bUnforeseen- Chapter 6
Disclaimer- Foyle's War is the brilliant creation of Anthony Horowitz and the wonderful actors that make his work come alive. I own nothing but a deep affection for the show and the original characters created for this story.
Rachel trembled, shaking the table so hard that Foyle had to grab their whiskey glasses with his free hand to keep them from crashing to the floor. A miserable feeling wormed its way downward to the pit of his stomach. He'd only intended to comfort her, but he began to wonder if he'd done the right thing in holding her hand.
"Rachel, I won't let go until you tell me to." It sounded like the declaration of a lovesick schoolboy. He was immediately consumed with regret. Had he lost all common sense and restraint when he crossed the Atlantic and landed in America? What an old fool he'd become! Cautiously he asked, "Rachel is something wrong? Are you alright?"
"Nothing's wrong. I'm alright." What a lie! She mentally berated her body for betraying her. How did he know her and yet not know her?
Rachel finished off the whiskey remaining in her glass with one gulp that temporarily took her breath away. She lied again, telling him, "Just tired, that's all. Anyway, there's not much more to tell. It's ok if you want to leave now."
Slowly he rose from his chair, grabbed his coat and hat and headed to the door. Of all people, Christopher Foyle was a master in keeping his past and its sorrows buried deep within his heart and mind. Even though he had no right to insist she continue, there was no doubt that her story was incomplete.
The moment before his fingertips made contact with door knob, he pivoted on his right foot to face her. "Rachel, you're lying. You're far from alright."
Damn the man! Would he insist she tell him more or would he be the gentleman she believed him to be and leave as she'd asked? Rachel clutched the empty whiskey glass in her right hand, deciding whether to throw it at him or the wall. What right did he have to know more than she'd already told him?
He approached the table, pausing long enough to toss his hat and coat on the foot of the bed, and gently pried the glass from her hand. "There's something you haven't told me, isn't there?"
Oh God! Why couldn't he just accept that she'd wasn't willing to say anything else about her Pearl Harbor experience? She wanted him to leave her alone. There was pain that she didn't want to relive. "We're strangers to each other. Why should you even care? You're not obligated to stay. I've managed the last five years not talking about what happened in December 1941. My own parents don't know that… Jimmy and I … that…" She knew there was no escape from painful memories, whether she shared them with Foyle or kept them buried deep within. "You're right sir. I lied to you. There's more to tell and keeping it in won't change what happened."
December 8, 1941 Island of Oahu, Hawaii Territory
Rachel's head throbbed and every inch of her body ached as she shuffled into the living room. Everyone occupying the house that morning was crowded around the radio waiting to hear President Roosevelt address a joint session of Congress. Seeing no place to sit, she perched on the edge of Dr. Long's chair. He glanced at her and shook his head in disapproval. She shrugged, making it plain that she had no intention of returning to bed. Instead, she looked over his shoulder, trying to read the headlines of the newspaper lying on his lap. It was the December 8th edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The headline reading "War declared on Japan by US" didn't interest her as much as the article "3,000 casualties are indicated on Oahu" and the list of dead and injured next to it.
"Young lady, didn't your mama tell you reading over someone's shoulder was rude?" Isaiah folded the newspaper and stuffed it under his arm. She'd learn her Jimmy's fate all too soon.
On the radio the Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn of Texas, announced, "Senators and Representatives, I have the distinguished honor of presenting the President of the United States."
President Roosevelt began his speech, "Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.
I ask that Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire."
Someone switched off the radio and the crowd surrounding it was no longer silent. Every other sentence contained "we're in it now" or "it was just a matter of time". The awful reality of war was more than she could bear and all she wanted right then was to retreat to the bedroom. As she stood up a wave of dizziness caught her by surprise. She clutched at Dr. Long's arm and whispered, "Dr. Long, I don't feel so good."
He rose from the chair and led her out of the living room, "Well, I'm not surprised. You've no business being out of bed… and… you reek of whiskey! My God girl, I didn't expect you to drink all of it… just enough to help you sleep!"
"Dr. Long, I'm sorry. All I was trying to do was stop hurting… and…"
"Yes sir. How did you know?"
"I've tried it myself, doesn't work. Once the booze is gone, reality comes hammering down on you with a vengeance. It's better to accept whatever's happened and not drown yourself in a bottle."
Rachel braced her head against the wall in an attempt to keep the room from spinning and responded with, "So I'm supposed to accept that my fiancé, who is also the father of the child inside me, is probably dead… And that's o.k.?"
The pregnancy news caught Dr. Long off guard for half a beat. He exhaled a long sigh before telling her, "No Rachel, it's not O.K.…It's not o.k. that your fiancé might be dead… that you're expecting a baby who might grow up without a father and… the Japs bombed the hell out of us yesterday morning! I'm just saying this stuff happened and nothing's ever going to be the way it was before…and we can't change that."
"So that's it? Just accept all the awful things thrown our way? I just can't…" Rachel doubled over as a sudden cramp seized her lower abdomen. "Oh God! Feels like someone just twisted my insides." Another cramp accompanied with a sticky wetness on her upper thighs cut short anything else she was going to say. Instead, she rushed to the house's only bathroom and was grateful to find it unoccupied.
Dr. Long was out of his depth. Sewing up a hand was one thing, but the trouble she was having at that moment was something else… some female trouble was his guess. As an only child, motherless since he was five and a lifelong bachelor he had no frame of reference for the inner workings of the human female. He bellowed in the direction of the living room, "Mrs. Simpson and Mrs. Pula, come here quick!"
Both women immediately responded to his summons and before he could take flight from the scene Mrs. Pula ordered, "Go see to my children while Adelaide and I look after Rachel."
"Now look woman, I'm not a danged babysitter!"
Adelaide Simpson gave him a mighty shove and barked, "Well you are now, old man!"
As he stomped away, muttering curses under his breath, Leilani Pula added, "And don't be cursing in front of my kids!"
Dr. Long shot her the evil eye and walked away.
Once he was out of earshot, Rachel opened the bathroom door to let the women in. The young woman's pale face and a small, red puddle marring the white tile floor alarmed Leilani. She softly asked, "Sweetie, what's happening…I mean… the blood… do you bleed heavy when it's that time of the month?"
"No ma'am…I mean that it's not that… I'm expecting…."
Adelaide brushed a curl away from Rachel's face and stroked her cheek. "Are you sure? Have you seen a doctor? Did… ah… does Jimmy know?"
"Yes, yes he does… he did..." Now someone besides Uncle Frank knew her secret and one of the reasons she and Jimmy had planned to marry so quickly. Rachel's body shook as she succumbed to the overwhelming fear that there would be no wedding because she felt certain that he'd been snatched away from her in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Now it seemed that the child she carried would be taken from her, too. Everything and everyone Rachel wanted at that moment- Jimmy and her uncle were beyond reach. "Am I going to lose my baby?"
The question tore at Leilani's heart as she pulled the distraught young woman into her arms. "Oh child, I don't know for sure. It could be, but I'm not a doctor. All we can do is wait and see."
December 9, 1941 Queen's Hospital, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii Territory
After 48 hours of assisting the medical staff of Queen's Hospital with a constant stream of wounded and dying servicemen and civilians, the Reverend Frank Broussard believed that Hell's anteroom began in the lobby of the Queen's Hospital and stretched out to infinity. He'd hardly had time to breathe, sit or stand still since Sunday morning. Finally able to take a break, he sat on a bench by the hospital entrance and permitted his thoughts to turn to his niece and neighbors. Had they made it inland to a safer place? He could only hope and pray they were alright.
He prayed often and it had always been a source of comfort and strength, but a growing concern for Rachel's safety made it seem ineffectual. If he couldn't pray, he would busy himself with hospital work to crowd out the anxiety that was growing inside him. As he stood up to go back inside, a car pulled up to the hospital entrance. Frank immediately recognized the car as his own but the driver was an elderly man he didn't recognize. Where was Rachel and why was a stranger driving his car?
The devastation he'd seen along the drive from the sugar plantation shook Isaiah Long to the core. It wasn't just the sight of battered and bombed ships in the Harbor that disturbed him. There were so many wounded and dying service personnel that schools and other public buildings had become make shift hospitals. He'd already been turned away from several of them and decided to go to the Queen's Hospital in Honolulu to find medical help for the young woman. Over the course of Monday her blood loss had steadily increased and she'd become quite weak. Never had he felt as helpless as he did that morning after having been turned away from three of those makeshift hospitals. Since the Queen's Hospital was the civilian hospital on Oahu, his hope was that they would be able to take care of her.
As Frank approached the car he saw what looked like a child wrapped in a blood stained blanket on the front seat. Only when he opened the passenger side door did he realize it was his niece, frighteningly pale and barely conscious. Before the driver could say anything or get out of the car, Frank scooped her up into his arms, whispering, "Oh Rachel, what's happened to you?"
She blinked several times and whimpered, "Uncle Frank?"
"Yes sweetheart, it's me."
Rachel buried her face against his chest and threw her right arm over his left shoulder. He caught a glimpse of the stitches on her hand and wondered what had happened to her and who had sewn up the wound?
Seeing the fear and confusion in Frank's eyes prompted Dr. Long to tell him, "I sewed up her hand. Something flying around in the air Sunday morning ripped it open. It was a mighty nasty lookin' wound."
"Are you a doctor Mister…?"
"Name's Isaiah Long and I'm a doctor of sorts… an animal doctor. I think her hand will heal alright, but it's not the reason I brought her here. She needs medical help for another problem." He glanced down at Rachel, swaddled with the blood stained blanket. "And there's not a moment to waste."
"Sure hope that helps her." Isaiah rolled down his shirt sleeve and sat next to Frank on a bench in the hospital lobby.
For the first time in two days Frank let his guard down and pulled the once white clerical collar from his neck, looking down at his hands for a moment. He looked up at the man seated beside him, struggling for the right words to say. "D…don't know what to say…how to thank you…my late wife and I never had children and Rachel…is like a daughter to me."
"Frank, I'm sure glad I have O negative blood. I can donate to anyone, no matter their blood type. Someone up there is looking out for your niece."
"Yes…if only it was that simple though. The transfusion will help her with the blood loss, but nothing can change what's happened to her. From what I've gleaned from the newspaper and radio reports, it's most likely that Jimmy died when the Arizona was bombed. As for the baby…well you know what the doctor told us…she'll lose it. Don't know how to help her now."
Isaiah put a comforting hand on Frank's shoulder as he told him, "Never had a wife or a daughter so my advice may not be worth much but here goes- Take her home, look after the girl and love her. Her body will heal soon but it will take her heart a lot longer."
June 1, 1942
For six months Frank had witnessed Rachel move through the days like an automaton. She performed her tasks at home and church with a minimal amount of effort and communication. The letters her parents sent her were left unanswered. He had written to them in his niece's stead, making excuses that skirted the thin edge of truth. The only thing she'd been adamant about was that they never know of her pregnancy and miscarriage, unlike Jimmy's death, which was known to everyone as soon as a list of those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor had been published. He couldn't understand why she wouldn't share her sorrow over the lost child with her parents.
The telegram his brother in law sent that day prodded him to take action and push his niece to respond to her parents. "Rachel, you have to go home. Your folks need you."
As had become her daily ritual, Rachel stood at the manse's living room window gazing out to the harbor. Without turning to face her uncle, she asked, "Why? Don't you want me here anymore?"
"Rachel, look at me."
She complied with his request and slowly turned to face him, the anger and confusion in her eyes revealing a spark of life he'd not seen for a long time. "Uncle Frank, am I becoming a burden to you? Maybe, I'm not pulling my weight around here like I should but that's no reason to kick me out!"
He shook his head and sighed, "No, no my dear child. You're not a burden. I love you dearly. Don't want you to leave, but didn't you hear me say your parents need you?"
He handed her the telegram. As she read it the anger he'd seen in the emerald depths of her eyes changed to fear. "I don't understand. Daddy says Mama is not well but he doesn't say what's wrong with her."
Even though George had not given any details about his wife's illness, Frank was sure he knew what was wrong. He'd witnessed Marguerite's illness a few years before Rachel was born. It had taken a long time for her to recover. If his niece didn't know about it, he didn't feel it was his place to tell her. She had to return to Charleston to find out. "Rachel, some things just can't be explained in a telegram."
"I've got to home to find out." She buried face against her uncle's chest and cried.
Frank Broussard gently patted her back and murmured, "Yes, you do."
That was enough! No matter how much time passed, the story was not going to change and elaborating on the details only brought fresh pain. She hurriedly finished with "I returned to Charleston and stayed there until a few days ago."
A quick glance out her hotel room window revealed that it was late afternoon. "My God… Mr. Foyle, it's late! Surely you didn't come to the States to be "assaulted" by a strange young woman and hear her sad story. You deserve a medal for kindness above and beyond the call of a gentleman!"
He blinked and his lips formed a half smile. "Wull….wouldn't say you assaulted me… just an accident."
"This man deserves to be loved… deeply… Was there a woman in his life who loved him in that way?" The thought took Rachel by surprise. She knew so little about Christopher Foyle. How could she come to such a conclusion in the 48 hours they'd been together? Nothing in her life had prepared her for this man!
A sudden flush of embarrassment colored her face. If he could read her mind, he would know the silly romantic thoughts that had materialized there. "Oh… sorry, Sir. My mind wandered for a moment. Guess I really am tired now."
"Need to rest?"
"Yes sir, I believe I do. I'm exhausted, body and spirit."
He rose from his seat, grabbed his coat and hat. Knowing the course of his trip to America was now irreparably altered, he wondered how meeting Rachel Roberts would affect his pursuit in bringing Howard Paige to justice. She wasn't the only one who needed rest!
As he rose to leave, Foyle asked her, "Dinner in a hour?"
"Yes, sir. That's sounds fine."
"Let me know when you're ready."
"Rest well, Rachel."
Foyle exited the room. As the door clicked shut, Rachel wasn't sure she'd rest at all. All her being had been stirred up and she didn't know how to settle down. It wasn't just reliving the events of Pearl Harbor; it was this man who'd suddenly come into her life. Was she falling for him? What a foolish notion!
Historical note- The famous "Infamy" speech was delivered to a joint session (the House of Representatives and the Senate) of Congress by President Franklin Roosevelt on December 8, 1941- just one day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Within an hour of the speech a formal declaration of war against Japan was passed by the Congress, formally bringing the United States into the Second World War.
Thanks for reading. Reviews are greatly appreciated!