Note and Disclaimer: Oh, yeah, I still don't own M*A*S*H. This is the seventh story in the series "By the Graveside". Enjoy!
It had been difficult years being in the Army as a nurse. She had made it through over ten years of hell and was home. Even though it had been a hard lesson being in the Army with set guidelines, it was still a good experience and one that she almost gave up on. The man buried before her made her not quit. He had been the best force she had.
The outsider was tidying up the small area which had become Henry Blake's final resting place. Clicking her tongue in shameful remorse, she cursed the people who dared to destroy the man's gravesite. From shattered beer bottles to ripped bras and even bent military decorations, she cleared the area and gathered what could not be salvaged into a small pile. She will take it to the garbage pail later. Now was the time to pay her respects.
And indeed, she had many for Henry Blake. The outsider had so many gushing words to say to this dead man that she did not know where to begin. Mostly, she started with who she was. She was part Chinese and Hawaiian. That made for an interesting childhood and one she was proud of.
The outsider brought that with her to the Army when she joined. Even though her home country had been at war with Japan at the time, she had been ridiculed for her Asian appearances. She openly disagreed with the politics and said so many times over.
From nursing school to the hospitals, nobody was any wiser. Prejudices always ran deep and people were always ignorant. They thought she was Japanese through her mannerisms and speech. It did not help matters when everyone found out that she spoke Japanese fluently too. The outsider had been harassed, beaten too, until she lost more than blood and tears. She had forgotten her senses of identity and strength. She no longer relished visits home as well.
As a nurse, the outsider had to be strong, to save face from the horrible reality outside those hospital walls. Her patients always depended on her to tell them that they will be ok. War had a way to making adults into children and children into adults. The outsider saw this was a way to channel her frustrations. She could do nothing about her personal life and what the Army was dishing out to her, but she could use that energy to help those more hurt than her. Empathy had been her only playing card.
Many times, that was the only one she had to throw. At the end of the day though, when she returned to her barracks and listened to the snores of her fellow nurses late at night, she had to lay back and wonder why she even tried. She had spent her childhood standing tall, carefree of who she was on those paradise islands. Now, past nursing school and working in Army hospitals, that was used against her. Never mind that she was an America citizen and a loyal one!
Things began to change, albeit slightly. Once the new decade rolled in, the outsider was switched to another base. She was closer to home and familiar comforts. However, the same hatred popped up. This time, instead of advertising, the outsider kept to herself, doing her duty and nothing more. Luckily, this was short-lived. She was soon transferred over to a M*A*S*H unit in Pusan.
Korea had been an assignment she did not bother to hope would change. She knew that her campmates would scorn her the same way everyone else had. After all, this was another Asian country her home was fighting. Her mother's countrymen will join in the war on the other side eventually. That was what made the outsider tremble in shame on her journey.
But this man, Henry Blake, made sure she was safe. He saw immediately what was happening and forced everyone to tone down on their nasty words. He invited her to poker games and social hours and danced, smoked and drank with her, just to prove how harmless she was. Everybody else followed suit shortly thereafter, a smooth transition she gaped in amazement about. Only two people remained in their steadfast hatred and even they did not matter to the outsider. This one man had saved her from humiliation.
For Lieutenant Kealani Kellye, this was a saving grace. Not only did the Army's outlook on her changed, but she saw a new horizon in a career she did not think would flourish. Even though it had been a deplorable experience before her return to Hawaii, she still was able to leave there honorably and to come home in one piece. That was all she and her family cared for.
Kellye was no longer an outsider in many ways and embraced it. She did not care anymore what people thought of her. This new attitude enveloped her. It brought a new promotion too. She was going to be receiving her captain's bars next week and helping to head an Army hospital in Honolulu. That was a wonderful dream job.
And it was all because of Henry Blake. His small, kind gesture was a spark that generated a million more and folded back onto itself. Kellye will never forget this man and what he did to help her shoot to the stars and pass even the moon. She will always pay it forward.