One Last Time

Chapter 1

I know what you're thinking; how could I go from driving a Ferrari on a daily basis to driving a Volkswagen? Well, that's the first rule of my new book on how to have a normal life after being a private investigator; always listen to your little voice. Going along with its suggestion for a nice sensible car was actually pretty easy considering that I had to give up the Ferrari when I left Robin's Nest and it was all I could afford at the moment. But it did make sense in its own way; it was after all just a car and it did get me to the naval base and back home every night, which was just about all anybody could ask for these days and it suited me fine. It really wasn't as hard to adjust to be a working man as much as I thought it would be either. I guess you could say I was the noble savage of our little group of friends; throwing myself at whatever came my way with complete faith in nature that it would work out the way it was meant to and that things would always be fine.

TC on the other hand, always knew what he wanted and that was something I admired about him and I was even a bit jealous of at times. He had worked hard all those years for other people to be able to afford his own helicopter and run his own business while still finding time on the side to coach pee wee football or little league, all in between doing favors for me. TC was sort of the foundation of our group; a constant, but subtle reminder that no matter what happened, you still had to put one foot in front of the other. After I left Robin's Nest, TC suddenly found he had allot of free time on his hands which he filled by becoming a foster parent. He picked up a couple of kids along with having more time to spend with his own and that pretty much sums up TC. He'd give and when you thought he was through, he'd give some more. In spite of that, I wonder sometimes that maybe I took a little too much from TC.

Now I know what you're thinking by now, that I must have been Mr. Excitement, bringing adventure to an otherwise humdrum daily grind in paradise and that I shouldn't be too hard on myself. The truth was I could be a bad influence most of the time and Rick was usually caught in the middle. Rick was a good kid that just kept catching all the bad breaks; his parents died when he was young and he lost his sister in a drug deal that went bad several years ago. After his parents died, he and his sister grew up under the watchful eye of the local crime boss, affectionately called Icepick. Rick has always been good with numbers, which was naturally put to good use by Icepick right up until we all served in Vietnam. Since then, Rick has tried to manage a relatively normal life, but I don't think he ever really got the hang of it and I know I didn't help any by asking him to get in touch with all those underworld contacts he was trying to forget. But it was familiar to him and gave him a sense of purpose, which is something I always felt guilty about. Rick always reminded me of someone's kid brother who was growing up in a shadow; angry and always ready to prove himself. His marriage to Cleo had really been good for him. Rick had a heart of gold and that's why I liked him so much, but it was Cleo who was really able to make it shine. Rick had really jumped into marriage with both feet, quickly becoming "Uncle Rick" to my daughter and even convincing Higgins to open the club's pool and beachfront every couple months to the various groups of foster children TC worked with. It's just a matter of time until Rick has kids of his own.

Well, now I really know what you're thinking. What about Higgins? Well that's just it. Higgins was still Higgins. After Rick's wedding I stayed on at Robin's Nest with Lily for about a month, trying to adjust to returning to the Navy and being a father for the first time in my life. That whole thing with Higgins about being Robin Masters and then telling me it was a lie had really bothered me. I had asked an honest question and I felt I deserved an honest answer, considering all we had been through. When I asked Higgins why he couldn't just tell me the truth, he said it was tradition. That was his way of saying it was a game. In spite of all the changes that were going on, Higgins still wanted to be the scheming villain pulling people's strings just for the fun of it. Higgins wasn't quite the master of tyranny that he had been when we first met, but I've always felt that the only thing missing from Higgins was a monocle, a little top hat and a mustache he could twirl while I had to barter for use of the Ferrari or one of Robin's cameras. Living with Higgins all those years was like those games you used to play as a kid; mercy or who could hit the softest. It was a fun and an innocent way of bonding with your friends, that was until someone got carried away and the other guy would end up nursing a hurt shoulder and hurt feelings. And that's how I felt about not getting an honest answer. We had some pretty bad arguments that month, but I had played games all those years too and I was finally tired of them and I was becoming upset with Higgins for not seeing that. Moving out was partly because of Higgins, but mostly because of me. I had also been playing games with myself my whole life and I wanted to see if I could hack it as an average Joe by holding down a job and paying the bills. I had suddenly found that I had things in my life like teacher parent conferences, daily commutes, paperwork and coffee breaks and while I loved every minute of it, it could kind of feel like one big hangover at times. I guess I just needed some space to deal with it all.

Now I never really went out of my way to avoid seeing Higgins, it was just that we didn't run into each other that often. I mostly saw him at the King Kamehameha club, usually when I was at the bar talking to Rick or TC where he would stop by and ask how things were going, which he did with his typical and dry British politeness. I would have felt allot better if he was mad at me instead of the cold shoulder I was getting. I suppose I let it get to me because I felt guilty for leaving the way I did, even though there wasn't much I could do about it.

That's mostly the way the last year had gone until I got a call from Rick a few days ago that Higgins was trying to get in touch with me. My little voice was telling me that Higgins' interest in me was anything but social and a short phone call later quickly confirmed my suspicions. Higgins had told me that someone had broken into Robin's Nest and made off with several tapes that he had recorded parts of his memoirs onto and that he wanted to see me as soon as possible. Normally I would have told him I'm not in that line of work anymore, but something about his voice had sounded frightened and that wasn't normal for Higgins.