Margie always thought that most of the men in the camp were insulting to women. They degraded them, treated them like toys and never appreciated their work. Many were culprits, but she thought Hawkeye Pierce was the worst of the group. He led a campaign of tastelessness that many of the nurses grew tired of quickly.
Even when the nurses began to realize how humiliating the men were, many of them ended up compromising their beliefs and dating them still. Margie was frustrated. The point of keeping one's dignity was not being a hypocrite. It did not matter if it was in their best interest to keep entertained.
She was the odd one out, though. While the nurses continued to be amused by the shallow promises of the doctors and orderlies, she was steadfast in her belief that the right man will eventually show up when she herself was ready. In the meantime, she was content doing her work and leaving Korea behind when it was done. She was not fond of the place.
One night, these beliefs were challenged and seemed to change. It all began when she found herself tending to patients in Post-Op. It was after midnight. She was tired. Major Houlihan had her on double duty, since they lost three nurses to illness.
It was ridiculous to begin to count the hours until she could go to bed. Even so, Margie did not think she'll be off the hook. She could not believe her luck landing in a hell with a Regular Army head nurse. With a demon on wheels on her back, she was sure she was never going to sleep again.
As she wrote some reports due for the morning, she heard some noises outside. She did not get up to check it. She was sure Klinger had it handled. Heels and all, he was the best guard they had in the camp. He'd take trouble with his gloved hands and have it take a walk back to bed.
When the door to Post-Op was knocked into and the crying woke some of the patients up, like someone was falling into it in a fit of rage, Margie had enough. She hushed some of the patients and soon had them back to sleep. Afterward, she was going to give the intruder a piece of her mind. Enemy or not, she did not appreciate any wounded being bothered.
Nobody is going to like me.
When Margie opened the door, she saw a drunken figure slumped over against the wall. She had to squint to see who it was. It was Painless Pole Waldowski, the camp dentist and all-around nuisance.
Oh, God. Why did it have to be him?!
Margie only knew Painless Pole through the rumor mill and did not dare date him. Nobody really liked him, even the other surgeons except Hawkeye. Other than a difficult practitioner of his trade, he was a shameless womanizer who whined when a woman left him. She also remembered when he decided to commit suicide because he could not get it up for a nurse.
The suicidal stunt was obviously a trick. It led to his relationship with Leslie Dish when Trapper pushed her in. When this supposed love failed, he had been a useless mope around the camp. He did not appreciate Henry Blake picking Leslie up and was often drunk and on report.
Margie kneeled before Painless Pole. "Waldowski, what are you doing?"
The dark eyes met her light ones with hatred. "What do you care? You are a woman."
"I care because I am a nurse who had to calm patients. Come on. Let's get you back to bed."
"Without a woman in there, I find it useless to be in bed. I should be dead."
Margie sighed. This was going to be difficult. She tried picking Painless Pole up. She cursed herself when he used his dead weight to keep on the ground. She went back to kneeling beside him.
"Come on, Waldowski," she coaxed. "Let's get you to the Swamp. I'm sure Hawkeye will fix you up with a nice gin."
"I find it a waste to drink when all we are going to do is die," he said suddenly.
Margie froze. "W-w-what?"
Waldowski darted up and kissed her on the lips. "You taste like death, honey."
Margie was taken aback by the action. She normally would have slapped the man who kissed her without permission. Something stopped her, though. Painless Pole was not being a drunken fool. He was actually serious.
"Death comes to those who wish for that soul the most," Painless Pole continued. "You can't hide from it. Death searches for you and snatches away all of your dreams and hopes."
"What are you talking about?" Margie asked, shaking. Then, she composed herself. "Waldowski, you're drunk. Why don't you talk with some of the guys? I am sure they can help you sober up."
"There is no point. All I see is death. You are next, Margie. You have to be careful. Don't leave the camp. Don't get transferred. It means that a bullet will find you."
"I am too pretty for a sniper. They'd rather make me a prisoner than a dead body."
Margie was trying to be funny. She knew her worth and her beauty. It was hardly likely she'd be the victim of a sniper. Waldowski was not having it, though. To him, her casual comments did not matter much. He kept repeating his words louder, over and over again, without listening to anything Margie said. He did not want to stop.
Suddenly, he quit his litany and got up. "Run for it!" he yelled. "Sniper! Sniper!"
Margie did not hear anything that resembled a distant gun shooting. She thought that maybe Waldowski was just too intoxicated and was just making some noise. But then, she heard it. It was drawing closer and closer to her with each shot. As Painless Pole ran off, the bullets kept coming towards her and she could not move.
Then, the pain slapped into her sharply, right in middle of the forehead. Margie did not know what hit her. Darkness claimed her.
When she woke up, Margie found herself slumped over the desk in Post-Op. It was morning. The sun blinded her until she blinked it away and stood up to stretch. She looked around. All was well. The ward was experiencing no difficulties. It was time for the next shift.
Major Houlihan arrived a few minutes later. She and Margie exchanged some developments from the overnight and which patients required more attention than the others and what medication each one was given. Even after faking some of what she did, Margie felt relieved. Major Houlihan did not catch her sleeping on the job.
The head nurse took control from there. "Go get some sleep. You must be exhausted from sixteen hours on."
"I guess so." Margie yawned and stretched her arms upward. "What time do you need me back here?"
"Tomorrow night, same time," Major Houlihan confirmed. "This time, you'll have a single shift."
Margie was relieved. They bid each other a good morning and she left. When Margie opened the door to the sunshine, she stopped. There was an unconscious body slumped up against the wall. It was Painless Pole. A bottle in his limp hand indicated that he spent the night drinking.
She walked away quickly.