'What does he know? He is just a sergeant. A regular army guy!', I told myself as I turned around towards the paperwork littered all over the desk and the food tray which was cold now, I was sure. Was I hungry or not? I asked myself. I was not, I decided. But what the heck! I tried the scrambled eggs first. Not bad! Toast was two shades lighter than hash browns, which were just the right shade of brown. This was the first time ever since I came here than I had cleaned my tray despite having food in more than one compartment. Maybe it was the prolonged fasting? Maybe thats what I ought to do. Not eat for...what?
"Nurse!", I called out to the nearest beauty.
"Yes Doctor?" I had not seen this fine specimen before. My loss, entirely!
"Call me Hawkeye!" And wondered if my drool was obvious or not. "And you are?"
"The nurse you kicked aside from your table yesterday, Sir!"
Oh. Thats why this specimen was unnoticed until now. Now my foot was lodged deep in the recess of my gut. Even a surgery could not remove it.
"Oh. Alright. I just wanted to know what day it is, today that is?"
"Its Friday, Cap'n. And I thought you did not use cliches to get attention. Now, if there isn't anything else..." With that, she about faced and was off before I could resonate my anger at her selfrighteousness. Maybe not right now. I will settle this score AFTER I have settled the rest, I decided.
Friday meant...why did I ask for the day? Oh. Oh yeah! Last I ate was Wednesday lunch. Yeah. In the OR. Some meat of unknown origin wrapped in some bread of unknown origin. Or date, now that I remembered. Probably some roadkill Koreans refused to eat. And was too dead to be buried. Back from these appetizing thoughts, I looked at the vacant tray again. So the key to eating mess chow was to go hungry for almost 48hours, go through the guts of at least thirty patients, and sit in post-op, half dead. Not to mention, no sleep for even longer period of time.
Was mess chow really worth all this pain and suffering on my part? I had to be a masochist to go through all this just so I could have a decent meal . Life was too short for such torture. Which reminded me, Col. Potter and my meeitng with him. Either it was gonna be his infamous father speech followed by a plea to my better judgment and a whole lot of manipulation or else, it was going to be a lot of thunder bolts and fire storms and volcanic eruptions. I had no idea which was worse. One made me promise things that I would never promise if sober and in command of my senses. The other meant those very senses would get threatened by KP or even worse, if that was possible, a denial of my request for R&R.
Henry was easy, rest his soul. But he had his drawbacks as well. When he got stuck, no call to his better judgment or sense of fairness worked. Potter at least listened, most of the time!
There it was, again. It was getting worse. The cramping was sickening. Was it the food? It was related to food. But how? When I thought about food, I cramped. When I smelled food, I cramped. And when I ate it, most understandably, I cramped. I felt cold sweat break out on my skin. This was not looking good. I could not get sick here. I could not afford to. Maybe it was dysentry taking a more aggressive course?
Time could not pass fast enough for me. Still a few hours till BJ finally relieved me.
"Captain Pierce, we need a hand." I heard a nurse call me. Which one, I did not know.
"Somebody called my name?"
"Yes cap'n. Since you were so generous to send away the orderly, now would you mind helping us with his work?" Boy, she hated me with a passion. I could feel it pouring out of her mouth.
"Yesss?" I moved closer to her, trying to understand her dilemma. One of the other nurses was trying to say something to her. Maybe giving her pointers?
"What can I do for you on behalf of Mathis?"
"I need to change this patient's pyjamas and also, his linen. He wants to use the ..."
"Cate, I told you I will help you. Can't you wait just for a minute? Whats the hurry?" That was Ginger.
"No problem, Ginger. I will help Nurse..."
"I will help Nurse O'Hara with the linen and changing rituals. Pvt. Sanders here is big enough to make it to little boys room on his own. Whaddaya say, Private?"
"I would rather go by myself than with you, Sir!" The private's grin faded when he saw the options.
"Alright. Be a good boy and show mommy and daddy you have mastered the art of walking by yourself to the bathroom. There you go. See, not so hard. Left foot, right foot, and repeat."
"Captain. Two things. First, don't make your sexist jokes with me. Second, the private may fall or may need support. Have you considered that possiblity?"
"Nurse...O'Hara, right? Alright Nurse O'Hara. Two things. First, it was a generalized statement.Stop taking things personally,especially when they are not meant to be personal.Second,I happen to be the surgeon of this pvt. you are so concerned about.I did not need to 'consider' the possibility.Third,next time you try to pull something like this,I won't be my usual pleasant self.Last,and yeah,I know I said two things but what can I say,I am this mean little boy who likes to play unfair.So,the last thing is,what happened in OR could have happened to anyone.Try to think past your own ego!"
Enough said.I had never talked to a woman in this manner before.But she really got to me.
"Who is the shift incharge,Ginger?"I asked the sweet nurse.
"I don't see her here.In case anyone needs me in a hurry,I am going to be in mess tent and when I leave there,I will head for O-Club,alright?"I needed a glass of cold water.
"Aren't you on duty till Cap'n Hunnicut relieves you?"Predictably,it was O'Hara again. Boy she was driving me crazy.
"Because I don't think its really a good idea to leave your patients just so you could have a drink!"
"Lt.O'Hara,patients are all over the camp,including the mess tent and the O-Club.And I think your patient is back from latrine.Let me know if you need any help changing his gown and pyjamas."Even before I opened my mouth to counter this attack,Ginger took over.And she could be devastatingly,scathingly cooly cold.I was glad I was not at the receiving end of her diatribe.