Authors: Victor Methos
sat at the table as the RV raced down the freeway. He glanced back at the girl, who was huddled on the bed, crying. He’d woken to gunshots and discovered that the woman was gone. He didn’t need to ask what had happened.
Tate was driving
—and mumbling to himself. Hiapo had never seen him like that before. He rose from the table and sat in the passenger seat. Tate’s face looked different. It was pale and glistening with sweat.
“No, man. I’m pretty fucking far from good.”
“Everything. Shit’s just fucked up today, man.”
Hiapo sat quietly for a second, then glanced back at the crying girl. “Maybe we should pull over somewhere so you can sleep.”
“I don’t need to sleep.”
“You been smokin’ that shit, ain’t you?”
at him with wide eyes, full of fear. “What the fuck did you say?”
“You need to chill, bra. We need to pull over and get something for you to sleep.”
“Fuck you. Fuck you!” He pulled out his pistol and pressed the muzzle against Hiapo’s head. “Get your ass back there and shut your fucking mouth!”
didn’t flinch. That wasn’t the first time he’d had a gun against his head. But Tate wasn’t himself. Hiapo looked at him and didn’t recognize the man looking back.
rose without a word and went back to the table. He looked at the girl then at Tate. He was talking to himself again, and he laughed. Hiapo shook his head and sat back down.
After nearly an hour of
riding, Hiapo knew where they were going—a cabin. It was really just a shack that Tate’s father had owned. His father had lived in the jungle, away from everyone else. He owned his cabin, a few clothes, his guns, and that was it. He lived off the land. Tate had said he’d snapped later in life.
After the family moved from California, Tate’s
father had stayed with them for only a short while before disappearing into the jungle. Tate saw him regularly, and his father had taught him how to fish and how to shoot. He and Hiapo had stayed there several times when they had to let shit cool down.
s the RV traveled the dirt road leading up a hill, trees surrounded it. Hiapo watched the jungle as they drove. Other cabins were there, too. The area wasn’t as secluded as he’d remembered it. The RV eventually came to a stop in front of a brown cabin with only two windows. The gun still in his hand, Tate got out of the RV without a word and went inside the cabin.
Stanton brought the car to a stop, and Laka was the first to get out. Stanton stared at the home for a while. A wave of pity for Cindy Reynolds washed over him. As he got out of the car, she peeked through the blinds in the front room.
knocked, but the door didn’t open.
Stanton shouted, “Cindy, please open up. I saw you look through the blinds. I don’t want to have to get a warrant.”
A moment later, the lock turned, and she peered out over a chain on the door.
“May we come in?” Stanton asked.
She nodded then shut the door, unlatched the chain, and let them in.
The house was
cluttered, and a cat, which Stanton hadn’t seen last time he was there, occupied the couch. He sat near it, and the cat wandered over to lie on his lap. Animals had always liked him. He rubbed the cat behind its ear for a few moments before speaking. Laka chose to stand with her arms folded, her eyes locked onto Cindy, who sat nervously across from Stanton.
“We need to know where he is, Cindy. And I know you know.”
“He’s killed three
people. One of them was an eleven-year-old boy. He has a thirteen-year-old girl with him now. I need to save her life, Cindy. And you’re the only one that can help me.”
She swallowed, rubbing her hands together. “I…”
“He’s done this before. Left you by yourself to deal with his messes. I know you love him. I’m not questioning your love for him. But I know you’re not like him. You care about people. I can see it in your eyes. You don’t want this girl to die because we couldn’t get to her in time. You don’t want to live with that. Tell me where I can find him, and I promise you I’ll do everything in my power to protect him. I’m not promising he’ll walk away from this without consequences, but I won’t let anyone hurt him.”
trembled as she spoke. “We had a daughter once. Gloria. Our little girl.”
“What happened to her?”
“She was taken away from us. ’Cause of the drugs. She lives in San Francisco now, with a nice family. But the family don’t let us see her. They think it’s bad for her to see her own parents. But I can see why. We ain’t no good for her.”
“I’m sorry, Cindy. I’m sorry that this is where Tate brought you. But I need your help. I want that girl to have a chance at life.
Just like your own daughter has now.”
She nodded. “He has a cabin his father left him
Hiapo watched as Tate paced back and forth in front of the cabin. His hands were shaking so badly that the gun slipped and fell on the ground several times. Hiapo stood next to the girl right outside the RV.
Tate was mumbling to himself and kicking bits
of dirt. He placed the gun against his head and closed his eyes. Then he started ranting again.
“I’m better than you,” Tate shouted. “I’m
fuckin’… I’m better. I was there, man. I was fucking there.”
didn’t move. He kept his eyes on Tate, his brow furrowed. The big man glanced at the girl, who was trembling. A stream of urine ran down her leg. Hiapo had a weapon, too. He casually reached his hand back and felt the grip of the pistol. That would be a last resort.
He didn’t underst
and why white folks messed with something that could screw up their entire mind. His people, from his ancestors down to his father, preferred the more subtle drugs. Awa, a type of kava root, and marijuana were the favored ones. Those drugs gave the user an appreciation of things around them, connected them to nature, and made them happy to live in the most beautiful place on the planet. Why anyone would want to take a drug that made them cut themselves and jump off buildings, he couldn’t understand.
“Fucking fuck!” Tate screamed. He was hunched over, his hands on his head.
“Tate,” Hiapo said calmly, “you need to go to a hospital.”
instantly straightened, holding the weapon tightly in his shaky hands. He raised it and pointed it at Hiapo’s face.
“That’s what you think, huh? You think I’m stupid. You want me to go there ’cause that’s where they
gonna be waitin’ for me.”
“I want you there ’cause I’m your friend, bra.”
“My friend? You ain’t my friend. I know who you work for. I know what you want!”
looked down to the girl. “Run,” he told her.
She didn’t wait for him to say it again. She looked
from him to Tate then turned and sprinted for the surrounding jungle. Tate’s weapon moved toward her.
ain’t gonna be shootin’ her,” Hiapo said, pulling out his pistol.
. The two men had their pistols trained on each other. Hiapo was calm, his hand steady. Sweat was pouring into Tate’s eyes, and he was moving around. Over the past hour, his tremors had gotten worse. Hiapo didn’t think he could have hit a car that was right in front of him in his condition.
“Put the piece down, bra.”
“Fuck you!” he shouted. “You want me to go in. You want me to live in a cage again.”
Ain’t no one gonna turn you in. But I’m leaving, bra. You can stay here in the jungle.”
ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
lowered the pistol slightly, aiming for Tate’s heart. He’d never been a good shot, and he needed a bigger target.
, T. We did time together, man.”
throwin’ it out like it didn’t mean nothin’.”
Nobody’s called the cops, man. It’s that shit you been smokin’. It’s messing with your head. Your mind, man, it’s playin’ tricks on you, T.”
“It was—it was you. You put that shit in me
—in my drink. In my drinks I was drinking this morning, and you put that shit in ’em.”
There was no talking to him. He was gone.
Hiapo decided the only thing he could do was leave. He started backing up toward the RV then thought better of it. The cops were probably looking for it already. Lee’s neighbors had definitely called them after hearing the gunshots. Better to walk.
, his weapon still held on Tate, began to circle him, heading for the dirt road back to the freeway. He could hitch a ride there, call a cab, or something.
ain’t leavin’,” Tate said.
“Don’t do it, bra.”
“You ain’t leavin’ this place alive.”
’s chest felt tight. He was tough—he had faced countless fistfights, and he’d even been shot before. But a sick feeling in his gut told him he might not make it out of there. He stopped walking and wrapped both hands around the pistol. Better to take him out right away.
Tate sprang forward.
Hiapo only got off one shot before Tate closed the distance between them. The shot missed, leaving Tate only a few feet away. He fired back. All three rounds connected. Tate had held the pistol low, so two rounds went into Hiapo’s hip, and one went into his thigh. Hiapo’s gun dropped out of his hand as he collapsed into the dirt with a groan.
you ain’t leavin’ alive.”
Tate lifted the weapon then stopped. He looked back to where the girl had run into the jungle
then walked that way. Without looking at Hiapo, he fired another two rounds. One slammed into Hiapo’s chest. He heard a sucking sound and saw the blood pouring out of him as Tate ran into the jungle after the girl.
The police cruiser raced up the dirt road, with Stanton bouncing around in the passenger seat. Laka was in the backseat, and a uniform was driving. Stanton watched the surrounding jungles. He’d never been to the jungle area before, and the lush vegetation was something else. Reds, greens, and yellows. Massive trees hung over everything like watchful guardians, their arms dangling dangerously close to the road.
The three cruisers behind them had their lights on but no sirens. Stanton caught a glimpse of the two officers in the car directly behind
his. They were laughing as they flew over a bump, the car’s tires leaving the ground. They were enjoying the chase.
A long time ago, when he
’d been a different person, he had enjoyed the chase, too. Every small step toward his prey sent a rush of adrenaline through him. The thrill of the hunt was so intense sometimes that it kept him up and working all night. He’d lived for the job. And what he got in return was a failed marriage, two kids whose childhoods he’d missed, and a fiancée who’d left him before the wedding. He’d given everything to the job and gotten nothing in return.
chase meant little to him anymore. He didn’t hunt for the thrill of catching the prey. There was something more primal involved. He called it justice in his own thoughts, but he knew that wasn’t what it was. It was revenge—pure, cold revenge. Adam Cummings couldn’t avenge his death. Sharon Miller couldn’t avenge hers. They were counting on him. But vengeance brought no pleasure. It never had.
The GPS dinged
, announcing that they had arrived at the location Cindy had described. About two hundred feet ahead was the cabin she had told Stanton about. In front of it was an RV.
Stanton was the first one out of the cruiser. He withdrew his Desert Eagle from
its holster and kept it low as he trotted over and poked his head into the RV. Convinced no one was inside, he took the steps up just to make sure Eliza wasn’t bound and gagged in the back.
The RV st
ank like sweat, body odor, and burning plastic. He knew the smell. PCP. The drug had a unique scent that no other drug could match. It was an absolutely artificial stench. Nothing in nature smelled that way.
came up behind him, her gun drawn. She inhaled, and her nose crinkled like a bulldog’s.
“PCP. I know that smell anywhere,” she said. “You’re right
. If anything would make him snap, it’s that. I once saw a guy start biting the police cruiser after we arrested him because he was high on the stuff. Broke every tooth in his mouth, but he didn’t stop.”
Stanton didn’t respond. His eyes were scanning the trash on the floor. Burnt roaches, empty beer cans
, and containers of food… No blood.
Stanton looked out the windshield and saw the officers
carrying a battering ram surrounding the cabin. “Police search warrant!” one man yelled before the team smashed the ram into the door near the doorknob.
It flew open, and o
fficers swarmed in. Stanton ran out and slowly looked over the property. Small footprints, about the size of a teenager’s, marked the dirt, leading up a path to a grove of trees. They were mixed with larger prints.
Laka said, heading to the cabin.
“They’re not in there.”
Stanton noticed a body lying near the RV. Hiapo, he guessed. The man’s eyes were glazed over with death, a look he knew well. Ignoring the body, Stanton dashed into the trees.
The path was relatively clear
despite the dense surrounding jungles. As he ran, he came across a trail. He looked one way then the other. The trail had so many prints that he couldn’t distinguish the ones he’d been following anymore.
One path, the one to the left, seemed to go deeper into the jungle.
The other headed back toward the freeway. He guessed she’d gone right. He pumped his legs, holstering his weapon so he could jog at a quicker pace without worrying about the gun in his hand. The trail looped around and up a hill. He could hear a waterfall nearby. As he passed the waterfall, a much quieter sound caught his attention. With the pounding water right next to him, he couldn’t tell what the noise was. Just in case, he withdrew his weapon and darted past the waterfall.
He heard the sound again
, and it made him stop. He was breathing deeply but not heavily. He calmed his breath to hear better. The sound was coming from off the trail, somewhere east of him. He headed into the vegetation.
utside of the cities, Oahu was nearly feral. Stanton knew that some of the jungle plants were poisonous to the touch, but he hadn’t been in Hawaii long enough to know which ones. He’d heard from others in the force that some of the plants could make people itch, and some could cause illness. But he had no choice. He heard the sound again and knew he was going in the right direction.
He came to a clearing and saw movement off to the side. A young girl was on the ground
, and a white man in jeans was growling something at her.
Stanton tried to be as quiet as possible, but he had to scrape past
several bushes to get out into the clearing. The man heard. He grabbed the girl by the hair and lifted her to her knees. He stood behind her and placed his gun against her head.
“Let her go, Tate.”
“Fuck you. Fuck you! I’ll fucking kill her. Don’t come closer. I’ll kill her!”
“I believe you,” Stanton said, holding up his hands, letting his weapon dangle from his thumb. “I believe you. I’ll put my gun down if you put yours down.”
“Yeah… yeah, that’s what you want. That’s what you say. That’s what you say!”
“Let her go, Tate. If you want a hostage
, I’m a much better one than her. Take me and let her go.”
. His eyes closed, and he shook his head, tremors quivering through his body from his shoulders down to his legs. Stanton had never seen something like that before. Tate Reynolds didn’t seem to be there anymore. There would be no negotiation. He lowered his hands. He had promised Cindy that he would do everything he could to protect Tate. But Eliza had to come first. He had no choice in the matter.
“Fine, I’m leaving,” Stanton said.
“You go. You go!”
Stanton turned around. He had one shot, maybe two. His heart was
pounding in his ears. He felt the weight of the gun and the sweat rolling down his forehead. He closed his eyes and said a prayer.
In an instant, Stanton spun around. Tate’s eyes went wide
, and he tried to lift the gun and fire. Stanton fired first. The first round missed, but the second hit Tate’s shoulder. As if the bullet had hit a soft melon, blood spattered to the sides, and a thump echoed off the trees. Most of Tate’s left shoulder was gone, but he didn’t fall back. He actually sprinted at Stanton.
Stanton held the gun firmly, hoping he wouldn’t have to fire again, but Tate didn’t stop.
“I don’t want to kill you. Stop, please!”
Tate was screaming like
a warrior running into battle. The consciousness reflected in his eyes, the part of him that told others there was a reasoning person in there, was gone. Nothing was left.
Stanton put two
rounds in the man’s chest, knocking him off his feet and onto his back. Even on the ground Tate continued to writhe and spit. He still had the gun in his hand, so Stanton couldn’t approach the girl without risking getting shot himself. But he wouldn’t fire on a man who was already down.
Instead, Stanton waited a few moments. As the blood poured out of Tate Reynolds, his movement
s grew slow and weak. And eventually, he lay still.
Slowly, Stanton walked to him and placed his foot
over Tate’s wrist. He knelt, took the gun, and tossed it aside. Tate’s eyes were wide and rimmed with a deep red. Hemorrhaging had occurred inside his eyes. Stanton bent down and placed his fingers on Tate’s neck. There was no pulse. He holstered his weapon and rose to check on the girl.