[All MASH characters belong to Fox. I wanted to get this chapter out pretty quickly (for me at least) because this weekend I'm moving into a new house and starting a new job (!), and I'm not sure when I'm going to have a chance to set up my internet and post some more. For now, enjoy this chapter and know that more are coming. I love you all, and you should feel quite honored because my love is very strictly rationed out, much like winter clothing at the 4077th. Cheers!]
[IMPORTANT UPDATE - July 2009: I don't know if this thing will update the whole story by my simply editing this chapter or not, but says I can't upload chapters that are just 'author's notes,' so I'm just doing this, and maybe it'll work or not.
What I have to say it this: Thank you to everyone who has left such kind comments to this story - despite the fact that I haven't updated it in about 6 years. I had a long spate without internet, and then I went to law school, then I graduated, and I'm getting ready to take the bar.
I would like to finish this story. I know how it ends, but time and opportunity have not been on my side, and, like everyone else here I'm sure, being somewhat of a perfectionist, I want it to at least be decent. I'm hoping that perhaps I can bring an end to things in the weeks after the bar exam.
Again, thank you to everyone reading this. I love when, ever so often, new reviews pop up in my inbox - I know you guys have to dig through the archives to find this story, and I appreciate the effort and the kind feedback!!]
From the personal papers of Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy Diary entry, December 2nd, 1951
From the personal papers of Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy
Diary entry, December 2nd, 1951
To put it simply, it has been a long day. An almost 48-hour day to be precise. And to think, I thought it might be a day of celebration. And perhaps we might each be celebrating privately, but for the most part celebration has simply been overshadowed by this juggernaut we call a police action, and with the extreme fatigue that results from extreme stress and lack of sleep.
I'm not sure of the reason for my obtuseness. I suppose I'm just tired, but if the surgeons can press on through hours upon hours of unthinkable strain, then a simple priest can as well.
I mention celebration because a chopper arrived at eight o'clock yesterday morning – and that chopper contained not only Colonel Potter and Hawkeye, but our very own company clerk, Radar, as well. They joined us, to our great delight, in the mess tent for breakfast, and I don't believe I have ever seen the three of them quite so jocular. We poked and prodded them for details, but they fell to eating with such great enthusiasm (even Hawkeye!) – that I assume they hadn't eaten for a while.
Through their food-stuffed mouths I believe I heard the words "best ruse...inflicted upon the U.S. government," but I can't be sure. Every so often Colonel Potter, with crinkled eyes of glee, would pat Hawkeye on the back. And every so often Hawkeye would ruffle Radar's hair and mumble "master of espionage" or "Einstein of counter-intelligence," and then he would explode into fits of laughter (the kind of laughter that's heavily influenced by lack of sleep, I might add), with the Colonel joining in, and Radar chuckling self-consciously, his eyes darting between his two superiors.
But before we could hear a thorough explanation, Radar jumped up from his seat with a panicked look on his face. We all froze and stared at him, fearing what would come next.
"Choppers," he said. He wiped a hand across his mouth. "A lot of them."
"What's a lot, Radar?" Potter demanded, all seriousness now.
"Four...five...at least." The atmosphere in the room froze and my hand instinctually reached for my cross – at least I assume it did.
"Goddamnit," Potter grumbled, crumpling his napkin and tossing it aside. "There must have been an offensive, and without Radar here on the horn you had no news of it." The sound of multiple choppers filled the air and we all stood up and wordlessly rushed to meet the incoming wounded.
As I mentioned, I write this almost 48 hours later. There has been a five-hour break in our constant work (I cannot consider my job work, it is a necessity, a calling), but we hear there are more wounded on the way, and sooner than later. I intend to sleep for an hour, and then I will return to the post-op tent and wander among the wounded in their varying degrees of criticality. And perhaps I wasn't being truthful when I said that I would sleep. How can I sleep when I am needed? Yet, how can I do my best when I haven't slept in so long? I cannot reconcile the two, but such conundrums are my lot in life.
As for Radar, I suppose we'll eventually learn what happened in Tokyo. But for now it has fallen back on our list of priorities, although we all are thankful (a thousand times thankful, Lord!) to have him back among us, especially in these trying times. We may be pressed for energy, but the camp is running as smoothly as possible.
I'll end this now, either to sleep or to return to the post-op. I know I won't be the only one there.
Cavan looked up at Scott with a mix of pleasure and confusion on her face.
"They found him!" she exclaimed, although she was immediately embarrassed at her tone of voice. "He's back in camp," she added in a more moderated voice.
"Indeed, he's back." Scott, already having read through the diaries, was now having the pleasure of watching Cavan discover each new development one at a time. He couldn't hide his smile.
"So..." Cavan started flipping through the papers again.
"You wouldn't want the mystery to end there, would you?" Scott asked her cryptically. Cavan looked up. "After all this, the tapes, the pictures, the documents, the diaries – you wouldn't want it to just stop suddenly, right here, would you?" Cavan gave him a suspicious look.
"What are you saying?" She flipped through more pages, looking for key words in each diary entry. "You're saying the Good Father doesn't tell us what happened in Tokyo?"
"That's what I'm saying. If you read on, this deluge of casualties lasts for days – by the time it ends, there's a gap in the entries that I'm assuming meant Mulcahy simply didn't feel like writing. And when the entries pick up again, the Radar incident seems to be forgotten, or at least other important things started happening. Ah..." Scott scratched his head absently as he thought, "Major Houlihan gets engaged, Major Burns goes a little nuts and gets shipped out and is replaced by a Boston Brahmin."
"Hmm." Cavan continued to flip through the diary entries, although she wasn't reading them anymore. Scott watched her worriedly, but suddenly she lifted her head, a pensive look in her eyes.
"Yeah, you're right."
"I'm glad we don't know what happened in Tokyo. I'm glad we're unraveling this mystery layer by layer, because each layer gets better, and I think that pattern will continue."
"Good! I was hoping you'd feel that way. And our next step?"
"Contacting Hawkeye, of course. We know that Potter's dead, and we can't locate Radar, so Hawkeye is our only connection with those missing days in Tokyo."
"Good plan. And what step do we have to take before that?"
"Um..." Cavan frowned, thinking. "I'll call Katharine first thing tomorrow and see if she can hunt up Captain Benjamin "Hawkeye" Pierce."
"Right...but there's something we have to do first." Cavan didn't notice Scott's grin as she wracked her brain for the correct answer.
"I don't know, what?" she conceded.
"Dinner. I'm starving. You up for it?"
"Of course," Cavan replied, laughing out loud. "One track mind, you know," she added, pointing to her head. Scott chuckled.
"Yeah," he added quietly. "Me, too."
[And you, dear reader, you wouldn't want it to end so suddenly, would you? Stay with me as we delve deeper into the mystery. The best is yet to come!]
[2009 update - see message at top of page]