Hawkeye Pierce was quietly laying in his bed in the Swamp, the nickname that they had given their tent long ago. BJ was busy working late into the night, doing yet another lifesaving surgery on yet another soldier, and Charles was with him. It was Hawkeye's night off, and he wasn't sure he really wanted a night off. But he needed it. Time was slow in a place like this. It crawled. This was the kind of environment that drove all men crazy. Never listen to a man who's been to war and tells you that he's fine. He never is.
Hawkeye may not have been a soldier, but he was a doctor, and he slaved day and night over an operating table at his MASH unit. He worked alongside all kinds of different people; good, bad, somewhere in-between, some people who could even be considered entirely neutral. It was a bad business no matter who you were. It was a bloody business. It was a terrible, terrifying place. No one wanted to be there. Everyone desperately wanted to go home. And Hawkeye was no exception. Nor BJ. Nor Charles. Perhaps the only men who wanted to stay on were people like Frank, his old tent mate.
People like that had no lives, thought Hawkeye. No lives at all. People like that needed to be anywhere else but a war. They needed to be confined to civilization where they couldn't make a lot of pain worse. Where, when they hurt people, they only created a little pain. But Hawkeye wasn't in charge and he didn't make the decisions and he couldn't hire or fire anyone. If it was up to him, innocent little boys like Radar and old, venerable men like Colonial Potter would go home. He didn't think that Radar would mind, but trying telling that stubborn mule, Potter, that. He would argue that it was his duty to stay. Hawkeye didn't understand the concept of duty. He just wanted, more than anything, to be alive and to survive and to go home to his father.
Sometimes, BJ made him think of duty. Sometimes, it almost seemed like even he wanted to be there. Or Charles even. Hawkeye wondered if was going crazy. Then he realized that he probably had years ago.
Speaking of Charles, that man didn't think that Hawkeye knew the truth about him. That he wasn't really the jerk he seemed. That he was a nice guy, a nice doctor even. Hawkeye hadn't liked Charles when he first met him, when the orchestra loving, record playing surgeon had first moved into the Swamp. Charles had seemed like a pompous, unfair, cruel, and selfish person like Frank. Hawkeye even hated him. He seemed like the kind of guy that would hurt someone really bad. That would screw up an operation just because he thought he knew everything.
And did Charles really think that he knew everything. But, to Hawkeye's surprise, he kinda did. Unlike Frank, Charles actually knew what he was talking about. Charles was a wealthy man who had gone to some private school in some private life, and probably grew up in a manor with servants and parents who spoiled him with everything that he wanted. Or at least, that was how Hawkeye had seen his family in the past. He still knew that Charles had lived a really privileged existence, but he had discovered later on that Charles' family was actually not the kind of people that he had originally thought they were.
In fact, he had learned that Charles came from a disciplined sort of household. Caring, loving people who respected their fellow man and were intent not on showering the poor with donations so that they could look good, but genuinely gave of themselves and did so anonymously, causing Hawkeye to instantly grow to respect them. He had initially discovered this fact about Charles' family one Christmas, when Charles insisted on donating a large amount of expensive chocolate to an orphanage and then absolutely insisted on keeping it all a secret. Hawkeye learned that it was a lesson that Charles had been taught by his family, that you never gave to someone and revelled in it. That you did it out of your heart. Hawkeye had already grown to respect Charles himself by then, but it was little things like that that gave him more and more insight into Charles' personal life. There were a lot of moments like that actually, that taught Hawkeye about the man he shared his tent with, and the people that had raised this seemingly careless, mean, thoughtless man.
Hawkeye had learned a lot about people since he had come to Korea. He had learned that no one was what they seemed, that everyone had another entirely different dimension to them than you could see in normal, everyday life. There was always another story to be told, another past to unfold, another secret to reveal, another hidden emotion to discover. The world was apparently full of mystery and intrigue that simply had never been apparent in Hawkeye's old day to day life. He had thought that working in a hospital was interesting enough. It was war that was interesting. Sadly true, but it was.
Every day, men's minds were pulled apart and, every day, they all talked about each other's most devastating moments as if they were the most normal things in the world. They all discussed one another's desperate successes, crushing failures, tense friendships, harrowing journeys, desired vacations, drunken rambles, late night card games, and all the strange, bizarre events that happened in the camp. It was like living in a kaleidoscope, the many different colours of existence and its endless properties dancing around you at all hours of the day.
Hawkeye's thoughts drifted to Radar. What was a kid like that doing in a war? No, really. A kid specifically like that. The man carried a teddy bear around with him, and he was as fragile as stained glass in a church. He didn't need to be there. He needed to be at home, taking care of his mother, and making a life for himself. Not dying in this place. This was a place of death. It was no place for a young, promising man like Radar. Not that many people really found him promising, but Hawkeye did. But then there were many who would say that Hawkeye was too sentimental, too soft. Too unrealistic even. BJ among them when it came to the boy who worked with Colonel Potter. BJ thought that Radar was a handful that would never amount to anything more than some farmer on some farm somewhere, chasing chickens and growing tomatoes. Hawkeye felt like Radar had a special talent with people. He didn't want him to work in a hospital. Oh no, not after all of this. He needed to be as far away from death as possible. Perhaps a lawyer or something? Someone who worked with people and made their lives better. Just not in a hospital. And not in the military.
He hated seeing such young men get pulled into this horrid situation where devastation was the norm, and the operating table was where so many of them ended up. He was only glad that Radar was a clerk and not a soldier. With that kind of job, Radar was a lot safer. As a doctor, Hawkeye was a lot safer. BJ, Charles, Colonel Potter, all of the nurses. They were safer here than... out there. That was where all the horror culminated. Out there. Yes, the operating room was terrifying all in itself, but at least there wasn't the constant threat of gunfire and bombs. Hawkeye knew that, by definition, they were a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, however, to him the mobile part just meant that they could escape.
MASH 4077 was like a nomadic village to Hawkeye. An ever moving colony of men and women that lived together not by choice, but by need, and drifted over the landscape of Korea, constantly scavenging for fresh experiences. Hawkeye felt like its unofficial chieftain, like he was the one always holding everything together. BJ was like his second-in-command, or, at least, Hawkeye thought so. If you asked BJ, he had a far less creative opinion of their status in the camp, especially Hawkeye's. BJ didn't see Hawkeye as the Lord of the 4077. That, to him, could only be Colonel Potter, and even he was a little dull, BJ thought. Hawkeye, to BJ, was more of the class clown. BJ himself was just a simple doctor, in his own eyes. It wasn't entirely what one would expect to hear out of BJ in such a situation as the life they all lived here in Korea, but it was the truth, and the only truth that Hawkeye had ever managed to get out of him. Hawkeye kept thinking that there was more, more to it all in BJ's mind, but there never, ever was. He could ask him questions all night long, and BJ would always tell him that he was just a doctor. Nothing more. That was irritating to Hawkeye. In fact, it was one of the things that bothered him the most about living in MASH 4077.
Hawkeye had a secret love, something that helped him along every day. He hadn't had it before he came to war. Before, he had, had medicine. He didn't have what he had now. Now... he had psychology. Sometimes, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, he regretted having a medical degree. Sometimes, he wished he was Sidney Freedman, and had a degree in psychology instead. He also reckoned that he'd be even safer. Hawkeye Pierce secretly desired to be a psychologist. He had found that he loved talking to people in a way that he had never before. He had realized that people's emotions were deep and profound and interesting and just plain fascinating. He had seen so much turmoil, so much death, and destruction... that all he wanted to do was fix it. Deep down, Hawkeye yearned for something more. He desperately craved a way out. Not of the war, that was obvious, but of his own career.
All the moments that passed through his mind... Charles, BJ, Radar, Potter, Father Mulcahy, even Frank, and of course the nurses and everyone else... He pondered on these things like toys almost. Treasured toys that he very carefully manoeuvred about in his mind, but still enjoyable and entertaining like pieces of a puzzle. What would he do with himself once he got back home? He didn't really know. It wasn't like he could afford to go back to school, to start over. And what of the foundation that he had already established? Everything in his old life was firmly rooted in medicine. And his father would never approve, of course. It was merely a dream that would never pass.
MASH 4077... It was all apart of that dream. It was what had ignited the spark in his mind that had opened up a whole new world of experiences. Psychoanalysis was something that he had never studied, but he didn't feel like he needed to. Hawkeye felt like he had a natural knack for the psychological, and found that analyzing someone's thoughts came easy to him. He had once mentioned his secret o BJ, and the man had merely laughed at him. A psychologist! Hawkeye?! He'd bring the whole camp down into a fiery hell of sin! Father Mulcahy would be overworked to the greatest extent imaginable. It was another one of those things that Hawkeye couldn't stand about BJ. If only someone close to him understood. He was going to tell BJ about the whole idea, maybe even plan something out, but when BJ didn't respond like Hawkeye had wanted him to, Pierce gave up before he even really got started. He figured that if even BJ couldn't accept it, then no one else would either.
Suddenly, BJ came into the Swamp. He was exhausted. He went straight to his bed.
"Hey, Hawkeye." He said, tiredly. "Well, I'm going to go ahead and retire. Good night. I don't feel like staying up and playing cards. It was a long shift. Maybe tomorrow night or... maybe the night after that. I think I need some extra time to rest."
Hawkeye studied BJ from his bed. Speaking of BJ... "Hey, BJ. How did it go?"
"Oh, it was horrible, like usual. I don't want to talk about it." BJ avoided the topic entirely, getting ready for bed.
"Where's Charles?" Asked Hawkeye, curiously.
"He's still in surgery." Explained BJ. "I got off before him."
Hawkeye wasn't sure what to say. BJ was tired and didn't feel like talking, while Charles was still held up in the operating room. "Good night then." It was all he could think of that was appropriate.
"Could you turn out that light, Hawkeye?" Asked BJ, referring to the light that Hawkeye had, had on all night.
"Yeah, sure." Said Hawkeye, reluctantly. He really didn't want to be in the dark yet, but at the same time, he didn't want to annoy BJ.
The light went out.