Tempestuous

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic


The deceivingly peaceful trip across the south Pacific was over now and the marines have started their push towards their final destination. The last minutes of life for some of these men was
counting down, who would live through this thing?

Chapter 5 (v.1) - Over the side

Submitted: August 01, 2020

Reads: 8

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Submitted: August 01, 2020

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Chapter 5: Over the side.

 

 

Hank's concentration was broken by the sound of radial engines just behind him, and he turned to face the port side (left) of the ship. Hank watched as three Grumman F4F wildcats loaded with bombs flew overhead towards Guadalcanal. The three stubby fighters were painted a light blue, and as they passed overhead there wings tipped from side to side waving at the men below. The planes were still barely visible when they dropped the bombs they carried under their wings, and Hank could hear the explosions just past the treeline.

 

A black, and light brown cloud with flames and gray smoke filled the air above the Island.

 

Mount up you monkeys, mount up, come on boys hit the nets!” Mo Darsey yelled.

 

This was it! The time was 08:45, and the order had been given. The men started

to climb down the rope nets that were drooped down the sides of the Fuller to the Higgins boats below. It was the same way they had done it at Fiji, and Auckland but it felt much different, and besides there wasn't anyone at Fiji that was going to be shooting at you. Hank was in 3rd battalion and they were the first down the nets, as he climbed down he could see Chick above smiling as he yelled.

 

To those about to die I salute you.” as he threw out a salute to the men below.

 

Someday I'm gonna shoot your buddy Whit.” Mac said to Lonie, Mac always called him “Whit.”

 

If the nips don't get to him first.” Lonie replied.

 

The Navy coxswain pushed the throttle forward in the boat Hank was in, and it slowly moved from the side of the Fuller and out to sea. After a minute the boat turned and throttled back to wait for the other Higgins boats to take up position in a a line to his port side. It took just a bit for the boats to all get in line and it was probably the most disorganized maneuver that you would ever see.

 

 

 

 

During the practice maneuvers in Fiji lieutenant Adams had a young man from the coast guard piloting the Higgins boat that he and his men had been assigned to, and the young man assured Adams that he would land that boat right up on the beach if he had to so that the Marines could make it safely ashore. When the lieutenant climbed over the side and into the boat he realized that the driver was a Navy man, which could prove to be a problem the closer the marines got to the shore.

 

Once again the driver throttled up and away they went. The Fuller was four miles out, a little over 20,000 yards, and the scene was like something out of a travel brochure. The sky was a pale blue with patches of puffy south Pacific clouds scattered about, and the white sand beaches ahead looked so deceivingly peaceful!

 

They were headed into what their commanding officers called beach red. Corporal Bucky Clinger was known for being a good singer, and even started a quartet which Mo Darsey was also part of. At one point lieutenant Adams looked back over the men, He was worried that at this point some men might break under the pressure, Clinger could see the worry in Adam's eyes and as He looked towards the back of the boat Adams could see Bucky's lips moving, he was asking Scoop if he wanted the men to sing, and Adams simply replied “Yes.”

 

Soon the boys broke out in a melodious “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli.”

 

They ever make a movie about this, and the people back home would bust their buttons laughing at that one! Marine hymn in the middle of an amphibious landing...... You just can't make this stuff up.” Adams says to Thurman Miller who is crouched next to him with a half grin on his face.

 

Okay men keep your heads down, we're 8,000 yards out. It's gonna get hot real fast.” Miller said.

 

Just to show the type of men these were, Lieutenant Adams sat at the point of the boat watching the beach as they approached it, but he made his men keep their heads down below the armored belt that was called the “gunnel.” and, you just didn't have to wonder about his being a leader, it showed.

 

 

 

 

Hey Scoop, it's kind of strange that they haven't opened up with shore batteries. Don't you think?” Mac asked.

 

We ain't there yet Mac, we'll know soon enough. Coxswain, make sure that you get us in there as close as you can.” Adams shouted at the young, obviously unsettled boat driver.

 

The Coxswain shouted back with a few unmentionable phrases. “Look bub, I'll get you as far as I can safely, then you guys can get out and swim for all I care!”

 

Adams was infuriated, and he grabbed the coxswain's shirt with one hand, and pulled his Colt pistol out with the other sticking it in the young man's chest.

 

” Listen here you sorry devil, you're gonna get plugged if you don't..... '” Adams started to shout when he felt someone tapping on his shoulder. It was Miller, who just shook his head, and winked at the angered Lieutenant.

 

The driver called out the yards as they pressed on, “2000 yards men.” There were 50 men in Adams Higgins boat, and a half dozen boats and a half dozen more behind them. So that meant that the entire first wave only consisted of about 600, or 700 men. It wouldn't be until later in the morning and early afternoon that all three waves of the invasion (about 6,000 men) would arrive on Beach red.

 

About hundred yards out from the beach Adams felt a jolt, and believed that they had hit the beach, but as he started to roll over the top of the boat, he realized that they had hit a sandbar about 80 yards off the beachhead, and then he noticed that the boats motors were slowing down, and the boat drifted to about 75 yards from the shoreline, finally coming to a stop altogether.

 

What the devil are you doing!” Adams snapped at the coxswain.

 

That's it brother, as far as I go. I'm not getting my can shot off out here!” The young man shouted.

 

These men have a full load to carry, and there's still ten fathoms of water under us..... you'll kill every one of them you sorry devil!”

 

 

 

Lieutenant, I'll take care of it for you.” Miller says calmly, with a wink to boot.

 

Alright T.I. Make it snappy!”

 

Adams made his way back through the crowded boat to the front, and it wasn't long after that, that he could hear the motors throttle up again and the craft began to make waves. The lieutenant looked back and instead of the coxswain driving the boat Miller was in his place, and he couldn't see the Navy boy anywhere.

 

Overhead a mix of Grumman F-4F “Wildcats” and Douglas “Dauntless” dive bombers buzzed the beachhead just ahead of the waves of Marines. They were less than 20 yards away from the beach, but still there was nothing, no shore batteries, no rifle fire, nothing, just the thumping of the guys heart next to you, and the sound of the waves slapping against the side of the boat.

 

The landing was going to be bad enough, but the fact that these early Higgins boats were enclosed made it tough to get out with any speed. Later boats were fitted with a ramp that would drop when they hit the beach, but like I said this was a first, and the boys had to make do with what they had!

 

Okay boys, bottoms up were gonna hit. When we hit, get out fast and don't waste any time! Hit the beach and get on your bellies, those eight balls are gonna have machine guns set up and they'll cut you down if you don't take cover fast.” Adams told his men.

 

The boat came to a stop with a great jolt, and men to the left and right stepped up on the rail of the boats led by Adams on one side and Miller on the other. They hopped into the ankle deep water running as fast as they could. The men looked like a bunch of scared jackrabbits running from the farmers dog, except these jackrabbits were running towards the frying pan!

 

The white sandy beach was lined now with Marines shuffling to get down as low as they could. It seemed like they laid there for hours, though it was only a matter of minutes. It was quiet, and calm, but still each man lay there almost motionless with his weapon pointed towards the trees and tall grass ahead just waiting for the onslaught that had been described.

 

 

 

Sergeant, where are these monkeys at?” Dick Tweedie asked.

 

Pipe down Tweed!” Adams snapped.

 

There wasn't a sound aside from the crash of the waves on the beach behind, and the gentle breeze blowing through the grass ahead of them. It was so peaceful that it sent chills down your back.

 

Hey lieutenant, are you sure those intelligence jokers sent us to the right place, I bet we're back in Fiji.” Hank exclaimed.

 

Get your head down! Fool kid's gonna get his head blowed off.”

 

Scoop, I hate to tell you this but second wave is about a 1000 yards out, and it won't take them long to get here. You think we outta move in further?” Miller said.

 

That's a good idea..... Okay boys, lets move up to the grass. Form a skirmish line, and get ready to hit em when they attack!” Adams said.

 

Fat chance with just one unit of fire!” Sergeant Jim McEnery replied.

 

Delay that racket, lets go Mac.”

 

Adams started off by crawling towards the tall grass beyond the beach. Of all the Co's (Commanding officers) in this outfit Adams was one of the most respected. He was one of those leaders who went with you, he ate what his men ate, and he lived as his men lived. A leader who actually led his men and worked along side of them. The entire division was that way, and everyone of the men in command, were a man to follow.

 

The men stopped just inside of the tall grass and again not a shot was fired. The same eerie silence overtook the men here as before on the beach, but each man lay ready, and fully anticipated the enemy's fierce resistance any second.

 

It's too stinking quiet Lon..... It's unnatural!” Hank said.

 

These nips are tricky boys, keep your eyes open and watch the trees too, just in case they have snipers.” Sergeant Miller said.

 

Adams.” Scoop could hear Colonel Hanks calling him.

 

Yes.” Adams refrained from saying yes sir, for the sake of Colonel Hank's safety.

If an enemy snipers were close enough to hear, Hanks would be an opportune target.

 

Combat group B is gonna move ahead past our skirmish line. About five miles south, and they'll secure the Grassy knoll, here. They'll also attempt to set up a defensive position on the high ground here at Mount Austen if the enemy doesn't stop them before that.

 

1st regiment will move in to secure the airstrip..... I hope! After they're on their way, you'll lead with K company up to the west bank of the Tenaru river, and hold tight.” Hanks pointed out the route that Adams and his men were to take on a map that he was holding.

 

Will do.” Adams responded, and then turned to squad leaders Miller, and Darsey who were awaiting his orders.

 

Well, here we go.” Miller said.

 

Ya, We'll head em west towards the Tenaru delta, and I'm sure we'll get the order to cross later on today. Okay Mo move em out.” Adams ordered.

 

Sure thing Scoop. Okay you men fall in, Let's move out!” Darsey said in a booming voice.

 

Mo, come here.” Adams ordered Darsey.

 

We're gonna move down the coast like we said, but keep your eyes open, I don't want be moving so fast that we get caught out here with our pants down! First Marine regiment is heading through the jungle, to the south, in an attempt to reach Mount Austen. They'll parallel us heading towards the airfield. ” Adams pointed on his map as he explained.

 

 

 

 

 

Okay Scoop, and Scoop...... keep your head down, I'm sure there's gonna be a ton of Jap snipers all over the place the further in we go.” Darsey, again, was the Platoon sergeant for 1st platoon, and a lot of responsibility rested on his shoulders, but only because Adams knew he could carry the load.

 

Thanks Mo, I'll try not to dish out too many orders.” Adams smacked Darsey on top of the helmet as he turned to walk away.

 

K company's 1st, and 3rd Platoons which made up Combat group A made their way west along the coast line towards the Tenaru, and Ilu rivers, the Ilu was also referred to as alligator creek depending on who you asked. The way was slow going and Group A only made it as far as Alligator creek. Combat group B headed south, and inland only to get bogged down in a thick impenetrable jungle, and would dig in for the night just short of the days objective.

 

Adams men did come across pockets of Japanese soldiers who were dug in, and would pop out of covered foxholes as they saw the Marines coming. The result was disastrous for the hidden Japanese as the men of K company were understandably quick on the trigger!

 

Summers, Tweedie, take point.” Darsey ordered.

 

Right.” Ruby Summers replied.

 

Where are these jerks Tweedie?” Summers asks.

 

Heck if I know, just watch the trees!”

 

Trees? What if I told you the ground was a moving!” Summers said pointing the barrel of his rifle at a patch of thick grass that looked out of place.

 

Just as Ruby said that, the patch of grass popped open and a man in a brown uniform jumped up with a rifle in his hand.

 

Look out Dick!” Summers bumped Tweedie out of the way and fired from the hip killing the hidden sniper with his first shot.

 

 

 

Search him, and watch out for boobie traps.” Sergeant McEnery said.

 

What's the dope guys?” Darsey came from the trail behind followed by Crumbacker, and Hank.

 

Them snipers ain't just in the trees Mo. They're underground too, tell everyone to look where they're stepping!”

 

Right. Crumbacker, run back and pass the word to watch the ground too, snipers

are dug in.” Mo ordered.

 

There would be about a dozen such incidents along the path to the Ilu river. Mean while back at beach red, General Vandegrift Was fit to be tied. He wasn't pleased with the progress they had made. He was also furious about the “tortoise-like” job that the navy was doing at beach red unloading the Marines much needed supplies.

 

There was way too much to unload, and not enough work being done; Of course within hours of the landing, Japanese aircraft began to strike at the Navy transports that had been unloading at the beach head, and they were forced out into the channel between Guadalcanal and Savo Island which made them sitting ducks for attacking enemy aircraft.

 

By the end of the day on August 7, the 3rd, and 1st battalions made camp just a 1,000 yards from the northern end of the airstrip, and with sunlight fading fast lieutenant Adams, and Captain's Patterson made the decision to dig in for the night.

 

Hey Mo, call the squad leaders over here.”

 

Sure thing Scoop.” Darsey replied

 

Mac, T.I. over here gather round.” Darsey called in a low voice as he passed each of the Squad leaders.

 

Adams had a seat on a fallen tree looking over a rough sketched map of Guadalcanal as he waited for the men to show up.

 

 

 

 

Okay fellas come in close, and have a seat. Lets make sure your men get dug in and get some rest while they can. I don't know what the dickens the nips are waiting for but it's a sure thing that we're gonna step in something, and soon. Set a watch, and for Pete's sake Mo, tell Ruby not to snore! If there's a Jap within twenty miles they'll know where we're at.” The men laughed but they all knew it was true, Ruby Summers could wake the dead with his snoring..

 

What are we gonna do about some chow for these guys Scoop? They haven't ate

since four this morning, and we didn't bring any rations ashore with us. These guys are gonna give away their positions just by their stomachs growling!” McEnery exclaimed.

 

I'm afraid there isn't anything we can do about that tonight Mac! This first night ain't gonna be too pretty even if the Japs don't strike, this place is going to be black as a coal mine. Everyone's on edge, and we could very well be attacked tonight, I just don't know.” Adams explains.

 

Well do we just sit here, or do we move on?” Mac asked.

 

Mac, I just don't know, we should hear from Colonel Hanks pretty soon. I'll keep you advised, but for now have the men dig in, and hang tight.”

 

Alright Scoop, your word's good enough for me.” Mac replied.

 

Emil, you and Dickson have first watch, Whittington, and Chick take second, Hank, you and Jesse third. Now come on and hop to it.”

 

The tired marines settled into their foxholes for the night, and it was mostly quiet, you could still faintly hear the waves on the shore in the distance, and the breeze in the trees. As the tropical sun faded into the horizon there was a tension so thick that you could have cut it with a knife.

 

The men were two in a hole and Hank didn't waste anytime drifting off, Marvalet was a bit restless and still pretty jumpy when it came to strange sounds. Lonie sat awake while Chick closed his eyes. Neither one would sleep much tonight.

 

You asleep Chick?”

 

 

How in blazes is a guy supposed to sleep in this place! Can't see anything, all I can do is hear, and smell..... A lot of good that is!”

 

What did you enlist for?” Hank asked.

 

I kept seeing those recruiters on the sidewalk in front of the recruiting depot, and ever one of them had a group of dames surrounding em. I figured it was a way to get my black book filled.”

 

Did you get it filled?”

 

I threw it away after boot camp! I just got one taker.”

 

One's better than none! Who was she?”

 

Delmore's sister..... Bertha.”

 

Not your type huh!”

 

Oh brother what a face! Hey if old Archie put her out here instead of us, this island would be secure in thirty seconds! I'm telling you chum, she had more rolls than a Dolly Madison!”

 

You got short changed didn't you...... On the other hand you'll probably get lots of takers from the native girls here.”

 

Native girl! You mean to tell me they have sun tanned south pacific girls in this sweat hole?”

 

Ya sure, just don't go home to have supper with the folks.”

 

Why's that?”

 

They're Cannibals!” Lonie says with a big smile that Chick can't see, but he knew was there.

 

Sheesh! I ain't nobodies main course.”

 

 

What are you planning on doing when we get back Lonie?” Crumbacker asked.

 

Not really sure. To tell you the truth, I figure any of us can buy the farm at anytime, and I guess its better to take care of today, and worry about tomorrow when it's here. Besides Crum, that's about ten times you've asked me that.”

 

Sorry, and to think of all those times I listened to your problems!”

 

What problems? I ain't got my dirty clothes hanging out on the line!”

 

Well, I'm thinking about a cold one, and a room full of pretty girls. And a thick burned steak when I get back.” Chick said with a big smile on his face.

Well, you can wish in one hand!” Lonie started to say, but was interrupted when chick broke in.

 

Ya ya ya..... which one gets full faster, you've been saying that since we left Wellington!” Chick replies.

 

Why don't you be honest and admit it big man, you're scared to death too!” Lonie says pulling his helmet down over his face.

 

Too! You're scared too Lon?”

 

Anyone that says he ain't is lying! Get some sleep.”

 

The night went on, and the hours seemed to crawl by almost like the Lord grabbed time by the back of the pants and was holding it! The night seemed quiet until ten thirty that is, when the trees came alive with a squealing sound that shot terror through the already uncertain minds of young Marines all down the line.

 

All at once you could hear five, then ten, then what seemed like a hundred rifles going off at once. The young sentries were a little rattled and jumped at every little noise that came along, including the colorful macaws that filled the trees around them.

 

I wonder how many of them poor birds just died in that led storm!” Dick Tweedie said, sarcastically.

 

 

What was worse, is that the night itself seemed to surround you like a cloud that reigned down sheer terror. Many of the marines set up all night and said that it felt like the dark was reaching out for you, like the hands of some terrible unseen monster were there at your throat ready to drain the life from you.

 

It was so tense that some men couldn't even breath because they were afraid that someone was there just beyond their limited sight, ready to kill them.

 

For other Marines the experience was much more personal. William “Ramon” Jarvis leaned on the edge of his foxhole with his head rested on his arms.

 

Hey Willie.” Jarvis heard a voice calling to him.

 

Ya, who is it?” he asked cautiously with his bayonet pointed into the darkness.

 

You got a butt? Its Tweedie.” he said.

 

Oh ya, here.” Jarvis handed the man a lucky strike, though he couldn't see the man that was right in front of him, although he had called him by name, and the voice sounded close; Jarvis wasn't completely convinced that the man was, who he'd said he was, but there was nothing that could be done about it.

 

What do you need a butt for you joker? You can't smoke it out here!” Jarvis said to himself as he listened to who he thought was Tweedie crawl off.

A few foxholes over Hank woke for a moment after the sentries first nervous shots

and just sat quietly in his foxhole. As Hank sat there staring into the dark he could hear, or he thought that he could hear voices whispering just outside of his foxhole, and he slowly popped his head up.

 

Hank knew he would see nothing, but he was effectively spell bound. He knew he could hear voices, and soon after that he thought he heard someone walk close by. His eyes strained in the darkness, but he couldn't see his hand in front of his face, but he knew someone was there like a blind man can sense an obstruction in his path.

 

 

 

 

 

Hank could sense something, or someone just inches away. The darkness was so thick that Hank felt as though it a thousand fingers were grabbing onto him.

The night grew so strangely quit that one could hear a pin drop. It wasn't a pin hitting the ground that Hank thought he heard now though, it was a heartbeat, and a warmth from close by and at that point Hank slowly slid down into his hole, shaking.

 

He grabbed the handle of a butcher knife that he had found aboard the Fuller, and ever so slowly took it from its make shift sheath so not to make any noise. Hank sat there until his exhaustion overtook his fears and he drifted off to sleep, too tired to worry about death if it had in fact come to him, it would have to wake Hank up first.

 

Then again at 03:30 the whole outfit was awaken by the crack of a rifle shot going off. It was a shot that would wake Captain L.A. Malory from a dead sleep.

 

What the devil are you shooting at son?” Captain Malory flew out of a pup tent and started to chew out a young PFC (Private first class) that was on sentry duty nearby.

 

Sorry sir, but I thought I saw something move in those bushes over there.” The young man explained.

 

I see, and did you go through boot camp to be a Marine or are you just a boy scout? Next time use your bayonet, and go after them.”

 

Aye sir.” The boy said shaking as he saluted.

 

Carry on son, but don't shoot unless you're sure it's the enemy. These boys need their sleep. Oh, and son, don't salute me out here!” Captain Malory pats the the boy on the shoulder before walking back to his tent, he could barely see Captain “Pat” Patterson laying on his side in the

cramped tent watching the whole thing.

 

Don't be too rough on the kid Lawrence, he's only nervous, just like the rest of us.” Pat said.

 

 

 

 

He's a good boy Pat, but if he's gonna live through this thing we gotta be tough on him.” Malory snapped.

 

Then pat him on the back, huh? You're just a big softy Lawrence.”

 

Oh dry up would you.” Lawrence said with a grin.

 

Hanks watch was finally over, and once again Hank found himself in a sleepless state in which he could only think of his past. He thought about the things that he could have changed in life. Hank braved the darkness around him again as he stood up leaning on the edge of his foxhole. He thought to himself, “What am I doing here?” and again his eyes strained into the darkness.

 

Hank thought he heard a voice, but wasn't certain of it. Then out of the darkness a dim light came towards him from the jungles. It was a man, walking through the dense jungles like he owned the place! The man walked towards Hank, but he didn't say a word, and Hank felt as though he were on the verge of insanity when the man began to speak to him.

 

Boy what are you doing here? You ought to have had better sense than this. You're gonna get killed. Then boy, your soul will belong to me....... forever.”

 

Who are you!” Hank shouted in a loud voice.

 

Well boy, who the devil do you think I am?” The man began to laugh in a wild sinister way.

 

I'm gonna shoot!”

 

Go ahead! Shoot if you like; It won't bother me my friend!”

Hanks conversation was interrupted by Sergeant McEnery's muffled voice snapping at him.

 

Caldwell you knucklehead, shut up. You'll bring every Jap on the Island down on us!” Mac scolded Hank.

 

 

 

 

In a flash the man, if that is in fact what he was, had disappeared into thin air! Hank suddenly realized he had to have been dreaming, he was so exhausted at that point that his lifeless body slid down to the bottom of his foxhole again and he fell asleep.

 

August 8, 1942 The men were up and around before the sun came up, and a cool wind filled trees around them. Not much was said this morning, and nerves were still on edge as they left the area. 1st, and 3rd Platoons moved ahead another eight or so miles west to Lunga point where they turned south to meet up with the 1st Marine regiment. Hank's outfit, was ordered by Colonel Hanks to make a recon patrol just west of the Lunga point area after helping to secure what would later be called Henderson field, a name given to honor a fallen Marine. The attempt to reach the airfield earlier was hindered by maps that were way off on the location, and the distance of many island landmarks.

 

K company moved into the area just west of Lunga point called Kukum and would have set up camp for the night, but word came down from Captain Patterson that K company would move south along the Matanikau river and set up on a high ridge overlooking the west side of the river. Kukum was a mix of beach, plains, and coconut groves that stretched out for miles. The grasslands gave way to thick jungles that let in just enough light to follow the path, and once on the ridge the men dug in once again.

 

You could see quite away off from the top of the ridge, one direction was the hilly south land covered with trees, and the other direction was a clear view of the sea to the north, and Savo Island just beyond that. As the men of K company talked about the events of the prior nights, Jarvis realized that he was right about not being approached by Tweedie the night before for cigarettes.

 

Hey Jarvis, you got a butts?” Tweedie asked.

 

What.... I've given you enough of my cigarettes already. I gave you some yesterday, and again last night!” Jarvis exclaimed.

 

Last night? I wasn't smoking last night, believe me!” Tweedie said.

 

Then who? Someone called out to me and said it's Tweedie, give me some butts.”

Both men grasped their rifles and looked around.

 

 

Okay, That's enough to give you the Willy's!” Dick said.

 

Sure thing Tweedie.” Jarvis replied.

 

Later on the men had sat down to eat a meal that consisted of some rice, and fish that the fleeing Japanese had left behind. It was somewhat filling, though inhabited with squirming white weevils. It was food, and seeing that the men hadn't ate since four in the morning on the 7th, they had to overlook the condition of the rice.

 

Hey TI, how's your rice?” Mo asked.

 

It's okay! Why?” Miller replied in his deep Virginia accent.

 

It's kinda hard to catch.” Darsey said as he held his G.I. Issued spoon up to his face watching the rice as it moved about.

 

Ya those weevils are quick little devils.” Miller noted as he flicked a weevil off of his bowl.

 

I think I'll wait for the main coarse! Hey Whit didn't you bring up some of those coconuts from the point?”

 

Sure, over there. Whats the matter, lose your appetite?” Lonie pointed to a stack of crates that they had been using to store supplies in.

 

Well, I'm full up on protein right now so I'll pass on the lice.... I mean rice.” Darsey said.

 

Gonna skip straight to dessert huh?” Lonie joked.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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