The lone figure stood on the snow-covered ground leaning back against a tree. Captain H.M.Murdock squinted up at the gray sky as fine, light flakes of snow danced in his eyes. He looked away to the Washington Monument and then back in the opposite direction to the Lincoln Memorial. Finally, his gaze rested on the shiny black Viet Nam Veterans Memorial. He stood alone, imprisoned by memories, as faces from long ago and far away raced across his mind.
Men he almost saved, men he couldn’t save, men who gave up their life to save his. Silent tears ran down his face as he suddenly came to attention and saluted them. He apologized for not being able to come closer, for being the coward that he was. He thought of the many months he had spent in this town without once being able to screw up the courage to come and touch it. Just once, but he couldn’t do it He knew too many names and they all knew him, knew how afraid he really was.
He shivered with the cold, bone seeping damp cold that once it worked it’s way inside you was damn hard to be rid of. It was time to go, time to be gone from this place. Eight months of his life wasted. If he had ever known what would happen here, he never would have left his room in the V.A. He started walking and kicked an old beer can angrily.
Change. Richter had warned him. He had told him his friends would change, that he himself would change. Richter warned him how hard it would be. Why hadn’t he listened? Murdock had never believed his friends would change. But he had been wrong, they had all changed, perhaps himself more than anyone. Murdock walked faster, his army boots crunching through the light snow easily. It wasn’t their fault, he reminded himself. He understood. After all, they had been through a lot and afterwards life was that much more precious. Could he really blame them? If all they wanted to do was party?
Murdock sighed in resignation. It wasn’t the party animal attitude; that was just a reaction to the firing squad, though it did bother him, he knew it would wear off eventually. It was Frankie that bothered him. Frankie, always with Face, or calling Hannibal ‘Johnny’. ‘Frankie’, God how he hated even the mention of his name. Just the thought that he wouldn’t have to see him again was enough to make Murdock glad he was leaving.
Murdock looked up to see the banks of the Potomac in the distance. He looked across to Virginia, blinking away tears, feeling his heart ache at the thought of leaving the three men who were the closest thing he had to family. The colonel, John ‘Hannibal ‘ Smith. Always in command, never took anyone’s shit. He always had a plan. Not anymore. Under Stockwell the colonel seemed content to bask in luxury in return for doing an occasional suicide mission for a pardon that might never come. He’d lost a lot of fight, a lot of the daring, spit in your eye moxie that made being around him so special. If he was still on the jazz, it was a different kind and muted.
Murdock understood. The firing squad destroyed his friends just as surely as if there had been no blanks. He squeezed his eyes shut at the memory of just the sound of those shots echoed across his mind and a sharp pain blazed across his chest. His head sagged as his chin dropped against his chest. He understood, but dealing with it wasn’t easy.
Of the three, B.A. seemed to have fared the best. He had changed, but for the best. He’d mellowed and for the first time in their 15 some odd year relationship, he wasn’t angry. If anything, he seemed content. Almost non -violent. Stockwell had set his Mom up in a luxurious condo in Florida. B.A. had really appreciated that. He had a steady girlfriend now, the daughter of the Baptist minister where he went to Church. Murdock guessed it wouldn’t be long before he proposed. The big guy had a new group of underprivileged kids to work with and when Stockwell didn’t need him; he was at his new youth center. To B.A.’s thinking, working for Stockwell was just another way of using his God given abilities to help people. He wasn’t an angry mudsucker anymore. He wasn’t the B.A. Murdock knew and loved.
Then there was Face. Murdock closed his eyes again in pain as the mental image of his friend took shape. He shook his head, chasing the image away. H e’d think about Face some other time. Right now, the pain was too close. Way too close. He inhaled deeply and turned slowly in a circle, taking one last look at the nation’s capital. Eight months and the only real friend he’d made was Erica. He had seen Frankie and Face as they smirked and made fun of her, but she had proven a better friend than either of them knew how to be. After he’d been through every starting position in the diner, she hadn’t given up. She just started again. When he screwed up, for some reason he always seemed to screw up eventually, she never said a word. She would just quietly come to his side and bail him out. She never criticized him, or called him stupid. S he just accepted him the way he was. Murdock knew he wasn’t in love with Erica, but he also knew spending his life with her wouldn’t be so awful. He proposed the night before last, and sadly, she turned him down. She told him never to settle for anything less than the real thing, that somewhere there was someone just waiting for him to come along. Saying good-bye at the diner this morning had been hard. It had been hard, hard for both of them. When she was sure that he wasn’t leaving because of her, she had slipped him fifty dollars and wished him good luck. He gave her his Captain Marvel ring. She understood and cried. Then he handed her the three envelopes with his friends names and told her to hold onto them. If his friends came looking for him, she should give them the envelopes, but only his friends.
Now here he stood, not far from the Potomac, determined to head south where hopefully it would be sunny and warm.
He turned his collar up a notch and headed for the interstate. He hunched over and drove his hands deep into his pockets. The watch cap he wore kept his head warm, but he bowed his head to the oncoming wind that drove the light snow smack into his face. As soon as each tiny flake touched his face it melted and disappeared. Kind of like life. A person spends all his life trying to understand things and when he does, he finds out it doesn’t make any difference anyway. Walking west along Constitution Avenue he suddenly remembered he was supposed to have lunch today with Face. He wondered if he would show up and if he did would he wait? There had been a time when if Face said he would see you at one o’clock, Murdock knew he would be there at one. No more. He traveled on Frankmeister time now, doing whatever he chose whenever he chose, usually with Frankie tagging along like a cheer leader. Murdock wondered if he had ever been like that with Face. He hoped not, but it didn’t matter anymore, because he didn’t care anymore. Not about Face, well, at least not like before; never, ever like before.
Traffic was picking up and Constitution Avenue was turning into Rte 50. Now might be as good a time as any to stick out his thumb. He held his head up and tried to look harmless and before long some lonely trucker stopped. He asked Murdock where he was headed and Murdock explained no place special, just South. The driver laughed and invited him in. He was a big man with red hair and a full beard. He looked like a giant Viking disguised as a lumberjack.
Getting in, Murdock held out his hand and introduced himself, “Howdy, I’m H.M.Murdock. I sure appreciate this.”
The driver stretched out a big beefy paw and announced, “I’m Lester LePoir. I always like a little company, especially when the weather’s so nasty. I own this rig, and I tend to drive real careful when I carry a passenger. Not that I don’t usually drive carefully, but sometimes if you’re running late or whatever, you can get careless, especially in snow. Its always good to carry passengers when you need to concentrate on your driving.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean man.” Murdock replied as he read the sign that said they were now going over the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. Murdock looked out over the partially frozen river, when suddenly his eyes spotted a terrible scene. With the snow falling, a lot of people might have missed it, but not Murdock, not with his pilot’s practice of searching out small objects far away. A small dog had fallen through the ice and was struggling to free itself without success.
“Look!” he shouted, “Over there!! You’ve got to stop, you’ve got to pull over!! Help me man! I can’t let that little dog die.”
“Are you crazy?”
“I don’t care what I am, there’s a parking lot down there on the Virginia side of the Potomac. Take me there, please!” Murdock beseeched the driver as he rolled his window down and both men heard the desperate cries of the dying animal.
The driver exited down the ramp and into the parking lot. Lester looked at his passenger, “You’re going to kill yourself for a stray dog?” he asked. “Ha ve you any idea what the currents like out there? You’ll have to swim under the ice. You could be swept away. Don’t do it man.”
Murdock just peeled off his leather jacket and told the driver, “Wait for me, this will only take a minute.” Then the captain ran down to the waters edge, kicked off his boots and dove in.
The first sensation he remembered feeling was how cold it was. Sort of like hitting a brick wall and have everything crumble. Then he closed his eyes and concentrated on swimming to the dog. When he reached the ice, he banged his way through a couple of feet, than looked straight into the pooches terrified eyes and told him, “Hang in there fella, I’m coming.” Taking one last deep breath, Murdock disappeared under the ice. Seconds later, he popped up besides the frightened animal. Holding the animal firmly, and keeping his mouth shut, he promptly sank beneath the ice again. This time when he came into view he looked and felt a lot wearier. He had been fighting the current and it had taken a lot of his strength. Plus it had dragged him further down the river. He tread water for a moment trying to catch his breath and accurately gauge the situation. Just then the pooch started licking his face, and whimpering words of hope. Murdock smiled down at his new little friend. He reached down inside himself for the little bit of extra and started out for shore again. This time he made it. There was a small crowd of onlookers and they all applauded. Murdock ducked into the cab as quick as he could. Lester had blankets and towels waiting. T he two men smiled at each other as he dried off the scrappy little dog before he dried himself. They didn’t say anything, but they each knew they had played a part in saving a life and the warm feeling that came with that was priceless.
Face bent over and zipped up the sides of his boots.. As he stood up again he looked out the window at the light snow enthusiastically, anxious to be on his way for the lunch date with Murdock.
When he walked into the living room, Frankie took one look at his jeans and boots and said, “Slumming with Murdock again, huh?”
Face ignored him and went to the closet looking for his warm winter parka.
‘I know a couple of girls who are always ready to do lunch. What do you say we give Murdock a call and take them to lunch instead of crazy man?”
“We did that last week, only we didn’t call, remember? Besides Frankie, you’re not coming.” Face replied.
“Not coming? Come on Peck, you know what Stockwell said. If you really care about him you have to step back. You have to let him stand on his own. You especially.”
“I know.” Face admitted, “but he didn’t say abandon him. He waited three hours for me last week. You know how I felt when he told me that? Do you? W ell, let me tell you, like a real piece of crap. I’m going today and I’m going alone. Nothing is going to stop the two of us from having lunch today.”
“Touchy, touchy. Go ahead. I don’t care. What is it with you two anyway? You sure you haven’t got the hots for him?” he asked with an exaggerated leer.
Hannibal, who was stretched out on the recliner reading, put down his paper, curious to see Face’s reaction. It didn’t take long. Face turned his back on Frankie and put on his warm leather gloves. Frankie feeling safe since Face hadn’t reacted, took a step closer and started to complain how the pilot had no class. Face spun around and cut him off, driving his fist into Frankie’s jaw. He looked over at Hannibal accusingly and left before he could say a word.
The car was waiting for him outside with a driver. Face told him to let him off by the mall in D.C. near the Viet Nam Veteran’s Memorial. Once seated in the car, Face closed his eyes and wished this nightmare of working for Stockwell would end. It would if Hannibal wanted it to, but he didn’t seem to want it to end. He seemed content for someone else to give the orders and be responsible. Maybe he was burned out. Maybe they were all burned out. He hoped he could explain to Murdock, he hoped he could make him understand, but he wasn’t so sure. Something in the pilots voice the last time they spoke told him things were different, that things would never be the same again. Before he knew it, Face was there. The driver pulled over and Face got out. He walked through the trees scanning the grassy area looking for Murdock. He didn’t see him. He looked down by the monument just for the heck of it, but he wasn’t there either.
The Monument was incredibly powerful. Not everyone could handle getting close to it. Murdock was one of those guys. The Monument was also incredibly healing and Face hoped some day his buddy could handle it and feel the healing power. Face had a bad feeling about today and not seeing Murdock when he arrived didn’t help. They were supposed to meet at two o’clock. Face made sure he was early. Murdock was never late. Time passed. Face got tired of looking down at his watch. He stomped off the cold walking up and down the mall, growing more and more distressed. He waited the three hours that Murdock had waited for him. He called him at home, no answer. He tried the diner and Erica said she didn’t know where he was, but she sounded funny. Face wondered if it was his imagination. Well, maybe he would just visit her at the diner and find out. He wandered into the diner and sat down in a booth. Erica came over with a menu and started into her spiel when she recognized him.
“Oh, you, uh, Face. I, I didn’t expect to see you.”
“Erica, where is he?” Face asked gently.
She started to turn away, but Face reached out an arm, “Please, I really need to talk with him. I know he’s upset.”
She turned back and looked at him, “Do you really?” her voice lightly tinged with bitterness. “Come with me.”
Face followed her into the kitchen to a little area in the back for employees. She reached up on a shelf and brought her pocketbook down. Then she opened it up and drew out the three envelopes. She handed them over to Face. He looked at her strangely, suddenly scared to take them.
“He said if you came looking for him to give you these. He’s gone.”
“What do you mean he’s gone?” Face demanded.
“Read the letter,” Erica said, “I have work to do.”
Face looked down at the long white envelope with his name printed on it, ever so neatly, in Murdock’s precise scrawl. Scared to open it, but more scared not to, he tore the envelope open.
I’m sorry, sorry I wasn’t a better friend, sorry I couldn’t say this face to face. I’m going. If you’re reading this than you’ve already seen Erica. She doesn’t know anything so don’t bother her, o.k.? I tried to fit in Face, I really tried but it just didn’t work out. You guys don’t need me, you’ve got Frankie and Stockwell has dozens of pilots. I have to find out if I belong outside. Maybe I need to go back to the V.A. Nothing’s worked here. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’ll be okay. Don’t feel bad, or try to blame yourself. It’s all my fault. I know that. I guess I don’t deal well with change. I know things have never been the same between us since, well, you know. I don’t blame you, honest, I understand. Just please believe me, I am so sorry. If I could change what happened, you know I would. But I can’t, and you can’t stand to look me in the eye. It’s time to go. Have a good life, remember the good times; I will.
Face stood staring down at the paper in his hand in disbelief. He felt numb. There had to have been a mistake. Probably Frankie’s sick sense of humor. Face decided to go to go over to Murdock’s place and give him hell for scaring him so bad. He looked up and Erica was standing there looking at him with sad red rimmed eyes and Face knew instantly it was all true.
“Why? How could he do this? Where, where would he go?” he asked her.
She just shook her head sadly in defeat and went back out on the floor. Face left reluctantly, not sure what else he could ask of Murdock’s friend, especially after the request in the letter. He needed to meet with the team.
His driver was waiting outside patiently. As Face entered the car, he welcomed the warmth. Then he looked outside at the mounting snow and wondered about Murdock, if he was warm and if he’d found shelter. Ten minutes later he was stepping into the Langley house. Frankie saw him walk in and got up and left the room.”Good.” Face thought. Hannibal was still in the recliner watching an old Charlie Chan movie.
“How did lunch go?” he asked.
“It didn’t.” replied Face in a tight voice as he tossed the envelope with “Hannibal” printed neatly across the front into Hannibal’s lap. The colonel picked it up gingerly, as if it could bite.
“What’s this?” he asked warily.
“Read it!” Face said bitterly between clenched teeth. Face wasn’t numb anymore. He was angry, angry at himself, at Murdock, at everyone in general and Frankie and Stockwell in particular.
Hannibal calmly opened the letter and started to read.
I’ve never been good at saying goodbye, so hope you’ll understand if I do it this way. You were the best C.O. a guy could ever ask for. You taught me so much, trusted me when no one else would. You were the closest thing to a father I’ve ever known. But people change, all of us. D.C. isn’t right for me now, it’s time to move on. I hope you understand. Tell Stockwell I quit. I did my last courier run last week. I have to find myself. I know that sounds stupid, but you know what I mean. Speaking of Stockwell, remember he’s just another bully and you know what you always say about bullies. Take care of Face, he’ll blame himself but it’s not his fault.
Thanks again for everything,
Hannibal’s feet slammed to the floor as he sat up in shock. He looked down at the letter and then at Face, “What?” he asked incredulously.
“He’s gone Hannibal. Split, vamoosed, he’s out of here. No one knows how, why or where. Well, that’s not true. I know why. We shut him out, we let him down. We listened to Stockwell when we should have listened to our hearts. It’s our fault he’s gone. What are we going to do?”
Hannibal looked down at the letter again and reread it. Then he got up and walked over to Face’s side by the bar. He poured himself a stiff drink and tossed it down. Then he looked into Face’s eyes. “I don’t know if there is anything we can do. We don’t know where he’s headed or even how he plans to get there. Then he handed Face the letter, allowing him to read it. Face brought out his letter and handed it to Hannibal.
Hannibal read it quickly, laid it down on the bar, poured another drink and walked over to the window. He stared outside at the falling snow saying nothing, sipping his scotch.
“Hannibal, come on! We have to do something!”
Hannibal’s head whipped around, “:Like what Lieutenant? Haven’t we done enough? He’s right. We’ve changed. We’re not the same, neither is he. I say give him some space.”
“What? I don’t believe this! How can you say that? He needs us!”
“Wrong, Face, he needed us. If he’s going to make it on the outside, he has to be able to make it on his own.”
“On his own? Are you crazy?!”
“Face, just because you can’t handle your guilt over the way you’ve treated him ever since you found out about your father, don’t”
“You son of a bitch!” Face shouted and charged at Hannibal just as B.A. walked into the room and stepped between them, demanding to know what was going on. Face handed him a letter than walked over to the bar and fixed another drink for himself.
B.A. slit the envelope open and began to read.
I wish I could have seen you to say good bye but there just wasn’t time. I’ve gone to find myself. I don’t belong in D.C. That’s the only thing I’m sure of. Take care of Face for me, tell him it’s not his fault. It’s not anyone’s fault, just time to move on. Good luck with Shauna, and don’t get married without me. I’ll miss you big guy, your friend,
“What’s that crazy fool mean?” B.A. bellowed.
“Take it easy B.A. Murdock’s gone. There’s nothing we can do.”
“Maybe there’s nothing you can do, but I’m going to find him.” Face retorted.
“What are you going to do Face when you find him? Drag him back here by force? He doesn’t want to be here. You have to let him go. You have to respect his decision.”
“His facts are all wrong. If he wants to leave, fine, but let it be for the right reasons. This is all because of THEM!! Stockwell and Frankie” Then Face slammed a fist through the wall.
B.A. looked from one man to the other not sure what to say but knowing Face was right.
“Hannibal, you need to listen to Face. He’s right. Ever since we came here, you ain’t been the same.”
Hannibal started walking out of the room, as B.A. continued. “Murdock never would have left like this unless he was hurting bad. We’ve got to find him. We’ve got to make it right with him. You always said we’re a team and when one of us hurts, we all hurt.”
“Don’t tell me what I said, Sergeant. Don’t you ever try and tell me what I said.” the colonel turned and snarled savagely.
B.A. stared at Hannibal like he was a stranger. The TV was still on that the colonel had been watching earlier. The movie had finished and now the local news was coming on. Suddenly Face yelled, “Look!” All eyes turned to the TV.
The picture on the screen seemed to be the local news, then an amateur video came on with a zoom in on a little dog that fallen through the ice. Seconds later they watched as Murdock dove into the frigid waters in a desperate attempt to save the dog’s life.
Hannibal watched as Murdock sank beneath the waters to swim under the ice to the terrified animal. He watched him suddenly pop up next to the pooch and then holding the dog firmly, disappear again below the ice. Hannibal knew how dangerous this was and his chest hurt as he waited for Murdock to reappear. He could feel himself starting to panic as he realized the captain might not make it, that he might never see him again. The thought was mind boggling, incomprehensible, and then just when Hannibal was ready to go out of his mind, he saw him. The colonel stood there, watching, his face plainly showing his pain and confusion. His eyes filled up with unshed tears and he wondered how he could ever face Murdock again. He stood silently, watching him strike out for shore.
B.A. came by his side and put a comforting arm around his shoulder, “It’s ok man, he’ll be alright, now. You watch and see.”
“B.A., what have I done?” he asked. “How could I have allowed things to reach such a point he would walk away from us without a word?” At that point Face walked over and put his arm around Hannibal’s other shoulder. “We all had to find ways to cope. For you it was the hardest. You felt responsible for getting us involved in this mess. The only way you could rationalize it is if it were the right thing to do. If Stockwell was a good guy we were just helping out.
Hannibal stood between the men and felt their truth. He longed to bury his head in B.A.’s shoulder and cry, but it was too late for tears. Too much damage had been done already. It was time for action, time to earn some self respect.
“We’ll go after him. We’ll leave in the morning just before first light. Face call the TV station and see what you can find out. B.A., think about a vehicle, on the compound or off.”
“Hannibal, I’ll tell you now, off the compound. I don’t want nothing that belonged to Stockwell.”
“Colonel, what about Frankie?”
“What about him Face?”
“Is he coming?”
“Is he part of the A Team?”
Face hesitated and Hannibal felt sorry for him. “Face, Frankie’s a nice special effects man, but he’s no Green Beret. Frankie has two options, he can stay here or he can go home, but he’s through working with the team and we’re through working for Stockwell.”
Face just grinned.
Lester looked at Murdock as he gently dried off the mutt. She looked like some kind of terrier mix.
“What are you going to name her?” He asked
Murdock turned to face Lester with a look of joy in his eyes then back to the mutt, “You’ve got to be Billy.” he said with a big grin.
“But Murdock, it’s a she!” Lester complained.
“So?” asked Murdock, “Didn’t you ever hear of Billy Holiday?”
Did I ever hear of Billy Holiday, oh man, hit rewind then play.”
Murdock did as he was instructed and soon he was listening to that indescribable voice singing “You go To My Head, Like the Bubbles in Champagne” He groaned in utter delight. Billy Holiday had the sexiest voice he had ever heard. Then Lester told him to take the big red and black plaid flannel shirt down off the hook and put it on. He gave him a plastic bag for the wet stuff. As he was slipping his wet tee shirt off it caught on his arm and he said, “Ouch, what is that?”
Lester looked, “You have some bloody cuts there ”
“Must’ ve been when I tried elbowing through some of the outer ice. Got a band -aid?”
Look in the ashtray. I keep all kinds of things there.”
Sure enough, along with some spare change, gum, a pen, a packet of condoms, and assorted bobby pins he found a band-aid. Drying the area carefully, he slapped the band-aid in place. Once out of his wet clothes, the oversized flannel shirt was like a blanket. Murdock kept the real blanket around his legs. He closed his eyes for a moment, and felt warm and happy as Billy nuzzled up against his neck. Before he knew it, they were both asleep.
A little over an hour later Murdock stirred, and slowly opened his eyes startled at first to find an animal on his shoulder. Then he remembered. Bil ly. A real live Billy. She opened her eyes then and Murdock thought they were the most beautiful brown eyes he had ever seen. He ran his hands down her sides and felt her ribs, poor baby, she must be hungry he thought. He looked at the bottom of her paws and saw they looked worn and tender. “Poor little girl” hr crooned softly.
“Awake, I see.” Lester smiled. “How you feeling after that swim.”
“I’m fine. He looked outside at the rain, “Glad it’s not snowing anymore.”
“Me too. I thought we might head off the interstate to a nice little place I know. There’s a big accident up ahead and everything is stopped dead for miles. We’ll get your clothes dried and have you looking decent again. How come you didn’t bring even a change of clothes?”
“I wanted to make a clean break. Aside from my jacket, I didn’t want anything from there. I – I just want to start fresh someplace else.”
“What do you plan to do?”
“I don’t know. I’ll come up with something.”
An hour later and Murdock was putting on his own warm dry clothes. He left Billy in the cab, after walking her and promised her a nice juicy hamburger as soon as he returned. Lester ran into some truckers he knew and told Murdock he could get him a ride straight through to Fort Lauderdale if he wanted to leave now, but Murdock just smiled and said he would rather not. He wasn’t interested in traveling express.
Soon they were back in the cab, hauling down Interstate 95 listening to Billy Holiday. Down through Virginia into North Carolina and finally into Raleigh-Durham. He left Lester there, as he continued down I95S and Lester turned SW to Atlanta.
In Raleigh there was no snow, but it was cold and damp and rainy. Murdock decided it was time to spend some of his money and get a motel room. There was a little place opposite the truck stop called The Hilltop Motel. Murdock put Billy down and told her to stay, he’d be right back. She whimpered in fear as he turned to leave and the captain turned right around picked her up and kissed her nose. “I promise you I will never leave you. I won’t be long. I’m gonna go in there and get us a nice room with a TV. You’ll like it Billy, I promise.” Billy laid down, seemingly understanding everything Murdock said. Soon he was back, jingling a room key in his hand, smiling as if to say “I told you so.”
After checking out the room and the TV, Murdock walked over to the truckstop and got two nice hot roast beef dinners to go. When it was finally time to turn in, he took Billy for one last walk then stripped down to his skivvies and dove under the covers. Before he could blink, Billy was right there, under the covers with him, her cold snout resting on his hairy chest. He stroked her head gently and smiled, “Billy, you’re the first girl’s been to bed with me in a long, long time.” Billy’s head peeked up out of the covers, then gave his chest a little lick. Then the little dog stared deep into his eyes and gave a quiet little yap, as if to say why? Murdock shook his head, not sure if it was him or the dog, but they sure seemed to be able to understand each other. He closed his eyes and tried to remember the last woman he was with. He knew there’d been a couple Face had arranged, sometimes the sex had been bad, sometimes awful but always forgettable. No woman had touched his heart since Ling Tsi in Da Nang, and he doubted if any woman ever would.
Ling Tsi, he thought he had forgotten about her. So long ago, a lifetime really. He remembered the day he first saw her in her village. Face was doing some kind of trade with the village elders, and while Murdock waited he ran into her, literally breaking her bike. The first time he looked up into her eyes, he was lost. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He spent the rest of his time there fixing her bike, and helping her with her chores while he practiced his Vietnamese on her.
Face warned him, told him not to get involved, told him he thought the whole village was V.C., but there was no way to prove anything. Villager by day, guerilla by night. Murdock thought he was exaggerating. She was so, so beautiful. Long silken black hair, eyes so dark and warm.
Ling Tsi. She had told him the village wasn’t a good place for him to be. So they started meeting elsewhere. The first time they made love had been in the jungle, looking up at the canopy afterwards, he thought he was the luckiest man in the world. She made him feel so good, she made him feel so proud. She told him no other man had ever made her feel so good. And he, like the stupid fool he was, he believed her. He looked forward to his excursions there with Face, desperate for a reason to visit the village and see Ling Tsi. He trusted her and he wasn’t surprised when she came gave him a gayly decorated box, but made him promise not to open the gift until he was flying home to Da Nang.It seemed like no time at all before Face concluded his dealings and brought a load of silk on board. They were well on their way when he noticed the box and asked what it was. Somehow, Face knew.
Without hesitating, he picked it up and heaved it out the door. It exploded before impact.
Murdock remembered Ling Tsi. He would never, ever forget her. The captain looked down at Billy, his eyes filled with tears. Bad enough he didn’t have Face to talk to and kid around with, but he didn’t have Face to look out for him anymore, either.
In the morning, Murdock got up and walked over to the window, moving the heavy drape aside, he was momentarily blinded by the sun. He smiled happily. It was going to be a good day, he knew it.
That night had found him bedding down in a little one horse down in Georgia called Dempster. There weren’t any motels in town so the long lanky veteran decided to bed down on a park bench near the edge of town.
Twice the local police woke him up and threatened him with arrest if he did not move on. By morning, he was more tired than when he had turned in the first time the night before. He sat on the bench looking down at the sidewalk. Staring at an ant, a bent bottle cap, and an old cigarette butt. Billy was sniffing a fire hydrant nearby, looking carefree and happy.
Murdock watched Billy frolic around happily and wondered why he couldn’t be happy too. Why did life have to be so complex? He started scraping his boot along the sidewalk in front of him when suddenly he was engulfed by a huge shadow. He looked up slowly and squinted into the sharp glare of the morning sun. It was a police officer, a sergeant, a big sergeant, a big unhappy sergeant.
The sergeant’s name was Dawson. He wanted identification. Murdock rummaged in his pockets And finally found his I.D. and handed it over. He thought the sergeant reminded him of a marine he had once known. Before he could think anymore about the marine, he found himself on the ground ‘assuming the position.’ “You all are a right sick bastard. Giving me a Boy Scout’s I.D. You have an hour to leave town. I know you slept here last night, but you sure as hell are not sleeping here tonight. You still here in an hour and I will arrest you for vagrancy if nothing else. Now get the hell out of my town.” Dawson paused in his diatribe to kick Murdock in the ribs. “That’s right, just like Rambo.” Laughing evilly, he walked away as Billy barked and growled, doing his best to be protective.
Murdock got to his feet slowly. He wanted to curse the big jerk, but it seemed to take too much energy.
He started walking instead. The friendly town of Dempster did not believe in giving hitchhikers rides.
After a while he stopped even trying to thumb a ride.
He just put one foot in front of the other and plodded on. Clouds had moved in and the sky looked like it was fixing to rain. He had Billy in the backpack again and he just kept walking. He made a concerted effort not to think, not to feel, just to walk. One foot after the other. Sometimes he would see something that reminded him of the team, or even worse of Face. When that happened, he would just concentrate all his energy into blanking out, feeling nothing. He would imagine himself as a rock, hard and cold with nothing inside. He finally hit the interstate and caught a ride with a trucker to Jacksonville in northern Florida. It was dark when the rig pulled in and let him off, but at least it wasn’t raining.
Across the road a Coor’s Light sign kept blinking an invitation from a seedy bar. “Why not?” thought Murdock as he made his way across the road to the Sunset Bar and Grill. He made his way to the back and found himself a booth.
He ordered a couple of cheeseburgers and a couple of beers and tried to relax. He hadn’t taken his meds for a long while, at least two months he figured. He could get as drunk as he liked. The problem was he couldn’t figure out if that was what he wanted. Maybe if he drank enough, he would be able to sleep, sleep and not dream.
It was then that the song started playing in the background. Without thinking, he started singing along.
“Why am I losing sleep over you / Reliving precious moments with you / So many days have gone by / Still I’m so lonely and I / Guess there’s just no getting over you / And there’s nothing I can do / Wasting all of my time all of my mind over you ” /
Suddenly he was overcome with memories and visions of Face. Face laughing, Face grumpy and hair all tousled when he first woke up. Face in pain, Face supremely confident as he cons someone, Face irritated and annoyed, Face, Face, Face, a thousand and one images of the man he loved who couldn’t, wouldn’t love him back, at least not the way he needed. The music blared on, straight inside his soul.
“Within these prison wards of my mind / There’s still a part of you left behind / And though it hurts, I’ll get by / Without your loving yet I / Guess there’s just no getting over you / And there’s nothing I can do / Wasting all of my time all of my mind over you ”
Murdock’s head sagged as he closed his eyes and gave into the memories. It had only happened once.
Once was all it took. One night, just a few weeks ago. One wonderful night of dreams come true, but he would give it all back gladly if he could erase the morning after. Murdock squeezed his eyes shut trying hard not to cry but failing miserably As the song continued on relentlessly.
“And I guess there’s just no getting over you And there’s nothin’ I can do Wastin’ all of my time all of my mind over you … ”
The next morning when Murdock woke up, he found himself in the parking lot behind the bar. He had forgotten how awful a bad hangover could make you feel. Everything hurt, his hands shook as he tried to stand feeling dizzy and nauseous. The only good thing is inside he was numb. He couldn’t feel anything except sick to his stomach. No problem, That he could deal with.
Hannibal sat in a beach chair beside the van. It was parked under a tree facing the Florida beach. Hannibal enjoyed looking out at the water and feeling the warm sunshine. Well, almost enjoying the sunshine, considering why they were down here it was damn hard to enjoy anything. You would think that looking for Murdock would draw them all together. Instea d, it had polarized them.
Hannibal looked at B.A. checking the engine of the van he had acquired. He seemed to be the man in the middle, the peacemaker. It was Face who was the problem.
The colonel watched as he walked up and down the boardwalk, showing the photo of Murdock to everyone that passed, asking if they had seen him. As the days had turned into weeks instead of becoming resigned to his absence, Face had become more frantic than ever to find him. It didn’t make sense. Face was walking wearily to the van. His entire appearance was rumpled and disheveled.
Hannibal looked a little closer at him and was startled to see the fear in the lieutenant’s eyes.
“Face, what’s wrong?” he asked in a sympathetic voice.
“What’s wrong?” he replied in a quivering voice. “What’s wrong?” he yelled, his voice still trembling with emotion. “I can’t find him!! Don’t you understand? I can’t find him!!”
“Take it easy Lieutenant. Here, sit down.” Hannibal quickly gave up his seat and found a cold glass of ice tea for the younger man.
“What’s this?” Face asked angrily as he knocked the iced tea out of the colonel’s hand. “I don’t want this. Don’t you understand? I can’t find him!”
“I’m sorry Face, but I don’t understand. Why are you so upset? Relax, Murdock will turn up. He’ll be fine. Don’t worry.” Hannibal watched his distraught friend with increasing concern and wondered why was Face so frantic to find Murdock? What did Face know that Hannibal didn’t? Hannibal looked over at B.A. who just shrugged his shoulders, no answer there. Finally Hannibal decided to take the bull by the horns. He reached an arm around Face’s shoulder and walked a few steps with him before asking, “Is there something you haven’t told us? I seem to be missing something.”
Face’s head sagged. He shook his head from side to side. “You don’t understand.” He muttered wearily.
“I can find him, I know I can.”
“You’ve been right on the money the whole trip Face, it’s just our timing that’s off. We keep missing him by just a few days. We’ll catch up to him. Don’t worry.”
Face jerked his head up abruptly. “I’m going to call Kelly again.”
Hannibal watched him walk away and found himself feeling distinctly uneasy but not exactly sure why. He watched Face walk ten or fifteen feet away with his cell phone and make the call to Kelly. He watched as Face turned away from him almost as if he didn’t want Hannibal to see the expression on his face. He watched and he wondered, not liking the the feeling he was getting in his gut. It was almost like the feeling he had just before the chopper went down and they were all taken prisoners of war. Face finished his call and turned around. He didn’t say anything, but one look at his face and Hannibal knew everything had just gone to hell. He looked shocked. Deeply shocked and frightened.
He stood there, staring at Hannibal with his mouth open, seemingly paralyzed.
Finally he started to move to the van.
“I have to go. You have to take me to the airport.
I have to go.” He announced in a dull monotone that sounded nothing like the brash lieutenant Hannibal and B.A. knew and loved.
B.A. looked at Hannibal, who nodded his approval, Then started the engine and headed for the airport.
Hannibal got up and went in the back and sat beside Face. “You want to let me in on what’s going on?”
Face didn’t respond. “Lieutenant, I want to know where you’re headed, that’s an order. ”
“McCormick , Texas. You can meet me there. He’s going there I know it. I have to get there first, I have to. Now leave me alone.”
“Face, whatever is going down, it’s not your fault. Murdock said that. ” offered Hannibal, trying to comfort his friend.
Face looked at him like he was an idiot, knowing he was going to lose it soon if Hannibal didn’t stop, he turned on him viscously and demanded, “Please! Just leave me alone – alright?”
Hannibal decided not to press him any further for the moment, returned to his own seat and flicked on the radio to an all news station. After listening for just a moment, he flicked it off, depressed that every story seemed to begin with inexplicable violence.
It wasn’t long before B.A. was turning into the departure terminals at the local airport. Face stepped out without a word and started walking away.
“Lieutenant!” Hannibal called. Face turned around.
“You didn’t tell us what Kelly had to say.”
Face stared at Hannibal long and hard before he answered, then looking away he replied, “She just got a call from him. He’s sending her Billy.” Then Face turned back to the airport and strode inside.
Murdock cried as he hugged Billy good bye. He tried to explain to his little friend that he just wasn’t up to taking care of him. It was one thing if Murdock forgot to eat for a few days, but when he became so self absorbed tha t he forgot to feed Billy, well things just couldn’t go on like that. He told Billy all about Kelly and how nice she was and how sweet she smelled. He told her not to worry about the flight because she was traveling first class all the way.
Flight attendants watched as the unshaved disheveled man who had paid cash for the ticket gently placed the dog in the crate, even as his hands shook. He stayed long enough to make sure Billy was hand carried onto the plane, then he found a quiet corner and sat on the floor and cried his eyes out.
After a while, he still sobbed into his sleeve but there were no tears left.
He wondered if it were possible to screw up his life any more than he already had. He was sure that if it were, he would do it. Just look what he had accomplished in the last few weeks. First off, there was the fiasco with Face, that hurt too much to even think about. Then he had walked out on the only family he had ever really known. H e had quit Stockwell without any reason or notice, being arrested at least three times, and that didn’t include the creep in Dempster. Kelly wanted to help, but he wasn’t about to mess her life up any more than he already had.
“Face it,” he told himself. “You’re alone because you deserve to be alone, because all you bring is trouble everywhere you go. “Murdock leaned his chin on top of his knees as he looked out at the various jets taking off. He watched with envy as each huge jumbo jet lifted off and sailed away out of sight.
Not being able to fly right now was just one more depressing problem. Withou t Face or Stockwell, he wouldn’t be flying any time soon. Everything seemed to be happening so fast, he felt like he was caught up in a giant tumbleweed bouncing all over everywhere with no direction and no sign of stopping. He couldn’t go on like this, he just couldn’t.
He thought of all the tricks he had learned over the years to calm himself down, to slow everything up, to try and think about his life and make some sense of it. He would get close, so close, but then he would see Face that morning, see the awful expresion on his face again and he would lose it. Murdock scrambled to his feet and headed for the exit. He wasn’t ready to go down that road yet.
Hitching was no longer an option. People didn’t offer rides to unshaved scraggly looking bums.
Murdock reached inside his sock and pulled out a c note. He paid the taxi up front and was taken to the Greyhound terminal. There he bought a ticket to McCormick, Texas. The town where his mother was buried. The bus was half empty, and he had no trouble getting a window seat. Why he would want to look out at the sparse flat land was a mystery; maybe it was to avoid having to look anyone in the eye.
He watched the trees outside zip by, kind of like how he felt his life was going right now, just zipping by.
No time to see anything, just one big blur. He thought ahead to McCormick. H e hadn’t been there in more years than he cared to think about. Places like that don’t change though., they get older and dustier, but they don’t change. He thought of Florida and sighed deeply. Face almost got him there, but Murdock was too smart for him.
It was at a truckstop called Woody’s that had a huge treehouse and a giant replica of Woody Woodpecker. How did Face know he would stop there? He had jumped out a back window and hid behind some trees watching the Faceman actually go inside and climb to the top, looking all the while for his friend. To say Murdock felt spooked was putting it mildly. He watched Face carefully. The Facekid looked bad. Murdock felt awful, he wanted to wrap his arms around him and hold him tight. But he couldn’t do that. He fell to his knees behind a tree and groaned softly to himself.
Then he heard B.A. whistle and Face looked up to see him waving his cap. “Dam n, ” he thought, I must have left it in the men’s room. Murdock had closed his eyes and stayed hidden. After the team was sure the captain wasn’t still there, they left to pursue him again. Murdock headed for the nearest bar. It was after that latest tear that he realized he couldn’t care for Billy any more. Hell, he couldn’t care for himself anymore. What was worse was he didn’t care.
The bus pulled into the terminal in Texarkana and announced a half hour lay over before continuing.
Murdock stayed on the bus, his cheek leaning against the cool glass, the steady hum of the air conditioning and the muffled sound of the idling engines were strangely comforting. He closed his eyes and was helpless as his mind was drawn back to that night.
Despite everything, it seemed the need to remember was stronger than the need to forget.
It had all started when Face came banging on his door at two o’clock in the morning. Feeling no pain. he had drunk enough to make him irresistibly cute. enough to let down his guard, to let go and feel uninhibited.
Murdock had opened the door, taken one look at his friend and smiled as he let him in. Face prided himself on being in control. He didn’t drink often but when did, he drank hard and long. The Facekid had a bad habit of keeping things inside and letting them build up to critical mass. Eventually , he would get himself good and drunk and then visit Murdock , to whom he would unburden himself .
Murdock wasn’t particularly surprised to see him. Face had been moody and sullen lately. His love-life seemed stuck in low gear and still working for Stockwell really stuck in his craw.
Tonight he seemed a little different. Murdock smiled as the kid reached up and stroked Murdock’s cheek.
“You need a shave.” he said in a husky voice. Then he just smiled at the captain with a goofy look on his face. He deposited a bottle of champagne into the captains hands, then spun around in a circle and asked “Well? Am I good enough or what?”
Murdock didn’t understand so he just swung an arm around Face’s shoulder and guided him into the livinroom. Face leaned into Murdock and wrapped his arm around his waist tightly.
“I like this, hmmm, it feels good,” Face groaned.
Murdock looked down into his friend’s face, startled to see the passion there.
“What the matter? You want to play hard to get?” Face asked, moving his hand slowly but firmly in a circle across Murdock’s ass. Murdock stared at Face like he was a stranger. How many times had he wished to see that sultry expression in Face’s eyes? It was like a dream come true.
He stopped dead in his tracks, “What do you mean play hard to get? What are you saying Face?”
“Don’t you want me any more? You always used to want me. I know. I’ve seen it in your eyes. I’ve watched you get hard. I bet you’re getting hard righ t now. I am, real hard.” Face replied in a soft, sultry, slightly slurred voice. His hand reached down to his groin and started sliding up and down the length of his shaft.
Murdock stared at his friend speechless. Never, not even once had Face come on to him. Their friendship was so complex, so hard to explain. Murdock had long ago admitted his love for Face.
Murdock had also accepted that no matter how much he wanted him physically, Face would never be able to handle it. The two men often held and comforted each other. They caressed and stroked each other but always knowing that it would not end up in a sexual situation. Murdock always tried to hide his passion.
Now, listening to Face, he realized he hadn’t done a very good job. Murdock stared into the heavy lidded blue eyes in front of him. Up until tonight, the captain had always felt that as personally satisfying as a sexual relationship with Face would be, having one was ouof the question. Mur dock felt sure that if they had become lovers, the result would have been a very brief affair, maybe only a one night stand. Face would never want to be reminded of his weakness.
Their close friendship would be over. To prevent this from happening, Murdock had gone out of his way to hide his physical attraction to Face, but he had nevergiven any thought about what he should do if a hot and horny Face started chasing him around.
“Face! Cut it out! You don’t know what you’re saying.” Murdock said, a little more sharply than he intended. “Come on, go sit, I’ll bring you some coffee.” And with a firm shove, he pushed Face backwards until he fell onto the couch.
Face lay sprawled over the black leather couch , looked up at Murdock adoringly and replied in his sexiest drawl, “I’ll be waiting.” Murdock groaned and hurried to make coffee.
He hadn’t been gone more than five minutes, just time enough to set a pot of coffee up to drip and time to nuke a cup of instant in the microwave. Neverth eless, as he approached the living room, he realized he had been gone too long. Face was laying on the couch all right, but now he was completely naked.
“Jesus!” he exclaimed, stumbling over his own feet and spilling coffee everywhere, but unable to take his eyes off of the gorgeous body in front of him.
“Face! What are you doing? You can’t do this, come on, please. You don’t know what you’re doing. ”
Face rolled from his side to his back and grinned wildly at Murdock. His right hand stroked his penis But his eyes were glued to Murdock. He watched the bulge in the captain’s pajamas grow with glee.
“Don’t you want to touch me?” he asked his friend in his most innocent voice.
Murdock stared at Face’s stiff cock and broke out into a sweat. The mug of coffee had long slipped from his hand and was soaking into the carpet. Murdoc k tried to say something but he couldn’t. He couldn’t do anything but watch Face finger his cock and listen to him talk.
“You never touched me here before, have you? Come here Murdock. I want to feel you touch me.”
Murdock, dumbstruck, just shook his head no. His eyes glued to Face’s erection, he was convinced it had grown again. With a will of it’s own, Murdock’s hand slid inside his pajamas and started touching his own manhood, letting his pajamas fall in a heap around his feet. All he could think of was how good Face’s cock would feel inside him. He closed his eyes and savored the thought. When he opened them again, Face was standing right in front of him, the only difference was now his cock was so big, it was starting to get scary.
“Sweet Jesus.” He thought, “Can he do this without killing me? Never mind, forget it; nothing’s going to happen”
Face reached out, pulled Murdock into his arms and began to kiss him passionately.
“I want you.” He murmured into Murdock’s ear. ” I want to be inside you, help me please.”
Murdock suddenly shoved Face away. He bent down and scooped up his pajamas, breathing heavily all the while as he refastened them. “Wait!” he commanded in a no nonsense tone. “Just wait. ”
The captain turned around and walked over to the bar, poured himself a shot of scotch, then downed it.
“You think this is what you want, but you don’t. Come the morning, and you would never want to see my face again. Yeah, I want you, but I want your friendship more. So just get dressed and we’ll forget this ever happened , okay?”
There was dead silence for a long minute or two, then out of nowhere a bottle when flying past Murdock’s head, followed by an ashtray, a framed picture of the team, and the potted snake plant that sat atop his t-v.
Face began shouting, “You no good son of a bitch, how dare you you tell me what I want!! I can’t remember how many god damn years I’ve wondered what it would be like to lay with you and when I finally get up the courage, you say “No Face, this isn’t what you want. ” Yeah, well, fuck you Murdock. I know what I want. Just once, just once I wanted to be with someone who wasn’t a stranger, or a pick up. Just once I wanted to be with someone who cared about me, not how good looking I am, or how much money she thinks I have. Just once!! Why, why couldn’t you just say yes? Why?” Face’s voice was breaking as he swallowed a sob and turned to leave the room.
“Face?” Murdock asked, still stunned from the emotion in his friend’s voice.
“Face, I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. Please, please don’t go.”
“Oh, now you’re going to feel sorry for me? No thanks.” The lieutenant picked up his clothes off the couch and started getting dressed.
“Face, please, we need to talk about this.”
Face abruptly turned and crossed the room until he was right in front of Murd ock. With glazed eyes and a trembling voice he said in a husky voice, “Damn you, don’t you understand, I don’t want to talk. There is only one thing I want to do and that’s to fuck you. I have never asked you for anything before, why is this so hard? ”
Murdock looked into his friend’s eyes long and hard.
If he made the wrong decision, their friendship would be over. Seeing the pain in Face’s eyes finally won him over. In the long run, he’d be damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.
“Okay.” He told Face. “You win, but I’m not holding back anything, and I expect the same of you.” He reached out his hand to Face and said in a sultry voice, “Come here, lover boy. I don’t know if we’ll be coming down this road again, but I’m going to make for damn sure you remember it the rest of your life. Tonight, you’re not going to be with a stranger or a pick up, but your best friend that has loved you forever.”
It had been a wild and wooly night. Introducing Face to a whole new world of pleasure had brought Murdock a joy he never expected. True to his word, Face had given him everything, he had held back nothing. It had been dawn before both men, finally content and physically satiated gave into the exhaustion claiming them.
Murdock awoke first and smiled to see Face’s naked body beside him. He examined his sleeping countenance slowly. Noting the new wrinkle here, remembering how a small scar by his hairline happened, and finally wondering if Face was coloring his hair. Murdock couldn’t find any gray at all. Still, it was delightful to explore his lover like this. He had been such a jerk to worry about it. He should have known better. Face loved him as much as he loved Face. Murdock stretched and yawned.
He inhaled the scent of the room which was definitely rank with sex. He sighed as he remembered how good he felt when Face first came in his mouth and later in his ass. He laid there in bed with a dumb grin on his face, working on a hard on, wishing Face would wake up.
The bus was pulling out of the terminal as Murdock’s head gently banged out a rhythm against the window, he was reminded of something Hannibsl always said,
“Be careful what you wish for.”
With a deep, sharp pain in his gut, Murdock remembered what happened when Face woke up.
He had felt him stir, heard him groan, and watched him slowly open his eyes. At first, he seemed to look puzzled, like he didn’t know where he was. Then he sniffed the air and looked down at the stained sheets. Horror swept across his face. He looked up at Murdock with a mixture of loathing and disgust.
In just those few seconds, watching the pained , horrified expressions cross his friend’s face, Murdock knew he had made a big mistake. Face sat up, unintentionally leaning his hand on one of the stained areas on the sheets. H e looked down at his hand like it was blood, then cupped his mouth with his other hand and ran for the bathroom where Murdock could hear him throwing up.
The captain stood and stripped the bed. Then he walked over to his closet and slipped on the sweats he had hanging inside on a hook. He concentrated on being calm and not giving into the fear that was building inside him. Meth odically, he went about his routine, fixing a fresh pot of coffee and making his bed. He heard the shower, and wondered if he should fix Face some breakfast. Then he remembered how he had looked at him accusingly on the way to the bathroom and was pretty sure that he was the last guy in the world Face wanted to see now.
Perhaps discretion was the better part of valor. Murdock slipped into his sneakers, pulled on a tee shirt, and scribbled a note to Face:
Went for my morning run
and to pick up the paper.
Be back in twenty minutes
When he got back, twenty minutes later, the house was empty, not even a note. Murdock closed his eyes and thought about what he was going to do. He hoped Face would understand
Face looked out the window of the plane at the unending sea of white billowy clouds. He thanked the stewardess for the coffee and swallowed two Tylenol with it in an effort to rid himself of a seemingly unending headache. His thoughts kept returning to Murdock, no matter how hard he tried not to think of him, his name was always there, right at the tip of his tongue. No one knew how close, how really close they were.
Face was pretty sure Hannibal suspected, but he had no idea what B.A. thought. Face felt the bile riding in his throat with the coffee he had just swallowed as the shame of how he had treated his closest friend overwhelmed him again. Everytime he thought of how he had acted that morning he wanted to be physically sick. How could he have acted like that? How could he let himself hurt that gentle soul? Was it because he, Face, had grown up without the support of a loving family? Had he grown to believe he needed to hurt first before someone hurts him? Was his reaction honest or had it all been an exaggerated way of ending something he would have found difficult to continue? The questions tugged at his insides as he tried to face the events of that night and put everything in it’s proper perspective.
His memories of that night weren’t exactly the sharpest, but there were moments that he remembered very clearly, like when Murdock first knelt in front of him. Even now, just the memory gave him goose bumps. Murdock had just knelt down and looked up at him with so much love in his eyes that Face found himself close to tears. Murdock made him feel so precious, so beloved, so important. He remembered how Murdock had touched him so tenderly, so gently, wanting only to pleasure him. His eyes closed in ecstasy as he wrapped his lips around Face’s engorged cock. Never once thinking of himself, only of Face. It was like time stopped. Murdock sucked him like a baby on a bottle, firmly and steadily urging Face on to the ultimate conclusion, using his tongue, his hands, and then swallowing him down greedily, before Face could even try to stop him. It was like nothing he had ever experienced before. He wondered was it so different because it was Murdock or was it because it was a man? He knew the answer; because it was Murdock. The fact that he was a man made it more exotic and erotic, but the tenderness, the love, that was pure Murdock.
Maybe it had been so good because he had wanted it for so long. He never voiced it, but he had thought about what sex with Murdock would be like for a long time. When you know that someone wants you, really wants you, it can’t help but arouse you to be near that person, but fear had always held him back. Fear that someone would find out and think he was less a man, fear that it would hurt and he wouldn’t like it, fear he would hurt Murdock’s feelings and damage their friendship beyond repair.
Well, the last fear, it had happened. The others, they could think what they liked, but Face knew why Murdock really left the team. Face had to accept responsibility for that, and he had. What he couldn’t possibly accept was what he feared was about to happen. A fear so deep and dark, Face couldn’t voice it aloud to anyone. He had trouble just thinking it. In his heart, Face knew Murdock was on his way to say good-bye to his mother. Face had to get there first and stop him.
It wasn’t long before his flight landed and Face rented a car to drive out to McCormick. It was a small little Texas town, the kind where all life revolved around the local gas station/general store/ Post Office. Main street was a block long with a diner, two bars, a drug store, and a couple of churches.
He drove to the outskirts of town and found the small cemetery easily. He looked around for Murdock and not seeing him started searching for the late Mrs. Murdock’s grave. The sun was hot as it bore down on the top of his head, and he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He involuntarily flinched as he passed a G.I.’s grave that had served in Viet Nam the same time as Face. He looked at the name closely but didn’t recognize it. Next his attention was taken by a headstone carved to look like a cradle. According to the tombstone, Rebecca Lynn died at age six months. No cause was given. As Face wondered through the various graves he couldn’t help but wonder about little Rebecca. Had she died of a disease or Sudden Infant Death syndrome? Or had she died in a car accident or been the victim of child abuse? Face swore. He hated death and he hated cemeteries.
Finally, after an hour, he found Murdock’s mother’s grave. He was relieved to see it didn’t look like anyone had been there recently. At last something had gone right. He stood there staring at the worn headstone, reading the name and the dates.
Patricia Ann Murdock
1937 – 1952
Face bowed his head respectfully and said a short prayer. A sudden wave of sadness washed over him and he thought briefly of his own mother. She had a grave somewhere, How come he had never visited it? He had never looked for it, never wanted to know where it was, hell, he had never even thought about it. Why?
Face stared down at the grave and wondered what Mrs. Murdock had been like when she was alive.
Almost simultaneously , he realized why he had never wanted to find his own mother’s grave. It would have made her death real. It would have put an end to all the hopes of Mommy coming back and getting him. Even now, as a grown man, somewhere there was a tiny little place in his heart that always believed he would see his mother again alive. He sighed, wishing he had never had to come here and then remembering why, turned and scouted the horizons for his missing friend.
With no sign of Murdock nearby, Face decided to spruce up her final resting spot. He took out his swiss army knife, and getting down on his knees, started weeding. Then he visited several of Ms. Murdock’s neighbors, borrowing a plant here, a flower there. Finally, when it was as beautiful as he could possibly make it, he watered it and stepped back.
He smiled, pleased with himself. He looked around again to see if anyone, especially Murdock were nearby. Upon seeing no one, he started to speak.
“Um,Hi. My name is, well, you , uh, my friends call me Face. Your son and me, well, we’re like best friends. Closer than that actually. I just wanted you to know you can be real proud of him.. He turned out to be someone very special. He was a war hero you know? He was a pilot in Viet Nam, some little country out in Asia. He saved a lot of lives, flew places no one else dared.
I guess you want to know if he got hurt, well, not exactly, but the war, it l eft a lot of scars. He was taken as a prisoner of war and when he finally made it back stateside, he had some real problems coping. The doctors have a lot of big fifty cent words for it, but the bottom line is it hasn’t been easy for him.
The other guys from the unit we were in, together we have always tried to look out for him, kind of take care of him, you know? But lately, we haven’t have been doing such a good job. Especially me. It’s my fault really, don’t blame the others. They don’t even know what’s going on.
Anyway, Mrs. Murdock, I just wanted to tell you not to worry about him. I know you can’t understand this but you see I, I love him. I never said that out loud before, I felt it inside, but somehow I was always afraid to say it.” Tears were starting to stream down His cheeks as Face continued. “See, I kind of used up all the love in my heart when I was young, now there’s just a tiny speck of love in my heart. I was afraid if I was wrong, I wouldn’t have any love left, that I would use up that tiny speck and then never have another chance at love. I was wrong. The biggest mistake I ever made was not telling him how I really felt, holding all that love back just because I couldn’t trust; it was so stupid! I can’t believe I was that stupid! Damn, if I ever saw him again, that would be the first thing I would tell him.
“What would?” Mudpck asked in a chilling voice.
Face turned around and stared at the bearded stranger, suddenly at a loss for words.
“What would you say?”
Face stared at the wraithlike vision in front of him.
He hadn’t shaved in a long time. His clothes were all stained and tattered. He was bleary eyed and seemed to reel slightly from side to side.
“I would say I love you, really love you. Please, Murdock, forgive me. I never meant to hurt you. I love you and I need you.”
“Shut up! I am tired of you, so tired. Everywhere I go you’re there. You’re in my thoughts all the time, in my dreams even and now you won’t even let me visit my mother. Well, I have a surprise for you, Faceman.”
Face stared in horror as he realized Murdock didn’t believe he was real. He caught the flash of metal and realized Murdock was pulling out a gun. Never thinking twice, Faceman dove through the air and tackled him to the ground . The gun fired and there was an anguished cry.
Face laid across his friend afraid to move, afraid to ask if he was alright.
Out of breath, he felt his heart pounding in his chest, his eyes filling up with tears as he kept Murdock’s arms pinned to the ground.
“Murdock, are you alright?” he asked in a ragged voice. He waited anxiously, but there was no reply.
“Murdock!” he yelled desperately, sitting up immediately.
The captain was laying there, his eyes closed, a serene look on his face, but Face could feel his chest rise and fall beneath him, so at least he was alive. He looked around for the gun, and took it out of Murdock’s hand and stuck it in his own belt.
Then he carefully checked for a wound.
“Murdock.” He called gently, smiling with relief that neither of them had been injured . “It’s okay. You’re all right. No one got hurt.”
Without opening his eyes, Murdock started to speak.
“Would you mind leaving now? You’re not real, I know that but it hurts to see you. It makes me miss him even more, makes it hurt so bad inside. I need him so much, I never told him how much, how much I loved him, how much he meant to me. He understands me, he knows how I think. I don’t have to explain things to him, he just knows. Sometimes it’s like we’re one person, not two. I would do anything to have that last night together again. This time I would make sure nothing happened. ”
Face looked down at the man he cherished so much.
“What if I could help you?” he asked. “If I could get you that last night to do over again, would you?”
Murdock opened his eyes, looked at Face . “You are just a hallucination. You can’t do anything.”
Face stood up and held out his hand to Murdock and helped pull him up. “You’r e wrong, you know. Come on, I’ll fix it, you’ll see.”
Murdock found himself in a Best Western motel off of Farm Rd 61. He knew this, this hallucination, delusion whatever, it was way out of control. He should try to fight it at least a little, but it felt so good, he just didn’t have the heart to send this Faceman away. His imaginary Face ordered him to take a shower. Murdock smiled and complied. This was the best, the hottest, the god damn horniest hallucination he had ever had.
He walked out of the shower 15 minutes later only to be told by his imaginary Face, “Go back and shave.”
In the exact same tone of voice Face would have used. It was uncanny. When he exited the bathroom the second time, Face just stared at him with a long, hot, sultry look before going into the shower himself. It wasn’t long after he entered the shower, that Face was approaching the queen size bed Murdock was lying in. Murdock heard his name and opened his eyes. Face stood in front of him naked as the day he was born.
“I am not a figment of your fevered imagination. I am not a hallucination or some kind of delusion.
I am the other half of your soul, just as you are the other half of my soul. Together we are something very special, apart, we’re just two guys life chewed on for a while and spit out. The last time we were together, I was drunk and hardly remember anything. I want to relive that night again with you, now.”
“No, no, please. You’ll hate me. I saw it , that look on your face when you woke up. Being with me like that, it made you sick to your stomach. No, please.” Murdock begged.
“Murdock,” Face said softly as he neared the big bed, “You have to trust me, that won’t happen this time.
Besides, I have a new rule, afterwards, we’re going to change the sheets and shower. ”
Murdock’s head jerked up, almost as if for the first time he thought this was indeed the real Face.
He smiled, who else but the real Face could be so practical, Afterall, he was a bit of a neat freak.
“That’s not very romantic, Faceman.” He murmurred in a husky voice filled with passion.
“No,”Face replied as he moved to lay beside his lover on the bed. His hand reached and stroked Murdock’s erection lovingly, and then he added.
“But this is.” And gently started swallowing Murdock’s cock. Up and down the long hard shaft his lips slid, as his tongue lashed itself around him repeatedly. Face let his bottom teeth scrape ever so gently against the sensitive underside of his cock.
He knew by Murdock’s sharp intake of breath that It had been appreciated. While he sucked voraciously on his cock, one hand wandered all over Face’s body, while the other held his cock firmly. Each time his mouth slid down the glistening shaft, It would plunge a little deeper down his throat. Each time that happened, Murdock would moan uncontrollably. As he felt Murdock get closer and closer to orgasm, Face grabbed his own cock with his free hand and started working it back and forth furiously. He felt the huge organ in his mouth start to twitch and in seconds he was hungrily swallowing his lover’s cum. Moments later his own cock let loose, spewing cum on the sheets.
Murdock laid there, dazzled and bewildered, his cock now limp. He looked at Face, puzzled, unsure of what his role in this was. Then he looked down at Face’s crotch and saw his erection growing by leaps and bounds. He stared, amazed.
“How do you do that?” he asked, mystified how his friend could be so hard so soon.
Face just smiled and let his own hand slide along his shaft, urging his cock to an even grater size. “I can do this because I love you, I want to be inside you. Would you like that?”
Murdock nodded yes, and remembered the last time. He smiled knowingly, glad Face wouldn’t be a stumbling virgin when he took him this time.
” Wait,” he told Face. “I want to taste you first.”
He moved down and reached out and pulled Face’s cock into his mouth. Without any hesitation, he plunged the full length of the thick hard shaft down his throat. He closed his eyes as he savored the sensation and nipped the base of his cock with his teeth. The engorged dick immediately flickered in his mouth like a wild thing out of control as Face moaned frantically, and begged Murdock to stop.
Murdock complied, but only for a moment.
“I can always make you hard again, but I need to taste you now.” He said as he plunged down the impossibly hard dick and started sucking the big cock as hard as he could until in a series of spasms, Face filled his moth to overflowing with his thick, creamy cum. Now it was Face’s turn to lay exhausted, but not for long. His hands started doing an inventory of Murdock’s body. “You’ve lost a lot of weight,” he noted.
Murdock didn’t reply. Then Face rolled over on top of him and started kissing him slowly , up the chest, up his neck, and finally his mouth. By the time Face reached his mouth, he was hot and hard again. He leaned into those lips and shoved his tongue in as far as he could. Nothing about his possesion of Murdock’s mouth was gentle. It was a statement. You’re mine, my possesion, and Murdock reveled in it. He kissed back as hard and passionately as he could , pushing Face closer and closer to going over the edge, when finally Face stopped and between Gasps for air, asked Murdock what did he want, all the while rubbing his hard dick against Murdock’s creating a friction that made him want to go out of his mind.
Murdock laid there, feeling his cock rubbing against Face’s and all he could do was beg, ‘ Please, please.”
“Come on, Faceman, don’t play games. Please!”
“Please what Murdock? You want me to suck you off again? Or do want me to fuck your ass?”
Murdock just moaned as his cock twitched involuntarily. Face looked at him laying there with his eyes closed and smiled knowingly. He reached for the tube he had placed on the floor beside the bed And smeared the lubricant over his cock, then he ordered Murdock to turn over, and generously Anointed his asshole. Then he knelt behind him And rubbed his cock around the entrance without going in. Murdock groaned impatiently, and started bucking his body backwards into Face’s cock, which continued to grow in size. Face closed his eyes savoring the sensation of Mudock’s ass bumping his hot prick.
“Tell me you want it, Murdock. Tell me exactly what you want.” He ordered, and Murdock begged almost immediately, “Please Face, fuck me. I want to feel you inside of me. I want your big hot dick deep inside my ass. I want you to fuck me as hard as you can until I can’t think, till it’s just you and me and nothing else in the whole world matters.”
Face just smiled and plunged into Murdock’s ass, fucking him as if he had done it a dozen times before.
Murdock felt the stiff hard cock fill his ass with an exquisite pain. He felt Face ram his cock home again and again, harder and harder, deeper and deeper, until there was nothing in the universe except Face’s cock up his ass, now creating the most undescribable pleasure, spiraling upwards, causing him to cry out his pleasure again and again until finally with one might thrust, Face’s cock quivered in his ass,shooting cum and causing Face to yell out in ecstasy.
The night of sexual pleasure continued on late into the night with each man reaching multiple orgasms From multiple positions. Finally, as they laid in each other ‘s arms, exhausted and drained, Face nudged Murdock out of bed and to the shower. He stripped the bed and quickly remade it with the clean sheets he had liberated from the Supply Room. After a brief shower, he rejoined Murdock in bed, content Both physically and emotionally.
He looked over at the man he loved and trembled at the thought of what would have happened if he hadn’t arrived at the cemetery first. “You okay?” he asked gently. “You’ve been through a lot lately.”
Murdock rubbed his cheek into Face’s chest, listening to his beard pull at his chest hair and smiling., He tilted his head up so he could see Face’s eyes in the dim light, “I’m okay.” He said softly. Neither man said else anything for a moment; they just laid together, thinking only of each other, the rest of life’s worries momentarily forgotten.
“Face?” Murdock whispered, sounding something like a frightened child.
Face hugged his body to him harder and whispered back, “What?”
“What’s going to happen? Do we have to go back to D.C.?”
“No, we’re not going back to D.C. After you left, we decided we had done enough for General Stockwell. I’m not sure exactly what is going to happen now. It’ll be all right though, trust me.” Face paused then and suddenly asked, “You do trust me , don’t you?”
Murdock smiled again and whispered “Yes.” Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep.