- Author: Chris Bauer
Read book online «Zero Island (Blessid Trauma Crime Scene Cleaners Book 2) by Chris Bauer (i want to read a book TXT) 📕». Author - Chris Bauer
Copyright © 2021 by Chris Bauer.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Severn River Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, 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.
ISBN: 978-1-64875-116-5 (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-64875-117-2 (Hardback)
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For granddaughters Teddy and Bea.
I hope you enjoy your sisterhood
as much as Oma and Opa enjoy our grandparenthood.
All enemy parachutists and invaders are hereby warned
not to shoot our Hawaiians more than twice.
The third time “makes them mad”
and we will not be responsible for their actions.
—Albert G. Christian, 299th Infantry, c. 1942,
“The Koa Regiment,”
Hawaii Army National Guard
Miakamii Island, Hawaiian Islands
The tourist helicopter jerked and made death rattle sounds as it dropped down, down, down, careening sideways, spinning wildly, four thousand feet, three thousand feet, two…
Islander Kealoha “Ella” Waumami, on horseback, could hear each whup-whup-whup more distinctly as the aircraft spun earthward, five hundred feet, four hundred feet, slicing into the heavy tree canopy that edged the island’s church and school, crashing fifty yards and two livestock pens away from her, her horse rearing up.
She’d seen all of it—the copter starting its descent, picking up speed before flipping and twisting out of control, its blades shearing through the treetops on a diagonal until the canopy fought back, the thick vegetation splintering the aircraft. The flight deck skidded nose down to a stop in the clearing, the blades carving up dirt and scrub and animals in pens: cows, sheep, a wild boar, their bloody carcasses splatting against the island’s one-room schoolhouse and tiny church, and crashing through a church window into its interior.
Most alarming, she’d also seen two people jettison from a high altitude, one dropping straight down like a bullet into the Pacific not far from shore, the other riding the air until a parachute opened, then splashing into the middle of the Hanakawii Channel. A cigarette boat picked him up and spun in an about-face to head toward Kauai Island across the channel.
Ella galloped her bareback mare out of the clearing and onto the beach, dismounted, then sprinted on short but powerful legs into the water and swam hard. She knew the helicopter pilot well, a close friend. He was the one in the fluorescent yellow jumpsuit who looked lifeless before he hit the whitecaps.
The second leg of their trip, a flight to Kauai Island’s Lihue Airport, was behind them. Thirteen hours total in coach from Philadelphia with a short layover in Denver, Philo and Patrick on board, one half of Blessid Trauma Cleaning Company. A two-week junket. Philo left the business in the hands of former owners Grace and Hank Blessid, who would operate it on a skeleton schedule. The thirteen hours in the air had turned into fourteen hours plus, the plane needing to circle the airport due to an unspecified air traffic issue.
They deplaned a short distance from the gate, emergency vehicles and a fire truck assembled on a nearby runway, their sweeping red lights advertising a crisis. At the gate a cop stood listening to a walkie-talkie chirp a message Philo overheard: “Missing helicopter located off-island, on Miakamii. All clear on Kauai, over.”
“Copy that, over,” the Hawaiian cop answered.
In shirtsleeves, shorts, and sandals, they entered the single-story airport terminal with eight flight gates inexplicably numbered three through ten. Once inside, it was like someone threw a switch on Patrick.
“Not feeling it, Philo sir,” he said, his head swiveling. “Nope. Not doing it for me. None of it. This isn’t it.”
To Patrick, Philo was always “sir” or “Philo sir.” The formality had little to do with Philo’s military background, more to do with Patrick’s dented, challenged noggin.
Philo Trout. Possessed of enough brown hair to say he wasn’t balding, but the two bare skin patches on either side of his tufted rooster comb were staking larger claims. The rest of him cut a hard, angular physique, tall, lanky, but with good guns for biceps. Counter to his tough cruiserweight body, his hair was losing out to his age.
“Thirty seconds off the plane on an island you might or might not have ever set foot on before, and you’re already writing it off,” Philo said. “We’ll be island hopping for two weeks, Patrick. Something might click. Give it a chance. Let’s get our bags.”
They lost their baggage carts at a drop-off point near the street curb. The two men, two rolling suitcases each, strode toward a row of car rentals. A rush of salty Hawaiian air overwhelmed them, stopping Philo in his tracks.
“Wow. Wonderful,” he said.
At any given time, Philo knew from personal experience, a person could smell four things on most of the islands: saltwater, coconut oil, plants after a fresh rain, and…
“Barbecue,” Patrick said. “I smell barbecue.”
Korean barbecue to be exact, from a street vendor outside the terminal. Upon discovering it, the charcoal aroma became