Author's note: This is a sad chapter...character death....the plot has now altered from the original episode ....
Charles Winchester shut the door quietly behind him, although the slight bit of noise wouldn't phase him. He was lost in his own world, unable to see, speak, or feel anything. At this rare and dreaded occasion he was at a loss for words.
He watched as Hawkeye and B.J. played cards and enjoyed their drinks. They played like childhood chums; for one minute one would forget the circumstances in which the two men knew each other. Charles observed the two men with an outsider's curiosity. Normally the noisy bantering would irritate him to no end, not that he was much in the mood for the racket now. Not even he, Charles Winchester,could be so callous as to deny the two the moment of companionship. Not now, not after what he had just witnessed. Not after what he would have to tell them. Let the men play for one more moment. Surely it would be the last moment of laughter in this room for some time to come.
For today one of their own had passed, one whom had come to mean a great deal to Captains Pierce and Hunnicut. Even he himself had a certain affection for the boy known simply as Radar, although he had never admitted it to anyone. Even from day one he could see that Radar had a special place in the hearts of every officer in camp. The young boy had a way of being efficient yet naÃ¯ve at the same time, Charles had quickly surmised. Yet for whatever he lacked in worldly wisdom, he made up in integrity.
"What's the matter, Charles? Cat's got your tongue? Remind me to find an extra mouse for that feline." Hawk called out over the checker board.
"Captains...I came in here to let you know that your presence is required in the Colonel's office." Charles sighed in his most sincere tone of voice. He prayed that the men would take him seriously for once. "I assure you, this is of upmost importance."
"Well, then, if he says it's important, then it must be. Let's get back to our game." B.J. laughed as he turned around.
"Gentleman! I'm afraid there has been a tragedy, of which I have personally witnessed. The colonel is personally beside himself with grief. Now then, shall I ask you again to accompany me to the colonel's office?"
This time, Hawkeye and B.J. looked at Charles seriously.
"What is it?" Hawk demanded as he grabbed Charles' arm. "What happened? What hap...oh, no. Oh...no...No!" "Tell me you're joking. Where is he? It's Radar, isn't it? What happened to Radar? Never mind. I'll find out for myself."
Now it was Charles' turn to grab Hawkeye's arm. B.J. grew pale as he watched this in shock.
"I'm sorry, Hawkeye. I'm so terribly sorry. We had to operate to alleviate the pressure from his wound. On the operating table he had a myocardial infarction. It happened rather quickly. We- Colonel Potter and I- did everything we could to save him, but it was no use. I know he was your friend and .I'm so terribly sorry."
"You know he was my friend!" Hawkeye looked over at B.J., his hands trembling. "You know he was my friend? You're standing here telling me that you killed him and you tell me that you know he's my friend? What do you know? He's not dead! Instead of standing here listening to your rubbish a real surgeon can be saving his life. I don't have time for this! I lost Henry but I'll be damned if I'm going to lose Radar. Well," He looked at B.J. "Are you coming or what?"
He followed Hawkeye without giving Charles a second look.
Hawkeye and B.J. walked into the post-op room, where they saw Radar's empty bed. They quickly donned a mask and went into the operating room, where they didn't find him either.
"Captain, the Colonel would like to see you." Kellye compassionately said, to either man as they walked back through the post-op. Neither one replied.
After only a minute but what seemed like an eternity, both men reached the clerk's office. Hawkeye froze at the sight of Radar's bed. He began to shake, although reality had not yet begun to set in.
B.J. patted Hawkeye's back for support.
"Don't touch me." Hawkeye barked uncharacteristically at his best friend. "The Colonel is going to hear about Charles' sick joke. I always knew there was something off with that man. This is just twisted. We need to call Sidney and have his head examined, that's what we need. Radar's not gone. Look, there's his locker. There's his jacket that is overdue for a wash. And let's not forget his teddy bear he keeps stuffed in that box under there." He kicked the box. " No, Charles makes Frank Burns look like Winston Churchill."
B.J. And Hawkeye both waited outside of the Colonel's office for a minute before knocking.
Tell me Charles is wrong. This is all a bad dream. Radar's not gone. He can't be. I just talked to him last night. There's some mistake. Charles is just being rude, thoughtless, and crude. Nothing could have happened to good old Radar. Please tell me it aint't so. Pleaded Hawkeye.
This isn't real. Hawk can't handle losing another friend. Please tell me this is just a cruel joke. Don't do this to him. Hawk won't ever be able to live with himself if this is true. I don't know if Hawk can ever be fixed from this. He's going to blame himself..we're going to lose Hawk...I couldn't save poor Radar... Now I have to save Hawk. Help me save Hawk. Begged B.J, who hadn't yet begun to experience the grief process over the loss of his friend. But instinct kicked in and he wanted to protect the one friend who he understood better than anyone else on earth. It wasn't to late to save him, but it would take time and effort. He couldn't let Hawkeye lose himself, not now or ever.
Both friends stood outside of the Colonel's door, not wanting to enter. They heard the slamming of a bottle to the table, and it half confirmed their worse fears. There were no needs for words between Hawkeye and B.J.
B.J. knocked on the door, waited for the invitation, and they opened the door, waiting for the words they prayed they would never have to hear about one of their own.
"Come in, boys." Beckoned Colonel Potter. His eyes were bloodshot. It was apparent to the men that he had shed a few tears. A bottle of scotch and a shotglass lay on his desk.
"Care for a drink?"
Potter ignored him and grabbed three glasses.
"I don't suppose Major Winchester had the good sense to keep his trap shut."
B.J. and Hawkeye looked at each other, filled with dread at what about Colonel Potter was about to say.
"Boys.." Colonel Potter started as he wiped the tears away..."Have a seat. I have something to tell you..." He poured three glasses of scotch and sat them down. There was no mistaking the mission he was about to embark on. No one was ready to make eye contact, and hearts were heavy. Yet every one grabbed a glass and toasted their drink.
"To Radar." Each man said in unison.
"To Radar." Potter repeated before sipping his drink. "A brave young man who will never be forgotten."
B.J. looked over at Hawkeye, and could see that already the wheels were rolling in his mind.
Look at me, Hawk. Just look at me. We'll get you through this. You just got to look at me. Just once.
But not once in that office did Hawkeye look at his friend. He kept his eye on the shot glass of scotch that Potter refilled. No one really spoke, there was not much need to. The three of them drinking together was much better than the sight of any of them drinking alone.
Author's note: This chapter has some language. And it also has a flashback from Sometimes You Hear the Bullet.
Hawkeye placed his hand over his lip while he sat at the edge of his bed. A single tear drop from fell from his eye fell past his shirt and onto his foot.Death was something he dealt with on regular basis around this hell hole, not that he was “used” to it. War meant shooting, and shooting meant death. Lord knows he’d objected and protested in every way possible. Men weren’t supposed to die in the prime of their life. They were supposed to live well into their eighties, ninety if they were fortunate. Boys were supposed to grow up and become men. Men married and became fathers, not soldiers in some foreign country where people barely had enough to eat and medical basics were even more scarce.
Normally Hawkeye had words for every occasion and every feeling, but there was nothing to describe what he was going through at the moment. Radar was gone, and he was now feeling an overwhelming sense of loss. The world had gone even darker and was filled with more despair than it had been, as unimaginable as that was.
A second tear followed, trailed by a third. Hawkeye did the only thing his body would allow him to do. He crawled into bed and after a few minutes of quietly shedding some more tears he finally drifted into sleep.
Even in his dream everything hurt. Every time he wiped the single tear away one more fell in its place. He hated crying. Appearing to him in his dream was a warm and welcome face. It had been quite awhile since he had seen Henry Blake.
“Pierce, is there anything I can do for you?” he asked, putting his hand on Hawk’s shoulder.
“I’m crying. This isn’t the first time I’ve cried since I’ve came to this crummy place. I don’t have to tell you that. You were there the first time.” Maybe it was seeing Henry, but the tears stopped. God, how he missed his friend.
“Radar was your friend. He was my friend too. I know how hard this is for you…how hard it is for everyone. He’s a good kid. I dunno what to tell you…I wish I did…anyhoo…this stinks, Pierce. War stinks.”
“You can say that again.”
“It’s only natural that, you know…”
“Radar was my friend and I wasn’t there for him when he died. I would have done everything in my power to save him. I don’t understand what happened. One minute he’s here and the next minute Charles comes in telling me he’s gone. I could have- I should have- prevented this. He didn’t have to die, Henry. He was just a baby. He had everything in the world to look forward to, everything except for this blasted war. He’s gone and there’s not a thing I can do about it. I’m a doctor. I’m supposed to fix things, I’m supposed to save people. I couldn’t even save someone who looked up to me. He’s gone and I’m standing here crying.” Hawkeye turned to face Henry.
Henry paused for a moment. “You’re a doctor.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“I don’t know.” He sighed. “If I had the answer I’d be at the Mayo Clinic. Does this place look like the Mayo Clinc? Look all I know is what they taught me in command school. There are certain rules about a war. And rule number one is young men die. And rule number two is doctors can’t change rule number one.”
“Do you believe that?”
“I don’t know. Do you?” Hawkeye looked at Henry for a moment.
The moment lingered on. And then the door slammed, waking Hawkeye. He shot straight up in bed and looked around, expecting to see Henry. Instead he saw B.J. Frustrated, he threw himself back down to the bed.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.” B.J. said as sincerely as he could. He knew that his friend needed the rest and he felt horrible for waking him.
“It’s ok. I was having a crazy dream anyhow.”
“Care to share? My big ears are always open. Almost as often as my big mouth.” He offered as he took off his boots.
Hawkeye blinked. “I had a dream….” He drifted off, unsure if he wanted to talk about it.
“I still think about him a lot. It still hurts, you know. Just because I don’t talk about him…he was a heck of a guy. You’d have liked him. I know everyone tells you that…I’ve told you that…but it’s true. We had some times here.” Hawk stopped, lost in his thoughts.
I would have liked to have known Henry. If only….
“I don’t know…He was another one Radar worshipped…” maybe it was too soon to talk about it. There was so much he wanted to say, but it hurt so badly. He wanted to talk about Radar and Henry’s friendship. Heck he wanted to talk about either of them. But now that they were both gone the pain was just too much to think about. Both of them…
“For a little while after Henry’s death it hurt to talk to Radar. If I had to make a phone call it was Radar I had to go to. And where was the phone? By Henry’s office. Where did Radar sleep? By Henry’s office. I know, that was pretty stupid of me. Radar had nothing to do with Henry’s death. Me of all people should know better.”
“You’re only human. Doctors have feelings too.”
“You sound like Henry.” Hawkeye briefly smiled, remembering his dream and the memory of his lost friend.
“You should have seen him when he came in to tell us about Henry.” Hawkeye said somberly. “ he was braver than I’d ever seen him. I think I’m pretty tough but I don’t know if I could have been that brave. It was all any of us could do to keep it together. It’s all I can do now…” with that he turned his back to go back to sleep. That was all he had to give.
. There was only so much a person could take, even surgeons. At least his friend was opening up, which was definitely a good sign. But what was he holding in?