FLYING TIGERS

The air base on the island was temporary and would be abandoned within
a few weeks. It had been laid out to shorten the trip of bombers
delivered to China by way of Australia and Rangoon from the west
coast of the United States. Stan and his pals hurried to a flimsy
headquarters building where they were met by a number of officials.
Nick Munson went along, though O’Malley made a number of discouraging
remarks.

They presented their credentials and signed for uniforms and equipment.
Tom Koo put in an appearance as the navigator who was to take them on
the first leg of their journey, the hop to Rangoon. He did not say
anything about the details of the flight, or the course, beyond running
a finger across the map to show where they would fly across the Malay
Peninsula.

O’Malley was in high spirits and even offered to share half a stale pie
with Nick Munson. He had discovered the pie in a small canteen attached
to headquarters. Munson refused, so O’Malley devoured all of it.

Stan walked around the grounds while they were waiting for their
call to go out. He made a circle of the field and came back past
headquarters. As he passed the door he heard Nick Munson’s voice. It
sounded irritated. Munson was arguing hotly with someone. Stan halted
just beyond the door and listened.

“I want a single-seat bomber, one of those dive bombers out there.
That was the agreement when I came over here. I’m an expert and an
instructor. I fly alone.”

A smooth but firm voice answered, “I am sorry, Mr. Munson. I have
orders to assign you to Tom Koo’s bomber crew under command of Major
Allison. If you wish return transportation to Singapore, that will be
arranged. If you wish to go on to China, you will follow instructions.”

“You’ll hear about this,” Munson growled.

Stan hurried away. He did not want Nick to see him at the door. When
he arrived at the Hudson they were to fly, he found Tom Koo explaining
flight details. Nick Munson sauntered up a few minutes later and stood
listening.

“It is not unusual to be attacked by Jap fliers over the Gulf of Siam,”
Tom Koo said. “They do not recognize neutral waters or soil. But you
all know the Hudson can fly as fast as most pursuit ships and that she
is well armed. Our only danger comes from spies flashing word of our
take-off to the enemy. In that case we may be ambushed by a swarm of
fighter planes.” He smiled at the fliers. “If you sight ten or twenty
enemy planes, you duck and run for it.”

“What if we sight half a dozen?” Stan asked.

“We shoot them down,” Tom Koo said modestly.

“Very encouraging,” Allison drawled.

“Jest you furnish me a fighter to ride herd on the bombers and we’ll
show the spalpeens,” O’Malley exclaimed.

“The distance is too great for a fighter plane,” Tom Koo explained.
“We just fight our way through.”

Stan smiled. The Chinese were used to fighting with the odds against
them. They had been meeting the Japanese that way for years.

“We’ll take the Hudson through,” Stan said. “And if you hang a few eggs
underneath, we’ll drop them on Saïgon just by way of a little token.”

Tom beamed. “A very good idea. But we have no bombs here to take along.
At our China bases we will find bombs–American made bombs and very
good ones.”

Tom looked at Nick Munson who was bending over the map spread on a box.
Nick looked up. “Do you have two-way radio?” he asked.

“Yes,” Tom answered. “But the radio will be used only by Major Wilson.
One-man communication. The ship will be under command of Major
Allison.” He turned to Stan. “I will give you the code and the wave
length used at Rangoon.”

“What if something happens to Wilson?” Nick asked.

“In that case I will take over,” Tom answered.

They checked the charts carefully. Accustomed as they were to complete
weather reports and detailed instructions, this flight preparation
seemed woefully lacking. Stan shoved the code book into his pocket.
Allison gathered up his flying orders and O’Malley strapped on his
helmet.

“We’re all ready,” Allison announced.

“I’ll clear you,” Tom said.

They climbed into the Hudson. Her motors were idling smoothly as she
stood at the cab rank. A number of American mechanics smiled and waved
to them. One of the boys called up to Stan:

“We’ll see you in China in a week.”

Stan lifted a hand and grinned at the boy. He moved back to the radio
compartment. O’Malley manned the forward gun. Nick was placed in the
rear gun turret forward of the twin tail assembly. Tom was at the
navigator’s post.

The field officer flagged them and Stan felt the big ship tremble under
full throttle. She slid forward, gathering speed, her engines roaring
and flaming. The afternoon sun gleamed on the oily, tropic sea and many
birds were winging back and forth in the hot, burnished sky. The Hudson
lifted and bored away and upward. Stan connected his headset and gave
his attention to the code sheets spread before him. He had a feeling
this would be a routine flight such as he had made many times in the
United States.

Everything about the ship was familiar and gave him a snug feeling. The
instrument panel, the arching ribs, the cable lines, all were familiar
to him. He could see the top of Tom Koo’s head, and he could hear Nick
Munson muttering to himself as he lifted the intercommunication phone
to his ears. Nick evidently had the mouthpiece hanging close to his
head.

Stan leaned forward and replaced his earphones. He dialed the wave
length indicated on his code sheet. For a time he listened to routine
orders coming out of the Rangoon base. But he did not cut in with any
messages of his own. That would be taking unnecessary chances. An enemy
radio might be listening. The time passed slowly. He heard his phone
sputtering and slipped off his headset. Nick was calling him.

“Get in touch with Rangoon?”

“Cleared through O.K.,” Stan called back.

Nick grunted and lapsed into silence. Stan went back to his radio. The
hum of the twin motors beat into his senses and the radio messages
clicked off and on. He eased back and closed his eyes. It was very
restful, flying up above the layer of hot air close to the ground. He
nodded and drowsed off into a nap. There was nothing to keep him awake.

Suddenly Stan opened his eyes again. The first sense to register was
his ears. He knew, too, from the sickening lurch of the ship that she
was in a tight reversement, knifing over and going down at a terrific
rate. But it was his ears that told him the Hudson was being attacked.

There was the familiar scream of lead ripping through the dural
surfaces of the bomber. Looking out Stan saw two Karigane fighters
dropping down out of the sky. Above and behind him he could hear
Nick Munson’s guns blasting away, while up ahead he heard O’Malley’s
guns pumping lead. Stan pulled off his headset and caught up the
intercommunication phone.

The next instant the Hudson was looping back, flap guides screaming,
as she faded into a vertical turn gauged to a split second. Allison
was tossing her about like a light fighter plane and the Hudson was
responding nobly. In the swirling patch of sky and clouds that whirled
past, Stan saw at least a dozen of the Karigane fighters circling and
diving, eager to get at the bomber.

“Somebody must have tipped them off,” Stan muttered.

Then he saw that fire was licking at the forward tanks. He pawed an
extinguisher from its clamp and worked his way toward the leaking tank.
The spray from his pump blanketed the blue flame forking up from the
hole. The flame wavered, then went out.

Stan went back and cut in his radio. He got Rangoon and heard a cool
voice talking to a bomber flight. Stan broke in:

“Hudson, Flight Three out of Singapore attacked by flight of Karigane
fighters. Hudson, Flight Three calling. Do you hear me?”

The cool voice came right back at him. “Hudson, Flight Three, I hear
you loud and clear. Give your location.”

Stan looked out and down. He had no idea where they were. He did not
know how long he had slept. Below spread a placid sea, but he did not
know whether it was the Gulf of Siam or the Bay of Bengal.

“I will check location and call back,” he said.

“Better fight it out and then come in. We have no planes to send,” the
cool voice said.

Now the Hudson was going up, hammering toward a layer of clouds. The
Karigane fighters did not want the bomber to reach those clouds. Three
of them came screaming in from a head-on position. Stan heard O’Malley
open up. One of the fighters sheared off, turned over and went down in
flames, its silver belly gleaming.

Stan realized that it was not dark yet, though the sun had set. He
wondered how long the light would hang on. Then he forgot to worry
about the light as a stream of bullets ripped across the port wing,
causing the Hudson to swerve and stagger. But she went on up.

Stan shouted into the intercommunication phone to Allison. “How is it
up there? This is Stan.”

“Where have you been all this time?” Allison’s drawl was cool and
unruffled. “Get up here. Tom’s been hit and is down. I need help.”

Stan made his way forward. Tom Koo was slumped over with his head
rolling forward and his neck twisted around. Stan got hold of him and
dragged him back, then slid into his seat. Allison glanced across at
him.

“I dropped off to sleep,” Stan said grimly.

“Nice time for a nap, sorry we had to wake you up,” Allison answered.

“Got another yellow rat!” The voice of O’Malley roared in over the
phone. “’Tis a Spitfire I’d like to be flyin’ this minnit!”

“I just sawed off a wing! Nice hunting,” came the voice of Nick Munson.

Stan scowled and looked into the rear mirror. He saw a fighter swirling
and tumbling, black smoke pouring out of its cowling. He could not be
sure it was not the Jap O’Malley had potted. Still, it was back on the
tail where Nick could have hit it.

The Hudson knifed into the clouds just as four Kariganes roared down
for the kill. Allison leaned back and relaxed.

“They do a very nice job,” he said. “Slow but fast on the turn.”

“They come right in,” Stan admitted. “I’d better have a look at Tom and
see if I can fix him up. We’re safe now.”

Tom was hit in the shoulder and had a bad gash. He had struck his head
when he fell and the blow had knocked him out. Stan bound his shoulder
wound and stopped the flow of blood. He regained consciousness and sat
up blinking weakly.

“Can you take the ship in?” he asked. “Every ship is badly needed.”

“Sure we’ll take her in,” Stan assured him, “but she’ll be laid up for
repairs for a while.”

“You take over the radio. I’ll go back and pilot the Major in,” Tom
said.

Stan helped him up to the seat beside Allison, then he went back to the
radio. After a few minutes he picked up Rangoon. Allison and Tom got
their bearings and they headed in, still keeping to the cloud layer.

Over Rangoon they broke out of the clouds and began drifting in. They
saw below a calm sea and a green jungle. A beacon began to flash and
Stan contacted the field. They slid in over blue markers and down on a
long runway. As they bumped to a halt, it seemed as if they had landed
at one of the airfields in England. Only the ground men who rushed
forward were American mechanics, not British.

They climbed down, Nick Munson getting out last. He stood looking at
the Hudson, his eyes moving over the damage done by the encounter with
the Japs. Without a word he turned away.

“That bird tried to get a ship of his own for the trip up here,” Stan
said. “I figure the Japs were tipped off and that Munson didn’t care to
be riding with us.”

“Don’t go off half-cocked,” Allison warned.

They arrived at the flight office in time to see a United States Army
major warmly shaking Nick Munson’s hand.

“Well, well, Nick, old man. We’re glad to have you up here as an
instructor,” the major was saying.

“Glad to be here,” Nick answered. “I guess some of your men can learn a
few new tricks.”

“And you’re the man who can teach them,” the major said as he slapped
Nick across the shoulders.

Stan stood in the doorway watching. Apparently Nick Munson was
favorably known to some of the army men from the States. Allison
stepped forward. O’Malley was hungry and, when he was hungry, other
details could wait.

“Where’s the mess?” he demanded.

The major looked at him and smiled. O’Malley’s uniform and shoulder
markings placed him as a flier, but the officer seemed in doubt.

“Across the street,” he said gruffly.

“Flight Three out of Singapore reporting in, sir,” Allison said.

“Well, well.” The major suddenly showed some interest. The fame of
these three aces had arrived ahead of them. “Glad to have you.” He
looked again at O’Malley. “So you’re the famous O’Malley.” He held out
his hand.

“I’m not so famous as I am hungry,” O’Malley said as he shook hands.

“I’ll check you right in and show you the mess,” the major said.

The air was hot and humid. Great cumulus clouds were piled against the
sky. Out on the landing field, which was actually a converted rice
paddy, sat a flight of six Curtiss P–40 planes. The Tomahawks, as they
are called in the R.A.F., gleamed in the sun as their propellers turned
over idly.

Stan Wilson stood between O’Malley and March Allison, listening. Above
the muttering of the six Tomahawks rose the distant roar of bomber
planes coming in.

“Sounds like business,” Allison said.

A captain of the Flying Tigers appeared from a shack. He ran across
the field with three pilots after him. The three newly arrived pilots
saluted.

“Up and at ’em, boys,” the captain snapped. “And remember you’re not
in the R.A.F. now. Make every burst count and snap it off short.
Ammunition supplies are limited.”

O’Malley was away before his pals could move. He had crabbed some about
flying a P–40 until he had taken one up. Now he was bragging about the
ship. Stan and Allison raced to their planes and climbed in.

A Chinese corporal waved to them, shouting a string of words they could
not understand, then grinned broadly and ended up with:

“Give ’em the works!”

“That must be the signal to take off,” Stan muttered as he pinched one
wheel brake and blasted his tail up, snapping the P–40 around in a
tight circle.

The six Tomahawks bumped across the rice paddy, noses into the wind,
and were off. Stan lifted his ship off the ground and sent it surging
up into the sky. It was like old times when he was a test pilot back in
the United States. The instruments and controls were familiar and he
eased back against the shock pad.

Up spiraled the P–40’s above the high-piled clouds. They bored along in
close formation. Allison had charge of three planes, and an American
from Texas had charge of the other three.

“Japs on the left,” Allison’s voice cracked in over the air, “beyond
the white cloud. Take two thousand feet more air under you, Flight
Five.”

“O.K.,” Stan called back.

“Don’t be after wastin’ me time,” O’Malley grumbled. “I see a Jap down
under.”

“Take two thousand, O’Malley,” Allison drawled. “Fighter planes,
upstairs.”

They went on up, looped over a huge cloud and burst out above a flight
of twenty bombers with red circles on their wings.

“Peel off and go down,” Allison ordered. There was a happy, reckless
note in his voice. This was action again, a fling at bullet-filled
skies.

O’Malley peeled off and went roaring down the chute. Allison followed,
and Stan eased over and opened up. The P–40’s engine hammered a smooth
tune as the air rushed past the hatch cover. Stan grinned. He was glad
to be back at it again.

The bombers below were very slow. They did not break formation until
the P–40’s were on their backs. Stan drove down on a big killer and
opened his guns. He cut his burst short and knifed past. As he went
down and over in a tight, twisting dive, he saw the bomber burst into
flames. Up he went at the belly of another bomber. His Brownings
rattled a hail of lead and sheared away the bomber’s wing.

As Stan went up, he saw, coming down the chute, a flight of Jap fighter
planes. They were roaring in to save the bombers from destruction. Stan
made a quick guess and decided there must be at least thirty of them.

“Air superiority,” he muttered. “So this is the way they get it.”

He laid over and sprayed another bomber. It dived and circled, heading
back the way it had come. A glance showed that the bomber attack had
been riddled and put to flight. But there was still the flock of
fighters darting in on the P–40’s.

Stan went up and over and around. He held the P–40 wide open and shot
under the diving Japs. He was remembering what the captain had said
when he gave them instructions. “Go through them and on up. You can
outfly them and be back for a kill before they can get at you.”

As he went up and over in a screaming loop, he saw that O’Malley had
forgotten his instructions. The Irishman was in the middle of the enemy
formation of fighters and he was stunting like a madman, his guns
spitting flame and death. One Jap plane went down and then another, but
O’Malley was in a tight spot. Smoke was trailing out behind him, not
exhaust smoke but black smoke telling of fire inside the P–40.

Stan came over and went down. He ripped through the formation, darting
around O’Malley. As he went, he saw, on his right, another P–40
shuttling across the sky. He clipped a wing off a fighter that tried to
intercept him by diving at him. He saw his companion take another one
out. Then he heard Allison’s clipped words.

“O’Malley! Get moving. Shuttle across. Use your speed.”

“I’m havin’ some fun stayin’ right here,” O’Malley called back.

“You’re on fire,” Stan warned.

“I’m just learnin’ to smoke,” O’Malley called back.

As Stan went across and up, he saw the advantage the P–40 had over
the Jap fighters. They darted after him, but he slipped away on them.
As he went over and down, he saw that his pals were doing the same
thing. That is, all but O’Malley, who was battling it out with a dozen
Japanese around him.

The five Flying Tigers came back across and their roaring charge was
too much for the Japs. They dived and scattered, but, in getting clear,
they lost three more planes.

“No use trying to keep a tally!” Stan shouted.

He looked down and saw that O’Malley’s plane had burst into flame. He
watched the Irishman heave back his hatch cover and tumble out. For a
moment, he held his breath. Had O’Malley forgotten everything he had
been told? It seemed he had slept through the instruction period. His
parachute was billowing out and he was sailing through the air. But
that was not the worst of it. Two Japs were diving at him from out of
the blue.

Stan went over and down with his motor wide open. As he roared toward
the earth, a plane shot over his hatch cover and he had a glimpse of
Allison bending forward as though to push his plane faster.

“He grabbed the fastest crate,” Stan growled as he eased over and
chased Allison down the chute.

Before they could reach O’Malley, one of the Japanese had zoomed past
the dangling pilot and had opened up on him. Stan gritted his teeth and
pulled the P–40 up. He intended to get that fellow for the dirty trick
he had pulled. Furiously he twisted the gun button as the Jap came into
his windscreen.

His Brownings rattled a short burst and the Jap wobbled sickeningly.
His ship laid over and seemed to explode. Stan eased off and looped. As
he came down again, he saw that Allison was circling a parachute that
was settling into a field. Watching, he saw the parachute fold up. He
laid over and throttled down waiting for O’Malley to get up.

O’Malley did not move. He lay sprawled where he had hit. Stan gritted
his teeth and went up again, looking for more Japs. The sky was clear.
Not an enemy ship was in sight, except for a number of wrecks on the
ground.

“Flight Five, come in. Flight Five, come in,” headquarters began
calling.

“Flight Five, coming in. Allison speaking.” Stan waited. “One plane
lost. One pilot lost. Flight Five, coming in.”

They made rendezvous with Flight Four which was all intact and the five
P–40’s went in. They eased down and landed, sliding down the field with
rumbling motors.

Stan faced Allison as they climbed to the ground. Allison scowled
bleakly, then he drawled.

“The next time that wild Irisher will listen to instructions.”

“There won’t be any next time for him,” a pilot said. “You can’t make
that kind of flying stick out here. It might work against the Jerries,
but not in a ten-to-one fight with the Japs.”

“You might be right in your tactics,” Allison said with a sardonic
smile. “But you don’t know O’Malley.”

“I’m going to beat some sense into his head when he comes in,” Stan
growled.

He knew both he and Allison were just talking. He remembered clearly
the limp form lying in the rice paddy.

They stamped into the briefing shack and the captain looked them over,
frowning.

“You fellows lost a plane. Planes are valuable in this man’s country.
From now on, you’ll be one short in formation.” Then he grinned.
“Anybody have any idea how many were shot down?”

The boy from Texas spoke up, “I believe about twenty, sir.”

“We’ll make it twelve to be sure. If the ground boys pick up any more
wrecks than that, we’ll take credit.” The captain turned away.

Stan didn’t feel very good. He looked at Allison. “I’d like to see if
we can pick him up,” he said.

The captain turned on him. “You are under combat orders from daylight
until dark,” he snapped. “If you want to go poking out into the rice
fields after dark, that’s your business. The Brownies may come over
again at any moment.”

“Yes, sir,” Stan said.

Allison lowered his voice. “I’m afraid it wouldn’t do any good,” he
said. “I saw him land.”

“So did I,” Stan answered.

The captain spoke sharply and all of the pilots turned to face him.

“We have ten new planes and a new group of pilots coming in. The
whole flight will be under a new flight instructor. He will give you
instructions from now on. I’ll see you men over in the mess as soon as
you are relieved this afternoon.” He turned on his heel and walked away.

Having a new instructor meant nothing to Stan and Allison. They had not
been with the Flying Tigers long enough to know the man who was to be
relieved. They went out into the sunshine and seated themselves under a
tree to wait for action.

The Japs did not come back. Apparently their smashing defeat had slowed
their attacks. Stan kept watching the flat fields stretching away from
their base, hoping to see a lank figure coming in through the ground
haze.

An hour before sundown they were relieved and went to their barracks to
change to light uniforms. When they had changed, they walked over to
the mess.

A group of some fifty men milled around the room. They were laughing
and talking in small groups. Stan noticed at once that the men were not
acquainted with each other, except for small squads gathered together.
He and Allison stood watching. Suddenly Allison nudged Stan and said:

“There’s Nick Munson.”

Stan looked and saw Nick Munson in a uniform resplendent with braid. On
his shoulders was the insignia of a colonel.

“He sure got himself a rating in a hurry,” Stan said.

“And a good one. I say, old man, you don’t suppose he has a special
drag around here?” Allison’s lips curled into a smile.

At that moment Munson stepped to the front of the room and faced the
fliers.

“Men!” he shouted. “Give me your attention. Snap into it!”

The men faced him and silence filled the room. “I’m sorry Colonel
Fuller can’t be here. I’ll just have to introduce myself. I’m Nick
Munson, test pilot from the U.S.A. And I’m your new instructor.” He
let his eye rove over the men. His gaze flecked over Stan and Allison,
seemed to pause a moment, then it moved on.

“What do you think of that?” Stan muttered.

“I’m not saying,” Allison answered.

“Just keep your lips buttoned up and listen to me.” Nick glared
directly at Stan and Allison, though he could not have heard what they
said.

The men moved in closer and frowns creased many faces. The Flying
Tigers were easy-going, loose on discipline, deadly in the air. Many
of them were veterans of the China Army. They didn’t like this new
colonel’s attitude.

“I see some of you need a bit of military training,” Nick snapped. “I’m
here to kick some action out of you birds. And I’ll do it or hand in
my papers.”

The men stared at him, but no one said a word.

“I don’t want any more exhibitions like we had this afternoon. One
famous R.A.F. pilot who thought he knew all about flying had a plane
burned from under him and got himself shot up. You birds play this game
my way or you’ll stay on the ground.”

Stan felt his hands clench into fists.

Nick’s tone was sarcastic as he continued, “You may have been aces
where you came from, but that doesn’t mean a thing to me. Now get out
and when I give an order see that you carry it out to the letter. None
of you have any brains to do any thinking for yourselves. You do as you
are told.”

Nick Munson turned on his heel and strode out of the mess. Allison
faced Stan. The insolent mockery Stan knew so well was in his eyes.

“Imagine, old man,” he drawled, “you’re short on gray matter.”

“I may be short on brains, but I still pack a left hook and a right
cross. Nobody can insult O’Malley and get away with it. Not when he
isn’t here to speak for himself.” Stan’s chin was jutting out and his
eyes were blazing.

“I’d suggest waiting a bit. Colonel Munson may have some plans. Perhaps
he’s worried about the morale of this outfit,” Allison smiled his
cold smile. “Perhaps it’s too high. He might like to see a few fights
among the men. Possibly they might get the idea of quitting. This is a
voluntary job, you know.”

Stan laughed and his fists opened. “I believe you have something there.
Suppose we just circulate around and talk with a few of the men.”

As they talked with the irate fliers, Allison managed to slip in a word
regarding Munson’s possible intention to create unrest in their ranks.
When they left the mess hall, Allison saw that the men were beginning
to get his slant. He felt sure that they would not be goaded into
making trouble.

They were crossing the field when an officer came out of the briefing
shack. It was Nick Munson. He changed his course and approached them.
They snapped a salute. Munson looked them over.

“You fellows didn’t seem much impressed by my talk,” he said gruffly.

“We have heard a lot of speeches in this war,” Allison said very softly.

“I’m sorry that numskull Irishman isn’t with us any more. I should have
liked to have made a flier out of him,” Nick said.

“For a test pilot without combat stripes you have done well, Munson,”
Stan said and his eyes locked with those of the colonel.

“I may do even better,” Nick boasted. “This is the land of opportunity.”

Stan had suddenly lost interest in Munson. He was looking out across
the darkening rice fields. Three men were coming toward the shack. Two
walked ahead while another came on behind. Suddenly Stan laughed in
Nick’s face.

“You may get your chance to train O’Malley, after all,” he said.

O’Malley was striding across the field with two Japanese pilots in
front of him. He had lost his helmet and his flaming hair bushed out
on his head. He waved an arm to Stan and Allison and bellowed:

“Here I come with the reserves!”

He marched his prisoners up to Colonel Munson and halted them. They
were very meek. One of the men had a black eye that suggested he had
been hit by a fist. Nick stared at the Japs and then at O’Malley.

“You were reported killed,” he growled.

O’Malley looked Nick over, observed his rating and then answered
insolently:

“And you don’t like it because I wasn’t, eh, Colonel?”

“O’Malley, I outrank you. Speak in a respectful manner when you talk to
me.” Nick’s face was red and his eyes were blazing.

“Sure, an’ the Chinese are hard up for colonels,” O’Malley said. He
turned to Stan and then to Allison. “I’m thinkin’ I’ll go over an’ get
my general’s stripes as soon as I hand over these fellers.” He grinned
at his prisoners. “They are slippery ones, and don’t you ever ferget
that. My friend, here,” he nodded toward the man with the black eye,
“tried to stick a knife into me.”

“Hand over your prisoners and then report to me,” Munson ordered. “I’m
going to ground you for not following out instructions this afternoon.
You lost a valuable ship.”

“I don’t think I’ll like bein’ grounded,” O’Malley answered. “I’m
thinkin’ you and this Jap would look more alike if you had a black eye,
me foine friend.”

“Easy, Bill,” Allison warned and stepped to O’Malley’s side. “Don’t
play his game.”

Munson wheeled on Allison. “What’s that?” he demanded.

“You may outrank us, but just remember that this is a volunteer group,
and if they take it into their heads to knock those stripes off you
they can do it,” Allison answered coldly.

Munson stared hard at Allison, then he said, “No use in your getting
hot under the collar. I have to make this a military outfit.” He
turned to O’Malley. “I may not ground you, but you have to listen to
instructions. You have a lot to learn.” His voice was almost friendly.

“The Japs taught me all I’ll be needin’ to know from now on,” O’Malley
answered. “I’m a flyin’ snake from this day on. A hit-and-run driver.”

Munson turned and walked away. Stan and Allison went along with
O’Malley to deliver the prisoners.

“You sure hit the bull’s-eye when you cracked down on him,” Stan said
to Allison.

Allison frowned. “He gave himself away all right. Now we know how to
handle him.” He turned to O’Malley. “What made you lie there on the
ground as though you were dead? You had me fooled.”

“I figgered I’d better play possum. With the sky full o’ Japs, one of
them might have come down an’ peppered me,” O’Malley answered.

“And where did you meet your friends, the Japs?” Stan asked.

“I saw them crawl out of a bomber and I followed them,” O’Malley
sighed. “An’ did I work up an appetite walking all that way! Let’s get
rid of these birds and go eat.”

You may also like