THAT IS WHERE THE WATER IS
Sundays are their special days. They arrange to be off call together on
Sundays as often as they can. BJ's surgical partners are surprised to
think that he's fallen into organized Christianity; he's never seemed
the type. Although he's new, Hawkeye's group knows for a fact that he's
not religious, but have decided that it's prudent not to question him
too directly on anything he does outside of patient care. Perfect
afternoons often find them touring along the Pacific Highway; the exact
'where-to' sometimes leads to a minor spat. BJ likes to go north into
the quiet of the Sonoma countryside: a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and
thou. Like he and Peg used to do when they were courting. But he never
tries to sell it to Hawkeye like that.
Hawkeye likes to go south into the heart of San Francisco, where BJ
hates the noise, the crowds and traffic. The simpler the better is BJs
mantra these days.
"Humor me. The city's old hat to you, but I'm still a tourist," Hawkeye
argues. "I like going out and watching people. We can be alone at home."
"I like it when we're alone in public," BJ says. "I like having a
secret everyone sees but no one knows."
"I'll make it up to you later." Hawkeye caresses high on his inner leg
and wins; BJ puts on the blinker for the turn towards the Golden Gate.
Where ever they decide to visit, to eat they always hold out for a
place with a view of the ocean. They both agree on that. Not the bays
and estuaries, but the great dividing Pacific itself--waves lapping
against the coast, wild and free. Across the horizon is Japan, and
beyond that Korea, five years and six thousand miles away, although it
seems much farther than that.
They both like to sit and drink and look toward it, although it's not
always clear whether it's to remember or to take comfort in just how
far away it finally is.
"I swear, every day there's more people here." BJ grumbles as he scans
for a place to leave the car.
"I know," says Hawk. He rubs his hands. "Isn't it great?"
"I thought you missed your hermit's cabin in the woods."
"Not so much," says Hawk. "There's a spot." He points a ways down the
street, not at all near the restaurant. He chooses this place as much
for the walk as for the view.
They stroll slowly to eyeball all the girls, most of the women, and
some of the more comely men. Hawkeye looks longest at the Asian women
of a certain age. With Little Osaka making a resurgence, there are a
fair number. Certainly more than in Marin or Sonoma. It's why he pushes
for this place despite the indifferent menu, though he tells BJ it's
because they have the prettiest waiters in town. He suspects that BJ
knows he's full of crap, but as long as he gets his way, Hawk's all
right with that.
A Korean--no, Chinese--woman with two boys walks on the other side of
the street. Although it's not her, Hawkeye's thoughts and gaze follow
them for a while. He typically imagines it would have been a boy. He's
not sure why. Perhaps he doesn't believe he's capable of producing
something as pure and good and miraculous as a little girl.
But Kyung Soon certainly was. She was good enough for the both of them.
Yes, it could have been a girl. If there was a girl, Hawkeye hopes she
looks like her mother, but has her father's taste in men.
He knows in his head that Kyung Soon's not here—she's
still far away over that ocean with every orphan she can round up
safely tucked under her wing. But it's his heart not his head that
keeps searching women's faces, especially those with a kid or kids in
She moved before to give the children a better life. This is America:
your tired, your poor, your huddled masses longing to be free. He feels
the sun on his face, the breeze on his skin, the smell of the
ocean--how can you get better than this--and he has a resurgence of
hope. Maybe, just maybe--
"How old would he be now?" BJ asks, although he knows that well as he
knows Erin's own age. "Six." The answer spills out without thought, and
Hawkeye startles to realize he's been busted.
BJ chuckles. "Don't look so shocked. You're not the great enigma you
like to think you are. At least, not to me."
"Don't tell." Hawkeye responds glibly, relieved at the subject change.
"My mystery is my secret weapon. Drives 'em crazy with desire." He
rolls his eyes and sends and a ludicrous shimmy down his torso.
BJ risks squeezing his hand for a moment. "Don't worry. You're safe
with me." Their eyes connect, and Hawkeye is acutely aware of the
appeal of less public places. He's no longer hungry for dinner, but
figures BJ will bean him if he asks to go back home now. Hawkeye's eyes
dart around. Personally, he wouldn't be opposed to a few minutes in a
bathroom, but that is out of the question with BJ. Ah, well. No one
ever said that life made perfect deals.
"You would have made a great father," BJ says.
Hawkeye scoffs. "When I'm not being a selfish, cynical, abrasive,
Hawkeye agrees, although he'd rather not. It doesn't hurt so much if he
tells himself it never would have worked. These days it doesn't hurt
nearly as much as it used to, though he's sure he'll continue scanning
for her face in perpetuity because it's his nature to want to know.
He walks near enough to BJ to let their arms brush as they swing. Every
day the uncertainty gets a little easier to bear.
They've reached the restaurant. The maitre d' is
pretty, and Hawkeye flirts as he requests a table with a good view of
the ocean and the sweet sixteen party as well. They can hear the
squeals and giggles from the behind them, but it's the ocean, Korea,
and the dipping sun they choose to face as they sip their martinis on
the deck. "Do you ever wonder about all the ways your life could have
Hawkeye asks. Absently, BJ thumbs his fourth finger where the flesh is
indented at the base. "All the time," he says. He scoots his chair a
little closer and, beneath the tablecloth, rests his left palm on
Below them the ocean splashes and breaks against the rocks jagged
rocks, splattering the water borne from half a world away.