dalai Lama to the islands. The Tibetan holy man was due to arrive in two days, and there couldn’t be any slip-ups.

Kono felt a surge of anger. Didn’t the man ever sleep? What was he calling to nag about now that couldn’t wait until Kono dragged himself into the office?

"I’m sorry to wake you," the boss’s voice continued. "A young girl was kidnapped and raped on her way home from school yesterday. HPD found her, beaten half to death, late last night."

Kono sat up in bed. "Same m.o. as the woman last month?" he asked.

"Yeah," McGarrett said grimly. "Kono, I want you and Danno to get over to Queen’s hospital and talk to the girl."

"OK, boss," Kono said. "What about the Dalai Lama?"

"Chin and I will handle it," McGarrett told him. "We can’t afford to sit on this rape case until after the state visit."

After Steve gave him a rundown on what he knew about the case, Kono hauled himself out of bed, took a quick shower, dressed, and headed for the hospital. Speeding through the still-deserted morning streets, he flicked on the radio, hoping to catch the news, but the airwaves seemed to be filled with political ads instead. The Governor was up for re-election and wasn’t leaving a thing to chance. "Governor Jameson—For Law and Order!" the announcer said authoritatively.

Kono twisted the knob off again. Privately, he didn’t think the Governor had anything to worry about, especially after having publicly faced down an assassin a few months back. That was the kind of thing that made a guy a hero. Of course, Kono himself had taken the bullet meant for the Governor that day, and he wasn’t a hero. Just a state employee making $184.50 a week. Funny how that worked.

When Kono entered, Dan Williams was waiting for him. Fatigue hung just below the muscles of Danny’s face. He looked as tired as Kono felt.

"Anything?" Kono asked.

"Haven’t gone up yet," Danny replied. Usually, Danno was eager to get started on a case. Not this time. He felt the same reluctance as Kono to intrude upon a young woman’s fear and misery. In cases like this, Kono sometimes felt as if he were just adding to the violation. But he knew it couldn’t be helped—not if they had a serial rapist on their hands.

He and Danny stood looking at each other for a moment. Then Danny let the air escape from his lungs in a sigh. "Well," he said, "let’s go on up."

The first person they talked to was Dr. Hanson, the admitting physician. Kono knew from past experience that Hanson was a fairly tough customer. It was good that he was on the case. Hanson had done a complete sexual assault workup, gathering semen, hair, and skin samples that could be used to help identify the rapist and obtain a conviction.

"Cleo Kaina is 17. She’s a senior at King Kamehameha High School," Hanson began. Kono knew then that he had to shut his emotions off. He had graduated from King Kam himself. His family still lived in the neighborhood. The unhelpful thought entered his mind anyway: It could have been my sister. It could have been my mother.

Kono listened through the depressing clinical recitation. Her leg was shattered. Her jaw was broken in two places. A virgin, she had been brutally torn from the rape. She was suffering from the effects of exposure, shock, and concussion.

"Multiple contusions from scratches and bites," the doctor concluded.

"Insect bites or human bites?" Kono asked.

"Both," Dr. Hanson told him. Involuntarily, Kono flinched. "We took pictures of the bites for evidence."

"Good," Danno said. "Doctor, you said she had a concussion. Does she remember the attack?"

"Yes," the doctor replied. "Though I don’t know whether that’s good or bad."

"It could be a break in the case," Danno told him. "When can we see her? We want to talk to her while any important details are still fresh in her mind."

Danno and Kono waited in the hall while Dr. Hanson went to find Cleo’s mother and get permission for the Five-O cops to question her daughter. Danno looked restless. Kono made a bet with himself that Danno wanted a cigarette. Danno was a former smoker, and he had once told Kono that he had never really lost the craving for the weed, especially when he was wound up.

"I hope she can describe the guy," Danny finally said.

Kono nodded. "Sure sounds the same as the Sakata case." Like Cleo Kaina, Faye Sakata, a 30-year-old wife and mother, had been left for dead in a vacant lot, raped and beaten. Mrs. Sakata had spent five days in a coma. When she had woken up, she had no memory of the sadistic attack or the several hours leading up to it. Mrs. Sakata was finally back home now, trying to make the adjustment from her old life as a bright, funny, accomplished woman to a new one as a crime victim with injuries and brain damage that would require intensive rehabilitation.

After a few minutes, Dr. Hanson escorted them into a private room. A short, plump Hawaiian woman sat next to the bed. She had a kind face that was puffy and discolored from crying. In the bed lay her daughter, Cleo Kaina. Covered with blankets despite the warm day, Cleo looked like a war refugee. Her leg was in a cast and her jaw was wired shut. Her eyes were closed when Kono and Danny entered the room, but she wasn’t asleep. As soon as she heard them, she opened her swollen lids and looked silently at them.

Kono wondered whether she would talk to them. Sometimes his dark visage and big, beefy build scared people. Danno presented a more boyish, non-threatening appearance. On the other hand, Danno was a haole—maybe the fact that Kono was Hawaiian would reassure the girl and her mother. Not for the first time, he wished McGarrett would consider adding a policewoman to the squad.

"Cleo, Mrs. Kaina, we’re sorry to intrude," Danno began. "We just have a few questions and then we’ll be on our way."

"OK," Mrs. Kaina said weakly. She stroked Cleo’s arm gently.

"Cleo," Danny said, "All we want to know is, do you know who did this to you?"

Painfully, Cleo gave her head the slightest of shakes. Her cracked lips parted. Through her shattered jaw, her voice was slurred but understandable. "I never saw him before."

"But you did see him?" Kono asked. "Can you describe him?"

"Yes," she hissed.

After the police artist arrived, Danny left, heading over to HPD to check on the early investigation into the case. Kono stayed at the hospital and helped Cleo and the artist with the sketch. Sometimes people didn’t realize how much they had observed without some prompting. Was he a haole, Hawaiian, pake, Japanese? What color was his hair? How did he wear it? Did he have a moustache? Glasses? Big teeth? Did they stick out? What was he wearing? Jewelry? Anything funny about his voice? Did he sound like he was local or from the mainland?

At the end of the session Mrs. Kaina pulled the blankets up around Cleo and kissed her. Cleo closed her eyes and appeared to fall asleep right away. Kono wished there was enough sleep in the world to keep a brave girl from waking up to a world where men set upon women like wild beasts.

***

Kono’s next order of business was to make a couple hundred copies of the sketch, and distribute them everywhere. His first stop was HPD, where he gave most of the copies to the desk sergeant in charge, Duke Lukela.

Duke took the sketches and scrutinized the rapist’s picture—an ugly haole face, about 50, balding with a prominent nose. "I’ll get it into every squad car by tonight," Duke promised. "I just hope it looks like the bastard."

"Yeah," Kono said. "Sometimes these sketches aren’t too close. But the girl seemed pretty sure." Kono sighed. He wanted to talk to the Sarge about how the case made him feel. But Duke had only been back at work a week or so, after having had a heart attack in the summer. The Sarge looked so tired and haggard that Kono decided just to keep his thoughts to himself.

Duke asked him if he had heard about the suicide over on the Likelike Freeway. Traffic had been tied up for hours, Duke said, after a guy had stepped off the bridge and fallen onto the highway below.

"The damndest thing was, Doc says it wasn’t the fall that killed him."

"What was it?" Kono asked.

"The sudden stop at the end," Duke replied.

Ordinarily, Kono would have laughed. Sometimes a healthy dose of gallows humor was the only thing that stood between a cop and the bughouse. But today, he just didn’t feel like it. "You need to get some new jokes, Sarge," he said. "I first heard that one when I was at the academy."

"An oldie but a goodie," Duke said. Then his expression turned somber. "Kono, we’re on this. Danny briefed everyone when he was over here earlier, and I just sent a squad over there to search that construction site where the girl was found. It’s top priority."

***

Kono spent the morning visiting Honolulu’s three TV stations to deliver the sketch and discuss the case with their crime reporters. Then, he trudged back to the car and headed back for Five-O headquarters. He knew the office would be humming with the preparations for the Dalai Lama’s visit. Kono felt selfish for wondering why the Dalai Lama couldn’t just stay home. He knew the Tibetan holy man wasn’t visiting just to create hassles for Hawaii Five-O. It only seemed that way.

His radio buzzed. "Williams to Kalakaua."

Kono scooped the mouthpiece off the dash. "Yeah, Danny."

"News," Danny said. "Che Fong called and said meet him at the lab. He’s got something for us."

When he got there, Danny and Che were standing in front of a big lab table. A mangled red bicycle was lying across the table, the rear wheel twisted into the air, the handlebars bent back toward the seat.

"Cleo Kaina’s bike," Danny said. "An HPD uniform found it in a ditch this morning, near where they picked up the girl."

"Fingerprints?" Kono asked hopefully.

"Got ‘em," Che answered. "Several good ones that didn’t match the girl’s. I sent a copy to HPD and gave a copy to Danno to send to Washington."

Kono felt a glimmer of hope. Maybe they would get lucky.

"But that’s not all," Che said. "Take a look at this." He gestured to streaks across the bike’s broken frame. Shiny chocolate-brown wounds on the cheerful red paint. "Scratches?" Kono asked.

"Paint," Che corrected. "Automobile paint."

Kono grinned at him. "Can you tell us the car?"

He was joking—Che’s ability to work miracles with mere shreds of evidence had made him one of the country’s leading forensic scientists. In all seriousness, Che replied, "A Chrysler."

Danny and Kono exchanged amazed glances. "Don’t tell me we’re going to get a break on this case," Kono said.

"Maybe," Che said. He explained how he had matched the paint’s color with master information from the automakers. Only Chrysler used this particular shade of brown. "And only for certain models," Che added, handing Danny a list.

Kono took the list out of Danny’s hand. "I’ll get this to HPD and all the press. Tell ‘em we’re looking for the ugly sonuvabitch driving a scratched brown Chrysler."

"And maybe pretty soon," Danno said, heading out the door with the fingerprints, "the ugly sonvabitch will have a name."

***

All afternoon, Danno and Kono canvassed the neighborhood between King Kam High and the construction site, knocking on doors, showing the sketch, and asking questions about the brown Chrysler. Everyone had heard about what had happened to Cleo. Everyone wanted to be helpful. Some of them even offered their own explanations for the crime.

"She shouldn’t have been riding her bike home from school," one elderly man told them.

"Why not?" said Kono.

"Something bad was bound to happen," the man replied. "Sooner or later."

Since becoming a cop, Kono never ceased to marvel at man’s inability to comprehend his own evil. Faced with the fact that a neighbor girl had been raped and punched senseless a quarter-mile from his own house, this man wanted to explain it away with a new rule—no bike riding.

"Do you have a granddaughter?" Kono asked.

The old man blinked with surprise. "Yes," he said cautiously.

"Then I hope she doesn’t sell lemonade. Or rollerskate. Or sell Girl Scout cookies. ‘Cause I guess that would make it her fault, if some asshole she’s never laid eyes on decides to ruin her life—sooner or later."

The man opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, then looked at Danno for some appeal from this unreasonable Hawaiian. Danno just gave him that cold, impassive, blue-eyed stare of his, and he and Kono moved on to canvass the next house. At four o’clock, they met a squad of HPD men at King Kam High, and canvassed the students walking home in the same direction as Cleo Kaina’s bike route.

By the time they’d finished, they had a lot of tips, mostly of the "My brother-in-law owns a brown Chrysler and he’s a real creep" variety. They would all have to be checked out. Kono knew they had only scratched the surface of tips on this case. As soon as the picture and description ran on the evening news, HPD would be flooded with tips from helpful citizens. Most of them would be worthless. But on a case like this, you had to get the public involved.

He and Danny stopped by Wong’s on the way back to the office and ordered some specials to go. "Let’s get stuff for Steve and Chin, too," Kono said. "They’ll be pulling an all-nighter with the Dalai Lama’s visit tomorrow."

"And Jenny," Danny said. "Let’s get her something special. With shrimp."

Kono smiled and placed the order. Jenny was their secretary. Sometimes she lent the only touch of humanity to their grim operation. Kono didn’t know why she put up with a thankless job that involved long hours of office tasks for four overworked cops, but she seemed to like it. She said it was always something different.

They toted the bags of food out to the car. Kono pulled the sedan out into the diminishing remnants of rush hour.

"Maybe we’ll get something back on the prints tonight," Danny said quietly.

"We’ll get him, Danno," Kono said. He pictured Cleo Kaina and her mom, over at the hospital. "We have to."

***

Nothing came in on the prints that night. It was deepest night on the mainland, and Kono figured they would have to wait until the next day, at least. When he brought McGarrett up to speed on the case, he tried to hide his frustration, but he couldn’t quite keep the sullen tone out of his voice. If McGarrett noticed, though, he didn’t care. He seemed consumed by the plans for the Dalai Lama’s visit the next day.

Kono didn’t bother going to bed. Instead, he just changed into an aloha shirt and hit Hotel Street with his sketch, working his street sources. It was closing time when he finally got a tip. Alice was a faded hooker with a blonde wig that didn’t go with her brown skin. In the four years Kono had known her, she had worked her way down from Waikiki luxury hotels to Chinatown’s alleyways. Heroin and whoring were unkind to a girl’s looks. Alice was walking home on her high heels alone.

"We’re looking for this ugly haole. You seen him around? Maybe go in for the rough stuff?" Kono asked her.

Alice studied the picture. There seemed to be genuine recognition. Kono thought it was more than the chance to make a couple of bucks off him. "Yeah. I recognize the bastard. He beat the shit out of me two weeks ago," Alice told Kono. "I didn’t work for three days."

"Why?" Kono asked.

"Why do you think? He got off on it," Alice said. She sighed. "One of these days this life is gonna kill me, Kono."

Kono was afraid she was right. "Do you remember anything that might help us find him, Alice? He raped a nice little girl last night."

Alice flinched. Who could tell, maybe once she had been a nice little girl. "Yeah, he told me his name was Donald." Kono peeled off a bill for her. "And he wore a button-down shirt. He kept all his clothes on, the whole time. How you figga that?"

Kono handed her two bills. "Prison tattoos, probably. Thanks, Alice. Have a nice night."

He phoned in the information to HPD. He wanted to do more, but he was utterly beat. He went to his apartment and crashed for the next few hours. When he hauled himself out of bed at first light, he wasn’t sure the nap had been a good idea. His face looked gray and swollen in the mirror. He hardly recognized himself. It was going to take more than a shower and coffee to make him feel like Kono again.

Kono stopped by the hospital on his way into work. An HPD uniform was on Cleo Kaina’s door. "Duke ordered a guard posted last night," he told Kono, "after the story ran on the news. He figured better safe than sorry."

"Too late," Kono said. The uniform blinked in surprise. "Too late to be safe, I mean," Kono explained. The uniform responded with a helpless shrug.

Kono didn’t stay long. Cleo woke up when he came in the room, and Kono just told her that they were working hard to catch the man. Cleo’s eyes filled with tears, but she gave Kono the shaka sign anyway. Hang loose.

"Hang loose, tita," Kono smiled back. A tita was a tough local girl. Cleo deserved the title if anybody did.

As Kono had predicted, the news coverage had resulted in a flood of tips. He and Danno vetted them from most likely to least likely, then met with Duke over at HPD and detailed the manpower to start running them down. It was quiet over at police headquarters; those cops who weren’t at their regular patrols were assigned to the Dalai Lama’s visit. Somewhere in his mind, Kono was aware that the visit must be underway. Governor Jameson was probably escorting the Dalai Lama to the East-West Center right now. The footage would be great for his re-election campaign.

"Hey, Danno," Kono said, "Think Chin’ll bring us anything back from that fancy lunch for the Dalai Lama?"

Danny smiled. "If there’s any leftovers, they won’t get past Chin."

Go to Part 2

   
   Back to the home page