Paul Roach’s unbuttoned overshirt flapped in the wind as he jogged to the nearby signature Oahu coffee shop, The Blue Moon. The small building came into view. It was going to close at 8:30pm. Paul checked his watch. 8:15. At 23, he was eager for his coffee, and he usually got a chance to find old friends at the coffee shop.
He slowed down then strolled in. “Hey, Paul!” one of his friends, Hayato Nakahara called out from the first booth to Paul’s left.
“Oh, hey Frank,” Paul called. Hayato thought his name was odd so he told his friends to call him Frank. Born and raised in Oahu, the only reason why he had that name was his Japanese parents.
“How ya doing?” Hayato asked.
“Ok, I guess. How about you?” Paul inquired.
“Fine. But, you got the date man?”
“Yeah, December 6th,” Paul replied, “Still ‘41.”
Hayato laughed briefly then said, “I’m working on a drawing. F4U Corsair. I want to date it because it looks like it’s gonna be one of my best.”
Hayato drew as a hobby, and he really loved what he did. He sold each drawing for maybe $2.00. He enjoyed drawing planes and ships, usually the Navy’s.
Paul sat down and engaged in a conversation with Hayato. They usually talked about the military, as the island was blanketed in installations. But that day they talked about Paul’s loss. His parents back in Oregon had died a couple weeks ago from an automobile accident.
Then it was 7:46 on December 7th and Paul was still sleeping. But just then, he heard a plane overhead, which woke him up.
“Ugh, the Navy again,” he whispered to himself. But then, he heard a bang. An extremely loud bang.
He got out of bed, not bothering to get out of yesterday’s clothes, and sprinted to the door. He opened it to see a crater in the road, which had destroyed what looked like a 1940 Ford. More loud bangs caused Paul’s ears to ring. So Paul ran across the street to Hayato’s house to see if he was okay. He was. Then, the two ran over towards the bomb shelter. They knew where it was, but they hadn’t had a drill in a while. On their way, the plane came back around. Hayato looked back at it. It was a white plane with a red dot.
They were now in the bomb shelter with a few other people. Hayato and Paul were trying to suppress the bangs of the torpedoes, bombs, and MG fire by covering their ears. But Hayato had it the worst. The few other Americans in the shelter looked over at Hayato with glaring eyes. Hayato knew why. The planes were Japanese. His parent’s country just attacked his.
At 8:00 AM Paul started to get worried for his other friends. He was the popular kid in high school and held on to most of his friends after. So, Paul got up from the corner of the shelter. “Paul, what are you doing?” Hayato asked.
“Sorry, Frank. I just have to go check on Jimmy, Bill, and Joe,” Paul explained, almost whining.
Hayato grinned at Paul, admiring his daringness, “Ok, good luck.”
Paul climbed the ladder and darted towards Jimmy’s house. But when he saw it, he gasped. There was a huge crater in it.
He sprinted inside. There he was. On the ground, all banged up. “Jimmy?” Paul asked, in shock.
“Paul,” Jimmy replied, tearing up, “Suh-Suh-Save me. I… I can’t duh-duh-die like this!”
Jimmy grasped on to his chest. It looked like there was a piece of shrapnel in it. “Please, plea…”
Just like that, he was gone. His eyes went back into his head and closed halfway. “Jimmy, Jimmy no,” Paul whispered, “Jimmy!”
Paul got up, tears dripping down his face. He went outside to see another plane strafing the road, and then he saw Joe. He was standing there, arms out. Joe was a troubled child. Both his parents had died, turning him into an orphan at age four. He often claimed his life wasn’t worth living. So there he was, attempting to end it all.
The Japanese plane overhead spat out about thirty bullets at Joe. He toppled like a Jenga tower, in pieces.
Paul ran back to the shelter. He couldn’t believe what he had seen. He climbed down the ladder, and there Bill was, sitting down in the corner with Hayato.
“Oh, Paul! You’re okay!” Bill exclaimed.
“Yeah…” Paul replied.
“Any news about the others?”
“Sadly,” Paul said, shaky, “Jimmy and Joe, they’re not okay. They, they’re dead.”
“What?” Bill uttered. “Frank, why… why would they do this?”
“I have no clue…”
Everyone seemed speechless, though words still came out. This was truly a day that will live in infamy.
Paul had a tough life. Not just then, but a couple months earlier, in October, his girlfriend’s father decided to answer their country’s call. They were German.
His girlfriend, Kathy, was not too excited about the whole Nazi thing. But her father was. So Kathy and her younger brother Nick had to travel to Germany illegally with their parents.
When December 15th rolled along, the U.S. had already declared war on Japan, and Germany had declared war on the U.S, but people were still recovering from their shock. Children didn’t understand. Some didn’t even know if their father or mother were okay. Paul was sitting at the coffee shop, which overlooked the many wrecks of the bay. But then a thought came to mind. “I should go see if Hayato’s family is okay,” he thought. Paul didn’t know where they lived, so he would just have to ask.
So Paul walked down the street, looking down and kicking pebbles. He didn’t feel very good after the attack; he felt like he had a stomach virus. But he tried to keep pushing on. Maybe he would find the brighter shade. Just maybe.
He arrived at Hayato’s house. But there were three jeeps and seven MP’s standing in front of the house. Out came Hayato, in handcuffs.
“Frank!” Paul shouted, “What did you do?”
“It was the drawings. They said…” Hayato started. An MP finished the sentence for him though.
“This ‘Frank’ has pictures of our military’s airplanes and ships. He must have been mapping the attack and telling the Japs which ships to sink first.”
“But he would never do that!” Paul replied.
“Maybe, just maybe, your friend has been telling you a lie the entire time.”
Paul ran back home. He didn’t know what to do. His friend was gone. He couldn’t even try to save him or he would be prosecuted. Then came the worst part.
Paul was checking out the Sunday paper on January 4th, 1942. He had lost his job at the newspaper company but he still kept the subscription. The whole paper was basically about the men fighting in the war, and their glory, and how they were going to turn the wrong into the right by killing all the Nazis and Imperial Japanese soldiers. So Paul thought for a second. A thought then came into his head, but it wasn’t a good thought. He was deciding whether or not he should join up. To die.
It was then August 7th, 1942, and Paul now wore the uniform of a Private in the United States Marine Corps. He was off the coast of Guadalcanal, waiting for orders. But then, finally, the orders came.
“Gear up, Marines!” a voice screeched over the loudspeaker. Paul got his gear on. This was frightening for everyone. Paul knew what the voice was implying.
The Marines got into the landing craft and waited for the sounds of explosions and gunfire to reach their ears. But it didn’t. Not yet.
“Welcome to Guadalcanal! No Japs yet!” one Marine announced as Paul got out of the landing craft.
Paul looked around the beach. Half the Marines were getting off the boats and the other half were sitting down on the sand and dirt mix where the jungle and beach met. Paul walked over and sat down alone. His head was down, looking at the beautifully textured sand. Then, a voice said, “Move out, Marines!”
They were in the middle of the jungle and eating rations. Paul was, again, sitting alone. A Marine walked up to him with a huge smile on his face. He said, “Hey, buddy, what’s the matter? It’s the first time for all of us! We’re all…”
A bullet immediately hit the Marine in the head and his body had gone limp and he fell to the ground instantly.
Paul thought that this was his chance. But then he thought again. What if he had just pushed through? If he had not enlisted maybe he would find the brighter shade. But now, it is probably too late.
Paul crawled up behind a tree and lay down there. A Marine ran up to him and pulled him up by the collar.
“This is it, man. You have to do your bit,” he hollered. So Paul got up but stayed behind the tree. He felt as if he were alone. Somewhere that he’d never been. Like a void. But he had to do his job. So he leaned to the left and spotted an enemy. Got his rifle off of his shoulder. Aimed down the sights. Pulled the trigger. Got him. Looked around for another one. Aimed down the sights. Pulled the trigger. Got him. Then he fell down to the ground swiftly, but not purposefully. A bullet had hit him right in the artery in his arm. He had about two minutes, then he would be gone. In those two minutes, he put together all his regrets. The time he had stolen all the ice cream at Thanksgiving in 1925. The time he had missed that history exam because of a broken foot, causing him to get a D at the end of the semester. Last, but not least, the time he thought everything would be better if he enlisted. He could have found the brighter shade, but he chose not to. Two minutes later, he was dead. He never found the brighter shade - never found what his parents, Kathy, or Hayato would have wanted him to find.