[ connie ]

by lt. mac

0600 hrs. August 9th, 1968. Honolulu

The early morning breeze was cool, carrying with it the sweet smell of the bougainvillea blooming outside his window. The distant pounding surf as familiar as his own heart beat thumped a rhythm against the shore.

"Goooood Morning Honolulu!
It's a balmy 82 here in paradise. Could go as high as 95 today. The breezes are blowing and the waves are high. So get out there and hang ten. . .

Short order cook, Milo Halikii opened one eye and snarled at the radio.

Another great day to be out surfing and he was going to be spending it working at the stinking diner. He dove under his pillow as the caffeine wired voice of Rick Waters squawked at him.

. . .This is Rick 'Ride-the-Wave' Waters with you on your drive in this morning. That was Clay Dalton, WYII's very own eye-in-the-sky. Remember to avoid that section of the ocean freeway if you can An overturned truck of pineapples is not a pretty sight. Now back to four in a row starting with a little CCR to keep you rolling."

~The music starts~

~It begins to fade away to be replaced with the high whine of incoming mortar~

"INCOMING!!" roared Anderson shoving Goldman headlong into the tall grass and throwing himself down beside him. Bursts of random gunfire cut through the drizzly morning air.


"Yeah, Sarg?" came back the call.

"Where's it coming from?"

"11 o'clock."

"Saw muzzle flashes at 3 o'clock, Sarg." added Percell's disembodied voice.

"They're going to surround us." said Goldman, chancing a glance through the tall grass.

"We gotta pull back before we're cut off, Lt. And call in some arty, a.s.a.p."

"Trotter, give m . . ." the jittery corporal handed the hand set to him before he finished his sentence.

"Lady Bird. This is Bravo 2-6. Over."

Go ahead, 2-6.

"Taking heavy ground fire at this time. Request artillery."

Negative 2-6. None in the area.

"We are taking heavy fire, Lady Bird! I repeat. We are taking heavy fire. Send in the Arty. A.S.A.P.!!"

Can't promise anything, 2-6.

"We need help here, Damn it!" he screamed into the phone cringing at a closer burst of gunfire.

Checking birds in the area. 2-6. Sit tight.

"Sit tight? Sit tight??!. We are getting our asses shot off here. Get us that artillery!!"

Can have a bird in your LZ in 20 mikes.

"Damn it." he cursed, looking at Anderson who just gave him an 'oh-what-a-surprize shrug.

Do you copy, 2-6?

"Yeah, Thanks. For nothing. Out." he threw down the hand set and belly crawled to Zeke's side.

"We gotta deedee, Lt. They're comin' and they're coming fast. There are too many of them."

"All right, Sargent, spread the word. Get the . . ."

"INCOMING!" hollered Zeke as a second shell whined overhead.

He and Goldman flattened themselves closer to the ground. The shell kicked up clumps of sun baked dirt that rained down on them. A scream stopped as quickly as it started. Zeke and Myron exchanged nervous looks.

"Get 'em moving, Zeke. Taylor! Ruiz! Lay down a line of fire. Go, Sargent! GoGoGo!!" he said shoving the man into motion.

Zeke rolled and sprang to his feet in one fluid motion. He rounded up the men and they sank into the jungle.

"Sir, . . . Lieutenant, sir," Trotter tapped the handset against the Lt.'s helmet,"Ch . ch. chopper." he stuttered and pointed over head when Goldman turned and glared at him, then up at the sky.

"Bravo 2-6 to Huey, go ahead."

Hey, Myron. Blow me some smoke, man. Don't wanna blow your sorry ass back to the world by mistake.

"Funny, McKay. Where the hell are you? We have no visual. Can't hear you either. Over."

I'm hiding. Sneak attack, bro.

"10-4. Red smoke just to my November. Out." He tossed the handset over to Trotter, yanked a smoke canister off his webbing, popped it and tossed it.

"Taylor! Ruiz! Pull back. NOW!! . . . come on, Trotter, let's go."

The chopper came majestically over the ridge to Bravo Company's Sierra and roared over the retreating soldiers, laying down artillery.

:1400 hrs. August 9th, 1968. Honolulu

Milo scraped at the built up gunk on the grill as the WYII signal faded in and out on the little grease covered transistor radio that sat on the order counter that separated his sweltering kitchen from the over-air conditioned diner.

"That was the Supremes with"Baby Love". And this is Rick Waters bringing you all the hits. All the time. Well it looks like there are some great surfing conditions out there today thanks to a tropical depression happening over the Pacific. I've got my board waxed and ready to go, do you . . .?"

Milo groaned and whacked a huge knife through a head of lettuce, cutting it clean through, the two halves wobbling about on the counter. ". . . So why not jump the gun here and go head and name the storm front. . . Okay, listeners. Go to your phones.
Got a contest here for you.
Let's see who picks the right name for the next hurricane. What should they win Dave? A week-end rental of a Catamaran from Carl's Catamaran's of Honolulu. Far out!
Okay, folks. Start calling in those names. You might win the week-end Catamaran. Call 555 - 4839 So, let's get to a great Beach Boys tune right after we pay these bills."

Milo smiled to himself as he crossed to the phone thinking of his girlfriend Connie. Oh, yeah, Connie. The perfect name for a hurricane, he thought, cause that chick could blow.

"That's another mess I've gotten your ass out of Myron. Lucky I was around. They're adding up." teased McKay in his unique way that usually got Goldman's skivies in a snag.

"Oh, you mean flying that bird isn't your JOB? Don't make it sound like you did us this huge favour, McKay." snapped Goldman up into the taller man's face.

"Well then, I guess I'll just do my JOB over some other lieutenant's sorry butt, one who'll be grateful I'm there." answered McKay and walked away. Hurt.

The men of Bravo Company gave Goldman a variety of judging looks as they passed him. He stood his ground but shuffled self consciously. 'shit!' he said under his breath.

"You better kiss and make up with that boy, Lt." said Anderson before sauntering off after the platoon.

"Saw off foot, insert in mouth." mumbled Myron to himself hating the idea of apologizing to Johnny. McKay was going to make this very painful. Myron hung his head and reluctantly headed after McKay.

"Lieutenant Goldman!" called Colonel Brewster, relaxing out of a complicated Tai Chi position and waving the young Lieutenant over.

"Yes sir, Colonel?"

"Before you head into your debriefing, I wanted to give you something."


"You're a good soldier, Myron. You've got a great Company under you."

"Colonel, what . . ?"

"HQ tends to ride you harder than the others cause of you old man. . ."

Goldman stood there with a stupid look on his face not following what Brewster was pontificating on about. Brewster chuckled and patted the lieutenant on the shoulder.

"Myron, you, Lt. McKay and your men have one hour to pack your bags and get on the bus."

Goldman glanced around looking for an interpreter or witness.

"Sir, I . . ." started Goldman.

"Here," Brewster handed him a bundle of papers,"plane tickets. You've got 3 days of R'n'R in Honolulu. . ."

"What?!" snorted Goldman, stunned.

"Enjoy. You all deserve it."

"But. How? I mean . . ." he started babbling again as Brewster turned him around and gave him a shove.

"One hour, Lieutenant. The bus leaves with or without you."

x x x

"Anderson!" he called tripping on the first step and clumsily stumbling through the door into Anderson's quarters.

"Come in." Zeke said flatly trying not to grin as the slamming door hit Goldman in the arse.

"Here. Look. Brewster."

Anderson looked at the Lieutenant, puzzled by the monosybalic delivery and alarmed by the beaming smile. He looked at the papers Myron stuffed into his hand.

"What's this?"

"Tickets." said Goldman, nearly giggling. Anderson stared at him a moment, worried.

"For who? to where, why . . .Honolulu? How?"

"The bus leaves in an hour for the airport."

"Is this legit, Lt?"

"Brewster just handed them to me." answered Goldman, loosing a bit of his grin at Zeke's reaction.

"Colonel Brewster? He's up front ain't he . . ." every suspicious bone in his body was singing.

"I trust him." answered Myron, getting excited again.


"Don't know. But go tell the men. They've got an hour to throw things in a bag and be on the bus."

Anderson shrugged and twitched with excitement as the Lt. tramped to the door.



"There's a ticket here for Lt. McKay."

"Oh, yeah. My kiss and make up gift." grinned Goldman as he stomped out, a noticeable bounce in his step.

x x x

Goldman pulled open his and McKay's shared hootch to find a sullen McKay, in leatherette recliner, thumbing through his Playboy. McKay reached out and cranked the music when he saw Goldman.

"McKay." said Goldman wriggling out of his webbing and letting it clatter to the floor.

McKay lifted the magazine blotting out his view of Myron.

"Johnny, I come baring gifts."

McKay swiveled the chair away ignoring Goldman.

"Okay, then I guess it's your sorry ass that'll be stuck here while I'm in Honolulu for three days of R'n'R with the guys."

The magazine came down and the chair slowly turned around. Myron did a little wiggly-butt dance holding the tickets up in his fingers.

"Honolulu?" McKay was skeptical.

"Yep." answered Goldman fanning himself with their tickets.

"Get outta here!" laughed McKay thinking Goldman was pulling his leg.

"Okay." answered Myron, shrugging and heading for the door.

Johnny leapt from the chair and tackled Myron. The two landed loudly on Goldman's protesting bed. He pinned Myron down and grabbed the tickets then rolled onto his back.

"You're serious!"

"Yep. . ," smiled Goldman, getting up and pulling out a kit bag. ". . damn it," hissed Myron, glancing at his watch,"I better see Darling before I forget."

"Honolulu. . . 3 days . . ." ignoring Goldman, he didn't bother asking why or how. He could already see himself there.

:1500 hrs. August 9th, 1968. Honolulu

A strong and steady afternoon breeze blew through Moe's hack. Good thing, he thought, air out the rest of the faint odor of vomit he could still smell the kid had puked up in the back seat of his cab last night. That was the last time he picked any fares up outside a bar at closing time.

"Hey there Honolulu. This is Erica taking you home. I hear our morning man Rick Waters has been out surfing all day. Well he better come back in soon. That tropical depression he mentioned this morning has been upgraded to a tropical storm. There's been small craft warnings issued. We may get ourselves that hurricane after all. Keep calling us with names folk. 555 - 4839. . ."

Moe glanced around as he slouched lower in his seat, deftly rolling a healthy joint. He fired up the dube, to cover the smell, yeah, a natural air freshener he thought, snickering to himself. It was gonna be a mighty fine day. He could feel it man. Oh, yeah, especially when the pot started to work its magic.

" . . . Let's work on a theme here and starting with an oldie by the Association,"Windy". This is Honolulu's favorite AM station WYII. I'm Erica and I'm here till midnight."

~The music starts~

~It begins to fade away to be replaced with by the sound of tired worn out gears grinding to a painful stop~

The bus wobbled to a stop and less than enthusiastic returning soldiers climb out.

Spc4 Ruiz and Spc4 Taylor were packed and read to climb on the bus as soon as the last of the returning G.I.'s slugged reluctantly off the bus.

"Cool your heels somewhere, boys. This boat ain't going no place until I get me some chow and see a man about a horse." grumbled the heavy set driver as he eased his ample girth from behind the steering wheel.

"He could do with missing a few meals, man. Y'hear what I'm saying, bro?" mumbled Taylor to Ruiz who snorted.

The driver threw them a suspicious glare as he strode away. They broke out laughing, hanging all over each other. Lieutenant Goldman stood before Major Darling's desk, fighting the urge to glance at his watch again. It seemed to him that Darling was veering off on tangents on purpose in stead of skimming through the debriefing as usual and ending it with an 'I expect a detailed report on my desk in the morning', like he usually did.

The bus was leaving in less than twenty minutes and he'd made the mistake of coming here before packing. 'Haven't even showered yet. Damn it!' he thought, not even listening to the Major anymore.

" . . , alright, Lieutenant. I expect a detailed report in . . ."

"Yes sir!" blurted Goldman cutting him off and saluting sharply. The Major glared at him a moment before touching a finger to his temple.


"Yes sir." he practically ran from the office.

He tore across the compound like a madman. Charging into the hootch, he nearly careened into McKay as he headed out the door.

"Whoa, man! What took you so long?"

"Darling. . . !!" growled Goldman, glancing at his watch.

"Cutting it a little close, Goldman."

"Damn it." he whined trying to pull off his shirt while pulling things out of his locker.

"Look, let me throw this stuff in your kit for you. And you grab a shower. Please have a shower!" he wrinkled his nose for effect. Myron gave him a look, glanced at his watch and started unstrapping it.

"Okay . . ," he pulled half his locker out tossing Johnny the items he wanted to take.

"Myron . . ."

"I'm going, I'm going." he nodded, grabbing a towel and raced from their hootch, leaving McKay to cram his stuff into his duffel bag.

"Hey, L-tee?! We're almost ready to leave." called Percell as he and Doc made their way to the bus.

"I know that, Percell." he shouted back diving into a shower stall.

"You're coming with us ain'tcha, L-tee?"

"Yes! Now go figure out a way to stall the driver until I get there." he yelled at them as he lathered up an armpit.

:1600 hrs. August 9th, 1968. Honolulu

Out over the Pacific ocean, Hurricane Connie was on the move and building in strength. Fierce roaring winds ate up miles as it headed straight for the Hawaiian Islands.

. . . WYII's weather watch: the tropical depression over the Pacific has been upgraded to hurricane status. The storm is reaching speeds of 65 to 80 nautical miles an hour and is expected to produce gale force winds clocking in at 200 mph. Looks like Hurricane Connie is on her way folks, and she's in a hurry. And one lucky listener called in this morning with the winning name! Congratulations, Milo Halikii, he works at the Tacky Tiki Diner on Okilanee Lane. Enjoy the catamaran, bro. The Coast Guard has issued a small craft warning. Head for the marinas 'Howlies'. Now, here's an old one for the occasion; "Rhythm of the Rain" by the Cascades.

~The music starts~

~It begins to fade away to be replaced with by the sound of an airplane~

"This is your Captain speaking. Due to the severe turbulence we are experiencing, we will be altering our course slightly to fly around this weather front. This rerouting makes our e.t.a. about 45 minutes. Now, for your safety, please return your seats to their upright positions, fasten your seat belts and extinguish all cigarettes. Anyone needing assistance can ring our lovely stewardesses. It won't be much longer folks. And thank you for flying Trans Pacific Airlines.."

"You okay, Roo?" asked Taylor grimacing as Ruiz heaved into his air sick bag again.

Doc squatted in the aisle beside Taylor holding a paper cup and two tablets.

"Oh, mi Dios, I'm going to die!" moaned Ruiz, turning three shades of green.

A wall of turbulence slammed into the plane again, rattling it from tip to tail.

"Hang in there, bro, You'll make it." encouraged Taylor nervously as he cinched his seat belt tighter.

"Ruiz, try and swallow these motion sickness pills, man." offered the Doc.

x x x

Anderson grinned as he watched Goldman debating whether to ignore the 'extinguish all cigarettes' announcement or not.

"Ain't it always the way, Lt. Just when you want something real bad, you can't have it. . ." Zeke philosophized.

Goldman just looked at him blankly slowly blowing smoke from his nose.

x x x

"What can I do for you soldier?" asked the leggy brunette stewardess coming to McKay's ring.

"The Pilot seems to be having trouble holding this bird steady." he said loud enough for Percell and Johnson, who were admiring her back view, to hear.

He fought to keep from grinning, noticing Danny's and Marvin's eyes eyes widen appreciatively s the brunette bent closer to whisper conspiratorially to him.

"He's actually trying to out fl . . ." she started to say.

The pounding gust of wind slapped into the side of the plane and McKay found himself nose deep in delicately perfumed cleavage as the stewardess was thrown off balance.

"This calls for introductions." smiled Johnny, finally coming up for air.

"I'm sorry! Are you alright?" she blushed as she pushed herself off him.

"Yes, fine. Name's McKay, Johnny McKay . . ." he held out a hand.

"Marissa, Samuels." she answered slipping her long fingered hand into his.

"Why don't you sit here." he motioned to the empty window seat beside him.

"Uh, can't. Have to stay in the crew alcove." she apologized.

"Then I'm taking you to dinner when we get to Honolulu."

" . . . Alright."

Goldman mad a disgusted noise in his throat listening to the exchange behind him.

"How the hell does he manage to do that?" he whined jealously to Anderson who was off in his own little world.


"Forget it." Goldman waved him off, frustrated.

Percell and Johnson stared in awe at a smug McKay, like he was a god.

:1800 hrs. August 9th, 1968. Honolulu Officer Kenny Hona stood patiently by the emergency bed as the intern worked on the man in his charge - Stan Buckle, being held in the county jail for attempted murder during a robbery. While in the cooling tank, he managed to slice open his hand and now was in Honolulu Memorial Hospital getting the gash stitched up. Kenny was in the middle of his 4 to 12 shift so didn't mind bringing Buckle in and waiting around in the dry hospital. He was going to be plenty busy tonight with the storm that was heading inland. Hurricane Connie. He chuckled when he thought how much teasing his sister Connie would get from this one. Milo was probably driving her crazy. His stomache growled. Thinking of Milo got him thinking about the diner. Maybe he'd treat this looser, Buckle, to his last meal as a free man and stop at the Tacky Tiki o the way back to the jail.

"Are you going to be much longer?" he asked the intern

"The freezing's just about done. Maybe take 15 - 20 minutes."

"Okay." he shrugged good naturedly. 'wonder what the supper special is tonight?'

x x x

Sheets of pouring rain slapped against the windows of the airport terminal. Wind wobbled the glass in its frame.

"Feeling better, Ruiz?" asked Goldman, enjoying a fresh cigarette.

"Yes sir." his answer was unconvincing.

"We'll be at the hotel soon, you can rest."

"Aw, L-tee! We ain't got time to rest. We got ourselves some serious R'n'R-ing to get down to!" protested Taylor wrapping an encouraging arm around Ruiz's neck.

"I know what'll fix you up, Roo." chimed in Percell.

"What's that, man?" asked Ruiz suspiciously.

"Eggs, man! Any way you like 'em, as much as you want!"

"Thought he was queer for mashed potatoes, man." piped up Doc getting in on the teasing. "Come on, now," called Anderson hurrying in from the outside, drenched, "got a couple of cabs out here waiting!" he waved the men on.

". . . I'll catch up with you guys later . . . maybe." bragged McKay seeing his stewardess coming.

x x x

:16900 hrs. August 9th, 1966. Honolulu

The thwump thwump of the cab's wipers kept time with the song on the radio but did little to keep the windshield clear. Zeke, riding shotgun, peered nervously through the glass wondering how the driver had any idea where he was, how he was managing to see the road to stay on it.

"How long you fellas in Honolulu for?" asked the driver looking away from the road, making Zeke very nervous.

"Three days." answered Taylor, sitting behind him.

"Well, don't you worry about this little drizzle. It should be gone before morning. You'll be down on the beach watching bikinis in no time." he giggled.

"Hey buddy, you know a good place around here we can get decent meal? We're starting to forget what real food tastes like." asked Percell.

"Sure . . ," he turned in his seat to look at Percell.

"Uh, the road?!" squawked Anderson, white knuckling the dashboard.

"Oh, yeah." the driver squinted through the windscreen," . . . there's this great little diner on Okilanee Lane. The Tacky Tiki. The best scrambled eggs in Honolulu."

He looked in the rearview mirror as the three in the back seat exploded with laughter. Zeke just shook his head when the driver gave him a questioning look.

x x x

Moe sat with an arm resting on the back of the seat watching as the three soldiers tumbled into the cab and settled in. He took in their outfits a moment in silence then a smile spread across his face.

"Little wet out there, ain't it?"

"Just a little." answered Doc taking of his rain speckled glasses.

"Interesting air freshener you've got happening here . . , Moe." commented Goldman squinting at the driver's I.D. plate.

"Ah, like that, huh? It's a special blend."

"I bet it is." he answered flatly.

"Can get you fellas some if you're interested."

"No. Not, that's alright . . Moe, we won't be needing any."

"Suit yourself. Where to?"

x x x

Blinding lightening lit up the cab's interior with the roar of thunder right on its heels.

"Whoa! That one was close." commented Taylor, nervously.

"Nothing to worry about. Just a little summer storm." assured their driver, gripping his wheel a little tighter.

"Summer storm, huh?" said Anderson, not believing him, feeling powerful gusts of wind buffeting the car.

x x x

"Good evening, gentlemen. Welcome to Honolulu. Do you have reservations?"

"Hi . . ," began Anderson stepping up to the desk. Lights flickered a moment through the lobby then settled.

"Nothing to worry about." said the fresh freckled face before him, smiling happily.

"Okay. There are rooms under the name Goldman, I think."

"Okay, let's have a look."

Anderson turned, shrugging and grinning at the guys.

"We've got four connecting rooms on the 12th floor. 1202 to 1208. Enjoy your stay."

"Thank you m'ame." he said taking the keys.

x x x

"Take it easy fellas. Be seeing you around." called Moe as his three passengers jumped out and raced into the hotel lobby.

"Hey, L-tee, got the room keys." said Anderson leading the troop to the elevators.

"What floor?" asked Goldman as they crowded in.


"Rooms?" he asked as he pressed 12.

"12-02 to . . ." he started when the lights flickered overhead.

x x x

"Taylor, you and Ruiz are in here." ordered Anderson handing them key 1202.

"Percell, Doc." he tossed Percell 1204.

"Johnson, we're in here. L-tee, you and L-tee McKay." he handed 1208 to Goldman.

"Hey Sarg, why don't we go to that Tacky Tiki place for some chow?" asked Percell, rattling the key into the lock.

"The 'Tacky' Tiki?" asked Myron.

"Yes,sir, L-tee. the cabbie recommended it."

"Sounds alright. . . I could use some real food for a change."

"Lobby. 15 minutes." said Anderson pushing open the door to his and Johnson's room.

x x x


Officer Kenny Hona drove through the deserted intersection glancing at his subdued prisoner in the rearview.

"Hungry, Stan?" he asked the mirror. Stan glanced over his shoulder out the back window.

"Yeah, I'm talking to you. Hungry?" Stan stared out the back window a second longer.

"Uh, yeah, sure, man."

"Good. We're making a pit stop."

Stan glanced out the back window again as Officer Hona radioed into the station, coding in his dinner break, reassuring the dispatcher that Stan Buckle would be no problem. They pulled up outside the Tacky Tiki, he jumped out and ran around to let Stan out of the back, not noticing the dark blue van slow as it passed them.

x x x

"Sargent. Call up to their room, see what's keeping them. Percell, Doc, we're out of here, let's move." said the L-tee, impatiently.

"Yes, sir." the three answered together.

As the three left, Johnson stepped off the elevator and sauntered to Anderson's side.

"Ruiz? Why isn' t your sorry butt down here in the lobby?"

"Sorry Sarg. Go ahead. We'll meet you guys there. Taylor's makin' himself beautiful."

"He ain't never comin' outta that room then. Meet you there then. C'mon, Johnson, there are a couple of steaks out there with our names on 'em."

x x x


"Hey, Moe." smiled Johnson, recognizing the driver.

"Hey there soldier boy." grinned Mow, mellower than he was the last time they met. Zeke eyed this Moe character.

"You two, know each other?"

"Nah, Sarg. he was our driver from the airport." "Where to fellas?"

"That diner you told us about."

"The Tacky Tiki! Excellent choice." yelled Moe excitedly, getting a rush of the munchies. He gunned the motor and shot into the creeping traffic and getting angry honks.

x x x


Ruiz watched the rain battering the window of their hotel room while Taylor splashed around and sang in the bathroom. The lights went out for a few seconds and came back on.

"Marcus. Let's go man!" he yelled as the lights flickered a few more times.

Taylor came out patting aftershave on his face.

"Ready." he announced strutting.

" 'bout time, man."

They joined a couple already waiting at the elevator.

"Good evening." said Taylor politely glancing down at the woman's very noticeable state of pregnancy.

"Hello." she smiled shyly.

"Baby." grinned Ruiz pointing at her stomach.

"Yes, we're due any day now. We're actually overdue." informed the very proud husband.

"That's nice." said Taylor moving unconsciously away from them to position Ruiz next to her.

"What do you think you're goin to have?" asked Roo, thinking about his cousins and aunts who always seemed to know what sex their babies were going to be.

"Oh, a boy of course." smiled the woman, looking a little tired.

The elevator chime sounded and the four stepped into the car. Taylor hit the L button and settled in the corner and watched each floor number light up and go off above his head.

The woman gave a little squeak of surprise when the lights blinked in the car.

"Don't worry, Mrs." comforted Ruiz.

The car plunged into total darkness as it hitched and shuddered and bounced to a silent stop. An emergency light clicked on and they all stood there looking at one another in its red glow.

"Oh, oh."

x x x


Percell and Doc sat across from the L-tee in a booth by the window. They self consciously nursed their beers not sure how to behave. They exchanged glances as Goldman sat staring blankly out the window, watching a traffic light dance madly in the relentless wind.

"It looks like it's getting worse . . ." tried Hockenberry.

"Hmmm? Yeah. Yeah, it does. I don't think this is going to clear up by tomorrow." answered Goldman, tapping ashes into the ashtray.

"So much for bikini watching, huh, L-tee."

"I guess so. Anything out there tonight or tomorrow is gonna be blown right off the beach." answered Goldman, smiling at the two attentive faces watching his every move.

"Get you guys another drink?" he offered, hoping that that would put them a little more at ease.

"Sure." and"Thanks, L-tee." they answered at the same time.

Goldman slid from his side of the booth and went to the bar. The diner's door banged open and closed as three rain-soaked men hustled in. Doc watched them then glanced around wondering what they three were staring at so intently and noticed the cop sitting at the table at his 8 o'clock with a handcuffed prisoner.

He elbowed Percell. Danny looked at the cop and his dinner partner then back at the trio and he just about spit out his beer.

"Doc! One of 'em's got a gun!" he whispered hoarsely seeing the handle of a revolver sticking from one man's waistband as he adjusted his jacket.

"Maybe they're cops?" rationalized Doc.

"Here y'go." Goldman slid across the vinyl, setting the bottles down. His smile slid off his face when he saw the looks on their faces.

"What's wrong!?" he asked, tensing.

"Maybe nothing, L-tee." shrugged Hockenberry, trying to downplay the possibilities.

The three of them jumped when a boom of thunder rattled the window beside them and the lights in the diner went crazy over head for a moment.

"What's going on?" he asked leaning closer.

"See the cop, my 8 o'clock?" motioned Doc with his head.

Goldman leaned over slowly.

"He's got a guy - in handcuffs!" he straightened, eyes big with surprise.

"Now take a look at Hewey, Lewey and Dewey, your 4 o'clock, L-tee. At least one of 'em's got a gun." nodded Percell.

"Don't look now!" sputtered Doc and Goldman froze.

"Sit anywhere you like fellas, be right with you. Didn't think we'd see a soul tonight." said the waitress making her way to the soldiers' table.

"Okay, who's the chicken?"

Percell and Goldman both pointed at Hockenberry and she set the 1/2 chicken down.

"Medium/well with baked?" Percell nodded and took the incoming plate and the waitress set the last before Myron.

"Medium/rare with fries. Enjoy your meals, boys." she said cracking her gum not missing a chew.

"Okay, look now. No. Wait. . . here. Oops." Doc grabbed his spoon and flipped spoon off the table and the three watched it bounce to a stop under a table beside them.

"I guess I'll get that." said Goldman giving him a 'you-idiot' look and retrieved the utensil taking in the trio just as they split up. He returned to his seat just as the greasy haired on moved past their booth and eased himself into the booth behind theirs. They sat in silence watching the one in a loud Hawaiian shirt settle on a stool at the bar and the last, a rotund man, pull a chair out and sit at a table by the door where he had a vantage point of all the tables and booths. Goldman turned to look at Doc and Danny to see them both concentrating intently on their plates looking very guilty about - something.


The ice blue eyes met his intense brown ones.

"Sir?" his eyes flicked briefly to the man seated at the table.

"Take a swig of beer or something. Try and look a little relaxed, will you." he whispered hoarsely.

"Yes, sir."

"Are you sure about the gun?" continued Goldman barely above a whisper, leaning over his plate.

Percell nodded raising his glass to his lips.

"What are we gonna do, L-tee?" Doc's eyes were big behind his glasses.

x x x


"Uh, Moe. Wanna watch the road? Please." cautioned Anderson, worried about their driver being nearly turned completely around in his seat to jabber at them.

"Yeah, sure. So I'm picking up this fare at the airport and I'm like, blown away, man . . . "

He paused a moment checking the streets.

" . . . so this guy, he climbs in the back. Hat. Sunglasses. Big coat. Y'know, so he won't be recognized, y'know what I mean." he turned and looked at them.

"The road!" they both yelled as he veered into the other lane.

"Oh, yeah, sure. S, I'm like thinking, is this really him? Like, what's he doing here taking a cab - my cab. Y'know what I mean?" he asked again turning to look back at his passengers.

"MOE!!" yelled the two in the back as Anderson lunged over the seat, yanking the steering wheel hard to the right pulling the car into their own lane.

"Oh, yeah, sure." smiled Moe sheepishly taking back the wheel.

"Just get us to the diner, son." sighed Anderson weakly.

"Sure, sure." Moe glared through the windshield trying very hard to stay focused.

A blinding flash of lightening blinded them all a second as it shattered limbs from a tree at the roadside. Thunder rumbled overhead as a falling branch headed straight down on Moe's cab.

With a panicked scream, Moe turned the wheel hard to the right just as the tree branch impaled itself in the hood. The right tires went off the ashfalt and chewed into the gravely shoulder pulling the car still farther off the road. It skidded and careened over the shoulder and teetered over the ditch.

"Hang on!" yelled Anderson, knowing the vehicle was going to roll. The car tipped into the drainage ditch and the three were thrown first against the passenger doors then against the roof of the car as it tumbled upside down, finally coming to a stop in the watery ditch.

x x x


McKay couldn't remember enjoying a meal quite as much as this one. Except maybe that time he shared noodles with Sister Bernadette, but he shouldn't be thinking about a nun at a time like this. He sat across from Marissa at her tiny kitchen table finishing the last of his dinner, looking at her in the glow of all the candles she'd set out when the power had gone off. they were an their second bottle of wine and hadn't even left the table yet and they still had all their clothes on.

"Looks like the power may be out all night." he said after taking a sip of his wine.

"Then I guess you're stuck here all night . . ." she said, running a hand through her hair.

"I wouldn't call it stuck."

"That's good . . . say, is it warm in here or is it me?"

They both smiled, knowing the line was cheesy but it got the evening into the next stage.

"A little." he answered, playing his part and giving her a lazy smile.

"Why don't we go relax on the sofa."

"Lead the way . . ." he said reaching for the bottle and their glasses.

x x x


"HELLOOO!!!!! HHEEEELLLLPPPPPP!! HHHHEEEEELLLLLPPPPPP!!!!!!" yelled Taylor at the top of his lungs in the elevator car that had started feeling really small when the Mrs. started clutching at her belly and moaning.

"Try the phone, man. Stop yelling like that - you'll upset the baby."

Taylor stared stupidly at Ruiz who was pointing at the wall beside him.

"Open the door and use the phone, man!" Taylor eyed the bank of numbers beside him before finding the little door.

"A phone! YES!! I'll call them and let them know we're in here." The woman doubled over and wailed in pain.

"Honey? Honey?" whined the husband like a dope.

"Mrs., maybe you should sit down." suggested Ruiz between her moans.

She nodded at the suggestion.

"Mr. husband. Help me sit her on the floor."

The two helped her to the elevator floor as a second wave of contractions hit.

"Hello! Hello!. Come on suckers! Answer!!" barked Taylor banging the receiver against the wall in frustration.

"Hello! Yes, yes!! Get us out of here! A lady's having a baby!! HURRY!!! Emergency! HEELLLLLPPP!!! Hello?! Hello?!!! They hung up. Roo, they hung up."

"Keep trying, man." said Ruiz fascinated by the woman's labour.

"Roo? What do I do?" he whined in frustration.

"Hang up, man and try again. And stop yelling, man. Chill out, bro."

The husband knelt in a daze beside his wife, terrified.

"Mrs., is it your first baby?"

"Yes . . ," she gasped," . . . and my waters just broke."

Everyone froze.

"Oh, oh."

x x x


"Hockenberry, just settle down and eat your chicken." whispered Goldman picking up his steak knife as Percell busied himself seasoning his baked potato.

Stan could barely swallow the food in his mouth when Corky, Ed and Hump came walking right into the diner and now they were positioning themselves around the place. Please tell me that they're not stupid enough to try anything in here, he thought. He didn't dare look at any of them, afraid to give himself and them away. Loud thunder outside made him jump.

"Your food alright?" asked Officer Hona noticing Buckle was just staring at his plate.

"Yeah, it's great. Uh, my hand's just starting to hurt a little, that's all." he said, forcing a forkful into his mouth.

"I'll be right back." said Myron crumpling and tossing down his napkin as he slid from the booth.

As he rose he had a look at the greasy haired man, Ed, in the booth behind theirs then he cut across the centre of the room, glancing at Hump, who sat at the table watching him make his way across the diner towards the corridor that held, washrooms, the kitchen entrance and, Goldman hoped, a pay phone. He did not see Hump motion to Corky, in the Hawaiian shirt at the bar to go after him.

Lightening and thunder filled the diner.

Danny laid his fork down as the lights threatened to go out.

"L-tee's in trouble." he started to scoot Doc across their booth bench but they both froze as Ed rose from his booth and quickly slipped into Goldman's vacated seat.

"I thought it was you. I haven't seen you in ages . . ." Ed flashed them a plastic smile, pulling his jacket open, revealing the gun in his belt.

" . . . move and you're dead." he warned them coolly.

x x x


"Oh, Lord!" groaned Zeke not sure which way was up for a moment. He blinked a couple of times to clear his head. For a second he thought he'd been knocked off his feet by a concussion grenade. He cringed as a jagged finger of lightening lit up the night sky, remembering where he was as thunder pounded at his ear drums. He also realized that he was flat on his back in soupy mud. Moving cautiously, he rolled on his side to find Johnson out cold in a heap beside him. He looked to where the driver should have been but found the spot empty and rain pouring through where the windshield should have been. He got gingerly to his hands and knees in the confined space.

"Johnson . . ," he lay a hand on the young man's shoulder,". . . c'mon now, son, rise and shine, y'hear me?"

Johnson scrunched up his face in protest, reaching for his head.

"What . . ?" he started before blinking open his eyes and seeing a soggy Sargent Anderson kneeling over him.

"Sarg?" still a little rattled.

"Now listen up, son. We gotta get outta this here car."

"Okay Sarg." he agreed dumbly.

"Can you move?"

"I, think so . . , Sarg, where's Moe?" he asked coming up on an elbow, looking around.

"We gotta find him, Sarg. He might be hurt."

"We will. Now settle down. Just crawl out through the window up there. I'll be right behind you. C'mon now. Go, go, go."

They crawled through the deepening mud, into the direct force of the storm. Standing ankle deep in the ditch, they clutched one another's arms to keep from being toppled over.

"We gotta find him, Sarg." yelled Johnson over the howling wind.

"Alright, Johnson, relax, now. We'll find him. We also need to get under cover. I think this storm is turning into a hurricane."

x x x


Marissa pulled him down onto the sofa with her. His mouth found hers as he eased his weight down on her.

"I don't usually do this sort of thing." she sighed as his mouth traveled to her throat.

"Neither do I." his answer was muffled in her hair. She wrapped arms around his neck as thunder cracked through the sky.

"I'm here." he comforted her sliding a hand under her blouse, finding the lacy cup of her bra.

"Oh, Johnny." she sighed, arching into his touch.

x x x


"Oh, mamasita! Dios." mumbled Ruiz licking his lips nervously.

"What? . . .What!!?? Roo! What does that mean???!" asked Taylor, just knowing he wasn't gonna like the answer.

"It means the baby's coming, man"

"Oh, Gawd!!" she gasped, grabbing Ruiz's hand as a contraction hit. He winced at the power of her grip.

"Okay, Mrs. . ." he grunted in pain.

"OOOOhhhhhh!!!!" she wailed again.

Taylor scrambled with the phone again.

"Hello! Hello??!!! Somebody! ANYBODY!!!! Answer, please answer this thing!!! WE'RE HAVING A BABY!!!!"

"Marcus. Shut. Up! Gimme your shirt, man!"

"Ruiz, man, are you crazy?? Lady, you can't have a baby . . . here!!" screamed Taylor freaking out in the corner.

"Tell my baby that." grunted the Mrs.

"Mr., you gonna have to birth your baby, man!. . ." Ruiz watched in amazement as the man's eyes rolled up in his head and he sagged over sideways beside his wife. Taylor's big eyes looked from Ruiz to the fainted husband.

"Oh, oh!"

x x x


Myron shouldered through the beaded curtain fishing in his pocket for change. He glanced over his shoulder just as Corky came through the beads behind him.

"Hey, how y' . . ." began Goldman, trying to act casual and look for an escape route at the same time.

Milo, leaning against the counterin the kitchen, listening to the radio report on approaching hurricane Connie, heard a commotion in the corridor. He glanced up to see Corky's grip around Goldman's throat as he shoved him backwards into the men's room. He stood frozen in his spot watching the door slowly swing shut.

"Milo!" barked the waitress over the order counter.

"Huh?" he jumped, looking at her with big eyes.

"Kenny and that fella want some pie, a la mode." she stuck the order in the little carousel and gave it a spin.

Milo looked out over the diner, getting a bad feeling.

"Uh, yeah, okay. I'll bring it out, Ruth, okay? Wanna say hello."

"Suit yourself." she shrugged embedding her pencil into her hair spray hardened beehive.

Corky pushed Myron up against the wall.

"'Fraid I can't let you make that call, G.I." he said with a sarcastic shrug.

"I . . , I was going to buy some cigarettes. The machine . . ." Goldman pointed lamely at the door.

"Right . . ." smiled Corky, seeing right through Myron's poor attempt at lying abd he hauled off and socked Goldman in the face and watched him slide down the wall, stunned. Milo nervously plopped the pie wedges and scoops of ice cream onto two plates. He scribbled a note on a napkin and hurried out of the kitchen.

"Hey, Kenny!" he called excitedly looking quickly over his shoulder at the men's room door.

"Hey, Milo, how ya doing, man? Great lasagna, as usual. Surprised I've got room for pie."

"Ha, ha. Yeah. Well, we always have room for pie." answered Milo nervously, laying the plates in front of them. He gave Stan a couple of napkins.

"Here, man. Don't wanna get ice cream on the uniform do you." he flapped the napkins in Kenny's face. Kenny smiles and took them from him.

"Thank's man. How's Connie?"

"Okay, I guess." Milo shuffled nervously from foot to foot as Kenny lifted the napkin to the corner of his mouth. He spotted the scribbles, looked up at Milo took another look at the napkin, wiped at his mouth, smiled up at his soon to be brother-in-law, swallowed his food casually and sipped at his coffee.

"Milo, I forgot - mom was wondering if you two were going to be coming by on the week-end. Said you should *call* her and let her know *what's happening* . . ." he held Milo's gaze, hoping the young man understood.

"Okay, okay. Yeah, yeah, um, Okay, I'm going on my break. I'll call her right now."

"Good, she'll be happy to hear from you and tell her *I* told you to call. I need her to *know* I deliver messages."

"Yeah, sure, you got it, Kenny." smiled Milo. A deafening clap of thunder froze everyone in their place and in the echoing silence, they could hear a cracking coming from the windows. Percell turned to see beads of water being forced through a growing spider web of cracks in the window beside him, could see the window bending in beneath the pressure of the wind, eyes wide he turned . . . just as the power went out.

x x x


"Moe!" yelled Johnson shielding his eyes from the driving rain that bit into his skin like buckshot.

"Moooooooooe!" joined Anderson, trying to see in the gloom. "There. There!!" panted Johnson madly splashing across the ditch to where their talkative driver lay in the mud.

" . . . medic . . . medic . . . medic." Moe mumbled over and over as they rolled him over.

Anderson and Johnson exchanged surprised looks when they saw dog tags around the man's neck.

"Moe! Listen up now, son. We gotta get outta this storm. Can you move?"

"Storm?" his rattled brain not registering.

"Soldier. This is sargent Anderson. I am ordering you to get on your feet. Move, move, move!" Anderson hollered into the man's dazed face.

"Yes, sir. I'm alright, I'm alright, sir." responded the rumpled cabbie thinking he was back 'in country'.

"Come on, Johnson, we gotta find some kind of cover!" screamed Anderson as the two of them helped Moe to his feet.

"There's probably a storm drain." yelled Johnson.

x x x


He let the empty bottle fall to the floor and clicked the rim of his glass against hers. He tucked a brunette curl behind her ear and traced her shoulder with a finger. Their bodies glistened in the candle light with the sweat of their 'efforts'. Their clothes lay scattered around the sofa. They'd never gotten into the bedroom. He lay propped against sofa cushions with Marissa's smooth body atop him, breasts crushed against his chest, long legs entwined around his. He reached for her mouth with his and tasted the wine. Her subtle little shifting and rubbing was letting him know she wanted another go at it. He could feel himself 'rising' to the invitation. She sat up straddling his narrow hips and as he brushed his finger tips across her hardening nipples, took the weight of her breasts in his hands. With a throaty groan she eased herself onto him and he felt her shudder deep inside.

"Oh, Johnny."

x x x


Taylor didn't understand what Ruiz just rattled off in Spanish but he was pretty sure it wasn't nice.

"Oh, Lordy! God - Marcus Taylor here. I'm begging you God! You gotta get us outta here." he ranted up at the car's tiled ceiling.

"Marcus. You're gonna have to help me deliver the baby, man!"

"Me?! Baby? I don't know nothing 'bout birthin' babies, Roo! You crazy!? No way Jose!!"

Ruiz watched his long, lanky friend twitch and flap in a panic.

"Taylor, man. Sometimes you just ain't got no choice." reasoned the little Puerto Rican, calmly.

"Oh, noooo. Ohhh, Ohhh God . . . another one! Another one!" screamed the woman.

"Oh, no!" squawked Taylor.

"Oh, God!!" groaned the Mrs.

"Oh, God!" Taylor almost feeling her pain.

"Oh, God!" she panted weakly.

"Oh, God" Taylor echoed her.

"Another one!" she wailed.

"Oh, God, Roo! Do something!!" cried Taylor.

"Taylor, I need you, man!" yelled Ruiz joining the other two other people in the car screaming.

"How? I don't kno . . .!"

"Yeah, you told me that already. Help me lie her down. Move her husband. Gimme your shirt."

Taylor tried doing all of it at once then stopped and looked down at Ruiz.

"My shirt?"

"Baby's gonna need something clean. C'mon, man."

Lorraine screamed in agony.

Taylor ripped his shirt off, buttons flying, shoved hubby into the corner and dropped to his knees at the Mrs.'s head.

"That's good, man. Rest her head on your knees. Don't worry little mommy, we're going to do this right."

"Oh, oh, oooohhh." she found Taylor's sweaty hand and squeezed. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head in pain.

"Keep breathing mamma. And push when the next contraction starts." encouraged Ruiz, readying himself.

"Roo, man. You better know what you're doing, man."

"I'm just here to catch it, man. Mamma here's gotta do all the work. Come on now, Mrs., breathe. Okay, now. You gotta push! Push!!"

"Ooooh God!!" wailed Taylor in harmony with the Mrs.

x x x

"Incoming!" was what came out of his mouth as he gave Doc a good shove sending him spilling to the floor and dove out of the booth after him. Stunned, Ed watched them hit the floor and roll. He turned, too late, to see the window pane give way and blast in, jagged chunks of glass like shrapnel blew into the diner. He rose an arm to shield his eyes from the flying glass and dagger sharp wedges sank into his arm and face. He fell out of the booth onto his back helpless and screaming.
Percell crawled to Ed and pulled the gun from his belt. The waitress screamed as Hump sprang to his feet and grabbed her, using her as a shield.

"Hump! Don't" yelled Stan, coming to his feet.

The men's room door flew open and Corky came out holding a bloody-nosed Goldman against him, the barrel of his gun jabbing into Goldman's ribs.

x x x

They all flinched as gnarled fingers of lightening cut across the sky, the following thunder shook the ground they stood on.

"Sarg! Over there!" yelled Johnson pointing ahead of them.

The grey shape of the drainage tunnel stood about twenty yards away.

"Let's go." Anderson took Moe's arm and pulled him clumsily along behind him.

Crouching, they entered the concrete drain, happy to be out of the gale force wind and its icicle sharp rain.
The roar of the wind past the opening was a little unnerving.
Soaked to the skin and covered in mud, Zeke squatted against the curved wall to wait out the storm.

"Johnson and Moe positioned themselves across from him.

"How y'feeling, Moe?" asked Johnson.

"Like my car just landed upside down in a ditch, man." he grinned a little bleary-eyed.

"I hear that." grinned Johnson.

The storm howled as cold ankle deep water rushed through the drain.

"When'd y'serve?" called Zeke across the tunnel to the cabbie.

Moe met his eye a moment, debating whether to answer.

" '66. Was there 8 and a half months."

"Came home early."

Moe pulled up his mud soaked tie-dyed t-shirt. Zeke and Marvin looked at the angry scar across his belly.

"A going-home-early present from Charlie. My buddy went home in 2 bags." he said matter-of-factly.

"I hear that." nodded Anderson.

"Hey, I'm sorry about this guys." offered Moe, changing the subject after a growing silence.

"Forget about it, man." Johnson waved him off.

"Yeah, we were getting bored in the Nam, came looking for a little adventure." hollered Zeke over the roar of the wind, smiling at his own wit.

"Y'know, the diner's like, maybe a couple of blocks away . . ," informed Moe, winking mischievously at Johnson.

" . . . shame you're gonna miss a great meal."

"A couple of blocks, you say?" asked Zeke taking the bait.

"Give or take." smiled Moe, looking from Anderson and Johnson and back.

"Those steaks with our names on 'em, Sarg . . ." said Marvin, shrugging.

"I hear that. Moe m'man, lead the way! I'm gonna get me a steak, mmm,mmm,mmm."

x x x

Wrapped in a blanket together, they sat watching the storm rage by outside her apartment window.
Johnny nuzzled his nose in her hair breathing in her smell. The images of their bodies moving, sliding, entwined together still fresh in his mind, her taste still on his tongue.

"I . . ." he started but Marissa lay her fingers across his lips.

"Don't, Johnny. There's no where to go with this."

"But, I, we . . ."

"Johnny, . . . I'm married. My husband's . . ." she let it drop.

She climbed out of his embrace, grabbed her robe and stared down into his face watching as conflicting emotions vied for possession.

"Oh, come on, Johnny. Did you think I'd fall for a G.I. serving in Vietnam, even if I *was* single?"

He felt like he'd been kicked, hard.

"You could be dead tomorrow and where would that leave me?" she asked cinching her belt tightly.

Johnny couldn't believe what he was hearing, but the look on her face was backing up what she was saying.

"Of course, I understand." he said, self-consciously reaching for his scattered clothes.

"Good." she said choosing to ignore his obvious lie and turned her back on him as he dressed in glum silence.

As he sat to lace his shoes, she turned with a smile.

"You're welcome to stay till this blows over, you know."

He couldn't look at her. Didn't want to look at the cold eyes that had tricked him.

"Uh, no. I better go." he sort of floated to the door in a daze.

"Well, thanks, soldier, or should I say 'flyboy'. You were great."

He didn't hear the door close as he drifted down the dark corridor, lit only by emergency exit lights.

x x x

Taylor knelt in the red tinged car in a daze, a stupid lope-sided grin on his sweaty face.
Ruiz gently wrapped the slimy, wrinkly, bellowing baby boy in Taylor's shirt and laid him tenderly on his momma's stomach.

"Here you go picito, here's your mama." Ruiz beamed happily, blinking away the sudden wetness from his eyes.

"Roo . . ." sighed Taylor, staring at the little wriggling bundle.

Ruiz smiled widely as he watched the baby, barely noticing the elevator began hum into life.<
They all blinked as the lights came on, Ruiz steadied himself against the wall as the car began a jerky descent.

"Roo . . ." was all Taylor could keep saying.

The car shuddered to a stop and the doors rattled open. Two paramedics crowded in pushing the two soldiers out of their way.

The ambulance attendants stopped on their way out to the ambulance at the Mrs.'s request beside the two weary soldiers.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome, Mrs." smiled Ruiz, laying a finger on the baby's head."

"What are your names?" she asked beaming with maternal bliss.

"Ruiz, Alberto Ruiz."

"Marcus Taylor, m'ame."

"Alberto, Marcus, I'd like you to meet Alberto Marcus John Shippley."

"You're naming your baby after *us*?!"

"He wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you."

"Okay. Gotta go folks." interrupted the paramedic.

"Bye bye, Alberto Marcus." called Ruiz as they rushed through the front doors.

x x x

Diner & Cab:
Hump had the waitress. Corky had Goldman. Percell had Ed and Officer Stan had Officer Kenny Hano. Milo was under a table with Doc.

"Tell your buddies to drop their guns, Buckle." suggested Kenny calmly to Stan, holding his hands up.

"Corky, let the guy go. Don't do nothing stupid, man."

"No, Corky! Don't!" yelled Hump.

"Hump, don't hurt her." pleaded Stan.

"You! Drop the gun!!" Hump yelled at Percell, waving his gun around.

"Stan, get the cop's gun, man!" he hollered at Stan as he slowly backed his way towards the door.

"This is just making it worse, Stan." said officer Hona as Stan fought with the gun in its holster.

"Just give me the gun and the keys to these things and shut up!"

"Stan, you're smarter than this." the officer spoke levelly to the nervous man standing over him.

"Shut up." whined Buckle.

"Come on! Let's go!!" yelled Hump nearly at the door with the petrified waitress in tow.

"Corky!" he motioned to the man to follow suit, and Corky yanked Goldman along with him.

"Last time, soldier boy. Drop the gun or my friend here does your buddy."

Percell tossed the gun away.

"Stan, get Ed. We're outta here." said Hump as Stan threw the cuffs down.

As Stan rushed to Ed's side, the door banged open and the three soaked and muddy men from the cab tumbled in. Everyone froze.
Anderson, Johnson and Moe took in the scene before them in surprise. The people scattered around the diner stared at them in surprise too. Anderson took in the situation and reacted. He leapt at Hump wrestling him to the floor, the waitress screamed as they dragged her unceremoniously to the floor with them. Percell took this opportunity to tackle Stan to the floor. Goldman sank a bony elbow into Corky's ribs and turned and nailed him in the jaw and succeeded in knocking him out cold.
The waitress made it out from under the two wrestling Kodiaks and joined Milo and Doc under the table.
Percell easily subdued Stan with pure luck when his knee landed firmly on the man's stitched up hand and left him writhing on the floor in pain beside Ed.
Officer Hona retrieved his revolver and fired one shot into the air bringing the brawl to an abrupt halt.

x x x

Apartment & Elevator:
McKay squished his way into the lobby, feeling miserable. He's stumbled along the wind and rain battered streets as the storm lost some of its kick as it veered away from the islands to die out over the Pacific.

"Hey, Lieutenant. You look like a drowned rat." joked an exhilarated Taylor, accepting yet another handshake from the hotel staff.

"Hi, Taylor."

"What's the matter with you?"


"Your little fly chick turn out not to be the best pick in the hen house?"

"Something like that," grumbled McKay,"What happened to you?" he asked, finally noticing Marcus was not wearing a shirt.

"We delivered a baby, L-tee!" beamed Taylor.

"You mean *I* delivered a baby, Taylor, you spent your time crying like a pansy, man." corrected Ruiz sticking a stogie in his mouth.

"A baby?"

"Gonna name the kid after us too. Alberto Marcus John Shippley." said the little man, puffing out his chest.

"Well, that calls for a celebration. Let me buy you two heroes a drink." smiled McKay forcing himself to shake of his funk.

x x x

:1600 hrs. August 12th, 1968. Tan Son Nhut
The bus wobbled to a stop and the door squeaked open. Ruiz and Taylor bounced happily off the bus, puffing on their smelly cigars, speculating on little Alberto Marcus John's future.
Johnson, Percell and Doc strolled away all talking at once about the diner events to a sullen McKay
Anderson and Goldman stepped off the bus feeling the heat of the country press down on them, felt the sweat beginning to stain armpits. Smelled the familiar and unpleasant smells of the camp.

"L-tee, don't get me wrong now. Going to Honolulu was an interesting experience, but, well, sir, I don't know about you, but I'm glad to be home." he grinned looking around the dusty, sun baked camp.

"I hear you sargent. But it's pretty bad isn't it when we start calling this place home." he said smiling at his sargent squinting against the bright sun.

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