Part Ten - Apologies and letters from an old friend
After Klinger had confused everyone, including Frank, Sherman , Father Mulcahy and Sidney into being in the mess tent there was a fair few people in there. As the swamp rats, including a now almost sober Hawkeye, arrived they where followed in by Igor, Radar and Zale each carrying something. Igor and Zale carried a tray of drinks where Radar carried a rather large box and a pile of letters. However only two people in the group had a faint idea of what was going to happen tonight. After Zale and Igor left the officers all started talking at Klinger and Radar as one. "You got us here now what's going on?" Margaret asked. "This had better be worth it." Charles commented. "Its bound to be another section eight stunt" Frank added. "If your wasting my time you imbeciles" Charles said. "Now calm down please." Father Mulcahy pleaded and Sherman finally got everyone quiet by shouting "silence!"
Klinger and Radar exchanged worried Glances. Klinger spoke up first. "First of all this is NOT another stunt. I would never get others involved in my section eight attempts. Second of all I think it will be worth it from the details that I know about and I am now going to hand over to the person who planned this whole thing!" Radar cleared his throat and sighed.
"Well I guess you are wondering why you are all here. I would like to thank you all for being here you didn't have to show up but it makes it easier that you did.. I am sorry for the way I acted last night and keeping some of you awake. Well first of all I wanted to talk to you all. I know some of you where wondering why I never spoke up about my nightmares before. It was hard to say the words " Radar broke off " I wrote it down instead." He passed everyone who was a current resident of the 4077th an envelope. "I guess those who weren't here may have heard about what happened, if not this is not the time to ask." Radar said determinedly. He took another deep breath. "Don't open those now that was something I wanted to get out of the way and into the open first." He suddenly sat down shaking. His courage just about gone.
Hawkeye looked up for the first time. Wow if he was big enough to apologise for something that could not be helped then I can also apologise for acting like a jackass. Hawkeye cleared his throat. "Radar if you don't mind me interrupting there's something I need to say to. " "Sure go ahead sir, now's a good time anyway whilst I sort through these!" With that he and Klinger took pulled the box forward and began to quietly open it and sort through its contents. Hawkeye cleared his throat. "I am just going to come out and say it. I haven't been myself today for reasons that I cant go into. However that was no excuse for acting like a jackass and taking it out on my friends. I made a big fool of myself in front of most of the camp" He turned to BJ "I am so sorry for hitting you, um twice, I know that there is no way to make it up to you but that is not going to stop me from trying. I um" Hawkeye trailed off. BJ looked at his friend. "Hawk no need to say anymore, we all get effected by this place from time to time, apology accepted." To back that up he stood up and walked to where Hawkeye was sitting and give him a hug. "Just give me some warning next time I am going to get used as a punch bag okay? " Hawkeye was so overcome he could not say anything but he did manage to return the hug. When they eventually pulled away BJ turned to Trapper. "I have an apology to make to. When you first got here I was jealous of you. I was scared that with you two been such good buddies last time you where here that you would pick up where you left off and I would be out in the cold. I got to know you though and I got you completely wrong. I apologise for that. " Trapper looked shocked. "BJ I was jealous of you, I heard how close you and Hawkeye got and I felt out in the cold. If anyone has to apologise for that its me, I am so sorry to. " Hawkeye looked up. "You two where jealous of each other. Oh boy I have been a first class idiot, I thought BJ was ignoring me and I was mad at Trapper for not saying goodbye." With that he stood up and pulled his two best friends into a big hug. This time Trapper was the one feeling ashamed. "I regret doing that. I had Radar call everywhere we could think of to get in touch with you. I stayed around as long as possible before I was forced to leave for the flight home. I really missed you a lot, you made this place bearable for me pulling jokes on people. That's what kept me going. When I got home it was odd you not being there pulling a wise crack. I would still dive for the floor whenever there was a loud bang. That plus the nightmares terrible enough to make me scream in the night that's what sent me to that place. that's partly the reason I came back." This place really changed me, Louise never recognised me , and I had a real hard time adjusting at first. That was no excuse though." Trapper said looking ashamed. "What really got me as I am sure Radar will testify was I missed you at the airport by 10 minutes. 10 lousy minutes. When we drove to Seoul to pick up Beej that's all I could talk about for a while." "Its true, after he sobered up from the little adventure the three of us had getting back alive" BJ added. "Yeah , I still cant believe it. Radar ran into a mine field to get that girl!" This time Sherman and Margaret looked shocked. "You did what?" "I didn't think about it, I just sort of did it!" Radar protested, "Besides it all worked out well I the end!" "Oh boy I think I am going to start crying, There's so much that we don't know about each other still." Margaret said. "Me too!" said Radar where as everyone else cleared there throats. The three friends eventually pulled away and sat down together.
"Well I sorted through this now though it hardly seems appropriate now. " Radar said. "Oh trust me I think now is a great time for it. Follows on nicely from what we just been doing" Klinger said as he finished with his pile. "Yeah what is in the box and where did it come from?" Asked Sherman. The two passed a set of envelopes along to the old group of staff at the 4077th. Radar stood back up. "Those are ones you can open now. They are from Henry, its something I have known about for a while. It was only appropriate that Frank and Trapper are here too for this. The box came from Mrs Blake and Henrys family. It came with strict instructions for it to be opened when I thought the time was right and when drink was available. " "That seems fitting " Murmured Trapper. "Come on what's inn the box?" Said Hawkeye , his usual character returning. "You have to read the notes first" Said Klinger and Radar together. So that's what they did. They all opened them and began to read them. After a while Radar began to read his out aloud.
I guess if your reading this then something went wrong. I hope you never read this letter, son, but in the event of my death don't feel bad. Whatever happened was not your fault. You're a great kid and you are going to go far. You keep on doing a good job looking after the 4077th. I doubt if it was not for you then the place would not be as efficient as it could be. Also remember to look after your self. You keep out of trouble other wise I am going to come back and kick your ass. I have a good feeling about you , your going far and that talent of yours will see you well.
P.S there's something in the box for you all. Make sure that everyone gets there's."
Hawkeye cleared his throat. "I guess if we are in a mood for sharing then someone has to go next."
Everyone looked at each other. Sherman began to clear his throat but surprisingly it was Frank who spoke next.
If you get this then I guess I am not around anymore. I also figure that at least for a short while you will be in command of the 4077th. Well if that's the case I know that you try your best and do a good job of it. You will also try your hardest to make things more military around there. Well good luck in that. I know you and Major Houlihan think I am a drunken fool but I think you may just succeed in keeping the place going. Don't let anyone give you too hard a time but also give people a chance. I think you know who I mean when I say that. They may just surprise you like you have on occasions me. You have a lot going for you given half a chance, don't waste it.
"Well I guess is two should go next since it was clear Henry meant us" Trapper said. So Hawkeye and Trapper spoke together
"Well I know you two are inseparable and so its only fitting that you get copies of the same note. You are fine doctors and exceptional surgeons and both have long careers ahead of you. I might have let you get away with a lot of stuff but be gentle to your new co, Frank or otherwise. Keep an eye on Radar and don't lead him astray, what's the use I know you will keep an eye on him anyway. Hawkeye remember what I told you about the rules, you cant save everyone and no one expects you to. That goes for you to Trapper. Look after yourselves okay?"
You are an extraordinary woman and I have a feeling you are going as high as possible in this mans army. I also know that if the unthinkable happens that you will adapt should it all go wrong. You are an extraordinary Nurse but more important you are an extraordinary woman. I hope someday you will let people past your usual icy exterior. You have a lot of potential friends on camp if you let them in. I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world , if anyone deserves it ,it is you. Give Pierce and McIntyre a chance, they may be jokers but we both know that they are mighty fine doctors to. You are going far Major Houlihan , I have a great feeling about you. Henry. " This letter made her eyes water and so this time Charles give her a quick hug.
"Padre, I know life around here may be tough and you have helped a lot of people cope with the more disturbing aspects of this place. I know tat I am a sinner and possibly a lost cause but you have helped a great deal of people. I only wish you can continue doing so in a more peaceful atmosphere. I know that I will be eternally grateful for helping this place to function. I wish you all the happiness and success for the future. May peace be with you, Henry. Amen to that!" After Father Mulcahy finished his letter he asked Sherman what his said. Sherman duly responded.
"To whomever gets to be the next co of the 4077th M*A*S*H unit,
If you are reading this then you are in control of the best M*A*S*H unit in Korea. These are a great bunch of people and I hope you look after them well. Captains Pierce and McIntyre, in my case Pierce and Hunnicutt and Major Winchester would be fitting, are two pranksters but they are also the best surgeons I ever had the honour of working with. Major Burns and Houlihan are military by the letter. Major Houlihan however also does an excellent job of being head Nurse. Words do not do justice to Major Burns as I guess you will discover. However give him a chance. Watch out for a corporal named Klinger. You will spot him a mile away in some fantastic dress. He will do anything for a section eight as his file will testify and I fear you may find out. He has come up with some great attempts in the past. As for our resident padre, father Mulcahy, his a great guy who will do anything for anyone, normally without having to be asked. Finally our company Clerk Corporal O'Reilly. Everyone calls him Radar for an unusual talent that you will soon find out about. I suspect within a matter of minutes after your arrival. This may be something that you may have to get used to. However he is a fine fellow and an excellent clerk. I should know I trained him myself. I wish you all the best luck in the world whilst stationed at this humble little mash unit.
Coronal Henry Braymore Blake.
Well I could not agree more." Sherman concluded. "What did yours say Klinger?"
Klinger wordlessly passed his along to Sherman. Sherman read it then laughed. Off everyone's looks
He held it up. It was a completed section eight form. On the reverse Henry had wrote, as Sherman read out to the group, "I could not leave without completing your request. I am only sorry it is not a valid one however I hope you find a way out someday. Thank you for the laughs Klinger, you are one hell of an interesting guy and its been a pleasure to put up with your crazy antics. Henry!"
With that everyone laughed and had a drink. Radar opened the box. In it was several files each with a name on. There was also a one for BJ, Charles, Sherman and Sidney. This was a surprise for the four men. "Now you understand why you got asked to be here to?" Radar asked as he passed out the files. "Yes" They responded. The box also contained a leather notebook (Henrys war diary), some photographs, and a bunch of letters and two bottles of fine 12 year old scotch. The doctors and Margaret's file had a list of everyone they treated and what happened to them. The old gang at the 4o77th had details of Henrys recollections of amusing or special events. "He would right home to his family with them. His family worked hard putting them together. The original intention was to present them at a reunion when we all made it home. " Radar explained. "I sort of carried on what Henry started when he got sent home. It was easy to hide the files, they have been here all along under your noses. When Charles and BJ arrived I started one up for them two with Klinger and Nurse Kellye and Bakers help. For Sidney that was slightly harder but I managed it with a bit of bartering between clerks." He explained. Inside Klinger's was a list of all the section eight stunts he had pulled "so you didn't repeat them " Radar said, and Henrys thoughts on them. Radar's also contained memoirs and copies of his first and last reports under Henrys command. The letters where thank you letters from grateful patients. Everyone spent a long time swapping files, reading and talking. They even drank one of the bottles of scotch. It was a bitter sweet feeling the group left the mess tent that night. Radar had a feeling that his nightmares would get better that night. He was not wrong!