CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Sam walked around Loring Park for what seemed like hours. At first it was just to wear down the anger; then it was just because he didn't want to go back to the apartment. The more he thought about it, the more ashamed he felt for hitting Randy. For the way he'd talked to him. He knew Randy, however misguided, was just trying to help. Randy was just...misinformed. That little episode aboard the plane was just the result of an overworked imagination. Being too close, too soon, to Langley and the people there. He was quite sure he'd heard of Beller Airlines in some context over the years. It was nothing. Nothing at all.

He left the park, wandering along the streets, thinking about the so-called evidence Randy had told him about. Clippings were meaningless; the press was easily fooled. Photos could be faked, as could documents. Randy should know that. Where had he gotten all that information? Had to have been from Stockwell or Barish. And that should have told him right there it was faked. Sam shook his head. He hadn't thought Randy would be so gullible.

That didn't change the fact that Sam had behaved badly. You don't hit your best friend. He had to find some way of making it up to him. And then he saw it and a huge grin spread over his face. How many times had they passed by the Guthrie Theater and Randy had wistfully said he'd like to see a real play. Well, now he would.

Ten minutes later Sam was hurrying back to the apartment. These tickets, coupled with a sincere apology, would put them back where they belonged.


*****

"Okay, so who's this guy? Why's he so important to Stockwell?" Murdock was staring at a rather fuzzy photograph. A man, big moustache, longish hair, surrounded by a lot of muscle.

"Tommy Fiallos. Small-time hood, big-time connections. The usual - drugs, prostitution, porn."

"And Stockwell's keeping him on ice? Why?"

"Because, like I said, Tommy has big-time connections. Access to information that helps Stockwell keep on top of things like local politics in South America. Through Tommy, Stockwell can keep the drug-runners rattled, and also keep track of who's the latest up-and-coming dictator."

"So why would Randy want to put him out of business? Sounds like he's more useful than criminal."

"He's connected with Stockwell. Apparently that's all that matters to them. If they can hurt the general through Tommy, they will."

"I wish you'd quit including Face like that, Hannibal. We still don't know for sure that he's really with Randy, or that he's participating willingly." Murdock scowled almost as well as BA.

"I'm being realistic, Murdock. I suggest you start doing the same. Now, we know they're going after Tommy next. Obviously, the objective has to be extortion. Threats to reveal that he's a snitch to his confederates. What the exchange for silence will be, I don't know exactly. I'm assuming something Tommy will understand - money. The amount won't really matter, except it will have to be enough to ensure he takes them seriously. Naturally, the first thing Tommy is going to do is contact Stockwell. That's when we'll get the details. And that's when we put our little plan into motion."

"What's the plan, Hannibal?" BA spoke up for the first time. He didn't want to talk about Face; that was still too raw for him. Get on to the job.

"Very simple, really. In exchange for information on his drug-dealing buddies, Tommy will be offered a spot in the protected witness program; the deal will include his not mentioning Stockwell. Not that any one would believe him, any way, but it makes Stockwell feel better."

"So how does that get us any closer to Randy?" Murdock was getting into the spirit of the plan now, despite himself.

"Randy will have set up a meeting with Tommy. Tommy will tell Stockwell. Stockwell will tell us and we'll be there waiting."

"And Randy's not going to think of Tommy contacting Stockwell?" Murdock suddenly lost his enthusiasm.

"Of course he is. He'll be expecting a trap. Instead, he'll get exactly what he's looking for. Tommy Fiallos." Hannibal grinned at Frankie.

"Oh, now, wait a minute, Johnny! We've been through this before, remember? I'm not looking forward to having my head handed to me by a freaking killer!"

"Relax, Frankie. Tommy's very careful about photographs - that fuzzy piece of shit there is one of the better ones, even for Stockwell. Randy's not going to have any idea you're not Tommy."

"But what about Face?"

There was a short silence before Hannibal spoke again. "I don't think you'll have to worry about him, Frankie. I think, under the circumstances, Randy's going to keep Face in the background for a while. He's too good a tactician to put Face into a...critical situation this soon." Another silence. "Frankly, I don't think Face would recognize you any way. I don't think he'll let himself." Hannibal looked at the floor before standing and walking determinedly out of the room.


*****

Sam opened the door slowly, after making enough noise in the hallway to make sure Randy knew someone was coming. He poked his head in the door.

"Randy?"

Silence.

Nervously, he stepped into the living room, closing the door firmly behind him, hearing the lock catch.

"Randy?"

Damn, where was he? Shit, Sam hadn't hit him that hard, had he? Caution aside, he strode toward the bedroom, stopping in the doorway. Empty.

"Damn it, Randy, where are you?" He hated it, but he could hear the panic rising in his voice.

"Right here." Sam spun around and was caught by a sofa pillow in the head. The force knocked him to the floor.

"What the hell?"

"That was a down payment. I'll get even later."

The two men glared at each other for a moment. And then Sam started chuckling, shaking his head. Randy grinned down at him before offering a hand up. Sam grabbed hold and immediately pulled down, putting his foot in Randy's stomach and flipping him over. Randy went crashing onto the hall carpet a few feet from Sam. It took a moment for him to catch his breath. He rolled painfully over to his stomach, and glared at Sam, who shrugged innocently.

"Some things you never forget."

"God, why did I bring this man back into my life!" He shook his head, mimicking Sam, before looking back up, a wry smile on his face. "Truce?"

"More than that." Sam pulled the tickets out of his pocket. "Treat."

Randy reached over and grabbed the tickets excitedly. "Aw man, that's...that's fantastic! And the Guthrie!" He sobered, still looking at the tickets. "Sam, I'm sorry I pushed you so hard before. I just..."

"Let's just forget it. We were both out of line. Chalk it up to growing pains. For now, we have a play to view. And you better damn well like it!"

Randy watched as Sam pulled himself up and headed for the bathroom. A few moments later he heard the shower going.

Sighing, he got to his feet. He was going to have to add to his collection on the A-Team, and soon. He needed to know as much about them as possible. He didn't need another Beller incident. Not now.