Part 2 by Rob Morris
Maverick surgeon Hawkeye Pierce felt he had been kept waiting quite long enough. He turned to speak to the camp's Second-In-Command.
"All right, Henry, where is he? I can't be stuck here while Old MacDonald installs his dentures."
Lt. Colonel Henry slapped down some papers he had been reading.
"You know, Hawkeye, its that kind of attitude that has you in here so blasted often. Potter isn't the enemy. For pity's sake, he tolerates most things that go on here-and that's saying a lot."
"I thought saying a lot keeps him up past his bedtime."
Sherman T. Potter of course chose that moment to walk in.
"My bedtime's no concern of yours, Pierce. I'll assume you know why you're here."
As Potter sat down, Hawkeye tried to keep a civil tongue in his head. He failed.
"Yeah, I know why I'm here. On top of your other Gestapo-activities, you're now going to play sex-police with me and Dish."
Potter had learned better than to respond to Pierce's barbs, and so kept on track.
"Lt. Dish has been transferred to a base near Tokyo. I don't care if you and a nurse rhomba between the sheets, Doctor. But tom-foolery in the shower is where I call it done! The one just happens. The other undermines my authority. I won't and can't have that. Not here. Not in a place where an ignored order can end a life."
Pierce shook his head in disbelief.
"I had a name I was ready to call you, Colonel, but I'm afraid Mr. La Gree might sue me for defamation of character."
Potter looked at him almost plaintively. Henry slipped out to the OR in the silence.
"Why must you make this more difficult than it has to be? I haven't demanded the unit be dry. I haven't said a damned thing about the couples doing their coupling. All I try to do is trim off the wild edges a bit. But I have you there, tearing off new threads as I go. Why, Pierce?"
Sensing some kind of possible rapproachment, Hawkeye moved in.
"You're right. You are far from the worst CO this place could have. But you seem to think this chaos-fountain can be contained. Well, here's news, Colonel : It can't, and neither can I."
"Actually, I can do you both in one fell swoop. I'm kicking you upstairs, Chief Surgeon Pierce! That'll tie up your energies in the one thing you do better than drinking or womanizing--saving lives. You're good, Pierce. But I'm better."
"We'll see. What about Winchester? I heard he went to Henry and virtually demanded this job."
"One, Winchester doesn't demand any more than you do. Two, Henry's bulwark is about day-to-day concerns. Anything permanent, goes through yours truly. Its all about division of labor, Doctor Pierce. As CO, I and I alone say how that division takes place."
Hawkeye opened his mouth, but before he could speak, in walked Major Margaret Houlihan, quite upset.
"Colonel! Why was Lt. Dish transferred without my say-so? I run the nursing staff in this camp, Sir."
Potter just looked at Houlihan.
"Such a deal might have existed in your own mind, Major. But I run the camp--the whole camp. You supervise the Nurses, just as Doctor Pierce now supervises the Surgeons, and Lt. Colonel Blake supervises this camp's day-to-day operation. But, as a fellow Missourian once put it, the buck stops here. Captain, Major---Dis---missed!"
Outside, the two fumed at their treatment.
"Well, Captain? Are you happy about what you did to Lt. Dish?"
"No. Mostly I'm unhappy about what Dish and I won't be doing to each other anymore."
"I'd have it out with you, Pierce, but its unseemly for a Head Nurse and Chief Surgeon to go at one another."
"Yeah. I mean, the whole camp would be talking---and it would undermine the CO's authority!"
Pierce was smiling, and soon so was Houlihan.
"Doctor! This is a side of you I've never seen before. Lets discuss how best to break the iron fist--in my quarters."
"Major, by the time we are done with him, Potter is going to need a shower-companion of his own. Maybe a couple of them."
As the odd alliance began, no one could predict where it would end up-least of all the two would-be conspirators.