I blew out some air from my mouth, frustrated. I had been sitting in the V.I.P. tent for some time (a few hours, I think), conversing with Major Sidney Freedman. A few days after my drunken stupidity at Rosie’s Bar (of which I’ll never hear the end of from Henry, the lectures beginning as soon as I was barely sober in the Swamp to even just before I sat down with Sidney), Henry had ordered me to talk with the Major, so I agreed to do so. I went into his tent after Major Freedman sat with me in the Mess Tent earlier in the day, asking me to join him in his temporary quarters after my lunch was eaten. Of course, I could not object and accepted his offer of “friendship”, knowing that some devious conspiring was in the air.
I was right (naturally), but avoided everything that had to do with my life. I talked in circles for a while and kept quiet other times. Whether it confused the Major, I could not tell. He was a master at controlling his feelings (especially at poker, from what I’ve been told as well) and only wrote a note or two on a notepad when he felt it was appropriate.
Major Freedman was kind to me, as he is with all of his “patients”. Prodding at me to talk about my troubles and doubts that whole time, he tried probing into my mind, finding the root of the problems I seem to have, but found out that my family was just plain crazy, in the most dysfunctional sense. Otherwise, he saw that there was nothing more to it and that the best solution for me was to leave my family behind (save for Dean) and to move on with it. I didn’t need to see them anymore.
“I can’t say that the Army is the best place for you to be right now, considering everything,” he added. “Of course, with holes in your records and only the words of the people who know and love you, I can’t say anything. Captain, you don’t talk to too many people. Only Hawkeye and Henry have been able to get anything out of you and only sometimes. I barely have anything out of you. Why is that? Why talk to a few selected people? Are you too distrustful of everyone here?”
I hesitated, like every other time he’s asked me a question, and sighed, answering as carefully as I could. “Major, you can call me Jeanie, first of all. Secondly, I don’t know the answer to any of your questions without having time to think about it. It’s not like I’ve said the luxury of having that in my life.”
I paused. “I’ve known Henry since the beginning of time, it seems. Well, I was maybe ten when we first met and that was about the last time my mother and stepfather moved us and finally decided to settle down. I don’t remember. And Hawkeye…well, if you hear anything from Dean and Henry, you’ll know the story about Falk and what I was doing, living in the middle of one side of Berlin, West Germany. They…Falk and Hawkeye…are too much alike and I fell in love.”
Major Freedman raised an eyebrow. “You mean, you fell in love with another person with the same characteristics?”
“Yes and no,” I replied, talking more easily than ever more. “It’s not that I imagine Hawkeye as Falk, but that the two seem to be almost the same, like the former love sent me the latter. Well, it’s skeptical, of course. Father Mulcahy can answer that question for me, if I asked.”
I laughed: hollow and bitter, in many ways (mostly at the absurdity of the idea of an afterlife for humanity, briefly remembering the family curse for a second). “Major, we’ve been in circles for three hours now. Why are bothering to talk with me? There’s nothing wrong with me really.”
“I thought I was the one who was supposed to ask questions.” Major Freedman smiled. “You can call me Sidney, if you want. And if you want your answer, why don’t we talk it out? See if you can figure it out.”
“Other than having so many issues in my life and no stable figure, so to speak, I can’t see anything else wrong with me.” I shook my head. “Well, there was Henry and his wife and kids. He wanted a life of his own eventually, so I left the area after I turned eighteen. It’s been over ten years now. I still want him to talk to me like he used to. But, he’s not readily available all the time. And with the war on our doorstep all the damned time, it’s tough to talk to him, especially when he’s upset and we’re working around the clock. There’s a camp to run. And there I am, alone once more, and seeing another person as the ‘love of my life’ again.”
“What else?” Sidney gently prompted.
“Unsolved issues in my life keep popping up, especially with the former Major Simmons, I’ve noticed recently.” I sighed again. “I feel like history is being repeated again, especially seeing as how I acted the same way I did when my stepfather was molesting me and that I was unwillingly cheating on Hawkeye three times and –”
I stopped suddenly and gasped, putting my hands to my mouth. I didn’t realize what I had done until the words poured out of my mouth.
Sidney only looked at me, stoic and not showing any emotion whatsoever. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked me quietly, knowing what I was talking about instantly.
“No,” I whispered. “Don’t tell them…please. I don’t want them to know. I don’t want to be embarrassed anymore. Please don’t! Hawkeye will be devastated. Henry will be disappointed in me again.”
I was pleading at Sidney at that point, so pathetic did I sound. “Don’t tell them, please.”
The Major only continued to stare at me, thinking and not writing anything down, like he did before. Slowly, though, he explained, “I will not. It’ll have to be your decision when to tell Henry and Hawkeye or whoever else you trust. You have to trust yourself to be honest with them and to tell them exactly what happened. However, it has to be when you’re ready, not when they are. They themselves have to be prepared for the worst, since they already have heard what was thought to be the worst of your life.”
Sidney paused, thinking. “Already, Jeanie, you’ve suffered from abuse, rape, molestation, death, disappointment, love, loneliness and even alcoholism. You can’t deny anymore that you’ve had more than your fair share of the negative side of life. However, you’ve braved through it for years and now, you seem to relieve yourself by telling others finally.”
“Yeah, like it helps to make anything better,” I pointed out, recovered enough from my shock as I put my hands back in my lap, acting somewhat like what a lady is supposed to…or so my mother says.
“It seems to,” Sidney agreed. “Just keep at it. It’s helping you obviously and you’re opening up to others you barely know.”
“But that was only to Hawkeye…”
“Who you barely knew from the start,” Sidney finished for me.
Before I could reply (I had a sarcastic remark ready to whip out again), I heard the familiar P.A. announcement, something I had been waiting for: “Attention, all personnel: it’s thirteen hundred hours and lunchtime is over. We have wounded on the compound, coming on the ambulance, chopper, bus and jeep. All shifts are required for this one, on the double! We’re in for a long one!”
I got immediately from my seat, springing into action. “Want to scrub up and help us?” I asked Sidney as he put his paperwork down.
“If I’m needed,” was the answer I received as I ran out without thought (I was switched into a more professional mood) to join the crowds coming in from all sections of the camp.
I caught up with Hawkeye immediately on my way out, helping him with a wounded man at a jeep, whimpering in pain from a wound in the leg (I felt so sorry for him).
“This one can wait,” I heard him say to the medic nearby. “Get him to Pre-Op though. Where’s the damned bus? Jeanie, help the medic here get the Sergeant here into Pre-Op and come meet me at the bus, wherever the hell it is.”
“Sure, Hawkeye,” I replied, all in one word, going for the stretcher as Hawkeye ran in the opposite direction, where the bus was coming in slowly enough, the driver avoiding the ice sheets on the ground.
However, as soon as I turned around to help the medic with the wounded man and take one end of the stretcher, I felt the blood drain from my face. I was very dizzy and nauseous and felt like I wanted to faint dead away (no pun intended). The feeling lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to waste time and precious lives. And I didn’t need it.
“Captain, are you all right over there?”
The medic must have seen what happened and was making sure I wasn’t turning chicken on him by the large amount of blood within my sight. I, however, didn’t want him to see my short period of weakness. We had a job to do. I had to be strong for everybody, myself included.
“Yes, Sir,” I replied back to the medic at the jeep, the feeling of sickness rushing out as quickly as it came to me. “Let’s get this man into Pre-Op and let Major Houlihan look him over.”