Seekers 4 - Way The Winds Blow - by SASQUAW

 

It's the closing of a beautiful spring day at the Walker ranch. A slight breeze blows her hair as she walks towards the small river that runs through the Walker property. She stops and takes a deep breath as she walks up to the fenced in area. Walking through the small gate that surrounds it, stepping oh so lightly as not to disturb the quietness and the objects at her feet.

 

            The area is a 50 foot square, divided into 6 foot sections, covered in a gray marble slab.  She touches each tombstone as she slowly approaches the one that is the reason for her visit today. There are seven tombstones, starting with Walkers' parents, one for her Mother, and 3 representing Walkers' Uncle Ray, his wife Ruth, and their twin boys.  Another is that of a small boy that died of AIDS.

 

            Her hand goes to her mouth, the tears fall as she bends down and touches the earth and the temporary marking.

She sobs, "My sweet angel---you left us way too soon.”

            She feels his presence long before she hears his footsteps. He sits down gently beside her, as she lends back against his chest.

"I miss her so much, how do we go on without her?”

"I miss her too, hon---we all do----and we go on for our kids!”

"She wasn't supposed to leave us this soon, that's what you said!"

"Alex, we've been through this---please hon---let's don’t go down that road again."

"But you said that your Father came to you when you were kidnapped and said---and---"    "He came to me in a vision---he wasn't real!”

            Alex continues to cry, then stands up and begins to pace.

            The ranger takes a deep sigh, as he rises and goes to her side.

            "Look at the flowers, Alex---look how they're growing!”

Alex smiles and reaches down to pick the white flower. She shakes her head slowly.

"I still say they aren't like any rose I've ever seen!”

            Walker smiles kissing his wife's cheek, "Yeah, that's what the man at the monument place said when I showed him the picture of it and how I wanted it engraved on-----" his voice breaking---- "on her slab!”

 "Did he say that he could do it?”

            Walker nods his head slowly, putting his arm around his wife.

            "I told him that apparently he's never been to Georgia, because it's their state flower---and when I told him about THE TRAIL of TEARS, he had never heard of it."

            ”I have to admit, I thought it was just a Cherokee tale that you told the kids when they were younger. Is that why you didn't want Cherokee's middle name to be Rose---because of the story and the sadness behind it?”

            Taking her hand, they start walking back to the house.

            "Partly, and then when one of the kids mentioned Dawn for a middle name, I just liked the sound of it better---I don't know why!"

            They are deep in their own thoughts as they walk back to their ranch house and Alex remembers the story.

            "I can understand all too well now how the Cherokee Mothers must have felt, losing their babies, and families being forced off their own land, being forced to march hundreds of miles in all kinds of weather!”

            He stops and caresses her golden hair that is now showing some gray.

            "And the tears that fell on those trails, made the flowers grow. The flower took its own shape, not typical of the 'modern day rose'---but just as beautiful is --The Cherokee Rose!" 

            (And soon the rose will lose its petals and they will fall to the earth---where other seeds will grow---but some will blow away and will be just" 'Petals in the wind---lost----floating upwards.”)

       

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

 

 The loss of their baby daughter at the tender age of 13 months has hit the Walker family hard. They chose not to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary; it was too close to the day of Cherokee's passing.

            The twins and Angela chose not to have parties on their birthday and young Ray's is due in less than 2 weeks. The boy has become even quieter, often sitting in his room and crying.   Being very close to his baby sister has left him moody and argumentative. He's constantly lashing out at his brothers, and even Angela.

            Cordell spends most of his time with Dana, while Cooper hangs with his own crowd and bevy of different girls.

            Angela and J.W. continued to date, but he decided to take his college exams and go back to Baltimore to be with his Dad's side of the family.

            C.D. still lives at the Walker ranch. He often clashes with Walker and Alex on the way they have given the twins too much freedom in certain departments, especially sex!

 

            They've been hauling hay into the barn and again Walker is defending his and his wife's decision to allow Cordell to spend weekends at Dana's apartment.

            "Cordell---it's wrong---the boy is only 16 and you and Alex are giving him permission to have sex?”

            "For the last time C.D., this is none of your business, stay out of it!”

            "But, Cordell-----"

            Walker throws down his pitchfork and stares back at his dear friend.

            "Don't you think that Alex and I have gone over this subject more times that we care to count?  And, in the first place we're not giving Cordell permission to be intimate with his girlfriend---he doesn't need our permission for that!   They are going to find a way to be together, C.D. and nothing we can do or say will prevent it!"

            The old man sighs, sitting down on a bale of hay, fanning himself.

"I guess you're right, Cordell----I don't mean to 'harp' on it all the time, but when I was that age I-----“

"You were doing the same thing C.D.!! Trying to 'bed' all the young girls you could, maybe being a little more secretive about it, than the kids are doing today!  Hell---they brag about it!”

            The old man stares back at him, "Does that make it right?”

Walker goes to the little cooler that he has in the barn, taking out two Pepsi’s, handing his friend one. He sits down beside him.

            "Things have changed C.D., the kids nowadays don't care how many times or how many partners they have---and if they have unwanted pregnancies! At least the twins say they are using protection!”

            "They told you that---do you believe them, Cordell?”

            "I want to believe that they are----at least they talk to us about it.”

            "I do have to say, Cordell that you and Alex have done an amazing job of trying to raise your kids right. They show a lot of respect to you and Alex. You two deserve a medal for that!”

            "We've been lucky C.D., but to earn their respect, we have to give them respect in return. Alex and I have sat all them down, even Ray and we talk about everything! We've made mistakes, and we'll continue to make our share, maybe this is a mistake---I don't know! But, when we saw that things were really getting serious between Cordell and Dana---we knew we wouldn't be able to stop it----so the main thing that we asked of them was to take precautions!”

            "But---giving him permission to spend the weekends with her--------"

            "What would you have suggested that we do, C.D.?   Look, Dana is a wonderful young lady---she's not promiscuous, and neither is my son! They are each other’s first 'love', and maybe in time they'll start dating others---but for now they both say the same thing--they are using protection and they both want to get through school.  Cordell's grades are perfect, and he has helped Dana improve her grades.  Alex and I have made it plain that if for some 'ungodly' reason his grades should slip---then things will change with this 'arrangement'---damn quick!”

"And, they have agreed to this?”

            "Yes C.D.---you've only known my kids for less than 2 years, but you've known Cordell long enough to know how he feels about school, and going to college--'''

            C.D. swallows his last sip and grins, “somewhere in Russia?”

        Walker smirks, "Yeah---somewhere in Russia! I think he's narrowed it down to somewhere in the Ukraine, or Kiev. Every time he mentions it, I think Alex is going to have a breakdown!"

            "He sure is smart, all of your kids are smart, even that little one.”

            Walker nods, "Yeah, Ray's smart, but he needs to exert himself more. Cordell keeps trying to get him to study harder, but it falls on deaf ears.”

            "Cordell is always studying, but Alex has said that neither him nor Cooper has ever made below an "A'!

            "Studying just comes natural to those two, but Coop doesn't hit the books like his brother does. Now, Angela---she has to fight to keep a "B" average, but that's good enough for us-we know she's doing the best she can!”

            The two friends sit for the longest and then Walker embraces the old man.

            "C.D., I know some of this is hard to swallow, Alex and I aren't happy about this---but we have both agreed that we want them to be safe. We don't want them having sex in the back of a car or some other disgusting place! We've seen Dana's apartment that she shares with another classmate, and it's in a nice neighborhood. Close to the medical clinic where Dana works part-time."

            "Yeah, Cordell has said she wants to be a nurse!”

            Walker takes a deep breath and stands up, taking his pitchfork back.

            "They've agreed to follow the rules; they can spend the weekends together. Through the week, there's still a curfew for 10'oclock, ---so far---so good. Cordell continues to do his part of the chores---so far it seems to be working out!”

”What about Cooper? Sometimes he acts like he's not too happy about the 'arrangement' and Angela, what does she say about all of this?”

            "Angela and Dana have been best friends since grammar school. She's o.k. with it now that she's allowed to date. As for Coop, I think he misses the time being with his twin. I've noticed some resentment in Coop-- those two have always been close, but there will come a time when they have to go their separate ways!”

 

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

 

Ray Gordon Walker stares at the chicken coop and the memories return of the chickens 'pecking at him' when it was time to collect the eggs. He breathes deeply entering slowly, repeating to himself.

            "Stupid chickens, you ain't gonna scare me anymore.”

            He feels a presence behind him as he turns slowly, there before him is his worst nightmare.  The ugliest 'Rhode Island Red' he’s ever seen in his almost 7 years, is staring back at him, scratching the floor. The boy stares back at him and clutches the wire basket tighter as he stares back at the rooster.

            "You don't scare me, you come any closer and I'll clobber you!”

            The boy and the rooster continue to stare each other down; the rooster is lowering his head, inching forward. The hens have all scattered to the outside, except for one that has refused to leave her nest.

            Ray tries to 'shoo' her out.

            "Get out of here, you stupid chicken!”

            The hen pecks out at him; the boy continues to get angrier. He raises his voice, but the bird still doesn't budge and the rooster is gaining ground.

            The boy is starting to get nervous, he swallows hard. He knows what those talons can do; he saw the rooster attack a bobcat. There was blood flying all over the yard, as the bobcat was trying to escape. He tries to remember what his Daddy has taught him--'keep calm, don't raise your voice---if all else fails---run like hell!”

            Ray throws the basket at the rooster, bumping into the tier behind him.  This causes the hen to fall down on top of him, bringing the eggs down on top of him also. He screams and takes a flying dive towards the exit as both the rooster and hen are in hot pursuit. He continues to scream as he keeps running until he gets to the corral, where the ranch hands are busting broncs. They see him and begin laughing.

            The boy shouts back at them, his middle finger extended, making the men laugh harder.

            He sits down and stares back at the hen house, "I ain't never going in there again---they can all get their own damn eggs!”

            He continues to watch them break the young horses, and then they will apply the WALKER brand. He walks slowly towards the corral and watches them take the sizzling hot iron out of the fire and press it against the horse's hip, the smell reaching his nostrils. He's watched this routine before, many times. Sometimes the twins would break some of the horses, mostly Cooper.

            Ray has never gotten along with the younger of the twin brothers, because of the teasing. Cooper has always been a 'show off'---and no matter how many times he gets bucked off, he climbs right back in the saddle. Ray 'secretly' wishes that he could be more like Cooper, his brother was not afraid of anything---or anyone!

            One of the ranch hands walk over to the boy.

            "HEY kid! Unless you're wanting to break one of these beasts---get the hell out of here and go back to your Mama----this ain't no place for 'tit suckers!”

            Another voice chimes in, "Hell---the boy is afraid of chickens---horses would petrified him--the little wimp!

            "Hey---you guys fond of your jobs?”

            Ray looks back to the voice, he sees the twins coming towards the corral. They both have their baseball uniforms on.

Cooper pitches his glove backwards to his brother, catching him off guard. He then stomps towards the two men and gets up in their faces.

"Because if you are---I would suggest you get back to them---understood?”

            The one man smirks, "Or what--you'll tell Daddy?”

The second man tries to pull his friend away, "Cool it Nagan---come on---let's get back to work. We're going, boss!”

The two men stomp away.

Cooper then turns on his little brother.

"You haven't gotten those eggs yet?”

 The boy stammers, "No, the rooster attacked me----again!”

 Cooper takes off his Stetson and throws it to the ground.

            "That's because they were supposed to be collected this morning, not in the middle of the afternoon!”

            Cordell puts his hand up to his twin, "Stop it Coop---stop yelling at him!”

            "If Ray would do his chores in the morning---I wouldn't have to yell at him! How many times has Mom told you to gather the eggs before you do anything else? Huh? How many times Ray?”

            The boys says nothing.

            Cooper throws his arms up in the air, grabs his glove from his brother and stomps up to the house, he yells back.

            "I'm changing my clothes and when I get back down here---those eggs better be collected and in the house so they can be washed! Do I make myself clear, little brother?”

            Ray makes a face at his brother's back. "Yeah real clear, big brother!

            Cordell shakes his head, "You brought this on yourself, Ray. You know that you are supposed to gather the eggs in the morning, after Ole' Red is put in the yard so he can't attack you!”

            ”I’m not gonna do this anymore, why don't you or Coop do it?"

            ”Because we have our own chores that we have to do, you know this! Why do you keep 'bawking' because you have a few simple little chores to do?”

            "Because, it's kid stuff, that's why. I want to do what you and Coop do.”

            "You want to do our chores'?

            "No, I get tired of being treated like a baby--I want to do big things---like that!”

            Cordell looks to the corral, and then back to his brother.

            "You want to bust broncos?”

            ”Yes, why can't I?"

            "Well, for one---you barely know how to ride a horse---much less stay on one that is trying to buck you off! And two, Mom would have a cow! She worries enough about Cooper!"

            The boy kicks at the ground, "You could learn me--you know how to do it!”

            "I can't 'learn' you anything little brother, it's 'teach'!”

            "Well, will you?”

            Cordell sees his twin coming back to the corral, he nods towards him.

            "Coop is the one that needs to teach you, or Dad! It's been awhile since I've broke a horse!”

            Ray watches Cooper stomp over to the corral and call for a horse to be brought to him.

            "No, I don't want Cooper learning me----and Dad is always too busy!”

            "Dad's new job takes more of his time now that he's taken the commander's job---have you even asked him to teach you?”

            "I asked him to take me fishing last week and he said 'no'!

            Cordell kneels down in front of his brother, and pushes the boy's hat back on his head.

            "I'll make you a deal, if you will ask Cooper to try and teach you the proper way to break a horse---I will take you fishing this weekend! You can use the new rod and reel that you got for your birthday!”

            The boy stares at him for the longest and then asks, "Just me and you, not her?”

            "You mean Dana? I thought you liked Dana--she sure likes you!"

            "I just want it to be you and me---no girls---O.K.?"

            "Well, you know I think Dana said she was going to be busy this weekend---I just remembered her telling me that!”

            Ray smiles, "O.k. I will ask Coop to help me---but not tonight---he still looks mad!”

            Cordell turns to see his twin staring back at them.

            "Yeah, maybe tomorrow you can ask him, let's go up to the house and see what Angela has cooked for supper.”

            Cordell lays his arm across the back of his little brother's shoulders and the boy is talking a mile a minute about the fish he will catch.

            Cooper has finished his ride and he walks the horse around the corral to cool him down. He then approaches the two ranch hands that yelled at Ray.

            "Nagan, Brooks---don't ever let me catch you yelling at my little brother again, or even thinking about it!"

            Nagan spits his tobacco juice at Cooper's feet.

            "O.K. Jr. boss man won't happen again!”

            Cooper's eyes never leave the man's face--"It better not or you can pick up your pay, is that clear?”

            The man nods and heads back to his friends.

            As Cooper picks out another horse to break, Nagan and Brooks begin talking.

            "One of these days I'm going to kick that little 'snot-nose brat' to Mexico and back!”

            "You better have an Army behind you that kid can whip you with one hand tied behind his back!”

            "I ain't afraid of him, and I hate taking orders from a kid!”

            "Better get used to it, that kid is the boss when his old man isn't here! He's o.k., just don't be riling him! You sure don't want the old man coming down on you, then you're really gonna have a burr under your saddle!”

            "I ain't afraid of some old man---I'll take both of them on!”

            The foreman is an old Mexican man called Jeffe; he has heard the men talking.

            "Get back to work; we have 3 more to break before sundown!”

            The men start walking away and Jeffe mumbles something to them in Spanish.

            "What the hell does that mean, Jeffe---speak English!!!

            The old man grins, "In Spanish or English---it still means the same! As John Wayne says: You're going to be pushing up Daises--if you try to mess with Walker or his family!"

 

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

 

The next few months bring more decisions for the Walker family, as the ranger ponders the thought of retiring.

            Alex is sitting at the edge of their bed as the ranger is pacing back and forth. She's half listening to her husband, as she applies the lotion to her legs. Her thoughts go their baby daughter, and the little ceremony they had at the grave when Cherokee's monument was delivered, the day before.

            Walker stops pacing, "Well, what do you think? Should I retire?”

            He has to repeat the question, as he sees her 'far away' look.

            "Honey, I'm sorry. What did you say?”

            He sits down beside her, touching her wet cheek.

            "I was asking you, should I retire---or stay with that stupid office job.”

            "Honey, I have told you that whatever you decide---it's your decision!”

            The ranger is pacing again and mumbling.

            "Walker, you have not been happy since taking commander Briscoe’s job. But, you know that you have a bad knee---you can't run the bad guys down anymore!”

            "My knee is feeling a lot better since the surgery and the doctor has given me the green light!"

            She stands up, handing her husband the lotion. Dropping her gown and pointing towards her back, she says softly.

            "Whatever you decide to do honey. If you want to go back in the field, I will back you 100%, you know that!”

            He kisses her shoulders as he applies the lotion.

            "I know hon. I never have to doubt that---but if I do go back in the field--it will mean a cut in pay!”

            "Walker, you are miserable as it stands now---the cut in pay is not as important as you being happy in your job! Why you ever accepted the commander's position, I'll never know!”

            "I took it so I would be home more, but this 9 to 5 is----crap! I spend more time going over the new regulations, new law restrictions, etc., etc.!  But, what I hate the most is the constant flying back and forth to Austin, listening to the same jerks talk about the same laws over and over---and nothing ever gets done! Plus, the fact that I'm not getting to be home any more than when I was in the field!

            Alex smiles, then she giggles. She turns around to her husband.

            "All of those things you just mentioned are not the real reason you took that position and you know it!”

            "Then you tell me what the reason was, I would like to know!”

            "You just wanted to sit in a nice office, feet propped up--and most importantly--wearing a suit!”

            Walker's brow arches as he pulls his wife in close to him.

            "Careful counselor. My knee might be weak, but there's nothing wrong with my 3rd leg!”

            She smiles, "Honey, put your papers into the chief and tell him that you want to go back in the field---because you're bound and determined to make me worry about you again!”

            "Again, when did you stop?” He teases.

            "At least when you were the commander, you didn't have to wear a gun and I think that's the main reason that you hate the job."

The ranger takes a deep breath and replies slowly.

            "Wellllll---going to the firing range once a week is definitely not like being in the action again!”

            Alex shakes her head, "I should be used to it by now, you live for the action, the adrenaline----but, that's one of the reasons that I fell in love with you!  Worrying about you comes with the territory. I will worry about you til my dying day---but I want you to be happy."

            He kisses her softly, "I love you Alexandra--YOU and the kids are what makes me happy---so, I promise to try and not make you worry---O.K.?”

            "That will never happen and you know it! But, you could do one thing for me, get a young---or I should say  a 'younger' partner to do all the running down of the bad guys!”

            The ranger stares back at his wife, "I'm not having another partner---young or otherwise!”

            "Walker!"

            "I mean it Alex, it took me too long to accept-----Trivette-----and now he's----working with his brother!”

            Alex puts her hands up, "O.K., I refuse to talk anymore about this subject---you decide what you want to do----I'm going to bed!”

            The ranger sighs, "I miss him, I miss Trivette---there---- I've admitted it!”

            Alex throws the comforter back and crawls in between the sheets.

            "I miss him too, honey---but you knew for a long time after he was re-united with his brother that this could happen. Be happy for him!”

            "I am happy for him---I just miss him!”

            "I'm sure he misses you too---after you two got to know each other--you were like brothers!”

            "Yeah----brothers----and now he's with Simon---his real brother!"

            "Why don't you call him, when was the last time that you talked to him?”

            "The day he left, right after that 'mess' with Mexico and all. He didn't even come to ---he didn't come or call when Cherokee----died!”

            Walker begins to pace again, he looks towards his wife.

            "Think I will take a ride---I won't be long.”

            The ride on Old Ranger brings back a flood of memories for Walker about Trivette. They argued about everything, but when it came to having each other's back in the line of fire,  he always knew Trivette would be there. They were each other’s best man at the others' wedding and godfathers' to each other’s kids. When Trivette's marriage broke up, Trivette started hitting the bottle. The black ranger faced several suspensions, and had to go for months at a time, trying to sober up. He asked the Walkers to care for his son, J.W.---and they were more than willing to take him in.

            When Walker was kidnapped, he never doubted that Trivette would be looking for him, along with Alex and the twins. A few months after that, things started changing and Trivette was always going back and forth to Baltimore to be with Simon. Then Trivette told Walker that he had been studying for the FBI and would be going back East. Walker felt emptiness in his stomach, like no other. But, he hid his feelings of desertion as he said goodbye at the airport to him and his son.

            He sits astride Old Ranger for the longest and just stares out over his property, he can see for miles as the sun is setting in the west. Other memories flood him, the wedding and the birth of each child, their first steps and the first time they called him 'da da.'  Little Cherokee had just begun calling him that, a tear threatens to fall. He looks towards the area that is fenced-off, and a soft blue light will illuminate once the sun goes down.

            Walker knows what his decision is going to be, he's known  it all along. It's in his blood, the Cherokee blood along with the Irish.  He wants to get back to the things that made him the happiest, doing things with his family and getting back to spending more time with Ray.

He has watched Cooper go through the paces of teaching Ray to ride better, putting him on the 'mechanical bull' to learn how to move his body with the movements of the machine.

Mattresses are piled up on the barn floor and the boy is getting very familiar with the floor and its surroundings!

            The first couple of times when Ray was bucked off, the boy fought back the tears, running out of the barn.  Cooper wanted to go after him, but Walker stopped him.

            "He has to come back on his own, Coop---just like how you had to learn. He's a Firewalker, the choice to ride is in his blood.

            It will be weeks before the boy will try again, but new obstacles will stand in his way.

 

 

 

Part 2

      

Galleria, Dallas Mall

 

            Alex is joining Angela and Dana to help pick out their gowns for the senior prom.  She's taking the escalator to the 3rd floor, as three young girls decide to run up the  moving stairway, almost knocking her over.

            Alex replies softly, "Well excuse me, didn't mean to get in your way!”

            The girls get to the top of the stairway and one of the girls stops and yells back at Alex. "What did you say bitch? I know you ain't talking to me!”

            The girls are of Spanish descendant, they laugh, pulling their friend away.

            As they walk away, the one keeps stopping and looking back at Alex, mumbling more curse words.

            Alex sighs, shakes her head and walks on to the Jr. section. She spots her daughter and she comes running to her.

            "Mom, wait until you see the gowns we picked out---you'll die!”

            "I hope not, Angela!”

            "Just an expression Mom, Dana is in the dressing room now!”

            A few minutes later and Dana emerges slowly out of the dressing room, wearing a pale blue gown. The girl's hair has gotten longer, and she has gotten rid of all the curls.

            Dana looks to Alex as she turns around slowly, "What do you think Mrs. Walker, do you like it?”

            "I think it's beautiful, I love that color on you.”

            Angela frowns, "I don't know Dana, I think I like the peach better.”

            "But---you said you liked the blue, Angela!”

            "That was before you tried it on, and I'm not fond of the blue. Admit it Dana, you like the blue because Cordell likes blue---you know Dallas Cowboy Blue? I'm surprised you don't have a silver sash hanging down or something!"

            Alex nudges her daughter, "Sweetheart, it's Dana's choice!”

            "O.k. I'll go try on the peach colored---but Cordell is not going to like it!”

            As Dana heads back to the dressing room, Alex and Angela start looking at the rest of the gowns.

            "Soooo---is J.W. still coming back to go to the prom with you?”

            The girl throws her long auburn hair back as she picks out a pastel yellow and holds it up to herself, avoiding her Mom's question.

            "What do you think Mom---like this color on me?”

            Alex takes a deep breath and immediately Angela knows she has picked the wrong color.

            "Oh Mom, I'm sorry---I forgot.”

            "Sweetheart, if you want that color--it's fine!”

            "But, you and Daddy always said that yellow-- was Cherokee's color!”

            "It's just a color, Angela. We always said that your baby sister looked good in that color because of her dark eyes---but-----so do you!”

            Angela continues looking at the other gowns, she picks out several and heads for the dressing room.

            Dana returns wearing her second choice, Alex smiles back at her.

            "What about this one, Mrs. Walker?”

            "Well, I like it---but you know what? I think your Mother should be in on this decision, why don't you call her and we will send a picture to her!”

            Dana smiles, "Yes, but I want Angela to help me with my hair first---I'll be right back!”

            Alex walks around, looking at all of the gowns, she spots the wedding department.

            "Wow!” She says softly, "this brings back beautiful memories."

            She hears snickering behind her and then she is slightly nudged. She turns quickly to see the same three girls with their taunting voices.

            "What ya' looking at -----bitch? You're too old to be a bride, you need to be checking out the wheelchairs!”

            The other two girls laugh and they all inch forward to Alex.

            "Look----I'm not wanting any trouble---so I would suggest that all of you turn around and walk out of here---now!”

            The leader gets up in Alex's face and breathes heavily into her face. Alex coughs and backs up slowly.

            "I've warned you once, I won't warn you again---leave me alone!---Because if you don't, I will have you arrested!”

            The girls burst out laughing and mocking Alex's threat, their voices have attracted other customers. One of them says she is going for security.

            "Did ya'll hear what this bitch just said---she's gonna have us arrested? What are you, a 

rent a cop?”

            "No, I'm not a cop---but I'm telling you to walk away!”

            The leader smirks, "I just don't like you lady and when I don't like somebody, I smash their face!

            "You hear me, 'puta?”

            The girls swings out with her fist and Alex grabs her hand, pushing her wrist back and forcing the girl to the floor. She screams out to her friends, but they're too stunned to move. Alex stares back at them, they turn and run!

            A security guard has arrived and all the customers are staring back at the pretty blond, they began to applaud.

            "Are you alright ma'am, do you want to press charges?”

            "Charges for what? I ain't done nothing

            The guard smiles, "How about assault charges for starters?”

            The girl begins to stammer, "We were just playing around, didn't mean nothing---I didn't even touch her.”

            The guard begins pushing the girl towards the door, "Well, you can be thankful that you didn't---or it would be assault against a public official!”

            "But she said she ain't no cop!”

            The guard smiles and looks back at Alex and then back to the girl.

           "She's not a cop---she's the head district attorney! And, if you don't know what an attorney is, I'll break it down---she's a lawyer!”

            Angela and Dana come running to Alex. She keeps telling them that she's o.k. and the crowd of women begin applauding again.

            Dana looks to the girl and quickly turns away, keeping her head down and staying behind her friend.

            Angela smiles, "Mom, you're too much like Daddy, always fighting!”

            Alex shakes her head and they go back to pay for the gowns they've picked out.

            "Angela did you or Dana know that girl? Does she go to your school?”

            Dana shakes her head  and walks away to look at accessories.

            "She used to go to our school, but kept getting expelled! Her name is, get this--- she likes to call herself ‘Desnondus’ or something like that!”

            Alex repeats the name to herself, "What kind of a name is that?”

            "I have no idea Mom, all I know is that her and her friends are always causing trouble!”

            Alex takes a deep breath, "Well, after she spends a night in jail, maybe it will give her something else to think about. Are you girls ready to go?”

            They are putting Angela's gown in the back of the SUV, and timidly Dana asks.

            "Mrs. Walker, would it be alright if Angela keeps my gown? I'm on my way to work and I don't want to leave it in my car to get all wrinkled and everything?”

            "Of course we'll take it home Dana, and we promised that Cordell won't accidently' see it before prom night.”

            The girls all laugh and as Dana walks back to her car, Angela hollers out to her, and walks to the passenger side.

            "See you and Cordell at the arena tonight---8'oclock!"

            Alex looks puzzled, "Sweetheart, where's your car?”

            "Dana picked me up at school, why?”

            "Why didn't you just drive to Dana's and leave your car there?”

            "I don't know, I had to finish cleaning out my locker---so Dana said she would drive by the school and pick me up."

            Alex shakes her head, "It just sounds like it would have been closer for you to drive to Dana's!"

            "Mom, why all the questions?”

            Alex pulls out into the Dallas traffic, still shaking her head.

            "Nothing, sweetheart----nothing. And, by the way, why did you not answer my question about J.W. coming home to take you to the prom?”

            Angela takes a deep sigh, "Because I'm not waiting till the last minute to have a date. I doubt very seriously that he will be here----and besides----I already have a date!”

            "You do, who?”

            The girl smiles, "Matt!”

            "Matt? And has your Father and I met this Matt?”

            "Not exactly!”

           "What do you mean by that, not exactly?”

            Angela takes a deep breath, "Matt works at his Fathers' garage, over on Pine---the same place where daddy takes his truck!”

            Alex keeps repeating the name to herself.

            "I don't remember seeing a young man working there, the only one I remember seeing is that guy with all the tattoos and the long hair!”

            "That's the one, that's Matt!”

            Alex begins shaking her head back and forth, "Ohhh nooo, you're not going out with that guy, he must be at least 25!”

            "He's only 23, Mom. Actually that was why Dana picked me up, I was with Matt---celebrating his birthday!”

            "23? That's still too old for you, you just had your 18th birthday---your Father will never allow it!”

            "Mom, I am old enough to date whoever I want! Dad can't stop me, and neither can you!"

            "We will just see about that, young lady!”

            The girl is getting angry, "If Cordell can spend intimate time with Dana, then I can be with whoever I want!”

            Alex hesitates to ask.

            "Are you---and Matt-----?”

            "No Mom---I'm still a virgin!”

            "You make it sound like it's something to be ashamed of!”

            Angela smiles weakly, "Until a few months ago I think Dana and I were the only virgins in our senior class!  Now she's lost her virginity to my brother and you and Dad think that's alright---so why are you making it such a big deal that I want to go with a guy that's only 5 yrs. older than me?”

            Alex is speechless, she knew that this was bound to come up!

            "We will talk about this when we get home and you are the one that will tell your Father!”

 

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

 

Ft. Worth Stockyards

 

            Walker and the twins are giving last minute instructions to Ray on his first attempt to ride a young un-broken horse.

            "O.K. son, remember keep your knees tight against his side, relax."

            "Yeah Ray, remember how you were riding that mechanical bull---you did great!”

            "You can do it little brother, watch the back of the horses' neck. He'll be just as afraid as you are and-------"

            "I'm not afraid, stop saying that!”

            The twins back up, putting their hands in the air and Ray whispers something to his daddy.

            Walker smiles, "We'll talk about it, o.k. son?”

            The chute flies open and the young horse just stands there. The cowhands slap him on the flank, making him move out of the chute. Finally, the young horse walks out slowly and sits down in the middle of the arena. Ray scrambles to get out from under him as Walker runs to him.

            The whole arena is confused, then they begin laughing!

            The twins are fighting back to keep from laughing too, as Alex and the girls are just staring back and forth at each other, not knowing what to say or do.

            "Was that horse supposed to do that, Mrs. Walker?”

            Alex is holding her hands up to her mouth, she knows how humiliating this will be to Ray. She whispers, "No Dana---but sometimes---it happens!”

            Ray comes stomping back to the gate, "Can I ride another one?”

            They look to Walker as he slowly nods his head.

            The next horse is not wanting to stay in the chute as he keeps reaching back to bite anything or anyone that he can! Ray gets himself settled as the horse keeps banging him against the side of the chute, finally the buzzer is blown and the horse goes flying out and young Ray is holding on for life.

            The whole Walker family is watching and feeling every 'buck and jerk' that Ray is feeling. Finally the 7 second buzzer is blown and the 'pacers' come up beside the horse to make him stop and young Ray jumps off.

            The arena is no longer laughing, as they explode with applause and the 'noise makers' are being blown.

            The twins run out to him and lift him up on their shoulders as the boy gives 'high fives' to everyone!

            Young Ray walks away from all of the cheers and goes to lean on the corral, watching the older boys ride the bulls. Walker walks up to him slowly, watching his face.

            "Are you o.k. son, are you hurt?”

            The boy turns around and grimaces, "My sides hurt!”

            Walker gently feels the boys' ribs.

            "Every bone in your body will hurt come morning, but I'll have your Mom rub you down with your great Uncle Ray' miracle salve---it will definitely cure what aches you are going to have.”

            "Daddy, how old was you when you rode your first horse?”

            The ranger smiles and leans against the fence with his baby son, "I was about your age, but I rode my first bull when I was barely 5!”

            "A big bull?”

            "No, he was a young 'un but just as feisty as that young horse you rode. He shook every bone in my body---and my teeth!”

            "What about my question, Daddy?”

            "Don't you think you got some growing to do?”

            The boy ponders his next question and looks back at the bull ring.

            "I want to ride the bulls next, and if I do---can I wear Grandpa John's chaps?”

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

     

Prom Night

 

            Walker is pacing as he keeps looking back to his wife.

            "I don't know about this, 5 years is a big gap. Are you sure that he's o.k.?"

            "Honey, please calm down. I met Matt, I made a special trip to his Father's garage while you were out of town. He's very quiet, but he was polite. And, Angela must have said something to him about all of the tattoos because  he kept pulling his sleeves down."

            "I don't care about the tattoos or the long hair that you said he had, I just care that he better not try anything with our daughter!”

            Cordell walks up behind his parents and replies.

            "Dad, the guy isn't crazy---he knows that Angela knows how to take care of herself, he won't try anything----I'll make double sure of that! Mom, are you sure I got the right color corsage?”

            Alex looks down at the small bouquet of tangerine flowers, and smiles.

            "Dana is going to love the color, believe me!

            The doorbell rings and Ray goes to answer it. He sees a tall and lanky young man in black tie and suit, nervously holding a bouquet of lavender flowers. He tries to speak, then clears his throat.

            "Is Angela home? I mean----I'm here for the dance---I mean----to take her to the dance?

            Ray stares back at the young man.

            "Yeah, she's here----and you better not mess with her! My Daddy and I will kick you across Texas and back-----"

            "RAY'!

            Alex is practically running to the door, pulling her baby son back and motioning for Matt to come in.

           Alex does a double take as she stares back at Matt, he has shaven and his hair is cut. 

            "Come in Matt, the girls will be down in a minute----this is Angela's Father.”

            Walker sizes him up, reaches out to shake his hand.

            "Mom, was that the doorbell, is he here?”

Alex whispers, "Excuse me Matt. Ray, go upstairs and tell your sister and Dana that it's--

            "Sissy---that guy is here---Momma says get down here!”

Alex exhales as she glares back at her son, "Ray, I could have  done that, that wasn't polite!”

            Matt smiles, then he sees Walker staring back at him.

            "I'm sorry, it's just that I have a little brother too and he's always doing things like that!

            "What kind of work do you do, Matt? Did you finish school?”

            "Honey, calm down!”

            Cordell and Cooper introduce themselves, and Matt stares back at them.

            "Twins?”

            Cooper slaps Matt on the back, "Yep---but I'm the cute one! And, don't let my Fathers' dirty looks scare you, he's only thinking what I am saying; Don't ever mess with my sister---or I will turn Ray loose on you---understand?”

"Cooper James---enough!"

            Cooper smiles devishly, "I'm just stating the facts, Mom---now Matt--are you going to say you got another brother just like me---that acts this way?”

            "COOP!” I won't say this again, keep quiet!”

            Cordell smiles and looks up the staircase.

            "They're coming down--- can't we all just call a truce---for now?”

            They all walk to the bottom of the staircase and Cordell has his camcorder going. Then he takes Dana's hand and walks her in front of the fireplace. Matt gets a gentle nudge as he walks over and takes Angela's hand.

            Alex is all smiles as she grabs her husbands' arm.

            "O.k., we take the pictures first with you guys presenting the corsages and then we'll take a group of the 4 of you and then-----'

            "Mom, chill--we know what to do.” Replies Angela.

            Ray and Cooper are watching from the kitchen entrance as Ray bites down on a chicken leg.

            "Better pay attention little brother, this will be you and some pretty little girl in a few years! Exchanging flowers and then watch----it's 'kissy kissy' time-----whoa---did you see Cordell lay a kiss on Dana? I think his tongue went down her throat!”

Alex turns and tries to hush Cooper, Ray just makes a face.

            "I ain't never gonna kiss no girl---they're too silly, yuk

            "Famous last words, little brother, that's what Cordell and I used to say---but then we learned how much fun they can be---"

            Walker has had enough as he walks back to the kitchen grabbing Cooper and walking him to the backdoor.

            "Don't you have a date or something?”

            "Yes sir---going there right now!”

            The pictures have all been taken, the kids have left for the prom, and now the Walker house is quiet again.

            Alex is looking at the pictures that Cordell has taken. She sighs, then the tears fall.

            "Walker---the time is going too fast-----it seems like just yesterday we were bringing Angela home from the hospital,---then her sweet 16 party at the country club------now her senior prom (sobbing) --it won't be long till she will think of getting married!”

            Walker is on his 3rd cup of coffee, "Relax hon---that will be a long time from now!”

            Alex can hardly talk through her tears, "I hope not!”

            "What do you mean you hope not---you just said that the time was going too fast!”

            "But then, we can look forward to some grandkids----lots of grandkids!”

            "Well, I don't mean to scare you, but I think the grandkids will come sooner from Cordell than Angela!”

            "Oh no, has Cordell told you something?”

            "No hon, nothing like that. Angela never says much about having kids, but you know that Cordell and Dana have mentioned it several times!”

            "Yes, but they both have said they want to finish school first----and then----that ridiculous trip they want to take to---that God forsaken country-----clear around the world!! Oh my God---if they have kids over there----we'll never get to see them!”

            Walker takes her into his arms, kissing her forehead.

            "Yes, we will!!! I hear they got these silver machines----and they fly---can you believe that? I think they call them airplanes---or something like that!”

            She hits him playfully in the chest, "You promise that we can fly over there----when they start their family?”

            "Yes, I promise. We may even stop in Paris, would you like that?”

            Her answer is interrupted by the doorbell.

            "Who the heck could that be?”

           Walker looks out the side window, he smiles and walks to the door.

           "Get in here, why the hell are you ringing the doorbell?”

 

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

 

Springfield High

 

            The young man is watching as the girl with the long auburn hair goes into the arms of the tall slender young man. He continues to watch as the young man is hesitating about the proper way of holding the young beauty.

            He scoffs.  "The stupid idiot, must be fresh off the farm!”

            The figure slowly walks toward the couple, keeping his head down.

            He's close enough now that he can hear the girl laugh, he begins to listen as he pretends to drink his 'so called punch."

            "Matt stop being so nervous, don't look down at your feet. Just listen to the music------and float!”

            They both laugh and Matt tries to take her advice, stepping on her toes again.

            "I'm sorry, are you sure you wouldn't rather dance with someone else-----or we could sit down?”

            "No, to both questions!”

            Matt stops and looks at her and replies timidly.

            "You are so beautiful Angela, I still don't know why you asked me to be your date-----you could have any guy in here!”

            Angela smiles back at him, "Well in answer to your first question---I wanted to ask you and secondly---all the other guys in here have dates, and have had their prom dates set up for months!”

            "But, I don't understand---you have just been announced as 'most popular' and 'most beautiful---I would think every guy in the school would want to be your date, any way they could!”

            The girl becomes quiet, then answers, "That's because I thought I did have a date, but he had other plans!”

            "Oh, now I see---you only asked me because there wasn't anyone else to ask---I should have known. How stupid to think anything else----"

            "Matt Starkey---stop it. I asked you to be my date because----I kind of like you----you remind me of that guy on that show '20190' or something, the one that rode a motorcycle, like you do!”

            "I have no idea who you are referring to---I suppose he's like James Dean----that guy?”

            Angela's brow arches, "Who's he?”

            "He's a punk! That's who he is, motorcycle riding, mumbling idiot!”

            Both Angela and Matt turn around to the voice.

            "J.W.?----What are you doing here?”

            "I'm suppose to be here, I'm your date remember?”

            Everyone has stopped dancing and looking towards the voices, including Cordell and Dana.

            "What the heck is he doing here, he told Angela he wasn't coming!”

            They move quickly towards Angela.

            Angela is embarrassed as she tries to quieten J.W., the chaperones have heard the yelling.

            J.W. reaches out for Angela's arm, "Come on Angela, you'll dance with me now---and this 'red neck' can get the hell out of here!”

            She jerks her arm away, "You've been drinking J.W.---and making a fool of yourself.”

            Matt tries to step in front of Angela, J.W. pushes him and the fight is on.

            Cordell and some of the other boys are trying to break the fight up. Cordell picks J.W. up bodily and slams him towards the bandstand.

            "You're drunk, J.W.----stop making a scene!”

            J.W. yells at Matt, "Come outside, I still whip your butt!”

            The shout goes up---"Fight, fight

            One of the teachers tries to quieten the crowd, to no avail.

            "There's not going to be any fighting J.W.---because you're leaving---if I have to throw you out myself! We all came here to enjoy the dance and you're not spoiling it. Now you can leave standing up or I'm throwing you out---your choice!”

            J.W. turns to Cordell "I should have known big brother to Angela's rescue where's Cooper haven't heard from him yet?”

            "Just leave J.W., don't spoil this night", pleads Angela.

            J.W. stumbles backwards, "O.k., I'm leaving----but Angela and I are going to have a talk before I leave!”

            "I am not talking to you while you are in this condition.''

            J.W. grabs Angela's arm again and Matt throws a punch to his jaw, J.W. just stands there, wobbling back and forth.

            "You call that a punch----you're a wuss---I'm going to beat the hell out of you."

            Cordell grabs J.W. and throws him over his shoulder and heads for the exit. When they get outside, Cordell 'back hands' him.

            "You get out of here now, I'm not telling you again. I won't stand by and let you 'manhandle' my sister like that. This is her and Dana's special night---you will not ruin it! What's the matter with you J.W., when did you start drinking like this?”

            "Angela said she was going to wait until I got here---so I could be her date----then she pairs up with that 'yahoo'!”

            "I don't know what is going on here and I could care less. Get out of here J.W.---and for Christ's sake I hope you're not driving!”

            J.W. stammers, "No, I came in a taxi----but I think I will just walk back----to your house--- that's where my Dad is, it's only like 10 miles!”

            Cordell takes a deep sigh and reaches into his pocket and hands J.W. the keys to Dana's car.

            "Go sleep it off, I'm only giving you the key to unlock the doors, I sure as hell don't want you driving in your condition. And you better not try to 'hot wire' it or I'll kick your ass, understand me?  I'm going back inside and try to make the best of what you've tried to ruin!”

            "Come on Cordell, let's go have a few drinks---like old times!”

            "Where did you get the booze, J.W.---you're not old enough to buy it?”

            "Where there's a way---there's a----way-----or whatever!”

            "Just go get in Dana's car and don't mess anything up----especially no puking!”

            "Alright, which one is it?”

            Cordell hits the button on the key chain and lights begin to flash.

            "That one, the little blue Dart.”

            J.W. heads for the blinking car and Cordell heads back inside. Angela and Dana bombard him questions and so do the teachers.

            Everything calms down and the music starts again. Cordell pulls Dana close to him for a nice slow dance.

            Angela goes back to Matt.

            "Damn----what else is going to happen? I get the 3rd degree from your old man, and two of your brothers threaten to beat me  up---and now a jealous boyfriend is too. What other surprises do you have in store for me?”

            "I'm sorry Matt---I didn't know he was back in town---he said he didn't think he would be coming back from Baltimore in time!”

            "Sooooo----he's still your boyfriend?”

            "I've known J.W. since we both were babies, we grew up together---and I guess we've been like boyfriend and girlfriend, but I am not going to be bossed around by him---or any guy!”

            Matt clears his throat, "Do you still want me to stay?”

            "Yes, I really do---if you want to?”

            He smiles and they begin dancing, his arms tighten around her waist.

            "I will never hurt you Angela, because I would be a fool to do so----besides that baby brother of yours scares the hell out of me!”

           Cordell looks over to see that his sister is back to enjoying herself, he looks down at Dana.

            "What do you think of Matt?”

            "I think he's nice, Cordell. Don't you?”

            "I don't know, to me I get the feeling that he's trying to hide something. Which brings me back to 'our little problem'---was my Mom suspicious, did she ask a lot of questions?”

            "No, she was real nice and she seemed to be enjoying the shopping trip with me and Angela.”

            "Shopping? That's because my Mom lives to shop!”

            Dana smiles weakly, "Your Mom got into an altercation with that girl, Desnondus---or whatever her name is, and she went to jail!”

            "Oh crap, did she recognize you?”

            "No, I don't think so---it happened so fast. What are we going to do , Cordell?”

            "Everything is going to be o.k., we'll handle it. I told you Dana, I love you and I will never desert you---not ever! We'll work this out, trust me, O.K.?"

            Dana's eyes look up into Cordell’s', his 6 foot frame towering over her.

            "Yes, I trust you---more than anyone else in the world, but soon your parents are going to find out.”

            "I know. I've got enough money in my savings to cover it---let's not think about anymore tonight. This is your 'special' night, no one or nothing is going to spoil it.”

            "And, in 2 yrs. we'll be here again---when it's your 'special' night'.

            Cordell hesitates, "It might be sooner than that, I'm thinking about doubling my studies so I can graduate a year earlier."

            They both smile and Cordell replies softly.

            "I never thought I could ever feel this way about someone, I thought it was just to be in romantic novels-------"

            "Like the Russian novels that you read to me each night, before we fall asleep ---or you know.”

            "Oh yeah, and tonight will be even more romantic, I have a surprise for you when we get back to your apartment.”

            Her eyes glow, "What kind of surprise?”

            "You'll find out---right now I just want to feel you close to me---feel your heartbeat.”

            The prom has ended and Angela walks over to her brother, putting her arms around his waist.

            "Thanks, little brother. Matt and I are going out to eat with some other couples, you and Dana want to come?”

            "No, Dana and I are going to her apartment, after we drop J.W. off at the house. I'll tell the folks you'll be home----WHEN?”

            "In a couple of hours."

            "Make that one hour, you've still got a curfew remember?”

            "Yes, brother dearest---you're worse than daddy!”

            "Damn straight on that, have a good time---love ya'!”

            Angela tiptoes and reaches up to kiss her brother's cheek---love you too----hey where is Dana?”

            "She's in the bathroom, I think she drank too much punch.”

            "I hope it wasn't 'spiked',----don't tell me that J.W. put something in it!”

           "No, he was plastered before he got here----Uncle Jimmy is going to have his hide, not to mention what Dad is going to do to him when I tell him he was being 'out of line' with you! See you later, Sis.”

 

            Things will continue to change for the Walker family as they face heartache, as the kids continue to go their separate ways and walls of deception will prevail.

 

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

Part 3

 

Walker Ranch

 

            Walker has welcomed his good friend James Trivette back. They are now at the corral, enjoying a rare cigar.

            "Can't tell you how good it is to see you again, Walker, and I'm sorry about that little fight at the prom!"

            "It's o.k. Trivette---seniors---letting off a little steam! We did the same thing when we were young!”

           Trivette takes a deep sigh, "Wish I could say that JW's drinking was just celebrating the ending of high school---but he's been hitting the bottle a lot---and dabbing in drugs!”

           "I'm sorry to hear that, when did it start?”

            The black ranger exhales the cigar smoke, "We should have never left Texas. He started running with some of his cousins as soon as we got to Baltimore and then things just started happening. He was even running with some gang members! Compliments of his cousin, Leroy, Simon's youngest boy!”

            Walker shakes his head, "I can't believe it! What about college, is he still going?”

            "Nope, that too came to a halt---he dropped out in his second semester! Again---thanks to Leroy!”

            "When Cordell told us earlier about what happened at the prom, I had no idea it could be this serious!"

            Trivette turns and faces his friend.

            "Well, seeing Angela with another date---sure didn't help the situation any!”

            "Now wait a minute, Angela told her Mother and me that JW said he wouldn't be back in time to be her escort!”

            "Walker, we took the 'red eye' to get here in time! JW was all excited about coming back and being Angela's date for the prom, he talked about her constantly!”

            "Something is not adding up, Angela was upset that he couldn't make it.''

            "Oh yeah?  Well----she sure didn't waste any time getting another date---did she?”

            Walker's temper is rising, "Look, all Alex and I know is what our daughter told us---at one time she said she wasn't going to the prom!”

            "That's another thing; Walker that guy she showed up with was not exactly a student! He's older than her!”

            "I know that----he's 5 years older! I wasn't too happy with the idea, but he seems o.k.---at least he wasn't trying to manhandle my daughter----like your son was doing!”

            "JW was only trying to talk to her, Cordell jumped to conclusions, that's all! You know how overly protective he is of Angela!”

           Walker glances at his watch and looks back to the long gravel road that leads up to the house.

            "Angela will be home soon, we'll let her explain 'just' what JW was trying to do!”

           The two friends remain silent and then they both start to speak at the same time.

            "I'm sorry Walkman---guess the jet lag is getting to me---I'm sorry!”

           Walker laughs and slaps Trivette on the shoulder.

           "I'm sorry too. If Alex heard us, she would say we're taking up where we left off---arguing---and now we have kids to argue over!”

           The men laugh and then Trivette has a serious look on his face, Walker reads his friend like a book.

"What else is bothering you, partner? You've got frown lines an inch deep over your brow!"

"Another drug is coming into our back yard--and it's more deadly than ever."
            Walker groans, "Now what,-- what's it called?”
            "Goes by several names---Vampire's Revenge, Point of No Return, and the latest name they've come up with are---get this---The Walking Dead!”
            'The Walking Dead?  You mean that  television show?”
            
"Yep, the very same---because that's how it leaves their victims---dead, but alive---so to speak!”
            "Where is it coming from, and I gather that it's deadly---is there an antidote?”
            "The labs are still working on it, Walker this stuff is spreading fast and it takes so many different disguises and you won't believe some of the crap that is in these drugs!”
            "I'm afraid to ask---lay it on me!"
            "It’s coming from South America, down around Quito, close to the Amazon basin. The locals were mixing some local weeds and were mixing with animal blood, and bat dung!”
            "Bat dung? What possible 'high' could they get from  that
            "That's not the worst of it---because they were mixing all this stuff, women were using it--- babies were born 'stillborn', so you can imagine what else was going into this crap. The Mexican cartel heard about its affects, and they were down there, taking all of it and sending it to their labs---and 'presto' a new drug is invented and the kids are eating it up!"
            "So, the FBI got involved, and that's how you found out about it?"
            Trivette begins to pace, "Walker, I'm worried about my boy, I'm scared to death this crap will be the next thing that he tries!”
            "Have you talked to him, told him the dangers?”
            "He's not going to listen, none of the kids will listen!”
            "Just tell me what I can do to help, you need to get him in drug rehab!”
           "Hi Daddy, hi Uncle Jim---welcome home!
            They didn't hear Matt's car drive up, they both turn quickly to greet her.
            Trivette reaches out to embrace her, kissing her on the cheek.
            "Hi sweetheart, damn---you get more beautiful every time I see you!”
            Angela smiles and looks to Walker and then back to Trivette.
            "I guess Cordell told both of you what went down at the prom?”
            Walker nods his head and reaches out to shake Matt's hand, and introduces him to Trivette.
            "Before you two get all bent out of shape---everything is alright. I talked to JW on the phone earlier and he apologized----everything is cool----O.K.?"
            "That's good enough for me, did you have a good time, baby?”
            Angela blushes, "Daddy---you said you wouldn't call me that----in front of----you know," she nods towards Matt.
            Both Walker and Trivette laugh and Matt shifts back and forth uncomfortably.
            "I'm sorry Mr. Walker, we're a little over the curfew hour-- won't happen again---I promise!”
            Taking a strong voice, Walker bellows out.
            "See that it doesn't!”
           "Daddy, we're only 15 minutes late!”
           "
I was just teasing, now go let your Mother know you're home. There might be some chocolate pie left if that baby brother of yours hasn't eaten it all!”
           At the mention of 'baby brother' Matt starts making an excuse to leave.
            "I have to go--got work in the morning---good night Mr. Walker---Mr. Trivette!”
            Angela smiles back at Walker, "I'll see you to your car, Matt!"
            The two rangers watch as they walk back to Matt's car and Matt is hesitant about kissing Angela 'goodnight. He gives her a quick peck as he hears Angela's Father clearing his throat, then quickly enters his car and flies out of the driveway. The rangers break out laughing and Angela gives them a dirty look!
            "Damn, Walker---you've mellowed. I remember when JW wouldn't be on time for a curfew and I thought your 'look' alone was enough to make him piss his pants!”
           Walker sighs, "She's getting older and Alex says I have to stop smothering her---it's sure hard to do at times!”
           "We've both got some gray in our hair and wrinkles in our brow line---we have to let them grow up. I just hope JW can lick this drug problem---and get back into school!”
            Walker puts his arm around his partner's shoulders and they start walking back to the house.
            "Me too partner, I'm here for the both of you. Hey, what do you say we have breakfast at C.D.'s tomorrow and we can discuss that other drug some more?”
            Trivette groans, "Oh great! Big Dog cooking breakfast---and there goes my cholesterol -again!”


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

Dana's Apartment


            Dana stares down at the little box with the pink ribbon around it.
            "Oh my God, is what I think it is?”
            Cordell is grinning from ear to ear. "Well, if you think it's an engagement ring----you're right---it is!”
            Dana can't get the box open fast enough as she starts crying, then she trembles.
            Finally the box is open, and a small diamond glistens.
            "Oh Cordell----it's beautiful", then she cries harder, running into his arms.
            "I was hoping you would like it, I know its small---but that's all I can afford right now. But, someday and soon, I will buy you a bigger diamond!! I promise!”
            Dana pulls away from him, shaking her head.
            "Cordell, I can't wear this---what would your parents say?”
            "Don't know what Dad would say, but Mom would say that I have good taste!”
            "Cordell, we can't spend money on a diamond ring---especially not now! We have something else to worry about first!”
           "I told you, I'll take care of it---and my parents never have to know!”
            "When your parents see this on my finger, your Mother is going to start asking questions. Your Mother is a lawyer, and the two combinations together won't rest until she gets answers!"
            "Alright then, just say it's a 'promise' ring--we've already told them we are getting married as soon as I finish high school and that's less than a year away!”
            Dana shakes her head, "I don't know, Cordell things have been happening around here!”
            What do you mean?”
            "There are a lot of people coming in and out of this building, and I could have sworn that I saw those two girls hanging in the hallway earlier. You know, those two creeps that hang around with Desnondus, or whatever her name is. She's trouble, Cordell--big trouble!"
            Cordell sighs, "I was hoping she would have to stay in jail longer, at least until we figure out the best way to go about solving our problem."
            Dana runs into Cordell's arms, "How much longer do we have to stay here? The weekends aren't so bad because you're with me, but through the week I look for excuses to stay at the clinic longer!”
            "Is your Mom still calling and wanting you to come to Boston?”
            "Yes, almost every day she is calling and then your Grandpa Gordon gets on the other line and says that if I don't agree to come live with them, he's coming to Texas and dragging me back!”
            Cordell laughs, "Well I don't think you have that to worry about, my grandpa hates this Texas heat!
            "Cordell, I'm serious!"
            "I know, I know. In the meantime, try to avoid those girls as much as possible and keep your cell phone charged all the time. You call me as soon as you leave the medical clinic, and the minute you get back here."
            "O.k., I will!” She smiles and looks at the ring "Well, Cordell John Walker--do I hear the words or not?”
            Cordell goes down on one knee, taking her hand.
            "Will you marry me, Dana -----Dana---what is your middle name?”
            "Promise you won't laugh, if I tell you?”
            "It's that bad?”
            "It's, it's----Esmeralda!”
            Cordell starts to grin as he repeats the name, "Oh my God---if we ever have a little girl, promise me, we will never have that name any where’s on the birth certificate!”
            "I promise---I hate the name. Stop stalling and finish what you started!”
            Cordell repeats the question and Dana hesitates.
            "I think I better think about it for a while----YES, YES---I will marry you!”
           He slips the ring on her hand then kisses it.
            "You know marriage vows are very sacred, and when that wedding ring goes on your hand its forever and the same goes for me when I get my ring---it never comes off for any reason!”
            "I know that Cordell!”
            "I know you won't take it lightly. I just keep remembering how my Dad fought to keep his wedding band from being taken by those prison guards. He said they even tried to cut his finger off, but he fought them till they just gave up.   I feel the same way, Dana"
            Dana starts to cry, "Me too----I love you so much Cordell---and I can hardly wait to start a family with you. You'll make a great Father, I've watched you with Ray you're so gentle with him, but firm!”
            "Me too, I can't wait to be a Father---I want lots of kids. But, we made a promise to get through school and I have to decide what profession I want to pursue!”
            "Cordell, you are so smart you can be anything you want to be, a professional photographer, a teacher, a rancher?”
            Cordell sighs and pulls Dana over to the bed.
            "I'm not sure I want to be a rancher, I want us to travel and you can't do that when you're a rancher. Cooper will be one that takes up ranching---it's definitely in his blood!  He knows how to take charge, and he doesn't mind bossing the ranch hands around.!
            Dana strokes his muscular chest, "Have you told your Dad yet that you don't want to be a rancher?”
            "Not yet, but Dad has always told us kids that he wants each of us to make up our own minds about it and whatever we choose,  he'll back us all the way!”
            "You're so lucky to have a Father in your life, and especially one that loves you unconditionally."
            Cordell takes her hand from his chest and kisses it, "I'm sorry you never knew your Father. Did your Mom talk a lot about him?”
            "No, she says it hurts too much but she did say he was a good man. She never thought she would marry again and then some 14 years later-your grand pa swept her off her feet and she is so happy!”
            "Yep, and so is Grandpa Gordon. Mom wishes they would move here, but grandpa hates Texas, especially the heat!! He and Dad argue that the heat is not the real reason, it's the Dallas Cowboys beating up on the Washington Redskins and that grandpa is a democrat and Dad's a republican. The bickering never stops when those two are together!"
            Dana stands up and slowly walks to the bathroom, looking over her shoulder.
            "I'm going to hit the shower, would you care to join me?”
            Cordell is smiling, "Oh yeah---I think we need to try out another position-----or two!”
            "H'mmmmm, well the shower is the best place to practice those moves----so I'm told!”


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

            The weeks pass quickly for the youngest Walker.  He and Walker spend the weekends at the rodeo grounds and Ray has taken to the bull riding as quickly as the bronc riding.
            They are at Waxahachie, Texas for the final Jr division and Ray has taken 2nd place and not happy about it.
            He comes back to the waiting area for the scores to tally up--- 5 seconds behind 1st place.
            He throws his gloves down into the dirt and begins yanking his chaps off, and swearing.
            Walker glares at him as he watches Ray throw  the chaps up against the wall.
            The other young riders are observing  Ray and begin snickering. Ray starts in their direction and Walker pulls him back.
            "First things first, pick up your gear and secure it onto your saddle and then go over and congratulate that young boy for winning the division!”
           "There's no way I will tell him that, I got cheated!”
           Walker sighs, folds his arms and leans back on the railing.
            "Fine---then you’re in for a long walk home---because we're not leaving till you do as you were told!”
            Finally Ray walks over and shakes the boy's hand.
            Ray sneers at the boy, "I'm only doing this because I don't want to walk home!”
            The boy grins, "I saw you ride, Ray Walker----you were good, but I'm better!”
            "Says who?”
            The boy holds up his buckle and prize money, "I think this pretty much says it all!”
            Ray starts to walk away and then he turns to the boy.
            "The circuit is in Ft. Worth next week, you riding?”
            "Does a bear 'poop' in the woods?”  The boy answers sarcastically.
            Ray looks back to Walker, then answers slowly.
            "Does that mean 'yes', or do you have a problem with a simple vocabulary?”
            "I'll be there, you better come prepared to lose again!”
            Ray turns to walk away and then he whispers softly.
            "I reckon a bear does 'poop' in the woods and the crap he releases- smells just like your breath
            The boy sees the 'look' in Ray's eyes.
            "Well, you better not hit me or anything, because I know karate---I have a black belt, you know.
            "Really? Well, when you get tired of it holding up your pants, maybe you can wear it over your mouth!
            Ray stomps back to Walker.
            "Can we go home now'?
            "Not yet,  I'm only going to say this one time--Ray Gordon Walker----if I ever see you throw your gear on the ground like that again, especially the chaps---you will never wear your Grandpa John Firewalker's chaps! I will not have you disrespecting his chaps or his memory---do you understand me?"
            Ray drops his head, "But, you promised that I could wear them as soon as I grow into them?”
            "Not only do you have to grow a few inches---you have to earn the right to wear those chaps! They will be kept in top condition all the time, the oil has to be applied in even strokes, and afterwards you lay them flat---you do not hang them on a nail---and you never ever throw them on the ground or up against a wall!!  When you think you can follow these simple rules then we'll talk, not until!”
           "
Did the twins wear the chaps?”
           "They had the same rules to follow, they earned the right to wear the chaps---will you? Or, do you choose to embarrass the name of your forefathers, and the FIREWALKER name?"
             It's a long walk to the parking lot and getting Ray's riding gear into the back of the Ram. Ray struggles to get his saddle over the side as Walker watches him.
           "How come the saddle is always heavier afterwards?” He groans.
             Walker heads to the driver's side.
            "Could be all of that sweat that has built up on the leather! That too is going to start being treated better---and next time--put the tailgate down---and it won't be as heavy!”
            The Ram heads west to Springtown and young Ray is deep in thought.
            "Daddy?”
            "Yes, son?”
            "I'm sorry for losing my temper, guess I just got fired up from the way that kid was taunting me!”
            "You're forgetting to remember the teachings of Yen---you do not let your temper win you, you win your temper by balancing the scales of Yen & Yang and winning are not always the best way. At least the teachings came forth when you didn't hit that boy for the remarks he made. I was very proud of you at that moment!”
            "Well. I sure wanted to!  Daddy?”
            "Yes, son?"
            "
I think I have a lot of growing before I'm ready to wear the chaps----but I promise when that time comes---I will have earned the right to wear Grandpa's chaps---that's a Firewalker promise!”
            Walker smiles and looks at his son, "You know what I sure am getting hungry want to stop and eat?"
            "Can we have pizza?”
           Walker smirks, "Does a bear 'poop' in the woods?”
            Laughter fills the cab of the old Ram


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

Dana's Apartment Building

            The voices are low as they move among the halls of the old building, quietly checking the doors of each apartment.
           Their voices are becoming angry as each door checked comes up empty for entrance.
           The first voice giggles as she comes to 3C, quietly turning the knob, it refuses to move.
            "Damn it, the old lady that lives here has a new lock!”
            "Forget that one, let's check up on the 4th floor.”
            Each door is checked, the voices are getting angrier.
            "We need some money fast---the next apartment will be the target---no excuses.”
            As they approach the last door, the one girl pulls her friend back quickly.
            "No, we don't want to mess with that girl that lives in 4 E-----no way!”
            "I say we do"
            The first girl turns and walks away, motioning for her friend to do the same.
            "What's the matter with you, its easy pickings---just one girl.”
            "We were told to stay away from her---till the time is right!”
            The girl behind the door waits till the footsteps move away down the hall, she breathes a sigh of relief. She dials the number quickly
            "What's wrong, Dana?”
           "I'm scared, we have to do it tonight---we can't wait any longer.”
            "O.K., I will try and make an excuse to get out, it's a week night and that won't be easy. My Mom is acting a little suspicious."
            "Oh no, I told you I shouldn't have worn the ring to church---your Mom kept staring at it!”
            "I don't think it's the ring. Tonight was the night that we all get our allowances and when Coop and I get separate checks for the ranching work we do. She just looked at me funny and asked if I wanted all of the money to go into my savings!”
            "Why would she ask you that?”
            "I don't know I always put it all in my savings she's acting weird!”
            "Cordell, are you coming tonight or not?”
            "O.k., o.k.---I'll tell them that you've got a water leak in the bathroom or something---I'll be there!”


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

Walker Ranch


            Walker is at the barn, putting  a combination of alcohol and his Uncle Ray's special salve on Old Rangers' leg. Alex brings him out a cup of coffee. 
            She strokes the horse's head and then his neck.
           "How's he doing?”
           "He's doing great, just a little 'peeved' at me because I didn't take him for a ride like I promised!”
            Alex shakes her head, then kisses the horse's nose.
            "Honey, did you notice how nervous your son was acting at dinner tonight?”
            "Well, I guess he's still upset with me for yelling at him the other day!”
            "Why were you yelling at Cordell---what did he do?”
            "I wasn't yelling at Cordell---I was yelling at Ray!”
            Alex sighs, "I was referring to Cordell!”
            Walker stands up and stares at his wife.
            "Hon---we have more than one son, it would be nice if you would tell me in advance which one you're referring to!”
            "Why were you yelling at Ray?”
            "Because of his attitude at the rodeo on Saturday!  Now are we still talking about Ray or Cordell?”
            "I want to talk about Cordell, and I don't believe for one second that Dana has a water leak that our son had to rush right over there to fix it!”
            Walker takes a deep sigh, and motions for Old Ranger to go to the feed box and get his carrots. He turns to his wife and motions for her to sit down on a bale of hay, he sits beside her.
           "Honey---love of my life---we knew that these extra 'little trysts' would be coming and the weekends just wouldn't be enough---we knew that---didn't we?”
           "Yes, but something is going on I can feel it!”
           Walker teases her, "Oh, you can just feel it in your bones---you've been around C.D. way too long---which I wanted to tell you about what happened at the VFW the other night.”
           "Walker! Would you please listen---there is something going on between those two that they are not telling us!”
            "You mean---besides---the obvious
           "Honey, I'm trying to tell you that Cordell has been taking money out of his savings!”
           "It's his money, Alex, and how do you know that?”
           Alex hesitates, "I'm ashamed to say it---but I looked at his check book---and in the last month he has drawn out---almost $2 thousand dollars!”
           "Cordell had that much in his savings?  He's got more money than I have in my savings!"
            "You don't have a savings, sweetheart at least you better not have one---WE have a joint savings!”
            "Right---that's what meant---I get 'mad money' when I want to splurge on----"
            "Honey, please---we'll argue about that later what can Cordell be spending  that kind of money on?”
            "Alex, on Dana?  Dates, remember? Movies, dinners---dates!”
             Alex stands up and begins to pace, "I know what some of the money was spent on. You saw that ring she was wearing, didn't you?”
            "What ring?”
            "Oh good grief--if it had been a snake you would have noticed it,---especially how many rattlers it had!”
            "Alex, I didn't notice any ring, but if she is wearing a ring---it shouldn't come as any surprise! That's all they ever talk about, is getting married! Is that what it is an engagement ring?”

            "It better darn well be-- I would hate to learn that he spent that much on just a friendship ring, did you see that diamond?  Oh I forgot, you don't notice those kinds of things! Look how long I had to go before you ever sent me flowers?”
            "Now, what are we talking about? We do not want to talk about flowers---because we always get into an argument about that, don't we?”
            "All I know is, that Cordell has always been tight with his money. He seldom ever keeps more than $20.00 out of his allowance and now-----"
            "And now he has a young lady in his life and 'young ladies' cost money!”
            Walker realizes he should have used a different phrasing as his wife is glaring back at him. He walks over and puts his arms around her, walking back to the bales of hay.
            "Honey, what is it that is bothering you? If you're so concerned about what he's spending his own money on, then ask him!”
            "I can't do that, then he would know that I peeked at his checkbook!”
            "And, you were wrong for doing that, hon.  We said we would always let each of the kids have their own privacy!”
            "I know, I know. He will never forgive me for doing that.”
            Walker lays his wife's head on his shoulder, kissing her.
           "Yes, he will. You know Cordell never stays mad at you. Let's go to the house and talk about this some more besides, I want to get that last piece of turkey meatloaf before Ray or Coop finds it!"
            "You hid the meatloaf?”
            "Of course with 3 growing boys in the house, I would starve to death if I didn't!”
           She puts her arm around his waist, then pats his tummy with the other.
           "Sweetheart, your daughter is never going to let you starve---but, you are getting a few inches around the mid-section---and you need to stay away from these late night snacks!”
            "Late night?  Alex it's only 9 pm and supper was 3 hours ago!”
           "How about some yogurt to snack on?  You like the 'Pina Colada' brand.”
            "No, I don't I just pick out the pineapples and coconut, that other stuff I throw away!”
            "You are so hopeless, John Cordell Walker----but it's one of the reasons I fell in love with you!”
            He pulls her tighter into him, then swats her derriere.
            "OUCH!  Honey that hurt!”
            "Meant for it to now I can kiss it and make it better!”


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


Part 4

 

 

            It is now several weeks after the prom and Angela is still seeing Matt.

 

Gus' Garage:

 

            The old man is watching as his son continues to work on his Harley Davidson dirt bike, he's been at it non-stop for 5 days now. The Texas sun is bearing down, and the temp is over 100 degrees. The old man pauses by the rectangle box that holds the beverages of Coca Cola---he reaches down into the ice cold water and brings out the familiar bottles. He refused to keep the canned cola, telling his customers that the beverage was always colder in the bottles, and not to mention the better taste! He grabs two bottles and walks slowly up to his son.

            "Matthew, stop for a spell and share a coke with me, and we will teach the world to sing!”

            Matt doesn't even look up as he answers, "Can't old man---gotta a race coming up on the 4th, first place is $5,000 dollars and we can sure use the dough to get those back taxes paid off!”

            Gus nudges Matt with one of the bottles, "Those taxes aren't going anywhere in the next 5 minutes---come on son, sit down and cool off!”

            Matt sighs and takes the bottle of coke, tips it up and drinks the 8oz in one long swallow. He looks back to his Dad and then to the bottle.

            "You could at least put the liter bottles in that machine, this hardly quenched my thirst!”

            Gus wipes his forehead with  an old rag, "They don't taste  near as good as the little bottles---you know that place over in Jacksboro is about the only place I can get these collector bottles anymore. I go to that place that sells them in bulk, I got ten cases the last time!”

           Matt goes back to his bike, "Yeah, and they charge an arm and a leg! It's almost an hour's drive to that place---you're going to have to hike the price up, just to come out even, Pop!"

            "No, I can't do that, it wouldn't be fair---I still charge .50 a bottle and always will! My regular customers appreciate honesty---in my work, AND in my cokes!”

           "Whatever you say Pop. If I win that first prize, you can buy out the whole stock---what do you say to that?”

            The old man smiles when he sees the little lavender convertible pulling into the station. The bell rings as it passes over the underground cable that too is an 'ancient' touch to the old garage.

            Gus smiles as he sees his son raise his head up,  a faint smile appears.

            "I say, it looks like you have company again. Maybe that pretty little lady can make you stop long enough to rest, 'cause I sure can't!"

            Gus waves to Angela and she waves back,  he turns and heads back to the coke machine! He soon returns with two more bottles as he hands one to the long haired beauty.
            "Thank you Mr. Starkey--I was sure needing this, the ac in my car has stopped working---again!"
            "You are so welcome, Angela---let me take a look at it--might be just out of Freon!”
           Matt stands up, rubbing his hands on his pants. He smiles meekly.
           "Hi Angela, what are you doing here?”
           "I haven't seen or heard from you in almost 2 weeks, why haven't you called?”
            He points towards his bike.
            "Took a ride down up to Wichita Falls to see some friends---it broke down on my way back---I'm completely re-hauling it."
           Angela stares back at him, and answers softly, "And, you couldn't even call----just to talk?”
            "I'm sorry, I meant to but the time got away from me, I've been awful busy!”
            Angela smiles and kicks the ground, "I see. Guess I need to see the signs a little clearer!”
           "What do you mean, signs?”
            "I thought we were friends, but most friends keep in touch. So, I guess my coming out here was a mistake on both reasons!”
            "Angela, I meant to call---I really did----but I just don't think that your family likes me---especially your old man!”
            "My 'family' has never said anything against you, especially my Dad! So, don't go using my family as an excuse for you not picking up the phone and saying hello you have a cell-phone, don't you?”
           Matt becomes angry, "I hate those damn things, I've got better things to do than have one of them things growing out of my ear!!! Some people do have to work for a living, Angela!!!"
            "Yeah---like me! I have a job too, Matt Starkey!”
           Their yelling has Gus looking in their direction, he walks towards them.
           "I was right, Angela--you were low on Freon---I put some in!”
            "Thank you, Mr. Starkey, what do I owe you?”
           The old man waves her off, "I'll just add it to your Daddy's bill!"
           Matt takes a deep sigh. "You mentioned two reasons for coming out here, what was the other one?”
           Angela throws her long auburn hair back over her shoulder.
            "Not that it matters, but I came out here to invite you to our 4th of July picnic!"
            "Oh, I'm sorry, but I can't make it. I'm racing my bike on the 4th.”
            Angela nods her head slowly and begins to walk away.
            "I'm sorry I bothered you, good luck on your race!”
            Gus looks to his son and then yells to Angela.
            "What time does your picnic start, Matt's race is around noon. Isn't it son?”
            Matt stammers, "Yeah, around noon or so.”
            Angela walks back slowly, "We start eating around 6pm and the fireworks don't start till after dark!”
            "That's plenty of time to attend the picnic, Matthew go you need to stop spending so much time here working all the time!"
            Matt begins to argue with his Pop, and again Angela walks away. She yells back over her shoulder.
            "If you should decide to come, come hungry because there's always gobs of food and games to play. You're welcome to come too, Mr. Starkey!”
            They watch as the little convertible pulls back on the highway and Matt glares at the old man.
            "I'm not going to that picnic! I'm telling you her family does not like me, especially her old man! He looks at me like he could snap me into if he thinks I'm looking at his daughter the wrong way. Plus she's got twin brothers that think the same way----and that baby brother of hers is like----is like---CHUCKIE!”
            "Chuckie? Who is Chuckie?”
            Matt shakes his head, "Never mind Pop---I'm still not going!”
            "Yes you are Matthew, you're going and you're going to enjoy yourself! You're a good man--and you know that 'look' that Walker has for his daughter, because you have it too---- when you're around Macy!”
           Matt's eyes tear up, "You mean the daughter that I hardly ever get to see?”


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


Walker Ranch
         

The twins have been mending  the fence line along the north end of the ranch. They have stopped to rest as Walker has to make a trip back to the barn for more supplies.
            Cordell goes to the cab of the old pickup truck that is used for the farm work. He grabs his guitar along with the sack of sandwiches they packed. After tossing a couple to his twin, he jumps up on the tail gate and starts strumming his old 'Gibson' in between bites of food.
           Cooper sets a jug of ice tea down between them, and he listens as Cordell plays a soft medley.
           "That's kind of pretty---does it have a title?”
            "Of course it has a title--it's called "The Wonder of You", - it's an old Elvis Presley song.”
            Cooper shakes his head, "Man that's some ancient music---that guy would be over 100 if he were alive today!”
            "Yep, but his music still lives. People talk about him like he's just gone on vacation or something--they refuse to believe that he's dead!”
            Cooper laughs, "Yeah, he's still being sighted at places like I-Hop, Motel 6 -whatever that is-- and some people say they have had him in their homes for meals--can you believe that?”
            "Well, don't forget Dad says he's a distant cousin, and Dad loves that song 'Flaming Star', the one about the Indian boy that saw his death when he saw what we refer to as a 'falling star'.   And yep, if Dad ever saw Elvis, he would invite him home for a home cooked meal!”
            The twins laugh, and Cooper hesitates to ask his next question.
            "When are you coming back to the band, we miss you?”
            "I don't have time bro, by the time I do my chores here at the ranch, spend time with Dana, and I'm taking those extra classes at the university so I can graduate in the fall!”
            "You don't have to take any extra classes, you could take all of your Sat's' right now, and pass with flying colors!"
            "Doesn't hurt to have extra credits to get into college. Besides, I'm not into the kind of music that you guys are playing now, it's all a bunch of hollering and cussing!”
            "Didn't bother you before---before Dana!”
           "
Don't start in on my girlfriend, Coop. I'm warning you!”
           Cooper jumps down from the tail gate, throwing the remainder of his sandwich to the ground.
           "Damn it, Cordell-----why are you so wrapped up in just one girl? Why not spread yourself around, you can still screw Dana and other girls too?”
            His twin glares back at him, "Like you're doing, little brother?  You change girlfriends every day, as soon as you sleep with them, you move to another!”
            "So? What's your point? I like sex, what's wrong with that?”
            "Not only is it dangerous, but it's a sin! And, I know I'm guilty of that too, but at least I'm monogamous! What about getting some girl pregnant?”
           "I'm using protection, dumb ass! Dad is on me all of the time about that
            "What about oral sex, you can still get a STD that way?”
            "I don't 'do' the ladies, they 'do' me----anymore bright ideas?”
            Cordell shakes his head, "Just be careful, Coop. I've been hearing some things about some of the girls you're with. I heard that one of them was married?”
            "Yeah, so what?  I've been with Vickie Roberts a couple of times!”
            "Vickie? You mean that waitress down at Grandpa's place?”
            "Yep, she kept giving me the eye---so I---'did' her! And, then grandpa found out about it and man was he mad!  I thought he would never stop yelling at me, told me to never come into the bar 'n' grill ever again! He had a long yelling match at her too, threatened to turn her in for having sex with a minor unless she found other employment. She was gone the next day!
            Cordell smirks, "does that make you feel like a man, causing someone to lose their job because you can't control your hormones?'
            "Hey, she was just as much to blame! Her old man wasn't keeping her satisfied! Was I supposed to pass it up?”
            Cordell jumps down and gets up in his brothers' face.
            "How about using some common sense, and thinking with something besides what's in your pants? Someday Coop, that old saying 'you reap what you sow'  is going to rear up and slap you up beside the head, IF some jealous boyfriend or husband doesn't kill you first!”
            Coop pushes his brother backwards.
           "Back off brother or so help me,---- or so help me I'll knock your lights out!”
            "You and what Army?”
            
Cooper backs off, but keeps staring daggers at his older twin.
            "Don't preach to me, I get enough of that in church. Everyone is a sinner, even Brother Bob says that, and so are you bro---you're a sinner too! Doesn't matter if it's with one or twenty--you have no room to quote scriptures to me---no way in hell!"
            Cordell takes deep sigh, "Yeah, you're right. That's why Dana and I want to get married as soon as I graduate!”
            "Married? Are you crazy, you're barely passed your 16th birthday! Why are you in such a hurry to tie yourself down?”
            "Because I love her, I want to marry her and have a family!
            Cooper is pacing back and forth and swearing.
            "You know bro', I curse the day you ever met Dana---you've changed so much! We never hang out anymore, because you're so wrapped up in her!”
            Cordell yells back, "Grow up, Cooper! You have your life and I have mine---we're twins, but not Siamese twins----got that?”
            Cooper stares back at his brother, "That really hurts, what is so wrong in wanting to be with your brother? We've always hung out together, we've done everything together. I suppose you didn't really mean what you said down in Old Mexico when we were looking for Dad about coming into this world together and going out the same way?”
            "It's hardly the same meaning; you're taking this out of context!”
            "No, the meaning is still there---you meant that I'm more of a burden---an Albatross---a burden around your neck!”
            "Where is all of this coming from? I've never felt that way about you---you're my brother! I love you!”
            "Stop with all of mushy stuff, I don't want to hear that crap!”
            
Cordell grins, "Come here little brother and give me a 'bear hug' like we used to do with our sister!”
            "Back off, bro---you're sounding like a fag!”
            Cordell begins making 'kissy' sounds and walking closer to Cooper, "Come on bro', let me give you a big fat kiss---you'll feel better!”
            Cooper swears, then charges his brother, taking him to the ground.
            The fight is on as the twins are swinging and kicking out with their feet.
            The fight is being observed by 3 of the ranch hands, a safe distance away.
            The one snickers and spits tobacco juice out.
            "Looks like Jr. Boss man is getting his 'come up-ance'. Serves him right, hope that other kid knocks his head off!”
            They continue to watch the twins going at it.
            "Hey Jeffe, who is that other kid?"
            The old man snickers, "Not sure---it could be the other son that was at the corral when you were yelling at that 'younger' boy."
            "Damn! How many little bastards does the old man have?”
           "Four---no five---I heard they loss a baby last year! There's also a daughter- and man is she a looker!!”
            The two men glare at their boss.
            "A looker, huh? I don't recall seeing any young girls around", replies Briggs.
            "That's because you and Nagan are usually up on the south ridge. I've seen her couple of times damn fine looking piece. Long reddish hair that shines like copper and with a body that you could never fill your loins. She's about 18 or maybe 20.”
            Nagan feels his chaps getting tighter and a need to relieve himself.
            "Well maybe, I just might introduce myself; get to know her a little better!”
            The old Mexican lets out a loud laugh, turning his horse around.
            "You do that senor, and Senor Walker will make you wish you had never seen the exit of your Mama's loins. I have seen that man's temper where his family is concerned, especially that daughter! You best to stick with the little whores from the local bar, if you want to go on living!”
            The three men have started back to the ranch house.
            Briggs turns to Jeffe, "Hey boss, you never answered our questions about the Walker brand, what does that stand for that shadows over the W?”
           
Nagan pulls back on his horses' reins, "Yeah---been wondering that myself--spill them Mexican beans Jeffe, what's the big secret!”
            "I was curious too, so I asked one of the older hands, it seems that senor Walker's real name is Firewalker---the man is half Cherokee!"
            "Oh, now I get it---the old man kept the W in front and the F over shadows it, making it hard for someone to duplicate the Walker brand!”
           Jeffe smiles, "There is no brand that I have not been able to copy---this one will take just a little more time!”
            The twins have stopped fighting when they hear the Hemi engine of the Ram coming down the road, they start adjusting their clothes and wiping the blood from their faces. Cordell slaps his brother up beside the head.
            "Damn it Coop, you almost broke my jaw!”
            "Serves you right, keep messing with me and I'll chip that other tooth that Dana thinks is sooooooo cute!”
            They head for the back of the Ram and start reaching for the supplies.
            "This is the last of the supplies but I think we can get the rest of the fence done before-----what the hell happened to you two?”
            "We slipped”
            "We sort of got tangled up in the barb wire."
            Walker glares at them, "Yeah right! Looks like you tangled with a bob cat and came out second!”
            Cordell looks out over the pasture and sees a familiar figure coming their way, he taps Walker on the shoulder.
            "Uuuuh Dad, I think you left the barn gate open again.”
            Without looking up, Walker replies.
            "Yeah, I know he's out--left the gate open on purpose!”
            "The way he's trotting you would never think he has a sore leg---here's his carrots Dad.”
            Walker walks over to the fence and leaps over it, as Old Ranger trots up to his master.
            Cooper clears his throat, "Uh Dad, there's a gate right here!”
            "Since when does Dad ever have to use a gate, he just hops the fence!”
            "Yeah, I hope I can hop fences when I reach his age!”
            Cordell whispers to his brother, "keep playing the odds with your health and you won't!”
            “Up yours, Cordell
            Walker shakes his head as he hears the twins bickering. Old Ranger is looking for his carrots, he finally finds them as Walker has tried to hide them in the back of his shirt.
            "There you go, big fella--you've found all of them. Now go on over there and get in the shade while I get these battling Ninjas back to their jobs!”
            Walker watches as the horse does as he's told, nursing a faint limp. A sadness overcomes the ranger as he remembers the day he had to put Amigo, his old pinto down. He knows it's only matter of time until that time will come again. He turns and walks back towards the fence, a slight pain in his left hip reminds him 'to exit through the gate this time'.


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


Alex's Office

            Alex is still having thoughts about her son hiding something from her, she pages her secretary.
            "Amy, have you received an answer from that number I gave you?”
            "No ma'am! I have dialed the number several times, no one answers.”
            Alex is pacing.
            "I can't believe that someone doesn't answer the phone at Dana's apartment. Well, I will just swing by there on my way home, Dana is on the 8-4 shift, so she should be home by now.”
            The drive to the Miller Apartments is less than ten minutes from the medical clinic and twenty minutes from the Walker ranch.  The apartment building is on the nice side of town, surrounded by many prosperous businesses, across from the city park.
            Alex finds the building with no problem, she and Walker had been there only once after Dana and Cordell began their 'arrangement'. She rings the buzzer to apartment 312 several times no answer. She then rings the super's apartment, he comes down to the lobby to meet her.
            "I've been calling apt 312 all day, I'm looking for Dana Winchester!”
            The super has recognized Alex as the head district attorney.   He checks his books.
            "I'm sorry Mrs. Walker, but she doesn't live here anymore!”
            "Are you sure, she and a roommate from the medical clinic shared the apartment?”
            "I remember the young ladies, Mrs. Walker--but the one girl, a Tina Chelsey moved out over 3 months ago---I think she got married. Miss Winchester couldn't make the rent, so when the lease was up, she and that young man moved out!”
            Alex reaches for her wallet and pulls out a picture of Cordell .
            "This young man?”
            "Yeah, that's him---nice young man---very polite!”
            "Exactly when did Ms. Winchester and this young man move out?”
            "The lease was up May 1st---the young man tried to get me to extend the lease another 6 months---but I couldn't do that---these are year leases--- no exceptions! So, I think they left that night. They were so young, I felt sorry for them, but rules are rules!”
          Alex thanks the super and heads back to her little car, she dials her husband's office and tells him what she has found out.
          "Where the hell have they been living?”
          "I don't know honey, but I told you last week I was having some bad vibes about everything when I found out about the withdrawals from his savings!”
          "I have to go to a meeting with the mayor and with Trivette, but when I get home tonight, Cordell will have some answering to do!"

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

 

Part 5

 

            Walker and Trivette are investigating a meth bust on the lower side of Springtown.

            The FBI is involved, but on a low scale leaving it to the local law force and of course, the Texas Rangers.

            One of the agents has formed an instant dislike to Walker, and doesn't like the idea that the FBI is not in total charge. Once again he has made his complaint to Trivette.

            "I've told you Manning, we are ordered to take a low profile in this, let the locals take charge!”

            "If that's the case, why are we even here? We out rank all of these 'rednecks'--especially that ranger!"

            Trivette glares back at the young man.

            "If you want to take this to the main office, you go right ahead! In the meantime, you do your job----is that understood?”

            The young man stomps away.

            Walker approaches his friend, "Problems?"

            "Forget him he doesn't like being second in command. But, I can't tell him or anyone else why we are really here---did you find anything?”

            "Nothing--the goons we caught in the act are not talking. All I have seen is just the local dope heads, dealing in the usual crap! Definitely no sign of what we were expecting to find! Do you see anything unusual about all of this, Trivette?”

            "If you're suggesting that this might have been a rehearsal of something bigger to come---YES!   It's a little 'too trashed', get my drift?"

            "Exactly what I was thinking! We're doing a final sweep of the place and then we're out of here!"

            Walker starts heading to the door, when he spots a young Mexican girl among the arrested. He walks slowly towards her.

            "What's your name miss?"

            "Wouldn't you like to know, pig!"

            "Officer, did you get any ID on this one?”

            The officer frowns. "Plenty! About a dozen different ID's, take your choice, ranger!”

            Walker goes over the ID's.

            "Don't suppose you would tell me where these ID's came from?”

            The girl smirks and then spits at Walker.

            The ranger wipes the spittle from his face then gives her a gentle shove to the young officer.

            "Let her sit in jail for a few nights, I hear they have some new night guards at the city jail!”

            The girls' eyes go wide, "What's that supposed to mean, I ain't afraid of no guard, I'll eat them for breakfast!”

            Walker grins, "You'll change your mind about that when you get there!”

            Trivette looks to Walker as the ranger is rubbing his face over and over, trying to get all of the spit off.

            "You better take a rabies shot, Walkman---maybe two or three of them---That girl is just plain nasty! What was that about new night guards?”

            "Well partner, the new guards are built like 'sumo wrestlers' and they are all female! They will be 'eating' her, morning, noon, and night!”

            Trivette grins, "Talk about a smorgasbord, in reverse!”

            "I got to go Trivette, talk to you tomorrow!”

            As Walker is walking out the door, one of the officers brings him a small object. Trivette stares at it then asks the officer to bag it. He then takes it back.

            "Where did you find this?”

            "It fell out of that young girl's pocket, the one that spit on the ranger!”

            Trivette hesitates, "I'll take this one to the lab, myself.”

            Manning has watched Trivette pocket the plastic bag.

 

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

 

     Walker Ranch:


            He sees Cordell's car in the driveway, he heads for the kitchen.
            Alex and Angela are preparing supper; Alex walks over to her husband.
            "Cordell is in his room. Do we confront him now or after supper?”
            Walker takes a deep sigh and answers.
            "NOW--let's get this over with!”
            Alex turns to her daughter, "Angela, finish supper for me---don't let the broccoli get too soft. We have to talk to your brother."
            Walker and Alex climb the stairs to the attic that has been Cordell's room for almost two years. Walker taps lightly on the door.
            "Cordell, son---your Mother and I need to talk to you.”
            He has just stepped out of the shower, "Hold up just a sec---got to put pants on!”
            He finally gives them permission to enter. He looks at them cautiously.
            "What's up?”
           Alex looks around her son's room---not a single object is out of place. His bed is always neatly made, his boots lined up against the wall, his shoes next to them. If she was wearing white gloves, she could go over anything in his room and won't find any dust at all. His guitars are all lined up on the other side of the room, and pictures that were taken at the prom sit on his night stand.
          Walker takes a deep breath, and then asks.
          "We want to know where you and Dana have been living for the last 3 months and don't lie to us.  We know that she is no longer living at the Miller apartments!”
          Cordell exhales, "And, how do you know that?  Have you and Mom been checking up on us?”
          "
I'm not going to lie and say I just swung by there---the truth is---I looked at your checkbook and I saw that you had made several big withdraws. I know you're going to be upset with me for doing so---but I was worried about you and------'
    
            "You went through my checkbook, Mom? Why did you do that, that's personal?”   
           
Walker puts his hands up, "Do not raise your voice to your Mother---she told you why she did it! You're not in the habit of making withdraws, especially that big--- now tell us what is going on and why have you and  Dana lied about not living at the Miller apartments?”
            Cordell begins pacing, staring back at Alex.
            "I was helping Dana with the rent after her friend moved out and left her with the whole bill, including a cleaning fee---that's why I was taking money out of my savings! It's my money, I shouldn't have to explain!"
            "But, the super said Dana left nearly 3 months ago---where have you been living?”
            Cordell swallows hard, "The only place that we could afford to stay at ---those apartments over on Pine!”
            Both Alex and Walker groan.
            "Oh my God, those apartments have terrible living conditions---they should have been condemned years ago!”
            Walker shakes his head, "Your Uncle and I were just down the street from those apartments---for a meth bust! Why in the world would you and Dana choose that neighborhood?”
            "We had no choice, Dad! I was helping Dana as much as I could to pay the rent, then her little car started needing repairs, we had to get that fixed and then-----"
            "Sweetheart, why didn't you tell us that you needed some help?”
            "Because we wanted to do it on our own to prove to you and Dad, and to Dana's Mom that we are serious about our relationship and  we could handle the responsibility---on our own----without anyone's help!”
            Alex goes to her son, but he pulls away.
            "You and Dad have never truly believed that we loved each other and neither has Sue. If we had accepted any of your help, it would have proved to all of you what you've been saying all along---that we're too young--we can't handle the situations that have come our way. We wanted to prove to all of you that we could---don't you understand?”
            Walker shakes his head, "You were overlooking the fact that you were not thinking about your safety.  You chose to live in a place that is dangerous to both of you, because you were too concerned with proving to us and Sue that you could handle everything! There is nothing to understand about that, except stupidity on your part. You're the man, what were you thinking? It's no shame to ask for help, but Cordell, it is a shame not to know your limits!”
            "We're doing the best we can, we have another apartment in mind, but there are no vacancies yet. It's closer to the medical center and all!”
            "Sweetheart, the place you are living in is in a high risk crime area, you just heard your Father mention that!! Don't you worry about Dana being there alone----through the week, when you can't be with her?”
            "All the time, Mom! That's why I have her calling my cell and letting me know that she's safe----- and it's not my fault that I can't be with her during the week!”
            Alex shakes her head, "This has got to end-----""
            "You're not breaking us up, Mom---this is exactly why we didn't tell you. You're not going to break us up---I will leave home and Dana and I will--------"
            "If you would give me a chance to say what I want to say. You will not be staying in that 'rat and roach' infested place----you and Dana will stay here!”
            "No way---if we stay here---you and Dad will constantly be looking for a way to show us that we are not mature enough on our own---no way!”
            Walker gets up in his son's face, "You have no choice, young man!”
            Alex is fighting the tears, "I have already lost one child----I will not lose another!"
            "Son, just think about this---we want you home with us---you and Dana! You will have your privacy! Look at this room---it would be safe to say that it's probably as big or bigger than those crampy apartments!!! And, I know it's a hell of a lot cleaner and safer for both of you!”
            "I have to talk to Dana first; I won't make decision till I do!”
            "She's on the 8-6 shift this week, isn't she? Call her and ask her to come to supper and we will all talk it out!”
            Cordell continues to hesitate and Alex goes to him, they embrace.
            Walker walks over to his son and slaps him on his back.
            "We'll work together on this, o.k. son, there are still rules that you both will have to follow---you have to meet us halfway!”


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


            Walker and Trivette are still working together, and the search is on for the new drug as cases of it have been reported coming across the border.
            The situation for Cordell and Dana has been a little awkward, but they are both happier and Cordell is taking more classes. Dana has now allowed her Mother to help them too, accepting a new car, and both of their savings accounts is back to normal---and growing.
           Preparations for the big picnic are getting underway, and the fireworks are being set up down next to the river. Neighbors and friends are making their way to the Walker ranch, bringing all kinds of food, and the twins have set up their band.
           C.D. has brought his famous chili and giving Trivette a hard time about it.
           "For goodness' sake Jimmy, you'd think by now that you would have gotten over eating all of that tofu food---look at you----you're losing weight!”
            "Well, at least I'm healthy, big dog!"
            "What's that supposed to mean? Just because I can only see out of one eye, and I have to use this cane to get around, I'm pretty damn healthy for someone pushing 90!”
            "I didn't say you wasn't healthy C.D.---I just meant that all of that grease in the chili can't be good for you---or your cholesterol!  And, that's another thing---what has chili got to do with the 4th of July?”
           C.D. takes a deep breath, and shakes his finger in Trivette's face.
            "I can't believe that you could ask such a question! What in tarnation do you think that Old George and his patriots were eating in the dead of winter, chasing those red coats, while crossing the Delaware?”
            "If my memory serves me right, it sure as heck wasn't chili!  It hadn't been invented yet!”
            Cordell has heard the arguing as he approaches the battling duo.
            "Actually Uncle Jimmy, it had been invented--sort of. The red coats were eating steak and kidney pie far back as early as the 1600's. Things were added to the 'so called pie' and when the British invaded the colonial states, it was served a different way down here in the south. Cowboys were adding more ingredients as they sat around the campfires and no honest to good Cowpoke was going to admit they were eating British pie!! So they had a 'not too friendly adjective' for it, the origin of the word was related to cow poop, or cow paddies. Somewhere along the way, the word was changed to chili---with beef and spicy ingredients that were compliments of Santa Anna's Army---and so chili was created!”
            Both Trivette and C.D. stare back at Cordell.
            Trivette starts to laugh, "Just proves my point---chili and crap go together!”
            "What in tarnation are you yapping about now, Jimmy?”
            Trivette smirks, "The very thing that I have believed ever since coming to Texas and learning about chili. The picture is so clear, now I know why George Washington was standing up in that boat---he couldn't sit down because he had hemorrhoids--from all of that kidney pie--- alias CHILI!”
            Cordell walks away, giving Walker a 'high five' as he passes him, Alex has seen the gesture.
            "What are you two cooking up?”
            Walker grins, "Well, it sure isn't chili!”
            JW has seen Angela bringing out more food and constantly glancing down the old gravel road.
           "Hi Angela, can we talk?”
            She smiles back at him, "If it's about what we talked about at the rehab center the other day, I don't care to discuss it any further!”
            "Come on, Angela---I've made mistakes but I can change---just give me a chance!”
            "I know about the girls back in Baltimore, JW---I'm not stupid! I know that you can't be faithful, and frankly---I just don't care anymore! You've lied to me so many times, saying they don't mean anything to me; it's just sex-that's disgusting! I'm dating others, and you can 'bed' all the other girls that you want to---I don't care!”
            "I wouldn't want to be with anyone else, if you would just stop trying to be such a 'goody-goody'---all the girls you know have had sex---except you! It's normal!”
            Angela's face becomes flushed, "I don't want to talk about this anymore"
            She turns to walk away and he grabs her arm, she winces.
            "JW---leave her alone!”
           
JW turns to see Walker stomping towards him.
            "We were just talking, Uncle Walker.”
            Walker is trying to keep his temper down and his voice.
            "It didn't look that way to me!  Don't cause any trouble JW or so help me, you will be asked to leave. Do I make myself clear?”
            JW stomps off.
            Angela begins rubbing her arm, "It's o.k. daddy---he didn't mean anything, I'm alright!”
            The ranger puts his arm around his daughter and smiles, "I wasn't worried about you, baby---I was worried about JW---another second and that boy would be singing soprano! You're just like your Mama---slow to rile---but when you do get your fill----look out!”
            She laughs and goes into her Father's arms, "I love you daddy!”
            He kisses the top of her head, "I love you too, baby---you're my brightest star in all the heavens!”
            He helps her to set the pies and cakes out on the long picnic table, and watches as she continues to stare down the gravel road.
            "Soooo, what college classes did you sign up for?”
            "Did you say something, daddy?”
            "I was asking about----what was that---did I hear thunder?”
            "I didn't hear anything," answers Angela.
            Walker pretends to look worried, "Sure hope it doesn't rain---sure don't want this party to be ruined!    There!  I heard it again--did you hear that?”
            "Daddy, I know mama says that you have impeccable hearing, but there is nothing in the sky----no clouds!”
            "Just listen--- you hear that? Now, who in the world do we know that rides a Harley Davidson?”
            Angela quickly looks towards the road and through the trees; she can see a motorcycle turning up the gravel road, followed by an old pickup.
            She smiles and turns to Walker.
            "How did you know it was a Harley Davidson?”
            He smiles back as only a Father can, "There's no mistaking the sound of a Harley!”
            He watches as his daughter tries to refrain her happiness as she walks, then runs to the man on the bike. The man greets her shyly, as the old man joins them. They go to meet their host.
            "Welcome, to both of you. Don't just stand there---there's plenty of food---dig in'!
            Music is being played and someone starts a 'line dance'. Alex has joined in as she grabs her husband and gets him involved. Soon, more and more are joining in as the twins do a little "Boot Scooting Boogie!”
            JW and Trivette are watching, as JW's temper begins to rise as he watches Angela coax Matt into the swing of things.
            "Look at her Dad---making a fool of herself with that 'redneck!”
            "Calm down JW---go ask one of those young ladies if they want to dance!”
            "To this horse manure they call music? Those girls wouldn't be caught dancing to this crap!”
           Trivette observes the girls in question, their feet are moving to the music and soon other young men have asked them to try the dance---they've agreed!
            Trivette grins, "Well, so much for 'red neck' music, I see someone that I would like to ask to dance. In the meantime, you chill out JW---I saw that little confrontation with Walker, you're treading on dangerous ground!”
            The music has slowed down and Cooper has had his eye on a certain little redhead, he approaches her and introduces himself. They talk for a few minutes then they too start dancing.
            Alex and Walker are dancing to a George Strait song, nice and slow.
            "Honey, I think this has been our best 4th of July picnic yet, it certainly has been the biggest! People are still arriving!”
           "Yep, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves---especially our daughter!”
            Alex looks in the direction her husband has nodded to.
            Angela is looking up at Matt and he's actually enjoying the dance, without stepping on her toes.
            "What do we know about him, Alex?"
            She smiles, "Well, maybe you should have asked yourself that before you went by the garage and extended Matt and his Father's invitations---in person?”
            Walker hesitates. "Wellllll, I heard Angela telling you that Matt didn't want to come to the picnic---because he thought I didn't like him, or something along that line!”
            "H'mmmmm, and so you thought 'what Angela wants, Angela gets?”
            Walker grins and swirls his wife around, "You got it!  She takes after her Mama---you both can wrap me around your little fingers!”
            "So, is the verdict still out on Matt?”
            "Yep! Just like it is on JW----I never thought he would try to get out of line with Angela--but if he ever lays another hand on her---Trivette and I will be coming to blows!”
            Games are being played and a friendly game of horseshoes is being played. Matt is surprising everyone with the accuracy of the game. Finally, he and Angela go back to the picnic table.
           "What are you looking for, Matt?”
            "That coconut cake with pineapple slices on top---man---that was delicious!”
            "I don't think there is anymore, it went rather fast!”
            "Well, I can understand why! Whoever baked it is one damn good cook!”
            Cordell and Dana have heard the compliment, as they refill their plates.
            "Well, the person that baked it is standing right beside you", answers Dana.
            Matt stares at Angela--"YOU? You baked that cake?”
           
"And, also the apple pies," Adds Cordell---"and not to mention the potato salad!”
            Matt is speechless as he keeps shaking his head.
            "Wow, I can't believe it---you can cook---too?”
           "What do you mean "too?” Asks Cordell.
            Matt looks to Cordell nervously, "I meant someone as beautiful-----as your sister-----I mean'
           Angela pulls on Matt's arm, "You're embarrassing me---come on, let's go for a ride down by the river!”
            Matt looks towards the river, "I don't think I can get my bike down there."
            "Not on your bike, let's go horseback riding!”
            Matt is still hesitating as Angela nudges him towards the barn.
            Someone else has seen the couple head to the barn, his temper is boiling!
            C.D. has joined some of the vets from the VFW halls, and they have all brought their flags of service and the POW and MIA.
            One of the vets rolls up to C.D. in his wheelchair, both legs are missing.
            "Tell me C.D., is that grandson of yours going to be singing some of the songs that he sung at our 'hall' last month?”
            C.D0 hesitates, "Ooooh you mean that 'hard rock,' didn't you get enough of the Rolling Stones and those other 'ear shattering racket, that they call music?”
            "NO----not that trash! I'm talking about those patriotic songs----this is the 4th of July, you know!”
            "Barney, I can guarantee that you are going to hear some good' down to earth, red bloodied good old patriotic songs----especially GOD BLESS AMERICA! Have you forgotten that ole' Cordell is a vet too, he insists on having songs to honor all of us vets?”
            "I saw the flags as we were being 'bused' in," the old man is fighting back the tears, " I'm telling you C.D.---it made this old heart beat 10 times faster!”
            C.D. nods his head and puts his arm around the old man.
            "Yep, that's one thing that Cordell insists on---is flying the flags! Not only the American and the Texas flag, but the MIA and POW's---you know Cordell was missing in action and held as a POW---he knows firsthand what all of you have gone through and still going through with The Veteran's Administration!”
            Other vets have gathered around and C.D. motions to Cordell to join them.
            "Cordell, these are some of the vets that were at the 1171 Hall that the boys played at last month, I was assuring them that Cordell and Cooper would be singing songs of honor for these guys!”
            Walker shakes all of their hands, welcoming them to the picnic.
            "Well guys---let's put it this way---if my boys don't sing what you and I want to hear---there's a nice little hickory stick in the barn---with their names on it!!”
            All of the men start laughing as they remember the twins singing at their hall.
            A vet in his 90's grabs Walkers' hands, "Those boys had us all in tears want you to know. They sung Battle of New Orleans just like ---like---what's his name----Johnny Horton---that's it! ----And, when that one boy of yours sang to old Jessie---over there---I thought Jessie was never going to stop crying.”
           The others nod their heads, some wiping tears away.
           Walker walks over to Jessie and kneels down in front of his wheel chair; the old man is trembling, and trying to make out Walker's face.
           "Do I------do I know you---young fellow?”
           "Jessie, it's so nice to meet you--my name is Cordell Walker, and my sons sang to you at your hall last month, do you remember?”
            The old man smiles, -----" Yes---'he' sang to me----he has your eyes. Will ----he sing to me again, my wife's song?”
            "I'm sure he will---what's the name of the song?”
            "All for the love---" he whispers through tears---" All for the love of a girl!”
            "I know the song, Cooper will be glad to sing it for you.”
           
"Uhhh Cordell, it wasn't Cooper that sang it---it was Cordell!”
            "Really?  Cooper usually does all the singing!”
            "The band was already through when Jessie asked him to sing it since it was another one of Johnny Horton's songs. Cordell sang it solo; with just his guitar---and by damn---there was not a dry eye in the whole place!”
            Walker is busting with pride as he walks over to talk to Cordell.
            "Yeah, I remember him Dad----he was so sad. He said he and his wife had been married for over 50 years---they were childhood sweethearts. They were both 17 when they got married---just about the same ages as Dana and I will be when we get married!”
            Walker smiles as he playfully slaps his son on the shoulder.
            "I don't suppose you know where your brothers are? I told Coop I wanted him to keep a close eye on the fireworks, don't want some of the younger kids swiping some of the firecrackers! And, I haven't seen 'hide nor hair' of Ray, have you seen him?”
            "He was with some of his little friends over by the barn about half an hour ago. Coop was talking to some girls; think he's got his eye on a little redhead.”
            Walker's brow arches at the mention of a redhead, and how quickly one in particular could get Alex's temper to boiling real quick.
            "Well, if you see them---relay my messages---o.k? I want to talk to Trivette!”
            Walker goes in search of his friend, he sees Trivette talking to some fellow rangers looking at Matt's motorcycle.
            Angela has asked Ray to select one of the horses that Matt will ride; he brings out a sorrel, about fifteen hands high.
            Matt is looking at the horse nervously.
            "I don't know about this Angela, I haven't ridden in a long time!”
            Ray and his friends are listening and making faces at each other.
            "It's just like riding a bicycle, you never forget, it will all come back to you. This is Daisy; she's very sweet, and gentle.”
            "O.k., I'm not sure how to put the saddle on just right.”
            "I'll show you, just make sure she doesn't hold her breath while you're tightening the girth--because if you do you won't be able to get the cinch tight enough and the saddle will be loose. Ray will help you while I go saddle up Camelot, won't you, Ray?”
            Ray looks back to his friends and winks, "Sure-----be glad too.”
            Ray pulls the cinch to make sure it's tight, and then looks to Matt.
            "Mount up, so I can get the proper length of the stirrups. You're tall so I'm going to have to lower them quite a bit---just hold on!”
            Ray looks over to his friends that have swiped a couple of firecrackers, they edge closer to Daisy.
            Angela has come out of the barn and sees that Matt doesn't have the reins in his hands, he's holding onto the saddle horn.
           She yells out to Ray to hand the reins to Matt and at that second the fireworks go off and someone slaps Daisy hard on the rump. She bolts, almost running over Ray and heading straight for the picnic tables.
            People are running to get out of her way, as Daisy clears one table and headed for the gravel road---half a mile down is a cattle guard.
            Angela is screaming for Walker as she reaches down and takes the lariat off the corral fence. Walker jumps on Matt's Harley, he roars down the gravel road, Angela is coming up behind him.
            "Throw me the rope!”
            Matt is holding on for dear life as the cattle guard is getting closer. He remembers how he had to cross over the metal grids in the ground that are about 8 inches apart in a horizontal direction. He knows if that horse decides to stop, he will go over her head, if she tries to jump it or gets a hoof caught, it could be fatal.
            Walker knows the same dangers, he will have only one chance to throw the lariat and hope it makes its target. He's almost beside Daisy and the noise from the Harley increases her speed--it's now or never as he lassos his target---Matt!
            The rope pulls Matt backwards over the horse's rump and he lands flat on his butt.
            Others are running up to them and Angela goes after Daisy, turning her around. Walker stops the Harley and runs over Matt, who is trying to stand, but keeps falling down.
            "Easy, easy does it---are you alright?”
            Matt is groaning, "I will be----when I get my wind back!”
            “Is he o.k., Daddy?  Matt are you alright?”
            "Make him stay down, Angela. Matt, do you need an ambulance?”
            "Matt waves him off.  "Oh hell no---I'll be alright----nothing hurt--- but my pride!”
            Walker starts winding his lariat up, and Matt stares back at him, trying to laugh.
            "Couldn't you have at least, roped the horse instead?”
            "Nope---you were a bigger target, and even if I had roped Daisy---the outcome would have still been the same---you would still be kissing dirt!”
            Cordell has taken Daisy, walking her around to cool her off.
            "My Dad saved your life, you know that----and it was quick thinking on Angela's part to grab that lariat!”
            Matt stands up with Angela and his Father's help and wobbles over to Walker.
            He shakes his head back and forth, "A cowboy on a Harley, lassoing a biker on a horse----who is going to believe this?”
            They shake hands and head back to the picnic, and stern confrontation with Ray and his little friends!
            Walker and Alex are urging everyone to continue eating, that everything is o.k.
            Ray walks up slowly to his parents and their looks alone make him want to run and hide. They both start in on him about the dangers of shooting the fireworks off near an animal, and Matt's close call with serious injury.
            The boy keeps apologizing, and the other boys are being scolded by their parents.
            "I'm only going to ask this once, which would of you, slapped Daisy on the rear?”
            The boys all stare back at Glen Peck's Father.
            Ray kicks at the ground, "Neither of us did. Jake and Pee Wee lit the firecrackers---but-----but---it was JW that hit the horse!”
            They all turn to Trivette and JW, and Trivette pushes his son backwards.
            "You did this? You caused that horse to bolt, what the hell were you thinking?”
            
JW smirks, "I thought he was just faking it, saying he couldn't ride so he could play up to Angela---I didn't think the 'red neck' was serious!”
            Angela has been attending to Matt's cuts as she turns around and lashes out at JW. She stomps towards him, matter than a hornet.
            "Matt could have been hurt or killed and you think this is a joke? What about all of these other people that were trying to get out of Daisy's way----and what about her----she could have been hurt or killed?”
            Walker is holding his daughter back as he glares at JW and Trivette.
            JW laughs, "No one was hurt---it was just a joke---you were making a fool of yourself Angela."
            JW doesn't finish his sentence as a fist goes to his mouth and this time JW hits the ground.
            Matt is standing over him, "I don't care what you call me or the fact that you just don't like me-but you keep a civil tongue when you're talking about Angela!”
            The fight is on as Walker, Trivette and the other men are pulling Matt and JW apart.
            "Stop it JW, I told you if you started anything we would be leaving---go get in the car---now!"
            Alex is pleading with her husband not to let them leave.
            "Nobody is leaving! Everyone get back to the food----Cordell, start the music up----and everyone just calm down!”
            Soon everyone is back to eating, and Trivette and Walker are talking to JW about his actions.
            Cordell is getting the band ready as he keeps looking around for his twin; he spots him
 and a girl coming from the barn. Coop is straightening his clothes and brushing the hay out of his hair as the girl is doing the same.
            Cooper looks around, "What was all of that yelling going on?”
            His twin stares back at him.
            "Dad said to get the music going, are you ready?”
            "I'm always ready bro'----in more ways than one----if you get my drift?”
            Skeet, one of the members of the band laughs.
            "What happened with the redhead, Cooper? I saw you go into the barn with her--she came out alone, and then you come out with Samantha?"
            Cooper looks to Skeet and smiles, "I'm still working on her, she's just trying to play hard to get!”
           "Can we get started now?"  Snaps Cordell, "it's almost dark enough for the fireworks to start?”
           Cooper continues to grin at his brother, and whispers.
            "What's wrong bro'---and stop looking at me like you're appalled at what I've done---because you and Dana have been in the barn too!”
            Cooper pulls out a small patch of blue silk from inside his shirt.
           "I think these belong to Dana----or maybe you been sneaking someone else into the barn without her knowing it?”
            Cordell hisses back at him.
            "At least we had the decency not to do it while a family picnic was going on---you're disgraceful!”
           "It was more exciting this way, Cordell---I thought Angela was going to see us, so we just dove under one of the hay stacks---then we moved to the loft----Samantha is really hot!”
            Dana is bringing Cordell a drink; she sees the tension between the twins.
            "What's wrong, Cordell?”
            "Same thing as always, my brother and his antics!”
            The girls are gathering around the platform where the band is set up, the music starts out mellow as they play God Bless America and the fireworks start down by the river.
            As the evening goes on, the young red haired girl is still being observed by the younger of the Walker twins. She stares back at him.


            Changes will come for the twins, and neither of their lives will ever be the same.


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

Part 6

 

(2 weeks later after the 4th of July picnic)

 

Courthouse:

 

            Walker is making his way to his wife's office, the small plastic envelope in his hand.

            He sees her watching something on her computer, she's all smiles.

            "Hi honey, you're just in time, the kids sent more pictures from Boston."

            Walker smiles as he sees the recent pictures that Cordell, Dana, and Ray have sent from their trip to Boston to see Dana's Mom and of course, their Grandpa Gordon.

            "Wow where was that taken?”
            Alex looks at the picture in question, a huge fish that has been caught by Ray.
            "I think someplace near the harbor, that fish is almost as tall as my baby!”
            "Yep, and the pics of your Father's yacht is great---looks like Ray is having a hell of a good time. Looks like a Bluefish to me---must be around 10 pounds for sure!
            Alex stands up and puts her arms around her husband's neck.
            "They are all having a great time, especially my Dad! You can see it on his face every time Cordell takes his picture. I'm so glad they decided to go up to Boston and visit with him and Sue!”

"Yeah, me too. Hon, I have to show you something.”
           She stares down at the object that her husband has taken out of the plastic bag.
           "That looks like Cordell's arrowhead, the one that Dana always wore around her neck. What are you doing with it?”
            "Trivette gave it to me, it was found at that apartment building that we busted for meth.”
            "You're saying that this is considered evidence, from the lab?”
            "No, not anymore as far as evidence is concerned, I just want to know what it was doing
there. Have you noticed when Dana stopped wearing it?”
            "I haven't really noticed. I do recall Cordell saying that the clasp was always breaking on that chain he bought for her, but I never paid any more attention to it.”
            "Well, we do need to get this cleared up on how it was found at the site of a meth bust, can you get Dana up on that Skype thing---or Cordell?”
            "Oh honey--no---we don't want to ask them over the net---can't it wait till they come home on Friday?”
            "I guess it can wait that long. Where are they today?”
            Alex smiles, "Well, Dad took the boys up to New York to see 'ground zero' and the memorial wall, but Dana didn't want to go. She and her Mother went shopping!”
            "That sounds about right, if Angela had gone to Boston---she would be shopping along with them! On second thought---our credit cards can take a nice long vacation---its best she didn't go!”
            Alex frowns, "Well, I don't know about that---she's spending a lot of time with Matt!”
            Walker nods his head, "A lot of time, ever since the 4th!”
            "I like Matt o.k., but, there's just something about him that makes me weary of him.”
            "Wellllll, we could do a check-up on him! But, if our daughter ever found out, there would be hell to pay!”
            "I don't think it would hurt to dig around a little bit, because Angela acts like she doesn't know too much about him either! What do you think honey, should we?”

"Actually, I would like very much to know where he was for almost five years, before he returned home to his Father's garage. And, what I'm thinking---I don't like the thought of it!”
            "In incarceration? Oh, honey---I don't like that thought----at all!”
            "Well, the only other thing we can do is just ask him---point blank!  That would sure make Angela upset!”
            "Let's just think about this for a while. I will say one thing in his defense, he put JW in his place when JW was spouting off to Angela . He seems to think an awful lot of her----and I'm afraid that our daughter has that 'look' that I never saw with JW!”
            "What 'look' is that?”
            "
Uhh, I think I've said too much---are you going to take me to lunch, Cowboy?”
            "No!  No I'm not---I have to meet with Trivette and the rest of the special squad for this new drug------but, I was thinking that we could go to Antonio's for dinner tonight. How does that sound?”
            Her arms go back around Walker's neck and she kisses him lightly.
            "Ooooohh cowboy, I like the way you think, it's been awhile since we've had a night out alone!”

"Yep, and we better take advantage of it while half of our brood is in Boston, Cooper is on that rafting trip with some of his friends, and Angela is probably with Matt, wherever the hell that is!”
            "Walker, she said she was going to the  motorcycle races over in Ft. Worth, and she would be home about midnight!”
           "Her curfew is 10pm!”
            Alex sighs, "I told her it would be alright. Honey, she's 18 now we have to give her a little more space.  I know what your problem is!”
            "And, what is that?”
            "I don't want to make you angry, but Angela can't always be your 'baby---Daddy's little girl', etc. Things change, and we have to be careful about how we handle this new 'relationship’! After all, it was Angela that took the first step, not Matt!”
            "First step to what?”

"I meant that Angela was the one to start talking to Matt at his Father's garage, and then she asked him to be her escort to the prom!”
            "I would like to know just when did our daughter get to be so friendly---she's usually shy about things like that!”
          "Honey, let's don't talk anymore about this right now, I have to be in court in half an hour and you got to go to that meeting with Trivette. By the way, how do you like taking orders from Trivette, since he's FBI, and out ranks you?”
            "I'm o.k. with it, he's now making the final decisions and when he makes a mistake--he has to take the blunt of it----just like when I was his superior!”
           

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

Ft. Worth Racetrack


            Angela stares back at the motorcycle that Matt will be racing.
            "You're not racing your Harley?”
            "No way! This is THE LEGEND's race, old bikes!”
            "Yeah, it does look a little old, not near as nice as your Harley!”
             Matt smiles, "Decked out, Angie---it's called -decked out.”
             She smiles back and throws her long auburn hair over her shoulder, her blue eyes sparkle.
             "Heyyyy, I'm getting the hang of this 'biker talk, just as long as you don't try to refer to me as your Mama, or your old lady!”
           
Matt reaches over and kisses her lightly on the lips, "I will never disrespect you like that, Angie---never!”
             She looks at him, "Angie? You're calling me Angie?”
             "I'm sorry, I won't call you that anymore, if you don't like it?”
             She reaches out for his hand, "No, it's o.k., I sort of like it.”
             Matt breathes a sigh of relief, "I'm glad, not that I don't think Angela is a beautiful name-- I just wanted it to be something special----between us.”
            Angela blushes, "Me too-----sooooo what kind of a bike is this one?”
            "This is one of my first bikes that I raced down in Tupelo, Mississippi. It's an '82' Triumph 750 Tiger and it's got a 738 cc engine, and a three sprocket gear!”

 "What does that mean, a sprocket gear?”
            "Well, when they first made them, it was 1 shift down and 2 up now all 3 gears are up a lot easier to shift when you're racing.  Well, I'd better get to the starting line, they're starting to line up wish me luck!”
            She moves closer to him, reaching up and bringing his face down to hers, giving him a long and sensuous kiss.
            "Wow", he stutters, almost dropping the bike. "I hope there's more where that came from?”
           She smiles, "Just win---o.k.?”


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

Bunkhouse: Walker ranch


            Brooks has been watching the main house.
            "O.k., I just saw the old man and his wife leaving. They're all dressed up real fancy they'll probably be gone for a while!”

"Have you seen any of the kids?”
            "No, haven't seen any of them except that daughter. Some guy picked her up in an old pickup truck, had a motorcycle in the back!
            Nagan scratches his beard, "Come to think of it, haven't seen those older boys in about a week, or that little one! I know one thing Jeffe, you were sure right about that daughter being a 'looker', she sure fills out those tight fitting jeans! Not to mention that sweater, holding up those boobs! Man, I'll bet that punk that picked her up sure gets his rocks off !"

Jeffe grins, "I told you so, senor and not only is her figure hot, but she is one beautiful young lady!”
            "Guys---stop it---I'm getting hot just thinking about her!”
            All of the men laugh and start tugging at their crotches and making lewd gestures.
            "O.k. O.k.---let's get back to the plan---is Miguel ready with the truck?”
            "Si', he is coming in the back way, the horses that we have moved over there will be picked up on the north ridge, away from anyone's view!”
            "What about Carson and the others?”
            "Senor Walker has sent them down to San Antonio to help out a friend of his with his herd, seems the friend has come up with a lot of sick stock on hand!”
            Brooks laughs, "Imagine that, I wonder what made them sick?”
            "The same thing that will make the rest of Senor Walker's stock sick! This new drug will wipe out the whole herd, if we want. But, I think it's best we don't move that fast, don't want Senor Walker getting suspicious!”

"I don't know Jeffe, from what you say about him and what I hear from others---it doesn't take much to get that man suspicious of anything! And, you said he was half Indian---those people deal in spirits and stuff!”
            "Brooks---you're a nut case---he's just a man! He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like any man!”
            "Whatever you say---o.k. let's get this show on the road!”


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

Antonio's

            Walker and Alex are enjoying wine before they order, Walker keeps looking around at everyone in the restaurant.
           "Honey, do you remember the very first time we ever ate at this restaurant?”
Walker shakes his head, "No, do you?”

"I most certainly do, it was our first date---that is---a real date---no Jimmy or CD!”
           
"We always hung out with those two they're our best friends!”
             Alex sighs, "I know that Walker, but I didn't want them with us all the time!”
            
The ranger smiles, "They were protecting me, remember I've always said that you scared me?”
             "I scared you?  The infamous lawman, always chasing down the bad guys and not always 'going by the book the great Cherokee warrior?”
             "
Yeah, but Alex I knew they were out to hurt me and do me bodily harm, I didn't know what your intentions were!”
             She laughs softly, "Tell me honey, how did you think I was going to hurt you----and do bodily harm?”
             Walker reaches across the table and takes her hand, kissing the wedding ring. And speaking softly he says.
             "Some 26 years ago at some time this week, I had dinner with this beautiful blonde attorney, and when I walked out of here that night my life has never been the same since!"

Tears come into her eyes, "You do remember!”

"Of course I remember! I don't remember the exact date, I just remember thinking about how the boys at the Alamo must have felt when they were being attacked by Santa Ana----I felt 'doomed'!
            She takes her hand away and slaps his, "oh, stop it! Doomed'?
            He reaches for her hand again, "Yep, never another feeling like it. I could feel my life changing as I looked into those beautiful blue eyes, just like I'm feeling now. I know sometimes I didn't show much emotion in our relationship as I should have but in the back of my mind I knew that you would play a very important role in my life.  And, about 6 years later I was right! I made an honest woman out of you, and we had a beautiful wedding, didn't we?”
           "Yes", she's crying now, "Yes, our wedding was perfect----wellllll, except for that plane ride to Paris and you ended up having to land the plane!”
            "And, almost a year later---we started our family!”
            Now all she can do is cry and nod her head up and down.
            "Alex, I know that we didn't celebrate our last two anniversaries very much for losing our baby girl but our 20th will be here before we know it and I want to make it special for you!”
             "What, what do you mean?”
              "I want to take you back to Paris, to see all those sights that we both enjoyed-----after we finally left the hotel room, that is!”
              Now they're both smiling and laughing.
              "Oh yes, I would love to go back to Paris---but this time I want to see more of your Mother's homeland, can we go to Ireland?”
               He reaches across the table and kisses her softly.
              "We'll see all the places that you want to see but what about the kids?”
              "Well, we're sure not taking them with us!  The twins and Angela are old enough to take care of themselves and we can send Ray back to Boston!”
              Walker laughs, "I'm getting hungry let's eat.  I love you Alexandria, till the day I take my last breath!”
             They share another kiss.
            "I've loved you from the first day I met you, Cordell Walker!”


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

The Racetrack:

            Matt has won the race and Angela is running out to congratulate him. He drops his bike, picks her up and swings her around.
            "I did it, Angie this prize money will pay off the rest of my Pop's back taxes!”
            He kisses her hard, "And, it's all because of you, you're my lucky charm!”
            Angela shakes her long hair, "No, you won because you were the fastest on that track. I thought my heart was going to come right out of me when that checkered flag went down!”
            The other bikers come over and start giving him Matt 'high fives.”
            "Hey Starkey, want to join us for a victory celebration over at 'The Broken Chain", and bring that beautiful babe with you!”
            Matt looks to Angela and then declines.
            "Not this time, guys. Angie and I have other plans!”
            The cat calls go up and the snide remarks are being made.
            "I'll just bet you have other plans!! Remarks the man with tattoos all over him, including his face.
            "Come on, Angie, let's get out of here!"
            The men follow him, still snickering.
            "Hey, what's the matter---you too good to hang around with us since you've latched onto this little princess?”
            "Knock it off, Blade! I told you we have made other plans!”
            The men back off and the bike is loaded up into the back of Gus' truck.
            They head back to Springtown, Matt has said very little.
            Angela scoots over closer to Matt.
            "If you wanted to go celebrate with your friends, it's o.k. with me---I would like to meet your friends!”
            "They are not my friends, Angie! I've had a few drinks with them, but that's all! That place that they were referring to is a very rough place, I would never take you to a place like that---never!”
            "O.k." she answers softly. "I was very proud of you tonight, Matt---you and that bike were like 'one'----how did you learn to ride like that?”
            "I started very young, when 'Evil Knievel' is one of your  heroes---you want to be just like him and I was no exception. I used to have all of his posters all over my bedroom wall and whenever he was making a personal appearance, my Pop would always take me. Those were the good days---for me and my Pop!”
            "It sounds like you've always had a good relationship with your Dad---I mean Pop. Why do you call him that?”
            "Haven't you noticed that coke machine that he keeps stocked with Coke Cola---when he stopped drinking---he turned to the colas---and the name 'Pop" just caught on!”
            Angela laughs. "Yes, I've seen that coke machine and they always taste so much better than the canned ones!”
            Matt laughs. "Don't ever mention 'canned colas' to my Pop, he despises them!”
            Angela hesitates, "You never mention any other family members---what about your Mom?”
            "My Mom is a 'touchy' subject, I would rather not talk about her----and 'no' I don't have any siblings!”
            They drive on in silence and finally Matt asks.
            "What time do you have to be home?”
            "I told my Mom it would be close to midnight, why?”
            "I want to take you to a very special place near Lake Worth---do you want to see it?”
            "A 'special place'? Asks Angela cautiously.
            "Yeah, this place is so beautiful---I used to go there a lot and just camp out and look at the stars----wait a minute---why do you ask me that in that tone of voice? Did you think that I was referring to something else?”
            "I just meant---that it might be a special place that you have taken-----other girls?”
           Matt smiles and takes Angela's hand, "The only one I've ever taken there was  Betsy
           "Oh, was she your girlfriend?”
           "Sort of, she sure could get loud at times and I would have to put my foot down---then she only got louder!”
            Angela stares back at him, and Matt breaks out laughing.
            "Angie, I'm referring to my bike----I call her Betsy!”
           "Which bike?”
           "My Harley----I know they are supposed to have masculine names, but somehow I didn't feel right saying 'come on baby' to a man's name!”
             Angela breathes a sigh of relief.
            "Yes, I would love to see your 'special place', but remember I have to be home by midnight!”
            "Midnight it is----I sure don't want your old man coming down on me about the curfew again!  But, Angela you're 18 now and you still have a curfew?”
            "Yes, I have a curfew--except for special occasions---like tonight!”
            Matt shakes his head. "Well o.k. Next, you'll be telling me that you're a virgin!”
            Angela says nothing.
            "You're not-----are you?”
            "And, what difference would it make if I said that I was? Is that what this 'special place' is to you----do you think----we're going to have sex?”
            Matt slams on the brakes and pulls off the road, he stares back at Angela.
            "You're not serious! I can't believe that you're a-------virgin----no way! You and that jealous boyfriend of yours have never had sex----I can't believe that!
            "Well, it's true----alright?  That's one of the reasons that JW keeps sleeping with other girls, because he wasn't getting it from me----are you happy now?”"
            
"I got to admit, I don't know what to say. The way that you kissed me back there at the track, I thought you----were-----coming onto me! And yes, I was expecting-------more!”
            "You were?" Angela says softly.
            "Hell yes---I'm only a man---and you were definitely sending out the  right signals! That's probably why your boyfriend was seeking the other girls---because you were teasing him----just like you've been teasing me!”
            Angela starts to cry.
            "I'm sorry-----I want to go home now.”
            Matt starts the truck back up and revs the engine, "I will gladly take you home!"
            Angela moves away from him and snuggles up to the passenger door.

The ride back to Springtown is in complete silence.
           He pulls up to the front of her home, and Angela turns to him.
           "I'm sorry if I led you on----goodbye, Matt!”
           Alex has been waiting up for her daughter, she glances at the clock over the fireplace. It's a quarter to eleven when she hears Matt's truck pull up, and Angela running up the steps.
            "Angela? Is something wrong?”
            "No, Mom---Matt just has to get up early tomorrow---so we came home early!”
            "Just tell me that you're o.k.---because I know something happened---did he hurt you?”
            Angela runs into her Mother's arms.
            "Nothing happened, Mama---he's just like JW.”
            "Angela, did he try to force himself on you?”
            "NO!  We had an argument about it----and I told him to bring me home!”
            "Are you telling me the truth, Angela----if he forced himself on you-----"
            "No Mom, he didn't! Please don't mention any of this to Daddy----please!"
           Alex takes a deep breath, "We will talk more about this in the morning!”
           "O.K. Mama----do you still want me to ride to the airport with you to pick up Cordell and Ray?”
            "Yes, their plane comes in at 11:30, we need to leave by 9'oclock-----and we will talk about what happened tonight, understand?”
           Angela nods, then heads up the stairs.
           Alex heads up to her bedroom, and Walker is rubbing his eyes, looking at the clock.
           "Was that Angela?”
           "Yes, honey---go back to sleep!”
           "She's home early---everything o.k.?”
           "Everything is fine."
           Walker turns over, grabbing his pillow, and punching it.
           "Good!!!  Guess he finally got my message about bringing my baby home on curfew."
           "Yes honey----he got the message!”


 ****************************************************************************
 Walker ranch; Saturday morning


Walker is listening to his baby son tell about the fish he caught on his grandpa's yacht.

"It was so big, Daddy---I had trouble reeling him in---but Cordell helped me. Grandpa was trying to help---but he doesn’t have much energy!”   
            "Doesn't have much energy", Cordell corrects Ray's English.
            "Whatever! It was still big!”
            Walker and Cordell are preparing stumps to be blasted, Ray is helping to roll out the electrical cord that will be used to fuse the dynamite sticks.
            Walker smiles at Ray's excitement over his trip to Boston.
            "What kind of fish was that big one that you caught?”
            "Grandpa said it was a bluefish---and it weighed close to almost 11 pounds!”
            "Wow! I guess you did need your brother's help getting it in!”
            The boy laughs, "Grandpa and the fishing guide kept trying to get me buckled in----I almost fell in the water!"
            Both Walker and Cordell are laughing and Walker keeps looking towards the north ridge.
            "Where's your brother? He was supposed to bring that herd in from the north ridge?”
            A voice answers meekly, "I'm here, what's everyone yelling about?”
            Walker looks back to see Cooper half stumbling towards them.
            "It's about time you got up!”
           
Cooper grabs his head, "Please----don't talk so loud!”
            "You were supposed to be up on the north ridge at daybreak to bring those horses down----you get some coffee in you and get your butt up there---now!”
            Cordell sees the drunken state his brother is in.
            "I'll do it, Dad!”
            "NO! That's Cooper's job, he wants to wake up with a hangover---o.k.-----he still does his chores!"
            Cooper takes the coffee thermos, looking around for sugar and cream.
            "You'll drink it black---so it'll do some good---what have I told you about your drinking? Were you driving in that state?”
           "
No, Dad---- I was not driving!”
            "Then, who was driving?”
           
Cooper shakes his head, "I don't remember-----I think her name was-----I can't remember!"
            "Yeah---right----you can't remember! Well, here's something you will remember---you're grounded!”
            Cooper grabs his stomach, and starts spewing vomit everywhere. Everyone is scrambling to get out of his way.
           "That's gross!” Yells Ray.
           "Well, there goes what little breakfast I did have'! Replies Cordell.
           "I don't feel----so good----I wanna lie down!”
           Walker shakes his head and grabs his bandana and dips it in some water.
            "Here! Take this and go over in that shade and lie down---I'll deal with you later!”
            As Cooper heads to the trees,  Walker motions for the others to move back a safe distance while he attaches the blasting caps.
            "Can I light the fuse, Daddy?”
            "Just this one time, and don't tell your Mother I let you do it! ----Get back over behind the truck!”
            Walker checks to make sure Cooper is a safe distance away, and then Ray lights the fuse.
            The dynamite goes off and the tree stump is blown up into the air.
            Cooper grabs his head again.
            "Does it have to be so loud?” He yells back.
           Cordell and Ray are laughing, Walker just shakes his head.
            "Well, it's clear I'm not going to get any work out of him today!."
           He whistles and Old Ranger that has been grazing in the next field comes running. Walker goes to the back of his truck, pulls out his rope and begins making a 'temporary' halter for the horse that goes over just his nose.
            "Dad, want me to go get you a saddle and another halter?”
            "Nope!” He answers as he swings himself up on Ranger's back, "I'll be fine---get this mess cleaned up, I'm going up to bring that herd down."
            Cordell nudges his little brother.
            "Come on Ray, let's have some fun with Coop.”
            Ray grins, "What did you say we were having for  breakfast, Cordell?”
            Cordell gets up in Coop's face and yells---"We're having fried eggs with the yellow ooze just seeping out so we can sop it up with biscuits----it's soooooo gooey----doesn't that sound yummy bro'?”
            Cooper is groaning, "Stop yelling----my head hurts---my stomach is going around and around!”
            "What else are we having, Cordell? Are we having hash browns----lots of ketchup and what about the bacon----fried in all of that grease?”
            
Again, Cooper is throwing up his insides.
            Finally, his brothers feel sorry for him and get him into the truck.
            "Cordell, Dad doesn't have his cell phone---it's here on the tailgate!”
            "He's always forgetting his phone---come on---let's go eat---I've worked up an appetite!”
            

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

 North Ridge
           

            Walker looks around at his property, taking in the stock ponds that are filled to capacity, and the lush green grass.
             This is his favorite part of the 1,000 acres of his ranch. There's always a nice cool breeze coming in from the west, but in the winter---it can be bone cold. He will take the small herd of some 50 horses back down to the south side, so that his neighbor off to the east can graze his cattle on the north ridge.
             Walker sighs as he remembers doing the same for his old friend and former Marine buddy, Hank Ferguson. He always shared the grazing ground and water rights with Hank, so that he wouldn't have to go around the 5 miles. Instead Walker opened up that fence line and Hank was more than welcome to its bounty.
             He stops and stares over his land, the horses can't be seen.
             "Where the heck can they be, old boy? Let's try down there on the other side of the ravine, where it's nice and cool by those rocks!"
             Thirty minutes have passed and still no sight of his herd.
             "I'm getting a funny feeling, old boy---and the hair is standing up on my neck. You're feeling it too, huh Ranger---you're getting nervous---what is it."
            There's a loud piercing call of a mountain lion, Ranger panics and Walker slides off backwards., and lands on his right side. He hears and feels the rib breaking. The cat has made his appearance as he stares down at the man and horse. He moves forward and jumps on Ranger, the horse is screaming in pain as the cat's claws go deep into his throat, the horse goes down. Now the cat is edging towards Walker.
            Walker is trying to get up as the cat makes a flying leap at him.   The cat is caught in midair by the front foot of the horse, and Ranger is rearing up, striking at the cat. The cat is not backing away as again it bounces on Ranger's back. With all of his strength, Walker reaches into his right boot and takes out a knife--- throws it and hits the cat in the side. Ranger starts stomping the cat, the blood oozing out of the wounds in his own neck. Walker steps back so Ranger can finish off the cat, it finally crawls away---to die.
            "Oh my God, Ranger-----come here boy----let me look at your wounds."
            The horse can barely walk, but he goes to his master.
            Walker is grabbing all kinds of leaves and pressing them against the horse's neck, where the deepest wound is.
            "It’s o.k. old boy---I'll get you back home---get you fixed up----you'll be alright----I promise.”
            Walker is holding his side and trying to lead Old Ranger out of the gulley. They finally get to the top and Walker collapses to the ground. Ranger is trying to put the end of the rope into his master's  hand, Walker has no strength to hold onto it.
           "Go home, Ranger-----go get help---go!!! Get out of here-----go home!”
           The horse is refusing to leave, and Walker knows that he will have to make another attempt to try and mount the horse. He manages to get him over to a rock, where he climbs up and lays across Ranger's back.
           "O.k. boy-----take me home.”


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

 Walker's house:

            Alex is scolding Cooper for his drinking.
           "When are you going to come to your senses about this drinking?”
            "I really didn't have that much, Mom!”
            "You have a 'hang over'---how much did you drink?”
            "I don't remember----Dad has already chewed me out----and grounded me!”
            "Hand me your car keys----you are not driving until  I say so---in the meantime----you get upstairs and take a shower---get that stinking smell of vomit off of you----go!”
            "I'm going----but first----I got to go to the bathroom-------again!”
            Alex turns to Cordell, "I didn't even hear him come in last night, did you?”
            Cordell is grabbing biscuits and stuffing them into his shirt.
            "No, Mom---Dana and I were out like a light---that trip tired us all out. I got to go and help Dad bring the horses down!”
            Angela has walked out onto the porch to get away from all of the shouting. She sips her orange juice as she looks out into the distance, remembering how Matt talked to her. She's going over their conversation, over and over---the tears threaten to fall.
            She throws her glass down and curses him.  "Damn you, Matt Starkey!”
           Suddenly, something catches her eye, she keeps staring---and then she sees a familiar black object, swaying back and forth.
           Angela strains to get a better look---"Oh no-----Daddy?”
           She runs screaming into the house-----"Daddy's hurt-----hurry!”
           Alex, Cordell, and Ray run to the front door---and Alex screams for Ray to call an ambulance.
           Cordell is running towards Ranger, he stops and stares at all the blood dripping off of him.
            "Dad!!"
           
Walker hears the familiar words, and gently slides off of Ranger---the horse falls to the ground, barely breathing.
            Alex is again screaming at Ray, "Get your Father's gun---now!
            Cordell is down on the ground beside Walker as Walker is looking at Ranger---"Get my gun, son---don't let him suffer---another minute!”
            Ray goes running to Cordell and hands his brother the rifle.
            Cooper comes stumbling out, "Why is everyone always yelling
            He then sees Cordell, raising up the rifle and pointing it at Old Ranger, the horse is in deep pain.
            Walker is pleading with Cordell, “Do it, son---he's in pain----do it Cordell!”
           
Cordell lowers the rifle, "I can't---I can't do it"---he begins to sob.
            Walker reaches out, "Give me the gun, damn it!”
           
Alex reaches for the gun, when Cooper yanks it from her. He pumps a shell into the barrel and stares at his twin.
            "This is the reason you don't get close to the farm animals
            He lays the barrel against the horse's head, and fires one shot into the brain. The blood flies everywhere, most of it going into Cooper's face. He swaggers back and grabs his head again, going down to the ground.
            The sound of the ambulance is heard as there is a 'sound of deep silence! Angela runs to Walker and Ray turns and falls into his Mother's arms, crying.
            They move towards Walker and Alex keeps asking him if he's alright, he keeps staring at his beloved horse. His chest heaves and the tears fall.
           "He wouldn't leave me------I had to ride him----so he would come home----he saved my life, Alex!”
           Everyone is crying and Cooper stands up, walks over to his brother and shoves the rifle back at him.
            "I'm not the one that needs to grow a pair---grow up Cordell----this is part of being a rancher! I might be suffering from a hang over, but I still knew what my responsibilities were----ranching is life and death----you better learn how to deal with--both!”


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

 

Part 7

 

Walker ranch:

 

Things between the Walkers have been tense, the twins are constantly arguing, Angela has become withdrawn and Walker and Alex are arguing more. Young Ray feels neglected, and begins to spend more time on his first love---bull riding!

            Even Dana has felt the strain of all of the yelling. She takes on an extra shift at the Medical Center, and this causes arguments between her and Cordell.

            The reports come back on the autopsy of the mountain lion! It's not rabies, but definitely some kind of drug that was ingested into food that the cat had eaten.  Walker and the Trivette found the tire tracks of a semi that was driven in from the north entrance. A fifty foot section of barbed wire fence had been cut, then carefully put back in place.

            "Someone was being very careful about this 'horse rustling', taking the time to mend back your fence?"

            Walker is nurturing his right side as he listens to his friend.

            "All I know is---when I find the 'sons of bitches' that stole my horses and killed Old Ranger, I will beat them to a pulp!”

            "Easy partner, we're going to find whoever is responsible---but you know as well as I do that this has got to be an 'inside job'!  How many people know that you can get to your ranch coming in this way?”

            "My ranch hands know about it, but Carson and his crew have been down in San Antonio helping Jack Beavers. The only others would be Jeffe, Brooks and Nagan!”

            "And, where were they when this went down?”

            "Don't worry, they were the very first ones I questioned---they all have alibis---they were at a biker's bar, got into a brawl and ended up in jail!”

            Trivette studies Walker's face, "But, you're not believing all of this, are you?”

            The pain can still be seen in the ranger's eyes and Trivette knows he's thinking of Old Ranger.

            "I just find it very coincidental, that they entered a biker's club and not the usual 'hang out's' that they would usually go to.  Cowboys and bikers don't usually mix too well. This club they went to was over near Weatherford, just off highway 51."

            Trivette nods his head, "Ahh, and how close was the biker bar?”

            "About a 100 yards from the highway.  But, just before you get to this bar, you have to pass two other beer joints---now why would they pass up the 'familiar' type of bar that mainly gets just the locals, like from the farming area, and such?”
            "Have you checked their records?”
            "Trivette, I did that---before I ever hired them!!  Just a few traffic tickets, and 'brawling'--but, believe me, I intend to keep a close eye on them---and if they are involved, TEXAS is not big enough for them to hide!”
           Trivette studies his partner's anger.
           "Walkman, I know how you felt about Old Ranger and I know how much you loved that horse---but the last couple of times I've been up to your home---I can feel that something is going on between all of you. What's going on, partner?”
           "I told you that Cooper is starting to come home--drunk. Yes, I know that teenagers are going to drink and I know that he and Cordell drink when they are out with their friends. I've always cautioned and lectured them, but here lately---Cooper is drinking more. You know---that he was nursing a 'hang over' when he ---when he put Old Ranger down?”
            "Yes Walker, you told Cordell to do it and he couldn't. Cooper just did what you asked Cordell to do---put the horse out of his pain!”
            Walker begins pacing, he looks to his dear friend of some 25 years.
           "I don't know ----how to feel about that?”
           "Are you angry at Cordell because he couldn't----or because Cooper could----I don't understand what you're trying to say?”
            "I've been asking myself that, Trivette. Am I angry at Cordell's weakness, or because Cooper could do it without-----blinking an eye? It didn't bother him at all,--no remorse!”
            "Walker, we've talked about this very thing! Cordell has said that he doesn't want to be a rancher, so the thought of having to put down a sick or dying animal-----is not in his blood! However, it is in Cooper's blood!  He's been helping you 'dress out' hogs that you have butchered, killed chickens, since he was 6 or 7 years old! That's what you taught him to do, to learn the life of a rancher---and everything that goes 'with' being a rancher. And now, you want him to erase all of those teachings----because he  did the humane thing and killed your horse?”
            "Old Ranger is not dead because of Cooper--- the mountain lion killed him when he took out half of his throat.!”
            "Right---but somewhere deep inside you, you're looking for someone to blame----the ones to blame are the ones that  made it possible for that cat to eat some other animal that was tainted with that damn drug!”
            Walker nods his head, "I know you're right----and I'm angry at myself for all of these angry thoughts----if I had been able to do it----then none of this anger would be out there!”
            "You were not physically able to do it, Alex said you were going to pass out at any moment. That's what is really chewing you up inside."
            "It was my place to do it--- I am the head of my family-----Ranger was my horse----I should have been the one to put that gun to his head."
            
Walker turns away from his friend.
            Trivette lays his hand on his friend's shoulder, "just let it go partner---whatever feelings that you are having---let them go. Because, if you don't---you will never be able to forgive yourself, and like it or not----you're not Superman!!  You can't handle every obstacle that comes your way---or to your family!”
            They sit in silence for the longest.
           "I haven't asked you about JW----is he alright?"
           "I'm taking him back to Baltimore, there's another rehab center there that I hear is very good---I think it will help him!”
           "If Cooper doesn't get some help soon about his drinking---I'm going to be in the same boat as you are. Alex and I have talked about it and we are definitely going to look into some help for him, before it gets worse!”
            "O.k. partner---I'm getting hungry---hungry for some of Alex' blueberry waffles/ light syrup and butter"
            "What about bacon?”
            Trivette thinks about it for a second, "Maybe one slice----or maybe two!”


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


           Walker and Alex have continued to lecture Cooper about his drinking. Finally after days of being in denial, he agrees to get professional help.
           Tension still remains between the Walkers as again he has told them about the new drug that is definitely moving in and the cause for Old Ranger's death.
            He has them all seated in the front room, including Dana.
            She's sitting on the sofa, next to Cordell---holding his hand.
            "O.k. Dad, we're all here, what's this lecture about?” Asks Cordell.
            Alex gives her son a stern look, "Just sit and listen, and listen good all of you!”
            Young Ray stands in the doorway of the kitchen, eating an apple.
            Walker looks back at him, "This concerns you too---get over here buckaroo, and sit down!”
            Ray flops down in the floor, in front of Angela on the couch.
            Cooper is leaning against the wall, arms folded in front of him, shaking his head.
            "Dad, we've been over all of this! We're not into any drug!”
            "And, we'll go over it a hundred more times till each one of you understands the dangers out there! If you are even with someone that is doing drugs---especially this new strain that is hitting the streets, you are in danger!”
           
Alex nods her head, "Yes, we are just so worried about all of you---this new drug is fatal!”
           "You keep talking about this 'new drug' Mom, what is it called?”
           "It has different names, your Mother showed you all of the paperwork on it. The things that go into it, the many ways it can get into your system, but most of  all---how deadly it can be. They still don't have an antidote to completely cure it---it can paralyze you, before it kills!”
            "But Daddy, if we're not taking the drug, how can it hurt us?”
           "
Angela, sweetheart---you may not know that you are taking it! It's being slipped into drinks, food, and the ones that are doing this----could be your best friend!”
            "Your Mother is right baby, when you are out---don't let anyone give you a drink, or take food, unless you get it yourself. First symptoms can be 'loss of memory', nausea, etc.---sex is the main way of transferring it!” 
           "Cooper, you kept saying that you didn't remember the girls' name that  drove you home, do you still say that?”
           Cooper sighs, "Yes Mom---I know the girl's name! I just didn't want to bring her into any of this---her name was Kelli!”
          "The redhead that was at the 4th of July picnic?” Asks Cordell.
           "Yesss----" answers his twin sarcastically.
            Alex clears her throat, "Was she the one that you were partying with?”
            "She was at the party, but----not----the only one", he takes a deep breath---"she wasn't the only---that I was with!”
            Both Walker and Alex exhale.
            "I hope you were using protection!”
            "YES Dad----I always use protection, I keep telling you that---and you too, Mom!”
             "Condoms can break, Coop---you know that!”
            "Shut up Cordell!”
            "No, you shut up!” '    
            "Both of you shut up--- and listen! You are all going in for a complete exam!”
           
Cooper stops leaning against the wall, his eyes become wide.
            "What?  An examination for what?”
            "
You Coop are going to be tested to make sure you haven't contacted any kind of STD--- the rest of you are going in to be tested to give your Mother and me some much needed relief, if nothing else!! Does that answer your question?”
            Ray stares back at his parents, "Me too? I'm just a kid! I don't like beer or do them drugs!”
            Alex smiles at her baby son, "Yes, I want you tested too. Ray, you're at a very tender age and little kids younger than you are getting into drugs---so YES---you're being tested also!”
            "Do we get to vote on this?”
            "NO, Coop---you do not! The majority wins---Your Mother and me!"
            "That's only two votes, Daddy.”
            "Right Angela---the only two votes that matter----discussion is over!”


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

The kids have all had their exams, Walker and Alex are breathing much easier.
            Walker and Trivette are still going over some of the ingredients that have been found in the drug that they have labeled 'Vampire Bait'  because of its majority is made of bat dung.
            Trivette is wincing at the mention of not only the bat's, but other small animals too.
            "This makes you want to go back to the good old days of heroin, angel dust, LSD, and all of those other drugs----geeeez---why would anyone with half a brain want this in their system?”
            "Beats the hell out of me, kids are always looking for 'new highs'!
            "Marijuana was just making the streets when I was a kid, then soon the other drugs started taking over. I remember my biggest high was drinking a full case of Budweiser-----man, was I sick! What was your 'high', Walker?”
            "My cousins and I got drunk on  'moonshine'but I guess you could say my biggest 'high' was how high I jumped when my Uncle Ray tanned my hide! Couldn't sit down for a week, but I still had to do my chores. I would work---then puke----work----then puke! I learned my lesson real quick!”
            "How's Cooper doing?”
            "He's still angry, but as far as I know---he hasn't touched any kind of liquor. He's been grounded for almost a month! He goes to his meetings and he's working, that's enough for me!”
            "That's good, JW leaves next week to go back to Baltimore. I'm going with him, so I'll be away for about a week---getting him set up and all."
            "Take all the time you want. In the meantime, I want to go back to that bar but, this time I want to take these pictures of my 3 Stooges, see what kind of reaction we get!”
            "Undercover?”
           Walker grabs the pictures----"Nope---we're going in with badges showing--- and attitudes to match!”
           "Wait a minute, partner----I can't let it be known yet that the FBI is in on this!”
            Walker looks at Trivette's suit and tie. He yanks the tie off and then musses up his suit, slaps a Stetson on his head, shoves a star at his chest.
            "There!  Now, you look like a Texas Ranger again---just don' t say anything, just look mean and angry!”
           They're heading for the door and Trivette hangs back
           "I'm getting a bad feeling, shades of 'de-ja vu'! You're going to throw me into the biggest, and the baddest biker there, aren't you?”
            "Trivette, haven't you missed the fun we used to have fighting the bad guys!! Hand to hand combat, remember?”
             "I don't miss the headaches, cracked ribs, etc.---and that's another thing---your ribs aren't completely healed. What if a fight breaks out?”
             Walker takes a deep sigh, "I hope it does!  I haven't had a good fight--since last week, when that trucker ran me off the road! He came after me with a tire iron screaming at me saying I had run off with his wife and 7 kids! It took three round house kicks---just to get him to shut up long enough to put cuffs on him!”
             Trivette is still yapping, "Well, leave me out of it, you know how much this suit cost me---where's my tie?”


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

Walker ranch:

            Cordell and Dana are arguing again.
            "Why do you have to be the one to help Peg, she's got a boyfriend---he's supposed to help her!”
           "Not anymore, he walked out after she told him she was pregnant! She doesn't have any other family, Cordell. I'm just trying to help her get out of those apartments."
           "I don't like you being over there----if you want to help her get out, we will give her some money so she can get the hell out of there and find another place!”
            "That's what I'm trying to do, but you and I both know how expensive it is to get of there. We were lucky, your parents helped us to get out and they let us live here for free!”
             Cordell reaches out and takes Dana into his arms.
            "Yeah, my parents came through, I should have known that they would help us, no matter what!  Dana, I just don't want you going over there, it's too dangerous! You tell Peg to meet you somewhere else, and I will get enough money together for her to stay at that motel--over on Dewherst---o.k.?”
            "You'll do that for my friend?”
            "Of course I will! I don't want to make any more withdraws on my savings but tomorrow is pay day, I'll just tell Mom that I want to buy you something nice and just take the cash!”
            "Cordell---you'll be lying!”
            "Not really, I'm doing something nice for you by helping your friend---a little white lie?”
            Dana kisses him softly.
            "I am so lucky to have you and not someone like Jeff---that leaves Peg in her condition, she's not going to be able to work much longer.”
            "Maybe if things get too bad for her, she can stay at the H.O.P.E. center, Angela would know what Peg has to do to qualify and everything!  Why don't you ask her?”
            "I will, you better hurry up and get to your chores, don't want your Dad coming down on you about that, do we?”
            "Guess not, I just wish I knew what he has been so upset with me about, aside from not being able----to pull----the trigger!”
            "Maybe you should have a long talk with him about it---get things straight between you again. Things have been so tense since that day---so much yelling---and then the silence at the dinner table. Mealtime was always so much fun before all of this. Everyone would be talking, telling about their day---I miss that, I miss the 'togetherness", the laughter!"
            "Me too, and you're right---we will definitely have a nice long talk.”
            "O.k., I'm going to try and catch Angela before she goes to the center, see you later!”


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

Biker Bar/Highway 51  


             Walker and Trivette are walking slowly up to the front of the bar, a couple of burly bikers are eyeing them.
             One of them snickers, "Thought I smelled 'pig'---oink, oink!”
             The others laugh and try to block their entrance, Walker stares at the one in front.
             "You have 5 seconds to get out of my way, or my partner here will arrest you for imitating a pig!”
            Trivette's brow arches, "He's not kidding, I love pork!”
            The men step aside and follow the lawmen inside.
            "Check out the bartender, show him the pictures---I'll check these guys out that are playing pool!”
            Walker walks slowly around the bar, then walks over to the pool table. The guys see him coming and continue to ignore him. Walker taps the biker directly in front of him.
            "Got some mug shots I want you to look at.”
            The biker turns around slowly, and answers. "I ain't never seen any of those guys in here!”
            "Well, maybe you should look at the pictures before you answer----and take off those damn sun glasses!”
           The man removes his glasses and Walker is staring back at Matt.
            Matt takes the pictures and hands them back to Walker.
           "I told you I haven't seen them, any more questions? If not, can I get back to my game?”
            Walker nods his head and slowly walks away, he approaches Trivette.
           "Any luck?”
           "No, this bartender wasn't working on the night in question. What about the boys in back, get anything out of them?”
            Walker glances back and sees Matt going out the back.
           "Let's take a trip out back.”
            Matt is constantly looking over his shoulder as he heads for his bike. He stops in his tracks as he sees Walker leaning against it.
            "Hi Matt, where you going in such a hurry---thought you had a game to play?”
           Matt starts talking a mile a minute.
            "I don't care what you've heard, I didn't do anything! I swear I never touched your daughter!”
           At the mention of his daughter, Walker stands up straight and stomps towards Matt, Trivette comes up behind him and pulls him back.
            "What's that I hear?” Asks Trivette, "Ohhhh man, are you in trouble----for even thinking it!”
           Walker's face is becoming rigid, his eyes are burning a hole in Matt..
            The noise has attracted some of the bikers and they begin walking towards the rangers.
           Walker takes Matt by his vest and shoves him towards his bike. He whispers.
           "Get out of here----I will deal with you later---and you better not be hard to find---do you understand me?”
            Matt yells back, "Yeah, yeah, I hear you---I told you that I took care of those traffic tickets!”
           
Walker and Trivette turn and face the bikers.
            "Maybe we should start taking names Walker, and see if any of these 'up-standing 'citizens have any UN-paid tickets that they have forgotten to pay?”
            "That's a good idea partner---o.k---out with the I.D's!”
            The bikers retreat back to the bar.
           Matt goes west down 51, Walker turns east.
           "Aren't we going after Matt?”
            "Yeah, there's a turnoff about 5 miles down, we'll double back---I know where he's going.”
            Matt has returned to his Father's garage, Walker pulls in after him.
            Gus sees his son pacing back and forth, he waves to Walker and Trivette.
            "Hi guys, you're just in time---I got some nice cold pop just waiting to quench your thirst on this hot and humid evening."
            "It's o.k. Pop, they're just here for a friendly visit---go on back in where it's cool. I'll be in in a minute!”
            "Matthew, what's wrong son?”
            Walker greets Gus and then he turns to Matt.
            "O.k. Matt---let's hear it! What is going on between you and my daughter?”
            "I told you the truth, Mr. Walker---I never touched her---not in the way you're thinking. "
            "Well, just what in the hell am I supposed to think? You high tail it out the back of the bar---then you start blabbering about my daughter and swearing you didn't touch her--- you better start talking and it better not be anything that's going to make me angry!”
            "Now, wait just a minute! Ranger or no Ranger you can't come on my property and start accusing my son---Matthew, tell me son----are you in some kind of trouble---with Angela?”
            Trivette taps Gus on the shoulder, "Ahhh, let's go get some of those nice, cold drinks.”
            "NO! I want to know what this is all about!”
            Matt turns to his Father, "Pop, I'll explain all of this to you later---please Pop---go inside where it's cool---everything is alright!”
            Reluctantly, Gus goes with Trivette to fetch the cold drinks.
            "Angie---I mean Angela and I, we had an argument and I said some pretty bad things to her, I got mad and I took her home. Did she tell you---that I tried something with her----that's not true I swear!”
           "No, she hasn't said much of anything about that night---just that she wouldn't be seeing you anymore and frankly I was glad!”
            "Mr. Walker, I would never hurt Angela---but I thought------I mean-----she was giving me the wrong signals. I didn't know----that she was-------you know---'innocent'?”
           "Did you try to force yourself on her?”
            Matt is pacing, "Hell no! When she told me that she was a virgin---I got scared and nervous, I didn't want to go down that road again!”
            "So, you've been in this situation before and from how it sounds---you didn't stop the first time?  Is that it?”
            "You're taking this all wrong Mr. Walker---I was in the same kind of situation------with another girl with the same story and all. And no, I didn't stop and she didn't try to stop me---it was consensual!”
            "How old was she Matt, was she underage?”
           "NO! Matthew---don't you say another word---you have served your time!”
           "So, I was right. You did time for being with a girl that was underage!”
            "You are so wrong Ranger Walker, that girl that my son was with, 'set him up'---and that damn family of hers testified that he raped her and 'she' wouldn't say he didn't----they were both underage!”
            "Pop, be quiet---it's over with!”
            "It's not over with---she's still turning the screws by not letting you see your daughter!”
            "Daughter? You have a daughter---by this other girl?”
            "She's his wife, Ranger Walker!”
            "You're a married man and you've been going out with my daughter?”
            "Tina is my x-wife---and yes, I have a little girl---she's almost six years old!”
            Walker studies Matt's face, the young man continues to pace.
            "Could I have another look at those pictures?”
            Matt takes the pictures and points to one of them.
            "This guy---he's been in a few times---enough times to know better!”
           Walker looks at the man Matt has pointed out---Nagan!
            "What do you mean 'enough times to know better" Asks Trivette.
            "I mean---that bikers don't like to have anyone flirting with their "mamas or old ladies"--- and certainly not---an outsider!”
            "And, what happened?”
            "He got his ass kicked---that's what!”
            "What about these other two guys, were they there with him?”
            "Yeah, they came in about half an hour later, that's when I left!”
            Walker nods his head, "Because you're still on probation?”
            Matt looks to his Father, the man is sad.
            "This is my last year, Mr. Walker---I couldn't stay and risk getting into a fight---and maybe arrested! I've got stay clean for my Pop---and to help him get his back taxes paid off. And, that's what I did in my last race---I won enough money to pay the taxes off!! That's another reason why I wouldn't take the chance with Angela, even though she is eighteen! She's not a minor!”
            Walker takes a deep sigh.
            "I understand, will you be willing to testify against these men---if it is proven that they were involved in stealing my horses?”
            "Is that what this is about, 'horse rustling?”
            "Matthew, I read something in the paper about Ranger Walker's horses be stolen---about 2 weeks ago!”
            "I also remember you saying something about a horse being attacked by some wild cat, and the horse had to be put down--and you ended up in the hospital, Mr. Walker?
           Trivette looks to his partner, the pain is still there, concerning Old Ranger.
           Walker turns around, "I'll be getting back to you about testifying!”
           Nothing is being said on the ride back to Ranger headquarters. Finally, Trivette has to ask.
           "Do you believe Matt?”
           Walker nods his head.
           "Yes, unfortunately I do. But, I'm still going to bring his records up!”
           

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

            The investigation into his horses being stolen is leading nowhere. He and Trivette are knee deep in finding the drug---and that to has come to a screeching dead end.
            Cordell and Ray are pulling up more dead stumps, this time with  a tractor and router. Coop has gone to the lumber yard with his Father.
            "Cordell, are we going to use some dynamite today---can I light the fuse again? That was fun!”
            "No, little brother---no dynamite unless Dad is around to supervise---that stuff is dangerous!”
            "
But, it's quicker---not near as much fun with this old tractor!”
            "Dad said---we use the tractor---but you can control the router on the next stump---o.k.?”
            The boy kicks out at the ground.
            "Why do we have to pull all of these stumps up?”
            "Because Ray, we have to put up a new fence line. The router will dig the holes unless you want to take a post hole digger and do it by hand!”
            "No thanks, that's too hard!”
            "Then stop complaining and crawl up in the cab---we have nearly a thousand feet to cover---next week we put the poles in---any more questions?”
            "I hope Daddy doesn't forget that I have to 'ride' tomorrow night---I have three events!”
            Cordell starts up the tractor, "He's not going to forget---you sure are getting good at that bull riding---you better than I ever was!”
            "Better than Cooper?”
            "Welllll, not quite---but Coop has been at it a lot longer than you!”
            "Daddy says that I will probably be able to wear Grandpa's chaps next year if I keep growing like I am!”
            "Yep, you're growing like a weed! You ready to take the controls now?  Remember 'ease' the router down---and watch the navigator screen----it will show how low you are going!”
           The boys are being observed by Nagan and Brooks.
           Brooks watches the look on his friend's face.
           "Forget what you're thinking, man---Jeffe said we had to 'lay low'---that damn Ranger is watching us like a hawk. I tell you he's onto something! Besides, we'll be out of here in less than a week!”
            "If he had anything, he would already show his hand! Those horses are long gone over the border, and that Ranger is running around like a chicken with his head cut off---get off my back!”
            Brooks shakes his head.
            "I know you hate that 'Jr 'boss man, more than you hate your old lady---just calm down!”
            Nagan wipes the spittle from his mouth.
            "Look at the little 'ass-wipe'---he thinks he's tough--I'd like to go down there and yank him out of that tractor---run his ass over with it, after I beat him to a pulp!”
            "I think we need to leave, the old man and that other son will be coming back soon!”
            Nagan nods his head as he takes another look at the two boys inside the tractor.
            "You're going to pay for all the 'bossing me around'---Jr boss-man--- you're going to pay!”


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

Ft. Worth/ Rodeo grounds

 

It's almost time for Ray to take his first ride, Walker keeps looking around for the rest of his family.
            "Where the heck are they, they're going to miss Ray's ride?”
           
Cooper has returned with chili dogs and cold drinks.
            "Sorry Dad, no Pepsi! Only Coke or Dr. Pepper, and I know you don't like Dr. Pepper!”
            "That's fine, son---have you heard from your Mother or any of the rest of them?”
            Cooper is trying to talk as he chomps down on his chili dog, the chili runs out the side of his mouth.
            "Nope----they should have been here by now, want me to call them?”
            "I've been calling, no answer even your brother is not answering his cell!”
            Give 'em a few more minutes, Dad---they'll be here!”
            Walker unwraps his chili dog, the chili has been piled on, he's reaching for more napkins.
            "Damn it Coop, couldn't you have put more chili on them, especially mine?”
            Coop swallows the last of his, "Wouldn't hold anymore, Dad! I'm going to get a couple more, want another one?”
            Walker shakes his head.
            He sees Cooper answering his cell at the concession stand and the angry look that his son has. He returns to the starting gate that his little brother will be coming out of.
            "Who was calling you, son----was it your Mother?”
            Cooper begins eating his third chili dog, "No Dad, it was Moose----nothing important!”
            Walker tries Alex's cell again, it goes to voice mail.
            He looks to his son, Cooper is definitely upset about something that his friend has told him.
            The chute opens and Ray has finished in first place. The boy yells back at his Father and then runs to get ready for the next ride. Walker and Cooper cheer him.
            Walker's cell phone rings, it's Alex.
            "Walker-----something horrible ----has happened---you and the boys need to come to Cordell and Dana's----old apartment building----please hurry!”
            "Alex, what's wrong---what's happened?”
            Alex can barely talk, "There's been an explosion-----people-----are dead."
            Walker is screaming into the phone "Who are all of you alright?”
           
"It's Dana oh my God---the whole 4th floor blew up Walker hurry and get here please!”
           We're on our way hon---what about you and Angela---was Cordell----in the building?”
            "NO, they're still bringing out bodies!”
           Walker screams at Cooper "get your brother, we got to go!”
           "What's wrong, Dad-----"
           "Just get your brother----now!”
           When they arrive at the apartment building Walker can see police officers and Alex trying to hold Cordell back as he keeps screaming out Dana's name.
           Walker and Cooper run to help subdue Cordell.
           Cooper grabs his brother and begins pulling him back.
            "It's o.k. bro', it's o.k----calm down----you can't go in there!”
           Alex is screaming for a medic to give Cordell something to get him under control.
           A medic screams back, "Sorry ma'am----but we got to help the victims and they are still coming out!”
            Cordell breaks away from his brother and runs towards the building again, Walker grabs him, shouting to Cooper.
            "Sit on him---if you have to!”
            
Cooper is wrestling his brother to the ground as Ray runs over to help.
            "Ray, grab his feet---sit on his feet!”
            Cordell kicks out and his little brother is kicked backwards.
            Cooper doubles up his fist, "I'm sorry bro'----but, I have to do this!”
            Cordell is knocked cold.
            The fire is finally put under control and Walker has asked about the victims, he walks slowly back to his family. Cooper is sitting on the ground, holding his brother in his arms. Alex and Ray are crying.
            "Was Dana-----one of the victims?”
            Walker doesn't have to answer, as his family breaks down in tears. Cooper is fighting it, as he keeps rocking back and forth with his brother.
            Walker keeps looking around for Angela.
            "Where's Angela----where is my baby, was she here---where is she?”
            
Alex answers through tears, "She got a call from Matt------she's with him!”


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

 

The headlines read: Six killed and 32 injured in apartment building--police are saying the cause of the fire was someone cooking meth.
            Dana's Mother and Gordon fly in for Dana's funeral. Cordell has not shed a tear and speaks to no one, except to argue with Sue about where Dana will be buried. Sue wants Dana buried next to the Father she never knew, Cordell wants her buried in the family plot! Finally, Sue gives in, and agrees with Cordell.
            It's been almost a month since Dana's death, Cordell still refuses to cry--- staying in his room---not wanting to see or talk to anyone.
           Alex is in constant tears, worried about her son---and feeling guilty.
            "What are you feeling guilty about, hon?”
            "For not realizing how much the two of them loved each other--- and not making them stay here when they started their relationship!”
            "Alex----they wanted their privacy---neither of us knew where they were actually living!”
            "I am going to court tomorrow and get that damn landlord arrested for letting those 'potheads' continue to live there. I will file all kinds of charges against him, including six counts of murder!”
         "Trivette and I are rounding up all possible suspects, someone is going to break. Has Cordell eaten anything today?”
            "Angela took him up a tray---but I don't think he's touched it!”
            "Maybe we need for him to see someone that deals with this kind of thing---he's in denial!”
            "I'm also worried about Cooper. Walker, something is wrong he stays outside his brother's door from the time he comes in from chores, till sometimes morning. I've seen him asleep up there!”
            "Yeah, me too. I've asked him to go to bed---he just says that Cordell might need him---and Ray and Angela are both withdrawn.  I'm afraid our family------is falling apart!”
            Suppertime comes and no one is really eating, they all just peck at their food.
            "Angela, sweetheart---did Cordell eat anything earlier?”
            "No Mama---not even his drink----he just sleeps!”
            "We're definitely taking him to a specialist tomorrow!”
            "I agree honey, we can't handle this any longer---he needs help!”
           Ray clears his throat, "Daddy, will I get to ride this week?””
            "We'll see!”
           "But, why can't I ride---I've missed so many events------'
           I said that we will see Ray, your brother is more important than those bulls right now----o.k.?”
           
The boy jumps out of his chair and starts running up the stairs to his bedroom. He stops at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the attic.
            "Walker! That was UN-called for!"
           "It sure was, Daddy---he's just a little kid---he doesn't understand-----------"
            "Mama! Daddy-----something is wrong with Cordell!”
            They all start running to the stairs, Cooper passes them all as his long legs start taking the stairs 2 and 3 at a time. They hear the breaking glass and things being thrown, Cooper hits the door---it's locked.
            "Get back" yells Walker as he kicks at the door---Cooper also starts kicking and the door is knocked off its hinges.
            Cordell is throwing his guitars up against the walls, then he starts throwing very piece of furniture he can and tearing the pictures off his wall.
            Alex and Angela scream out Cordell's name as Cooper and Walker try to get him under control. A fist goes to Walker's chin, and a foot finds Cooper's chest.
            Ray goes running and grabbing his brother around the knees. Again---he's sent flying.
            Cordell takes his fighting stance" Get out of here, all of you-- or I will kill you
            "Come on  brother, we're just trying to help you!”
            "I don't need any help---leave me the hell  alone
            "Cordell, sweetheart---please---let us help you!”
           
As Alex and Cooper are diverting Cordell's attention, Walker comes up behind his son, his arm goes across Cordell's neck. He applies the pressure.
            "Calm down son, you know what is coming next--I will put you to sleep----if I have to."
            "Do it---that's what I want----I want to go to sleep and never----wake up!”
            Walker tightens his hold, and Cordell falls to the floor.
            "Let's get him on his bed, Coop.”
            They lie him down and Alex looks around the room at all of the dirty clothes, everything is in shreds.
            Angela runs to his bathroom to get a wash cloth to wash Cordell's face.
           "Oh my God---you don't want to see that bathroom---it looks---horrible and there are pills all over the floor.
            "Pills? Oh no.”
            '
Walker, he has taken some sleeping pills along with something else-----cycloben---zarphrine, I think the label is almost scratched off."
            "That's a muscle relaxer----oh hell---he's mixed it with sleeping pills?"
            Alex looks at the prescription name, "These were Dana's pills, why was she taking these?”
            "For her back, Mama---so she could get some sleep at night!”
            Cooper and Walker have Cordell up and walking.
            "We have to keep him moving, Coop---Angela go turn on the shower---make it cold---we can't let him go to sleep!”
            Alex has called the 'doctor on call' and given out the info on the pills that Cordell has taken.
            "I'm not sure how many sleeping pills or the other---yes---send an ambulance!”
            "Never mind about the shower, let's try to get him downstairs.”
            Ray again is trying to help, but he's only in the way as they try to maneuver Cordell down the stairs. He follows down the stairs and sits on the bottom stair as they are now carrying Cordell out to the ambulance. His head rest on his folded fist. Finally Angela comes running in to get him.
            Cordell is kept overnight as his stomach is pumped, Alex and Cooper stay with him as Walker takes Angela and Ray home. Ray says nothing as he jumps out of the truck and heads for his bedroom.
            The following weeks are pretty much the same except Cordell is coming to the dinner table, but saying very little.  Cooper still stays in the bedroom with Cordell.
           "You don't have to 'baby sit' me, I'm not going to take anything---just leave me alone!”
           "No, I'm here, whether you like it or not. I have a confession to make to you bro'--- I treated Dana bad and I treated your relationship even worse. I'm sorry, Cordell----I just couldn't see how much you loved her and she loved you! I guess that's what made me the more envious----because I've never felt that way about any girl, or her loving me!”

"I wonder why---you were too busy hopping from one to another---you never gave yourself a chance to care!”
            "You're right, you've always been right about that---I didn't want to see it-----but now---things are different!”
            "You're damn right about that! I'm leaving, Coop---I won't stay here another day!”
            "Leaving? Where will you go, to grandpa Gordon’s?”
            "Haven't decided---but I won't stay here-----too many memories. Don't say anything to the folks because I don't want Mom crying and I don't want to hear Dad's lectures---promise me---you won't tell them!”
            "Cordell, please don't go---I'll change----don't go!”
            "I'm leaving tonight and before you even ask---you are not coming with me!”
            Cooper watches out his brother's bedroom window as he watches his older twin get into his car. Cordell looks up to the window and gives a slight wave.
            Cooper turns and goes to sit on his brother's bed, the tears come.
            "I wanted to tell you something, Cordell----but I guess it doesn't matter anymore----goodbye bro'---stay safe!”
            A month passes and finally Cordell has called home.  He asks for Walker and Alex to give their consent for Grandpa Gordon to get him a passport.
            They argue, then finally they give in.
            "Where are you going, son?”
           "I'm joining the Peace Corps and they have a group going down to Haiti to help with the rebuilding'---I'll be down there-----at least a year----maybe longer!”
           "Cordell, I don't want you to go----just promise me you will keep in touch and please stay safe", pleads Alex.
           "I will, Mom----I love you and Dad---but I couldn't stay---the memories----I just miss her so much that I can't stand to be around anyone or anything that reminds me of her, goodbye---for now!”


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

 

Part 8

 

Cordell's leaving home has affected each of the Walker family in different ways.  Alex has uncontrollable spells of crying, and Walker is at his wit's end trying to console her. He's also missing his son, but more worried about where he is.

Walker is in McAllen near the Texas border, trying to get the Mexican government to find Jeffe and the two ranch hands that have just mysteriously disappeared.

Trivette has also been trying to get information on their 'where abouts', but the FBI is also being told they cannot cross the border.

He and Walker have decided to return home, the ranger is in deep thought.

"Come on Walker, those creeps will wander back across the border sooner or later. We'll get them, stop worrying!”

Walker nods his head and looks to his friend.

"Don't worry, huh? Now what do you think about that idiot in the white house?”

            "Hey, it's not all his fault---Bush wasn't doing anything either to secure the borders!”

            "Maybe so, but at least he wasn't supplying arms to the cartel, and cutting back on the welfare for the Vets. And, look at all of the money that he is donating to the Muslim armies!”

            "There hasn't been any proof of that!”

            "What's it going to take, Trivette---he's allowing more Muslims and illegal immigrants into America? We're heading for a 'an all-out war' right under our noses, never mind the wars in Israel, while your 'so called president' is taking countless vacations on the taxpayer's money! Or else, he's out golfing!!

            Trivette is showing his anger.

            "Well, your friend Mr. Bush and his Father took a lot of vacations too!”

            Walker shakes his head. He's gripping the steering wheel so tight, his knuckles are turning white.

            "I still can't believe how America could be so stupid to put a Muslim in the white house----have you forgotten 911?”
            "No, I haven't forgotten! But remember, those were American pilots that trained those terrorists to fly those planes into those buildings!"
            "You're right about that, and they should have gotten stiffer punishments than what they did, but again---passports were not checked properly or those terrorists wouldn't have gotten into the country! But, knowing all of this ----that Muslims were responsible for 9/11---a Muslim still gets voted into the white house!"
            Trivette shakes his head in anger, "No one forced the 51%  to vote for him!”
            "No, they didn't---they were just promised free phones, college educations, and oh yeah----the right to vote---more than once!!
            "O.k., Walker---Bush made mistakes too---he promised to find Bin Laden---he didn't”
            "Yes, George Sr. and Jr made their mistakes, but they never forgot the American
people by putting other countries ahead of the US---and they always knew which hand goes over the right side of the chest when the American flag is presented! That stupid moron that is in there now, puts his left hand over his chest in pure---DISRESPECT! Never mind the pictures of him with his feet up on the presidential desk, that 'WE' the taxpayers are paying for!”

The men remain silent.
            "O.k. partner, where is all of this going and why now? We have always avoided politics and religion, so why are you 'harping' on this now?”
            Walker takes a deep sigh.
            "I'm sorry, partner---I'm just so worried about Cordell right now, I can't think straight! Alex cries all the time, especially when she doesn't hear from him at least once a week! The last time he called and we saw him on that 'Skype' screen, she cried because he had lost some weight!"
            “That's only natural, they're not getting much food down that way, of course he's going to lose weight!”
            "I know, I keep reminding her of that and the water works start all over again!”
            Trivette stares back at his friend of some 25 yrs.
            "Walker, I'm surprised that if you are this worried about your son, that you haven't hopped a plane down there to Haiti and dragged him back home?”
            "Well, don't think I haven't thought about it---a million times!”
            "
So, what is stopping you?”
            Walker shakes his head, "I can't do that, Trivette, he’s down there with the Peace Corp helping to rebuild the homes of those people that were hit by that hurricane. How would it look if I went down there, and he refused to come back till his job is over?”
            "I get the picture, how much longer does he think he will be there?”
            "That's another thing, Thanksgiving will be here soon and Cordell is saying that he might not be home for it, he's wanting to accept another job elsewhere as soon as this one is over! Alex is a nervous wreck, she's not eating or sleeping properly, and it's showing in her work too!”
            "What do you mean?”
            "Half the time she is forgetting her briefcase or being late for court!”
            Trivette holds up his hands in a 'half time gesture'.
            "Whoa---hold the phone! Alex is the head district attorney now---she doesn't have to show up in court---she just appoints other attorneys for that job!"
            "I know that, Trivette---but Alex has always tried to be there in court anyways---like an observer---you know how she is!”
            Trivette nods his head, and looks back to the Border Security vehicles that are pulling up.
            "Something’s up partner, let's go check it out'!


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


    
Walker ranch:

 

Cooper has returned early from his date and heads straight for the refrigerator.  He's swearing and moving things around, trying to find something to eat. Alex can hear the noise coming from the kitchen as she rises from her computer to check things out.
            "Cooper, what is going on? Why are you home so early?”
            Cooper grabs the cheese and some bread.
            "My date said she had to be home early because of a damned test---Mom, I'm starving! Where's that left over roast that was in here?”
            "I think Ray finished it off at suppertime and if you had taken the time to eat a good meal---you wouldn't be hungry now!”
            Cooper shakes his head, "I'm a growing boy, Mom---I have to eat ten times a day!”
            "What's all the ruckus?”  A grumpy voice is heard coming into the kitchen.
            Alex sighs, "It's just your grandson, CD---raiding the refrigerator! Cooper, just fix yourself a sandwich and have some fruit. CD, are you hungry too?”
            "As a matter of fact, I am!  Hungrier than old bear that has his foot called in a bear trap---fix me a sandwich too, Coop!”
            "I have a better idea grandpa---Mom, can I order a pizza?”
            "I suppose so, get my credit card out of my purse!”
            Cooper begins dialing the nearest pizza place.
            "Don't need to Mom, got the number memorized---right here in my starving little head. I'm ordering two large pepperonis with extra cheese and some chicken wings on the side, what kind do you want Mom, grandpa?”
            CD chuckles and Alex shakes her finger at her son.
            "Two will be enough for all of us! Goodness, you would think you were starving to death---I'm going to take a quick shower before the delivery boy gets here!”
            "In the meantime, I'm going to have a grilled cheese sandwich, want one grandpa?”
    CD waves him away.
            "I'll wait for the pizza, where is young Ray?”
            "I think he said at supper that he was spending the night with his friend, Pee Wee. Right, Mom?”
            Alex is halfway to the stairs as she yells back. The doorbell rings.
            "Yes, he's spending the night with his friend! Now who the heck can that be, it can't be the pizza, even Jimmy John's is not this quick!”
            Alex looks out the window first to see who is at the door, she looks back at her son and CD.
            "It's some old man, dressed in rags!”
            Cooper begins walking towards the door.
            "Be careful Mom; don't open the door all the way.”
            The old man stares back at Alex, taking his hat off.
            "Excuse, senora---I am hungry---do you have food?”
            Alex looks back to Cooper as he leans over her, letting his hand rest on the double barrel shotgun that Walker keeps over the door.
            "You're on private property, old man. How did you get here, we're two miles off the main highway?”
            The old man stammers, and continues to rub his right leg and grimacing!
            "I am just looking for food---and maybe some water?”
            Cooper keeps studying the old man, the ragged clothes, and shoes that have holes in them. He halfway turns around and shouts to CD to grab a couple of cheese sandwiches. He nods towards the water hose out front.
            "We'll give you some sandwiches, there's a water hose."
            "Sweetheart, there are colas in the frig---he can have a couple of those and some of the fruit!”
            "I'll get the sandwiches and colas, Alex!” Shouts CD from the kitchen.
            The old man wipes his brow as Cooper is staring him down.
            "You never answered how you got here!”
            "I saw the house from the highway, senor---it is so hot out here---if I may come in?”
            Cooper shakes his head, "You can't see this house from the highway, now I will ask you again--- how did you get here?”
            "I catch a ride from down the road and a nice familia---like you--dropped me off down there at the end of the road---I just started walking--and I am here!”
            "Which way did you come from, East or West?”
            "Senor, I not know directions---I come from that way!”
            The old man points to his right, as he reaches down to favor his right leg.
            Cooper nods his head and smiles softly.
            "Oh, I see---you came west down 199---past an old Texaco gas station, the one with big red 'T'?  Old man Jackson give you directions?”
            The old man stares back at Cooper, and nods his head up and down.
            CD comes up behind Alex with the sandwiches, and whispers.
            "Do not allow him to come inside!”
            Cooper's hand tightens over the stock of the gun as he continues to smile at the old man.
            "Old man Jackson is a talker, did he introduce you to his family and to his wife, Lucy?”
           The old man smiles, "Si, Si---he is very nice---so is his wife---Lucy?”
            Cooper pulls his Mother back out of the way as he brings the shotgun down, pumping a bullet into the barrel, and pointing at the old man.
            "You're lying old man, there is no Texaco station and the Jacksons are all dead---so they don't do much talking, and 'Lucy' was their price pig!  Now, last time---what do you want?”
           
The old man begins backing off the porch with his hands up.
            "Just food, senor!”
           Cooper eases out the door, his eyes going left then right---and back to the old man.
           CD pitches the sack of sandwiches to him, the old man turns and starts running.
           Cooper fires a shot up into the air, the old man is running faster as a pizza delivery car has to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting him. The old man slams his fist down on the hood and then continues running.
            CD is laughing and slapping Cooper on the back.
            "He sure ain't favoring no leg now, is he son?”
           "No grandpa, he ain't!” Cooper smiles as he lays the open shotgun over his shoulder.
            The young man delivering the pizza stares at  Cooper, CD, and Alex and then back to the fleeing man.
           "I'm not even gonna ask what is happening, because every time I make a delivery out here---I feel like I'm risking my life! The last time was tree stumps being blown into the air, before that----a wild horse was running through your 4th of July picnic---I got to get another job----that will be $32.50 Mrs. Walker!
            "Thank you Kevin, I will get you my credit card, and add $20.00 for your tip!
            As Alex goes to retrieve her card, Cooper opens up one of the pizzas, grabs a slice and hands the box to CD. He stares back at Kevin, smacking his lips.
            "It's a good thing these pizzas are still hot, or I might have to empty this other barrel on that piece of junk that you call a car!”
            "Up yours Cooper---thanks to that lunatic, I have a big dent in my hood! Who's gonna pay for that?”
            Cooper grabs some chicken wings.
            "That's your problem, pizza boy---hey where's the bar-b-cue sauce for my wings?”
            Alex signs for the pizza, and Kevin is hustling to his car. He takes another look at the dent in his hood, turns and flips Cooper the 'bird'.
            Alex shakes her head---"I'm going to have a nice long, hot, bubbly bath-----and try to get some of my sanity back!”


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

Waco:


            Angela is having a late dinner with friends, and JW.
            "So, how about it Angela---some of the gang is going down to Padre Island next weekend, you want to go?”
            Before she can answer, JW speaks for her.
            "Sorry, but Angela and I have other plans next weekend.  Right Angela?”
            "
I wasn't aware of any plans, what are you talking about?”
            "My Mother is coming in from Chicago, I told her we would meet her for dinner, spend the weekend with her!”
            Angela takes a deep breath, trying to keep her voice calm.
            "In the future you might inform me of plans that you include me in----and I have made other plans ---myself!”
            "What plans?”
            "That's none of your business, JW. I told you before you transferred here to Baylor that I have my own life to live---you are not going to tell me where to go. I am going home for the weekend, if you think you have to know!”
            Their friends watch the two as they argue.
            "Well, why didn't you say so? I'm sure your folks would love to see my Mom again---we can all make an evening of it!”
            Angela stands up, leaving her share of the bill on the table.
           "Thanks guys, enjoyed the evening----I'm going back to the dorm---goodnight!”
           "Wait a minute, Angela, I'll come with you!”
            "No JW, I have my own car---I'm going back to campus-----alone!"
            JW slams his part of the bill down on the table and runs after Angela.
           "Would you stop, please? I'm sorry I didn't tell you about my Mother coming in---she wants to spend time with both of us!'
            "You can spend time with your Mother----leave me out of it----there is no 'WE' anymore---I told you that JW!”
            JW continues to argue with Angela. He stops and stares at her.
            "O.k. out with it, Angela--who are you hurrying back to campus to see? It can't be that nerd I saw you with earlier, is it?”
            Angela throws her long auburn hair over her shoulder, her blue eyes bore into JW's.
            "If you are referring to Jacob---he is no nerd as you put it.  He's just a friend, not that it's any of your business!”
            "Angela, are you alright?”
            Angela turns to see her dinner friends walking towards them.
            "Yes, Sadie---I'm fine!”
            "You don't look fine to us!” Answers Sadie's boyfriend Jake.
            Jake is a huge young man, a local jock into all the sports.
            JW turns on him, "You can mind your own business you overgrown Neanderthal!”
            Jake looks to Sadie, "What did he call me?”
            "Never mind, honey----Angela, do you need for us to follow you back to campus?”
            Angela shakes her head and heads for her car, JW starts to follow her and Jake grabs him by the collar.
            "Leave her alone JW, I ain't telling you again!”
           "Or what, you big Ox----you do know what an OX is---don't you?”
           "All I'm saying is, I'm going to bust your face if you don't leave her alone!”
            JW grins as he looks to Sadie and then back to Jake.
            "Ohhh, I get it----you're 'banging her', aren't you? Sadie, did you know your boyfriend is 'banging' Angela---I saw the way he kept staring at her all through our meal---that's it, isn't it?  Congratulations, you've succeeded where many others have failed----how was she---is she good in the sack---did she blow you?”
            "JW?”
            JW turns to the voice and a foot goes to his groin, as he bends down to grab his privates, a fist goes to his face! He looks up to see Angela staring back at him, her mouth is tightly set.
            "Stay out of my life, JW---or the next time---I will make sure you don't get up!”
            Angela walks quickly to her car and drives away, leaving her friends and JW in total shock.


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

 

Walker ranch:
       

Early morning
            Walker is fixing coffee as Cooper comes stumbling into the kitchen, half asleep.
            "Looks like you had a late night, want some coffee?”
            "Yeah, that sounds good. Are you cooking breakfast?”
            "Yep, your Mother told me about what happened last night. Did you even get any sleep, I noticed my shotgun is not over the door?”
            Cooper yawns and takes the cup of coffee, adding sugar and cream.
            "Off and on, something is weird about that man, Dad.  I was suspicious of him right from the start, made my neck hairs stand up!”
            Walker smiles to himself, grabs the pancakes from the stove, sitting a big stack in front of his son.
            "Bacon will be ready in a sec---what made you suspicious, son?”
           Cooper shoves the pancakes down, then rises to get the milk out of the frig. He downs half the carton.
            "Get a glass
            "Well, he was dressed the part of a vagrant, ragged clothes and all---but it was his hands!”
            "His hands?”
            "Yes sir, his nails were too clean to have been on the road like he said he was. Pretended to be lame in his right leg, but didn't seem to bother him none when I fired the shotgun over his head. He took off like bat out of hell---I'll bet he's still running!”
            Walker brings the bacon and more pancakes to the table, then sits down to eat.
            "Your Mother said he was Spanish, have you ever seen him before?”
            Cooper shakes his head, and tries to talk while eating.
            "No sir---just weird acting. I kept getting up and looking outside, but I didn't let Mom know what I was doing---didn't want to worry her none!”
            Walker looks to his son and smiles, "Very observant!”
            "I'm so grateful that you were home and knew how to handle things, thanks son!”
            Cooper nods, "So, what did you find out down on the border?”
            Walker relays his story and the security being heavier.
            "What do you think is going on?”
            Before Walker can answer, he hears Ray coming through the front door.
            "Breakfast is ready--your favorite---pancakes!”
            The tension is still there between Ray and his Father.
            "I'm not hungry, I ate at Pee Wee's.
            Cooper turns around, "Well in that case, go get ready for church!”
            "I ain't going to church today!”
            "Oh yes, you are! Mom said she wanted both of us in church today, so get upstairs and get dressed!”
            Ray takes a deep sigh and turns around.
            "Take a shower!” Cooper shouts back.
            "I took a shower already---at Pee Wee's
            "Well, take another one---you stink!”
            Walker sighs as he listens to Cooper giving his baby brother orders.
            "Did your Mother say that, or is that 'you' talking?”
            Cooper has finished his coffee and starting on another. He refreshes his Dad's cup.
            "Well, Mom sort of hinted that she wanted us there, are you going?”
            "I hadn't planned on it, I got some work to do---but I guess I will.”
            “Then get upstairs and get dressed!”
            "Excuse me?”
            "
Oh, I'm sorry Dad, I thought I was still talking to Ray----you know- caught up in the moment! You two look an awful lot a like---you know----but ----Ray is shorter and you have the beard
            "Yeah--right---you better stop while you're ahead, bub!”
            "Oh, uh Dad---I'm singing in the choir today. Can I borrow your gray western cut jacket?”
            "I reckon, but you better not rip a sleeve out like you did on the black jacket! Now---I got to figure out what to wear!”
            Cooper clears his throat, "Uh Dad, I knew what to do last night because---I've learned from the best!”
            Walker's chest swells with his pride, as he whispers, "Thank you, son
            He passes his wife on the stairs, she turns around and shouts.
            "Where are you going?”
            "Church!”
            "But, you said you had work to do!”
            "
Changed my mind or rather someone changed it for me!”


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

 

Angela has met the family at church ,and like many of the others in the parish, she has missed Cooper's singing in the choir. 
            "
You sounded great, Cooper---I love that song "Further Away'---it's so beautiful!”
            "Thanks, Angela. It feels good to be singing again, but I sure missed Cordell backing me up
            "
I miss him too, but it's hard to say anything around Mom---it just starts her crying again", she replies rubbing her right hand.
            "What's wrong with your hand?”
            "Nothing!”  She pulls her hand back, "just a little sore, I accidentally  got it caught---in the car door----it's nothing!”
            Walker and Alex have been talking to their pastor, inviting him home for Sunday dinner, Angela runs up to them.
            "Daddy, I need a new car--mine is falling apart!”
            "Well, hello to you too, daughter? Don't I even get a hug first before we start talking about a new car?”
            She hugs her parents, "I'm sorry---but Daddy that stupid car died on me twice getting here!”
            "O.k., o.k, I'll swing by the junk yard and pick you up a cheap little clunker!”
            "DADDY!!!!!
            "
I'm only kidding, baby---we'll talk about it at dinner. Brother Bob is joining us!”
            "Well, someone better follow me home---in case it dies on me again!”
            Cooper laughs, "You probably just need the carburetor cleaned out, are you sure you got gas in it?   I'll ride home with you!"
            "Can I come too, sissy?”
            Walker shakes his head as Ray goes running to his sister's car.
            Alex takes her husband's hand, "He's just going through that faze, honey----he'll come around.  He won't stay angry with you.”
            "I don't know what to say or do to regain his love. And, have you noticed how close he's getting to Cooper?”
            "Yes, I have noticed and I think it's great that he and Cooper are getting closer----since-----Cordell----is not here. Ray and Cooper always argued a lot, but his older brother is paying more attention to him now."
            "I need to do something, Alex---I can't stand it when my own son won't talk to me!”
            "I know how it's hurting you---but let's try to get through dinner. I'm fixing one of your favorites!”
            "Chicken and dumplings?”
            "
No honey---fried okra with smothered steak, covered in country gravy. And, maybe Angela can bake a pineapple upside down cake for dessert?”
            Walker smiles, "Fried okra----when do I get my chicken and dumplings?”
            Alex laughs, "Soon honey---maybe for Thanksgiving?”
            "But, that's weeks away---I have to wait that long?”
            "O.k. sweetheart---I will make some for today's dinner, does that satisfy you?”
            "I don't know, you think Brother Bob likes dumplings too? If so you're going to have to make a bigger batch!”
            "Honey, let's just get home---in case Cordell calls?”


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

 

Part 9

 

Walker ranch:

The trip down to the border still lays heavy on the ranger's mind as he lies in his bed. A voice calls out from the shower.

            "What did you say honey?”

            "I said that things down in McAllen were getting pretty secretive, more security moving in but everyone is on 'stand down---not doing anything!"

            Alex comes from out of the shower, towel drying her hair. She sits on the edge of the bed.

            "Well, what did you expect from a president that has done very little since his election? He keeps sending weapons to Mexico and Mexico sends us their illegal aliens!”

Walker stares vacantly at the ceiling, remembering his and Trivette's argument earlier. He doesn't want to mention how worried he is about Cordell being so close to not only Mexico, but Honduras as well and their 'drug trafficking'.  He decides to get on a safer subject.

"I've got to do something about Ray and that attitude that he's gotten! I've tried apologizing, but he acts like he doesn't hear me. I don't know what else to do, Alex!”

            Alex is now applying lotion to her legs.

            "I know you are trying, Walker, but you're not the only one he's angry at!”

            "Are you saying he's angry with you, why? What the hell did you do?”

            She turns around and hands the lotion to her husband, pointing to her back as the bath towel falls away. Walker rises up and scoots down to the middle of their bed and takes the lotion.

            "It's not what I've done, but what I haven't done. I haven't been going to his last bull rides---before he was put on suspension for wearing those spurs. I've just been so worried about Cordell and where he's at, that I can't concentrate on anything else! And, Ray has sensed that I'm not interested, which isn't true!”

            Walker rubs the lotion onto her shoulders, smelling its fragrance.

            "Nice smell, where's the usual lilac that you always wear?”

            "I thought I would switch to this one for a while, do you really like it?"

            "Oh yeah!” He replies kissing her shoulder, "got a nice taste too!”

            She giggles her little laugh, "It's called tropical passion---a light quench of several fruits from the islands.”

            He kisses her other shoulder and slightly takes a nibble.

            "No wonder I'm getting hungry----in more ways than one!”

            "Well---I have a suggestion---about our baby son---that is. Why don't you take him on a camping trip---like the 'survival trips' that you used to take all of us on? He never got to do any of that!”

            "I'm not so sure he would like the kind of camping trips that the twins always enjoyed. He doesn't even go with his scout troop anymore. He says it's boring!”

            Alex stands up and slips a flimsy little 'teddy' on-- sans the undies.

            Walker slides back up to his side of the bed and she slides in beside him, going into his arms.  She begins massaging his chest.

            "Honey, it wouldn't hurt to suggest it.”

            "I know hon; I'm willing to try anything to make mends with Ray. I will make the suggestion at breakfast tomorrow. ------And, by the way---what was the other 'suggestion' you were talking about?”

            "Do I really have to 'lay it out for you, cowboy---you're slipping!”

            He rolls over on his side and lets his hands do some exploring as he kisses her neck.

            "Woman, I said I was hungry and right now it's not food I'm hungry for!”

            "OOOOh cowboy, it's been a few weeks, are you sure you're up to the challenge? I sat in on a case today that included some S&M 'kinkiness---want to try---one or two?”

            His brow dances, "Just don't hurt me-----be gentle!”

            "Oh, I promise to be very gentle----now where's that  'cat of nine tails' and my whip!”
           
He smiles, "Welll---don't be too gentle---I can take it!”


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

 

The Walkers are having breakfast and the ranger has suggested the trip to the reservation to his baby son.

"Well, what do you think? Would you like to go up there next weekend?”
            Ray is picking at his eggs and bacon.
            "Not really---do I have to?”
            The ranger is trying to keep his anger intact.
            "No, you don't have to go---but I sure would like it, if you would. I want to show you where your grandfather John and Uncle Ray were born and raised, along with some of your other relatives on my side of the family!”
            Ray smirks and leans back in his chair, crossing his arms.
            "I guess I'll have to think about it!”
            "You have to let me know for sure that you are going so I can make the plans to take a couple of days off.”
            Alex clears her throat.
            "Well, young man---while you are thinking about it---sit up to the table and eat! No elbows on the table---where are your manners?”
            Ray pulls himself up to the table and mutters.
            "I don't know, on vacation!  I guess!”
            Walker slams his coffee cup down.
            "Well, you better get them off of vacation, damn quick! And, don't smart off to your Mother like that, do you hear me?”
           
The boy sits up straight. "Yeah, I hear you!”
            Walker keeps staring at Ray and Cooper reaches over and nudges Ray.
            "Hey little brother, you better lose the attitude real quick--or you're going to be introduced to that hickory switch in the barn---you should have been introduced to it years ago!”
            "Oh, shut up! It's your fault that I got put on suspension and can't ride for another two months!”
            "Ray Gordon, you got exactly one second to apologize to your Mother and to your brother----or we will be taking a little trip!”
           
Ray swallows hard, "I'm sorry Mama, I'm sorry Cooper!”
            Walker gets up and heads to his coffee pot, now Alex is staring at Ray and shaking her head.
            "I can't believe that you are acting this way, what has happened to you? And furthermore you don't say 'yeah' when we ask you a question."
            "Yes ma'am, I'm sorry.”
            Walker returns to the table.
            "Ray, I know you don't like me very much right now and you may even hate me---but you will show me respect, is that clear?”
            "Yes, Daddy----I mean yes sir!”
            'There's not going to be any more relaxing on your manners--no more 'yeahs' or 'nopes'---when your Mother or I ask you a question. It's called 'respect' and you are going to learn it. You will answer 'no sir' and 'yes ma'am' is that clear?”
            "Yeah,----- I mean yes sir, yes sir, Daddy. Can I be excused from the table, Mama?”
            "No, you 'may' not, you have not finished eating!”
            Ray finishes his breakfast, "Now, can I?”
            "It's 'may I' leave the table, not 'can I?" answers Cooper.
            Ray shoots his big brother a glare, and then asks again for permission to leave.
            "You will take your plate to the dish washer, rinse it off and place it in the dishwasher the proper way. Then you will come back and wipe you place mat off.”
            "Yes, Daddy!”
            The boy does as he is told and then comes back to the table.
            "May I be excused to get ready for school now, Daddy?”
            Walker nods his head.
            The table is now quiet as Cooper sighs, and then takes his plate to the dishwasher.
            He returns and refreshes Walker's coffee and gets more juice for his Mother.
            "Don't take it too hard Dad. Heck, look how many times Cordell and I had to learn the rules and etiquette and we turned out alright, especially me! I'm perfect!!
            The look in his eyes tells Cooper he best not say anything more at this time.
            Cooper reaches over and kisses his Mother's cheek, and grabs another biscuit.
            "Well, 'any who'- I'm out of here, got to get to school, got my book report done on time---that will make the teachers happy. I'll drop off Ray at his school!
            The Walker house is quiet, as they slowly finish their breakfast.


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


Late evening:

       

Cooper is in the basement exercising, as Ray slowly walks down the stairs.
            "Hey squirt, get over here and 'spar' with me.”
            "I don't want to, you hit too hard!”
            "I'll take it easy on you, put the 'shin guards' on, that's where I'll be aiming!”
            Ray breathes a deep sigh and reaches for the leg protectors. They are made of heavy plastic, Velcro straps around the legs and then tighten.    
            After a good ten minutes, Ray throws his hands up---"I give---you said you wouldn't hit hard!”
            "I'm not hitting you that hard; you're not moving your body to the punches!”
            "Just the same, I quit---hit something else!”
            Cooper then drags the BOB out. (body opponent bag) used for hitting the upper part of your opponent. Ray watches as Cooper goes fervently at the bag, first with his fists, then his bare feet, and back with his fists! Cooper turns backwards and practices kicking, first on one foot and then the other.
            "O.k. squirt---your time and hit it like you mean it---get your helmet on!”
            Ray is trying hard to match his brother's kicks and timing.
            "Wait a minute, what are you doing Ray?”
            "Trying to do what you are doing, what else?”
            Cooper shakes his head.
            "First of all you're not me, and never will be! You have to be yourself and know what your body can do. Size your opponent up, and visualize where the fatal areas are, then attack!”
            Again Ray goes at it; he sees the disappointment in his brothers' eyes. He takes his gloves off and throws them down.
            "I quit---o.k
            "What's wrong with you Ray, and why have you stopped practicing? You should have at least one of your black belts by now!”
            "It's boring; I don't like doing it anymore. Daddy used to practice with me, but he's too busy!”
            "The old man has a lot on his plate right now, his job, worrying about Cordell, and worrying about how Cordell's leaving is affecting Mom--give him a break! I'm here for you, I will spar with you!”
            "But, Daddy doesn't have any time for me; it's always someone else first!"
            Cooper sits down on the mat and motions for Ray to sit beside him.
            "Look little bro', you better wise up---you're not a baby anymore! And, the way you've been acting lately is taking a toll on the old man---you almost gotten taken to the barn. And if you ask me, its years overdue!"
            "He was just getting on to me because I wasn't saying 'yes sir and no ma'am'. What is so important about saying that stuff, none of my friends have to!”
            "Because your friends are little assholes! I've heard the way they talk to their parents---and that's how you want to be?”
            "Maybe!”
            "
It's that attitude that's going to get you in trouble, Ray---because you have a big mouth that can't back it up!”
            "I've heard you say some stuff that wasn't nice when you're around your friends!”
           "That's just it. Ray---I talk that way when I'm around my friends--but have you ever heard me talk that way to our parents? No, you have not and you never will---it's called 'respect' little brother---and you better learn it! Not only with our parents, but others too!”
            "
Why is it so important?”
           "Because it just is!! You can't go through life talking and acting like you do, because someone will knock the hell out of you for it! Now days it doesn't take much for some idiot to take a knife out and slit your throat! Also--look what's happening on the news now with all of those idiots that are doing the 'knockouts' to complete strangers, mostly the elderly that can't fight back! That's the road you're on Ray, not having any remorse for what you are saying and doing!”
            "I still don't understand why I have to have 'manners' as Mama puts it?”
            "Someday Ray, you will have kids---do you want them talking to you like you talk to Mom and Dad?”
            "I ain't never having kids, so I don't care how they would talk.”
            Cooper shakes his head in anger.
            "You are really wrapped up in yourself, aren't you? I'm telling you Ray, you're heading for a lot of pain if you don't try to change. Everything can't go your way; you have to 'give' respect to 'get it' in return!”
            Ray rises off the mat and kicks out hard at the body bag.
            "Then, will Daddy like me?”
            "Like you? Bro', Dad loves you; he loves you just as much as he does the rest of us. He knows that he hasn't been around for you like he was for Angela and me and Cordell. It's not his fault that you were born almost nine years later after Cordell and me. He's trying to make up for the distance, but you got to meet him halfway!”
            "I've never got to do all the fun things that all of you have done. Going on camping trips, Disney world, and all of those fun things!”
            "
Fun things, huh? Well, let me tell you something little brother, all of the things we have done have not all been 'fun things'! How many times have you had to get up before the sun and do chores in all kinds of weather, before going to school?  Huh, how many? Cordell and I were doing all of these things when we were a lot younger than you are now, and we didn't complain about it either. Because we knew that was how it was---living on a ranch---we had to work!”
            "But, Daddy has ranch hands for all of that!”
            "The ranch hands take care of the stock, the round-ups, the branding and the breaking of horses. We had to learn all of that too, but we started out by milking the cows when we were half asleep, baling hay, plowing the fields, learning to mend fences, do I have to go on?”
            "You had to do all of that stuff?”
            "Yes Ray, we had to do it, because we were helping Dad--he couldn't do it all!
            "If you didn't, would he punish you?”
            "No Ray, we never got punished because he knew we were helping him--and the truth is---Cordell and I liked being with Dad. He was teaching us to learn the life of a rancher! All you've ever been asked to do is small things like feeding the chickens, bringing in the eggs, and do minor things in the barn---cleaning out stalls. And, you were always complaining. You never got up at daybreak to do your chores and that is why the roosters were always attacking you. He didn't want his 'girls' disturbed!”
            Ray mutters, "I hate roosters!”
            "Well, they don't like you either!"
            "Do you think I should go with Daddy up to the reservation next week?”
            "You have to make that decision, little bro---but if I were you---I would think long and hard about it! It might be the biggest decision you'll have to make---now get of here while I get back to my practice!”
            Ray begins picking up barbells and putting them in their place.
            "I'll help you, if you want me to. Do you think I'll ever be as good as you or Cordell? You're not afraid of anything or anyone, are you?”
            "Dad always says that there is always someone out there that is better than you, and you have to be prepared for losing---but you have to know how to handle that loss and don't let it control your future!”
            Ray nods his head, "Daddy is not afraid of anyone either, is he?”
            "Well, I wouldn't be so sure of that, --- he walks softly around Mom. But, it's because he loves her!”
            Ray turns and heads up the stairs.
            Cooper is punching the bag softly.
            "Damn it, I'm a fine one to be giving advice. Cordell, I needed to talk to you that night, why wouldn't you listen?”

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

 

Part 10

Reservation/badlands of Oklahoma

            Walker's return to the reservation has been a bitter/sweet memory. His fears have come true about not having any of his Father's relatives left living there.

            He sees new buildings have been built; different families that are now wearing the more modern attire in clothing and more automobiles line the paved street.

            He sighs deeply as he looks over to his baby son who is playing a game on one of those 'confounded' cell phones or IPads, whatever they are called. He throws the Ram into park and replies.

            "We're here Ray, now can you stop playing that game long enough so we can find someone that still remembers my people?”

            "Can't stop right now, Daddy---I've almost beat my best level!”

            "Now Ray! Put it away and pay attention!”

            The boy mutters to himself and then puts the phone away. He looks out the window, his brow arches.

            "Is this it; is this what we drove 5 hours to see? It's a dump!”

            Walker is trying to hold his temper.

            "THIS is where your Grandfather John's people were born, or at least some of them. Let's check out that old building over there, that's where the tribal chiefs used to meet and make their laws!”

            Ray exits then slams the door of the Ram, Walker cringes.

            "Do you think you might slam it a little harder next time?”

            "I'm sorry", Ray answers. "I didn't know I was slamming it so hard!”

            The men standing outside the old building stare at the strangers. Walker mentions several names that he can recall; the men keep shaking their heads.

            "I can't believe that no one remembers any of the elders---I thought for sure that Red Fox would still be around!”

            Ray looks around and then to Walker.

            "Could we please get something to eat before we head home?”

            They spot an eating place and they head in that direction.

            An old man sees them; he keeps rubbing his eyes and tries to shout out to the bearded man.

            "Washo!”

            Walker stops, "I don't believe it--it's Red Fox---come on son, I want you to meet one of you grandfather's best friends!”

            Ray looks back to the cafe, and then reluctantly follows his Father.

            Walker and the old man embrace, the old man is in tears.

            "Washo, you've come back--we have waited for you for many moons, the hunt begins!”

            "The hunt? What are you talking about, Red Fox?”

            "They are few Washo, but the ground still shakes---we hunt at the next full moon. Right, Washo?”

            "What's he talking about, Daddy?”

            Walker smiles and pulls Ray over closer to him, resting his hands on the boy's shoulders.

            "He's talking about the buffalo, son. Red Fox, this is my son, Ray.”

            Red Fox stares down at Ray, chanting something in Cherokee.

            "Daddy?

            "It's o.k. Ray, he's talking about your 'name sake'---your great Uncle Ray."

           The old man circles Ray, and then he touches Ray's arms. The boy jerks away and instantly goes into his fighting stance, with his fists raised.

            "Don't touch me old man

            "Ray! Stop it, he doesn't mean any harm! This is just his way to see----how-----you're built. It's one of the ways that young warriors back in his day were 'inspected' on what kind of warrior you would be!”

            "Couldn't he just ask, and not touch?”

            Walker tries talking to the old man in his broken Cherokee, the old man smiles.

            "Why is he smiling like that?”

            Walker frowns, "I'm not sure, my Cherokee is a little rusty. I either told him that you were very strong-----or else I might have said that you were ---well--- never mind! Ray, shake hands with Red Fox!”

            "Do I have to?”

            "It's out of respect Ray! Remember how we said we were going to work on that, being respectful to your elders?”

            The boy reaches out and shakes the old man's hand, then draws it back quickly.

            Walker and Red Fox begin talking and young Ray walks off a few feet to watch some young boys playing baseball. The boys stare back at him and walk towards him.

            "Hi, wanna play?”

            "No, I don't want to play---I'm just waiting on my Daddy to stop talking so we can go eat!

            "After you eat, you want to play? We need a good catcher?”

            "No, after we eat, we're going home----getting out of this dump!”

            The taller boy walks up to Ray.

            "Hey, watch what you are saying! We live here!”

            Ray laughs, "That's your problem, not mine!”

            "Ray, get over here!”

            Young Ray goes stomping back.

            "What was that all about? Those boys just wanted you to play with them! Why were you so rude?”

            "I don't feel like playing baseball, I want to eat and then I want to go home!”

            Walker's temper is rising as he takes a deep breath.

            "Listen Ray, and listen good. We are here for the weekend, whether you like it or not, we're staying! Got that?”

            The boy nods his head, "Can we please eat, I'm hungry!”

            Walker invites Red Fox to eat with them and they head back to the cafe. While his Father and the old man are talking about old times, Ray is shoving hamburgers down.

            "I am sorry Washo, but everyone has 'passed over'---or they have moved on--to other places. Like big cities.  Snake Eyes----is still here---remember him? He remembers you!”
            Walker smirks and Ray looks back at his Father.
            "Who or what is a Snake Eyes?”
            Red Fox laughs. "Your Father fought with Snake Eyes and his brother Crow man---he beat them bad, shame them in front of  village--- they deserved the beating they got----and more.!”
            "What did they do to you, Daddy?”
            "It wasn't me they were trying to hurt, it was White Eagle----but I will tell you about that later---o.k. son?”
            "I guess, what do we do now, watch the grass grow
            "No, we unload the horses and we ride up into the sweet grass country!”
            "What's that?”
            "I'll explain it on the way, but we need to go now---before it gets too dark. No full moon tonight and our horses are not used to the trails leading up there----don't want to risk one of them breaking a leg!”
            Walker bids Red Fox goodbye and he and Ray head North East. Young Ray is taking in the scenery as Walker watches his son's reactions.
            "I wish you could have seen this part of the country when I was about your age, it was really beautiful back then, except at that time I didn't seem to think so. The twins took this ride with me close to about twelve years ago. They really loved it, and I hope that you will give it a chance Ray---just half a chance will do!”
            "I'll try, but I've been camping before with my scout troop, what's so different about this time?”
            Walker pulls back on the reins of his horse and Ray stops along beside him.
            "Because it's just us---you and me son---I'm just trying to 'bond' with you. I know I've wasted a lot of years, but I'm trying to make it up to you, will you give me that chance?”


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

      

Walker Ranch:

 

            Alex and Angela are having lunch at the mall before Angela has to head back to campus.
            "So, how are you enjoying driving Cordell's car, do you like it?”
            "It scares me, sort of. It's got all of those fancy gadgets on the dash, not to mention it's so fast!”
            Alex laughs, "Well it is different from your little car.  Do you think you are going to choose the same kind that Cordell has?”
            "I don't know, Mom---it's really nice and it sure gets a lot of attention from the kids on campus, but I'm not into all of the fast engines, and stuff---but I sure like the color. What kind of gray is that?”
            Alex shakes her head, "I'm not sure, I think he called it a 'bullet gray', no I could have sworn he said it was 'billet'---I really don't know, Angela---your Dad and Cooper could tell you in a second!”
            Angela laughs, "And that interior is out of this world---but Cooper's is even wilder. Black on black, even the rims are black!”
            "Yep, but that's what he wanted, and he chose the Mustang instead of staying with a Dodge like your Father wanted him to do.!”
            "Cooper's would be too hard to keep clean, not that he worries about keeping it that way! I am constantly cleaning my shoes off before getting into Cordell's---just like everything else he owns, it's spotless! I won't let anyone get into Cordell's car with food or drink----and definitely not smoking!”
            "Well, your Father said that Steve at the Dodge House is looking into several autos that you might like. So when you come home next week, it will probably be in the driveway, waiting for you!”
            "Mom, are you feeling alright, you look tired?”
            Alex smiles and pats her daughter's hand.
            "I'm fine; I just miss these little Mother/daughter moments!”
            "Me too. I'm so glad that Daddy and Ray are trying to work things out. I got to admit, my baby brother has sure gotten a 'mouth' on him in the last year. He used to be so quiet, half the time you never knew he was around and now----he questions everything with an attitude!”
            "I've noticed that too, but since Cordell left (Alex's voice cracks)----Ray has gotten closer to Cooper!”
            Angela smirks, "Now we know where he has gotten that 'mouth'--from Cooper!”
            "Actually, Cooper has changed too. Sometimes he acts like something is bothering him. Every time Moose comes around, your brother gets into a grumpy mood!”

Angela becomes quiet, letting her fingers tap her cup of tea.
            "Sweetheart, is something wrong, is it JW?”
      "Who else? Guess I'd better tell you what happened and I know it won't do any good to tell you not to tell Daddy---JW and I had an 'altercation'!”
            "What kind of 'altercation', did he hurt you?”
            "No Mom, he was spouting off to some friends of mine and I hit him--twice! Once was in the 'nuts'!
            "Oh my God, what could he have possibly said to make you hit him-- there--not that he probably didn't deserve it?”
            "You don't want to know Mom, but I told him to stay out of my life---I want nothing to do with him!”
            Alex nods her head.
            "I told you it wasn't a good thing for him to change colleges---he just did it so he can keep an eye on you.  That's 'stalking' Angela!”'!
            "I know that Mom, and I told him I was moving on with my life and he can date and sleep with as many girls as he wants to---I don't care anymore!"
            Alex smiles, "Are you seeing someone 'special'?
            "Sort of, his name is Jacob--we've studied together and went to the movies, but it's nothing serious. Especially after he confessed that he was converting to Islam, and asked me to convert with him!”
            Alex is choking on her tea, "What----what did you say?”
           
"Relax Mom, I told him 'NO WAY IN HELL' would I do that. And then, I asked him if he was tired of living because Daddy would kill him if he ever heard him even suggesting that to me. So, we soon got off another subject and started talking about tennis, another subject that Daddy despises!”
            Alex breathes a sigh of relief, "Well, young lady I wouldn't be too happy about that Islam suggestion either---and you might remind this young man that I am the Head District Attorney in Harris county---and he is in my jurisdiction!"
            They stare at each other and then burst out laughing.
            Alex hesitates then replies.
            "I had to stop by Gus' to get gas the other day----Matt asked about you!”
            Angela's blue eyes light up, the she pretends it doesn't affect her.
            "Really, how is he?”
            "He said he was still racing his bike--almost every weekend. As a matter of fact he mentioned that he would be racing this coming weekend in Ennis, that's right up the road from Waco----isn't it?”
            "Yes Mom, you know darn well how close it is to my college---actually Matt mentioned  that when I talked to him a couple of weeks ago!”
            "And? Are you going to watch him race?”
            "
I don't think so, I heard he was dating some girl---she's in his bike club. And, I was also told that 'she' is----rather willing?”
            Alex sips her tea slowly, and then takes her daughter's hand.
            "Sweetheart, neither of you have 'ties on the other' he's perfectly right in seeing other girls, you said you were seeing Jacob---so what is the difference?”
            "I'm not sleeping with Jacob, that's the difference!”
           "Angela, I don't like butting into your 'love life' but------
            "What love life? The furthest I've gone with Jacob is just a kiss and that was on the cheek!”
            "Then what would it hurt to go and watch Matt race?  Just take it one day at a time----I think he really wants to see you again."

Angela shakes her head, "After what he said, do you want me to forgive him?

"Look how many times you've forgiven JW---you just said you were with him a few days go---and how long will it be till you're forgiving him again?”
           Angela looks at her watch, "I'll think about it! But, right now I got to get back to campus; I have an early PSYCH class Monday morning! Imagine that? Here I am studying psychology, the study of the human mind and I can't even figure my own mind out!! By the way Mom, I need $400.00 for some new books!”
           "New books---for what subject?”
            The girl sighs, reaches over and kisses her Mother's cheek.
            "Books on Catholicism, I think I'll become a Nun!!!!”


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


            It's late evening when Walker and Ray reach their destination, and it too is a disappointment for the ranger.
            Ray is unsaddling the horses as he watches the look on his Father's face. Ray looks around him, seeing only tall grass, rocks, and trees. A small stream flows past the camp ground that they have chosen.
            "Daddy, what do we have to eat for supper, I'm getting hungry?”
            Walker turns around and points to the stream.
            "Our food is in that stream, should be some nice catfish!”
            "We can't fish, we didn't bring fishing poles!”
            Walker points to some trees, "Our fishing poles are in those trees! Other words, we make our own fishing poles!”
            Ray frowns.
            "Are we going to be playing Indian, like you have mentioned in your stories when we were kids?”
            "Yes, we are son! Here, take this axe and chop off a couple of nice long branches to use as poles!”
            Ray stares down at the axe, "Are you serious? We don't have any fishing line, or hooks?”
            Walker stares back at his son.
            "Listen Ray, I intentionally didn't bring any food, because I am going to teach you how to live off the land---the same way I taught your sister and the twins. Now, the sooner you bring back the branches, we'll make the fishing poles!”
            Ray throws the axe to the ground. "Not me, I'm going home!”
            Walker watches as Ray goes to saddle his horse.
            "Fine, do you know which direction is home?”
            "Of course I do----back the way we came!”
            The boy points backwards and then he looks the other way and back again.
            Walker sits down on a rock and pulls his canteen of water out, taking a long drink.
            "Well, after you figure which way to go---you better leave now---the sun is almost setting. It will be dark soon, be careful that your horse doesn't step into a golfer hole and breaks his leg---cause then you'll be walking!”
            Ray pulls the saddle back off and kicks it to the ground.
            "I want to go home, I don't like this 'living' off the land----I'm hungry Daddy---let's go home!”
            Walker says nothing as picks up the axe and goes to the nearest tree and cuts off a small branch about 6 feet long. Ray swallows hard as he remembers how the twins always talked about a hickory switch in the barn.
            Walker walks past him goes up to one of the horses' rear ends, grabs the tail and pulls out several long strands of hair. He then ties them together to make one long strand, tying it to the narrow end of the branch.  He reaches into his boot for his RAMBO knife,--opens the knob of the handle and takes out a needle.  Next he threads one of the horse's tail hairs through the needle, ties the end up and looks back to his son who is staring back with wide open eyes!
            "Well, I'm going fishing for my supper---see you later!”
            "You don't have any bait!” Ray yells out to him.
            "There's lots of bait near the stream, you just got to look for it!”
            Ray curses under his breath. Finally he goes back to his horse and pulls out several strands of hair at one time. His reward is a kick backwards from the horse, causing Ray to fall down. He stands up and curses his horse. Finally he goes to the tree and spots the smallest branch he can reach, hacks halfway through it, and then the branch splits in half. Again the boy throws the axe down and starts swearing.  Finally he selects a thicker branch and then joins his Father who has already caught his supper. A nice fat catfish.
            Ray's mouth is drooling at he stares back at the fish.
            "Can I have one of those needles?”
            "I don't know, 'can you?”
            "O.k., may I have a needle?”
           
Walker tosses the knife to his son.
            "Better hurry, the sun is almost down. The fish will soon be going to sleep at the bottom and won't wake up til morning!”
            Ray shakes his head. "Give me a break, Daddy---I know fish never sleep!”
            Walker smiles as he pulls in another fish.
            "Well, suit yourself, I'm going to build a fire and cook 'my' supper!”
            It's almost two hours later before Ray catches anything, he comes back to the campfire, and reaches over to put his fish on the wooden 'spit' that Walker has made. Walker shoves it off.
            "Law of the land, you have to make your own fire and make your own 'spit'!
            Ray lowers his head and stands up to go in search for a thicker branch to use as his 'spit!”
            "Never mind, you care share mine this one time! I don't want you stumbling around in the dark; you might trip over a rattlesnake or a 'snipe!”  No use taking your anger out on them, they haven't done anything to you!”
            "What's a snipe?”
            "Never mind, just sit down and cook your fish!
            "Finally Ray is able to eat his fish as he is almost swallowing it whole.
            "Careful son, watch out for the bones!”
            Ray swallows, "Maybe if I got a bone caught in my throat, you would take me home-- finally!”
            "No, I would just turn you upside down until the bone came UN-lodged!”
            It's hours later as the two of them lay back on their bedrolls, Ray is looking up at the stars.
            "Daddy, how did you learn all that stuff? Did your Daddy teach you?”
            "Some of it, but your great Uncle Ray did most of the teaching. Because as I have told you kids, I didn't live on the reservation until after my parents were killed, then Uncle Ray raised me. He taught me how to be a Cherokee on the inside, and to know the way of my ancestors--so I would learn how to survive in both worlds!”
            "What was that trick with the horse's tail hairs?”
            "The native Indian learned all kinds of ways to survive and one of them was 'tricking the enemy."
            Ray rolls over and looks back to his Father, "Tricking the enemy, how?”
            "Well son, taking the hair from the horses' tail was also used to 'fake injury'. The braves would tie the hairs around the horse's leg, just above the hoof to make them limp. When the enemy thought they were easy prey, they would then attack. Unknown to the attackers, there would be other braves that would attack them, and so forth."

Ray ponders the scene in his head" That's like a 'sucker punch'- the other tribe didn't see it coming. Isn't that cheating?”
            "No son, it's called survival!”
            
"Are we going home in the morning?”
             "No Ray, we are staying till late Sunday night. If it wasn't for you having to go to school, we would be staying longer. I have many things I want to teach you!”
            Ray groans and turns over muttering.
            "What did you say, son?”
            "I said 'Thank goodness for school, something I thought I would never say
             The ranger smiles.

 

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

 

Part 11

 

Oklahoma Badlands:

 

Walker has awakened early, with a small ache in his side.  He walks away from the campground and explores some of the familiar sights around him. His thoughts go back to the first day that he met White Eagle, the tribal chief. He remembers his Uncle Ray taking him to White Eagle's camp grounds high up in the mountains that are now called the Wichita Mountains near Lawton, Oklahoma.

For the longest time White Eagle would not even acknowledge Walker's presence, just smoking a long peace pipe and the smell of a sweet aroma would feel the air.

"Uncle, why does he just sit there, saying nothing?”

            "He knows you're here, Washo---he will speak when he feels the time and the need to---be patient nephew!”

            Young Walker looks around him the three of them are in the middle of a field, nothing around them but the prairie and its inhabitants. He can smell the sweetness from the pipe.

            "Why doesn't he live in a teepee like the other chiefs, and what is that smell?”

            "White Eagle likes to be outside, to see the stars, to feel the air as it changes from night to dawn, and to feel all of the creatures that share the prairie with him. That smell in his pipe is called 'sweet grass'--he is mediating and talking to our 'gods'!

            "Gods? I thought there was only one God--that's what Mother always taught me!”

            Uncle Ray smiles, "In your Mother's belief, there is only one, but in your Father's world, there are many. The wind, water, sun, are all worshiped by different spirits---or Gods!”  A voice shatters the calmness of Walker's reverie to his childhood.
            Walker turns towards the voice, he sees Ray walking in circles.
            "I'm right here, Ray--what's the matter?”
            The boy holds his mouth tight, "I woke up and you was gone---where were you?”
            "I walked up on the rise over there, just looking at the lay of the land and remembering.

            Are you hungry?”
            "It depends! Are we going to have to catch more fish----for breakfast?”
            Walker starts folding up his bed roll and motions for Ray to do the same.
            "Nope, we're going to take a short ride towards that ravine over there and set up some traps to catch our dinner---hopefully a rabbit!”
            Ray drops his head, "Oh good grief, are we still 'living off the land?---I'll starve to death before we can catch anything. Isn't there a Mc Donald's close by?”
            "No Ray, the nearest one would be about a 100 miles from here! So, the sooner you get mounted, we can set those traps!”
            The little stream goes into a wider mouth of water, and there are some shade trees. They stake out the horses and then the lesson begins.
            Walker is showing Ray how to place the sticks and the snare (more horse hairs) to catch whatever little varmint that comes their way. He then pushes dry leaves all around the trap.
            "Is that it? What do we do in the meantime---starve?”
            Walker reaches into his back pack and pulls out a bag of dried beef jerky that Angela had made the weekend before.
            "Eat a couple of these and drink plenty of water, and fill your canteen before we leave!”
            "Leave---ARE WE FINALLY GOING HOME?”
            Walker shakes his head and walks away Ray hustles to catch up to him.
            "Look at the land, Ray.  Almost 200 years ago, this land was bare, like a different world. No electricity, running water, no damn cell phones and no fast food eating places! People had to kill to eat, and they had to learn the skill of killing or they would die! Are you studying American history?”
            "Yes Daddy, I know about the Indians and how the white man drove them off their land. Is that something to be proud of?”
            "No Ray, it wasn't!  But, with the white man came 'progress'! Trains to take us from one place to another, telegraph poles so we could communicate.  Also, the doctors that settled here in the west, medicine to treat the sick!”
            "
But Daddy, I've heard you say that you would like to go back to your childhood and live the way you did then!”
            They walk slowly beside the stream and Walker motions for Ray to sit down.
            "Yes son, I am guilty of saying that quite often. But, you can't live in the past, we only got one passage in life and what we make of it is our ticket to the Pearly gates!”
            "San Francisco?”
           
"I left myself wide open for that one, didn't I? No, Ray the Pearly Gates to heaven. Our final resting place and 'his' judgment!”
            Ray lowers his head, "Is that where Cherokee is now, being judged?”
            Walker reaches over and caresses his son's shoulder.
            "Your baby sister passed through the gates with no problem! She did nothing to be judged for, and she walks beside 'him'. She's happy son, and she's in no pain!”
            "Is this the place where some of your relatives died and went to heaven too?”
            "Yes, as far as your eyes can see--- all kinds of burials. From putting the body high on stilts, or other wooden frames---some were even buried in their canoes. Also, in some rituals, when a brave or chief had died in battle, their prize horse, or wife would be buried with them!   And, I might add---they were not already dead!”
            "They were killed so they could be buried with that person, that's cruel!”
            "Some may see it as cruel, but the Pharaohs of Egypt were practicing long before the native Indian. These acts were to make sure that the deceased was happy in his journey to the spirits in the sky. They didn't all refer to it as "Heaven.”
            Ray studies his Father's face.
            "You cried when Old Ranger died, did you want him buried with you?”
            "No Ray, my tears were of both love and anger for the way he had to be put down. But, I knew that he wouldn't have lived too much longer, because of his age. I just wanted to be the one that put him out of his pain, for him to go peacefully, like "Amigo.” Ranger didn't deserve the pain that was dealt him he was a good and faithful horse. No, he was buried next to Amigo, under that old pine tree that grows in the north field."
            Ray wipes a tear away.

"And, he's happy--like Cherokee? No pain! Right, Daddy?”
            They sit for the longest, then head back to check the traps they have set.


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


 Ennis, Texas


            Angela has gone to the race track to see Matt race. She sees him in the 'oil pit' along with several friends.
            His back is to her as he hears his friends whistling and making 'cat calls'.
            He turns around quickly a smile comes across his face. He begins walking towards her with an old oil rag in his hand, wiping his hands feverishly.
            "Angie, I'm so glad you made it---I was afraid you wouldn't come!”
            "I had a hard time finding this place it's not exactly 'on the map'!
            "Well, you're here now---that's all that matters!”
            Matt's friends are yelling at him, and making gestures.
            "Don't pay any attention to those guys---come on over here so we can talk."
            They sit down on a pile of old tires.
            "When do you race?”
            "In about twenty minutes, want something to drink are you hungry---they got hot dogs over there?”
            Angela smiles "No thank you."
            Matt clears his throat, "I sure have missed you, what changed your mind about coming?”
            "Ummmm, I don't know---just like watching you race, I guess!”
            "Talking to you on the phone---is not like seeing you in person. You get more beautiful every time I see you!”
            "Oh stop it", she reaches out and touches his goatee, "you grew it back?”
            He plays with the little beard coming off his chin.
            "Yeah, most of the guys have facial hair, didn't want to be the odd ball out! Do you like it?”
            "It’s o.k., but I liked the trim line better!”
            Matt starts looking under the pile of tires and muttering.
            "O.k. where's that damn razor---it's coming off---I'll start the beard tomorrow---how thick do you want it?”
            Angela laughs and hits Matt playfully in the chest.
            "Whatever and however you want to wear it is fine with me!”
            "Hey Angie when I get through here can we go and talk somewhere? I want to start all over with you again, I am so sorry for what I said to you!”
            They agree to go out to eat at Sonic when his race is over. Angela goes back to her seat in the stands she doesn't see the tall, stocky, girl coming towards her.
            The girl stares at the young man that has the only available seat next to Angela.
            "Are you getting out of that seat, or do I have to help you? In other words---MOVE!"
            Angela looks to the girl, then she moves closer to the rail.
            "I will tell you only one time----stay away from my boyfriend!”
            Angela stares back at the girl, "Your boyfriend? Who is your boyfriend?”
            "Matt is my old man, and I'm his 'old lady,' steer wide of him or pay the consequences!”
            "I wasn't aware that Matt had an 'old lady'---as you put it!”
            "Are you trying to be funny, do I have to make it any clearer?”
            "Look, maybe you better talk to Matt, because I wouldn't be here---if he hadn't invited me! Furthermore, do not threaten me! Do I have to make that any clearer?”
            The girl starts shaking, "Oh my, I'm shaking like a leaf---you're scaring me!”
            Angela sighs then she stands up.
            "Apparently, there's some mix up here---but one thing is for sure----I don't fight over any man---you want him---take him----he's yours!”
            Angela walks away and the girl is telling everyone around her how tough she is.
            The race is over and some of his friends are telling Matt what has happened. The girl in question is now all over Matt and he's pushing her away.
            "Did anyone see which way she went?”
            The girl again holds onto Matt, "She ran out of here so fast because she knew I was going to whip her butt!”
            Matt grabs the girl and pushes her back.
            "For the last time Rita---we are not together anymore and never will be---got that? Now, what did you say to Angie?”
            Rita becomes quiet as the other bikers stare her down. Another girl walks up to Matt.
            "I saw her when she left the parking lot, that purple colored car is hard to miss. She turned east towards the highway."
            "Thank you Raven, how long ago did she leave?”
            "It's been about fifteen minutes, she didn't even stay to watch you race!”
            Matt pushes his bike over to the bed of his pickup and several of the other bikers help him to load it up.
            "Go Matt, try to catch her. I'll pick up your money and bring it to you tomorrow!”
            "Thanks Zeke, I owe you one!”
            Matt jumps into his old truck and speeds away from the race arena. He's about ten miles down the road when he sees Angela's lavender car parked at Sonic, he breathes a sigh of relief as he pulls in beside her.
            She's sipping on cold drink as he comes around to the driver's side, trying not to hit his head on the menu column.
            "Angie, please don't be angry, I did not know that Rita was going to be there---I certainly didn't invite her! Please, just let me talk to you!”
            Angela turns to him, "My first impulse was just to go on back to campus, but I figured your explanation has got to be a 'doozy' as they used to say in the old days. Are you getting in, or do we want the whole drive-inn hearing our conversation?"
            Matt hurries to the passenger side and gets in.
            "I swear Angie I didn't even know she was at the race. What did she say to you?”
            "The typical threat that one woman gives another---keep your hands off my man, or else!"
            "Or else what?”
            Angela pushes the button on the menu, "Are you going to eat?”
            "Hell yes, I'm starving! Order me a double cheeseburger with onion rings, some tater tots, lots of ketchup, and a chocolate milkshake---and some black pepper! What did you order?”
            "I just ordered a coke, are you sure you ordered enough?”
            Matt smiles, "I told you, I'm starving! When Rita threatened you, why didn't you just give her fist to the mouth, like you did to JW on the 4th?” 
            "Because that would be fighting over a man, and I have never fought over a man----and never intend to---does that answer your question?”
            "Oh", answers Matt slowly--"guess that answered my question clear enough!”
            "Wellll??? Did you win?”
            "Yep, first place---$500.00!”
            Matt begins reaching for his wallet and then he remembers he didn't stay long enough to pick up his prize money, he groans.
            "What's wrong?”
            "Zeke said he would pick my money up for me because I was in a hurry to find you.  I've only got a couple of dollars in my wallet.  I don't suppose you ever loan a man money either!"
            "You got that right!” She smiles.
            He reaches over her to cancel his order, she pushes him back laughing.
            "I'm kidding---I'll pay for it---just this one time!”
            "I promise I will make this up to you if you will let me take you out for a real nice dinner tomorrow."
            "I can't tomorrow, I promised my Mom I would have dinner with her and my grandpa C.D.---but you can join us---if you like?”
            "A homemade meal cooked by your Mother, hell yes!  I remember that pot roast she fixed."
           "We're going out to eat, we're going to Golden Corral---but I think they have pot roast."
            Matt's order has come to the car and Matt tries to hand Angela his last two dollars.
            "Save it, you might need it for an ice cream cone on the way home, in case this meal doesn't fill you up!”
            He turns sideways in the little car, and offers to share his food with her; he keeps hitting the gear shift in the floor, and swears.
            "My Mom used to have a car like this when she was dating my Daddy; he didn't like the gear shift either!”
           Matt has taken a big bite of his burger and trying to talk.
          "Wait a minute, your Daddy chose this kind of car for you----and the gear shift and all, plus this damn console?”
            "Yep, he called it his 'insurance policy!”
            Matt shakes his head, "I can believe that coming from your old man! But, you do know that insurance policies can relapse, don't you? And by the way when I talked to you on the phone you said you were driving your brother's car, what happened?”
            "I got nervous driving it and keeping it on campus, some of those kids drive so crazy!  I was afraid they might run into it, or put a dent in it, so I told my Daddy I would drive this one for another week. So far it's been running o.k, but on Monday I'm supposed to get a new one!”
            They both laugh and Angela eats a couple of tater tots.
            "U'MMMMMM, these are good.
            "Here try some of my milkshake.”
            Matt watches as Angela takes the straw into her mouth and gently sucks the liquid into her mouth. She sees the look on his face.
           "Get your mind out of the gutter, Matt Starkey!”
            "My mind out of the gutter? How would you know what I was thinking--unless you're thinking the same thing, Angela Walker?”
            They both start laughing again as Matt tries to get her to take another drink from the milkshake.
            "O.k., o.k---we both are guilty----of the same thoughts.”
            "Seriously Angie, I meant what I said about wanting to start over---and we will just take it a day at a time! I promise I will not try and get out of line---unless your insurance policy relapses!”
           "Don't make promises you can't keep, Matt. I can tell you right now, I have no intentions of going down that road with another boyfriend that can't keep his pants zipped up!”
           Matt sits up straight and leans against the door.
            "I'm not JW, Angela! You and I were not an ‘item’; we were starting to see each other. We didn't have any ties!”
            Angela takes a deep breath and lays all the trash on the tray of her car window, and honks her horn for pick up.
            "Well, it sure didn't take you very long to find another girl that would go to bed with, did it? Please don't say---'it was just sex---it didn't mean anything---I heard that too many times from JW!”
            "I'm not going to make excuses for being with Rita, at the time I enjoyed her company.  I just don't hop into bed with every girl that catches my eye---if you really want to know the truth--I loved the sex we had!”
            Angela takes a deep breath and then exhales, "I guess I'd better go.”
            "No Angie, we need to talk.  Can't we just put that subject aside, I want to see you more often---I really like you! I enjoy being with you!”
            "Are you sure that we can have a platonic relationship without jumping into bed? There are other things we can enjoy, like just getting to know each other!”
            Matt smiles and takes her hand, "I have never met any other girl like you, you blow my mind sometimes----no pun intended! Most girls your age have already been in several relationships, and some have kids."
            "That's just it!! I have seen so many of my friends having UN-protected sex and end up with 3 or 4 kids before they're out of their teens! Most of them don't have jobs, the "Father' or Fathers" of the kids take off---and the girl is left to try and take care of the kids by herself! That's not in my future- I want to be set in a job, money to have a home."
            "You would never have to worry about any of those things you already have just about anything you could ask for. Your parents are paying for your college, you just said you were getting a new car next week---which your parents will probably be paying for---you're a lucky girl to have all of that!”
            "Lucky?  Matt, I have been working at the HOPE center since I was 15, I volunteer at the hospitals, and for my church. I have taken care of my baby brother since he was 'just a baby', I help to take care of the house while my Mother works, I do most of the cleaning, cooking, laundry. I have been taught how to save my money, get a savings account. This car I'm driving was not new when I got it, my Daddy found it in the police compound, my brothers re-built the engine and everything else till it was like new. The twins got new cars when they turned 16---I didn't!! And, you say I'm ---lucky?”
            Matt throws up his hands, "Sorry---didn't mean to open Pandora's box!
            "Oh never mind, guess I was just venting. The truth is, I could have had a new car if I had wanted it---but I like this one. It's just now starting to give me trouble, and Daddy wants me to have a more dependable one to be driving back and forth to school."
            "Well, I got to admit---you are very level headed about a lot of things. What are you studying, what's your major?”
            "Haven't quite decided yet, but I think I want to work with handicapped kids!”
            "Wow, that's awesome!”
            "Glad you agree, you see---there are other subjects we can talk about---if we start dating!”
            "I definitely agree, and I do want to start seeing you on a regular basis."
            "I mean it when I say that if I ever find out that you are messing around with someone else---it's over---I will not put up with it--like I did with JW!”
            He pulls her closer and kisses her softly.
            "I will never hurt you like that, Angie. If I ever decide that it's not working between us, I will tell you and vice versa--agreed?”
            She nods her head, and their kiss deepens. Finally, she says she has to get back to campus.
            "I will follow you back, don't want your car acting up and I will meet you and your family at Golden Corral, at say---12:30?"
            She says goodbye to him outside her dorm, then walks slowly up to her room.
            She touches her lips, she can still taste his kiss and the faint smell of the onion rings. She smiles.
            "I never felt this way with JW----I feel all funny inside---could Matt be the one?”
           
She does not see the figure in the shadows, watching her.


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

 

Reservation:

            Walker has spent the day showing Ray how his ancestors used to track, both animals and humans. The boy is starting to relax and asking more questions about his Father's people.
            "There is so much to learn, Ray---but I think we need to start thinking about heading home. And, I don't know about you but I'm getting tired of having to 'catch my food. Your Mother said we are having spaghetti & meatballs for supper that sounds pretty good to me!”
            "Oh yeah!!  Is Sissy still there? Will she be making dessert?”
            Walker pretends to think long and hard, while rubbing the ache in his side.
            "Seems to me, your Mother mentioned something about a Pineapple/Coconut cake. And, that tells me that we probably have company for supper!"
            "Who?”
            "
It would be safe to say----Matt!”
            Ray groans, "Oh, him!"
            "What's the matter, don't you like Matt?”
            "Depends! Is he going to still be mad at me because of what happened on the 4th?”
            Walker laughs and puts his arm around Ray's shoulder as they head back to the horses.
            "That's been awhile---I doubt that he remembers it!”
            "He won't remember falling flat on his butt?”
            Walker laughs, "not if you don't keep reminding him! Have to wait and see, do you still want to see the buffalo?”
            "Could we save that for another time, I think I owe those kids back at the reservation an apology for not playing ball with them!”
            "I was hoping you would say that! I want to spend a little more time with Red Fox---he may not be around the next time we come up here!”
            Ray stops and looks up to his Father.
            "Are you saying he might die---that he will 'pass over'?
            "Yes son, a very possible chance. Remember that shooting star that we saw last night? Well, the natives call them 'Flaming Stars'---and they believe that when you see one---sometimes death follows--to someone you love!”
            "I've seen lots of shooting stars---- I didn't know that someone was dying because of it!”
            Walker nudges the boy and they keep walking.
            "It's only a superstition, son---you can't believe everything you hear."
         They continue to walk and Walker's mind goes back to the night in question. There wasn't just one 'Flaming Star---there were two. He feels a chill going down his spine and he reaches over and pulls his son closer to him as they walk. Ray's arm goes around his Father's waist.

         The ranger smiles.


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

Two weeks later: Walker ranch.

Trivette is helping himself to orange juice as he has delivered more information about the 'beefed up" security on the borders.
            "It's no surprise, Trivette. We knew this was coming when 'your' president promised amnesty for all those illegals to come across. Now we have them coming over by the hundreds, by bringing the kids first. They know we won't turn the children back.”
      "Yep, we should be ashamed of ourselves for being such 'soft hearted Americans'! So, what the hell do you suggest we do, Walker?  Kids are being killed, tortured, and raped. Do we just throw them a sandwich or two, and say "sorry kiddos, not our problem?”
            "First of all, they shouldn't have been promised amnesty! Our government needs to stop supplying them arms and 'their' government needs to do more in protecting their people! It's not just little kids that are coming over, some are teens with criminal records, gang bangers, not to mention the drugs that are coming with them. This has got to be one of the main routes that 'walking dead' drug that you've talking about, is making its way across!”
            Trivette finishes his juice and goes back for more.
            "I know what you're saying, big guy. It's a 'catch 22'---damned if we do, damned if we don't. What about that guy that came to your house and Cooper was playing 'John Wayne', any more information on him?”
            "They all gave the same description, flyers are out on him. I'm convinced he's mixed up with  Jeffe, Nagan, and Brooks!”
            Trivette smirks, "Sounds like a convention of lawyers!”
            "Just the same, I'm cautioned the kids about any strangers coming around, and have also warned my ranch hands to keep their eyes open.  With what is going on down close to the border, all of the ranchers have their guns ready---we're heading for a range war---for sure!! Cooper has been taking Ray out more and letting him shoot hand guns as well as rifles. I've been taking Alex out on the shooting range, and Angela is also keeping up with her shooting at a range there in Waco."
            "We're over 300 miles from the border, Walker---you really think it will come up this far?”
            "Hell yes!" Walker replies as he heads to his coffee pot. "Do you think it will stop at the border, it will continue to spread---no one is safe!”
            "I know you think that your kids know all about weapons, but you better remind them, especially Cooper about the 'when and why' about firing a weapon! Cooper is a little 'hot headed' sometimes!"
            Walker stares at his friend.
            "MY son was in complete charge of what went on that night! He was protecting his family and his home---the man was trying to gain entrance into our house!”
           
"O.k, Walker---I'm just saying---he fired a shotgun at this guy, almost made the pizza boy piss his pants!”
            Walker nods his head, "Cooper knew what he was doing, he fired up in the air---it was the pizza boy that almost ran the man over!”
            The friends remain quiet.
            "I will have another talk with Cooper about precautions, because that brings me to another subject---Alex!”
            "Alex? What has she done?”
            "It's what she's 'doing'---she's spending too much time up in Cordell's room---cleaning and changing sheets."
            "And?  You know what a 'neat freak' she is---she wants things neat for Cordell when he comes home!”
            "That's another problem Trivette he doesn't want to come home! And, Alex said something that made a lot of sense concerning that!”
            "What, what did she say?”
            "I gotta have another cup of coffee, want some?"
            "No---just tell me what Alex said!”
            "For the 'up tenth time' I found her up there in his room, changing all the bed linen, putting fresh towels up--we even turned his mattress over---again! We got into a little spat about replacing his guitars that he busted up, and I said that I didn't think it would be a good idea to replace them, because he might not want to come back to 'all of this. Their bedroom, the memories, etc."
            "
You got a good point, makes sense!”
            "Well, she started to cry---she's been doing that a lot lately since Cordell left. She said that she thought his staying away was the same as blaming us for Dana's death!”
            Trivette shakes his head, "Blaming you guys?  Walker, you and Alex have done everything possible for those to be together---the safe way. Why would she say that?”
            "It's not so hard to believe, because I've been thinking along the same line. They were trying so hard to stand on their own two feet and prove to Alex, Sue, and to me that their love was genuine, and they ended up staying in that 'rat hole' of an apartment, rather than admit they needed help!”
            "I don't get it, after you and Alex found out where they were living; you had them come here to stay. How many parents would have done that, most parents would have tried to point it out to them that weren't responsible to live on their own?”
            "I know Trivette, and after they moved into Cordell's room in the attic, they seemed happy. They didn't have to worry about rent, food, laundry---or any of that stuff. Dana finally allowed her Mom and Gordon to help them, they bought her a new car, was paying for all of her college expenses---and they were finally putting money back into their savings!”
            Trivette frowns as he finally pours himself a cup of Walker's coffee.
            "I still don't understand why Alex would say that Cordell was blaming you guys for Dana's death?”
            "Not exactly 'blaming us' directly-----but, just knowing that they were constantly under a microscope---I don't know how to explain it!”
           
"O.k. big guy, calm down.  I just can't believe that Cordell would think that way---he's hurt and he lost the love of his life. Of course the memories are going to be up in that room, but not to keep him from ever coming home!”
            Walker drinks the last of his coffee.
            "Well, I think Alex needs some time away and I've asked her to go to Boston and spend a couple of days with her Dad---and she says she will----if I go with her! So, would you mind keeping an eye on the boys for a couple of days---and the ranch?”
            "No problem---is CD still here?"
            "No, he's back at the bar 'n' grill---says he likes to be around his old buddies that pop in from time to time. CD is worrying me too; he's not looking too good. I told him he could stay here and we would have a nurse come out a couple of times a week to take his vitals. But, you know how stubborn he is?”
            "Yep--- BIG DOG---as stubborn as the day is long. So, when are you and Alex planning to leave?”
            "We plan to leave next Thursday, be home sometime Sunday!"
       

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

Walker and Alex are getting ready for their trip to Boston.
            Cooper and Ray are helping to put the bags in the back of the Ram.
            "Dad, Ray and I don't need a babysitter! Haven't I proved to you enough that I can be reliable and take care of things myself?”
            "Coop, after that little incident last month, your Mother and I would feel so much better knowing there was an adult here. So, humor your old man, o.k
            Cooper takes a deep sigh and then sees his Mother coming out to the truck, he smiles.
            "Hey Dad, bring me back a T-shirt!”
            "What kind of T-shirt---Red Sox, Celtics, what?”
            "No, no, no, I want a 'Hooters--or a Big 'uns-whichever!
            "Now how the hell am I going to buy you a 'Hooters---you know your Mother doesn't allow me to go into that place anymore!”
            Alex has heard some of the conversation.
            "I don't allow you to go into what place, what are you talking about?”
            "Can you believe it Mom? Dad is just trying to get me in trouble by saying I'm the one that wants a "Hooters' T--shirt, when it's really him!”
            Walker frowns and replies.
            "Just hurry up and get the truck loaded! We're going to miss our plane, are you ready yet, Alex?”
            "Yes, I'm ready---and you Cooper James stay out of trouble!”
            "Yes ma'am, does that mean no parties?”
            "Exactly---no parties and no drinking---promise me! And you Ray, mind your brother and make sure he doesn't do any of those things we just mentioned!”
            “Alex---come on---we got to get to the airport!”
           
Alex kisses both her sons, and climbs into the cab of the truck and waves goodbye.
            Cooper gives a rebel yell "we are going to partyyy
            "Mama said no parties.”
            "She meant no parties here---she didn't say anything about going to one of my friends' house for a party, right?”
            "I really think she meant no partying---at all---and no drinking!”
          "You're a spoil sport little brother! It's going to be a boring weekend"


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

 

 DFW airport

           Walker and Alex have taken their seats on their flight to Boston.
            "Honey, I'm so glad you said you would come with me.”
            Walker takes her hand and kisses it. "Well, I knew you wouldn't come if I didn't. And, I want you to promise me that you'll do nothing but relax while we're there, promise?”
           "I promise, and you can use some restful time too!”
           Walker keeps looking around.
           "What's wrong honey?”
           "We've been cleared for take-off but we're still not moving.”
            "See there you rushed me saying we would miss the plane, and we've been sitting here for almost twenty minutes!”
            As soon as Alex has spoken, the pilot gets on the speaker.
            "Ladies and gentlemen, sorry for the delay but if you look out the left side of the plane; you'll see the reason why!”
            The lady across the aisle from Walker is 'rubbernecking' to see what the pilot is talking about, she gasps.
            "Oh my God---its AIR FORCE ONE-----the president's plane is landing!”
            Walker groans, "Oh good grief---I should have known!”
            "I thought Air Force One always landed at Love field!”
            The old lady is smiling and trying to get Walker's attention to the plane. He smiles faintly.
            Alex squeezes his hand, "Honey, count to ten---be calm! Maybe he's changed his mind about going down on the border?”
            "I doubt it, he probably can't find it!”
            "Well, something is going on. He was just here last month, or rather Austin!”
            "Oh yeah, stuffing his face on bar-b-que and more fund raising---when the illegals are coming over---untouched!”
            "Let's try to talk about something else, Walker will you please go to Cape Cod with us?”
            "I will do anything in the world for you---except that! I couldn't find any good Folgers's coffee the last time we were here and you know how I am about my coffee!”
            "Yes, I remember! You complained the whole trip!”
           He takes a deep sigh as the pilot has announced they are about to taxi down the airstrip.
            "O.k., I will go to the Cape and while you and Sue are out shopping---You can buy that Hooter's shirt for Coop!”
           "I am not going in one of those places and I don't want my son walking around with 'Boobs' on the front of his shirt!”
           Walker laughs "I was going to give you permission to 'max out' one of the credit cards--if you wanted!”
           Alex stares back at her husband.
           "Honey, I don't need your permission to 'max out' a credit card! I am very capable of doing that on my own!”
           The Ranger shakes his head, "Back to eating baloney sandwiches when we get back!”


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

Part 12

Dallas, Texas:

 

Trivette has taken the boys to the FBI firing range. He watches them closely as they approach the firing line, especially young Ray.

The boy walks up to the table, takes his pistol out of its carrying case and lays it down on the table with the cylinder open.  He then steps back.

The instructor is also watching him.

"You have five rounds that you will fire double action! The last round you will pull the hammer back, release slowly, leaving the last bullet in the cylinder---what do you do now?"

            "I lay the gun down pointing downward at the target, I step back---SIR!"

            "PROCEED!”

            Ray fires his rounds, two bullets go into the center hitting the X--the next three hit in the outside ring for a count of 27, plus 20 for hitting the X.

            "Good score, young man--- 47 out of 50---NEXT!”

            Ray looks to Cooper and to his Uncle Jimmy, they nod approval.

            Cooper takes his shots, and then they move to rifles.

            It's now an hour later as the boys have completed their practice. The instructor walks up to Trivette and shakes his head.

            "That older boy is damn good with all the weapons, especially the AK7!!"

            "Yeah, I know--he's got a good teacher. Walker has taught the boys how to shoot as soon as they were strong enough to pull the triggers back. How do you think Ray did?”

            "He's good with the rifle, a little shaky with the pistols, but with more practice--he'll catch on!"

            "Thanks Baker, we'll be back again---real soon!”

            "Uhhh, Trivette----why all the practicing, or should I even be asking? It's the border, right?”

            "Yep, Walker has been as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! It's that Cherokee 'thang'-- or whatever you want to call it! And, with all of the security that the governor is putting down there---something is about to blow!”

            "I don't blame him! I don't live in Texas and my family is nowhere near any of the southern borders, but I got my whole family out on the firing range!"

            "See you next time Baker; tell Emma and the kids hello!”

            Trivette walks over to the boys as Ray is pointing at the cardboard target.

            Cooper slaps him lightly to the back of his head.

            "You did great, squirt!!! Keep practicing and someday you'll be--'maybe' somewhere in the vicinity of me---but I wouldn't take that to the bank---just yet!"

            "So, what was your total score?”

            "Handguns 250 out of 250---rifles the same, shotguns, the same---AK7 I need some serious practicing on that. I only got a 497-----out of 500!”

            Ray swallows hard, "WOW---are you as good as Daddy?”

            "Better---but don't go blabbing that to the old man----we don't want to hurt his feelings, do we?”

            Trivette laughs, "You're good Cooper, but not that good. Your 'old man' as you put it, can run rings around you and don't forget it!”

            "Yes sir Uncle Jimmy, I was just having some fun with the boy----heyyyy I'm hungry---let's go eat!”

            "You two can go eat, I have a lunch date with a certain young lady that works at Hooters and is also a Cowboy cheerleader. Now you tell me, which one of us is going to have the most fun?”

            Cooper's mouth drops open.

            "Oh wow Uncle Jimmy---do they have big 'hooters'?”

            Trivette reaches into his vest pocket and takes out a picture.

            "You tell me!”

            Ray tries to look at the picture and Cooper shoves him away.

            "Don't look, little brother---you'll have nightmares---of being suffocated---by those--- air bags"

 

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

 

Gus' garage:

Gus has been working on the bills, he hears the sound of his son's Harley pulling in, he quickly puts everything away.
            "Hey Pop, got a cool one for me?”
            Gus grabs two of the cokes from the ancient coke machine and hurries out to greet his son.
            "Hi Matthew, where you been? I've missed you!” 
            Matt quickly downs the coke, then shakes his head.
            "I've had so many races down around Waco, I just stayed at Zeke's place, rather than keep driving back here! Trying to save some gas, old man!”
            Gus smiles at the mention of Waco, he sips his coke.
            "Of course Angela goes to college down there, but that wouldn't have anything to do with you're staying at Zekes, would it?”
            Matt smiles and grabs Gus, hugging him.
            "Not in the least, Pop!” He answers winking.
            "Soooooo, how is Angela?  I gather you two are seeing each other again?”
            "Pop, we're taking things slow. We had a long talk about where each of us wants this relation to go. I really like Angie; I don't want to ever hurt her---like that stupid JW!"
            "The black kid that was at the 4th of July picnic? The one Angela clobbered with her fist?”
            Matt smiles, nodding his head.
            "The very same, Pop! And, that's another reason I don't want to make her mad at me, she has a black belt!-Hell, I think that whole family has black belts in some kind of 'art' or another!”
            "What are you talking about, son---black belts?”
            Matt sighs and puts his arm around his Father's shoulder, walking him back inside the garage.
            "It's a form of martial arts, Pop. You know 'karate' and all that jumping up in the air and kicking! You know Bruce Lee style?"
            "I'm more familiar with Chuck Norris---I told you I met him once, remember?”
            "Yes Pop, I remember. Anyways, Angie knows all of that stuff, and I pity Rita if she ever makes Angie mad!”
            "Don't tell me you're still sleeping with that girl, Matthew! I don't like her, she's very rude and she doesn't smell very good either!"
            "Pop, I haven't been with Rita in months. I'm through with her and I told her so! Angie and I talked about everything, and I mean 'everything!”  She is very adamant about her views on sex, she doesn't like it!”
            "Matthew, just what kind of conversations do you have with Angela---didn't you learn your lesson with Tina---are you two------""
            "No, Pop. That's what I'm trying to explain---that subject is very touchy with Angie and she has made it clear that she doesn't want that kind of relation----at least not now.  Someday, I hope----when her insurance policy relapses!”
            Gus's eyebrow arches, "Insurance policy? What the hell are you talking about now?”
            Matt shakes his head and heads inside to the other refrigerator that holds something stronger than his Pop's Coca Cola. He comes back with the beer in his hand and lays his other hand on Gus' shoulder.
            "Pop, it's a joke between Angie & me, o.k? Everything is fine, all I'm saying is, I really like Angie and I've never 'quite' felt this way before! Not even with Tina, the mother of my child!”
            Gus snorts at the mention of Tina's name.
            "I told you what kind of girl she was, the minute I laid eyes on her! The way she prissed around, half naked in those 'short' shorts!”
            "
Pop, I was barely 16---I was a boy with normal urges--you can't keep bringing that up!”
            "And, look what it got you? You got her 'knocked up', her Father pressed charges of rape, you spend time in jail---and you have a daughter that she doesn't let you see!”
            "I know all of that Pop, I was there---remember?”
            "I'm sorry Matthew, I don't mean to bring it up---I'm sorry!”
            "It's alright Pop, just leave my past alone. And, you're wrong! I have seen Macy!”
            "Tina has let you see your daughter, when?"
            "The last time I was up in Wichita Falls, I saw Macy for just a few minutes---in the park.”
            Gus continues to shake his head, "The park? Did you talk to her?”
            "No, Pop. It's in the agreement that I don't make physical contact with Macy, you know that!”
            "It's a bunch of crap, and you know it! Tina had no right making up an agreement like that--you are Macy's Father, you have a right to see her!”
            "I don't want to keep arguing about it. I agreed to it because I knew I could never give her the things she needs and Tina's family can!”
            They stand silent for the longest and then Matt reaches for his wallet.
            "I took a picture of Macy, would you like to see it?”
            Gus nods his head and stares at the picture, he starts to cry.
            "Oh my God, she looks so much like you and your Mother---she's beautiful."
            Matt embraces his Father.
            "I know how much you would like to see her, Pop. I will try to talk to Tina---and beg her to at least let you see her!”
            "Please do that son Macy is my only grandchild--please!”


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


    Springtown, Texas:

            Cooper and Ray are eating pizza at their favorite pizza place.
            Cooper keeps looking at his little brother as Ray keeps staring at his final results from the gun range.
            "Hey Ray, if you don't stop staring at that thing, it's going to go up in smoke!”
            Ray lays the paper down, "I can't help it, can't wait to show it to Daddy. You think he will be disappointed that I didn't do better?”
            "Are you kidding? The old man is going to be busting his gut over that score--you did great, squirt! Now finish your pizza, so we can get out of here!”
            Ray bites down into his final slice.
            "I'm full, Coop! Can I call Mama and Daddy to tell them about my scores?”
            "Yeah, go ahead--wait a minute my phone is ringing, it might be one of them----never mind--it's Cordell!”
            "Hey Cordell, what's up?”
            "What's up? What's up?  Where the hell is Mom and Dad, I've been trying to call them for 3 days now?”
            Cooper stands up and motions to Ray that he's going to step outside.
            Ray has contacted Walker and jabbering a mile a minute about the firing ranch and all of the weapons he got to fire.
            "Our parents are in Boston, if you would call home more often, you would know that!”
            "I can't call home every time I want to, Coop---I have a job here---have you forgotten?”
            Cooper takes a deep breath.
            "No, brother I haven't forgotten, have you forgotten you have a family? And, while we're on the subject I have a few things to say to you!”
            "Don't start in on me, just tell me what Grandpa's phone number is, I don't have it in my phone!”
            "I'll tell you what it is after I get this off my chest! Do you have any idea what you're doing to the folks, especially Mom? She cries herself to sleep almost every night and Dad is at his wits trying to console her. But 'no, you wouldn't know that or you don't care! You think that Dana's death has only affected you---well you're dead wrong, big brother---it's affected us all. But, you're so wrapped up in your 'pity Cordell party', that you don't think about anyone else's feelings!”
            "Coop, I don't want to hear any of this, now give me grandpa's number or I'm hanging up!”
            Cooper's anger is rising as he grips the cell phone so hard, it's starting to crack. He grits his teeth.
            "Well, you're going to hear it---go ahead---hang up on me---the same way you did to DadIf you hang up on me, I'll come down there and whip your ass! How do you think Mom felt when you told Dad you weren’t coming home for Thanksgiving because you had another job lined up? I'll tell you how it made her feel---like you just don't care about any of us anymore!! The two main holidays are coming up and Mom wants you home--but you say that job is more important! None of us are responsible for Dana's death---but you make us feel like we are!"
           
"She was murdered Coop, she didn't just die!”
            "So what? She's gone bro' and she's never coming back---get over it!”
            "You don't understand how I feel, Coop!"
            "All I know is, I hate seeing the tears in Mom's eyes and that look of defeat in Dad's. But, you've always got your way, because you're the oldest boy, even Ray is more of a man now than you will ever be! But, Mom and Dad will forgive you and welcome you home 'when and if' you ever decide to come home! Because you're the parochial son coming home and all will be forgiven. Well, I have news for you bro', I'll never forgive you for the pain that you're causing to this family!”
            There's silence and then Cordell says softly.
            "May I have the phone number now?”
            Cooper starts to answer when he hears Ray's voice screaming.
            "COOPER
            Cooper turns and stares into where his brother was sitting, he sees a man dragging Ray to the exit. He runs into the restaurant, calling to his brother as other patrons are scrambling to get out of his way.
            "Get away from my brother, you son of a bitch---take your hands off him!”
           
The man stops and holds a knife up to Ray's throat the boy's face goes white. Cooper recognizes the man instantly as the old man that tried to get into their home earlier.
            Cooper stops, holding his hands out in front of him.
            "Don't hurt my brother---you and I can take this outside and you and I can handle this between us---o.k.?”
            The man sneers, "You caught me off guard before gringo, but now I have the upper hand--- how does it feel to know that you are going to watch as I slit your little brother's throat?”
            Several people have their cell- phone cameras going and the manager is dialing 911.
            Cooper stands up straight and speaks very stern.
            "If you hurt one hair on my baby brother's head, my Dad will chase you down---and you will die a very slow death. I'm not making a feeble threat, I'm sure you know my Dad's reputation, he's a Texas Ranger, but you already know that! His name is Cordell Walker, mine is Cooper Walker--and between us---you are going to know pain like no pain you've ever dreamed of.  Look around you, this is our hometown and everyone knows what my Dad is capable of---ask them!”
            The man cautiously looks around the room as all of the patrons are staring back at him, and slowly nodding their heads.
            As the man is looking around him, Ray lets his body go limp and he begins falling to the floor. The man reaches down to grab him and Cooper goes flying through the air, with his left leg extended hitting the man in the chest. The man stumbles back and as he does, Cooper jumps up on his other foot and kicks the knife out of his hand. Ray picks up a chair and goes after the man on the floor, breaking it over his head. Cooper pulls his brother back.
            "He's mine little brother, we have 'unfinished business' to take care of--''
            The manager hollers--"Take it outside!”
           
Several of the male patrons help Cooper to drag the man outside, and then they stand back.
            "Let's see how big you are without a knife and threatening a little boy. Actually, somebody give him his knife back---I want this to be a fair fight!”
            One of the employees comes walking out with the knife and pitches it to the man's feet.
            Cooper stares back at the young employee and smiles.

"Hello Kevin!”
            Kevin smirks, "When they said some maniac was flying through the air doing karate kicks--I knew it had to be you! Get him Coop; kick him back to Mexico or wherever the hell he came from! He still owes me for that dent he put in my car!”
            The man looks around him and decides to not pick up the knife, he sits down on the ground, with his hands up as the sound of sirens are blasting.
            "Damn!" Replies Cooper, "I was hoping for some fun kicking this guys' butt all up and down this parking lot.”
            Ray is muttering and walking in circles.
            "If I had my gun, I would shoot him. Can I get my gun, Cooper?”
            Cooper smiles, "No little brother---maybe next time if this creep ever comes around us again!”

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

Ronald Reagan International Airport---Washington, D.C.:

            The Walkers are looking at the information board.
            "Damn it, another delay! It better not be the president again!”
            Alex takes her husband's arm and pulls him gently over to the waiting area.
            "Calm down, honey---I don't think we could be that lucky--twice in one week!”
            "I don't want to calm down Alex; you heard what the boys said! Cooper identified that man as the same one that came up to the house last month, I'm telling you---something bad is about to happen, I can feel it. We got to get home!”
            "And, that man is in jail---honey---calm down! Jimmy is at the ranch with the boys. Why were we re-routed to fly out of this airport, we were supposed to fly directly to Atlanta and then onto to Dallas?”
            "I have no idea hon; damn president has got to have something to do with it!”
            "Walker, you have to keep your voice down, this is a 'high security' airport---they can mistake your ranting for that of a terrorist’s threat!”
            "I'm trying, Alex---I need some coffee!”
            Alex sighs, "Well I hate to say it, but this airport is not noted for good food--but I will go try to find you some--watch my shopping bags for me?”
            Walker is picking up magazines and laying them back down as something catches his eye about a 100 feet away. An elderly couple are having trouble with the man's wheelchair; Walker walks towards them as so does someone else. Five thugs are slowly walking up, then turn around walk back to some other friends.
            Walker gets the wheelchair upright; the couple continues to thank him. The ranger has noticed the thugs, he decides to stay close to the elderly couple, after going back to get Alex's packages. He continues to look for his wife. He sees her at the counter, paying for his coffee.
            A voice is heard behind him, a very familiar one.
            "Hey Walker, what are you doing here?”
            Walker turns around and smiles. "The same as you, waiting for our next flight!”
            The man is looking past Walker as he has now spotted the thugs coming up behind his friend. He speaks softly.
            "Seven of them, the four to your left are the most threatening--and you got the other three eyeing the elderly couple.”
            "Weapons?”
            "Don't see any, just their butt-ugly faces!”
            "How close?”
            "About 20 feet and closing----NOW!”
            Walker's elbow catches the first thug as the punk tries to 'knock out' the old man. The woman screams, and both Walker and the 'friend' go into a flurry of punches with the remaining thugs.
            The whole airport is watching as the fighting duo are cracking bones and slamming heads together. Walker reaches out and grabs the punk that is now trying to hit the old woman. He swings him around into the karate chop to the neck from the 'friend'. The thug is trying to leave and Walker gives him an 'uppercut', hearing the neck snapping.
            The security is running towards the fight and trying to pull the attackers away--for their own safety of the battling duo.
            Cameras are flashing and the flight passengers are yelling at the security to leave them alone and let the fight continue. They stop and one of the officers shakes his head.
            "Let 'em fight it out, I recognize three of those thugs last week that was knocking out another couple with a small baby!”
            The thugs are being beaten to a pulp as the old man in the wheelchair starts hitting one with his walking cane.
            "Pick on a vet, I'll show you--I'm not afraid of you stinking punks---take this!”
            The old man stands up and tries to roll his wheelchair over one of them.
            It's a good twenty minutes before the melee is over with, seven thugs are begging for mercy. The crowd cheers as they are escorted off in handcuffs!!
            Then they turn to the two men that have intervened, and someone whispers.
            "That's Chuck Norris'--who is the other guy?”
            "I think it's his brother---they look like twins!"
            "I don't care who they are, they just stopped another 'knock out' game!”
            The cheers go up again, and handshakes are being offered as someone else replies.
            "This is going viral, Chuck Norris and friend beat up on idiot punks in the airport!”
            "Yep, eleven o'clock news for sure!
            Walker and Chuck shake hands as Alex walks slowly back to them, shaking her head, and ask nonchalantly.
            "Hi Chuck, where's Gena?”
            They embrace and Walker drinks his coffee.
            "They stayed home this trip---this was a business trip.”
            "Wait a minute, now I know why you're here! You're here for the NRA meeting, I remember reading that you are now on the committee!”
            "Yep, just wrapped it up---going home!”
            "California, or back to Texas," asks Alex.
            "Well, right now Gena and I are heading back to Texas to buy another home; we sold the one in Dallas!”
            "We're on flight 210--that is, if they ever lift the delay!”
            "Hey, I'll change my flight and join you. Thought I was never going to get out of DFW----'you know who' was there in Austin for a fundraiser!”
            "Oh please Chuck, don't mention that man's name---our flight was also delayed because his AIR FORCE ONE was landing and Walking has been as grouchy as an old bear!"
            Chuck takes a deep sigh and whispers, "I can't stand the man either, so that makes two of us!”
            Alex holds her hand up, "Make that three!”
            Walker looks around the airport.
            "We're standing in an airport that was named after one of the best presidents that ever held office---and, with this president now we're facing some of the worst problems that will ever occur in our lifetime. We have threats coming from every direction and 'our so-called president is not concerned!”
            "The only thing he's concerned about is 'teeing off at the golf course'!
            "You are so right Alex; the world is in a lot of trouble. I'm going to try and change my flight so I can fly back to DFW with you two---sure hope he's still not in Texas!”   
          "Amen to that" chimes Walker and Alex.

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

Part 13

 

Tarrant county courthouse:

 

The Walkers are in court hearing the charges that will be brought against Jose` Dias, the man who is charged with assault and attempt to kill Ray Walker.

            Cooper is in court too, as the main witness.

            Alex is speaking with the assistant district attorney that will try the case.

            Walker and Cooper stare at Dias; he stares back at them, especially Alex. The man is making gestures with the lower body of his body, and pursing his lips. He's speaking Spanish and his lawyer keeps telling him to be quiet.

Cooper is grinding his teeth.

            "I swear Dad; if the police hadn't got there when they did I was going to beat his ass all up and down the parking lot---with my bare fists!”

            "Calm down son, he knows we are watching him and the way he is staring at your Mother! We have to remain calm we don't want to risk having to move this trial to another county."

            The charges have all been read and the judge asks Dias how he pleads.

            "Not guilty, your honor--it was an honest mistake!”

            The judge removes his glasses and stares at the man.

            "What was an honest mistake?”

            "I did not intend to hurt that boy, I was only showing him the knife and then the other boy came running in and yelling at me!”

            Both Walker and Cooper chime their reply, "Yeah---right!”

            The judge's gavel hits his gavel pad and replies.

            "Your lawyer can plead your case in court; I'm setting a court date two months from this date!”

            Dias turns to Alex and yells.

            "You are next, senora--- but next time there won't be anyone around to come to your rescue."

            Cooper jumps up and tries to charge after Dias.

            "You son-of-a-bitch---now you're threatening my Mother?”

            Walker's hand reaches out and pulls his son back, and begins heading him to the exit door.

            "Calm down, I said!”

            "But, Dad--what he said."

            "I heard what he said, it was intentional! Can't you see what he's trying to do, get a mis-trial before it even starts?”

            Cooper starts to argue and Walker puts up his hand.

            "You're no longer needed here; now get back to school--now!”

            Cooper storms out and runs head on into a tall, dark headed young girl of color, wearing an orange jumpsuit and in shackle. She hits him in the shoulder.

            "Watch it white boy, watch where you're going!”
            Cooper mutters another apology and then stomps towards the front door of the court house.
            The officers walk the young girl up behind Dias and tell her to sit. She lets out a curse word and Diaz smiles.
            Other officers walk Diaz out of the court house and Walker waits to walk out with his wife.
            Alex is shaking her head.
            "That man gives me the creeps, not since LaRue have I been so rattled!”
            Walker puts his arm around his wife's waist.
            "It's o.k. hon---aside from our sons' testimonies and the dozen or so witnesses at the pizza place, there's more than enough to convict him when the trial starts!”
            "Honey, I'm going to be awhile. I want to talk to Davis about the strategy we will be taking. Are you going home?”
            "Yes, after I meet with Trivette. But first, I'm going by the electronics store to pick up a better alarm system to put out on the front gate and another inside the house. From now on, that gate is going to be closed and only family and Trivette will know the password!”
            She touches his chest lovingly.
            "That's a good idea, because I don't mind admitting that this has me scared to death! When it was just you and me that was bad enough---but our kids? Walker, get the best alarm system that money can buy!"
            He smiles and kisses her cheek.  
            "I will hon, and Coop and I will have it up faster than you can say---whatever!”


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


        Waco, Texas

Angela has just returned from the library, and heading up the steps of her dorm. A voice calls out to her.
            "Angela, hold up!”
            After seeing who it is, Angela takes a deep breath.
            "Hi JW!”
            JW is grinning, his eyes are glazed. He leans up against the wall.
            "Heeey, where you been all week, I've been looking for you?”
            "I've been busy, got some tests coming up---so if you will excuse me, I got to get to my room and start hitting the books!”
            "No Angela, let's go get something to eat! I hardly ever see you anymore!”
            "I can't go eat, I've got to study! Unlike you---I do have to crack the books, you never have to study.  Everything just comes natural to you!”
            He reaches out and touches her arm, she pulls back.
            "Ah, come on Angela---quit acting like you're still a virgin!”
            Angela looks all around her and then back to JW.
            "Broadcast it all over the campus, why don't you?”
            "You know Angela; some of the guys are beginning to think you don't like guys, that you prefer girls! But, that's o.k., you can swing both ways!”
            "JW, if you don't get away from me right now, I'm calling security!”
            "Why bother with security, why don't you just clobber me like the last time?
            "JW for the last time, just stay away from me! I've already heard that you've been 'banging' half the girls on campus, isn't that enough for you?”
            "Angela, I love you and I know that I could change my ways if you would just give me another chance. We've known each other since we were babies, we're meant to be together!”
            "I do not feel the same way about you as I did when were teens; I can't stand the lies, and the infidelity! Go play your games with the girls that don't have any morals---there's plenty of them on this campus!”
            Angela turns around, and JW grabs her arm. She glares at him and he quickly lets go.
            "I'm not the only one that plays around, all guys do, and your little 'biker' friend is no exception! Especially in those clubs where all the girls are passed around and called 'their old ladies'.  What do you see in that guy, anyway?”
            "I don't have to explain anything to you JW. I'm going now, and if you try to touch me again, I will kick you so hard---you won't be able to 'get it up' for a long, long, time! Are we on the same page?”
            "You'll be sorry Angela, when you find out the truth about your boyfriend. If you are playing games with him, he won't stay around long. He's not right for you, give me another chance!”
            She says nothing as she opens the double doors and heads upstairs to her room. She walks in circles, muttering to herself.
            "Damn it JW, why did you have to transfer here to this college?"
            Her cell phone rings and she stares at the name that is calling her.
            "Rita, how did you get this number?”
            "Never mind, bitch---I told you to stay away from Matt, if I see you with him again, I will mess up that pretty little face of yours!”
            "Rita?”
            "What bitch?”
            "Listen to me closely! Take your cell phone, grasp it tightly, then shove it up your ass and don't ever call me again!"


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

 

Walker ranch:


            Cooper is watching as the men from the home security are installing all of the alarms.
            "I thought we were going to do that, Dad?”
            Walker sips his coffee, "Decided to let the experts do it!  The ranch hands are going to install razor wire all across the top of the fences, after they raise the fence another six feet! I'm also having a monitor installed at the gate, no one will be able to come through that gate without the password, or we 'buzz' them in!”
            "Damn---you're really pulling out all of the safety gadgets! Does Mom know about this?”
            Walker takes a deep sigh then throws the rest of his coffee away.
            "Who do you think told me to do it?”
            Cooper looks around him and points south west.
            "Our most vulnerable side is SW, are you re-enforcing that side too?”
            "Especially that side!"
            Cooper stares back at Walker.
            "I've never seen you like this, Dad! You've always been so calm, nothing ever rattled you!”
            "Well, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a little older now---and I have more to worry about - like you kids and your Mother! I can't take any chances! I've got to know that I'm doing everything possible to protect all of you!”
            "We know that, we all look out for each other!"
            Walker nods his head, and replies softly.
            "You've really stepped up to the plate lately, and I know that your Mother and I have put a lot on your shoulders since your brother left. We're so proud of you!”
            Cooper smirks, "Even after I told Cordell off, and what he was doing to this family? Did he ever get in touch with you or Mom at grandpa Gordon's?”
            Walker takes a deep sigh, "We haven't heard from him in almost a month, guess he's out working and can't get in touch!”
            "Face it Dad, he just doesn't care anymore about us! He could call home, and you know it---you're just making excuses for him!”
            Walker stares back at his son, "And, you're also getting a little sarcastic on this subject concerning your brother! He's still blood, he's still a part of this family---do you hear me?"
            "Yes sir, I hear you! I'm tired of doing his work; I hardly have anytime to myself to be with my friends---last week. I wanted to go with my friends down to New Braunfels to go rafting, but I end of having to babysit Ray while you and Mom go to Boston!"
            "I never knew you had made plans, why didn't you say something?”
            Cooper kicks the ground, "Because I knew Mom had to get away for a few days---and it was because of Cordell, that she has been so stressed out----that's why!”
            "If you had said something, we could have postponed the trip to Boston!”
            "Well, it doesn't matter now! My friends didn't get to go either!”
            Walker's voice softens.
            "Well, what about this weekend?"
            "I guess I could check with Moose and the other guys. Are you sure, I mean-with all that's going on around here?”
            Walker puts his arm around his son's shoulder as they start walking back to the house.
            "We can't live in fear, we just have to be extra careful about where we go, and keep our eyes open to everything around us! Call your friends and take a couple of days to enjoy yourself!”
            "Are you sure?”
            "Are you asking me if I can still handle things around here, I'm not that old---yet?”
           
Cooper laughs, "I can still see you jumping over that fence, didn't even break a sweat!”
            Walker remembers the day in question and how his hip ached for days afterwards.
            "What's wrong, Dad---I was just teasing!”
            "When you get back from your trip, we need to go to the barn."
            Cooper stops, "Whoa---Dad, I said I was teasing!”
            "I'm talking about the second loft we need to get some things down from there!”
            "You mean----that old trunk that you have stored some of your military gear in, that one?”
            "Yep, I think it's time!”
            "Damn! It's been years since I saw that trunk and what is 'in' it!”
            "Almost 15 years---I hoped I would never have to bring it down----but it's time!”


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

 

            Angela is having lunch with Matt.
            "I can't believe that you would think I would give Rita your phone number, why would I do that, Angie?”
            "I've asked myself the same question a million times, are you still seeing her?”
            Matt reaches across the table and takes her hand.
            "Of course not, I haven't seen her in----about a month! Angie, I'm trying to work things out with you, I told you I broke it off with her months ago!"
            Angela shakes her head.
            "Then how did she get my number? She is still saying for me to stay away from you
 or she's going to mess up my face! Who else have you given my number to?”
            "Nobody, not even my Pop!!!"
            They stare across the table at each other.
            "Angie, why in the world would I give Rita---or anyone else your number?  I don't even like cell phones, but I got one so I could call you----since pay phones are almost extinct!”
            "I don't know what is going on, but I told you Matt I have to be even more careful after that attack on my baby brother! No one can have my number, except my family and you!”
            "What about JW, does he have your new phone number?”
            "No! Wait a minute, I saw him at the library last week, he wanted to borrow some money and I told him 'hell no'! He said he needed gas money that his credit card was maxed out---I felt sorry for him and called him and told him I would meet him at the gas station on campus, and I would pay for his gas---but I wasn't giving him any money!"
            "Angie, can't he get your number when you call? It should come up on the ID.”
            "No, I have it set to where it only gives my first name---no number!”
            "Has he called you since you got the new number?”
            Angela ponders the question.
            "No, I usually just run into him on campus!”
            Matt nods his head.
            "Well, if I were you, I would change my number again, just to be safe!"
            "Yeah, you're probably right. My parents are going to want to know why I'm changing it again so soon. They gave me the password for the alarms at the ranch and the front gate. I'm sorry, Matt that I can't give it to you. You will have to be 'buzzed in!”
            "It's o.k., I understand. Sounds like your Dad has the place locked down like a prison!"
            "Yeah, after the attack on Ray---my whole family is spooked---including my Daddy!
            "I have a hard time believing anything could spook your old man, but I would be doing the same thing ---if I were in his boots!”
            Angela sips her tea slowly as she watches the smile on Matt's face.
            "What are you grinning about; you look like the Cheshire cat!”
            "Well, I don't know about that, but I want to ask you something. Let's go the state fair!”
            "Hmmm, I'm not much on rides---but I do like to look at the exhibits!”
            "Angie, if you're going to the fair, you have to ride something! Especially that huge ferris wheel! Have you ever seen it, it's huge!"
            Angela smiles mischievously, "Only on one condition that I will go."
            "And----what's-that? No, we don't have to spend the night, that is---unless you want to?”
            "How's your arm?”
            "My arm, it's OK, I guess! Why?”
            "Because I want a Kewpie Doll at the ball throwing booth!”
            "Baseball or football?”
            "
Either one, I'm not picky!”
            He reaches over and kisses her softly, then looks into her eyes.
            "Angela Walker, I will get you a Kewpie Doll--if I have to stay there all night---but I have a question!”
            "What?”
            "What in the hell is a Kewpie Doll?”


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


Walker ranch:

            Walker has been going around the ranch, checking and rechecking the alarms, his cell phone rings.
            He listens to the voice on the other end, he takes a deep sigh.
            "I'm sorry to hear that Pete was anyone hurt? Is your family o.k.?”
            "We're all o.k., Walker---just a bit shaken up---they came over the border near Nuevo Laredo. Ran off some of my livestock, found some butchered and half eaten. They walked right across our field in plain sight, we fired at them, and they just laughed!"
            Walker tells his friend of the security alarms that he has all over his ranch, and the razor wire along the fence line.
            "That's not going to stop them, my friend. My neighbors to the east of me had the high security alarms put in and the big fancy flood lights that come on at dusk, they just shoot them out!"
            They continue to talk for another twenty minutes and then Walker heads home. He keeps stopping and looking back over his shoulder, the hair on his neck begins to trickle.
He has the funny feeling that he is being watched, he continues on.
            He tells Alex about the phone call from Pete.
            She sets a cup of coffee down on the table for her husband as she reaches for her cup of tea.
            "Oh my God---it's getting closer. Catarina is near Artesia Falls, isn't it?”
            "Yep, right off I35, less than a hundred miles from San Antonio!”
            Alex gasps, "And New Braunfels is where Cooper is!”
            "Relax hon; I doubt very seriously that they will head into the cities. So far, they are staying off the main highways. But, they're definitely coming across the border and starting to be braver about it.  And, all the time we are being told by the news media that our borders are safe----bull shit!”
            "It's all around us, the fighting is going on and so many people are just sitting back believing what the media is telling us!"
            "Well, that's our government! Our senate is lying to us, and now the secret service is being investigated, and all the while---that idiot in the white house is either on the golf course or with his damn feet up on the Presidential desk that the 'we' are paying for!!! Not to mention the respect for our forefathers no longer exists. His comments about 'Trayvon Martin could have been my son'----and so forth has gotten the races fighting each other!  Rioting and protesting are in the news every day----and 'he' does nothing to try and calm the storm. And, if that's not bad enough---we now have Ebola to worry about---right here in own back yard!”
            Alex reaches out and takes her husband's hand.
            "Honey, I am so worried about not only Cooper right now, but we haven't heard from Cordell in over a month. I've called, but it goes to voice mail, and he's not answering them either!”
            "I know hon, and I've made the decision that if we don't hear something by the end of next week, I'm going to Haiti and I don't care if I have to 'hog tie' him, he's coming home! He's done his share of helping down there, and Haiti is not exactly a safe haven right now either! "
            They sip their drinks and Walker is looking at the wall clock.
            "It's almost 10pm; Cooper should have been back by now, has he called?”
           "No, he hasn't! And with all that's going on, now I'm more worried than ever!”
           Walker takes a deep sigh as he stands up and kisses the top of his wife's head.
           "If he's not home by midnight, he better start looking for a safe place to hide! In the meantime, I'm going to fix a sandwich. Want one?”
           "No thanks, I'm going to bed. Are you waiting up for Cooper?”
           "Nope----I see headlights flashing across the front window, he's home and he better have a damn good excuse for worrying us!”
            Alex looks back at her husband.
            "How do you know for sure that it's Cooper?”
            "Have you forgotten already about the alarm systems, besides I could hear the '5.0 V8' under the hood of that Ford!
            Cooper walks through the door slowly as Alex is walking towards him.
            "I know, I know--I'm late! It took Moose and I over an hour to change that tire!”
            "You had a flat?”
            Cooper stares back at his Mother.
            "Didn't Ray tell you? I called over two hours ago and said I would be late getting in!”
            "No, your brother didn't tell us! Why did it take you that long to change a flat tire?” 
           "I didn't just have a flat, Dad---I had a blow-out! And the studs on my rim were bent!”
            "Oh my God! Are you alright, sweetheart?”
            "Yes Mom, I'm fine.  But, I'm mad as hell about tearing up my rim, took us forever to get the studs straight enough to hold the lug nuts. It vibrated like crazy all the way home, I couldn't drive over 50, that's what took us so long!"
           "How fast were you going when you had the blow out?”
            "About 65, not fast at all---then boom---my car was all over the road. It's a good thing we weren't on the interstate yet!”
           Walker heads back to the kitchen to finish putting his sandwich together.
           "O.k. sweetheart, go take your shower and get to bed. You got school tomorrow!”
           "I will, but first I'm hungry.”
            Cooper heads to the refrigerator, then he sees Walker's sandwich lying on a paper plate, he starts to lick his lips.
            "Tomorrow, I'll give you a lift to school. We can drop your car off at Gus' on the way----what are you staring at? You are not getting my sandwich, Coop!”
            "Sure looks good, is that Black Forrest ham on there?”
            Walker nods his head slowly.
            "Yessss, and Swiss cheese, topped with ’horse radish' and little cherry tomatoes----with my name on it!"
            Cooper stares into the refrigerator, answering sadly.
            "Guess I'll just have to settle for a plain baloney sandwich."
           Walker shakes his head.
           "Why couldn't you have come home a half hour later?”
           "And have you yell at me?”
            "I haven't yelled at you---yet! Oh for Pete's sake, get a knife; I'll share it with you!”
             Alex has watched the two of them argue over the sandwich, she walks slowly over to her husband and kisses him goodnight, then kisses Cooper's cheek.
             "I'm going to bed! I hate to mention this, but there is only one slice of chocolate cake, are you two going to argue over that too?”


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


          East side of Springtown:


            The young girl is staring back at the two men, and then she breaks out in a wide smile and starts giving them 'high fives'.
            "Thanks for making my bail, starting to think you two were forgetting me!"
           The big man looks her up and down, grinning.
            "No way I was forgetting that body. Now, how is our friend liking jail?”
            "Dias thinks he will be getting out soon---the stupid idiot is facing attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon. Ain't no way, I passed the word around--he will be taken care of.”
            "Are you ready for your next assignment?”
            The girl slivers up to the big man, rubbing up against him.
            "More than ready, I can't wait to take care of that 'lawyer lady’; I want to be the one to take care of her, promise me!”
            The big man smiles and puts his arm around the girl's waist, letting his hand drop to her buttocks. He turns and looks to the man beside him.
            "Make sure we're not disturbed!”
            "Nagan, come on man, she's your niece!”
            "So? What's your beef, you prefer little boys---don't preach to me about ethics!”
            Nagan turns to the girl and smiles.
            "Come on, girl---let's play!”
            "My name is not 'girl', it's Desnondus!”


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

 

Part 14

 

Ft. Worth Stockyards

 

            The restriction on Ray Walker to ride the bulls has been lifted. All of the Walker family is there to watch him ride, including Matt.

            Walker and Cooper are down near the chutes and giving Ray 'last minute riding tips, and also to make sure he will be safe.

            "O.k. Buckaroo, it's been awhile, are you nervous?”

            "Heck no, I'm ready!”

            Cooper is looking at the young bull that Ray has drawn. The young bull is wanting out of the chute bad and doesn't care who he has to take with him.

            "Dad, do you know anything about this 'Satan' that Ray will be riding?”

            "Just that he comes from good stock! He was 'sired' in Butte, Montana, from the Crazy Eight ranch!”

"Is that good or bad?”

            "Like I said, he comes from good stock! All the way back to another bull, called "Widow Maker!”

            Cooper looks up in the stands and sees his Mother waving back at him.

            "Uhhh Dad, does Mom know about this?”

            Cooper's answer is a blank look from Walker.

            Angela and Matt are settling in, and passing a chili dog to Alex.

            "Thank you Matt, but I'm so nervous for my baby, I can't eat anything right now!”

            "Calm down, Mom. Ray has been getting plenty of practice, that bull doesn't stand a chance!”

            Matt chomps down on his chili dog, "That little guy has nerve I would never have the nerve to ride one of those beasts!”

            Ray is climbing into the chute and getting prepared, he hears someone yell out to him.

            "Hey Ray Walker---that bull is going to send you to the moon and back!”

            Ray looks over to where the voice is coming from and sees the same young man that had hassled him on past rides.

            The wrangler asks him if he's ready, Ray nods affirmative and he and Satan go flying out of the chute.

            Walker is clenching his fists and saying to himself, "Pull your knees in tighter!”

            "Come on little brother", yells Cooper.

            It's a long 8 seconds and finally Ray is being taken off the bull by the 'pace setters'.  Satan is not happy as he turns and takes out his fury on two of the rodeo clowns, one dives into a barrel, and the other flies over a fence!

The crowd is cheering and Alex and Angela are jumping up and down. Matt just stares back at them.

            "That's it? That's the end of the ride, did he pass?”

            Angela grabs Matt's arm.

            "Yes, he stayed on the full eight seconds!”

            Alex breathes a sigh of relief.

            "I was always nervous at seven seconds, I can't believe 'one second longer' could be so long!”

            "What's she talking about?”

            "Ray is in another category.  So just like the pros, he had to ride full eight seconds---and he did!”

            "Soooo, now what?”

           "Now we have to wait to see if anyone ties his ride, if so--then they have to ride a 'tie breaker!”

          "And, if they both go the full eight seconds, then the judges will decide on how they presented themselves in the ride," adds Alex.

            "Are you o.k. Mrs. Walker, you look a little flushed!”

            "I've been through this so many times with Angela's Father and the twins when they rode, it never gets easy! Believe me!”

            Ray is giving 'high fives' to everyone.

            "Hey squirt, who was that kid that was yelling at you?”

            "Never paid any attention to his name, but he comes up ninth!”
            An hour has passed and it's now time for the young 'heckler' to take his turn. Walker and his sons listen for the name of the rider.
            "Riding ninth is Coy McDuff on "Hurricane!”
           
Walker repeats the name under his breath.
            "Do you know the name, Daddy?
            "I sure do, I used to ride with a McDuff, down around Tuscon!  I thought he was dead!”
            They wait till young Coy has ridden and just as predicted, it will have to be a 'tie-breaker'.            Walker keeps looking around to see if anyone approaches the young rider, he sees no one!
            Young Coy has won the final decision, and Walker watches Ray's behavior. Finally, the boy approaches the winner and reaches out to shake his hand. The boy refuses and walks past him, laughing.
            Ray walks back to Walker and his brother, and shrugs.
            "Well, so much for 'sportsmanship!”
            "You should have clobbered the conceited little prick!” Replies Cooper.
            Ray looks at the ribbon that he has won.
            "I'm sorry, Daddy. I thought I had a good ride!”
            "You had a great ride, son! I'm very proud of you."
           They start walking towards the exit to meet the rest of the family. Walker lays his hand on his son's shoulder.
          "Ray, you got nothing to be ashamed of. Apparently this boy has been riding longer than you, with more experience. I don't know if this will help in anyway, but if he's related to Toby Mc Duff, then his attitude comes naturally.  Toby McDuff was a total ass in every way, but he was a damn good rodeo rider, and had the championships to back it up! That doesn't excuse the way Coy 'blew you off' back there, but you handled everything the right way. Just keep riding, your time will come!"
            "Maybe bull riding isn't for me maybe I'll be a rodeo clown!”
            Walker laughs and pulls Ray in closer to him, and Cooper jabs him playfully in the stomach.
            "Daddy, is that bear still pooping in the woods?”
           Cooper stares back at his little brother and then to Walker.
           "He sure is son, and I think he’s wanting a pepperoni pizza!"


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


            The weeks go by and still no word from Cordell.
            Finally they get word on their son.
            Walker and Trivette are returning from the border again and talking to the ranchers that are being attacked down there and shot at. They are on their way home when the call comes in from Alex.
           "Honey, someone just called and said that Cordell and the rest of his party were coming back from Port de France and they would be back in camp sometime tomorrow!”
           "Who called, a friend of Cordell's?”
            "I don't think so, said he didn't know too much about the previous members---but he was sure that Cordell was in the group coming back. I asked him to please tell our son to call home immediately that we are so worried about him!”
            "Did you get this person's name and number?”
            "Yes honey--I've got it written down. The name is Edwardo Macias, he said he would find Cordell and tell him. Oh my God, Walker---I have been praying so hard to hear news about Cordell, maybe----maybe this means---he's coming home?”
             "I hope so hon, I had my bags packed to go down there--I sure hope he's coming home! I've been doing some praying too!”
            Walker relays the news to Trivette.
            "That's great, Walkman---we'll have to have a 'welcome home' party for him!”
            Walker smiles, "That is, if his Mother and I can stop hugging him long enough!”
            The men remain quiet they both know what else is going through their minds.       

"Can't believe that things have gotten so bad on the border----and before you say anything, Walker---I have something to tell you!”
            "What could you possibly have to say in regard to what your president is doing?”
            "I didn't vote for him, at least not the second time!”
           
Walker stares back at his friend of some 25 years.
            "You didn't? I just assumed that you did!”
            Trivette nods his head up and down.
            "Why did you assume that partner? Is it because I'm black, and you think that just because he's black and I'm black that I voted for him, again?”
            "I guess I did, because you never once defended yourself when I've tore into him, why didn't you say something?”
            "What happened to the privacy act that you don't have to say who you vote for, I've never asked you, who you're voting for!”
            "I'm Republican, Trivette---I go with the Republican party---that's no secret! You really didn't vote for him the second time?”
            Trivette takes a deep breath.

"No, not the second time---I could see that something was wrong. Alright, you want me to say it?  I was embarrassed to admit that I voted for him at all.  Are you happy?"
            "I'm just glad that you did wake up and see him for what he was and still is: a Muslim that is president of the USA---and all of those people killed in the twin towers by Muslim terrorists! I can never get over that!”

"I just wanted so badly to see a 'brother' be president in my lifetime, instead of a white man. Is that so hard to understand?”
            "No partner it isn't! When he first started campaigning for president, I thought it might be good too for a black man to be president---but then I started paying attention to his name---to his name, Trivette!! Barrack Hussein Obama---you can't get more Muslim that that! That alone was enough for me not to vote for him and because I am a war vet, and the memories of all those victims. And, for the record---why hasn't he shown his birth certificate? He was not born in Hawaii, there are records showing that he was born in Kenya---he's not an AMERICAN! If he was, he wouldn't treat the American people the way he does, especially the war vets!”
            Trivette sighs, "There's no proof that he wasn't born in Hawaii!”

"That is puzzling that you say that. That lady that was from the department of health, I think her last name was Fuddy, or something like that. She was bringing back proof that he was born in Hawaii---her plane crashed and she was the only one to die, the other nine survived the crash. Now, I find that a little 'suspicious', wouldn't you say?”

"Walker, you just said that she was bringing back the proof, what's suspicious about that?"
            Walker shakes his head, "It's just odd, Trivette and doesn't make any sense!”
            "Walker, you're giving me a migraine! Can we stop and get something to eat?”
            "Yeah, there's a truck stop up ahead."
            "I ain't eating in no truck stop, Walker. Go to Mc Donald's!”
            "McDonalds?”
            "Yeah, at least I can get a salad!”
           
The Ram goes another 5 miles to find a Mickey D (as we Texans call it)!

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


Gus's garage:


            Cooper has stopped to check on his car.
           "Hi, Mr. Starkey---is my car about ready?”
            The old man stops and goes to his little refrigerator and brings out three bottles of coke for Cooper and his friend, Moose.
            They drink theirs down in one swig, and Moose asks if he can have another.
           "Go help yourself, young man and get one for this young man---it's Cordell, right?”
            "No sir, I'm Cooper!”
           "Oh yeah, you were here last week with your Dad, dropping off your car---the Mustang?”
            "Yes sir, I messed up the rim on the drivers' side pretty bad!”
           Gus looks at the car that the boys came up in.
            "That's Angela's car, isn't it?”
            Cooper looks back to the Dodge Charger.
            "No sir, it belongs to my twin brother. Angela was driving it for a while, now I'm driving it until I can get my Mustang back!”
            "It sure is pretty, Angela was being so careful not to get it dirty! She would kick the dirt off her shoes and then hang the floor mat out and shake it!”
            Cooper is starting to get impatient.
            "What about my car, Mr. Starkey?”
            "It will be ready tomorrow----and call me Gus--o.k. young fella? Are you sure you don't want another soda pop?”
            Cooper thinks about the empty coke cups and food wrappings laying in the floor of the Charger.
            "No, Mr.---I mean Gus--I'm good. I'll be by to pick my car up tomorrow, around 3pm?”
            They wave good bye and enter Cordell's car. Cooper gets out and shakes the floor mat while Gus is watching them. They pull out and over the hidden hose that makes a bell sound.
            The three men and young girl are watching them as they pull out on the two lane road.
            The big man picks at his teeth and nudges the new guy that has joined them.
            "Get a good look at 'Jr boss man,' study his face, because when we get through with him---he won't be so pretty!”
            The new guy nods his head and pulls out a long slender knife.
            "Got that pretty face etched into my brain, but soon your 'Jr boss man' will have 'this' etched across his face!”
            The young girl laughs.
            "When do I get to take care of that lawyer lady, Uncle Clyde?”
            "Soon, real soon. Everything is falling into place and the rest of our people are on their way up from Senora, walking across the border, blending in. And, the Texas Rangers and the troops can't do a thing to stop them!”
            The third man, Riggs, laughs.
            "Yeah, the governor has ordered troops to be sent down there, but they can't fire their weapons by order of the President of the US---that's sooo nice!"
            "Just makes you want to cry, doesn't it'?
            They all laugh.


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

Walker ranch:  Three days later.
          

The call about Cordell is not good.

The call comes late at night, sending the whole Walker household into a dead silence.
            "I'm sorry Mrs. Walker, but your son did not come back with the rest of the volunteers."
            "Does anyone know where he is, did he get your message to call his home?”
            "Mr. Greene, our supervisor said that Cordell and others from the group went to another area, near Caracas to help those people, Mr. Greene said that Cordell was told to call home---but he said he was too busy!"
            Walker grabs the phone from his wife and turns off the speaker so the rest of the family can't hear.
            "I'm his Father and I demand to know exactly where he's at!”
            "I told you all I know Mr. Walker, he's gone to Caracas!”
            "Is there a way to get in touch with him there? Is Mr. Greene still his supervisor, he should know where Cordell is and how to get in touch with him!” 
            There's a silence and then the man answers.
            "Mr. Greene flew back to the states early this morning---some emergency with his family.   He's not coming back!”
            "Then put me in touch with the new supervisor, damn it!”
           
"The new supervisor hasn't arrived yet---we have no one to supervise us till then---we are on our own!”
            "I'm coming down there and when I arrive--somebody better have some answers for me!”
            Walker turns around to face his family, Alex is crying uncontrollable and Ray is trying to comfort her.
            Walker goes to his wife and takes her into his arms.
            "As soon as Cooper gets home, I'm going down there. I will drag Cordell home 'kicking and screaming' if I have to! I am getting tired of all of this 'I have to have space crap'---he's underage--I can force him come home. Then---if he still wants to leave, I will help him pack!”
            "Walker, don't talk like that!”
            "I'm sorry Alex, I'm tired of all the hurt he's causing this family. We all know what he's doing, he's blaming us for Dana's death!”
            "No, he's just hurting!”
            "So are we, Mom! We hurt too, it's not our fault that Dana died!”
            Walker stares back at his wife and then to their baby son.
            "Even Ray agrees. Now where the hell is Cooper?”
            "He went to pick up his car and then he was going to join Angela and Matt for that Baylor game!”
            "I forgot about that, that game won't be over till close to midnight. Ray call your brother's cell phone and tell him to come home immediately after the game!”


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

Football game - Baylor vs Ole' Miss


            It's the second quarter, Angela keeps looking for her brother.
            "Can't understand what's keeping him, he said he was looking forward to this game!”
            Matt kisses the side of her head, brushing her long auburn hair back.
            "He'll be here, Angie. Are your parents coming?”
            "No, they want to be home when Cordell calls!”
            Matt smiles as he pulls the blanket up around them.
            "Good! Sure don't want your old man going ballistic when we start playing octopus under this blanket!”
            Angela laughs. "Octopus? Matt, they don't call it that anymore that was way back in the stone age---in the '50's!”
            "O.K. miss 'know it all' what do they call it now?”
           Angela caresses Matt's face and kisses him tenderly, then pushes him away.
            "Suicide, if the girl has a Daddy like mine! So, behave yourself."
            Matt continues to let his hands explore, when someone taps him on the shoulder. He jumps, and then he sees that it's some of Angela's friends.
            "Hey Angela, can we sit here---you have two extra seats?”
           "No, my brother and his friend will be sitting there---if they ever get here!”
            The friends walk on and Angela looks to Matt and starts to giggle.
            "You thought it was my Dad, didn't you?”
            Matt nods his head, "My life just flashed before me! But, it was a good life, you were beside me!”
            "Beside you, where?” She asks coyly.
            "Hmmm, does it really matter? We've been dating for about two months now. I've followed the rules, haven't I?”
            "Yes, and thank you for that. But, Matt I'm just not ready, don't you just enjoy our being together-this way?”
            "Angie, I'm not going to lie to you. I want things to go forward, I think about you all the time. I begin thinking about how it would be, and---I sure am taking a lot of cold showers!”
            "Matt, if you want to be with someone else----""
            "No Angie, that is not what I'm saying, I don't want anyone else---I want you!" He lowers his voice, "I have condoms!”
            "I am not ready, Matt. So, if sex is what you want, then you will have to look to someone else!”
            Matt takes a deep sigh.
            "I have to take a leak, and get a beer!”
            Angela watches as he heads to the next level, in search of the men's room. She shakes her head, and an elderly woman stares back at her.
            "Couldn't help but hear---or rather 'see' the body movements of that young man. What are you holding it for, sweetie---the world could end tomorrow because of this Ebola scare. Do you still want to be a virgin in the 'next life'? I'm almost 72, my man is in his 60's, and we go at it morning, noon, and night!”
            Angela smiles weakly, "That's nice.”
            She feels inside her jeans for her car keys and says to herself.
            "Well, at least  I have my own transportation home!”


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

Walker has been pacing the floor all night and looking at the clock--it's now 5am and no Cooper!
            Alex joins him on the front porch with hot coffee.
            "I called Moose's parents again, they were 'miffed' that I was calling so early, but I don't care! They said Moose still hadn't come home either. Walker, where could he be?”
            "Damned if I know, Ray said he never answered his calls last night. He knows I will not go down to get Cordell unless he's home to look out for you and Ray!!!  He will be grounded for a month, maybe two, if he doesn't get his butt home!"
            "Honey, as much as I do want Cordell home-- I am so worried about you flying right now, it's so dangerous! Planes are falling apart, that one nurse flew all the way to Ohio, knowing she could be infected!”
            "What do you want me to do, Alex? I can't very well drive down there, there's a little water called the Gulf of Mexico, do you want me to take a boat?”
            "Please do not raise your voice to me! Walker--I am scared!”
            Walker takes his wife into his arms, kissing her hair.
            "I'm sorry hon, I'm sorry. I know you are scared with everything going on around us, I'm scared too. Cordell is in a very dangerous place right now and Cooper is---where the hell, I don't know!”
            "The sun will be coming up soon, I'll fix you some breakfast.”
            "Wait a minute, Alex. Let's just sit down on the porch swing and watch the sun come up---together!”
            They walk over to the swing and Alex cuddles up to her husband. He reaches down and brings out a string that is tied to the arm of the swing.
            "Remember this?”
            "Yes, I most certainly do. You tied that string to the arm and when Angela was barely 6 months old, you would put it in her little hand and say, 'Pull the sun up, baby'.  It took a few times to understand and then she needed no coaxing at all. You would help to pull the string gently as the sun began to rise slowly. When it was all the way up, she would clap her hands, later when she learned to talk, it was 'let's do it again, Daddy'!  Then, you would tell her that later the two of you would make the sun go to sleep!”
            "Yep, and soon the twins were learning to do it and then Ray, and then---"
            Alex hears the pain in her husband's voice.
            "I was just starting to teach Cherokee how to do it, remember how she would giggle?”
            Alex cuddles up closer to her husband and sighs.
            "Someday, you will be teaching our grand kids how to 'bring up the sun, and put it to sleep."
            The Walkers doze off and then Walker is awakened by the alarm going off at the gate. He goes to the monitor to see who it is.
            "Is it Cooper, did he forget the password?”
            "No, it's Matt. What's he doing here so early?”
            "Didn't you tell him the other day that the two of you would work on that motorcycle today?”
            Walker opens the gate, and Matt enters in his Pop's old pickup. He drives over to the stables backing the truck in. He walks slowly towards Walker.
            "Morning Mr. Walker, Mrs. Walker.  I'm here to pick up the Indian that is if you still want me to fix it?”
            Walker 'eyes' him curiously and asks.
            "Of course I do, why wouldn't I?”
            Matt starts rubbing his hands down his jeans.
            Alex observes Matt's nervousness she quickly touches her husband's arm, and turns to Matt.
            "Matt, I was just getting ready to start breakfast, pleases join us!”
            The young man starts to refuse as Walker keeps staring at him, he then accepts.
            They walk slowly into the house and Matt glances up the stairs.
            "Is Angela awake yet?”
            "No she's still asleep, out with it Matt---what is going on? Are you and Angela arguing about something---and we both know what that something probably is!"
            "Daddy, I'm awake and I don't need you fighting  for me. Yes, Matt and I had an argument--but everything is o.k.!"
            Angela comes slowly down the stairs and turns to Matt.
            "What are you doing here Matt I thought our argument was settled?”
            "I'm here to pick up your Dad's motorcycle, the Indian. I told you that last night, remember?”
            Angela sees the look in her Father's eyes she knows he's about ready to explode. She grabs Matt's arm and begins walking him to the porch.
            Matt stops and turns around, reaching into his vest for an object.
            "I almost forgot this was hanging on the gate."
            Walker takes the small box, and sees a video disk inside.
            "What the hell is this?” He asks as Matt continues to walk outside with Angela.
            "Open it, Daddy!”
            Walker is still watching his daughter as she continues to pace back and forth, arguing with Matt.
            "Here Ray, go pop it into the tape player, probably one of Cooper's music tapes."
            Matt is trying to get a word in as Angela is arguing.
            "O.K. Angie---if you want me to start seeing someone else, I will!!!  You're driving me crazy with all of these rules! Tell your old man he will have to get someone else to fix that damn bike, I'm out of here!”
            Angela starts to go after Matt when a blood curdling scream comes from inside the house. She runs in and Matt is running in after her.
            "Mama---what's wrong?”


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

 

Both Angela and Matt are running into the house and Angela is calling for her Mother.

They hear her screaming in the den as they hear other voices screaming and the sound of someone getting brutally beaten. Angela sees her Mother falling to the floor, Walker is trying to catch her and little Ray is crying.
            "Mama, what's wrong? Daddy, what happened?”
            Matt is staring at the TV set, "Oh my God! Angie, look at the TV!”
            Angela stares at the scene before her three men are beating a younger one that is tied to a chair. Her eyes become large and then she starts screaming.
            "Oh my God, COOPER!”
            Walker is trying to get Alex upon the couch Matt rushes over to help him. Ray runs into his Mothers' arms.
            Walker screams back at the TV, clenching and unfolding his fists.
            "Those sons of bitches have my son--I will beat them to death with my bare hands!”
           
Angela runs to her Father, "Who are those people that are hurting Cooper, and why?”
            The beatings stop and Nagan's face is shown.
            "We have your son, Mr. Ranger man and as you can see---he is being well taken care of---hit him again!”
            Again the beatings start and both Alex and Angela are screaming for them to stop.
            "Are you enjoying the show, Mr. Ranger man---in exactly one hour you will get a phone call giving you instructions on what to do.  In the meantime, I have to get back to  Jr 'boss man'---he will be so sorry for ordering me around. In the meantime if you try to get in contact with the police or that FBI partner of yours, we will start cutting off body parts----do you understand me?”
            Ray runs over and turns the volume off, then runs back to his Mother.
            The minutes pass like hours as the Walkers wait to hear the demands.
            Finally the call has come---$10 million by sundown.
            "We have to call the banks, it's impossible to get that much money by sundown, not to mention that it's Saturday!”
            "That is your problem, better start making the calls---but only to the banks. No police, no rangers, and no FBI!”
            Walker is squeezing the phone so hard that it's starting to crack.
            "I have a better idea, you son of a bitch---release my son and face me---I will take all 3 of you!”
            "I know about your martial arts, I'm not crazy. You have my orders---get the money!"
            "Not until I talk to my son. Put my son on the phone----now!!!!
            They watch as the man slams the phone into the young man's head.
            "Talk