Tuesday, January 1, 2013
"The Best Man" (PG) - 1/2
Some time ago, I had come up with this idea for an Alternate Universe story for the Disney movie, "PEARL HARBOR". I began to wonder what would have happened if Josh Harnett's character, Danny Walker, had survived Doolittle's Raid on Tokyo. This is what I had came up with:
"THE BEST MAN"
FEEDBACK: Please feel free to send a little feedback. Please, no flames.
SUMMARY: Various reflections on the best man's reaction to a wartime wedding; Alternate Universe, set about six weeks after the Tokyo raid.
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.
PART ONE – RED
Another beautiful day in Honolulu, Hawaii. Or so Red Winkle told himself. To be honest, the weather was the last thing on his mind. Instead, he harbored on the upcoming wedding between two close friends. And how that wedding would affect the best man.
Red glanced at the figure on the bunk. A tall man with dark-brown hair groaned out loud, before sliding - very reluctantly - out of bed. Red stretched his lips into a grin and cried out cheerfully, "Hey sleepyhead! I see you finally got up!"
Rafe McCawley stared at Red with bleary eyes. Apparently, he had not recovered from last night's bachelor party at the Hula-La Bar. Not surprising, since he practically drank everyone else under the table. "What time is it?" he mumbled in his Tennessee accent.
"Oh eight forty-five," Red answered crisply. Which pleased him. He had only stuttered one word in seven months. Not since he had proposed to . . . The red-haired Army pilot immediately squelched all thoughts of a certain blond Navy nurse. Or that disasterous day in early December. After taking a deep breath, Red continued, "Everyone else is up and having chow in the Officers' Mess."
A heavy sigh escaped from Rafe's mouth. "Jesus! Eight forty-five! That means I have . . ."
"You have at least a little over two hours to get showered, dressed, fed and over to the chapel. Don't forget that the ceremony starts at 011:00."
"Yeah, the ceremony." Rafe's voice sounded mournful. Quite a contrast from the happy-go-lucky soul who had been the life of the party, last night. Once more, he sighed. Red suspected that a lot more will be heard before the end of the day.
The older pilot grunted, as he struggled to rise from the bed. "Having trouble there, Rafe?" Red frowned at him. "Need any help?"
"No, I uh . . . Maybe . . . maybe I do need help."
Red grabbed Rafe's hand and pulled the latter off the bed. Then the redhead led the other man to the bathroom for a shower. Seconds later, Red heard running water. Red peeked inside. "Say Rafe," he added, "don't you think you ought to get out of your skivvies, first?"
An olive-drab T-shirt flew out of the bathroom and landed on top of Red's head. A pair of boxer shorts followed. Fortunately, Red was able to duck in time. While Rafe showered, an enlisted man appeared in the barrack's doorway with a bundle of clean clothes and polished shoes. "Private Jancek, reporting as ordered, sir!" the latter barked. "With Captain McCawley's uniform!"
"Thank you, Private," Red responded. "Place the bundle on the table near the door." Private Jancek did as he was ordered. Just as he was about to leave, Red added, "By the way, is that jeep ready?"
Jancek replied in a crisp voice, "Yes sir, Lieutenant! Uh, do you need a driver?"
"No, that will be all, Private."
Private Jancek gave Red a salute and left the barracks. Two minutes later, Rafe emerged from the bathroom, wearing nothing but a towel. "What's that?" he asked pointing at the bundle on the table.
"Your clothes. After we got back, last night, I figured you'd need a fresh uniform for today. Especially since you'll be . . ."
Rafe gruffily interrupted, "You don't have to remind me about today. I remember. Thanks for the clothes." He began to remove his towel.
An embarrassed Red quickly glanced away. The last thing he wanted to see was Rafe in his birthday suit. "Um, when you finish dressing, I guess we can join the others in the Officers' Mess. That is, if they're still there. You weren't the only one who got drunk, last night. Poor ole' Gooz must have drunk so much booze . . ."
"Red." Rafe harshly cut into the other man's conversation. "Don't take this wrong, but could you please shut the hell up? You're rambling."
Red's face immediately matched the color of his hair. "S-s-sor-ry ab-b-bout that. I . . ."
"Hey, forget about it, Red. Apology accepted. And I'm sorry for being such a grouch." Several uncomfortable moments followed. Then Rafe added, "Okay, you can turn around."
Which Red did. To his relief, he found Rafe dressed in his formal uniform - khaki, for the summer. Despite the haggard eyes and mussed hair, Rafe still managed to look handsome and tough. Red felt certain that many women will be all over him, now that he was . . .
'Let's not dwell on that, Winkle,' Red mentally castigated himself.
Ever since Rafe's miraculous appearance in Hawaii nearly six months ago, Red has experienced a lot of guilt. Why? Thanks to his advice, Rafe's best friend had decided to pursue Rafe's girl. And now seven months later, Danny Walker and Evelyn Johnson were about to become man and wife. Even worse, Evelyn was pregnant with Danny's child. And if that did not seem bad enough, Red harbored deep suspicions that Evelyn was still in love with Rafe, and not Danny.
Thinking of Rafe, Evelyn and Danny also reminded Red of Betty. His fiancée of nearly two months. In another year, he and Betty would have married inside the chapel at Hickam. The same location for Danny and Evelyn's wedding ceremony. Only the Japanese attack on December 7 had ruined Red's plans of matrimony. As much as he mourned Betty, he thanked God that he would never have to watch her marry another man.
"Hey Red. You okay?" Rafe frowned at the other pilot. "You look as if you're in another world."
Red responded with a weak smile. "Just thinking about the past. Ready to go?"
One last sigh left Rafe's mouth. "I reckon so. Let's go." He strode toward the door, with Red close at his heels.
* * * *
PART TWO – BARBARA
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride. It was a situation in life that Lieutenant Barbara Kurtz has always dreaded and found herself in. Yet, for once, she felt more than happy not to be the bride. At least not for today's wedding. Hell, she felt downright relieved.
Poor Evelyn. Poor Rafe. Poor . . . Well, perhaps not poor Danny. After all, not only did he barely managed to survive Doolittle's suicidal mission over Tokyo, he was also about to marry the woman he loved - namely Evelyn. And become a father in two months. Then again, Danny was also about to marry a woman who was probably not in love with him. Barbara suspected that Evelyn loved Danny, but was not in love. Loving someone and being completely, down-in-your-guts in love were two different matters. At least to Barbara. And she thanked God that she was not about to marry the wrong man for the right reason.
"Barbara!" Sandra O'Connell's voice screeched in the blond woman's ears. Geez! "Are they here, yet?"
Here meant the little white Army chapel at Hickam Field. The bride, along with her attendants, stood inside a small room, adjacent to the chapel. Barbara's fellow attendants, Sandra and Martha Cole, fussed over the bride's wedding gown. And it was beautiful. Evelyn wore a cream-colored gown with puffy short sleeves and a square neckline. It looked elegant and hid her pregnant form very well.
"Will you all leave her alone?" Barbara groused. "She looks fine."
Evelyn heaved a deep sigh. "Barbara's right. I feel fine. And I'm ready to start. Is the . . . groom's party here, yet?"
"I'll check." Barbara left the small room. She found the groom standing in the back of the chapel, surrounded by his friends. However, two seemed to be missing - Red and Rafe.
Barbara cried out to them. "Hey! Why are you all standing around like suspects in a line-up? Evelyn's ready."
Danny, who looked downright handsome in his full khaki uniform, replied that they were waiting for Red. And the best man.
"What? You mean they're not here, yet?" Barbara demanded. Of course she did not blame Rafe if he decided not to show up. What man in his right mind would want to witness the wedding between his best friend and the woman he loved? Barbara had noticed something else. Evelyn did not strike her as radiant bride. Granted, the former nurse happened to be at least seven months pregnant. But still . . .
The sound of a jeep screeching to a halt caught Barbara's attention. Gooz poked his head outside the chapel's door and announced, "The best man is here. And Red."
Barbara heaved a relieved sigh. "Great. Now, the only person that's missing is Doc Hayes. Let us know when he arrives." She returned inside the chamber. "Hey! Rafe and Red are here."
Evelyn stiffened momentarily at the mention of her ex-boyfriend's name. Barbara noticed. Then the bride-to-be asked in a placid voice, "What about Commander Hayes? Has he arrived?"
"Not yet. I asked Gooz to let . . ." Barbara bit off her words when a head poked inside the room. It belonged to Rafe.
The pilot's eyes met the bride's. Electricity crackled in the air. Even a blind person, Barbara decided, would have noticed the chemistry between the former lovers. And Barbara was not blind.
"Hello Rafe," Sandra finally greeted, cutting the tension. "Is there something you want?" Anxiety filled the eyes behind her gold-rimmed glasses.
Rafe continued to stare at Evelyn. Whose face turned pink. Martha coughed slightly, snapping the pilot out of his trance. "Uh, I just came to tell you that Commander Hayes has just arrived. So the wed . . ." He took a deep breath. "The ceremony will probably start in five minutes."
Silent tension filled the air. Martha finally responded. "Thanks. We'll be . . ."
A second figure appeared in the chamber. Relief flooded Barbara's body. It was the nurses' commanding officer, dressed in a khaki naval uniform. Commander Hayes glanced at Evelyn and smiled. "Is everyone ready?" he asked.
Barbara smirked. "Now that you're here, sir." She nodded at Rafe. "You can tell the others that we're ready."
Rafe tore his eyes away from the bride and left. A deep flush colored Evelyn's cheeks. Barbara sighed for the second time this morning. This promised to be a long day.
* * * *
NEXT - Parts Three to Five