Oct. 9th: 0430 hours
Dear Aunt Juneanna,
I was thinking about you last night. So, before I have to go on duty, I thought I'd write to you.
Yesterday evening, Max Klinger and I went over to Sarabeth MacAllister's tent. She had asked us to come over and play cards. When we arrived, Major Winchester was there. They were playing chess. Sarabeth said she was going to win in three moves. The major said he was going to win in four. She won in three.
Sarabeth taught us this card game she calls Stomp. It's a fast game---you're drawing cards and passing one to the person beside you, trying to keep track of your ever changing points and trying to rid of the penalty cards---all at the same time! It's really hard. But it's lots of fun!
Klinger, Sarabeth and I were laughing so hard, our sides were hurting. Even the major was smiling and enjoying himself. He should have been; he was winning most of the hands. I doubt that he would admit to having fun, however. He likes to appear so dignified and act like ordinary things are beneath him.
Anyway, one time, while we were waiting for Klinger to finish shuffling the cards, inventions were mentioned. Sarabeth and I finally convinced Klinger to tell us about his latest idea. Major Winchester denounced it as being a silly scam. But Sarabeth said she was interested in it.
So, after dark, and after Klinger had sworn us all to secrecy, we went behind the generator shed to look at it. It's a child's toy that you swirl around your waist...kinda like the way the hula dancers move their hips. Sarabeth could make it work. So could I. Klinger could too, after a fashion. The major wouldn't even try it. Too undignified, I guess.
Afterwards, we were all hungry. So we decided to head for the mess tent. But the odor coming from it convinced us to combine our resources and create our own meal. We split up and met back at Sarabeth's tent, bringing whatever we could find.
We had a strange combination of food! Sarabeth had a canned ham and some bread and coffee from the kitchen. Klinger brought a Lebanese salami and some cheese. I brought my last batch of homemade cookies. Major Winchester had caviar and crackers.
No one had a knife to cut the meat. So Sarabeth got a scalpel from her med kit. Taking it out of its wrappings, she handed it to Major Winchester. She told him that this wasn't his usual table but she reckoned he could handle it, anyway. She likes to tease him.
As we ate, (I tried the caviar but I didn't like it.) we talked. We talked about so many things: snow falls, stories of Comanche raids, playing in the water from a fire hydrant, polo matches, volcanoes...all kinds of topics.
At one point, we got around to folk stories and myths. Sarabeth told us the legends of the bluebonnets and of the Indian paint brushes. And I told them about Pele's Children and the Lava Bird's Tears. That's what made me think of you.
I remember how we would gather round your table---Mom, Grandma, Uncle Timache, Timmy, all the cousins. And how we'd laugh and listen to the old stories. I didn't realize how much I missed that time in my life---until last night.
And, in all of the things we talked about, not once did we mention the war and the wounded. No one said we couldn't...but it was like we had all agreed...that we would keep ugly reality outside the tent...as long as possible.
I enjoyed listening and talking to them. I consider Sarabeth my best friend. Klinger's always been nice. And Major Winchester has always paid me polite attention. Unlike Hawkeye, who never seems to notice me at all. I got to know them a little better. And it was nice to be able to spend an evening away from this horrible place.
So, at 2030 hours, (8:30pm---real world time) when Sarabeth apologized and said that she was going to have to ask us all to leave so she could get some sleep, I felt sad. I didn't want to leave---we were having such a good time!
I also felt bad because I had forgotten that she is working a double shift. The rest of the nurses have only one six-hour shift a day---when we don't have patients. And since my duty doesn't start until 0500 hours, (5am) I have plenty of time to get some rest. But Sarabeth has to go on at 2300 hours (11pm).
We left---reluctantly. Sarabeth really didn't want us to go, either. But she was right. She had to get some sleep. She should have run us out sooner.
I heard her tell Klinger that she would stop by his office in the morning to discuss investing in his toy.
Major Winchester walked me to my tent. He is such a gentleman! It wouldn't hurt the other men in this camp to adopt some of his manners. He asked me if I thought that invention of Klinger's would really sell. I told him I thought it would. He said he might have to reconsider Klinger's offer.
At my tent, we said good night and he left. Once I was inside, Liza and Jeanette tried to kid me about having a date with Major Standoffish. I just ignored them. Sometimes, I get so tired of having to put up with them.
A couple of days ago, Sarabeth asked me if I would like to move in with her. It would be nice to share a tent with only one person---rather than with three other people. She's waiting for Major Houlihan's approval on the change. I bet she won't get it. The major doesn't seem to like her. But I do.
Anyway, it's nearly time for me to begin my shift.
I really miss you. Please write soon.