"I've Been a Walkin' All Night Long"

By Rob Morris

October 31, 1952

Sherman T. Potter did not care to admit defeat. He wasn't about to do it now. But he was tired. Since arriving at the 4077th in February, he had kept up with the arrogant young doctors. Earned their respect by doing so. But several weeks of on-and-off marathon surgery had taken their toll. He was desperately seeking the latrine, but kept getting turned back by people who told him it was somewhere else.

Damned stupid, he thought. To not be able to find something like that. But if his bladder hadn't been about to pull a Niagara on him, he wouldn't be up and about. Unbeknownst to him, he had been wandering for an hour, all around the camp, more than a little dazed.

Among the things that dazed him was the lad the Padre had seemingly pulled back from the grave. Potter knew what it wasn't, but it still gave him the chills this Halloween. Chills, a few drinks, exhaustion, and a full bladder. Worse than the daze he had been in that summer, on the phone. Colonel Potter's wanderings continued. In a moment, they would take him into oblivion.

"Hey, yo! Colonel! Stop!"

A man Potter had never seen before grabbed him.

"What's the idea, pardner? I need to evacuate my-EverythinG!"

The man looked at him calmly, as though he had not a worry in the world.

"Yeah, Colonel? Well, where I come from, we do that in the Latrine, not the MINE FIELD!"

Potter looked out ahead of him. In his almost blind daze, he had nearly promoted Pierce and Winchester, and given Mildred the chance to take over his workshop. Not that they would have seen it that way.

"C'mon, Sherm! We types gotta stick together! I'm stuck out here most nights anyway. I'm just lucky that you could notice me tonight. At least this place is better than that sorry stretch of beach. Gets...lonely. By the by, thanks for taking such good care of Radar. I worry about him still sometimes."

Potter's new friend guided him to the latrine. He heard Klinger on the outside say "Colonel?", and then run off. Sherman didn't care. He would ask his new company clerk what he wanted---tomorrow. Right now, his relief was too great.

"Thank You, soooo much, friend. I'm still beat, but I'm not feelin' it like I was. I..."

As Potter entered his tent, he saw that his hero had left, quite suddenly, and quite silently. The Colonel vowed to find that man and properly thank him-when he woke up.

The next morning, Colonel Sherman T. Potter, feeling better than he had in ages, saw his company clerk, Maxwell Q. Klinger, staring dumbfounded at a picture. Both Colonel and Clerk saw in that picture something that put a chill down their spines. The picture was of Walter O'Reilly-Radar-and another man.

"Corporal Klinger, is that man in the picture who I think it might be?" Potter's voice was almost trembling.

"I think so, Sir." Klinger's voice WAS trembling.

"Is he the fella who helped me away from the mine-field and into the latrine? The one we both saw last night, alive as you and me!?"

Klinger, more than a little thrown, nodded yes, and then added:

"Yes, sir. I don't pretend to know how, but I'd swear that was Colonel Blake."

Halloween had given way to All Souls Day. But the touch of what happened that night would not leave Klinger's office for the duration of the war. Not then, nor later that day, when a fishing cap covered with hooks was found on the door to the officers' latrine.