"Only Forever"

by David Long
Part I

She walked out of his life forever. "Why do I do this to myself?" he questioned himself, wincing at the invisible though all too real pain he felt. "Why in the world do I keep doing this to myself?" Radar sat at his desk, his mind still on her. The image of her jeep leaving the compound was clear as life in his thoughts. It would be a little easier if he had someone else to blame, but he didn't.

"Cindy." Placing his head in his hands, he tried desperately to erase her name. He couldn't. Massaging his temples, he tried to clear her from his mind. He couldn't. He told himself to accept the fact that she was gone. He couldn't.

Slam! Trapper and Hawkeye, dressed in their Hawaiian print shirts, walked into Radar's office looking for Henry. Trapper opened up the door to Henry's office and looked inside. Not finding Henry anywhere, Trapper asked, "Hey, Radar, where's Henry?"

"We wanted to let him know about the R&R he is going to give us," Hawkeye chimed in.

"The Colonel hasn't signed any papers for R&R lately," Radar said weakly, only glancing briefly in their direction.

"No, not yet," Trapper responded. "Looks like you could use some R&R too."

"Radar, what's wrong?" Hawkeye inquired, growing concerned.

"Nothing," he replied, staring at his desk.

"Sure, that sounded real convincing," Hawkeye said sarcastically.

"Look, there's nothing you can do anyway," Radar said somewhat angrily and becoming agitated.

"It's her, isn't it?" Hawkeye said with confidence. "It's written all over you."

"So what!" Radar retorted as he slammed his right arm on the desk, sending some papers flying. "She's gone and there's nothing more to it!"

Cindy left the 4077th yesterday morning. She was a singer with a USO troupe which was visiting all the MASHes and other military units in the area. They stopped by the 4077th to perform a few shows for the medical staff and the wounded. When the 8063rd, their next and final stop, was forced to bug out, they decided to stay for a couple of extra days til the 8063rd had settled.

"Listen, there's no need to stay so depressed over one girl like this. There'll be others."

"But no one like her," Radar thought to himself. There was something special about Cindy...whether it was her wonderful sense of humor, her sweet personality, her beauty, or any number of other things he wasn't sure. He didn't even need to close his eyes to envision her smiling face, to hear her delightful laugh. Remembering her somehow made Radar happy, upset, and depressed all at the same time.

"Not everyone goes fooling around like you guys!" Radar felt bad about the comment the moment it left his lips. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way."

"We know."

"It's just that I...I don't exactly have girls coming to my door."

"There aren't enough women in this war, that's always been my complaint too. If there were more women, then it might've been over by now. Too many indecisive male officers..." Hawkeye tried to joke, his idea of a panacea.

Attention was drawn to the door from the compound. In walked a filthy Major Burns, his uniform covered in dirt. "And here's exhibit A now. Hello, Frank."

"Very clever. Is Colonel Blake in his office?"

"What's wrong, Frank," Trapper began, "won't anyone else play with you in the sandbox? Oh, that's right, Margaret's on duty in post-op."

Frank just stood there, his face scrunching up like a prune. "Don't you two have some work to do?"

"Yes, but we're on break," Hawkeye replied. "Would you like to join us over some coffee for some gossip? We're tired of talking about you behind your back so we thought we'd try doing it in front of your back."

"The Colonel's outside handling a case," Radar said quietly, slouching in his chair.

"It's so hard to get 18 holes indoors," Hawkeye quipped.

"Hmph," Frank snorted.

"Do come back soon," Trapper called as Frank turned around and walked back out the door to the compound.

"Now listen," Hawkeye began, inventing an idea as he spoke, "why don't you come to Tokyo with us? Trapper and I will show you all the hot spots in town. There are lots of girls who would go crazy over a guy like you."

"Yeah, come along with us. There are girls who'll help clear your mind."

"Oh, I don't know..."

"Sure you do. You just get packed and ready and we'll go tell Henry."

Lost in his thoughts, Radar hadn't even noticed when Hawkeye patted him on his back. He could only feel when Cindy had embraced him. The clatter of the door slamming on their way out escaped his attention. He could only hear the door of her jeep closing. He hadn't noticed that Hawkeye and Trapper had left. He could only see Cindy leaving.

Radar didn't feel like doing anything except perhaps hiding at the moment. In his bed, under a rock, in a minefield, it didn't matter where he hid. He was growing more and more upset. Upset at the fact that Cindy was gone and upset at himself for allowing it all to affect him so much. Another thought traveled through the troubled traffic of his mind, "Is she out there somewhere thinking of me?"

"No," he answered for her, "not a chance." But still doubt shrouded his every thought. His mind a maze of "what ifs" and "maybes." What did he know for certain?

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