by Londa Pfeffer
(Max Kale is targeting those he holds responsible for his arrest and conviction years ago. Alex and Walker are among the targets.)
“C'mon Trivette. I know the way back. Let's go," Ranger Cordell Walker beckoned his partner to follow him.
The younger man turned, hesitating. It saved his life as the building now behind him exploded. The force threw Trivette off his feet, slamming him into the ground with brutal force.
Walker instinctively threw his arms up to protect his face. When he could look, he saw his partner lying face-down on the ground, unmoving.
"Trivette!" He ran to the younger man, hauling him over and up into his arms.
He could feel a pulse and rapid heartbeat under his hand. Relief made him lightheaded. He'd seen men die from lesser blasts.
"Easy, Trivette," he soothed, as much for himself as his partner. "I'll get you to a
If the injured man heard him he gave no response. "Hey, Walker!" a voice called from across the pond. The older Ranger looked up, trying to place the voice.
Knowing he had his adversary's full attention, the other man continued. "The judge was just the first one. I wanted you to see it, because I'm saving you for the last!"
"Who's that?" Trivette questioned weakly, keeping his eyes closed.
Before Walker could answer, the man laughed and turned, running toward the
"Max Kale." The older man's tone made it sound like an epithet. "Sounds like a real fun guy."
"Yeah, well he's going to be a lot less fun when I catch up with him," Walker promised, shifting slightly to avoid hurting his partner further.
Still not opening his eyes, the younger man responded, "You could probably still catch up with him." He squirmed, grimacing. "I'll be okay."
The arrival of a highway patrol car cut off any response from his partner.
“Get a med-evac chopper out here!” Walker yelled before the young blond officer had taken more than a step away from his car.
"Yes, sir!" The trooper dove back into the car and picked up the mike. "Hey," Trivette protested sluggishly, wincing. "Take it easy, Walker. I'm not dyin'."
The older Ranger knew that, but his brain taunted him with images of 'Nam and land mines, and the deadly results of shrapnel.
"Where's it hurt?" he asked, trying to focus on the present.
The younger man shifted again, wincing again as his body protested. "You want the condensed version or the unabridged?" He didn't wait for Walker's response. "Think my back took most of it."
The uniformed officer joined them, bringing a blanket and first-aid kit. "Chopper's on the way, should be here in fifteen minutes. I'm Ken Walters. Saw the smoke and figured I'd better check it out. What the hell happened?"
"Someone lured us out here, then blew up the judge's cottage." Walker nodded down at his partner. "Trivette got caught in the blast."
Looking back at the remains of the cottage, Walters shook his head. "Damn.
He's lucky to be alive."
Walker frowned. And people said he lacked tact! Focusing on Trivette, he checked the other man's pulse. Fast and shallow. Small wonder between the pain and shock.
Part of him wanted to turn the injured man over to check his wounds, but he knew such a move could be dangerous, even fatal. He'd already endangered Trivette once by turning him over.
"Hey, stay with me, partner," Walker commanded, noticing the change in
Trivette's breathing. "Don't drift off!"
"Unh ... hurts--" Jimmy winced.
"I know, but you could have a concussion. You fall asleep and--" "Yeah, I hear you. I'm awake."
"Open your eyes, buddy."
Trivette blinked several times before doing as requested. He focused on Walker's face with no trouble, for once reading the expression with ease. Reaching out, he covered Walker's hand with his own.
"I'm okay, Walker."
Officer Walters had made no effort at conversation, sensing his presence at this point was an intrusion. Now he grabbed Walker's arm, pointing to the sky. "Chopper's coming. I'll go meet them."
"Thanks," Walker said gratefully.
Walker convinced the medics that it would be a good idea for him to ride along in the chopper. They reluctantly agreed, and he threw his keys at Walters, instructing the officer to make sure the truck got back to Dallas as soon as possible.
They made good time to the hospital, for which Walker was thankful. A trauma team waited on the landing pad with a gurney and they whisked Trivette off to a treatment room before Walker had even gotten unstrapped and climbed down from the chopper.
“Thanks for the ride." He shook the pilot's hand.
“Don’t recall I had a lot of choice," the other man replied wryly, grinning to show he didn’t really mind. "I've been there myself, so it's hard to say no to a fellow officer.
Hope he’ll be ok.”
“So do I.” Walker waved as he backed away from the chopper.
The paperwork required at a hospital never ceased to amaze the Ranger. He and Trivette often griped about the paper requirements of their job, but it paled in comparison to this.
He turned, recognizing Alex's voice.
“I heard the call. They said one of you was hurt--" Her eyes widened as she
spotted the darker stains on his clothing, recognizing it as blood.
“I'm fine," he hastened to reassure. "It's not mine."
“Jimmy?" she gasped as he nodded. "How bad?"
“I don't know. The doctors are with him now."
“What happened? You said it was a simple meeting with the judge!"
“That's what we thought," Walker agreed grimly. "But it turned out the judge never left that message. It was a set-up."
"We talked to the judge, Alex. He never left that message. As we were walking back to the truck the cabin blew. Trivette had turned around to ask a question. He got caught in the blast. The judge was still inside."
"Oh, my God." She took a seat in one of the plastic chairs outside the treatment
room. "Do you have any idea who it might be?"
"I know exactly who it was, Alex. And when I get my hands on him--"
"Who? Who would do this?"
"What?" Alex paled. She remembered the name all too well. "How did Max Kale escape prison?"
Unable to settle, Walker paced in front of the Emergency Room door. "They thought he was a low-risk inmate, so they put him in a minimum security facility. Then he kills a guard and five inmates." He peered inside the room, but a curtain drawn across the cubicle prevented him from seeing his partner.
"What genius would let a psychopath like Max Kale out of maximum security?"
Alex wondered in disbelief.
"A psychiatrist," Walker returned in the same tone, finally taking a seat next to her. He picked at some lint on his hat.
Walker climbed to his feet as he saw the doctor exit the trauma room. "Your partner took some shrapnel-type wounds." Seeing the Ranger's expression, the doctor hastened to assure, "He's okay. But he'll be real sore for awhile."
The red-haired man nodded, then jumped as he heard Trivette's yelp of pain.
A moment later an orderly wheeled his gurney out into the hallway.
"Man ... will you ... take it easy!" Trivette demanded, glaring at the man. He then glanced at the doctor before turning his attention to Walker and Alex, who'd come over to join them. "Hi"
"Ah, Jimmy," Alex said sympathetically. "How're you feeling?"
The injured man shifted. "Oh, man, I got the Holy Anvil Chorus ringin' in my head. Thirty-seven stitches in my butt and back. I feel great." The sarcasm was not lost on his friends.
"You're lucky," the lovely blonde reminded him. "A little closer to that bomb blast and you'd be singing with the angels."
That didn't pacify Jimmy. "I'd like to sing to Max Kale." He shifted again. "I'll tell you ... this ... this thing hurts!"
The doctor placed a hand on Trivette's shoulder, trying to keep him immobile.
"The local anesthetic's wearing off. You'd better lie still." Turning to the orderly, he said, "Take Ranger Trivette to his room."
Walker reached out, gently touching his partner's shoulder. "Okay, take it easy."
A nurse approached the small group, informing Walker he had a phone call at the desk. The Ranger watched the orderly wheel his partner out of sight as he strode over to the phone. His relief at knowing Trivette would be okay disappeared at his concern for whoever Max Kale had targeted next.
And he had no doubt there would be another victim. Kale wouldn't rest until he'd either killed everyone he blamed for his conviction or they found him and ended his reign of terror.
With a chill Walker remembered that Alex also had a prominent place on that list.
Jimmy, will you quit bringing that damned health food in here? Some of these people may think I'm servin' bad grub.
CD to Trivette in MEAN STREETS