Chapter 11 - Disaster
"Sorry I'm late," said Hawkeye as he kissed Margaret. "I hope this peace offering helps." He handed her a dozen long stemmed red roses.
"Thank you! It's not too late...it's only six. We can make it to the restaurant by seven thirty," she said.
"I don't know about the dancing tonight," he said, "I'm really bushed. We had a string of non-critical emergencies this afternoon. My last patient was a three year old boy who lodged a dried pea in his ear," he laughed at the memory of it. "I had a helluva time getting it out."
Margaret laughed as she imagined her own son or daughter doing something silly like that one day. She couldn't wait to see the look on Hawkeye's face when she told him he was going to be a daddy.
"We can take my car and I'll drive," offered Margaret. "I took a nap this afternoon so I feel fresh and alert."
"You took a nap? What time did you get home?"
"Eleven...um Doris said that we were overstaffed so she said I could leave early," said Margaret, not wanting to answer any more questions and possibly spoil her surprise.
"Are you sure you remember where the café is?" asked Hawkeye as Margaret drove down the busy streets of Boston.
"I think it's just around the corner from here," she said as she waited for the light to change. "Now don't you be a backseat driver, Pierce."
The light turned green and Margaret started to go through the intersection.
"Margaret look out!"
The last thing Margaret heard before she blacked out was her own scream.
"Dr. McIntyre to the ER STAT!"
Dr. John McIntyre was the ER doctor and surgical resident on duty that night. It had been a fairly quiet night. He was at his desk filling out reports and heard the sirens before the announcement came.
He ran into the ER and was met by the nurse who said, "Looks like a bad one, doctor. The accident involved three cars. We've got a man and woman in bad shape. The woman was driving. She pulled out into the intersection and a speeding car ran the red light and hit the driver's side, which knocked the car into the path of oncoming traffic from the other direction. A second car hit them on the passenger's side. The speeder that crashed into them kept going. The driver of the third car was dead on arrival."
"Okay," said Dr. McIntyre. "Let's take a look."
"Doctor? Are you all right? Doctor?" the nurse saw a look of shock on his face as he looked at the man on the gurney. He was unconscious and his face was badly bruised and obscured by a bleeding head wound but nonetheless John McIntyre knew that face.
"Hawkeye?" He whispered. To the nurse he said, "Start a unit of whole blood here. We need to get him stable."
"We have ID on the patients, Doctor. According to his license he is Dr...."
"Benjamin Franklin Pierce," Dr. McIntyre finished the sentence.
"You know him?"
"We served in Korea together in a MASH unit. What about the other person that was with him, the woman, the driver of the car?"
"Her license says 'Margaret Pierce.'"
"Margaret, huh? I knew a Margaret once...they called her Hot Lips. So someone finally nabbed this guy," said McIntyre making conversation mostly to calm himself. "Okay, get some X-rays on these two...now let me see her."
Dr. McIntyre was in for his second shock of the evening as he looked at Hawkeye's wife. "My God! It's Hot Lips Houlihan!" he whispered.
"Excuse me, Doctor?" said the nurse beside him.
"Trapper John? Is that you?" Margaret's voice was barely audible.
He leaned over and said, "Yes, Margaret. It's me...but we'll talk later. You need to save your strength."
"Hurts..." she said.
"Nurse, give her a quarter grain of Morphine and start a unit of whole blood," he said to the nurse.
Two of the nurses thought they recognized the name Pierce.
"Dr. Pierce...isn't he a friend of Dr. Winchester?"
" I think you're right. I think he's still here. He should probably be notified."
"Dr. Winchester to the ER STAT!"
Why on earth would he be called to ER? Charles wondered. It must be important.
Charles wasn't prepared for the scene that was about to meet him in the ER. Nurse Martin met him at the elevator.
As he was stepping off the elevator, two patients were wheeled past him, coming from X-Ray. He recognized the blonde woman immediately. Charles's head began to swim at the horrible realization of who these patients were.
"Good Lord! Margaret!"
"Charles," she said weakly. "My baby...save my baby..." She drifted off.
Baby? That would explain her seemingly poor health of late, he thought. But there wasn't time to think of that now. He saw Hawkeye next. He winced and looked away. His friend was barely recognizable.
Charles followed them back into the emergency room.
"We have the x-rays, Dr. McIntyre," said a young nurse.
"Good work, Nurse O'Hara...we can discuss this later in my office over cocktails. Okay lets take a look," said Trapper
Charles joined John McIntyre to read the x-rays.
"Oh dear God," said Charles as he looked at Margaret's x-ray. "Crushed pelvis...look, Dr. McIntyre...do you see what I see..?"
"It's a fetus! I'd say about twelve weeks."
"There's no way to save it...poor dear Margaret.. I hate to do this to her but I don't know anyway around it. Dr. Pierce?"
Dr. McIntyre turned and looked at Charles with surprise at "poor dear Margaret."
Obviously things had changed since he'd known Margaret. Margaret Pierce? He really wanted to know the story behind that! He returned his attention back to the x-rays.
"Looks like a skull fracture and a ruptured spleen. He's lost a lot of blood," said Dr. McIntyre looking at Hawkeye's x-rays. "How do you know these people?" he asked.
"Served with them in Korea," said Charles. "Do you know them?"
"Yeah, served with them in Korea."
"McIntyre? Ah yes, you must be the infamous Trapper John. According to Pierce you were quite the scamp."
"Guilty as charged."
"Okay...Trapper...lets get to work on saving their lives, shall we?"
Daniel jumped when he heard the phone ring. He looked at the clock. It was nine thirty. He wondered who might be calling. He smiled thinking that it might be Hawkeye wanting to share the news that Daniel already knew.
"Hello Dr. Pierce, you have a call from Boston."
"Patch it through, Mary Jo... Hello...Hawkeye?"
"Hello, Dr. Pierce. Charles Winchester here. I would rather not have to make this call," his voice broke.
"Charles, has something happened...is it...?"
"Hawkeye...Margaret...it was a very bad accident..."
"I'll be there as soon as I can."
Daniel hastily packed a few toiletries, knowing that he wouldn't be returning home that night. Before he left he picked up the phone and called Margaret's mother.
Charles and Trapper came out of surgery to find Daniel Pierce in the waiting room. Daniel stood up.
"Charles...how is she...the baby?"
Charles shook his head. "I'm so sorry. There was nothing anyone could have done. Her pelvis was crushed...her female organs were damaged...I had to do a hysterectomy. She also has a broken wrist and some cuts and bruises. She should make a full recovery."
Trapper stepped forward and shook Daniel's hand. He said wearily, "Hello, Dr. Pierce, I'm John McIntyre. I operated on your son. He lost a lot of blood...his spleen was ruptured. I had to remove it. He also has a skull fracture. Be forewarned that when you see him, he looks pretty bad. He went through the window with his head so he's pretty banged up. I won't blow smoke up your shorts, sir. I don't know yet if he's going to pull through. All we can do now is wait."
Daniel sat down and put his head in his hands. "She was going to tell him about the baby tonight over dinner." He looked up and asked, "When can I see them."
"They're both in recovery right now...you can go for a few minutes," said Charles.
Margaret opened her eyes and looked around. She was still not completely out from under the anesthesia.
"Dad," she whispered seeing Daniel beside the bed. "W-what h-happened?"
"You were in an accident, sweetheart."
"Hawkeye...? Is he...?"
"He's fine," Daniel lied, trying to hold back the tears. "You need to rest now."
Daniel had to look away. The nurse gave Margaret a shot of Morphine and she dozed off. Daniel knew there were some rough times ahead.
As much as Trapper had tried to prepare Daniel for his first look at his son, it was still a shock. He hardly recognized him. His head was bandaged and his face was badly bruised and swollen. He had yet to regain consciousness.
Trapper joined Daniel as he stood at Hawkeye's bedside, watching his son for signs of life.
Trapper said, "Y'know I'd always hoped that I'd see Hawk again, but this wasn't exactly the way I pictured it."
Daniel slowly pulled his eyes from Hawkeye and looked at the surgeon and said, "Dr. John McIntyre...I thought that name sounded familiar...as in 'Trapper John' McIntyre...right?"
"Yes Sir, the one and only. I'm pleased to finally meet you. Hawkeye talked about you all the time in Korea. I'm just sorry that we're meeting under these circumstances."
The cab pulled up in front of Boston Mercy Hospital. Rose Houlihan stepped out with suitcase in hand. She swallowed hard as she entered the building.
She'd managed to catch a bus out of Trenton, New Jersey and had been on the bus since midnight. She was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. The past twelve hours had been an emotional roller coaster. Margaret had called at about five last night with the news that she was pregnant. Five hours later Daniel called to tell her that her daughter and son in law had been in a serious accident. He hadn't known any details himself so Rose could only imagine what she would find when she arrived at Boston Mercy.
Rose got off of the elevator and was directed to the surgery waiting room where she found Daniel Pierce. He greeted her with an embrace. She noted that he looked like he'd been up all night. She could tell by the expression on his face that the news wasn't good.
"Are they still in surgery?" She asked.
"No, they're in recovery."
His voice was heavy with fatigue and sadness. Rose could tell that he'd been crying.
"Daniel, how bad are they...?"
"I think I can better answer that question, Mrs. Houlihan," said Charles entering the room. He thought it would be best if he removed the burden of explanation from Daniel. It had been a long night for all of them, particularly Daniel.
Charles took Rose's hand and said, "Let's sit down, shall we?"
"Omygod! She's dead isn't she? I knew that husband of hers was irresponsible...I never trusted..."
Charles saw the look of pain and anger cross the elder Pierce's face.
"Please, Mrs. Houlihan, calm yourself! Margaret is still very much alive," he said as gently as he could. "The accident...they were hit by a drunk driver and...your daughter was driving, not Hawkeye. They were hit initially on the driver's side. The impact was...," Charles groped for the right words. "Margaret...her pelvis was crushed..."
"The baby...?" Rose began.
"The baby was killed on impact. We couldn't have saved it. She was, at the most, twelve weeks along. Margaret's uterus...I-I had to do an emergency hysterectomy.
"We have her heavily sedated. She had numerous contusions and abrasions and a fractured left wrist.... We haven't told her about the baby...so...when you see her...please don't mention it. She's not strong right now...her condition is serious."
Rose sat speechless, trying to mentally digest all that Charles had just told her. She looked over at Daniel who was slumped over in his chair, head in hand. Only then did she remember that there were two accident victims.
"Daniel, I-I'm so sorry.... What I said about your son...about Hawkeye...I had no right...Dr. Winchester, how is Hawkeye?"
"His condition is still critical. Dr. McIntyre, the surgeon who operated, had to remove his spleen and he's suffered a skull fracture as well. There was a third car involved. The force of impact was so great that Margaret's car was thrown into the line of oncoming traffic. Another car crashed into the passenger side. The third driver was killed. In any case, Hawkeye hasn't regained consciousness. Hopefully we'll know more when he does."
"May I see my daughter now?"