The 4077th Korea to the 47th Tokyo
Dear, dear, dear Dean,
So, you’ve finally made it to Asia! You’re in Tokyo right now, as I’ve been told, and one more step away from hell (also known as Korea, making sure we’re on the same page here). I heard you’re going to be near my unit, the 4077th, so I am relieved, in some way, because we’ll be near each other without our duties in the way, of course (and you’re sure to be guarding the unit, since we’re so close to the Front Lines, if you’re not going to be looking at the North Koreans and Chinese in the face). It’s a salve over a deep wounded covered in salt and it comforts me. Yes, I bet you’re cringing right now (sorry for reminding you of that time when Clarence…oh, never mind) because you know how it feels. However, I hope that something can be done soon, so we could be together and you could meet Hawkeye, who I told you lots about.
Today is Halloween, as you know, and tonight, the Officers’ Club is hosting a party, courtesy of the enlisted men who went through all the trouble of decorating for the first real American holiday away from home. Hawkeye is taking me there, thank God, so I don’t have to worry about sitting here in my tent all night, listening to the other nurses in my tent talk about their night out the next morning. I would have felt worse, nonetheless, but I think it’s almost worse that they’re jealous of me. Already, some of the other nurses confronted me, telling me to stay away from Hawkeye, but he’s smoothed that over when he overheard them trying to push me around (ah, the Mess Tent is a wonderful place sometimes!). He’s such a charmer, sometimes, and I know it best of all.
Dean, I know what you’re going to say: he’s a heartbreaker, a womanizer. For sure, Hawkeye might as well be. However, he’s kind to me and has helped me in many ways. He’s introduced me to so many people and I’m being talked to sometimes, if they like me. It’s what I wanted, but at the same time, I feel overwhelmed by so many people, like Trapper (who has finally accepted me as Hawkeye’s “special friend” and will talk to me as a friend), talking to me. It’s amazing, though. And I’m always looking forward to it at times.
And no, my worried older brother, nothing has happened between us. I mean, Hawkeye hasn’t been dating the other nurses and has bothered me all the time, every single day. No, he just insists I help him all the time in the O.R., bothers me when I’m on Post-Op duty and he doesn’t and has even asked me for a weekend in Tokyo with him. Of course, Henry isn’t going to allow that (we tried), so I guess it’s ok…except I want it. I love Hawkeye, Dean, and I can’t help myself. If his feelings are the same, I don’t know, but it sure looks like it unless Hawkeye is a pretty good actor. It remains to be seen.
Anyhow…you wanted to know what happened in Henry’s office after the incident in the Mess Tent, when Major Burns dumped old food on me instead of Hawkeye, to get back at him for all that was done to him and Major Houlihan. Remember I told you that, in Post-Op, Henry told me and Major Houlihan that we were supposed to meet in his office and discuss what was going on in camp? Yes, so, the meeting was at oh-nine hundred hours (too early, I know!) and all of us were there: me, Henry, Hawkeye and Trapper (both in their bathrobes), Majors Burns and Houlihan, Klinger (yes, THAT Klinger who dresses in dresses!) and Father Mulcahy.
Well, Henry went into one of his usual lectures about how we should be treating each other with respect and dignity, since we ARE, of course, in a M*A*S*H unit, three miles from the Front Lines, which is what we can all agree on (because we’re all supposed to be professionals). However, what we shouldn’t – and couldn’t – agree on is where to cross the line and how to leave each other alone, even if something, like the relationship between the Majors, IS the camp’s biggest joke.
Father Mulcahy started. “I think, Colonel, that if we cooperated and appreciated each others’ feelings, like you said, then we might have the opportunity to follow what you’re saying.”
Klinger, in one of his outfits (I can’t say dress, but I guess you can, in this case) – dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz with a toy Toto in a basket – had his rifle in one corner of his office (he was patrolling last night) and stood next to me, puzzled. “I would have to agree with Father Mulcahy,” he added, “but that’s about it. I have no idea why I’m asked to be here.”
“You’re still the daughter I never had, Klinger,” Hawkeye commented as Klinger beamed. “I just asked Henry if you could come with me.”
“Wait, I thought Klinger was my daughter,” Trapper chimed in.
By then, Major Houlihan, who had been sitting in the seat next to Major Burns, stood up and stomped her feet in yet another temper tantrum. “You see, Colonel Blake! Do you see this insubordination?! This is the kind of respect we get here as officers.”
“It’s not like a lot of people care,” I said quietly from my corner of the office, far away from people. “Major, we’re three miles from the Front Lines. We’re going to crack if we don’t do insane things to keep us sane and smile, even when we can’t do it. I know you’re trying to cope as best as you can with Major Burns in your tent every night. However, if you keep this gun-ho Army regulation cock o’ muley on us, you’re gonna realize that it’s not going to work here.”
It was the longest speech I ever made to someone, Dean. I felt proud of myself (even Henry was smiling with a father’s pride again) even as I saw Major Houlihan’s lips turn to a retort, about to release her deadly sting. However, it was Major Burns behind her that yelled at me.
Standing behind his little lover from his seat, Major Burns yelled, “Captain Morrison! Need I remind you, as an officer of this fine U.S. Army, that you yourself show respect to your superior officers?! As a ‘draftee’, and a fine military woman, you should know better. According to your records, you’ve been in this Man’s Army since December of 1940. That should give you AMBLE time to learn that respect –”
“Frank, can it!” Henry interrupted finally, also annoyed both Majors possibly went through records again…behind his back.
As Klinger moved out of the office with Father Mulcahy behind him – the former had K.P. Duty and the latter had confessions to hear, as we figured, or they just left to stay out of the arguments coming up shortly – Major Houlihan finally exploded without Frank Burns making her shut up. “Colonel Blake, as far as I can concerned, you should have control over this childish, scheming, little –”
“Hold your tongue, Major!” Henry did not want to hear of me being spoken so callously, I guessed, because he looked furious, knowing who she was referring to. “I’ve known Captain Jeanette Morrison since she was child and later, when she entered the U.S. Army. She’s an honorable officer and a fine nurse. Now, I don’t understand what your beef with her is, but whatever it is, get over it.”
Major Burns was about to say something, but Hawkeye got there first. “Oh, come off of it, you two. Captain Morrison has nothing against anybody –”
“I shouldn’t talk, Pierce,” Burns interrupted hotly. “I look at you and McIntyre in disgust and am just thoroughly through with –”
“Frank, if you continue to talk like that, I’ll be bumming you down –” Henry started.
“Colonel, I should not talk, if I were you!” Major Houlihan countered, the first person not to be interrupted by someone within those few seconds. But then, soon afterward, she, Major Burns, Henry, Hawkeye and Trapper stood up and started to argue about everything in the camp while I stood to one side: the unknown, quiet person in the corner once more.
Dean, I thought Father Mulcahy and Klinger were the smart ones. They left before Henry could say anything to them or they got involved in something, although, I must say, the two are beautifully wonderful and won’t cause much trouble. Well, Klinger is another story, but that’s beside the point. I’ll tell you about his last escape effort – flying out of the camp in a hang-glider in an outrageous outfit – later. It’s too funny for words!!
Well, anyhow, everybody argued about everything under the sun. While Henry moderated and reminded everybody of everything (values and professionalism), Majors Burns and Houlihan cited military regulation while Trapper and Hawkeye cited practical and things of common sense. I didn’t quite follow along (I was too amused for words and sat back to watch the action), but when Major Houlihan said of me a few minutes later, “She’s a bumbling idiot of a nurse who knows nothing of her profession and will step in the way of the wounded being healed.”
Then, after that statement, there seemed to be silence. Dean, I mean, everybody stopped arguing and stared at her, even Frank Burns. The crickets even stopped chirping, I swear.
When hearing this, my face turned beet red. I knew Major Houlihan was talking about me and it made everybody stop dead in their tracks because even they all knew it wasn’t true. They all looked at me, wondering what I was going to do because my face went from red from feeling embarrassment to white from feeling murderous. And because of this (they all seen it), Major Burns went in front of Major Houlihan, to protect her in some way, and Hawkeye ran to my side, restraining me as I jumped towards the Major, angry as hell. I was about ready to fight.
“I’ve been a nurse since 1945, Major, despite what the records say about me,” I yelled as Hawkeye pulled my arms back in a twist. “I’ve been considered to be one of the greatest there was, working in Washington, D.C. That was why I was transferred here. Hell, I was so good that the U.S. Army sent me to West Germany, at the border of East and West in Berlin, and made me a spy, to make me forget what I saw in the civilian hospitals for military personnel. And you’re telling me that I’m a ‘bumbling idiot’ and –”
“Jeanie, that’s enough!” Henry interjected into the rant and stopped me as I continued to struggle against Hawkeye, still trying to kill the Head Nurse for her nonsensical comments. “Ok, here’s what’s going on from now on. Burns, you and Houlihan can continue your relationship and stop spying behind my back, for all I care. McIntyre and Pierce, try to cut down on the jokes. And Morrison, stop your complaining and cool your jets. You’re all dismissed!!”
By then, we were scrambled, the Majors out first, before I could kill someone (them, I was more aiming for). Hawkeye and Trapper basically took me back to the Swamp – their messy tent, remember, Dean – and got me drunk silly on their swill from the still before I could even think of committing another offense that could get us in deep trouble. I don’t remember anything else from that day, it was so blurry, but later that evening, I sobered enough for the incoming wounded (Hawkeye took me to the male showers and got me sobered up quickly, I was so bad), which would have sobered me anytime of the day.
Damn, Dean, this is the longest I’ve ever written! I’ve taken four breaks, at least, to write this all down for you and to keep you updated on everything. I’m sure you’re proud of me (haha) and would love to hear more from me, in person. I can’t wait until your next tour of war, which sounds strange (it sounds strange to me even), but I miss you too much. I missed you in Germany and I miss you now, no matter what. And I bet Henry will be pleased to see you again, as well!
Your loving sister, Jeanie