INTERLUDE TO GUARDIAN
By Chris (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Pam, thanks for letting me take the lead on this. I hope you’re happy with the result!)
Trivette sat in his chair staring at the empty desk of his former partner. It had been nearly six weeks since Frank Jennings had murdered Alex and Walker and still Trivette couldn’t bring himself to empty Walker’s desk. It looked exactly the same as it had the night before the worst day of Trivette’s life. C.D. had offered several times to come over and help him but he had refused. This was something he had to do alone and it would have to be done soon. He would be assigned a new partner in the near future and had decided that he would move over to Walker’s old desk and give his new partner his desk. He just couldn’t bear the thought of looking over at this desk and seeing anyone except Cordell Walker.
Glancing at the clock on the wall, he rose from his desk and headed out the door to meet C.D. and Marsha at the courthouse. It had them taken less than 24 hours to track down and arrest Frank Jennings and his gang. The gang members immediately gave up Jennings as the one who murdered Alex and Walker and were willing to testify in exchange for leniency. Due to the high profile nature of the case, the District Attorney had fought and won a quick trial date. The DA had handled the case personally, stating that he owed to Alex to make sure that Jennings was found guilty and sentenced to death. The trial had lasted nearly four weeks. The prosecution’s case was rock solid and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Jennings would be convicted. A verdict had now been reached. Soon, this horrible ordeal would come to an end for everyone. Everyone, that is except James Trivette.
As he approached the courthouse, he could see Marsha and C.D. waiting for him. A small smile appeared on his face as he thought about Marsha. They had only known each other for a few days when Trivette’s whole world had fallen apart, yet she had stayed by his side as if they had known each other for years. She had been such a comfort to both he and C.D. during those first few weeks. She listened when he wanted to talk, was content to just be with him when he didn’t and when the pain was too much, she was always there to hold him as he wept. He was beginning to understand the special bond that Alex and Walker had shared and it only served to tear him apart inside.
“All rise. Court is now in session. The Honorable Judge Clark presiding.”
Taking his seat on the bench, the judge said, “Be seated.” Turning toward the jury box, “Has the jury reached a verdict?”
The foreman of the jury rose and faced the judge, “We have, Your Honor.” He then handed the bailiff a piece of paper, which was given to the judge. The judge read the verdict to himself, folded the page and handed it back to the bailiff who returned it to the jury foreman. “Will the defendant please rise.”
Turning toward the jury, “What say you?”
“In the matter of The State of Texas vs. Frank Jennings, we the jury find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree.”
The courtroom erupted as friends and co-workers of Cordell Walker and Alex Cahill rejoiced in the decision. Trivette, C.D. and Marsha all breathed a sigh of relief and hugged one another. The judge then banged his gavel to restore order to the courtroom.
“Has the jury reached a decision with regard to sentencing?”
“Yes, Your Honor, we have.”
“What say you?”
“It is the opinion of this jury that the acts committed were of such a heinous nature as to warrant the death penalty.”
The judge thanked the jury for their service and dismissed them before turning his attention to the defendant, Frank Jennings. “Mr. Jennings, a jury of your peers has found you guilty of murder in the first degree and has recommended the death penalty. I am in agreement with this recommendation and hereby sentence you to death by lethal injection.” The banging of the gavel echoed through the courtroom.
Trivette, C.D. and Marsha slowly rose from their seats just behind the prosecution’s table. They spoke quietly with the District Attorney as several other Rangers and friends of Alex and Walker offered their congratulations. Leaving the courtroom, they were surrounded by news reporters asking for their reaction to the verdict and sentencing. They pushed their way through the crowd leaving a trail of “No Comment’s behind them.
Sitting in a booth back at C.D.’s, the three friends silently sip coffee.
“Well, I guess that’s it, huh Big Dog? Jennings got what he deserved, too bad it wasn’t soon enough.”
“You got that right, Jimmy. I know the system we have in this country is supposed to be the best in the world but it’s sure a long way from perfect when vermin like Frank Jennings manage to get paroled. I just hope they notify us when his execution is scheduled ‘cause I’m gonna be sure to be there to see that sorry excuse for a human being get what he so richly deserves.”
Raising his mug, “Here, here. I’ll be right there by your side on that day, C.D..”
Later that evening as Trivette and Marsha stand outside Marsha’s apartment, “Do you want to come in for awhile?”
“Not tonight, but thanks. I think I’ll be heading home.”
“Jimmy, are you all right? I know how hard this has been for you and I know we’ve talked some about it but I get the feeling that there’s something you’re not telling me.”
“It’s nothing. Really. I’ll be fine. It’s just gonna take some time to sort things out in my own head.” Looking into her eyes, “You know, I can’t imagine how I ever would have made it through the trial or any of this without you by my side. You’ve been so great through all this. How can I ever thank you?”
“You don’t need to thank me, Jimmy. I care about you and I’d do anything for you. You’re a very special man, Jimmy Trivette.”
“And you’re a very special lady.” He leans forward and gently kisses her lips. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Sitting alone in his dark living room, he stares at the unopened bottle of whisky on the coffee table. Several times he reaches for it but each time he stops before picking it up. He thinks back to another dark time in his life when he had tried to drown his pain in a bottle of whisky. It had been Walker who had arrived at his apartment toting Cherokee Purge, probably the worst tasting concoction Trivette had ever tasted but he had to admit that it had worked. And it was Walker who had made him get back in the game and work to clear his name. Walker was one of only three people who had believed that he was innocent. Hell, even Trivette himself thought he’d done it but Walker, C.D. and Alex were sure he hadn’t. Walker had always stood by him, never wavering, no matter what the circumstances. Like the time he had been accused of stealing a million dollars. Walker had never even asked him if he’d done it. He knew he hadn’t. His eyes began to fill with tears as memories of his partner flooded his mind.
He thought back to the time when Walker had asked him to become a member of the Cherokee Nation, a member of his family. He had been working undercover when his cover was blown. He was beaten, dragged out into the desert and left for dead. Using the survival skills that Walker had taught him, he had managed to walk over 14 miles back toward the road before Walker had found him. He smiled when he remembered how he had thought Walker was a mirage and had refused to acknowledge his presence until Walker physically grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him back to reality. After the ordeal, Walker had taken him to meet with White Eagle and the other elders of the Cherokee tribe. He had told his story and been invited to join the tribe as a member of Walker’s family. It was an honor he would never forget. He had even been given a Cherokee name—Black Hawk. He knew that as long as he lived, he would never find a better partner, a better friend, a better brother than Cordell Walker and in the end, he felt that he had let his brother down.
The last thing Walker had asked him to do was to get Alex to safety and he had failed. And because of that failure, Alex had died that day too. He would never forgive himself for not seeing through Alex’s sprained ankle story. He should have realized that Alex knew Walker was dying. He knew that they shared a special bond and always seemed to know when the other one was in trouble. How could he have been so blind that day? He had wanted so desperately to get to the road to try to get help for Walker that he let himself believe what Alex had told him. He should have stayed with Walker. Maybe if he had, Alex and Walker would still be alive. Instead, they were both dead and he was still alive. How would he ever find the strength to go on without his friends? He drifted off to sleep that night with that thought running through his mind.
He awoke the next morning with the answer. It had come to him in a dream. He should have thought of it sooner. There was only one person who could help him put the events of the last six weeks into perspective and help him find a way to move forward with his life—White Eagle, the spiritual leader of the Cherokee tribe that Walker and he, as Walker’s adopted brother, belonged to. He called Ranger Headquarters and asked the Captain if he could have a few days off. Once that was approved, he phoned C.D. and Marsha and simply told them both that he needed some time alone and was going away for a few days. Both understood his state of mind and agreed that maybe this was the best thing for him. He was packed and on his way to the Reservation by early afternoon.
Trivette arrived on the Reservation late that evening and drove directly to Walker’s family cabin. As Walker’s adopted brother and sole surviving “family” member, the cabin’s ownership had been transferred to him shortly after Walker’s death. Walker’s friend, Sam Coyote, had agreed to keep an eye on the place for Trivette as he had done in the past for Walker. As he approached the small cabin, he noticed a light burning in one window. “That’s strange,” he thought. “I can’t imagine Sam would be here this late.” He parked his car, grabbed his duffel bag and started up the front steps. As he reached for the door handle, the door opened and White Eagle stood in the doorway. “I’ve been expecting you Black Hawk.”
“White Eagle!? How did you know…?” Shaking his head, “Never mind, I should have known you would be waiting for me. Let me guess, the spirits told you I was coming?”
“Of course, my son. They also tell me that you come with a heavy heart and a tortured soul. That you seek guidance.”
Lowering his head, he nods “Well, the spirits are right again, White Eagle. Can you help me?”
“I believe I can, Black Hawk, but it will take time and patience on your part. I have much to teach you. You must learn to listen to the spirits. Only they can set you free.”
“I’ve got all the time I want and I promise I’ll be a patient student.”
“Good. You’ve traveled far. Rest now and tomorrow we will begin your lessons.” White Eagle then exits the cabin and starts to walk toward his own home.
“Where should I meet you tomorrow?”
“I shall come for you in the morning.”
Turning to look back at him, “Yes, my son.”
“Thanks are not necessary, Black Hawk. Rest now. We will talk more tomorrow.”
Trivette got settled and went out onto the porch. Sitting on the steps, he stared into the night sky and watched the stars wondering if he would ever feel whole again.
Although late, he decided to take a walk. Following the road near the cabin, he eventually found himself very near Sam Coyote’s house and decided to see if Sam was home. As he approached, he noticed the lights were still on and he hoped that he wouldn’t be disturbing anyone.
Sam heard a knock on the door. “Who would be out at this hour?” he thought. As he approached the door, he looked out through the curtains and was surprised at what he saw. He opened the door, “Jimmy? Jimmy Trivette? What in the world are you doing here?”
“Hi, Sam. I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“No, of course not. It’s just that you’re about the last person I expected to see when I opened the door. Come on in.”
“Thanks.” Sam stands aside to let Trivette enter, then closes the door.
“You want a beer?”
They walk to the kitchen together. Sam gets them each a beer and motions toward the back porch. They exit out the back door and sit on opposite sides of the steps with the backs against the railing.
“So, Jimmy, what brings you to the Reservation?”
“I needed to get away for a few days. I suppose you heard about the verdict and sentencing of Frank Jennings.”
“Yeah, I did.”
They are silent for several minutes, each lost in his own thoughts. Trivette is the first to break the silence. “Sam, do you think about them a lot?”
“Nearly everyday, Jimmy. Washo and Alex were good friends. Even though we didn’t spend a lot of time together, I still miss them.”
“I let them down, Sam.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s my fault they’re dead. I should have stayed with Walker. Maybe if I had, they’d still be alive.”
“Jimmy, you can’t do this to yourself. It wasn’t your fault. You did what needed to be done.”
“I didn’t even get to say goodbye. The last thing Walker asked was that I get Alex to safety and I failed and because of that, she’s dead too.”
“Jimmy, listen to me. I knew Washo most of his life and believe me when I tell you that he would never blame you for what happened. It was his time and I’m sure he was at peace with that. And as for Alex, remember, I knew her too and she could be a pretty stubborn lady when she wanted to be. What she and Washo shared was special, their spirits were always meant to be together. It was her choice, not yours.”
“Sam, I hear what you’re saying but I still can’t help but think that I could have done something to prevent this. I feel so guilty that I’m still alive and they’re gone.”
“Is that why you came here, looking for peace?”
“Yeah. I was hoping that maybe White Eagle could help me put things into perspective. He was waiting for me at the cabin when I arrived, you know. Said the spirits told him I was coming. He’s going to meet me tomorrow.”
“Well, if anyone can help you, it’s White Eagle and if he’s coming for you in the morning, you’d better get some sleep because White Eagle is a very early riser!”
“I guess you’re right. I’d better be going. Thanks for the beer, Sam and for letting me unload.”
“Anytime, Jimmy, anytime.”
Over the next several days, White Eagle counsels Black Hawk and continues the Cherokee teachings that Walker had begun. White Eagle is somewhat surprised at the amount of patience shown by Black Hawk and commends him on his progress. White Eagle teaches him the Cherokee belief that only the body dies but the spirit lives on. He encourages Black Hawk to practice his meditation and learn to listen to the spirits.
Trivette tells White Eagle of his guilty feelings and how he feels that he let his brother down and that he felt responsible for the deaths of Alex and Walker. White Eagle sympathizes with him and tries to explain that the spirits were always with Walker and it was their decision that his life on this earth should end. He explains that what happened was what was meant to be and that Black Hawk was not responsible.
Slowly over the next several days, Trivette begins to understand White Eagle’s teachings and accept the fact that what happened was meant to be. As he sits meditating before the fire in the sweat lodge one evening, he feels a soft breeze blow across the back of his neck. He opens his eyes and stares into the depths of the fire. “I’m sorry I let you down, partner. I wish things could have been different.”
“You didn’t let me down, Trivette. You never let me down.”
He slowly turns his head and is not entirely surprised to see the spirit of his partner sitting at his side. “Walker, I should have stayed with you. Maybe if I had, things would have turned out differently.”
“The only thing that would have been different is that you would have been killed too. Trivette, you can’t keep blaming yourself for what happened. It wasn’t your fault and the sooner you get that through your head, the sooner you can get on with your life.”
“I don’t want to get on with my life!”
“Trivette, you’re as stubborn as I ever was! Now you listen and you listen good. You will get past this. You have you’re whole life ahead of you and I am not going to sit by and watch you destroy it! Nothing you could have done would have changed what happened.”
“Yes, I could. I could have stayed and help you fight Jennings. I could have gotten Alex to safety. I never should have fallen for that sprained ankle bit. I should have known that she was faking it and I should have stopped her from going back! If I had, she’d still be alive!”
“Jimmy. I’m so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you like this.”
“Alex?” Looking to his other side, he finds the spirit of Alex Cahill sitting there with tears in her eyes.
“Jimmy. I made the decision. I wanted to be with Walker and I knew that you would never let me go back to him. That’s why I faked my ankle injury. I never intended for you to blame yourself for what happened.”
“You knew he was dying, didn’t you? You didn’t believe the story he told you.”
Shaking her head, “No, Jimmy, I didn’t believe him. I knew what was happening and I knew that I wanted to be with him. The thought of going through life without him wasn’t something that I wanted to do. Walker and I were destined to be together and if I couldn’t be with him in life, then I wanted to be with him in death. Jimmy, it’s okay. We’re together and we’re happy.”
“She’s right, Trivette. Everything happens for a reason and this was meant to be. You have to stop blaming yourself.”
“I miss you guys, you know that.”
“We know, Jimmy. Why do you think we brought you here?”
“You brought me here?”
“Of course, Trivette. Who do you think put the idea in your head? I’m proud of you. You’ve really worked hard with White Eagle over these last several days. You’ve been patient and open-minded and you honor my spirit by learning the ways of the Cherokee. But now it’s time you go back home. C.D. needs you and so does Marsha.”
“Marsha. How do you know about Marsha?” Then smiling and shaking his head from side to side, “No, never mind, forget I even asked that.”
“Trivette, do me a favor, will you. Don’t let time slip away like I did. Tell Marsha how you feel. Don’t be afraid to get involved. I wasted so much time with Alex. We could have shared so much. Don’t get me wrong, we’re together now and I wouldn’t trade a day but it sure would have been nice to share our lives together years ago.”
“She loves you, Jimmy. You know that, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess I do. I just haven’t been able to see things very clearly lately.”
“Now, Walker, I think things are gonna be okay. Thanks, partner. I’m really gonna miss having you there to watch my back.”
“Don’t worry, pard. I’ll always be there to watch your back. Just remember what I always used to tell you—‘listen to the spirits’. Now, get back to Dallas and meet your new partner. You’re finally gonna get a taste of what it’s like to break in a rookie!”
“Hey, I was a great rookie!”
“You know what, Trivette. You’re absolutely right! You were a great rookie and a great partner. You watch yourself out there, you hear?”
“Take care of yourself, Jimmy. Anytime you need to talk, I’ll be there to listen.”
“Thanks, guys, for everything!”
C.D. stands behind the bar drying dishes and tidying up when he hears the door open. Turning toward the door, “Sorry, we’re…Jimmy!” Rounding the bar, Trivette meets him halfway as the older man pulls him into a firm embrace. “Son, it’s good to see you.”
“Hey, Big Dog. It’s good to see you too.”
Pulling back and holding Trivette at arm’s length, C.D. looks him over closely. “You doin’ okay, there, Jimmy. We were a little worried about you when we didn’t hear from you. Where’d you go?”
“I’m doing much better, C.D., thanks. I went to the Reservation and spent some time with White Eagle.”
“I knew it! I told Marsha that if I was a bettin man, that’s where I’d say you went. Cordell always said it was the only place on earth where he could get his head on straight.”
“Well, he was right, Big Dog, just like always. You said you told Marsha. Has she been in recently?”
“Jimmy, she’s been in here every night. Matter of fact, she’s right over there.” He points to a booth in far back of the bar where Marsha is wiping tables. “She’s been givin’ me a hand at night closin’ the place up. We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other. She’s a fine lady, Jimmy. Don’t you let her get away.”
Never taking his eyes from Marsha, “You know, C.D., you’re the third person to tell me that.”
“The third? Who else told you that?”
“Walker and Alex.”
“I might have known. Well, maybe it’s time you tell her.”
“Yeah, C.D., I think it is. Patting the older man on the shoulder, he starts toward Marsha, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Big Dog.”
Smiling at his young friend, “Okay, Jimmy.”
He watches as Trivette slowly approaches Marsha.
Hearing footsteps behind her, she turns, thinking it’s C.D. and when she sees Trivette, she throws herself into his arms clinging tightly to his neck “Oh, Jimmy. I’m so glad you’re back. I was beginning to worry about you. Are you all right?”
Holding her tight against his chest, he whispers “I am now!”
Pulling back, he looks deep into her eyes, “I love you.”
Smiling back at him with tears streaming down her face, “I love you too.”
From the bar, C.D. wipes a tear from his eye as he looks toward the heavens “Thanks for straightenin’ him out you two. Looks like he’s gonna be just fine now.”