Oct. 20th: 1800 hours
"That scrawny tree over there will be perfect." Sarabeth MacAllister decided. She gathered a handful of pebbles and looked at Charles Winchester. They were on the leeward side of the generator shed at the edge of camp. He was leaning against the wall as he studied her 'rock-chunking' techniques.
"I've never had a human audience before." Self-consciously, she admitted.
"Do you want me to leave?"
"Nope. Just stand clear." She grinned. "I'd rather not have to fill out an accident report."
After selecting one small stone, the woman said, "I am getting real tired of Monica Parnelli's 'lick & a promise' approach to nursing." She threw the rock at her designated target. It landed with a solid thud.
"And, I'm mad at Margaret Houlihan!" With a deep breath, she threw a second rock at the tree. "I'm mad at her because she treats me like a beginning nurse."
Another stone hit the tree trunk.
"I'm mad because she doesn't like anything I do."
"She doesn't like my OR performance."
"She doesn't like the suggestions I make."
"She doesn't even like the way I wear my hair!"
"I'm also mad because she won't let me laugh or tell jokes."
"I'm angry because she won't do anything about Parnelli."
"And I'm angry that I have to wait until she gets back from her seven day conference in Tokyo before I find out if I really have to pack up and go."
Each statement was accompanied by a flying stone.
MacAllister picked more rocks to throw. "The next person I'm mad at is Hawkeye Pierce." She announced.
Winchester asked, "Is this a private stoning? Or may anyone join in?"
The Texan grinned. "It's open to the public." She poured some of her collection into the palm of his hand.
"I'm mad at Hawkeye because he acts like he is the only person who cares about the patients." Sarabeth announced.
Two rocks hit the target.
"And I'm upset with him because he moves from good-natured kidding to mean-spirited gouging much too quickly."
Again, two tree bark slaps were heard.
Sarabeth tossed a rock into the air and easily caught it. "That's how annoyed I am with B J Hunnicutt."
"You're not angry with him?" The major questioned.
"I get annoyed with his practical jokes but I find it difficult to get mad at B J." She answered, smiling.
"I also get aggravated at Charles Emerson Winchester, sometimes." She divulged, not even glancing at the man standing nearby. Her rock landed halfway between them and the tree.
"Do you care to discuss that?"
"Nope." She replied and named her next subject. "I'm annoyed at Fannin and Crockett for their tempers."
"Their tempers?" He questioned mildly.
Her throw answered for her.
With a pause to collect more rocks, MacAllister began again. "I'm very angry at whoever started this war!"
Winchester's throw was harder than her own.
"And I am very angry at whoever won't stop this war!"
Two rocks were thrown simultaneously.
"That requires another one." The major announced.
Their stones were thrown together, again.
"And I'm mad at whoever can give these kids enough bullets to maim and kill each other but can't give us enough blood and bandages to patch them back together!" They each slung their rock with a vengeance and then tossed a second one, as well. Looking at each other, the doctor and the nurse nodded in agreement and threw a third set of stones at their target.
"I reckon that's all of the people I'm mad at. Now, I'm angry over the lousy food."
"In my case, I shall have to add another rock." The senior officer informed her with a grin. His actions followed his words.
"And I'm mad because the men always have first access to the showers, and the hot water, while the women always have to wait." MacAllister stated.
"That can not be true."
"Check the schedule, Charles. It's always doctors first, the enlisted men second and the nurses last."
Sarabeth counted the remaining stones in her hand. "I am still mad at Margaret Houlihan!" She flung all the rocks as hard as she could and dusted her hands. She smiled at Major Winchester. "OK. I reckon I'm through chunking rocks at defenseless trees."
"My turn." Winchester picked some rocks off the ground. He presented some to the woman. "Does this have to be war-related?"
She shook her head. "Whatever, or whoever, is upsetting you."
"Very well." With a long inhalation, the major proclaimed, "I am angry at the man who asked my sister to marry him, and then changed his mind, hurting her so deeply."
His rock struck the tree with a sharp sound.
"And I am mad at myself for acting so boorish and narrow-minded when I criticized her choice. I regret the things I wrote to her."
Another missile was thrown.
"I am also angry at the Board of Directors at Boston General for removing me from consideration for the Chief of Thoracic Surgery."
"Did they give a reason?" Sarabeth asked.
"Because I am stuck over here and they needed someone now!" Heatedly, he answered and pitched another stone.
"Idiots!" She replied with a rock of her own.
"I am angry with Pierce for all of the reasons stated previously. And because he constantly tries to humiliate me."
"I'm aggravated with Hunnicutt for his childish behavior."
"I am angry with Margaret for pushing her nurses too hard."
"I am appalled by Father Mulcahy's continual massacre of the piano in the Officer's Club."
The pile of stones was growing smaller.
"And...I get annoyed with Sarabeth MacAllister, sometimes."
This rock landed halfway between them and the target. He was watching her from the corner of his eye. Other than an eyebrow arching, she did not react.
"I get pretty annoyed with her, myself, sometimes." She noted.
Winchester resumed his pronouncements. "I dislike having a domicile that is made of the same material as my pants!"
"I abhor the lack of privacy."
"And the mail service is deplorable."
"I am the angriest, however, because I can not play my music whenever I want! I need my classical music to preserve what little sanity I have left. But I can't listen to it without those cretins complaining!"
Winchester threw the remaining rocks at the tree.
"You're always welcome at the MacAllister Ranch...you and your music, Charles." Sarabeth informed him.
"Thank you, my dear." He looked at the approaching darkness. "It's time to leave."
The two Army officers walked towards the main part of the compound.
"This place is deserted!" The woman commented. "Sock swaps must be more popular than I thought!"
"We still have time to join the festivities before you have to go on duty." The man offered.
Sarabeth looked up at him and smiled. "No. Like Robert Frost, I choose the road...less traveled by."
"You constantly amaze me." With a courtly gesture, Charles Winchester extended his elbow to her. Decorously, she slipped her hand into the bend of his arm. They continued their walk.
"After we ruin our appetites in the mess tent," Sarabeth spoke, "I will probably be calm enough to finish my brandy and to appreciate the Mozart. If your invitation is still open."
"Absolutely." Winchester assured her.