Chapter 2 - The Reunion and The Reptile
December 28, 1954 -Early Morning on Ohto Island
"Not what you had planned for,eh, Steve?"
Reporter Stephen Martin's friend, a former aide to the great and tragic Admiral Yamamoto, had a very Japanese bearing, but a positively British talent for understatement. With the natives of Ohto Island in an uproar, claiming that a monsoon on two legs named Godzilla had wrecked their homes and poisoned their wells, this was indeed not what he expected.
All in all, he'd rather be home, seeing if Cousin Perry was going to win his first case as a Defense Attorney. But his editor, George Taylor, had insisted he go to Asia, to investigate the massive disruptions of shipping around the Sea Of Japan. He was at least able to get out of his other assignment.
"No, my friend, this is not what I had in mind. But if some sort of Jurassic leftover actually exists, here on Ohto, then it'll make Carl Denham's Kong look like a monkey's uncle!"
Since Skull Island had sunk into the sea, back in 34', no one had been able to confirm Denham's accounts that said King Kong was from a place full of dinosaurs. Whatever lived here, on Ohto, would be utterly confirmable. More, Stephen Martin could repay a debt to an old friend, by granting him an exclusive look at the creature.
"I'm told, Steve, that Yamane-San was quite pleased that you passed the news to him first! Will Serizawa-San also grace us with his presence?"
"I'm afraid not. Serizawa's scarring keeps him out of the public's view. But Dr. Yamane will be here, as they say, with bells on. Wild horses, and all that!"
Once, in strictest confidence, Dr. Serizawa had told Martin that his scarring came from analysis of bacteria lifted from meteors taken from a site in Korea. The place had been a POW camp, but when Stephen tried to find it, he got stymied by talk of classified material. The only thing officially on that site-ever-was a MASH-a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, the 4077th.
Ironically, it was a reunion of that same Unit, to be held in Tokyo, that he had ditched to be on Ohto Island. He was a good reporter, and felt that covering a bunch of over-happy, drunken medics preening for newsreel cameras was beneath him. Suddenly, Stephen Martin and his friend had their reverie broken by a sound of thunder.
Back in Tokyo, those same medics were neither drunk nor happy. Everyone seemed on the surface to get along well enough. But the only one who seemed genuinely pleased was the event's organizer, General Tacken. His old acquaitance Sherman Potter was going to do his best to change all that.
"Well, well, Colonel Potter! How is it going? My boys sure put a lot of attention to detail here, didn't they? Bet you folks appreciate it! Any problems, though? No need to make an unhappy newsreel!"
"General, I can honestly say, on behalf of my former command, that, except for the fact that you have commandeered our 1st Reunion, relocated it on the other side of the globe, didn't allow our loved ones to come with us, packed us all into a single transport, AND put us up in barracks instead of hotels, that absolutely everything is hunky and dory!"
The Colonel's sarcasm rode a wave straight over Tacken's head. He put two thumbs up.
"Aces, Sherm! Aces! Wait'll ya see the food! Quite a spread!"
While walking over to place flowers by a picture of Henry Blake, Sherman Potter wondered if he shouldn't sell drilling rights to the General's head next time he visited Texas.
Across the makeshift Hall from one another, BJ Hunnicutt and Trapper John McIntyre exchanged harsh stares. This was not their first meeting. It had taken Hawkeye Pierce's direct intervention to keep the two from each others' throats. As it stood, both San Francisco Bay Area Surgeons might one day be friends. Today, however, was not that day.
"Hey, BJ, are we good?"
"If you're asking me whether or not I'm going to start another fight, Trapper, then the answer is yes, we're good for now."
"How's Hawk holding up?"
"Well, so far, he's good, too. He stopped talking to his invisible friend "Al", anyway, as soon as things were settled."
Neither McIntyre nor Hunnicutt would admit this to him, but it was only because of their concern for Hawkeye's sanity that the recent unpleasantness had been settled amicably. All his barely-lucid talk of time-travel and invisible friends had sobered the two up and made them put aside their considerable differences for their friend's sake. Still in all, it had been rough. Very rough.
"I'm glad to hear that, BJ. Really. If he starts in again, though, I'm tellin' Sidney!"
"Trapper, on that, and only that, we're agreed. How's about we steer clear, though? This is a big room, and there's lots of people we can talk to besides us."
Trying desperately to avoid starting in again, Trapper nodded in agreement.
"Sounds like a plan, ta me!"
It was a credit to these two men that, despite the images of chairs being broken and tables overturned and scores settled running through their minds, that they did in fact steer clear of one another-for as long as they could.
Some people, however, did not know when they were annoying the living hell out of another human being. One such man was Frank Burns. The now-constant subject of his attentions was Doctor Charles Emerson Winchester the Third. Not quite believing all the stories about Lieutanant Colonel Burns, Charles had been gracious and attempted to chat with Frank on the plane over. Now, to see Winchester's face, you could see he was a believer.
"D--hhaoctor Burns, I never said we SHOULD have made use of the Atomic Bomb in Korea, meehrly that we should have allowed General MacArthur the negotiating option of it! One cannot expect to actualllly use such powers without retaliation."
"Hey, MacArthur didn't bluff, pal! When it came to the Big A, he'd either use it or lose it! What's the point in having the power of the Hydrogen Bomb if we never touch the darned thing?"
"Doctor---Frank, there are cerhtain things one never does, just because one can! Surely you know your H.P. Lovecraft, and the folly of seeking power for its own sake?"
"Lovecraft? Nah, I'm not into that Porno filth! Give me movies where people keep their clothes on, friend!"
"Be-heee that as it may, Doctor, my point is, the civilian sector could have suborned the military without humiliating one of the greatest military minds in history! Truman could have had MacArthur as his staunchest ally, but was too stubborn to see a third path!"
"Here, here! Yeah, that little piano-player just about ruined everything there was to ruin! Heh! Good thing we've got a man like Ike, now!"
"No, no! Again you misappehrend me, Doctor Burns! I did not vote for Truman either, but I feel, given what he was facing, he did a passably competent job! I, too, am glad that General Eisenhower now sits in that office! But you, Sir, would do well to show proper respect for all those who have held that office-well, perhaps not Harding, but thennn..."
"You know, I am a Lieutanant Colonel! You are still just a Major, buddy! Howzabout some proper respect aimed in YOUR direction? Er, I mean, aim it at me...I think."
"I am an inactive resarvist, 'Colonel' Burns! Even if ,though, I should have the graaaave misfortune to serve under you as a Buck Private, I should like to think that I would still deliver this message to you:
Get back from me, You Sad, Strange, Pathetic Little Willy-Worm of a Man!
Get gone from my sight and darken my door no furthar!"
With that, Winchester stalked off. Without rank to back Frank up, he had been told off by quite a few people, this day. Charles, who did not know Frank, was his last hope. Burns wandered the hall, lightly sobbing. If it had not been for the wreck of his home life, he would never have come. His cries did not go unnoticed.
"Should I try, Margaret?"
Margaret Houlihan looked up at her current love from her chair.
"Most of them, he had coming, Hawkeye. But for a few of those remarks and pranks...well, honestly, honey, you do owe him. But tread carefully and be gentle, that's all I ask!"
Bravely, Hawkeye Pierce went over to awaken the Frank Burns he had seen only briefly during the war; the human being, underneath the bluster and pain. Problem was, with Frank, that it was less a simple wake-up and more of a ritual summoning.
As Pierce walked over, trying to figure out the right words to banish the monster, so to speak, a thousand other conversations took place. Most of them had nothing at all to do with the 4077th's senior staff. There were lovers who finally broke it off, and lovers who couldn't. There were grudges buried and renewed.
In at least two cases, young women presented young men they had known with pictures of children with familiar faces. There was a casual denial of responsibility, and an equally casual proposal of marriage. Ironically, the delighted young woman who was proposed to was lying; the one who was asked how many lovers she had was telling the truth.
Incidents were recalled, to joy and regret. Almost everyone had a story of where they were when the news about Colonel Blake came.
Zelmo Zale forged a strong business partnership in the hall that would one day lead to a Fortune 500 company. His new partner was one Luther Rizzo.
Max Klinger was civil enough toward everyone, and good-naturedly accepted dress jokes, even from Zale. For the most part, though, he stared and stared and stared at a picture of his wife Soon-Lee, and never ceased to marvel at how much it hurt to miss her.
Carefully, discussions began about the many health problems that a number of them and their children had been having. They wondered if it didn't have something to do with the war, and the grim times they had all been ordered never to speak upon.
Finally, Pierce felt he had the words to calm Frank Burns down, and let him have a good time, while he was there. He approached the nervous surgeon.
"Why don't you just...calm down and... have a good time, while you're here, ya know?"
"Well, gee! You think so? Honest Injun?"
"Yes, I do."
"Well, alright, then!"
Burns calmed down, and with everyone having vented at him, he became part of the larger conversation on the floor. He even hit it off with quite a few people.
Meeting in the middle of the floor were Pierce, Houlihan, Potter, Hunnicutt, McIntyre, Winchester, Klinger, Radar, and Sydney Freedman. They all stared over at the apparently reborn Frank Burns, and, without meaning to, all uttered the exact same question about this turn of events.
On Ohto Island, a face stared over a hill. But it wasn't standing on top of the hill; it was standing behind it. It was the face of something impossible. Nature's perfect killing machine married roughly with mankind's perfect doomsday machine. It was not a face that Doctor Keiyho Yamane, his daughter Emiko, or Stephen Martin would ever be permitted to forget. It was the face of Godzilla. It then departed Ohto Island, making way for a destination no one could precisely guess, with the exception of Radar O'Reilly, who had felt the beast's coming for hours, now.
"General, there has got to be a mistake! This food is--is--"
"Ain't it great, Sherman?! I had to search high and low, but I found it! This is the typical diet of the 4077th MASH! Liver, Fish, Corned Beef Hash , and Chipped Beef! They don't serve this exact meal, anymore! You guys are soooo lucky!"
As the General smiled, everyone - including Frank and Hawkeye - stood in dumb silence. No one had expected this particular "spread". While the radio played music over the loudspeakers, Father Francis Mulcahy looked up and quietly said something to his employer.
"Forgive me. Please. But is there possibly any way this day could be made any worse?"
Just then, the music silenced, and news came over-grim news.
"This just in to the Armed Forces Radio Network. Reports are confirmed of a large dinosaur-like monster emerging from Japan's Ohto Island. Possibly 200 feet tall and believed to be radioactive, this giant strange creature is called Godzilla. The Great Fear is, the monster may be headed directly for Tokyo Bay. More news will be delivered as we recieve it. The Armed Forces Radio Network now resumes its Program of music with the immortal "StarDust".
For 15 minutes, absolutely no one spoke. All waited for someone, maybe BJ or Trapper, to yell, "Gotcha!". But this never happened. For good reason. It wasn't a joke. Sidney Freedman looked over at Radar, who grimly nodded his head. This was what O'Reilly had felt over the Sea of Japan, on the trip over. When someone finally spoke, it was again Father Mulcahy, and again he looked up.
"You do realize I meant that whole "day getting worse" thing in a purely rhetorical sense?"