Note and Disclaimer: M*A*S*H is never ours and that's it. Welcome to lucky part thirteen of "By the Graveside" though. Enjoy!
He had always been an angry man. Yes siree, there was always red in his eyes, from the moment he was born and grown in Georgia to now and standing like a fool in Illinois. Granted, he wasn't angry about Henry Blake's death. He was sad and that was what made it worse. This man had who usurped just about everything did not have a reason to visit his dead officer. But there had to be an ending somewhere and he could not afford to be weeping over losses.
That was what people called this man – a hijacker. Not only was he always in a state of agitation, but he liked taking control of things, most of the time illegally, on his own terms and with a purpose in mind (always his). From the moment he was walking, he did not like someone leading him by the hand to behave. Not even his own mother could have controlled him. The hijacker was always butting into business that was not his own.
What the hell though? He didn't care. The hijacker was always a sucker for situations that were not his. That was why he did not like his draft notice. He had just graduated from medical school and soon found himself in Korea. He was supposed to be in some unit dubbed the 4077th, but saw that the land was no camp at all. The Army had put him and thirty others in an area with no buildings and tents and left them no supplies. They expected this new group to build up with local material and take in the wounded.
The hijacker did not view this dire situation as hopeless as the others did. He commandeered and began issuing orders. As a captain and the highest-ranking officer so far, he had the right to. He had the brains, ability and strength to lead them…and he did. He had to beg, barter and steal during the process, but that was the lot in his life anyway. That was part of his trade.
It didn't take long for the Army to see how well the new unit was doing and they were full of praise. Thriving a week after the orders were set in stone, the hijacker ensured that the survival rate also reflected its foundation. However, he had other plans too. He had a mission in mind and it wasn't just sticking with Army rules and regulations. It was to cause as much chaos as possible before being discharged. All he required was a few stooges and an escape plan.
They came, all right. It didn't take long before the hijacker was supplanted by a new CO, the man buried before him. Henry Blake continued the hijacker's traditions, but he was also weak as water. Shortly afterward, this officer was easily controlled and under new puppetmasters. Two Regular Army nuts came in and practically ran the colonel over. They also ordered the hijacker to retreat. After securing more surgeons, the hijacker was sent packing. He hardly knew his replacements.
His scheme fell to pieces quickly too. That Major Burns ruined it all, quickly discovering the plans. He tattled on the hijacker to Blake. In turn, the colonel was none too pleased with the hijacker. Before his transfer, he was called to Blake's office. It was a farce, as the hijacker saw it. Blake wasn't too good at discipline and worse at gratitude. He forgot who had built his camp and why.
That was when enraged Augustus Bedford "Duke" Forrest the most. While he expected to be lectured about his behavior, he did not want credit to be due to the wrong person. Because he was under new management though, Henry Blake talked about the 4077th and how it should be run, referring to its beginning like he had stood there in the middle of the mud and directed the traffic. Why, Blake wasn't even there yet!
Duke couldn't blame Henry, but he was seething that this colonel should stoop so low as to forget who had helped in the first place. He took that ticket out of there, narrowing missing the new doctors, and enjoyed a short tenure elsewhere. The 121st Evac Hospital welcomed him warmly and giggled at his antics. Duke's jokes weren't as creative as his 4077th counterparts, but he managed well enough.
Any fleeting feelings for Henry Blake had disappeared when Duke was transferred, resurfacing when faced with his death. At the same time though, he was a sucker. He abhorred the Korean Conflict and was disgraced by the number of dead. This tragic demise was the stuff of calamity – a weeping widow, fatherless children and countless devastated friends. There was no glory in war.
Duke removed his pocketed alcohol and cradled it for a moment before popping the top. He raised his bottle in a toast. He downed it quickly in a gulp, emptying it. He saw his reflection at the bottom of the bottle for a moment, reflected in the sunshine. When he slowly lowered the colored picture, everything vanished. His self-control was gone.
That was when he smashed the bottle against the stone.