Jade Bracelet
Part Three


 
It began in Honolulu on August 3, 1976, when a 17-year-old girl named Yuk Sim Lin decided to run away from home. Making that decision in the Hawaiian capital normally left two alternatives as places to go--an "outer" island or "the mainland." Pretty Yuk Sim opted for the mainland--specifically, San Francisco. She was in luck that Tuesday morning. Her friend Kit Mun Louie, 18, a beguiling beauty with auburn hair, was bound for the same destination and may have influenced both Yuk Sim's decision to leave and choice of where to get away from her family.
Upon arrival in San Francisco that evening, Kit introduced Yuk Sim to old friends Hotdog Louie and Samson Tso. In the days that followed, Kit presented several more of her friends to Yuk Sim. Kit seemed to know a lot of boys. When Yuk Sim asked her who they were, Kit told her they were all members of a gang called the Wah Ching. Perhaps it lent extra excitement to the runaway's adventure to consort with hotshot gangsters in glamorous Chinatown. At any rate, she registered no objection to keeping company with Kit's fast boyfriends. Nor did they object to her. In the next few weeks, the girls survived by moving around with the Wah Ching from one residence to another.
The night of the 27th of August, a Friday, Yuk Sim and Kit met Hotdog, Samson and several members of the gang at a moviehouse, the Wah Ching's favorite, the Sun Sing Theater. At that point, the relationships were heavy enough for Hotdog to turn over his and a couple of other guns to the girls for safekeeping. Kit and Yuk Sim secreted the weaponry in their handbags.
A short way into the film, they noticed a slight commotion at the rear. Hotdog shrunk into his seat as if to avoid detection. The disturbance at the back of the theater had announced the arrival of police. The cops came forward, bold as brass, staring at everyone in the flickering light, seemingly trying to pick someone out of the crowd. Hotdog tried to make himself as close to invisible as he could. In violation of his parole by being in The City, the last thing he wanted was a confrontation with law enforcement. But it was useless. To the policemen in the aisles, the well-known face stood out like a sore thumb. Kit and Yuk Sim clutched their purses and stared straight ahead at the screen.
The officers conducted the Wah Ching group out to the lobby. The girls, being from out of town and therefore unknown to the police, remained behind. The boys did not return.
"O.K., let's go," said Kit after awhile.
Outside, on Grant Avenue, Kit probed around in her handbag, her fingers rummaging underneath the stash of weapons on top. "Here...I've got Hotdog's car keys. Let's drive around."
The girls drove several blocks, then parked the car and went back to the area of the theater to look for Hotdog, Samson and the guys. None were in sight.
"I guess they've been arrested," commented Kit, but she offered no explanation to Yuk Sim. "Let's go to the hotel and wait."
The girls walked up the block to a small hotel where Hotdog had arranged for them to stay for a day or two.
In the room, Yuk Sim relaxed for the first time since the cops hauled the boys out of the theater. With relief, she put her handbag, loaded with guns, on the dresser. She never knew a purse could weigh that much. Kit also laid her purse aside, but she took the weapons out.
"Look at this one," she said admiringly, caressing a slim revolver. "It's Hotdog's. It's a .32."
Kit aimed the gun around the room. Yuk Sim shuddered. The older girl laughed.
"Silly!" she chided her friend. "There are no bullets in it! It won't go off."
With that, Kit pulled the trigger. The weapon fired a bullet into the wall. Stunned, both girls recoiled in shock.
"I guess there was a bullet in the chamber," offered Kit weakly. "I hope nobody heard it. My God, Hotdog will kill me if he finds out!"
Panic-stricken, the girls hid the guns in the room. No one in the cheap hotel seemed to have heard the shot, and probably would not have cared had they done so--or would have been too frightened to report it.
The next morning, Saturday, Kit announced to Yuk Sim that she was driving out to the San Joaquin Valley to visit a boyfriend, Michael Ng, who was incarcerated at the California Youth Authority in Stockton.
"We've got another place for you to spend the weekend," she said to Yuk Sim.
They gathered up the hidden guns and left the hotel. In Hotdog's car, Kit drove them to an apartment house somewhere in upper Chinatown. They went to Apartment 14. A boy waited inside.
Kit introduced him. "This is Duck. His parents are away for a couple of days. You can stay here while I'm gone. I'll be using Hotdog's car. He won't need it. He's probably in jail."
Duck left with Kit, and Yuk Sim spent the whole day alone in the apartment. Kit didn't come back till 1 o'clock on Sunday afternoon.
"Hotdog's a son of a bitch!" declared Kit angrily when she came in. "He found me and got pissed off because I used his car to go to Stockton. Then he saw me with some Joe Boys. So what? They're just another bunch of guys!"
She stormed out of the living room and slammed her bedroom door. Disturbed, Yuk Sim decided to leave her friend alone and retired to her own room. Stretching out on the bed, she soon fell asleep.
Two hours later, Yuk Sim was awakened by a loud bang like the sound of a gun going off. Her first thought was that Kit was playing with one of the weapons again.
"Kit, what's going on?" she called. There was no answer.
"Kit?" she called again and headed for the living room.
It was very quiet in the apartment. Kit's door was still closed.
"Kit, are you in there?"
The door swung open. Hotdog stepped out. Samson and Duck were close behind.
"Everything's O.K.," said Hotdog. "Nothing's wrong."
Yuk Sim didn't like the look on his face.
"Don't tell me that!" she cried. "Something IS wrong. I heard a gunshot! Where's Kit?"
"I told you nothing's wrong," Hotdog repeated calmly.
The boys stepped closer to Yuk Sim.
The now frightened girl backed away from them. "Don't you come any closer, none of you! Something's happened to Kit. I know it!" Hysteria crept into her voice. "Oh, my God, you've killed her! She said you'd kill her! Oh, Kit! Let me see Kit!"
She flew at them in a sudden frenzy of rage and terror. The boys grabbed her roughly and pinned her flailing arms to her sides.
"Hotdog said nothing's wrong," Samson told her. "Hell, honey, Kit's not even here."
"Yeah, she went out," seconded Duck.
While they tried to soothe her, they hustled her out of the apartment and into Hotdog's car. Samson drove. Yuk Sim sat with Hotdog in the back seat.
"I've got to tell you about it, Yuk Sim," Hotdog began, "but I want you to stay calm. There's nothing we can do about it now except be sorry it happened."
At great length, and with tears of self-reproach, the boy explained that Kit Mun Louie was indeed dead, but he hadn't killed her intentionally.
"It was an accident, I swear to you, Yuk Sim. I caught her running around with some Joe Boys early this afternoon. You see, the Wah Ching don't mix with the Joe Boys. Our girls don't, either. Kit should've known that. That's just the way it is. Friday night, the cops sent me back to Santa Rosa where I'm supposed to stay all the time. I couldn't get back here until today, and the first thing I saw in Chinatown was Kit with those punk guys. I got her away from them, and she gave me a lot of shit about it. Then, I got even more pissed when she told me she took the car to Stockton without my permission.
"She got angry, too, and drove my car back to Duck's place. I wanted to teach her a lesson, so we went after her. I was mad at her, for sure, but I wouldn't have killed her, Yuk Sim. I just wanted to scare her so she wouldn't do that again. I went into her bedroom. She was asleep. I woke her up and put the gun to her head, behind the ear. The cylinder was already out. She was really scared. I was just gonna say, 'Bang, bang,' and the goddamn gun went off! I didn't know there was a bullet in the chamber."
Shocked at first, with her worst fears confirmed, Yuk Sim could not quell a rising sense of compassion when she perceived Hotdog's grief as real.
"What...what will you do with...the body," she forced herself to ask at last.
Hotdog choked out, "We'll give Kit a decent burial, honest, with great respect."
Yuk Sim thought about it. "Are you going to tell the police?"
Hotdog looked up from his chest. "Christ, we couldn't do that! They'd never believe me with my record. Or Samson or Duck, either. Yuk Sim, I'd go to jail forever. Maybe I'd get the gas chamber! They'd think for sure it was murder. But it wasn't. I swear to you, it was an accident.
"You can understand our position--and what about you? You were right there. That sort of makes you an accomplice. If we went to the police, they'd think we were all lying...even you. Can't you be satisfied knowing we'll give her a good burial? Isn't that enough? If it isn't, going to the police has to be your decision."
There was no menace in Hotdog's voice.
Yuk Sim sighed unhappily. "I've got to think about it, but what about now? What am I supposed to do?"
Hotdog had the answer. "We're taking you to Santa Rosa. I got a place for you to stay for awhile, and then you can go back home. Go back to Honolulu and forget this ever happened."
While they crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in the traffic lane nearest the railing, the girl observed Hotdog throwing pieces of a gun in an arc wide enough for them to clear the bridge and plummet into the icy waters of the Bay below. By the time they reached the town where Hotdog officially resided according to the terms of his parole, after an hour or so of steady driving, Yuk Sim was relatively calm.
"You're telling me the truth--you're going to bury Kit properly?" she asked. The boys swore that was what they would do.
"Then I won't ever tell the police," she said.
They took her to the home of one of Hotdog's Chinese friends.
"We'll leave you here till you feel better, and I'll bring your clothes up from San Francisco in a few days," Hotdog promised, then left with his boys.
Faithful to his word, Hotdog came back later that week with her suitcase and personal possessions.
 

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2000 Brockman Morris