Their pilot Mulligan was only crazy for golf, practicing his swing whenever he could:
on the tarmac, in the air, and even while fleeing North Korean groundskeeper cells.
Otherwise, plenty of rest and fluids made his world go round, granting the energy
and mental acuity to tackle each day’s tasks, like diversifying his retirement holdings.
Their conman “Hands” was an artist in the fluidity with which he communicated
with his arms and fingers, mesmerizing men and women in security uniforms
to give up their goods, which is how they obtained the ancient Dodge Ram
van, HQ for the group’s epic, scandalous and sometimes illegal adventures.
Their driver, strongman, and mathematician A. B. Abacus could bench four hundred
pounds and recite pi to the thousandth digit, often simultaneously, sometimes while
also filling out the team’s expense reports. Forger of iron catchphrases, he inspired
millions of boys to recite, “I offer my deepest sympathy to the intellectually benighted.”
Their leader John “Patton” Doe ran an Army Navy surplus store and pawn emporium
that spawned many of their adventures on long runs through the night to pick up
howitzers for customers with erectile dysfunction and military grade glow sticks
for the tweaker ravers on the boulevard. Clenching a peppermint stick in his teeth
and spouting, “I love it when a gambit reaches fruition,” he organized the most
raging underground chess tournament in the Southland, one marked by the rescue
of a eighteenth-century antique ceramic set and the seizure of twenty kilograms
of bootleg Adderall peddled by Geert Van Wafel, that evil Belgian grandmastermind.
That was nothing compared to the recovery of gold medallions crafted for the KKK,
hidden in bunkers at Masonic lodges, where former athletes from East Germany
guarded the bootleg coins along with a super-soldier formula rumored to endow
the user with the verve of a hundred teenage men. The B Team dared not guzzle
much because half of them were taking blood thinners, but enough sipping occurred
for a great midnight cow-tipping escapade to coalesce, one which could have ended
in tragedy or, worse, capture if Mulligan’s remote-control helicopter had not masterfully
distracted both a shotgun-toting farmer and A.B., tonic-drunk, dancing with phantom
scarecrows that turned out to be Jack Mormons posing as corn-belt Amish outlaws.
The closest scrape came on a fishing trip in Appalachia, when Hands got caught
holding a pair of supple rattlesnakes as he taught a preacher’s daughter to speak
in tongues, the caterwauling from tent flaps an alarm for Patton, facing impossible
truths about aging and reaction time, coming a little too late, two punctures in an arm,
ministerial father on the prowl, sprinkling consecrated water from the sulfurous nearby
hot spring on all parties, the B-Team’s leader fumbling for antivenin, razor blades and
whiskey, Mulligan and A.B. out of earshot at the rushing river, three trout from the limit.
The close calls brought them to a relationship counselor who suggested that the Army
might not really be after them, but ex-wives might be, that the gun and knife shows
were not havens for smugglers and assassins, and the man bouts and whiskey shots
created a dance for them to lock fists and horns, a solitary animal bleeding its love.