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This page last viewed: 2017-08-15 and has been viewed 1588 times
by A. Nannie Mouse
A reply to the song challenge with a Christmas theme. It takes place in
December 86 Warning: A little sappy. Also, some mild rude language
Summary: A reply to the song challenge with a Christmas theme. It takes place in December 86 Warning: A little sappy. Also, some mild rude language
"THE GARMENT OF LIFE, BE IT TATTERED AND TORN,
THE CLOAK OF THE SOLDIER IS WEATHERED AND WORN"
"Tell me about it" thought Murdock, glumly walking away from the carolers, into the mall.
"BUT, WHAT CHILD IS THIS, THAT WAS POVERTY BORN, THE PEACE OF CHRISTMAS DAY"
He had always liked that carol, but this year it reminded him how little peace there was in his life. It had been so much easier when he was a kid.
This was Murdock's first Christmas since his release from the mental hospital, where he had been living for fifteen years. For all those years he looked forward to Christmas. The guys would always break him out or sneak onto the grounds and make sure he had a celebration of some sort. They had never let him down. This year he was well. And he had never had such a crummy holiday season.
The holiday break in the A-team's schedule was only slightly less stressful than the suicide missions they were being sent on. They were practically enslaved to Stockwell, and his schemes. The house where the rest of the team lived was practically a prison, with armed guards and everything. They endured for the promise of a presidential pardon for the murder for which Hannibal, Faceman, and B.A. had been wrongfully convicted. Frankie was also to be pardoned for his involvement in their escape. Some day they would all be free.
But during this holiday season, that promise was not enough. Frankie missed his family. He'd never been this long without them. The other team members were not happy men, either. Because they were condemned to death by a military court and were in hiding, they had no freedom of movement and couldn't even contact their loved ones. B.A. missed his mother and was afraid he would never see her again. Hannibal missed his lady, Maggie. And then, there was the Thanksgiving debacle, where Murdock had inadvertently destroyed Face's chance to know his father. Murdock had known that A.J. Bancroft might have been Face's father, but had given in to Bancroft's desire to tell Face himself. Of course, Bancroft died before he told him, leaving Murdock that ugly job. Now, Face was barely speaking to him. Ho, Ho, Ho.
Murdock was not wanted by the authorities like his friends, of course. But he had no family. His Grandparents and mother were dead. He had no siblings. His father had walked out of his life years ago. He had few friends besides the team. It looked like he was on his own for holiday cheer.
He slumped on a bench. He couldn't remember feeling worse. Nothing was right. He couldn't even bring himself to shop for gifts. He felt truly alone. Maybe he should just give up, it just didn't seem to matter anymore.
The strolling carolers caught up to him. He didn't know who wrote the song, but it had been recorded by different artists, including John Denver and the Muppets. It seemed it was going to follow him whether he liked it or not.
"A HOPE THAT HAS SLUMBERED FOR TWO THOUSAND YEARS,
A PROMISE THAT SILENCED A THOUSAND FEARS,
A FAITH THAT CAN HOBBLE AN OCEAN OF TEARS,
THE PEACE OF CHRISTMAS DAY"
He had known that hope, once. The promise, the faith, and the peace. So long ago. Dear Lord, he wished he could know them again. That would be the perfect Christmas gift. When he was a kid, his Grandpa had taught him that these things were the whole point of Christmas.
"That's right, boy."
Murdock looked up at the figure beside him. The only surprise was that he wasn't surprised. He'd had hallucinations before, but never of Grandpa. But, he had loved the old man so much that it was probably inevitable.
"I love you, too, H. M. Now, are you ready for a little trip?"
"I'm always on a little trip."
"Now, now. You made a prayer, and now you have to go with it. Come along."
"Oh, Marley, you little Dickens. Or are we doing 'It's a Wonderful Life'?"
"I don't remember you being such a smart aleck when you were younger."
"Which proves that this is a hallucination."
"Are you goin' to cooperate or not?"
"Sure, why not? A friendly hallucination is better than a mad gopher in your trousers."
Murdock stood up and looked carefully at the specter. He looked much like his Grandpa did when he had last seen him, but there was something different about him, something stronger. He stood straighter and was almost as tall as Murdock himself. Although he looked to be in his eighties, there was something almost ageless about this figure. He was dressed in Grandpa's old tweed suit, the one he always wore to church.
"You look pretty good for a dead guy." Murdock said to the hallucination.
"Kinda depends on what you call dead, doesn't it?"
"I guess. Well, lead on."
The first stop was Murdock's childhood. One moment they were at a shopping mall and the next they were at the house in Austin, Texas.
"Archer, be careful!" His mother was laughing at his father, who was teetering on a step stool by the Christmas tree. The angel was fighting its destiny as tree topper. A small boy of about five stood near by, holding his breath with anticipation. "Baby, move away before your daddy falls on you!"
"I am not going to squash our posterity, Jessie!" Daddy finally got the angel straight. "Hand me a couple of the balls now, boy."
The child gingerly held up two of the fragile ornaments to his father, who heroically placed them near the top. He was helping Daddy! And he was handling glass! He was a big boy! The little boy was in heaven.
Murdock looked on the scene with wonder. He had forgotten this Christmas. The last Christmas before his mother died. He thought that he had been too young to really remember any of it.
Grandma came into the room with the obligatory plate of cookies. Daddy snagged a handful as he took another ball from his son.
"Now Archer, remember. Eat the cookies and hang the ornaments!" The boy thought that Grandpa was the funniest man who had ever lived. Even the older Murdock smiled at the joke. Archer just glared at his father.
"You could help, you know. The boy isn't tall enough to hand me the ornaments without my coming half way down"
So, they started a 'bucket brigade', Mamma unwrapped the ornaments and handed them to little H. M., who handed them to Grandpa, who handed them to Daddy, who hung them on the tree. Grandma stood nearby and supervised. It was a happy moment. Murdock wondered why he hadn't remembered it before.
"Because, it didn't stay happy. I wish I had seen it coming, but there was nothing I could do." said the Grandpa hallucination.
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