Time Heals All Wounds
By Murph (Big_Tmurph52@yahoo.com)
Some of you may recognize a part of one of CN’s movies in this one. It’s what gave me the idea in the first place. Hope you enjoy it!
It was a trap. Trivette and Walker knew it
the moment they saw the set up. An hour earlier they had been sent to a closed
lumberyard to meet with an anonymous man who claimed to know the whereabouts
of the kidnapped child. As they stood outside the yard, Walker’s eyes roamed
over the fencing, piles of wood, machinery, and outbuildings. Too damned many
places to hide he thought grimly to himself. He looked at his partner and
the two rangers that had accompanied them.
“This is gonna be dangerous,” he began, “you guys sure you want to go along?”
The older Ranger gave Walker a small grin. “Cordell, when hasn’t an assignment with you been dangerous? Of course I want to go along.” Said Ranger Sam Bernstein as he pulled his revolver from his holster.
Ranger Danny Luker was much younger and inexperienced, but he’d heard the tales of Walker exploits. He definitely wanted in. “I trust you to get us through, Walker,” he said earnestly.
Walker flinched undetectably at his words. He’d heard them before, but now was not the time to remember when and where. He motioned toward the entrance to the yard. All three men, guns drawn followed him as he moved toward it. Stopping at the entrance, Walker said in a low voice. “Sam, you and Danny swing around the left. Trivette and I will take the right. If you see anything holler. We’ll meet in the back and come down the middle together. Keep your cover as much as possible, don’t get out into the open.”
The four split up. Walker and Trivette had just about finished checking the right side of the yard with no results when they heard a gunshot, a scream, and then silence. They raced toward the source of the sounds. Just as they rounded a corner, shots rang out again and they dived behind some crates to avoid the spraying bullets. Walker motioned for Trivette to cover him. He raced forward to a closer crate as Trivette shot in the direction of the shooter. Suddenly, all gunfire ceased, and in the weird silence that followed, Walker and Trivette could hear the distinct sound of laughter.
Just in front of the crate Walker was hiding behind was a cleared area. Trivette had a better view of it, and he watched as a large, dark man emerged from behind a short brick wall carrying a body. The man threw the body on the ground about 30 feet from Walker who was now peering over his cover. Stepping back, he reached behind the wall and brought out another man, still alive, and forced him to kneel. Trivette could make out what looked like an automatic machine gun in the man’s hands.
“Rangers! Give it up now! Maybe I will spare this one.” He bellowed. “I just want YOU Walker!”
To Trivette’s surprise Walker stepped from behind his crate, his gun leveled at the dark man. “Give it up now,” Walker said evenly. “before anyone else gets hurt.”
“Put your gun down now Ranger,” a quiet voice behind Trivette spoke.
Knowing the enemy had flanked them, Trivette slowly laid his weapon down. He turned to see a masked man holding a sinister looking automatic. “Give me your handcuffs the man said in the same quiet, steady voice. Quickly, he locked the silver cuffs in place.
“Let’s go,” he indicated for Trivette to walk toward his partner. Walker had his back turned toward his partner, and his focus was on the scene in front of him. He didn’t have a chance to make a move as the man made a wide circle around him shoving Trivette in front of him.
“Drop the weapon,” said the quiet voice as they came into Walker’s sight. He held the automatic to Trivette’s head.
Walker put his weapon down. “If you want me, then let them go.” He said tersely. The big, dark man laughed inanely again.
“Suffer, Captain.” He said. “Suffer, suffer, suffer, just like me……..” he began to chant.
“Shut up!” the other man clipped out. “We’ll take them with us. But, this one will serve as kindling to cover the scene.” He said indicating the prone body of Sam Bernstein. “Get the gasoline, Bernie.”
The dark man went behind the wall and returned with a can of gasoline. He began to soak the still form on the ground. Danny, still on his knees, groaned. The quiet voice ordered Walker, Danny, and Trivette to move away from the body. A lighted match fell and with a whooshing sound the fire was started. Trivette and Danny turned away in horror, but Walker thought he had seen a movement just before the fire was lit. He stared intently at the body. Just then, a terrible scream pierced the air.
Walker, realizing that Sam was still alive, sprang toward the now-struggling figure. He got about 10 feet before the impact of a .22 caliber bullet grazing against his right temple dropped him.
Trivette reacted to the situation instinctively. Before the quiet man could get another bullet off, his foot caught him just under the chin. It was a knockout blow.
Danny too, regained his composure. In an instant he was on Bernie, knocking the machine gun to the ground. Two hard lefts and a roundhouse kick to the face succeeded in felling the man. He ran to Trivette to help him out of the handcuffs.
Meanwhile, Walker, not quite unconscious, struggled to reach the now silent body of his friend Sam. In his injured mind, the screams of “Walker!, Walker!” coming from his partner behind him sounded like they were coming from the dying man. His last conscious thoughts were of desperately trying to help Sam.
Alex looked at her watch again. It was 7:30
p.m., and her husband should have been home by now. Sighing, she reached over
and picked up his salad and placed it in the refrigerator. Her thoughts drifted
to her cowboy. He would be hungry whenever he got home, she smiled to herself.
Their first four months of marriage had just flown by. Looking around the
cheerful ranch kitchen, she marveled at how this place felt so much like home
already for her. The sharp ringing of the phone broke her reverie.
“Alex?” It was Jimmy’s voice, and her stomach tightened at the tone of it.
“What is it Jimmy?” She asked, her voice worried.
“You need to come to St. Matthew’s,” Jimmy instructed. “Alex, Walker is gonna be okay, but I think he will need you.”
“I’m on my way Jimmy,” Alex replied. She hung up the phone and grabbed her keys. Feeling her heart beating painfully against her chest, she drove as quickly as she could to the hospital. What terrible thing had happened to her husband now? She wondered if it had to do with a child. Walker was especially sensitive to children being hurt. Little did she know that there was a far deeper hurt in him that had never healed. And that deep wound was about to be painfully reopened. It would be the first test of their young marriage.
Jimmy glanced up and spotted Alex coming
down the hall toward him. As she neared, he held out his arms for a much-needed
hug. She pulled him to the couch nearby and made him sit down.
“It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever witnessed,” Jimmy ended with, after telling her the whole story. “I know he’s going to feel responsible Alex. Those guys knew him from somewhere. The one called him Captain.”
“Captain?” Alex repeated. “Do you think they know him from when he was a Marine in Vietnam?”
“Could be…..” Jimmy started to say, but stopped as the doctor came by.
“Mrs. Walker?” He asked. When Alex nodded, he continued. “Well, your husband has a very hard head. He sustained a hairline fracture to the skull. He will need to be watched for the next 24 hours, and will have some bad headaches until it heals.” The doctor hesitated, then continued. “He is also hard-headed when it comes to getting his way. He has refused to let me admit him for the night.”
Alex couldn’t help smiling. She knew how much Walker hated hospitals. “Doctor, can I watch him at home?” she asked.
Seeing the sincerity in her face, and knowing that she would probably give his patient more attention than the busy nursing staff, the doctor relented. He instructed her on what to watch for, gave her a prescription for some pain pills and told her to make an appointment at his office the next day.
Minutes after he left, the nurse escorted Alex to the room where her husband was. As she came through the curtained entrance, Alex was a little taken aback by Walker’s appearance. His shirt was unbuttoned, his jeans smeared with ash. A large, white bandage covered his right temple. All around the bandage his skin was purple-colored. His right eye was very swollen. More than the obvious physical trauma that was evident, she was struck by his body language. He seemed almost defeated. His shoulders sagged. He was rubbing the right side of his head in obvious pain. His breathing was faster than normal, and the hand that was resting on his knee shook noticeably.
He looked up when she came nearer. His attempt at a smile almost broke Alex’s heart. She could swear that she’d seen tears in his eyes, and a haunted look that bothered her even more.
“Hey, Baby,” he said softly, using the name for her that he reserved for intimate moments.
Alex put her arms around him, and pulled his head to rest on her shoulder. She heard him shudder softly and felt tremors run through his sturdy frame. No words were needed. Alex had learned a long time ago that he would be able to talk when he was ready, but now he needed her physical closeness. Stroking his back gently she felt some of the tenseness begin to fade from his body.
“Hey, Cowboy,” she looked into his face. “You want to go home?” Again, his eyes brimmed with tears, and he could only nod. Carefully, Alex buttoned his shirt and led him through the hall. Trivette was slouched on the couch where she had left him. He stood and looked at them, uncertain what to say.
“Jimmy,” Alex saved him from asking, “we are going home. I’ll give you a call tomorrow.” She smiled at him. “Thanks for being here, and for calling me.”
Trivette looked at the pale man by her side. Walker had his eyes closed and was breathing heavily. He was in pain, and needed to lie down. “Goodnight then,” he said softly. He watched as Alex continued leading his partner down the hall and out to the parking lot. He’ll be okay Trivette thought. He always manages to pull himself through.
Walker hadn’t said more than ten words on
the ride home. Alex was more than a little worried, but she kept her worries
to herself. At the ranch, she helped him up the steps to the bedroom. His
head was pounding, but he wanted to get a shower. The smell of the burnt ash
on his clothes and body was causing him to become nauseous. Alex helped him
undress and left him to take a shower.
Walker washed quickly, scrubbing the smell from his body, but unfortunately not able to scrub the memories of his friend’s horrible death from his mind. He toweled off and put on a pair of sweat pants. His mind kept creeping back to this afternoon. Flashes of gunfire, and a man laughing played in his ears. His eyes saw the flames. His ears heard the sound of his own name being called out in terror. He knelt in front of the toilet as a wave of nausea swept over him.
Alex came into the bedroom to check on her husband. She didn’t see him, but immediately recognized the sounds of someone getting sick in the bathroom. He was bent over the toilet as she entered the bathroom. She wet a clean washcloth and handed it to him. She stubbornly stayed in the bathroom until he was finished knowing full well that he was embarrassed to have her there. After he brushed his teeth, she led him to the bed where he gratefully stretched out. Alex climbed in next to him and pulled the covers up. She lay with her head on his chest as her left arm curled across his abdomen and held him possessively.
“I love you, Cowboy.” She whispered. He didn’t answer.
Alex woke sometime during the night with
a feeling of dread. She had moved in her sleep and was no longer curled next
to Walker. Hearing his heavy breathing, she rolled over and sat up. He was
sweating, and his chest rose and fell in short jerks. He was clasping the
covers tightly, moaning slightly, and the rapid movement of his eyes under
their lids told her that he was having a nightmare. He must have bumped his
wound because the bandage was soaked in blood. Alex wondered how she should
wake him up.
Suddenly, Walker sat up and opened his eyes. He looked wildly about in confusion. Alex reached out and cupped his face with her hands.
“Shhhhh…., honey.” She said quietly. “It was a nightmare. You’re okay, I’m here with you now.” She lightly stroked his beard, something she knew had a soothing effect on him. Gradually his breathing slowed as he recognized her. His hand went to his head, and he groaned slightly in pain.
Alex got up from the bed and went into the bathroom. She got a glass of water, a towel, the first aid kit, and the pain medication the doctor had given her. Returning to the bedroom she sat on the bed next to him and held out the water and pills. Reluctantly Walker swallowed the pills. Alex carefully rubbed the towel over his chest and back to dry him off.
“Thank-you,” he said gratefully.
“I need to change the dressing on your head.” She said. He winced as she removed the bandage and gently wiped off the blood. As quickly as she could, she finished and gave him a new dressing. Walker was still sitting in bed when she returned from putting the first aid supplies away.
She snuggled up next to him. “Honey, do you want to talk about it?” she inquired.
Walker tensed. His aching head screamed at him for rest, but he knew the nightmare would come back and he couldn’t face it again. He wanted to tell Alex, but he held back. He didn’t know why.
“Just a bad dream from a long time ago,” he said. “I haven’t had it in a long time. I guess today must have brought it on. Don’t worry, Alex, it’s nothing.”
He got up from the bed. “Walker,” Alex protested, “you are supposed to rest!”
“I will,” he said. “I just want to go downstairs for a little while. I am fine. You go back to sleep.” He smiled and kissed her on the head. Then, without giving her time to answer, he turned and slipped from the room. Alex sighed and lay down, knowing she would never be comfortable with his stoicism in the face of problems. He would seek her help in his own time and on his own terms. She drifted off into a fitful sleep.
Downstairs, Walker paced restlessly around
the house. His mind filled with unwanted memories of a place far away, and
a war he had labored so hard to forget. He had recognized the two murderers
this afternoon. Their faces still fresh in his mind after all these years.
They had once been his friends, but months of torture and physical hardship
had broken their minds. And they had blamed him. For he was their leader.
He was responsible for their conditions. He should have helped them. He should
Walker realized that the past never truly goes away. It waits in secret, dark places of your mind. It waits……
Alex snatched up the receiver. “Hello.” She answered.
“Alex, its Jimmy. I thought you said you’d call? Is he all right?”
Alex twisted the phone cord as she debated how to respond. The accident had happened on a Friday and here it was Sunday. Walker was not sleeping and his headaches seemed to be getting worse rather than better. Tomorrow she had to go back to work, and she was wondering what more she could do. Should she try to help her husband all on her own? But, she knew that a close friend like Jimmy would definitely notice that all was not right.
“He is still having some headaches Jimmy,” she replied. Hesitantly she added, “And he doesn’t sleep at night.”
“Because of the headaches?” Jimmy asked.
“No,” Alex decided it couldn’t hurt to tell her good friend. “He is having the most awful nightmares. He wakes up soaked in sweat and shaking. I really think he can’t sleep without having them.”
Jimmy’s voice was calm over the phone, “Alex, you know that he can’t continue like this. You need to get him to talk about the nightmares.”
“I know that Jimmy. But, he is the way he is. And for some reason, he won’t talk to me about this.” Alex was frustrated.
“Is he coming to work today?” Jimmy inquired.
“Yes, he looks terrible, and I know he feels even worse, but he wants to go.”
“Let me try to get him to talk then.” Said Jimmy. “Can I tell him I know about the nightmares?”
Alex was grateful. “Sure. At this point I would rather he be mad at me than let him continue down this path. I’m really worried about him.” She hung up the phone. Looking out the window she saw her husband coming out of the barn. He took a few steps, then sat heavily on a bale of hay. His hand went to his right temple, and Alex knew it was another headache. She frowned and went to go get his pain medication.
Trivette was sitting at his computer when
Walker came in. He tried to watch his partner without making it obvious. Walker
seemed to be okay. His right eye and temple were still swollen slightly and
a large purple bruise was still very obvious. Mostly Trivette noticed his
eyes. They looked……….haunted was the only expression to describe them. Whatever
these dreams were about, they definitely had a grip on his partner.
“Hey, Partner!” Jimmy looked up. “How’s the head?”
“I’m fine.” Walker gave his patented response in a soft voice. He even managed a grin. “What’ve we got going today?”
“Well, if you’re up for it, we need to question those two guys who killed Sam. They are claiming to know you. Did you know that?” Trivette asked.
“Yeah, I figured they would. I do know them, or I did a long time ago.” Walker’s face clouded, and he brought his right hand to his temple where a headache was just beginning to start.
Trivette looked closely at his partner. “Do you need to step back from this one, Walker?” He asked with concern.
Walker looked up and quickly replied, “I said I was fine Trivette!” He strode across the room toward the elevators with his surprised partner following.
Downstairs Walker and Trivette let themselves into the interrogation room. Already waiting was Scott Wilson, decorated Vietnam Marine Corps veteran. Now charged with murder. His hate-filled eyes bored into Walker immediately.
“Nice seeing you again, Captain.” His voice dripped with sarcasm.
“That was a long time ago Scott,” Walker replied evenly. “Why are you here in Dallas now, and why did you kill an innocent man?”
Wilson stood and walked up to Walker, who held his ground. Trivette started to make a move to reseat the prisoner, but Walker stopped him. The two men stood facing each other – eye to eye.
“I’m here because I am dying. Really. I have about two months. I couldn’t go without making sure that you pay for what you did to us over there.” He said in a low voice, his eyes never leaving Walker’s. “As for your friend, there are no innocent men in war. I learned that a long time ago. From you!”
Understanding dawned on Walker’s face. But, understanding of what Jimmy wondered?
“You killed him to punish me?” He demanded of the prisoner.
“Oh, I hope it will accomplish so much more,” Wilson replied. “I want you to know what it is like to have your family destroyed. To watch the ones you love tortured and put to death. And all in the name of honor!” He practically spat out the last word into Walker’s face.
Trivette was beginning to get worried. His partner’s face was pale as he stared at Wilson. Finally, Walker said in a very quiet voice, “I blame myself more than you will ever know.”
Walker turned and strode out of the room. Seeing nothing more could be gained by questioning the prisoner, Trivette followed.
The rest of the day passed quickly as the two Rangers worked on their other cases. Jimmy tried once to get Walker to tell him what Sam’s murder was really all about, but Walker stonewalled him. He wouldn’t discuss the case.
At about 5:30 Walker left to go home. Jimmy took the time to call Alex, who had only worked a half day and was already home. He told her that he’d had no luck getting his stoic partner to open up about what was troubling him.
Alex was waiting for him when he stomped into the house. She could tell by his manner that he was angry. She knew it wouldn’t take him long to tell her what about.
“Alex, I wish you and Trivette would just leave me alone. I’m fine.” He glared at her. “And I don’t like it that you told him about my nightmares!”
Alex looked him steadily in the eyes. “You are NOT fine!” she practically yelled. “You haven’t slept in days, and you suffer from constant headaches. Something is bothering you, and if you don’t talk about it, it will make you really sick.” Her voice lowered. She reached out and smoothed the front of his shirt affectionately. “Honey, if you can’t tell me about your pain as well as your happiness, then what kind of a marriage do we have?”
Walker knew she was right. He was almost to the point of despair over the nightmares, but he did not want to hurt her with details of a terrible part of his past.
“I just can’t Alex,” he managed to get out. Seeing the look of frustration on her face, he brushed past her on the way to the bedroom. He left her to watch his retreating back in surprise.
Several hours later Alex peeked into the bedroom. Her husband was already asleep in bed. Being very careful not to wake him, she quietly slipped under the covers and fell into a troubled sleep.
Walker was squatting at Mike’s side. The
heat was intense, and they had no decent water to drink or food to eat. Mike’s
breathing was heavy and labored. He wouldn’t survive another bout of malaria.
Walker looked around at the other men in his command. They were dirty, malnourished,
and injured. He saw the bruises and cuts from the beatings they received at
the hands of the VC guards daily.
Suddenly, he felt tired. Not just tired, but exhausted. He wanted only to lie in a corner and die quietly. He didn’t want to be in charge anymore. He just wanted to be alone.
“Captain?” Bernie’s voice broke into his thoughts. “I know Mike would want you to decide for him. We trust you to get us through.”
Walker looked at Mike’s brother. He knew he had to make a choice. In one quick leap he stood up and shouted at the VC guards through the bamboo prison door.
“Hey, let me see the Colonel!” He called. “I want to make a confession.”
His men looked at him, and he couldn’t meet their gaze. “I have to do this, or Mike will die. He needs medicine for the malaria. If I confess, the Colonel will give it to him.”
Mike’s best friend Scott Wilson stepped closer. “They want you to confess that America is wrong. That you now see the war as a capitalist plot. You will be betraying your oath as an officer in the United States Marine Corps!”
Walker swallowed heavily. “I know,” he said in a voice barely audible. “I just can’t stand by and let him die.”
Scott continued, “But what about our honor….?”
“Honor!” Walker said angrily. “Should I uphold honor while watching an innocent man die?”
The VC took him to the Colonel who was beaming with suppressed joy at Walker’s defeat. He held the written confession out. He had been torturing this man for months trying to get him to confess. There was gleeful triumph in his wrinkled, evil face.
Walker signed it with a shaking hand. He watched as Mike was brought into the room and laid on a couch. The Colonel produced a syringe and injected the sick man. At first Mike seemed to be improving, but as Walker watched his friend began to twitch violently, and lose consciousness.
“What’s happening?” Walker cried out as the guards tied his hands behind his back. “What did you give him?”
The Colonel smirked at him. “I gave him the malaria medicine,” he said calmly. “I must have misjudged his weight, and perhaps gave him too large of a dose.”
Horrified, Walker realized his mistake. He kicked and cursed as he was dragged to a small cell. A few hours later, Walker heard a noise outside and made his way to a small window. Looking out, he saw the still form of Mike being carried on a stretcher by two guards. Setting the body on a small stone wall well within view of Walker’s window, the men quickly doused the body in kerosene and lit it on fire.
His stomach lurching at the scene, at the smell, Walker suddenly froze. His mind rebelled at what it was taking in. For in the still air, above the crackling of the flames, he began to hear the terrible screams….
“HE’S STILL ALIVE!!!!!!!!!”
Alex woke to the frightening sound of her husband’s scream. Quickly realizing that he was having another nightmare, she gently began stroking his beard.
“Honey, wake up. It’s only a dream.” She talked to him in a low voice.
Walker slowly realized that he was in his own bed, and Alex was right beside him. He sat up and immediately wished he hadn’t when a wave of pain coursed through his head. Putting his head in his hands, he moaned slightly.
“I’ll get you a pain pill,” Alex said hurriedly. She padded quickly to the bathroom and returned with a glass of water and the pill. Walker put the pill in his mouth, but Alex had to help him raise the glass because his hands were shaking so badly.
Several minutes later Walker was more relaxed. Alex sat next to him on the bed and took his large, hard hand in her small, delicate one. She looked into his very troubled gray eyes.
“Walker, who is still alive?” She said softly. He looked confused for a minute. Then he sighed and said,
“I can’t tell you.”
Walker’s heart conflicted with his brain. He wanted to tell her so much. But, he couldn’t, could he?
“Alex, you are my sun. When I look at you I see love, peace, and beauty. I couldn’t live if I knew that I had spoiled that in any way.”
Seeing the sincerity in his eyes also touched at Alex’s heart. In that special way, she knew that whatever had happened, he blamed himself. And his fear was that this would somehow change her love for him. She reached down and picked up his hand and brought it to her mouth. Gently, she kissed it.
“Darling, whatever happened, no matter how bad, it is not going to make me stop loving you. Love doesn’t work that way. I love you for who and what you are. All of you. Not just the fun, happy parts, but the hidden, sad parts as well.”
Walker looked at her. The time had come for him to trust her completely. And by telling his deepest secret, he began the journey to complete love himself. He poured out his story to her. The Vietnamese prison camp, the responsibility, his mistake of believing the word of an enemy, the awful death of his friend.
Alex listened patiently. She held him as the tears began to flow freely as years of pent up guilt were released. When he was done he looked at her trying to judge whether his story had changed her feelings for him.
She looked in his eyes. “I still see you Walker,” she said quietly. “The same kind, generous, and honorable man I have grown to know and love. Nothing that happened was your fault. I love you cowboy.” She leaned in to him and kissed him softly on the lips. Then her arms went around him and she held him as tightly as she could wanting the physical closeness to chase away the demons from his past.
Still clinging tightly together they fell back on the bed listening to each other’s heartbeats and drifting off into a peaceful, and dreamless sleep.