Author's Note: Finally, it's posted! This is my first ever fanfic, so be gentle with comments. E-mail email@example.com for flames or wonderful reviews. M*A*S*H is the property of 20th Century Fox, but Jaclyn, her family, and everyone else is MINE.
by Christine Ruud
You are scheduled to leave from the Minneapolis airport on March 19th, 1952 to join the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.
I dropped the letter I held in my hands. "Elliot!" I called weakly.
My brother came into the living room. "What is it, Jaclyn?"
"Read this." I handed him the letter.
He read it quickly, and said, "Well, this is what you wanted."
"I know," I said, "but today's February 28th. It doesn't give me much time."
"Basic training's short."
"What is all the NOISE in here?" Mother asked. Noticing the piece of paper in Elliot's hand, she grabbed it. As Mother read it, her face paled.
"Well, I'll simply call this Major Markenson and get this whole mess straightened out," she said.
"Julie, people don't call the army to get their kid out," Dad said from his armchair.
"Walter, I will handle this."
He rolled his eyes and went back to the paper.
The next morning at breakfast, Mother began her usual specialty--guilt.
"How I'll miss your lovely conversation," she sighed during breakfast. (I was telling Dad that the Fredricksons' dog had chewed up the begonias.)
"You're always so HELPFUL!" Mother gushed as I washed dishes. "What will I do without you?"
"Get a maid," I whispered.
Finally, I escaped to the den and tried to read about Korea, but Mother found me anyway.
"My studious daughter," said Mother. "The light of my life."
"Mrs. Carson just called," Elliot yelled. "She wants to know if Sunday night at seven works for Bingo."
"Oh, for heaven's sake." Mother bustled to the dining room. "Elliot, could you have come in and TOLD me?"
Dad stuck his head in the doorway. "Clark's here."
"Great!" I marked the place in my book and went to see my fiancee.
On March 18th, we piled into the car to go to Minneapolis. It was a three-hour drive, so I had PLENTY of time for Mother to sigh and moan about how she'd miss me.
"Aunt Martha just loves it when you come," Mother said as we pulled out of the driveway. "She said Mark just adores you. Of course, who wouldn't? With your sunny disposition and helpful attitude, everyone in Stockton loves you. But I suppose Korea needs you more than your poor family."
"Julie," Dad said warningly. "We'll just sit here and let Clark worry his head off," she continued, ignoring my father. "Of course, he'll probably find a nice friend of yours to keep him company, but it won't be the same..."
"Elliot will keep an eye on him. He can't watch him every single moment, though, so we'll just have to put faith in him."
"Yes, Walter?" Mother asked.
"Read your book," he said.
Thank you, I thought, and buried my nose into my book on Korean customs.
I fell asleep for a while, because the next thing I knew, the car had stopped and my aunt Martha was screeching, "Oh, WALTER!"
Opening my eyes, I saw Dad trying to pick up the remainder of Aunt Martha's flower pot.
"It was only thirty years old," she said. "Our mother's. How can you be so clumsy with a car?"
"How many people keep flower pots that are thirty years old?" Elliot muttered.
I got out and stretched.
"Jaclyn!" called Uncle Harry. He hugged me and almost lifted me off the ground."Going off to Korea?"
"Sure am," I said. Uncle Harry and Dad had been in the service together. That was how my father met my mother. Aunt Martha was Mother's best friend, so she introduced Mother to Dad.
"Come in," Uncle Harry said.
"I think I'll get the flower pot pieces," Dad protested, but Mother dragged him along anyway.
Mark, who was fifteen, grunted hello and excused himself to his room.
"How could I have raised a son with such bad manners?" Aunt Martha asked. Glancing at Dad, she added, "He didn't get his genes from me."
"Tell us about your service, Jaclyn," Uncle Harry said.
"Well, it's at the M*A*S*H 4077th," I said. "It's kind of by Ouijongbou , from what I get out of maps."
"You'll probably be captured by natives," said Aunt Martha knowingly.
"It's a medical unit, Martha," Dad said. "They don't get many surprise attacks."
"Well, Harry had a friend," Aunt Martha began, "who worked in a makeshift hospital during the war..."
My family was off and running, except for Elliot, who was out checking the car because he heard "a strange clicking noise during the ride that'll probably take hours to fix."
("Probably a piece of flower pot," Aunt Martha had muttered.)
The next morning at six-thirty, my flight was scheduled to leave. We got to the airport at six-twenty.
"I'll miss you, darling!" Mother said, pulling me close to her.
"Make us proud," Uncle Harry boomed. "I always knew my niece would be a war gal."
Dad hugged me and kissed the top of my head. "Take care."
"Oh, JACLYN!" sobbed Aunt Martha. "I don't know what I'll DO if you're KILLED!"
"I'll watch Clark, don't worry," Elliot said. "If he gets out of line..." He smacked his fist into his palm.
"Yeah," Mark mumbled. "Miss you."
"Flight 57 for San Francisco now boarding," crackled the loudspeaker.
I took a last long look at my family, then headed up to the ramp to my plane.
Finally, we got to the San Francisco airport and I switched planes. I fell asleep immediately.
"Now landing at Kimpo Air Base in South Korea," the pilot said.
Korea! My mind clicked into "awake" mode and I grabbed my duffel bag.
When I'd climbed off the plane, I noticed a short man with glasses.
"Are you Captain Waters?" he asked.
"I'm Corporal Radar O'Reilly from the 4077th," he said. "I think I'm supposed to meet you here."
I followed him to the jeep, nearly tripping over my high-heeled shoes that came with my dress uniform.
"You'll wanna wear boots," he said.
"I know," I replied. "Tell me about the 4077."
"Well" (the jeep roared off) "there are four surgeons--Hawkeye, B.J., Major Winchester and Colonel Potter. Major Winchester's all right but he gets sorta mad sometimes. Colonel Potter's the commander, but he's a really nice guy. Hawkeye goes after all the nurses but he don't mean anything by it. Well, sometimes he does." The corporal chuckled. "Major Houlihan's the head nurse. You gotta watch out around her, because she'll really rip your head off."
"Why are you called 'Radar'?" I asked.
"I can sense stuff before it comes," he answered. "Like choppers."
The drive to the M*A*S*H unit was short, but to me it felt longer than the plane ride.
"We're here!" Radar called. The jeep screeched to a half. "Colonel Potter's office is in through there."
I got my bag and made my way into the office.
Behind the desk in the office sat an older man with gray hair and glasses. He was writing something, but when he heard the door open, he looked up.
"I'm Captain Jaclyn Waters," I said. "Your new nurse."
"Dandy," the Colonel said as I handed him the papers. "Well, I'm Colonel Potter. You just come to me if you need anything. Radar's probably told you all about this outfit, so I'll just have him-"
"I'll show you to your tent." Radar magically appeared by my side.
"Now I get it," I said as we stepped into the compound.
"Well," said a young-looking man with black hair. "Who do we have here?"
"Uh, Captain Waters, this is Hawkeye," Radar said.
"Captain Waters, huh?" asked Hawkeye, his eyes sparkling. "I'm Hawkeye Pierce."
"Nice to meet you." I felt a bit strange about the attention from this handsome man, but I shook it off. "Radar, you said something about my tent?"
"Right," Radar said. "She's taken," he muttered to Hawkeye.
"You little devil!"
"Not me!" hissed Radar. "Sorry," he said to me. "He just gets like that when he gets like that."
"I know about people like him," I assured him. I opened the door to my tent. "Just like home. A cot and a dresser. What more could I ask for?"
"CORPORAL O'REILLY!" an angry voice yelled. "IS THAT MY NEW NURSE?"
My eyes grew wide as a blond woman in a black turtleneck stormed up to Radar. "Why wasn't I introduced?"
"Major Houlihan, Captain Waters. Bye."
Radar scurried off, leaving me to deal with this blonde bombshell.
"I'm Major Margaret Houlihan," the woman said. "You're Jaclyn Waters?"
"Yes," I squeaked.
Major Houlihan opened the door to her tent. We sat down and she began to tell me about triage, surgery, and everything else.
"Will you excuse me for a moment?" Major Houlihan asked half an hour later. "I'm expecting a phone call."
I nodded and set my notebook as she left. When I set my notebook and pen down on a stack of papers, it fell over.
"Great," I said. "She probably had these alphabetized."
While stacking the papers, something caught my eye.
Our system was working fine until you called. Was yelling really necessary??? You are being unreasonable and hot-headed. When we got married, we both agreed that our money should be put together and I would send you an allotment. If you think I'm so horrible, go ahead and file for a divorce! Sometimes I don't know the woman I married...
"What are you doing?"
I jumped. "Major Houlihan, I'm so sorry! I just knocked these over and was stacking them up and I saw this and-"
"Get out of my tent!" she yelled. "NOW!"
I left so fast I sent a gust of wind through the tent.
When I got to my quarters, I threw my notebook against the wall and screamed, "WHY AM I SUCH AN IDIOT?"
The door opened a second later. It was Hawkeye.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
"No. I'm not." I sank down on the bed and told him about Major Houlihan's letter.
"She's going through a rough time," Hawkeye said. He sat down next to me. "She married a creep, and now she has to deal with being here while her husband is in Tokyo with other women."
"What am I going to do?" I asked.
"Let it blow over." Hawkeye put his arms around me. "Captain Waters, she's screamed at everyone in this camp."
I looked at him gratefully. "Thank you."