March 02 --- The Good Life

Holiday: World Book Day

Real luxury is time and opportunity to read for pleasure. - Jane Brody

Hannibal stood on the deck of Face's latest 'acquisition', enjoying the inevitable view of the ocean. How his lieutenant managed to find these gems Hannibal was never able to figure out. But then, Face had a life outside the team almost entirely unknown to the rest of them. About the only time they knew what he was up to was when he picked up the wrong girl - or decided to become a movie producer.

He smiled. Face was currently spending most of his time with Tia. Not only showing her the sites and getting her 'set up', but working very hard at getting her papers ready so she didn't have to worry about being deported. Thank God he was smart enough to work through an intermediary.

BA was back in Chicago for the week. Hannibal thought that trip overseas had rattled him more than he wanted to admit, and was glad he'd be with the one person who could get him to talk. That, and just being home, would do the man a world of good.

So with Face rarely home, BA being cared for, and Murdock once again safely tucked away at the VA, Hannibal had the house to himself most days. For some reason, he hadn't felt like looking for another acting gig. Not just yet, anyway. Despite what he'd told Murdock, he did think about Nam. At least, now he did. And he didn't really like it.

In an effort to keep the shadows at bay, he explored the neighborhood - if a long expanse of four lane highway with a row of beach homes on one side and cliffs on the other could be called a neighborhood. He'd walked the beach enough times to know that most of the houses were only sporadically occupied - obviously Face had discovered that fact before moving in. Which was fine as far as not raising suspicions, but Hannibal figured, under the circumstances, he needed more social interaction.

That afternoon, having seen only a glimpse of Face as he headed out the door, Hannibal decided to take the car and head further afield. He drove a couple miles, started seeing less cliffside and more small businesses. He wasn't sure where he wanted to go. He just wanted to go somewhere.

And then he saw it.

He pulled into the minuscule parking lot and surveyed the area. This wasn't an area the military would really expect to see him. Idly he wondered who'd be taking Fulbright's place. Maybe they'd bring Rod back from Bangor. Chuckling, he left the car and entered the small store.

He was immediately hit by the smell of old books. The store was filled with every variety of shelving, from solid oak to slightly rusted metal. And the shelves were filled with every variety of book, mostly paperbacks but several held well-worn hardcovers. He smiled at the owner's 'organization' - one shelf marked with a hand-written card "fiction", the one below it "history", and the one below that "science fiction". He didn't know if it was just filling shelves as the books came in, or if it was a deliberate attempt to get people browsing.

But browse he did. It didn't take long before he had four books on his arm, and he hadn't made it halfway down the first aisle.

But the best was yet to come. As he moved toward the cashier at the back of the store, he found a small cleared area with two small tables and several large armchairs. A coffee urn with plastic cups sat on a shelf against the wall. They were all strategically placed under a large skylight. He looked questioning at the cashier, a matronly older woman who reminded him of Mama B. She smiled at him.

"Grab a cup and have a seat. I'm in no hurry if you're not."

Hannibal chuckled, but moved to the register. "No, I'm not in a hurry, but I've got a fridge at home with something a little more to my taste."

The woman laughed and rang up his purchase. "That's okay. We get a lot of street people come in - this gives them a place to just sit in peace, read if they want. Poor souls have little enough, so I figure what's the harm, right?"

Hannibal was still smiling as he settled back on the deck, book in one hand, cigar in the other, and a nice cold drink on the table. He looked out at the ocean, and felt the shadows drift away.