Happy Sam’s

Captain Revenge always figured he’d give me enough rope to really hang myself. It never worked, but he kept trying.  I guess he figured the other times were just flukes.

He calls me into his office and explains how much faith and confidence he has in me, because now he’s got a really “special” assignment, just for me.

We had just started the 9 week mid cycle, 10:30 pm to 7:15 am. For the rest of the cycle I would do nothing but cruise late night areas, except Hotel Street and Waikiki areas. I was to stay out of those areas.

I was to check bars, restaurants, parking lots, and other late night open establishments. If I was in the “immediate” area of an “in progress” call I could respond, but otherwise I was to observe, make “on view” arrests, and he wanted a full “To-From” report at the end of every shift detailing where I was at all times, who I spoke to, and what information I had gathered.

He would be the sole judge of my performance. Again, enough rope to hang myself.

So night after night that’s what I did.  I patrolled the strip club parking lots. I talked to bar owners and late night restaurant managers. I did not go into Waikiki or Hotel Street areas. I did not go to the big restaurants and bars. And every morning I put a typed report on the Captain’s desk.

The 1st one was something like 16 pages. They got bigger almost every night. In a month, 20 pages were the usual.

I also got wanted vehicle and warrant lists from records and dispatch. That was my idea.

Now my nightly reports also included stolen vehicle operator arrests, outstanding warrant arrests, and a load of usable information for the detectives. Let’s face it; sleazy bars need love and protection too.

One of those little sleazy bars was “Happy Sam’s” on Kapahulu. Sam’s had been through a number of evolution’s over the years but at this time was just a small hostess bar on the outskirts of Waikiki, outskirts being the optimum word.

The owner, a middle aged Korean lady who called herself, well Sam, was nice enough. She didn’t encourage her girls to rip off customers or try to sell way over priced “champagne”.

The clientele was mostly neighborhood men, sometimes couples, and the hostess’ were mostly girls trying to pick up a little extra money with a couple of Sam’s relatives called in on Friday and Saturday or whenever the club got really busy during sports nights.

A nice clean neighborhood hostess bar, sometimes strangers would wonder in, stay or not. Sam’s had a pretty regular group. Good drinkers that could walk home or would use a cab. No problems. Sam, and her bartenders and hostess’ always seemed glad to see me and always treated me with courtesy and respect.

No trouble at Sam’s.

Which made it even more surprising when dispatch called me to report the manager of Happy Sam’s had called requesting my assistance with a customer.

I wasn’t too far away, told dispatch I’d respond, and another area officer, Bobby L. says he’ll back me up.

Bobby and I got there about the same time. As I got out of my vehicle, a customer walks out the front door, and starts across the street.

I look into the club and Sam is pointing at the customer walking away. Pointing furiously and speaking Korean, of course.

I told Bobby to talk to the guy walking away. Get some ID or something to hold him till I talk to Sam.

Bobby walked across the street toward the departing male. I walked to the front door and there met Sam and one of her girls.

The hostess was jabbering away. Of course, in Korean and Sam was trying to tell me in English. Finally I heard one word clearly “gun”. And the hostess is rubbing her hand around the back of her hip like someone was hugging her, and patting her right hip. But I heard “gun” loud and clear.

I looked across the street and the former customer had been stopped by Bobby. The customer had his back to me and Bobby was still talking so I started across the street as fast as I could without actually running.

As I approached, I heard Bobby demand some ID. It appeared it wasn’t the first time Bobby had asked for it. The customer reached his right hand behind his hip as if reaching for a wallet. But from my vantage point I could see the outline of a wallet, in his left rear pocket. As his right hand reached under his shirt I could see a small holster, hidden by his shirt, at the back of his hip.

As he pulled the gun, a small semi-auto pistol, I was right behind him.

I yelled “Gun” to Bobby, grabbed the guy’s right hand, and pulled it hard, against my chest, and bullet proof vest.

Bobby was a serious weight lifter and had big biceps. At my yell, Bobby didn’t even hesitate; he just threw a right hand punch. The sound of his fist impacting the guy’s head was almost louder than the “click” of the guns hammer falling. Almost.

As I had grabbed the gun, his grip had pulled back the trigger. The gun was later identified as a Colt Junior, a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol with an external hammer, and it had a round in the chamber. Because the “junior” didn’t have a grip safety, it didn’t require a complete grip to fire. But it hadn’t fired. It just went click. The round didn’t fire.

Bobby’s punch had knocked the guy unconscious and as his body collapsed on the ground. I stood there holding his hand and the gun tightly to my chest.

When he saw what I was holding Bobby’s knees sagged just a little but he was right back and pulled out cuffs. We cuffed the guy, I put the gun in my pocket, and we had to almost drag him to Bobby’s vehicle.

Once we got him secured in the vehicle cage Bobby called for a sector supervisor, a detective, and ambulance for our “customer”. I cleared and locked up the gun and we started the investigation fun.

Sorting out what Sam and the hostess had to say was as I guessed, confusing. The hostess had sat down next to the customer, he bought her a drink, and when she slid her arm around his waist she felt the holstered gun.

She tried not to alert the guy, so she kept smiling and told Sam in Korean, what was up. The customer may have spoken some Korean or may have just spooked, but he walked out without finishing his beer. That’s when we got there.

The customer turned out to be a Marine stationed in Kaneohe. A search of his vehicle turned up a K-bar knife, a smoke grenade, and an explosive grenade simulator which is basically a very large fire cracker.

Basically the detectives took over from there. Bobby and I went back to type our  reports.

At the end of that watch, 7 weeks later, the next shift Commander also assigned units to check the bars, parking lots and restaurants. To do what I had done for those long weeks. Two men units were assigned after that. They were assigned to succeed, not hang themselves. And of course Captain Revenge received an attaboy letter for coming up with the idea.

Shortly after the Happy Sam’s incident, Bobby was picked to transfer to a plain clothes unit from which he eventually became an investigator for the City and County Prosecutors Office under Charles Marsland.

I don’t know what happened to the “customer”. I tried to follow up with the detectives and was told the case had been “passed upward” whatever the hell that meant.

At the end of that 9 weeks the Captain, put me back into the patrol pool and I spent the next 2 cycles patrolling the area around Hawaii Kai, Sandy Beach, and Hanauma Bay. Basically, the ass end of district 1. But at least I was away from the Captain.

I’ve heard that “click” in my nightmares in the years since, sometimes it goes off. Well, it is just a nightmare.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

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