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Around Every Corner

By Mizhowlinmad

(HBF), 2010

 

Rating: PG

Summary: April Fool's Day finds the guys paying a little prankish visit to someone near and dear to their hearts. Response to the ATSB April Fool's challenge.

Disclaimer: The A-Team belongs to SJC and Universal. This is purely for fun and a bit of foolishness on my part.

 

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That afternoon, Colonel Roderick Decker had been the epitome of the toughness his position demanded. He and his squad of MPs had run across a group of yokels just outside Trona, trussed up like pigs, their mouths gagged with strips of cloth. When Decker had yanked the leader's gag free, the idiot had babbled on and on about how four mystery guys with automatic weapons had jumped them, stolen their methamphetamine lab on wheels and all their own guns, then tied them up and left them to bake in the blistering Mojave sun. They'd even left a little calling card, in the form of a placard tied to the gang's ropes that said "Please haul us in for drug running. Thank you."

Signed, The A-Team.

Decker had, of course, taken out his rising fury on the only available target.

"I want these sons of bitches behind bars now!" he remembered shouting at Crane. His captain, normally the quintessential soldier, had seemed concerned.

"Sir, are you all right?"

It had been a fair enough question. The squad had chased the A-Team up and down the desert hills all day, and they were exhausted. One hundred-and-twenty degree heat did that to any man. It was the sheer futility of it all made it close to unbearable.

"Get this trash out of here and we'll head back to base, Captain."

"Yes, sir."

It seemed like a long time ago, but it had been maybe six hours. They'd driven back to Fort Irwin with their prisoners in tow, where Decker had filed yet another of his "close but no cigar" accounts of how he'd almost captured the A-Team. That made…somewhere in the double digits? He’d lost count and didn’t really care to know the exact total.

It was enough to make even a man like Decker turn to drink.

He was at home now, a modest little bungalow just outside the base. His working greens were gone, and he was almost unrecognizable in a faded University of Kansas t-shirt and flannel pajama bottoms. With one hand he cradled a half-full glass of Wild Turkey on the rocks; the other held the remote control for his brand-new, 26-inch Toshiba TV.

To hell with the A-Team. They couldn't escape forever. Tonight was his time.

Even better, it was a chance to watch his Jayhawks play against North Carolina in the Final Four basketball game. The thought of it was enough to elicit a slight half-smile on his weathered face as he clicked the "On" button.

***

Outside, a half-block away, a black van crouched, waiting.

"You're positive it's gonna work?" Hannibal grinned.

"Man, it's gonna be fun." B.A. giggled.

The big man pressed a button of his own.

***

Decker frowned.

The TV, inexplicably, was showing a re-run of I Love Lucy, and Lucille Ball was going on a drunken monologue about "Vitameatavegemin."

Damn foreign TVs. They never worked right. He should have bought the Zenith after all.

With a stab of his finger, he clicked. It had been Channel 8; Channel 9 was a soap opera in Spanish. Back down to 8, and Lucy again.

Now he was puzzled. Channel 7, which should have been showing the news, was airing some sort of nature documentary about the giant sloth. What was strange was, the deadpan British narrator's voice sounded weirdly familiar.

With a shake of his head, Decker paused. This had to have a logical explanation. He glanced at his watch. 7:15. That was right. Then, to the calendar tacked above his kitchen ledge. April first, Friday. Also correct. The game should be on, and he should be watching it.

Could he actually have gone a little stir-crazy out in the sun today?

No. He just had too much A-Team on the brain. This called for some more whiskey.

**

"Face, you ready?"

"Ready, Hannibal," he said, hand poised by the phone.

"Okay, Operation Scrambled Eggs, Phase 1, is underway. Now for phase 2…"

***

Decker returned to his living room with a full glass. Taking a deep pull at it, he blinked once, retook his reclining position, and switched on the TV once more.

There was no mistake. Channel 8 was indeed showing I Love Lucy. Cursing under his breath, Decker flicked through each of the nine channels. The game was nowhere in sight. Something was wrong. He reached for the phone on the end table, almost spilling his drink with the sudden movement. He had a nearly photographic memory, and was able to dial the TV station's number from memory.

Two rings. Three. Then…

"WFLN Los Angeles."

"I don't know what you people think is funny, but there's an important basketball game on right now and you aren't showing it," growled Decker.

The young-sounding man on the other end didn't say anything. Then he laughed nervously.

Decker could swear he knew that laugh.

"Oh, the game. Are you a fan, sir?" The operator’s question was too casual.

"Look, I have my TV Guide right here. You're showing the Final Four game at nineteen-hundred hours on Friday, April first." Decker had risen from his chair and was pacing back and forth like an agitated lion. "Are you trying to tell me I'm wrong, son?"

There was another pause, then a rustle of papers as If the station employee were consulting a how-to manual. "No, sir, nothing like that. Let's see…are you experiencing a loss or partial loss in the picture?"

"No." Decker choked down his rapidly rising temper.

"Any trouble with static or picture interference?"

"No!"

"Is your television set plugged in?"

Something gave way in Decker's consciousness. "I just want to watch the goddamn game. Is that too much to ask?"

He could almost picture the hapless station employee reacting the same way Crane had earlier. "Uh, well, sir, have you tried going up on the roof to adjust your antenna?"

Decker fumed. "I'll try that, but if it doesn't work, I'm comin' down to that station and speaking to your manager directly."

"Thank you for calling WFLN, sir. We hope your problem is resolved quickly."

He terminated the call. That voice was familiar.

***

After twenty or so minutes spent on his roof, Decker was more than ready to get back inside. He'd probably missed the first half by now. He was now not only physically exhausted, but halfway drunk, sweating, and stained with tar. The good spirits from earlier, just before the game,had quickly given way to a seething rage.

Inside, he kicked off his slippers and made his way back into the living room. The TV stared at him like an accusing eye.

With a mixture of caution and anxiety, he flipped on the button. To his immense surprise and relief, I Love Lucy had been replaced by the basketball game. Still four minutes left in the half.

Now he could, at last, relax.

***

"Time for phase 3," Hannibal said as he continued to apply his favorite false nose. "Murdock, did you get that tape in okay?"

"Colonel, it's just rarin' to go…"

***

As the minutes passed, Decker felt his heart rate begin to fade from an angry gallop to a more sedentary pace. It was thirty seconds to halftime, with Kansas on top 38-34. Time to get another drink, and then watch the highlights from the part he'd missed.

"We interrupt this broadcast to bring you breaking news…"

"Now what?" Decker practically threw the empty glass at the TV screen, then remembered the set had cost him three hundred bucks. When he saw what was on the screen, his jaw dropped.

It was Smith. Smith and Peck. Sitting on an ugly floral sofa somewhere, smiling like two cats who had just caught a fat mouse.

"Hi there, Decker," Smith's voice came. He waved. "We thought we'd bring you a little entertainment for your rare evening off. We know how much you like being entertained."

The two men sang in harmony:

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy, when skies are grey…

"Smith!!" Decker did throw the glass. It sailed wide left. "What the hell?"

He noticed then that Baracus was there with them, standing slightly to the side, a stern expression on his bearded face. Then, a slight smile. Baracus was clearly mocking him.

Please don't take my sunshine away…

Decker didn't know how they were doing all of this. But he knew, without a shred of doubt, that the A-Team was behind all of the night's troubles. And if they were, they had to be close. Very close.

"Smith, you're going down." The last word was an oath.

He hurried back to the laundry room to retrieve his sweat-stained uniform.

***

"How do I look, kid?"

Face winced. "Like a million."

"Murdock, you got my props?"

"Right here, Colonel."

"Then, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I'll be back," Hannibal said jovially. He opened the passenger door.

***

Decker looked like himself again. Head-to-toe greens, a steely grimace on his face. He was pulling on his right boot when the doorbell rang its Big Ben chimes.

Dammit, what now?

He staggered towards the door, the whiskey making the task difficult than usual. The peephole on the door revealed a stooped Italian guy with a stained "Sal's Pizza Shack" polo shirt, an enormous pizza box in his arms, and a surly expression.

"Pops, you got the wrong house. I didn't order a pizza," Decker said as he opened the door a few inches.

"Somebody ordered a pizza at this address," the deliveryman responded, not budging. "And I wanna get paid. Twenty-two fifty, not counting the tip."

"I said I didn't order a pizza," snapped Decker, shooing the man away. "Now get outta here!"

The Italian shrugged, then opened his pizza box. "Never did like you Army types. Such cheap bastards." Before Decker had a chance to blink, he saw the .45 in the man's hand.

Decker gulped despite himself, holding his hands in the air. "Look, pops, I didn't mean anything by it. You're messing with the wrong guy anyway…"

With a swift, practiced motion, the "Italian" removed his curly wig and baseball cap to reveal the silver hair underneath. "No, I think we got the right guy, Decker."

"Smith…"

"Right again." Hannibal cocked the .45. "Any last words?"

Decker couldn't believe it. Smith was going to shoot him, here, in his own house, and there was nothing he could do about it.

"So you're gonna shoot me? Is that it?" Decker said. "I don't like your methods, Smith, never have, but I thought you had more guts than to shoot a man in his own house in cold blood."

Smith seemed to think the statement was hilarious. He grinned broadly. "No, not blood, Decker. Never did enjoy the sight of it much, but…since you asked…"

He pulled the trigger. What came out of the barrel was not a bullet, and no blood could be seen. What did come out was powerful stuff nevertheless. Decker staggered back, furious, wiping at his stricken eyes.

"It's been fun, Colonel, but I really must be going," Hannibal said cheerily, holstering the fake .45 and dashing through the open door. "Enjoy the rest of the game."

He made a halfhearted effort to run after his nemesis, but whatever he'd been sprayed with was making him sick and nauseous. He sank to his knees. Once again, he was defeated.

Damn you, Smith…

***

The van's tires screeched as it pulled away from the curb. In his customary seat, Hannibal removed the fake nose, aware that three sets of curious eyes were upon him.

"Colonel, why did you…"

"Hannibal, what did Decker…"

"Man, you really on the jazz…"

He lit a victory cigar, his men's voices a tangled jumble in his ear.

Finally, Face managed to ask him the question they were all dying to know.

"So what happened?"

Hannibal shrugged. "It went just according to plan, Lieutenant. Couldn't have executed it any better."

At the wheel, B.A. turned to him. "What you put in that water pistol, man? Stuff was pretty awful. Stinkin' up my van."

"Skunk," was Hannibal's answer.

"Skunk?" came the three-part chorus in response.

"You know, from Mike." Hannibal grinned boyishly. "I hear it's near impossible to get out of Army greens."

"Why skunk?"

Hannibal spun in his seat. "Well, because I think there's a certain decorum for April Fool's jokes, even for Decker." He shrugged and puffed at his cigar. "Using dog urine would have just been mean."

**

Decker had showered in boiling water for half an hour, though it did little for the pungent, powerful smell of skunk. He was sadly resigned to the fact that he'd have to go to the base infirmary tomorrow to see if they could do anything for his smelly predicament.

Weary, half-drunk, he staggered back to the living room. In fury, he grabbed the videotape the A-Team had obviously planted in there while he'd been outside, and threw it into the fireplace.

If he were lucky, maybe he'd catch the end of the game. That was a big "if."

The TV flickered to life again. Channel 8 was selected, and Lucille Ball was doing a merry dance in a vat full of grapes.

"Smith, you'll pay for this."

 

Fini

 


Around Every Corner by Mizhowlinmad

 

 


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