Monday, September 8, 2014

Accidental Contact and Other Mahu Investigations excerpt by Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy’s Accidental Contact and Other Mahu Investigations, coming this fall from MLR, is a new collection of mystery stories featuring openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka.  Here’s an excerpt from the title story.

Accidental Contact and Other Mahu Investigations
MLR Press (August, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1-60820-9514 (print)
(MLR)1-02013-0286 (ebook) 


The longer I remained a homicide detective, the harder it got to contemplate the parade of victims, and surfing was the only way I could stay sane. Outside the breakers, I focused on watching the waves, choosing the one that would carry me to shore. I could forget the senseless deaths, the innocent and guilty victims, the pain of those left behind.

The beach was crowded and it was hard to catch a good wave, and as the sunset cruises began to leave with their colorful sails unfurled, I rode one last wave to the shore. I walked up the sand toward home, but like a homing beacon, I felt the Rod and Reel Club signaling to me.

You’d think I would stay away from the place, after the trouble I had run into there in the past, but it was the closest gay bar to my apartment, and the bartender let me run a tab. It was a friendly place, and the mix of gay and straight patrons made it easier for me as I took my first steps out of the closet. I’d met other guys there who felt the same way.

Still damp, I pulled up a stool at the bar and ordered a Longboard Lager. It was the tail end of happy hour, and the patio wasn’t too crowded. A couple of tourist clusters filled the round tables, and a smattering of gay men sat at the bar or lounged in small groups under the big kukui tree. I didn’t see anyone I knew, or anyone I wanted to know, so I finished my beer and went home.

Wednesday morning I was at my desk at seven. The DA’s office had prepared the subpoenas and gotten them signed late the day before, and then faxed them to the appropriate hospitals. Our department fax started ringing with their responses, and I spent most of the morning looking at Miguel Bohulano’s personnel records.

At each hospital, male patients had complained of inappropriate touching, often when they were partially sedated. And in each case, Bohulano had first been disciplined, then warned, then finally fired. But because of the confidentiality of personnel records, the next hospital down the chain knew nothing of his previous problems. At Queen’s, he was already on probation for two offenses. In one case, his statement read that his mouth had “accidentally” come in contact with the patient’s penis while Bohulano was changing a dressing on the man’s leg.

Thinking back on all my sexual experiences, I knew my mouth had never “accidentally” come in contact with another man’s penis, nor vice versa. I looked at the employee photos that had been faxed over as part of Bohulano’s records; he wasn’t a bad-looking guy. A bit skinny and ten years too old for my taste, but there were certainly enough rice queens—non-Asian men who preferred Asian male lovers—in Honolulu to keep him busy on a Saturday night. Or sticky guys—Asian men who liked Asians.

I sat back in my chair to contemplate Miguel Bohulano’s life. He grew up in Quezon City and went to nursing school in Manila. Had he been abused as a boy? How had he come to associate power with sex? Surely in jerking off male patients under their flimsy gowns, he was asserting his power over them. A clear abuse of his ethics as a nurse—as well as behavior that was unlikely to result in the patient asking him out on a date.

There was no way to find out what had happened in his childhood; the only person who might have a clue was his mother, and he probably never told her anything about it. He had left the Philippines ten years before, and I had no doubt that patient abuse had caused his departure. I didn’t know what privacy laws were like in the Philippines, but it was possible he’d been blacklisted for an incident, or else had simply seen the handwriting on the wall and left for Hawai’i.

In the last ten years he had worked for five different hospitals, each one passing him on to the next employer without a negative word. Indeed, the folders were filled with praise—he was skilled, caring, a patient favorite—except for those complaints.

Because I’m a cop, and I look for patterns, I went back over the incident reports. Had Miguel Bohulano picked a particular type of guy—by age, ethnicity, ailment? I couldn’t find one. A couple of the victims self-identified in their complaint as gay, while several others made a point of asserting their heterosexuality. Another group made no mention.

Shortly after noon, the ME’s report came in. It confirmed everything Doc had told me the morning before—Bohulano had been on his knees, and the knife blow to his back had come from above. The wallboard saw was the weapon, but the killer must have used work gloves, because there were no prints on it.

One fact stood out. Traces of dried semen had been found around Bohulano’s mouth. I picked up the phone and dialed the morgue. After I bantered for a few minutes with his merry receptionist, Doc came on the line. 

“The position of the victim and the murderer,” I said. “Is that also consistent with the possibility that Bohulano had just given a blow job?”

“I thought you’d come to that conclusion, detective,” he said. “That hypothesis is supported by the presence of dried semen at the edge of the victim’s lip. I put the DNA sample on ice in case you find someone I can match it to.”

“That’s cold,” I said. “I mean, what kind of a guy has an orgasm, then immediately plunges a knife into the back of the guy who gave him the pleasure?”

“That’s what they pay you to find out, isn’t it? Let me know if you find some semen for me to match.”

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