“Bo” Part I

By Sasquaw

            His eyes are filled with tears, as he goes running to the blonde headed woman, his voice is choking.
            "Daddy killed him---Daddy killed my dog!"
            Alex Cahill Walker reaches down and takes the young boy in her arms, brushing his rustic hair back and kissing him repeatedly. "Sweetheart, Daddy had to kill him, he was hurt. Bo was hurt and in a lot of pain, Daddy had no choice!"
            "But, I don't want Bo to be dead I'll never see him again. I hate Daddy, I'm never going to talk to him again---not ever!"
            Alex sits down slowly at the dinner table, pulling her son close to her. The boy is almost six, his dark eyes are filled with tears, and he’s crying so hard that his little body is totally shaking.
                    "Cordell---sweetheart---don't be mad at Daddy, he didn't want to shoot Bo, but there was no time to get him to the vet so he could be put down. Bo was in terrible pain from his run in with those coyotes, you heard the pain that he was in. Daddy was only trying to put him out of his misery, you didn't want "Bo" to suffer more, did you?"
            The boy continues to sob, "I just want my dog back, I hate those coyotes and I hate Daddy!"
            Alex looks up to see her husband walk slowly into the kitchen; he stops as the words slap him in the face. He stands there shaking his head slowly, as he approaches his son slowly.
                 "Cordell---son---listen to me-----"
            The boy pulls away from Walker's embrace, "NO-----don't touch me-----I hate you!"
            Walker stops and stares back at his son, and then to Alex. "I had no choice, son----Bo was in terrible pain, he was dying----I had to do it, son-----I'm sorry."
            Cordell shakes his head in defiance and hugs his Mother tighter. Alex looks up to her husband and her eyes plead for him not to say anything more.
                  "Honey, please---let me handle this."
            Walker walks slowly out of the kitchen, he sees Angela and Cooper standing in the doorway, looking back at him. They too, are crying. He feels his own eyes misting up, he walks out the front door and heads for the barn in search for a shovel to bury Bo.
            An hour later finds Walker putting a small cross over the dog's grave. He piles more rocks over the small grave, he doesn't want the coyotes to come back and finish what they had tried to do. He stares down at the small grave, remembering the day he bought Bo for the twins and Angela, just eight months earlier.


                             **************************************************
            He had taken the twins for their haircut, and was on their way back to the ranch when the twins saw a sign saying "PUPPIES FOR SALE".  Both the twins started pleading for their Daddy to stop so they could see the puppies. Reluctantly, the Ranger pulled down the side road, driving up to the house. Before he could get the Ram to a complete stop, the twins had their door open and trying to jump out. They go running up to the porch where the old man has all of the puppies in a little fenced in area. There are five of them: border collies.
            The old man greets the boys and shakes hands with Walker. The boys are giggling and reaching in to touch their black and white coats, the puppies are all trying to reach the twins, as their tails wag back and forth.
            "Buy one, Daddy---please?"
            Walker smiles and looks at all the puppies, "They sure are a handsome lot, very active. Have they got all their shots?"
            "Yes sir, they just turned 6 weeks last Monday, I took them all in for their shots, and they've been wormed!”
            Cordell looks back to Walker, puzzled. "Worms, Daddy? The doggie doctor gave the puppies worms---why?"
            Walker and the old man laugh and Walker reaches out and pulls his son close to him, squatting down.  "No, son---the vet didn't give them worms, he gave the puppies shots to prevent them from getting worms in their bodies. You see, son---worms are parasites that invade the bodies of small animals and get into their intestines to make them sick---and sometimes---these worms can kill."
            "Like when our cows get sick, the doctor makes them well, right, Daddy?"
            "That's right Coop. The shots help to keep the puppies healthy---but there's a lot more to taking care of a pet than just having the vet give them shots. Puppies require a lot of love and attention, are you and your brother ready to take on that responsibility?"
            "Yes, Daddy---we will!" Cordell replies, "We'll love him and take care of him, won't we, Cooper?"
            Both of the twins nod their heads up and down, and Walker takes out his wallet and pays the man. The twins pick the smallest one of the litter, and both want to hold him at the same time.
            The old man smiles, "You've made two boys very happy.”
            Walker sighs, "Yeah, I just hope my wife doesn't scalp me."


                              ****************************************               

Alex stares down at the little puppy, she looks back to her husband, shaking her head.
            "I can't believe you, Walker---you take the boys to get their hair cut, and you come back with a puppy!   Is the barber giving away puppies now, instead of lollypops?"
            Walker looks back at his wife nervously, "No---the twins wanted a puppy, so I decided it was time for them to have one. We talked about this hon---every boy needs a dog."
            Angela is now holding the puppy, the puppy licks her face, she grimaces. "Yuk-----he has puppy breath and it stinks, like baloney."
            Alex laughs and takes the puppy, "All puppies have that smell, Angela---once he gets old enough to chew on hard food, the smell will disappear."
            "Do you like him, Mommy?"
            "Yes, sweetheart, I think he's very cute. Did Daddy explain on how you and your brother must take care of his every needs"?
            "Yes, Mommy---Cordell and I will take care of him, and Angela can help, too."
            "Not me!  I'm not cleaning up doggie poop," replies Angela, crossing her arms and shaking her long auburn hair back and forth..
            Alex looks to her husband, lowering those eyes. "Speaking of 'doggie poop'---you did explain that this dog is not sleeping in the house, didn't you?"
            Walker stammers, "Well, not exactly----but the twins understand that he's going to sleep outside----in the barn."
               Cooper's eyes grow wide, "Outside?  Daddy---he'll get lonesome."
            Alex continues to stare at her husband, "This dog is not sleeping in the house, come morning---Daddy will build him a nice dog house----in the barn"!
           
The twins both look to Walker, he puts his hands up, "Your Mother is right---the dog sleeps in the barn---not in the house."
            "But, Daddy---he can sleep in my bed----it's cold outside," pleads Cordell.
            Walker looks to his wife, she taps her finger gently at the back of the puppies' neck, her bottom lip is starting to quiver. Walker smiles nervously, "Maybe---just this one time---we could let him sleep in the laundry room---it's nice and warm in there."
            Both the twins start pleading with their Mother, Alex takes a deep sigh---and mutters---"One night---that's it----and you will build that dog house tomorrow----promise?"
            Angela frowns, "He better not cry and keep me awake---and I'm not cleaning up after him."
            Walker nods his head, "I think you've made your point, baby---if the puppy messes and we know he will---it's Cooper and Cordell's place to clean up after him---right guys?"
            The rest of the evening is spent playing with the puppy in the laundry room, and deciding on a name. Walker and Alex are sitting at the long oak dinner table; drinking coffee and watching the kids play with their new addition. Even Angela has mellowed, as the kids are all laughing and letting the puppy crawl all over them.
            "Hey guys--what are you going to name him?"
            Cooper stops and runs to his Mother, "That man called him---Bojingles or something like that. What was it, Daddy?"
            Walker smiles, "Mr. Bojangles---" he answers.
            Angela looks to her daddy, "What does that mean?"
                Walker's brow arches, "I think he was some kind of dancer--right, hon?"
            "Yes---Bojangles was a dancer, he used to dance in the streets of New Orleans. He loved to dance and the people loved to watch him, his feet were said to be magical and many songs were written about him. I suppose the old man called the puppy that because the puppy is always moving, almost like a dancer."
            "Then that's what we will call him," answers Cordell, "that Bojangles name."
            Walker sighs, "That's a big name for such a little guy, why don't we just call him "Bo" for short."
            The kids all agree and soon the Walker household is winding down to a tiring day. The kids pile up a bunch of old blankets for Bo, making sure he has fresh water and some doggie treats to munch on. The security gate is put up to keep him inside the laundry room and the kids all say their goodnights.
            Walker slips his arm around his wife's waist and whispers, "See there, the little guy is almost asleep already, he's not going to be any trouble."
            "You're not off the hook yet, cowboy! Did you forget that you have to drive down to Huntsville with Jimmy tomorrow morning, so how are you going to build a doghouse for Bo and be down there at the same time?"
            "Darn it, I forgot all about that---well, I'll just build it as soon as I get back, I'll get Trivette to help me. Stop worrying hon, everything is working out, you'll see."
            Alex looks back to her husband skeptically, "The jury is still out on that one. There's an old saying, 'everything that can go wrong---will go wrong----that's Murphy's Law."
            Walker swats her lightly on her buttocks, "Would you relax, hon---- what else can go wrong?"
            At 2am, Walker's question is answered as the skylights up with a freak October thunderstorm. The lightening jolts Alex awake. She sits up in bed and looks over to her husband, who is sound asleep. Alex shakes her head; she hates thunderstorms, especially the lightening. The rain is coming down harder and the thunder rolls across the sky, Walker doesn't even flinch---he loves the sound of a thunderstorm---he says it's soothing.
            Soon she hears the whimpering of Bo, his yelps are getting louder. Any moment she expects to hear one or all of the kids tapping on the door, wanting to sleep in their bed.  Her expectations are soon answered as a little voice whispers.
                    "Mama----we're scared."
            "Come on in, Angela, bring your brothers, crawl in bed with us and protect Mommy."
            Three little figures come running in, as Alex pushes Walker to the other side of the bed, "Honey, scoot over, the kids are sleeping with us."
            Walker barely grumbles as he flails his arms around, "Okay----come on baby---come sleep next to Daddy."
            Angela crawls to the outside of the bed and backs up under her Daddy's protective arms. The twins are going to the middle, Alex sees that Cordell is trying to hide something, and then she hears the puppy whimper.
            "No, no, no---sweetheart, Bo is not going to sleep up here, and least of all---not in my bed."
            "But, Mommy--Bo is scared, too."
            "Not in my bed----he might have fleas---take him back to the laundry room---now."
            A bolt of lightening wakes up the whole sky, Alex and the kids all scream, Bo starts howling. Walker jolts up in bed.
            "What?  What the heck are all of you shouting about-----and what is that damn dog doing in our bed?"
            The twins start jabbering at the same time, Bo was scared, Daddy----he doesn't like thunderstorms."
            Walker starts rubbing his eyes, he sees Alex staring back at him,  "Oh, come on guys, Daddy has to get some sleep--I have to get up early. Take the puppy back to the laundry room."
            "But, Daddy he'll cry," pleads Cordell.
            Alex crawls out of bed and reaches for the puppy, Cordell pulls him back---"Nooooo, Mommy, it's cold and scary down there, can't he sleep with us---just this one time?"
            Alex shakes her head, "No---the dog is not sleeping in our bed--I told you, he might have fleas."
            "He don't have fleas, Mommy, we looked him over, he's not scratching," replies Cooper.
            Alex looks to her husband, tapping her bare foot on the carpet, "Walker------“
            "Oh for Pete's sake," he mumbles, crawling over Angela and coming around to Alex's side of the bed. He stops and looks back as the twins are both holding onto Bo as tight as they can. The puppy looks back to the bearded Ranger and yawns, snuggling up closer to the twins, his eyes halfway closing.
            Walker stammers, looking to his wife, "Come on hon, let the puppy stay here for the night----look---he's almost asleep already."
            The twins look to their Mother, their eyes are pleading. "Please, Mommy---we'll keep him close to us, he won't bother nobody."
            Angela looks to her Mother, "He's almost asleep, Mama---we're keeping him awake."
            Walker has to stifle a laugh as he looks to his daughter and winks, Alex catches the expression and her arms cross in front of her.
            "Okay, you guys, I know when I'm outnumbered, he can sleep here for the night---but only for this one time---is that clear?"
            The kids all nod their heads, and the twins slide down into the bed, taking Bo with them. Angela sighs, "He better not pee-pee on me!"
            Alex breathes a sigh, "He better not pee-pee on anyone, if I wake up to a wet bed, all of you are going to be sleeping with Bo---in the barn."
            Walker goes back to his side of the bed, and Angela cuddles back up to him, "Is Mama serious---will she make us sleep in the barn---there are spiders out there!"
            "Sssh, baby----go to sleep---Mommy was only teasing."
            "I was not," snaps Alex.
               "Mommy," whispers Cordell----Bo is trying to sleep, you're making too much noise."
            Walker can hear his wife swearing under her breath, he smiles and holds his daughter closer. "Goodnight hon, we all love you---even Bo."
            Again, Alex is mumbling and trying to get in a comfortable position, "You think that's funny, cowboy?  When you build that doghouse, you better make it big enough for the both of you."
            Angela is watching her Daddy as he holds his hand over his mouth, trying to muffle his laugh. She giggles, pulling his hand away from his mouth. "Daddy?" Why can't Bo sleep in your doghouse?"
            He can only smile as he feels one of the twins cuddling up to his backside, then he feels a small paw go into his back, a slight yawn and soon the Walker household is asleep for the night.

Bo  - Part II

            The next morning Walker is easing out of bed as not to wake anyone, especially his wife. He yawns, rubbing his bearded face and looks back to his bed, the kids are starting to wake. He then looks to Alex, and he can't believe what he is seeing. He smiles to himself as he puts his fingers up to his lips and motions for the kids to be quiet, they all scramble out of bed very quietly and go to stand by their Father. He points back to the bed, Alex is sound asleep, with Bo lying across her chest. She has her right hand cradling the puppy, her left arm bent back under her head for a pillow, they're both sleeping very content.
            Walker tip toes over to his wife's computer and takes the digital camera, off it's docket, "I hope I know how to work this darn thing," he whispers.
            Cordell takes the camera from him, "You just point and shoot, Daddy---I'll do it."        

Cordell takes the picture and then puts it through the printer. The picture is perfect. "That's good son, now make several copies of it, okay?"
            As Cordell is making the copies, Walker eases the puppy away from Alex without waking her, and nudges the kids toward the door.
            "Come on guys, let's get Bo fed and watered and let him take care of some business. I'll get your breakfasts ready, then you got to get ready for school".
            Walker fixes the kids cereal and juice. The twins gobble their breakfast down, Cooper whispers to his twin, "Come on, Cordell, let’s go find 'it'!”
            Angela has gone back upstairs to get ready for school, Alex passes her on the stairs, she reaches down to kiss her, "Morning sweetheart."
            Walker is putting his gun on and finishing his coffee, he grins at his wife. "Morning, hon----sleep good?"
            Alex nods, and then she starts scratching. "Yes, I think so----I can't seem to stop scratching--- damn it, I just know that it's fleas."
            Walker kisses her gently, "It can't be fleas, if it was we would all be scratching---I think you've got one of those psychological mental blocks or whatever. You were so adamant about Bo not sleeping in the bed, that you've convinced yourself that he has fleas and now you're scratching at something that isn't there."
            Alex frowns, her brow arches---"Thank you very much for your observation report," she continues to scratch, "I still say, Bo has fleas."
            Walker nudges her towards her chair, "Sit down hon, I got your coffee and juice all ready."
            Alex sits down at the table, and then she does an double take. Staring back at her, propped up against her coffee and juice is a picture of her holding Bo. Her mouth drops open as she looks around the kitchen and there are more pictures---on the refrigerator, dishwasher, on the cabinet doors, etc.
            She stares back at her husband, "When-----how------why did you take those pictures?"
            Walker bends down and kisses her softly, "Because I have never seen you looking more beautiful, in your Motherly instinct manner. Whether the baby has two legs or four----admit it hon----you're totally hooked on the little guy."
            Alex tries to smile, then she stammers, "I was holding him----so he would stop crying."
            Walker rubs his bearded cheek against his wife's gently, "No excuses, Alex---- you're hooked.  You know that this is -- an omen---that we should think about having another baby."
            She smiles back at him, kissing him softly, "I do take it you're referring to a two legged one?"
            "Yes, the twins will soon be six years old, that should be long enough for Dr. Bates to give you the okay."
            She takes his hand in hers, "I want another baby too, sweetheart---but this is not the time. I'm swamped with cases, the kids are all in their activities, we're constantly trying to rearrange our schedules to go to as many of their events as possible----I would like to wait---at least another year----will that be okay?"
            Walker sighs, kissing his wife's hand. "Yeah---I know all of this takes a lot out of you, trying to be a full time Mom, have your career, and trying to keep me happy."
            "Trying to keep you happy? Walker---are you saying that I'm lacking in that department?"
           
"No honey---I didn't mean it that way," he kisses her quickly. "No, Alex, I'm not complaining--and least of all --- not in that department! I have never felt neglected in that department you give 110% of yourself. I just meant that sometimes, maybe I----put----too much demand---on you--in the sex department and maybe you think---you're------"
            Alex pulls back from him, "I feel like what----obligated? Is that what you're trying to say?"
               Walker's eyes look into his wife, "Well, I know sometimes you're too tired but---you consent------."
                  "Consent? Walker, you make it sound like that I'm only having sex with you because----it's a wife's job----how can you say that?"  Yes, there are times when I'm tired, and when I feel like I'm too tired, I tell you--I thought you understood?  There are times when you're tired and you don't feel up to it, but I try and understand that."
            "Alex, honey---I'm not complaining---I know there are times when neither of us wants it---I'm just-----well, I guess sometimes---I feel a little jealous. Now, don't read something into this----I love our kids, I love them so much it hurts---but Alex----sometimes I 'long' for those times when it was just us. I remember countless times when we would leave our offices and hurry back here, just to be alone with each other. The countless times we made love anywhere in the house, and we didn't have to worry about closing doors----and hell--if we wanted to walk around with no clothes---we could.  I miss that."
            Alex starts to laugh and rubs her husband's beard gently. "You're confusing me, one minute you're talking about wanting another baby and the next minute, complaining that we can't have our privacy. Honey, you can't have it both ways, when the kids started coming, our lives changed.  We both talked about the changes many times before we agreed to start a family---do you regret that now?"
            "No, Alex---you and the kids are my life!  I wanted a family---I still want---oh damn---the more I try to explain, the more confused I must sound to you. Alex, I love you, and I love each of the kids, I've never had any regrets about having them and I never will. Am I still sounding crazy and confusing to you?"
            She kisses him tenderly, "I have a confession to make---I've missed those times too, and I would love to turn back the clock and it be---just the two of us. But then I get jolted out of my daydream by one of the kids arguing or I feel their little arms wrapping around my legs while I'm preparing a meal---their kisses goodnight and their "I love you, Mommy’s" and then I say to myself--how lucky I am to have such a loving family.   No Walker---you're not sounding crazy or confused---we just have to work extra hard at finding some quality time for just the two of us."
            "Well, I have a suggestion----"
            "What's that?"
            "How about when I get back from this trip---you and I take a couple of days to ourselves and drive down to the gulf?"
            "The gulf?  Honey---it's cold outside, we wouldn't be able to do any fishing, or laying on the beach-----------" she stops talking and looks back to her husband's silly grin-----"which means--we would have to stay cooped up in a motel room-----all day-----all night."
                  Walker's brow dances up and down, "Sounds good to me, maybe "work" on another little Walker?"
            She giggles as they go into a tender kiss when the phone interrupts them.
            Walker grumbles, "And---no telephones."
            Alex answers the phone, she sighs, handing the phone to her husband---"It's Jimmy---wanting to know where you are---Huntsville---remember?"
            Walker scrambles for his jacket, "Tell him I left already---I'm on my way.----oh hon---I need some money---I spent all of my mad money on buying Bo and then stopping at the market for doggie food."
            "How much do you need?"
                 "Twenty will do."
            Alex is cradling the phone and reaching for her purse, "Twenty? That's hardly enough for you and Jimmy to eat on."
            Walker frowns, "Trivette can pay for his own food."
            A voice comes shouting back over the phone, "I heard that!"
            Alex laughs, "Goodbye, Jimmy---Walker is on his way and he will be paying for your dinner," she turns to Walker. "Really honey, would it hurt you to pay for Jimmy's meals once in awhile?"
            Walker takes a deep sigh, "I guess not, but the food always tastes better when he's paying for it and I get to hear him complain the rest of the day."
            "Here's $50---you better hurry---he sounds 'miffed'."
            Walker reaches over and kisses his wife, "Probably he and Erika are arguing again and he's not getting any--at least not fro-----"
            Alex pulls on his arm---"What did you mean by that?  Is Jimmy---seeing someone------"
            "Hon, I don't have time to get into it----I'll explain later----got to run---I'll be in late tonight----love ya."
            Walker is hurrying to the front door, he sees his daughter coming down the stairs, her backpack dragging on the stairs. He reaches up to help her get the backpack down.
            "What have you got in here, baby?"
            She looks up at him, her blue eyes looking deeply into his, she can melt his heart every time. Her smile lights up her whole face.
            "Just things for school, Daddy---it's 'show and tell'."
            "Oh---well okay---Daddy has to run---where are your brothers---getting ready for school?"
            "No, Daddy--they're looking for your doghouse so they can put Bo in it----is Mama still scratching?"
            "My doghouse?"  Walker says to himself. "Angela--that's just an expression---I don't have a doghouse----and Mommy is scratching at phantom fleas."
            The little girl looks to her Daddy in confusion, she whispers, "What kind of fleas are those, Daddy?"
            Walker keeps looking at his watch, "I can't explain right now, but don't you go to school telling your little friends that Mommy has any kind of fleas---or I will be sleeping in the doghouse."
            "But Daddy---you said you didn't have a doghouse-----"
                      "Angela, baby---I got to go---Daddy loves you and have a nice day at school---okay baby?"
            Walker is now running to his Ram, he stops and sees the twins walking around, shrugging their shoulders. He hears one ask, "Are you sure you can't find it?"
            Walker sighs and walks over to them, "Hey guys, come here."
            The twins walk up to their Daddy with Cordell holding Bo. They stand side by side, looking back at Walker, their cheeks rosy from the cold air. When they're standing this close, it's almost impossible for even him to tell them apart. They dress almost identically, even when Alex leaves it up to them to pick out their attire. They stare back at him, their eyes blinking.
            "We can't find your doghouse anywhere, Daddy---we looked all over," comments Cooper.
            "Yeah, Daddy--we even looked up in the loft---where is it? We want it for Bo so he can sleep in it."
            Walker keeps looking at his watch, "Guys---listen to me---there is no doghouse----yet----Look, why don't you both go get ready for school, and ask Mommy if she will take you to the pet store and buy Bo his very own house?"
            The twins' faces light up, "His very own?"
            "Will it costs a lot of money, Daddy--I only got this much," Cordell holds out his hand, a total of 76 cents, Cooper just shakes his head.
            "I don't got no money," he replies.
            Walker takes a deep breath and reaches for the $50 that Alex gave him, "Here guys--give this back to Mommy and tell her to buy Bo his doghouse."
            The boys' eyes light up, "That's a lot of money---come on Cooper--lets' put Bo in the barn and then go tell Mommy.”
            The twins start running to the barn and Walker shouts out to them ,"Put Bo in that last stall and make sure the gate is closed."
            The Ranger stands there for a moment, pulling out empty pockets and a wallet that is bare. "Oh great---I sure hope Trivette is over his mad spell---cause he's buying supper!"


                                     ***********************************
            In the weeks to follow, the twins are true to their word about taking care of Bo. The doghouse has been bought and a cyclone fence has been erected around it.
                "Daddy, why can't Bo run freely?"
            Walker takes a breather and pulls the twins over to him, "Well, guys--when Bo is a little older and feels comfortable with his surroundings, I'll take the fence down, but he's still just a baby and he doesn't understand the dangers of farm life, just yet. There are dangers out there, predators that will try to hurt him."
            "You mean coyotes, Daddy?"
            "Yes, Cooper---and there are also wolves that are up in the hills over there. Also, snakes, skunks, and even vultures."
            "Will they try to hurt Bo?” Asks Cordell.
            "Yes, son---coyotes are very bad about that, especially on young animals that haven't learned the ropes yet about survival. Bo has to get older and stronger to stand up to the coyotes, and eventually his animal instinct will take over and he will learn to stay away from them, or else get to a safer place."
            The boys look back and forth to each other and then they each smell the dog's coat, they shrug.
            "But, you got a gun, Daddy---you can shoot all of the coyotes."
            "No, son---coyotes are here on this earth for a reason--God put them here to keep down the rats and also to keep the dead carcasses from accumulating out in the fields. Every animal has a purpose in life, it's like that movie, "Lion King", it's their circle of life--remember when the young lion was being told------"
                 "Simba---Daddy---his name was Simba, and his Daddy's name was Mustofo----or something like that," replies Cordell.
            "Yes, that's right. Remember how Simba's Daddy was explaining how the circle of life comes into play------the antelope is eaten by the lion for food, and when the lion dies his spirit goes back into the earth and is nourishment for the antelope, and so forth."
            "So the lion can eat the antelope again?"
            "Yes son, something like that.  And so when the coyote was put on the earth, his purpose is to cleanse the earth of rodents and to keep the fields of the farmers clear of dead animals, which is also one of the purposes of the vulture. They clean our highways, so the dead animals won't pile up and cause us, the humans, to have wrecks."
            "But, I don't understand, if coyotes just eat the dead animals, why would they want to hurt Bo?"
            Walker reaches for the glass of tea that Angela had brought out to him earlier, he takes a long drink. "Because, son---coyotes don't just eat animals that are already dead, they’re scavengers-yes---but they also attack live animals too, especially the young ones."
            The twins look back and forth to each other, as Cordell picks up "Bo" and starts holding him tighter. "Will you show us how to protect Bo?”
            "Of course I will. That's why, during the day, while you kids are in school, Bo needs to stay inside this fenced in area. I've sprinkled sulfur around the outside to keep not only the coyotes away, but snakes too. I've also hooked up a stereo system to play music so the noise will help to keep them away too. At night, he will sleep in the barn, the barn door is always closed, the coyotes can't get in, and Bo and the horses are all safe.  Now---as Bo gets older, his instincts will naturally kick in about dangers---but son---sometimes---even that's not enough."
            The twins smell the dog again, Cooper's eyes narrow, "Daddy, Bo don't stink---he smells like a dog."
            Walker stares back at his sons, he laughs softly, "Guys, I'm not saying ' in stink'--I'm saying 'instinct."
            "What does that mean, Daddy?"
            "Instinct means a feeling that we all have, especially animals. This feeling is like a little voice at the back of our minds that try to tell us when something is not right, that there may be a danger in what we're about to do. Sometimes these instincts or feelings are not warning enough, and we have to learn by our mistakes and sometimes that means punishment."
            Cordell is squeezing Bo tighter, "Oh, I know---it's like when we're not suppose to do something but we do it anyways, knowing we're not suppose to and then we get a spanking for it."
                    Walker's brow arches, "Yeah son---something like that." He ponders his son's statement and wonders which incident Cordell is referring to. He clears his throat, "That's a lot like what I'm trying to explain---yeah, that's it."
            Walker reaches over and pets Bo gently, the dog licks his hand and the twins giggle. "He likes you, Daddy."
            "I like him, too" replies Walker. "Living in the country has a lot of hidden dangers, I've tried teaching all of you kids how to tell a poisonous snake from one that isn't. But at no time are you ever to assume that a snake is not poisonous, you never try to pick one up---right?"
            The twins both nod their heads, "No, Daddy, we won't. We get away as soon as it's safe."
            "Will Bo know when a snake is poisonous?"
            "Not all the time," Walker smiles and reaches out and takes the puppy. "You see son, animals are by nature, very curious. That's their nature, that's how they survive. Sometimes Bo might not use good judgment and it's almost certain that sooner or later Bo will have a run in with a snake, of both kinds. And, when this happens---you kids know what to do---remember?"
            "Yes, Daddy--we make Bo be still so the blood will slow and the poison will too. We call the vet as soon as possible, if Mommy is near by she knows how to use a snake bite kit---if not - we cut the bite and put a 'turnkit" on it."
            Walker smiles, "Tourniquet---son. That's right and remember an animal's instinct is to lick at his wounds, try to keep Bo from doing that---this just puts more poison back into the bloodstream—understand?"
            "Yes, Daddy we'll do that---I don't want Bo to ever get bit by a snake--or one of those stinking coyotes." Cordell replies angrily.
            Walker hands the puppy back to his sons, "I hope that never happens either, but like I said---country life has more dangers than living in the city. Bo is going to be a country dog, he has to deal with the dangers, we can do just so much to protect him, but Mother nature and Bo's instincts will have to do the rest---okay, guys?"
            The twins nod their heads, "Yes, we understand and when we see a snake or a mean old coyote, we will make sure that Bo understands to stay away from them---okay, Daddy?"
            Walker smiles back at his sons, "I think Bo is in very good hands."


                                 ***********************************


            A very dry spring has come to north Texas, forcing the farmers and ranchers to resort to digging more irrigation ditches to bring water to their livestock.  The weatherman is predicting a very dry summer, and it hasn't rained in months! The temperature is already hitting triple digits.
            The twins spend the afternoons, taking slow rides further and further into the fields and letting Bo follow behind them. They laugh when Bo sees a rabbit and gives chase, the border collie is no match for the rabbit that soon scampers into a hole. The dog is discovering other small animals and he's running after them as fast as his small legs will carry him. The dog soon tires and comes back to the twins, and they give him fresh water and start home.
            In the late evening, they play with the dog, teaching him tricks. The dog is panting as the twins squirt him with the water hose, and Bo is jumping up in the air, trying to catch the water. The twins have stripped down to their bvd's and trying to squirt each other, Angela is sitting on the porch, playing with one of her dolls. The twins stop and nudge each other, then they grab Bo and whisper in his ear. The dog runs up on the porch and grabs the doll, the twins then turn the water hose on their sister. She is squealing and crying out for her Mother.
            As Alex comes running out of the house, Bo runs past her---straight into the house.
            "Get that dog out of the house," shouts Alex.
            "Oh, Mommy---he's just playing."
            Angela has stopped screaming as she runs straight at the twins and knocks them down into the mud, and all three are rolling in it. Alex is running back in the house, screaming at the dog.
            "Don't you dare get on my kitchen floor, I just waxed it---BO----you stupid dog, look what you've done!"
            Bo has hit the kitchen floor, his legs go flying out from under him and he hits the kitchen table, knocking over a chocolate cake that was baked for supper. Now the dog has discovered the dessert and is lapping it up. Alex is reaching for her broom and going after the dog, she slips on the cake and the waxed floors, and goes sliding head first into the laundry room. The kids have heard the noise and are running into the house, muddy feet and all.
            Alex is trying to stand as she is swatting out at the dog, she sees the kids come running in with muddy feet. She yells at them to stop, and then her feet go out from under her again, and she lands face first in the remains of the chocolate cake. A terrified "Bo" runs out of the house and heads for the barn.
            The twins stop and stare at their Mother, "Are you alright, mama?" asks Angela.
            Alex stands up slowly, spitting the cake out, she turns to the kids, "All of you----get upstairs now---take a bath---and get back down here----NOW.”
            Three scared and confused kids are scampering up the stairs, Alex is swearing underneath her breath as she looks at her freshly waxed floor.
            "My floor---I just spent two hours waxing it and now look-----my cake---that's it! That dog has to go!"
            Walker is taking the porch steps two at a time, and whistling. (He doesn't know he's about to step into a hornet's nest.) He throws his Stetson over to the hat rack, where it lands perfectly. He's still whistling as he takes his gun belt off and hangs it up, taking the gun out and locking it up in the gun cabinet. He turns around to see three sad faces staring back at him, sitting side by side on the sofa.
            "Hey guys," he tries to sound cheerful, "what's wrong, you act like you've lost your best friend?"
            The twins are about to cry as Angela says quietly, "Mama said we had to get rid of Bo-----she doesn't want him here anymore."
            Walker stares back at them, "Get rid of Bo---why? What did he do?"
            The sad faces look towards the kitchen as Alex slowly walks out, her hair is in a complete mess, and she's holding a mop. "Have you got an hour or two? I'll tell you why that dog has to go----it's either him---or me."
            Walker groans, "Oh no-----I see your Mother has been cleaning her kitchen----and I know what that means!" He looks back at the kids, "Stay here, I'll see what I can do."
            The kids sit quietly on the sofa as they hear their parents' voices getting louder. They look back and forth at each other, their feet dangling over the couch.
                 "Mommy sure is mad," whispers Cooper.
            "Yeah, she's mad at Bo---she doesn't like him."
            Angela looks to her brothers, "Mama is mad because he tracked all over her clean floor and then knocked Daddy's cake into the floor and ate it---she's mad at us too."
            Cooper starts to cry, "Does that mean she wants to get rid of us, too, and Bo?”
            Angela puts her arms around her brother, "I don't think so, Daddy won't let her get rid of us, too."
            "I don't want to get rid of Bo neither," cries Cordell, "he was just hungry, he didn't mean it."
            A half hour passes and soon Walker walks back into the living room, he rubs his hands together, "Uhhhhh guys----"
            The twins start crying uncontrollably, "Nooooo, we don't want to go, please Daddy---don't let Mommy get rid of us and Bo---we'll mind better, we promise and Bo will too--we promise."
                    Angela's eyes fill with tears, "We're all sorry---it won't happen again."
            Walker smiles as he sits down on the couch, picking up Angela and pulling the twins closer to him. He kisses each of them.
            "Guys, c'mon---you know Mommy was just upset and all, she didn't mean that she wanted to get rid of Bo and most certainly not you kids! She loves all of you too much for that, she was just a little angry with Bo---and it all came out wrong."
            Cordell is sobbing, "Does that mean we can keep Bo?"
            Walker is getting misty as he kisses the top of his son's head, "Yes---you can keep Bo but some changes have to be made around here, by all of us."
            Cooper is wiping his eyes, "Like what?"
            "Well, we're going to have a nice long talk about it, all of us are. But, right now, why don't you kids go help Mommy clean up the kitchen, and I will go have a nice long talk with Bo and the trouble he just caused."
            "Are you going to spank him, Daddy?" Asks Angela.
            "No, baby---I'm not going to spank him, he wouldn't know what he's being punished for, because too much time has passed since this happened. We're just going to talk---I promise."
            The kids start climbing down off the couch and running to the kitchen, but Cordell stops and walks back to his father. "Will Bo be able to understand when you talk to him, Daddy?"
            "Yes son, he's a descendant of the wolf, isn't he?"
            "Yes, Daddy and the wolf and us are blood brothers---we're Firewalkers."
            Walker lies his hand on his son's shoulder, "That's right---the wolf and Firewalkers are blood brothers, and Bo will listen to his ancestors--and me---or else the lady chief will scalp us both."
                                      ******************************************


            The months pass and Alex is mellowing some, about letting Bo come into the house in the hottest part of the day. In the late evenings, the kids play with him on the porch, music is always playing, and the twins start to dance around. Bo’s tail is wagging back and forth as he tries to copy them, standing up on his hind legs and bouncing around.
            Alex is sitting in the porch swing watching them, and Walker is laying down with his head in her lap. Alex is mumbling to herself, "He sure is living up to his name, isn't he?"
            Walker turns his head towards them and smiles, "Yep, he sure is---Mr. Bojangles, himself."
            "I wonder," whispers Alex, "honey, get up, I want to try something."
            Walker groans, "Just as I was getting comfortable, what are you going to do?"
            "You'll see," she runs into the house. Walker and the kids look back and forth to each other in complete confusion.
            Fifteen minutes later, Alex walks over to the kids' boom box and flips open the disc player, popping in a disc. "I remembered having this, it's an old Sammy Davis Jr. recording of  "Mr. Bojangles" let's just see how Bo reacts to it.
            The disc plays and Bo just stares back at each of the Walkers. Walker sighs, "I don't think he's impressed."

Bo - Part III

            The twins turn the music up louder and soon Cooper has learned the words as he begins to sing. Cordell encourages Bo to dance again by holding him up on his hind legs and dancing with him. The dog needs little encouragement as he starts bouncing up and down and howling to the music. Walker and Alex are laughing as Cooper starts to glide across the porch, doing a 'soul' impression to the music. He begins to sing:
                     "I knew a man,
                       Bojangles and
                      he'd dance for you
                       in worn out shoes.
                      He would jump so high
                       jump so high-
                      and lightly touch down.
                      Mr Bojangles
                      call him Bojangles-----and dance


            The rest of the evening is spent listening to the kids sing, and watching Bo dance.


                              *****************************************


            Cordell keeps calling for his dog, but there is no answer. Cordell walks out into the fields, whistling for him, still he does not see his four-legged friend anywhere. The boy goes running back into the house, calling for his Mother.
            "I can't find him anywhere, Mommy----where is he?"
            Alex reaches down and tries to console her son. "Sweetheart, maybe he's out chasing after a rabbit---or something---he'll be home soon."
            "But, Mommy---what about the coyotes? They'll hurt Bo if he runs into them."
            Alex pulls her son over to Walker's recliner, "I'm not so sure about that! Remember last week when those two coyotes tried to get into the hen house, Bo went after them, he whipped up on them real bad, Bo is learning to take up for himself real good. Those coyotes haven't been back since."
            "Maybe we should go look for him, huh—Mommy?"
            "Would that make you feel better, sweetheart?"
            "Yes, Mommy---please?"
            Alex and the twins look for nearly two hours, Bo is not to be found. The twins start to cry as they head for home. When they pull up into the driveway, they see Bo sitting up on the porch, staring back at them, totally exhausted!
            "BO!!” The twins start shouting, running towards him. They fall down on the porch, wrestling with each other. Bo soon pulls away from them and walks slowly towards the barn, the twins start to run after him, Alex pulls them back.
            "Guys, wait---Bo looks very tired, I think he wants to sleep."
            That night Alex relays Bo's behavior to her husband, he goes out to the barn .He soon returns, grinning.
            "Alex, there is nothing wrong with Bo except" -----he stops in mid sentence as the kids all look to him, their eyes wide.
            "What, Daddy---what's wrong with Bo?"
            Walker stammers as he looks back to his wife, "Well---it's like this guys----I think Bo has a girlfriend----and they've been playing---rather hard."
            Alex is soon smiling, and then she sighs.
            "A girlfriend?" Asks Cordell.
            "We play with Bo and he doesn't get that tired when we play with him," replies Cooper.
            Angela frowns as she sees the looks on her parents' faces, "Huh oh," she says quietly.
            "What?  Why are you saying that, Angela, is that a bad thing?"
            Angela bites her bottom lip as Alex tries to explain. "No, it's not a bad thing, Cordell-----"
            Walker can't help but tease, as he reaches out and pinches his wife's buttocks, "I don't know about that, some males may look at it as a bad thing---Girlfriends can sure cause a guy to do crazy things----and we get----sooooo tired."
                "WALKER---behave yourself---you're not helping matters much."
            Walker laughs, "I'm sorry---guys come here."

They all sit down at the long oak dinner table and Walker and Alex try to explain why Bo has a girlfriend and that these little trips might get to be more frequent.
            Later in bed that night, Alex looks to her husband in amazement.
            She snuggles up closer to him, "Okay, Dr. Ruth-how did you know that was the problem, that Bo has a girlfriend?"
                "Because he told me, that's how. Remember---my ancestors taught me how to listen to animals."
            "Oh yeah, right! C'mon---tell me----how did you know?"
            "It's simple, Alex---he had that look on his face."
            "What look?"
            "That silly little look I have on my face---right now," he teases.
            She snuggles closer, "But we haven't done anything for you to get that silly little look or is it just anticipation of what's to come?"
            He groans as he reaches over and flips her over on her back, kissing her neck---"Call it whatever you like, I just know that ever since Eve tempted Adam with that apple, the male species has learned to grin in every way possible and our bodies are completely whipped---much like Bo's was earlier tonight---he was 'licking his wounds'.”
               "Wounds, huh, is that how you relate to it?"
                  Walker's hands are going under the sheets to find her thighs, "Love hurts------doesn't it?" He pinches the inside of her thigh, she cries out.
                   "Oooooh---you're going to pay for that---I'll make you think--"wounds"---you are not going to be walking too steady in the morning, and that's goes double for talking.---Come here Cowboy------I have a nice, juicy, wet, ----"
               Walker's brow is dancing up and down, "Yes?”
            She kisses him hard, and then squeezes his lips together---"A-P-P-L-E for you."
            "Apple, hell-------it better be the whole orchard--in your case--I better be picked, washed, and packed into a holding crate---and then sent straight to the consumer----to be eaten whole."
            Their giggles soon cease as the night's promises of ecstasy fill the room. Outside, a gentle breeze has picked up and the nostrils of the predator look towards the direction of the Walker ranch. The predators sniff the air, and then to the ground, they have found the scent of Bo and his female friend. The smell is strong as the bigger of the two predators urinate on the already soiled earth: they move forward.


                                   *******************************************


            The drought is now going into its 3rd month; the ground is cracking. The bearded Ranger looks up towards the skies, shaking his head.
            "I know you have reasons for what is happening, Lord---but right now I can't understand them.  If you don't see fit to send us some rain soon, everything will just dry up and blow away. My animals are thirsty, they can't last much longer."
            The twins are standing near their father, with Bo sitting between them. One whispers--"Do you think God is listening?"
            "Of course he is!" Snaps Angela, "God always listens, doesn't he, Daddy?"
            Walker sighs, slapping his hat against his knee. "Yes, baby---he listens, it's just that he doesn't always react immediately.  But, he has his reasons, and always remember there has to be others in worst shape than we are. We may end up losing a few livestock, but some of the other ranchers have lost a hell of a lot more! Some of them have to take out second and third mortgages on their homes, just to pay back the bank notes. If they can't pay the notes, they lose their ranches."
            "What about our home, Daddy, will we lose our home?"
            "No, Angela---fortunately the ranch is paid for--thanks to your great Uncle Ray. He made sure that the note would be paid off when he died, and that's a big load off my mind. This ranch and all of the land surrounding it will go to you kids when Mommy and I pass on."
            The kids all become very quiet, Cooper whispers, "You mean when you die, Daddy?"
            Walker nods his head slowly----"Yes Coop----there will come a day when Mommy and I will leave this earth. We've explained death to all of you kids, we're not going to live forever. Everything living has to die and make room for something or 'someone' else.  Are you forgetting the 'circle of life?"
            The twins become sad and Bo feels their sadness, he whimpers. He nudges Walker's hand and moans softly. The rancher goes down on one knee, petting the dog.
            "I'm sorry boy, I didn't mean to sound so glum." He looks to the kids,  "The truth is--your Mommy and I plan to be around for a long, long time---'cause after all we have grandkids to look forward to."
                 "Grandkids?  You mean us getting married ---to girls?"
            "I'm not marrying no girl," corrects their sister, "I'm going to marry a handsome prince---like Daddy."
            Walker smiles as he looks to his daughter, he knows that she will have more than her choice in boys. She's had him wrapped around her finger since the moment she was born, and every day since.
            The twins grimace and wipe their mouths, "Yuk----all girls want to do is kiss, I don't want no girl kissing on me, do you Cooper?"
            "NO WAY!" His twin replies.
            Walker laughs, "You'll change your mind when you get older, right now---let's get home, I'm hungry.  And, we have to take it slow, I don't want the horses running in this heat---understand?"
            They all turn and start walking to their horses, Bo stares off into the distance, and sees movement. He gives out a low growl as he looks back to make sure the kids are safely in their saddles. He starts to edge forward, and then he hears Cordell whistle to him, the dog turns and runs quickly up beside Cordell's horse.
            In the distance, the figures have seen the humans and they've spotted their relation to them. They growl, pacing back and forth, smacking their jaws. It's a game of 'wait'--- to see who will give in first.


                                      ****************************************


            Walker is loading up his Ram, with Alex standing near his door as he walks back to climb inside.
            "I hate it when you have to go out of town for so long-----every time I get a slack in my cases, then yours pick up----how long do you think you'll be gone?"
            "Hon, I wouldn't be going at all if the courts had taken care of Cal Greene and his murdering thugs the first time around. I can't believe, that in this day and age, a murderer can still go free on a technicality."

"Refusing to read them their Miranda rights, was not the reason they went free. Those officers also obtained evidence without a search warrant, not to mention the judge was bias."
            "It's all irrelevant to the victims and their families, hon---those people are still just as dead"!
               "Walker, I know that," Alex whispers, "Honey---please be careful."
            Walker kisses her tenderly, "I will." He wipes the sweat from his brow, "Damn----I mean darn this blasted weather---I don't recall it ever being so hot. That little rain that we got last night didn't do anything except to make it worse, now it's all hot and humid. Alex-----please make sure the boys keep the water troughs full, and keep "Amigo" and the others inside the corral during the day---it's too hot for them to be out in the pastures."
            "Yes honey---I will."
            "And, another thing---make the kids stay close, I don't want them playing out in the fields. In fact, keep the kids inside as much as possible---and also Bo.”
                 "Walker, what's wrong?"
            "Well, it could be nothing but the hair on the back of my neck is starting to twitch---I feel something is not right. Did you hear anything last night?"
            "No---it was unusually quiet---why?"
            "That's what is bothering me, the coyotes weren't howling and that says only one thing. They are getting thirstier and could become more aggressive and start coming closer to the ranch for water-----and food."
            Alex rubs her husband's face gently, "Okay, honey, I'll keep the kids close and Bo. Try not to worry, and I will take Bo inside as soon as he gets home---I think he has another girlfriend he's calling on. I saw him up close to highway 199, yesterday evening.
            Walker takes his wife into his arms and squeezes her gently, "I can't stop worrying about you and the kids, you're my whole life, I couldn't live with myself if anything happened to either of you---I love you Alexandra Walker."
            "And, I love you--Cordell Walker---now get out of here before you have us both crying."
            "Tell the kids bye for me, I'll call home tonight---kiss them for me."
            The Ram pulls slowly down the long gravel drive. Alex takes a long sigh and looks around for the Border collie. She mumbles, "Okay, Romeo----where are you?"


                                     ****************************************


            Night falls and the kids have done their homework and attempt to play with Bo, but he just rolls over and stares back at them.
            "I have your rubber ball Bo, want to play?"
            The dog continues to just lay on the floor, a 'far away' look is in his eyes, he whimpers. Alex is watching the dog as he starts to get up and then lays back down. She walks over to him slowly and kneels beside him. She rubs his coat and then she feels the moisture-----blood!!!!!
            "Oh my God---Bo’s been hurt---Angela--run to the hall bathroom and get the first aid kit---hurry!"
            Alex gently goes over every inch of Bo's body, she finds no scratches, cuts, or bite marks. The kids are looking at her; their eyes are filling with tears.
            "What's wrong with Bo? Why is he bleeding?"
            Alex is confused, she shrugs her shoulders, "I don't know, I can't see any wounds---of any kind."
            "What do we do, Mommy?"
            Alex looks back to the dog as he lays his head up against her hand, whimpering softly. "I guess the only safe thing to do is to take him to the vet, maybe ---he might have swallowed something. Let's go---get my keys, Cooper, Angela---go open the doors, I have to try and carry him."
            "I'll help you, Mommy," Cordell replies.
            Hours later find Alex explaining Bo's behavior to her husband.
            "And, the vet said that he hadn't been bitten by anything---and didn't swallow anything," explains Alex.
            "That's odd, so the only explanation is--- that it wasn't his blood," comments Walker.
            "This is so weird, Walker----how did he get blood all over him?"
            "I don't know hon, unless he rolled in it--in the carcass of a dead animal."
            "Is that typical---for dogs to do that?"
            Walker is stammering for an explanation, "I'm not sure, I know wild animals will do it, but domestic--I'm not sure. I do know that they will roll in another animal's excrement, but the blood---I guess anything is possible."
            Alex takes a deep sigh, "How are the hairs on the back of your neck, was this that uneasy feeling you had?"
            Walker rubs the back of his neck, he smiles--"I guess it was, my hairs have stopped waving at each other. What's Bo doing now?"
            Alex turns to the laundry room; Bo raises his head and stares at her. "He's laying in the laundry room, just staring at me. He doesn't seem to be in any pain, he just looks----lonesome."
            "Yeah, I know exactly how he feels---are the kids in bed already?"
            "Yes, but I don't think they're asleep, want to talk to them?"
            While Walker talks to each of his kids, Alex walks over to Bo and bends down to pet him, he licks her hand and rolls over on his belly. Soon the kids are off to bed, and the house becomes dark.
            "Bo whimpers, but sleep soon overtakes him. His body is convulsing from the dreams he is having. There are so many of them, snapping and growling, and tearing at the carcass on the ground. Bo is growling and trying to get closer, the bone crushing noise is forcing him to retreat. His instincts tell him there are too many of them, and the carcass on the ground is beyond his help--beyond anyone's help. He lays down a safe distance away until the predators are through with their onslaught, and they all run away.
            The dog moves closer to the carcass on the ground, he whimpers and walks in circles, sniffing the air. He smells their stench, and the blood that is left behind. All that remains of the carcass is a small patch of spotted fur, the only remains to the little female blue heeler that lived across highway 199. Bo continues to whimper as he edges closer, then lays down beside what is left of the dog's body, He rolls over her body, back and forth. He lays for the longest, looking around him and to the direction from where the pack of coyotes fled. He emits a low growl deep within him. He soon tires and starts for the safety of home.


                                    ***********************************


            The next few days has Alex watching Bo very closely, he's back to playing with the kids again and chasing his rubber ball. The kids are tossing the ball back and forth when it rolls under the dryer and one of the twins runs to get it. Bo watches the boy run to the dryer and gives chase, knocking the boy down.
            "Bo---stop it----I'm just getting your ball."
            Again the boy starts towards the dryer and again Bo knocks him down, and growls softly.
                 "Mommy, Bo keeps knocking me down---his ball is under the dryer."
            "Not again," replies Alex, "I'll have to get the broom handle and knock it out---hold on."
            Bo is backing up to the dryer, and starts snapping at the broom. "You crazy dog---move----this is the third time this week that ball has rolled under the dryer. One more time---and your attitude will just let it stay there."
            Alex finally knocks the ball out, and Bo continues to back Alex and the broom away from the laundry room. “What's with you, Bo?  Kids---put Bo outside, maybe he needs to take care of business."
            The kids take Bo for a short walk, after his business is through, he runs back to the house and through the doggie door leading to the laundry room. He lies across the doorway and growls each time one of the family comes near.
            Alex is becoming uneasy about the dog's behavior, she's having second thoughts about Dr. Roberts saying there is nothing wrong with him. He lets them come near enough to feed and to pet him, but if they try to get into the laundry room, he starts to growl.
                   "Something is not right," Alex is mumbling to herself. "Maybe it will be better if he sleeps in the barn tonight and come morning, I'm having another talk with the doctor."
            The kids all complain that Bo can't stay in the house that night, but Alex holds firm and Bo is locked up in his stall in the barn. The dog starts howling the minute the twins walk away and they can still hear him once they reach the porch.
            Bo starts jumping up as high as he can till finally he pulls himself over the stall door. He runs to the closed barn door and starts digging, he then spots the bales of stacked hay. His ears perk up as he runs and takes a flying leap to the bales, they start falling down, but his feet make contact with the floor of the loft. He strains to pull himself up and then he heads for the only opening available. He jumps out of the opening that is used to pull hay up on a hoist and lands feet first on the hard ground below him, knocking the wind out of him. He shakes his head back and forth, and runs straight to the back door and through the doggie door. He walks around unsteady, scratching at the dryer and growling. He hears a 'hissing' sound and the sound of a rattle. He continues to growl and then goes back to lie across the doorway. He will sleep with one eye open, watching any movement that comes from the laundry room.


To be continued….


Bo - Part IV

By Sasquaw

            The kids awake early and go running to the kitchen for their breakfast. Alex smiles as she kisses each one of them.
            "Hey guys, make Bo go out for his business and get him to run around for awhile, I don't think he's moved from that spot all night."
            The twins go to get Bo, pulling on him gently, "Come on, Bo Mommy says you have to take care of business, that means you have to go pee-pee."
            Bo growls low as the twins get closer; he stands up and turns in circles, looking back at the dryer. He barks at the boys, as they to come into the laundry room after him.
            Alex groans, "That's it!" She reaches out and drags Bo out of the laundry room. "Now listen, I'm losing my patience with you---out you go---and you stay outside till you can stop all this growling."
            The boys practically drag the dog out the front door, and Alex closes the door after them. Bo runs back to the door, scratching and barking. The twins are trying to pull him away, he turns on them and growls, and they both back up.
            "Why is Bo growling at the twins, Mama?" asks Angela.
            An uneasy feeling is coming over Alex as she opens the door and tells the boy to hurry inside. They all watch as Bo is desperately trying to knock the screen door down.
            Alex nudges Angela, "Go and close the doggie door so he can't get in."
            "But, Mommy, he always comes in after he does business," pleads Cooper.
            "Not this time, something is wrong with him--I'm calling Dr. Roberts."
            Angela has gone running to the back door just as Bo comes around and is trying to crawl in through his door. Angela locks it just in time, backing up slowly. She does not see the shadow slithering across the doorway, into the kitchen, but Bo does.  He's going berserk, tearing at the doggie door!! Angela screams and goes running to the front room.
            "Mama is Bo sick---he's acting so mean."
            Alex shakes her head, "I don't know, sweetheart, get up to the table, all of you and eat---I'm calling Dr. Roberts."
            The kids have their breakfasts in front of them, but they can't eat. They keep staring out at their dog. Bo is howling and banging himself up against the door and the doggie door is starting to shatter.
            "Pay him no mind, kids---eat your breakfast---now."
            Alex is trying to relay her fears to the vet. "I'm so afraid that he will try to hurt one of the kids, he's acting so strange."
            "I checked him from head to toe, Mrs. Walker, I found no evidence that he could have been bitten---he doesn't sound rabid. Is he foaming at the mouth?"
            "No---he was okay until we tried to get him out of the laundry room, then he starts growling and snapping---Dr. Roberts---please--send someone out to get him."
            Alex is walking back and forth with the telephone in her hand as the kids watch Bo’s behavior get even worse. Now he's chewing at the door, and trying to squeeze himself in through the tiny opening.
                "Mommy---he's getting in!"
            "Dr. Roberts---please hurry---send the animal control out to get him, he's mad!"
            The kids all scream as Bo comes flying through the door, pulling the rest of the door away from its hinges. Alex screams at them to climb up on the table, she's screaming for Dr. Roberts to do something.
            Bo is now in the middle of the kitchen floor, staring back at Alex and then past her to the slithering object that is crawling closer to Alex's right leg. Bo bares his teeth, and his growl is getting fiercer, as he walks towards Alex slowly.
            "Oh, my God, Bo stop it---get away from me---Dr. Roberts---he's going to attack-------"
            Alex cannot finish her sentence as Bo leaps through the air, knocking her to the floor, she screams.
            "Mrs. Walker----Mrs. Walker----what's happening?"
            The phone has lost its connection as Alex hits the floor. Bo is crawling over her and grabbing something, shaking it back and forth. The kids are all screaming and crying, as Angela's mouth drops open.
            "A snake!  Mama---there's a snake---Bo is fighting a snake!”
            Alex is scrambling to get up on the table with the kids. She looks down to see Bo clamping down on the head of a diamondback rattler, his teeth going deep into the snake's head, shaking it back and forth.
            Alex is shoving the kids off the table, "Run to the front room---and stay there!"
                "Mommy--what are you going to do?"
            "I've got to help Bo---go to the front room---hurry!"
            As Bo is trying to hold the snake still, Alex grabs a iron skillet and starts hitting the snake, the snake is still trying to get out of Bo’s grasp.
            Alex swears, "Oh, no you don't," she runs to the front room past the kids and grabs Walker's 12 gauge shotgun. She pumps shells into the barrel and runs back to the kitchen.
            Bo is still clamping down as hard as he can as Alex puts the shotgun up to her shoulder and points it.
            Bo drop him---NOW!"
            As if on cue, the dog drops the head of the snake, the snake slithers backward, hisses and strikes out at Bo, the blast is ear shattering and the snake's head goes flying. Bo runs to the front room and into the arms of the twins, he whimpers.
            Alex stands there in a daze. The kids all walk up to her slowly. "Are you alright, Mama?"
            She reaches out for them and they all grab her, crying. She reassures them that she is okay and then she looks to Bo He doesn't know if he wants to go to her or not, he whimpers.
            "Come here, Bo," as she lays the shotgun down. The dog looks to the gun and then to what is left of the snake, he halfway crawls up to Alex and the kids. She pats his head, talking to him softly.
            "He's just scared, Mommy---Daddy's gun made a lot of noise," replies Cordell as he makes an effort to clear his own ears.
            The dog soon starts licking Alex's hand and trying to get into her arms, they all laugh, and hold each other tightly.
            Alex and the kids are coming down the front steps as the animal control and a police cruiser pull up. Bo is walking beside the twins as the police officer draws his gun and points it at Bo.
            "We got him covered, Mrs. Walker---just walk away from him," the officer shouts.
            Alex draws Bo closer, "Don't you dare harm one hair on this dog---or I will have your badge!"
            The officer and the animal control look back and forth at each other, "We had reports of a rabid dog, Mrs. Walker."
            Alex shakes her head, "The report was wrong, I am taking our dog into Dr. Roberts to be examined, to make sure he didn't get any venom in him from that snake."
                 "Snake?" The men all say at the same time.
            Alex gets the kids and Bo loaded into her SUV, and then she turns to animal control, "Yes, there's the body of a snake on my kitchen floor, you'll find the remains of it's head---probably all over the kitchen. Would you please try to get as much of it out of my kitchen as you can, before we get back?"
            The animal control officers stare at each other and snicker. "Probably just a little old bull snake, they can't hurt anyone."
            The three men do a double take at what they are seeing. "Holy crap----that's the biggest diamondback I've ever seen, he must be at least 6 ft long---where's the rest of him?"
            The police officer steps over the snake's body and walks to the kitchen sink, he grimaces---"Part of him is in the sink---other parts of him are covering the walls!"
            "What the hell did she use on him, a cannon?"
            The police officer picks up the shotgun, breaks the barrel open and ejects the remaining shell. He grins, "And, she only used one shell, just think what kind of mess we would have if she had used both barrels."
            The animal control officers shake their heads, "She's a good shot."
            The officer smirks, "I wouldn't expect anything less, after all she's married to Cordell Walker, and he's one of the best damn law officers in Texas !!"


                                            ******************************


            Cordell Walker listens to his wife relay what has happen over the past 24 hours. He looks around the kitchen, not seeing any evidence of the scenario that just unfolded. He didn't expect to see the kitchen in any shape except immaculate, and that's just how it was. She and the kids had been cleaning for hours. A six-foot diamondback would certainly not change her cleaning routine---no way in hell!
            They walk up the stairs and go to each of the kids' rooms. Bo is walking back and forth to each room too, making sure that his little human friends are all tucked safely into their beds. He jumps up on each of their beds and look back to Alex for approval. She runs her hands over his black and white coat, she then tips his nose up and kisses him gently. The dog's tail is wagging back and forth, as he then looks to Walker.
            The Ranger strokes his coat, "Sounds like to me that someone in this family is in for huge steak----and I will personally pick out the thickest one I can find---you did good, boy---I'm proud of you."
            They walk slowly back to their bedroom, and Walker has that silly little grin. "The kids are sound asleep---what say-----we work on that little Walker again?"
            His wife coos back at him, "It's the wrong time of the month---but why should that stop us?"
            He pulls her slowly to their bed, smiling, "It's never slowed us down before---I'm game---if you are!"
            They fall slowly into the bed, each of them shedding their clothes as quickly as possible and reaching for each other. Their sighs are getting louder as they slide under the sheets. Suddenly a loud thump has shaken their bed.

"BO," groans Walker-----'what the hell--------"
            Alex starts laughing, "You just thought all of the kids were asleep--you forgot about the newest member to this family."
            Walker looks back at the dog, Bo's eyes are all lit up, and his smile is as close to that of a human's as possible. The Ranger shakes his head, and then he starts laughing.
            "At least with the two legged kids, they wait to be given permission to enter---but not this one---I'm afraid we're going to have to start locking our bedroom door."
            They both start laughing and Bo rolls over on his stomach to be petted. He gives them both a huge wet kiss and then he jumps down, and heads back to the twins' room. A few seconds later he can be seen going back to Angela's room---and then back to the twins'.
            Walker sighs, "Our sentry is wide awake, hon--- and something tells me that this going back and forth to each of the kids' rooms is going to be a nightly routine--so therefore---that door is getting locked."
            Walker pads across the floor quickly and slips a chair up under the doorknob, he looks back to his wife, and that silly grin is back.
            "Now---where were we?" he asks coyly.
            Alex giggles and gestures him forward with her index finger. "Come here cowboy---we were working on another little Walker."

Bo - Part V

            The month of June has arrived, still no rain. Texas is having one of the worst droughts ever in its history.
            More irrigation ditches are being dug and re-routed to arrange for more livestock to be moved to the north pasture. As these ditches are being dug, the others are being dammed up so as all the water on the Walker land will be diverted to just one section. The livestock will be more confined and not as much grazing space for both the cattle and the horses.
            Walker and his sons are slowly rounding up the last of his and Hank Ferguson's herd and heading them to the north fields. Hank Ferguson is damming up the rest of the irrigation ditches in the other fields. The ranger is moving the livestock slowly as the heat has reached 115. The twins are drinking their water quickly, Walker keeps reminding them to go slow.
               "Daddy, it's so hot---can we please jump into the river and cool off?"
            Walker wipes his brow, "No son, it's too dangerous!  The water snakes are still too active, they too are trying to stay cool--and the water will be their place to head to."
                 "Mommy said that we would be going over to Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Erika's for supper tonight, maybe we can swim in their pool," comments Cooper.
            Walker smiles, "That will be nice--I hope the water is colder than the last time, the last time it felt like-------"
            Walker pulls up on the reins of Amigo, he yells for his sons to stop.
            "What's wrong, Daddy?"
            Walker starts reaching for his rifle, "That!"
            The twins look into the direction their father is pointing, they see three coyotes dragging a young calf away from its mother. The calf is still alive and bellowing.
            "Son of a bitch," mumbles Walker as kicks Amigo and starts riding hard towards the coyotes, they see him coming, but make no move to leave their food. Walker starts firing over their heads, and they soon scatter.
            The young calf is bleeding as one of its attackers has gone for the throat, Walker knows that the calf is dying.  He takes a deep sigh and looks towards the coyotes, and shakes his head sadly. He then puts the rifle up to the calf's head and pulls the trigger, killing him instantly.
            Walker mounts up and heads back to his sons, he watches as the coyotes move in to finish what they had started.
            The twins watch sadly as their Father rides up to them.
            Cordell whispers, "I hate coyotes--they're mean!"
            Walker motions for them to head back to the herd and for home. The rancher has a worried look on his face. He knows that the coyotes are coming closer to his ranch and they are becoming very brave, as their hunt for food is sparse.
            The evening at the Trivette’s is very short as again the couple ends up arguing and the Walkers make it an early evening, bringing their godson back with them.
            The Ram is moving slowly down highway 199, with Angela asleep in between her parents, and the three boys are nodding off in the back seat. Alex touches her husband's neck, gently rubbing it.
            "Want to talk about it, honey?  You had no choice but to kill the calf, he was dying."
            Walker reaches back and touches his wife's hand. "It's not just the calf, hon----something is very wrong--the coyotes are getting too aggressive. They weren't afraid of me at all, until I started shooting at them--even then they weren't afraid. It took them no time at all to move in and finish eating the calf---coyotes are usually not that brave. If it were the wolves, I could believe it, but coyotes are usually cowards."
            Angela groans in her sleep and snuggles up closer to Walker, Alex brushes her long hair back. "This weather is making everyone and everything weird, here it is almost 11'oclock at night and the temperature is still at 100!  And, what about that rattlesnake that was in my kitchen, I thought diamondbacks liked it hot, why would it want to come into a air conditioned place?"
            Walker scratches his chin, "I don't know, as a rule snakes generally like it hot and dry, maybe it was the hot air that was coming from the dryers' hoses that attracted him."
            "All I know is, I had animal control go over every inch of that house, doing double time in the laundry time---to make sure there weren't anymore of them slithering around."
                        Walker smiles, "Alex, we have the best 'snake detector' in the world---"Bo"! He's not going to let another one ever get inside the house--you can count on that"!
            "At least I will know what to expect if and when one ever does get in again--I will sure listen when he reacts like this again."
            Walker grins, "You've really warmed up to Bo since that incident, haven't you?"
            "Of course, I'd be a fool not to!! Walker, he saved my life, and probably the kids' too---I will never be able to do enough for that dog."
            "Yeah, I noticed the new collar with his name on it, the matching leash, the new doggie bed in the laundry room---not that he ever intends to use it---he stays in the kids' room all the time."
            "That dog can sleep anywhere he wants------"
            "Now, wait a minute---he's not sleeping in our bed anymore," Walker complains.  "It's difficult enough trying to get some quality time with my wife when I keep having to move rugrats out of it every time I come home late. Now I have to move the dog too?"
            They stare at each other and Alex smiles back at him, lowering those eyes and pouting her lips. Walker takes a deep sigh, "Okay---I continue to move the dog as well."


                                **************************************


            The Walker house is quiet, a slight breeze has picked up, cooling the night. Bo is restless as he keeps going back and forth to each of the kids' rooms. He jumps up on her bed and crawls up to Angela's waiting arms. He snuggles closer and when he's satisfied that she is okay he pads back to the twins' room.
            He smells of the newcomer, he's content with J.W.'s presence. He goes to the next bed and jumps up between the twins. Cordell pulls him close and whispers to him.
            "I love you Bo you are a good dog".
            The dog is still restless as he jumps down and goes to look out the window, but sees nothing. He whimpers, walking in circles, he heads towards the master bedroom.
            He goes to Alex's side of the bed first, she's sleeping on her left side, with Walker snuggled up against her, his arm around her waist. Bo continues to watch them, his whimpers getting louder. He jumps up on the side of the bed and starts licking Walker's hand, and then he starts nudging it.
            "Bo what's wrong, boy?"
            The dog runs towards the door and then back to the bed, his yelps are getting louder.
            Alex is waking up, "What's wrong, does he need to go out?"
            "He's got his doggie door for that---or did one of the kids lock it again?"
            "I'm not sure---honey---maybe you'd better check."
                  Walker sits up, rubs his face and reaches for his jeans----"Okay, you mangy mutt---I'll let you out."
            As soon as they come down the stairs, Bo runs to the front door and starts scratching, looking back at the Ranger.
            "Don't tear that door down too---I just got the other one repaired!! What's out there boy---why are you spooked?"
            As soon as the door is open, Bo makes a beeline to the barn, Walker's Cherokee instincts are kicking in, he grabs his rifle and runs out barefoot after the dog. The barn door is still closed, but Walker can hear movement inside and Amigo is starting to neigh. He then hears the growls and Bo is starting to growl deeper, scratching at the door harder. Walker flips the rifle around, injecting shells, he opens the door slowly and Bo runs in growling and snapping.
            There are four of them and they are inching closer to Amigo.  Bo flies through the air jumping on the first coyote and the fight begins. Two of the pack start running towards the open door, the third one is snapping at Walker.
            Walker shakes his head disbelieving the ignorance of the wild dog to come after a human when he has a gun pointed at him, the coyote is not afraid. As the coyote jumps, Walker pulls the trigger, hitting him square in the chest. The other one and Bo are going at it full force, and Bo is holding his own. Walker does not want to take the chance of firing his rifle again and hitting his dog, he lets them fight it out.
            Bo is fighting the wild dog with such a vengeance, he's definitely got a score to settle, believes the Ranger. The coyote is trying to get away from Bo, but he's not making any headway, then Bo goes straight for the neck and snaps it. The nerves of the wild dog are making him twitch, as his eyes close slowly, taking his last breath. Bo sits down beside the dead animal, and continues to growl, Walker pulls him away.
            "It's okay, boy---he's dead-----you had a fire under you, didn't you, boy?"
            Walker goes over to Amigo and soothes him then he starts looking for the entry that allowed the coyotes to get in, he finds a hole has been dug at the far end of the barn. The Ranger curses.
            "Damn it---- even the sulfur isn't keeping them out---first thing tomorrow morning this whole barn will be surrounded with electric fencing."
            After repairing the hole, Walker and Bo head back for the house, Alex and the kids have heard the disturbance and are all asking questions at the same time.
            Alex finally gets the kids back to bed, and she fixes coffee for Walker, and then tends to Bo's wounds. She puts the first aid kit away.
            "Is he okay?"
            "He's only got a few scratches---are you okay?"
            "Yeah, I'm fine---just damn angry that they got into the barn, had Amigo scared to death---the other horses are okay----As soon as the lumber yard opens up, I'm going in to buy electric devices and start hooking them to the fences, it's going completely around the barn and the corral---I should have done it in the first place."
                "Honey---you didn't know!  But--electric fences---Walker---you've always hated them."
            "I know hon, but I have no choice.  It's this damn weather! There has been no rain to speak of in over four months, the wildlife is dying from thirst, there is no food for the scavengers, so naturally they're going to start going where the food is---and------oh, no--the livestock in the north pasture---I’ve got to get out there."
            Walker is running to the front door and grabbing boots out of the hall closet. He grabs his shirt, his handgun, and more shells for his rifle.
                  "Walker---you're going out there now?"
            "Yes, Alex--there's no time to waste, if they've got nerve to come here, they'll go after the livestock, call Hank Ferguson, tell him what's happening."
            Bo has sensed Walker's apprehension, he's wanting to go, but Alex pulls him back. She then runs to the phone and calls the Ferguson ranch, Hank is already on his way to check on their livestock.
            "Alex, Hank shot two of 'em tonight---they were going after our chickens, we lost about half a dozen, are all of you okay over there?"
            "Yes, Martha--we're fine. Our dog had a run in with one and Walker said he killed it, Walker also shot one, two escaped."
            "Hank and I are just baffled at what is happening---if we don't get rain soon, I don't know what will happen. He says if the drought keeps up, it will start pushing the wolves down from the hills, he says there are bears up there too!"
            Alex nods, "Yes, Walker has mentioned it---they're hungry too. He says they won't have any choice but to come out of the hills and start preying on the livestock too, that is---if the coyotes don't get to all of them first! Walker is talking of putting up electric fences---and he's always despised those types of confinement"!
           "Yes, I know---Hank hates them too--but when it comes to a choice of protecting our livestock and electrocuting  those murdering scavengers---there's really no choice to be made"!


                                   **************************************


            The next morning finds Walker and Hank putting up the electric wiring. Alex and the kids are getting ready for church---Erika has refused again to allow J.W. to attend services.
            Alex watches as she and J.W. drive down the long gravel road and then out to highway 199. J.W. had begged to stay, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Alex sighs and walks out to the barn with breakfast burritos and plenty of coffee for the men.
            Walker is furious at something that Hank has said, he slams the wire cutters down on the ground and stares back at his friend of some 30 years.
            "I can't believe anyone could be so stupid!" Walker is yelling.
            Alex looks to Hank, he's just nodding his head. Alex reaches out and touches her husband's shoulder, "Honey---what is it, what are you so angry about?"
            Walker is so furious, he can hardly speak----"Ben Hines! Who else?"
            Alex repeats the name to herself, Ben Hines had the Mammoth Estates, about 5 miles across highway 199. His land stretched for thousands of acres, and he had been buying up all the land that had failed because of the drought. He and Walker had had words on many occasions; Ben had even offered to buy the Walker land. Alex recalled how her husband stood there and stared the man down saying, "It will be a cold day in hell before I would ever let you buy my land, and you know where you can shove that offer!"
            Alex touches her husband's arm gently, Hank smiles sheepishly.
                "Honey, I know you don't care for Ben Hines and his methods, what has he done now?"
            "He's feeding the coyotes, Alex!"
                  "Feeding them, why-----how?"
            Walker takes his coffee and hands a cup to his friend, "He's taking some of his weaker animals up to the crest of the hill country, and leaving the animals to be eaten by the coyotes and any other scavengers that are up there!"
            "Why? Why would he do that, what's the purpose?"
            Hank clears his throat, "It's like this, Alex---he's luring the animals out, not only the coyotes but the wolves as well, then he's slaughtering them!"
            Alex shakes her head unbelieving, she looks to Walker, the veins are popping out on his forehead. "I---still don't understand why---I know the coyotes are a nuisance this year---but it's because of the drought---they have no other way to survive----but this sounds-------horrible!"
            "It's overkill, that's what it is!" Replies hank.
            Walker swears, "I'm just as upset about the coyotes as any of the ranchers are, but this is not the way to solve this problem!  What animal is next---the wolf---the bear?"
            Hank drinks his coffee slowly, "Actually, Cordell---maybe Ben is heading in the right direction. This drought is not going to cease anytime soon, the coyotes are coming after our livestock---we're putting up electric fencing---what's that tell you? The coyotes are outnumbering us---and soon the we'll have the same problem with the wolves."
            "Driving them to extinction, to cease their very well being is not the answer, Hank!"
            "Then---what is, Cordell? I know you get all hot and bothered when the wolf is threatened, because of that Cherokee blood and all, but someday----you're going to have to learn that the wolf and the coyotes are blood thirsty killers----they have to be dealt with."
            "Are you going to kill the wolves, Daddy----you said they were our blood brothers." Cordell asks as he and his twin walk up quietly to their parents and Hank. They push their cowboy hats back, and look to Walker.
            Alex turns quickly, "Guys----it's time to get ready for church----this is grown-up talk."
            The boys look to their father, their eyes inquisitive. Walker clears his throat, taking a deep sigh, "You heard your Mother----go get ready for church."
            Bo comes up between the boys and sits down, Walker smiles and pulls his boys closer to him. He goes down on one knee.
            "Look guys---Hank and I have a big decision to discuss----and it does concern the wolf--but I can't get into with you two right now---tonight we will all sit down and I will try and explain what is happening. Right now---you got to get ready for church----where's J.W.?"
            "His Mommy came and got him," answers Cooper, "she doesn't want him going to our church."
            Walker looks to his wife and shrugs, "What was the point in him spending the night? I thought he was going to church with the kids, that's what he said last night."
            Alex shakes her head and turns the twins back towards the house, "Honey---you know how strange she's been acting lately. Okay, guys, tell Gampa Ferguson goodbye and then you two, finish getting ready for church."
            The boys extend their little hands and say goodbye to Hank, they whistle for Bo and the three run back to the house. Angela is walking towards them now, stepping very daintily and smoothing her dress out. She smiles at Hank, and then she prisses around and around, looking at Walker.
            "Hi Daddy---I'm wearing one of my new dresses that I got for my birthday----do you like it?"
            Walker looks to his daughter and smiles, the problems of the day quickly vanishing. The dress is lavender, Walker's favorite color on his daughter. Her hair is getting longer, Alex has it brushed back, with a layer of lavender ribbons, the rest of her hair is down and curling up on the ends. She looks up at her Daddy smiling, the lone dimple at the left side of her mouth, highlighting a missing right tooth. When his daughter flashes that smile that she has inherited from his wife, he's completely helpless.
            "I sure do, baby---it's beautiful!  But you make everything you wear or touch look beautiful---come here--give Daddy a great big hug."
            Angela runs into her Daddy's arms, "Don't muss up my dress, Daddy."
            Walker holds her out at arms' length, looking into her blue eyes, another of Alex's traits. He laughs softly, "I'm not going to muss your dress up, if I do muss it up---I'll buy you another one, how's that?"
            She giggles, "Oh Daddy---I was just teasing."
            She goes back into her daddy's arms, Hank smiles, a tear comes into his eyes.
                   "Angela!  Come on---it's time to go---" whispers Alex, "say good bye to Gampa Ferguson."
            Angela walks over to Hank and hugs him lightly, "Bye, Gampa ---tell Gamma Ferguson, I hope she's feeling better."
            As Alex and Angela walk off, Walker looks to his good friend and neighbor---"You didn't say anything about Martha not feeling well, is she sick?"
            Hank just shakes his head, "Nothing that a phone call couldn't cure---but we both know that's like wishing in one hand and spittin’ in the other."
            "Still no word from your daughter---or your grandkids?"
            Hank looks in the direction that Angela walked, "No---not a word." He takes a deep breath, "If we just knew what we done or said that Charlene is so upset at us about, but she won't say."
            Walker drinks some more of his coffee, "I'm so sorry Hank, I can imagine how you must be feeling. I couldn't stand it, if one of my kids turned against me."
            "That will never happen, Cordell---those kids think the world of you!  And, Martha and I are so blessed that they have come to accept us as their substitute grandparents. We truly love those kids, they have given us the will to go on."
            Walker nods his head slowly as he watches Alex and the kids crawl into her SUV, they are all waving back at him. Bo is jumping up and down, wanting to go with them. Walker whistles to the dog and he comes running, walks around Walker's legs and then sits down, as if on command. Walker reaches down and pets him, and then watches the SUV drive away, he waves.
            "Yep, my kids are my life-----I can't remember how it was when they weren't a part of it. Without Alex and my kids--I wouldn't want to go on, I wouldn't even try."
            The men continue to watch the dust swirl up around the small utility vehicle, Bo whimpers. Walker reaches down and pets him again---"I haven't forgot you, boy---you're a part of this family too---you're like one of the kids."
            "Come on, Cordell---let's get back to that fence." Hank slaps his friend on the shoulder and the two men go back to their work.
                       
Bo - Part VI

The days drag on as the heat continues to rise. Electricity has now started to be rationed, thermostats are raised to 80*. Water for the livestock has started to suffer as more and more of the underground wells are drying up. Walker, along with some of the other ranchers are selling off their livestock, keeping only a small herd.
            The twins are watching as the semi trucks back up to take the last of the cattle that Walker has been forced to sell. They watch his face as Walker tries to look away from them.
            One of the buyers rides over to Walker, and starts looking at Amigo and then to the boys' horses. "If you ever decide to get rid of that pinto, and those nags your kids are riding--I'll make you a good deal."
            Walker looks to his sons, and then back to the man, he grits his teeth. "You got exactly five seconds to get off my land or you're going to be eating it!   I'll do any further business with someone else, I never want to see you on my land again----is that clear?"
            The man laughs and waves at the driver of the semi to move out. Walker watches sadly as he sees years of his life pass before him. Some of the horses that he was forced to sell had belonged to his Uncle Ray. He shakes his head sadly. "I'm sorry Uncle--there's just not enough water for them."
            The twins ride up slowly beside him, Cooper asks quietly. "Are you okay, Daddy--did that man want to buy our horses?"
            "No one is getting Amigo or your horses---I would rather put a bullet…" he stops himself from saying anything more, he wipes his brow and wipes the inside of his hat. "Let's get home, Mommy said she was going to try and bake a pie---maybe apple."
            The boys smack their lips, "Ummmmmmm-----with ice cream, Daddy?"
            "I'm not so sure about the ice cream, it doesn't keep very well in the freezer anymore, since we had to turn all of the thermostats up, it's probably soup by now."
            When Walker and the boys arrive at home, they see Alex and Angela cleaning out the flowerbed. He hands Amigo reins to Cooper, "Cool him down first son---before you give him any water."
            "Yes sir, Daddy--I know."
            Walker walks towards his wife slowly, and looks around at all of the dead rose bushes, Alex had been clearing the beds out for weeks, now it was mostly weeds growing. Walker looks to the south side of his house and reminisces about the morning glories and honeysuckle that use to grow there. The morning glories had been planted by Ellen, the woman he was engaged to marry, before she was murdered. Later when Alex started staying at the ranch before they were engaged, he had asked if she wanted him to pull up all the morning glories, and she refused. He moved them to the south side and Alex 'babied' them. They were everywhere, and spreading--but they were beautiful. The honeysuckle was Alex's idea, and they were planted underneath their bedroom window, so the south breeze could bring their sweet smell in with the sunrise. Now there was nothing---everything was dying or already dead.
            He walks up slowly behind his wife and kisses her cheek, "I'm sorry hon, when this drought is over with, I'll buy you a whole new garden of roses--and all the flowers you could possibly desire."
            Alex tries to smile, "Oh honey--it's not losing the flowers that make me sad---it's just that--"she starts to cry softly---"I just keep remembering the days they were planted-the memories----do you remember the first rose bush you planted for us?"
            Walker smiles, holding his arms around her waist, "Of course I do, it was the Rose Kennedy, a beautiful red, right?  And, we planted it right after we were engaged, right after you started feeling better from that stay in the hospital---when you got shot."
            She reaches back and strokes his beard, "You do remember--I'm surprised! We said that rose bush would grow with our love and our family," Alex starts to sob---"that's what hurts the most---our memory."
            Angela is watching her parents, her eyes get misty as she runs to her Mother and hugs her. "Don't cry, Mama---- Daddy will buy more roses, won't you, Daddy?"
            "Of course I will---and I will have this whole place landscaped the way you want it, hon---and it will be even more beautiful----I promise you."
            Alex continues to cry as the twins walk up. They look to their sister, "Why is Mommy crying?"
            Angela takes them both by their hands and walk to the front porch, looking back as her parents continue to hold each other. "Mama has lost a memory---and she's sad."


                                ****************************************


            Evening has come and the Walkers are sitting down to supper. Bo is getting restless, going back and forth to the front door. Walker looks to the twins.
            "You boys did remember to lock the barn door, didn't you?"
            "Yes Daddy---we locked it."
            Alex watches the dog, "He's upset about something--something is going on out there."
            "But, the electric fences are keeping the coyotes away, right Daddy?"
            "So far, I haven't seen any coyotes trying to get close, it seems to be doing its job," replies Walker.
            Alex shakes her head, "Something is out there, Bo is having a fit wanting to get out."
            "I'll check it out, you kids stay inside."
            Walker goes to the front door and looks out, at first he sees nothing, then he sees them--about ten of them, circling the barn. They get their noses close to the wires, feeling the voltage--then crying out in pain. He can hear Amigo and the other horses start to whinny.
            Walker turns back to Alex, "Keep Bo in here---I'll run them off."
            Before Alex can grab the dog he bolts past Walker and heads right for the middle of the pack, they are onto him instantly. Walker is running out after him, firing at the coyotes. Two of them have Bo down and others are trying to get to him. Alex screams at the kids to stay inside as she grabs Walker's shotgun and runs after him. Walker is firing repeatedly, shooting for any part of their bodies that will slow them down. He does not have a clear shot at the ones holding Bo down. He starts swinging his rifle and hitting them, he then reaches for the knife in his right boot, and starts stabbing at them. More of them are coming around the barn and heading for the ranger, Alex doesn't have time to aim, she just fires---both barrels!  Three of them go flying into the electrified fence.
            The screams of the coyotes and Bo fill the air as the kids all run to the living room window. They are screaming for their dog as more coyotes leap on him and Walker. Alex runs towards them, swinging the barrel of the shotgun--hitting them in the head. They scream out in pain, as Walker fires his rifle, taking out three more. Alex is trying to reload, Walker grabs the shotgun and fires it----the last of the pack start running off. Two have still got Bo pinned, and they're going for the throat. Bo screams out in agony as Walker hears the bones snapping.
            He screams out at the attackers, kicking at them and grabbing one by the neck and squeezing till he hears the neck bone snap.  The last one still has Bo by the neck, Walker stabs him repeatedly with his knife. The kids are running out of the house, screaming for their parents and their beloved dog.
            Walker shouts at them to get back in the house---"Alex, get them back in---they can't see Bo this way!"
            Alex looks quickly to the dog, he's bleeding profusely from the neck, and there are gaping wounds in his stomach. "Oh, my God," she sobs and then she runs back to the house telling the kids to get inside.
            Again the kids run to the window, they see their Daddy walking around in circles, his hands going up to his head and then down, Walker keeps shaking his head.
            "Oh God---no---not my kids' pet----not Bo" he screams.
            Walker kneels down beside Bo, he starts to touch him, the dog cries out in pain. Walker stands up, he can't stop walking in circles as he looks back at the dog, Bo is looking back at him, his dark eyes, fighting to stay open.
            Walker picks up his rifle, and ejects a bullet into the chamber. Cordell has seen this scene before, he screams out.
            "No---Nooooo don't shoot my dog," he starts running to the door before Alex can stop him. He's running down the porch steps as Walker puts the rifle up to Bo’s head----and pulls the trigger.
            Cordell stops instantly, his eyes go wide. He stands there looking at the smoke coming from the rifle's barrel. He then runs towards his dog, screaming out Bo's name, Walker catches him and holds him back.
            "No son---he's dead---there's nothing else I could do---he was dying---he was tore up inside."
            Cordell is screaming and trying to get out of Walker's grip, "No-----let me go. He's my dog----Bo, I'll help you."
            Alex is running out to get her son as Walker is keeping Cordell from getting any closer. "Take him inside---now!"
            Alex is half carrying and half dragging a screaming Cordell back into the house. Angela and Cooper have watched from the window, they start crying. Alex is trying to comfort them and Cordell is kicking and screaming at the locked front door. He suddenly stops and runs to Alex crying.
            "He shot my dog, he killed Bo."


                                    *********************************


            It's been almost a week since Walker had to shoot Bo. Cordell has not spoken to him, saying that he hates him. Walker is like a zombie.
            Alex is feeling her husband's pain as again she tries to console him. "Honey, he didn't mean it---Cordell is just hurt---he doesn't hate you."
            "It's tearing me up inside, Alex--I see his little face looking back at me in horror and hatred---I've tried to explain, he won't even look at me. Angela and Cooper have forgiven me---why can't Cordell see that I had no choice?"
            Walker has tears in his eyes as Alex puts her arms around him. "Give him a little more time, Walker---he will come around. The pain is just too much Cordell was closer to Bo than Angela or Cooper.”
            Walker pulls away from his wife and wipes his eyes---"I've never felt so helpless in my life."
            Alex looks around the barn and sees the small coffin that Walker has built. She walks over to it, and rubs the pinewood. "Honey, it's beautiful-----but you've already buried Bo."
            "I know---but I want him to have something nicer than just cold ground with stones piled upon him, he deserves more than that."
            Alex clears her throat, "You're going to re-bury him?"

Walker's eyes are looking into his wife's, "Is that wrong?"
            Alex bites her bottom lip, "No, honey---if it makes you feel better---yes---Bo deserves better than the hard ground. I will ask Angela and Cooper if they want to put something of "Bo's" into the coffin with him-----I'll ask Cordell----too."
            That evening the coffin is completed. Walker has put little handles on the side, and sanded the pine down slick and shiny. Alex has lined the insides with blue velvet, and Bo's favorite blanket will cover him. Angela and Cooper have brought his collar and leash. Alex asks softly.
                   "Where's his ball?"
                   "Cordell has it---he said he was to keep it."
            "Is he going to come down--and say his final goodbyes?"
            "No, Mama," answers Angela as she looks to her Daddy, "Cordell is still crying."
            Walker sighs, "I don't know what to do---I thought if he Cordell could see the nice---coffin---I built---maybe-----maybe----"
                   "Honey-----let's just say our goodbyes----Cordell has to deal with this---in his own way."
            The Walkers choose a place behind the barn, where Bo's final resting place will not be disturbed. They all say their goodbyes and then Walker closes the coffin and puts a wooden cross over it--with the name Mr. Bojangles.
           
That night is another restless one for Walker as he paces the kitchen floor. He fixes coffee, and then doesn't drink it, just sits down at the long oak table, his face in his hands. He hears a slight noise and gets up to investigate, and catches a glimpse of Cordell going out the front door.
                  "Cordell?  Where is he going?"
            Walker follows his son quietly out to the barn and around to the side. Cordell has something in his hand and he places it on the freshly dug mound. Walker stands in the shadows and watches quietly.
            "Here's your ball, Bo-----now you can play with it-----in doggie heaven."
                     Walker's eyes are filling with tears as Cordell starts to sing:
                                      "I knew a man,
                                       Bojangles and---
                                       he'd dance for you
                                       in worn out shoes.
                                       He would jump so high
                                       jump so high
                                       and lightly touch down.


            Cordell turns slightly and looks in Walker's direction.
            "I can't remember all the words, Daddy," he starts to sob.
            Walker comes out of the shadows, and replies softly. "You're doing fine son-----just sing it the way Bo would want you to.
            Cordell sobs harder, wiping his nose:.


                                    He spoke with tears
                                    of fifteen years of how
                                    his dog and him---
                                    Then his dog up and died
                                     he up and died
                                     ---and I still cry.

Cordell turns quickly and runs into Walker's arms, "Daddy----Daddy I'm sorry---I don't hate you, I swear I don't!"
            Walker hugs his son tightly and whispers, "It's okay, son---I know you don't---it's okay--I know you're hurting."
            Cordell continues to cry, "But, you loved him too, didn't you, Daddy?"
            Walker is now crying "Yes, of course I did----I didn't want to shoot him son-----he was hurting so bad."
            "It's okay, Daddy----I'm not angry no more----Bo would not want me to be angry----would he?"
            "Let's go inside, son---we'll talk about this tomorrow morning---okay?"
            Walker picks up his son, Cordell's arms wrap around his neck, his legs go around Walker's waist. Walker continues to hold him tight, kissing the top of his forehead. He looks up to the sky and whispers, "Thank you---thank you."
            Alex is watching as her husband walks through the door, holding their son, she smiles.
            "Happy Father's Day, honey."
                 Walker's brow arches, and then he stammers--"Tomorrow is Father's Day, isn't it--I forgot all about it.  I just got the best present that a Father could ever receive, regaining his child's trust and love."
            Alex smiles and kisses her husband---"It's a good feeling, isn't it?"
            Walker takes a deep sigh, "The best."
            Cordell raise his head up and kisses Walker's cheek, "Happy Father's Day, Daddy---I love you."
            In the distance, a thunderstorm is brewing, the thunder and lighting again brings the Walker kids to their parents' bed. They all lay quietly as the rain finally comes to the dry, parched, earth of Texas.
            Cordell is still holding onto his Daddy. Angela, Cooper, and Alex are all laying on their right sides, Alex's left arm is stretched out across her kids, as they lie sleeping. Alex is watching the look on her husband's face as he holds his son tight to him. Cordell whispers softly.
                      "Daddy, I'm not afraid of the storms no more--you know why?"
            "Why son?"
                   "Because the rain is angel tears and they are cleaning the earth, and bringing water back to all of the land. Most of all, Bo is not hurting anymore and when I close my eyes, I can hear the angels singing to him---can you hear them, Daddy?"
            Walker looks back to his wife and smiles, "Yes Cordell---I can hear them----and when they sing---Bo dances."
            "Yes, Daddy---and Bo is happy. He's dancing for the angels and for God," Cordell sighs softly, "Goodnight, Daddy, I love you."
            "I love you too, son," Walker kisses the top of his son's head and then reaches out to squeeze his wife's hand, she smiles back at him.
            The memories come racing back to the ranger as he can see the boys running up to the old man that has puppies for sale. He smiles as he remembers the day that Bo danced for the first time. He closes his eyes and he hears the tiny voices of Cordell and Cooper singing. The chorus is sweet as Walker whispers in a choking voice:
                                       Mr. Bojangles
                                       Mr. Bojangles--
                                      Come dance.
                                                                                   
                                              The End    June 2003     Mr. Bojangles by Robbie Williams