Well, it's been a full week since I arrived at the 4077th. The Colonel, Sherman T. Potter, has assigned me triage duty - that's the prioritizing of patients due to their wounds, not their nationality. A far cry from when we left enemy soldiers to rot, and they us. Maybe mankind is seeing real progress, despite pigs like Kern, Kurgan, Kirin, and Drakov....say, did you ever notice how many of our foes have "R" in their names? Something to ponder, when I have time.
Right now, this letter is begun in the midst of hideous 36-hour marathons, all run in the blood of young men. it's nothing I'm not used to, nor is it anything I think I'll ever get used to. Colonel Potter has been eyeing me askance, and for good reason. Back in what we thought would always be called "The Great War", I met a soldier who had lied about his age. A soldier named Sherman T. Potter.
1917 ,WORLD WAR ONE, THE ARDENNES
"Jehosophat, it's comin down! Hey, Mister Macleod! Have ya fixed up Ferdie yet?"
Duncan looked over at young Sherman and shook his head. Ferdinand Johansen, a boy Potter knew from basic, was beyond help. Ironically, he and his friend had been well hid from the shelling ; but a stray had hit the ammo dump, shredding young Ferdie, but entirely missing Sherman. For Potter, it was his first real taste of death. Sadly, it would not be his last.
"WELL, That's just great! What are you, a doctor or a quack?"
"Neither, Potter! I am a Medic. There are no doctors out here. Living ones, anyway. Your friend and yourself got lost, along with me. We found each other, and if you don't keep quiet...Oh, damn!"
In the door stood a German officer named Krause, and his soldiers. Macleod had known of him since he was a soldier in the Prussian Army of Frederick the Great. A man of honor toward other immortals, but ruthless toward mortal enemies. Sherman Potter was beaten silly and shaved bald. Macleod eventually escaped, along with other prisoners, including Potter. But that was not all there was to it. Not by a damned sight.
MASH 4077th, The Korean War
But it has been so long, Connor, I cannot believe he remembers me. His treatment at the POW camp left him in sorry shape, for a brief time. But still I see that young man's angry face, hateful because I could not do for his friend what my body does for me just by keeping my head.
The Goddess I mentioned? Her name is Margaret Houlihan. Oh, kinsman. She is THAT sort. I want her merely by way of wanting her. But I have 3 serious obstacles to the affections of our beauteous Head Nurse. One is Major Houlihan's annoying paramour, Frank Burns, whom I have described previously. He still jumps at the sound of my voice. Another is Ben Pierce, whom I have declared a truce with in our bids for female companionship. Once my novelty wore off, things were a bit more even, anyway. A third is my retrograding as Sergeant. The Major likes to date men of equal or higher rank only.
Still, if I see an opening, I'm moving in. Burns is married, and has offered her no commitments. Pierce dances around her with dumb remarks. I would like to see the long path their relationship takes. As to my rank, I have been known to fetch the affection of noble women. As Ben Franklin once said, "Once negotiations have begun, neither a fortress nor an unsure woman will last very long." I always liked him. Of course, he should never have put up that kite near an Immortal duel, but that was our Benny.
Since Burns cringed at my approach, I decided to ask Ben Pierce what he thought about my chances with Major Houlihan. He was guardedly optimistic.
"Your chances, Duncan? Slim, None, Fat, Uh-uh, No way, and snowball in hell! That, of course, depends on whether Hot Lips is in a good mood."
"Ah, don't sugar-coat it, Man! Give it to me straight!"
As I bantered with Pierce, offering my opinions of his opinions and vice-versa, I noticed something odd. Father Mulcahy--Darius' student, here, was watching the Swamp, jotting notes. He later explained that the Swamp- Doctor's Quarters - was kind of Sin Central here at MASH. He liked Ben and BJ, and even Frank, but wanted to use it as an example to show what not to do. Given some of the stories I've heard, that's probably not a bad idea. Still, if it had not been the Priest saying this, I would have said it had the feel of a cover story. But it was the Padre, so I'm probably worrying too much again.
My real worry remained Margaret Houlihan. Pity she's not one of us--but, for how I scared Burns, she nevertheless wanted my head. For a last look into those eyes, I might've let her have it. As it stood, she let me have it -with both barrels.
"All I'm saying, Sergeant, is that Major Burns is your superior officer. What you did bordered on a threat! That could be construed as willful insubordination! Now I think you should march into his quarters and apologize, or do I have to make this a direct order?"
Pierce and The Padre listened in, wanting to see how I might squirm out of this. I don't squirm. I am a dancer.
"Major Houlihan, did anyone not tell you that you are beautiful when you become angry?"
Margaret looked over, directly at Pierce, and said: "Yes, but not so well as you, Sergeant Burns. How about you calm my temper at the Officers' Club, over a few drinks you'll buy me?"
As we left, Father Mulcahy seemed to follow. Other nurses looked hatefully towards their superior officer. Ben Pierce stood dumbstruck.
I heard him say: "You mean that line actually works? Who'dve thought!?"