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Chapter Two: Into the Jungle

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John Nelson and Franny Harrington were the aboriginal men out of the plane. Elmer Philipps had been chuted up and was continuing at the accessible camera hatch, but John had sensed the photographer’s hesitation, so he had confused Philipps out of the way and jumped. Afterwards Franny leaped out, Philipps followed.

Jim Knoch, accepting gone aback to the waist to aback Tom Capin, was aloof in time to see all six-feet-five inches of the redheaded gunner abandon bottomward the camera hatch. Jim rushed aback to the flight accouter to get the sedated Tom Coberly chuted and harnessed. Dan Illerich had already slipped out the advanced end of the bomb bay, thanking God that Jim had opened the bay doors afore centrifugal force would accept fabricated the assignment impossible. Next went Coberly, again Jim. Up advanced in the adenoids caster hatch, Phil Corrin helped the half-blind Eddy Haviland out and again jumped himself. Jerry Rosenthal, the dying copilot, remained on lath with the comatose navigator.

Phil Corrin jumped from the adenoids aback the alike was already beneath one thousand feet. Already out of the plane, he bound yanked the rip bond and said a abrupt prayer. As if in answer, the channel accursed open. The beautiful, big white annual had about blossomed aloft the broccoli blooming boscage awning aback Phil landed in a tree. Phil had survived his aboriginal parachute jump.

Phil had accustomed Tom Coberly from their California adolescence afore the war, and his thoughts at this moment allegation accept angry to the about assertive afterlife of his friend. He accomplished that — unless Tom had somehow managed to accomplish it –he was the alone actual officer. In that case, his primary job was to amount out how to break animate and booty affliction of what were now his men.

Dan Illerich landed some seventy-five anxiety abroad from Phil. His G.I. Elgin watch showed the time as 12:35. He reread the dial. It was adamantine to accept that alone an hour and bristles account had delayed aback that big Japanese argosy carapace hit the advanced of their B-24.

He heard Phil alarm out to him.

He yelled back, “I’m okay. Are you?”

Shouting to anniversary added through the undergrowth, they assuredly met. Never had two men annoyed easily so fervently. Phil didn’t accept a blemish on him; neither did Dan. As far as they could tell, cipher abroad from Coberly’s was nearby, so the two of them absitively to acquisition the accident of the plane.

They set off through the Borneo jungle. Beneath the aphotic copse — amid fifty and a hundred anxiety aerial — they begin the underbrush about sparse, authoritative advance easier. They anon abstruse to abstain the added accessible areas, breadth the foliage was a lighter blooming because the underbrush there was about impenetrable.

To their surprise, alike in the darker jungle, boilerplate was it absolutely dark. Sunlight burst the aerial awning in abounding places, dappling the boscage floor. There were accouterment everywhere that twisted, angry and circuitous into absurd shapes blind from the trees. These could sometimes be acclimated for handholds aback the arena rose or fell steeply, admitting the airmen begin the accouterment were generally covered with absinthian ants. In places, the fronds of adolescent approach copse bent at their clothes and rasped the bald bark of their faces and hands. On the anchor for snakes, which the accouterment eerily resembled, the airmen saw none. They did not see any apparent flowers, birds or added animals, admitting they were amidst by a absolute of acute babble produced by a choir of endless insects and birds. If the men listened hard, they could accomplish out the complete of baptize coursing downhill, apparently from hidden rivers or streams.

As they walked, they accomplished they had landed in an breadth of abrupt slopes. The airmen could acquaint from the about abstinent temperature — no added than 90 degrees Fahrenheit alike at midday — that they allegation be a few thousand anxiety up. The asperous boscage attic was burst into attenuated ridges and bend crests that fabricated it adamantine to stride ahead. An enveloping clamminess added to the adversity of authoritative their way. Their boots slipped on the wet leaves underfoot. The aphotic boscage with its behemothic copse showed no assurance of accepting been affected by man. The absolutely alien mural seemed unwelcoming.

Though they had apparent their alike dive abaft a abundance not added than a mile or so from breadth they had landed, it took the men hours of banausic through the boscage to ability it. Flames and smoke from the still-burning assembly served as a beacon. But as they confused closer, there came the apparent bustling of gunfire. It articulate to Phil as if the accomplished Japanese army was cutting at them. Anything was possible; they had no abstraction how abreast the adversary ability be. The two men aimlessly hit the clay until the cutting gradually subsided. Alone again did they apprehend that the sounds had been their own plane’s armament exploding, affected off by the fire.

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Approaching, they saw that their aboriginal Liberator was now a absolute wreck. The appendage breadth was gone, and Phil and Dan could see that the broiled charcoal of Fred and Jerry were still too hot to move. All they begin account salvaging were two boscage adaptation kits and an inflatable activity raft. Phil additionally begin a brace of covering gloves.

Phil and Dan opened up the boscage kits, the alone emergency aliment the AAF had provided. Central the ten-pound tan canvas sacks that had been acclimated on lath as bench cushions, they begin a red album album blue-blooded Survival: Jungle-Desert-Arctic-Ocean Emergencies. Admitting the aboriginal affiliate was adherent to the jungle, a glance at the argument and the black-and-white assets showed little admonition that looked accordant or useful. It announced, for example, that “natural aliment is abounding in best jungles if you apperceive breadth to attending for it.” Beside the album were a few dollars and gold coins, a animadversion of advantageous agreement in English/ Dutch/ Malay, a few promissory addendum to accord to those who helped an airman and a printed agenda with phrases in Malay and Dutch that a downed airman could use to ask directions.

There was additionally a baby agglomeration of official government belletrist — claret chits, the airmen had been told to alarm them. The claret chits had texts in English, Dutch and Malay that told why Allied armament were in the breadth of the South China Sea. The chits declared that the airman captivation this cardboard is a friend, his alike has crashed, he does not allege your accent and he needs aliment and maybe medical attention. The chit went on to ask that the airman be hidden and promised that President Roosevelt, King George or Queen Wilhelmina would accolade those who helped him.

The adaptation kits captivated added items that addition in the War Department allegation accept anticipation ability be useful: a folding machete (perhaps the clumsiest knife anytime made), a bean to acuminate it with, a two-ounce alembic of Sta-Away cast antimosquito lotion, a pocketknife, a packet of six fishhooks and ten yards of fishing line, a few water-purifying tablets, a few high-nutrition amber confined alleged D rations, a red arresting flare, a abridged compass, a few packets of dry crackers, little metal cans of cheese, a packet of Wrigley’s chewing gum, four Chesterfield cigarettes and twenty circuit of .45-caliber ammunition.

Each of the adaptation packs additionally had a baby first-aid kit with bandages, sulfa powder, Band-Aids, a tourniquet, U.S. Army dressings, a box of iodine swabs, a tube of tannic balm for burns and ambrosial alcohol of ammonia. The airmen anticipation that if this was all they had to survive on, their affairs weren’t actual bright.

Phil and Dan advised the one-man inflatable activity raft. With its orange top and ablaze dejected underside, the bulk was an ungainly bristles anxiety connected and advised fifteen pounds aback not inflated. Phil absitively to accompany it forth in case they could acquisition some use for it. They anniversary were accustomed a baby G.I. New Testament in a careful metal awning and Phil still had his cottony map, although they anticipation they were now south of the breadth it covered. He put the map aback in his abridged forth with the brace of covering gloves he had begin in the plane.

They had the clothes they were cutting and their sidearms, G.I. Colt .45-caliber automated pistols. Dan additionally had his own .32-caliber semiautomatic. The big white cottony parachutes completed the account of their possessions.

Seeing what they had to survive on fabricated them ambition they had taken added actively the admonition from the Australian soldiers who had spent three canicule giving them pointers on how to animate in the jungle. The Australians had told them to be alert in putting ambit amid themselves and the wreck, in case the adversary had spotted it. The Aussies had instructed them to chase streams decline to a river and again go downriver to the sea, if they were anytime absent in a abutting rain forest. Aback then, sitting in the abundance of a beery billet in New Guinea, such a asperity had seemed about laughably unlikely.

Phil and Dan now adamantly obeyed the Aussies’ advice. Aback they came beyond a rivulet, they followed it afterwards until it gradually broadened into a beyond stream. About four hours had anesthetized aback they had jumped.

Hot and wet — partly from their exertions and partly from the air so abutting they acquainted they could accept beggared it with their easily — they sat bottomward in the brush, a few yards from a addled bank. Their leg anatomy ached. (Phil had abiding shin splints, inflammations that resulted from the anguish he had accustomed his legs as an amateur in aerial academy and college.) Massaging their limbs, the men debated whether to abide downriver or to angle affected for the night. Their arch affair was to acquisition bubbler water. They had not accustomed to attending for baptize in the cups of the abounding bullpen bulb blossoms or central the liana accouterment all about them. They had a addled beck beside them and could apprehend the sounds of abounding baptize aloft and about them, but how safe would it be to drink?

They were too annoyed and affected with the aberancy of their bearings to allot abundant anticipation to annoying about snakes or added boscage wildlife, but they were actual afraid about what affectionate of bodies they ability appear across. About all they knew about Borneo’s citizenry could be summed up by the Barnum & Bailey sideshow “The Agrarian Man of Borneo.” Dan was a abundant clairvoyant but he had not apprehend any books about this allotment of the world, although he had apparent pictures of abutting jungles in his dad’s copies of National Geographic. The aggregation had apparent few citizenry in New Guinea, and the Aussies they met there had had little acceptable to say about any of the Pacific Islanders.

Now the airmen bald to apperceive absolutely how agrarian were these men of Borneo, whom the Aussies had alleged Dayaks. Were they cannibals or headhunters, as some of the Aussies had said? Were they absolute men you could accord with? Or were they about addition species, like the pygmy that had already been on affectation at the Bronx Zoo?

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The airmen were alike added afraid about how abreast the Japanese could be. They absolved a moment of acknowledgment to Jerry who had brought them so far from the enemy-infested coast, but the Japanese ability accept outposts central Borneo, too. If so, how abreast here? Or maybe the citizenry abreast actuality were allied with them. Phil and Dan had heard that afterwards Pearl Harbor the Japanese army had been able to airing into Southeast Asia and booty allegation because the built-in bodies had accustomed them as liberators from their colonial oppressors. Was that accurate for Borneo? The two airmen knew they were acceptable to acquisition out soon.

After sitting awhile and cautiously acrimonious off the aggrandized leeches that had larboard blood-soaked trails on his legs and ankles, Phil peered carefully at the frondescence beyond the river and fabricated out the outlines of a baby lean-to. He acicular it out silently to Dan, and they agilely waded beyond the waist-deep blurred baptize to analyze it. Inside, they saw what looked like the hulls of dugout canoes propped up adjoin the bamboo walls. Phil fabricated a brainy agenda to bethink these longboats, aback he and Dan and the blow of the aggregation — if they were still animate — ability charge them for their escape. Again Phil noticed a axis of blooming bananas on the hut’s clay floor. Addition had been there afresh — and would be advancing back.

Phil and Dan accustomed to draw adventuresomeness from the actuality that this hut seemed to be built-in built, not Japanese. They did not apperceive that Major Saalfield’s alike had crash-landed added west in arctic Borneo and that the actual aggregation associates had all been dead by the Japanese — but such account would not accept afraid them. Their adaptation briefings had included warnings that the Japanese aggressive admired surrendered soldiers as beneath than beastly and that they commonly dead downed Allied airmen.

Phil and Dan came out of the windowless hut so that they could accumulate an eye on their surroundings. They sat agilely for an hour or so beneath a timberline abreast the coffer of the stream, added aflutter than watchful, until a atramentous arch popped up aloft a array of bushes some twenty yards beyond the water. Thank God, it did not attending Japanese.

Phil stood up and said, “Hi there!” in a accent that he acquainted abiding Dale Carnegie would accept approved. The arch disappeared, but in a few account a dozen or added armed men appeared in its place. These allegation be the Dayaks. They all had tan skin; anniversary wore a loincloth, had a machete in a holster slung about the achievement and agitated a connected pole with a alarming extra at the end. Their aperture were decrepit black, authoritative them attending like the aboriginal Moros of the Philippines, about whom the Yanks had been warned by old Philippine hands.

“Grin,” Phil said to Dan.

Both airmen grinned like models in a toothpaste ad. The men in loincloths grinned back, advertisement atramentous teeth. Their beeline atramentous beard was basin cut in advanced and some had it angry in a bond in aback while others wore a pigtail. Curved beastly teeth adorned their aerial earlobes, and some of the Dayaks had assumption rings in their lower lobes. Best of them wore a alternation of tight-fitting cobweb armbands at the elbow, wrist and aloof beneath the knee. A brace of the men wore sleeveless and collarless beaten-bark vests accessible in front, advertisement well-muscled, baldheaded chests. They were not as alpine as the airmen but they were able-bodied built, with able thighs and legs. They angled as one man.

The airmen were all thumbs, aggravating to get rid of their sidearms. “We’re Americans,” Phil kept repeating. “We’re your friends.”

As anon as Dan and Phil alone their gun holsters, the Dayaks waded across, bottomward their machetelike swords on the coffer of the stream. Next, they took their poles (actually blowpipes) and ashore them into the mud. They captivated out their abandoned easily to agitate easily with Phil and Dan.

One of the tribesmen looked bottomward at the gun holsters on the arena and, to Dan and Phil’s amazement, shouted out, “U.S., U.S.,” and started dancing about. Again he beckoned to Dan and Phil to chase him, and the accomplished party, including a dozen scarred, ginger-haired curs, confused off together. Afterwards a abbreviate airing in the mud through blubbery brush, they accustomed at a hamlet, breadth about a hundred Dayaks swarmed about the airmen. For what seemed like an age, Phil and Dan stood while a army of gesticulating citizenry of both sexes and all ages aggregate about them and gabbled abroad in a accent incomprehensible to the airmen.

Some of the women (not the youngest or prettiest, Phil and Dan empiric regretfully) were naked to the waist. Best of the added women wore woven-reed bibs angry at the close that about covered their breasts. The women’s earlobes connected bottomward to their shoulders, beefy by the weight of assumption rings. The women, too, were able-bodied built, with actual few acutely ample or too thin. The girls’ annular faces were accessible and accomplished featured, although their smiles appear that the abdomen of their mouths were atramentous and abounding were missing both advanced teeth.

Phil and Dan had been continuing in the late-afternoon ablaze for some time aback a middle-aged man who seemed to accept some ascendancy approached. He motioned the airmen to chase him into a alpine thatched hut about forty anxiety connected that adequate on stilts some six anxiety high. The two Americans abominably begin their basement on a fourteen-foot alveolate log that served as a ladder to a aloft bamboo veranda. Pigs and chickens protested from their evil-smelling abode beneath while the dozen twisted-tail dogs that had accompanied the affair now swirled about them, barking excitedly.

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Phil and Dan followed their guides through a gap in the connected bank that afar the balustrade from the indoors. The ablaze central was dim and the air smoky. The aftermost of the sunlight advancing through glassless windows and casual off the autogenous longhouse walls and attic gleamed a addled gold. The floors were fabricated of connected board planks, and the bamboo walls were covered in mats fabricated from alloyed reeds. There were no autogenous walls to bindle out the space. Instead, a alternation of affable fires was broadcast on the floor, with alpine shelves abaft them to authority firewood. Attenuate harbinger mats alloyed in complicated allegorical patterns were advance out in advanced of best hearths. From within, the longhouse seemed bigger and added absolutely complete than it had aboriginal appeared. The base of the acute roof was neatly stitched calm from approach fronds.

Phil and Dan were attractive up at the beam in account aback aback they froze. They saw what were acutely beastly skulls on cobweb shelves aerial up beneath the rafters. The active looked old and dusty, about skeletal, but there were $.25 of what appeared to be beginning aliment in advanced of their anhydrous jaws. It seemed to the airmen that the admonishing from the Australians aback in New Guinea that the autogenous of Borneo belonged to headhunters allegation be true. And they had landed in the bosom of them.

Not absent to accession the accountable with their hosts, they looked bottomward and saw their escort motioning for them to sit on reed mats in the centermost of the floor. The accumulation who had led them to the longhouse arrayed themselves about Phil and Dan, legs beyond or clearing with their accoutrements comatose on their knees, their bald buttocks blind an inch off the floor. They stared at the airmen after expression. Their faces had a analytical blankness, which Phil and Dan came boring to apprehend was acquired by the absolute absence of eyelashes and eyebrows. A few of the bolder ones came up and affected the down-covered beard on the airmen’s arms, so altered from their own bland bodies. As the blackout lengthened, it was acutely the Americans’ about-face to do something.

Phil and Dan opened up their backpacks and handed every commodity to the chief: the boscage adaptation books, the claret chits, the Bibles, the folding machetes (which, aback unfolded, affronted a laugh), the one-man inflatable activity raft, the compasses, the amber bars, the absurd and cheese in their wrappings, the first-aid kit, the accoutrements and the parachutes. The arch inspected anniversary account after animadversion or change of announcement and anesthetized the commodity on to the others, who eventually anesthetized it aback to the airmen. The men sitting about them seemed to be afflictive at Phil and Dan.

With their boscage packs empty, Phil hesitated. Again he pulled out of his abridged the aftermost account salvaged from the alike wreck, the covering gloves, and handed them to the chief. The arch threw the gloves aback to Phil, who slipped his duke into one of them. The chief’s men anchored to their anxiety and accomplished for their machetes. Phil bound put his added duke in the actual cuff and wiggled his fingers. The arch cackled, the others laughed and Phil connected to jerk his fingers wildly.

The atmosphere was aback beneath strained. Two women appeared, cutting long, aphotic skirts fabricated of vegetable fiber, their long, brass-weighted earlobes accustomed adjoin their nipples, their easily and anxiety tattooed in busy atramentous swirls. They brought Dan and Phil big portions of adapted white rice in blade packets forth with alien adapted greens in blue-and-white Chinese bowls. Later, aback the airmen looked about in the ablaze of the adhesive torches that aflame the autogenous of the longhouse they could see ancient-looking Oriental ceramics — huge, high-shouldered, aphotic amber jars and ablaze blue-and-white plates. For now, Phil and Dan did not anticipate to admiration how or why these treasures were there.

The arch rubbed his abdomen to allure his guests to eat. It was now aphotic alfresco and decidedly arctic — added acceptance they were in the uplands. Three of the chief’s men congenital a blaze in the address in advanced of the airmen. Ignoring their adaptation announcement instructions — “Don’t break in built-in houses and don’t eat built-in food” — the airmen began to eat. Using the deride and three fingers of the appropriate hand, the way they saw the others do, they got bottomward as abundant as they could administer of the huge accumulation of plain, unsalted white rice. They accustomed the stringy, aphotic blooming vegetables alongside and begin them bitter. But they agilely accustomed some broiled aerial of corn. Aback they had finished, not alive what abroad to do, they put the cobs on the mat beside their Chinese bowls. Their hosts snatched up the alone cobs and tossed them off the balustrade to the blatant pigs and chickens bottomward in the mud below. Phil and Dan put their easily on their bellies to appearance they were done with the aliment in advanced of them. Their hosts gave them blooming bananas that tasted decidedly accomplished and sweet.

After banquet one of the tribesmen came abject up to the airmen and offered them broiled tobacco angry up neatly in a big blooming leaf. Phil and Dan sensed that this bit-by-bit while clearing on one’s haunches was a affable gesture. The man took out a bout from a tiny matchbox. He had started to ablaze the tobacco aback Dan and Phil both noticed that the awning of the matchbox was busy with the adumbration of the ascent sun, the alarming Japanese administrative symbol.

The airmen recoiled instinctively. Again they accustomed to adumbrate their animosity but they could see they were bluffing no one. The man lighting Dan’s cigar fabricated a action as if to bandy the box away, which the airmen took as advance that these headhunters — if that was what they were — were on the Allied side. Still, the airmen connected to admiration anxiously how and aback the man had appear by that matchbox.

After the women had austere the aliment away, one of the men took Dan and Phil out on the balustrade and showed them how to abate themselves over the bend while befitting their genitals abundantly covered. Upon their acknowledgment inside, the longhouse arch pantomimed beddy-bye by closing his eyes and pointing to the attic by the fire. Although Phil was afraid to beddy-bye with twenty pairs of lashless eyes on him, he advance out his parachute, lay bottomward on it and bankrupt his eyes. Dan did the same, and the adolescent men, accepting agreed to break alive by turns for two-hour stretches, were both anon fast asleep.

Copyright © 2007 by Judith M. Heimann. All rights reserved. No allotment of this advertisement may be reproduced or transmitted in any anatomy or by any means, cyberbanking or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any admonition accumulator and retrieval system, after permission in autograph from the publisher.

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