MASH Epilogues: Vol. 1

While I dine at my TV tray in my little house at my writing retreat, I flip the TV channels between the nightly news and MASH. Lately, I’ve been watching a lot more of MASH. If you’re like me, you’ve seen every episode about as many times as you’ve watched Star Wars. So when I lie awake at night, hashing and rehashing what I’ve picked up in the news, I lull myself to sleep by thinking about what might have happened to the MASHers after the series sent them back to the States. I started writing down these epilogues. And because this is the internet, I’ve decided to put them here. In other words, I’ve stooped to fan fiction. I’m so sorry. I know. But if you’re at all interested in Meggie’s sketches of MASHer fates, I’ll post a few at a time.

(The first four of these are the most vanilla. Spin-off content constricted me some.)

COL. SHERMAN POTTER

What we know: The war’s end sent him home to Mildred in Hannibal, MO. He’d originally planned to work as a country doc after Korea, but he later decided to become the administrator of the local VA hospital. In AfterMASH he recruited Max Klinger as his administrative assistant and Father Mulcahy as the hospital’s Catholic chaplain. He helped Radar decide to marry his first wife, Sandy.

What I suggest: Potter served at the VA until deep into his seventies. He painted and he gardened. He taught his grandson, Corey, how to ride a horse. He stayed close with Max and Mulcahy. He and Mildred spent a few Thanksgivings with Radar and his family. (During the first one, he presented Radar with a family-heirloom carving knife). He also corresponded with Margaret, as he advised her on how to manage an army medical career (and its subsequent loneliness).

While he was in his eighties, Col. Potter developed dementia. Margaret helped Mildred prepare for what to expect. Margaret visited the Potters a few times while the colonel entered his dotage. Toward the end, she found the colonel still painting in his study, where, among other pictures, the portraits from Korea hung on his wall. Col. Potter died in his nineties—our 1980s—surrounded by friends.

CPL. WALTER RADAR O’REILLY

What we know: In his wallet, he kept a picture of himself with Hawkeye, Henry, and Margaret. He also reached out to Col. Potter, who helped him to get over his cold feet and marry his fiancee, Sandy. Almost immediately after the wedding, Radar found Sandy in the arms of another man. She and Radar divorced, he sold his family farm, and he moved to St. Louis to become a police officer. (CBS aired a single episode of W*A*L*T*E*R, which launched, and crashed, on this premise.) During that episode, Radar befriended, Victoria, who clerked at the local drugstore.

What I suggest: After a year on the job, Radar learned that a police career was not for him. He liked to work with people for longer than policing generally allows. He also hated the city. But his friendship with Victoria went very deep, and they eventually fell in love. Victoria’s father ran a pharmacy in South Dakota, and he’d been looking to expand. Radar decided he was pretty good at moving merchandise both in Korea and when he was trying to make ends meet on the farm. He married Victoria. They moved up to the family store, and Radar developed this great idea about serving free ice water to any customer who came in.

At Radar’s first wedding, Col. Potter said that in Korea, while Radar was learning how to become a man, Radar reminded Potter how to be one. At Col. Potter’s funeral, Radar said that Potter modeled not only how to become a man but also how to be a father. While they ran Wall Drug, Radar and Victoria raised a daughter (Rebekah) and a son (Henry).

An American Dream

This is what I want from my life: I want to publish my thousand-page novel. It’s likely too odd to become a bestseller or to win any awards. But I’d like it to mean something to somebody, and I’d like people in the future to say, “Here was a person who gave all of her art to opposing the fascism of the day.” Then I would like to use this book to get a job occasionally teaching creative writing somewhere. This doesn’t have to be an Ivy-League gig, and I don’t even need tenure. (I wouldn’t like the pressure of that anyway. ) Maybe I could find a little college, where I could have a little office that had a chair that was comfortable enough for a kid to feel safe. And I’d have a shelf of books that I’d loan from, and on top of it would be the squid that my sister knit for me—three feet long and with Nerf-ball eyes. And I’d go to the football and basketball games. And I’d have stragglers over for Thanksgiving. And I’d live in the country, with an old grain bin, or some such, that we converted to a library. And my husband would have a studio, where he could play his drums. And we’d have cats and plants. And we might have a kid, somehow. And maybe this wouldn’t even be a baby goat. And our friends would come out to the farm, and my students would come out to the farm, and our family would spend holidays, sometimes, making dinner in our farm’s butcher-block, root-cellar, walk-in-pantry kitchen. And I’d have a studio in the tip of the granary, on top of all my books. And I’d write there at night. And in the fall, I’d look up, and the harvest moon would be so large that it would startle me.

Bury Me, My Love

I just stumbled across Bury Me, My Love, which is a video game about being a refugee from Syria. You can see the trailer below, but suffice it to say, the game is a far cry from Mario Brothers. The gist is that you have text conversations with a spouse who is trying to make it from Syria to Europe. You help to make harrowing decisions along the way, such as whether she should pay money to a man who promises to increase her security, or keep that money to buy a sleeping bag. Apparently the game offers nineteen endings, all of which culminate in a mock telephone call.

Already, I love this game–although I’ll probably have to steel myself to play it. Bury Me, My Love looks like interactive fiction–which, in its ability to create empathy, might well be art.

Walk with Purpose, Please.

Season 9 of The Walking Dead is creeping upon us, and I watched the trailer with as much attention as a person can maintain while also trying to eat her Spaghetti-Os. I keep rooting for this show. There’s lots to like:  the zombies, the grit, the fact that I still care when characters die WHILE ALSO coming to care about the characters who replace them. But something needs to change. The zombies haven’t evolved, so their menace starts to stagnate. The whole 28 Days Later bit about human morality was interesting, but we’ve had years of that. We need the next thing. Show us the wider world. Or show us a Patient Zero. Or show us a cure, or a mutation, or I don’t know… some dire weapon (like a nuke) that would stop the epidemic at the price of millions of lives. (That’s a little too Fallout maybe. But you get what I mean.) We need something big to progress. And although the establishment of an early-industrial civilization (and a glimpse of a helicopter) might be a baby step in that direction, I don’t want to watch twenty hours of people fighting over legal codices and a windmill. Nor do I want to come across another band of people who add a third (or fourth) variation on The Lord of the Flies. That sort of plot device really needs to shuffle off. (Get it?) And really, the next goal has to involve the zombies. Otherwise, we’re all just wandering around with them.

A Gorey-Styled Ode to Trump

A is for Alt-Right, whom Trump primps and goads.
B is for Brietbart where Bannon implodes.
C, oh Covfefe, which flew from a tweet.
D is for Dotard, said Kim Jong with heat.
E’s for Election, long-plotted for years.
F is for Fox News and Fake News and fears.
G is for groping, both public and private.
H is for Hair hockered up by a civet.
I is for ICE Raids, Gestapo reborn.
J is for justices, pressured and worn.
K is for Kim Jong, a-wavin’ his nukes.
L is for lies upon lies till we pukes.
M is for Miller who pines for his fuehrer.
N is for NATO Trump put in a furor.
O’s for Obstruction, the tyrant’s best whore.
P is for Puerto, now Rico no more.
Q is for Quislings, the warts on this wart-hog.
R is for Russia, where Trump is the lap-dog.
S is for Spicer, and Sanders, and Sessions.
T is for Tariffs and brand-new recessions.
U is for Utterly over his head.
V is for Voters whom fraudsters mislead.
W is for Wanting a war where he’s wiener.
X is for Xenophobes—make ‘Murca meaner!
Y is for Yelling. They really should bleep him.
Z’s for the Zoo were the country should keep him.

(Thanks to my husband, James, for helping with everything.)