Telling stories, you may have noticed, comes fairly naturally to me. So far, I’ve been trying to simply report what happened, in direct transcript of conversation or by welding together what I’ve been told over the past year (complete with their phrasing whenever I could preserve it). Now, however, I feel that we’ve reached a part of the story I can tell on my own behalf.

I was there, and by this time, I was six, nearly seven, which is old enough to remember.

After Hawkeye’s little road trip, things settled down a lot—at least as far as I was concerned. There were a few little changes that affected my parents (and for the time being, let’s include Hawkeye in that: as far as I was concerned, that’s what he was) quite a lot.

//“A few little changes!” my father says, reading over my shoulder. “They were far from little.”

“I think my readers are intelligent enough to know understatement when they see it, dad.”

“Well, maybe. And maybe you’re heading for trouble, taking that tone with me.”//

My father’s still not convinced that my writing a whole book about my parents is a good idea. Anyway, I think I should get on with the story.

//“I’m trying to write, here. Please, Hawkeye, take him somewhere else. Especially if you’re going to do *that* sort of thing.”//

Peace and quiet, at last.

Firstly, there was changing employers; secondly, there was moving grades; and thirdly, there was moving house.

In our household, we do things together. Everyone speaks at once, everyone wants the television at the same time, and crises come in fours. They may even come in fives; I’ve never found time to ask Waggle if he was having problems when the rest of the family was in chaos.

If you’re looking at my list of three crises above, and wondering how that’s four: “changing employers” is two. First Hawkeye, and then Peggy—but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The trouble began one summer afternoon, when my Aunt Mary came to visit. To hear my father tell it, you’d think she came to threaten murder, but as far as I can reconstruct it, this is what happened."

“BJ, dear brother, I think we ought to have a little talk,” Mary-Lou said, standing on the veranda with her arms folded.

“If you say so, Mary-Lou. Shall we sit down?”

Mary-Lou accepted the chair he pulled out for her, and continued, “I worry about you, you know.”

“Anything specific, or just general worrying?”

“Don’t be silly, BJ. I’m serious,” she said, with an air of righteous offence. “Look—your relationship with that Doctor Pierce isn’t quite *proper*, is it?”

“It’s perfectly proper. We’re friends and colleagues, Mary-Lou.”

“And friends and colleagues routinely sleep in the same bed, do they?”

BJ chose not to answer that one.

“If you want to ruin you life in this world and spend the next one in Hell, that’s your choice, but I’m not going to let you ruin the family. You can’t let—that man—stay in your house any longer. There’s bound to be a public scandal sooner or later, and if our father finds out the shock and the shame will kill him. I’m not letting that happen.”

“You’re not going to let Dad die? You’re that good a doctor?” BJ asked, smiling as serenely as he could. “Mary-Lou, I’m capable of sorting out my own affairs.”

“Your affairs with other men? I find that unlikely. You’re an immoral perverted degenerate. I wish you weren’t my brother—then I could merely report you without being forced to try and pull you out of the gutter you’ve chosen. If Pierce isn’t out of this house, or better still this town, within a week, I’m going to tell that nice Doctor Rossi that he’s employing a homosexual!”

Mary-Lou stood, thumped the table dramatically, swirled her skirts, and flounced out. BJ’s initial reaction was to laugh at her display—which hadn’t changed since she was about four—but he soon took on board the worrying nature of the ultimatum she’d just delivered.

/That’s just what we need,/ BJ thought. /I finally think we’ve got Hawkeye home and happy—he’s dealing with Rossi, he’s not drinking as much as he used to, even if it’s still more than he should, and he’s not had nightmares for nearly a month—and she starts poking her nose in./

/It’s probably very wrong of me to wish I’d strangled her with that lasso, but damn it, it’s hard not to./

He chose not to say anything about it to the rest of them; partly because he didn’t want to worry them, and partly because he couldn’t find a space to mention it. I suspect that they spent a lot of time discussing me at this point.

School was just getting to the interesting part. I’d learned to write (more or less; there are at least eight spellings of ‘Hawkeye’ in the writings I produced, and my mother hoarded, from that time), and I’d also learned, courtesy of my father and Hawkeye, that playing practical jokes was fun.

And that the duck-and-cover drills we did in school were basically a load of rubbish.

Armed with that knowledge and bored with colouring in paper leaves for the parent-teacher evening, I decided one day to liven up the proceedings a little. When we were all under our desks, heads down, I shuffled across a little and asked the boy in the next desk—I don’t remember his name—if I could borrow a chicken.

I knew his older brother was a member of 4-H, and that he had chicks. It wasn’t an unreasonable question, really; but Miss Clarke wasn’t pleased. We were supposed to keep quiet during the drills.

That afternoon, when mom came to pick me up from school, Miss Clarke had a long talk with her. She mentioned the talking, and she may have gone on to discuss the trying-to-make-other-pupils talk that had happened afterwards. Peggy says she made it sound like I tried to start a riot.

//“Not a bad plan,” Hawkeye says, leaning on the back of my chair.


“Starting riots. I’ve done it once or twice. Lots of fun.”

“I thought I asked you to take dad outside.”

“I did. Your mother snatched him away from me for something or other, and I thought I’d come and help you.”

“You aren’t helping.”

“So let me,” he grins.//

I’m not sure which is worse, Hawkeye on my side or Hawkeye arguing against me.

//“When did I ever argue against you?”

“When Miss Clarke suggested I should be pushed up a grade. I wanted to move up, because I thought that Mr Walters was not so strict, and mom thought I should be given harder work, but you and dad said I should stay where I was.”

“But you agreed with me in the end.”

“No, I didn’t. Dad managed to persuade mom to agree with him, and that was that.” He looks like I stung him with that. “I guess I agree *now*—my reason wasn’t very good, and I had good friends in my class—but at the time I was real annoyed.”

“Like I was when I found out about Mary-Lou’s threat.”

“Yeah—and tell me about that, actually. How did you find out? Not from dad, I guess.”

“No. I found out from Mary-Lou herself, actually. Rossi and I…”//

They’d just finished a complex operation—Hawkeye had to hand it to Rossi, he wasn’t a bad surgeon—and, having assured the woman’s family that things had gone well and she would recover, they were standing around in the corridor, talking and generally getting in the way.

That’s how Nurse Abram put it, anyway. “Get out of the way, doctors,” she said, “I have enough trouble around here without you standing around and saying who knows what to my nurses.”

“Come, Doctor Pierce,” Rossi said, spotting Mary-Lou walking along the corridor. “We shall entertain this charming young lady in the privacy of my office.” Nurse Abram didn’t look too pleased, but it was out of her jurisdiction.

“Doctor Rossi,” Mary-Lou greeted him, without sparing a glance for Hawkeye, “It’s a pleasure to see you again. I wonder, do you happen to know my brother’s whereabouts?”

“I’m afraid I don’t,” Rossi replied. Hawkeye knew, but he decided that BJ could probably use the peace and quiet. “But come—is it that urgent? I’ve got some splendid Scotch, if you’d care to come this way. Do you mind if Doctor Pierce joins us?”

“No at all,” she said, “In fact, I’ve got a message for him.”

“Ah,” Rossi opened the door and waved her in. “Keep the lady happy, will you?” he said to Hawkeye. “I won’t be a moment.”

//“And she told me then. Straight out, no hesitation, no playing around.”//

“If you don’t get out of my brother’s house and life in the next twenty-four hours, I’m going to get you sacked from here.”

//“I just stood and stared at her for a moment.”//

“I’ve already told BJ about this,” she went on, “He’ll understand if you just leave town without a word.”

“I’m not leaving town,” he told her, and then an idea struck. “And tell Rossi what you like—I’m handing in my resignation today.”

//“How you made a decision like that so quickly, I’ll never know.”

“Well, I always did like to keep things impulsive.”

“You always were inclined to make stupid, spur-of-the-moment decisions that had other people panicking, you mean.”

“Dad, Hawkeye, are you two telling the story or bickering? I can accept that you *are* an old married couple, but please—I’ve got a book to write.”

“Okay, okay, Erin. In revenge for my not telling him about the ultimatum Mary-Lou had delivered, he didn’t tell me that he’d handed in his resignation.”

“I did tell Peggy, though. Both parts of it.”

“That’s true. Though how she kept quiet, I don’t know.”

“I expect I couldn’t get a word in edgeways, given that when you’re hiding something, you tend to talk more about other things. Both of you.”


“Yes, dear?”

“Could you *please* take these two away? I know what to write, I just have to get some peace and quiet to write in.”

“I’ve got some potatoes that need scrubbing.”

“Beej, we’re being ganged up on by the women in our lives.”

“It could be worse, Hawkeye.”

“How do you mean?”

“I could side with them. Come on; potatoes ahoy.”//

Hawkeye—and he’d object to this, but it’s true—has a vindictive streak, not often seen, but there, and he decided not to tell BJ about his resignation. He did, however, take the precaution of telling Peggy the whole story.

“You what!?!” she—well, she would have shouted, if BJ hadn’t been only two rooms away.

“Shhh! It’s all right, Peg. I’ve got another job.”

“You have?” Her eyebrow arched in disbelief.

“Yeah. I’m going to be a milkman.” Hawkeye realises just in time that he’s only two minutes away from being slapped. “The free clinic on the other side of town is looking for a general surgeon, mostly for the emergency cases. More like what I was doing out in Korea than the long intricate things I’ve been doing with Rossi.”

“Is that what you want?”

“It’s what I’ve got.”

“That isn’t what I asked you, Hawkeye.”

“No need to get snappy with me, Peg. Yes, it is what I want. It’s what I’m good at, what all my training’s been for.”

“I guess I’m in no position to argue with that.” She pulled him close for a quick kiss. “Congratulations on your new job, Doctor Pierce.”

“Thanks, Peggy,” Hawkeye smiled, and then asked, “What did you mean about ‘being in no position to argue’? Is there something I’m missing here?”

It was her turn to grin mischievously. “You are, actually. You know I’ve been working for John Bulstrode, who owns the diner round the corner, doing his accounts?”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Well, it seems he feels he’s getting a bit old to be doing all the managing, all the recruiting and the ordering and things. He’s asked me to take a post as his assistant manager.”

“Oh, has he? And what would that entail?”

“Slightly longer hours, some evenings, more responsibilities. A lot better pay, and the possibility that I take over the whole place when he retires.”

“Have you told BJ yet?”

She shook her head. “He only asked me this afternoon. I said ‘yes, probably’, and I was going to talk it over with you and BJ, but since there’s no real hurry—for the next week or so, anyway—I think I’ll keep quiet.”

“Then let me be the first to congratulate you on your promotion, Peggy.”

“You think I should take it?”


“What do you think BJ’ll say?”

Hawkeye shrugged. “We’ll find out. In a few days time.”

//“They were very nasty to me over that, you know.”

“So you’ve told me, dad. Several times.”

“I saw Mary in the hospital that day, and I came home absolutely panicking. I didn’t know how much she’d said to who, I didn’t know anything… and they just…”//

“Hey, Beej. You’re late.”

“You’re early, Hawkeye. Does it matter?”

“Only if you want dinner. I ate all your share.”

“Evening, BJ. Don’t mind Hawkeye; I think he over-heated his brain in surgery today.”

“Well, I guess it can’t be helped, Peggy.” She grinned, but didn’t reply, getting his food out of the oven where it had been keeping hot. “Did you do something very complicated, Hawkeye?”

“Just the usual—Rossi was in a good mood, so I spent most of the day biting my tongue. It’s hard work not to be rude to him.”

“So why bother? Change jobs,” BJ said, trying to sound casual.

Hawkeye and Peggy exchanged glances. “It’s not so bad,” Hawkeye said. “Have you seen your sister around recently?”

BJ shook his head, his mouth full.

“I just wondered, because Rossi was talking about her. It sounded rather like he wants to marry her.” BJ’s face was a picture of surprise, and Hawkeye grinned. “Really. I don’t know if he’s told her yet, but it seems that he’s quite taken with her.”

“Are you sure about that, Hawkeye?” Peggy asked, sitting beside him.

“It’s what he said. Not even idle gossip.” Hawkeye tilted his head to one side and pitched his voice slightly higher in a good imitation of Rossi. “ ‘You know Miss Mary-Lou Hunnicutt, don’t you, Doctor Pierce? She’s a, err, well-built woman, you know. Very fine pair of… legs. Very fine.’  He went on like that for ages!”

“But… but…” BJ spluttered. “Mary-Lou—and Rossi? I guess it would explain…” He fell silent, aware he was stumbling close to telling all, and nearly panicking that knowing would drive Hawkeye away again, and even quicker than the scandal itself would. “It seems unlikely,” he finished, hoping that it would cover his slip.

Peggy made a conscious effort not to look at Hawkeye—exchanging too many significant glances would give the game away.

//“There was a lot a of game-playing went on, back then.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, the next day I got the upper hand again. For the most part.”//

Terry had insisted they have lunch in the cafeteria, and Hawkeye was busy, so BJ gave in willingly enough and sat with his friend.

“Tell me something, BJ,” Terry said, as he picked at the food. BJ just ate it; after the army, it didn’t seem as bad as it once had. “Are you leaving, too?”

“What do mean?”

“Well, the gossip is that Hawkeye’s going; and I know how close you two are.”

/You have no idea,/ BJ thought, remembering their love-making the night before, but then the first part caught his attention again. “The gossip says Hawkeye’s going?”

“That’s right. Rossi’s anaesthetist was talking about it this morning, and my friend Johnson—who works at the charity hospital on the other side of town—confirms that their accident and emergency department has a new surgeon coming, name of Pierce. Pretty convincing, to my ears.”

“Yeah,” BJ said. “You have an impressive network of contacts.”

“BJ—you did *know* Hawkeye was going, didn’t you? Oh. You didn’t, did you?” Terry was silent for a moment, watching BJ’s face. “Look—I think I know more than you might guess about how close you two are. And if I can be so bold, I think maybe you should go and talk to him about this.”

“I’ll talk to him this evening,” BJ replied, starting to grin. “Thanks, Terry.”

“I take it you’re not going with him, at the moment, anyway?”

“No… no, I don’t think I’ll be going with him. It’s been good, working in the same place; but we’re still in the same town, we’ll be able to meet if we want to, and it’ll give us both a bit more room.”

//“So—what happened?”

“Well, first we had an argument. Then… never mind that. We argued—I think Peggy started it, because she wasn’t happy keeping secrets.”//

“Oh, for heaven’s sake. We need to talk. All of us—and that means including you, Hawkeye Pierce,” Peggy said, pulling him back into the room. “Sit down.”

“If this is still about Erin changing grades,” BJ said, “I’m still against it.”

“It isn’t—well, that’s part of it. I still think Erin should move up a grade. She’s happy enough where she is, but Miss Clarke isn’t.”

“Who cares what Miss Clarke thinks? It’s not that long until the end of the school year, and Erin’ll have another teacher in any case. I say, leave her with her friends.”

“She needs to be given some things to do, BJ. She’s just getting bored in the class she’s in.”

“Best thing that ever happened to me, boredom.”

“We’re not going to get anywhere like this, are we?”

“I doubt it. Which means that I win, since we’ll never agree to take action.”

“Now that is just—that’s unfair.”

Hawkeye was leaning on the back of a chair, staring out of the window into the night. Faced with a deadlock on the changing-grades issue, BJ looked for a change of subject. “Hawkeye? You’re quiet tonight—bad day?”

“Not especially,” Hawkeye said, but he didn’t turn round.

“Then why so quiet? We’re having an argument here—I’d expect you to be in the thick of it.”

Hawkeye didn’t reply. “Hawkeye?” Peggy asked, reaching across to put a hand on his shoulder, since she was the closer one. “Is something the matter?”

“It’s not like it involves me, does it?” Hawkeye snapped, standing up and moving away from the touch. “She’s not my daughter, why should I care which grade she’s in?”

Peggy glanced at BJ, who returned the look and then focused on Hawkeye. “Because you’re a loving, caring human being?” he suggested. “Because she is my daughter, and you care about her well-being?”

“You’re talking nonsense, BJ,” Hawkeye said. “She’s your daughter. Your problem. I’m not a part of the family, I don’t get a say.”

BJ stood up, getting between Hawkeye and the door. Peggy moved to his side. “Listen to me, Hawkeye. One: we love you. Two: you’re part of the family now. Three: that means you get a say.”

“Four,” Peggy added, “it means you get chores, just like the rest of us.”

“And making decisions about Erin’s schooling, like just about everything else, is a chore. We need your input, okay?”

Hawkeye nodded, slowly, and didn’t move away when Peggy ran her hand up his back. “Okay.” He paused a minute, swallowing, and BJ wondered if he was making up his mind or holding back tears. “Alright, then. I think Erin should stay where she is. It’s not like that will do her any harm, and if the girl learns to start riots early, she might get somewhere in life.”

Peggy grinned. “It looks like I’m outnumbered. I guess we can reconsider if she gets a really awful teacher next year.”

BJ kissed her, and then Hawkeye. “Was there something else you wanted to talk about?” he asked, grin turning slightly sly. “Either of you?”

“Um…” Peggy said.

“Well…” Hawkeye added. They looked at each other, and then back at BJ. “Kind of, I suppose,” Hawkeye said.

“I thought there might be. Shall we sit down?”

They sat down, all squeezed onto the sofa instead of on separate chairs. Hawkeye decided to go for the attack line first. “Is there something you haven’t been telling us, Beej?”

“There might be. Is there something you haven’t been telling us yourself, Hawkeye?”

Peggy started to giggle. “Oh dear boys. What a tangled web we weave, ay!”

“You've got a secret as well, Peggy?”

“Yes—but not for long. Mr Bulstrode’s given me a raise. Longer hours, more work, lots more money.”

“Oh. Well, good, I guess, Peggy. If that’s what you want.” BJ was frowning.

“It’s what I want,” Peggy assured him quickly. “I like the work, and more money never goes amiss around here. We’ll be able to get started on the house even sooner.”

“Err—what?” Hawkeye asked, confused. “House?”

“Yeah—the one we’re going to build. You remember out in Korea, when I had to borrow that money off Charles?”

“To buy the plot of land,” Hawkeye said, remembering. “Yes—you went on about how wonderful that plot was for days.”

“Well, when I got back we found we didn’t really have enough money to do what we wanted, not and keep this place in reasonable repair. So we’ve been saving up, ever since I got back.”

“I was saving up before then,” Peggy put in.

“I know. Anyway, that’s the plan.”

“You’re incredibly organized, you know.”

“The plan’s been around longer than Erin has; it’s not that big a deal,” BJ said, waving his hand dismissively. “We’ve…”

“Isn’t it?” Hawkeye asked, quietly at first, but then getting louder as he got more upset: “I think it is. You two, having a plan that been around longer than I’ve known BJ, let alone Peggy; that you didn’t tell me about, because it’s taken for granted, and it doesn’t include me!”

He started to stand up, but BJ made a grab for his arms and managed to keep him on the sofa. “Hawkeye, calm down. If we start shouting, we’ll wake Erin.”

“I’m sorry we didn’t talk about this before,” Peggy said, “we should have done so. Look, the plan does include you, or it can. No reason why it shouldn’t—and I, for one, want it to.”

“So do I,” BJ said. “You can have as much of a part in it as you like.”

“Are you sure?” Hawkeye asked, though he didn’t really need to.

“Yes,” Peggy said. “We like having you around, we want to keep you around, and if we move, that means you move with us.”

BJ started to laugh, thinking /Well, that’ll get him out of this house, the way Mary-Lou wanted./ “That’ll…” he said, then stopped short, though he couldn’t quite stop laughing.

“What is it, Beej?”

BJ shook his head, refusing to answer. “It’s nothing.”

“I don’t think it is, BJ,” Peggy said, catching Hawkeye’s glance with a slight grin. “Tell us.”

“It’s all right to tell us, Beej,” Hawkeye said, somehow persuading his face to get rid of the smirk. “I’m not about to let Mary-Lou drive me out.”

“Wh… what?” BJ gasped, staring.

“I’m not going to let Mary-Lou drive me out,” Hawkeye repeated. “Telling Rossi can’t touch me any more, and I doubt she really would have, anyway.”

“What do you mean?” BJ asked, still wide eyed. “And how did you…”

“She came in to see him, and I happened to be there. They’re courting all over the hospital, like silly mindless love-birds.”

“And how come…”

“When she threatened me with getting out of your life or losing my job, I suddenly discovered I wanted to go and work in the free clinic on the other side of town.”

“You… What happened to wanting to work in the same place as me?”

Hawkeye let the smirk return. “I decided it was more fun to be with you at night than in the day time.”

“Oh, Hawkeye. I love you.”

“So you keep saying,” Hawkeye replied, grinning.

“And I mean it.” BJ looked from Hawkeye to Peggy. “You both know about this?”

“Hawkeye told me when he knew,” Peggy said. “We figured we’d wait for a good moment to talk about it with you—why it didn’t come up earlier, like when you were going to tell us, I don’t know.”

“I, err…”

“You weren’t planning to tell us, were you?” Peggy rested her hand on BJ’s leg, wanting him to know that while this had to come out, she did understand.

“No, I guess I wasn’t,” BJ admitted. “I thought if I brought it up, I couldn’t stop it sounding like I wanted Hawkeye to leave. Sorry—I should have told you.”

“Don’t worry,” Hawkeye said. “I’m sort of pleased you understood when I told you to burn that letter.”

For a moment, BJ didn’t understand—then he remembered. Carrie. Writing home about it, and Hawkeye burning his letter to Peg… who was right there, frowning, wondering what was going on. “Oh. Um, yes.”

“Ooops,” Hawkeye said. “Another opportunity to practise my size-10ectomy.”

“What?” Peggy said, finally. “Something that happened in Korea, right?”

“Right,” BJ confirmed, and then decided to take the plunge. “Look, love,” he said, taking one of Peggy’s hands in his. “You know in Korea, Hawkeye and I…”

“Had an affair? Yes, I did figure that out, BJ. What was the letter about, him?”

“No—this was before he and I were, you know, involved. I…”

“He slept with a pretty nurse called Carrie Donovan, just the one night,” Hawkeye said, and shrugged. “At the time, telling you didn’t seem at all helpful.”

“It might have made me feel better later on,” Peggy said, musingly.


“Well—err, BJ, this is long over. It’s part of why I was so accepting about Hawkeye, too. You remember Leo Bardonaro?”

BJ nodded.

“We… it was just a one night stand, nothing major.”

“You and Leo…” BJ repeated, then simply leaned forward and kissed her. “Water under the bridge, right?”


//“And then we…”

“Okay, Hawkeye, I think I’ve got the picture.”

“Don’t you want to know what happened next?”

“I have a boyfriend, Hawkeye, I’ve got a reasonable idea. You three are my parents, for heaven’s sake, I don’t want the details.”

“Alright, then. Be boring. I was looking forward to telling that part, though.”

“You can tell it later, Hawkeye. When it’s just you and me and Peggy. I bet we all remember."


“Okay, okay. After that, things started to settle down into the new routine. Sort of.”

“Building the house wasn’t exactly routine. I may have been only seven, but I remember all the upheaval. ”

“And there were some little ends to patch up. I talked to Trapper.”

“I’d forgotten that.”

“I was still pretty upset about the way he hadn’t seemed to care when I went there looking for somewhere to stay. He’d said we were friends, but…”//

“I’ve got a wife and family, Hawkeye. I care about you, I really do, but I wasn’t expecting you and I had rather a lot of other things on my mind.”

“Oh, yeah. The job you had to run out to.”

“And Louise being pregnant.”

“You didn’t tell me that.”

“There wasn’t exactly a chance to! It had only been confirmed a few days before, and Louise didn’t want everyone to know straight away, in case she lost it again!”

“Trapper—what do you mean, again?”

“I mean that she’s had two miscarriages since I got home. At the moment, it looks like this one’s staying, we’re nearly five months in, but we didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up.”

“You didn’t tell me any of that.”

“No, I didn’t. I don’t know, maybe I should have. Then again, maybe you were so wrapped up in running away from your own problems, you wouldn’t have time for mine.”

“Trapper, I…”

“You are a self-involved bastard, sometimes. Not, thankfully, most of the time. But then—you were acting strangely. You didn’t want me to help you, and you certainly weren’t about to try and help me. I did what I could, Hawkeye.”

“Did you ever really love me?”

“You were my best friend.”

“That isn’t what I meant.”

“I know. I… the nurses were allowed, right? It was understood. Louise understands, she wants me to be a father to her kids, not a perfect husband. But you wanted… you need more than that. She can deal with my staying late to ‘talk’ to my head nurse or secretary, but other than that… I’m tied here, Hawkeye. I knew that all along.”

“I should have. I did, really. I didn’t want to believe it, though.”


“Let’s not dwell in the past, Trap. I’ve got BJ and Peggy, and a job here, and apparently I get shares in Erin, too. You’ve got Louise, and your comfortable little understanding, so we don’t really need anything from each other, do we?”

“That doesn’t mean we don’t want anything.”

“Friendship, you mean?”

“Yeah. We both know that if we try and write to each other, it’ll never happen, so how about we phone?”

“Once a week?”


//“You’re still doing that, aren’t you?”

“Every week. There’s been the odd break—we had an argument in 1969, and didn’t speak for six months, but besides that, we’ve kept going.”

“While I was off being a hippie child?

“Yeah, about then. That would be why you don’t remember.”

“Let’s change the subject. What about Lyle? Does he still write, too?”

“Yes—and I’ve been out there to visit a couple of times. He’s living on the farm, with his sister and her husband, and another guy—officially, the hired help, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were lovers.”

“So he got over you, then?”


“So, dad, what happened with Aunt Mary?”

“She married Rossi, as you know. She didn’t tell him."

“Not straight away, anyhow. Round about ’78, he figured it out for himself, but I think he represses it pretty thoroughly.”

“Did you go to the wedding?”

“Would we miss a chance?”

“I’m guessing you went.”

“Yes, and so did you, though you might not remember. That’s understandable—as weddings go, it was boring. That’s your father’s fault.”

“It is not!”

“It is! You’re the one who stopped me hiding a water pistol in that flower arrangement.”

“Hawkeye, it was my sister’s wedding. I didn’t want it spoiled.”

“No, you wanted it boring.”

“If the thing had turned into a water fight, mom would never have forgiven me.”

“You’re just dull. Dull as ditchwater.”

“He’s not as dull as potato peeling, Hawkeye. Come here.”

“See that look your mother’s got, Erin? I’ve learnt to be suspicious of that look.”

“And with good reason. Come here—you too, BJ—and we’ll leave Erin alone to get on. Try phoning Sidney Freedman, dear.”//


“Hello—it’s Erin Hunnicutt here.”

“Erin! It’s been too long. How are you?”

“I’m fine—I’m actually going ahead with the book.”

“Well done. Are your parents okay with it?”

“Yes. They’re helping. Sometimes. Mom’s refused to tell more than a little bit of story, but when Hawkeye starts embroidering it too much, she’s pretty quick to set the record straight. And dad takes over, sometimes.”

“That must be a fun set of conversations to have.”

“It has been. There’s just one final one, though—with you. You’ve known them since practically the beginning.”

“I doubt there’s much I can tell you that they haven’t already, by the sound of things.”

“Just one—where I need an outsider’s perspective, and more about Korea than my parents. The way Hawkeye and BJ tell it, especially when Hawkeye mentions Trapper as well, it seems like everyone out there was falling in love, like it was the only natural thing to do in the circumstances. That’s not really how it was, was it?”

“Hawkeye, and your dad, and Trapper, were lucky ones. They found each other, at the right time, and they had two very understanding C.O.s, or at least one understanding one, and one who let Radar understand, so he didn’t have to. A lot of good men were disgraced, or worse, for doing what they did—feeling love.”

“They don’t see it that way, or at least, they don’t tell it that way.”

“Maybe they don’t know how lucky they are—or maybe they want to shield you from the worst parts of it.”

“Maybe. One other thing, Sidney—is that story about Lyle twirling Major Burns true? It sounds too funny to be for real.”

“As far as I know, it happened the way they tell it. I wasn’t there, but for an episode in The Exploits of Hawkeye and Trapper, all the accounts match up quite well.”

“Thanks, Sidney. I think that’s all the explanations I need.”


Explaining Series Stories