Oct. 22nd: 0630 hours
"Howdy, gentlemen." Lieutenant MacAllister acknowledged the four surgeons seated at the mess table.
"Good morning, Sarabeth. Care to join us for breakfast? You'll be the best part of it." Captain Pierce told her.
"Not today, sir. Thank you, though. By the way, did y'all hear about the partnership between the dentist and the carpenter?"
"No." Pierce replied with a grin. "What happened?"
"It didn't work out. They kept fighting tooth and nail."
Enjoying the amusement of the men, MacAllister turned to the nurses waiting at another table. She removed the clipboard from under her arm and walked over to them.
"Good morning, ladies." She greeted them cheerfully. "It's time to increase your indigestion by posting today's assignments." A collective groan sounded. She grinned at them. "Just think, Hercules had only twelve impossible tasks to perform."
"So where is he now that we need him?" Liza Campbell asked and the women laughed.
"Here I am, ladies." Flexing his muscles, Hawkeye called to them. "See?"
The women responded with catcalls.
"Now, now." MacAllister admonished. "Let's leave him with his delusions intact. Captain Pierce," she spoke to him with laughter in her voice, "unless you want to scrub floors with us, you should keep those impressive biceps to yourself."
"I think she's telling you to clean up your act, Hawk." B J Hunnicutt quipped. He was absent-mindedly scratching under the edge of his bandaging.
"Maybe you are being too abrasive." Colonel Potter suggested with a smile.
"Some people just don't appreciate sparkling talent." Hawkeye announced as he headed for the coffee urn.
"Perhaps, that is because we have yet to see any." Major Winchester remarked.
"Now that we've all come clean," MacAllister said, "the nurses can get started on the important things." She became more businesslike. "Baker, you and Thompson have done an excellent job reorganizing the medical storeroom. Finish that today and add the new supplies we received yesterday."
The two women nodded. "Right, Lieutenant."
Sarabeth checked her list. "Riggs, how's that drug index coming?"
"It's taking a long time. With the cross listing by name, symptoms and ingredients---and now with the new ones to add to it---I'll get it done---but it may take all day."
The nurse in charge agreed. "Pull Smith from the manual updates if you need some help."
"Kellye, Campbell---y'all can start on the pre-op reorganization. The rest of us have the OR break down. And whoever finishes early, report to the OR. We'll still have plenty to do." Smiling at them, MacAllister placed the pencil behind her ear. "That's it. Keep up the good work. We'll start at 0700 hours."
"Count me out." Lieutenant Parnelli announced. "I've got better things to do than do scut work for you today."
"Excuse me, Parnelli." Lieutenant MacAllister's drawl was icy. "I don't reckon I heard you correctly."
The people in the mess tent were suddenly very quiet.
"You heard me!" Rebelliously, Monica Parnelli stood to face the red-haired nurse. "You don't rank me! You have no authority over me! Everyone knows Houlihan is just waiting to kick you out. I am not going to do it!"
"Very well." MacAllister answered calmly. She reached for her pencil and scratched the nurse's name off her list. "Finish your breakfast, ladies. We start at 0700 hours."
"You see?" Parnelli told the other women. "She can't make you do any of this."
The nurses shifted their positions uneasily.
"By the way, Lieutenant Parnelli, I have something to read to you." The nurse lifted the sheets of paper over the top of her clipboard and read from the last page:
To: Lieutenant MacAllister
From: Major Houlihan
Oct. 20, 1952
You, and the rest of my nursing staff, are hereby ordered to complete the work---detailed in the previous pages---before I return on Oct. 26th. All nurses are expected to work any shift, and any assignment, that is given to them. Should any nurse decide not to cooperate, she is hereby assigned to latrine health detail. She is to take samples from each and every latrine hole in this compound. I want tests run, on every sample, for hepatitis, typhoid and heavy concentrations of E. coli.
These are my orders, Lieutenant. I expect you to carry them out.
Major Margaret Houlihan
MacAllister dropped the pages back onto the clipboard and returned the pencil to its original position. "Any questions?" She asked in a dangerously silken tone.
"Lieutenant, may I see Major Houlihan's orders?" Colonel Potter asked.
"Certainly, sir." She handed him the clipboard and stood at attention.
Her commanding officer thumbed through the pages, glanced briefly at the last page, nodded and gave the clipboard back to MacAllister.
"Under the circumstances, Lieutenant, I have to amend the major's orders." The colonel remarked.
"Yes, sir." Expressionless, she waited for his comments.
Parnelli began to smile.
Potter addressed the nurse. "Lieutenant Parnelli, in addition to the three tests mentioned, you are to run tests for cholera, as well. And I want the written report on my desk by the end of the day."
Parnelli's smile faded. "But, sir...." She began.
"By the end of the day, Lieutenant. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, sir." She answered gloomily.
After the women left the tent, the doctors lingered at their table.
"Colonel," B J Hunnicutt spoke in low tones, "that was an interesting note that Major Houlihan wrote."
"She didn't write it." Potter responded quietly. "The last page was blank."
"What?!" Hawkeye Pierce exclaimed. At his commanding officer's stern look, he lowered his voice and leaned forward. "She was bluffing? No wonder she's such a good poker player!"
Oct. 22nd: 0730 hours
The company clerk was typing one of his many daily reports when Lieutenant MacAllister walked into his office. "Howdy, Corporal."
"Good morning, Lieutenant." Klinger smiled at her. "What can I do for you?"
"Would you ask the colonel if he has time to talk to me for a few minutes?"
"You wanted to speak to me?" Colonel Potter asked the young woman as she approached his desk.
"Yes, sir. I wanted to say...thank you."
Potter nodded. "Anything else?"
"No, sir. Not unless you want an explanation for...anything?"
"No explanations are needed, Lieutenant. Dismissed!"
After MacAllister left, the officer chuckled. The lieutenant had handled the situation well. And running fecal samples was the perfect punishment for Parnelli. She was, indeed, a pain in the rear. He couldn't have thought of anything better, himself.