Chapter 17 - Happy New Year 1955
"Come on, Margaret, start packing."
"I told you, I don't want to go. I'm not in the mood for a party," she said.
She sat looking out the bedroom window holding the teddy bear that she'd bought for her baby. It was two o'clock in the afternoon on the 30th and Margaret was still in her robe. She hadn't put on makeup or combed her hair since Christmas.
"Look, Margaret. This could be a good thing. It will be a change of scenery. Sidney's invited us to come down for New Year's Eve. I think it will do you good to get out. Why don't you pack that black strapless number you wore to Charles and Louise's engagement party? Hubba hubba!"
Margaret glared up at him.
"Fine," he said. He threw her suitcase on the bed and opened it. "I'll start packing for you."
Hawkeye went to the closet and started taking her clothes off the hangers and throwing them in the suitcase.
She stood and grabbed a garment away from him. "What do you think you're doing, Pierce? Are you crazy?"
"Yes, I think I am crazy. I'm on my way to insane and you're helping me get there. You're going with me to New York, Margaret," Hawkeye said raising his voice with every word. "We're going to Sidney Freedman's and we're going to have a great time, dammit!!!"
She glared at him for a moment and without warning she slapped his face. He stood in stunned silence for a moment. Then quietly, he opened the door.
"I'm going for a walk," he said softly. "When I get back your bag had better be packed. Our plane leaves at five o'clock." The door slammed behind him.
"Dr. and Mrs. B.F. Pierce. You will be in room 1015 on the 10th floor. We hope you'll enjoy your stay here," said the clerk at the hotel desk.
Hawkeye looked around at the hotel lobby. It was a grand hotel. Sidney had offered to have them stay at his home but Hawkeye had turned him down.
"I don't think so Sidney," he'd said. "I don't think it would be good for Margaret to be around your children."
"I understand how you feel, Hawkeye," Sidney replied. "But you can't hide all the babies in the world. One day she's going to have to face it and move on."
"I know, Sidney, just not today, okay? I don't want to push her. As it is she doesn't sleep, she doesn't eat, she doesn't talk..."
"Sounds like you're the one being pushed, Hawkeye. But this is long distance so how about we talk about this some more when you get here."
"Nice room," said Hawkeye looking around their hotel room. "Margaret, look at the view from here! Hey, maybe while we're here we should go up in the Empire State Building. I've heard the view from there is something to behold."
"The front desk clerk mentioned that it was closed because of the cold weather," said Margaret.
"Okay, so we won't go to the Empire State Building. How about we get some sleep. We're meeting Rivka and Sidney for breakfast in the morning."
Hawkeye noted as they unpacked that Margaret had brought the teddy bear with her. She'd hardly put it down since she'd found it upon their return from the hospital.
"So are you having a party at your home, Sidney?" asked Hawkeye. "I don't think I've ever seen where you live."
"Actually we thought we'd take you to dinner and to a night club for dancing."
"Sounds like fun, eh Margaret?" smiled Hawkeye.
Margaret nodded and drank her coffee, "Whatever you say...dear."
"This is one of our favorite places to come for breakfast," said Rivka, who was bouncing baby Jeffrey on one knee and trying to keep an eye on three year old Aaron at the same time. She was doing her best to keep the kids quiet around Margaret. It was such a tragedy, Rivka thought. She wondered how she would hold up under the same set of circumstances.
Before anyone saw him coming, Aaron walked to Margaret's chair, patted her and said, "Pretty lady."
"Smart kid," said Hawkeye.
Aaron raised his hands to Margaret and said, "Hold me."
Margaret smiled at the little boy and picked him up. He sat on her lap while she sipped her coffee.
"Margaret," said Sidney. "You really should try some of that omelet. They make the best omelets here I've ever had."
"I'm not hungry, Sidney."
"So I noticed," he said. "You're looking pretty thin, Margaret."
Margaret glared at him, "Sidney I didn't come here to be analyzed so put your couch back in your briefcase."
The rest of the meal continued in uncomfortable silence.
After breakfast the Freedmans took the Pierces on a tour of the city. After that they took the subway to Park Slope, Brooklyn to show them where they lived.
"What a lovely home," said Margaret.
"These old brownstones have a lot of character," said Sidney.
Aaron and Jeff played quietly in the middle of the living room. Jeff was at the stage where he was trying to crawl. He would get up on all fours and rock back and forth and then propel himself forward. Hawkeye had to laugh. "One of these days that boy's going to propel himself into something and knock himself cold."
Hawkeye noticed that Margaret was watching the boys intently. Her hands were clenched and she looked like she could break down at any given moment.
"Sidney, I think we need to get back to the hotel. Do you mind? Margaret's still pretty tired from the trip," said Hawkeye. "We'll see you tonight. I think we can find our way back to the hotel."
"We'll pick you up at seven."
"Margaret, you look stunning!" said Rivka.
Margaret was wearing the black strapless that Hawkeye had requested...no demanded that she wear, she thought with a tinge of resentment. She knew she wasn't being the easiest person to live with lately, but he didn't have the right to demand that she wear something to please him.
Sidney watched Hawkeye and Margaret on the dance floor. He noticed that hardly a word had been exchanged between the two of them for most of the evening. He'd never known Margaret to be so quiet. He noticed also, that she was dangerously thin. Somehow she had to be forced to open up and face things or she was going to die.
How thin Margaret had gotten hadn't escaped Hawkeye's notice either. It was glaringly apparent in her strapless dress. He was sorry now he'd insisted that she wear it.
"Margaret, darling, if you don't start eating, you're going to die. I don't want to lose you," he whispered as they were dancing.
"I-I can't," she said.
"Will you please talk to Sidney while we're here?"
"That's why you brought me here, isn't it. I knew it wasn't a social visit. You creep," she said angrily. She left him standing alone on the dance floor.
The evening seemed to deteriorate from that moment. Margaret refused to dance or talk.
Rivka excused herself, "I need to get to bed, and the babysitter needs to go home."
Sidney followed her to the door, "Rivka, do you need me to come with you?"
She smiled and said, "I think you have someone who needs to talk to you even though she's not ready to admit it. Hawkeye and Margaret need you more than I do right now. You know where to find me."
"You know I love you, Mrs. Freedman."
"Yeah, but don't tell my husband. He's a very jealous man," she grinned and kissed him.
Sidney returned to the table with Hawkeye and Margaret. He noticed that Hawkeye was on his eighth martini.
"So Sidney, how are things in the head shrinking business. Have you had a long line of coo-coos beating a path to your door?" asked Hawkeye loudly.
"Hawkeye," said Sidney. "It's obvious to me that the party's over. Why don't the three of us go back to talk in my office."
"But Sidney, it's New Year's Eve! It's time to party!" said Hawkeye getting louder.
"Come on Hawk, I think you've had enough."
"There's no such thing as enough booze. There might be such a thing as not enough booze. My friend, if you snooze you booze. Or how about you're cruisin' for a boozin'." Hawkeye laughed loudly at his own jokes. "I'm a regular Milton Berle."
Margaret looked at him and rolled her eyes. "You're a regular drunk."
"So nice of you to notice," he said. "You don't seem to notice much of anything these days."
"Stop it," she said. "You're creating a scene."
"Yeah, well, I'm just mad enough and drunk enough that I really don't give a damn. Did you hear that everyone, I don't give a stinking damn any more."
"Hawkeye, let's take this back to the office...please be reasonable," begged Sidney. Hawkeye was drawing a crowd. Sidney sighed. It was clear to him that stopping Hawkeye at this point would be like trying to contain a flash flood in a shot glass.
"Let me tell you something, Mrs. Pierce. I know that losing that baby was hard on you. But you know what ...I lost a child, too. Did you ever once stop to think about that? Huh? No, I don't think you did. So now you're trying to kill yourself so I can lose a wife too. Well that's pretty damn selfish of you! You seem to think you've cornered the market on pain! You know I nearly died in that accident, too. I'm still picking glass out of my head. I have headaches that would kill an elephant. And another thing; I've had your self-pity up to my eyeballs. I'm drowning in your self-pity! Maybe you'd be happier if I had died!"
Hawkeye swallowed the last bit of his martini and smashed the glass on the table in front of Margaret. He pulled her up out of her chair and kissed her hard and then shoved her away.
"Happy New Year, Major Baby!"
Hawkeye turned to look at the crowd that was now gathered around.
"Happy New Year, folks. The show is over, you may now return to your regularly scheduled New Years Eve binge." He walked out of the club.
Margaret followed him to the door. "Where do you think you're going, Hawkeye?"
"What the hell do you care?"
The door closed behind him.
Sidney was now at Margaret's side. "He needs to blow off some steam. He'll probably go back to the hotel."
Margaret frowned at Sidney and asked, "Do you always have to be so damned understanding?"
"I can't help it. That's how they trained me in psychiatry school. Besides it's just my charming nature and the fact that my mother wouldn't have it any other way."
Margaret laughed in spite of herself.
"Why don't you come home with me? I don't think Rivka will mind and I think Aaron is pretty taken with you."
"Sidney, I-I don't know...your baby... I don't know if I can...."
"Margaret, you can't run from babies forever."