After showing Daddy how we functioned in the office and with Radar always knowing what was going on, we all (minus Radar again) went to Post-Op, where our wounded were. Most of the beds were filled with our men (two of them were North Korean prisoners ready to be shipped out soon and another was a civilian from the village) and all on shift were busy to make them as comfortable as possible before they went to an Evac Hospital or back into combat or, in the case of the prisoners and villager, back home or to a prisoner-of-war camp.
“Who is in charge of this shift?” Daddy asked as Dean excused himself, Radar coming in and whispering to him that he had a phone call from his second-in-command from the unit and that was it urgent.
“Major Simmons, one of our brilliant surgeons,” Margaret replied, pointing him to the desk at the far corner, where our lovely Major Simmons was writing out reports and taking paperwork from the nurses patiently – and kindly – enough.
“Who also happens to be in charge of most of the shifts,” Henry added, grumbling about how he and Frank always volunteered for duty…or a firing squad, if there was one, as we’ve all joked around when Simmons wasn’t bunking (again) in the Swamp and complaining about the smell and mess.
“Much more so than Frank Burns, Chief of Malpractice,” Hawkeye muttered.
“What was that, Pierce?” Simmons had heard of our approach behind him and stopped what he was doing, looking up from his work. Then, seeing my father, he stood up and saluted, obviously frightened and wanting be anywhere but where he was (his face went white with fright, his body shaking from seeing Daddy). It seemed like Simmons knew Daddy.
“It’s a p-pleasure to see you here, Colonel Morrison,” Simmons added on a second thought, practically stuttering through the sentence.
Daddy saluted, back, grinning evilly, as if he had some scheme in his demented mind, only replying, “It’s nice to see you again, Simmons…hopefully, it’ll be in the stockade, Leavenworth or dead next time. What are you doing here in Korea?”
“Serving the U.S. Army, as I’ve always done.” Simmons looked more nervous by the minute.
“Oh, good, a reunion,” Trapper interjected. “How many more will we have today?”
“All we need are our old high school classmates,” Hawkeye added with a smile.
“Oh, can it, you two!” Henry also looked more nervous as moments passed and addressed the issue the only way he could: by ignoring it and going onto the next one. “Colonel Morrison, I’m sure that you can see we run an effective hospital –”
“Henry, put this man on report!” Daddy looked angry all a sudden, watching Simmons squirm more than he already was doing (Hawkeye and Trapper exchanged looks and Margaret looked to Frank to do something, she was so confused). “This man is a rapist and will do anything for promotion in order to escape his last position, which was what he had been going for years to give the U.S. government the slip. He’s gained his degree as a ‘doctor’, if you must call him that, by cheating and imitating others in the art, a real master, if you must call him that. His real name is Jacob Zimmerman, a rabbi’s nephew, ostracized by his own family because of his actions.”
By looking at Simmons’ reaction to everything, I knew that Daddy was telling the truth (in an angry way, for sure, but he was always able to get the truth out of somebody) and was trying to uncover a fraud. But it also shocked everybody and explained all of their reactions.
“Colonel, we can’t just put the man on report for anything unless we hold a serious investigation and the said-accused is put in isolation in his tent and watched,” Frank declared, trying to break up the tension and bring up regulations, despite the general shock.
“Major Burns is right, Sir,” Margaret added. “Major Simmons has not given us a reason to believe, as well, that he is not a doctor, rapist or whatever you’re accusing him of.”
“Sir, your son is leaving.” Radar, not knowing what was going on a few minutes beforehand (or did, but was ignoring it), came into Post-Op, addressing my father quietly enough. “His unit is shipping out to the Front now.”
“When? How? Why?” I asked frantically. “I thought he was staying here to watch the 4077th. His unit was supposed to be our guards.”
“If he could keep it permanently, he could, Jeanette, but the 43rd moves to where it is needed,” Daddy answered for me as he left Post-Op, calling behind him that he’ll be back and to keep me there until he got back. “You can’t always get what you what with the U.S. Army. Dean has to go where he’s ordered to. He can’t watch you all the damned time.”
Great, just great…the father who never knew me is treating me like a teenager and not thinking twice about it. Hell, the last time that he saw me, I was barely in my teenager years and he was being an ass to me. Does he realize that I’m a few years short of being thirty? Do I act like the teenager he’s treating me as? No, and I don’t need a babysitter either. Why ask Dean to watch me?
“Say, Sir, why is that bottle over there cracked?” Radar had suddenly moved to a patient’s bed and had seen the bottle which held precious blood.
The Company Clerk – young, innocent and naïve still, by our standards – looked to Henry for the answer, but he was more involved in keep an eye out on Simmons by staring at him with such distrust that it was disturbing, even to me, who had seen that face very few times (and it was usually to my stepfather). Simmons had calmed down by Daddy’s disappearance elsewhere, but was still frightened by the ordeal.
Hawkeye saw it immediately and went over to where Radar was. “Radar, don’t touch that,” he warned carefully. “Don’t you know that touching something like that could make you sick?”
“Really, Sir?” Radar asked as Trapper and I grinned from behind. “How sick can I get? Gee, whiz, I should let you handle it, huh?”
“Sure, Radar, let me take care of it. You just stand back and watch the pro handle it.”
Hawkeye smiled also and told a nurse to being him more B negative blood. Taking the new bottle from the nurse on duty a minute later (and ignoring Henry stare Simmons down), Hawkeye reached over, ever-so-carefully, to remove the offending, cracked bottle and replace it. However, what he did not anticipate was the old bottle shattering in his hand.
The shattering noise was loud and caught everybody’s attention, even those who were previously preoccupied with the scene before.
“Pierce, are you all right?” Henry asked, forgetting Simmons for the moment (he sat back down to write his reports, as if nothing had happened to him).
“Sure, Henry, if I knew whose blood was whose,” Hawkeye joked, standing still and dripping blood all over the place, but moving his hand so that it didn’t drip on the patient (instead, it was all over the floor, which was a safer bet, but not by much).
“Nurse, get that patient his bottle of blood,” Margaret ordered Kellye, also on the shift. “Clean up the patient as well and give him new clothes and sheets and pillows. I’m sure he didn’t get himself anymore blood on than when he came in here. And somebody get Pierce cleaned up and out of here before he contaminates something!”
“No, Ma’am, he did not,” Kellye answered (talking about the patient), going up to Hawkeye to get him out of the way to clean up the patient and hooking up the new bottle of blood. She then took the bottle from him and hooked everything up, cleaning it off in the process, while Hawkeye stood still, looking for a way to get himself cleaned up without making himself a nuisance.
I, however, could not stand there and watch blood drip from Hawkeye’s hand or have him searching for a way out and finding none (since everywhere he turned, he seemed to find no way to keep the patients sanitized and safe). So, I went over there, obeying Margaret’s orders (avoiding the blood perfectly, my body blending every which way I wanted it to), to get him out of the mess and to clean him up. Taking him by the unhurt hand (I assumed, with the glass, that Hawkeye had a few shards rip open his skin) and, wrapping my own Army jacket around his other hand, I led him around the mess, trying not to track anything else. Hawkeye just followed my lead perfectly, which pleased me, since he’s usually a pain otherwise.
“Jeanie, where the hell do you think you’re going?” Henry asked me, eying the scene with suspicion, another “fatherly” trait he’s developed over the years. It annoyed me.
“Well, if someone grabs a kit to scrub this area and sanitize it properly, we’ll have everything cleaned up safely and securely,” I replied sharply, angry that they would not take action immediately sometimes. “I’m taking Captain Pierce to Pre-Op so that he can be cleaned up properly.”
“Or, as properly as Hawkeye deems it,” Trapper laughed as we walked out together, him behind me and Hawkeye.