The Rule of Three


Agnes Rodrigues turned her back on the tenth hole. It deserved the snub, and she didn’t care if if her putt kept rolling all the way to Kona.

“Nice shot,” said Coutinho.

Where had he come from?

“Rule of three,” said Agnes. “The triple bogey is one. You’re two. What’s three?”

“Shad Heaukulani,” said the detective. “He’s out today.”


“His cellie says he’s been blaming you for five years.”

“You mean Grimes?”

“I forgot—he’s a client too. I thought your track record was better than that.”

Coutinho never forgot anything, and her track record was fine when clients gave her something to work with. He just enjoyed messing with her.

“You might want to watch your back,” he said.

“Comes with the territory.”

Coutinho’s territory was the rainy Hilo side of the Big Island. He stood in the relentless sun of the Kohala side as if he expected his hair to ignite. Had he really come to protect a criminal defense attorney?

“I don’t need the aggravation,” he replied to her unspoken question. “Since when do you play golf?”

“I’m taking it up again. Haven’t played in ten years.”

“That’s why your game is off. Like your phone.”

He wasn’t the only one who knew her weekend routine. She came to the expensive Kohala resorts to pick up a man from the mainland. She spent Saturday night with him, sent him back to his life on Sunday morning, and then turned her phone on to find out which of her clients would need her on Monday morning.

This Saturday she had turned the phone off even earlier. The etiquette of golf demanded silence, and expeditious play. The three men in her foursome were doing a poor job of looking patient.

“Try it with your feet a little closer together,” said Coutinho.

• • •

Agnes made her entrance. Male and female heads all around the hotel bar swiveled. She had never taken a woman up on the challenge, but maybe someday she would.

One of the men in the room outweighed any two of the others. In this hotel, native Hawaiian men loomed like strangers in their own land. Agnes filed the insight away and steered straight toward the man at his table in the center of the room. She took the seat across from him.

“Shadrach,” she said. “You’re out.”

She knew he hated his Biblical name, but she wanted to seize the momentum.

“As of today,” he said.

“I’m told you’re unhappy with me. Next time you discipline one of your people, maybe you shouldn’t do it with half the island watching.”

“I had five years to figure stuff like that out. That’s what I came to tell you.”

She gaped at him.

“My cousin got me a job here. Take care, Ms. Rodrigues.”

He heaved his bulk up from the chair and left. After a moment she decided she might as well go back to plan A.

Assuming she could close her flapping jaw.

Agnes looked around and decided to cut the usual process short. She selected a presentable man at the bar and crossed the room to him. Eyes followed her sleek dark progress.

“Buy me a drink, and we’ll see what happens.”

• • •

The warm, moist air of Hilo welcomed Agnes home. She parked in her reserved space and popped the hatchback. As she reached for her golf bag, a faint scuffing on the blacktop sent a charge up and down her spine.

She slid her putter from the bag and spun to the right. The club connected with the bony knob of the man’s right elbow. Shad would have shrugged, but Grimes screamed, and a nasty serrated knife dropped from his hand. He sank to his knees and cradled his elbow. Agnes stood over him.

“Now you’re making me call the cops, and I hate that. I’d tell Shad, but he doesn’t need trouble.”

Grimes kept sniveling.

“You understand I can’t represent you on this?”

She had never stored Coutinho’s number. If she got hit by a car, or stabbed, she wanted clean underwear and no cops in her contacts.

She gave him the details.

“Nice,” he said. “Feet together?” “Thanks for the tip.”

~ fin ~

Albert Tucher_headshot_Color2018

Albert Tucher is the creator of sex worker Diana Andrews, who has appeared in more than one hundred stories in venues including SHOTGUN HONEY and the anthology THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2010. Her first longer case, the novella THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE, was published in 2013. In 2017 Albert Tucher launched a second series set on the Big Island of Hawaii, in which BLOOD LIKE RAIN is the most recent entry. He lives in New Jersey, and he loves NJ Turnpike jokes.