To Rest in Peace
C.D.'s body lay on the grass at the bank of the lake. The chair he had sat on was tipped and his fishing pole was lying there on the grass beside him. As his spirit lifted from his body, he looked down on himself and thought 'I really ought to go on that diet the doctor keeps hounding me about.' It was several moments later that it dawned on him that he was looking at himself from somewhere above the ground. He saw his friend, Jeb Murphy, leaning over him calling his name and doing chest compressions trying to kick-start his heart. It was then that he realized that he had passed over to the other side. 'Walker said that his Uncle crossed the river, well I wonder if a lake will do.' He didn't really think about it, but he felt no remorse or sadness at the ending of his life on earth. He actually felt a little numb. He had always been told that a peace would fill him when he died, but that isn't what he felt at all.
The next thing C.D. was aware of was his own funeral. It brought a tear to his eye to see his friends paying their respects. He enjoyed the bagpipes and was glad that his Scottish ancestry was being honored. He had spoken once to Cordell about his funeral and had told him what he wanted. He also appreciated the Ranger's salute and the white hat that rested on his coffin. There was Alex, tears streaming down her face as she stood next to Sydney and Gage who wore stoic expressions. He then focused on the two best friends a man could have, Jimmy and Cordell. They had been with him in good times and bad and they would find out who had done this to him.
Suddenly, C.D. found himself at his Bar and Grill. People who had been his friends as well as his patrons gathered to share memories about him. He heard Alex tell the story of how he had set her up with 'that muleheaded Ranger' on New Year's Eve. The story brought a smile from her husband who stood behind her with his hand around her waist pulling her back against him. Gage piped in with how C.D. had told him to get his own drink and that he had felt honored and accepted as one of 'the gang.' Sydney related the story of how he had said that women shouldn't be Ranger's when Gage had told a story about a bust that had required a great deal of athleticism and bravery. When Gage informed C.D. that it was Sydney who had made the bust, C.D. offered to eat humble pie and that was the moment she felt truly accepted. Jimmy told them about the time he and his friend, C.D., had painted the outhouses at the campsite. They had disagreed on the color scheme and ended up painting each other. Alex laughed as she looked back behind her at her husband remembering the scene of what she had called 'their children' chasing each other around with paint brushes, both covered in green and white paint. Walker had denied all claim to the two men and said that they were 'her children.' As the group's laughter died down, Cordell stepped in and began telling them of C.D.'s attempts to perfect his chili recipe using him as the guinea pig. Feeling guilty that his partner had taken a slug in the knee that ended his career as a Ranger, Cordell had taste tested each trial faithfully night after night. He told everyone that the reason he had gone so long without a partner before hooking up with Jimmy was that all the other Ranger's refused to ride around with him in his truck after he had eaten all that chili. He said that the stock for the parent company that made Tums plummeted when C.D. finally came up with his ultimate chili recipe. The group laughed and some cried as they shared special memories on into the night.
The first C.D. knew that there was something wrong and that there was a reason he was still down among his friends was when Jimmy sat in front of the portrait of him and said, "I guess your heart was so big and so giving, it just gave out.' C.D. knew that wasn't right. However he had died, it wasn't by natural causes; someone had killed him. He didn't feel anger exactly, but there was a sensation that he could only describe as injustice. Somehow, he had been killed, but his friends remained blissfully unaware. He watched as Alex told Cordell that she wanted to go home and as Cordell shut off the light plunging the Bar and Grill into darkness, C.D. felt an emptiness overtake him.
Alex and Walker had insisted Jimmy join them for the weekend. This was their time to say goodbye to the man who was friend, father figure and mentor to all of them. Alex insisted that the two men share their feelings and tears mingled with smiles and hugs throughout the two days. C.D. sat and listened to it all. Alex reminded them of the time Uncle Ray had prepared for death by asking each of them to become a part of Walker's family. They were family and the death of their patriarch saddened each of them, but sharing that pain brought comfort. Walker told them of how C.D. had guided and protected him when he had been so eaten up with grief after Ellen's death that he hadn't cared if he lived or died. Jimmy told them of how C.D. had steered him into a career in law enforcement. He had met C.D. by accident while in a bar drowning his sorrows over the premature ending of his football career after his shoulder injury. When a fight broke out and Trivette assisted the Ranger in apprehending the suspect he had come in for, C.D. took the time to thank him. C.D. had told him that he was wasting himself on all the self-pity and that he should find something that made a difference in the lives of others. C.D. himself had suffered a career ending injury several years later and when Jimmy had heard about the bar and grill that was being opened by a retired Ranger, he decided to see if it was the same man who had inspired him to become a police officer. He was glad to meet C.D. again and once again C.D. played a pivotal role in his life when he pulled strings to make him Walker's partner.
C.D. didn't know how much time had past. For some reason in this realm he currently existed in, time was irrelevant. The next time he checked in with his friends was the moment when Alex told Walker that they were going to be parents. Tears of joy streamed down C.D.'s cheeks as the two embraced. C.D. stood next to them and gathered them both in his arms and gave them a bear hug. He knew that these two were meant for each other from the beginning and he had gotten a great deal of pleasure watching their love story unfold. Now they were starting a family and he was as proud as any 'grandfather to be' had a right to. Looking up from his hug, he saw others encircling the expectant parents. Some of the people he had never met before, but instinctively he knew who they were. Uncle Ray of course and John and Elizabeth Firewalker, Cordell's parents and there looking like a dark haired version of her daughter was Alex's mother. There were others from generations past, each a part of the continuation of life that was created by Walker and Alex's love. There was something different about these other people; they glowed with an inner light. They exuded peace and joy and C.D. realized that they were merely visitors to this existence; they didn't reside here. C.D. pondered their presence and decided that perhaps he now knew why moments of joy were so intense. They included the joy from others who had gone on before and came back to give people who still toiled with everyday lives a sense of the constant joy that awaited them.
C.D. found himself again at the Walker ranch. It was dusk and the sun was nearly completely down. Walker sat on the porch swing alone and as C.D. watched, the screen door opened and Alex came out. "Hey cowboy, need some company?" he heard her ask. Walker looked up and reached his hand out to her as she settled next to him. Her pregnancy wasn't showing yet, so C.D. decided it must be soon after the news that they were expecting. As the two sat and rocked, C.D. sensed an air of sadness. "Penny for your thoughts," Alex said. Walker looked up and focused on her face. "I was just thinking about Juan losing his mother. He's so young to have to face life alone." "He isn't alone. His Uncle comes tomorrow and you know how special Uncles can be." Walker smiled at her comment and then sighed. "The truth is, I was really thinking about myself and the people I've lost. I guess that makes me pretty selfish huh?" "No darling, that makes you pretty human. You have lost people and I believe... You want to know what I believe?" "Always." This time Alex smiled. "I believe that God brought you into Juan's life at a time when he most needed you because you are uniquely qualified to guide him through a very difficult time in his life." "You really believe that?" "Yeah, I do. I thought the same about Lucas and I think Max was a gift to us from God so that when we found out about this baby we would know that we are ready to be parents." Walker looked directly at Alex for the first time since she had joined him on the swing and said, "I plan to spend the rest of my life showing you how much I love you and if I live to be a hundred, it will never be long enough." Alex's eyes filled with tears of happiness as she melted into his embrace. C.D. looked around and he noticed that there were no others there with them during this time of sadness. He had always thought that this was when a person's guardian angel was busiest, when you were sad. Then he looked back at the couple on the swing and realized that God knew what he was doing. Cordell didn't need a guardian angel; he had Alex.
Next, C.D. found himself at the ranch for a third visit. He wasn't sure why he kept finding himself there. He had always been welcomed at the ranch, but he was used to seeing his friends at the Bar and Grill. It would have saddened him if he had known that none of them could bear to go there without him being there, knowing he wouldn't be returning. There seemed to be a barbecue and C.D. looked around at all the faces and recognized each and every person. Alex was heavy with child and Cordell never let more than an inch or two get between them. Gage and Sydney were looking a little closer these days and he briefly regretted not being able to coax along their love affair as he had the Walker's. Next he saw two men who were his contemporaries. Rangers Cliff Jensen was there with his wife Connie and Ranger Wade Harper and his wife Betsy were also there. Finally, he spotted Jimmy over by the horse corral with a pretty woman. He drifted over to get a better look and recognized her as Ericka Carter, the woman Jimmy had pined over last year when she left town. C.D. arrived in time to hear Jimmy propose to Ericka or was it the other way around? Either way, his heart swelled as the two skipped hand in hand to share their news with the others. C.D. beamed with pride, his family was continuing to grow even without his daily guidance.
C.D. was confused at first. It had been a sunny happy day and suddenly it was raining and Cordell and Jimmy were looking so sad. What had happened? He was in a cemetery and he had a sudden fear or what passed as fear in this realm. Then he saw the tombstone and it had his name. But the ground was opened, hadn't he been gone for some time now? He listened in and followed the casket as it was raised from the ground and loaded into a hearse. Finally, he understood. Somehow, Jimmy and Cordell suspected that his death wasn't from natural causes. With those two bloodhounds on the case, whoever was responsible better run and hide.
C.D. saw an old friend walking toward him and he greeted the Ranger. "Hi Cliff, what brings you here?" "I don't know, I was standing on the steps with Sydney and Gage and suddenly I see myself lying in a pool of blood on the steps of the Justice Building." "Well friend, since you're the first person I've seen who has been able to see me since my death, I wonder if the same person who killed me is also responsible for killing you?"
It was just a flash, but Wade and his wife Betsy joined the two men. C.D. was starting to piece things together, he had spent his life on earth investigating, piecing together clues and coming to logical conclusions. He decided that the same person had killed all four of them. He was proved right when Wade told him that L'Avocat had been responsible for all of their deaths. C.D. told the others about the people he had seen who seemed filled with peace and joy. He told them that he had come to believe that he was in some sort of corridor that existed between the world of the living and whatever lay beyond. He thought that perhaps he was trapped there because his murder had not been solved. The others agreed that his theory made sense and they waited to see what would occur next. Wade left to check on his wife and Wade and Betsy left to see how their daughter was faring.
C.D. found himself in a hospital nursery. He knew, without being told, that the baby was Alex and Cordell's and she was barely clinging to life. He looked up and saw all the same people who had rejoiced in this child's creation standing watch over the incubator. Cordell's parents and Uncle Ray, Alex's mother and grandparents and great grandparents and generations of people were all assembled. All those who had contributed either through passing on their genes or by guiding the lives of those who played a part in bringing Alex and Cordell together to create this new life. The room seemed filled to capacity, but somehow when God sent his angel of life, there was ample room. C.D. felt another spirit enter the room and he looked up to see Cordell who watched the angel bless the child. The tiny infant looked over at her father's spirit and in a flash, images of her growing up played for all those in the room to see. There was a peace and calmness that filled the room as the prayers of all assembled were answered and this wee child was granted a firm purchase on life.
C.D. watched as Walker looked at L'Avocat and smiled, showing him the pin that he had pulled from the hand grenade during their fight. C.D. saw the flash and then he saw L'Avocat as he drifted away toward a dark tunnel. C.D. felt no anger toward the man, just acceptance that his time in this place that was neither here nor there was coming to an end. He looked up and saw Maisie, the woman he had loved and lost so late in his life, extending her arms toward him. He smiled as he moved toward the brilliant light that surrounded her and as he got closer, he saw that the light emanated from his friends and family who had left the earth before him.
C.D. now glowed as those he'd seen before had. He was filled with such peace and indescribable joy that he felt he would burst with it. He now had the answers to all his questions. He had worried that he would remain in the corridor for all time unless someone brought L'Avocat to justice. He now knew that there was always justice and that the justice that occurred on earth was nothing compared to God's justice. He wouldn't be seeing his friends that were still on earth too often. They had their lives to live and he would see them when they joined him in eternity. He would visit them occasionally though to share in the special times and to add a small part of his joy to theirs. That is what he was doing as he stood amongst the crowd of friends who had come to welcome Alex and baby Angela home. He looked at all the others who were there and knew that whichever world they existed in, they all shared in this moment of pure happiness. Alex was nearly overcome as her heart swelled with it and Cordell's eyes glistened brightly as he felt it too. When Cordell said, "my little Angel," he had no idea just how many of them were present, including the newest of them, Mr. C.D. Parker.
*All the usual disclaimers apply.