"Hi there. I'm Doctor Burns. Do you know where you are?" Yeah, in fact I do. I'm in Korea, stupid. In a hospital where nobody knows I'm me. Come on, Frank! Look at my eyes. Look at them. I have been your roommate for over a year. You've seen my face all too often. I know I've gotten sick of seeing yours. The patient thought. The patient reached up to find his dog tags. They weren't there. But how can they be gone? He had them on when he was on the way up to go save the . . . oh, no! The bullet. It finally hit him.
"Frank!" someone screamed. The patient knew this voice was all too familiar. BJ!
"Shut up, Hunnicutt!"
"Frank, my chest. I--"
"One more word out of you and I'll nail your feet to the floor. Or something much worse than that mister! Clam up! Kellye, go get some morphine from the supply room for the captain while I see how far Colonel Potter is on that surgery."
"Yes, Doctor." The nurse left the room.
Suddenly BJ started gasping for air, holding his chest. As you have guessed by now, John Doe was Hawkeye. Hawkeye leaped out of bed and grabbed a chest tube kit. Damn it, BJ! Don't die on me, not now! I need you! Hawkeye thought to himself. Hawkeye's whole body hurt.
He put on the gloves and started to insert the tube into BJ's throat. As Hawkeye made the incision, he noticed his hands bleeding on the inside of the gloves. He must've ripped his stitches. Hawkeye put the tube in and attached it to the machine. BJ would be okay. Colonel Potter came in. Hawkeye straightened and turned. Then, suddenly, he fainted.
"Margaret!" Potter yelled.
When Frank came back in the room, he found Colonel Potter stitching up Hawkeye's hands again. Frank looked at BJ, who was currently breathing on a machine. "What happened here?" Frank asked.
"I don't know, Private Burns. Nurse Kellye told me BJ was complaining about his chest earlier."
Frank looked at Nurse Kellye. "Snitch!"
"Is this true, Burns?"
"Well, uh . . . yes, but I sent her for morphine . . ."
"Did you check him for any signs of a collapsed lung?" Frank shook his head no.
"What happened to John Doe?"
"If you would've been in here you would've known. When you're on duty, you are supposed to take care of the patients. All of them! At all times! Got it?" Having finished his lecture, he moved on. "Radar!" Radar was already walking into the room.
"Don't worry, sir. I've already ordered you two replacement surgeons. I don't know if this is coincidence or not, but they're sending us an A.N. Pierce and an S.L. McIntyre."
"They'll do fine. I hope this Pierce is even half as good as the other. McIntyre?"
"BJ replaced a McIntyre just before you replaced Colonel Blake."
"Oh yeah, I'd forgotten that. I hope Hawkeye's okay."
A man came into post-op with two boxes in his hands. It was the medic from the aid station. The Major asked to see the Colonel in private. In the office, he handed over the boxes and a pair of dog tags. Colonel Potter came back in crying. Tears had never come to the Colonel's eyes before this. He'd always seemed to be a strong man.
"What is it, Colonel?" Margaret asked. Hawkeye woke up once again; he looked over at BJ.
"These are the penicillin boxes that Hawkeye risked his life for."
"Kellye go see to those last couple of boys who haven't gotten it. Thanks to Hawkeye, they'll make it. Anyway, if they had to wait until the shipment comes next week, they wouldn't have. One more day would have been too much. What happened to my boy anyway?" The medic didn't say anything. Kellye took the penicillin out.
Hawkeye sighed in relief. He'd been in time. Just in time. Then Potter pulled Margaret aside. He spoke quietly, but Hawkeye could still hear. "These are Hawkeye's dog tags. You see that five star General lying there?" Please don't think what I think you're thinking--I'm not dead. Hawkeye thought
"Yeah . . ."
"Hawkeye pushed him out of the way and took on a big artillery burst. It ended off with a shell, and not a little one. They haven't seen him since, but they found the dog tags." Hawkeye began violently to shake his head no, though it hurt him intensely to do it.
"What's with John Doe?"
"I don't know, but listen here, John Doe, you're going to hurt yourself that way." I know it hurts, I know! But I'm not dead, Hawkeye thought to himself. Everyone was staring at Hawkeye. He tried to speak, but he still couldn't because of the shrapnel damage to his throat.
BJ was beginning to wake up. "Margaret, toss me a pad and pencil from the desk. My throat hurts a lot," BJ whispered softly. Margaret brought him the paper and he handed it to BJ.
"What is it, BJ? What happened?" Colonel Potter sat a little bit closer to BJ.
BJ began to write. It seemed he was always communicating through alternate means. I think my lung collapsed, he wrote.I tried to call Frank over to fix it, but he didn't listen. I couldn't breathe. All of a sudden this guy comes up to me and touches my forehead. His hands were bandaged. I didn't know what was going on. He put an ear on my chest and then he ran, I think. I could really hear or see him. He cut me open and gave me a chest tube, I think.
"Did he speak?"
He didn't say a word.
Hawkeye was worried. Would BJ be okay? Colonel Potter slumped over a bit, as he was about to tell BJ about Hawkeye. "Umm--BJ, I don't know exactly how to say this."
"It's about Hawkeye."
He made it! I knew he would Hawkeye's the toughest doctor we got. He'd never give up.
I made it, BJ. How can I tell the Colonel that? How can I tell you? I wish I knew what you were telling the Colonel. Hawkeye thought to himself.
Colonel Potter looked at BJ. "He's been declared missing in action."
What? No! Hawkeye can't be missing!
"We found his dog tags--there were big artillery bursts up at the front when Hawkeye went to save that General laying three beds away from you. The only problem with him is a mild concussion."
BJ sagged back against the pillows. He was crying, though no one could see. He can't! Thought Hawkeye. He can't believe it! There's no way I can be dead. Don't believe him, Beej. Don't believe him.
Painfully, slowly, BJ pulled himself up. He began, ever so slowly, to write the words which pained him, as they seemed to admit that Hawkeye was gone. He was the best friend I ever had.
"I know." Hawkeye looked at the two. He wanted to speak out. He wanted to tell them he was there. Suddenly the door swung open, which drove the attention away from the current situation. It even moved Hawkeye's attention. Two women stood there, and they were in their best uniforms what are those two doing at the door? Especially that left one . . . Hawkeye thought to himself.
"Which one of you is Colonel Potter?" one of the ladies asked. Hawkeye knew that voice all too well.
"That would be me. Are you nurses? I sent for doctors."
"That's us. Girl doctors happen, you know. We've been sent to you from Tokyo. I'm Captain Pierce and this is Captain McIntyre." Colonel Potter shook their hands.
"Welcome to the 4077th MASH Unit."
Hawkeye's thoughts were kept to himself. Welcome to the pit, Rag Doll. You're going to regret replacing us.
"What are your first names? We're not exactly formal around here."
"I'm Samantha and this is Annie," said the other doctor. "You can call me Rag Doll," the one called Annie said. She was the one on the left. "I got the nickname from my cousin Hawkeye."
"You know our Hawkeye?"
"Well, yeah, I mean, he is my cousin. I heard that he's at this unit." Colonel Potter nodded and sighed. He was still heartbroken over those dog tags. "Can I see him?" she asked. Sherman shook his head no. How could he tell the Rag Doll that her cousin was missing in action? He tried to be gentle.
"Well, Rag Doll, umm--Hawkeye's kind of--not here. It's him you're replacing. He's officially missing in action as of today." He turned away, not wanting to see her face. Life had to move on. He had to command a hospital unit. "Radar!" he called. Radar raced into the room. He looked at Colonel Potter's sad face--it was still red from tears, and more threatened to fall.
"Sir, I know we were expecting male officers, but I have an idea. We could move Major Houllihan into the swamp and move Major Burns into Major Houllihan's tent." The Colonel nodded his head.
After only two hours of getting settled in, the two lady doctors were in the OR along with Colonel Potter and Frank Burns. "Can you give me a little suction in here? I can't see a thing. So, Frank, how does it feel not to have Hawkeye bothering you and Hot Lips?" Rag Doll asked.
"Well it's great. We certainly--wait a minute. Pierce, Major Houllihan and I are only friends."
"That's what they all say, ‘Major.' My brother Trapper told me all about you. Are you trying to tell me that you two lovely officers aren't still joined at the mouth? I don't think so pal. I mean, uh, Major Pal," Sam added cheerfully. "Can I have some 3.0 silk, please? This is my seventh patient, Colonel. Does it ever stop?"
"Not in here. They tell me this will be a light day, though. Just another thirty-seven hour ‘light day' and I think they're saying it never ends."
"Ah the mess of it all...over here we have Carl with wounds on top of wounds. His face is young therefore he must be a baby."
"I suppose he is." The gang spent only twelve long hours in surgery that day. Rag Doll and Sam were in the mood for play, despite the carnage they had just seen. "Hey, Rags, how do you think Hot Lips approaches Frank?"
"You really want to know?"
"Sure, I'm in need of some good humor."
"I think it'll be months before they send that truck around," Frank said, throwing off his cap and beginning to undress. He got into his uniform pants.
"Show me," Sam whispered.