Part 8 by Rob Morris
Colonel Potter quickly brought robes and towels to cover his drunken, unclad nursing staff.
"Ladies--please keep some mysteries out of our faces--especially those of us who haven't seen our wives in a dog's age."
But far from donning his offerings, the women merely twirled them above their heads. They also made barking noises--this an apparent reference to 'a dog's age'.
Ginger grinned, almost more blasted than the others.
"Butt--Colonel--ish My Birtday!"
Potter's mind placed Mildred's face on the young woman, and this helped--a little. He also took note that any yahoo who declared a woman of color to be less attractive had a blocked brain stem.
"Ginger--you're certainly dressed for your birthday."
Frank Burns walked out of X-Ray, and was playfully mooned by the nurses as he did. The Rear Guard Review took Captain Burns by surprise, to be sure. He snapped his fingers.
"Colonel Potter--are the nurses doing what I think they're doing?"
"Captain--I'd have to say that they are."
"Well--that display of theirs reminds me. Have You Seen Winchester?"
"I inflicted Winchester on Henry and The Padre. If Lt. Col. Blake can keep from gutting that Boston Bean-Brain while he's at The Evac---he can handle anything."
Burns shook his head.
"But why send Father Mulcahy?"
"To perform the Last Rites--in case poor Henry just can't handle it."
"Well, that's why you're The Colonel--you think of these things."
"Appreciate that, Captain--but my Bird can't seem to get these birds to put their feathers back on."
Abel cried out to the other Godivas.
Burns again shook his head.
"Colonel--I think I speak for all the men in this camp when I say---we can't handle 'deep knee bends'. Can I try something?"
"Frank--be my guest--and get them dressed."
Frank nonchalantly waltzed into the midst of the nurses. A visitor might wonder why the other men had not done the same. But with some men, if hiding a nude woman behind a shower-tent flap brought attention--voluntarily public nudity sent those same little boys into hiding. Plus-- Hawkeye's earlier assessment of the nurses' libidos had not been an inaccurate one. One man would no more venture into that zone than one woman would into a group of similar men. Life and Limb first, Sex second. Even in wartime.
Frank looked around, and smiled. Baker took note of this.
"Yew shee someshing yew like, Captain?"
Frank remained in an odd calm that only the victim of a lifetime of practical jokes could ever hope to develop.
"Sorry, Baker--its just, well, they really got you good this time."
"Who got ush good? Nobody's got anybody tonight---dammit the luck!"
"Oh--well, I meant McIntyre and Hunnicutt, of course. Their ultimate practical joke."
"Yeah. I mean, they stole the whole shower tent, while you were in it."
Kellye chimed in.
"Oh, they did not! By the way--Yer Cute, Frankie!"
Burns took Kellye's hand, and kissed it.
"The feelings mutual, Lieutanant. But--if those two didn't steal your shower tent--then why are you all naked out in the open?"
Some portion of their brains kicked back in.
"Wow..they did get us!"
Hands went over areas that were, by now, well-viewed, and the nurses dashed for their tent---where they slept it off. Potter walked up and quickly nailed a 'Quarantined' sign on the door. He nodded at Burns.
"Captain--I'm gonna ask how you did that. One minute--they're the Wanton Chorus--next, they're ducking for cover. You a hypnotist on the side?"
"No need for that, Colonel. I just did what my cousin the lawyer does--I changed the venue."
"I Don't Follow."
Frank's voice fairly crackled with that odd little laugh of his.
"Its really quite simple, Colonel. As long as they thought they were wild girls on the town, they were going to bounce around until our eyes popped out. But----once they thought they were in the shower, where no man is supposed to look at them---"
Potter raised and shook his finger.
"You restarted their modesty motors. Burns--you really understand women."
Frank seemed taken aback by this.
"Colonel--I may be crazy--but nobody I know is THAT insane."
The next day, Sherman Potter reviewed a hung-over-but-not-busting-out-all-over nursing staff.
"First, let me praise God above that we've had no wounded in the last 36 hours. Lulls always end very quickly, Ladies. We could have been flooded with no notice at all."
He let that sink in.
"Henceforth, when you take your showers, 5 of you will remain outside to guard all entrances and flaps. I'm ordering the men to do the same."
Kellye flinched. So did Baker. So did everyone. As long as it wasn't abused, the 'Mutual Show' had always been a way of getting by since Potter and Blake first came over the hill in July of that year.
"Further, for the next week, you are restricted to your quarters when not on duty. It won't make me real popular--but it does make me CO."
Rowdy soldiers of either gender tend to shut up when the dressing-down occurs. But Abel felt compelled to speak.
"Colonel--what if we have problems with-- administration?"
Houlihan, in the back with Pierce and McIntyre, spoke up.
"Administration's right here--Lieutanant 'Deep Knee Bends'."
"That certainly would have had me on my knees."
Trapper, distracted by BJ's recent hard fall from the Fidelity Wagon, offered up no follow-through. Potter ignored Pierce entirely--for now.
"As of right now, I am restoring the authority that Major Houlihan so obviously needs to keep you--soldiers--in line. Just above her in the Command Structure will be Captain Pierce. You are no longer to seek me out to settle disputes with the Major--period. You take your Direct Orders--From The Captain And The Major."
Hawkeye moved quickly, to consolidate this seeming victory.
"My First Direct Order Will, Surprisingly Enough, Not Involve The Supply Room at 10 tonight. Rather, I tell you ladies this--Any Problems You Have With Major Margaret Houlihan Are To Be Taken Up-- With Major Margaret Houlihan. I'd like to be a stop on your road to Paradise. But I am not someone to appeal to--for that, anyway. This war is a brand of Chaos that cannot be contained, despite what The Colonel seems to think. But that OR needs you--and you need The Major. Unless she's pulled out the guillitoine--don't come to me."
As the nurses left, as much relieved as resentful that The Old Order was back in place. Pierce and Houlihan nodded to each other in a gesture reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy. The Plan had worked.
Or so it seemed. Trapper, a little upset that Hawkeye had teamed with someone else on this scheme, spoke to Potter when everyone else had left.
"Colonel, you've been played. Hawkeye--"
Potter didn't look up from his writing, but raised his hand to shush McIntyre.
"...and The Major spiked the Punch at Ginger's Party. As a result, we all got to know the nurses rather well. This seemingly convinced me to restore Houlihan's authority."
"If you knew, then why---"
"The mere fact that the Nurses felt that they might get away with this proves our nascent lovebirds' point. I concede that The Major is needed to be a kind of Second-In-Command, like Henry, when it comes to that group. But they didn't gain a damned thing, Trapper. I beat em' both."
"How do you figure that?"
"Easy. I didn't restore Houlihan's authority-- I created it. That authority that was in her mind only is now quite real-- because I said so. Also, I tricked Pierce into giving his first Direct Order--and into delegating authority. The Rebels' Revels-- are a bit premature. Don't you think?"
"Master Con Artist--May I Please Learn At Your Feet?"
As he walked out of the CO's building, Trapper saw Hawkeye.
"So--Trap--does he know how badly we got him?"
Trapper decided to let Pierce's ego pop on its own.
"Hawk--let's just say--he knows that a certain someone got taken for a ride."
"Beautiful---hey, where's BJ?"
Trapper's smile faded.
"Taking and Embracing my advice---a little too much, if you ask me."
"We'll---talk to him. Carefully."
McIntyre looked around.
"Why is Klinger carrying that cot?"
Dillemas for another day.
Potter observed Henry's jeep pulling back into camp. The jeep was half destroyed. Father Mulcahy's hair was mussed, and he was frowning. Charles Winchester had been bound and gagged and tied to the front hood like a hunter's prize. Sherman looked Henry over. Mulcahy glared at the bound Winchester, for some unspoken sin, and then stalked off to his tent.
"Henry--did anything you might wanna tell me about occur on your trip to and from The Evac?"
Henry, who was sporting a black eye, shrugged.
"Nothing noteworthy, Colonel. You know these trips--nothing ever happens."
The two Colonels chit-chatted while the still-bound Charles fretted and pleaded.
Radar looked out at this scene.
"Boy-oh-boy--I am so glad that everything's back to normal. G'Night, Major Winchester--Sir!"