Disclaimer: The MASH characters are property of FOX. The only characters I can claim are Seth Willis, Mary Jo and Myrna Jean Owens. Corporal Owens is a MASH character from the fourth season in the episode entitled "Smilin' Jack. Lorraine Anderson was in the sixth season in the episode entitled, "Temporary Duty"
*Alternate Episode* to "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen." Most decidedly HM and more. I wrote this mostly for my own entertainment.
Chapter 1 - Life After Her Death
He read through her journal one more time, incredulous that he had meant something to her and he had been so oblivious. To him she had been another fling to help him forget the death and devastation around him. It had been a shock to everyone in the 4077 that the quiet nurse had been killed when she, unknowingly, walked through a mine field. It was a particular shock to Hawkeye to learn that her last thoughts were of him.
In a way he was grateful to Millie Carpenter for showing him his shortcomings when it came to relationships. One day they would all go home. One day this blood bath would end and they'd be scattered, this family they called MASH 4077. Hawkeye was comforted by the fact that he'd stood up at Millie's memorial service and told his closest friends how much he cared about them. He didn't want to one day leave them without having said how he felt.
With a deep sigh, Hawkeye Pierce gently laid the little notebook on top of the small stack of belongings that Father Mulcahy was sending home to the family of the deceased nurse. What a waste, he thought. So much waste.
"Here's the journal, Father. Thank you for letting me read it. I would never have known..."
"You delivered a wonderful eulogy, Hawkeye. I've always thought you'd make a wonderful priest, so compassionate and caring."
Hawkeye just smiled at the gentle man who stood at his side. His quiet faith and inner strength were a wonder to the passionate doctor. Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy. In the midst of the chaos and devastation of war, this priest lived out his beliefs in a way that Hawkeye had only read about.
"A few pieces of clothing, a hairbrush, some cosmetics and a journal. That's all that's left of a once living human being. I'll never get used to it, Father."
"You'll never get used to what, Hawkeye?"
"But you're a doctor, my son. You deal with death every day. Death is part of living."
"Yes, Father, but not like this. Land mines, guns...I just can't believe that we were put here to be blown to bits. It's senseless, brutal..." Hawkeye stopped abruptly.
Colonel Potter's voice could be heard over the PA:
"It's been a long day, boys and girls. Everyone is to report the officer's club for a belt and some relaxation. That's an order!"
Hawkeye chuckled. Leave it to Colonel Potter to know exactly what to say even over the camp PA. He reminded him of his dad in that way. Dad could always relieve the tension with just the right word or joke. He hoped that one day he would introduce Sherman Potter to Dr. Daniel Pierce, his father and his hero.
"Sounds like a good idea. You coming, Father?"
"I'll be along in a minute. I just want to finish getting this package to the Carpenter family."
Hawkeye walked out of the priest's tent, stretched his arms over his head and yawned. The crisp breeze felt good across his face. He closed his eyes and imagined that he was standing on the beach in Crabapple Cove. He opened his eyes to the sun setting over the hills. It was a beautiful site. The sky was ablaze with orange and gold. For a moment he almost forgot that he was in war torn Korea, thousands of miles from Maine.
"Hey there, soldier, buy you a drink?"
Hawkeye fell in step with BJ Hunnicuttt. One of the good things to come out of this war was the friendship he shared with BJ.
"Soldier? Did I hear you call me 'soldier?' You can call me Benjamin, you can call me Hawkeye you can even call me a taxi...what you see before you is merely a civilian in a soldier suit!"
"Well, Captain Civilian, here we are at the officer's club and the gang's all here!"
BJ and Hawkeye walked through the crowded officer's club to the table in the corner where Colonel Potter already was sitting with Margaret Houlihan, Charles Emerson Winchester III and Max Klinger.
"Igor, " Hawkeye called to the man behind the bar. "My friend and I will have two beers...that's one each."
The two doctors joined the others around the table. Hawkeye looked around at the faces around him that had become more like family than mere friends.
Charles, for all his arrogance and pomposity had proven himself to be a skilled surgeon and, at times, a friend.
Maxwell Q. Klinger had finally 'joined' the army and been promoted to sergeant which proved that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. He was a man whose heart was as large as his nose or was it the other way around? Hawkeye was never quite sure.
Margaret Houlihan, the head nurse of the 4077 was someone Hawkeye had come to appreciate more and more as time went on. She had changed more than anyone over the time they'd been in Korea.
He could hardly believe she was the same straight laced, by the book major he'd met nearly three years ago. She had allowed herself to let her guard down. He valued her friendship as much as he admired her beauty and his respect for her continued to grow. He could honestly say that she was one of the most courageous people he'd ever known.
"You did a good job today, son," the voice of Colonel Potter awoke Hawkeye from his musings. "The padre couldn't have delivered a better eulogy. I know it's hard to let your hair down like that in front of people and you came through with flying colors."
"Thanks Colonel. I do my best."
"It kills me to agree with the Colonel here, Pierce, but I shall in this case." Said Charles, sipping on a beer, halfway to inebriated.
"Careful, Charles," BJ replied. "You wouldn't want to say something you might regret in the morning."
Charles glanced sidelong at BJ and continued, "As much as I hate to admit it, while I shall not miss this fetid village, I shall miss all of you. However, I'm certain that once I'm back in my home in Boston, surrounded by family and Boston society the memories will dim....Aw what am I saying...Pierce, I was deeply touched by your speesh...you've caused me to weep."
Having said all of that, Charles threw his arms around a very startled Hawkeye. Colonel Potter leaned over and whispered to BJ, "That's one hell of a hangover in the making."
Klinger stood and raised his beer in Hawkeye's direction. "May I propose a snoast...I mean may I propnose a toast...oh what the hell....Captain Pierce, may your tent always be filled with beautiful women and your camels never limp...or something like that..."
The men all exploded into laughter and Hawkeye replied, "Thanks Klinger...and to you...may the sun always rise and set on your nose!"
BJ blurted out, "It already does!"
Hawkeye looked around the officer's club at people that he'd come to care about and appreciate. They were a diverse group from all parts of the United States thrown together in this makeshift hospital in Korea. There were so many who had come through here and gone home.
He thought about Trapper with a twinge. He wondered what he was doing at that moment. It still bothered him that his once best friend had left without so much as a note. And he wondered why Trapper had gotten to go home while he was still stuck in this hell hole.
Ah well, he thought, it's one of those mysteries that will probably never be solved. In any case Trapper's departure had made way for Beej's arrival. Beej. BJ Hunnicuttt, clean cut family man. He was so different from his former bunkmate and, ironically, a closer friend than Hawkeye had ever known. He hoped that they would be able to keep in touch after the war was over...that is, if the war was ever over. He wondered if that would be possible with the distance between Mill Valley and Crabapple Cove.