Trapper John stood across from his old friend for the first time since he left Korea. He’d come to talk, but Hawkeye’s two words tore the air from his lungs. He looked down at his peace offering; a bottle of homemade gin that was far too little, far too late.
“I’m sorry..” He finally managed to say, “I should have come sooner. I sh…”
Those two words again. Trapper sat down, taking any excuse to tear his eyes away. He could have sat there all day, or turned around and gone home. But he had things that had waited too long to say. This time he wouldn’t leave until he said them. Finally he faced Hawkeye again.
“I should have… I should have done a lot of things Hawk. I should have said goodbye, left a note or something. I should have answered your letters you sent when I got home.” Then quietly he said, “ I should have done this before now.”
Hawkeye was uncompromising. He said two words.
Trapper swallowed a lump of guilt that had congealed over too many years, knowing that the only person who could make it go away didn’t.
“I couldn’t say goodbye. You and me, we were like one person. The TrapperHawkeye. More than my best friend: you were me. More than that even.”
He let that admission settle for a bit, taking a swig from the bottle and offering it to Hawkeye, then returning the cap to the bottle that was ignored.
Those two words again. Trapper cut him off by looking away.
“You were the finest kind, Hawkeye. Finest man, finest surgeon, finest friend….” Trapper smiled, “Although I was the finest lover. Much prettier than you.” His attempt to lighten the mood fell flat. Humor belonged to Hawkeye, really.
“That was the problem. Well, not exactly that. You were too good a man, a surgeon. A friend.” Trapper turned back, braving those two inevitable words. “I didn’t want to think about you when I got home. I had my wife. I had my daughters. And I wanted to forget you.” Trapper stood up again and began to pace. His words became faster and more passionate.
“I wanted to forget you ever existed. I wanted to watch my babies grow up, I wanted to make love to my wife.
I never even read the letters you sent me when I left. I tore them up. I, I threw them away. You didn’t understand that I never wanted to hear from you again. That I wanted …”
He was interrupted by Hawkeye’s two words.
“Because I wanted you. Because I loved you.”
That said, Trapper sat back down. He felt like he should be crying. Instead he took another swig of gin.
“In Korea I pretended it was ‘coz I missed my family. But when I left… It hurt so much to be without you. To leave you. And, and I know you wouldn’t have hated me if I told you. Not loved me, but certainly not hated me. Christ Hawk, I hated * myself *. I wasn’t supposed to feel like this. Not about you. So I pretended you didn’t exist.”
There was silence for a few moments.
“Did you forget about me Hawk? Did you keep giving Frank hell right up to the end of the war? It seems everyone else forgot who I was. They never told me… I don’t know if I would have come sooner if they did. I’ve missed you, all this time I’ve missed you. I should have called, wrote, or something. But I’m here now.”
Just two words.
Trapper gave Hawkeye his peace offering. The bottle of homemade gin, too little, too late, sat next to semi-fresh flowers from someone called Hunnicut.
The epitaph on the headstone said 'Finest Kind'.
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