My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Good guess

» Kona

"I understand," Cruz MacKenzie said, squinting into the setting sun from the lanai at Dorian's, "that you sold a short-term policy to Daren Guy just before he died."

Nick Ornellas, the Honolulu cop turned Kona insurance salesman, nodded.

"Talk about timing."

"How's the company feel about that?"

"Oh, they're happy as ..." He stopped, leaned back, frowned at Cruz. "You mean to say you've made a career as a journalist asking lame-ass questions like that?"

Ornellas was a little sensitive on this subject. "OK, let me rephrase the question. Who was Daren Guy's beneficiary?"

"Can't really say."

"How much was the policy?"

"Can't really say."

A dead end.

"What about foul play?"

"Homicide is looking into it. There's a fisherman who drove Daren out to his boat. His story is Daren jumped in and swam the last 30 yards or so."

"Mano Kekai?! I talked to him too. So what's the motive?"

"Jealousy? Who knows? But right now, he's it."

Cruz could have told Ornellas the truth -- that Daren made it alive to his boat, shaved, then went for a swim -- but he'd rather give away money than give away a fact for free. "I hear they're sending out a mainland guy to do the investigation instead of the local crew."

"How'd you know that?"

Cruz shrugged. He didn't know. He'd just guessed right. "Tell me, right or wrong, would it be good if you could figure this thing out? That's if -- I'm just saying if -- it really is some kind of fraud."

Ornellas stared at Cruz in disbelief, shook his head. "Now you're talking fiction, not journalism."

Up to that point, Cruz hadn't thought of fraud as a likely scenario. He believed Daren Guy was dead, a light snack for a big shark. The idea of fraud just popped up.

"What are you talking about?" Ornellas continued. "Fraud takes time, planning. He died barely two or three hours after taking out the policy, which he bought three hours after winning the lottery, which he had no way of planning for. I swear, you media guys are too much."

"Tell you what. I have some information, which I think is crucial to the investigation. The police don't even know about this yet."

Ornellas grunted, unimpressed.

"It pertains to the timing of Daren Guys death. I'm willing to trade secrets with you. A little squid pro quo."

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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


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