by Lori Beatty
The soft evening breezes drifted through the windows,
gently ruffling the white curtains and filling the large living room
with the sweet scent of freshly watered grass. Curled up on the sofa,
Kelly Stevens gazed into the distance, hardly aware of the soft breezes
and the aromas of the earth. Her thoughts were all centered on the
unbelievable events of the day now coming to an end so quietly around
her. Just a few short hours ago she had been run off the road by a
truck of crazed hillbillies, sheltered a total stranger, been taken
hostage by the bounty hunters and rescued by four lone ranger type men
in a black van. What filled her mind now, however, beyond anything
else, was the man who had been the focal point of this excitement. H.M.
Closing her eyes, Kelly summoned a mental image of the
man and instantly felt the loneliness close in around her again. She'd
experienced it first when Murdock had driven away in her van to
rendezvous with his friends. As she watched him disappear she'd felt
strangely lost and abandoned. Much the same way she'd felt that summer
when she was ten and her parents left her alone at camp for the first
After Murdock had gone, Kelly found herself recalling
every word he'd spoken, every gesture and smile. It had suddenly become
very important that she not forget these things. She had realized then,
at some point during the day that Murdock had become very important to
The breezes kissed her cheek again calling her back to
the quiet confines of her dimly lit living room. She looked up to see
Homer, her German Sheppard, sitting expectantly beside the sofa. With a
smile she motioned the large dog to join her. "Hello sweetie, are you
feeling lonesome too?" The dog hopped up besides her laying his head in
her lap. "What's happened to me,Homer? I think I've lost my mind. How
could I have fallen in love in just a few short hours?" Homer raised
his head and whined.
"I know. It's crazy but it's true. I can't get him out of my mind.
I keep seeing his smile and those dark brown eyes." She sighed and
stroked the animal's head slowly. "You liked him too, didn't you boy?
You know, I was really afraid at first. I wasn't as confident of your
judgment as I claimed. But we were both right about him Homer. He's a
very very nice man." Kelly smiled at the memory of Murdock making that
silly sound of gunfire, his way of telling her he knew the gun she
pointed at him was a toy. Looking back on it now she realized that her
affection for him had been born in that instant.
"Oh, Homer," she said sadly. "This is all so insane. Things like
this don't happen in real life. I pick up a stranger in the morning and
by late afternoon my whole life is changed. If I tried to sell a novel
with this plot I'd be laughed out the publishers office. No one would
believe it." Suddenly a rather unpleasant thought occurred to her. "Oh
no. What will my sister say? Linda will never understand. She'll give
me a long lecture on the dangers of picking up strangers and when she
finds out that I helped him hide..." she shuddered at the image of her
sister in one of her tirades. Briefly the terrifying hour and a half
she'd been held hostage raced through her mind but she shoved it firmly
aside. That part of the day she wanted to forget, as quickly as
possible. The only thing she wanted to concentrate on was Murdock. "How
can I ever explain to Linda how he makes me feel, what it was like
having him her. I miss him already," Kelly whispered to her silent pet.
"Ridiculous, isn't it? I don't even know anything about him; where he
comes from, what the H.M. stands for, or even how old he is, nothing."
Reaching inside the pocket of her robe she pulled out of a piece of
paper on which an address was scribbled. Murdock's address. She studied
the numbers carefully; committing them to memory then allowed her mind
to drift back to their earlier conversation.
Murdock had explained briefly about his friends being chased by the
Military for a crime they didn't commit. As to his part in the day's
events she only knew he'd been kidnapped from the VA hospital in LA and
used as bait to lure the others.
Kelly stared at the paper Murdock had given her; remembering how he
had blithely invited her to "come visit" sometime and he'd "show her
LA". When she asked why he was in the hospital he'd babbled something
about "disabled vet" and skillfully changed the subject. She wondered
now what he had left unsaid. Had he'd been injured in Vietnam? Was he
crippled in some way? She found herself hoping fervently that he was
all right. The thought of him being in any sort of pain or discomfort
made her ache inside.
"What do you think, Homer? Will we ever see him again? Or was he
just being nice to me, not wanting to hurt my feelings?" Homer looked
up at her but remained silent. "He was probably just feeling grateful
for my help, huh fella? I mean, what else could he have said when I
blurted out, "Will I ever see you again?" She remembered her impulsive
kiss then and a wave of embarrassment washed over her turning her
cheeks hot and red. "He was probably shocked. I can't believe I did
that. Was it a mistake Homer? Maybe it was a bit forward of me to admit
that I liked him. I'll bet he hates pushy women." She closed her eyes
when she recalled the tears she'd shed when he left. "Linda told me I
was a hopeless romantic, maybe she was right." Homer whined and licked
her hand. Laughing softly, Kelly reached down and scratched behind the
sheppard's pointed ears. "I know, it's too late now to worry about it,
right? The only question now is whether I'll ever see him again. I want
to, Homer, very much. But does he want to see me?" The dog raised his
head from her lap and barked sharply. "Is that a yes or a no? Never
mind," she said patting his head. I don't think I want to know. I'm
going to pretend I'm Scarlet O'Hara and not worry about it any more.
I'll think about it tomorrow. After all tomorrow is another day."
After turning off the lights Kelly padded into her room and climbed
into bed. Tucked snugly under the caressing covers her thoughts once
again traveled back to Murdock. Here, alone in the darkness, she was
even more vulnerable to the memories of the eventful day and her new
found feelings for the mysterious H.M. Murdock.
She know so very little about him yet with some unexplainable magic
he had wormed his way into her heart and she hadn't even recognized the
symptoms until it was almost too late. In the beginning she had merely
felt comfortable and at ease with his silliness and boyish humor. That
in itself was unusual, for Kelly normally felt ill at ease with men. As
a child, she had been a tomboy and played easily with the boys in town
but as adolescence moved in she became self-conscious of her imagined
shortcomings she became withdrawn and shy. Her sister Linda was the
beauty in the family, tall and blond her vivacious personality was a
sharp contrast with Kelly's more subdued looks and quiet temperament.
Linda was popular with the boys while Kelly felt awkward and tongue
tied with the opposite sex. With H.M. though, there had never been a
moment of unease. Talking with him was the same as talking with the
little boys in town when she was ten. Murdock was different from any
other man she'd known. She didn't understand how exactly as yet but she
had sensed it from the first. Maybe it was the way he smiled or the way
he treated her as something special. Perhaps it was the way he spoke of
his friends with so much pride and affection. Or maybe it was as simple
as the moment he pulled her across the room, held a mirror in front of
him and announced that she was a "pretty girl".
That memory warmed her heart and she sighed dreamily. Murdock was
not the most handsome man she'd ever met, but he was warm and sweet and
silly and wonderful. Something about those gentle brown eyes made her
feel special and when he smiled; it was if the sun had come out to
shine just for her.
The click, click of Homers claws on the bare floor reached her ears
and she called to him softly. He came to the side of her bed, nuzzling
her arm. With her outstretched had she stroked the fur on his noble
head. "Oh, Homer, I'm so confused. I feel happy and sad, scared and
excited all at the same time." The dog licked her hand and settled down
for the night. Kelly turned on her side, hugging her pillow and
reliving for the hundredth time that last moment with her mysterious
Murdock had returned with his friends to rescue her from the bounty
hunters. They had attacked with a suddenness that left her in shock.
Men, guns and fists were everywhere and in the chaos she had tried to
keep track of Murdock. It was an impossible task. Then, just as
suddenly as it began, it was over and Murdock was rushing toward her.
He took her face in his hands and kissed her intensely. Even now, in
the darkness of her room she could still feel the thrill that kiss had
sparked. It lingered like the afterglow of a warm caressing fire. It
had left her feeling lost and bewildered and longing for more.
"I gotta go." Those were his parting words and suddenly, like an
evaporating dream he was gone, disappearing into the dark van as it
sped away down the drive. She stood there, weak kneed and dazed, her
mind a whirlwind of disjointed thoughts. Thoughts that she was just now
beginning to sort out.
What did the kiss mean? To him? As for herself, she wanted very
much to believe that it was an indication of things to come. A promise
from him to return to pursue whatever course had been laid for them
today. But what of him? Was he merely relieved that she had not been
hurt, or was there something more in the kiss? Perhaps her over active
imagination and her streak of romanticism were running rampant and she
was creating dreams out of nothing. After all the entire day was like a
fairy tale. A mysterious man comes into her life, she falls in love,
and he comes to her rescue then rides off into the sunset to fight
dragons in some far off land. Linda would be in hysterics if she could
see her little sister now.
Suddenly, from somewhere deep inside a new streak of determination
came to life. Why was she always so worried about Linda and her
reaction to things? Whose life was it anyway?
Sitting up in bed Kelly looked down at the slumbering dog and
announced, "Homer, I'm not going to let this go by without a fight. I'm
not going to sit idly by and allow my sister of anyone else keep from
seeing Murdock again.
"I don't care if it sounds silly or dangerous or crazy. He has my
number. If he doesn't call by Friday then I'll get in the van and drive
to LA and see him. If he tells me to go away I will and that'll be
that. If not, well, who knows."
Pleased with her newfound courage, Kelly snuggled once more under
the blanket and hugged her pillow. Her dreams that night were filled
with visions of her younger self playing cowboys and Indians with a boy
who bore a striking resemblance to a certain pilot she'd met recently.
"I gotta go," he blurted out, taking one last look at the sweet
face he held between his hands. Forcing himself to release her he ran
for the black van that was already driving away. He drew along side and
Face stretched out a hand to help him inside. Once seated in the plush
interior, H.M. Murdock murmured a heart felt "Thanks, guys" to his
Hannibal Smith turned from his position in the front and smiled at
the Captain. "Anytime, Murdock. We're always available to rescue ladies
in distress." His smile broadened and he added, "and kidnapped pilots."
Murdock grinned and settled more deeply into the gray seat.
"Hey, Murdock, from what I could see that was a very attractive
lady back there. You have good taste." Face smiled then shrugged.
"Course, I have my doubts about hers, but..."
Murdock glanced at him. "She's a very special girl." Without
further comment he turned his face toward the door and tuned out his
three friends. He wanted time to think and he really didn't want to be
disturbed. The looks of concern that passed between the other members
of the team went unnoticed by Murdock.
Kelly's smiling face pushed all other thoughts from his mind. He
couldn't forget her, couldn't pretend that he wasn't very smitten with
the pretty young veterinarian who had harbored him from the bounty
She'd been such a pleasant surprised to him when she opened the
back door to the van. Huge, frightened blue eyes stared at him from a
sweet face framed in shiny brown curls. He smiled to himself as he
remembered her attempt to look threatening as she pointed the toy
pistol at him. Her fear and concern had vanished quickly, however, when
he explained his situation and she had immediately urged him to come
home with her and she would help him hide from the men.
Her sympathy and generosity had overwhelmed him and he made a
conscious effort during the day to present himself as a nice normal,
unthreatening man who just happened to be visiting. He kept the
atmosphere between them light-hearted and casual not wanting to cause
her any concern. Even now the thought of her trusting nature sent a
chill up his spine. He tried not to think about her picking up some
other stranger on a different occasion and having the misfortune to
choose someone far opposite from himself.
Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back against the seat and
admitted to himself for the first time how intrigued he'd been by Kelly
from that first moment. At the time, though he'd been too preoccupied
with contacting the team to think much beyond her generosity.
A mental picture of her pink tinged cheeks entered his mind
suddenly and he smiled again. She'd been embarrassed by her lack of
knowledge about rock music and her naivete touched him. He found
himself wondering about what sort of man her boyfriend was and
questioned her about what they did for fun. The pink tinge turned to
scarlet when she admitted that she didn't have a boyfriend.
It was that statement that first made him realize his strong
attraction for Kelly. He nearly blurted out, "But you're beautiful!"
but managed to stop himself in time. He took a moment to master his
sudden overflowing desire and finally stated, "You're a pretty girl."
Kelly had scoffed at his statement and some demon inside forced him to
make her look in the mirror and tell her firmly that what she saw there
was definitely a "Pretty girl."
Several times that day he had wished he was Faceman and possessed
of the ability to charm women off their feet with a witty remark or a
seductive smile. This was one time when he'd like to have romanced
Kelly with the self-assuredness of his friend. But all he could do was
be himself and hope that it would suffice.
He hadn't considered even briefly if Kelly might be attracted to
him. The circumstances weren't the best for starting a romance. And all
his thoughts were focused on finding the team. He knew they would be
concerned about his safety.
It wasn't until he'd made contact with the team and was preparing
to leave Kelly's safe haven that the complexion of their brief
relationship changed. She'd begged him to let her drive him to the
rendezvous point but he staunchly refused, attempting to charm her out
of her desire. Much to his surprise she'd suddenly kissed him. The
gesture had totally shocked him. Up until that moment he had not
allowed himself the luxury of considering a mutual attraction. Now he
had to face the possibility that Kelly might be as drawn to him as he
was to her. That changed everything.
Even so, if later events hadn't happened as they did, he probably
would never have seen her again. Despite the assurances to Kelly, fate
had other things in mind in the shape of four bounty hunters. As he
waited for Hannibal to finish speaking with the men on the phone, his
mind exploded with fear for Kelly's safety. The thought of her being
manhandled by those men filled his brain and even now he could barely
control his rage. Nothing had mattered but getting her free of the
hunters as quickly as possible.
"Murdock," Face repeated for the third time. "You okay?"
It took several seconds for the pilot to gather his thoughts and
realize that the van had pulled up in front of the VA. With a quickly
muttered, "thanks," Murdock slid open the door and hopped out.
"Uh, Murdock, wait up a minute," Hannibal said, joining the captain on the sidewalk.
"I'd better get back, Hannibal," Murdock said, still moving away from the van.
"I know, but you'll need someone to give an explanation to the
staff about your kidnapping and return won't you?" He smiled. "Well,
that's my job. Come on, I'll go with you to your room."
Murdock recognized the look on Hannibal's face. It said he'd not
get away from his commander without some sort of explanation for his
unusual silence in the van coming back from Bedford Falls. Reluctantly
he agreed. He had no choice.
Following the Colonel into the VA, he was only partly aware of the
explanation Hannibal gave to the nurse on duty. Something about being
Deputy Sheriff from Clarke county and empowered by Colonel Decker to
return Captain Murdock. Kidnapping was a mistake, wrong man, sorry for
the trouble. Impatiently Murdock waited, looking properly bemused and
puzzled. Which wasn't too difficult to accomplish at the moment for
that was exactly how he felt..
Finally the matter was settled and the two men sought refuge in Murdock's private room.
"All right, Captain. What is it?" Hannibal asked quietly.
Murdock knew better than to try and deny anything was wrong, yet he didn't know where to begin his explanation.
"Is it the girl?"
"I don't know," the pilot shrugged. "I guess."
"You know," Hannibal said, walking slowly across the room. "We're
all very grateful to her." Murdock raised an eyebrow. "Without her help
things might have turned out very differently."
Murdock mulled that idea over for a few minutes, taking the thought
one step further. "Yeah. I suppose in a way I should be thanking them.
If those bounty hunters hadn't kidnapped me I'd never have met Kelly."
Hannibal stood thoughtfully a moment. "I get the feeling you're very glad you did meet her."
"She's special," Murdock replied.
"Do you plan to see her again?"
"Do you plan to see her again?"
"No." The pilot's reply was stiff and firm.
"I can't Hannibal, you know that."
"What did you tell her?"
Murdock rubbed his forehead. "That I'd see her again," he admitted reluctantly.
"Well, it's none of my business but that parting kiss looked like it was more than just a friendly good-bye."
"Hannibal, I can't see her again. Look what happened this time. She
could have been seriously injured or worse. If it hadn't been for you
and the guys... No, it's too big a risk. She was a nice lady who helped
me but that's the end of it."
"You could at least call her and tell her you got back to LA in one piece."
"No. It's better this way." He turned and smiled at his commander.
"It was just a chance meeting. In our line of work we meet hundreds of
pretty girls, don't we? This one isn't any different from the rest.
Don't worry Colonel, it's nothing."
Hannibal's blue eyes seemed to penetrate deep inside Murdock's mind and he knew he hadn't fooled the Colonel for one second.
"It's up to you, Murdock," Hannibal shrugged. "I guess you know what you're doing."
Two days later H. M. Murdock was ready to admit defeat. He didn't
know what he was doing. The last few days had been a battle of emotions
and logic that left him depressed and nursing a rotten headache. His
sensible side commended him for his decision not to see Kelly again. It
was best for both of them if it just faded into the distance.
His emotional side however was waging an all out battle against his
logic. Every time he closed his eyes he could see her, hear her, and
feel her. She filled his mind like nothing else had ever done in his
life, with exception of his love for flying. Her memory lingered like a
golden afterglow in his heart.
Vainly he attempted to read a book but the walls in his room began
closing in on him. He moved outside wandering around the grounds until
he found a nice quiet spot where he could try and read in peace and put
Kelly out of his mind for a while. Unfortunately the spot he chose was
near the south lawn and the sprinklers were busily sending out
pulsating streams of water onto the dry grass. His thoughts immediately
leaped back to the sprinklers that were constantly turning in Kelly's
yard and his depression grew.
"Murdock, you have a visitor." The sound of a male voice broke into
the pilot's thoughts and he turned to see Fred, one of the orderlies,
standing behind him. Mildly perturbed at the interruption, Murdock
waved the message away. "If it's a bill collector tell him I ran out of
stamps. He'll understand, they're very good about that sort of thing,
"It's not a bill collector," Fred explained. "It's a lady."
Suddenly Murdock's melancholy began to fade. "A lady? Where is she?"
"Right over there."
"Thank you," Murdock muttered, looking in the direction in which
the orderly had pointed. "Thank you." He saw her standing beneath a
tree not twenty feet away. Suddenly, he didn't feel depressed any more
and the headache was completely gone. In fact, even the sound of the
sprinklers made him feel like shouting. With a soaring heart, Murdock
started toward the vision near the tree.
L. Beatty 8/85