by Karen (Nightcrawler) Manetta-Nighthawk Commando
Murdock looked down at the small jewelry box
in his hand proudly, anxiously anticipating Mary
Beth's reaction when he gave it to her. The beautiful
pear shaped diamond ring had set him back plenty,
but it was worth it. This afternoon he had shown it
to Face, and told him of his plans to propose to Mary
Beth tomorrow night. To be perfectly honest, Face's
reaction had puzzled him. Instead of being overjoyed,
he'd been less than enthusiastic, almost implying Mary
Beth would not consider marriage. Now, instead of
having to wait till tomorrow, fate had intervened.
He had been scheduled to fly down to Columbia and pick
up the colonel tonight, but the mission had been scrubbed.
The colonel, working alone on another one of Stockwell's
crazy assignments, was extracted earlier than planned,
using a back up plan and a different emergency pilot.
Murdock found himself whistling a happy tune as he walked
up to Mary Beth's apartment building. For the first time in a
long, long time, he felt normal. The thought of marriage, wow!
*What would the guys on the ward say if they knew? What
would Dr. Richter say?* He laughed to himself, and knew they
would all be pleased.
As he neared her apartment, he fished out his own personal key
Mary Beth had given him. He hadn't called her ahead of time,
because he wanted to surprise her. He glanced at his watch,
and read the red numbers 10:15 p.m., late, but not that late. The
light was on in the living room, so he headed there. He saw two
champagne glasses on the cocktail table, and wondered what she
had celebrated and with whom. Then he heard the sounds. He
knew what they were, but instinctively his brain refused to identify
them. He walked carefully down the hall to the bedroom where he
could see the door was slightly ajar. Something kept telling him
turn around and go, forget it, you're not supposed to be here, but
something else drove him on, and he pushed the door open.
He looked at the couple in the bed, uncomprehending. The keys fell
from his hand; he never noticed. Waves of pain were washing over
him, and growing like a series of tidal waves. The two never noticed
him, too busy with each other. He closed his eyes, trying to block
out the awful scene, he wanted to scream, but no sound came out.
He grabbed the dresser, to support himself and saw the gun for the first
time. He picked it up in disbelief, and stared again at the two people
bed. Slowly he started shaking his head back and forth, and started
muttering no, no, no... He backed away from the room, still holding the
gun. Suddenly, the room was filled with an acrid odor. He sniffed
tentatively; he knew that smell. It was what his slick smelled like,
blood and death. The only thing that might help was ammonia.
A loud shrill piercing sound interrupted his thoughts as he abruptly
recognized the unmistakable sound of incoming rockets.
He screamed INCOMING and dove under the table. He could
hear the explosions going off all around him and the comforting
sound of chopper blades as the slicks took off. He was just
about ready to leave for his slick, when he heard someone
yell his name. He turned, and saw the enemy, and quickly
squeezed off two shots and ran, never looking back.
Face stared in horror, when he heard Murdock yell incoming.
He leaped from the bed and saw him crouched under the table.
He grabbed his clothes in one hand, and ran to the open
doorway and called him. Murdock, who by then was on his
way out, holding Face's gun, turned at the sound of his name.
On seeing Face he never hesitated, he fired two shots. Face hit
the deck, tears in his eyes, pain in his heart, blood running
down his arm.
Murdock ran, dodging jeeps, listening to the artillery in the
background, watching rockets and mortars exploding all
around him. Fear overwhelmed him, he needed to find his
slick. He ran across the open airfield, but his slick was nowhere
to be found. Exhausted from running, and terrified at losing
his slick, he dove into some dense jungle, just outside command
headquarters. He decided to lay low there till the fighting abated.
After all, he only had the one weapon, and that was just a sidearm,
with no extra clip. Slowly, his breathing evened, and the fear
subsided. He closed his eyes wearily and hours later fell asleep.
"B.A . - Don't ask any questions, I need you - Now! I'm at the
Watergate Apts. in D.C. We need wheels, B.A., and keep an eye
out for Murdock. If you see him, forget about me. He's having a
flashback, and he's armed and he's dangerous, so be careful.
Oh, and B.A., bring a first aid kit."
"What?" B.A. demanded
"Hurry B.A.! We don't have a minute to lose."
B.A. hung up, shaking his head. Something was really not right.
Face didn't make no sense. The colonel wasn't back yet, but you
could be sure that Stockwell heard every word Face said. Damn
Face, he must be really spooked to act so stupid. Probably be
waiting for us when I get there.
B.A. wasn't wrong. No sooner did he pull up in Able 9's Chrysler
sedan, than Stockwell's limo snaked up alongside him. Face
looked like he saw a ghost. Stockwell beckoned both men to
enter. Both did, although reluctantly.
Stockwell smiled condescendingly and asked Face "How is
Face didn't answer.
"How dangerous is he?" Stockwell asked.
"I don't know."
"Why did he shoot you?"
"I don't know. I think he thought I was the enemy. He's having a
flashback, a bad one."
"How is your arm?"
"Would it interest you to know that Mary Beth's apartment is
wired? That I know everything that happened?"
"It wasn't my fault!" Face yelled. "I was trying to help him. I
never meant to take her to bed, I tried everything. I didn't want
to do it. He wasn't supposed to be there. He was supposed
to be half way to South America. Oh God, what a mess." and
Face just buried his head in his hands.
B.A. looked from Face to Stockwell, and shook his head.
"Hannibal sure ain't gonna like this" he thought
'Stockwell looked from Face to B.A., and back to Face. "Do
either of you have any idea where he might go? Has this ever
B.A .just grunted. "It happened before, but it was a long time ago
and crazy man didn't run, he just hid under a table like he was
scared, which was stupid, cos crazy fool ain't ever been scared."
Face looked up, "That's not true. I think Murdock was always a
lot more scared than he let on. If he thought he was back in Nam,
under attack, he'd try to get to his slick. If he couldn't get to it,
and he thought the base was overrun, he'd hide, probably close
to an airfield. But there's no way of telling what he thinks an
airfield looks like. He saw a rocket attack back there in the
apartment. I don't know, I just don't know."
"What are the chances of him hurting a civilian?" Stockwell
Face touched his arm and looked down at the bloody fingertips.
"I don't know, I can't hardly believe he did this."
Murdock awoke to find a dog licking his face. His head felt thick
and heavy, and he had a giant sized headache. He felt cold, wet
and he needed to take a leak bad. He opened his eyes and looked
around, mystified. He could see a dogs snout sniffing briefly, than
disappearing. Where the fuck was he? Bushes and vines
were all he could see as he moved, his back hurt and he
groaned with the pain. Something wasn't right. It had been a
long time since he had suffered memory loss like this. He
wondered what could have caused it. He got up slowly and
crawled out of the dense shrubbery to find himself at the foot
of the Lincoln Monument. What was he doing there? He
walked out of the mall a few blocks till he hit a small diner,
where he used the men's room, and grabbed some coffee and
aspirin. God his head hurt. He swallowed the aspirin and tried
to think what he had been doing last. He picked up the coffee
and took a sip, and slowly remembered. He'd been going to
Mary Beth's, of course. No sooner did he remember that, then
he remembered seeing Face. The coffee fell from his hand, as his
hands started to tremble. He quickly put a buck on the counter
and hurried out the door. He tried so hard not to see the what his
mind kept flashing through his brain, but it was impossible. Face
on top of Mary Beth, thrusting into her body, over and over and over
again, until she finally screamed in climax as he reached his with a
yell of satisfaction.
Staggering down the sidewalk, he grabbed hold of a building and
held on. He closed his eyes and kept saying no more, no more,
but still the images continued, from when he walked in and first
saw them, till when they climaxed. He saw it all, over and over
again. Needing to be alone in his pain, he made his way into an
alley, where he grabbed hold of a dumpster before he finally
crumpled into a heap. He laid there wondering what his brain was
trying to tell him. He didn't understand. What had happened ?
He buried his face in his hands, and slowly a thought made its way
into his mind. He tried to ignore the nasty little thought, but
couldn't. At last he acknowledged it and sniffed his hands. His
heart raced as he smell the familiar odor of cordite. Cordite. The
scent left when someone fired a gun. He couldn't have fired a gun
though. As day turned to night, he laid in the dark alley, curled up
in a ball, trying not to smell cordite, trying not to feel anything.
The second morning dawned. He stood at the mouth of the alley,
trying to get his bearings, and casually ran a finger along his
bottom lip when he smelled the cordite again. Frightened now,
he sniffed both his palms, and there was no question in his mind
he had fired a gun; too many questions, and not enough answers,
at least not answers that he liked. Too many questions, and
every one with an ugly answer. Oh God, I wish I was home.
He saw a pay phone by an abandoned gas station, and decided
to use it. Murdock hesitated briefly before the pay phone, then
deposited the coins and called the beeper number Dr. Richter
had given him before he left. He knew it was late in L.A., but he
didn't care. He entered the number of the pay phone and waited.
Shortly after he hung up, the phone rang, and Murdock picked it
up on the first ring. "Doc?"He asked.
"Murdock? What's wrong?" Dr. Richter asked concern evident in
"I want to come home. I want to home now, right now, today.
Please, you said if it didn't work out, I could always come home.
I've got to come home, Doc. Please, I don't wanna stay here
anymore, I wanna come home, Doc, Now! Please, you got to
help me Doc. Please, please help me."
"Murdock, you've got to calm down. What happened?"
"I don't know."
"Murdock - what's wrong?"
"I, ...I, uh, I, uh, uh,"
"Captain, What happened?! Report!" still the Captain didn't respond.
"Murdock!" Dr. Richter said in an even sterner voice "Report, Captain.
That's an order. What happened?"
"Uh, I'm not sure sir. I think I had a flashback, and...." Murdock's
voice faded away.
"And what Captain?"
"I think I may have shot somebody. My hands smell like cordite."
"Do you have a weapon?"
'How could I have a weapon? I don't carry a gun."
"Murdock , check to see if you're carrying a weapon."
"No. I just want to come home. Why can't you fix that, Doc?"
"Where are you?"
"Can I come home?"
"Murdock- Where are you? Are you armed?" asked Richter
Murdock hesitated, suddenly unsure about trusting Richter,
after all, what difference did it make where he was. "I'm not in
L.A." he answered and then slowly hung up. He was all
alone now. He felt cut off from the rest of the world. Fear
was creeping up inside, he tried to think, but hundreds of
thought were flying through his brain at the speed of light,
making it impossible to understand anything. He leaned
against the pay phone and tried to get a grip on himself,
tried just listening to his breathing, * if only all those thoughts
would slow down he thought.*
He started banging his head into the metal walls around the
pay phone, angry with himself. The phone started to ring
and he ignored it and ignored everything but the welcome
pain that came when he banged his head. He must have
zoned out for a while, because when he became aware of
things again, blood was dripping down his face, and the
damn phone was still ringing. He picked it up.
"Murdock? Murdock! Damn it Murdock, answer me!"
demanded a surprisingly upset Dr.Richter.
"Yeah, Doc. I'm here."
"I don't know. I couldn't think. Everything's happening
too fast. I couldn't think"
"Where are your friends Murdock?"
"I got no friends, Doc. No friends, just a lot of bogies
waiting to shoot me down. You aint a bogie are you Doc?"
"You know better than to ask that Murdock. What about your
friend Face? Where is he?"
Murdock felt like he was in an elevator that was plummeting
down a shaft without stopping. Unbidden, the scene he had
witnessed in his bedroom swam before him, a cry of pain
sprang from his lips as he fell to his knees, dropping the
phone, and clutching himself he started to rock. He
squeezed his eyes shut as tight as possible, never wanting
to see those awful images again. As he rocked, he became
aware of another, different pain in his lower back, he reached
back and came up with a gun. Not just any gun. Face's gun.
Again, unbidden, an image formed in his mind, looking down
the site of Face's gun, and seeing his friends face, and firing
two quick shots.
"Oh God" he moaned, sure now that he had shot Face, and
reasonably certain he was dead.
A scream of pain came from deep inside him as he continued
to hold himself and rock back and forth. Time passed. For Dr.
Richter on the other end of the phone, it passed very slowly.
Murdock became aware of things again gradually. He saw the
telephone receiver dangling in front of him, and picked it up.
"hello" he asked in a dull voice.
"Murdock! Thank God!" he heard the relief in Dr. Richter's voice.
It meant nothing to him anymore. Emotionally, Murdock felt dead.
He had killed his friend. He would have to pay a price. That's
how the world worked. "Sorry, Doc. It's too late. I can't come
Fear licked at The psychiatrists insides," Sure you can, Murdock.
Let me meet with you. Where are you?"
"Sorry, Doc. I really am."
"Murdock, No! Don't hang up! " but it was too late.
Murdock opened up the chamber and saw two bullets had been fired.
He smelled the barrel briefly, and knew it had been fired in the last
24 hours. It wasn't some sort of bad dream, it was true. Maybe he
should turn himself in to the authorities. Somehow, Murdock wasn't
sure. Hannibal loved Face so much, like the son he never had. He
must be so angry. Poor Hannibal. He must hate me so much. He
probably wants to lead the firing squad himself. It would leave a scar
if he did, maybe better if Murdock executed himself. Yeah, that was
a much better idea. No one else would suffer than.
Face was exhausted. He hadn't slept since it happened. The guilt
he was carrying around with him was really wearing him down,
not to mention the way B.A. . and Hannibal were treating him.
Hannibal. That was a meeting he could have done without. Face
thought as his tongue touched the cut inside his mouth where
Hannibal had greeted him with his fist. Face sat in the backseat
with a glum look on his face. He's given up even trying to explain
and yet he knew he had to find a way to make Murdock understand,
it wasn't what he thought. It wasn't just a lark, or a quick romp in
the hay. Damn it, where was he ? Face knew if something bad
happened to Murdock, he'd never be able to forgive himself.
Hannibal looked in the rearview mirror, and saw the woebegone
expression on the lieutenants face. "A little late for regrets, Face."
he said in a sarcastic tone.
"That's it. Let me out. I don't need this crap!" Face retorted.
B.A. obligingly pulled over to the side of the road, and Face let
out, then watched in disgust and humiliation as B.A . pulled away
burning rubber, as if anxious to put as much space as possible
between him and Face.
Face looked around to see where he was, and noticed it
was not far from a church. Deeply ingrained religious upbringing
drove there. As he entered, and dipped his hands in the holy
water, he felt himself overcome with awe by the silence, and
vastness of the church, and quickly blessed himself, hoping
God wouldn't be too offended that he'd come here for advise.
He walked down the long center aisle until he reached the first
pew, and then he knelt and began to pray. He said all the
prayers the nuns had taught him at the orphanage, but knew it
wasn't enough, and finally got up the courage to direct his most
personal thoughts directly at the Lord
"Lord, please, forgive me, I never meant to hurt my friend. I know
I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of, but this, this is the worst.
Please, I need to find him, I need to know he's okay. I need to
explain, not that it will do any good, but I have to try. Please, I
beg you, help me. I'll do anything, just let him be okay." Then
he buried his face in his hands as tears burned his eyes.
Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder, "What's wrong son, may
I help?" the kindly priest asked.
"I wish you could Father, but I don't think anyone can help me after
what I've done."
Before long, Face was sitting face to face in a confessional booth,
explaining everything that happened. Face left out nothing,
closing his eyes several times, afraid of seeing the priests
reaction to what he had to say. At last he was finished.
The priest, blessed him, and absolved him.
He looked at the troubled man before him, and touched him
lightly on the shoulder, sensing how alone the man felt.
"Son," he began, "We can't begin to understand the reasoning
behind all our actions, but we must trust that they serve a
higher purpose beyond our ability to comprehend. I sense your
remorse and I realize that you only acted to protect your friend
not to hurt him. Nevertheless, for your penance, you must find
your friend somehow, and ask his forgiveness."
Then they prayed together shortly, and the priest walked him
to the front entrance before saying good-bye.
Face stood on top of the steps, and felt the chill in the air, and
sensed it would rain soon. He started walking. He had no
destination, just walked wherever his footsteps led him head
down cloaked in a dark depression.
For hours Murdock walked the streets of D.C. with no direction,
desperately alone. Finally, he knew he had to call Richter back.
He found a payphone and dialed the beeper number again. Like
before, Richter called immediately. This time was different. There
was very little emotion on either side. Murdock explained he wanted
the Dr. to understand, he had no choice.
"We always have choices, Murdock. You don't have to do this."
"But I do Doc. I killed Face, and if you take a life, you have to
give up your life. That's only fair."
"Have you spoken to your other friends, Hannibal and B.A.? Do
you think this is what they would want?"
"Doc, think about it. Would you want to work with some crazy
that shot his best friend?"
"Why did you shoot him Murdock? You never explained."
"It isn't important, the only thing that matters is I did. I can still
see the look on his face. He never believed I'd hurt him,
not till the gun fired."
"Why would you want to hurt him?"
"Because I found him in bed with the girl I wanted to marry.
He heard Richter inhale.
"Murdock, I really need to see you. I'm at the airport, Dulles.
Tell me where you are and I can be there in a few minutes."
"Dulles! How did you know I'm in D.C.? I don't know Doc.
You're a tricky guy, much as I like you, I think you're trying to
trick me again."
"I swear, Murdock. No tricks. Just you and me. Afterwards,
if you still want to do it, I'll walk away. I won't stop you. My
promised a desperate Richter.
"I don't know. Let me think about it. I'll call you again later." and
Murdock broke the connection.
Murdock looked out the window of the all night diner, watching the
cold rain come down when he saw a figure walking slowly down the
street. He looked so familiar, but that was impossible. He looked so,
so lost. Murdock suddenly knew it was him. He felt his breath catch
while he tried to figure out what that meant. He watched the figure
start to cross the street, than stop. Murdock saw the car coming, he
felt a little panic that the figure started walking again, and still
looked either way, just as the car tried to come to a screeching halt
but didn't quite make it. He screamed as he watched the figure
hurled into the air, and pounded on the glass in helpless frustration.
He turned and ran out the door, down into the street, until he reached
the side of the accident victim. He saw the blood around his head,
the side of his face cruelly scraped away. There were people and
lights and sirens, but he heard nothing. His whole world had been
reduced to him and the figure on the ground, his friend Face. His
hands trembling, he tried to make Face as comfortable as he could
until the ambulance arrived.
"Face, you have to make it. All the rest, it's not important. You, me,
our friendship, there 's nothing more important, Faceman, c'mon.
Don't you even think of checking out on me."
Then he closed his eyes and prayed. " God I - I know I gave up on you
a long time ago, but Faceman, he needs you now, and he never gave up
on you, so, if you could just help him out here, I don't care what price
have to pay. I 'm sorry about the past, but if you just take care of
Faceman now, I'll try to do whatever you want of me, just please Face,
He wanted to ride in the ambulance, but they refused. A police
officer offered to take him and Murdock agreed. As they were
pulling away he saw Hannibal and B.A. pull up in one of Stockwell's
cars. They would catch up to him.
At the hospital, Murdock sat in the waiting room while Face underwent
emergency surgery. There were internal injuries, internal bleeding.
Nothing the Doctors hadn't done hundreds of times before, but never a
sure thing. Murdock sat, locked in a world of his own. He
didn't move, or respond to anything or anyone. In his mind over
and over he replayed everything that had happened in the last thirtysix
hours. He knew that when he saw Face walking down the street, he was
hurting. Who hurt him? "Me." thought Murdock. "His best friend, I
even ask for an explanation, I just went nuts. I didn't trust him. I
- that bitch, why? Why would I care about her when all along it's been
Face that counts. I could live in a world without her, I could never
a world without Face. Face, Face had to live, he just had to. What if
God ignored him, the way he always had in the past, ever since, ever
since, ... well for a long time. God couldn't ignore Face, could he?"
Murdock felt someone shaking him, and withdrew even deeper into
himself. He didn't want to talk to anyone. All he wanted was for Face
to live. He could hear far off voices and concentrated on finding a
inside his mind where he could think and not hear all these
He was so tired. Face. That's all he could think of. What if Life meant
Face? No Face to talk, to tease again.Murdock felt panic building,
knowing there was no worse pain in the world than just thinking Face
might not live.
Gloom settled over him, and he knew if Face didn't live, he didn't want
either. He wished that he could hold him, let Face know it was okay he
was there. Let Face know he would protect him, not ever let anyone hurt
him. Let Face know how much he loved him. If only Face would be all
Murdock stayed in the safe little room in his mind that he had found.
He thought of the future and how he would try to explain everything
to his friend. Finally, Murdock stopped struggling with these thoughts
and decided to concentrate on willing Face to live. In his mind over
and over, he just kept repeating,* Face, you've got to live.*
B.A. looked at Hannibal, fear evident in his eyes. Hannibal tried to
his fears, "It's okay B.A., Murdock will be okay, he just needs a
Hannibal didn't let on how disturbing it was to see their friend
zoned out, sitting in the E.R. waiting room, hunched over and rocking
back and forth, never stopping, totally oblivious to them. It was like
Nam all over gain. Hannibal shook off the gloomy thoughts.
Give Stockwell credit, he had thought to call Richter, only to find he
been in touch with Murdock off and on since this whole nightmare
began. Hannibal would be glad to see him, and hoped Murdock would
too. Face was still unconscious, and in surgery. He had internal
injuries, but nothing life threatening.
Dr. Richter strode into the E.R. waiting room and stopped at the
sight that greeted him. Hannibal looked like hell, like he hadn't
slept in days. B.A. looked downtrodden, and overwhelmed.
Still, the worst was Murdock. He had regressed even since they
had last spoken, but at least he was alive. He made his way to
the captain's side and called his name with no response. He
checked his pupils and his vitals, then injected him with a strong
dose of a anti anxiety medication. Still no response. He asked B.A.
to position himself behind Murdock, and then criss crossed the pilot's
arms he had B.A. grasp them from behind, forming a human strait
jacket. Then the psychiatrist reached in his pocket and pulled out
a small vial of ammonia. He snapped it open and waved it
under the pilot's nose. Immediately he got the reaction he wanted,
Murdock wild eyed and struggling, but back in the here and now.
Richter knelt in front of him, grabbing his face on both sides,
"Murdock, it's all right. You're okay. Do you know where you are?"
"Do you remember why you're here?"
"That's right. He is in surgery, but he's going to be all right. Did
you hear Murdock? He's going to be fine."
"I need to see him."
"I know, but you have to wait. Your friends are here. They have been
very worried about you. Don't you want to say hello to them?"
Murdock hung his head in shame. "I can't see them. Please."
B.A. shook the hands he was holding, "Whatcha mean you don't
want to see us? We been worried sick about you ever since Face
pulled that stupid stunt."
Dr. Richter nodded at B.A. to release the hold he had on Murdock
and come around in front of him. B.A. came around and just looked
at him, then he just smiled and never said a word but he reached
down and drew the pilot to his feet and hugged him hard. Murdock
just closed his eyes, unable to talk, and let B.A.'s strength seep into
Finally after several long emotion filled minutes, he asked "Where's
B.A.'s face got serious again. Then he pointed in the corner, several
Hannibal stood there, exhausted, emotionally drained, his hair messed up
and his clothes disheveled. He stood there watching Murdock with no
expression on his face, his arms at his side. Murdock turned and looked
at Hannibal, avoiding his eyes, afraid to see the disdain that would be
He walked over to him slowly, knowing he had to ask his forgiveness, so
afraid Hannibal wouldn't be able to forgive him, or trust him again.
down, he tried to gather up some courage. Finally, when he was a few
away, Hannibal opened his arms, and tears started to stream down his
"C'mere" he ordered, and Murdock ran into his arms like a little boy.
Hannibal slapped his arms arms around him hard, in a tight embrace.
They stood like that for several minutes, each trying not cry with
Hannibal felt Murdock cling to him as if his life depended on it
As a rule, he wasn't a religious man, but knowing a disturbed
Murdock was out there walking the streets with a loaded hand
gun had forced him to ask for help from the almighty. He hated
asking anyone for anything but he especially hated asking God.
He knew God just couldn't help you all the time, better to rely on
yourself. Looking at Murdock now, Hannibal felt God's presence,
almost like God was trying to say, "Don't think I've forgotten you.
I know when you really need me, and I will always be there."
He squeezed his eyes shut, and gave God a heartfelt prayer of thanks.
Slowly he felt himself relax, and the tension start to drain from his
He felt Murdock start to sag against him, "Murdock? Are you all right?"
"Hannibal - Do you hate me because I shot at Face?"
"Murdock, we're like family. Look at me. Nothing you could do could
make me hate you.Do you understand that? Nothing!"
Murdock nodded mutely, as Dr. Richter made his way over. He put his
arm around Murdock, and smiled "Feeling better, huh?" Murdock nodded.
Into this crowded area now strode Stockwell. Murdock cringed, and
suddenly felt frightened. Hannibal took a step in front of him,
Stockwell from getting in his space. Apparently the general understood;
he didn't come any closer.
He address his question to Richter, "Doctor, will it be necessary to
hospitalize Capt. Murdock? If so, we have a special fac..."
Dr. .Richter interrupted. "No, I don't think that will be necessary.
What I do need is a soundproof room where he and I can have a
"Not now!" implored Murdock.
"Oh definitely now, Captain. Now while your defenses are
slightly ragged. There are several issues we need to address.
I'd say it's going to be a hell of a session."
Murdock just looked glum. Then, momentarily he brightened,
"Don't even think about asking me to interfere between you and
your psychiatrist." answered the colonel.
"But what about Face? I can't be talking with you when my
minds on Face."
"Nice try, Murdock, but Face is in the recovery room, and he's
going to be fine. No visitors for twenty-four hours. You're mine,
Captain, all mine."
Stockwell and Dr. Richter walked out into the hallway where they
talked privately for some time. Finally, Dr. Richter asked Murdock.
"You have a choice. We can either have the session right here up
on the pysch ward, or we can go somewhere more private, but your
friends will be nearby like a private hotel suite with a soundproof
It's up to you."
Murdock smirked, like he was really going to pick the psych ward.
"Hotel" he muttered, starting to feel defensive. They all piled in to
Stockwells limo. Murdock was exceptionally quiet.
Murdock looked around the room. There was a piano in the corner.
He was laying down on a bed. Richter was seated in a recliner
positioned just a few feet away scribbling notes furiously.
Murdock frowned. He hated that, hated seeing the Doc make notes.
Up till that point he was always able to pretend they were just
two friends talking. Once Doc started taking notes, it was like a
line drawn in the dirt. They were both on different sides now.
Murdock sat up and swung his feet down. *That got Doc's attention*
he smiled to himself ever so slightly.
Richter looked up, surprised to see Murdock sitting up so soon.
*Good,* he thought to himself. Taking notes in front of him had
worked. It had irritated the hell out of him. It always had and
probably always would. Murdock never realized that when he
was irritated like that he had much less control over his emotions
and often let slip remarks he would never ordinarily say. Never
the less, he continued to ignore the pilot, and kept scribbling notes.
Murdock watched Richter, becoming increasingly annoyed. He
started tapping his foot. The doctor still ignored him. Finally,
he said "Hey Doc, are we having a session here or what?"
Richter looked over his glasses at him and asked " Are you ready?"
"Of Course I'm ready."
"Good. Where do you want to begin?"
There was a long silence. Where did he want to begin, Murdock thought.
"Well. I went to my girl friends house, It was around 10 o'clock at
"Did you call first?"
"How long have you been seeing her?'
"Tell me about her. How did you meet her? What do you do when
Face introduced us. We hit it right off. She never minded my
irregular hours. She thought it was neat that my boss often
sent a limo to pick me up. She was so easily pleased, like a
"Well, if I stayed the night, I always fixed breakfast, and that always
used to make her cry. She said no one ever cared like that for
Richter looked perplexed. "Doesn't that sound a little strange? How
old is this girl?"
"Mary Beth, I don't know, maybe early thirties." Richter scribbled
some notes. Murdock stood and walked around a little
.."What does she do for a living?" Richter asked
"She's a receptionist."
The psychiatrist just grunted. "Murdock, how many times have
you actually been with her?"
"What do you mean?"
"How many dates have you been on with her?"
"Seven or eight."
"And based on these seven or eight dates, you've decided this is the
woman you want to spend the rest of your life with?"
"Well, maybe I was a little hasty. I know that now, but back then,
it all seemed so perfect, like a dream."
"All right, let's go back to the night in question.Tell me
"I wanted to surprise her, so I let myself in With key she gave me."
"When did she give you the key?"
"The day before. I knew when I walked in she had company.
I saw champagne glasses and I wondered why she would be
drinking champagne when I hadn't given her the ring yet."
Murdock was starting to feel agitated and started walking
around the room, pacing back and forth.
"What type of ring?"
"A diamond ring" he blurted out. " I wanted to marry her. I'm
so stupid. I heard noises down the hallway, and figured she
was in bed watching TV, but then I knew that couldn't be,
because I recognized the voices. It was her and Face.
I wanted to leave, but I couldn't. I had to see it with my
own eyes, you know?
"Yes, I understand."
Murdock sat on the edge of the bed, and closed his eyes.
"It was awful."
"Murdock, when you first opened the door and looked,
what exactly did you see?"
"What do you think I saw?! I'm tired of talking about this.
I'm tired of talking. Forget it. I want to go." Murdock got
up and opened the door only to find B.A. blocking it.
"Going somewhere?" he asked.
Murdock shut the door, turned and pressed his back against
the door. He was feeling trapped and he didn't like it. His eyes
blinked rapidly as he tried to give the appearance of an
emotionally calm person. "Do you think perhaps we could
continue this another time? I really feel the need for a nice hot
shower and a good long nap."
Richter wasn't smiling. "Sit down, Murdock. It'll be alright.
Why don't you start over and tell me about walking into
Mary Beth's apartment, okay?"
"Murdock said nothing, just shook his head no.
"Murdock, you have to tell me everything, it's important.
You know you can trust me, don't you? I know you're not
telling me everything. Come on now, try again."
Sweat broke out on Murdock's brow as he felt a wild
desperate feeling grow inside him. He wrapped his arms
around himself tight, and started to rock.
"You'll feel better when you tell me everything.
Come on, Murdock."
"C-c-c-an't.C-c-c-an't. Help me, Doc." Murdock pleaded
with tears in his eyes.
Richter frowned. "What do you want?"
"I can't do it alone. Please, can you help me?"
"What are you trying to say, Murdock?"
"Can you hit me with some flak juice?"
Richter sighed wearily and ran a hand through his hair. "I have never
used that on you before. Why now?"
"I had it in Nam. It works, let's just do it, please."
"I'd really rather not use that, Murdock."
"Please, Doc. I had it before. It'll speed everything up, please?"
he asked beseechingly.
"I may need your friends help, and that could violate
"They're my friends. Don't matter. I'll sign a release."
"Okay." replied the concerned psychiatrist.
Forty five minutes later, Murdock was laying in the bed,
hooked up to an IV. Hannibal was sitting in a chair by
the bottom of the bed. B.A. was seated at the head of
the bed, and Richter was beside him. Flak juice, ( sodium penothal)
was dripping in slowly through the I.V. and Murdocks defenses
and inhibitions were falling by the wayside rapidly.
Richter had a blood pressure cuff wrapped around his
other arm, and a stethoscope was draped around his neck.
"How are you feeling, buddy?" he asked as Murdock smiled
"Are you ready?" asked Richter.
Murdock nodded yes. The psychiatrist adjusted the
flow control on the I.V. and asked Murdock to start counting
backward from 100. His voice slurred off to silence at 95.
"Murdock, can you hear me?"
"Yeah, Doc. I'm here."
"Murdock, I want you to tell me every thing that h
appened the last time you went to your girl friend
Mary Beth's apartment. You must tell me everything
you saw, and everything you thought. Is that clear?"
The psychiatrist listened and waited patiently for him
to approach the bedroom. That's when it happened.
"I peeked in the door, and I saw them. He was hurting her."
Murdock pulled his knees up and tried to grab his abdomen
as if in tremendous pain. Hannibal and B.A . followed the
Dr.'s instructions and kept him flat, making sure the IV
"She was screaming, "No, no!" but he just kept on hurting her.
I tried to help her, but than he hit me and told me to get the
hell out of there."
"Murdock, who's in the bed?"
"My father and my baby-sitter."
"How old are you?"
"How old is your baby-sitter?"
"what happened then?"
"I hid in the barn. I didn't help her. I was a coward."
"What's your baby-sitters name?"
"I don't want to look anymore. I closed my eyes."
"Open your eyes Murdock. Look at the bed. Who
is in the bed Murdock?"
"Say it Murdock!"
"It's not your father and the baby-sitter is it?"
"'What happened next?"
"I saw the gun. Face's gun. Guns and war, enemy is everywhere.
I smelled death, I heard rockets,someone called my name,
I was trying to get away to someplace safe, I turned and saw
the enemy. He had on black pajamas just like the VC . I fired and ran."
"Look at the enemy, see his face?"
"Who is it?"
"It's Face." and Murdock started to cry and then berate himself
for being so stupid he couldn't tell his best friend from the enemy.
Hannibal and B.A. both had to use all their strength to keep him
in a prone position.
Richter stood and adjusted the flow control and then sat holding
Murdock's hand he said, "I think that's enough for now. Sleep."
"As the medicine entered his system, Murdock easily fell asleep."
Well that was interesting. Not exactly what I was expecting, but I
knew there was something. The next session will be easier and I
won't need the medication."
"How long will he sleep for?"
"I'll let him sleep for an hour or so, then we'll go to work again.
You both understand you can discuss what you heard with no
one except Murdock."
"Yeah" they both replied in unison.
The next session went much faster, and the psychiatrist didn't
need Hannibal and B.A . for help. At the end of the fifth session
in only 36 hours, Murdock was starting to look like his old self.
It was the sixth session that was the most surprising, however,
because Dr. Richter required Hannibal and B.A .to participate
alongside Murdock. Murdock loved it. It was nice to see someone
on the hot seat besides him. Hannibal found discussing his feelings
about Face and what had happened very enlightening. Richter had
picked up on their animosity to Face right away, but waited till he
had Murdock well in hand before he addressed it. At this last
session he asked Hannibal how Face looked.
Hannibal just replied "He's doing fine."
"How's his face look?" asked Murdock.
"His face is fine." Hannibal answered.
"But how can that be, I saw him, one whole side
was scraped away. He's gonna be awful upset."
Hannibal finally confessed they hadn't visited with
Face yet, that they were both still upset with him.
Murdock was bewildered. How could you not visit him?
He's hurting so bad inside here, Murdock thumped his chest,
he needs you guys, we are all the family he has. You told
me Hannibal no matter what I did, you would always forgive
me because we're family. Isn't face family too? I have to
see him now," Murdock started to get up.
Dr. Richter intervened." No. First I want Hannibal and B.A .to
make their peace with him. Then you can see him."
"Why? How come I'm always last, I always have to wait."
"You'll probably want to spend more time with him, it's
better if you see him last. Okay?"
Face laid in the hospital bed deeply depressed. It
was hard to believe the team could abandon him so
easily. Not that he didn't deserve it, just, well it hurt.
It hurt bad. He couldn't ever remember a time in his
life when he had needed someone as bad as he did
now, and no one was there. He had asked about
Murdock, but no one answered him. He closed his
eyes and prayed he was all right. He heard the door
open, and looked up to see Hannibal, and quickly
turned his head away, not ready to face him.
Well, he thought. Here it comes. The Sorry we can't
use you anymore speech. Face cleared his throat.
Hannibal hurried to get him a sip of water.
"Face, how are you?" Hannibal asked.
Face turned his head at the sound of Hannibal's voice
but didn't say anything. *How the hell do you think I am ?*
he thought to himself. Hannibal may have been able
to avoid gasping at the shocking sight of the right side
of the lieutenants face, but there was nothing he could
do about the blood draining from his own face. Face
watched his every move.
"I'm sorry, Face. This isn't easy for me to say." Hannibal
"Well, then why don't you let me help you out. I'm sorry
kid, but we can't use you anymore. No hard feelings,
have a good life. How's that?" asked Face.
"Damn it Face, No! Don't make this any harder than it
already is. I want to apologize for not trusting you, for not
believing in you."
Face looked at him in disbelief. "You want to apologize to
me? You sure you feel all right? I can't remember the last
time I heard you apologize to me. You been having sessions
with Richter or something?"
Hannibal just smiled. "Something like that."
"Tell me about Murdock" Face asked, "Is Murdock all right?"
"Yeah, he was touch and go for a while, but Richter's been
doing intensive therapy with him around the clock, and he's
just about back to his regular crazy self."
"Thank God! Hannibal, this whole thing, it's been such a
nightmare, and it's all my fault. I'm so sorry."
"It's all right, Face. We all make mistakes, even Colonels.
Just get well. The team needs you."
"Don't you want me to explain?" asked Face.
"No. You don't owe me any explanation."
Face looked at him and questioned,"Not you, but maybe
Murdock?" The colonel just smiled.
There was a bold knock on the open door and B.A .
walked into the room. He winced at the sight of Face.
"Don't look like you'll be scamming much anytime soon.
How you feeling? I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions. I
should have trusted you more. Murdock was right. You
must have had a good reason to do what you did."
Face looked down and finally spoke. "Look - don't
go thinking I'm innocent. You're both forgiving me, how?
I can't forgive myself. How is he? Really? Did I mess
him up really bad?"
"Shit, Faceman, I was messed up really bad before you
were born. You couldn't mess me up any more if you tried.
How's your insides? Did they leave you anything? As Murdock
got closer, he held out his hand. Face grasped it and pulled
him near, in seconds they were embracing, whispering promises
and begging each others forgiveness. Hannibal and B.A.
left the room quietly.
"Murdock, you have to let me explain."
"No. It's not important. I told you that. I realize now.
I was never in love with her, it's not important."
"Not important to you maybe, but it's real important to me.
Please, I know you've forgiven me, but I have to try to explain,
because I need to forgive me, and I don't know if I can."
Murdock nodded, understanding exactly how Face felt
and sat in the chair beside Face's bed, giving him all his attention.
"I never should have even introduced you to Mary Beth.
I met her at a party for the ambassador of Uruguay.
She can go just about anywhere. She's an information
specialist. She makes her living selling information.
Not government secrets or anything like that, just
who's sleeping with whom, what type of weaknesses
a man has, what he likes and doesn't like, what she
knows, and who she knows it about are unbelievable.
I set you up with her thinking it would be a one night
stand for the two of you. I knew she'd never get any
information out of you, and the idea of someone finally
frustrating her was irresistible. I just never counted on
you falling for her. I thought her avarice was so obvious."
"It's all right Face. Go on."
"When you took her out to dinner in Stockwell's limo,
that did it. Stockwell told me he didn't care what I did,
but that if I didn't break you up, he would."
I tried to tell him to just stay out of it, let it run it's course.
I was so sure the two of you could never amount to anything
but Stockwell was adamant. He said she was too dangerous,
knew too many dangerous people. It's true she does know
a lot of dangerous people, but I don't know about her being
dangerous. Then out of the blue, she runs into me having dinner
at Le Garcon, and wants to see me about you. I said sure.
We met the next day and she wants to know if it's true you
work for Stockwell and what your specialty was. Believe it or
not, she knew who I really was, and she knew about Stockwell
having the team. She wanted to know if it was true you were our
pilot in Nam and had been living in the V.A. for the better part of
the last 15 years. I kept denying everything. She was furious.
She didn't believe me, thought I was lying. Finally, I convinced
her, and she agreed to stop seeing you, provided she could
have one last night with you and that the breakup would be a
public scene. I said fine. Then you tell me you got the ring.
I was in a panic. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want you to be
hurt, so I thought if I saw her again, maybe I could offer money or
something to accept the ring, and break up with you later. That
was what I intended. She changed the stakes. She said she'd
play along, provided I made love to her that night. I said I couldn't
agree to that, and then she got nasty. She told me exactly what
she would say to you when you offered her the ring, she told me
all kinds of hurtful things she would say to you, until I couldn't
stand it anymore. She told me it would be in the press.
Stockwell would be furious with us. She said she'd have you
back in the VA in 24 hours in such sorry shape you would
never get out. I didn't think you could take that. I'm sorry.
I should have come to you. Instead, I, I let her have her own way.
Then you came.
Murdock was silent for several moments, his head down,
while he played with his cap. He got up and walked over
to the window and stared out, as he thought over all the
things Face had said. Finally, he turned around, with a
grin on his face said, "Well, thanks for sparing me an
embarrassing public scene."
"Murdock, please, be serious, I'm sorry. I know how
much she meant to you."
"I knew she was scared. I just didn't know how much.
The last time we were together, I made love to her, and
when it was over, she cried in my arms because it was
so beautiful. She said that if she lived 100 years, and
if a thousand men made love to her, no one would ever
be able to make her feel that wanted and that beautiful
again. She told me that I deserved someone better,
that she would only hurt me. I said I'd take my chances.
Richter says I was in love with love and that it had nothing
to do with her, that I just think I loved her. I don't know.
I know this, because I know Stockwell. I ll never see her
again. If she's alive, she's long gone from Washington.
If she's alive. Face, thanks for having the guts to do what
you thought was right even if you didn't especially like it.
I know you were trying to protect me and I know it wasn't easy.
It takes a special type of person to do what you did and risk
your friends anger and even friendship just for one guy. One
crazy guy. You're really special Face. When I saw you walking
down that street in the rain, I suddenly knew if I had to choose
between you and Mary Beth, there was no choice. You're too
much a part of my life. You're everything to me, father, brother,
best friend all mixed up together. I couldn't make it without you
Face. You understand me when no one else does. I never have
to explain. I know Hannibal loves me, and B.A. too, but it's
different with you.
Face smiled," I understand what you're saying. I do and
sometimes understanding you can be really scary."
Murdock just smiled.
An orderly walked in then and asked if a Mr. Murdock was there.
The captain nodded, and the orderly handed him an envelope.
Murdock felt his chest tighten, and his heart start to race as he
walked over to the window and opened it.
My Dearest Flyboy,
Forgive me for the pain I have caused you and your friends,
but that's my job. You were my target. I don't know why.
I just follow orders. There are innumerable reasons why
we never could have made it together, not the least of which
is we are on different sides. But I wanted you to know,
for whatever it's worth, in a hundred years, if I loved a
thousand men, I could never find another to love me the
way that you did that night. I will carry that memory with
You saved your friends life, had you not interrupted us
when you had, he would be dead. The next day, it would
have been your turn. You have both, by some miracle of fate
escaped La Morticia. Do not fear. Our paths shall not
Beneath the signature was a drop of blood. Murdock
had no doubt it was human blood, and wondered if
the donor was alive. He had heard of La Morticia,
a fabled female assassin, but Mary Beth ?
He handed the note to Face, who looked up
at Murdock afterwards in disbelief.
Stockwell chose that moment to enter the room.
He neatly plucked the note from Face's hand, noting
the drop of blood, looked knowingly from Face to Murdock,
and said "Ahh, La Morticia. Considered one of the five most
deadly assassins in the world. he shook his head in disbelief.
Your luck, gentlemen, remains incredible. Not only are you
both alive, after being an admitted targets of hers, you've both
bedded her and lived to talk about it. She never goes after a
target twice, so you're all right. "La Morticia," Stockwell shook
his head again in disbelief.
Murdock shook his head," I don't understand. Why would we be
targets? Who does she work for?"
"She's independent. Free lance so to speak. No way to tell
who employed her. No need to worry about it either."
"What do you mean?"
The drop of blood below her signature, that means whoever
hired her is dead. The contract is null and void. That's how
she works. If the blood is above her signature, than the
mark is dead. After every assignment, she has cosmetic
surgery and changes her appearance.
Well, gentlemen, I'm glad to see you both recovering so
nicely, but I think I will leave now, and have this taken
to the lab and analyzed."
Both men nodded, still feeling numb from the news.
Finally, Murdock looked up and said "Face?"
"Promise me something?"
"If I ever look like I'm falling in love, send me back to the V.A."
Face smiled and said, " If you ever fall in love again! How can
you even think about it after this, this nightmare?"
Murdock smiled and said "Well, when a lady tells you one
hundred years, one thousand men, you have to think about it."
Face smiled too, "As long as you just think about it."
Murdock laughed out loud, but inside he couldn't help wondering
if he would ever see her again, and if he did who would he
see, Mary Beth or La Morticia.
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