let me light the candles
in your eyes again
let me downshift to third
and kick the ass out again
this time we can build Home
on the rocks
write detention for spitwads
curse words, no homework
paint me on a canvas
next to you
let’s buy leather jackets
and helmets so we don’t
lose our minds
my brain, my heart, my soul
are miscoded ones and zeroes
let’s make our secondary shades
our primary priority
Do not wane
Show me yourself fully
so my heart can shine on you
The first of the many episodes where Arnold almost finds out that Helga loves him. But the one thing that always bothered me about this episode is, if Arnold just read a little faster, maybe he would have.
…or maybe he did read it, and simply choose not to say anything? Oooo…
This is also the first episode for which I drew a bonus piece, since “shooting spitwads” also happened in “Helga on the Couch”:
On October 20th, 1944 200,000 US troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur landed on the Island of Leyte with the goal of capturing the Philippines. For the Japanese, the loss of the Philippines could sound the end of the empire as the Americans could cut of Japanese access to its oil fields in Indonesia. The remnants of the Japanese navy had few aircraft carriers, and depended heavily on their large, powerful battleships.
To defend the Philippines, Japanese Admiral Takeo Kurita (pictured above right) had a plan to put Japan’s battleships to use. Kurita planned to use Japans remaining carrier fleet as a diversion. As the carrier fleet steamed away from the Philippines it was hoped that the American 3rd Fleet under Admiral William Halsey would take chase, allowing a hidden fleet of battleships to sweep in and bombard the American landing forces at Leyte.
Halsey took Kurita’s bait hook line and sinker, steaming away from Leyte and leaving the remaining forces vulnerable. What was left was Taffy 3, a support squadron of 6 small escort carriers with 400 aircraft, 3 destroyers, and 3 destroyer escorts. The ships of Taffy 3 were their to provide naval and air support for the landing forces, as well as root out Japanese submarines. It was not meant for full scale naval combat against a Japanese war fleet. On October 25th, 1944 Kurita’s force of battleships appeared over the horizon, intent on destroying Taffy 3 and annihilating the landing force. Admiral Kirita’s force consisted of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers. At the head of the fleet was the Japanese battleship IJS Yamato, the largest battleship in history. Armed with nine 18 inch guns and with a displacement of 71,659 tons, the Yamato was larger than all the ships of Taffy 3 combined. The destroyers and destroyer escorts were armed with 5 inch guns, which were mere spitwad shooters against the armor of a Japanese battleship. They were, however, armed with torpedoes, which could certainly do some terrible damage to the Japanese fleet.
As soon as the Japanese fleet was within range they opened fire on Taffy 3. The embattled ships formed a defensive formation with the destroyers forming a protective circle around the escort carriers. The destroyers also laid down a smokescreen to make it harder for the Japanese to attack the fleet. Regardless, it was clear that the Japanese battleships could easily obliterate Taffy 3. The captain of the destroyer USS Johnson, Lt. Commander Ernest E. Evans (pictured above, left) knew that it was only a matter of time before the Japanese blew Taffy three out of the water. Sometimes in desperate situations, the only thing to do is fix bayonets and charge. Evans ordered the Johnston to break formation and attack the Japanese head on. Steaming in a zig zag pattern the Johnston avoided the fire of the Japanese heavy guns. When in gun range itself, the Johnston opened up with her five inch guns, targeting soft points on the Japanese ships such as the bridge and smaller gun turrets. When within torpedo range, the Johnston fired her spread of torpedoes. One of the torpedoes struck the heavy cruiser Kuomo, ripping off the ships entire bow and forcing it to retreat.
After the torpedo attack the Johnston continued firing her 5 inch guns, but soon she became the target of every ship in the Japanese fleet. After a hard pounding in which she was struck several times with heavy shells, the Johnston was forced to limp away from the action. The Johnston’s captain, Ernest Evans, was also badly wounded but remained in command. Inspired by the attack, Taffy 3’s commander, Admiral Clifton Sprague, ordered the rest of the destroyers and destroyer escorts to attack. The destroyers made their torpedo runs, which successfully sunk and damaged many ships, then engaged the battleships muzzle to muzzle with their puny 5 inch guns. In the meantime, hundreds of Taffy 3’s aircraft were scrambled. Meant for close ground support of the landing force, they were armed with light bombs, rockets, and machine guns, not the heavy armor piercing bombs needed to sink a Japanese battleship. Nevertheless the the fighters and bombers of Taffy 3 attacked, dropping bombs on the battleships bridges and strafing them with machine guns and rockets. When they ran out of ammo, the pilots continued the attack by making dry runs to distract the battleships. There are even reports of pilots firing at battleship decks with their pistols.
The last assault of the Japanese fleet was a torpedo run on Taffy 3’s escort carriers by the fleet’s 11 destroyers escorted by a light cruiser. With the other American destroyers occupied, there was nothing to stop them except for the battered USS Johnston. The Johnston opened fire once again with her 5-inch guns. Though a pitiful defense, it was enough to scare the destroyers into launching their torpedoes too early. Not one Japanese torpedo hit its mark. The Johnston paid the price, however, as the Japanese destroyers surrounded it, and pounded the ship until it was nothing more than a sinking hulk. 187 of the Johnston’s 327 men went down with her, among them Captain Ernest Evans, who remained at his post to the last.
After the devastating torpedo attack, the failed Japanese torpedo attack, and the continuing harassment by American aircraft, Admiral Kirita ordered the fleet to retreat. The ferocious attack against the Japanese fleet convinced Korita that he was up against an entire fleet formation rather than a small destroyer squadron. While plucky little Taffy 3 was the winner of the battle, it lost 2 destroyers, 2 escort carriers, and 1 escort destroyer. The Japanese fleet, however, had suffered a horrific bloody nose. 3 Japanese heavy cruisers were sunk, 3 heavy cruisers were damaged, 2 light cruisers were damaged, and 1 destroyer was damaged. Taffy 3 had indeed beaten Goliath. After the battle Taffy 3 was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation while Captain Ernest Evans was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Prompt: Bucky & improbable sleeping locations (old-timey fire escape campouts optional but appreciated?)!
Title: Escape Rating: G Summary: Steve is thinking of a place with a fire escape again.
When they were boys, Steve and his Ma had lived in an apartment which had one luxury: a fire escape. True, the ladder was rusted in the up position and if the building ever did catch fire it would probably go up too fast for the fire escape to matter, but his Ma had insisted. She’d seen Triangle Shirtwaist go up in 1911, and she wouldn’t rent anywhere without an escape route in case of fire.
For Steve and Bucky, safety was not a concern; they loved the fire escape for other reasons, like the pigeons that would roost in the steps in the spring, tame enough that they would let two little boys peer into the nest and study the eggs they laid. In the summer, when the heat was stifling, they’d go swimming in a nearby canal and come home, drag a bit of cardboard out onto the fire escape to pad out the sharp metal bars, and sleep under the nominal amount of stars in their undershirts and britches. Sometimes they’d get in spitwad wars with the girls and boys camping on the opposite building’s fire escapes. The heat eased Steve’s perpetual cough, and he and Bucky would lie in the dark and whisper back and forth about plans for the next day, about plans for when they were grown, about anything that came into their heads.
During the war, sometimes they’d lie out under the stars and talk about strategy, about politics, about what they’d do when the war was over. They slept where they could, but it never seemed to matter as long as Steve was there. Bucky loved to see him, giant, strong, healthy, sawing logs under a bush or in the loft of a barn or beneath a transport truck.
After the war – after all of his wars, when he came home with Sam and Steve – it felt like he could sleep anywhere except a bed. He slept on the kitchen floor, in the hallway in front of Steve’s bedroom door, in the bathtub, under the coffee table, sometimes in a corner of the couch. On the porch out back, or in the long grass on warm afternoons. He slept a lot, deep and hard, but his bed felt unsafe, too comfortable, too unstable. Sam said that was normal, that it happened to him and Steve, too.
Bucky wondered if anything would be normal ever again.
Steve found him one evening on the roof – he’d just clambered his way up, the same as Bucky had – lying under an unzipped sleeping bag he’d liberated from Sam’s garage.
“Mind if I pull up a slate?” Steve asked.
“Free country,” Bucky said with a slight smile.
“So I’m told,” Steve agreed, taking the small throw pillow Bucky offered him. The stars were coming out, and he tucked his hands under his head, gazing up at them. You could see quite a few, out here in the suburbs.
“I been thinking,” Steve said after a while. “I was thinking about getting a place, just you and me. Letting Sam have his space back.”
“Could be nice,” Bucky ventured.
“I was thinking maybe New York. Or somewhere closer in to DC. A walkup. Second or third floor, something old. Nice wallpaper, wood floors. Kinda place we’d have thought was a mansion back in the old days."
"You know I got no money, Steve.”
“I got more than I know what to do with,” Steve shrugged. “Get somewhere with a fire escape, we can sleep out like we used to when it gets hot in the summer.”
“Or just get somewhere with air conditioning.”
“It’s not the same.”
“No, guess not. I’d like somewhere like that, I think. Somewhere with lotsa light, you could start drawing again."
Steve smiled up at the stars. "If you could do anything in the world, what would you do, Buck?”
Bucky realized, slow and sleepy, that Steve was just chatting because he wanted to. That they were talking like they had as kids.
They were normal. Or what passed for, anyway, in their lives.
“I guess I’d go to college,” he said.
“Yeah. Get an engineering degree. Build things. Bridges and roads and things. Maybe robots like Stark.”
“You always liked the future."
"Can’t be worse than our past.”
“Oh, some parts of the past weren’t so bad,” Steve said dreamily. “But the future’s gonna be good too. Always was better when we were talking it over together. Everything seems possible. Nice to have someone who’d never laugh at your dreams, you know.”
Bucky closed his eyes, letting Steve’s voice roll over him, deeper than when they were kids but with the same soft drawl, the reassuring cadence that did seem to make even the wildest visions of the future seem like they were close enough to grasp. He wasn’t sure when he fell asleep, but he knew his dreams that night were rich and perfect – better than he’d had in a long time.
And when he woke the next morning to Sam’s voice yelling “You crazy motherfuckers slept on my goddamn roof!” he couldn’t help but laugh along with Steve.