Knowing that Walker served in Vietnam…
FLASHBACKS AND VISIONS
July 14, 2001
Angus looked over at his neighbor and knew from the body language he was not happy at being on the sidelines; seeing him reach towards the bale of hay he said, “Don’t even think about it Cordell, you know Alex would have my head if she even thought I was letting you help.”
“I was just going to grab a couple of flakes not the entire bale; I feel kind of foolish just standing here watching you take care of my chores.”
“You’ve only been out of the hospital a few days, don’t push yourself or you’ll end up back in there again.”
Stiffening his spine Walker said, “Over my dead body.”
Sighing in frustration Angus dropped the pitchfork, walked over to the younger man and placing his hands on his shoulders he gave him a gentle shake as he said, “I know how difficult this is for you, but dang it boy, you’re lucky to be moving at all; you can’t expect to just pick up where you left off a few months ago, you still haven’t gained back all the weight you lost and you definitely have a long ways to go before you get all your strength back.”
“You don’t pull punches do you?”
“I never have and I never will, if you remember right that’s why your Uncle Ray and I used to butt heads so much.”
With a grin he replied, “Yeah I remember some of those times, the one that stands out in my mind the most was the time Betty threatened to toss both of you in the watering trough to cool you off.”
“She would have done it too, even now I tread careful around that woman, she may be nearly seventy years old and a tiny little thing…but boy is she feisty!”
Having entered the barn she heard the two of them laughing and smiled; her husband had been getting more and more antsy in the past few days and she knew he was frustrated by his physical limitations. Which was exactly why she had checked with his doctors and then made a call to a close friend, hopefully what she had planned would help him.
Catching sight of her Walker went to her side and gave her a kiss before asking, “What are you doing up and about so early?”
“Our daughter was cranky this morning and decided I needed to get up; I swear I’m going to be so happy when she gets all her teeth.”
Angus said, “You should talk to Betty; I still remember when Gavin was…” His voice trailed off and he sucked in a deep breath before abruptly picking up the pitchfork and getting back to work.”
She was about to ask who Gavin was but with a definitive shake of his head her husband let her know not to.
“We’re going back to the house, if you want coffee before you head home just come on up.” Pulling Alex along behind him he headed out.
They had barely made it inside before she said, “Angus and Betty have a son? I’ve never heard him mentioned before.”
Quietly he responded, “Had a son, Gavin was a couple of years younger than me.”
“What happened to him?” Seeing the faraway look in her husband’s eyes she gently asked, “Are you okay?”
Blinking back tears he haltingly said, “The last time I saw Gavin was in ‘Nam; we were both in a field hospital with minor injuries and one of the medics realized we were from the same hometown. We had a few hours to catch up and then he left to rejoin his unit; I didn’t find out until after I got home that he’d been listed as MIA. You know for the first couple of months after that…every time Betty saw me she’d start crying, I was home and her son wasn’t.”
“Oh Walker, that must have been so hard for you.”
Amazed at her perceptiveness he replied, “I was already struggling with survivor’s guilt and that made it so much worse; I was in a very dark place and Uncle Ray finally got so worried he took me to…”
“Yes; at the same time Angus got some counseling for Betty and the next time we met we cried together and put it behind us.” Taking her hand he led her to the room that displayed his trophies, awards and medals, opening a drawer he removed a box and handed it to her.
She took the top off and found herself staring down at several name etchings. Glancing back up she said, “Tell me.”
“A few years ago I went with Angus and Betty to the Vietnam Wall in DC; obviously we wanted one for Gavin and while I was there I found several other guys that I served with and did theirs as well…I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I did that day.”
“Thank you for sharing this with me; it’s another glimpse into what made you the man you are today.”
“I never told CD or Trivette any of that I guess I thought they’d see it as weakness.”
Closing the box she carefully put it back in place and tugged him back into the living room where she pushed him down onto the couch; she held him and laid her head against his chest as she said, “You are quite a man Cordell Walker.”
For the next few minutes he simply held her tight, drawing strength from her as he dealt with the painful memories. Finally he gently moved her so he could get to her lips and he kissed her over and over.
Responding eagerly she reached for the buttons on his shirt until they both registered the sound of a car outside. Hoping she was right about who it was she stood up and held out her hand saying, “Come on Cowboy, I have a surprise for you.”
Placing his hand in hers he got up and followed her onto the porch; when he saw the man getting out of the car he looked from him to his wife and asked, “What are you doing here Trent?”
“Your wife told me how frustrated you’re getting with your therapy; she cleared it with your doctors then asked if I’d come work with you on Martial Arts training.” Looking him over with a critical eye he went on, “Looks like you could use it too, I could actually whip you right now.” Seeing the challenge come to life in Walker’s eyes he laughed, “We’ll get started…after I say hello to that beautiful baby girl of yours.”
A few minutes later he looked up saying, “Man are you going to have your hands full when this one grows up, she’ll have every boy in Texas knocking on your door.”
Growling, Walker replied, “Any boy that messes with my little Angel will regret it.”
Looping her arms around her husband’s neck she said, “You are not going to beat up every boy she brings home, I don’t want to visit you in prison.” Turning to Trent she said, “Thank you so much for coming, I’ll go on in so you and Walker can talk about where you’re going to start with the training.”
A couple of hours later Alex stood watching as the two men went through several movements with jabs, kicks and punches; studying her husband she could tell he was tiring but determined not to give in; she was ready to intervene when Trent spotted her.
“Okay Walker let’s stop for a while, I need to catch my breath; Alex promised me a ride and asked me to stay for dinner tonight, maybe we can do some more after that.” Making sure the man couldn’t see him he winked at Alex and she grinned at him in return.
Trying hard to hide how exhausted he really was he said, “Looks like I’m not the only one out of shape; I’m going to go take a shower.” He paused to give Alex a kiss on his way past and whispered, “Want to come wash my back?”
With a laugh she swatted his butt saying, “Let me talk to Trent a minute first.” Once he was out of earshot she asked, “So what do you think?”
“He’s actually a lot better than I anticipated, but by no means in “kick bad guy butt” shape; don’t worry though, I’ll get him there.”
Hugging him she said, “I know you will; if you want to grab a shower you’re welcome to use the one upstairs, the doctors don’t want Walker to climb stairs yet so we’re staying down here.”
“I’ll take you up on that.”
“Okay, after you get done we can take a ride…assuming he’s still awake.”
“Alex, despite what it looked like when you came in…we mostly did a lot of stretching and flexibility exercises so I could gauge his abilities.”
Placing her hand on the younger man’s shoulder she said, “Trent, we’ve known each other a long time, you don’t have to explain every move you make to me, I trust you and so does Walker.”
Watching her walk out away he smiled and for the first time in longer than he cared to think about he actually relaxed.
Going into the house she heard the shower and placing the baby monitor where she could hear it she quickly shed her clothes and joined her husband. It was quite a while before they went back into the bedroom and she motioned for him to lie down.
Raising his eyebrow he asked, “Again?”
Backhanding him lightly she said, “Behave yourself or I won’t give you your back massage today and I have a strong suspicion you really need it.”
With a quiet sigh he replied, “You’re right, don’t you dare tell Trent but I was ready to drop when you came in.”
“I shouldn’t have to tell him, you need to stop being my stubborn, mule-headed cowboy and admit your limitations before you end up doing more harm than good.” She kissed him and whispered, “Now cooperate or I’m out of here.”
“Yes ma’am.” He sank down onto the bed and rolled over on his stomach so she could work on the tight muscles in his back; within a couple of minutes he was sound asleep.
When she finished the massage she debated for a minute then covered him with a blanket and left him to sleep.
Trent had showered and made his way back downstairs, he poured himself a cup of coffee and stared out the door as his thoughts drifted to the man down the hall; Walker had always been there for him from the time he had accidentally killed a friend when he was a kid, to the time after his father had died, to helping him open Thunder Karate which he was running again with help from a trusted friend. Now it was his turn to return the favor and he made a vow to himself that he would do whatever it took to ensure his friend made it back to his former self.
Watching him for a few minutes she softly said his name and when he turned she asked, “Are you hungry?”
“Not really, is he asleep?”
“Definitely, you wore him out.”
“Why don’t we skip the riding then; I can run a few errands and come back tonight for dinner.”
“It’s a long drive, are you sure?”
Going to her side he gave her a gentle hug as he replied, “Alex, I don’t think you know half the things he’s done for me over the years, I know he doesn’t expect anything in return but I owe him more than I could ever repay; helping him get back to normal is my top priority at the moment.”
After he left she went into the bedroom and being careful not to wake her husband she slid in beside him and closed her eyes.
Angela woke them a little while later and he said, “You take care of her and I’ll make us something to eat.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Did Trent go for a ride?”
“He decided to leave and come back later.”
After they ate he said, “I’d still like to go for a ride, we could take Angela to the river, maybe go for a swim.”
“I’d like that.”
They both put on swimsuits under their clothes and while Alex took care of getting the baby ready he went out and saddled the horses being careful to move slowly as he knew he wasn’t back to full strength yet.
When they arrived at their favorite spot they both stripped down to their suits and carrying Angela they waded out into the water; she had absolutely no fear, even when they dunked her under she came up laughing. They played for a while then took her back to shore and after covering her with sunscreen they placed her on the blanket so she could look around.
“Hon, let me put some of that sunscreen on you, we both know you’ll get sunburned otherwise.”
She handed him the lotion saying, “You know I’m not buying that little act of yours, it’s just an excuse to get your hands on me.”
“Do I need an excuse?”
They both laughed as he dropped the lotion and tugged her up against him; her arms went up around his neck as their lips met.
Much later he got around to applying the lotion and they played in the water for a while before she said, “We should get out, I’m sure our little one is going to require attention very soon.”
Neither of them had bothered to put their suits back on after making love and as they exited the water hand in hand he stiffened and said, “Company coming, we better get dressed.”
Not even bothering to ask how he knew she hastily pulled on her mostly dry bathing suit and put her t-shirt on over it as he pulled on his swim trunks.
They were sitting on the blanket with the baby when Trivette rode up and dismounted; the innocence of the scene didn’t fool him for a minute and chuckling he said, “Looks like I still need to work on my timing.”
Shooting him a dagger filled look Walker replied, “You could say that; what’s so important that you couldn’t wait for us at the house?”
Trying to act nonchalant he replied, “Oh it’s nothing important, I went with Erica for her sonogram today…”
They both climbed to their feet and Alex asked, “What did you find out?”
With a huge grin he answered, “We’re having twins!”
The three of them all hugged each other and it was Alex who said, “That’s wonderful news; we definitely need to get together to celebrate.”
“We also need you guys to help us plan the wedding, the sooner the better.”
“Well Trent is coming for dinner tonight then he’s going to be working with Walker, but after that we’re pretty much open.”
“Working with him?”
“Alex arranged it with the doctors, I’ll still be doing my regular therapy, but Trent will be working with me on flexibility and mobility through Martial Arts training; hopefully that will get me back in shape a lot sooner.”
Sharing a tolerant look with Alex he shook his head; both of them knew that Walker was not a very cooperative patient unless he wanted to be. “I kind of feel sorry for him; he’s going to be caught between Alex telling him to go easy and you telling him to push harder.”
Arching an eyebrow in his wife’s direction he got a brilliant smile in return and with a sigh he muttered, “Trent doesn’t stand a chance against Alex; you and I both know that Trivette.”
“Come on guys, that was a long time ago; I’m sure he’s over that crush.”
Both men gaped at her and Jimmy asked, “You knew?!”
“Of course I knew and if he’d ever done anything inappropriate I would have set him straight but he was always the perfect gentleman.”
Taking her in his arms Walker said, “You’re always finding new ways to surprise me…hmm, maybe I should hook him up with Sydney.”
Stepping away from him she said, “I swear you are so clueless sometimes Cordell Walker; don’t you even think about doing that!”
Turning a ‘What did I do’ look at Trivette he noticed the wide smile and asked, “One of you want to clue me in?”
“Partner, I swear you have to be in denial; Syd’s in love with Gage and he’s in love with her; unfortunately they’re just as blind as you and Alex were for so many years.”
“Syd and Gage, really?” He mulled it over in his mind and with the new insight he’d just had pointed out to him he thought back over the past couple of years, the way they worried about each other, looked out after each other…he’d just thought it was a partner thing but now…”I guess I didn’t want to see it; Lord knows what the Captain will do when he finds out.”
The three of them were silent as none of them knew the answer, but all hoped that if it ever came to light the two would not be separated.
Angela woke from her nap and seeing Jimmy she immediately giggled and reached for him; he obligingly scooped her up and blew raspberries on her stomach which made her laugh even harder. He had a huge grin on his face when he looked up saying, “Maybe one of mine will be a boy and Angela will marry him when they’re old enough.”
Walker was ready to make his customary speech about her not marrying for many, many years but as he looked at his daughter a strange feeling came over him and White Eagle’s face appeared in his mind, then a picture of a grown up Angela in a wedding dress with her hand extended to a handsome black man; he heard himself say, “You never know partner.”
Laughing at the two of them Alex said, “Guys, come on, Angela’s not even a year old and Jimmy’s twins aren’t even born yet, I don’t think we need to plan their wedding just yet; especially since we need to get the twins’ parents married off first.”
Trying to shake off the weird feeling Walker said, “Let’s head home, it’s hot out here and for whatever reason I’m feeling really tired.”
Exchanging worried glances with Jimmy she asked, “Darling, are you okay? I can have Jimmy go get your truck.”
“No, that’s okay, but I’ll let him carry Angela back.”
Keeping an eye on her husband she pulled her jeans on and packed the blanket and other things while Jimmy continued to hold the baby. She watched as her husband pulled on his jeans and t-shirt then looked at her friend saying, “Go ahead and put Angela in her cradleboard and I’ll help you get her on your back.” Once that was accomplished she quickly got Ranger and Angel saddled and helped her husband mount. She hung the bag containing the blanket and the baby things on her saddle horn and waited until Jimmy was mounted before swinging up on Angel. She rode beside her husband and as they got closer to the house she said, “Let me use your phone Jimmy, I’m going to call Angus and have him meet us at the house.”
“Honey, I’m fine.”
“No you’re not, you think I haven’t noticed that you’re swaying in the saddle?”
He didn’t answer and again she exchanged worried glances with Jimmy, he nodded at the phone she held and using his fingers he quickly flashed her a 9-1-1 signal with a questioning look.
“Not unless we have to.” She dialed Angus and he assured her he was on his way; she handed the phone back to Jimmy before saying, “When we get home I want you to put Angela in her crib while Angus and I get Walker into bed.”
”Why don’t you take Angela and let me help with Walker, no offense but if he’s as out of it as I think he is…I’m a lot stronger than you are.”
Knowing he was right she said, “Okay, I’ll take her then come check on him, we’ll decide what we need to do then; Angus will take care of the horses.”
When they got to the house Angus was anxiously pacing in front of the barn and he readily agreed to the prearranged plan. It took him and Jimmy both to get Walker into the house and as they laid him in bed he mumbled, “Thanks.”
Angus went back out to take care of the horses and Jimmy sat down on the edge of the bed saying, “Hey partner, you’re worrying me here and if I’m this nervous…I don’t even want to think about how Alex is feeling.”
She joined him in the room saying, “I’m nervous too, talk to us Cowboy, what’s going on?”
Sleepily he replied, “You guys won’t believe me; must be that “Cherokee” ya’ll keep talking about, but I saw it.”
“White Eagle, then a wedding, it was Angela as a grown woman and the groom was a spitting image of Trivette, only younger, they were so happy, so much in love.” Closing his eyes he fell asleep.
Looking at Alex and shaking his head Jimmy said, “I was just kidding.”
Leaning over to kiss her husband she replied, “Do you remember many years ago when you were working with the psychic and I asked you about the man I was going to marry…CD said the guy on the card looked like Walker…maybe you’re better at fortune telling than you think.”
“I think you’re both crazy.”
She kissed his cheek as she said, “Maybe, maybe not; I’m going to call Trent and tell him dinner is off for tonight; I’ll let my husband sleep for a while and if he still seems out of it when he wakes up I’m going to call Dr. Richards.”
“Okay, if you need me let me know.”
Once Jimmy was gone she called Trent to let him know the change in plans and when he asked if it was because of the workout from the morning she reassured him it wasn’t his fault.
Returning to her husband’s bedside she sat down beside him and was joined by Angus a few minutes later; she explained what had happened to him and when he gave her a peculiar look she asked, “What are you thinking?”
“You ever saw him right after a sweat lodge ceremony?”
“Of course I have; what does that have to do…” Her voice trailed off as she realized what he was talking about and she whispered, “Now it makes sense, the weakness, the exhaustion, he had a vision.”
“Obviously a very strong one; I’m going to head home, if you need me again call.”
Alex sat beside her husband for a little while and smiled as he showed signs of waking up; using her fingers she pushed the hair back from his forehead and gently kissed him there as she asked, “Are you okay?”
He looked around in puzzlement as he asked, “How did I get here?”
“Don’t you remember? Jimmy and Angus more or less carried you in after you zoned out at the lake.”
The vision came flooding back and quietly he said, “I’m sorry, that must have scared you; I’m surprised you didn’t take me straight to the hospital.”
“I was tempted, but Angus helped me understand what happened.”
Sitting up he swung his legs over the side of the bed and rubbing his temples he replied, “I’ve never had a vision that strong outside of the sweat lodge; it wiped me out.”
“So how do you feel about it?”
“Honey you know how close Trivette and I are; if that truly was a vision of our daughter’s future…I’m totally fine with it.”
“So am I.”
He tugged her down so she was sitting beside him on the bed and asked, “Now what about OUR future?”
Linking her hands at the back of his neck she replied, “You tell me Cowboy.”
Lowering her back onto the mattress he claimed her lips in a passionate kiss before saying, “I’d rather show you.”
Every time I visit Washington DC I end up going to the Vietnam Wall Memorial, something about it keeps pulling me back.
If you ever have the chance to visit…I highly recommend it…just be prepared because it is a truly emotional experience.