It was relatively early in the morning. I know Trapper had gotten his papers for his departure. I didn’t have a good feeling when I saw his helicopter leave.
Just then, Radar came into the operating room, and asked for everyone’s attention. I could see from his expression that it wasn’t good news. All motions came to a halt. I held my breath.
“I have a message from some officials. Captain John “Trapper” McIntyre’s helicopter was shot down over the Sea of Japan. It spun in. There were no survivors.”
I looked around the room, and no one had dry eyes. A medical instrument was dropped. Henry put an arm around my shoulders, and gently escorted me out, and into his office.
“Hawkeye? Are you okay?”
“N-no. This can’t be. He was so excited to go home. He can’t be dead.”
“Hawkeye, I’m sorry.”
I put my face in my hands, and cried. I couldn’t let Henry see me like this.
“Hawkeye, if you’d like, I could call Sidney.”
Henry patted my shoulder, and left. I cried harder.
“Sir? I-I’m sorry if now’s a bad time.”
“It’s okay, Radar. What can I do for you?”
“Oh, nothing, sir. I want you to have this until you feel better.”
It was his teddy bear. He never lets anyone hold it for too long.
“You’re special to me, sir. And he’s special to me too. He was from my brother who died in combat. He helped me, so maybe he could help you.”
I smiled, and thanked Radar. I wasn’t allowed to work in the O.R afterwards, Henry’s orders. Frank wasn’t pleased, but Margaret just shut him up. So, I went back to the swamp, and poured myself a drink. I thought back to when we first made the still. We were so happy.
I drank myself to sleep, and missed out on most of my meals. Luckily for me, Radar dropped off some stuff with a note that read, “I care about you, sir. - Radar” I put the note in my coat pocket. He really was a sweet kid.
I ate whatever was on the tray, and opened a magazine that was on my cot. Something that was on Trapper’s side of the swamp caught my eye. It was his robe. It too had a note in his pocket.
“For Hawkeye. To think of me fondly, and to keep me around. You’re my best friend, and I love you. I wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for you. -Trapper.” I quickly put his robe on. It smelled like its owner. I laid back in bed with it on, and slept.
I had a series of nightmares, all revolved around Trapper, so I just made myself some coffee and stayed awake. At least I saw the sunrise.
Henry told me to take the rest of the week off, but I couldn’t help but feel bad.
“Hawkeye, I don’t want you in the O.R distracted or missing Trapper more than you are now. It’s not safe for you, and it’s not safe for everyone else.”
I nodded and sat back. Henry’s office wasn’t that bright so he saw my dark circles and how tear-stained I looked.
“I don’t mean to sound offensive, Hawkeye, but you look like hell.”
“I feel like it too. I couldn’t sleep.”
“Nightmares about Trapper?”
“They always feel so real. It’s like I could touch him.”
Henry nodded, and told me that I had an appointment with Sidney today, and to be honest as much as possible. I agreed, and left his office. Unfortunately, Frank was around.
“How do you feel being alone again?”
I tried not to get angry, so I just said, “fine, Frank.”
“Really? You had quite an episode yesterday.”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Frank.”
“For sure. You’re just another page in old Trapper’s book. Oh wait, he’s dead.”
Frank started laughing, and I had enough. So, I did what any sane person would do, and punched him.
“You don’t know anything about what Trapper meant to me. If you were any smarter, you’d know to keep your mouth shut about him. Hell, I wouldn’t miss you if you had traded places with Trapper, but you don’t see me telling that to Margaret.”
He got up and left. I didn’t care where he went, but it was probably to talk to Henry. Poor guy can’t get a break.
Unfortunately, I was right. Henry knocked on the door, and asked if he could come in. I couldn’t say “no”, but I did offer him a drink. He declined due to the time.
“It’s half past nine. Are you sure that you should be drinking?”
“Hawkeye, are you feeling okay? Frank told me that you hit him, which isn’t a shock. I just wanted to check up on you.”
“Honestly, no. It was really hard on me to lose Trapper. I can’t close my eyes without hearing his voice, or having a nightmare about the events.”
“I understand. If I could trade lives with him, believe me I would.”
“I appreciate the sentiment, but I need the both of you. You remind me of my dad. Trapper reminded of something that I always wanted.”
“What is it, Hawkeye?”
I thought about it for a moment. I wasn’t sure what to say, except the first thing that came to mind.
“Love? You loved Trapper?”
“I did. Hell, I still do, but I can’t tell him that, now. I’ll never be able to. You don’t know just how much this hurts me. I can’t shake the feeling that he’s waiting for me.” I was starting to get anxious due to me telling an official my feelings for another man. I could get thrown out if the wrong person finds out.
“You mustn't tell anyone about this, Not Sidney, not Father Mulcahy, or any other official. I won’t know what to do with myself if they find out.”
“I understand, Hawkeye. Your secret’s safe with me, I promise. Now, finish getting dressed, Sidney’s on his way.”
I nodded, and watched him leave.
Minutes passed, and I was waiting for Sidney. He came in, and greeted me.
“I’d like to skip the pleasantries, for now. I heard about Trapper, and I’m sorry for your loss.”
“No, no it’s not. Tell me what happened after you found out about Trapper’s passing.”
I told him everything. Every emotion that I felt, and every thought that crossed my mind.
“Hawkeye, this bears just one question.”
“What is it, Sidney?”
“Did you love Trapper? I won’t tell anyone if you don’t want me to. Y’know, doctor-patient confidential, and all that.”
“I know. I guess I might as well be as honest as possible. I did. Still do.” I had tears forming, but I couldn’t let them fall. I’m already weak enough.
“Hawkeye, I don’t say this very often but, I think you’re pretty strong to keep going when you’re in such a strong state of grief.”
“You’re just saying that. I’m doing what I was taught.”
“And that is?”
“Survival. Not everyone lives. You gotta die sometime, even if it means that your best friend goes before you. I won’t come to the swamp, and be able to deal with every day life the same way again. Frank gets on my last damn good nerve, and tap dances on it. It’s like he’s asking for me to hurt him.”
“Frank doesn’t understand basic human emotions at times. Do you want to tell me why Henry talked to you?”
“He wanted to talk to me about Trapper. As well as to why I hit Frank.”
“I can understand hitting Frank, but he did mention you offering him a drink. May I ask why at this hour?”
“I can’t face the day the same way anymore. Without Trapper here with me, it’s back to being miserable again. I just don’t know what to do.”
“Tell you what, we’ll schedule a few appointments a week, and try to make this prison a home. How does that sound?”
“I’d like that. It sounds easier than just forgetting that Trapper never existed.”
Sidney smiled, and noticed Trapper’s robe on my bed.
“He left you a parting gift.”
“If you call it that. I think he knew that he wouldn’t make it home, so he wanted me to keep something to keep him close.”
“An ominous feeling can make us exaggerate more than usual. However, I think he wanted you to have his robe. Did you check the left hand pocket?”
“No.I only checked the right one. Why?”
“It seems like there’s something in it.”
I reached in, and low and behold, he was right. There was a bottle of Trapper’s cologne, another note, and what appeared to be his dog tags.
“Would you like me to read it aloud, or would you like to read it?”
I handed him the note to read aloud.
“To my dearest Hawkeye, if you are reading this, then it means that the worst situation came true. I’m sorry that I never told you how I truly felt about you. However, I want you to keep me with you at all times. so I gave you my tags (the originals. I took the copy with me), and a bottle of my cologne. It’s to help you whenever you miss me, or want to visit me in a different time. The ring was a gift that I got you while we spent time in Tokyo. I wanted to give it to you before I left, but I wasn’t able to. I hope that you can forgive me, and or find some sort of closure out of this. Love, your best friend, Trapper. PS, punch Frank in the face for me. He insulted me for sounding like we’re dating while I wrote this. (I didn’t realize that he was looking over my shoulder.)”
I looked up at Sidney, who gave the note back to me to hold onto. There was a long silence.
“I think he truly loved you, Hawkeye.”
I knew he wanted to break the silence first, but for once I didn’t have words.
“I-I guess he did.” My voice was strained. Emotions stirred in my brain. I didn't know what else to say.
“I know that I can’t bring Trapper back, but would you like for me to bring back some of those fun memories?”
Sidney left after we made, what felt like, a million appointments, and promised me a scrapbook.
“You okay, Hawk?”
I could tell that it was Henry, making sure that I was okay.
“I think this is as good as I’m going to feel for a while. However, I have to thank you.”
“Everything. It’s going to be hard going back to being alone again, but it can’t be too hard. Besides, there’s always a death in war. Sometimes, it’s just not the one that you want. I’m going to miss Trapper, and I’ll reflect on our fun moments and smile, but for now, he is but a memory. But, I’ll always treasure the fun that we had.”
“I understand, For now, take it easy, and you let me know what I can do. Okay?”
“Yes, sir.” I smiled.
“Good, Now, let’s get a drink, and talk.” Henry finally laughed. I was thankful for his concern, but life’s nothing without a happy Henry.
“Right behind you.”