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.