Partying Until Dawn
Note and Disclaimer: Ha, don't we here all wish that we owned M*A*S*H? Well, we all don't, but it's so much fun to write about everyone on the show!
As I come into awareness, my vision is a little fuzzy and my body feels a little more than hard and cold. My eyes carefully widened to the new day above me, blinded by the new December sun that would weaken with winter coming so soon. Then, I closed them again, suddenly feeling the buzzing in my head and the churning stomach underneath it.
I didn't know where I was or what I was doing with the sun so above my head. Lord help me, I am afraid that something went wrong the night before and uncontrollable things happened that go against my vows.
Or did they?
Slowly, but surely, I got up, feeling a ringing in my ears. I opened my eyes once more, feeling a set of arms pull me up to a cot. Then, the same arms seemed to be wrapping itself around my neck and…and…massaging my shoulders and back!
"Oh, dear!" I yelled, jumping up to my feet quickly and realizing quickly where I was. "Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"
Suddenly, laughter filled my ears as the smells from the Swamp swam through my nose. As I turned left and right, I saw Hawkeye and Trapper, both sitting by their homemade still, drinking and appearing to be drunk silly by their own design. Both were bundled up against the cold, for sure, but their two companions, Ugly John and Spearchucker, were not there and –
Spearchucker and Ugly John had been transferred out of here, on orders of Majors Houlihan and Burns because of the final prank they pulled on them (personally, I believe it to be a punishment on all here, God forgive me for those accusations). Last night had been their final night here at the 4077th before leaving early in the morning, picked up before anyone could see them drive off to the 8055th. Everybody had started the merriment in the brand new Officers' Club and slowly moved their way into the Swamp, nurses, orderlies and doctors all. Soon, popcorn and pretzels were being thrown about, drinks were being filled each time it was empty and…and…and nurses were playfully baiting the men.
Oh, God, forgive me for my sins! I am dedicated to you and have washed away the sin of gluttony through drink, but if I have forsaken my vows because of this lapse, absolve me this day!
"Father, it looks like you've seen a ghost!" Trapper began, taking another sip of his drink as he folded one side of his yellow robe over the other.
"I think he's seen too many of them last night," Hawkeye added, also taking a sip of his drink.
"Boys – well, boys, I think –" I began.
"No, no, Father, sit down." Hawkeye patted the chair in-between him and Trapper. "I think we can clear the air from last night."
"And Spearchucker and Ugly John?" I asked, obeying Hawkeye's request by sitting down. As I did, I saw Nurse Able behind me, who waved at me and smiled mischievously as she got up and left the tent.
"Gone, and for good now," Trapper replied spitefully. "Those two men were the best things that happened to us here."
"And this still," Hawkeye said, patting their machine.
"Yes, well, about the night before…" I started.
"Frank and Margaret were sedated before we partied," Trapper said.
"We all went to the Officers' Club to celebrate Ugly John and Spearchucker going away," Hawkeye chimed in.
"We all drank too much and threw lots of popcorn and pretzels."
"You sang and played the piano while you drank your own sorrows away, complaining about people going away and dying all the time and nobody thinking about what matters now."
"You broke out the sacramental wine from your tent after a while and said that it was a special occasion and pushed us all back to the Swamp."
"You and Henry were singing out of key."
I blushed a deep red hue, aware that my drunken behavior sometimes was silly and out of hand. Had I known, I would have stopped. Had I known that I was this upset over some of our finest men going away or dying, I would not have gone along with the others and drank so heavily…
"And," Trapper said as a finale, to call me back to attention, "you were charming to the ladies all night and reminded them of your vows when they tried something fresh."
"Not to mention, you told everyone that your nickname used to be Dago Red," Hawkeye added, laughing as he did.
"Dago Red? I missed that one!" Trapper laughed as well. "Where was I?"
"Mouth to mouth with Nurse Cain," Hawkeye informed him.
Still embarrassed, I laughed along with them, like I was one of them. "Boys, boys, it was all nothing, but…but…"
"But what, Father?" Trapper asked solemnly. "What do you need to know?"
I was flabbergasted. I didn't know what to say.
Hawkeye and Trapper looked at each other and then went to wrap their arms around me like a friend, placing their drinks aside for the time being. I accepted their amiable sympathy, but at the same time, I needed to know. I needed to know if I broke my vows or not because it most certainly seems that way, with me being drunk.
And my vows were the most important promise I have ever made. It was one I made with God.
"Ahh, Trapper, does our friendly, neighborhood priest need to know if he had a night with one of our lovely ladies?" Hawkeye laughed again. "Delightedly, our lovely Father Mulcahy, the answer may very well be…"
"No!" Trapper finished. "No, you didn't. Nurse Cain was eying you after me, though, Father. She liked massaging your back and shoulders after you passed out. Then, Nurse Able took over the job."
I knew that Trapper and Hawkeye were telling the truth when I looked into their eyes, bouncing back and forth the way I did to see the honesty. I breathed out a sigh of relief.
"Feel better now?" Trapper asked me.
"Y-yes," I said, shaking. "However, boys, I should be going. I have a Mass to write for this Sunday and I need to be –"
Suddenly, I was interrupted by the most likely person of all: Colonel Blake. He comically jumped out of his hiding spot, from behind Major Burns' cot, and collapsed on top of it with a bottle of beer from the night before. He finally lifted his head up, beady eyes glancing at us, like we were prey to something. It startled me, for sure, but God forgive me for saying this, but he is as bad as I am when I drink so heavily…but he is fun loving when he does.
"Well, well, well, the hero of our Greek tragedy has awoken," Hawkeye said as he and Trapper untangled their arms from my shoulders and took up their drinks once more. "What tasks do we have for your hero and mine this very cold day?"
Colonel Blake continued to stare at us wordlessly, but then he locked his gaze at me. "Say," he started with a slur as he pointed a finger at me, "aren't you Dago Red, the fastest wine drinker there ever was in the East and West?"
Without warning, Hawkeye and Trapper started laughing once more, the dawn sun hitting them so brightly, like they were angels. Their drinks then tipped over into a pile of magazines on the floor, causing it to be more than a puddle. At once, they got up and picked Colonel Blake up, resting him on Major Burns' cot (surely with complaints from him later) and then coming back to their seats next to me.
"Well, aren't you Dago Red?" Trapper then asked me, still snickering.
"Yes, well, I am," I replied quite mirthfully. "And it all began in Philadelphia, in the year of our Lord, 1934…"