My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Coming clean

>> Honolulu Soap Co.

Sheets Ah Sun's heart was running away with the fear monger, but his inner poker player was holding tight.

"I'm like you, detective, I'm curious," he said in reply to HPD Detective Sherlock Gomes' question. "Especially when something happens in an area I know pretty well."

Gomes' heart did its own little windsprint. Ah Sun was calm, cool, unruffled, but it sounded as if he was admitting to knowing something about the illegal chemical dumpsite in Waimanalo. Purging the urge to ask the questions that shouted in his mind, Gomes followed the first rule of all good interviewing: when a subject is in the middle of a pertinent stream-of-consciousness roll, let 'em rock. Make a mental note and come back to your questions later.

"You know, I heard about your reputation. Now I know why. You get all your bases covered, detective. And I have to admit, you got me here."

Gomes sat up a little straighter.

"But there's plenty other people have even more interest in what you guys find out there than I do."

Oh, the questions that were shouting to be asked. But Gomes beat them back. And Ah Sun kept talking ...

It looked like he was getting away with that last lie for the moment, and Sheets plunged ahead. "That particular site had been used for dumping long time already before my friend took me out there. That would have been, oh, around 1978, '79. He was a mechanic, used it from time to time to dump used motor fluids."

Get the mechanic's name later ...

"That was when we was just starting this company, and bum-bye we had a couple pretty bad mistakes. No can pour down the drain, otherwise going clog it up, that's why. No can put it in the rubbish, still liquid. And no more money to pay Brewer to haul it away. In those days, we was running on shoestrings."

Some days his job was too easy ...

"So my friend brought me out here one night after work. You know what, even then the pit glowed kind of like fluorescent green."

Way too easy maybe ...

"Two, maybe three other times I went out there to dump stuff."

And this guy was the brother of cop ...

"Yeah, that's right, three times." Twice it was a mixture of soap that didn't work. Then there was that night with Bobo.

Yeah, Ah Sun was probably glad to get this off his chest ...

"I'd been kind of debating in my own mind, eh, maybe I should just say something to somebody. So you ask questions, I gotta come clean."

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be e-mailed at

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