Life at the V.A.
So this story is Murdock's life at the V.A. But not from his perspective but the staff.
Cindy started her morning rounds. She went room to room on the A ward, which in the V.A. were the most independent of the patients. She passed out her medications with out really interacting with anyone. That was until she hit room 106. That was H.M. Murdock's room. He was a special case for her. She actually looked forward to seeing him every day. Well she looked forward to seeing him. He wasn't always there. He had a knack at disappearing and really no one asked where he had gone or why he was gone. But he would vanish and then return and smile and make the staff laugh until he was gone again. She had found herself lingering longer with him when she had a problem. She would talk to him about her life. He would listen intently and his large brown eyes would make her feel like he was her best friend. Sometimes he would speak to her in a funny accent but mostly he would talk to her in his southern drawl. Murdock was from Texas. When he was really paying attention to you and being himself his Texan twang was undeniable.
She entered his room and to her surprise he was still in bed. Usually he would be up at first dawn's light. He had an amazing amount of energy. She most days found him playing video games or reading. But this morning he was still curled up in his bed, blanket pulled all the way over his head. She really only knew he was there because his leather jacket was hanging on its hook. If Murdock was gone so was his jacket.
She knocked loudly on the inside of his door. He slowly unburied himself from the blankets. She could see he looked tired. But he saw her and smiled warmly.
"Cindy my nightingale how ya doing Chicka?" He asked as he stretched leisurely. He looked at her and when he noticed her lack of response he jumped out of bed. He was still fully dressed minus his sneakers.
"You alright there little lady?" He asked
"Yea I am just stressing a bit.. got a leak in my roof and Don't know how I will pay for it."She found the words tumbling out under the gaze his dark eyes
He smiled at her and said "Hang in there. Billy's a good roofer. Maybe he could fix it for ya." He smiled and winked. She laughed lightly and walked out of his room.
As soon as Cindy had left he jumped on his phone and called Face. Face answered the phone sleep still in his voice.
"Hey Face remember that favor I did you?"Murdock said as soon as his friend answered
"What what are you talking about Murdock?"
"Come on Face the girl, the limo me covering your behind with the Colonel." Murdock said with a bit of force in his voice. Face woke up completely and remembered exactly what his friend was talking about.
"I'm calling in my favor."
"It' s 7:30 in the morning Murdock couldn't this have waited?"Face said a bit of whine entering his voice.
"Nope I need your help. All I need is an address and an a escape." Murdock said his grin wild
"Dammit OK give me the name and I will get you in two hours. But then we're square! Right!"
"Absolutely Face oh and I will need roofing supplies too." Murdock said with a laugh
"Care to fill me in buddy? Does Billy need a dog house?"
"Nope I will take care of it, just get me what I need." He gave his friend Cindy's full name and about a half hour later Face called him back with the address. Murdock's plan was on.
Cindy spent her shift lost in her thought about how she was going to fix her roof. The leak was in her living room and it was getting worse. She went back to the nurses station when she was paged. The head nurse told her she had a phone call. Cindy apologized for the personal call. It was her neighbor asking if she was supposed to have workers at her house. "What are they doing?"
"Well there's two of em and they are on your roof. But I thought I would call because they don't have a truck with a company name on it just a black van."
Cindy almost told her to call the police but then remembered the sly smile and wink from her patient. All the V.A employees had been briefed on Murdock's friends. The A-Team was reported to have a black van. She thanked her neighbor and told her and said she had hired a roofing company but didn't think they were coming till the next day. She hung up and headed to the Captains room. She wasn't surprised to find it empty. When her shift ended she went home to find no one there but it was obvious that work had been done. She also found a note stuck in her door. "Billy is a great roofer." She took the note and hugged it to her chest. Unbelieving that a patient in a mental ward had done this for her. She knew there would be no talk of it. Even if she asked him he wouldn't admit he had any thing to do with it. She just went in the house and tried to bake him something to show her appreciation.
Mid shift staff. Two weeks later.
Jackson was starting his shift. He had been informed that Capt. Murdock was back and being a bit difficult. Murdock didn't want to be bothered and was making it obvious to the staff. He was very familiar with the patient in 106. They talked a lot when the lanky man was around and being normal. Jackson had always wanted to be a pilot. And he had mentioned it to the Captain one day. Since then Murdock would answer any of his questions and give him tips on how to study for his pilots license. Jackson felt pretty lucky to get any advice from the highly decorated man. He had been in the Thunderbirds . Jackson had also snooped a bit into the Captain's file and learned just how great he was.
He walked in room 106 and heard Murdock arguing with "BILLY" his dog. "Get Down Billy that's enough, don't growl at Jackson he's a good guy he wants to be a fly boy just like me." Murdock smiled and ran his hands through his hair. "Hows the studying going there Muchacho?"
"Its hard man, I just cant get some of the mechanics from a book. I think I need to spend more time in an actual plane" Murdock nodded
"You and me both " He laughed. "I can teach ya. When is your next day off?"
"Come on Murdock we both know you can't be my instructor. Where are you gonna get a plane from?"
"When is your next day off?" Murdock eyes were so serious that Jackson couldn't fight the belief that he was being honest.
"Saturday, but really Murdock I want to learn how to fly helicopters not imaginary planes."Jackson went to leave the room and before he could blink he was standing face to face with the other man.
"You go to a little town about 20 miles from here. Badrock, lets say 2 o'clock that sound like a good time to be there?" Murdock said as he blocked the door. His voice had dropped to a secretive pitch.
"Yea that sounds good." still humoring the man in front of him .
"It's a date then.. I will show you how to fly backwards and forwards. Maybe even some barrel rolls and a loopty loop. I guarantee you will pass your test." Murdock stepped away from the door to let the nurse pass.
The next day Jackson was getting ready for work when his phone rang. He answered it to hear an unfamiliar voice.
"Jackson ?" the female voice asked
"My name is Maggie Sullivan I am calling you to make sure you are going to be here Saturday at 2. We have a helicopter waiting for your lesson."
"You can't be serious..how did you get this number."
"We have a mutual friend who called me and said you need flying lessons" she continued and gave him directions to the town. He hung up and didn't know how to proceed. He needed to talk to Murdock.
He got the hospital only to find Murdock was once again gone. He was informed that Murdock was on a 4 day pass granted by Dr. Richter to a retreat in the mountains. He wasn't due back till Sunday. Jackson decided that if anything he would drive to Badrock and see if what he had been told was true. If nothing else it would be a nice road trip. He passed Murdock's room to find a note tucked in his door.
It was addressed to him. He grabbed it and read it. In Murdock's handwriting was 3 words. " See you Saturday"at the bottom was a elegantly drawn helicopter. He pocketed the note and walked on.
Saturday Jackson followed the directions to Badrock. It was just a little town. He pulled up in front of the address he was given. It was a Doctor's house. There were 2 vehicles parked in front. A white corvette with a red stripe and a old Malibu. He pulled up and got out of his car. He spotted a familiar figure approaching from the house. Murdock was walking towards him. His hands in his pockets. He joined Jackson by the car.
"Ready for your lesson? We are going up there.!" Murdock wiggled his eyebrows and pointed to the sky.
"I didn't believe it when you said it. Murdock where did you get a helicopter?"
"Details Details. Don't worry I got one" Murdock's maniac grin was in full effect. Jackson couldn't help but laugh as Murdock directed him down the street. People would wave to him and call his name. He would tip his hat at the ladies and wave to the men. Jackson always thought there was more to the man when he dealt with him at the VA but seeing how the whole town here knew him he was positive that he was correct. The two men approached a chopper sitting in an open clearing.
Murdock turned to Jackson and told him "I'll fly first show you what you need to know and then I'll land and let you take the controls." His face was animated. He was so different than Jackson had ever seen. He had an air of confidence about him that Jackson couldn't help but trust. No crazy talk , no imaginary friends. He climbed into the passenger side of the copter and watched everything Murdock did. Murdock explained everything he was doing. He stopped the Captain to ask questions and Murdock patiently answered them .He did it in a way that was easy to understand. He also never seemed irritated by Jackson's questions. Finally they took off. Murdock did let out his customary howl. Murdock took the copter over the town and talked to Jackson the whole time about his experiences and then showed a few of his tricks. He brought the copter about 6 inches off the ground and ran it sideways. He told the rookie about the math involved and how to gauge winds. He also brought it to almost a straight incline. Not something easily done with a copter. A jet maybe but Murdock made it look easy. Jackson looked at his patient in amazement. He learned more from the quick 20 minute lesson then he had learned in the last 6 months. Finally Murdock looked at him and asked if he was ready. He nodded and Murdock returned to their take off spot. They changed spots and Jackson took a deep breath. He was a little scared. Murdock smiled at him and told him how to handle the stick. "Just picture a video game, you play those Right? Its just like that." Murdock told the story about how a friend of his had landed a passenger jet with no experience.
"I was there but unable to fly but I talked him in and we are still here. So if Hannibal can do that you so can do this. I'm right here just relax." He smiled reassuringly.
Jackson was gonna ask if Murdock was being serious but then he remembered a few months before where a jet had crashed into LAX. Murdock had returned the next day with obvious facial injures .He didn't say anything but it was obvious that his eyesight was compromised. Jackson couldn't help but wonder if that was the story he was hearing.
Jackson took the chopper up. Murdock corrected him a bit on his form. Jackson was tense but then took a deep breath and followed the pilots advice. Before he realized it he was flying the copter like it was second skin. Murdock told him more that he would need to know for his license. They flew for about 30 minutes . Then as much as Jackson didn't want to it was time to return to the ground. Murdock talked him through the landing and then they were on the ground. When they got out and walked away from the bird Jackson grabbed Murdock and thanked him. Murdock shook off it off and told him he was happy to help. They arrived back at Maggie's and went their separate ways. Jackson saw a gray haired man and a women on the porch. Both figures waved at Murdock and he bounded up the steps to greet them. Jackson headed back to LA.
Jackson was on shift a few days later. He went to Murdock's room and was happy to see that he was there. He knocked and Murdock waved at him from behind his video game.
" I got it Murdock, I got my license!" Jackson exclaimed. Murdock smiled but then a sad look passed over his face. As quick it was there it was gone. Murdock smacked the nurse on the back and told him he never had any doubt.
" I can't thank you enough."
"I was happy to help. Just remember to relax and if you ever buy your own bird let me know."
Murdock was happy the younger man had achieved his goal but couldn't help but feel a little sad. He missed his license. He had worked hard for it.
"Oh one more thing you don't ever mention where I brought you or that I helped. Ya know us pilots have to have our secrets."
"Yep" then they shook hands and howled.
Pete was mad. His car had broken down again. He was late to work and was facing a major repair bill. He didn't even know if the car was gonna start to get him home that night. He was checking on patients and noticed that Captain Murdock was still awake. He needed to vent and Murdock was always a sympathetic ear. For being insane he gave good advice.
"Hey there Pete." Murdock said as the man entered his room. He was sitting Indian style on his bed watching an old movie.
"Hi Mr. Murdock how are you tonight?" Pate said as he walked over to the bed.
"Now come on MR. Murdock is my father , just call me Murdock." the pilot grinned from his spot. Never taking his eyes off the TV. But also making Pete feel he had his undivided attention.
"Having a bad day Murdock. Damn car is on the fritz again. I think I may have to get a new one."
"Awe man I love your 53 caddy. Have a friend that got us one in the jungle of Nam..Sweet ride of coarse I prefer things with wings."Murdock looked at the orderly and asked him what it was doing.
Pete told him and suddenly Murdock was off his bed grabbing his coat and ball cap and pulling the man out of his room.
"I know what's wrong you got tools? Don't let some grease monkey try to sell ya a bunch of parts He's probably just trying to just get ya to sell him your car." Pete had a tool box in the trunk. He kept them in there since it was an older car and always breaking down.
It was late and no one was on the floor . So Pete went with Murdock to see just what the captain was gonna do. Murdock let him lead to the car. He asked for a flash light and had Pete pop the hood. Pete did and Murdock stuck his head under the open hood. He fiddled around and then asked Pete to start her up. The car tried to start but failed. Murdock straitened up and went to tool box. He grabbed a screwdriver and headed back under the hood. He was there for a minute or two before he popped back out and told Pete to try to start the car again. The car hesitated for a second and then roared to life. Pete was flabbergasted. The car had only started before for him with the aid of starting fluid. Murdock closed the hood and smiled at the other man. He tossed the screw driver in the air and caught it easily. He walked back to the trunk and replaced the flashlight and screwdriver to the toolbox.
"You carburetor is going. I adjusted but its gonna need to be rebuilt. I have a guy who is a wiz when it comes to anything with an engine. I'll give him a call and see if he will take a look at it for you." Murdock turned and headed back towards the building. Pete sat in his car from a moment and watched his retreating frame. By the time he got back in the building Murdock had already returned to his room stripped off his jacket and laid down . He smiled again at the orderly and promised to contact his mechanic and see what could be done.
A few days later Pete returned to the night shift and Murdock was in his room reading . Pete popped his head in the room. 'Hey Murdock the car still running thanks a lot man."
Murdock looked up and nodded. He handed Pete a slip of paper with instructions. He didn't say anything just laid back down. The note was in Murdock's handwriting it gave an address , a day and a time,orders to leave the car with the keys in the glove box and then come back in 2 hours. Pete followed the instructions and went he went back to pick up his car he found a fine tuned machine waiting for him .He had owned that car for a few years and had never heard it run so well. He couldn't get over the change in the engine. He drove directly to the VA and went to thank the captain. He was dismayed to find Murdock gone again. He wished he knew what that man was hiding. But he knew Murdock would be back and he would have a chance to thank him.
Murdock jumped in the van and went to speak. He was quickly silenced by BA . "FOOL you promised if I fixed your friends car that you wouldn't start any of your Jibber Jabber for 3 whole days. Murdock sat back in his seat and did the zipper motion over his lips and threw away the "Key." As the van drove off BA smirked and Face and Hannibal laughed . Murdock just sat with his hand covering his mouth,mirth obvious in his dark eyes.
The three VA staff members never spoke of the help their "Patient" gave them but each of them felt that they had been lucky to met him and kept their experiences close in their hearts. He was considered a friend to all of them.