Chapter 7 - Life Goes On
"Good job in there, doctor," said Nurse Donovan.
"If it was such a good job why is the patient dead?"
"You did your best, Hawkeye."
" Best? My best wasn't good enough then, was it? Now I have to tell some terrified parents that I couldn't do anything to save their son. Will they want to hear that I did my best? Damn it!' Hawkeye removed his surgical mask and cap and furiously threw them in the laundry bag. He had been in surgery for four hours. A child had fallen out of a tree and suffered trauma to the head. He'd done everything he could to save him but the damage was too extensive.
"You can't save them all," said Dr. Steinman glibly. He was the young intern who had assisted Hawkeye. He didn't really seem to care about the life on the table, which was the quickest way to get on Hawkeye's bad side.
Dr. Steinman admitted that he wanted to become a surgeon because it was a lucrative profession. He reminded Hawkeye of another doctor he'd known with the same attitude; Frank Burns. Just what the world needed was another menace like that practicing medicine.
"'You can't save them all?' Tell me you didn't say that, Steinman. A child just died in there. He was ten years old. Do you want to tell his mother that you can't save them all? Listen, Hot Shot, with your attitude you might have a nice lucrative malpractice some day but not in this hospital. I'll see to that! I suggest that from here on out you stay out of my way! If you stay here a minute longer you'll have to have my ten and a half surgically removed from your anus."
"You can't talk to me like that," said the younger surgeon. "I have connections."
Hawkeye smiled in a way that frightened Dr. Steinman, "If you want your head to stay connected to your body you'll remove yourself from this room. We can take this up with Dr. Wilkins later."
Dr. Steinman hurried off to change out of his scrubs. He knew that Dr. Pierce meant what he said and had the authority to back it. In just eight months Hawkeye had become chief surgical resident of the trauma center at Portland General. He was highly respected. It was also common knowledge that Dr. Pierce was a man who didn't take losing a patient, any patient, lightly.
"Excuse me, Miss Donovan. I'm sorry I blew up at you, that was uncalled for. Now I have to tell the Reeces how the surgery went and I'd rather have my tonsils removed with a fork without anesthetic. After that I'm going to my office to bury my head in the wastebasket and scream! Then I'm going to meet my wife for a drink. Have a nice weekend."
"Hi Hon, sorry I'm late," said Hawkeye as he kissed Margaret.
"That's okay," she replied. "Charles and Louise are running late, too. So I've just been sitting here sipping on my scotch and water holding our place."
The Pierces were meeting Charles and Louise for dinner in Portland. It was a long drive from Boston but everyone agreed that "The Lobster Claw" was one of the best places in New England to go for seafood. Charles said he had some news that he was excited to share.
"It's okay that they're late," said Hawkeye. "I need to sit for a while and have a drink before I'm going to feel sociable."
"Lose a patient today?" asked Margaret, gently laying her hand on his arm.
Hawkeye covered her hand with his. "When did you get to be so perceptive?"
"Let me think about this," she said. "There were those three years in Korea. I recognize that look. I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do, Darling?"
"No, there's nothing anyone can do. If I'd decided to be mechanic I don't think I'd feel this way when I lost a 'patient.'"
"But there's nothing else you wanted to be," Margaret finished his thought. "Besides, I've seen you with cars. You'd make a rotten mechanic."
"Please bring me a painfully dry martini," said Hawkeye to the waiter. He turned back to Margaret and smiled, "Yeah....that's true. Margaret, the patient was just a kid. Ten years old. He fell out of a tree on his head. Subdural Hematoma. If he'd lived he might have been mentally retarded or God knows what else...I don't know if that would have been better than his death..."
"Hawkeye, you're a doctor, not God."
"Yeah, I've heard that somewhere before. But to make matters worse, if they can get worse ...that smart aleck intern, Kevin Steinman assisted me and after it was over says to me, 'you can't save them all.' How d'ya like that guy. I wanted to send his face traveling to the next county."
Margaret looked alarmed, "You didn't..."
"Hit him? No. I restrained myself. But I am going to talk to Dr. Wilkins on Monday about getting that jerk transferred out of ER. You know who that little twerp reminds me of don't you...?"
"Frank Burns," she said, wincing a bit at the memory of the relationship she'd once had with him.
"Well hello there, Dr. and Mrs. Pierce. I see you've already started the party without us," said Charles as he and Louise made their entrance.
"We're just having a drink to unwind from the day," said Hawkeye. "Glad to see that you could join us, Charles."
"Bad day at the office, Pierce?" asked Charles.
"He lost a patient...a ten year old boy," offered Margaret.
"He was my last patient of the day. I hated like hell to have to tell the parents they've lost a child," said Hawkeye.
"How did they take it?" asked Charles.
"How the hell do you think they took it?"
"That was stupid of me. I'm sorry, Hawkeye."
"So! Why don't we get a bottle of wine? Charles we'll let you choose since you're the expert," said Margaret as brightly as she could, trying to lighten the mood.
Hawkeye put his arm around Margaret and kissed her.
"So Charles what's the news that you couldn't tell us over the phone? Oh I'm sorry Louise, I have no manners...how are you? You look beautiful tonight. Is that a new dress?" Hawkeye was trying desperately to cover his very bad mood.
Louise smiled at Hawkeye and Margaret and then at Charles. She brought her left hand to the table.
"Wow! Charles that must have set you back a few weeks pay! What a rock!" exclaimed Hawkeye. "I don't know which is brighter, that diamond or the smile on Louise's face."
"Louise, it's gorgeous!" exclaimed Margaret.
"Yeah, but don't you have trouble lifting your hand with it?" quipped Hawkeye. "Won't you have trouble sleeping at night...I would think the glow would keep you awake."
"Oh, I think I'll be able to manage, Hawkeye," said Louise. "But thank you for your concern."
"So how is your family accepting your engagement, Charles?" asked Margaret.
"Not that it matters to me one way or the other what they think," said Charles, "Mother and Father adore Louise. They're putting together a high society engagement ball next week."
"How do you feel about that, Charles?" asked Hawkeye. " I know for a while there you and your father were...um...you know...what I mean is..."
"Father and I have made peace with each other. He no longer tries to run my life and I don't try to live his. As for myself I rather like living out from under Father's roof. My position at Boston Mercy suits me well and I am quite satisfied. Which brings me to this Margaret, I don't know if I ever apologized for the way I reacted when you secured the position for me. I know that you meant well. I shouldn't have taken offense the way I did. I hope you can forgive me." He took Margaret's hand and kissed it.
"Charles, every time I read Sonnets from the Portuguese I think of you. I forgave you a long time ago."
"Thank you, Margaret. Now there is one other question. Pierce...Margaret...I would be honored if you would be my guests at our engagement party. And...Hawkeye...I never dreamed I would be asking this question of you...would you do me the honor of being my best man?"
Hawkeye's mouth dropped open and then broke into a wide grin. His eyes twinkled when he said, "I would be honored, Charles."
"I can hardly believe that Charles Emerson Winchester the Third asked little old me to be his best man," mused Hawkeye.
Margaret rolled over in the bed and kissed his cheek. "He just knows a good thing when he sees it. I know that it would be hard for him to admit, Darling, but Charles really has a great deal of respect for you."
"You think so?"
"Yes I do."
"Margaret, something Charles said tonight got me to thinking..."
"What was that?"
"He mentioned moving out from under his father's roof? Does it bother you that we're living in my dad's house?"
"I guess I hadn't really given it a lot of thought. I mean he works days. We work days. This house is so big that even in the evenings we hardly see your dad. He watches television or reads in the study. He plays poker with his buddies every Saturday night. No, I don't mind living here with him. Besides, I love your dad. He's like the father I never really had. I think this will be a wonderful house to raise children in."
Hawkeye put his arms around Margaret and closed his eyes, "Thank you...I love you."
She snuggled close and smiled, "Good night, Captain."
"Good night, Major."
Announcing our New Arrival!
Jeffrey Elliott Freedman
He was born
Monday, June 28, 1954
At 3:00 AM
He weighed in at 7lbs. 6 oz.
And was 19 inches long
"Rivka called that date right didn't she?" said Peg as she read the birth announcement. "I'll bet Sidney is a proud daddy. He's such a nice guy."
"He's better than nice, Peg. I don't know what some of us at the 4077th would have done without him...particularly Hawkeye. And speaking of Hawkeye we need to get up early tomorrow morning to pick the Pierces up at the airport."
"You mean you need to get up early and pick them up. I'm sleeping as late as Ben will let me."
"Okay, Peg. How about if I get up with him for the two o'clock feeding so you can have a little more sleep? And I'll get Erin up and she can come with me to the airport. How does that sound?"
"You sound like my knight in shining armor," laughed Peg.
"This has really been a wonderful weekend," said Margaret. I can't believe it's Sunday already. We've been here since Thursday...where did the time go?" She sat holding little Ben in her arms while Peg fixed a picnic supper. "Are you sure I can't do anything to help?"
"Believe me; you're doing it by holding the baby. I hate it that you have to leave so soon. But at least you don't have to leave until tomorrow night," said Peg. "And you get to stay for the fireworks tonight. We have a beautiful display on the beach."
"That's right," said Margaret. "I forgot about it being the fourth of July."
Erin was putting sandwiches in the basket. She looked up at Margaret, held up three fingers and grinned, "I'm this many!"
"So tell me, how was the Winchester engagement party?" asked BJ.
"Boring," said Hawkeye. "But there was some great booze."
"Oh, stop it!" said Margaret and slapped his arm. "It was really a very lovely affair. They had a small orchestra and there was dancing. Peg, you wouldn't believe some of the evening gowns! You can bet most of them were designer gowns. Lots of bucks there, you can bet on it."
"What did you wear, Margaret?" asked Peg.
"I wore a strapless black gown and a string of pearls."
"Yeah, you should have seen her. Yum yum yum!" growled Hawkeye kissing her neck. "She was most beautiful woman on the dance floor.
"I can't believe Charles asked you to be his best man," said BJ. "I guess when you said he'd changed you weren't kidding."
"Yeah, that butcher shop changed us more than any of us cares to admit," said Hawkeye.
"So when is the wedding?" asked Peg.
"Not until next spring," said Hawkeye. "They have to have time to send out the invitations, hire the caterers, have the wedding dress made by a designer..."
"What about Louise's family," asked Peg.
"Louise just has a father who lives in Milwaukee. He doesn't have a lot of money and the Winchester's are willing to foot the bill," answered Margaret. "It's going to be one swanky party.
"Look the fireworks are starting," said Peg pointing up. "Watch the way the colors are reflecting on the water! Look Erin! Look at the colors in the sky! Erin?"
The little girl was hiding under the beach blanket beside BJ.
"It's okay Erin," laughed BJ, hugging his daughter.
Down the beach a few feet away some boys set off firecrackers. Margaret jumped beside Hawkeye and put her hands over her ears. He put his arms around her. He noticed then that she was crying.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Loud noises?" he asked in a whisper, holding her tighter.
She nodded and added, burying her head in his chest, "shell fire."
"Good morning, sweetheart," BJ kissed Peg as he was getting out of bed. "I'm going to start the coffee and make breakfast before I go to work. Is there anything I can get for you?"
"How about a glass of milk with some peanut butter on toast," she said getting her slippers on.
"Why don't you go back to bed," said BJ. "You don't need to be up so early. It made for a short night with taking Hawkeye and Margaret to the airport and having to get up with the baby."
"It's okay, darling," said Peg. "I'm going back to bed when you leave."
BJ took the lid off of the coffeepot but something was in the pot. He put his hand in the pot and felt something. He grabbed what looked like a live mouse and threw it across the room. Seeing that it was a rubber mouse, BJ caught his breath and said, "I think Hawkeye must have visited the kitchen last night.
With the coffee now percolating on the stove, BJ continued with breakfast. He made some scrambled eggs and bacon for himself and toast for Peg. Content that it was safe to eat, he joined his wife at the table.
He took the salt and turned it over to shake it on his eggs but it before he could stop it the lid had fallen off and a mountain of salt sat on top of his eggs.
Peg laughed while BJ sat shaking his head in disbelief. She took the peanut butter and unscrewed the lid and screamed. No sooner had the lid come off but a spring-loaded snake jumped out of the jar. Both of them howled with laughter.
"Nice work Hawk...Margaret," said BJ through gritted teeth.