In the Day when Heaven was Falling

by Mary Clare

Honolulu, November 21, 1967

Chin Ho Kelly didn't see how it could have been worse.

He stood on the front steps of the rented house, watching the staff from the Medical Examiner's office go about their business. Although the work was gruesome, he wished he could do something to help. A stream of terrible emotions flooded through him -- anger, impotence, shock, self-doubt . Having something to do would stave it off for a while.

"Got all the pictures you need, Kimo?" Doc Bergman asked. Kimo, the HPD photographer, murmured in the affirmative. "All right," Doc said, "let's turn him over."

Chin gritted his teeth and stared at the board near his feet. A red footprint stood out, marked off by yellow evidence tape. It was the footprint of a killer, neatly left in blood. Probably McGarrett's, Chin thought. The lab boys will type it, and then we'll know for sure ...

He squatted down and slammed his fist on his knee in anguish. How could it go so wrong? Today was the day it was all supposed to come together. For weeks, Steve McGarrett had been working undercover, posing as a hit man, setting a pair of drug dealers up for a fall.

The Goulet brothers were from the mainland, and in the past six months, they had moved into Hotel Street in a big way. When Lloyd Deford brought Chin in on the case, he told him, "The Goulets are an element we haven't seen before in the vice trade on this island. They're vicious, crazy -- and smart. If we don't keep them from getting a foothold here, Chin, there's going to be killing. So we have to stop them. At any cost."

Only he didn't know what the cost would be, Chin thought. None of us knew.

That morning, they sewed a wire into the lining of Steve's jacket and set Chin up in a sound truck across the street. McGarrett was jumpy, on-edge: Chin could almost hear his heart beating underneath his sharkskin suit. Chin listened intently through earphones, recording every word, as McGarrett and Christie Goulet haggled endlessly over the price of the hit.

Finally, Steve struck a deal and the money changed hands. Immediately, Chin gave a pre-arranged signal to the Five-0 boys that meant, "We've got what we need. Move in." With guns drawn, Deford and Hada took the front of the house, while Kala'oka headed around back. Chin felt a rush of anticipation. This was going to be a big one.

Suddenly, a word came over Chin's earphones that stopped his breath and made his blood congeal. One of the Goulet brothers had just said "McGarrett." Chin heard Steve's panicked voice yelping over the wire: "Chin! Call it off!" In one confused fraction of a second, he realized that somehow, incredibly, Steve had blown his cover.

Frantically, he wondered: Call it off? How? Deford and the others had already surrounded the house. Hada was kicking in the door. It's too late, bruddah!

Then the shooting started.

It sounded like a war in there, from the number and frequency of the shots that came booming over his earphones. Chin switched on his police radio and screamed out a message to Detective Frank Kamana in the nearest backup unit: "Car Three! Shots fired! Move in on the double!"

The noise in his ears were so confused Chin couldn't tell what was happening. He winced when he heard one of the Goulet brothers shriek, "The great Hawaii Five-O!", followed by more gunfire. Then he heard a sound that filled him with numb horror: it was a man's voice screaming in pain, crying and gurgling and bleating. It was Steve McGarrett.

"Officer down! Officer down!" Chin shouted into his radio. "All cars move in, now!" Grabbing his gun, he slammed the radio down and slid open the door of the sound truck, just in time to see the Goulet brothers race out the front door of the rented house. They leapt into their car and took off ewa. Two police cars screeched after them, sirens wailing.

Chin knew the clunky van would be of no help in the chase. He snatched up the radio again and shouted: "Central! Dispatch an ambulance to 4113 Mauna Kea. We've got one officer down, maybe more." Chin didn't know why he'd said "maybe." None of the Five-O boys had emerged from the house.

"Ambulance on its way," the dispatch officer replied calmly. "How bad is it, Chin?"

"Don't know yet. Plenty bad," Chin replied. He could hear his own breath wheezing in and out of his lungs as a black-and-white pulled up. "Move it!" he ordered. "We've got hurt men in there!"

Chin and the officers raced up the front steps. They reached the doorway and stopped. Chin wasn't sure for a second if he could make himself go inside. In the blood spattered interior of that house of horror lay what was left of the great Hawaii Five-O.

Ted Hada lay sprawled in the doorway. He looked as if someone had removed the top of his head with a can opener, then neatly emptied Ted's brains out onto the floor. A few steps further into the house was Lloyd Deford, lying face down, motionless. His gun was still in his hand; the side of his head a matted mess of slick red blood.

On the other side of the room, Julian Kala'oka lay crumpled against the wall, a huge blood-streak behind him marking where he'd fell. He was so soaked with red it was impossible to tell what color shirt he had put on that morning. It must have taken four or five bullets to bring the big Hawaiian down; he lost an incredible amount of blood before his heart mercifully stopped beating.

Then there was McGarrett. He was lying on the floor near the sofa, his face gray and drawn, holding his intestines. Steve had stopped screaming and was now barely lucid. Averting his eyes from the messy gut wound, Chin knelt down and gripped McGarrett's arm. "It's OK, Steve. Ambulance will be here soon."

Steve met his gaze for only a second. His eyes revealed a deeper pain than Chin had ever seen in anybody who had survived. Then they rolled back in his head and he fell into unconsciousness.

Within a few minutes, the paramedics burst in the door. They started to bend over Ted Hada until Chin called out "Over here!" and motioned them towards McGarrett. It was obvious to him that Hada, Deford, and Kala'oka were dead. McGarrett was alive, just barely, but Chin prayed he would make it. He swallowed as he watched the attendants load McGarrett onto a stretcher and haul him away. Despite the jokes around HPD about McGarrett's military intelligence background, Chin could honestly say that over the course of this operation, he'd grown to respect McGarrett as much as any cop he'd ever met.

Policemen were swarming all over the yard, shouting and swearing in agitation. Chin shuddered when he saw Doc Bergman pull up in his white Ford sedan. The full impact of what had happened hit him hard. He clenched his teeth and forced himself to keep it together.

Doc Bergman had been an M.E. for fifteen years and had literally seen everything, but today even he looked rattled. Doc didn't say a word as he entered the house and squatted down by Ted Hada, making a cursory examination of his head wound. Then he moved on to Deford. Chin was startled when he saw Doc put his hand on Deford's neck. Doc concentrated intently for a moment, then looked up at Chin in surprise. "He's got a pulse!"

Chin couldn't believe it. "Get another ambulance out here!" he shouted to a cop outside. He stared incredulously down at Deford's prone body, wondering How can he possibly be alive? Then he remembered who they were talking about. Deford was a fighter. They didn't call him "The Bulldog" for nothing.

After an agonizing delay, a second ambulance arrived and whisked Deford off to the hospital. Chin got busy setting up a police barricade around the house while Doc and his underlings got on with their grim work. After a while, Frank Kamana returned to the crime scene and walked slowly up to Chin. Chin saw the glazed expression on Frank's face and felt worried.

"We got them," Frank said.

Chin nodded. "What happened?" he wanted to know.

"We finally caught up with them in Makaha," Frank replied. Once he started talking, he couldn't seem to stop. "We ran them up a cliff -- we had three units chasing them, and three more moving to intercept. They got out of the car ... they were running. But they didn't have a chance. It was like Bonnie and Clyde. I just started shooting -- we all did. We must have killed those sonsofbitches a thousand times over."

Chin shook his head; he didn't want to hear any more. "We'll talk about it later," he said, and he meant it: Frank needed to tell somebody, and nobody but their own kind had any sympathy for cops. Frank sighed and looked down at the grass. Then he said, "Guess I'll head over to the hospital." He climbed back into his car and left.

Chin concentrated on holding sightseers at bay so the M.E.'s office could do their job. A host of reporters had started to gather, like vultures at the scene of a kill. Chin instructed uniformed officers to keep them well back. Then he stood outside on the steps, staring at the bloody footprint in a kind of numb despair. Why? How? he wondered over and over. The coroner's wagon idled noisily in the driveway, waiting to take Ted Hada and Julian Kala'oka away.

Doc had just about wrapped it up when Chin saw another black-and-white pull up and park behind the wagon. Duke Lukela climbed out. Cringing inwardly, Chin hurried down the steps and planted himself on the walkway.

"Don't go in there, Duke!" he said firmly.

"I have to, Chin!" Duke said. Although Chin probably had thirty pounds on him, Duke took him by the shoulders and bodily moved him out of the way. Then he stormed past Chin, up the walkway and into the house.

Chin bowed his head, cursed himself, and wondered if this terrible day would ever end.

***

If someone had asked Duke Lukela why he insisted going there that day, he wouldn't have had an answer. It was something primal -- the deep human need for proof. His eyes had to see before his mind could believe that Julian Kala'oka was dead.

Duke's heart thudded in his chest as he stepped through the doorway. He almost tripped over the body that was lying just inside it. Doc Bergman looked up sharply from his tissue samples, ready to chew out him out -- but when he saw it was Duke, he snapped his mouth shut and looked away.

Duke glanced around the room. The house stank of blood and death. He stared down at the body at his feet and knew by the diminutive size of the man that it must be Ted Hada. That meant the other one was JuJu.

Hada was lying on his back, his head and torso covered by a sheet, his meticulously shined shoes poking out the other end. Duke stooped down and lifted the sheet off Ted's face. He dropped it quickly; the wound was ghastly.

Duke let out a long sigh of disbelief. I've known you for twenty years, he thought, I ate lunch with you just yesterday. Ted knew Duke grew up on a farm and spent the whole hour pumping him for information about, of all things, raising goats. Ted was not a great fan of the human race, but he loved animals. In fact, Duke had one of his puppies at home.

Thinking of "home" brought his mind back to JuJu. Duke stood up and stepped over Ted's body, feeling as if he were moving in slow motion. The other body was propped against the wall, draped in a sheet, legs extended. This man's shoes were considerably less shiny than Ted's.

Duke bent down and carefully lifted the sheet away from JuJu's face. Pain ripped through him like an electric shock, twisting and burning in his gut. Oh Julian, what have they done to you?

JuJu's torso had been ripped to shreds by a storm of bullets. But in spite of the violent way he died, his expression was curiously composed. His brown eyes were half-open and turned slightly inward. Only there was no light there, no ready smile on his lips, no laughter about to tumble out of him. It was all wrong. Duke had never seen anyone so obviously dead who had once been so vibrantly alive.

The two adjectives people applied most often to Julian Kala'oka were "irrepressible" and "incorrigible." Duke believed the first but not the second. He first met JuJu seventeen years ago, when the kid was hauled into the station for breaking into pinball machines. At fifteen, JuJu had been orphaned for four years and shuttled around to more foster homes than he could count. He was dirty, scrawny, and spoke an irritating mixture of Hawaiian and pidgin English. When the cop on the desk told him his current foster parents declined to take him back, JuJu shrugged and said, "'Ey! No big t'ing, brah!" Duke saw immediately that he was all smartass bravado, with nothing to back it up.

Ignoring advice from practically everybody, he and Billie took the kid into their home. Sure, it was a risk -- after all, they had a new baby to deal with -- but Duke realized that behind the angry facade, JuJu had a keen intelligence and desperate desire to be somebody. Why should he wind up a criminal, and not a decent, caring, responsible man?

Although he was only ten years older, Duke took on the role of father to his new hanai. Once they got past some rough spots, JuJu surpassed Duke's wildest expectations. He straightened himself around to become a star student and athlete at King Kamehameha High School -- good enough to win a scholarship to Duke's own alma mater, Stanford University.

It was at Stanford that JuJu's intelligence came into full flower. He studied forensic science and criminology and graduated with highest honors. Then he returned to the islands and joined HPD, rising quickly out of the ranks to become a brilliant detective. When Lloyd Deford announced JuJu's selection to the last coveted spot in Hawaii Five-O, Duke almost couldn't believe it. The man he thought of as his own son had surpassed him. Later, in a moment of private reflection, Duke admitted to himself that it was both the proudest and bitterest moment of his life.

But for all JuJu's professional accomplishments, what Duke loved most about him was simply the way he was. In spite of his Ivy League education, JuJu remained ever the laughing smartass island boy, who lived for surfing and was forever extolling the charms of his latest wahine. He was intensely interested in Hawaiian culture and devoted himself to preserving the old ways with a fervor that made even Duke uncomfortable. He could switch between pidgin and the King's English at the drop of a hat, and was just as much at home talking with politicians and lawyers as he was with beach boys and criminals.

JuJu was a loving son to Billie and Duke and a caring big brother to the Lukela kids, always ready with a joke or advice or a bearhug, when they needed it. Secretly, Duke sometimes felt a little awed by the man JuJu had grown into. In his more egotistical moments, he assured himself that it was due to his own influence. But mostly he just looked on, with love and pride and a little envy, and felt glad he hadn't turned away from Julian Kala'oka, like everybody else, that rainy afternoon at Juvenile Hall.

Now, it was all over.

Duke draped the sheet back over JuJu's face as if he were tucking the bedcovers over a beloved child. He remained there motionless for a long time, lost in this time and place, listening to the sound of his own breathing.

Finally he cleared his throat and said: "Doc, how many bullets did he take?"

Doc met his question with silence. Duke looked up, resenting it. "Doc --" he began again.

"Six," Doc said at last. "One to the right arm, one to the stomach, two to the lungs, two straight to the heart. It was quick, Duke."

Duke swallowed. He knew Doc was trying to console him, but it was no comfort to know the sudden brutality with which your loved ones could be ripped away. He stood up quickly and left the house. Brushing past Chin, Duke walked a few steps over to the side yard and stood by himself.

There, with effort, he got himself under control. Duke Lukela was a cop. He'd be damned if he'd let any of these bastards see him cry.

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