A few days later, I found myself going to Radar’s space, thinking once more about my pitiful situation, and staring at the typewriter on the desk (Majors Burns and Houlihan finally put it back). After over forty hours in O.R. and taking orders from Major Houlihan once more (barking at me to work with Major Burns and finally, shutting me up after I said some smartass comment back, with Hawkeye and Trapper laughing behind their masks), I was tired. And I couldn’t sleep. The nurses were already in Post-Op, at the Mess Tent or in their own tents: sleeping, having coffee, taking a shift or flirting with the doctors.
I already had my shift; it had been over for an hour. I could technically claim the right to sleep for an hour or so, but I didn’t want to (or go back to the nurses’ tent) for many reasons. For one, I didn’t want to deal with the other nurses and the noise they make if not sleeping, if you know what I mean. Another was that I had wanted to solve a problem and I was about to…if I could find the words to express myself.
How was I going to tell Henry about my problems? I could tell him about my adventures before coming here to Korea, but then again…does he have time to even comprehend the most horrendous of it all? Would he even listen? I didn’t know. I didn’t even know if he’d bother to read this memo either. I was bad about writing and typing and had not bothered with lessons on how to type properly, even in the Army. I could carefully craft letters, but I was not a writer or anything like that. It was not my forte, but Dean’s. He could write and write and never stop to breathe. His hand would never cramp up with pain, like mine usually did. No, he was good, writing poetry and stories to forget the pain and then crumbling them up and burning it in the fire, forgetting it. I never learned.
I sighed, thinking of words to say to my commanding officer, and cracked my knuckles (another new habit of mine, since my lip was already having more holes than the Front Lines). I then started typing, making it all military-like, and then thought better of it. Wouldn’t Major Houlihan be so proud of me if I did? I think not. She would not care, either way. And in any case, Henry wasn’t the military type of guy. He went to medical and commanding school and that’s about it. And how he went to commanding school, I would never know, since he can’t even command his own body.
Commanding Officer, Lt. Colonel Henry Blake
From: Nurse, Captain Jeanette Morrison
September 12, 1950, 1100 Hours
Memo: Concerning Camp Activities and Such Other Things
Since I can’t get your attention and/or have not the time to talk to you, as more pressing matters come in the form of Majors Houlihan and Burns (or things around the camp, as you’ve pointed out), I might as well amuse you and type this out. At this point in time, this Captain’s hand has been tired out via over forty hours of surgery and another seven at Post-Op. Sleep has been eluded for quite some time now and my patience at typing this is pretty damned thin. And you probably know that.
Anyhow…I wanted to talk to you about my time in this damned hell of a camp so far. I’ll be honest. Other than being frightened about being three miles from the Front Lines (amongst other things), I’m frightened for my sanity, if there was any to begin with. You think these people here are swell and nice, and they are. You think they do their jobs well and make this place a success, and they do. But in front of me, I see nothing more than ignorance and compassion of each other and a total case of the blues here. I guess it’s my fault, really.
I have always been sneered at and oftentimes alone here. And I think the latter is my fault, but at the same time, I thought that this place, I could at least confine in someone. I didn’t expect that it would be you and Radar (at times, especially at the Mess Tent, when he’s eating all that food), though. Henry, you’d think that I was a doorknob here. Just the other day (well, the other week, but still!), you slammed the door in my face without a single thought. And there’s more going on than you just slamming a wooden door in my face…like everybody else does.
The nurses go through my footlocker like it’s their business to. They read my letters all the time (gossiping about my mother and her instructions) and laugh behind their hands when I get into trouble with Major Houlihan. And the Head Nurse is so Regular Army that I’m afraid that she won’t be able to relax, the rod is so far up her you-know-what. Even with Major Frank Burns around, I don’t think anything will improve.
Oh, did I tell you, Henry, that our Head Nurse ALSO gives me the creeps? Major Houlihan is Regular Army all right, but at the same time, she makes it so that she WON’T be liked by anyone BUT Major Burns. And I don’t wanna go there, because that’s just…a little more than wrong right now.
Do I do the same thing? I mean, I’ve been in the Army since I was eighteen years old (their nursing school, really) and got a notice to serve my country from my previous assignment to come to this cocktail party (although, I am wondering whether or not the North Koreans and Chinese prefer white or red wine). I’m not even twenty-eight years old yet. We’re all getting too old here already. Parties tire people out, you know?
Am I too Regular Army as well? Is this what has been driving the nurses to treat me this way? I don’t know what I did and I am willing to amend it, except in the case where it changes who I am and my principles and morals, as you know. I’m not a religious person or anything (thanks to Mom), but seriously, I have my own set of values and morals. It’s not like I’m a little heathen Communist, like my mother used to call me all the time. Dammit, Henry! What can I do?
I reread what I wrote and smiled. It’s true and he knows it. But will Henry read it and help? I don’t think so, but it helps me to let it all out. I preferred to talk to someone, though. I was a better talker than a writer. Dean does the same (talk more than write, I mean) except he’s way more social than I am and he can fit into any situation with ease without making other people uncomfortable (and I’ve always envied him for it!). I’m usually known as his clumsy, younger sister who sits in the corner and only reads or smiles and laughs. But at the same time, I can be perfectly fine when Dean is there to talk things over or when I was with the one I loved the most, the one now gone from me…
Then again, I shouldn’t be comparing myself with my older brother. Sure, he’s the only one I interact with (all of our stepbrothers, on both sides – five on Mom’s and seven on Dad’s – don’t talk to us and most are over in Europe anyhow), but I need to outlet more to somebody.
I took up my typing again, blowing the wet ink on the first page I took out. This time, I started putting an urgent note into it, the second page being a little more personal.
I was thinking, Henry, that this camp needs a break sometime. Sure, it’s good with the pranks, but (and I am not taking sides or favoring people or anything) I think Majors Burns and Houlihan should have a break once in a while, even if it was some camp event. Also, I want to meet everyone. All I do is work all day and feel sorry for myself. I want to feel like I’m having fun once in a while. Or, at least counter your order. Let me know Captains Pierce and McIntyre. They sound so interesting and so far, have kept me saner with their antics, jokes and pranks. I know you’re being WAY too fatherly and making sure the two don’t do anything stupid to me or something, but I want you to know that I need to stand on my own two feet. I need to explore by myself. And that’s an issue. Parents need to let GO!
I don’t think I’d understand, since I’m no parent and have no inclinations of becoming one. I’m not a motherly figure and have no maternal feelings (with me now remembering how your mother gave me a doll for Christmas and I hacked the head off with disgust!). But when I feel like I’m being smothered and told who to see and who not to see, I feel controlled. I am TIRED of being controlled. Why do you think I left my mother’s house? Why do you think I chose a career that would keep me far, far away from there and keep me super busy as well? I KNOW you don’t see my often because of it except when Lorraine lets me in once in a while, but I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t live with you and Lorraine and the girls all the time. You wouldn’t move out of that house and because of it, the trouble would come over every time I’m over, like always. You had your own family to think about. Where would I fit in? Well, nowhere, pretty much, I’d say.
But, there’s always a way and that way isn’t always clear. My mother used to say that to me all the time. But then again, why am I quoting my own mother, the same one who scorned me and wished me dead because I was a girl? I don’t know, but it seems to me that she was right, in this sense (I’ll admit it, because sometimes the people you don’t get along with have some good things to say for once). There’s always a way out of things and sometimes, the solution isn’t always in sight or there’s an obstacle ahead of the path. All we have to do is think more clearly and/or move aside, to reassess the problem, and finally jump over the hurdles. This is why I’m suggesting some of these things.
Please, think about what I’ve written, Henry. I want you to know how I feel and also, what I think can be done for these wonderful people we work with, since you think them as such. I want to know them all and figure out why most of them hate me so much and disrespect me. I don’t want to walk through a war alone and without a friend out there, save for you and Radar.
Love, your “Genie”
I smiled, remembering how Henry used to spell out my name (which made Lorraine laugh so hard once that she choked on the apple she was eating). It might soften him and make him recall the good times, because I’m sure the note will make him mad in some form or another. And, as commanding officer, I’m sure he’s more concerned over everything else, but morale. However, I can remind him of it and more.
I took the last page out of the typewriter, waiting for the ink to dry. When it was, after a few minutes, I blew on them both for good measure, crossed my fingers and went into Henry’s empty office, placing the incriminating documents upon his desk. It’s on top, so I’m hoping he reads it soon, if Radar will let him.