"I was and now I'm not. I had to replace two surgeons at the 4077th MASH. Well, not just me; I'm only one. Annie Pierce is two."
"Is she related to one Hawkeye Pierce?"
"Is Hawkeye around?"
"No, sorry. That's one of the surgeons we replaced." She tried to say it carefully, knowing Trapper and Hawkeye had been close, but she couldn't think of a gentle way to say this.
"What do you mean replaced. Like he went home or did he get killed?" Trapper prayed it wasn't what he thought it was. He couldn't take it if Hawkeye had been killed.
"He's--uh--missing in action."
"What! Oh, no--not Hawk."
"Terrible, isn't it? Everyone at camp is taking this hard. It's like a drinking party every night."
"I'm coming over there."
"I'm still in the Army. They didn't discharge me, they just sent me home. I work in a veterans hospital over here."
"Okay, Captain, get your buns over here, then."
"I'm a Major now."
"Cool, I'm the only Captain McIntyre. Bye, Major."
Trapper looked at his good uniform hanging in the closet and remembered how infrequently he'd worn that thing in Korea. He hadn't always worn his whole everyday uniform--he and Hawkeye both had worn their Hawaiian shirts pretty often. He looked around his house and pictured the Swamp. He could still see Hawkeye laying in one of the beds beside him, complete with a hangover. Trapper's hopes about Hawkeye's disappearance weren't any better than those the rest of the people back in Korea had.
"I'm not hungry!" Beej exclaimed as he pushed the food away. He seemed to have forgotten how to laugh. Hawkeye sat up slowly and got out of bed.
"Hey, Ben, will you at least take a wheel chair?" Rag Doll asked. Hawkeye blinked twice as he headed out the door. He limped all the way to the officer's latrine.
Days later a new face came through the doors of the Post-Op. Well, it wasn't really a new face. It was Trapper. Samantha was in the middle of some paperwork when he came in.
"Trapper!" She jumped up as she saw his shinning face. Trapper hugged his sister. Then looked at Hawkeye. He sat down beside him.
"What happened to this guy?"
"No one seems to know. They found him in a foxhole half-dead. But he's doing much better now."
"Hey, buddy." Hey yourself. If I could talk I would, but I can't so I won't.
"He can't talk."
"We'll fix that. I'll play surgeon and you play the anesthesiologist."
They got Nurse Baker. "Careful, his cords are really delicate," Trapper stated. Rag Doll came storming in.
"What right do you have to operate on my patient?" Rag Doll exclaimed.
"As much as you do," Trapper replied.
"This guy is in extreme pain. I just operated four days ago and you tell me that you have a right? He almost didn't survive the last one."
"His pulse is still there."
"Sam, please tell me something, who is this creep? Why is he operating on my patient?"
"He's my brother Trapper."
"Look ma'am, I am sorry...I need a pair of forceps please. Look I'm sorry but I want him to have his voice back, and all it will take is sealing all these leaks. Everyone deserves to speak. What's your name?"
"I just hope they find my buddy."
"You have no idea." When the surgery ended, Hawkeye's pulse was extremely low, but he would probably live, and hopefully get his voice back. Even Rag Doll hoped for this. He would have to rest it for a while
A week and a half passed, and Trapper decided the patient was ready to test out his voice. "Hey you...glad to see you up. Now, I want you to say a few words, but only whisper. Your voice can't be strained quite yet."
"Hawkeye is I," Hawkeye said in a gravelly voice.
"You--you're--this makes sense! He's been missing and you haven't been reported. I bet you--I mean if we took off the bandage, your face wouldn't be as swelled anymore. The blistering should have gone down." Trapper slowly took off the bandages and, sure enough, Trapper could see Hawkeye's features, though they were still slightly redder than usual.
"I missed being called Hawkeye," he said, still in his quiet, scratchy voice.
"Don't say anything else," Trapper told him.
"Please say you haven't dated her."
"Annie? I haven't. But I think everyone else has. Sammy says she even kissed Ferret Face. Rags says that he isn't that bad, but Sammy agrees with us."
Rag Doll came in and saw Hawkeye lying there without his bandages. "Hawkeye! You're my Ben. This whole time you've been lying there, and I've been feeding you and everything, and you were you the whole time! I've missed you so much." Rag Doll leaned over and squeezed the living daylights out of Hawkeye. He was in pain and didn't like it too much, but hey, he loved his cousin, whether she liked Frank or not.
Hawkeye looked over at BJ. BJ had gotten his eyesight back after a long surgery. He was in tears. "I thought you were--"
"No." Hawkeye shook his head.
"I'm just so happy to know it's you."
In a month, everyone laughed and smiled. In a month Hawkeye had full use of his voice. He told many stories. One in which he wanted to tell more than anything was about Henry. But he had to keep Henry a secret. A friend from long ago that he'd always treasure.
There was a sudden blare of music over the PA. Some soft classical music followed by the voice of a brown haired crazy woman. "There are many stories to be told. But none like ‘the young and the brainless," Samantha's voice narrated.
"Oh boy, what's this?" Trapper asked, awaiting what was to come.
"Oh, Frank! Those two are so--"
"It's okay, Margaret. I'm here." If they'd looked out the window, they'd have seen Rag Doll and Samantha with two big helium bottles. In Rag Doll's other hand was a tape recorder, which of course was taping.
"Are you sure this will work?" Sam asked Annie in a whisper.
"They were mean. My underwear is still hanging up there." You could even hear that sniffing on the PA. Rag doll knew that tape recorder would come in handy. "Mmm, you smell great, Major. I bet you taste good, too."
"I will hold you forever, Frank. How could I live without you?"
"How could I live without you and your beautiful skin?" Frank squeezed her hard.
"Frank--my bottom--don't want to make it flat," Margaret says through smothered breaths.
"Nibble, nibble; kiss, kiss. The many sounds of the major monkeys as they mate so willingly," Rag doll stated.
"I am Margaret Houllihan, I love Frank burns when he eats worms," Rag doll impersonates Margaret's voice.
"Oh Maggie, I didn't think of that bimbo Rag doll for a minute," Hawkeye mimics Franks voice.
"Life together, with her out of the way."
"We can be free."
Of course Margaret walks in and pulls the plug on their charade. But it was funny while it lasted.
It was time for Trapper to go home, but before he left, there was something Trapper John just had to do. "Hawkeye, I--I never had the chance to say good-bye before, so I'm doing it now. I'll miss you more than anyone else here."
"Likewise, Trap, likewise." And with that Trapper headed to the chopper. He would not be seen by any of them for a very long time. Hawkeye would miss his other best friend, but there would always be room for him at the four-year reunion that Hawkeye would plan after the war. But that is another story entirely.