My Hometown  

By Sasquaw   

 

Part 1

 

The rangers are returning from testifying in a two week trial in El Paso, they are within 30 minutes from the Ft. Worth city limits. The bearded one is deep in thought about an incident that happened outside of Decatur and the attempt to rescue a teenage girl and one ADA, Alex Cahill.

On the request from the girl's Father, Alex had taken it on herself to try and find out if the girl was being held against her wishes. The girl was pregnant with the cult leaders' child and Alex had learned the girl was also under age when she conceived, making it statutory rape. Alex said she would be charging the cult leader with rape and that the girl was 'brain washed' into believing he was 'the next messiah".

The siege was on and Walker had rescued the blonde attorney, it was what followed that had him now in a 'tailspin'.

He could still taste the lipstick that she wore and the sensuous kiss that she had laid upon him. At first he was surprised at her bold approach, but soon he was returning that kiss. And now, two weeks later he could still feel her lips upon his, their tongues going deep inside, his knees going weak--------"

"Are we home yet?” A gruff voice asks.

Walker takes a deep sigh, and answers with a touch of anger in his voice.

"No, we're not home yet!”

The black ranger looks to his partner, "What are you so grumpy about; we're almost home, aren't we?”

"So?”

Trivette studies his partner's face, and then smiles.

"Sooooo, that means you'll be seeing Alex, and don't try to pretend that you haven't been thinking about her! I've seen that 'goofy' look on your face, I know you're thinking of her and that kiss you laid on her!”

"For the record, Trivette--she kissed me--I didn't kiss her!”

Trivette is all smiles, "It doesn't matter who kissed who first, I saw that kiss and there was a lot of 'lip locking' involved! I thought I was going to have to hose you both down, a lot of heat coming from both of you!”

Walker shakes his head, "You're making more of this than what it really was. It was just a kiss, a 'thank you' for rescuing her, that's all!”

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Trivette smirks. "Call it what you want, but can you honestly say that you haven't been thinking about what that kiss could lead to? The woman is attracted to you, and I believe it's a two way street. So when are you two going to hit the sheets?”

"We haven't even had a date yet!”

"So, ask her out!"

The bearded one sighs and looks out his window muttering.

"What are you mumbling about, big guy?"

"I said I'll think about it----o.k.?”

Trivette throws his arms up in disgust, "You'll think about it? Good grief, do you take this much thought in asking all your dates out? Oh wait, wait a minute, maybe that's the reason you don't date much-you take too much time 'thinking about it

"Trivette, you know nothing about my social life! And for your information, my love life is none of your business; I don't ask you about yours, do I?”

"Maybe you should, you could use some excitement in yours!”

"At least I'm not out with a different woman every night like you claim to be!”

"You say that like it's a bad thing, I like women of all races, can't help it! I'm just a red bloodied American boy, put on this earth to satisfy---and be satisfied!”

"Yeah, and one of these days you're going to end up with an itch that can't be cured with just penicillin!”

"Never happen big guy, I use protection and I make sure my ladies are using protection too. I get checked out every month, just in case! I sure don't want any STD's popping up---it would slow the kid down."

"I reckon", mumbles the bearded one, "do you want to go to the court house or be dropped off at your apartment?”

"My car is at the court house. I'll pick it up, head home to a nice hot shower, and then to Monica's for a little TLC'!

 

Courthouse:

 

Trivette makes a dash to his desk to retrieve his car keys, Walker heads to the coffee pot.

            "Walker, got any plans for tonight, Monica has a couple of good looking friends?”

"Nope, I just want to finish this paperwork then I'm heading home to check up on "Amigo".

The black ranger smirks, "You lead such an exciting life! It's the weekend for Christ's sake; don't you want to be in the company of a beautiful and sexy woman instead of a horse?”

Walker takes a deep sigh and sips on his coffee, "Trivette, I'm tired and I don't want to get into another conversation about 'my social life'--alright?”

"Fine, I'm out of here."

Two seconds later and the black ranger is poking his head back in, "Hey Walker, Alex is out in the hallway talking to some reporters, now's the time".

"Time? Time for what?”

Trivette is getting impatient, "To ask her out, you ninny!”

Walker repeats the word 'ninny' and shakes his head, "You're spending too much time with C.D., you're now talking like him!”

Trivette is bouncing up and down, signaling for Walker to come to the door. "Will you get over here, the interview is almost over?”

The other rangers are staring at Walker; he shakes his head and goes to the door.

  Trivette is nodding his head towards the blonde attorney, "Ask her, what are you waiting for?”

Walker hesitates as he looks towards Alex and the two piece suit she's wearing. He mutters to himself, "Damn, she could make a burlap sack look sexy!”

 "Walker, will you quit muttering and go and ask her for a date? Hell, if you're nervous about being alone with her, Monica and I will make it a foursome!”

Walker stares daggers at his partner, "I don't need you holding my hand, and I'm sure not wanting you or your date hanging around!”

Alex has seen the two rangers and is now walking towards them.

            Trivette is trying to look nonchalant, "Heads up, she's coming this way!”

Walker is moving back and forth. He reaches up to take his Stetson off, and then realizes, it's in the office.

Alex approaches the two, rather cautious and maybe a little miffed'?

"Hi, what's up with you two?”

Both rangers try to talk at the same time, "Nothing, nothing at all".

    Trivette grins, showing his pearly whites. "We're just standing here, doing nothing, huh Walker?”

Walker grins, "Yeah---nothing. What's up with you, Alex?”

Trivette nudges the bearded ranger and whispers, "Ask her."

Alex observes the nudging; she smiles and looks into Walker's eyes.

"I was just wondering if you----uh never mind---I'll talk to you later".

 

Alex is walking away and Trivette slaps Walker in the back of the head. You ninny---she was getting ready to ask you something, go after her!”

 

Walker glares back at Trivette and then to the direction that the blonde has taken, he takes a few steps and he watches as she stops to talk to a man in a very expensive suit. He watches as the two laugh, then walk away together. Walker turns and walks back to his partner.

 

"What happened? Who was that dude she was talking to?”

"How the hell should I know?”

"But, she was already to ask you something, I don't get it!”

"Isn't it obvious, she's got a date with that guy?”

Nooo, I don't think so big guy!  I know women, she's up to something, I know it!"

Walker feels the back of his head and stares into Trivette's face, "Well, here's what I know--don't you ever hit me in the back of the head again---and stop calling me a 'ninny'!"

 

Trivette grimaces, "Sorry, big guy. Temporary loss of memory, forgot who I was standing next to--won't happen again".

 

The two are heading back to their office and Walker mutters, "It better not and do you even know what a 'ninny' is?”

"Of course I know!  A 'ninny' is a fool---whoa----well I'm out of here! See you Monday morning," and Trivette is hustling to the elevator.

 

It's now an hour later and Walker is still wondering what it was that Alex wanted to ask him, he keeps staring at his watch.

"Guess I'll never know until I ask ", he mutters. He retrieves his hat and starts walking towards her office, he sees Amy, her secretary coming out with an arm load of files. She drops one of the files and Walker hurries over to help her.

"Here, let me carry those for you. Where you heading?”

"Oh thank you so much Ranger Walker---'home, I'm heading home!”

   Walker looks back to Alex's office, "It looks like you're going to be busy this weekend, what about Miss Cahill, is she still working?”

"No, she left about an hour ago, said she wanted to beat the evening rush out of the city. I thought she told you, she said she was going to talk to you".

"Talk to me about 'what'?

The young woman hesitates, "Maybe I shouldn't have said anything----"

"Amy, what was Alex suppose to talk to me about?”

"Well, I think she was a little nervous about going up there and she said something like 'you would be yelling at her again and she didn't feel like being treated like a  incompetent , hair-brained, school girl----or something  to that  affect!”

 Up there? She went back up to that 'cult' in Decatur?”

Amy begins to back up at the tone in the Ranger's voice, "I'm sorry, I'm just telling you what she said".

"I'm sorry Amy; I didn't mean to yell at you. Why did she go back up there? That place was supposed to be torn down; they got all the people out of there!”

 

"I don't know, Ranger Walker---look I got to get home. My husband wants to take me out---it's our anniversary!”

Walker smiles, "Anniversary, how many years?”

"Not years, months! It's 8 months ago today that Jack and I got married---see you later, have a good weekend!”

Walker shakes his head and mutters to himself, "Months? They count anniversaries by months now?”

The ranger is still conversing with himself and wondering why on earth Alex would be going back up to that place, he slams the 'down' on the elevator and heads for the parking lot. He grabs his phone and begins dialing Alex's number. He's beginning to think she's never going to answer, finally he hears her voice.

"Alex, where the hell are you?”

"Excuse me, Walker do you ever say 'hello' first?”

"I don't have time for this Alex, now why are you going back up to Decatur?”

 Alex is getting angrier, "Because, it's on my way----if that's any of your business!”

"On the way-where? Never mind, what's your location?”

Alex is gritting her teeth, I'm just exiting onto to 287 North---why?”

 "When you get to Decatur, wait at the Dairy Queen restaurant, I'll meet you there!”

   Alex stares at her cell phone, "What the heck is that all about, how dare he order me around?”

  Decatur:

Alex has ordered a glass of tea and waiting impatiently for Walker to arrive. She looks at her watch for about the 10th time.

"What is taking him so long? It sure can't be the evening traffic on I-30, he would just turn the flashers on and go up on the media if he has to get around the traffic. I know one thing Mr. Cordell Walker, we are going to have a talk about all that has happened-believe me!”

She no sooner says the words that she sees Walker come through the door looking for her.

"Here you are! Alex, what are you doing here?”

She stares daggers back at him, "You ask--no rather you told me to meet you here!”

The ranger takes a deep sigh and throws his Stetson down on the seat beside him, "I don't mean here at the restaurant, I mean---why are you coming back up here?”

"I told you---it's on my way!”

"On your way? On your way to---where? You better not be going back out there to that cult compound, didn't you learn your lesson the first time?”

"What makes you think I'm going back to that compound, not that it's any of your business if I so desire?”

"Amy told me, she said you were nervous about going up 'there'---meaning here?”

Alex shakes her head, "Oh for pete's sake, I didn't tell Amy I was coming up here to the compound, I told her I was going to Wichita Falls!”

"Why are you going there?”

"I'm going to the Falls to visit some friends, if that's any of your business!”

The ranger orders a cup of coffee, and his voice mellows.

"Oh, well----Amy didn't tell me that. She said you were nervous about something and I just naturally assumed that you were going back to that compound. What are you nervous about?”

"Walker, I really don't want to get into this right now, I told Sandy that I was on my way, and I would like to get to their restaurant before the evening rush hits them".

"Restaurant?”

Alex finishes her tea and slides out of the booth, "Yes---Sandy and her husband Bill have a Mex-Tex restaurant; I got to get on the road!”

Walker throws a $5 bill on the table and hurries to catch up with the blonde.

"Wait a minute Alex, what was it that you wanted to ask me?”

She sighs, "Well, for a split second I was going to ask you if you would like to go to the Falls with me, but you and Jimmy were acting----weird. So, I assumed that you had a date----and I decided not to ask you!”

Walker hesitates, "Oh----I thought it was something really serious, guess I was wrong. Guess I'll be heading back to Dallas, "Amigo' is not feeling well".

The blonde nods her head, "Fine, I'll talk to you later".

The ranger watches as Alex enters her car, he starts to walk away and then he hears the car's engine sputtering. He waits for a second, but the car is not starting, he walks over to her.

"What's wrong, did you get those plugs changed like I told---or rather 'asked' you to do?”

 "Yes, I got new spark plugs!!! I filled up in Dallas and it has sputtered several times. Do you think I might have gotten some bad gas?”

Walker siphons some of the gas out and smells it. He shakes his head and stares back at Alex.

"Please don't say that you filled up at the corner of 128th and Greenwood!”

Her silence is all he needs to hear.

"Alex, you know that there have been complaints about their gas being watered down---why did you gas up there?”

The blonde is agitated, "I was in a hurry, I was almost on empty---I didn't have a choice!  There's another station across the highway, can it be siphoned out?”

"Yes, but it's going to take some time because all of the lines will have to be cleaned out!! Never mind, I'll take you to the Falls myself!”

"You don't have to do that; I'll get a 'rental".

"Alex, just get in the truck and we'll drive across the highway and tell them to send someone over here for your car and it can be getting 'cleaned' out while you're visiting your friends over the weekend!”

 

  ******************************

Wichita Falls

 

Alex and Walker have arrived at "El Casa" and Walker has been introduced to Alex's friends.

"It's real nice to meet you, Walker---please sit down and enjoy some of our homemade enchiladas."

The crowd is picking up as the Blancetts go to meet guests, and to help with the serving.

Walker has ordered "El Grande" and is on his second bowl of 'Chili Con Queso and salsa dip'.

"H'mmmmm this stuff is delicious, the enchiladas and chili are the best I've ever tasted!”

Alex is enjoying a smaller portion of the Mexican dish; she smiles as she takes a drink of her margarita.

"Better not let CD hear you say that, you know he thinks his chili is the best in Texas!”

 Walker nods his head, "Well, until I tasted this chili, I always thought that C.D.'s was the best!” His is a distant second!”

They finish their meal and the Blancetts have invited Walker to their home before going back to Dallas.

 

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

 

Burkbunett, Texas

 

The Blancett home is a Spanish style ranch home, complete with red brick gables and arches covering a lavish 3 car carport. The inside is breathtaking, as it too is done in Spanish decor with thick carpeting and exquisite brick tile. It's a split level, and in the middle of the living room is a waterfall that is transmitted into a fireplace for the winter.

Bill directs them into a huge den where a bar covers one complete side.

"What's your poison, Walker?”

Walker waves him off, "Can't be drinking, got to drive back to Dallas tonight".

"NO way---Sandy and I won't hear of it---we got plenty of room--you're staying here tonight!”

"My husband won't take 'no' for an answer, I'm going to show Alex to her room. Bill, make up a pitcher of margaritas---lots of salt!”

The ranger agrees to a beer as the women head down a long hallway.

 

Sandy keeps looking back at Walker and then to her friend.

"Alex, you didn't say you were bringing someone with you".

"That's because I didn't know myself, he invited himself along----actually I was having some trouble with my car and he agreed to drive me up here. Why? Is his being here going to be a problem?”

Sandy hesitates, "Nooo---I hope not. Are you two---you know--a couple?”

"No, and since when did you get to be so---'prudish'?

"I'm not prudish, I just need to know if you will be sharing the same ---bedroom?”

Alex laughs, "Walker can sleep on the couch---and judging from the looks of this place and the size of this bedroom, the couch is probably humongous!”

Both of the women laugh and Sandy begins helping Alex to put her clothes away. Sandy clears her throat.

"Uh Alex, I have another reason for asking about your friend".

Alex eyes her friend suspiciously, "Alright, spit it out! What are you up to, Sandy?”

"I thought you were coming alone---so I sort of set you up with one of Bill's friends."

   "You mean a 'blind date'----no way Sandy!! I remember the last time you set me up with a blind date----I married the guy!”

Sandy groans, "Yeah, that was a catastrophe!”

"Yeah! The worst year of my life!! No thanks, I'm not going on any blind dates!”

"Oh come on Alex, 'Coon' is nothing like that  ex-husband of yours!”

Alex stops putting her clothes away; she stares back at her friend.

"Coon?   What kind of name is that?”

Sandy shrugs, "So---he likes to hunt raccoons, what's wrong with that?”

   "I think I'll pass!”

"But, he loves to dance Alex and I know you do too. Coon is a fantastic dancer and he's really a nice man---sort of shy---but he's nice!!”

The arguing continues for several minutes and soon a reluctant Alex is agreeing to go out with Bill's friend. They return to the bar and Alex begins downing the margaritas like no tomorrow.  Walker and Bill are talking about the oil fields in Kuwait, while Alex and Sandy reminisce about their college days.

Walker keeps pulling the margarita pitcher away from Alex; she keeps yanking it back and glaring at him.

"Don't you think you've had enough?”

"No---I don't think I've had enough---I'm a big girl--I can handle my drinks!”

Walker shakes his head and goes back to talking to Bill.

"O.K. William---tell me about this friend of yours!”

Walker's eyebrow arches, "What friend?”

Alex smiles as she pours another drink, slapping Walker's hand away.

"I am going out with Bill's friend, any objections?”

Walker glares back at her, "No, like you said you're a big girl!”

 

Bill clears his throat, "Well, what would you like to know about him, Alex?”

The drinks are getting to Alex as she begins slurring her words.

"I hear he likes to hunt zoon---,   I mean coons----raccoons".

"Yep, old Walton has been hunting coons since he was knee high to a grasshopper---that's why we call him 'Coon".

Alex makes a face, "Why?? Does he eat them?”

Bill shakes his head, "No, raccoon meat is not too tasty".

"Then why does he hunt 'em?” Asks Alex.

Sandy eyes her husband quickly, "Bill, don't tell her about---'that'---you know!”

 

Alex's eyes dart back and forth between Bill and Sandy.

"Don't tell me about what 'thing'---what are you not telling me?”

Walker looks back to Bill and grins. He again reaches out to try and take the pitcher of margaritas away from Alex as she is trying to pour herself another drink. She slaps his hand again.

"Woush you, woush you please leave my drinks alone, these drinks are soooooo good Sandy---you make the bestest drinks in all of Texas----hell the whole world---of Texas!”

 Walks sighs, "Alex, you've had enough---you'll regret this in the morning".

Alex downs another drink and tells Bill to fix some more.

"I think Walker is right, you're getting a little 'tipsy', Alex".

"No---I'll tell you and my 'guardian angel here' whens I have---never mind---why does this 'Coooooon' hunt the coons if he don't eat them?”

"Are you sure you really want to know, Alex?”

Walker groans, "I don't think you should tell her".

"Tell me what? Sandy----whats they talking about?”

Bill takes a deep breath, "Alex, coon hunting is more of a souvenir 'thing'.

 Alex begins to hiccup, "Yeah----like hunting deer, they keep the horns---that sort of 'thing?”

Sandy grimaces, "Sort of like that. Alex, you really don't know what the main reason for coon hunting is?”

Alex stares back at her friend, "No, I just assumed they hunt and eat them. That's what 'Granny' was always cooking in a big pot ".

"Granny?" Asks Walker.

"Yeah you know---on that show 'Hillbillies---something or another. You know she would be cooking them up in a big pot---with green stuff. WHEW! Is it getting hot in here?”

"You mean the Beverly Hillbillies?”

"Yes Walker---'member C.D. is always talking about that show and the grease and stuff-----yuk".

 Sandy takes Alex by the arm and gently pulls her off the barstool, directing her to a table and chairs.

Why don't we sit over here, you're swaying back and forth on that stool, I'm afraid you're going to fall off".

Alex looks back at the stools, and begins to giggle. "I was starting to get a nose-bleed---why are those darn things sooooo tall?”

Walker and Bill grab their beers and sit down at the table.

"Alex, why don't you let Sandy show you to your room?”

"Noask---Walker, I want to hear why they hunt coons. Now, woush you please let Bill finish his----story?”

"O.k.---you asked for it---continue Bill!”

"Well, here in these parts they hunt the coons because they tear up a lot of property and some of these coons can get pretty good size---and even attack small pets. But, the meat is not very good, so they skin them and sell the hides".

"That's, that's terrible---those poor little animals."

"Yeah, well after they sell the hides----they take souvenirs and sometimes even give 'them' as 'gifts'."

“What---kind of gifts---they don't have horns!”

Bill turns to Walker, "Maybe you should tell her?”

"Oh no---this is your story, she doesn't want me to interfere!”

Bill nods his head, "Well Alex, the souvenirs the hunters take are the 'penal bones".

   Alex's eyes are blinking rapidly, "Penal bones?----You mean-----their----little 'wee wees?”

 Walker starts choking on his beer and they all start laughing.

"Yes Alex---their little 'wee wees", explains the ranger.

"But why?”

"Because it's a tradition between the hunters! A way to keep score, so to speak".

 "Is that true, Bill? They cut them off and keep them----that's grose!”

Sandy smirks, "Well, if you think that's grose---wait till Bill tells you what else they do---tell her honey----get it all out!”

Alex's mouth is wide open as she looks to each of her friends, "There's ---more?”

Bill takes a long swig of his beer and pours himself another.

"They also cut off the testicles".

Now Alex is crying, "Why? Why would they do such a thing to---a helpless little animal?”

"They're also given as 'gifts', but why anyone would want to wear one of those things around their necks is beyond me!" Replies Sandy.

"They wear those----stinky little bones------and other----stuff around their necks----oh my God, I think I'm going to be sick!”

Walker is reaching out for Alex as Sandy comes around the table to grab her; she nods towards the nearest bathroom.

"Just help me to get her in there; I'll take care of her!”

A half hour later and Alex is still 'upchucking' her margaritas. Walker keeps staring at the closed doors, and Bill is walking in circles and apologizing over and over.

"It's not your fault Bill; she kept wanting to hear the story. You think she's alright in there?”

"Yeah, I hear the shower going. Sandy will make sure she's o.k.---Want another beer?”

"No thanks! Maybe some coffee?”

 

Another hour passes and Sandy motions for Walker to help carry Alex to her room. He lays her down on the king size bed and keeps brushing her damp hair back out of eyes. Sandy watches the rangers' tenderness.

"She'll be alright Walker, but she's going to have a hell of a hangover come morning. I'll have Bill show you to your room".

Walker keeps looking back to Alex, "Maybe I should stay in here, make sure that she's o.k.?”

"Walker, she's fine. Alex has had hangovers before. In college---we emptied many beer kegs and hard liquor-----""

Walker is starting to show his anger, "That was college days Sandy, this is now---and I've never known Alex to drink this much!”

He stops and apologizes. "I'm sorry, I'm a guest in your home and I was out of line to snap at you that way".

Bill comes up behind Walker and taps him on the shoulder, "Come on Walker, I'll show you where you'll be bunking---its right down the hall".

Again Walker is flabbergasted at the size of the room before him, complete with a huge fireplace, wet bar, and another king size bed. Carpet so thick you could sleep on it.

The ranger sighs, "This is real nice Bill, but I'm still worried about Alex. Also, what about this 'COON', what kind of a guy is he?”

"Walker, I've known Coon for over 30 years, he won't get out of line with Alex, if that's what you're afraid of?”

"He's a man, isn't he? Of course he's going to 'hit' on her!”

Bill studies the man before him, "Walker, are you and Alex------"?”

"No, we're just good friends, but I don't want anyone trying to get out of line with her---and that means 'no one'!

 Bill puts his hands up in defense, "Wait a minute---hey I'm a happily married man---and I would never try to get of line with Alex or any woman. I love my wife!”

            Again Walker is apologizing.

"I'm sorry, guess I'm just tired and a little irritable, don't know why I'm so defensive".

Bill scratches his chin, "Sounds like to me that you know all too well why you're acting so 'defensive'. But, that's your business. Hey, are you an early riser?”

"Yeah, why?”

"Well, Alex has mentioned to Sandy on several occasions that you're a big Dallas Cowboy fan and that you've met Troy Aikman?”

"Yeah, I know Troy, he's a good friend. Doesn't he race the 'Legends' close to here?”

"Yep, about 15 miles down the road at the race track, would you like to see it?”

"Yeah, I’d love to. I've been meaning to come up here and go to the races, Troy has invited me, but my job always kept me too busy."

Bill's eyes go wide, "Troy Aikman invited you personally?”

"Yes, I told you he's a good friend. He tries to do charity work for the kids around Ft. Worth and Dallas, and I've taken several handicapped kids to some of the games. Troy and several of the other players sign footballs for them".

            "Wow! Is this going to mess up 'Sasquaw's mind, she's going to be green with envy---thinks she's all that!!!  Rubbing my nose in it that she won 'The Biggest Dallas Cowboy Fan in Wichita Falls, had her picture plastered all over THE TIMES & RECORD NEWS---but to my knowledge she's never met any of the Cowboys!”

Walker stares back at Bill, "Who is this Sasquatch?”

Bill smirks, "Not Sasquatch,  -----   Sasquaw! A friend of Sandy's '!

Walker shakes his head, "Oh, that's nice. I think I'd like to look in on Alex, if that's O.K?”

  As the ranger is heading back down the hall, Bill is again scratching his chin.

 "Now, who does that guy remind me of? Right on the tip of my tongue, who is it?”   

 

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

 

The next morning finds Walker leaning on the corral fence and watching some of Bill's horses getting frisky. He sips his coffee as he looks back to see Alex coming out the kitchen door. He watches as she takes a few steps then stops, putting her hand up over her eyes, squinting as the August sun bears down.   The procedure continues until she reaches the fence, then she too is leaning up against it.

Walker is fighting to keep from teasing her.

"Good morning sunshine".

Alex clears her throat and then nods towards the ranger's coffee cup, "May I have some ----of your coffee?”

"Yes, you may", he hands her the hot coffee, she sips it slowly. "So, how do you feel this morning?” 

"Like I've got a mouth full of salt, how many drinks did I have?”

Walker reaches out to take his coffee back, but Alex is not ready to give it to him. She continues to sip it slowly.

"I don't know how many drinks you had, because you were drinking the margaritas by the pitcher full, and I stopped counting after the second pitcher---or rather when you 'told' me to stop counting".

"I said that?”

Walker smiles, "In a round about way!”

The blonde continues to sip the coffee, and rubbing her head. "I feel like my head is about to come off my shoulders".

Walker reaches out and takes the coffee cup from her. He pulls her to him gently, turning her around.

"Come here, just relax and try to think of something nice---and serene while I massage your shoulders".

The blonde is totally relaxed as her eyes begin to close, "That feels sooooo good, don't ever stop".

"Maybe next time you won't be so rough on the liquor, remember you're not in college anymore".

"I'm never gonna drink again", she mumbles.

"Famous last words! Alex, a few drinks to unwind is fine, but you were downing those drinks like they were water!”

"I guess I was just a little nervous about going out on this blind date".

"Alex, you don't have to go---just tell Sandy that you've changed your mind and let it go at that!”'

"I can't do that, I promised her that I would go with this guy, after all it's just to a dance! But all last night I kept dreaming about-----raccoons-----and that stuff that Bill was telling me about----and each time I would have to run to the bathroom and I could have sworn that someone was in the room with me. I was afraid to open my eyes, afraid of what I might see".

Walker smiles to himself, "Yeah---you were really out of it".

"Walker, did you say something?”

"No, I didn't say anything, how does your head feel now?”

Alex shakes her head back and forth, "A lot better, thank you. Are you still going back to Dallas today?”

"Yeah, as soon as Bill gets back. We're going to drive over and watch The Legends race".

 "Legends? What's that?”

"They're miniature race cars, getting pretty popular up here. Bill was hoping that Troy Aikman would be racing, but I tried to tell him this is 'preseason' and none of the players are allowed to partake in any outside activities. Seems he's on some kind of vendetta to see who comes out on top between him and someone called "Sasquaw!”

 "What's that?”

"Never mind, I see Bill coming up the driveway-----so I guess I'll see you back in Dallas?”

Alex smiles, "You know you could come to the dance too?”

"No way, I wouldn't think of being a third wheel and messing up your date with----COOON! Besides, I have to get home and check on "Amigo".

Alex stares back at the bearded ranger and her thoughts go to an old "B" western where instead of the hero cowboy riding off into the sunset with the heroine, he prefers to be with his ----HORSE!!

For a moment she's offended, then she laughs.

"What else could I expect; it's always been pretty much the same choice".

"Excuse me?”

"Never mind, I'll see you when I see you! Right now I'm meeting Sandy for lunch and then we're off----shopping! I didn't pack anything for a western dance--- so bring out the plastic, I want to buy something extra nice for tonight---see ya!”

Walker leans back against the fence and watches the blonde sashay back to the house, her buttocks filling out the tight fitting jeans--- ever sooooo nice.

He smiles and rubs his beard, "You could show up in that damn burlap sack and still be the sexiest woman in this hick town---and all the other women would pale in comparison!”

 

 Wichita Falls Race Line:

 

 Walker and Bill have been admiring the little race cars, Bill shakes his head and looks back to Walker in confusion.

"There's something I can't quite understand".

"What's that?”

"The size of these cars! Now, Troy Aikman is over 6ft tall, how does he get into these little things?”

Walker laughs, "Beats me, I guess anything is possible".

"I reckon you're right, if you want something bad enough and these little 'Legend' cars have been around for years!”

The men continue to look around as one of the mechanics walks up to Walker.

"Hey Mr. Norris, didn't know your son was racing today?”

Walker turns to the man and the man does a double take.

"I'm sorry; I mistook you for someone else. The beard sort of threw me there for a moment."

"No harm done, you work on these cars?”

The man continues to stare at the ranger, "Yeah, especially #37".

"Who races that one?”

Bill is walking back towards the two men and he too is staring back at Walker.

"That's Eric Norris' car----that's who you remind me of----Chuck Norris!!!”

Walker hesitates, "Oh yeah, I've heard of him".

The mechanic breaks out in a wide grin, "Heard of him? Hell, he's one of the best Karate guys in the world, next to Bruce Lee!!”

Walker is only half listening as the two men continue to stare at him.

"What about the man himself, does he race too?”

"Sometimes, once in awhile---but mostly he stays up there and watches his son race!"

 Walker looks upward to where the man is pointing.

"Up where?”

Bill laughs, "Up there, in his chopper! He's got a 'bird's eye view to watch his son race, and besides he doesn't get along too well with the owners of this place!”

"Really? Is he that hard to get along with?”

 The mechanic reaches out to shake the two men’s' hands, "I'm Burt, by the way. And 'no', it's not Mr. Norris that's hard to get along with---it's the owners! They clashed from day #1; they didn't like it because so much attention was given to Norris and not the rest of the racers. But hell, Norris brought in the money---big Hollywood star and all---he's a little 'pushy', but not as bad as a lot of those Hollywood 'know it alls'!

"Then why the 'clash'?

"Oh, the owners are big NASCAR racers; they live and breathe it, like most people around here are with "The Cowboys! Anyways, they think there's nothing else but racing, especially where their son and other family members are concerned. So, they figured if Norris was going to be the main attraction, then why not make some money off the souvenirs left behind. Norris got all of his crew to clean up every piece of paper, broken glass, or anything else that could be used to sell as souvenirs. That was that, and the words were exchanged!! After that Norris would stay up in his chopper, watch his son race---and never landed here again!”

Bill nods his head, "Yep and the owners' wife was even worse! She and Sandy bowled on a league together and she was constantly trashing Norris, and especially his son, Eric!!! Talking about how fat he was and was having trouble getting into the cars, that he needed to go on a diet---all sorts of trash! Anyways, Sandy heard all she wanted to hear, turned to the woman and asked---"have you looked into a mirror lately, you could stand to lose some weight too!”

Burt starts laughing, "Yeah, I remember that day; she came home madder than a hornet and told her husband not to let the Norris' race here anymore. After that, Eric started racing down in Arlington, no skin off his nose!”

Walker shakes his head, "Sounds like this little town has more going on in it that I thought!”

All the men laugh, and Bill slaps Walker on the shoulder.

"Oh The Falls is noted for kicking up a stink---just ask anyone about that stupid crepe myrtle sculpture in 'beautiful down town Wichita Falls' that some idiot sold to the city for way up in the thousands of dollars that just sits there and does nothing but serves as target practice for all the birds! And----oh yes---"Sasquaw" had her hand in that too!”

"Your wife's friend, how does she figure in?”

"Sasquaw wanted a carport, but the rules were so strict on erecting one that she and two other ladies challenged city hall---they won----and Sasquaw and the other ladies got their carports!!!

The mechanic bids farewell and Walker is walking back towards his truck.

"Wish you would re-consider about staying and going to the dance, Walker!”

"No, I don't think so---I'm not much of a dancer and I don't want to spoil Alex's evening. Bill, would you sort of keep an eye on her---don't let this "Coon" hurt her------"

"Walker, I told you--Coon wouldn't hurt a fly, unless---- that fly was on a raccoon!!!”

"Just the same---keep an eye on her---alright? Thanks for the hospitality, if you're ever in Dallas, drop by my ranch".

They bid farewell and Bill shouts back to him. "If you change your mind we'll be at 'Texas Nite Lite on the Archer City Highway".

 

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

 

Decatur:

 

 Walker has stopped by the garage to check on Alex's little convertible.

"Did you get all the gasoline out of the lines?”

"Yep, but there's a bigger problem, cracked distributor cap!”

Walker observes the crack, "How did this happen?”

"Your guess is as good as mine, but we don't have the parts. I'll have to order them from Ft. Worth; it'll be the middle of next week before we can get this baby going!”

Walker takes a deep sigh and gives the man permission to order the parts. He looks around and spots a western wear clothing store.

    "H'mmmmm, well if I'm going to go dancing---I'll need a new shirt!"

 

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

 

Texas Nite Lite:

 

Alex is staring back at the man called "Coon".

The man is tall and lanky with greased back hair, old jeans and a checkered color shirt, wearing a baseball cap.

Coon is very polite as he shakes Alex's hand; he keeps staring into her eyes.

"Are those eyes real?” He asks.

"Excuse me?”

"I don't mean nothing bad; it's just that I ain't never seen eyes so blue. Are them there contacts?”

"Coon, you're being rude", replies Sandy.

"Yeah, straighten up and fly right. You don't ask a woman such personal questions!” Bill replies, nudging him.

The man falls all over himself apologizing. They all sit down and a round of drinks are bought. Alex sips her straight coke, very slowly.

Sandy is right, Coon is a very good dancer and they're doing all the latest dances.

It's a good hour later and Alex is exhausted at trying to keep up with all the dance steps. A polka is played and Alex and Sandy head for the ladies room.

"Well? What do you think of him, I told you he was nice?”

Alex smiles weakly, "Yes, he is nice. Why does he keep pushing out his bottom lip with his tongue?"

Sandy hesitates, "That's where he keeps his wad of tobacco. Half the men in here either chew or smoke".

Alex frowns, "Yuk, so that's what I've been seeing seeping out of the corner of his mouth----very unsightly!”

"I just hope he keeps it in his mouth when we go out to eat later".

"You're not saying he's going to plop it down on the dinner table, are you?”

Sandy groans, "Wellllll---where else is he going to put it while we eat?”

"No way am I going out to eat with that man------"

"Oh come on Alex, he really likes you. He keeps telling Bill how pretty you are-----

 "Hello ladies".

The women turn towards the voice and Alex is fighting to keep from smiling.

Walker, what are you doing here? I thought you had to get back to Dallas, to "Amigo?”

Walker is drinking a beer, "Thought I would come back and tell you that your little car is in need of a new distributor, if you're interested?”

"Oh great, more expenses!”

"Just thought you would like to know, uhhh---you better get back to your 'date'---he looks a little lost!”

Alex looks back towards their table, she sees Coon walking around with a confused look on his face. Some men start to hassle him by taking his cap and throwing it back and forth between them.

"He is not my date, and will you stop trying to order me around?”

Walker finishes his beer and looks to a table with three young beautiful women; they look back at him and smile.

"Fine, do what you want to do. That brunette asked me to dance a few minutes ago, think I will take her up on her offer----excuse me!”

Alex does a slow burn as she watches Walker take the hand of the young woman and they walk towards the dance floor. She sighs and heads back to her table, mumbling to herself.

 "Of all the nerve!! It's always been an act of congress to get him to dance and then he flaunts it by asking that 'bimbo' to dance! She's young enough to be---his daughter!"

 The young woman is trying to start a conversation with the ranger; he keeps looking over her shoulder into the direction that Alex has taken.

"My name is  Shylah, what's yours?”

"What?”

"I said my name is Shylah. But don't let the 'shy' in my name fool you, I'm not the least bit shy. So, what's your name, cowboy?”

Walker stares back at the young woman; she's very attractive with her tight fitting jeans and equally tight blouse. The top two buttons are about to pop open as Walker clears his throat and backs up.

"John, my name is John".

They continue to dance as the woman moves in closer to the ranger; he keeps looking toward Alex's table. The three men that were taunting Coon have now turned their attention to Alex and trying to pull her onto the dance floor. Coon is trying to stop them and so are Bill and Sandy.

"Sooo John, what do you do for a living, I've never seen you here before?”

"Uhhhh, will you excuse me, got to see a man about a horse---it was nice dancing with you---thanks".

Walker stomps towards the three men and grabs the one that has Alex's arm, he spins him around.

"Let her go---now!”

"Back off cowboy, this is none of your business".

 Walker reaches out and pulls Alex away from the man, "I'm making it my business---now leave her alone!”

The fight is on and Coon is trying to get Alex out of harms' way. One of the men grabs him and throws him into another cowboy and the fight expands with chairs flying through the air and beer bottles breaking.

Bill and Sandy have pulled Alex out of the way and Bill is now going to try and help Coon. As he does, a chair hits him in the back of the head and he too goes down. Both Bill and Coon are trying to scoot themselves across the 'sawdust' floor, as one of the three men grab Coon and start hitting him in the stomach.

Coon grabs his stomach and then his face goes red; he has swallowed his tobacco and is choking on it! Alex and Sandy run to him and start slapping him on the back, the man's eyes are rolling back into his head.

Alex starts screaming for someone to do something, but no one is coming to the man's aid. She screams out to Walker who has just landed a fist to the first man that attacked him. He kicks out and brings the second man down as he hears Alex screaming for him.

Walker runs to Coon and pulls him up on his feet; his hands go under the rib cage as he jerks the man upward. The three men are charging at Walker again as the ranger pulls Coon back up in the air and yells to the man to kick out as hard as he can.    

Coon does as he's instructed and his boot connects to the under chin of the first man.  The other two are charging Walker again; Walker spins Coon around and shouts to him.

"One more time Coon, you're doing fine---now KICK!!!”

Again Coon's boot connects to a vital part of the attackers' body.

The third man backs off as the local police are rushing in.

Walker turns to Coon, the man is sputtering as he points to his throat. Walker slaps him hard on the back, the man falls to the floor and a wad of chewed tobacco comes flying out, onto the well polished shoe of a local cop!

Coon stands there for the longest, as he's trying to thank Walker, and trying to get his breath back.

Bill and the ladies run to Coon and all are asking him if he's .o.k.

An hour later the report has been made and no charges are filed against anyone.

            Walker looks down to the rip in his new shirt, he lets out a few curse words and looks to Alex, "Are you ready to go home now?”

Alex says nothing as she reaches for her purse and heads for the door, Walker follows her.

 

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

 

Blancett ranch:

 

Alex has gotten the first aid kit and is trying to clean the cut, Walker keeps telling her that he's fine and they need to get on the road back to Dallas.

"Would you please be still? Walker this needs stitches!”

"No, it doesn't, I'm fine! Alex, would you please pack your things and let's go!”

 Alex says nothing as she walks over to the window of her bedroom; she turns slowly and faces the ranger.

"I'm not going back to Dallas, I'm staying here."

"Not going back, what do you mean?”

"I mean what I just said; I've decided that I don't want to go back to Dallas".

"Oh come on Alex, you have your practice there!  Are you just going to walk away from the ADA's office?”

Alex folds her arms across her chest, "I'm not giving up my practice, I'm thinking of maybe moving it here!”

"And, when did you decide that?”

A few weeks ago I was debating on it, but now I've made up my mind. So, you can just go on back to Dallas---I won't be coming with you!”

Walker is pacing, "No, there's more to this than you just deciding that you want to change location! Alex, Dallas is 10 times the size of this place, what or 'who' has changed your mind!”

Alex stares at the ranger for the longest, she takes a deep breath and replies "You are the reason I'm staying!”

"ME? Alex, you're not making any sense, what have I done?”

"That's just it; you haven't done anything in regard to our relationship".

"What relationship?” He asks confused.

Alex throws her arms up in the air in disgust, "Walker, how long have we known each other, and how many times have we gone out on a 'date' without someone tagging along?”

"What's wrong with going out to eat with friends, especially C.D. and Trivette?”

"Nothing, once in awhile is o.k., but sometimes I would like for it just to be the two of us?”

"We have lunch all the time in between your cases and when I can spare the time", the ranger is trying to explain.

Alex nods her head, "When you have time to spare, is that how you see our relationship?”

"Alex, you keep talking about a 'relationship'---I don't understand what you're talking about because it was you that said you didn't want to get involved with anyone!”

"When did I say that, Walker?”

"When we first started seeing each other outside the office, you don't remember? We both agreed that we would just be friends, you don't remember that?”

The blonde is getting angrier, "I remember! There is nothing wrong with my memory---Walker---that was over two years ago!”

"So now---you've changed your mind? How am I supposed to know that?”

"Walker, you make me so mad!!! Any normal man would pick up on the little subtle things that have happened. Feelings change, I've changed!! I want a normal relationship that happens between a man and a woman.  The lunches that we have are nice and the occasional dinners that we have alone are nice too, but at the end of the evening I would like something more than a kiss on the cheek and the 'I'll see you tomorrow or when I get back from a case' routine! But, you don't have a clue at what I'm trying to say, do you?”

 

"I'm not completely without feelings as you're trying to imply!”

Alex approaches the ranger slowly, looking deep into his hazel eyes.

"Then answer me one thing, did you have any feelings at all about what happened out at the compound when I kissed you?”

"Of course, I felt----something".

"Then why haven't you asked me out on a real date?”

The ranger is getting flustered and confused.

   "Because----I thought it was just a reaction because of what all had happened and that you were grateful to being rescued---sort of".

"That's all it meant to you, even though you kissed me back?”

Walker's thoughts go back to the night in question, he remembered that kiss all too well, and he hadn't been able to get it out of his mind, not that he wanted to.

"I have intended to ask you out on 'a real date' as you put it, but I don't like standing in line".

"What's that suppose to mean?”

"Each time I have asked you, you say you've made other plans".

  Alex starts pacing again, "That's because you always wait till the very last minute to ask me, no woman wants to be asked at the very last minute!”

Walker walks back to the bed and grabs his Stetson; he looks to Alex and takes a deep sigh.

 "It's obvious that we are not going to get anything settled tonight and if we keep yelling at each other, one of us is going to say something that 'he or she' doesn't want to say! I'm going back to Dallas, are you coming or not?”

Alex bites her bottom lip, "No, I'm not going back to Dallas with you, because it's obvious to me that things will not change if I do. I think we should just go our separate ways because it's also obvious that we're just not right for each other, goodbye Walker!”

A very confused and angry cowboy is making his way back to "Big D" while a blonde attorney is softly crying.

 

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

 

Dallas: 2 wks later:

 

Walker is sitting at the bar at C.D.'s downing his 3rd long neck, and just staring at the mirror behind the bar. Trivette and C.D. are sitting at the other end of the bar staring back at the bearded ranger.

The old man takes a deep sigh, "Jimmy, how is Cordell on your stake-outs, I'll bet he's as grumpy as an old bear with his foot caught in a bear trap!”

Trivette shakes his head, "Nope, the complete opposite---and that ain't normal!”

"Yeah, it's been 2 wks since Alex said she was staying up there in the Falls, I was hoping she would change her mind! Has Cordell heard from her?”

"Not that I know of, but I do know one thing---Walker has been spending a lot of time down around Waco".

"Waco? Doesn't he have some old 'girlfriends' down that way?”

"Yep, and I have seen him on the phone talking to someone, but as soon as he sees me--he hangs up!”

C.D. grunts, "Well, you can't blame him for moving on, Jimmy. After all Alex was the one to end that little charade of a 'relationship'! Oh well, they can work it out, 'if' there's anything left to work out'!

Another week has passed and Walker is seldom seen after his shift is over.  The phone rings at C.D.'s Bar & Grill and a very angry Alex Cahill is on the other end.

"Slow down Alex, 'no' I haven't seen Cordell in over a week, why?”

At that moment a very tired and exhausted Cordell can be seen entering the bar. The ranger sits down at the bar and slams his hat down on the counter, mumbling to himself.

"A beer, C.D. make it two!!”

The old man shoves the phone in the rangers' face, "I'll get your beer Cordell, you take care of this!”

"I don't want to talk to anyone" he shoves the phone away.

C.D. shakes the phone in front of Walker's face, "It's Alex, and she's madder than a wet hen!”

Walker shakes his head as he takes the phone, "What's she so mad about?”

"Ask her!!!!!"

"What is it, Alex?”

"Walker, where the heck is my car?”

"It's in Decatur, haven't you picked it up yet?”

"I would love to pick it up, but they say they don't have it!”

"What do you mean they don't have it, are you sure you went to the right garage?”

    "Gus's garage? Right across the highway, close to McDonalds'?

Walker's brow arches, "Yeah, that's the one. They told you it wasn't there?”

The blonde is getting angrier, "Yes!!! I called them almost 2 wks ago, they said they were having problems getting another distributor, so I called them again and now they say they never had my car and no paperwork on it!”

Walker takes a deep breath, "I'll drive down there to see what the problem is".

The ranger hesitates, then slowly he asks. "Well, aside from you not being able to find your car, are you---are you alright?”

"Yes, I'm fine----and you?”

"I'm alright, I'm leaving now to go and check on your car. I'll call you when I find out what the problem is".

C.D. has been listening to Walker's end of the conversation, "Alex can't find her car, why not Cordell?”

Walker downs the one beer and then grabs his hat; he looks back to the old man.

"I don't know what's going on because I know and Alex knows that we took her car to that garage to get the lines cleaned out and that mechanic said she had a cracked distributor!  He said he would have to order it from Ft. Worth! It does not take 3 weeks to get a distributor, so that mechanic better have a damn good reason for keeping her car this long!”

On the way out of bar & grill, Trivette is coming in, Walker grabs his arm.

"Got any plans for tonight?”

The black ranger stutters, "No, I was just going to grab something to eat-----"

"I'll buy your supper, come with me". 

"Where we going?”

"To Decatur, I'll fill you in on the way there!”

 

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

 

Trivette is staring daggers at Walker as he stares down at his meal, as they exit the drive- thru. A big Mac combo and a diet coke.

"Walker, when you said you were buying me supper, you didn't say it was going to be at McDonalds'! I got to have real food; this kind of food clogs my arteries!"

Walker is saying nothing as he keeps staring over at the garage where he left Alex's car. He watches the unusual activity that is going on.

"Something’s not right", he mumbles.

"You can say that again!" Replies Trivette as he holds up French fry, it droops because of all the heavy grease.

"Walker, you said you were buying me supper, I'm getting heartburn just looking at all this grease!”

The ranger stares back at his partner, "Would you stop complaining, all the other eating places are closed at this hour. You got a free meal, didn't you?”

Trivette's mouth drops open, "Oh---well pardon me! How much did this meal set you back---a whole $5.00?”?

Walker directs his attention back to the garage, "No, I think it was closer to six---yeah---I had to break a $10 bill, the last one I had!”

Trivette throws the fries back in the sack and motions for Walker to drive by the trash can, he tosses it.

"What did you do that for, that's a waste of money!”

Trivette growls back at his partner, "Don't push me Walk-man, I'm hungry and when I get hungry----"

Walker sits up in his seat and nods towards the garage, "Heads up---something is going down".

"Well, it sure isn't this damn food--- my stomach is doing flip-flops!”

Walker exits the Ram, "I'm going to try and get closer, see what I can find out."

Trivette is looking around and spots a gas station, "You do that Walkman, I got to take a piss and find something to eat, I'm starving!”

Walker shakes his head, "Complain, complain!! You would complain if you were being hung with a new rope!”

"As hungry as I am, I would probably eat the rope! If I hadn't come with you I would be eating sushi".

"No, you wouldn't! C.D. doesn't serve raw fish, at least not intentionally!"

"I was going to settle for a nice tuna salad, but you took care of that and brought me to McDonalds, the #1 place to raise your cholesterol! I swear Walker, being your partner and eating all these meals in a half vertical position, I'm never going to see my 30th birthday! My blood pressure won't take it!”

Walker's brow arches as he stares back at Trivette, “Your 30th birthday? I thought you passed that a long time ago?”

The black ranger's mouth drops open as he quickly grabs the rear view mirror and examines himself, he looks back to Walker.

"Do I look that bad? I don't think I look that bad---Walker, am I looking that bad?”

The bearded ranger sighs, "Trivette, I have other more important things to do than stand here, discussing your vanity!  Keep an eye open, I'm getting closer to that garage".

Trivette makes a quick trip to relieve himself and then returns to the Ram. Almost an hour passes and then Walker comes back to his truck.

"Well, what did you see? What's going on over there?”

Walker sighs, "Nothing---that I can tell--outside of a friendly poker game".

"You didn't see Alex's car?”

"Nope, and that's the weird part. Where are all the cars that are supposed to be in there for repairs?”

"Walker, this isn't making any sense! You mentioned on the way up here that you suspected the makings of a 'chop/shop'---no offense to Alex's little car---but the Chrysler Sebring is not exactly a popular make!”

"You're right about that---so what's left--drugs?”

Trivette shakes his head, "I think we bust right in there and demand to know where Alex's car is!”

"No search warrant, Trivette-but that doesn't stop us from just casually asking them some questions, right?”

The two rangers approach the garage and casually walk in, looking all around.

The four men playing poker stop and stare at the un-welcome guests, the one that seems to be in charge hollers out at them.

"We're closed, come back in the morning!”

Trivette shows the star on his shirt, "Not for us! We're Texas Rangers, need to ask some questions!”

As Trivette questions the men, Walker is looking around for some sign of Alex's car being there, his patience is getting the best of him.

"I need to talk to whoever is in charge here!”

"That would be me" answers a tall lanky guy.

Walker studies the man; he is not the one that was here before when Alex's car was dropped off.

"Are you the boss, what happened to the other guy that was here a few weeks ago? He was shorter than you, had tats all up and down his forearm!”

The man shakes his head, "Don't recall anyone working here that fits that description!”

Walker gets up in the man's face, "I'll ask you again, and this time I want a straight answer".

The man is nervous, "O.K, O.K.---that's Dennis, my brother-in-law, why? What did he do this time?”

"We're asking the questions", replies Trivette.

"Your brother-in-law was working here when I dropped off a light green Chrysler Sebring Convertible, red pin stripe down the sides, to get the gas lines cleaned out. When I checked on it the next day he said it had a cracked distributor and it would take a few days to get another one from Ft. Worth. The car belonged to my friend and when she called about it, she was told you didn't have it and there was no work sheet on it. Care to explain?”

The man scratches his chin, "I remember a woman calling and asking about that kind of car, but as I told her---we don't have that car or anything similar to it!”

Walker stares harder at the man, "Now, let me get this straight. You're telling me that I just imagined leaving the car here, is that what you're saying?”

"I am saying we don't have that car---look at the work sheet yourself! Are you sure it was this garage?”

            "I'm sure it was this garage, I was with her when she dropped it off! Now, where is this Dennis, I want him to answer some questions".

"Well, good luck on finding him! I haven't seen him in over a week; I fired his butte because I caught him in the cash register more than once. Last time I saw him, he was driving a little convertible, he said it belonged to his girlfriend over at Mc Donald's. Her name is Ruby---go ask her!”

"We'll do just that! In the meantime I'm getting the highway patrol out here to go over this place and you better hope we don't find any evidence of the car being here, or I will have you closed down! Is that clear?”

"Close me down? On what charges?”

"You're the owner of this place and you are held responsible for everything that goes on here, right now you're a suspect in being an accomplice to whatever has gone down! If I find out that you know more than what you've told me, I'll be back and believe me---you won't like my disposition!”

Trivette nods his head, "You can be sure of that! And by the way, where are all the other cars that you're suppose to be working on?”

"Got rid of all of them, we're just a small garage--we do small jobs. The cars are in and out by the end of the working day. And that's another thing.  We don't do anything except change tires, lubrications, and once in awhile flush out an engine. And, we most certainly don't order things from Ft. Worth and that's what I told that lady that called!”

The rangers take one final look around and then head back to the Ram. Trivette looks to his partner.

"Good bluff, Walkman. Now what do we do?”

"Are you hungry?”

"I'm starving".

"Good, let's go have breakfast".

Walker heads the Ram back to Mickey D's and Trivette is swearing underneath his breath, "Nooooo, not this place again---I just got my stomach settled down!”

 

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

     

Wichita Falls County courthouse:

 

Alex has been given a temporary office until one can be appointed to her. She's having coffee and going over some old files. A dark haired man in an expensive suit taps on her door.

"May I come in?”

Alex is all smiles, "Barry---it's good to see you again".

They embrace slightly and the man called Barry is looking around Alex's office.

"It's only temporary Alex; your new office will be ready by the end of the week, that is--if you're still planning on staying?”

"Why do you say that, Barry?”

"Alex, how long have we known each other, I can see in your eyes that you're not completely sure about opening up a practice here?”

The blonde takes a deep breath, "You could always read me like a book, couldn't you?  The truth is, I have gotten another offer, do you remember Eli Pavillion?”

"Yeah, I remember him, the three of us worked on several cases up in Denver, he's still there?”

"Yes, and he's offered me a full partnership if I will move up there."

"And---your own keys to the washroom?” Barry teases.

Alex laughs, "Yes!----And, I'm considering it".

"I was hoping that you would stay and maybe we could work on some cases together. But, I talked to Eli and I knew that he was going to offer you the position----but Alex----are you sure you want to go down that path again, you and Eli were once---'involved'!

 "We talked about that and I made it very clear that it would be strictly business this time, besides he's married now and has kids".

"That's not going to stop him from putting the moves on you, he was married the first time, remember?”

Alex sighs, "Yes, I remember and I made a very foolish mistake by dating him---but that's in the past and that's where it's staying!”

Barry smiles, "Well, you can't blame a guy for trying, he wasn't the only one that was asking you out---I stand guilty as well."

Alex smiles, you were always my best friend, Barry---and we both knew that we couldn't be anything but friends.  I hear you're married now, how is your family?”

    "They're all fine and I'm a very lucky man. How about you, I assume there's no family yet".

Alex remains quiet, slowly she answers.

"I guess it's just not in the cards, maybe things will change once I get to Denver".

Barry nods his head, "In the meantime, I'm hungry! How about an early lunch?”

"Sounds good to me, are all of those Pioneer restaurants still open?”

"Still a few good ones left, are you in the mood for a good T-bone?”

"Barry, I remember the size of those steaks--how about just a nice salad?”

"With blue cheese dressing?”

Alex smiles, "Well----at least there's someone that doesn't make a face when I mention that particular dressing!”

They both laugh and head for the nearest restaurant, the phone rings in Alex's office. Finally the receptionist picks up.

Macha, Young, and Curry--Attorneys at law, how may I direct your call?”

The voice hesitates, "Uhhh, Alex Cahill please."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Macha and Miss Cahill just left, may I take a message?”

"Just tell Ms Cahill, her car has been found!” The line goes dead.

 

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

            

Decatur, Texas:

 

Trivette is finishing his third egg biscuit and downing orange juice, he looks up to see Walker coming back to the table.

"So, was Alex glad to know her car has been found?”

"I wouldn't know, she was out!” Walker answers angrily, throwing his keys down on the table.

Trivette grimaces as he hears the anger in his partner's voice.

"So, what do we do now? Ruby has confessed to 'this Dennis' taking the car and giving it to her, do we arrest her, or what?"

"She accepted stolen property, Trivette! That's what we usually do in such a case, right?”

Trivette looks back at Ruby, a very petite young lady with long black hair, held back by a rubber band and a hair net over it.  He looks back to Walker.

"She's just a kid, Walker---can't we just look the other way for once? I hear she dropped out of high school to take this job to help out at home. It's Dennis that you want, and he's probably heading for Mexico by now!”

Walker looks over at the waitress and back to his partner, "I'm sure that her figure and those eyes batting back at you have nothing to do with any of this, does it?”

Trivette's smile fades, "It has nothing to do with it! Walker, it wouldn't hurt you to be a little compassionate once in awhile and maybe Alex would still be in Dallas!”

"And, what is that suppose to mean?”

"Just how it was intended, I've kept my mouth shut on this issue between you and Alex, but if you want my two cents---I don't blame her for moving on!!”

"Is that so? I didn't ask you for your two cents!” Snaps the bearded ranger.

Trivette grabs the rest of his breakfast, "Do what you want, partner---I'm going outside before we're arrested for disturbing the peace!”

Walker looks around at all the customers staring back at them. He groans and heads for the door.

The rangers stare at each other and finally Walker nods his head.

"You can tell Ruby that we'll let this ride, but if she has any contact with that Dennis---she had better let us know about it. Is that clear?”

"Yeah," Trivette answers, "I'll tell her. So, what now? Do we take the car to Alex?”

"You can take it to her!”

"What? Why me? And how am I supposed to get back to Dallas?”

"Fly back and put it on the expense account for the city!”

Trivette shakes his head, "No---if I'm going to Wichita Falls---you are going with me! Because, I don't want to be anywhere near Alex and that temper of hers--when she sees 'that'!

Both the rangers look to where Trivette is pointing and the lettering that has been painted on the trunk of the convertible:

"Hooters in training".

Walker sighs, " She'll have to get the car re-painted!   Alright, I'll follow you, let's go."

       Trivette starts running to the Ram and Walker yells at him, "Hey you're not driving my truck!”

"Think again, Walker! This is your escapade, not mine!”

Walker smiles as he reaches into his pants for his keys, "You're not going anywhere without th----where are my keys?”

The Ram blares its horn as the black ranger floors it and speeds towards highway 287 N.

        Walker is fuming, he slowly climbs inside the little car and soon he's in hot pursuit of his truck.

 

                *******************************************************************.

 

Wichita Falls Court House:

 

The rangers are looking for the law office of 'Macca, Young, & Carter, the secretary tells them  that 'Barry Macha" is in court and Alex is there too.

"Court is in session, it will be about 15 minutes, but Judge Nelson should be calling for a bathroom break anytime now----he's sort of got a ---'urinary problem among other things", the secretary replies.

"Great, I guess we wait". Mumbles Walker.

           Trivette looks around at the pictures on the wall, and then he looks to his partner.

"Hey, didn't you mention at one time that your parents had a hard time getting someone to marry them, because of your Father's Indian blood, and they got married someplace close to here by a JP?”

Walker nods his head, "Yeah, somewhere near the Red River, near a place called 'Wee chi tall trails', I think they've erected some statues near the place, I would sure like to visit it, if we can find it".

The secretary has heard their conversation, she clears her throat.

"Excuse me, but I think I know the place you're referring to.  It's down on the east side of the Little Wichita river near a place called Berend Bros landing, there are several statues donated by different tribes from Lawton, Oklahoma. The correct name is 'Wee*Chi*Tah. This city was named after them, but the spelling was of course changed."

Trivette smiles and looks back to his friend, "That's nice---some forty years ago your Father was treated so badly and now the native Indians have erected statues in their honor----that's nice."

Walker nods his head and then he sees Alex stepping off the elevator with a dark haired man. The ranger is trying not to show his anger as the man reaches down and kisses Alex's cheek and then walks away. He takes his hat off as she walks towards them.

"Hey Alex, how you doing? We got your car back!”

          Alex is all smiles as she hugs Trivette, she looks back to Walker sheepishly.

          "Hi guys, it's good to see you----both" she adds.

           Walker forces a smile, "Yeah, we found your car---didn't you get my message?”

          Alex can feel the anger in the ranger's voice, she grimaces.

         "I guess not, I've been in court most of the day".

          Walker looks in the direction that he dark haired man took, "Yeah, you've been 'real' busy!”

          Trivette nudges him hard, "Hey, calm down, you said you would be nice".

         "Excuse me, am I interrupting something?”

          Trivette is all smiles, "No---you're not interrupting------hey counselor---you look great--doesn't she Walker? She looks great---huh?”

          Walker nods his head, "Yeah, you look----real nice---but---you always look nice. Trivette---she always looks nice" And then he whispers to himself, "She would look nice---even in a burlap sack".

          Alex looks back to the ranger, "What did you say?”

         Trivette nudges Walker even harder, "Nothing-----he said nothing---he gets this way when he gets hungry---I don't know about you guys---but I am starving!!! Please Alex, if you have any mercy towards your fellow man----direct me to the nearest sushi bar and I will be forever grateful!”

"I'm sorry Jimmy, but there aren't any sushi bars,--- at least not yet".

        The black ranger is walking in circles and grimacing, "If I don't get some real food without grease, I'm going to shrivel up and die from hunger!”

Walker shakes his head and sighs, "He's been that way ever since I bought him supper last night at Mc Donald's!”

         Alex makes a face, "I don't blame him, that's the #1 place for cholesterol!”

        "You see there, Walker---I'm not the only one that hates that place! How about a nice green salad, there has got to be a salad place in a town this size----isn't there?”

         Again the secretary clears her throat, "Uh, excuse me---but there is a nice place for salad---I would love to give you directions---in fact I'm eating there---today!”

         Trivette turns to look at the secretary, a young woman in her early 20's, and fairly attractive. The ranger walks towards her desk and smiles, looking down at the name on her desk.

        "Wellllll--------- Grace, I would like very much to know where this place is, and if I'm not stepping on any toes----like a husband's or boy friends---I would love to treat you to lunch!”

         The two continue talking and Alex looks to the bearded ranger.

         "Thank you for finding my car, where was it?”

         Walker tells her quickly about how the car was found, she stares back at him.

        "I feel there's something you're not telling me, but thank you for finding it. Now I can finally stop paying for my 'rental!”

         The ranger hesitates, Well you better not be thanking me too soon---until you've seen your car!”

Walker nudges her gently towards the elevator and they walk slowly towards the parking lot. She keeps looking back at him.

       "It looks o.k., how is it running?” She starts circling the little car and then she sees the lettering, her mouth drops open.

        "What the hell happened to my car, who did this?”

      "Just calm down Alex, we'll find the guy responsible!”

       The blonde is walking in circles and staring back at the lettering.

       "Of all the despicable things, now I'll have to have the whole car painted".

        Walker is shaking his head, "I'll pay for the paint job, Alex---after all if I hadn't insisted on your leaving it there---this wouldn't have happened!”

          She waves her arms back at him, "No, it's my car---and I couldn't very well be driving it with water in the gas tank, could I?”

         "We'll work something out Alex, maybe just the trunk will have to be painted!”

          She takes a deep sigh, "Thank you."

          They continue to stare at the car and back to each other, she asks softly, "Are you heading back to Dallas anytime soon?”

        "Yeah, as soon as Trivette gets back from feeding his face----guess--we'll be heading back".

        "You don't have to get back so soon, do you? Maybe we could go have something to eat---and talk?”

         Walker draws a deep breath and nods his head, "Sure, where would you like to go, to your friend's restaurant?”

        Alex hesitates, she's not the least bit hungry after having lunch with Barry but she doesn't want the ranger to leave so quickly.

       "Uuuuh, I would like something light---are you in the mood for a hamburger?”

       "As long as it's not from McDonalds. I didn't want Trivette to know, but I don't like their food either!”

       "Walker, you are so bad sometimes" she smiles back at him and his heart starts to race.

       "I have my moments---so, where do we go?”

       "Well, it's not far from here, it's called 'The Glass Kitchen' and they make the best burgers in town, wanna try it?”

      "You'll have to drive, I don't know the way".

       Alex looks back to her car, "Well, I'm not driving that---your keys---Cowboy!!”

      Walker hesitates, first it was Trivette driving his beloved Ram and now it's a woman, he sighs and hands over his keys.

       They make a quick stop at a bakery, called The Circle M and then Alex drives to the little burger place. Walker lets her do the ordering and she orders Frisco burgers--no onions, fries, a diet cola for her and Walker asks for coffee.

        "Walker, this is August, they don't serve coffee in the summertime, how about a Pepsi ?”

         "Is there a place to sit down inside?”

         "Yes, but I'm taking you to the falls so we can enjoy our meal by the cascading water going over the huge rocks, it's been nicknamed "Little Niagara".

         Walker stares back at her, repeating the name.

         "Yes, when it was built, the mayor of New York came down for the ceremony, and it was officially named --Little Niagara!”

They have arrived at the 'Falls' and Walker is trying very hard not to laugh, he looks back to Alex as she is placing their meal out on a huge rock. He stares back at the man made falls, the tallest ledge maybe 600 feet tall.

          "You got to be kidding---this is the city's falls---little Niagara???”

            Alex shakes her head, "Well, it's not New York---or Dallas, but it's nice----and serene!”

          "Yeah, it's serene---alright", he mocks her. "Complete with the muddy waters from the Red River. The water is actually-----brown! I'll bet the mayor was laughing all the way back to New York"

           "Would you stop being so sarcastic and sit down and eat your meal while it's hot?”

            The ranger sits down on the rock and opens his burger, "This sure smells good, it's called a 'what?”

         "A Frisco burger, chili and cheese, pickles and onions---but I told them to lay off the onions. Do you like it?”

           Walker swallows a huge bite, "Yeah, its delicious! Why did you say 'no onions?” He raises his brows up and down, contemplating her answer.

            She smiles back, "I have to be in court later and I don't want to be blowing onion breath at anyone, if that answers your question!”

            He smirks, "Oh yeah, heaven forbid that Barry be subject to such a thing as 'bad breath'!

            Alex continues to take small bites of her burger, "Walker, there is nothing between Barry and me, we are just friends! We go back all the way back to law school in Houston. You don't even recognize his name, do you?”

            Walker dips the fries in ketchup, "No, should I?

            "Barry Macha, the prosecuting attorney in the Danny Lauglin case?  You remember, back in the 80's when those nurses were found murdered, and Lauglin was accused of it?”

            Walker nods his head, "Oh yeah, I remember that case. But, your boyfriend was wrong--Laughlin didn't kill those nurses! But, this Macha was so convinced he did and made that boy's life a pure hell! If I remember right, he committed suicide because of it!”

             Alex is doing a slow burn, "In the first place Barry is not and never has been my boyfriend--I told you we are just friends! And, secondly--the evidence was piled up against Laughlin and at one time, he even confessed to it!”

             "It was because of the pressure that Macha was putting on him. Hell, the boy would have confessed to killing his own Mother to get some peace and quiet!”

              "Walker, I can't believe what you are saying---and you can't honestly say that you haven't been wrong on some of your cases?”

               Walker slams the rest of his burger in the sack, "But, I'm not the one that pleads their cases and the possibility of them going to prison or being executed! Macha was careless Alex, an innocent person took their life because of him!”

                Alex shakes her head and tosses the rest of her meal too. They just stare at each other for the longest.

                "I suppose you're right about the pressure that Laughlin was under, and I'm sorry for his family. But, I'm more sorry for those victims' families. Thank God, the real killer was caught".

            "Oh, I'm sure that boy's family is so relieved, that doesn't make him any less dead".  Again there is silence between them.

"I guess this is the main reason why 'we' will never see 'eye to eye' on the cases that we work on, why we argue so much!”

 "No, we argue because you are so damn independent!”

"What's that suppose to mean?”

Walker begins pacing, "I'm sorry, I said I wasn't going to argue with you! What's the use, you never let me win an argument anyways!”

"If I did let you win an argument, would I be any less--- independent?”

            Walker smiles faintly, "No, but it might feel pretty good for a change.----So, what happened with the real killer?”

"If you remember right, Farion Wardrip was one of the first cases in Texas to convict on DNA!”

"Yeah, DNA was still new at that time, they matched his DNA off of a Styrofoam cup---right?”

Alex starts to reply when her cell phone rings, she mutters, "I'm sure that's my call to return to court".

As Alex answers her cell, Walker strolls over to read the inscription left behind from the New York mayor, he continues to smirk.

"Little Niagara? It should be called a giant mudhole!”

Alex walks over to the ranger, "Well, I don't have to go back to court today, is there anything else you would like to see?”

Walker stares back at the waterfall, "I don't think I could stand the excitement Alex---after all this "Falls" has just left me speechless!! I haven't had this much excitement since you 'duped' me and Trivette into going out and arresting Miggs and we ended up in all that pig swill!  I can't express how we felt---'stinking to high heaven!!”

"Am I ever going to hear the end of that, I said I was sorry?”

Walker grins, "Actually there is a place I would like to see---the place near where my parents got married---near Berend's Landing?”

"Yeah, I know where that place is, it's not far from here---just a couple of miles. But, shouldn't you be worried about getting back to Dallas?”

"I doubt that Trivette is through feeding his face---are you trying to get rid of me?”

"No, on the contrary I was going to ask you to stay for the dance tonight".

"Another dance? Is that all they do here is dance and look at that imitation of a water falls?"
            "Would you stop being so arrogant? I like this falls, now do you want to see your parents' place of matrimony, or not?”

"Yeah, but I'm driving---my truck is going into 'vapor lock' after letting two other people drive it in one day. And, I can't go to any dance---I would have to get another new shirt and I just got one the last time I was here, and you saw what happened to it!”

"Well, if you wouldn't get into so many fights, you wouldn't tear your shirts!”

Walker stops and stares at the blonde attorney, "Well, if I recall right--it was because of you and your other boyfriend that I got into the last fight---trying to protect you!”

"Well I'm sorry I'm such a 'pain in the butt!!”

He continues to stare at her and then he makes his brow dance up and down, "Welllll---it's a nice 'pain in the butt!”

She hits him playfully in the chest and then puts her arm through his, "Come on Cowboy, let's go buy that new shirt---I'm taking you to a place called "The Cow Lot'-----it's the best western wear store in the whole state!”

Walker has seen the place in which his parents exchanged their wedding vows, or in the approximate area.

They stare back at the sculptures of the Comanche Indians, two bucks spying on a young squaw that is taking a bath in the waters of  the Wee*Chi*taw river. A few hundred feet away is the remains of an old wooden bridge that has been close for some 30 years.

"Is this the place?”

"I think so, or close to it. I remember my Father talking about an old bridge that they had to cross--I'm sure that's the one over there".

They continue to observe the scenery and Walker tries to remember how his parents described the area. They start to leave when Walker asks about the building across the street.

"What's that place over there, strange place for a bicycle shop?”

Alex smiles, "It's not just any bicycle shop--that's where all the bike riders get their bikes ready for the big race".

"What big race?”

"The Hotter'n' Hell Hundred! They've been racing here for about ten years---over 10,000 bike riders emerge on this city, all ages from all over the world! In fact, it's a good thing that you and Trivette came this weekend because next weekend you wouldn't have been able to get down Southwest Parkway---not in the south lane---they close everything down. It's a sight to see, all kinds of bikes in different shapes and sizes."

Walker takes one last look around him and then they head for the western store.

 

C.D.'s Bar & Grill 5pm:

 

Everyone stops and stares at the long legged beauty that has just entered the grill. She's at least 6ft, all legs, long dark hair, full pouting lips. She walks slowly around the room and observes all the eyes upon her, she smiles softly and sashays up to the bar.

C.D.'s mouth drops open as he and every man in the bar just stares at the woman's incredible beauty. The old man stammers as he wipes down the counter directly in front of her.

"Can I help you, Miss----I mean what can I get you----to drink, that is?”

The woman smiles back at the old man and observes the elderly woman standing a few feet behind him. She too is staring back at the long legged beauty, but not in the same manner as the male customers. She turns her attention back to C.D.

"I would like a white wine, please".

"Yes ma'am---coming right up---will there be anything else I can get you?”

"No thank you, the wine will be suffice---if I ever get it" she purrs.

Mabel pours the white wine and shoves it into C.D.'s sweaty palm, she hisses back.

"Give the woman her wine you crazy old coot, before she passes out from the heat!”

"Yeah, yeah, I'm doing just that", he wipes his brow and takes a deep sigh.

The woman sips her wine, letting her thick red lips linger on the rim of the glass. She looks back to the three other men at the counter, they continue to stare.

"I'm looking for someone, I think he comes in here from time to time".

C.D. starts adjusting his shirt collar, Mabel glares back at him.

"And----who would that be?? Ms, Miss, Mrs??

"His name is Cordell, do you know him?”

Now C.D. is clearing his throat, "Cordell? Uh----yes---I know him, he's a good friend. And, who might you be, I've never seen you in here before? Or should I say I've never had the pleasure of meeting someone of---your stature---in my establishment."

The woman smiles and extends her well manicured hand, "My name is Delia, is Cordell here?”

"Uh---no ma'am---he's up in the panhandle----on a case."

Delia smiles and reaches into her purse, bringing out a cigarette. The three men rush to her, trying to be the one to light it.

Mabel clears her throat and nudges C.D., pointing to the "No Smoking" sign".

C.D. grimaces, "I'm sorry ma'am---there's no smoking allowed".

Delia inhales long, and then grounds out the butte on a napkin.

"I should have known that Cordell would prefer a place like this, I meant no disrespect. Cordell doesn't like it when I smoke either. I need to get in touch with him, do you have another number that I can reach him, he's not answering his cell phone!”

The three men go back to the other end of the bar.

C.D. chuckles, "I'm not surprised, he hardly ever turns it on unless he's expecting a call. Was he----expecting you to call him?”

"No, but something has come up to change our plans and I need to get in touch with him, do you have another number?”

C.D. begins to reply and Mabel again nudges him.

"No----I don't have any idea how to get in touch with him, I'm sorry!”

Delia smiles back and attempts to pay for her drink, C.D. waves her off.

"No charge pretty lady" he replies grinning from ear to ear.

The woman reaches over the counter and pinches C.D.'s cheek, "Thank you handsome".

 

Again the bar is quiet as they watch the beauty sashay back out the door.       

The three men are firing questions at C.D.

 

"She was looking for Ranger Walker? Wow---she's gorgeous!”

"I think I've died and gone to heaven! Damn  how does Walker always manage to get the good looking babes, and he doesn't even flirt?”

The third man is still staring at the door, "I don't think Ranger Walker even 'knows' how to flirt, but whatever he is doing---he's doing it right".

C.D. shakes his head, "Well, Jimmy did say that Cordell was spending a lot of time down in Waco, and he has some old girlfriends down in that area."

Mabel smirks, "Uh huh---and where is Cordell now?”

"I told you, he and Jimmy went to Decatur to try and find Alex's car! They found it and last I heard they were taking it to her in Wichita Falls".

"Soooo, what does that tell you?”

"What are you flapping your yap about now old woman?”

"Well, just ask yourself this--how many people can you name that Cordell would go to so much trouble about returning a car? And furthermore, if Cordell wanted to hear from that woman, don't you think he would turn his cell phone on?”

The old man scratches his chin, "But he and Alex are not seeing each other anymore, that's why she's up there and Cordell is still here---I mean he's not here now but------"

"Oh hush up you old coot, he's still up there, isn't he? How long does it take to return someone's car?”

"Yeah, he should have been back hours ago".

"I don't think Cordell is any hurry to get back here. The man is on a mission, can't you see the signs?”

"What signs?”

 Mabel reaches out and pinches C.D.'s cheek even harder than Delia, "You'll figure it out!”

 

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

 

The Cowlot:

 

Alex has helped Walker pick out a shirt for the dance,  a soft powder blue.

He shakes his head, "Alex, why are we spending so much time on picking out a shirt, this must be the tenth one that you've suggested. It's just a dance!”

"Oh, would you stop complaining! How about a jacket, they have some nice western cut jackets?”

"A jacket? In this heat---no way!”

The blonde smiles and hold the shirt back up to Walker's chest, "Perhaps you're right, it is a little warm, besides I think this shirt looks great, just the way it is. Don't you like it?”

"The shirt is fine, Alex---it should be for the price they're asking. Forty dollars for one shirt, besides it has snaps, not buttons!”

            "That's because it's a George Strait brand, and this is the one you said that you liked the best!”

"I only said that so that we could hurry up and get out of here! Have you decided on your shirt yet?”

"Yes, I've already got my outfit, it's a skirt and blouse with the little fringes and all. And, it's a turquoise color, it matches the bracelet that you gave me".

Walker smiles, "Really? I'm surprised that you haven't thrown it away!”

"Now, why would I do that? Walker, you gave me that bracelet for my birthday, it belonged to your Aunt Ruth, I would never throw it away or anything else you've given me!”

The ranger answers meekly, "I'm sorry, I'm glad to hear that you still wear it".

"I love that bracelet. I've been trying to find some earrings to match up to it, but the color of the turquoise is so deep and beautiful, I can't do it justice."

The ranger nods, "Yeah, it's one of a kind, Uncle Ray designed it himself. He found the silver too and made the bracelet himself, my Aunt Ruth wore it constantly. Uncle Ray said she wore it in her sleep. It was the last thing that he parted with, but he said that she told him to give it to me."

Alex smiles, a tear comes into her eyes, "And you gave it me? Why not Ellen, you were engaged to marry her?”

"I don't know". He clears this throat, "Guess it never came up, so---are we ready to go now?”

They walk slowly out to the Ram and Walker touches Alex's arm softly.

"Alex, could we just skip this stupid dance and go somewhere and have a nice long discussion---about us?”

"The last time we had 'a discussion', you went back to Dallas. We didn't get anything settled!”

"I know that, but I'm willing to have another 'go' at it-----"
"It? Is that how you are referring to our discussion about 'a relationship'?

"You know what I mean Alex! Could we just talk?”

The blonde hesitates, "Walker, I will make a promise to you, that after this dance we will sit down and talk. But, you have to promise me one thing!”

His brow arches, "What?”

"That you will take the discussion seriously and try to move forward, not backwards,  or remain  stagnant. I'm serious about this Walker, if you're not willing to make some kind of  a commitment to some kind of relationship between the two of us, then I'm not going to waste my time discussing it. Is that clear?”

Walker takes a deep sigh, "Yes, that's what I want. I've thought about what you said and you made perfectly good sense, I just want to try again!---I've really been miserable the last few weeks, I haven't thought about anything else".

Alex smiles softly, looking back at the ranger with those eyes.

"Good, so can we put this aside for now and just try to enjoy ourselves tonight? I think we both need a diversion to think about the whole situation rationally and not go spouting off and saying hurtful things to each other".

Again the ranger sighs, "I suppose so".

Alex pushes out her bottom lip, "Can I ask you another thing?”

"I'm afraid to ask, what?”

"Can I get at least one dance out of you tonight?”

Walker goes to the passenger side and opens the door, shaking his head.

"Don't hold your breath, Alex!”

"One dance is not going to kill you, and did I tell you about the 'Giant Line dance?”

"No, what the heck is that?”

"Well, remember Michael Jackson's famous tribute of 'Hands Across America" where all of America joined hands to raise food for the hungry in Africa?”

Walker has walked to his side of the truck, he keeps looking back at Alex.

"Oh please---a line of dancers across America?”

"No silly, just across the Red River bridge and back, they have thousands of people signed up to make the trek, I signed us up!”

"What? No way Alex!”

Alex begins laughing, "I was just kidding, I know how you hate to dance!”

"I've been seeing fliers all over the city advertising this dance, what's so special about this one?”

"I'm not sure, something about a RED RIVER SHOOTOUT between Texas and Oklahoma or something like that, all I know it's going to be huge!  Another line of dancers will come up from the Oklahoma side, and everyone meets back at the picnic grounds for food and the whole nine yards. All kinds of food, and street bands. Bill & Sandy say that it gets bigger every year, I'm looking forward to it. It could last through the night".

"I don't think so, has anyone took time to pay attention to the weather, there's a storm coming in!”

"How do you know that? Oh wait, I forgot--you can predict the weather with that Cherokee intuition.!”

Walker points to the sky, "All I'm saying is those clouds are moving fast, and have you noticed the temperature has dropped a couple of degrees?”

Alex buckles her seat belt, shaking her head, "No, I hadn't really noticed. Do you want to go back to Bill and Sandy's, take a shower---or anything?”

Walker pulls the Ram out on the old highway, he turns to her.

"You're still staying at their place, I figured you would have your own place by now?”

           She hesitates answering, "No, I'm still at Sandy's, I like staying in the country, it's much quieter. I took the bedroom that you stayed in because it's twice as big, I've even a got a small kitchen with my own entrance. They both wanted me to stay, they won't take any kind of money so I help them out in the restaurant on the weekends!”

"A waitress?”

"Yes, what's wrong with that?”

            "Nothing, I guess" he answers disappointingly,  silently wishing she had her own place.

            As they drive back to the Blancett ranch, Alex is wondering how she's going to break the news that she might be moving to Denver. She watches him as he drives and says to herself.

            "How am I going to tell him? He really sounds serious about wanting to talk about a relationship, and as usual I can't think straight when he's around".

 

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

 

Blancett Ranch:

 

            Sandy has been preparing potato salad and red beans to take to the shin-ding.

            "Hi you guys, did you get all decked out for tonight?”

            Alex starts telling Sandy about her outfit and then looks down at all the food.

            "Can I help, what can I do?”

            "Are you kidding, I'm waiting on you to fix the deviled eggs----I don't know what you add to them, but they are delicious!!”

              Alex laughs, "It's a secret 'addition' from our dear friend---C.D."

             Sandy hands Walker a glass of ice tea, "OHHH! Speaking of your friend, he has called several times wanting to talk to you Walker, something about your not turning your 'dad burn cell phone on!”

              Walker laughs, "He's one of the reason I don't turn it on, the man will talk your ear off---I'll call him to see what's so important."

"Tell him hell 'hello' from me" replies Alex.

              Sandy shouts out, "Ask him to come up for the weekend, we have plenty of room".

Walker takes his tea and walks out on the huge porch that extends all the way around the ranch house. He dials the bar n 'grill, a grumpy voice answers.

"C.D. it's me, what's up? What's with all the noise?”

"It's Friday night Cordell, the place is busting at the seams!! Are you and Jimmy on your way back?”

"I don't even know where Trivette is, last time I saw him was at the courthouse, getting ready to go out to lunch with some young lady he just met!”

C.D. chuckles, "Old Jimmy doesn't let any grass grow under his feet---and apparently---you're not either, huh Cordell?”

"What's that suppose to mean?”

C.D. looks around quickly to see where Mabel is, "Cordell---you got a woman looking for you and I gotta say she almost gave every man in this place--cardiac arrest' including myself!!”

             Walker arches his brow, "What woman, did she tell you her name?”

The old man starts fanning himself and speaks softly, "Oh yeah----she said her name was Delia, and she is gorgeous----you've been holding back Cordell, who is she?”

Walker nods his head, "Delia? Oh yeah---she's been known to stop traffic---she is a beautiful woman!”

"Well, she says she's been trying to call you but you don't have your phone on, said to tell you that your plans had been changed and she needed to talk to you".

The ranger takes a long drink of his tea, looking up at the sky.

"Hm mm, I think I know why, her husband must be back in town."

             "HUSBAND?"

             Walker has to take the phone away from his ear, "C.D. scream a little louder, you almost busted my ear drum!!!”

              Everyone in the bar has heard C.D.'s outburst, including Mabel. She glares back at him as C.D' lowers his voice and whispers.

"Cordell, are you messing around with a married woman?”

             Walker starts to reply as he sees Alex and Sandy coming out the kitchen door, "Can't talk right now C.D.---talk to you later!”

            "Hey, did you reach C.D., what was so important?”

            Walker takes another drink of his ice tea, "Nothing important! You know C.D."

            Alex smiles and reaches out to take a drink of his tea, "Did you ask him and Mabel to come up for the weekend?”

           "No---he can't make it---got some kind of convention in town or something".

           "Sandy and I are taking some of the food over to the picnic grounds and to check on Bill's brisket, wanna come along?”

           Walker declines and says he will take a shower, and heads for Alex's bedroom. He looks around at the room and sighs.

          "This bedroom is bigger than my living room!”

           He heads for the shower and decides to make a call instead. A sultry voice answers.

          "Hi Delia, it's me".

          "Hi baby, why haven't you called me sooner?”

         "Sorry about that, I'm up in the Falls".

         There's a short pause and the voice softens, "The Falls, huh?----Have you told her yet----about us?”

         Walker is taking his shirt off and trying to wrangle the phone at the same time, he takes a deep sigh.

        "Delia, there is 'no us', have you forgotten you're a married woman?”

        "No, I haven't forgotten but I hoped that you had".

         He shakes his head, "Delia---I told you from the start---I don't trespass on another man's property---we talked about that---remember?”

         She laughs, "Yes---but no one else has to know!”

        "What's up, is Marcus back in town?”

        "Yes, I'm on the way to the airport to pick him up. You didn't answer my question---did you tell her yet about the 'other'?

        "No,--but I know before the night is over---she'll figure it out!”

         Again the woman laughs, "I would love to see the look on her face when she does, maybe I will drive up there---what do you say, Cordell?”

       "I say---you're trying my patience---I appreciate you being there for me---but, I think you better concentrate on picking your husband up".

        "Are you going to call me when you get back into town, baby?"

       "I doubt it, because no matter what happens tonight---I just know that Alex and I have to get some things straightened out. Look, she's my top priority, I told you that".

        "I know, you sure have made that clear. I'm just giving you a hard time, Cordell----you know I only want the best for you---I'm just teasing you---I would never cause you any embarrassment---you know that!”

         "Yeah, I know---you've been a good friend---got to run----tell Marcus hello".

 

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

 

          The ride to the picnic grounds has been mostly in silence as Sandy keeps looking to her friend.

        "O.k. Alex, what's going on? You haven't told Walker yet that you're moving your practice to Denver, have you?”

         Alex takes a deep sigh.

        "No, because I haven't definitely made up my mind about that".

       "You were all set to go till Walker came back up here, why the change in thought----or should I ask? You're in love in with him, aren't you?”

        Alex smiles meekly, "I guess I've always had special feelings for Walker ever since the first day we met and we shared---that New Year's kiss".

        Sandy shakes her head, "I'm sure you've kissed hundreds of guys on New Year's Eve, what was so special about that kiss?”

        "Actually, it wasn't much of a kiss---it just caught us both off guard. We sort of just 'drifted away' from each other and I started dating other guys, and I'm sure Walker was seeing other women. I told you how it was between us, Sandy---we were like 'buddies'---good friends, you know."

       "Alex, I've always looked for the negative in most everything, but Bill and I have seen the way the man looks at you--he definitely looks at you as more than 'just a buddy'. So, what has changed?”

       "I guess things started to change after that incident at that convent. I guess I made a fool of myself for making the first step, but I was afraid he wouldn't react on his feelings----so I made the first move and I laid one on him, believe me!!"

     "And????

     "He returned my kiss and believe me, it was nothing like the New Years' kiss. We were both breathing hard. I really thought things would start changing for us and he would start asking me out".

    "Wait a minute!” Sandy slams on the brakes of her Lexus, "You're telling me that you and Walker have never dated?”

    "Not really, not the 'real' kind of date. Mostly we've just spent time with other couples, or else Jimmy and C.D."

     "You're pulling my leg, aren't you?”

     "No sandy, I'm telling you the truth".

     Sandy is still staring at her best friend, her brow arches, "So, you've never---you know----shared the sheets?”

     Alex remains silent, and Sandy starts driving, "I can't believe that, especially after the way that Bill said Walker reacted when he was afraid that Coon would make a move on you at that dance a couple of weeks ago. He told Bill to keep an eye on Coon, and he ---he even---told Bill to keep his hands to himself. Not in so many words but Bill got the message----loud and clear!”

 

      "Walker is always playing the 'guardian angel'---he didn't mean that the way Bill took it".

       "I'm not so sure about that and neither was Bill, he remembered the way that Walker fought those three men when they were trying to hassle you----he took on all three of them!”

         Alex smiles, "Those three guys were just practice for Walker, I've seen him take on twice as many and not even break a sweat!”

      "Oh great----I'll bet Bill would feel more comfortable knowing that!”

      "Sandy, relax, Walker likes Bill, he likes you both---he just gets a little 'too protective at times' but that's just Walker! He doesn't like to see women get hassled and he's always coming to the rescue of some damsel in distress---Mary Lee Sommers for starters!!!”!

       "Who is that?”

      Alex waves her off, "I don't want to get into discussing her, it's a sore subject".

      "O.k. if you say so. But, I still say that Walker is very much interested in you and not as a buddy!!”

      "Well, I guess we'll know after tonight because we are going to have a very serious discussion about whether or not there will ever be anything between us! And, I'm not referring to a 'platonic' one!”

      "Good for you, Alex---that's the way I like to hear you talk---that's the room-mate I knew in college----hey---there's Bill and Coon, let's go see what they're cooking!”

       "I thought Bill was cooking brisket?”

       "I'm not referring to my husband's cooking, I want to know what Coon has in that bar-b-que cooker!”

        Alex's stomach starts churning, "Please tell me it's not raccoons!”

 

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

 

        Walker has finished his shower and he's walking slowly around Alex's bedroom. It's immaculate, as he knew it would be. He returns to the bathroom and looks around, making sure he has left it the way he found it. He goes back to the shower and takes a towel to dry everything down again, he takes a deep sigh and walks back into the bedroom.

         The room is huge, done in Spanish decor as the rest of the house. The fireplace is huge also, taking up half the wall, and off to the left is a small kitchenette.

         He smiles, "I don't remember the place being quite so big---guess I wasn't paying that much attention to it. I was more worried about the condition Alex was in that night, she sure put the margaritas away that night".

         He keeps walking around the room, something just doesn't feel quite right. He goes to the closet and looks around. 

 

Walker and Alex have arrived at the picnic grounds, the whole park is packed.

The ranger sighs, "I never thought there would be this many people, the whole town must be here!”

Alex is all smiles, "Yep, and they're still coming in! Look at all the food that is being brought in, and the music sounds great, doesn't it?”

Walker nods his head, "Yeah, it does. Who was that singing when we first got here?”

    "I don't know, but he sure sounded good, didn't he? Hey, there's Bill & Sandy---let's go join them!”

As Walker and Alex approach, they hear Bill arguing with a woman and making faces at her. The woman is yelling back at him.

"Keep it up William, and you'll end up in one of my novels!”

"You ain't gonna write no novel, you're just a bag of hot air!”

Sandy sees Walker and Alex, and points back to her husband and the woman.

"Don't mind them two, they go at it every time they're together---always bickering!”

"Sounds like another couple we know," answers Walker.

Alex stares back at him, "Which couple are you referring to? C.D. and Mabel or C.D. and Jimmy?”

Walker laughs, "How about all three of them?”

The bickering has continued as Walker and Alex approach them. Sandy tries to get her husband's attention.

"Bill, would you and Nelda please put a sock in it--we have guests!”

Bill is turning his brisket as he waves the prongs at the woman, "She started it!”

The woman is small in frame, but a regular little spitfire, she yells back.

"I can't help it because your husband thinks he knows it all, I tried to tell him why 'The Cowboys' aren't getting the first pick in the draft, but he won't listen!”

Sandy shakes her head in disgust, "Who cares what the Cowboys are doing right now, the season hasn't even started yet?”

All four sets of eyes just stare back at Sandy in total awe, Bill answers slowly.

"I can't believe what I just heard my wife say---'who cares? Honey, you better get with the program, are you sure you're a true Texan?”

"More so than you!” Sandy yells back, "You were born in New Mexico!”

"Well, not to admit to agreeing with your husband for once, but the season has started" replies Nelda.

"Wait a minute, wait a minute!!” Bill pulls Walker over to him pointing back at him. "Here's a man that knows all about 'the boys'--Walker, tell this little 'book worm aka Truman Capote 'wanna be' , that the regular season has not started yet!”

Both Sandy and Alex look to Walker, "Well---Mr. Sportscaster?”

Nelda looks to the ranger, noting the gun and badge, she smirks, "Who is this drugstore cowboy?”

"Arrest her, Walker--that's got to be some kind of 'law breaking'---arrest her, throw the key away!”

"Bill!!! Would you please--shut up---and you too, Nelda!!!”!

Walker takes a deep breath," Well, actually you're both right---sort of. The season has started, but it's being played in Mexico City as a 'pre-season' game----so it doesn't actually count as a real game".

Bill is strutting around Nelda, again making faces at her, "Hear that, miss 'smarty pants---what 'he' said---you don't know anything about football or the Cowboys---just because you won that contest and your picture was plastered all over the Times & Record news does not make you an expert in any shape or form!”

"Up yours Bill, and the horse you rode in on! At least I've met some of the Cowboys, that's more than you can say!”

"Who, who have you met personally?”        

The woman stammers, "Bill Bates---and uh----Tony Hill!”

Bill snickers, "They aren't Cowboys anymore---how about the big pep rally that was held out at the college, how come you weren't even invited to attend---since you won the contest and all?”

"They were looking for me, I heard them talking about me on the radio, I just couldn't get over to the stands quick enough!!”

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before! Why didn't Jerry Jones come looking for you?”

"Maybe ----he was busy" the woman yells back.

Sandy throws her hands up in the air, "Enough already, can't you two talk for just one minute without arguing about the Cowboys?”

Bill nods his head slowly, "Yeah, until baseball season starts---then we'll argue about The Texas Rangers---hey Walker---you a Rangers' fan?”

"Are you kidding? I wear the badge---I would be run out of town if I wasn't!!!”!

"Come on guys, enough sports!” Begs Alex.  "Hey Nelda, I hear that your sister is in Special Olympics, is she here tonight"

"Oh yeah, she's on the dance floor, dancing with Coon".

"Why aren't you dancing, Miss Nelda---because no man will ask you?”

The woman sticks her tongue out, "I don't like this new country music, it's hard to dance to--give me Johnny Cash anytime!”

Walker nudges Alex and whispers, "Could we take a walk, I'm getting a headache listening to all of this?”

As the couple is walking away, Bill shakes his head in disgust, "Congratulations Nelda, you just ran another couple off with all of your 'B.S.'!

Walker stops to get them something to drink and Alex looks back at him teasingly, "Would you like a Tylenol for your headache?”

"No, it was just  ruse to get away from the battling duo, and I thought it was bad at C.D.'s! Trivette should be the one talking about the "Boys since he played on the team!”

Alex's eyes go wide, "Oh please don't mention any of that, we don't want another argument started. So?--- Are you glad you stayed for the dance?”

            Walker takes a deep sigh, "Yeah, I guess--but I would rather be somewhere alone with you---and quieter!”

"Are you upset about something?”

The ranger thinks back to being in Alex's bedroom at the Blancett ranch and seeing her suitcases outside of the closet. The uneasy feeling comes back to him.

"Yeah, there is something I've been wanting to ask you---why----"

"Hi Alex, I've been looking all over for you!”

They turn to see the district attorney, Barry Macha, walking up to them.

"Hi Barry, didn't expect to see you here".

Well normally I wouldn't be, but the wife and kids wanted to come to this 'shindig' and besides I have a message for you".

"Oh excuse me, Barry this is my friend from Dallas, Cordell Walker!”

Walker clears his throat at the mention of 'friend', he extends his hand to shake Macha's.

Macha repeats the name of "Walker' to himself then nods his head as he shakes Walker's hand more firmly.

"Walker, you're a Texas Ranger---yes, I've heard of you and Alex has mentioned your name several times. It's a pleasure to meet you!”

Walker thinks back to his and Alex's discussion about Macha at the Falls, Walker wasn't too impressed with him some ten years ago and now even less.

"Yeah, I've heard of you too", he answers.

Alex can see the uneasiness in the ranger as she turns back to Macha, "You said you had a message for me, from who?”

"Our mutual friend, Eli Pavillian, he wants to know if you are going to be in Denver by Monday? I've tried calling your cell, but you're not answering".

Alex feels Walker exhale, she turns back to him and sees the anger.

She hesitates to answer, "I will call Eli---as soon as ---I know."

Macha looks to Walker and then back to Alex, "Did I say something I shouldn't have?”

"I'm sorry---I just haven't said anything to anyone about all of this---could we talk later Barry?”

The man hurriedly excuses himself and Alex has turned to face Walker, his eyes are burning holes through her, he asks slowly.

"So, when were you going to mention this little 'tidbit'--before or after our supposedly serious talk about starting a relationship?”

"I didn't see any reason to mention it just yet, because I have not decided what I'm going to do!”

"Then why bother even suggesting that we have a talk, if you have had any reservations about moving your practice to another state?”

The blond is trying to remain calm, "Because, this offer was made to me right after you got mad and went back to Dallas, I didn't even know if we would see each other again!”

"Wait a minute, don't lay all of this on me, you were setting the rules, not me! You kept saying that I didn't want to make a commitment to a relationship, it sounded a lot like it was all what you wanted".

"That's not true and you know it, I said I was wanting a 'normal relationship'---not one that always had our friends around---and----and---"

"Wait a minute, what about those times when we did have time to ourselves--it was you that was always saying how independent you were and happy you were that you were free to come and go as you please and not to cater to any man?”

"I didn't mean that the way it sounded, you took it the wrong way!”

"Just how was I supposed to take it, Alex? I did just as you wanted me to do, I gave you 'your' space, we both dated others, but remained friends, I thought that was what you wanted, and then you start in on that I treated you as 'one of the guys'. I'm not a mind reader Alex, what the hell do you want from me?”

Alex remains quiet and then she answers softly, "I don't know---all I know is that when we are together we seem to enjoy each others company---and then we start to argue---like now!”

The ranger takes a deep sigh, "I have a hard time telling you how I feel about you because of the way you keep talking about cases that involve abusive relationships and the comments you make!”

"What comments?”

"How about the Davis' case just a couple of months ago, that he needed to have his balls castrated---and that all men can only 'think' below their belt---does that ring a bell?”

Alex glares back at him, crossing her arms. "Oh really??? And you haven't made similar comments about the idiots you have arrested? You've been reprimanded enough times by Commander Briscoe enough times for it!!!”

"But, I don't say the comments to you--during intimate conversations!”

"We 'don't ever have intimate conversations---because there is always someone lurking around---like C.D.---or Jimmy!!!”

 "Heyyyyy---why is my name being dragged over the coals?”

Both Alex and Walker turn around to see Trivette walking up to them with a beautiful young woman hanging on his arm.

The black ranger stares back at his friends, "Well, I'm waiting!  What did I do now?”

Alex smiles timidly, "Hi sweetheart---who's your friend?”

Trivette is all smiles as he pulls the young lady closer to him, "This is Tish.  Tisha---these are my best friends---what time they aren't arguing and bringing my name into their arguments!”

"We weren't arguing about you, Trivette---where have you been all day?”

"Seeing the town, did you know they got a waterfalls here?”

"Yeah, I know---little Niagara, I think they call it", replies Walker sarcastically.

"Well, Tish is going to take me there later, says it's real romantic. Hey---this is some party, huh? The food is coming out of our ears and Tish says she has a friend that makes some great sushi so we're going to head over to her place. We're not going back to Dallas tonight, are we partner?”

Alex looks to Walker and his reply, "I'll let you know".

Trivette looks to Alex and pulls her away gently.

"Hey counselor, cut the old man some slack---I gotta work with that guy, remember?”

"Jimmy---it's a two way street".

"I know, I know---do me a favor---ask him to dance".

Alex's brow arches, "Dance? Jimmy, you know how he hates to dance".

Trivette looks back to Walker, the ranger is staring daggers through him.

"I know---get him on the dance floor and then tell him this is 'payback' for my cholesterol!”

Alex laughs, "I will ask him to dance, but I'm not mentioning that---now get out of here---and have a nice time with Tish!”

Trivette kisses her cheek and whispers, "I plan to, and oh yeah C.D. said to tell you guys to keep an eye on the weather, they had a tornado watch down around Waco, lots of rain and hail!”

As Trivette and Tish walk away, Alex reaches out and takes Walker's hand, she smiles back at him, "Can I get that dance now?”

He says nothing as he allows himself to be led to the dance floor, a slow song is playing called "Stand By me".

As the song ends someone yells out for a Willie Nelson song and a young man starts singing and bringing the tempo up with clapping and yelling---and 'On The Road Again" fills the park.

Walker and Alex are heading for the sidelines as someone yells out for the young man to sing it again, to which he complies. Alex stares back, her mouth drops open.

"It's Coon!  Walker---that's Coon singing!”

Bill, Sandy, and Nelda have walked over to them and Bill yells out, "I've told him to do something with that voice of his. He can do all of 'old Willie's hits'!!

"He's great, isn't he?” Shouts Sandy.

            Walker nods his head, "He's got a great voice, he sounds just like Willie Nelson!”

            The ladies are jumping around and clapping, Bill slaps Walker on the shoulder.

            "Old Coon can do more than hunt those raccoons, he just needs to meet someone that will listen to him and give him a chance!”

           Walker nods his head, "With all the bands here, someone is going to sit up and take notice".

           The dancing and eating has continued as distant lightening and thunder is being heard.

           "Not to worry", replies Bill, "weatherman says it's going away from us. They'll keep an eye on it, should anything threatening come up".

          Alex looks to Walker, "What do you think?”

         "Got my eye on that one cloud west of us, it's just sitting there---for now".

         Coon has joined the rest of them, and a red headed young woman is walking beside him, holding his hand. The young woman has Down Syndrome.

        "Hi everybody---this here is my dancing partner---her name is Carolyn, but she don't like to be called that, she likes her last name---Whittaker".

         Alex introduces herself and Walker, "Are you Nelda's sister?”

         The young woman giggles and nods her head, trying to pronounce her last name, she stutters, "Whit---Whittaker that's me!”

         Everyone laughs and tells her what a good dancer she is.

       "Yep, she's not the least bit shy" answers Nelda. "If she sees someone that she thinks might dance with her, she'll ask them!”

       "Maybe it wouldn't hurt you to be the one to ask a man to dance with you", smirks Bill, "instead of being a 'wall flower!”

        "Come on you two, let's not get into another bickering match!” Warns Sandy.

        Whittaker covers her mouth and giggles, "You gonna make Nulla mad!”

        Bill makes a face at Nelda, "I don't care if I make her mad, I'll hold her down and you can whip her, okay Whittaker?”

        The young woman continues to giggle out loud, as Alex begins to talk to her about the Olympic medals she wears proudly.  The dancing has started again and Coon and Whittaker hit the dance floor. They all watch as the young woman stands in one place and moves her body to the sound of the music.

        Walker and Alex are leaning up against a wooden fence, he touches her hand gently.

       "I'm sorry about the arguing, we seem to bring out the worst in each other. And, I can't blame you if you decide to take your practice to Denver or any other state".

       "Is that what you want me to do?”

       "No---of course not! I'm just saying that if that's what you want---I'd never want to stand in your way.  I know the road to Denver, I just wouldn't be able to see you as often".

        She smiles back at the ranger, "You would really come and see me--some 800 miles away?”

       Walker hesitates, "Well, it would sure be different than burning up highway 287----but yeah---I would".

      "Talk about long distance romance, that's a long way to drive!”

       He tightens the grip on her hand, "Then---don't go. We can talk about all of this Alex, I'm willing to try---what do you say?”

Alex starts to reply when Coon walks up to them slowly, taking off his baseball cap, "Excuse me, Miss Alex, would you like to dance----if that's okay with you Ranger Walker?”

        "I would love to dance with you, Coon---but not right now---o.k?”

         The young man starts moving backwards, "Yes ma'am--- I'll ask you later--- I almost forgot---this is for you!”

Coon hands Alex a small box with a ribbon attached.

         Alex is flattered, but at the same time -wondering what's inside. Her mind races back to the conversation at the Blancett home and Bill telling her that raccoon hunters give souvenirs of their 'hunt' as gifts. She keeps trying to refuse it.

Walker grins, "Oh, go ahead Alex--it's a gift!”

She glares back at him, her eyes pleading.

She reluctantly takes the gift and Coon walks away.

Alex keeps staring at the box, she shoves it at Walker, but he ruses to take it.

"Nope, I'm not opening it---I'm not going to interfere with a gift from your boyfriend".

She grits her teeth, "He's not my boyfriend---Walker---what if it's one of those 'objects'--- you know!”

Now Walker is stifling a laugh, "Like what, Alex? A testicle---or heaven forbid---'a little weeny' as you referred to it?”

Alex continues to stare at the box, she opens it slowly and stares at the object.

"Well? Which is it?” He asks grinning.

Alex is all smiles, "Neither! It's a broach in the shape of a cute little raccoon, see!”

Walker continues to tease her, "Now, aren't you ashamed thinking such vile thoughts?”

"Oh shut up!” She laughs handing him the broach, "here 'pin it' on me, please!”

Walker takes the pin and moves in closer to Alex, trying to decide where to pin it, he mutters to himself.

"Well, this has got to be every man's fantasy--pinning his girlfriend with another man's gift--and I thought that stupid waterfall was the highlight of my day!”

"What did you just mutter?”

"You heard me, do I have to repeat it?”

She moves in closer to him and whispers, "Only the important part".

"Never mind!” He answers and pulls her into his arms, kissing her hard.

The kiss is long and tender as neither of them is wanting it to end, finally she pulls away from him, her arms still encircling his neck.

"Wow," she gasps, smiling back at him. "I didn't see that coming!”

He smiles, tightening his grip around her waist and leans down to kiss her again. Then he stops and clears his voice, nodding his head to the figure standing nearby with cap in his hand. 

"Uhhhh, I think Coon is waiting for his dance".

She lowers her head and looks up to him, and asks faintly. "Do you mind, I did promise him!”

Walker steps back and motions for her to go, still holding her hand. She watches him curiously and smiles.

"I want another dance out of you cowboy before this night is over, you were very good on that last dance. If I didn't know better, I would swear that you've been practicing. Has someone been giving you dance lessons?”

The ranger shakes his head, "Oh yeah right---like I don't have more important things to do--dance lessons? Get real Alex!”

As Coon walks up to Alex to take her hand, Walker reaches out and taps the man on the shoulder, whispering low, but very stern.

"We need to have a talk--got a minute?”

The young man stutters and the two walk off. Alex is watching as Coon keeps nodding his head up and down and then he's all smiles as he walks back to Alex and they head for the dance floor. Alex keeps looking back at the ranger, he just grins.

Bill walks up to him slowly, "Dad burn it, they're talking about canceling the line dance, the Oklahoma side has already canceled! Bad weather to the East of us!”

Walker looks to the sky, "I'm not surprised! If that lightening gets any closer, you might think about closing the whole park, don't want anyone getting electrocuted by their instruments!”

The rest of the gang join them and Walker starts asking Whittaker about her medals, the woman does not understand the questions, so she starts talking about someone called "Ronnie".

Nelda shakes her head, "She's trying to tell you about her 'imaginary husband', and next she will be telling you about her 7 kids----all girls!”

They all laugh and Walker looks to Nelda and smiles, "I think it's really great that you're taking care of your sister, Alex said your Mom was in a rest home?”

"Yep, Carolyn was supposed to go to the same home, but I couldn't stand the thought of that so I talked it over with my husband and we took her in".

Sandy nods her head, "And, Nelda has opened up a whole new world for Carolyn. Before she took custody Carolyn lived a very sheltered life, very rarely getting out of the home. Their Mother sheltered Carolyn and wouldn't let her go to any kind of school".

"Why? The state has all kinds of schools for the mentally handicapped, why wouldn't she allow her to attend?”

"It wasn't all my Mother's doings, you got to remember that some 50 yrs ago that society looked down on 'her kind', made fun of them and all. My Mom did send her to school, but for only one year! But, she was told by several people that if Carolyn didn't excel at the proper level that the authorities would take her away and put her in a state hospital. My Mom was scared, so that's why Carolyn remained--'almost hidden.' My Mom didn't know any better, she did the best she could!”

Walker nods his head, "I understand, I've heard similar stories before".

"Now Carolyn is in an Adult Care Center, she's conversing like never before, she bowls, in Special Olympics, goes to church-----"

Nelda sighs, "Yep, she even got banned from church because she was scribbling little love notes, that only she could read, to the preacher while he was doing his sermon.!”

"What? Banned from the church?” Asks Walker.

"It wasn't all that bad, they just told her she couldn't send love notes to the preacher---so she had to stop going for awhile".

Bill puts his arm around Whittaker, "She even rode in the 'Hotter'nHell " how many miles did you ride?”

The woman looks to her sister, again not fully understanding the question.

"She did 7 miles, she's got a little wooden placard to prove it".

"She sure did", answers Sandy, "and she got her picture on the front page of the Times too, riding a 3 wheeler that Nelda decorated----in Dallas Cowboy colors---I might add!”

They all laugh, "Yep, a photographer from the newspaper was riding backwards on a motorcycle taking pics of her, made the front page!!!!

Walker laughs as he sees Alex walking back to them, he turns to Whittaker, "I take it, you're a Cowboys fan too?”

Bill frowns, "Nope, her teacher corrupted her, she likes The Steelers!!”

Alex looks to Walker, "Well, this seems like an interesting conversation, what did I miss?”

"Nothing, we were just----talking" the ranger keeps looking to the stage as he sees Coon approaching and taking the microphone.

As Walker takes Alex's hand, he gently nudges her to the dance floor and the announcement goes out---"by special request."

The soft romantic tinkling of piano keys begins to play as couples go into each other's arms. Walker pulls Alex in closer to him for the old familiar way of slow dancing and not holding the lady out at arms' length.

She has no objections as she closes her eyes and nestles her face against his beard. She breathes in his cologne and whispers, "Are you going to tell me the name of the woman that has been giving you dance lessons?”

"No, there's no need to know---just listen to the words of the song, Alex."

The song is: Always On my Mind---another Willie Nelson hit.

           "Maybe I didn't love you

            Quite as often as I could have--

           And, maybe I didn't treat you

           quite as good as I should have--

           If I made you feel oh second best

           girl, I'm sorry I was blind--

           You were always on my mind--

           You were always on my mind.

           Maybe I didn't hold you

           all those lonely, lonely times,

           I guess I never told you

           I'm so happy that you're mine.

           Little things I should have said and done

            I just never took the time-

           But, you were always on my mind--

           always on my mind.

           Tell me that you're sweet love hasn't died,

            give me, give me one more chance

            to keep you satisfied--

            I'll keep you satisfied.

            You're always on my mind--

             you're always on my mind.

 

 As the music is dying down, Alex looks to Walker with tears in her eyes, there are no words to be spoken as they walk off the dance floor with their arms around each other, heading for the parking lot.

Bill and Sandy have watched them walk away, they both smile. In the distance the lightening and thundering is increasing as voices are yelling out!

"Close her down---everybody start closing your booths! We have a storm moving in!!”

             The Blancetts commence getting all their food put away as Sandy's cell phone is ringing, it's Trivette.

             "No, Trivette---they just left--I'm sorry I can't talk right now, we have a storm bearing down on us, I'll let you talk to Bill!”

              Bill takes the phone and laughs, "I'll give Walker your message, but I don't think he or Alex want to be interrupted anytime soon-----if you get my drift?”

Trivette is yelling back, "Forget my message----we're under a tornado watch---the sirens are going off here, haven't they gone off there yet?”

"No, but it's sure getting windy---starting to rain---gotta go!!!”

 

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

 

Blancett ranch:

 

The couple is completely oblivious to the storm brewing outside, as the two are trying to remove their clothes. Alex is down to her bra and panties as she's kissing the ranger and trying to assist getting his shirt off. They're both breathless as the ranger is standing on one foot, kicking his boot off. He switches to the other foot and then reaches down to remove his pants.

Alex is still kissing him hard as his hands go around to her back, un-snapping her bra. He then reaches down with his left hand and lifts her up into his arms, they fall into bed. He's now straddling her and still trying to get the top 'snap' of his shirt undone, it's not budging.

"Walker" she gasps," yank it off!”

"I'm trying, the damn material is not cooperating--it's hung up on something!”

Alex rises up off the bed and takes the snap into her mouth and rips it off.

Walker stares back at her, "Alex, this was a new shirt".

She glares back at him as she takes the snap out of her mouth and throws it across the room, "Walker, are you going to need help with the other snaps?”

"No way!” He answers pulling the shirt up and over his head and then he grins---"you're a wild woman!”

She giggles, pulling him down to her, "Yes I am, and don't forget it!”

They both get under the covers as the remainder of their clothes go flying to the floor. His hands are groping every inch of her body as she too has exploring hands. Suddenly she stops.

"What was that ---what was that noise?” She asks breathless.

"I don't hear anything !” As his hands inch upward on her thighs .

Her hands massage his muscular chest and she softly giggles, "Well, if you didn't hear anything---then there is nothing to hear".

"Just the wind, Alex---relax---we got all night".

His tongue is going from one breast to the other as his hands go to her mound---he then rises up and cocks his head back and forth.

Alex is staring back at him, "What are you stopping for----what's wrong?”

He doesn't say a word as he jumps up from the bed and rushes to the window---he's running back to the bed and shouting.

"Alex, get up----get dressed---"

At the same time, there is loud pounding on Alex's bedroom door---"Walker---Alex----get out of there---we got a twister bearing down on us!”

Both Walker and Alex are hurrying to get some clothes on as now the sirens are going off.

            As they are running out of the bedroom, they see some 30 people running down the long hallway.

            Bill is shouting back at them, "We got to get to the storm cellar---hurry!”

           They get to the head of the stairs as the people before them are trying to get down the stairs. Coon and another man are trying to get Whittaker down the stairs, she keeps looking back for her sister. Nelda is just standing at the top of the stairs, not moving.

            Walker gets Alex down the stairs and then he looks back to Bill as he's trying to talk Nelda into coming down the stairs. Walker heads back up the stairs and he too, is trying to coax her down. The woman is shaking her head.

           "I'm not going down there---I'll take my chances up here!”

          "Nelda, are you crazy? Get your butt down the stairs, we got to close the door!”

           She continues to try and go backwards, Walker is stopping her.

           Sandy comes running up the stairs, "She's got claustrophobia!!!”

         "What the hell is that?” Screams Bill.

          Walker takes a deep sigh, "She's afraid of small places, she's afraid to go down there!”

          Bill shakes his head, making eye contact with Walker, he doubles up his fist and hits Nelda with one quick jab. His wife stares back at him and then to her unconscious friend. She looks to Bill.

"You----you hit her!!!”

           Nelda falls backwards into Walker's arms, he carries her down the stairs and lays her on one of the cots. Carolyn is crying harder as Alex and Sandy try to console her.

           The noise is so loud, it's sounding like a freight train bearing down on them as all of the women are screaming.

           Someone is listening to a portable radio, he yells out.

          "They're saying it's at least a F3 or bigger----hunker down everyone, we're in for a very bumpy ride!!!”

           It's twenty minutes later as the people are exiting the storm cellar. Nelda is finally waking up as she's stumbling around, rubbing her swollen jaw.

         "What happened? Why---does my jaw hurt so much?”

          They all venture outside to see what the damage is, Bill spots his wife's Lexus on top of the barn, his truck and the autos have been left untouched. Bill and Walker run over to the corral, searching for Bill's horses, they spot them limping back to the barn.

         A half hour later and the rest of the guests from the picnic have left to find out what damage has been done to their homes, fortunately no deaths have been reported.

         Alex sees Walker coming back from the barn, "Are the horses alright?”

         He takes her into his arms, "Yeah, they're fine---just scared---got some scratches---but they're fine!”

         Trivette is speeding up the Blancett driveway, his car has barely stopped as he jumps out and runs to his friends.

         "Are you guys alright? Are you hurt?”

         They've all calmed down and Trivette tells them about the damage around the Falls. He takes a deep sigh.

        "They were lucky this time---there were no deaths---not like in '79'! Three twisters came together and almost leveled the north side of the city----some 50+ died that day!”

         "Yeah, we all remember that day" adds Sandy, “they said the twister was over a mile wide!!”

          Bill nods his head, "Yep, I was in Kuwait when it came through, I was worried sick about Sandy---the reports had gotten back to us that half the town was wiped out!”

          Nelda is still rubbing her jaw, "I was on the roof of the 1st National Bank watching it come in---it was so dark! I had just stepped off the elevator when all the electricity went out. People were running down Main Street, I was out there guiding them down to the basement, I went halfway and then I ran back up the stairs. I guess that was the first time I realized I had claustrophobia."

        "And, didn't you say that some lawyer slept through the whole thing?” Asks Sandy.

        "Yep, about 4am I heard steps coming down the staircase----I had my gun out and all of a sudden, Mr. Butler from the 5th floor is yelling,” what’s wrong with the elevators? I told him what happened, he was in shock, slept through the whole twister!!”

        "What about those men that said they were FBI ?”

        "That was the next night after the power was back on. The elevators started going crazy---going up and down and then they stopped on the roof and were coming down. I started hearing voices, the elevator doors opened and two men stepped out with guns drawn, saying they were FBI----scared the crap out of me!! I still don't know how they got from the roof of the other bank to the one I was working in. I was ready to quit after that night---believe me!!!”

         Alex shudders as she snuggles closer to Walker, "If it's all the same to you, I think I'll be heading back to Dallas a lot sooner than I expected---I think Dallas sounds very inviting about now?”

       "Yeah, me too---we'll swing by the court house and pick up your car and then----

        Trivette looks to Bill, "You didn't have a chance to tell Walker, did you?”

       "Tell me what?”

        The ranger hesitates, "Well---Alex's car has been---stolen-----again!”

        Both Walker and Alex speak at the same time, "What? What do you mean----again?”

        Trivette grimaces, "Yeah----stolen again----by the same person that stole it the first time".

       "Dennis?”

      "Yep, and I heard he was heading back towards Decatur".

       Alex's mouth drops, "Why my car? What is the attraction to my little car?”

        "I don't know Alex, when I find the little creep--I'll beat it out of him!”

         The three are heading back to Decatur down highway 199, the debris from the storm has left its calling card. They see many cars that have been tossed around, Walker slams on the brakes of his Ram and they all exit, looking up into a tree. Alex's little Chrysler Sebring is lodged in between the branches of a tall oak.

         "Oh-my- God----that's my car!”

          Walker and Trivette both study the car's predicament and walk back to the Ram.

           "How are they going to get my car down from there?”

          Walker looks to his partner and then back to Alex, "I don't think you're going to want that car anymore---there was some more----messages written on the side---hope you got good car insurance, Alex!”

          "Yeah, like the kind of insurance that covers 'car meets tree in mists of a tornado!” Replies Trivette.

            All the way back to Dallas Alex is asking about what the messages say---Walker smiles--

           "Another time, another story-----

                                                                  The End by Sasquaw    Dec--2010