Radar quickly delivered all of the mail and returned to his office. Finally he sat in his chair, opening the envelope carefully. He began to smile as he read on and then jumped up excited.
"Well, either thatís mail call or the war is over..." Hawkeye quips, wandering in from post-op.
"She wrote...she said...I canít believe..."
"Good news, eh?" Hawkeye says as his lips turn into a knowing grin.
"She was happy to hear from me and she says she misses me too."
"Thatís great! Now arenít you glad you decided to write to her?"
"Yeah, and I have you to thank for that. Thanks, Hawkeye."
They exchanged letters for months, writing about their lives, their dreams, and almost anything that came to mind. Radar only held one thing back when writing...his feelings for Melissa. He was afraid what her reaction would be. What if it would scare her? He didnít want to lose a friend. Yet Radar knew that if he never risked anything, he would never gain anything. So he had to tell her... but how?
Melissa was in Radarís thoughts often. Oftentimes before going to bed at night, he would look over the most recent letter from Melissa. Not surprisingly, he dreamt of her at night as well as during the day.
Screech. Radar was already on his way out into the compound when the jeep came to a halt and Melissa jumped out. "Surprise!"
"Melissa! Iím so glad to see you! What brings you here?"
"This jeep mainly," Melissa said sarcastically. She smiled wryly and Radar laughed. "No, actually I have a few days of R & R and I thought Iíd spend some time here with you."
"Thatís great! Let me help you with your stuff and Iíll give you a tour of the camp."
Radar grabbed Melissaís bags and showed her to the VIP tent. He led her around the compound, pointing out the structures and adding his own commentary. Next they went through the doors into his office.
"...And this is where I spend most of my time," Radar explained as he led Melissa into his office. "It doubles as my room and office. Over here is the radio and the microphone for announcements."
Radar turned to face Melissa whose lips embraced his. Surprised, Radar lost his balance and they fell into his chair. Settled square in the chair, he wrapped his arms around her. His mind raced as their mutual embrace continued.
Ring! Ring! Radar groggily opened his eyes and reached his hand over to shut off his alarm clock. "What a horrible way to wake up," he thought to himself, "and at the worst moment too." The image of he and Melissa was vivid in his mind, but offered little consolation. It was just a dream and he knew it. Back to the harsh reality of the situation: the war outside his window and the war inside himself. What to do?
"...Call her," Klinger advised Radar. They were sitting in the mess tent at breakfast time, Radar wearing his fatigues and wool hat and Klinger wearing a fall dress with a bright blue and green floral pattern. In his usual fashion, Klinger contemplated his food more than he ate it; however, Radar, who normally devoured his meal, hardly touched his food either. "It sounds like you care very deeply for her. Youíve talked about little else for the past couple months."
"Oh, I donít know," Radar said with a doubtful look on his face.
"Címon, kid, who do you think youíre fooling? You talk about her all the time. You rush to get the mail in the morning, tossing all of the letters aside looking for one from her. And something HAS to be affecting your appetite because you havenít touched your food and itís your favorite, Army leftovers."
"Well if Iím bothering you then Iíll stop," Radar retorted, becoming slightly agitated.
"I didnít mean it that way. I just think that a simple phone call to her may help settle your nerves or something. You do like her, donít you?"
"Yeah, I really like her. I mean, I keep seeing her pretty face...her beautiful brown hair...her smile whenever she laughs. I love to hear her giggle. And sheís so nice and smart. In one of her letters she told me about a difficult patient they had at their unit. He was just a scared kid, eighteen I think. During triage he was fighting with the other nurses and corpsman, not letting them get a good look at his wound. She was able to calm him down. She got him to trust the doctors." Just thinking of Melissa made Radar smile.
"Then call her. Tell her how you feel. Whatís the worst that can happen, huh?"
"She might not want to talk to me ever again!"
"Okay, now whatís the best that can happen?"
Klingerís second question was somewhat unexpected. In the back of his mind Radar had considered such a possibility; however, he didnít allow himself to dwell on it much before. He was now considering the two possibilities, attempting to weigh the risks against the possible gains.
A barrage of questions arose. What if she doesnít love him? What if she does? What if he never told her? What if there was another guy in her life whom he didnít know about? There were too many questions, too many variables. There werenít enough answers and there wouldnít be until Radar did something about the situation. He had to tell her. His feelings for her were the one constant, the one thing he felt sure of.
A little later that day Radar was sitting at his desk staring at the phone. Over and over again he studied his options. He wasnít sure what to say to Melissa if he called; yet, he wasnít sure he could continue holding his feelings a secret from her much longer.
Finished her shift, Margaret came out of post-op and saw Radar with a look of anguish on his face. "Corporal, whatís wrong?"
"Huh? Oh, nothing, maíam," Radar replied, a little startled after not having noticed her enter the room.
"Anyone can see that somethingís wrong," Margaret pointed out. She noticed how his eyes wandered back toward the phone. "Are you thinking of calling Melissa?"
"Who...er, what are you talking about?"
"This is a small camp, Corporal. Besides, Iíve heard the way you talk about her. Why donít you call her?"
"I still donít know. I mean, Iím not sure how sheíll react."
"Radar, I saw how well you two got along when she was here. She seemed to enjoy your company as you did hers. I donít think you have anything to be afraid of. Youíre a nice kid and sheís lucky to have someone like you care about her."
"Why thank you, maíam," Radar replied, surprised by the Majorís remarks. Although he knew that deep down she must be a kind person, the Major always seemed so stern on the outside.
"Youíre welcome," Margaret said as she departed out the door into the compound.
Radar turned and stared through the phone again. Finally, he took a deep breath, picked up the headset and mic, and started cranking the phone. After a few moments he got through to the 8055th and asked for Melissa. His hands sweated and his mind raced as he waited nervously. Then he heard the voice that had filled his dreams.
"Uh...hello, Melissa. Itís Radar from the 4077th."
"Oh, hi Radar!"
"I just called to see how you were doing and all. I was thinking about you earlier."
"I was thinking of you too. Iím doing okay. How about you?"
"Iím okay," Radar replied. He nervously tapped his fingers, unsure what to say.
"Did you get the letter I sent you last week?"
"Yeah, I did. Did everything go okay with that patient you mentioned?"
"Yes, with a lot of help from the doctors things turned out okay..."
The conversation went in several directions. They chatted about peace rumors, the latest deluge of wounded, movies theyíve seen recently, and other recent occurrences. Melissa started to detect a hint of concern in Radarís voice.
"Radar, whatís wrong? You sound a little, I donít know, hesitant."
"Um, nothing...itís just that...well, Melissa, I care about you...a lot. And I think...no...I do...I..."
The words were hard to come by for Radar. He knew what he wanted to say, but he had the hardest time letting himself express it.
"I love you, Melissa."
Finally, the words came out. The relief that Radar felt was surpassed only by his nervousness. Radar took another deep breath. A few seconds of silence over the line lasted an eternity. Radarís heart pounded loudly like a war drum, awaiting a response. Then it came.
Radar let go of his breath...and smiled.