WORDS NOT SPOKEN
“Walker, you think maybe we could talk about it?”
The red-bearded Ranger didn’t answer his partner. Instead, he pulled the binoculars up to his eyes and stared intently at nothing, avoiding the question.
Trivette sighed internally. The last thing he wanted was for Walker to find out the way he did. Trivette had dreaded telling him, had talked first with C.D., then Alex, but someone in the personnel office had leaked the news before Trivette could get up the nerve to tell Walker. And now it was awkward, tense. Not a good frame of mind for either of them while on their current stakeout.
“Walker, please say something.”
“What’s there to say, Trivette? You got a fantastic job offer. It’s a chance of a lifetime.” Walker kept the binoculars to his eyes, even though the warehouse they’d been watching for three hours was devoid of life signs.
“Yeah, but..........how do you feel about it?” Trivette pressed.
Walker’s mind whirled. How do I feel? How do I feel about losing a partner of six years, a partner I’ve grown to respect and love like a brother, a partner who has helped me put away some of the nastiest characters in Texas, a partner who knows when to prod me and when to give me space. We’ve been through harrowing times, fun times, sorrowful times, have seen our share of blood and despair, but also hope and enlightenment. You’ve been there for me when I needed someone, when I couldn’t or wouldn’t ask for someone, you balance my weaknesses with your strengths, together we’re unbeatable. How do I feel? Gut-kicked, shaky, heart-wrenched. And sad. Just plain sad.
“I feel like you should do what’s best for you,” Walker said quietly. He finally put down the binoculars and gazed at his partner.
Trivette let out a breath. That wasn’t the answer he was looking for. “So you think I should take it?”
“If you want it.” Walker turned back to the window of the shack they were hidden in. He shifted his weight from one leg to the other, tired of standing. “These guys should have been here by now,” he murmured, changing the subject.
“Maybe the snitch lied. Although we scared the piss out of him. We’ve sure gotten good at the good cop/bad cop thing. He really thought you were gonna call up a Cherokee demon to visit his dreams.”
Walker chuckled and turned back to Trivette with a smile. “It sure didn’t hurt when you told him about the Cherokee purge. Did you have to be so graphic?”
They both laughed, visualizing the snitch’s face. The man had quickly “volunteered” the info about a drug deal going down in the warehouse. If the Rangers could catch Rafael Mendez in the act, then they’d smash the biggest cocaine supplier in the southwest.
Walker leaned his back against the wall and slid down to the floor. There was nothing to see. He was silent for a few minutes, then looked again at Trivette.
“It’s cold in Philadelphia.”
“Then you think I shouldn’t go?”
“Trivette.......” Walker answered in annoyance.
Trivette shrugged, took the binoculars from Walker and took his turn at the window. Tell me what to do, Walker. Ha, listen to me. Six years I’ve been his partner and he’s always treated me as an equal, but we’re not really. I’m still asking his advice. I look at him as an older brother, a mentor. Sometimes I think that’s why I was looking through the job ads that day, because no matter how long we’re together, I’ll always be looking up to him and his amazing feats, I’ll always be in his shadow. But is that so bad a place to be? I’ve learned so much from him, and not just about law enforcement. The life lessons, the wisdom, the spiritual side of the world, those things will stay with me forever.
“I’m weighing all the options,” Trivette said.
Walker nodded. Actually, it sounds perfect for you, Trivette. Investigating credit card fraud for one of the nation’s largest banks. Blending police work with computers. Big salary, clothing allowance, fancy cars, power lunches. You’d be very good at it, and happy too. But dammit, I don’t want to lose another partner. When C.D. retired, it wasn’t final. I knew I’d still see him every day, just in a different capacity. But if you go to Philly, you’ll never come back. You’ll leave a void, an emptiness, and not just with the department, but inside of me. Hell, that’s awful selfish of me. This is an awesome opportunity for him, a chance to go places, to move up in the world, to fight crime on the corporate level. I can’t hold him back.
“It sounds like a great job,” Walker offered.
“Yeah, it is.” No more cramming my feet into cowboy boots, no more pretending I like horses, no more Roy Rogers hat. No one shooting at me, no torn up knuckles due to fights, no vows of vengeance from a convict. And maybe I could keep a girlfriend for a change. No more sad goodbyes because they can’t deal with the dangers of the job. But Walker and Alex do it. It took awhile, but now you can’t keep them apart. Alex said she got used to the worry, puts it out of her mind, but I don’t think that’s true. I think she realized she couldn’t live without him, and if the only way she could have him was to accept the risks, she’d do it. Maybe I just haven’t found the right woman.
“I’m sorry about how you found out. I wanted to tell you myself,” Trivette told him.
“It’s okay, Trivette.” I thought it was a bad joke. When Perkins from personnel asked me where I was going to find another partner to put up with me, I just stared at him. He told me about the fax from the bank company, then apologized --- he thought I knew about it. I didn’t know what to do. You hadn’t breathed a word. Why were you looking for another job? Was I that tough a partner? Why hadn’t you talked it over with me before? Were you unhappy with the Rangers? What was going on? I went home that night and never slept. I never saw it coming. Blindsided. That doesn’t happen very often. Then I thought it had to be a mistake. Perkins misread the letter. But the next day, when you finally said something........and then I found out that C.D. and Alex already knew.........
“I should have told you first,” Trivette confessed. No shit, idiot. I should have trusted my instincts and told him right away, gotten some feedback. Walker’s always been a terrific sounding board. He would have listened, but I was determined to do this on my own. Did I avoid telling him because I wanted to prove I could make a decision alone, or was I afraid it would hurt too much? Him and me. Look at him now. He’s very good at hiding his true feelings, those blue-gray eyes not revealing anything.
“So, you’re okay with it?”
“If it’s what you want, Trivette. Sure.” Walker turned away. Don’t look at him, don’t let your eyes tell the truth. God, it’s so hard. How do you let go when you want more than anything to hold on?
There was a muffled sound in the distance. Walker stood up, alert. Trivette scanned the warehouse with the binoculars. He shook his head to indicate to Walker that he saw nothing. Walker nodded toward the door. Wordlessly the two of them crept out of the shack and split up, making their way toward the warehouse. The noise was audible again, but this time behind them. Fifty feet apart, each taking cover, they caught each other’s eyes and headed back toward the shack. Walker took the back as he always did. Trivette didn’t need to look to know his job would be the front of the shack. They lost sight of each other as they advanced slowly, silently. And suddenly, there was a metallic racket as something was thrown into the window of the shack.
KABOOM. The shack exploded into a million pieces, sending fire, wood and nails flying through the air. Trivette found himself on the ground, dazed. He tried to stand up but his legs wobbled. The noise was still echoing in his head. Something tickled the side of his face. He swiped at it, brought back blood on his hand. One sleeve of his jacket was smoking. He yanked the jacket off, noticing droplets of blood across his shirt. His head was spinning, but he suddenly got to his knees and looked to where the back of the shack had been. Walker! Where was Walker?
Voices could be heard and Trivette flattened himself to the ground, reaching for his gun, but it was gone. Four men surrounded the shack, kicking down the last of the burning timbers.
“They’re not here! Dammit, they’re not here!”
“They were supposed to be. Look around.”
Walker dragged himself into the cover of nearby bushes. He tried to shake off the stunning effect of the blast. He could taste blood in his mouth, feel cuts on his face and a sharp pain attacked his side. Smoldering ringlets were burned into his shirt. Four men were close enough to him to hear any movement, any breath. He recognized one of them as Mendez. Walker kept his breathing in check while he scanned the area for Trivette, praying his partner hadn’t been closer to the shack than he was. But his mind replayed the blast, and he recalled seeing Trivette’s body flung through the air. Fear for his partner surged up. Finally, his eyes fell on the tall grass beyond the burning remains of the shack, where a head popped up, then went back down.
Trivette noticed a slight movement in the brush behind the shack -- a signal. He knew what to do.
“Hey!” he yelled, and the four men turned toward him.
Instantly a lone figure jumped out of the bushes, feet kicking high and fists pounding solidly. Trivette ran to Walker’s side and joined in. In a moment the four men were on the ground, unconscious. As Trivette grinned, Walker suddenly staggered, then lowered himself to the ground. Trivette hurried to him, noticing cuts and burns from the explosion. He checked his partner over.
“I think you have some broken ribs.” How in the hell did he jump these guys in his condition? He’s torn up from the blast.
Walker took a bandanna out of his shirt pocket and pressed it against Trivette’s bleeding forehead. “You’ve got a gash.” God, Trivette, when I saw you get thrown through the air, I thought you were dead.
Police cars squealed into the parking lot. Trivette followed as Mendez and the others were herded into patrol cars. Mendez glared at him.
“Your snitch sold you out. I thought I would do every criminal in Texas a favor by knocking off you and Walker. Of all the cops who could be after me, it had to be you two.”
The DPD officer shoved Mendez into the car, then turned to Trivette. “He’s right, you know. You two are the stuff of legends.”
Trivette, holding the bloody bandanna to his head, suddenly felt the weight of the world fall from his shoulders. Instantly, there was no longer any choice to make. Tonight he and Walker had once again overcome the odds, had known what each other was thinking, had guessed each other’s moves, and it had saved their lives. How many partners could do that? How many could reach that rare level of instinct and intuition? Friendship and trust? He shrugged at the officer and returned to Walker’s side. Walker was fighting to remain conscious as Trivette knelt beside him.
“Help will be here in a second.”
“Don’t go, Trivette,” Walker said quietly.
“I won’t. I’ll stay right here until the rescue units arrive.”
“No, I mean the job.”
Trivette looked into the blue-gray eyes which were suddenly, uncharacteristically speaking volumes. Trivette nodded, and Walker closed his eyes with a sigh of relief, the words not spoken resonating in the air and calming the hearts of the two partners.
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