Chapter 4 - Not This Century, Hon - I Have a Headache!
"Max, please get up! There's no need for this!" Keiko O'Brien never thought she'd be pleading with her many times great-grandfather, Maxwell Q. Klinger, to get off his hands and knees, while he pleaded for intimacy. Problem was, he did not know that he was not speaking to his wife, Soon-Lee Klinger. Max thought that he had done something wrong. Usually this was a pretty good bet. But this went far deeper than raised toilet seats, 2AM feedings or inappropriate remarks at a friend's house. No, this involved the Will Of The Prophets.
On the floor of the small house he and his wife were mortgaged to the hilt for, Max hugged Keiko's leg like a whipped puppy. "Was it our Anniversary? No, wait, I forgot that last month. Was it the Potters' Anniversary? Or the Pierces? No wait, they called that off-or did they put that back on? With Hawkeye and Hot Lips, you never can..." As he got up, he saw that the woman he believed to be his wife was crying her eyes out. "Geez louise, Soon-Lee! I give up! The only thing I know about this situation is that I caused it! Otherwise, I'm out in left field." Keiko looked up, confused. "What makes you think this is your fault? How do you know it's not just me?" Max just shrugged. "When DiMaggio goes to the plate, and you see a ball fly over the stadium, you usually know why it happened. When it comes to dumb moves, I'm the Mid-West MVP. So just give with my dumbness, and I'll make it up ta ya--somehow."
Max expected a lot of things at this point. A punch of some kind was high on that list. But Keiko hugged him, while still crying. "Max Klinger, I had always heard this kind of thing about you, but you are just the sweetest.."Her voice broke off in sobs. "You deserve better than this mess! You deserve your wife." Max piqued at this. "Well, since I'm so deserving, how about a little of what I might deserve? I gotta go to work soon, and a little of you helps carry me on through!" He saw her still-troubled face. "I'm going to take those sobs as a No."
Max got ready for work, looking haggard and more than a little bit angry. Keiko saw this, and thought, out loud, "Who can blame him? As far as he knows, his wife is rejecting him for no good reason! Oh, Miles! Please bring this poor man's wife back to him! Do it soon, darling." Keiko didn't find Max Klinger repulsive; far from it. The past week, lying in bed next to him, she had almost instinctively reached over to him for comfort. She then would remember this wasn't Miles. Worse, he was an ancestor. But she grew lonely, more and more, day by day. She was afraid that, one night, she would find herself accepting these unacceptable circumstances. She had shielded herself by thinking of a class of Bajoran-Cardassian children she had taught, all survivors of incest. This wasn't the same, but her strongly developed sense of outrage kept her from responding to Max Klinger's desires, however much she might want to respond. She recalled that women of Soon-Lee's time were taught to fear and stay away from sex. Hypocritical as those lessons were, she wished that she could temporarily forget that, in her time, attitudes were markedly different. She saw young Wally and little Maxine asleep. They had stopped rejecting her, out of need, but they were still uncomfortable around her. It reminded her bitterly of the time she had been reduced to childhood herself. Molly had turned away from her. "I want my Mommy", still rung in Keiko's ears and probably always would. Children simply knew. They knew her secret. If only she could tell someone else, an adult. Realizing that there was someone she could tell, Keiko made use of a phone she had only seen in a museum and called a neighbor to watch the kids.
As she left to go to her seemingly pointless talk with Father Mulcahy, Keiko encountered Sherman Potter, waiting to walk to the hospital with Max. "Soon-Lee, darlin. How's things in Casa Del Klinger? That hubby of yours keepin' to the straight and narrow? Mildred tells me we men were put here on this Earth to invent something new and stupid to do at each sunrise! Guess she's got a point! Heh!" It was impossible for Keiko not to like the gregarious Colonel.
Upon learning of Soon-Lee and Max, some years back, from a book Will Riker gave Miles and herself for their 1st anniversary, she felt compelled to study the Army unit the Klingers had met and married in, the MASH 4077th. The stories were just incredible. The people were so engaging and human. Molly had even started saying "Horse Hockey" to everyone in sight for 3 weeks, after learning about them. The man who originated that colorful phrase, and about a million others, was waiting for her reply. "Soon-Lee? Hello! Kiddo, you been getting all 40 winks? You look like you're standing in a blessed Museum! My aunt Bessie used to say, "It's ShutEye or ShutBrains! Pick Your Poison!" Keiko broke from her reverie, then spoke with the Colonel before proceeding to meet Father Mulcahy.
"Well, Colonel, did ya talk with her?" Potter frowned. "Max, my boy, there's something not right here." Klinger shrugged. "Tell Me about It! It's like she's someone else! Didn't she tell you anything?" Potter was trying to couch his words. What he had to say would hit hard, and he needed Max to be ready. "First off, Max, her "Everything's Fine" routine isn't even fooling her, let alone me. Now I know you know that, but I'm not just joyriding here. Also, I gave her plenty enough openings to pillory you, so it's nothing you've done. There's more. Her voice has changed, son. Her English is better than mine! It suggests education and a self - confidence I've never seen your Missus have."
Klinger nodded, though he would have preferred telling the Colonel he was wrong. "Colonel, I asked her the other day if she remembered what she said to me, when I accused her of shooting those GI's back at the 4077th. First off, that always upsets her - I usually don't bring it up. Our couch has bad lumps. But she didn't bat an eye, this time. Worse, guess what she told me? She said that she told me "Corporal, I didn't shoot anybody!" Well, as you know, I had finally made Sergeant by then. What's more, she said, "I Not Shoot Anybody!" She's usually the one to correct me on that kinda stuff. Its just nutsy-cuckoo, and I can't take it anymore."
Potter was sympathetic, but said to Max, "Son, you may just have to put up with it awhile longer. Not too long ago, you put that prize Philly through her paces. When you lost it for real this time, she waited while you sat in the psych ward. Couldn't have been easy on her, specially the way you didn't even try to get any better at first." Klinger remembered it well. As he saw the neighbor, Mrs. Krause, come to watch the kids, he and the Colonel started for work at Pershing General. "Yeah, I was a chump. That other lady shrink was nice, but she was a knucklehead, too. If Doctor Taylor hadn'ta played rough with me, I'da sat there vegetating."
After their walk was through, Klinger stopped just outside the hospital steps, asking, "Colonel? Are you telling me just to be patient with Soon-Lee the way she was with me? I mean, fair's fair, right? If that's all I gotta do" he saw Potter shaking his head, "that's not all I gotta do". Potter finally out and said what was on his mind. "Max, I'm no Sydney Freedman. But I think that your wife is beyond just shaking this thing off. We gotta talk to Dorrie. No matter how much it hurts. Agreed?" Max knew how Soon-Lee would react. But his yes in this case was a foregone conclusion. He wanted his wife back, no matter what or how long it took. The what was the Bajoran Orb Of Time. The how long was the next 12 hours or the next 400 years, depending on your point of view.
At the time that Max Klinger and Sherman Potter were entering their work to talk to the Staff Psychologist, Father Francis Mulcahy had just completed his frustrating talk with Keiko, who had failed to convince him of her true identity. As he got up from his prayers for her sanity, he began to question his own. The room he had walked out of was no longer the chapel, and the room he walked into was no longer the connecting foyer.
Somehow, he was back in uniform, back in Korea, back at the 4077th. He was wandering from the Company Clerk's office into the CO's. The CO was there. Both CO's were there. Henry Blake and Sherman Potter. They were standing on either side of the room. With them were Majors Burns and Winchester, Trapper and BJ, Radar and Klinger, Margaret, and, oddly appropriate to this bizarre tableau, sitting at the desk, ringleader as always, was "Hawkeye? What are we all doing here? What is this place? I'd swear it has the feel of some kind of Celestial Temple! Like it's here, but also all around us! Please answer me!" Pierce said nothing; No one did. They merely regarded Mulcahy with impassive, curious eyes, like he was an object of study. Finally, the one that looked like Hawkeye spoke, in a monotone completely unlike the real one. "You Are The Priest." No question. Just a statement of fact to which Father Francis Mulcahy responded, with all the enthusiasm he could muster, "That would be me----I think."