Chapter 15 - Catching up with Trapper
"So how's the patient this morning?" asked Trapper as he walked into Hawkeye's room and looked at his chart.
"You is de one wit de chart," said Hawkeye with a smile. "I is only de lowly patient."
"I see you're going home tomorrow," said Trapper.
"So have you come to get your last bit of poking and prodding in before I leave?"
"Nah...actually this is my day off... I don't usually work on Sundays."
"So that's what today is? The days have all run together. How long have we been here?"
"You came here Friday, the 26th of November and it's now Sunday, the 12th of December. You do the Math. Considering you were near death when you got here I'd say that's not too long. I'm really pleased with your progress. It's a tribute, no doubt, to the skill of your surgeon."
Trapper hadn't had much time to do any catching up with Hawkeye. Business in the ER was booming these days and most of his contact with Hawk had been as in doctor patient. He really wanted to find out what had happened in the three years since he'd left Korea that led up to Hawkeye and 'Hot Lips' becoming Mr. and Mrs. Pierce.
"I doff my chapeau to you, Surgeon McIntyre. What do I owe you in return for my life?" asked Hawkeye and then added bitterly, "I can't give you my firstborn because there will never be one."
Hawkeye would have to admit that there was still resentment on his part toward the other man. He'd left without leaving a note and never wrote after he left. BJ, on the other hand had stubbornly kept in touch ever since they'd been stateside.
"So tell me, Hawk, how in the world did you end up marrying Hot Lips Houlihan? How did Frank Burns take it?"
"Frank is ancient history. She dumped him not too long after you left for a jerk lieutenant colonel named Donald Penobscott, a real prince of a guy. He cheated on her from day one."
"Well as I recall, Hot Lips came by her name honestly. You mean to tell me she didn't cheat on him?"
"The funny thing about Margaret that I've come to appreciate is that where marriage is involved she's completely monogamous. She was devoted to Donald from the moment he slipped that dime store engagement ring on her finger." Hawkeye laughed at the memory. "Frank went completely bananas after the wedding."
"So how did you and she become Mister and Missus? That's the one that boggles my mind."
"After her divorce from Lt. Colonel Tukhus Shmear, she started changing. It's hard to explain...and I'm not even sure what precipitated a lot of the changes. She became more accessible...more honest. She and I started talking more...we actually became friends."
Hawkeye purposely left out the story of the night he'd spent with Margaret in the abandoned hut on the way to the 8063rd. He knew Trapper well enough to know that he'd have some snide comments and he just wasn't in the mood for it.
"Towards the end of the war I had some...problems...I suffered a breakdown and Margaret stood by me. I saw some things over there that will be with me forever. She was someone I could talk to...and I don't know... somewhere along the line we went from being friends to something more. I couldn't tell you the exact moment it happened. I'm happy that it did. We got married this past April. She's an amazing woman, Trap. And now it's my turn to stand by her."
Trapper sat quietly listening. He was astonished at the story and at the changes in his former bunkmate. He seemed more subdued. But then with what he'd been through in Korea and now the accident, the change was understandable.
"Okay, it's my turn," said Hawkeye. "What the hell happened to you?"
"Hey," Trapper said in his defense. "I left you a message with Radar."
Hawkeye laughed at the memory of the kiss Radar gave him in the shower and how upset the younger man was about 'delivering the message.'
"Y'know we tried to get a message to you in Tokyo."
"Okay, that explains why you didn't say goodbye or leave a note but you don't get off the hook that easy. You knew the address. You could have written once you got home."
"I suppose I could have. But my homecoming wasn't such an easy one. Remember the time I thought I was going home with an ulcer and Henry said that before I knew it I'd be home sleeping on the couch because I started talking in my sleep?"
"Yeah? No, you don't mean..."
"Yeah...only Louise didn't just make me sleep on the couch. She flat kicked me out. It seems that it was more than my talking in my sleep. One of my 'lady friends' called the house before I got back. Louise hit the roof and I wasn't back two days when she confronted me. What could I say?"
Hawkeye fell silent for a moment as he thought about his love for Margaret. He couldn't see himself with another woman for any reason. Being with Trapper was like seeing himself in the mirror three years ago and he didn't like what he saw.
"I haven't seen my daughters for a couple of years. Louise has complete custody and she won't let me see them. I guess I can't say that I blame her. At first it was hard and I drank a lot...I mean a lot. And then, once I dried out, I threw myself into my work. I got this job here as an ER surgeon. It's a lot like the meatball surgery we did in Korea only there's time to cross the 't's' and dot the 'i's'. If you know what I mean."
"Yeah I do. I'm chief trauma resident at Portland General."
"I hope that explains why I didn't write after I got home. I'm really sorry Hawk. I never meant to hurt you. You were the reason I made it out of that upholstered toilet with any degree of sanity."
Hawkeye smiled and said, "No charge."
"Another thing that boggles my mind," said Trapper, "is that you're friends with Charles Emerson 'Windbag' the Third. That man is a piece of work."
"Yeah, I thought the same thing. Charles took Frank's place after he went bonkers. He's a damn good surgeon and has the ego to match. But there's another side to the man that he keeps well hidden. Well, you know the old saying about war making strange bedfellows. Once I started seeing through the chinks in his armor I saw that there was someone worth knowing. He's an ace in the practical joke department, too."
"You're joshin' me...Winchester?!!"
"Would I lie to you? Actually Charles came up to Crabapple Cove last year and we struck up a friendship. Have you met his fiancÚ?"
"No why? Should I?"
"Actually you've already met her. She's a nurse at this hospital."
"Hawk, it's a big hospital."
"I'll give you a hint," said Hawkeye with a grin. He put his hand on his cheek and said, "Aaah Bach!"
They both exploded with laughter. Trapper wheezed, "You're kidding, right? You're not kidding!"