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Created by Webmaster on 16 Jul 2011 - 7:55. Pageviews : 2120

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The Letter

THANKS TO GEORGINA PRICE FOR TRANSCRIBING THIS STORY

Colonel Stockwell turned his gaze to the cabin door of his private jet when the two Dobermanns at his feet snapped to attention, suddenly alert. The door slid open, the graceful figure of Carla appeared and the dogs lay down again. Carla smiled sweetly.

"We intercepted this before it got too far" she explained, handing Stockwell a letter. Stockwell saw that it was addressed to the President of the United States and was written in a finely individual hand. He carefully read the paper in front of him.

****

Dear Mr President,

I don't suppose you'll ever get to read this and all, me being Little Johnny Nobody from Rock Bottom Creek, but I felt I had to do something after what happened to me the other week.

I know it aint my place to question the law, and I don't mean no disrespect or anything, but somebody's got to be told the kind of things that are going on, and - hey, I admit it, I'm dumb, my elevator aint no high-speed and it don't always reach the top - but for what it's worth I figure there's got to be something mightly wrong if those four guys they call the A-Team is still on the lam.

About three years ago I was just another good ol' boy who'd finally had enough of drinking mash and talking trash.

One fine day I loaded the pick-up, lit out into the hilles, and within five months I was in high cotton, GOLD, Mr President, sir, and lots of it. Richville County for the first time. Dumb as I am, my momma didn't raise no fool, and I wasn't planning to hoot and holler about the find. I just set to and worked that mine on my own, day in, day out, with only my hound dog for company. Even built myself a little cabin, and taught myself how to play the guitar as I watched my pile grow.

Round three months since, some pistol in a pin-stripe suit made me an offer that was easy to refuse. He kept on and on after me like an outlaw's dog, and when he saw I wasn't about to change my mind, he sent in his muscle. Now I'm too old to roll over for some lard-bellies in Gimme hats with the brains of a pop-up toaster, so I shooed those boys away but good. Nothing came down for a while, and then this old Chinese hobo came by with a fast talker in tow. They told me he was a pool hustler on the dodge who needed a place to lie low. I was still making my mind about them when a big guy turned up with some coot in an airman's jacket. This feller was as agitated as a June bug, an' I was about to rembunction it out with them when the Chinaman whipped off his rug and told me his name was Hannibal Smith.

It meant nothing to me, but when he explained that some guy called Jerome K. Anthony had tried to hire his boys to kill me, I got kinda interested all of a sudden. Seems the A-Team had gone along with it, taken a large advance, and were planning a re-bore on ol' Tony's tangled web machine, kind of settle Anthony's hash for the duration.

Now I don't go along with any kind of conspiracy - daddy told me the word stood for Cliques Of Nobodies Secretly Planning Insidious Rituals Aimed at Controlling You (he never took no water with his drink) - but those boys had me wondering.

Seems Hannibal and Face (he's the guy who was pretending to be a hustler, and believe me, he's sharper than a ferret at a field rat's hole) had checked out this Anthony guy and found out he was some kind of screwball who'd once worked with the military some time ago. Now, BA (he's the big guy, tougher than jailhouse steak) said computer cheeks had Jerome down as some wheel in a Chemical ang Biological Warfare program that got cancelled way back. Murdock (crazy as a loose-shoed canary and hotter than a two-dollar pistol) didn't say much at all, except for mumbling something I couldn't understand about turning gasolene into water, and complaining about the seats from a downtown LA cinema, which he thought were chasing after him.

Anyway, I put the A-Team up, and they were four swell guys. They're colourful, sure, but then so is old Glory. Face and Murdock did some checking up in Houston and Dallas, and Hannibal and BA sniffed around the countryside.

What they came up with near blew my boots through the floor. Hannibal reckoned that Anthony was some kind of political kook who believed that the world was controlled by four men in grey suits who lived in a bunker on the North Pole. Whether he really did believe this or not, that Anthony sure wasn't taking any chances. The dumb polecat was planning to get the world before the world got him. Seems he was stockpiling a whole load of binary shells and bombs, collecting all kinds of viruses and germs and missiles, stuff that could start fatal epidemics all over the world. Man, I aint boasting when I say I know my guns, but I don't know germs from a hole in the ground, and it was only the fact that Hannibal took this whole thing serious that kept me involved. Plus, of course, the fact I had no options.

Well, Mr President, let me tell you - those boys were something else. BA found a wrecked motorcycle in the canyon and in two days it was running sweet enough for Murdock to round up four stray horses with it. I kinda left them to get on with what they were doing, but from what I could pick up on, they had some real hot run-ins with Anthony's private army. They figured that Anthony was after me becuase I was close to breaking through to a series of caves where he kept his stuff. Whatever the truth, they were busy all the time, ducking and diving, probing, planning - man, once BA was on a rope bridge that collapsed, and it was only becuase he hung onto one of the slats that he's alive today. Swung right into the opposite side of the canyon, then climbed up the bridge like it was a ladder.

Course, by now, Anthony had figured what was going down, and a brand new goon squad came for us. I aint exaggerating when I say the way the Team handled those palookas was sheer poetry. It makes my spurs jangle just writing about it. There was the fake accident, when Murdock taught his horse to play dead, the black paint sprayed on the hood's car windows, the knockout gas, the stun grenades, Hannibal's disguise, the threat about the delayed-action convulsant - man, the only thing not nailed flat to the floor when they left was the tar and feathers on the Caddy.

Meanwhile, Face had bored a tiny hole through to their underground headquarters and BA rigged a gizmo that could read their computer screens. He told me later it was a directional antenna with an antenna amplifier and some electronic spare parts. We crowded round that little old black and white screen, and what we saw made me kinda nervous. We saw weapons I never dreamed of, things that used to only be in comic books, rays and beams of all sorts, then BA tuned into some drawings that were building plans for what Hannibal said was a Typhoon Class nuclear powered submarine - the biggest in the world. Hannibal reckons there are less than ten operational, and I know it aint my place to say it, but I reckon ten is plenty enough. I expect you know this already, but they're as big as a small aircraft carrier - double hulled whales weighing 25,000 tons, with a crew of 150 and 20 ballistic missiles each with a range of 4,800 miles.

By now I was getting worried. I didn't want to get mixed up in anything that would harm my country and the Team all seemed like regular guys, but I figured this barrel of rattlers was too big for any four guys, no matter how hot they cooked their pastrami. I took my truck and my hound, drove into town and went to the sheriff's office. They had some new deputy in charge, and he listened to what I had to say, rang some dude about a message for a Colonel Stockwell, then told me everything would be taken care of. I bought this for a while, but when I saw the way BA looked at me when I got back I wasn't too sure. The big guy acted like he knew something I didn't, but at least he seemed to understand where I was coming from.

They went into action that night, BA cut into their computers and sent a large part of Anthony's army on a wild goose chase halfway across the desert. Face, Hannibal and Murdock took out the guards at the entrance, and they got past the electronic sensors by firing a crossbow with a line on the bolt into a door, then handwalking the line like a troupe of French acrobats. BA rigged a few electric locks, and while Face and Murdock laid charges, Hannibal jazzed some crazy bull-headed stunt that got all the people into one room at one time. Everybody got taken outside, and when the Team made off on horseback half that dangled mountain went up into the kind of firework party that would have shook the fourth of July.

Man, I can still see it now, and hear it, as the thousands of tons of rocks buried those doodads forever. And when the Team called by and told me a guy named Stockwell might be around, well, I loaded up the truck and hit the road. Heck, I might as well tell you I even blew my own mine to stop them getting in that way. I aint no agitator or nothing, Mr President, but this is our one and only world we're talking here.

I don't know if I did right or wrong, Mr President, but I got to say I don't have no regrets. I haven't read nothing in no newspapers so I'm still none the wiser about what exactly was going on. I never meant nobody no harm, least of all the military, but it wasn't as if I was dudin' up and strutting out, shooting the bull all over town. I was just another maverick minding his own business until old Anthony started messing with me. Shoot, without the A-Team I probably wouldn't be writing this now. Those guys may be wanted by the law, Mr President, but believe me, they're Americans all right. As old Murdock said to me as he rode into the sunset: "A realist lets circumstances decide which end of the telescope to look through".

Anyway, sir, thank you for your time and I hope things work out for all of us.

Yours respectfully,
Shane-Bruce Perelman III.

****

Stockwell dropped the letter on his lap and drummed his fingers idly on the arm rest of his chair. Carla hesitated.

"Well?" she asked, after a long pause. Stockwell picked up the letter, glanced over it briefly then handed it back. His voice seemed distracted.

"Burn it".


THE END

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