Under Control

By Sissy (sissy@svs.net)

 Chris (ckline-usa@foreverliving.com)

6/13/99

 

“Walker?”

 

“No, Alex, I want you to go.”

 

“But, Walker…..?

 

“No, buts, Alex, I want you to go.”

 

“Well, if you’re sure?”

 

“I’m very sure. Now are you going?”

 

“Well, I guess so. But I’m not sure I should.”

 

“Alex, this trip will be good for you.  You need to get away for a while; it’s not like you’re going to be gone a week. You’ll be back day after tomorrow. I think I can handle things that long. Have a little faith in your husband. Okay?”

 

“Well, I guess I should get packed if I’m going to make it on time.” She gives him a quick kiss, turns and goes upstairs to pack. She goes to the nursery first, where Chrissy is asleep in the crib. Alex stands and watches her for several minutes then leans over and kisses her softly on the forehead. She then goes into the boys’ bedroom where Jimmy is also asleep on his bed. Alex sits on the side of his bed, and taking his hand in hers, rubs her thumb across the back of it as she watches him sleep then leans over and kisses him on the cheek, lingering with her cheek against his. Alex stands and turns to see John watching her. She takes his hand and pulls him up on her lap as she sits on his bed.

 

“John, can you be a big boy for me and help your daddy with Jimmy and Chrissy while I’m gone?”

 

“Are you going to be gone long, Mommy?”

 

“No, not really, just two days, but I’m sure going to miss all of you.” She hugs him to her tightly, looks up to see Walker watching from the doorway, with a smile for her.

 

“Us guys will take good care of Chrissy, Mom. Okay?”

 

“I know you will, honey, I can always depend on my men, right?”

 

“Right, Mom.” He returns her hug then jumps down and sits down on the floor to finish working on a puzzle that he has spread out. She stands and going up to Walker, he puts his arm around her waist, kisses her softly and wipes away the tear that’s making it’s way down her cheek.

 

He walks her to their bedroom and stands to one side as she packs her clothes. She looks around to see if she has forgotten anything and then closes the suitcase. He turns her around and wraps his arms around her and kisses her deeply. Pulling back slightly, he whispers, “It’s just two days, hon, you’ll be back before you know it. I can manage the kids for two days,…but I’m not sure if I can manage without your kisses for that long. Or without this,” he slides his lips across her cheek to her ear then down her neck, “or this,” his hand cups her breast through her shirt, “or what I’ll do about this,” he pulls her tight against his body so she feels his arousal against her stomach, “while your gone.”

 

“Darling, you keep this up, and I’ll never make it out of this bedroom, let alone all the way to Waco.” She murmurs as he is plying her with his kisses and his touches.

 

He steps back, eyes dark with desire, “Sorry, but you always have this affect on me in the bedroom.” Kisses her softly, turns and picks up her suitcase.

 

“Bedroom?” She looks at him with disbelief.

 

“All right. You have this affect on me every time I look at you.”  Kisses her again before walking out of the bedroom.

 

She follows, “Walker, if you have any problems, you will call me, won’t you? You have the number where I can be reached, right?”

 

“Yes, Alex, I’ve got it, but I won’t need it. What can be so hard about taking care of kids?”

 

“Well, nothing really, if you’re use to it. Which you aren’t. I know! I know! You can do it.” She accedes to his wishes, but is still just a little apprehensive about this arrangement. “But Walker, sometimes they’re a handful for me, and I’m the primary caregiver. Especially John. He’s at that age where he wants to try to do everything. At least you’ll only have John, Jimmy, and Chrissy since Jessie is staying at Jody Williams’ till I get back, but they’ll keep you plenty busy, believe me.”

 

“Alex, if I can handle big bad tough guys, I think I can handle my own kids.” He gives her an exasperated look that says, ‘They’re just kids for crying out loud.’ Seeing the look of concern on her face, he softly adds, “Honey, if I run into any problems I’ll call Josie and Trivette, alright?” He puts her suitcase in the back seat of her car then takes her in his arms, and softly kisses her. “They’ll be all right, really.”

 

She puts her arms around his neck, pulling him close for another kiss, “I know they will, darling, but this will be the first time I’ve been away from them for more than a couple of hours since Chrissy was born. I guess that’s the mother in me, huh?”

 

“Probably, but I wouldn’t want you any other way. Now, promise me, you’ll enjoy yourself. You haven’t seen this friend for two years, and she wants you at her wedding. So relax and have fun. I want you to call me when you get there, though, so I don’t worry about you. And call me just before you start back, okay?”  He pulls her close and just holds her. “You can also call me anytime you want, if it will make you feel better, okay?”

 

“I’ll call when I get there. I know you’ll do just fine but, I’m going to miss all of you so much.” Her eyes tear up and she hides her face in Walker’s neck, holding him tight.

 

“Come on, Alex.” He pulls back slightly, softly brushing her tears away with his thumb, “I know, but you really do need a break. Now get in the car, and please, be careful.” He opens the door, she sits behind the wheel and after he shuts the door, she whispers,  “I love you.” He kisses her deeply and whispers back, “I love you, too.” Then he steps back as she starts the car and pulls away.

 

He stands there, watching, until her car disappears from sight. He gives a large sigh. As he turns back toward the house, he hears a very loud crash from inside.

 

He takes the steps up to the porch in one leap, rushes through the door and pulls up short. He lets out a deep sigh of relief when he sees John sitting in the middle of the foyer, a sheepish look on his face, “Oops!”

 

“John, are you all right?” He bends over and starts feeling the boy’s arms and legs, checking to make sure nothing is broken or sprained.

 

John slowly gets up on his feet, “I’m all right, Dad. I just kinda misjudged the stop a little.”

 

“What in the world were you trying to do, anyway?” He looks around and sees the coat tree broken and a large pillow lying on the floor. He turns and looks at John, and a slow smile crosses his face. “The banister again, huh?”

 

John meekly nods his head, but looks his dad straight in the eye. “Yes, sir.”

 

“How many times does this make, now? Eight or nine?”

 

“Eight. But I almost had it this time, Dad. I really did.” Excitement shines on his face.

 

“Looks like the coat tree didn’t make it, though. What are we going to do about that?”

 

“You can take it out of my allowance. I’m really sorry. I’m not sure how that happened but it’s my fault so I’ll make good on it, okay?”

 

“Okay, John. Maybe you ought to take some down time and contemplate the folly of what you did, maybe an hour?” Walker tousles John’s hair and directs him up the stairs toward his room. “Don’t wake Jimmy and Chrissy, John, they haven’t been asleep very long.”

 

“I’ll be quiet, Dad.” Then he disappears around the corner.

 

‘Alex was right. He’ll try anything. Got to keep a closer eye on that boy.’ But he has a smile on his face and pride in his heart for his son. Knowing it would just about break John’s heart if he told him to stay away from the banister now. He was proud of him for having the courage to keep trying. And he knew that one of these days, John would accomplish what he has set out to do, whatever that is!

 

He heads for the kitchen to figure out what to have for dinner. He checks the refrigerator and decides on hamburgers on the grill, french fries and left over coleslaw. Maybe before bedtime he’ll make up some popcorn for Chrissy and the boys. With the menu for the evening meal taken care of, he sits down at the table with a cup of coffee. He doesn’t get too many days like this with the kids and he’s actually looking forward to it. Thinking of his children and the way his life has turned out always amazes him. Finally marrying the woman of his dreams, then the joy of his first born, Jessie. She’s nine now, red hair with blue eyes. She’s quite the tomboy, very strong willed and has already decided she wants to be a Texas Ranger, just like her Dad. Then there’s John, blond with blue eyes, having just turned six and quite a handful. He always sees everything as a challenge and does his best to enjoy each challenge fully. Jimmy, his mumps baby, was born when Walker was down with the mumps.  Alex says he’s her miniature Walker, red hair and steel gray eyes, and at the age of three he has all the characteristics of his father.  He has a hard time expressing how he feels and a strong sense of right and wrong.  Then there’s Chrissy, a joy to both of them, but very much a surprise. At twenty-one months she already has the other three wrapped around her little finger. She’s the spittin’ image of Alex, right down to the blond hair, blue eyes, and independence streak. Each one has his or her own individual place in his heart and right now his heart runneth over with love for his children. He sits, drinking his coffee, and has a hard time remembering what his life had been like before he married Alex and the babies began coming.

 

His daydreaming comes to an end as he hears a soft thud coming from upstairs followed by excited babbling and soft laughter. He rushes upstairs and as he enters the nursery, he sees Chrissy sitting on John’s lap and Jimmy half under John. All have smiles on their faces as they look up at him.

 

“Hi, Dad. Chrissy woke up and me and Jimmy was helping her out of the crib. She started laughing and we kinda got tangled up and fell.” Walker reaches down, picks up Chrissy in his arms and kisses her, “Are you alright?”

 

She nods, still grinning. “Down, Daddy. Go potty.” He quickly puts her down and she runs to the bathroom.

 

“Are you guys alright? Why didn’t you come and get me to help?”

 

“Chrissy wouldn’t wait. She started climbing out of her crib. I didn’t want her to fall so me and Jimmy tried to help.”

 

“Well, you both did good. We wouldn’t want Chrissy to fall would we?” The boys nod in agreement. Chrissy comes back into the room with her shorts twisted and John goes up to her and straightens them out for her.

 

“Barn, Daddy.” She takes Walker by the hand and start tugging to get him to follow her.

 

“What do you want to go to the barn for, Chrissy?” This child of his has a great love for the horses. She would spend every waking moment with them if she could.

 

“See Mego!”

 

He picks her up, “Well, I guess we can for a little while. Coming boys?”

 

Yea, lets go. Maybe we can ride Amigo? Please Daddy.”

 

“Well, I guess you’ll have to ask Amigo if he feels up it, huh?”

 

As they enter the barn, they are welcomed with whinnies and neighs from Amigo. Walker puts a bridle on Amigo and leads him out of the stall. All three children run up to shower Amigo with love. Walker starts to say something but notices that Amigo stops moving when the kids come up to him. He lowers his head and Chrissy gives him a kiss on his nose, mostly because that’s the only part she can reach. Jimmy walks under his belly, coming up on the other side and begins scratching Amigo on the neck, while John gets a currycomb and starts brushing the horse’s already gleaming coat. It isn’t hard to see that Amigo is enjoying every bit of this attention.

 

“Daddy, ride Mego.” Chrissy starts chanting. “Ride, Mego. Ride Mego.”

 

“Let me get him saddled, okay? John, run inside and get a carrot out of the fridge. I think he ought to have a treat if he has to work.” John takes off in a flash. When he returns, Walker has Amigo saddled and standing outside. Walker watches John as he breaks the carrot into three pieces, giving one piece to Chrissy and one to John.

 

“Mego, here.” Amigo reaches down and deftly lifts the carrot from her hand. Then takes the one offered from Jimmy and John.

 

“Who’s first?” The boys point to Chrissy. Chrissy looks at the boys and grins, “Me, first!” Walker lifts her up onto the saddle then climbs up behind her. He hands her the reins and, holding her close, nudges Amigo in the ribs with his heels. Chrissy, grinning from ear to ear, guides Amigo all around the house and barn for nearly thirty minutes. The boys, also with big grins, patiently wait for their turn.

 

“Chrissy don’t you think it’s time to let the boys have their turn?” She turns and looks at Jimmy and John, nods and tries to get down. When she starts moving to slide off, Amigo stops. Walker hands her down to John then reaches down for Jimmy. After Jimmy has his turn, Walker dismounts and hands the reins to John. He leads Amigo over to a barrel, climbs up on the barrel and then into the saddle. He rides Amigo around for thirty minutes, also.

 

After being thoroughly brushed and rubbed down, Amigo is led back to his stall by the children and then they all head to the house to get supper started.

 

While Walker grills the hamburgers, the three kids play on the swing set in the back yard. He notices that the boys are very gentle and protective of their little sister. Enjoying the view of his children playing, something that he doesn’t see nearly often enough, he hears the phone ringing inside the house. He quickly gets the portable from the kitchen and returns to his chair by the grill.

 

“Walker.”

 

“Hi, Cowboy. Miss me?”

 

“Alex! Hi, babe.” His voice lowers to a whisper, “You’ll never know how much. Like part of my heart is missing.”

 

“I miss you, too, darling. How is everything? I tried to call earlier, but you must have been outside.”

 

“We were. After the naps we went out to ride Amigo. How was your trip, hon?”

 

“Everything went fine. What are the kids doing?”

 

“They’re playing on the swing set. Want to talk to them?”

 

“Of course, for a few minutes.”

 

“Hey, gang, Mom’s on the phone. Want to talk to her?”

 

Alex talks to each one of the kids for several minutes then John hands the phone back to Walker, whispering, “She sounds like she’s crying, Dad.”

 

“Alex?” He hears a few sniffles, “Alex? Hey, are you alright?”

 

“I’m fine, darling, just a little homesick I guess. Jimmy was telling me you’re fixing ‘grilled burgers’ for supper. And Chrissy was telling me about ‘Mego’. John also said you were going to have popcorn later. Sounds like you have everything under control. You’re doing so well, maybe I’ll stay a couple of days longer.”

 

“Alex, now don’t get carried away. I’m not sure I can stand you being gone that long.”

 

“I’m only kidding, Walker, you know I could never stay away that long.  I’ll probably leave here Sunday morning around 9:00, and should be home by 11:00 anyway. I’ll call you before I leave. I guess I’d better go, Susan wants me to go see their new house. I’ll try and call later tonight, okay? I love you.”

 

“I love you, too, Alex, I’ll be waiting for your call. Bye now.”

 

John came up and stood in front of him, “Is Mom alright, Dad? Why was she crying?”

 

“Mom is fine. She just misses you guys, that’s all.” Pulls him close for a hug, “Go get the other two, I think the hamburgers are done.”  He scoops the burgers onto a plate and follows the kids into the house. He decides on potato chips instead of fries and after eating, the kids take off in different directions and he cleans up the kitchen.

 

Daddy! Daddy!” He rushes outside to see John pointing up into the tree in the backyard. Getting closer he sees Jimmy about half way up, clinging to a branch, that doesn’t look like it’s big enough to hold him.

 

“Don’t move, Jimmy, I’m coming up. Stay still.” He starts climbing up the tree and gets within three feet but the branches are getting to small to hold him. “Jimmy, look at me!” As the boy slowly turns his head, he sees Walker below him. “Don’t be scared, just do what I say, okay?” Jimmy nods, but when the branch that he is on starts bending, Walker can see the panic rise in his eyes. “Jimmy, keep looking at me. When I reach up, see if you can take my hand.” Walker extends his arm above him as far as he can, “Now, Jimmy, slowly lean down and take my hand.” The boy starts to lean down but stops when the branch starts bending again. “Come on, son, I won’t let you fall.” Walker keeps his voice calm and quiet, “Lean down just a little more.” Jimmy leans down again, just barely touching his father’s fingers,

 

Daddy? I can’t!” His voice is shrill, full of fear.

 

“Yes, you can, son, just a little more.” As Jimmy stretches just a little more, Walker grabs his hand, just as the limb that his son is on breaks. He pulls the boy close, holding him tight against his chest. He feels the boy shaking, but he isn’t crying, “It’s all right, son, I’ve got you.” Jimmy slowly stops shaking, and Walker can feel him relaxing. “Now, how about we get out of this tree and go fix that popcorn. You ready?” He feels the boy nod into his chest, then Walker slowly makes his way down the tree.

 

Back on the ground again, Walker kneels down on the ground, and holds the boy away from his chest to look him in the eye. “Are you alright?” Jimmy nods. “Why did you go up into that tree anyway?”

 

“Poptart went up the tree and couldn’t get down. I was afraid she’d fall.” His eyes were bright but not a tear fell.

 

“Poptart? But, son, cats climb trees all the time. See there’s Poptart over there. She got down all by herself. Promise me that you won’t do that again, okay?”

 

“I promise, Daddy.” Walker gives him a final hug, stands, and takes a deep breath, thankful everything turned out all right.

 

Daddy, I can’t find Chrissy.” John was tugging on his pants.

 

‘Oh, Lord,’ He turns and looks around the yard, no sign of her. “John, go look inside the house, the bathroom, bedrooms, anywhere you think she might be. Okay?”

 

John turns and disappears into the house as Walker turns and with Jimmy at his side runs around to the front of the house, looks on the porch, in his truck and doesn’t see her anywhere, “Oh, God, where is she!”

 

John comes running out the front door, “She’s not in there anywhere, Daddy. I couldn’t find her.” Tears building up in his eyes.

 

Chrissy!….Chrissy” He listens for her to answer. Silence. “Chrissy!” Suddenly he hears Amigo whinny. Walker turns as do the boys, and all three rush out to the barn. Seeing the door open, “Oh, no.” He darts inside, looking toward Amigo’s stall, sees that the door is open, and the horse is gone.

 

“Daddy, look.”  Jimmy whispers. Walker turns to look, and sees Amigo lying down in the paddock just off the barn, and Chrissy is sitting on his back. Grinning like her fondest wish has come true.

 

“Whoa, Amigo, Whoa.” He soothingly murmurs, as he nears the horse. Amigo stays perfectly still, as Walker comes up to him and takes Chrissy from his back. As Walker backs away, Amigo stands, shakes then moves up to Walker, nudging his arm. “Amigo, you did good, ole fella.” Lays his head against Amigo’s for an instant, he then turns and walks into the barn with the horse following, and as Amigo enters his stall, Walker shuts the door. Still carrying Chrissy and with the two boys leading the way, they head for the house.

 

Walker fixes the popcorn that he had promised and sits the bowl on the table in front of the couch. The three little ones sit on the floor eating. Walker sits in the recliner, with the memories of the three separate incidents that his kids had experienced, still etched vividly in his mind. But the kids seem to have already forgotten. He closes his eyes, and silently gives thanks to the Man upstairs that all ended well.

 

 His feels a prick on his cheek, opening his eyes and looking at the kids, he sees three smiling faces. Closing his eyes again he feels another prick but this time when he opens his eyes he sees Jimmy’s arm dropping. Glancing down he sees two kernels of popcorn lying in his lap. He looks back at the kids just in time to see more popcorn heading his way. He laughs and before long there is a full-scale popcorn battle going on. Which ends with Walker lying in the middle of the floor with all three coming at him ready for a little wrestling.

 

“What in the world?” The kids all jump up and turn at the sound, and Walker sits up, “Need some help there, do you, Walker?”

 

“Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Josie.” They squeal and run up to them. Trivette squats down and hugs all three, and then they turn to Josie for some of the same. “Where’s Josh and Cindy? Didn’t they come with you?”

 

Josie returns the hugs, “Fraid not, guys. They are spending the night with their Grandma and Grandpa. I guess you guys had a popcorn fight, here, huh?”

 

 “Looks like you have everything under control, Walker. But I’m not sure who was winning there. Looks like you were on the bottom, man.”

 

“I was beginning to wonder that myself.” He stands and brushes the popcorn off his clothes, “What brings you two out here. Did you all come out to check up on me?”

 

“Just wanted to see how you handle the little people. Looks like you’re doing all right.”

 

“Come out to the kitchen, I’ll make us some coffee. Why don’t you three see how much of that popcorn you can pick up, just don’t eat it, all right?”

 

“Hey, how about if I hold the bowl and you three see how fast you can fill it up, okay?” Josie picks up the bowl and sits on the couch while the kids start hunting for popcorn. Trivette follows Walker to the kitchen.

 

“Well, Walker, how’s it going so far. Any problems, yet?”

 

“It’s not as easy as I thought it would be but, truthfully, I’m really enjoying this time with the kids. Guess I going to have to find a way to spend more time with them.”

 

“I know what you mean, Walker. This is the time in their lives when they’re learning so fast. It’s kinda scary knowing you may miss something if you’re not with them all the time.”

 

“That’s it, Trivette. That’s it, exactly. But even if you are with them constantly, you’re still going to miss some things.

 

“Walker, you have a little girl in here that’s just about asleep on her feet. Think she would let me give her a bath and get her ready for bed?” Josie walks out to the kitchen carrying Chrissy in her arms.

 

Walker takes Chrissy from Josie, “Sweetheart, would you like for Josie to help you get ready for bed?  When you get in bed I’ll come up and tuck you in, okay?” Chrissy nods, Walker gives her a kiss and gives her back to Josie. As they start up the stairs, he hears Chrissy asking Josie if she knows any good stories.

 

John and Jimmy come out to the kitchen and John climbs up in Walker’s lap and, as Jimmy moves to join his brother, Trivette puts his arms out to him,  “Hey, Jimmy, how ‘bout sitting on my lap. I could sure use some hugs.” Jimmy turns to look at him, smiles and moves over to get in his lap. Trivette picks him up and gives him a hug, “Can’t ever get too many hugs now can we?”

 

“Daddy, when’s Mommy coming home?” John has his head against Walkers’ chest, “It seems funny her not being here.”

 

“I know son, but she’ll be back day after tomorrow. So will your sister. Till then its just going to be us guys and Chrissy. Do you think we can handle things until Mom and Jessie get back?”

 

“Uh huh.” John nods, and yawns.

 

“Come on, son. I think it’s bed time.” Walker looks at Trivette and notices that Jimmy is asleep in his arms. “I guess these two will get baths tomorrow morning.”

 

Trivette follows Walker up the stairs, between the two of them they get pajamas on the boys, and tucked into bed. Walker tucks the blankets around them both and kisses them goodnight, shuts the light out and closes the door. He sees Josie standing by the nursery door, “All asleep?”

 

“They’ve had a busy day. I’ll say goodnight to Chrissy and join you downstairs.” As he enters the room, he sees Chrissy standing up in the crib, yawning. “Hi, baby. Gimme a kiss, its bed time.” Chrissy puts her arms around her Dad’s neck, squeezing tight, kisses him on the cheek, and Walker lays her down and covers her up. “Goodnight, baby. I love you.”

 

“Luv you, Daddy.” Chrissy yawns and shuts her eyes. Walker watches her for a few minutes then walks out and closes the door.

 

Trivette and Josie sit in the living room talking to Walker, and after his assurance that he is doing just fine, they call it a night and head for home. Walker turns the lights out, locks the doors and decides to wait for Alex’s call in their bedroom. He gets a shower and stretches out on the bed. Just as he reaches over to get a book off the nightstand, the phone rings.

 

“Walker.”

 

“Hi, Cowboy.” Alex murmurs in a soft voice. “I sure do miss you.”

 

“Hi, yourself. I miss you, too. Are you enjoying yourself?”

 

“I could enjoy myself more if you were here with me, it’s lonesome here without you and the kids.”

 

“What time is the wedding tomorrow?”

 

“It starts at 3:00 p.m. We’re leaving around 2:00 p.m. The reception starts at 5:00 p.m. and should be over by 10:00 p.m. I may leave earlier Sunday than I had originally planned.”

 

“Any particular reason?”

 

“No, I just want to get home. I’ve enjoyed my time here, and it was good to see Susan but I really don’t know many other people and Susan and Jack will be leaving for their honeymoon early in the morning. Besides, I’m ready to come home.”

 

“John mentioned tonight that your not being here seems funny and I guess I’d have to agree with him. They really miss you, too. Trivette and Josie came by for a little while this evening. Their kids are with Josie’s parents this weekend and I think they came out to check up on me.”

 

“How is everything, no problems?”

 

“We’re doing fine, honey. But we’ll all be glad to have you back home. I may not be so quick to encourage you to go away, anymore.”

 

“Susan wants to show me her dress, tonight, so I’ll say goodnight. Sweet dreams. I’ll call you tomorrow after the wedding, it’ll be too hectic to call before. I love you.”

 

“I love you, too, baby. Goodnight.”

 

******

 

The next morning Walker wakes up to a lot of laughing. He slips on a pair of his workout pants and starts looking for the kids. The boys’ bedroom is empty, as is the nursery. Hearing giggling from the first floor, he quietly goes down the stairs. Hearing the tinkling of glass he walks to the kitchen door to see that John had fixed breakfast for Jimmy and Chrissy.  John is trying to clean up some of the spilled cereal and milk before he sits down to his bowl of cereal.

 

When Walker walks into the room, John looks up at him, silent, not sure how he will react to the mess he has made.

 

Chrissy breaks the silence with, “Hi, Daddy. Want ceeweall? Eat, go see Mego!” She holds her spoon up for him to take a bite. Walker leans over and takes the offered cereal.

 

He sits down, looks at John, “Are you the one fixing breakfast?”

 

John swallows hard, “Yes, sir.”

 

“Well, I think I’ll have cereal this morning, too.” When he smiles, John visibly relaxes and jumps up to get another bowl and a spoon for his dad.

 

 

As he eats breakfast with the kids, he hears something but can’t quite figure out what it is, “What’s that noise? Do you hear it, John, Jimmy? Almost sounds like water.” When he says this, John jumps up, runs out of the kitchen, and Walker hears him running up the stairs. He gets up and follows him up the stairs and as he reaches the top landing he realizes that the floor is squishy. Hurrying to the bathroom, he sees the tub running over, and John frantically trying to get the water turned off. Walker quickly shuts the water off and pulls the plug then turns to John, “Did you do this, John?”

 

In a very tiny voice, “Yes.”

 

“Why, John. What were you trying to do?” Walker was trying his best to keep his voice even and calm.

 

“Well, you said something about me and Jimmy taking baths this morning and I started the water, then Chrissy wanted out of her crib, and wanted breakfast and I took her downstairs. Then Jimmy came in and I fixed his breakfast, too. I forgot the water. I was just trying to help, Daddy, like Mommy wanted.” John was talking so fast Walker was having trouble keeping up with him.  As John explained, Walker could see the tears building and start down his cheeks, joining the water on the floor.

 

“Why didn’t you wake me up when Chrissy wanted up.”

 

“I went to get you once, but you were sleeping real good, and smiling, and I figured you was real tired, so I decided to let you sleep. I’m sorry, Daddy.”

 

“Well, I think your heart was in the right place, it just looks like things got away from you. It’s going to take a lot of work to get this cleaned up, think you’re up to it?”

 

“Yes, Daddy. What do you want me to do?”

 

“First we go to the kitchen, get Chrissy and Jimmy, and bring them up here where we can keep an eye on them.”

 

Leaving John to watch Chrissy and Jimmy, he heads to the basement to get the shopvac to clean up the water.

 

It takes him all morning to get the water up, thank God it hadn’t gotten to the other rooms, just the hallway and part of the stairs.

 

Looking into the boys’ bedroom, he sees both of them sitting on the floor with coloring books, but he doesn’t see Chrissy. “Where’s Chrissy, boys?”

 

Walker goes to his bedroom first and he finds her trying to pull one of his white T-shirts on over her head. He laughs, “I found her, boys.” He turns, gets the shopvac and takes it back to the basement. He returns upstairs to his bedroom and finds Chrissy sitting at Alex’s dressing table. Coming up behind her and looking into the mirror at her reflection he sees a face with lipstick smeared from one check to the other.

 

“Hi, Daddy. Me pretty?” Delight shining in her eyes.

 

“Oh, Chrissy.” Walker sighs. “Yes, Chrissy, you are very pretty, baby. But you shouldn’t get into Mommy’s stuff without asking first. Come on, baby, lets see if we can get you cleaned up before lunch.

 

At noon, Walker has finally gotten Chrissy cleaned up and both boys have had their bath. After lunch since he didn’t get to it earlier, he goes to the barn to get the stalls mucked out and the horses fed. Keeping Chrissy occupied is no problem since she likes horses anyway and John is helping as much as he can. He looks out the barn door every once in a while, checking on Jimmy, who is playing by the Ram in the front yard.

 

When he finishes, he picks up Chrissy and they start for the house. Chrissy wiggles to get down, “Come on, Jimmy, its nap time.”… ‘For me, too.’

 

“Daddy, can you get my boat?”

 

“Sure, where is it?”

 

“In the back of the truck.” Walker moves to the tailgate, but watches Chrissy as she tries to get into the swing on the front porch. As he pulls the latch up, he’s knocked to the ground with a sudden rush of water. Stunned, he sits in what is now mud, wondering what in the world had happened. Laughter is what finally gets through his soggy thinking, and looking at the kids, they are laughing so hard they are almost rolling on the ground. Realizing he isn’t hurt, he can’t help but smile, too.

 

“Well, does someone want to tell me how all this water got in the truck?”

 

It takes several minutes before the kids can talk, and they look from one to the other. “Jimmy, you were playing here, can you tell me?”

 

“I put water in the truck for my boat but it took to long to fill up…and I forgot it. Are you mad, Daddy?” Jimmy was looking very solemn, just a little scared.

 

“No, Jimmy, I’m not mad. Nothing was hurt, except my dignity.  At least it’s not something I have to clean up, aside from me, that is.” Getting up, he realizes he can’t go inside with all this mud on him. “John, would you run upstairs in my bedroom and get me a pair of my workout pants, should be a pair lying on the bed.”

 

"Okay, Daddy.” When he returned with them, Walker sat down on the porch and took his boots off, then his pants and slipped on the workout pants.

 

“Okay, now, where were we? Nap time. Come on kids, upstairs. You, too, John. You need some quiet time, too.” After getting Chrissy and Jimmy down, and leaving John lying on his bed coloring, Walker goes back downstairs to get his muddy clothes and put them in the laundry room. Then sitting in his recliner going back over the day, wondering if Alex had days like this with the kids, too.

 

He leans back in the recliner bringing the footrest up, and putting up his feet, he closes his eyes for just a minute, “Daddy? Daddy? Trying to get out of the recliner before dropping the footrest, the recliner tilts forward, throwing him to the floor.  As he tries to catch himself, he jams his little finger into the floor. “Daddy?” He picks himself up and, shaking his hand, rushes upstairs to see what is wrong with John.

 

Seeing that he isn’t in his room, “John, where are you?”

 

“Here, Daddy. In the bathroom.”

 

“Well, what’s wrong, John?” He grabs the knob, turns and pulls, and stumbles backward with the knob in his hand. “What in the …? John, what happened?”

 

“I don’t know, Daddy, I tried to open the door and the knob came off in my hand. I can’t get the door open.”

 

“I’ll … think of something, John, just take easy, okay?” Walker is quiet for a couple of minutes, thinking, “John can you get that knob back into the hole in the door?”

 

He listens as John tries to do what he asked, “I can’t get it in Daddy.”

 

“All right John, let me check on the other two kids and I’ll get right back to you, okay?”

 

“Okay, Daddy.”

 

Walker goes looking for Chrissy and Jimmy. He finds them standing in the doorway of the nursery watching him. “Can you two stay in there and play until I get John out of the bathroom?” They both nod their heads and go back into the room. Walker races down the stairs to get his toolbox that’s in the basement and brings it back upstairs. He checks on the other two first than starts working on the inner workings of the doorknob. Finally after 20 minutes he gets the door open.

 

John comes rushing out, “Whew, Dad, that’s was wild!” He goes in search of Jimmy and Chrissy.

 

Walker picks up the doorknob from the bathroom floor and, seeing that it’s broken, says, ”Well, I guess this calls for a ride into town.”

 

Walker goes into his bedroom, to change out of his workout pants into a pair of jeans and a clean shirt then goes looking for the others to get them ready for the trip to town.

 

He looks John and Jimmy over and sees that they are fine. He picks up Chrissy and takes her into the bathroom to wash her face and to comb her hair. After washing her face, he starts brushing her hair. He always enjoys brushing her hair. Not to many people know it, but he likes brushing Alex’s hair, too. “Ow, Daddy that hurt.” Looking for the tangle, he discovers a wad of gum in her hair.

 

“Chrissy, how did you get gum in your hair?” She looks up at him and shrugs her shoulders. ‘How in the world do I get that out. If I cut it out it will leave a bald spot. Maybe Josie can help me.’

 

He picks up Chrissy and goes into his bedroom to call Josie. “Josie? This is Walker… No we’re fine except Chrissy has some gum in her hair…. Josie quit laughing and tell me how to get it out…Peanut butter? Are you sure…Okay, okay, what then…It just washes out, huh…Okay, I’ll try that, but if it doesn’t work, I’ll be calling you back…. Thanks, Josie.”

 

He sends John to the kitchen to get the peanut butter and while waiting takes Chrissy’s clothes off, sets her in the tub and wets her hair.  When John returns with the peanut butter, he takes a glob and rubs it into the hair with the gum. “Well, I’ll be! It’s working.” He then washes and rinses Chrissy’s hair, dries it and brushes it out. “It beautiful again!” He dresses her and then load’s all the kids into the Ram and after securing them into seatbelts, heads for town.

 

After getting a new doorknob for the bathroom, he takes the kids to CD’s for supper. With the two boys leading the way and carrying Chrissy, Walker enters CD’s.  When the kids see CD, they run to him, wrapping their arms around his legs, “Grampa”, and Chrissy is squealing to get down. Walker stands her on the floor and she makes a mad dash for CD, too. Walker smiles at the picture of CD squatting on the floor and hugging the three excited kids. CD picks Chrissy up and leads the way to a booth. After everyone is seated, “Well, Cordell, this is an unexpected surprise. What brings you town this evening?”

 

Walker explains the reason for the trip, “And I thought we could have supper here with you before going back.”

 

"Well, that’s great, you know I always like to see these guys. What’s you guys, want, as if I didn’t know.”

 

“Cheeseburgers!” All three shout at once.

 

“Three cheeseburgers it is. How about you, Cordell, what do you want?”

 

“Bring me a bowl of your chili, CD.”

 

After they’ve all eaten and visited with CD, Walker loads the kids up for the trip home. By the time he arrives all three are asleep. He picks up Chrissy and Jimmy and carries them inside, John wakes up and follows them inside and upstairs. After getting them all into bed, he heads for the shower, and then to bed, too.

 

He nods, then jerks awake, wanting to wait for Alex to call, but his eyes just don’t want to cooperate. When the phone rings, he jumps, and quickly picks it up. “Walker.” He says in a groggy tone.

 

“Hi, honey. Did I catch you asleep? I’m sorry.”

 

“That’s all right, Alex. How did the wedding go.”

 

“It went just fine, no problems at all. They’re leaving for their honeymoon first thing in the morning and right after they leave, I’m leaving, too. I’ll call just before I do, okay?”

 

“That’s fine, honey. We sure do miss you around here. I’m glad you got away for a little while, but I’ll sure be glad when you get back.”

 

“I enjoyed seeing Susan, again, but I’m ready to go home. I should be there by 10:00 at the latest. I’m going to let you get back to sleep. I’m going to turn in myself. Goodnight, darling, sweet dreams.”

 

“Goodnight, baby, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

*******

 

The Williams’ drop Jessie off first thing in the morning and by 10:00 a.m. all five of them are sitting on the front porch when Alex drives up. As she gets out of her car, all the kids run up to her for hugs and kisses, while Walker stands back, watching with eyes full of love for this woman, this mother of his children. As the kids turn back to the house, Walker moves up to Alex and, taking her into his arms, pulls her close and kisses her tenderly. He looks into her eyes and kisses her again, with more longing and desire. Alex pulls back, “Whoa, cowboy. You really did miss me, didn’t you?” She touches his lips again with hers, “But, I think we still have eyes watching. Maybe we ought to save this till later?”

 

He turns, with his arm around her and they walk to the house. “Well, it still looks the same. Except for that mudhole, there. And why is Amigo so excited to see me?”

 

“It’s a long story, I’ll tell you tonight.”

 

As the day goes on, Alex finds popcorn in the oddest places in living room, like on the mantle and inside the fireplace. She also finds the peanut butter jar in the bathroom and a new knob on the door. And as she starts doing some of the laundry she comes across Walker’s muddy clothes. She doesn’t mention any of this to Walker, knowing how hard he has tried to keep everything in order around the house. She does find one thing that she just can’t keep quiet about, though. One of Walker’s t-shirts that has lipstick smeared on the front of it. She goes in search of him for an explanation, finding him on the front porch in the swing, “Walker, can you tell me about this?”

 

“About what? Oh! Well, uh, you see …”

 

Unable to contain her smile and with a twinkle in her eye, she says “It has blond hair on it, too, and it sure isn’t mine. Have you been messin’ around with another woman while I’ve been gone?”

 

“Ah…you caught me. Yes…well, you see, it was like this.” The twinkle and the smile leave her face replaced by a somber expression.

 

“Walker!” Just then Chrissy comes running out the front door, sees the t-shirt with lipstick on it, and stops in her tracks.

 

Looking at Walker, “You tell Mommy?”

 

“No, sweetheart, I haven’t.”

 

Chrissy walks up to Alex, looks up at her, “I sorry, Mommy.”

 

Alex stoops down in front of Chrissy, “You did this?”

 

Chrissy nods her head, “You mad, Mommy? I sorry.”

 

“No, honey, I’m not mad.” Gives her quick kiss and a hug.

 

“Okay.” She takes off to find the boys.

 

Alex turns to look at Walker, who is smiling at her, “Gotcha.” He takes her hands and pulls her down to sit beside him. He puts his arm around her and kisses her softly, “Alex, you should know by now, there will never be anyone but you in my life.” Kisses her again, but deeper this time.

 

“I know honey, and I do trust you, but there are women out there who would love to get their hands on you.” She whispers against his lips.

 

“Oh! And why haven’t I seen any of these women? And who are they?”

 

“Do you want me to name names?”

 

“If you can?”

 

“Well, there’s Mary Ann, Dianne, Patty, Linda, Pam, Shirley, Debbie, Melissa, Tammy, Crystal, Jennifer, Tina, Denise, Londa, Leliana, Jamie, Michelle, Gail, Rhonda, Shawna, Leigh, Ina, Wendy, Janny, Tina, Lace, Kara, Star Eagle, Amanda, Andrea, Jana, Eva, Liz, Clarise, Toni, Connie, Carolyn, Jen, Catherine, Kathy, Susie, Mimi. Dani, Stephanie, Dawn, Renee, Lindy, Beth, Terry, Regenia, Shel, Carol, Fran, and especially Chris and Sissy, and I know I’ve forgotten some, too!

 

The End