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500 Miles

500 Miles

by stompy sara

 

Rated. . . . . PG

Warnings. . . .language

Summary. . .  .a little downtime (Vietnam)

Disclaimer. . .The A-Team and its characters copyright Steven J. Cannell and Co.

Author's notes: hm. . . a bit of sap ahead, but it popped in my head and wouldn't let go.  Title taken from the folk song of the same name copyright Hedy West, rewritten/released by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1965.  Lyrics in the story adapted by Peter, Paul and Mary.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Face was bored.

 

Oh, it had been a good day, really.  For one thing, they hadn't

had to go out and kill anyone.  Not that he wasn't up to it.  He

just liked the break for once.  He lay on his stomach on the

narrow metal bed, watched the guys.  B.A. and the Colonel were

playing cards with a crate between the beds for a table. 

Hearts, it looked like.  He sighed loudly, but they ignored him.

 B.A. wouldn't let him play, ever since catching him cheating

the other night.  Fine, that was just fine.

 

His eyes traveled the one-room hooch.  Too small for them, now

that they were four.  And just where was Murdock?  Face didn't

understand why the Colonel wanted that pilot, particularly. 

They'd been on seven missions with various pilots, and they'd

all gone off without a hitch.  The last two had been - close. 

Too close for Face's taste.  But the Colonel had that gleam in

his eyes, that grin just a little too crazed for his taste.  And

Murdock's grin had matched.  Even sliding in under tracers from

all sides.  Even after the bullet that had glanced off his

shoulder pulling Webster in.  It must have been those grins. 

The Colonel and the Captain spoke the same language.

 

Face shifted onto his side, let his mind wander.  He wondered

how old Murdock was.  The Colonel said this was his second tour,

but he didn't look any older than Face.  Well, maybe the eyes. 

That led to darker thoughts though, of the jungle, and sleeping

with eyes open and silent death, things better left alone until

more time had passed.  He turned his musings onto a different

path.  Maybe Murdock would know how to alleviate the boredom. He

slid down to the dirt floor, pulled on a t-shirt.

 

"Uh, is it alright if I go out?"

 

The Colonel looked up past the cigar smoke.  "Suit yourself,

kid.  It's gonna be a long week."

 

"That's fine by me,"  B.A. snorted.  "Gonna rain, I can tell. 

Ain't no need to go in with that kinda weather."

 

"Yeah, right."  Face stepped out into sharp sunlight and the hum

of lazy activity.  Actually, more of a drone.  Nothing going on

anywhere today.  He drifted down the row of hooches, seeking the

pilot, waving to a few soldiers lounging outside in folding

chairs.  He thought he could hear a guitar.  Unconsciously he

drifted in that direction, drawn by the comforting sound of the

plucked strings, laughter, voices raised in song.

 

He turned down another aisle where the pilots usually gathered a

little ways away from the rest of the men.  A slight breeze

carried the voices to him again, one a little louder than the

rest, a husky baritone.  Behind the last hooch in the row, a

group sat in a circle.  One of them, a rangy redhead whose bare

shoulders already blistered in the sun, sat strumming the

guitar.  Murdock was standing, long arms raised in dramatic

gesture.  Face grinned, watching him.  The guy never did

anything by halves, including flying.  Guess that was lucky for

them.  Feeling shy now, Face lingered near the hooch, watching

and listening.

 

"You call that singing, Cardenas?  Naw, naw.  Listen and learn,

muchacho."

 

"What you got to teach me, _muchacho_?  Nada, man."

 

Murdock laughed, flicked his spent cigarette, turned to the

redhead.  "Okay, Gwynn.  You know what I wanna hear."

 

Gwynn smiled, pulled a few notes from the guitar.  And Murdock

sang.

 

"If you miss the train I'm on

you will know that I am gone

you can hear the whistle blow

a hundred miles.

Hundred miles, a hundred miles

A hundred miles, a hundred miles

you can hear the whistle blow

A hundred miles. . ."

 

Face went still, entranced.  Murdock wove his voice deftly

between the notes lifted into the air by the guitar, softly at

first, plaintive, but balanced and strong all at once.  A smooth

tenor just hovering that line leading to baritone.  The longing

in his eyes wrenched Face's heart.  The words were simple, and

repetitive, and effective.  The circle of men was quiet.

 

"Lord I'm one, Lord I'm two

Lord I'm three, Lord I'm four

Lord I'm five hundred miles

from my home.

Five hundred miles, five hundred miles

five hundred miles, five hundred miles

Lord I'm five hundred miles

from my home.

 

Not a shirt on my back

not a penny to my name

Lord I can't go a-home

this-a-way.

This-a-way, this-a-way,

this-a-way, this-a-way

Lord I can't go a-home

this-a-way.

 

If you miss the train I'm on

You will know that I am gone

You can hear the whistle blow

A hundred miles."

 

There was a hushed quiet as the last note was coaxed from the

guitar and Murdock's voice sent the final word floating away. 

Face's eyes burned, his hands clutched rigidly together. 

Murdock was still standing, looking out, way out onto the rice

paddies, gaze traveling to the distant mountains, seeing -

another land.  Another country.  He turned slowly towards Face,

and for a moment, their eyes locked. 

 

And Face saw in them exactly what it was that made Murdock so

much older than himself.

 

Murdock's eyes softened.  He looked down at Cardenas, who was

nodding, clearly impressed.

 

"You gots it, muchacho.  I give you that.  But can your white

ass dance?"

 

The men laughed, the melancholy shoved back down where no one

could see it.  Murdock finally shouted that he was leaving to

find some truly classy company, sauntered over to Face, hands

deep in fatigue pockets.  Raised an eyebrow, grin on crooked. 

Face's answering smile was shaky.

 

"You've got a pretty good voice, Murdock."

 

"Eh.  You know, it's perfect for duck calling.  Or singing bad

opera solos."  He shrugged, started back down the row towards

the officer's club.  Face fell into step beside him.

 

"What was that song?"

 

Murdock's smile focused inward.  "Something my aunt used to

sing, when I would stay with her summers sometimes.  She's from

Kentucky.  Told me it's some folk song from over there."

 

Face nodded.  "It made me think of - "  He didn't say it. 

Caught up in a memory of touch football on the orphanage lawn,

summer picnics.  Sister Katherine's mellow voice singing hymns

and playing the guitar, circle of children caught in rapt

attention.  He shook his head, tried to shake the memories with

it.  All past, left behind.  He had responsibilities now.  He

was a man.

 

Behind them, Hall had stolen the guitar from Gwynn, crooned out

old blues in a high, scratchy voice.  Face glanced back, thought

about the magic of the circle, the still day, the music. 

Smiled, real this time, and put an arm around Murdock's thin

shoulders.  Murdock glanced down, dark eyes half-closed.  Face

looked away. He hadn't missed the considering look, or the

almost-flinch.  Before he could pull away, the pilot slapped him

on the back.

 

"How about a beer, muchacho?"

 

"Sounds good to me.  Hey, I talk to the bartender, I _know_ he's

got this real smooth bourbon back in the store room, got it for

me specially."

 

"Bourbon?  I don't know nuthin' about bourbon, Faceman."

 

"C'mon, trust me!  You won't regret it.  Oh yeah, B.A. told me

he's got the slick all ready set go for the next mission.  And

he wants Webster to try out this new rig of his."

 

Together, they walked into the bar.  They didn't see Hannibal

leaning against the doorframe of the hooch, half hidden behind

the curtain of olive-drab fabric that served as a door. 

Squinting behind the cigar.  Eyes smiling. 

 

Knew his boys were feeling a little bit closer to home.

 

~end~

 


500 Miles by stompy sara

 

 


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