Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.
The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.
Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Georgia and Japan.
By Andy Pafko
Joe Kahahawai, one of the notorious assailants of a Navy wife, was shot dead this morning after confessing that he and his savage gang raped Thalia Massie. The distressed husband and two Navy friends, using a forged document requiring Kahahawai to be driven to the judge at another location, picked him up outside the courthouse. They then took him to Mrs. Grace Fortescue’s East Manoa Drive cottage, where they interrogated him until, according to Mrs. Fortescue, he confessed to assaulting her daughter as charged and was then accidently shot.
After a few paragraphs suggesting that those on the hung jury were the real killers of Kahahawai and defending the honor of “that poor girl and her mother seeking justice,” Pafko addressed the Mainland’s call for martial law.
The attempt to interject racial warfare into this incident is deplorable. This incident is not racial. There will be no need for martial law.
Not a word of sympathy for the murdered victim. He was a rapist, after all. It was an honor killing and biblically justified.
Haru put down the newspaper with Pafko’s version of the abduction and killing. She looked at the slumped shoulders of her reporter son.
“A man is murdered, and the haole newspapers call it ‘honor,’” Taka said in a subdued voice. “I give up, Mama. I’m quitting the Hochi. Lincoln or no Lincoln, I think Hiromi had it right from the start.”
“Give up? Quit? People count on you to give them a voice, Taka. America will get this right. You know that police already have Joe’s killers in custody.”
“Arrested, Okäsan, but not in police custody. I called Mr. Makino before I came over. He told me that they are being held in unlocked quarters on a ship at Pearl. Our local jails are not safe enough for Navy murderers.”
“Still, they have to go to trial.”
“Not if the Navy has anything to do with it,” Taka said with a defeatist shake of his head.
“This is still a land of laws. Believe that, Taka. You are a journalist. You need to tell . . .”
“I am a student who is falling behind in his classes, thanks to all my column writing.”
* * *
At that moment, Admiral Stirling was sitting across from Lawrence Judd in the governor’s office.
“A horrible thing,” said the admiral, half-heartedly. “This has gotten way out hand. Still, it’s what happens when a court won’t deliver a just verdict. Men do what they have done since time immemorial. An eye for an eye.” He paused, and then added, “Grace Fortescue deserves special consideration.”
If Stirling was suggesting that the Fortescue woman should not be charged, Judd would have none of it. “You have killed one of my people. There will be a trial, a civilian trial for all involved.”
“But, first,” said Stirling, raising his voice, “you must order your prosecutor to empanel a jury for the second rape trial for the remaining four. That . . . happened first.”
Judd put his elbow on his desk, leaned forward and pointed his trigger finger at Stirling. “You, sir, are in charge of Pearl. I’m in charge of Hawai‘i. The murder trial . . . will take place . . . first.”
Stirling’s face tightened. “You have that authority. But I’m keeping my boys and Mrs. Fortescue on the Navy base until the trial.”
“Fine, but if they don’t show up for the trial, I will send the National Guard to get them.”
Stirling stood up. “They will be there.” Head aligned with his ramrod-straight back, he stomped out of the office.
* * *
They walked miles in their mu‘umu‘u, rode horses in their overalls. They took buses and trolleys in their aloha shirts. They drove their cars in black suits. The nervous police, aided by the National Guard called out by Judd, lined the roads to watch at least 10,000 mourners, white and every shade of bronze, climb the last mile to the cemetery hills overlooking the Pali to pay their last respects to Joe Kahahawai.
Honolulu’s brown- and yellow-skinned people seethed with rage. White Honolulu feared reprisals. Navy personnel were restricted to their bases. All Hawai‘i waited for the explosion. The civil disorder. The uprising.
From his office, Judd studied the streets of Honolulu, clear of people, as if a typhoon of biblical proportions was about to land. To the likely disappointment of Stirling, thought Judd, the stunned Hawai‘ians had quietly returned to their homes after the funeral. The Japanese, too. Shops had closed out of respect. Perhaps the whites stayed away out of fear. Judd hoped all reflected on the consequences of distrust leading to hate leading to beatings and murder.
* * *
A week later, assistant attorney general Seth Robertson walked down the gangplank in Honolulu. He planned to spend two weeks in Hawai‘i, witnessing, firsthand, Stirling’s expected crime wave of the colored looting shops and violating white maidens in response to the “honor” killing.
None was forthcoming.
Robertson researched the history of crime in Hawai‘i, looking for a persistent breakdown of law and order. He came up empty-handed. While he found evidence of police incompetence and corruption, the same could be said for New York and Chicago. Judd had already handed over his police authority to the new commission and a new police chief had been installed.
Robertson dropped by Judd’s office before leaving. “I think you will be pleased with my report.”
To be continued . . .