Chocolate Kisses 2: Pearl Ch. 03bycalibeachgirl©
Chapter 3 -- October, 1941
Copyright @ calibeachgirl
All rights reserved, 2011
With thanks to Doug, Elliot and Pepper for editing and support and for Jimmy B.
Although the blue tail-rudder blended well with the sea below, the plane's chrome-yellow wings and fuselage screamed "Here I am!" to anyone looking for it.
Reaching its ceiling, the plane abruptly flipped over upside-down and headed toward the water almost two miles below. He could feel the wind vibrating the wire rigging between the wings as they continued to plunge straight down.
In the rear cockpit, the instructor held tightly to the hand grips he had installed as his student pilot cork-screwed the Stearman toward the ocean. As concerned as he was, he had full confidence in the skills of his student and tried to enjoy the roller-coaster ride. Just the same, he no longer ate breakfast when he knew they were going flying. Whatever the mind knew, the stomach refused to believe.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" the pilot in the front cockpit screamed in joy as the ocean rushed up to meet them. The instructor knew it, even if he couldn't hear anything through the oxygen mask and the engine noise. It happened every time they did this stunt.
Ah, crap, he thought, as the plane pulled away from the ocean and swooped back up into the clouds.
The plane bounced once and settled, leaving another set of black skid marks on the year-old cement as it headed toward a small group of hangers lining the runway. The Kaydet trainer taxied closer and stopped; its engine died and soon, the only sound to be heard was the nearby surf rushing the North Shore beach.
The man in the back hopped out and held out his hand as his student stepped out onto the lower wing, jumped into his arms and kissed him. Taking away both her goggles and leather helmet, he ran his fingers through her tightly curled hair. He swung her around, her knees bent back as she held herself tightly against him.
"Baby, that was fantastic! I've not been that excited in a long time." He gave his wife a wide toothy grin. "That was almost as good as making love to you." He squeezed her ass with both hands and spun around again before setting her down on the heating runway.
Bethany hugged her husband and as they walked over to their old Chevrolet, three blue-dungaree'd sailors began to push the little biplane into its place alongside three blue and gray Grumman 'Cats and a couple of olive and yellow Boeing P-26s.
"That was quite an exhibition there, young lady. My stomach is still up in the clouds, somewhere."
"I thought you were the famous fighter pilot, the scourge of Europe." Just the hint of her smile appeared accompanied by a sly look of amusement.
"Ha... ha... ha... very funny... half the time you're up there you're scared to death you'll do something wrong and the other half you're scared to death knowing you did something wrong. It wasn't until I started flying the Jenny that I had some fun with it. Catherine and I..."
He became quiet. Even after all these years, there were still some topics that were better left unsaid... and this time, he did it to himself.
Bethany knew what to do when those feelings threatened to overwhelm him. "I remember. That was a nice little plane. I wish we still had it." She remembered the time she and Jim had buzzed the gambling boat in Santa Monica Bay. "This one, though, has a lot more spunk to it. We could have had a lot of fun with it back in Los Angeles. C'mon, fly-boy, let's go home."
"Yeah, it's nice but it's still a trainer, even if it is quite a bit faster than what we used to do. Want to do it, again, say sometime next week? Maybe Friday, the tenth?"
"Oh, Jimmy, that would be wonderful! I'll make sure that I make my instructor happy tonight!"
"Don't forget to fill out your flight log." He saw her looking greedily at the five fighter planes. "OH, NO, YOU DON'T!" Grabbing her hand, he pulled her away as gently as he could, as fast as he could.
Her flight suit disguised Bethany to a certain extent but her black curly hair was too obvious to ignore and she could feel the stares of the sailors as they drove back to town.
They stopped at the little town's small grocery store. Ever since the incident there, Bethany Rose only came to town when he could take her, his insistence as much as her need. Every now and then, he was awakened by her thrashing around as she relived the day in her nightmares.
Hoshito was surprised to see her; Eliza and John came into town to do the shopping, leaving her at home watching the girls or at Pearl with Jim.
"Mrs. Ewart, so good to see you. I was afraid I would never see you again. Mr. Ewart..."
The small Japanese man made no mention about their flight suits, raising Jim's suspicions. There weren't that many women who wore flight suits and the number of colored women in the islands who did so was non-existent.
"I have your Hershey's Kisses in the cooler. I think I got the last case in Honolulu."
It would indeed be a shame, Jim thought, if Hoshito turned out to be disloyal or worse, a spy. Time to get some surveillance out here, he hated to admit and wondered why it took him this long to think about that. A grocery store was the perfect place to keep tabs on what was going on and American sailors on passes weren't exactly known to keep quiet.
He hoped he was wrong. His complacency may have been a tremendous gaffe. Even now, the grocer looked warily around the store. Was he afraid of them or the sailors outside?
Jim had taken to wearing his sidearm when he wasn't at home or at Pearl. While Bethany said nothing, thinking it was because of what had happened at the store, he sadly knew it was for the storm coming from Japan. His work was now putting everyone at risk if the Japanese discovered what his role really was in Naval Intelligence.
"Here you are, Mrs. Ewart, that's 25 pounds of candy at seventy-five cents a pound..." The old man put his pencil to paper and squinted at his numbers. "Eighteen dollars, seventy-five cents."
Bethany counted out the money, one tired bill at a time. Even as she did so, she realized that these candies were part of her weight gain... and yet, her husband said nothing. She looked at him, wondering what he must be thinking as the chocolate was pushed across the counter. He said nothing but did smile. Never once did he ever consider what the silver wrapped chocolate might have been doing to her, so blind was he when it came to her wishes. Indeed, he handed her the money himself earlier in the morning.
She felt guilty and looked at the box. Chocolate kisses... she laughed quietly. It was what he asked for every day. She started to push the box back and say she had made a mistake but Jim leaned over and whispered into her ear. "Take the box, baby, it'll probably be the last one."
In the car, he looked at the box and then at her. "Listen. You're not going to be able to get those pretty soon if we get into a war. Chocolate is all going to go to the military for rations. Just don't eat it all at once. I don't know when we're going to get any more. I'm actually surprised we got these. Sugar is going to be hard to get. It'll be rationed. We'll have to get another hive or two before people wake up."
Jim's talk of war continued to disturb her and dulled her enthusiasm from the morning. She prayed he was wrong but then, she remembered, he was never wrong. It might take a while before his predictions came true but they always did. The very thought made her shiver and as she looked at the box of Hershey's on her lap, she started to cry. Her world was crumbling around her and there was nothing she could do.
When they arrived home, she took the box and put it into the cool room below the house.
That night, he dreamt of Catherine and his two lost daughters. Unlike other times, this time made him smile in his sleep and he rolled to wrap his arm around his Bethany Rose. Somewhere in his heart, he saw both women together, surrounded by all four girls.
Two hundred feet west of the house, Spencer Reynolds was slowly moving on his hands and knees looking for weeds. The tomato plants were now four feet tall and most had ripening fruit. This was his third week working at the Ewarts' home doing manual labor and for once, he was grateful to the colored woman... it was either this, he realized, or hard labor. How the hell, he thought, was he supposed to know she was the wife of a Navy commander? Even so, she had been incredibly polite to him, bringing him food and cool lemonade to drink. He slowly realized that he was such a damned fool that morning.
Another weed was pulled out from the fertile volcanic soil and tossed into his bag.
He finished with the weeds around the tomatoes, picked up his shovel and walked over to the chicken coop and run. At first, the spreading of chicken manure into the compost heap didn't exactly please him one bit but eventually he grew used to it and now, he had it down to just another task to accomplish before it became too hot to work outside.
Going inside, the hens scattered as he began gathering the nearly one hundred eggs waiting for him. He kept a wary eye out for the rooster. That was one mean bird. After washing them, he kept the best dozen for the house and put the rest into straw filled boxes to take to the Japanese grocer the next morning. Returning to the store had been interesting following what he had... no, he thought, no sense thinking about it. It either was going to be the best thing that happened or the stupidest thing that happened but no sense in crying over spilt milk.
Returning to the outbuilding's workbench, he began to mix together the chicken feed. With almost no grains growing in the islands, a good third of the food provided the cackling birds was grass. That was provided by moving the chicken run every few days before the chickens totally denuded the ground, leaving nothing but dirt.
A good source of food was the myriad bugs that lived on the... what could he call this place? A farm? Not a farm in the traditional sense he was used to from the South but definitely an almost self-sufficient homestead. The birds foraged on the insects as much as they could and moving the wire fence kept the birds in protein.
He put together a basket of pigeon peas and two buckets of worms for protein. Whistling another Andrews Sisters' tune, he walked back into the pen and spread the food around, laughing as the hens rushed through the still tall grass to get the worms flying through the air.
Several yards away, he saw his zucchini and cucumbers winding up the trellis he had installed two weeks earlier. Did he really think of them as 'his'? He guessed he did, given the amount of time he spent there. After the first week, he began staying later and later until he practically lived at the Ewart-Franklin house. If the commander noticed, he didn't say anything. How could he not notice?
The Hawaiian climate was a miracle for plants like these. They kept growing all year long and he had no doubt that with enough work, tomato plants could live forever. Since coming to work here, he was eating better than he ever had. If not for the work, he would probably have gained ten pounds. He was as fit as he could be.
And yet, it did bother him, somewhat, that he was torn between what he felt before and what he felt now about Mrs. Ewart and Mrs. Franklin... especially Mrs. Ewart. He found the colored woman arousing him whenever he saw her. Was it because she was the only woman he now had any contact with, or was it because he subconsciously still felt she was something to be used for his pleasure? Either way, it bothered him greatly.
He saw her coming toward him with the lunch basket. She had gone from not speaking to him at all to addressing him as Mr. Reynolds to now calling him Spencer. He still spoke to her as Mrs. Ewart. He was afraid to cross that final line and become too friendly with her. No matter how much he might be tempted, no matter what she might feel, as if that was going to happen... he knew it was a death sentence. The commander was carrying everywhere he went, every time he saw the man and there were enough shore patrol around to kill him if the commander didn't.
"Thank you, ma'am," he said, reaching for the basket. As usual, there was a large thermos of iced lemonade and two sandwiches, chicken and tuna today. So much better, he realized, than the Navy mess his friends were eating. At the bottom of the basket, he found a huge brownie. A toothy grin revealed his surprise.
"Thank you, very much! You sure are a good cook. I haven't had anything this good since my..." He was quiet. His mother had died; his no good daddy had run away and he had joined the Navy to stay out of jail. That about summed up his life.
He pulled another weed.
He heard something... another damn toad. The commander had been very clear about those toads and he picked up his shovel and brought it down, slicing the amphibian in half.
Later that afternoon, he worked carefully around the three memorials. He read the names the first time he was shown what to do; but she had made no comment. It made sense when he thought about it... the woman and her two girls were the commander's second family.
Whether they were really married or not, they acted as if they were and he knew well enough now to act the same way toward the colored women and girls there.
It explained, he realized, the age difference. It also explained the protective attitude the two men had toward their families. What a fool he had been to act the way he did. He was lucky the two men in the market hadn't killed him. He would have.
He pulled another weed and then polished the large granite stone carrying their names.
He looked forward to supper. The food had changed after the first week and gone were the fried chicken and ribs and mashed potatoes to be replaced by fish and the vegetables he was tending. As much as he missed the down-home Southern cooking, he found he felt much better with the new menu... and, fishing was a lot of fun each morning.
At least, Mrs. Franklin had kept the coleslaw. Honey and lemon juice for the dressing... it sounded strange until he courteously tried it. The recipe would have gone home to his mama, but...
This had turned out to be the greatest situation ever to come his way. It sure beat the brig, he knew.
After supper, he read another of the books the commander had given him. Originally, having to study almost made him choose the brig but as the days passed, he started to become interested, especially in the book that the commander had written about the Great War.
Damn, Spencer thought, the man was a fighter ace. An excellent reason not to fish in another man's pond. Killing wasn't something foreign to Ewart and Spencer had no desire to become another scratch on the side of the commander's cockpit.
Strangely, James never seemed to gain weight, no matter what he ate. Bethany Rose seemed to forget that he and John had exercised daily since moving to Hawaii; it just wasn't that obvious, especially when he was at Pearl.
James, though, had noticed the change in her attitude and soon took her running early in the morning along the beach and then back up into the hills. When they slowed to cool down, he picked her up and carried her into the water. "Oh, no, you don't!" she laughed and he dropped her into the waves and went down with her.
How much longer he would be able to do so, he had no idea but was convinced it wasn't going to be much more. One good thing, he thought, was that his Chinese herbals had started to show promising results and he could hardly wait until he was fully satisfied he could fully satisfy her.
He was sitting in the library, making notes when she came in and closed the door. Nothing, he determined, was going to get done, now. Smiling, she sat down on his lap, letting the robe slip open. "Doing a little homework?" she teased. Bethany wet her finger and touched is lips.
Jim's right hand moved up and down her back, sliding across her chocolate skin. His fingers caressed her shoulder, her neck, her skin.
She took his right hand and placed it upon her thigh and moved it back and forth. "Mmmmmmm..." she moaned. She had missed his constant touching. She felt his fingers slither across her skin, leaving a burning trail and that dampness returned.
The change in diet and his herbal remedies had done wonders for her self-esteem. Thoughts of his straying were pushed to a hidden corner of her mind but she realized all the weight she had gained had caused her problems. Combined with his own situation, she had become unsure.
He wasn't sure whether she meant it or not but wasn't going to argue about it. His hand inched upward, slowly, toward that mysterious patch that had drawn his attention from almost the first moment he saw her standing on that Venice street corner. His finger slipped in as she shifted her leg a bit and she moaned again.
My God, he thought, how wet was she? His fingers ministered to her needs and soon she was vibrating against him.
"I see that you're awake down there." A move... "Thank God," she whispered to herself. "Jimmy, do me..."
"Liza, are you still wanting to do a Halloween party? If so, we're going to have to get the candies as soon as possible."
"I don't know... I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not. Every time Jim turns around, he's talking about war. He might not want to spend the money. How do we even know we can get the candies? Given all this healthy food the two of them are demanding... yeah, I know they're right, but, given that, how can we buy a bunch of candy? I've already lost a few pounds, myself, and I wasn't even trying. What do the boys say?"
"Thanks a lot, Eliza, thanks a lot. I've still got another ten pounds to go. As far as the boys go, I haven't asked. I figured we're doing most of the work."
"Yeah, well, sure, but Jim's really becoming tied up at Pearl. Do you think he'd mind?"
Bethany thought. If everything he was worried about came true, this might be the last Halloween party for a long, long time. One way or another, they would have a party, even if it was the last one for a while. "Let's do it. He won't mind, even if he can't be here for it. Maybe, though, instead of candy we make cupcakes and ice cream and have games. That might be better. We could have it in the back before it gets too late."
"All right, let's get Spencer down to Hoshito's and order whatever we're going to need. Do you think the school would help us out this year with decorations? You know, maybe we could have it at the school?"
"Sister, are you crazy? Who wants to go to school more than they have too?" Bethany laughed. "Let's get some mothers to help bake, this year." She left the kitchen to find Spencer.
He lay on the bed, waiting for her to return from the bathroom. He had had the strangest dream. He was a school teacher and the classroom was full of young boys who seemed to be listening to music. How they were able to do so, his subconscious didn't bother to explain and his growing frustration made him angry. He had a movie he wanted to show, something about... he couldn't remember... too many times he awoke and couldn't remember what he had dreamt, only that he was in a foul mood.
In his dream, he walked down the aisle to one boy who was snapping his fingers to some unheard tune and grabbed him by the collar, throwing him out the door.
He had awoken with a start that shook the bed.
She was not in the bed and it wasn't until he heard the shower running that he settled down. He didn't have this problem before and wondered if it were the different herbs he was taking. It seemed more likely, though, that it was his worry about the Japanese.
Even though their information was solid-gold terrifying, no one seemed to listen. He had no idea how far up the chain of command his reports went before being put on a shelf somewhere to languish and die.