by Lori Beatty
The Shady Rest Motel was tucked quietly away behind three small
hills several yards back of state highway forty-three. It's tiny cabins
were nestled among decades old oleanders and large oak trees. Forty
years prior, in it's prime, the Shady Rest had been the ultimate in the
then, new motor inns. It offered an idyllic stop over for weary
travelers after a day in the automobile. The small cabins were painted
pristine white with green shutters and window boxes filled with pink
petunias and each was separated from the other by lush green grass and
small round stepping stones. Repeating the peaceful color scheme were
flower beds of white and red impatients, bordered with round white
stones painted in the traditional white. The small decorative edging
meandered from the cabins all the way up to the small neatly kept
office and surrounding parking lot. In all, twelve little cabins faced
the common grass area, the center of which held a swimming pool. The
pool was a new addition, a concession to the modern times and had
probably replaced the simpler recreational diversion so popular in it's
day: the swing set and slide.
Today these little places had all but been replaced by sleek, glass
and steel Holiday Inns and the lesser priced, modular, low budget, Days
Inns. It was it's very outdated atmosphere that intrigued Hannibal
Smith and he pointed to the unobtrusive motel with a smile on his face.
"Turn in here, BA."
The driver of the van frowned. "Oh, Hannibal, can't we go next door to the Best Western? It's lots newer."
"Yeah," Face piped up. "Why do you always stop at these low budget, out dated, rat holes?"
"Rat holes?" Hannibal snapped. "Face, look at this place. It's a
classic. A true piece of Americana. you don't see motels like this
anymore. This place has character, style, it's got. . . "
"It's got termites," BA growled.
"Aw, come on guys," Murdock spoke up calmly. "Hannibal's right. I
mean, look at all the assets this place has to offer. It's shaded from
the intense daytime sun, it's quite and peaceful, and we could all use
some peace at the moment. We need to be prepared for the upcoming
confrontation with Cramer and his slimes."
"Anything else?" Face asked dubiously.
Murdock thought a moment then added, "Yes, it's quaint."
"Quaint?" Face questioned.
"Yeah. Look at those little rocks painted white all lined up like
little soldiers and look a those big old trees with their leafy leaves
and their knarled trunks and those cute flower beds," Face rolled his
eyes but Murdock kept on. "And the green shutters and the oleanders.
It's a very inviting place."
Hannibal nodded, feeling better now that his idea had a backer.
Face still groaned. "These old places always smell like mildew."
"Mildew? Face, that's not mildew. That's history. Just think of the
people who have stopped and left a little piece of their lives within
these picturesque cabins. Ahhh, the stories they could tell."
Face let his head droop nearly to his lap. When Hannibal was on one
of his nostalgia kicks he got very melodramatic. It was a lost cause.
Hannibal ignored the Faceman and ordered BA to pull into the
parking slot nearest the office. "Murdock, you and Amy go check us in.
We'll go on down to the real estate office and put in a bid for that
property. That should put a divot in Cramer's golf green. We'll be back
in a few minutes to pick you up for the ride out to Cramer's estate.
We'll also make reservations at the fancy hotel we passed on the way
in. That way, Cramer will think we are in one place, while we're really
Murdock grinned and elbowed Amy. "Isn't he the greatest?"
Face slid the door of the van aside to allow the two to climb out,
then waved a cheery goodbye as BA threw the lever into drive and roared
out of the parking lot, scattering rocks and kicking up dust as he
With a jaunty wave to the retreating van, Murdock shoved his hands
into his pockets and smiled at his companion. His eyes held a
mischievous twinkle as he asked, "How many rooms are we going to get?"
Amy feigned innocence. "Why, three, of course. Just like we always
do. You and Hannibal get one room, Face and BA another, and I, being
the only female on the team, get a room all to myself," she smiled
"Aw, come on, Amy," Murdock pretended to pout. "Can't we sort of, shuffle things around this time?"
"No," she replied firmly. "Now behave yourself."
"I'm tired of sleeping with Hannibal. He hogs the covers."
Amy threw him a threatening glance and pulled open the squeaking screen door that led to the motel office.
Seated behind the small counter was a plump, jovial faced man of
about sixty-five who smiled as they entered. "Well, good day to you,
folks," he greeted, peering over the rim of his glasses. "Welcome to
Simsport. How can I be of service today?"
Amy stole a glance at Murdock and saw that ornery twinkle still
shining in his brown eyes and couldn't help bur grin in response. The
old gentleman misinterpreted the expression, however.
"Awww, now don't tell me, I know. You're newly weds, huh? Well, you
just sign your name and I'll make sure you get the best cabin in the
complex. A nice secluded one, real private." he winded at Amy who had
blushed scarlet at the remark.
It wasn't that she was embarrassed by the thought of her and
Murdock being married, but because the old man had hit so close to the
truth without realizing it. "Well, uh. . . "
"Naw," Murdock drawled in mock disgust. "She's my sister. Geez.
I'll never hear the end of this," he complained, slouching against the
Amy picked up the game. "Can't you see the family resemblance?" she
asked the man. "Brown eyes, brown hair, same smile." The pair put their
faces side by said and grinned broadly at the old man.
"Oh yeah, guess I can now that you mention it. Sorry about that."
He cleared his throat, embarrassed and shoved the register toward them.
"So, how many rooms then? Two?"
"Nope. Three. Our Pa and brothers are down the street. They'll be back soon."
"Family outing, huh?" the old man guessed.
"Something like that," Amy agreed.
The proprietor turned the book around and looked at the name Murdock had signed. "Cartwright, huh?"
"Yep. My name's Adam and this here's my sister, Angela."
"Nice names," the man grinned.
While the owner's back was turned, locating the keys, Murdock mimed
a man and woman in a Hollywood type, passionate embrace. Amy kicked
"Okay, here ya go. You and your brothers have cabins 9 & 10,
that's the last ones on the left of the pool. Miss, you're in the
little cabin back by the big oak. Number twelve, beside the pink
After thanking the man the two went back out and started along the
narrow stepping stones that connected the miniature dwellings.
"Murdock," Amy asked, with a sideways stare. "Why did you tell that man our name was Cartwright?"
"Coz. We're just like that family on Bonznza. I'm the older
brother, Adam. He was the intelligent one, ya know. Hannibal is our
leader so he can be Ben. Face is the good looking one of the team so he
can be Little Joe and BA, that big ugly, gentle giant, gets to be
Amy mulled that over for a moment then asked, "Okay, I'll buy that,
but the Cartwright's didn't have a sister. Why did you name me Angela?"
"That's easy. Remember Make Room for Daddy and Lost in Space?"
"Yeah, but. . ."
"Little dark haired girl, her name was. . ."
"Angela Cartwright," Amy finished for him. "That's very clever, Murdock. Strange, but clever."
Murdock put a friendly arm around Amy's shoulder and pulled her close. "Hey, little sister, wanna play some baseball?"
Amy wiggled out of his grasp and swatted playfully at his arm. "Don't you little sister me."
"Aw, come on. I never had a little sister."
"Well don't look at me."
"It might be fun," he grinned.
"No, no, Murdock," she said patronizingly. "Brothers and sisters can't do the things you like to do."
"That's true," he agreed quickly. "Forget the sister stuff."
They had reached the small cabin assigned to Amy and she inserted her key and opened the door. Murdock peeked inside.
"Nice, quiet, cozy, intimate." That twinkle was back in his eyes.
Before Amy could reply, the unmistakable sound of BA's van drifted
toward them. With a sigh, Murdock straightened and shoved his hands
back in his pockets. "Pa's home."
Little of Murdock and Amy's good humor was in evidence four hours
later as they sat with the rest of the team in Hannibal's tiny cabin.
The initial confrontation with Cramer hadn't gone well. He was much
better equipt than the team had been informed. The introduction to
Cramer's organization was an all out assault from a well armed and
expert army of gung ho types. During the fracas Murdock was hit. It was
sheer luck that the bullet only grazed his skull. It could just as
easily have killed him.
"All right, you all know the plan," Hannibal said, rising from the
chair. "We'll start first thing in the morning. Cramer thinks we're
staying at the Emeralds Arms in town so we should be safe enough here
for tonight but sleep easy, just in case."
The members of the A-Team all departed for their quarters. Hannibal
stopped Murdock at the door. "You okay, Captain?" His concern for the
pilot was clear in the blue eyes.
"Oh, sure, Colonel." Murdock struck a cowboy pose and continued in
a think Texas drawl. "Shucks, twern't nothin', Sheriff. Just a flesh
wound." He chewed up and spit out an imaginary wad of tobacco, then
tipped his cap and winked at Hannibal.
The colonel watched Murdock saunter out the door then turned to Face. "Maybe we should keep Murdock in the rear this trip."
Peck smiled and shook his head. "Stop worrying, Hannibal. Murdock
is fine. That wound isn't serious, believe me. Besides, it would take
more than a bullet to damage his brain."
Hannibal couldn't help but smile at the joke and nodded. "Yeah, you're probably right. Let's turn in."
Murdock and BA moved next door to the cabin just south of
Hannibal's. The pilot was shuffling his feet and pouting. "I was
supposed to sleep with Hannibal. I don't like sleeping with you."
"I don't like it either. You talk in your sleep, man," BA complained.
"I do? What do I say, Big Guy? Anything interesting?"
"Interesting? It's gibberish! Engineer talk, pilot lingo, I can't make no sense out of it."
Murdock looked disappointed. "Technical jargon, huh? Strange. I
never dream about that stuff. It's usually about dogs and birds and bad
guys, mostly." BA frowned at him. "Hey, maybe tonight I'll dream about
bullets and bandages, ya think?"
"Maybe that bullet cleared up your brain, fool," BA hoped. "Now you get in there and go to sleep."
Murdock gave his roommate a sour look but interred the small cabin
anyway. He continued to torment his friend with little monologues and
bits of useless trivial until the man was ready to throttle him. With a
mental chuckle, Murdock relented and settled down in the narrow twin
bed, one eye trained on the alarm clock on the nightstand. He wondered
what his irritable friend would think if he could see what Murdock
really dreamed about, and who. With a broad smile of amusement, he
relaxed and waited for the time to pass.
It was nearly one AM when Amy Allen stepped quietly from her small
cabin and walked out into the warm fragrant night air. She glanced at
her watch then began to walk slowly among the thick shrubs that
surrounded the pool. Her thoughts were troubled and she checked her
watch a second time, impatiently. Faintly, off in the distance she
thought she heard footsteps and looked toward the two cabins across the
"Taxi, lady?" a deep voice asked and she turned to find Murdock at
her shoulder. She smiled and raised her hand to touch the bandage on
his left temple. "Are you sure you're okay.? No side effects?"
"Not a one. Well," he amended. "I do seem to have a tremendous desire to be held and coddled," he grinned.
"You scared me," she said softly.
Murdock reached out and took hold of her hand, giving it a little squeeze. "Sorry, Babe. It wasn't intentional."
"I know," she replied and moved easily into his arms, resting her
head against his chest. They stood quietly, wrapped in a warm embrace,
enjoying the soft night air and each other.
It was Amy who broke the spell, gently pushing Murdock away. "We've got to talk," she said solemnly.
Murdock grinned and raised his eyebrows. "I'd rather play Post
Office or maybe, Spin the Bottle, or what about your favorite. . ."
"No, I'm serious, Murdock. We have to talk, please?"
Something in Amy's voice told him that this was no time to be either silly or romantic. "Okay, you want to go inside?"
Shaking her head, Amy gestured to the two wrought iron chairs
beside her. "This'll do. It'll be easier to think out here in the air."
Murdock peered at the reported intently, puzzled over the ominous tone in her voice. "Are you okay? You sound so serious."
"It is serious!"
"Okay," Murdock spread his arms and sat down. "Shoot."
"Oh God, don't SAY that!" she suddenly yelped.
Murdock was up out of his chair in an instant. "Amy, what is it? What did I say?"
Amy took a moment to compose herself then waved a hand in his
direction. "Nothing. Just sit down. I'm sorry. It's just," God she felt
like an idiot. It all seemed so simple before when she'd decided to
talk to Murdock about their relationship. But now, standing beside him,
she couldn't seem to find a good place to start. As a result, she was
making no sense at all and she could see he was growing more and more
concerned. Boy, wouldn't her friends love to see her now. The cool,
calm, I-can-do-anything-Amy Allen stammering and stumbling over a
conversation with a crazy man.
Murdock could see the conflicting emotions playing across her face
and he smiled up at her from the chair. "It's all right, Babe. I'll
wait until you're ready to talk. Just take your time."
His calm, patient attitude seemed to help channel her random
thoughts and she smiled back. "Murdock, I'm not sure this. . .
relationship of ours. . ."
"Affair," he corrected with a casual grin.
"Affair, then. I'm not sure it's working out."
"Are you unhappy?" Murdock asked quietly.
"Have I hurt you?"
"Have you found someone else?"
"No!" Murdock looked at her and she felt the awkwardness returning,
but was determined to have this out with him. "I just don't know if I
can take the pressure anymore, Murdock," she finally blurted out. She
looked at him, his face faintly illuminated by one of the yard lights
and found encouragement in his soft brown eyes. "It's not you. But this
situation we're in. I honestly wonder sometimes if we're both nuts."
Murdock grinned. "I am, for sure."
Amy moved to the chair and sat down beside him. "When we first started this..."
"Affair. It was exciting, fun, satisfying and everything was like
an adventure. I liked the secret meetings and the challenge of keeping
it from Hannibal and the others."
"And now?" he asked, softly.
"Now, things are different," Amy admitted somewhat irritably.
"Because, somewhere along the way I crossed over that fine line between just having an affair and having an AFFAIR!"
Murdock chuckled with delight. "I thought you were supposed to be
the wordsmith in this group. Listen to you. Your vocabulary is a bit
"Oh, I know, but I can't think of the right words now. That's how upset I am. I'm tied in knots over this, Murdock."
Murdock dropped his easy humor at the intensity of Amy's plea.
"Okay, Babe. Just take it easy. I promise not to interrupt anymore."
"Don't you see? I've started caring for you more than I wanted to. You've become very important to me."
"Is that bad?"
"Yes! God, yes it is bad. Murdock, I don't think I can go through
another mission where I see you nearly lose your life and not be able
to react to that the way I want. When you were shot today, my first
thought was to go to you and hold you and make sure you were all right.
But I couldn't because in the back of my mind was that damn wall, that
rule that won't allow us to show our true feelings in front of the
team." Amy looked at Murdock with tears in her eyes. "I don't want to
go through this again."
"We both agreed we should keep our personal relationship separate from our work with the team," Murdock reminded her, quietly.
"I know. It sounded easy enough in theory but in reality it's not.
It's not. And it's getting harder every case. Do you know how my
insides churn when the bullets start flying and I see you darting for
cover between them? I can hardly function for the fear."
"I try not to take unnecessary risks, Amy."
"We all try not to," she flared back. "But we're in a line of work where the chances are there like it or not."
"You knew the situation when you got involved with me."
"I know. But I never dreamed it would be so hard, Murdock. I never
realized how difficult it would be to be near you and not be able to
touch you or kiss you or turn to you for support. It's agony sometimes
to be beside you in the van and all I can do is touch you with my
eyes." Murdock had been silent throughout her little speech and she was
afraid she had hurt him. "Do you understand?"
"Of course I do. Completely. It's not any easier from this side,
you know. I hate some of the things you have to do as part of the team.
Dressing up like a hooker, luring slime like Collins up to your place,
allowing them to paw you and slobber over you. I see that and I want to
tear their heads off.
Watching you during a mission, worrying if you'll be safe, wishing
I could hold you, wishing it was Wednesday." A twinkle appeared in the
brown eyes, that could be seen even in the dim yard light.
Amy smiled and reached for his hand. "Wednesday's are the only
bright spot sometimes. Has Hannibal ever questioned you about why
you're always tied up on Wednesday's?"
"No," the pilot answered with a chuckle. "He thinks those are my days for therapy."
Now it was Amy's eyes that twinkled in the light. "Like I always say, if it's physical, it's therapy."
Murdock laughed and pulled her close, the twinkle now replaced with
affection and concern. "So, what do you want to do Amy? We both agree
this affair has some very real drawbacks, some solid points against it.
Do you want to call it off, end it here and now?"
Amy turned away not wanting to see the look on Murdock's face when she answered. "Perhaps it's best."
"It'll have to be your decision, Amy, because despite all the
strain and stress connected with out relationship I don't want it to
end. But, I won't try and talk you out of it if that's what you really
"I don't want it to end but I'm going crazy. I don't know what to
do. I can't function properly on the team if I'm consumed with worry
for you and that's dangerous for everyone. Do we have a right to
jeopardize three other lives just for our own selfish pleasures? I
mean, Hannibal expects us all to be alert and ready for anything. How
can we do that if we're worrying about each other all the time? If
something happened to one of the guys because I wasn't thinking clearly
or paying attention I'd never be able to live with myself. Never."
Murdock rose and came to stand behind her, his hands resting easily in his pockets. "Are you finished?"
She nodded, keeping her back to him.
Smiling he turned her around and lifted her chin with his hand.
"Now, listen to me. If anything happened to Face, what would you do?"
Amy's dark eyes were puzzled. "What does that have to do with. . ."
"I'd feel awful. I love him. He's a wonderful guy, a good friend. I'd grieve for him if. . ."
"Okay, what about Hannibal or BA?"
"The same. I'd feel lost, bereft if either of them died or. . ."
"Exactly. So what makes you think it would be any worse if it was me?"
"Murdock, I care for you in a different way, more intimate."
"Sure, sure, but don't you see? We are all linked by love. It's all
different kinds but that doesn't make the loss any easier. I love
Hannibal more than anyone I've ever known in my life. Face is like a
brother to me and BA," his smile flashed in the light. "Well, BA is my
favorite toy. I just adore that ugly mudsucker."
"Listen, if any of us were hurt or killed, the pain and loss would
affect everyone. it's not any easier for me to see Face or BA injured.
I worry about you on a mission but I worry about Hannibal and the
others too. I worry about me!
You can't separate those feelings. The only twist in our case is
that we're tied in a way the others aren't. Ending our affair, Amy,
won't end the worry. It'll still be there only then there won't be any
way to comfort each other after the fighting an chaos is over."
Amy stared up at him, a suspicious look on her face. "I thought you weren't going to talk me out of this?"
Murdock grinned happily. "I lied. You can't believe anything a crazy man tells you."
"You know, sometimes, you can be more persuasive than Face," she
said softly. "I was so determined and now I'm not sure at all."
"Maybe you need a little more convincing." Murdock drew her into his arms and bent down to capture her lips in a gentle kiss.
Amy's arms moved to encircle his neck, returning his kiss with an
invitation. When they drew apart she smiled at him. "I would miss
"So would I," he admitted.
"You're sure you're okay? Maybe you should get back to bed." The
sight of the white bandage on his tanned face brought back all the
Murdock's face contorted in pain. "Bed. Yes, I'd better get to bed.
My head hurts, my eyes hurt, my legs hurt, my hands hurt, my knees
hurt. . .I really need to find a bed."
Amy put her hand on his forehead, playing along with his silliness. "Are you feverish?"
"Oh yes. Very."
"Then I'd better help you back to your cabin."
"No. I don't think I can make it that far, yours is closer," he grinned wickedly.
Amy nodded. "Good idea."
Murdock wrapped his arms around her tightly and looked into her eyes. "I just need some TLC."
"Won't BA miss you if you don't come back to bed?"
"Not for an hour or so," he grinned.
Amy giggled and allowed Murdock to lead her to her cabin. They slipped quietly inside closing the door softly behind them.
Seated in a chair near the pool, on the other side of the sprawling
oleander bush, Hannibal Smith released a sigh of relief. He'd been
riveted to the chair ever since he heard Murdock first speak to Amy.
Not wanting to disturb them, he felt compelled to sit quietly. The
longer he listened to their conversation the more difficult it became
to keep silent. He couldn't believe how blind he'd been! Amy and
Murdock were having an affair right under his nose and he'd never
suspected, never had an inkling of what was happening between them. He
must be getting old. The thought depressed him considerably. Hannibal
had always prided himself on his perceptions of people, especially of
those who worked with him closely. The fact that he had totally missed
the signs between Amy and Murdock gave him cause to think.
He excused himself where Amy was concerned. After all, she'd only
been on the team six months, four of which, he now knew, she'd been
involved with Murdock. It was Murdock's involvement that rattled
Hannibal's mind. He knew the man better than anyone. He could tell at a
glance what Murdock was thinking, could tell from his voice what sort
of mood he was in and depending on how bizarre his latest gimmick, just
how lonely the pilot felt.
While in Vietnam and during the subsequent years, Hannibal could
always tell when Murdock was involved with a woman. He had a certain
glint in his eye. But this time Murdock had really pulled a fast one.
Hannibal hadn't seen any indication of the affair.
Reluctant as he was to admit it, Murdock and Amy had done a good
job of concealing their affections. Damn good. He smiled then, thinking
of the blow the knowledge would give to Face's pride. He saw himself as
the answer to every womans dream. To learn that the older and eccentric
pilot had scored right under his nose would bruise his self-esteem no
end. Hannibal sobered. Come to think of it, it wasn't doing his own any
good either. Shifting uneasily in the iron chair Hannibal tried to
organize his thoughts, mentally backtracking over the months to when
Amy first joined the team. He tried to recall any glances, bits of
conversation, any clue that he might have overlooked between Amy and
Murdock. He ticked off the list of cases searching. He'd realized from
the beginning that Amy liked Murdock. She found his unusual sense of
humor and flights of fantasy amusing and she often played along with
him, asking after his invisible dog, Billy, and listening to his
ramblings about the Ouija board. He knew she often visited the pilot at
the VA but then it wasn't that far from her apartment. Besides, she
usually volunteered to pick the man up for a case since. . .suddenly
the light began to dawn.
Even so, he couldn't find one solid clue that would have made him
or anyone else suspicious. Oh sure, Murdock and Amy often talked
together. They seemed to gravitate toward each other but Hannibal had
always chalked that up to the fact that Murdock was the easiest member
of the team to talk to. Face tended to be a bit chauvinistic where
women were concerned. BA never talked and himself, well, where Amy was
concerned, business was business.
He had to admit that Murdock and Amy had to be commended for their
circumspect behavior. They had managed to keep their affair and their
work separate. At least until now. Apparently, they had encountered a
few snags along the way.
Hannibal rose and started toward his cabin, glancing back at Amy's.
Tonight when he'd first learned of the affair his immediate reaction
was to tell them to stop. But now that he'd had a chance to get used to
the idea he thought differently. He knew better than anyone the
loneliness Murdock fought and if he and Amy had found a mutual solace
in one another then why should he interfere? They had proven they could
keep it a secret, had done a top notch job. If it became a problem for
the team and it started to intrude upon their work and deter their
cases, then he would take action. Until then, he'd ignore it and
pretend he never heard their exchange in the oleanders.
He stood in front of the cabin Murdock shared with BA now and on
impulse silently opened the door to make sure the sergeant was asleep
and hadn't missed the pilot.
The faint light from outside fell across the bed, rousing the large
man. "That you, fool? What you doing up?" BA mumbled sleepily.
Hannibal didn't hesitate. In a whisper he hoped resembled Murdock's
voice he replied, "Got a headache, Big Guy. Gonna get some aspirin. Go
back to sleep."
Satisfied with the ruse, BA rolled over and went back to sleep.
Hannibal Smith smiled then turned his steps toward his room. At the
door he stopped an checked his watch. A smile spreading slowly over his
handsome face, then reached into his pocket for a cigar. He'd just
discovered it was Wednesday.