“Come on, Jeanie, wake up. You have to wake up!”
A voice filled my ears, out of the darkness I seemed to have been swimming in for some time. Soon, though, I was thinking that I was back in Bloomington once more, sleeping over at the Blake residence, as I often used to do, waking up for school or something I had to get up for. I even felt the bed underneath me, so real it had been.
The voice was still talking, though…still persistent. “Let me look at you, Jeanie. You look awful.”
“Awww, Lorraine, come on…give me a few more minutes,” I mumbled to the voice I thought was Lorraine, trying to move, but aware of the pain. “I don’t wanna go to school today. I don’t feel well…and my shoulder and side hurt pretty badly. Oh, don’t send me back to Mom, either. Please, please, please? She’ll kill me if she sees me.”
“Wake up, Jeanie, please. Come on, wake up, dammit!”
Whoever was trying to wake me up was persistent, but stopped a moment later, somehow changing the topic a little. “You sure don’t look so good, it looks like you’ve a temperature, your face is flushed and your shoulder and right side look bad. Come on, Jeanie, let me see you. Wake up.”
“Oh, now you believe me?” I was still in Dreamland, thinking I was still in my upstairs bedroom at Henry and Lorraine’s, shared later with their daughter, Janie, when I decided to drop in randomly if I didn’t want to deal with my mother. “I don’t wanna go to school, Lorraine. I feel cold and don’t feel right at all. I feel sick all over.”
“I don’t think you’ll be going anywhere, anyhow,” the voice replied sadly. A hand then reached for my forehead, but, finding it tough to feel it because something was in the way, retracted the hand.
However, the answer given to me felt right, some “dream” come true! I was finally getting what I wanted. I wasn’t going to go home to my mother and Clarence and I wasn’t going to school! Lorraine seemed like the best mother I ever had, much more so than my own biological mother next door. She would understand me being sick, unlike Mom, who would drag me to school by the ear, if she could have the chance, not believing, even if I was throwing up all over her, that I was sick as hell.
I then felt my body being rolled over slowly and carefully, as if I was sleeping on my stomach earlier, and then a hand went to my forehead once more, finally feeling it.
“Aww, Lorraine, stop it, please,” I moaned, trying to swat the hand away and pleading pitifully as I laid on the “bed” I thought I was in. “I’ll be ok. Just let me sleep a little more. I’ll be ok tomorrow. Don’t let Henry look at me. Don’t tell him about anything.”
I heard a laugh, but it didn’t sound like Lorraine. The laugh was male, but it wasn’t Henry and I knew it. It even sounded familiar and became pushy again, saying, “Jeanie, come on, wake up. Wake up.”
I opened my eyes – finally waking up to reality – and looked around, knowing I shouldn’t have in the first place. And all of a sudden, the pain was real, the feelings were real and the person above me was real. The “bed” was gone and all I could feel underneath me was the ground, the cold, rough ground. The tent I was in was cold. It made me shiver, even though I was in my uniform and a heavy coat, so it seemed.
My mind went reeling then, confused and not knowing what was going on, but relaxed a little, remembering a little of where I was…where I was supposed to be…where I was assigned to be. It made me look around, wondering, though, why I had blood on my right side and why it hurt like hell. I didn’t know how it happened really, but when I woke up, I somehow recalled to mind, pretty damned quickly, an M.P. and a gun. I was drunk and arguing about something and yelling about Frank Burns, the camp’s “Ferret Face” and how –
“What happened, Jeanie? Talk to me, please, talk to me.” Hawkeye finally came before my eyes, worried and looking older than I remembered.
I shook my head, ignoring the pain, and almost laughed at the situation – us in a supply tent, it looked like – but I went serious a moment later.
“Let me guess,” I said, working my mouth perfectly after talking in my earlier state of semi-consciousness. “Korea? Middle of a war? Tent arrest still?”
Hawkeye nodded. “And we’re stuck together, somehow. Henry’s gone, the three Majors are in charge of the camp and we’re also out of tents, so we couldn’t be separated.”
I tried getting up, but couldn’t. I didn’t even try again and gave in. I wasn’t even going to be stubborn and act like Superman for once. I wanted to rest, to close my eyes into a deep slumber, to be warm and to feel right again. Whatever was making me feel drowsy and making my head spin didn’t feel right.
“How’s Trapper?” I asked quietly, trying to make small talk as Hawkeye ministered to me, first popping my shoulder in place (almost making me scream) and trying to staunch the blood on my right side as quickly as he could.
“I don’t know,” Hawkeye admitted, serious once more. “I only saw him once. He came in here to toss in my bag a few minutes ago. Then, he said that your brother was in town and ran before he was caught.”
“Dean’s in Uijongbu with his men already?” I asked, shaking harder (it seemed to have gotten colder in the tent). “That was fast!”
“His unit is around the corner and he’s been looking for you in his spare time,” Hawkeye replied quietly, pointing to the door. I think he meant that we were being watched, but I didn’t care. I had to ask about my brother! I wanted to see him!
“Am I allowed to write him?” I was desperate to communicate with Dean.
Oh, God, he’s here and he wants to see me and Henry too. I have to get through to everybody! I have to get out of here, somehow, if I can. I need to see Dean!
“You’re shivering, Jeanie.” Hawkeye ignored my question and continued to work on my right side. “You’ve got an infection. I’ve gotta do something, but Major Insanity won’t let me out.”
“Which one?” I tried to put my arms around me, but failed became my shoulder would not allow me to. My teeth even began to chatter. “They’re all insane,” I added for good measure.
“Frank is the insane one!” Hawkeye yelled, throwing away bloodied gauze to one side and starting to take out bandages, still holding his hand on my side with one bloody hand. “He took control of this outfit and everything’s gone downhill and nobody can do anything about it. Major Bastard – Simmons – has taken my position as Chief Surgeon and Major Baby – Margaret – is just enjoying herself at the head of the unit finally. She’s the more sensible of the bunch, but I can’t get to her without those boys with guns in my way.”
I shook my head, trying to breathe. It was slowly becoming harder to.
“What is the rest of the camp going to do?” I mused. “We’re all under the thumb of some idiots, it seems. Camp mutiny is out of the question because we’ll all be put in the stockade or court-martialed, depending on what we all did.”
“Careful what you say.” I was warned as he wrapped up my wound, looking at the door again.
I wanted to lighten the mood! This was too serious, even for me.
“You’re too serious now. Come on, Hawkeye, I think I remember getting shot, sort of shot. It just grazed my side.” I was going to continue, but I got the case of the shivers again, which threw Hawkeye off again. It made him madder.
“I’m going to kill that Major…” he muttered in a threatening tone, still working and most likely ignoring me as I took a deep breath.
“I got some flask in my uniform always, Hawkeye. It’s been a habit since I went into the Army. And Trapper would fill it with your swill from the still and I still had some when I came into tent arrest. I came in here, in this tent, and I think I got drunk silly and was arguing with the M.P. about the change of command.”
“And he shot you and it barely missed,” Hawkeye concluded with hesitation (he knew something else was up, I guessed), trying to joke around before he thought about killing anybody. “I’ll make sure to tell them to put that on your record: ‘Does not play well with others’. You are a bad student, Jeanie. I hope Frank realizes that he missed putting the dunce cap on you.”
“Oh, putting it under: ‘Too stupid for words for arguing about a superior officer’?” I asked, somehow laughing.
Hawkeye finished up and smiled, but worry lines were etched deeper on his face. “I’ll see what I can do,” he only said. “There has to be some compassion to ‘prisoners’, even though we’re all on the same side. Stay here. Let me see what I can do.”