Oct. 23rd: 0530 hours
Carrying a heavy tray, Lieutenant MacAllister had to use the toe of her boot to wedge open the tent door. Quietly, she slipped into the darkened Swamp. She looked at the three sleeping forms with affection. Setting her burden on the table, the woman turned on the light in the far corner of the tent.
B J Hunnicutt stirred. "What is it? More casualties?" He asked, sleepily blinking up at her.
"No, sir. But I need to talk to y'all."
"Can't it wait until later?" He groaned.
"No, sir." She answered softly.
"Is that fresh bread I smell?" Major Winchester swung his legs over the edge of the bed and reached for his robe.
"You do. The cook just took these rolls out of the oven."
"Our cook?" Hawkeye Pierce yawned as he rubbed his eyes. "He's never served rolls that smelled that good before."
"That's because no one's ever paid him to make a batch before." Sarabeth answered while she poured the coffee. "Y'all come and get them while they're hot. There's butter and jelly over here, too."
"Delicious!" Hawkeye commented as he buttered another roll. "What's the occasion?"
"This is an apology for having to wake y'all this early in the morning." MacAllister replied in a subdued manner.
"What's wrong, Sarabeth?" Winchester asked in concern.
With an unhappy sigh, the woman took a folded paper out of her pocket, squared her shoulders and stood at attention before the officers. She opened the note and read to them:
On the morning of Oct. 23, 1952, Lieutenant S. MacAllister is hereby ordered to present herself before the Chief Surgeon, Dr. B. F. Pierce, the ranking surgeon, Dr. C. E. Winchester, and her attending physician, Dr. B J Hunnicutt.
These doctors are hereby requested to thoroughly examine and objectively evaluate Lieutenant MacAllister's damaged ankle for certification of fitness for duty.
According to the Army Nurses Field Manual: section IV, subparagraphs C-F, pages 23-24, the recommendation of this tribunal must be based solely on the ability of said nurse to reliably perform all duties required of nurses assigned to a M*A*S*H unit.
I request that the results of this examination be available for review by Oct. 26th, 1952.
Major M. Houlihan
MacAllister handed the note to Captain Pierce. "Nice. I like being a part of a firing squad during breakfast." He muttered.
"The reason I had to wake y'all so early is because I have to go over the morning's work assignments at 0630 hours. And I have to begin working on those jobs at 0700 hours. I was hoping we could get this over with before then."
Regretfully, the Chief Surgeon agreed. "Meet us at the x-ray lab in 15 minutes."
"Yes, sir. There are two things I want understood: (1) This breakfast should not be interpreted as a bribe. It is merely intended as an apology. (2) If y'all are less than truthful on that report, I will be extremely disappointed in each of you." She gave them a sad smile and left the tent.
"She knows the results of that evaluation as well as we do." The major commented. "There must be some way we can keep her here---despite that ankle."
"I'm open to suggestions." Pierce noted.
Oct. 23rd: 0630 hours
Lieutenant Kellye was the first one to notice that the Texan was no longer wearing her cast. "Hey! You have a matched set again. Congratulations!"
MacAllister smiled. "Thanks. I reckon y'all can call me a cast-away, now."
Lieutenant Sherry Riggs asked, "What's the verdict?"
She shrugged. "The jury's still out. But y'all know doctors. If it's a report that we have to do, it should have been done yesterday. And if it's a report that they have to do, they may start thinking about it in three weeks."
The other women laughed in agreement.
"Speaking of doctors," Sarabeth switched subjects, "do y'all know why they test the reflexes in the knees? Because they get their kicks out of it."
The nurses groaned at her joke. The woman laughed and reached for her clipboard. "And now for the good stuff. Kellye, Campbell and Hernandez, I want y'all to finish the pre-op reorganization. Parnelli, repeat your assignment from yesterday. The rest of us will finish the OR break down. I want that completed this morning."
"Um, Lieutenant," Parnelli spoke, hesitantly, "I'd like to help with the OR cleanup."
MacAllister arched an eyebrow at the young woman. "I was under the impression that you did not want to be included in my work crews." She answered in a soft tone.
"I've changed my mind."
"Very well. The more the merrier, I guess. We'll get started at 0700 hours."