Black Jasmine(6)

By: Toby Neal



Her phone vibrated in her pocket and she flipped it open. “Hey, Stevens.”

“When you getting home? Dinner’s almost ready.”

“Half hour.”

“’K, then. Love you.”

“Likewise.” Lei closed the phone.

Pono looked up. “How’s loverboy?”

“Hungry. He’s almost got dinner ready.”

“When you guys going to get married?” Pono never tired of trying to get others into his own debatable domestic bliss. He and Tiare had stopped at two kids, something Lei considered a good thing, but the struggle to make ends meet with a family wasn’t something she was in a hurry to duplicate.

“Mind your business.” Lei dropped Pono at the station lot, where his lifted purple truck was parked.

“See you tomorrow, Sweets.” The ironic nickname her Kaua`i partner, Jenkins, had dubbed her with had been bequeathed to Pono. She’d finally given up fighting it.

“Too soon, bruddah.”

* * *

I stretch out on my four-hundred-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and flick on the flat-screen TV to the news, looking for something about the crash. I sip my evening cosmopolitan, waiting through school budget crises and a whale watch gone awry. It’s been another long, productive day managing the company, doing what I love. I’m lucky—or no, that isn’t right. I’ve made my own luck, starting a long time ago when I stole that name that felt so much more a fit than the one I’d been born with.

Finally, a grainy video, obviously someone’s cell phone—a fire truck hoisting up a yellow metal mesh body stabilizer on a windblown bluff. A cluster of uniforms wrestle the basket to the ground beside the fire truck as a voice-over begins.

“Tragedy struck on Maui when an unidentified young girl in a car went off the cliff at Pauwela Lighthouse. Authorities are still determining if the crash was an accident. Neither of the seasoned detectives assigned to the case were available for comment.”

Just a quick blip. The “seasoned detectives” will have the devil of a time finding out who the mysterious dead girl is. I’ve made sure of that. I close my eyes to savor the high from the night before. I felt like I could fly, soaring like an owl over the moonless nightscape. That high. God, it was something. Maybe that was it—I felt like God, granting life, taking it away.

I need to do a little research. I take out one of the prepackaged burner phones that I keep around for such moments and dial a number I’ve memorized—my contact at MPD. He doesn’t know who I am, but he likes the deposits I make every time I need him. That, and I have a few choice photos that ensure cooperation.

I get info on Texeira and Kaihale, detectives on the case, and tell him to keep me informed. I boot up my Apple Air, thin as a wallet. In moments, I’m online, pulling up everything I can find on Pono Kaihale.

There isn’t much. Until recently, he’d been a regular patrol officer on the Big Island. After he was promoted to detective, he moved to Maui. He looks like a tiki god come to life in his departmental photo. Buzz-cut hair, wide brown face with a bristling mustache, even wider neck. Typical "moke" cop.

Leilani Texeira is another story. A slender, athletic-looking woman with a lot of curly hair, she has tilted almond eyes, a smatter of freckles, and a full mouth. That mouth, cut wide and set hard, shows attitude.

Texeira’s got a face that’s more than pretty; it’s hard to forget. I feel a little frisson of unease as I read about the Cult Killer case on Kaua`i—biggest case the sleepy island had ever seen, and Texeira was in the middle of it all the way to the end. I look at her photo again. Attitude is right. I’d better monitor things closely, and that means more payments to the mole, more hassles.

That stupid little redhead is still costing me money and I hate that. I never let anyone beat me at anything. I can’t stand losing. But she’s already dead, so I can’t take anything more out of her, goddamn it. I need something to take my mind off things. I punch in a number on the bedside phone.

“Kimo. Send up some merchandise. I’m in the mood for dark meat.”

I mix up the drink in a highball glass—a potent cocktail of Rohypnol and Viagra that guarantees me a good time. For this one, I go light on the roofies and heavy on the Viagra—might as well teach him something he’ll remember. When Kimo pushes the merchandise in the door, I hand him the drink with a smile.

He’s not sure what to think, doesn’t know what’s coming, so he drinks it after I clink his glass with mine…and pretty soon he’s just what I need to get the kinks out. I like the way my beautiful white skin, so silky, looks against his mocha hide. I like the taste of a little blood, spread around like finger paint. It’s a good session.

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