Murdock stretched out his hand and spread his fingers. He pursed his lips and remained in this posture for a second before he started to speak.
"You know Colonel, Dr. Richter calls it transference and idealization. He says it can lead to serious emotionalized hero worship, really intense. Although people know it is totally absurd, they still feel that way. He says it happens more often to people who were deprived in their childhood, because they still search for a person who is able to protect them."
Hannibal seemed to sink deeper and deeper into the couch, with every word Murdock was speaking. He stared at his own feet and said nothing for a while. Then the door swung open and Face entered. Murdock jumped up and took the man by his arm, while observing Hannibal, who didn't make a move. "Er, Facey let's go upstairs." He dragged an extremely sad and lonely looking Lieutenant to the staircase.
"For a long time I thought the Jungle of Vietnam was the ultimate hell", Hannibal began.
"It was, man", B.A. murmured.
"I think there was something more terrifying to me", Hannibal answered. "It was my mother. My mother and the alcohol she drank. She was drunk and smelled of wine. She beat me, until I would crouch down to the floor. At that point she would start crying and trying to lift me up, but wouldn't get it. So she would lay down beside me and hug me and tell me she loves me. I was a boy, I couldn't understand any of this. I hated my mother long time for that. I hated myself for letting it happen again and again. Until now, I don't know." He paused. "I only know I hate it, if people first mess with me and then say they love me, it wasn't meant that way. No one is messing with John Smith."
Hannibal, B.A. and Amy sat there in silence for a while.
"Nam was hell", Hannibal added. "But at least it was a hell I was in control of." Hannibal rose from the couch, not the first time this evening and stepped out of the house.
"That was kinda surprising", Amy murmured.
"Not really mama, not really", the big black man sighed.
"What do you mean?"
"I know Hannibal for years. He knows my mother, he knows Father Magill, Murdock has told him about his grandparents, but no one of us ever heard something about his childhood. I knew something was wrong, man." B. A. clenched his ringed fist. "Damn."
Hannibal sat at Amy's Veranda and lost track of time. He didn't know how long he was sitting there, pictures of his late mother flashing through his mind: pictures of her looking beautiful and smiling at him broadly, pictures of her sobbing on the couch, pictures of her sitting in her nightgown at the kitchen table, drinking wine, pictures of her face distorted from rage about him, pictures of her face all wet with tears, begging him to get up.
And there was that one picture, he had enclosed in the last corner of his sharp brain since then. It was the picture of his mother's face, coming nearer. He could still smell her alcohol breath and her perfume. She came nearer and kissed him on his mouth in a way, he instantly knew, was not appropriate. Still it made him sick. He felt the pain of all the self-hatred that he never entirely overcame rising in him.
Suddenly Face came out of the house and paused beside the bench on which Hannibal was sitting. That brought him back into reality, although he felt so distant, he could not move to face the Lieutenant.
"I'm not your father, Peck", he said, looking straight ahead. "And I also cannot replace the love you wanted from Lesley."
The Lieutenant exhaled. "I know, but was it necessary to punch me?"
Hannibal said nothing and Face went back into the house again. He recalled what Amy had just told him about Hannibal's childhood. Now things made sense to him. Although Hannibal was handsome, he never seemed too interested in women. As far as Face could remember there was only Maggie Sullivan, the tough ex-Army and Doctor, who was the only woman, who caught his interest and probably some feelings, since Vietnam. Of cause there was Anne Sanders, the firefighter, but it was not even a real fling, Face resumed. And there has been Karen. Face knew about Karen. So Hannibal is interested in strong women, he reasoned. It came as a bit of a surprise to him, regarding his mostly patronizing and macho behaviour towards women in general and Amy in particular.
Face's disappointment about his Colonel and best friend did not vanished entirely, but he realised it was getting smaller, while understanding and compassion where growing in him. He knew what it meant to get ultimately disappointed by one's own parents. The Lieutenant inhaled deeply. He guessed the feelings he still had for that man would disappear with time. He saw his Colonel in a different light now, human, vulnerable.
Hannibal was still sitting on the veranda. He pondered about what else he could have said or might say to Face. But nothing came to his mind, except that no one ever can take the pain or sorrow from you. And that was something he would never tell the younger man. He thought Face was still searching for that someone. And Hannibal thought it was better to hope and to search instead of exclusively trusting oneself and no one else.