Rough Ride  --- by Mavrick at MUFFCO@xtra.co.nz

Trivette had been hounding Walker for a long time about riding lessons and when they both finally got the chance, Walker conceded and gave Trivette his lessons.  Walker had told Trivette to be at his ranch by 7am and sure enough as Walker had come back in from a work out in the barn there was Trivette leaning over the fence patting Cookie on the neck.  "Good morning Walker" called Trivette in a joyful manner.  "Good morning Trivette are you ready for your lessons?" asked Walker with a hint of mischievousness in his voice. "Sure am partner" replied Trivette, who was now wondering what exactly Walker had meant by the way he asked if he was ready.  "Good, just wait a minute while I get changed out of these clothes." 

A few moments later Walker returned and instructed Trivette to accompany him to the barn where Cookie and Amigo followed them. Eagerly Trivette walked along side and kept asking numerous questions about what they were going to achieve today.  When they finally reached the barn, Walker went inside the tack room and carried out a box of brushes and hoof picks. "Here, Trivette, take these" Walker said while passing the box to him.  Walker went into the tack room once more and grabbed the bridles and a bucket of feed.  On his return he said to Trivette, "Are you ready to learn now?"  "Sure, what do we do first, where's the saddles?"  "Uh huh, the saddles come later. First the horses need to be brushed down and fed." "Oh, okay" replied Trivette a little disheartened. 

Coming up behind them both was Uncle Ray, without turning to where Uncle Ray had quietly walked up, Walker said "Good morning Uncle Ray, pleasant walk?"  Trivette who still had not gotten used to how quiet both Walker and Uncle Ray could be nearly spilt the bucket of feed that he was carrying.  "Yes nephew, a pleasant walk. Is today the day for the lessons that I have been hearing about?"  Before Walker could answer Trivette replied "Yes, this is the day Uncle Ray." "Yeah it is, the day" laughed Walker.  "What exactly did you mean by that Walker?" asked Trivette who was sounding a little worried.  "Nothing Trivette."

Uncle Ray touched Walker on his shoulder and while pointing his finger at him said "Washo, Jimmy is family so be nice.  He will learn."  "Yeah, Walker, don't forget I am family now, so you have to be nice" agreed Trivette earnestly.  "Trivette, would I be anything but other?" questioned Walker who had a huge grin.  "Well, um..." "Well, what Trivette?" "Nothing, just forget it."  Uncle Ray stood in front of them both and laughingly said "If you can't play nice, you can both go to the sweat lodge."  Quickly Walker and Trivette replied "We'll be nice."  Both shuddering at the thought of the sweat lodge. As Uncle Ray left Walker instructed Trivette on how to brush Cookie and how to comb the mane and tail.  When they had finished combing and brushing, Walker then showed him how to hold each hoof while cleaning them with the hoof picks. With the horses, groomed and fed, Walker took Trivette into where the saddles were and gave him one plus a saddle blanket.  "Now are you going to teach me how to ride?"  "I already have been teaching you."  "What do you mean?"  "Well you've learned how to brush and comb a horse haven't you?"  "Yeah, but..." "That is the first lesson, Trivette care and respect of the horse.  You can't just put a saddle on and go for a ride."  "I guess not, just never thought about all the rest that goes with riding."  Walker placed a hand on Trivette's shoulder and said "Well, the important thing is that you have learned the first."  As he finished talking, they both turned to see a blue jeep pulling into the drive.

The jeep belonged to C.D., and as it stopped near the house Walker and Trivette saw three people emerge from it.  C.D., Alex and Gary McClintock.  "Seems you are going to have an audience this morning Trivette" laughed Walker.  "Oh no!" groaned Trivette.  "C'mon we had better get these horses saddled up." They finished saddling the horses and were walking them to the open paddock near the house when they saw C.D., Alex and Sheridan walking towards them.  "Good morning Cordell and Jimmy.  Good day for a riding lesson huh Jimmy?"  "Good morning C.D..  What are you all doing here?" asked Trivette, looking at each of them in turn.  Alex was the first to speak "Well, Cordell invited us, said there was going to be some entertainment out here this morning."  With that they all laughed, well everyone except Trivette. "Jeez Walker! I thought we were going to do this with no one else around."  "Trivette, you'll be fine.  Everyone starts off riding the same way. It just takes time and confidence," Walker patronizingly said while leading Trivette to Cookie. "Now get up and we'll start." "Walker, we are going to take this slow, right?"  "Yeah, of course Trivette, now would you hurry up and get on the horse."  Without further comment Trivette placed his foot in the stirrup and swung himself up onto Cookie's back.  Holding on to the saddle, Trivette let Walker guide Cookie at an easy walk, while Alex, C.D. and McClintock watched from the fence on which they were sitting. 

After ten minutes had passed Uncle Ray was at the fence telling Walker there was a phone call for him.  Walker asked C.D. if he'd take over for him.  Eagerly C.D. took the reigns and Sheridan joined him.  Trivette protested and called for Walker to hurry and come back, as C.D. urged Cookie into a faster walk.  Trivette was bouncing around in the saddle hanging on for dear life.  "Walker! Walker!" called Trivette.  McClintock told Trivette just to hold on and be careful not to fall.  "Jimmy," C.D. began "if you are going to ride rodeo you have to learn how to ride."  "Whoa Cookie" urged Trivette, who was bobbing around like a small ship on the ocean. Uncle Ray in his words of wisdom said to him "Jimmy, if you are going to be a bear you may as well be a grizzly."  With that he turned and left going back to the house, passing Alex he told her that he was going to put the kettle on.  Alex nodded and said that sound like a good idea.

Walker returned from the house and stopped near Alex. "How's he going?"  "Oh, he's, well he'll get the hang of it." laughed Alex.  "I hope so, that phone call was from the Rodeo people letting me know of another Rodeo Championship round in four months."  "Oh, are you going to enter?" asked Alex, very concerned. "I'd like to, but I have to wait and see if my back is going to take it."  "Pleased to see you are listening to your doctors for a change."  "I was going to take Amigo out for a short ride today, it's been a while since I've ridden him. Uncle Ray has been taking him out for me a lot lately."  "If you do decide to go for a ride let me know and I'll get Diamond saddled up."  "Sure Alex."  Two months previous Walker and Trivette had been chasing some suspects across a roof top of an old warehouse, one of the suspects had fired on Walker who had been pursuing him and as Walker took cover, the roof top on which he was on gave way under him, sending him ten meters to the floor below. He had landed directly on his back, breaking four ribs and cracking a vertebrae in his back.  

His injuries healed, but he had been warned to not out any unnecessary strain on his back and that had meant riding as the jarring could trigger off the injury again.  He'd already missed two rodeo competitions and was desperately wanting to get back into the next round of competitions. During the past few months he had obeyed the doctor's instructions, which all agreed was a first for Walker, and had now decided it was time to get back in the saddle.  As he strode off to where Trivette was Uncle Ray approached him.  "Nephew, you have that look back again.  Do you feel you are ready to compete again?" "I just don't know right now Uncle Ray, it is going to take a lot of work, I guess there is no time like the present for starting."  "Just so long as you are careful Washo, I can see that you have made your mind up already."  Walker smiled at him and continued out to where C.D. and McClintock were giving Trivette some unorthodox riding lessons.  "So," said Walker "how many times has he fallen off?" "None yet, but give him time" laughed Sheridan.  C.D. decided that it was time to let go the reigns and let Trivette ride by himself. "Here Jimmy, let us see what you have learnt so far."  "Big Dog, no, not yet.  I'm not ready" answered Trivette with a shaky voice.  "Go on Trivette, ride like the wind" laughed McClintock as he smacked Cookie on the rump, spurring the horse into a light canter. "Whoa, whoa, nice horse" cried Trivette, as Cookie cantered around the paddock.  "Watch out for the tree!" called Alex, but her warning came to late as Trivette tried to dodge the branch and lost balance and landed hard on his backside.  "Ooh, ouch!!" said Walker, C.D. and McClintock in unison.  Trivette got up and dusted himself off and proceeded to walk back to where every-one was standing.  "Trivette," started Walker "haven't you forgotten something?"  "Nope. Why?" "Well just because you fell off doesn't mean that is the end of the lesson, get back on Cookie.  Alex and I will join you for a ride." "But Walker.." "But nothing, get back on and try to stay on this time" laughed Walker.

Alex with C.D.'s help had saddled both Amigo and Diamond and was walking the horses to where Walker was talking to McClintock.  "Are you sure you don't want to come for a ride Mark?  It won't take long to saddle Sapphire for you."  "No thanks, Cordell, maybe another time" replied McClintock.  "Aw c'mon Gary, the ride will do you good.  You know I'm thinking about joining them myself " insisted C.D. "Well I guess I don't have any other way of getting back to the city, so I may as well join you.  Heck why not? I haven't been riding in so long, even Jimmy is probably much better at than me.  Got the spare cushions C.D.?" "Now Gary, why would you been needin' a cushion for?" asked C.D.  Slapping C.D. on the back, Walker suggested it would probably soften the fall.  With that everyone laughed and all but Walker headed back to the barn.  Walker went to the house to let Uncle Ray know that they were all headed out for a ride and would be back in a couple of hours.  Uncle Ray said that he would get lunch ready for their return.

A few minutes later C.D. and McClintock had saddled Ranger and Sapphire and along with Alex and Trivette were waiting for Walker.  "Well, where shall we go to?" asked Alex.

"How about down by the lake Cordell?" suggested C.D.  "Yeah, sounds good to me C.D.  Hey Uncle Ray, make lunch a little later for us, we're taking the lake ride."  "Sure, Washo how about I make it dinner, that way you can all stay, if you'd like to."  Everyone agreed that dinner sounded like a good idea, it was the weekend and no one had any specific plans made.  "Okay Uncle Ray, we'll see you later." Walker said as he mounted Amigo.  Uncle Ray stood on the porch and waved them goodbye and wished them a safe ride.

A short time later, Trivette was gaining his confidence at riding and decided to spur Cookie into a gallop.  "Trivette be careful!" yelled Walker.  "Cordell, he'll be fine.  Let him learn the hard way if he falls off." C.D. said as he too quickened Ranger's pace into a gallop.

"So who else is up for a race then?" asked McClintock.  Before Walker could answer she spoke "You go ahead Gary, catch them up for us.  I want to make sure Cordell doesn't push himself too much.  We'll catch up later."  "Sorry for suggesting a race Cordell, I forgot about your back."  "Don't worry about it Gary.  I'll be back to racing you yet.  Go and see if Trivette has fallen off yet."  "I'll tell them to wait on top of the ridge for you both.  See you up there."  McClintock rode off at a fast gallop catching up with Trivette and C.D. in no time.  Trivette seemed really pleased with himself, happy at the progress he had been making.  C.D. turned to McClintock as he came up on them. "Where's Cordell and Alex?"  "Taking a leisurely ride C.D.  Alex insisted that they did, she didn't want Walker to overdo things, especially since he's thinking about getting back into the ro....." McClintock cut his sentence short, knowing that he'd probably said too much already. "Gary, I really hope you didn't start to say what I think you did. He's not got a dang fool idea of entering another rodeo just yet has he?"  "What?!" asked Trivette, astounded that Walker would be considering entering.  "I'll have words with him when he gets here, the damn fool." "C.D. that sounds like fighting words." commented Trivette. "Jimmy, he knows he came close to not walking away from the accident he had, but do you think he'd admit to that? I just don't want to see him hurt again, that's all."  Trivette nudged his horse closer to C.D. and put his hand on his shoulder "I know where you're coming from Big Dog, but once Walker's made up his mind that is generally it." "Yeah Jimmy, I know, and if he has decided then I guess we have to live with that decision.  I just had to get it off my chest."  McClintock heard Walker and Alex coming up the rise and motioned to C.D. and Trivette to be quiet about the rodeo.  They both nodded and turned their horses to face Alex and Walker. 

"Sure is beautiful up here Cordell. How was your ride?" "Fine C.D., you're right it is nice up here, it's peaceful" said Walker while he was dismounting Amigo.  "You okay son?" asked C.D. "Yeah, just a little stiff, thought I'd have a rest a while and let Amigo graze." "You know Cordell, that sounds like a mighty fine idea."  After they had all dismounted and let the horses graze they sat under the large trees, enjoying each others company.  No words were needed, just the relaxed feeling of each others presence was enough.

An hour and a half had passed when Walker felt Amigo nuzzle him, stirring him out of a peaceful slumber.  As he got up, he realized he wasn't the only one that had fallen asleep.  He leant over and kissed Alex on her forehead and as she awoken he motioned for her to be quiet and look over at Trivette and C.D. her were resting on each other back to back and to where McClintock was sprawled out on the ground near them.  Alex gave a little laugh and suggested to Walker that they wake them and get back to the ranch as it would be dark soon.  Walker agreed and went off to get the horses who had wandered a short distance away.  On his return he saw the others awake and stretching.  "Must of dozed off huh?" commented C.D.  "Yeah, we all did that.  Now we had better start back, you know what Uncle Ray is like when anyone's late for dinner."  "Well what are we waiting for then?" asked C.D. "You up to it partner?" asked Walker as he handed Cookie's reigns to Trivette. "Well I guess I'd better be, it's a long way to walk otherwise" laughed Trivette.  As they all headed off back towards the house, C.D. got his horse to walk beside Amigo, so that he could talk to Walker.  At first he didn't know what to say, the silence greeting too much for Walker. "C.D., what's on your mind?"  Looking at Walker, C.D. replied "I have heard that you are thinking about getting back into the rodeo again. Do you think it is a wise thing?"

Walker looked at C.D. who was obviously concerned about the impending decision on whether Walker was going to compete in the next round of competitions.  "Well C.D., I will be honest with you, I have given it a lot of thought ..."  "And?"  "And, well, I want to give it another shot.  You know I just can't resist helping those chipmunks." "Cordell, so long as you know what you are doing.  I guess there's no stopping you once you've made your mind up."  Walker smiled at C.D. as they both spurred their horse on to catch everyone up.

When they finally made it back to the barn and the horse had been brushed down and fed, they made their way over to the house.  Walker noticed Trivette walking rather stiffly.  "Anything wrong Trivette?"  "No. Why?"  "You look like you've spent a week in the saddle.  It will get easier Trivette" Walker assured him.  Turning to see Walker walking rather stiffly himself, C.D. commented "Looks like you may have overdone it a bit Cordell. How's your back?"  "It'll be fine C.D.  C'mon we better get inside before Uncle Ray puts a curse on us for being late."  Laughing they bounded up the steps, except for Trivette and Walker who took their time.  Uncle Ray greeted them at the door.  "It looks like you've all had a good ride." He then turned to face Trivette and Walker  "It looks like you two could use a really hot herbal bath.  After dinner I'll gather the herbs that I need."  "That sounds good Uncle Ray" said Walker.  Trivette nodded in agreement. 

During dinner Uncle Ray suggested that they all stay the night as it was getting late and the weather had turned bad.  It was agreed that they would stay and after dinner sat near the fire having coffee, talking of the day's events, and commenting on how much Trivette's riding had improved.  Then Trivette pulled a rabbit's foot out of his pocket.  "I owe it all to my lucky rabbit's foot" he laughed.  Throwing a cushion at Trivette, Walker said "Well it wasn't very lucky for the rabbit was it."  With that everyone laughed and Trivette launched the cushion back at Walker, catching him on the side of the head. "You should be more watchful Walker" said Trivette dodging the next cushion that came in his direction.  Turning to Alex, Walker asked her how Diamond and Sapphire had been on the ride.  "Cordell, they were wonderful.  I never thought anything could take the place of Amber, but Diamond is so much like her.  Your cousin certainly gave us a lovely engagement gift with those horses." "Next time she rings, I'll let her know" Walker suggested as he put an arm around Alex's shoulder.

"Washo, your herb bath is ready, best get it while it is still hot."  "Thanks Uncle Ray, I'll have it now." Excusing himself Walker left the room.  "What herbs did you put in the bath Uncle Ray?" inquired Alex. "Blackberry leaves, Elder, Horsetail and Lady's Mantle, these are used for soothing muscles and are very relaxing." "I wish I knew more about herbs, it seems there is so much to learn.  Would you teach me Uncle Ray?"  "Sure Alex, I would be honored to."  As the evening progressed there was talk of Walker's impending return to the next round of competitions.  "It's going to take a lot of patience on Washo's behalf, he still needs to be careful."  All agreed with Uncle Ray and hushed the conversation when Walker came back into the room.  "How was the bath Washo?" "Really good Uncle Ray.  I feel much better."  "Good, you look it too."  "Trivette your bath is ready, you'll feel much better."  Trivette left to take his bath and came back to the living room refreshed and feeling a great deal better.  "Well I think I'm about ready to hit the sack, I'll see you all in the morning." C.D. said as he went off to bed. "Actually I think I might head that direction myself, good night all."  Everyone went off to bed and slept soundly through the storm that was raging all around.

As the months passed Trivette's riding was improving all the time and Walker too was impressed with him.  He suggested to Trivette that he might like to enter the novice section of the rodeo and compete in the roping section for beginners.  Trivette worked at his roping while Walker worked on the bucking broncs, having more than his share of falls.  Some days Walker looked worse for wear but was determined to get back into competing form.  Two weeks before the rodeo Walker and Trivette were assigned to an extradition case.  The felon they were transporting, Frank Doyle, was one of a gang that was wanted for the murder of two Texas Rangers and four policemen in the Dallas area.  While in custody Doyle had vowed that his gang would get even with both Walker and Trivette. 

At first Walker had ignored the threats until he found that his rodeo saddle had been tampered with and that Uncle Ray had received disturbing phone calls saying that Walker would be taken care of.  Doyle's cohorts knew where Walker lived and had made several visits there during the times that they knew Walker would not be there. Both Trivette and Walker tried to put the threats out of mind and concentrated with other duties as well as preparing for the rodeo.

The day of the rodeo came, and no more threats had been made.  Walker assumed that they had given up and decided to let Doyle suffer by himself.  Trivette had done well in his class and gained a first place for roping.  Walker had progressed through each of the riding events scoring well in them all, giving him a first place lead.  On his final ride of the day, the bull riding event all was going well.  He was riding hard, had completed the eight second  ride and suddenly grasped at his chest, falling heavily to the ground.  The cheering stopped and an eerie silence took over.  Walker lay motionless, face down, on the ground of the arena. The rodeo clowns tried to distract the bull, which was now ramming it's horns into Walker's body and trampling him with it's hoofs.  Trivette jumped the fence and ran full pelt to where Walker was. The bull had been cornered down the other end of the arena and was now being penned.  Trivette screamed for someone to get an ambulance and for a doctor to come to where he was. No sooner than he had asked, the sirens were audible in the carpark.  Trivette felt for Walker's pulse, it was palpable but very weak.  "C'mon I need a doctor out here now!" he yelled.

Two doctors were making there way to where he was followed by C.D., Alex and McClintock who had been spectating.  The doctors moved Trivette out of the way and turned Walker over to access the problem.  There was a large pool of blood forming on his shirt.  Walker moaned as they positioned him and pulled his hand away from his chest. "He's been shot!"  "Oh, no!" cried Alex.  C.D. and McClintock both pulled Alex back, away from where Walker lay.  "Gary, call it in.  The shot came from over that way" Trivette said pointing towards the east side of the building.  The ambulance was now inside the arena parking close to Walker.  The paramedics got the stretcher out and placed Walker on it.  Back inside the ambulance the doctor's worked to stop the bleeding. 

C.D. took Alex and followed the ambulance to the hospital. Trivette arrived in due course and filled them in on what the Dallas police department was doing.  "Has Uncle Ray been told?" asked Trivette. "Yes, I have rung him, he's on his way in."  Silently the trio stood near the emergency room window as the watched the doctors working on Walker.  Eventually Adriel, who had been one of the paramedics on duty when Walker was rushed to the hospital came out to where they had been waiting.  She directed them to the waiting area down the hall. "Adriel what's going on?" "C.D., I won't lie to you, it doesn't look good right now. I know Walker is a fighter but even I'm afraid he might lose this time."  "Oh God, no!" cried Alex who was shaking.  "Walker is strong, but right now..." Adriel stopped her sentence short feeling her own eyes beginning to fill with tears.  She admired Walker and knew how much this was hurting his friends.  "I'll go and see what I can find out for you, just wait here."  Turning she left them and headed back to the emergency room. 

She returned a short while later with Dr. Williams who had attended Walker at the rodeo. "I'm Dr. Williams" he said introducing himself "Cordell's been shot in the left lung, the bullet is lodged close to the heart. He's lost a lot of blood and we're replacing it as fast as we can. We're preparing him for surgery, but trying to get him stabilized down here first.  The broken ribs he got from the bull are also causing problems.  One has broken in three, the middle section floating paradoxically, so that the lung can't expand properly." C.D. swallowed hard and asked "What are his chances doc?"  "Right now it is hard to say, the sooner we get him to surgery the better."  A nurse came running down the corridor, "Dr. Williams, you're needed urgently, he's crashing!" Turning the doctor ran back to the room where Walker was as the nurse, C.D., Alex, Trivette and Adriel followed. 

In the doorway they gathered to watch he progress.  The doors crashed open and Walker's stretcher was being rushed down the hall with Dr Williams standing on the side of it performing CPR. "What's happening?" screamed Alex.  Adriel put her arms around Alex and explained that Walker's heart had stopped and that they had defibrillated him to establish an even heart beat.  As the medical team disappeared from view C.D. said "It's in the good Lord's hands now."  Then he himself started to cry.

Nearly five hours later Dr. Williams came back to where they had been waiting and told them that Walker had been extremely lucky and was in recovery.  His injuries were varied, gashes in his back, arms and side from the attack by the bull's horns, six broken ribs from it's hoofs and some swelling on the spinal chord also from the bull's attack.  The bullet had fragmented and nicked his heart, and caused damage to his lung. He was breathing with the aid of a respirator, it would still be a fight for him over the next 24 hours and that they were keeping him heavily sedated over that period.  "When can we see him?" asked Alex.  "Give them another hour or so and they will be moving him from recovery to ICU.  I will send a nurse to get you when they have him settled."  C.D. looked upwards and said a silent thank you. "Thank you doctor, we'd really appreciate that" Trivette said whilst shaking his hand.  "Yes, doctor, thank you so very much for everything." "It's not over yet Miss Cahill, Cordell still has a major fight on his hands, but I guess he knows he has you guys out here pulling for him.  Does he have any relatives that should be contacted?"  "Apart from his Uncle Ray, we are all the family he really has." Trivette told him.  "Has his Uncle been contacted?"  "Yes, Sir, he has.  We're waiting on him to arrive." C.D. said.

C.D. and Trivette were discussing the shooting as Uncle Ray walked in to where they were waiting.  Alex seeing him, went over to where he was and embraced him and told him the progress so far.  While they were drinking coffee, a nurse came in to let them know how Walker was doing.  "Can we see him now?" asked Alex.  "Yes, but only for a short while. Come with me" instructed the nurse.  As they entered Walker's room they were visibly shocked to see him lying there, deathly pale. "He's heavily sedated as the doctor told you," stated the nurse "and the surgery he had was major, without complications, but his lungs took a battering and he will be on the respirator for some time."  She walked over to Alex and took her hand placing it in Walker's. "Here, hold his hand a while." Alex smiled at her, how did the nurse know that was what she wanted to do? Gingerly Alex picked up Walker's hand careful not to knock the IV lines that were running into his arm. She tried to hold back in the tears, but it was too much for her to bare and she began to sob uncontrollably. 

Trivette placed his hand on hers and suggested that they go and get a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.  C.D. and Uncle Ray had promised to call them if there was any change.  Uncle Ray stood near the top of Walker's bed and said a Cherokee prayer, invoking the spirits to let Washo fight and live.  C.D. mopped his brow, feeling helpless at not being able to help Walker.  He excused himself from the room and joined Trivette and Alex.  Trivette was the first one to see C.D. enter the room and immediately stood up expecting the worst by the look on C.D.'s face. "Jimmy, it's okay," started C.D. "Uncle Ray is with him right now, nothing's changed."  After they had finished coffee and freshened themselves up a bit they headed back to the ICU unit.  Uncle Ray was still with Walker and smiled to see them returning.  "How's he doing Uncle Ray?" asked Alex.  "Still no change, but give him time." Replied Uncle Ray, his voice full of desperation, as though he too believed that Walker might not make it this time.  As they sat quietly, thinking about the events that had happened, the peacefulness was interrupted by the nursing staff coming into the room.  "I'm sorry but we'll have to ask you to leave, we have to re-dress his wounds, we'll call you when you can come back."  As they left the room they all offered encouraging words to Walker.

Half an hour had passed before the nurses emerged from the room. "You can go back and sit with him again if you'd like" offered the nurse, closest to the door. "Thank you. We'd like that very much" smiled C.D.  As they settled themselves around Walker's bed Trivette commented that it was going to be a long night, to which C.D. suggested that in an hour or so he'd go by the bar and pick up some meals for them all. "Besides.." he said "I have to make sure that Mable isn't running it into the ground and scaring off my customers."  Alex laughed and asked C.D. when he was going to take Mable out on a proper date.  C.D. scoffed at the thought and Trivette not saying anything for fear of having something launched at him grinned like a Cheshire cat.

During the early hours of the next morning Walker started to awaken.  Not realizing that the respirator was breathing for him, he began fighting it and started choking.  Alex hearing the commotion was the first to wake and rang the bell summoning help.  As she was comforting Walker, getting him to quieten down the nurses appeared.  "Ssh Mr. Walker, you're on a respirator, now don't fight it" the senior nurse said.  Walker looked up at her, his eyes now wide open and nodded his head in acknowledgment of what she was saying to him.  The nurses checked his vitals, made sure that the medications were still running into the IV's freely and then left the room, after charting the observations.

Trivette looked down at Walker and said "welcome back man, thought we'd lost you this time."  Walker was finding it hard to focus and closed his eyes drifting off to sleep once more.  When he next awoke he heard C.D. and Trivette talking to each other.  C.D. was the first to notice that Walker was awake and saw him glancing around the room, searching for Alex. "Hey there, Cordell, it's good to see you awake again.  Alex is with Uncle Ray they just went to get some breakfast."  Walker nodded that he understood, but looked distraught that he couldn't communicate properly.  Trivette realizing that this must be his problem produced a note pad and pen. "Is this what you need partner?" Again Walker nodded and took the pen from Trivette. 

He found writing very hard as his right arm had been injured in the fury of the attack by the bull.  He managed to scribble down 'thank you for being here'.  Trivette read the note aloud and smiled back at Walker saying "any time man."

Uncle Ray and Alex came back to see Walker wide awake and scribbling down notes.  Alex kissed him on his forehead and said "So you found a way of talking after all, wondered how long it was going to take."  Walker scribbled 'you'll keep'. C.D. laughed "Ya know Cordell, it is kinda peaceful like this, we can say what we like and you can't say a thing about it."  Walker threw the pen at C.D. and then looked sorry that he had.  He wondered how long it would be before C.D. gave it back to him. It wasn't too long before C.D. gave him the pen back, so he could continue writing.  Trivette suggested that they get him a Magna Doodle board, that way it would be a saving on pen and paper.  They all started laughing and didn't hear Dr. Williams come in to the room. "Seems everyone is in good spirits this morning, how are you Cordell?"  'I'm fine" he wrote on his notepad.  Turning to the others in the room he asked if they would mind waiting outside while he checked Walker.  Obeying they left and C.D. told Walker to be nice and don't give the doctor a hard time. 'As if!" Walker scribed.

When C.D. left, Dr Williams informed Walker that the respirator would come out when his lungs had healed sufficiently, knowing that was the question that Walker wanted to ask. "Can you feel your legs Cordell?"  Walker shook his head saying 'no'.  Dr Williams explained to Walker that when the bull had trampled his back, the spinal cord had been damaged and it was now a wait and see process as to whether he'd walk again.  They didn't know if the nerves had been damaged.  Walker's face lost all expression as the thought of not walking again hit him.  Dr. Williams seeing that Walker was distressed reminded him that it would be some time before they knew for sure. 'Thanks, I needed that' wrote Walker.  "Do you want me to put these bits of paper in the bin before the others come back?"  Walker nodded giving him the pieces of paper, he shook his hand. "No overdoing things, if you get tired go to sleep. Okay?" Again Walker nodded. Before Dr. Williams left the room he went back to tell Walker he'd be back later in the morning, he never got the chance as Walker had drifted off to sleep, exhausted by his earlier efforts of writing.

When he next awoke it was early evening, the curtains had been drawn and the room dimly lit.  There was enough light for him to make out the figure in the chair near his bed.  He gazed at the outline of her body admiring how wonderful she looked, he was deep in thought when he heard the door open.  He saw Trivette come in and gently wake Alex. "Here, have this.  C.D. made it for you." Trivette said while passing Alex a meal.  He looked over at the bed and saw that Walker was awake, watching them both. "Hey, look, Sleeping Beauty is awake!" exclaimed Trivette.  Alex kissed Walker on the forehead, telling him it was good to see him awake, and explained that Dr. Williams had done his rounds twice to find that Walker had been asleep the whole time.  Trivette and Alex continued talking to Walker while he either nodded and moved his head sideways to answer any questions.  It was not long before he was asleep again and left Alex and Trivette talking to themselves.

The next morning when he awoke, it was not Alex or Trivette who greeted him but Uncle Ray and C.D. "The doc tells me they are going to take that tube out of your throat this morning, seems you let your body get some rest for a change so it could start healing.  See what happens when you listen to the doctors advice, son."  C.D. said and moved closer to him and asked him if he had any feeling back in his legs yet.  Walker motioned 'no' with his head, while C.D. patted his arm and told him to give it time.  "Washo, like all things good it takes time," Uncle Ray told him. The in a lighter tone he said "You know what these spirits are like."

It was not too long before Dr. Williams entered with an intern and a nurse and asked Uncle Ray and C.D. if they'd mind waiting outside while they took out the respirator tube.  Happily they both left the room, knowing that this was a good sign that Walker was improving. He was met outside by Alex and Trivette who had just arrived.  "What's happening?" Alex asked, her voice a little shaky, seeing Uncle Ray and C.D. outside the room.  C.D. embraced her and told her everything was fine, that the respirator was being removed as Walker's condition was much better.

The door to Walker's room opened and as the intern and nurse left, the happy trio went in.  The respirator had been removed but a nasal cannal had taken it's place.  The doctor explained that although his lungs were stronger he still need support with breathing.  He also told them to keep the notepad and pen handy as Walker's throat was going to be rather sore over the next couple of days.  Before he left he said "Cordell, use the notepad don't try talking just yet." Looking at C.D. he said "If he needs anything ring the bell." The rest of the morning passed with notes being scribbled.  Uncle Ray had said that he had to go and look after the horses, taking Trivette with him.  Alex and C.D. suggested that Walker get some sleep and they'd be back later.  It didn't take long for Walker to nod off to sleep. 

He'd been asleep nearly five hours when he heard a scuffle outside his room.  He thought about reaching for the bell and ringing the nurse, when Alex walked in.  "Hey there Cowboy, have a good sleep?"  'Hey yourself, yes and what's all the noise for?' he wrote. Alex avoided his gaze, but Walker kept writing and underlining 'what's wrong?'.  Unable to ignore his request for an answer she told him that someone had come into his room and written a message for Trivette, saying that Trivette would be next and that the Dallas Police Department were investigating. Getting frustrated with writing Walker asked in a hoarse whisper "Where's Trivette?" "He's outside with Gary and another officer, trying to work out how someone got into your room, he thinks the threats were made Doyle's partners.  It seems because you were out of the way they could get to Trivette easily, well that is the theory at present." Walker sighed and slumped back onto his pillows, frustrated at not being able to help.

Trivette came in when he heard Alex talking to Walker. "Hey partner, how are you?" 'I'm fine. You?' Walker asked.  "I'm fine, don't worry.  You're looking much brighter than you did a few hours ago." 'Don't change the subject!' "I'm not." Trivette said defensively.  Gary McClintock came in and said his hello's to Walker and Alex. "Well I guess you've heard then?" 'Yes.  What's being done Gary?' "Jeez, Cordell I didn't believe them when they said you were talking. I thought after having that tube stuck down your throat, you wouldn't be able to for a while, man was I wrong" Gary laughed. Alex with a stern look on her face said "Don't encourage him, he's not meant to be talking at all just yet!"  Walker looking directly at her and smiled "I wouldn't exactly call it talking, more like whispering!" Trivette laughed as stopped abruptly as Alex scowled at him. Clearing his throat Walker asked for a drink of water.

Trivette and Sheridan filled Walker in on what was happening and that they had a lead they were working on.  "You look tired Walker, why don't you get some rest, we'll be back later to let you know how we got on." "Trivette." "Yeah Walker." "Be careful, these guys mean business." Trivette smiled and taking McClintock left Walker alone with Alex.

"Hope they find something" said Walker, his voice barely more than a hoarse whisper. He closed his eyes and leaned back into the pillows.  Alex stood over him and brushing his fringe with her hand told him to get some sleep and that she'd be back later.

Trivette and McClintock had spent nearly two hours following up the lead they were given.  They had run into a lot of dead ends and had also been lucky enough to pick up some valuable information, from an unwilling informant.  When Trivette had reminded Webber of an outstanding 'favor' that Walker had given him he changed his mind.  Finding themselves outside an old abandoned meat works, Trivette cautioned McClintock to be careful.  They had been covering each other through all the entrances and had entered another room when they heard the door shut behind them. Spinning round to see if anyone had entered the room, they heard a voice come from the back of them. "So, you brought company Trivette!" "Who are you and what do you want?" asked Trivette, trying to peer into the corner where the voice was coming from. "You know what I want! I want you and Walker dead!" Trivette heard the sound of a gun being cocked and grabbing for McClintock, dove to the floor as a bullet whistled by, embedding itself into the wall behind where they had been standing.  Rolling to his left Trivette picked himself up off the floor and aimed his gun directly to where the voice had come from.  He fired and heard something crash to the floor.  That sounded metal he thought to himself.  No more shots came in his or McClintock's direction and it was then that he steeled himself to pounce on the assailant.  To his surprise there was no one else in the room, he had landed on a table that had a small tape deck on it.  "Open the door and let some light in." Ordered Trivette.  McClintock scrambled to the door and did so.  What they saw shocked them, they had been set up.  On the floor they found the tape machine with pre-programmed responses on the tape.  Beside it lay the rifle that had fired at them. On investigating the room they soon saw a switch on the floor a meter inside from the door. When depressed the door shut and a relay running from the door to the tape machine, activating it.  Realizing this they hurriedly left the room.  Trivette mentioned to Gary that Webber knew they were coming to the warehouse, and that he was the one who had given them the lead to go and search there. 

In the car McClintock reasoned with Trivette that Webber, must have been threatened by someone to make him give them both a wrong lead. Yeah, but who would have known that we would be asking Webber for some information, Trivette thought to himself. "I guess we should go back to headquarters and see what the others have been able to find out." Suggested Trivette.  "You reading my thoughts Jimmy?" asked McClintock. "Yeah, must be.  But first I want to call past C.D.'s, he may know something."  "Good, I could do with a coffee about now." Laughed McClintock.

When they got to C.D.'s they filled him on what had been happening.  "Lord! Are you both okay?" exclaimed C.D. while checking them up and down for any injuries. "Whoever is out to get you, seems to know your every move Jimmy.  Who's toes have you and Cordell been stepping on a little too hard lately?"  Trivette looked up at C.D. and with a blank expression said "Take your pick Big Dog.  I thought it was something to do with the extradition case but now.. I'm not so sure!"  "What was the last case you were working on with Cordell before the shooting?" questioned C.D.  McClintock answered for Trivette and said it was an extortion racket that Trivette and Walker had shut down.  "Could be it."  "No, C.D., I don't think so, this is a personal attack, the way this person knows our every move, knew what room Walker is in at hospital.." C.D. let them finish their coffees, while he thought about any possible suspects. Though retired he seemed to know more about the ongoing cases than a lot of the other Rangers did.  "Well C.D., thanks for the coffee and we'll see you later."  "Yeah, okay Jimmy.  Hey you heard how Cordell is doing?" "the last I heard was that he'd overdone it trying to talk and had gone to sleep. I'm going back up to see him later on."  "I'll see you there then.  Bye Jimmy, bye Gary."

When Trivette and McClintock got back to headquarters the Captain had called them both into his office. "Sit down, please." As Trivette and McClintock sat the Captain continued. "This letter arrived this morning, while you two were at the warehouse.  It seems whoever sent it hadn't reckoned on your surviving, by now, he must have realized that he was wrong."  "What's the letter say?" inquired Trivette.  The Captain handed the letter over to Trivette to read, while McClintock read over his shoulder.  The letter read:

            Captain, This is your last chance to call your Rangers off.  I got rid of two more this morning and I'll soon finish off the one in hospital.  No witnesses - no case.      I'm watching.

Trivette shuddered blowing out a low whistle. "If this guy is watching like he said, he'll definitely know he failed in taking us out....that means..." "What Jimmy?" asked McClintock. The Captain answered for him, "He'll try and get to Walker! Get over to the hospital now. Hurry!"  Trivette and McClintock left for the hospital immediately, while the Captain called ahead to tighten security.

"Hello, nice day." Spoke the orderly as he entered into Walker's room.  "Wait a minute, what are you going in there for?" questioned the guard as the orderly moved closer to the door. "Haven't you been told?  I have to take Walker down for some x-rays."  "Seems odd. No one mentioned it to me.  Where's your clearance papers for this?"  As the orderly moved a syringe from his pocket he said "Right here!", before injecting the guard with a tranquilizer.  As the guard slumped, the orderly caught him and dragged him into Walker's room. Hearing the sounds in his room, Walker awoke to see the orderly standing over him. Walker tried to regain his senses, trying to focus his eyes on the orderly.  He thought he recognized him.  While thinking where he had seen him before the orderly interrupted his thoughts. "We're going for a little ride Ranger Walker!" Walker tried to reach the bell and summon help, but the orderly knocked it out of his reach. "What do you want?" Walker asked, his voice barely audible.  The orderly placed a hand on Walker's broken ribs and began to apply pressure. Grimacing in pain, Walker tried to pull his hand away. The orderly laughing menacingly said "You're efforts are futile, don't struggle Walker, I know about your injuries, you are no threat to me like this!"  He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out another syringe. He held it over Walker as he said "Be quiet and I won't have to use it, for now I need you alive, understand?"  Walker motioned that he understood and closed his eyes, wishing that Alex hadn't picked now as a time to visit. It was while he was thinking of Alex that he remembered where he'd seen the orderly's face, it was Chris Jeffs.  He and Trivette had caught him for selling drugs to kids and had closed down his operation.  Alex had made sure that Jeffs was going to go to prison for some time.  But how did he get out so early?  He opened his eyes to see Jeffs was releasing the brakes on the bed. "Jeffs..." he started to say. "So you figured it out, was wondering how long it would take you, shame you're partner isn't here to be a part of this.....but I took care of him and McClintock this morning!"  "You what?!" Walker struggled to ask.  "Had them set up, it was your informant what did it for me...Webber." Jeffs disconnected the Oxygen supply that Walker had been receiving through the nasal cannula and pushed the bed out the door and down the corridor to a service elevator.  As he pushed the button on the elevator panel a nurse questioned him as to where he was taking Walker.  "Down to x-rays, here's the paper work." He pretended to reach into his pocket and pulled his hand away, hitting the nurse in the face, she fell to the floor of the elevator, blacking out. Walker shook his head in disbelief, wishing that he could have done something to stop Jeffs' cowardly attack.

Trivette and McClintock arrived at the hospital going straight to Walker's room.  They were alarmed to see that there was no guard outside his room.  Trivette was the first to enter Walker's room and yelled to McClintock to come in. Trivette was crouched down beside the guard, gently shaking him, telling him to wake up.  The guard stirred, very groggy and shook his head, trying to clear it.  "What happened?" asked Trivette frantically. "I..I don't really know, I mean I was talking to the orderly and the next thing I know I'm here on the floor."  "Can you remember anything at all?" questioned Trivette, "did the orderly look familiar, did he say where he was taking Walker?"  Sitting up the guard had flashbacks as to what had happened.  "Yeah, he said something about taking Walker down for x-rays, sorry I can't recall much more than that."  Two nurses entered the room, upon hearing the bell ring.  They surveyed the empty room and saw Trivette crouching on the floor with the guard.  "What happened?" asked one.  "An orderly came in and before attacking the guard, told him that he was taking Walker down for x-rays." Replied Trivette.  "But there's no x-rays scheduled for him today ......oh no!"  "Look, take care of the guard, we'll get security onto it and try and find out which way the orderly went with Walker."  Trivette and McClintock did not have to wait long to find out which way the orderly had gone, as the nurse that was attacked by Jeffs was telling one of the security officers what she knew. "Trivette," called Ethan, "seems this guy took Walker down to the Ambulance Bay, I've got some guys down there now, haven't heard yet whether they have found anything or not." "Thanks Ethan, we'll go and take a look, call us if you find anything."

Jeffs had found an ambulance that was obscured from everything else and had loaded Walker into it.  He had taken the precaution of strapping Walker to the stretcher he had forced him to get on. It hadn't been easy getting Walker onto the stretcher, although Walker had struggled to get himself on it, he still was unable to move his legs.  Jeffs had unmercifully dragged him across from the bed to the stretcher, in the process jarring Walker's broken ribs.  Once inside the ambulance, Jeffs placed an oxygen mask over Walker's face, helping him to breathe.  While Jeffs had been busy tightening the restraints around Walker's arms he reminded Walker that he did still need him alive ...for now.  Whatever the reason, Walker was grateful for the consideration he'd shown in giving him the oxygen mask.

Trivette and McClintock, got to the ambulance bay in time to see an ambulance leaving the building at great speed.  McClintock had been able to write down a partial number plate and headed off to question the ambulance drivers as to who normally drove that particular ambulance. Trivette radioed Ethan to let him know that they had seen an ambulance leave the hospital and suspected that Walker was inside it.  McClintock, having found out the information he needed headed back to where he'd separated from Trivette.  "Here, I've got it, the license plate is one of those new word plates so it should be easy to follow. It is PMED12."  "I'll get an air search going, see if we can spot it from the air.  I guess that I'd better call Alex and C.D., let them know what has happened." Trivette said as he kicked at the wall in frustration.

Jeffs had maneuvered through traffic using the sirens, to get the stream of cars move out of his way.  Looking back at Walker he maliciously laughed "If only they knew huh Walker? That I'm taking a patient away from the hospital, not to it!"  Walker desperately wished that he could fend for himself right now, but knew that the odds were stacked against him considerably this time.

Trivette made the phone calls to Alex and C.D.  It had been hard telling them he didn't know who had taken Walker or what his motives were for doing it.  Alex had told him that her office was working on a list of names that had made death threats against Walker and Trivette, and that there had been a few.  Trivette had suggested to her to follow up on any person serving a large sentence, they could have contacts still willing to work for them.  Alex said if she had more news she'd call.  Trivette promised the same.

Jeffs turned from the main road onto an unsealed one and drove another 25 kilometers down it before stopping outside an old shed.  The rough ride had bounced Walker around a lot, the pain was unbearable.  He could feel his ribs stabbing at him, finally causing him to lose consciousness.  Jeffs blasted on the horns, signaling the person inside the building to open the doors, safely inside he parked the ambulance and called to his cohort to come and help unload Walker.  Together they got Walker out of the ambulance and wheeled the stretcher to a room off to the side.  "That should hold him for now" scoffed Bradshaw. Jeffs grabbed Bradshaw by the collar and looking hard at it him said "Never, underestimate Walker!  If he can find a way out, you can rest assured he will. Understand?!"  Bradshaw understood what Jeffs had meant and quickly bolted the door.  "That's better, you're learning.  You just might live to see another day yet." Laughed Jeffs.

Several reports of an ambulance being seen speeding out of the metropolitan area were coming in, the last from a farmer who had been driving his tractor down an old road.  Anxiously Trivette followed up on the final lead and retrieved an aerial map from the county clerk's office. "C'mon Gary, I've got a helicopter waiting, I have an idea of where he might be holding Walker."  C.D. had told Trivette that he would be coming with him and that there would be no talking him out of it.  Reluctantly Trivette agreed to C.D. coming.  He knew that deep down, had he said 'no', C.D. would have still gone along anyway.

Gradually Walker regained consciousness.  He tried hard to make out the shapes in the room, to give him some idea on where he was being held.  He thought he'd heard an old tractor pass by, but wasn't certain.  Then he heard cattle bellowing.  He knew then he was in the country somewhere.  Walker struggled with the bindings that were holding him down.  Gasping for breath he stopped his fight for freedom, thinking he give it another go soon.  A lot of thoughts were madly racing through his mind.  Why did Jeffs still need him alive, if he wanted revenge why didn't he kill him when he had the chance? Would Trivette be out looking for him? Of course he would, Walker dismissed that thought. Finally his deepest thoughts were of Alex.  What made her continue to love him, when he was a target for every criminal in Texas?  How did she put up with it? He was reminiscing of the time when they had argued with each other that there was nothing between them and ended up in a passionate kiss and loving embrace, when the door opened and Jeffs entered.

"So you're awake now! Thought you'd already died on me.  Can't have that just yet!" Jeffs snarled at Walker while holding a knife to his throat.  "If you wanted me dead already you would have done it by now! What's all this about?" Walker asked in retaliation.  "You'll find out in due course.  Now look Walker, I came in here to be civil and to make sure that you hadn't died on me just yet, I do want you healthy for a bit longer yet!" "Sure! What's the catch?"  "Let's just say that corpses don't make for good hostages.  Can't bargain with a dead body now can I?"  "A bargain?  For what?" questioned Walker, between gasps for air. Jeffs could see that Walker was struggling for breath and called for Bradshaw to bring the portable oxygen bottle and mask from the ambulance.  "You see Walker," said Jeffs as he placed the mask over Walker's face, "Right now you are more valuable to me alive.  I suggest you get some rest and stay that way."  Before Jeffs left the room, he loosened the straps a little, allowing Walker to be a bit more comfortable.  Walker was totally confused. Why would a man like Jeffs really care about Walker's well being?  What was Walker's life being bargained for?  Not able to think clearly anymore, he let himself relax and gave in to sleep.

C.D., Trivette and McClintock were busy scanning the rural area below, noticing any building large enough to allow an ambulance.  There were several in the vicinity and searching them was going to take time.  Time they knew they could ill afford.  They descended to begin the search for Walker.  The first few turned out to be so full of hay that the doors barely shut.

Jeffs and Bradshaw were discussing what was to become of Walker when Murdoch and his associates arrived.  "Afternoon.  How was your trip?" asked Jeff’s. "Dusty" replied Murdoch as he brushed down his clothes.  "Yeah its been like that around here for a while" commented Jeffs. "Enough of the pleasantries. You have what I want?" Growled Murdoch.

"Yeah, he's in the back room inside.  He won't be causing you any problems this time." Smiled Jeffs, trying to appease Murdoch.  Rubbing his jaw, Murdoch sarcastically replied "That is such a shame, I would have liked a re-match!"  "You have what I asked for?" questioned Jeffs.  "What do you take me for?  A fool?  Of course I have it!" Murdoch summoned one of his associates forward and motioned for him to open the case.  Jeffs looked at the contents and cut open one of the packets, sampling the pureness of the drug.

"Real good!" smiled Jeffs "This is going to make a lot of people happy, especially me!"  "Now, show me where Walker is.  There are a lot of 'old friends' of his wanting to reacquaint themselves with him." Laughed Murdoch.  Jeffs showed him where Walker was.  Murdoch stood over Walker as he slept. "The mighty Texas Ranger! How the mighty have fallen" he scoffed.  Walker hearing voices, cautiously opened his eyes.  Blinking he accustomed his eyes to the light.  It was then he saw Murdoch.  Reading his thoughts, Murdoch spoke "I bet you thought I was dead and buried didn't you Ranger?"  Walker shook his head in disbelief.  He had been told that Murdoch had been killed, he realized now that was ruse to stop him and Trivette from capturing him.  The newspaper reports about his death a fabrication.  "Well Walker, you don't look so dangerous now.  Lying there so helpless." Walker started to speak but the mask muffled what he was trying to say.

Murdoch removed the mask and asked Walker what he had said. "I said....go to hell!" answered Walker. "Well I guess I'll see you there!" snapped Murdoch. "Why don't you go first, Murdoch.  Take these clowns with you!" Walker replied.  Infuriated with Walker's reply, Murdoch punched him in his jaw with such a force that even his own hand hurt.  "I owed you that Walker." Murdoch said while rubbing his hand.  There was no reply from Walker, he was mentally trying to block out the new pain that he was now feeling. "Think you must have broke his jaw!" Laughed Jeffs.  Walker thought that as well, his jaw hurting when he tried to move it.

Trivette had suggested that they look over the two properties closest to the roadside.  The first one revealed nothing and when they got to the second they saw he doors on the barn open and a van and car parked outside.  "Could be it.  Frank land down there will you?" asked Trivette.  "Sure thing Jimmy.  Will be down soon."  When they landed a safe distance away Trivette and McClintock ran to the building.  C.D. tried keeping up but was soon out of breath.  How he wished he was young and fit like a buck rabbit again.  While catching his breath C.D. noticed that the van had an out of state license plate.  He caught up to where Trivette and McClintock had taken cover and asked them what they had been able to find out. McClintock informed him that they could hear talk coming from in the building, angry voices, but couldn't really make out what they were saying.  C.D. told them that the van was from out of state and a search of it revealed a lot of firearms.  "I'm willing to bet Cordell is in there Jimmy."  "Me too, C.D.  So how are we going to play this?"  "I just wish I knew Jimmy" sighed C.D.  His wish was answered for him as the two associates of Murdoch emerged from the building.  McClintock signaled to Trivette that they take on one each. Nodding in agreement, Trivette snuck around behind the van.  Sheridan flanked the other side.  It was not long before they had both subdued both the men and had them cuffed and gagged. "Well that's two down" whispered McClintock.  "Yeah but how many more?" asked Trivette.  "My guess is three or four," answered C.D. "Cordell's in there with them."  "C'mon Gary we’ll go this way, C.D. cover us from behind." "Jimmy ...Mark ....be careful" "We will, C.D., come on we'd better get moving before they realize their partners aren't coming back."

Jeffs and Murdoch were beginning to wonder what had happened to Brody and Steed when they heard footsteps in the barn.  "Where the hell have you two been?" yelled Murdoch as he and Jeffs pushed the stretcher out of the room and into the open.  There was no reply. They could not see them anywhere. "Bradshaw go see if you can find them" ordered Jeffs.  "Tell them we need some help with Walker!"  C.D. saw Bradshaw exiting the barn and sprang upon him, knocking him to the ground.  Bradshaw tried to shake C.D. off him and punched him in the face. C.D. annoyed that he'd let Bradshaw get the better of him, hit him on the back of the head, knocking him out.  Trivette realized that it was now an even match as only Jeffs and Murdoch remained.  He pointed for McClintock to go left while he took the right side.  Trivette emerged from his hiding place. "Freeze! Texas Rangers!," he shouted, "drop your guns!"  Murdoch looked straight at Trivette.  "Are you that good a shot Ranger! Can you risk shooting your partner instead of me?!"  Trivette lowered his gun slightly, giving Murdoch a chance for a clear shot at him.  As Murdoch aimed at Trivette a shot rang out from the opposite direction, hitting Murdoch in the top of his leg.  As he stumbled on to the stretcher, knocking it to the ground he fired at Trivette, wounding him in his shoulder.  C.D. looked on in horror as he saw the upturned stretcher and Walker trapped beneath it.  McClintock fired above Jeffs' head, causing him to stop in his tracks and put his hands up in surrender.  Trivette walked towards Murdoch, his gun trained on him. "Drop it! Drop your gun. Now!" yelled Trivette.  Murdoch turned his gun and pointed it at Walker's head.  He pulled back the trigger and squeezed. "No!" screamed Trivette.  Several things seemed to happen all at once.  Trivette had heard a shot fired, but couldn't make out why it was Murdoch that lay motionless on the floor.  It was then he realizes that it was C.D.'s bullet that had been fired, not Murdoch's.  C.D. had shot Murdoch through the heart.  McClintock cuffed Murdoch while Trivette and C.D. scrambled to where Walker lay.  Trivette pulled Murdoch's body out of the way and helped C.D. turn the stretcher over.  Immediately C.D. felt for Walker's pulse.  Trivette and McClintock looked on, silent praying that Walker was still alive.  "He's alive!" cried C.D., tears starting to roll down his face. Trivette looked upwards and offered a silent 'thank you'.  McClintock noticed a large pool of blood forming on Trivette's jacket.  "Trivette," McClintock said with concern.  C.D. looked up to see what McClintock was so concerned about.  "Oh Lord!" C.D. said, seeing the blood on Trivette.  McClintock inspected the wound and said that the bullet had gone right through.  Beginning to feel the pain set in, Trivette said "My new suit. Aw man! It cost me $500.00" "Always told you, that you paid too much for them" laughed McClintock.

"Where's Walker?" said a loud voice.  "Adriel, what are you doing here?" asked C.D. and Trivette in unison, surprised to see her.  "Frank radioed it all in, said there was a lot of shots being fired and to get a rescue team out here.  Now where's my patient?"  Adriel saw the stretcher and pushed her way through C.D. and Trivette who were still dumbfounded to see her. "Uh, right here," said C.D. "we were about to get him back to the hospital."  Adriel proceeded with her work and called to Tony her co-worker to bring a fresh oxygen bottle out of the helicopter.  "How is he?" asked C.D.  "Not good, sugar" came a solemn reply.  Once Adriel had checked Walker's pulse, injuries and had established a steady, all be it, a labored breathing flow for him, she and Tony took Walker to the waiting helicopter.  "You'd better come with us too, James."  Trivette had forgotten about his shoulder, being more concerned with Walker.  "Off you go son," said C.D. "Mark and I will fly back with Frank and get to the hospital as soon as we can.  I'll call Alex on the way back."

Within twenty minutes the rescue helicopter was landing on the roof of the hospital.  An emergency team waiting on the roof top for them.  Walker was rushed straight to surgery and Trivette taken to the emergency room.  C.D. and Alex were waiting anxiously outside the E.R. door.  After what seemed an eternity Trivette was wheeled out on a bed and taken to a room on the surgical floor.  C.D. and Alex were with him when he started coming out of the anesthetic.  "Walker.  How is he?" asked Trivette trying to shake the fogginess from his head. "We haven't heard anything yet" whimpered Alex.  "If we don't hear anything soon, I'll go and find a nurse" comforted C.D. as he put an arm around Alex.  Trivette tried to stay awake but his eyes were getting heavier, he drifted back off to sleep.

Alex was drinking her cup of coffee when she noticed Trivette moving in his bed. "Hi Jimmy." she said, kissing him on the cheek.  Trivette looked around the room, before asking "Where's C.D.?  How's Walker?" "C.D. is trying to find out how Walker is doing, we haven't been able to find out much at all, from what I can understand, he's still in surgery."  "Still? Jeez, they must have messed him real good.  He didn't look..." Before Trivette could finish his sentence C.D. came back into the room.  Knowing what they were both wanting to hear C.D. hugged Alex and gently said "Cordell's out of surgery and in recovery. Uncle Ray is with him. The doc said one of his ribs had embedded itself in his right lung, they fixed that and realigned his ribs."  "Thank God," Alex cried "but what took so long?" "Well..." started C.D. "they had to wire his jaw, also had to set his leg right leg in plaster.." "What?!" Trivette asked incredulously.  "Seems that Murdoch broke Cordell's jaw, at least that's what we figure as the coroner said that Murdoch had a couple of broken fingers.  From what I can work out, during the shooting, when Cordell was upended, well with Murdoch landing on top of him pushing the stretcher down, he damn well broke Cordell's leg."  Alex gulped at the thought of it all.  "Did they say if there was any further damage to Cordell's back?"  "No.  They won't know that until he comes out of the anesthetic.  We'll just have to wait and see."

Trivette lay back on his pillows and closed his eyes, silently praying that all would work out okay.  Alex sat still, crying silent tears. "Hey.  C'mon. Don't you two go losing it on me....he'll pull through."  "C.D.. it's just that...what if he can't walk again?" sobbed Alex.  "Does that make him any less of a person if he can't?  NO it doesn't! He'll adjust, damn, we'll all adjust, you know that."  They sat in silence each thinking about how Walker would cope.

A short time later Uncle Ray appeared. He spoke before any of them could ask about Walker. "Washo will be fine. Don't you worry none.  I asked the doctors if they could move him down here when he wakes." "That's great Uncle Ray," said Alex "did the doctor say when that would be?"  "In a few hours Alex." Smiling C.D. said that it sure would make visiting a lot easier.

Three hours had passed when Walker was wheeled into the room, still asleep and hooked up to a multitude of IV lines and monitors. C.D. was the first to go over to him after the nursing staff had left.  "It sure is mighty good to have you back Cordell."  C.D. felt Alex beside him and said "Honey, he'll be fine, just you wait and see." Trivette had dozed off to sleep and C.D., Alex and Uncle Ray decided that it would be a good time to leave them both to rest.  On their way past the nurses' station, they asked them to come and get them if Walker woke while they were having some dinner.

Trivette had not been awake long when he heard Walker starting to fidget.  He got himself out of his bed and stood beside Walker gazing down at him. "Was wondering when you were going to wake up." Smiled Trivette.  Not being able to talk properly, Walker gave up trying to and just returned the smile.  "They're having dinner, they'll be back soon" Trivette said, guessing that was what Walker wanted to know. Walker mouthed the words "Thank You".  He closed his eyes for what only seemed a few seconds, when he next opened them he saw three smiling faces looking down at him.

The next few days passed without incident.  Trivette's shoulder had healed enough for him to leave the hospital and the swelling had gone down in Walker's back. Finally a sensation of being able to feel his legs was coming back to him, bringing relief to all concerned.  The case of kidnapping and attempted murder had been tried against Jeffs. Alex had succeeded in having Jeffs sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.  Walker although confined to bed was for a change obeying doctors orders.

Ten days after his operation, Walker was sitting at C.D.'s in a wheelchair which had been provided for him, as a form of mobility, scanning the newspaper.  "What are you reading Cordell?" asked C.D. "Not a lot...just the ro.."  Before Walker could finish his sentence C.D. had snatched the paper from him. "OH Brother! Rodeo! Cordell...I guess some things will never change." "Yep," chuckled Walker "I couldn't agree with you more!" They were still laughing when Alex and Trivette walked in.  "Well it's good to see you in a happy mood, what are you laughing at?" "Oh Cordell, thought he might enter Jimmy in another rodeo!" "No way! Uh uh..... not after the last one, that was one rough ride."  "You can say that again Trivette, actually you did really well considering..."  "Considering what partner?" "Considering that you had never ridden before."  "Yeah well, if you don't mind, I'll just stick to the nice leisurely rides, I'll leave that rough riding to you." "And what is that supposed to mean - that you'll push me down the steps when you get the chance?" Laughed Walker.  "Hey, now that's an idea" said Trivette unable to contain his laughter. "Now look here you two" scolded C.D., "Jimmy you just let Cordell have some time to get that body of his healed, no rough stuff!" "C.D., would I ever do anything to upset you?" smiled Walker.  Together C.D. and Alex replied "Oh no, never!"

Over time Walker's injuries healed although he had to get around with the use of crutches, the leg had taken longer to heal than anyone expected.  Alex had gotten used to being a chauffeur for him and had begun to like driving his truck which worried Walker a little.  C.D. put it all down to changes that life brings every now and then ...and Trivette, well he vowed and declared only to ride a horse that enabled him to have both feet on the ground at the same time.

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Walker Texas Ranger and it’s characters belong to CBS Inc., Top Kick Productions and maybe other copyright holders. This story and the author is in no way connected to those copyright holders and intends no infringement on their copyrights. The story is only meant as an entertaining tribute to a great show and it’s actors. This story is part of a mailing ring and  may be distributed and copied freely, in its entirety, for personal use.

All original author and copyright information must remain intact.

Any sales or other uses of this document are expressly forbidden, without the specific consent of the author(s).

As well as the above disclaimers regarding WTR, characters etc. I wish to note that any reference to the metric system is not to confuse you but I don't work in imperials miles, feet and such (They are frustrating to convert).  Any grammatical errors such as words being spelt differently (correctly) are courtesy of the NZ dictionary, eg    color - colour.