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This page last viewed: 2017-09-17 and has been viewed 2236 times
In response to Pams Stormy Weather Challenge.
A night in the life of some of the team members.
It was amazing, but when most people called, it sounded more like a question. But when BA called, it always sounded a bit like a command.
"Yeah, BA," Face smiled at the leggy brunette who was making herself comfortable on his couch.
"You gotta go over to the Colonel's."
"Do you have any brandy?" She had a breathless voice.
"Who you callin 'honey'?!"
"I'll sorry you, right into next week. You gotta go see the Colonel."
"Ah, BA, Rachel just got here."
"Raquel," she whispered.
"Don't know her well, do you?" BA snickered into the phone.
"This is a get acquainted meeting, BA, and you're not helping the process." Face smiled again at Raquel and put a hand to his tie and smoothed it with a familiar gesture.
"Well, acquaint her some other time."
"What's the big deal? Weren't you just there?"
"Yeah, and just as I was leaving, I heard "Stormy Weather"."
Face turned away from Raquel, his attention now fully focused on the phone conversation. "Billie or Ella?"
"Do me a favor, call a cab to come over here to pick up Raquel." Face hung up without waiting for an answer.
"Raquel, honey. I'm sorry, but something's come up."
She pouted. Face would have laughed, if her bottom lip hadn't hoped to salvage the relationship.
"A friend took ill, suddenly."
"Oh, is it serious?" She scooted back to the edge of the couch and slipped on her black Farragamo sling-back pumps.
"I hope not, but I need to check. I'm so sorry." He pulled off his tie and unbuttoned the collar button. He tossed his jacket over the back of a chair and reached for his black leather jacket. After settling it on his shoulders, he helped her into her wrap.
He checked his pockets to insure he had his keys, his wallet and four Montecristo Robusto cigars. Minutes later, he was passing a pair of twenty-dollar bills to a cabby. "Make sure she gets home safely and you can keep the change."
"My grandmother couldn't be any safer."
Face looked in through the window at Raquel in the back seat. "I'll call you later in the week and we'll try again."
"Okay Tem, I hope your friend feels better."
He tapped the roof of the car, and as the driver set the meter clicking, Face headed for his Corvette. With only one quick stop along the way, he was in the parking lot of Hannibal's apartment less than thirty minutes after BA's call.
As he locked the door to his car, he looked up at the apartment. It was an older building in the middle of Century City. It looked like half the other apartments in the area with a locked gate at the front and a small balcony outside each apartment. Some of them were decorated with various houseplants, a few with old bicycles and unused barbecue grills. And one still had Christmas lights wrapped around the railing.
Hannibal had lived in this apartment for almost eight years now. It was the only stable thing in their usually chaotic lives. They never met clients here. Face paid the rent in cash every month.
Letting himself in with his own key, he moved around the pool to the open staircase that led to the second floor. They'd chosen the second floor on purpose, in case they ever needed to jump to the ground level. So far, it hadn't been necessary. So far, the military hadn't gotten wise to this place. So far.
Face jogged up the stairs, not at a pace fast enough to raise a sweat, but enough to feel the burn in his calves.
Apartment 231 was in the middle of the long row of apartments, with a view of the parking lot. The apartment across the hall, number 232, had a bright pink floral mat with "Welcome" boldly emblazoned in white script letters.
Face knocked on the door and waited for a very long minute before using his key to let himself in.
A large stereo console filled one wall. Its lid was up and a 45 record was spinning on the turntable. The haunting melody of Billie Holliday's "Stormy Weather" wafted softly. The sliding door was open to the balcony and Face could see that one of the patio chairs was occupied.
"Hey, Hannibal. Whatcha' doin'?"
The colonel looked down at his watch. "You made good time. I gather BA called."
Face moved out onto the darkened balcony and found a chair in the corner. He set it down next to his commander's chair and mimicked his position, slouched a little low in the chair, his feet up on the railing. From this position, he could see dark clouds beginning to block the stars over the building across the street.
"Yeah, you know how he worries."
"For the love of heaven, Face." The words were meant to show his exasperation, but they were too softly spoken.
"So, you want to tell me what brought Billie to the door?"
Face nodded. "Want a drink?"
Hannibal picked up a glass that had been down by the leg of his chair. Ice tinkled wetly in the half-filled tumbler.
"Mind if I have one? I brought my own." He pulled a bottle of Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch from a brown paper bag and handed it to the Colonel. "You open that and I'll get a glass."
When he came back from the kitchen, the bottle was open, and the Colonel had poured his ice and whatever else had been in the glass into the potted ficus in the corner. "Really shouldn't drink Scotch with ice."
Face again nodded his understanding, and after filling his glass, resumed his seat and again propped his feet up on the railing.
The record clicked and whirred and started playing again. They sat together in silence for the entire length of the song and about a quarter of a glass.
"It's her birthday."
"Ah," Face nodded and sipped his drink.
"I told you about her, didn't I?"
Face nodded again. There was an unwritten rule that what had been said in the camps didn't count. But anything said any other time was acceptable.
"How long were you married?"
"About twelve minutes."
Face chuckled when he was supposed to, but it was more from habit.
"You said that last time I asked. How long really?"
"Seven months on paper, but we only had a few weeks together. And a few weekends in Tokyo."
Slow, fat raindrops hit the pavement with a thick, wet sound. Together they made the ground begin to shine.
There was a long silence followed by a heavy sigh.
"You think I'm stupid, don't you?"
"Nah, my baggage comes with two handles."
The silence rested between them as they watched the rain change from a sprinkle to a downpour. The record started again.
"Do you think," Face sipped at his Scotch before continuing. "Do you think that we're making it rain with this record playing over and over?"
"I could turn it off," Hannibal offered, but didn't move from his chair.
"The last time we listened to this song and drank Scotch, it poured buckets, remember?"
"In Kansas, wasn't it?"
"Omaha. Kansas City was the time before that, and we had hail the size of golf balls."
"Oh, I remember that. BA almost had a heart attack trying to get the van under cover." Hannibal let go with a soft chuckle.
"Have you ever thought of looking her up?"
Hannibal drained his glass and held it out for a refill. Face obliged. A low rumble stirred the air, it could have been an eighteen-wheeler except it came from above.
The question hung in the air, like the thunder, and like the thunder, it went unanswered.
They sat together watching the rain as it slowed and then stopped. Car tires made a sound like bacon frying. The air had taken on a chill and a thick quiet, and it was as if a fog had settled between them.
"We should move inside." Hannibal took his feet down off the railing and Face matched his movements.
They turned toward each other, and Hannibal stopped Face from getting up by placing his hand on the younger man's knee. "You didn't have to come by, but thanks."
"What?" Hannibal was puzzled by the seemingly out of place expletive.
"I brought some Montecristo's."
Hannibal laughed again. This time it was a warm, genuine laugh. "We can smoke inside, you know."
"I know, but it's not the same." It was almost a whine and it produced another chuckle from the commander.
Hannibal got to his feet and moved inside. With a quick flick of his wrist he switched off the stereo.
Face moved into the kitchen, and set the bottle and the glasses on the sideboard, while Hannibal found the remote, and flicked through the channels until he settled on Johnny Carson.
Face dropped onto the sofa and pulled off his loafers.
"You're staying?" Hannibal asked, as he dropped onto the other end and propped one foot on the coffee table.
Face passed across a cigar and pulled open the ebony inlaid humidor. He picked up a cutter lying on the red velvet, and snipped off the end of his cigar. Hannibal had already bitten off the end of his and dropped the nub in the ashtray.
"I wanted to have the cigar, and I really shouldn't drink and drive."
Hannibal only nodded. There were times when words weren't necessary.
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