Note and Disclaimer: Obviously, I still don't own M*A*S*H and its characters, plots and storylines. However, I wish I did, I wish I might…
Most certainly, in the Bible, they talk of many plagues, especially in the Book of Exodus, when Moses was to lead the Israelites out of Egypt's oppression and their quest for their own land. They were usually locusts terrorizing civilians, first-born son being killed and…frogs. And since the first is experienced daily in these months leading to winter and the second is hardly seen except with some local families, I should have known to expect the third. After all, anything can happen in this camp, where the impossible is always possible and fantasy always seems to be reality.
And it all started so innocently, as it always does, in the most complained about place of all. It was where hot autumn days turn grumpy men and women angrier, swatting at every insect that walked across their skin. Literally, bodies of them littered the grounds, where bleeding soldiers and locals lay in agony. Even a walk to the new Officers' Club or even the Mess Tent was a little…well, thick, as if wading in old maple syrup. Even the wine I used to drink in massive quantities (which was still dragging along my old nickname of Dago Red) did not seem as heavy as these bodies of insects.
Well, the Mess Tent was where all the trouble started, I should say, but it was not where it was going to end, most certainly. And after a long day in the O.R. and feeling a little helpless, some food (although a little on the unappealing side) was better than none, I thought. However, I must say how the dead insect bodies on the ground did not help matters much, climbing through all that for food nobody was grateful for and all.
With many people behind me (a line that stretched a long way out the door), though, I was thinking of how it was a sure sign that things might be better this afternoon. People talked animatedly, without complaining about the sticky mess they were in. They all grabbed trays when they could, just as I did, when the doors to the Mess Tent were opened to them and the idea of a good meal seemed like a dream come true. So, we then all stood in line, waiting for Igor and Klinger to come out with our surprise meal.
"What do you think it'll be today, Trapper?" I heard Spearchucker behind me say as he and a few others banged their trays and called for food impatiently enough. "Cream of cream of corn, dehydrated liver and onions or some tasty old frogs' legs?"
The mention of frogs' legs did not seem to be a good indicator of things to come. I gulped audibly, waiting for Trapper to reply.
"Oh, I think we can imagine something a little better than that," Trapper answered as I turned around so innocently to see the people behind me, as if I were appraising the situation and not listening.
"And something a little tastier," Hawkeye added huskily as a door opened behind us once more, showing Majors Burns and Houlihan cutting into the line neatly.
"What was that, Pierce?" Major Burns demanded as I turned right around face forward, trying to keep out of the limelight.
"Nothing more than my fair share of site seeing," Hawkeye replied, snickering. "And I see a lot more than I anticipated. Ah, baby!"
"That's still Major to you, Captain," Major Houlihan hotly retorted. "Major Houlihan."
"All right, Major Baby," Hawkeye purred, making cat noises until someone suddenly entered from the other side of the tent. Luckily, it was Igor and Klinger, bringing in our food.
"And here are a few surprises from the cook today!" Klinger announced sarcastically as something green slipped from the pot to his dress and apron when he sauntered to the serving line. "Army surplus soup from 1941, folks! And it's sure to be a winner!"
"Amen," I said loudly, trying to be appreciative for the food we have. "Let's eat!"
"Cheery, aren't we, Father?" Klinger asked as he and Igor set up the food. When Igor ran off for more food, Klinger started opening the pots and spooning out food to me and the others in line. "A little more optimistic that this food will be good?"
"Always," I said proudly, taking that spoonful of green soup and moving on to the coffee urn. "God will always provide, even when it's not a lot."
"Yeah, put a little of that in the corner, Klinger," I heard Ugly John behind me say. "I want to make sure that it won't eat me. Better the tray than my stomach!"
Igor then came back with another pot of green soup and set it up next to Klinger's, which made the four men from the Swamp smile. I saw their grins and moved away, finding a seat away from the action, but close enough for me to see what would happen. After all, those boys need an unbiased witness once more to get out of trouble, if my suspicions were correct.
"Is it…alive yet?" Hawkeye then asked as I sat down, watching him, his friends and the Majors behind him. "Has it eaten a hole in the tray?"
"Try this soup, Major Burns," Igor then announced as the four men from the Swamp studied the soup on Ugly John's tray. He was trying to get the boys to move on and allow the others to get food, which worked successfully. "I think the cook made it better the second time around."
"I would most certainly hope so," Major Burns sneered, protectively securing Major Houlihan behind him as the boys ran off to another corner of the tent, unsatisfied. "I would hate to get food poisoning again."
"Oh, Frank, stop such being a baby," Major Houlihan whined. "It's only Army food. It's safe."
"Yeah, and those hooligans will stop it nothing –" Major Burns started as Igor opened the pot and out came several frogs and then a huge flood of soup.
The women behind the Majors screamed. Trays went flying everywhere. The men made way for the women. Colonel Blake, suddenly hearing to commotion, ran into the Mess Tent with Radar behind him, only to be run over by several nurses, Major Houlihan included. Major Burns was on the floor, stunned temporarily before screaming for his life as person after person tripped or ran over him. And in that one corner, four men laughed hysterically, picking up random frogs and cleaning and petting them before letting them roam freely.
Radar, still on the ground with Colonel Blake and avoiding getting his head smashed in by a boot, rolled out of the way and stood up (footprints and some food on him), smiling widely. "Gee, I thought that I killed all of them! I thought raising them from pups would not work!"
"I guess you breeding them worked then, Radar!" Trapper yelled back at him, still laughing. "You're a genius!"
I could only grin as well. I turned back to my coffee and green soup, occasionally picking up a frog myself and setting it aside before it hopped into my food. I knew them to be harmless this time, as the Lord intended them to be. However, one of these days, I'm sure that He'll send more than just locusts of some sort to be a trial for us. For sure, He'll either make the frogs a little harmful or send us something entirely different to be a nuisance. And it won't be those men from the Swamp that will be half the trouble.