My name is Eta Mae Stevens and I am seventy-three years old. I'm not originally from the 'Golden State', I come from a little town in the deep south. Bay Saint Louis, a place where the pace of life is slower and time seems to stand still...which, if you're 73, isn't so bad. My oldest son, Jimmy, moved me out here to the great state of California to be closer to him and my grandchildren. This is where I met the four men I have come to think of as my own.
It was late February when I first met them. I remember I was outside planting flowers when I looked at the beach down below and saw the two of them. They were playing fetch but I couldn't see the dog from where I was. I thought that the blond wasn't dressed nearly warm enough to be running around down there. The other one was wearing a brown leather jacket.
They musta got tired of playing fetch, since the dog obviously wan't cooperating, because they started to chase and tackle each other. By this time I had stopped my gardening and was enjoying watching them. They had to be in their thirties but they played like little kids. Sometimes it's very refreshing to see adults give in to the wiild abandon of being young.
I watched as the blond tagged the other and then ran ahead as the dark one took chase. My smile faded as I watched him stumble and then fall just as another wave hit the beach. The other one quickly ran to him and helped him up. I smiled as I saw him take off the jacket and place it on the blond's shoulders as he guided him toward the path that led from the beach. Done with my gardening and not having them to watch anymore I made my way into the house...
It wasn't fifteen minutes later when I heard a knock on my door. When I opened the door, what a sight I was greeted with. My two young friends, the blond dripping wet and shivering and the dark one smiling and asking if they could possibly wait inside until someone called Hannibal got back. It seems that they had locked themselves out of their house next door.
Never one to turn away strays, I quickly motioned them inside and guided them into the kitchen. Handing a blanket to the dark one, I busied myself making hot cocoa, smiling as he fussed over the blond.
"Murdock, I'm fine!"
"No you're not. You're all wet and mussed," Murdock had replaced the jacket with the blanket and was trying to dry his hair with the dangling end.
"Murdock! Sit down!"
I smiled as I held out the cocoa. They looked like two mischievious little boys. The one the blond called Murdock was now sitting restlessly beside his friend, sulking. The blond flashed a breathtaking smile as he introduced them.
"Hi, thank you for letting us stay here untiil our friends get home. I'm Templeton Peck and this is HM Murdock."
I smiled back as they each took the offered cocoa, "Eta Mae Stevens. But you can just call me Eta."
"Thank you again, Mrs. Eta."
He let out a little sniffel and HM quickly took up his earlier ministrations. I could tell that he was very concerned about his friend and being honest, it struck me a little odd. I think at the time I just figured they were probably as close as brothers. Little did I know at the time just how true that was...
Templeton gave me the most miserable look I had seen in quite some time over HM's attention. That look could have riveled my grandson's pleading eyes anyday. Giving a little laugh, I decided to come to his rescue, "HM, why don't we move our chilled friend here into the living room and you can start a fire?"
Given something to do, HM quickly moved away. Templeton gently touched my arm and silently mouthed, "Thank you!"
An hour later, HM and I helped a shivering, snifling, sneezing Templeton to the house next door. Still missing the key, HM held Templeton upright while I rang the bell.
The door was quickly answered by a very worried looking man with white hair and a cigar, "I think these belong to you?"
His mouth quickly turned into a smile, "Yes, we've been wondering where these two got off to..."
Smiling back, "Well, they had a little run in with a wave and then locked themselves out." HM slipped past the man, guiding Templeton. I could see a large black man wearing a lot of gold chains step up to help him guide their chilled friend up the stairs, probably toward a warm bed.
The man took the cigar from his mouth, "Thank you so much for looking after them. I know they can be a handful, especially Face when he gets cranky."
I wondered where the nickname had originated from, as I had also heard HM refer to Templeton as 'Face' as well, but I refrained from asking at the time. "Oh, it was no problem. By the by, I'm Eta. I live just next door."
He took the offered hand and kissed it, "John 'Hannibal' Smith, and I'm very pleased to meet you Mrs. Eta."
I have to say that even at my age, flattery can still make me blush. And so I did.
"Hannibal! Faceman ain't feeling so well..." The black man I had seen go upstairs now made his way down and stopped just behind John, "Sorry ma'am, I didn't mean ta interrupt."
John smiled as he placed a hand on the man's shoulder, "BA, I would like you to meet Mrs. Eta. She's our neighbor."
"Nice ta meet you, ma'am. Hannibal, I'm gonna go back upstairs and sit with little brother," and with that he was gone.
"I'll be going now. I just wanted to make sure they got back ok."
"Well, thank you again for all your help."
I turned back on my way down the walk, "No need. Just take care of that little one, I'm afraid he's caught a mighty cold."
And that is how I met the A-Team. Oh, not that I knew they were the infamous, or would that be famous now that they've been pardoned, A-Team. My son told me much later but I find it hard to associate all the sorted tales of the A-Team to the two bedraggled young men who showed up on my doorstep, and their friends, on that chilly February day.