My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Sunday, December 23, 2001

The Honolulu Soap Co.:
Sunday digest

>> Kailua

Neither Sheets Ah Sun nor his wife Grace had slept much last night. She assumed that Sheets was restless for the same reason she was - their youngest son Lance lay in a coma at Queen's after falling and hitting his head during the hate crimes rally. Which probably confirmed what they'd privately suspected for years -Lance was gay. That was of far less concern to Grace than her son's health, although she suspected the gay thing was weighing heavily on her husband. Sheets gave her no clues to what was really churning his mind. This morning when they were getting ready to return to their grim vigil at Lance's bedside, Sheets said he had a couple of business things to take care of.

The difference between men and women, right there. With her baby lying near death, work was very low on Grace's priority pole. Of course the legislature was not in session. And her boss Sen. Donovan Matsuda-Yee-Dela Cruz-Bishop-Kamaka had left a message last night that he was going to Portland.

The reasons Sheets couldn't sleep last night came down to the radio report he'd heard yesterday about a previously unknown illegal chemical dump site contaminating a new Board of Water Supply well in Waimanalo. That's why Sheets was driving to town via Waimanalo. He had to see if this was the site he knew from 27 years ago.

>>Queen's Medical Center

Charge Nurse Van Truong was her usual quick and competent self as Dr. Laurie Tang put a cast on another kid who fell and broke his wrist while wearing those ridiculous shoes with wheels in the soles.

Dr. Laurie had worked in the ER with Van for long enough to know her moods. And this morning Van was looking, well, different. Dr. Laurie couldn't put a finger on it - like Van didn't get enough sleep but it was the best thing that ever happened to her.

Or maybe Laurie was just looking at the world in a different way since meeting HPD Detective Sherlock Gomes this morning. So different that she invited him to her condo for dinner tonight.

Then Laurie remembered.

"So how'd it go with that on-line match-making service last night?"

Van's eyes glazed over, a grin spread across her face. "So many men," she said, clearly amazed, "going crazy for me."

>>Two-way phone call

They were so close, friends practically forever, that the identical but very different twins Fawn and Shauny Nakamura called Lily Ah Sun "the third twin." So when Fawn, moments after admonishing Lily about the inherent sin in having a romantic relationship with her first cousin Quinn, suddenly decided she was late for something and clicked off their three-way call, Shauny and Lily both knew she was upset.

"She can't help it," Lily said.

"No, it's her stupid religion!" Shauny said. "I hope Chuck Ryan knows what he's getting himself into with her!" They both knew Chuck Ryan was not getting into anything until he married Fawn, who'd vowed to remain a virgin until marriage.

"Hey!" Shauny said, "you and Quinn have my blessing! And like I said, the Koran says it's OK for first cousins to marry, and Islam is a perfectly fine religion!"

"I'd have felt better about it before Sept. 11." But neither Koran blessing nor Fawn rebuke could change Lily's feeling for Quinn.

>>Hungry Lion Coffee Shop

HPD Detective Sherlock Gomes had already finished the morning edition of the Star-Bulletin. Nursing a third cup of Kona brew, he looked again at Page One. And he was grateful that they'd played Johnny B. Goo's photo of Gomes questioning a disheveled Sen. Donovan Matsuda-Yee-Dela Cruz-Bishop-Kamaka as a small photo inset into a larger photo. In his line of work, Gomes didn't want or need the publicity.

He understood why they ran Johnny B's other photo bigger. It showed the wild-eyed senator throwing a long-neck bottle of beer at Johnny B. It was a great photo, a prize-winner maybe.

Gomes glanced at his watch. Time to roll. He had a full day ahead - and the incident with Dr. Laurie Tang and the WWII Japanese mini-sub at Ala Moana Beach Park had him running late. Gomes was there - to ask her about her boyfriend, Sen. Donovan Matsuda-Yee-Dela Cruz-Bishop-Kamaka - when the sub surfaced.

Unlocking the door of his car, Gomes quickly planned the rest of his day. First things first: Arrange the senator's trip to a drug rehab clinic in Portland. That was the or-else deal he'd made after finding a drug pipe and traces of crystal methamphetamine in the senator's Makiki hideaway last night. Then he was going to visit the senator's secret girlfriend Serena Kawainui at Queen's. She was there after crashing his car yesterday. And then he'd call Sheila Fernandez about the oddest case he'd come across in months - someone was stealing family portraits out of homes, taking nothing else.

Gomes was also planning at least an hour and a half to get showered, pressed and dressed for dinner with Dr. Laurie Tang.


It was one of those things you know before you really know it, before it actually happens. Sheets Ah Sun had experienced such moments a few times in his life, moments of such clarity that he could see briefly into the future. Most of those moments were on a golf course, where he just knew that damn little dimpled ball was actually going to go where Sheets wanted it to go.

This was the same kind of deal, but far less fun than hitting the sweet spot. Turning his Cadillac off Kalanianaole Highway, Sheets felt his stomach drop. Driving mauka, he feared that when he reached the place from 27 years ago he would find a crew of government workers. There would be toxic waste clean-up experts, EPA investigators, Department of Health folks and cops to look in the hole.

Sheets zig-zagged through the back roads of Waimanalo, retracing the route he'd driven to what was then a secret chemical dump site. A sense of dread fell over him. Sheets made the final turn. The jungle vegetation had grown up, so physically the place had changed. But that was the place Sheets Ah Sun knew in his gut of guts.

Which at the moment felt like turning inside out. Because what Sheets saw made him genuinely sick to his stomach. Look how many guys they get working. Two dozen, maybe? And all of them in space suits.

Sheets slowed the Cadillac, rubbernecking. The guys in space suits were sifting through a big pile of soil. The chemicals should have liquified the evidence. He really didn't have any cause for alarm. Did he?

Of course he did. And all he could do was sweat it out and hope they didn't sift through evidence that proved either he or his brother Mits had been there 27 years ago.

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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