Walker’s Nightmare

By Sissy (sissy@svs.net)

& Chris (ckline-usa@foreverling.com)

 

He lays in bed asleep, beads of sweat popping out on his forehead, the muscles in his face twitching, arms reaching, then, “No!” He groans and then screams, “Alex!” as he wakes with a jolt.

Walker sits up in bed, trembling, drenched in sweat, and his heart beating like a trip hammer. He’s had the same dream for the past five nights.  What started them, he doesn’t know and he doesn’t know what to do to stop them.  They are all the same, all about Alex.

He has fallen in love with Alex even though he had tried hard not to.  He didn’t have a very good track record when it came to personal relationships. No one has ever survived the rigorous demands that his lifestyle has asked of them.  Alex was different.  Her career and lifestyle put her in nearly as much danger as his did.  She was also an integral part of his career as the Assistant District Attorney.  He had been thrown into her life as much as she had been thrown into his. He knew she cared for him.  Even he couldn’t miss her subtle attempts to draw him into situations where they could be alone.

He gets out of bed and walks to the window.  The sky is just starting to turn pink in the east. He stares out into the dark, trying to sort through the nightmare. For it really is his nightmare.

When the dreams first began, they were of pleasant times together, long rides on horseback, picnics by the lake, quiet conversations at C.D.’s, tender looks at work and dreams of making passionate love to her.  But then the dreams changed to visions of a shadow of a man pulling her away from him.  She breaks free and runs toward Walker but the stranger starts chasing her, a knife in his hand.  As the stranger rushes toward Alex, arm raised, ready to attack, she screams, “Walker!  He seems to be moving in slow motion trying to get to Alex.  He has to reach her first.  He sees the arm descending. “NO!  There is a flash and then he sees himself looking down at a gravestone with the engraving, “ALEXANDRA CAHILL-LOVING DAUGHTER & FRIEND-1963-1996” He screams “ALEX!” Then wakes up.  This is his nightmare. This is what fills his mind every time he falls asleep.

 

He squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head trying to dislodge the last visages of the dream from his mind as he turns to go to the bathroom to shower and get ready for work.

 

******

 

Arriving at Ranger Headquarters very early, he finds that he is the sole occupant.  He decides to catch up on his paper work but even with the silence of the empty room, he has a hard time concentrating on the words in front of him.  He pushes the papers away, picks up his cup of coffee and leans back in his chair. Thinking back, he remembers the dreams started shortly after Alex had invited him to dinner at her place. They had spent a quiet evening, having a great meal, some nice quiet conversation, and then as they sat on the couch, she had turned to face him and he had kissed her.  The Kiss. The one that had finally made it clear to him just how much she really meant to him.  She had stolen his heart with that kiss. The passion in that kiss had been like a fire between them that night, but he had left before it consumed them.  And then the dreams had started, dreams of what he had hoped would be their future together.  But five days ago they had started to change. Change into a nightmare that has been his nightly companion for the past five days.

He glances at the clock, remembering that he had told Alex that he would meet her at C.D.’s for breakfast at 7:00. He stands, feeling the fatigue in his body, grabs his hat and leaves the room.

When he arrives at C.D.’s, he sees Alex already sitting in a booth waiting for him. As he approaches, he sees a look of consternation appear on her face. He knows the lack of sleep is showing on his face as well as in his movements, and is wondering how he is going to explain it to her.

 

“Hi.” He slides in across from her and catching C.D.’s eye, holds his hand up as if holding a cup, signifying that he wants a cup of coffee. C.D. nods and brings him the coffee.

 

“Cordell, Alex, what would you two like for breakfast this morning?”

 

“Orange juice, 2 pancakes and sausage for me, C.D.” Alex says, then waits for Walker to give his order.

 

“Nothing for me. I’m not hungry.”

 

C.D. shrugs his shoulders, sensing the mood that Walker is in and knowing better than to argue, turns and goes to the kitchen.

 

“Walker, are you all right? You look awful.”

 

“I’m all right, Alex, just having trouble sleeping lately.”

 

“Oh…are the Peterson brothers worrying you or is it something else?”

 

“No, it’s not the Peterson’s, just bad dreams.”

 

Looking at him intently, she reaches out, lays her hand on his and softly says, “Would you like to talk about them? I’m a pretty good listener.”

 

He looks into her eyes, wanting to tell her, but afraid of what her reaction will be if he does. “No, Alex…I can’t tell you. Not now, maybe later, but not now.”

 

Alex is disappointed by his answer, but she knows that pushing him will not help. When C.D. brings her breakfast over she lets go of his hand. Watching Walker drink his coffee and seeing the shadows under his eyes has her so worried that now she doesn’t feel like eating, either. After taking a few bites, she pushes the plate away and picks up her cup of coffee.

 

“Walker, could I interest you into coming over for dinner tonight? I’ve found a new recipe I’d like to try and I need a guinea pig.” She smiles trying to keep the mood light.

 

He turns to look at her, seeing the concern on her face, “Can I make a counteroffer? Would you come out to the ranch after work and maybe we could take a ride out to the lake?”

 

“I’d like that. Maybe I could get C.D. to fix us a picnic basket. I can be there around 6:00?”

 

“That’ll be fine. I’ll see you then.” He reaches over and gives her hand a squeeze, then stands to leave.

 

As Alex watches him walk to the door, she can tell that he is exhausted by the way he moves. Standing, she walks over to C.D., “Something is really bothering him this time.”

 

“I know, honey, but you know Cordell. He won’t talk about it until he gets ready. He knows he can come to us any time. And he will, honey, he will. Just give him time.”

 

*****

 

Just as Alex starts into her office, she sees Jimmy get off the elevator and motions to him.  As he approaches her, “Jimmy, has anything happened at work that would upset Walker?”

 

“Nothing that I know of. I see you’ve noticed the way he looks, too. I asked him once if anything was bothering him and he almost took my head off.  He’s so tired I’m not sure he could even defend himself if he got into a fight. But…you know Walker.” He turns and enters Ranger Headquarters.

 

“Yeah, Jimmy, I know.” She enters her office, but instead of sitting at her desk, she gets a cup of coffee and goes to the window, gazing out over the city.  With Walker on her mind, she starts thinking back to when she first noticed the change in him.  The times they have been together have been few and far between.  He always had a reason for missing dinner dates or lunch dates and she had attributed it to his job. The last time they had been together was when she had invited him to dinner at her place almost two weeks ago.  He seemed to enjoy the meal and he appeared to be more relaxed than the previous times they’d been together. After dinner they had sat on the couch and talked for a long time. She had turned to look at him and the look in his eyes had set her heart racing.  Then he kissed her.  A sweet, gentle kiss, that deepened and grew more passionate. A fire was ignited by that kiss, but when they had parted, he said something about ‘he should leave’, kissed her tenderly and was gone before she’d had time to recover from his kiss.  She had been in love with him for a long time, but he’d never given any indication that he felt the same way until that kiss.  Coming out of her daydream, she goes to her desk and sits down, wondering if somehow she isn’t the cause of his problem.

 

*****

 

When Alex arrives at the ranch, Walker has the horses saddled and waiting. After stowing the picnic basket behind his saddle, they mount and begin the ride to the lake. Conversation is light, what little there is.  Walker seems distracted and unable to keep his mind focused.

 

Arriving at the lake, Alex spreads a blanket on the ground while Walker tends to the horses. When he returns, they sit down, but neither seems interested in eating. Alex leans back against a tree, “Maybe we need to relax a little before we eat. This has been a trying day for both of us.”

 

“You might be right, it does seem a little early for dinner.” He moves over to sit next to her, leaning against the same tree. After several minutes, she glances at him, and seeing his eyes closed, she moves slightly.  His eyes open momentarily as she pulls him down to lay his head in her lap. She watches as he dozes, catching herself softly rubbing her hand over his beard, running her fingers through his hair.  He sleeps soundly for over an hour, and then Alex sneezes, waking him. He sits up and looks at her, “I’m sorry, you should have woken me.”

 

“You looked like you could use the rest.  I’m sorry I disturbed you. Do you feel like eating, now?”

 

The short uninterrupted sleep made him feel more human, “Yeah, I think I could eat, now.”

 

After the meal, they clean up the picnic area.  At one point Walker takes Alex’s hand in his, looks into her eyes, opens his mouth as if to say something, then lets go of her hand and turns away.  “I think we had better be starting back, it’ll be dark soon.”

 

As he starts to stand, she takes his hand in hers, “Walker…? Please, won’t you let me help? I get the feeling these dreams have something to do with me.  Maybe if we talk about it, I can help.” Her eyes are almost begging him.

 

“Alex…I don’t know what’s causing these dreams but until I do, please…be careful.”

 

“I knew it, I am the cause of…!   Please, Walker, tell me…”

 

“Alex, don’t ask me, I can’t tell you. I just have a feeling. That’s all, it’s just a feeling. Okay?”

 

As she listens to him, she knows that it will do no good to push him any farther. But she’s sure that somewhere in all of this mess, she is involved.

 

The ride back to the ranch is tense to say the least. She helps Walker take care of the horses then leaves the barn and heads for her car. Walker catches up with her just as she opens the door, placing a hand on her arm, “Alex, please, don’t go like this.”

 

She turns and looks at him, seeing his face full of anguish, his voice pleading with her, and as she realizes the torment his mind must be going through, softly says, “Walker I’m not angry with you. I just wish you could tell me why you feel I need to be careful.”

 

“It really is just a feeling. Call it the Cherokee Thing, like Trivette does, if you want. I just don’t know, but please promise me you’ll be careful. Okay?” He takes her hand in his, leans in and touches his lips lightly to hers. He murmurs softly, “Alex, when I get this all sorted out in my head, I promise, we’ll talk.”

“All right, Walker. I guess I can accept that. And I will be careful, I promise. Now…you promise me that you’ll try to rest.  If you don’t, you’re going to get yourself killed, you’re exhausted.”

 

“I know, and I will try, I promise.” He watches her as she gets in her car and drives away. He finally turns and enters the house, dreading the thought of going to bed. He sits on the couch, putting off the inevitable as long as possible.

 

The ringing of the telephone snaps his eyes open. He sits up quickly.  The sun is shining brightly, and he smiles, realizing that he has slept the entire night without the nightmare. As the phone rings again, “Walker.”

 

“Walker? Man, are you coming to work today. It’s almost 10:00 o’clock.”

 

“I’m sorry, Trivette, I kinda overslept. I’ll get a shower and be right there.” He feels great, jumps up and rushes upstairs, showers and is walking into Ranger Headquarters by 10:30.

 

“Well, Walker, sleeping in must agree with you, you look almost human again.”

 

“Just almost, huh?” Taking a playful jab at Trivette before getting a cup of coffee and sitting down at his desk. Looking up at Trivette who is still staring at him, “Have we got any new leads on the Peterson brothers?”

 

“Uh, no, Walker, but I think we need to take another look at that warehouse down by the pier before we write it off.”

 

“Any special reason, Trivette?”

 

“Well, we know they’re getting arms shipments in and that warehouse makes an ideal place to store them. I know we didn’t find anything the first time but I’ve got a feeling they were expecting us.”

 

“Do you think they have an inside man here?”

 

“No, not really, but the papers have sure been broadcasting our investigations, so it stands to reason that they’d think we’d come by there sooner or later. So…they wait until we make a pass at them, then thinking they’re in the clear, they bring their cargo in.”

 

“That makes sense, Trivette,” smiling at him, “you’ve got a good head on your shoulders.”

 

“Walker, if you hadn’t been so exhausted, I’m sure you would of thought of it, too. You’ve been walking around like a zombie this past week.”

 

“Yeah, I know, I’m sorry. Hopefully I’ve got everything taken care of…uh…have you seen Alex yet this morning?”

 

“I called her to see if she knew of any reason you’d be late this morning, just before I called you, why?”

 

“Just wondering. Come on, let’s go check out that warehouse again.” He stands, gets his hat and heads for the door with Trivette right behind him.

 

Alex comes out of her office just as they come out the door and when she sees Walker, and how much better he looks her face brightens considerably. She flashes a smile at him as he walks by and he returns with one of his own at her.

 

In the elevator, “Wow, Walker, a smile like that can keep a man going all day.” Trivette dodges a swing from Walker as he laughs at his expression.

 

*****

 

Walker parks the Ram in an alley where they can watch the front entrance to the warehouse. They see several trucks arrive and disappear in the dark cavern beyond the door, hiding any further activities. Trivette is looking through binoculars, “I remember these guys from the first time we were here. I saw Ronnie Peterson in the first truck but I haven’t seen his brother yet. I guess he could be inside.”

 

“We still haven’t seen anything that will get us a search warrant. We need to see what’s in those trucks.”

 

“Well, that may prove easier said than done. Oh, oh, what have we here?”

 

“What is it, Trivette?”

 

“There’s an armed guard standing just inside the door. Man, now I know we’re on the right track.”

 

“Trivette, we need to see inside that warehouse. I’m going to see if there isn’t some way to get up on that roof, so I can look into that window.” He points to a high window on the side of the building.

 

“God, Walker, you’d have to be a bird to get up there.”

 

“You stay here, and keep an eye out. I’ll be back shortly.” With those words he leaves the truck and disappears back in the alley.

 

Fifteen minutes later, on a quick sweep with his binoculars, he catches a glimpse of Walker edging up to the window. After watching him for several minutes, he sees Walker turn toward him, and then a bright flash hits him in the eyes. “He’s got them.” Trivette picks up the phone, calls into headquarters and asks for backup and a search warrant at their location. When he looks back up to the roof, Walker is gone. “God, I hope he didn’t go inside…Walker where are you?…Come on, Walker, show yourself.”

 

“You looking for me, Trivette,” Walker says as he comes up to the side of the truck, causing Trivette to nearly drop his binoculars.

 

“Man, you nearly gave me a heart attack. I take it you saw something.  When you signaled, I called for back up and a warrant.”

 

“Yeah, I did.  That warehouse is full of crates.  I saw some open ones with rifles and ammunition. As soon as backup gets here, we’ll take them down.”

 

Twenty minutes later the warehouse is surrounded and with a minimal amount of shooting the gang is arrested. But Bobby Peterson is not in the building.

 

Back at Ranger Headquarters, Walker is sitting at his desk when Trivette returns from questioning Ronnie Peterson. “He isn’t talking, Walker. Nothing.”

 

“Well, it’s just a matter of time until Bobby is picked up, too.  Meanwhile, his brother sits in a cell waiting to go to trial.”

 

“Yeah, I talked to Alex down in interrogation and she says it’s a done deal.  With all the evidence, she’s sure he’ll go away for a long time. His brother, too, when we catch him.”

 

“Good, now maybe we can relax a little, before something else comes along.”

 

*****

 

At C.D.’s that evening, Walker, Trivette, Alex and C.D. sit together in a booth celebrating the capture of the arms dealer. After much talking and good-natured ribbing, the party breaks up as C.D. leaves to tend the bar, and Trivette spies a pretty girl and ends up dancing with her, leaving Alex and Walker, alone in the booth.

 

“Walker, I still haven’t tried that new recipe yet, and I still need a guinea pig. Would you be interested in coming over for dinner, say, tomorrow evening?”

 

“Sure, what time should I come?” As he looks into her eyes he sees a promise of what the future could hold.

 

“Oh, around seven?” She smiles at him as she sees the look in his eyes turn soft.

 

Trivette comes back to the booth long enough to say goodnight, then leaves with the girl he was dancing with.  Walker stands and Alex slides out of the booth, “I’ll walk you to your car.”

 

With his arm around her waist, they weave their way through the dancers and out the door to her car. He opens the door as she turns to face him, “Are your nightmares gone? You looked pretty refreshed this morning.”

 

“Well, they stayed away last night, so maybe they are gone. But you still be careful, okay?” He moves closer as he’s talking.

 

“I’m always careful.” She places her hands on his chest as he leans in to touch his lips to hers.  He takes her in his arms pulling her closer, then his mouth covers hers in a deep penetrating kiss, that leaves them both breathless. He pulls back, kisses her softly, “Goodnight, Alex.”

 

He steps back as she gets into the car, then shuts the door, “Goodnight, Walker. Sweet dreams.”

 

He watches as she drives away, then turn goes to the Ram, and heads for the ranch. ‘I hope they’re sweet dreams and not the nightmare.’

 

*****

 

“What’s up Walker?  I thought this was a mop up day. Why are you here so early?” He walks up to Walker’s desk standing in front of it. As Walker looks up to answer him, Trivette sees the exhausted look back in his eyes.

 

“I just thought I’d get an early start on the paper work, Trivette. I’ve got some things to take care of this afternoon, so I’ll probably take off early. Okay?”

 

“Yeah, whatever, no problem.” He turns around and with a shake of his head, sits down in front of his computer. ‘It’s a good thing this is a light work day.’

 

Walker’s concentration is almost non-existent, after many erasures and wadded up papers he finally finishes at 12:30. He throws the folder in his out basket, grabs his hat and leaves before Trivette can get a word out. He’s still staring at the door when Alex comes in looking as puzzled as he feels.

 

“Jimmy, what’s with Walker? He went down the hall so fast I thought the devil himself was after him.”

 

“I’m not sure, Alex. It doesn’t look like he got any rest at all last night. He looked really bad this morning.”

 

“Oh, Jimmy, I was afraid of that. He’s got to do something. He can’t go on like this.”

 

“I know what you mean. I keep looking for him to take off for the reservation, like he usually does when he gets like this.” He turns back to his computer. “I don’t know what’s keeping him here this time.”

 

Alex starts to say something, then stops, as the impact of what Jimmy said hits her. ‘I know why he’s still here. Me. He’s afraid something is going to happen to me.’ She turns around slowly and walks, as if in a trance, back to her office.

 

Back at her desk, she calls C.D. to see if Walker is there but C.D. hasn’t seen him. She calls out to the ranch, no answer. ‘Where are you, Walker?’ She picks up her cup of coffee and walks to the window, wondering if he will show for dinner tonight. She’s almost sure he’ll be there. As she starts to turn, a bright flash catches her eye. Looking down, she sees Walker’s truck parked in the back lot, in the row behind her car. ‘That’s why he’s still here, he’s made himself my body guard.’ At least she knows where he is. She smiles, realizing that with these actions he’s showing her he really cares about her. ‘Tonight, I’ve got to get him to talk to me.’

 

The rest of the day drags.  Being worried about Walker and the many trips to the window to see if the Ram is still out there, she doesn’t get much work done. At 5:00 o’clock, she walks out of the building to her car, trying not to look at the Ram as she gets in and drives home.

 

At 7:00 o’clock, a knock on the door tells Alex that Walker has arrived. Looking through the peephole to be sure, she opens it to let him in. “Hi, cowboy.” She sees the haggard look and then notices that he is still wearing the same clothes that he had on that morning, telling her that he had followed her home and waited outside till 7:00.

 

“Hi” He replies as he walks in and moves over to the couch and sits down.

 

“Dinner will be ready in few minutes. Make yourself comfortable. Would you like a cup of coffee?”

 

“Sure.”

 

When she comes back from the kitchen with the coffee, he is standing on the balcony, starring out over the city. He jumps as she touches his arm, turns to take the cup, and raises it to his lips.

 

“Walker, are you all right? The nightmare has returned, hasn’t it?”

 

Still starring out over the city, unable to look at her, he nods, “I’m afraid so. But I don’t want to talk about it, okay?”

 

“Okay, if that’s what you want. But will you answer me one question then I won’t say anything else about it?”

 

He turns then, and sees the worry for him in her eyes, “If I can.”

 

“In the past when you got like this, you always took off for the reservation until you were able to sort through what was bothering you. Why haven’t you gone this time?”

 

She watches him as his face goes through a series of subtle changes, his mouth opens to speak then closes as he turns away from her, walking back into the living room.  He places the cup on the coffee table. She follows him afraid that he is going to leave. He turns suddenly, causing her to almost bump into him. He places his hands on her shoulders, looks into her eyes, “Alex, come with me, let’s get out of here, please?”

 

She’s stunned by the intensity of his look and unable to speak, just nods her head. He takes her hand and starts toward the door. “Wait.” She rushes back to the kitchen, to shut everything off, then returns as he opens the door.

 

He drives around for almost an hour then finally stops by the park. Letting him take his time, Alex sits quietly waiting for his next move. Several minutes pass before he opens his door and gets out; Alex slides out right behind him. He takes her hand and they start walking at a fast pace into the park that’s dark except for pole lights scattered throughout. His rapid pace slows as he realizes that he can’t outrun the thoughts in his mind. He finally stops at the railing that overlooks a fountain and turns to face Alex.  Taking her hands in his,  “Do you remember when you had those dreams of me getting shot at in that cocaine warehouse?”

 

“Yes, I remember.  Every time you went out on a call, I was scared to death.”

 

“Well, that’s a little of what mine have been like. Only…I’m with you when it happens. A man is chasing you with a knife and when I run toward you it’s like I’m in slow motion.  Then just before I wake up, I see…” He pulls her close wrapping his arms tightly around her, “ I see… a tombstone…that has your name on it.”

 

She doesn’t move, letting him hold her tight against him, knowing that he needs the reassurance that she still exists. His arms finally ease their grip on her and she leans back looking into his eyes, seeing the unshed tears.  “Walker, a dream is only a look at what might happen, not what will happen.  It must have been terrible for you, but I’m still here and I’ll be here for as long as you need me.”

 

“These dreams started when I let you creep into my heart, let you get close to me.” He says as he pulls her close again.

 

“Dreams can show us what the future might hold for us but it’s up to us whether we make those dreams come true or not. We can’t let dreams dictate our actions or keep us from living. You can’t do it and neither can I.”

 

“I know.  I’ve really let this dream get to me. I’ve had bad dreams before and I’ve always managed to shake them off. But this one was about someone close to me. You!”

 

She touches his lips softly with hers and then she feels him go limp in her arms, as someone grabs her arm and starts pulling her away from Walker who is moaning on the ground, dazed but not unconscious. She starts screaming his name and she can see him struggling to get to his knees, trying to shake off the blow to the back of his head.  When he finally gets to his feet, still dazed, he immediately starts looking around for her. She breaks away from the man and starts running back toward Walker, who is stumbling toward her. As he watches, he sees something shiny in the stranger’s hand, a knife!  He starts to panic, drawing his gun but unable to shoot because Alex is between him and the stranger. When Alex is almost within reach, the stranger brings the knife down, Walker throws himself at Alex, taking her to the ground with him. As he rolls with her, he sees the stranger coming after them again. Walker fires his gun hitting the stranger just as the knife is thrown, then he quickly covers Alex with his body. He feels the knife enter his body as he loses consciousness.

 

*****

Walker slowly opens his eyes and the first thing he sees is Alex, asleep, her head resting on the bed next to his hand. As he looks around, he sees that he’s in a hospital room with the lights turned down low. He moves his hand to touch Alex’s hair and winces at the pull of muscles and the dull ache that comes from the action. Once he has confirmed the fact that Alex is still alive, he closes his eyes and lets his body relax.

 

When he opens his eyes again, Alex is holding his hand and smiling down at him. She leans down and kisses him lightly on the lips, thankful he’s going to be all right.

 

“Are you…?” She kisses him quickly again.

 

“Shh…. Don’t talk. Just listen. I’ll try not to leave anything out.”

 

He slowly nods his head, still groggy from the pain medication.

 

“The man was Bobby Peterson. He saw us enter the park and he thought that if he could kidnap me he could get you to release his brother.”

 

“Where is…” Alex silences him with a finger to his lips.

 

“He’s dead. You shot him just as he threw the knife.”

 

“You’re not…”

 

“No, the knife hit you after you covered me with your body.  I really thought I’d lost you when I saw that knife in your back. We were lucky, though, a patrolman was close enough that he heard the shot and came to check it out. He called 911 and they got to you before you lost too much blood.

 

In a hoarse voice, “That was my nightmare, playing itself out.”

 

“I guess you could say that. The difference is that it was almost your name on that tombstone.” She leans down and kisses him softly on the lips just as Trivette and C.D. walk into the room.

 

“Man, I’d almost be willing to take a knife if I could get a kiss like that from a pretty girl.” He smiles at Walker, knowing that his partner is a lucky man, in more ways than one.

 

The End