Wings Of An Angel
Ranger Cordell Walker awakes to the cries of his four-month-old daughter. He glances at the alarm clock, 7:14. He sighs, Angela has slept longer than usual, but they were both up late the night before.
He walks barefoot across the hall into the nursery, picking his daughter up and holding her close to his bare chest.
"Heyyyyy" he says softly, "what's the matter my angel---bad dream?"
Angela continues to scream, she doesn't want her bottle and her diaper is dry. The baby is crying uncontrollably, her little face is turning red. Walker continues to talk to her, getting a cool rag and wiping her face. The phone is ringing off the hook as he tries to quiet his daughter and answer the phone at the same time. He stumbles over the luggage near the bassinet as he reaches for the phone.
"Hello … what? You got to speak up, I can't hear you, the baby is crying!"
Trivette's voice is low, barely audible, "Walker----turn your TV on."
Walker is still trying to console Angela, she screams even louder.
"Trivette---I don't have time to watch TV, Angela is crying------I don't know what's wrong with her."
"Walker----the world trade center is being hit by hi-jacked planes----thousands are presumed dead!"
Walker strains to hear his partner over Angela's screams, "What?---Hijacked planes----from where?"
Trivette's voice breaks as he tries to continue, "Walker----two of the planes-----were from the Boston area,-----going to L.A."
The Ranger feels his legs about to buckle under him; his heart is beating so fast he can hear it through his bare chest. He looks down at his daughter, her screams getting louder. He shakes his head back and forth as he lays his screaming daughter down into her bassinet. He can hear Trivette yelling to him.
"Walker?----Are you there partner---talk to me, man!"
The words come out choked, "I'm here-----I'm going to turn the TV on."
The scenes from the World Trade Center are being shown over and over. The planes going into the building, the announcer's voice is shaking as the flight numbers are being flashed across the screen.
"Airlines flight 11 has hit the North tower----oh my God, another plane is heading straight for the south tower----flight 175 from Boston to L.A."
Walker is staring at the TV as the flight number is being repeated, his face turns white, the phone is crushed inside his hand. His face is tight, his chest heaves, as he whispers "Alex."
Trivette has heard the phone's silence as he hurriedly re-dials the number. Walker hears the phone in the hallway ringing; Angela continues to cry. He walks back to the nursery in a trance, picking his daughter up and rocking her back and forth in his arms. The phone continues to ring; he ignores it.
Angela's tears mix with his, as he continues to walk around in a daze, saying Alex's name over and over.
He hears a voice calling out to him and coming up the stairs.
"Walker?-----It's Erika------where are you?"
Erika is running up the stairs, she passes the master bedroom and then looks into the nursery. Walker is staring out the window, holding Angela, she's still screaming at the top of her lungs. Erika walks towards them slowly and reaches out for Angela. Walker has her in a death grip, not wanting to let her go.
Erika speaks softly, "Let me have Angela, ---Walker----let me have her----please?"
Reluctantly, Walker lets Erika take his daughter. He stares back at Erika with dead eyes and then to Angela, "She's gone------your Mother is ---gone."
Erika says nothing as she takes Angela and tries to quiet her. Walker starts pacing around the room, his fists folding and unfolding, mumbling. Erika has never seen him like this, she hopes Trivette will get there soon.
Walker goes to the window, putting his fist through it---his hand draws back in a bloody mess.
"It's my fault----I insisted that she go to Boston." He screams and hits the window again, "A L E X----Alex."
Trivette and Gage come running up the stairs, they see Walker hitting the window and they grab his arms.
"Walker!-----Stop it---this won't bring her back." Trivette yells through tears.
Walker is fighting his friends and the three of them fall into the floor as Gage literally sits on Walker's chest and Trivette holds his arms down. Walker is kicking out with his feet, his strength weakening as his body and his mind go back to 72 hrs earlier.
"Honey, are you sure about this?"
Walker and Alex are at DFW airport, her flight to Boston is boarding. He reaches out and takes her in his arms as she's holding Angela. He kisses her softly.
"Yes, I'm sure. Don't you think I'm perfectly capable of taking care of our daughter alone for a couple of days?"
She touches his beard, "Yes----I'm just so unsure about this----I hate being away from you two----the reunion is not that important."
He takes her hand and kisses it, "Alex, we've been over this----go to your reunion, and then spend some time with your Dad. Angela and I will be fine, then call me and let me know what time your flight will be landing in L.A., and Angela and I will fly out and meet you there, then we can get started on that vacation---okay?"
Alex looks at her daughter, "Maybe I should take Angela with me----she can be a handful at times----and you got the ranch to run----and-------"
"Honey----it's been settled----You need to spend time with your Dad while he's recuperating from his operation, you missed your college reunion last year because you were pregnant----you may as well fly out a couple of days earlier and enjoy yourself----okay?"
The last call for boarding is announced, but Alex is still hesitating. Walker takes Angela and gently prods Alex to the loading gate.
"Call me as soon as you get to Boston, tell "Grandpa" hello for Angela and for me-----I love you and try not to worry about us, will you do that?"
Alex pouts her lips, "I can't stop worrying, it's my nature to worry."
Walker laughs and kisses her long and tender and then he holds their daughter up
for Alex to kiss her goodbye.
Walker watches as Alex disappears down the loading ramp.
Alex calls that night.
Walker is giving Angela her bath as the phone rings. "I'll bet that's mommy, what you want to bet, my angel?"
"Alex, what are you doing back from the reunion so quick, you sure didn't stay very long?"
"I stayed as long as I cared to, I just miss you two----you know this is the first time I've been away from you two since Angela was born?"
Walker smiles, he's holding the phone on his shoulder up to his ear and taking Angela out of her little bathtub. "Hold on hon, while I dry our little blue eyed alarm clock off--- she's as slippery as an eel. "
He dries his daughter off and dresses her in her little sleeping gown, then he holds the phone up to Angela's ear. "Say something to your daughter."
"Hi sweetheart----are you being good for Daddy?"
Angela's answer is a spit bubble, Walker laughs.
"I guess you heard that, she's spitting at you. Yes, she's been real good, taking her bottle without a fuss, she's hardly cried at all."
Alex is silent, "I don't know whether to be happy about that or what, are you saying----you two can get along without me?"
"Honey----you know I didn't mean it that way----we miss you and we can't wait to be with you in L.A.. I have all the bags packed, and as soon as you tell me what time your flight will be landing, I'll make our flight plans, and then, the three of us will be on our way to Hawaii!"
"I'm counting the days---no make that hours."
Walker is now lying down, putting Angela on his chest while balancing her bottle. He looks over to Alex's side of the king size bed.. "That makes two of us, this bed seems so much bigger and twice as lonesome without you here beside me."
Alex starts to get misty, "I know, I hate sleeping alone----it will take me forever to fall asleep tonight without having you to cuddle up to----I miss having your arms around me as I sleep."
"Well, your daughter is not having any trouble sleeping---she's already sound asleep, laying on top of my chest. ---just like someone else I know."
Alex smiles, "She knows a good thing----honey I got to go, I want to spend a little more time with my Dad before visiting hours are over."
"How is your Dad?"
"He's doing fine----he's already talking about returning to work, he's driving me crazy asking questions about the cases I've taken over for him---of course he's upset that he's not getting to see his granddaughter."
"Alex, you know you wouldn't be able to do anything if Angela was with you. Leaving her with a babysitter is out of the question, we both give that a big "thumbs down" about leaving her with stRangers."
"I know sweetheart, kiss her goodnight for me, I will call the same time tomorrow night and give you the flight number and arrival time----I love you."
Sunday night, Sept.9th:
Walker ranch: The phone rings.
"I honey----just calling to give you the flight number."
Walker reaches for a pen, "Okay, what is it?"
"I'll be leaving Logan Airport at 8:14 on flight 175. I'm due to land at L.A. around 11 am, L.A. time---you got all that?"
Walker smiles, "Yeah hon, I’ve got it written down. I’ll call and make our flight arrangements as soon as I hang up. I will try to get a flight that will get us in there sometime after 3pm, Angela's Dr. appointment is at noon."
"How is she doing, does she miss Mommy?"
"Alex, she's fine and yes, she misses you---so do I. "
"Okay, just make sure that Dr. Bates gives you plenty of medicine, in case Angela should get queasy from her first airplane ride---honey I got to go, they're running more tests on my Dad---I'll call you tomorrow."
"It's going to be hard getting in touch with me tomorrow, not only do I have Angela's Dr. Appointment, I got to go by the bank, and get some cash. Leave a message, and I'll call you back."
Monday night; Sept 10th, 11pm:
Walker is busy taking the luggage downstairs; he's trying to follow the list of things to pack for Angela that Alex made out for him. He looks at the luggage, shaking his head, "I didn't realize that 4 month old babies required so much packing----of course the way Alex makes out a list---you would think we would be gone for a month instead of one week."
The rest of the night is spent getting the house in shape, picking up Angela's toys and mainly getting the living room back into order. Walker checks all of the bottles, to make sure he has enough to carry on the plane. He has her medicine packed inside her carry-on bag, and lots of pampers. He looks around the room, going over in his mind about what all is packed. He snaps his finger.
"Can't forget, Amigo," and he runs back up the stairs to Angela's crib and takes a stuffed animal out. It's a exact replica of a pinto, almost the same color markings as his favorite horse, Amigo.
Walker bought it for Angela when she was first born and she slept with it in her crib, every night. When squeezed, it would make a soft neigh; Angela would kick and squirm every time Walker would squeeze it.
Alex would tease him, "Did you buy that for Angela or yourself?"
The phone rings:
"I honey, I'm getting ready to turn in---just wanted to say goodnight and tell my two favorite people how much I love them----are you packed and ready to go?"
"Yes, got all the bags packed---our flight will get us into L.A. at 2:18---I'll see you at the hotel----bye---we love you."
Walker is still fighting to get up, Gage rolls off of him. Trivette sees Walker's fist covered in blood. He runs to the bathroom to get a rag. Walker waves him off, "My hands are fine----leave me alone!"
Trivette grabs his right fist, "Is Gage going to have to sit on you again---now let me see that hand!"
Walker sits down in the rocker, his left hand going to his head, his shoulders shaking as he looks to his daughter as she is still crying.
He motions for Erika to bring his daughter to him, "She knows something is wrong
with her Mother----she can feel it."
Angela continues to cry as Walker holds her to him, his own tears falling down
"Walker,---you will need stitches in this one hand----you got a nasty gash across the knuckles."
Walker just stares back at him, his eyes are lifeless. "It doesn't matter," he mumbles, "nothing matters anymore----it's all my fault---she didn't want to go----I insisted that she go."
Erika walks over to Walker, putting her arms around him, "It's not your fault----stop blaming yourself----Alex would not want to hear you talking like this."
Angela is still screaming as Erika takes her from her daddy. Walker's hands go up to his face, his friends watch him for a second and then Trivette motions for them to leave the nursery. He follows them and then he turns to look at his partner, Walker's whole body trembles, the tears he can't control.
Erika is still trying to quiet Angela, "I don't know what to do----she acts like something has scared her-----she's literally shaking."
Trivette touches his Goddaughter, "Walker said that she senses something has happened to Alex----I don't know----maybe she has that Cherokee intuition, too."
The TV is still blaring with the news about the planes hitting the towers.
Gage sighs, "Oh my God, now they're saying another plane has been hijacked---and the pentagon has been hit."
Erika walks towards the TV, Trivette looks back at his partner. His hands are still covering his face. Trivette can hear the muffled cries. He thinks of Alex, and then he, too, starts to cry.
The TV is showing panic-stricken people running down the streets as the ball of smoke and debris are falling everywhere. Screams are being heard as someone yells out that "It's the end of the world."
Trivette is leaning against the doorway, trying to control his emotions. Erika is holding Angela close to her, as Angela 's cries are tapering. Trivette watches as Walker bolts up from the rocker and runs into the bedroom, grabbing his boots.
"Walker----what are you doing?"
"I'm not staying here----I'm going to New York --------I got to find her body-----I got to find her."
Gage shakes his head as he looks to Trivette and back to the TV screen, "There's
nothing left--------there's nothing left----the towers are collapsing."
Trivette tries to talk to Walker, he's not listening as he grabs his shirt and heads for the door, Trivette and Gage are trying to stop him, the phone rings.
While Trivette and Gage are trying to stop Walker, Erika answers the phone. Angela has stopped crying all together.
The three men stop fighting as Walker looks back to Erika.
"Alex!" He screams running to the phone. "Alex----is it really you? Are you okay?"
"Walker-----I am so scared-----everything is so crazy-------planes have hit the trade center and the pentagon, people are dead----Walker-------I'm shaking so bad, I can hardly stand------oh God."
Walker too is finding it hard to stand, "Alex----just tell me that you're okay----honey, where are you?"
"I'm at the hospital with my Dad----Boston General----oh God, this place is like a battle zone, there are so many doctors and nurses running around----people are hurt and bleeding!"
"Alex---listen to me---stay right there at the hospital---I'm coming to get you----stay on your cell phone, don't break contact with me----keep talking."
Alex is crying, "Please hurry, Walker----I am so scared----is Angela okay----oh God, I want to hold the two of you so badly------Walker---please come and get me."
"I'm on my way Alex---right now---I'm coming to get you."
Walker starts throwing some bags into the back of his Ram, the radio is blaring about more attacks could be expected. Trivette comes running out and trying to get Walker to stop long enough to put bandages on his hands.
"All flights have been cancelled-------another plane crashed outside of Pittsburgh."
Erika comes running out of the ranch house, "It's crazy-----people are running around chanting it's the end of the world-----Jimmy, headquarters is wanting the three of you back there---right now. The country is on full alert-----they're talking WAR."
Gage and Trivette start running to Trivette's Mustang, "Erika---get Angela and head for the emergency fall out center."
Erika turns to run back inside the house, but Walker stops her.
"Angela is going with me."
Erika looks at him in total confusion, "What?"
Walker reaches in the back of the Ram and pulls Angela's baby seat to the front,
"I said----my daughter is going with me!"
Erika runs behind Walker as he's running up the stairs to get Angela.
"Walker----you're crazy---you can't take her with you----I will take care of Angela."
Walker has reached the nursery and he picks up the small bag that he kept stumbling over the night before. He reaches down and picks his daughter up, she has fallen into a peaceful sleep, she barely stirs as Walker puts her to his chest and starts downstairs.
Erika is still trying to talk him out of taking Angela.
"Walker----it's over a thousand miles to Boston, endless miles of driving for you, you can't be worried about taking care of a baby---leave her here---please!"
Walker refuses to listen as he straps Angela down into the baby carrier. "Erika-----I have made up my mind---I'm taking Angela with me---watch her for a moment please, there are some more things I have to pack, I'll be right back!"
Erika watches as Walker comes out carrying a refrigerated ice chest that will hold Angela's formulas, and her medicine. He has papers sticking out of his shirt, he shoves them into the glove compartment.
"What are those papers?"
"Angela's birth certificate---just in case."
"In case of what?"
"I'm going to be crossing state lines, searches will be made, I just want to be prepared."
He checks under his seat for the gun that he carries, a16 gauge shotgun goes over the back window. He checks his side arm. He looks at Erika and puts his arms around her.
"With all that's going on, you need to be with Trivette---I know you must be worried about your own Father----you don't need to be worried about Angela. She's going to be fine with me------and if all of this talk is true that we're going to war and that ‘it's the end of the world’ I want my daughter with me. We have to find Alex together---we have to be together----do you understand that?"
Erika smiles, wiping her tears away, "Yes--------you just be careful, don't worry about the ranch and the animals---Jimmy and I will take care of them----you just find Alex and the three of you come home."
Walker kisses her cheek, "We will------take care."
Erika watches as the gray truck goes down the long driveway, "Goodbye----may God bless and keep you both safe."
Walker and Angela have been on the road for about three hours now, crossing into
Arkansas. The traffic has been normal, but Walker knows that as the days wears on, traffic will start picking up with frightened motorists trying to get home to their loved ones. He has the radio on, listening to all the news; they now believe that the fourth plane was heading for the white house or Air Force One. His cell phone rings.
"Alex----is that you?"
"Yes, honey ---where are you?"
"I just crossed into Arkansas about half hour ago----what's wrong, are you okay?"
"Walker----who is taking care of Angela, is she with Erika?"
Walker looks down at his sleeping daughter, "Alex----Angela is fine----she's here with me."
Alex is crying softly, "Somehow, I just knew that she would be---and I'm relieved. I would be so worried about her being in Dallas and worried about you being on the road."
"Well, under the circumstances, I wasn't leaving her behind-----the people in Dallas have gone crazy, some idiots are screaming about the world ending----if it ends---the three of us will be together!"
"Well so far I haven't heard any of that garbage-----Walker, is she okay?"
"She has slept most of the time that we've been on the road, she wakes up long enough to take her bottle and then she's out again. I got the ice chest plugged into the cigarette lighter for her formulas and her medicine---Alex--she's fine, stop worrying."
"Okay, I'm trying."
"Honey, you said that the injured were being taken to Boston General, the injured from the New York area?"
"No, I meant the injuries from right around here. There have been racial attacks on all of the people that are of Arabic origin, everyone is so angry! Reports of "road rage" have motorists running each other off the roads----Walker----it is so scary. The hospital has all kinds of police security surrounding it, as most of them do. The Drs and nurses are all standing by, in case they're needed, not only here, but in New York."
"I know hon, I'm listening to the radio now. They say the fourth plane was heading for the white house. ------Alex, is your Dad okay?"
"You know my Dad and how stubborn he is, he's trying to get out of that hospital bed, saying he wants to help the people. He's even wanting to go to New York and
volunteer to help with the rescue operations."
Walker smiles, Gordon Cahill was one stubborn old man all right, Walker knows where Alex gets her stubbornness. He nods his head.
"Yeah, I know---I've wanted to be there, too. I hear that hundreds of firefighters and policemen have lost their lives so far----I feel for their families. I know how I felt when I thought you were in that plane, I didn't want to live any longer-----and if it hadn't been for our daughter I would have-------"
"Honey---stop it---I don't want to hear that kind of talk. We both know that if anything happened to either of us----that we would continue for Angela's sake---please let's talk about something else!"
Walker has to clear his throat, he reaches down and touches his daughters' face, "Okay, hon----I just need to know where you will be, I want you to call me very hour---or even more, I have to keep hearing your voice. Our daughter and I have a very long drive ahead of us----and I need to hear your voice to keep me going."
Alex has returned from the ladies' room and has changed into her pajamas. She will be staying in her Dad's hospital room.
The TV is still blaring with reports as has been the case all day and will continue non-stop. Gordon Cahill is cursing under his breath, tears in his eyes.
Alex looks at him and gently takes the remote away from him.
"Dad-----please try and get some sleep---this is all too upsetting to you---the Dr. want you to rest."
"I'll rest when they find out who's responsible for all this----it's got to be that Bin Laden, ----and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that ---that other SOB, what's his name---Hussein---whatever he calls himself, that he's in on it?"
Alex sighs, "I know who you're talking about----but Dad, it will probably be years before they find out for sure who is responsible."
Gordon Cahill snickers, "I would love to be the one to prosecute him----what do you say, pumpkin, you and me---CAHILL vs. Bin Laden?"
Alex smiles faintly, "You mean Cahill-Walker----right?"
Gordon smiles, taking his daughters' hand, "Yep!-----Did you talk to that husband of yours----is he still on his way?"
"Yes, Dad ----and I have a surprise for you---he has Angela with him."
Gordon's face lights up, "Are you serious? ----Pumpkin, it's over 1700 miles to Dallas, how on earth can that man concentrate on all that driving and have a four month old baby with him?"
Alex starts fluffing her Dad's pillow and coaxing him to lay back.
"Dad, you know Walker well enough by now that he doesn't know the meaning of the word ‘can't’, even if I had wanted talk him out of bringing Angela on such a long drive, he wouldn't listen! And frankly, I'm relieved that she's with him, I can't see her being with anyone more protective of her than her own father----don't you want to see your granddaughter?"
"You know I do honey, I haven't seen her since she was first born----just the pictures that you send me."
"And---who's fault is that----Walker and I have been trying to get you to come for a visit----but you're always too busy."
Gordon says nothing as he looks at his daughter and then to the TV.
"Well, that's going to change----with all that's happened today and what may happen, it's time I started spending more time with you and your family-----as soon as this has all died down, I will come for a visit----I promise."
"It might be awhile ----they've closed all the airports----but I'm holding you to that promise."
The nurse comes in to give Alex's Dad another shot to help him sleep. He makes a
face at the nurse as she turns to leave.
He looks to Alex and nods towards the nurse, "SHE---would be the perfect weapon
to let loose on Bin Laden---she loves shoving those needles in me!"
The TV is showing the pictures of the two planes hitting the towers, each time they're shown, Alex has to look away. Gordon reaches out for his daughter, feeling her fear. She lays down on the bed beside him, shaking.
"Daddy----I was so close to getting on that plane-----five more minutes and I would have been on that doomed flight-----I wouldn't ever see any of you again, oh, God----I wish Walker and Angela were here right now-----I can't wait to have my arms around them----- I just feel so guilty----Daddy hold me."
"I'm holding you, pumpkin----everything will be alright------and you got nothing to feel guilty about. Remember how I used to hold you when there was a bad storm, are you still afraid of the thunder?"
Alex squeezes her Dad tighter, "No, Daddy----not anymore."
Alex drifts in and out of sleep, she remembers the first time that she was in Walkers' arms during a thunderstorm and he teased her. He could soon see that she was truly afraid of the thunder and she would lay in his arms and he would explain the technical version of how everything came together, to which she would nod her head----not knowing what the heck he was talking about.
Angela is starting to get fussy as Walker pulls into a restaurant to get something to eat and to change her.
The restaurant is a truck stop, advertising the best beef stew in the state of Tennessee. Walker's stomach is growling, he hasn't had anything to eat all day, just stopping long enough to keep his thermos filled, giving Angela her bottle, burping her, another pamper change and then he's back on the road. Now he needs to go to the men's room.
Without thinking he heads straight for the restroom carrying Angela in her little carrier. He walks inside and then it dawns on him that he can't take Angela in there.
He needs to use a urinal bad; as he hesitates back and forth. He looks down at his daughter, she's starting to whimper, soon that Walker temper will be full blast, so he has to make a decision soon.
"I can't take you into a place like that----what would Mommy do? She always takes you into the women's restroom with her, they're equipped with diaper changing stations and such-----and women's restrooms are cleaner than the men's----so I been told. What do I do, Angel?"
Walker takes a deep breath, "There's only one thing to do-----I got to use the head, I take you with me. Close your eyes Angela, sometimes these places can be a little "scary" ---- for a little girl."
Walker walks in, all the urinals are being used, as all of the men turn and stare at him. Angela has decided that it's time to exercise her lungs, and she lets everyone know that she has arrived. Walker waits patiently till one of the urinals becomes empty and then he starts walking towards it. The men all step back, some of them with their zippers still down. Walker looks at them and then to his screaming daughter.
One of the truckers slaps his friend and tells them all to zip up, "Hey-----you perverts ----we got a baby here----get decent!"
They're all staring at Walker and then to Angela, a couple of the men edge closer, Walker steps back from the urinal. He can't do anything with everyone staring. He reaches down and takes Angela out of the carrier, and then he looks around for somewhere to change her. One of the younger men walks up to him.
"Mister-----the diaper changing areas are in the women's restroom----shouldn't the baby's Mother have her in there?"
Walker sighs, "We're traveling alone."
Two big truckers walk towards Walker giving him the "once over", a big black dude weighing at least 300 lbs. glares at Walker, pushing his shoulder back.
"Hey----you're not one of those baby nappers----are you?"
Another man walks up behind him, "Yeah Tiny---he looks a little suspicious acting."
"Look guys---this is my daughter, all I'm trying to do is get her changed, give her another bottle and we'll be on our way----I got no time to be answering a lot of questions!"
The one called Tiny continues to stare at Walker, "How do we know that she's your daughter---where's her Mama---why ain't she with her Mama?"
Walker is getting impatient and Angela is still screaming. He reaches into his back pocket and takes out his badge, and shows them a picture of Angela when she was first born.
"If I were a kidnapper, would I be carrying around her baby picture?"
The four guys edge closer, "That picture don't mean nothing----you could be stealing her from her Mama----what they call it----child custody?"
They circle Walker as Angela continues to scream louder.
The veins are starting to pop out on Walker's forehead; his face is getting red. "I am telling you for the last time, my daughter needs to be changed---and she's hungry----can we discuss this later?"
Walker starts taking out a washcloth, talcum powder, some baby cream, and another pamper. He wets the rag with warm water and attempts to wash Angela's face. The four men watch him and the younger man reaches over and offers to hold Angela up while Walker gives her a sponge bath.
The young man smiles, "Guess I'd better get used to this, my wife and I are expecting."
Walker smiles back at him, "Thanks. When is your wife due?"
"In another month."
The big man named Tiny bellows out----"That's no way to hold a baby," he pushes the young man out of the way, "here----let me show you."
The big man holds Angela up and then when Walker is through with the sponge bath, he reaches for the baby cream. They all watch as Walker smoothes the cream on her little behind, and then dusts her with talcum powder. The men all make "gooing" sounds as they all crowd around, making it very difficult for Walker to put the little sleeping gown on his daughter with bandaged hands. The young trucker grabs one of her bottles and runs out with it, "I'll have the waitress warm this up for her."
Angela is still crying as Walker holds her up to his chest, and the three men are wanting to hold her.
Tiny yells at them, causing Angela to jump----"Get back you idiots-----you don't know nothing about holding no baby."
The men start to argue, "I do too know about babies-----I have three nephews."
"Yeah----me too, I got a couple of kids."
The young man comes running back with the bottle, "I got it warmed up."
Walker takes the bottle and gently puts it up to Angela, she takes it eagerly and goes into a soft rhythm of nursing. All of the men smile.
Walker is still in need of relieving himself; he looks at each of the men.
"I don't suppose I could get one of you to hold her long enough so that I could--------you know?"
All of the men reach out for her and Tiny pushes them all back, "I'll hold her----anyone got any objections?"
They all back up as Walker places Angela in the giant's arms. Angela looks so small, but she's perfectly content nestling inside his embrace.
The big man looks at Walker, "You go right ahead and take care of business---ain't nobody going hurt your little girl," he looks around at all the men, "I'll squash 'em if they so much as look at her cross-eyed."
Walker finishes his business and takes his daughter from the big man and places her back in her carrier. He thanks them and then he goes out to order something to eat, they follow him out. Other customers are watching them. The big man roars, "What's the matter with you people? Can't a Father take care of his kid?"
Walker takes a booth back in the corner, and the waitress comes to take his order, she keeps looking at Angela. Walker orders the stew and cornbread, with ice tea. Everyone is still watching the news. The young waitress has tears in her eyes.
"Miss-----have they found anymore survivors?"
She shakes her head, "No-----they thought they heard someone signaling for help----but it turned out to be a false alarm."
The waitress looks to Walker, "Are you traveling far?"
"Near Boston----to pick up my wife."
"Boston----that's where two of those planes were hijacked from."
Walker sighs softly, looking down at Angela, "Yeah---I know----my wife was suppose to have been on that second plane-----but thank God she didn't get on."
The waitress is choking back her tears---"I feel so sorry for all of those poor people-----those poor people and their families."
The four truckers keep turning around on their stools and looking back at Walker. The one called Tiny motions for the other three to follow him.
"Excuse me mister-----but the waitress says you're on your way to Boston, to get your wife?"
Walker is finishing his stew, as the waitress brings him more tea. He nods to the four men and they all sit down. Tiny pulls up a chair, since he can't fit into the booth.
The one called Tiny speaks first, "My partner Ben here and I came through New
York about 15 minutes before-----all hell broke loose."
Ben is tall and lanky, "Yeah----the whole sky lit up, and our rig shook so bad, I thought we were having a earthquake!"
The other two men shake their heads, "Yeah------- we was right behind them on the Jersey turnpike. It was horrible, all the smoke and soot coming down on us. Big balls of fire lighting up the sky, it was like being in Nam again."
The other big trucker nods his head, "But, in Nam, we knew who our enemy was------these were planes going into the World Trade Center-----we don't know who's doing this!"
Tiny bellows back at the man, "The hell we don't! It's that damn Arab----whatever the hell his name is!"
"We don't know that for sure, Tiny," replies Ben.
"Do any of you know what the traffic is like going into Boston? Is it congested---can I get though?"
Tiny shakes his head and takes out a piece of paper and starts writing.
"You won't have any trouble getting through, you going around to I-85?"
Walker shakes his head, "Nope-----I'm going straight through on 95 through the
Holland tunnel---if I can!"
Ben shakes his head, "I wouldn't advise it Ranger----these attacks might not be over yet, and if you go through there and they have a blackout-----you're going to be in tough shit!"
The other truckers start showing Walker another route.
"You're best bet is to go 85----it's a long ways out of your way, but we know it's passable. But, if you insist on 95----then cross at the Washington Bridge going towards the Bronx. Then take 87 north till you start seeing the sign to Boston."
"How much further to Boston from that point?"
"You'll be about 200 miles from your destination," answers the trucker named Sam.
Tiny hands Walker the piece of paper he was writing on, "Here---take this----if you have any trouble getting through that New York traffic----you just get on your CB and yell at these guys----they'll get you through----just tell them that your a friend of Tiny's, Ben Logan, Sam Caffe, and Tadpole's."
The other men nod their heads, "Yeah, just call up The Mississippi Flash-----and he and his buddies will give you a convoy."
Walker thanks the men, and shakes each of their hands.
"Thanks, I appreciate the help---both now----and in the men's room. If you ever make it to Dallas, look me up----my wife makes some of the best chili in Texas---she had a very good teacher-----and you won't leave hungry!"
The young trucker looks at Walker and then to Angela, "No thanks necessary, Ranger----all of us guys would like to be right there at ground zero, helping to get those people out of there----but since we can't-----we're just happy to be helping in any way we can----helping a fellow motorist."
All of the men nod their heads, "Yep---take care Ranger----and get that little girl to her Mama real soon."
The men all head to their rigs and Walker picks Angela up and heads to the cashier. The cashier puts her hands up, "Your meal has been taken care and so has the tip----is there anything else I can get you? Do you need some more milk or juice?"
Walker shakes his head, "No thanks Miss----I have plenty."
Walker and Angela are about an hour from the Virginia border, the long drive is making Angela fussy, and so Walker pulls over to a rest stop. He changes her again, but she's being fussy about taking her bottle and going back to sleep.
He starts walking with her, back and forth, talking to her constantly. A light rain starts to fall, and the two weary travelers get back into the Ram and continue their journey. Angela is laying facing her Daddy, as he continues to try and give her a bottle, she's just staring back at him.
The windshield wipers increase their speed as the rain comes down harder. Walker
slows down even more as he watches his daughter stare back at him, her blue eyes watching his every move. He lays the bottle down and touches her cheek, then takes her little hand in his. Her hand goes around his finger, and she softly "coos" at him.
"What was that?----Was that almost a smile----what's wrong my Angel, want Daddy
to just talk to you for awhile?-------Okay, what do you want to talk about?-----Let's see--------why don't I tell you about your grandparents?"
"Your Grandpa Gordon, you'll be seeing him real soon----and he will finish spoiling you rotten! There was your Grandpa C.D.----he didn't live long enough to see you come into the world, but he suspected you were on your way. ---- He and your great Uncle Ray were the ones that pushed your Mother and me together for so many years. They were our biggest supporters and yet---they both died before you were born. You got your "Shopaw"---White Eagle----and soon he will be crossing over too, he's not feeling too well , and when we get back we will go to visit him----would you like that Angela?"
"Then there is your Grandma Beth on your Mama's side----she died before you were born too, I never got to meet her----she died in a nursing home. Your grandparents on my side were John & Elizabeth Firewalker----they died when I was a young boy. You look a lot like your Grandmother Elizabeth, your hair is turning a light auburn, and you have your Mothers' blond highlights, and you've definitely got her eyes. Your Grandmother Elizabeth was a beautiful woman, sparkling blue/green eyes and long red hair, that slightly curled on the ends.
When she smiled, her whole face would light up, and her eyes would sparkle. Your
Mother's eyes do the same thing, and you are inheriting her infectious smile. That smile and those eyes were two of the things that attracted me to your Mama----of course there were other things too---like her long sexy legs----but we won't discuss that----okay, my Angel?"
"When I met your Mother, she reminded me of my Mother----I guess it's true a man
looks for a woman that has his Mother's traits. But, I never told Alex that she reminded me of my Mother----women get a little touchy on that subject----I don't know why. Women look for their "Father" in the men they want to marry and I can't count the times that your Mother has said I was stubborn---just like her Daddy-----So, you see Angela, a man can't win!-----And, it will be perfectly alright if the young man you decide to marry is like me-----but that better not be for another 30 yrs-----are you listening?"
Walker looks down at Angela, she's blowing spit bubbles back at him, her little hand tightening the grip on her Daddy's finger, as she squirms and looks back at him.
"Your Grandpa John Firewalker was a proud man, smart, and very loving. He was a full blooded Cherokee Indian, and he rode the rodeos; that's where he met your Grandmother Elizabeth. She was from Ireland, visiting here with a sister and they decided to go to their first Wild West rodeo. My Father would tell how they met, he saw her sitting in the stands and her red hair captivated him. He said he had never seen such "fire colored" hair. They were introduced; starting dating and then they married, which didn't set too good with her people or your Grandfather John's. Both families ‘shunned' them, and then when I was born, it got worse. Your Grandmother's people called me a ‘half breed savage’, the Cherokee just called me ‘half breed’."
"When my Father took me to visit his people, they didn't want your Grandmother around, they didn't treat me much better. The other kids would torment me, and soon I refused to go to the reservation. Your Grandmother's parents came to America and tried to take her back with them, they didn't want me along. My Mother refused to go, and soon my parents started traveling more, following the rodeo---that was their life. Then when my parents were killed, I was forced to go to the reservation or stay in an orphanage. That's when your great Uncle Ray came into my life and raised me as his own son."
The Cherokee still "shunned" me, and then when I was about twelve, I met your "Shopaw"-----White Eagle. I was shaking in my moccasins, Angela. I was so scared of him, he was the tribal chief and many of the braves feared him. His word was "law'---no one dared to challenge him.
He showed his strength in wisdom, and more of the mind than body---but he was not to be messed with in body force as well. I saw him fight many times when words would not 'fall the angry warrior" and the first time I faced him---I thought I would die of fright."
"All of the young boys were being prepared for adulthood. Our 13th summer was coming and we had to have not only our first kill, which was usually a deer----the ultimate was "bear" but we were going into "manhood". White Eagle would watch us from a distance, as we bragged about our "kill'. Our teacher was a very cruel man, and he did not approve of us wasting our arrows, we were only allowed one arrow for a deer, two for the bear. I wasn't very good with the bow and arrow, it took me three arrows to bring the deer down, my teacher was furious! He had us lined up, yelling at us, I wasn't the only one he was angry at. He would hit each of the boys in the stomach as hard as he could, the boys would fall to the ground trying to catch their breath. I saw White Eagle walking towards us, and then my teacher hit me in the stomach as hard as he could. I did not go down, he started to hit me again. I could hardly talk as I whispered, "If you hit me again----I will kill you."
"Well, Angela---that only made him angrier and he drew back to hit me again and that's when White Eagle stopped him. He stood in front of me, staring. He became angry with me for dis-obeying my teacher, I stood my ground and stared back at him though I thought I was going to die from fear. He asked if I was going to disobey him, was I going to raise my hand to him as well. I don't know where I got the nerve to say it, but I said "Yes----if you hit me----I will hit back".
White Eagle turned and walked away. In the future I would see him standing in the shadows watching me. Soon, he came to me and said he would give me guidance
from the spirits, and Uncle Ray would give me guidance on being a man. From that
day on White Eagle has always been there for me, he always knows when I'm troubled----he always comes to "son" that he never had. Through the years I've learned to love that man, there's nothing I wouldn't do for him. And---the first time that he held you, Angela----I saw tears-----tears of happiness."
The phone rings:
"No, Walker---it's me, Trivette-----how you doing partner?"
Walker sighs, "Getting a little sleepy----I'll be stopping for the night as soon as Alex calls."
"Where you at man, how's my goddaughter?"
Angela is still staring back at her daddy, and her eyes are starting to get heavy.
"Your goddaughter is fine, she's been a perfect traveling companion----we crossed into Virginia about 20 minutes ago. How is everything back there---are they still saying the world is going to end?"
Trivette laughs, "Just a lot of scared people, and a lot of questions being asked. Gage and I are at DFW; they got it closed up tighter than a drum. Syd is still in Denver, can't get out."
"Did Erika go to her Dad's?"
"Yeah, she didn't want to leave, but it looks like Gage and I will be pulling some long hours---so I made her go and be with her Dad, she should be there by now."
"Sorry, I bailed out on you guys---but I couldn't think of anything else but getting to Alex-----when I thought she was on that plane----I saw my whole world crashing!"
"No explanations needed man, besides you're suppose to be on vacation with your
family----the commander was upset at first---but he understands."
Walker nods his head, and tries to give Angela her bottle. "Well, I'm glad that he does understand, because it wouldn't matter one way or the other, I would still go after Alex and bring her home---job or no job!"
"Everything is okay, Walkman, I'll go by the ranch and check on things as soon
as my shift is over----I'll have Gage plow the field for you."
Walker laughs as he hears Trivette teasing Gage, "Hey-----just don't let him get near my barn again with that tractor-----barn doors are expensive----not to mention scaring my animals half to death!"
"Okay, partner---I'll let you go so you can talk to Alex, how is she doing?"
"She's trying to hide her fear, but I've got a funny feeling Trivette, that she's just about ready to lose it."
"Did you find out why she wasn't on that plane?"
"Trivette, I've just been so relieved that she wasn't! She doesn't want to talk about it on the phone, she says we'll talk when I get to Boston---and that's good enough for me."
"Okay, man, talk to you later----give Angela a kiss from her Uncle Jimmy."
"And, Uncle Gage," a voice yells out.
"Okay, you guys---talk to you tomorrow----be careful!"
No sooner than Walker hangs up from talking to his partner, then the phone rings again.
"Walker----honey---where are you now?"
Walker smiles, just her voice makes him all warm inside. "We're about a hour from Roanoke, we'll stop for a couple of hours and get some sleep."
"Walker, you need more than just a couple of hours of sleep----please get some rest---I don't want you falling asleep at the wheel."
Walker smiles, "I promise hon, Angela and I will stop at the next motel, and we'll get some rest, Can't guarantee I'll be getting much sleep----without you there beside me, taking up your half of the bed and mine too!"
"Is that a complaint?"
"If you were here, I would show you how much complaining I would do."
Alex purrs, "Ohhhh, I like the way you complain----OH! I almost forgot! Honey, they are going to release my Dad tomorrow, so we will be at the condo, you don't go into Cambridge, stay on 95 till you hit 09East to Huntington Ave, the address is 6161#3 Court---you got that?"
"Yeah hon, I got it written down----I'm glad you're Dad is being released, that means he's doing okay, right?"
"Actually, I think they are releasing him, because he is driving everyone crazy----the poor nurses are pulling their hair out. Now he's saying that he wants to be the one to prosecute Bin Laden!"
The Ranger smiles, "Yeah, I'll bet every lawyer in the US would like to have that honor----too bad the military attorneys will get that job."
"Walker, how is Angela doing, is she making the trip all right?"
"Yes Alex, she's been super-----we've met a lot of interesting people on this trip and as usual, our daughter has "charmed" them all, just like someone else I know."
"What kind of interesting people did she charm?"
Walker hesitates, and Alex repeats her question.
"Well, she "charmed" some truckers on the other side of Memphis----in the men's
"The men's room? Walker---please tell me you did not take her into the men's restroom."
"Alex, I didn't have a choice, what was I suppose to do, leave her outside the door?"
"You were at a restaurant, weren't you? Why didn't you ask one of the waitresses to hold her?"
"A complete stRanger!??---I don't think so-----besides I didn't think of it-----and she had her eyes closed."
Alex is silent for a long time, trying to picture in her mind, her four month old daughter in a men's restroom.
"Yes sweetheart I'm here-------so what happened?"
"Well, after they all got over the shock----everything was fine. They all helped me to get her changed, and fed, and they were all real nice guys----and they gave me some advice on how to get through that New York traffic, and I got some "help" waiting if I need it----also I told them to look us up if they ever got to Texas."
"Walker----you never fail to amaze me----I guess that's why I fell in love with you that first day I met you in the court room-----I just didn't realize it was love, I thought it was temporary insanity!"
Walker laughs, recalling that day. "I guess, I just charmed you right out of your high heels, huh, and that two piece suit you were wearing----now that was something to see in my mind- you--wearing nothing ----but a smile! I guess Angela gets her charm from me?"
Again Alex is silent.
"Alex----honey, what's wrong?----Are you sleeping any---honey I'm here if there is something you want to talk about?"
"I can't talk about it just yet----every time I close my eyes, I see those planes and I just start shaking. What those poor people must have been thinking in their final moments-------oh God---Walker---just hurry and get here---please~!"
"I'm coming Alex----we'll be there tomorrow evening----just keep calling me, as often as you want or need to-----I see a motel and Angela are stopping for the night. Call me around 6am,okay----good night hon----we love you."
5pm, east side of Philadelphia:
Walker has been driving almost non-stop since leaving Roanoke, Virginia. Angela has been sleeping most of the way, her little "Amigo" cuddled next to her. They stop at a little cafe, just on the outskirts.
The waitress that waits on them is a middle aged woman, very motherly and Walker has no second thoughts letting her take Angela into the women's restroom, ----this time.
The TV is still blaring with all the reports, the death count at the pentagon was first reported at 800, but now they are saying that part of the building was under construction, and was not fully occupied.
Walker is having cheeseburgers, and the waitress has Angela at the counter showing her off. She walks back to Walker, with tears in her eyes.
"You have got quite a little "charmer " here----she's got everyone captivated----even George----our cook."
Walker smiles and takes Angela, getting her bottle ready. "Yeah----she's got that knack for charming people----takes after her mother."
The waitress smiles, "She would be just about the age of my granddaughter, Tara."
Walker sees the tears in the woman's eyes as she keeps looking at Angela. "My name is Walker, my daughter and I are going just outside Boston to get my wife----this here is Angela."
The woman starts smiling, "My name is Effie-------can I please feed her?"
Walker moves over in the booth and the woman sits down, taking Angela. The woman can't stop crying as she suddenly excuses herself, handing Angela back to Walker, and running to the ladies' room.
Walker again starts getting Angela's bottle ready, the owner walks over to Walker's booth.
"Is there something wrong?-----Is she alright?"
The owner introduces himself as Stan and sits down.
He hesitates, and looks up at the TV set, -----"Effie's daughter is missing----she worked at the pentagon----in the section that was hit."
Walker sighs, "I'm so sorry-----has there been any news about any survivors?"
The man shakes his head, "It's not looking good----I tried to get Effie to stay home, but she insists on working---trying to keep her mind off things----that woman is a rock---I don't see how she's making it---not after all that she's been through in the last two years."
Walker looks at the man, "What do you mean?"
Stan pours them both a cup of coffee and watches as Walker tends his daughter, noticing how gentle he is with her.
"About 2 years ago, Effie's husband was killed in a mine cave-in, her son and granddaughter were killed in a car accident in June, now her daughter is missing----presumed dead."
Walker and Stan continue to talk as three young men enter the cafe. They are all dark-skinned, and looking around nervously, they approach the counter. Stan sees them and curses, he jumps up from the booth and stomps towards them.
Stan stares at them, "You three----get the hell out of here and don't come back!"
"Mister, we just want some food," one of them says.
Stan leans over the counter, "We don't serve your kind in here -----now get the hell out!"
George, the cook comes running out, with a meat cleaver in his hand---"You heard him-----go back to your own country with that thieving murdering son of a bitch Arab-----you got nerve showing your faces in here----after what your people have done!"
The three young men look back at Stan and George.
"We are not of Arabic origin-----we are from Pakistan".
Some more of the customers are turning and looking towards the young men, Walker watches them with mixed feelings. In the far corner a man in his mid 40's is watching the scenario, his hands shaking so that he can hardly hold his coffee cup.
"I don't care where the hell you're from," yells Stan----"I' not telling you again----get out!"
The young man that has being doing all the talking reaches into his pockets and pulls out money, "We just want something to eat----please?"
A couple of burly men approach the three and start shoving them towards the door, "You heard the man----you're not wanted in here."
The leader of the three stops, "NO----we are not leaving till we get something to eat."
One of the men reaches out and hits the young man, he falls to the floor and then the others pounce on the other two young men.
Walker puts Angela back in her carrier, and then he shouts at the men to stop. They refuse to listen and Walker backhands one of the men with his bandaged hand, his fist starts bleeding again.
The men turn on Walker, "You stay out of this mister---this is not any of your business."
Walker takes a quick look to make sure Angela is okay then he approaches the men. "I'm a Texas Ranger----I'm making it my business and you're breaking the law!"
Stan stares back at Walker, "A Texas Ranger----you're out of your jurisdiction----you have no right butting in!"
Walker returns the man's stare and takes out his badge, "This badge says different------now leave them be!"
George is steaming as his hand clenches the meat cleaver. Walker glares at him, "Put it down George-----or I'll put both you and that meat cleaver through the wall!"
"You sure talk big for one man," replies one of the attackers.
The other one speaks up, "Why are you defending these punks? They're foreigners----they're related to that Arab that has done all this killing."
"You don't blame a whole country for what a few have done, and they told you they are from Pakistan not Arabia."
One of the men kick out at the young man on the floor, "Same difference-----send
them back to their own country."
Walker pushes the man back and helps the young man up, "Just give them some food
and they'll be on their way."
Effie has come out of the restroom as she listens to the yelling going on between Walker and the attackers.
Stan folds his arms across his chest and points to the sign over his counter, "WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE."
"I'm not giving them anything----Ranger or no Ranger!"
The young man walks towards Stan, "Look----we don't want any trouble, we haven't
eaten in over 24 hrs because no one will serve us----we're hungry----we got money----we can pay."
Stan grabs the young man by the collar----I don't want your stinking blood money----is that clear?"
Effie grabs Stan and gently pushes him back, "Stan----just give them something to eat."
Stan stares at her, "How can you stand there and say to feed them---Effie---it's their people that are responsible for the Pentagon being hit----and maybe killing your daughter."
Effie starts to cry, "If we refuse them food, then we are no better than the animals that are responsible for all of this----we are Americans---we don't treat people like this."
One of the attackers yells back, "Well, maybe we should-----if we started sending these people back to their own country----we wouldn't be having these problems. Hell-----those hi-jackers learned to fly those planes right here in the old USA!"
Everyone in the cafe nods their head, except for the stRanger sitting in the far corner.
The young man pleads for food again, "Look----we had friends that were killed in the trade center----that's where we're heading-----to try and volunteer to look for bodies."
Stan and George start towards the three young men again, Walker takes out his gun. "I'll shoot the first one that lays a hand on either of these boys----now back off----I'm not telling you again!"
The whole cafe stands up, and George replies, "You going to shoot us all Ranger-----how many of us do you think you're going to take out before we overtake you?"
Walker aims the gun at George's head, "You'll be the first one I take out----you won't be alive to find out how many."
Effie starts pleading with George to back away, he refuses to listen, and then Stan puts up his hand.
"Let me ask you something Ranger----why are you going to Boston at this time, while all of this is going on?"
Everyone stares at the Ranger, he replies, "To get my wife."
Stan shakes his head slowly, "And why are you traveling all the way from Texas with a young baby, when all of America is in fear of being hit with more attacks----why is it so important for you to be in Boston so soon?"
Angela starts to whimper and Effie runs to pick her up. The whole cafe is still staring at Walker. He takes a deep breath and replies, "My wife was suppose to have been on that second plane that hit the trade center----but for the love of God, she didn't make that flight."
The cafe gets quiet, and Stan snickers. "I see----and because your wife is safe and sound----that makes it alright for you not to be angry-----well, what about the families of all of those victims that are not alright?"
Walker holds his ground, "We still can't blame a whole country------"
"The hell we can't----" shouts George, "We can kill them all---starting with these three."
George reaches out for the nearest young man and Walker grabs him, the other two
men go after Walker and Effie is screaming at them to stop, this wakening Angela and she starts to cry.
The three young men are scrambling to get out the door and the others in the little cafe are holding them back. The fight is on and everyone is striking out at someone. A loud voice is heard over the commotion and the stRanger is throwing a chair up against the wall.
"Stop it!!!!! All of you----you're acting like animals------you're no better than the monsters that started all of this."
Stan stops hitting one of the young men and stares back at the stRanger, "Who the hell are you----who asked your opinion?"
The man throws the rest of the chair down and stomps towards Stan, "No one asked my opinion, but you're going to get it----you want to know about prejudice----I'll tell you about prejudice!"
The cafe becomes quiet as the stRanger walks around looking at each person. Walker looks back at Angela, at Effie holding her.
The stRanger looks at the three young men, and motions for them to sit down. Stan starts to object and the stRanger gets in his face, "Don't even start with me---all of you---you're going to listen to what I have to say and afterwards if you want kick out each other's brains, then go right ahead!"
Walker eyes the stRanger; the man is on the verge of coming apart. Something has
happened to him; his nerves are completely shot, his hands shake.
The stRanger looks back at Walker, "So you believe that we can't blame a whole country for what a few are doing-----well those "few" that you are defending just wiped out thousands of lives and families will never be the same-----how does that make you feel?"
"I feel anger---just like the rest of you-----but these young men are not to blame for what has happened------it's prejudice against someone that is not the same color as we are----- and prejudice breeds hate."
The stRanger continues to glare at Walker, "Well----answer Stan's question, how would you be feeling now if your wife had gotten on that plane, she sees her life being flown into the side of the Trade Center------how about those other passengers----how do you think their families are feeling right now? Do you think they are "forgiving", do you think they care about prejudice?"
Walker says nothing as the others stare at him. George snickers, "You're not so big now, are you Ranger?"
The stRanger walks up to George, "You are in no position to be passing judgment-----what nationality are you----are you a true American----is anyone here a true American?----No, I don't think so----all of you have some kind of foreign blood running through your veins----and I dare anyone to dispute what I say, what about it, George, you want to talk about that Jewish blood that you have?"
George looks at the man curiously, "How do you know about that?"
The stRanger just glares at him, "Let's just say "I know" and leave it at that. You should know how your ancestors suffered at the hands of the Germans---just because they were Jews."
The stRanger stares at Stan, "You have German blood in you, don't you?"
Stan stares back at him, "And, so what if I do----my grandfather was part German, so what?"
The stRanger looks to Stan and then to George, "So why do you have someone of Jewish ancestry working for you----as German, you're suppose to hate all Jews."
One of the attackers starts towards the stRanger, "I've had just about enough of you and your "holier than thou" sermon-------"
Walker stops the man, "Let the stRanger talk----he's the only one making any sense."
The stRanger walks to the three young men, "Where did you say you were going?"
They all speak at once, "New York."
The stRanger lays his hand on the one man's shoulder, "Why----why do you want to
go there? People will see the color of your skin and you will be targeted for ‘being one of them’."
"We have friends there sir, we have many friends that worked in the trade center, and they weren't just Pakistanian friends, we had American friends, too----we want to help----in any way we can."
The stRanger motions for them to sit back down, then he looks around the cafe, everyone is staring at him.
"You know what you people remind me of-----the armchair quarterback!!!!----You sit around discussing how the game should be played----well I got news for you people----this is not a game!"
Effie walks towards the stRanger with Angela still in her arms, Walker reaches out for his daughter.
"You seem to know a lot about how we are suppose to feel, how about you, aren't
you angry too?"
The stRanger smiles weakly, "Yes ma'am----I'm very angry. I'm angry with the people responsible for these thousands of people that are dead, and their bodies will probably never be found. I'm angry because until Sept. 11th at that doomed hour, I was feeling just like you. I had my whole life before me, a wife and three kids, the whole nine yards. I was also angry because just the week before this terrible accident, my promotion was passed over and given to another man----an afro/American. Now, I was taking orders from a black man----me-----I'm white---I do not take orders from a Negro. But I had to keep my job---I had a family to feed."
One of the attackers speak up, "I don't get it----you're spouting off about not accepting prejudice for the rest of us----and you're just as guilty, saying you don't take orders from a ‘nigger’."
Effie turns to the man, "Would you hush up and let the stRanger talk?"
Walker goes back to his booth and gets Angela's carrier, putting her in it. "Let the man talk-----we owe him that much."
The stRanger takes a deep breath, "My name is Cal Peters, I'm from lower Manhattan---I'm a firefighter from Company B Unit 146.----My unit was one of the first ones called up when the first tower was hit. We didn't know what to expect---we certainly didn't think it was as bad as the call made it out to be. There were 6 of the long ladders that got there first, rescue units, and some brothers in blue were waiting for us. There were about 60 of us to make the scene first, I was in the first group to go in and then my c.o. yelled at me to help with some hoses that had gotten tangled up, the water pressure was down.
They started inside the first tower, they were inside about ten minutes when the building started shaking, screams everywhere, and then the first 20 floors just caved in. ----We could hear the screams, we kept trying to go back in and then the police were yelling for us to "evacuate", and we just started running. Then the second plane hit-----and everything went crazy. Some of my buddies were running from the buildings, while others were running towards it. Then this great big ball of smoke and fire was coming right at us----we ran. I dove under one of the fire trucks; there were people already under it. The suction pulled one of the women out from under the truck and slammed her into the hood of another car.----We decided it wasn't safe under that truck, so we started running. I looked back and I saw that women being crushed by debris that was coming down.----I saw her body just explode from the concrete---blood going everywhere!"
"As you all know, the rest of the day was in fear of more attacks, more reports of bombs being found, each time we tried to get back to the towers, the screams for evacuation could be heard over and over. We finally got back to the North Tower; we were on our hands and knees trying to get our buddies out of there. We started finding body parts----just parts of bodies, lying everywhere. People were jumping from the buildings, holding hands."
"I have never seen such horrible things, I saw my buddies crying as they found bits and pieces of their uniforms, maybe a arm would still be inside a shirt. I saw my buddies "vomiting" as they continued to work throughout the night. I saw the uniform of my c.o., I saw his badge number 174, I started digging harder to get him out, he was barely breathing as he had concrete slabs piled on top of him. I started calling for "medic"----he just smiled and said it was no use. He asked me to hold his hand and to tell his family that he was going to a better place. I did, I held his hand, his black hand---until he died."
Everyone in the small cafe is silent. The man continues on.
"All night we found what was left of bodies. My mind was going crazy, I just wanted to scream, I wanted to wake up and see that it was just a dream----but this was real. The media reports couldn't tell you all that happening, they weren't there at ground zero---they didn't know what was happening. ---But---it was raining body parts on top of us!-----The final blow came when I reached out to touch the hand of one man who was holding the hand of another. Their hands were clasped together, one of the hands was white-----I couldn't tell what color the other man was. The hand was dark skinned, but I couldn't tell if the second man was Mexican, black, Iranian, East Indian---or what----I couldn't tell!!!! All I knew was that they died together, holding each other's hands. My buddies were finding other hands----there must have been at least 20 different people that died holding hands----and you know what?-----I doubt that any of those people knew each other----but they died together. Whether they jumped or whether they were inside the buildings as they were coming down."
Stan wipes a tear away and the three young men lay their heads down on the counter. Some of the lady customers are crying and even the two men that were beating the young Pakistanians are having trouble hiding their emotions. George takes a deep breath and sits down in the booth beside Walker. Walker too, takes a deep breath, looking at Angela and holding her little hand.
Effie is brushing the tears away, "Cal----what happened after that----what are you doing here?"
Cal is trembling, "I deserted----I ran away from there---I couldn't take any more-----I ran away from my buddies---I just started running until I could get transportation, I stole a car and I just drove----anywhere to get away from that nightmare.--I've said my piece, now I will leave."
Cal stand up and walks towards the three young men, "I've decided to go back and
be with my buddies and hope they will forgive me, and then I will call my wife and let her know that I'm okay and hope she can forgive me too-----if you three need a ride, you're welcome to come with me!"
The three nod their heads and stand beside Cal.
Stan clears his throat, "Wait a minute----you three aren't going anywhere----till you've had something to eat!----George---get your butt in the kitchen and fix up some hamburgers and fries for these young men----and throw in some cokes and some of those doughnuts."
The customers start to leave, they all stop and shake Cal's hand. Walker stands up and walks towards Cal, shaking his hand.
"You sure put us all in our places------I hope everything works out for you---good luck."
George comes out with a sack of food and hands it to the young men, and they start grabbing the food and shoving it down. George smiles, "Don't eat so fast------there's plenty to go around".
Soon the cafe has cleared out, and the telephone rings. Effie is saying goodbye to Walker and Angela as Stan walks up to them, "Effie------you have a phone call-----it's Donna!"
Effie runs to the phone, crying.
"Donna---is that her daughter?"
Stan is all smiles, "Yep----her daughter is okay."
Walker waves at Effie and she waves back.
Walker and Angela have been back on the road for about 20 minutes. Walker has been very quiet, as he continues to hold his daughter’s hand. His cell phone rings, "Hi Alex-----I was hoping it was you, I've wanted to hear your voice so bad."
"Walker---where are you now?"
Walker smiles, "We just passed through Philadelphia, the city of ‘brotherly love’."
Alex sighs, "Thank God, you are almost here-----I just can't hardly wait to have my arms around both of you."
"That goes for us too, hon. We are going to stop for the night----we have had a very interesting day, and I've learned things about myself----and now I can truly feel how you must be affected by all that's happened. I know now why you are having a hard time talking about it---and honey, I understand. When I get there----you can tell me in your own way what you've been feeling----but you have to talk about it Alex----you can't keep it bottled up."
Alex is crying softly. "I will Walker----I promise----we have a lot to talk about-----just hurry and get here-----I miss you two so much."
"We'll be there soon Alex-----Angela sends you a great big kiss----and so do I----goodnight hon----we love you."
10amThursday Sept 13th:
Walker and Angela have been on the road since daybreak and are now going through Elizabeth, New Jersey. It's a tedious drive; traffic is slow.
To the East Walker can see the skies, all dusty, and smoky. All of the motorists seem to be in a trance as they are looking east. Walker has seen the signs to Staten Island and to The Statue of Liberty. When they first got engaged, Alex had wanted to come to The Big Apple and show Walker the sights. She had tried describing the feeling and the magic that the big city held. At the time he had no desire to see the concrete jungle but he had promised her that one day, they would come, and the main attraction he wanted to see was the Statue of Liberty. As she talked about the Broadway shows, malls, and all of the skyscrapers, he would nod his head and listen. Then he would tease her:
"And, I'll bet you can't get any decent Mexican food in that whole city----especially chili and enchiladas."
She would pretend to be mad, and then she would add, "You can't get any decent iced tea either----but they have dozens of places for Starbuck's coffee----all different kinds of coffee."
"There's only one kind of coffee, Alex and that's Folgers!"
Another hour has passed and Walker is getting near Ft. Lee, the signs to the Washington Bridge are now being seen. Angela is starting to stir, he knows it will be time to change her soon. He sees the tollgate ahead and pulls over to the far lane. The traffic is picking up a little more and the East bound traffic is moving faster. Walker looks out over the Hudson River, and back towards the skyline. All of a sudden the traffic comes to a dead halt. The West bound traffic is going to the far right lane, and everyone is stopping and getting out of their autos. The East bound traffic is doing the same, hardly a word is spoken as motorists stand beside their autos and look to the East. Walker is stretching to see what everyone is looking at, as he gets out of his Ram and yells to the man in the car beside him.
"What's wrong? Why is everyone stopping?"
The man is wearing a baseball cap, he takes it off and holds it against his chest and nods to the Ranger----"That's the reason."
Walker looks in the direction the man is pointing and sees a dozen or so fire trucks coming over the bridge. It's like a convoy and the trucks are moving at a moderate pace, American flags are draped over the sides of the engines, the firemen all have tired and sad faces. As they pass the crowds cheer, and wave tiny little flags at them. Some of the firemen manage a wave back, you can see their exhausted looks.
As the fire trucks come nearer, Walker takes off his Stetson and holds it to his chest.
"These fire trucks are the relief for the night before----they're coming around from Queens, because they can't get through the Holland tunnel. Some of these fighters were the first ones to go in, and you can bet they'll be the last ones out. They are truly the heroes, and our boys in blue are heroes too----this is our way of showing them respect----not one auto will proceed till every last engine has crossed the bridge."
Walker nods his head and continues to watch as the caravan moves slowly over the
bridge till the last one is out of sight. Slowly the motorists get back into their autos and continue on their way.
Walker's thoughts are spinning, he has never seen such a show of unity in the American people, not since the Gulf war. His thoughts go back to Nam and how he and other servicemen were treated when they came back to the states. They were spat on and called "baby killers", there were no parades and certainly no one stopped their autos for them. For a moment he feels the anger rising inside him again----there were no winners in that war, you had to put it in the back of your mind and go on with your lives the best way you knew how.
Walker is brought back to reality when Angela decides she's hungry and she needs
a changing. He pulls over to a gas station, and takes Angela to the restroom. He smiles to himself, "Hey----I'm getting good at this Angela----I got it all down to a "T"----and in record time I might add."
He takes her into the restaurant and asks the waitress to warm up her formula, fills his thermos, gets the Ram serviced and he's back on the road. His face lights up when he sees the first sign to Boston.
"Look at that my Angel, in another four hours---we'll be with your Mother."
3pm: Gordon Cahill's Condo:
Alex is pacing back and forth, looking out the windows and then peeking out through the peephole. Her Dad is watching her and shaking his head slowly . He smiles as he shifts around in his wheel chair.
"Pumpkin----would you relax, Walker said he was less than an hour away----he'll be here soon?"
"I can't help it, Dad-----I am just so anxious to see them----to put my arms around them----why is the time going so slow?"
Rosa, the nurse that has been assigned to care for Gordon asks him if there is anything she do before her shift ends.
Gordon takes her hand, "No, honey----you go on home and you let us know if you hear anything about your son."
"I will, Senor Gordon----Senora, is there anything I can get for you?"
Alex walks back and puts her arms around the nurse, "You just bring us some good
news, when you come back in the morning---alright?"
The nurse leaves and Judy, the cook brings in some soup and crackers.
"Come on Alex-----come eat something---you've eaten very little since all of this nightmare began, when your husband and daughter get here---you don't want to pass out on them, do you?"
Alex smiles, "You're right-----but first I want to call the gate to make sure the guard will ring us as soon as Walker and Angela are spotted."
She runs to the phone and starts ringing the gate. Henry, the security guard picks up the phone, and shakes his head back and forth, "Yes ma'am----I will ring you just as soon as they get here----yes ma'am----I will."
He puts the phone down and looks at the bearded man before him and the little traveler.
"You better hurry up and get up there----that wife of yours has been calling every 20 minutes."
Walker beams, "Thanks Henry---I owe you one."
Walker walks slowly towards the #3 Court, punches the elevator and goes to the second level. He walks up to the door and rings the buzzer.
Gordon looks to Alex, "Rosa must have forgotten something----I'll let her in."
The soup tastes good, Alex doesn't realize how hungry she really was, as she goes back to the kitchen for a second helping.
Gordon opens the door, his eyes light up as he sees Walker standing there with Angela, who is wide awake. Walker puts his finger up to his lips and motions for Gordon not to say anything. Gordon whispers.
"She's in the kitchen----I finally got her to eat something."
Walker smiles, handing Angela to her grandpa. Gordon is all smiles as he cuddles
Alex is filling her bowl for the second time, and Judy is asking her if she wants a sandwich. Judy turns and sees Walker and again he puts his finger to his lips, motioning for her to be quiet.
Walker looks at Alex, who is unaware that he is standing behind her. All of the events in the past 3 days flood Walker's mind, that terrible Tuesday when he saw that plane going into the trade center, the announcement of the flight number and the way his whole world shattered when he thought she was on that plane. He says softly.
"Is there enough soup for me too?"
Alex turns and sees him standing there, "WALKER" then she runs into his arms, kissing him over and over.
Judy walks out, pulling the little petition doors behind her. Gordon nods to her and Judy walks towards him and Angela.
Walker and Alex are holding each other so tight, they can hardly breathe.
"God----I never thought I could miss someone so much as I have missed you----every day on the road, I have thought about this moment---just holding you."
Alex is crying, kissing Walker's cheeks and rubbing his beard. "I have missed you so much---I don't think I could stand another day without you."
They continue to hold each other and Alex pulls back, "Where is Angela?"
"She's with your Dad."
Alex grabs Walker's hand and then she sees the bandages, "Honey---what happened to your hands?"
Walker shrugs, "A window got in my way----it's nothing---they're fine---go see your daughter, she's missed you."
Alex goes running to the front room, she sees Angela and they both start crying. Alex picks her up and comforts her, kissing her and saying how much she's missed her.
11pm Cahill Condo:
Alex has given Angela her bath, and Angela is falling asleep all curled up in her mother's arms. Walker comes out of the shower and just watches the two women in his life. Finally Alex lays her down in the little bassinet that was hers when she was a baby. She turns and looks to her husband, and walks slowly into his arms. They stand there holding each other.
"Walker---I have to tell you what happened that day."
"Okay, hon-----you don't have to rush----just tell me in your own words."
Alex turns and looks back at her sleeping daughter, "You're not going to believe what I am about to tell you---but it's the truth."
They sit down on the side of the bed, and Alex takes Walker's hands and starts putting medicine on the cuts. She looks into his eyes.
"You have always told me to rely on my instincts---to trust my intuition------"
"Yes Alex-------go on."
"I was at the airport, everything was fine, I had all of my bags checked, I had my boarding pass---all was just fine. There was this young man, carrying one of those "boom boxes" and this loud rap music was playing. He was starting to annoy everyone with his loud music, and then they started calling for everyone to start boarding."
Walker touches his wife's cheek, brushing a tear away. "What happened, Alex?"
Alex has started to shake, "I started walking towards the lady that was taking the boarding passes and all of a sudden, I heard this baby crying. I looked around, I didn't recall seeing any babies on that flight, and then the crying got louder and louder. I looked around at the other passengers; no one else was hearing the baby cry. I listened more closely----Walker---it was Angela's cries that I heard!"
Walker stares back at his wife, "Angela's?"
"Yes----I heard our daughter crying---and she was crying so loud and so scared, she was screaming---Walker---I swear it was Angela---I know my daughter's voice---it was her---I swear it!!!"
"Alex------how can that be?"
"Don't you believe me-----Walker---I know my own daughter's cries----it was her----it was some kind of warning not to get on that plane-----and then that young man----he looked at me---he looked right at me. His eyes were dead-----they were so cold and the boom box stopped playing that ear shattering music, and then a soft song started playing---I didn't recognize it at first----it was something about Angels-----someone singing ‘DO YOU BELIEVE IN ANGELS’?"
"Everyone just walked right past me, like they were in some kind of daze, I kept saying "Don't get on the plane", but no one heard me---they just kept walking past me---the young man put his boom box on his shoulder and looked at me one last time, and that song kept playing over and over----Angela's cries were getting louder----I couldn't get on that plane. I threw my ticket down and started running, I didn't stop running till I was outside the terminal, I got a cab and went straight to the hospital to be with
my Dad. I thought it was an omen concerning my Dad---I thought he had taken a turn for the worse! I just got to the hospital when they announced that the first plane had hit the towers.------About 15 minutes later, the second one hit----the one I was suppose to be on."
Alex is crying harder as she keeps looking at her husband's face, "You don't believe me---do you?"
Walker grabs his wife's shoulders, "Alex----listen to me----what time did you first hear the baby crying?"
Alex looks at him confused, "What?"
"What time Alex---what was the time?"
Alex wipes her tears away, "It was right at the time the plane was suppose to take off----8:14-----why?"
Walker's face goes white, his thoughts going back to the morning of September 11th, and when Angela's cries woke him, he remembered looking at the alarm clock, it was 7:14, Texas time, Angela’s cries were different from anytime Walker had ever heard her cry. He recalled how long it took to get her calmed down, she screamed uncontrollably until minutes before Alex called to let them
know that she was all right.
"Alex-----Angela started crying at 7:14, you did hear your daughter crying------I don't know how to explain it----but she knew she were in danger----and she warned you---by somehow sending you a warning signal----her crying stopped you from getting on that plane."
Alex's eyes grow big, she's sobbing, "A warning?"
"Yes honey----her cries were your warning and thank God you listened."
Alex gets up off the bed and starts walking in circles, "But, why wouldn't anyone listen to me----they wouldn't listen to me Walker---I tried to warn them too----why wouldn't they listen?"
Walker takes his wife back into his arms, "I don't know Alex-----except to say----they couldn't hear you."
"They couldn't hear me? What do you mean?"
"Alex----honey---it wasn't YOUR time to go."
Alex starts shaking, Walker holds her tighter----"Those poor people-----oh God------I feel so guilty."
Walker pushes Alex back and holds her at arms' length, "You mustn't feel guilty, Alex----you were given a warning---for what reason we are not to question----just that it was not your time."
Alex pulls away from her husband and goes to look at their sleeping daughter. She reaches out and touches her cheek. She looks back to her husband.
"Those passengers are ON The Wings Of The Angels" they are truly in a better place, aren't they?"
"Yes Alex-----and we are the ones that are left behind, we have to go on with the grief, the anger, and the retribution to set things right again.---And we will----I've seen a lot of things in the last 72 hrs that will last me a lifetime, and if there is one thing I'm sure of----we will come back, a stronger and better people, because we are united."