My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Friday, December 7, 2001

A matter of trust

>> Honolulu International Airport

It was the moment that Muhammed Resurreccion always hated most -- the moment he had to trust a stranger. Yes, he had a photo of the young woman Wilhemina Orlando who had been recruited to their cause. Yes, she was one of them, her roots in Mindanao reaching back thousands of years. And yes, it was true, there were no doubts about her loyalty. But still. She was a stranger to Muhammed, and he would make his own judgments.

It was the first time that Wilhemina Orlando had ever done such a thing. But of course she had never been Sandy before. That's the name they'd given her when she went to the Americans with her story. She'd been desperate, and then one day after work as a maid at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, she walked down the beach to the Hale Koa. She saw a tall black man getting out of a convertible, slinging a golf bag over his shoulder, tipping the valet. She intercepted him and his clanking golf clubs just short of the lobby.

"Are you in the military?!"


"I need help!"

He looked around, ready to defend her with a 9-iron. "Has someone hurt you?"

"No, not like that." She calmed down somewhat and managed to explain in an urgent whisper that she'd been asked to take part in a plot against America, she didn't know what or where, but she was scared because she loved America, the wonderful nation that had adopted her.

And that was the end of the much-anticipated Hawaii vacation -- after just two days -- for Martin Luther Washington, Navy intelligence officer whose specialty was counter-terrorism. Washington took the woman down to the beach, away from ears both human and electronic, to get more details of her story. And when he was satisfied she was telling the truth and wasn't some kook, he called his boss Lt. Col Chuck Ryan in D.C. and gave him the scoop.

Since the woman trusted Marty, Ryan decided to let him run with this one.

Ryan notified the head of the Honolulu office, who in times past might have turned this into a turf war. But he'd had his hands full since Sept. 11. If some vacationing D.C. cowboy wanted to babysit an alleged informant, it was no sweat off his overworked people's okoles.

Muhammed Resurreccion stepped out of the immigration terminal and recognized the silver-blue rental van and the driver immediately. A photo of both, as well as the license number, had been wireless e-mailed, which he'd checked on his laptop while awaiting his lone suitcase. Even as his heart raced, Muhammed smiled pleasantly as the van pulled to the curb. The moment he hated was here -- trust a stranger, get into her van.

He did, looking for tell-tale signs of nervousness.

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

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