Part 7 by Rob Morris
Kellye merely shrugged at her Head Nurse.
"Major, the girls and I cleared this little birthday party with Colonel Potter. If you don't like it, take it up with him. That is how its supposed to go now, isn't it?"
Houlihan fumed, but let Kellye go. It wasn't her she was upset with, after all. She made for Potter's office. Knocking at the door, she got no response.
"Colonel--are you in there?"
"Come in, Major."
Potter looked up, very briefly.
"The Birthday Party stays. End Of Story. Good day, Major."
As had become her custom, Margaret gave up on this avenue of approach. Leaving the office, she saw a smiling Kellye in Post-Op, having beaten her to the punch. Houlihan took note of this, but again only saw a Nurse getting away with what she could.
The problem lay in Potter's reduction of her authority over the Nursing staff. She didn't want to bother Henry Blake with this. The Xo had his hands full with day-to-day operations, at which he did an amazing job, all things considered. So Major Houlihan went to the only ally she had in the struggle against Potter's autocracy. The Unit's Chief Surgeon, Captain Pierce. She knew he was in Post-Op, and so killed two birds with one stone.
"Nurse Kellye, I am relieving you. Make an end-run around me on this, and I'll use whatever authority I have left to make your life 100% Pure, Grade-A Hell."
Perhaps realizing she was earning an enemy where she should probably not have one, Kellye simply nodded and acquiesced. Baker made for the office door, but Pierce saw this and cut her off.
"Valerie--this stops now. I need the nurses here--in the Post-Op. You know Post-Op, don't you--where the patients are? Its where the Elite meet to heal."
Baker seemed annoyed.
"Captain--the nights can get very lonely, you know."
The only thing Pierce loved more than a good Nurse was a good challenge. He grinned, like a barroom brawler respecting a good blow to the chin--but prepared to give back far better.
"Listen Up, Missy Strata--That Didn't Work With Edwina--its not gonna work now."
"Hey, we found someone for Eddie--your pal Hunnicutt, remember? And it almost had you all in line--til someone broke ranks--Major!"
Houlihan shook her head.
"So I'm supposed to let you whittle away my authority and then feel like one of you when called upon? No Thanks, Baker. Doctor Pierce and I had a miserable barbecued steak and some cheese--and a great time--- while you were finding companionship for that all-thumbed wonder."
Baker left, to attend Ginger's birthday party. As Margaret had warned, that left her and Pierce alone in Post-Op. So they talked, as they attended to the patients.
"Major--first, thanks for the 'great time' bit. It was an opinion I happen to share. Now, what to do about getting you your job back--so to speak."
"Captain--I meant every word. It was the first date I've had in a long while where there were no--expectations."
"I'd be lying if I said I had no hopes--of moving up a notch. But, I have to admit, it was also nice knowing from the start for a change."
"Notches occur further down the belt, Captain. Right now--Potter's my concern. Now, he's not a dunce--and eventually--well, I believe my Nurses will cause him to see the light--the hard way."
"Point taken, Major. Anyone who thinks those ladies are soft, cute things that wait to service us has, besides the ability to see my innermost fantasies, another thing coming. Doctors don't debauch solo--and that is one tough group of drinking, swearing, shower-watching Amazons in khaki armor. One beer, and most would do a striptease show if you just dared them."
Margaret was both a trifle offended by Hawkeye's crudity, and appreciative of his insight. Most men didn't care enough about her nurses to see that they were just soldiers of another candy-stripe--and soldiers needed one leader in the combat that was The OR. Potter was severely mistaken in thinking that he could run them both directly and indirectly. He was The General, but the field needed a Topkick-and that was her.
"Pierce--do you believe what you just said--about one beer and then a fan dance?"
"Absolutely. Ok, its an exaggeration--but not by much. Being a professional little boy, I know how I've shocked women since way back--with my mouth. Burping or cursing--you name it. But those nurses are professional little girls--and any little girl worth her salt knows the effect of raising or ditching her skirt. Its less of a mating signal, and more of a 'I'm In Charge' gesture."
Houlihan smiled, and pulled a small silver flask from her jacket.
"Doctor--before we have a disaster in The OR--I have a plan. It disgusts me-- but I need my authority back. Will you do me the honor of spiking the punch at Ginger's party?"
Surprisingly, Pierce was hesitant.
"Look, Major--while a Nude Nurse Review would sure boost morale--this seems a trifle extreme, more than a bit mean, and counter-productive to efficiency in The OR. Granted--they're walking all over us, with Potter's unconscious blessing, but to go this far---"
A tipsy, waltzing Ginger walked in, and giggled. She posted something on The Post-Op wall. It was a crudely drawn picture of Hawkeye--with the words 'Banned For Life' written on it. She blew a drunken kiss, and left. Hawkeye now grinned.
"To Go This Far--Is Exactly What We Will Do."
And so it was that the contents of the flask, reinforced by Pierce's still, were emptied into the punch-bowl via a quickly-raised tent flap. Results would wait til later, though.
In a jeep bound for a Korean Aid Station were Lt. Colonel Blake and Father Mulcahy. They awaited a third voyager--they just would have preferred he didn't come. Henry honked his horn.
"C'mon, Winchester! I'd like to get a move on BEFORE the Korean Peninsula breaks off."
Indignant, Charles stuck his head out of his small but private tent.
"I shall be out, Lt. Colonel--when I am out--and not before. Is it not enough that the ahrmy places me here, under you, Potter--and Pierce? Do we have to go traipsing across enemy lines, leaving even the ex-trem-ely relative safety of this hellhole?"
"The Army is just funny that way, Charles. I'll have them check with your social calendar, next police action."
As Winchester withdrew inside, Henry turned to The Padre.
"Father--are you dead certain that there is a God?"
Mulcahy smiled slightly.
"Of course I am, Henry. In fact--I have proof."
"And what proof is that?"
"Simple--who is our travelling companion? If Winchester wasn't sent as a test of faith and patience-then I can discern no meaning at all to life."
"But he sure moves in mysterious ways."
The three departed just in time to miss the fireworks.
BJ Hunnicutt woke up with a hangover, next to a woman whose name he did not know. She asked him a question.
"Doctor--who is 'Peg'?"
BJ was torn between extreme guilt over his steep fall from the 'wagon' and extreme physical and emotional relief.
"I don't know anyone named Peg."
Trapper heard this, and liked it not a bit. His friend was now taking his earlier advice way too literally.
Radar ran into Potter's office, hyperventilating.
"Radar--son, what seems to be the trouble?"
O'Reilly was one of two people Sherman Potter didn't ride, because he knew he didn't have to. He and Henry treated the Iowa farmboy like a son, so his breathing was of great concern.
Placing the lad into his cot, Potter went outside to the compound to see what the fuss was all about. The Nurses were outside as well. Their uniforms, though, were still inside. Potter assessed the bare facts, and gave a reasoned, thoughtful response.