The House on Maple Street

Lynn Bango

Jimmy pulled into the driveway of 23113 Maple Street at around noon and just sat there. Today was one of the most beautiful Saturdays he had ever seen. A day when people were taking walks through the park, having picnics, and talking with friends at cookouts. Jimmy felt that it should be raining, cloudy, and just that it should be gloomy all around. This was the day that Walker, Alex, and himself had to clean out C.D.'s house. A house none of them had ever been in or even knew of. In his head he felt that it wasn't a time for happiness or fun, but a time for sadness and mourning.

The reading of C.D.'s last will still rang loudly in Jimmy's head. As he looked at Walker's Ram in the driveway, Jimmy remembered how Walker led Alex out to it after they had found that they would take over his home. They were to do with it what they saw fit. Walker, himself, was still in shock, but still managed to comfort Alex. She was a mess. Jimmy was able to see the pain in her eyes when the attorney read. Walker had the same look no matter how much he tried to hide it. As he got out of his car, Jimmy pictured himself blindly walking to open his door after finding out he was left control of the bar. C.D. also left his intention that Mable would be the one to manage it. Jimmy had taken a ragged breath when he was told. Everything seemed so final now. So over. His heart felt empty.

"Here it goes," he told himself quietly.

He walked inside and found Walker and Alex sitting on the couch.
"Hey, you two."

"Hi. This is going to be rough."

"Alex, do you want to go home? Jimmy and I can handle this."

She looked at her two friends. "They can't handle this any better then me," she thought to herself. "No, I'll stay. I need to do this. Lets get started."

Walker looked at her face. She did need this. They all did. None of them have really accepted his death. "Okay, then lets get going. Jimmy and I'll work down here. Why don't you get started upstairs?"

"All right. I'll be down in a bit." After that, Alex turned and started up the stairs.

Jimmy watched her walk up. When she was out of sight, he said, "She's taking this pretty well."

"Not as well as she wants us to think. C.D. was the only real father that she has known for a long time. Up until she met him... she didn't know what a father could be like. Alex finally had someone she thought would never leave. Unlike Gordon did, C.D. isn't coming back," Walker told his partner. "What ever we do, we CAN'T leave her here."

"Don't worry about that. I'm not planning on going anywhere.

Alex walked upstairs not knowing what she was going to find. She decided to start in the attic and work her way down. When she opened the door, her nose was filled with a musty smell that made her sneeze. Looking around, she saw dust covered boxes, a blurry window that let light into some places, and other things that haven't been touched for years. "When was the last time C.D. was up here?" she muttered to herself.

Alex went over to one of the smaller boxes and blew away a layer of dust. As she did that, she carefully opened the top. Inside, she found old pictures, letters, articles, and some other little memorabilia that C.D. had kept. She picked up one of the photographs. It was what looked to be a younger version of C.D. Parker. Standing next to him was a young woman with lightly-colored hair and a beautiful smile. Alex picked up another photo. This was one of just the woman and she was holding the baby. At the bottom, the date read June 12, 1953. Alex wondered who this was.

She couldn't find a name on it at all.
"Walker! Jimmy!"

Downstairs, the men looked at one another. They both went charging up the steps.

"Alex, are you okay? What's wrong?" Walker asked.

"Hang on a minute, Alex!"

They went up into the attic and found Alex hunched over a box. She turned around to their blank looks. "Look what I found. They seem to be old pictures of C.D. Do either of you know who this is?"

Jimmy took the pictures from Alex. He looked at both the woman and the baby. "I don't know who this is, Alex. Any ideas, Walker?"

"Let me see." Walker studied the picture for a minute. "I think that's C.D.'s wife. I don't know who the baby is though. In the back... that looks like a hospital." He handed the picture back to Alex.

She looked around the box real fast. In the back corner of the box she found a faded pink blanket with a newspaper clipping on top. The name "Christina" was sewn into the blanket. The three friends looked at both. "What does the article say?" Jimmy asked.

"The date on the article is the same on the picture. The article says:

On the very day they were coming home from the hospital, Loretta Parker and her newborn, Christina Ashley, were killed. It happened on route to their home in South Dallas. Also in the car was Loretta's husband, Texas Ranger C.D. Parker. He was seriously injured in the accident. A drunk driver, who's name has not been released at this time, tried to cross four lanes of traffic. He hit the Parker's car dead on.....

C.D. had a child? Why didn't he tell us?" She looked at Walker and Jimmy.

Walker looked out the window for a minute. "What else is in there?"

Jimmy looked inside the box. "There are some letters that were never sent. Think we should see what they say?"

"I don't know. What do you think, Walker?"

Walker said nothing.

Jimmy looked at the envelope and decided to open it. He started to read:

"Loretta, June 20,1953

If only you knew how I'm going to miss you and our baby girl. You need to take care of her. I'll see you soon enough. When I do, we will spend the rest of eternity together. As a family. I have no regrets of the time that we spent with each other.... I do wish there were more of it. Our little Christina is a beauty. Can't you just picture what a splendid young woman that she'd have made. I will never feel for anyone what I felt for you. I will love you ALWAYS.

Yours truly,

C.D. Parker"

The three friends sat there for a minute. "Is there anything else?" Alex asked.

"No. He really loved her. Why didn't he tell us any of this?"

"I don't know. He may have thought we would judge him differently," Walker suggested.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jimmy saw a box that looked as though it had just been put up there. He got up and walked over to it. "Look at this one. It hasn't been here long at all. Wonder what's in it."

"One way to find out."  Walker bent down and opened the top of the box.  Laying inside was a tan-colored book.   "It's a journal.  C.D. has a page marked."

They have come such a long way.  All of them.  Every time they walk into the bar my heart lifts.  They are the one true things I have left anymore Cordell and Alex are finally happily engaged. They will be married soon enough. With those two, that could mean a while.
Jimmy seems to finally.... well, he's trying to find someone to love. Masie is doing much better then when her son was first killed. Such a sad time for her. Everything is finally starting to come together.....

He has the page saved with a picture of the four of us. Then there is one of Masie."

Alex reached inside the box. "Looks like there is another letter in here." She hesitated for a moment, then opened it. She read:

"Loretta, May 1, 1999

Alex and Cordell were talking about their wedding today. Darlin' wanted to set a date, but like always Cordell was trying to put it off. You should hear those two. You and Alex would have gotten along so well. She has eyes just like yours. They sparkle no matter how sad the day is. You would be able to go shopping together, have lunch, and things like that. Poor Alex has no one to do that with.

She asked me the other day if I'd walk her down the isle. How could I say no? Her mother's gone and she hasn't had too much luck with her dad. He's better now, but she can't seem to forget what he put them through. She wants me to walk her down the isle and have Gordon actually give her away. I was honored by her asking.

Jimmy keeps telling Cordell that he may actually have to buy her flowers. He (Jimmy) keeps telling her that this may be the only time she gets any. Alex tells him that she isn't holding her breath. They are going to have their wedding party type things at the bar. Those may not be for a while yet. I can't wait to have grandchildren to play with. I can picture how lovely Christina's children would have been. Hopefully I will be here to see everything happen....

With love,

C.D. Parker"

Alex's eyes were watering through the entire letter. She didn't cry until she read the last part. C.D. wouldn't be here for any of her and Walker's life together. Walker saw the look in her eyes and pulled her close. He gave her a kiss on the forehead. "You all right?"

"I..... I think so," Alex answered under her tears. "C.D. wanted to be here to see our lives together. thanks to those..  those...he we can't be. Walker, what are we going to do. We were his children.
Jimmy, he told you once that you were like a son to him."  Jimmy looked down. "I don't know what we are going to do, but we have to do something. I'm not big on the idea of selling this house to strangers. I think we need to start there." He looked back up. "We can't just do that."

"Any ideas?" Walker asked.

Alex thought for a few minutes. "I have one."

"What is it?" Jimmy questioned.

"Remember how I told you the HOPE House was getting to crowded? We can turn it into one of those. C.D. would love it. We could put some of the photos around the house, and," Alex continued as she picked up some pictures, "some in the bar. What do you think?"

"I think that C.D. would want that, he has always done things for organizations. This would be a perfect way to keep a memory of him."

"Walker's right. Big Dog was so happy when you started HOPE. He thought that Help Our People Excel, or HOPE, was a perfect name for what you were trying to do," Jimmy backed Walker.

"Then it's settled," Alex stated.

A month and a half later the trio stood outside of the house. They had split the letters between them. The journal was put in a drawer at the ranch with some other memorable items. Some of the pictures were hung in a room of the new HOPE House that was made as a dedication to him. The others, mostly the newer pictures, were put throughout the walls of C.D.'s Bar and Grill.

Next to the front door was a plaque that read:

 

In Memory of

C.D. Parker

A beloved friend and ranger

April 25,1928 - May 22, 1999

 

The HOPE House was opened without a problem. It was a perfect lift-off.