The Practice

"Hawk, have you seen the paperwork for Mrs. Davison's tests? I swear it was here a second ago."

"You have an In box, Beej. Why don't you use it?"

"I do use it. The problem is there's so much stuff in the In box that too many important papers get buried at the bottom. So I put the important ones on my desk, and it's usually a good system, but now I can't seem to find this one for Mrs. Davison—oh wait, here it is. Whew."

Hawkeye gave him a pointed look from behind the clutter of his own desk. "Our little practice," he said, "isn't really so little anymore. When are we going to face the facts, Beej? We've let it get out of control."

B.J. took a moment to look over at him, nodding agreement. "We need more help."

"Another assistant," Hawkeye suggested.

"At least one," B.J. said. "And even better, another doctor. We can't keep up. We're both working far more hours than we thought we'd be. We're victims of our own success here, Hawk."

"You're right, Beej," Hawkeye said as he leaned back in his chair. "Working together sounded like a lark at first, but we've actually managed to build a hell of a successful practice. It's great, but we've become…"

"Overwhelmed," B.J. finished for him, pulling another folder of paperwork out of the disorganized pile in front of him.

"Overwhelmed," Hawkeye echoed.

B.J. tapped his pen on his desk, thinking. "Only problem is, we're a great team. Adding a third doctor will be… tricky. Might mess up the chemistry. Can you imagine having someone like Charles come on board?"

Hawkeye barked a laugh, saying, "Or Burns?"

B.J. stood up and began to pace. "That's exactly what I mean. We need help but we have to be careful about who we hire…"

There was a rap on the door, followed by Sylvia sticking her head in. "Dr. Pierce?" she said.


"I'm sorry to interrupt, doctors, but someone is here to see you."

"Office hours are over, Sylvia," Hawkeye said patiently. "It's paperwork time for your conquering heroes. Can you schedule him for tomorrow?"

"No sir, it's not a patient. He says he's a friend of yours from way back. A Mr. Tuttle? Jonathan Tuttle?"

Hawkeye's brow furrowed as he tried to make sense of that statement. There was no Jonathan Tuttle… at least, not to his knowledge. He was just a figment of Hawkeye's warped imagination. So who…

Suddenly Hawkeye grinned, having a pretty good idea who might be outside in the waiting room. "Send him on in, Sylvia."

"Yes sir."

As she left to fetch the mysterious Mr. Tuttle, B.J. asked, "Somebody from your childhood, Hawk?"

"Not exactly," Hawkeye said.

And that was when Trapper John McIntyre strode into the room, wearing a humungous if lopsided grin, holding out his arms and saying, "Hey, hey!"

Hawkeye made a beeline to his former tentmate and embraced him as he laughed, surprised and delighted. He hadn't seen Trapper since Korea, but the man didn't look like he'd aged a single day. Still hale and hearty… probably still a hell-raiser too.

"Trap! How are ya?"

The two of them hugged sloppily a second time and then stared at each other mutely with matching smiles.

Suddenly B.J., realizing who was standing in their office, went over to the new arrival and thrust out his hand in greeting. "The famous Trapper John McIntyre? Well fancy that! It's terrific to finally meet you, I'm B.J. Hunnicutt. I was your replacement at the 4077th."

Trapper shook B.J.'s hand and tilted his head. "No kidding? My condolences. I hope I didn't leave the place a fright. You had this bozo here to show you the ropes, though, I guess."

"He did that very well," B.J. said with an appreciative look in Hawk's direction.

"You had some pretty big shoes to fill, kiddo," Trapper teased.

"No problem with that," B.J. said, lifting a foot into the air to show off his size 14s. They shared a laugh.

Hawkeye, still standing there with a hand on Trapper's shoulder, maintaining physical contact out of a kind of disbelief, said, "What brings you here? I thought you were a Bostonian. You in California visiting someone?"

Trapper gave one of his nonchalant shrugs. "Living here now, actually. Louise and I split up a few months ago. I felt like I wanted a whole new start. Wanted to move out west."

Hawkeye turned to look at B.J., the idea already fully formed in his head. He was still mindblown by the out-of-the-blue visit from his old friend, and there was an awful lot of catching up they had to do, for sure. But the first order of business was the most obvious one.

"Does that mean you're looking for a job, by any chance?" he asked Trapper.

Trapper's eyebrows shot up. "Why? You offering?"

Hawkeye glanced once more at B.J. looking for confirmation, and B.J. nodded enthusiastically. "It's a great idea, Hawk," he said.

"Yes," Hawkeye answered Trapper's question. "We are offering."

Trapper paused, but only briefly. He apparently didn't need to know things like working hours or salary or any of those other niggling details. He simply said, "Well hell, if you're offering, then of course I'm accepting. That sounds like the best idea I've heard in a while."

Hawkeye pulled him into another hug, clapping him on the back, getting giggly all over again.

Then he watched as B.J. warmly embraced the newcomer too. It was a little bizarre, seeing the two of them together. Each one represented a different era of the war to him. Also a different set of values and a different way of thinking. But at the core they were both great doctors, and it was a beautiful thing to witness his two best friends getting along.

His mind still spinning, Hawkeye shook his head and marveled, "Your timing, Dr. McIntyre? It's impeccable."

"So I've always been told." Trapper strolled around the room, taking in the two desks and all the paperwork piled atop them, and asked, "So when do I start? Things look pretty busy around here."

Hawkeye followed his gaze to the sheer chaos that was their office. Mountains of paperwork, folders, charts, test results. After a moment, he tore his eyes away from the mess and looked from Trapper to B.J. and back again. "As soon as you can," Hawkeye said. "But as for tonight, we're going to go out to our favorite bar and get a little drunk and celebrate our new partnership. The hell with work for now. C'mon, guys. Let's go have ourselves some fun." He gestured toward the door.

Trapper leaned in toward B.J. "He's a bit of a drinker," he noted, stabbing his thumb in Hawkeye's direction.

B.J. laughed. "Don't I know it!"

The smile never leaving his face, Hawkeye steered them out the door and shut off the light behind them. "This, my friends," he said with a chuckle, "is going to be verrrry interesting."