I’d almost forgotten about Frankie. But he followed me out and he knew where I was going.
“I know where you’re going. You’re going after that Colonel Quyet, huh? You figure he would’ve known that Morrison sent you on that mission, right?”
Not as dumb as he looks. And right then he was staying a bit cooler than me. Well he didn’t have as much at stake. Which could maybe be useful, because I was right on the edge.
“Besides me, who seems to know everything?”
Stockwell, of course. But whatever he might know he wasn’t going to tell us about it.
Frankie’s ‘home number’ for Stockwell was now a pizza parlour. Not that I expected anything else. But never mind, never mind. I could handle this. Or rather, the Fighting Nighthawk Commando could handle this. A proud band of soldiers, me and, well okay me. But Frankie now too. If he could stay cool under pressure let’s apply some pressure.
“Now, repeat after me… Fly by night…”
“Repeat after me! Fly by night… ”
He got that look in his eyes that people so often get when they look at me.
“You’ll get the hang of it.”
The Fighting Nighthawks flew into action.
Blowing the cabinets had to be done right. Blow the fronts off without setting everything inside on fire. I was trusting Frankie to get it right. Hannibal said he was good and if Hannibal said… well I’d give him the benefit of the doubt at least.
After I gave the troops the pep talk we went to it. One small glitch in that Frankie left his damn cap on the damn desk and the damn guard, who had more attention to detail then Frankie, saw it and started to come in. Ten nine three two one.
Okay, one thing I’ll say for this guy, Santana. He can blow shit up.
Frankie found the file. Kinda fast now I think back, but at the time I was buzzing too much to notice. A second night without sleep, and my blood caffeine level was starting to drop below nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine parts per million so I may have been a bit below par on the detail noticing front.
The file had the address of a restaurant so the Fighting Nighthawks headed over there in a cab. The driver gave us strange looks for some reason. Same at the restaurant. We met this Vietnamese guy, who said he didn’t know Quyet, but he’d ask his co-workers. His co-workers included some really mean waiters and a big guy with a meat cleaver.
The Fighting Nighthawks were forced to beat a tactical retreat just in time to see Quyet making a break for it in a car.
But we knew his address. Nighthawks, ho!
I should have been thinking about the guys, about what was happening to them right then, but to be honest I was actually enjoying myself. I found out later that right around this time when I was bringing in Quyet they were trying to plead guilty, because they thought the prosecution was going after me. I just can’t… well what the hell can I say about that, about friends who would literally put their heads on the block for me?
But I didn’t know all that at the time. I was a little busy stealing a garbage truck – I like garbage trucks. We trapped Quyet into his apartment forcing him into trying to escape via a fire escape, which of course we’d rigged. The mouse ran up, the clock struck one, the mouse fell down into the dumpster on the garbage truck.
Nicely executed. Frankie handled the capture okay. I’m starting to think he’s not so bad. Talks too much, but he’s up for it. Likes the game. He thinks I’m crazy, but well I did sing him the Fighting Nighthawk Commando’s theme song over the radio, so, well I can see where he gets that from.
Quyet preferred talking to being ground up in the compactor. Yes Morrison was a traitor, he sent the team to the bank as a trap, but the unit to intercept them never got there and the team got out with the money.
Okay, our boy could sing that song for the judge and since the Army showed up right then I judged it was time to retire from the battleground. The Army came after us of course, but I wasn’t having any of that. We left them upside down spinning their wheels and drove off singing into, well okay the afternoon sun, but it should have been a sunset.
By the time we made it back to the court room I’d started to sober up a bit. Even so I enjoyed busting in yelling “stop these proceedings” like the eleventh hour witness on Perry Mason.
Perry Mason. He’s the lawyer the guys needed. He’d have got them off, got them promoted and got Decker busted down to Private just for for good measure.
“Stop the proceedings. Your Honour, we have located a very important witness and I believe that he can finally shed some light on this case.” My voice was cracking, I was right on the edge of cracking myself. The tension and the exhaustion were catching up on me and clubbing me over the head.
“Is that you, Captain Murdock?”
“Yes, it is, Your Honour. And if you’ll bear with me, I believe we can finally establish some testimony here that will once and for all and beyond a shadow of a doubt prove that the A-Team is innocent of all charges.”
“You may continue.”
That’s all I wanted to hear.
They swore Quyet in and Frankie and me went over to the guys, smiles and shakes. Face gave me kind of a worried look. I guess the axle grease and the ninja outfit threw him a bit.
It was all going to be over any second, Quyet’s testimony would finish it.
“Would you give us your version of the famous mission on the National Bank of Hanoi, sir?” Conway asked Quyet.
And that’s when it all started to go wrong.
“I was shocked when it happened.”
I jumped like I’d been shot when I heard that one. “Wait a minute! That’s not what you told me!”
“We should have anticipated that the A-Team was capable of such a mission. I wish Colonel Morrison and I could have recruited them.”
“What do you mean by this?”
“I had many times said to Morrison that we should make them a offer. But he always said no. He said they were loyal American patriots.”
“Loyal American patriots? Colonel Morrison, the man these men were supposed to have killed? He in fact held them in high regard?”
I wanted to yell, scream and make Conway and Quyet stop talking because I could see everything getting sucked down into the seventh level of hell.
It’s meant to be the lawyers that twist what the witness says, make them say something to hurt their testimony. But this guy was too smart for that. Almost like he’d been coached, prepared for this moment.
“No. He feared them. Colonel Morrison told me that if Colonel Smith and the A-Team discovered that he was an agent, they would not hesitate to kill him.”
And that was it. There was more after that, the lawyers summed up. But I knew Quyet had turned it.
The panel went out to deliberate and came back really quick, which I was sure had to be bad.
“Colonel Smith, Lieutenant Peck, Sergeant Baracus, it is my duty as president of this court to inform you that in closed session on secret ballot, all the members present concurred in finding you guilty as charged and sentencing you to be put to death.”
Hannibal barely reacted. No shock. No surprise. Face looked like he was going to throw up. Maybe he’d really believed there’d been a chance. BA just gave this little nod at the panel, his face a deeper scowl than usual. His little nod said, ‘yeah, shoulda known.’
“The accused are remanded to Military Custody, and sentence will be carried out as soon as possible. This court is adjourned.”
They wouldn’t let me say anything to the guys before they were taken out.
My fault. I brought in Quyet and his testimony finished them. God, he probably wasn’t even lying. I know the team didn’t kill Morrison, but if they’d found out he was a traitor maybe they would have. I know I…
“Okay, come on, leave the man alone.”
Frankie’s words cut into my thoughts. I was walking, didn’t even know it, stumbling. And the reporters were squabbling, wanting lumps of me. Frankie just pulled me along and fended the vultures off until we were out in the fresh air.
“My fault,” I said, weakly.
“Murdock,” Frankie said. “I’ve worked on court room drama movies that were less tightly scripted than that farce.”
I looked at him. He was unusually serious for a moment. Was he right? Was the outcome decided from the start? If it was who wrote the script? Let me think about that for 0.01 of a second.
“Let’s get a cab. Where’d you wanna go, Murdock?”
“Home,” I said. “Hospital.”
“The VA? Right, come on man, you’re going to be okay.”
Was I? That was for Dr Richter to decide maybe. I knew I had to get my head back together before I got back there. The state I was in right now it would be straight jacket city when I showed up. Better get cleaned up too, Richter wouldn’t quite get it about the Fighting Nighthawk Commando. He’d think it was nuts.
I had to get back to the VA and get my head sorted out, get my strength back.
Because I had to start planning whatever it took to help the guys.