Mrs Baracus goes to visit her son and comes back carrying something dynamite.

Rating: G

Words: 2,454

Chapter 1

This was a strange thing for a respectable woman to be doing, Mrs Baracus thought, as she prepared to leave her apartment. Should a lady have to be worrying about avoiding government surveillance men? But BA had been very insistent in his letter to be careful that she wasn’t followed, warning her that it wouldn’t just be the MPs this time, these guys would be less conspicuous and more dangerous. The dangerous part frightened her a little. When the army kept a watch on her and the apartment, usually on the holidays in case BA turned up, their presence only irked her because it kept her son from her. She had never been afraid of them. Sometimes she even felt reassured, especially if she had to go out at night. They still watched her sometimes, sitting outside in their car, in a state of forlorn hope that BA would casually drop by and walk in the front door of the building.

She looked again at the letter BA had sent her. Or rather that he’d sent to his cousin, her niece Phyllis, with instructions to pass it to her. He was taking no chances. She made sure she knew the instructions by heart, then took it to the kitchen, lit a match and burnt it, dropping it into the sink as it disintegrated into ash.

Ready to go now, she picked up her basket from the kitchen table and left the apartment. As she came out of the building onto the street she resisted the temptation to look around too obviously and hurried off towards the corner bus stop. If anyone was watching her they were seeing her setting out as she did every Thursday afternoon, carrying a basket. That was the day she always visited her aunt. The old lady was frail now and Mrs Baracus always took her some good home cooking, the basket would be full with a pot roast and home-baked cookies.

She waited at the bus stop, trying to subtly check out those who arrived at the stop after she did. Did any of them look like dangerous government agents? A year ago the idea of a government agent being dangerous to her would have seemed ridiculous, but then the trial had happened, she watched her son and his team mates set up for a murder they hadn’t committed. She’d seen her baby for what she thought was the last time, believing he was about to be executed the next day. The memory of that visit and the next day was still like a raw wound. Only remembering the joy she’s felt when she’d received a phone call from BA, hours after his supposed death, telling her he was safe, could do anything to soothe the pain.

She was shaken out of the memories by the arrival of the bus. She climbed aboard and sat in the back seat, so she could watch for a car following and she could watch the passengers who got on. A young man jumped aboard just as the bus was about to move off and she instantly started to scrutinise him. He was a white boy, about twenty-five. She didn’t recognise him from the neighbourhood. He didn’t look like army, his hair was long, down to his collar, and shaggy. And he just didn’t have that look, the one she’s seen in BA the first time he came home on leave after enlisting. When he’d left he’d seemed no more than a child to her eyes, but on leave, in his uniform, his back seemed a little straighter, his hair was definitely a lot shorter and he’d had an almost indefinable new air of confidence about him. This boy just looked like a regular guy. Which is exactly what a government agent would look like if he was going to carry out covert surveillance she reflected and sighed. She wouldn’t spot them unless they made a mistake. What she had to concentrate on was making sure she didn’t make any mistakes.

The shaggy haired man got off the bus before it reached her stop so she dismissed him from her mind. A few moments later the bus arrived at the bus station, where she usually caught a bus out to her aunt’s home on the outskirts of the city. She went into the bustle of the busy station and headed for the one place a government surveillance man couldn’t follow her without making himself obvious. The ladies room. Unless of course it was a government surveillance woman following her. Thinking about it too much could make you crazy.

Inside the ladies room Mrs Baracus headed into a cubicle. She lowered the lid on the toilet and put down her basket, removed the cover from the top. There was no pot roast. No home-baked cookies. Instead she took from the basket a long raincoat, shook it out. She took off the short coat she was wearing and put on the raincoat. Next out of the basket was a hat. Not a very flattering one, and she’d never like wearing hats, but it would do the job. She put it on. Lastly she took out a black purse with a shoulder strap, then folded up her discarded coat and put it into the basket, followed by the red purse she’d been carrying, which was actually empty. She put the cover back on the basket. She would have to abandon it here, but perhaps she would be lucky and someone honest would hand it in to the lost property office.

She left the cubicle, went to the sinks and washed and dried her hands, then adjusted her hat in the mirror. She couldn’t wait too long in here, that could look suspicious. A white woman her own age had also just completed washing her hands and was heading to the door. Mrs Baracus caught up with her.

“Excuse me, but could you tell me where the nearest post office is?” The woman gave her directions as they left the ladies room, so they walked out together, apparently deep in conversation, before Mrs Baracus said, “Thank you,” and headed to the station entrance. Would that have been enough to fool them? She could only hope. She pictured a man in a dark suit and sunglasses nervously watching the entrance to the ladies room ten minutes after she actually left and smiled. She emerged into the sunshine and went to the taxi rank across the street. Luckily she got a cab straight away, gave the driver the address and they set off. She watched carefully out of the back window, trying to see if they were being followed. Cars came and went, but no-one seemed to stick with them. She began to relax a little.

After twenty minutes the taxi stopped outside a seedy looking motel. The driver gave her sort of an odd look as she paid him and headed towards the motel. She probably wasn’t the sort of person he normally brought to a place like this. This certainly was not the kind of place a respectable lady would normally be seen dead in. However she did as she’s been instructed, going into the office and asking for the room reserved under the name of Simpson. The clerk gave her the key and she found the room, number 17, let herself in. The place was, there was no other word for it, a dive. Cracked walls and peeling paint, a bed that sagged tiredly, a small TV, bolted to the cabinet on which it stood, which was in turn bolted to the floor. She didn’t even want to look at the bathroom. She sat on the worn out bed and waited.

Ten minutes passed and there came a soft knock at the door. She got up and hurried over, her eagerness almost overwhelming her caution. but she held herself in check and first looked out through the peephole in the door. Then she flung it open and a second later was in the arms of her son.

Chapter 2

A few moments later BA and his mother were sitting on the bed, she was drying her eyes with shaking hands. This was the first time she’d seen him since finding out he was alive after the execution. Her heart wanted to burst out of her chest, it was so full. BA took her hand in one of his, his large hand holding hers gently.

“You okay now, Mama?” He asked, quite softly.

“I’m fine, Scooter, yes. I’m fine now. It’s just…so good to see you.”

“It’s good to see you too, Mama, I wish I could have got to you sooner, but… well, it’s hard. Things are very different now.”

“This man Stockwell?”

“Yeah, he keeps us on a pretty tight leash.” His face tightened with anger, then smoothed again. “So far as he knows I’m in North Dakota right now with the rest of team, but we arranged for me to get away to see you.” North Dakota was a long way from Chicago, she realised he must have flown here and squeezed his hand.

“And to give you this.” He passed her a leather document case he’d been carrying when he came in.

“What is it?” She unzipped it at his nod and found it contained a thick sheaf of papers, a glance through revealed it was a written in four different hands, though the largest part was in a small neat style she recognised as being Face’s.

“Hannibal says it’s our insurance policy.” BA said. “It’s the story of our trial and what happened to us since then. We all wrote it, though Face did the most. He writes neatest.” He gave a small smile. “That way, see if anything happens to us you can get it published, so people know the truth, that we didn’t kill Morrison. And what Stockwell does, how he manipulates people. He blackmailed Frankie Santana into working with us. The kid never did no-one any harm, he helped us and Stockwell threatens his father to keep him co-operating.” BA’s face twisted with disgust.

“Scooter,” she said. “If Stockwell is as bad as you say you need to get away from him. If you run…”

“If we run we’re on our own and we’ll be hunted down and killed. By Stockwell or the army. But if things get too bad we’ll feel better knowing you got this document, that we can tell him it’s out there.”

“So you plan to blackmail him in return?”

“Only if we have to. And, Mama, I want you to be real careful. Don’t keep it in your apartment. In fact you don’t have to keep it at all, send it to someone else and tell them to send it on to someone, but not to tell you who they sent it to. Or put it in a safe deposit box, or bury it some place. But don’t tell me where, don’t tell anyone.” She nodded. It was a good idea. If BA himself didn’t know if she still had it then Stockwell would have to jump through a lot of hoops to find it.

She let her eyes wander over the first page, it listed the team members and a statement to the effect that this was a true account of their trial and the time since. She noticed Frankie Santana wasn’t listed. Of course if he was being blackmailed by Stockwell they could never really trust him completely, she guessed he knew nothing of the document.

“Scooter,” she said, then paused. “What’s happened? What’s brought this on, made you think of doing this?” He looked at her surprised, then cast his eyes down, sadness and pain in them.

“We almost lost Face,” he said, very quietly. She gave a little gasp of shock, but waited for him to continue. “He got shot. It weren’t even on a mission, it was in a dumb restaurant. There were these gangsters, they were gonna kill the Attorney General. Face and Murdock and Frankie tried to stop ’em and Face got shot.” His voice had started to shake and she took both his hands in hers. “None of us was ever that close to… not since ‘Nam. He had minutes left, just minutes when we got him to the hospital.” His voice fell to a whisper. “So much blood.”

“Shh, baby. I’m here, Mama’s here.” She held him as she had when he was a child. She knew he wouldn’t have cried in front of his team mates, in front of other men, but here, finally he could let his tears come.

As Mrs Baracus headed back to the bus station in a taxi she started to read the team’s account. Naturally she wanted to read her son’s words first, but frequently got distracted by Face’s sections. She realised now that he hadn’t written the largest part of it because he had the best handwriting, but rather because he’d recently had time on his hands while recovering.

She turned to the story of the restaurant shooting. Face’s own account was sparse and coldly factual. Possibly, hopefully, he remembered little of that night. In contrast Murdock’s description of events was fraught and full of emotion, and tears welled up in her eyes as she read it. BA’s was full of pent up anger, but with a gnawing sense of guilt, that he’s been in there, that Frankie had been trying to tell him Face was in trouble and he hadn’t seen it.

She recognised, even from the small amount she’d read that this document was either a newspaper’s story of the decade or a book publisher’s biggest best-seller ever. The inside story of the trial that had gripped the nation, the sensational escape and the covert missions reluctantly under the command of a possibly rogue general leading a black ops unit that seemed to have limitless power. This story would do more than set the record straight about a miscarriage of justice, it would blow Washington wide open. She went cold for a moment, knew she was holding a document that certain people would not hesitate to kill her for. And then she felt warm, felt a blush of pride, that she was the one the team had chosen to entrust it to. She wouldn’t let them down.

And her basket was at lost property at the bus station. She swung it as she returned home, the “insurance policy” nestled between the raincoat and the unflattering hat.