Captain Nathan Benson glanced at his commanding officer though the open door. Colonel Lynch wore a thoughtful expression. Benson knew Lynch was making the same important decision he made around this time every day.
Chinese or Italian?
Benson had more on his mind than the colonel’s lunch plans. He could just barely see over the mountain of paperwork on his desk, all reports of possible sightings of the A-Team. The one he’d just read detailed a sighting of them at Ayers Rock in Australia. The very same day someone else had supposedly spotted them topping up their tans on a beach in Jamaica.
Benson sighed as he looked at the huge stack of paper. Somewhere in there was a sighting of the A-Team on the moon. And Lynch would still want it followed up.
“I’m going to lunch,” Lynch said, emerging from his office and putting on his jacket and cap. “As soon as I get back we’ll have a meeting about that sighting in Minneapolis and start to make the arrangements to go and check it out.”
Benson glanced at the clock. Eleven fifteen.
“Should I pencil that in for two or three o’clock then, sir?”
Lynch gave him a scowl. “Put the paperwork together,” he snapped and strode out, restaurant bound. Benson sighed and hoped he might get the time to slip out and grab a sandwich at some point. He got up and started gathering the paperwork about the Minneapolis sighting.
It was actually a strong lead for a change, from police reports. Three men matching the descriptions perfectly. A huge bar room brawl. Eight Hell’s Angels hospitalised. Yep, it was the A-Team all right. But it was also a week ago and they would be long gone by now. A thousand miles away. Lynch would want to go and interview everyone involved anyway. Presumably he didn’t yet have enough reports about how hard Baracus could hit people.
Still, only a week behind the team now. They were catching up. Benson snorted. He put the papers into a folder and put the folder on Lynch’s desk. He gave the empty chair a salute that involved only his middle finger and went back to his own desk.
He started reading over a report which had the A-Team watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. He checked his records for that date and groaned. Just at the same time they were supposedly at Buckingham Palace they were also in a bar on the outskirts of Kabul and having lunch in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Seattle Space Needle.
He balled up the report and tossed it viciously across the room, then dropped his head into his hands and moaned. What the hell had he done to deserve this posting? Well, he knew exactly what he’d done. That little, um, indiscretion with General Langham’s daughter. Even so, this assignment was surely a disproportionate punishment.
He looked up at the sound of the unfamiliar voice, then jumped to his feet.
“At ease, Captain. Is Colonel Lynch here?”
“He’s gone to lunch Colonel…” he glanced at the name badge. “Taylor.”
Taylor glanced at the clock and frowned.
“I see. Very well. Captain, there has been a change. Colonel Lynch is no longer in charge of the A-team case. I am.”
Benson raised his eyebrows and almost let his mouth fall open. But he caught himself and controlled his surprise. A salute. When in doubt a salute was always a good idea. He snapped off his very best salute at Colonel Taylor.
BA frowned as Murdock sculpted his double helping of mashed potatoes into the shape of Devils Tower. They could have taken Murdock to see a comedy, or some mindless action movie, but no, Hannibal and Face had insisted on taking him to see a movie full of spaceships and little green men, that was just gonna make him even crazier than before.
“Quit playing with your food, fool,” BA growled. Murdock looked at him and grinned.
“Keep watching the skies, big guy.”
“Okay, Murdock,” Hannibal said. “You said you had something to tell us. Now you’ve had your movie and a nice dinner, so let’s hear it.”
Murdock laid down his knife and fork and sat back in his chair. Then he glanced around the restaurant and leant forward over the table. The others all leaned in too.
“Lynch is out.”
“Really?” Face said. “Well, I can’t say I’m that surprised. The big moustache is kind of a give-away.”
“Face.” Hannibal scowled at him. “What do you mean, ‘out’, Murdock?”
“He’s gone. He’s ancient history. Yesterday’s man. He’s off the twig. Kicked the bucket, shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible.”
“Er, he’s dead?” Hannibal said, cautiously.
“What? Oh, no, sorry, I got carried away… Ow!” BA grabbed Murdock’s shoulder and shook him violently.
“Quit messing about, fool. You got something to say, spill it, or I’ll spill you!”
“BA!” Face hissed and glanced around at the other patrons and the waiters as they stared. He gave them a smile. BA let Murdock go and sat back in his chair. He glowered at Murdock but felt ashamed of himself too. The fool couldn’t help himself. He wasn’t normal, it was no good BA expecting him to be. Just wanted him to be, that was all. Wanted him to be normal. Wanted him to be well.
“BA, we’ve not seen Murdock for six months,” Hannibal said. “You want to spend the whole day fighting?”
BA grunted. They’d have to take Murdock back to the hospital later and who knows when they’d get to see him again.
“Okay,” Murdock said. “Listen up. Lynch is off your case. Another colonel has taken over. Name of Taylor.”
“Taylor? Can’t say I recognise the name. Any of you guys know him?” BA and Face shook their heads. Murdock was grinning.
“No, you wouldn’t know ‘him’,” he said. He turned sideways on his chair, affecting a cool pose, crossed his legs. He took a sip from his wine glass. “You wouldn’t know ‘him’ at all. Because he’s a woman.” He took another sip and then frowned. “Or rather, you know what I mean. I mean she’s a woman.”
The other three stared back at him with their mouths open and then BA snorted. Hannibal and Face began to laugh.
“Is this a joke?” BA demanded. Be just like Murdock to try to pull a prank like this on them.
“Nope, it’s real. Colonel Barbara Taylor.”
“How do you know this?” Hannibal asked.
“Face,” Murdock said. “You remember a Corporal Harris, from Fort Bragg?”
“Remember him? He beat the snot out of me the first day we arrived!”
BA frowned. They’d been held separately for the first couple of weeks at Fort Bragg. When they all got back together Face looked like he’d been in a fight every single day.
“You should have reported him to the guards.” Hannibal said.
“He was a guard!”
“That’s the one.” Murdock said, nodding. “Anyway he was in the VA for gall bladder surgery and he knew we were friends so he came to see me and said he’s been working at a prison facility some place in Iowa, I think it was. Or it might have been Illinois. Wherever. And the colonel in charge was this Taylor and she’s been transferred to take over Lynch’s job. He was laughing a lot and I was kind of out of it at the time, but I think he said something like ‘your friends are so screwed.’ Oh and he says ‘hi’, Face.”
The team sat in silence for a few minutes, thinking this over.
“A chick,” Face said eventually. “I’m almost insulted.”
“Well look on the bright side,” Hannibal said. “She’ll be no problem after we send you in to seduce her.”
BA giggled and Murdock smirked. Face was less amused.
“If she’s a colonel then she’s more your age. You can seduce her.”
“Do you have to say ‘your age’, like you’re talking about an advanced state of decrepitude?” Hannibal looked offended. “And you need a haircut, Lieutenant.”
“Got one yesterday.” Face touched the ends of his hair where it curled over the bottom of his collar. “Anyway, in my experience lots of these women career officers aren’t really interested in men, if you know what I mean.”
“Harris said she’s pretty tough.” Murdock said. “Wasn’t a women’s prison she was running either. He said even the really vicious, nasty bastards in there were scared of her. The prisoners too.” He added.
“I’d kind of got used to Lynch,” Hannibal said, with a sigh. “Five years of him getting nowhere near was reassuring.”
“Should we send him a card?” Murdock suggested. “‘Sorry you got canned.'”
“C’mon, Hannibal,” Face said. “You’re not scared of a girl are you?”
“No,” Hannibal shook his head. “Of course not.” He got out a cigar and Face lit it for him. “There’s just one thing I have to ask, Murdock. You’re absolutely sure you didn’t imagine all of this?”