Ranger James Trivette barely has time to get his little Mustang to a full stop
before his 5 year old son is opening the door.
"Whoa son----slow down---you're gonna hurt yourself.
The little boy is shaking his head, "Can't daddy---got to show Aunt Alex my tooth!
And with that explanation the boy is running up the steps of the Walker home, his Father bringing up the rear.
The boy opens the door and runs in hollering, "Aunt Alex! Aunt Alex!"
Alex is in the kitchen making out her menu for Thanksgiving dinner. She hears the familiar voice calling out to her as she jumps up from the dinner table and starts hurrying towards the front door.
The boy is running towards her, all smiles.
"J.W.---what's wrong sweetheart?
J.W. runs into the blonde's arms and then starts pointing to his mouth.
"Look---Aunt Alex---my tooth gonna to fall out----and guess what?
Angela has been playing out in her playhouse and she too has heard the excited voice of her best friend and playmate. She comes running in, all smiles.
"Hi J.W.---come on---let's go play!
The boy is shaking his head and looking back to Angela---"I can't play right now, I'm trying to tell my Aunt Alex something."
Alex is laughing, "What are you trying to tell me, J.W.---what about your tooth?
Trivette sighs as he reaches down and kisses Angela's cheek and then looks to Alex, "He's trying to tell you that he's going to be losing a tooth soon----and you know what that means?
Both J.W, and Angela answer in unison---"TOOTH FAIRY!!!
Alex nods her head in understanding, "Oooooo yes---the tooth fairy, but what does that have to do with your tooth, sweetheart," she asks teasingly.
J.W. is laughing, his olive eyes all aglow against his dark skin. He nods his head up and down, and then does his arms in a circular motion.
"Money, Aunt Alex--- lots of money!
Both Alex and Trivette are trying to hide their laughs as Alex bends down to take a closer look at the dangling tooth. She touches it lightly as the boy grins back at her.
Oooooooo, you are so right---that tooth is not going to stay in there much longer---it's really loose. What did the dentist say?
Trivette smiles at his son, "The Doctor said to let it fall out on it's own, since it's not hurting him."
Now Angela is looking into her friends' mouth and making a gagging sound.
"Ugh----your tooth looks nasty J.W.---and your breath stinks!!!
Angela looks back to her Mother, "Well---it does Mama-----and you always said to tell the truth, right?
Alex takes a deep breath as she tugs lightly on Angela's nose---"Well sometimes---it's best not to say anything that hurts, that's called "being subtle! Now young lady---apologize to J.W. and the two of you go play."
Angela reaches out for the boys' hand, "I'm sorry J.W,---now let's play!! You can be the daddy, but don't throw my dolls under the furniture. My Daddy said he was going to nail your hide to the barn door if you did that again!
Trivette is laughing, "Well, so much for being subtle."
Both Alex and Trivette walk to the kitchen, Trivette heads for the refrigerator and pours some orange juice, Alex goes to her purse and takes out a bill.
"Hey---where's your old man?"
"He's out in the south field, repairing that fence again! Here, this is for J.W. when he loses that tooth."
Trivette almost chokes as he sees the $20 bill that Alex is handing him, "Alex, this is too much."
"No, it isn't! Now you take that and put it under J.W.'s pillow--nothing is too much for my Godson!"
Trivette is putting the bill away, "You're too generous where that boy is concerned, Alex, it's no wonder he's spoiled rotten!! He would live over here, he loves you guys so much it hurts!"
Alex reaches out and touches Trivette's face, " We love him too---and you---and don't forget it!!!!
Trivette remains silent as he stares back at his best friend's wife, he reaches up and takes her hand, he clears his throat.
"I don't know what I would do without you and Walker during this time. You've both been here for me and my boy--through the bad times, the good-----and now----this!"
Alex smiles, "We will always be here for you and J.W.----and when you want to talk about it---we will listen!"
Trivette again clears his throat, "Maybe someday---I can talk about it----but not yet----it still hurts too much!"
Trivette looks out to the huge playhouse that Walker has built for Angela, he sees J.W. drinking imaginary tea and holding one of Angela's stuffed bears by the ears. Angela is shaking her finger at him and telling him that's not the way to hold a baby.
"Now, what were you saying about repairing a fence----not the same one that Walker and I mended just a couple of weeks ago?"
"The very same! Walker found another section up by the highway torn down. He thinks it's the very same ones that tore it down last month!"
"Weird! Replies the black Ranger as he shakes his head. "Did Walker find the same kind of tracks, what was taken this time?"
"Same tracks---looks like bicycle tracks----and all that was taken were more apples!!
Trivette finishes his juice, "Well, guess I'd better get down there and give him a hand---will it be o.k. for J.W. to stay here till I get back?"
"Of course, you know you don't have to ask. Will you take Walker some fresh coffee, I got some made?"
Trivette grimaces, "Yeah---I'll take him some road tar----I still don't know how he drinks that stuff!"
Alex starts to reply and then she hears one of the twins exercising his lungs, "The thermos is on the counter, Jimmy---I got to go check on the twins!!!
Trivette fixes the thermos and then walks to the kitchen door and watches his son and Angela play. Now Angela is trying to show J.W. the proper way to feed the stuffed bear.
"That's too much milk J.W.---you have to burp him!"
"NO" Replies J.W.
"If you don't burp him, he will get sick!"
"I don't care---he will throw up on me!"
"But that's why you burp him. That's why my Mama burps the twins, so they won't get sick and throw up."
"I don't care, I am not going to do it!"
Angela huffs, putting her hands on her hips, she glares back at J.W.
"You ain't a good daddy J.W. My daddy always burped my little brothers when they were babies!"
J.W. continues to shake his head, "I don't want to play no more---playing with dolls is sissy stuff. I ain't no girl!!!
"Hey big guy" interrupts Trivette, "I'm going down to the fields to help Uncle Walker--you be good--o.k?"
"I will Daddy. Will you tell Unka Walka about my tooth?"
"You got it big guy---now you play nice with Angela---understood?"
J.W. frowns as he looks at the bear and the fake milk bottle---"O.k.---but I'm still not gonna burp him!"
Angela yanks the bear away, "Never mind--I'll do it. I'm a good Mama---my Mama said so!"
Trivette sighs as he heads to the door.
Trivette sees his best friend and partner straining to pull the barbed wire together and cursing under his breath.
"Hey Walkman, hold up I'll give you a hand."
The bearded Ranger takes a breather as he nods towards the back of his Ram.
"Better grab those extra gloves--the wire is really giving me fits this time. I'll probably have to replace this whole 20 foot section--they did a number on the wire this time. Cut it in several different places---hard to pull it together!"
Trivette grabs the gloves and looks around, "Alex said it was probably the same culprits that did it last time---what ya' think---some teenagers?"
"Yeah----looks that way---I found the same type of tracks, but this time there are more of them smooth and round----and some other type of tracks---like someone was dragging their feet."
"Dragging their feet?"
Walker motions for his friend to join him, "Yeah---come look at this!"
The Rangers stare down at the tracks and Trivette stares back at his friend.
"You're right---they are what appears to be--drag marks."
"Yeah---and look at this---there are some marks here that I can't quite make out. They're shaped like round balls, and the drag marks are directly behind, and then there are some other marks that aren't exactly round---sort of rough. What do you think, Trivette?"
Trivette stands up and looks around, "It's really weird, Walker---judging from these tracks, I would say about a half dozen intruders!"
Walker takes a deep sigh, "It just doesn't make any sense, the fence is always tore down right here nearest the highway, and always just a small section. The tracks all go down to the orchard where Alex's apple trees are. You can see where some of the apples have been eaten and the cores put over there in a neat little pile. That doesn't exactly describe the typical teenager--does it?"
"Not any teens that I know off, I would say that whoever is doing this is trying to be neat about it---and that definitely doesn't describe the typical teen!!!
Walker rubs his beard, "Last month when this fence was tore down, it looked like whoever did it tried to pull the wire back together--but more than likely they didn't have any gloves to protect their hands. This time the fence has a wider section cut out but I did find some old tree limbs piled up here."
"Like they were trying to hide their damage?"
"That's what I thought at first but now I'm not so sure. I think whoever was doing this was trying to make sure that none of the livestock could get through, the highway is less than a mile way."
Trivette scratches his chin in disbelief, "Now that's weird---really weird! You're saying they're concerned about your livestock. Thieves with a conscience?"
"I don't know what to make of it, Trivette. And, also where are these kids from? The nearest ranch is the Fergusons', they don't have any kids and the nearest school is a elementary ----a good 8 miles away!"
"How far is the high school?"
"The new high school is being built about 5 miles down from the Junior High---about 10 miles on the other side of the tracks."
"You know Walker, aside from just the apples being taken and your fence being torn down---it's not really---theft----would you say?"
"Trivette, I could care less about the apples---most of them have
been picked already and on their way to market. These are just the ones that never got completely ripe. But, my
fence is another thing, do you know how hard it is to replace that damn barbed
wire not to mention painful?
"Yeah, you're right Walkman I know it's aggravating and time consuming----but you got to admit---I don't think these kids meant any real vandalism!"
Walker ponders his partner's statement. He takes a deep sigh.
"You're right about that part, if they had want to vandalize anything, they could have done damage to the property, which they didn't. The tracks led straight to the apple trees and then back out. Plus, they took the time to try and fix a barricade so my livestock couldn't get out and maybe end up on the highway. But, Trivette---if they wanted the apples, all they had to do was ask. Alex and I would give them all the apples they could eat---and safer to eat. These that they stole weren't completely ripe!
You know how teens are, they aren't going to ask, it's more exciting for them to steal it and they're not going to care if the apples are ripe!"
"Something just isn't adding up, Trivette. There's something about the tracks that just don't make any sense. But, I know what I'm going to do."
"I'm going to put a couple of baskets of the remaining apples over here next to the fence, that way they can just reach over the fence and take as many as they want!"
"Think it will work?
"Well, it's worth a try----and maybe I won't have to replace my fence again.
Trivette nods his head and the two Rangers commence work on the downed fence.
The two Rangers head back to the main house, as they reach the front door they can hear Angela screaming at J.W.
Walker shakes his head and steps into the front room, the twins have been crawling around on the floor and now the screams of their big sister have them looking at her in confusement.
Walker is stepping over toys and reaching for one of the twins that is getting ready to cry.
"What's going on here? The Ranger tries to sound upset as he kisses the twin that he has picked up. "Babies crawling all over my front room---I demand what's going on here?
Angela is standing there, hands on hips, bottom lip 'pooched' out--"J.W. where is my Miss Dolly?
The boy shrugs and runs to Walker, "Unka Walka----look my tooth is going to fall out!
Walker and Trivette exchange looks and Walker sits down on the hassock, still holding the twin as he pulls his godson over to him.
"Come here partner, let me look at that----holy cow---that's really loose!
The boy's head is bobbing up and down, "I know, Unka Walka---and when it does---I will put it under my pillow and get lots of money!
Walker starts shaking his head as Alex comes from the kitchen and observes the scene. She sees the sly look coming across her husband's face.
"Well----I don't know J.W.---this can't be good.
The boy stares back at him, looking back to his Father and then to Alex.
"Why Unka Walka? The boy asks timidly.
Walker continues to shake his head, "Well, you know J.W. Thanksgiving is just around the corner---how are you going to wrap your mouth around one of those turkey legs---if you're missing a tooth?
The boy stares back at his godfather, "I got other teeth, Unka Walka----SEE!! And then J.W. opens his mouth wide.
Angela frowns as she makes another gagging sound, "And, still bad breath! You need to brush your teeth, J.W.!!
"Angela----what have I told you about being rude?
Angela stomps her foot, "Where is my doll, J.W.?
"I don't have your stinking doll, Angela!
Trivette is shaking his finger at his son, "James Walker Trivette---if you know where Angela's doll is---you better tell her---before I introduce you to my belt again!
The other twin has started to cry also as the voices are getting louder, Alex picks him up and coddles him.
J.W. frowns, and speaks softly. "Your doll is behind the washing machine!
Angela starts stomping her foot harder and looking to her daddy, "Nail his hide to the barn door, Daddy---you said you would!
"Now calm down baby---J.W.'s daddy is going to handle this, aren't you, "Trivette?
Before Trivette can reply, Angela is asking him to nail J.W.'s hide to the barn door.
"Angela ---come into the kitchen and we will get Miss Dolly out from under the washer", replies Alex.
Angela is still staring daggers at J.W., "Maybe we should put you under the washer!!!
"Angela Elizabeth---I'm not telling you again---please come in here and we will get your doll!
Both Walker and Trivette start towards the kitchen, "Hold on hon, Trivette and I will get the doll out----here Angela---hold your brother.
The Rangers retrieve the doll and within minutes, the little spat between the Walker and Trivette kids has been settled and they head back to the playhouse. J.W. is trying to make amends with his best friend as he is trying to do his best to make the bear burp!
South field: 9pm
There are nine of them as they approach the mended fence. They see the basket of apples that are just on the other side. The tallest one shifts his body as he tries to maneuver the wooden objects under his arms. He's groaning louder as another figure approaches them.
"Here son---use your crutch to stick through the handles of the basket and then pull it up, we can then grab it and pull it over!
The boy grunts and then does as he is told. The instructions have worked and the basket is now in reach as the eager hands reach for the small fruits.
The oldest figure is watching her brood as she too reaches out and takes one of the apples.
"It was kind of the rancher to do this for us. The apples are dwindling, there's not many left.
A small female figure is staring back at her elder, her eyes are sad.
"Does this mean we have to move on?
All eyes are upon her as the woman replies, "Yes Tibby, I'm afraid so. The rancher has been generous, but we can't continue to take his fruit--that's not right!
A boy of about 10 reaches down and moves the circular wheels of his transportation. He spits the apple seeds out.
"But, they have so much---we have nothing!
They all remain quiet as the woman nods her head, "Yes, they have a bounty---but if we continue to stay here and take his apples, he could call the authorities and you know what that would mean, don't you Gary?
The boy becomes silent as the other figures gather in closer, pulling their lame bodies into a circle. There are three kids in wheelchairs, two on crutches, two pushing walkers, the last one is the little girl called Tibby, she has both legs in braces and she supports herself by leaning on the back of one of the wheelchairs. The little girl in the wheelchair is her sister, Tina.
The woman watches her brood sadly. To hang around this area any longer would certainly mean their getting caught and being sent back to the Greenlawn Institute for the Physically Impaired.
They had begun their journey just three months before, a journey that was filled with sadness and horror at the hands of the Doctors and staff at the institute.
Her name is Connie and she has seen first hand what the staff was doing to these kids, over medicating some and others being denied their medicine completely.
She had made reports to the police in Greenlawn, a small Texas town near the Louisiana border. The police had investigated, but found no evidence of abuse as the Doctors and staff quickly covered their tracks and sent the abused kids out to foster homes till the investigating was over. Then they were brought back and their abuse increased, along with Connie's.
For weeks she endured punishment from the staff, but her greatest pain was watching the kids being punished for no reason at all.
She watched helplessly as the wheelchairs were taken away and the children had to crawl---if they could move at all. Young Tibby had both legs crushed in a car wreck that killed both parents just 2 years before. Crawling on the floor was very painful to her, as she would have to also help to drag her sister across the floor to the cafeteria and to bathroom facilities.
They had been on vacation, returning home from a trip in the Colorado Rockies. Tibby and her sister were riding in the back seat when a logging truck lost control of his load, while climbing a steep hill. The logs went through the windshield, killing the parents instantly and landing on top of Tibby's legs. Her legs were crushed at the knees, and her little sister suffered spinal injuries. When no one claimed to be family, the girls were sent to countless foster homes.
The handicaps of the two little girls proved to be too much for the foster parents and finally Tibby and Tina were sent to Greenlawn.
Gary is almost ten, of oriental descent and has been in a wheelchair since he was two. His father walked out on his Mother and him when he was a small child, the Mother could no longer support them and he was abandoned and left alone to defend for himself in a small, dirty apartment outside of Dallas. Neighbors called the police and soon Gary was going to several different institutes too, until finally ending up at Greenlawn.
Barbie is a beautiful black girl and she's also around 10. She has Downs Syndrome, her sight and hearing is impaired, and she has spent her whole life at Greenlawn, born out of wedlock to one of the nurses who had been raped several times by the male nurses.
Sam is the oldest boy on crutches, around 16 and was committed to the institute by his parents, just the year before. The Doctors said he was autistic, but Connie has always believed that Sam's handicap was something hidden deep inside his young mind, something of horrific proportion that he refuses to open that door to the outside world. His mobility is limited and he walks with a slight limp. The crutches are new to him, as he would refuse all help given him, except the kindness of Connie.
Judy and Raina are around 8, both on walkers and both have moderate cases of mental retardation. Each of them are constantly smiling and laughing, and like so many children like them---totally unaware of their handicaps making them different from normal kids.
The youngest is a Native American boy, he's called simply "Bo. He's around 5, and nothing is known about the boy, he was simply left on the doorsteps of the institute, and Connie was the one that found him. She took the small bundle under her care and gave him the name of "Bo" after a beloved pet dog. He pushes the wheelchair for the almost blind Barbie.
They were all "her children" so to speak and she loved them all. It was only these eight that she could save from the institute, but she thought of the others that were left behind that she could not save and she wept often.
Their escape came on the morning that a small fire had started in the laundry room. She had her suspicions on how that fire got started, but she didn't question it's diversion. While the staff was busy putting out the fire, Connie had pulled her old station wagon to the side entrance and very quickly loaded the kids up and headed West, not caring where they were going. Any place was better than Greenlawn, and the kids were happy.
"Connie? Tibby is pulling on the sweater of the woman. "Where do we go now?
The woman looks down at the empty basket of apples, the cores have been piled neatly to it's side.
She takes a deep sigh and looks at the faces of each child. None of them question her decisions as they all know that this is the only person that has ever shown them kindness, much less love!
"I guess we go back down to that old shed that's over the highway and try to get some sleep, tomorrow we head West again.
Gary shifts his wheelchair around and looks back over the fence, he sees the cattle.
"I'm sure hungry, Miss Connie---we haven't eaten in weeks, except for these apples and that squirrel that you and Sam caught. That rancher was kind enough to give us these apples---maybe we could ask----for something to eat----maybe some soup?
Connie reaches down and touches the young boy's cheek, "I know you're hungry, we all are----but we can't take the chance. In another week we will reach our destination and we will all be safe!
Sam makes a grumbling noise, staring back at his leader.
Connie tries to smile, "I know you're upset with me---but we can't trust anyone---not yet!
Young "Bo" makes a yelping noise and Connie runs to him.
The boy is holding his mouth and the tears are threatening to fall. Connie pulls him closer and kisses his cheeks.
"It's that darn tooth again, isn't it?
The boy nods his head, "It hurts Miss Connie.
"I know it does my little one, would you please let me try and pull it?
"Noooooo," the boy starts to cry.
"Ok., o.k.---I won't mention it again---I just wish it would fall out on it's own.
"Miss Connie, Miss Connie----a car is coming! Warns Tibby as she is scrambling to get her sisters' wheelchair to the side of the road, the others are trying to get out sight also.
They all watch silently as the dark green Mustang drives past them and then up to the highway. They have seen the young boy and girl in the car, they are playing with a small object in their hands.
The car pulls out on the highway as the nine kids all watch till the car is merely a small dot heading down highway 199.
Connie shakes her head sadly as Tina pulls up beside her.
"What kind of toy were those kids playing with, Miss Connie?
Before Connie can answer, Gary replies, "It's some kind of computer---I've seen them before--you can play games on them.
"Yes Gary, you are right----how did you know that?
"I saw some of the aides playing with them, you can also hook them up to the TVs and play more games. I'm not stupid---I see all sorts of things going on!
"No one is accusing you of being stupid" replies Tibby, "it's just that many of us have never seen those gadgets.
"O.K. kids---it's time to get back to the station wagon and get these wheelchairs loaded and try to find that old shed again. Come----it's getting dark.
Walker and Alex are bathing the twins and getting them ready for bed.
Hon---are you sure it was o.k. to let Angela go home with J.W.?
Alex is having a hard time holding on to young Cooper, he's laughing and splashing the water back at his Mother.
"Yes sweetheart---she said she wanted to go and we promised her she could."
Walker is now putting pj's on Cordell, the boy is falling asleep.
"I don't know Alex----they argue so much when they're together, then when they aren't together---they are wanting to be--"with each other"----go figure!
"Honey---that's the way it is with kids----Angela will be fine. Jimmy has moved into that new apartment and he made sure that Angela would have her own bedroom when she came to visit.
"I suppose you're right, I just worry about her being away from home.
Alex is now trying to dress Cooper, he's fighting her all the way, she looks to her husband.
"You're still overly protective of your baby, honey------ it's not like we are in the habit of letting her stay over with just "anybody's kids". J.W. has been the only one, but I'm sure if Cody and Jodi lived nearby, Angela would be spending the night with Gage and Syd's kids."
"Come here you little varmint," Walker is now reaching for the youngest twin, "why are you giving Mommy such a hard time?
Alex takes a long sigh as she looks down at her wet clothes, "Because Coop is always the last one to want to get out of the bathtub, and equally hard to dress for bed!
Walker laughs, "Maybe we should just let them sleep in the buff----sure would save on bedclothes.
"No way! Snaps Alex, "My boys are going to learn good sleeping habits, parents who let their kids sleep in the nude or other type of clothes other than sleepwear are just "lazy parents" in my opinion!
"Easy Counselor---didn't mean to open up a can of worms! He holds Cooper up for inspection. "What ya' think?
Alex smiles as she kisses both of her sons, "You do a good job, daddy---now snap the bottom shut so your son's jewel can't get pee all over his bed!!
"Yes ma'am" smiles the bearded Ranger----"and speaking of Gage and Syd and the kids, are they still coming for Thanksgiving?
"I talked to Syd last night, she said everything was "go", and that Cody had already packed his toys in his suitcase. Gage has cleared his calendar and they've made flight reservations. They leave Tucson on the 23rd!
"Good, it'll be good to see them again, I sure miss my two best Texas Rangers, aside from Trivette.
"I know---I miss them too and we haven't even got to see Jodi yet!
"What about your Dad, when will he be here?
"He's helping a friend on a case, but he says he'll definitely be here----with early Christmas presents!
"Early Christmas presents? Walker glares back at his wife. "We're not even through with Thanksgiving yet?
"I know" answers Alex as she grabs her robe and starts towards the master bath. "But, you know my Dad---he likes to be on top of everything--this is the twins' first Christmas---so be prepared!
Walker reaches down and kisses each of his sons, Cordell is already asleep, Cooper is still fighting the sandman.
"Yeah, I know how your Dad is---I hope you reminded him of the limits on spending for the kids' Christmas presents!!"
Alex shakes her head, "You should know by now that grandparents don't set limits----so please honey---don't get in another argument with him---o.k?
"O.k.---and speaking of dumplings."
Alex's brow arches, "We're not talking about dumplings, when did that sneak into the conversation?
Walker takes one final look back at his sons and then follows Alex into their bedroom.
"We are too talking about dumplings---cause anytime Thanksgiving is mentioned---dumplings aren't far behind! And since Gage is going to be here, I want an extra big batch of dumplings cooked, you know how I have to fight that guy to get my share! And, I only ask for chicken and dumplings once a year---because they are fattening!
"Walker---you never get your fill of dumplings--I could fix dumplings galore and you still say it's not enough.
The Ranger reaches out and pinches his wife's buttocks, "That's because your dumplings taste sooooo delicious---especially the leftovers, when there is any! Then I can melt cheddar cheese over them!
Alex makes a face at the thought of what her husband has just mentioned, "Honey---you must be the only person in the world that likes cheese melted on top of dumplings!
No, I'm not--I know someone who likes them that way, just as much as I do!
"Who, pray tell?
Walker grins and replies, "Sasquaw!
"Sasquaw? That woman writer that has been trying to write our story, how do you know that?
Walker grabs a fresh pair of briefs as he follows his wife to the bath.
"I saw it mentioned in one of her biographies, she said it was one of her favorites, along with another favorite of mine too---pecan pie!
"Oooooh great, I suppose you're going to tell me that she loves it hot with ice cream on top?
"Nope, she likes it slightly warm or cold---never hot!
Alex stops and turns to face her husband, "Tell me sweetheart---would you like to invite this Sasquaw to Thanksgiving dinner too? Remember, that would mean you would have two people to fight for your dumplings!
Walker ponders the suggestion and then shakes his head, "Nope, that wouldn't work. The biography also said she doesn't do holidays because she hates to cook. Prefers to spend time at her lake with her three dogs!
Alex repeats to herself, "Doesn't like to cook---lucky woman, how does she get away with that?
Dallas - Trivette's Apartment
The black Ranger is looking in on his son and Angela. He shakes his head as he sees the little bedroll that J.W. has laid down beside Angela's bed.
"What was the use of getting an extra bedroom if J.W. is still going to sleep in Angela's room?
He walks over slowly and reaches down to pick up his son, the boy stirs slightly, his arms going around his father's neck.
Trivette takes the boy back to his own room, covers him up and kisses his cheek. He then goes back to check on Angela, pulling the covers up around her. He brushes her long auburn hair back, then reaches over and kisses her forehead.
The Ranger returns to his front room, the fireplace is lit and he settles back to enjoy a small glass of wine. The memories of the last year rush at him, the arguments with Erica, her moving out, and the endless nights of comforting his son. He had started to drink and if it hadn't been for the Walkers, he might have traveled down a road of no return.
He sips the wine slowly and says under his breath, "What happened, Erica---we were so happy and then all of a sudden you started changing?
A small voice answers, "Daddy, are you talking to Mommy?
The Ranger is startled as he looks to his son standing in the doorway, rubbing his eyes.
"J.W., I thought you were asleep son?
"I woke up, I was having a bad dream.
Trivette motions for his son to join him in the recliner, he moves over to make room for him.
"A bad dream, what kind of bad dream?
"I was dreaming that the tooth fairy wasn't gonna leave me any money for my tooth when it falls out. Can she do that daddy?
The Ranger smiles and pulls his son closer," I don't know son, did she give you a reason for saying that?
"No" the boy answers, his olive eyes growing wide. "Is she mad at me, daddy----like Mommy?
"J.W.---your Mommy is not mad at you, why do you think that?
The boys' eyes begin to fill with tears, "'Cause she left me, daddy----and you too!
Trivette has to fight his anger as he tries to soothe the boy's reasoning, "Son, your Mommy is not mad at you or me. It's just that sometimes grownups fall out of love and they have to try and make another life with someone else. But, your Mother still loves you, don't ever forget that! You are not the reason your mommy left---understand that, son?
The boy starts to cry, the tears clinging to his long curled up lashes. "I'm sorry Daddy, I didn't mean to make you mad!
Trivette grabs his son and starts holding him tighter, kissing the side of his face repeatedly, "J.W. I'm not mad at you son. I could never be mad at you, you are the most important person in my life---I love you!
"Then, why do you get mad when I talk about mommy?
Trivette sighs, "I'm just mad at myself for allowing this to happen---if I had treated your Mother better----then maybe---maybe your mommy would still be here!
"Will mommy be at Aunt Alexs for Thanksgiving dinner?
"I don't know son, when I tried to call her last night, there was no answer at her place.
"Call her again, daddy---please!
Trivette looks at his watch, "O.k., but it's almost midnight , she might not be home!
Call her anyway, daddy!
"O.k., I will call her and you can ask her to come home for Thanksgiving---alright?
The boy is all smiles as he watches his daddy dial the number. Trivette has let the phone ring at least a dozen times, a voice answers and Trivette hangs up the phone quickly. He turns to his son.
"I'm sorry J.W. she's not home---we'll try again tomorrow night.
J.W.'s joy turns to sadness as he slides down out of his Father's chair, he starts walking back to his room and then he turns around and says to his Father.
"Mommy sure stays out late a lot since she left us, she always made me go to bed early, why's that daddy?
Trivette is speechless, remembering the voice at the other end, he had heard it before, he didn't care to talk to that person.
"I don't know why Mommy stays out so late, but she's an adult---and adults can do that. Now go back to bed and tomorrow night, we'll try again!
It's another restless night for Trivette as he keeps replaying his son's questions and the voice on the other end. He slams his fist into his pillow, rising from his bed.
"There's no use
in trying to sleep" and he wanders aimlessly down the hall to his son's
room. The boy is not there, so Trivette goes to Angela's room. He finds his son sleeping beside
Angela's bed, rolled up in his favorite blanket. The Ranger smiles and lays
another blanket across each of them. He sits down in the floor and watches them
Connie is staring down at the two chickens with their necks broken, she looks around at each of the kids. They are avoiding her eyes.
She takes a deep breath and then walks up to Sam. He moves nervously on his crutches and tries to scoot away.
"Wait a minute, Sam----you did this, didn't you?
Sam remains silent and Connie is getting angry.
"Sam, how could you? I told all of you not to bother that man's property, I was trying to be very careful about arousing any suspicions of our being around---and now you take his chickens?
"It wasn't that Rancher's chickens, Miss Connie---and Sam wasn't the only one that took them!
Connie shakes her head, "Gary--I should have known you would be mixed up in this, now just who's chicken did you kill?
All of the kids are staring back at Gary and Sam, Tibby shakes her head sadly "we know you did this because we're all hungry, but now that rancher will call the law now that his chickens are disappearing!
"I told you, it wasn't the same rancher---it was down the highway from his place. Sam and I snuck out after everyone was asleep and we went looking for food. It was sure a long haul, but after we saw them chickens, our mouths started drooling---we were so hungry. Please don't be mad, Miss Connie!
Connie is trying hard not to be angry as she envisions the chickens cooking over a open-pit flame.
"How did you manage to catch them? She asks suspiciously.
Gary and Sam exchange looks and Gary smiles, "Sam can move pretty fast when he wants to, huh Sam?---And, that's all you need to know, Miss Connie. The food is here---let's eat!!!
The kids all look to Connie, Judy and Raina are making grunting noises and rubbing their stomachs, the other kids begin smacking their lips.
"I can help you to skin them, Miss Connie."
"You don't 'skin' chickens, Tibby---you 'pluck them smirks Gary.
"At this point, I don't care how you get the feathers off---let's eat" replies Tina.
Young "Bo" is smacking his lips, "I can help, we all want to help.
Connie is now laughing, "O.k.---let's eat. Sam, gather the firewood, Gary, do you still have that cigarette lighter that you took from one of the aides?
Gary hesitates, "How do you about that lighter, Miss Connie?
Connie smiles and pinches his cheek, "Quoting someone else---I'm not stupid, I see a lot of things going on.
Gary swallows hard, "Yeah--right---guess I had that coming--here's the lighter Miss Connie---come on Bo, let's help Sam get the firewood.
The woman picks up the dead chickens, their necks fall precariously to the side, she grimaces. Barbie walks up behind her and takes the chickens and stares at them.
Sam walks back slowly to them, shifting the crutches and reaching into his pocket and brings out a pocket knife, hands it to Barbie and then goes back to his chore of finding firewood.
"Sam---where did you get that knife----oh never mind---you wouldn't tell me anyways. She then takes the chicken back from Barbie and mutters under her breath. "I've never cut a chicken's head off before---what am I going to do?"
Before Connie can answer her own question, Barbie has the chicken down on the ground and with one quick swipe of the knife, the head is off. She hands that one to Connie and then proceeds with the other one.
Connie can do nothing but stare at the young black girl, "How did you learn to do that?
The girl makes a grunting noise and then she smiles and starts clapping her hands.
Tina and Tibby are watching in disbelief as Judy and Raina start clapping their hands also.
"I give up" replies Connie, "I've always known that each of you kids had a special gift. I just didn't know it was on how to kill and dress out---chickens!"
They all stare at each other and then they all start laughing uncontrollably. Gary, Sam, and Bo return with the firewood and they just stop and stare at the sight before them. Gary rolls forward in his chair and then spins around.
"We eat good today, guys!
Hank Ferguson looks to his neighbor.
"Have you ever seen a more puzzling sight, Cordell? I found feathers on the ground but it looked like someone was trying to pile them up in a pile over there. Several of my hens are missing----and look at these tracks!
Walker squats down to view the tracks, one set of wheels and one set of the dragging marks.
"Beats me, Hank---I saw these same tracks down in the apple orchard. At first there were only a couple of tracks, and then yesterday Trivette and I found several of them in odd shapes. I thought they were bicycle tires making these round tracks, but they're too smooth--no tread marks!
"They're sure odd alright, and why would a chicken thief take the feathers and pile them up in neat little pile?
"That's the same way I found the eaten apples, the cores were all piled up. Trivette and I left a basket of apples near the fence, so that 'whoever' it is will stop cutting my fences!
"Yeah, that's another complaint I have, my fence wasn't cut, but it was sort of pushed over, like someone was crawling 'over' it.
The Ranger nods his head, "Yeah, I saw that on the way up here, whoever it was, they were trying hard not to further destroy your property.
Hank takes his hat off and scratches his head, "I ain't never heard of such going-ons Cordell---who do you think it is? It can't be a bum or a hobo---they aint that neat---or caring!
"Trivette and I have racked our brains trying to figure out who it could be, we think it might be some teenagers.
"Teenagers? They sure as heck ain't neat-at least not the ones I know of!
"There's only one thing to do----and that is set up some search lights down by the fences where we've had our fences cut. Set up some kind of security camera to come on and catch the thieves in action!
Hank nods his head, "I'll go for that, Cordell-----Martha would have a conniption fit if anymore of her prize hens turn up missing. I know one thing, those thieves better stay away from my hogs. Them hogs won't go easily and whoever tries to tackle one of them is going to end up missing a limb! They're kin to the Arkansas razorback and Cordell you know what they are capable of doing?
"Yes, Hank--I know how cantankerous those hogs can be---and dangerous--which brings up another subject we should consider.
"What's that, Cordell?
"Locking those hogs up in a safer pen so they can't hurt anyone!
"Now, wait a minute Cordell---this is my property and if a trespasser comes on my property--they pay the price.
"Come on Hank, think about this---whoever is doing this is not trying to hurt your property."
"So, that gives them the right to steal my chickens and maybe go after my hogs?
Walker shakes his head as he looks over at the dozen or so hogs, rolling in the mud and gouging each other for the food.
"Hank---no one in their right mind would go after one of them stinking beasts!
'YES ---THEY STINK TO HIGH HEAVEN!
"Cordell, you got no call to say that about my hogs-----they're like----my family!
"O.K. I'm sorry Hank, but I don't want someone getting hurt if they do try and go after one of them, what if it is some kid playing a foolish prank---do you want that on your conscience?
"No, Martha would skin me alive if that happened---just tell me what to do, Cordell.
"I'll call Trivette and the three of us can get everything set up in a matter of hours. Meanwhile, Hank----secure those hogs!!!
They all have had their share of the two chickens as they continue to lick their fingers over and over.
"Gosh Miss Connie---those chickens were sure good" Tina says, leaning back in her wheelchair.
Everyone else nods their heads and Connie takes a deep sigh.
"Yes, they were good. I had forgotten that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, hopefully we will be at our destination before the big day.
The kids become sad as Gary throws the last bone into the brush. "Thanksgiving is for rich folk, never the poor!
Tibby is sitting on the ground, her legs outstretched as she begins taking the braces off so that Connie can rub her legs down and put more protective gauze around the metal bindings. She nods in agreement.
"Holidays at the institute were never happy for us. It's suppose to be a time of good food and being with friends and family, but when was the last time any of us ever knew any of that?
"I remember our last Thanksgiving, it was in the Colorado mountains-----right before-----our parents were killed" Tina sniffles.
Gary shakes his head, "All I remember about any of the holidays was my Dad drinking all the time and hitting my Mom. It was even worse at the institute, the aides gave us leftovers and they were always cold.
Raina and Judy have become very silent, seeing the sadness on their friend's faces. They push their walkers away from them and lay down on the grass, snuggling up to each other. Connie takes an extra blanket and covers them both, looking around at the old shed that threatens to fall down at any moment.
She says slowly, "We can't chance a fire tonight, the wind is picking up and this old shed is like a tinderbox!
Gary shuffles towards the rest of the group and sits down, usually he stays off to himself. Young Bo cuddles up to him, rubbing his jaw and whimpering.
"Bo, little one---what's wrong? Asks Connie.
The boy starts to cry, "My tooth fall out, Miss Connie---it still hurts!
"Oh my goodness, why didn't you tell me---when did it happen?
"When I was eating the chicken-----it fall out .
"My poor baby" coos Connie as she takes him into her arms, "did you keep the tooth?
"Yes, it's all bloody and ugly.
The woman has tears in her eyes as he takes the tooth from the boy, she forces a smile.
"Yes, they are pretty gross looking, but the tooth fairy doesn't mind how ugly they look.
Tooth fairy, who's that?
Gary looks to the boy and smirks, "In that other world that we will never know, a tooth fairy takes your tooth and leaves you money.
Tina smiles, remembering the first time she got money for losing a tooth. Tibby explained to her later that it was really their parents that had put the money under her pillow.
Bo looks to Connie, "Will the tooth fairy bring me money, Miss Connie---I don't have a pillow to put it under!
She looks over to Judy and to Raina, they are fighting to keep their eyes open, and then she looks to Sam---the boy has a strange look on his face.
Gary shakes his head, "Tooth fairies aren't real, Bo---parents make her up so that little kids won't cry when they start losing their teeth, just like when they make up Santa Claus---none of that is real!
"Santa Claus? He come to the bad place once and gave us candy canes, I 'member!
Connie tries to 'shoo' Gary from saying anything more, Tibby reaches out and slaps the back of Gary's head, "Don't tell him those things, little kids have to believe in something.
"Tibby is right---we all have to believe in something---or there is no hope for a better day."
A strange voice answers, "If tomorrow is no better than today, then I don't care to see it.
Everyone turns to the voice, it's Sam staring back at them.
"Sam? You can talk! Exclaims Gary.
"Of course I can talk, you imbecile!
Connie smiles, she knew all along that Sam was not as handicapped as he appeared to be, she knew there was something about the young man that would surface when the time was right.
"Sam, we are so happy to hear you talk for the first time, why have you not spoken before now?
"Guess I just didn't have anything to say, till now---and besides no one ever ask me if I could talk--they just assumed I couldn't! They talked around me and at me---but never 'to' me---they called me 'retard.
Barbie stares at Sam, she sees his lips moving, she walks towards him and touches his lips. He reaches up and takes her hand, and says softly and slowly.
The girl smiles and then begins clapping her hands, Judy and Raina join in.
"You see, something good has already happened" replies Connie, "we are hearing the voice of someone we all love. I always believed that you were hiding something good inside you Sam----and now that good has surfaced.
"You know nothing about me, Miss Connie, I was only at the institute a short time--I could be a serial killer for all you know!
"No----your eyes have always told me something else. We're listening Sam---do you want to tell us about yourself?
The boy takes a deep breath, "Maybe someday, but not now. Miss Connie, there is other food at that rancher's place, more chickens than he can count, eggs. I saw a milk cow, if we had a way of milking her, the milk would taste so good right now."
"We can't take the chance of going back there, remember we all agreed to take only what we could survive on!
"We're starving, Miss Connie---and Sam is right---those ranchers have so much----and we have so little."
Tina and Tibby nod their heads, "He's right----I'm still hungry.
Sam puts his protective arms around Barbie and Bo, "I could get back over the fence again, just like I did the last time. Gary and I picked up his wheelchair and put it on the other side, then I laid my crutches against the wire and we climbed over. It wasn't easy, but we did it!
"Yeah" agrees Gary, "we got a few scratches----but it was worth it. The real fun came when Sam was chasing those hens---now that was a sight to see!
They are all laughing as Connie is visualizing Sam chasing the chickens. All eyes are upon her as Bo asks softly.
"Maybe we could eat one more chicken, I promise, I won't lose another tooth.
She hesitates and then answers slowly.
"It's against my better judgment, but that chicken sure tasted good--even if I did cook it myself. We will make one more 'raid' and then tomorrow we leave to our new destination!
Sam's brow arches, "You've never said where it is you're taking us Miss Connie, what is this special place that you keep talking about?
Connie smiles and looks to each of her 'kids' and asks, "Do you believe in angels?
All of the kids shake their heads, Barbie follows suit. Judy and Raina just stare back with vacant eyes.
"Are angels like the tooth fairy, Miss Connie---not real?
Connie reaches out and pulls Bo closer to her, "Angels exist my little one, maybe not in the form that the storybooks show them, with the wings and stuff, but in other ways of showing kindness and love.
"Yeah, I though I saw an angel once" replies Gary," and then I saw the pitched fork tail and the horns of the devil. It was my Dad and he was beating the hell out of my Mother! I tried to stop him, he just threw me across the room--the result lies before you---in a wheelchair for the rest of my life!
"Yeah" Sam replies slowly, "Angels haven't exactly been good to us, it's hard to believe in something that is always hurting you. What about that place, Miss Connie---where is it?
Connie's face lights up and a glow surrounds her, "It's called "Heaven."
"HEAVEN?---Are we going to die-is that where we're we are going? Tina asks with fear in her voice.
All of the kids are staring at Connie as she laughs, "No, my children--you are not dying---we are going to a small place on the Mexican border. I have some friends that have an orphanage there and they will take care of all of you. The place is called Casa de Cielo.
"An orphanage? Smirks Sam "we're too old for an orphanage.
"It's not only an orphanage, it's a shelter for all that have lost their way or their families don't want them anymore. You will be treated with love and respect and you will learn how to live in the real world and you will learn a trade of survival.
"Sounds good and all" replies Gary hesitating, "but that's what they told us about all of those foster homes and then Greenlawn! You were the only one that has ever shown us any love- and we certainly didn't learn any trade. Hell, Judy and Raina can't even talk they don't even know any sign language!
"First of all, I will remind you not to swear--you know I do not approve of foul language!
"I'm sorry Miss Connie--I was just angry" answers Gary.
"As for Judy, Raina, and Barbie---they have learned through you other kids how to correspond and look at them, do they not know how to express emotion? This place I'm taking you to will teach our girls even more, and it will offer more rehabilitation for the rest of you.
"We know not to question you Miss Connie, you've always treated us good, and sometimes I wonder what has happened to the others we had to leave behind."
"I think about them too, especially Jodi and J.J., they were pretty sick. And Deb, she needed an operation on her back, the aides were so mean to her."
"We can't keep dwelling on the past, we have to decide what we're going to do.
What about the last raid Miss Connie, do we make it a good one and get plenty of food that will finally fill our stomachs? Asks Sam.
"Yes--we make one final raid, but let's get some sleep right now. In the wee hours we will be ready to make the raid---remember we are just after food, we do not destroy any property!
Alex has been preparing coffee and hot tea for her husband, Trivette, and Hank. "You be careful out there, honey---just because it's only been food taken, someone might just decide to change all of that!
"I will" replies Walker, taking the thermoses. Did you pack me some of those meatloaf sandwiches?
"Yes honey, and I packed some for Hank, plus some fruit for Jimmy. I can certainly understand why my apples have been taken, they are so sweet this year, Martha has made two pies for Thanksgiving!
Walker snaps his finger, "Darn it, I forgot to tell you, your Dad called earlier and he will be getting in earlier than planned. His plane comes in tonight, or rather in the morning at 2:10!
"Tomorrow? Honey, how could you forget to tell me?
Walker tilts his head sideways, "I've been rather busy, Alex---I can leave the stakeout long enough to go pick him up.
"Would you please, I know all of the kids are going to be sound asleep and I won't be able to pick him up."
hon---don't know why he just doesn't take a taxi---never mind--I know his
dislike for them!
Alex smiles, remembering the stories her dad would tell about his dates not ending on a intimate note and his dates would go home in taxis.
"No, prey tell---let's not get into that!
"Daddy?" A small voice is heard.
"Angela, baby--what are you doing still up, it's past your bedtime!
"Angela, are you feeling o.k?
"I'm fine Mama, I'm just sad.
Walker arches his brow as he walks to the stairs and hold his arms out for his daughter, she falls into his tender embrace.
"Baby, what ya' sad about?
Her blue yes mist up, "I'm sad because J.W. is sad, he said his mama won't be home for Thanksgiving and when J.W. is sad, I am too!
Alex reaches out and touches her daughter's long hair. It's turning a light auburn, and when the light hits it a certain way, the red highlights of her Father's show through.
"Oh sweetheart, it's not certain yet that Aunt Erica won't be here, your Uncle Jimmy is still trying to get in touch with her!
"Why did she leave Uncle Jimmy and J.W., mama?
Walker and Alex exchange looks, they have to hide the anger that is surfacing. Walker clears his throat and kisses his daughter's cheek.
"It's grown up problems, my baby---and you and J.W. should not worry about such things.
"But, J.W. said that his mama doesn't love them anymore. Angela starts to cry. "Why did she stop loving them, were they bad?
"Angela, sweetheart---Daddy has to leave now and go out on a job. Let's talk about this later, o.k?
Walker forces a smile, "Hey, your grandpa will be here in the morning when you wake up, won't it be nice to see him again?"
"Grandpa? Can I stay up and wait on him?
Alex shakes her head, "No Angela, you have to go to bed now---kiss daddy goodbye, he's got to go!
Angela tightens her arms around her daddy's neck and kisses his lips lightly, "Night daddy---I love you.
Night my precious, I'll see you in the morning.
They watch as Angela scampers back up the stairs, Walker looks to his wife and shakes his head. Alex bites her bottom lip and says softly.
"How could Erica do this to Jimmy and to her only child, I will never understand the reasoning.
"It's not for us to judge her hon, I know for a fact that Trivette was messing around on her."
"But, that was after he caught her in her little 'lover's tryst'. I don't know if I could welcome her here for Thanksgiving even if she did come back.
Walker reaches out and takes his wife into his arms and kisses her tenderly, "Alex, you would never turn her away and you know it, you are not that kind of person!
"You're right, I would swallow my pride and put on my best face---for Jimmy and for J.W.!
Trivette is drinking some of the tea that Alex has prepared, he sees Hank starting in on his 3rd sandwich. Trivette smirks.
"How can you and Walker eat so much red meat, don't you know it's bad for your cholesterol?
Hank smacks his lips, "Cholesterol? Hell, that's the least of my problems. I got high blood pressure, fading eyesight, my dentures don't fit, and my hemorrhoids are giving me fits, I don't have time to worry about cholesterol!
Trivette gives out a disgusting sigh, "But, cholesterol contributes to all of those things you just mentioned."
"Really? Well, I tell you what Trivette, you just keep on eating all of that rabbit food and that 'tofu', and you're just gonna wilt away--you need iron in your blood!
"What are you two arguing about now? Asks Walker as he walks up and takes the binoculars from Trivette and looks down to the fence line.
"The same thing that we are arguing about when you left, Cordell---this partner of yours is constantly on my case about what I eat! How do you put up with him?
Walker shakes his head and looks to his partner, "It's not easy Hank.
Trivette looks to his watch and back to Walker, "You sure made good time in picking up Gordon from the airport, how many medians and stop signs did you take out?
Hank laughs as he reaches for the last sandwich, "Not to mention breaking the speed limit" he adds.
"Walker never worries about speeding tickets, Alex will take care of them for him.
Walker is still looking through the glasses, he puts up his hand, "Ssssh----we got movement.
The three men look to the fence in silence, Hank whispers, "I can't make out what they're doing, they're sure moving awkwardly.
The figures get closer to the fence and the tallest one reaches out to touch the fence, the lights come on and the whole area is lit up. The security camera starts clicking as the three men can't believe what they are seeing.
"Oh my God, do you see what I see, Walker? That one kid is in a wheelchair----and there are others!"
"FREEZE---we are Texas Rangers---stay where you are!
Connie sees the three men walking quickly down to the fence, she takes a deep breath, "Oh no, I had a bad feeling about all of this.
Walker and Trivette walk slowly to each of the kids, while Hank holds a gun on them.
"What kind of trick are they trying to play on us, Cordell---pretending to be cripples?
Trivette stares at Tibby's braces, he nods back to Hank, "Put the gun away Hank this is no pretense, these kids are really---handicapped!
Connie walks forward, "Please don't hurt my kids, we were just hungry and wanted food.
"No one is going to hurt you ma'am, I'm a Texas Ranger. Want to explain to me who you people are and how you got here?
Connie gathers the kids around her, "We didn't mean any harm, please don't arrest us---we'll leave and go on our way---you'll never see any of us again---please!
Trivette is on his phone, he looks to his partner, "Got a wagon on the way. Ma'am, are any of you in need of medical help, are you hurt?
Gary smirks back at the black Ranger, "You don't see too good, do you Ranger? We all have injuries---look at us? Do we look healthy to you?
"Gary! Please be quiet, we're in enough trouble!
Walker looks to each of the kids, "Ma'am, we're going to have to take all you to Ranger headquarters, and questions have to be answered.
Sam shifts back and forth on the one crutch that he's still using, "PIGS---you're all the same. You ask the questions and if you don't like the answers, the poor souls get sent to jail---or worse--like Greenlawn!
"Greenlawn?" Asks Walker, "Are you referring to that institute down in East Texas?
"Are you familiar with the place, Ranger? Asks Connie.
The Ranger's face becomes rigid, he nods his head and replies bitterly, "Yeah, I've heard of the place.
Connie and all of the kids have been questioned, given food and clean clothes, most of them are now sleeping.
Connie sips the hot coffee that has been given her, she keeps looking out at her 'kids' and then back to the Rangers.
"They're good kids, they haven't meant any harm, we were just trying to get to a better place.
Alex has arrived at Walker's office, she looks out at each of the kids and sees their wheelchairs and walkers.
"Alex, this is Connie, she's the one taking care of all of these kids. Connie--this is Alex Cahill-Walker, she's the District Attorney.
"Walker?---Are you related to the Ranger?
"I'm his wife, it's nice to meet you Connie. I need to know everything you can tell me about how you got these kids out of that horrible place!
Alex has listened to Connie's story, and also the ones from Sam and Gary. She shakes her head sadly and says to Connie.
"I've always been suspicious of that place, but there have been countless investigations done on that place and nothing could be proved of any abuse. But now, I will personally head an investigation and I will start with the Channel 12 news team.
Connie shakes her head, "It won't do any good, the institution will just clean up the facilities and send the abused out to foster homes till the investigation is over with. The local news teams works with them."
"I'm not sending their local news channels out there, I'm talking the investigative team of Leire Balenciaga, she's tops in her field and she will not stop till every inch of that hell hole has been examined! Believe me, Leire will get results!!!
"I've never heard of her, who is she?
Walker smiles and looks to his wife, "Leire is a very close friend of my wife's. She's one of the best journalists and news reporters in the state of Texas! When she's on a story, she doesn't stop till every little nook and cranny has been investigated!
I'm calling her now, I sure hope she's back from vacation, she went home for her little brother's graduation in Brazil!
It's now three days later and the Walkers are making last minute preparations for Thanksgiving.
Walker has been on the phone with the foster homes that have agreed to take some of the kids until permanent arrangements can be made.
He hangs up the phone and looks to his wife, shaking his head.
"I don't like this, Alex. I have tried to get one of those foster homes to take all of the kids, at least through Thanksgiving, it's just not right separating them now--of all times!
"I know honey, I've been making phone calls too but because of the holiday, most of these foster homes are wrapped up in their own personal affairs.
"Why can't we bring them here, they need to be together?
Alex ponders her husband's suggestion. "Are you sure about this, we've got quite a crowd coming for dinner tomorrow?
"We've been crowded before, Alex we have plenty of food. I say we bring them here! This could be the last time that they are all together and then they'll be sent to different homes.
Alex kisses her husband softly, "Then it's settled, I knew there was a reason why I fell in love with you, other than you being so darn handsome!
Thanksgiving Day has arrived and the Walker home is packed with friends and family. Dinner has been served and everyone is standing around talking and enjoying the festivities.
Gage and his family arrived and the Walkers met their newest godchild, 4 month old Jodi.
Gordon is playing with his twin grandsons while the other men are watching the traditional football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos. The hoops and hollers are being heard as Trivette runs into the living room and starts teasing Gordon.
"Your Broncos are getting 'tarred and feathered" Gordon and they are 14 points behind. Wanna pay up now or wait on a miracle?
Gordon laughs, "It's never over till the fat lady sings!
Young Bo has made a new friend in J.W. They are showing each other where their teeth have fell out.
"I got a lot of money for mine, how much did you get?
Bo shakes his head, "I didn't get any, the tooth fairy couldn't find me, I guess."
Angela is showing the girls her new playhouse that her daddy built for her. Alex and Sydney are talking to Connie about the rehabilitation programs for Judy and Raina, along with special education needs for them and Barbie. Gary and Sam are watching the game with the guys.
Hey guys, how about them Cowboys, they're whipping butte? Shouts Trivette.
Gary smirks, "I still like the Eagles better, with or without Terrell Owens!
Trivette does a double take as he looks to Walker and Gage, "Did you hear what this kid just said---we have a traitor in our mist? Young man, I will tell you the wise old words of a dearly departed friend---he said "if you ain't a Cowboy fan---you ain't nothing!!!
Gage laughs, "Hey Trivette, I wonder what C.D. would have said if he had heard Jerry Jones' comment that "T.O. could sleep on the Dallas star as long as he was catching passes?
Walker grins, "Well, I have a pretty good idea on what C.D. would have said, and that is: "The only way this Cowboy fan would ever accept T.O. in a prone position on the Dallas star is if Emmett Smith comes back and flattens him permanently!!!
"Here ! Here---I second that suggestion" replies Hank and Trivette at the same time.
Trivette stops and looks towards the voice, "Hey J.W.---come here buddy, want to watch the game with us guys?
J.W. sits down beside his daddy and whispers, "Daddy, will it be alright if I give my money away that the fairy left me?
Everyone stops looking at the game and they stare back at the boy.
"Give your money away? Why would you want to do that, you've got almost a $100?
J.W. looks up to Trivette, his eyes become misty, "I know---but Bo didn't get nothing for his tooth, could I give my money to him? He said the tooth fairy couldn't find him!
Trivette smiles, "It's your money son and if that's what you want to do, I think that's a very generous thing to do, are you sure?
"Yes daddy, I'm sure---it's Thanksgiving and you always said it was the time to give---so I want Bo to have the money---o.k?
Trivette hugs his son and the rest of the men give him 'high fives'.
They continue to watch the game when a voice speaks out to J.W.--"J.W. I'm home baby.
Everyone turns towards the voice as a beautiful young black woman enters the room, J.W. sees her and runs into her arms.
"Mommy, Mommy---you're home!
Erica picks up her son and holds him close and kisses him, she looks to Trivette.
"I'm home baby---for good---that is if you and your Daddy will give me one more chance?
Trivette has tears in his eyes as he approaches his estranged wife, "What do you say son, one more chance?
daddy---YES!!! This is my best Thanksgiving ever!!!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone----Sasquaw 11--05