Dark Lava: Lei Crime Book 7 (Lei Crime Series)

BOOK: Dark Lava: Lei Crime Book 7 (Lei Crime Series)
13.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Dark Lava

A Lei Crime Novel


Toby Neal


Copyright Notice

This is a work of fiction. Names, chara
cters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Toby Neal 2014


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.

Photo credit: Mike Neal ©

Cover Design: ©

Format Design: Mike Neal ©

ISBN-13: 978-0-9891489-9-3



Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,

but who can stand before jealousy?

Proverbs 27:4



The worst things always seem to happen at night, even in Hawaii. Lieutenant Michael Stevens stood in front of the defaced rock wall, hands on hips as he surveyed the damage. A chipped hole gaped raw as a torn-out tooth where the petroglyph, a rare rock art carving, should have been.

I keep watch on the
.” The witness, sturdy as a fireplug, glared up at Stevens from under the ledge of an overhanging brow. “I live across da street. I come check ’em every day, pick up trash, li’dat. Last night I hear something, like—one motor. I was sleeping, but I wake up ’cause it goes on. Then I see a light ovah here.” He spoke in agitated pidgin, hands waving.

What’s your name, sir?” Stevens dug a spiral notebook out of his back jeans pocket, along with a stub of pencil tied to it with twine. He knew it was old-school. Many officers were using PDAs and tablets these days—but he liked the ease and confidentiality of his chicken-scratch code.

Manuel Okapa. Our family, we keep watch on the
. This—so shame this!” Okapa spat beside their feet in disgust. “I like kill whoever did this!”

Stevens waited a beat. He caught Okapa
’s eye, shiny and hard as a polished
nut. “Sure you want to say that to a cop?” Stevens asked.

Okapa spat again in answer, unfazed.
“I wish I brought my hunting rifle over here and blew ’em away. But the light go out, and the noise stop. I thought someone was maybe dropping off something. Sometimes the poor families that no can afford the dumps, they drop their broken-kine rubbish here. They know I take ’em away.”

Stevens noted Okapa
’s threats and disclosure of a gun in his notebook for future reference. He turned a bit to take in the scene. The
, a site sacred to Hawaiian culture, was situated on a promontory overlooking the ocean, separated from Okapa’s dilapidated cottage by the busy two-lane Hana Highway. Even this early, a steady stream of rental cars swished by them, on their way to experience the lush, waterfall-marked Road to Hana.

What kind of trash do they leave? Appliances?”

Yeah, li’dat.” Okapa squatted down in front of the wound in the rock. His stubby brown fingers traced the hole, tender and reverent. “I heard this kine thing was happening on Oahu but nevah thought we get ’em over here.”

Looks like it was taken out with some sort of hand-held jackhammer,” Stevens said, squatting beside the man. Okapa’s touching of the rock’s surface would have disrupted any fingerprints, but it was too late now. He took out his smartphone and shot several pictures of the defaced stone, inadvertently catching one of Okapa’s hands, gentle on the rock’s wound. “Did you see anything else missing? Disturbed?”

Come. We go look.” Okapa stood up, and Stevens glanced back at the blue-and-white Maui Police Department cruiser parked close to them, his Bronco just behind it off the busy highway. One of his new trainees, Brandon Mahoe, had responded to the defacement call and had immediately contacted Stevens as his superior to come investigate. Mahoe was Maui born and raised, and he’d immediately appreciated that the stealing of a petroglyph was more than ordinary property damage. The young man, hands on his duty belt, looked questioningly at Stevens.

Stay here and don’t let anyone pull over,” Stevens said. “Find something to cover the damage for now—some branches or something. We don’t want to attract attention to this yet.”

’s mind was already racing ahead to the press coverage this would draw, potentially connecting this crime with a string of looted
on Oahu. The pressure would be on MPD as soon as the community caught wind of this outrage.

He followed Okapa
’s squat form, feeling overly tall as he towered beside the shorter man. He’d found his height sometimes provoked defensive reactions in smaller local people, and his wife’s partner and friend, Pono Kaihale, had given him a frank talk on how to interact with the locals more effectively. “Don’t stand too close and look down at them—better to stand side by side. Not a lot of eye contact, because that’s seen as challenging. Be prepared to disclose some personal information about who you are, where you’re from, and try to find some common connecting place, family or history. Tell ’em you’re married to a Hawaii girl if they give you a hard time.”

As if reading these thoughts, Okapa tossed over his shoulder, “
How long you been here?”

Two years, Maui. Big Island and Kauai before that,” Stevens replied.
“Maui no ka oi.
Maui is the best.”

’s gapped teeth showed in a brief smile. “As how.”

Apparently he
’d hit the right note, because Okapa’s shoulders relaxed a bit. Every island had its pride, Stevens had discovered.

They followed a tiny path through waist-high vegetation. Thick bunchy grass, ti leaf, and several ha
la trees, their umbrella-like structures providing pools of shade. “I used to cut da plants back, keep it nice here. But then I see the tourists always pulling over to the side, trampling in here with their cameras. So I let ’em grow, and less come here. Only the hula
come out for dance. This is one dance

Oh. I didn’t know there were different kinds. Anything you can tell me would be helpful.”

Yeah. Get some for worship da gods, like the big one in Wailuku. This one for dance.
is one small-kine school with a
teacher. That
leads and trains dancers in the group. This place was used to teach and worship with hula by the

They reached a wide area, ringed by red, green, and striped varieties of ti leaf growing taller tha
n Stevens had ever seen. The layout was an open area of flat stones ringed by a wall of stacked ones. He’d noticed Hawaii’s monuments were simple, made of materials naturally occurring, and without the oral traditions of the people and the movement to reclaim the culture, much history would have been lost and the
themselves swallowed back into the land.

Beyond the large, rough circle of stones, the cobalt ocean glittered in the distance,
hala trees surrounding the edge of the cliff and bracketing the view with their Dr. Seuss–like silhouettes. Stevens thought the hala and ti plants must have been placed there deliberately because he knew Hawaiians wove the long, fibrous hala leaves into basketry and matting and made dance costumes with ti.

Okapa cried, pointing. On the far side of the
were three large stone slabs, and the one in the middle had a raw, chipped-out crater. “They took the other one!”

Stevens followed the distraught guardian, thu
mbing the camera icon on his phone. He held up a hand to stop Okapa as the man bent to touch the stone.

Let me dust this one for prints.” Stevens unhooked his radio from his belt. “Mahoe, bring my kit from the Bronco. Over.”

Ten-four,” Mahoe said.

Tell me who knows about this place,” Stevens said, hanging the radio back on his belt and taking pictures of the stones and the surrounding area.

’s rage was evident. He muttered under his breath as he stomped across the stones, ripping out weeds in the dance area. He looked up with a fierce frown.

Everyone. Because of that damn book.”

What book?”

Maui’s Secrets
. One stupid
wen’ collect all our sacred places and put ’em in that book. Now everybody can buy it and find whatever. I like beef that guy myself.”

Stevens narrowed his eyes. “
Where can I find a copy?”

Okapa spat. “
ABC Store. Anywhere get ’em. I like burn all those books.”

Stevens wrote down the title just as Mahoe burst into view at a trot, carrying Stevens
’s crime kit. The young man’s square, earnest face blanched at the sight of the second desecration.
he cried.

Stevens looked down from Mahoe
’s dismay, mentally filing that expression away. Maybe his wife, Lei, could help him learn how to say it right. The exclamation seemed to capture a wealth of grief and outrage.

I need to dust for prints and photograph this area,” he told Mahoe. “You can watch me work the first rock, and then I’ll have you do the other two. We need to pay special attention to the tool marks. Who knows? Maybe whoever it was didn’t wear gloves. Mr. Okapa, why don’t you stand in one place and look carefully all around. You can’t tramp around, disturbing the site, but if you could just look for anything out of place, that would be a help.”

Okapa folded his arms, s
till muttering under his breath, but began looking carefully around the

Stevens flipped the clasps of his metal crime kit and opened it, exposing tools and supplies. He snapped on gloves and handed a pair to Mahoe, gesturing the young man over. He l
eaned in close to whisper to him.

Remember. At a scene, you try to maintain the three Cs: care, custody, and control. Okapa could touch, move, or destroy something by walking around, but giving him something to do that doesn’t contaminate the scene is also important. It keeps him engaged with us positively.” Mahoe nodded. Stevens went on, pointing to the canisters of powder nested in foam. “This is probably just review from training, but when choosing powder, you want to pick a color that will contrast with whatever you’re dusting. These stones are a dark gray. Which one do you think I should use?” he asked Mahoe, testing.


Good.” Stevens lifted the soft-bristled brush, dipped it in the powder, and twisted it to load the brush. Then he spun the powder in gentle twirling motions over the rock face.

This was not the porous black lava stone that much of the
was made of; these three stones were the much harder bluestone often quarried for decorative rock walls. The surface held the powder well, the face of the rock gently sloping and weathered by the elements.

Mr. Okapa, what did the petroglyph here depict?” Stevens called as the
’s guardian stared around, still glowering.

Was a dancer with one rainbow on top.” Okapa gestured, demonstrating the way the stick figure stone carving would have been drawn. “That one at the front marked the
. It had three dancers.”

Why do you think someone would steal these?” Stevens asked, still spreading the powder until it covered the entire rock face.

I’ve been watching the news about the other defacements on Oahu.” Mahoe was the one to answer. “They think some underground collector is hiring people to take them.”

How much would something like this be worth?” Stevens took out his bulb blower, squeezing gently to blow the powder off the rough surface.

There are not that many early Hawaiian artifacts, period,” Mahoe said. “Every petroglyph is priceless and can’t be replaced.”

BOOK: Dark Lava: Lei Crime Book 7 (Lei Crime Series)
13.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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