Chocolate Kisses 2: Pearl Ch. 05-06bycalibeachgirl©
Copyright @ calibeachgirl
All rights reserved, 2011
Saturday, December 6th, 1941
The cloudless blue-sky sunshine glowed around her as the surf roared onto the beach. Rolling up to where she had stopped, it splashed her long legs. Wearing a dark-brown two-piece swimsuit, Bethany looked almost nude as she walked along the sand with her two girls, one on each hand; suddenly, another child appeared from the water arms up, wanting to be held.
As Bethany reached down, the morning reveille sounded and woke her from her dream.
It was one of those dreams that seemed so real. Doctors were occasionally discussing ideas that the brain couldn't tell the difference... it was as real as real could be and yet it wasn't.
Freud had just died two years earlier; known for saying that dreams were sexual in nature, he still managed to hedge his bet, saying 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,' so who knew what dreams really meant.
"Nammmrfffff," she mumbled and rolled over, finding her arm reaching for emptiness. He was gone and then she understood the vibrant sound of the bugle.
She looked out the window. Jim, in his uniform, was with the rest of them and standing at attention, saluted while the Stars and Stripes rose on the base's main flagpole. Even the civilians had stopped moving and she stepped back from the glass, not wanting to embarrass him by being seen inside during the ceremony and considered disrespectful.
As soon as the sound faded away, there was a call for dismissal and he eventually returned to their room. Knocking on the door, he entered, took the wide-tooth comb from her hand and swept her nightgown-clad body into his arms, pressing her to him.
"Good morning, Sunshine, time for breakfast." He put his lips to her neck, kissing her brown skin.
"But, won't they mind? I mean..."
"First, I don't give a... I don't care what 'they' think... you should know that by now, baby.
"Second, I promised you a day in Honolulu and that's where we're going.
"Third, we wouldn't be eating with them, anyway; we'd be eating with my group."
"But..." She looked around the room, searching for something. "But, what about the, you know, the Japanese?" she whispered. "Don't you have to..."
"You'd think so, wouldn't you? We've turned in everything we've determined to them, the admirals and everybody... maps, charts, reports, photographs... I can't do anything more, that's it... now, it's just time to pray and hope that we're wrong."
"You're not finished, though, are you? You're still going to worry about it. Do you have anyone working on it right now? Shouldn't you be there?"
"No, we're not finished and yes, I have people working on it but there's nothing I can do right now without getting into a plane myself and flying around trying to find them. They're somewhere to the north, I just know it.
"God damn it. Look, let's go to town." His face was turning red, not a good sign, she knew. Then, he calmed, as if he was incapable to do anything else whenever he was around her.
"C'mon, put on a happy face. Breakfast awaits, m'lady. Time for some fun."
She nudged him with her Keds sneaker. "Oh, Jimmy, this rice is delicious. How did you find this place?"
"Actually, a friend of mine found it about a year ago."
"HA! Are you jealous? There's nothing to be jealous about, you know that...
"I couldn't resist. I'm sorry." He looked around the small sidewalk café, checking to see who might be watching them. It seemed clear, so far. He was becoming more and more paranoid as the days passed. If this kept up, he was going to have to have an escort whenever he left the base. Maybe, Spencer would work out, he wondered.
"Ah, don't be. I appreciate the attention," she said, trying to steer the conversation away from his young lieutenant's likes and dislikes.
"Here, try this..." Jim replied. "Fried chicken with an orange-honey glaze... it's incredible. Yeah, I know it's fried... just eat it." He took his chopsticks and transferred a few pieces onto her plate. "Well?"
She poked a piece with hers. "Wow! It's exploding oranges in my mouth. Give me some more," she said, reaching for his plate.
"Greedy woman... What do I get in return?"
"C'mere, I'll tell you."
He leaned over the table, making sure his uniform stayed away of the sticky food. As she whispered, her hand reached under the table, his eyes widened and then his smile widened.
Without another word, he picked up his empty plate and brought it back across the table. A friendly wave at the serving girl brought another dish over and he slid that over to her also. "Here, eat it all."
"I'm going to have to have the recipe for Eliza. We can eat it once in a while, you know... I'd rather have you than this, anyway. How come I didn't know about this earlier?"
"That's easy... nobody knows it exists except for the people that come here and a couple of other places. It's not sweet enough for American tastes. If they find a way to sugar it up, it should be very popular.
"It's really known as "陈皮鸡", literally 'old peel chicken.' Sometimes, they use tangerine rind, instead." He didn't want to mention that it was his Chinese herbalist, during his last visit with her, who had offered him the dish. Better to leave that relationship quiet the way it was and just get the recipe if she was willing to part with it.
"Well, when you're finished, we can go do a little shopping. I saw some beautiful Hawaiian shirts for sale back that way. I know a couple of pretty girls that would like to have some, I bet. Maybe, even their mother... what do you think?"
"I think you have your priorities backward, that's what I think."
"Have you read the Watch Tower?" Standing before them was a small group of men, each holding a printed pamphlet.
"Look, uh... we're having breakfast here and would appreciate some privacy." Jim turned his head away from the group, hoping they would disappear back into the passing crowd walking the sidewalk.
"God is revealing his will and you should seek enlightenment if you choose to be saved. You're being in the military will doom you. Don't you want to be saved?"
"Listen, I'm trying to be nice. Go away. I'm not kidding, damn it, leave us alone."
"Armageddon is coming."
"You got that right. Message delivered. Now, beat it."
"Just let us give you this..."
Jim stood up. "I tried to be nice. Get the hell out of here before I lose what little patience I have left. I prefer to think for myself, thank you and so does my wife."
"This... woman is your wife?"
At that, Jim moved toward the speaker, saying, "Prepare to meet your maker, asshole."
He stopped and looked at his wife, ashamed of his actions while in her company. His perfect morning had been ruined.
Meanwhile, the group had taken the opportunity to make their way and vanish up the street.
"I... I need a break... let's go."
"What a beautiful shirt!" she exclaimed. The shirt, with a black background, had bright yellow-golden leaves and reddish Heliconia 'lobster claws.' Contrasting with her skin tones, the shirt's wild colors s stood out.
Time and after time, shirts were rejected until just the right one was matched. It turned out to be an expensive shopping trip. Besides Bethany, shirts were eventually bought for everyone.
"I knew it was going to be like this..." he said. He was still angry at those fools, accosting them at the little restaurant. What nerve! Couldn't just let people alone and now...
"And yet, you did it anyway. That's why I love you so much. Can I have some more of that chicken? Could we go back... please?"
After a quick stop for some more food to snack on, they headed back to their room at the base. "We'll leave the clothes here and then go back out again, unless you'd like to do something else."
Living on the North Shore had its advantages and its disadvantages. Clean air, beautiful scenery and the ability to live life alone and away from the mainland's restrictions were the main reason they moved there ten years earlier.
However, the adult attractions of Honolulu were usually out of reach due to the time required to return home late at night and movies were usually a year out of date by the time they made the rounds to their small town.
They hadn't even bothered to go see "Gone with the Wind" while they did take the children to see "The Wizard of Oz." The two of them had seen "The Cat and the Canary" with Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard and "Stagecoach" with John Wayne.
Most of the interesting films, though; they never had a chance to see, even though the year seemed to have an incredible number. The North Shore was just too far away to Honolulu to go there every Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
And, tonight, he thought, might be their last time in a long time, God forbid.
"How does dinner and a little dancing sound? The Royal Hawaiian has Apaka tonight. He's part of the radio broadcast. I think he's taken it over, actually. And, tomorrow, we could go see a film."
"Oh, could we?" Her eyes lit up like shining, dark stars. "But, I don't have anything to wear."
"Sweetheart, let's not worry tonight, just this one night, at least. I want us to have fun, tonight. You know, you're right, you're going to need a new evening dress for tonight."
Several hours later, dragging more bags of clothing back to their jeep, she asked for a hamburger. Lately, he thought, she'd been hungry more often than not. "Enough?" he asked as she finished her second burger.
It was two hours later before they left their package-filled room to return to Waikiki Beach with tired but well-pleased looks on their faces.
He took her hand and helped her out of the Jeep. Traveling around Hawaii in an open Jeep wasn't such a good idea wearing an evening dress and leaving a Jeep with the top up needed a skill that took a little practice.
Alfred Apaka was as good as advertised and as the evening wore on, they danced to his Hawaiian melodies until it was time to go. It was a slow drive back to the base and as much as he wanted to love her that night, he was just too exhausted to do any more than kiss her goodnight.
Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941
Eliza had all five children eating waffles early Sunday morning. Opening up one of the two round griddles, she poured more batter in, listening to it sizzle as it hit the hot metal.
Junior was eating like the young man he was soon to be, shoveling in one large mouthful after another, each dripping with home-gathered honey, as fast as he could. Lizbeth, though, ever thoughtful of her approaching womanhood, watched what she ate more than she had just a year before.
Eliza dreaded the day she was going to have to have the 'talk' with her. She and Bethany were going to have to sit down and get their stories straight before having to repeat it four different times.
Sunday's menu always threw out the healthy diet followed the rest of the time and in a few weeks, it would be Christmas and everything that went with it... She already had planned the menu, this year a much healthier but still traditional dinner. What Santa was going to bring, though, was still open to question.
Her whole family was around her... her husband, her sister, Jim whom she adored as much as she did John, Jr. and the four girls. Each child was treated so equally, it sometimes was difficult for others to know who belonged to whom.
And then there was a low rumble and the dishes began to shake enough that one glass fell over, spilling milk all over the floor.
"Earthquake! Everyone out, c'mon now, move." Always the last one out of the house, she still stopped to pull the griddle's cord from the wall. Cracks were one thing; house fires another thing, altogether.
"Look, Auntie 'Liza! Airplanes!" The little girl ran to Eliza and threw her arms around the woman, seeking shelter from the thunder.
Only several hundred feet above them, dark green planes flew by, angry red meatballs on their wings, shaking everything.
"Oh, Jesus," was all she could say. "Children, come here to me, now!" Where was John? Jim, for all his complaining, was dead right. Too late to pray, they all turned and ran for the house.
Spencer was turning over the compost pile when he heard the first deep, dark drone in the sky and turned to look north. Plane after plane after plane... all coming straight at him or so it seemed as he stood on the hillside. At first, he dropped to the ground, seeking some kind of shelter but quickly realized he was not their target... at least, not yet.
He ran back toward the house, waving his arms and screaming to the family standing on the grass to get back into the house and down on the floor.
One pilot broke formation and headed for them, guns firing but at the last moment returned to his group. Little did Spencer know that an angry group leader saved their lives, demanding the pilot return. It was the last 'kind' thing happening that day; the lieutenant, now wishing to bring honor to his family, decided not to waste any more ammunition on such unworthy foes.
Spencer looked at the large-caliber bullet holes stitched across the lawn ending six feet from away. He turned back from the house, was sick to his stomach and lost his breakfast.
"Bethany, honey, are you awake? It's almost eight o'clock, baby and we need to get some breakfast in town or you're going to have to eat Navy food. Do you want to go to that Chinese place, again?"
Bethany's response was totally unexpected. She flew out of the bed, her hand covering her mouth and headed down the hallway toward the bathroom at the south side of the building.
He was only seconds behind her, wondering what had happened to his wife. She couldn't be sick, could she? Navy food wasn't that bad, was it, and besides, they ate off-base yesterday, anyway.
"Bethany, are you all right?" Stupid question, he realized. Of course, she wasn't all right, she was sick to her stomach and vomiting whatever was left from yesterday dinner into the toilet.
He opened the door to find his wife on her knees, hovering over the toilet, trying to stop. Jim took a washcloth and wet it, attempting to wipe her face when she turned to him and said, "Jimmy, I'm going to have..."
There was a whistling noise and the first bomb hit.
Late Sunday afternoon found him finally conscious and covered with broken wood and smashed glass. "Oh, damn, my head... my... oh, shit!
"Bethany, where are you?" It was hard to hear, he felt like he was underwater and he choked on the dust that still moved in the breeze flowing through the shattered walls.
It was hard to see through the water spraying what was left of the building's second floor bathroom. "Bethany!" he screamed and tried to push the wooden beam off his leg.
"Aughhhhhhh!" Then, he noticed his pant leg soaked with dark-brown, dried blood...
Blood, whose blood... oh, crap... my blood...
He finally saw her dark form lying on the floor near what was left of that side of the bathroom. Whatever little clothing she had been wearing had been blown away by the blast and he could see her dried and dark-red blood smeared on the floor.
He braced himself against what was left of the wall and used his right leg to push against the wooden beam. It lifted off and away from him. Immediately, the pain screamed through his head. "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" he yelled and tried to move his left side. The pain almost made him pass out, again. He saw Bethany Rose lying there and once more tried to move.
He could, slowly. He dragged himself over to her, favoring his bad leg and was grateful to God that he could hear her breathing... a regular breathing, shallow to be sure but still regular.
She just didn't wake up.
Oh, God, she just didn't wake up.
He looked down the hallway through the destroyed doorway. There was no one there and while there was extensive damage, he thanked God there was no fire rushing through the wooden building. At least the water spraying throughout the room kept everything wet.
Help hadn't come, it wasn't coming; it was up to him to save his wife, just as he had done so long ago in Venice. He rolled over onto his knees, pushed up with his arms and finally limped down the hallway, leaning against the remaining walls and ducking fallen ceiling boards, looking for any gaping holes in the floor. He made it to the outside stairway landing and looked at the harbor.
Huge, monstrous black clouds billowed into the once blue sky and another explosion rocked the air as something exploded in the distance. He looked for something, anything but saw nothing heading his way, friend or foe.
Shuffling down the stairs a step at a time, he found them stable enough and slowly brought himself back into the building to get Bethany.
He stopped at their room and armed himself. Then as much as he hated to do it, he lifted her over his shoulder and slowly, so carefully retraced his steps to the outside, leaning heavily against the hallway wall, stepping around broken floor boards and sparking electrical wires. By the time he made it to the stair landing, two sailors saw them and helped him carry her down to a waiting jeep.
If they were surprised she was colored, they made no mention of it and the three of them quickly put her in the jeep and headed toward a tented triage area.
One of the doctors gave her a confused look which quickly disappeared when Jim's hand went to his .45 and the deadly stare on his face warned the man to do his duty.
"We'll need to have a look at your leg, Commander. Uh, just as soon as we take care of her, of course."
Two hours later, as he ran his hand over a cut open pant leg and bandaged leg, a nurse came by with news of Bethany Rose. "Commander Ewart, the woman..."
"Yes, my wife..."
"Uh, yes, sir, your wife... I'm sorry but she lost the baby; she has had a tremendous blow to the head and so we're going to keep her here as long as we can... you understand, as long as no others arrive needing our attention more. I've given her a sedative to keep her calm, especially after the baby... I'm sorry about that. I have to get back to some others, now."
"I don't think that will happen. It's been four hours since the last attack and word is that that's probably it for today, at least. We have patrols out looking for them.
"You said, a baby, didn't you?" It was starting to sink in that the child he never knew was gone forever. He leaned against the tent pole, wanting to fall down. Death all around and he was grieving for an unborn child he never met, never held, never kissed...
"Yes, I'm sorry."
"The Japanese, right?" It was obvious to the doctor that shock was starting to take over the man's senses. He seemed to be all right but his conversation kept going in circles. Between the attack and his wife's condition and now the loss of the baby...
"Yes, sir, they... looks like everyone was caught with their pants down. I'll take you to her, now, if you wish. Wait, let me get you a crutch."
"Thank you... I'm sorry, it's just that..."
"That's all right; today is going to be a perpetual nightmare for us all. We'll never going to forget today."
"Oh, Jesus, I forgot all about the girls. Where's a phone?"
"There aren't any, right now, everything's been commandeered and shut down."
"Yes, you're right, that was stupid of me. I guess... I hope they'll be all right. They're probably more worried about us.
"Damn! I knew I should have gotten everyone out of here. How stupid could I have been?" He clenched his fists in anger.
"Are you all right? Can I do anything for you?"
"Please, take me to her." He slowly stood up from the grassy shade he had been lying under, leaning heavily on the crutch the nurse had brought. None of the buildings at this end of the base remained intact and yet, the huge fuel tanks nearby were untouched. God, he thought, the Japs are going to regret that mistake.