“ONCE MORE FROM LT. FUSCO”
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SUMMARY: Sequel to “Anthony’s Doubts”. Anthony Fusco expresses further feelings on the Danny/Evelyn relationship and Rafe.
DISCLAIMER: Yadda, yadda, yadda! All characters pertaining to the motion picture, “Pearl Harbor”, belong to Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay, Randall Wallace and the Walt Disney Company . . . unfortunately.
A hell of a lot has happened in the past two months since Danny and Evelyn began dating. A lot. And it happened – well, not exactly as I had imagined. But it all came to shit, anyway.
What am I talking about? Lieutenant Danny Walker of the U.S. Army Air Corps and Lieutenant Junior Grade Evelyn Johnson of the U.S. Navy, of course. You see, about two months ago, my friend and fellow pilot, Danny, began dating this nurse. I’m talking about Evelyn. Who happened to be (or should I say, used to be) the girlfriend of another pilot named Rafe McCawley. Who is now dead. Or was dead.
Okay, let me start from the beginning. Nearly a year ago, Rafe had received permission from the Army to volunteer for the Eagle Squadron in England. The Eagle Squadron was a group of American pilots who had volunteered to help the Royal Air Force fight the German air force. Last July, we received word that the Krauts had shot down Rafe over the English Channel. As far as the RAF and the U.S. Army were concerned, Lieutenant McCawley was dead.
Both Danny and Evelyn had taken the news pretty hard. I know that Danny did. He mainly kept to himself, during off duty hours. Then three months later, he and Evelyn ran into each other at a movie theater at the Kai Kai Korner in downtown Honolulu. I wasn’t there at the time, but Billy, Barbara, Red and Betty saw them at the Black Cat Café. Three or four days later, Danny and Evelyn had become an item.
No one really saw anything wrong with a guy dating his dead buddy’s girl. Well, no one but me. Hey, what can I say? It’s wrong! Okay, maybe it was okay for Danny to date Evelyn, but couldn’t he have waited until poor Rafe had been dead for at least a year? Red said that at least Danny was around to take care of Evelyn. Hey, I see nothing wrong with that. But jeez, he doesn’t have to romance the woman! Wouldn’t a simple friendship suffice? You know, it seemed to me that both Danny and Evelyn thought they had fallen in love. Or called themselves moving on, after Rafe’s death. Yeah right! That’s what they and everyone else wanted to think. But I knew better.
Danny seemed convinced that he was in love with Evelyn. I don’t know. Maybe he was. I remembered that he seemed to be walking on air, following his little plane ride with Evelyn. But I also remembered that scene I had witnessed, the following day. It happened at a park near Wakikki Beach. There I was sitting on this bench, while trying to think of ways to convince Sandra O’Connell to date me. Jeez, I must be pathetic! It had been nine months since I had first asked her for a date and she still wouldn’t give me the time of day. Maybe I should just give up. Hey, there are plenty of women who would love to get their hands on an Army flyboy. Why, I know this waitress at . . .
Okay, I’m veering off course, here. Anyway, there I was, sitting on a park bench and wallowing in misery, when I heard two familiar voices from behind a hibiscus bush. Danny and Evelyn. When I heard the words, “I had a wonderful time last night,” and “too fast,” I forgot about Sandra O’Connell and everything else. Being nosy and proud of it, I began to wonder what happened after their little plane ride over Wakikki. Danny wouldn’t let her finish. Instead, he went on about how he watched the sunrise this morning and that he didn’t care what others thought, and about liking her. Jeez, what the hell happened between those two? And the poor schmuck looked so desperately happy, it was pathetic.
Evelyn caved in, of course. Who wouldn’t after that performance? And so, their little romance began. The rest of us didn’t see much of them during off duty hours. After striking out with Sandra O’Connell so many times – God, I hate admitting that – I met this waitress from the Black Cat Café named Marie Blake. She more than made up for my failure with “youknowwho”. Marie and once came across Danny and Evelyn, on this half-deserted beach, one Saturday afternoon in early November. One look from them and Marie and I got the hint. Danny and Evelyn wanted to be alone. Danny wanted his ladylove to himself that afternoon. And Evelyn – well, she seemed embarrassed to see us. See me. Gee, I wonder why. She had no reason to feel embarrassed. Did she? Realizing that we weren’t wanted, Marie and I left and found our own private spot.
Danny and I never spoke about what happened that day. I guess we both felt too embarrassed. Especially since I never bothered to hide how I felt about him dating Evelyn. Besides, other events began to occupy our thoughts. For one, the peace talks between our government and the Japanese hit a snag. The Army and Navy bigwig placed all military personnel on alert, in case of an attack by Jap fifth columnist saboteurs. Naturally, nothing happened and the talks continued. And Washington cancelled the alert. Then one week later, the shit really hit the fan. And I don’t mean from the Japanese.
Trouble arrived in the form of one Lieutenant Rafe McCawley, back from the dead. Jesus, it was a shock seeing him in our barracks, dressed in his uniform. We were all so happy to see him that we didn’t notice the sour mood on his face. Well, Red and Billy didn’t. But I did. I wondered what brought on his bad mood, until Danny arrived a few minutes later. The look that Rafe gave Danny could have left that poor bastard’s body decomposing six feet under ground.
Somehow, Rafe must have found about Danny and Evelyn. Danny tried to talk with Rafe, but no dice. Rafe kept ignoring him.
Since Rafe appeared out of nowhere, he had no quarters assigned to him. Billy and I led him to a little motor court not far from the base. Rafe didn’t talk much. Very unusual for a guy with a motor mouth like his. We also invited him for a little celebration at Hula-La bar. He wasn’t in the mood and asked if we could postpone at least until tomorrow night. Billy and I agreed and left. On our way back to the barracks, Billy wondered out loud if the war had done something to Rafe. I told him, yeah. Because of the war, he had lost his girl to Danny. Being one of the idiots who pushed Danny into going after Evelyn, Billy didn’t take my remark very well.
I had planned to spend the following day with a ride around Oahu with Marie. Remembering that Rafe was alone in his hotel room, I asked her if it would be okay to invite him. She didn’t mind and Rafe seemed glad to join us. It was a different man who rode with Marie and me that day. I swear, Rafe couldn’t stop talking. And he talked about everything – well, almost. He talked about his home and parents in Tennessee, his childhood, England and even the girls he had dated. But not once did the subject of Danny or Evelyn ever cross his lips.
Marie had to work that evening. Which meant I was able to join the others to celebrate Rafe’s return at the Hula-La bar. The place was really jumping that night. No big surprise, considering it was Saturday night. The entire squad was there – including Danny.
Red got really excited . . . and drunk. Like the rest of us, he wanted to know what it was like fighting the Krauts in Europe. So Rafe told us about the R.A.F. and the German air force. He also told us how he got shot down and how members of the French Underground found him and nursed him back to health before sending him back to England. Thank God that Rafe seemed occupied, because for a while, it seemed that he had forgotten Danny. That is until Walker arrived. The moment he entered the bar, I could feel the hostility pouring out of Rafe.
So naturally, our luck didn’t hold forever. Soon, Rafe began talking about tactics that include shooting from behind. Yeah, he was also talking about Danny. Things were starting to get really uncomfortable, but Gooz saved the day – somewhat – by offering Rafe his shirt. But it didn’t last, because Danny had to talk to Rafe. The damn idiot could not see that his timing – as usual – was off. Danny practically begged Rafe to understand what happened between him and Evelyn. Yeah, right. Like that was gonna happen. And sure enough, it wasn’t long before a fight broke out between the two. Which led to a major brawl in the bar.
The MPs and the Navy’s shore patrol soon arrived to break up the fight. I don’t know what happened to Danny and Rafe. But Red, Billy, Joe, Gooz and me hightailed it out of the bar before we could get arrested. We all headed for the beach and scattered. After the military police left, we returned to the Hula-La. The place was a wreck and there seemed to be no use in hanging around.
Red wanted to know what happened to Rafe and Danny. Gooz speculated that the MPs caught them. But Joe told us that he saw them take off in Danny’s Oldsmobile. “Probably to talk about that nurse,” he added. That was when I told them that the whole mess was their fault. For encouraging Danny to run after Evelyn. Except for Gooz, everyone protested, claiming they had no idea that Rafe would return from the dead. “Even if he had remained dead,” I continued, “it would have been a mistake. You don’t go after your dead buddy’s girl. Especially if your buddy had only been dead for three months! What the hell were you all thinking, giving him stupid advice like that?”
The boys all grumbled, claiming they had thought the idea of Danny and Evelyn was not so bad. But I could tell they were beginning to think otherwise. Gooz, however, suggested that Evelyn might have fallen in love with Danny. I shot down that idea the moment it came out of his mouth. I remembered that moment in the park. In love, my foot! Even a blind man could see that although she obviously had a lot of affection for Danny, love wasn’t it. In love with Danny. Yeah right!
By the time we returned to the barracks, I was dead on my feet. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep. It’s funny. One day we were all recovering from Rafe’s sudden reappearance, and the next day we were at war. Hell, I was barely awake when I heard planes flying over the barracks. My first thought – those damn Navy flyboys were buzzing us again. Goddamn Navy jocks! I tried to return to sleep, but I couldn’t. Not with Red sounding like a stalled engine. Dammit, couldn’t he just shut the hell up and let a man sleep?
Then two words finally tore out of Red’s mouth and woke me up. “The Japs!” That and the bullets that were whizzing over us. After that, I was wide awake and ducking under my bunk. What had happened? Well, it seemed the peace talks between the Japanese government and ours had fallen apart. Which led the Japanese Navy to attack our military bases, here in Hawaii. We were at war. Rafe and Danny soon arrived in the latter’s Oldsmobile. Poor Billy got blown to bits because he wouldn’t get away from that delayed bomb. And when Danny drove us and some photographer all the way to Wheeler Field, Jap planes followed us all the way. Shooting bullets at us, of course.
There were planes, and our mechanic, Earl, waiting for us at the airfield. But we couldn’t get near a plane thanks to the Japs. And although Danny was our squad leader, we ended up following Rafe’s lead. Hell, he was the only one with combat experience. In the end, only Rafe and Danny managed to get in the air. Poor Joe was killed before he could take off. Rafe and Danny ended up shooting down seven Jap planes, while Earl managed to shoot down one from the tower.
All in all, it was quite a shitty day. The Japanese Navy came close to destroying the Navy’s entire Pacific Fleet. Came close. If they had made a third strike and destroyed the aircraft carriers, they would have succeeded. Many of our own planes had been destroyed. And I heard that the Japs also struck the Philippines and Guam. The next day, Congress declared war on Japan.
Both Billy and Joe were dead. And Red’s fiancé, Betty, had been killed when the Japs struck the Navy hospital at Pearl. Poor Red. I don’t think he has been the same, since. As for Rafe, Danny and Evelyn, they all survived. Which meant they would have to settle the mess between them, sooner or later. They certainly hadn’t, two days later, when we all went to say good-bye to Billy, Joe and Betty. Both men kept their distance from Evelyn.
Not long after the memorial service, the remaining pilots in our squad received new orders. We were to report to our old commanding officer from Mitchell Field, Colonel Doolittle. He was now in California with a new mission for us. It seemed someone back in Washington had thought up a way to strike back at the Japs. It was a plan that Army pilots would participate in. We didn’t know the particulars, but considering that that the Japanese were in the process of taking over the Pacific area, I had the awful feeling we were about to take part in a suicide mission. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to get back at them for Pearl Harbor. But I had a bad feeling about all this. A very bad feeling. I told Marie that I was leaving. She didn’t exactly feel easy about the whole matter, herself.
Several days later, an Army transport plane awaited at Wheeler Field, to take us to California. On that day, I finally learned what happened between Rafe, Danny and Evelyn. She was there, dressed in black for Betty. Gooz, Red and the rest of us boarded the plane. Only Rafe and Danny remained outside. Rafe barely acknowledged Evelyn’s presence. She did the same. Instead, it was Danny that she talked to, while Rafe headed for the plane.
Then she kissed Danny good-bye. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Had I been wrong all this time? Had the others been right? That Evelyn had fallen in love with Danny? I almost believed it myself, until I saw something very curious. While she was saying good-bye to Danny, Evelyn shot a quick glance at Rafe. It was so quick. One would barely notice it. But I did. I also noticed that look expressed her true feelings. She was still in love with Rafe.
I didn’t get it. If she was stil in love with Rafe, what was with the big production number with Danny? What’s with the public kiss? And why didn’t Rafe put up a fight? I thought long and hard about this, while the plane headed down the airstrip. Danny and Evelyn had dated for about two months. I recall the ecstatic look on Danny’s face after his little plane ride with Evelyn. I remembered Evelyn’s comments in that Honolulu park about moving too fast. I was still stunned on how Rafe gave her up so fast. And that look she gave him, while saying good-bye to Danny.
Then it hit me. It finally hit me as the plane lifted into the sky. Evelyn was pregnant with Danny’s baby. How else could one explain why she would choose Danny and not Rafe? Sometime between that plane ride and a month before Rafe’s return, Walker had knocked her up. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! What a goddamn mess! That is, if my suspicions were true. And I usually have pretty good instincts.
As our plane flew east over the Hawaiian Islands, I glanced over at both Rafe and Danny. They sat next to each other. Interesting. Danny looked happy, but anxious. And Rafe? Hell, he mainly kept his eyes glued to the window. I got the feeling that he didn’t want to talk to or acknowledge anyone. Especially Danny.
So there we were, a handful of Army pilots flying toward California to train for some dangerous mission against the Japs. If Danny survived, he would return to Evelyn and probably marry her. But I couldn’t help but feel if that happened, both of them would be making an even bigger mistake than the one they did back in October. I could be wrong. I hope I was wrong. But I rarely am. I guess I would have to wait and see after we return from this mission. That is, if we return.
POSTCRIPT: Lieutenant Anthony Fusco and Captain Daniel Walker were killed in action on April 18, 1942; following a bombing mission over the Empire of Japan.