Suitable for Framing

by Liz Clare

INTRODUCTION: In 1968, "Hawaii Five-O" introduced television viewers to Hawaii's state police agency, its handsome, intense chief, Steve McGarrett, and his intrepid men. This story takes place four years earlier, and takes advantage of the intriguingly vague origins of Five-O and its men. What if McGarrett joined Five-O not as the boss, but as a younger cop, still learning his trade?  In this story you will encounter many of the characters that you love from the series.  You'll also meet Five-O's first chief, Lloyd Deford, the plain-spoken aristocrat who was Steve's mentor; Ted Hada, World War II veteran and star HPD detective; and Julian Kala'oka, Stanford graduate and expert in forensic science and criminology. I hope you enjoy reading about the first Five-O team as much as I have enjoyed writing about them.

I sure must have had a good time last night, Julian Kala'oka thought dimly. The ocean roared somewhere in the direction of his feet. His cheek hurt, pressed firmly into sharp grains of sand. When he peeled one eye open, he saw a sliver of washed silver light that told him it was dawn on the beach.

Hell, he hadn't slept on the beach in years. JuJu raised his head. He immediately regretted it. A nauseating throb of pain pulsed from the right side of his head and seemed to oscillate through his entire aching body. JuJu groaned. Oh, man, am I smashed!

He blinked groggily. Funny, he didn't remember driving to Makapuu Point. The focus kept slipping, like a pair of cheap binoculars. A girl lay next to him, wearing a t-shirt over a bikini. This in itself did not especially surprise JuJu. He sometimes told his friend Steve McGarrett that he believed in sleeping with a wahine first, then getting to know her if it all worked out. He enjoyed teasing McGarrett, a strait-laced Irish Catholic pretending to be a swinger since he'd moved to the islands a few years back. But Steve was no swinger. JuJu predicted McGarrett would end up married with six kids.

After deliberation, JuJu thought he might brush the sand off his face. Then he might try getting up. He had to get to work. McGarrett and the rest of the guys at Hawaii Five-O would definitely not approve of him lying hung-over on the beach after a night of wild sex. Too bad he didn't remember any of it.

Gingerly, JuJu felt the top of his head. There was a lump, painful and wet, under his fingers. He swallowed queasily. He drew his hand away and looked down. Blood.

Panic rose in Julian Kala'oka's throat. The events of last night began to come back to him. They didn't include an outcome like this, not by a long shot. He looked at the girl. Her face was bruised, swollen, discolored, but still he recognized her. "Betty?" JuJu said hoarsely. He leaned over to touch Betty's neck. She was cold. The front of her t-shirt was bloody. JuJu lifted it up. She had been stabbed, several times, and her bikini top was crusty with blood.

JuJu looked around for the knife, feeling more sober by the second. It took him a minute to find it. It was clutched in his own hand.

* * *

Steve McGarrett was an early riser. Fifteen years in the Navy had made it a habit, and not one he was likely to break as long as he worked for Lloyd Deford. But no matter how early he got up, even if he shared the route to Five-O headquarters with only the milkman and the paperboy, it seemed that the Five-O boss was always there ahead of him. Deford said it made him feel he was getting a jump on the day.

This morning was different, though. This morning, trouble had the jump on them.

He had gotten the call from Deford to head for the beach while he was still dressing. When he got to Makapuu, Deford was riding herd on the men from the HPD crime lab and the coroner's office. Even for routine cases, Deford was a stickler—some said a fanatic—about careful evidence gathering. And this case was anything but routine.

JuJu Kala'oka was sitting on the tailgate of the ambulance while a technician treated a laceration to the top of his head. Sandy and grubby, he was wearing a torn aloha shirt, stained khakis, and hiking boots. It was plain to McGarrett that JuJu was disoriented—whether from a blow to the head, from shock, or from alcohol or drugs, McGarrett couldn't tell. "Get the blood work," he murmured to the technician, who acknowledged him with a nod.

McGarrett sat on the edge of the tailgate next to JuJu. He had known the wisecracking, Stanford -educated detective since they had both joined Five-O two years earlier. McGarrett and Kala'oka had spent almost every day of that time in each other's company, sparring over crime scenes, investigating every type of felony from counterfeiting to rape to murder to international espionage. Last year, Kala'oka had unhesitatingly jumped through a wall of flame to save his neck when he was trapped in a burning warehouse.

McGarrett had never had a brother. He guessed having JuJu Kala'oka as a friend was the closest that he would ever come. He put his hand on JuJu's arm. "JuJu—what happened here?"

JuJu was too exhausted to hide his fear and confusion completely. "I don't know, man. I just woke up and there she was." He shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs. "Betty. Oh man." JuJu lifted his big hands and rubbed his face. "She was a real sweet wahine, Steve."

"Your station wagon's parked at the top of the hill," McGarrett told him. "Hada's going over it now."

"Good." JuJu said. There was no one more thorough than Ted Hada, the fourth member of the Five-O team. His attention to detail was almost frightening.  McGarrett hoped to God that Hada found something in the car that would give them a reason to start treating JuJu as a friend who had just been through an awful ordeal, instead of a murder suspect. Right now, he had a preliminary statement to take.

* * *

"Victim's name is Betty Akino, 23 years old, address 535 Kawailoa Road. Occupation: sometime student, sometime waitress, all-the-time party girl on the surfing scene," Deford read aloud from McGarrett's notes. He glanced to his right, where McGarrett and Hada stood near the bookshelves, then gazed at JuJu over the top of black horn-rimmed glasses. By this time, McGarrett had known Deford long enough to recognize his trademark look under stress—a unpredictable combination of ursine gentleness and leonine ferocity.

JuJu drooped in a chair across from Deford's desk. He looked better—the cut on his head was dressed and bandaged, and Deford had given him time to shower and change into a suit and tie. His clothes had been quietly bundled off to the lab.

He didn't act better, though, with his head down and his hands hanging between his legs. He hadn't said a word to McGarrett all the way from Makapuu to Five-O headquarters.

Deford took his glasses off, laid Steve's notebook down and placed  his hands flat on the desktop. He drew in a breath, then slowly exhaled in a deep sigh. He doesn't want JuJu to see him sweat, McGarrett thought.

"It's no news flash that this looks very bad," Deford began, addressing the team but continuing to direct his gaze at JuJu. He picked up some pink scraps of paper. "These are all messages from the Governor, wanting a callback immediately." He tossed them down, then lifted an even bigger stack of messages. "And these are all from the newspapers and the TV stations. They all want to know one thing—if a Five-O cop killed his girlfriend on the beach last night."

"She wasn't my girlfriend," JuJu shook his head in frustration. "She was just a girl I knew."

McGarrett and Hada exchanged glances. With JuJu, that could mean anything from a nodding acquaintance to regular dates and sleeping together.

"OK, take it slow, JuJu.  How did you get the bump on the head?" Deford asked.

"I don't know, Lloyd." JuJu said. "I was in the parking lot of my apartment, getting out of the car, and the next thing I knew, I woke up on the beach."

"Where had you come from? Were you out partying? Did you see Betty last night?"

"No," JuJu said. Realizing that more explanation was needed, he lifted his head. "I wasn't partying, and I wasn't drinking." Seeing their skeptical faces, JuJu implored, "I swear, you guys, I don't know what happened. Until—until this morning, I hadn't seen Betty in a long time."

"You must have gotten together with her sometime," Deford suggested.

"I don't know, Lloyd! I don't remember."

For the first time, Deford showed a flash of anger. "Well, you'd better remember! When you wake up beat-up and disoriented on the beach next to a dead girl with what looks like the murder weapon in your hand, you sure as hell better remember something!" He picked up his black horn-rims up off the desk, put them on, then changed his mind and took them off again.  "OK, JuJu, let's go over this from the beginning. You'd better tell us everything you did last night."

For the first time, JuJu sat upright. To McGarrett's surprise, he looked determined, almost reckless. "I'm sorry, Lloyd," he said firmly. "I can't tell you."

There was a moment of stunned silence. Then Ted Hada jumped forward like he was going to jerk the younger cop up by his shirt front. "Oh, come on, JuJu!" he barked incredulously. "There's a dead girl in the morgue, and all of the evidence so far looks like you did it! Stop acting like a kid and start acting like a cop!"

McGarrett saw JuJu grind his teeth—Hada knew how to sting a guy. For his part, McGarrett was nonplussed by JuJu's refusal to answer Deford. He tried the reasonable approach: "JuJu, nobody in this room thinks you stabbed that girl to death. But surely you realize that Lloyd can't go the Governor and the public and expect them to buy that on our say-so!"

Deford explained patiently, "JuJu, we need your story. You know that as well as I do. Now no matter how embarrassing or even incriminating it may sound, it will be better for you if you tell us now, from the top, what you did after you left the office last night."

Deford sounded for all the world as if the matter in dispute were a double-parked car instead of a murder rap. It was another chance for JuJu to tell them what they all wanted to hear. But instead, he just shook his head again, slowly this time. "I'm sorry, Lloyd," he repeated. "I can't tell you. If I could, I would. But I can't."

Deford and JuJu sat watching each other over the desk. McGarrett felt a growing distance in his heart. He resisted the idea of calling it doubt.

"JuJu," Deford said at last, "did you kill Betty Akino?"

Hurt and disappointment flickered across JuJu's features. Then, a look of quiet defiance settled on him. "No, Lloyd. I didn't kill her."

Deford's craggy features softened for a moment. "You know, JuJu, I have to ask." Without enthusiasm, he put his glasses on again, and looked over the notes from McGarrett and Hada. He pulled the preliminary crime scene report to the center of the desk and studied it for a full minute. The stillness grew in the room, punctuated only by the rustling of the papers. An almost imperceptible spasm of the bulldog jaw kept pace with Deford's eyes flicking across the pages. Running it through the computer, McGarrett thought. Deford cleared his throat softly. McGarrett waited, tense. One of their own was in trouble. He was ready to be sprung, to start running down this case. He knew Deford felt the same. Which made it all the more unexpected when Deford growled:

"Book him, Steve."

"What?" McGarrett yelped. "No way, Lloyd!"

"You heard me. Book him!" Deford yelled back. "Murder one!" Deford shot McGarrett a look that said, You will do it.

In disbelief, McGarrett moved to carry out the order. All he could do was give Deford a look of amazement  that replied, But I don't have to like it. JuJu was already on his feet. With precise, angry movements, he took out his badge and laid it on Deford's desk. Then he reached into his jacket, removed his gun from its shoulder holster, and placed it beside the badge.

McGarrett reached for JuJu's arm. Furious, JuJu jerked it away, then walked out of the Five-O offices with his head high. Reluctantly, McGarrett followed.

Go to Part 2

   
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