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House of Lies
Part 8 in the ‘A Beautiful Lie Series’ with Face and Amy.
Summary: Amy’s determined to prove Al Massey was murdered.
Set after episode ‘Water, Water, Everywhere.’ Before and after episode ‘Steel.’ Sequel to “A Covered Lie.”
Disclaimer: I don’t own the A-Team and I’ve not made a penny from this; I just do it for the jazz!
Copyright: August 2009
The return journey from Sobaco County was slow and uncomfortable in the van, making Amy anxious. It had been over a week since she’d received the package, but had been unable to act on it. She hadn’t told Face about it; they’d all been busy helping a group of veterans get a guy named Gaines off their backs over a water feud. Also, even if she’d wanted to talk to Face, he’d been unavailable... with Amanda. Amy just wanted to get back to LA.
She tried writing up her notes in the back of the van but her mind was on the day of the funeral.
The day before heading out to Sobaco County with the team, Amy had attended Al’s funeral. She’d sat, listening to the minister delivering those final words, occasionally wiping a tear from her cheek. The sun had been shining, the sky clear blue, but the weather was all that had seemed good about that sad day.
It hadn’t taken long for the police to decide that Al’s car wreck had been an accident, having found nothing suspicious. So ten days after his death, he was being buried.
“Amy, are you coming?” Zack laid a hand on her shoulder.
“In a minute,” she replied, her voice sombre. “You go on.”
Everyone from the funeral was walking away to attend the wake hosted by Al’s sister. His family didn’t live in LA; they’d travelled down from Seattle. But following his wishes, they wanted him buried in LA with his wife.
Amy had sat there, disappointed and saddened. She still didn’t have much to go on. Zack had tried to help her look into Al’s story, but the leads they’d found had come to an end. Probably just like the police, and why they’d closed the case.
But even the night she’d run to Face for comfort, she’d felt sure Al’s death was suspicious. Something didn’t sit right about the car wreck. She couldn’t help asking - was Al taking secrets to his grave?
“Amy Allen?” A woman tapped Amy on the shoulder. She turned to see a young woman, dressed, like Amy, in black. Amy recognised her as one of Al’s nieces. She remembered, having no children of his own, Al had been especially fond of his nieces. He’d always talked about them.
“Yes, that’s me.” Amy nodded, wiping her eye, composing herself.
“I think this is for you,” the young woman said, handing Amy a small brown envelope. “Al must have mailed this to me just before he died. It came with a note that I should give this to Amy if he died suddenly in the near future. We have no one in our family called Amy, and then I realised he used to talk a lot about you, especially rescuing him in Mexico.” Amy gave a faint smile as the woman spoke. “I’m sorry I didn’t get it to you sooner, but living out of town, and with the funeral arrangements, this was the first chance I’ve had. I’m not sure why he didn’t send it to you directly...”
“It doesn’t matter; maybe he didn’t have time and just sent it to the first address he could think of.” Amy smiled. “Thank you.”
The young woman nodded and walked away, leaving Amy standing alone once again. Why hadn’t he sent it to her directly? Maybe he’d thought it was safer that way, that she’d actually receive it. If Al had been murdered, would they have known he was a reporter, and tried intercepting it, going to the paper? Would it give her anonymity?
She tore open the envelope, hoping it would give her some answers. She frowned at the contents - two keys. There was a small note with scribbled handwriting, which she instantly recognised as Al’s.
‘In case something happens to me,’ read the note.
Amy had clutched the keys and with a nod of determination to herself, she’d walked back to her car. Her intentions had been to attend the wake to pay her respects, then get to work with the keys. But Hannibal had called, and so after the wake, she’d headed out with the team to Sobaco County to deal with Gaines and the keys had had to wait.
“This is your stop, Amy,” Face said, opening the side door of the van, rousing Amy from her daydream.
“Oh, thanks,” she replied, gathering her bags and getting out of the van.
“Yeah, yeah, fine. See you guys soon.”
Amy dashed up to her apartment, dumped her bag, changed her clothes, and within minutes was driving over to Al’s place. Her anxiety was lifting now she was able to concentrate on this quest. She had a feeling she was about to find some of Al’s secrets.
One key allowed Amy into Al’s house via the backdoor into the kitchen. Luckily the family hadn’t been in any rush to put it up for auction, so everything was still in place. It seemed eerily quiet in the early evening, with just enough light for her to see around the house. She didn’t dare turn on a light and draw attention to the place. She had a key, so she wasn’t breaking in, but she still felt like she shouldn’t be there.
Amy now had the smaller key in her hand, and was cautiously walking through the house, looking to see what it might fit. She remembered the layout, having been there in the past. Nothing had changed or was out of place. Had the police even been here?
A bureau stood in the hallway, letters and papers piled on top of it. She wondered if Al would have put something in there, being so obvious. However, if he’d been in a rush then he might not have had time to find a more secretive hiding place. She tried the bureau first, and to her relief the key fit. At least that meant she didn’t need to creep around his house anymore. Even though he was dead, it still felt like she was invading his privacy.
Rummaging inside the bureau, Amy found a brown folder marked with her name. She hurried to the table in the dining room, and pulled out the contents of the folder. It contained photographs of three young girls, with scribbled notes attached to them; apparently Al had made contact with the families involved. All three girls were under sixteen and missing. All had past histories of running away from home, but this time they hadn’t returned.
There were notes about a club and a photograph of its owner, Laurence Harper. And then various pieces of paper with just hand scribbled notes that she’d need to decipher. It didn’t look like there was anything solid to confirm a link between all this and Al Massey’s death.
A small piece of paper fell onto the floor. Amy picked it up and read it, apprehension spreading through her.
‘Lead - Ted Seckman.’
There was another name on the back; ‘Tasha’s,’ and a street name. Was it a name of a bar or someplace where this person could be found?
Amy stuffed all the papers back into the file, double-checking the bureau before locking it back up. She went out the back door, locking it behind her and headed for her car. She needed to go home to read this file thoroughly, and to make a plan.
Amy stepped off a tram after the Universal Studios tour. It was one week since finding Al’s folder and she’d been in the middle of her preparations when Hannibal had called, wanting to meet the next morning.
“Hannibal... Is that you?” she asked, looking up, frowning at the giant lizard that stood before her. Apparently, Hannibal was working at the studios as the Aquamaniac for a while. So here she was, but with her mind preoccupied with the contents of Al’s file.
“Yeah, kid, it’s me.” She could hear the jazz in his voice, knowing how much he loved his acting, even if it was from inside a lizard suit.
“Hey, Mom, can I have my photo taken with the Aquamaniac?” Hannibal turned and roared for the camera, with a boy standing beside him. Once the family was finished he turned to Amy.
“Come on, we haven’t much time. Mickey Stern and his niece, Randy, should be here in twenty minutes.”
“You’re meeting the clients here?”
“Yeah, we’ve put them through the usual routine. They met with Mr Lee yesterday. They’re legitimate. BA’s clearing one of the trams now. Follow me.”
Amy followed Hannibal, trying to hide her need to giggle, watching him waddle in the lizard suit. Up ahead she could see BA inside a tram. Hannibal accepted BA’s help onto the tram before awkwardly sitting down at the end. BA opened up a flap in the front of the lizard suit, around its neck area, to reveal Hannibal’s face, sweating and smiling.
“Where’s Face?” Amy asked.
“He’s coming,” BA answered. “Just checking the perimeters.”
“Amy, I need you to dig up what you can on Denham Constructions,” Hannibal said. “From what our clients have told Mr Lee, this company is bent on putting them out of business. Sounds like they’re trying to cripple Stern’s company.”
Amy took out her notepad and scribbled some notes.
“Ah... Hannibal, how soon do you need this? I can do it for you, but I’m not going to be able to meet this client.” Hannibal gave her a surprised frown. “I’ve got another story to follow up, something personal. And something has just come up that I need to attend to.”
He stared at her for a moment. “Massey’s death, right?”
“Uh, yes.” She nodded. “I’ve been working on some leads over the past week, and I’ve finally gotten somewhere. I have an appointment today - I got the call just after you called me.”
Finally, Hannibal nodded. “Okay, kid, but are you sure you want to go it alone? We can help you out.”
“Yeah, Amy, we don’t mind.” BA gave a concerned smile.
“No, no, you guys stick with this. It sounds like this Mickey Stern really needs your help.” She’d contemplated asking the team for help, but she felt she needed to do this on her own. They’d helped her to find Massey that time in Mexico, and well, she sometimes felt guilty about the way she’d ‘talked’ herself into the team, to tag along with them. It had worked out alright in the end. Face had even persuaded Hannibal that a little attention from the press would help encourage some paying customers. But all the same...
“Look, I’d better go.” She glanced at her watch. “I’ve got a long drive ahead of me.” Hannibal nodded, as she stood up. “Just let me know how it goes, okay?”
“Yeah, we’ll make sure you get the story.” Hannibal grinned.
“Um... I didn’t mean that.” Is that what they thought, that they were just about a story to her? Would they ever realise she actually cared about them? Or did they keep everyone, even friends, at arm’s length? “Just be careful, you guys.”
“You too, kid,” Hannibal said, as she stepped off the tram.
She turned back to face them, struck with anxiety. She was actually going off to do this alone. “I’ll call you and let you know what I find out about Denham.”
Hannibal waved his giant lizard claw, looking like he was giving her a thumbs up, but she wasn’t sure. She took a deep breath and walked away from the tram.
“So, just the four of us, man?” BA rubbed his chin.
“Certainly looks that way, BA,” Hannibal replied. He certainly hadn’t seen that coming. But since Massey’s death, Amy had been distant, not truly focussed on the team’s activities. She’d shared her suspicions with the team about Massey’s car wreck and was obviously working towards finding the truth. Maybe he should’ve realised.
“You think she’ll be okay, Hannibal?” BA asked with a grimace, watching Amy walk off into the busy crowds. “Not sure I like it.”
“I don’t know, BA.” Hannibal frowned. “She’s a tough kid but I hope she doesn’t get herself into something... nah, never mind.” BA frowned as Hannibal shook his head. “Just... whatever Massey found, he wound up dead.”
“If he found something.”
“True, BA. True. Part of me really wants his death to have been an accident.”
“Maybe once we done this job, we can go help her.”
Hannibal nodded and stood up. “BA, help me back off this tram, my head is too...”
“Big.” BA giggled, helping Hannibal get off the tram. “Don’t I know it.” BA closed the flap up to conceal Hannibal’s face.
“I was going to say it’s top heavy,” Hannibal said, his voice muffled under the costume. “Okay, let’s get this show on the road. Face should be here any minute.”
Amy shoved her notepad into her bag as she walked through the crowds at Universal Studios. She’d have to make a quick call to Zack before she headed out of town. He’d dig this stuff up for her in no time. But she had a job interview to attend and it was important she got the job.
“Hey, Amy, where you going? Hannibal and BA are this way.” She looked up, stopping in her tracks as Face caught her arm.
“Oh, uh, hi, Face,” she replied, unable to hide her dismay. She’d been hoping to avoid bumping into him, knowing he’d try to talk her out of what she was about to do. The team knew about Massey’s death, but Face knew how important it was to her. He knew how the news had affected her.
“You’re walking the wrong way. Is your head in the clouds?”
“I’ve just seen Hannibal and BA,” she replied. She took a deep breath. “I’m not doing this job with you.”
“Oh... Uh...” Face frowned. “Why not? It doesn’t sound like you to miss out on an A-Team exclusive.”
“I’ve got something I really need to follow up.”
“Massey?” His tone became deadly serious.
“Yeah, yeah, at Al’s funeral -”
“His funeral! Why didn’t you tell me? I would have come with you.”
“Thank you, but I was fine, honest.” She shrugged. “But after the funeral, Al’s niece gave me an envelope from Al. I couldn’t do anything then, as we headed straight out to help Jamie and the guys, but I’ve now got his notes on the story he was working on.”
“I can’t tell you now, I haven’t got much time.” Amy glanced at her watch.
“Why didn’t you tell me about the package?”
“We were pretty busy out there with Gaines. I thought I’d leave it.” She’d gone to find him, to tell him, but instead had stumbled on Face trying his lines on Amanda. After that she’d tried hard not to rely on him. It made her feel like it had been a mistake staying with him that night. Amy couldn’t explain the effect Face was having on her, but she knew it was wrong, and maybe some time away from the team would help her focus on her true goals. It felt like having some school girl crush on her teacher, and that wasn’t cool. And not allowed.
“Hey, I would have made time.”
“Oh, Face!” Amy snapped. “Do I really need to spell it out for you? You were busy with Amanda. Remember?”
Face looked away, unable meet her eye, combing his hand through his hair.
Amy anxiously glanced at her watch again. “Anyway, I’ve got to go. I’ve got some investigating to do.” Amy started to walk off but Face grabbed her arm.
“Look, Amy, don’t do anything stupid, will you?”
“Face!” She looked at his hand, firmly gripping her arm and frowned.
“All I’m saying is that if you’re right about this, then Massey got himself killed, remember? You could be going up against -”
“I know what I’m doing, okay?” Amy replied, pulling her arm out of Face’s grip and placed her hands on her hips. “I’m just going to get the evidence I need, then get the hell out of there.”
Face nodded, but she could see he wasn’t truly convinced.
“Face, if I get into some trouble, I’ll call you guys.” He stared at her. “I promise!”
Amy turned and walked away. She could do this. Life didn’t revolve around the A-Team. Or Face. She had to start learning not to rely on them. They wouldn’t always be there. Something she’d maybe forgotten.
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