Chapter 1---Hi, here's a story on MASH, one of my favorite shows even in reruns. I hope you enjoy it, I'm not sure where it's going but I enjoy revisiting the characters. I hope you like it. What do you think?
Hawkeye sipped his martini from where he sat inside the Swamp, the cramped tent which served as the home away from home for him and two other surgeons. One them, B.J. had just arrived a few moments ago from his shift in post-op and flopped himself on his bunk, his feet hanging over the edge.
"Tough night," Hawkeye asked.
At the 4077, that question like many just like it was purely rhetorical. But more often than not, it led to some interesting discussions and proved a godsend when one of them really had to get something off of his chest and needed a sounding board.
B.J. popped an eye open from beneath the arm he had propped over his face.
"No more than every night," he said, "The Johnson kid had to go back in the O.R. because we missed a frag."
"Damn," Hawkeye said, "how did he present?"
"Febrile and abdominal pain and distention," B.J. said, "Luckily Margaret was there and we got a gas man and opened his belly back up."
"Where'd you find it," Hawkeye asked.
"Near the sigmoid colon," he said, "where it could have done a lot of damage."
B.J. shook his head still lying beneath his arm.
"Close but not close enough."
Hawkeye went back to the still and dug up another glass.
"Would you like some of the latest brew," he said, "You know what they say, no one should drink alone."
B.J. sat up finally, knowing that sleep wasn't likely with the summer sun already blazing a trail across the sky over their section of Korea.
"Okay, just a little," he said, "They also say you shouldn't drink and drive and I might go take an evening drive to see the sights."
"They're all still there," Hawkeye said, helpfully.
Hawkeye nursed some more liquor out of the still and handed the glass to B.J.
"Thanks partner," B.J. said.
Hawkeye looked around the tent, with piles of magazines and clothing tossed about haphazardly on the area that housed him and B.J. Then his eyes focused on the other side of the tent which served as a contradiction with its organized and tidy section, right down to its neatly made cot.
"Where's Charles," Hawkeye asked, idly.
"He relieved me from post-op," he said, "in fact he arrived early."
Hawkeye raised his eyebrows.
"In fact if I didn't know better, I would think he's going after your chief surgeon position," B.J said, drinking his martini.
Hawkeye laughed, leaning back in his chair.
"Oh no," he said, "He's not going to get away with doing that. If I didn't let Ferret Face do it, I'm not going to let this blue-blooded boob even try."
"Relax Hawkeye," B.J. said, "You're chief surgeon. You've got seniority. You've been here the longest."
Hawkeye picked up his empty martini glass and B.J. thought he was going to help himself to another serving at the still. Instead, Hawkeye waved it at him.
"Watch it with that," B.J. said, putting his hands up.
"Hey B.J., there's more to being chosen as the chief surgeon than just seniority," he said, "It's the person with the best skills at the table and at setting an example."
"What is this I detect," he said, "a little bit of ego? Okay, so you got it because you're the best surgeon at the 4077."
"Thank you," he said, "Charles might be a great chest cutter but I'm the decathlete of surgery here."
B.J. looked at him closely.
"Don't take it that far," he said, "We never had a Olympics for surgeons. No gold medals for saving someone's life or silvers for coming close."
"Every day's the Olympics when there's a war going on," Hawkeye mumbled, "but your point is well taken."
The door to the Swamp swung open, not an uncommon occurrence at all hours of the day and night. This time, Hawkeye looked up to see Corporal Maxwell Klinger waltz in with some mail.
"Here's some of magazines for you Capt. Pierce," he said, tossing them in his direction, "and I swear those crease marks on the pages aren't mine."
Hawkeye flipped through one featuring nudists of the female persuasion playing a game that looked similar to volleyball and then smacked the magazine on his cot.
"I thought by upping my subscription to first class," he said, "It would have cut down on the prying hands."
"It could have been Sparky," Klinger said, "If you find any peanut butter cookie crumbs on your ladies, his mother sends them every month."
Hawkeye brought the magazine to his nose and took a whiff. He turned towards Klinger with a stern eye.
"My nose though not as sensitive as yours has picked up a faint odor of a special brand of Lebanese sausage which is sent to a certain company clerk every month by his mother."
Klinger shrugged his shoulders.
"Then it's Rizzo," he said, "I have him a piece to prop up a jeep that he was fixing."
Hawkeye rolled his eyes.
"Likely story," he said, rattling his magazine to make sure that every crumb, incriminating or otherwise, shook loose.
Klinger tossed several letters to B.J. who put down his martini to pick them up. Three other letters including one bearing a slight scent of lilacs landed on Charles' empty cot.
"That one must be from that woman he met on his last leave," Hawkeye said, after he had jumped on Charles' cot to look through his mail.
"Hey, you can't open someone else's mail," he said, "that's against the law and a couple of commandments too though I'll have to check with the Father on that one."
"I'm not opening Charles' mail," Hawkeye insisted, "I'm just examining it as an olfactory delight."
"Uh huh Capt. Pierce," a doubtful Klinger said, before he snatched them away, "I think I'll just go deliver these to Maj. Winchester personally."
Hawkeye lay back down in his bunk, left with nothing left to do. Then he sat up suddenly, as if a light turned on.
"When did Margaret get back?"
Margaret headed off to the shower after getting off her shift in post-op. She had spent the past eight hours working there, fresh off the jeep that had dropped her off back at the 4077. She had taken her luggage and quietly walked to her tent but only stayed there long enough to drop it off, before racing to cover one of the nurses who worked in post-op who seemed shocked to see her show up.
"Major, I didn't expect to see you back yet," the nurse said, "After all, I took your shift for you."
Margaret pulled her white coat on over her formal uniform.
"I know, but I'm back so you can turn the work over to me and head off to get some sleep," she said.
The nurse looked at her quizzically. After all, it wasn't every day that people at the MASH came back from their leaves early. Not that no one ever came back all that late, but even fewer came back before their leave had expired.
Still the nurse left and ran back to her tent before the Major could change her mind. Margaret had walked up to talk to B.J. who looked surprised to see her there.
"What are you doing back already," he asked.
She waved her hand and looked around the room that was filled with patients, mostly the young men they were so used to seeing.
"I felt I had seen and done enough of Tokyo already and felt I needed to come back," was all she said, before tending to a young man who slept fitfully. She didn't speak much the rest of the shift.
Now Margaret stepped into the shower and began running the water, thankful that it felt good on her shoulders. She shampooed her hair thinking about her time away from the 4077 then she heard the sounds of mortar from the distance.
Casualties, she thought, they'll be bringing them in soon.
She hurried up her shower even though she didn't want to and threw on her robe without drying herself.
Hawkeye sat on his cot looking at his magazines while B.J. took a nap, covering his face against the sun. Then the intercom broke the silence of a unit at an uneasy rest between periods of action inside and out of the O.R.
"Choppers incoming," the intercom sounded dutifully.
The entire MASH unit sprung to life in an instant and everyone started running.
He broke up from his sleep, covered in sweat and looked around him. The clock read, 3 A.M. and the area of the bed next to where he slept was empty, covers thrown up. He shook his head, and pulled his body out of bed and walked towards the window, looking outside.
He didn't know what to do at that point. He knew he should try to sleep because the medical convention would be holding most of its interesting seminars this morning, so he got back into bed and lay down looking at the ceiling. He knew sleep would be a long time coming.