Hawkeye, Radar and I walked to Henry’s office slowly nonstop (the blanket by the landmines abandoned for the time being), only stopping at the doors before the office when hearing military double-talk from Flagg and Henry, going back and forth at each other for a while. Out of habit, Radar and I went to the doors and listened from one side of the doors each, Hawkeye backing away. He could hear the conversation from where he was standing (the phone) and could easily be innocent of all charges of eavesdropping. Radar and I, on the other hand, could be sent to latrine duty (even I!) if we were caught.
“Colonel, I don’t see why I have to leave my own office.” Henry seemed to be on the verge of protesting whatever they were talking about vigorously, but was pointing out the obvious calmly enough. “Captain Morrison is not a risk to security and does not need to be alone with a C.I.A. officer. She needs her Commanding Officer with her when she is spoken to and not have her own butt handed to her by some –”
“Colonel, hold your tongue.” The familiar, deep and sneaky voice of Colonel Flagg filled my ears, making me want to run my fist into a wall (he pissed me enough the last time I saw him, hence the feeling). “Captain Jeanette Morrison is a serious issue to our national security and can be a danger to the civilians of the United States of America if she is captured by the Communists Reds. Besides, the C.I.A. does not care for outside support for one their own. They can handle their own by themselves.”
“They don’t even like support from their own people, even if they were handling you, their best,” Hawkeye commented sarcastically as he played with the P.A. system and the phone, about to turn the P.A. system on and reveal the conversation in the office. Radar gave him a warning look and it stopped him, but soon enough, the Swamp Rat was playing again.
“Shh!” I hissed, trying to hear the rest of the conversation and whether or not I should just drop in or not, surprising my former Commanding Officer.
“Really, Sir?” Radar moved from his position at the door and looked to Hawkeye.
“I said to shush up!” I repeated, exasperated.
“Radar! Bring Captain Morrison in here!” Henry must have known that Radar was back from trying to find me.
Radar got up from his position from the door, shrugged his shoulders in indifference at me (it annoyed me a little), and escorted me inside the office, Hawkeye following hotly behind us. Hell, I don’t think that he was going to be intimidated by Colonel Flagg (unlike Radar) and told not to be there for me. Indeed, I think Hawkeye would have loved to play with him, especially when it involved Frank and his files…like last time he was around (which I thankfully missed, being at Sister Theresa’s Orphanage, but Hawkeye told me all about it).
Henry, upon seeing the two with me, got up from his desk. “Pierce, Radar, this is a private matter and one of national security. We must leave the Colonel to his, umm, work and let him work on what he needs to work on.”
I would have laughed at Henry had this not been a serious matter.
“Pierce…Pierce…” Flagg, I saw, was sitting in a seat before Henry’s seat, trying to remember something about Hawkeye, as if he didn’t see him last time he was around the camp. “Oh, yes, Benjamin Franklin Pierce, Captain, U.S. 12836419.”
“Been digging around into my friends’ files, I see.”
This was my greeting to the man who sent me here, the man who didn’t care that my Falk was sent to his death and would not hesitate to send Hawkeye to his, if it came down to it. I was, as always, fuming about Flagg’s usual nosy behavior, which was good for a C.I.A. officer and master spy, but not for everything else.
God, I wanted to kill Flagg, strangle him right where he sat, but I knew he was stronger than I am and could easily kill me, just by bashing my head repeatedly into the nearest wall. Besides that, Flagg also had a gun at his belt, within easy reach if he didn’t want to make the effort to make a messy Jeanie. He wouldn’t hesitate to use it against me, despite it being a hospital and there being a rule against weapons inside the building.
I continued, regardless. “Colonel Flagg, it’s a pleasure to see you again, although I am extremely regretful it’s under some…strange circumstances.” I then saluted at him somewhat halfheartedly, knowing that my efforts would go unappreciated in any way.
Flagg stood up. “Captain Morrison, might I remind you –”
“It’s best for you all to get out of here.” I interrupted Flagg for a reason, knowing that he could get downright dirty and cruel when he wanted to be, not having his way and all. “Henry, I’ll meet you up in your tent later to talk to you about this. Hawkeye, Radar…you two, I’ll talk to later as well. I’ll be there in the Swamp after I have my conversation with Henry.”
I remained adamant about my decisions, pushing out the people I loved most in the world so that I could deal with “The Wind” by myself. I didn’t want them in the office and have to defend me when I can stand up alone. They didn’t need to deal with Flagg and his antics.
“Jeanie, I don’t want you to –” Henry began as he walked around the desk.
“Get out of here, Henry, while you can,” I growled back at him, becoming angry fast. “It’s the best thing you can do right now. Hawkeye, you too, and take Radar with you. I’ll talk with you all of you later, when I’m finished with Colonel Flagg here.”
“Crazy in Army, you are,” Hawkeye commented, smiling and then walking out with Radar, who was bound to be eavesdropping at the door still.
Hawkeye and Radar both took this defeat well. Henry, on the other hand, took a few more seconds to persuade me that he needed to be with me with Colonel Flagg questioned me. That fatherly feeling in his just didn’t go away and that always took precedence over rationality and reason.
“Henry, just go,” I said, with some finality in my voice, as if I was washing my hands of him. “I don’t need to tell you again and neither does Colonel Flagg.”
“I’ll take up your offer,” Henry only replied, also fuming. “I’ll be in my tent. Leslie might be there, so be prepared for some competition for attention.”
“She better be out before I get there or else Lorraine is getting a surprise letter,” I retorted quite hotly, always throwing the blackmail in his face because of how tired I was of him cheating on Lorraine. “I don’t think, with another child on the way, that she’d also like to deal with heartache and possibly a divorce in the mix.”
Henry looked dumbfounded, but it was temporary. “You wouldn’t dare!” he yelled right back after that second of shock.
“Then let it be done,” I replied through clenched teeth, angry enough that Flagg was around and my fate was hanging on a thing thread: a silly little thread easily cut by Flagg if he so chose to, one that could never be tied back together again.
The face that Henry gave me in reply – still irate about my pregnancy and then being kicked out of something he thinks that he should be a part of – made me shudder, despite what I knew to be right. Henry was easy to blackmail though. I didn’t appreciate him going behind Lorraine’s back no matter what, but at the same time, it gave me some leverage when I needed things to go my way (God, he even went for that girl, Nancy Sue I think her name was, and she was younger than I was!). However, it got him to leave, hopefully letting him cool down so that I didn’t have to argue loudly with him later on.
Flagg was pleased when we were alone and that I still had the power of persuasion in my hands, although it was empty promises and threats I usually threw and that I wouldn’t anything I would actually do. Then, quickly making sure that nobody was in Radar’s space outside (even the Company Clerk had hidden, I knew, and going to eavesdrop when he had the chance), Flagg sat in Henry’s desk chair, motioning for me to sit as well.
“You were never one for relaxing, were you?” he asked me.
“No, Sir, and you knew it. I was always on the ball and alert.” I sat down in the opposite chair.
“You also knew how to get your own way,” Flagg continued to muse out loud, ignoring my uncomfortable state (my back started to ache) and my comments. “However, I don’t think you can get out of this one yet, Iréne. This is going to be tough.”
“It is Captain Jeanette Morrison here and you know it, Colonel.” My anger soon (quite quickly) turned to irritation, which pleased me in some way. It was an improvement in my mood…in a way.
“Whatever the name may be, I don’t care. What I care about is the safety and security of this man’s Army and of the officials, citizens, politicians, etc., of this United States of America. This visit will be short, Iréne, before I make my disappearance again. My decision is clear and there seems to be no other way. It’s final.”
Flagg paused and then said no more, making me tap my foot in impatience. But, even that motion was making my body throb. My mind’s thoughts even continued to buzz with irritation.
“Then what’s your decision, Colonel Flagg? You might as well flaunt your power before me and tell me my fate. Hell, you’ve pretty much taken away everything I’ve ever loved the last time we’ve met. And your ‘promise’ to send me to England kinda went to a brick wall before we both knew it, as if you’ve planned to send me here to Korea all along. Here I am. So, now what? What are you doing to do now?”
“That little German soldier had nothing and was nothing,” Flagg replied to me, angry. “I made sure he didn’t come back because he was thorn in my side and was always battling against my side. He was against me and you knew it! And you didn’t tell me about it!”
“I didn’t even know, Colonel,” I said somewhat truthfully (I might have had an idea, but I was being as truthful as I could be), scratching my head. “This isn’t about Falk though. This is about me, about my baby, and what you’re going to do with me about it. What is it going to be: home, someplace else, Korea or death? It goes in either direction, Colonel, and you have the power to make anything happen for me. So, are you gonna send me to a bigger hell?”
I was surprised to be talking about my child in such a manner and I think Hawkeye rubbed off of me. But, all of a sudden, I didn’t want to lose the baby and wanted to keep it, whatever the cost to me and my life. And I didn’t care if I was put someplace remotely, just as long as the baby was safe.
“I would like to put a bullet in that little forehead of yours, just like they did to your German soldier, but I think your father and Henry Blake would kill me next.” Flagg smiled a mystery kind of grin that never frightened me like it did to most, but made me want to punch him in the face. “General Clayton liked the idea that you were to stay in Korea until the end of the war, and if I decided it, then that would be it. And I do. You are too dangerous elsewhere, Iréne, and I can’t afford to lose someone like you in the United States or be putting you in someplace where nobody can see you, but can easily figure out where you are.”
My jaw dropped and I felt like I myself was punched in the stomach. The decision to keep me in Korea hit me harder than I thought it was going to.
“You can’t be serious, Colonel!” I gasped, trying to catch oxygen that was not there, to somehow make my lungs work, but to no avail.
“I am serious, Iréne, and I could never be more,” Flagg replied, suddenly having an interest in the papers on Henry’s desk and visibly reading them.
“Stop calling me that!” I put my hands to my ears again, trying to call back his attention, but not really wanting to hear his voice ever again.
“You can’t erase the past, Captain,” Flagg finally amended as he continued to read through the supply requests, reports and other papers of interest. “You are also too dangerous to be let loose in the United States or anywhere else and can easily be watched and under our thumb if you’re here in Korea. But, until the Army knows that you’re safe and following the American way of life, they can probably let you live there again. But you will be watched for the rest of your life. You cannot be trusted ever again.”
“I don’t care!” I yelled as I put my hands down, acting the child save for holding in air and passing out from the lack of it. “I want to go home someplace, Colonel! I can’t be here! It’s dangerous enough here for me. I am putting the ones I love in bigger danger. Let me go home!”
“If you had one to go to.” Flagg suddenly locked his eyes into mine, searching for something (I could not tell what yet). “As I understand it, your mother is not pleased with you.”
“You’ve been reading my mail again, haven’t you?” I sighed.
Flagg waved his hand in indifference. “What matters the most if the security of those important and small in this great country called the United States of America. I don’t know if you’re a Communist Red, Iréne, but if I find out that you are one of the gorillas, your little head will sport a red spot right…in…the…middle.”
I gulped. “You don’t scare me.”
“And you don’t do the same to me.” Flagg shook his head, as if to clear it of something, and continued. “You’re dismissed. And as far as I am concerned, this conversation never happened.”
“As ever, Sir,” I smiled, knowing the usual routine, getting up and heading for the door quickly.
“Oh, and once more thing, Iréne,” Flagg called to me.
As I turned around, I saw that Flagg was gone, but I heard a voice behind me, that sneaky bastard running past me (I saw the shadow, his usual escape). “Leave this country before the end of the war and you’ll be dead. Try to communicate with the enemy and you’ll be dead. Try to do anything behind my back and you’ll be dead. So, I think you’d better sit tight and stay here.”
And then Flagg was gone, out of the door and outside.
I sighed as I watched Flagg walk out of the camp, oblivious to all.
Damn him! Damn him and his decisions! Damn this Army and everything in it! I’m staying here, in danger, and oh, my God. What about my baby?! It’s not meant to be here. I’m not meant to be here. God, what have I done to myself?! What have I done to my baby?!
I finally slumped my body against the filing cabinet next to the door, studying pictures that little Molly had made for Henry. I lost myself in them, a fantasy world of paper and crayons. They seemed so much safer than reality, a reality that I was not ready to deal with nor accept to its fullest.
But one question boggled my mind as I looked to them for comfort: What am I going to do?