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This page last viewed: 2017-07-25 and has been viewed 2203 times
The 7-Day Itch
By JD Sampson
Summary: A very long van ride is about to become even more uncomfortable for the team.
Comments: Love them
"Murdock! Quit it!" BA shouted, a few decibels higher than his normal growl. "I'm trying to drive!"
"He keeps kicking my seat!" BA cut in. "The fool's been kicking my seat since we left that diner two hours ago."
"Two hours ago!" Murdock whined. "Feels like eight hours ago. Feels like eight days ago!"
"Told you this was a bad idea," Face said, adding his two cents, his eyes scanning the Wall Street Journal. "815 miles and we had to drive."
"Drive," Murdock scoffed, pulling his feet up on to the seat. "If this angry-mudsucker wasn't such a big baby we could have scammed a plane and been there all ready."
"Don't care!" BA pressed harder on the accelerator pushing the van up to 75. "We're driving now and kicking my seat ain't going make us get there any faster."
"You could have flown on ahead of us,"
"But I didn't want to go alone."
"Face would have gone with you."
At the sound of his name, Face looked up from his paper. "What? Oh, sure. Whatever."
"At least you've got something to do," Murdock wriggled in his seat, trying to get his legs under him. "I wish I could read."
"Where's your book?"
"It's in the back, but it doesn't matter. I tried reading and I got car sick."
Face set his paper down.
"You never get car sick. As
a matter of fact, you're the only adult I know who can ride the teacups at
"I know." Shovel-lipped, Murdock slung his legs over the arm of the seat then slipped down to a half-laying position. "I'm all uncomfortable and itchy and it's making me cranky."
"Listening to you speak, is making me cranky!"
The big man muttered something under his breath, but
"Should have flown," Murdock said as he raked his fingers across his chest. "All hot and sticky."
"It's not that hot in here," Face said, then on second thought, he leaned closer to his friend. "But now that you mention it, you are kind of flushed."
"Does a flush beat a full house?"
The van swerved to the right then came to a jolting stop. "Picnic area," BA announced. "Take it outside!"
Face rolled his eyes, drawing a snicker from Murdock, then he slid open the panel door of the van.
BA had pulled into a small rest stop which included such amenities as six splintering wooden picnic tables, two broken stone water fountains, an overflowing, fly infested trash can and a port-a-potty which wasn't worth the risk.
When Murdock stepped out of the van, he stretched his lanky body, yanked his shirt free of his pants and scratched. "Man, I itch."
"I don't know." Murdock lifted his shirt as high as it would go. A dozen puffy red blisters covered his stomach and chest.
"Oh no." Face took a step back. "Poison ivy?"
"Chicken pox," said BA.
"Chicken pox?" Murdock peered down at himself. "Where did I get chicken pox?"
"From little Jose Gomez down at the center. You were playing with him when you visited two weeks ago. His grandma told me he couldn't make the game last Saturday cause he had the chicken pox."
Murdock lifted his arms then let them fall to his side with a slap. "Well, that's just great."
"Well, we were kinda poor, we didn't have the luxuries that other kids had."
"Chicken pox." Face took a step backward. "That's like, really contagious, isn't it?"
"Very," said BA. "The doctor at the center said you could catch it from just breathing the same air as the infected person. But you don't got to worry, Faceman. If you had it as a kid, you can't get it again."
Face took another step backwards. "I'm not sure."
"Everybody has chicken pox as a kid," said
"Well, obviously, I didn't," said Murdock.
Face took another step backwards. "Isn't chicken pox really serious when you're adult? Like REALLY serious."
Murdock's brow furrowed. "What do you mean serious? Like I could die serious?" Then he clucked.
"Death isn't what I'm worried about." Face moved so BA was standing between him and the pilot.
"Face, I can't protect you from no disease. Standing behind me ain't gonna help. Besides, it's too late anyway."
"Sure, the doc said you could catch it before the blisters show up. And seeing as how you two shared a bed a couple of nights ago.. ."
"That's it! I'm doomed."
"You're doomed? What about me?" Murdock raked his fingernails across his stomach.
"Don't scratch," said
"But I gotta scratch!"
BA grumbled, then stalked around to the back of the van.
"And can we go back to serious, please. What exactly happens to adults who have chicken pox? I mean, kids get it, and they all turn out fine. What's with the adults? How bad can it be?"
Face dropped down to sit on one of the splintery picnic benches. "Oh not so bad, unless of course you ever intend to have children!"
Murdock lifted his shirt and peered at his belly, suspiciously. "I didn't know I could have children. My mama said only girls could have children." Then he clucked.
"What he means," said
"Here!" BA handed Murdock a pair of white cotton socks. "Put them on."
Murdock lifted up one sneaker-covered foot. "I have socks on already, but thank you."
"Not for your feet, fool. For your hands. Put them on your hands so you can't scratch so hard."
"Good thinking, BA,"
Murdock considered this for a moment, then, seemingly pleased with the idea he slipped one sock on his left hand. "Are you sure, you want me to do this? Are you SURE you want me to put socks on my hands?"
"Just do it and let's get moving." But as soon as he said it, he realized what he had walked into.
Murdock slipped the second sock on his right hand, then instantly his hands became animated. "Socky has a new friend! A girl friend, name Susie Sweet!" Forming two talking puppets Murdock pressed the tips of his fingers together while making an intense kissing noise with his lips.
"You've done it now," Face grumbled.
"What we need is a drug store," said
"Yeah," BA agreed, "Maybe we can buy some sleeping pills!"
"God's busy," said Murdock. "Leave him alone." Then he climbed back into the van with Susie and Socky discussing their future together.
"Exposed? Flailed open, is more like it." But he climbed in and took his usual seat.
They rode in relative silence for a good fifteen minutes, silence being Murdock's soft puppet whispering and nothing else. But as the clock ticked, the 'puppets' became more agitated and finally Murdock had to speak for himself.
"Faceman, Socky's really worried now. See he and Susie were thinking of settling down and raising a family of baby booties but he's concerned about these complications that you mentioned."
"Look, I'm not even sure if it's true. It could just be an old wives tale."
"In my experience, old wives are very reliable. What have you heard?"
Face shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Just that, when a grown man gets chicken pox, he can experience some swelling. . . in the family jewels."
Murdock frowned as he clamped his legs together, tight. "Swelling?"
"Swelling. Which could, of course, lead to damage."
"Irreparable damage." Face carefully crossed his legs.
Murdock considered this, then suddenly his whole body relaxed. "No big deal. They don't let you have sex at the VA anyway – unless of course, you're a nurse or doctor."
"Just you stay out of this,
"Parts," said Murdock, then he clucked and flapped.
"There's a town coming up," BA reported. "Five miles."
"Thank God," said
"I told you he's busy." Socky looked at Susie. "Sorry, bright eyes, but fate has thrown us a cruel and unusual blow." He switched to a high-pitched squeaky voice. "It's all right, darling, I'll love you anyway." Murdock batted his eyelashes. "I'll love you anyway, Face."
Grrrrr. "There must be a vaccine for this."
"You're already exposed!" BA and Hannibal said in unison.
Face began to scratch. "I can't believe this. And how are we going to work this job if I get chicken pox? How can I con when I'm scratching!"
"First things first, Lieutenant. A drug store, then a motel room. I remember something about oatmeal baths."
"Oatmeal? I like mine with honey drizzled over the top."
"Murdock, you don't eat the oatmeal, you soak in it."
"Sounds lumpy." Cluck.
"Han-I-bal….." BA warned.
"Keep your eyes on the road and watch for a drug store – will you, please?"
"I don't know why we ride with him," Susie sock commented. "He's just plain mean." Socky was about to respond, but his words dissolved into a shiver. "Remember when I said I was hot? Well, now I'm cold."
"A fever," said
Face sighed. "Hang on, I'll get you a blanket." With one more scratch, Face got out of his seat then crawled into the back of the van. There were four duffel bags piled on top of one another and cabinets in the sides. He opened the nearest one and pulled out a blanket and small pillow. After spending more than a few nights sleeping in the van, they had learned to keep the cabinets stocked with a few creature comforts. "Here you go." Face helped Murdock adjust the back of his seat to a reclining position, set the pillow under his head then unfurled the blanket over his body. "You're a pest, you know that."
Murdock pulled the blanket up to his chin. "I didn't mean to get sick."
"I know." Face pressed the back of his hand against Murdock's forehead. "Wow, he's pretty warm."
"What do chickens get?" Murdock asked, his eyes sliding closed. "People pox?"
Face laughed. "You know, he swings faster than two kids in a jitterbug contest."
They ended up in a no-tell motel.
Stuck in the roll of mother hen, (quite literally),
He could hear them in the motel room, Face whining, BA grousing, socks talking.
Yes indeedy, it was time for a break. He shut off the tub just before the water reached the top then left the bathroom.
"Captain, soak. Lieutenant, supply officer – order us some food. Sergeant – map out a route, find me a short cut to where we're going and mark the medical facilities along the way in case he gets worse."
"And, prey tell, what will you be doing, Colonel?"
"Reconnaissance, Lieutenant. Securing
the perimeter and all that stuff.
"I guess rank has its privileges," said Face, then he scratched. Dubious, he yanked his shirt free of his pants to examine his chest. Nothing. "How about my back?" He turned so BA could get a clear view.
"Nothing, man. You ain't got chicken pox. And anyway, that's not where you'd see them first."
"No, man." BA sat down at the standard motel table, then unfurled a map. "The doc said that the pox usually start where it's sweaty and dark."
Face's eyes narrowed. "Don't even go there."
"Avast ye maties!" Came the call from the bathroom. "Lower the poop deck and hoist up the sails." Splash.
"At least someone's having a good time." Face flopped down on the bed, grabbed the remote then turned on the TV. "How long does it take?"
"How long does what take?" BA asked, totally absorbed in his map.
"How long does it take for the symptoms to show up?"
BA growled. "Aw, give a rest already."
Face closed his mouth, then scratched.
She was beautiful. Full here, curvy there, with pouty lips that were just begging to be sucked on. Heaven.
Face wrapped his arms around the woman, pulling her down with him as he lay on the bed. "Hmmm, you smell good."
"Really?" She crushed her mouth to his taking his breath away. "And you taste good."
She came back for more, lips on lips, tongues searching, her long-fingered hands caressing his chest. "Better than good. Fantastic."
"Fantastic." He slipped his hands down to the hem of her sweater, then pulled upward until he freed her of the garment. The bra she was wearing underneath barely contained her ample breasts – the very sight of her making him. . . .
Face switched tracks.
The very sight of her. . . .
Hmmm. . .
"What's the matter, baby?" She dipped forward until her silk covered nipples brushed his lips.
There. That did it. Didn't it?
Face lifted his hips beneath her, anticipating the delicious strain of his arousal pushing against his jeans.
"Aw, does baby need a little help?" She slipped down to sitting on his thighs. Slowly, teasing, she pulled down the zipper on his pants, parted them, then reached inside. The smile faded from her lips. "Geez, I've known beagles that were bigger."
A pillow hit Face in the face.
"Shut-up, I'm trying to sleep."
He sat bolt upright, heart pounding, barely able to breath. It was a nightmare. It had to be a nightmare. Face reached over and switched on the bedside light.
"What now?" BA complained.
"Just a second," Face shot back. "I need.. . .oh no!" His chest was covered with small red dots. "Chicken pox!!! Murdock!"
"What's the matter, Faceyman?" Murdock said, sitting up on the roll-away cot that was his bed.
"Look at me! I'm covered in spots!"
BA giggled – a maniacal, horrible sound.
"This isn't funny! I swear! I've had it with you guys. I'm done with A-Team. I am NEVER going on a job with ANY of you again." Face dragged his nails across his chest.
"You really shouldn't scratch, Face," said Murdock. "Want to borrow Socky?"
The motel room door opened, then
slammed shut behind
"Look at me!" He jumped out of bed and ran to confront Hannibal. "Look! Chicken pox and I had this dream – this nightmare. I was with this girl and. . . " He was so furious he couldn't even speak.
"What happened with the girl, Facey?" Murdock pushed. "Didn't like the size of your. . " Face gave him a warning look. "Feet. I was gonna say feet."
"You know, for a sick guy, you're pretty damned healthy!" Face made a dive for him but Hannibal grabbed his arm and held on.
"Just a minute. Just a minute." He bent down to take a closer look at Face's bare chest. "You don't have chicken pox. What you have is a bad case of 'best buddy with a red Magic Marker'."
Murdock burst into a fit of giggles with BA's high-pitched laugh joining in.
"Marker! I'll kill you both." Face made another dive, but Hannibal yanked back, swinging his Lieutenant off his feet and into a chair.
"That's enough. I can't believe you guys. Fighting and carrying on like a bunch of kids who have been stuck in the house for too long. Do you know what I was thinking about while I was driving?"
"No what?" Face grumbled.
"Oh, what a pleasant diversion."
"I was thinking about the prison camp." Hannibal turned a steely eye on BA and Murdock who both instantly stopped laughing. "And I want all three of you to THINK about the prison camp." He paused, waiting until he had their complete attention. "I want you all to remember what it felt like. Six, eight guys crammed into a space no bigger than that bathroom. No bathroom, filthy water for washing, drinking, it was all the same. Guys crying, not because they were bored or tired but because they were dying inside." He glanced at Face and saw that he was gazing at the pattern on the carpet. "Look at me, Lieutenant!"
His head lifted on command, a touch of defiance in his blue eyes.
"I want YOU to remember when the guards whipped you for back talking, then drenched you with putrid sludge and left you in the sun to bake. When they tossed you back in the cage your back was covered in disgusting, festering, bug infested sores. Still, Murdock held you in his arms like a baby and told you stories to keep you from going crazy while I cleaned your wounds."
The defiance faded into shame.
Hannibal turned on BA. "And I seem to recall, that it wasn't even Face they wanted that day. It was you, BA, but you were hurting. You weren't ready for another round, so Face drew the guards on to himself, pushed until they took him instead of you. And Murdock—"
Murdock held up his hand. "You don't have to say anymore."
"I think I do."
Silence, each of them turning away as Hannibal set his stare upon them.
Murdock was the first to speak. "I'm sorry, Colonel. You're right, and I know that sometimes I go over board with the talking socks and the pranks, but its just because I feel at home with you guys and I really appreciate having you all around when I'm not doing so good. Really."
"And I know I make a lot of fuss," BA chimed in. "Especially, about Murdock, but it's just talk – you know. I don't really mean most of the things I say and well, my mama raised me to be more tolerant than that, so I guess I better try a little harder."
Hannibal turned to his Lieutenant. "Face?"
"Okay, so getting chicken pox wouldn't be the worst thing in the world that ever happened to me. Murdock, I know you're uncomfortable and I should have done what I could to help you feel better, not complain about my own problems."
"That's better. Now, Face, go take a shower and see if you can wash off all that ink before you get marker poisoning."
Head hanging, Face disappeared into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
"As for you two. . ." Hannibal dropped down on to the bed Face had been sleeping in then proceeded to slip off his boots.
"Well, it was mean, but wouldn't say it was uncalled for." Hannibal hesitated, waiting until the shower was going full blast. "See, I figured Face would have to go the café next door to pick up some food. So I paid the waitress fifty bucks to come on to him, then tell him he didn't have the cajones to give her a happy."
"No way!" Murdock fell back on his bed nearly doubled over with laughter. "He didn't say anything about that when he came back with the food."
"I'm sure he didn't."
"But come to think of it," said BA, "He did look a little green. Poor guy."
"Oh man, you set him up, then we knocked him down." Murdock stopped laughing. "Hey wait a minute, so what was with that whole brotherly love speech you just gave us all?"
"No, I really did mean that. I guess I felt a little guilty after I paid the girl and drove out of here." Hannibal stretched out on the bed, arms folded beneath his head. "Sometimes it's good to think about the bad days, if only so you can appreciate how much better things are now." He closed his eyes and sighed away the troubles of the day. He would leave them all to think and think they would. Tomorrow would be better, and maybe even the day after that but after awhile, they'd go right back to being who they were, the uniquely different trio that he had come to think of as his family.
And maybe that was why they squabbled so, because they were family. Murdock's antics, BA's growling, Face's whining; they would never change and he didn't really want them to. Without their faults, they wouldn't be his 'A-Team'.
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