An American Base
Someplace in Iraq
Sgt. Darryl Bynum had signed up to fight insurgents. His abilities with a rifle were not exactly stellar. Turned out though, he had a knack for numbers. For sorting things. And the Army found a posting for him on a base in Iraq. He who sorted mail also served. Even if he didn't like it.
He sighed as he stared at the seven heavy canvas sacks of mail that awaited sorting and shipping that day, to say nothing of the stacks of packages and crates. Thankfully traffic at the letter and package slots in the lobby of the PX had been light this morning.
Captain Murdock was upset. Meltdown was well underway, to be precise. After the mess up with the team, he was feeling very raw and vulnerable. Very guilty. He didn't belong here. He wanted to go home. He paced frantically behind the large tent he shared with the other members of his team. He had to think of a way to get out of here. He stared restlessly around him as he paused in his pacing, and his eyes fell on one of the semi-permanent structures on the base.
The PX did multiple duty as a rec hall, supply store, meeting hall and post office. And that's when H. M. Murdock was hit with inspiration. A plan even more brilliant than any the Bossman had ever come up with. And he was grateful that he happened to have the supplies on hand to pull it off. He was further grateful that the guys were all at chow, so he was alone when he snuck into their tent and gathered what he needed from his footlocker (and one important item from Face's) before beating a hasty retreat to complete his plan in peace.
Sgt. Bynum had just opened the second sack when he heard the sound of someone shoving something through the package slot. He sighed, as he'd been hoping no one would add anything more to his workload. The vibrating and shuddering coming from the mail slot suddenly intensified and for some crazy reason, Bynum swore he heard a pained yelp and a thump, and the wooden floor suddenly shook. He frowned. "What the hell was that?"
Still muttering under his breath, Bynum stomped over to the back of the mail slot and pulled the door open, slamming it against the back wall. He was totally unprepared for the sight of a wild-haired, drunk, nearly naked soldier covered head to toe in what looked to be at least a roll of postage stamps and a large mailing label duct taped to his bare chest. Other than G. I. issue boxers and dog tags, the man wore only a pair of brilliant purple athletic socks and combat boots.
He reached down and pulled the soldier up by the scruff of his neck. He propped him against the wall, since he didn't seem capable of standing unassisted. The guy was incredibly skinny, and Bynum had no problem imagining him squeezing through the package slot.
Fixing the drunk with a gimlet-eyed glower, he asked, "Just what the hell did you think you were doing?"
"I gotta get home, so I was goin' home." Green eyes blinked up at him as the soldier slurred the words.
This was not exactly the first time Bynum had heard this story. Every once in a while, he would run across a crate containing an enterprising soldier who attempted to mail himself home in a crate via Special Delivery. He had to admit this situation was a new one, though. He peered at the drunken soldier pinned underneath his beefy fist and used his other hand to get a look at the man's dog tags. He read the name, recognized it, did a double take and sighed.
He really wasn't looking forward to dealing with this. On the other hand, the man had seriously asked for it, so, he marched the drunken pilot, skivvies, stamps and all back to his own tent. The fact that it was a journey of well over 200 yards meant that they were joined by about thirty or forty soldiers who apparently had nothing better to do than to watch the show when Col. Hannibal Smith was presented with his wayward pilot.
B. A. Baracus was passing time in his normal fashion, endlessly battling with the desert sand which constantly sifted into every moving part (and a few that didn't) on his motorbike. Face was also pursuing one of his favorite pastimes—attempting the perfect tan. He pulled the eye protectors off when he heard Bosco groan. "Aw man, what the hell?"
Face stared in disbelief at the motley parade wending its way towards them. He stuck his head inside the tent. "Uh, Colonel, you might wanna come out here."
Hannibal scowled as he looked up from the map he was studying. "I'm kinda busy at the moment, kid. What's the problem?"
Face sighed as he stepped inside, then peered back out and got a good look at his best friend. "Believe me, boss, you have to see this to believe it." Quickly he stepped over to his footlocker and confirmed his recently acquired pint of Jim Beam was long gone. That explained a lot!
Hannibal sighed and strode to the front of the tent. Impatiently he asked, "What is it, Lieutenant?"
At that point, all Face could do was point.
A number of thoughts flashed through Hannibal's mind at the moment he first laid eyes on Murdock, who was grinning owlishly. A couple of the thoughts were even marginally coherent. His eyebrow arched momentarily, before he got his features schooled into a semblance of military sternness and stepped out to face the sergeant, who saluted smartly. He held out a clipboard and a pen. "Sgt. Bynum, Base Postal Clerk. I have a package for Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith. Please sign here, sir."
Hannibal sighed, glared at the sergeant and signed the form, not even bothering to read it as the soldiers gathered around them began to snicker and chuckle, until an extreme stink-eye from Colonel Smith scattered the men like crows. Bynum cheerfully headed back to the PX , happy to have the hapless captain off his hands.
Sternly, Hannibal crooked a finger at Murdock and pointed inside the tent. "Get. Inside. Now."
Meekly, Murdock obeyed. His gyroscope was definitely malfunctioning, but as he seemed to have a lightning fast metabolism, he was rapidly sobering up. Face rolled his eyes and grabbed his elbow, guiding him inside to avoid any unfortunate faceplants. B. A. wisely kept his mouth shut and returned to cleaning his bike's carburetor.
For just a moment, Hannibal glanced skyward looking for a little guidance. None of his boys saw the look, half exasperation, half amusement. He knew Murdock had felt bad about messing up on the assignment, but he hadn't realized the small mistake had bothered him this badly. None of his teammates had given the pilot's error with the coordinates a second thought. He had flown them in the wrong direction for about five minutes before Hannibal had spotted a familiar landmark and realized they were off-course. He pointed out the fact to the pilot and Murdock had cursed himself and adjusted their path. They achieved their objective and nothing more was said.
Obviously, Murdock had internalized the moment, and his insecurities had kicked in and chewed on him. And so, now he would go in and deal with it… help his boy see that no matter what he did, no matter what happened, he would always be good enough, always be a part of the team, always be a part of their little family. They were in this thing together. He wouldn't have it any other way. As he stepped back inside the tent, lighting his cigar he smirked. "Okay, Captain, we need to talk…"
A/N: I have no idea how the postal system actually works on a military base, so please forgive any inaccuracies. I do know that attempts to mail oneself home are actually true, being from a military family myself and having heard numerous tales attesting to the fact. Boredom plus deployment equals trouble in really interesting measures. However, Murdock's attempt is definitely greatly embellished. The actual inspiration for this story was a YouTube video of a soldier in BDUs literally crawling headfirst through the package slot at the base post office while deployed somewhere in the desert. This plot bunny hatched instantly nearly fully mature.