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This page last viewed: 2017-04-25 and has been viewed 4010 times
Disclaimer: The A-Team characters belong to Stephen J.
Cannell and Universal.
Warning: Lots of angst and depression. Some foul language
and sex (not graphic). Some suicidal thoughts.
Comments: Abuse welcomed. [Special thanks to Merry, Partly
and a host of others for their comments]
Summary: Face copes with an ordinary day during Season Four.
12:30 a. m.
What the hell is going on? It's Friday night – no Saturday morning – and it's all nobodies here. Actually, there are people here, but nobody who's anybody.
The Shasta used to be the hottest club on the Strip and now it's just big-haired girls who look like they escaped from Glendale. And the guys all look like refugees from bank jobs and mail rooms. Wannabees. There's a guy over by the door who looks like he could be Murdock's next-door neighbor.
Christ. I'm usually out of this place – at her place – by this time of night, but there's not even a decent piece of ass to choose from.
I am not going home alone.
I've been out in the field for too long. Texas for that goddamn concert that Dash Goldman screwed me over. Then out of town for Murdock's psych testing, not to mention helping that kid protect his oil well. And after that it was running out of state to help BA's old girlfriend. After all that, I deserve a break tonight.
After all that, it's a wonder LA's still here. No wonder I didn't know the party had left the Shasta.
Screw it. I'm not going home alone.
Wait a sec. . . There. . . That's a possibility. . . Turn around, darling. . . That's good. . . Well, sort of. . . Not great. . . Not really up to spec.
I'm not going home alone.
Another drink. That's what I need. Another drink and I probably won't even notice.
"Mike, give me a double-shot. Tequila. That's great, man."
Ahh, that burns, but as Hannibal always said in Nam, the more it burns, the more it toughens you up. Right now I need all the extra fortitude I can get.
Smile. That's right, darling. You. Yes, you. You've won the Faceman sweepstakes for tonight. Most nights you wouldn't be in the running. That's right. Come on over, introduce yourself and then let's get the hell out of this place.
"Hi there, darling."
"You're John, aren't you?"
Am I? I've been a lot of Johns over the years. "Why do you ask?"
"Because my friend Debra told me about you. She said every woman should spend one night with John Daniels."
Debra. . . Now Debra, I remember. She was a hot, little number. "How's Debra? Is she here?"
"She moved to New York."
Too bad. Debra would have been nice tonight. Pity. Guess that means I have to make do with what's available. Take a deep breath and give her my best, seductive smile. "So she said that about me? I'm glad to know my reputation proceeds me."
The drink's helping. So's her hand running up my thigh.
"John, how about we get out of here?"
I'm getting some weird vibes, but it might just be her hand. Aaahhh, that's good.
"My apartment's not far. Or I'll spring for the motel down the block."
Wait a second. Something's not right about this.
"Hey, I'm not some whore, lady."
"I never said you were. I just thought you might want to have some fun tonight, rather than going home alone." The reaction her hand is getting proves she's right. "Sure looks like one part of you is interested. Hehehe."
I hate women who giggle, but maybe, just this once, I'll make an exception. God, I need another drink. "Mike, give me another shot."
Thank God it comes fast. It burns going down.
5:00 a. m.
Don't wake her, you idiot. Do you really want to go another round with. . . with whatever that is.
Could that possibly have been worse?
She told me what to do so many times that I thought I was screwing Hannibal. Lady, the day I need directions from you is the day I take a dive off the First Interstate building.
Aww, jeez, and I've got a hangover. Feels like Pedro Guerrero knocked my head over the left field bleachers. How much did I drink?
I've got to get out of here. Just get to the 'vette, get home, get a shower and just forget last night.
What the hell was I thinking?
9:25 a. m.
"Yeah, Hannibal. I got the files you wanted."
Don't say it, Hannibal. Don't say it.
He said it.
"Yeah, Hannibal. A piece of cake."
Piece of cake, my ass. Does he have any idea what it took to get the police files that proved the new "clients" were plants? Doesn't he realize that I had to walk past wanted posters with my face on them, deflecting the "Don't I know you from somewhere?" questions until I found the right room, conned the desk clerk and located the files.
"Uh huh. Yeah, Hannibal. Of course. It's taken care of."
I know I shouldn't say it. I should hang up the phone and grab a soda from the fridge. But I can't stop myself.
"Hannibal, what would you do without me?"
Aww, damn it, Hannibal. Why didn't you just pull out your 9 mm and blow my brains out?
You'd get by?
After fifteen years, that's what you think. "You'd get by" without me. Thanks for making me feel like part of the team.
"What? . . . Umm. . . Yeah. . . I'm fine. No. No problem. . . I'm just a little tired. . . Didn't get much sleep last night. . . Yeah. . . Hannibal, you have no idea how fine she was. . . Should have seen her. A real looker. . . Well, I'm gonna go. Take a nap, I think. . . Yeah. . . See you soon. "
Sometimes it's good to be a world-class liar. There's no point in letting Hannibal know the truth. He'd probably just give me some lecture. Probably say something about it being a stupid risk to sleep with a stranger. Kind of like the lecture he keeps giving me about staying away from the orphanage reunion next month. A stupid, unnecessary risk. That's what he calls it.
Maybe, but I'd still like to go. I'd like to show them what a success Templeton Peck became.
I know I can come up with something.
11:50 a. m.
"Here you go, Mr. Williams."
"Yessir, Officer. I'll make sure I keep her under 25. You know how hard it is in a baby like this." I go out of my way to pat the steering wheel of the 'vette for emphasis, but the cop's not buying it. Guy should have just given me a warning. I know it says school crossing, you moron, but it also says when children are present. What kids are going to school on a Saturday in late July?
"You have a nice day, Mr. Williams. You'll receive a letter from the court giving you details."
Plastic smile. "Thanks, Officer."
Yeah, Officer Whatever-Your-Name-Is, thanks a whole hell of a lot. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get fake drivers licenses and social security cards? Not the fake ones the illegals get, but the real, honest-to-goodness, FBI-couldn't-tell-the-difference IDs? Now I have to dump "Josh Williams" altogether. What a waste.
All because I couldn't talk my way out of a damn traffic ticket.
What kind of con artist can't talk his way out of a freaking traffic ticket?
Thank God Hannibal and Murdock aren't here right now. I can almost hear them.
'You're losing it, Face.'
'Naww, muchacho's just gettin' old.'
Yeah, that's what I need. Some nice encouragement from my friends. Damn, I almost forgot to smile goodbye at the officer. Just in time. A fake show of teeth and small wave. 'Bye, Officer. Hope you drive that motorcycle off the cliff at Dead Man's Curve.'
Aww, what am I doing blaming him? It's not his fault. He's just doing his job.
No, I'm not much of a con artist these days. Yeah, I can get some files here and there, but all the big stuff recently has gone to pot. Cowboy George was a disaster. I lifted the wrong FBI agent's badge when we went after those guys in the marina. I don't even want to think about the movie in Mexico. I let Hannibal get kidnapped when I confused him with another wino – some leader I was on that mission. I couldn't get admitted into the Beverly Bay Country Club. The house in the Valley was a total loss, even though I lied about the financials so BA wouldn't kill me over them. I even got out-conned by one of Murdock's shrink's other patients.
Then there was the fake pardon. . . Oh damn. I'd better not even begin with that.
What was it Hannibal said? 'Face, you're on a cold streak.'
He really has no clue, does he?
I've been on cold streaks before. A cold streak is when things goes wrong a couple of times in a row.
This isn't a cold streak.
This is an I-don't-give-a-shit-any-more streak.
Aww, damn it, I'd better stop the car before I drive off a cliff. Enough people die up here on Mulholland when they're paying attention.
Why the hell am I even up here? Oh right, Murdock needs his comic books. God forbid something should prevent Murdock from getting his weekly comic book delivery, which for some reason can only come from a store in Tarzana, and not from any of the dozens of comic book stores closer to the VA. Of course not. It's not like I have anything better to do with my Saturday mornings than run halfway across the city to pick up Murdock's latest issues of X-Men, Batman and Fantastic Four.
Okay, maybe I don't.
Sometimes I wonder if there's really a point in all this.
It used to be that I'd run a scam, but there would be a part of me that kept it honest. That part would insist I do it for good reasons. That's the part that agreed to take a job for free because Carrie Hicks gave me some cookies. That's the part that insisted the team run off to Ecuador to help Leslie. That's the part that went undercover to save that foster home from the mob. That's the part that made sure we protected Rina from Johnny Turian even when she told me she didn't want our help.
That's the part that God likes to kick in the teeth from time to time.
That's also a part that Hannibal doesn't want to see. Not like he'd ever admit it, but I've seen it time and time again. Like on the plane to Ecuador. Just when I was about to explain what Leslie meant to me, Hannibal decided to get out of Dodge and check on Murdock. So I got to bare my soul to Amy Allen of all people. Not my commanding officer, my "friend" of more than fifteen years. Hell, Hannibal didn't want to take the job in the first place. He made me beg. After everything I'd done over the years for the team.
It's been the same story other times. Like after I said we wouldn't force the Hicks to sell their farm, Hannibal gave me a hard time about it. "What's gotten into you, kid?" That's what he said. Like I'd grown horns in their living room. Not like it wasn't something he'd done dozens of time. No, it just was something I couldn't do.
No. There's no place for a nice, con artist on Hannibal's team.
Just like there's no place on the team for someone who actually wants anything out of life.
Rina pretty much summed that all up. The icing on the cake. The cherry on the top of the sundae. Just one final kick in the teeth, just as a reminder.
I know we could have been happy. There had to be a way to make things work out. We just never got a chance.
How did Hannibal put it? "If you want to play, you've got to pay, Lieutenant?"
He might even be right. He's just forgotten that I never wanted to play in the first place.
What if I don't want to play anymore? What if I want to be out of the game?
I could just shift the gear and punch the accelerator. A few moments of freefall.
Aww, what the hell am I thinking? I've got Murdock's comic books to deliver.
3:15 p. m.
Deep breath, Face. Take a deep breath. Just get to the car.
Okay, you made it. Come on, deep breaths.
I want to strangle Murdock right now. Two hours of listening to him rattle on about butterfly farming. No "how're you doing, Face?" or "what's up, Face?" Not even a hello or thank you for delivering my regular fix of misshapen behemoths in tights. No. Instead I got two hours about the differences between monarchs and sulfurs. And then there were the pipevine swallowtails – not to be confused with the polydamas swallowtail or the ornythion swallowtail – or was that shallowtails? Of course, don't forget all of the various streaks – bluestreaks, ministreaks, hairstreaks, groundstreaks.
Why do I bother? Next time, I'm going to let BA bash Murdock's skull in. Why should I always risk my neck for him?
Oh, who am I kidding? Of course, I'll intervene. It's what I always do. It's what I'm supposed to do.
God, I'm tired.
I'm also hungover and recovering from one of the worst sexual experiences of my life.
Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I need to erase last night altogether. Maybe I need to climb back on the proverbial horse and try again. But not at another club. Don't think I could take another night of that. I need to know exactly what I'm getting. I sometimes like the risk. There's a place for caveat emptor, but last night was like Russian Roulette and there's no way I'm going through that again. No, tonight we go for tried and true. Time for the little black book.
Mandy? No. She'll play hard to get and want something extra romantic. I can't do romantic tonight.
Too bad Rachel's not around. She's always fun, but that modeling gig in Italy was a chance of a lifetime.
Ahhhh. . . Leah. That would be perfect.
I have to check the book again. Need to remind myself who I am for Leah. Isn't that fitting? I need a book to let me know who I am. Or was.
The phone's ringing. A woman's voice.
"Leah, it's Derek Roberts. "
Silence. I probably don't have a good phone connection.
"Leah? Hi! It's Derek. "
Guess there was nothing wrong with the phone connection.
Oh, of course. Leah probably hasn't forgiven me for last time. Not that I really blame her. Finding Murdock watching Saturday morning cartoons in the living room at six in the morning was a bit of a surprise. Surprised me too, considering Murdock had to climb through the outside window of a five-story apartment to get in. At least I had the good fortune to put on a robe before leaving the bedroom. Poor Leah never had a chance.
Poor Murdock, too. Seeing Leah in all her glory set back his therapy by several months.
Sigh. When I find a pen, I'll cross out Leah's name in the book.
Let's see. Who else is there available on short notice? Sheila will already have plans for a Saturday night. So will Candy and Susan. Jennifer? Maybe. Oh, wait a second, she's born again. Last time I called, she asked me if I'd found Jesus and all I could think was to tell her I hadn't really been looking.
Aha. Brenda. Legs you can't believe, tits even more unbelievable and a mouth. . . well what she can do with her mouth. . . Brenda will do anything once and, then, she'll do it a second time. I'm getting excited just thinking about it. And I'm sure I can convince her to blow off anything she might have tonight. She's always up for a wild time with me.
Another glance at the book.
"Brenda, it's John Reilly. How are you? I'm glad to hear it. I'm in town and thought we might get together tonight. I've been thinking about--"
"You are? Wow. . . Twins. . . Yeah. . . He's a lucky guy. You can tell him that for me."
I guess Brenda's wild-child days are over. Damn, I need that pen.
Why didn't I make plans last week? Then I would have had my choice of dates. Take a deep breath, Face. Go back to the book. Let's see. It's not like there aren't plenty of women in there. No, there are lots of names and details. Just none are what I need right now. Too many woman want more than I can give.
Ginger. Oh, Ginger's perfect. A body to match Brenda's and plenty of other good things going for her. Ginger's a massage therapist. Or rather, was a massage therapist. All it took was getting a job for the right guy. An old man in oil and gas. Guess he liked what she did with her hands. And when he died, guess who got the keys to the castle?
Ginger's no longer a massage therapist. Now she's an artist.
"Ginger! It's Brian Hart. . . Yeah, I've been missing your ass too. . . Awww, you're making me blush, darling."
"Tonight? You know what they say about great minds. . . I was thinking an elegant dinner at Le Dome. . . See? I remember that sweet tooth. You, me, a chocolate souffle. . . Perfect. I'll pick you up at 6:45. Sounds good?"
I could call the restaurant now and make the reservation.
Ginger's perfect. A warm body. No attachments. Meaningless sex. To fill another meaningless night in my meaningless existence.
6:42 p. m.
The roses are fresh. Tie looks good. Every hair in place. Check my watch. Right on time.
I really love Ginger's apartment building. Elegant, tasteful and refined. Perfect tile floors and marble fixtures. Nice art on the walls. Incredible views of Santa Monica Bay.
Everything unlimited money can buy.
If it weren't for Ginger, I'd try to scam an apartment here.
Of course, it might be difficult to explain why Brian Hart suddenly moved in; especially when I'd probably have to use another name to get the place.
I hope I didn't get my signals crossed. Maybe I should have made that reservation. Maybe I should call right now. Maybe. . . Oh, get over it, Face. Just knock on the door.
"Come in. It's open."
God, I forgot how hot Ginger's voice makes me. They should make a dictionary with audio, just so they could put her voice next to "sultry". When she talks, steam rises.
"I'm in the studio."
Guess I didn't need to worry about the reservation after all. Ginger's wearing a paint-splattered apron.
And nothing else.
"Another blue period, Ginger?"
One snap and the apron's history. That's good. Man, I should try to get this stupid grin of my face, but I can't stop myself. How can I not smile at perfection? Uh oh. Ginger's got that look in her eyes. That I-know-what-I-want-and-you're-going-to-give-it-to-me look.
"Come here, Brian."
She doesn't need to ask twice.
9:48 p. m.
"I'm just going get a glass of water. I'll be back in a second."
I doubt Ginger heard a word I just said. She's got that dazed, dreamy expression that tells me she's not completely sure that what we just did really happened.
It happened, darling. Some of the best, hottest, most mind-blowing sex of your life. My life, too.
I don't know how long it took before we got to the bedroom, but neither of us were in a hurry. There's something about knowing what a woman wants and, after a couple years of sleeping with Ginger off-and-on, I know exactly how to make her go wild. Truth be told, it's pretty much the same the other way around. She knows every little spot, every button to push. . .
Now where did I leave my boxers? Oh, right, probably in the studio. No point searching for them now. I'll just get something to drink and then come back to bed. Maybe I can convince Ginger that we should go another round. Judging from that look on her face, I doubt she'll need much convincing.
This really was what I needed tonight. Someone who wants to take care of my needs. Nobody cutting me down, reminding me how screwed up I am. No. Just someone who wants me to be happy.
Is that too much to ask?
I need a drink, and water's not going to do it. Thankfully, Ginger keeps a full bar. There we go. Yep, she's always got the good stuff. The best money can buy after all.
Some people just get all the breaks.
There's no point in getting jealous. I might as well just take a bottle and admire this place. Real art – maybe a little more modern than my normal tastes – but the highest quality. Furniture made from imported leather. A baby grand that's always in perfect tune.
It's a nice night out. Ginger left the patio doors open to let the breeze in. The view is incredible; the city lights casting their ghostly reflections on the ocean. I can even hear the waves crashing.
Christ, I'm jealous.
This is what I should have had out of life. A great place, nice things, all the stuff I never had as a kid. All the things I've never had as an adult.
That's the price. The price of the game.
But I didn't sign up to play, goddamn it. I got assigned to Hannibal's unit. I got ordered to rob the Bank of Hanoi.
I even followed Hannibal when he said we should go over the wall.
It was supposed to be a few years at most. Either we survived long enough outside until the orders showed up or until we got thrown back inside and they locked away the keys. Nobody thought we'd still be running fifteen years later. I was just a kid. What the hell did I know?
Sometimes I think Hannibal wants to run forever. He lives for the thrill of the chase and I doubt he has a clue what he'd do if it ever ended.
Me? I'm ready for it to end and I don't really care how.
"I thought you were coming back to bed." The heat of Ginger's voice cuts through the ocean breeze.
"Sorry, just thinking a bit."
"That's a dangerous thing." Leave it to Ginger to say the perfect thing. "Especially when you've downed half-a-bottle of scotch."
What? She's right. I didn't even realize it.
It doesn't matter. Suddenly I feel as if I'm melting. I don't know whether it's from the alcohol or Ginger's magic hands which are now kneading my shoulders. I can't even begin to describe the sensation. Between the ocean sounds, the cool breeze, the scotch and now Ginger's touch, it feels like everything is right. For the first time in as long as I can remember, it feels right. I could stay like this. I want to stay like this.
I know I should be listening to the alarm bells going off in my head, but I ignore them. "Ginger, why can't this be more of a regular thing?"
She's not responding. Maybe she didn't hear me.
"I mean, we're so good together. Why not have a real relationship? You and me?"
When she laughs, I can almost feel those magic hands reach in and rip my heart out of my chest.
"Oh, honey. . ."
Oh great, it's the let-him-down-easy voice.
"Brian. . . you know that's not how it is. What's between us. . . I mean. . . We have a good time every month or so. But that's all it is."
"What if I want more?" It's all I can think to say.
"Brian, we get together every once in awhile. We fuck like rabbits and we enjoy it. There isn't any more."
That's letting me down easily? I think a ten-story dive off this patio would have a softer landing.
That doesn't seem like a bad idea at the moment.
"Come on, Brian." Ginger's running her hands through my hair as if soothing a child. "You're drunk and you're probably losing perspective on things. Let's just enjoy this for what it is. Come on back to bed."
Maybe she's right. Maybe it is the alcohol. Or maybe I really do want something more.
It doesn't really matter, does it?
I could pull away as Ginger takes my hand. I could refuse to pretend that this is okay with me. I could insist on staying out on the patio until the sun rises over the ocean.
"You're right, Ginger. Let's go back to bed."
11:51 p. m.
Normally, I love to listen to the sounds a woman makes as she sleeps, but they're torturing me right now. I stepped over the line with Ginger. I know this is our last night together. Sure she said we should enjoy what we have, but after my blunder, there's no going back. Another name I'll have to cross out in my little black book.
Maybe I'll wake Ginger in a little while and we can go at it one last time. Sort of a farewell fuck. 'Bye Brian. It's been nice knowing you. You've been a nice toy, but now it's time for you to go into the trash.'
In other words, time for Ginger to find a different whore to share her bed.
I made the mistake tonight of forgetting what I am. I said what I felt in the stupid hope that maybe we could have something more than a night of meaningless sex every month. Pleasurable, sure, but still meaningless.
Sort of like me.
It's a lesson I should have learned by now. Well, I won't need to learn it again. I think I've got the point.
There is no point.
No point at all.
I think I will go to the orphanage reunion. Hannibal will blow a gasket if he finds out, but it'll be too late for him to do anything. He's probably right that the MPs will have the place staked out, but I don't think I'd mind. I think it's kind of fitting. There I'd be. . . The place where it all started, the place I first learned to con people, the place I first realized I was meaningless.
It makes sense in a perverse sort of way.
The team will get by without me. Hannibal said it and he's right. They already proved it when Murdock took my place during the fake pardon.
Maybe I'll even see Rebecca Piper and show her what she been missing all these years. In fact, I think I'll let everyone know just how great Templeton Peck's life turned out.
So what if it's all a lie?
I could get all metaphysical right now, but what purpose would it serve? It's midnight and I probably should just get some sleep. Maybe I'll just pretend that tomorrow will be better. Maybe I'll wake up and suddenly find some new purpose that gives it all meaning.
Maybe I'm not such a bad con man after all.
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