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Just Like Old Times

Seems Like Old Times

By SherryGabs 2003

 

Rating: PG

Summary: Response to The Grey Team Challenge. The guys unite as a Team once again to save Hannibal and BA's retirement village. Please forgive my indulgence at messing with them. I may have gone slightly overboardJ

Warnings: Just silliness and some mild, lighthearted profanity.

Disclaimer: The usual.

 

 

"I insist you untie me right now!" the young woman ordered sternly above the sound of the oncoming train.

 

"No, you have to be rescued by the hero!" The train came to an abrupt stop and the "engineer" struggled out of the tiny engine. "Dang it! You have to scream for the hero to hear you. Can't you at least pretend to be scared?"

 

The woman sighed and could only lift the index finger of her tied-down hand to point to the man sitting in a lounge chair under a shady maple tree. "My hero is sound asleep and wouldn't hear a freight train if it sped right past him! Now untie me, Mr. Murdock!"

 

Murdock ignored the woman struggling against the ropes that held her to the train tracks and hobbled over to the man sleeping peacefully under the tree, his joints still working out the kinks created by the cramped train engine. He took his engineer's cap off and slapped the sleeping man's silver head with it.

 

"Face!" When he got no response, Murdock slapped him again. "Wake up, Face!"

 

Face snorted loudly and brought his chin up off his chest quickly. "Wha-?" He lifted one of the hands wrapped around the gold head of the walking stick that rested between his legs and rubbed his tired eyes. "For crying out loud, Murdock! I was dreaming about Rhonda. What're you swatting at me for?"

 

Murdock swatted him again for good measure. "Rhonda was 45 years ago, Face, get over it. You're s'pose to be rescuing Nurse Goodbie. Can't you stay awake long enough to do somethin' that simple?"

 

Face looked around Murdock to the poor woman muttering to herself and still struggling with the ropes. "Oh yeah. Must have dozed off waiting on you." He looked back to Murdock with an grumpy glare. "Took you long enough so what do you expect?"

 

Murdock shook his head. "You two just ain't no fun to play with." He held out a hand to Face to take and helped pull him out of the chair. "Well, help me get her loose 'fore she quits. Howie will throw a fit if he has to find us a new nurse."

 

Face managed to get to his feet and stretched his back with a cracking sound. They went over to the nurse who glared angrily at them as they bent over to untie her. "That boy of yours could sure use something to kill that bug up his ass." Face told Murdock. "What he needs is a woman who'll give him a good lay. That'll make him relax." He grinned and pinched the nurse's butt when she got to her feet. "Isn't that right, Miss Goodbody?"

 

She slapped his hand away and clenched her fists. "That's Nurse Goodbie. Good-bee!" she pronounced for him for the hundredth time, then turned on Murdock. "And there will be no more games like this. I have had it! Now both of you get in the house and get ready for lunch. I'll bring your vitamins after I change my uniform." With that declaration, she stormed off, brushing grass and dirt from her dress as she walked with purpose towards the mansion.

 

Face leered at her behind as it wiggled in the growing distance. "I like 'em feisty!"

 

Murdock put his arm on Face's shoulder and laughed. "Face, it's been so long, how would you even remember?"

 

"What do you mean "it's been so long"? Why just last week I had this perky little blond number sitting on my lap and before you know she had her hand--"

 

Murdock rolled his eyes skyward and ignored Face from there on. 'No one can say you don't still have a very vivid imagination, Facey,' he thought as they made their way slowly towards their home.

 

**********

 

Their home was indeed a mansion. Not incredibly huge, but much larger than what they needed and decked out enough to have been showcased in several home-decorating magazines and featured once on Home and Garden Television. Face had hired the architect and kept an exacting eye over how it was built and furnished. Except for Murdock's bedroom and playroom. Those were his domain, along with the grounds outside. They were any child's paradise on Earth. Even at eighty-one years of age, Murdock still enjoyed playing like a little kid. And he had the resources to indulge in it.

 

Some forty years earlier, the Team had received their official pardons from the United States government. Exonerated after eighteen years of hiding from law enforcement, they were free to do as they wanted. They went back to being soldiers of fortune for several years before finally deciding to retire.

 

Thanks to Face's finicky financial finesse they each had a tidy sum to retire with. Hannibal bought a horse ranch where he lived and bred horses for twenty-eight years before selling it and moving into an assisted-living retirement village to live out his remaining years in comfort.

 

BA had used his money to fulfill his dream. To open a youth center bigger than any other, in an area where it was desperately needed. He named it after his mother, who had moved out to live with him after the Team stopped taking jobs and BA could finally get himself his own house. He was overjoyed she lived long enough to see the difference his work created and the pride he took in it. And her pride in him. After many years, BA retired from the center after a long search for just the right people to take it over for him and run it responsibly. He moved into the same senior's complex Hannibal lived in. The colonel wasn't getting around very easily on his own and BA helped him out when he needed it. He also took it upon himself to take care of the flower gardens that surrounded the buildings. At eighty years old, he wasn't as muscular as he used to be, but hadn't let himself turn to flab either.

 

Face couldn't settle on just one profession. But no matter what he did, it was always profitable. He lived the playboy life--cars, women and jet-setting. The fast lane eventually became even too much for him and he slowed down. Now he seemed to be happy just talking like he still led a very active sex life; but talk was all it was and everyone knew it.

 

One of those profitable ventures Face handled was for his best friend. Murdock couldn't get a pilot's license through legal means because of his past psychological history. His dream was to open a flight school, but without a pilot's or teaching license this would be impossible. Face brought him out of his depression over this by using Murdock's money to buy him a toy store.

 

With what he thought would need endless patience he taught Murdock the management end of the business; making sure to point out that he'd never make a profit if he opened up and played with everything in the store. To his relief Murdock caught on fairly quickly. He knew Murdock was very intelligent and just needed pushed in the right direction.

 

Over a short amount of time, Murdock created his own management style and did it exceedingly well. His one store became a nationwide chain over many years with his corporate headquarters located in Los Angeles. He hired the woman he would eventually marry while still operating his first store. They spent thirty happy years together before she died from a quickly debilitating illness. They had one son, Howard, who took over the toy store chain after his father retired. Howie wasn't anything like his happy-go-lucky parents and Murdock often wondered what went wrong with the gene mixture when he was conceived. His son may be on the serious side, but he was a good man who worried about his father and his eccentricities. Howie and his wife had also given Murdock two grandchildren, whom he adored.

 

After his wife's death, Murdock grieved like any husband would, but after a time decided a change was needed. He couldn't stand to live alone anymore in the home that held so many memories. Even though he had a cook and housekeeper, it wasn't the same as having family with him. This was when he thought of building an entirely new home and inviting his extended family to live with him. Not his son, daughter-in-law or grandchildren; they all had their own lives. But his other family--Hannibal, BA and Face.

 

Through time they had all kept in touch, visited with each other fairly frequently, never wanting to lose the bond they had forged in the jungles of Vietnam all those years ago. Murdock was disappointed, but understood when both Hannibal and BA turned him down. Hannibal was happy where he was and didn't want the change. Said he was "too old to be moving around like a traveling circus". BA was also satisfied where he was and didn't want to leave his gardens he'd put so much work into. He didn't mention the fact that he thought he'd go insane if he had to live full-time with the 'crazy fool'.

 

Face was ecstatic over the idea and jumped in with both feet (and cane) to oversee the designing, building and decorating of Murdock's and his new playground. At least Murdock's part of the house was a playground. He could spend all his days indulging in a second childhood and loving every minute of it. His bedroom and playroom were filled with all his favorite things and outside were the larger toys, such as the train whose tracks went all over the large property.

 

They didn't keep it all to themselves either. They often had groups of underprivileged children from agencies Face kept track of and donated to regularly who could have the run of the place for an entire afternoon.

 

The two men often bickered over little things, but were happy to have each other's company in their declining years. In addition to having a cook and housekeeper during the day, Murdock's son insisted on hiring a nurse to live with them full-time to take care of their medical needs. Nurse Goodbie was the most recent in a long line of them. Usually, they couldn't take Murdock's including them in his playful fantasies or having Face pinching them and making lewd suggestions and would quit before long. But Connie Goodbie had been forewarned and knew what to expect. She humored them up to a point, often treating them like little boys and scolding them if they needed it. Like today.

 

************

 

After eating lunch and taking their vitamins under the nurse's watchful eye, Face and Murdock decided it would be nice to visit BA and Hannibal that afternoon.

 

"I'll drive you over," Nurse Goodbie told them. "Just let me get my purse."

 

"I can drive us perfectly fine, Miss Goodbody. You needn't bother," Face told her, then winked flirtatiously. "Unless you want to join me in the backseat."

 

"Oh stop calling me that!" she begged with a sigh. "And if you're going to drive, make sure you leave the top up on the car. I don't need either one of you coming down with a cold. You make my job difficult enough as it is."

 

"Yes, ma'am," Murdock gave her an overly innocent smile before she left the room. She didn't believe it for a second.

 

"Jag or Rolls?" Murdock pushed himself up from the table.

 

"Jag," Face responded. "I feel the need for speed."

 

His need for speed resulted in a trip that never went over thirty miles per hour, even though the speed limit was forty-five. The rebels ignored the nurse's warning and put the top down to enjoy the sunshine.

 

The aged Team members congregated in Hannibal's apartment. At ninety-nine years of age the colonel still had a full head of hair that was rather wild-looking. His back was hunched from age and he had to walk with the aid of a walker. One had to practically yell for him to be able to hear since he refused to wear his hearing aid most of the time. He also fell asleep quite easily; but then, they all did that.

 

BA had given up on his mohawk many years earlier. He now kept his head shaved. He still wore as much jewelry as his neck and fingers could hold up, but it was a much lighter load these days.

 

"So is that pretty nurse still working for you?" Hannibal asked, his head nodding slightly.

 

"You bet. Unless Face chases her off with his god-awful remarks." Murdock answered, giving Face the eye.

 

"Huh?" Hannibal held a hand up to his ear.

 

"I said yes, she's still with us!" Murdock said very loudly. He didn't dare make a facial expression that Hannibal could read as lofty. Their former leader didn't think anything was wrong with his hearing and hated it when people treated him with kid gloves due to his age. "Anything new been happenin' around here, Colonel?" Murdock asked him.

 

"Well, uhhh......" Hannibal thought for a minute, his wrinkled face scrunched in thought. "Seems to me they changed suppliers for the store." Then he shook his head annoyed. "Oh wait, that was last month." He looked confused as he tried to think. "Raised the prices, too," he muttered.

 

After a moment, Hannibal seemed to have lost track of what he was supposed to be thinking about and Face and Murdock looked to BA for help.

 

"They have been making some changes 'round here lately," the black man's raspy voice spoke up. "Like Hannibal tried sayin', they been gettin' cheaper off-brand stuff down at the store and raisin' the prices. Just last week they let go some of the staff and replaced them with people who don't seem know what they're doin' or care about it."

 

"Sounds like they're having financial troubles," Face said. "That's funny, though, because the last financial statements you received showed them in the black and quite comfortable."

 

The retirement community, Green Meadows Village, was an assisted-living condominium complex where it's residents could live independently but have help with medical needs, housekeeping, laundry service, transportation and such. The village had its own small grocery and drug store, and a post office for the convenience of the residents. It was a beautiful place with an already high price tag for all of its amenities and available activities. And had a long list of people waiting to get in because of its excellent reputation.

 

Hannibal suddenly raised a shaky finger. "My new Metamucil was already expired." He slowly lowered his finger and his head tilted off to the side as he fell asleep.

 

"And on that note......" Murdock said, chuckling. The conversation turned to other things between the three men remaining awake. If it had been forty--even thirty--years previous, the things BA had said would have raised their suspicions of foul play immediately. But being out of practice for so long, their antennas weren't as in tune as they used to be. It would be the next day when old instincts would begin to resurface.

 

***********

 

The next afternoon BA was pulling weeds from the dirt surrounding the flowers and plants that lay beneath the administration office's open windows. The village had its own landscape crew, but BA wouldn't let them mess with his flowers. He had glanced in the window before squatting down to take care of the weeds and saw the head administrator, Walter Harris, sitting at his desk with his back to the window. A few moments later he heard the start of the argument.

 

"What are you doing here?" BA heard Harris ask.

 

"I brought the necessary paperwork," a voice said.

 

Silence for a moment. The sound of pages turning angrily could be heard. "My god! You can't be serious! You expect me to just sign my job over to you?"

 

BA's curiosity led him back up to peek in the window, careful not to be seen by anyone inside. He saw a dark-haired man in an expensive suit leaning over Harris's desk.

 

"That's exactly what I expect you to do," the man said evenly.

 

Harris got up and stood at the side of his desk facing the other man. "Look, Shelby, I already agreed to let your supply warehouse stock the store and let you bring in people you said needed jobs. I think that's enough payment for your blackmailing!" Harris ran a nervous hand over his sweaty forehead.

 

"Well, I don't think it is," the man said. "And that's Mr. Shelby to you." Shelby smiled evilly and crossed his arms in front of himself. "You didn't want your Board of Directors finding out about your gambling problem. But what if they found out you cancelled the insurance on this place six months ago and that you were pocketing the premiums they're still paying?"

 

Harris went wide-eyed. "What!?" He obviously had no idea what Shelby was talking about.

 

Shelby smoothly presented another form from his inside coat pocket and handed it to Harris. An insurance cancellation notice. It was fake, but he wasn't going to tell Harris that. "It would be a shame if this beautiful retirement village went up in smoke, and there was no insurance to cover the damage. I wonder how many of those old fogies could be hurt--or killed--if there were a large fire."

 

BA's heartbeat sped up as he listened to this. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.

 

"But, ah......oh god!" Harris went to the sofa in the office and collapsed down onto it. He was at a loss as to what to do. "How would I explain this to the Board?" He ran his hands through his hair. "Why are you doing this to me!?"

 

"Because I can." Shelby picked up the forms from the desk along with a pen and brought them to Harris. "You can avoid all that nasty insurance business by signing over your position to me. I don't care what you tell the Board of Directors as long as it's good for me."

 

Harris stared at the forms, then knowing he was defeated, took the papers and signed where necessary. He could only look down at the floor as he handed them back to Shelby.

 

Shelby smiled as he checked the signatures. All seemed to be in order. "I'll give you a couple of days to deal with the Board and clear out your personal affects from my office." He waved his arm to show the large room was now his. He dropped the papers on the desk so Harris would have them to turn over to the Board. He went to the door, but before leaving he added, "It's been a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Harris."

 

BA ducked back down and shuffled as quickly as he could to the corner of the building. He got there just in time to see Shelby get into the back of a limousine with darkened back windows. He couldn't see the license plate number, but would remember the car. After it drove away, he stood there thinking for a moment. He had to do something. But what? BA couldn't stand the thought of a guy like Shelby taking over the place the way he had. He would have total control of what went on and thinking of the changes that had already taken place, it didn't sound like it would be very pleasant. What could he do? He remembered back decades ago when something like this would happen to someone, they would enlist the help of the A-Team.

 

"That's what we need," BA said to himself. "The A-Team. And that's us! I think it's time we called a Team meetin'." With angry eyes and an impassioned determination, BA made his way back to his apartment and picked up the phone.

 

 

Part 2

 

Face could hardly make out anything BA was saying over the phone. So excited and animated the explanation was, Face couldn't process it fast enough.

 

"BA, BA, slow down. Take it easy. Have you been drinking milk again? You know you're lactose intolerant." He sighed exaggeratedly, not realizing he had it all wrong. "Did you take your pills? They're in the medicine cab--"

 

"Shut up, you old fool!" BA roared in his ear so loud he had to move the phone away. Face stared wide-eyed at it and had no trouble hearing the rest. "You two high-tail it over here. NOW!" He flinched at the crashing sound of the phone at the other end being smashed against a countertop.

 

"What's got the mudsucker's shorts all bunched up?" Murdock asked, stopping his over-sized, battery-operated, motorized red tricycle several feet away.

 

"I don't know. I could hardly understand a word he was saying, except that he wants us over there quick." Face turned the phone off and laid it down on its brightly-colored M&M charging base. He sighed again. "Damn it! Nurse Goodbody was going to give my legs a rub down." He got a dreamy, lusty look over his features. "And anything else I can get her to rub."

 

Murdock rang the bell on his tricycle twice to get Face's attention back. "You'd be rubbin' the side of your face after she slapped you if you tried something like that. Well, let's go see what's got BA so excited." He got off his bike, then paused. "I hope nothing's wrong with Hannibal."

 

"He didn't say anything about Hannibal." Face heaved himself out of his chair. "Said something about his mail being black, a shell and a bee starting a fire and leaving in a limo." He shrugged and joined Murdock to walk out.

 

"Huh?" Murdock gave a dumbfounded look. "I think he's losin' his marbles."

 

"You'd know," Face cackled then had to catch himself when Murdock kicked his cane out from under him.

 

************

 

A little while later, BA yanked them both into his condo after they rang his bell. Hannibal was there looking very agitated, obviously already filled in. He was fidgety, shaking more than usual, red-faced and muttering something about dictators needing overthrown.

 

"What's up, big guy?" Murdock asked, taking a seat in BA's rocking chair.

 

Normally BA would have booted Murdock out of his favorite chair, but he was busy pacing back and forth with a very angry scowl to his face.

 

"Dang fancy-suited dude's tryin' to take over our home! That's what!" Feeling the need to release his anger he grabbed a vase and threw it to the floor. It failed to break on the plush carpeting. With a feral growl, he kicked it and grunted with satisfaction when it smashed into dozens of pieces against the wall.

"BA, calm down!" Face tried placating him. He hadn't seen BA this agitated in years. "Start at the beginning."

 

Still pacing and with an occasional right-handed punch to his left palm BA got the whole story out. Face and Murdock nodded in understanding as the phone conversation from earlier started making more sense. It was a very old tale with a very familiar theme.

 

"Nobody threatens to burn down my home and threatens to hurt innocent people!" BA ended. "I pity the fool who tries!"

 

"Those people Shelby had Harris hire are probably his thugs. No wonder they don't give a hoot about doin' their jobs right," Murdock said, his eyes narrowed.

 

"And if he takes over, who knows how far he'll go with his changes," Face chimed in with his summary. "Restocking the store with his supplies is just the tip of the iceberg. He could replace all the vending equipment, force new fees on anything he chooses, hike the rent up...... anything. And I'm sure the records he shows the Board will be much different than the real records would indicate. He could make a killing with this place."

 

"Dang Board of Directors ain't nothing but a bunch of in-pocket yes people." Hannibal muttered. He must have his hearing-aid in to be following the conversation.

 

BA knew what he meant if the others didn't. "The Board don't do much or have much input in anythin'. They give the administrator full run of the place, and since Harris has been doin' such a good job for so many years, they don't question him. They just sign on anythin' that's put in front of them."

 

"And they'll accept Shelby based on Harris's recommendation and Shelby will make sure he gives them a good showing," Murdock added. "At least on paper."

 

"Now what do we do 'bout it?" BA asked.

 

"What do we do about it?" Face asked, looking at Murdock, who also had that question in his eyes.

 

What could they do about it? They weren't a Team anymore. At least not like they used to be. They knew what they wanted to do, but they weren't soldiers of fortune anymore. They were old men. Old, tired, out of shape men.

 

"Well, we could......" Face hedged, clearing his throat, "talk to a police detective."

 

"Police?!" BA growled. He never had much use for police.

 

Murdock helped Face out. "Oh, come on. Be realistic. Look at us." He spread his arms. "The four of us combined couldn't make half a Rambo!"

 

"You couldn't make half a nut roll!" BA rebuked Murdock, who just stuck his tongue out at him. "What could the cops do? Shelby ain't done nothin' illegal yet, 'cept blackmail. I want to stop him 'fore he does something to hurt our neighbors."

 

The others knew BA was right. The desire to do this job themselves was definitely there, but they hadn't been an assault Team in forty years!

 

"What could we possibly do?" Face asked dejectedly.

 

There was silence for a moment. Then with a look of grim determination on his face, Hannibal slowly stood up and leaned on his walker with hardly a notice of any shaking.

 

"I'll tell you what we do." Hannibal pinned them each down with steely eyes. "We take that bastard down! We ain't never turned belly-up before and I don't plan on starting now. This is mine and BA's home and it's home to our neighbors. We like it the way it is and want to keep it that way. Now we may not be much with strength, speed, agility or stuff like that. But we have grit, determination and most of all...... pride. And pride in ourselves promotes confidence. We can do this."

 

Hannibal wished he had a cigar to clamp his teeth down on to add to the merry twinkle that came to his eyes. "And we'll have a hell of a lot of fun trying!"

 

The others smiled and then laughed at the memory of other inspirational speeches Hannibal had given in years past. They all went over to Hannibal and each placed a hand over his.

 

"All for one and one for all!" they said in unison.

 

The A-Team was back.

 

**************

 

They decided to get started that very day by talking to Walter Harris. The administrator was basically a good man. He did his job well, genuinely cared about the elderly people who lived in the village and did his best to provide them with an atmosphere of comfort and enjoyment in their retirement years. But like any man, he was human, and capable of making the mistakes and errors in judgment any human could.

 

Right now, he was beside himself with worry and grief over some bad decisions he had made with his personal life and how it had all snow-balled and would now effect the lives of those he cared for in his professional life.

 

He was sitting at his desk, head bowed in his hands, praying for some divine intervention when his secretary buzzed and announced he had visitors. He wasn't particularly in the mood to talk to anyone, but had never turned away residents from his office before and wouldn't treat them that way now. He stood up and tried to hide his anxieties when the group of four entered.

 

"Mr. Smith, Mr. Baracus, how may I help you?" He recognized Murdock and Face from their visits over the years and nodded a greeting to them.

 

"It's more like how we can help you, Walter," Hannibal told him, settling down into a chair in front of the desk.

 

"Oh?" At his questioning look, BA took up the explanation.

 

"I was outside your window earlier, and heard the meetin' you had with that Shelby fella." He watched as the administrator blanched and dropped himself down in his chair. "We ain't gonna let him do that to ya."

 

Harris wiped his hand over his mouth and down his jaw. "Look, you don't understand everything. It's my problem and I'll handle it. I don't want you to get involved." He honestly didn't want to put the residents of the village at any risk they didn't need to be.

 

"Like it or not, we already are," Hannibal told him. "We've dealt with scumbags like him enough times to know he ain't nothing but talk and scare tactics." He leaned forward to make Harris look him in the eye. "You ever hear of the A-Team?"

 

The middle-aged man looked surprised. He remembered stories from his childhood. True stories of a group of mercenary Robin Hood types who came to the aid of the oppressed. The name of their leader came to mind and his eyes became like saucers. He stared at each of them. "You mean you're......?"

 

"That's right, sonny. In the flesh." Murdock took off his old and tattered ball cap and bowed. He had to hold his lower back as he came back up and winced. "What's left of it," he muttered.

 

"Now why don't you tell us what trouble you're in that brought that vulture down on us." Hannibal was getting a look in his eyes that hadn't been there for a long, long time. One of renewed life. A vitality that had been lost slowly over many years.

 

With a humbled nod, Harris told his story. "A couple of months ago I made the mistake of letting a friend, Bradley is his name, talk me into joining a poker game. He and I and our wives have taken a few vacations to Vegas together, so he knew I enjoyed the game." He shook his head in shame. "I knew it was an illegal setup from the minute we were let in the door. They had an entire mini-casino set up in there. I was doing well at first, but eventually started losing. My second mistake was allowing Shelby to grant me credit." Harris raised a fist in anger and had to stop himself from slamming it down on his desk. "Before I knew it I was over fifty thousand dollars in debt to him."

 

"Where have we heard this before?" Face commented wryly, thinking back to similar cases they'd dealt with.

 

"I paid him back, with interest," Harris continued. "But he's been dogging me ever since. Threatening to expose things about me that just aren't true, blackmailing me into doing things for him. Now he expects me to sign over my position as administrator to him." He covered his downcast eyes with his hands and his next words were barely audible. "My life may as well be over."

 

"Ain't nothin' over till I say it's over!" BA stated. "Tell us about this Shelby guy."

 

Harris swallowed and got himself together. "His name is Jared Shelby. He owns a distribution and vending company; and he appeared to be in charge of that gambling den. He seems to be pretty well off and very persuasive when it comes to getting what he wants."

 

"A big bag of hot air is more like it," Hannibal gleaned from the information given. "He's probably done the same thing to others besides you. He feels very secure in his position because no one has stood up to him before. Until now, that is. This time, he's going to meet resistance."

 

A brief glimpse of hope came over Harris's features, but as he looked at the four elderly men and thought a moment, the look became one of doubt. "I don't want to sound disrespectful, but......" He wondered how he could word his thoughts. "I know the A-Team has done wonderful work.......in the past. But that was a very long time ago......when you were much younger." He eyed the men nervously, hoping he hadn't sounded insulting.

 

"Don't you go worrying about us," Hannibal told him. "Most of the work is in the planning." He tapped his head with his finger. "And our minds are still as sharp as nails."

 

He missed the quick glances the other three teammates gave each other. The glance that said "Who is he kidding? His plans were always full of holes!" But somehow, most of the time, they worked......with some imaginative last-minute adjustments.

 

"But what would you do?" Harris asked with concern. "I don't want any violence to come to the village. I can't put any of the other residents in danger."

 

Hannibal had a look of deep concentration. "What would be ideal is to have him busted in his little casino operation. I'm sure he moves it around. The first thing we need to do is find out where it is at the moment."

 

"We could catch one of his goons workin' here and beat it out of him," BA suggested with a punch to his palm.

 

"The great Baracan one at his best," Murdock slapped BA on the shoulder, which was answered with a growl.

 

"Wait a minute, wait a minute. Maybe I can help with that." Harris was excited over an idea and picked up his phone and started dialing. "My friend Bradley might know where it is. If he doesn't, I'm sure he knows someone who does." He knew his friend had no idea that Shelby had been blackmailing him since introducing him to the roaming gambling establishment.

 

The Team kept track of the one-sided conversation and knew they'd hit pay dirt when Harris hung up with a big smile. He gave them the address of an old house out on a country road, several miles away from the city and the hours it was expected to be operating, plus the code words needed for admittance.

 

"That's it then," Hannibal said. "We get out there tomorrow and put him out of business before he even opens up." With effort, he stood up with the aid of his walker. "Walter, you just tear up that resignation. Your worries are over."

 

Harris couldn't help but feel some trepidation. "I sincerely hope so, Mr. Smith."

 

The Team walked out of his office and started back towards Hannibal's condo. Face voiced the question that was on all their minds. "So, Colonel. What's the plan?"

 

"I'm working on it, Lieutenant." Hannibal gave a slow smile. His eyes were charged with an electricity not seen in decades. "BA? You still remember your chemistry?"

 

The other three men could see it radiating off Hannibal like extreme heat off blacktop. They remembered it well and it half-frightened them. It was unmistakable.

 

Hannibal was on the jazz!

 

 

***********

 

They piled into BA's van. No, not the black GMC with the red stripe. That one finally kissed it's last cylinder goodbye when it topped three hundred thousand miles. These days he drove the latest style of Chevy van. Still black, with all the amenities for comfort and tightly tuned to a fine purr.

 

They had all the equipment they'd need. They had stayed up as late as they physically could the night before preparing everything. They weren't as out of practice as they thought they would be, putting weapons together out of household items. They had no reason to keep guns anymore, but managed to put together an arsenal that should do the job.

 

Face and Murdock had run back to their house to gather some items. Nurse Goodbie stared at them from the chair she sat reading a book in as they rushed past her towards Murdock's playroom. Ten minutes later, with their arms loaded with various things, they rushed past her again with a fleeting mention that they'd be staying at Hannibal's that night. They were out the door before she could get a single word of protest in.

 

BA had gathered together various fertilizers, potting soil, clay, household cleaners, bug repellant and balloons to do his thing with. Face and Murdock redesigned a few of their toys, including re-engineering a Nerf ball-shooter to shoot golf balls. Hannibal mostly supervised, giving helpful advice here and there. His mind wandered occasionally; between envisioning how things would play out the next day and reliving similar experiences from the past. He couldn't wait for the fireworks to start.

 

Walter Harris watched from his office window as the van left the retirement village, silently wishing them luck. He felt extremely bad about putting them in danger and prayed they'd come back safe and unscathed.

 

On the drive away from the city, Murdock kept up an animated discussion about toys from the past, present, and toys of the future. Hannibal and Face amused him by taking part in the conversation. BA could have cared less and voiced his opinion several times during the drive.

 

All became serious though as they turned onto the dirt road that led them to the old farmhouse where Shelby had his gaming establishment setup.

 

"That's Shelby's car," BA pointed to the limousine parked at the side of the house. A few other cars were parked nearby. Employees, most likely, since the place wasn't due to open for another hour.

 

"I say we go for the most direct approach," Hannibal stated, pulling a cigar from his pocket and sticking it in his mouth without lighting it. The others stared at this, wondering where he produced it from since he hadn't smoked in several years. But they smiled, knowing the job wouldn't be complete without the traditional cigar...... or going through the front door.

 

BA, Face and Murdock gathered what they'd need from the back of the van. Nobody was outside to observe them, but it would have been an interesting sight to see three elderly men packing homemade heat hobbling along behind a fourth elderly man pushing a walker.

 

They stepped up on the porch and approached the front door. Hannibal motioned for Face to knock. The other three stood away out of sight. Face hid his "gun" behind his back and used his cane to tap on the door.

 

A moment later the door was opened a crack, prevented from being opened fully by a chain lock. A young man with red hair stuck his face out. "Whattya want?"

 

"Looks like a nice day for a game of croquet," Face smiled, using the code words Harris had told them.

 

The guy looked Face up and down, figured he looked like the type that would be a customer and that he was too old to be a cop. "We don't open for an hour. You'll have to come back then." Without waiting for a response, he closed and relocked the door.

 

Face looked off to his side. "Not a very sociable fella, is he?"

 

"Well, if he's not going to let us in politely, then we'll just have to get impolite," Hannibal said as they all stepped back several feet away from the door. He held his hand out. "BA?"

 

BA smiled. "I can do impolite." He reached into the backpack he carried and carefully lifted out a bomb. In this case, the bomb was a small balloon filled with just the right ingredients to match the power of a hand grenade that when meeting with an immovable force would explode on impact. It wasn't so sensitive though as to be set off by a bit of jostling in the backpack. At least he hoped.

 

BA thought a second before handing the bomb over. "Maybe you better take out your hearin' aid, or else this is gonna be awful loud."

 

"Good idea," Hannibal agreed, taking the device out of his ear and putting it in his shirt pocket. "Thanks, BA." He grinned as BA handed the bomb over. "Ready, Team?" He lifted the bomb like a pitcher getting ready to pitch a ball. He didn't need to hear their answer, since their covering their ears and turning their heads was answer enough.

 

Hannibal hefted the balloon bomb at the front door and quickly turned his head. The force of the explosion was enough to almost knock them off their feet. They recovered quickly and burst through the door which had been completely blown down. Hannibal had his hands full with his walker, but the others had weapons in hand when they were met by the dazed people inside.

 

Shelby was pulling himself up from behind a table, wide-eyed with shock. "What the hell is going on? Who are you people?"

 

"Your worst nightmare, sucka!" BA's eyes blazed.

 

"Now hold on a minute." Hannibal quickly put his hearing aid back in his ear and introduced themselves. "We're the A-Team. And your days of blackmailing and gambling are over, Shelby."

 

There were four other men besides Shelby and each reached into their tuxedo pockets to pull out guns. Shelby motioned for them to keep them down as he looked at the Team. Of course, he had heard old stories of them, but looking at them, he couldn't believe they were still around. Let alone busting into his casino.

 

He chuckled. "You're the A-Team?" He pointed at them as his laughter increased. "You-- you're going to put me out of business?" Shelby was finding this all very amusing and laughed harder. "Aren't those toys you're holding? What are you going to do? Nerf me to death?" His goons joined in his amusement until he cut them off. "Now why don't you old cronies go back to your nursing home or wherever it is you escaped from. You're obviously overdue for your medications." He used a shoo-shoo motion as if they were pesky children.

 

"I don't think he's taking us seriously, Colonel," Murdock said with a mock hurt look on his face.

 

Hannibal glared at Shelby. "You're going to leave Walter Harris and the Green Meadows Village alone. If you think you can just walk in and take over our home--" he cocked his head toward where the front door used to be. "--we'll level you just like that door."

 

Hearing about Green Meadows changed Shelby's disposition. That takeover would prove to be very lucrative to him and he wasn't going to let a bunch of old men stand in his way. He also seemed to suddenly remember they must have some kind of fire power with them to have busted down his door. This made him angry.

 

"Listen you old geezer. Just turn those old, wasted bodies of yours around and leave or you'll be meeting your maker all the sooner." His tone was now serious and threatening.

 

"Did he just call me an old geezer?" Hannibal asked.

 

"He sure did," Face said indignantly. "He also said I had an old, wasted body." He cocked the dart gun he was holding. "It's just not true."

 

"Guys," Hannibal removed his hearing aid, once again putting it in his shirt pocket. "I think it's time we taught that boy a lesson."

 

Murdock cocked his golf ball gun and handed Hannibal a second one. "A-Team style."

 

"Yeah!" BA agreed, reaching in his bag for a balloon.

 

As one of the goons took aim with his gun, Murdock quickly shot a golf ball at him, knocking the gun out of his hand. The man watched his gun fly, then stared in shock as Murdock aimed again. The next ball hit him square on his forehead, dropping him in an unconscious heap on the floor. Murdock grinned and blew imaginary smoke from the end of his gun.

 

Face took out the next one. His gun, originally designed to shoot suction cup darts, had been modified to powerfully shoot regular darts. He carefully aimed to hit parts of the body that wouldn't cause life threatening injuries. The man he had hit twice now was so shocked he stumbled heavily back into a couple of slot machines, knocking them down on top of his head.

 

BA and Hannibal were helping out by throwing bombs around the room, destroying the gambling equipment and sending the last two goons flying.

 

Shelby could only duck from flying debris. The shock on his face showed he wasn't used to being stood up against and couldn't believe this was all happening. As the room crumbled around him, he tried crawling along the floor to the kitchen and escape out the back door. Hannibal saw this and grabbed the lasso rope from BA's bag. Hannibal swung the rope, getting it spinning good, and tossed the looped end at Shelby.

 

It caught him, and Hannibal pulled tight when the rope slipped down around Shelby's chest and arms, entrapping him. Murdock helped drag Shelby back across the floor towards them and wrapped the rest of the rope around him, trussing him like a calf at a rodeo.

 

"Yee haw!" he squealed with delight at their catch.

 

The entire scene had last only a couple of moments, and the room looked like a tornado had gone through it. They got more rope and tied up the other goons, putting them with their boss on the floor. The police were called and Face attached a note to Shelby's jacket that read, "My name is Jared Shelby. This is my illegal casino. Please arrest me."

 

Hannibal put his hearing aid back in, and with his cigar dangling from his lips, grinned and looked around. It was just like old times and his eyes grew misty. "I love it when a plan comes together."

 

The other three were glad Hannibal was able to feel the glory of a capture once more. They felt pride in themselves, too; for a job well done.

 

They took off just moments before the police came. They didn't feel it prudent to hang around and explain about the explosives they'd made and used.

 

They went back to the retirement village and informed Harris that he wouldn't be bothered by Shelby any longer. And that the police, nor the Board of Directors, would know anything about his being blackmailed over gambling illegally. Shelby sure wouldn't voluntarily add anything he didn't have to to his list of charges. Harris was visibly relieved to see the Team back safe and happy his job was secure. He thanked them profusely and vowed never to gamble again. He was also going to fire all the people Shelby had forced him to hire and bring back those who were let go.

 

Murdock and Face invited BA and Hannibal to spend the night at their home so they could talk about their adventure and watch the complete news coverage in the morning together. Nurse Goodbie fussed over all of them, demanding to know why they were so exhausted and covered in dust and soot. She managed to evade Face's roaming hand as he told her they had just gone out for some fun.

 

"I can just imagine what kind of trouble you got yourselves into. You're just a bunch of overgrown boys!" She hmphed and left to prepare baths for them. When she was out of sight of the others, she smiled and thought to herself how she hoped she enjoyed life as much when she was old.

 

**********

 

The next morning the Team watched the news report as they ate breakfast. They weren't too surprised to learn that Jared Shelby had been under suspicion by the Feds not only for gambling, but extortion as well. Several counts on both, among other smaller related charges. There was no doubt that he'd be going to prison for a long, long time.

 

There was no mention of the Team's involvement in the capture. Which was good, because they didn't want reporters or police hounding them. Maybe Shelby had been too embarrassed at being thwarted by a bunch of "old geezers" that he wouldn't admit to who had topped him. They didn't really care as long as they still had their privacy.

 

Satisfied with the outcome, they talked about how good it had felt to be needed that way again. They also knew it would only be a one-time thing. They knew they still had what they'd had all those years before when they were in their prime. And that was enough.

 

 

~~The End~~

 

 


Seems Like Old Times by SherryGabs

 

 


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