by Lori Beatty
H.M. Murdock closed the cardboard box with the palm of his hand and
announced formally, "That was a pizza of rare vintage--the cheese aged
to point of perfection, the sausage just the right amount of tang. A
culinary delight worthy of the most fastidious of connoisseurs." A
mischievous gleam appeared in his brown eyes as he added, "Laverne and
Shirley would have loved it." He smiled at the pretty young woman who
had come to visit him and was seated beside him now a the picnic table.
Dr. Kelly Stevens giggled. "It was good, wasn't it? I haven't had one in years."
"What? Don't they have pizza joints up there in Bedford Falls?"
"Sure, but I just never think of ordering one." She lowered her eyes
and absently drew little circles on the top of the table. "Actually, I
never cared for pizza that much."
Murdock dropped his chin into his hand and stared at her. "Then if you don't like it why did you bring one here today?"
Kelly shrugged and blushed slightly. "You said you really like pizza."
"You remembered tat?" he asked, surprised that his offhand comment had made such an impression.
"Uh-huh. I remember everything about that day, and about you."
Her honesty hit a nerve and Murdock quickly retreated. "Are you
thirsty? I'm thirsty. Let's go get a coke." He rose and picked up the
empty pizza carton, tossing it into a nearby bin.
"Can we get a soda here?" Kelly asked as she hurried to catch up with the long-legged pilot.
"Oh, yeah. We have all these machines in the basement, filled with junk
food. You know, gum, candy, popcorn, chips, stuff like that. Course,
you have to be a certain class of patient to use the machines."
"Class? What sort of class?"
Murdock turned and grinned slyly. "Non-violent." He pushed open the
door to the small canteen and strode toward the drink machine. Pulling
out a handful of quarters, he inserted two into the slot.
As the aluminum cans rolled and clattered out into the tray, Kelly felt
her spirits take a nose dive. Murdock's excuse for not calling had been
the lack of change, yet now he had a pocket full of it.
"There we go," Murdock said, handing her the opened cola. "What would you like to do now?"
Kelly turned away and shrugged, not wanting to reveal her feelings on
the matter. She knew her face was worse than a mirror when it came to
showing her emotions.
"We have a bowling alley. Do you bowl? Or maybe a movie. I think we've got James Bond this week."
"Could we just go someplace and talk?" she finally asked.
There was a slight hesitation before he answered. "Sure. Uh, we can go
to the south side of the grounds or we could go back to my room."
Now it was Kelly's turn to hesitate. "Is your room, uh, that is, do you
have--" She took a deep breath and blurted out, "Do you share your room
"No, not usually. Sometimes Farrah drops by, and now and again Raquel.
Then once a month George and Steven come for a weekend and we talk
shop. Right now we're working on the script for the next Indian Jones
movie, only I think I've convinced them to call it Pasadena Murdock
Kelly couldn't help but grin, but she hoped Murdock would forego the
silly dialogue today and talk seriously. There were a great many things
she wanted to know about him.
Murdock must have sensed her mood, for he took her hand and led her
back outside and away from the hospital. He walked purposefully, as if
he knew exactly where he wanted to go. He finally stopped under a
gnarled oak tree and gestured to the grass beneath it. "Sorry I don't
have a blanket."
"That's okay," she replied as she sank to her knees on the thick green carpet. "Is this a favorite spot of yours?"
"It's quiet. No one comes here much. There aren't any benches and most
people don't like to sit on the ground. It doesn't bother me. I kinda
like it." He sat on the grass and leaned his back against the trunk of
the old tree.
"I thought you were going to tell me why you're here."
Murdock sighed and closed his eyes. "Kelly, it's not a story you'd like to hear."
"Yes, I would. I want to hear everything that's ever happened to you."
A smile touched Murdock's brown eyes. "That would take over forty years, and you'd be old and gray by then."
"Be serious," she chided gently. Murdock didn't reply. "Why don't you
want to tell me? I promise I won't tell anyone else. I don't even know
anyone to tell"
"It's not that, Kelly. It's, well. . ." He looked away from her. "I wish you hadn't come here."
Tears stung her eyes, but she refused to allow them to fall. "You said I could come visit you."
The hurt in her voice was all too apparent, and Murdock felt like a
heartless monster who had just injured a young fawn. He turned her hand
and squeezed it. "I just don't like you seeing me in this place, that's
all," he admitted honestly.
"But you don't belong here. You're not crazy."
"Well, I was crazy once, in Nam."
"A lot of things I'd rather not talk about."
"Is that why you're here?"
"No, uh, that's another story." He stopped and looked at Kelly and saw
that she was waiting patiently for him to continue. "Are you sure you
want to hear this?"
There was no hesitation in her voice when she answered firmly, "Yes."
Murdock took a moment to collect his thoughts. He was reluctant to
discuss the subject, yet he couldn't deny his desire to be truthful
with the young woman. He didn't like holding out on her. "Hannibal and
the guys were ordered to take out an enemy position deep into North
Vietnam. Only it turned out to be the Bank of Hanoi and the governments
on both sides were screaming bloody hell about it. The team wasn't
guilty, but they couldn't prove it because during one of the last
shellings their commanding officer was killed and headquarters burnedff
to do the mission but then I returned to the base and was immediately
sent out on a combat mission over Cambodia. When I got back, the guys
had been arrested and thrown into the stockade. I had orders waiting to
report back to the States for reassignment. When I signed in at
Lackland, there was a warrant waiting for me as an accomplice to the
crime. I was taken to Fort Bragg for the trial and had a chance to talk
to Hannibal. We decided it would be best if I stayed out of it so I
could work on the outside to free them if they were convicted. The Army
and Air Force both tried to get me to testify against the guys in
return for amnesty, but I couldn't do that.
"What happened? How did you get out of it?"
"That was Hannibal's idea. He thought it might be nice if I suddenly
developed a severe emotional disorder. So I slowly began to suffer
various symptoms and convinced the doctors that I was unfit to testify.
When Hannibal and the others were convicted, I arranged things so that
they could escape. All I had to do was take the blame for helping them
escape and then have a total breakdown. The psychiatrists bought it and
shipped me off to the VA here in Los Angeles for the rest of my natural
"What happened then?"
"After a time, the team contacted me and the rest," he spread his arms wide, "as they say, is history."
"You've never been insane? Then why can't you leave here now? Surely enough time has passed that you could 'recover'."
"Ah, well, there's the rub. You see, I'm here on a technicality. As
long as I'm certifiable, I can't be tried for busting the guys out. But
if I am rehabilitated and declared competent, then I'm fair game. I'd
be taken in front of a military court-martial board and hauled off to
Leavenworth for the next twenty years." He pointed his finger, forming
a gun, and clicked his tongue. "Catch 22."
Kelly had listened intently to the explanation and then smiled at the
pilot. "I knew you weren't crazy, not really. I'm glad you told me."
"It doesn't change anything."
"Not a thing. I still missed you."
Murdock looked at the woman in bewilderment. "Kelly, I can't figure
you. Here I am, a permanent resident of the Funny Farm, a criminal, and
you don't seem the least bit concerned. Are you always so trusting? I
mean, you find a stranger in your van, take him in like some stray dog
and then show up on his doorstep offering. . .friendship."
"What's so incredible about that? I like you. I like you from the first. You're a very nice man."
"Nice? I nearly got you killed! If it hadn't been for Hannibal and the
guys, those rednecks might have. . ." He stopped suddenly, the lump in
his throat nearly choking him. He didn't even want to think about the
Kelly's laughter floated across the air. "But you saved me. Like the legendary White Knight."
"Ah, ha! That's it," Murdock declared, wagging his finger at her. "This is merely a severe case of hero worship."
"No, it isn't," Kelly denied with a giggle. "I really like you. I
wanted to see you again. I don't care where you are or why." She
lowered her head and added, "I thought you wanted to see me again too."
Murdock suddenly got to his feet and pulled Kelly up beside him. "I did. I'm really glad you're here. I lied."
"About the change?" she guessed.
He nodded. "I just didn't want to see you get mixed up with a misfit like me."
Kelly's smile was blinding. "Then you're really not angry that I came?"
His answer was to take her face in his hands and kiss her long and
hard. She felt herself being propelled back to the last time she'd seen
him and his hurried but intense parting kiss that had left her
breathless, bewildered and in love. This time, though, when she opened
her eyes, he wasn't disappearing into the black van. He was still here,
holding her and smiling into her eyes.
"That's enough talking for today. We're not going to waste this visit
worrying about things we can't change. Come on. Let's go to my room.
I've got a new video game. It's called Flight Simulator. You'll love
it." He took her hand again and started back toward the sprawling
"Uh, H.M., I've never played a video game before."
The Captain stopped dead in his tracks. "What! Man, I gotta take you in
charge, child, and show you the world." He shook his head. "Pretty girl
like you shouldn't be locked away like some nun in a convent. You
should be out seeing the wonders of the world. Enjoying life to the
fullest." Still shaking his head and muttering, he started into the
hospital with Kelly in tow.
"That's one of the things I liked about you," she said as she bounced along behind him. "You're so worldly."
"Me? Worldly? Naw. Faceman's the worldly one on the team. I'm just crazy."
"Faceman?" Kelly asked. "Which one was he?"
"You know, the blond, good-looking one. Good teeth, dimples."
Kelly shook her head. "I don't remember him. All I remember is seeing you there."
"Oh boy, oh boy," Murdock lamented. "I'd better not tell Face what you said. It would totally destroy his self image."
They had reached Murdock's room and he opened the door. Before he
stepped aside, he looked hesitatingly at Kelly. "Uh, it won't bother
you to, uh. . .I mean, your reputation won't be harmed if you're in
here alone, with me, I mean, will it."
"Good heavens, no. I'm a big girl. I've been around." Kelly pranced
into the room unaware of the look on H.M.'s face. He doubted if Kelly
had 'been around' much, but he was too much the gentleman to say so. He
also had very personal reasons for wanting privacy..
Kelly stopped in the middle of the room, entranced by the varied
assortment of posters, signs, pennants and photographs that decorated
the walls. With a smile, she turned and looked at Murdock. "Colorful."
"It does have a certain picturesque charm that I feel reflects an
honest overview of my many varied interests and accomplishments."
Looking askance at him, she walked over to a poster of what looked like some rock group. "Who's this?"
"Oh, man," Murdock yelped. "That's Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
'Member, I told you about them. Here, let me put on the record and you
can see for yourself. They really do have a good beat." He moved to the
elaborate stereo system in the corner and placed the disk on the
The rhythmic, pulsating beat filled the room and Murdock, snapping his
fingers and humming, moved back to Kelly. He grabbed her hand and drew
her into an impromptu dance that was part jitterbug and part rock and
roll. She faltered at first but then caught on quickly. They twirled
and hopped until the music ended and both dropped onto the bed
laughing. Kelly leaned over and kissed Murdock's cheek. "You make me
The smile on his face faded, his brown eyes turning serious. "No one's very told me that before."
"Really? But you're so alive, so energetic. You enjoy everything more
than anyone I've ever known. You can throw yourself into things
totally. I wish I could do that."
"You can," Murdock said confidently.
"No, I couldn't I'd never be able to act crazy. I'd be too embarrassed."
"Sure you could. It's easy. It just takes a little practice. You got to
learn to let go, to throw off you inhibitions and submerge yourself in
the thrill of the moment." Murdock's Texas accent had thickened as it
was wont to do when he commenced upon a soliloquy.
"I don't know if I could. Have you always been like this? Carefree and unrestrained?"
Murdock flinched. Kelly seemed to have an uncanny knack of touching
upon the real H.M. It had been a long time since anyone had made him
look beyond what he was today to what he had been before the war. B.A.,
Face, they accepted him and his unusual behavior. It had become his
'norm.' Hannibal, well, he was another story. The Colonel knew him
well, better than perhaps he did himself. Their bond, their total
understanding of one another had come about through circumstances and
even more shared pain. Yet here was this naove, sweet woman putting her
finger on the core of his personality with an astonishing swiftness.
"No. I used to be very well behaved. But people change, and so did I."
"What made you change?"
"A lot of things. I guess my brother dying was what started the change.
He was one of the first casualties of Nam. I'd always wanted to fly,
and as soon as I could I started working for an appointment to the Air
"Did you make it?"
"Yeah. But my Dad was some kind of ticked over it. He'd already lost one son. He didn't fancy losing another."
"He must have been against the Academy then. How did you get in?"
"There was a family friend. He had the power to appoint a few boys and
I sort of twisted his arm. My Dad never forgave him either." Before
Kelly could ask any further questions, Murdock hopped off the bed and
turned on the TV. "I promised you a lesson in video games. Come on.
This'll loosen you up."
"Oh, I don't know, H.M. I've never been very good at electronics."
"Electronics! No, Babe, this is FUN! Come here. You sit right on the
bed like this. Here, this is your joystick." He handed her the small
black box with the handle on top. "We'll start with something simple.
"I beg your pardon?"
"That's the name of this game. We get to be cowboys and have a shootout
at high noon." He pushed in the cartridge, flipped the switch, and
picked up the other control. "Okay, now you move your cowboy, the one
on the left, by moving the joystick in the direction you want him to
go. Try it."
Kelly gingerly pushed the stick forward and saw her cowboy move accordingly. "Oh, I see. That's easy."
"Sure it is. Now, if you push that button there, yeah, that one, you'll fire your gun."
Her finger pressed the red knob and she heard the electronic 'bang' as
the computer cowboy fired his six-shooter. "Oh! How cute!"
"Cute? Cute!" Murdock barked in mock indignation. "My dear woman, that
is a deadly weapon. It is not cute. Now, I'm the Sheriff here, and
you'd better high-tail it out of town or I'll have to throw you in the
Kelly caught on quickly to his game. "You'll never put the California
Kid in jail, Sheriff. I'm the fastest draw this side of the Rockies."
The video shootout went on for some time with Kelly winning most of the
battles. Murdock could have easily "outgunned" her, but it was too much
fun watching her master the new skill. Her eyes sparkled and her face
glowed as she played, and Murdock felt himself growing more and more
attached to the pretty veterinarian. He was about to tell her of his
discovery when a knock sounded upon the door and an orderly peeked his
head in. "Sorry to interrupt, Murdock, but they're about to serve
supper. Would your guest like to join you?"
"Do you have to be getting back?"
"No. I've got plenty of time."
"Good. What are we having, Fred?"
"Well, it's not as good as the roast beef, but it's a whole lot better
than the shi. . .uh, the creamed chipped beef on toast that we
sometimes get. Okay, Fred, scare up another meal."
"Sure thing. It's been a long time since you had a lady friend
visiting." The words were no sooner out of his mouth when Fred realized
his mistake. He sent a silent apology to Murdock with his eyes and
hastily left the room.
The Captain hoped fervently that Kelly hadn't heard the offhand
comment, but such was not the case. Kelly was trying to look
unconcerned by the remark, but it was a futile attempt. He could see
the question burning in her mind. "Are you hungry?" he asked.
"Uh, huh," she muttered, picking up one of the many magazines lying
around. Flipping through the pages, she realized it was a periodical
for professional pilots and she didn't understand anything in it. "Do
you entertain often?" she asked, hoping her voice sounded light and
"Naw," Murdock replied quickly. "The only woman who ever came here was
Amy. And that was usually to bail me out for some case." Crossing his
fingers, he prayed that Kelly wouldn't pick up on the word "usually."
He didn't want to be put in the position of explaining his relationship
with Amy Allen right now.
"She was a reporter who used to work with the team. She went overseas about a year ago."
"Oh." The relief at Murdock's simple explanation left Kelly feeling
giddy. She smiled, reaching out and touching his hand. "I'm glad I came
today. It's been wonderful."
A rush of affection filled him as he looked at this fresh-faced woman
in front of him. "I am too. You know," he said, placing his hand on the
side of her face, "you're different."
Kelly frowned and lowered her head. "I know. That's what everyone has
told me for as long as I can remember. No matter what I did, I never
quite fit in anywhere." She shrugged and smiled slightly as if resigned
to her fate.
"You fit in just perfectly here," he said softly. Pulling her close, he
kissed her gently, feeling her quiver under his hands. When he raised
his head, he looked into her shining blue eyes and felt as if they
encompassed his entire world for one brief second.
Kelly placed the palms of her hands on his chest. "Murdock, I. . ."
The rest of her sentence was never spoken for Fred knocked on the door
at that moment and entered with the food trays. He chatted cheerfully
with the two occupants while he arranged the table, finally adorning it
with a small vase of flowers. "There ya go. Enjoy. And Murdock," he
said as he reached for the door, "you behave yourself."
The first half of the meal was eaten in silence before them: where do we go from here?
Kelly pushed the food around on her plate wishing she could gather her
courage as easily as she gathered the little peas on her plate into a
pile. "Murdock, can you get away from here now and again? I mean, on
your own, without someone checking you out? I thought maybe next time.
. ." She glanced up at him, and her heart sank. His expression said
clearly that there probably wouldn't be a next time.
It took Murdock a long time to answer. His mind kept forming sentences
and then quickly discarding them. He couldn't seem to find the right
words to express his feelings. His brain wanted to chase this woman
away, send her back to her safe little world, her animals, her ordinary
life in Bedford Falls. But his heart was protesting vigorously. He
wanted to see her again, to get to know her better, to make some sort
of commitment. "Kelly, it's not a good idea for you to come here
again," he finally managed to respond.
"Why? Is there a rule about visitors?"
Murdock shook his head. "But it's not safe for you to get too close to me."
Kelly smiled. "That's silly. You wouldn't hurt anyone."
The pilot felt a sudden jolt of anger at her innocent, trusting nature
and bolted to his feet. "You don't know that. I have hurt people. Darn
it, Kelly, I almost hurt you. You'd known me all of six hours, rescued
me off the street like some angel of mercy and what happens? You're
taken hostage by three hoodlums."
"That wasn't your fault."
Totally baffled by her continued loyalty and persistence, Murdock
stared at her. "Don't you understand? I'm a mercenary. Oh, we've
tiptoed around the term all day, but that's what it boils down to. I
take money for cleaning up the scum of the world. I didn't tell you the
whole story that day, Kelly. I'm a member of the A-Team."
Kelly's unreadable look sent Murdock off again. "Don't you know about us? Didn't you hear those bounty hunters call us that?"
"Yes, but it didn't mean anything to me then."
"I did some research after you left, and I found out who you are and
what you're supposed to have done. I also found out that you're not the
bad guys you're trying to say you are."
Sighing heavily, Murdock frowned. "You're the most stubborn woman I've ever seen in my life."
The honesty in her large blue eyes melted his anger. He moved back to
her side and drew her to her feet. "Why can't you understand that nice
girls like you don't get mixed up with guys like me. What would your
Blue eyes suddenly flashed with anger of their own. "I don't care what
my family thinks. I like you. I want to see you again. Now if you don't
want to see me, then just say so and stop trying to scare me with tales
of how awful you are. I know better."
"How do you know?" he asked softly.
Kelly shrugged, the anger in her eyes softening to a warm glow. "I
can't explain it. It's a feeling I had from the first moment I saw you.
Even Homer agreed." Blushing slightly, she added, "I've never been
attracted to a man the way I am to you."
"You have lousy taste."
"Don't say that! I can't help the way I feel."
Murdock felt all his good intentions evaporating. "Neither can I." The
smile she gave him blinded him to everything else and he pulled her
into a warm embrace. Neither one spoke. They just clung together
enjoying the warmth of each other's arms. "You'd better go. It's
getting late," he finally said.
Kelly nodded. "I've got a busy day tomorrow."
Smoothing back a few stray curls that clung gently to her cheek,
Murdock smiled and said, "Call me when you get home. It's a long ride
and I'll worry." She nodded. "And see if you can keep next weekend
free. I feel an urge to visit the country coming on."
Kelly left the VA hospital glowing with happiness and Murdock's parting
kiss on her lips. She knew she was falling in love with him. Despite
her growing infatuation with the tall pilot, she knew he was right on
one count: her family would not understand her relationship with a
member of the infamous A-Team. Her sister had always told her she was
weird and, well, maybe Linda would be proven right after all. Falling
in love with a madman cum fugitive wasn't exactly acceptable behavior
in Bedford Falls. Perhaps Murdock's condition was contagious. It didn't
matter. None of it. Not what her family said, or what the papers said,
or even what Murdock said. For once in her life she was going to do
precisely what she wanted. She would take her life into her own hands
and run with it, and if anyone raised an eyebrow next weekend when she
entertained Murdock alone in her home, well, they'd just have to get
used to it. She fully intended to.
Climbing into her van, she started the engine and pulled out of the
parking lot, giving one last longing look in the direction of Murdock's
room. It was going to be a long week. A very long week.
Captain H.M. Murdock closed the door behind Kelly and leaned against
it. "H.M., old boy, you really are crazy now. I think it's time for
some intense therapy." Walking to the bed, he dropped onto it and
stretched out. He had to be insane to think for one minute that he
could have any sort of relationship with Kelly. In his position, he
couldn't afford to get attached to a woman, especially a sweet one like
her. It wasn't safe for either of them. It wasn't wise, it wasn't
smart, reasonable, sane, logical, intelligent. . . He ran out of
adjectives when he suddenly remembered the smell of her hair, the feel
of her softness against him, the look in her blue eyes, the sound of
her voice when she said his name. "You can't afford to fall in love,
Murdock," he told himself aloud. "But I think it's already too late."