Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Author’s Note: This is a response to a challenge on a Hawaii Five-O writers’ group to write something based on the picture below of the Five-O team in the crosshairs. The first paragraph is a parody of the first paragraph of an excellent story called “The Shot” by Traw, written for the same challenge.

Lifting the camera to his eye, he quickly adjusted the lens, bringing into focus the four as they walked towards him. He frowned as he gently placed his finger on the button, imagining his photo on the front of tomorrow’s paper. He could even see the headlines beneath his photo—“Five-O Detectives Confer at Crime Scene”. His editor would not be happy.

He was right. “Nelson! Five rolls of film you’ve shot, and you don’t have one picture of them alone together where they’re not obviously at a crime scene?” the Honolulu Weekly News Inquirer editor yelled, pounding his fist on the desk and dropping the sheaf of prints so they fanned out over the surface. “We have our shocking exposé of their torrid affair all ready to go, and all we need is a couple of lousy pictures that can be taken out of context! Is that so much to ask?”

“What about this one, chief?” the hapless Nelson asked, shuffling through and selecting a picture.

“Great—what will the headline say, ‘Five-O detectives drive to a case’?” the editor inquired sarcastically. “A picture of them getting into a car in front of the Iolani Palace in broad daylight is not suggestive, you nimwit!” he shouted, hurling the offending print at his photographer.

“’s one where they’re leaning over talking to each other. Their heads are kind of close.”

“There’s a dead body between them!” the editor bellowed.

“It’s not my fault, chief!” his cowering underling protested. “I’ve been following McGarrett for a week, and he just spends all his time with Williams! Look, here’s a great picture of them in aloha shirts getting into a boat.” He pulled it from the stack. “If it were Kokua, it would be perfect. And this one, where they’re standing on McGarrett’s lanai—I climbed halfway up a palm tree to get that, and then it was the wrong guy!”


Nelson had an idea. “Maybe we could just print the faces really blurry, and say it was him?” “No good. The height is totally wrong.” The editor sighed.

“I have one more roll,” the photographer said, bending to rummage in the knapsack at his feet. He withdrew an envelope and from it took a print of the picture he’d taken that morning. “What if we crop it so it’s just the two of them? At least they’re side-by-side in this one,” he suggested nervously.

“Nelson, he’s obviously holding a notebook. No, we’re just going to have to scrap the story and try something else. Maybe we can imply the Governor is up to something.”

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