Forthrite was one stripe away from Petty Officer rank. She had been in the Navy for 6-years now and was more experienced than many nurses who had been practicing longer. Forthrite had been lucky to serve two 6-month tours aboard the only two existing operational hospital ships positioned off the Vietnam coast–the USS Repose and the USS Sanctuary. Her sea assignments were also 6-months apart. Forthrite was originally ordered to the Sasebo Naval Hospital in the Philippines but because of need and her willingness, she managed temporary assignments on the two hospital ships. Going to sea for basically a land based Navy activity such as working in a medical facility was a career move. Forthrite had plans for the Navy sponsoring her to a Bachelor Nursing degree. She planned to be a lifer in the Navy and the only way for her to become an Officer was as an RN.
“Think you’ll have any reunions today Kinnsey?” Zettler had been amazed during one air-evac back in August when one of the patients recognized her. The Green Beret had been shot-up in a firefight, sent to the USS Repose for emergency surgery and then on to Sasebo for stabilization. Forthrite had taken care of the man at both sites and the patient went ape-shit with gratitude at meeting up with her stateside in Queens Naval. That air-evac bus had 30 Vietnam returnees and more staff on board Queens Naval to handle them than this Christmas horde of 66.
“LT Zettler, please send the orthopedic patients going to D-3 over to me.” Kinnsey was regularly assigned to the orthopedic wards and wanted to get as much upfront knowledge of her admissions as possible. She was “Charge Corpswave” for all the Ortho wards but her main assigned ward was D-3.
“You sure that you want ‘em? We have seven for your ward and they all have smelly casts that need changing.” Zettler was brought back from her August memory. She knew the cast changes required a lot of time and energy with pre-and-post cast x-rays adding to the tediousness of the task. Forthrite would be busy for the next 3-hours and there still was the other air-evac to come in at 1500.
“Naw, ma'am. No sweat. Ortho patients are like kids in diapers. You have to change them regularly.” Forthrite looked matronly although she had a good figure. It was the Corpswave uniform. It was light blue with white stripes or white with light blue stripes–it was hard to tell. The black plastic and white-lettered nameplate was universal military and worn over the right breast. She had transparent blue pantyhose tucked into square–toed black dumpy regulation issue shoes. Her black hair was up in a tight French twist.
“Ok, then. You got ‘em. Two are in hip-to-ankle casts; two have arm-and-shoulder spicas and three are in wheelchairs with knee-joint repairs.” Zettler and Forthrite looked around. All of a sudden a loud shout pierced the baseline drone of mumbling hospital staff and air-evac patients answering interview questions.
“Hey Fortits. Fortits. Jesus Christ Fortits, it’s me. Lucas.” An eager marine wearing a green fatigue top and sporting a waist-high hip and total right-leg cast tried to hobble over to Forthrite on crutches. He managed to go about 8-feet toward Kinnsey Forthrite and then fell to the floor at her feet with the crutches flying out laterally onto several other patients lying in stretchers. Groans of complaint resulted and the crutches were thrown back at the one called Lucas.
“Lucas? Oh my God. It’s really you.” Forthrite smiled and ordered two corpsmen to pick Lucas up and get him onto a stretcher.
“Yeah. It’s me. I been prayin’ you’d be here. The last time we met you had your hand on my cock. Remember?”
Forthrite looked around as total quiet suddenly replaced the multiple simultaneous dialogues. Zettler stared wide-eyed at the veteran corpswave helping the marine in the plaster half-body cast being eased onto a stretcher.
“Can I help?” Zettler didn’t know whether to smile or ignore the marine’s remark. She did give Forthrite a look that invited explanation.
“It’s not what you think, ma’am. I mean, I don’t know what you’re thinking but what happened was he needed his cast changed 3-days after surgery at Sasebo Naval Hospital. Two corpsmen and the doctor had to hold him still and apply the plaster to around his hips and down his right leg. His penis kept falling into the plaster wrap and I was assigned to protect it and keep it out of the way.”
“And you did a great job too. I can hardly wait to show ya.” Lucas produced a lecherous and lustful grin.
Simultaneous laughter broke out around them and in the connecting ER room. Paul Norman came into the room and looked at Zettler.
“LT Zettler I ordered x-rays to be taken on these D-3 patients on their way to their ward. The cast changes can begin after the Ortho Duty Doc checks them.” He looked from Zettler to Forthrite. “Everything under control here?”
“Yes, Dr. Norman.” Zettler dismissed him with that comment and added a wink. Norman rolled his eyes to the ceiling, turned around and went back to the triage staging rooms. She watched him go over to the area where the four psychiatric air-evacs were sitting and awaiting their brief admission work-up and orders. For a sudden moment she had a flashback to a year-ago about her terrifying incident with a psychiatric patient on B-2 and then it was gone.
“Just cool down Lucas.” Forthrite matched his air-evac tag number attached to his top most fatigue shirt buttonhole with the one on his Sasebo medical chart. The surgical intern had reviewed the chart already and had written his admission orders. “You’re good to go now. I’ll see you later. You’re on my ward, Lucas.”
“Fuckin’ A.” Lucas smiled. He was trying to assume a sit-up position by propping his elbows and lifting his upper torso. The plaster hip cast began at belly-button level and was somewhat restrictive for this posture. His face was slightly shiny from the long journey. His crew cut was growing long and his unshaven face had a 2-day growth, as did many of the other air-evacs. He would be clean-shaven by tonight per the order sheet.
Forthrite went over to Zettler who was writing down the measurements on a bloodstain on the plaster cast of one of the knee-injured air-evacs. She stood-up and walked to meet Forthrite.
“What about the name?” Zettler smiled. “Fortits?”
Forthrite reddened. “It’s not what you think, ma’am. Oops. There I go again. I mean. I don’t know what you’re imagining. At Sasebo we had to have numbers on our t- shirts so we could keep track of whose clothes were whose in the laundry. The laundry steward at the Female Enlisted Quarters used a black marker to write our numbers on our shirts. One day the air-conditioning broke down and we were allowed to work in our t-shirts and tropical shorts. Unfortunately for me my number was written across the chest. Twice. The number “4” was written over each breast. I just never thought about it but the entire ward of the lecherous wounded looked at the number 4 on my chest and yelled ‘4-tits’. After a while I ignored it and totally forgot about it. Until today.”
“I would nip any further reference to that title today with that guy.”
“I plan to see him on the ward. I’m doing his admission remember? And I’ll trade with him. I have something on him.”
“Like what?” Zettler had stepped down from her Nurse-to-Corpswave role. She bumped Forthrite with her shoulder. “Like what. C’mon. Today’s Christmas. We both need some things to lighten up our day.”
“Well. Remember that cast incident–about my holding his manhood out of the way of the plaster material? Well his penis had a tattoo on the shaft. Can I be frank, Minnie. I mean–LT”
“For God’s sake. You have to tell me now. What kind of tattoo?”
“It said–‘Maria Fucker’. But you couldn’t see the ‘Fucker’ part unless it was extended. It said ‘Maria’ otherwise. At Sasebo, Lucas was always trying to get the plastic surgeon or urologist or any doctor to remove the tattoo. He claimed it ruined his love life because Maria was history. As far as I know he still has it.”
“What if he doesn’t? Your leverage for ‘Fortits’ will be gone.”
“He has it, ma’am. The first thing I looked up in his transfer exam was ‘identifying marks’. ‘Penile tattoo was written and dated 3-days ago. He still has it, ma’am.”
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