Joaquin by Sasquaw
 
             Ranger James Trivette is awakened by the sounds of someone pounding on his front door and the excessive ringing of the doorbell. He groans and lets out a string of curse words as he looks at his alarm clock.

"3 am?---Who the hell is banging on our door at this hour?”
            The woman in his bed sits up quickly and rubs her eyes, "Jimmy----please be careful!!”
               Trivette is grabbing his jeans and then reaches for his handgun, he turns to the woman, "I will baby---stay up here, where it's safe.”
            The woman is already throwing the covers back and reaching for her little night gown, she gathers it tightly around her protruding stomach, "Like hell I will---I'm going with you!”
            The pounding and the ringing is getting louder as Trivette practically jumps down the stairs, he yells out.
            "O.k., o.k.---I hear you----get off that damn doorbell!”
            The black ranger reaches the door and peeps out through the peephole, his eyes grow wide in disbelief as to who is on the other side of the door. The ranger yanks the door open and the blonde headed woman stumbles inside, clutching a small bundle.
                "ALEX?"   Trivette grabs the woman, as Erica Trivette runs to them also.
            "Alex, what's wrong, is someone chasing you---where's Walker?”
            Alex is trying to speak as she motions for Trivette to close the door quickly. She runs to the picture window and looks out.
            "He's crazy------he's crazy------"
                Trivette is in shock as he and his wife exchange looks, "Who's crazy, Alex?"
            Erica is trying to take the small bundle from her frightened friend, "It's o.k. Alex----let me have Angela----you're both safe now!”
                 Trivette is grabbing Alex again, "Alex, sweetheart---what is going on? Is Walker in some kind of danger----where is he? Who are you afraid of?”
            Alex is shaking so bad she can barely stand as Trivette helps her to the couch.  He looks back to his wife as she is trying to soothe a now crying 5 month old.  Erica is searching for the baby's bottle and then she runs as fast to the kitchen as her condition will allow her.
                   Trivette sits down beside his partner's wife, she is staring back at him through piercing blue eyes.
            "O.k., Alex---calm down----please tell me---what is going on? Is someone after you, have they hurt Walker----what? Who are you running from?”
            The name comes forward in barely a whisper, "Walker'.
            The ranger stares back at the blonde, he nods his head slowly, "I don't understand, sweetheart---what are you saying?”
                     "Jimmy-----he's crazy----he came home drunk---and---and he started throwing things around----and yelling!----I've never seen him this way before!!!”
            "Wait a minute----what are you saying-----did you and Walker have an argument? What started all of this?”
            Alex keeps looking to the kitchen as she hears her daughter crying, she keeps shaking her head back and forth.
            "I don't know what happened-----Jimmy----I think maybe he's having another one of those flashbacks----of being back in those prisons in Vietnam!”
            The black ranger is staring back in disbelief, "A flashback?----Alex----he hasn't  had one of those----in years!---Are you sure?”
           Alex is crying again, "I don't know what to think Jimmy----all I know is---that Walker was a mad man tonight---he---he------"
           Trivette's brow arches, "He 'what'---Alex?---What did Walker do?”
           Alex covers her mouth as she continues to sob harder, her shoulders are heaving, she keeps shaking her head.
           Trivette's anger is starting to show as he grabs Alex by the shoulders, she screams out in pain as her robe falls from her shoulders, revealing a bruise. Trivette's eyes grow wide as he draws back in disbelief.
           "Oh my God----Alex----did Walker do this?”
           Alex continues to cry harder as Trivette is now walking in circles and mumbling, "I'll kill him----I swear I'll kill him!”
           Erica is now coming back into the room as she has given Angela a bottle and the baby is falling back asleep, she sees her husband walking in circles and she has heard the threats that he has  spoken.
           "Kill who?---Jimmy---what is going on, who are you going to kill?”
           "Walker----that's who!" Trivette stomps over to the couch and points to Alex's bruised shoulder---"See what he did, Erica ---so help me---I'm going to kill him!”!
           Trivette is now stomping to the hall closet to retrieve another change of clothes, and Erica is right behind him.
           She grabs the ranger's arm with one hand while still trying to hold her goddaughter, "No, Jimmy----you are not going over there----let the police handle it!”
           "She's right Jimmy."  Alex is running towards him now and trying to stop him from putting his gun belt on---"Please Jimmy---do not go over there---he's crazy---he doesn't know what he's doing!”
           Trivette is refusing to listen as he continues to swear under his breath, "Flashback or no flashback---that gives him no reason to hurt you----now get out of my way!!!”
           Alex puts herself between Trivette and the front door, "No---I am not moving----Jimmy---you know that you are no match for Walker------"

Trivette is getting angrier as he stares back at Alex, he lowers his voice---"I know that Walker can mop the floor up with me with all of that martial arts crap---but so help me---he's going to know that he's been in a fight!  I will not stand by and let him do this to you---my God, Alex---how long has this been going on?”
           Alex has started to cry again as she reaches out to take her daughter, she walks slowly to the couch and sits down. She reaches down and kisses Angela's forehead and then she looks back to her friends.
           "He's been acting strange ever since he came back from  Baton Rouge----he was having to testify at that trial down there.”
                      "The  Claytons' trial---the same trial that you were on, Jimmy?”

Trivette nods his head, "Yeah,----but when you started having  trouble with your pregnancy----they said my testimony wasn't all that important---that Walker's would be more than enough."
         Alex is sniffling and trying to get herself together, "Jimmy----did Walker have any of the flashback symptoms then?”
         "No----he said he had a headache---and I tried to get him to take something for it- but you know how he feels about taking pills---stubborn Cherokee pride!!!”
         "Yes, I know----he refuses to take any kind of a pill.”
         "Yeah, well---you and Erica can discuss the Cherokee warrior's stubbornness--- I am going over to your ranch and Walker and I are going to have a little 'pow wow'-----and don't either of you try to stop me----I'm out of here!!!”!
            Erica is now in tears---"Jimmy---oh my God----he's just as stubborn as Walker---someone is going to get hurt.”
           "I'm sorry Erica for bringing this to your doorstep---and  you in "your condition---Angela and I will go somewhere else----"

"No, You and my little goddaughter are staying right here---but I am calling the police!”
           It's less than 5 miles to the Walker ranch as the Trivettes have driven the short drive many times from their own home, just down the road.


********************************************************

 

Trivette's mind is racing with all kinds of memories going through his mind of the past 10 years and his partnership with Cordell Walker. They were like brothers, they were the best of friends, and even though Walker didn't want a law partner---James Trivette soon won out.
           They had their share of arguments, but when Walker finally confessed to him that he "was proud to have Trivette as his partner"--everything changed. They soon became friends and even doubled dated a couple of times, but even then the ranger knew that Walker would never reveal his true feelings about anything, especially personal.
            Deep down, Trivette knew that Walker and Alex had feelings for each other that went outside of the federal building, but they were constantly trying to avoid a relationship. It was years before Walker and Alex finally dropped the pretence of just being friends, and when it was out in the open about their dating--Trivette was seeing a completely different man in Walker. Walker had softened, he was crazy about Alex and the feelings were definitely mutual.
            Finally the wedding date was set and Trivette was standing beside his 'new found brother' as his best man. A little over a year later and it was Trivette that was taking the plunge and beside him as his best man, was Walker.
            The Walkers' wedding gift to the Trivettes was a deed to 25 acres of land at the north end of Walker's property, with the promise they would build a home there. As soon as the Trivettes returned from their honeymoon, their home was being built. Three months later the happy couple moved in and soon it was an never-ending trip back and forth between the happy couples. The Trivettes had another reason to be happy, they were expecting and now it was the Walkers' turn to be godparents.
                   Trivette's mind is in a whirl as screeches his little sports car to a halt in front of the Walkers' front door, he exits the car and runs up the steps, calling out his partner's name.
                    "WALKER---Walker----where the hell are you?”
                   Trivette is now taking the stairs three at a time as he barges into the master bedroom. He sees his friend laying across the king-size bed, still clothed. Trivette stomps over to the bed and picks up a pillow and slams it into the back of Walker's head.
            "Get up---you sorry son-of-a bitch!”

Walker barely stirs as Trivette hits him again, "I said get up----or so help me, I will pull you out of that bed by your boots and beat the hell out of you with them!!!”
                     "Trivette?----Is that you" the bearded ranger mumbles.
                 Trivette is swearing more as he reaches down and grabs Walker by his belt buckle and starts pulling him off the bed, "Yeah---it's me---you sorry scum----now get out of that bed---NOW!!!”
            Walker is rubbing his eyes and trying to stand up, Trivette can smell the booze as he starts backing up.
            "What the hell is wrong with you man---how could you hurt Alex this way?”
            “Alex?----Alex-----where is she?”
                  Trivette can contain his anger no longer as he slams his fist into Walker's face---"She and Angela are my place----you sorry bastard!”
            Walker falls backward onto the bed, grabbing his face and then staring back at the black ranger, "What's wrong with you, Trivette----have you gone crazy---what did you hit me for?”
                    Trivette is glaring down at his friend, his fist curls and uncurls---"How does it feel, big man---huh? You're always so big when you're hitting someone else---but never----NEVER did I ever believe that you would hit Alex!”
            Walker is staring back at Trivette, he rubs his face and then he stands up slowly, "I never meant to hurt her---she just wouldn't get out of my face----she kept asking me questions-----"
              Trivette groans and then another fist goes into Walker's face and the fight has begun. The two men are making shambles out of the master bedroom as Trivette is going head first into Walker's stomach, knocking him backwards.
                    Outside the sound of sirens can be heard but they fall on deaf ears as the two rangers are continuing to exchange blows, the officers are taking the stairs as fast as they can. The officers know both of the rangers personally, they can't believe their eyes. The one officer swears under his breath.
            "Oh shit-----I'm calling for backup---to break these two up.”
            Three more squad cars  are on the scene and it's taking all nine men to get the rangers separated, finally they have them both subdued.
            The officer in charge is staring at both of the rangers in disbelief, "What the hell is going on here, Trivette?---Your wife called and told us that a 219 was going down----who was assaulted?”
                   Trivette pulls himself out of the officer's grip and glares back at Walker---"Ask him!”


          **************************************

   
                        It's now an hour later and the officers have finished getting their reports, the

senior officer walks back to Trivette.
            "Ranger Walker said that he and his wife had a argument, and that he might have pushed her"
            Trivette's anger is still boiling as he glares back at his friend, "Pushed her?----Hell---he did more than just push her---wait till you see the bruises on her shoulder!”
           "We have officers over at your place, Trivette----Mrs Walker refuses to press any charges, but she has agreed to go to the hospital to get checked out.” The officer looks back at Walker and then to Trivette.
           "Trivette, what is going on here? I've known you and Walker for almost 6 years, I've never heard either of you say a unkind word about each other---and then we come in here and the two of you are at each other's throats?”
           Trivette is still glaring at Walker, who is acting like he's not too concerned with any of the happenings around him. Walker stares back at him, and Trivette can almost swear he sees a smile. A chill goes up the back of the black ranger as he mumbles.
           "I wish I knew what was going on Smitty----I wish I knew!”


                   *********************************************************

Alex has been checked out and the Doctor has released her, she is now heading back to the Trivettes to pick up Angela. She has agreed that she and her daughter will stay there for the night.
           The phone is ringing constantly and it's Walker wanting to talk to her, Trivette yells back at him.
           "She and Angela are staying here---and you better not make any attempt to come over here---or so help me Walker---I will use any and all means to stop you---you hear me?”
            “Yeah, I hear you---I'll give Alex time enough to cool off and then she'll come home---you'll see!”
            Alex has heard the conversation, she starts to cry again. "I don't even know him anymore----he's completely changed.”
           "Alex----he needs help---if he's having those flashbacks again"
           "But Jimmy---I've never seen him this bad before---he's never been violent---not towards me.”
           Jimmy sits down on the side of Alex's bed and takes her hand, Erica has brought them hot tea.
           "I remember Uncle Ray saying that Walker could get pretty violent at times, that he would strike out at whoever was the closest to him.”
           Alex sips her tea slowly, "But, that was in the early part of those flashbacks, when the memories were fresh!---But Jimmy----you saw how he was during that last  one that he had---down in the bayou---when you and C.D. were with him on that fishing trip?”
           "I remember Alex and I also remember that he almost took my head off because I came up behind him with no warning. "Big dog" told me how lucky I was that Walker didn't snap my neck into.”
            "I don't understand, Jimmy----I can't picture Walker striking out at the people he loves----and most certainly---not Alex!”
            "Babe----you haven't been around him long enough to have seen what those flashbacks can do----and believe me---whatever 'triggered' this one---has really done a number on him. Before------after a couple of days R&R----and the man was alright again. Right, Alex?”
            "Yes-----but Walker started having some bad dreams again---just right before he had to go down to Louisiana for that trial, he would wake up in the middle of the night---in a cold sweat.”
            Erica has tried to follow the conversation, "And these dreams were caused from Walker's being held in a prison camp---during the Viet Nam war?”
                     Trivette nods his head, "Yeah----and when Walker would talk about it----it was pretty gruesome. He didn't like talking about it---but those doctors made him get out in the open----and I thought he was handling it  o.k.---"
            Alex clutches her tea cup tighter, "This one is different, Jimmy---the first couple of days after he came back, he was his usual self---but all of a sudden----he started changing.”
            "How Alex?----Can you pinpoint the day he started changing----did something happen?”
            Alex hesitates, "I think the first time I noticed was when he screamed at Angela-----"
            Erica gasps, "Oh God-----I've never heard Walker so much as raise his voice to that baby-----what caused him to yell at her?”
            Alex hands her half empty tea cup to Trivette, he takes it and sits it down on the night stand---"Would you rather get some sleep, Alex---we can talk more about this in the morning if you prefer?”
            Alex looks over to the little bassinet where her daughter sleeps, the new bassinet is to be for the little Trivette that will arrive in the early spring.
            "I would have to start at the very beginning----are you two sure you want to hear this?”
            "Only if you want to tell us, Alex---Jimmy and I are just concerned about where and how all of this came about---just tell us what you want us to hear---o.k.?”
            Alex takes a deep breath, "It all started happening about 7 or 8 months ago----before we got all wrapped up in La'Vacot"  doings. Walker got a phone call from one of his Marine buddies, wanting him to come to Camp Pendleton for one of those reunions.
            Walker didn't want to go to the reunion, but he wanted to see some of his buddies. He said he just wanted to talk to some of his buddies and go over the good times they had together---not to rehash the horrible events that happened to them in those prison camps. I told him that whatever he wanted to do was  o.k. with me, so he called his friends and they agreed to come to Dallas. I thought this would be a good time to go and visit my Dad in Houston---so Walker and his friends could have some private discussions. I knew how much he hated talking about Nam, so I flew down to Houston to visit with my Dad.
            When I came back, Walker was kind of withdrawn, but it didn't last very long. He just said that no matter how much that he and his buddies tried to avoid talking about the prison camps---they still surfaced. And, for a couple of nights he had trouble getting to sleep---so he would have a drink.
            After one or two drinks, he would fall asleep----and then the nightmares started coming back. He would wake up in a cold sweat and it would take forever for him to fall back asleep. Sometimes, he would saddle up "Amigo" and they would go for a nice long ride. This went on for about a month and then everything stopped---everything was back to normal again----and then we got involved with "La'Vacot.”
            "Yeah" replies Trivette, "I remember Walker being tired and not getting much sleep, I asked him what the problem was and all he would say was that he was worried about you and the pregnancy.  He never said anything about the nightmares or flashbacks.”
            Alex sighs, "He never mentioned it to anyone, except commander Briscoe---and Briscoe told him to see a Doctor---just like before---back in '94' when he had that other relapse. And, surprisingly Walker didn't argue with him about it, Briscoe said that Walker's main concern was me and the baby----so he saw a military Doctor. that one of his Marine buddies referred him to.  Walker saw him for almost a week----and he said that he felt so much better and the nightmares  were fading!”
            "And-----Walker was never violent towards you?" asks Erica.
            "NO----no way----he never even raised his voice and I know sometimes his headaches were really bad----I just knew to give him space when he was having them. He was always as considerate as he could be, and even though he was having splitting headaches---he still was more concerned with my health----and worried about the baby."
              Trivette is shaking his head, "Something had to have triggered these memories of those prison camps---Alex, did he say what he and his friends talked about, and why was he seeing a military doctor?"
            "No, he just said that their meeting didn't go as well as he had hoped.  When his friends left---they were depressed and withdrawn too, like he was the first couple of days. The doctor was a friend of Walker's while in the service, this doctor is of course retired, he was seeing Walker on a personal favor!”
           Erica walks across the hallway and gets another blanket for Alex to cover with and then she walks over to the little bassinet, she shakes her head.
           "I can't believe that anyone would scream at this baby and least of all, Walker!”
           Alex is starting to cry again, "That's when I knew something was definitely wrong" (she sobs) Walker has never raised his voice to her---and I've seen him so tired from lack of sleep that it would be understandable for even him to lose his patience---but---to scream at her--------I was so scared---and then the arguing started between us."
           "I think maybe we should all try and get some sleep-----tomorrow is soon enough to get all of this out," suggests Erica.
           Trivette nods his head as he eases Alex's head back against the pillow, "Erica is right----you need sleep sweetheart---and don't worry about Angela, we'll take the crib into our room, should she wake .”
           Alex is fighting the sleep as the memories start coming back to her:


                                ************************************

 

Ranger headquarters: 5 weeks earlier)

The room is filled with laughter as Walker is sitting at his desk, cooing at his daughter and bouncing her gently on his knee. The secretaries are all "gushy" as they keep stopping and saying "ga ga" words to young Angela.
           Walker is beaming as the usual round of compliments are being heard all around the room.
            "Look at those eyes----she has beautiful eyes"-----
            "They are such a beautiful blue----she has Alex's eyes"-------
            “And, look at that infectious smile----she's soooo cute!”
            Walker nods his head, "She takes after her Mother.”
            To which Trivette and Gage both answer at the same time, "Thank goodness!!!”
            Walker laughs and throws a paper wad over at the two rangers, "Hey----she's got some of my traits too!”!
            "Yes----the Walker temper!”!  Answers a feminine voice.
            Everyone laughs as Alex walks over to her husband's desk.
            Walker smiles back at his wife,  "Hi hon----ready to take me to the airport?”
           "Whenever you're ready, how about you, Angela, ready to take Daddy to the airport?”


                                 ******************************************************

The goodbyes are exchanged at the office and now Alex and Angela are saying their goodbyes at DFW. Walker is holding his daughter close to him, kissing her cheek repeatedly.
            "I'm not looking forward to this-----not one bit!"
                    "Neither am I, honey. I've been hearing rumors about how long this testimony could go, witnesses are disappearing-----and showing up as gator food in the swamps!”
            Walker sighs, "Yeah, I know-----I just wish there was some way you and Angela could go down there with me, just knowing that you're in a hotel nearby would be comforting."
                 "Sweetheart, we wouldn't be able to communicate with you---you're going to be in total isolation along with those other witnesses----"
            "You don't have to remind me-----so, are you going down to visit your dad in Houston, I thought he swore he would never live in Texas?  'What,' or should I say 'who' changed his mind?”
            Alex frowns, "Yeah, I promised him that I would bring Angela down for a visit---but I'm not looking forward to being around  that ''nit-wit teeny bopper' of a girlfriend that he's seeing!”
            “Hon----she's not a "teeny bopper'---my God, the woman is pushing 40---if she's pushing a day!---She just dresses like a teenager!”
            Alex rolls her eyes up in her head, "and, walks and giggles like one. I just wish my Dad would find someone more his age---if I hear that woman say one more time that my Dad is not bad in the sex department for a 65 yr old---I'm going to scream!!!”
            Walker is laughing as he draws his wife close and whispers, "Your Dad is just going through his 'mid life' crisis---most men go through that stage at least once in their life"----
            "Oh really?” Alex stares back at her husband, "is this a known fact?”
            The ranger clears his throat, "That's what I hear-----anyways----let your Dad enjoy-----I mean---let him have some fun---I mean--------"
                  "Walker---honey---shut up----before you dig an even deeper hole than the one you started", Alex is trying not to laugh.
            The flight departures are being called out and Walker swears. "I guess that's mine.”
            Walker kisses his daughter again and brushes her blond hair back, looking into her eyes.
            "O.k., my angel---Daddy has to go away for a few days---you be a good girl for Mommy and I will bring you back a baby alligator----stuffed, of course! And, maybe I can join you at grandpa's, would you like that?”
                     Angela's answer is a giggle as she reaches out and tries to grab Walker's beard, Walker laughs and nibbles her hand softly. He then looks to Alex, who has tears in her eyes.
            "This is going to be the longest that we've ever been away from each other since Angela was born", she starts to sniffle.
            "I know" the ranger answers, "I'm already missing you---I'll call you as soon as they will let me use a phone.”
            Alex nods, "Yes---as soon as possible---I love you, Walker!”
            He kisses her long and tender as he holds their daughter close to him, his eyes start to mist.
            "I love you too---more than you will ever realize-----I love you more each day.”
            She strokes his beard as his left hand reaches up to take her hand down, he kisses her wedding ring, then he winks at her.
            "I cross my heart"  he whispers the words of the George Strait song, and then he hands his daughter to her.
He mumbles quickly, "I got to go----take care---I love you both" and then he's walking quickly to the loading ramp.


                           ****************************************
          

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

It's almost a week before Walker is allowed phone privileges as he hurriedly dials his home number. He is being observed by a female jurist as her eyes rake up and down his solid frame. She edges closer to hear his end of the conversation.
            She watches as the ranger mumbles a curse word and then dials another number. He keeps looking at his watch.
            "Alex----I thought you would never answer!”
            Alex is speaking through tears, "Oh Walker, I am so glad to hear from you, are you o.k.?”
            "I'm fine hon--and you?---How is Angela?”
            Alex is answering her husband's questions as fast she can, "Walker, honey---do you know when the trial might be over? I've been trying to keep in touch with the attorneys down there---but it's so 'hush hush'---no news is coming out about the trial!”
            "No hon, another witness failed to appear---we're back in lock up again---we're only allowed a 3 minute call---and nothing can be said about that--the trial.”
            "Of course---I should know that---I'll be careful not to say anything more about it. Honey, are you still having the headaches?”
            Walker smiles and leans back against the wall, the woman is watching his body language, and then she smiles to herself and whispers.
            "Nice body-----oh so nice, I wasn't told this Cordell Walker was built so solid, the pictures certainly never gave him enough justice---I'm going to enjoy this mission!”
            She goes back to listening to the ranger, but his voice is becoming softer, she can't make out what the man is saying, she can only imagine.
            “The headaches are almost gone hon, I did break down and ask the bailiff for some aspirin--I feel a lot better-----at least at that end. The other end of me is  causing a lot of sleepless nights---what about you?”
            "I keep waking up and going to your side of the bed, Angela misses you too. We both miss you so much!”
            "I'm holding you both in my dreams, that is when I can sleep---my room mate snores louder than Trivette---and believe me I never thought anyone could snore louder than Trivette!”
            Now Alex is smiling, "Well, I just hope your room mate is not a female----"
            "Right now my room mate could be the Playboy center fold and she wouldn't faze me in the least.”
            Are you saying you're not even "horny?” It's been almost a week---and you don't even miss me?”
            "I miss you and 'yes' I'm horny---I just try and think of something else---like being in a sweat lodge and having Uncle Ray chant the devish thoughts away!”
            "Is it working?” Alex continues to tease.
            Walker sighs, "Not one damn bit---I'm taking a lot of cold showers!! In fact I almost slept in the bathtub last night, it was more comfortable and I didn’t have to hear all of that damn snoring!”


                 "TIME'S UP", the bailiff is yelling out, "you got exactly 10 seconds to say your goodbyes---then lights out---everyone to your rooms.”
            Walker curses, "I got to go hon---I love you---give Angela a kiss for me---and I'll call you soon----I hope!---I love you.”
            The woman is pretending to hang up from a conversation, she sees Walker walking slowly back to his room, she walks quickly up beside him and runs into him.
            "Oh excuse me---I'm sorry---I should watch where I'm going" she mutters.
            Walker forces a smile, "It's o.k., no harm done" and he continues on.
            The woman keeps talking, "It's like being in a prison---or at least I would think it was like a prison---I wouldn't know.----They sure don't give us much freedom, do they?"
            Walker stops and looks at the woman, she's tall and very attractive, he smiles, "Well, that's what it means to be testifying in a witness protection program."
            The woman smiles back at him, "I've never done this before--I don't even know why I'm here---I didn't see anything-----"
            Walker puts his hand up, "We're not suppose to be discussing this, even among ourselves---we can't mention it in anyway.”
            The woman grimaces as she puts her hand up to her mouth, "Ooops, sorry.”
            Walker smiles, "Goodnight-----"
            "Wait a minute, can't we just talk for a few seconds-----do you have a cigarette?”
            Walker shakes his head, "They're about to turn the lights out---you best get to your room-----and "no" I don't have a cigarette--I don't smoke. Besides---" Walker points to a "No Smoking" sign---"it's a smoke free environment.”
            The woman watches as Walker finds his room and enters, she turns around slowly and walks back to her's. She flops herself down on her bed and pulls a cigarette out of the mattress cover, she lights up and lays back down on the bed slowly.
            She sighs as the smokes fills the air, thank goodness she doesn't have a room mate---compliments of one Grady Henshaw.
            The woman flicks the ashes on the floor, as she giggles out loud.
                 "Smoke free environment, my ass---so, the ranger doesn't have this disgusting vice, I wonder what other vices he doesn't have. I'm going to have to be careful with this one, Grady said he was not to be dealt with carelessly---but that's o.k.---I have plenty of time to find out what the famous Cordell Walker likes-----and doesn't like. Yes sir----I'm going to enjoy this mission, and I'm getting warm just thinking of it."
            The lights go off and only the soft 'whirring sounds' can be heard along with the sounds of groaning.


                           ***********************************************

            Walker has taken another shower, the third one. The excessive snoring of his roommate is like that of a freight train, and for a moment he wishes it was Trivette's snoring that he's having to listen to. He groans and flops down on his bed, fluffing his pillow for the 100th time, he curses.
            “Damn it, I was just starting to get used to those new pillows that Alex bought----the number pillows---or whatever they're called!”!
            His mind is jumbled with memories of home and how he ended up here in Baton Rouge as a witness against a prisoner who was in the witness protection program.
            His name was Rufus Clayton, the youngest son of Ferris Clayton, a man that Walker had crossed paths with some 10 years back.  Ferris Clayton was dealing in drugs and he and his other son Kyle, were ruling the small towns and islands deep in the Louisiana bayou, called The Black Bayou.
                 Walker, Trivette, and their beloved friend, C.D. had taken an unexpected fishing trip to the bayou on the orders of Walker's Doctor, after he suffered a concussion to the head.  Walker was starting to have flashbacks of his time kept a prisoner during the Viet Nam war, and the Doctor had given him an ultimatum, take a vacation or he would send the results of Walker's medical records to Walker's commander. Rather than be forced by commander Brisco to take sick leave and maybe lose wages, Walker agreed to the fishing trip.
            The three clashed with the Clayton family almost immediately when C.D. asked a young waitress to dance, she in return was the 'sometimes girlfriend' of  Kyle Clayton. A fight ensued and soon the Claytons were being very aware that three Texas rangers might not be 'just on vacation' as Walker had mentioned to the woman that had sold them fishing licenses earlier.
            As indeed, the rangers and the Claytons clashed again and a huge drug bust was unfolded. The elder Clayton and Kyle were sent to prison for drug running and attempted murder of three law officers. Kyle got life, Ferris  got the death penalty.
              Walker, Trivette, and C.D. all testified in that trial----and Ferris Clayton's last words to the bearded ranger was "It's not over yet---I have family and friends that will take you out---you're a dead man!”
            Walker sighs and whispers to himself, "It's been 10 years Clayton---and I'm still here---more powerful men than you have tried to take me out---what are you waiting for?”
            The ranger continues to toss and turn and then he takes out their picture and caresses it. It's his favorite picture of the two most important people in his life. He kisses their picture and then he dreams.


                    *********************************************************

            In the next few days, Alex will try to get information on the trial in Baton Rouge, the information is scarce as she is talking to her friend and district attorney, Jan Hanks.
            "Alex, I've told you everything that I can tell you---you know that this is being kept in the highest of secrecy----the witnesses against Rufus Clayton are dropping like flies-----there are only 6 witnesses left---do you want to put your husband's life in jeopardy?”
            "No---of course not!---I just feel so uneasy about this trial and I'm worried about Walker!---And, that's another thing---if the US marshals are so overly concerned with secrecy and protection---how are these witnesses being found out about and how are they being eliminated?”
            "You know as well as I do---that there are leaks--that's why it's so important to keep Walker's and the other witnesses' identities kept secret. But, Alex----if you keep calling the district attorney's office, wanting information---you're putting your husband's life in danger!---You are not thinking straight or logically---I told you that I would get word to you about Walker if he was in any kind of danger!”
            Alex is trying hard to keep a straight face, "You're right, Jan-----but there is something about this case that is sending chills up and down my spine---I have such an uneasy feeling.”
            She hears a giggle on the other end of the line, "Alex---I think you've been around Walker too long and that Cherokee intuition is rubbing off on you!”
                 “Maybe---but I'm sure of one thing since I've known that man---to follow my instincts.-----Rufus Clayton is a very dangerous man and he's proved his loyalty to his old man, more than once----by killing innocent people---just for the fun of it!”
            "Alex, the man is in jail---he's facing nine counts of murder, the last being the cold blooded murder of a six year old girl----there were 8 people that saw him slit the little girl's throat---including your  husband!”
            Alex takes a deep sigh, "I know----and when Walker told me about it later, he had tears in his eyes---he couldn't sleep for weeks!”
            “The man will get death, there's no doubt about it---and the earth will be free of at least one sorry s.o.b!---Alex, I have to go----please don't call me----I will get in touch with you about Walker's safety---o.k.?”
            Alex hangs up the phone as she hears a gentle tap on her office door.
            "Hey counsellor----you ready to leave?"
            "Hi Jimmy----are you sure I can't pick anything up for supper tonight?”
            The ranger walks over and grabs Alex's briefcase, "Nope---everything is taken care of---and I promise I won't have you eating all tofu food. Erica is swinging by the HOPE centre to pick up Angela---and then we are going to have a nice, quiet supper."
            Alex hesitates, "Maybe I should go home, in case Walker calls---"
            "No way!----He knows that if you're not at home, you're at our place---he said to look out for you while he was away and that's just what I plan to do.---Now move it, counsellor---or I'm going to be forced to carry you out of here!"
            Alex laughs, "And, you would do it too, wouldn't you?”
            The ranger is all smiles as he grabs Alex's arm and they walk arm in arm to the elevator. He smiles back at her.
            "Yes, I would!---You're like a sister to me, Alex---and I love you" He reaches over and kisses her cheek as two fellow rangers exit the elevator. They make cat calls at Trivette.
            "Better watch it, Trivette, I've seen Walker bust heads for less than what you're doing!”
            “Yeah, Trivette---don't forget that you're an old married man with a kid in the oven---can't do that stuff anymore!”
                  Trivette snarls back at them and Alex is stifling a giggle at the good natured  teasing.
            "Hee hee" mocks Trivette back at the rangers, "why don't you two get a life?”
            The rangers laugh, "That's something you're not going to have if Walker finds out you're 'pawing' his wife.”
            Alex shakes her head and pushes the elevator button, "Goodbye officers----tell your wives hello.”
            The rangers laugh and then tip their hats to Alex, one turns to the other and sighs, "Only Trivette could get away with touching that woman---I've seen ranger Walker put a man through a wall for trying to 'manhandle'  her.”
            The second ranger nods his head, "Yeah, but Walker and Trivette are real close, not only as partners --but personally too.”

                 *******************************************

            The evening at the Trivettes is spent quietly as Erica has prepared baked fish, collard greens, cornbread, and for dessert---sweet potato pie.
            Alex has tried concentrating on the meal before her, but both Trivette and Erica can tell that she's thinking of Walker.
            "Alex---has there been any word at all?” Asks Erica.
            Alex sips her ice tea, "No---I haven't heard from Walker in almost 8 days---I don't even know if he's testified yet or not.”
            “I don't understand---you are an assistant DA, doesn't that account for any pull at all?”
            "Erica, babe---Alex doesn't have any jurisdiction in the state of Louisiana. She's tried talking to her friend down there, but this trial is highly secretive. They have to protect the witnesses and their identities.”
            Alex nods her head, "Jan Hanks is trying to keep me informed the best she can, and the less information that's coming out on this trial is for the safety of the witnesses.”
            Erica shakes her head, "You're worried sick about Walker, aren't you?---I don't know what I would do if Jimmy was stuck down there on the trial too, not hearing from him----"
                     Trivette reaches out and takes his wife's hand, "You would do just what Alex is doing---learning to accept it. Being the wife of a law officer takes a lot of patience and sleepless nights for both parties------"
            The phone rings and Alex jumps out of her seat to answer it,, "Walker?”
            An all too familiar voice answers cautiously, "No, pumpkin---it's me- Dad.”
            Alex tries to hide her disappointment, "Hi Dad---everything o.k.?”
            "It will be o.k. when you and my granddaughter get down here for your visit, when are you coming?”
            Alex sighs, "Dad, I don't think I would be very good company right now, I think Angela and I will wait till the trial is over and Walker can come with us.”
                 Gordon Cahill is now trying to hide his disappointment, "But, Alexandra, I was looking forward to taking you and Angela out on my new boat---I got it all planned out----the 'four' of us would sail down to the Florida Keys----"
            “Dad----the Florida Keys?----That's entirely too long a trip---and Angela has never been on a boat----she might get sick!”
                 Gordon continues to try and change his daughter's mind as a clicking sound is heard on the line and Alex is trying to tell her Dad to 'hold on' as she checks to see who is on the other line. Her heart jumps as she hears her husband's voice.
            "Dad, I can't talk right now---talk to you later---Walker---honey----you there?”
            "Yeah hon, I'm here---what are you doing at Trivette's? I thought you were taking Angela to see Gordon?”
            Alex is all smiles, "It's a long story---Walker---we're waiting till you can go down there with us---honey---have you testified yet?”
            "No, not yet---and I'm afraid that after tonight it's going to be awhile before I can call you again---they are moving us to one of the murder sights----and all of us will be under heavy observation-----and no outside communication of any kind!!!”
            Alex groans, "I was afraid of this----Jan Hanks has been trying to keep me informed on what is going on, but even she's limited to what she can tell me. Walker----I am so worried about you-----do the witnesses have plenty of guards?”
            Walker smiles, "Hon, they are so thick----you can't stir them with a stick!-----Even when we have our meals----they are all around us---most of the meals are in our rooms----and of course we're not allowed to talk . Which suits me fine, because the conversations try to get a little personal-----and you know how I feel about discussing personal things!”
            Alex nods, "Who is trying to get personal with you?”
            "When your conversation is limited---someone is going to start asking the personal questions---like about your family, etc.  I just try to steer away from answering any questions, some of them are harmless---but I still feel uneasy about answering questions about my family.”
            Alex smiles as she looks over to the little bassinette and sees her daughter of almost 6 months trying to put the head of her stuffed horse, "Amigo" into her mouth.
            "Your daughter misses you so much, and I think she's ready to take another ride on "Amigo"---she's now trying to swallow his head!”
            Walker laughs, "Well---when I get home, I will take her for her ride, she sure loves to ride, doesn't she?”
            "It's in the genes---because we both love to ride---I'm just wondering how she will take to sailing."
                  "Sailing?----Don't tell me---your Dad bought the boat?”
            "Yes" Alex replies, "I got a e-mail picture of it last night---it's huge!---I think he said it was a 50 footer and sleeps 6!!!”!
            "It sounds great---and I'm looking forward to doing some deep sea fishing with him---I'm sure our daughter will take to the boat just as quickly as she took to the horses---after all she's got some of his genes too---the Navy!!!”
            Alex becomes silent and Walker can feel her loneliness, he takes a deep sigh.
            "Hon----they're telling us to hang up now---I got to go.”
                    "Walker----please be careful---I didn't want to worry you---but I feel so uneasy about all of this---"
            "I know hon, sometimes I get that feeling too----but when I feel that way---I just think of you and Angela---and I know all is going to be o.k.----When I get home, I'll take you on a second honeymoon---anywhere you want to go---I'll even take you back to Paris---if you want."
            Alex is now crying as she sniffles, "Paris, France?---Wow---you are spoiling me, our anniversary is not till next May!”!
                   Walker's voice softens, "I intend to spoil you till my dying day--I know I don't say the words enough---but you're my life, Alex--I love you more each day.”
            Now Alex is choking up, "Like the words to our song--I Cross my Heart?"
            "You got it" he whispers, "it says our love is unconditional, and we've known it from the start, and it just keeps growing.”
            "Yes" Alex sniffles,  "I love you, Walker----please be careful, we miss you.”
                Trivette and Erica watch silently as Alex hangs up the phone, trying to clear her throat.
            "Alex---what was that you were saying about "crossing hearts?”
            Alex smiles, "It's a country and western song by George Strait, have you ever heard of him?”
                  Trivette laughs, "Are you kidding? Erica does not know any country songs, she's purely rhythm and blues---and slooooow jazz---right, babe?"
            Erica frowns, "I have too heard of George Strait---doesn't he sing that song about XXX's in Texas, or something like that? The guy that wears tight fitting jeans and western shirts that looked like they have been pressed while he's wearing them? That country dude?”
            Both  Trivette and Alex, and Alex replies, "Yes, the good looking cowboy in the tight fitting jeans and 'yes' he did a song called "All of my X's live in Texas, but Walker and I are partial to a song that he put out called "I Cross my Heart" which he sung in a movie that Walker and I saw, and we've liked the song ever since. In fact, we liked it so much that we had the words "I Cross my Heart' inscribed on the inside of our wedding bands.”
                     Trivette's eyes narrow, "I never knew that, and I was the best man, I don't recall seeing that on the rings."
            Alex smiles, "Jimmy, you were so wrapped up in watching all the bridesmaids, I doubt that you were thinking of what was written on our rings!”
            Erica shoots her husband a dirty look, "Oh really, and which bridesmaid was you 'eyeballing?”
                   Trivette grabs his wife and kisses her tenderly, "All of them, but that's only because you hadn't come into my life yet and stole my heart.”
            "Good save, honey---but don't think for a moment that I'm going to push this aside.”
            "See what you started, Alex---I might be sleeping on the sofa tonight.”
            They all laugh and young Angela decides that she's been ignored for too long and decides to air out her lungs.
            "Well, it's time to get my daughter home and get her tucked into her bed---I'll see you two tomorrow---and I hope I didn't stir up a hornet's nest between you two.”
                   Trivette grins as he goes and put his arm around the blonde attorney, "Well, let's put it this way, if I need a good divorce lawyer, will you handle my case?”
             "JIMMY"-----
            "I was only kidding, Erica---besides Alex doesn't handle divorce cases!”
            Alex is putting Angela's things together as she mutters, "When would I have the time?”
            Alex and the Trivettes say their goodbyes and Alex returns home.

                       ******************************

Baton Rouge:

            Walker has returned to his room, his room mate is finishing the last of his supper.
            The man is Harvey Bates, a retired school teacher, on vacation with his mistress, enjoying the sights of New Orleans when he was pulled into the web of the murdering Rufus Clayton.
            He had personally witnessed Rufus murder the two policemen in cold blood and then slit the throat of a young 6 yr old hostage. Rufus was laughing the whole time the little girl was bleeding to death.
            Just seconds before Walker had walked into the scenario of the hostage being taken, the two policemen were laying dead on the sidewalk. Walker tried desperately to talk the man out of killing anyone else, Rufus Clayton just grinned as he drug the  10 in. blade slowly across the little girl's neck.
            The spectators screamed as Walker rushed the man, knocking him to the ground, and slamming his fist into the man's face, cursing him.
            Rufus just glared back at the ranger with stone cold eyes, like he was looking straight through the ranger, showing no remorse at all.
            Harvey Bates remembered that look too, he would never forget it, or the anger in which the ranger kept hitting the man on the ground as more police officers ran up to take Clayton into custody.
            The questioning began and Cordell Walker was again a witness against the Clayton family.
            Harvey looks up from his dinner tray, wiping his mouth slowly.
            "Did you get to make your call to your wife?”
            Walker nods as he walks towards his side of the room and sits down on the edge of his bed, nervously twisting his wedding ring around and around.
            "Yeah---I only got to talk to her for a moment---she's at my friend's home, having supper.”
            Harvey nods his head slowly, "It's good to have friends you can depend on.”
            "Yeah" agrees the ranger, "Trivette is my best friend, he's like a brother to me. He just recently got married, got a baby on the way.”
            Harvey studies the way that Walker keeps twisting his wedding ring, up to a scarred knuckle and back, he smiles slowly.
            "How long you been married?”
                   "Almost 2 years.”
            "I would have guessed you to be married longer than that, the way you keep twisting that ring. What's the matter, getting a little tight, starting to feel the pressure of married life?”
            Walker can feel his anger starting to rise, "In answer to your question--"NO!” I happen to be very much in love with my wife, if that's any of your business!”
            Harvey puts his hand up in defense, "Hey----I meant no harm in asking--I'm sorry----I was out of line!”
            Walker sighs as he goes to the coffee pot and pours himself a cup, "It's o.k.---I'm just feeling a little testy---my wife is really nervous about this trial and all.”
            "Yeah, well---I wish I could say the same thing about my old lady! For seven years I've taken care of that bitch, gave up a wife and 4 kids to choose her----and the minute I learn that this trial is going to take me "out of circulation"---so to speak----she runs off with  my divorce lawyer!   The same s.o.b that got me my divorce, can you beat that?”
            The ranger shakes his head, "Sorry for your misfortune.”
            The men remain silent in their own thoughts. Harvey looks to the ranger.
            "You know-----that you can beat some of this loneliness, that broad that is down the hall has been eyeballing your every move. There are ways to get out of this room at night, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind sharing the sheets with you.”
            Walker glares back at his room mate and then mumbles, "Not interested!”
            Harvey again puts his hand up in a defense gesture--"Sorry---out of line again.”
            The men remain silent then Harvey mumbles slowly, "I wish you had killed that son of a bitch when you had the chance, then neither of us would have to be here!”
            Walker takes a deep sigh, "Don't think I haven't wished the same thing, a million times! I can still see that little girl's face and the life draining out of her.”
            Harvey curses, "Of all places to be on vacation and I happen to witness the cold bloodied murder of two cops----and then that sweet little girl being dragged away from her Mother---and then slaughtered----like a helpless lamb. Luckily, Clarice had gone to the powder room and didn't see any of it happening---she would be a basket case!!!”
            Walker nods his head, "Yeah----my wife missed witnessing it too, she had gone into one of the little shopping malls, and I chose to wait for her by one of the little coffee places.  I heard the shots being fired and the screaming, then I saw Rufus grab the little girl, he couldn't have been more than twenty feet away from me---I never understood why he didn't run--instead of grabbing a hostage.”
            Harvey shakes his head, "He certainly had plenty of time to run, the place was like a mad house when those cops got shot, he just stood there and------grinned. I was standing not too far from you, he just stared at both of us and grinned that sadistic grin.---And, that little girl----it happened so fast----she hardly had time to cry out for her Mama.”
            Walker throws out the rest of his coffee and looks back to Harvey, "I've seen a lot of strange things in my life and have witnessed many cruel situations, but this -------it was like---he wanted to get caught.”
            "Did I hear those marshals right, you knew this guy?”
            "Yeah, I know him----and his family---his older brother and Father are doing time, his old man has an appointment with lethal injection---sometime this year.”
            "Oh yeah" replies Harvey, "I recall reading about that, gun running, drugs, rape, and murder.”
            Walker sighs as he lays back on his bed, "All of the above and more.  His son, Rufus, is a chip off the old block---even more dangerous, because he enjoys what he's doing.”
            Harvey starts to reply and then the lights in their room began to flash, telling them that it's time to turn in. He turns to Walker and says softly.
            "Hey, I know we weren't suppose to be discussing any of this, but I'm glad we did, and I'm glad we're on the same side. I just wish I had been somewhere else when this all came down, I'm not handling this confinement too well, and to tell you the truth, I still miss my old lady.----And, also---I'm sorry if I was out of line with the remarks about you might wanting to be with  the broad down the hallway----the truth is---if she was 'eyeballing' me the way she has you---I would have jumped her bones a long time ago!!!”
            "No harm taken, Harvey---go to sleep---see you in the morning.”
            The lights go out and Walker strips down to his briefs, hits his pillow again, and the tossing and turning begins. In only seconds the snores from his room mate begin and Walker is trying to drown him out.
            His thoughts go back to Alex and what she is probably doing at that hour, making countless trips back and forth to the nursery to check on their daughter would be his first guess. He smiles as he pictures Angela, she's a carbon copy of Alex when Alex was that age. There's a double picture frame in the nursery of each of them taken at 5 months, the same blond curly hair and those piercing blue eyes. The only difference was that Alex had a small mole to the left side of her cheek, Angela has a lone dimple.
            He continues to think of his family and then his mind goes back to the countless times that Ferris Clayton has attempted to kill him. For almost 7 years that man has tried to take out the ranger, and his plans had always failed. Things had been quiet with the elder Clayton for the past 3 years, almost as if he had forgotten the ranger and the hatred he held for him. And now, the elder Clayton would be facing lethal injection in just a few months, and soon another son would be joining him, on death row!
            Walker keeps seeing Rufus' face and those eyes bore right into him. The ranger keeps tossing and turning, and keeps repeating to himself.
            "Why didn't you run, you sorry bastard-?-You had plenty of time----there was no need to kill again!  You stared right at me, like you wanted me to see you kill----why?  Those eyes----I'll never forget how cold the eyes were.”
            Walker sits up in his bed, rubbing his face, "It's going to be a long and restless night---and I got a feeling that I haven't heard the last from Ferris Clayton or his family.”

                        ****************************************

New Orleans State prison: 1997

            A portly man sits and watches his fellow inmates mill around the prison yard,  he takes particular interest in one prisoner and has watched him closely for several months.
            The man turns to the other inmates sitting beside him, and nods towards the man in question.
            "Is that him?”
            "That's him, doing life----5 times over-he ain't going nowhere!”
            The old man grunts and goes back to watching the subject that is now lifting weights. He nods towards the man and then to his inmates beside him.
            "Let's see what he can do.”
            The man lifting weights rises slowly up from his bench and watches as the five men approach him, he sneers.
            "About time I was seeing some action, it's getting boring.”
            The five men all rush him at once as other inmates start circling the two  shielding them from the from the eyes of the guards. The fight is on and the man is making quick work of his opponents, taking flying leaps into the air and kicking out with both feet. Limbs are being broken as the man takes the arms of his attackers and snaps them backwards.
            The portly man smiles to himself and then chuckles. He turns to the man beside him and snickers.
            "He's good, but he needs discipline----tell the guards to go easy on him----bring him to me---we need to talk.”
            "He'll end up in solitaire again, hopefully he won't bust another guards' jaw before they get him there. The man is crazy!”
            The portly man turns to his 'so called friend'---- "I said bring him to me---and the sooner the better. Right now, I have to get word to my lawyer.  Oh, Grady is gonna love this!”

                    *********************************************

Baton Rouge: 2001

            The security vehicles are being brought to the federal building to pick up Walker and the other witnesses in the program.
            They have all been rushed through their breakfasts and Harvey Bates is complaining that they are not giving him enough time to eat.
            He's shovelling the eggs and bacon down as fast as he can, he sees Walker sipping his coffee slowly.
            "Hey man---better grab some more breakfast before they take it away from us---no telling how long we'll be at the crime scene.”
            Walker shakes his head, "I'll just have my coffee----not hungry.”
            Harvey continues to eat faster, then the guards tell them to get ready to board the Hummers.
            As Walker and Harvey walk out into the hallway, the guards surround them.  They see the other witnesses ahead of them, the tall brunette keeps turning around and looking back at Walker, and smiling.
            Harvey looks to the ranger and smirks, "Damn----she's got some ass on her---and I know you've noticed!”
            Walker says nothing as he watches the other witnesses, two older women in their mid 40's, and an elderly man---around 60. The two women shared a room, the older man had a single, as did the brunette.
            Harvey continues to watch the brunette and nudges Walker, "If she doesn't make your 3rd leg rise---then 'man'------you need Viagra!”
            Walker takes a deep sigh and shakes his head
            They are being loaded into two Hummers, and Harvey Bates breathes  a sigh of relief when the brunette is seated between him and Walker. She keeps staring at  the ranger.
            "You're being very quiet this morning, didn't you sleep well last night?”
            Harvey snickers, "I think he was having 'wet dreams'---I know I was!”
            The caravan continues to the location site where the two policemen were killed and then to the area in which the little girl was slaughtered. Pictures of the scene are passed around to the witnesses, to refresh the memories of that horrible day.
            One of the women begins to cry as she looks at the pictures, "I don't know why they think we have to look at these sickening pictures to refresh our memories---I remember that day as it was yesterday, I will never forget  it!”
            The other woman embraces her and the elderly man nods his head in agreement, he sobs quietly to himself.
            Harvey swallows hard and shakes his head back and forth and the tall brunette looks quickly to Walker.
            Walker is staring at the pictures as he again he remembers how Rufus  Clayton just stared at him with cold eyes. Suddenly, Walker feels the woman against him as she gives out a sigh and begins falling to the ground.
            The ranger catches her before she hits the ground as the security guards rush up to them. Walker carries her over to one of the tables and lays her down gently, "It's o.k.---she just fainted.”
            They all mill around her and asking if she will be o.k. The guards call for an ambulance to get her checked out and then the order to return to the hotel is issued and Walker and the rest of the witnesses climb back into their rides.
            The ranger watches as the medical attendants check the woman over closely. Harvey is watching the puzzled look upon the ranger's face, he reaches out and nudges him.
            "Hey friend, what are you looking at?”
            Walker takes a deep sigh and then looks to Harvey, "Don't you think it's a little odd for the ambulance crew to be taking so long to check out someone who has "just fainted?”
            "I suppose---but I think I heard one of the attendants mention something about her being a diabetic---maybe they're giving her insulin!”
            Walker shakes his head, "I haven't seen any needles-------"
                "THERE!---See, they are giving  her a shot of something---it's probably insulin!”
            The ride back to the hotel is spent in silence as Walker recalls the earlier conversation with the brunette and the reply 'that she didn't see anything and didn't know why she was in the program of protective witnesses!'
            At the hotel, each of the witnesses is taken aside and questioned about their mental and physical progress. Harvey has been the next to last to be called, he returns to his and Walker's room.
            "You o.k. Harvey?”
            The man takes a deep breath, "Yeah, I told that damn quack that this was getting to me, but he doesn't care. They said we could take a couple of days to get our selves back together----I don't want to be here---maybe I should tell them I got a medical problem  and "I" would be released!"
                "Released? Who got released?”
            "That dizzy broad---who else? Walker---I thought they were suppose to check us all out and make sure that we don't have any 'life threatening' conditions and so forth?"
            Walker nods, "They are---they're suppose to make sure that each of us is in good enough health----and being a diabetic and on insulin would have terminated that woman's civic duty.---And, that's another thing--she told me earlier that she didn't see anything and-----"
            The ranger is interrupted as two guards step into their room "Cordell Walker---you're next!"
            The ranger is walking slowly in between the two guards as they pass down the lone corridor to the psychologist’s office. As soon as he enters the room, one of the guards grab his arms behind him and a rag filled with chloroform goes over his mouth. The ranger is fighting with every ounce of energy as the guard's grip tightens and a blunt object comes down to the side of his head. The ranger is still fighting to get up from the floor and a boot catches him under his chin. Everything goes blank. 
            The Doctor. nods to the guard, "You know what to do with him--I got to make a call."
            The Doctor watches as the unconscious ranger is dragged out through a side entrance, he turns to the voice on the other end of the phone:
                   "Mission accomplished---you can tell the boss man that Ranger Cordell  Walker has been taken care of---what about at your end---is "your subject" ready to take over?"
            The man's voice is gruff as he answers, "He's more than ready---and there will be a nice fat bonus for you----as long as you keep your mouth shut! Remember---we have your family----and that's a mighty pretty young daughter you have, how old is she?"
            The Doctor swallows--"She's only 13----please---don't hurt her!”
            The gruff voice replies--"Only 13?  My friends and I like them young."
            Harvey keeps watching the door and muttering to himself, "What the heck is taking Walker so long to get back--he's been gone for almost 2 hours?" 

                                     ***********************************************

Baton Rouge State Prison:

            The portly man is staring at his friend through the glass partition, he smirks.
            "Is our friend being taking care of?"
            The man smiles back, "Which friend are you referring to---the Ranger ---or "our other friend?"
            "Both----I hope the ranger is keeping the gators happy---and what about our other friend, is he behaving?"
            "As long as we keep him happy with whores and whiskey--he's manageable. He gets a little feisty when he's not getting to break some bones---he took out his anger on one of the whores we brought to him---broke her face in so many places---her own Mother wouldn't recognize her-----"
            "Damn it!” The portly man slams his fist down, "You tell that s.o.b that he better learn how to handle that temper or the electric shocks will commence again---double time!"
            The man nods his head, "I'll tell him---other than that temper, our friend is learning the ropes very quickly!”
            "Why shouldn't he? He's had five years to prepare himself---do you have the pictures?"
            The man looks around him cautiously and hold up two pictures, the portly man smiles, "Excellent!!!  It won't be long now and I will have my revenge. I want to see him personally, arrange some way to get him in here--say he's your aide----or whatever."
            The man laughs as he puts the pictures away, "Now this is really going to be  a chore---he's not going to like coming back to this place--even as a visitor!
            "I don't care what that s.o.b likes, I have given you an order---and you best carry it out- or you---Grady Henshaw, will wake up some morning with your ears having no head in which to connect to---do you get my warning?”
            "I hear you loud and clear, Ferris Clayton--I'm just as anxious as you are to see 'our subject' up close---and the people of Texas will never know what hit them!”

                                           *********************************************

            Alex Walker has been trying to get a call through to her husband for almost a week now, she is being told that the witnesses have been taken to another hotel, that threats have been made against their lives .
                  "Threats? How can that be, how were their identities known? What hotel are they at?”      
            "Sorry ma'am--we can not release that information!”
            Alex is getting angry, "I am his wife, I am a district attorney for Tarrant county, you can call the state attorney here, he will verify who I am-----"
            The line goes dead, and Alex throws the phone across the room, almost taking the heads off of Trivette and another woman, Jan Hanks.
            "Whoa counsellor" Trivette throws his hands up.
            Alex starts apologising and her friend smiles back, "Alex---I understand how you're feeling--but I think I got some good news.”
                  "Please tell me that it's about my husband, is he o.k.?”
            "It's good news---and bad news---your husband will be coming home soon---there's been a miss-trial.”
            The woman sighs, "That's the bad news, another jurist has been killed and the others are refusing to testify'.
            "Oh my God---who was the other jurist?”
            The woman looks at the name before her, "A-----Harvey Bates.”
            Alex puts her hand to her mouth, "Oh my God, he was Walker's roommate--was Walker hurt----is he o.k.?”
            "Yes, he's fine---he was the one that found the body. Apparently, this Harvey slipped and fell in the shower---broke his neck. Walker and the others were having supper, Walker went back to their room to take Harvey his meal, because the man had complained that he wasn't feeling well."
                   "Sounds a little fishy to me---" replies Trivette. "Those guards were suppose to be around the witnesses constantly---why weren't they keeping an eye on this Harvey?"
            "Do they suspect foul play?” Asks Alex.
            Jan nods her head, "Yes---and that's why the other witnesses have spooked-----even Walker said he wouldn't testify---that he was too worried about you and Angela. There was no choice but to call a mistrial, but the state of Louisiana will have other charges to file against Rufus Clayton----he's not going free!”
            Alex is puzzled, "Jan--when did all this happen? I just talked to a guard at the Bayou Hotel, he said the witnesses had been moved to another hotel, he wouldn't tell me where!”
            "He couldn't Alex---this all happened last night, the witnesses were moved to Layette, but right away the witnesses started rebelling and they are being released. Walker will be home soon.”
            "Can I at least talk to him?" Begs Alex.
            Jan smiles, "Yes, yes, yes---here's the number where he can be reached. I have to go---call me--o.k.?”

                                             **************************************************

            The guard walks up slowly to the bearded man, they stare at each other for the longest.
            The guard says slowly, "You have a call---it's your wife!” The guard chuckles and walks away. The bearded man walks over to the phone and answers.
            "Hello----Alex?”
                   "Walker, I have been so worried about you--are you o.k. when are you coming home?"
                   "Whoa--one question at a time" the man grins, "I'm fine, just anxious to get home to you--have you missed me?”
            Alex is now crying, "Yes---I have missed you so much and so has Angela--will you be home soon?"
            The man lights up a cigarette, letting the grey smoke exhale slowly, "I'll be home on Friday-----wear something extra nice for me----o.k.?”
            Alex is smiling, "Yes, I will wear something soooo sexy,  Walker---just hurry and get home---please sweetheart?”
            The man is smiling as he looks at the picture of the beautiful blonde and small child. He envisions her in various sexual positions, he nods his head slowly, "Oh yeah---I can hardly wait---I got to go--got to sign some release papers--bye.”
                   Trivette watches as the blonde hangs up the phone, "What's wrong Alex?”
            "That's strange------"
                "What's strange?"
                "Walker never even asked about Angela, he didn't even mention her name."

                                       ***************************************

            Ferris Clayton  shakes his head, and stares back at the man before him. He walks up to the man and slowly touches his face, turning it from side to side. He steps back and looks to Grady Henshaw.
            "If I wasn't seeing him for myself, I would never believe it, the doctors did a good job, an exceptional job---the plastic surgery is amazing! Simply amazing!!"
                Henshaw nods his head,” I  told you my men were good, the best in the world!  The hardest part was teaching 'our subject' the walk, ranger Cordell Walker has a very noticeable gait---like he's------"
            "Like he thinks he's untouchable" snorts Clayton--"a certain air of authority----or in my opinion--- like he has a 6 ft pole of arrogance stuck up his ass!”
            The bearded man laughs and reaches into his pocket for a cigarette, he lights it and blows the smoke towards the portly man.
                 "Sounds like to me, you sort of dislike this Cordell Walker!”
            Ferris Clayton smiles back at the bearded man and chuckles, Grady Henshaw has seen this look before, he steps back cautiously.
            Ferris nods his head, "Yeah, you could say that I totally despise the man for what he has done to me and my boys, wrecking my business---but you know what I 'totally' dislike more than that man?”
            The bearded man draws on his cigarette again "What old man?”
            The man barely has enough time to get his question out when Clayton brings up his knee into the man's groin. The man screams out in pain as Clayton breaks off a table leg and heads for the man's throat "Idiots that don't follow orders, you sorry piece of crap------" 
                  Henshaw is grabbing his arm, "N0----not the face----stop Ferris---you'll ruin everything that we have worked on for over 5 years!”
            Ferris Clayton is screaming at the bearded man, then slams his fist into the man's stomach---- then he turns on Henshaw.
            He grabs the little man by the throat, "For 5 years, we have worked on this sorry s.o.b to make him look like Walker, talk like him, to know his habits, his friends---and this slime ball can  throw it right out the window----it's your fault, Grady---he hasn't learned his lesson and neither have you!”
            Grady is struggling to breathe and the bearded man is also gasping for air----"What? ---What did I do wrong?”
            Ferris reaches out and grabs the cigarette from the man's lips and crushes it against the man's shirt----"This---you idiot----- the ranger doesn't smoke!”
            "It was just an oversight, Ferris---he just wasn't thinking" Grady is sputtering. "He knows that the ranger doesn't smoke---he wasn't thinking!”
            Ferris is still steaming as he grabs the man's face, "There can be no room for errors, you have to think every second, you have to think like the ranger, sleep like the ranger, and if I say you have to 'piss' like the ranger---then you will do exactly as I say---do you hear me?”
            The man's anger is starting to show, he grits his teeth and snarls, "I hear you old man---I know what I'm suppose to do--but once this is over with---you and I will have it out!”
            Grady is trying to calm the man, "Keep your mouth shut--you know what will happen if Ferris says the word---you will be right back in here--with two more murder charges against you---are you listening?”
            The man backs off and Grady breathes a sigh of relief, " Go--wait for me outside, and for heaven's sake---don't say a word to anyone, and for God's sake---get back into costume.
            Ferris watches the man as he dons the dark clothes, the crucifix pulled out over the white shirt, showing the collar of a priest. The man pulls his hat down and makes a mocking gesture of the cross towards Ferris Clayton, speaking Latin.
            "Go with God----for when our paths cross again--even GOD won't be able to save you----and you will never forget the name of  Joaquin LeBeau!” 

                             *********************************************

            The two men are heading to the airport, Joaquin has donned the attire of the man he is to impersonate. He looks at the band of gold and slips it slowly over the ring finger of his left hand, He smirks.
                    "Somehow I just can't picture a man like this Cordell Walker to be wearing a wedding band, is he some kind of a 'wuss'?"
            Grady stares back at him,, "A lot of men wear wedding rings, what's so hard to believe that this ranger would be wearing one? I just hope that stupid jeweller copied it right. They couldn't get the real one off his finger!"
                  Joaquin smiles, "I would have cut his damn finger off---and maybe his hand to go with it!”
            "Sure you would have, you love carving up your victims.”
            "Yep, but wedding rings are just a piece of jewellery, I wonder how many times he has slipped it off long enough to get some on the side?”
            "Listen Joaquin and listen good---with all the reports we've had on this ranger, he's faithful to his wife----"
            "Oh get off it-----no man is completely faithful to his wife!----But, I do have to admit---he's got a damn good looking wife according to these pictures----and she sounds real sexy----like she can't wait to get her husband----me------in between the sheets."
            Grady groans, remembering how Joaquin treats his women.
            "You just take it easy with the ranger's wife----no rough stuff!”
              Joaquin snickers, "Now, how do you know that she doesn't like it rough?---Don't tell me that your spies have taped their sexual liaisons too?”
            Grady remains quiet.
               Joaquin laughs out loud, "Hell---I can hardly wait to take over my 'husbandly duties' and you can tell those spies of yours that I perform best--knowing I'm being watched!”
            "I hope you're not forgetting that the ranger is also a family man, he has a daughter----her name is Angela and------"
            "Yeah, yeah, yeah---I know all about the little brat---her name is Angela Elizabeth, she was born the 19th of May, exactly one day before the ranger's first wedding anniversary----blah, blah---I just hope the kid has been given a sleeping pill when I get home because I don't intend to be making a fuss over the kid---I'm hot and horny---and I got no patience for kids!”

                   



Chapter 2
                 
            Alex has just left Victoria's Secret with packages in hand. She lays the "special" package gently down in the back seat of her little white Dodge Durango. She smiles and says to herself.
                  "Walker is going to be blown away at what I plan to wear on his first night home, it is so sexy.”
            She licks her bottom lip gently, as she remembers the peach colored negligee she has just purchased. She couldn't make up her mind between it and the black one, she chose the peach at the very last moment recalling that her husband was just a little more favourable towards the peach color.
                 Suddenly she laughs out loud, "It's not going to stay on that long anyways, and I can always buy the black one later---right now I got to hurry and get to the hair dresser's."
            She made plans for the Trivettes to baby sit Angela after they pick up Walker from the airport.  Reservations were made at Ernesto's for lobster, and then the most important part of the evening would be having wine in front of the fireplace and listening to the sultry horn of Kenny G's "Forever in Love.”
           
Alex is going over the evening in her mind, everything had to be just perfect. She looks quickly to her watch.
                  "Damn, I'm running late, I told Dee that I would be there by 4pm, I'm not going to make it---" she takes a deep breath and hits the accelerator harder, and mutters worriedly under her breath, "I sure hope I don't get a speeding ticket, not today---of all days!”
            The traffic has started to pick up as the little Durango heads East on I-20, she will turn South on Madera Rd heading for the salon of her dear friend, Dee. Alex is checking her rear view mirror as she again looks at her watch, she does not see the little Corvette that is changing lanes behind her. Suddenly the sports car is taking up the full view in her mirror and then it swerves to the outside lane for faster traffic.
            "You stupid s.o.b." the blonde mutters, and before she can continue her verbal abuse, the little sports car swerves back in the lane ahead of her, causing Alex to hit her brakes. The owner of the Corvette loses control and is swerving back and forth across the lanes as Alex's SUV is out of control and heading into the lane of a 18 wheeler.
            Alex screams as the truck driver is trying to keep his rig from jack-knifing, Alex's auto slams into the side of the truck, everything goes black.

                          **************************************************

                    Joaquin has listened to Grady and the constant reminders to play by the rules---or else!
            The man swears under his breath as he pretends to be listening, his mind going back to the first day that he met the attorney and later--the man himself--'Ferris Clayton'!
           
He had been brought out of solitaire again--for fighting and breaking the jaw of one of the guards. Arrangements had been made to meet Clayton.
                   Joaquin listened to what the man was saying, he then spat at the old man's feet.
            "And, what if I don't play along with your request to impersonate this Ranger Walker, what will you do to me? Hell, I'm already doing life in this damn place, I'm going to burn in hell!”
            Ferris continued to look the man over from head to foot as Grady pleaded with Joaquin to listen to the plan that Ferris had devised. The man was perfect, the same build, same height, and the man was in good physical shape. Ferris looks to Joaquin and walks slowly up to him, staring him in the eyes.
            "The question is not what I'm going to do to you, but what I can do for you.”
            "And, what's that?” Sneers Joaquin. "Look around you old man, this is a maximum state prison, there is nothing more that you can do for me, that I'm not already doing for myself."
                  Joaquin walks slowly around the cell, 'mocking' all of the many luxuries, "I'm not going anywhere and I get all of the drugs I want, plus I get all of the 'fresh meat' that I can handle."
            Ferris Clayton snarls, "Damn 'fag'---yeah I just bet you get all the assholes!”!
                 Joaquin smiles, "What's the matter old man, not getting your share?”
                 Clayton remains quiet as he studies the man before him, he replies slowly, "I know that you were married at one time, what's the matter--did your wife get tired of you banging all the young recruits in basic training---or do you really prefer them to that of a sweet smelling and curvaceous body of a woman?"
            "Leave my old lady out of this, old man--she's history and so is that bastard I caught her with!"
            "I know all about your little killing spree, at least the ones that you were convicted of---there's no telling how many more, especially whores that you have beaten to death---before and after you had sex with them!!!”
                   Joaquin smiles, remembering some of the women and young girls that he disposed of, "You'll never know, old man----and the state of Louisiana has been trying to get me to confess to countless other murders--they're just spinning their wheels!"
            "I can change all of that-I can set you free," Clayton replies slowly.
            Grady looks quickly to Clayton, "What are you saying, Ferris?-The man is doing life and if that other trial comes up and he's convicted for killing those two teenagers--they'll put him on death row even quicker!"
            The portly man smiles as he watches Joaquin's face, Ferris has definitely got his attention.
            The old man nods his head up and down, "You like the sound of freedom, don't you?--I can get you out---it might be in a pine box---but I'll get you out!”
                   Joaquin laughs, "A pine box? Now, to what advantage would that be to you, if I were dead?"
            Both Ferris and Grady exchange looks, and Grady takes a deep sigh, "Not that again--Ferris---you can't do that again, we almost got caught the last time.”
            Ferris waves the man away, "You learn from your past mistakes, this time will be easier, there won't be any flaws---and to you Joaquin,-- who said anything about you being dead in that pine box?”
            The memories of the past five years flash before Joaquin as he eventually accepted Ferris Clayton's offer. The regiment of change had begun and for the next five years, Joaquin LeBeau would learn to walk, talk, and breathe like his assignment--Ranger Cordell Walker.
                   Joaquin would learn more about the martial arts through a personal trainer that Grady had arranged to be transferred from another prison. He would learn to fight through the teaching of Zen, learning to control his temper, and to mediate more.
                    Joaquin would learn Walker's habits, his favorite foods, sports, friends, family, everything that pertained to Cordell was drilled into his head non-stop. Finally the last page of Joaquin's would be turned, and now the last stage was to be performed.
                  Clayton, Grady and Joaquin watched the two men as they conversed between them selves and was constantly touching Joaquin' face and body.
            Finally the men agree, the plastic surgery was agreed on and now they had  the small task of getting him out of prison--and to Sweden!

                                     ***********************************************

Louisiana State prison---October, 2000


            Ferris Clayton has a visitor, his son Rufus.
            The old man looks to his baby son and smiles, "The news isn't good, isn't it son?"
            The young man is in his mid 20's, "No Pa----it's not good and I'm sorry I've let you down."
            Ferris motions for the young man to lower his voice as they move to the far end of the visiting quarters, he motions for them to sit down.
            "You listen to me, boy--I know you've tried to take out the ranger and I know you've failed, but better and more experienced men than you have failed to carry out my orders!"
            The young man is almost in tears, "I'm sorry Pa--but this ranger---it's like he has a six sense or whatever that fancy word is---it's like he has eyes in the back of his head, or something!”
            Ferris smiles, "It's o.k. boy---I know you've tried--you never want to do anything to make your old man upset, right?”
            "I'll do anything you say Pa---just name it!”
            Ferris ponders telling his son what has been developing over the past few years, he takes a deep breath.
            "In the past few years I have tried in every way to kill that miserable ranger, even made attempts to take his wife out and they've all failed. I've been doing a lot reading while I've been locked up, books on psychology and stuff."
            The young man shakes his head, "Psychology, Pa?--You mean things like being crazy in the head--like they say I am?”
                   Ferris's  patience is fading, "No---not like what them doctors have been saying about you since you got kicked in the head by that mule. You're not to blame for  being slow--that was your Mama's fault for breathing too much meth, when she was knocked up with you. The kick in the head didn't help, but neither did your Mama's trying to teach you to wrestle gators either!!!”
            Rufus laughs, "Mama could sure wrestle them, couldn't she, Pa?”
            Ferris sneers, "Oh yeah---she was quite a performer right up to the day that one gator took half of her arm off and ate it!!!”
            Rufus becomes quiet and then mutters, "Mama never was the same after that---she became mean and she would beat me when you wasn't around---which was almost all the time."
            "Your brothers and I had to make a living, didn't we? Sure couldn't depend on your Mama to do much after that, not much demand for a one arm gator wrestler, not to mention the men didn't want anything to do with her either."
            "So---you say you been reading books, Pa---what is that psyc------what it was you just said?”
                   "Psychology----it's a study of the human brain---and what makes a man tick."
            "I thought the heart made a man tick---what do you mean, Pa?”
            Ferris exhales, "Son, what I am trying to say is this: I have been going about taking this Ranger Walker out---to kill him---in the wrong way.”
            Rufus shakes his head, "I don't understand Pa--there's a wrong way to kill someone---they're still dead---right?”
            The old man groans and rubs the back of his neck, "Yes son, dead is dead---no matter how you do it---but I want Walker to experience pain, I want him to see his world falling apart, I want every ounce of his body to literally feel like his heart is being wretched from his body!"
            Rufus just stares back at his Father and blinks in total confinement. He picks his words slowly and cautiously.
            "And---reading this book on all of that is going to make Walker feel pain?”
            Ferris groans, "Son, I know that you have difficulty in understanding certain things, but think back when you used to hunt those wild pigs and one of them gored you. Do you remember how angry you were, and just killing the pig wasn't enough---you tortured it first---remember?”
            Rufus nods his head, "Yeah, I was real mad---I started losing my temper a lot after that, and it wasn't any fun just killing them, I wanted to hear them scream---that god awful scream."
            "Yeah, and when you killed that trapper--you skinned him alive---remember how it made you feel?"
            "Yeah, Pa----I remember---the killing got easier after that---I didn't feel nothing."
                   "Exactly, and knowing that Ranger Cordell Walker will be feeling pain for the rest of his life is what I want--but I don't want physical pain--because he can handle that kind of pain, being an ex-Marine and all. I want him to feel it through his whole body, in his mind, in his brain. For everyday that he lives, I want him to hurt, hurt for his family and friends turning against him. "
            Rufus smiles, "So, what do we do now, Pa? I'll do anything you say, I want to be the one to make the ranger hurt--like he has done to you and Kyle. Just tell me what to do."
            "I can't tell you everything right now, but soon. I'm hashing a plan to get the ranger, and that pretty little wife of his, because with the news I just got-it couldn't be a better time to set my plan in motion.”
                 "What's happened, Pa?”
            Ferris is grinning, "Ranger Walker is about to become a Daddy, his wife is due to give birth sometime next May."
            "Do you want me to hurt the kid, Pa?”
            Ferris grimaces, "No---you imbecile--haven't you been listening? No physical pain--mentally, mentally---get that through your head, what there is left of it, that the cancer hasn't gotten!”
            Rufus' face goes rigid, and his eyes look to the floor.
            Ferris shakes his head slowly, "I'm sorry son---I didn't mean that the way it came out.”
            "It's o.k., Pa--I know I'm dying--I just came from my last exam---it's spreading too fast, they can't stop it!”
            The men remain silent and then Ferris reaches over and touches his son's face, "I love you, Rufus, and I know you're scared, but it's better than spending the rest of your life in a place like this.”
            "I'll do anything you want me to do, Pa---and I don't care if I have to spend some time in prison, at least you, Kyle, and I will be together in our final days."
            "I will be in touch, plans are being made---and soon we will get our revenge!”  Ferris replies slowly.

                                           ******************************************

DFW airport:  October 2001


            The two men have landed, and Grady is giving last minute warnings to Joaquin.
                  Grady's voice is stern, "You better not screw this up, cause my butte is on the line too. You just remember to go slow, especially with the wife, remember she's a lawyer, and a damn smart one!”
            "Will you stop worrying, I got everything under control----"
                   "Walker---hey Walker---over here, buddy!”
            Both Grady look up to see the black man running towards them, Grady nudges Joaquin.
            Grady swears under his breath, "That's your partner coming, you idiot----now remember what I said---do what you're told!”
            Grady hurriedly walks off, he stops and looks back to see the black man rattling on like crazy, saying something about a wreck.
                    Joaquin looks to Trivette and quickly runs the info through his brain, this man is his best friend and partner, and what is saying about Walker's wife?
            "Slow down, Trivette----where's my wife, she was suppose to meet me!”
            "That's what I'm trying to tell you Walk-man---Alex was in a car wreck up on I-20 a little over an hour ago.”
                    Joaquin hesitates, "Is she o.k.?”
                 Trivette is stunned by the calmness in Walker's voice, I don't know, she's still in surgery, but the Drs. are hopeful. Come on man, I'll take you to the hospital!”
            The two men start walking out of the airport and Trivette keeps looking at his partner.
                   "Walker, you o.k.?"
                  Joaquin's temper is starting to rise, "You just told me that my wife was in a car accident, how the hell do you think I would be?”
                   Trivette clears his voice, "O.k., o.k.----sorry , I know you're worried sick about Alex and you got to be 'dog tired' from all that jury work and all----and don't worry about Angela, she's fine!”
                    Joaquin stops abruptly as he remembers Grady's instructions,  "Is Angela o.k.---does she know about her Mama?”
            "No, of course not---Angela is too young  to-----oh---I get it---that Cherokee intuition---you think your daughter has it too, right?”
                   They've reached the Ram and Trivette hands Walker his keys, Joaquin has to think quickly.
            "Uh, you drive Trivette, I'm feeling really tired.”
            "You got it Walk-man---with the sirens on, we can get to the hospital in less than 15 minutes!”
                      Joaquin smiles wickedly, remembering the report on car chases that Walker was famous for, he looks to Trivette and replies:
            "Make that 10 minutes!”

                             *********************************************************

            Grady has placed a call to Ferris:
            The old man is smiling, "So, how did things go, was his partner suspicious?”
            "I don't think so, our 'pigeon' handled the situation pretty good. If he can fool his partner, that's half of the battle.”
                   Ferris's voice is getting angry, "I'm not worried about the partner, it's the ranger's wife I'm worried about!”
            Now Grady is smiling, as he lights up a cigar, "I don't think we're going to have to worry about the wife, she's been in a car accident and it looks like--she's going to be in the hospital for a few days!”
            Ferris rubs his face and hesitates, "That's good, it will give our man time to get used to his surroundings, and we don't have to worry about what would be going on in the bedroom. What about that other little problem, have you taken care of it?”
            "You mean making sure that Joaquin is out of 'kilter' in the ranger business?”
            "Don't take this too lightly know we have drilled Joaquin's head with police matters, the lingo, and all of that crap, he can't be too involved in police matters just yet, has it been taken care of?”
            "Relax, Walker's boss, a Cmdr Briscoe has been told by military doctors that Walker is unfit to be active in the field, he's being forced to take a six week medical leave."
            "This Doctor Brooking that you arranged to meet with Walker for that first briefing-- about the flashbacks and all, he can be trusted, right?”
            Grady grins and blows the smoke up in the air, "I've known Major Michael Brooking for a long time, we did time together in Nam, as did Walker. In fact that's where Walker met him for the first time, right after he was taken out of one of those prison camps. The Major knows what he is doing and how to handle Cordell Walker."
            Ferris nods his head, "You better be right, we got a lot riding on this doctor, not to mention Joaquin!  We have to play all the odds, time is getting closer.”
            "Don't worry about a thing, think I'll wander up to the hospital and see how the ranger's wife is doing, I'll keep you informed!”

                                  *************************************************

St. Mathews hospital

            The Drs are talking to Walker and Trivette.
            "Your wife is one lucky person, ranger Walker.---So far we don't fear any internal injuries, no broken bones, needless to say she was shaken up quite a bit and the biggest concern we have is her back!”
                  Joaquin's brow arches, "Her back?"
            The Doctor nods his head, "Yes, she has injured her back again, I'm afraid she's going to be with us for a few days so we can keep an eye on it.”
                 Joaquin scratches his bearded cheek as he hastily tries to remember the injury to her back. "You're referring to the time she was shot---that was almost 4 years ago.”
            "Yes, ranger Walker--but we're going to have to keep an eye on it---we may have to try and remove it.”
                   Trivette looks to his partner curiously, "Yeah---but I thought that you Drs had decided it was best to leave the bullet in there, rather than risk taking it out and risking--"paralysis?”
            The Doctor shakes his head, "Ranger, if that bullet begins shifting again, and causing Mrs. Walker pain---we may not have any choice!”
                   Joaquin looks towards the recovery room, he asks slowly "May I see my wife now?”
            "Yes" the Doctor replies, "but she's still out of it, I doubt that she will recognize you, we have her heavily sedated.”
            "I'll wait out here, partner" Trivette lays his hand on Joaquin's shoulder, "I'm going to call Erica and tell her the news.”
                   Joaquin walks slowly up to Alex's bed, the nurse nods to him, "Don't stay too long, your wife needs her rest.”
            The bearded man stares down at the woman and studies her face. Aside from a few bruises there, he can tell that she's very beautiful. He touches her right hand gently, and smiles.
            "You're quite a looker----too bad we have to wait to get better acquainted" he whispers.
            The nurse looks at him quickly, "Did you say something, Ranger Walker?”
              Joaquin shakes his head, "No, I didn't say anything, can my wife hear me?”
            The nurse walks back over to Alex's bed and nods her head, "I'm sure that all she is hearing is warbled, maybe it would be better if you came back in the morning?”
                  Joaquin starts to agree and then thinks better of it, "No, I'm staying with my wife---but I got to go get a cup of coffee first--I'll be right back.”
                   Joaquin tells Trivette that he will be spending the night at the hospital and for him to go on home.
            "Give Angela a big kiss for me, I'll see her soon.”
            "Yeah, o.k.----come by for breakfast ---o.k.?”
            "Yeah---o.k.---see you then.”
            It's now midnight and the nurse is making her final round, she sees the bearded ranger curled up in a chair beside his wife's bed, holding her hand. She smiles to herself and then leaves.
                  Joaquin has observed the nurse out of the corner of his eye, he rises from his chair and walks out the door. He takes the side exit and heads down the stairs and out the front of the hospital, he walks towards the grey Ram and enters. He points the truck West, towards Waco.
            He looks at himself in the rear mirror and grins, "Sure hope this little town has some action--I'm hot----and I'm horny!”
            Twenty minutes later has the bearded man changing clothes to that of a trucker, he enters the bar and orders whiskey. The barmaid is giving him the 'once over' and Joaquin is returning  it as he stares at her bosom.
            "Hey baby---where's the action?”
            "What kind of action are you wanting big guy?”
              Joaquin holds a $50 bill up to the woman, "I wanna go around the world, is this enough?”
            The waitress grabs the bill and stuffs it in her bra, "Sure honey---meet me out back in 20 minutes--a blue van.”

                                              **********************************

Crawfish County:

            The old couple is watching the man as he sleeps, the man is thrashing about and mumbling.
            "Red, you better give him some more of that sleeping medicine", the old and toothless woman mutters.
            The old man grumbles as he takes a long swig from the whiskey bottle, "I can't give him too much, he might croak on us, and then we'll really be in trouble."
            "What about that there cut on his head, don't ya think we need to put some cooking grease on--or something?”
            The old man throws his bottle at the woman, just missing her.
                  "Woman----start fixin me something to eat---and stop worrying about our guest-- he-ain't going nowheres!
            The old woman starts preparing some left over cornbread and crayfish mixed in with some raw potatoes. A younger woman comes running through the door of the old riverboat that is now their home.
            "Is he awake yet?”
            The old woman shrugs, "No, he ain't---now get over here and help me make these vittles for your Pa!”
            The young woman is in her teens and well developed, her black hair is long and scraggly, showing evidence it hasn't been combed or brushed in days. Her teeth are too big for her mouth, and slobber is seen around her lips.
            She balks as she walks towards the old woman, "He ain't my pa, just someone you’re spreading your legs for"----
            The young woman is met with a fist to the side of her head as the old man is staring back at her, "How dare you talk that way to your Mama----maybe you need another lesson girl---get in the bedroom!!!”
            The old woman just snarls, "You ain't got time for any of that, Red---you got to meet that fancy man down in the hollow.”
            "Then hurry up and get my food on the table and you little missy too good----I'll be back later and we'll continue your lesson."
            The old couple sit down to eat and the young woman goes to check on their 'guest'. She sits down in the floor beside him and puts a cool rag on his forehead and studies him.
            The man is solidly built, with a trim line beard that is starting to need a trim. He has a wide bottom lip, his hair is a deep auburn.
            The young woman giggles as she reaches inside the man's shirt and feels his chest, she continues to massage as the man begins to groan. She looks towards the tight fitting jeans and then quickly to the old couple. She smiles to herself as she slowly begins to unbuckle the man's belt and then the top of his jeans. She rubs her hand softly over the outside of his jeans, the man begins to groan louder and the old man yells at her.
                    "Norma Jean----quit feeling up that 'gator bait'---or I will take my belt to you---haven't you had enough today?”
            The old woman snorts as Norma Jean walks to the old broken kitchen table, "She takes after you, Red---always wanting it!”
            Red grunts and wipe the spittle from his mouth, he reaches out and squeezes Norma Jean's bosom, "Hell, I'm glad she don't take after you, Maudie- I'd never get any---you're so damn tight!”
            The woman grunts, "You best get on your way to meet with that fancy man, we need some money for some whiskey---and few groceries won't hurt neither!”
            Red heads for the door and then he turns and stares at the man on the floor, "Do you really think that this man is important like the fancy man said?”
                   Maudie is picking the fish from between her gums, she spits it out and turns to Red, "All I know is what we were told when that fancy man and that there sassy looking woman brought him to us. They said Ferris Clayton would make it worth our while, that's all I need to know.”
            Red is smiling as he remembers the tall brunette and her long shapely form, "Yeah,--I can't forget her--she was sure pretty, I would love to crawl between those long sexy legs.”
            "Go on git- out of here---I got work to do.”
            Red heads out the door and Norma Jean looks to her Mama, "What ya' going to do, Ma?”
                    Maudie looks to the man on the floor, "I got to get him cleaned up, reckon I'll give him a bath------"
            Norma Jean is flying out of her chair, "Let me do it, Ma--I wanna give him his bath.”
            "Are you crazy, child--I know what kind of a bath you would be giving him?” The poor man is delirious now from all of those sleeping pills and drugs---if I turned you loose on him,---you'd kill him!”

                                      *********************************

Trivette home: 7am


              Trivette is in the bathroom shaving, a very pregnant Erica walks up to him, trying to hold Angela.
               "Jimmy?”
            "Yeah baby, what?”
            "Do you think Angela looks a little pale?”
                                 
                            
Chapter 3

              Trivette lays his razor down and looks to his goddaughter, he smiles, "Don't know, can't tell---don't all white people look the same?!”
            Erica reaches out and hits her husband playfully, "I'm serious honey---look at her. She's not crying or anything, but she is starting to get fussy---I know she misses her Mommy.”
                 Trivette reaches out for Angela, giving her a kiss to the side of the head, "Let's check this out---come here Angela, come to Uncle Jimmy.”
            "Well, what do you think?”
            "Erica, of course she's starting to miss Alex---has she been fed yet?”
            "Yes, she took her bottle and I changed her, put all of the smelly good things on her that I have seen Alex do---but she looks pale to me--maybe you should call Walker and tell him?”
                 Trivette continues to coddle Angela, "I called the ranch about half hour ago, guess he's still at the hospital--- call him there.”
            The phone rings in Alex's room, the nurse says that Ranger Walker had just left and said he was going home.
            Erica hangs up the phone and looks to her husband, puzzled.
            "Now, that's strange---the nurse said Walker had gone home.”
            "So?--He's probably on his way back to the ranch now---what's strange about it?”
            Erica shakes her head, "Wouldn't you think that Walker would have been here by now to see his daughter?"
            "Baby---the man is running on adrenaline right now, he's been at the hospital all night, worried about Alex, not to mention everything that was going on in that trial.”
            "I understand that honey, but no longer than I have known Walker, I thought he would have least called last night to check on her.”
                   Trivette's brow arches, "You mean he never called?”
            "No, honey---and I thought you said you invited him for supper?”
            "I did, but I just assumed that he was too tired and wanted to stay with Alex.--What time did I crash  last night?”
            "About 9 pm, after your third glass of wine---you were sleeping like a baby!”
            "Wow" grimaces Trivette, "sorry sweetheart, did Angela give you any trouble?”
            Angela is now starting to squirm as Trivette's nose wrinkles up, "Uh Erica---I think our goddaughter is having a "stinky moment.”
            Erica smiles, "Good----then you can change her this time---you need the practice.”
            "But Erica---baby---I'm no good at this" Trivette is trying to pass Angela back to Erica, and Erica is backing away.
            "Nope---you change her, I got to get your breakfast ready----have fun.”
              Trivette groans, "Oh darn, now I'll have the stink all over me and will have to take another shower.”

                                    ***************************************************

Walker ranch:


                   Joaquin has followed the directions to "his ranch.” As he goes down the long gravel road, he looks out past the fields, he sees horses running. He marvels at how big the ranch is and then he sees the house.
            "You gotta be kidding" he hisses, "a spread this big and he lives in a place like this! Surely, this has got to be where his hired hands live.”
                   Joaquin checks for the house key on his truck's keys, he has to try several ones before he can unlock the door, when he does get it open a shrill siren goes off. Joaquin is desperately trying to find the alarm to cut it off, then his phone starts ringing.
                  Joaquin is trying to decide whether to answer the phone or still look for the way to cut off the alarm, he's pushing buttons frantically. Finally, he picks up the phone and has to shout over the alarm.
                  "Ranger Walker, this is Brink's Security, your alarm is going off, are you in danger?”
            "NO" he yells back----"I've been out of town, something is wrong with it, I can't turn it off!”
                   "Ranger Walker, are you using the new security number?”
                    Joaquin is getting a headache from the blasting sound, "New security?--What are you talking about?”
                   "Ranger Walker---your security number has been changed, didn't Mrs Walker give you the new number?”
                     Joaquin's temper is rising, "HELL NO----what is it, so I can turn this damn thing off?”
            The voice on the other end is a little 'miffed' at the ranger's rudeness, "Hold on sir, we will turn it off from this end, then you can reactivate it after I give you the new number.”
            The alarm goes silent and Joaquin breathes a sigh of relief, "Thank you---another minute and I would have been deaf!”
            "I'm sorry sir, but your wife specified that she wanted it louder than the previous one that was installed---here is your new security number---please write it down.”
            "I don't have to write the damn number down, just tell me what it is!”
            "Very well sir---the number is 0519202001.”
                   Joaquin shakes his head, "Never mind, wait till I get something to write with----now what was it?”
            The voice repeats the number and Joaquin slams the phone down. "The first thing to go will be that damn alarm, I'm never going to remember this damn number!”
                   Joaquin then makes a tour of his 'home', lingering in the master bedroom. He looks slowly around the room, shaking his head at how everything is so neat. The bed is made perfectly, not a wrinkle to be seen and the pillows up against the headboard in perfect unison.
            He then walks into the nursery across the hall, and suddenly something jabs at his head and a song starts playing "It's a small world after all, it's a small world, after all."
                  Joaquin doubles up his fist to strike his attacker, only to see a 8ft giraffe bobbing his head back and forth and the song continues to play.
            "Damn it, what is this? Another alarm?”
            Finally the song stops and Joaquin walks around the nursery and again, everything is neatly in it's place. He walks slowly over to the baby crib and gently touches the little baby blanket decorated with horses. He then sees the little carousel sitting on the night stand, he winds it up and a beautiful song commences to play in the tinkling of piano keys. He tilts the carousel up and reads the title, "Nadia's Theme
                    Suddenly his cell phone rings, it's Grady.
                   "Where the hell are you, are you at the hospital?”
            "No, I'm at my "new home", so to speak. I'm confused about something Grady.”
            "What else is new, what are you confused about?”
                   Joaquin looks around him, "This place, that's what!"
            "What about it?”
            "How many acres did you say this ranger owned?”
                    "Somewhere close to a thousand, why?”
            "I just can't understand why this house is not fancier, I was expecting a big brick home by the looks of his land, but this is nothing fancy at all, just a two story house!”
            "You saw the pictures that we showed you to get acquainted with your new surroundings, have you forgotten?”
            "I guess the pictures just did it more justice---I know one thing if I owned all this land---I would have a mansion!”
            Grady groans, "I'm sure you would, but try to get it through your head, you don't own it, and from the information on Walker and his wife---they like simple but nice things. Besides, most of his land was inherited down to him through an Uncle and the Indian affairs. Got that?”
                   Joaquin sighs and takes out a cigarette and lights it.  He blows the smoke out and then immediately fans the air.
            "O.k., o.k., what's next---am I excused from my duties as a law officer?”
            "Yes, all of that's taken care of--you are on a six week suspension under the watchful eye of Doctor. Brooking because of your flashbacks and the tension from the Clayton trial. You are both physically and mentally exhausted, got that?”
                  Joaquin spots the picture of Alex and Angela side by side on the night stand, he touches Alex's face, and laughs.
            I hope not completely exhausted physically, remember I have a pretty little wife to take care of---in all the departments!”
            Grady is shaking his head back and forth, "You just remember to be careful around Mrs Walker, remember if anyone is going to see through your disguise, it will be her! These women have a built-in radar about knowing when their husbands are acting the least bit different. You got all of your instructions on how to handle her---remember that?”
            "Yeah, yeah---stop worrying.”
            "I will stop worrying when you keep your pants zipped up; I heard about the little barmaid---if you mess this up---we will both be dead!”
            "And you just remember that as a part of this deal I could have all of the women that I desired and with my "wife" out of commission for awhile--I got to keep myself lubricated so to speak---so the joints won't get rusty---get my drift?”
            "I get your drift and speaking of your wife--don't you think it's time to get back to the hospital ---and for heavens sake---take a shower! Women can smell another's perfume and body secretions---you damn sure don't want her asking questions about how you smell!”
            Grady continues to rake his protιgι over the coals, and then Joaquin heads for the shower. He takes a nice long shower and then heads for the closet for one of Walker's shirts, he chooses a white one and then he goes to the chest of drawers for clean underwear and socks. Again he's taken back by the neatness, all of Walker's 'undies' are neatly arranged. The man lets out a string of curse words.
            "Either this man is a 'wuss' or a neat freak---but then again---it's probably that wife of his that keeps everything so neat---or the maids!”
                    Joaquin finishes dressing and then he looks back to the pile of dirty clothes on the floor, he looks for the hamper, mumbling.
                    "Wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't keep the dirty clothes neatly arranged too--- and by colours-hell---how can anyone live this?”
            The bedroom phone is ringing and Joaquin hesitates to answer, he checks the caller ID---James Trivette 855-0002.
            "Hello Trivette" he answers cautiously.
                "Walker, this is Erica--are you o.k., I didn't wake you, did I?”
            His mind starts racing with information on the Trivettes, "Uh yeah, guess I'm a little groggy---what's up?”
            Erica takes the phone away from her ear, a puzzled look on her face, "Well, there's someone here that wants to talk to her Daddy.”
                  Joaquin is now puzzled, he mutters to himself "Talk to me? I didn't think the kid was old enough to talk"-----
                 "Walker, are you there? Say something so Angela can hear your voice.”
            "Hi Angela, how are you" a very confused Joaquin is trying to make baby talk.
            "Well, that's strange, she doesn't have any reaction to your voice---which is the main reason that I'm calling, Walker--I think Angela might be coming down with a cold. Could you come over here and let's get your opinion---Jimmy says I'm over reacting, but I would feel better after you've seen her?”
                  Joaquin agrees to go the Trivette home, he has to go over all the info in his head about his best friend/ partner and his wife.  He then drives the 5 miles up the gravel road, making a west turn and heading down a long, winding road. He's taking in all the scenery of the Walker land and then he sees the sign: GO LONG TRIVETTE #25. Beside the name is a star with Dallas Cowboys on the bottom.
                Joaquin swears, "I remember you as Cowboy wide receiver---thank God you hurt yourself and was out, just what that damn team needed was another 'nigger'---not that the New Orleans Saints don't have more than their share of you jungle bunnies! My daddy used to use some of your relatives for gator bait!”!
                 Joaquin has to brace himself before going up to the door, reminding himself that his racial preference is starting to surface, and he has to be on extra precaution around his "daughter.”

                                           *************************************************

St. Mathews Hospital:


            Alex is awake and asking if her husband has gotten into Dallas yet.
            "Yes, Mrs Walker" the nurse answers, "He was here with you all night, he was very concerned about you.”
            Alex groans, "Oh no, this isn't the way I had planned our first night together after his long absence.”
            The nurse smiles, "Mrs Walker, you were very lucky to have survived that wreck with only minor injuries, do you remember what happened?”
            "I just recall some idiot flying down the I-20, he must have been doing a 100mph., he caused me to hit my brakes and then I went sliding into a semi----oh my God--was anyone else hurt?”
            "The driver of the truck was treated and released, the other driver took off---no one got his tag numbers---they say it all happened so fast.”
            Alex breathes a sigh of relief, "Thank God--no one else was hurt---or killed!”
            The nurse nods her head, "Doctor Hatton said he would be in a few minutes to talk to you---and your husband said that he would be back after he went home. Sooooo, why don't I get the aide to fix up your hair a little bit, apply a little makeup---and maybe put on a sexier hospital gown?”
            "A sexier hospital gown, is that possible?” Asks Alex.
            The nurse nods her head, "You just leave it up to me, I think I can arrange it. I'll be back in about half an hour, in the meantime I'll get the aide in here to give you a sponge bath and get you all ready for when that good looking husband of yours comes back to see you.”
                    "Nurse"----
            "My name is Linda--is there something else?”
            "Did my husband mention our daughter, is she o.k.?”
            The nurse ponders the question, "I don't recall anything being said about your daughter, maybe he intends to bring her back with him when he comes?”
            Alex smiles, "That will be nice----my two favorite people in the whole world and Angela has sure missed her Daddy! She's barely 5 months old, but I swear she knows her Daddy's voice, and she just giggles all the time and spits little bubbles at him.”

                                      *************************************************

Ranger headquarters: 1pm


                 Ranger James Trivette looks up from his desk to see his verrrry pregnant wife wobbling through the doors. He jumps up and runs across the office to meet her.
            "Erica, sweetheart---what are you doing down here?”
            Erica smiles, "Well, that's a fine greeting for your wife and child" she replies as she pats her stomach.
            "I didn't mean that I wasn't happy to see you---are you o.k., didn't you have a Doctor's appointment today?”
            "Yes, I did" Erica replies slowly as she nods towards the water fountain, "may I have some water please?”
                   Trivette hurriedly fetches the water, and his wife drinks it down quickly.
            "Erica, sweetheart why didn't you tell me to meet you at the Doctor's office--I hope you didn't drive over here!”
            "No, I took a taxi----I just wanted to see you and tell you that me and your son are doing just fine.”
                    Trivette breathes a sigh of relief, "That's good, does it still feel like he's running around in there and catching touchdown passes?”
            Erica nods her head in agreement, "Yes, and I think he's trying to punt too.”
            They both laugh and Erica looks to Gage's desk, "Where is everybody, are you the only one here?”
            "Most everyone is out on a case or out to lunch---where's Angela?”
            "She's at the day care, Walker dropped her off there.”
            "Ah, and what did he say about Angela looking 'pale'?  Trivette teases.
           
Erica hesitates, "He didn't seem too concerned about it and I took her temperature--it was normal.”
            "You see---you were worried about nothing" Trivette reaches down and kisses his wife. "I'll bet he was happy to see his daughter, was he going to the hospital afterwards?”
            "I suppose" Erica replies softly, "Jimmy---do you notice anything different about Walker?”
            "I know he's exhausted, worrying about Alex, that trial, so It's understandable that Commander Briscoe has put him on a medical leave!”
                  "Medical leave? What are you talking about?”
                   Trivette shrugs, "Briscoe got the orders from Walker's Doctor that he's been going to about those flashbacks, and all that has happened down in Louisiana with the Clayton trial.  He's put Walker on a six week medical suspension.”
            "I see---maybe that was why Walker seemed pre-occupied, I guess that was it.”
                    Trivette is studying his wife's facial expression, "O.k.--out with it, what's really bothering you?”
            Again Erica hesitates about answering, "It's just that---that Walker didn't seem very anxious about seeing Angela, he hardly held her at all----he seemed "awkward" around her----and that's something else--Angela was very fussy the whole time Walker was holding her, what little time that was!”
            "Baby----the man was just tired, everything is just out of kilter right now. When Alex gets home, Walker will be his old self again.”
            Erica nods her head and says to herself, "I hope you're right Jimmy----but Angela was not comfortable in her Daddy's arms, she didn't react to his voice at all!”

                                        *********************************************

St. Mathews:

            Alex looks up to see her 'husband' standing in the doorway. Joaquin is hesitant about entering.
                 "Walker----" she takes a deep sigh" I have missed you so much-----would you please get in here?”
                   Joaquin walks towards her bed, slowly taking in her beauty. He smiles and reaches down cautiously to kiss her cheek.
            Alex laughs, "Is that all I'm getting after your long absence---you better try that again, COWBOY!”
                  Joaquin grins as he caresses his 'wife's face, he tilts her head up to him and kisses her long and softly. He can feel his body becoming aroused and he has to fight the temptation to deepen the kiss. He steps back and asks cautiously.
            "Was that better?”
            Alex's face is all aglow as her lips continue to taste her husband's kiss, she smiles back.
            "It will do for now, until I get out of here----and we can really catch up on lost time", she whispers.
                 Joaquin continues to caress Alex's face, he's mesmerized by her blue eyes, he swallows hard, "God, you're beautiful!”
            "Thank you", she whispers, "you say that like it was the very first time.”
                  Joaquin backs up and looks at Alex, his voice is soft, "Every time I will look at you, kiss you, and caress you will be like the 'very first time' and speaking of that, when will you be getting out of here?”
            Alex sighs, "I saw Doctor. Hatton about an hour ago, he wants me to stay through the weekend, Walker---is there something you're not telling me?”
                  Joaquin takes a deep breath, "Not telling you, what do you mean?”
            Alex reaches for her husband's hand, "I just get the feeling that there is something you're not telling me---has Doctor. Hatton told you something different?”
                  Joaquin shakes his head, "I haven't even seen the Doctor. yet---why----what has he said?”
            "He said he has a great concern about that bullet that was lodged near my spine---he said they may have to remove it, if it continues to shift.---Honey---I don't want them to do that---please---no major surgery----please!"
            "Alex-----I'm sure the Doctor. will do----what is necessary---I can't tell them 'no'---"
            "There you are, Ranger Walker!  I looked for you early this morning before my rounds, guess you stepped out for something to drink?”  A gruff voice exclaims.
                Joaquin is startled, as he recalls getting back to the hospital right after the morning rounds, "Uh yeah-----I probably just stepped out for a few minutes", he explains.
                  Doctor. Hatton smiles at Alex, "I'll bet you're happy that your husband is finally home?”
            Alex forces a smile, "I'll be happier if you say you don't have to do that surgery.”
            The Doctor. nods as he looks back at his medical charts, "Doctor. Terrell and some other colleagues and I have been going over your x-rays, as it looks now, everything is good and the surgery may not be necessary---but we're not ruling out, young lady. That bullet took quite a jar from that crash, for now it's stable----but if it should start to shift-----"
            Alex squeezes her husband's hand tighter, "Oh God---no---I can't stand the thought of not being with my daughter and Walker----"
           "Mrs Walker, you're getting yourself worked up and worrying about things that only the man upstairs can decide 'is necessary'---now I know that you are a believer, and you have faith. He will decide, not me!”
                  Joaquin looks away, afraid that Alex will see the look of disapproval in his eyes about the discussion of the the holy intervention of a 'so called God'!
            He takes a deep breath and smiles back at his wife, "The Doctor. is right ---honey-----stop worrying---all will be o.k.!”
            Alex has to wipe her tears, "You're right sweetheart, you're home now and everything will be fine now.----Doctor. Hatton---when do I get to go home?”
            "I told you I want you here through the weekend, and on Monday we will decide if you can go home!”
            The Doctor. leaves and Alex is still trying to get herself together, "I promise myself I wouldn't do this---I just want to go home and be with you and Angela. Walker, you haven't said anything----is she o.k., does my baby miss me?”
            "Of course she misses you, Alex-----and I miss you too" Joaquin's eyes are trying to take in as much of Alex's body as will allow him without being too obvious.
            He smiles to himself, "You are one beautiful woman, Alex---I can see why a man might want to remain faithful if he was married to someone like you.---And, when I do get you between the sheets, I may just make you forget that real husband of yours all together. I have a feeling that you do like it a little rough---I can't wait to find out--just how rough you really do like it!”
                 
Joaquin has stayed at the hospital for almost two hours and they have lunch together. The longer he stays, the more aroused he is getting as Alex continues to make flirtations at her husband.
            She has told him about the peach colored negligee and the evening she had planned, the visualization of their liaison is not helping Joaquin's 'condition'! His thoughts are going back to the night before and the barmaid. The more he thinks about her and listening to Alex talk about the negligee is making him very uncomfortable.
            "I think I will head down to headquarters and see what's happening---I'll be back tonight and we'll share another hospital tray of that delicious (ugh) never mind---I will sneak you in something to eat---what would you like?”
            Alex smiles and pushes out of her bottom lip in a pout, "Are you tired of my company already?”
            "Alex, if I stay any longer I might be tempted to crawl into that bed with you and to hell will the nurses and that damn Doctor.!”
            Alex is now laughing and urging him forward, "It wouldn't be the first time, Cowboy---remember?”
                   Joaquin's eyes grow wide as his mind races with the insinuation that such a encounter has happened before.
            "Well----chalk one up for the ranger, maybe he's not a wuss----after all!!!”
             
"Walker---honey----earth to Walker---you there?”
            A sly grin goes across the bearded man's face, "I was---just remembering----now what would you like for supper?”
            Alex is hesitant, "Oh, how about Chinese----our usual order?”
            Now Joaquin is puzzled again as he tries to find out what their 'usual' order consists of---"Uh, the usual----are you allowed to eat all of that spicy stuff?”
            "Of course, the nurse said I wasn't on any kind of special food----and don't forget my egg drop soup---Mr Tu always makes the best soup-----and get plenty of those Thai noodles that you like so well, cause I'm hungry for them too!”
                  "Right," Joaquin answers slowly, "Mr. Tu's----uh does he make deliveries?”
            "Yes, but you don't like delivery, you say it's never hot enough and they never give you enough of that hot mustard sauce- but that's o.k. honey---you can call it in when you come back!”
            "Well, why don't you call it in and I'll be back at 6 pm to share it with you, is that o.k.?" He then reaches down to give Alex another lingering kiss.
            She sighs, "You better get of here Cowboy, while you got the chance, this bed is getting very lonely.
            He heads for the door slowly, he turns and whispers softly, "You just behave yourself and when I get you home, you won't be lonely, I'll guarantee that!”!

                                              *************************************************

                 Joaquin is heading for Ranger headquarters, his cell phone rings.
            "Yeah, Grady, what is it now?”
            "How was your visit with Mrs Walker?”
                   Joaquin is smiling, "Couldn't have been better, she's even more beautiful than her pictures---and so damn sexy!  Can't wait to get her between the sheets, if she's as hot as she looks, I'm going to enjoy this charade so much that I may even forget it is a charade!”
            "You just remember that you got a job to do, and you're only past the first hurdle with 'your wife'---do I have to remind you that married couples have little 'secrets' they share in the bedroom? Your plastic surgery was the tops in the field, those surgeons performed miracles to make your body and face over to duplicate the Ranger's, but not even they can be foolproof! Like I said before, 'your wife' is going to know every inch of the Ranger's body and every little move that you make while you're making love.”
                   Joaquin grins, "Well maybe you can send me one of those intimate liaisons that your boys taped on the Walkers, I would love to see my beloved in every sexual position possible.
Who knows, she may like the "new husband" better.

 

Chapter 4

            Grady is getting angrier, "You're full of it, the woman is madly in love with her husband---get with the program or Clayton will feed us to the alligators!”
                   Joaquin remains silent as he pulls the Ram up in front of the federal building. He taps the steering wheel and then he sneers.
            "When are you going to tell me where this all going? This Ferris Clayton seems mighty powerful to be pulling all of these strings behind prison walls, and most everyone in the state of Louisiana scared to death of him. Now what is this man after, why doesn't he just hire someone to take the ranger and his entire family out?”
            "Don't you think he's tried, countless times! The ranger is always one step ahead of him, even Clayton's youngest son has tried to take him out, all attempts have failed!”
            "You're not answering my question, what does my impersonation have to do with any of this? Seems like this Clayton fellow is going through a lot of trouble to make this ranger hurt!---If he wants the man dead---hell----I'll do it for free, and then I won't have to worry about him messing up things between me and his pretty little wife!”
            "So, you do fear Cordell Walker, I thought you were afraid of no man?”
            "I'm not stupid, Grady!!! I've read the reports on this man and his fighting skills, 5 times Kickboxing champ, not to mention all of those other awards that he has taken. He was one of the first Americans to be allowed to train under Xung Le Kon, the most noted martial arts instructor since Bruce Lee. And, oh yeah---that other guy--Chuck Norris!!
            "I'm glad you're keeping up on your reports, also remember that this ranger knew Bruce Lee and trained with him, and that other guy you just mentioned!"
            "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm not exactly a dunce in the martial arts either, I can hold my own!”
            "I know that and that's why you were picked, because of your skill in the Arts. The facial structure wasn't too big a challenge for those doctors in Sweden, aside from the nose being too big. Luckily, our ranger has had his broken a few times also, so it all worked out!”
            "Are you going to tell me the rest of this plan, because I know there is more to it than what you're telling me?”
            "In time you will be told more, for now you just concentrate on being convincing enough to your "wife.” Now remember, you have just been told that you are going on medical leave, raise a scene, argue with your boss, and make it convincing!”
            "O.k., I will---I'll raise hell, I may even punch a wall---or someone----maybe that jungle bunny friend, Trivette. How can Walker be friends with a nigger?”
            "Listen to me, Joaquin and listen good. Walker and Trivette are the best of friends and never mind that racial crap, Walker is not prejudice, have you forgotten he's half Indian?---He knows all about people and their racial slurs---he's gone through it himself. Have you forgotten all of this?”
            "No, I haven't forgotten, and I will play your game---but I don't have to like it!”
            "You'll like it, or you will be dead!”
            "The way I see it, I've been dead a long time ago. I 'died' in that pine box that Clayton arranged to be smuggled out of there on it's way to the crematorium. I got nowhere to go and nothing to live for except the day and the pleasures it holds. Which I plan to exercise as soon as I can get out of that hospital and visiting with my 'dearly beloved Alex!”
            "That's another thing I need to warn you about-----"
            "Don't start in on my sexual needs, Grady---that wasn't part of the deal!”
            "I'm not telling you that you can't have your sexual partners----I'm wanting you to be more discreet.”
            "What are you talking about, I went all the way to Waco, that's over a 100 miles away!”
            "You moron---Walker is a Texas Ranger, he goes all over the state, the man is well known---and for Christ's sake--the man was a rodeo rider, he's been known to have a couple of ex-girlfriends in that area!”
                   Joaquin is grinning from ear to ear, "Really?---Some old girlfriends, huh---now how would you know about them?”
            Grady takes a deep breath, The same way I found out about that little scar, just about 2 inches from your crown jewels, you have noticed the scar, haven't you?”
                   Joaquin grimaces, he looks down to the front of his jeans, and answers slowly, "Yeah------you mean----the doctors intentionally gave me that scar---why?”
            Grady shakes his head, "I've told you---we know everything there is to know about the ranger, and Mrs Walker is going to know about that scar too---since she's responsible for it being there!”
            Now Joaquin's curiosity has really peaked, "Wait a minute----the way you make it sound this Alex is a hell cat in the bedroom?”
            Grady takes a deep breath, "It's not what you think, the ranger was teaching her some moves using those things---nunchucks---or whatever they're called--the ranger was off guard and she accidentally hit him with them---right in the groin!”
                  Joaquin groans, "Damn--something tells me I'd better not 'piss' the lady off, if she can do that damage--'accidentally', and they are called nanchkakas!”
            "That's what I've been trying to tell you, the ranger is not to be messed with, and neither is his wife!”
            "O.k., o.k., I'm going into the building now--guess I'll look up my boss and get the bad news of my medical leave!”

                                        ***************************************************

Crawfish County, Louisiana:


            The old couple watch as the 'fancy man' in his $1000 suit and the pretty lady exit their limousine and approach their rundown riverboat home. They giggle as the pretty lady in heels has to hold onto the rope that is used for support on the rickety old plank.
            Red is grinning as he secretly wishes that the woman would lose her balance and fall into the murky water. He could envision the sight of her shapely body against wet clothes.
            The couple have finally reached what is left of the old porch that encircles the riverboat. The 'fancy man' uses a silk scarf to wipe his brow and lets loose with a string of curse words. The woman hits him in the back of the head.
            "Stop your complaining and let's on with what we came for" she turns to the old couple, "we're here for the merchandise, is he ready?”
            Red spits out a wad of chewing tobacco, it lands near the woman's foot.
            "Yeah, he's ready---where's our money?”
            The woman pushes past the old couple and stumbles into the front room, she sees the man laying in the floor and Norma Jean is laying beside him, massaging his groin area.
            The woman storms across the room and pulls the young girl up by her stringy hair and shoves her across the room.
            "Get your filthy hands off of him, you twit!”
            Norma Jean goes screaming at the lady, "He ''ain't yours---he's mine--I'm keeping him!”
            The cat fight is on as the two women begin scratching eyes, and pulling hair. The old couple look on in amusement, the 'fancy man' is not amused---not in the least. He steps towards the fighting women and walks up behind Norma Jean. He puts a 10 inch blade across the front of her neck and glides it swiftly across the young girl's throat.
                     Norma Jean is gurgling and falling backwards, trying to keep both hands across the gaping hole in a futile attempt to stop the blood from gushing out. Her eyes look to the old couple, begging them to do something, the old woman just looks away.
            Red stares back at the 'fancy man', "Now, what ya have to go and do that for, she still had a few good years in her?”
            The 'fancy man' says nothing as he wipes the blood from the knife, he nods to the woman.  "Get your friend and let's get the hell off this stinking boat!”
            The woman is trying to lift the man off the floor, the 'fancy man' nods towards the old couple, "Help her to get the man out to my car----and be quick about it----MOVE!!!!
            The old man shoves the two women out of the way and hoists the bearded man up and over his shoulder. He walks quickly across the old planks and deposits his baggage into the back seat of the waiting limo. The driver wrinkles his nose at the smell on the old man.
            "You stink of gator dung" he mumbles.
            Red spits out another wad of tobacco juice and grins, "You don't smell too bad yourself" he replies.
            Red walks back over the plank as the old woman is wobbling towards him, holding a wad of money. Red grins.
            "How much did we get, Maudie?”
            The old woman opens her mouth to speak and the blood pours out, the 'fancy man' is standing behind her, wiping the blood off the same knife.
            The old woman falls forward and Red tries to catch her, he stares back at the 'fancy man', as the man is approaching him.
            "No---please----don't kill me-ain't we done everything to please you---don't-----"
            Red has no time to finish his plea as his head is pulled back and another knife goes across his jugular. The limo driver is standing over him, laughing. He continues to laugh as he kicks Red over the side and  into the stinky waters of the swamp.
            "You smell like ''em, might as well be a part of their meal too.”
            The pretty lady is shaking her head in disgust, "You two are going to be the death of me---you didn't have to kill them!!!”
            The 'fancy man' smiles, "Dead men can't talk----and we keep the reward money ourselves---Duane---gather up this money.”
            Duane is grinning and grabbing the money as fast as he can, the woman smirks and walks back across the wobbling plank, she loses her footing and goes headfirst into the water. She's trashing about and suddenly hears a splash just a few feet away, a gator has sensed the activity and he's smelled the blood.
            The woman is screaming to the two men to pull her out. The 'fancy man' does nothing as Duane is trying to grab the woman's hand.
            The gator is almost on the woman as his mouth opens wide, Duane yanks the woman out, just in time.
            The woman is sputtering and yelling curse words at the man in the fancy suit.
            "You sorry s.o.b, just wait till Ferris hears about this--he'll feed you to those, limb by limb!”
            The man smiles slowly, "If you say one word about all of this, I will put a bullet into the head of your friend---and then I will slit your throat----very slow, so you can watch as your blood drops into the swamp and all of your little gator friends will come to feast on what is left of you----got that?”
            The woman is still steaming, the limo driver swallows hard as he extends his hand to the woman.
            "Come on Sis---don't make him any madder than what he is----the man's crazy!”
            The man sneers, "Crazy huh?---If you had spent time in the bamboo prisons of Nam---you'd be crazy too--I'm tame compared to what the others are.  And, there are so many of us--lost souls that no longer see--or feel the pain. We're the walking dead!”

                                           
***********************************************

                    Joaquin/Walker has received the news from Cmdr Brisco of his forced leave of absence. He begins raising his voice so everyone in ear shot can hear his disgruntlement.
                 "Whether you like it or not Walker, you need to take some time off--you will continue to draw your pay check, what the hell you complaining about?”
            "I'll go crazy sitting around that ranch doing nothing!”
                "Nothing? Walker you were just saying last month that you had all kinds of work piling up and that you were thinking of buying some more cattle."
                 Joaquin begins to pace and then he looks back to his c.o. "Yeah, maybe you're right---maybe it wouldn't be so bad, having some time off.”
            The commander smiles, "Good, I'm glad you're coming to your senses---you can find all kinds of things to keep you busy at your ranch--and what about that fishing trip you and Alex were suppose to take with her Father? I hear that boat that Gordon purchased is quite a 'eye popper, how big did he say it was?”
                    Joaquin's brow arches, he has to think fast. "Uh, he didn't say---but it's huge'!
            The captain nods his head, "That father-in-law of yours is quite an old sea dog, he even asked me and the old lady to come down for a weekend---and I don't mind saying--I would love to---but got too much damn work to do---now get out here so I can get it done!!!”!!
                    Joaquin walks slowly out of the commander's office as he's thinking deeply about the subject that was just discussed. He swears to himself.
            "Damn you Grady, I wasn't told anything about a boat"
                 
"Ranger Walker?” A woman's voice brings him out his self-arguing.
                 Joaquin turns quickly towards the voice, "Yeah---what is it?”
            The woman backs up timidly, "I'm sorry to bother you Ranger Walker, but the captain wants you to sign these papers.”
            "What papers" Joaquin looks back at the woman, she's in her twenties and very attractive and a body to match. He continues to let his eyes go up and down the woman's body. She clears her throat and motions towards the papers.
                  "They're release papers, releasing you from duty---temporarily of course-----and there are some papers that you have to sign from a Doctor Michael Brooking---I thought Cmdr Brisco explained everything to you?”
            "Yeah, he did" Joaquin is smiling, "I'm sorry I barked at you----uh'
                   "Dana"- the woman replies
            "Uh yes, Dana---I'm sorry----I've just been under a lot of pressure lately----will you forgive me?”
            The woman lowers her eyes, "Of course I forgive you---we all know what you've gone through---your wife was worried sick about you the whole time you were down there on that trial.”
               Joaquin takes a deep breath at the mention of his 'wife'." Yeah----she worries a lot---you know how women are.”
            Dana is confused at the way the ranger is looking at her, but she also feels flattered. Ever since she came to work for the DA's office, she has had a small crush on the bearded ranger, even knowing he was married---and so was she. She backs away slowly and Joaquin is still staring at her, she excuses herself and walks away quickly.
            He watches as she approaches the elevator, she stops and looks back at him, smiling softly.
                   Joaquin continues to watch as the elevator door closes, he says to himself.
            "Nice ass----I just wonder how many women in this building alone has that ranger 'humped'---can't tell me he hasn't tried---married or not----he has definitely sent out some kind of message to that young woman---I wonder how many more?”
               
Joaquin sees the sign "GYM' , he heads in that direction.

                                          ****************************************************

            Two more rangers are heading in the same direction, rangers Syd and Gage. The two have obviously been arguing, the man stops and gently pulls the woman back and in a hushed tone, he asks.
            "Syd, would you please tell me what I've done wrong now?”
            The woman is small in stature, but very muscular to that of a dancer. Her hair is long and black, she's very beautiful of maybe a Oriental background. Her dark eyes stare back at the tall ranger, who is also very muscular.
            "How can you stand there and ask me what' did you do wrong---my God Gage, that suspect was groping you and literally 'raping you with her eyes and you just stood there!”
            The man is irritated, "For the last time Syd, Karen was not a suspect---she was doing some undercover work for me to try and nail Benny for that drug money.”
            Syd fold her arms across her chest, and smiles--"Undercover, huh? What other kind of 'undercover' work was she doing for you Gage?”
            Gage is getting angrier, he puts his hands out in a 'time out' gesture---"Wait a minute, what is all of this really about, Syd?  What kind of mixed signals are you sending out now?”
            "What are you talking about, signals? "
            "Yes signals, Syd! You have been giving me these mixed signals for over a month now, sometimes I think you want to be with me, and then when we start getting 'hot and heavy'---you pull the plug on me!”
            Syd looks quickly around her as they have attracted the attention of others, "Would you please lower your voice, do you think I want the whole federal building to hear our discussion?”
            Gage slams his fist onto the elevator button, he turns to his partner, "Discussion? Is that what this is?”
            "What would you call it?”
            The elevator door opens and the two enter, Gage hits the 'down button. He shakes his head.
            "I want to know one way or another, about our relationship and where it's going!”
            Syd squints, "What relationship?-We don't have a relationship, outside of being fellow rangers!”
            Gage points his finger at Syd, "That's what I want to clear up---do we continue being partners and our relationship continue to be 'just friends' or do we do something about it and go forward?”
            "How can we have any kind of personal relationship when you're 'bedding' every female that comes into your life?”
            "I'm not 'bedding' every female I see, I do have a sex life you know Syd---or has it been so long for you that you don't know what it's like anymore?”
            Syd's eyes grow wide as she slams her fist down on the hold button, "How dare you talk to me like that, I've told you that I wasn't ready to start another relationship!”
            "It's been almost 6 months since you and that twerp of a tennis player broke up---get over it Syd---life goes on!”
            Syd shakes her head, "I can't just jump into bed with every temptation that comes along---not like you can---I have to have feelings for the man I want to be with---and not just what they have between their legs!”
            Gage is pacing the small cubicle, "So that's it---you don't have any feelings for me, is that it? Then why did you invite me over for a romantic dinner and why did you wear that sleazy little gown when you answered the door?”
            "It was not a romantic dinner as you are insinuating, I simply ask you to dinner and as for the gown----well---I was intending to change to something---not so revealing.”
            "I loved the gown, Syd---you were breathtaking in it and even though I find you so damn sexy in the everyday clothes I see you wearing, I thought the gown was a nice touch---and I thought---you wore it for me.”
            "Well---you were wrong----"
            "I should have known and what about the flirting--did I imagine that too?”
                  "Flirting?”
            "Yes Syd---flirting! Has it been so long that you don't know the difference between it and----casual conversation?”
            "If you make one more remark about my femininity---I'm going to-----"
            "You're going to what Syd, knee me in the groin---that's your style---isn't it? Fighting---well you know what Syd, I don't think you know how to be a woman!”
            Syd releases the button and the elevator starts to descend, "Is that so? Well maybe you're not man enough for me to show you how much of a woman I can be?”
            Gage gets down in her face, "That's because you're afraid to give me the chance. I made a move on you last night----and you almost took my head off! A very simple little romantic move between a man and a woman, and you didn't know how to handle it, so you resorted to the only defense you know---to act like a man!”
            The elevator doors open as Syd slaps Gage across the face as hard as she can. The slap is loud as everyone in the gym stops and looks towards the two duelling rangers, including Joaquin.
                   Joaquin watches as a angry Syd stomps towards her gym locker and a ranger Gage is left rubbing his face. Gage takes a deep breath as he sees Joaquin staring back at him, almost laughing.
            Gage is flustered as he walks slowly up to his 'boss',
                  Joaquin smiles, "Trouble in paradise?”
            Gage shakes his head, "What am I doing wrong Walker? I've taken it slow, she doesn't respond---I move fast---and she almost kills me!”
                   Joaquin looks towards Syd, his eyes quickly take her sexual frame into his mind and the thoughts taking shape there. He looks back to Gage.
            "Don't get me mixed up in this, I have enough problems.”
            Gage frowns, "Did you ever have this problem with Alex?----Oh never mind---I know about you two and how long it took you to even ask her out! What was it--six or seven years?”
                   Joaquin looks back towards Syd as she's heading for the women's locker room,"  What difference does it make how long it took me to ask Alex out, I sure wasn't sitting back and twiddling my thumbs.”
            Gage looks at his boss, puzzled. That’s the first time that Walker had ever commented to him about his and Alex's prolonged courtship-- in any manner. He hesitates.
            "Do you think that's my problem, I'm twiddling my thumbs?---I date other women, I'm not ---doing without!”
                    Joaquin studies his young friend and then casually puts his arm around his shoulder, "Look, if I were you--I would just let Syd cool her heels----and go work off some tension---if you know what I mean?”
            "I have a feeling you're not referring to the punching bags.”
                   Joaquin removes his arm, "The quickest way to make a woman want you---is to ignore them---they'll come around.”
            "Yeah" the tall ranger nods his head, "yeah you're right---and I know just the person I can ignore Syd for----Karen!!! After all, there are more fish in the sea---so to speak---right Walker?”
            "You got it big guy----and if you so much as hint about repeating our little conversation and this gets back to Alex---I'll use your head for my punching bag---got that?”
            Gage clears his throat, "Loud and clear, boss!"
                Joaquin watches as the tall ranger heads back to the elevator and then he sees Syd coming back into the gym area with her tights on. He steps back up against the wall and watches her.
            Syd is slamming her fists into the punching bag when someone suddenly grabs it. She sees her boss grinning back at her.
                  "Whoa---slow down--there are other ways of releasing frustration!”
            Syd smiles, " Like what?”
                  Joaquin studies his young partner, "God, she's even more beautiful than the pictures he's had to study of her, his mind is going crazy.”
           
He knows the only way he's going to get close to this goddess is through their love for the arts, he motions towards the ring.
            "Come spar with me---got some new moves to show you'"
            Most everyone stops and watches as the two go through their drills, it's always fascinating to watch Cordell Walker and this time he's not pulling any punches with his young partner.
            Syd is breathing hard after the 20 minute workout and being slammed to the mat repeatedly. She refuses to give in as she continues to kick out at the man who she thinks has taught her everything she knows. She takes her stance and studies what will be his next move, she leads with her right foot, Joaquin kicks out to her left and Syd goes down hard on her rear. The spectators grimace as Joaquin reaches out to help her up; she slaps his hand away and immediately jumps up and takes her stance again.
                   Joaquin grins, "Wanna call it quits, Syd--you're breathing mighty hard?”
            "I'll tell you when I want to quit" she lunges towards him again, he brings his knee up into her stomach and again she goes down hard.
            He bends down to her and gently helps her up, pulling her into him.” Didn’t mean to show you up, but frankly--you've gotten a little careless--especially on the round house kick, I've told you to lead with your left, fake with your right, haven't you listened to anything I've taught you?”
            Syd is trying to catch her breath, never has she remembered Walker being so aggressive; she tries to shake her head. The other spectators have begun to disperse; some are staring back at Joaquin in total disbelief.
            "I guess I have been a little out of it lately," Syd sputters.
            "I would say you're totally out of it and need more training" Joaquin is still holding the woman close to him. Syd is becoming uncomfortable with the closeness.
            She pulls back, "I do need some more time on working on those new moves, I'll start first thing in the morning!”
            "You'll start tonight!” Bellows Joaquin. "And, I'm going to be right here to make sure you earn every bead of sweat that comes from your body and we'll start with your jabs, you're leaving yourself wide open-----"
                    "Ranger Walker---you got a phone call--I believe it's your wife!” One of the other rangers yells out.
                    Joaquin tries to hide his disappointment as he goes to answer his call. Syd is still trying to get her breath.
            "O.k.---you can wait till morning to start the new drill, I have to get over to the hospital.”
            As Joaquin heads to the showers, the last remaining ranger besides Syd walks up to the ring slowly and asks her if she's o.k.
            "Yeah" she answers embarrassed, "I'm fine---Walker is right, I'm getting slow.”
            "No offense Sydney--but I think Walker was a little too rough on you---I don't think I've ever seen him be so rough --it was like he was angry at you or something!”
            "Look---if Walker was rough on me, then he was seeing something I wasn't---and the bad guys out there sure aren't going to go easy on me---so back off Jonesy!”
            The man throws his hands up, "Fine! I guess if you want to act like a man, then Walker is going to treat you like one.”
                    "What's that suppose to mean, Jonesy---I suppose you and Gage have been talking?”
                    "Whatever!” The man waves her off and Syd is pondering what he has said and the comments by Gage. She exits the ring and goes back to the punching bag and starts hitting it softly.
            "What if Gage was right---maybe I don't know how to act like a woman anymore? I'm so damn wrapped up in my job that I don't know how to relax.”
      

Chapter 5


                Joaquin has headed back to the hospital to have supper with Alex.
            He's trying hard to eat the Chinese noodles with chop sticks. Alex is watching him and smiling.
                      "Honey, what's wrong, you've always mastered the chopsticks?”
                  "Guess I'm just tired, where's the damn fork?”
            They finish their meal with small talk and Alex is continually asking about Angela.
            "Are you sure she's o.k., both Josie and Erica said that she looked a little pale?”
                    Joaquin shakes his head, "Of course she would be pale to them, what would you expect?”
            Alex looks back to her husband, "Walker---that wasn’t nice thing to say---they are just worried about her. Did you take her temp?”
            "No, Erica said she took it---it was fine!”
            "Well, I would feel better if you took it- also---before she goes to bed tonight.---And, would you please call me and let me know the results?”
                   Joaquin has reached for the egg rolls and he smothers them in mustard sauce, "O.k., o.k., I will---when I go over to the Trivettes, I'll check it then and call you.”
                   "Good" Alex exhales, "and would you please make sure she's not in any draft, just in case she is trying to come down with a cold? Maybe you should move her crib closer to the doorway, that way you can hear her easier if she should wake during the night?”
                  "What? I thought she was staying at the Trivettes'?”
            Alex is trying to take a swallow of tea, "No, honey---I would feel better if she was home with you, besides Erica needs her rest too, she's due in less than 2 wks!”
                   Joaquin can feel his anger showing and his hopes of getting any 'action' going out of the window if he's left to baby sit.
            "Alex, I'm tired---I think it would be best if Angela stays another night at the Trivettes'---I got to get some sleep!”!
            "O.k. honey---I'll call and ask Erica if she can stay another night--but Walker---we can't keep imposing on Erica and Jimmy this way.”
            "I know, but I would be so exhausted---I wouldn't hear 'the kid' crying---if she did wake up.”
            Alex is staring back at her husband, "Kid? Since when do you refer to your daughter as 'the kid'?
            "I didn't mean that---Alex-- like I said I'm tired, and I don't know what I'm saying?”
            She reaches out and takes his hand, "I'm sorry honey--I'm just so upset that I have to be in this damn hospital---I want to be home with you and our daughter.”
            "You will be --soon. I want to go home and take a shower----as soon as I go by the Trivettes and check on--Angela's temperature.”
            "Thank you sweetheart and maybe you should take the swan music over---just in case Angela is still fussy?”
            "Swan music?---Alex---what are you springing---uh never mind---of course I’ll take the little carousel over--"
            "Not the carousel, that plays "Nadia's Theme! I'm talking about the swan music----on the cd?”
                 Joaquin's head is starting to spin as he's silently cursing Grady again---"Yeah---o.k.---the swan music---o.k. got it----are there anymore instructions?”
            Alex takes a deep breath at her husband's impatience, "Yes" she answers slowly, "get over here and give me a kiss, I didn't get one when you first came in.”
                  Joaquin hesitates, as he remembers the cigarette he had before coming to visit Alex, knowing she would be able to smell it and taste it on his breath. "Well---that's because I didn't have time to brush my teeth---before I left the gym.”
            Alex smiles, "Honey, don't you know by now that I know when you have a smoke?”
                  Joaquin is again puzzled as he starts to stammer---"Smoke?”
                    "Walker, I don't mind you smoking your cigars once in awhile, I've told you that!”
            "Oh yeah---my cigars---I just forgot---"
            "What did you think I meant?”
                  "Nothing----let's just forget it---how about that kiss?”
            They share a tender kiss and Alex is staring back at her husband again.
            "Now what?” He asks.
            "I was just wondering when you were going to tell me about the medical leave you're forced to take, I must say---you're taking it very well---not breaking any furniture!” She teases him.
                   Joaquin takes a deep breath, "Well, you know Alex----I was upset at first----but then I got to thinking about all of the work I have to do around the ranch--and maybe it's time I took some time off.”
            "Will wonders never cease, how many times have I tried to get you to take some time off? I just wish I was out of here and home with you--to help you 'fill the void'--so to speak?”
            "There will be plenty of time for that" he kisses her again slowly, "now I got to get out of here, go home and get some sleep.”
            "O.k. sweetheart, be sure and call me after you check on Angela, don't forget to take the swan music over there with you.”

                                             *******************************************

                Joaquin is still shaking his head and cursing Grady again, he calls the number from Walker's home.
            "Yeah---what's the problem now?”
            "I don't know --you tell me---what is this--swan music?”
            "What the hell are you talking about?”
            "All I know is, every time I turn around, I'm running into new obstacles---someone is not doing their job---there's nothing in any of those files on Walker that says anything about---swan music? Is he some kind of opera freak too?”
            "I don't know what you're mumbling about---just a minute I'll look up the info on the data sheet."
            "I thought you and your guys knew everything there was to know about this guy, right down to the scar on his groin?”
            Grady is still searching for info, "We can't think of everything---how was the subject of swan music brought up?”
                   Joaquin is reaching for a cigarette, "The 'kid-- 'who else? Alex was saying that if Angela is fussy, that I should play the swan music for her----it's on some kind of a cd.”
            "O.k. then, what's the problem? Look through the cd's and find it---for heaven's sake!”
            "Don't you think that's what I've been doing?” Joaquin is looking at the mess in the front room, "I'll never be able to get this room back the way it was, I can't find any damn tape on swans!”
            Grady is still searching his files, "I can't find anything on swans-------"
            "Oh great" yells back Joaquin.-- "I thought your people were up on everything---you've gone back years to dig up info on this man, how he walks, talks, what his favourite food is, family info, and that's another thing!---You didn't tell me anything about a damn boat!”
            Grady is shaking his head, "Boat? Now, what are you jabbering about?”
                   Joaquin is smoking one cigarette after another as he paces through the Walker house, "Apparently---this man's Father-in-law has bought a fancy boat and has asked that the Walkers come down for a visit---down where? You better get on the ball, Grady and start giving me this information ahead of time and not let it constantly be catching me off guard!”
            Grady takes a deep breath, "I can't find anything on the mention of swans, so it must be something entirely private between Walker and his wife----and since it was mentioned surrounding their kid, then I would assume that it's only surfaced in the last few months----and I can't do anything about that. We have nothing much on the Walker family in the last few months---so you're just going to have to 'wing it'---or  improvise. Tell the wife that you can't find it, and pray that your kid is not fussy again when you go to see her.”
            "This Walker is a real wimp, letting a wife and kid rule him---they sound very patronizing to that kid, well---I've got my own way of 'patronizing'---- a quick hand to the kid's backside!”
            "For heaven's sake, Joaquin, the kid is just a baby----don't you dare raise a hand to her---do you hear me?”
            "I hear you, now you hear me! For the last time you get this info to me ahead of time----------"
            "How can we get info that we don't have? ----There will be certain things that have happened in Walker's life that we can't possibly know about and new things  occurring everyday---our info just goes back to the day of the Walker kid's birth----after that----Ferris said that nothing else mattered!”
                    Joaquin blows the smoke out slowly, "O.k.---I'll improvise---the music can't be that important if your people don't have anything on it, what about the Father-in-law and that damn boat?”
            "His name is Gordon Cahill and an ex-lawyer---"""
            "Yeah, yeah--I know all of that---where does he live, what about the boat?”
            "He moved to Houston a little over a year ago, lives with a girlfriend, named Rita Caldwell, marine biologist, and apparently very young. The boat is 50 footer, has 900 horsepower and will cruise at 900 rpm's. That's all we know about it, it's called "Pumpkin"
                 "Pumpkin? What kind of name is that for a boat?”
                 "Apparently 'pumpkin' is his daughter's nickname---if you had read your reports, you would know that!!
                    Joaquin is rubbing his forehead, "I only know one thing, this is giving me one big headache!!----Hell---prison life wasn't this complicated!!!”
            Grady smiles, "Well if you mess this up, you're going to be back there real soon, and believe me---you're not going to like what Ferris has in store for you!”
                  Joaquin sneers, "You know what Grady, I've come to the conclusion that this plan is not going to work without me, and I demand to know just where the hell is this plan going? It's not making any sense to me---if I knew what to expect, then maybe I wouldn't be so confused and these little surprises wouldn't catch me off guard!---Now you tell Ferris Clayton that I'm tired of being in the dark, I want some answers!”
            "O.k.," Grady answers slowly, "I have a meeting with Clayton in the morning, I'll tell him just what you said, I'm sure he will have something to say about that!”
                   Joaquin continues to smoke, "Yeah-----you tell him just what I said---in the meantime I got to get over to see that kid----"
                    "Remember to take a shower and get the smell of cigarettes off you----"
                 Joaquin quickly looks around the room and then back at the phone, "How did you know I was smoking?”
            Grady snickers, "Don't you know by now that I know every move you're making?---And oh yes---clean that mess up in the front room---you got cd tapes all over the front room!!---Your 'wife' wouldn't like the mess, would she?”
                   Joaquin slams the phone down and starts kicking at the tapes on the floor---emitting a string of curse words. He stops and begins straightening up, he stares at the tapes.
            "I can't remember if they were in alphabetical order---damn it---knowing that broad---they were also arranged by the color code!! Geez--- I got to get some action, I ain't staying over there at the jungle bunnies' place all night with that kid.---I got to calm down---got to take that shower, guess I'll have to brush my teeth too----and mouth wash?------Walker---you're a pain in the ass!!!”

                                              *********************************************

Trivette's home: 9pm

Joaquin is holding Angela and once again, Erica is puzzled at his behavior. She observes the way that Angela is being held, "Walker" looks very uncomfortable holding her and Angela is once again becoming fussy.
            Erica clears her throat as she walks into the living room and hands her husband's best friend and a partner, a cup of coffee.
            "I just talked to Alex a little less than half an hour ago, and I told her that I had taken Angela's temp---but if you want to take it again---I understand?”
                    Joaquin sips the coffee quickly, "No----that's not necessary---she looks fine.”
            Erica nods her slowly, "O.k.----uh, did you bring the cd with the swan music on it?”
            "No-----I forgot it----actually I think Alex must have taken it from the front room----because I couldn't find it--in our cd collection.”
            Erica's brow goes up, "Alex doesn't keep it with the other music---it's always in the little cd player, by Angela's crib!”
                    Joaquin's head is spinning again, "I forgot to look there---but I'll find it---in the meantime I got to go---I'm tired---and I think the 'ki'----I mean I think Angela has had-- a accident?”
            Erica makes a grimace, "Uh oh----I think you're right---I'll get you a pamper!”
            "A pamper?” Whispers Joaquin to himself, "Now I'm going to have to change this kid's diaper?   Oh Grady---wait till I get my hands on you---I'm"
           
"Hey Walkman" A voice yells out, "how ya' doing buddy?”
                     Joaquin looks up to see his partner walking through the front door, and grinning from ear to ear.
                   "Heeeyyy Angela, how ya doing sweetheart?” Trivette reaches down to kiss Angela's cheek, Joaquin is steaming at the thought of a black man kissing someone that is suppose to be 'family'. He takes a deep breath and replies.
            "I'm doing o.k., where have you been?”
                  Trivette is still grinning and making goo-goo sounds at his goddaughter, "Well, contraire to you non-workers that are on vacation, there are still some of us that have to go out and make a living!”
            "What the hell is that suppose to mean? I didn't ask for this vacation!”
            "Calm down partner---I didn't mean anything by it, I know you had no choice in the matter---I was just joking with you!”
                   Trivette looks up to see Erica coming back with one of Angela's pampers, he starts laughing. "I got back just in time to see the great Cherokee warrior do the dirty deed.”
                   Joaquin hesitates about taking the pamper, "Uh Erica---could you do this for me, my stomach is a little upset.”
                   "Walker, it's only number one----it's not like your daughter has dumped her stink load.”
                 "Jimmy!!!”
                 "What's the big deal---you've changed her pampers plenty of time!”
                 Joaquin is still hesitating and looking back at Trivette with daggers, Erica exhales and reaches for Angela.
            "Never mind, I will change her!---Come on Angela---let's me and you go take care of business---and let the two big, macho, men discuss less important things like catching the bad guys!”
                   Joaquin breathes a sigh of relief as he rises from the couch, "I gotta go---gotta get some sleep.”
            "Wait a minute Walker, I wanted to talk to you about something!”
            "Like what?"
            "Look, I know you're tired, but I need to ask you some questions about how your room mate died.”
            "What room mate?”
            "Your room mate while you were on that trial----Harvey Bates?”
            "Oh him, he was found dead in his room--- fell in the shower and broke his neck.”
                   Trivette smirks, "Yeah, that's the official" report, but you and I both know that it wasn't an accident. Ferris Clayton had something to do with that man's death, just like the other two witnesses that met 'untimely' deaths!”
                   Joaquin studies his partner's face, he knows the man is good in his work. He's read the reports on him, repeatedly. He hesitates.
                  "There's nothing more that can be done for the poor man---and yeah you're right this Ferris Clayton had to have something to do with all those murders----which is just exactly why I refuse to testify!”
            "Hey, it's o.k. Walker" Trivette walks slowly up to his partner and Joaquin backs up. "I would have done the same thing under the conditions---things change when you have someone else to worry about. It's o.k. man!”
            "Yeah---well---I have a wife and kid to think about---it's not like how it was when it was just me----you got a kid on the way---you should know how it feels!”
            "Yes Walker, I said I understood---I just want to know if you want to take a trip back down there with me?”
            "Back to Baton Rouge, why?”
            "To talk to the investigating teams down there, maybe they've overlooked something and since you found the body---maybe you can shed some light on the case!”
            "No----I'm too exhausted---let the officials handle it---it's out of our jurisdiction anyway!"
              Trivette laughs, "When has that ever stopped you?---I've seen you go down to Mexico on cases that were---WWWWAAAAAAYYY out of your jurisdiction!!!”
                    Joaquin takes a deep breath, "Look I'm tired and I don't care to get into this---if you want to go down there ---then go----keep me out of this!”
                    Joaquin is grabbing his hat and stomping towards the front door, Erica has heard their conversation.
            "Wow---is he steamed or what?"
            "He's just tired, after he gets a good night's sleep I'll bet he will change his mind about going----is Angela asleep?”
            Erica is still staring at the front door, "Yeah" she answers slowly, "Angela fell asleep just a few minutes ago.----Jimmy----don't you think Walker was behaving a little odd?”
              Trivette exhales, "Oh come on baby----we've been over this---Walker is exhausted, he just wants to go to his ranch and get some sleep.”
            Erica looks back to her husband, "Sleep? Jimmy, the man had after shave lotion on!”

                                             ******************************************************

               Joaquin has pointed the Ram North.  He drives slowly up 281, he thinks back to the way that Erica was observing his holding his daughter.
            "You're getting a little too nosy---miss Erica. Maybe I should take care of your nose being so out of joint, and give you something else to think about. Maybe a fall down your stairs would do the trick---heyyy that's not such a bad idea---not only would it stop you from poking your nose where it doesn't belong----but maybe rid the world of another jungle bunny!”!
                 
Joaquin is laughing and then he sees the sign---Wichita Falls.
                   "Hmmmm, Wichita Falls---sounds like a nice place to get some action---I wonder how many girlfriends the ranger has there.? I also hear they got some good places to eat Mexican food-----sounds good---but I sure would like to have some good gumbo and shrimp!”

**********************************************************

Mississippi State Line:
                              
            The limousine is barrelling down I-10 going East towards Biloxi, Mississippi.
            The pretty brunette is yelling at the driver to slow down, "Would you slow it down to below 70, we don't need a speeding ticket---you moron!”
            The man in the fancy suit is clipping his nails as he turns to look in the back seat.
            "She's right---slow it down---how's our patient?”
            The woman is wiping the brow of the bearded man, "I think you gave him too much 'juice' he's still out!”
                   "Good" the man replies sarcastically, "he's less trouble this way!”
            The driver begins rubbing his stomach, "Hey boss, you think we could stop and get something to eat, I'm starving!”
            "Yeah, me too" agrees the woman, "we haven't eaten since early this morning-----and our friend here needs to be cleaned up---I think he just 'peed' on himself!”
            The driver shakes his head, "Yeah, he's starting to smell!”
            "Very well---there's a drive inn---pull in there and order something----and then pull over to that service station and take our friend to the men's room and clean him up---and don't take all night about it!”
            The limo attractions attention as it pulls into The Sonic drive inn, the carload of teenagers next to it is making catcalls at the driver.
            "Hey who’s in there in there driver?---Some movie star?”
            The driver remains quiet till he puts in his order, a couple of the teenagers are getting too close to the limo, he yells at them.
                   "Stupid kids----get away or I'll bust your heads!”!
            Their food is delivered to the limo, the little carhop frowns as there is no tip left. The limo pulls out and heads to the service station, where again--it has drawn attention.
            Three young servicemen have watched as the extended car pulls up to the men's room. The driver goes to the back seat and is pulling the unconscious man out and balancing him up against him, half dragging him.
            The first young man nudges his friends, "Hey guys, check this out---Mr. Big has had too much to drink and has to have help getting to the little boys' room.”
            The other two laugh, "Yeah, must have one 'wet bar' back there---hey maybe we can grab some beers if we help the driver?”
            The blond headed one shrugs, "Naw-come on guys, we got to get back to base---before we're listed as AWL.”
            The three are heading back to their car when the carload of teenagers from the Sonic are pulling in and start hassling the limo driver. The driver is trying to hold the bearded man up, and is kicking out at the teens.
            The woman is watching from the limo and chomping down on a hamburger, "Maybe we should help him?”
            The 'fancy man' just shrugs--"Eat----your brother can mop up those little creeps without out help!”
            The three servicemen are observing the scene as the blonde headed one shakes his head and starts towards them.
            "Hey Charlie---what are you doing?”
            "Just trying to make the odds more even---you guys coming?”
            The teens are confronted by the young servicemen and soon a fight breaks out.  The limo driver hurries to the men's room, while half dragging his unconscious luggage.
                    Charlie is giving karate chops to the teens and his buddies are yelling at him to stop.
                   "Charlie, come on---let's get out of here---the store owner has called the cops---we'll end up in the stockades.”
            "I'm coming" he yells back and then he looks towards the limo driver---"Hey mister---you and your friend o.k.?”
            The driver half turns and nods his head---"Yeah kid---we're o.k.----thanks!”
            His two friends are dragging Charlie to their car, but the young man keeps looking back at the unconscious man leaning up against the driver. The driver's door to the limo is opened and the 'fancy man' yells out---"Hurry up and get through!”
                    Charlie looks to the limo and sees the man in the 'fancy suit' for only a second, his friends push him into their Mustang and they spin rubber---heading East also.
            They have finished the last of their beers as the one young man keeps looking at Charlie.
            "Hey Charlie---what's with you---you look like you've seen a ghost?”
                   Charlie shakes his head, "I just got the strangest feeling---that I've seen that man before!”
            "The limo driver?”
            "No, the guy he was helping to the men's room.”
            "You're imagining things---how could you know that guy-----you know people that ride in limos?”
            "He sure looked familiar----I just saw his face----for only a second, and the other guy inside the limo.”
            "Know what I think, Charlie---I think you've set off too many blasting caps!”
                    Charlie laughs, "Yeah---you're probably right about the blasting caps----but my hearing is just fine---and so is my vision!”
            The three young men become quiet as they ponder what is in store for them---IRAQ!”
            "This is our last weekend before they put us on standby---are you guys scared?”
            "We wouldn't be human if we weren't scared about going over there" replies the one called Blaine.
            "You got that right," agrees Charlie.
            "You know Charlie, you could get out of going if you wanted---you could say that you're the only child, which you are----and that you have to take care of your Mother!”
            "No----My Mother and I already discussed it---and actually---I'm looking forward to going. What good is all of that demolition training if I don't put it to good use?”
            "You sure love working with explosives, don't you Charlie?”
            "It's in my blood, I've worked around TNT all of my life---it helped to feed me and my Mama.”
            Blaine laughs---Yeah---right---using dynamite to blow fish out of the water---that's real sportsman like!”
                   Charlie's anger is rising, "It's the only  way me and my Mama could survive in the bayou---you take what is given you and you make it work for you. You've never known hard work Blaine, your old man is a senator. Why didn't he pull strings to keep you out of the service?”

Chapter 6

Blaine sneers, "I won't accept nothing from that s.o.b.--I'll do my tour of duty!”
               "Guess that's one thing we have in common, you don't like your Father and I never liked the man that was my Mother's boyfriend for so many years back in the bayou."
                    "Treated her bad, huh?”
            "Yeah, he wasn't so bad when his old man wasn't around---he taught me how to fish and how to use explosives. But, then he and his family got involved deeper in the drugs and soon they were using our place to cook their meth and sell it. That's when he would get mean and start hitting my Mom, I tried to stop him, but I was just a kid!”
            The young men reflect on their childhoods, as the limousine is coming up from behind.
            The 3rd young man is swearing, "Damn---stupid idiot---get off my tail!”
                   "What's wrong Eddie,?” Charlie is turning and looking out the back window.
            "Some idiot behind us, won't dim his high beams----what happened to that boyfriend of your Mom's, is he still around?”
                   Charlie pushes his military haircut back with his fingertips and grins, "No, he's in prison, doing life.”
            "And, he's the one that bought you the car?---And you don't like it?”
                "Blaine---that car was bought with drug money----he had it sent to my Mom while I was in basic training---guess he figured if he sweetened my Mama up, that she would go and visit him in jail---but she said "NO WAY!”
            "Hell, I'll take it, if you don't want it," replies Eddie.
            "I told my Mom to have it returned, she says she's going to sell it, so she can return some of the money to that man---------what the hell?”
            The limousine almost forces Charlie's friend off the road. The three young men start shaking their fists back at the driver.
            "That's gratitude for you, we tried to help the s.o.b. and he runs off the road-----STUPID IDIOTS---shove this up your ass!”
            "Slow down Eddie--we got to get sobered up before getting to the base----I don't feel like another run in with Sgt. Kelly!”
            "Yeah Eddie, Blaine is right---hey let's stop and get some coffee.”
            "Hey Charlie, what were you saying about your Mother was going to give the money from selling the Corvette to some man---what man and why?”
                    Charlie smiles, "Well, if it wasn't for a certain person, my Mom and I would probably still be in the bayou scraping out a living---but this man changed our lives and gave us a future.”
            Eddie laughs, "Another boyfriend of your Mom's?”
                   Charlie smiles as his memory goes back to the day in question, "No---I wish he could have been, he was a kind person---but he probably had someone back in Dallas, that's what my Mama said.”
            "So---what happened?”
            "This man was responsible for putting my Mom's boyfriend and his whole rotten family in prison---and then he did something that completely changed our lives and got us out of the bayou!”
            Both Blaine and Eddie look at their friend and both say in unison, "What did he do?”
                   Charlie takes a deep breath, "I'm sorry I can't tell you that part, because it was a 'little shady' and I think--against the law!----But, after he and his friends left--both my Mama and me both said we'd never forget him and forever be grateful.”
                    "Against the law?” Repeats Blaine---"Was he some kind of a  drug dealer?”
            "No----far from it---he was a Texas Ranger--Cordell Walker!!!”


                                          *******************************************************
          The driver of the limo is shaking his head at the man in the 'fancy suit'.
            "There was no call for jerking the steering wheel like that and almost running those kids off the road---they weren’t doing anything wrong!----Hell they were trying to keep those other kids off me back at that service station!”
            The fancy man continues to trim his nails--" I think they seen too much---they might have seen our friend.”
            The woman speaks up, "They didn't see anything---they were just trying to help Duane---and besides what if they had seen him---they'd never recognize him----and who would they recognize him to?”
                   "Imbeciles," the man says to himself----"Let me ask you two this----if those kids have seen our faces and they go to the authorities that we have a prisoner---they can nail our hides!”
            "And, what do you plan to do---kill them?” The woman asks.
            "We were told not to leave any witnesses.”
            "We are not killing anyone else---at least not tonight---we have to get to our destination within the hour.”
            The fancy man sneers, "Yes, and soon our work on our friend will begin. The man will never be able to look upon the faces of his family and friends --ever again.”
            "Hey boss,----" Duane asks slowly, "do you think this guy will remember you? He's pretty well drugged now, but sooner or later he has to come around---what if he does recognize you?”
            "It won't matter---there's nothing he will be able to do, and the transformation of Cordell Walker will begin. Personally, I hope he does remember me, I have a personal vendetta to settle with him and he will never forget the name of Brooking.”

                                            **************************************

           
It's the dawn of a new day at the Walker home, and the telephone is ringing.
               Joaquin is swearing and trying to get to the phone amidst twisted sheets.
              "Hello!” Joaquin barks into the mouthpiece.
            A voice hesitates, "Walker?”
                    Joaquin is trying to clear the cobwebs of rotgut, loud music, and the whores from his mind, he starts to stammer, "Uh Alex----is that you?”
            A soft voice answers, "Yes, this  is me, were you still asleep?"
            "Uh yeah, I was just waking up----what's wrong?”
                "Nothing is wrong, I'm just wondering why you were still asleep, Walker---it's almost 10:30!”
                   Joaquin groans and looks at the clock.
            "I guess I was just tired------after all I've been through lately----I think I deserved to sleep a little late, don't you?”
            "Yes sweetheart and I'm sorry I woke you, but you didn't call me back last night after you checked on Angela.”
            "She's fine----I just got busy with work here-----and all.”
            "Yes, I know she's fine---Josie just called me from the H.O.P.E. centre and------"
            "Alex, if you knew she was fine, then why did you call and wake me up?”
            Alex is stunned at her husband's rudeness, "Well, excuse me---I just thought you would  like to tell me yourself about our daughter's health?”
                 Joaquin sighs as he reaches for a cigarette, "I'm sorry I yelled at you----it must be this damn medication that the Doctor is giving me---it's making me very jittery.”
                   "Walker, sweetheart---what kind of medication are you taking?”
            "I don't know----the Doctor. said it was an anti depressant pill and-----something for my nerves!”
            "You're taking pills? I don't believe it! You've never liked taking any kind of pill, even plain aspirin!”
                 Joaquin feels himself getting angry, "Alex---don't go giving me the 3rd degree---I'm just doing what the Doctor. tells me to do!!”
            Alex has to bite her tongue, "I have a suggestion-----why don't you call me back when you are in a better mood and not snapping my head off?”
            The phone goes dead and Joaquin lets out a string of curse words and sends the phone flying across the room.
            "Damn bitch----she needs to be shown who  is  the boss in this family----and when I get her home---she'll find out real quick!”

                                         ************************************************

St. Mathews Hospital:

                  Flowers have arrived for Mrs Cordell Walker, beautiful red roses, with a simple card that reads, "I'm sorry"--Cordell.
            Alex is blown away at the beautiful sight and she is constantly smelling them. Ranger Syd Cook and some of the other rangers' wives have come to visit her.
            The wives soon leave and Syd is obviously wanting to talk to Alex about something.
            "Syd, haven't we been friends long enough that we can talk about 'almost anything?”
            The raven haired beauty tries to smile, "It's sort of personal----and I don't want to bore you----"
            "Oh please 'bore" me!” Alex is laughing, "I'm so tired of being in here, I need to hear everything that is going on----are you and Gage arguing again?”
            "Yeah, and this time I slapped him!”
            Alex sits up straight, "You slapped him, why?”
            Syd begins telling Alex about the events and what was said to Gage's being slapped. While the women are talking, a figure approaches the room and then stops quickly and listens.
            Alex stares back at Syd, "I can't believe that Gage would say something like that to you, that's absurd!!----Every man in the federal building has tried to put the make on you---to accuse you of not being feminine -----and not know how to be a woman----I can't believe he said that!”
            Syd is pacing, "Well----maybe he's right---maybe I have forgot the will to want to be sexy-----and luring----to wear sexy clothes, etc."
                    "There's no way I'm going to believe that---and you don't believe it either. You are attracted to Gage, aren't you?”
            Syd shakes her head, "I think so-------"
            Alex smiles, "That tennis player, what's his name---really did a number on you. Didn't he?”
            The figure is looking around him, then he moves closer, slipping behind the partition curtain. He listens closely.
            "His name was  Eduardo-----and yeah-----I can't remember being intimate with a guy so quickly as I was with Eduardo----he just knocked me off my feet and the next thing I know----we're in bed----the first date!!!”
            "Do you still have feelings for him?”
            "That's just it, Alex----I don't think I ever had 'feelings' for him----it was the chemistry of that night and all the next day----I felt guilty about being with him. I'm still confused about how I feel.”
            "Guilty about what, you were both consenting adults---you got nothing to feel guilty about? You were doing what two healthy, mature people do----having a sexual encounter!”
            "I guess I felt guilty----because it wasn't Gage that I was with. I want to be with Gage and then I don't because of our jobs working so close together----does any of this make sense?”
            Alex smiles as she  continues to smell the rose, "Oh---does it ever!!”
            "I keep trying to tell myself that I'm attracted to Gage only because of the closeness of our jobs and being there to watch each other's back. But, then I see him with someone else------and I get------so jealous!   Did you feel the same way when you saw Walker with someone else?”
            "Oh yes----and he said the same thing! But, yet we went for years just being friends----and being afraid to cross that line!”
            "That's the way I feel about Gage, but yet when we are alone---I feel like I have to constantly get the upper hand---and I'm afraid to feel 'vulnerable to him. Then I put up these 'stop' signs----am I crazy?”
            "It sounds like to me that you just haven't allowed yourself to feel something for Gage, but on the other hand---maybe it's not Gage that will light up the fire inside you.---Syd---if you feel you have to explain all of your feelings, and make sense of them all----then you just haven't met the right man yet!”
            "I've never been in love, Alex---how am I suppose to know what to feel?”
            "You'll know when that certain man comes into your life, you will feel it right down to your toes---and you won't be able to think of anyone else!”
            Syd exhales, "Well, I know that Gage is not sitting back and  twiddling his thumbs-----he's already seeing someone else!”
            Alex smiles, "Well, what do you plan to do about it?”
            "What do you mean?”
            "I think that you should give Gage another chance, and yourself too. Syd---go for it---see how you really feel about the man, then if it's not what either of you want, then you can move on with your lives. But, you need to know one way or the other just what your feelings are for this man.”
            Syd frowns, "I don't know Alex, he was pretty upset with me---he probably won't even talk to me.”
            "You'll never know until you've tried---right?”
            The figure has decided to make his entrance.
            "Hi.”
            Alex's face turns to a huge smile, "Hi honey.”
            "Hope I'm not interrupting anything, you ladies sounded like you were deep conversation.”
            Alex reaches for her husband's hand and pulls him closer to her hospital bed, "Cordell John Walker, were you eavesdropping?”
                 Joaquin forces a smile, "Yeah, just a little bit, to see if you were talking about me----were you?”
            Both Alex and Syd laugh and Syd starts backing up to the door, "I think I will get out of here and leave you two alone---thanks Alex---I will think very hard about what you said.”
            She's almost out the door when Joaquin calls out to her, "Hey----don't forget--we still need to work on those new moves---be in the gym--1'o'clock!!!
            Syd gives a mock of a salute, "Yes sir----I'll be there!”
                Joaquin turns back to Alex and then nods to the flowers, "Did you like the roses?”
            She pulls him down to her and they share a tender kiss, "Yes, sweetheart--I love them!”
                   Joaquin continues to hold her hand while staring into her blue eyes, "I'm sorry I yelled at you, forgive me?”
            "You're forgiven, but sweetheart I'm worried about these pills you're taking, did you bring them with you?”
            "No, was I suppose to?” He answers defensively.
            "No, do you remember the names of them?”
            "Not right off hand I don't, why do you want to know what I'm taking?”
                "Because I'm worried about the effects they are having on you, you are so wound up, and irritable---"
               Joaquin groans and starts pacing the room, "Ever since I've been back people keep asking me if I'm o.k.----everyone know that I was forced to take this medical leave because of those damn flashbacks from Nam---I'm doing what the Doctor says, I'm taking the damn pills and I still can't satisfy you----what do you want me to do, Alex?”
            "First of all, I want you to calm down---I will not be talked to in that tone of voice! I know that you are under a lot of pressure right now, but you do not have to keep taking my head off!”
            "O.k., o.k.----I'm sorry----again. I will look up the name of the damn pills and I will call you later and give you the names, will that satisfy you?”
            Alex is taking a deep sigh, "No----you don't have to do that---because I have some good news.”
                  "What?” He answers rudely.
            Alex is all smiles, "The Doctor has changed his mind, if all goes well---I can go home tomorrow.”
               Joaquin stares back at Alex, not saying anything.
            Alex is trying to smile, "Well, don't let yourself get too excited!!! Walker, I thought you would like the idea of me coming home sooner?”
            "Of course I'm excited Alex, ---you just caught me off guard, that's all" He smiles to himself at the thought of finally getting Cordell Walker's wife between the sheets.
            Alex hesitates, "There's just one small little detail that I haven't told you yet----"
                  "What's that?”
            "The Doctor. has ordered complete bed rest, I'm not to do anything-----and that means---no sex!”
                 Joaquin's face goes blank as he mutters softly, "No sex?”
            "I'm sorry honey, but that was one of the main conditions that he insisted on----he says we can't take the chance of the activity maybe causing the bullet to shift?”
                   Joaquin takes a deep breath as he mutters to himself, "Great, now I will have her home all the time, looking over my shoulder, asking more questions, not to mention she's throwing a monkey wrench into my social life!”
                  "Walker----honey----are you upset?”
            "Of course not, honey---I just want you home", he lies. "We can always make up for lost time, right?”
            She nods as she pulls him back to her, "Things will be back to normal soon and the three of us can be a family again.”
                  Joaquin reaches down to kiss her again and then he thinks about that idea, “Like I don’t have problems enough, now I will have a screaming kid to put up with!”

                                               **********************************************


              Joaquin is still steaming at the thought of his romantic liaison  with Alex diminishing. He makes his call to Grady.
                 "Where are you, the connection sounds weak?”
            "I'm in Baton Rouge, and I just spoke with Ferris. I told him about your demands to know what is going down.”
              Joaquin swallows hard, "Was he upset?”
            "No, just the opposite, he's glad that you are so interested and he says to tell you that things will start happening real soon.”
            "Yeah, that's one of the reasons I've called you, Walker's wife is going to be released from the hospital tomorrow.”
            "I know all about that---it was arranged that she be released early"
            "By who?”
            "That's not important because everything will start changing---and Cordell Walker's life will start unravelling---right before his eyes!”
               "Wanna clue me in on what is going to change?”
            "Let's just say that by Monday morning, Alex Walker is going to start seeing her 'husband' for just what he is---be prepared Joaquin----I'll give you more info later today. By the way, I hope you have the Walker home in shape for Mrs Walker's homecoming?”
            "What do you mean by "in shape?”
            Grady sighs, "Knowing you that house is a pig pen by now!-I'm sending someone over to help you get it in shape again. Also, you need to take the ranger's truck and get it steam cleaned, get the smell of those stinking cigarettes out of there, before you pick up 'your wife' from the hospital!”
                  Joaquin listens to further instructions and then he remembers that he has to meet ranger Syd in the gym.
            He smiles to himself, "Soooo-ranger Gage thinks that you are not feminine enough---I'll just have to work on that and make sure that's not the only thing that he's unsure of."

                                                 ******************************************

Eglin Air Force Base, Florida

The man is hearing voices, he struggles to hear them better, he falls back down on the hard mattress.
            The voices continue in hushed tones, he tries to raise himself up again. He's looking towards the closest voice, the voice is soft and feminine.
            His mind is racing as he tries to desperately see the voice better. The figures are about 30 feet away from him, he reaches his hand out, and the voices move further away.
            "No," he mumbles" come back.”
            The figures are now out of sight as the man again tries to pull himself up. He keeps shaking his head, his eyes are blurry, and he feels pain at the back of his head.
            He is now reaching out for something in which to hold onto, he feels a chair and pulls himself to it. The voices are coming back and he can hear the feminine voice again, he tries to reach out with one hand, he loses control over the chair and he goes crashing back into the floor.
                   "Doctors----he's coming to!”
            The voices are milling around him now, and he feels someone reaches for his arm and pushing the shirt sleeve back. He feels a sharp pain as he whispers, "Alex?”
            A woman's voice answers, "Just relax---you'll be o.k."
            His hand keeps reaching towards the voice, the woman takes his hand and places it down beside him on the mattress, the other voices move in closer.
            "Be careful what you say to him, nurse---he's not going to be here that long till they come back for him.”
                    Another voice asks, "Where are they taking him?”
            "I'm not sure, they said something about a military base--I think Ft Ructor.”
            The nurse continues to hold the man's hand, she studies his face and massages it with the back of her hand.
            "I wonder what this poor man has done?”
            "I don't think we want to know, because what ever Doctor. Brooking is involved in---sure can't be good.”
            The nurse bites her bottom lip and stands up, giving the man one last reassuring gesture with her hand. She sees the man's wedding band and smiles.
                  "Whatever he's done, he doesn't deserve to be treated this way, the man obviously has a wife and family that must be worried sick about him."
            "That's not for us to be concerned about, we have a job to do---now let's get him cleaned up and have him ready for travel when those three come back.”
            The nurse looks back at the man on the floor and shakes her head sadly, "Thank goodness this is my last assignment and I'll be out of this place for good.”
            One of the Doctors sighs, "You're lucky, where are you going next?”
            "It's not another assignment, I'm going home, back to New Orleans!”
            "You don't sound too overjoyed about it", the second voice answers.
            "I'm not", the nurse answers, "I'm going back to attend a funeral, actually 3 funerals.”
            "Holy cow, Leire, what happened?”
            "My Aunt, Uncle, and niece were fished out of the Crawfish Swamp, at least---what was left of them--what the alligators didn't eat. ---Anyways, that's why I have to go back one last time, and then I'm heading for the North country--Nova Scotia to be exact----far away from all of the doings in this damn place!”
            "We wish you luck, Leire---now--let's get Brooking’s latest experiment to the back table.”
            The three begin lifting the bearded man and taking him to a table, they lay him down gently and the nurse begins to undress him. As she is taking his pants, she feels something in his left pocket, she pulls it out and stares at it.
            The other two Doctors are busy getting the rest of their 'tools' together, Leire puts the shiny object into her pocket quickly. She waits until the others leave the room and then she pulls it out and stares at it, and then back to the man.
            "Oh my God, it's a badge---A TEXAS  Ranger’s  badge!”

                                                **************************************************
Walker ranch:

Grady has arrived at the ranch and gives the cleaning crew last instructions, he then turns to Joaquin.
             "Everything looks in tip top condition, the laundry has been done, the livestock fed, and I've even ordered some groceries to be delivered. Do you have the Ram cleaned up?”
            "I took it to a carwash to have it steam cleaned like you told me, inside and out---but they said they couldn't get to it till noon tomorrow. I have to pick the 'wife' up at 9 am!”
            Grady smiles, "So, we start the ball rolling just a few days earlier---you can follow through with your earlier suggestion!”
                 Joaquin is grinning from ear to ear, "Got you covered boss---I'm looking forward to this!”

                                 **************************************************

St. Mathews hospital:

            Alex is being 'wheeled' out to the patient loading and unloading zone, she looks over to her 'husband' and smiles.
                "Honey----where's the Ram?”
                 Joaquin smiles, "It's being cleaned.”
            "So-----how are we getting home?”
            "In that!!!
            Alex looks to where Joaquin is pointing and sees a  bright red sports car--- a Porsche!”
            Alex laughs, "Come on honey, get serious.”
            "I am serious" Joaquin replies.
            The nurse is looking from Alex to Joaquin with a puzzled look.
            "Uh---Mrs Walker, you're going to try and get into that----that sports car---it's going to very painful, bending down that low.”
                 Joaquin glares back at the nurse, "We'll manage nurse, you can go back inside now, your services are no longer needed!”
            He then starts wheeling Alex up to the car and opens the door, "Come on honey---I'll help you.”
                     "Walker, you can't be serious---you hate sports cars and especially convertibles. Remember how you always complained about my little Sebring being unsafe?”
                    Joaquin is gently helping Alex from the wheel chair and walking her towards the passenger door, "Well, I just wanted you to have something nice, so I bought you this--don't you like it?”
                   "Honey----I think it's beautiful---but it's just not practical----where will Angela ride?”
            "In the front seat, where else?”
            "There are air bags up here! And, this is only a two seater!  Walker--please tell me that you didn't really buy this! You got it from the motor pool, didn't you?”
                  Joaquin has finally got Alex into the front seat, the woman is grimacing from the pain.
          "N0---I didn't borrow it from no motor pool, I bought it----do you want to see the sales receipt?”

Chapter 7

            Alex just stares back at her husband and asks slowly, "Sales receipt? Walker,---honey---I hope you're not planning on keeping this thing?”
                 Joaquin sits down roughly and looks over to Alex, "Of course I'm keeping it!”  He throws it in first, burning rubber to get out of the hospital parking lot.
                "Walker----for heaven's sake---you're in a restricted zone---would you slow down please?”
                 
Joaquin is grinning as he heads the little sports car to the nearest ramp onto I-20, heading West.
                   "What's the matter honey, don't you like going fast?”
            Alex is reaching back to rub her back, " No---I don't---Walker, my back is killing me---please slow down!”
                   Joaquin slows down to 70, he looks over at 'his wife' and smiles, "I'm sorry honey, I was just trying to buy you something nice, don't you like it?”
            Alex is slowly counting to 10, "Walker, it's beautiful and fast---but it's not practical, we have a child to think about and you've always said that sports cars were unsafe! You were constantly telling me to trade my Sebring off for a safer car, long before we even got married!”
            He takes a deep sigh, "Well, I've changed my mind, and I wanted you to have this!”
            "I am not keeping this car----honey---it must have cost a fortune! Did you trade with Steve, I thought he was a Dodge dealer?”
            "Uh-- no---I didn't trade with anyone, I saw it on the parking lot as I was taking the Ram in to be washed----and I decided to drive it---then I told  the man I would take it!”
            Alex is shaking her head, "And, how do you plan on paying for this?”
                Joaquin is grinning inside, but he continues to act perturbed at Alex's ever ending questions.
            "I gave the man a check and I told him I would have the rest to him by Monday morning.”
            Alex's anger is showing, "I can't believe that you would buy something like this---without talking to me about it first!”
            "If I had told you about, it wouldn't have been a surprise---would it?”
            The blonde is keeping her voice low, "This is one surprise I could have done without!”
            The ride home is in complete silence as Joaquin is weaving in and out of the traffic.
            Very little is said as Joaquin helps Alex to get inside as she is still steaming.
                Joaquin is nervously looking around and back to Alex, "Come on honey---don't be upset! When you get around to driving it, you'll like it!”
            Alex is slowly moving to the kitchen and heads to her teapot for a nice cup of tea, she says nothing until she has had the first sip.
            "How much of a check---did you-----give---that man---on that thing!!!”
            Now Joaquin is showing his anger, "That thing is costing me $50,000!!!”
            Alex takes another sip of her tea, almost choking.
                  "WHAT, what did you say----$50,000?”
            "That's right---it's got a few miles on it!”
            "We are not keeping that---that---piece of junk----and you can take it back to that dealer---this afternoon!”
            "I've already given him a check---and furthermore--stop telling me what to do!----I contribute money to this household too, even though I am --on sick leave?”?
                  "Honey---would you please be reasonable, we can't afford anything like that. We have other things more important to consider---like your daughter's college fund?”
                   "College?----Hell---she's still just a baby---she won't be ready for college for another 18 years!”
            "And, where will the money come from if you start spending it on stupid things---like that sports car?---I don't want the car---take it back!”
                   Joaquin grabs his Stetson hat and starts stomping to the door, he turns around.
            "I'm not taking it back, and you will just have to deal with it!”
            "If you're not taking it back----then----where are you going?”
            "OUT!”
            "Out?-----Walker, I just got home from the hospital---are you going to get Angela from the day care?”
            "NO----going to the gym!”
            Alex can not believe her ears or eyes as she watches her husband go out the door. She starts to cry softly.
                 "Walker, what is happening to you?”

                                               
***********************************************

Baton Rouge State prison:

            Ferris Clayton has received disturbing news. He stares back at the Chaplin.
            "Both of my boys are dead?”
            "I'm afraid so, my son.”
            "First of all, I ain't your son----now what happened to my boys?”
            The guards look to the Chaplin and back to Clayton, the Lieutenant speaks up.
            "Your son Kyle was killed in his cell about 5am this morning---someone slit his throat..”
            The old man is studying the faces before him, "And?-----What about my baby boy, what about---Rufus?”
            The Chaplin speaks softly, "We got word that your son, Rufus was killed at almost the same time as Kyle when they moved him from the New Orleans Cancer care unit.”
            The old man smiles, "At least my boys won't have to spend another day in these stinky rat holes that you Christians call a civilized  confinement!”
            The Lieutenant glares back at Clayton, "Civilized?---- You don't deserve to be treated as a civilized person---if I had my way I would have ended your life a long time ago.”
            The Chaplin raises his hand, "Quiet---do not talk about such things in the presence of the Lord, the Lord will deal with this man when he reaches the pearly gates, and he will be welcomed into----------''''
            "Get out of here---both of you-----and take that damn bible with you----get out!"
            The guard walks back up to Clayton's cell, "Yeah---you got your day coming, and I'm going to be there when they put the needle into you---and you start squirming----remembering all of those people that you’re responsible for killing------------""
               Clayton grins, "I'm prepared to die, but there is something else that I'm looking forward to more than leaving this earth and that is: my last vendetta against a man that has been a thorn in my side for much too long.  I will live long enough to hear  about the pain that this man will endure for the rest of his life.”
            The guard  laughs, "You are one sick old man---well here's something you can also take to your grave---I got it from a reliable source---your sons died a very slow death.--You got enemies Clayton----and you just might not live to hear if your latest vendetta goes is carried out.. ---You better start sleeping with one eye open, old man!”
            Ferris Clayton spits at the guard, "Lieutenant Sam Jennings, right? I know all about those little interrogation parties that you and the female guards are having in the wee hours of the morning. I also know where that daughter of yours goes to school----she's about nine now----too young to start filling out like a woman----but she can still perform the duties----with her mouth!”
            The guard tries reaching through the bars for the old man, "You filthy bastard----don't you dare talk about my daughter that way.”
            "And, what do you plan to do about it---you can't watch her 24/7----and what about that wife of yours? I hear your brother has been spending quite a few nights at your home, while you're busy here---screwing the female guards---and who knows who else???”
            The guard backs up and the Chaplin walks over to Clayton's cell, "The Chaplin at the other prison has asked if there are any special services you would like to add to your sons' burial----any last words of comfort?”
                   Clayton smiles, "My boys lived good lives, they did what their daddy told them to do, and that didn't include believing in that bible--or it's teachings! So, you Father, or whatever you call yourself can go to hell---maybe you'll see my boys there---and I won't be far behind!”
                  Clayton takes one final look at the guard, "And you--you're the one that needs to sleep with one eye open---you're new here and you don't know the rules---but you'll learn---real quick!”
            It's now an hour later and Clayton is talking to Grady.
            "How are things at your end, Joaquin following orders?”
            "Oh yes, and he's tickled to death at what we have in store for the Walker family.--He's already got the ball rolling and Mrs. Walker is totally confused!”
            "She's not half as confused as she's going to be, she's going to see her "husband" becoming a total wreck, she will watch as their friends turn against them, and eventually she will leave him!”
            Grady is hesitant, "I don't know Ferris, the woman is strong willed and she loves her husband----the real one', I mean. From all of our reports on them and the years of secretly recording them, the woman is not going to be easy to fool, she's home from the hospital now---I think we're moving a little fast on her.”
                   Clayton ponders the facts, "Yeah-----maybe you're right---we've come too far for this to blow up on us now---tell Joaquin to start romancing 'his wife', we don't want her to start asking too many questions!”
            "She's a lawyer for Christ's sake, that's what they do---ask questions!”
            "I know that, you imbecile!----Just tell Joaquin to mellow for a few days---I've got to check on 'our friend' and make sure he's being taken care of, I'll get back to you. In the meantime, have you been taking care of that little matter of land rights?”
            "Yeah, my boys are taking care of it.  Most of the Walker land is clear from any lien holders, it's just the north section that is still mortgaged by the bank, about 500 acres!”
            "Then that's the land we will go after first---"
            Grady shakes his head, "This is going to take some doing, ranger Walker is going to have some powerful debts to pay. He's going to have to be really in debt to want to sell that land, and from what we've learned about his bank accounts, the man is practically a tightwad!"
            "You're forgetting that Joaquin loves to spend money and soon we will start releasing his spending sprees on the state of Texas, and soon 'ranger Cordell Walker' will be forced to sell. He won't have a penny to his name, he will be a disgrace to his wife and family, his friends will want no part of him and his little girl will grow up-despising him!”
            "And, this will satisfy you---to know that this is Walker's demise, so to speak?”
                  Clayton is snickering, "Oh yes I couldn't have planned it better, and the way I  planned for Walker to see Rufus kill that little girl right in front of his eyes---was the perfect plan!”
            Grady swallows hard, "I never understood how you planned all of that---and from a prison cell?”
            "When you got friends that owe you favours, there are no limitations as to what a man can do, no matter where he is! I simply just managed to have the Walkers in New Orleans at just the right time, and my baby boy carried out his Daddy's plan to the 'eye'.
            "I heard about their deaths, I'm sorry.”
                 "There's no need to be sorry, I don't believe in sympathy-----they simply had a job to do on this earth---and they did it!”
            Grady picks his words nervously, "But, they were your sons, blood kin!”
                "What's blood kin got to do with it, I have people out there that aren't kin---they would die for me too!”
            Grady can hear the anger rising in the old man's voice, "O.k.---so what is our next move?”
            "You just tell Joaquin to start showering 'his wife' with tender loving care, and for Christ's sake---you order him to start showing some affection to that little girl. I've been hearing the reports on how he's out almost every night and has shown little attention to that ‘his daughter’, what's her name?”
                     "Angela!” Grady answers softly, "What do you mean you've been hearing the reports on Joaquin, do you have someone else watching him----and me?”
            "Get this straight Grady---you are not indispensable--- and I can take both of you out at the drop of a hat! Of course I have others out there---watching----all of you!”
            "O.k., o.k.---I get the message and I will relay the next order to Joaquin---only thing is---he can't afford to be too nice to his 'wife' or the poor man will probably  seduce her, Doctor's orders or not!”
            Grady smiles, "He should be so lucky---I guess he will just have to learn to take a lot of cold showers!---I will get back to you, tomorrow.”

                                              **********************************************

Ranger headquarters---Gym:

                Ranger Sydney Cook has been exercising for almost an hour when she sees her boss, "Walker"  heading for the lockers.
            "Hey Walker, did you forget about yesterday evening and those new techniques you were going to show me?” She asks smiling.
                   Joaquin walks slowly up to the boxing ring and his eyes go up and down the woman's diminutive, but well proportioned body. His mind is going into overdrive as he visions the woman in his favorite sexual positions.
            He smiles, "Yeah, things came up, but I'm here now and as soon as I change--we'll get down to business!”
            Syd is bouncing up and down on her toes, taking fake jabs at the wind as her mind is racing towards the thoughts of later that night.
            She confronted Gage and asked him point blank if he thought they could really have a romantic relationship, he was hesitant about his answer, maybe for fear of getting a knee to his groin.
            She could still hear his words, "I don't know Syd, nothing is ever positive, we just have to---see where it's going to take us---and go from there.”
            Syd smiles to herself, "That's exactly what Alex told me earlier---she said to go for it----and that's just exactly what I plan to do---I will buy sexxxy, I will cook Gage's favorite meal.---Now, what is his favorite meal------FOOD---that's his favorite meal!!!”
           
Syd is nodding her head up and down as she thinks about the note that she left for Gage on his desk, telling him to come to her apartment at 9pm.
              "What's with the silly grin?” Asks Joaquin.
            Syd laughs embarrassed, "Sorry, I didn't know it showed.”
             Joaquin climbs into the ring, he still can't take his eyes off of Syd's body----"Well---let's get down to it----maybe some hard work and sweat will erase the silliness-----don't tell me---it's Gage!”
            Syd shakes her head in confusement at Walker's comment and she can't shake the way he keeps staring at her.
            "Well---like you've always said, Walker---never mix business with your personal life---but---yes---it is Gage---and we're trying to work some things out!”
                   Joaquin's brow arches, "After all of those things he said about you----and you're still attracted to him?”
            "What things?----What was Gage saying?”
                    Joaquin is now jabbing at the air, "You know what he was saying----that you weren’t feminine enough, that you couldn't be a real woman!”
            Syd's face is showing disappointment, "That was all a big misunderstanding------we're moving past that.---Now---what are those new techniques?”
            The two spar for almost an hour, and Joaquin is using every chance possible to keep Syd's body brushing up against him. He using every excuse to touch her and sometimes his hand brushes across her bosom on purpose. She keeps pulling away from him, she's becoming very confused at her boss' actions. Finally she walks to the other side of the ring and brushes her hair back.
            "I think---I've had enough for one session---I got to go out on a case.”
               Joaquin is slowly moving towards the raven beauty, she begins backing up.
            He smiles as he moves into her, smiling that devious grin, "What's the matter Syd----feeling a little warm?”
            "What--wha---what?”" She stammers.
            Their faces are just inches away from each other and Joaquin's smile fades, "Admit it Syd----you're feeling something---that's your hormones telling you that your body is lacking substance---that you are depriving yourself of something you are dying for.”
            Syd shoves Joaquin backwards, "Walker---what----what are you saying?"
                   Joaquin's eyes continue to rake Syd's body up and down, he reaches out and pulls her into him and kisses her hard. Syd again pushes him backwards, as she starts to exit the ring.
            "I don't know---what is going on here-----"
             Joaquin grins back at her, "You know damn well what is happening Syd, admit it----you've always had a crush on me-----haven't you?”
            Syd is practically stumbling through the ropes as she hits the floor and glares back, "No----I don't know what you're talking about.”
               Joaquin is leaning over the top rope and staring down at the very confused ranger, "There you go again Syd---Gage was right----you're denying your feelings---maybe he was right---you don't know how to be a 'real woman'. But---you got to admit---I've aroused some of those feelings, something that Gage has not been able to do. Maybe---you need a 'real man' to show you how to feel all of those burnings inside you!”
            Syd is speechless, she turns and runs to her locker room and she sees Joaquin climbing down from the ring and starting in her direction. She panics and heads for the side door, leaving the gym in her 'sweats'.
                 Joaquin watches as the female ranger runs into the elevator. He grins, "That should put some doubt into her attraction to Gage----don't think I could have planned it any better.”

                                            *********************************************

Walker ranch:

            Alex has slowly began to unpack her little bag, she has decided to stay in the guest room downstairs, making it easier on her from climbing stairs.
            She has a walking cane and she has to sit down frequently to ease the pain in her back. She reaches for her medical bag and takes two of the pills prescribed for the pain, she sits back down on the bed and reflects the events of earlier that morning.
                "Walker" she says slowly, "What is going on with you sweetheart, and what are those pills that you're taking---I've got to find out.”
            She looks up towards the stairs and the pain in her back increases, "I can't possibly climb those stairs to get to the medicine cabinet up there----if I just knew----what Doctor Walker is seeing. ---I can't think about that now----I got to call Josie and see if she will bring Angela home.”
            Alex makes her call and Josie will be bringing Angela home within the hour, the phone rings again.
            "Hello" Alex has to repeat herself again, "Hello?”
            Grady is on the other end, he starts to hang up and then he asks slowly, "Is Walker home?”
            Alex has to sit down as she clears her throat, "No-----he's not here at the moment---may I take a message?”
            "Uh----just tell him that I'll call back later---sorry to have bothered you.”
            No sooner than Alex hangs up the phone, it rings again and a very familiar voice is greeting her.
                "Heyyyyy pumpkin---how are you feeling? I called the hospital and they said you were released early, I'm on my way to see you."
            Alex tries to force a grin, "Hi Dad----yes--I got to come home early."
                  There's a hesitance at the other end of the line, "What's the matter pumpkin, you don't sound like yourself---is everything o.k.?”
            Alex is fighting to keep the tears back, "Everything is fine Dad---where are you?”
            "My plane just landed at DFW, and I'm getting a rental---I'll be at the ranch in about 45 minutes----if that damn traffic doesn't hold me back!”
            Alex takes a deep sigh, having her Dad come for a visit at this time does not feel like a good idea, but she knows her Dad will not take "NO" for an answer.
            She picks her words cautiously, "Uh-----I'll have the guest room ready for you---and Rita.”
            "That's o.k. pumpkin--I'm sailing solo, Rita and I parted waves---but I'll explain all of that when I see you---see you soon, love you!”
            She moves slowly back to the guest room and looks at the bags she has just unpacked, "Well----so much for not climbing those stairs------I'll just get Walker to take the bags up for me---if I'm still talking to him when he returns. I can't believe that he would just go off and leave me---here---just minutes after I get home from the hospital.---It's the pills---I know Walker would never react this way----I got to find out what those damn pills are that he's taking!”

                                                ***************************************

Eglin AFB, Florida:

            The bearded man has been bathed and a fresh hospital gown has been put on him. The two doctors and the nurse are finishing up their jobs to prepare the man for travel. One of the Doctors looks back at their patient.
              "Maybe we should shave that beard off?”
            "What difference will it make if he's clean shaven or not, he's not going to feel anything anyways!”
            The nurse reaches over and touches the patients' face, she looks back at her  friends.
            "I'll take care of him, give him a light trim and shape it up for him.”
            "Why bother Leire, aren't you suppose to be leaving?”
            "My plane doesn’t leave till 5 pm, I have time to take care of him---go on---find something else to do before that 'looney' Doctor. Brooking gets here and those two scum bags he travels with!”
            One of the Doctors lowers his voice, "Careful what you say Leire, you know there are spies all over this place, and you don't want to over turn the apple cart---until you're out of here and somewhere they can't find you!”
            The other Doctor makes a groaning noise, "There's nowheres that she go that she will be completely safe, there's no place that any of us can go---don't you know that by now?”
            Leire sighs, "I've done everything that I've been told to do, outside of deliberate murder---I will not be a part of that!”
            "Get real Leire, maybe you haven't pulled the trigger or delivered the fatal dose, but you'll still be just as guilty if the authorities find out what we've been doing.”
            Leire takes a deep breath as she touches the bearded man's cheek, "Would you two just leave---I've got work to do?”
            She waits until the two Doctors are out of ear range and then she leans over to whisper in the man's ear.
               "Mister-----can you hear me?”
            She makes more attempts but the man stays silent, she shakes her head and goes to the sink and begins drawing water and she reaches for a razor. She returns to the man and sits down beside him.
            "I'm sorry I don't have one of those trim-line razors that you're obviously used to using, but I'll go slow and try not to mess up your prize possession. And, I know that your beard is one of your finest attributes because you have obviously taken care with it the past----and you are a very handsome man---I must add"
            Leire continues to talk to the man as he trims his beard, she then runs her forefinger over his bottom lip.
            "You have sexy lips, my Daddy had the same shape of lips, the bottom, thick and wide. My Daddy was a good man---a very good man--and I know that you have to be the same kind of man.”
            She reaches into her pocket and takes the badge out, she leans in closer to the man.
            "I found your badge---you're a Texas Ranger---what have you done to piss off a man like BROOKING? There's only one connection that I can see, you're old enough to have served time in Viet Nam, Brooking was there too and I've seen what his experiments have done to other veterans that have returned.-----But---those poor souls were volunteers for his programs---somehow I'm not convinced that you're any 'volunteer'.----No----you were brought in here unconscious---and for some reason they act scared of you. Now, what can you possibly know or do that would scare a man like Brooking?”
            The woman continues to take care of the man, and deep within his subconscious mind, he hears her soft voice--- he strains to hear the voice clearer.
            He can't make out what she is saying or what she looks like, he just knows that her voice is soft and reassuring, he listens.
            Leire is now brushing the man's hair back, "My Daddy's hair was black, not like your rustic colour, you must have some Irish or Scot in you---but I also see a trace of maybe some French blood. So, what do you say Frenchie----do you have some French blood in you? I call you "Frenchie" because that was my Daddy's nickname---but then on the other hand you look like you could have some native Indian in you---so which is it?”
            She takes his left hand and caresses the wedding band, turning it slowly.
            "You have a wife somewhere, I wonder if she knows that you are missing? I went through your old clothes, looking for pictures, but didn't find any. But, that's no surprise I'm sure Brookings’s cohorts had already frisked you. Still, I wonder why that big gorilla, Duane, didn't take your ring, it's got to be worth something.---You have a scar on your knuckle, looks like someone did try to take a knife or maybe wait---it looks more like a jagged cut----like a saw blade of some kind?”
            He feels her hand caressing his ring finger and his mind is racing with blurry sounds, the sounds are becoming grinding and his hand jerks back quickly.
            The woman is trying to hold his hand down as the man tosses and turns, "Take it easy Frenchie---I'm here---I'm not going to hurt you----you had a reaction to something I said about your ring----what? What did I say?”
            The man is having visions of someone leaning over him with frightened eyes, he feels something sticky between his fingers, his hand continues to flail about.
            "It's o.k. mister----I won't touch your ring anymore---how's that----" she lays his hand down beside him, "is that better now?”
                                          

Chapter 8           

            The man is calming as the woman returns to the sink to empty the basin of water. The man's thoughts are again racing and he feels a pain in his hand, he grabs it and falls to the ground. The same face with the frightened eyes are staring back at him, the words are being mouthed, he's straining to hear what the face is saying.
            The voice is fading but he can make out some of the words---"Are-----you----o.k.--------ambulance-----coming-----"
            The man is staring at his hand, there is blood all over him and the hand he is holding. Soon, there are other voices surrounding him and a voice asks.
            "What----happened---to him?”
            The next thing he remembers is someone trying to take his wedding ring off and several voices are talking to him, including the face with frightened eyes.  He then sees himself holding his hand up and seeing a bandage, the man in white attire is looking back at him.
            "You----are----lucky-----the blade only nicked across two of you fingers---you'll be----o.k..”
            The frightened face is moving towards him and leaning down to him, kissing his lips softly.
            Leire's lips are slowly touching the man's and his eyes jerk open--"Alex?”
            The nurse stands up quickly, looking around her, feeling embarrassed.
            The man is trying to adjust his vision as he sees someone standing there looking back at him with a stunned face.
               "Mister-------are you awake----can you hear me?”
            The man's eyes begin to nod shut as he whispers the name again, "Alex?----Alex?”
            Leire swallows hard as she tries to gain her composure, she exhales.
            "Wow-----that was some kiss--- for him and for me!!!””
            The man can see her now, a blonde headed woman with piercing blue eyes looking back at him and smiling. Their faces are within inches as she mumbles through tears.
            "I was so scared----the Doctor says you will be fine----but I'm also furious at you----for not using the shield guard on that damn router!----Honey---you could have lost your fingers!"
            He keeps looking at his bandaged hand, and then caresses his ring, he smiles. "I still got it on----I was fighting them----all the way----wasn't I?”
            "Yes----you're so stubborn----they had to stitch up the finger the best they could because you wouldn't let them remove it, the blade went over the top of the two fingers. Now your finger will probably be so swollen, you'll never be able to take the ring off!”
            He remembers staring into those same blue eyes just several months before when they became man and wife.
            "The vows said: That with this ring I pledge my undying love----and as long as I have a breath in me, and you will have me---this ring will never come off!”
            The man falls back into unconsciousness, with a smile of content across his face.
            Leire stares at the man for the longest and then stares down at the man's ring.
            "His wife's name is Alex---I wonder----if a last name is engraved on the inside of that ring.? There's no way he's going to let me or anyone else touch that ring to find out."
            The woman sighs as she looks up at the clock---3pm, she swears, "Damn---I got to get ready for my flight. I'm sure not looking forward to this---but, I feel I have to attend the funerals as one last act on my families' behalf. I would much rather stay here and try to help this poor man, but I know I have to leave----and I'll never be coming back to these parts.”
            She gathers her belongings and then she touches the man's cheek with the back of her hand.
            "I wish I knew who you are so I could alert your family as to where you are----but there's nothing more that I can do----I'll never forget you even though I know I must---for my own good and safety---goodbye 'Frenchie'-----may God bless you.”
            The woman exits the small room and heads for the elevators, unaware that she is being watched.

                                            **************************************************

               Joaquin is on his way back to the Walker ranch, Grady has  notified him of the change in plans, the man is not happy.
            "You mean I got to start paying attention to that brat---I told you---I don't like kids!”
            "You have no choice in the matter, Ferris has ordered you to start paying more attention to the kid and start behaving like a real Father---and also, lighten up on your 'wife'---start sweet talking her a little---and on Monday morning---return that damn car!”
                   Joaquin is cursing under his breath as he remembers his earlier encounter with Syd. He knew she was feeling something, he had her completely rattled. He had ideas of going to her apartment and paying her a 'surprise visit', he's still snickering as Grady is yelling at him.
            "Oh yes, there's one other thing----your Father-in-law is at the ranch!”
                   "What?” Joaquin almost loses control of the little sports car---"Father-in-law?  When did this come about?”
            Grady is grinning, "Apparently he's come to see his daughter, after all she was hurt and in the hospital, remember?”
            Grady hangs up and Joaquin can still hear him laughing.
                   Joaquin is cursing under his breath, "Damn it, what else is going to go wrong?----Prison life was never like this---all I had to worry about in there was having a knife shoved into me---now I got a 'Father in -law' to deal with along with a nosy wife and snot nose kid---"
            He swerves to keep from hitting an old couple in the fast lane---"Get out of the way" he yells at them, "go home and take your Geritol!!!”


                                ************************************************

Walker Ranch:
                Joaquin has again apologised to Alex for his rudeness and tells her he will return the car on Monday.
               "Walker-----I'm just so worried about you---would you please tell me what pills you're taking?”
                Gordon Cahill is sitting quietly at the long dinner table, holding his granddaughter, he studies his son-in-law's face.
                   Joaquin sighs, "It doesn't matter anymore---I threw the pills away!”
            "Why did you do that, maybe---you were taking the wrong dosage? What does your Doctor say?”
            "I told  the Doctor how the pills were affecting me, and he agreed that I should stop taking them" Joaquin lies.
            Alex is constantly rubbing her backside, "What was the name of the pills, honey?”
                    Joaquin is starting to feel anger at all the questions, he looks quickly to Gordon and then to his 'daughter', he rises up from his chair and goes to retrieve Angela. He kisses the side of her head and sits back down, trying hard to convincingly show affection towards her.
            "It doesn't matter anymore Alex---just forget about the pills, o.k.?”
            Alex takes a deep breath, "I just wish that you would see another Doctor. and get a second opinion on what kind of meds to take----there are a lot of medications out there for depression and ---"
                Joaquin puts his hand up in a 'stop' gesture, "Alex---please---no more talk about the pills, I threw them away because I knew how--my reaction to them was upsetting to you----and causing me to lose my temper and yelling--at you!---Can we please---just forget the pills and get on with our lives?”
            At the mention of his son-in-law yelling at his daughter, Gordon Cahill shoots Walker an angry look.
                   "What's this---you've been losing your temper with Alexandra?”
            "Dad, please----Walker has been under a lot of pressure since having to testify down at that witness protection trial against Ferris Clayton----everything is fine----right sweetheart?”
                Joaquin squirms in his seat as he keeps staring at Gordon, "Yeah---everything is fine.”
                Gordon tilts his head back and keeps staring at Joaquin, he looks at him curiously.
            "I know what it feels like to be under pressure----and believe me--I've made my share of mistakes, but losing your temper doesn't solve anything.”
            "Dad-----"
            "It's o.k. Alex, let your Dad talk---after all he's such an expert on the subject---he did his share of hitting your Mother, didn't he?”
                "Walker!”
            Now Gordon's temper is rising as he tries to remember his blood pressure, "You keep Kathleen's name out of this----"
            "You were the one that started 'butting' in----you stay out of mine and Alex's business!”
            Angela is becoming fussy as the voices are starting to rise, she begins to cry.
                 Gordon's anger is increasing, "Alexandra is my business---and I will not stand by and not do anything----"
            Alex is reaching out for her daughter--" Daddy please--Walker----both of you---stop it---you're upsetting Angela!”
                Joaquin is boiling, but he manages to hold his temper as he remembers Grady's last instruction to keep Alex calm.
            "I'm sorry" he looks to Gordon, "I didn't mean to bring that up, I'm still on edge.”
                    Gordon is huffing----"Well----there are some things that are better left un-discussed----"
            "Dad, please---Walker has apologised.”
               Gordon nods his head and then he manages a smile, he reaches over and slaps Joaquin on the shoulder, "I'm sorry too---jet lag getting to me, not to mention this damn arthritis in my knees---"
            Alex smiles, "And the break-up with Rita?”
                Gordon laughs as he nudges his son-in-law----"Yeah, that too!---Women---can't live without them! Don't care what anyone says-----there's nothing like a good blow------"
            " Daddy!”
            "Sorry pumpkin----forgive me----sometimes my old 'salty dog day vocabulary' just creeps up on me and I don't realize what I'm saying---you know how it feels, huh son?”
                Joaquin groans under his breath, as he keeps thinking about his 'action' being very confined now. He looks to Gordon and grins.
            "Yeah, I know exactly what you mean-----Dad?”
            Alex looks to her husband and then smiles, "Well---that's the first time you've ever called my Dad-'Dad.”
                  Joaquin hesitates as he looks to Gordon for his reaction.
            "Well, you know?” Gordon replies, "I sort of like the idea---yep----I like it a lot!”
            Alex smiles as she leans over to her dad and kisses him and then kisses Joaquin, "And, nothing makes me happier than seeing my two favorite men in my life getting along so well.”
             Gordon is all smiles as he reaches out to Angela, "Come on little 'pumpkin'---let's go and have some quality time between you and grandpa-----and let Mommy and Daddy have some quality time too.”
            Alex watches as her dad and Angela head upstairs, she turns to her 'husband'---"Thank you honey, you've made my day---and my Dad's, he's always wanted you to call him 'Dad', but he didn't know how to approach you about it.”
                   Joaquin clears his throat, as he reaches out for Alex's hand.
            "It's o.k.----and I'm again sorry for all of the mean things I've said to you----why don't we go out to eat and let your Dad baby sit?”
            Alex pouts her bottom lip, "I would love to go out on a romantic evening with you---but honey---my back is killing me and the Doctor said---complete bed rest---I should be in bed now!”
            "Oh yeah, I'm sorry----do you want me to help you up the stairs?”
            "Yes---please?”
               Joaquin rises from his chair and helps Alex out of her's, he stops and looks at her and then he smiles, "Better yet----why don't I just carry you?”
            He scoops her up gently amid Alex's little giggles, and they start up the stairs.

                                             *************************************************

            Leire is headed for the airport, she can't get the bearded man out of her thoughts.
            "Damn it, there is something I can do to help that poor man--I can notify the Texas Rangers headquarters in Austin and give them a description of him and that his wife's name is Alex---even if he's not a ranger----this will at least draw some attention in his direction?--------What the heck am I talking about----I can't do that-----if Brooking ever found out----I would wake up dead.”
            The woman continues to argue with herself, she does not see the two men following her.

                                      *************************************************

Dallas: Syd's apartment

               Ranger Sydney Cook is still in a state of confusement as she keeps remembering the conversation with her 'boss' and his advances towards her.
            She's pacing the floor, rubbing her arms, and throwing her long raven hair back, she's talking to herself out loud.
            "I can't believe what just happened---not Walker----he didn't really mean what he said---I was just confusing the facts-----he didn't come onto me----not Walker! In all of the years that I've known that man, I've never seen him flirt with another woman--- and least of all say those things---- that he said to me.”
            She continues to pace as she pours a small glass of wine, sips it and then pours it out. She's angry now.
            "What gives him the right to talk to me like that? Boss or no boss---he does not have the right---I could charge him with sexual harassment----no----I got to have witnesses for that. He was simply showing me some moves in the martial arts and sometimes physical contact can't be avoided---but----there was no mistaking that he intentionally ---kissed me----that was not accidental and now I that I think about it more---neither were those needs to 'touch me'----my God---he was feeling me up!”
            Syd is getting angrier, "Oh my God----and what did he mean by my having a crush on him----I've never thought of Walker in that way----I've always looked up to him, and admired him----and maybe in the beginning I thought---he---was---attractive----but Alex has always been in the picture---he's always been crazy about her---I would never step over that line---Alex is my best friend!”
            The doorbell is ringing repeatedly, suddenly Syd is drawn out of her one-sided conversation.
            She gasps, "Gage----oh no---I forgot about the dinner---oh no---I got to shake my mind of all of this----should I tell him about what happened---oh God---what do I do?”
            She walks to the door slowly and opens it, flowers are all she sees, and then a tall figure steps forward.
            "Is it safe to come in---who were you talking to?”
            "Yes----Gage----come in---I was listening to the TV----come in.”
            Gage looks around the room, and gently sniffs the air for the aroma of food.
            "Am I too early, you said about seven---right?”
            Syd looks at the clock and then back to the tall ranger, "It's not even six yet.”
            "Well----I stopped off and got some wine, hope it goes with tonight's meal----by the way---what are we having?”
            Syd takes a deep breath, "I had planned to make you chicken spaghetti with-----clam sauce----but I forgot to pick the chicken up at the market-----would you be terribly upset if we just go out to eat?”
            Gage can feel an disappointing evening coming up, he was hoping to see Syd in something sexy and with romantic. Music playing in the background, soft candles, and a home cooked meal. He's starting to feel---deflated.
            "Yeah sure" he clears his throat, where would you like to go?”
            Syd shakes her head, "Anywhere---it doesn't matter-" and she's reaching for a shawl to go over her two piece suit. Gage looks at her funny.
            "Uh, Syd----that shawl doesn't exactly go with that suit.”
            Syd is nervously taking the shawl off and looking for a place to put it.
            "Syd----are you o.k.?”
            "I'm fine----are we going to eat or not?” She answers quickly.
            Gage frowns as he rubs the back of his neck, "Sure---I'm looking forward to spending the evening in a restaurant of complete strangers.”
            The two walk slowly out the door, Syd is walking in front of him.
            The tall ranger pulls her back gently, "Could we at least 'pretend' to be together?”
             "What's that suppose to mean?” She snaps.
            Gage shakes his head, "Nothing! If you want to walk 10 feet ahead of me ---then fine---it doesn't matter to me!----I'm in the mood for steak---a big one.!”
            Syd's brow goes up, " Steak?----I thought we were going Italian?”
            "Then we will go to Golden Corral, you can order your Italian----I'm having a big, juicy, T-bone----with all the trimmings!”
            The woman sighs, "Whatever" and she keeps on walking.

                                            *****************************************

               Joaquin has pulled back the comforter and fluffed Alex's pillow as she changes into a nightgown. He looks quickly across the hallway to the nursery and sees Gordon feeding Angela and making baby sounds back at her. He closes the bedroom door and looks towards the bathroom.
            "Alex---everything o.k.?”
            "Yes honey, it's just a little difficult getting my gown on, would you come help me please?”
                    Joaquin is grinning as he hurries to the bath, his mouth falls open as he sees Alex standing before the picture length mirror in nothing but her panties. He has to swallow hard as his eyes rake over her backside, and her milky smooth skin. Her blonde hair is slightly wet as she keeps pushing it out of her eyes. She looks over her shoulder and sees 'her husband' just standing there----and staring.
            She smiles, "Honestly Walker---you would think that you had never seen me naked before---but, I got to admit, I like that look.”
                   Joaquin is having to clear his voice, "It's just that-----you get more beautiful----each time---I see you.”
            Alex emits a small giggle, "Here honey, help me get my gown on.”
                   Joaquin is nervously helping Alex get the gown on, he lets his hands glide slowly across her bosom, while staring into her eyes.
            Alex lowers her eyes and smiles up at him, "Honey----please don't be upset----but I've got to lie down---my back is giving me fits----and we both have to remember what the Doctor said----nothing sexual.”
               Joaquin steps back slowly and looks at her----"Yeah---how could I forget.?-----Just how long is this suppose to go on?”
            Alex is walking gingerly towards her side of the bed, she crawls in and looks back at her husband teasingly.
            "We may not be able to be sexually active----but it doesn't stop us from holding each other---does it?”
                Joaquin  sighs softly, "Yeah----that will---be----great" he looks quickly to Alex and then to the bathroom----"guess I'd better get used to taking a lot of cold  showers---right?”
            Alex frowns, "Patience, honey---remember you're not the only that is having to do without, I'm being deprived too!”
                 Joaquin closes the bathroom door and begins undressing, he stares at himself in the mirror, "I got news for you 'wifey--I ain't doing without-----if you can't perform, there's always others out there that can----and will.----  Hm, I wonder how ranger Syd's romantic evening with that  ''jughead'' went?”

                                            ***********************************************

Syd's apartment:

            The couple have returned from their dinner, a dinner in which Syd ate very little as she kept playing with her food.
            Gage has poured them a glass of wine, hopeful of salvaging what is left of their so called 'next step' in their relationship. He sits down beside her on the couch and watches her.
            "Is the wine o.k.?”
            Syd sips it and then rises from the couch and starts pacing, Gage frowns.
            "O.k. Syd---out with it---what have I done wrong now?”
            "You haven't done anything wrong" she answers softly.
            "Then what is it? You've been acting distant---'again'---all night! You hardly touched your food, you wouldn't talk---so just come out and tell me what it is that I've done.”
            Syd waves her hand, "It's nothing!”
            Gage slams the wine glass down on the table and stands up, "That's it!---I'm not going to sit here all night and try to make feeble conversation with you---I thought we were going to try and go forward with our relationship----well I got news for you Syd---this is not very promising!!!”
            Gage is heading for the door and Syd shouts it out, "He tried to come onto me!”
            The ranger stops and walks back to the raven beauty who is now crying, "WHO?---Who, pray-tell, would try to come onto you against your wishes, knowing you could mop up the floor with them? What psycho would try to make advances to you, knowing your skills in the martial arts?”
            Syd swallows hard, "Walker" she whispers.
            Gage stares back at her, he pretends to clean out his ear, "I'm sorry, what did you say?”
            Syd downs the rest of the wine and then pours another glass, "Walker-----there I said it!” She downs another glass.
            Gage just stands there, "Walker?---Walker--came onto you?”
            "How many times do I have to say it---YES---WALKER CAME ONTO ME!”
            Gage can only stare back at Syd in disbelief as she tells him what happened in the gym, the woman is crying and drinking another glass of wine. He takes the bottle of wine from her and forces her to sit down.
               "Whoa, whoa----easy---now just calm down Syd-----are you sure?---I mean you said you were going through some new moves----and we all know that sometimes ----a person gets---touched----accidentally----"
            "He kissed me" Syd replies softly.
            "He kissed you, where?”
            "In the gym---"
            "I mean---did he---kiss---you on the lips?”
            "YES" she jumps up from the couch and starts pacing again," and he did it intentionally!”
            Gage still can't believe what he's hearing, "Was it just ----a little ---kiss?”
            Syd turns to her friend and throws the rest of her wine into his face, "Are you not listening?---I told you---he came onto me---he was feeling me up---he kissed me! And contraire to what you make think, I know the difference between a accident and something intentional!!! I'm a woman, Francis Gage---I know when I'm being pawed!!!”
            Gage says nothing as he just stands there and looks at his friend/partner.
            "I don't understand Syd---Walker?----Of all people?  Why would he come onto you when he's married to someone as beautiful as Alex---------"
            Now the lady ranger is fuming, as she starts towards Gage with the wine bottle, "Someone like me?---Who the hell do you think you're talking to?”
            The tall ranger is moving backwards, his hands up in defense, 'Wait-----Syd----I didn't mean that the way it sounded---you're just as beautiful and sexy as Alex---Syd---I didn't mean it----it came out the wrong way!”
           
Syd is now crying harder as she points to the door, "I think you better leave.”
            "Come on Syd----calm down, I'm just trying to figure out all of this and try to get some kind of explanation as to what went down ---what led up to all of this?”
            Syd is still pacing as she talks through sobs, "I don't know---we were going to go through the new techniques that he wanted me to learn, and then he"---- Syd's face turns to anger as she glares back at Gage, ---"and then we were talking about those little gender remarks that you were making about me!!!”
                "Gender remarks?” Gage swallows---"What do you mean?”
              "Walker said that you had made the comment to him and others that I didn't know how to act like a woman, that I didn't have the ability to be a real woman----and-----that maybe---you weren't man enough to make those feelings surface, that I needed a real man----him!”
            Now Gage is getting angry, " Not man enough, who the hell does he think he is?”
           
The two stand for the longest, just staring at each other and neither of them knowing quite what to say, finally Gage clears his throat.
            "O.k. let's get this all out in the open----who started talking about what, and why would you bring our personal conversations into it?”
            Syd folds her arms and glares at Gage, "Our 'personal conversations' didn't  stop you from telling whoever would listen that---I wasn't putting out for you!”
            "I never said anything like that!”
                "Maybe not in so many words, but the message was being relayed, I heard it from others!”
            "That's because of all of these 'mixed signals' I've been getting from you, you're hot and then you're cold--hot--cold---what's the matter Syd---were you giving others including Walker---mixed signals too?”
            "Why you low down, egotistical,---how dare you insinuate that I was flirting with Walker?”
                Gage's face is tight as he mumbles, "I didn't say you were flirting with him Syd, but you know as well as I do that you've always had a 'thing' for our boss--you've always been attracted to him!”
                 "Where did you get that ridiculous idea?”
            Gage nods his head, "From you-----one night when we were on patrol, you fell asleep and you----were talking about him in your sleep.”
            Syd is shaking her head, "That's absurd, I did no such thing!”
            Gage turns and walks to the door, "It's true Syd---I sat there and listened as you mentioned his name ---over and over.”
            "No---that didn't happen----you're just saying that---I do not have a thing for Walker---he's married for Christ’s' sake and has a little girl--- I would never go after another woman's man, and least of all if he was married--GAGE?”
            "Face it Syd, Walker is only human and you're a beautiful and gorgeous woman with a body to die for---if you were giving Walker the wrong signals---no man in his right mind would pass that up---no matter how happy he says he is in his marriage, not even Walker!”
            Gage walks slowly out the door and Syd is left with a very confused and sad look, the tears begin to fall.

 

Chapter 9


Walker ranch:

 

                 Joaquin has spent a very unusual night, sleeping next to a beautiful blonde and not being able to touch her. Never in his life has he ever experienced such a feeling of---defeat. Several times in the night when Alex would roll over and rest her arms gently across his midsection, his arousal would have him going to the bathroom, urinating and taking---more showers! He was never so glad to see the morning sun.
            He rose quickly and headed downstairs, only to see his 'father-in-law' up and making cooing noises at Angela. He pauses at the bottom of the stairs, looks back up, and then slowly walks towards the kitchen. He forces a smile and half heartedly makes a kissy sound to his daughter.
                "Morning son, got some fresh coffee made for you."
            He mumbles a thank you and goes to retrieve it.
               Gordon is feeding Angela her bottle, he motions for Joaquin to hold her, the man starts to hesitate and then thinks better of it. He looks down at 'his daughter' and forces a smile, "Good morning Angela, how is Daddy's girl?”
                  Scarce conversation is being made as Gordon rattles on about his boat. Joaquin has other thoughts racing through his head, like what excuse will he make to get away from the ranch and what kind of 'action' will he scrounge up for the night?
            "So, what do you think Walker, do you think you and Angela and Alex can join me at that time?”
                   "What?”  Joaquin is brought out of his daydream, "What time, what are you talking about?”
                    "Damn----you were really out of it, I asked if you and the girls could fly down to Houston in a couple of weeks and let's get the boat christened---I was thinking of the Keys, what do you say?”
                   Joaquin takes a long sip of his coffee and again Angela is not wanting to be held by 'her Father', she starts to whine, giving Joaquin the excuse to hand her back to her grandpa.
            "I don't know, Gordon----let's just wait and see.”
               Gordon smiles down on his beautiful granddaughter, "O.k. son, whenever. I know I've said it before but I think Angela is starting to favor her grandmother Kathleen more as she gets older, what do you think? Some Cahill resemblance coming through, huh?”
                 Joaquin's mind is racing as he tries to remember the reports on Gordon's side of the family, he nods his head, "Yeah----but-----don't forget, she has the Walker bloodline too.”
            "I know that! But, she's got Alexandra's half too, and my 'pumpkin' looks a lot like her Mother, and so it's only natural that Angela would favor the Cahill side.”
                   "Whatever you say----look, I think I will go downtown and maybe hang out around the office for awhile, talk with some old buddies----will you tell Alex where I've gone?”

                                    ********************************************************

Eglin AFB

            The man has had a restful night, his dreams were filled with visions of a blonde headed woman, her eyes were blue like the sky, and she smelled of lilacs.
            He begins to toss and turn as the two Doctors approach him.
            "How much dosage did you give him?”
            "The usual amount, Brooking said he wanted him alert enough to travel, yet easy to restrain.”
            "Good enough---I'll be glad when he's out of here----Brooking is pushing the buttons to keep him and the others here.”
            "The others have given no resistance, they're more heavily sedated than this one, I wonder why he's so special?”
            "Who cares, I just want him out of here and off our hands---give him another dosage and let's go grab some breakfast!”
            The needle is injected and the man begins to toss and turn,  then the woman comes to him again, smiling. He hears voices talking to him:
            "It's o.k. honey---everything is fine---we're all here and no one is going to hurt you.”
            "You got that right----we've been through tougher times than this---now you get your hinney together and you---pull through this---you hear me?”
            "Come on buddy---I need my best man and Godfather to my boy----we need you.”
            "The winds speak, my son---they are talking to you as the water and the sister sun will guide you.”
            A small baby's cries are heard over the distant sound of thunder, the man is smiling and trying to raise his hand.
               "Angela?---Daddy's here----my angel----don't be afraid..”

                                       **********************************************
New Orleans Airport:

            Leire 's plane has landed and she has an uneasy feeling about someone following her. She has seen the two men observing her, as she begins walking to the baggage area. She clutches a small envelope in her purse, she keeps touching it to make sure it's secure.
            She wrote down the information that she had decided to report, she was going to e-mail the info, and then thought better of it, deciding to send it by snail mail instead.
            "I don't know what to do, if I mail this to the ranger headquarters in Austin, will they get it in time to save that poor man? What if he's not a ranger, but why would he be carrying A Texas Ranger's badge, if he weren't? The man could be involved in Clayton's work as well, but why is Brooking holding him captive in that old hangar? I've got to put it in the mail and then whatever happens will just happen and my conscience will be clear---that's what I will do---and----"
           
"Aunt Leire-----is that you?”
            Leire turns to see a young soldier staring back at her, the young man removes his green beret and smiles back at her.
                    "Charlie?-----Charlie Marteen is it really you?”
            The two embrace and questions are asked.
            "My buddies and I were on our way back to base when the highway patrol stopped my friends' car and said that I had an emergency back home! That's where I'm going---my Mama's in the hospital---her appendix burst, they're having to do emergency surgery."
            "Oh no---I hope Marie will be o.k., what time does your flight depart, do we have time for a cup of coffee?"
            "I leave in about 30 minutes---what are you doing here, the last we heard you were stationed somewhere in Florida?”
            "Yes, they move me around a lot---you know how the secret service is?” She lies.
            "Yeah, right-----I've never believed all those stories about you doing secret stuff for the government, unless the government has changed it's name to Ferris Clayton!”
            Leire looks around her quickly and sees the two men walking towards them, "Charlie, I need to ask you something----and would you please be honest with me?”
            "You're the only side of Kyle Clayton's family that Mama and I ever half trusted, you always treated us right---what do you want to know?”
            She pulls him gently over into a secluded area, "I need to know what went down that day in the bayou when Kyle and his family were arrested---and that drug bust-----and the money?”
            "What money?”
            "Don't play coy with me, Charlie, I haven't the time---I know that the drug money disappeared, but at the trial--one of Kyle's buddies said that the money was taken out of that building---that it didn't burn up like the law officers reported-----did one of those officers give you and Marie the drug money?”
                     Charlie is getting nervous, neither he nor his Mother had to testify at the trial, and the money was never found.
            "I can't talk about it, Aunt Leire----some people could get into trouble-----"
            Leire is looking around for the two men, they are at the baggage area looking for her.
            Leire takes a deep breath, "I'm not trying to cause you or any of those law officers any trouble, I just need to ask you if you could still trust any of them?”
            "Trust them? Aunt Leire, what kind of trouble are you in now?”
            "Just answer me, Charlie---this one officer that helped you, can you trust him?”
            "Aunt Leire, that's been over 7 years, I haven't seen or kept in touch with the man---because of everything that went down."
            "I always suspected that the law officer gave you and Marie the drug money and that was how the two you were able to leave the bayou---right?”
            "I'm not saying anything more, if any of this came out, my mama and I could get into a lot of trouble.”
            "Then, it is true---you and Marie were given the drug money and that's how the two of you were able to leave---Charlie---I'm not going to tell anyone---but I need someone I can trust. I have information on some things that are going on at a local air base----and lives are in danger!”
            "Then report it to the military police, they----"
            "No, Charlie---I can't take the chance---I don't know who all is involved and how deep they are with Clayton!"
                     Charlie stares back at her, "Ferris Clayton is in involved in this too---on a military base?---How do you know all of this----unless---you're involved too?”
            "I've had to do my part of under-handed things because of Kyle and his family----and I'm not proud of it!-----You remember Charlie Marteen that you and Marie knew about those meth labs, and the killings-----you're not completely innocent in all of this.---But I'm not blaming you, you had to survive the bayou anyway you could, and no one was more proud that I, when you and your Mama left that awful place.”
            "Yeah, I know---"Charlie answers slowly, "you helped us to find a home and get us settled---I'll always be grateful for that.”
            "Then---help me Charlie---get me in touch with the law officer that helped you---I always thought it was suspicious that the man refused to testify unless his name be kept anonymous, they wouldn't even say what organization he was with, was he FBI?”
                Charlie hesitates, "No-----are you sure he won't get any repercussions from all of this, I don't want to cause him any trouble---mama and I owe him our---lives?”
            Leire sees the two men, they have spotted them and moving in their direction, Leire takes the envelope out of her purse and shoves into Charlie's hand.
            "Take this----and give it to your friend---there's a man at Eglin that needs his help desperately----and there are others there that are being held against their will----I got to go Charlie---please be careful and trust no one----I love you.”
            Leire begins running to the exit and Charlie looks up to see the two men running after her, he shoves the envelope into his duffel bag and heads in the opposite direction.

                                            ****************************************

Men's gym - ranger headquarters:

               Joaquin has been sparing with several buddies, he looks up to see ranger Gage walking slowly towards the ring. The ranger's face is expressionless as he stares back at Joaquin.
                 Joaquin grins, "Soooo----the jughead has found out about mine and Syd's little conversation?”
                   Gage's anger is rising, he points his finger at Joaquin, "Walker!----I want to have a talk with you.”
            The other men look to Gage and then back to 'Walker'. Joaquin  stares back at him.
            "Sure, what's up?” He asks .
            Gage is pacing, "I think you know--what's up! I want to talk to you---now----and alone!”
            The other men begin dispersing and now it's just the two rangers, facing each other.
            "O.k. Gage---it's your call, does this have anything to do with Syd?”
            Gage is swearing under his breath, he keeps pacing, "You know damn well this has to do with Syd, where in the hell do you get off telling her what I said-----and I want to tell you---to keep your damn hands to yourself!”!
                    Joaquin is smiling on the inside, but he knows he can't show his enjoyment, "Gage---just calm down---and let's talk about this. What did Syd tell you?”
            Gage bites his bottom lip, his eyes are boring into his boss.  He relays the conversation of the night before at Syd's apartment.
            "Oh that-----is that what's got your shorts riding up your asshole?----For Christ's sake, Gage---I did it for you---I was only trying to show Syd that other men can find her attractive too---after all of those cruel things you said to her."
            "Other men?---Syd does not need any help in that department---what gave you the right to put your nose where it doesn't belong----and your hands?”
                 Joaquin is fighting the temptation to reach over the top rope and take Gage into a hammer lock.
            "That was an accident,"
               "Accident? Did you kiss her by accident too?”
            "It's like you've been saying Gage---Syd has been sending these signals----and unlike you---I decided to teach her a lesson.”
            "That's it!"  Gage is taking off his gun belt and boots, he's climbing into the ring as Joaquin moves back slowly, and grins. "You and I are going to have this out----not you or anyone else is going to treat Syd in this manner!”
            "Bring it on jughead" Joaquin replies softly.
            Gage is pacing the ring, he puts up his hands.
               "Wanna put some gloves on first?”
            "Nope---this is going to be---bare knuckles!”
               Joaquin laughs, "My kind of fighting---I like to feel the flesh hitting my knuckles, it's a rush.” He takes his boxing gloves off and throws them to the mat.
            The fight is on and the fists are flying, and the longer they fight, the angrier Joaquin is getting and he's not taking any mercy on Gage. A couple of the other rangers have been watching from the hallway, they can't believe the scene before them.
            "What the hell has happened between them two?”
            "A woman, who else?”
            "What woman?”
                  "Ranger Syd Cook, who else would Gage be fighting over?”
            "But---with Walker?---The man is happily married?”
              "Famous last words.”
            They continue to watch the brawl.
            The fight has gone on for a good 20 minutes and Gage is weakening as Joaquin pounds him with all of his moves, his anger showing through from his countless brawls in lock up. He is pulling no punches and Gage continues to fight him. Joaquin goes up in the air and comes down on Gage's backside with the full impact of his leg.
            The breath is knocked out of the tall ranger as he attempts to rise, Joaquin comes down hard in the middle of Gage's shoulder with his foot and grinds his foot into him.
            "Had enough, big man?” Joaquin taunts him.
            Gage is breathing hard, "Never----
             "Walker!
             Joaquin stops and sees Trivette running to the ring, "What the hell you two doing man? What you trying to do, kill each other?”
                  Joaquin steps back and looks at the black ranger, whispering to himself, "I would sure like to get you in this ring too, jungle bunny!”
                 Joaquin laughs as he reaches a hand down to help Gage up off the floor, "We were just sparing, Trivette---wanna join us?”
            Gage slaps the hand away from him, as he gets up and lunges into Joaquin again and hits him with a right hook. Trivette and some of the rangers are climbing into the ring and separating the two.
              Trivette is staring at his friends, "What the hell is this all about?---Gage---aren't you suppose to be on patrol?”
            Gage is wiping the blood from his lip, "Yeah----
            "Then I would suggest---you get to it, before I put you on report.”
            Gage walks unsteadily towards the ropes, he turns and shakes his fist at Joaquin.
            "This isn't over Walker----"
                Trivette walks towards Gage and then turns to Joaquin and back to Gage---"I said for you to get on patrol----and this is over and done with----you got that? All of you---back to work----now!”
            Finally Gage is out of the ring and Trivette is staring at Joaquin.
            "What happened between you two?”
            "It was nothing----just a little misunderstanding and Gage took it the wrong way!----Forget it---how was your trip---to Baton Rouge?”
                 Trivette's concentration is broken, he takes a deep sigh, "I guess it was o.k.---sure wish you could have been with me, partner.”
            The two exit and head to the showers, Trivette waits outside as Joaquin showers. He keeps thinking of the fight between Walker and Gage.
            "What could have possibly gone that wrong between those two? Walker thinks the world of Gage----and Gage thinks that Walker hung the moon---so what happened?”
               Joaquin has taken his shower and Trivette is trying to make small talk, he then asks Joaquin if he and Alex want to come over for supper.
            "No--can't --Alex's Dad is visiting-----"
                "Gordon?----Bring him along, Erica and I would love for him to join us too--you know we think the world of Alex's dad."
                 Joaquin rolls his eyes, 'There is no way I'm spending the evening at this jungle bunnies' home---not tonight---I'm getting some action!”
            "Uh----I don't think so, not tonight, besides Alex has to have complete bed rest, have you forgotten?”
            "Oh yeah, I forgot---and I don't suppose that she would be up for company either---huh?”
                      Joaquin groans, then smiles faintly---"Some other time--o.k.?”
            The two part the gym and Trivette heads back to the office, Joaquin takes the back stairs and heads out to his little sports car. He points the car west, towards a truck stop that is know for "sex on a shingle" or in plainer English, the beds of 18 wheelers and their sex starved drivers.-Of both genders!

                                                  *********************************************

Walker ranch:

            Alex is playing with Angela on their bed. She hears her dad call out to her.
            "Hey pumpkin, can I come in?”
            "Of course you can, your granddaughter wants to say goodnight before she takes her evening nap, don't you sweetheart?”
               Gordon reaches down and brings Angela up to him for a kiss, "Goodnight my little pumpkin.”
            Alex lowers her voice as Angela is nodding off, "Has Walker come back yet?”
              "Haven't seen him, one of the ranchers called earlier and wanted to talk to him about some of the oats.---Something about the oats from the feed store was making some of the livestock sick and wanted to know if Walker was having the same problems?”
            "Hm-I hadn't heard Walker say anything about it---I know last year he was furious with that feed store because "Amigo" had gotten some oats that were bad, and it caused him to have a bad tummy ache! If there was anything wrong with the oats, Walker would have said something---believe me!”
                 "Hmmm, speaking of Walker's horses, the one he calls Old Ranger---well he's acting a little strange.”
             "Strange, how?”
            "I was out at the barn earlier and was giving him fresh water, I tried to pet him, he nipped at me!”
            Alex laughs, "Oh Daddy---he just does that when he thinks Walker is ignoring him. Amigo and Cookie do it also, apparently they haven't been ridden and this is their way of wanting attention, Walker will remedy that when he gets back..”
                    Gordon sits down at the side of the bed and caresses his granddaughter's cheek as she sleeps.
            "She's so beautiful, Alexandra----I remember when you were born, Angela is a carbon copy of you---and she does favor the Cahill side more and more, I don't care what that husband of yours says!”
            "What are you two arguing about now?” Teases Alex.
            "Oh nothing, just a difference of opinion----Alexandra, about last night----when the conversation was about 'hitting'-----has Walker-------"
            "Hit me?"
            "Well, pumpkin---I know you said that he's been acting temperamental----and then what he mentioned my hitting-----your Mother----what am I suppose to think?”
            "Dad, Walker has never made any attempt to hit me---Walker is not like that-----It was those damn pills that was causing him to behave the way he was.  Walker has always hated taking any kind of pill----and he probably took too many----, but you can see the difference in him since he threw them away!”
              Gordon shakes his head, "Pumpkin, I know that you put that man on the highest pedestal imaginable---and don't get me wrong, I think Walker is a fine young man, I've always liked him because he tells it like it is and he doesn't take any crap from anyone-----"
            Alex laughs, "Like you , Dad?----I've always said that you and Walker are like two peas in a pod, you both got that same stubbornness about you-----and I guess that's one of the things that drew me to him and made me fall passionately in love with him----because he reminds me of you-----when-----we---were younger-----and happier----"
            "You mean before I started hitting the bottle and----chasing everything in a skirt---is that what you're referring to?”
            Alex reaches her left hand over and strokes her Father's cheek, "Daddy----please don't go there---we're past that----we're getting along just fine now---and I got you back in my life.  And, Angela has a grandfather, that she can be proud of.”
            "All I'm trying to say here is, that sometimes a man can have a breaking point, and we can't help but strike out at the ones we love.”
            "I know that Dad, remember I went through an abusive marriage with my first husband!---You don't have to worry that Walker would ever hit me, intentionally or on purpose----because I promised myself that I would never accept that kind of relationship ever again---with any man!---Dad, Walker is not like that, he's got a temper, but never has he ever been abusive towards me!”
                   Gordon takes his daughter's hand and kisses it, "If you say it----then I believe it. I just remember how it was between you and me when things started changing and your mother and I had the fights----and how hard it was to get you to trust me again. Alexandra---I will never go down that road again----I want to be the perfect Dad to you and the perfect grandpa to my 'little pumpkin.”
            "I'm so proud of you Dad, but I'm a little worried about your state of mind!”
            "State of mind, what are you talking about?”
            Alex is pushing her bottom lip out and pouting, "Did you really name your boat--"PUMPKIN?”
               
Gordon is all smiles, "Yes, I did!!!! And, you should hear some of the remarks I get, especially from the coast guard.”
            The two continue laughing and reminiscing.

                                              ********************************************

            Young Charlie Marteen is on his way to Alabama to see his mother who is in the hospital. A young lady sitting next to him has gotten his attention and he has for the moment forgotten about the note that Leire put in his duffel bag.
                    Charlie and the young lady have talked for almost an hour and then she says she has to get some sleep.
                    Charlie remembers the note and asks the flight attendant if it would be alright to get his duffel bag down from the compartment overhead.
                 "Actually, I think I can get what I want out of there without bringing the whole bag down--will that be alright?”
            "Of course, just be careful and not hit anyone if you have to bring it down.”
                Charlie has to reach over the passenger in the seat ahead of him and turn the bag around, the man is getting impatient.
               Charlie apologises, "There---I got it---thank you miss---and I'm sorry sir if I disturbed you!”
            The man glares back at Charlie's uniform, "It's o.k. son, where you heading?”
            "I'm visiting my Mom in the hospital and then I join the rest of my unit in FT Bragg.”
            The man's face goes sad, as he says softly---"Iraq?”
            "Yes sir---we ship out in 8 days!
            The man stands up in the aisle of the plane, favoring one of his legs, he takes Charlie's hand and shakes it.
            "You come back safely---you hear me?----Don't be coming back in one of those----damn----body bags", the man starts to sob and then he sits down. Charlie takes his seat and the man turns around to him.
            "I didn't mean to get all worked up---but I lost my son about 2 years ago-----and it still hurts-----so bad---forgive me?”
                 Charlie's voice breaks, "I'm sorry for your loss, sir---what was his name?”
               "Jacob---his name was Jacob----he was going to go into the ministry after he did his duty to Uncle Sam----he was a good boy.”
               Charlie again offers his sympathy to the man, he sits back in his seat and suddenly feels so alone---and for the first time----scared. He remembers the note and starts to read it
            It's addressed to: Texas Rangers, Austin Texas. Urgent!!!
            "What the heck" whispers Charlie, "why would she be trying to get in touch with them?”
               Charlie continues to read:
               Urgent! Patients are being kept in the old hangers outside of Eglin AFB. Immediate response or these patients will be killed.  One of the men being held prisoner may be a Texas Ranger, a badge was in his pocket. The man is about 5ft 10', strong build, reddish hair, hazel eyes. The man wears a beard, wears a wedding ring, his wife's name could be Alex.      
                                                                     
Chapter
10

               Charlie can't believe what he is reading, he shakes his head.
            "No way, it couldn't be him---no way.”
            The young lady seated to him looks up at him through sleepy eyes, then lays her head back down on the skimpy little pillow.
             Charlie rereads the note, still shaking his head and talking out loud.
                "There's no way it could be Walker, but the description that Leire wrote down fits him to a "T.” Who would be holding him prisoner in a hangar on a military base? Ferris Clayton, who else? He's got to be mixed up in this somehow--what do I do?"
            "Do you always carry  on conversations with yourself?” The young lady asks.
                 Charlie starts signalling for the flight attendant, he turns to the young lady.
            "I'm sorry I disturbed your sleep, but I just read this note that a friend passed on to me, and it's----Miss----what time does this flight land?”
            "We'll be landing in about 45 minutes, is there a problem?”
            "No ma'am---I mean yes----but there's nothing I can do till we land---thank you.”
            The man in front of Charlie turns around, "Are you o.k. son?”
            "I'm not sure, I can't say anymore about anything----I'm sorry."
               Charlie sits back in his seat, he reads the note again---"If it is Walker, I've got to notify the authorities, I've got to try and help him.”

                                       *************************************************
Outside Moran, Texas on highway 8:

               Joaquin is sitting in his little Porsche, smoking a cigarette, and observing the action going down at the local truck stop. The semis pull into the truck stop and connections are being made and soon the trucks are receiving visitors, from both sexes.
            He's paying particular interest to a couple of lady truckers. They have emerged from their rig several times and one goes into the cafe and soon exits with a 'john'. The other rigs are showing signs of doing their own business as several men emerge, redressing themselves. He decides to wait till it gets a little darker and then he approaches the lady truckers' rig.
            One of the women have noticed him and walks towards the little sports car, gliding her hands over the hood.
            "Oh, nice body-----and yours is not so bad either, cowboy.”
              Joaquin lets his eyes roam up and down the woman's body, he reaches out and grabs her bosom, grasping hard. The woman yelps.
            "Hey---take it easy baby----you want to play---you pay----first!”
                 Joaquin smirks, "I was just trying to make sure that they were for real, I like the real thing----and lots of it.”
            The woman is a redhead, or at least 'out of the bottle' redhead -in her early 20's, but already showing the strain of being 'overused'.
            "Well baby, how about it? Wanna come to my playhouse?”
            "Yeah----I wanna play---but I want both you and your friend----I'll make it worth your while.”
            The woman giggles, "You got it baby---we love threesomes---but right now we got to take care of the locals----so they won't be coming down on us. We'll be ready for you in about 45 minutes----o.k., baby?”
            "Make it half an hour---I don't like to be kept waiting!”
            The woman giggles and walks off, making sure her hips are doing their thing.
                Joaquin sighs and sits down further in his seat, "Taking care of the locals huh?--- Walker, you're a damn fool if you haven't taken advantage of what that damn badge can do for you. Your badge is an open invitation to all of the smorgasbord to  all the ladies of the night that you could possible ever desire. Unfortunately, I can't show your damn badge, I have to try and disguise myself from looking like you---quirks of the game!”
                 Joaquin parks the Porsche in a grove of trees and then moves slowly towards the rig, the redhead greets him and they move to the bed in the rear.
                Joaquin is wasting no time as he begins shedding his clothes and pulling the woman down on the bed with him, groping her breasts.
                "Where's your friend?” He gasps, "I said I wanted both of you!”   
              "Patience, baby-----she went to get us something to eat---we need substance for the body---now let's see the green stuff first----then we play.”
                  Joaquin pulls out a wad of money and throws it in the woman's face, "Is this enough for you---slut?”
            The woman is counting the bills as a voice calls out.
            "A Dolly-----is that dude here yet?”
            "Yeah, he's here----and he's built so good, I get first choice--I'm going upstairs.”
            The second lady trucker walks back to the closed curtain and throws it back, she does a double take.
            "Oh my God--- we're busted!”
            "What ya talking about Rosie, come on and join the party."
            Rosie is screaming at Dolly, "You imbecile-----he's a cop!”
              Joaquin is jumping up from the bed and grabbing Rosie, putting his hand across her mouth----"Quiet----I'm not here to bust you-----I just want a little action!”
            Rosie jerks away from Joaquin, "Since when?---I've known you for several years Walker----you've always treated us decent----but you never came onto any of us!”
            "You know this guy, Rosie? Is he really a cop?”
            "Yeah, he's a Texas Ranger.”
               Joaquin puts his hands up in defense, "Look girls----I just want to have a little fun-----and I've got the money to pay both of you very well.”
                "Something's not right, I've known several ladies that have told you in no uncertain words what they wanted to do with your body----myself included----you never gave us a tumble! So, why now---are you setting us up?”
            "I swear---it's all on the 'uppity up---my old lady has gone cold turkey on me---I'm feeling the neglect---real bad.”
            Dolly is smiling and looking at Joaquin's solid chest, "Hey Rosie----he sounds sincere-----and I don't know about you but that body of his is getting me all hot and bothered!----If he was going to bust us, then he would have done it as soon as I took the money, right?”
            Rosie turns and goes to the cab of the truck and peers out, "I don't see any squad cars trying to sneak up on us----maybe I got you all wrong, ranger, maybe you do like some on the side!”
               Joaquin takes his shirt the rest of the way off and starts unbuckling his belt, reaching for his boots, "Make up your minds ladies, if you don't want it-----there are others out there that do.---Come on, let's get the party started.”
            Rosie smiles, "How much money did he give you, Dolly?”
            "Close to $500---what do you say, do we party?”
            Rosie strips and walks up closer to Joaquin and begins rubbing his chest, "I'll tell you what, Dolly, you can keep my share because I'll do him for free----I've been dying to see what ranger Cordell Walker could do between the sheets, and I'm dying to see some tongue action.”
            "No way, Rosie---I said I was going upstairs first, you can take the downstairs-----and we'll meet in the middle.”
              Joaquin sighs as he lays back on the bed, "Don't fight ladies, there's plenty to go around-----and I like it slow.” Joaquin continues to smile, he whispers to himself, " So, this Walker is admired by many of the ladies of the night, and many find him---or me—irresistible---well I can’t disappoint them---can I?”
            It's now a couple of hours later as Joaquin is starting to dress, he sighs and looks to the two women that are both laying on their stomachs.
            "It's been nice girls, and both of you were more than satisfying" he reaches over and slaps the naked ass of the one called Rosie, "and even more so after you stopped breathing.”
            He laughs as he wipes the blade of his knife, and then shoves it back down into the sheath inside his right boot.
            "But, I couldn't afford to leave any witnesses behind since one of you ladies recognized Walker, could I?” He takes the bills and shoves them down in his pocket, not noticing the small drops of blood that have spattered there.
            He covers their bodies with the bloodied sheet and then exits the rig, tossing a cigarette into the gas tank, and running to the mass of trees for his departure.

                                  ******************************************

               Charlie's plane has landed and he's running through the terminal  to the nearest phone.
            He dials the operator, "Operator , I need to make a call to a Cordell Walker in Texas---no, I don't know the phone number-----I think he lives in Dallas, no---wait I just remembered---he lives in a small town----uh Springtown---that's it!”
            "I'm sorry sir, but the only Walker we have listed in Springtown has an unlisted number---and he's asked that the number not be given out.”
            "But, operator---this is important---I need to talk to him!”
            "I'm sorry----I can't help you---is there another number I can help you with? It says here that he's a Texas Ranger, would you like to be forwarded to the ranger headquarters in Dallas?”
            "Yes----yes----put me through, please!”
            The phone rings on Walker's desk and both Syd and Gage just stare at each other and then the phone.
            "I guess one of us should answer it, huh?” Asks Gage
            "Be my guest!” snarls Syd.
            "Yeah---ranger headquarters!”
             Charlie hesitates, he doesn't recognize the voice, he shakes his head, "It's been 7 years, how would I know his voice now?”
               Gage's voice is getting harsh and impatient, "Hello----anyone there?”
            "Uh, could I speak to ranger Cordell Walker, please?”
            "He's not here, he's ---on vacation---can I take a message?”
            The voice hesitates, "Could you tell me when was the last time you saw him?”
            Gage frowns as he remembers the encounter in the gym, "I saw him this morning---why? ---Who is this?”
                    Suddenly Charlie remembers Leire telling him not to trust anyone----"Never mind----thank you!”
                   Charlie takes a deep breath, "Whew!!!---It's not Walker that Leire was taking about that was being held captive in the hangar----but the description sure fit him. But, that guy on the phone said he just saw Walker---that morning---so it can't be him. But, who is the guy that is being held and who are those other patients that Leire mentioned?”
            Syd sees the puzzled look on Gage's face, "Who was that?”
            "Beats me, sounded like someone very young----wanted to know when was the last time I saw Walker---he seemed relieved when I said this morning.”
            Syd takes a deep breath, "I've made a decision!”
            "What kind of decision?”
            "I'm putting in for a transfer to another  company----I'm seeing Cmdr Briscoe---in the morning.”
            Gage takes a deep breath, "Can't say as I blame you---because the way Walker was behaving, I don't see this stopping anytime soon!”
            "Gage, I'm angry and I'm confused----this just doesn't sound like -our Walker!”
            "You got to remember that he's having those flashbacks and he's under a psychiatrist's care, I've heard stories on these guys that came back from the wars---they act completely different when they have those kind of flashbacks!”
            "I don’t excuse the actions, Gage----he came onto me---that's sexual harassment!”
            "I know Syd, and I wish I could have just pounded him into the mat---- I can't explain it---I've never see Walker fight like that. He has always taught us to fight with the mind, but the look that was in his eyes----I've never seen before---he beat me silly!”
            Syd's eyes become soft, "Thank you for believing in me---you don't know what that means to me.”
            Gage looks around the office as a couple of the other rangers are staring at them and smiling, he replies quietly, "I never meant to say those words to you, Syd---I'm sorry for what I said!”
            "It's o.k., I guess we'd better get on patrol before Trivette starts yelling at us again, man---he sure is grouchy since he doesn't have Walker riding around with him!”
            "For what it's worth Syd---if you leave this company---I'm leaving too---I don't think I can work under Walker any longer----not under these circumstances..”

                                                    *****************************************

Outside Eglin AFB:

            "How's our patient doing?” Asks the first doctor.
            "It's strange but---I think he's getting stronger----he seems to be fighting the normal dosage, should we double it?”
            "We can't do anything until Brooking gives us further instructions, they should be here within the hour.
            The man is listening to the voices, the words are not too clear, he tries to raise his hand, they pay him no mind.
            "We got to get this place cleaned up before Brooking gets here---put some music on---get our minds off everything that is going on.”
            "Not much of a selection on these cd's that Leire left behind----mostly that 'long haired stuff'---opera music, etc, etc."
            "Play it anyways, it's like morgue in here----too damn quiet!”
            The man can hear the music playing and his mind is racing back as he hears the woman laughing:
            "Come on honey----admit it---you liked the opera, didn't you?”
            "I'll say I did, so you will stop pestering me---why was it so  long--- and loud?”
            They are riding in a automobile and she is stroking the side of his cheek, he can feel her soft hand against his beard, he smiles back at her.
            "Yeah, I guess I liked it---as long as I don't have to sit through another one anytime soon---but I did think a couple of the songs were pretty, especially that one at the end. Maybe that's why I liked it---cause it was the end of my torture!” He teases.
            She laughs and moves closer to him in the seat, "Thank you honey for a wonderful birthday present---even though it was 3 months late!”
            "I apologised for that----remember we were stuck in Utah at the time of your birthday, looking for the Swan Song
            The man groans as the mention of Swan Song goes through his mind again, suddenly he can see a little boy running and chasing the big birds. He's laughing and he can see another woman looking down at him with tenderness. Her long flowing red hair being pulled back by a green scarf that brings out the green in her eyes. He then hears the cries of the big birds and the cries of a new born in the distance. Another song is playing, and it's hauntingly beautiful melody of the piano keys cause him to close his eyes tighter----and listen.
            He can see the blonde headed woman smiling back at him as he is holding something small in his arms, he feels the blanket move and a whimper beckons him.
            "See honey, I told you that babies hear music in the womb, and now she relating to that music and she's only hours old. She likes the sounds she is hearing---it soothes her.”
                "Yeah", he replies softly, reaching down and kissing the cheek of the small pink frame, "that song is very pretty----what's the name of it?”
            Her gentle voice replies, "Its called 'The Swan'---by Richard Clayderman"
            The song continues to play as he sees a young woman ice skating to the music, she is wearing white feathers. The song lulls him back to sleep.

                                                      **************************************

                Charlie has arrived at the hospital in Montgomery, Alabama to see his Mother.  He has spent the last hour with her and they have finally moved her back to her private room. The phone is ringing.
                    Charlie shakes his head as he smiles back at his Mother, "Wow---you're so popular, the nurse said that your phone has been ringing off the hook!----Must be a boyfriend, huh mama?”
            Marie smiles as she answers the phone, "No----it's for you Charlie----some woman!”
            As soon as Charlie says hello, the woman's voice is screaming at him.
            "Aunt Leire----slow down---I can't make out what you're saying.”
            Leire's voice begins to calm, "I was just so afraid that you didn't get out of the airport in time, are you o.k. Charlie---did you read the note, did you notify your friend?”
            "Slow down Aunt Leire, one question at a time---yes I'm fine and I tried to notify my friend, but someone in his office said he was gone on vacation.”
            "Did you tell this friend about the note I gave you?”
            "No, you said not to trust anyone.”
               "Good---that's good----because now I'm thinking maybe it wasn't such a good idea that I told you, I don't want you mixed up in this.”
            "Well, it's too late for that----what about those two men that were following you, who are they?”
            "Don't worry about them, I gave them the slip when I went into the ladies room----actually I think someone spooked them, they hightailed it out of there real quick---how's Marie---is she o.k.?”
               "Mama's fine, do you want to talk to her-----"
            "No, Charlie I don't have time----there's nothing more that I can do to help that man and the others-----except go back to the base------and maybe try to get him out of there.”
            "Don't do that Aunt Leire, it sounds too dangerous!”
            "I have no choice, Charlie---the man---I can't understand it, but I feel I must help him----he's such a kind man------"
            "Aunt Leire, do you know anything about this man, the description of him-----well---it sounded a lot---like my friend---the one that helped Mama and me.”
            "Your law officer friend?”
                      Charlie again hesitates about revealing information, he clears his voice---"Yeah----you got to promise  me that what I'm telling you won't go any further----but my friend was a Texas Ranger----and he"
            "A Texas Ranger? Charlie, this man had the badge in his pants pocket."
            "But, it can't be Walker---that man said that Walker was on vacation----but wait---he also said that he had just seen him that morning---nothing is making any sense.”
             "Charlie, please listen to me---you have got to find out from that description that I gave you----who this man is. Call that man back and try to find out some more-----Charlie, I got to go----bye!”
            "Aunt Leire, Aunt Leire----hello---Aunt Leire----are you there?”
               "Charlie, what is going on, was that Leire Augustine?”
            "Yeah, Mama---she's in some kind of trouble!”
            Marie motions for Charlie to lower his voice, "That woman is always getting into things she can't handle-----and, why were you mentioning Walker?”
              Charlie relays the story to his Mother, she shakes her head.
            "On a military base, patients being held against their wishes? Charlie----what has Leire got you mixed up in? And, what does Walker have to do with any of this? We promised each other that we would never talk about what happened in the black bayou!”
            "I know that mama, and I've kept my promise through the years, but if this one man is a fellow ranger, then I think as a favor to Walker, we should try and help him.”
            "How can we possibly help this man?”
            "By finding out who he is and notifying the Texas Rangers about what is going on---on that base. We owe Walker our lives, mama---this could be our way of helping to repay him---by helping one of his fellow officers.- Aunt Leire described the man and she said he was wearing a wedding band and he kept saying the name "Alex.”
            "Oh my God----Alex was the name----are you sure?”
              Charlie sees the fright on his mama's face, "What mama, what's wrong?”
            Maria is speechless, "Oh God, Charlie----Alex----is the name of Walker's wife!”
               "Walker's wife?--Mama, how could you know that?”
            Marie starts to cry softly, "Because-----I sort of kept tabs on what was going on in Walker's life----I was in Dallas when I saw their wedding announcement.”
              "Mama---you're saying that after all of these years that we shouldn't mentioned his name----that you were reading up on him?”
            "I wasn't stalking him-----or anything like that-----I just wanted to know what kind of man he was in his personal life----I even thought about taking the Dallas Times----just to read about him----and his family.”
            "Oh mama, do you what this means-that is Walker that Aunt Leire described---the same build, the beard, it can't be that much of a coincidence---it has to be him!----But, that man has been held captive for several days, according to Aunt Leire----so 'who' was that other man talking about? How could he have see him earlier that day?”
              "Charlie, I don't like the sound of any of this-it's getting spooky---I think we should just forget about this-
              "Forget? Mama, we can't just forget it-Walker saved our butts, by getting us out of the bayou, and he risked his life to save me when that warehouse exploded----and he gave us that drug money---Mama---we can't forget what he has done!”
            "But, baby---you know that Ferris has got to be mixed up in this somehow-"
            "No doubt about that mama!” Charlie's voice is getting angrier, "that man has always been mixed up in every ounce of pain that we've ever endured---not to mention that son-of-a-bitch---Kyle Clayton!!!”
            "Kyle is dead," Marie answers softly----and so is Rufus!”
                "Dead? Hallelujah----at last the Lord has heard my prayers---don't expect me to shed tears over him, I'm just waiting for the day that the state of Louisiana kills Ferris as well!”
               "Charlie---please don't talk like this, using the Lord's name like that!”
            "I'm sorry mama, but that's the way I feel---Now, what are we going to do about making sure that is Walker being held, who do we trust?”
            "I guess we could call his wife----but if he's on vacation---she would be with him---I don't know what to do Charlie----this  is scaring me!”
            "It's o.k., mama----don't be afraid" Charlie takes her hand and kisses it--"there was a black guy with Walker that was also a ranger---but, I can't remember his name-"
              "Trivette, James Trivette.”
               Charlie sighs, "I'm not even going to ask how you knew that---he was in the papers too?”
            "He was Walker's best man----and Charlie they are both in the same company---company B----Dallas.”
              "Mama---- I should be angry with you for keeping me in the dark about all of this----but right now---I'm going to find that Trivette fellow----and get to the bottom of what all is going down.”
            "How? How do you expect to do that?”
            "By going to Dallas and ranger headquarters if I have to!!----Mama--you wouldn't know Walker's home address----by any chance, would you?” He smiles back at her.
            Marie smiles back at him and then shakes her finger at him, "Don't sass me boy, you're not too big to get a cypress branch across your backside----hear me?”
               Charlie reaches down and kisses his Mother, "I hear you mama---but time is wasting---I've got to go.”
            "To Texas? No way Charlie---are you forgetting one minor little detail----you're being shipped out to Iraq in just 8 days?  You'll be AWOL---they'll court-martial you!”!
            "I'll be back in plenty of time to join my unit, now mama---listen to me carefully----'if' Aunt Leire should call back, just tell her only that I'm going to check on my friend----nothing else---o.k.?”
            Marie is crying again, "I've been trying to accept your going off to a foreign soil and fighting for a cause that I don't think I believe in anymore----and now Leire has got you mixed up in something----maybe---just as dangerous----I will kick her ass if she lets anything happen to you-----I swear!”
                    Charlie kisses his Mother again, "I love you mama---but I have to do this---I couldn't live with myself if I knew I didn't do anything to try and help Walker---no matter what kind of trouble he's in. I can't go clear across the world and fight that battle---when I know that I got a battle to fight---right here. Please mama---try and understand!”
              Charlie says goodbye and heads to the nearest car rental and he's heading West to Dallas, Texas.

 

Chapter 11

 

Walker ranch:

            Alex is enjoying her breakfast that her 'husband' has cooked for her. She is now watching him attempt to put Angela's pamper on her, who is whimpering softly and looking back at the man through tears.

            He throws his hands up in defeat, "Alex, I can't get this damn thing to stay on, it keeps slipping off!”

                "Honey, turn the pamper around, remember the bunnies go in front, have you forgotten already?”

            "Yeah, guess I did---lot of things on my mind. How's your breakfast?”

            Alex forces a smile, "The bacon was a little burnt---but it was o.k.”

               Joaquin has finally won the battle with the pamper, "Good----because I got to get of here----I got a lot of things to do today after I take the car back!”

            Alex reaches for her daughter to stop her crying. "I was sort of hoping that you would spend a little time with me-----and our daughter. Ever since I've gotten home from the hospital, you're constantly leaving!”

            "I told you Alex, got a lot of things to do.”

            "Like what?”

               "Things----you know---things!”

            Alex feels a twinge of neglect, "If I didn't know better, I would swear you were seeing someone," she pushes her bottom lip out in a pout.

              Joaquin is putting on a fresh shirt, he thinks back to the night before and the two women at the truck stop. He smiles to himself, "If you only knew.”

            "Did you say something, honey?”

            "No honey, I didn't say anything, and for that last remark, YOU KNOW ME BETTER THAN THAT!”

            He's walking towards the bed and reaches down and kisses her slowly, then he reaches down to kiss Angela. Angela has decided to up chuck her milk and it goes all over the front of the fresh new shirt.

            "Damn it---I just put this shirt on!” He backs up and starts wiping at the spilt gook!

              "Honey, take it easy, she didn't mean it---she just needs to be burped!”

               Joaquin is heading back to the bathroom, "Well, you're gonna have to do it!!---I don't have time!”

            Alex shakes her head, "Well, do you think you have time to bring me a warm wash cloth and Angela some clean clothes?"

               Joaquin is stomping back to the nursery to retrieve Angela a change of clothes and then he goes to get the warm wash cloth, he practically throws them to Alex.

                 "Walker---what in the hell is wrong with you? Are you taking those pills again?”

            "No----I'm not taking those pills again!” He mocks.

            "Then---- why are you in such a foul mood ?”

               Joaquin starts to reply, and then he throws his hands up in the air, "Would you just stop asking me so many questions?”

            "I'm asking you questions, because I'm worried about you and your behavior. Where were you last night?”

            "I told you I was at the gym!”

            "I called the gym and they said you had left around 4pm---what time did you get home last night?”

                "What's this? Are you checking up on me, I'm a big boy Alex---I don't need you 'mothering me'!!!”

               "Mothering you?” Alex's temper has peaked, "I'll tell you what, Cordell John Walker, I'll do more than stop 'mothering you---with that attitude---you can sleep in the guest room!”

                Joaquin takes a deep breath and walks back to the bed, "I'm sorry honey---I did it again, didn't I? I'm snapping at you for no reason---forgive me?” He reaches down to kiss her again and she pulls away from him.

            "I got a lot on my mind, Alex and I decided I would take the Porsche for one last drive before you make me take it back. I got into a silly argument with one of the rangers----then I had a flat tire----things just went wrong!!!”

            "I can't take this anymore, Walker---your moods change at the drop of a hat---now I want to know the name of that Doctor that you're seeing and the pills he's prescribed for you!”

            "It has nothing to do with the medication, I told you I threw the pills away, don't you believe me?”

            "I don't know what to believe----why won't you tell me what the medication was?”

                 Joaquin's temper is starting to rise and Angela can feel the tenseness of her parents.

            "What difference does it make, Alex?----I'm not taking the pills and I'm not seeing that Doctor. anymore!” He lies.

            "You can't stop seeing that psychiatrist, honey---you're on medical leave!---That's a part of your treatment---to get medical help!”

               Joaquin is heading for the door, "There's just no pleasing you, is there Alex? Every time I turn around, I'm doing something wrong and getting these questions thrown at me left and right---I'm out of here!” He slams the door on his way out.

            Alex is staring at the closed door; she's almost in tears,

               "Something is very wrong----and I'm going to get to the bottom of this---I will find out who that Doctor is that he's seeing.  Commander Briscoe will know.


*********************************************************************************

           
Hangar, outside Eglin AFB:


            Doctor Michael Brooking has arrived with his cohorts, and he's not a happy man.

            "Why isn't this patient ready to go, I left strict orders to have him ready for travel by 9am?”

            "The patient is ready to travel, Doctor Brooking. We've given him a light dosage, he seemed to be coming around and then he's out again.”

               Brooking motions for Duane and his sister to carry the man out, he turns to the Doctors, "Remember, not a word as to what has been going on here, or you'll end up like Leire!”

            The Doctors exchange painful looks, "Oh no---not Leire too---did you have to kill her?”

                Brooking has his back to the Doctors as he slowly takes out a silencer and attaches it to the end of the 9mm, he turns and sneers, "Come to think of it, I really don't need you two around either.”

                He calmly shoots them both in the middle of the forehead, and then joins his comrades.

            The woman scowls as Brooking climbs in the front seat of the limo. "Did you have to kill them, they've always cooperated?”

            "I just don't like to leave any witnesses behind, how's our patient?”

            The woman smiles as she strokes the cheek of the bearded man, "He's fine----just promise me one thing, Michael--that I can have him in between your electrical shocks? I want to be able to finish what I tried to start back on that witness protection program.”

                  Michael laughs, "The man would only spit at you, don't you know that by now? Or do you even care anymore, Twilah?”

            Duane is clearing his throat, "Uh----excuse me, but don't you think we'd better get on down the road before the MPs decide to search this hangar again?”

                  "They've tried searching it many times and they've always been deterred by the fake documents---the idiots!!! It's no wonder the terrorists have gotten into your country---your government is run by a bunch of idiots!”

             "Where are we taking him, Michael?"

            "I know exactly where we're taking him, somewhere that his screams can't be heard and my little game of revenge will begin. And, when Ferris gives the o.k. to release him, Captain Cordell Walker will be stepping back into a world he never knew could exist."

            Duane rolls his eyes up his head as Michael continues to rattle on, "UHHHHH----do you think that maybe you could tell us where this place is----after all-- I am the driver and I would like to know where I'm driving to?”

            "Go south Duane, and keep driving till we are deep in the bayou, so far back in the swamps that the mosquitoes can't find us.”

            "The bayou? Are you crazy, does Ferris know about this?”

            "It was his idea to take him back to the very area where all of the ranger's meddling caused Ferris' establishment to fall apart. If ranger Walker had just looked the other way and not put his big nose into Ferris Clayton's business, then he might just be at home now---with that pretty little wife and little girl!”

            Twilah sighs, "Ferris Clayton would never have been satisfied---he loves to hurt people and strip them of their dignity.”

            "What do you know about dignity, Twilah---you did Ferris' dirty work before and you'll still be doing it long after the man is gone?”

"Yeah, you and Ferris took care of me real good, didn't you? Living with the two of you left me knowing no feelings of any kind!”

Duane has pointed the long extended car south, he looks back over his shoulder to his sister, “Would you two stop bickering, you can finish your family squabbling some other time?”

             "Duane is right, dear 'wifey, we got more important things to worry about, and you Twilah, need to visit with Ferris.”

            The woman swears, "Great----I'm looking forward to it---about as much as I look forward to seeing that gorilla again---Joaquin!!!”

                 Michael laughs, "Careful wifey, how you talk about our prize protιgι, he no longer looks the same. His plastic surgery was a huge success, and he's the exact double to our patient, even his wife hasn't been able to tell!”

            Twilah is smiling and stroking Walker's cheek, "Really?  His wife is sleeping with an impostor and she can't tell the difference, what kind of 'bimbo' is she that she can't tell her husband's body from a stranger's? All I know is I'm going to enjoy telling him that his wife is screwing another man and thinking all along that it's him! ---We're going to have a fun time, just me and you---ranger.

 

*************************************************************************

 

Dallas:

 

Charlie has found the ranger headquarters; he asks one of the secretaries about Trivette. The young lady points to a dark haired woman sitting at her desk and writing.

             "Excuse me ma'am, but I was told you could tell me where ranger Trivette is?”

            Syd looks back to the young man before her, about 19 or so, blond hair, and very handsome.

            Syd smiles as she quickly puts the papers in a folder, "May I help you?”

             Charlie stares at her and then sees the badge, "You're a Texas ranger too?”

"Yes, yes I am----who did you say you were looking for?”

"Trivette, James Trivette---this is where he works, right?”

"Yes" replies Syd, "but he's not in just yet, his wife had to be taken to the hospital last night----false labor pains!”

Charlie can hardly take his eyes off Syd,  "Oh, sorry to hear that----hope she's o.k.-----Uh---do you know ranger Trivette well?”

            Syd is eyeing the young man suspiciously, "Yes, I've known Trivette for several years, is this a police matter, are you in trouble?”

"No----no ma'am--I ain't----I mean no---I'm not in any trouble", he stammers.

"Then, maybe I can help you?”

Charlie hesitates about his next question, "Would you say that Trivette is a man to be trusted----he's a friend of ranger Walker's, right?”

"Yes--they are very good friends----why?”

"And, ranger Walker is on vacation-----right?”

Syd's brow arches, " Well yes--Walker is on med-----" she stops herself from mentioning the medical leave---"yes, he's on vacation.”

"HEY SYD----WE GOTTA ROLL!!" A tall muscular young  man is walking towards them, and motioning for her to join him.

Charlie sees this as a good time to exit and he turns and runs to the door, almost knocking Gage over.

Gage stares back at his partner, "Who was that, what was that all about?”

Syd turns back to her desk and takes the folder and locks it in her desk, "I'll tell you on the way, where we going?”

"Down around Breckenridge, double homicide.”

"Why are we involved, why can't the locals handle it?”

Gage grimaces, "Because the locals might be mixed up in this, it's a truck stop that has been under investigation for prostitution, and drug dealing."

Syd looks back to her desk, "Guess I'll wait till we get back to talk to commander Briscoe.”

"Was that your request for a transfer?”

"Yeah, I really don't want to just lay it on his desk, I would rather talk to him in person.”

"Yeah, I can understand that---I'll go with you if you want me to---I may as well put in for my transfer too!!!”

                                      **************************************************************************

 
The Black Bayou:

 

The limo has driven for several hours down winding roads that even a standard car would have trouble manoeuvring. Duane is swearing as the extended car keeps hitting ruts in the road and hitting fallen branches from the Cypress trees.

            “Watch it, you idiot---couldn’t you try to miss some of those damn holes?” Screams Twilah.

“Do you want to drive?” He screams back at her.

“Both of you shut up, we’re almost there---just about another mile!”

“How much further?” Twilah asks.

The man is starting to stir as another voice comes to him, asking the same question. He turns to the blonde.

“We’re almost there, hon..”

The woman’s voice shows concern, “Honey, it’s so dark out there, can you see?”

“I’m seeing fine---stop worrying----is there any coffee left?”

“No honey, you drank the last of it about 15 miles back.”

He smacks his lips, “Sure could use a nice hot cup----I think it’s starting to rain-----“

Another voice is heard, “Michael, would you please close the moon roof---the rain is getting in----are we there yet?”

Michael sighs, “Yes---we’ve arrived---this is home!”

Both Twilah and Duane stare out their windows at the old shed, Duane swears.

“This is it----it’s just a dump?”

“What did you expect---the Hilton? Now, hurry up and get our ‘patient’ inside---it’s starting to rain harder!”

             Michael watches as the two drag the half unconscious man into the shed and throw him down on a worn out mattress. The man groans.

            Twilah stares at Michael, Where are we supposed to sleep?”

“Yeah, and what about food?”

“There’s an old frig in the back, hopefully the generator has kept it going these past few months---as for sleep---there are some blankets piled up over there”!

            Duane goes in search for food and Twilah starts throwing the blankets down on the floor. Michael walks over to his patient and without a word, he kicks him.

“Wake up Walker, I want you to know who has you, I want you to feel my pain!”

Michael draws his foot back to kick the man again, and on instinct, the man grabs his foot and pulls it. Michael goes backwards and lands in the floor, he comes up swearing and running towards the man on the floor again and kicks him repeatedly.

Twilah is grabbing Michael and pulling him backwards, “Stop it---you’ll kill him---Ferris said ---he wants him alive!!!”

Michael steps back and straightens his suit, “You’re right, Twilah---Ferris said he wanted him alive, but he didn’t specify ‘how much alive!”

Michael goes to his tool kit and brings out battery cables, he hooks them to the terminal, and then he prods the man with them. The man’s body arches as he screams out in pain.

            “Did you like that, Walker---there’s more where that came from”?”  Michael holds the cables to Walker’s side and presses.  The man screams and then he passes out.

Twilah shakes her head as Duane has come back, munching on some lunch meat, “Ferris ain’t gonna be too happy with you---if you kill him.”

Michael sneers, “I know what I’m doing, this was just a small portion of what we suffered in those prisons---thanks to Captain Cordell Walker!!!”

 

                                   ***************************************************

         

Outside Breckenridge, Texas

 

Rangers Syd and Gage have arrived on the scene and questioning one of the local officers.

            The young officer keeps looking at the rangers and sneering, he comments.

“Don’t know why you two were brought in, we’re more than capable of handling things here, it was just a couple of whores!”

            Both rangers glare back at the man and Syd gets up in the young man’s face, “Those whores were human beings and their murders will be investigated to the fullest, do I make myself clear?”

“Yeah, yeah, there’s not much to report, around 11pm or so the whole sky lit up when the semi caught fire and exploded. We’ve had the wreckers out here all morning and the medical examiner and his staff has had a hell of time recovering the bodies.”

“Were there any witnesses?”

“Can’t find any, the semis pull in here all the time, looking to score---hookers, drugs---you name it. These two whor---I mean women were from around your areas, rangers---Dallas.  Their names were Rosie and Dolly, more than likely – aliases.”

            Gage nods his head slowly, “As soon as the medical crew can get the bodies back to Dallas, we’ll try and get some DNA on them.”

            More local officers arrive on the scene, the senior officer walks over to the rangers.

“Wanna tell me what this all about; my men are capable of handling a homicide, rangers?”

“We’re here because there have been reports on your men and the possibility that they have been involved in these truck stop activities---like maybe ‘getting serviced’---on duty?”

“What the hell you talking about are you saying that maybe some of my men were involved in the deaths of those two whores?”

Gage shakes his head slowly and walks up to the senior officer and puts his arm around his shoulder, he tightens his grip and turns the man away from the views of the other officers.

“Listen, you slime ball---those women had families of some sort, and whether you like it or not, my partner and I are going to be asking a lot of questions---personal questions like I want to know where each and every man on your force was at the time of these murders!”

“I don’t have to take this, you Texas Rangers are always throwing your weight around-----and now just because maybe one of my men was getting some on the side from one of those sluts---you come----“

            The man does not finish his statement as Gage’s fist goes into the man’s stomach and Gage continues to hold the man upright.  He sneers at the officer.

“What were you saying, I didn’t hear what you said----wanna repeat it?”

The man is coughing and the other officers are closing in, Syd steps in front of them “Back off” she warns.

“What’s going on, what’s your partner doing to the Sarge?”

Syd smiles, “He’s being interrogated, and you boys will be next!, Do you want to be interrogated here, or in police headquarters?”

An old man has inched his way up closer to the officers, he chuckles.

“You boys have finally met your match, haven’t you? Ye can’t push the Texas Rangers around like you do the rest of us---no sirree Bob!”

“Get out of here Gus, before we run you in for interfering with a police investigation”, barks one of the officers.

Syd sees the old man and motions for him to come forward, “Did you see anything, mister?”

Gus’s eyes go up and down the frame of Syd, he tries to whistle, “Are you really a Texas Ranger, as pretty as you are?”

“Yes, I am a ranger---did you see anyone hanging around here that looked out of place?”

“You mean outside of those idiots that are wearing police uniforms?” The old man laughs.

Gage has walked up to the old man, “We need to know if you saw anything suspicious----Gus.”

The old man scratches his scraggly beard, “No, there’s always a lot of traffic going in and out of here, if you get my drift! They come and they go, of course a lot of the men ain’t walking too straight afterwards.”

Gage laughs softly, “Did you know the women, I think their names were Dolly and Rosie?”

“Naw, they wouldn’t give me the time of day---but I sure tried to get to know them. Dolly was o.k., but the other one was kind of rough---but they were both popular and had a lot of action last night.”

“What time did you see them last?”

“Oh, about 10 or so, I remember thinking that after I saw that shiny little sports car drive up that the man inside would be a heavy tipper!”

The rangers exchange glances, and Syd asks slowly, “A sports car, did you see the man inside?”

“No, he stayed inside the car---just smoking and throwing the buttes down on the ground. I was silently cussing him, because that’s one of my jobs here, is to sweep up. Why he couldn’t use the damn ashtray, I’ll never know!”

While Gage continues to question the old man, Syd walks to the area of where the old man said the car was sitting, the ground has already been swept up.

“O.k. Gus, I need you to think. Did you see what the man was wearing, what kind of a car was it?”

Gus clicks his false teeth, “All I saw was this man, in western clothes, the hat, the whole nine yards. He sat there for the longest, watching the others go in and out of the semi, then Dolly walked up to him and I guess the deal was made. Because right after that, he drove down to that mass of mesquite trees and waited, then he went up to the rig.”

“About how tall was he, big man, what?”

“He was shorter than you, like I said, he was wearing western clothes, but he had his Stetson pulled down low over his face—couldn’t see nothing!”

“What about the car?” Asks Syd. “You said it was shiny, what color was it?”

“Red---bright red and it was one of them there----convertibles---the top was down!”

“Do you know the make or model?”

“You mean, was it a Ford or a Chevy?  Nope---it looked like one of those foreign jobs, that’s why I noticed it!”

“If we took you back to police headquarters and showed you pictures of some of the sports cars, do you think you could identify the car this man was driving?”

“Don’t know” the old man snorts, “won’t know till I give it a try, will I?”

Gage motions for the senior officer to join them, “Take this man to headquarters and show him some photos of all of the sports cars you have on file----and Sarge---you treat this man with kid gloves---are you hearing me?”  

“Yeah, I hear you just fine—RANGER! Get in the car, Gus, I don’t have all day!”

Syd and Gage continue to ask more questions and then they head to police headquarters in Breckenridge.

Syd keeps looking at Gage, “When you were ‘interrogating’ that officer---know who you reminded me of?”

“Who?”

“Walker---he wouldn’t have taken any crap off that officer either, and the remarks against those women’s professions!”

Gage sighs as he peers out the driver’s side of the car, “Yeah, I guess whether we want to admit it or not, Walker’s rubbed off on us!”

Syd remains quiet and Gage touches her shoulder softly, “Are you having second thoughts about putting in your transfer?”

“No----I don’t know---Gage---I’m just so confused----I just can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong.  I know that Walker has been under a lot of stress, and the pills, and all that crap---but Gage----can flashbacks really do this kind of damage to a man’s mind?”

“I’m not sure Syd, I’ve heard a lot of vets describe the flashbacks and the delayed reactions to the tortures that went on in those camp! I guess anything is possible!”

“It was like I was seeing a completely different person that day in the gym. The looks that he was giving me, made me feel so uncomfortable and then the things he said to me.”

Gage pulls the car over to the side of the highway and turns to his partner.

“Syd, I have to ask, and please don’t get mad and start swinging at me---just listen to me first---o.k.?”

“I’m not sure I’m going to like what you’re fixing to ask me, but go ahead!”

             “Alright, I know that things have been strained between us and maybe I was getting the wrong idea about us---but Syd---let’s face it, I was only behaving like any man would! And, if I hadn’t made a pass at you---then you would have probably thought I was---gay?”

“And, your point is?”

“All I’m saying is—is that maybe—maybe Walker was just----sort of ‘testing the waters?”

“Of all the hair brain ideas that you men come up with---‘testing the waters’?

Are you still implying that I was sending Walker signals--- I have never given Walker any hint of a flirtation, I wasn’t flirting with him then and I have never flirted with him!”

“There you go again, Syd---denying that you have ever had---sort of an infatuation with him. I’ve watched you when you’re around him, you’re mesmerized by him!”

Syd is stammering, “For the last time, I would never cross the line to go after a married man, no matter who he is---for Christ’s’ sake, Gage---Alex is my best friend!”

“Syd, you’re a beautiful and very sexy woman---and when you are in those tights that hug every inch of your body---no man in his right mind would be able to resist you. Walker is only human----“

“Oh, and that makes it alright for him to sexually harass me? I thought you were more of a man than that---to hide behind the excuse that you think it was my fault that he came onto me. I can’t believe what you’re saying to me Gage!”

            “You’re right, I’m jumping to the conclusion that because you’re so attractive that---that gives every red bloodied male the right to come onto to you----and I guess I’m feeling a little demoralized because I wasn’t able to stand up to Walker!”

“You got no reason to feel that way, Gage---I haven’t seen a man yet that can beat him in a fair fight!”

Gage swears under his breath, “Syd, if you could have seen Walker’s face, and that look in his eyes, I truly believe that he wanted to physically hurt me-----and if Trivette hadn’t come in when he did---I don’t know how far the fight would have continued!”

Syd nods her head, “I felt the same way the evening before when Walker wanted to show me the new techniques, he wasn’t pulling any punches----some of the moves were very painful. I don’t recall ever see Walker fight that way, not when he was suppose to be ‘teaching’, he’s always put enough energy into his sparring that we would know how it would feel to be in a real match----but I felt like he was being a little too rough!”

“Have you talked to Walker, have you told him that you’re putting in for a transfer?”

            “No, I’m leaving that up to Commander Briscoe, have you talked to him or Trivette?”

“I was going to mention it to Trivette last night, but then he had to take Erica into the hospital for those false labor pains.”

“Yeah, I felt that Trivette had enough on his mind with Erica, but as our senior officer, we do need to confront him about the accusation.”

Gage starts the car back up and pulls back on the highway, “I’ll find Trivette and tell him that we need to talk to him as soon as we get back to Dallas----in the meantime---let’s get back to Gus and see if he’s identified that sports car yet!”

 

Chapter 12

 

Outside Eglin AFB

 

The lone figure has approached the hangar slowly and enters through the back way.

             "Everything is too quiet, what's going on?”" It asks as it continues to work itself  to the back room and there is the reason for the quietness, the two bodies lying in the floor.

"Matt, Dennis---oh my God, what happened?” The figure is going to each body, the first one is  dead, but there is movement in the second one.

"Leire?----Leire---is that you?”

"Yes, Dennis--it's me. What happened, who did this to you?”

The man's voice is faint as he keeps pointing to the old desk, "He said---you were dead" Dennis whispers.

"Who said I was dead?”

"Brook---Brooking---he said------he killed you.”

"Don't try to talk, I'm calling 911---I'll get the ambulance for you----"

"No----no------it's too late---for me-----there---under the desk-----papers.”

Leire looks to the desk that her friend is pointing at, "What papers are you talking about?”

Dennis is gasping for air,  "The patients------it's all there----in the folder---desk----hurry---help---them"

"Dennis! Dennis---hold on, don't die on me---please.”

A few seconds later and Dennis is gone. Leire is cursing, "Damn you Brooking-----you didn't have to kill Matt and Dennis---they were loyal to you---you sorry son of a bitch!”

Leire is staring at the old desk, "Papers? What papers was Dennis talking about?”

She searches the desk and finally looks under it and there stuck in the far corner is a folder taped down, she pulls it out and starts reading it.

"Well, at least I can be thankful for one thing, that Michael Brooking still typed out all of his work instead of using the computer to store it.---So, let's see what we have here.”

She continues to read the papers and it's descriptions of Brookings’s experiments on some of the war veterans. She grimaces as she reads how the veterans were forced to undergo shock treatment as a reverse psychology to get them through the terrors and nightmares of the bamboo prisons of Viet Nam.  "Fighting the pain with pain"---"You are one sick son-of a bitch," mutters Leire.

She goes to the back of the folder to read the latest entry on the bearded man, she stares at the papers in disbelief. The one word jumps out at her---‘-plastic surgery’!!

"What were they going to do, perform plastic surgery on the man----why?---Wait----who is this guy?”

She stares at the picture, something about the eyes.

"Who is this guy? He sort of looks like the bearded man---but he's so rough looking---no----no way---- this man is the one that has had the plastic surgery.----Oh my God----- they've created an impostor---to look like-----"

            She shakes her head, as she reads the man's name---Cordell Walker/Texas Ranger.

She gasps, "Oh my God---Charlie's friend---this is Charlie's friend, the lawman that helped him and Marie to get out of the bayou----Charlie? Oh my God, Charlie, I've got to call him as soon as possible.”

 

                           ****************************************************************************

          

Baton Rouge State prison:

 

Ferris Clayton has just had his conjugal visit with Twilah. The man is rather quiet as she watches him dress.

              "What's wrong with you, what did I do wrong this time?”

He motions for her to join him at his little table, the guards have brought them tea. He sips it slowly, admiring the beautiful woman before him.

            "You did nothing wrong, my dear---thank you for coming.”

             "What's this? You're actually being nice to me, what gives? You've never thanked me for sex before----or anything else for that matter!”

The old man is speaking in a hushed tone, "I haven't treated you exactly good, have I?”

The woman thinks back to the many times that Ferris and Michael had abused her, mentally and sexually.

"No, you haven't! But, I've always stuck around, haven't I?”

"Yes---because you had no choice----if you had the choice like Marie Marteen, you would have bolted a long time ago, don't deny it!”

Twilah remains silent as the man rubs the back of his neck. "Things are changing Twilah, and not the way I wanted them!”

"What do you mean?”

"I was just informed by my lawyer that my date with the 'grim reaper' has been moved up, I'm running out of time.”

"How much time?” The woman asks slowly.

"I've got less than a month---so now everything has to start moving faster and the plans to destroy Cordell Walker have to be put in higher gear. I guess it's a good thing that I'm stepping up things, now that I learn what that idiot, Joaquin, has done!”

Twilah sighs as she takes a long sip of her tea, "What has that gorilla done now?”

Ferris tells Twilah about the murder of the two whores near Breckenridge, the longer he talks, the more angrier he becomes.

"So, what's the big deal, he's killed before! You and Grady knew his track record for killing whores---and I even hear he has sex with their bodies afterwards---the big creep!”

"Yes, I know his record! I should have made Grady keep a tighter rein on him, instead of letting him seek the sexual favors of the other women, since he wasn't getting any from Walker's wife!”

"Wait a minute, he's not having sex with Walker's wife---I thought she was a real knock out, from the pictures I've seen on her and all? What's wrong with her-----and how she is avoiding Mr. Hot Pants?”

            "She was involved in a car wreck on the very same day that the Joaquin was making his debut as Cordell Walker. Several years ago, she stopped a bullet and it lodged close to her spine, the Doctors never removed it for fear that it would paralyse her. Apparently, they are now afraid that the bullet could shift and still do  paralysis, so she was put on bed-rest---and no sexual activity!”

            Twilah breaks out laughing, the tears are streaming down her cheeks, "What?  You got to be kidding me---Joaquin is having to be celibate?? You're talking about the man that once bragged that he could have sex continuous for hours----and not even break a sweat?---The same man that had up to 6 women in his bed----"

            "Are you quite through?” Ferris bellows.

"I'm sorry", Twilah is still laughing, "but I find this so hard to believe and---comical!!!”

"I'm glad you find it so amusing, because I don’t! This means that the police are going to be investigating, and they've brought in the rangers. I sure as hell hope that he returned that damn sports car before he killed those women!”

             "Sports car?  The idiot is driving around in a sports car, from the reports---Walker drove a Dodge Ram Truck!”

The old man takes a deep breath, "The damage has been done and now as soon as I talk to Grady, the plan will have to go in high gear and steps will have to be made to start tearing Walker's life apart. I wanted more time, I wanted to hear the reports about how he was being shamed and how his life was falling down around him."

"So---what do we do now?”

"You tell Michael to get his little game of torture over with quickly for Walker, cause it's just a matter of days that we will release Walker back to his life, and then I will be in pure bliss, watching that man suffer for tearing my world apart----and killing my sons!”

               "Walker didn't kill your sons---they were killed by inmates.”

The old man is breathing hard as he gets down in Twilah's face, "Walker is responsible for their being there, Walker was responsible for destroying my drug business---am I making myself clear---you imbecile?”

"Yeah, more than clear and now that you're back to bashing me again, what do I tell Michael? You know he had plans to make Walker suffer, he enjoys using the shock treatments, he's not going to be happy about an early release.”

"I don't care if Michael is unhappy, now get out of here so I can call Grady and get things moving from his end!---You just remind that 'common law' husband of yours, that he better not kill Walker---or I will have his head---with his balls stuck in his mouth---got that?”

Twilah is leaving the state prison as one of the guards is watching her closely. The man looks back to the cell block where Twilah was visiting, and he spits on the floor.

"Slut!” He curses, "You and Clayton will get yours---and I know just the person to put a monkey wrench into your little scheme---it's time to make a call.”

 

************************************************************************

          

The Black Bayou:

 

Walker has awaken enough to hear the men yelling about some papers.

Brooking is running around, emptying briefcases and turning them upside down and shaking them.

"Where are they, where are those damn folders?”

Duane is shaking his head, "You put all of that information into a damn folder, why didn't you save them on discs like Twilah told you to?”

"I hate those damn computers!” Michael yells back.

Walker smiles as he remembers a similar argument.

("I am telling you big guy, you have got to come out of the dinosaur era and join the present---computers rule!”

"I got no use for those damn things, Trivette--- I'll stick with the old way of writing things out!”

"But Walker, what if you got to save something?”

"Then I put them in a safe place.”

"You're missing the point, big guy!  Computers can store up to a thousand times more than what you save in a folder or a file, and it's all stored right there in that little machine. All you have to is save in a document, then when you want to go to it, you open that file and there it is---right before your eyes!”

"Trivette, let me ask you something, these computers run on electricity, don't they?”

Trivette rolls his eyes up in his head, "Most of them are now wireless, they run on battery packs, you can take them anywhere!”

"Uh huh, that's all nice to hear, but what if those battery packs run down---they have to be recharged, don't they?---And, that calls for electricity---right?”

"Well yeah---but if you keep them charged, that won't happen----"

"Face it, Trivette---- no electricity---no computers----I rest my case!”)

 

The voices have gotten louder and now Michael is throwing things, Duane is still trying to calm him when Twilah comes in. Walker is trying to listen and trying to get his vision focused. The woman's voice sounds familiar, he can hear the footsteps approaching him.

A fist goes to the ranger's right jaw and a voice yells back at him "wake up Walker, time is getting shorter and you and I have a few little games to play---do you hear me Walker?”

Walker groans as he looks back to the voice, "I hear you----you piece of shit!”

Another fist goes to his face and Twilah is pulling Michael away from him, "Leave him be----you know what Ferris said!”

Michael is pacing, "Yeah, I know what he said, but he also said I could get my little games in before the time is up."

Twilah looks down to Walker and smiles, she reaches down and caresses his cheek with her forefinger, "Hey handsome, have I got some news for you---you are going to go 'postal' when I tell you what is going on with that little wife of yours!”

Walker is trying to focus the woman, "Alex?---Is my wife o.k.?”

"Oh your wife is having the time of her life----she sure doesn't miss you any.”

"Shut up Twilah, we don't want to tell him too much!” Michael sneers, "Just enough to keep him alert, so he can feel every ounce of pain!”

Twilah continues to stroke the ranger's cheek, he pulls away from her, she jerks his face back and kisses him hard.

"You listen good, Walker, you and I are going to get to know each other real well before this is over with. You may think you want to reject my attention now, but by the time you learn the truth about that pretty little wife---you'll come to me---willingly!”

Walker again jerks away from the woman, his mind going back to a happier time:                                    

 

***********************

 

It is now the end of October 2001 and Walker and Alex have learned of their  impending parenthood. Walker has spent a very boring morning sitting at his desk and doing nothing---for a change.

Trivette is equally bored, "Hey Walkman, wanna go grab something to eat?”

"No thanks Trivette, think I'll give Alex a call and see if she can knock off early. She was suppose to start clearing her calendar and being more particular about the cases she accepts now.”

                  Trivette is grinning and showing his pearly whites, "Wow---I still can't believe it---you're gonna be a Daddy!”

Walker is trying hard not to smile, "So---what's so hard to believe about that? Do you think I'm not capable of being one?”

"No, it's just that you and Alex dated for so long and you've been married for what now--5 months?”

Walker leans back in his chair, hands behind his head---"Five months 13 days, and he looks to his watch," and 7 hours and 32 minutes-----what's your point?”

Trivette's eyes grow wide and the two men start laughing, "What took you so long, man?”

Before Walker can answer, a female voice is heard "Yeah 'man'----what took you so long?”

Walker looks up to see Alex smiling back at him, "Hi hon, was just getting ready to call you.”

Trivette walks over to Alex and kisses her cheek, "Would you get this cowboy out of here, he's bored stiff since we don't have any cases!”

"I plan to do just that, in fact--that's why I'm here.” She walks slowly over to her husband's desk and leans over to kiss him lightly, the catcalls go up from the other rangers and secretaries. Their minds are doing overtime.

Walker returns her kiss,” And, what can I do for you, Mrs Walker?”

Alex tilts her head up, "YOU, my husband can join me on a little trip---to New Orleans!”

"New Orleans?” Alex, I thought you said you were going to pass up the lawyers' convention this year?”

"Well, I was---but then I got to thinking about it and since two of the other lawyers have decided not to go that was representing our district, and we need a little vacation,----I accepted----o.k., honey?”

Walker looks around the office and back to his desk that is filling up with paper airplanes and paperclips bent out of shape, he shakes his head, "I don't know Alex----I'm just so busy and all------" he smiles back at her. "New Orleans sounds very romantic for this time of year----yes----I'll go with you!”

Walker and Alex arrive in New Orleans and Alex has booked them in one of the finest hotels. Walker is impressed, mainly because they won't be running into any of the other lawyers and their wives. He walks out on the veranda and inhales the air.

"This is nice, hon.--Almost as nice as the hotel we stayed at in Paris!---Now what were we there for, I forgot" ! He teases.

She walks slowly into his arms, "I'll help you to remember, cowboy---come here, and just like in Paris, we may never leave this hotel room.”

"Oh,--are we going to play rodeo again?”

She's pulling him slowly to their king size bed and pushes him gently down, then begins to straddle him. She opens his shirt and begins kissing him slowly all the way down to his belt buckle, which she begins to undo.

"Am I going too slow?” She asks teasingly.

Walker sighs, "Take all the time you want my lady, I'm not going anywhere.”

"Oh, I can vouch for that cowboy, now where was I?” Her voice begins to fade.

 

***************

          

"HEY HANDSOME, WAKE UP---did you fall asleep again?” The woman's voice is demanding.

Walker squints his eyes as he looks to the woman, "I know you----you were on the witness protection program---weren't you?”

Twilah is smiling as her hand moves down to Walker's chest, and continues to move downward, "Good memory, handsome--maybe we won't waste so much precious time this time around.”

Walker pulls her hand away and studies the faces of the two men staring back at him.  His eyes fix on Michael.

"Michael Brooking---I thought I recognized your voice, I've never liked your nasal twang, I still despise it!”

"You're in no position to say what you like and don't like, let's get one thing straight Captain Cordell Walker, if it was up to me I would cut you up in little pieces and feed you to the crocs!”

Walker is trying to pull himself up on the makeshift table, he looks around him, "What do you want, Brooking?”

Duane scoffs, "You'll find out in plenty of time, ranger--you're not going anywhere!”

Brooking laughs, "Get our friend something to eat, I want him strong enough to know what is happening.”

"No, Michael---not tonight---I have plans for him tonight----and you and Duane can take a walk.”

Duane's eyes grow wide, "Take a walk, are you crazy? I'm not walking around out there, there are snakes and ----who knows what else is crawling around out there!”

"We're not going anywhere, you little slut---now go splash some water on your hormones---and cool off!”

Walker looks back to the woman, "How did you get mixed up with these two?”

Twilah smiles, "Do you really wanna know handsome, and waste even more time getting to know each other?”

Duane has brought Walker some watered down soup, it tastes even worse than it looks, but he drinks it down quickly.

"Don't tell me, Ferris Clayton is mixed up in this somehow, isn't he?”

"Right to the core handsome, and does he have a surprise for you!!

"Shut up Twilah, you're flapping your yap too much---he'll be told--in plenty of time.”

Walker takes a deep breath as he forces himself to smile at the pretty brunette, "You mentioned my wife---where is she, is she alright?”

Twilah caresses the ranger's face, "You just don't worry about her---Alex---is it? That's a man's name, isn't it?”

Duane laughs, "It might be a man's name, but that wife of his is a real looker---got some sexy legs that just won't stop.”

"You idiots---what's in a name?" Screams Michael, "All you need to know Walker is this! Your life will never be the same, you'll be shamed and no one will be able to look you in the eye after Clayton is through with you.”

Walker can feel himself getting queasy again, he lies back down and his mind wanders back, he can almost smell the perfume she is wearing, as her blond hair cascades down on his midsection. 

 

****************************

 

"Oh honey---isn't this place romantic, almost as romantic as Paris---and our honeymoon?”

"Yep" he answers as he kisses the side of her head, and feels her bare body underneath the sheets, "but anyplace is romantic with you beside me. Whether it's a sleeping bag, the back of a Lincoln, a hot tub, or just the cold hard ground---with you---it's romantic!!!”

She smiles up at him, "My goodness, you can be such a Romeo with the words when you want to be---and Jimmy and C.D. always said you didn't have a romantic bone in your body!!!”

Walker laughs, "What do they know about romance? C.D. was married 4 or 5 times, and Trivette is always bragging about his threesomes, but we seldom ever see him with any woman?”

"He says he likes to keep his women away from preying eyes, and believe me some of the women we have seen him with look like they just stepped out of a modelling magazine, or PLAYBOY.”

"I wouldn't know, I haven't noticed," teases Walker.

"Good save, cowboy.”

"I'm learning" he kisses her again, "besides why would I want to notice other women when I have a hell of a time keeping my eye on you---and every male that walks through the federal building that is 'eyeballing' you?”

"Do I hear a hint of jealousy" she asks?

"You're damn right, I'm protective of what is mine!” He grabs her thighs and pinches. "And now I've got double reason to be protective, a future little Walker is growing inside you!”

            Alex giggles and rolls over on her back and massages her stomach, "Yes, a tiny little life that is growing--oh Walker---I am so anxious for the baby to be born!”

"Not me, I'm still trying to get everything straight in my mind about life insurance, schools, and what college do we send the child to, etc,"

             "College?---Honey, that's not for another 18 years, and besides we don't decide on the college--he or she will do the deciding!”

"Yeah, I guess you're right about that--as long as it's in Texas!”

Alex smiles, "Texas, huh? I remember how stubborn you was about me not conceiving in Paris---you wanted your baby to be conceived, born, and raised in the lone star state. Really, honey---you're not even a true Texan, you're a Okie!!!”

            "Alex, when I was born, my Father said that my heart was pointing south, only  the butt was in Oklahoma!!!”

Alex is laughing so hard the tears are streaming down her face, "O.k. honey---whatever you say----and John Wayne still doesn't know that the Red River belongs to Oklahoma now, and not Texas!”

Walker shakes his head, "The man would be turning over in his grave if he knew what the army engineers had discovered about the border rights shifting, you know how C.D. explained it?”

"No, honey---how?”

"They messed with the zoning rights, and a whole passle of them got out their ropes and pulled the Red River over to the Okie side.”

Alex is still laughing, "Oh sure honey--Pecos Bill and his famous lasso!”

"Well, he tamed many of the tornadoes, didn't he?”

Alex becomes quiet as she continues to rub her stomach, she whispers the name, "C.D.---God how I miss that old man.”

"Yeah, me too---and Uncle Ray---the two people that wanted us to get together the most---and neither one of them will see their grandbaby!”

"And your parents"---

"I think about them a lot lately, my Mother would have the child so spoiled! It would be impossible to know who would have spoiled the baby more, my parents, C.D., Uncle Ray----or your Dad?”

"My Dad is so happy about becoming a grandpa---this will be his first, you know---or at least the first one that he knows about. I'm sure my dad has more than one other child out there---somewhere!”

"Would you be upset to know that you have a sibling?”

"No---I've always wanted an older brother to protect me----it's not easy being an only child, you know that as well as I do.”

"Well, let's make a promise that this child will not be a only child, he or she will definitely have siblings---o.k., hon.?”

"I definitely agree---and now---can we go get something to eat---your child is hungry----and so am I!!!”

 

***********************************************

          

Walker ranch:

 

Alex is making her way down the stairs slowly, she stops and takes a deep breath, then inches her way to the kitchen. After she has made tea, she calls ranger headquarters and asks to speak to commander Briscoe.

            "Hi Alex, how you feeling?”

Alex is rubbing her back as she takes more pain pills, "I think I'm feeling better, I got down the stairs without falling.”

"Stairs? Shouldn't you be in bed, I thought the Doctor said 'complete bed rest?”

"I was going 'stir crazy' laying in that bed, and besides I need to ask you some questions about that doctor that Walker is seeing and what the medication is that he's taking!”

The commander stares back at the phone, "Alex, I don't understand why you just don't ask Walker those questions, he can tell you more than I can!”

"Well, that's the problem---Walker has been very evasive about answering my questions, and frankly---I'm worried about him and his moods. He's so temperamental--but I'm sure you and the other co-workers know how irritable he is when he comes down there. Is he driving you crazy about wanting to come back to work?”

"No, Alex----he's said very little since the first day he was put on leave.”

"That's odd, I know the last time that he had to take some time off because of those flashbacks, he was like a caged bear!”

"Yes, I found it odd too that he was taking it so calmly. As for the name of the doctor----wait a minute Alex---Yes , Dana, what is it?”

The secretary excuses herself, "Ranger Cooke is here to see you.”

"Tell her I'm on the phone, I'll see her shortly---Alex---are you still there?”

"Yes, you were going to tell me the name of the doctor?”

The commander is searching for the files on Walker, "Damn it, what the heck did Dana do with those files? Alex, would it be alright if I faxed them to you later today, I have a ton of appointments to take care of?”

            "That would be fine, commander---and would you not mention any of this to my husband, he gets so irritable?”

"It's just between you and me, Alex---I know I'm being personal but I feel like I've known you and Walker long enough to ask, is everything alright between you two?”

               "Things could be better, but I know the pills that he was taking was causing him to have mood swings, I'm so glad he's not taking them anymore---but he's also said he wasn't going to see that doctor anymore either!”

"He can't do that, Alex---that's part of his treatment!”

"I know that commander, but please don't mention any of this. I'm feeling better now and maybe I can start going with him to his appointments.”

"O.k., Alex, listen I hate to cut you off, I will have Dana fax all the information to you-----talk to you later!”

The commander hesitates, and then he pages his secretary, "Dana, would you please get Ranger Walker's medical files and fax them to his wife?”
            Syd has heard the page, she clears her throat.

"Can I see the commander now?”

Dana stares back at the shapely brunette, admiring her figure and then casually observing her own. She has watched as the countless men have made passes at the female ranger. Only one other woman in the building was equally attractive, and that was Alex Walker. The stares and the snide little whispers had  diminished since she and Walker had gotten married because it was well known how Walker had a short temper where his wife was concerned.

            "Yes," Dana sneers, "you can go in now.”

Dana watches as Syd walks slowly into the commander's office, carrying a small folder. She sighs, "I hope that damn fax machine is working, I hate to go all the way down to the first floor to use that one!

            Her hopes fade as she sees the "OUT OF ORDER" still taped to the fax machine, she slams her finger down on the "DOWN" button---to the first floor.

            The commander is staring back at ranger Syd Cook, he has read her complaint.

"Sexual harassment? Against Walker?”

"Yes, " Syd clears her throat again, "it's all there and so is my request for a transfer.”

"I can't believe this-----Walker?----Syd, are you sure---that this wasn't a miss-understanding?”

Syd is getting impatient, "It's all right there in my complaint---why are you doubting me?”

"I'm not doubting you ranger Cook, if this is all true, then ranger Walker will be dealt with---just like any other ranger in this company! But, Syd, other rangers and other men in this building have made remarks to you and probably have made passes at you because you are a very attractive woman---are you positive that you didn't just----imagine-----"

            The lady ranger is seeing red, "Imagine?---Do you think I'm so stupid that I can't tell the difference between a innocent flirtation and sexual harassment?”

            The commander is confused as he starts pacing and reading the complaint again, "You said that he grabbed you and kissed you?”

            "Yes" the lady ranger hisses, "how many times do I have to explain it?”

"Until I get tired of hearing it, is that understood, ranger Cook!---And, I'm not the only one you will be explaining this to, there is internal affairs, have you forgotten the procedure?”

"No, I haven't forgotten---could you just transfer me to another company until this is over with?”

Briscoe is shaking his head, "You know I can't do that, not now---I'm short handed--with Walker on leave, Trivette is having to be with his wife, and I got two other rangers that are out for one reason or another---you'll just have to suck it up---for now!!  At least--you don't have to be running into Walker---stay away from him, is that understood?”

"I understand perfectly, now I understand why so many women feel like they are being raped twice when they make out sexual complaints and they are being made to feel like the guilty one.”

"We're not talking about rape---"

"It was just a figure of speech.”

The commander is still steaming, "If it was any other man in this building---I might not have the doubts, but I can't believe this---against Walker?"

Syd takes a long sigh, "Commander---for what it's worth, I hesitated about making that complaint---I haven't been able to think straight since all this happened, and I too thought that I might have taken his advances the wrong way, but when he kissed me----and said that I was asking for it----and the things he said to Gage---about me----"

             "Ranger Gage knows about this? Who else have you told?”

            "Gage knows because I told him, only him! He and Walker had a encounter in the gym and----"

"Oh great" screams Briscoe, "two of my rangers were fighting, why am I the last one to know anything around here?”

Syd hesitates, "Well, actually----Trivette---knows about the fight---but he doesn't know what started it!”

Briscoe is reaching for his Rolaids, he takes them down quickly without any water! He's chewing more tablets and staring back at the lady ranger, the white foam is forming around his mouth, he asks slowly.

"Is there anything else you want to tell me, or do I wait for the other shoe to drop?”

Syd remains silent.

The commander is pacing again, "O.k. ranger Cook----I will turn this over to internal affairs---and they will be questioning you and Walker about what has happened, did anyone see or hear what was going on in the gym?”

"No sir, the other rangers had left.”

"I have a meeting with the mayor all day, I'm going to sit on this until I can confront Walker, I will also talk to ranger Gage---in the meantime---you are not to discuss this with anyone, is that clear?”

            "Yes sir---I would prefer that no one else has to know about this---if you want I can just put another reason down for my transfer, I can say-----"

            "You are not going to be 'sugar coating' anything Syd, is that clear? If Walker----if Walker did this---he will be dealt with, I will not stand for any of my rangers to break the law, no matter who---or she is!!---Now get out here---I have a migraine coming on!!!”

Syd is almost out the door when the commander yells out to her, "Tell my secretary to get in here---on the double!”

            "She's not at her desk sir, didn't she have some papers to fax?”

 

*********************************************

 

First floor/ federal building    

 

Dana is faxing has started to  fax the medical report to Alex, she stops and reads them, slowly looking around to make sure no one is looking.

She looks to the folder and the picture of Walker, she licks her bottom lip.

"Damn, he's hot----in a rugged sort of way. He's not pretty, but so damn sexy---" she then thinks of her husband, Ken.

"I'll bet that ranger Walker is not shy in the bedroom, not the way he fills out those sexy tight jeans, I'll bet he wouldn't be shy at all about trying out new positions---instead of the 'pilgrim' all the time----I'm getting warm just thinking about what he can do with that tongue.”

            She hears the men talking and she looks up to see Joaquin/Walker talking to some police officers, she stops the machine and just stares at the ranger. Her eyes go up and down the man's body, and visions of those thighs embracing her body. She remember just days before on how he actually 'flirted' with her.

            She continues to watch him, "Maybe it is true, that all men like to play around---even ranger Walker? Maybe that prissy little wife of his is not 'all of that' in between the sheets after all, and he's wanting some 'strange' as the ladies in the secretarial prefer to "it" as!”  

            The officers walk away and Joaquin has started towards the gym, he sees Dana staring back at him, he's seen that look before. He walks towards her slowly.

            "Hello-----Dana---isn't it?”

She pulls herself together and reaches back to gather the medical files and closes them, "Hello, ranger Walker, are you going for a work out?”

             Joaquin is studying the woman's body, she could definitely use some toning up and losing about 30 pounds. She's fairly attractive, but rather on the insecure side, he studies the way she is looking at him. 

            "You know, it wouldn't hurt for you to do some exercising" he reaches out and touches her stomach lightly, "and maybe flatten that stomach a little more?”

            Dana's body tightens at the ranger's touch, she blushes, "I'm not much into working out.”

            "I can tell," answers Joaquin, "but have you thought about it? I could give you some pointers and few simple exercises to do.”

            "I'm afraid I don't have the time, I work here, and then I have to get home to fix supper for my husband, and etc.”

            A couple of women walk past them on their way to the elevator and Joaquin looks away from Dana to observe them, his eyes linger on their derrieres, he looks back to Dana and grins.

             "There's nothing more attractive to a man than a woman's---'ass'---wouldn't you say Dana? I'll bet your husband is an 'ass' man, right, since you don't have much going for you in the other departments?”

            The woman is taken back by Joaquin's crude remark, she starts to walk away, and Joaquin grabs her arm gently.

            "Hey---I didn't mean anything by that, you're actually a good looking women, I'll bet other men in this building are hitting on you all the time, right?”

            "I get my share of looks," she lies. "But not like your wife, the men are always staring at her and making snide remarks.”

"Really?---And does she ever return those looks?”

"I don't know, well---yes---she looks back at them ---I guess.”

"What about you, Dana? Do you give the other guys--second looks---and fantasize about being with someone else for a change?”

"I didn't say that I thought your wife did any of that, that's not what I was saying----"

             Joaquin gently urges Dana back into the computer room, "Dana, it's o.k.---I know my wife does her share of looking----and fooling around----we have a very open relationship!”

            "You do?----I would never have guessed---your wife is always ----so proper---"

             Joaquin is inching himself closer to Dana and pushing her against the fax machine, "Dana---come on---get with it---quit fooling yourself!---Alex---is only human---we sometimes have other partners---don't tell me that you and your husband---don't swap?”

            Dana's eyes are about to pop out as she feels Joaquin's hand on her thigh, inching upwards, "Swap?---Are you serious?”

Joaquin backs up and rolls his eyes up in his head, "You mean---you and your husband don't---for Christ's sake, what is he--some kind of 'wuss? ----All married couples have swap parties, I thought you were on top of everything? But, you're not really into what's really going on, I'm out of here---you're wasting my time!”

"Wait" Dana pulls him back, "I can be 'into it' as you say----but---not here----someone might see us.”

              Joaquin smiles, "I like it dangerously--that's your problem Dana---you're afraid to take chances.”

Dana is swallowing hard as she stammers, Joaquin is pushing her back inside the computer room and closing the door.

"Couldn't we just go somewhere---like a motel?”

Joaquin is unbuttoning his pants, "I think you got it all wrong, I'm not out to service you---it's the other way around---and it will be here---not a damn motel room!---'Cause frankly I don't want to be seen with you---you're not exactly my type!”

            Dana has tears in her eyes, "Why are you talking to me like this, why are you being so mean?”

             Joaquin can feel his anger rising, he grabs Dana's face and then kisses her gently, "Dana, this is a part of the game---- aren't you tired of being treated with kid gloves---don't you  want it rough and exciting for a change? Or, do you even know what it feels like to be a real woman? Real women like it rough---it's a part of the game---come on----be nice---it will make you feel better---I promise!”

              Joaquin is pushing Dana down to the floor, she keeps looking up at him with frightened eyes, "Are you sure, no one will see us?”

             "Would it really matter, that's what makes it exciting---you better hurry up and decide, I'm losing my interest.”

            Dana whispers to herself, "Yeah, what would it matter---Ken doesn't like to do any of this---I'll show you just how exciting I can be.”

 

                                                **************************************************

 

Montgomery, Alabama

Marie Marteen has just received a call from her son, Charlie

"Charlie, are you o.k.?”

"Yeah, mama I'm fine---how are you feeling?”

            "Don't worry about me, did you find Walker?”

"I went to ranger headquarters and spoke with a female ranger---man, was she pretty----anyways she said that Ranger Walker is on vacation.”

"What about his partner, did you get to talk to him?”

"No, mama---his wife is having pregnancy problems, I went out to his place, he lives close to Walker---anyways, I just felt like I didn't need to intrude, not now. But, something is just not right."

            "What do you mean Charlie?”

"There's just something screwy about all of this, how can Walker have just left to go on vacation and Aunt Leire say that the man that is being held on that military base has been there for several days? The description fits Walker to a 'T"-----how can that be?”

            Marie shakes her head, "I don't know Charlie, but I've always heard that everyone has someone that looks like them---I read in some of the Dallas Times that Walker has been told repeatedly that he resembles that actor---what's his name?”

             "Actor? What actor are you referring to, mama---and how do you know all of this?”

"I can't think of his name---but wait----maybe that's it---maybe it's the actor that is being held captive and maybe they're making a movie or something and Leire has seen him and thinks it's Walker!”

             "Mama, I can't even imagine what you're talking about, and if that was true, don't you think Aunt Leire would know if she were in a movie?---Mama---someone was out to get her at that airport----have you heard from her?"

            "No son, I haven't. When are you coming back, I'm so worried that you won't get back in time to join your unit?  You'll be AWOL."

            "I'll be back soon enough, mama---I think I will go and talk to his partner, I'm sure that he can shed some light on what is going on, because there is definitely something wrong, I just can't put my finger on it.”

 

***********************************************

 

Walker ranch:

 

Alex keeps checking her fax.

"Damn, don't tell me this thing is on the blink again, I hope Walker hasn't been trying to work on it---that man knows absolutely nothing about computers!”

            She checks all the wiring again, she then calls her office and asks her secretary to fax her something, the machine is working just fine.

            "Well, maybe commander Briscoe’s secretary got busy and just hasn't been able to send it out yet----guess I will try to do some laundry while I'm waiting."

She looks around for the upstairs hamper and then she swears, "Walker---I told you to please bring the hamper down before you left---that man----he's  getting downright neglective in everything I have told him to do lately!”

She looks up the stairs and sighs, "Guess it's back upstairs again, I want to get the laundry done before Josie brings Angela home from the day/care.”

 

                                                 ********************************************************

          

New Orleans---2000

 

The Walkers have been enjoying a stroll through the streets of New Orleans and have stopped to listen to the sounds of a Reggae band, The music is upbeat and Alex is moving to it's rhythm, she looks back to her husband who is shaking his head.

"I can't believe the changes I have gone through just since meeting you."

"What do you mean?”

"Since I have known you, you have had me doing all sorts of things that I never dreamed I would be doing, not to mention the change in the music I've had to listen to. First, it was the horn of Kenny G, then the sounds of thunderstorms put to music, next it was the opera, my head is still spinning from all  that---and now it's reggae music, what's next, the Congo line?”

Alex giggles and throws her arms around the ranger's neck, "Oh honey, relax----you need a variety----in music that is" she adds.

He smiles and snaps his finger,  "Darn, and I had a good come back to that---but something tells me I'd better not pursue it.”

"You got that right, cowboy--I don't like sharing.”

"Speaking of sharing, I got something for you----and for the baby.”

She steps back as her husband reaches into his pocket and brings out a small box, "I didn't know if it would be a girl or a boy, so I just chose the obvious---gold."

Her mouth drops open as she sees the little booties on a gold chain with another gold ribbon around the top.

"Oh honey, it's beautiful---our first gift to our baby----little booties!" She throws her arms back around his neck and kisses him long and tender, the crowd that has gathered to watch the band have started clapping.

Walker sighs and tries to play it off without being embarrassed.

Alex pushes her bottom lip out in a pout, "Thank you honey---and our baby thanks you.”

"You're welcome, now can we please get something to eat---I'm starving!”

 

***************************************************************

          

Federal building:

 

Dana has finally made it back to her desk and the commander is wanting to know why she has taken so long to send the fax.

"The machine was broke up here, I had to go all the way down to the first floor!”

"That was almost half hour ago, did you get it sent out?”

"Yes sir, Mrs Walker should have it by now", Dana explains.

The man turns and goes back into his office, "Good!!---What else is going to go wrong today?---Dana----see if Ranger Walker is in the building, if he is---tell him to get his ass in my office ASAP!”

"Yes sir" she answers, trying to hide her smile. "Oh, he's definitely in the building and as for his ass----I didn't get to see too much of it, but what I felt---I liked. And, I will definitely get to see more of that ass---that's a promise!”

It's almost an hour later and Joaquin is on his way to the commander's office, he stops at Dana's desk and smiles, "You did o.k. kid---not quite what I'm used to, but you'll learn---with practice.”

Dana bites her bottom lip and runs her tongue back and forth, remembering his taste. She smiles back at him and visualizes the next time with the ranger, she'll be on the receiving end.

Joaquin saunters slowly into the commander's office, his boss is ready for him, his eyes bore into the bearded ranger.

"I'll make this quick and to the point because I have to see the mayor in exactly 20 minutes---I want to know if the allegations that ranger Cook has brought against you are true?”

"Allegations, what are you talking about?”

"Do not beat around the bush with me, Walker---did you make sexual advances towards her in the gym?”

Joaquin shakes his head, "Is that what she's calling it, sexual advances?”

"Well, what do you say that you tell me what it was, did you or didn't you grab Ranger Cook and kiss her and did you say obscene things to her?”

Joaquin grins, "If that's what she wants to call it, o.k.----I was just merely showing her some new techniques, and maybe----yeah----maybe I did kiss her, so what? She was coming on to me, guess she forgot to mention that part, huh?”

Briscoe takes a deep breath, I can't believe this, you're my best ranger, I've gotten complaints against you for how you handle your prisoners, but never a sexual complaint---Walker, was is it? Are you and Alex having problems, what is it?”

                Joaquin is tapping his hat against his leg, "Look, I stepped out of line and I thought that Syd was sending me a signal-----like the same ones she's always sending Gage and not coming through on them. She was flirting with me, commander, I flirted back-----what's the harm?”

"HARM?” Briscoe is yelling, "Ranger Cook has filed a sexual harassment against you and has asked for a transfer---that's the harm! I can't believe that you're not even going to deny it?”

             "What's the point, it happened! You've been there commander, do I have to remind you of that convention that you took last year----and that little waitress that you picked up in the bar downstairs? She was rather young, wasn't she? Almost the same age as your oldest daughter---- am I correct?”

Briscoe stares back at the beaded ranger, "How did you know about that?”

"I have ways of finding out things, but the point is----I didn't do anything that any red bloodied American male wouldn't have done if confronted with the same situation----so get off my back!”

Briscoe continues to stare at Joaquin, "This just doesn't sound like you Walker, you've always been so straight forward, you've never been a flirt---not openly anyways. Have you thought about how this will affect Alex, if she should find out?”

She doesn't have to find out, as long as you don't tell her!”

"I will not be intimidated by you or anyone else---I'll hand this over to internal affairs and they can run with it.----Now, I'm understanding why Alex is so worried about you, is it the damn pills?”

Joaquin's brow arches, "You've been talking to my wife?”

"Not about this, but Alex called earlier and wanted to know about the doctor and the pills you're suppose to be taking----hell, I didn't know anything about this till about an hour ago when Syd brought in her request for a transfer out of your department!”

"What kind of questions was Alex asking, what did you tell her?”

"I had your medical reports faxed to Alex, Dana just faxed them about half an hour ago. Walker---you have bigger problems to be worried about, I would think you would be more worried about these charges than whether or not Alex knows something you're not telling her about all this. And, what's the big idea of not seeing that doctor anymore?”

"I was just a misunderstanding, I just told her that, so she would stop asking me so many questions..”

Briscoe looks to his watch and sighs, "I got to get to the mayor's office, "Walker, would you please just try to watch your step---you're heading for serious trouble----you could be suspended---permantly!”

The commander leaves and Joaquin is smiling to himself.

"The plans are moving right along, a little faster than what I wanted, but making progress. I just wonder how Grady is doing at his end.”

Joaquin walks back to Dana's desk and stares at her, "How much did you hear?”

            She clears her throat, "It was pretty hard not to hear everything that was being said---but don't worry --I won't tell a soul about what was said in there, I promise!”

Joaquin leans over the desk and kisses Dana on the neck, "That's where you're wrong, I do want you to tell someone!”

             "Who?” She mumbles.

"I want the whole metropolis to know and what better source, than the DALLAS TIMES!”

 

**********************************************

          

Walker ranch:

                             

Alex is separating the wash, she sees Walker's red shirt mixed in with the whites.

"Walker, how many times have I told you not to mix the colors, we have a separate hamper for the whites-----what's this-----is this blood?”

Alex stares at the stain on the front of the red shirt, she rubs her fingers together and red stain rubs off on her fingers, "It is blood--------he must have cut himself when he was changing that flat tire.”

"Changing what flat tire, were are you mumbling about, pumpkin?”

Alex turns to see her Dad coming through to the laundry room with Angela in his arms.

Gordon is holding his granddaughter out to Alex, "Look what I found at the side of the road, hitchhiking!”

Alex is smiling and reaching for Angela, "Oh, did grandpa pick you up from day/care?----Oh Dad, you didn't have to do that.”

"I know I didn't have to, but I did----besides it saved Josie a trip coming all the way out here and having to drive back to Ft. Worth!”

Gordon is looking towards the laundry room and then back to his daughter, "Alexandra, don't tell me that you're doing laundry, I thought they were going to send someone out from that there cleaning service that you use sometime?”

Alex is sitting down with Angela and nibbling on her fingers, "I didn't call them dad, I can do it, I'm feeling much better.”

"You'll do no such thing, just tell me how much detergent to add and I'll do it!”

"No Dad, I'll do it---I have to put some stain remover on one of Walker's shirts to get some blood out---I'll do it later, so it can soak.”

"O.k. pumpkin, I'll make us some tea---oh by the way I just had the oddest conversation with your neighbour----Hank Ferguson!”

"Hank?  What about?”

"As I was pulling off highway 199, he flagged me down and asked if Ben Masters had been hanging around here!”

Alex frowns, "Ben Masters, why would he be coming around here, he and Walker despise each other?”

"That's what I thought, isn't he the same one that tried to buy some of Walker's land a few years back, especially that area down by the lake?”

"Yes, and Walker told him in no uncertain terms that he wouldn't sell that piece of land and least of all---not to him so that he could sell for commercial building. Besides, Walker and Hank share water rights, if Walker sold that land, Hank would have to take his livestock clear to the other side of 199 and that would mean fighting the traffic to get them over there!”

Gordon takes the tea to the table, "And, Walker would never do that, would he?”

            "No---never! Walker and Hank have shared those rights for some 30 years! Even though the land belongs to Walker, Walker told Hank that as long as he was alive that his livestock could graze and drink from those stock ponds forever. Why do you think that Ben Masters is still interested in that part of Walker's land?”

"Don't know, pumpkin---Hank just said that one of Master's henchman was asking questions and Hank was getting mighty nervous about the direction of those questions.”

"Hank has nothing to worry about, Walker will never sell that land, and certainly not to Ben Masters----Dad, would you take Angela, I hear my fax machine beeping?”


                                     **********************************************

          

Montgomery, Alabama:

 

Marie is now talking to Leire.

            "I told you, Leire, I don't know where Charlie is!”

"I know that you do, I know that Charlie would be there with you, I have to talk to him, it's important!”

Marie is hesitating, "What's wrong now, what kind of trouble are you trying to get Charlie mixed up in now?”

"Marie---listen to me, I may not be able to repeat this, I'm being watched---tell Charlie not to go near his friend!”

"You mean----Walker? Why?”

"Where is he, Marie---please don't tell me that he has gone to Dallas!”

Marie finally tells Leire of Charlie's trip to Dallas and that he is waiting to talk to Trivette.

"Oh no---I was afraid of this, Marie--when Charlie calls back, tell him to stay away from his friend and Trivette, because I don't know how involved his partner might be in all of this!”

"What are you not telling me, is Charlie in danger?”

"All I can tell you is that this friend that is in Dallas---may not be who Charlie thinks he is.”

"Charlie and I talked about that and there is no way that Walker can be in two places at once----it's that actor that you have seen in that hospital, Walker is on vacation!”

"What actor? Who are you talking about?”

"That actor that Walker is always being told that he looks like, some people have said they look like twins.”

"And, what would be this actor's name?”

"I don't know, I can't remember it----uh Chuck Connors----no, he was The Rifleman, uh----Norris----Chuck Norris that's who he is! That's who is in that hospital, not Walker, don't you see this Norris guy looks so much like Walker or vice versa---and he's just doing a movie---that's who you saw!”

Leire looks down at the picture of Joaquin, she takes a deep breath, "No, Marie---listen to me closely, this man is an impostor that is in Dallas---Walker is---or rather was in that hospital, I have proof in my hands.---They have done plastic surgery on this man, he's called JOAQUIN---and he is in Dallas---impersonating Walker!”

Marie is shaking, thinking about the danger that Charlie could be in, "No, you're wrong-----they're doing a movie----it's not Walker---he's on vacation!”

"Marie, I know you're scared and so am I, I need to find Charlie, where exactly did he go, and when did you talk to him last?”

"He said he was going to talk to Walker's partner, he lives close to where Walker lives---that was about 2 hours ago!”

"What's his cell phone number?”


 Chapter 1
3

"Marie, did you hear what I said? I need Charlie's cell number!”

"He doesn't have a cell, he was calling from the phone in his motel room.”

"That's even better, where is he staying? Surely he left you a number to call him back.”

Marie hesitates, "Yes, but I'm not sure I should give you his number, what kind of danger is my boy in, why did you have to get him involved in all of this?”

Leire takes a deep breath, "Marie, you and Charlie have been involved in all of this ever since you took the drug money that ranger gave to you!  Now, whether or not you like it, you're still involved and Ferris Clayton will find out where you are, and Charlie----now tell me---where is Charlie?”

Marie's hands are trembling as she retrieves the paper with Charlie's phone number and the name of the motel.

"I'm still not sure about this---you better be telling the truth that you're trying to help Charlie, or so help me---I will find you after I get out of this stinking hospital and I will-----"

"Marie---we're wasting time!!! I would never hurt Charlie----or you---please give me the phone number!”

Charlie's Mother reluctantly  gives Leire the information she has requested and then she starts crying.

 

              ************************************************************************************

          

Walker ranch:

 

Alex has read the fax and she's completely confused.

"There is no mention of any kind of pills that Walker is taking, except for Cymbalta, that's it?----What is the doctor's name------Brooking? Now, where have I heard that name before?”

"PUMPKIN----I just got a phone call from Rita---some vandals have hit my boat, I got to get back to Houston!” Gordon is panting as he's throwing some things in his bag.

Alex looks up from the fax machine, "Oh Daddy, I am so sorry---you got to go---now?”

"Yes, I called the airport, my flight leaves in less than an hour---I'm sorry Alexandra, I got to go!”

Alex frowns, "Dad, you're not fooling anyone, you're just anxious to get back to Rita, aren't you?”

"But, my boat----"

"That boat is heavily insured, the boat is not your main concern, is it?”

Gordon mumbles, "No-----I guess when you get my age, you can't exactly pick your companions, can you?”

Alex shakes her head slowly, "Dad, I just want you to be happy---and if this Rita is the one that makes you happy, then I wish you all the best.”

"Thank you pumpkin, I just looked in on Angela, she's sleeping sound---so I'll be going.”

Alex stands up to hug her Father, "Bye Daddy---call me as soon as you can---o.k.?”

Gordon is walking out the door as Joaquin is walking in, carrying a paper bag.

"Where you going?”

Gordon rattles off that he has to go to the airport and then he's out the door. Alex is slowly walking into the front room, she sees the bag.

"What's in the bag?”

Joaquin looks to his 'wife' and snaps, "Whiskey---you got a problem with that?”

"Whiskey?----Walker, have you drank all of that whiskey that was in the cellar---and the beer too?”

"So, what if I have? Doesn't a man have the right to drink what he wants to in his own house?”

Alex's temper is starting to rise, "Would you please stop talking to me in that tone of voice?”

"Then stop asking me so many damn questions---alright?”

Alex is still holding the fax papers, "I will ask you as many questions as I feel like asking, where your attitude and your health are concerned!”

Joaquin stomps to the refrigerator and grabs some ice for his drink, then he throws it in the sink and grabs the whiskey bottle, drinking it straight. Alex is staring back at him.

"Let me tell you something, lawyer lady---you will not ask me anymore questions, I'm not in one of your court rooms----got that?”

Alex is almost in tears as she walks towards her 'husband'-----"Walker, honey----sit down and let's talk this out----I know that it's not the pills that are affecting you, because this report says---there are no pills---except for Cymbalta!”!

"Oh yes, that's something else I found out that you called commander Briscoe and started asking him questions about me", Joaquin is gritting his teeth.

"Only because when I have asked you, you won't tell me anything!”

"Maybe----maybe----it's not any of your business, Alex----did you ever think of that?”

Alex has to sit down, she looks back to her husband through tears, "You are my business, Walker---and you're scaring me with all of these outbursts of anger----you've never talked to me like this before-----so----if it's not the medicine---then it's something else!”

Joaquin belches and drinks some more from the bottle, he looks back to Alex, "Now what is it?”

Alex takes a deep breath, then clears her throat, "Are you seeing  someone, I want the truth?”

"So, that's it---just because I don't answer all of your snoopy little questions---then I'm seeing another woman---is that what you want to hear?”

"I just want the truth----if you have met someone, then just tell me---and stop treating me this way---I will not stand for it!!! I've already been through one abusive marriage----I will not go through another one---with you!”

Joaquin has finished the whiskey bottle and looking in the refrigerator for some beer, "Where's the damn beer?”

"Stop trying to change the subject---are you having a affair?”

Joaquin walks towards Alex slowly, he grabs her by the neck, "What if I am?   What do you plan to do it about it?-----Nothing----because----I am being denied my rights as a loving husband----that's grounds for adultery, isn't it---lawyer lady?”

"Is that why you're so irritable" Alex is trying to talk, ---"because we can't have sex?”

Joaquin releases his grip and stands back-----"Some men have had a lesser excuse.”

Alex grabs her neck, "I can't believe that you could be so shallow-----you have never behaved like this---not even when I was pregnant with Angela----you always understood---what has changed you, Walker?”

Joaquin is now pacing, "Maybe I'm just tired of doing without-----there are other ways that you can keep me satisfied----and it wouldn't hurt you.”

Alex is shaking her head, she's getting angrier, "There is no way that I would humble myself to just satisfy your sexual demands-----and I will not sit here and be further humiliated.”

Alex is rising from her chair and Joaquin grabs her by the shoulder, --"Wait, Alex----I'm sorry baby----I didn't mean to sound so gruff with you.”

Joaquin's hand is squeezing Alex's shoulder, "Walker, you’re hurting me----please let go!”

He pulls his hand away quickly, "I'm sorry---Alex---I'm sorry. Sit back  down, I'll make you some tea, o.k. honey?”

Alex is gritting her teeth, "I don't want any tea----I want some answers---are you seeing someone else?”

"No honey----there is  no other woman!---I'm just under a lot of pressure---that stupid doctor----he wants to prescribe some more medicine.”

"What kind of medicine, Walker, what does he want you to take?---And that's another thing---who is this Doctor Brooking?”

"He's my quack of a Doctor, Alex, I thought we established that?”

Alex looks down at the fax and then she throws them at her husband, "Michael Brooking is your psychiatrist, the same Michael Brooking that was in Viet Nam with you?”

"Yeah" Joaquin answers slowly, "What about it?”

"Honey---you have always said, you couldn't stand that man!  And now, he's your psychiatrist?”

Joaquin is confused, how does she know about Brooking?

"Alex, when did I tell you anything about Brooking?”

"It was one of the few times that you ever talked about 'Nam---but I  remembered what you said about him----being a psychotic nut---and you're letting him treat you?”

"See?” Joaquin shrugs and tries to make a joke of it, "He's still nutty, he's just got a professional title to go with his name!”

"I don't see the humor in any of this---honey---would you please see someone else, someone in Dallas?”

"No, Alex----I will not see a different quack and have to go through all of this crap explaining my flashbacks, and the reasons behind them!  Listening to some quack make snide remarks that "maybe I was in love with my Mother' and all of that other hogwash that them quacks use, because they don't know what the hell they're doing in the first place!”

"They are not all like that, Walker---please---I will go with you-----"

            "I'm a big boy Alex, I don't need you going to the doctor with me and holding my hand!!!”

Alex's back is acting up, she tries to get up from the chair, she reaches out for Joaquin's hand, he just stares at her. Finally he reaches out and helps her up.

"I don't want to argue with you anymore, I'm going up and lying down for while, would you keep an eye on Angela?”

"Yeah, yeah----I'll keep an eye on her, is she asleep?”

"Yes, but she should be waking up soon. I've got to take some pain pills---for my back.”      

Joaquin exhales as he watches Alex move slowly up the stairs, he smiles to himself.

"Grady would have been so proud of my performance just now---hell---maybe I should have been a actor!!!”

 

*****************************************************************************

          

The bayou:

 

Walker has just endured another round of torture from Brooking, he gives him just enough electrical volts to render him almost unconscious and then he starts up again.

Twilah is bathing Walker's forehead with a wet cloth, "Hey handsome, are you ready to stop all of this nonsense and let's have a little fun, before Michael gives you so many volts that you can't get it up?”

Duane is snickering as he looks to Michael. "Damn---That sister of mine is so damn horny that if that ranger doesn't return her attentions soon---she's gonna rape the guy!”

"The slut" murmurs Michael, "she never could get enough!”

Duane is drooling at the mouth, "Do I get to watch, like---with you and old Ferris 'banging' her at the same time?”

"Whatever turns you on, you sicko!”

"No call for you to talk to me like that! I seem to recall you liked being the observer too---like when Ferris' sons all took turns with her--even that 'idiot son' what was his name, Rufus? I seem to recall the others telling and showing him how to do it---the moron!”

"Whatever!” Mumbles Michael---"We've got to take a trip into the next town---and see about getting the limo traded off for something less conspicuous----then I got to contact Grady and see how much more time I have with my little 'friend', Captain Walker.”

Duane looks towards his sister and grins, "Think we can trust you enough not to rape the poor guy while we're gone sis?”

"I'm not promising anything, brother dear.”

She walks out to the car and watches as the two men drive away, she turns back towards the old shed. A chill goes up her spine as she looks to the swamp She has an un easy feeling that she’s being watched.

Walker can hear their voices as he fights to regain his alertness. He can hear a woman's voice, a softer voice,

 

******

 

"Walker, honey----come on wake up---you going to sleep all morning?”

He's rolling over and he sees her smiling down at him, "I'm trying to get some sleep Alex, because you keep wearing me out!”

"Am I hearing a complaint?” She giggles as she straddles his midsection, "You better retract that statement cowboy----or I will be forced to have my way with you---I will 'ravish' you.”

He's smiling and pulling her up to him, kissing her long and tender.

"Counsellor, you can 'ravish' me all you want---but right now, I need nourishment----I need food so I can be on this two way street too!”

She pushes her bottom lip out in a pout, "O.k. I guess I'll let you eat---but let's not go out to a restaurant, let's stay here and have room service!”

Walker shakes his head, "Alex----you're a  nymph----I think I've told you that before----and I love it.”

"Hey---I want every available moment with you, we don't get much time to ourselves and I know when we get back to Dallas, we'll have even less time together----and I hate that!”

"Well, you can always remedy that---you can quit your job and stay home!”

"No way, cowboy----I love my job, I just don't like the time we have to spend away from each other. Besides, I want to get some cases cleared up before this baby is born.”

"You just remember what you said about cutting back, I don't want you tiring yourself out, you've got a life inside you to worry about---you got to take it easy. Remember, the first trimester of a pregnancy is the most vulnerable for a miscarriage!”

She smiles and kisses him softly, "Thank you doctor Walker---for telling me that valuable information-----I didn't know that!”

"I just want you to be careful hon." He touches her stomach, "I want you to have a healthy delivery and I want our baby to be healthy.”

"Walker,---I am not doing anything to jeopardize this baby-----"

"I know that hon., I didn't mean that the way it sounded"

"Honey, would you just relax and stop worrying about 'us'--goodness the way you're worrying, I'm worried that you won't make it to the delivery room!”

"You don't have to worry about that, I plan to be in the delivery room to cut my baby's umbilical cord!”

 

*******************************************************************

 

Dallas, Texas - River Oaks Motel

 

            Charlie has just returned from getting something to eat, his phone is ringing.

"Charlie, is that you, it's Leire!”

"Hi Aunt Leire,, I was hoping to hear from you, have you heard anything new?”

"No, not exactly---Charlie, what is this nonsense about an actor being the man I saw in that hospital, what was your Mother mumbling about?”

"My mama seems to think that actor is doing a movie down there, the one that looks so much like Walker!”

"What actor?”

"Chuck Norris----a lot of people have said that he and Walker look enough like each other to be twins, so my mama says!”

"Charlie, I've never even heard of this guy you mentioned---but I do know that----the man that I saw in that old hangar that they are using for a hospital is a Texas Ranger---and his name is Cordell Walker!”

"That can't be, Aunt Leire---"

"It's true, Charlie, I have the proof right here in my hands----and the man that is in Dallas---is----an impostor!”

Charlie stares back at the phone, "IMPOSTOR?----Are you sure?”

"Yes, the man's name is Joaquin LeBeau and he's undergone surgery to look like your friend!”

"But-----why?”

"Oh you can be sure that Clayton is at the bottom of all of this, I just haven't figured out exactly what.  Charlie, who all have you talked to since you've been there, have you talked to your friend's partner yet?”

"No ma'am---only a lady ranger and she's the one that said Walker was on vacation, Trivette is having personal problems, his wife is due to have a baby. Almost any day I guess!”

Leire is pondering what to say or do next.

"Aunt Leire, what do we do, do we tell Walker's wife, now I have to talk to his partner and tell him-----"

"No, Charlie---you can't say anything just yet---we don't know who all is involved!”

"Involved in what?”

"Charlie, aren't you listening?---Son, this is BIG---it's more than just a kidnapping-----there are other patients in that hangar and God knows where else on the base they might be----Brooking has already killed two of my co-workers!”

"Killed?---Oh my God----is mama in any danger?”

"I don't know, I don't think so----Brooking thought he had killed me---but I got away from that terminal.”

"Those two men that were after you, was one of them was this Brooking?”

            "No, the s.o.b. is too chicken to try and come after me, he just sends someone else to do his dirty work!”

"Aunt Leire, I don't like the sound of any of this---it's too JAMES BOND for me!!!”

"Charlie, you can't bail out on me now---I need you!! Your friend needs you, are you going to just away and pretend that you know nothing about this?”

"No, what kind of friend would I be if I turned tail and ran, not after all that he did for me and mama.---Just tell me what to do!”

"I'm coming to Dallas---in the meantime---stay put---and don't go near Walker's wife---or his partner---understood?”

 

***********************************************

                                  

Walker ranch:

 

Alex is taking a shower to  relax her back pains, as the warm water splashes on her soft skin, she begins to cry.

"Walker, what happened?----Everything was just fine between us before you went down to Louisiana to be on that witness protection program, what could have possibly changed you in that length of time?  This is not you, never have you ever talked to me this way and said the things you have said. Another woman?----There has never been any indication that you were interested in another woman, I thought you loved me?---I thought we had the perfect marriage???--" She sobs harder.

"I can't stand the thought of you being with another woman---I won't accept it----I won't!---I won't!” She begins hitting the shower wall.

She exits the shower slowly, and clutches her hand to her body and grimaces.

"Damn it, I'm stronger than this---I am my own woman----and if he wants----another woman---I will not stand in his way----I will not make the same mistake with Walker that I did with my ex-husband.”

She wraps the bath towel around her and stands in front of the mirror, she is being watched---by Joaquin.

Even through the towel, he can see every curve of her sexy body. He can feel the urge in his pants and the effect of the whiskey taking over. He's breathing hard as she begins to brush her blonde hair and with her every move his body is getting harder. He curses to himself.

"No more games-----I'm taking what is mine----now!”

He moves forward and then Angela starts to cry and then the phone rings.

Alex starts to move to the nursery and then sees Joaquin, "Walker---would you please get our daughter, while I get the phone?”

Alex answers the phone as she watches Joaquin stomp to the nursery, Angela is still crying as Joaquin screams back at Angela to shut up!”

Alex slams the phone down, not waiting to see who is on the other end.

"Walker!----Don't you dare yell at her that way!!!---What the hell is wrong with you?”

Joaquin throws his hands up in the air, "Just shut that kid up----I'm so tired of her crying all the time!”

Alex grabs Angela and the bath towel falls away from Alex's body, and Joaquin is just staring at her nakedness. A chill goes through Alex as she stares back at her 'husband' and the look in his eyes.

            The phone begins ringing again as Joaquin just stares, Alex holds Angela tighter and starts moving towards the master bedroom..

"Walker, would you please answer the damn phone?”

It's like the man has come out of a trance, he waves her off, "I don't have time to answer any damn phone---answer it yourself----I'm going to the gym!”

Alex is still trying to quiet her daughter as she answers the phone.

"Alex?---Alex, it's me, Sandi Blancett!”

Alex sighs, she is in no mood to talk, "Sandi, I can't talk right now, Angela is cranky----it's a bad time.”

"I'm sorry to have bothered you, but I was just wondering---have Bill and I done something to offend you and Walker?”

"What?----Of course not----why do you ask that?”

"Because whenever you and Walker are in Wichita Falls, you never fail to drop by the restaurant!”

"Sandi, Walker and I have been intending to drop by and visit you, but we just haven't had the chance---"

"But, Alex---the two of you were right here, why didn't you acknowledge me when I waved at you?”

"Waved at me, when? What are you talking about?”

"Now I know we've done something wrong, why were you avoiding us?  What did we do?”

"Sandi, I haven't a clue as to what you're talking about.”

"Do you deny that you and Walker were here in the Falls last Friday night?”

"No, Sandi---we weren't there, I was in the hospital, I was involved in a wreck----and Walker was here at the ranch----sleeping."

"But, Bill swore up and down that was Walker's Dodge that was in front of us on Southwest parkway---he tried to get along to the side of you guys and he honked and honked, Walker never even looked in our direction---and you------''

Angela's cries have ceased and Alex is laying her down on the bed---"And what----what did I do, Sandi?” She asks cautiously.

There's a long hesitation, "Maybe---I've said too much----Alex----I don't mean to stir up a hornets' nest----but I could have swore that was you----I just thought you had done something----to your hair-----it looked darker!”

Alex is trying to brace herself for the next question, "You saw me and Walker in Wichita Falls last Friday----and you thought the woman beside him----was me?”

"Alex----it was you, wasn't it?”

"No Sandi, it wasn't me, are you positive that was Walker's truck?”

"I'm sure Alex, and you how Bill is about automobiles---that was Walker's truck----Bill would know that truck anywhere!”

"And, what time was this?”

"About 11'oclock, we had just closed the restaurant and was heading home when we saw---you guys-----I mean the truck----Alex----is there something you're not telling me?”

"Sandi, you're a good friend and I will call you back when I can get all of this straightened out----but right now----I can't talk---bye Sandi!”!

Alex hangs up the phone and then the tears begin to fall, "It is true, Walker is seeing someone else----and while I was in the hospital!----How could I be so stupid?”

 

Chapter 14

 

The Bayou:

 

            Walker has listened to the sounds of his captors, and has felt the woman's hands, massaging him.

He tries to remain still, trying not to show any emotion as the woman's hands began to caress his midsection, he knows that the hands are not familiar. He tries to put his mind back to happier times as he can hear a familiar voice and a little giggle that he has grown to love so well.

They are in the shower and Walker is washing Alex's back, and letting his free hand to do some exploring.

"That's gonna cost you cowboy, remember how refreshed I always get after one of your back rubs!”

"I'm counting on it", as he reaches down to nibble on her neck, making her squeal. "Wanna a 'hickey?”

"No, don't you dare---well maybe not quite so high up. I have to go to that meeting in a couple of hours, I don't want everyone seeing a hickey on my neck.”

"O.k.",  he continues to kiss her neck gently and pulling her hair back over her shoulder, "have I told you today how much I love you, Mrs Walker?”

She smiles and pulls away from him, going back into his arms, "Yes you have, but you can tell me again--I love it when I have your undivided attention!----You can be so romantic when you want to be.”

He kisses her gently, letting his forefinger glide across her lips---"I just want you to enjoy this little vacation, you've been working so hard.”

"You too" she squeezes him tighter, "we haven't had a vacation since our honeymoon.”

"Yep, long overdue----Alex I think I hear your phone ringing.”

I didn't hear anything----yes---it is ringing----let it ring---I'm not getting out of your arms!”

"What time is your lawyer's meeting?”

"About 2'oclock----why? She asks teasingly.

"Because," he bends down and picks her up bodily and begins stepping out of the shower, "I think we have some unfinished business to take care of, if that damn phone will ever stop ringing!”

"I'll take care of it!” She slips down out of his arms, goes to the phone, picks up the receiver and lets it fall to the floor. She then crooks her index finger and bites her bottom lip in a seductive manner.

"Come here cowboy---- I wanna play nurse and you're due for a physical.”

He walks slowly towards the bed, the water still dripping from his body. Alex takes a deep breath, "Damn---you're built good----your body has always driven me crazy----oh cowboy---this physical may take awhile----I want to inspect every inch.”

He's on the bed now and inching closer to her, he reaches out and grabs her legs, pulling her to him, he shakes his head back and forth and the water goes all over her. She's screaming for him to stop, but not really wanting him to.

"Not this time---I'm going first----because when you get started, I hardly have any energy left.---So, just lay back and relax-----I'm examining you first----every inch.”

Walker can feel her body as he pulls her into him, kissing her milky flesh, he can feel her shutter at his touch, their breathing is getting heavier and then he feels something going over his mouth. He feels like he's being suffocated and that smell is there-Cigarettes!

He's coughing and moving his head trying to get away from the pressure being put on his chest and the weight is getting heavier. He's fighting with every ounce, he can still feel the pain from the electric cables, but this is a new kind of pain, and he wants the pressure off of him. He makes a final attempt and then he hears a woman screaming back at him.

"You son of a bitch---watch it!”

Twilah is picking herself up from the floor, still swearing.

"So----it's going to be the rough way, huh handsome?”

Walker is trying to focus on the woman, he sees her coming closer, and his nostrils pick up the scent again.

"Stay----away--from me----get back"

"I told you Mr. Ranger---you and I are going to get acquainted---one way or another---so you best just lay back and enjoy it!” She reaches for the straps again to tighten his hands, and then she tightens the ankle straps again. She stands back and looks down on him, smiling and wetting her lips.

She begins undressing and letting her clothes fall to the floor, she moves towards Walker slowly, letting his eyes take in her whole body. She glides her hands down over her hips and asks slowly.

"Like what you see handsome?--I see you're taking every inch of me in-----and liking what you see.----Tell me ranger----is your wife built as good as me?  Or, has she become an old married woman, and now the breasts are sagging after having some kid nurse on them?---Feel my breasts, ranger!”

She reaches out for his hand and forces it up against her, he's fighting to pull his hand away.

She laughs, "You just think you want to pull your hand away, but before we're through, you'll be putting your hands all over my body.”

Walker is shaking his head; his head is spinning from the after shock of Michael's treatment. "No------get away------leave me--be.”

"Too late handsome, you've had me all hot and bothered ever since I laid eyes on you in that witness program. We could have split the sheets then, if you hadn't been so damn stubborn. The way you looked in those tight fitting jeans gave me several nights of wet dreams, and if it hadn't been for my little 'friend'--helping me to get through those long nights, I would have tried to seduce you earlier. And, if it hadn't been for that damn roommate of yours, I would have made my way to your room, since you wouldn't come to mine!”

The woman is now reaching down to Walker's groin area and un-doing his belt buckle, he keeps squirming to get away from her prying hands and then he stops. He forces a smile.

"Let me loose-----so we can----both enjoy it!”

"Good try, handsome, but no---I know better than to let you loose---Michael would kill me!”

The woman has now got his pants undone and she's pulling them down to his knees, she continues to observe his body.

"You have one hell of a body---not muscle popping like that Scgwarzeneggerr fellow---but just a damn solid body that I can't wait to feel against mine." She reaches out for his groin area and slips her hand inside his briefs finding his man hood and stroking it.

The ranger jerks at the touch of her hand and the fingers tightening around him. He takes a deep breath, trying to put his thoughts somewhere else and then he can feel her climbing on top of him. He starts to jerk as hard as he can, moving his body sideways, and visualizing that he's trying to stay on a 2500 Brahma bull. Twilah is having a hard time holding onto him as his body is still trying to come out from under her. The old table is starting to give way as Twilah's body is desperately trying to hold Walker inside her.

"Get----off me----you bitch----"

She reaches out and slaps him hard, "Wanna it rough, ranger?" She pants---"I can get rough too---- and you better calm down cause I got the upper hand! You could say I got your life in the palm of my hand, not to mention what I can do with my mouth----my teeth---are you hearing me, ranger?” She begins to pump him.

With one final jerk, the table breaks away and Walker and Twilah go tumbling into the floor, one of the leather straps that was holding Walker's right ankle has come loose, and Twilah is desperately trying to re-tie it. Walker kicks out and Twilah catches his foot under her chin, she goes flying backwards.

Twilah is swearing and running back to the ranger to make another attempt to tie his leg, he kicks her again.

Twilah stands up and stares back at Walker, "Wanna play games, Mr Ranger---I'll play games with you!” She runs to the generator and begins plugging the cables back in, she touches them and sparks fly.

"See that, handsome, that's your destiny calling---I'll show you what happens when I don't get my way!" She jabs Walker with the battery cables and his whole body starts to jerk.

"How's that ranger, does it feel good?---That's how your foot felt up against my chin----want some more?”

The onslaught goes on for several minutes, and Walker is losing conscious, he takes a deep breath and then he's out. Twilah stands over him and nudges him lightly with her foot, there is no movement.

"Oh great----he's out cold and now I'm left with trying to get this mess cleaned up before Michael sees it! Damn it ranger--why couldn't you have just cooperated, I'm sure you would have enjoyed it!”

The ranger's mind is racing, his body is bruised and every bone in his body is hurting. He can feel his head spinning and the ringing sound between his ears, and then he feels the coolness of a wet rag across his brow and the smell----of lilacs.

"Alex?”

"Yes honey, I'm here----just lie still---you'll be o.k."

"What happened?” He tries to ask.

A gruff voice answers, "You got hit in the head, Cordell----that damn bull almost killed you!”

Another man's voice answers, "Think it taught him anything, big dog?"

"Hell no----he ain't gonna stay off of them bulls---it's in his blood! --Cordell---you o.k. son?”

The woman's voice is soft, but stern, "He'll be o.k. if you two will stop screaming in his ears----Walker, sweetheart---are you o.k.?”

Walker is smiling as he feels her soft hand across his face, "I am now. -Alex---it hurts.”

"What hurts?”

Walker is trying to laugh, "My pride----I think I fell on my pride.”

Alex's brow arches as she looks back to their two dear friends, "What does he mean he fell on his pride?”

Both C.D. and Trivette cover their mouths and begin to laugh, "Well, if you don't know, sweetheart---we're not gonna tell you!!!”

*******************************************************************************

 

Breckenridge:

 

Gage has decided to take Gus, the witness back to Dallas, and let him look at the books there on sports cars.

They have just entered the city limits of Dallas and Gus is shaking his head.

"I'm sorry young fellow, but none of those books didn't have anything to resemble the kind of car I saw that man in. I thought I could recognize it----but after awhile, they all look the same!”

"It's o.k. Gus, the books at the ranger headquarters are bigger! If the sports car you saw is there, we'll find it!”

"I hope so, I really want to help you. Hey where is that pretty partner of yours?”

Gage sighs, "She had something she had to do---something personal.”

The old man grins, "You're kind of sweet on that young lady, aren't you?”

The tall ranger smiles, "Can't put nothing past you, can I, Gus? Is it that obvious?”

The old man giggles, "Yep----and if you didn't have the hots for that young lady, then I would say you was one of those 'funny people own sex----don't have no use for those kind-------there it is----that's it!!!”

Gage slams on his brakes, "What?---What did you see?”

The old man is turning in his seat and looking back, "There----at that car lot back there---that's the car!!!”

"Are you sure, the same car that you saw at the truck stop?”

"Yes, would you hurry up and turn around-----that's the car!”

Gage turns his flashing lights on and makes a U-turn down LBJ freeway, they pull into the World Imports Auto centre and Gus is yelling at Gage.

"On the other side---it's on the other side----there, there it is!”

The ranger sees a bright red Porsche staring back at him, his brows go up in disbelief.

"Is this the car you saw, are you sure?”

"Yes, I think so, can we get a better look?”

The two men are looking at the sports car; a salesman is on his way out to them and begins his sales pitch.

Gage watches the old man as he goes all around the sports car, scratching his cheek and nodding his head. The sales man is looking at Gage curiously, "Don't you think that your Father is a little old for such a car---that Porsche 911 is way too fast for him---but now---you would make the perfect candidate to sit behind that wheel----cruising down I-30---90mph!!!”

Gage shows the man his badge, "This is a police matter---this car could have been involved in a homicide.”

The salesman starts to stutter as Gus walks back up to the tall ranger.

"This is the one ranger---I would almost swear to it!”

"Good enough for me," he turns to the salesman, "I need to see this car's information sheet and the name of it's last owner!”

"But, officer----this car has only been back on the lot since----early this morning. We just got it cleaned up, and was getting ready to put it back on the show room floor.”

"I need to see those papers and I need to see them- now!”

The salesman grumbles and starts back to his office. Gage turns to Gus, "O.k. we have identified the type of car that it is, and I know for a fact that there are not too many of this type of model, not here in this metropolis!”

Gus looks at the car and tries to whistle, "It sure is pretty---and expensive, huh?”

"Yeah Gus, real expensive---around  $100,000 new!”

"Holy crap---you don't say!---Really?”

"Yep, I know" the ranger sighs,---"I've priced them----hoping someday to have one of these beauties, but I sure can't afford one on a ranger's pay!”

"Then how do you expect to get one, by winning the lottery?”

The salesman is coming back with the paperwork, and Gage sighs, "That's the only way I could ever afford one!”

Gage is looking over the papers, "It says here that the car was bought on Saturday morning---and then it was returned this morning, why? What's wrong with it?”

"Beats me, I wasn't the one that sold it---Marvin over there is the one that sold it, said the man's wife threw a fit and made him bring it back!”

The salesman calls Marvin over to them and Gage starts asking him questions.

"Yeah, I remember the man---is this some sort of joke? Like dump on Marvin week?”

"What do you mean?”

Marvin stares back at Gage, "It was one of your own that bought the car?”

"A law officer?” Gage stares at Gus and the old man groans.

"Don't tell me that one of those idiot policemen in Breckenridge came all the way up here to buy a fancy car?” Gus grumbles.

"Do you have the sales slip?” Asks Gage

"Yeah, I have the sales slip--it's right here.”

Marvin hands the papers to Gage, and he just stares at the signature at the bottom, his face goes white, he stares back at Marvin.

"Are you sure about this?” Gage points to the signature, "This is the person that bought this car

"Yeah" the man replies, "but his wife didn't like it, made him bring it back----I told him he would lose most of the security check he put down on it----didn't seem to faze him any!”

Gus is staring at Gage, "What's wrong young fellow, you look as though you saw a ghost?”

Gage shakes his head, "There's got to be a mistake, this can't be. ---You said that the car had to be cleaned up----why?”

"Because it was dirty and it stunk to high heaven from cigarettes!”

Gus's eyes light up, "I told you this was the car----the cigarettes---that proves it!”

Gage breathes a sigh of relief, "Then it couldn't have been him---he doesn't smoke.”

"Who doesn't smoke?” Asks the salesman.

Gus is getting impatient, "I told you that the man that sat in this fancy car kept throwing his cigarette butts out on the ground and I had to clean that crap up.”

"O.k.----describe the man that bought this car!”

"I don't have to, see his picture is on the news all the time about how he catches the bad guys---I told you---he's one of you---he's a Texas Ranger----Cordell Walker!!!”

Gage backs up slowly, and shakes his head again, "There's got to be an explanation for this----maybe the car was bought for someone else----and this ranger just co-signed for it.”

"All I can tell you ranger is this: This Walker fellow came in early Saturday morning and he said he was going to surprise his wife with a sports car---that her own car had been demolished in a car wreck a couple of days ago---he said the car was for her!!!”

Gage starts pacing and then he gets on his cell phone and calls for the impound.  The salesmen start grumbling and Gage waves them off.

"This car is to be impounded and the lab people will be going over it with a fine tooth comb----in the meantime you are both to say nothing about this Investigation---are we clear?”

Gage starts walking back to his car, Gus follows him slowly.

"I don't understand young fellow, do you know this person that those salesmen identified?---Is he a ranger---like you?”

"Yeah Gus---one of the best. Ranger Cordell Walker is the best damn ranger in the whole state of Texas! I can't believe that he's mixed up in this---there's got be an explanation----there's got to be!”

 

***************************************************************

 

Dallas, Texas

 

Leire has found Charlie and they are discussing what to do.

"You said not to go near Walker's wife, or his partner, so what else can we do?  We have to tell someone!”

"I know Charlie, but it's so hard to trust anyone."

"Surely, we can trust his wife and his best friend!”

"I told you, Charlie, this is more than just a kidnapping---and we don't know how involved these people are, they could have been behind Walker's kidnapping.”

Charlie runs his fingers through his blond hair, "I don't know, Aunt Leire, this is getting to be so spooky---we can't just sit back and do nothing!  We have to 'feel' these people out and find how just how involved they are. What purpose would they serve in kidnapping Walker, and why do you keep saying it's more than a kidnapping?”

"Because of the other patients that are being held on that base and in that hangar----they are being tortured and it's all because of the torture they endured while being POWS, this son-of a bitch---Brooking believes that he can cure them by taking them back to those prisons in body and soul---and  torturing them all over again!”

"That's sick, what kind of reasoning is that and how is he getting away with it? And, why Walker, was he a POW too?”

"He's getting away with it because certain people in the CIA and other government fields are turning their heads. They don't want to admit that there were more POWs in those prison camps that were not accounted for. They just listed them as KIA, their families are notified and then they close the books on them! As for your friend, Walker, yes---I assume he was a POW because of the hatred that Brooking has for him!”

“I don't follow you, Aunt Leire, why does he hate him so?”

"I don't have time to go into all that, Charlie, all I know is that Brooking has a certain hatred for your friend stemming back to what happened in Saigon---that's all I know!”

Charlie hesitates, "But, Aunt Leire, you've had to have seen other patients that were being tortured like you said, why are you trying to help Walker?”

Leire shakes her head, "Maybe I'm just tired of standing by and doing nothing---and the first time that I saw your friend, there was something about him that put me in mind of my father-----and I felt I had to do something! Then I got to thinking that it was time for my retirement and I had it all worked out, I was going up to Nova Scotia and just lose myself in that island.----I was all set to go, but I could not get your friends' memory out of my head and the way he fought to keep that ring on his finger!”

"Ring?"

Leire smiles, "Yes, his wedding ring----it must have meant an awful lot to him, and the way he kept saying his wife's name.”

"I've been thinking about his wife and what you said that she might be involved---if this is a cover up, then what does she have to gain by all of this?”

"That's what we got to figure out, Charlie, we got to find out what their part in all of this is. Surely his wife would have known if her husband was a fake, wouldn't you think?”

"Beats me, I've never had a girlfriend, I've got no idea of how two people relate to each other---like that!”

"O.k., this is what we do---we split up and start following his wife and his partner to see who they talk to -----"

"Aunt Leire, that could take too long---I have to join my unit in just 7 days---isn't there an easier way?---Let me talk to his partner---you talk to his wife!”

"Maybe that's best----I tried to be extra careful in coming here, I kept changing taxis---but if Booking’s men are still following me---it could be dangerous.”

"Why would they still be following you, I thought you said that 'someone' scared them away in that airport and they ran away, scared to death?”

"Yes, they did get out of there---awful fast----like they had seen a ghost!”

"Who scared them?”

Leire sighs, "I only caught a glimpse of the man----for only a second----come to think of it, I think he was on the same flight that you were taking to Montgomery to see your Mother!”

"What did he look like?”

"Middle age, dark hair ----and walked with a slight limp.”

"I don't recall seeing anyone with a limp, guess I was trying too hard to make an impression on that girl that was sitting beside me."

Leire smiles and caresses Charlie's face, "I'm sure she was giving you the eye too, you are a such a handsome young man.”

Charlie is embarrassed, "O.k., so we've decided to make contact with these people, when do we start?”

"Right now---we don't have any time to waste!”

 

********************************************************************

                    

The Bayou:

 

Walker is still going in and out of consciousness; his whole body is feeling like a wet noodle and tingling. He can still hear Twilah laughing at him and soon Brooking and Duane have returned.

Brooking has seen the mess and Walker laying in the floor, half naked. He starts screaming at Twilah and calling her obscene names

"You slut, what have you done?”

Duane is laughing, "Told you she would try to rape him----to her this was just another form of S&M!”

Michael steps over all the debris and goes down on one knee to examine Walker. He slaps his face back and forth and then checks his pupils. He glares back at Twilah.

"Luckily for you, he's still alive----now you get the man dressed again and try to refrain yourself from touching his private parts---understand? Then you and Duane try and get some food down him, he's got to keep his energy up.”

Walker can feel the hands touching him again and he begins to twist and turn----"Get---away-----don't---touch me!”

Duane is laughing harder, "What the hell did you try and do to him sister dear? He sure doesn't want you touching him!

"Shut-up and just get his pants up---he and I still have some unfinished business to take care of and I don't care if he's conscious or not!”

She barely gets the words out of her mouth when Michael hits her to the side of the head and then he grabs her by the neck. His face is red as he gets up in her's.

"You listen and you listen good---Walker is mine! You are not to touch him anymore, you had your chance. He rejected you, just like I said he would---you are not his kind---got that? You keep your hormones in check and then once my games are over with---then you can have him---not until!

 

***************

 

The voices continue to argue as Walker's mind is racing back to another time and he smells the magnolias, he feels her soft hands touching his cheek and running her forefinger over his beard.

She then giggles, "Honey, I think it's time you trimmed your beard.”

He pulls her body closer to him under the sheets, he grins, "What's the matter, getting a little scratchy in some tender areas?”

"Um," she smiles. "Yes, it's a good thing we haven't been getting a tan---or I would be in ----pain---like the last time?”

"Oh yes, I remember when we were sunbathing in Paris---on that deserted stretch of beach, and we just couldn't refrain ourselves---first in the water----and then later----in the sand?”

Her arms go around his neck and she kisses him slowly, letting her tongue glide just inside his mouth. "Why should we have refrained ourselves, we were on our honeymoon, doing what all honeymooners should do?”

"That time--yes!” He pulls her even closer, his hands finding her buttocks as he massages them firmly, "But what about all the other times--we couldn't refrain?”

They both laugh and then she pulls away, "Honey, I would love staying in bed with you again all day, but I have to get to that meeting---I got to go take a quick shower.”

            He sighs, "O.k., but I think staying in bed would be more enjoyable.”

She kisses him quickly, "We still have the rest of the afternoon and the night--but right now----it's shower time.”

Walker smiles as he watches her pad to the bathroom, and then he groans.

"I've got to get my exercises down, that is--if I'm able to get out of this bed---- some wicked woman just ravished my body!” He yells back to her.

"And, you enjoyed every moment of it!”  She yells back.

"Got that right!” He mumbles as he starts his stretching exercises and then he starts loosening up by throwing fake jabs at himself in the mirror.  Knee squats are next and then he puts his feet up in the chair, with his lower body on the floor and then commences to do sit-ups, clapping his hands together after each one.

He then turns around and does the sit-ups from the opposite direction and then more stretching. He mediates for a few seconds and then he stands in the middle of the floor and does a handstand. His legs are going straight out in opposite directions until he is like a pair of opened scissors.

Alex is coming out of the bathroom and sees him stretched to full extent, she groans, "Oooooh honey---I hurt just watching you split yourself like that----doesn't that hurt?”

He lets himself come down slowly, his arms raising himself higher and his extended legs come straight under his raised body, his legs pointing straight forward. He then goes back up and does back flip, landing on his feet.

Walker exhales as he grabs a towel and starts wiping the sweat away. He smiles back at his wife and reaches out to pat her stomach.

"It only hurts when I fail to do it on a daily basis---or when my wife wants undivided attention!---In the meanwhile, are you keeping up with your sit-ups?”

"Yes dear, I'm doing 50 a day----and I'm also doing lots of stretching.”

"Good, just don't over do it---don't want you hurting yourself or the baby. I showed you how to do the back roll, didn't I?”

Alex is combing her hair and smiling back at her husband, "Oh, I got that one down 'pat', I use it a lot, especially in bed. When are you going to show me 'the split' again, wouldn't that help to strengthen my abdominal muscles?”

"The one I was just doing? It's called the 'forceptor' and don't you dare try to do it, not now---in your condition! You could be doing more harm than good. You stick to the sit-ups and the back roll, that helps to strengthen both your abdominal  and your lower back. You haven't been experiencing any pain in your back, have you?”

Alex has now dropped the towel from around her and applying lotion to her legs, "No honey, my back is not hurting---I'm fine.”

"O.k.---you'll tell me if it starts to hurt you----right?”

Alex stops and looks up at her husband, grinning. "When 'what' starts hurting me, honey? My back pains----or the sexual positions?”

"Both!” I'm serious Alex, sometimes too much exercise can hurt a pregnant woman, not to mention doing damage to the fetus, with all that stretching, etc, etc,"

"Thank you Doctor Walker---I'm well aware of the dangers---honey, what is the purpose of that 'forceptor'---is it lethal?”

Walker nods his head as he starts towards the bathroom, "Yep---if done right, it can break a man's neck, twisting the neck so grotesquely, that it looks like the man's neck is coming away from his body. The defender has to have very powerful legs in order to do it.”

Alex swallows hard, "Have you ever killed that way?”

Walker stops and looks back to his wife, "Yeah----several times in Nam---when the enemy has limited you to only your own body for defense, you learn to train your body with every ounce, including your mind!-I'll take my shower and then run you over to your meeting.”

"The meeting will take several hours, what do you plan to do while I'm there?”

"Oh I don't know, walk around, see the sights and maybe go over to the super dome, I've always wanted to see it. Besides, Trivette wants me to pick him up a Saints' jersey!”

"I thought Trivette was a big Colts' fan, why does he want a New Orleans Saints' jersey?”

"Don't know hon., But, I got to get Gage and some of the other guys some souvenirs too--- and don't forget, you promised Syd you would get her some of that perfume that she likes so well.”

"I haven't forgotten, but honey---let's wait about the souvenirs till we're ready to leave--I still want to go up to Bourbon Street---can we go there tonight?”

"Whatever you say, but I want to go the super dome anyways, and I know you don't care to see it, so I'll get that over with! -Hope you left me plenty of hot water---my whole body is aching!!!”

 

**********************************************************

 

Ranger headquarters:

 

Gage is trying to explain to Syd about the sports car that Gus has identified. Syd is still upset because Gage has decided not to put in his papers for a transfer.

"You left me holding the bag, Gage---I thought you were going to join me in the commander's office?”

"Forget all of that Syd, didn't you hear what I just said about the sports car?”

"You said Gus saw it on a parking lot here in Dallas, what was it doing there?”

Gage pulls the lady ranger off to the side and whispers, "That's not important, or rather it is important, but it's not the most important---Syd, you're not going to believe what I'm about to tell you.”

"Hey guys---what's going on?” A voice asks. They turn to see Trivette staring back at them and the low whispering from Gage.

Gage stammers, "Uh nothing---uh---uh how is Erica----and the baby?”

Trivette is grinning, but still looking at his fellow rangers suspiciously, "Erica and my son are doing just fine, that's why I'm here---Erica said to get out of her hair that I was driving her crazy!”

Syd smiles back, "Great, we were worried about her.”

"I'm glad you two are here, so I don't have to traipse all over Dallas looking for you, Erica wants to know if you would like to come over tonight---for supper?”

Syd looks to Gage, "I got no plans and there is something that Gage and I would like to---run by you!”

”NO!”  Gage almost shouts it out, "No---tonight is not good---maybe---tomorrow night----uh Syd, I need to talk to you about something---NOW!”

Gage is practically-pulling Syd out of the office, and Trivette is left with a very confused look. One of the other rangers walk up to him and nods towards Syd and Gage.

             "What's up with those two, they've been acting strange ever since that fight between Walker and Gage in the gym. Did you ever find out what that was all about?”

Trivette looks back to the young ranger, "No, and that doesn't concern you---aren't you suppose to be on patrol?”

After the young ranger walks away, Trivette mumbles to himself, "Guess I should find out what that was all about---o.k. Walker---confession time.”

 Syd is staring back at Gage as though he has two heads.

"Walker bought a sports car for Alex?  No way! He always complained about that little convertible she had before they got married, and when she found out she was pregnant with Angela, Walker made her trade it off.”

"I saw the sales receipt, Syd, he signed the papers!”

"And, this is the same car that was seen at the scene of those two hookers getting killed, and Gus is sure about that?”

Gage nods his head, "Yep, and the car is over at impound and the lab boys are going over it for fingerprints.”

"Have you questioned Walker about this yet?”

"No, I'm waiting for the guys at the lab to run the report on his signature, to see if it's legit.”

"And, then what?”

The tall ranger hesitates, "Then I guess that we go and question him just like any other suspect.”

Syd raises her hands in a negative response, "Not me! I've been instructed by the commander not to go near Walker-----and by the way I'm still pissed at you for not showing up and backing me up!”

"I'm sorry about that---but I got wrapped up in this questioning of Gus, and I just lost track of time,-----how did it go?”

"I don't want to discuss it, if you really cared, you would have been there for me!"

"Syd, I'm sorry about that---but this thing with Walker is really getting out of hand----so many crazy things have been happening!”

"Have you changed your mind about putting in for a transfer?”

Gage is now pacing, "I don't know, Syd----I can't think that far ahead right now"

Syd waves him off, "You know what I think Francis Gage---you have changed your mind, well that's just fine----I don't need your help!” She walks off in a huff.

Gage is just standing there, like he's just been slapped again. He takes a deep breath, "O.k. Walker---it's Showtime---I'm going to the lab to get some answers!”

Dana has observed the confrontation between the rangers. She smiles to herself, "Hm---something big is going on and Walker is involved. I'll bet he would appreciate getting this news, but it will cost him. He is not going to be calling the shots this time, I will not be his beck and call booty!”

 

**********************************************

 

Walker ranch:

 

Alex is still reeling over the call from her friend Sandi.

"How could I have been so stupid, the signs have been all around me? The mood swings, the temper tantrums at the drop of a hat, he's constantly finding excuses to leave the house, and then his yelling at Angela?----That is something I will not over look, he has never so much as even raised his voice to her before. I will not put up with it, I've seen too much of this through my Women's Abuse clinic---and just like them, I was refusing to believe that this could happen to me----to our marriage?”

The blonde is pacing back and forth and constantly checking on her daughter.

"You’re stupid, stupid, stupid---how could you not see the signs? All of the typical signs of someone having an affair was right there before you and you were too stupid to see it!” She continues to bash herself, the phone rings.

"Hi sweetheart, your husband around? I need to talk to him?”

"No, Jimmy. Walker is not here---I don't know where he's at!”

"What's the matter, Alex, you sound upset about something!”

"It's nothing, Jimmy. Walker and I had a little spat and words were said----Jimmy, I got to go, and I think I hear the Ram pulling in.”

Alex hangs up the phone and peers out the blinds, she sees 'her husband' screeching to a halt, just missing the huge potted plant that sits at the end of the walkway. He exits the Ram, and pulls out another whiskey bottle and tilts it up, finishing it off and throwing the bottle towards the corral. He then stumbles up the walkway, and slams the front door when he gets in.

Joaquin is heading to the refrigerator and grabs a couple of beers and starts downing them, he looks up to see Alex staring back at him.

"Well---I did what you told me to---I got the Ram back----are you satisfied now?”

She takes a deep breath and asks, "Where were you last Friday night?”

"How the hell would I know? I can't even 'member where I've been today---how can I ---'spect to member where I was 4 days ago----or is it 5 days?”

Alex shakes her head at the smell of booze and then she smells the cigarettes."  You smell like a French whore----I want to know, were you in Wichita Falls last Friday night?”

Joaquin reaches for two more beers, "So, what if I was?”

Alex is fighting back the tears, "Who was the woman that you were with, and how long have you been seeing her?”

Joaquin throws the empty beer bottle across the kitchen, "Here we go again----that broken record-----about another woman----would you stop asking me so damn many questions?”

The tears are falling as Alex wipes them away, "You are having an affair, aren't you? Just tell me the truth Walker, we always said we would be honest with each other!”

"For the last time, Alex---I'm not seeing anyone else, why do you keep harping on this?”

Alex blurts it out about the phone call from her friend; Joaquin is trying to hide his smile. "Your friend is lying to you, I wasn't there----wasn't that the night you were in the hospital?----I was here---sleeping!”

"Sandy does not lie, they know the Ram and Bill was honking at you!  They said you acted as though you didn't recognize them and Sandi said the woman was practically in your lap---now who was that woman?”

Joaquin sighs, "O.k.---I forgot, one of the guys called me and asked if he could borrow the Ram, I told him yes----and he said he was going up to ---'which a titty falls' to see his girlfriend---that's who your dim witted friend saw----not me!!!”

Alex shakes her head, "You loaned the Ram out---to a friend? Come on Walker, how stupid do you think I am, you would never loan your truck out to anyone----unless it was Jimmy!”

Joaquin laughs, "That jungle bunny?---I wouldn't loan him anything!”

"Walker, why would you say such a racist  slur?----I have never heard you talk about any black person that way----and least of all---Jimmy! He's your best friend, he's like a brother to you, how dare you say something like that?”

Joaquin reaches for another beer, "One argument at a time, Alex---now let's just drop it---cause you're really getting on my nerves with all these damn questions!”

Now Alex's bottom lip is quivering, "Oh I'll drop it alright 'cause Angela and I will not be staying here another moment, we're leaving----"

"No, you're not---" he grabs her arm, "you're not going anywhere--cause---it's time you started paying attention to me--- I demand my rights---as your husband!”

Alex jerks her arm away, "Rights?---These 'so called rights' that you are referring to does not give you the right to force yourself on me---that's rape!”

Joaquin sneers, "Rape?---I'm not gonna force you----you're going to do it willingly---and you'll not use that excuse that it's Dr's orders----there are other ways to service me--that won't hurt you!”

Alex begins backing up, shaking her head, "I will not touch you----in any way----you stay away from me!”

"No wifey dear," Joaquin begins to unbuckle his pants, "I demand that you perform your duties----and stop torturing me by parading around in front of me half naked----now get over here!!!”

"Go to hell!” Alex jerks away and starts going up the stairs as fast as she can, going to the nursery first. Both the house phone and Joaquin's cell start ringing at the same time. Joaquin has started up the stairs after Alex and then he stops to answer his cell.

It's Grady.

"How's it going? Has she found out about the land being sold yet?”

"No" Joaquin is swearing, "your timing stinks, Grady---I was demanding my rights!”

"Slow down--- you're going too fast!”

"I wish the hell you and Ferris would make up your minds, and I'm getting damn tired of playing "Mr. Nice guy!”

"Well, you got another problem right now, that damn sports car has been found back on the parking lot, why didn't you dispose of it, like I told you to?”

"You didn't say to dispose of it, you said to return it and so I did---what's the problem?”

"There's a witness that saw the car at the murder scene,---and he might have seen you!”

"No way, I kept my face covered--kept that damn cowboy hat pulled down---no one could recognize me!”

"You idiot, what about the sales receipt?”

"How else was I suppose to buy the car?  No one will know that the name was forged, I've practised writing Walker's name for years---I'm clear!”

"You better hope so, because you will be getting a visit soon from a Ben Masters---he's going to approach you about the land in the north forty----are you clear on what to do?”

"Yeah, I've already put some of the land up---for collateral to buy the car.”

"Did the salesman question you?”

"Never blinked an eye---that's because this Walker is such a trusted man---everyone is this damn state trusts him----his name opens a lot of doors----and apparently in other areas too!”

"What are you talking about, did those hookers know Walker?”

"One of them did, and you can't tell me that this ranger hasn't spread a few legs in his line of duty! ---That one was so damn hot to get him----or rather me---under the sheets---and in every position I put her in!!!”

"You imbecile-----is that all you think about?”

Joaquin looks up the stairs and licks his lips, "Yeah, and I'm fixing to show my little 'wife' just how much I've missed her---got to go!”

"Stay away from her, Joaquin----you're moving too fast---"

Joaquin keeps shaking his head as the house phone keeps ringing off the hook---"Yeah, yeah, yeah---I got to answer the damn phone!”

Joaquin turns his cell phone off as Grady is still yelling at him to slow down, he picks up the phone and yells.

"HELLO!  Who the hell is this, it better be important!”

A woman's voice answers shyly, "Uh, ranger Walker----this is Dana---from headquarters?”

Joaquin smirks, "Yeah---I know who you are---what are you doing calling me here---at my home?”

"I have something to tell you.”

"Spit it out, I don't have all day!”

"I can't go into it over the phone, I will meet you somewhere-----maybe a motel?”

"Motel?---Are you crazy---hang up and call me back on my cell---.”

The woman does as she is told and Joaquin is getting impatient at her evasiveness to tell him what her call is all about.

"I have something to tell you about two of your fellow rangers---and a sports car?”

"I'm listening, what is it?”

"No, I'm calling the shots this time---if you know what I mean?”

Joaquin is smiling, "I think I know---meet me at the old stockyards---out on highway 10---it's completely deserted."

Dana grimaces, "Stockyards? I was thinking more along the line---of a nice motel room?”

Joaquin is getting angry, "Dana, are you forgetting---to play dangerously?---It's more exciting that way.”

"I wouldn't know, because so far you're the only one that has been satisfied---but I'm saying---we do things my way-----or else!”

"Going to a motel is not wise----we're both married----and someone might recognize me----I promise that the seats of my Ram----are more than accommodating---for both of us.”

Dana agrees and Joaquin is thinking about the warnings that Grady has given him, he decides to apologise to Alex.

He sees her packing a small bag, and decides that more than an apology is in demand, he starts to cry, and goes down on his knees.

"I'm sorry Alex---please forgive me, I don't know what I was saying---I didn't mean to talk to you that way---Alex----please!”

They argue, but Alex will not forgive him---"I'm leaving you Walker---I can't take this treatment any longer---if you want another woman---then fine---I don't care anymore!”

"I'm sorry, Alex---I swear to you--there is no other woman---I've just felt neglected and started drinking----and I'm taking those pills again!”

"What pills, Walker? I read the fax on your medical report--all you're taking is a anti--depressant pill--Cymbalta.”

"Fax report? Now you're checking on my medical records?”

"Only because you won't tell me anything---now get of my way while I finish packing.”

"Wait a minute Alex, can't we talk this out---please don't go, I promise I'll do better, I swear I will.”

"I've tried to talk to you, but you get angry---all the signs of an unfaithful spouse, I don't believe anything you say now!”

"Alex, honey---it's those damn pills and the alcohol ----they don't go good together and make me do and say crazy things!”

"Then stop taking them---stop taking them all together---this Dr is not helping you, can't you see that?”

"O.k. honey, I will and I will stop drinking--I promise---not another drop----please honey---don't leave, give me one more chance---you'll see!”

Alex is crying harder, "I don't believe you, especially about that woman---just tell me the truth Walker, how long have you been seeing her?”

Joaquin is trying hard to hide his anger, "For the last time Alex---there is no one else----I loaned my truck to Stan.”

"Stan who? I don't recall a ranger by that name, what lies are you telling me now?”

"O.k.----so don't believe me! I've tried telling you the truth, but you're bound and determined to prosecute me---without any proof!”

Alex wipes the tears away, "I refuse to stand here and try to explain to you why I'm suspicious, when I have every right to be after all that has been happening.”

"Please Alex, just one more chance, I'll do anything you say---remember our wedding vows?”

"Oh yes, I remember our vows, apparently you haven't"

             Joaquin forces himself to cry harder, "One more chance Alex, I'll do anything---you want me to see another doctor. I will---I swear I will!"

Alex slams the suitcase, "You're damn right, you're going to see another  doctor, and it will be one that I choose----and I'm going with you!  I will stand by my vows to stand by you--in sickness---because that's what this is---a sickness, Walker! And then, we will have our talk about this other woman, and by God---you better be telling me the truth!”

Joaquin tries to put his arms around her, but she pulls away.

"Don't you dare try and touch me, I will never forget the degrading way you talked to me downstairs---don't ever touch me again!”

Joaquin backs up and starts wiping at his eyes, "O.k. Alex----I'll keep my distance, but honey---I love you----I've just missed you so much---I'm sorry for what I said.”

            "It's going to take time for me to ever trust you again, Walker---I never thought I would ever say that---but you've changed so much in the last month.----You're like a completely different person---you're not the man I fell in love with over 8 years ago!”

Joaquin pretends to be devastated, he lowers his head and whispers to himself, "If you only knew and you will know soon, but by that time---it will be too late.”

He tries to smile, "Maybe we could go out to eat tonight---a nice romantic dinner---just you and me, o.k.? We can ask the Trivettes to baby sit, what do you say?”

"I don't feel like going out!”

"O.k. then maybe we can have something catered, what would you like?”

"I do not feel like trying to make small talk with you, I'm angry and I'm hurt----just leave me alone!”

"O.k., I'll get out of your hair for awhile---I'll  just drive around for awhile, give you some time---alone.”

"Like I haven't had plenty of that!  You never want to stay home for more than an hour at a time---and you're ignoring Angela---not to mention the farm animals!”

"I promise Alex, come tomorrow morning, everything will be different, I'll be like a new man.”

"I don't want a 'new man', I just want my husband back, I want the man back  I fell in love with and married----and had a child with!" She starts crying harder, "-Get out of here---go---do whatever you have to do----just leave me be!”

Joaquin backs out of the bedroom slowly and closes the door, then takes a deep breath.

"Damn, that woman has a temper!--But that's o.k., I like 'em hot tempered----- and soon Alex Cahill----you and I will have that little rendezvous between the sheets and all of these days of pent up sexual  frustration will be ----all mine!---But now, I have to service little Miss Dana----and she too will learn that no woman tells me what to do!”

**************************************************

                                

Trivette's home

 

Erica Trivette watches her husband as he hangs up the phone from talking to Alex.                          

"Jimmy, what's wrong? You didn't ask Alex if she and Walker wanted to come to supper tonight?”

The black ranger shakes his head, "Not a good time, baby----I think she and Walker have been arguing.”

"Those two never argue, they may have a disagreement from time to time, but they never really argue!”

"Well, something is going on and that's what Alex said, that they had a little spat---I sure would like to know what is going on! Not only are my two best friends arguing, but Gage and Syd are acting strange too. Something has been happening and I'm being kept in the dark about it----and it all started with that little fight between Gage and Walker in the gym!”

"You mean a real fight?”

"It wasn't a friendly little spar, both Gage and Walker were not pulling any punches and Gage was getting quite a whopping.”

"You can't be serious!”

"I know what I saw Erica, they were going at each other like they both wanted to do the other some real pain, I've never seen Walker so aggressive---I think he was actually trying to hurt Gage!”

"But honey, I've heard you say that Gage is a good fighter and he can hold his own against any man------"

"Except Walker! Walker has taught Gage a lot in the arts, he's been a prize pupil----but he's no match for Walker! I haven't seen the man yet that can beat him----including myself!”

"Well, maybe that's why Gage declined our offer, because he didn't want to be around Walker, maybe he's still licking his wounds!”

"I didn't mention anything about inviting the Walkers-----"

"Honey, I'm sure that Gage just assumed that Walker would be invited, after all he and Alex are our best friends.”

"Yeah, guess I should have 'nipped all of this in the bud' when that fight first started. I haven't even told the commander about it, I just wanted to ask Walker what it was all about and get it all behind us----something is going on----and I don't like it one bit!”

Erica smiles and goes into her husband's arms, her stomach preventing them from getting too close. "Since we're not entertaining anyone tonight---why don't we entertain each other?”

"Baby, you know what the doctor said, he advised against any sex this close to delivery.”

"What the doc doesn't know, won't hurt him----and there are a lot of positions and things we can do that are----safe.”

"I don't think we should, it's too close to your delivery date," Trivette replies slowly.

"Other expectant Moms sometimes have sex right up to their delivery dates---and they have healthy babies!”

"Erica, I love you----but not this time----I feel like it's just not safe-----"

Erica pulls back, "Oh, I get it---I turn you off, because I look like the Goodyear blimp---is that it?”

Trivette tries to make light of the situation and says slowly, "More like the Hindenburg !  Baby---you look like you're going to---explode!!!”

"Of all the nerve----well, if that's how you feel, James Washington Trivette, you can sleep alone tonight" and she stomps off.

"It was a joke, baby---I didn't mean it like that----ah come on baby---don't be this way!”

The bedroom door slams and the black ranger is swearing under his breath.

"It must be the night for arguments! One thing is for sure, this night won't go down in history as a another night for baby boomers to pop out in nine months!!!”

                                                            

Chapter 15 

 

            Walker is finally coming to again as he can hear Twilah and the two men arguing.

            He keeps hearing the name of Ferris Clayton and his memory flashes back to the first time that he ever came into contact with the man and his sons. Walker was responsible for uncovering their drug running, and murder. He remembers a woman and a small boy of about 12 who had gotten mixed up with the oldest son, Kyle. They had gotten in deep with the meth labs and doing Kyle's dirty 'laundering.  But, Walker knew deep down, that they were good people who had just gotten in over the heads and couldn't get out.

He recalls the boy throwing TNT into the swamps to 'catch' the fish, probably his and his Mama's main source of survival, that and the woman working at the little cafe, as a waitress. At the end the woman and boy had helped him to uncover the hideout for the biggest meth lab and Ferris and his sons were bearing down on them.

The old meth lab exploded, almost catching Walker inside. Most of the money had burned up in the explosion, except for one bag that Walker managed to save. He knew he could say that 'all' of the money was destroyed and no one would have to know.  He chose to give the money to the boy and his Mother with the promise they would get out of the bayou and not tell a soul  how and where they would be going. That was the last that he had seen of the boy and his Mother, he wondered how they were doing.

Walker, Trivette, and C.D. all testified at the Claytons' trial, and the old man swore he would get Walker and make him pay. Many attempts had been made on his life, but the ranger was always one step ahead of Ferris Clayton. So for years the old man had been quiet, un- beknown to Walker that Ferris Clayton's biggest plan to take the ranger out was being planned with 5 years in the making.

The next time Walker would come into contact with the Claytons would be on a innocent little trip to New Orleans with Alex. Or, so he thought at the time it was innocent. They had flown down to attend a lawyers' convention and it was their last night in the city of "The Big Easy!”

Walker smiles as he tries to remember the night and how perfect the evening had been. They had just had drinks with several of the other lawyers and their wives and they were walking along Bourbon Street, listening to the sounds of the different bands. The evening was nice and cool and they could smell the different aromas of food being cooked.

Alex was dressed in a peach colored, off the shoulder evening dress. Her hair was pulled up on one side with a clasp holding it back and she was carrying a single pink rose that he had bought her. They had their arms around each other's waist and Alex was leaning on him, suddenly she stops.

"Oh honey----look at that, isn't that gorgeous?”

"Isn't what gorgeous, besides you?”

She points to a dress shop and a black evening gown that drops low in the front and a slit up the side.

"That!----Oh honey, I got to have it---let's go look at it.”

Walker frowns, "Alex----we've been shopping most of the day, you're going to have to book an extra ticket just to get all of that stuff back to Texas that you've already bought!”

She pouts, sticking her bottom lip out, "Just one more item---just one more----oh please honey!”

Walker shakes his head, "That's what you said 3 hours ago----Alex, I'm getting hungry.”

She kisses him softly, "I promise, after I buy the dress, we'll go eat.”

"Buy the dress?---Alex, you said you were going to look at it!”

"I know, but this is our last night and it will probably be years before we get another vacation---and it might be the last time that we get to spend it in New Orleans.”

          "O.k., o.k., you know I can never win an argument with you---go do your shopping----and I'll go over to that little coffee shop and drink some coffee---but don't be too long---I'm starving!”

Alex smiles, "Starving?  Honey---how can you be hungry, we just ate about 3 hours ago?”

He grins and pulls her into him, "I'm still trying to get my energy back from the 'nooner'---you wore me out!”

"Excuses, excuses---and I'm the one that is suppose to be eating for two-----or maybe three?” She teases.

He shakes his finger in her face, "Don't even be thinking about springing twins on me, Mrs. Walker!”

"Well, it could happen, you know. I told you that twins run in my family.”

"Well, they can just keep on running---in the opposite direction----one will be fine!----For now!”  He adds.

She kisses him again, " O.k., you go have your coffee---and I'll be----about an hour?”

"Just hurry---do you have enough money?”

"Sweetheart, a woman 'never' has enough money when she's shopping.”

Walker frowns as he pulls out his wallet and hands it to her, "Don't break me---you've already 'maxed' out two of the credit cards----better leave me at least $5 for a cup of coffee.”

She starts to walk away and he pulls her back, and kisses her long and tender and then he winks at her, "I was just kidding about not wanting twins---it might be pretty nice----someday.”

She laughs as she strokes his bearded cheek, "Honey----go have your coffee---you're getting tired---I love you.”

He watches her walk away and then he heads to the little coffee shop.

The crowd is starting to pick up as the tempo of the evening has too. Walker is watching a young woman with a little girl, of about eight. The little girl has blonde hair and it's pulled back in a pony tail, she's asking her Mother for another cotton candy. A couple has begun to argue and the woman is yelling back at the man.

"Harvey Bates----would you stop eye balling all of the women and pay attention to me?”

The man is tall and slender, and definitely an eye for all of the women as he's trying to flirt with the waitress that has brought them drinks.

"It's no wonder your wife left you--- do you have to flirt with every woman you see!”

The man is grinning and then he yells back, "Well, you should talk---you're the woman I left my wife for!”

The woman stands up and stomps off in search for the ladies' room, the man shrugs his shoulders and goes back to flirting with the waitress.

A man in dark clothes has been observing the ranger, he smirks, "So you're the famous Texas Ranger that my Daddy has warned me about---you don't look so tough.----But, I guess I'll soon find out just how tough you really are.”

The man looks around him and sees two police officers walking towards the little cafe, the man grins as he makes his way up to the woman and the little girl. He waits until the officers are about six feet away, he then takes out a colt .45 and shoots them both, between the eyes.

The woman is screaming and reaching for her little girl, the man grabs the kid and pushes the woman down to the street. Walker has heard the screams and he's running towards them, stopping to pull out a .38 from his right boot. He's shouting for the crowd to break away and that he's a Texas Ranger.

The crowd is staring at the two policemen on the ground, both dead. The man called Harvey Bates is trying to administer first aid, but it's too late. Walker sees the man holding the little girl, he now has a 10 inch knife up to the little girl's throat, he's just staring back at Walker and grinning.

Walker looks to the little girl and tries to calm her, "You'll be o.k., just be still"---and then to the man he pleads.

"Don't hurt her, she's just a baby, she hasn't done you any harm--- just let her go and back off---please don't hurt her!”

The man continues to just stare at the ranger, his eyes are cold as he looks to the ranger and then to the two dead policemen. He spits, "PIGS" they had to die!” And, then without another word he slashes the little girl's throat, and the Mother screams.

Walker rushes the man and hits him with his gun butte, the man goes down, laughing. The crowd is going berserk and sirens are being heard in the distance as Walker continues to hit the man and swearing at him.

 "You didn't have to kill her---you son-of-a-bitch!” Walker continues to hit the man until other officers are pulling him off. The crowd is yelling at the police officers to let Walker finish the job, but the police are multiplying and pushing the crowd back.

Alex has heard the commotion and is running to her husband. Walker is staring back at the woman as she is bending over the body of her little girl. Tears well up in the eyes of the ranger as he looks to his wife and says softly.

"He didn't have to kill her," he repeats over and over again.

Statements have been taken and Walker has to go to the police station and questioned even more. It's early the next morning before the police are satisfied with all of the statements.

For the rest of the morning before their flight is due to leave, Walker just sits and stares at the floor.

Alex is trying to console her husband, "From what the other witnesses said, there was nothing you could do, honey----that man intended on taking more lives.”

Walker still has tears in his eyes, "I'll never forget the look in that man's eyes----it was as though he wanted me watch as he slit that little girl's throat----he looked straight at me Alex----he had plenty of time to get away. But, he just stood there----he didn't have to kill that little girl!”

The ranger's tears can't be stopped as Alex holds him close to her. "Honey, did the police tell you the identity of that man?”

"Yeah," he sobs-----"Rufus Clayton!”

It was a long flight back to Texas with Walker saying very little, he's refused to eat or drink anything.

"Honey, I know this is hard on you---but you did everything you could to talk that monster out of hurting that little girl----there was nothing more you could do. What a terrible thing to have to watch, I'm so sorry for you.”

Walker shakes his head, "Something about this is not making any sense---that man deliberately shot those two cops and when he grabbed the little girl, it was like he was--staring right at me---daring me to try something.”

"Did he say anything to you?”

"No, just stared at me with those cold eyes and grinning, he enjoyed the killing and since we found out who he is, I can understand why----he's a Clayton!”

Alex takes a deep breath, "I thought we had heard the last of Ferris Clayton, and now you'll have to testify at another Clayton trial.”

Walker swears, "Yeah---with pleasure!---I hope he gets lethal injection just like his old man!”

"Well, it's almost certain that he will end up in the same prison, or Baton Rouge. What a horrible way to end our little vacation and to think that it was just a 'spur of the moment change in plans' that led us to New Orleans.--I had no intentions of coming until Ed Carson backed out and we needed a representative from our district.”

Walker is quiet and then he turns to his wife, "Yeah---why did Carson change his mind about coming, you said he and his wife were all excited about the trip?”

"I'm not sure, Mooney called me and asked if I would take his seat on the lawyer's board----I said "yes", but only if you were able to come with me.”

"Something is just not adding up hon, it's too much of a coincidence that I should be involved in another Clayton. And, like I said, this Rufus just stared at me.  He made no attempt to get away.”

"So, you think he knew you?”

"It wasn't just a random act, Alex--I was sitting maybe 30 feet away from that woman and her little girl---he intended for me to see him, I could almost swear to it! He had to have known who I was because of Ferris Clayton and my testifying at that trial and surely his Daddy has mentioned me on more than one occasion!”

"But, why? What would he gain by killing innocent people in front of you, he had to know he would be caught?”

"Maybe that was the plan.” Walker replies softly.

"You're right, it doesn't make any sense! We haven't heard anything on Ferris Clayton in years, it's like he's forgotten about you and the vendetta against you----why now?”

"I don't know Alex, but I will find out, you can count on that!---I plan to pay Ferris Clayton a little visit.”

"Walker, I wish you wouldn't do that!---And, besides you are now a potential witness and when you are called to testify, the less contact with any of the Claytons will be for the best. If you are seen in Ferris Clayton's presence and the trial comes up on Rufus, there might be a mistrial.----And, you don't want to chance that, do you?”

Walker is gritting his teeth, "No, I want that bastard to die----and I'm looking forward to testifying against him.”

For the next few months, Walker and Alex would hear very little on the Claytons, a preliminary was held in Baton Rouge, the trial date had not been set. The time passed and the Walkers were involved in another chapter of their lives, and secrets would be learned about C.D.'s death and the return of La'Vacot.

 

**********************

 

The bayou:

 

"Walker---wake up---it's time to play again!”

The ranger is repeatedly slapped till he's gained back his presence of mind. Michael is staring back at him, grinning.

"Yeah, ranger, it's playtime----and when Michael gets through with you this time, you're going to be sorry you were so mean to me---give it to him, Michael!”

"Don't tell me what to do, slut-----just get him ready.”

Twilah is all smiles, "With pleasure.”

Walker is pulling away, "Don't touch me woman---back off---or so help me---you'll get another kick to the mouth!”

Duane is laughing, "Don't know why you have to be so picky about who gets you ready for playtime, it's still gonna hurt---just the same!”

Michael is getting impatient," Both of you get him ready, bring him here!----And, just for your information Walker, I'm increasing the voltage!”

Walker is glaring back at him, "You're still a loser---you were a loser in Nam, and you're still a loser. And, when I get out of here, I'm going to kill you!”

"What makes you think you'll get out of here alive?”

"I've heard you talk about Ferris Clayton and I know he wants me kept alive, you're not going to kill me!”

"He didn't say how much alive you would be when you are released, and when I'm through with you, you're going to be like a wet noodle. Your brain is going to be half fried.”

"Yeah," chimes Twilah "and your wife sure won't want you back then----she's having too much fun without you.”

"Shut up Twilah, I'm not going to tell you again.”

Walker stares back at the brunette, "That's the second time that you have mentioned my wife----if you or these goons have hurt her or my little girl----there won't be a place on this earth that you can hide. I will find you, no matter how long it takes and when I do-----the mere fact that you're of the female gender will not matter to me when I'm beating you to death!!!”

Duane is laughing harder and Twilah is lunging at the ranger with her talons extended.

"You think you're so tough, Mr. ranger----well here's some news for you----your wife is screwing another man----in your own bed!”

Walker is trying to get out of the way of the outraged woman as she starts clawing at his face. Duane is pulling her back and Michael is tapping his fingernails against the generator.

"Are you through, Twilah?---I'm giving you just ten seconds to back away from him----or so help me I'll use these cables on you too and you can both scream till you black out!  Do I make myself clear?”

Walker's eyes bore into the screaming woman, "Do you think I would believe anything you say concerning my wife?”

Twilah looks back to Michael, "Tell him, Michael----tell him---about his pretty little wife and the fun she's having.”

Michael just stares at the ranger, "As much as I hate to agree with Twilah----she is telling you the truth!”

"You're all lying-------''
Duane stops laughing, "Hey, what's that?”

Both Michael and Twilah look to Duane, "What?"

Duane gives the sign for them to be quiet as he moves towards the window and peers out, "I thought I heard something----I think someone is out there.”

"Trivette!”  Walker whispers to himself  "If anyone is going to find me, it will be Trivette.”

"Go take a look-----and don't take all day!” Barks Michael.

As Duane and Twilah are looking outside, Walker is studying Michael. "What did you mean that my wife-----was seeing someone else?”

Michael sighs, "I didn't say she was seeing someone else, Walker. The correct  word is----she's 'screwing' another man---probably as we speak!”

"YOU"RE LYING----YOU SON-OF-A BITCH----untie me and let's have it out---just the two of us---come on--and then let me hear you say those words about my wife!----Come on----untie me---be a man---you sure weren't much of one in Viet Nam, were you?”

Michael starts to laugh "You're not going to goad me into letting you loose,