“What did you say?” Face stared at Frankie in shock.
Hannibal gave a harsh, disbelieving laugh.
“There’s about fifty reasons why that’s not true, Frankie. But let’s stick with the top three, shall we? You’re too young, you’re too Hispanic and number one on the list, that’s Richard Bancroft sitting over there.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder at Face.
“Says who?” Frankie asked. He had a quite malicious gleam in his eyes.
“A.J. Bancroft.” Hannibal said. “And Stockwell confirmed it.”
“Oh, Stockwell confirmed it?” Frankie said, heavy on the sarcasm. “Must be true then.” Hannibal frowned.
“A.J. had evidence that I was…” Face began.
“Yeah, evidence planted by me to lead him to you.” Frankie interrupted him. “I knew he was looking for his son, you were the right age, you didn’t know who your parents were. It was an obvious way to bring Bancroft in.” He shrugged a little. “Sorry, kinda rough on you I know.”
“Kinda rough?” Face echoed, his voice sounding rather distant.
“Too young, Frankie.” Hannibal pointed out.
“You have no idea how old I am. You never heard of plastic surgery?”
“Bull. It doesn’t work that way.”
“It isn’t Hollywood hacks working at the CIA, Colonel. Given enough time those guys could make me look like anything and anyone.”
“Oh, I suppose you’re really a blonde, blue eyed Nordic type?” Hannibal said.
“No. I am Hispanic. So was my mother.”
“Samantha?” Hannibal glanced back at Face, who had gone very quiet.
“What, all Hispanic women have to be named Maria?”
“Well if you were really Bancroft’s son why not lead him to you instead of Face?”
“You think I wanted a tearful reunion, Colonel?” Frankie’s voice was cold and full of contempt. “I wanted his money. And I didn’t want to share it with the girl. Bancroft had cash stashed all over the world. I wanted to get at the information to lead me to that. I didn’t realise the old bastard was going to drop dead on us.”
“So you weren’t on any CIA mission?” Hannibal’s voice was still dripping with scepticism.
“No, I skipped out on Loyola three years ago, after I found out who I really am. I knew Stockwell was interested in you guys so I had to attach myself to one of you to get inside. So one fake resume later and I’m a special effects man and big pals with the Aquamaniac.” He looked at Hannibal and laughed. “I guess the main thing I’m grateful for Colonel is that at least you’re not a fag. I was worried, you know with the acting thing. I mean I’ll do anything for that money, but can’t say I was looking forward to giving you…”
The punch bounced Frankie’s head off the wall. Blood spurted from his mouth.
Face, having jumped up without his crutches, dropped gracelessly to the floor, cradling the hand he’d struck Frankie with.
“You’re a liar!” he yelled at the dazed Frankie. “Liar!”
“Face…” Hannibal said, helping him back to his feet.
“I won’t listen to this!” Face shouted, hanging onto Hannibal as the Colonel pulled him back over to the bed. “I’m Richard Bancroft!”
“I know, Face, I know,” Hannibal said trying to calm Face. Face grabbed his crutches and got back his feet. He limped out of the room. Hannibal glanced at Frankie. He was shaking his head slowly; blood still dripping from his mouth. But he wasn’t unconscious; he would keep. Hannibal pulled open the drapes and followed Face outside. Murdock and BA were there, had been on their way to investigate the yelling.
“He said what?” BA was saying as Hannibal joined them.
“He said he’s Richard Bancroft, claimed he planted the evidence that suggested Face is.” Hannibal explained. He glanced in through the window, keeping an eye on Frankie, making sure he wasn’t trying to get out of the cuffs.
“That sounds like garbage.” BA said.
“Thank you, BA.” Face said. “Maybe you should tell Hannibal that.”
“What?” Hannibal looked at Face, startled. “You think I believe him?”
“You were listening to him,” Face said, accusingly. “Asking him questions.”
“That doesn’t mean I believe him!” Hannibal protested. “I just wanted to see…” Then he stopped, calmed himself. Face was caught off guard, upset and lashing out, best not to rise to him.
“Face, go get some rest.” Hannibal said. Face glared back at him for a moment, but recognised an order when he heard it. He turned to go, then turned back. “He’s not having my name, Hannibal.”
“I know Face.”
“He’s not having my past.” He hobbled off and into the other motel room, slammed the door behind him. Then he opened it again and shouted. “And he sure as hell isn’t having my sister!” This time the door slammed so hard the wall shook.
Two elderly ladies were walking past at that moment on the way to their room. Hannibal gave a sheepish grin at their shocked expressions and then he turned to Murdock.
“Murdock, you stay with him tonight, see if you can make him get some sleep.”
“Sure thing, Hannibal.”
“Both of you rest. BA and me will watch ‘Richard’.”
“That better be a joke,” BA said, warning in his tone. “Faceman is real upset.”
“I know, BA, I know.” Hannibal said. “Don’t worry, I don’t believe him.”
“Hannibal,” Murdock said. “Can I have the message? The envelope from Stockwell?”
“Sure, Murdock.” Hannibal took it from a pocket and handed it to him. “You have some idea what it’s about?
“Not yet. That’s what I’m going to work on.” He held up the envelope. “This is what we should be concentrating on, Colonel. Frankie is a distraction. Whether he’s deliberately trying to distract us from this or not, I don’t know. But this has to be our priority. Stockwell wanted us to ‘listen to Zephyr’. It has to be important.” He smiled a little. “I mean, he wasn’t exactly known for being a zany prankster.”
“Good point,” Hannibal said nodding. “Let me know if you figure anything out.” Murdock saluted, spun smartly on his heel and marched off next door. BA muttered “Fool,” after him and Hannibal smiled a little.
“Come on, BA, let’s go clean up the weasel before he bleeds all over the rug and they bill us for it.”
Murdock lay on his stomach on the motel room bed, a mass of scrunched up papers and candy bar wrappers all around him and scattered across the floor. By the dim light of the bedside lamp he scribbled in a notebook. Then he sighed, ripped the page off, crushed it into a ball and tossed it across the room. It actually landed in the trashcan.
“Your aim’s improving.”
Murdock turned to look at Face, who was watching him from the other bed.
“Hey.” Murdock said. “Sorry, did I wake you?”
“Yeah, sure Murdock, I was sleeping peacefully having happy dreams about puppies and candy.”
“Ouch. Sarcasm overdose.” Murdock said, grinning. He sat up, cross-legged on the bed, his notebook in his hand.
“Are you getting anywhere with that at all?” Face asked.
“Nope,” Murdock admitted.
“Maybe you should take a break. It’s after midnight.”
“Not tired.” Murdock said with a shrug. “Too much sugar.” He smiled. “Maybe I’ll go next door and talk to Frankie for a while.”
“You think he’ll help you with that?” Face sounded sceptical.
“No,” Murdock said, “but he could keep me amused with a story about how he works for the Illuminati and is on a quest for the Holy Grail.” He was rewarded with a small smile from Face. “And then he’ll come clean that actually he works at Area 51 and is investigating the involvement of the Loch Ness Monster in the Kennedy assassination.” This time Face laughed out loud. Murdock was happy to hear the sound.
“Okay,” Face sat up properly and reached for a glass of water by the bed. “Come on, let’s figure this thing out. How do we ‘listen to Zephyr’?”
Murdock tossed Face a chocolate bar and sat back against the headboard, his notebook in front of him.
“Well, I’m concentrating on the word Zephyr, since that’s what we’re meant to listen to. So the obvious thing is that it’s some kind of code. The simplest code is substituting numbers for letters, which gives us, z, 26, e, 5, p, 16, h, 8, y, 25, r, 18.
“26, 5, 16, 8, 25, 18?” Face reeled off quickly.
“You always had a head for figures.” Murdock said, glancing at him. “That didn’t seem to mean very much. So I wrote down all the digits in those numbers in numerical order.” He grinned. “Which was a little freaky, because that give us…”
Face beat him to it, his head for figures working overtime. “1, 1, 2, 2, 5, 5, 6, 6, 8, 8. Five pairs.” He smiled, seemed be enjoying himself. “That is a little freaky.”
“Yeah,” Murdock said. He was definitely enjoying himself. “Well, Stockwell never liked mess, so let’s eliminate the extra digit in each pair, leaving us 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8.”
“Did you try turning those back into letters?”
“Yeah, that just gives me A B E F and H. I can’t make a word out of those.” He smiled. “Well not a real word.” They both sat silent for a while, eating the candy bars.
“Okay, let’s think about ‘listen to’.” Face said, “See if that gives us a clue. What do we listen to?”
Face rolled his eyes. “Be more specific.”
“Speech. The radio. Music…”
“Music.” Face’s head went up.
“I thought about that already, but aren’t there only seven musical notes? A through G? We have an eight in there.”
“Murdock, there are twelve notes in an octave.” Face said. “Give me that notepad.” He took it from Murdock’s hand and started to write quickly. “Instead of matching the numbers against the alphabet,” he explained, “we could put them against the notes of an octave, that gives us, A, B flat, C sharp, D and E.”
“Face,” Murdock said. “You are a genius! I should kiss you!”
“I knew my piano lessons would come in handy one day,” Face said, very smug. “Now we need something to play these notes on, to see if we’re even remotely on the right track.”
“And I know just where we can get that.” Murdock said. “Put on your best clothes, Face, we’re going to church.”
“Voila,” Face said, as the lock on the door of the wedding chapel gave way to his lock picks.
“Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say ‘viola’?” Murdock said. “Musical theme and all that.”
“Just get inside before a cop comes by.” Face said, pushing Murdock inside. Murdock smiled when he went in. But he wasn’t smiling because he saw the harmonium he hoped would be in the small chapel. He was smiling at the decoration.
“Good grief.” Face said as he stepped in beside Murdock. All the walls around the chapel were covered in murals depicting Elvis Presley. Curtains and wall hangings were printed or embroidered with Elvis. There were stained glass windows high in the walls letting in the quite strong light of the full moon. The window at the head of the chapel was large and colourful, Elvis, larger than life and magnificent in his shining white suit.
“I love it.” Murdock declared. “When I get married I am definitely having my wedding here.”
“And you’ll serve burgers for the wedding breakfast, I suppose.” Face said. “Let’s do this and get out of here.” They went to the harmonium and Face began to noodle around with the notes. He played them in the original order, and that meant nothing.
“Mix ’em up,” Murdock advised, “Jam.”
“Jam?” Face said, incredulous. “Murdock, you idiot, do you know how many potential combinations there are of five notes?”
Murdock looked hurt. “Face,” he said, “Don’t be cruel.”
Face glared at him. “And you can knock that off right now.”
“Knock what off?” Murdock just looked innocent. “C’mon Face, treat me nice.”
“One more Elvis lyric and I’m going back to the motel.” Face warned him.
“I’m sorry, Face.” Murdock said. “Honestly. I’ll be good.” Face looked at him narrowly. Then he sighed and ran his fingers over the keys, trying combinations of the five notes.
“Maybe it’s a bit from a song or something?” Murdock suggested. He grinned. “How spooky would it be if it was something from an Elvis song?”
“Yeah.” Face said sounding distracted. He went over several combinations. As he played he started to get a far away look in his eyes.
“You okay?” Murdock asked, quietly. “You still thinking about Frankie’s stupid story? You were all shook up about it before.”
“Yeah,” Face said again, and then he seemed to snap back to himself. “Did you just say ‘all shook up’?”
“No,” Murdock said. “Jeez, talk about your suspicious minds.” Face glared at him. “Okay,” Murdock held up his hands. “I’m sorry, it’s this place, it’s getting to me. Face, Frankie is lying, we all know that. Hell, Ellen even looks like you.”
“I don’t even know why I’m so bothered about it.” Face said. “It’s not like I want to claim that name. It’s not like I want everyone to start calling me Richard.”
“Which is good, because you just know Hannibal would call you Dick, don’t you?”
Face grimaced at the thought.
“C’mon, Face,” Murdock said, quiet and serious now. “You know it’s not about the name. It’s about knowing who you are, having something to hold onto. Having family.”
Face glanced at him and then away again. “I have a family.” His voice was soft.
“Blood kin, Face. That means something, something important. You and Ellen have a connection you and I can never have. Not better, just different. And important.”
Face nodded slowly. He had told Murdock that although he wanted to get to know Ellen he also didn’t want to drag her into the nightmare that was their lives. So until they were pardoned their contact would be limited.
“It’s not just Ellen.” Face said. “My mother…” They didn’t even know if she was alive or dead. Murdock knew Ellen had promised to send Face anything she found out from her father’s papers and effects, but so far there was nothing. A.J. had effectively erased Samantha and Richard from his life. Being stuck at Langley had meant Face was unable to get out and investigate for himself. That was another thing ‘on the back burner until pardons’. And now the team’s pardons had vanished like morning mist.
Face shook himself. “We have to figure this out, Murdock. It’s now or never.”
“Now you’re doing it.” Murdock said, grinning.
“Sorry,” Face smiled. “I don’t think the music is the right idea though. Let’s go back and see if we can…”
A woman’s voice from behind them interrupted him.
“Put your hands up and turn around slowly.”