Oct. 2nd: 1500 hours
"Looks like we've been forgotten, Texas." Mitch Cochlan commented. The activity in the treatment room had slowed as the more critical patients were moved into the operating room. Only one nurse remained.
Perched on an examining table, MacAllister grinned at the Australian. "I told you we should have made reservations, Outback." She quipped.
The pre-op nurse, a heavier set young woman with a pretty Eurasian face and a welcoming smile came over to them. "Hi. I'm Lieutenant Kellye. Your injuries aren't serious, so you'll have to wait. But I can get you ready for the doctors."
Sarabeth returned her friendly smile as she made the introductions. Already, she liked this woman.
Kellye evaluated her first. "Let's get your ankle x-rayed. Then I can clean you up and see what else needs to be done." She told the newcomer with a smile. By the time she had unlaced the boot, neither of the women were smiling, however.
MacAllister was sweating. She was gripping the edge of the table so tight she had white knuckles showing. Kellye winced in sympathy. "I'll pack that in ice as soon as you get back. Klinger," she called, "bring a wheelchair."
Promptly, a corporal arrived, pushing a wheelchair. He had a swarthy appearance and an impressive nose. In a deliberate charade, he tied something invisible to an IV stand.
"A nice, slow ride to x-ray." Lieutenant Kellye directed.
"Yes, ma'am." He carefully helped the redheaded lieutenant into the chair.
Sarabeth couldn't resist asking him what he had fastened to the stand.
"My camel, Habibi." Klinger replied earnestly.
"Your camel?" Other than one eyebrow shooting up in amazement, MacAllister managed to keep her face expressionless. "Corporal, I don't reckon camels belong in a hospital."
"It's OK, Lieutenant." He assured her. "He's housebroken."
"Is Kellye your last name or your first?" Lieutenant MacAllister asked when she was wheeled back into the treatment room.
"First. But no one here can pronounce my last name---Tanakhamara---so everyone just calls me Kellye. Kellye is easier." The M*A*S*H nurse conceded.
"My name's Sarabeth." MacAllister grinned. "Fill me in, will you, Kellye? Tell me what I need to know about this place."
The nurse talked as she cleaned the other woman's cuts. "Colonel Potter is our CO. He's great. Captain Pierce is our Chief Surgeon. He likes to clown around. So does Captain Hunnicutt. Major Winchester's kinda stuffy. I like him. But I don't think many people do."
Reverberating noises were heard in the distance. The newest arrival listened to them carefully. Puzzled, she looked at the other woman for an answer.
"That's the artillery." Lieutenant Kellye explained. "We hear them almost all the time. Sometimes, they are much closer. Unfortunately, you get used to them after a while."
Tanakhamara pulled a screen around the table and helped MacAllister remove her upper garments. "Those are some bad bruises." She commented when she observed the Texan's shoulder. She securely fastened toweling around the woman's chest and draped her shirt over her shoulders.
The red-haired lieutenant shrugged and changed the subject. "I have the feeling that Captain Pierce considers himself a lady's man."
Kellye answered with a laugh. "He'll make seven passes at you before he even knows your name. But he's not like some doctors---he will leave you alone---if you really want him to."
"How are they to work with?"
"All of them are good surgeons. B J and the colonel are the easiest to work with, however. Hawkeye and the major are difficult! They want their instruments handed to them in precisely the right manner and at exactly the right moment. Most of the time, they won't even tell you which ones they want. You have to stay very sharp to work with them."
"But the one you really have to worry about---is Major Houlihan. She's the head nurse. She expects perfection at all times. No mistakes allowed. Surgery can actually be fun but she doesn't like for the nurses to joke with the doctors." Kellye explained. "She's married to some colonel. It's not working out. So when she's unhappy with him; she's unhappy with us."
"Terrific." Sarabeth said dryly. She asked, "Why was Captain Pierce so upset earlier? I realize that a pistol doesn't belong in a hospital, but I honestly forgot I was wearing it."
"Hawkeye hates death." The nurse explained. "And he hates anything that causes death. So, here lately, he's been on this rampage...if no one carried weapons...no one could get hurt."
"I reckon he does have a point." MacAllister acknowledged. "What about...the camel driver?"
Kellye laughed. "Klinger? He's harmless. He's trying to convince everyone that he's crazy so he can get a Section Eight discharge."
"He's convinced me." Cochlan's Australian-accented voice came from the other side of the screen. "But then, what do I know?" He joked. "I like kangaroos."
Sarabeth MacAllister's amused laughter filled the room.