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This page last viewed: 2017-06-17 and has been viewed 825 times
Warnings: Some Language.
Holidays: Namesake Day (March 04); Fun Facts About Names Day (March 05); Unique Names Day (March 06); Learn What Your Name Means Day (March 07); Middle Name Pride Day (March 09); Nametag Day (March 09)
Note: Too many "name" days so I combined them (I know - pure laziness)
Title: A Rose
Face looked at the cake with a critical eye. "I don't know. It just doesn't look right."
Murdock came over, sandwich in one hand, beer in the other. He looked down at the cake. "Looks great to me, Faceman. Never had a cake that fancy before."
"Thank Stockwell for that." Hannibal joined the other two analyzing the cake. "Of course, he doesn't know that yet, but..."
"It still doesn't look right. I mean, 'Happy Birthday, H.M.' ?"
"What's wrong with that? It's my birthday."
"Yeah, but it should have your name on it. This is like having 'Happy Birthday, Face'. "
"Well, we'd have to have a pretty big cake if we used 'Templeton'. "
"Well, at least it's my real name."
"So you say. Or said, back when you picked it." Murdock finished his sandwich and grinned. "I prefer Face, myself."
"Templeton is a very dignified name." Face bent to examine the cake a little closer.
Hannibal grinned over Face's shoulder at Murdock. "Dignified isn't exactly the word I was thinking, kid. How'd you ever come up with that, anyway?"
Face turned, blushing slightly. "I was reading the paper one day, and there was an article on this fellow, Sir John Templeton. He sounded like someone worth emulating, so..." He shrugged.
"Hmm. What about Arthur?"
"Oh, that was from King Arthur, right, Face?" Murdock stepped quickly away as Face glared at him. "Oops, let the cat out of the bag, didn't I?"
"Hey, nothin wrong with King Arthur." BA lumbered over and grabbed the cake knife, handing it to Murdock. "Cut the cake, will ya?" He looked over at Face. "But Peck? What kinda name is that?"
"That was...well, a girl I was seeing in high school was a big fan of Gregory Peck. They had a double feature one night, and...well..."
Hannibal laughed. "Enough said, Face. You obviously put a lot of thought into your name. And hey, not many people get to choose."
Somewhat mollified, Face picked up his cake. "What about you, Hannibal? All those movies, didn't you ever want a real stage name? John Smith isn't exactly attention getting."
"Oh, I thought about it. I used Lynch that time, remember?"
"Yeah, that was real smart thinkin, Hannibal." BA shook his head and bit into his cake. "I still owe you guys for that one."
"So what do you guys think I should use? I mean, no reason I can't get back into the biz after we're done here, right?"
Face gave him a quick, dark look, but Murdock frowned thoughtfully. "Well, you could use Hannibal. I mean, you wouldn't have to worry about that anymore."
Hannibal nodded. "Yeah, that has got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"
"Smith has to go, though." Face lit his own cigar. "I mean, ever hear of an actor named Smith who made it big time?"
"Jaclyn Smith. You know, 'Charlie's Angels'?"
Face frowned at him. "Hannibal doesn't have the same, uh, credentials, Murdock. No, it has to be something catchy. Something people would remember."
"Hey, there's a movie out now where one of the guys is named Hannibal Lecter. Don't know what it's about, but the name's kinda cool."
Face frowned. "Yeah, but you wouldn't want to use it if the guy was weird or something. Besides, you want something original."
"Yeah, like Peck." BA giggled.
"I wouldn't talk, Bosco." Murdock switched from behind Face to behind Hannibal, speaking hurriedly. "Then again, Baracus is known world-wide."
"Huh? Whatcha mean?"
"Yeah, at least, in the scientific community."
"What are you talking about, Murdock?" Hannibal's cigar stopped halfway to his mouth.
"Well, the, uh, genus Baracus. It's a, uh, type of, uh... butterfly."
"A butterfly!" BA sputtered, Hannibal grinned, and Face tried not to laugh out loud.
"Well, not really a butterfly, BA, it's actually, ah...," Murdock gulped, ready to accept his fate, "see, it doesn't fly very well, so it's called a...hedge hopper...'stead of a butterfly..."
Before BA could make his move, Face stepped in. "Uh, Murdock, weren't we originally talking about your name? As in, isn't it about time we found out what the H.M. stands for?"
"Yeah, man. Maybe that'll make me forget about poundin you!"
"Aw, c'mon, guys, that's a family secret, y'know?"
"No, Murdock, we don't know. That's the point. Your turn, Captain."
"Well, I'll confirm if you guess it. How's that?"
"I think I'll just pound you and get it over with."
"Now wait a minute, BA. How hard can it be? Especially since he has to give us one clue." Hannibal winked at Murdock over his cigar. "Make it a good one, Captain."
Murdock rolled his eyes, but complied. "My mother loved detective stories."
"Oh, well, that's easy. I used that one myself once. Holmes."
"Wrong!" Murdock danced around the table. "Two more guesses!"
Hannibal puffed on his cigar. "Hardy?"
"Missed by a mile!"
Hannibal looked at BA. "Last strike, BA."
BA grumbled and scowled. "Hammer."
"You're out!" Murdock continued howling as he ran to the edge of pool and back. "The secret's safe! Forever!"
BA scowled. "I shoulda just pounded him."
Holiday: Panic Day (March 09)
Title: A Dagger of the Mind
The firing had stopped. Momentarily, at least. In another minute, maybe more, maybe less, it would start up again. The very second anyone in his group made a move the VC would open up, pinning them down, picking them off one by one, until he was the only one left. And then they would come for him. He would see the others all die before it was his turn. And it would be his fault. His fault because he couldn't pull the damn trigger. He would die and his only legacy would be that he was the coward that failed his team.
It had been quiet too long. Way too long. Were the others already dead? Had he spaced out completely? He hadn't heard any firing, he knew he hadn't. What were they waiting for? Why wouldn't they show themselves? If they would just stand up, move into view, the others would start shooting then. He wouldn't have to. No one would have to know.
Why weren't they shooting?
They'd been in this same spot for hours. Days, maybe. Unable to move forward, unable to retreat. Even Murdock couldn't get in to bring them home. There was only one way out. One way to end this.
He had to end it.
It was his job. He was the one. To take out the one. Cut the head off the snake. His job. Only his.
And he'd failed.
He'd had that VC captain in his sights over and over again. Each time he'd settle the rifle against his shoulder. Each time he'd taken a breath and slowly exhaled. Each time his finger had tightened on the trigger.
And each time he'd let the man disappear into the jungle. Let him go to kill more and more Americans. So the VC captain could go home a hero.
And he would go home a coward. Or not at all.
No, he wouldn't go home. Even if the VC left him alive, he wouldn't go home. It may be a sin, but what was that compared to letting your company, your team, your family die because of your own cowardice? He was bound for hell anyway.
Why the hell didn't they start shooting? Maybe this time he could do it. Maybe this time. He could feel himself shaking. He had to stop that. He had to, or he couldn't shoot that damn VC captain. That damn VC captain that stood up, mocking him, daring him to shoot, knowing he couldn't, knowing he was a coward, showing the world what a coward he was...Why didn't that captain stand up, just one more time, just one more, he'd shoot him this time, prove he wasn't a coward, just stand up, stand up, stand up!
He practically fell out of the tree at the voice. The jungle around him suddenly came into sharp focus, and he looked down. Hannibal was looking back up at him, and his voice was calm, quiet.
He looked around in confusion. The men, his men, his team...they were standing now, talking quietly. A couple glanced up at him and away again. A couple more looked over at Hannibal.
But they were...dead. They were dead because of him. Because he hadn't...
"Face, can you make it down? Do you need some help?"
No, no, he didn't need help. God, I got them killed, Hannibal, I can't ask for help now. I got them...
He looked once more at his team down below. None of them were on the ground, still, lifeless.
None of them.
He slowly climbed down from his high perch and stood, barely controlling the tremors. He couldn't look Hannibal in the eye.
"I...I'm sorry, Colonel, I..."
"It's okay, kid. You had me worried for a bit there, I'll admit. As long as you're okay now."
He looked away, ashamed, staring at the men as they checked the bodies of the enemy.
The body of the VC captain.
He felt Hannibal's arm go around his shoulder.
"Your first kill is always hard."
Holiday: Open An Umbrella Indoors Day (March 13)
Title: Rainy Days
"Murdock, what are you doing with that umbrella?"
"It's going to rain."
"There's not a cloud in the sky."
"It's going to rain."
"BA, do you remember when I told you not to walk under that ladder?"
"So you tripped and twisted your ankle right after, didn't you? And Hannibal, did you or did you not see that black cat cross in front of you yesterday?"
"Yes, Captain, I did."
"And you got the call from your agent saying the part went to someone else. And I told you to be careful with that mirror last night, didn't I, Face?"
"It slipped, Murdock."
"And your date called and cancelled, right? So when I open an umbrella in the house, why do you doubt me when I say it's going to rain?"
Whatever else was going to be said was cut off as the ceiling suddenly burst open and a torrent of water poured down on the men. Murdock smiled at his sputtering teammates from under his umbrella.
"And I guess next time I try to tell you about a broken water faucet, you won't cut me off again, huh?"
Holiday: True Confessions Day (March 15)
Title: Mirror, Mirror
It was taking a long time to get ready that morning. Hard to make sure you looked right when you couldn't look in the mirror. Not that he couldn't.
He finished brushing his teeth, and carefully wiped up the sink. Looked around to make sure there was no mess left. He stepped quickly from there to his bedroom, slipping on his shoes, making sure the bed was made up tidily. He studiously avoided the mirror above his dresser.
He took one last look at the bed before heading toward the kitchen. No one would even know he'd been there.
He heard familiar noises coming from the kitchen, and hesitated. Looking for any excuse, he stepped over to the table and sorted through his papers. Everything in order. He'd taken extra time with his work last night.
As if that would change anything.
He sighed heavily and made his way into the kitchen. He slid quietly into his place at the table, and silently nodded as the plate of hot pancakes was set in front of him.
"You want to tell me what's troubling you now?"
The question he'd hoped not to hear. He didn't want to answer, didn't want to add a lie to his transgressions.
'Every dishonesty leaves a little black mark on your heart.'
How many times had he heard that? That, and the one about the eyes being the windows to the soul? Which was why he wouldn't look in the mirror. He didn't want to see through to his soul, to his heart, see the growing blackness there...
"You'll feel better if you tell me. Nothing we can't get through together."
He sighed. Looked up into the big soft brown eyes, so understanding, so gentle. So his. Tears welled in his own eyes.
"I'm sorry, Mama. I broke your vase."
Holiday: Lips Appreciation Day (March 16)
Title: Hot Lips
It was his favorite dream, and he was savoring every moment of it. He moved closer, feeling her soft skin under his fingers, smelling her light perfume. He moved closer, pulling her gently, but firmly, tighter against his body. The silken hair brushed against his cheek as he made his way confidently to her lips. Her sweet, sweet lips...
She turned her head, teasing, and he moved quickly to her neck, nuzzling the downy flesh before moving down to her smooth shoulder. He felt her relax and moved assuredly back up her neck, to her chin, once again toward those luscious, full lips...lips that felt so...strange...
Hannibal heard the door down the hall slam. Hard. He stepped from the window and watched as Murdock came trudging into the living room. He held something in one hand, and had a defeated look on his face.
"I guess so." Murdock held out his hand, and Hannibal saw something red mashed up in his palm. "I don't think Face likes wax lips..."
Holiday: Near Miss Day (March 23)
Title: As Good as a Mile
"I tol you not to do it. Didn't I?"
"Yes, BA, you told me."
"Did you listen? No, you didn't, didja?"
"No, BA, I didn't. But it worked, didn't it?"
"Yeah, it worked. 'Cept for the truck crashin, that gal gettin away, Face gettin a concussion, and Murdock..."
"Murdock's just being Murdock."
"Only more so. Not to mention I nearly got shot and you took a slug through the leg."
"That bullet missed you, BA, and I just got a flesh wound."
"Barely. And we had too many barely's lately, Hannibal. Way too many."
BA stalked off, leaving Hannibal to keep watch over Face, who was still seeing three of everything. Murdock sat in the overstuffed chair by the fireplace; he'd stopped counting the cracks in the walls and was now naming them instead. Hannibal sighed.
BA was right. The plan had worked even less well than usual today. Face had taken one hell of a wallop to the head, and then Hannibal had taken that bullet almost immediately after pulling him back behind the crates. That left Murdock to hold the fort until BA came roaring up in the van several minutes later. Face kept trying to stand up and Hannibal had bled pretty hard and fast those first couple minutes and Murdock had really had his hands full. Then loading the others into the van and seeing that bullet explode into the door frame just above BA's head...yeah, Murdock had reason to be even 'more so'.
Hannibal checked Face again, reassured that he now only saw two Hannibals. Murdock had stopped his naming to listen to them, and then got up and followed BA into the other room. Hannibal could hear the two trading insults. He shifted in his chair, trying to ease the stiffness in his leg.
Yeah, BA was right. There had been too many close calls in the last few weeks. Too many jobs, for one thing. The guys weren't getting thoroughly rested up from one before Hannibal had them going on another. And he hadn't exactly been discriminating about the jobs he took, either. Like this last one. Not one he should've walked away from, exactly, but he should've taken more time getting ready for it.
And he shouldn't be using the team as a release for his own frustrations. He hadn't had a nibble from his agent in weeks and it was hard to sit around, waiting for something to happen. So he'd started moving on more and more jobs for the team. Actually sought out a couple of them. Ignored Face's complaints and BA's glares. Focused on Murdock's enthusiasm instead. Although that had seemed rather forced on the last two or three jobs.
Well, okay, so they'd had some near misses. They were still misses. The team was still okay, still together, still alive. A miss is as good as a mile, right?
He looked over at Face, who'd dozed off. Listened again to the mumbled voices in the other room. Lightly rubbed the bandage under his pant leg.
Holiday: Puppy Day (March 23)
My little puppy's name is Rags;
He eats so much that his tummy sags.
His ears flip-flop and his tail wig-wags,
And when he walks he goes zig-zag.
John threw the stick high and far. Well, as far as an eight-year-old arm could throw against a stiff wind. He grinned as the black dog raced after the stick, tearing through the tall sweetgrass, disappearing except for the furrow of green in his wake. John waited expectantly, but jumped when the dog, stick lopsided in his jaws, bounded out of the grass and leaped at his chest.
When evening came, John's father called to him, and reluctantly he moved back to the old farmhouse. His mother and brother were already in the car, his grandparents standing on the steps of the porch. His father handed a couple heavy pie tins in to his mother, and roughed John's hair as the boy slid in beside his brother.
"We'll be back again as soon as we can, Pa. Wish I could help with the thrashing, but with things the way they are at the plant..."
"Don't worry about it, son. Just take care. Remember you got two young'uns depending on you."
John looked out the back window as the car pulled down the long rutted drive. The little black dog chased after the car until he was finally called back to the house. John hated leaving him, but there was no room in the city for a lively dog like that. John watched as the dog leaped at Grandpa's upraised hand for his treat.
It was the last time he would see either one of them.
"How many times I have to tell you not to fight?"
"I didn't start it. Ralphie did."
"He took a swing at you, did he? Without you sayin or doin nothin first?"
"I jus tol him to leave the dog alone. That's all."
"Dog? What dog?"
"Jus a dog, down in the alley. Ralphie was throwin beer cans at it. Dog didn't do nothin to him, Daddy. So I tol him to stop it, and he wouldn't."
"So you got in a fight."
"I just made him stop throwin them cans, Daddy. That's all."
"Hmm. Took a bit to do that, did it?"
Boscoe looked at the ground. "A bit, yeah."
"You look as bad as him?"
A bit of a grin peeked through. "Naw, I never look as bad..." He stopped, eyes wide.
"That's what I thought." His daddy shook his head. "Don't know what I'm gonna do with you, boy. You can't go usin your fists every time you want somethin done."
"No 'buts'. I mean it. No more fightin."
Boscoe watched as his father stood and grabbed his hat. "Where you goin, Daddy?"
His father looked down at him, hand on the doorknob.
"I think Ralphie's daddy'd wanna know bout that dog, don't you?"
"He gonna be alright, Father?"
"Oh, sure. He just needs some food in him. You run up to the kitchen, have Sister give you some scraps for him."
"Can we keep him? He can sleep under my bed. And if I help Joseph with the yard work, I'll bet he'd give me some of his dog's food, so it won't cost nothing. And..."
"Alvin, Alvin, please! Now, I know you'd take good care of him, but we can't have a dog here. Some of the children have allergies, and if you found a family, what if they didn't want him? Or they already had a dog? And with so many children here, he'd just get confused as to who he belonged to."
"So we can't keep him? Even for a little while?"
"No. I'll call the pound and have them come for him."
"What's the pound?"
"It's, uh, it's like an orphanage for dogs. They'll find him a good home, don't worry."
Alvin watched as the people from the pound came to collect the dog later that morning. He didn't like it much when they put the little animal in a cage, but Father assured him it just temporary. He sighed heavily as he turned back into the yard.
"They come get the mutt, then?" Harry came wandering over. He was older than Alvin, and had only come to the orphanage a few months before.
"Yeah. They'll find him a home. Father said it's like an orphanage for dogs."
Harry snorted. "Yeah, right. Better hope they find him a home quick."
Alvin looked up, suspicious. "Why?"
" 'Cause that 'orphanage' puts 'em down if they don't get adopted."
Alvin stared down the street where the truck was slowly disappearing.
"Tell em, boy!"
Eagerly, the teen turned toward the open meadow and called out, "Bring em in!"
The two stood watching as the border collie went racing out toward the sheep, circling slowly as he gathered them together and started moving them toward the barn. As the sheep complied, man and boy exchanged big grins.
"He's doing it, Gramps. Look at him!"
"Yeah, you did a good job, HM. A real good job. Keep that up and Spook can retire in style."
Hearing his name, the dog sitting beside them stood and whined. HM laughed softly.
"S'okay, Spooky. Go give Buck a hand. Bring em in!"
The old dog trotted out. No rushing him; he had too much experience to get all excited like the younger dog. He knew those sheep weren't going anywhere he didn't want them to.
The old man started walking toward the barn, followed closely by HM. The younger man noted his grandfather was favoring his leg again, and frowned.
"You okay, Gramps?
"I'm fine, boy. Just a little stiff tonight. It's good you got Buck going so quick though. Be a big help after you leave."
"I got another six months, Gramps. He'll be an old pro by then."
"Yep. At least you'll be here for the shearing. Well, let's get these fellas locked up and go have some supper."
HM stood for a moment, after his grandfather had gone into the house, looking at the last remnants of the sun disappearing behind the hills. He wanted to memorize every day, every hour, every acre and every foot of this place. In six months' time he'd be starting a whole new life, far from this ranch, from his family. He was excited, he was scared, he wanted to go and he hated to leave.
"C'mon, HM, supper's getting cold." His grandmother's voice, brittle yet gentle, calling him from the back door.
Six more months.
A life time.
Holiday: Make Up Your Own Holiday Day (March 26)
Face dropped down on the cot, hair wet from his shower. He felt as if he was still under the faucet, the damn air was so full of moisture. He wondered sometimes why he bothered to clean up anyway. It never took more than a few minutes before he, like everyone else, was soaked clean through again. He shook his head. When it wasn't humid, it was raining; when it wasn't raining, it was humid. The tent smelled like mold; his clothes smelled like mold.
Hell, he smelled like mold.
Face groaned. Not Murdock. Not now. He was comfortably wallowing in self-pity and Murdock never left him alone in that comfort.
Murdock dropped down on the cot beside him, a big grin shining down.
"What do you want, Murdock?"
"We got three days' leave, buddy. Three whole days! Jerry's gotta take a run down to Da Nang, says we can ride along with him. Have to find our own way back, but you can handle that okay, can't you?"
"Murdock, I don't want to go to anywhere. I just want to sleep."
"Sleep?! C'mon, Face, you can sleep in Da Nang - only you can have some nice soft company to sleep with. Like Lan Truong. Hmm? Remember Lan?"
Face definitely remembered Lan. Small, sweet, soft - and she could do things to him...he sighed.
"I'd like to, Murdock, but I can't. I can't move. Besides, Lan and her family were relocating to Saigon."
"So we'll find somebody else. C'mon..."
"Face, look. We got a three day holiday. We gotta make the most of it."
"It's not a holiday, Murdock. It's a four hour trip in a truck with no shocks over roads filled with mud to a city filled with a thousand guys looking for women and beds just like us. Two and half days in a third-rate hotel with a fan, if we're lucky, and a couple women who'll probably give us the clap, and then I have to find some way to get us back here before Hannibal has our heads. Does that sound like a holiday to you, Murdock?"
Murdock sat back, pushing his cap up on his forehead. "You really that tired, Face?"
How to explain this without sounding like a complete bastard?
"Murdock, we just got back from a visit with the friendly neighborhood Cong. A very, very nasty visit. Right now, as long as I don't leave this tent, I don't have to look at, talk to, or otherwise engage in any activity with anything or anyone that isn't American. Now maybe that sounds racist and stupid and totally disgusting, but that's the way I feel and I don't give a damn about that or any fucking holiday!"
He stopped suddenly, realizing that his voice had risen considerably in volume, and that Murdock was now standing. He felt his face go hot.
"Don't worry about it, man. No problemo." Murdock abruptly stepped out of the tent, and Face fell just as abruptly back on the cot.
Well done, Lieutenant...
He woke hours later. He must have been more wiped out than even he had thought. The tent was dark.
He wiped his hand over his face and squinted. In the far corner was a some kind of plant with... flashlights? And off to the side of that was a gourd of some kind. Was that a face carved in it? And it was lit, too. Face sat up, and that's when he noticed the eggs sitting on the small stand next to the cot. He could smell the spray paint on them.
"Happy Holiday, Face."
Murdock sat in the other corner of the tent, across from the lighted plant. Face could see he had a bottle of beer in one hand. With the other he proceeded to throw a large handful of paper shreds at him.
"You didn't want to go on a holiday, so I brought it to you. Wasn't sure exactly what kind of holiday you'd like, so I brought as many as I could find. Got enough beer and eats to last the next three days, too. Well, if we don't eat too much." Murdock smiled happily. "So, what do you want to call this holiday?"
"Hey, it's your holiday, man. You can name it whatever you want."
Face shook his head, smiling wryly.
"Okay. How about I-Will-Never-Snap-at-My-Best-Friend-Again Day?"
Murdock reached over and handed Face the bottle of beer.
"That has a real nice ring to it, Faceman."
Holiday: Kick Butt Day (March 28) / Walk On Your Wild Side Day (April 12th)
Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. - F. Scott Fitzgerald
He was tired. More tired than he'd felt in...a long time. And not just physically. That he could handle. He was used to that. He flexed his arms. Yeah, that he could handle. Always had, always would.
But this was different. This was something he hadn't felt since Nam. Since that day in the camp. When he'd seen that kid...
He shook his head. Not going back there. This wasn't Nam, and no one had died.
He stared up at the house. Felt the tiredness change. His breathing got heavy, harsh, as he thought about the man in that house. The man who'd almost died trying to do what was right. Who would get no thanks for it.
Who shouldn't have even been there.
He slammed the hood down on the van, tossed his tools in the back. He should go in, see how he was. But the others were still in there.
He'd be okay.
But okay wasn't good enough. Not any more. Not for him, not for any of them. They all knew it.
But they couldn't go anywhere. Not now. Not until he was healed up. And even then...
His head was throbbing in time to his heartbeat. Both pounding like they'd burst. Hadn't felt like this in a long time. Not since...
He glared up at the house. Flung open the driver's door and slid into the seat. Saw the Ables suddenly straighten.
Fuck 'em all.
He started the van, body jerking as it swung into reverse and then shot forward. Quick glance in the mirror.
Hannibal. Standing half way out the door.
How long he drove he had no idea. Didn't bother him, not knowing. Didn't care. Maybe, at first, he thought if he drove long enough, the anger would die away. Maybe, at first, he thought he would come back to that place that let him deal with the now, forget the past, ignore the future.
Maybe, at first.
He drove into the city. DC. He read the papers. He knew the places. Knew where people shouldn't go at night.
He knew exactly where to go.
He parked the van, not far from the police station. Under the light. His mama didn't raise no dummies.
Pushed the thought of her out of his head. She had no place there tonight.
Not now. Not then.
He only had to walk a few blocks. Streetlights far apart, broken. Sidewalks dark. Darkness surrounding him. Darkness, and something else.
This wouldn't change anything. Nothing would change. Nothing could. He knew that.
He didn't care.
The darkness shifted. The someones coming out. Moving closer.
He turned. Waited. Clenched his fists. Heart pounding. Head pounding.
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