The atmosphere in the OR was like an anthill after being poked by a farmer's pitchfork. It was meatball surgery at its best and no end was in sight. Hawkeye and BJ had each just finished patient number 21, Potter was on number 19 and Frank had his 17th on the table.
"Is this my sixth or seventh shift running?" asked Hawkeye, as the next wounded arrived on his table.
"The ninth," moaned BJ, stretched his back and blew out air so that his facemask inflated.
BJ really did a good job. He hadn't been at the MASH for too long, but he had quickly grasped the principles of meatball surgery as was already faster than Frank, though he wasn't really hard to be outdone. The latter was busy grumbling about the discipline in the OR."Nonsense, no one can work nine shifts!"
"No Frank, certainly not you. You sleep in between shifts, your even sleep while you operate!" shouted Hawkeye, who had just put a clean scalpel to the skin of his next patient.
"Sirs, let's stay calm. We have all been here a lot longer than we should have, but this day too will come to an end sometime."
The voice came from the little grey-haired man at the end of the room. This was the new CO, who had also turned out to be quite alright. Much to Hawkeye's relief the new CO was no desk hugger and was a very competent surgeon.
Klinger came through the door wearing a cute nurse's outfit with a white bonnet.
"There's a doctor outside…"
Klinger was interrupted by a cheerful Hawkeye. "Oh, how wonderful! Let him in Klinger, he can take over from me, I urgently need some sleep."
"He's taken a load into his stomach, just came in, looks pretty urgent," Klinger tried to explain.
"Ok! Can someone take over from me, I will have a look at him," said Hawk.
Frank offered to continue on Hawk's patient. "I'll take over."
"But be thorough, don't leave any instruments in the patient and look for bleeders," said Hawkeye, like a mother would speak to a little child, while he put on a new gown and gloves.
Then he turned to his new patient, who had been brought in this moment.
"Instead of lying around lazy like that you should help us sew these kids together," he tried to joke to the new patient, but it was it was to no avail. The wounded doctor had come in unconscious, and the anaesthetist had already gone to work.
"Here we go, next one," sighed Hawkeye and could already feel the first grenade splinters in the warm body in front of him.
After the last patient had been pushed into Post-OP, Hawkeye slumped down on one of the empty guerneys. "Come on, Pierce, just a few tiny steps and you're in the Swamp, it's much more comfy than in here," Potter tried to encourage the tired surgeon.
"I won't get back on my feet, never again," mumbled Hawkeye who was too tired to even continue his dream with the beautiful blonde nurse from the previous night.
BJ, with a last outburst of energy, grabbed one end of the table and pushed it with Hawkeye on it towards the door. "Ok, off we go!"
He didn't get past the threshold, the guerney toppled and Hawkeye fell off like a bag of potatoes.
"Ouch!" he moaned, awake again. "I think I have broken every bone in my body!"
"Oh damn, Hawk, I am really sorry. Why isn't this stupid thing more stable?"
Potter looked at him angrily. "Because a guerney is not a toy, damn it! … Don't give me such shenanigans at the moment, I am tired too. Pierce, get up and don't be such a baby!"
"Alrightalrightalright!", Hawkeye grumbled like a little boy whose mummy told him to brush his teeth before going to bed, and he tried to pull himself up.
"Ouch! My ankle!" he wailed.
"Get out!" shouted Potter without a sign of mercy and pushed BJ and Hawkeye out of the OR.
BJ grabbed Hawkeye's left arm and slung it over his shoulder to support him, and so they hobbled over to the Swamp. Potter watched them for a moment, shook his head in disbelief, and smiled a tired smile. Those two seemed to have nothing but mischief on their minds. But it was good, that way they could best deal with their emotions which would otherwise have destroyed them.
It just started to get light outside. He stretched his back and turned to go to his tent, to catch an eyeful of sleep before the next choppers would arrive with new wounded.
After a few hours Radar poked his head though the Swamp door.
"Err,… Captain Pierce?" he asked carefully. No reaction. "Hawkeye!" he tried again softly.
Just then the figure in the bed opposite him jumped up and snapped at Radar, "Can I ask for some peace and quiet in here, I need some sleep!"
"Well, you can talk, screaming around like you do," said a completely motionless Hawkeye from under his blanket.
"What the hell are you doing here, Corporal, these are officer's quarters," Frank bleated at Radar.
"Maybe our phone was busy and he couldn't reach us from the office, Frank," said Hawkeye, who now sat up on his cot too, just much, much slower than the lipless officer opposite.
With ruffled up hair and closed eyes he turned towards Radar. "What's up, darling?"
Radar rolled his eyes and was about to leave the tent, when he remembered why he had come. "The doctor you operated on yesterday, … err,... he wants to see you, Sir."
"Oh, I won't make any house calls today, I'm taking my receptionist on a day out," said Hawkeye and let himself fall backwards on his pillow.
"Please, Sir? He asked specifically for you!" Radar begged him.
"What the hell. I was going to get up and count the greenfly in the lettuce anyway, might as well go past post-OP on the way-"
Hawkeye sighed and slowly started to peel off his blanket. He slipped into his boots and pulled his bathrobe over his shoulders, all in slow motion. Then he ran his fingers through his ruffled hair and got up to go. When he had reached the door he noticed that there was something wrong with his ankle. He stopped for a moment, shook his leg and continued to limp across the compound towards the main building.