I looked at a clock at the opposite wall, wondering when things were going to end and what the decision of this “trial” will be. Klinger sat next to me at a table, also waiting for the results of this, only happy that he was away from the unit and in the capital city with me (taken back from our military, but soon to be occupied again if we’re not careful, so I’ve heard) while those who mattered the most to me were left behind.
Klinger alone was able to stay with me in the room (nobody else was allowed in the building with me, even though Hawkeye, Trapper and Henry came with us in the end and are outside with the jeep in their best suits), his yellow dress changed into an actual formal Army uniform because he was threatened with a court martial if he didn’t change, it being an official Army “trial” and all.
I had never seen Klinger in a male uniform before, so tried my hardest to keep from laughing the whole time I was in this “trial” so far. This was a serious situation and it needed a straight face. However, him wearing a formal Army uniform was actually hilarious…and making Klinger itch, for sure.
If only Frank Burns could see this moment…
“How long is this going to take, Captain?” Klinger then asked me, sighing and tugging at brown collar, clearly wishing that he wasn’t wearing it and was back in a dress: the most comfortable clothes around here for him.
“I don’t know, Klinger,” I replied, then looking at the door where the men – General Clayton and some of his aides – left (we were to wait for their return and then hear the verdict). “We had the evidence before them and there shouldn’t be anything against me, no reason that I shouldn’t leave Korea. I’m sorry you had to hear about my disgraceful deeds in Germany, the only thing on paperwork that seems too surreal. I can only thank God that Radar helped find the paperwork against Simmons and such. I didn’t keep my copies. I’m not a very organized person, I’m afraid.”
“I can tell, Captain. I can see that already.” Klinger blew out some frustrated air and began gathering the paperwork Radar copied for us before they were lost…again (well, it WAS my fault I lost my copies, since I wasn’t quite watching them in my footlocker). “But, what will happen to you? You’re bound to go home, like you said. And if not, what’s next?”
I laughed nervously, deciding to tell him everything. “I don’t think so, Klinger. I hold too many secrets from the Army, like you’ve noticed. I don’t think I can have security clearance to go into the United States ever again. Sadly, this is why I’m here and you’re with me. And I’m sorry about the uniform. I know how much you love the new yellow dress. It actually matches your coloring in a way, I must say. If you put some make-up on, in a light blown shade, and then put on some more elegant earrings – silver and not gold – I think you’ll look fine. The gold seems to make the dress a little more…glittery. It’s too flashy.”
A Section Eight shined in Klinger’s eyes, ideas forming in his mind once more. “I thank you for the suggestions, Sir. Next time, I’ll be sure to follow them.”
I was about to reply back to Klinger when the door opened, bringing back General Clayton and his two aides. Hearing, “Ten, hut!” from one of the aides made Klinger and I stand up in respect, hoping for the best verdict there was, whatever it was.
His aides then sitting down at the opposite table from us, General Clayton taking his place in the middle, standing and smiling. “Gentlemen, remain standing for a few minutes. Corporal Klinger, you are dismissed to Colonel Blake, so return outside and you can have your…dress and shoes back. Next time, though, wear your dress uniform to functions such as this.”
As Klinger, my only comfort for the time I was in H.Q., left me with my paperwork under his arms, General Clayton ordered his M.P.’s to close the door and lock it, then looking at me severely. “Captain, I need not remind you that this is a serious matter that I took upon myself, instead of someone more severe, because I personally like your unit and what it stands for. I’m doing a special favor to your Commanding Officer and, since you’re like a child to him, I will be as fair as possible.”
I gulped, ignoring the rising vomit in my throat, and listened to one of the aides talk of my actions, like they were crimes against the Army. “Captain Jeanette Morrison, R.A. 28491374, you are accused of behavior unbecoming in an officer of the United States Army, but, seeing the evidence before this court, you are absorbed of your crime. Your accusations against one Major Daniel Simmons, now in Leavenworth Prison under the name of the civilian Jacob Zimmerman, are proven to be true according to witnesses from the 4077th M*A*S*H and from doctors from the unit, namely Captains John Francis Xavier McIntyre and Benjamin Franklin Pierce.”
“Not to mention, Captain,” General Clayton continued after the aide ended, “you have placed the United States Army in a headlock. This is a serious issue, much more so than you think. You were a spy, under the name of Iréne Mountebain, in West Germany after the last war before coming to Korea. You are wanted by the Soviet Union and, if they catch you, you are bound to be executed as a spy. However,” he added when he saw my horrified face at the mention of an execution, “we’re bound to protect one of our own. We cannot allow you back to the United States until after the hostilities are over here in Korea. That has been agreed upon by everybody here, officials, Generals and others alike, if that can be the case. We also cannot send you to a remote location, alone and with secrets that could be forced out of you if someone was to find you.”
General Clayton finally sat down at his seat and flipped through the papers his aides brought in, continuing. “It is the decision of this court hearing to bring you and the evidence of this case to Colonel Flagg, your former Commanding Officer when you were in West Germany. As part of the C.I.A., he will be able to decide whether or not you can remain in Korea, as we’ve decided, or work in another hospital safely, until your child is born. Dismissed!”
I saluted the General (he saluted back half-heartedly, paying more attention to his aides), my heart beating faster and faster, nervous and tense. The news was better than I expected, but it was still not to my taste.
Colonel Flagg is now a part of my problems once more. Nice…very NICE job you did, Jeanie. And now, for the finale: can I get out of Korea soon? Will I be able to actually get a decent job away from everything abnormal and have an ordinary life for once? I don’t think so.
God, any chance I get, I am aborting this child. I can’t afford to have one at a time like this, knowing that I’ll be too sentimental, too clingy, too attached…and lose it again. Jesus, people are going to disagree with me, but I don’t care. I WANT my life! This is my body and I WILL do as I wish with it.
The M.P.’s outside the door finally unlocked the entranceway as General Clayton and his aides exited, allowing me my own escape from this little hellhole called H.Q. As the three men turned right to go to the Officers’ Club (it was opening up especially for General Clayton), I turned left, heading out of H.Q. Seoul, wishing that the verdict was different and a decision more solid.
I didn’t want Colonel Flagg to get into this business of mine. He didn’t belong in my life here anymore. He was part of another, more sinister phase of my life, one that I thought was behind me. He shouldn’t BE bothering me anymore!
As soon as I left the building to go to the jeep (hearing planes overhead, heading north, as the next offensive was on its way), there was Henry, Hawkeye and Trapper, running to me (how strange to see the three in their best formal uniforms!) and asking me a million questions a minute as we walked back to the vehicle. The jeep was just around the corner, in the parking area, where Klinger stood, waiting in his yellow dress and heels, his brown formal uniform in a bundle on the hood of the jeep.
I’m betting Klinger’s going to be running it over a few good times before we leave.
I held my arms in the air, trying to silence everyone. I didn’t want them to know of my distress just yet, but to say my peace and go back to camp. “Come on, everybody, quiet down! Do you want to hear anything or what?!”
Henry and Hawkeye shut up, but Trapper had to ask for the fourth time, “What happened in there, Jeanie? Klinger was dismissed and couldn’t tell us anything. He didn’t hear anything –”
“That was because most of what they wanted to say were state secrets best kept secret and away from ears it’s not meant for,” Henry replied for me.
I wanted to laugh, but didn’t because Henry was serious and meant well. However, the situation at hand was more serious than even he imagined.
“They didn’t know what to do with me,” I finally confessed quickly, stopping suddenly, my emotions bubbling outside for the first time since I left the building.
Henry, Hawkeye and Trapper stopped with me, confused.
“What, Jeanie?” Hawkeye asked, his eyes full of tears (I swear his blue eyes were turning a little red). “They don’t know what to do with you? There’s no decision yet?”
“Jeanie…?” Henry looked just as disturbed as the others. He played with the sleeves on his formal uniform, looking down and avoiding my glance. He didn’t know what to do, I guessed.
“Oh, Henry, I don’t know! I don’t know. I don’t know what to do anymore!”
And, like the child I used to be, I threw myself into his arms, startling him, and cried, Hawkeye and Trapper looking on and then walking away awkwardly, telling Klinger to get ready to leave when I was good and ready. They knew that I needed to be alone for a few minutes with Henry, to have some parental protection for those precious seconds I had to be a child and cry my heart out.
For a few minutes, I felt safe and secure, as if Henry could help me again, but it wasn’t for long. I knew that reality was bound to kick in sometime and I had to deal with it. Henry couldn’t keep helping me and giving me the world on a silver platter. I had to earn my own place in the world.
And while I thought, for the ten years that I had been on my own, that I had my own control, that moment proved to me something: I barely had my own life in my hands. I was a puppet for something else to play with.