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When A Plan Comes Together

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  Four men, lined against a brick wall with hands tied behind their backs, feet bound, and mouths gagged, sat in a sunken outdoor space between a large brick apartment building and the street above. The first wore a finely tailored suit and looked equal amounts of nervous and annoyed. The second sported a blue t-shirt beneath a well-worn leather jacket and seemed utterly lost in his thoughts. The third sat straight and attentive despite the awkward position of his hands tied behind his back and bound feet. He appeared the oldest of the bunch with white hair, though his face held a youthful appearance. The fourth man was an incredibly muscular black man with a warrior style haircut and gold hanging from every part of him. Their assailants, two teenagers, covered in grease and itching for a fight, paced back and forth before them, discussing what to do with their captures.

  “I say we knock ‘em off now,” snapped one, waving his handgun in the air.

  “Shut up, man,” said the other. “Rich said to wait until he got here.”

  “I don’t like it,” said the first boy, shaking his head. “I don’t like it. Broad daylight. Someone is going to catch us.”

  As he spoke, a baseball seemingly fell from the sky and bounced several times on the concrete pad they stood on, rolling to a stop by some broken pottery and dead plants.

  “What the hell!” cried the boy with the gun, spinning to face the ball. “Where’d that come from?”

  The other boy scrambled onto some packing crates and peered out onto the quiet back street, making sure no one was around. “I don’t see anyone,” he shrugged. “Probably just some kids.”

  “Hey, pal,” came a voice from the end of the opening, “mind throwing my ball up?” Both teens turned to see who was speaking and saw a teenage girl crouched at the edge, looking down. She flashed a big smile and nodded, “Hi. That’s my ball. Can I have it back?”

  “Hey, get out of here, kid,” demanded the boy with the gun, concealing it in the back of his pants. “Get lost.”

  “Geez, man, settle down,” said the girl, sitting, so her legs swung over the edge, feet tapping against the brick wall. “I just want my baseball back so we can keep playing.”

  “Yeah, well, today isn’t your lucky day,” said the second boy, approaching her with a threatening gate. “Either get out of here, or I’ll come up there and make you wish you had.”

  “You two seem uptight,” said the girl, utterly unphased by the harsh remarks. “Hey, why do you got those guys tied up? Are they criminals? Are the police coming? I can go to the police if you need me to.”

  “No!” cried the gunman. “Look, kid, just get lost. Brian, get her out of here!”

  The second boy Brian looked at her, menacingly, “I mean it, shorty, get lost. If you aren’t gone in the next five seconds, I’m gonna come up there and teach you to respect your elders.”

  “Alright, pal, sheesh,” said the girl, standing up. “So much drama. I’ll go get another ball, I guess.” She came around the edge of the opening, and before either boy knew what was happening, she had tipped over a rack of starter plants sitting on some metal shelving. The area was used by one of the apartment tenants as a sort of miniature outdoor garden and held all kinds of pottery and terra cotta pots.

  Both boys fell to the ground underneath the mass of metal and dirt, and the girl instantly dropped into the opening, picking up her ball. “Honestly, boys,” she said, tossing it up and catching it, “you could have just thrown it back.”

  “You little beast!” cried Brian, scrambling from under the rack and running towards her. As if she hadn’t a care in the world, the girl threw the baseball at him with the force of a professional pitcher and followed it up with a hard kick to the face, knocking Brian backward on top of the rack. By now, the boy with the gun had crawled out and was scrambling to free it from his pants. The girl had him on the ground with a well-placed kick and sweep of his leg before he could think, and she pulled the gun from his pants, tossing it towards the four captive men. Looking up, the girl smiled at one of the captives, the bulky black man.

  “Hi,” she said, tipping her head. Without breaking eye contact, she reached up and grabbed a glass bottle that she brought down with a smash on the boy’s head below her. She turned, kicking Brian in the face as he attempted to stand, then picked up an entire box of glass jars. “These boys aren’t very nice,” she said, addressing the four men, as she dropped the whole box on Brian’s head.

  Both boys were entirely out cold and streaked with blood.

  The girl hurried over and began untying the first man, finely dressed, who looked suave and debonair. When his hands were free, the man ripped his gag off and began working at his bound feet.

  “Say, who are you? Supergirl?” he asked, his voice mixed with awe and puzzlement.

  “No one,” said the girl, stepping over broken glass and pots. “See you around.” With a running leap, she placed one foot halfway up the brick wall and propelled herself upward, grabbing the street level eight feet above her. She hoisted herself up and looked down, smiling as the first man untied the other three. “Bye,” she grinned, before turning and disappearing down the street.

  The baseball lay forgotten on the ground.

  “I believe we just encountered Wonder Woman,” said the man in the leather jacket, now working to free the brawny, gold layered man.

  “Anyone recognize her?” asked the older man.

  It was a negative response from all.

  “I think she came here on purpose, Hannibal,” said the black man, addressing the white-haired man. “She didn’t seem all that interested in the baseball. I think she dropped it in here just as a distraction.”

  “I believe you’re right, B.A.,” said Hannibal, rubbing his wrists where the ropes had been. “Hey, Face, you and Murdock tie those two punks up.” Face, the finely dressed man, and Murdock took the ropes that had been around their wrists and tied up their attackers. Hannibal slipped the gun in his waistband. “Let’s get these kids out of here and take them back to their boss,” said Hannibal. “I guess we all learned a lesson today about walking one by one into a dark room.”

  “You mean we all learned a lesson about listening to you when you’re on the jazz,” grunted B.A., glaring with irritation at Hannibal.

 

 

  The four men sat together in their hotel room, Hannibal deep in discussion with Face about where they were going from here now that they had completed their job. They were the A-Team, a group of vigilantes that were hired by civilians and governments alike to do dangerous tasks that only men of their elite abilities could handle. They were accused of a crime during the Vietnam War that they did not commit, forcing them into the underground and on the constant run from the military.

  Hannibal, real name John Smith and the leader of the group, was a Colonel and the one full of ideas. Faceman, real name Templeton Peck, was a Lieutenant and the con artist/lady charmer. Murdock, a Captain, was their pilot. He was supposedly clinically insane and was the only member of the team to reside in a set facility, a military psychological hospital that he broke out of regularly to work with the team. B.A., the brawn, and mechanical genius was a Sergeant and often beat down the toughest of advisories with just his fists.

  “I say we split the revenue and head back for Los Angeles,” said Face. “I can just taste that 1964 Mabeit Edes from The Club Illusion. A beautiful girl under one arm and an equally gorgeous one under the other.”

   “Speaking of which,” said Hannibal, biting off a cigar, “how much is our take?”

  “Individually and taking out a few little personal expenses, we each encountered around four hundred dollars,” said Face, avoiding eye-contact with the Colonel.

   “That’s it?” asked Hannibal, lowering his eyebrows as he lit the cigar.

  “Oh, don’t hound me, Hannibal,” moaned Face. “I need a vacation.”

  “Your whole life is a vacation, Face,” snapped B.A.

  “Hey!” said Face, starting to stand. His reply was cut short by a knock at the door.

  Hannibal glanced at the others, then went over, swinging the door open.

  It was the girl.

  “Hi, how are ya?” she smiled, nodding.

  “Fine, and you?” asked Hannibal.

  “Fine,” she nodded.

  “Won’t you come inside? We’re dying to meet you,” said Hannibal, stepping aside. He held his cigar in his right hand and the door with the left, but he was ready to grab the girl on a second’s notice if she tried to run off.

  “Thanks,” she nodded, walking past him, hands tucked into her pockets. She wore a sleeveless t-shirt and black joggers with high top shoes. Fashion wasn’t the first word that would come to mind upon seeing her, but something in the glint of her eyes and the flash of her smile made up for her relaxed clothing choice.

  “I’m Hannibal,” said the man, shutting the door and turning to face the girl. “Now it’s your turn.”

  She smiled at him, “Hi, Hannibal. I didn’t come to introduce myself. I need information.”

  “Information?” asked Face, approaching them. “What kind of information? How old are you anyway? Twelve?”

  “Oh, you’re hilarious,” said the girl sarcastically. “I’m twenty-one, thanks.”

  “That’s a lie,” smiled Face, sitting on the edge of a comfortable chair. “But we’ll let bygones be bygones. Continue.”

  “All I need to know is which one of you is John Smith,” said the girl, glancing around the group. “I know it’s not him.” She pointed at B.A. “Good grief, that would be a shock. Hey, big guy, you ever had a kid?”

  “What? No,” said B.A. gruffly, looking sharply at the girl.

  “And why, my dear, must you know that?” asked Murdock, waltzing towards them.

  “I’d tell you, but I don’t want to,” she smiled.

  “Let me guess,” said Face, “you work for Decker.”

  “Who is Decker?” asked the girl, a look of genuine puzzlement crossing her face.

  “Uh, Face, I don’t think that’s it,” said Hannibal, sticking his cigar between his teeth. “Look, kid, what do you want?”

  “That’s what I want,” she shrugged. “I don’t need you guys to do anything, and I’m not going to tell anybody where you are. I just want to know which one of you is John Smith.”

  “I am, sweetheart,” said Murdock, smiling.

  The girl looked him dead in the eyes and chuckled, shaking her head. “Nah.”

  “Shut up, Murdock,” said Face, playing along. He was a conman and could pull off a far better lie than the pilot. “Look, kid, I’m John Smith. What do you want from me?”

  The girl looked at him intently, then turned her gaze to Hannibal. “So it’s you,” she said. Her eyes changed instantly to an emotion Hannibal couldn’t quite put his finger on, though he almost gathered it was grief. Reaching behind her, the girl pulled a very well-worn photograph from her pocket. None of the team could see it, but she looked back and forth between Hannibal and the photo before nodding and sighing deeply. “Well,” she said, smiling, and sliding the picture back into her pocket, “I thought it was you, but I needed to make sure. I guess that’s all I needed. See you around, fellas.” She dashed towards the door, all four men directly behind her. Expertly sliding beneath Hannibal’s grasp, she yanked it open and tore down the hall, Face right behind her.

  By the time he reached the front door of the hotel, the girl was gone.