Chapter 14 - The Picnic
Hawkeye grinned as he buttoned his favorite Hawaiian shirt. He combed his hair and shaved.
"Hey, Charles can I borrow some of your cologne?" He said to the surgeon who was snoring away in his bunk. "Thank you," said Hawkeye as he opened Charles' footlocker and removed the bottle in question.
BJ smiled at his buddy. He was acting like a little boy this morning. He knew that part of it was that this was a first official 'date' for Hawk and Margaret. BJ found it amusing that, after all the others the two of them had been with, they were acting like two shy teenagers. He was amazed at how cautious his womanizing friend was being. In some ways he seemed much like Radar with a girl. Now there's something he thought he'd never see. He thought there was hope for Pierce yet. He'd always said that he envied what BJ had in the way of home and family. Perhaps he would find that with Margaret Houlihan. Stranger things have happened, he thought as he combed his bushy moustache and donned his favorite straw hat.
"Do you have everything?" Hawkeye asked BJ
"Lemme see," said BJ. "I have a beach ball, my hat, suntan lotion and, oh yes, Peg's 80 proof rum balls."
"Sirs, the bus is about to leave," called Klinger through the tent. He had Soon Lee in tow. She smiled at him and said,
"I not be on picnic before, Max. My family never go to beach."
Max knew how desperate she was to find her parents. He hugged her and said in his 'best' Bogart impression, "You stay with me, sweetheart, and Maxie will show you how it's done."
"You so funny, Max," she giggled.
Hawkeye smiled and said, "I must go pick up my date. See you on the bus, Beej."
"You crazy kid," he laughed at Hawk's eagerness.
Hawkeye knocked on Margaret's door and let himself in before she could answer.
"Pierce! You are incorrigible! Can't you read!" cried Margaret in mock anger.
"But, Margaret, I knocked."
"I'm all ready to go. You're wearing that shirt. I should've known."
"You just don't know a fashion statement when you see it."
"You're making a statement all right, Captain."
Hawkeye looked at Margaret with approval. She was wearing a flowered shirt tied in a knot at the waist and shorts. She's so beautiful, he thought. He felt like he was the luckiest man alive today.
"Shall we?" He asked, offering her his arm. "Your chariot awaits."
The bus was packed and ready to roll. Everything they needed for a cookout was there . With the threat of impending peace, they had to remember that they were still in a war zone, so a full range of medical supplies were packed as well.
BJ had found out his very first day in Korea that wounded could be found anywhere anytime. By the time he'd reached the 4077 with Hawkeye and Radar, he'd already taken a young Korean girl to the hospital when she stepped on a land mine right before his eyes. Right after that they were caught in a barrage of artillery fire and had to treat the wounded that only moments before had been standing and talking to them. He recalled how Hawkeye had held his head while he vomited out the horror of what he'd just seen. BJ hoped that this would be one day that wouldn't be marred by the harsh reality of war.
The mood was light and happy as the MASH bus made its way along the road.
"Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream...." happy voices sang in a round.
"This is kind of like being at summer camp," said Hawkeye.
"Only at summer camp you don't have to worry about being hit by snipers," said BJ.
Hawkeye nodded in agreement.
"Tell me about the beach at Crabapple Cove," said Margaret.
"It's the most beautiful place on earth," said Hawkeye with a faraway look in his eyes. "The beaches aren't sandy like they are in Florida and California. There are a lot of cliffs and rocks. The wind blows across the ocean and the white capped waves are a sight to behold.
Our house and yard overlooks the ocean from one of the cliffs. My parents used to worry about me playing too close the rocks since they were right in our back yard. In the summer the ocean breeze would keep our house cool and comfortable."
"It sounds like a wonderful place," said Margaret with a sigh.
"Maybe one day I'll have a chance to show you a Crabapple Cove sunrise. I think it must be the most magnificent sight on this earth," he said. In his mind he wondered if he would ever see her again once they left this place. She'd said many times that the army was her life. There weren't many army posts in Maine.
"I don't know about that, Hawk. I've seen some pretty amazing sunsets over the ocean in California," said BJ. "There's nothing like watching a sunset with your best girl on your arm." He had that wistful look in his eye that told his friends he was missing his wife and daughter.
"Look!" Kellye pointed out the window. "There's the beach!"
The bus stopped and the excited members of the 4077 ran out onto the sand.
"Race you to the water, Margaret," called Hawkeye, throwing his favorite shirt to the sand. She ran after him and together they momentarily disappeared beneath the water only to reappear, hugging and laughing hard.
BJ watched his two friends for a time before getting involved in a game of volleyball.
The cook had managed to pack fried chicken and kimchee for the group. Cole slaw wasn't an option this week so that menu would have to do. There were Spam sandwiches for those who didn't care for fried chicken.
Nurses Kellye, Able, Baker and Bigelow sat together eating and talking.
"Things sure have been different without Hawkeye chasing after us," said Baker.
"I haven't decided if I miss it or not," said Able.
Kellye, who had been in OR when Howard Owens died said, "I'm just glad to see him happy and sane after what he's been through. I certainly never expected to see him that chummy with Major Houlihan, though."
Bigelow said, "That's true. Hot Lips Houlihan is not someone I'd ever expect to see Hawkeye with. She's so GI and he's...so...anti army!"
"Yeah, the only thing military about Hawkeye is his dog tags," giggled Baker.
Hawkeye and Margaret walked along the shore, taking a last look at the water.
"It's beautiful. Just like in a movie," said Margaret.
Hawkeye gazed at her for a moment and said, "Come here."
He leaned over and kissed her. "Thank you for a wonderful day, Major."
"You're welcome, Captain."
"This is Colonel Potter....Well hello, General Embry, what can I do ya for? Nice weather for this time of year. What? They have?....You're sure of that? Mule Muffins, hell fire and damnation! I've got half my staff coming home through there...I wish I'd known this before now....Thank you for calling General."
Colonel Potter came through the swinging doors, "Winchester! Be prepared for a load of wounded later tonight. General Embry just called and said there's a battalion of Chinese patrolling the road from Inchon. With all the talk of peace the push is on. There's been a lot of sniper fire in that area."
Winchester turned to face Potter, "Colonel isn't that the road our people will be coming home on? Isn't there anything we can do?"
"Sit tight and wait."