Chapter 2 - Sam Meets Dan
"First off, you are a damned coward for not trying to win back Margaret when you had the chance, and a damned fool for letting her slip away in the first place. Further, Ben, if this new girl doesn't think that you are good enough to meet her family, then I say, to hell with the little witch!"
Daniel Webster Pierce was a man of few words, except when he wasn't. Hawkeye had heard some variation on this speech since he told his father he was inviting Samantha, the woman he had met at the ski resort, to their home in CrabApple Cove, Maine. If it weren't so large a house, Hawkeye would have permanently moved out ages ago. But it was large, and more importantly, it was home. Home is where the arguments are, after all.
"Gee, Dad, I do wish you wouldn't sugarcoat it! Do you have any other pearls of wisdom to drop?"
"Oh, I'm wounded! Yeah, Doctor, I do have something else. Its a question. Son, have you told her The Truth?"
"What--truth would that be, Dad? There are so many to choose from, what with the Presidential Election only a few months back!"
"Ha-ha, wisenheimer! What I mean is the "By the way, Samantha, I don't grow old anymore, can run faster than most turbine jets, and can tear redwoods out, roots and all" Truth! Ben, those slime did things to you over there. You've changed, boy! Now I'm your Dad, and I always will be. But you've been talking about this woman as though you're serious. If you are, she deserves to know before you proceed-be it down the aisle or in the lake outside."
"Dad, you've---I've got to go!"
Dan Pierce barely registered the blur that his son became as he raced up the stairs to change for work. On weekends, Hawkeye was one of the replacement doctor/surgeons at an ER in Montpelier. A good distance to go--if one had to drive. Dan knew that his son didn't drive anywhere, anymore, except for appearances sake. If his enhanced musculature somehow got tired, he could always sprint-miles at a time.
Hawkeye had the kind of powers and abilities he had dreamed of as a boy. But it turned his stomach to think that it was all the unintentional result of sickening biological warfare experiments performed on people in Korea. How many had died, to make him and Margaret like this? These thoughts all left him, now, that Friday night. On Monday Morning, he would return home-and waiting for him would be Samantha.
Through that night at the ski resort, they had walked, and they had talked, and neither one seemed to notice the cold. Luckily, they had both ended up going pre-season, so it hadn't been crowded. As they spoke and agreed, and spoke and disagreed, Hawkeye felt his heart heal just a bit. The night before they left, he made sure to beg off of asking her to his room. Not that he didn't want this, but he was desperately afraid of boxing her in the way he felt he had Margaret. But to his delight, she happily agreed to come to see him in Maine. Noticing the Hospital 20 miles distant, he slowed his pace and started walking normally a mile away. The head nurse greeted him.
"Doctor Pierce! Oh, thank heavens you're here! Its a disaster!"
"Calm down, Susie. Now, what's a disaster?"
"You're the only one who got here. The other doctors live up in the hills, and the snow's already hit there!"
Hawkeye realized the level of his frantic self-involvement quickly. He now remembered piling through oceans of snow on his way there, and not noticing.
"Well, so it'll be a long weekend, is all. We can't get out, but neither can anyone else. Maybe some frostbite, but there won't be many people out."
"You don't understand, Doctor! Those roads out there were packed with leaf-gawking tourists, most of whom have nary a clue how to drive on roads like these in snow like this! Were gonna be packed, and soon! Oh, I gotta go! Take care, doctor!"
"Wait! You're going? Now?"
"Doctor, I have two kids and a baby sitter who left an hour ago, despite my promise to double her money! In good weather, I might chance it, but not now!"
Hawkeye was hardly the only one on staff at the hospital. But the specialists who were stuck there with him were not going to be any help. In the distance, he saw ambulance lights, lots of them, probably from multi-car pile-ups.
"For three nights only, folks, it's Korea On Ice!"
As Dan Pierce tried to fix a door hinge, he felt a tap on the shoulder. He then turned and saw what all the fuss was about.
"You would be Samantha."
"Well, I do try to be."
"Wish you were less of a snob."
Samantha smiled, regarding Daniel. He was the 2nd most straightforward person she had ever met.
"And why would I be a snob?"
"Easy. Ben asks you to meet his kin, you jump at the chance. He asks to meet your folks, though, and it just can't be done. Easy math says that you're ashamed to have my son meet your parents. And don't tell me its because they're snobs, cause I'm not buyin'!"
"Weeell, the truth is, Mr. Pierce, is that my parents have never approved of any man that they themselves didn't select for me. Why put Hawkeye through all that?"
Suddenly, Dan sympathized.
"Oh, that sort. Say no more, my dear! Ben's Mother, God Rest Her Soul, had a family even she didn't like to invite over much. She loved them, but they were difficult, and I was their difficulty. Heh, heh! Glad they weren't into Voodoo!"
"Oh, my, yes! All those pins!? Never could stand it, myself!"
Still trying to fix the stubborn hinge, Dan laughed out loud at what he perceived as Samantha's joke.
"My son--never stood a chance, did he? Once he started talking to you, I mean."
Feeling the break, Sam followed through.
"No more of a chance than I had, once I started talking to him. Hawkeye is really something special, Mr. Pierce!"
"Oh, for pity's sake, call me Dan! Look, Samantha, once I get this door hinge fixed, how's about some toasted cheese and bacon with a slice of tomato? I'm better with a spatula than a screwdriver, thankfully."
Dan went in to get a screw for the hinge. When he emerged, he noticed that the loose hinge-wasn't.
"Well, I'll be. Must have just seemed loose. Good with me, on to the skillet!"
Samantha loved her sandwich. It wasn't that food back home was bad, or bland. Far from it. But it would surprise people to learn just how boring great food can become when served the same way every time-even if that way is perfection.
"Thank You, Dan! That was fantastic!"
"Just cheese and bread, really, kiddo!"
Sam's eyes darted upward and sideways in a motion that made Dan understand why Ben didn't care if he never met her family.
"Then maybe I appreciate the effort. So Hawkeye will join us on Monday morning?"
"Can't say, right now, Sam. Big snowstorm hit Montpelier, radio said. Lots of people injured in car accidents. Can't get through, myself."
That night, Sam stayed in the room once occupied by Dan's stepdaughter, before his second wife died of pneumonia. The young woman had gone to live with her father in early 1951. She had stopped corresponding with Hawkeye at the insistence of that same father, who never cared for Dan.
But she couldn't sleep, and so made a choice. Into a maelstrom of an Emergency Room came Samantha. Hawkeye didn't notice her, as he seemed to be the only doctor there. He was starting to lose it.
"Please! Everyone! You'll be treated as soon as I can get to you! I---SAM?"
"Yes, Hawkeye, I'm here. I--phoned your Father before leaving home, and he said you were stuck, so..."
He kissed her, but she felt a tinge of regret.
"I'm glad you did come. It makes what I have to do easier."
"Why? What do you have to do?"
He closed his eyes, afraid to speak.
"I have to stop pretending that I'm less than what I am."
Samantha had one day thought to say those words to him, and so was quite surprised. But Hawkeye had made his choice. Questions or no, people were coming in with some bad wounds, and even those who could wait--really couldn't.
Moving at his true pace, Hawkeye had every wound cleaned, treated, and bandaged carefully within 5 minutes. The breaks and bruises took another 10. But still the ER was not clear. The shouts Hawkeye feared had begun.
"WHAT ARE YOU?"
"THAT SPEED! DID YOU SEE HIM?"
"YEAH, HE HELPED US! PROBABLY AN ALIEN, LOOKING FOR SLAVES!"
The next several comments were even less kind and the patients began to look like a mob-maybe even a lynch mob. Hawkeye had upheld his oath, but his life would be over soon. The people who had made him like this would certainly seize the opportunity to hold him for study. But then, hope emerged. Sam held up her hand, and recited words.
"Let your fear pass; Let your worries unwind; Put all this chaos from your minds; Let your common sense be now deceived; It was normal-paced care you did receive; And, er--Please drive carefully as you leave!"
Followed through by a twitch of Sam's upper lip and nose, the people did as she said. She then turned to Hawkeye, not knowing what to expect. To her joy, he was smiling, and holding two 4 oz. bottles of soda. She took one.
"Sam, I owe you a big explanation. But for now, here's to us-the Secret Couple."
"Hawkeye, we both have some explaining to do-but, as you say, here's to the Secret Couple!"
For the next several hours, the explanations were put on ice, the soda was cool, and the kisses were warm.
Hawkeye still didn't want to live without Margaret. But for the first time in a long time, he saw that it might be possible to do so. Certain images persist, though.
Having been phoned and told to await a big explanation on Monday, Dan Pierce was certain he saw a blur in his front yard. A blur that he knew as Hawkeye's. But it was gone before he could blink, so he assumed he had simply made a mistake.
Another person who felt they had made a mistake was the Chief Of Training for Army Nurses for most of the Eastern Seaboard, the only person on Earth faster than Hawkeye. Margaret Scully raced back toward her home near Fort Monmouth, NJ. Hugging the coastline as she went, she could tell herself that the salt in her eyes was from sea water. It was a good lie, one often used-by Hawkeye Pierce. It was a lie Jack Scully was starting to regret believing in.