Walker has been watching the clouds all the way into Dallas. As he turns west onto interstate 20---the winds are starting to get stronger. He looks out over the hood of his Ram, watching one cloud that is definitely trying to gain some strength, he has an uneasy feeling about it as he listens closer to the weather.
"Wind gusts are expected up to 90 miles an hour near and around Jacksboro--there are no funnel clouds reported!"
Walker shakes his head, ordinarily he wouldn't rely on the weatherman to tell him what the weather was going to do, he would second guess it and make his own predictions. But, now he had four other reasons to pay attention to what the weather bureau was reporting. He looks quickly up to his sun visor and sees the picture of Alex and Angela, each of them were holding what appeared to be dolls, but they were not dolls--they were 5 day old twin boys. Walker had taken the picture as soon as Alex was able to come home, just over 7 wks before.
The Ranger smiles as he runs his forefinger over their faces, he sighs. "God, how did my life ever exist without these precious lives in it?”
Walker continues to watch the clouds, he decides to call Alex at her office. She had only been back to work three days, and already he has to caution her about rushing things. He wanted her to take another week off, but she was anxiously waiting to get back into court. She had one particular case that she was trying to help her friend Barb Brophy work on, dealing with stolen babies.
A familiar voice picks up the phone, he can feel his heart do flip-flops. "Hello, Alex Walker--Assistant District Attorney--"
"Hi hon---you busy?"
Alex's voice soften as her heart too begins to flutter---"Never too busy for you Cowboy---where are you?"
"I just pulled onto interstate 20--are you listening to the weather?"
"Yeah---up until about 10 minutes ago, the weatherman said the sky was starting to clear---and that we're under no bad weather alerts---why?"
Walker exhales, "Well, weathermen have been known to be wrong---there's this one cloud off to the west---maybe it's just a feeling but-----"
Alex smiles, "Uh oh, here comes that Cherokee meteorologist feeling coming through again---does it really look that bad?"
"This is Texas, Alex---and you know as well as I do what storm clouds can do at the drop of a hat! It was trying to swirl, then it dissipated. What time are you going to be getting out of court?"
"Probably about another hour, are you coming back to headquarters?"
"No, I thought I would go ahead and pick the kids up from the day care---and get them home---in case it starts raining. Don't need to have Cordell out in the rain with his cold."
"Oh honey---that's a good idea to pick them up early in case Josie wants to close the center early. Oh---and Walker--would you please stop by the pharmacy and pick up Cordell's medicine? You can go through the drive thru---it's suppose to be ready."
"Will do, want me to stop and get some fast food for supper tonight?"
Alex smiles as she starts gathering her reports together, "No, honey---I'll pick up something on the way home---you're going to have your hands full with three kids! Will Chinese be alright?"
Walker's stomach starts to growl, "Sounds great to me--don't forget to get plenty of egg rolls---you know how Angela loves those egg rolls."
"I won't forget the egg rolls, I'll get an extra dozen because I know how much you love them too----and that special soy sauce."
"Ok, hon---see you at home---and "no" I will not forget to swing by the pharmacy. I'll do that as soon as I pick up the kids--bye---love ya."
Walker takes the next exit to Thornton Blvd and then the 15-mile drive to Cockrell Hill and to the Hope Center. When he arrives he sees other parents pulling up to get their children early. He again observes the clouds, and the one that has had his attention for the last hour.
He walks through the front double doors of the center and he hears the little voice that melts his heart every time.
"Daddy!!!---My Daddy's here!"
He goes down on one knee as he sees the little blonde headed girl running to him, holding her arms out, while clutching a stuffed doll. He picks her up and swings her around, kissing her tiny little face and burying his face in her hair. The smell of baby shampoo reaches his nostrils---he smiles back at her.
"Hi Angela---miss Daddy?"
Angela nods her head up and down, grinning--the lone dimple to the left side of her mouth indenting to give her an even more infectious smile, like her Mother's.
"Yes, me miss you Daddy---Miss Dolly missed you too." She answers, as she puts the stuffed doll, dressed in a red sundress for Walker to kiss, he kisses it quickly.
"Well, I missed Miss Dolly too, but not as much as I've missed my baby---how are your brothers---have they been good?"
The little girl is dressed in blue and pink jeans with a matching jacket; her hair is pulled back with a pink ribbon. Walker smiles down at her, Alex always dressed her so pretty, with all the frilly styles. Walker could never recall a time where Angela was in need of a change, and the same for the boys. Alex was constantly making sure they were all immaculate, and the other children as well that were left at her day care center.
"Hey Walker," a voice calls out and an attractive young black woman comes from the nursery holding one of the twins. "Cooper just woke up--he's a little cranky---but as soon as I change him and give him another bottle, I'm sure he will go right back to sleep."
"Thanks Josie, how is Cordell?"
Josie lays Cooper down on the changing table and reaches for a Pamper. "He's fine, Walker---I think that new medicine that Alex got has really done the job, he's hardly sniffled at all."
Walker walks up to the table as Josie is being shouted to, Walker smiles as he takes the Pamper. "That's ok, I'll change my son---you're being paged."
"I'll be right back to help you get the kids loaded in the Ram," she shouts back to him.
Walker starts powdering young Cooper as Angela tries to help. The Ranger coos back at his son, "Yeah, let's get this old stinking diaper off, get you smelling good again---have you been a good boy?"
Angela answers for her baby brother, "Yes Daddy--he's been good, Cordell too."
Walker picks up his son and motions for Angela to go get his bottle, he then walks over to the double crib to look in on his other son. He reaches in and pats him gently, cooing at him too.
Josie comes running back into the front room looking exhausted. "Whew!!! That's the last of them---the parents were getting a little nervous about the storm moving in".
Walker takes the bottle from Angela and starts feeding Cooper, he soon falls back asleep, just as Josie predicted he would. The Ranger looks to Josie, "What's the latest on the weather?"
"They say it's going around us, but we could get some heavy rain later tonight," Josie answers as she nods to Angela to get the diaper bag.
The little girl runs to the double diaper bag and attempts to drag it to the front door and still hold onto her doll. Walker takes Cooper and Josie reaches for Cordell.
At the RAM Walker has to pull the two infant seats up and place then against the back of the seats, he places Cooper into his and then secures him in tightly. Josie has Cordell secured as both she and Walker look to the skies.
"I don't know, Walker---those sure look like some nasty clouds back in the West."
Walker nods silently as he helps Angela to get the diaper bag in and then helps her to get into her child's seat. He pulls the seat belt tightly around her, being careful to make sure that Miss Dolly is secure also. He looks back at the twins and makes another check to make sure they’re secure, then looks to Josie.
"Yeah, I got a funny feeling about that one there, " he points to the cloud in question"--it's hovering too long, and it looks like it's right over the area in which we're heading."
Josie reaches in to kiss Angela goodbye and then she blows a kiss to each of the twins. "You keep an eye on that cloud, Walker! Me? I'm out of here!"
Walker teases her, "Got a hot date, Josie?"
"Are you kidding? With this storm moving in---no way---this old gal is heading for my boyfriend’s storm cellar!"
Walker waves goodbye and then he points the Ram West to interstate 30 and then towards Jacksboro. He's watching the clouds and listening to Angela' s every account of what has happened at the day care. He looks back at his daughter as she tells him of the 'show n tell' game that Josie played with them and smiles.
The drive to the Walker ranch is a little over an hour away, and now it has started raining, making the drive even slower. The rain is coming down hard, then it stops and the sky almost clears. The cloud that Walker had his eye on has moved northeast; he gives a sigh of relief. He then turns to his daughter.
"So, tell me all about your day, Angela---tell Daddy everything that happened---ok?"
They have reached the outskirts of FT. Worth and Walker has to exit to go to the pharmacy to pick up Cordell's medicine. Next to the pharmacy is a Sonic drive-inn and Angela has spotted it immediately.
Walker starts to refuse, but one look into his daughter's pleading eyes and he's a marshmallow. He sighs as he heads to the drive-inn.
"Ok, just a small dish---and don't tell mommy that I let you have ice cream so close to suppertime---deal?"
"Yes, me won't tell her" and then she turns to her doll and whispers, "ssssshhhh---don't tell Mommy---ok Miss Dolly or Daddy will get in trouble."
Walker laughs as he reaches out to push the button, "You're right about that, baby---Mommy will skin Daddy alive if she finds out. So, it's our little secret---and remember you have to eat all of your supper or Mommy will know that I have let you have junk food---so 'tick a lock'---ok?"
Angela giggles, "Swaberry, Daddy---we want swaberry."
Walker shakes his head, "Is there any other kind?"
"Not in the Walker household! Huh, baby?"
Angela continues to giggle as Walker makes the order, the young car hop comes out soon with a dish of ice cream. The wind is picking back up and the young carhop is having trouble holding the tray down, Walker reaches out and grabs the ice cream before it goes splattering all over the young girl. Trashcans are starting to topple over and the Ram is shaking. Walker hands the girl $2.00 and tells her to keep the .90 cent tip. He hurriedly starts backing out, looking into the back seat to make sure the twins are still asleep.
Now the wind gusts are picking up and the sky is turning black again, the clouds are starting to swirl. Walker looks to his daughter who is too engrossed in her ice cream to be concerned about the weather. He floors the Ram back up on the interstate, he's still fifteen miles from home; he turns the radio back up.
"A funnel cloud has been spotted just north of Jacksboro---and----this report just in---a tornado is down near Mineral Wells, extensive damage has been reported--the tornado is heading East, packing with it--wind gusts that will hit over a 100 miles an hour. Everyone is advised to seek cover immediately. Another report---just in---the twister has hit Jacksboro--reports of 18-wheelers being turned over and there are reports of fatalities coming in. The national weather has issued a warning--to take cover----NOW"!
The rain is coming down so hard that Walker is having trouble seeing the road, he sees semis overturned as he now knows that he's on highway 199. He's straining to see out the windshield, and now Angela is starting to get nervous.
"It's ok, Angela--everything will be fine---we're almost home."
Tree limbs are being blown across the highway as Walker has to swerve to keep from hitting them, power poles are starting to snap. Walker sees the overpass ahead of him, and sees cars stopping and motorists running to get up under the girders, he floors the Ram faster to get to the overpass. Two semis have stopped and one of the truckers is running to get to the support of the cement girders. He keeps waving back at the other trucker to get out, the man refuses.
Walker slams the Ram to a stop and reaches over and grabs Angela and exits on his side of the truck, he's running with her as fast as he can, he hollers at the trucker in front of him to take her.
"Please take my little girl---I have two more babies in my truck!"
Angela is crying and screaming for Walker as the man picks up the scared little girl and starts climbing up the cement wall to get under the girders and support beams. Walker can still hear his daughter's screams as he runs back to the Ram and starts scooping up the twins. He then starts running back to the overpass. He can't climb with both babies and now they are awake and crying.
Walker feels someone pulling on one of his arms, he sees another trucker as big as a house, nodding for Walker to give him one of the babies. Walker hands him a twin and the trucker starts trying to climb----all 400 lbs of him! Walker reaches the top first and hands one of the babies to a woman that is reaching out for it, then Walker starts sliding back down to help the trucker and his other son up the incline. They all reach the highest point of the wall, and they all start hugging the support beams as tightly as they can. Walker has both of the babies underneath him, the 400 pound trucker is laying over him.
Walker is screaming out his daughters' name and trying to look for her, the first trucker pulls Walker's head back down.
"Keep your damn head down---your little girl is fine, my other buddy has her!"
The sound is deafening, like the roar of a freight train coming down on them. Debris is being blown all around them as pieces of sheet metal are flying through the air, the woman screams as a piece of steel goes through her head. Walker can still hear his daughter's cries for him, he's trying to rise up, but the trucker is refusing to bulge. The wind is getting stronger as the trucker can feel his legs being raised. He starts undoing his belt and throws it over to the other trucker, the man grabs it and they hold on tight, squeezing Walker and the twins underneath them.
The twins are crying louder and Walker is afraid that he is crushing them, he whispers to himself, "Oh God---please take care of my Angela---and my sons---if you have to take one of us---please let it be me!"
Walker is again screaming out his daughter's name as suddenly everything goes black, he feels himself being lifted and then slammed back down. He feels something against the back of his head, and everything is--quiet.
The voices are buzzing but he can't make out what they are saying. He feels someone putting something around his head.
"Hey mister---hey Ranger---can you hear me?"
Walker is fighting to get up, the hands push him back down gently.
"Take it easy, mister---you've got one ugly gash at the back of your head."
"My kids---my kids----are they ok?"
"Your babies are fine, mister---they've been checked out and on the way to St. Mathews' Hospital."
Walker is trying to stand, "Angela? Is my little girl ok?"
The paramedic looks back to the trucker that has helped to get Walker down the wall, he shakes his head. Walker grabs the man by his collar.
"Where is my daughter---where is she?"
The trucker starts to choke up, "She's gone, mister---we can't find her!"
Walker scrambles to his feet and starts screaming out his daughters' name---"Angela!!! Angela---where are you baby? Angela!"
The paramedic tries to get Walker to calm down, "Mister---you're going into shock---I have to give you a sedative."
Walker shoves the man backwards as he starts running back and forth from one end of the overpass to the other, he then sees the sheets covering the bodies on the ground. The Ranger sees a small frame underneath one and approaches it slowly.
"Angela?" His voice chokes.
The trucker runs to him as Walker is about to lift the sheet, he yanks Walker back "That's not your little girl under there, mister."
Walker refuses to believe him as he jerks out of the man's grasp and pulls the sheet up, he sees what is left of the 400 lb trucker. The man's torso is cut in half by a piece of sheet metal. The other trucker starts to sob as he sits down on the ground beside his friend.
"Tiny was protecting us---the big goof was trying to protect you, me, and your babies----all of a sudden I felt this weight lifted up off of us and the sheet of metal just carried the lower half of his body away. Then the top half hit you in the back of the head---I thought you were a 'goner'---the blood was spurting out----everywhere-----everywhere----there was blood---it was like it was raining-----blood!"
Walker stumbles backwards and almost trips over another body. The trucker puts his head in his hands and starts to cry harder.
"That's the woman that was holding one of your baby sons, she had just handed him to you---and seconds later---she was dead!"
Walker's shoulders are heaving as he screams out, "Angela----oh my God, where is she?"
Alex has gotten the news that the twins have been taken to the hospital, Ranger James Trivette is there waiting for her.
Alex runs to her friend and falls in his arms crying, "Oh my God, Jimmy---are they hurt? Where is Angela and Walker---where are they?"
"Alex, please calm down, the twins are ok--the doctor says it's a miracle that they have both come through this with hardly a scratch"!
"My babies are ok---and Angela---where' s my husband?"
The Doctor comes out to talk to Alex, and wants to give Alex a mild sedative. Alex screams back at her.
"NO----you're not telling me everything---where is my husband-----and my little girl------are they----are they----dead?"
"Alex, ---your husband was hurt---but the medics say he's going to be ok!"
Alex swallows and then she tries to speak, "And, Angela?"
Trivette puts his arms around Alex and whispers, "She's missing---they can't find her."
Alex starts to scream as her legs go out from under her, Trivette grabs her and carries her to an empty room, the Doctor begins shouting commands.
It's been over an hour and Walker is still going up and down the highway, calling out Angela's name. He then heads for the fields that line each side of highway 199. He sees debris up in the trees, dead animals laying in the fields, and cars that have been lifted up and thrown over the side of the highway like mere toys. Searchers are running to the autos and pulling people out, some are being laid on the ground and covered.
More searchers and the National Guard have showed up to begin the task of looking for Angela and the other trucker. They start combing the fields. Walker is stumbling behind the troopers, calling out his daughters' name.
The search has gone on for four hours and finally the body of the missing trucker is found, hanging halfway out of a tree, his body twisted like a pretzel. Walker watches as the troopers begin to bring him down, he spots something in the trucker's hand, something red! The Ranger starts running to the troopers.
"What's that in his hands?" He shouts.
One of the troopers hands what is left of a stuffed doll to the Ranger, Walker grabs it and whispers, "Miss Dolly---this is Angela's doll!"
All of them stop and watch as Walker falls down on the ground, clutching the doll. They all remain silent as finally the one in command approaches Walker.
"They're calling off the search for tonight----we'll start back early in the morning-----"
"I'm not going to stop looking for my daughter---I will search all night long if I have to----I won't stop till I've found her------or----" he starts to sob quietly----"her body".
The men walk away and the first trucker walks over to his friends' body to identify him. He nods his head slowly and they cover the body back up. The trucker then walks over to Walker.
"I'm sorry---for all that has happened---and I hope---no---I pray that your little girl is alive and well. I have to go now, I have to tell the wives of my friends that their husbands won't be coming home tonight."
"Wait"! Walker wipes his eyes, "Thank you for your help---what were their names?"
The trucker replies slowly, "Mike Terrall----and the big dude was Cecil Ward---but we all called him Tiny."
"Tiny" saved my life and the lives of my boys by putting his body over ours. And, this Mike-- was the one that was trying to protect Angela?"
The truckers nods his head slowly, "Yeah---that's the kind of guys they were. ---"Tiny" didn't want to get out of the semi, but when he saw you trying to climb with both of those babies, he knew he had to do something---to try and help."
Walker shakes hands with the trucker, "I'll forever be in their debts and yours. Please give their families my deepest sympathy."
The trucker is trying hard not to break down, "You---just find that little girl of yours-----and when you do---give her a big hug from the 3 of us."
The trucker walks away and Walker looks down at what is left of the little stuffed doll. "I know you're out there, Angela---I won't stop looking till I've found you. Daddy loves you baby----don't give up on me---I will look for you till I take my last breath."
It is now morning at St. Mathews ' hospital as Walker is halfway stumbling to the waiting arms of his wife. Alex is crying uncontrollably as she keeps asking about their daughter.
"I looked all night, Alex---I can't find her!" Walker's voice is breaking.
She pulls away from him, "Walker, are you ok, they said you had been hurt?"
"I'm ok---just a scratch." Walker looks to the room behind Alex, "Are the boys alright?"
They both walk slowly back to the room, Alex is holding onto her husband as tightly as she can. Walker breathes a sigh of relief as he looks into the cribs and sees his sons looking back at him. One by one he picks them up and kisses the sides of their heads, holding them tightly to his chest.
"I was so afraid that I was crushing them---are you sure they're ok?"
"Yes, honey--Dr Bates said they're both fine, but she wanted them to spend the night here---just to make sure."
Walker looks back to his wife, "I couldn't come last night, Alex---I had to keep looking---I had to stay---you understand?"
Alex falls back into her husband's arms, "I understood Walker---I knew you wouldn't leave---I wanted to be out there with you---looking for Angela."
Walker kisses her softly and then turns back to the twins and kisses them again, "I've got to get back out there, Alex----every second counts."
"Can I go with you, Walker?"
"No honey---you need to be here with our boys---I'll find Angela---I promise I will. Be strong for me, please hon."
Alex can only nod her head, the tears are coming down so hard, she notices the bandage on Walker's head, "Oh my God, it's bleeding," she sobs.
"I'll be fine, Alex------"
"Wait a minute, Walker," a voice speaks out, it's Dr Bates. She takes a quick look at the gash and orders stitches to be taken. Walker tries to argue.
"You are not going anywhere till you've had stitches put in your head----so are you going to be stitched up "with or without" a sedative "?
"Honey, please---let her stitch it up-----and please eat something---you're about to collapse"!!!
Fifteen minutes later Walker is chomping at the bit to get back to searching for Angela. He kisses Alex and the twins again, and looks deep into his wife's eyes.
"I don't know how long I will be gone----but I have to keep looking till I find her----or--" his voice breaks and he's fighting back the tears, "I just know that I have to keep looking till there is nothing more that I can do----please say---that you understand."
Alex is wiping her eyes as she reaches up and brushes a tear out of her husband's eye, "I know you, Cordell Walker---and I know you will not stop looking---you do what you have to do honey----" she bites her lips---"bring our daughter home----please."
Walker has rejoined the search crew. They have searched both sides of highway 199. More searchers are arriving as Walker sees some of his neighbors from Springtown arriving, and perfect stRangers.
The Ranger is handed a cup of coffee as a reporter approaches him, he recognizes her as a friend of Alex's.
"Hi Ranger Walker, I'm Linda Gray---do you remember me, from channel 12 news?"
"Yes, I remember you. What do you want?"
"I know this is hard for you, Ranger, but can you tell me what happened? I will not turn the cameras on you, if you would prefer."
Walker takes a deep sigh, "I don't want to talk about that---not right now."
"Ok, I understand. The other station has been showing a picture of Angela, would you please tell us what she was wearing?"
"She was wearing a blue and pink jean set, her blouse was pink and she was wearing----a little----pink ribbon in her hair----I think her shoes were white---I'm not sure."
"Do you have a more recent picture of Angela that we could get out on the airwaves?"
Walker reaches into his wallet and takes out a picture of Angela, holding her Miss Dolly up against her cheek and smiling. Walker smiles.
"This was taken on her 2nd birthday, just about 3 weeks ago---it's the latest one-----taken---in front of her dollhouse."
The reporter stares at the picture of the little girl and then at the dollhouse.
"What a beautiful little girl, the eyes are so blue and warm. And, the dollhouse in the background is just the right touch. Ranger, we need a story to put with the picture------"
Walker shakes his head and reaches for Angela's picture, "No----I can't talk about it---I have to get back to the search----I don't have time for this."
The reporter gently pulls the picture back as her voice softens. "Look----would it be alright if I interviewed your wife about what happened out there? And, I promise I won't lose the picture---I'll have my camera man make a copy of it, and get it right back to you. It will only take five minutes to make a copy."
Walker is starting to pace as he nods his head, "My wife is bringing the twins home from the hospital this morning----yeah---I guess you can interview her if you want---but, don't be pestering her with a lot of stupid questions."
The camera man comes running back to retrieve the picture, he runs back to the news mobile. The reporter looks back at Walker.
"I interviewed some of the other people that were caught up in the storm and some that were up under the underpass with you----they all said the same thing---- that it's a miracle that any of you survived. The tornado was a F-5, are you aware of that?"
Walker keeps pacing as he looks for the man to bring his picture back, "Look----all I know is that my little girl is missing----and I'm wasting time standing here talking to you----now where is my damn picture?"
Almost before Walker can finish, the man comes running back. Walker grabs the picture and stomps away. The reporter grimaces, and says, "Let's head out to the Walker ranch and try to get a story from Mrs. Walker."
They head back to their van, the cameraman looks at his boss-lady, "I sure hope that she's not as hot headed as that Ranger is."
The reporter stops and stares at him, "For Christ’s sakes Joe---the man's daughter is missing---try to show a little sympathy---ok?"
"That's your problem, Ms Gray---you get too emotional---the boss has warned you about this before! You're not handling yourself on a professional level---so get a grip---or this could be your job."
The news mobile pulls out as Ms Gray watches the Ranger walk to a pinto horse and mounts up. The cameraman's camera is clicking away.
"This could be the perfect story, 'Legendary Texas Ranger continues search for missing daughter---on horseback!'---The people back East will eat this up---not to mention the people of Texas."
The reporter continues to watch as Walker heads his horse across 199 and into the fields, he points his horse south and slowly gallops away.
It's now noon and the skies are turning a warm gray, the temperatures is starting to rise. Walker looks to the sky and whispers, "Send me a sign, Lord----I need your help."
Walker continues south, trying to stay close to the water. The creeks are over swelling from the recent rains, the mud is making it hard for "Amigo " to keep his footing. Walker dismounts and walks along beside him, he then pulls the horse over to the riverbed so he can drink. Walker sips his water as he sits down on a huge boulder and watches the water swirl He starts thinking about the day before as he pulls the little stuffed doll from inside his shirt.
He can still hear Angela's cries for him---"Daddy-----Daddy!"
Walker slams the water canteen down and starts pacing, "I'm sorry baby----I tried to get to you---the man wouldn't let me up----I'm sorry Angela----Daddy is so sorry."
"Washo-----you have nothing to be ashamed of, this is how it is to me."
Walker starts to swear, "By losing my daughter? Is this my fate, White Eagle?"
Another voice comes to him, a more distant voice. "You are not listening, my son--- you are not listening to the wisdom in what the great spirit chief is telling you."
Walker shakes his head in anger, he screams back at the voice---"What? What is White Eagle trying to tell me---why does he have to talk in riddles---why can't he tell me in straight talk?"
Another voice bellows back, the voice is gruff, "Cordell---you listen to me---I'm not talking in riddles---this is how it is son---you get your 'hinny' up off the ground and you start looking---is that clear?"
Walker grabs Amigo's reins and throws himself up in the saddle, "You do not have to tell me anything, C.D.----I will look for Angela till my dying day-----don't be pestering me with all your stupid quotes---if you got something to say---say it!!! Tell me if my daughter is still alive----or else---leave me alone!"
Alex has watched the droves of volunteers coming from all over in the search for her daughter. Neighbors are setting up places to serve sandwiches and coffee, and the Walker ranch is the main command center. The phone has not stopped ringing, neighbors are taking calls from concerned friends.
She feels someone coming up behind her, the man is putting his protective arms around her. He whispers. "Are you ok, pumpkin? Can I get you anything?"
Alex turns and falls into the arms of the man, "Daddy---will you just hold me?"
The old man's voice starts to break as he walks Alex over to the porch swing and gently urges her to sit down. "Of course I will hold you---Alexandra---you need to get some rest."
"I'm ok Dad---as long as I'm moving around---I can't stop to rest----the memories start coming----and the thought that my precious little girl might-----might----"
"Stop it, Alexandra---I won't listen to this. Now, Walker is out there looking----no news is good news---right pumpkin?"
Alex nods, "Walker will find her---one way-----or another---he will not stop looking----I know my husband---he won't stop looking!"
Gordon Cahill nods his head and fights back the tears, "I'm going inside to make us some tea---and then you, my daughter, are going to lay down afterwards---is that clear?"
Alex knows not to argue with the old man, aside from Walker, her Father was the most stubborn man she's ever known. She watches as he moves slowly back inside, she then rises and walks around to the back of the house and through the side gate. She touches the roses and smiles; Angela always loved the pink ones the most. Alex laughs as she remembers how much her daughter loved their fragrance.
"They smell pretty, Mommy---like you."
"Thank you sweetheart, that is such a nice thing to say. Which rose to you like the best?"
"The pink'uns, Mommy----and I like the 'urple ones to."
"The purple ones are called morning glories, Angela---they don't have much of a smell."
"I know---but Daddy says they're pretty, and he says he wishes they made 'avender''---what's that word, Mommy?"
"Lavender, sweetheart---that's your Daddy's favorite color on you---and 'yes' I've heard him say that he wishes that roses came in lavender. And, I know if they did come in that color----this whole yard would be covered in pink and lavender roses----just for you!"
Alex closes her eyes and she sees Angela clapping her little hands together and giggling. The little girl grabs her hand and starts pulling her to the rear of the yard and past the huge water fountain that sits on the patio. The sight before her is breathtaking as Alex can see the structure that little Angela is pointing to.
"Come Mommy---come in my dollhouse---we can have some tea--me, you, and Miss Dolly."
Alex is jolted out of her dream as she hears the back screen door open and her Dad is walking towards them with hot tea.
"Here you are---I've looked all over for you," he hands the tea to his daughter. His eyes follow hers as he sees the huge dollhouse.
He sighs softly, "Walker---sure did an excellent job on building that."
Alex bites her bottom lip and nods. "Yes----he worked on that for 6 months---he was so afraid that he wouldn't get it built in time for Angela's birthday. He would sometimes work on it all night after he would get home from a case. He would be so exhausted, but he would insist on working on it. Jimmy would say he would come to work, so tired that he would have to keep nudging him to make him stay awake."
Gordon smiles as he walks around the dollhouse, "It's huge---I've never seen one so big, and the little porch and swing----are such a nice, warm touch. He put a lot of hard work into this, I didn't think my son-in-a law was so talented with a hammer and a saw."
Alex smiles as she recalls Angela's 2nd birthday and the unveiling of the dollhouse. There were some 30 family and friends as Walker encouraged everyone to move to the rear of the house. When the tarp was raised, the ooh’s and ah’s begun and Angela was squealing, jumping up and down.
The dollhouse was painted in bright colors, but mostly lavender and pink. Her name Angela was printed in big letters over the door. Alex bought frilly little curtains for the two windows, a little table and chairs sat inside with one of Angela's huge teddy bears sitting at the table with some four-legged friends. The dollhouse was built just off the kitchen so that Alex could see her daughter at all times.
Angela giggled and Walker was grinning from ear to ear as he picked up his daughter. "Do you like it, baby?"
Angela nodded her head up and down and squeezed her Daddy's neck, "Yes---me like it---thank you Daddy---it's so pretty. Miss Dolly likes it too---do you like it, Mommy?"
"Yes, I do sweetheart---Daddy worked very hard on building this for you."
The little girl again kisses her Daddy, then scrambles to get down out of his arms. She reaches back to grab his hand, "Come Daddy---come into my house---you too, Mommy---we will have tea."
Everyone laughed as Walker and Alex had to bend over to get into the little house, and the 'imaginary tea' was served. The interview from Ms Gray and the channel 12 News was filmed around the dollhouse.
small town of Silence is sitting down for their evening meal and like so many
households, watching the 6'clock news. A small family of four is huddled around
their old black and white set as the meal is served.
The man sighs as he sees the same meal before him, biscuits and gravy; a small portion of potatoes sits nearby. The woman clears her throat and motions for the young boy and his sister to eat. The young girl grunts and starts making gestures to her mouth, the boy fills her plate.
"Here, Carolyn--eat---it's all we have."
The room becomes quiet as the old TV flutters on and off, the man reaches out and kicks it.
"Damn TV---just stay on long enough so I can listen to the damn weather."
"The skies are clearing, Pa---the weather will be nice--we can help Mr. Green with his crops, Mr. Green said I could help him at the farmer's market this weekend---that will be a whole $5.00!"
"That's good, Homer---now eat your supper."
The little girl is eating with her hands as young Homer stops her and puts a fork in her hand, encouraging her to use it. The girl shakes her head back and forth and throws the fork across the room.
"Carolyn---stop that!" The man yells back at her.
Homer scrambles to retrieve the fork, washing it and putting it back in Carolyn's hand. "She didn't mean it, Pa---she didn't mean it."
The man stares back at them and then to the TV, ---"If she does it again, she'll go without any supper---do you hear me, Carolyn? NO SUPPER!"
The little red haired girl stares back, she laughs and continues to make gestures with her hands. The boy 'signs" back to her, then smiles as he slowly touches his heart and then touches her's.
The boy says slowly, "I LOVE YOU" and the girl smiles back at him, she repeats the sign to him. The woman smiles as she watches her two kids, she then looks absently at the TV and sees the picture of a little girl flashed across the screen. She thinks to herself how beautiful the little girl is and then she smiles back at her daughter.
The man is sopping up the gravy with the last of his biscuits, he yells at the TV.---"Hurry up and get to the weather"!!!
Homer looks to the TV and sees the picture of the little girl, "Hey Ma---I think they're saying that little girl is missing---something about a tornado"!!!
The woman stops and turn to the TV, "Yeah, I think I heard something about it when I was over at the store earlier---she was swept away--right out of her Daddy's arms---that's so sad."
"What's so sad about it?" The man sneers, "The stupid man should have known better to have his kid out in that kind of weather."
"But, Henry---the news said that the man was on his way home with his kids--I think they said he had twin babies that he was also trying to protect--he couldn't hold them all---and the little girl got sucked right out of his arms!"
"I don't have no time to listen to any sad stories---I need to know what the weather will be--so we can get the rest of that cotton out of the fields. Between the damn weather and those Bo weevils-----we're not going to be able to make all of the bills this month.----And, speaking of bills----Jimmie Lee--you did tell that special educational teacher that Carolyn will not be attending anymore classes."
"But, Henry---the classes are free, they don't cost nothing!"
"What about the gas that it takes to fill up the old station wagon? That does cost money---gasoline is nearly $2 a gallon now!"
"But Pa---I can walk Carolyn over to the old school------"
"What about work, son? We need every penny that we can get to just make ends meet---I'm sorry---but---no more schooling for Carolyn--not now."
"Henry---if Carolyn doesn't go to that special education class---I hear that the state will take her away from us."
The man stops and looks at his daughter as she tries getting every last bit of gravy into her mouth, she turns her plate upside down and licks it clean. The man smiles as he reaches out to take the plate away from her---he scoots his own plate over to her to let her finish his last biscuit.
"It might be the best thing for her, Jimmie Lee---letting the state take her. At least she would be getting a square meal every day, a warm bed to sleep in at night----and maybe they can teach her how to talk."
Homer lowers his head, "You know what the tests showed, Pa---Carolyn has Down Syndrome----she will never be able to read or write. Her hearing is impaired-but I'm teaching her sign language---and she's picking it up."
"You're a good son---but you can't perform miracles! The doctors say that she might not make it to her 10th birthday----because of that heart thing-----"
"She's got a heart murmur, Pa---but the doctors also said she would never make it past her 3rd birthday---they were wrong. She's almost 9 now, progress is being made all the time for kids like Carolyn."
The man nods his head as he looks back to the TV, the little girl is being shown with a bearded man---a star on his chest.
"Would you look at that! Just because that little girl's father is a lawman--they are bending over backwards to try and find her! Now, I ask you---if that was a ordinary working man, like myself---would I get that much attention?"
The woman smiles as she looks back to her daughter, "The Lord works in mysterious ways, Henry---if that were our daughter missing---I know that the good Lord would help us to move heaven and earth to find her. After all, he gave us Carolyn---she might not be as pretty or nicely dressed as that little girl on the TV---but she is still loved.---And, we do love her despite her shortcomings, she's 'special'---the Lord gave us a 'special ' child to love. You can't deny that, can you Henry?"
"No, I can't and won't deny that I love my daughter----but can't he see that we need help? How much does he have to burden us with?"
The woman shakes her head, "Carolyn is not a 'burden' she was sent to us for a reason---the Lord has not seen fit to tell us what that reason be---or should he be expected to--the Lord owes us--no explanations!"
The man lowers his head, "You’re right---I'm just not strong anymore---the men in the fields make fun of me---they say that I have a 'freak' daughter---and---"
"I hear it too, Pa--my friends all make fun of my sister--they call her that terrible name--a 'retard'-----I hate hearing that word---I want to bash all of their heads in when they say it."
"They are the ones that do not understand----they are the ones that are ignorant--they are the ones to be 'pitied'. And, they are the ones that will be judged when their names are called--you are a good brother-----and you will continue to turn the other cheek---to protect your sister." His Mother replies.
The boy turns to look at his sister; she has her head cocked to one side, the dribble falling down her chin. She touches her heart and gestures to her family.
Walker has continued following the river, he keeps in touch with Trivette and the other searchers.
"We're going over every inch of ground, partner--- there's nothing to report. The National guard has stopped their search, but don't you worry Walkman---the volunteers are coming out of the woodwork---from all walks of life---all wanting to help look for 'our little girl’."
The Ranger has to pull the cell phone away from his ear, Trivette hears him clearing his throat. "Please thank all of them for me, Trivette."
"I will, partner. Walker---I know you don't want to hear this---but the chances of finding Angela alive are almost impossible. The impact of that twister and the way she was just 'sucked away’ right out of that truck drivers' arms…."
"She's not dead, Trivette!!! I would feel it if she were---no---she's out there---calling to me."
"Ok, Walker---you just hang in there, buddy----I'm handling everything at this end. Calls are coming in from all over the state and as far as Washington D.C. Alex even got a call from Chuck, he and his family are praying for all of you. Plus, also---George Bush called, he said if you needed extra man power, choppers, he would arrange it for you!"
"Thank you, Trivette--how is Alex and the boys---are they home yet---are they ok?"
"Alex is holding up, Erica and some of the Rangers' wives are at the ranch, helping to take care of the twins---she's worried sick about you---wanting to know if you're eating."
"Yeah," Walker lies, "I'm eating---tell her not to worry about me. Stay close to her Trivette, I know this is killing her."
Trivette chokes up, "It's hard on all of us, big guy---that's my little 'goddaughter' out there."
"Trivette, I'm hanging up now---I want to get in some more searching, I will continue to follow the river south."
"Walker---why are you following the river? Do you have a premonition, or is that Cherokee 'thing' coming through?"
"I just have a very strong feeling, Trivette---and I guess that old saying that tornados follow the water are just haunting me----I can't explain it---I just have to stay close to the water."
"Ok, partner---I just thought that maybe you were having a vision from White Eagle---or your Uncle Ray."
Walker takes a deep sigh, "I haven't heard from Uncle Ray yet, but I'm sure I will---I've heard from everyone else---including C.D!"
Trivette smiles, "Big dog? What does he say?" Trivette asks cautiously.
"He told me to get off my 'hinny' and make myself useful and to stop wasting time! In other words---I've got to go---I'm burning daylight."
It's the dawn of a new day and Angela has been missing for over 24 hours. Walker has slept very little and refuses to eat. Each time he tries to eat some of the dried jerky, his throat chokes up remembering that Angela is having no food at all.
By noon, Walker is getting irritable his faith is fading. He sits down beside the river and stares at the water. He knows that this part of the river will soon emerge with Blanco Lake, and later into the Sabine River. The Sabine has treacherous waters, huge boulders, and a waterfall.
"Maybe I'm wrong---maybe I've been looking in all the wrong places----I've wasted precious time and Angela is calling for me, I know she is."
"Cordell---don't give up my son."
Walker's head is spinning as he watches the water swirl, he looks around for the voice---the voice is ever so soft.
"I'm trying, Mother---but my faith is waning---I need to know if I'm looking in the right direction---can you help me, please?"
"Cordell, do you remember the first time that your father and I took you to the carnival---do you remember what intrigued you the most"?
"Yes---I remember the clowns."
The voice has a soft laugh, "Yes, you were taken away by the sights of the funny little men in their gobs of makeup and the way they made you laugh. You were not much older than my granddaughter is now-----and Cordell---she is so beautiful---so sweet---I am so proud that you gave her a part of my namesake."
Walker smiles, remembering the day that Angela was named. "Yes, Mother---she has your name---she has your spirit--I only wish that you could have lived long enough to see her born---to hold her."
"I hold her every night my son, as I do you also. When the darkness comes, I am in her room, spreading my protective wings over her as I did that day in the nursery, when she was fighting for her place in life".
Walker nods his head slowly, "Yes, I saw the angel protecting her---that is why we named her Angela----Angela Elizabeth Fire-Walker."
"The angels are looking out for her, my son. The water is her sister as the moon and the wind are her guides. You have yet to tell me what else intrigued you at the carnival? There was something else that caught your eye----you were mesmerized---do you remember what that was?"
"Yes---there was a man there that talked with his hands, the others were laughing him at, but his eyes were soft---and so were his hands. He made gestures of falling down and like he was pulled up by an invisible rope -- they call them "mimes". He relayed stories with his hands."
The voice begins to fade, "My granddaughter’s fate is in the hands of the silent one--silent sounds."
Alex is changing one of the twins as one of the Ranger's wives approaches her slowly.
"Uhhhhh----Alex---there are a couple of women here to see you."
Alex wipes her tears away, "I don't want to talk to anymore reporters---please tell them to go away."
The woman nods towards the front porch and the two women standing there. "They're not reporters, Alex----I think----they are----" the woman continues to clear her throat, ---"I think---they are---prostitutes!"
Alex hands the twin to the woman and walks out into the hall, she approaches the front door slowly and walks out. The two women start trying to fix their hair and make themselves more presentable. Alex looks at their attire, the tight fitting leotards and tighter fitting sweaters. The women act nervous as they both try to talk at the same time.
"I know you probably don't want us here, and we can't blame you---but we want to help."
The second woman nods her head, "We heard on the TV and in the papers about your little girl being missing----I know we are not exactly your type of people, we know Ranger Walker----- and we just want to help."
Alex manages a smile as she nods towards the women, "I know who you are---you've been in my district court several times."
"We know that, Mrs. Walker---please don't hold that against us----"
Alex shakes her head, "I'm not judging you---please come in."
The women walk in slowly and Alex asks one of the wives to bring them coffee. The women are too nervous to sit down, as they look around the living room and to the pictures that grace the fireplace. The raven-haired one walks over and picks up a picture of Walker and Angela.
Alex smiles, "That picture was taken just hours after we brought our little girl home."
The woman turns, "I know---Ranger Walker showed me this picture----when he busted me."
Alex does a double take, "My husband showed you that picture----why?"
The second woman sighs, "Because your husband is a caring man---even though he's busted Celeste and me several times----he was never mean to us---he never looked down his nose at us or our profession."
Alex looks to the one called Brandi, Walker has mentioned her several times and Brandi was also mentioned by several police officers and her "busom".
The one called Brandi looks back to Alex and tries to smile. "I guess it was a bad mistake in our coming here---we'll leave---"
"No, please---don't go---please sit down---I'm just so overwhelmed at all of the concern that everyone is showing me and my family in this time---please sit down."
The women sit down nervously, one of the Rangers' wives walk in with a crying twin. Alex reaches out for him, Celeste jumps up from the couch.
"Mrs. Walker---may I please help? I have a little one at home--I do know how to take care of babies---I really do."
The Ranger's wife looks to Alex cautiously as Alex nods, "It's ok, Nancy."
Brandi smiles, "Celeste is real good with kids---and your husband saw that. Every time he had to bust us---he would try and talk us into turning our lives around. Mrs. Walker---I remember the day your little girl was born---it was in the papers and all---that trouble with that man--Lava’cot---or whatever?"
Alex watches Celeste as she coos back at young Cooper." Yes----that was a very scary time for us all----my daughter came early---we almost---lost her."
Alex starts to cry and Brandi puts her arms around her, "I know, Mrs. Walker---there were several of us that went to church that night---and prayed for her."
Twister Chapter 3
Brandi stares back at Alex and the Ranger’s wives, "What?----You don't think that people like us can't worship?"
Alex shakes her head and motions for Brandi to have more coffee, "That's not what we were thinking---please---won't you sit back down---are you hungry?"
Celeste is still cooing at young Cooper, the baby smiles back at her.
"He smiled at me!" Celeste shrieks, "Did you see that?"
Brandi replies, "He's probably having gas".
Everyone starts to laugh and the mood is softening between the women. Brandi and Celeste have agreed to eat something and both ladies take their turns in caring for the Walker twins.
Gordon walks up to them slowly, putting his arm around his daughter. "Pumpkin---the channel 12 news is on, they're running Angela's story again".
Everyone huddles around the TV as the cameras go to the Walker backyard, and Ms Gray is standing in front of the dollhouse, she holds Angela's picture up to the camera.
"The search goes on for little Angela Walker, the daughter of Assistant District Attorney Alex Cahill-Walker and her husband, Cordell, a Texas Ranger. Little Angela has been missing going into the second day and while most of the searchers have given up of ever finding little Angela, and least of all---alive---the family has not given up. Ranger Walker continues to look for his daughter over the Texas plains, going on horseback through terrain that is not assessable by automobile.
As viewers recall, little Angela and her Father and twin baby brothers were on their way home when the tornado hit, causing them to seek shelter under the Jacksboro overpass just 9 miles from the Walker ranch. They were only 9 miles from safety and the security of a basement. Ranger Walker was helped by truck drivers to get his children up under the girders and to safety. While Ranger Walker and another trucker literally laid their bodies across the twin babies, another trucker was trying to protect young Angela. The tornado was so strong that it lifted the trucker up and little Angela Walker was sucked away by the strong winds.
The body of the trucker, Mike Terrall, that was trying to protect Angela was found later--there was no sign of little Angela. The trucker, Cecil Ward, that was laying across the Ranger and his sons was also killed, along with a woman that had been holding one of the babies. She had just seconds before handed the baby back to the Ranger before she was killed. The girl's Father was also injured, but refused medical help.
I am standing here in front of the little dollhouse that Ranger Walker built with is own two hands, his daughter's name is written out across the top of the door and colors of lavender and pink compliment the dollhouse."
Ms Gray has to stop and clear her throat, she continues on:
"This is the latest picture of Angela, taken on her 2nd birthday---the 19th of last month. The picture shows her in front of the dollhouse that her Daddy built----and she's holding her prized possession---a stuffed doll----that she calls Miss Dolly.
“Angela is 2 yrs old, blond hair, blue eyes and as you can see from her picture, she is a very impressionable and loving----------excuse me for a minute-------"
The cameras go away from the reporter for seconds, and then spans back. The woman is wiping her eyes as she takes a deep breath.
"I'm sorry, I'm not behaving on a professional level. No, I will not apologize for letting this story get to me. I know the Walker family and maybe----I should let someone else finish reporting it for me---I will turn the story over to my colleague-----Jack---will you take over----please-------"
Alex shakes her head as she watches her friend hand the microphone to her friend, she turns to her Dad, "I can't watch anymore---I'm going to try and call my husband."
The two boys are walking along the riverbed, throwing rocks at some frogs. The little red haired girl follows slowly behind them as she too, is trying to throw rocks into the river. The older boy frowns and looks back at the little girl and then to the dark haired boy beside him.
"Why did you have to bring her along?"
"Because there is no one home to watch her, both my parents have to work---remember?"
The boy continues to frown, "She spoils everything! I'm glad I don't have to drag my little brothers and sisters along with me."
Homer looks back to his sister and shrugs, "Carolyn is no problem---she's not hurting anything by tagging along."
"Just the same, I wish you didn't have to bring that-----that…"
Homer throws the rocks down on the ground, he stares at his friend---"Watch it, Billy---don't you dare say that word-----or so help me, I'll bash your head in.”
Billy backs away, "Ok, ok-----don't let your shorts ride up your butte hole----I'm sorry."
"You best be sorry, Carolyn can't help the way she was born-----you better thank your lucky stars that your brothers and sisters are all normal---or at least----normal in the eyes of the ignorant."
"What do you mean by that remark, Homer?"
Carolyn runs up to her brother in a awkward gait, she looks up to him, smiling---and making signs to him. He smiles back at her as he puts his arm around her shoulder.
He signs back to her that all is ok and he asks her if she's hungry. She starts grunting and making loud noises, nodding her head up and down and gestures to her stomach, indicating that she is very hungry. He takes her by the hand and sits her down beside a huge rock.
"I have some baloney sandwiches and some water. Here--you sit down and eat----Billy and I are going to try and catch some frogs----for supper." The boy grins and rubs his hand in a circular motion around his tummy, "Maybe-----if we catch enough frogs---Mama can make frog legs-----would you like that, Carolyn?"
The girl does not understand everything that her brother is saying to her, she just knows that he is paying attention to her-----and she loves being with her big brother. She smiles back and puts her hand across her heart and then to her lips.
Homer smiles, "I love you too---now you stay here and eat."
The two boys start throwing rocks into the water again.
"Hey Homer----look at that big log out in the water."
"Yeah, it's really big--it must have been broken off by the storm up river----and the current is carrying it down stream."
They start throwing rocks at it again and Billy points at it.
"There are some old clothes attached to it, I see something pink."
Homer stares at it, "Looks like an old doll----I'll bet I can come closer to hitting it than you can."
"Bet you can't!" Billy yells back.
They continue to throw the rocks till they tire, neither of them admitting who is the winner. They start walking away, Carolyn looks out at the old log then she starts trying to get her brother's attention.
She runs up to her brother and begins pulling on his arm and making grunting noises towards the water. She starts flailing her arms around, but Homer cannot make out what she is trying to tell him.
"What's the matter with her?" Asks Billy. "Maybe she needs to go to the bathroom ---or something.
Carolyn starts shaking her head and pulling on Homer's hand and pointing to the water.
"What, Carolyn? Yeah, there's a lot of water----do you want to throw rocks too?"
Carolyn begins to grunt louder, her eyes are wide with fright. She continues to point---at the old log.
Homer stares out at the water, "I can't understand what she is trying to tell me, something about that old log. Oh my God----Billy---did you see that?"
Billy glares back at his friend, "Did I see what?"
"The log----it moved"!
"Of course it did, you moron! The water is moving it!”
"NO-------I'm not talking about the log----something moved---I saw something pink---moving----like an arm."
Billy waves him away, "Get out of here---you're seeing things."
Homer continues to stare out at the water, "There it is again----I saw something pink---didn't you see it?"
Billy starts rubbing his eyes, "Yeah---I saw something move---it's just an old doll."
Homer starts shaking his head, "That's no doll, Billy---that's a baby---a live baby!"
Both of the boys start edging out into the water, the log is about 15 feet out into the water and it's snagged on some rocks. Billy shouts back to his friend.
"It's a little girl!"
"Can you reach her?"
Billy takes a deep breath as he looks back to his friend, "I think I can---I'll try."
Homer looks back to his sister, "Stay on the banks, Carolyn----don't come any closer."----He signs back to her. He watches his friend swim out to the log. Billy reaches the log and shouts back.
"I was right---it's a little girl and she's alive! Homer---go get help, I think she's hurt!"
"What about you, Billy? Can you hold onto her and keep her afloat?"
The boy shakes his head, "No!! I'm trying to hold onto this rock, if it un-snags---we're both going to be going downstream---I need help!"
Homer runs back up the bank and grabs his sister, "Carolyn----you got to get help----run to the feed store and tell them to call the police---to call 911---get help Carolyn---can you do this?"
Carolyn stares back at her brother, confused. Homer looks back to the water, he sees his friend trying to hold on to the log and to the rocks.
"Billy needs help, I have to help him---run Carolyn---go get help."
Carolyn looks back at the road and then back to Homer, she signs the word "HELP!"
"Yes, yes---go get help---hurry Carolyn." Homer then starts running back down to the water and dives in.
The little girl heads to the road and in the direction of the local feed store.
Homer has reached the log and reaches out to his friend.
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah, a little tired. Homer, I don't know how much longer I can hold on. You need to get help."
"Carolyn has gone for help-------"
"Carolyn?????----Are you crazy? She can't get help! Now we're both going to drown!"
Homer starts taking his belt off and motions for Billy to do the same. "I have faith in her---I know she will find someone to help us. Take your belt off and let's buckle them together----around this rock---it should help to hold us."
"I sure hope you're right---about Carolyn getting us help--because the little girl is starting to move around more, if she topples over into the water, she's a goner!"
"I know---I know---just try to keep the log upright and let's both pray our belts will hold------and Carolyn will be back----with some help."
Walker is still following the river, he's exhausted as he dismounts and lies down on the grass. He rubs his face and his tired eyes then takes the little doll from inside his shirt. The doll's top half is gone, like it was ripped from his little girl's hands by a powerful force. Walker can feel himself starting to give into his emotions, as he struggles to keep the tears from coming.
"I'm not giving up----I know she's not dead---I know it!. I'm looking for you, Angela---please don't give up on me."
Walker closes his eyes and he sees his little girl running to him, across the front porch. Alex is following behind, smiling and rubbing her stomach.
"Daddy, Daddy---guess what?"
"What, my baby?" He bends down and scoops her up in his arms.
Angela is all giggles as she points back to her Mother's stomach "We feel the babies moving---they moved real good today, Daddy---Mommy says they are kicking!"
Walker smiles and reaches out to touch his wife's stomach---he kisses her softly. "Yep----I feel them too---they're in a hurry to see their big sister."
He walks his daughter over to the porch swing, and Alex sits down beside them. Walker takes the string from the arm of the porch swing and looks out towards the setting sun. He hands the string to his daughter and whispers low, "Ok, my angel---it's time to pull the sun down. Remember to pull very gently---and very slow."
Angela sits in her Daddy's lap and looks out at the evening sun, all a bask in his orange and yellow hues. Her mouth 'ohs and ahs' as the combination of the string that goes high up into the old oak tree, and the help of Mother nature--join to bring the sun down---like magic.
Within seconds the sun has set, and Angela whispers, "Let's do it again, Daddy."
Walker and Alex laugh and the Ranger replies. "We'll have to wait for another day, my angel--the sun has gone to sleep."
Alex smiles back at her husband and then to Angela, "Yes----and our little girl is getting sleepy also."
Walker ties the string back to the arm of the swing and then he cradles his daughter closer into his chest as he kisses the side of her head. He whispers.
"You know, Angela----suns also rise---now if we could talk your Mommy into getting up in the morning to see one, we would let her pull the string and we could watch the sun come up, rather than go down."
Alex frowns as she watches the silly little grin cross her husband's face, "You know how much I hate getting up early."
Walker sighs, "Yes, I'm very aware of it, and our daughter doesn't like getting up early either."
Alex takes a deep breath and leans over on her husband's shoulder, "We better get the little rug rat inside--or you're going to be carrying us both inside--I'm about to fall asleep."
Walker rises up from the grass, he stares at Miss Dolly and then to the west as the sun is starting to lower. He whispers through tears.
"Can you see the sun set, Angela? I'm pulling the string slowly baby---can you see it?"
It's almost 9pm before the boys see the trucks pulling up to the river. Voices are shouting orders to get ropes as several of the men jump into the water to help the boys. They are all pulled safely to the banks.
"Who is she? Is she alive? What's she doing out here?"
The questions are being asked left and right as one of the men reach down and put a blanket over the little girl. "We got to get her to a doctor--someone call an ambulance."
Homer looks up to see his father running down to the bank. He grabs his son and hugs him tightly. "Are you ok?"
"I'm ok, Pa---where is Carolyn?"
"She's with your Ma---she's ok---we almost never understood what she was trying to tell us----come on boy---we got to get you and Billy into some dry clothes"! He turns to the other men, "Bring the little girl back to our place, it's closer---we can keep her warm there till the ambulance arrives."
The little girl is loaded up and put in one of the trucks and taken to Homer's home. His Mother meets them at the door with blankets.
"Put her in front of the oven and turn it on, I will warm up some milk for her."
Homer lowers his head, "We don't have anymore milk, Ma---I let Carolyn have the last of it for breakfast."
One of the men replies that he will go to his place for the milk as everyone gathers around the little form in front of them.
"Jimmie Lee---you need to take those wet clothes off of her, put one of Carolyn's dresses on her----and more blankets! Jake---did you call for an ambulance?"
"Yes," the man answers, “but sheriff Coble said he would take care of it, he's on his way here."
Carolyn runs up to her brother and Homer hugs her, giving her the "A-o-k-" sign. She looks over at the little girl and then points to the TV.
Homer nods his head, "Yeah, Carolyn---it's the little girl that was reported missing in that tornado. Is she ok, Ma?"
"I ain't no doctor, but I don't feel any broken bones---someone needs to call her parents-------"
"Ain't nobody calling no doctor," The voice booms out.
"Sheriff, the little girl might be hurting inside---we need to get her to the doctor---to a hospital!"
"SSSSShhhh, everybody---just shut up and let me think," the sheriff replies angrily.
"What's there to think about, Clyde? This little girl is the one that's missing---call her parents," pleads Jimmie Lee.
The sheriff is a little man, a "Barney Fife" look alike. "Apparently, you haven't heard the latest broadcast."
"What are you talking about?” Asks Homer's father.
"A reward has been posted----"$10,000 for information on the whereabouts of this little girl."
Homer stares back at the lawman, "So what? This little girl needs to have medical help, it's like Ma said, she could have internal injuries---that we can't see!"
The sheriff frowns and then tells the other men to leave, he steps outside to talk to them, then steps back inside. He looks around the small house and then to Henry.
"Where is my rent money, Henry---and last month's too?"
"I told you, Clyde---I don't have it. I can't pay you till the money comes in from that last crop of cotton."
"Chicken crap, Henry-----and you know it!"
"I'm trying Clyde---you'll get your money," Henry replies softly.
"Yeah, you're damn right about that---all $10,000 worth of it---and more!"
"Clyde Coble----what are you saying?" Jimmie Lee shouts back at the lawman, "are you saying you're going to take money from those people for finding their little girl? You are an officer of the law---how can you think such a horrible thought?"
Clyde walks over to the little girl and touches her, the little girl whimpers, "Daddy?"
"She's talking Ma---she's asking for her Daddy," Homer replies happily.
"Listen to me---all of you---'cause I'm only going to say this one time---we are not taking her to no hospital. Dr. Moore can come out here and check her out and then------"
"That drunk?" Henry yells back, "He can't stay sober long enough to check himself out--- much less a child."
"Listen to me, Henry---you are in no shape to be telling me what to do, you and your family is starving to death, and if I don't get my rent money soon---you'll be out in the street---do I make myself clear?"
"This is wrong, sheriff---you're breaking the law by not reporting this"!
The sheriff stares back at Homer and shakes his fist, "You keep quiet or you'll feel my fist up against your mouth!"
Henry steps in front of Homer and angrily says to the sheriff, "You're not hitting my son!"
Carolyn can feel the tension in the room and she, too, steps in front of Homer and kicks out at the sheriff, hitting him in the knee. The man yelps, drawing his fist back to hit her, again Henry stops him.
The man starts pacing, "I'm not telling you again---this is the way it's going to be---no hospital!!! After Dr Moore checks her out---YOU make a phone call and tell the little girl's parents that you know where their daughter is---but the price is $20,000---cash!"
Henry starts shaking his head, "No---no way--I won't do it---that's------that's---what do they call that, Homer?"
Homer glares back at the sheriff, and spits at his feet, "EXTORTION - Pa, that's what it called!"
The little girl starts to cry and Carolyn runs to her side. The little girl looks up at the little red haired girl and reaches up her little hand, Carolyn takes it as she smiles back. She starts hitting her chest with her hands and pointing at the little girl, and then back to the TV. Homer nods his head, signing.
"Yes, Carolyn---it's the same little girl---her name is Angela."
Carolyn starts signing more and making a sweeping gesture like someone flying---someone with wings.
Homer looks back at his sister, "Yes, her name comes from the word ANGEL----her name is Angela Walker."
"Walker! Honey--please tell me you have some good news."
The Ranger is leaning up against a tree and watching the water, he answers slowly.
"No, hon---nothing new----that's why I haven't called--I didn't want to upset you even more."
He can hear his wife sobbing, "Walker, where are you?---I want to be there with you--searching for our little girl----"
"Alex, there's nothing you can do---I'm looking everywhere-----"
"She's my daughter too, Walker!! I want to help search for her---unless----there's something----you're not---telling me---oh my God--you're hiding something!"
"No hon---I'm not keeping anything from you---it's just that---I'm starting to feel very afraid---that I've been looking in the wrong places."
"Tell me where you are, Walker---I need to be there with you," Alex sobs.
Walker takes a deep breath, "You're right--- I need you here---beside me----I just feel like I'm not doing everything possible. There's a small town down the river, it's called Sound---or something like that--about 20 miles West of 171--do you know where that is?"
"I'll find it!---I'm leaving now--I should be there in less than 2 hours! Are you heading there now?"
"Yeah, I'll meet you there--bring Amigo's trailer, we'll continue searching in the Ram."
The sheriff is wanting to move Angela into town, to Doc Moore's office, Homer and his parents are arguing with him to leave the little with them.
"You can't go moving her into town, sheriff---don't you think people will start asking questions about you having a little 2 yr old girl with you? You said you wanted this kept quiet!"
The little man ponders the thought, "Yeah, you're right---can't risk a lot of people asking questions. I'll leave her here till morning---then I will move her to my sister's place down around Waco."
"Waco? That's over a hundred miles away---you can't go moving her, without knowing what her injuries are," pleads Jimmie Lee.
The sheriff looks over to Angela, the little girl is staring back at him with blank eyes, she's weak, but she is trying to speak. Angela's eyes are filling with tears as she sees the badge on the man's chest, and tries to point to it, then starts to cry.
"Daddy-------I ------want Daddy."
"She's crying, Ma---please do something."
The woman looks down at Angela, her hands start to shake as she looks back to her son. "I'm almost afraid to pick her up---she might be hurting inside----I don't know what to do."
Carolyn attempts to pick Angela up, Homer pulls her back gently, "No, Carolyn---you might drop her."
Homer sits down at the kitchen table, he stares back at his parents and to the sheriff, "We got to do something---Ma---can I hold her?"
The sheriff grunts, "Do something! Stop her from doing all that dang crying!"
Homer reaches down and picks Angela up, whispering to her softly. "No one is going to hurt you----Angela----please stop crying. No one is going to hurt you----I promise."
Angela continues to cry, her voice is getting raspy, her eyes are dry from dehydration. She keeps trying to look back at the sheriff and to his badge, reaching for it. Homer stares back at sheriff Coble, his voice is angry.
"Your badge is what she's wanting---'cause her Daddy wears a badge---- the poor kid--she's so confused-----and scared."
"Well, she's not getting my damn badge---what's that piece of rag in her hand?"
Homer looks down at Angela's right hand, she's squeezing something red. "It's what is left---of an old doll. The picture on the TV showed her holding a stuffed doll and it was dressed in red too---it's her doll---Miss Dolly---the papers called it."
Jimmie Lee tries to ease the doll out of Angela's hand, but the little girl squirms and pulls her hand back, crying harder. The woman shakes her head.
"She's not going to let go of it---the poor thing is terrified that we're going to hurt her----and take her only possession away from her."
"That's not going to happen," Homer replies, as he lowers his voice and whispers to Angela again. "Can I please see Miss Dolly---I won't hurt her----I promise".
Angela is screaming louder and trying to get out of the boys' arms, Carolyn eases up to her brother and starts signing to him. Angela stops crying and stares at Carolyn, her blue eyes wide in confusion.
"Ok, Carolyn---see if she will let you have the doll."
Carolyn starts to make low grunting noises as she tries to take the doll away from Angela. Angela cries harder.
Homer's Mom gently pulls Carolyn away, "I think it's best that we leave her be for right now----we're only scaring her---and I'm sure she's got to be hungry. When is Sam coming back with that milk?"
The sheriff clears his throat, "I'll go looking for him."
"Good," replies Henry---"And, while you're at it, go by the store and get this little girl something to eat."
"YES," Agrees Jimmie Lee, "Some lunch meat for sandwiches won't hurt. And, maybe some fruit."
"Fruit?" Yells the sheriff, "I've never bought fruit in my life---I'll get the lunch meat and some bread---that's it."
The sheriff starts stomping to the door and Jimmie Lee yells back at him---"Don't forget the milk!"
Twister - Chapter four
The few townspeople that have not gone to bed with the chickens, look in awe at the strange duo coming down the main street of their little town.
Walker and Amigo move slowly towards the old gas station, Walker dismounts and looks to the two old men staring back at him.
"Is there a place where I can bed my horse and get him some feed?"
"Yeah, " replies the first man, "there's a field out there."
Walker looks back to the man and then to the sky, "There's a storm moving in, I want him to have some shelter---what about that old shed?"
The two men exchange glances and look to the sky, they both laugh. "Ain't no storm coming in---there's not a cloud in the sky."
Off in the distance the faint sound of thunder is heard, the sky lights up for only a second. The men look to each other and back to the bearded man.
"Like I said, a storm is moving in and I want my horse to have shelter---I will pay for the use of the old shed."
The first man swallows hard as he walks towards Walker and takes the horse's reins, "I'll take care of him mister---I'll see that he's rubbed down, and some fresh water and oats".
Walker nods, "Appreciate it---is there a motel in this town, too?"
The second man nods, "There's a room for let over there---at Ruby's---ain't in too good a shape---but at least there's a bed."
Walker looks to the old apartment building and then back to the man. "I could use some coffee."
"I can help you, mister---got a coffee pot on the stove--right back here in my office."
Walker follows the man inside to his old room, that he calls an office. He takes his thermos and fills it, then pays the old man. He walks back outside and looks down the main road and then to his watch.
"Alex should be here soon, I'll go check out the room."
The sheriff has come and brought the food, plus some canned soup. Jimmie Lee heats up the chicken soup and attempts to feed Angela.
Angela keeps pushing the woman's hand away from her, she sobs, "Mommy----I want my Mommy."
The sheriff scoffs, "After all the trouble I went though going to buy that stuff---and she ain't eating!"
Homer glares back at the man as he attempts to feed Angela too. "How much trouble did it take, sheriff? All you did was go through your groceries and bring her what's left. This isn't even a whole loaf of bread---and it's stale!"
"Don't get smart with me, boy---the soup is fresh."
It takes a few minutes and finally, Angela is sipping on the soup and drinking some of the milk. Carolyn is standing next to her brother and making grunting noises, Angela is watching her.
"I'm going home---I'll be back for her first thing in the morning----so have her ready."
Henry takes a deep sigh as the sheriff walks out then shakes his head. "The man is crazy---talking about taking her all the way to Waco---Doc Moore hasn't even checked her out yet."
Homer watches as Angela continues to watch Carolyn, he smiles and touches his sister's red hair. He says softly, "You feel and know more than you're letting on, don't you?"
"What do you mean son?"
"Ma, I was referring back earlier when Angela cried out and Carolyn went to her, I believe that Carolyn's hearing is better than we've been led to believe."
"But----it was probably just something that she felt. That teacher said that these kind of people have those kind of special powers---to feel things."
Homer lowers his head, "All the more reason that Carolyn should be going to school---she needs special attention."
"Don't go starting in on that 'school' stuff, Homer---we got enough problems as it is---and we don't have the money to send her. My God, son----we're just getting by as it is."
"He don't mean no disrespect, Henry---Homer knows how hard it is on all of us."
"I'm sorry Pa---I won't say anymore."
Angela has pushed Homer's hand back and is kicking to get out of his arms. Jimmie Lee encourages him to set her down and see if she's able to walk.
As the rest of them are watching Angela, Carolyn grabs the half empty bowl of chicken soup and drinks it. Angela is half crying as she attempts to walk, while holding onto what is left of her doll. She turns around and looks back at everyone, clutching the doll closer to her.
"I want my Mommy---and my Daddy."
Homer smiles back at her and then to his Mother. "Aside from some bruises and some cuts---she seems to be ok--don't she, Ma?"
The woman nods, "She has a small cut over her eye---but it doesn't look serious."
Angela attempts to walk back to Homer, she reaches out her hand and he takes it. Again she cries for her parents, then she starts crying harder.
"We have to do something Pa---we can't let sheriff Coble take her to Waco---we have to notify her parents."
"Yes, Homer is right. Her poor parents are probably just as scared as she is---we have to call them."
"We can't do that! If Clyde finds out, he'll kick us to the street."
"And, if the law finds out that we have been holding her against her wishes---you could go to jail Pa---and none of us want that!"
Henry starts to pace as he listens to Angela crying louder. "How far is that place from here where she lives, Homer?"
"About 150 miles, Pa---it's called Springtown--why? What are you thinking?"
He half whispers, "We could take her there."
"But, Henry---I don't think our old station wagon would make that long a trip---you said the tires were almost bald--not to mention gasoline!"
"I can switch the tires around and put the better ones in front, how much money do you have?"
"About $6.00----I think."
"I got about $14.00---Homer, would that get us enough gas to get her there?"
"It would be stretching it----that old wagon only gets about 6 miles to the gallon now. Pa---why can't we just call them?"
"In the first place we would have to go to town to use the phone, we can't afford to pay for long distance!"
"Pa," the boy answers softly, "we can ask to reverse the charges, it won't cost us nothing!"
The man rubs his hand through his hair, and asks meekly, "Is that how that works? Your old man is pretty stupid, isn't he?"
Homer walks up to his Dad, "No, Pa---I don't think you're stupid. Are you really serious about taking Angela to her parents?"
The man looks around at the old house and all of his cracks in the walls and the ceiling. "I look at this way, if we let Clyde take this little girl to Waco, there's no telling what may happen to her once he gets the money. And, we still don't know if she has some of those--injuries---"
"Internal injuries, Pa---and they can only be detected through x-rays and total examinations."
"Yeah," the man replies, "those kind. And, what if he gets the money and he tries to blame it on us? I'm thinking this, the crops are not going to get us through another year, I say--we move back to Arkansas."
"Arkansas? Henry---are you serious?"
"Yes, Jimmie Lee, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. We both have family there--we can't be any worse off---can we?"
Angela is wearing herself down as Homer picks her up and lays her on the old beat up couch. He looks back to his parents and to Carolyn who is also getting sleepy.
"I ain't never been out of Texas, Pa---but I hear you and Ma talking about Arkansas and your home town of Boone County---I say---we go."
Henry and Jimmie Lee stare at each other then they both start smiling. Jimmie Lee looks around her and says quietly.
"What do we take?"
"We don't take nothing but the clothes on our backs and some personal belongings--the wagon won't hold anymore than what is necessary! ---Jimmie Lee--start making up some sandwiches with that lunch meat that Clyde brought over---Homer--you have to come with me to help me switch the tires around."
Jimmie Lee grabs an old box and starts throwing clothes into it, "Is that place where Angela lives--is it on the way to Boone County?"
"Yes, Ma--- but on the way we will try to call her parents--maybe they can pick her up somewhere closer."
Henry is nudging his son towards the door, "We'll discuss all of this on the way---hurry son, we have to get those tires changed and get to Zeb's gas station---it looks like it's going to pour down rain again!!"
Alex has arrived in Sounds, Walker can see the Ram coming down the main street. He walks out to meet her as the sky opens up. They run towards the old apartment building and to their room.
"I'm sorry hon---I know the room is not much but it's all they got."
She turns and falls into his arms, "I don't care what the room looks like----oh Walker, I am so scared--what are we going to do---if---if we can't find her?"
"Don't talk like that, Alex--we're going to find her---we keep looking till we do."
He holds her for the longest till she gently pulls away from him. "Honey---have you eaten anything?"
Walker sighs, "I had some jerky earlier---but it wouldn't go down."
Alex is half crying and half laughing, "I know---it's the same with me----everything just seems to stick in my throat. I was afraid you hadn't been able to eat---I made some sandwiches for you."
Walker shakes his head, "I can't eat, Alex---just let me hold you, I need to feel you close---to feel Angela through you."
She goes back into his arms and they can both feel each other's body starting to shake. Outside the rain is coming down hard. Alex starts to cry harder as she whispers, "Oh please God---keep our little girl safe and dry."
The old station wagon is moving slowly through the rain, the windshield wipers on the drivers' side is broken and Henry is having to keep his window halfway down to see the road. Homer is keeping Angela and Carolyn covered with some blankets.
"Henry, I don't think we should chance getting our gas in Silence---maybe we should go onto Sounds?"
"We don't have enough gas to get that far, Jimmie Lee."
"But, what if sheriff Coble or some of those men see us at the gas station---they will know what we're up to."
"She's right, Pa---let's try to get to Sounds---it's about half an hour from here."
Henry hits the dashboard, "Damn it--I suppose you're right! We'll let it coast as much as possible."
Alex is tossing and turning, she finally gives in and goes to sit by the window. She looks back at her husband, he has finally fallen asleep. She takes one of the blankets and wraps it around her as she looks out at the rain coming down. She starts to cry again as the thunder and lightening increases. She's always hated the storms and Angela was afraid of them too.
She sees herself running across the hall into her daughter's room. "It's ok, sweetheart---Mommy is here. Want to come sleep with me and Daddy?"
She would pick her up and take her back to their bedroom and Angela would nestle up against her daddy's protective chest and arms. She would giggle and then soon be fast asleep, as her left hand would be holding tight to her Mother's hand.
Alex holds the blanket tighter to her and does not see the old station wagon coasting into the old gas station with its lights off.
It's now early morning in the town of Sounds, Alex is making her way to the little grocery store/gas station; the rain has slacked up.
She sees the two men arguing near the gas pumps. She steps inside the store and goes in search for some aspirin for her splitting headache. The two men come into the store, still arguing.
"I told you, mister---I can't turn the pumps on till 8am--- it's a federal law and it's in my contract with the gasoline company."
"Can't you make a little exception? We need the gas so we can get on down the road---I won't tell anybody."
The man looks at his watch, "I have another 45 minutes before I can turn the pumps on. Another 45 minutes is not going to make that much difference---now get out of here, mister and quit pestering me!"
The man turns and stomps out. Alex shakes her head and starts rubbing her eyes. The headache is getting worse, the tension from all that has happened is closing in on her. She could not sleep as she sat by the window, watching Walker toss and turn. She knew he was blaming himself for what had happened. During the night he would call out Angela's name, then fall back into an exhausted sleep and more tossing and turning.
"May I help you, miss?"
Alex turns to see the store clerk staring at her, "I need something for a migraine---do you have Imitrex--extra strength?"
"I'm sorry ma'am--but what I have is on the shelf."
Alex goes back to trying to find something else for her headache, a young boy of about 12 walks into the store and to the soda section. He looks at the prices, then he digs into his pants pocket, he sighs as he takes two of the canned sodas and walks up to the counter. The clerk stares back at him.
"You're short $.35, kid."
"I'm sorry-- that's all the money I have," the boy stammers.
The clerk shakes his head, "Then you'll have to put one of the sodas back, I'm not running a charity place here."
Alex watches the young boy as he looks out at the old station wagon and then back to the clerk, "Please mister, my sisters are thirsty---I'll sweep up for you, I'll work the .35 off---I'm a hard worker."
The clerk grabs the colas and puts them back on the shelf as Alex walks up to the counter, clutching Excedrin.
"Get out of here, kid---I've already had to run your Pa out of here--no charity and no special favors!"
The boy starts to argue and Alex is rubbing her forehead, she turns to the clerk.
"Please, just let the boy have the colas, I will pay the difference."
The clerk stares back at the blonde in the plastic rain bonnet, "Are you sure, miss?"
"Yes---let the boy have the colas---and let him have some chips too---and throw in some candy bars."
The boy looks to Alex, "Thank you ma'am--but the colas will be plenty--don't want to be beholding to you."
Alex smiles back at him and lays $20 on the counter. "Take my aspirin out of that and let the boy have the rest," she turns to the boy. "You get what you need and don't worry about 'beholding to me'---I'm happy to do it."
Alex walks out the door as the boy looks at her suspiciously, then he turns to the clerk. "That aspirin was $7.34---I have exactly $13.66 coming to me. I will take 5 colas and some chips please, the rest of the money goes towards gasoline---if you ever turn the pumps on."
The man groans and starts ringing up the boy's order. He watches as the boy walks to the front door and watches the woman go back to the old apartment building.
"Mister, do you know who that woman is?"
The clerk slams the register shut and hands the boy some bills, he counts it quickly, "You're short .66," the boy replies slowly.
The clerk is swearing as again he opens his register then slams the money down on the counter. "Take your change and get out of here---and "NO" I do not know who that woman is!"
The boy continues to watch as Alex enters the old building, he shakes his head, "She sure does look familiar---where have I seen her before?"
The boy feels a hand on his shoulder and he turns to see his Mother, she looks down at all the colas and the chips.
"Homer, where did you get all of this, how did you pay for it?"
Homer looks towards the building and smiles, "An angel helped me, ma! You're right---God works in mysterious ways."
"I need you to watch Carolyn while I take Angela to the little girls' room."
"Sure ma---I got us all colas--I hope Angela likes the one I got her---it's strawberry."
Walker and Alex have decided to try and eat something, they head to the little cafe. Their breakfast is served but all either of them can do is just peck at the food. Finally, Alex pushes her plate away as she fights back the tears. Walker reaches out and takes her hand, they say nothing---what else is there to say?
"I can't eat, Walker---knowing that our little girl might be starving---if----if she's still ----alive."
"Stop it, Alex---don't think like that--she's still alive---I can feel it."
Alex starts to shake, "How can you be sure? Have you had a vision--oh honey--please tell me it's a good vision."
Walker continues to sip his coffee, "I can't explain it hon---I just feel it-----but yet----I'm feeling so helpless. Even my talks with White Eagle and my parents---I feel I'm missing something."
Alex wipes her eyes, "Your parents? Have you been talking to them, too?"
"Yeah," the Ranger answers slowly. "I know sometimes you must think I'm really a basket case when I say that dead people talk to me-----"
She reaches out and takes his hand, kissing it---"In the beginning when we first met and you told me of the dreams of talking to your parents---Yes---I did think you were crazy! But, Walker---I know that you believe very deeply in the native spirits and in the years I have known you---I have witnessed many strange and un-explained happenings. Some of them I question, but I've learned never to question you and what you believe. Please tell me what your parents are saying."
Walker takes both of his wife's hands into his, "I'm confused, Alex----my Mother keeps saying that Angela's fate is in the hands of the silent one--I don't understand what she's trying to tell me. Is she telling me that this silent one---is already dead----what? I don't understand."
Alex starts to cry harder, "Are we being punished? Are we not good parents?"
"Punished? No hon---we're not being punished----at least---not you--You're the best Mother a child could want."
"And you? Do you think you're being punished? Walker, you were tossing and turning all night and telling Angela that you were sorry---what were you apologizing for?"
Walker slams his fist down on the table, causing some customers to jump as well as his wife. "For my stupidity, that's what! The statistics have been written in tornado safety say underpasses are not safe, and yet---I chose to take my kids up under those cement girders."
"Honey---you had no choice---you had only seconds to decide what to do----what could you have done in those circumstances----lay down in a ditch---with 3 babies?"
Walker shakes his head, "We were only ten minutes from the safety of our home---and a basement. I should never have picked them up from day care--- I should have never made that---extra stop----"
Alex smiles softly, "And, what stop was that? The one to the Sonic--and the strawberry ice cream?"
"How do you know about that?"
"I saw the discarded dish in the floorboard of the Ram," Alex replies softly--"and, I know that you have never been able to refuse Angela's request for strawberry ice cream."
Walker's voice begins to break as he asks quietly, "You're not blaming me?"
Alex says nothing as she reaches out and puts her arms around her husband's neck then she says softly. "I love you, Walker---I could never blame you—never."
Walker reaches for his wallet and lays some money on the table. "We need to get started--are you ready?"
Alex sighs, "I need to make another trip to the ladies' room, I'm having a heck of a time trying to urinate."
Walker smiles, "It's nerves, hon---just try and relax, take your time. I'm going over to get the Ram gassed up and make sure that "Amigo" is ready to travel."
Angela is barely touching the strawberry cola, as she continues to cry. She looks to Homer, her little lips quiver.
"I wanna go home," she sobs.
"We're taking you home, Angela---if all goes well---you'll be with your Mommy and Daddy late this evening---or tonight. Please don't be scared---nobody is going to hurt you---ok?"
Homer tries to push Angela's hair back out of her face, he feels her warm forehead, "Ma---she feels a little warm."
Jimmie Lee turns around in her seat, she's been watching her husband argue with the gas station attendant, the pump has gone over and the man wants his money.
The woman feels Angela's forehead, "I was afraid of this, all those days without food and water---and no telling how long she was in that muddy water---she's getting a fever."
Carolyn is attempting to touch Angela's forehead too, but Angela starts crying harder. Homer shakes his head.
"This ain't good, ma---if she continues to run a fever, she could get really sick---she needs a doctor."
"I know son---your pa is doing everything he can, and as soon as he and that man stop arguing, we'll be on our way. Go see what the argument is about, do you have any money left from what that woman gave you?"
Homer checks his change, "I got almost a dollar, Ma---but I need at least .50 to make that call to Angela's parents----and I think we better call them---now."
The boy climbs out of the station wagon and walks over to his Pa and the man, the pump has gone over $1.09---the man is furious with Homer's Dad. Homer pleads with the man.
"Look, I have almost a dollar, but I need to make a call to the operator---when she returns my .50---you can have it---along with what else I have---could you just give me a few minutes---please!"
The man grunts---"Very well----hurry up and make your call."
Homer runs to the pay phone, his Dad walks up beside him. "Do you know their number?"
"I didn't bring the newspaper with that number they had posted after they offered their reward---but the operator will help me."
"Yes, operator I need the number for a Cordell Walker, in Springtown."
"I'm sorry, but that number is unlisted, and we can not release it."
"Operator, please listen---I know that number is unlisted because he's a Texas Ranger---but another number was listed in the newspaper because their little girl was missing in a tornado that came through about 3 days ago--I don't know that number---but I have information on their little girl."
The operator turns to her supervisor and then back to the phone, "Are you saying this is a police emergency?"
"Yes ma'am, I know where their little girl is, could you please ring their number for me?"
The operator hesitates, "Could I have the number you are calling from? I will notify Ranger Walker of your call and he can call you back, but regulations say I can not release his number, he's a public servant."
Homer starts looking for a phone number, he can't find one, "Operator, there is no number on this phone."
"Then tell me the name of the city from where you are calling---and your name."
Homer nods his head, "Yes ma'am---I'm calling from-------"
Henry grabs Homer and pulls him away from the phone pointing at the highway and the sheriff's car coming towards them, "Hurry boy---we got to get out of here!"
Both Homer and Henry start running towards the old wagon, Jimmie Lee has seen the sheriff's car and she has reached over to start the wagon. The two jump in and the wagon speeds off.
Walker is watching from the window of the cafe and he's witnessed the hasty retreat of the station wagon and the sheriff's pursuit. Alex is walking back to their table as she has seen the young boy and older man running to the station wagon. She looks to her husband.
"What was that all about?"
Walker sighs, "Don't know hon, I guess the people in the station wagon couldn't pay for their gas and the sheriff was called out."
"That poor boy," Alex mumbles.
"What about him, hon? If he broke the law, the sheriff will catch him."
Alex shakes her head, "That's the same boy that I was telling you about earlier that couldn't pay for his colas. The boy was begging the old man to let him work it out, that's when I gave him the money. He seemed like a very decent boy----not the type to steal gasoline!"
– Chapter 5
The Ranger sighs as he looks back to his wife, "Whatever the problem is, the sheriff can handle it--we got to get started---are you ready?
waiting on the waitress to bring me some cranberry juice, sometimes that helps
me to urinate."
"Ok, I'm going to get the Ram gassed up and load "Amigo" up- see you over there."
The waitress is still trying to find the juice for Alex, "We don't get much call for cranberry juice---I'll look again in the back."
Alex leans back in her chair and watches as Walker checks to make sure the trailer hitch is still secure, then he goes to get "Amigo" and starts loading him up, he then starts pumping the gas. The attendant is still ranting and raving at the station wagon and their leaving without paying for the rest of their gas. Alex's cell phone rings.
"Pumpkin---this is your Dad----I was so afraid that I couldn't reach you ----honey, where are you and Walker?"
"We're in a little town, called Sounds---what's wrong? Are the twins ok?"
"The boys are fine----Alexandra---I just got a call from the operator, she says that she received a call from a young boy---concerning Angela!"
Alex gasps, "Angela? Oh my God---what did he say---is she alive--oh God---please say that she's alive-----"
"Pumpkin, listen to me---all the boy said was that he had news about her. I didn't get to talk to the boy, he didn't have the 'reward number' so the operator wouldn't give him the unlisted one. Pumpkin, what did you say the name of that town is where you and Walker are?"
Alex can hardly speak, "Sounds----why?"
Gordon Cahill has to take a deep breath, he's in tears---"Daughter, that's where this call came from---Sounds, Texas!"
Alex screams and the whole cafe is startled, she gets up and starts running to the door----"WALKER----Walker!!"
Walker sees his wife running across the street, he stops the pump and starts running to her.
Alex is shouting for her Dad to stay on the line and then she grabs her husband, "Walker, my Dad just got a response from the reward---a phone call was made to him---just moments ago--from right here!"
Walker stares back at her, "Reward? What are you talking about?"
Alex is crying harder, "Honey, I told you last night about my Dad posting a reward, but you were so tired---didn't you hear me?"
"Ok, ok---take it easy hon---you said the call was made from here---did your Dad get a name?"
Alex is shaking her head and trying to talk at the same time, "No----Walker--we have to find out who made that call!"
Walker is looking all around him, he spots a payphone and runs to it, "What number did the call come from"?
Alex repeats the question to Gordon---"The operator said the phone did not have a number on it."
Walker lets out a string of curse words, "There can't be that many damn phones here that don't have numbers---and it had to be a pay phone---"
"Honey---hold on--the operator says the number is 555-1603---she's ringing it now."
The phone rings immediately and Walker is running back to the station attendant--"Did someone just use that phone in the last 5 minutes?"
"Yeah," the man shouts back--"that kid! The same one that sped out of here without paying for his gas---I knew they were up to no good---that's why I called the sheriff."
Walker is shouting for Alex to get into the Ram, he runs around to the trailer and pulls "Amigo" back out, then he undoes the trailer hitch. He shoves the horses' reins into the hands of the confused attendant.
"Take care of my horse!"
The man shouts back, "I ain't babysitting no damn horse!"
Walker glares back at him, "I'm a Texas Ranger and I could have you arrested for refusing to help a law officer---Am I making myself clear?"
The Ram speeds off in the same direction the station wagon went, as the attendant starts swearing.
"Dat blame it---he didn't pay me for his gas either! And, now I'm standing here---being made to 'horse sit'---what else is going to happen?"
The attendant wrinkles his nose and turns around slowly, just as "Amigo" decides to relieve himself and one big pile of horse manure lands on the man's shoe.
Ram is speeding down highway 171, they see several side roads and Walker slams
on his brakes.
"Do you see anything, did you see where they went?"
"No," Alex shouts back, "it's like they've disappeared!!!---Honey---back up---and take one of those other cut offs."
Again they see no sign of the old station wagon or the sheriff's car. Alex gets out and starts walking around in circles and cursing to herself, "Where could they have disappeared to so quickly?"
Walker is on his radio, calling the highway patrol and the chopper service. He runs up beside Alex, "Trivette has already called up the chopper service, we should be hearing them anytime now"!
"Walker----this is a good sign---isn't it? This does mean that our daughter is alive---doesn't it?"
He puts his arms around her, "I hope so, hon---I pray it is! There's one thing I'm not clear on--why was the sheriff called out so quickly? The attendant said that the people in the wagon owed $1.09---that's hardly enough reason to call the law out on them."
Alex's lips start to quiver, "Honey---you did not see how upset that man got because the boy couldn't pay for his colas---I can understand him calling the law---that man is a cheap---son--of---a b------"
Walker makes a gesturing noise as he looks up to the sky, "Sssh, Alex---the choppers are here---they'll be landing in town----let's get back there!"
Henry and his family are watching silently as they watch for the sheriff's car to approach from the main road. They took the first exit they came to, knowing that the road would take them to Heron Lake. Henry and some friends used to take this exit when they went fishing, he hoped that the sheriff wasn't aware of it.
"Pa, we can scoot back further under the cover of those mesquite trees--maybe another 200 feet."
Henry nods his head, "You're going to have to get out of the car and guide me back, Homer! Don't let me drive past those two old logs that are downed---there are some sinkholes back there! Some of them are big enough to swallow a auto."
Homer jumps out of the car and helps to guide the old station wagon back as far it is safe to go. He then runs up to the wagon.
"Pa--what about that old shack back there---can we hole up there till the sheriff stops looking for us?"
"I don't think we should leave the wagon, Henry---as soon as Clyde passes us by--we need to head in the opposite direction."
"You're right, Jimmie Lee!---Homer, get back in the wagon---we're going to get out of here as fast as we can once Clyde gets past us."
Angela is crying harder as Jimmie Lee tries to console her. "Ssssshhhh---Angela---please be quiet----We're going to get you out of here as soon as possible. Homer, did you make the call to her parents?"
Homer explains what the operator told him, he tries again to get Angela to drink her strawberry cola. "Ma---she's feeling even warmer---and she's having a hard time breathing."
"Most of it is dehydration, her body is all dry inside---even her little tears are drying up. I sure hope she's not on any kind of medication---and what if something bit her when she was in all that water?"
"Don't go looking for more things to worry about, Jimmie Lee---I can't think straight as it is."
Carolyn is trying to soothe Angela, Angela looks back at the young girl and sees her as another small figure, she stops crying and looks to Homer.
"I want my Mommy---will you----call my Mommy and---she will come get me?"
Homer's eyes mist up, "I tried calling your Mommy, Angela---I don't know the number."
Again Angela starts to cry, "My-------- Daddy?"
Homer shakes his head, and Angela cries harder.
"There's only one thing to do---I'm walking back to Sounds---and I will try again to call her parents."
"No son---it's too dangerous!"
"We got no choice, Pa---Angela is getting sicker--and it's like Ma said---she might have gotten bit by something---I'm walking back! If you get the chance to get past the sheriff---then take it! Stay on the side roads, but head due North---to Jacksboro---Springtown is on this side of it---ok, Pa?"
Jimmie Lee grabs her son's arm, "Do you have any money left?"
Homer shakes his head, "No--I didn't have time to get the fifty cents out of the phone--but that don't matter---I'll make the call if I have to break into someone's home---or that damn gas station!"
"You stay away from that gas attendant---he didn't much like us---I think he called the sheriff on us."
Homer looks back to Angela and smiles and again urges her to drink the cola, but she refuses. He takes his cola and drinks it down, "Well, that's one thing we got in common, I didn't much like him either!! It's about 10 miles back--I got to go now before it gets any hotter."
Carolyn is signing to her brother not to go, he takes her little hands and kisses them, then he signs back to her.
"I will be--ok---you stay with mama and papa---take care of Angela---be good."
The boy is out of the wagon and running up the side trails to the main highway.
The town of Sounds is being seized by a swarm of helicopters, highway patrol, and unmarked Ranger cars. The population of some 2,000 people is pouring into the street to watch the descending iron birds. Many have never seen a helicopter, except in pictures.
Walker and Alex are back at the gas station, the attendant is not too happy with the gift that "Amigo" has dumped at his feet.
"I told you everything I know, which isn't much," the man groans as he continues to clean the manure from his shoe. "I knew that family was up to no good."
"Please," begs Alex, "is there anything you heard them say---about where they were going---did you hear any names mentioned. Did---you see a little girl with them---she would be two years old, blonde hair----wearing jeans?"
"NO! I didn't see any little kid----wait a minute---yes I did."
Alex grabs Walker's arm, her nails are digging deep as she looks back to the man, she's holding her breath as Walker takes out the picture of Angela and shows it to the attendant.
"Is---this her? Is this the little girl you saw?"
The man throws his shoe down and looks disgustingly back at "Amigo"---he then glances at the picture. He shakes his head, "I can't be sure, the woman had a blanket around the kid, I can't even be sure it was a little girl. I just thought it was strange that the woman had a blanket around the kid---in this heat? Wait a minute---maybe it was a little girl after all, I saw what looked like a doll in the kids' hand---something red."
Walker is reaching for miss Dolly inside his shirt as Alex starts to cry.
"LIKE THIS? Is this what you saw?"
The man is scratching his chin, he mumbles. "Yeah----I think so. Am I in some kind of trouble, was that little kid kidnapped or something? I swear--I don't know nothing about it."
Walker is reaching for Alex and urging her to sit down, Trivette is running towards them. He looks quickly at his friends and then the smell of horse manure hits his nostrils, he gags.
"What did I step in? These are brand new boots!"
"Trivette---have they seen anything? We're looking for an old station wagon---tan---the kind with the wooden panels---early '80's. We believe they have Angela."
"Nothing has been reported yet, partner. I got patrol cars all up and down 171---Are you sure--do you really think Angela is with them?" the black Ranger asks slowly, his voice breaking.
Walker is trying to console Alex, she's starting to shake. Walker nods his head, "We think so, Trivette, the attendant here says that a small child was with them, covered by a blanket----the child had what he believes to be---the rest of miss Dolly."
Trivette looks to the attendant and to the goop he's cleaning off his shoes, he looks back to "Amigo" and smiles, remembering the time at Walker's ranch when the horse did the same thing to him.
He snickers, "Sure am glad it was you and not me, buddy."
The attendant glares back at Walker and points towards his horse, "Would you mind getting that flea bag out of here and off my property now? I got customers coming in."
Walker walks over to "Amigo" and gently pulls him away from the station. He walks him back over to the lot so he can feed. He then goes to hook up the trailer again.
"Alex, I want you to go home-----"
The woman is literally shaking, "I am not going home, Walker---our daughter is alive----I will not go home---without her!"
"Hon, you are about ready to collapse, please let one of the officers take you home."
Now Alex is getting angry, "I am not going home, Cordell Walker---and you can't make me!!! How could you think I would turn around and go home, knowing----our----daughter ----is out there. She's alive, Walker-----she's crying for me--for us. What if she's hurt? Oh my God, maybe that's why they had her covered with that blanket----"
Alex falls into her husband's arms, he's trying to find the words to say when one of the Rangers approach them.
"Ranger Walker, we've been trying to raise that sheriff----a Clyde Coble----from over in Silence---he's not answering."
"Maybe he's not able to respond," Trivette replies slowly, looking to Alex.
Walker shakes his head, "Something just isn't making any sense here, concerning that sheriff. Ok, the boy calls our home because of the reward money-----"
"Wait a minute, Walk-man---the boy didn't mention the reward money---in that way. According to Gordon, all that was said that the boy had information on Angela and he was trying to call your home but because your number is unlisted---the operator wouldn't put his call through. She asked for a phone number for you to return the call and the boy was attempting to give her his name and from where he was calling---when the sheriff came on the scene."
Alex is sobbing as she turns to her husband, "I told you, honey---that boy did not seem the evil type. But, why would he fear the sheriff--why would he and his family run like that?"
"I don't know hon. Trivette, find out all you can about this sheriff, I want to know everything about him," Walker hesitates and then he asks slowly, "What did you say the name of the town was where he was from?"
Trivette looks back at his partner in confusion, "Silence,---why?"
Walker takes a deep breath and repeats the name to himself, "Silence?-----Silence----Silent Sounds?"
The Ranger then grabs Alex' arm , "Trivette---we're heading for Silence, I've got questions to ask and by God--someone there better have the answers."
Homer has gone almost half the distance back to Sounds, he stops and sits down on a old log. He looks up at the sky and shakes his head, "Damn it, it's not even 10'clock yet and the temperature is already in the 90's."
He hears a small twig break, he turns around to see the sheriff's fist going to the side of his head. "Yeah---you little snot nose--and it's going to get hotter!!! Now, where is that family of yours, where is that little girl and my money?"
Homer is shaking his head back and forth as he hears another voice, "Careful, Clyde---you don't want to kill him, or he'll never be able to tell us anything."
The sheriff glares back at his friend, "Don't tell me what to do, I'm through being Mr. Nice guy---he'll tell me what I want to know if I have to beat it out of him---come here kid."
The sheriff grabs Homer up and shoves him into a tree trunk, "I ain't asking again, kid! Where are they?"
"I ain't telling you anything!" Sputters Homer.
The sound of choppers is being heard overhead as both the sheriff and his friend look to the sky. The sheriff swears, "You made a call to that little girls' parents, didn't you? That's why the cops are swarming all around, didn't you?"
Homer nods his head, "Yeah, I did, and they're on to you--they know all about you, so it won't matter what you do to me--they'll catch you."
The sheriff lets out a string of curse words as he turns to his friend, "Sam---we know that his parents had to have taken one of the exits leading out of Sounds---if I remember right---there's an old fishing shed several miles back yonder ways. It's the only other place we haven't checked."
"Clyde, how are we going to check on it? The cops are everywhere up and down 171---and those choppers are circling this whole area?"
"I have a badge, remember? I can pretend to be helping them."
"What if the kid is telling the truth and this Ranger and his officers know all about you, we would be walking into a trap."
The little man starts to pace, "Ok, ok---give me a minute---I got to think. Ok---this is the way it's going down, me, and the kid here, are going to have a friendly little game of 'losing digits'. You know what digits are, huh, kid?"
Homer's eyes grow wide with fear, as the sheriff grabs his hand, and extends one finger.
"Clyde, are you crazy? You're going to cut his finger off---the cops will hear his screams!"
"Would you shut up and muffle him, we don't have all day! Now, what's it going to be kid? Tell me where the little girl is---or you are going to start losing one finger at a time!"
Homer starts to scream and Sam grabs him, putting his hand over his mouth. "Come on, Homer, tell him what he wants to know--he's serious!"
"You're damn right I'm serious! A whole $10,000 dollars worth serious." Clyde reaches for his pocketknife.
Homer is kicking and trying to get out of Sam's grasp, Clyde puts the knife up to his index finger and starts to draw blood. Homer bites down on the Sam's hand, screaming.
"I ain't telling you nothing, you son of a bitch---HELP!!!! HELP!"
Another fist goes into Homer's face, knocking him backwards and into a tree, the boy falls to the ground. Sam walks over to him and gently nudges him with his boot, then looks back to the sheriff.
"I think he's dead---he's not moving!"
Clyde wipes the blood from his knife and motions for the man to follow him. "Forget him, we'll just backtrack his footprints---we'll find that stinking family of his---and when I do---I'll kill them!"
The town of Silence is living up to it's name, they refuse to tell Walker and Alex anything concerning the sheriff.
"They're scared to death of him, Walker. Now what do we do?"
Walker starts to reply when he sees a young boy motioning to him from the shadows of the feed store. Walker and Alex walk over to him. The boy is about 12, lots of blonde curly hair and freckles.
"I ain't afraid to tell you about the sheriff, he don't scare me a bit."
Alex reaches out to him, "Please---do you know anything about the little girl that was missing? We were told they might have lived here in Silence."
The boy nods his head, "Yeah, I know about her! Me and Homer fished her out of the river!"
Alex gasps and Walker shows the boy his badge. "You and another boy got her out of the river----is she hurt?"
The boy shakes his head and looks to Walker, "Are you a real Texas Ranger?"
"Yes son, I am---and that little girl that you and your friend saved from the river, is our daughter. Please tell us all you can, is she ok, and why wasn't she taken to a hospital?"
"Because the sheriff wouldn't let anyone call the hospital---because he wanted the reward money."
"Oh my God," Alex begins to sob. She turns to Walker, she can see the veins beginning to pop out on his forehead, and his face is becoming rigid. She turns back to the boy.
"Please---please tell us that our little girl was not hurt, how long had she been in the water? Could she talk, was she crying---for----me?"
The boy clears his throat, "I'm sorry ma'am, I don't know how long she was in the water, she was caught up on a log---I swam out to her and held her above the water---then Homer swam out to help us."
"Homer? Is this the other boy that helped you?"
"Yes ma'am, and I can tell you right now, ma'am---Homer---nor any of his family would hurt that little girl---I mean your daughter. He helped me to hold your little girl up on the log while Carolyn got help."
"Carolyn? Who is she?"
"That's Homer's little sister and when he told me she was getting help I remember thinking we're all goners---because Carolyn is not right in the head, you know? She's a 'retard'-----I don't mean to say that--Homer hates it when I call her that. I mean she's got some kind of syndrome-------"
Walker's brow arches, "Do you mean Down Syndrome?"
"Yeah, I think that's what Homer calls it, anyways I just knew that she wouldn't be able to get help, you know---because no one would be able to understand her---she can't talk."
Walker looks quickly to his wife, Alex shakes her head in disbelief----"Walker----what your Mother said about 'silent sounds------"
The boy is staring back at the couple, "Look, we did the best we could, and Carolyn did get help---it took her awhile to get someone to understand her---but the important thing is ---she did it----right?"
Walker motions for the boy to sit down, "Yes---that's the most important thing---she used sign language, didn't she?"
The boy scratches his head, and then he cautiously answers. "If I tell you something, this won't cause Carolyn to be taken away from the Whittaker’s, will it?"
Alex sits down beside the young man, "The Whittaker’s, is that their name?"
"Yes ma'am---they're good people, they would never hurt your little girl, especially Homer---he likes kids----he's crazy about that little sister of his. But, she doesn't get to go to any kind of school because the Whittaker’s can't take her back and forth because their old station wagon doesn't run half the time. Anyways---Homer taught her the 'signing stuff' the best he knew how. Homer said he didn't know the proper way to sign, so he taught her the best he could--- his own sign language."
"What's your name, son?"
The boy stammers, "Billy---Billy Brantly---me and Homer have known each other since third grade. No matter what you might hear, Homer nor neither of his parents would hurt your little girl --- Angela, was it?"
Alex is crying and smiling, "Yes---that's her name, was she able to talk?"
"Not at first, Mr. Whittaker and some of the men that rescued us from the river took her back to his place and gave her blankets--and Mrs. Whittaker got her out of the wet clothes. Another neighbor went for some milk, 'cause the Whittaker’s didn't have any---they don't have much in the way of food."
"What happened next, Billy? How did the sheriff get involved?"
"Mr. Whittaker asked someone to call an ambulance, but they said the sheriff would take care of it----a few minutes later he was at the Whittaker place and telling everyone to leave. We all left--but I snuck back to listen at the window. That's when I heard the sheriff say "no hospital"---that he was going to get the reward money."
Walker stands up and starts pacing, his fist folding and unfolding as he kicks out at a old chair, it falls apart, then he hits the wall of the old feed store. The boy jumps, but Alex re- assures him that he's not the one her husband is angry at.
"How did the Whittaker’s become involved?" Walker asks angrily.
Billy keeps staring at the bearded Ranger, "They wanted no part of it---they kept begging the sheriff to at least get her to a Doctor---he refused--then he said he was coming back the next morning to take Angela to Waco to leave at his sister's----and he was going to ask for even more reward money!!! Sheriff Coble threatened to take their home away from them if they didn't help him. After the sheriff left, Homer and his family decided to leave and to take your little girl home. Homer was going to call you---but they have no phone, so they drove over to Sounds instead of risking the call coming from here."
Alex nods her head slowly, "They didn't have much money, did they?"
"No ma'am---I heard Mr. Whittaker say they would drive as far as the little bit of money would take them--and Homer said he was going to call you through the operator."
Walker takes a deep breath and walks towards the boy and Billy recoils. Walker puts his hands up.
"I'm not going to hurt you son, I want to thank you for all that you have told us-----to help me and my wife understand some of what is going on.---Do you have any idea where the Whittaker’s were heading?"
– Chapter 6
As Alex questions the boy, Walker is on the phone sending out more information on the sheriff.
"I don't remember Homer saying too much about any other family---he never got more than 50 miles out of Silence, except for the time we won free tickets to 6 Flags. Boy, that was fun---I've never seen Homer enjoy himself so much as that day!! We took this ride on a log ride, I think homer called it a 'flume'----anyways---he said that was the way the miners got the diamonds out of the mountains---over in Arkansas---he said his Pa used to talk about a place called Boone County."
"Boone County? Do you think they could be heading there?"
"Maybe---but ma'am---they didn't have much money as I told you----they couldn't get that far."
Walker hangs up from talking to Trivette, "The boy is right, even if the station wagon had a full tank, that model wouldn't be getting much mileage for the shape it's in----and the amount of time that it left the gas station in Sounds. Both Trivette and I say to concentrate on a 50 mile radius---we got officers going down all the side roads." Walker grits his teeth---"We'll cover every inch of those roads----we'll find the family. And, when I find that sheriff---he and I will have some business to discuss."
Billy looks to Alex, "Homer and his family won't be getting into any trouble, will they? They're just scared and trying to do the right thing."
Alex reaches out and embraces Billy, he smiles back at her embarrassed. He watches as the man and woman hurry to the gray Ram, he touches his cheek and takes a deep breath, whispering to himself, "Wow----she sure smelled pretty."
The Whittaker’s are staring back at their watches. Jimmie Lee sighs.
we should think about going---it's been almost an hour since Homer left---he
should be back to Sounds by now---and little Angela is getting warmer. ---This
darn heat is not helping--the longer we wait, the hotter it will get."
Carolyn starts pulling on her Mother's arm and gesturing that she has to go 'wee wee'. The woman nods and tries to hand Angela to her husband, but Angela refuses to go to him and starts crying.
"I'll take Carolyn over there in those bushes so she can relieve herself, you best take care of Angela, I don't think she likes me too much."
"She's just scared and very confused. Do you think I could run the AC for just a moment----to get her cooled down?"
Henry starts motioning for Carolyn to get out of the back seat, he reaches for some old napkins, turning back to his wife he says, "Only for just a minute, Jimmie Lee----Homer says the AC drains the battery real quick, especially just sitting."
As Henry gets out of the wagon, Jimmie Lee and Angela move over under the steering wheel and Jimmie Lee starts the wagon up. She brushes Angela's hair back out of her eyes and turns the vents on her. Angela continues to cry for her parents.
The ride back to Sounds is quick as Alex continues to fight her fears. Walker keeps reaching for her hand and squeezing it, she tries to smile back at him.
"Walker----I am so scared---Billy said that Angela wasn't well---what if-----what if-----'
"Honey, stop it! Our daughter is fine---you'll see---we'll find her, hon---I promise."
"She's so tiny---Walker---she is just a little baby-----I can't stop thinking about her being in that muddy water----with all kinds of snakes----and other things---oh my God---what if she was bitten?"
"Alex, you're imagining all kinds of things----think positive---Angela is alive---we've got that much to be thankful for." Walker's voice starts to break. "And, when I find that sheriff---I'll break him into for refusing her medical help!"
Alex scoots over closer to her husband and puts both of her arms around his neck, "You said to think positive, honey---ok--- I am----do you remember the first night that we had her home from the hospital?"
Walker swallows and forces a smile, "Yeah, I remember---neither of us could sleep---we kept going back and forth into the nursery to check on her---we then moved her crib into our room."
Alex giggles as she buries her head into her husband's shoulder, "That wasn't good enough either---by morning she was sleeping in the bed with us---we laid awake all night---just looking at her-----and the little miracle that we made."
Walker smiles, "Yep---the beautiful little creation of the Cahill/Walker genes. We do make beautiful babies, hon---and we have two sons at home that are equally beautiful."
"Yes. I miss them so much and I know I should be with them, but Angela needs me too---I just want my family back to normal again---I want to be able to hold all of my babies."
Henry is patiently waiting for Carolyn to finish her 'business', as he has his back to her, he asks, "You ok back there, Carolyn?" He turns real quick to look at her, she returns his look and grins.
Henry turns around again and whispers to himself, "Why couldn't you have been born normal---like that little Angela? Damn it---listen to me--- questioning the Lord's plans again!! Why do I do this? Your ma says you were sent to us for a special reason---that God has plans for you."
"What you doing, Henry---talking to yourself?"
Henry turns quickly to see the sheriff and Sam Miller staring back at him. They both start laughing as Sam looks over at Carolyn who is still squatting on the ground; she looks back at him in fright.
Henry starts stammering, "Clyde---I can explain----"
The little man hits Henry up beside the head with his gun butt. "The only explaining you gotta do is tell me where the little girl is."
"I hear a engine running back over there in those trees----I'll check it out."
"Yeah you do that, Sam! Me and Henry got some unfinished business! Hear that, Henry---why did you think that I wouldn't find you---don't you know by now that I always win?"
Henry is trying to stand up as he looks around for Carolyn and motions for her to come to him. The little girl stands up quickly and runs to him, the sheriff stops her and holds her at arms' length. He then puts the gun to her head and Henry starts screaming.
"NO----No---don't hurt her---I'm sorry---I'll do anything---just don't hurt her."
"Hey Clyde---I found them!"
The sheriff shoves Henry into the direction that Sam is yelling, Carolyn is holding onto her Pa's arm.
They see Sam pointing at the wagon, the windows up and the AC running, Jimmie Lee does not hear them approaching. Clyde snickers, "Like pigs in a poke, huh Sam? Get that little girl out of there."
As Sam yanks open the driver’s door, Henry runs to the other side and yells at Sam not to hurt his wife or Angela. Carolyn breaks away and runs at the sheriff again, kicking him in the knee. The man screams out in pain and backhands the little girl, and she falls to the ground crying.
Jimmie Lee is screaming and holding onto the steering wheel with one hand and trying to protect Angela with the other. She screams back at Sam.
"Don't you dare hurt my daughter---Henry----help her!"
Henry is running back to help his daughter, but the sheriff waves the gun at him and forces him back to the station wagon---"Get that kid out of there---now!"
Henry is reaching for Angela, the girl is screaming and scrambling to get back into Jimmie Lee's arms, and Sam is reaching for her from the drivers' side. Jimmie Lee accidentally knocks the gearshift out of park, and the station wagon jumps backwards---over the fallen logs that were the safety margin from the sinkhole. The station wagon is heading backwards into the huge hole.
Henry is trying desperately to climb back into the wagon and screaming at his wife to hit the brakes. Sam is holding her left arm and Jimmie Lee is unable to throw the gear into park as she desperately tries to hit the brake pedal with her foot. She's screaming for her husband to help her as he makes a dive inside the wagon, reaching for the gearshift---it's too late---the station wagon topples over into the sinkhole backwards, the engine still running.
The screams of The Whittaker’s and Angela pierce the air as the sheriff and Sam stare back in horror. They inch over slowly to the huge hole that has swallowed most of the station wagon, the ground giving way as the wagon sinks more. The exhaust pipe is halfway covered by dirt and limestone; the fumes are filling up the hole.
"Oh my God, Clyde---that's carbon monoxide coming out of the exhaust---it's poison---I'm getting out of here!"
Sam starts running and the sheriff follows pursuit. Carolyn inches over to the big hole, looking down, her eyes are wide with fright. She looks around and starts signing for her parents, she hits her chest repeatedly and then starts crying and making a grunting sound.
Trivette and the other searchers have heard the screams.
"Back there!" A searcher starts running and waving for the others to follow. The men all start running, Trivette is screaming into his radio to get more help, and medical transportation. He then starts screaming for Walker.
"What is it, Trivette---we're about 3 miles from Sounds---have you found something?"
"We're onto something, partner---we heard screams-------oh my Lord------"
"What? Trivette talk to me---what is it---have you found Angela?"
Trivette and the searchers all stop and stare at the sight before them, only a third of the station wagon can be seen, Trivette starts to gag as the gas is reaching him.
"Walker---hurry and get here, man---we found the wagon-----it's in a sinkhole---''
Both Alex and Walker stare at each other, Alex is screaming, "Is Angela in there?"
"We don't know----we can't tell-----wait a minute---one of the searchers says he hears a voice."
The Ram is speeding faster as Alex is holding onto anything she can and screaming for Walker to go even faster.
Voices of caution are being screamed out, "Stay away from the hole---it's getting bigger!"
"The station wagon is sinking more!"
"Get some tow trucks out here, we need more help---we need ropes and cables!"
"If that engine isn't turned off quick--whoever is down there will be gassed!"
The air is filled with the sounds of emergency vehicles as some of them are attempting to drive down the narrow road, and stalling. Walker's Ram is shifted into 4-wheel drive as he swerves around them and plows through the brush and low hanging limbs. Walker sees an officer yelling at him to stop, Walker slams on his brakes.
"You can't get any closer, Ranger---the hole is getting bigger!"
Both Alex and Walker are now running towards Trivette, the black Ranger is screaming out orders as another officer is carrying a little red-haired girl. The girl is screaming and trying to get out of his arms. Alex is running to them.
"I'll take her." Alex grabs the little girl and starts signing to her. Carolyn looks back to Alex in confusion. Walker is running back to them.
"Can you talk to her, Alex--can she understand you?"
Alex is crying as she again tries to talk to the little girl in the signing that she and Walker had taken classes for. "She's not responding, Walker!"
Walker kneels down and starts signing to Carolyn, the girl stares back at him and then towards the big hole. She begins to make a sweeping gesture with her hands, and then to her heart.
"Yes, yes sweetheart---it's a big hole!" Walker signs back to her--"Is your mama and daddy in---the station wagon? Is there-----a little girl---in the wagon too?"
Carolyn grunts and again tries to run back to the wagon, Walker pulls her back and when he does the remains of miss Dolly falls from inside his shirt. Carolyn looks at the remains of the doll and picks it up, she starts smiling and holding the doll closer to her---and pointing to the hole again. She points to the doll and again makes a sweeping gesture with her hands, and then she makes her arms go up and down--like flying.
"Walker---she's making a flying gesture---show her Angela's picture---hurry!"
Walker hurriedly reaches for Angela's picture, Carolyn grabs it---the gesturing is increased and Carolyn keeps grunting and hitting Angela's picture. Alex is smiling and nodding her head.
"Yes," she replies softly, "Angels----and angels have wings--yes---they can fly."
Walker is nodding and then he makes a "mama and daddy gesture back to Carolyn's heart---the girl starts to cry.
Walker stands up slowly and looks back at the huge hole, a feeling of uselessness sweeps over him as he imagines his little girl in that hole. Anger overcomes him as he screams back to the searchers--"They're in there! There are 3 people in that-----hellhole!"
Trivette's face goes pale as he walks up beside his partner, "We'll get them out, Walker-----we got all kinds of medical supplies being rushed to us now."
Walker is pacing and cursing, "We got to get that engine turned off---before they're all over come with the gas fumes---get me a rope---I'm going down."
Ropes are being thrown over the limbs of trees that hang over the huge hole. The searchers are slipping and sliding as they try to hold onto the ropes and still keep their balance. The sides of the hole are giving away as it continues to grow like a hungry animal.
Trivette is screaming more orders, "We need a generator hooked up and hoses to suck that gas out of there---does anyone know where they can get them?"
A voice speaks up meekly, "I got generators back at my station, Ranger---how many do you need?"
Trivette stares back at the gas station attendant, he slaps him on the shoulder--"As many as you got----man---get them here---NOW!"
The man nods to another man in a pickup truck, the truck speeds off in the direction of Sounds.
"They're on their way, Ranger---Gary will have them here in minutes!"
Trivette looks to Walker as the bearded man is hastily putting the ropes around his shoulders and waist and testing the weight of the branches overhead. He looks back to the attendant and whispers.
"I hope we have the time---please God---give us the time to get to those people---and----and ---my little goddaughter."
The attendant stares back at the Ranger's race, he nods his head----"Amen to that, Ranger."
Walker is hollering for someone to give him bandanas to put over his face. He screams at a young officer.
"Get oxygen masks from the medical vehicles-----I’ll try to get them on the victims---hurry man!"
Trivette ties a two-way radio to Walker's shoulders, so his hands will be free to maneuver the ropes.
"Ok, partner----good luck------try to stay directly in the middle---the sides of the hole are starting to give way more---keep me in constant contact--you got that?"
Walker nods his head and the orders to hoist the rope are given, Trivette looks up at the two limbs that the ropes are thrown across; he takes a deep sigh and looks back at Alex. She knows the look on his face is fear as she too takes a deep breath and pulls Carolyn closer to her.
Walker is now being lowered slowly as he fans the air to keep the fumes away from his face. He calls out their names repeatedly.
"Mr. Whittaker, can you hear me----Angela---Angela---baby---it's me, daddy----can you hear me? Mrs. Whittaker? Can anyone hear me?"
After repeated calls a voice is barely audible---"Yes-------I can-----hear----you."
"Mr. Whittaker---this is Cordell Walker, ----------"
"YES!" Walker shouts back as he continues to fan the air, "Is----she ok? Is my daughter---------alive?"
Seconds pass and Walker repeats his question. The voice answers weakly. "Yes-----your daughter is alive----but----she------and my wife----are trapped," the man starts coughing-----"against----the steering wheel------Jimmie Lee!!!!! Can you hear me?"
"Would you----mind----calling ---me Henry---Mr. Walker?"
Walker manages a small smile, "Only----if you call me Walker----deal?"
"Henry---are you hurt?"
"I think---my shoulder might be broken----I must have done it------when I jumped in-----and tried to reach for the gear shift."
"Ok, Henry------tell me your position---can you reach the gear shift now, can you turn off the ignition?"
"I'll try," Henry answers. A scream is heard and Walker starts yelling.
"What's wrong, Henry?"
"I was right----my shoulder is broken! I'm turned sideways, halfway into the back seat----Just bear with me, Ranger-----if you hear me scream again----pay me no mind---''
Walker is whispering "Hurry Henry----there's not much time---or you will be overcome by the fumes and too weak to maneuver."
More screams are heard and Trivette is yelling back to Walker. "Walker----what's going on, are you ok, Walk-man----talk to me!"
"I'm fine, Trivette----Mr. Whittaker---I mean Henry is maneuvering with a broken shoulder---he's trying to turn the ignition off!"
"Walker, we have the generators now and we're trying to get the hoses in to suck the fumes out---hold on partner-----damn it----the hoses aren't long enough!!"
Trivette is shouting more orders, "Just put them over the side as far as they will go---they will get some of the fumes out----be careful---don't get too close!"
"Yes, Henry? I hear you, are you alright?"
"Ranger Walker----every time I move, the auto moves with me---are we sinking more?"
Walker tries to keep his voice steady, "Yes----Henry----but you've got no choice----you have to turn the ignition off---can you reach it yet?"
Henry tries to turn slowly, he sees his wife leaning up against the steering wheel, Angela is pinned underneath her. He takes a deep breath and stretches his right arm as far as it will go, the pain shoots through his body like knives, he screams. He keeps stretching, his fingers are around the steering wheel as he continues to pull himself towards it. Every inch of his body is in pain, but he keeps stretching till his finger tips go around the keys. He makes one final attempt to turn the engine off; the motor goes quiet.
Complete silence is heard and then cheers go up among the searchers and someone shouts.
"He did it!!! He got the engine turned off!"
Walker breathes a sigh of relief, "Henry!!!! You did it---thank you---are you ok? We'll all be able to breathe easier now. Henry----is your wife----and Angela---are they---still unconscious?"
The voice is very weak, "Yes!!! But-----I think------I hear your little girl-----she's trying to wake up."
Walker's heart is skipping wildly as he shouts for Trivette to lower the ropes, Walker is desperately trying to see inside the windows of the station wagon, the fumes are fading.
"Trivette---lower me---more!!! Another 10 feet and I can get inside the station wagon!"
Trivette is shaking his head as the searchers are trying to keep their balance. "Walker---that's as far as the ropes will go---we got cables getting hooked up to some more trees---but Walker----the ground is giving way----and some of those trees are coming up by the roots!"
"What about rocks? Do you have any rocks big enough to attach the cables to?"
Trivette is quickly looking around, "N0!!!----They're not big enough!"
Walker swears, "Do whatever you have to do, Trivette---I need another 10 feet---please---I can see Angela----she's starting to move around!"
Alex has heard her husband's voice, she starts to cry harder, she sobs, "My baby----please help them---please!"
"Carolyn!!! Ma? Pa?"
Alex turns around quickly to see a young boy stumbling up to them, followed by an officer.
"We found the boy a couple of miles down the road, Mrs. Walker---he was half conscious and stumbling around."
The boy is grabbing his sister and she's smiling back at him, pointing to her chest and then to her lips.
"I'm alright-----where---is Ma----where is Pa?"
The little girl points to the big hole, and the boy's face goes white, he starts running towards the hole, but the officers stop him and bring him back to Alex.
She's trying to comfort him, "They're going to be ok----my husband will get them out!" Alex sees the blood dripping from his handkerchief.
"Oh my God, what happened to you, are you hurt?"
The officer turns to Alex and shakes his head, "That's how we found him, half of his finger has been cut off!"
"Get this boy some medical help now---get him to a doctor!"
"NO!!! I ain't going no where till-----my parents---are out of there!!! Where is Angela?"
Alex answers slowly as she pulls the boy and his sister closer to her, "My daughter is in the station wagon---with your parents---my husband has been talking to your Father---they're----all----alive."
The boy looks at the blonde lady, "You're Angela's Mom-----and the lady from the gas station----that gave me money for the colas. I knew you looked familiar."
Alex's whole body is shaking as she looks to the boy, "Are you Homer?"
"Yes ma'am," the boy answers softly and nods to the red haired girl, "and this is my sister, Carolyn."
Alex and the boy stare at other, and she can see that he's about ready to cry---she clears her throat---"Well, you know what, Homer? I could sure use a hug right now---will it be alright if I gave you and your sister a big hug?"
Homer smiles as he nods his head and goes into Alex's embrace, and she gently pulls Carolyn into her embrace too.
"Ranger Trivette---we got some problems over here----another sinkhole is opening up!"
The Ranger groans as he follows the officer, he sees the ground sinking in about a 50 yards from the big one.
"Damn it----this is all we need!---If that hole combines with the other one---there's no way we can get those people out of there---it will swallow up the whole automobile----and them too!"
Other officers have joined them, "What do we do now, Ranger? We got no way to brace those cables over those tree limbs----the branches will not hold!"
Trivette is pacing as he calls down to Walker and relays the message.
"I know you're doing the best you can, Trivette---how much time do we have?"
Trivette's voice is breaking, "I don't know, Walker---I don't know! The other hole is opening rather slow-----the ground seems to be harder surrounding it----and there are stronger trees!"
Walker takes a deep sigh as he relays their predicament to Henry. Henry is again trying to wake his wife.
"She's still unconscious, Ranger-----but Angela is awake----and she's looking around----Angela----can you hear me?"
Walker hears his daughter whimpering, he grits his teeth and yells back to Henry.
"Henry----it's best that your wife is unconscious---less movement! Can you reach my daughter?"
"I'm trying to get to her, Ranger---but every time I move---the wagon starts shifting.---I'm scared----what do I do now?"
Walker's mind is racing at what to do next, he replies slowly, "We have to get you out first, Henry---because you weigh the most. You will have to knock the windows all the way out---but as gently as you can. When you can see my legs---grab them---and my friend will pull us up."
Henry shakes his head, "No----I'll try to reach Angela---and try to get her up to you!"
"No Henry---you have to do as I say----we don't have any time to argue---now start knocking those windows out on this side!"
Henry starts looking around for something to break the windows, he hears Angela crying and he tries to calm her. Walker can hear the man talking to his daughter; his heart is in his throat as words of encouragement are spoken to Angela.
He hears the window breaking, and Henry is yelling back that he's ready. Walker calls to Trivette.
Trivette and the other men brace themselves for the extra weight that will be on the ropes, Trivette looks up at the limbs, and one is starting to crack.
"We're ready, partner----good luck," Trivette answers.
He looks over to Alex and forces a smile, as she bites her lips and nods back to him.
"Henry---my friends are ready to pull us up---can you see my legs, will you be able to reach them?"
Henry is pulling himself slowly towards the broken window, Walker's legs are barely within reach. The man sighs as he looks over the seat to his wife, he hears Angela crying harder.
"I'm ready, Ranger---whenever you say!"
Twister – Chapter 7
"Ok, Henry I will start swinging to you gently---on the count of 3---grab my legs and hold on as tight as you can---ready?"
"Yes----" the man replies quickly. "Please hurry---before I change my mind--I feel---so guilty that I can't help my wife-----and your little girl."
Walker's heart is beating so fast that he feels he will pass out, he replies back to the man. "We'll talk about that later----save your strength---you're going to need it. I'm counting now----1----------2----------3!"
Trivette and the others feel the weight of the rope, as several of the men lose their footing and start sliding towards the hole. Trivette is screaming for someone to help them as more volunteers fall onto the ground and become human chains, reaching out for their fallen comrades. Orders are being shouted to "PULL" and more volunteers are reaching for the ropes.
Trivette is watching the tree limbs as they are both bending from the added weight, he starts whispering, "Hold on---please hold on------just a few more feet-----"
Someone shouts, "We got 'em!"
Walker is pulled over the side of the hole as searchers reach out for him and Mr. Whittaker---another human chain forms to pulls them both out.
Homer breaks away from Alex and starts running towards his Father, "Pa! Pa!"
Alex is running to Walker, he reaches out for her and embraces her. He keeps looking back to the hole, then he stares into his wife's eyes, "I could see her, hon----she was moving---our daughter----she's moving---"
Alex is crying harder, "Is she hurt? What about the gas?"
Walker is shaking his head as he again starts putting new ropes around his chest and around his waist, "I don't think she's hurt----the gas----I guess------Mrs. Whittaker's body is shielding her----kept most of it away from her----I don't know, Alex----I got to get back down there!"
Trivette is running up to him, "Walker---what's the situation, can you reach Angela and the man's wife?"
Walker starts coughing as someone hands him some water--"Mrs. Whittaker is still unconscious---Angela was moving around----I could see her---but---I have to be lowered more! They are on the opposite side of the wagon from where Henry was."
"Ok, ok---Walker-----I got a plan----just hear me out before you refuse."
Both Alex and Walker stare back at the black Ranger.
Trivette points to the other hole, "That other hole---just might be a lifesaver----"
"Jimmy---what are you talking about? If that hole gets as big as this one"--- Alex starts to sob and Walker puts his arms around her again.
"Go ahead, Trivette---I'm listening----what's your plan?"
Trivette looks out at the faces of the many volunteers, men, women and even young people the age of Homer have all come out to help. He clears his throat.
"A human chain helped to get you and Henry out of that hole---maybe----maybe----we could do the same with the other hole---and come in from another direction."
"You mean like they did for that little girl over in Odessa--that fell through that pipe?" Asks Walker.
"Yeah---they dug another tunnel down parallel to the one hole---and then across till it met with the first hole."
"But, Jimmy----- this is a different kind of hole----these are sinkholes----they open up so fast and so wide-----"
"Alex, sweetheart--listen to me----I know this sounds scary----and I can't blame you and Walker for refusing---but---the other hole is not opening as fast---the ground is harder. ---If we could get---enough volunteers to become 'literally a human chain again"----we might be able to reach Mrs. Whittaker and Angela."
Walker walks slowly over to the second hole and looks in, "What about limestone? It doesn't look to be as solid here?"
"It's not, Ranger," a voice answers.
Walker stares back at the man, he extends his hand. "I guess it's time we were formally introduced, I'm Cordell Walker, this is Alex, Angela's Mother----and this is Ranger James Trivette---Angela's godfather."
They all shake hands and Henry nods towards the hole. "That old shack back there used to be an old fishing place for me and my buddies---years ago. Before that---it was an old masonry construction site."
"Yeah, he's right," the gas station attendant speaks up---"but it went out of business because the building code was not up to inspection! The people that had the place---just literally left it---just the way it was---with all kinds of powdered up stone just laying around. Through the years the powder mixed into the soil, and with help of Mother nature's rain---started turning it into cement. The ground hardened in this area---but it didn't stop that other sinkhole from forming."
Alex shakes her head in confusion as she keeps looking back at the bigger sinkhole, "I don't understand what you are saying, -----we're wasting time standing here talking---Angela is down there-----scared-------"
Henry starts rubbing his shoulder, " I understand ma'am-----and you're right---something has got to be done----and soon."
A highway patrol officer walks slowly up to them, "Rangers---I got about 16 men and women with me---and I know we can get more---just tell us what you want us to do?"
Some farmers speak up, "That goes for us too---we're all here to help."
Some women walk up with coffee and sandwiches, "You can count us in."
The gas station attendant and his friends all nod their heads, "Just say the word, Rangers----do you need more equipment? I can bring in some old tractors----"
"No Gus, that won't work" replies one of the farmers, "those tractors are too heavy---and the branches on those trees aren't going to hold up too much longer---they almost broke when we pulled up Henry."
Walker speaks up quickly, "No---no heavy equipment!!! We can't risk the sides of this newer hole opening up---but Trivette----you did hit on a very good idea."
Trivette is staring back at Walker, "A human chain?"
"No, not exactly----but what about a pyramid----to straddle that second hole---and to brace those branches?"
Everyone becomes silent as they look at the bearded Ranger. Alex is shaking her head, "Honey, a pyramid? How? What do you mean?"
Trivette is nodding his head, "I got you covered Walk-man---I know what you're getting at."
As Trivette gathers all the volunteers around, Walker pulls Alex aside. "I know it's a long shot---but hon---it may be the only one we have---to get Angela out of there."
"I don't understand---a pyramid----of people?"
"Yes, we build a pyramid under those trees over there where the ropes are. We can't get any heavy equipment in here to use as braces---so we do the only thing we can to support those branches---until I can have enough time to get Angela and Mrs. Whittaker out of there."
Alex starts to shake and Walker holds her tighter, "I've got to get back down there-----I will try to comfort Angela as much as I can---please Alex----you got to be strong----for all of us."
"I will," she sobs----"Walker---please be careful---I heard some of the men saying that the station wagon has sunk another foot----and the deeper it goes, the softer the ground becomes."
Walker kisses her quickly, "I know hon---I got to go---I love you----try not to worry."
Walker is being lowered back into the hole, Homer and his family gather around Alex. Henry shakes his head as he listens to Trivette instructing the volunteers on how to build the pyramid. Homer looks back to his father.
"I ain't gonna stand here and do nothing to help get Ma and Angela out of there---I'm going to help."
Henry pulls his son back, "No Homer----you stay here---I'm the one that has to help---I got to do something----stay here."
Henry starts running to Trivette and the Ranger instructs him where to kneel on the ground. The volunteers and the law officers will make a base of four people wide by 10 feet, the next base is again 4 people by 8ft. The third tier goes to 3 by 6. The pyramid will reach almost 20 ft with a base left for only 2 people to do the lifting against the branches.
Homer is still mumbling that he has to do something, but Alex pulls him and Carolyn closer. "I am going to get a medic to look at your finger, is it hurting?"
"No, it don't hurt---and I am not going to no hospital--just tell them to give me a shot---and if they have to stitch it up, they can do it right here---'cause I ain't leaving!"
Carolyn is hugging and patting her brother's shoulder, she tries to smile, but she too is feeling the fear.
Alex goes in search of the medic and gets the kids some sandwiches. As she is walking back to them, she sees a patrol car pull up, she sees two men being held in the back seat. She walks over to the officer as he yells at the two men to get out of the patrol car.
"We caught 'em, Mrs. Walker--they were hiding under a log, and crying like babies when we yanked them out of there!"
Alex stares back at the two men, her eyes coming to rest on the skinny little man in a sheriff's uniform. She glares back at him and swears.
"You are a poor excuse of a man---not fit to wear the uniform of a law officer. How could you refuse medical help to a little 2 yr old girl? You better pray that you don't come before me in a court of law---because I will crucify you----do you hear me?"
Sheriff Coble starts stammering and trying to lay the blame on his friend---Alex balls up her fist and lands a perfect right into the little man's jaw. He stumbles backwards and the officer makes no attempt to break his fall. Alex stares back at the man on the ground.
"Don't even think about getting up till I walk away---or so help me---I'll kick you so hard--your grandchildren will have headaches"!!!
She turns to face the other man, he starts scrambling to get back into the patrol car. Alex shifts the sandwiches and drinks back to her right hand and calmly walks back to Homer and his sister.
The boy is staring back at Alex and the medic that is attending him, is staring also. The medic looks down at Alex's swollen hand.
"Want me to look at your hand, ma'am?"
"No" the blonde answers as she hands the sandwiches to Homer and Carolyn---"it's never felt better."
"Wow" whispers Homer, "you sure clobbered him---you got a mean right 'hook'---Mike Tyson---beware!"
Walker has been lowered as low as the ropes will allow him, Trivette is telling him step by step how the pyramid is building.
Walker is straining to see inside the wagon through the broken window, he sees Angela staring back at him, her little eyes filled with tears, her hands reaching for him, still clutching the remains of miss Dolly.
"Angela," he speaks softly, "just be real still my baby---Daddy will get to you---I promise."
Angela starts to cry harder. "Daddy------Daddy"
"I know baby-----I know you're scared----but will you listen to Daddy---please?"
"I want----- Mommy"
"I know sweetheart---Mommy is waiting for you----she misses you too---but you have got----to listen to Daddy----and please don't be scared---ok?"
The little girl nods her head slowly, and Walker takes a deep sigh. "Trivette------how much longer?"
"We're on the 3rd tier, Walker--it's getting a little 'hairy' getting the volunteers up there---but I tell you partner---they are not giving up. These people are hell bent on getting this job done---there hasn't been one complaint."
Walker nods his head and then he tries talking to Mrs. Whittaker, she stirs at the sound of his voice. "Trivette!!! I think Henry's wife is trying to come around----can you get one of those oxygen masks down here----and some water?"
Walker continues talking to the woman, she rises up and falls back against the seat and Angela is no longer pinned underneath her. But the shifting of the woman's body cause the station wagon to sink even lower----Angela screams.
"It's ok, Angela---it's ok!" Walker shouts back at her. “Mrs. Whittaker----can you hear me?"
The woman's voice is weak, "Henry? Is that you?"
"No, Mrs. Whittaker, I'm Angela's Daddy----I'm here to get you both out-----are you injured?"
The woman hesitates, "No-----I don't think so----I'm just feeling light headed----and a little sore----my husband------where is he?"
"Your husband has been rescued, he's working with the other volunteers to get the two of you out----here comes a oxygen mask---I'll drop it down to you-----and some water."
The woman catches the mask and breathes deeply, she tries to put it on Angela, but the girl is too scared to let the mask go on her face. Angela does accept some of the water---then she starts crying again.
"She's so scared -----what do you want me to do?"
"Mrs. Whittaker----my friend will tell me when -----and this is what I need you to do. I want you and Angela to move as slowly and gently as you can towards the passenger side----now! I am not able to get any lower-----when you get to the passenger side----very gently----crawl up on the back of the seat. --------This is very important, Mrs. Whittaker---please listen very closely-------we will only have the one chance--------"
"One chance----for what----"
Walker takes another deep breath as he hears Trivette say they are on the last tier. "Mrs. Whittaker-----the volunteers are making a human brace----to hold up the branches so they-----won't break. When my friend gives the word---I want you to hand Angela up----as high as you can reach---do you understand?"
"Yes," the woman replies, “are you----going to leave me down here?"
"NO! I'm not leaving you down there---but once I have a firm hold on Angela---you have to literally jump—up--into my arms---I will catch you---I promise. There will be a huge jolt---but no matter what you do---hold onto me as tight as you can. Have you got that?"
The woman nods and she and Angela move slowly towards the passenger side, the woman places Angela on the top of the seat, and tells her to be very still. Angela is looking up towards Walker, her little hand reaches out for him again.
Walker can see his daughter very clearly now, it's all he can do to keep from grabbing her and holding her as tightly as he can and never letting go. He forces his voice to remain calm.
"Angela? Baby----I want you to listen real close----and do everything that Daddy says---can you do that, baby?"
Angela is nodding her head slowly.
"That's a good girl, my angel----- remember when we play 'horsy rides' and sometimes when I come home in the evening----you come running to me and jump up in my arms---and Daddy catches you----do you remember?"
Angela nods slowly, "Horsy----we ride horsy?"
"Yes, sweetheart---I always catch you in mid air and-----I-----spin around and make like "Amigo" and you always-----hold on tight around my neck---remember Angela? Always hold tight---and that's what I want you to do now when Daddy gives the word. I will catch you and you hold on real tight around my neck---ok?"
Angela tries to smile, "Ok--- I will-----hold real tight."
"Trivette---we're ready---are you ready yet/"
Trivette is looking down at Homer, "Yep---we're ready, Walker. I got my first volunteer for the top tier--------and a young policewoman is our second volunteer. Give me about 3 minutes---they're on their way up. They will be at the very top to push on the limbs---to brace them!"
"Ok---what about the others, do they understand the danger if that sinkhole starts to give way?"
"Walker, everyone has been briefed---no one is backing down. I would say with Angela's weight and Mrs. Whittaker's that we're looking at a extra 120 pounds."
Walker looks back to Angela and winks, "Yeah---that's about what I figure----I will get Angela first---she will be pressed against me and then hopefully I can hold onto Mrs. Whittaker with both hands. Whatever happens, Trivette---just keep pulling!"
"Walker---listen to me man---don't you dare try to do something stupid ---stay in those ropes---we're going to get all of you out of there. Are you listening to me?"
"Yes---yes---I hear you. Is Alex alright?"
Trivette looks to Alex and nods, "She's just worried sick about you and Angela----Walker, they're at the top-----are we ready to count down?"
Walker goes over the instructions again with Mrs. Whittaker, she has Angela perched up on the seat and ready to help her jump upwards into her Daddy's arms. Angela stands on the top of the seat, her little arms outstretched.
Angela jumps upwards and Walker catches her---he squeezes her tightly---"Put your arms around my neck, Angela---hold tight---don't let go----put your legs around me and squeeze!"
Angela is squeezing her Daddy's neck as tightly as she can, Walker has both of his arms free to catch the woman.
"Ok, Mrs. Whittaker---this is it---jump as high as you can---I will catch you."
The woman is starting to panic, "I can't---I can't do it!"
"Yes, you can---jump---jump now!"
The station wagon is starting to shift and the woman screams, she jumps as high as she can, Walker's left hand misses her--but his right hand grabs the back of her blouse. The material starts to rip, and the woman is falling.
Walker's legs grab the woman's body and another jolt is felt on the ropes. He can feel Angela's arms losing their grip around his neck as she is still trying to hold onto the remains of her doll.
"Hold tighter, Angela-----Mrs. Whittaker---grab my legs---Trivette----PULL----NOW!"
The jolt of the rope being pulled catches young Homer off guard as his bandaged finger cause him to lose his grip on the branches, the young officer screams at him, and then they are both pushing upward on the logs. Trivette is running back from the hole to the pyramid, he's hollering for more volunteers to brace the bottom base. A group of young teens run over and take their places against the others, their arms interlocking with one another.
Alex and young Carolyn are watching from the distance, Alex's heart is in her mouth as she hears her husband screaming to pull them up. More volunteers are running to the ropes as they listen to Trivette's instructions. Carolyn runs to the rope line and tries to take her place among the volunteers, Alex is pulling her safely back and into the arms of another volunteer. Alex then runs to pick up the rope that young Carolyn was attempting to grab.
"TRIVETTE------harder----pull harder! Mrs. Whittaker----close your eyes---stop looking down---look up here at me!"
The woman is sobbing harder and now Angela has started screaming, she drops her doll. Walker makes an attempt to catch it; it falls in between him and Mrs. Whittaker.
Trivette is screaming for the volunteers to pull harder as he runs to the edge of the hole, reaching over to grab some of the rope. He hears the frightened screams of the woman and Angela.
"It's breaking----the branches are starting to break," someone yells out.
Homer and the young woman are straining to get more leverage against the branches, the boy is tiptoeing to push harder. The men under him are straining to keep their balance as they try to steady his legs. The woman turns to him and whispers softly.
"You're doing great, kid----just a few more minutes----can you hold out?"
Homer is grunting, "Yes ma'am----I ain't letting go---no matter what!"
Trivette can see his partner coming into view, as he screams back to the volunteers---"I can see them----another five feet and we can reach them with our hands!"
More volunteers are laying themselves down and inching up to the hole, they reach over and grab Walker's shoulders, pulling as hard as they can. Trivette is reaching for Angela, but she's not letting go of her Daddy's neck.
"Angela---it's me----Uncle Jimmy---come to me--sweetheart----I got you."
Walker is encouraging his daughter to go to Trivette, the little girl is crying harder as the Ranger grabs her and pulls her up and over the side.
"I got her, Walker----she's safe-----hold on buddy----we're getting you and Mrs. Whittaker-----another foot----someone grab the woman!"
A cheer goes up as Walker and Mrs. Whittaker are pulled up and laid on the ground, both totally exhausted. Alex is running to Trivette, screaming for Angela, the little girl is reaching out for her. Alex is holding Angela and they are both crying as Trivette tries to calm them. Alex runs with Angela to her husband that is attempting to get up off the ground.
"Walker-----oh my God----are you alright?"
The Ranger is fighting to catch his breath, "Yes-----Angela-----is she----alright?"
Alex falls down on the ground and the three of them are embracing. Walker reaches for his daughter, kissing her over and over----he's laughing and crying.
"Are you alright---my baby----are you hurt?"
Angela is shaking her head and squeezing Alex's neck, "Me------wanna go home.”
The medics are running over to them and to Mrs. Whittaker, the pyramid is slowly disassembling and Homer and his father are running to Mrs. Whittaker. The volunteer holding onto Carolyn lets her go and the girl starts running to her Mother.
"Alex----get Angela and Mrs. Whittaker to the choppers----hurry."
The medics are helping to get Alex to the waiting choppers that have landed on highway 171 where they will be taken to Lake Worth medical.
Trivette is hugging Walker and slapping him on the back, "That was a close one, man----- and just in time---look!"
The Rangers stand side by side with their arms around each other as they and the volunteers watch the bigger sinkhole collapse, and the station wagon disappears. Everyone remains silent as they reflect on the dangers that had faced them just seconds earlier.
Slowly everyone starts to disperse, Walker is looking around him and then he spots the patrol car with the sheriff and his friend inside. Walker's face becomes rigid, he grits his teeth and starts stumbling towards the patrol car. Trivette is pulling him back.
"Easy partner-----the highway patrol got them---they're not going anywhere!"
Walker pushes his friend out of the way, and starts stumbling faster towards the patrol car, "They're going to hell---after I get through with them!!"
The sheriff and Sam Miller are screaming at the officers to protect them as they see the bearded Ranger coming towards them. The one officer sneers, "We should let him have you---you worthless piece of dog meat!"
The officers are stepping in between Walker and the frightened men, "Come on Ranger-----it's over-----we kept them here and forced them to watch the rescue---but---it's over now----they're in our custody!"
Walker is trying to get the door to the patrol car open as more officers are trying to pull him back, the sheriff is screaming for the law to protect him.
Walker has a hand on the man's uniform and he's attempting to drag him out, Trivette is pulling Walker back.
"Leave them be, Walker----it's over!"
Walker slams his fist into the little man's face as he still continues to drag him out. Encouragements from the volunteers for Walker to kill him are filling the air.
"You son---of---a-bitch-----why didn't you get my little girl to a hospital-----I'm going to kill you-----"
Trivette and more officers are pulling Walker away from the cruiser, Trivette yells at the officers to get the prisoners out of there.
One week later: Walker ranch:
A huge cookout and celebration for Angela are underway, and many of the volunteers and townspeople of Sounds have been invited to attend.
The newspapers and television reporters are all clamoring for an interview with the Walkers.
Alex has agreed to talk first to channel 12 news and to Linda Gray, the reporter. She and Walker have Angela in between them as they stand up beside the long table that has all the microphones. Walker stands Angela in the center of the table as he and Alex keep their arms around her. The flash bulbs are all going, and questions are being shouted to the couple. Walker sighs, as he looks to his wife for her to do the talking.
"My husband, and my family would like to thank everyone for their support, words cannot express what we are feeling right now." Alex stops and clears her throat as she looks lovingly at her daughter who is all decked out in a bright yellow dress with a bow in her hair, the little girl is clutching her Miss Dolly. Mrs. Whittaker saved the doll when it fell in between her and Walker. The woman sewed it together and put a new dress on it.
– Chapter 8
Alex continues to thank all of the volunteers, law officers, and friends for all the help that has been given them.
Homer and his young friend, Billy, are standing nearby, wolfing the food down. Billy looks to his friend and sadly says.
"I'm going to miss you, Homer----when you and your family move to Arkansas----but I know it's best."
"Yeah, I'm going to miss you too---but my folks say you can come and visit anytime."
Billy grabs another hamburger and more potato salad. "Wow--this food is great-----I've never seen so much food!"
"Yeah-----and they got something called lobster tails, have you tasted them yet?"
Billy grimaces, "Yeah---but I didn't like the taste----that old man, Angela's grandpa---he's from back east and he says that you have to develop a taste for lobster."
Homer is devouring his third burger as he nods his head. "Yeah, that old man is nice, the whole family is real nice---and you know that they have insisted my parents get the reward money?"
"Your parents earned it, and so did you! Is it true that the reward money has been doubled?"
"Yep, and you know what the best part is, Billy? Carolyn will get to go to school-----and it won't cost us anything. Mrs. Walker has taken care of everything, she got in touch with some schools down in Little Rock---and everything has been arranged."
Billy smiles as he looks out to the huge doll house and sees Carolyn, Angela, and some other little kids playing with dolls and having their own little celebration.
"That's great, Homer! I know sometimes I was very rude in the things I said about her---but----I just didn't understand about kids like her."
"It's ok. My Ma always said that sometimes when people don't understand about people that are different, that they say hateful things. But Ma always said that Carolyn was 'extra special' and that God had special plans for her. And, that's so true---what if you and I had never seen Angela trapped on that old log? But, Carolyn saw her----and Carolyn is the true hero---not any of us."
"Will Carolyn ever be taught to read and write?"
Homer smiles, "Mrs. Walker says that she doesn't think that Carolyn is as handicapped as we've all thought her to be. She and her husband have been signing to her the proper way and Carolyn is picking up on it---real quick. Carolyn has had several tests run on her, and her hearing is not all that bad neither----I always did say she was hearing what she wanted to hear---the little stinker."
"Everything is coming together for you and your family, and I'm glad. I saw the new auto that black Ranger got for your Pa."
"Well, it's not new---he found it in the police impound----but it's new to us and we shouldn't have any trouble driving to Arkansas. Plus Ranger Walker has put my Pa in touch with some people down there about a job."
The evening is winding down as the news crews and Linda Gray approach the Walkers for a last interview. The reporter smiles at Angela and then looks around at all the people that are standing around.
"Angela----I just want to say that everyone is so happy that you are home---and safe---we were all worried about you."
The little girl smiles and points towards the two cribs that are sitting side by side on the porch, "Know what?"
Ms Gray smiles, "What?"
Angela giggles, "I have---two baby brothers-----and they miss me too."
Everyone is laughing and clapping as Angela reaches for Ms Gray's microphone, she looks at it curiously as Walker tries to take it from her. Ms Gray motions for him to leave her be as she motions for the soundman to turn up the volume.
The little girl's voice replies softly, "Thank you-----for ---looking for me."
The channel 12 reporter looks into the TV cameras and answers, "I think all of our viewers will agree---that Angela Walker has said it all----good night."
Wichita Falls, Texas
Another family is sitting around watching the 10'clock news and has watched the story unfold on little Angela Walker.
The woman smiles and nods her head. 'One of these days I hope to do a story on that family."
The man grumbles, "Yeah----and maybe one of these days I'll get supper on the table, and not hear you pecking away on that damn computer!"
"Cook, wash dishes---cook, wash dishes----that's all I ever do!" The woman swears under her breath. "Maybe one of these days I will find an editor that appreciates me----and I will never cook another meal."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard all of that before---now where is my supper?"
The woman throws a TV dinner into the microwave and goes back to her trusty Gateway; she sits down and starts typing.
"The Never ending Story----of the Walker family" by SASQUAW
THE END March 31st----2004