Never Go Hiking with Steven J. McGarrett, Chapter 2
"What?" Danny asked.
"Looks like someone's hurt. Two guys are carrying an injured girl up the trail."
Danny sat up at the same time Steve stiffened. "Up the trail?" Danny demanded, trying to see where Steve was looking. "Down the trail is where help is. Why would they go up the trail?"
Steve agreed. He watched through the binoculars. A pudgy Hawaiian and a skinny white youth carried a woman between them. Steve saw blood on her head.
"Body dump?" Danny asked, giving up on trying to see for himself.
"I … no, she just opened her eyes. She's hurt but she's not dead. I've got to help her."
The ex-SEAL bounded up.
The alarm in Danny's voice brought Steve to a halt. What was he thinking, leaving his blinded partner alone on the side of a mountain because he thought, maybe, he'd seen a woman move.
"Watch yourself, Steve. I won't be there to back you up," Danny said, peering through the glare that was only in his mind.
Steve should have known that Danny's concern was for his partner, not himself.
"And you'd better take the first aid kit," Danny added, tossing the backpack in Steve's general direction.
Squinting sidelong at his phone, Danny could see he had bars. "Call me."
"Yes, Mom," Steve said, as he shrugged on his pack. He began jogging up the trail, his long strides eating up the ground between him and the two out-of-shape suspects.
As he rounded the curve and came into view of Danny's position again, he paused to check on his friend. Danny sat cross-legged where Steve had left him, tilting his head from side to side like a bird to get a better view. Steve raised his hand. Danny responded, then flicked his fingers, motioning Steve onward and relieving his mind because his friend had been able to see him.
Steve reached the ridgeline, disappearing from Danny's view, just as the young attackers decided they'd carried their victim far enough.
"Nobody can see us now," the Hawaiian said, just as Steve yelled, "Police! Put the girl down!"
With a convulsive start, the young men dropped her and she began rolling toward the cliff edge. Steve shoved his gun back in its holster and ran to grab her.
The attackers took advantage of the distraction and ran back down the trail.
Steve couldn't spare them a glance, let alone a bullet, he only had eyes for the victim. The young woman cried out in pain as she bounced, out of control, down a steep slope. Steve charged after her, lunging and catching her wrist just as her legs flew into space.
Sprawled on the ground, Steve looked into two dazed, frightened brown eyes.
"Don't worry. I have you. I won't let you fall," he reassured her. "Grab hold of my wrist."
When she did, Steve began to inch backwards, pulling her to the side so he could get his legs under him. Now clasping the woman around the waist, he half-walked, half-crawled up the incline until he reached the level ground around the trail. He lay her down in a safe location.
"How do you feel? Are you OK? Can you move your hands and feet?"
"Yes," she said, and did so. "My head hurts," she added weakly. "Those men, they stole my fanny pack."
"Don't worry. They can't get far," Steve reassured her. "I don't think they're intrepid frontiersmen who will take cover in the wilderness."
"No, I don't think so," she agreed with a faint giggle.
"I'll call for help," Steve said, pulling out his phone. But first he called his partner.
"How come they got away and I don't see Super SEAL in hot pursuit?" Danny asked, before Steve had a chance to say anything. The detective could see the two youths huffing and puffing down the trail.
"They distracted me by trying to throw their victim off a cliff," Steve answered.
"You're forgiven, then," Danny conceded. "OK, you call for a rescue chopper. I'll stop the terrible twosome."
Steve swallowed a protest. He had called his handicapped friend to warn him to take cover. He should have known that a cop didn't hide from trouble.
"Don't worry, babe," Danny said. "I can handle these two amateurs."
"Be careful, partner. I won't be there to back you up," Steve said.
"That's because I'm the backup," Danny said confidently.
Steve called for a medical rescue and sat with the girl, but she noticed he kept glancing at the ridge.
"What's wrong? Will your friend be OK? He's another cop, right?"
"Yes, but he was having a migraine attack. He could hardly see, and it's two against one."
"Maybe we should go up to the ridge where you can see what's happening," the young woman suggested.
"I don't like to move you," Steve said.
"You already have," the victim pointed out with a glance at the cliff. "A few more feet won't hurt."
When the two panting and wheezing suspects rounded the bend, they saw a man lying across the trail. Blood was smeared across his forehead and on a rock in the path.
"Is someone there?" the blond man moaned piteously. "Help me, please? I can't see. I fell and hit my head."
Danny gazed through squinting eyes past the lights that had moved to the left third of his vision now. The men were distorted shapes, but that was enough when they got close enough.
"Sorry, pal, we can't stop. We'll send help," the first man lied as he stepped over the wounded man in the path.
Danny's leg scythed up, catching the hefty Hawaiian youth in the crotch. Danny scissored his legs and twisted his body, flinging the Hawaiian backwards into his Caucasian friend. The two men sprawled on the trail.
Danny bounded up, ignoring the islander who was moaning and clutching himself. As the other youth tried to scramble out from beneath his bigger friend, Danny drove a fist into his gut.
The detective shoved the wheezing youth on his face, kneeled on his back and fastened his wrists together with a plastic zip cuff. The Hawaiian had rolled over, trying to raise himself up. Danny stepped on his back, driving him down with a whoosh of air, and zip cuffed him, too.
"Now, up, up boys." Lashing with his tongue, the detective drove the cowed suspects back to the little grove of trees where he used more zip cuffs to fasten the men to the immovable landscape.
"Who are you?" gasped the Anglo youth, when he regained his breath.
Danny smacked his blood-dyed forehead with the heel of his hand. "How rude! I forgot to introduce myself. I am a police officer and you are under arrest." He flashed his badge at the duo. "I'm sorry, but I assumed you were shy. My partner — the guy you met ten minutes ago — said you threw a girl off a cliff and ran away squealing when he introduced himself, so — you know — I decided we needed a little ice breaker first. Or should I say nut breaker," he smirked his best imitation of a Steve McGarrett smirk. It wasn't quite as obnoxious as Steve's superior version, but it got the job done.
"I don't know what you're talking about," the Hawaiian blustered.
"Please!" Danny interrupted, displaying his superior talent. "We're going to do that? The second oldest cliché in the criminal handbook, right after, 'you've got the wrong guy, officer.' Please do yourself a favor and run through the conversation silently in your head because I've heard it all before. In fact, may I remind you that you've got the right to remain silent and I'm begging you to use it or I may just have to shoot you and toss you off the cliff."
"You wouldn't." But the white youth wasn't so sure when he looked at his captor. Danny's migraine aura-induced squint and angry bunched fists looked pretty scary.
Satisfied that he had intimidated the pair, Danny donned latex gloves and searched their daypacks.
"Hey, that's ours," the Hawaiian protested.
"Really? This cute, pink fanny pack is yours?" the detective said, pulling the waist pack out of the canvas daypack. Inside was a wallet crammed to bursting with what looked like a small fortune but was one $5 and the rest ones, for a total of $37.
"So let me guess," Danny sighed. "You were behind the girl on the trail and she opened her pack to get, I don't know, some more sunscreen?" He tapped a bright orange tube. "You saw the wad of cash, succumbed to temptation and tried to steal the money, but she resisted and you hurt her more than you intended and found yourself with a body to dump."
The young men were staring open-mouthed.
"No, I'm not psychic," Danny said sarcastically. "I've just seen this movie so many times before, I can almost smell the popcorn. Very derivative, babe. Definitely not Oscar-worthy. But cheer up," he said brightly. "This may be your lucky day after all, because your body is not dead — yet. And my partner is even now endeavoring to make sure she stays alive and at the very same time, because he is a Navy SEAL with awesome skills — don't tell him I said that — he is also doing his best to reduce your charge from murder to attempted murder. You can thank him later."
Danny let his words rattle on as he gazed across the canyon, thankful he could see the ridge at the other side with just a dwindling patch of shimmering brightness at the upper left of his vision. As he watched, Steve carefully carried the injured woman to the ridge where he could see across to Danny's location. Danny knew his partner was checking on him. He punched speed dial and saw Steve answer his phone.
"You're not supposed to move injured victims, Steven," he said severely.
"You can see that?" Steve said sheepishly.
"Still a little fuzzy and sparkly, but, yes, I can see you."
"I only moved her a few feet," Steve justified himself. "Anyway, it was her idea. She said it was OK."
The girl waved her hand at the distant detective.
Awake and moving, Danny thought, as he waved back. That's a relief. He hoisted her pink waist pack so she could see it.
"She says, thank you," Steve relayed.
"I reached the sheriff's department," Danny said. "A couple of deputies are on the way to take these numbskulls into custody."
"I think the rescue chopper's already here," Steve replied.
The steady beat of a helicopter slapping its way through the air echoed off the cliffs before the white and orange aircraft lifted into view.
Coast Guard this time, Danny thought, pleased that he could see it. The watery sparkle had drifted to the left of his vision. A rescue team dropped down beside Steve. He spoke to them, leaving the girl to the medics, then seemed to be arguing with the Coasties.
Danny saw a flash in Steve's hand that had to be his badge. Was he playing the "full immunity and means" card? Next he'd be speed-dialing the governor. But, no, he seemed to come to some agreement with the pilot. Steve grabbed the line dangling from the rescue winch. The helicopter pulled away, heading straight for Danny, with McGarrett dangling beneath it like the action hero he so strongly resembled.
Danny hardly had time to throw up his gloved hands in exasperation before the helicopter was kicking up dirt just up the trail. Steve unclipped himself, dropped to the ground and waved. The helicopter returned to the rescue team and their victim.
Danny watched his partner approach and Steve was glad to see the blue eyes tracking him. As the noise of the helicopter eased, Danny said, "That was über cool, seriously, babe; but unnecessary."
Steve considered a dozen wisecracks, but settled for the truth. "I was worried. Is that blood in your hair?"
Danny touched a crusty bit he'd missed in his cleanup. "Just a little window dressing." He rubbed his rescabbed knee. "So they'd make the mistake of stepping over me." He flicked a foot in illustration. Steve winced in reflexive sympathy.
"How's the girl?" Danny asked.
"Awake and responsive and grateful you caught her attackers."
Deputies trotted up the trail in response to Danny's call. He waved them over and pointed to the duo zip cuffed to a tree back to back. "The packs are evidence," he advised them. As they cut the men loose, Danny pulled off the latex gloves.
"Why did you bring zip cuffs?" Steve asked.
"They don't weigh much," Danny defended himself.
"No, I mean, how come you brought them and latex gloves up here?" Steve gestured at the wilderness around them.
"Because I was going hiking with Steven J. McGarrett — trouble magnet. The last time we went hiking, we found a body. This time I figured we were due to find a suspect. But you outdid yourself, babe, with two suspects and a victim. I'm impressed." He crossed his arms, challenging Steve to deny it.
Steve absolutely could not tell whether Danny was serious. The commander wanted to argue, but the evidence was unmistakable. He shrugged, "Like I've said, you've got good instincts."
Danny watched the rescue team load the girl and fly away.
"Next time, let's just rent a helicopter and fly in," the detective suggested. "It'll save the taxpayers a lot of money."