HOPE'S CALLING- CHAPTER 28- ALL THE PRETTY LITTLE HORSES

The next 48 hours brought no time for singing, drinking booze or sleeping. There was a stream of wounded coming in non-stop. Hope was amazed to see how everyone in the unit worked like pieces of a puzzle when put together made an extraordinary picture. Being on crutches made her feel like puzzle piece that didn't quite fit.

As she done before, Hope stayed with the soldiers here weren't as badly wounded as others and talked to them. She even helped the cook make sandwiches to take to the O.R. staff because they couldn't stop to go to the mess tent to eat.

Once she finished helping the cook, Hope walked outside to catch her breath. No one else was outside at that moment. The screech of a jeep's breaks grabbed her attention. She turned to see two soldiers, a sergeant and a private, get out of the jeep carrying a wounded girl who looked to be no more than 4 or 5 years old. The sergeant hopped out of the jeep, picked up the child and called out, "Need some help here!"

Hope hobbled her way to them as fast as she could without falling on her face. When she saw the little girl's condition, she had to make an effort to stay calm and level headed. The girl's left foot was a mass of mangled flesh covered with blood.

"Sergeant, where in God's name did you find her?"

"On the side of the road, about five miles back. She was all alone. It looks like she stepped on a land mine."

"Follow me to Pre-Op," Hope ordered him. Once inside she told him to put the child on a gurney and stay with her. Hope grabbed a surgical mask and covered her mouth with it. She pushed the door that divided Pre-Op from the O.R. with a crutch and went in.

Major Houlihan, who was assisting Hawkeye at the time, looked up to see Hope standing a few feet from her. "What are you doing in here Lieutenant? As long as you're on those crutches, you have no business being in the O.R."

Hope made no apology or explanation as to why she was there .There was no time for that. Instead she told the Major, "Two soldiers just brought in a little girl they found along the side of the road. Her left foot is injured badly. They think she must have stepped on a land mine."

BJ had just finished working on a patient. "I'll go look at her." He turned to the nurse assisting him and asked her to close the incision on the patient. He followed Hope into the Pre-Op.

He had seen and operated on a lot of mutilated bodies since he'd been in Korea, but seeing a child in that condition tore at his heart in a way unlike any other. When he saw the girl, he had to push thoughts of his own daughter out of his mind. BJ shook his head and sighed, "Damn, what was this kid doing wandering around alone? She couldn't be more than 4 or 5 years old."

"Who knows, BJ? Thank God, those two soldiers found her. If they hadn't come along when they did, she'd be dead by now."


Hope stood looking through the windows of the door that divided Pre-Op from the O.R. Her arms and left leg ached from standing on crutches for so long, but she didn't move. She was so focused on watching the procedure that she jumped when a hand was placed on her shoulder. She turned to see it was Father Mulcahy. He didn't say anything to her; he just stood by and watched with her. Hope struggled with the urge to lean into him and put her head on his shoulder.

It was Mulcahy who spoke first. "It's miracle that those two soldiers found her."

"Yes, I never thought that guardian angels wore olive drab, but I guess they did this time." She sighed and finally leaned into the priest just to relax her arms and leg for a moment. When he tensed up, she moved away from him. "I'm sorry Francis, my arms and left leg ache. I just needed to rest them for a few seconds."

After going non-stop for 48 hours, he decided he was just too tired to think about what holding her meant. If she needed him to hold her, he would. The priest reached over, took the crutch from under her arm and pulled Hope close. She rested her head on his shoulder.


BJ and Hawkeye were so exhausted they headed straight to the Swamp. BJ was exceptionally quiet. Hawkeye didn't have to ask why, he knew the reason already. Seeing that little girl so badly wounded had affected everyone in the O.R. No one would ever get used to that.

He absent mindedly took the drink Hawkeye offered him. "What's going to happen to that child now, Hawkeye? We can patch up her body, but what happens to her after she leaves here?"

"My brain's too tired to answer that question BJ. It sounds like that would be Father Mulcahy's job."

BJ sighed, "He's got his work cut out for him, then. May God help him."

Hawkeye drained his martini glass and said, "I sure hope so. Father Mulcahy does have "connections" with the Big Guy."

"Hawkeye, I've got to stop drinking this stuff. Look." BJ pointed to someone passing by their tent. "Is it my imagination or is that Hope with a stuffed rabbit under her arm?"

"I sure hope it's a stuffed rabbit. If it was a real one, she'd be squeezing the life out of it. Wonder what's she taking it?"

Being a father, BJ had a pretty good idea of what Hope was going to do with it. "She's probably taking it to Post-Op to give to that little girl. You know, one of the nurses told me that Hope stood outside of O.R. the whole time I was operating on the girl."

"That's a long time to stand on crutches."

"Yep, but from what I heard, she wasn't alone. Father Mulcahy was with her, holding on to her."

"Beej, that's not fair."

"What do you mean?"

"I should be the one holding on to her."

BJ chuckled, "Hawkeye, don't tell me your jealous of the good Father."

Hawkeye looked at his friend and said, "Never in my life would I have thought I would say that I'm jealous of a priest, but I am.


The tiny girl wasn't hard to find among all the beds filled with grown men in Post-Op. She went over to where the girl lay sleeping and placed Old Fluffy beside her. The Lieutenant sat down in a chair beside the bed and started humming. Then she softly sang a lullaby.

Hush-a-bye, don't you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
When you wake you shall have
All the pretty little horses.
Black and bays, dapples, grays,
All the pretty little horses.
Hush-a-bye, don't you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
Hush-a-bye, don't you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
When you wake you shall have
All the pretty little horses.

As the last word was sung, Hope thought about the baby she lost, the baby she would never get to sing a lullaby to. Her heart and arms ached for that baby. How could she ever forget what might have been?

Just when you think you can push away memories, something happens to cause them to come back in full force. How will Hope handle them now that the little girl is there?

Also, how will Hawkeye handle being jealous of Father Mulcahy? Sounds a little bit like a soap opera doesn't it? But isn't life like a soap opera anyway?

Thanks so much for reading! I'm not ashamed to say how much I love reviews!