Friend and Foe

Friend and Foe

by David G. Weaver


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Friend and Foe by David G. Weaver

In the mid-1930s, high-schooler Joe Sullivan, slightly crippled by a childhood accident and therefore ineligible for enlistment in the US Armed forces feels his future is very dim. Befriended by a Japanese maritime radio officer, Takeo Okada, Joe decides to become a ship's radioman. After obtaining an amateur radio operator's license and a commercial op's certificate, Joe maintains radio contact with his Japanese benefactor until he hears from another Japanese amateur that Takeo was lost in a ship wreck. Applying for a shipboard radio job just before his 18th birthday, Joe meets and is seduced by Kate Nelson, the company president's secretary. He becomes involved in a continuing feud with "Bull" Taylor, the ship's first mate. He learns that both his parents are killed in an auto accident. Joe, despondent over the loss of Takeo and his parents turns too whiskey and women. In a stop-over in Hawaii he meets and falls in love with a nisei, Myoshi. After a short-lived affair, Joe departs Hawaii. When his ship strikes a Japanese mine near Makin Island, Joe is the sole survivor. Rescued by native fishermen he is taken to a hospital on a French controlled island. Regaining his health, he is taken to Australia where he is induced by the officer in charge of coast watchers to serve a half-year stint on an isolated island. After reporting enemy ship movement during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Joe is unnerved when he sees a one- armed man put ashore on the opposite end of the island by Japanese navy men. He later discovers that the one armed man is his old friend. Takeo had lost an arm when attacked by sharks, and was no longer an asset to the IJN as a fighting man. The two renew their old friendship even though their countries are at war - friend and foe. They enjoy their island life even though alarmed by several incidents that threatened discovery. When the time comes for Joe to be relieved of his duty, he sadly leaves his friend alone on the island.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477298459
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 01/02/2013
Pages: 390
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.87(d)

Read an Excerpt

Friend and Foe

By David G. Weaver


Copyright © 2013 David G. Weaver
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4772-9845-9

Chapter One

On the big wooden-decked wharf, Joe Sullivan leaned his lanky body against the sun-warmed concrete facing of the firebreak between Headhouses 9 and 10. He looked up at the sparkling clean hull and superstructure of the Japanese motor ship, Kuri Maru, in admiration. The shiny black shell contrasted starkly with the snowy whiteness of the deckhouses and the orange-yellow of the masts, kingposts and booms. Every inch of the ship appeared spotless, scrupulously immaculate. Boy! Joe thought, I'd sure like to get the chance to sail on a beautiful baby like that. Joe often dreamed of traveling, being out on his own, seeing distant, romantic places, doing wonderful things.

Out on the broad deck of the pier, shouting, cursing, sweating negro stevedores scampered about, tugging awkward heaps of rusty scrap iron into cargo slings to be hoisted aboard ship and stored in its bowels. From his vantage point Joe watched as the cargo booms swung out over the wharf, empty slings dangling down to waiting men. One of the muscular black longshoremen would grab the steel loop, release it from the hook on the cargo cable, and allow it to fall to the wooden decking. Then, quickly, other men would grab the hook and, grunting and straining, pull it over to a readied load of junk steel and slip the sling-cable loop over the hook. Then the men would dash away from the clanking, swaying-pendulum danger, as the wench operator aboard the ship shifted his levers and sent the clutch of cargo upward to hurtle over the rail and disappear into the gaping maw of the cargo hold. As soon as the load was lifted, the men on the pier scurried about readying another load.

Above the cacophony of nagging, shouting, and cursing, Joe heard the piercing screams of seagulls. Looking toward the stern of the ship, he could see a huddle of Japanese sailors along the railing, tossing bits of food into the air for the excited birds to catch and gulp down. That's pretty nice of those guys, Joe thought, feeding the gulls like that. Those Jap fellows aren't as bad as the news people make them out to be. They sure aren't anything like the ones I've seen in the picture magazines like Life and Look, and in the movie newsreels. Everybody heard tales about how vicious most Oriental people were. They were told that cruel, heartless Chinese parents murdered their infant daughters, and they heard about such things as the terrible Chinese water torture and the ten-thousand-cuts punishment. But, right here in front of his eyes, Joe saw a group of Japanese seamen sharing their food with the birds and acting as if they were thoroughly enjoying it. He turned his attention back to the activity on the wharf.

A sudden increase in the volume of screeching caused Joe to turn again and take another look at the cluster of men on the after deck of the Kuri Maru. Two of those men were making synchronous tossing motions; wheeling above their heads chunks of meat tied to the ends of string, as the flock of excited gulls hovered above on frantically beating pinions, churning and screaming as if pleading for the food.

Two walnut size chunks of meat soared upward simultaneously and several seagulls dove upon the loot, slashing at each other in their eagerness to snatch the bits of food out of the air. Almost at once the tethered hunks of meat were caught in midair and disappeared down identical gullets. The two triumphant birds attempted to rise. There was a moment of utter confusion in the flock of gyrating, squawking gulls, and then the pair that had snared the food fell awkwardly into the river. The struggling birds rose valiantly from the water only to flop back down again as the twelve feet long string tether between them grew taut, jerking against the inner surfaces of their craws, sending the bewildered birds floundering downward again and again into the foamy water.

Up on the ship's deck, the excited sailors whooped and laughed as they danced about in merriment, pointing and gesturing at the stricken birds struggling to lift themselves into the air on thrashing, frightened wings. Joe stared up at the group of seamen in utter disbelief. A moment earlier he had considered them to be beneficent, generous, caring nature-lovers. Now, as he witnessed their malicious barbarism, he felt sick at his stomach. His face clouded with anger, disgust and frustration.

A small man, clad in the white uniform of a ship's officer, raced out of the door at the rear of the deckhouse and began to loudly berate the assembly of sailors. Joe, of course, was unable to understand the Japanese tirade, but the officer's gestures made it quite clear that he was chastising the crewmen. The seamen edged away, cringing, and sulked off like whipped puppies. But the damage was already done and there was little anyone could do for the tied-together seagulls. Either they would eventually break the string or they would die of starvation.

The teenage boy continued to stare up at the stern deck of the motor ship. The man in the white uniform made his way to the railing and looked down. He raised both hands above his shoulders in a gesture of nonchalance or, possibly, helplessness. Then he turned and slowly made his way back to the door of the deckhouse. Joe took the man's gesture as meaning, "So what?" The man's action intensified the boy's anger. "Damn stinkin' Japs," he muttered aloud. "They really are like the magazines and movies say. Dirty, stinkin' yellow bellies."

Feeling the bile rising in his belly and angry at the villainous acts of the Japanese sailors, Joe turned away from the activities on the pier and headed for home with dragging steps.

* * *

Joseph Aloysius Sullivan was almost sixteen. He was tall for his age and rather slender—thin, skinny. His dark brown hair was a little too long, but it was summer time, school vacation time. No school for another two months. Besides, haircuts cost 35 cents and that was money he'd rather spend on something else. His face and arms were suntanned to a nut brown. There was a slight gap between his upper front teeth and he had long ago learned to whistle through that gap, but Joe didn't feel like whistling now. Little beads of perspiration dripped from the hairs at the back of his neck, making those hairs turn up in tiny ducktails just above the collar of his khaki shirt. Only a slight limp marred the picture of exuberant, youthful, good health.

That little limp didn't mean much to Joe. He never allowed his mind to dwell on it. It had never been a hindrance in sports, no handicap at all. He played baseball and basketball as well as any of the other guys and he could swim, hike, and row a boat with the best of them, better that most fellows his age. But hardly anybody knew that.

Joe vividly recalled the time last year when 12 year old Harry Lloyd had slipped and fallen off the pier into the swift flowing ebb tide and was being swept perilously near the oyster encrusted pilings that support the wharf. Herbie, Harry's older brother, transfixed with fear and indecision, stood and watched his kid brother being carried closer and closer to the razor sharp shells and the undertow caused by the venturi effect between the pilings. Without hesitation, Joe had kicked off his sneakers, peeled off his shirt and trousers and dived into the raging river. Swimming strongly, he raced to the struggling youngster, grabbed Harry's shirt and turned toward the shore. With his strong side stroke, Joe fought the swift current and pulled the boy to the beach where the still shock-ridden Herbie had regained enough composure to help haul his brother from the water.

No one ever heard about that rescue. Herbie and Harry were afraid to tell their parents about the narrow escape since they were forbidden to be on the pier without adult supervision. So they swore Joe to secrecy and no one ever learned anything about his act of heroism. Only the three youngsters knew of Joe's quick reaction to the emergency and his strength under stress. None of them would ever tell.

* * *

As he strode purposefully along the red gravel road, Joe looked neither right nor left. His hazel brown eyes were riveted straight ahead. There was no reason for him to look to the sides; he knew every inch of the place by heart. He'd been living there at the Port Terminal ever since 1927 and he had covered every square foot of the place more than once during those eight years.

John Sullivan, Joe's father, was responsible for all outside operations and maintenance at the big plant. It fell to him to insure that visiting ships were properly serviced with electrical power and fresh water since they were unable to provide those vital elements while tied up at the pier. He was also in charge of the men who looked after the many miles of railroad tracks and the aging wooden platforms and the floors of the warehouses in the extensive complex built by the US Army as a port of embarkation during the Great War—WW I.

Joe stalked, face down, along the pebbled road toward the two-story gray house on the hill a quarter mile ahead, he was besieged by anger, loneliness, and depression. The balmy breeze wafting in from the southeast did little to cheer him. It only dried the sweat on his forehead. The half-moon stains at the armpits of his khaki shirt attested to the humidity of that late June day. Over to his right, across a weed-choked field, was a long, 20 feet high, pile of rusting scrap metal. Ordinarily that dull mass of junk would have presented an invitation as it loomed above the coarse brush of the field. It usually was a tempting lure, one he always found difficult to resist. But not today. This time Joe, seething from the experience on the wharf, ignored the siren call.

Ordinarily on a pleasant day like this, Joe, Herbie and Harry would be over there at that junk pile, searching for treasure. There were lots of great things to be discovered in that heap of discarded metal; things like hoops, bearings, Model-T Ford magneto magnets, plow shears, rakes, hoes, shovels, and other pieces of fabulous wealth. Ordinarily he'd be over there, hunting. But not today. Today he was alone with his thoughts. Herbie and Harry were not around.

Herbie, recently graduated from high school, had enlisted in the Army with his parents' consent. It was a "minority enlistment" so the elder Lloyds had to sign the papers. Now Harry and Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd were in the city downstream. They had accompanied Herbert to the Union Railroad Depot. Joe wasn't a part of the family, but he would have liked to have gone with them to see Herbie off. Instead, he was left there all alone.

Joe raised his eyes and glanced over at the rusty pile. All too soon, he knew that wonderful treasure trove of discarded steel would be gone, scooped up by powerful cranes, carted off to the waterfront, and dumped unceremoniously into the gaping cargo holds of foreign merchant ships. The Japanese seemed to be the principal purchasers. They appeared to be buying up all the scrap metal they could. They said they had to have it in their mills to produce new materials since the home islands could not provide iron ore. So, before long there would be no more treasure hunts, no more wonderful discoveries of rare and intriguing objects.

"Hey, Crip," a caustic voice yelled from the platform to his left. "Whatcha doin', Gimp? Whatcha up ta now, Dummy?"

Joe tried to keep his face forward. He looked at his tormentor out of the corner of his eye and recognized Johnny Driggers, an acerbic fellow who always seemed to take particular delight in teasing him. Driggers was a squat, heavy-set young redneck in his late twenties. At that moment he was walking in a circle, affecting an exaggerated limp and pointing a ridiculing finger at Joe.

"Bin down ta da docks lookin' faw a gal, have ya, lil boy?" Driggers snickered. "Lotsa nice niggah gals down dere. Fine one dat wud take yew on, Limpy?"

"Ain' no gal, black aw white, gonna pull down huh pants faw a dummy like dat," Charlie Doyle put in, as he and the other laborers set aside their tools and joined in the fun.

"Dazz right," Andy Potts added. "Dem gals wants a real man, a real he-man, somebody dat know somethin', not a cripple dummy kid."

"Yah," Driggers hooted, "ain' no gal evah gonna go faw no gimpy halfwit, dat's faw shoah."

They all hee-hawed and cackled, making obscene gestures at the young man on the road. Joe gritted his teeth and stared straight ahead, gulping in great swallows of air. He was no match for those tough men and there was nothing he could do but take the abuse and move on. He increased his pace and hurried toward home, feeling even more depressed than before. Now he was also humiliated. It was always that way. People put him down: classmates teasing, girls calling him hayseed or country boy, workers ridiculing him. No wonder he never had dates or went to parties. He'd much rather be alone than hang around with people like that.

But Joe didn't really want to be a loner. He looked down at his left foot and cursed under his breath. That foot with its missing toes was the cause of all his embarrassment. It was also the reason he'd never be able to enlist in the Army or Navy. Three toes had been amputated from that foot when six-year-old Joe had accidentally crushed it under a slab of concrete while playing at a constriction site. Old Doctor Moore had tried his best to save those toes, but there was very little circulation and gangrene had set in. To save the entire foot—and possibly Joe's life—the medic had reluctantly resorted to the scalpel.

With military service out of the question, Joe looked forward to a bleak future. In that depression year 1935, the only career opportunity readily available to untrained youth was the Army or Navy. That maimed foot negated the possibility of enlistment for Joe. What could he do after graduating high school? What was he qualified for? Cut grass? Gather firewood? Dig ditches? Pick up trash? There was little else he could do. The thought of being an angry, disgruntled common laborer like Johnny Driggers upset Joe even more than the harassment he received from schoolmates and neighbors.

Joe certainly didn't want to grow up to be like Johnny, but it began to look like he would. There was no local vocational school. Very few jobs were available to unskilled people. Most folks took one look at Joe with that little limp and immediately assumed he was severely handicapped. At the very least those people acted as if he were somewhat retarded. Why? Was it because he didn't talk a lot? Was it because he was quiet most of the time when adults were around? They didn't know him. They never asked any questions that would show he was really quite smart. No, they'd tell him to do something then explain in detail how it was to be done, and then, after the task was completed, come back and check it over as if he were some dumb little kid who couldn't do anything right. No one, not even his own parents, ever seemed to consider his ideas, his thoughts, his feelings, his abilities, or his intelligence.

Chapter Two

John Sullivan came home half an hour early that afternoon. As he entered the screened-in porch of the two-story house on the hill, he shouted to his wife. "Honey! Grace! Where are you? Come a-runnin', gal. We're having company for supper."

Appearing in the open doorway, wiping her hands in her apron, Grace Sullivan faced her husband, her face set grimly. "Oh, John," she began, "you always do this to me! It's lucky we're having chicken for dinner. I sure hope there'll be enough, else I'll be mighty embarrassed. I do wish you'd let me know things in advance, John." She paused, stared angrily at her husband for a long moment, then stomped her foot peevishly. "Just who is this guest you've invited anyway?"

"Oh, he's the radio officer on that Jap ship," John explained. "Name is Mister Oki. I only met him this mornin'. Saw him again this afternoon an' we got to talkin'. You see, Gracie, he's the only one on that ship that speaks English. Well, you know how it is, one thing led to another and ...."

"Well," Grace interrupted, cutting him off in mid-sentence, "why in the world did you have to invite him to supper tonight? Why not tomorrow?"

"I don't rightly know, honey," John said, making a wry face at his wife. "We got to talkin' about our families an' such, an' he said somethin' about bein' lonely for his parents, and his home, an' such. Well, next thing ya know, I was askin' him if he'd like a nice home-cooked meal."


Excerpted from Friend and Foe by David G. Weaver Copyright © 2013 by David G. Weaver. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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