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"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I know, I'm late, so sue me." Murdock fumbled out the keys to his apartment as he hurried towards the door. Face and BA were waiting there, both scowling at Murdock.
"You said ," BA growled as Murdock let them in.
"Well it's only ." Murdock said.
"Yeah, well you ain't had to listen to Face talking about all his crazy clients for the past twenty minutes."
"Oh, like I could get a word in with you talking about football…"
Murdock left them arguing, dumped his bag in the bedroom and went to the fridge to bring back beers and of course milk, passing them to Face and BA who were now sitting on Murdock's couch.
"I hate these long jobs," he complained. "What's today? Thursday? Man, I've been out of town for a week! Did you guys miss me?"
"Yeah," BA said.
Murdock grinned in delight. "You did, big guy? You really missed me?"
"Sure. Now stand still while I reload."
Face high-fived BA without looking. Murdock flopped down in his favourite chair and dangled his legs over the arm.
"Fine, no chips for you guys." He said, sulking.
"What were you smuggling this time?" Face asked, taking a notebook and pen out of his briefcase.
"Transporting." Murdock corrected.
"Transporting. Erm, I think it was, ah, essential medical supplies. Yeah
that was it. Insulin, anti biotics, polio vaccine, you know." Well that
sounded more heroic than crates full of Twinkies for
an eccentric reclusive tax exile who lived on a small island in the middle of
"Okay," Face said, "let's get down to business."
Murdock pretended to fall asleep. Face ignored him.
"Right. As we all know it's
"If we all know why did you just tell us?" BA asked.
"I'm not sure…" Face said, frowning. He was also
feeling strangely compelled to tell them that they had agreed to meet here
tonight to discuss plans for the party. But since they also already knew this
he restrained himself. "Okay, so ideas? I'll go first." Murdock, who
had apparently been about to launch into his idea, subsided. "What we do
is book the ballroom at one of the top hotels, or country clubs. I can get a
great deal on catering, fifty bucks a head, with caviar. I'll invite all my
"I suppose it would be black tie?" Murdock asked. He was wriggling around trying to get comfortable; his back still ached from a long flight in a cramped cockpit.
"Naturally." Face said. "What do you think? BA?" BA did not look impressed.
"Naw, man, who needs all that trouble? We should go for dinner, just us. And not one of your fancy French joints, someplace they fill up your plate."
"Well a meal could be nice I suppose," Face said. "Murdock?" He turned to Murdock, who had finally got comfortable and was now lying on his back on the seat, head dangling over the front edge of the seat, legs hooked over the back. He was trying to figure out how to drink his beer in this position.
"Well," Murdock opined. "I'm sure those are very fine ideas, both of them. For really, really boring people, that is. But, crazy man that I am, I have this wild idea that a party should actually be fun. So what I propose is we invite a load of people, get in a ton of booze and mix the two together."
"That's it?" Face asked, looking at Murdock's upside down grin. "That's the best you can come up with? A… a kegger? This isn't college, Murdock."
"Face, trust me, keep things simple. Simple is good. Now I assume we're going for 'surprise' again?"
"So, how's the planning for
my surprise party coming along?"
"Party?" Murdock attempted to look innocent.
"Well, there had better be a party, or else you guys will be on ten mile runs and obstacle courses for a week."
"We'll see about that."
"Yeah, okay, of course there's a party. You will act surprised won't you?"
"Sure. Set up a camera, it'll be Oscar worthy."
"And by 'act surprised' I don't mean stagger around clutching your chest, like you did at your sixtieth." Murdock said sternly.
"That was funny!"
"I'll never forget poor Face's expression. I swear he nearly fainted with fright. So, 'surprised and delighted' okay, not 'dying of shock'."
"Oh you're no fun anymore."
"Oh, I think, pretty much everyone."
"Wait a second!" Face protested. "When did we agree to hold the party at my place?"
"Well it's the biggest." BA said. "And with all the people we're inviting…"
"And you have that big closet beside the door for all the coats. It'll be ideal." Murdock's reasoning was, he hoped, flawless.
"And you got good insurance don't ya?" BA asked.
Face was looking stressed. Planning The Party had become his obsession for the last two weeks. Everything anyone said to him reminded him of something he had to do for The Party. If someone had told him Jesus Christ had returned to Earth Face would have asked if he wanted to come to The Party.
Murdock was scanning the latest version of the guest list.
"Amy, cool. Mrs Baracus, hey great, BA, be lovely to see her. Frankie and Rosita, Tawnia…" he looked at Face. "No Brian?"
"Ah. Brian's really dedicated to his archaeology isn't he? He spends about eleven months of the year on digs where Tawnia can't even contact him by phone." The three men looked at each other.
"Yeah," Face said. "He's dedicated all right."
Murdock went on scanning the list. "Maggie. Hey, is
"I don't know." Face admitted. "If he doesn't give me a straight answer to that one day soon I think I'll have BA beat it out of him."
Murdock looked at the list again. "Aw, man, we're inviting Kyle?"
"You're inviting Dougie Kyle?"
Murdock and Hannibal were in a sports bar in
"Face insists it's what you'd want." Murdock confirmed.
"Murdock, if someone changes their ways thanks to their…" he grinned "Encounter with the A-Team, we should support that, right?"
"So we punish the bad behaviour and reward the good?"
"Just like house training a puppy."
"Do you ever think, "Murdock said slowly. " That his whole conversion thing is just a very elaborate scheme to get us off guard?"
"What? Going to jail for ten years, finding God, being baptised, becoming a lay preacher, giving up all worldly vices and studying the Bible eight hours a day?" He paused. "Yeah, maybe. Keep an eye on him."
"You invited Lynch and Decker?"
"Yeah. I hope they come. I made sure their invitations say that it's fancy dress."
Murdock's grin was pure evil.
"Wow, Face, you've really gone for the minimalist look in a big way." Murdock said, carrying a box of party decorations into Face's house.
"Yeah, man, where's all your stuff?" BA asked, following Murdock carrying three boxes of party decorations.
All my stuff is in storage," Face said. "And the carpet and upholstery cleaner is booked for tomorrow."
"Nine?" Murdock said. "That's too early. If things go as planned the party will still be going on then."
"Hah!" Face said. "I think not. If anyone is still here after I'm setting the dogs on them."
"You ain't got any dogs." BA pointed out.
"There's an all night pet store right down the block."
Murdock grinned and started unpacking the decorations. "Okay, let's get to work. We need this place looking like a Mardi Gras float by seven."
"Right, BA, you're up." Murdock said at . "Go and lure
"You know, entice, ensnare, draw in, decoy, sucker…"
"I know what it means, fool." BA growled.
"How do you suggest I do it?" He grinned suddenly. "Can I drug
him or hit him over the head with a two by four?" That would be fine
payback for all times
"No! He'll have an awful headache and won't enjoy the party. Just go get him, you'll think of something."
"Hi, BA, nice to see you."
"Yeah, happy birthday." He reached out and yanked
The house was filling up with people. Face and Murdock greeting them, taking their coats. Face was looking fabulous in a tuxedo. He had insisted on maintaining some standards and made the dress code 'black tie optional'. Many of the other men also wore tuxedos. The women were a rainbow of bright colours.
A tall blonde woman came up the path to the front door. She smiled at them in greeting.
"Sergeant Wallace," Face said, smiling back. Murdock helped her out of her black coat. Underneath it she wore a red dress. It looked quite demure really, going right up to the neck and ending well below the knee. It was more the way it fitted, skimming her curves, clinging in all the right places that was having a quite predictable effect on Face and Murdock.
"Becky, Face. You can call me Becky now."
"Oh, yeah. Becky. Enjoy the party, Becky."
She gave them a smile and went off to mingle. The two men watched her go
"There is no way she is wearing anything under that." Face said.
"Yeah…" Murdock said slowly. "Man she scrubs up nice. I only ever saw her in combat fatigues before."
Face looked at Murdock's rapt expression and grinned.
"You going to go for it?" He asked.
"With Wallace? Face, she's young enough to be my daughter."
"Explain to me why that's a bad thing."
"Why don't you 'go for it'?" Murdock asked.
"Oh, er. She's not my type."
"What? She looks alive to me." He grinned. "You're scared of her."
"I am not!"
"Face is scared of Wallace, Face is scared of Wallace." Murdock sang in an infuriating way.
Luckily for Face they were distracted by the arrival of another guest.
"Colonel Lynch!" Murdock said, with apparent delight. "So glad you came. Letting bygones be bygones, huh? Great, life's too short to hold a grudge. Go on through, get a drink, have fun!" He quickly hustled Lynch inside then turned back to Face affecting his most innocent look.
"Okay, Murdock," Face said. "Why do I get the feeling that you know exactly why he's dressed as Zorro?"
BA drove through the twilight in his little red convertible. He'd bought it with the advance from the self help book Face had persuaded him to put his name to 'Bad Attitude: Making Your Anger Work for You.' Face was currently trying to persuade BA to let some guy ghost write BA's autobiography and wanted to call it 'Mudsucker Memories'.
"This is terribly exciting, BA,"
BA scowled at him.
"Shut up, man. I know you know where we going. And I ain't kidnapped you. If I'd kidnapped you you'd be riding in the trunk."
They pulled up outside Face's house and started towards the door.
"Face has worked really hard on this party," BA said, menacingly. 'You'd better enjoy it."
"Of course I will. Face throws great parties."
"And act surprised."
"And that don't mean…"
"I know, I know. I promise, no fake heart
Inside the house Face was peering from a darkened window. "He's coming!" Okay, quiet, everyone, quiet." Face turned off the living room lights. The guests started to quieten down. In the dark a female voice demanded sharply "Whose hand is that?"
"Shhh!" Face hissed and closed the sliding doors to the room, hiding the guests, including Murdock.
In a moment the doorbell rang and Face answered it to Hannibal and BA.
BA looked slightly taken aback, then nodded vigorously.
"That's right." BA said.
"Er yeah…" Face said, then pulled himself together
and put on a serious expression the twin of
"You'd better come through, Colonel. This needs your immediate attention."
He turned to slide open the doors into the living room.
As the guests were revealed and the champagne corks popped,
Murdock pushed a glass of champagne into
"Amy, you look great, I thought you were in
"My invitation clearly said…" Lynch began to protest. He had discarded the hat, mask and cloak from his Zorro outfit, but was hanging onto the sword; presumably in the hope he might find out who had marked his invitation 'fancy dress'.
"Looks good. Could be a whole new trend."
"Oh well, erm, thank you, but…" Lynch blustered.
"Dougie, great to see you."
"Happy birthday, Colonel." Kyle handed
"Wow, great, I've been wanting to get this,"
"I inscribed it with your favourite
Bible verse on the title page."
"Nice, Dougie, nice."
As Kyle went off to find someone who looked at if they needed to hear the good news about Jesus, Face glanced at the inscription in the book.
"'Be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23'. What, is that a threat?" He looked worried.
"Relax, Face. Right, who else is here? Oh, Faris! Kahil! You wily Arabs,
you're in on this too?" He grinned at Face. "This isn't a party, it's
an international conspiracy. Nice tuxes, guys." Actually Kahil's made him look rather like a bouncer, but
"Sergeant Wallace! Oh boy, I never met a marine who looked that good in a dress. Though I've met plenty who wear 'em."
"You've met a lot of female marines?" Becky asked surprised.
"No, you're the first."
"Happy birthday, John." She stretched up to kiss him on the cheek. Not only was there no one else in the room; there was no one else in the world.
"Maggie, honey! You look gorgeous!" It was Tawnia. "Oh come and chat, I haven't seen you for
ages. Amy wants to see you too, let's have some girly
gossip!" Tawnia pulled Maggie away and the rest
of the world came crashing back for
Murdock was severely disappointed. As he feared Colonel Decker had completely ignored the words 'fancy dress' on the invitation and was wearing a tuxedo. Damn, the guy was too like Hannibal, neither of them played by the rules. But Murdock could still have some fun.
"You never met, Colonel Lynch? Really?"
"No." Decker said, sounding as if this was something he was very glad about.
"Well let's change that right now." Murdock led the reluctant Decker across the room and snagged Faris on the way, as he looked as if he needed rescuing from a conversation with a very young, very blonde, actress friend of Hannibal's. She had just asked him how many camels he owned.
"Colonel Decker, Colonel Lynch, Colonel Madari." Murdock introduced the three men to each other and they shook hands.
"Colonel." Murdock said, grinning. "Wow. Word has no meaning any more. I'm getting a drink." He left the four baffled colonels and headed for the bar for a cold one. The room was starting to heat up.
Face found BA raiding the buffet table.
"BA, stop taking stuff! Food isn't on until nine. People are still arriving."
"I'm getting some food for mama, okay, she's hungry." Face decided not to argue. "Pass me some of those pigs in a blanket…" BA stopped suddenly. He was looking over Face's shoulder with a look of total horror. Before Face could turn round a shattering blow to his back almost knocked him down.
"What the…?" Face gasped out.
"S… Slater?" Face gasped, still recovering from the slap on the back. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Well ah was in LA on holiday like, and ah ran into the crazy fella, ya flyer. And he sez to come along. He said there was free beer, so ah wasn't gonna turn that doon." He laughed uproariously for no obvious reason.
"Slater." BA growled.
"Baracus." Slater said in a friendly way, entirely oblivious. "Must say, there's some bloody canny looking lasses at this do. And a nice bit of bait there." He eyed the buffet hungrily. Face hastily pulled the cloth back over it.
"It's open at nine." He said.
"Canny." Slater finished his drink. "Hey, it's me favourite Ay-rabs. Al Batman and Bin Robin. Better say hello to the lads." He wandered off.
"I'm gonna kill Murdock." Face said.
"Get in line." BA said.
"Hey, Tawnia, where did
"Oh, she saw someone she had to talk to."
"Ah. So, how are you? Sorry Brian isn't here."
"I'll bet. You must miss him."
"Of course, but I have my sweet darling to keep me company."
"Lucas of course, silly." She slapped him playfully on the arm.
"Oh, yes of course."
"Oh he did the cutest thing last week…"
"Can you tell me later, I've just seen someone I really need to talk to…"
BA took a drink to his mother. He frowned as he approached, seeing Sergeant Slater taking his leave of her.
"Thank you, Scooter." Mrs Baracus said, taking the drink.
"What did he want? BA asked, glaring after the retreating SAS man. "He weren't swearing was he?"
"Malcolm?" Mrs Baracus looked surprised at BA's hostile tone. "Of course not. What a nice man. I didn't realise you and he were such good friends."
"We ain't." BA growled. "What was he talkin' about?"
"He was telling me all about how to improvise something he called a Claymore mine using an ice cream tub, plastic explosive and a few handfuls of nuts and bolts."
BA stared at her. "Oh. Er… great."
"He thought it was very funny when I told him about why we call you 'Scooter'."
"I'm sorry, darling, shouldn't I have mentioned it?"
"No, mama, I don't think you should." BA hoped that for the rest of his life he never met another member of the SAS.
"You found Jesus in prison?" Frankie said. "Wow." He paused. "What was he in for?"
"Great party, Murdock."
"Well, Face did all the work really."
"He always takes too much on himself."
"Meh, it was more that BA and
me couldn't be bothered." Murdock admitted. He looked at a table piled
high with gifts for
"I was planning on giving up this year too."
"Yeah, she just got out of rehab," Murdock said. "Whatever you do don't let her start telling you about the acoustic album she's planning."
"And isn't that Face's friend Barry, the marine biologist guy? Is his sister here too?"
"I think she's outside ticketing everyone's cars."
"Well, as long as she's having fun."
"Hey, there's Abid Hassan and
"Er, well yeah. They're married." Murdock said,
"Since when? Why doesn't anyone ever tell me these things?"
"Since last year. And you knew,
"Waffle iron." Murdock corrected.
Murdock decided that he'd had just about enough of the pleasant light jazz Face had playing at the party. There was way too much civilised chitchatting going on and no dancing. This had to stop.
Murdock found Face's stereo, in its stylish glass fronted cabinet. He took out the CD that was playing and frisbee'ed it out of a nearby window. He emptied several cassette tapes out of his pockets. Now this was more like it. DJ Murdock's party compilation tapes. He put in tape number one and turned up the volume.
Face looked up in horror as the very familiar strains of the introduction to "YMCA" started up. He rushed to the stereo cabinet, only to find the glass doors were locked and someone had taken the key. He was going to kill Murdock.
He found Murdock in the kitchen, downing tequila slammers with Amy and Daniel Running Bear.
"Murdock, do you happen to know where the key to the stereo cabinet is?" Face asked. "Someone seems to have put on a tape of really tasteless music."
"Haven't seen it." Murdock said. He wondered what Face would say when Murdock went out to the car and brought in the karaoke equipment he'd hired. "Hey, let me make you a margarita."
"No thanks." Face said, but Murdock ignored him, went to the kitchen bench and started mixing it. Face groaned as "YMCA" finished and "Build Me Up, Buttercup" started. Why did he get the feeling that all his plans for a classy party were going rapidly down the tubes? Maybe he could find his lock picks. He grabbed one of the tequila shots on the kitchen table and downed it. Then another. Well maybe the lock picks could wait. Amy and Daniel were snuggling closer and talking quietly. Amy was giggling.
Face picked up two more of the shot glasses and wandered off, Murdock turned around holding the margarita he had just mixed.
"Face? Oh." Murdock said. "Well Amy would you… oh, maybe not"
"Mmf." This was the best Amy could manage since she seemed to have most of Daniel's face in her mouth.
"I'll just er… go then." Murdock went back into the living room with the margarita. He wondered if a certain rather hot sergeant would be interested in it. And he didn't mean BA. He certainly didn't mean Slater.
He found Becky Wallace talking to Tawnia and when he caught her eye he saw the look there that clearly said, "HELP!" Murdock approached warily, sidling up behind Tawnia.
"…so you should have seen the look on the old bitch's face when I showed her the marriage certificate from the little chapel in Vegas we stopped off in on the way home from Brazil. That stopped her lawyers in their tracks."
"Brian's mother was going to dispute the marriage then?" Becky asked.
Murdock rolled his eyes. He had heard this story so many times. He decided to stand back for a second and let Becky hear the rest before he made his heroic dash to the rescue.
"She said that a wedding conducted by a river pirate who didn't even have a boat any more wasn't legally binding. She thought I was a gold digger. Just because Daddy had lost all his money in that insider trading thing."
"Oh wow, really?" Becky was scowling at Murdock now and he decided he'd better intervene if he still wanted a little gratitude going on here.
"Of course she still wanted her son to have a big society wedding, so a couple of months later we had another ceremony…"
"Tawnia," Murdock began, but it wasn't needed. The music changed and Tawnia squealed.
"Ooh! Timewarp!" She rushed off to dance.
"So…" Murdock grinned at Becky, handing her the margarita. "You got the three weddings story."
"Well, I wasn't too surprised she's had three weddings," Becky admitted. "Just that they were all to the same man." Then she blushed, as if fearing she'd put her foot in it. "Um, is she a particular friend of yours?"
"Aw, Tawnia's okay really," Murdock said. "Her heart's in the right place. Her brain on the other hand…"
"And I say you couldn't catch a cold, never mind the A-Team!" Decker shouted at Lynch
"Oh and what was the longest you ever managed to hold onto them? An hour?" Lynch retorted.
Face, a slightly dazed expression in his eyes, was sitting on a sofa watching Lynch and Decker arguing. He wondered if he should intervene, but for some reason his legs didn't seem to want to co-operate.
He looked at the clock on the wall. It was almost eleven. The Pointer Sister's "I'm So Excited" was playing on the stereo. The temperature of the room was about a thousand degrees Fahrenheit. The buffet table was stripped bare; except for the sticks of carrot and celery that no one ever ate.
"Hey, Face." Murdock bounded up and threw himself
down on the sofa beside Face. "Things are starting to warm up! What's with those two?" He asked about the two
colonels they'd spent so many years evading. "Where's
"Erm. They're arguing…" Face trailed off. He felt
so odd. He shook his head a little. Tequila. He wasn't supposed to drink
tequila. It did strange things to him. He remembered the last time he drank
tequila… wait, no he didn't. He just remembered waking up in a police cell in
"Oh yeah?" Murdock waggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Maybe he found her?"
"Maybe. Where have you been?"
"Oh just chatting with Becky."
"Just chatting?" Now Face was the one looking suggestive.
"Hey, I'm not gonna make a move till I'm sure she's okay with it. I mean I do like a woman who can kick my ass, but I'd prefer she didn't, you know."
"So you're going for it?"
"Could be. As long as you're sure you're not into her. After all you two were always all tense and didn't get along. That usually means two people like each other, doesn't it?"
"Er, only in the movies, Murdock."
"Oh." The two of them watched Lynch and Decker again for a moment. Decker had just called Lynch a bungling idiot with a very bad moustache and now Lynch was trying to get Decker in a headlock.
"Think we should do something?" Face asked.
"We got any popcorn?"
BA stood at the open front door, getting some fresh air. The atmosphere inside the house was thick enough to scoop up with a ladle. He'd just seen David Harper sneak off round the side of the house with a girl who seemed to be wearing either a very short skirt or a very wide belt and no skirt at all. Stevie Faith was curled up asleep on the porch. She looked quite peaceful so BA left her alone.
He was just about to go back inside when a large black limo pulled up. A tall man aged about thirty got out. He was blonde, good looking and talking on a cell phone.
"I want the wine waiter at Chez Henri fired. I could piss a better Merlot than that. Of course I mean now. Just do it. Hi, Sergeant, working the door? That'll keep the riff-raff out."
"I'm letting you in ain't I, Farrell?" BA snarled.
Farrell didn't seem to notice the remark. He took off his coat and handed it to BA. "Careful with that." He walked past BA and on into the house, still on his call. "What? There's two of them? Well have them both fired…"
"Have a good time. Don't shoot no-one." BA growled after the retreating figure in the tailor made tuxedo. Then he looked down at the overcoat Farrell had handed him. It was an Armani, probably worth more than BA's entire wardrobe. BA snorted, opened the door of the coat closet and tossed the two thousand dollar coat into the dark interior.
He was surprised to hear someone give a half suppressed cry of surprise from inside and he flicked on the light. Faris and Kahil were untangling themselves from Farrell's overcoat. BA frowned.
"What you guys doin' in there?"
"Oh, ah." Faris said, blushing furiously. "We were, um…" He looked panicked.
"Flashback." Kahil muttered.
"Yes! I had a flashback, Kahil was um… comforting me."
"In the dark?" BA asked
"It's better in the dark." Faris said.
"Right." BA said, slowly. "You want the light back off?"
"Yes, now, please." Kahil's voice was hoarse.
BA turned off the light and closed the door. Face and Murdock had wandered up.
"What's up, BA?" Face asked.
"Faris and Kahil are in the closet." BA said frowning.
"I'll say!" Murdock said.
"Huh?" BA said. "I mean they in there." He pointed at the coat closet. "Said Faris was havin' a flashback and Kahil was comforting him."
"Ah," Murdock said, with mock seriousness. "Yeah, well we all know how comforting a good friend can be when you're having the flashbacks." He looked sidelong at Face. "We used to comfort each other a lot back in the old days didn't we?" Face blushed. BA was just looking at them baffled. Murdock chuckled. BA could be so dense sometimes.
BA scowled at the chuckling Murdock and the blushing Face. Jeez didn't they see what he was getting at? Face and Murdock could be so dense sometimes.
The bell rang and Murdock opened the door, saying, "Whoever you are, you're late, but come on in and get funky…" His voice trailed off.
Standing at the door was an MP.
"Oh my." Murdock said at the sight of the MP. He was a good-looking young man, six feet tall and filling out his uniform impressively.
Face gulped a couple of times and had to remind himself that he'd got his pardon years ago.
"Er, what can we do for you, um… corporal?" He glanced around. "Were you looking for Colonel Lynch or Decker? They're over there…" he pointed. Lynch was currently trying to bite Decker's ear off.
"Oh dear…" Murdock said, still staring at the MP.
"Decker? Lynch? No, the name I have is Smith."
"Oh dear, oh dear."
"Here, honey." The MP handed a cassette tape to
Face. "Cue that up for me." Face blinked. He'd never been called
'honey' by an MP before. Well not since they'd escaped from
"I'll do that." He rushed off.
The MP strode past the baffled Face and BA into the living
room. They followed him.
"Where have you been?" Face asked, "I haven't seen you since chapter three."
"I said I haven't seen you since ." Face repeated.
"I've been in the kitchen with Mike Harper. We've been inventing new cocktails."
"Is that why your teeth are green?" BA asked.
"They are? Dammit. No wonder Maggie is avoiding me."
The MP turned to the group. "So, come on guys, where's Hannah Smith, point me to the birthday girl."
The MP looked
"You booked a stripper!" BA had grabbed Murdock from beside the stereo and dragged him over to the furious Face, who was now ranting while Murdock attempted a conciliatory grin. "I told you last week not to book a stripper. Which part of 'do not book a stripper' did you not understand?"
In the middle of the floor a crowd of very noisy and appreciative women surrounded the stripper. Amy was wearing his hat. He was slowly removing his shirt. Most of the men at the party had fled to the kitchen.
"You booked a male stripper!" BA sounded totally outraged. He still had hold of Murdock by the back of his collar. He shook the pilot violently.
"Okay, that part was a mistake!" Murdock protested. "It was a bad line to the agency, and the girl hardly spoke any English! I swear!"
"A male stripper!" BA repeated. "My mama was so shocked she went running into the kitchen."
Just then Mrs Baracus came running back out of the kitchen. She was carrying a tall white spray can.
"Ladies," she called out. "I found the whipped cream!"
"Mama!" BA sounded mortified.
"Oh, Scooter, baby," she turned to him. "Can you make change for a twenty? We're going to need some small bills."
BA fled to the kitchen. Face followed him, in search of tequila.
"Sorry about this." Murdock said to Hannibal, who was watching the scene chuckling. "Not exactly what I had in mind."
Sergeant Slater joined them. He'd been taking the
opportunity to get clear access to the bar while all the other men were
elsewhere. He gave
"Didn't know ya swung that way, Colonel." He said, nodding at the stripper.
"Ah…" Slater looked thoughtful, then smirked, "so it's a cunning plan. Get the lasses all worked up. Canny idea."
They looked at the crowd of women who were shouting and shrieking and laughing, and tucking bank notes into the stripper's waistband.
"Yeah." Murdock said, grinning. "A cunning plan." He noticed Becky over the other side of the room. She was smiling at the whole thing, but not actually shrieking.
"'Scuse me." Murdock gave his beer to Slater, who drank it. Murdock went over to Becky Wallace and smiled at her.
Thirty seconds later they were in the coats closet, after ascertaining it was now an Arab free zone.
"I think I'm standing on somebody's coat," Becky said. Then Murdock felt her shrug in the dark and put her arms around his neck, pulling him in close for a long kiss. Murdock let his hands slide slowly down the curve of her back and encircle her waist.
"Oh, Murdock," she sighed, when they came up for air. "I've wanted to do that for a long time." She stroked his shoulders, and then he felt her lean in and start to nuzzle his neck. Her hair was down now. He ran a hand through it.
"Really? Well why did you wait?"
"Because I'm a fool." She said, her voice muffled against his neck.
"Ah, that makes two of us." He leaned in to kiss her lips again. This was turning out to be not a bad night at all.
"Hi, David. Having a good night?"
"Sure. Happy eleventy-first birthday and all that."
"Thanks. Your dad might need a hand. He drank something with at least seven different spirits in it and then ran outside."
David rolled his big brown eyes. "Sheesh.
Ellen had just passed the whipped cream on to Maggie.
It was quiet and somewhat tense in the kitchen. An intense and angry looking Face was sitting at the table, folding up small pieces of paper and putting them into a large bowl that he'd liberated from the buffet table.
"Right, only one of these pieces of paper has Murdock's name on it. Whoever draws it out gets to kill Murdock, okay? Or at least maim him. And the rest of us get to watch." He downed another tequila shot and slammed the glass down on the table. "Will you two knock it off!" He shouted at the still struggling Decker and Lynch as they knocked against him. Kyle was following them and exhorting them to make peace.
Face handed round the bowl to the other men, who all dipped into it, looking nervously at Face's thunderous frown.
"Everyone got one?"
"I seem to have a cheese doodle." Hassan said.
"Leave your personal problems out of this," Farrell said.
"Hah! I got it!" Face crowed. This surprised no one. "Right." Face picked up the bottle of tequila and took a big swig. "Where is the man who turned my home into a strip club?" He left the kitchen with the bottle.
"Erm, BA, you want to follow him?"
BA growled, but did it.
The stripper had his clothes back on and was sitting on a sofa with Tawnia on one side and Ellen on the other. The rest of the ladies were dancing to 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun'.
They cheered when Face came out of the kitchen.
"Great party, Face!"
Face instantly changed his attitude to the whole stripper situation. Of course it was a good idea of his. He took a long drink from the tequila bottle, emptying it. Disappointed, he shook it a couple of times before tossing it aside. Then he jumped onto a coffee table.
"We're driving to Vegas!" Face yelled. And passed out.
BA caught him as he fell off the table. Tenderly he carried his little brother to a sofa and put him down gently. Then he whacked him hard with a cushion.
"If I've put my back out carrying your butt around again I'll make you pay, sucker!"
Face slept peacefully for nearly an hour before someone
shook him awake. It was
Face looked at
"What?" He said, wondering why
"And did you know Hassan is Turkish?"
"Oh, right. Well Kahil and Hassan are out in your back garden re-enacting a thousand years of blood feuds."
"They're fighting?" Face asked, horrified.
"Well not quite yet, but that's only because BA and Faris are holding them back. And Faris isn't trying very hard if you ask me."
"Is anyone doing anything?" Face asked, struggling to sit up.
"Well Evie is hanging onto Hassan's arm shouting 'leave it, Bidi, he's not worth it!'"
"Is anyone doing anything useful?" Face closed his eyes to keep the room from spinning around his head.
"Farrell's running a
Face staggered off, ignoring
Face groaned. A fight. How embarrassing was this? His neighbour's curtains were already twitching. Face's hard won respectability was falling down around his ears.
"Hey, guys, please." Face said. "Come on, calm down."
"I'll calm down when he apologises!" Hassan yelled.
"Never!" Kahil yelled back. "I stand by it. There is less chance of Turkey winning the World Cup than there is of me being struck by lightening right here on this spot, right this second."
It really wasn't fair on Kahil that someone chose that moment to put a match to one of the fireworks Face had ready for the end of the party. A streak of light ripped into the sky followed by a loud bang. On the other hand the spectators learnt what a man's face looks like when he has some very sudden doubts about his professed atheism. Hassan smirked.
"World Cup?" Face said. "Wait, you guys are fighting about soccer?"
"Football!" Shouted Hassan, Faris and Slater all at the same time.
"Er, I think I want to sit down," Kahil said.
Murdock peered out of the closet. Behind him Becky was fixing her hair with a comb she had in her tiny red purse.
Things seemed to flagging a little bit. Maybe people were getting tired. Murdock dug in his pocket to find his car keys. Right.
"Give me that!" Lynch demanded, trying to wrestle the Karaoke microphone from Decker's hands.
"No! I sing 'Bad Bad Leroy Brown' at Karaoke." Lynch insisted. "It's my thing. It's my thing that I do."
"You don't have the voice for it," Decker growled, with maximum gravel.
"Guys, guys." Murdock got up on the low platform that formed a small stage and pushed the two colonels apart, getting between them. "This is getting old. Come on now, make friends."
"With this incompetent? Decker said.
"With this crazy man?" Lynch retorted.
"Now, fellas," Murdock was in full on peacemaker mode. He suddenly thought of something they could all agree on. "You know that however crazy or incompetent you are neither of you are as crazy and incompetent as General Fulbright was."
Decker snorted. Lynch said, "Well obviously."
"That man was deranged." Decker said. "They
put him on the A-Team case because they had to get him out of
"I heard the Governor personally complained to the Secretary of Defence." Lynch said.
"Incident?" Murdock was intrigued.
"Someone blocked his car in outside a grocery store." Decker explained. "He moved their car out of the way."
"With a tank."
"Ah. So when you say 'moved'…"
"I mean 'crushed'."
"You know," Lynch leaned in close to the other two
men. "When they went through his papers they found these really detailed
plans he'd drawn up for invading
"No!" Decker grinned, scarily.
"That's what I heard…"
Murdock was grinning now too. He pressed the play button on the Karaoke machine and handed a spare microphone to Lynch.
"Duet?" He suggested.
Face sat on a sofa and watched Amy, Tawnia and his half-sister, Ellen singing 'It's Raining Men'. He didn't want to watch Amy and Tawnia and especially not Ellen sing 'It's Raining Men', any more than he'd wanted to watch Murdock singing 'Proud Mary' or Frankie singing 'Johnny B Goode'; but the tequila was insisting he was going to sit on this sofa for now.
Mrs Baracus came over and sat beside him.
"You look tired, dear." She said, which he supposed was her way of saying "you look smashed out of your brain."
"Shush, everyone, shush. I just want to say a few words."
Face staggered to his feet, Mrs Baracus following him as all
the guests crowded around. Everyone simmered down and waited.
"I want to thank you all for coming to my party."
They cheered. "And I wanted to thank Face and Murdock and BA for organising it all. Great work guys." More cheers as
"It's so great to see all of you here and I want to make a toast to you all. Old friends and new ones. People we've helped. People who've helped us. People we've driven crazy." He raised the glass again, this time in the direction of Lynch and Decker, who were standing with their arms around each other's shoulders. They raised their glasses back in a salute. "All of you are very welcome here. Now I want to make an announcement. I want to officially announce my retirement."
There were immediate cries of "No!" and "Shame!"
"Now, don't worry, I just mean from the whole professional fighting evil game. I'm still keeping up the acting."
"That's a relief!" Someone called out.
"Knew you'd be pleased."
"Anyway, that's all I have to say, so I want you all to get back to having fun. And I'll be seeing lots of you for interviews for the book, so make sure you leave your phone numbers before you go."
He raised his glass. "Love you all, thanks for coming."
"Very touching, Smith." The crowd parted. Douglas Kyle stood there. He was holding a gun.
Kyle walked forward, keeping his gun trained on
"What are you planning to do, Kyle? Shoot me?"
Kyle held up the hand that wasn't holding a gun. He had what looked like a cigarette lighter in it.
"This is a radio transmitter. When I press the button it will send a signal to my men. There are fifty of them, Smith, just waiting for the signal to attack." He smiled in terrifying triumph. "Not only do I get you and your men I get your families, your friends. I could never have dreamed when I began planning this eight years ago that my revenge could be so complete. Yes, eight years ago I walked into the office of the prison chaplain and told him I wanted to accept Jesus Christ as my saviour. From that moment you were doomed, Smith…"
He wondered if any of them were armed. Going by the fit of that dress Wallace wasn't, unless she had something in her purse. Kahil probably was. He had the attitude that no outfit, however formal, couldn't be enhanced by some pointy or noisy metal. Farrell had to be armed. A man who made enemies the way he did…
He turned his attention back to Kyle who seemed to be coming to the end of his story.
"…and I'm going to make you suffer, Smith, for every minute of every hour I've spent studying the god damned Book of Job and the letters of that son of a bitch Saint Paul." He was ranting now, furious. But he calmed himself and spoke again with more control. "Though I must say there's one thing the Bible has taught me a lot about, and that's vengeance." He laughed harshly. "And this will go down as the most notorious act of revenge since…"
There was a loud boing sound, like a gong being struck and Kyle stopped talking. His eyes crossed and he fell, slowly at first, to his knees then forward to land flat on his face. He dropped the transmitter and his gun.
Standing behind him, holding a now badly dented metal platter from the buffet table stood Mrs Baracus.
"Well." she said, looking a little flustered. "Well, I won't just stand by and listen someone speak disrespectfully about the good book."
There was a long moment of stunned silence, and then
On the floor Kyle stirred a little and BA instantly knelt on
his back, while Murdock retrieved the gun and transmitter and gave them to
"Fetch a kitchen chair," he ordered.
When Kyle awoke a few minutes later it was to the sight of
He stood aside to reveal Tawnia standing on the stage with the Karaoke microphone in her hand.
"Do you know what Tawnia's favourite movie is, Dougie?"
"No!" Kyle struggled to get free as the music started up. Hannibal and the team watched him. Tawnia began to sing. There was no chance she would ever be mistaken for Whitney Houston, but as the chorus kicked in she really put all her heart into her performance
"And I… I… I…"
"I think he's crying." Face said.
"…will always love yooooo…"
"Isn't this cruel and unusual punishment?" Murdock asked.
"… ooh ooh, I will always love yoooooo…"
"You're worried he'll shoot Kyle in the head?" BA asked.
"No, I'm worried he'll offer Kyle a job."
"Murdock, you have a second?" Becky laid a hand on his arm.
"Sure." Murdock wondered if she was up for a second round in the coat closet. He moved off away from Face and BA.
"Murdock, I wanted to tell you I'm going overseas in a couple of days." Murdock suddenly felt like life really sucked.
"No." She smiled. "I'm on leave for a couple
of weeks. I'm planning on going to
Ah. Life did not suck at all. Not one little bit.
Unless you were Dougie Kyle. Tawnia had finished her song, leaving Kyle a gasping and broken man. BA checked Kyle's bonds were tight, while Lynch and Decker started singing 'Louie, Louie', then he looked around.
The night was still young.
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