Major Anthony Nelson, US Air Force and Major Roger Healey, Corps of Engineers, US Army were exhausted. They had completed 48 hours of very grueling training at the Kennedy Space Center. Both men were veteran military officers and experienced astronauts, but this training was especially challenging. It was meant to prepare them to eventually explore the moon, something both men wanted more than anything else. The competition, though, was fierce. Talented astronauts like Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins were all in the lead for the first mission.
"I just feel like collapsing," said Healy, following Tony Nelson into his office.
"You said it pal… I could go for a long soak." Said Nelson, who should have known better than expressing anything that could be interpreted as a wish.
Before Nelson could finish his thought he found himself in a luxurious Roman bath with his best friend Roger. Young Roman bath attendants were tending to both men. The unusual thing, well ONE of the unusual things, about this bath was that it was housed in the office of Astronaut Anthony "Tony" Nelson.
"Hey, hey, I could get used to this!" Exclaimed Roger, surrounded by some of the more attractive female bath attendants.
Normally Tony would be screaming for Jeannie to get rid of all of this, but he was tired and it felt good. He also knew that she wouldn't be far away, so he better watch himself around the young women helping them at the bath. Tony must have been out of it, as he should have foreseen what was going to happen next.
"Major Nelson, what in the name of Caligula is going on here!" Shouted NASA Psychiatrist Dr. Bellows, while standing at the door to Tony's office
Colonel Alfred Bellows MD, USAF had seen a lot and heard a lot in his service to NASA. He is a board certified psychiatrist and Air Force Flight Surgeon. He also is a rated pilot who routinely goes up to keep his wings. But neither his military nor his professional expertise ever prepared him for the likes of Major Nelson. Not too long ago, Dr. Bellows was considered for a promotion to Brigadier General. Then Bellows started handing in these strange reports on his astronauts. It was his duty, however, to report. Even though he knew it could hurt his career, Dr. Bellows was on the run to the office of the Commanding General.
"General Peterson, you must come quickly!" Dr. Bellows shouted while rushing past the General's secretary.
"Colonel, have you forgotten ALL military protocol?" General Martin Peterson USAF replied, deliberately using the doctor's rank to put him in his place. "Doctor, if this is another one of your wild goose chases involving Major Nelson, so help me…"
Doctor Bellows chose his words very carefully, "Sir, I honestly think I have him now."
Peterson thought about it. It wouldn't really hurt him to entertain another one of Bellow's fantasies. Good doctors were hard to find. Besides, it must be the stress of the space program starting to get to Bellows. Up until about three years ago, Alfred Bellows was an exemplary officer. Bellows left his own command of an Air Force hospital to join the space program. Up until this nonsense with Nelson, Bellows was most likely on a path to become the Air Force Surgeon General. Peterson grabbed his cover and followed Dr. Bellows to Major Nelson's office.
"Jeannie!" Barked Major Nelson.
"Yes, Master," Jeannie immediately replied, popping into the room.
Tony softened a little, "The bath was a nice idea, but it has to go."
"Yes master, " Jeannie complied, clearly dejected. Tony and Roger were dripping in the office in their swimming trunks seconds later.
"Ummm… Jeannie… uniforms" Tony added.
Jeannie gave Tony Nelson a slightly wicked, slightly seductive look. But she did what her master asked. Almost immediately Tony and Roger were dry and in Uniform.
Just then General Peterson and Doctor Bellows entered.
"Good evening, sirs" Nelson and Healy almost said in unison while coming to attention.
"OK Doctor, what did you see?" Inquired Peterson.
Bellows looked puzzled, "They were in a Roman Bath…."
"Roman Bath, sir?" asked Nelson, who had his own devious side.
"Doctor Bellows, My office." Was all Peterson said in front of his subordinates.
Once behind closed doors, Peterson looked more resigned than angry. "Alfred," he said calmly, "you are a fine officer and one hell of a doctor. I think this place is really starting to get to you. I can't have my senior officers seeing Roman baths in offices."
Doctor Bellows started to defend himself, "Sir, I am a psychiatrist, and I know what I saw. I assure you, this is not stress related."
General Peterson started getting agitated, "Listen to yourself Colonel! If I do what regulations dictate I do, you would be shipped off to a mental ward! You know and I know that would end your career, which up until the last few months has been stellar!"
Doctor Bellows was humbled. He had known Martin Peterson for years, long before he was a general. "What does the general have in mind?" Bellows asked.
Peterson calmed down, "Nellis Air Force Base has a research facility out in the middle of the Nevada desert. I've been told that they are doing cutting edge stuff, and they have been asking for a research psychiatrist. Pack your bags doctor, you're heading to Vegas. I honestly wish you the best of luck."
The two men shook hands.
It didn't take long for the word to get out. Within a few days, everybody at NASA knew Doctor Bellows was gone, but nobody knew where. Roger, Tony, and Jeanne were having dinner at Tony's house a week later.
"I still can't believe Doctor Bellows is gone!" Roger said excitedly.
Jeannie moaned guiltily, "And it's all my fault!"
Tony consoled, "There, there, Jeannie, Dr. Bellows was way too high strung for NASA." Tony wasn't going to miss Dr. Bellows much either. He addressed his friend, "Roger, you said you heard some rumors about his replacement."
Roger replied smiling, "Yeah, he's Army like me. It's going to be nice seeing another green suit around. There aren't many of us Army folk around NASA, its mainly Air Force, Navy, and Marines. I heard the new doc's full bird colonel, like Bellows. He's been in the service close to 20 years now. He was a field surgeon in Korea who earned a purple heart no less, became a psychiatrist after the war, and has commanded several army hospitals—including a MASH unit in Vietnam. He's supposedly on the short list for brigadier general, not bad for somebody with less than 20."
Tony added, "Yeah, I heard he's very GI for a doctor, which can be good or bad. I think we will be meeting him tomorrow."
The next morning Major Nelson knocked on General Peterson's door. When he entered the office, he saw Roger Healey standing next to an Army Colonel who looked to be in his late 40's/ early 50's. Tony assumed this must be the new psychiatrist, as the colonel had insignia showing he was Army Medical Corps, as well as sporting several ribbons on his chest to boot.
General Peterson made the introduction, "Major Anthony Nelson, this is Colonel Frank Burns MD, U.S. Army. Colonel Burns will be our new research psychiatrist."