My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

The Honolulu Soap Co.:
Sunday digest

>> Honolulu Soap Co.

HPD Detective Sherlock Gomes was only fishing, going on a hunch, and not even his own, but his protege's, Kona Weathers. And at this point, Gomes was as interested in what Sheets Ah Sun said as how he said it.

Gomes said, pulled a notebook from the pocket of his silk aloha shirt.

"I was curious about something, Mr. Ah Sun, and when I'm curious I ask questions."

Sheets felt his heart pounding, hoped Gomes couldn't see it beating through his Reyn Spooner reverse print shirt.

"I was curious why you apparently went out of your way ..."

Oh God, Sheets thought, he knows ...

"... twice, yesterday morning ... and then again this morning ..."

My brother Mits was right, the cops always keep an eye on crime scenes because it's true, the perp always returns to the scene of the crime ...

"... and drove past where an investigation is currently happening ..."

And I was stupid enough not to listen to my cop brother ...

"... at an illegal chemical dump site in Waimanalo ..."

I'm dead ...

"... and it seems like a funny way to get from home in Kailua to work in Kalihi."

The money that Sheets had lost playing poker over the years suddenly seemed like the best investment in his future he'd ever made. "I'm like you, detective. I'm curious, especially when there's news in an area I know pretty well."

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

"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.

"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.

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 ...

"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"

Some days his job was too easy ...

"So my friend brought me out here one night after work.

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

And this guy was the brother of a 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."

"I appreciate your forthrightness, Mr. Ah Sun." He glanced at his notepad. "The auto mechanic who introduced you to the Waimanalo dumpsite, what was his name?"

"Oh, he passed away a while back. Howard Okata, worked out of his house in Aiea."

Gomes noted it. "And the 'mistakes' you made. What exactly constitutes soap-gone-bad?"

"Eh, mistakes happen, like in any business. Heck, that's how I invented liquid soap. Total mistake! But like I said, I was raised plantation style, and you don't throw nothing away."

"You hate to throw anything away, yet two or three times, you said, you dumped things at the Waimanalo site. What was different about those batches?"

"One time, too strong, would have burned the skin. One other time, the batch came so hard, it wouldn't dissolve and, you know, suds up like."

"And the third time?"

"Maybe was only two." Two that he could talk about. "So how much trouble I'm in?"

"Not my call. I'll write up the report, file it. But I imagine the statute of limitations is up."

Sheets let out a grateful sigh. Gomes put his notepad and pen back in the pocket of his silk aloha shirt. This guy, Sheets thought, may be a detective, but he's no plainclothesman.

Don Chapman is the editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily, with a synopsis on Sunday.

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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