I was running late…to bed, that is. It was early in the morning (after my nice few hours with Hawkeye in the Supply Room, a locked door being the greatest thing ever) and, for some odd reason, I was being called to Daddy’s V.I.P tent for a meeting, a “talk” if you will, with him.
It was already about three in the morning. I was going to go to bed and sleep before my shift in the early afternoon, but Radar had happened to bump into me on my way out of Post-Op (checking on a patient I was worried about) and told me that I was being paged by my father. And it seemed to be a bit urgent, by the way he ordered Radar around.
“Do you know what he wants, Radar?” I asked when hearing this strange order, rubbing my arms as goosebumps lined them. I had a new coat on, all right (Hawkeye found one for me in the Supply Room after we were done, finding that the coat we took from its coat hanger worked out perfectly), but the cold still bit through it.
“I don’t know, Sir,” he replied, pointing me in the direction of the V.I.P tent Daddy was staying in. “He just came in and he started to yell at me to wake up and said to go get you from the Supply Room and –”
“He knew that I was in the Supply Room with Hawkeye?!” I gasped, so embarrassed I felt about it because I thought that, even though the camp might know about it, he might not.
Dammit! And I thought it was bad enough the camp knew things!
Radar shivered. “I don’t know, Sir, but –”
“Ah, Corporal O’Reilly, I see you’ve found my daughter.”
My father’s crisp voice suddenly filled the cold air behind us, making us both shake, and it wasn’t just from the cold either. Radar seemed just as frightened as I was of my father, instead of in awe, and it showed earlier in the office tour.
“Sir, what is it that you want of me?” I asked Daddy as he, uncharacteristically of him, took me by my arm and linked it with his.
“Corporal, you’re dismissed.” Daddy was ignoring my question and I knew it. He usually did unless he had a certain point to something.
“Sir…” I began, but then thought better of it. I kept my mouth shut.
“Jeanette, let’s talk in my tent for a while,” Daddy just said to me when Radar scampered back to the office, happy to be away from my father. “Why does it seem like this whole camp – crazy as it is with Henry Blake in charge – is frightened of me?”
“I don’t know,” I replied, uncomfortable with his arm around him and wistfully wishing for Hawkeye to rescue me (haha, my Knight in the Shining Bathrobe could not be found anywhere) and get me back to the Swamp. “Maybe it’s who you are and what you did?”
Daddy said nothing back to me, but continued to walk.
Passing the camp’s usual night owls (Klinger on patrol in a female dress uniform, Nurse Baker hiding behind another guardsman under a sheet and even Frank and Margaret sneaking around again), Daddy and I remained silent for the rest of the walk, finally reaching his tent and going in after a minute of walking. And this was different to me, so strange of it to happen. I never had my father even touch me in a manner like that (familial, friendly even) and not threat to kill me before. I half-expected him to do something idiotic, but he didn’t.
Releasing me from his imperial grip, Daddy closed the door to his quarters and sighed. He took out a cigar (I was waiting for it to come out, a usual scene from long ago, I swear!) and he offered me one from his pocket.
“I don’t smoke,” I said with little confidence, shaking as Daddy told me to calm down and sit in the chair next to his cot. He even took the chair opposite of it and stared at me.
“You should, it’s good for you.” Daddy lit the cigar, taking a drag and flicking the ashes to the ground, getting to the point quickly. “Jeanette, I’ve been wanting to talk to you for years, but I don’t know how to really.”
“Because you’ve wanted me dead for years?” I asked with a blast of anger, but then covered my mouth with my hands. I was shocked I sassed my father like that, and knew that doing so would have had me whipped, so was almost crying with fear and shame when he just laughed at the reply.
“See, Jeanette? You’ve more like me than you think,” Daddy took another drag from his cigar and blew the smoke he inhaled in my direction. “Look at yourself, Jeanette. You and Dean have achieved a lot from the time you’ve become shaking adults to now. I’ve watched you both from afar and I wanted to say…how proud I am of you. You’ve done a lot more than your older brothers – how many there are of them – and maintained a semi-sane life in the meantime.”
“Not when I was working with Colonel Flagg,” I mentioned, almost forgetting that this was my father and that he would not care otherwise. I covered my mouth again, looking shocked that I dared to talk out of turn again (even to talk of events long past), and especially something I keep secret.
Daddy waved his hand and ignored my reaction, coughing on his next inhale of the cigar. I wanted to rub his back, to make it stop, but I knew better and waited for him to talk.
“That jackass?” he asked when his coughing stopped. “The ‘Wind’ is moving with each war, Jeanette. He just used you for his own means. You were his tool in Germany: you thought you had the control, especially when you had your cronies doing your own work and getting killed on your plans, but he was there, watching you and taking notes and making sure that you made a slip and he could trap you in it. And when you were going to be sent here, they all said it was a joke, you were no spy, but the Soviets knew otherwise.” Daddy spit on the ground. “If they find you, they’re going to kill you, Jeanette. You played the spy for far too long and know too much. This is why you were sent here: to stay out of trouble before the Soviets found you. You have no security clearance to go back to the United States again. And sneaking in wasn’t a good idea.”
I covered my ears, not believing what I was hearing.
“But they were following orders from Flagg,” I protested weakly as my ears remained covered. “I sent them to do what they had to do and the Soviets caught them. It wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t go out there. They knew me. And I can’t shoot. I can’t kill. I’m a nurse, not a spy.”
“Deny it all you want, Jeanette,” Daddy continued, smiling a grin I had not seen since I was a child. “The plans were something you and Flagg were working on and it worked, to an extent. Then, the Soviets found the little spies of yours and killed them, one by one, torturing them before death became their only mercy. They don’t tolerate the U.S. sending people in to look in and say, ‘Mind if we step in and topple your government?’ Jeanette, you were sent, as a tool, to overthrow the Soviet government with Flagg. Admit it.”
I lowered my hands from my ears and stared at him, suddenly crying. A tear started to make a stream down my face, but then, soon enough, more came.
“You’ve been a soft one, haven’t you?” Daddy put his cigar out on the floor – ignoring the mess it made – and scooted his chair over to me. He put my chin in his large hand, just as Hawkeye did, and bore his eyes into mine again. “War will toughen you, Jeanette. Don’t you ever forget about it ever. You may be a nurse, never agreeing with the concept of the form of protection called guns, but you were also a spy. You hurt a lot of people working for the U.S. government and Uncle Sam. And I can’t protect you from that. You’ve made your own enemies. It’s your own choice whether or not you want to face them and fight them, starting with the one person who put you into this to begin with.”
I shook my head, trying to get out of his grip and to forget that what he was saying was the truth. I even stopped crying to show him that I was the boss. I didn’t want him controlling my life anymore and telling me which side to be on. I was my own person. He didn’t need to tell me how life was. I knew it already.
However, I was still in his grip, dammit, and I wanted out of it. I squirmed harder to get out.
“Daughter, stop that. You’re mine right now and not Captain Pierce’s. This time is ours, as I wanted it. Appreciate it right now because I might never be this compassionate and kind to you ever again.”
“You never were,” I replied with spite, almost spitting his face (the temptation was great). “You treated us with the most disrespect I had ever seen a parent do to a child.”
“I was never the best father, Jeanette, but at least you learned early enough that the world is never fair, even to those who deserve it.” Daddy’s grey eyes turned darker, almost black, and it frightened me for a second. “You were young when your mother left me and you traveled too much for my taste, so much that I could not see you and get to know you as a child. But, I know you more than you think, even without seeing you. You want to settle down and have a family. Every girl wants that. You wanted that with your boyfriend lover of yours in Berlin there. What’s his name again?”
“Falk, you mean,” I whispered, forgetting the light of my life in Germany, a man that lit my fire like Hawkeye did, but died in the line of duty, if I must call it that. He was my falcon, indeed, and a space in my heart was still there for him.
“You were engaged, if I remember correctly. And then he happened to die on that mission, the one you and Flagg orchestrated and sat back looking in on. Then, you were shipped here, before the Soviets got you, too.” Daddy let go of me, pushing his chair back a foot. “He seemed to be the love of your life before this Captain Pierce came into your life. And the two seemed to be the same: jokesters, not Regular Army, whatever. Falk didn’t like to be in the West Germany Army and make a joke out of it. But then he looked at you, when you two were assigned together, and everything fell into place.”
“Hawkeye was not like that at all!” I exclaimed. “I met him in Henry’s office and not on some parade with his grandfather!”
“But he’s too alike to Falk, isn’t he?” Daddy asked, looking at my face, still wet from crying moments before, and nodding when he looked deep inside my eyes and saw the truth of the matter. “It’s what I thought. Jeanette, be careful. Your own passion will be your downfall.”
He stood up. “Leave me. I’m off to Munsan early in the morning. This might be the last time I see you, Daughter, so remember this as the time I will be the most sympathetic to you and your causes.”
I finally got the courage to spit on his feet, showing him how I felt about him when I was not in fear.
“It’s just as I thought,” Daddy said again, walking over to the door and opening it for me, motioning at me to get out. “I’ll talk to Henry Blake when I have the chance to, if he and that nurse are not together in his tent. Now, Jeanette, get out of here. Get out of here before I change my mind about the nicer things I said to you tonight.”
“I’ll go with pleasure, Sir,” I announced, as if to the world wanted to know my opinion of him still. I got up from my chair and went out the door, proud, but somehow, touched by his words.
Did Daddy mean everything he said? I know he has his connections and knows where the hell I am most of the time. But, is he right? Am I a walking target? Will the enemy look for me and kill me for what I did to them for three years, despite them not knowing my real name or seeing an actual face? Do they know that I am here and not in Germany? Most importantly…will Colonel Flagg rat me out?
I walked back to the nurses’ tent quietly (despite the noises I heard otherwise), thinking about my poor Falk. I had not thought about him since the beginning of the last Christmas season, our last together. A few days later (more towards the New Years’ holiday, I should say), the mission to infiltrate the ultimate central power of the Soviet Union – Moscow, the capital – had begun, where I learned that Falk was killed, a bullet to his head. The leader, of course, had to go first, and he volunteered to go first for the firing squad…or so I was told by Flagg later on.
I finally reached my quarters, but I was not keen on going in. I was too upset about what Daddy had said, despite the few hours I had with Hawkeye. It was a bittersweet night indeed.
I only had hours in my hands – small time, really – before my Post-Op duty. I wanted to sleep because of this, to think about the words that were said, but I could not feel anything resembling sleep as I stood at the door: without opening it, without even thinking of the consequences of my own actions. Jesus, the words said to me by Daddy…God, was it all true? I never dared to defy him often, but when I did, it meant horrible things were coming. And I did know that someday, they would come. What was next, then?
I looked up the sky, another tear sliding down my face. Oh, Falk, what would you have done in my place? What should I do for myself now, now that Daddy has played his hand and showed me everything he’s known about me? I know that I need to talk to Henry about this, of course, and tell him everything but what is always secret, things that I even told Hawkeye the first night we really talked to each other. My falcon…oh, my falcon, what can I do? Should I be truthful or give him another attitude? I don’t know anymore. Help me…
The stars winked at me in their usual reply, making me cry once more, thinking of promises made and wishes that were supposed to come true.
Falk, forgive me about Hawkeye. I love him as I loved you. He’s just like you almost, like…no, as if someone sent him to me. Did you? Was this to help me with the grief I felt at your passing less than a year ago? Oh, my falcon, tell me something! Please, tell me anything you can!
I could not take it anymore. I went inside the tent finally, letting in the cold air, and quietly went to bed, still crying as I laid my head down on the pillow.