Author's notes: I give thanks to the good Lord above for the creators of MASH placing the characters from the cities in which they did. Without that happening, my story would not have been very possible.
Dr. Daniel Pierce watched his only son, Benjamin Franklin Pierce go through the motions of packing his gear into his duffel bag for the journey to Korea. Yes, Korea. Just weeks ago, the younger Pierce, a captain now in the Army Medical Corps, had gotten his orders and done his training. All to be serving in a brand new, presently forming MASH unit in the Korean village of Ouijongbu.
The elder Dr. Pierce realized what a serious undertaking his son would be facing, but that wasn't really what was first and foremost on his mind at this time. He knew Hawkeye, as he has lovingly called Ben since he was a little boy, was still deeply smarting from a breakup with the love of his life.
"Dad, you don't have to do this, watch over me like this," Hawkeye told his father, without missing a beat in his packing. "See, I'm a big boy, no diapers," he grinned, holding up a pair of shorts.
"Yes, son, I know, but you've never been out of the country,"
"Look who's talking. When do you ever get out of Maine? Or the US? Much less Crabapple Cove?"
"True, but please be careful. I'm awfully proud of you, son. I know you'll do well over there, with your skills, and your talent and compassion."
"Thanks." Hawkeye hugged his father, then Daniel left the room for a moment.
"I want you to take this with you," he returned, handing Hawkeye a book.
"'The Last of the Mohicans'?" He was taken aback. "Dad, it's your favorite. Your only favorite."
"I know, but take it with you, anyway."
"All right, if you want me to," Hawkeye hugged his dad again.
"So, when are you meeting Trapper?"
"In about ten hours. It's easier for me to transfer buses at the depot in Boston, catching the one to Logan Airport, than to have him pick me up somewhere. Besides, he's got Louise and the kids to say goodbye to. Then we'll be bound for San Francisco to change our plane, if it needs changing."
"Boston. Anywhere, but Boston."
"Dad, I'll be fine." Hawkeye reassured him. "See, I've got my stethoscope," he pulled the instrument from his medical bag. "So I can check from time to time if my heart is still beating. Chances are very good I won't even see Car.. Carlye. I don't think we'll be in town long enough. Please take care of my clubs, the Desoto, your patients, and yourself if you get chance. Not necessarily in that order"
"Of course, I will," Daniel nodded, smiling at his son's stab of humor. An honest gift of his. He wished Hawkeye was in better shape of spirit and heart. "Hawk, uh, please..."
"Yeah, dad, I know.."
Hawkeye watched the Crabapple Cove station and his father get smaller in the distance as the bus moved steadily down the highway. He could still feel his dad's tight embrace, hear his whispered words of love, and see the mist of tears in his eyes. Part of him was still that little boy, wanting to get off the bus and run straight back to his father and home.
Where was this Ouijongbu, anyway? Sure in Korea, but situated in the madness of war? Three miles from the front?
'I'm off on my own to do what?' Hawkeye thought to himself as the bus rambled through the countryside. 'I've heard it called meatball surgery. What kind of term is that? Meatball surgery? And in a war torn foreign land. And here am I, not even liking to get near a gun. Crazy.'
It felt strange being in Boston again, although it had been home for quite a while. Funny. Hawkeye found himself glancing at every blonde that came into sight as soon as he'd stepped from the bus and entered the airport terminal. He tried to convince himself that looking at blondes came more from natural habit, than anything else. Likely assumption.
He perked up at the familiar voice, delighting in a friendly face. "Trap!" He called back.
"I see you made it back here all right."
"Yep, all in one piece." Hawkeye twirled around. He saw that Trapper's wife and young daughters were with him.
"You know Louise, and Becky and Kathy."
"Sure do! How are you all?" He graciously greeted Trap's family. This was nice. Real nice. They had come to see him off. Very nice. Hawkeye made another visual scan around the airport. Pointless. What was he looking for?
He stood back a ways, letting Trapper say goodbye to them with as much privacy as possible. Which really wasn't possible in this noisy, cavernous place.
Glancing around, more idly this time, Hawkeye noticed one of the big shots from Boston Mercy talking with another gentleman. And what's this? The other man's an Army officer? He's got on the uniform. Curious, and with nothing better to do at the moment, he wandered over to them.