Title: A Dreaded Letter
Author: RHHP Freak
Summary: The letter captured my attention right away. I threw the rest of the letters to the floor and opened it with shaking hands.
Disclaimer: M*A*S*H does not belong to me.
Author's Notes: Remember the ambulance driver Jerry O'Donnell who was killed in 'Dear Sigmund'? Well, this is what I imagined happened when his relatives received that letter. Mind you, I've changed it so that it's for his wife, not his parents! Enjoy, and please R&R
A Dreaded Letter
I had never cried so much in my life as I did when I got that letter. Horrible? No, it was beyond horrible. It was simply devastating. I guess that's what comes closest to what I felt and still feels. I still don't know exactly how to describe it.
And it was funny how it had all begun such an ordinary day. I was doing the usual chores around the small house Jerry had bought for us. He had worked round the clock to earn the money, but seeing that smile on his face as he finally stood and was opening the door to our house for the first time was worth the many lonely hours I had spent in our small flat.
I went out to pick up the mail, and chatted with the postman, like I used to. He had a son over there, and he used to tell me all sorts of horror stories about the fighting, and I was grateful that Jerry was an ambulance driver, not a soldier at the front. He handed me the letters, said goodbye and continued on his route. I went back inside, trying to wipe the horrifying images from my mind. I wondered what he might have seen there. Dead soldiers, mutilated soldiers and so much blood.
I stood in the hallway, looking at the envelopes. Bill… bill… letter from my in laws, and a plain white envelope. It captured my attention right away. I threw the rest of the letters to the floor and opened it with shaking hands. I could barely pull the letter out of the envelope, but after a few moments, the envelope fell to the floor where it lay among the other letters, and I stood there with a note.
I had to take a deep breath, while I was trying to steady my hands, before I began to read it. I remember reading the first few lines, before I screamed. I screamed in pain and anguish, and I hope they heard me all the way over there. They all deserve to hear the pain I felt. Deserved to hear my perfect future being smashed to pieces. Hear my heart break.
I read the rest of it, and again, and again, and again. Suddenly I couldn't make out the words anymore. Tears had fallen from my eyes, and the moment I was aware of that, I fell to the floor and cried. I lay there in a pitiful heap, while my thoughts went in a hundred different directions at the same time. He had been working for a hospital. A goddamn hospital. People who work at hospitals do not get killed. It's against the rules! But deep down I knew that was doesn't play by the rules, but at that time I didn't care! It wasn't fair! Jerry had a life to live! He had to live.
Maybe it was a mistake. Mistakes happen in a war, right? Maybe he was over there, alive and well, and still being a hero. But I knew that was a feeble hope, and it was gone almost as soon as it had come. I cried even harder, remembering the good times Jerry and I had had. The first time we met, the first time he asked me out, his proposal, our wedding… we had even talked about having kids some day. But now, I would have to get used to being alone… a widow. Another woman left behind, because her husband surrendered to death. It wasn't fair… it simply wasn't fair!
Once I had calmed down I grabbed that dreaded letter and tore it to pieces, I stamped on them, picked them up, and took them into the living room, threw them in stove and burned them. I did not need that letter; the text was already burned in my memory.
"Dear Mrs. O'Donnell
It is with real deep sadness that I must inform you of the death of your husband. You can be very, very proud of Jerry. He never took a life, and he died while he was trying to save the lives of five other fellows. He was rushing them to the Evac, which is short for evacuation hospital, in Seoul, when his ambulance overturned.
He was a good man, Mrs. O'Donnell, and I knew he loved you very much. He spoke about you often to my company clerk, Corporal Walter O'Reilly.
We were very proud of him here at MASH, and we'll miss Jerry very much.
Sherman T. Potter."