Part 9 - Hawkeyeís thoughts
Author's note: Another sad chapter...I got a little teary eyed writing this.
Seeing an abandoned hut along the side of the road, Hawkeye decided to take a break from his road trip. He sat down on the hard ground and leaned against the wall, pressing his knees against his chest. The sunlight shone brightly through the open window, hurting his eyes. He neither cared nor attempted to shield his eyes. His lack of sleep, depression, and grief produced rapid and disturbing thoughts
I donít want to go home. Home. Whatís this war come to when I start referring to the swamp as home? Iím even more messed up than I thought. Thatís a mistake Iíll never make again, trust and believe. Home is where the heart is . Home is where your family and friends are...your friends...but my friends are here...what is a friend, anyway? Am I a friend? Iím certainly no one Iíd want to be associated with.
First do no harm. Thatís the first thing we learn in medical school. Tell that to Radar.
And now look whatís happened to me. Iíve killed Radar. Everyone knows that. No one will come out and say that out loud but you can see it in their eyes. Between the pity and the contempt I donít know which is worse. Even B.J. treats me like Iím a child. Heís always asking me how Iím doing, as if he canít see how Iím doing. I know he means well. Normally he can read my mind. Iím glad he canít read my mind right now. He seems to be the only friend I have left in this world even though he knows the truth about how I sent Radar off to his death. All B.J. wants to do is talk to me but I canít stand the sound of my voice. As a matter of fact I canít stand the thoughts in my head but I canít seem to turn them off. Iíd give anything to make them go away, even for a minute. I even think when I sleep.
Radarís been the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. In between I think about my Mom, Tommy, and Henry. I canít stop thinking about them. I always wondered what my mom would be like if sheíd gotten a chance to live a long life. I wonder how sheíd deal with me being over here. Iím sure Dad would be a great source of comfort. Thatís the kind of guy he is. Sometimes I get scared that I canít remember too much about her. Not as much as Iíd like to. Thereís just not enough time. Just ask Henry. He didnít have enough time with his family. He was a day away from being with his family. And yet he went and got himself killed. Why did you do it, Henry? Why did you leave us so soon?
Radar would still be with us if he hadnít listened to good old Hawkeye-the man who can solve anyoneís problems. You just know thatís what they think when they look at me. And can you blame them? When I look in the mirror thatís what I see. I used to feel pretty darn proud of the man in the mirror. I thought, okay, hereís a man who knows what heís doing. Maybe not Albert Einstein, but no Frank Burns. I use my hands. I use my brain. I tell my patients what to do. I tell my nurses what do to. Heck, I used to tell Henry what to do all the time. But I tell Radar what to do and look what happens.....
And thereís my dad. What am I supposed to tell my dad? That his sonís not the man he used to be? If I canít recognize myself, how in the world will my dad know me? Whatís going to happen to the pride my dad used to feel for me...will that disappear, too? I canít honestly picture looking my dad in the eye right now. My own dad...my hero...the man who taught me everything I know... if he only knew what Iíve become.
What have I become? When did I become so irresponsible that I thought a man should drop everything for a little fun? The worst part about what I told Radar is that he did exactly what I would have done...except I wouldnít have had to leave the comforts of my own home. All he wanted was something I take for granted. He wanted to be like me...why...why me? Why couldnít he have picked someone else...like Colonel Potter. Or B.J. Yes, B.J. would have been the perfect choice. A good, solid man. A family man. B.J tried to tell him to wait. B.J. tried to warn him...but no, Radar had to listen to me.
But Radar did have his first pick of a hero, and it wasnít me. But Henry left us too soon. Why do the good have to die? My head knows that war claims the good and the bad, the innocent and the villains alike. I lost Tommy...and then Henry...and now Radar...How many more am I going to lose? How many more men have to die in this blasted war? And for what?
I couldnít save Tommy. He was right there in front of me and I watched him die. And Radar...I tried to save him. Henry was hundreds of miles away and there was nothing I could do for him. Death surrounds me and what can I do? In the end I canít save the ones I love. If I could just have one more day with all of them I would do everything in my power to save them. I would have changed the title of Tommyís book. I would have let Henry help us with that wounded. Five minutes might have changed everything. Isnít that how life works...Everything changes in five minutes? Shoot, everything changes in five seconds. And Radar...well I would have told him to find another hero.
Finally the emotionally exhausted driver of the jeep pulled over to the middle of the road.
ďWhere have you been? Weíve been looking all over for you!Ē Klinger, clad in his black mourning dress and veil, ran over to a disheveled Hawkeye.
The captain averted his eyes and kept on walking. If he heard the corporal, he gave no indication whatsoever.
ďCaptain, I really think you should see Colonel Potter. Everyoneís been asking about you. I know itís none of my business but I hate to see you get in trouble...Ē the well-meaning man said.
Hawkeye stopped dead in his tracks and looked Klinger square in the eyes for a moment. Mere inches separated the two men and for a minute Klinger feared for his safety. Heíd seen that look in a manís eyes only once, from a man back in Toledo. Old man Bensonhaver had came back from the second war early, only to find his wife with the next door neighbor. Everyone said the war made him turn crazy, but Klinger always felt that it was love that turned him that way. Up until he himself went to war. But here was the most respected man around town with that same look of sadness and emptiness and Klinger just didnít know what to do.
ďDonít waste your time worrying about me. Iím not worth it.Ē Hawkeye finally said before turning away.
Hawkeye finally made it back to the swamp, after avoiding the hellos of a few nurses. Much to his chagrin Charles was not only playing his record music but was also singing along to it. B.J. was busy writing, safely presumably to Peg and Erin.
ďKnock it off, will ya.Ē Hawk scowled at Charles.
ďMy, my, arenít we in a pleasant mood today?Ē
ďThatís pretty tactless, even for you.Ē B.J. interjected. ďYouíve been listening for awhile now. Couldnít you give it a rest now?Ē
ďI heard no complaint until your friend marched in here. And that is no sufficient reason for me to surrender my music. Therefore, the music continues.Ē Charles continued to move his fingers along in rhythm with the tune, shutting his eyes in the process.
ďPerhaps you didnít hear me! I said knock it off!Ē Hawkeye walked over and grabbed the record and threw it at the major.
ďCaptain, youíre forgetting your place!Ē Charles stood up to face his roommate.
ďMy place? My place? My place is a thousand miles away from this hell hole where a guy can go wear a pair of blue jeans if he wants to and not shave for a month. He can go to a restaurant and pick out the biggest and fattest lobster and go back twice in one day if he so desires. A man can sleep in until noon without having some bozo play music at ungodly levels-donít think that doesnít bother me just because I let it slide. My place is not playing camp babysitter and itís sure not watching every man and their brother get their insides blow to kingdom come. Donít you dare sit there with your presumptuous proboscis and presume to tell me where my place is!Ē
B.J. watched as Charles looked away nervously, not sure what to make of Hawkeye.
Finally Hawkeye, after a long moment of staring contemptuously at Charles, made his way over to grab a glass of alcohol.
Charles wisely decided to grab a few of his belongings and leave for a while. He was getting hungry, anyways.
ďThere goes the king of tact.Ē B.J. commented.
ďYeah. He forgot to take his record player. Maybe we should ship it out to him.Ē Hawkeye stood up and started to walk over towards it. B.J. walked over and protected it.
ďCome on. Letís go have that drink. I havenít had one in forever. Like a half-hour. My liverís starting to go on strike.Ē
ďWho were you writing to? Peg?Ē Hawk sat down on the side of his bed.
B.J. smiled. ďYeah. She did the cutest thing. She had Erin write me a letter. It was all scribbles of course. But she put her hand and foot print on it. Sheís growing up too fast. Wanna see?Ē He held up the letter?
ďNo. All kids are good for are growing up and making dumb decisions. They either rebel and get themselves into a bad situation like getting themselves knocked up or locked up, or they listen to you and go off and get themselves killed. Kids for you.Ē
B.J. looked away, uncomfortably. ďListen, Hawk...I saw Sidney today...Ē
ďOh no...not you, too. Donít you start! I donít want to hear it from you. I could expect to hear it from the Father or the Colonel. But not from you? Talk, talk, talk. Thatís all they want you to do around here. But if I hadnít have talked than...just forget it. Youíre supposed to be my friend. You know exactly what happened the last time I talked. And know you want me to open my trap again! Well you can just forget about it. I thought you were better than the rest of them. I thought you were my friend. Now you think Iím off my rocker, donít you?Ē
ďI didnít say that. Everyone needs someone to talk to. Iíve been talking to Father Mulcahy. Iím not done talking with him. Iím so tore up about Radar I canít even see straight. Iím the first to admit this. I know you have got to be...Ē
ďYou donít know how Iím feeling. No one knows how Iím feeling. One minute Iím sitting here laughing and joking and carrying on with my life and the next minute....tell me something, Beej. Are your parents still alive?Ē
ďHow many friends of yours died?Ē
ďOne-Radar..And it hurts like you ...Ē
ďTry three. So donít tell me you know how I feel. I hear doctors saying that to their patients all the time. ĎYou lost a leg son. Iím sorry, I know how you feel.í You just donít ever know how someone else feels. So whatís the point of talking to someone? No one can ever know how you can feel?Ē
ďHawk...itís me youíre talking to. I do know how youíre feeling about Radar. I knew him and felt the same way about him as you did. So weíre really not that different there. And no, I donít know how youíre feeling about your friends and your mother. Iím so sorry you lost them. Thatís why I think talking to Sidney might help. I am not implying anything. Heís just good at helping people deal with this sort of stuff. Iím not. Remember when I first got here, and when I first saw those dead men on the field? I couldnít handle it. I got physically sick. You were the one to help me. I just think maybe you need someone to help you right now. You didnít look down on me for needing help. You just picked me up and kept going. Itís what we do. Itís time to let us help you.Ē
ďWell youíre wrong. I donít need any help. And I donít need you.Ē
With that, Hawkeye stood up and grabbed his pillow and blanket. He didnít even look back as he left the swamp. He would sleep in the supply room if he needed to. All he wanted to do was be left alone, and he would find a way to do it.