Sunday, August 16, 2015

Children of Noah excerpt by Neil Plakcy

In Neil Plakcy'sChildren of Noah, number 9 in the Mahu series, openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka and his HPD partner Ray Donne have gone on assignment to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.  They’re investigating threats to a U.S. Senator with a mixed-race family, including daughter Jessica, who’s had a water balloon filled with white paint tossed at her.

Children of Noah
MLR Press (August 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-60820-9910 (print)
          MLR-1-02015-0437 (ebook)


We finally made it onto the highway. Ray leaned back in his seat. “You or Mike ever experience anything like what happened to Jessica? Anybody bother you because you’re mixed race?”

I shrugged. “A couple of times when I was a kid, but nothing that scarred me. For a couple of days after my mom came to our elementary school once, this one kid started saying ‘sayonara’ to me and pulling his eyes up at the corners.”

“What did you do?”

“I was taking karate back then,” I said. “Not in a serious way, just something to keep me from bouncing off the walls and bothering my brothers. I wanted to be able to do one of those high-jumping kicks, and I practiced on him.”

Ray laughed so hard he snorted. “I can just see you. What happened?”

“He fell backwards, and I landed on my butt. We both had to stay after school and clean the blackboards.”

When we got back to Kapolei, we unpacked the boxes that had been left for us and filled out more paperwork. We had to watch an online video about sexual harassment in the workplace, and another on the history of the FBI. Ray took the folders down to the fingerprint lab and then emailed myself copies of the letter and the envelope, which I added to the case file I was developing on my iPad.

While Ray looked for churches who used the kind of rhetoric in the letters, I did a search through the police database for pickup trucks with KTF as the first three letters of the plate, and got about three dozen matches. None of them on the Windward Shore, though, so I put that information aside in case it matched something in the future.

When I got home, our golden retriever Roby tackled me as soon as I walked in. I scratched behind his ears and then followed him to the kitchen, where Mike was foraging through the freezer.

Until you get up close to him, Mike looks completely haole and distinctly Italian, from his dark curly hair to his swarthy skin. His Korean heritage is only visible in the slight epicanthic fold of his eyes—though it was distinctive enough to make him uncomfortable when he was a kid growing up in Long Island, around his dad’s Italian-American family.

Mike looked up from the freezer. “When was the last time we went grocery shopping? There’s nothing in here but ice packs, half a bag of meatballs and two boxes of creamed spinach.”

“Can’t be,” I said. “Dakota and I filled a grocery cart last weekend. Could he have eaten everything?” I looked over Mike’s shoulder and saw he was telling the truth.

“The kid must have a tapeworm,” Mike grumbled. “Oh, crap.”


“I’m starting to talk like my father. When you hear me do that, slap me, all right?”

“Can I spank you?” I asked, with a smile.

TMI!” Dakota said. I looked around to see him standing in the kitchen doorway. “What’s for dinner?”

“I guess we’ll order a pizza,” I said.

“Two?” Dakota asked. “One for you guys and one for me?”

Mike and I groaned in unison. I called the pizza place at the bottom of the hill and put in our order, and Dakota went into the living room to play with Roby.

Mike sat at the kitchen table with a bottle of Fire Rock Pale Ale. “How was your first day as a special agent?” he asked.

“Ray and I have our first case. Our newest senator has gotten some hate mail.” I got a bottle for myself and told Mike about Senator Haberman’s wife and the threats her family had received. “Peggy Kaneahe and Sarah Byrne told me that they’ve both gotten similar harassment.” I looked at him. “You had problems on Long Island when you were a kid, being mixed race,” I said. “Anything once you moved here?”

“Not specifically that. But I remember we were studying the Korean war in middle school and I said that’s how my parents had met, when my dad was a soldier and my mom was a nurse. One of the kids got confused between South and North Korea and accused my mom of being a Communist.”

“What did you do?”

“I stuffed him in a locker.”
I laughed and told him about my own experience. “I’d better get a move on,” I said. “There’s a grocery by the pizza parlor. I’ll get Dakota to go with me and buy some food."

When I parked in the grocery lot, Dakota took a picture of my Jeep, and then another of the storefront. He kept taking photos of aisles and products and our cart as we grabbed enough food to carry us through the next day. When we were in the checkout line, I finally had to ask. “What is so fascinating about this store?” I asked.

“I’m posting to my Instagram account,” he said. “Dylan and I are competing to see who can take the most different pictures.”

“Who’s Dylan?”

“Just a guy. He’s in my English class.” Dakota slouched against the rack of tabloid magazines, his head down.

Hmm, I wondered. Just a guy. Back home, Dakota took photos of his pizza as he ate each slice, but I resisted the urge to say anything.

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