Face and BA would of been 21/22, Hannibal 35 and Murdock about 28 in 1972.
I own no rights to the A-Team just borrowing the characters for my first attempt at writing.
I don't have enough words to thank my incredible beta SweetWritingIsMyLife. She has picked up many many of my mistakes and being dyslexic means I make plenty. Metaphorical flowers and chocolates being sent to her as well as gratitude for helping beat my dubious spelling into submission.
Unhappy, Kelly rode across the ranch. She'd been full of enthusiasm when starting this adventure. A country girl from England, who secured a job on the ranch in Lompoc. Her excitement after being told by the employing agent she would be working for an undisclosed movie star, quickly faded.
Soon after arrival, she found herself in the company of eight other students, all wanting to live the dream. Yet they were left alone to manage the thousand acre ranch. Apart from the weekly arrival of the store truck, they never actually saw anyone.
Over the first three weeks the other staff left. Kelly waved goodbye to the last girl the day before. Determined to not give up on her American dream, she wondered if she could stay on her own for the summer. The agent probably only wanted someone living there, the cattle and horses pretty much looked after themselves. She could earn enough to at least visit New York and see about picking up work there. Feeling slightly cheerier, she reached the far fence by late morning and started to track along its epic expanse.
In the desolate open pasture, sat below the forest edge, she saw the problem long before reaching the young steer. The distraught animal had his horns firmly tangled in the wire. briefly thrashing its legs weakly, as she approached. Jumping off the pinto, affectionately named Fred, Kelly got to work. Binding the animals legs close to its hooves and tying a rag around his head, sealing off the trapped animals sight, so it calmed. Returning to her saddle bags and pulling out the wire cutters. Quickly finding she didn't have the strength to cut the wire. Battling for an hour, until her hands were red and bruised.
Sitting dejectedly beside the subdued animal, eating her lunch, while crying silent tears. It would take her the rest of the day to ride back to the ranch and call the neighbours for help. Even if they agreed they wouldn't reach the steer until tomorrow afternoon. Basically signing a death warrant for the animal. Not willing to accept this option, she wouldn't conform to being a feeble female.
Energy restored by the self pitying lunch she tried again. But hands couldn't meet the strength of internal determination. Using her knees on the wire cutters, quickly realising her jeans offered no protection. The lever, made out of stones, failed too.
Four hours and endless angry tears later, she realised she'd have to leave the steer to its fate. Cursing at not even having a gun to make the animal’s suffering end. She half smiled, with no clue how to use one, she'd probably shoot herself rather than the steer.
In pure frustration she threw her head back and screamed. Only stopping to listen to the sound of her anger echoing around the pasture and forest. Fred suddenly looked towards the forest. Scanning to see what had alerted the horse's sharper senses. Out the corner of her eye she caught a slight movement, through the surrounding tree line. Instinctively reaching for the horse's reins, wondering if there are wolves and bears in this part of America. She breathed a sigh of relief on realising it was a group of men. Climbing onto Fred for safety, she watched what could only be described as three wild men approached.
Did they have tramps in America or should she call them hobos? It was two white men and a black man, who'd obviously once been a mountain of a man but it was as if someone had sucked half his insides out. His skin and tatty clothes hung off his broad shoulders. The men's faces were obscured by untidy beards, their clothes threadbare and what was left of their shoes bound to their feet with string.
Well if they try and attack me, Fred can move faster than them to get away, Kelly reasoned with herself. Pulling her horse up about twenty foot from the men.
"Howdy Miss," one of the white men drawled. "You got a spot of bother?" He continued, waving towards the bound and blindfolded steer.
"Yep, can't cut him free," she replied calmly.
Hannibal was well aware of the problem, they'd watched the girl for the last four hours. Face considered the girl's calm tone was not backed up by the tears they'd seen or the clean streaks on her cheeks where they fell. Maybe Hannibal had been right and this kid was only 13 or 14 years old, he mused. Though Face had seen the swell of breasts under the grubby T-shirt and the curve of hips in the fitted jeans. He decided she could be anywhere between 14 and 25 and was quite attractive-in a rustic, dirty way.
"English," Face stated.
"No shit Sherlock," she quipped back.
Face smiled at the feisty kid.
Kelly couldn't help noticing how devastatingly perfect that smile was, despite the tatty beard. Her thoughts returned to the guy who drawled at her first. His grey and blond beard so impressive small animals could live in there. She was startled by the sudden emergence of the black guy next to her and Fred. He'd approached so quickly and quietly she was shocked to see him standing there.
Holding his hand out, in a low voice, "Wire cutters."
Taken back, she stood in her stirrups, fumbled in her back pocket and handed them over. The black guy moved to the steer, quickly clipping the wire and freeing the animal. Forgetting her advantage on the horse, the girl swung down next to the steer. Checking him over before removing the ropes and blindfold. The animal staggered a few steps then gambled off in to the pasture. Turning back, she found the men repairing the cut fence with the same simple ease the black man freed the trapped animal.
"Thank you, I really don't know what to say other than thank you, I thought he would die. I tried but I couldn't do what you've done so easily. What can I do to say thank you? You are like some sort of heroes right now," the girl gushed, forgetting the fact a young woman standing with the three wild men of America, was probably at high risk. "Wh….wh…what's your names?" She asked tentatively, wondering do hobos even have names?
"I'm Hannibal, this is Faceman and your wire cutting hero is BA," the oldest man in the group replied, fixing the young girl with his strong blue eyes.
Not willing to be intimidated she met his gaze confidently. Hannibal could see it was genuine self-belief, but demonstrated how naive the kid was. This child must have some sort bizarre view of self preservation. Asking a group of strange men how she could thank them. Thank God it was him and his team who came to help. He carefully masked his frustration at the danger stupid civilians put themselves in.
"What are you doing out here?" Her eyes scanning up and down, quizzing him.
"Looking for ranch work with board and lodgings. Lost our truck ride and made a mistake thinking we could go it on foot." Hannibal gave his standard prepared answer. Thinking he should be the one questioning the young girl about why she was out here alone. "You got any food kid?"
She reached in Fred's saddle bag handing over the cheese, bread and candy she still had, along with a flask of tepid tea. Watching the men eagerly devour her offerings she considered an idea. They seemed harmless and obviously kind as they'd come to her aid. They could be her ticket to staying on the ranch. Not going back to the UK her only priority, throwing common sense out the window.
"Look guys," she interrupted their meal. "I'm working this ranch but the rest of the ranch hands have all quit. It's just me, a thousand acres and a few hundred horses and cattle." She squashed the nagging feeling she shouldn't be sharing information on her isolation. "No one seems to care about leaving me in this crap. I don't have any authority but also no boss either. If you're serious, think I can offer you something. You'll have to cope with no civilisation or people to speak to other than each other." She paused looking the men up and down, civilisation and these men didn't go well together, "but the gig's yours if you want it."
"How far are we from Los Angeles?" The man with the stunning smile asked. Kelly remembered he was called Faceman. Face, like Hannibal, also thinking how stupid was this kid. Short of wearing a shirt saying 'vulnerable, attack me' could she be putting herself at greater risk?
"Couple of hours by truck and yes we have one…." She trailed off. Damn they would just rob the truck now. An inkling of how daft she sounded nagged at her.
"We get use of the truck and one day off a week." Hannibal stated rather than asked.
He was not about to let a good opportunity pass by. They might even be able to help the kid, keep her from getting raped or killed.
"And a wage?" At least Face made it sound like a question.
He'd already read Hannibal's intentions. They weren't about to walk away from this naive kid. Not forgetting the bigger picture, they still needed money. If they were to be educators about staying safe to a dim English girl they should get paid.
"The agent is paying for nine staff, wages come in once a week. If you take the job we just split the money four ways," the girl suggested, hopefully.
Hell this kid must be several cards short of a deck, Face considered.
By now in her mind they had stolen the truck, a weeks worth of wages and she'd been sacked. So desperate for an alternative to failing Kelly found her words begging these strangers to stay. Reasoned thoughts about safety disappearing. She gave another inward shudder. Though she doubted these guys story, they seemed decent people. Nothing to trust but her gut instinct and her gut was telling her they were ok.
"You just hired the team, Boss." Hannibal responded, while stretching out a chapped, dried hand. Fixing the girl with his eyes, smiling, revealing even white teeth through his beard.
Trying not to wince at the firm grip on her bruised hand, she nodded her acceptance.
"Kelly, I mean my name is Kelly, wow I've never hired anyone before. Are you sure? Are you just going to run out on me like the others? It's not easy….." Her ramblings were brought to a close by Face putting his hand reassuringly on her shoulder, showing another perfect smile.
"We ain't running out on you little sister, I mean Boss," BA spoke quietly, while Face nodded.
She forced herself not to blush, thinking she could drown in the eyes of this Faceman even if the rest of his appearance resembled the walking dead.
"Best start back for the ranch then, otherwise we will be out here in the dark," the girl suggested, remounting Fred.
"Alright Boss," Hannibal replied, as the three men fell in beside the girl and her horse.
The group made their way back to the main ranch in silence, reaching the buildings just before six. Kelly tied Fred to a rail and showed the men the bunkhouse, communal kitchen, wash room with dubious shower and mentioned there were clothes and boots in the bunkhouse.
Leaving the men to themselves she sorted Fred out. Only reminded about the new staff when the alluring smell of bacon and potatoes wafted by a couple of hours later. Food, god she was hungry. Best wash up and go get something to eat. She suddenly felt shattered. She dunked her hands in a nearby water trough and headed for the kitchen.
Opening the door she gave an involuntary gasp. Staring wide eyed at the sight. All three men now washed and clean shaven, dressed like proper cowboys in jeans and checked shirts. BA and Face sat at the table playing cards, while Hannibal looked up from the stove.
"Perfect timing ki…Boss, grab a pew, foods up." Eyes glinting with a cigar hanging out the corner of his broad smile. The kid looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights he chuckled.
Kelly couldn't think of a thing to say as she followed his direction and sat next to BA. A plate of food was placed in front of her.
Face broke the silence. "How has a beautiful English rose got herself abandoned out in the middle of nowhere?" Continuing to shovel food in his mouth, making it clear it had been some time since any of them had a decent meal.
Rather than being embarrassed by the compliment she scoffed at the question. "Very dirty wilted rose right now," she said sarcastically. "Probably the same way three wild men rocked up on this ranch. Though you all look far less intimidating without the..." she rubbed her hand over her chin. "Compliments to the chef. You lot best not run out on me if you save trapped animals, damsels in distress and can cook, all in the space of an afternoon."
The men started laughing, the kid may be naive but that led to a strange confidence. They found it entertaining. For a couple of hours the men taught the girl how to play a simple card game.
"Time to turn in," Hannibal stated. "Boss you look like you need a shower," he added smiling. "What's the plan for tomorrow, Boss?"
Kelly rocked back on her chair thinking for a moment. "Got to sort the animals down here, then check the east side of the property," she paused. "Can any of you ride?" She was met by three blank looks. "So riding lessons all round then. See you at 6.30 for breakfast and we'll get started."
Kelly was surprised to find the dubious shower now spewed out gallons of hot water with about twice the power it had yesterday. Maybe I've crossed to the dark side and I'm hallucinating about these men. Or they're angels, especially if they can fix the shower. She smiled enjoying the sensation of the water. Her warning voice quieting. She reasoned if they were going to attack and kill her they would of done it already.
Coming out the washroom she noticed Hannibal walking round the perimeter of the main ranch, cigar still firmly in his mouth. Wondering what he was doing, before crashing out on her bed. An hour later she looked out and saw Hannibal had been replaced by BA, just walking around. Odd, but who cares. These guys could make her American dream reality, if they want to waste valuable sleep time walking around that's their choice. Anything was better than having to return to England.
The morning dawned, Kelly woke to the cockerel shouting to the world. She flexed her sore hands remembering yesterday's events. Best find out if the truck has been stolen. Scrapping her long blond hair in to a high ponytail she emerged from the stables. A sigh of relief seeing the pickup truck and van still parked in the main garage. She scanned around. It was only just gone 6 yet the corralled horses had several piles of hay, the dogs were lazing in the first warmth of the sun, obviously well fed and relaxed. Even the rail, which had been broken near the stables, was fixed. Again the smell of food drew her towards the kitchen.
Entering to see the men tucking into pancakes. All briefly rose slightly from their seats on seeing the girl. Hannibal waved towards a fourth plate warming on the stove piled with more pancakes. She grabbed it, starting to eat before sitting down.
"Well I'm going to get fat at this rate," she mumbled, through a mouthful of food.
"A soldier marches on their stomach," Hannibal said lightly. She noticed an uncomfortable glare from Face, towards the older man.
"I never meant for you to do the chores before breakfast, thanks for sorting the shower and corral rail too." She sounded embarrassed listing everything they had done while she slept.
"No problem….Boss," BA shyly replied. The girl smiled warmly towards him in true appreciation.
Face, having finished his food, lent back on his chair. "There is nothing this man can't fix." Enthusiastically thumping the black man on the back.
"Only after you got the stuff I need," BA replied, looking down at his plate.
Kelly looked between the men and could clearly see they had been together a long time. There was an unspoken connection. Thinking about Hannibal's soldier comment she formulated these were ex military men. Of course she knew about Vietnam. The British press had been scathing as to what the Americans were doing there. Painfully aware of the stories about horror in South East Asia, she resolved not to ask them about it. Having an idea it was not something they would want to talk about. She could be wrong but it all fitted together nicely. It was none of her business anyway.
"Boss," Hannibal interrupted her thoughts. "What next?"
"First, stop calling me Boss it's ridiculous, I mean come on, my name is just Kelly"
"Ok Just Kelly, what we doing next?" Face paused with a mischievous glint. "Boss," he added, with a dazzling smile. If they were sticking around for a bit he might as well charm the mark. It'd make it easier to manage any difficult questions.
He really is handsome, and certainly knows it, bet he's a right player with women, she considered before speaking. Carefully not responding directly to the good looking man sat opposite her. "Well as you're bona fide cowboys now let's find out what your riding skills are like." Having grown up around horses she was unaware her statement could be misconstructed to have a different meaning. "Have any of you ridden before?"
Face couldn't resist. "Plenty of riding experience, Boss. Not so much on horseback mind you."
Despite the girl obviously being younger than the three men she wasn't that easily put off. "Come on guys," she addressed them, as they chuckled to each other. "We're on a ranch full of animals, if everything I say has an innuendo it's going to get tiresome bloody quickly." She confidently looked each man in the eye.
Face was impressed by this feisty English kid. Not even blushing, she obviously didn't suffer fools easily. Not even remotely intimidated by the three grown men's inside joke. She really was naïve or possibly astute. It'd be interesting finding out.
"Thanks for breakfast, I don't expect you to do all the cooking, but I warn you I can just about fry an egg and open a tin of beans when it's my turn." She made sure to keep her voice relaxed and confident. She would not let herself be thrown.
"I like beans and eggs," Hannibal said, around another cigar. "I did some horseback riding as a kid. Face what about you?"
"Yeah, long time ago though," Face replied. Turning his gaze to big black man, who was glaring at his now empty plate. "BA?"
"No horses in the city." BA refused to lift his eyes.
"Well I'll meet you by the corral in forty five minutes," Kelly said. "Thanks again for breakfast," she nodded towards Hannibal, he seemed to be the self appointed cook.
These guys are very prompt, Kelly thought as they arrived at the corral exactly forty five minutes later. The morning filled with enough laughing between the men it was verging on hysterical. She instructed on how to catch a horse, saddling it up and finally had all three mounted on the quietest horses on the ranch.
Most of the horses were scared of BA, he spent a lot of time just trying to get near them. Face was chatting to the horses as if they understood him. He tried to reason with the bemused animals. Hannibal at least seemed to have a better idea and was soon mounted on a grey mare the girl had named Priscilla. She had no idea if any of the horses had names as that information had never been provided by the employing agent.
BA looked very wobbly on his mount. Face, annoyingly, looked totally at ease astride Smoky. Kelly put a leather strap round each horses neck and explained if they lost their balance they should hold the strap and not use the reins to stop from falling off.
BA had his strap very firmly gripped.
"Not scared are you?" She teased.
"BA ain't scared of nothing," he replied, through gritted teeth.
More laughter as they got the horses to move.
"Think of the reins like a joystick, forward means go, backwards means stop finally left and right is obvious," she instructed. "Move with the horse's movement, relax your hips and pelvis." She glared in a good humoured way towards Face waiting for a crude response. He caught her eye and smiled but said nothing, still concentrating on not toppling off his mount.
She stayed on the ground moving between each man correcting their position and reminding them to keep breathing. Kelly then ran beside them as they got each horse in to jog. After another hour she let them break in to a lope round the corral.
Despite all the banter between the men the girl was finally satisfied they were relatively safe on their mounts. Suggesting a break to gather some tools and food before setting off to the east side of the ranch.
With a lot of groaning as they dismounted. Kelly chuckled watching the men walk stiffly, legs askew like three John Wayne's, towards their bunkhouse.
"Hannibal, what the hell are we doing?" Face grimaced, once out of earshot.
"Look kid this is the perfect place to regroup and lay low. No one's gonna think about looking for us here. You work your magic on the girl I'm sure she'll hand you the truck keys so you can drive in to LA and see Murdock."
"She isn't gonna be a pushover," Face snapped, feeling rather sore by the mornings activities.
"You can get anything you want Lieutenant. Were you not the best officer in the US Army at acquiring anything for nothing?" Hannibal challenged, as he slung his arm over the younger mans shoulders.
'When you comin' back range rider', the whole team can horseback ride