Summary: The team give Mrs Baracus a lift.
Disclaimer: I don't own the A-Team. I don't make any money from this.
It would only be a short diversion, BA said. They were in Illinois anyway, he might as well take the chance to drop in to Chicago and visit his mother. And did anyone want to argue about it? He didn't think so.
They parked the van well away from Mrs Baracus's home, just in case of prying eyes, and sneaked into the building by the back door, glad to be out of the chilly air. Wisps of fog followed them inside.
"I see they got those skylights in the lobby," Hannibal said as they climbed the stairs. He elbowed Murdock in the ribs, provoking a smirk. Murdock took a yo-yo from his pocket and spoke in an odd pausing diction.
"You just have a knack of knowing the right way to ask, mom."
"Oh, I can’t take all the credit, HM," Hannibal said, in his Mrs Murdock voice. "You were such a help, my clever boy."
"Knock it off!" Face shuddered. "You know that totally freaks me out."
They reached Mrs Baracus's door and Face knocked.
"I hope she's home," he said. "Maybe we should have called first."
But a moment later the door opened and Mrs Baracus cried out with delight at the sight of her son.
"Sorry to drop in with no warnin', Mama," BA said after they all came inside. "We was just in the area."
"Don't ever apologise for surprising me like this, Scooter." She kissed his cheek. "You're always welcome, all of you. Now let me make you some coffee to take the chill of you all. Scooter, I'll warm some milk for you." She bustled into the kitchen. "I don't think I have much in for you to eat."
"Aw, Mama, you don't have to feed us."
"Speak for yourself," Murdock said. "I haven't had an apple pie that compares with your mama's since I was a little boy."
"Well, I'll have to see what I can do, Murdock."
"Are you going away somewhere, ma'am?" Hannibal said, making the others look around to see a suitcase in the living room, with a large purse resting beside it.
"Not any more. I was going to a wedding. Your cousin Elroy, Scooter, the one who lives in Portland."
"He's getting married? Man, there's hope for anyone if someone as ugly and crazy as him can find a wife."
"Now, Scooter, don't be like that. Just because he didn't inherit the family good looks the way you did, there's no call to be mean."
"Sorry, Mama. So how come you ain't going?"
"They cancelled all the flights because of the fog. No sign of it letting up." She sighed. "I thought I could try to catch a train instead, but they're all full. It just doesn't look as if I'll make it."
"When's the wedding?" BA asked.
"The day after tomorrow."
BA looked at his watch, said "Portland" slowly, then smiled. "Yeah. We can make it. We'll take you, Mama."
"Er, BA," Face said. "That's kind of a longer diversion than we had planned." When BA scowled, he held up his hands. "And hey, that's fine by me. I was just thinking I've never been to Portland."
"Well, Scooter, if you're sure. It's a long way for you to go. But I really would hate to miss it."
"So would I," BA said. "I missed too many of these things."
They were silent for a moment, then Mrs Baracus turned away to start laying out cups and saucers on the counter, along with a plate of cookies.
"We'll have to go right away," BA said. He looked at Hannibal for a moment, a different look than the scowl he'd given Face. Not asking exactly, just checking.
"Sounds good to me," Hannibal said and BA relaxed. "Soon as we finish up our coffee."
"Well, I'm sure that gives me time to make some sandwiches for the trip."
Anyone watching outside would have had a hard time spotting the team and Mrs Baracus leaving 700 Foster Avenue. BA led the way, through the fog-muffled streets, his mother's arm in his. Murdock carried Mrs Baracus's suitcase and Face carried a picnic basket, full of goodies from her kitchen. Hannibal brought up the rear, making his own foggy cloud with the cigar he was trying to finish quickly before they got in the van.
A block away, they found the van where they'd left it and Face opened the side door to usher in Mrs Baracus. Hannibal headed for his front seat as usual and Murdock was about to follow Face into the side door, when BA slapped a hand on his shoulder.
"I said you drive, fool." He held out the keys to Murdock, who took them and stared, as if BA had just handed him the Holy Grail. "They didn't take your licence away for being crazy did they?"
"Not that one," Murdock said, still staring at the keys.
"Come on, we ain't got all day." BA scowled at Murdock, who came back to his senses and grinned.
"Great. You know how I love to drive this van."
BA growled and then muttered "Jus' be careful."
"I always am." He actually skipped around to the driver's door, while BA climbed into the back.
Murdock had to drive slow leaving Chicago, with its thick blanket of fog, but once they cleared that and got onto the interstate, they made good time. And they had a good time. Mrs Baracus kept them all fed with the contents of the picnic basket, and kept them amused with stories of little Scooter, that made him cringe and say, "Aw, Mama, they can't hear that!"
Stopping only for gas and bathroom breaks, they drove on through into the evening. Murdock was happy to stay at the wheel, despite offers to spell him from Face and Hannibal. No such offers came from BA.
Close to midnight, the van finally stopped at a motel, well away from any towns. Just a lonely collection of buildings at the side of the road, trucks and cars parked around the motel and gas station and diner. After the long day on the road, the team and Mrs Baracus slept like the dead.
"Face, you drive."
BA handed the keys to Face, who gave him the same blank stare as Murdock had yesterday.
"Ah, are you sure?"
"I wouldn't be saying it if I wasn't sure, would I?"
Face just shrugged and pocketed the keys. Hannibal, Mrs Baracus and Murdock came out of the diner carrying paper bags.
"We bought some take out for lunch and dinner," Hannibal said. "Let's try and stop only for gas again." He smirked around at his men. "Now, did everyone remember to 'go'?"
"Did we get enough food?" Mrs Baracus said, "I don't want you boys going hungry."
"With you around, Mrs B, I think that's unlikely," Murdock said, while loading the food into the van. "We've still got stuff in that picnic basket. Which must mean it's a magical picnic basket, because I'm pretty sure I never stopped eating once yesterday."
"You have to keep your strength up."
"I'll be as strong as Scooter at this rate."
BA snorted. "In your dreams, fool. Get in the van. We burning daylight."
They almost staggered from the van at another motel, just after eleven that night. Between Face, Hannibal and Murdock taking shifts at the wheel, and only a few breaks for gas, they'd covered hundreds of miles.
"You know, we could go on overnight," Face said, "or we'll be cutting it pretty fine tomorrow. If we hit traffic..."
"My Mama ain't sleeping in the van," BA said. "It ain't comfortable."
"Well we sleep in the van all the time," Murdock said, "you never worry about our comfort."
"You ain't ladies."
Murdock started giggling and spoke to Hannibal in the yo-yo voice again. "Do you hear that, mom? He said you're not a lady."
"Oh my," 'Mrs Murdock' said. "HM, I may have to ask you to thrash this brute."
"Quit it." BA turned to help his mother down out of the van. "Go get us three rooms, Face."
"You heard the man," Hannibal said to Face.
Face looked between the two of them, shrugged, then hurried off to the office.
"I'm sure we'll make it tomorrow," Murdock said, in a reassuring voice. "Of course if our best driver was at the wheel..."
"Don't worry," Hannibal said. "He will be."
"My turn." Hannibal rattled the van keys as they all emerged from their rooms early the next morning.
"I thought you said our best driver would be at the wheel," Murdock said.
"And you're suggesting I'm not the best driver?"
A rumbling sound from BA made Hannibal turn to him, a speculative look on his face.
"Did you say something, BA?"
BA looked torn for a moment, but then shook his head. "No. Come on, we shoulda been gone an hour ago."
Face and Murdock exchanged an entirely baffled look and climbed aboard, while Hannibal took the driver's seat, and lit up a cigar.
"Driver's privilege," he said, when BA glared at him. "Unless of course..."
"It's fine. Let's go."
They made it, with barely half an hour to spare to give Mrs Baracus and BA time to get ready to join their family. The wedding began at two, and they arrived at one-thirty just around the corner from the church.
Mrs Baracus climbed out of the van, in a flowery print, pale yellow and green dress. She adjusted a white straw hat with a green ribbon.
"Thank you, boys, so much," she said to the team. "Days like this, you can't get them back if you miss them."
"You're welcome, ma'am," Hannibal said. "Enjoy yourself. And, BA, be careful. Don't stay too long."
"I know, man," BA said. "Where you guys going?"
"We'll go get some lunch. I saw a diner round the corner. See you there."
"Okay." BA sighed, but then smiled and offered his mother his arm. Mother and son walked down the street towards a church. The rest of the team watched them go, until they were out of sight, then Hannibal clapped his hands.
"Okay, lunch!" He rattled the van keys. "Who wants to drive?"
Face grabbed the keys, walked over to the curb, and held them dangling over a storm drain.
"We walk. Or I drop them right now."
Hannibal chuckled. "I suppose a stroll will work up an appetite."
"Okay, so what the hell was all that about?" Face said, as they waited for their order in the diner. "The last time I drove the van that much, BA had a bullet in him."
"Yeah," Murdock agreed, building a tower with the napkin dispenser and the ketchup bottle. "I should have brought my driving gloves."
"You don't have any driving gloves," Face said.
"I could have driving gloves." Murdock made a flag from a torn of piece of paper napkin and fixed it to the peak of his tower. "Hey, I hope BA brings us back some wedding cake!"
"You know," Hannibal said. "Mrs Baracus and me are about the same age. Same generation."
Face and Murdock exchanged a look.
"I hope you're not thinking of dating her," Face said. "Because there's not enough tranquilliser in the world to keep BA from killing you."
Hannibal smiled. "No. After all, she was a client, and you know the rule about clients."
"Yeah, Face, you know the rule about clients," Murdock said.
"Who said he was talking to me?" Face scowled at Murdock.
"Did I ever tell you about my friend Cal?" Hannibal said.
"What?" Face turned to him, baffled at the sudden change in subject.
"I knew him from when I was ten, I think. His family had a lot of money. His father was a smart guy, did real well. But a local boy, who never forgot where he came from, you know. Never got stuck up, or forgot his roots."
"Er... that's nice," Face said. Murdock started to dismantle his tower, watching Hannibal intently.
"Cal used to come over to play with me, and we were a good way out of town, so his folks sent him over in a chauffeur driven car. Beautiful machine. Anyway, I think in the time I knew him, back home, before we went to college, the family had three different chauffeurs."
He paused for a moment, thoughtful, then nodded and went on. "First there was Henry. Old guy. Seemed ancient to us, and I guess he was pretty ancient. He said his grandmother used to tell him stories about the Civil War, so yeah, I guess he must have been pretty old." He laughed.
"So Henry retired and then there was Marcus for a couple of years. Young guy. Full of get up and go. Eventually he saved up enough and got up and went to New York, to seek his fortune as they used to say. Did pretty well, from what we heard. Then the last guy --"
Hannibal stopped as the waitress arrived with their food. After she left, Murdock nodded at him, passing him the ketchup for his burger.
"Yeah, the third one," Face said. "What about him?"
"Mr Carter. We called him Mister, I guess Cal's parents probably just called him Carter, but he had a kind of air about him that made us boys call him Mr Carter, you know. He was the chauffeur until Cal and me both left home for college." He chuckled. "And he had some very valuable advice for a couple of naïve country boys about to leave home for the first time He had a son who died in Korea. I never met him. Not over there, I mean."
Hannibal stopped his tale and poured his ketchup. Seeing he seemed to be finished, Face spoke up.
"Ah, Hannibal, you know, as much as I enjoyed that little stroll down memory lane, what the hell did it have to do with... well anything?"
Hannibal ate a couple of fries, then looked at Face and Murdock, their puzzled, but intrigued expressions.
"Because, those three men, Henry, Marcus and Mr Carter, all three of them were black." He paused, but neither Face nor Murdock spoke. "Back when I was a boy, and Mrs Baracus was a girl, chauffeuring was considered a pretty good job." He left the rest unsaid and Murdock completed the thought.
"For a Negro." He used the old fashioned word deliberately, Hannibal knew. Understood.
The three of them sat quiet for a few minutes, eating slowly. After a while, Face broke the silence.
"Do you think Mrs Baracus actually believes BA is the leader of the A-Team?"
"No," Hannibal said.
"But he doesn't want her to think he's just the driver either."
Face took the van keys out of his pocket and put them on the table.
"So, who's taking the first shift on the return trip?"
I'm still a bit unsatisfied with this, in a non-specific way. It feels like it needs more punch. Should I try to make it funnier? Should there be less telling and expand some of the narrative bits into scenes? It's got a pretty distant POV, should it be limited and closer to one of the characters? If so who? All suggestions welcome.