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.
Hawkeye gets called into Post-Op by the doctor who was admitted the day before.
Post-Op ward was crammed with patients, and Hawkeye couldn't immediately find this doctor patient from the previous night. Moreover, he could hardly remember what this guy looked like. He was so tired when he operated on him. So he walked past all the beds and pretended he was on his usual round, reading all the patients' charts at the end of each bed.
Major Ronald S. Hayward, MD. Chest wound. That must be him, thought Hawkeye.
"Are you Captain Pierce?" asked the patient in front of him.
"The same. Live and in colour. Weeeell, colour ... As much colour as you can have after 16 hours in the OR and only 4 hours sleep," Hawkeye said with his usual sarcasm.
"You are limping, are you injured?" the Major interrupted him.
"Oh, nothing serious, the foot's still attached, thank you, Doctor," Hawkeye tried to play things down.
"Captain Pierce, you operated on me yesterday and I'd like to thank you for it."
Hawkeye sat down next to him. He felt slightly irritated.
"And I thank you for thanking me," he said making a generous gesture with his arms. "You are very lucky, there was not injury of vital organs," he tried to reassure the patient, but this didn't seem to be of concern to the Major.
"Well … as I was brought in here last night," the Major began slowly, choosing his words well, "was I unconscious?"
"You were far, far away, Major, err….," Hawk looked down on his clip board to get the guy's name, "…Hayward."
"Uh-hum…" The Major seemed to think. "So I haven't said a word?"
"Apart from a load of blood and several pieces of ammunition, I got noting out of you. Why do you ask?" Hawkeye inquired without trying to hide his irritation.
"I am trying to remember what happened," the Major explained with a pensive look on his face.
"The splinters I removed came from an American weapon, by the way," mentioned Hawkeye casually.
"Did they?" asked the Major, slightly surprised. "And you are able to distinguish these splinters? "
"Well, excuse me, Sir! What kind of question is that? I have been doing these janitorial exercises for some time now… I know my splinters!"
"Oh well, sorry! After all that's being said about you and your colleagues in this MASH…" The Major stopped in mid-sentence.
"What's being said about us?" asked Hawkeye, now getting annoyed. And then with some interest, "What is being said about us?"
"Nothing, nothing…," the patient tried to end the conversation and turned his head from Hawkeye's probing eyes.
"Obviously!" said Hawkeye, shaking his head. "Was that all you wanted from me?" he asked and got up.
"Thank you so much, Captain Pierce, and please forgive me for waking you up. I thought, since it was morning, you might be up already."
Hawkeye went outside to inhale some fresh morning air. A very dissatisfying conversation. He was annoyed that he had to interrupt his valuable sleep fort hat.
As he limped back to the Swamp, he ran into BJ who was just on his way to the showers.
"Morning! Can't you sleep either?" he asked cheerfully.
"Worse," Hawkeye grumbled, „Radar woke me up only so that I could let myself be insulted by a Major in Post-Op!"
"Come to the showers with me. A bit of fresh water and things will look up again!" said BJ in an annoyingly optimistic way. "And then let's go and have some breakfast."
Hawkeye screwed his eyes at the thought of breakfast and quickly grabbed his towel to follow BJ to the showers.
"Who insulted you?" asked BJ curiously as they stood under the showers.
"This Doctor with the chest wound from last night," Hawkeye explained. "A Major. He thought we were too stupid to distinguish between Chinese and American grenade splinters."
"How completely out of order in the light of your loyalty to the Army," laughed BJ.
"I mean, he doesn't know us… and then he asked if he'd said something when he was brought in," Hawkeye said in disbelief.
BJ shrugged. "Who knows? The Army has their ears everywhere, and news travels fast around here."
Hawk tilted his head to and fro. He knew that was that for BJ and the conversation had come to an end. Each went back to their own thoughts and they continued showering in silence.
"Gee, my ankle really hurts," said Hawkeye as he stepped out of the shower.
"I will have a look at it after breakfast," promised BJ and tried to abate his own bad conscience.
Margaret and Frank already sat in the mess tent and dreamily looked at each other. As they noticed Hawkeye and BJ entering, they sat up straight and Frank pretended they were deep in conversation about camp discipline and morning callisthenics. Margaret looked at him with a serious face and nodded at every of Frank's syllables.
"Frank?…Margaret? Busy with your morning callisthenics?" asked Hawkeye and slid onto the bench next to Margaret, smiling seductively.
BJ meanwhile brought two cups of coffee to the table, one for him and one for Hawkeye and climbed onto the bench next to Frank.
"Thanks Beej, but you really could have put some coffee flavour into this brown mud water." said Hawkeye when he sipped at the cup that BJ had slid across the table.
"Your negative attitude to everything in the Army will one day have consequences", Frank predicted with his most threatening voice.
"Well, Frank at least I have an attitude, something you seem to lack," snapped Hawkeye, and Margaret gasped for air like a fish on dry land.
"How dare you speak like that to a Major!" she shouted. "Major Burns, how can you let him get away with things like that?"
"Captain Pierce, you are out of order," Frank tried to tell Hawkeye off.
He couldn't think of more than that and Hawkeye and BJ started to giggle.
This moment of silliness was suddenly interrupted by Colonel Potter.
"Sirs, Madam! I have some good news. I'd like you all to come to my office."
"Good news," said Hawkeye and gave a false smile.
"…And bad news," added BJ. „It always follows good news!"
Frank stood up straight away and followed the Colonel. "Well, let's see what good news the Colonel has for us," he said and Margaret followed him out.
"The only good news would be that the war is over," said Hawkeye but didn't really believe that that would be the case.
"Or that they'll provide us with some freshly ground coffee," BJ speculated, after he had taken a swig of the lukewarm brown fluid in his mug.
"Shall we?" asked BJ and got up.
"After you, Sir," said Hawkeye and gracefully swung his arm in the direction the others had left.
Colonel Potter announces that the camp has been assigned an additional doctor.
Margaret and Frank already sat in front of Potter's desk, straight-backed and at attention. Father Mulcahy was leaning against one of the file cabinets and Radar stood at the ready with his clip board when Hawkeye and BJ entered the office.
"Well, how nice of you to come", remarked the Colonel sarcastically and grabbed a file.
"I have good news for us all. Radar, take notes."
Radar sat down next to the Colonel who set his glasses straight and drew on his cigar before his big announcement.
"It seems that HQ in Seoul has heard our complaints. They are sending us an additional surgeon as permanent staff for the 4077th. His name is Major Ronald S. Hayward. He will arrive here today directly from Seoul." Satisfied with his big news he looked at the crowd in his office.
Hawkeye looked at him disbelievingly, then looked at BJ.
"And now for the bad news," he grumbled. "BJ you were right, the bad news follows promptly!"
"What bad news?" Potter wanted to know. "Don't ruin my great performance!"
"Major Ronald S. Howard is currently a patient in Post-OP. I have removed a small but fine selection of ammunition splinters from his chest just last night," Hawkeye explained, and then wondered. "Last night's casualties came from hill 103. That is in the opposite direction to the one the Major is supposed to come from. How did he get to that hill if he's supposed to arrive here today straight from Seoul?"
Margaret had a possible explanation: "Maybe he had an unexpected special assignment and was sent to an aid station on short notice." She sounded excited.
"Lucky devil," Frank grumbled, "gets his Purple Heart right at the beginning of his assignment!" He didn't like this thought at all and offered a new explanation. "Maybe he got lost on the way."
"Frank, only you would manage to go via Bombay and Hong Kong on your way from Seoul," quipped Hawkeye and looked at Frank pitifully.
"That doesn't matter for the moment," interrupted Potter, "can we get back to the issue! We have a huge problem now. HQ knows we have an additional surgeon who should help us but he's now in Post-OP and useless for us. Officially we have a fifth surgeon and will therefore get more wounded assigned to us than before."
"Maybe Frank could exchange his two left hands for some useful tools and pretend he was a doctor for a change. Then we might manage the higher quota," suggested Hawkeye.
Before Frank could protest, the door swung open and Klinger entered in a pink dress with a daringly low decolleté.
"Colonel Potter, I must speak to you. A tragedy!"
"Klinger, I have had enough tragedy for one morning, try again tomorrow!"
"Colonel…" Klinger opened his arms dramatically as if he was going to quote from a Shakespearian play.
"If it has nothing to do with our injured new surgeon, scram!"
"But, Sir!" Klinger tried again.
"Diiiiiiiiiismissed!" yelled Potter.
Klinger saluted and trudged out.
"This man is a disgrace to the Army. He is bringing our country in disrepute," complained Frank.
"You're not that much better when it comes to disgrace," said BJ who had until now listened in silence.
Potter tried to direct the conversion back to the problem.
"The most important thing is that we get Hayward up and going that he can help us to keep our assembly line going." He turned to Hawkeye. "Pierce, what's your verdict?"
"Hard to say Colonel, but I don't think there'll be any complications." For a moment Hawkeye was the serious and professional surgeon Potter respected so much.
"If everything goes right, he should be able to perform light tasks within three or four weeks."
"This means additional hours for all of us, if we get new wounded. Father, pray for very little military action within the next few weeks!" Potter said.
Hawkeye wiped his open hand over his face.
"I am still missing several days worth of sleep from the last four weeks. Together with the next few weeks I have a sleep credit until the end of the war!"
The colonel decided to ignore that last complaint from Hawkeye.
"As soon as the Major can be moved he'll take up residence in the Swamp, we need the bed in Post-OP. You'll see that all your junk will be tidied up and that we'll be able to get through to the back of the tent." He sternly looked at Hawkeye and BJ.
"Oh, wonderful! We'll finally get a bit a bit of discipline into that pigsty. Two Majors are definitely adding up higher than two Captains."
"Well, done Frank! You paid good attention in basic training," Hawkeye looked at Frank with as much contempt as possible. "I'm going to sleep before the tent will sink into the mud with all this additional army brass weighing it down." He stood up and limped out.
"Hawk, wait! I was going to have a look at your ankle!" said BJ and stormed out after him.
"Tidy up!" Colonel Potter yelled after them, and then said quietly, "Dismissed." The father nodded at Potter and also left the office.
Frank and Margaret were still stuck to their chairs.
"And you two?" asked Potter.
"Colonel Potter," Margaret started, "Now that we have an additional Major in our camp, maybe we could introduce a bit more discipline. The roll-call for example…"
"Dismissed!" Potter interrupted her.
"Colonel." Margaret saluted venomously and stood up. Frank followed her.
"Major. Major." Potter saluted back and looked from one to the other. Then the two then stormed out, with Margaret ahead.
As the door fell closed, Potter propped his head on his elbows and started massaging his forehead.
"Are you feeling alright? Can I do anything for you?" asked Radar anxiously.
The Colonel looked up. He had completely forgotten that the little clerk still sat in his office.
"I'm alright, Radar. Go and help Pierce and Hunnicutt to clean up the Swamp so that the Major can move in," he said fatherly.
"Yes, Sir," answered Radar and left he Colonel alone in his office.
Across the compound, in the x-ray room. BJ examined Hawk's ankle.
"It's only lightly swollen, possibly some sprained ligaments. I don't think it's broken, you can walk on it after all."
"Don't worry, BJ, it's ok, honest!"
"I am really sorry, Hawk. I'm going to x-ray it, just to be sure."
"There's no need to. It's really not that bad. What do you think about getting a new resident in the Swamp?"
BJ shrugged his shoulders. He hadn't been there that long either, so he wasn't sure if he should comment on the matter. But it seemed that Hawkeye had already accepted him as an established room mate.
"It's going to get crowded," BJ said, trying to sound as neutral as he could.
"It will be good to have an additional surgeon, but the Swamp will really feel crowded. We already have very little personal space." Hawkeye thought loud.
BJ tried to cheer him up. "But the most important thing is that we still have enough space for the still." He grinned.
"Let's go, Beej. I am beat," Hawkeye yawned, and together they walked across the compound to the Swamp.
Hawkeye and BJ are supposed to be tidying up the Swamp to make space for the new doctor.
Radar sat at the end of Hawkeye's bed and jumped to his feet when BJ and Hawkeye entered the Swamp.
"Sorry, Sirs, Colonel Potter wants me to help you tidy up, and you both weren't here so I waited," Radar apologised for his presence.
"Thank you, Radar, that would be all," mumbled Hawkeye, walked around Radar and let himself fall on his cot, while BJ started to write a letter to his wife Peggy.
"But Captain Pierce, Sir!" Radar protested as he realised they completely ignored him.
"Radar! If you just so much as touch anything in here, if you just move one dirty sock, your teddy will have to bear the consequences," Hawkeye threatened with his eyes closed.
Radar was horrified at so much meanness. "Leave the teddy bear out of this! It's not his fault that Colonel Potter has given me that order!"
In that moment Frank came through the door and stopped in the door. He eyed Radar up from his head to his boots.
"You again! This camp is one hell of a disaster, discipline-wise. Every summer camp has more discipline than this MASH."
"Frank, Radar is here as our new Au Pair." Hawkeye sat up in his cot and opened his eyes. "He's here to help us clean the house and look after the children."
"Can we please get on with it then, Sir? I still have to fill in a lot of forms for Colonel Potter," asked Radar.
Hawkeye got out of his cot excruciatingly slow. He trudged into the opposite corner of the tent and got down on the empty cot. He turned onto his stomach and looked over the edge of the cot onto the floor.
"Sorry, rats!" He shouted. „Sorry for destroying your natural habitat."
"It's about time someone does something about the mess in here," Frank said ruffling his feathers.
"A-haaaaaaaaaa," came a muffled sound from under the spare cot.
Hawkeye had by now almost disappeared under it with his upper boy, just his legs were still visible.
"Trapper's boxing gloves!" He pulled one up and put it on the bed next to him. His upper body stayed under the bed.
"Oh, here are my long johns! Very useful for the next winter." And one after the other, he unearthed items of clothing and objects from under the cot.
Frank left the tent. "It's too agonising to watch," he proclaimed and let the door slam behind him.
Hawkeye sat up and kneeled on the bed. He started to play with the boxing gloves and remembered the fight against the champ that Trapper only won, because they put ether on the leather of the gloves. He sniffed the right glove. The ether had obviously long gone, but the memory remained. He smiled dreamily as he thought of his old pal Trapper.
The tent now looked like after a fight. Everything that had been hidden in the corner and under the cot now had come to the surface. Just in that moment the Colonel entered the tent, looking for Radar.
"Good heavens, what happened here? It looks worse than before. Pierce, are you planning to finish me off?"
"I am sorry Colonel. I got side-tracked." Hawkeye said puppy-faced. "There are archaeological treasures under this cot!"
"Really?" asked Radar excitedly.
The Colonel threw him a glance.
Hawkeye breathed in deeply and with his most serious face announced, "Before the excavations have not been fully documented and recorded we cannot continue working on this historically valuable site."
The little Colonel stood up straight to appear as big as possible and looked at Hawkeye threateningly with wide-open, staring eyes.
"Ok, ok, no worries. I've nearly finished!" Hawkeye tried to lull the Colonel. "Radar, leave this pigsty to the Captains and come with me. We have more important things to do in the office," the Colonel said calmly and turned to leave the tent.
The little Corporal followed him, but not without trying to get a final glimpse at the 'archaeological site'.
"Now, it's no use delaying the inevitable any longer. Let's do it." He sighed and started to throw everything one by one in Frank's corner.
For the first time since he sat down BJ looked up from the letter to his wife and smiled.
During lunch Colonel Potter announced that he had been called to go to Seoul on short notice, but just for a few days.
"Major Burns will take over for the time being," he said aloud and then a little quieter through his teeth, "as much as I regret that for you guys."
Hawkeye and BJ looked at each other in mock horror, Frank and Margaret smiled and sat up a bit straighter.
"I am only gone for a few days, so please leave everything as it is," said Colonel Potter, turning to Frank. "And please refrain from unnecessary disciplinary action against the men."
He paused and looked at Margaret.
"AND against the nurses!"
He took another gulp from his cup and left the mess tent.
Frank rubbed his hands. "Well, let's start bringing some order into this kindergarten," he smiled.
"Oh perfect. Just what we needed now," moaned Hawkeye and closed his eyes in disgust.
"And then there were just two," said BJ dryly. With Frank as commander we'll both be on our own in the OR."
Hawkeye got up.
"I'll be off now to cry myself to sleep." And he wandered off towards the Swamp.
"Did you clear up that corner," Frank called after him.
"No worries, Frank. The corner for Major Hayward is completely empty," BJ assured him, leaving out the information that all the junk was now in Frank's corner.
Frank takes over as temporary Commander and the new doctor is moved into the Swamp.
The next day, just minutes after the Colonel's jeep had left the camp, Frank sat down at the commander's desk. He took Potter's name plate and replaced it with his own. Then he moved the "in"-tray from left to right and placed all the pens and pencils parallel to the edge of the table. He got up and stepped one step back to look at his work. Something was missing.
A commanding officer should have a photo of the woman he loves on his desk, he thought. Louise. No, maybe better one of Margaret. Louise… Margaret… Louise… Margaret… shot through his head and he chewed his upper lip.
At that moment, Margaret barged through the door. She looked at him as he was staring at the desk in what seemed like deep thought.
"Frank! Your upper lip has disappeared! You are thinking of her, aren't you?"
Frank looked up, his thoughts interrupted.
"Oh, Largret! ... M-Mouise!" he stammered.
"Oooooooooooh," screamed Margaret hysterically and stormed out of the office.
Her steps had just faded when Radar popped his head through the door.
"Oh bug off, not now!" snapped Frank.
"Sir! Wounded," explained Radar.
"Hm? Oh! I'll be there in a minute."
This annoying OR business was interfering with his commanding.
As Frank stepped outside the office, Hawkeye and BJ were already busy at triage, selecting the injured for urgency. Those two, Frank thought. They are always the first ones at triage. They always wanted to be better than him. Never mind.
He was now commanding officer and that was more important than anything. As a commanding officer his job was to give orders. He looked at the next best patient.
"This one's got a chest injury, he needs immediate surgery. Litter, get this man into the OR!" he commanded.
"Frank, he's already drawn a number," Hawkeye shouted. " You better go and scrub up. Don't obstruct the grown ups!"
Frank gaped for air. What an affront! How dare this Captain order him, a major and commanding officer, about! This time Pierce would get off so lightly. For him he'd find a just punishment. Frank bit his lips and went into the scrub room.
It was relatively quiet in the OR. They hadn't got as many wounded as they had feared. BJ had remarked dryly that they'd manage with just two and a half surgeons, when they gone into the scrub room after triage. There was tension in the air between Frank and Margaret. Frank was griping about the nurse that had been selected for working with him.
"You're supposed to pass me the right instruments! What am I supposed to do with this arterial clamp?"
Loud and for everyone to hear Margaret said, "Maybe the nurses are just one step ahead of you, Fred!"
"Major Houlihan, please!" Frank begged her beseechingly. For a moment it was deadly quiet in the OR.
"Been adoring the wrong woman again, Fred?" asked Hawkeye over his shoulder and chuckled.
Frank was petrified with terror and dropped the arterial clamp.
"Down to two and a quarter surgeons!" shouted BJ across the room to Hawkeye and rolled his eyes.
Frank was just too clumsy. Even the best nurse in camp could not eliminate his slip-ups. That way BJ and Hawkeye would probably have to work overtime after all, despite the low number of wounded.
"I just cannot work like this," Frank exclaimed like a spoilt opera star.
"Major Burns, get a grip on yourself," hissed Margaret and ordered a nurse who was just walking past, "Lieutenant, take over on Major Burns table."
"Yes, Major," the nurse obeyed.
"Life could be so easy, if Frank hadn't got two thumbs on each hand," sighed BJ and went back to concentrate on his patient.
By the time Hawkeye and BJ were scuffing into the tent, tired from a long shift, Major Hayward had been transferred into the Swamp. He was on his cot, when the two surgeons entered.
"Ah, Major Hayward, welcome home," said BJ friendly and walked across to him to check the bandages.
They had slightly shifted during the transfer, but all in all, considering there was no doctor present, when he was carried into the Swamp, things were looking good.
"How do you like your new home?" asked Hawkeye with a big friendly smile.
"Quite messy," said the new inhabitant and Hawkeye's smile disappeared immediately.
"We'll have the cleaner flogged," said Hawkeye huffily and sat down next to the still to pour himself a glass of Martini.
"And it looks as if there's a lot of drinking about," the Major added from his corner.
"I didn't know we had vice control living with us now," snapped Hawkeye and passed BJ a glass.
Frank came in, saw the Major Hayward in his cot and saluted.
"Ah, Major Hayward, Sir. How are you?"
"Much better, thank you, since you are the first one actually saluting in this camp." And Hayward saluted back from his horizontal position.
"Careful that the stitches won't come apart when they are under too much pressure from lying at attention," warned BJ.
"These are my stitches, they won't come undone. But if this keeps going on, I'll sow his hand to the mattress," grumbled Hawkeye.
"Captain Pierce, Captain Hunnicut," Frank said suddenly, "from now on I will no longer tolerate this kind of sloppy tone under my command. A defiance of my authority will result in immediate consequences. You will as of now address me with my name and rank, as per army manual."
"Right, Frank," said Hawkeye and smiled a false smile at Frank.
"Whatever you say, Frank," confirmed BJ and put his feed up on the heater in the middle of the tent.
"That's enough! I will now file a report against the two of you," shouted Frank and stormed out of the Swamp.
Hawkeye and BJ smiled at each other, raised their glasses and drank a big gulp of freshly distilled Martini.
Frank is happy as commanding officer and a load of wounded arrive.
For a few days now, Hawkeye had been ordered by Frank to do all kinds of demeaning work. Today he had to monitor the shipment of the camp's rubbish. He felt like Cinderella. Some of the work he had been able to give to Zale and Igor, in return for some fruits of the Swamp still and the paying off of tabs in Rosie's bar. He was just coming off his shift in post-op and was walking across from the OR to the mess tent when he saw Major Hayward walk out of the Swamp.
"Hey, Major Hayward," he quickly attempted a weak salute, "you shouldn't be out and about just yet!"
"Oh, Captain Pierce!" Major Hayward turned around to face him. "I have to visit the latrine, urgently!" He made some helpless gestures.
"Well, at least get a corpsman to help you on your way to the latrine," Hawkeye said assertively.
"That's really not necessary, Captain, I'll manage. And I don't want to be a burden on any of you, you have enough to do as it is!"
"Please be careful then, the stitches are still fresh," Hawkeye reminded the Major, and he knew that any further argument with another doctor would be pointless. He walked on to the mess tent.
BJ sat in one corner and wrote another letter. My god, how many letters did that man write. There was nothing to report at all, what was he filling his letters with, wondered Hawkeye.
"Hayward is on his way to the latrine," he said to BJ as he sat down at his table.
"No other news? Shall I write this to my wife?" asked BJ without looking up from his letter.
"Isn't that a bit early for him to walk about? I mean the operation hasn't even been a week ago," asked Hawkeye.
"As his doctor you should know best," said BJ, not really into the conversation.
"If it was for Frank, all the higher ranks wouldn't have to go for a shit anyway," said Hawkeye, depressed that he had no one to talk to. "What's for lunch today?"
"The same shit as always," replied BJ and started writing on a new sheet of paper.
"Hm, I think I'll pass and nibble on a nurse instead. That's healthier," he mumbled more to himself and got up.
A conversation with BJ was not possible when he was writing his letters.
When he left the mess tent, he saw Major Hayward again, but this time he was coming from the office.
"I hope you haven't mistaken the office for the latrine," said Hawkeye as the Major looked across to him. "Although there isn't that much of a difference between the two, the mistake would be easily understood!"
"No worries, Captain Pierce. I have been to see Major Burns and asked him for the daily schedule, so that I can start getting used to the daily routine in this camp," the Major assured him.
"There's a time to heal and a time for routine. Hush, hush, to bed, so that the Major can soon pick up his first duty roster," joked Hawkeye and ushered the Major into the Swamp.
Radar was waiting at the door for Hawkeye.
"Can I have a word, please, Sir?"
"Just a moment, Radar, I'll just quickly do this house call, and I'll be with you," said Hawkeye happily.
"It's really urgent," begged Radar.
"Ok, who can resist those corporal eyes! You know your way, Major," he gave in and opened the door to the Swamp for Major Hayward. Then he followed Radar towards the office.
"Something is wrong, Captain Pierce," said Radar worriedly. "A few days ago I have counted all the blankets in the camp, because I was filling in the inventory forms for Major Burns. We had 127 blankets. Now we only have 38."
"We'll have used them or sent them out with the wounded," said Hawkeye.
"We have never used that many blankets, Sir, and we haven't even had that many wounded in the last few days. I think they have been stolen. I am responsible, Hawkeye, and Major Burns will want my head for this!"
"Well, we just won't tell him then, easy as that," suggested Hawkeye with a fatherly pat on Radar's shoulder.
"Oh, Sir! Sorry, but that's not much use. It's not that easy!" Radar shook his head and looked worried. Then he trudged back into the office.
Frank stood outside Margaret's tent. He carefully looked left and right and grinned once he felt safe. He stretched and contracted all ten fingers as if he was kneading bread. Then he gave his secret knock and listened. From the inside came a knock back and he stepped in. Margaret sat at her dresser and brushed her hair.
"Oh, Margaret," he breathed, stepping forward to caress her hair and nibble on her neck.
"Oh, Frank," whooped Margaret and pulled his hand tightly onto her chest.
Frank was breathing heavily.
"Oh, darling! Darling!"
"Kiss me, Frank or I'll explode," she shouted.
She turned around and pulled his body close to hers. She started to unbutton his shirt.
Just at that moment somebody knocked.
"Major Burns?" It was Radar's voice.
"He is not here," shrieked Margaret, one and a half octaves above her normal voice.
Frank and Margaret held their breath and didn't move until the steps had faded away.
"That wretched little rat," Frank pushed through his teeth.
"Oh Frank, you look so manly when you are angry," whispered Margaret. "Let's get away from here. We'll take a few blankets and find a nice quiet spot in the bushes outside the camp, where we'll be undisturbed."
She giggled like a small girl and quickly pulled on her army shirt.
Then both slipped out of the tent, one after the other, and looking around carefully that no one would see them.
Frank got to the storage room first. Then Margaret hushed in. He was breathing heavily, she giggled.
"Blankets, blankets…," mumbled Frank quietly walking through the shelves.
"Rats! Where are all the blankets?" asked Frank loud and alert, as he stood in front of a tiny stack of blankets in an almost empty shelf.
"Shush," hissed Margaret and looked around carefully.
"The shelf was completely full a few days ago," whispered Frank, trying to explain.
"It doesn't matter now, come on! Grab a few and then let's go," whispered Margaret in reply.
"Strange," wondered Frank. He grabbed two blankets and sneaked out behind Margaret.
They put the blankets down behind some bushes, just outside the camp. Margaret jumped on them like an excited chicken, pulled Frank down towards her and kissed him. Frank wasn't really in the mood anymore and freed himself from her grip.
"I am wondering where all those blankets have gone. It was probably Pierce! He's built himself a love nest somewhere. That perverted Cassanova won't stop at anything!" he exclaimed.
"Frank, leave it. We can worry about that later," she said.
"Yes, but I am commanding officer, and responsible for the behaviour of my men and the property of the United States Army."
"Kiss me, Frank, or I'll burst into flames!"
"Oh Margaret, being commanding officer of this camp really is no easy job…" was all Frank could say before Margaret held her hand over his mouth and then let her tongue slip into his mouth.
Hawkeye and BJ had taken their chairs outside the tent to not disturb the Major inside. They played their own version of chequers where every one could apply their own rules.
"Hey, that's not allowed, that's a double sideways lob," complained Hawkeye as BJ took two of his pieces.
"Well you flew across the whole board with your gaming piece," said BJ, defending his move.
"If I had known what a lousy cheater you are, I would have laid down the rules in writing first," grumbled Hawkeye.
"Choppers!" screamed Radar, sticking his head out of the office door.
"Oh, heck! No!" sighed Hawkeye and threw his head back.
The loudspeaker announcement followed one second later.
"Attention all personnel, all shifts report to the OR please. All shifts. Wounded are being brought to the compound by road, air and errr…. by air."
The noise of the rotor blades of the arriving helicopters were almost blacking out those last few words.
Hawkeye and BJ jumped up from their game and ran up to the chopper pad. The first lot of wounded looked terrible. BJ was wondering why they had been sent to the MASH at all. Triage was one big nightmare. The wounded were all in such terrible state that they all needed immediate surgery.
Hawkeye had run down to the forecourt of the OR and didn't know where to start.
"Damn it, where is Frank? Frank!" Hawkeye saw him and Margaret run into the camp at that moment.
"Frank, get your arse into the OR, we are being inundated with wounded!"
"How are we supposed to manage all these without Colonel Potter?" whined Frank.
"Get a grip on yourself and go, damn it!" ordered Hawkeye.
"Wait a moment, I am commanding officer, I give the orders here!" said Frank.
"Frank, how would you like a suction tube up your backside? Now go!" Hawkeye shouted and took over the general command.
Nurses and corpsmen were running around and tried to put tourniquets and compresses on all the wounded, or administer pain killers.
The OR was unusually quiet. The stream of wounded wouldn't stop and all their injuries were abnormally bad.
"What the hell is going on here," screamed Frank despairingly into the room.
"Don't crack up on us now, Frank. We need all the help we can get," warned Hawkeye.
And to nurse Kelleye he said, "I know this might be a bit much to ask, but as you have assisted so many times, do you think you can manage to finish this one?"
Kelleye swallowed and nodded. "I'll do my best, Doctor." She tried to sound as confident as possible.
Hawkeye had already taken off his gloves and turned to the next patient when Klinger walked past.
"Klinger, get me Major Hayward. I know it's too early for him to work but we need all hands we can get."
"Yes, Sir!" said Klinger and disappeared.
"Hayward is still a patient of ours. He is in no condition to operate, Pierce," protested Frank.
"And neither are you, Frank, but you are still here," replied Hawkeye, irritated and rolling his eyes.
"Doctor, I need your help," shouted Kelleye in despair.
"It's ok, Hawk, I've got it," said BJ and jumped over to help Kelleye.
It was a nightmare. They just didn't have enough people.
Klinger stormed in and held a face mask in front of his mouth.
"Sir, Major Hayward is not in the Swamp and he's not in the latrine either, I have had a look in there!"
Hawkeye felt rising panic but refused to let it win. "Go and look for him and bring him in here. If necessary, bring him in on a stretcher!" he shouted.
That was all they needed now!
After a gruelling shift in the OR, Hawkeye's suspicions are confirmed.
As chief surgeon Hawkeye somehow also felt responsible for the whole camp when the Colonel was away. Right, Frank was officially Second in Command, but no one could really take this guy seriously, and if things got serious, every one turned to Hawkeye anyway.
Hawkeye felt the pressure on his shoulders. It was almost unbearable. How did Colonel Potter manage with all this pressure? Get a grip on yourself, he mumbled into his face mask.
He heard a clattering of feet outside the OR and Klinger pushed his head through the door.
"Got him, Sir! He was in the office."
"Ok, scrub and then table three," he said to Klinger.
"Good sniffer," said BJ when Klinger had disappeared again.
"Well with that nose, what do you expect," asked Hawkeye and turned to the nurse on his table and murmured, "I want you to work on table three, with Major Hayward. If he just so much as makes one tiny mistake, I want you to come to me."
The nurse nodded.
"Margaret!" He waited for Margaret to come over.
"Major Houlihan!" she insisted.
Hawkeye ignored that and still whispering, Hawkeye instructed Margaret, "I want Nurse Able to assist Hayward. And please stay close to him, just in case... "
"What do you mean with that?" Margaret asked slightly aghast.
"Well…," Hawkeye felt stupid. He didn't want to share his rising suspicions. Not yet, anyway, so he manufactured a little white lie.
"He is injured himself, still on painkillers. He's operating in a MASH for the first time, and that is hard for any surgeon, even if he's not injured."
That seemed plausible. Margaret nodded and turned to go.
And in his normal voice Hawkeye said, "Oh, and Margaret, I need a new nurse!" and smiled.
"You're wearing them out today Hawk, you're on your third!" joked BJ.
At that moment Klinger came in with Major Hayward. Two corpsmen brought in a wounded soldier for Hayward to work on.
"If you need any help, please give me a shout," Hawkeye called across the room to him. "And if you feel sick or anything, please tell your nurse!"
BJ looked up at Hawkeye. He felt that Hawkeye was somehow worried about the new surgeon, and not just because he was injured. He was never as nice and caring as that to anyone in surgery. Well, then again, he was Hawkeye's patient, and it wasn't any day that you'd be operating alongside someone you'd just had on the table in front of you. Hayward was still under the influence of painkillers and there was a real chance that he'd collapse in mid-surgery. But somehow Hawk was so rational and serious. Not sarcastic and funny as normally.
BJ's thoughts were interrupted by Frank.
"Well, this is great. Today we actually have some peace and quiet without Pierce blabbering on all the time."
Even Frank noticed something, even if he wasn't sensitive enough to know that Hawkeye was worried about something.
"Frank, I am not sure how much peace and quiet you are having, but outside it's Armageddon, and we are one man short," remarked Hawkeye, slightly pissed off now.
"Well, don't play the schoolmaster, Pierce, you've got Major Hayward now," said Frank.
"Major Hayward, what were you actually doing in the office?" asked Hawkeye and ignored Frank's last comment.
"Well, as everyone in camp was busy running around like ants, I thought I'd try and ring for help. After all I have good connections to HQ in Seoul," Hayward answered without delay.
"Good thinking, Major, I knew I could count on you," applauded Frank.
"Where are they supposed to come from, in the middle of this fighting?" Hawkeye wanted to know.
"From another MASH unit naturally," said Hayward, never lost for an answer.
"They will also have a lot to do," BJ pointed out.
"Well, I thought it was worth a try," said Hayward and no one objected to that.
There were still more wounded coming in, even if the rate of ambulances and choppers arriving had reduced. BJ and Hawkeye felt like machines. They had stopped counting the patients that had passed through their hands in that one session. Major Hayward seemed a decent surgeon. Right his second case was a perforated artery and he worked very professionally. Hawkeye forgot about his worries concerning Hayward for a while and continued putting the insides of soldiers back where they belonged.
They finally finished the next morning. That shift seemed to have lasted an eternity. The new doctor had worked well, despite his extensive own injuries, and he worked through the entire shift. Hawkeye was surprised. Maybe his suspicions were wrong after all. He decided to have one last look at the situation in Post-Op before he'd put his head down for a few hours. Here were those wounded that they had treated first yesterday afternoon. The rest was spread all over the camp, in the tents of the camp's inhabitants, the mess tent, the VIP tent. Those in post op were already awake now.
Hawkeye looked at some of the records. Many injuries seemed to have been caused through close fire. That was unusual.
He sat down next to a Lieutenant who looked rather awake. "Good morning, lieutenant. You are still alive and you are in beautiful Korea, favoured by travellers for its wonderful mountains and large rice fields," he began.
"Good morning. Are you a doctor?" the Lieutenant asked.
"The last time I looked at my dog tags I was," said Hawkeye. "Your injuries and those of your friends here were quite substantial. Unfortunately not all were as lucky as you are. We couldn't save everyone. What has happened out there?"
"Oh, Sir, it was carnage." The Lieutenant closed his eyes. "We seemed to have walked right into the enemy's arms. We probably had wrong information about their positions."
Hawkeye raised his eyebrows and breathed in deeply.
"I was afraid of something like that."
For a short while he sat on the edge of the Lieutenant's bed and stared into the void. Then he got up and went into the he found Frank and Major Hayward doing the surgery report. At least Frank hadn't gone straight to bed, noted Hawkeye.
"Have you been taught how to knock, Pierce?" bleated Frank as Hawkeye stepped into the office.
"I just wanted to see if everything was alright," said Hawkeye.
"Captain Pierce, you might be chief surgeon, but I am Second in Command!" Frank shouted.
"And what is Major Hayward doing here then," Hawkeye wanted to know.
"The Major helps me to write the reports," replied Frank.
"Work shared is work halved!" grinned the Major.
"He is my friend," said Frank proudly.
"We Majors have to stick together, don't we?" smiled Hayward and slapped Frank on the back.
Frank nearly fell off his chair but grinned.
"Well, that's alright then, Major Hayward, as your Doctor I am telling you not to overdo it," remarked Hawkeye, rolled his eyes and turned to go.
"Pierce, whatever happened to saluting?" demanded Frank.
"Maybe your new major-friend can explain how it works," suggested Hawkeye and left.
On the forecourt he was intercepted by Radar.
"Sir, something else is missing now. This time it's several cases of Penicillin," whispered Radar as if someone might be trying to listen in on the conversation.
"Are you really sure we haven't used them last night?" asked Hawkeye.
Radar nodded determinedly.
When Hawkeye finally entered the Swamp, BJ was already in bed.
Hawkeye was beat, but his thoughts wouldn't allow any sleep. He needed to talk to someone.
"BJ!… BJ are you asleep?"
"No, I only examined my eyelids from the inside," BJ mumbled.
"BJ, I need to talk to you!" begged Hawkeye.
"What's up Hawk? You are so serious these days. Having trouble with a nurse?" BJ sat up on his cot and looked at Hawkeye.
Hawkeye didn't respond to that. He went straight for the bull's eye.
"BJ, what do you think of Major Hayward?"
"He's a good surgeon. Worked a long shift despite his injury," said BJ. "Do you have a problem with him?"
Hawkeye began slowly to take off his uniform.
"BJ, something is wrong. A few days ago almost a hundred blankets disappeared from the storage room. Yesterday I saw him how he was allegedly going to the latrine, just a few moments later though I saw him coming out of the office. Then he wasn't in the Swamp when Klinger was looking for him, he was in the office again. Then the unusually large number of heavily injured soldiers. And just now Radar told me that we are missing several cases of Penicillin."
"Frank and Hayward!" BJ suddenly shouted and pretended to be asleep.
Hawkeye had also slipped into his cot and quickly disappeared under his blankets.
Frank opened the door. "After you, Major!"
"Thank you, Major," came the reply from outside.
"Thank you, Ronald that you helped me, this way I could finish the reports so much quicker!" said Frank.
"No problem, Frank. That's what friends are for," exclaimed Hayward.
Hawkeye was wide awake under his blanket. Aha! Ronald … Frank… they are already on first names!
The rest of the conversation with BJ had to wait until the following day.
Hawkeye investigates and Colonel Flagg appears in the camp.
Hawkeye couldn't sleep. Too many things went through his head. With every movement from Major Hayward, Hawkeye tensed every muscle in his body and held his breath to listen.
Hayward had only shifted in his cot.
My god, you are paranoid … sleep, Benjamin Franklin, sleep! Hawkeye tried to calm himself down.
It was no good. Sleep continued to elude him.
The entire camp was quiet despite the fact that it was the middle of the day. Everyone in the entire camp had worked for the last 24 hours, so they all had to catch up on sleep.
Hawkeye closed his eyes. It felt good, but the inner anxiety just wouldn't recede. He decided to get up. He grabbed his red bathrobe and quietly sneaked out of the Swamp. Only when he was outside he put on his robe. He didn't want to wake anybody in there.
For a moment or two he stood on the forecourt and didn't really know what to do. He stared into the void. Then his feet started to carry him towards the office. He didn't know what he was looking for, but maybe he'd find a clue to the whole story. Something. Anything.
When he stepped in the door, he saw that Radar was asleep too. For a while he stood in the middle of the room and looked at Radar sleeping.
Radar was always there when someone needed him. The previous days, since Potter had gone away, Frank had him do stupid tasks and pointless administrative work. He had been a courier, tidied up the storage room, had filled in forms and was the lackey for Frank.
In the OR, he was carrying the stretchers, taking on tasks of an orderly, coordinated the medics, cleaned instruments and wiped the blood of the floor, all without complaining just once. His work was taken for granted by many in the camp, but it really wasn't. Radar should have gotten a medal for being Radar.
Hawkeye sneaked past the sleeping clerk and into the commandant's office.
Frank had arranged every piece of paper, every pencil and pen on the desk parallel to the edge of the table. Hawkeye shook his head in disbelief when he saw that. He still wasn't sure what he was looking for and sat down at the desk to think.
It was completely quiet.
He looked around and his view fell on the file cabinet. Hayward's file! Maybe he'd find something in his file, some discrepancies. Quietly he got up and went to open the file cabinet with the letter H. Habitzer … Haffner … Hayward! Hayward, Ronald Sigfried…, that was it.
He walked back to the desk and began to read.
Born on the 17th of March 1922 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin School in Harrisburg – Hawkeye had to smile – then medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Eighty-third out of one hundred and seventy-nine in his year. Not bad, thought Hawkeye. He felt how he got really tired.
Entered the Army in 1944 … Hawkeye had to support his head on his arms to read… served in Germany in 1946 … His head was getting heavier and heavier and slowly slid down onto the desk.
Outside, someone revved the engine of a Jeep.
Hawkeye opened his eyes and noticed that he had fallen asleep with his head on the desk. In that moment the door of the office swung open. Hawkeye sat up with a start.
In front of him stood Colonel Flagg.
Flagg is trying to get to the bottom of things.
"You are not Colonel Potter," remarked Flagg in lieu of a greeting.
"Well observed," said Hawkeye and gave Flagg a broad smile.
If Flagg surfaced in the camp, something was definitely fishy.
"You are wearing a bathrobe!" remarked Flagg.
"Oh, gee! Do I? Someone at the uniform counter must have ripped me off. And I thought red was our new camouflage colour so we won't be seen in all the blood!"
"You are Pierce!" said Flagg, squinting his eyes and wildly brandishing his index finger towards Hawkeye.
"What gave it away?" Hawkeye giggled and covered his mouth with his hand, like an embarrassed schoolgirl.
"I have been watching you for quite a while now," began Flagg, "and what's happening in this camp will probably result in a court martial for you!"
Hawkeye stopped laughing. Flagg seemed to know about the occurrences in the camp.
"Well, we are treating large numbers of injured soldiers here, we do our very best, but some die, even before we finished operating on them. It's not our fault. I really do hope that someone will be held responsible for crimes to humanity in this war," Hawkeye misunderstood Flagg's remark deliberately.
"Where is Colonel Potter?" asked Flagg, without responding to Hawkeye's 'misunderstanding'.
"The Colonel has gone to Seoul to get some further training. Something that you should also take into consideration for yourself," replied Hawkeye promptly.
"Don't pretend to be a smart arse! Where's your Second in Command?" Flagg pressed through his teeth. He was getting really pissed off now.
"He's probably in his Second-in-Command-bed, trying to recover from last night's Second-in-Command surgery. We were stitching bodies up for the last 24 hours," explained Hawkeye.
"Who's Second in Command, then," Flagg wanted to know.
"Major Frank Burns," Hawkeye said with contempt in his voice.
"Oh, no! Not that loser," moaned Flagg.
"For once I agree with you," nodded Hawkeye and got up, leaving Hayward's file on the desk.
"Bring him in here," demanded Flagg. "And something else, Pierce, if you leave this camp, you are a dead man."
"Thank you for your tender care Colonel, but I am aware of the fact that the area is heavily mined," replied Hawkeye with a smile, again deliberately misunderstanding Flagg.
When he was outside the door, his smile died away. He was distraught. It seemed as if Flagg suspected him to have anything to do with the strange occurrences. That dimwit!
Back in the Swamp he stood in front of Frank's bed and thought of a particularly unkind way of waking him. He decided to pull his blanket away in one big swoop. Frank just lay there in the foetal position and smiled, at peace with the world.
"Frank! Get up! Flagg is in the Colonel's office and wants to see you pronto," Hawkeye shouted.
Frank just turned over to the other side and sighed.
"Frank!" Hawkeye tried again. "General MacArthur is on the phone and wants to speak to you!"
"Hawk? Just shut up, will you," mumbled BJ from across the tent and pulled the blanket over his head.
"You should take your job as Second in Command more seriously, Frank. Your attitude towards this office will one day have consequences," Hawkeye threatened Frank, trying to sound like Margaret.
"Hmmm?" Frank finally woke up. "What? Where? When? The General?" he asked with his squeaky voice.
He quickly put on his shirt, trousers and boots and ran out. On the way to the office he buttoned up his shirt. His boots were undone.
Radar sat at his desk when Frank stormed in.
"Radar, put the General through to the office, I do not want to be disturbed." He stuffed his shirt into his trousers.
"Which General, Sir? Shall I call General Hamilton for you," asked Radar, irritated that he didn't know what was going on.
"Well, General MacArthur!" He paused, then he stormed into the office.
"Colonel Flagg is in there," Radar tried to warn Frank, but he didn't hear him anymore.
"What are you doing at my desk…." started Frank when he got through the door and stopped dead when he recognised who it was. "Oh, Colonel Flagg, Sir," he giggled helplessly and saluted.
Flagg was reading the file that Hawkeye had left on the desk.
"Major Burns." He quickly looked up at Frank and then continued reading in the file.
"It is always surprising to see how people like you can become a Major in our Army," Flagg said after a moment's silence when he put the file to the side. "But we shall not be concerned with this now, I will deal with that later. Have to make a note to speak to General MacArthur about this. You are out of uniform. Get dressed, man!"
Frank looked down on himself and noticed he buttoned his shirt the wrong way. "Sorry Colonel, I was called in here from my sleep and…." Frank started, but Flagg interrupted him brusquely.
"I am not here for small talk, Major, but to investigate the occurrences in your camp." He paused for dramatic effect and then shouted at Frank, "Get your uniform in order!"
"Uh-errr, yes, Sir!" stammered Frank and bent down to tie his boots.
Meanwhile Hawkeye was waking BJ as quietly as he could and informed him that Flagg had arrived in the camp. Hayward still seemed to sleep. BJ slowly got up, yawned, grabbed his bathrobe and followed Hawkeye out of the Swamp.
Frank had now tied his laces, and was trying to readjust his buttons, while Flagg was continuing to read Hayward's file."This Hayward, 's he new here?" he asked Frank without looking up.
"Major Hayward is our new surgeon, Sir." Frank replied duly.
"Never heard of him," said Flagg.
"Well, we have so many Majors, you can't possibly know them all," said Frank understandingly.
"We at the Secret Service know the files of everybody in this Army," replied Flagg very slowly and squinted his eyes again. It always looked as if he needed glasses.
"Wow, that's a lot of files," said Frank admiringly.
That moment Hawkeye and BJ walked into the office in their bathrobes.
"Have you not been taught to knock," asked Flagg sharply.
"We have heard that you are in town. Weird things are going on in our camp and we'd like to know more about it," replied BJ for both of them and ignored Flagg's remark about their discipline.
"Right," agreed Hawkeye. "We are always the last to know what's going on around here."
"If I told you what I know, I'd have to shoot you all," declared Flagg.
BJ grinned and looked at Hawk. "He doesn't know anything either!"
"Captain Pierce," began Flagg and eyed Hawkeye up from top to bottom, "although I will never understand how you could have been awarded that rank..."
"Right," interrupted Hawkeye, "I never wanted it in the first place!"
"Don't interrupt me, Pierce" threatened Flagg. "Or I have to torture you. That would be so unkind to the scorpions which I'd use for that."
"Ok." Hawkeye stared Flagg in the face with exaggerated seriousness.
BJ couldn't stop grinning. It was always a spectacle when this guy turned up in camp. He looked from Hawkeye to Flagg and back to Hawkeye, and he was trying hard not to laugh out loud.
"Pierce, I am watching you closely," Flagg pressed trough his teeth.
"He likes you," remarked BJ and grinned.
"I am accounted for. I have promised the still I'd marry her after the war."
"I will find out what is going on here. And then your stupid remarks and all your witticism won't help you anymore," warned Flagg.
Meanwhile Major Hayward sat in the Swamp on his cot, hastily scribbling notes on small pieces of paper. He kept looking up at the door to see if anyone was coming in. Then he folded the paper neatly and stuffed it in his pockets. He sneaked out of the tent, across the forecourt and behind the main building.
Time and time again he looked around if someone followed him. He stuffed one note between the slats of the latrine when he walked past. At the back of the building he slipped a piece of paper between a wooden beam and the corrugated sheet metal of the outer wall. Suddenly he heard steps. He pressed his body tightly to the wall of the main building so that he wouldn't throw any shadows. He held his breath. Someone was on his way to the latrine. When heard the squeak of the latrine door he relaxed again.
Then he sneaked back to the forecourt of the camp and from there across to the Swamp. When he opened the Swamp door, someone already collected his notes...
Hawkeye helps a wounded civilian outside the camp despite having been grounded by Flagg.
After BJ and Hawkeye had left the Commander's Office, they stood at the notice board for a while. BJ studied the duty roster and Hawk looked across to the Swamp in deep thought.
"Damn!" he mumbled quietly. "Damn. I am telling you, there is something weird about this guy."
"Who, Flagg?" asked BJ without looking at Hawk.
"Yeah, he too. No, I mean Hayward. But his file seems to be all spotless though. Med school at the University of Pennsylvania. Then army surgeon. He works good and fast…" Hawkeye shook his head. "I don't know."
"Come on, Hawk. The day has been spoilt now anyway. Let's go and have lunch," BJ tried to comfort him.
When they entered the mess tent, Margaret and Major Hayward sat at one of the tables and were deep in conversation. Hawkeye walked across the tent to grab a tray and tried to convince himself that he was hungry. He held his tray out to Igor and hoped for something edible to land on it.
Frank came also entered the mess tent and after scanning the tables sat down with Margaret and Hayward.
"Look at the rat pack over there," said BJ to Hawkeye who was still having his tray filled with overcooked vegetables and burnt pieces of meat.
"Lets sit down with them so see where they'll perform next," suggested Hawkeye and pulled his tray away to quickly, that the next ladle of dripping food slapped right on the food bar.
As they walked across to the threesome, the conversation stopped dead. And then, slightly too obvious, Margaret pretended as if she was just finishing a sentence. "…and then I said to nurse Able that the bandages had to be changed at least every three hours, but as always my orders weren't followed."
"Oh, don't feel obliged to stop talking behind our backs," BJ said smilingly.
"After all, we don't stop talking about you behind your backs either," Hawkeye quickly added with his most charming smile.
Out of the corner of his eye, Hawkeye suddenly saw Colonel Flagg at the other end of the tent, trying to look as bored as he could.
Hawkeye continued to smile and pretended not to have noticed Flagg. "BJ, don't turn around now. I think I am being watched."
Hawkeye still smiled and only confirmed by closing and opening his eyelids.
"This guy is as subtle as Bob Hope on a golf course," BJ shook his head. "I wonder how stupid you actually have to be to be rejected by the Secret Service. Flagg obviously didn't hit their mark yet."
Now Hawkeye had to laugh. His false smile was replaced by a real one. BJ had only seen the guy once before, but he had figured him out straight away.
"You know what," Hawkeye pushed his tray away from him, "the khaki panther over there has really spoilt my appetite. Let's go."
He got up slowly to give Flagg the chance to notice and also get going.
Outside the mess tent, Hawk squinted into the sun. It could have been a nice day, if Flagg hadn't turned up.
"I have an idea!" said BJ and started to laugh. "Come with me!" he shouted and ran across the compound to the Swamp, Hawkeye ran after him.
But instead of going into the Swamp, BJ ran past and once around it. Behind the tent he stopped and giggled. "Let's have some fun with Flagg!"
Hawkeye understood BJ's plan immediately. They waited for a moment, until Flagg appeared, apparently coincidental, by the latrines.
Then they sprinted across to the Officers' Club. Again they saw Flagg appear in a safe distance. Hawkeye was holding his stomach laughing, but BJ had no mercy. He ran towards the mess tent.
At that moment the three Majors were just coming out of and saw each other off.
"Oh man, I think I have to throw up," laughed Hawkeye when he overheard their ritual.
"Come on!" said BJ and stormed off from tent to tent, criss-crossing the camp. Hawkeye was now really out of breath and asked BJ for a break. "I think we lost him," he panted
"Gee, are you unfit! From tomorrow you'll attend Frank's calisthenics classes to get you back into shape!" teased BJ.
"You must be off your head!" Hawkeye tried to fend off BJ's idea. "I have worked hard at being this unfit. Only nurses and Martini have formed this beautiful body!"
Just in that moment a Korean woman came running towards Hawkeye and BJ.
"Husband and cow gone boom! Husband injure. Help, please help!" she pleaded.
"Damn BJ, I have been put under arrest by Flagg, I can't leave the camp!" He looked at BJ who shook his head.
"I am sorry, I am on duty in post op in a couple of minutes. Since when have you been bothered by something Flagg has ordered?"
"Please help! Husband boom! Injure!" the Korean woman said again.
"Ok," Hawk tried to calm the woman down. "Is it far from here?"
"Please help! Walked far. Cow boom!" she said.
Hawkeye looked questioningly at BJ but his friend just shrugged his shoulders. "BJ, get me some morphine and penicillin, I will go and grab my bag!" both stormed off in different directions and left the woman stand in the middle of the camp. For one moment, they forgot all about Flagg.
In the Swamp Hawkeye threw his bathrobe on his bed and grabbed one of his crumpled shirts and his medical bag. It felt empty, but he was sure that he had refilled it after he last used it. With things like that he always took great care. He was sloppy with everything else, but never ever when it came to medicine. As he didn't have time to check for everything now, he walked across his cot and grabbed BJ's medical bag too. He hoped that this way he'd have enough equipment for an emergency treatment of the woman's husband.
Outside the Swamp he heard a Jeep stop. BJ, his wonderful friend, had not just gotten him the medicines he asked for, but also brought them and a Jeep right up to the Swamp. He then ran to start his duty in Post-Op.
The Korean woman was already sitting in the back of the Jeep, when Hawkeye stormed out of the Swamp, two medical bags in his hands. He threw them in the back and got in. Suddenly he noticed Flagg at the other side of the Jeep, holding the vehicle as if he could stop Hawkeye that way from driving off.
"Pierce, what's the idea?" he bellowed.
"Get away, Flagg, this is a medical emergency!" Hawkeye shouted over the running engine.
"You move one yard and I'll have you shot at the camp exit!" Flagg threatened.
"Jesus Christ, I am a Doctor, not a spy! I haven't got time to play your games, Flagg. Out there is a man who got blown up, he needs my help!" Hawkeye was now getting really irritated.
At that moment, an MP walked past Flagg, and before he knew what happened, Flagg had taken his rifle and pointed it on Hawkeye.
If Hawkeye hated one thing then it was weapons. And weapons pointed on him he hated even more. He breathed in deeply and for a moment closed his eyes to collect himself. He tried to calm down, but it wouldn't work.
"Damn it, Flagg, get in! If you really want to shadow me, then get in the jeep, DAMN IT, AND COME WITH ME!" He screamed the last few words at the top of his voice until he nearly choked.
At last, he seemed to have convinced Flagg. The spok got in the jeep but kept his finger on the trigger and the rifle pointed to Hawkeye. He had not quite pulled his second leg in the jeep, when Hawkeye put his foot down and drove off with spinning tires.
The Korean woman held on tightly to Hawkeye' seat. He could feel her fear. He would have liked to have put his arm around her to comfort her, he would have liked to tell her that everything was going to be alright, but he wasn't so sure now himself. He drove past the camp exit and onto the dusty road, straining to look in front of him to see where the injured man was.
"How far is it?" he screamed back at the Korean woman.
"More far!" she replied.
Great, what ever far was supposed to mean.
This lobotomised secret service moron is still holding the rifle in my face!
He couldn't believe this was really happening to him.
"Take that fucking thing away! At the next bump in the road you'll poke my eyes out with that!"
Hawkeye screamed though the air stream towards Flagg, never taking his eyes off the road ahead.
"I won't jump out in mid-rush," he reassured Flagg.
This seemed to be plausible to Flagg. He took the rifle down.
Hawk lifted up his eyebrows and shook his head. Incredible, under what conditions he had to work here.
A few hundred yards ahead, Hawk saw something on the road. The Korean woman pulled at his sleeve.
"There! Husband and cow!"
Hawkeye took his foot of the gas pedal and tried to scan the situation with his eyes. When they got nearer he saw that the ox and the cart had been blown to bits, probably by a mine. He hoped that the blood on the road was from the animal and not the woman's husband. The man sat by the side of the road and weakly lifted his arm to signal to the jeep when he heard it approach.
Hawkeye slammed on the brakes, grabbed his medical bags and jumped out. Flagg grabbed the rifle and put his finger back on the trigger.
Without even turning round Hawkeye screamed at Flagg again.
"If you don't take that thing down straight away, I will personally strangle you with the innards of the ox. I have had it up to here with your stupid games."
He gestured in front of his forehead with his arm, swinging one of the medical bags about.
He bent down to look at the Korean man's leg. He had a deep wound, a splinter had hit him, but it wasn't anything life threatening. He held the man's leg with his left hand and with his right hand grabbed into his medical bag. No compresses.
"Shit! Damn it, this stealing must stop, how can I work with only half my equipment," he swore to himself.
He tied BJ's bag. Here he found compresses, but no iodine. He sighed. Compresses from BJ's bag, iodine from his. The man screamed out loud as Hawkeye wanted to remove the cloth from his leg.
"Flagg, don't loiter around, get me the box from the jeep," he ordered. Flagg seemed to move in slow motion. "Move it, goddammit! Move. I want to be back home for Easter!" Hawkeye commandeered.
"I doubt that you will live until Easter," said Flagg with a quiet voice, and passed Hawkeye the box with the morphine and penicillin that BJ had packed for him.
For a second Hawk froze. He had a shiver running down his back, but tried to hide his fear from Flagg.
He injected the Korean with some morphine and started to clean the wound. The woman crouched next to him and started to cry. Hawkeye felt like crying too. He had never felt so helpless and secretly wished for BJ to be with him. But still he tried not to show his feelings and breathed in deeply, before he tried to console the woman.
"Don't worry. It is not as bad as it looks, in a few days he will be able to walk again. Mind you, your ox won't even be good for a Sunday roast anymore, just maybe some goulash." He sighed.
He bandaged the wound and tried to help the Korean man to get up. "Give me a hand here, Flagg," he ordered Flagg, who was still pointing the rifle towards Hawkeye.
Hawkeye was about to lift his patient into the jeep, when Flagg stopped. "You are not going to put that yellow swine into an American jeep?"
"Flagg, the nifty sports car of that gentleman here was blown to smithereens, if it has escaped your attention. Its engine is splattered across the road and is losing oil. How is this man going to get into his village in his state? We will take him and his lovely caring wife home."
Reluctantly Flagg helped lift the Korean into the vehicle. The woman had climbed into the back of the jeep and pulled her husband inside, while the two men pushed from outside.
Hawkeye and Flagg slid onto the front seats. After he had started the engine, Hawkeye turned chivalrously around to the Koran woman and smiled. "Thank you, Madam, for choosing this taxi. Where may I take you?"
Potter gets back into camp.
Colonel Potter felt relaxed. Almost one week in Seoul, in a real room with a real bed and a real bathroom. And the one or other colleague of his own age. They had been reminiscing about the Great War and better times. The seminars too had been very interesting, he had some new medical procedures to report to the surgeons in his camp.
As he drove under the wooden sign at the camp entrance, he felt a wave of warmth go through his body.
"Best care anywhere" it read, and that was definitely not an exaggeration. Whoever had written that had really hit the nail on its head. The 4077th MASH had some of the very best surgeons that he had met in his long career as an army surgeon. But not only professionally they were the best, he had also come to regard them as friends. Maybe even a kind of ersatz-family.
When he got into the camp he noticed that is was unusually quiet, even though it was already early in the afternoon. Immediately he felt a bit of a guilty conscience. While he sat in the hotel lobby with his group of elders, sipping Whisky and generally enjoying the good life, his boys and girls had probably been working non-stop, doing their 'meatball surgery'. Potter decided to drive his jeep directly to his tent and to unload himself. He didn't want to wake anybody unnecessarily, by god, they had probably earned their sleep with hard labour.
He carried his duffel bag and some boxes of things he acquired in Seoul into his tent. He stretched his limbs and looked into the mirror. He was still wearing his Class A uniform. Back to the daily grindstone, Sherm! But first, he wanted to go and relieve Burns of his duty as commander of this camp.
When he walked across the compound to the office, the camp really felt eerily empty. The guys really had to be completely exhausted, if they were sleeping in the early afternoon. Or had Burns confined them all to their quarters for some silly offences like laughing and playing poker?
When he came to the door he got up on his toes and stretched his neck to look through the window into the clerk's office. Why did they have to make these windows to damn high?
His quick glance confirmed what he had assumed. Radar was not asleep but was busy as always on the phone.
But then he heard a voice through the door that didn't sound like Radar's. It sounded Asian. Was Radar now taking a course in Korean?
He pushed the door open and was just about to greet Radar, when the figure at the telephone jumped up and reeled about. It definitely was not Radar.
He was roughly the same height as Radar, wore the same clothes, glasses and a jeep cap, but he was Chinese.
Like a reflex, Potter grabbed his sidearm that he was still carrying as part of his Class A uniform. What a stroke of luck that he hadn't yet changed into his fatigues.
"What are you doing here? Who are you?"
The Chinese also pulled a gun from his hip.
Potter still stood in the door. He was trying to think of the best thing to do. There would be no point in running out again. He would risk that the man fled through the Post-Op, and could possibly be taking hostages on his way. He would have to keep this man at bay and work something out quickly. Very slowly he put one step forward.
The Chinese screamed something which Potter didn't understand, but it sounded threatening. Potter stopped for a moment. Just no jerky movements now, he thought to himself. Stay cool, calm and collected. He stepped forward one more step.
The Chinese fired his gun at Potter, but didn't hit him. Lousy shooters, he thought, aimed at the legs of the Asian and shot.
Potter had hit the Chinese in the right thigh. The man screamed and went down.
"Guaaaaaaaaaaaards!" screamed Potter and in that same second the medical staff on duty stormed in from Post-Op. BJ and Radar came in though the door, alarmed by the shots and the screaming, and two MPs came running in from the compound.
The Chinese was lying on the floor, gasping and holding his leg. Potter stood over him, his gun still pointed down at his adversary. "Don't shoot, I've got him," he shouted as the MPs came through the door.
"Colonel Potter, Sir! My god, are you alright?" asked Radar, deeply worried. He was the first who got his speech back.
"Alright, son. Why are you not in your office?" Potter wanted to know. "This guy looked like you from the back, I thought he was you!"
"I helped Dr. Hunnicutt in Post-Op, Sir. We had a long shift all yesterday and last night, and as most people are exhausted and have gone to bed, there was no one to help."
"Where is Pierce?" asked Potter sharply.
"He has gone out together with Colonel Flagg to help a Korean lady whose husband was blown up somewhere outside the camp, Colonel," explained BJ.
"Flagg? What does this prick do in our camp?" bellowed Potter, now getting really annoyed about all these things happening during his absence.
All his relaxation had gone in the last minute or so. He couldn't leave Burns in charge again. Six days and the result was total chaos.
"Odd things have been happening here for a few weeks, as you know, Colonel. And now the Secret Service has claimed to have traced phone calls from our camp to behind enemy lines."
BJ looked from Potter to the Chinese.
"Now we know they were right this time."
"But why is he dressed like Radar?" Potter wanted to know.
Now the Chinese joined in the conversation, still lying on the floor. He had a strong accent. "Was able to walk through camp undisturbed. Everyone here work so hard that not notice me."
Potter shook his head in disbelief.
"We really work too hard! Where actually is this moron Burns? He was supposed to run this outfit while I was away."
Just this moment Burns poked his head though the door from outside.
"Oh, Colonel Potter, Sir. You are back! I have heard shooting."
"Burns, that was half a lifetime ago. Where have you been? Being in charge of this MASH doesn't just mean putting your name plate on the desk and ordering bugle calls in the morning." Potter looked at Burns scathingly. „This time, Burns, I will have to file a report on you, this just takes the cake."
Frank wimpered. "But Colonel, Sir…"
"Dismissed," he interrupted Frank straight away. "And will someone please take care of this Chinese Radar here. Hunnicutt, have a look at his leg wound. We are a hospital! Guards! Watch this man!" he ordered in staccato and walked though the swing doors into his office.
Absurd! Potter thought. A spy right under everybody's noses, incredibly brazen.
And the worst was, nobody had noticed. Everyone had been working so hard that they had not noticed a second Radar sneaking around the camp.
Potter looked at his desk. That Burns! He rearranged the entire office. The Colonel started returning his own order by putting his in-basket back to the left side of his desk. Then, after a moment of thought, he pushed all the neatly arranged pencils and pens into the middle of the table and mixed them up with one swirling movement of his hand. So there!
And now for a glass of Bourbon. He looked across to the drinks cabinet behind him. That moment, Radar came through the door with a glass of Bourbon.
"I thought you might need one of these after that shock, Sir."
"Thank you Radar, it's good to be back!" the Colonel said, almost softly.
He raised his glass and sipped some of its contents. "I just hope Pierce is alright...," the ringing of the telephone interrupted his thoughts.
"Alright, Sir. I've got it," announced Radar and disappeared though the swing doors.
Just as Potter wanted to lean back in his chair he heard a commotion outside his office with several voices shouting promiscuously. He put his glass down and was just about to get up from his chair, as Hawkeye walked in with his hands up behind his head and Flagg behind him, pointing the rifle between Hawkeye's shoulder blades.
"What is going on here, for Pete's sake?" shouted Potter aghast and jumped up from his chair.
"The Colonel here thinks I am a spy. But the real spy is Major Hayward," said Hawkeye, looking tired and pale, his hands still up. "I have finally sussed him out."
"Flagg, take that toy of yours down!" demanded Potter slightly agitated. "Pierce sit down, you look awful. Why Major Hayward?"
Hawkeye decided that he'd no longer keep everything back. He now blurted out all his observations and suspicions from the last few days. "Since the Major has turned up here, strange things have started to happen. Equipment has disappeared, medical and personal, medication, he himself sneaks around the camp when he should still be in his cot, healing his wounds."
He stopped because he started to get a strange look from Colonel Potter.
"Hawkeye, this time you are wrong. You may be a first class surgeon, but you are a lousy detective," the Potter almost smiled.
"Pierce is a spy and now he is trying to put the blame on someone else!" interrupted Flagg.
"Flagg, instead of staking out my surgeons, you should have opened your eyes a bit. You have been as blind as anyone else in this camp, and you claim to be from Intelligence!" Potter said as calmly as he could.
"None of my men is a spy, neither Pierce nor Hayward. We have had a Chinese spy in our camp who was dressed up as Radar. And no one, not even you, Flagg, had noticed. Everyone was so engulfed in their work. You, Hawkeye, were obsessed about there being something wrong with Hayward, and no one paid attention to the fact that there was a second clerk running around the compound."
"But how can that be? Hayward was really acting strange, he even pretended to be chums with Frank!" For the first time Hawkeye was feeling a bit confused about the whole thing.
Radar poked his head through the door.
"Erm, Colonel Potter, Sir. There was a call from I Corps."
He paused for a moment to get Potters attention, then continued, "They want to have Major Hayward back, because they think he is needed more urgently in the 8063rd."
"Whaaaaat?" asked Potter. "I don't believe it! Has anyone of these egg heads from I Corps ever been here to see how we work the skin off our fingers? We didn't even notice a damn Chinese spy walking amongst us!"
Colonel Potter shook his head in disbelief.
"Well, you won't need me anymore, now that all has been explained," said Flagg leaning against a filing cabinet. "Close your eyes. You know the procedure!"
"Oh, Colonel Flagg," said Potter with a saccharine smile, "if you could be so kind and take the door this time. It is really hard getting new window panes out here."
Potter closed his eyes and heard how Flagg left via the swing doors.
"Hm," said Hawkeye pensively, "I hate to admit it, but it seems that I was wrong in my views on Major Hayward." He grimaced.
"And I really think you should apologise to him," decided Potter.
Colonel Potter took Hawkeye across to the Mess tent. The camp had now come back to life. The last of the sleepy heads woke up when the shots fell in the Office. There was a small queue to the showers and a bad smell emanated from the kitchen.
Hayward sat in the Mess tent sipping some brown brew resembling coffee. Colonel Potter got down on the bench opposite him while Hawkeye went to get some of the brown beverage for himself and the Colonel.
"I have someone here who wants to apologise to you," Hawkeye heard Potter say when he arrived at the table.
He smiled awkwardly and sat next to Potter, "Thank you, Colonel."
Hawkeye squirmed a bit and Potter smiled. The great Hawkeye,embarrassed, he thought.
"Erm, this isn't my best subject," said Hawkeye, and decided to explain his behaviour from the start. "You appeared here in unusual circumstances. Right at a time when strange things started to happen around the camp and things disappeared. I had jumped to the premature conclusion that you might have something to do with it."
"Ah, therefore your great concern for my wellbeing and my staying in bed?" asked Hayward.
"We are always concerned about all our patients. At the 4077th you get the best care anywhere," said Potter and smiled again about the sign he had just driven under not even an hour ago. His boys were the best, and he wouldn't even allow an inkling of doubt in Major Hayward's remark.
BJ came in and walked straight towards the table of the three officers.
"How's the Chinese?" Potter asked him.
"That was a good shot, Colonel. You missed the artery by just half an inch. The MP can take him away once he wakes up later today," explained BJ.
"Ah, Major Hayward, there you are! How are you?" Nurse Johnson had noticed Major Hayward and came towards the little group with a seductive smile. "Your invitation to the officers' club really made for a refreshing change! How charming!" She slid onto the bench next to Major Hayward.
"You probably won't have time for that," interrupted Colonel Potter. "Major Hayward has gotten his marching orders, he's transferring to the 8063rd."
"Oh, that's so unfair!" said Johnson. "Just when we get a civilised, charming doctor, he's outta here before you can even say MacArthur."
"How can anyone be more charming than me?" asked Hawkeye and put on a cheesy grin.
"Are we not civilised enough?" wondered BJ.
"Well, in stark contrast to our full-time professional womaniser here, Major Hayward has proved some creativeness and humour when he wrote his invitation. He made it into a paper chase around the camp," explained Nurse Johnson.
"Paper chase?" asked Hawk and BJ in unison.
Nurse Johnson ignored them and turned to Hayward. "I would never have found the last pieces if I hadn't seen you behind the latrines. They were so well hidden!"
"And I thought no one had seen me! Thought I was sneaking around like the invisible man. No wonder Captain Pierce thought there was something odd about me."
Hawkeye leaned over the table and put his hand on Hayward's arm.
"I sincerely apologise!"
Now they all had to laugh.
That moment Frank and Margaret entered the Mess tent and thought the group was laughing about them.
"And I thought you were my friend!" said Frank towards Major Hayward and looked as if he was about to cry.
The others were laughing even louder and harder, until they all had tears of laughter running down their cheeks.