Chapter 22: In the End
Upstairs BJ went into Hawkeye's room and sat down on the other bed. Surely he should be waking up by now? It was nearing one in the afternoon and Hawkeye had yet to show signs of consciousness. He sighed and lay down on the other bed.
They'd been able to reach Radar before he left his home and tell him not to come. The young man had been understandably concerned but he'd agreed that adding more stress to Hawkeye wouldn't help him. They hadn't been so lucky with the Father; he'd left before they could get a call in.
BJ sat up when he heard a groan come from the other bed. He watched as Hawkeye blinked his lids open and smacked his mouth. BJ started to worry as Hawkeye continued to stare at him uncomprehending. "Hawkeye?"
There was a blink of blue eyes. "Beej?"
"Yeah it's me. You feel like getting up?" BJ watched as Hawkeye blinked at him again and shrugged. The other man started struggling to get up and BJ stood to help him. "You okay, Hawkeye?"
Again there was a long silence and BJ felt his anxiety increase. "Hawkeye, sit still a moment." BJ went to the top of the stairs and yelled down for Sidney before returning to the room. He was helping Hawkeye sit back up when Sidney came through the door.
"What's wrong?" Sidney was breathless from his run up the stairs. BJ had sounded scared and visions of Hawkeye swinging from the rafters had invaded his thoughts.
BJ turned and gestured to where Hawkeye was sitting, staring. "This is wrong! How much did you give him?"
Sidney crossed in front of Hawkeye and frowned down at his patient. "Not as much as I wanted to. Hawkeye, can you make it to the bathroom?"
Sidney watched as Hawkeye shrugged. "Come on and help me get him to the bathroom. A shower will revive him a little."
They put Hawkeye between them and escorted him to the bathroom. BJ helped him position himself so he could use the restroom and turned away while keeping a steady grip on his shoulder to keep him from toppling over. He hated this. What kind of life would Hawkeye have if he was drugged to the gills all the time? The thought came unbidden to him that perhaps Hawkeye was right. Perhaps it would be better if . . . He shook the thought out of his head and closed his eyes. He would not think like that.
When Hawkeye was finished BJ and Sidney stripped him and put him under the shower spray. By the time the shower was over Hawkeye was washing himself and though still sluggish he seemed more aware of his surroundings.
Sidney came into the bathroom with clean clothes. Hawkeye was mostly able to get his clothes on though BJ had to help with the buttons on his shirt.
Hawkeye frowned down at his hands. Something was wrong. He couldn't get his fingers to work properly. He was aware that the others were helping him get ready but he couldn't muster up the energy to ask why.
BJ stepped back and dry washed his face. He never wanted to see Hawkeye like this again. It tore at him to see his friend trapped behind eyes glassy with drugs. "Do you feel up to coming downstairs and having something to eat?"
Hawkeye shrugged. He knew he should be feeling something but he couldn't figure out what. "I guess."
Sidney and BJ led Hawkeye downstairs and into the dining room. They could hear silence fall in the den as the others caught a look at Hawkeye.
BJ sat Hawkeye down in a chair. "I'll get you something." BJ stopped in the kitchen and braced his hands on the counter and tried to compose himself. Once he had his emotions under control he began to gather up leftovers.
Sherman Potter was the first to come into the dining room. He was eventually followed by the others. Hawkeye was showing more life but his eyes were still glassy and his emotions blunted. The gathering around the table was quiet. It hurt everyone to see their friend in this shape.
Sidney continued to stare at Hawkeye. BJ was right. This was no life. Sidney said a silent prayer to a god he was no longer sure he believed in.
It was Margaret who broke the silence. "What's going to happen to him now, Sidney?"
Sidney sighed and turned away from Hawkeye. "Now, he goes back to the hospital."
BJ returned with the food and sat it down in front of Hawkeye. "Eat something, Hawk."
He watched as Hawkeye stared at the food in front of him before starting to pick at it.
The colonel jumped up and looked at the clock. "Jumping Jehosaphat! I forgot to pick up the padre!"
They all watched as the colonel rushed out of the room. Tension gave way to nervous laughter and the room didn't feel so heavy anymore.
Hawkeye was sitting out on the back porch doing his best to ignore BJ. They had him under twenty four hour watch again even though he'd done his best to explain to them that he hadn't been trying to kill himself. It didn't matter. He knew tomorrow they'd be back on their way to New York and he'd be in the hospital before nightfall.
He closed his eyes and tried to swallow down his bitterness. He wasn't going to do this again. No way. They were forcing his hand and he was almost glad. Tonight he'd be sure to do it right. He already had it planned out in his mind. He'd seen where Sherman stored his guns. There would be no mistake.
He didn't care that it would hurt people. Last night he'd almost killed BJ. It didn't matter that it had been accident. That would've hurt a whole lot more than what he was going to do. Hawkeye jumped slightly as the back door opened. He turned to see Father Mulcahy come out onto the patio.
"Hello, Hawkeye." Father Mulcahy smiled down at the other man, tried not to show the shock on his face. His old friend looked beaten, resigned to a fate that no man should have to endure. He was aware of the man's struggles of course. He just hadn't expected them to be written on his face so plainly. He turned at a hand on his shoulder.
BJ smiled down at the priest and gave him a hug. "You're looking good, Father."
Father Mulcahy smiled back at the mustached man. "You too, BJ. That's a lovely family you have."
BJ stepped back. "Thank you."
Father Mulcahy glanced back at Hawkeye before turning back to BJ. "Would it be alright if I spoke to Hawkeye for a moment?"
BJ nodded and gathered up his book. "Of course. I'll be right inside if you need me."
Father Mulcahy watched as BJ made his way into the house before pulling a chair up close to Hawkeye and sat down. He continued to study the other man and he said a silent prayer that he would say the right things. "I'm very sorry to hear what you've been through, Hawkeye. I know that it's been hell for you."
Hawkeye studied the other man. He had a gentle way about him that made him want to spill his guts. It was the perfect demeanor for a priest. He hadn't been to mass since he'd graduated college and he couldn't remember the last time he'd entered the confessional. He looked to his legs. "I'm sorry you came all this way for nothing, Father."
Father Mulcahy frowned and tapped Hawkeye on the shoulder to get his attention. "I need you to look at me when you talk or I can't understand you."
Hawkeye frowned at the priest. "What's happened to your hearing, Father?"
Father Mulcahy smiled and sat back in his chair. "I lost most of it when we were being shelled in Korea."
Hawkeye shook his head, remembered the way the father had seemed a bit behind in conversations. It made sense. "That must make hearing confession hard."
Father Mulcahy smiled and folded his hands. "It's taken some getting used to. I work mainly with children who are hard of hearing now." He was quiet a moment. "I know what you've been through has been tough and I know that sometimes you feel like you just want to give up. I know I did. But, Hawkeye, you must believe that God has a plan for all of us."
Hawkeye laughed and it was bitter. "I don't know about God, Father, but I know what those two have planned for me."
Father Mulcahy frowned and tried to think of some way to break through the other man's bitter defeat. "Yes, well, they're just trying to do what's best for you."
Hawkeye stared down at his knees before looking back up at the priest. "Father, I need the sanctity of the confessional."
Father Mulcahy sat forward and rested his elbows on his knees. "You have it, Hawkeye."
Hawkeye looked away before turning back to the priest. "Forgive me father, it's been . . . I can't even remember the last time I went to confession." He paused and tried to gather his thoughts. "I can't do what BJ and Sidney want me to do. I won't go back into the hospital."
Father Mulcahy frowned. "What do you plan to do, my son?"
Hawkeye looked back at the house before continuing. "Tonight I plan to commit the unforgivable sin, Father. Tonight I plan to kill myself."
Father Mulcahy closed his eyes and crossed himself. "Hawkeye, please, don't do this. You need to give us a chance to help you, to let God help you."
Hawkeye closed his eyes. "I've given them over a year. I don't have anymore time left."
Father Mulcahy shook his head. "I can't let you do this, Hawkeye."
Hawkeye sat forward in his chair. "You can't violate the sanctity of the confessional, Father."
Mulcahy pressed his lips into a line. "I don't have to. I'll stop you myself."
Hawkeye sighed and sat back in his own chair. "No you won't."
Father Mulcahy stood and stared down at Hawkeye. "I can't absolve you of this, Hawkeye."
Hawkeye nodded. "I know."
Father Mulcahy placed his hand on Hawkeye's head. "I will stop you, Hawkeye. Even if I have to box you down."
Hawkeye didn't say anything as the priest went inside. A moment later BJ came out on the back porch. "Come eat some dinner, Hawkeye."
BJ and Sidney were sitting in the living room, each with a cup of coffee. It was three in the morning and yet they still sat their constant vigil. Father Mulcahy was upstairs with Hawkeye so they knew it was unlikely that Hawkeye would make it downstairs without a scuffle but they didn't want to take any chances.
BJ had alerted Sidney to what he suspected and the psychiatrist hadn't been surprised. However, they'd been unable to get an earlier flight than the next day and so they had to wait.
BJ had watched as the father and Hawkeye had talked on the porch. He'd been desperately looking for some sign that Hawkeye was still inside. His suspicions were first alerted when he saw the priest cross himself. Then he'd watched as Father Mulcahy had shadowed Hawkeye all day. The way the priest was lost in thought or prayer and didn't participate in conversations. He couldn't understand why the father didn't say something so he'd pulled him aside.
Father Mulcahy had been distraught but all he'd say was that he couldn't violate the sanctity of the confessional. When he'd pushed the only thing that the father would say was, "Watch him, BJ."
So BJ had shared his concerns with Sidney. Sidney had drugged Hawkeye again but they remained up just to be cautious. It hadn't been as large a dose as he'd given him the night before so Hawkeye would be able to function in the morning and they weren't going to take chances that it was enough to keep him down all night.
So they sat in silence and waited. And while they sat BJ had come to some conclusions of his own. A part of him screamed at what he was thinking. It railed and ranted that this was not the right action to take. But he couldn't stand the thought of Hawkeye stuck in a hospital for the rest of his life, of Hawkeye drugged to the point that he couldn't function. So BJ sat and felt his own cloud close over him.
Thirty more minutes passed before they heard a creak on the stairs. Both men sat at attention and watched as a lone figure made its way down the stairs. BJ frowned. Hawkeye shouldn't have been able to make it down without them being alerted by the father. He felt something twist in his gut as he watched Hawkeye make his way over to the gun cabinet. What had he done with the father?
Hawkeye was in for a nasty surprise. They'd cleared out the gun cabinet and secured everything in Sherman's truck. When they heard Hawkeye curse softly Sidney flipped on the light, momentarily blinding all three men.
Sidney stood but didn't approach the other man. He shouldn't be able to become violent with the drug in his bloodstream but he wanted to be cautious just in case. "We've secured all of the weapons, Hawkeye."
Hawkeye glared at the men in front of him, felt his heart beating hard in his chest. He had to do this. There was no choice. "Please."
Sidney shook his head and slowly approached the other man. "Where is Father Mulcahy, Hawkeye?"
Hawkeye glared at the psychiatrist. Father Mulcahy had violated his vows. He'd told. He felt the acid churn in his stomach. His only chance at freedom had been shot to hell by a vow breaking priest. "He wasn't supposed to tell you anything."
BJ stepped forward and studied his friend. It was hopeless. He could see the certainty of it on his friend's face. If he went back into the hospital it would kill what little was left of Hawkeye. He felt his eyes prickle, knew that he was going to lose his friend one way or the other. "He didn't tell us anything, Hawkeye. What did you do?"
Hawkeye stared at BJ; saw that he was realizing what he himself had realized a long time ago. "He's not hurt."
BJ nodded his head and tried to fight the warring emotions inside. He turned to Sidney. "I think I can handle things here. Why don't you go back to bed? One of us has to be coherent in a few hours."
Sidney turned and studied the other man. Something had changed and it made his gut twist. "I don't think that's a good idea. I'll wait here; you check on the father and get some rest."
Hawkeye stepped forward and tried to show the psychiatrist that he was calm. "Please, Sidney, let me talk to BJ alone."
Sidney stared at his patient realization and horror dawning. He looked between the two men. They were both too calm. He turned to BJ and glared at the other man. "BJ have you lost your sense! You can't do this!" He stared as the Californian lowered his eyes to the floor, knew they were in trouble. He turned to yell up the stairs for reinforcements.
Hawkeye grabbed a lamp from the end table, came up behind the psychiatrist, and hit him over the head with it, stared as his doctor, his one time friend, crumpled to the floor.
BJ jumped and quickly knelt down by Sidney's still form, checked his pulse, his pupils. He sat back on his heels and looked up at his friend. "You shouldn't have done that, Hawkeye."
"He'll be okay." Hawkeye shrugged and placed the remaining pieces of the lamp on the end table. He'd half expected the noise to roust the rest of the household but it remained quiet upstairs. "He gave me no choice."
BJ nodded and stood, felt something within him break. "You don't have to do this, Hawkeye. We'll figure something out."
Hawkeye stared at his friend, felt something thaw inside. "Yes, I do. There is nothing else."
BJ took a step forward and tried to reason with the other man. "What if we don't put you back in the hospital? You can come back and live with me and Peg for a while longer. We'll work on getting the guardianship rescinded."
Hawkeye shook his head and felt tears tremble on his lower eyelashes. "I'd avoid the hospital this time, BJ, but what about next? Things aren't getting better. They're worse and it's going to keep getting worse." He stopped and embraced his friend. "BJ, I'm already dead, please, let me go."
BJ buried his head in his friend's shoulder and let the tears fall. Let the anguish for a dear friend overwhelm him. He didn't know how long he stayed that way. It was Hawkeye who finally pulled away. BJ stared at his friend, tried to memorize his face. "What will you do?"
Hawkeye smiled and for the first time it felt real. His pain was almost over and he'd be able to rest. "Do you really want to know?"
"No." BJ closed his eyes, let the despair pull him down. He thought about offering to help, about offering his friend a cocktail that would put him down painlessly. One look at the other man's eyes told him he'd refuse. "The guns are locked in the colonel's truck."
Hawkeye nodded and started toward the front door. "Goodbye, BJ."
BJ stared at his friend. "See you later, Hawkeye."
Hawkeye smiled and left the room.
BJ sat down on the couch and let his head fall back as the tears coursed down his cheeks. He tried to convince himself that he was doing the right thing. He sat there and fought the war within himself. He knew that Hawkeye was right. There was no way Sidney would let him avoid hospitalization this time. Hawkeye would be reduced to nothing.
But the guilt was already starting to eat at his brain. It kept telling him that there had to be a way; that they could come through this. That he was as good as a murderer if he didn't go out there and stop Hawkeye. He started to get up, to go after the other man but the sound of a gunshot thundering in the distance stopped him. BJ gasped, felt as if he was the one who'd been shot. His stomach started to rebel and he lurched off of the couch for the toilet. When he was done emptying his stomach BJ lay down on the floor of the bathroom and cried.
The first thing Sidney noticed was the pain in his head. It was thrumming along in time with his heartbeat. The next thing was the way the floor was digging into his ribs. He sat up and put a hand to the back of his head. It came away sticky and he peered down at his hand, tried to remember what had happened.
He'd been talking to Hawkeye and BJ, knew that BJ planned to help Hawkeye. Sidney cursed and looked around the room. He had to find them fast. The clock said it was only four thirty so only an hour had passed.
Sidney stood and started toward Hawkeye's bedroom but a light shining under the door of the bathroom stopped him. Without knocking, he threw open the door. He didn't know what he'd expected but it certainly wasn't BJ. He rushed over to where the Californian was curled fetal at the base of the toilet.
"BJ? BJ, can you hear me?" Sidney breathed a sigh of relief when BJ's eyes clenched shut and tears ran down his cheeks. "BJ, where's Hawkeye?"
BJ shook his head and gasped. He couldn't breathe, Hawkeye was gone. He'd as much as killed his best friend. The reasons for doing so no longer mattered. It was all washed away on the tide of grief and guilt.
Sidney ran a hand over his face and stared down at the broken man, pushed his own grief into the back of his mind. "Can you get up, BJ?" When there was no response from the other man Sidney sighed and placed his hand on BJ's back. "Hold on tight, BJ."
Sidney stood and made his way to Hawkeye's room. He needed to wake the others but he also needed to find out what happened to the father. At first he thought that Mulcahy was still sleeping. It wasn't until he heard a grunt from the man on the bed that he turned on the light.
He rushed to the side of the bed. "Hold on, Father. I'll get you lose in a minute." He worked on untying the priest.
When Father Mulcahy was finally loose he reached up and pulled the rolled socks from his mouth. He looked over to Hawkeye's empty bed. "Where's Hawkeye?"
Sidney shook his head. "I don't know, Father. I need you to wake Sherman and meet me in the bathroom." Sidney didn't wait to hear the priest's reply. He rushed back to the bathroom. He had to get some idea of where Hawkeye had gone.
He knelt once more beside BJ and laid his hand on his shoulder. "BJ, I need you to tell me where Hawkeye went." He frowned when there was no response from the other man. "BJ, this is important. Please, where did Hawkeye go?"
Sidney sighed as the Californian continued to stare. The lights were on but no one was home. He turned as the ex colonel and the father crowded into the doorway. "Sherman, I need you to get everybody up and search for Hawkeye. Father, will you help me get BJ back to his bed."
Sherman was searching the west end of his property when he came across the body. At a distance it looked like Pierce had simply fallen asleep next to the brook that ran along that edge of his property but the ex colonel knew better. The window of his truck had been broken and his shotgun had been missing.
His steps faltered. He really didn't want to come any closer to the body of his ex surgeon. Didn't want to see what he'd done to himself, but in the end if there was any chance that Hawkeye might still be alive . . .
Sherman turned his head away from the sight of the young man but made himself reach out to search for a pulse in his neck. The body was already cool to the touch and he grimaced as he pulled his sticky hand away. He stooped there for a moment, looking away from the body, wiping his hand on the grass, and then he made himself turn and take a good long look. Made himself see what had become of his friend.
The face was just gone. In its place was a mass of raw meat, sinus cavities exposed to the vermin that had already started crawling over the bloody flesh. The back of his head was blown open like a rotten melon.
Sherman crawled to the side and heaved. He'd seen a lot of horrible things in his years as an army man. He'd seen kids reduced to just so many bloody pieces of meat but none had touched him the way this did. None of those other boys had been family to him. "Damn it."
He wasn't sure how long he sat there and let his own tears flow. He couldn't help but feel that he'd failed the young man. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye, turned to see Margaret making her way toward him. He thrust out a hand in warning and stood up. "Don't come back here."
He took one last look back at the body and then went to intercept Margaret.
Hawkeye's body was on its way to the morgue and BJ was upstairs full of tranqs. It was afternoon and most everyone had left. While being together might have brought comfort the reminder was too much. They had all been acutely aware of the absence of two men. So now only Sidney, Sherman, and Father Mulcahy were left to sit out on the deck. They were quiet, each lost in their own thoughts.
Sidney stared down at his hands as his mind alternated between running furiously and shutting down completely. He'd failed Hawkeye spectacularly and now BJ was falling down his own dark hole.
"It's not your fault, Sid. When someone is determined to die no one can stop them."
Sidney looked up to where the older man was sitting. Thought about trying to smile for him but decided he didn't have the energy. They'd all worked so hard to see Hawkeye through this. But in the end it had done no good. Hawkeye was dead and BJ was having his own breakdown. "I know."
Father Mulcahy was weighted down with his own guilt. He hadn't meant to fall asleep last night. But he was no longer as young as he used to be and sleep had fallen over him like a heavy blanket. By the time he awoke he'd already been trussed up like a turkey. He'd tried to reason with Hawkeye and when that didn't work he'd opened his mouth to yell and alert the others. That was when Hawkeye had shoved the socks into his mouth.
He said another prayer for Hawkeye's soul and tried to turn his attention to the other two men. Dwelling on his failures would do no one any good now. "How's your head, Sidney?"
Quiet descended once again and Sidney thought about going upstairs and taking something himself. He'd lost patients before but none had hurt as much as this one did.
"What will happen to BJ?"
Sidney shrugged and studied the ex colonel. He had to be hurting as much as the rest of them but he knew that the older man would hide it behind gruffness. "It's hard to say. Hopefully, he'll grieve and then get on with his life but what he did . . ."
Father Mulcahy leaned forward in his chair. "I'm sure he thought he was doing the right thing."
Sidney nodded. "Sure. But it's still a lot of guilt to live with. I hope he can overcome it."
Sherman studied the psychiatrist. Hawkeye's turbulent time had worn the other man down a great deal. He knew that Sidney and Hawkeye had had a special relationship. Friends and confidants, he'd been there to help Hawkeye through many a rough spot. But you couldn't win them all and Hawkeye had been carrying so much pain. "What about you?"
Sidney smiled and tried to push his own morbid thoughts away. "Oh I'll be fine. I may take a break for a while, spend some time with my family but life hasn't beaten me yet."
They turned as the door opened and Sidney stood as BJ leaned against the door jamb. He looked awful. It was obvious that he'd been awake for a while and his eyes were red rimmed from too many tears. Sidney stepped forward and grabbed BJ by the arm. "Come on, BJ, let's get you back to bed."
BJ shook his head and pulled out of Sidney's grasp. "I killed my best friend and you want me to go to bed!"
Sherman stood and approached the grieving man. "Son, you didn't kill Hawkeye." He stopped to keep his voice from cracking. "He was just another casualty of that damn war."
"BJ, you need to rest. Let us help you back to your room."
BJ stared at the priest and sank to the ground as the sobs tore out of him. Peg appeared behind him and placed her hands on his head. She looked up at the two men, tears in her own eyes.
Sidney and Sherman stepped forward and escorted BJ back to the bedroom. When they had him firmly ensconced in the bed Sidney gave him a pill and a glass of water. They watched as Peg curled up beside her husband and his sobs grew quiet.
When they were sure that BJ was falling back into a drug induced sleep they left the room and closed the door behind them. Sidney turned and walked to his bedroom. He needed the comfort of his own wife and child.
Sherman made his way down to the study and poured himself a drink from the liquor cabinet. He downed the bourbon and then poured himself another. He stared at the painting of his officers on his wall. He lifted the glass in a salute. "Goodbye, Hawkeye."
Author's Note: Wow, you made it this far. After reading this piece of madness, are you still sane?
I want it known that people who suffer from mental illness have more choices in treatment than they did during the time this story was set. People with Bipolar illness and PTSD can live full lives with proper treatment.