Johnny America


He Joined the A‑Team


Illustration of a man smoking a cigar

He was my best friend. Same block, same bikes, same bunk bed at camp. Watched A‑Team and Dukes with him. Chased snakes and cray­fish and crick chubs. Af­ter high school, he went straight in­to the Army. Didn’t even ask me to go with him. Just slung a duf­fel over his shoul­der and said, “See ya, Mur­dock.” (I was Mur­dock, crazy; he was Han­ni­bal, al­ways mak­ing plans).

Turned out I couldn’t join the Army any­way (ADHD). Got a job at the tire place in­stead. Was dunk­ing a Pirelli, look­ing for leaks, when his broth­er came in and told me he was dead. Killed in Africa. Body unrecovered.

There was a trib­ute in the pa­per, and a memo­r­i­al ser­vice with sol­diers fir­ing ri­fles, blow­ing bu­gles. His moth­er cried.

“Don’t wor­ry,” I told her. “He’s not re­al­ly dead. That’s why there’s no body. It’s all part of his plan.”

She hugged me. Kept crying.

No­body else be­lieved Han­ni­bal was alive. An old-timer stopped me on the street. Said, “I sure am sor­ry about your friend. But he died for free­dom. You should be proud.” 

“I am proud— proud he fooled so many dummies.”

My par­ents were con­cerned. “We want you to talk to a ther­a­pist. You need to grieve. You need closure.” 

“Noth­ing to close.”

One evening over sup­per Dad said, “Okay, if he’s alive, then where is he?”

“Im­pos­si­ble to say.”


“Be­cause he joined a se­cret unit of crack com­man­dos. These guys were sent to prison by a mil­i­tary court for a crime they didn’t com­mit. Af­ter they es­caped they went un­der­ground and be­came sol­diers of for­tune. Now they’re get­ting old­er and need new recruits.”

Dad dropped his bis­cuit. “Are you talk­ing about The A‑Team?”

“Af­fir­ma­tive. And you can’t find the A‑Team un­less the A‑Team wants to be found.” 

This wasn’t a hunch — I knew for a fact Han­ni­bal had joined the A‑Team. He start­ed hatch­ing his plan when we were kids, and it was fi­nal­ly com­ing to­geth­er. Soon, he’d show up with the team and sweep me away to a life of adventure.

Word got around. Peo­ple tried to con­vince me I was wrong. My old high school guid­ance coun­selor stuck his nose in the garage. 

“Look here,” he said. He was wear­ing his gray suit, wav­ing a pic­ture of Mr. T in my face. “This is a pho­to­graph of an ac­tor. He played B.A. Bara­cus on a tele­vi­sion se­ries called The A‑Team. His re­al name is Mr. T.”

“No it isn’t,” I said, shov­ing a Goodyear Nordic on­to a hub. “It’s Lawrence Tureaud.”

“So you do know The A‑Team isn’t real.”

“The TV show? Duh. But it was based on ac­tu­al guys.”

He closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose, ex­haled. His breath hadn’t im­proved since my school days, and there were still tu­na sal­ad stains on his lapel. “You hon­est­ly be­lieve your friend faked his own death so he could join a gang of rogue mercenaries?”

“Hell yes. The A‑Team is the bad­dest of the bad. Where else would he be?”

“He’s de­ceased. You have to come to terms with that.”

Years passed. Too many. Tried to stay out of bars, be a good boyfriend to Jen­ny. But her cook­ing was lousy, and she wouldn’t be­lieve me about the A‑Team. 

“Just let him go,” she’d say. “It’s time to start a new life. A re­al life. With me.”

Wasn’t ready for mar­riage — not while my best friend was out there kick­ing ass with the A‑Team. Thrills, ac­tion, gor­geous babes… and what did I get? Jenny’s chewy pan­cakes. A pile of steel-belt­ed radials.

Re­sist­ed as long as I could, un­til she laid down an ul­ti­ma­tum. “It’s ei­ther me or the A‑Team. Choose.”

Maybe she was right. If the A‑Team hadn’t come for me by now, they prob­a­bly nev­er would. Some best friend. 

Jen­ny en­rolled me in grief coun­selling. Af­ter a cou­ple months, I was able to ad­mit Han­ni­bal was dead. The A‑Team stuff was a delu­sion, brought on by psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma.

Jen­ny was sat­is­fied with my progress, and sent me to the church to make wed­ding arrange­ments. No­body was around. As I was leav­ing, a beard­ed guy in a robe came out of the sacristy. 

“I’m the new pas­tor,” he said. “How can I help you?”

Told him I was think­ing about get­ting married. 

“Mar­ried? You might want to read this first.”

He hand­ed me a pam­phlet. Opened it and saw six large words, print­ed in black ink: YOU HAVE JUST FOUND THE A‑TEAM.

The pas­tor re­moved his beard and lit a cigar.

“Howdy, Mur­dock,” he said. “Long time no see.”

Filed under Fiction on August 11th, 2023

Care to Share?

Consider posting a note of comment on this item:


Previous Post


Next Post


Join our Irregular Mailing List

For very occasional ramblings, word about new print ephemera, and of course exciting investment opportunities.