I sat in Henry’s office, waiting for him to return from his Post-Op duty with Leslie Dish (a nurse that he went fishing with…amongst other things). He told me to stay there and wait for him the night before, saying that he was finally ready to talk to me about things unsaid. I mean, we didn’t have the chance to talk yet, but it was coming and we both knew it. I also knew that I had to admit to an affair with Hawkeye (and somehow make Henry forgive him and me for it) and what I did in West Germany. I had to say something about it.
I also knew that Daddy must have talked with him about what we said a couple of nights before and warned Henry about some things (what they were, I could not say, but Radar did mention it). However, I had to explain myself and what I had done instead of letting him talk. It was time. Henry deserved the truth about everything: to repair a relationship that should have been, should not have to falter.
It must have been an hour, at the very least. I looked at my wrist watch, whistling a tune Hawkeye taught me in O.R. the day before (with Frank whining about it and Margaret asking Henry to make us shut up). Then, I looked at Henry’s cabinet, filled with booze and cigars, all locked up. I was tempted to ask Radar for the key (I knew that he had a copy because he went after the same things we all do sometimes) when Henry walked in, obviously depressed. He was still in white scrubs, covered in blood, so I assumed the worst had happened to one of his patients in Post-Op.
Henry, I –” I started as I stood up.
“He’s gone.” That was all he said, interrupting me. It was all he needed to say.
“Oh, Henry, I’m so sorry…”
When Henry sat down – ignoring all else around him, even Radar coming in and out to pick up and drop off paperwork – I did as well, looking at me and trying to see what was behind his eyes, what could be hidden behind those shades of blue. He wouldn’t let me through and into to his soul, though. He knew that if he did, I would know what anguish he held and how much pain he felt and I knew that he didn’t want that.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked finally, after what seemed to be an eternity of silence, after it seemed like my apology fell on some empty ears.
Henry looked up at me finally. “No, Jeanie, honey,” he replied quietly. “We’re here to talk about each other, not what’s going on in this camp. Not yet. We’ll get there in time.”
In time…in time for what? It was like Henry wanted to put off the inevitable and what needed to be done, but I knew that he always will come to find it somehow. Like our conversation about the past, why I left him and Lorraine in search of my own life, this will take years to talk about. Maybe, though, we never will get to it. It’ll be forever a silent conversation, knowing what we did, but never talking about it. War seemed to make everybody like that, it be damned to hell!
I sighed. “Let me start, then,” I said, worried, sighing again. “Henry, I…I know that you’re angry with me and in many ways, Hawkeye. I have a feeling that you’ve been intentionally avoiding me so that you could see me fall on my own face again and see how it feels, which is fine, I guess. I don’t know why, I really don’t, but when I first arrived here, we should have talked some of this out. I was too involved in finding my place here that I also avoided what was more important to me: my own family and where we’re supposed to be with each other.”
I wanted to cry, but I forced my eyes to remain dry and to keep their grey color. “Henry, I ran away from you and everything else ten years ago because I could not take it anymore. You were married to Lorraine then. You wanted a family of your own, so there was Janie and Molly, who I saw when I crashed at your house when I visited. But, in the beginning, I was eighteen years old, without a real home of my own, and my own mother was planning on throwing me out in the streets and telling everyone that I was a whore. What would have happened if I went to live with you?”
Henry shook his head, not wanting to talk to me (I could see it), much less answer any question about my mother. But we organized this conversation to happen at this time. He was going to hear it out, even if he didn’t talk.
“Henry, I went out into the world the best way I could. I moved to Boston, took four years of nursing in the military, missed the last war by the skin of my ass, and was assigned to an Army hospital in D.C. Then…t-then, they assigned me to West Germany very late in 1946, although my official records say something else, two years later than that, I think. About New Years’ of 1947, they sent me to Germany to spy on the Soviets, under a different name. I-I didn’t have time to say goodbye to anyone and I felt pretty lousy about it. A-a-and I’m so sorry about it. I missed Molly’s birthday and everything, when I promised to fly out and see everybody because I’ve been out and about all the damned time, being told where to go and what to do. But duty called to me and I was going to ask about some personal time. I had a job to do, though. I accepted it and moved on, forgetting about everything else.
“Goddammit, Henry, West Germany was beautiful, even in the wintertime. And the company I had around me was nice. I was away from everything I knew and was finally finding my footing somewhere. I felt like I was finally free. I mean, I was playing an actress and meeting people I never thought I would. Like, I met this elderly Jewish man who would spend time with me, even knowing how liberal I was and how I didn’t really believe in religion or anything like that. In finding that I was trustworthy and a good listener, he would carefully tell me about his time in a concentration camp, praying and hoping for his end to come from the pain and torture, but his God told him otherwise and let him live. His wife and daughter died there, Henry, and he was devastated from the losses. His only living relation was his grandson, Falk, who stayed with him at the concentration camp when all the others had died.
“Falk was a lovely man to behold. He was tall, about six foot and four inches, and had the blondest hair and bluest eyes. He looked every inch a German, or some Aryan race, they said it was all about and barely spoken of. But, even though his father was German and his mother was a Jew, he was condemned to a camp with his grandparents and mother, since his father was already dead. Afterward, he joined the West Germany militia, of some sort, and would joke about it, like Hawkeye does. He was a prankster too. He randomly called for my attention when he put some sort of slippery substance out of the parade grounds one day, and laughed as everyone fell, even though it was an organized parade. That was when I met him, when his grandfather smiled and pointed him out to me. Our eyes met and the rest, they said, was history.
“Falk’s grandfather introduced me to him a few minutes later and we hit it off nicely. We talked about everything and nothing, laughed until we cried and even had sex the same night we met. God, Henry, he was everything I could ask for in a person, especially in someone I fell in love with. He made me want to confine in him, so I told him everything and eventually, would want to see him every night, despite my job. But, when we became partners in the spying ring that we were forced to be in, suddenly, things got tricky, for the both of us.
“I can’t tell you everything, Henry, but I can s-s-say…how much I loved Falk. He was the perfect companion for me then, even when we were working together and having to be professionals at the art. I worried for him every time he went out. And he went out because I was too high-ranking to go, according to my superiors. I hated guns. I was a nurse and not a killer, so opted not to run out and kill some Russians for information. I liked being the actress, though, and played it well enough then. Now, I don’t think so. I lost most of those skills as I went to my next assignment: Korea. I even lost my name when I was over there, Iréne Mountebain.
“When Falk’s grandfather died, our relationship turned another page and we grieved together and grew closer. We wanted to be married soon after that, so got engaged immediately after the funeral. It was tasteless, of course, because of how close it was to the death of his grandfather, but I don’t know if Falk cared or not because he wanted me and me alone: the last member of his family with the one he cared about the most. That was late in 1949, about a month before our last assignment, so I think it was late October or early November. Colonel Flagg, who was sadly my superior, wanted me out of Germany and transferred to England, if possible, because I was getting pretty hot in Germany. Otherwise, he wanted me to be the nurse and for me to use my real name once more. He had another pawn in mind, apparently.”
I stopped my speech and then watched as Henry rose from his seat and went to unlock his cabinet, bringing out two small glasses and pouring gin into it. The alcohol winked at me – telling me, nay, daring me to drown it – and held the solution to all of our problems: forgetting them, if only for a while.
“Go on, Jeanie,” Henry replied to all of this, still depressed, his face finally paling: the white body, garbed in red. He offered me the other glass, downing his own quickly.
I got up and took the other glass, gulping it as well before putting it carefully back on Henry’s desk. I needed the bravery to tell Henry the story of Bloomington to Boston to D.C. to West Germany to Korea. This was going to help me, sadly enough.
I sighed once more. “So, Henry…Falk was going to Moscow, Soviet Union Russia, on a mission with my minions and Flagg’s, as well. Flagg and I made a plan, mostly mine really, but he didn’t tell me what it was all about, but only that they all had to get to Moscow and to infiltrate the government in some fashion. Like everything else, I did my duties and assignments without question and without asking what it was for because I thought it was best that way: I didn’t want to know how and why. Flagg liked me for it, so continued to work with me until the end.
“Falk, my falcon in the sky, volunteered to be the leader and was granted his wish practically immediately. However, his other request was that it be after the Christmas holidays, so he could spend time with me, and that was granted too. He was hoping to leave me with a child, so just in…i-i-in case he never came back, I would have something of him to remember him by or it could be a surprise he could come back to. But it never came to be, obviously, angry as I was that he was going and worse when he didn’t come back.
“I think Falk knew what was going on, chose not to tell me about it, and went with the mission anyhow. It was his duty and I knew it. He would not have it any other way, I think. He was like that: thinking of himself last. And the one time he thought of himself, it cost him a lot more than what he could handle.
“On the morning of December 29, 1949, after a lovely holiday with my Falk – a few days in which I would never forget – he left with the others, to go to Moscow. After this departure, I paced our small apartment every single day, waiting for word from him, like he said he was going to do, to make me stop worrying. But days flew by and no word was sent, not even to Colonel Flagg, and I knew this because I spied on him myself and he knew that as well.
“Well, Henry, late in January, I found out the truth of the matter: the mission was a failure and Falk was dead. The Soviets caught them, took all ten of the people who were sent to Moscow, and lined them up in the basement of a prison, and shot them. They shot Falk first, so I’ve heard from sources, because he volunteered, and then the others, by a firing squad. And I found this out through Flagg’s paperwork, knowing that he was lying to me about Falk when he called me and told me that everyone was dead and that such-and-such happened.”
I finally broke down, looking at Henry for help, but receiving none as I continued to sob and talk with a mushy voice. “Henry, I spent months there afterward, doing the same things I’ve done before, but my heart was not there anymore and I was losing interest. Falk was dead and gone forever. I could not bring him back, but remember the fondest memories of him, like his last kiss to me, even when I was extremely pissed off at him.” I paused, not wanting to go on, but doing so anyhow. “Flagg, by then, had enough of my bawling and everything else I complained about and had sent me to Korea, where I am now, because he could not get me to England.”
A tear went down Henry’s face, so I knew that he was sympathetic, even when his own soul was slowly bleeding. His heart was slowly melting and his jackassery was coming to a close. A heart of stone turned to a melting one.
“This is why you love Hawkeye?” Henry asked finally, when I could not talk anymore after a few minutes of us grieving together, moments I could cherish forever and ever. “He was so much like Falk and that was what attracted you to him. And you can’t help but fall in love with him, can you?”
“No, I can’t help myself anymore…” I continued to cry, but my sobbing stopped as I tried to breathe like a human being. “I love Hawkeye…no, I’m in love with him. I can’t help myself, Henry. I had to keep my life a secret, and am so used to it, that I became defensive even to the ones I love. I haven’t really told Hawkeye about Falk yet because I’m not ready to quite yet, although I admitted much to him. Maybe later, when I am ready and so is he.”
I hiccupped, a common thing that happens after I sob, but I stopped the next one from coming up (which is pretty tough). “And Hawkeye was helping me stop and to open up. Your best friend was helping me to open up to you, in a way, by getting me more social with everyone. Don’t be angry with Hawkeye anymore, Henry. Instead, be the friend you were to him. And don’t forget Trapper, too. They’re all on your side, despite what they do to wreck havoc in the camp. They want to help you. Those three Majors are not going to have your command anymore and aren’t going to put this M*A*S*H unit to shame.”
“Tied by loss, separated by distance alone,” Henry muttered, who seemed to ignore my words again, but I knew better.
“Grief brings everybody together,” I only replied (without the bitterness and anger), getting up and hugging Henry. His arms were immobile, but it was fine with me. “I love ya, Henry. Don’t forget that.”
It took a few minutes, but Henry slowly worked his arms up and around and finally embraced me back, crying all the while. So, instead of him comforting me, I was doing it for him.
“I love you, too, Jeanie…” was all I managed to understand from Henry’s lips, a quivering mouth that was already telling me more than the tears already coming down. “But he’s gone, he’s gone…he’s gone now.”