Note and Disclaimer: I will never own M*A*S*H. Neither should all of you. Here's part twenty-one of "By the Graveside". Enjoy!
Throughout his life until now, there had always been a song to sing. It grew from his heart to his mouth and played out in a melody that he shared with the rest of the world. His lyrics had been celebrated as locally as his hometown in North Carolina and as far away as the mountains of Korea. That would be his fate though – that he would always provide a safe haven from reality via his music.
The musician felt honored in many ways. He always felt it his mission in life to bring that joy to everyone. However, none loved it more than Henry Blake. God, the man was so supportive and encouraging! The musician remembered when he arrived at the 4077th, all the way back when there was a war in Korea. He was the newest surgeon on the block, quite temporary by the way his orders read, and immediately finding friends in the best of the best in the unit. Some were exceptions to the rule though.
And Henry Blake was the first in line to express his interest in the musician's work. He also stated how amazing those on-the-spot creations were. The musician was touched, coming up with a song for every occasion to rise up to everyone's expectations (Henry's most of all). It could have been the nurses leaving or the patients being difficult. He made up one for when General MacArthur showed up. There was also one for Frank Burns getting drunk when Hot Lips kicked him out of her tent.
It didn't matter what time of day it was. The musician was always up to the challenge. But making up that kind of silliness wasn't always the name of the game. Old Henry always tagged the musician for nurses, drinking and more. It was a party all the way around. The only stark reality that destroyed the illusion was the war.
The musician shut his eyes tightly to dispel those images. Oh, how he spent those days forgetting that nightmare, one shared by those he drank and horsed around with. It was one he could never wake from because it was too real…and his lips were always closed forcefully against this living dream. There were no songs for those kinds of things. His heart did not allow him to spring forward with something so mournful.
Music should be a refuge, not a reminder.
As Henry pointed out, war was always considered a jolly affair. Countries alike always shouted out in glee to be the patriot and to fight the enemy. There was a hue and a cry like nothing before, the musician recalled, and Korea was no exception. Other than boys being drafted, much more volunteered and paid that price dearly.
The musician opened his eyes. The dark shadow passed him and he focused on the good. His heart gladdened to dwell. Yes, there was Henry before him. That colonel drank and had danced with aimless abandonment at the Greek Easter festival. He was no help playing tug-of-war with the enlisted personnel. And there he was again, exercising to impress one girl or another. Henry was never in shape.
But there was always the horrifying news that destroyed it all once more. The former singing surgeon who was Calvin Spaulding blinked back tears, recalling when he was about to be shipped off to Tokyo. He was almost scot-free. The Army was sending him home. On his way, he soon found that he was stuck in Kimpo. The sergeant in charge told him to stay put. There wasn't enough room for him on the ride to Tokyo and the next would be around in another hour.
And that was the plane that Henry Blake took on his way home.
Fate can change in a moment. Decisions made can cause a ripple in the water. That one choice may have allowed him the chance to live, but many more suffered a death Calvin had narrowly avoided. The Army was considered his Guardian Angel. Instead, Calvin saw it as their way of taunting him. He was the survivor. Henry was not so lucky.
It should have been me, not Henry. It should have been me…
And that was never a good song either.