Company B was quiet as Friday evening rolled around. It was four in the afternoon, and all the Rangers were trying to get paperwork done and go home. Some had turned in their reports to Walker already. As head of Company B, he had the glorious duty of looking them over before handing them in to headquarters.
When the stranger walked into the quiet room, all heads turned in his direction. He was not only strange to Company B, but also to the state of Texas. This much was obvious by his pale complexion and lack of both cowboy boots and hat. He wore a suit and tie, but his wavy brown hair was bereft of any covering. He seemed very official looking to everyone, and they wondered whom this was checking in on them in their last hour of work. He seemed young to be an inspector.
“Is Ranger Walker available?” the man asked when he saw no secretary available.
Walker and Trivette both stood, but it was Walker who spoke, “Can I help you?”
The stranger approached, offering his hand, “I’m Phillip King, federal agent. Did you get a call to expect me?”
“No, I didn’t,” Walker shook his head negatively as the phone on Trivette’s desk rang.
“Uh huh, hold on,” Trivette said, handing the phone to Walker, “It’s a guy from the federal government. Says he needs to discuss something with you.”
“Hello?” Walker said, not missing King’s grin and shake of the head.
A minute later, Walker hung up the phone. He had only exchanged a few words on his end with the caller.
“Was that Lee?” King asked him.
“Yep. He asked me to help you on this case. He wants it solved by the weekend. And he’s not pulling strings, he asked me personally to help you,” Walker said, taking off his black hat and working it around in his hands.
“Sounds like you told him yes,” Trivette said.
“I did. On the condition that I get the whole story from you at my house tonight, Phillip, over dinner. I’ll call my wife and let her know we’re having a guest,” Walker said, looking pointedly at the young man in front of him.
“Really, you don’t have to. I have a hotel room booked close to here,” Phillip hedged.
“I insist,” Walker said, taking the younger man by his elbow and leading him out the door.
From their desks, Gage looked to Sydney, “I wonder what that was all about?”
“Me too. At least we won’t have to work through the weekend,” Sydney smiled as she saw Trivette sighing heavily. He knew that at some point, Walker would drag him into whatever it was they had to do.
The phone at Trivette’s desk rang again.
“Trivette here,” Jimmy said.
“It’s Walker. Why don’t you and Erica come to dinner also?” Walker asked.
“Man, I knew I was going to get involved,” Jimmy said.
“This is serious. It involves the murders of two federal agents. I’ll tell you more when you get up to the ranch.”
“Okay,” Jimmy agreed, then called Erica to invite her to dinner.
Alex only had to work until two that afternoon. She was trying to take it easy on Fridays since Angela’s birth. It helped ease her into the weekend routine. When Walker called and told her that Jimmy, Erica and a newcomer would be at dinner, she wasn’t bothered at all. She was preparing stew for dinner anyway. She didn’t make hot meals very often…Texas was hot enough, but this was a favorite of Walker’s. Probably in part because she only made it occasionally.
Angela watched with giggles from her high chair. Alex had managed to feed her a jar of squash right at four o’clock, before Walker’s call. Now the baby sucked on her pacifier and beat on a plastic cup, which was her current favorite toy.
While the stew simmered, she pulled two loaves of homemade bread from the freezer and put them in the oven to warm until dinner was done. She pulled her favorite white wine down, and a red, too, not knowing her guests preferences.
As she started to set the table, Walker entered with their guest, Phillip King. He introduced Alex and Angela, and then went to snoop at the stew.
“Hey, nose out,” Alex warned him.
“It smells so good, I can’t help myself,” Walker grinned.
“Reminds me of my mother and grandmother’s cooking,” Phillip agreed.
“Not your wife’s?” Alex inquired.
Phillip grinned shyly, “Only been married a little while. I haven’t got used to her version of cooking yet.”
“At least she tries,” Alex said.
“I eat it,” Phillip said, “But I also do most of the cooking.”
Erica and Jimmy arrived together then. More introductions were made and then everyone was seated for dinner. Angela had become fussy in her high chair, so Alex pulled her out and fed her a bottle. Alex stole bites of stew while she was burping her daughter.
“Do you have any children?” Phillip asked Jimmy and Erica.
Jimmy coughed, nearly choking.
“We’re still engaged,” Erica filled him in.
“Oh, sorry,” Phillip said, “No kids yet for me, either.”
“What is the reason you need the Rangers’ help?” Jimmy asked, having recovered from his coughing fit.
Phillip took a sip of wine and began, “I’m from D.C., and I don’t know Texas that well, for one thing. I do a lot of office work when I am not investigating a case. That’s what I was doing when all this happened.
“My partner and another agent were in line at D.C. National Bank, when the robber came in. They recognized him as Thorn Burbank. The four of us used to hang out in college. When Thorn recognized Sam Docard and Max Clayson, he shot them, cold, with the semi automatic rifle he had.
“Max was my partner, and Sam was often our backup on more cases than I can count in the last two years. Section chief didn’t want me on the case…I’m too emotionally connected. So I told him I was going, on my own if I had to, and he said I could.
“I asked Lee to call and see if the Rangers could help, because this guy has already taken out two of us. I didn’t expect him to call so late.”
“I am so sorry about your friends,” Erica said.
“I’m sorry to take up your weekend,” Phillip commiserated, “But Thorn has family here, and if he’s with them, we have a good chance of catching him.”
“We’ll catch him,” Walker said with finality.
That same evening, Gage and Sydney stewed over the movie section of the newspaper. They’d had dinner at Sydney’s house and as seven o’clock rolled around, they wanted to go out and do something. Eventually they decided together that a movie would be the most fun.
“How about this Monsters, Inc. thing?” Gage asked, “Sounds kinda scary by the name of it.”
“Have you seen the ads for it?” Sydney asked.
“Me either. Let’s go,” Sydney said, grabbing her purse from the couch. Gage willingly followed her out.
On the car ride back to the apartment, Gage started laughing, and then so did Sydney.
“Not quite that scary was it?” Gage asked.
“Not at all…more for the monsters than us,” Sydney agreed, “But I’m glad we stayed and watched it.”
“Yeah, me too. I need a little bit of funny every now and then,” Gage admitted.
“How about this for funny?” Sydney asked, taking one hand from the steering wheel and squeezing Gage’s thigh in just the right place. Gage jumped, laughing, and pulled her hand off.
“That’s pretty funny, but please, eyes on the road,” Gage said, kissing the back of her hand.
“All right, but once we get home, all’s fair,” Sydney said in a faux warning tone.
Gage grinned. He had surprises of his own.
The next day, Walker, Trivette, and King drove out toward where they thought Thorn Burbank would be hiding out. They had taken Jimmy’s car, and he was driving. Phillip had gotten search warrants issued for Burbank’s mother’s house, and also his sister’s.
“So, when did you become an agent?” Jimmy asked.
“Well, I did college after high school, got a degree in accounting. Then I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I joined the Army and stayed there for four years. I was working in the intelligence section then,” Phillip began, “In my last year with the Army, I was really itching to get out. My stepfather had a position for me as an agent.
“We’d discussed the possibilities of me taking over for him when he moved to the training center. I partnered up with Max, and then he transferred himself out and me in. My mother is an agent too, his partner, really.”
“There’s a little bit of nepotism, isn’t there?” Jimmy smiled.
“Hey, I’ve got the skills,” Phillip shrugged, “They made a special exception for my Mom when they saw how terrible Lee was without her.”
“Sounds like a couple of people I know,” Walker said.
“Really?” Phillip asked.
“Oh yeah,” Trivette agreed knowing who Walker meant, “So when did you get married?”
“Nine months ago. Constance. She’s wonderful, as long as you watch out for her Irish temper,” Phillip grinned. He pulled their wedding photo from his wallet and showed it to the two Rangers.
“She’s beautiful, eh Walker? You picked well,” Jimmy said.
“Sure is,” Walker agreed with Trivette.
“Thanks. Best decision I ever made,” Phillip said.
“I know how you feel,” Jimmy said.
“So, when are you getting married?” Phillip nudged him.
“Looks like May,” Jimmy sighed. He was looking forward to marrying Erica, but there was still a lot to do.
Phillip nodded his head in agreement. A lot of preparation went into a wedding.
“There’s the house,” Walker said. Jimmy parked next to a red Toyota Corolla.
They knocked at the door. No answer.
“Texas Rangers, open up!” Jimmy tried. Walker peeked into one of the windows in front.
“No one’s here,” Walker said.
“But they were, look,” Phillip had wandered to the Toyota and saw that another vehicle had been parked behind it recently, “Let’s try his sister’s house.”
The house of Sheila Burbank was half an hour from her mother’s and also half way back to Ranger HQ. Again, there was no answer when they knocked, and no cars were parked at the house.
“What’s the plan now?” Trivette asked.
“Let’s go get the truck and my rental car and stake out the houses,” Phillip suggested, “I’ll take Thorn’s mother’s house. Walker, you come back here, and Jimmy, you can be our back up. There’s a shopping center about twelve miles up the road. Wait there and whoever sees him first will radio the two others before going in to get him.”
The Rangers nodded their agreement. The young agent had come in with a plan in mind. They couldn’t think of anything better.
Saturday evening found Gage and Sydney babysitting for Angela. Alex had called them up and asked them, since Walker wasn’t there, if they could keep an eye on the baby for a few hours. Sydney had practically jumped on the idea. Gage was happy to follow her lead. Alex said she just had a few errands and she’d be back, and to call her if there was trouble.
“I can’t figure out why she won’t quit crying,” Gage called through the bathroom door to Sydney.
“I’ll help you as soon as I can, Gage. That pizza did not sit right with me tonight, and I am not coming out of here until…well, until I can,” Sydney called back to him.
“Sorry, hon,” Gage said, feeling bad for both himself and Syd, “I’ll figure out something.”
Gage found the most colorful rattle he could out of the pile in Angela’s room and also grabbed the pacifier from the kitchen counter before he returned with Angela to the couch in the living room.
The rattle caught Angela’s attention for all of two minutes. Gage shook it hard, soft, in circles. At first she went along, playing with him. He let her have it a few times, and she munched on it a little. Then she threw it across the room and started crying.
Gage gave her the pacifier, and it worked. She looked at him with her father’s eyes, red and teary. But she had quieted.
“That’s not so bad now, is it?” Gage asked the baby. Angela still stared at him. He toggled her on his knee, and she seemed to enjoy that.
A few minutes later, Gage heard the toilet flush and Sydney came out of the bathroom a minute or two after that. At the sound of the door, Angela spit out the pacifier and began a full tilt cry again. She refused the pacifier when Gage offered it again.
At this point, Alex entered, arms laden with bags from grocery shopping. Sydney helped her in, unloading the cumbersome bags from her arms. Gage still held a crying Angela.
Alex took Angela and held her tight, asking, “How long has she been like this?”
“About the last hour,” Gage said, grateful that Angela’s cries were subdued.
“Why didn’t you call me? I said to call if you needed me…” Alex said, feeling guilty.
“I didn’t think it would last so long, and then, Syd felt sick and I didn’t have time to concentrate on calling you. I was just trying to make her happy,” Gage explained.
Alex smiled, “I’m sorry she didn’t behave for you.”
“Well, she’s a baby, how is she suppose to communicate yet, right?” Gage said.
“Are you okay now Sydney?” Alex asked now that Angela had calmed down.
“I’ll be fine. Pizza monster,” Sydney smiled, “I should probably just go home and get some rest.”
“Okay, well, thank you for watching her. I’m sorry she was crying. I guess she just wanted me,” Alex said.
“It was nice, for the first two hours,” Gage said, “I’d do it again.”
“Me too,” Sydney agreed.
“Honest?” Alex asked.
“Honest,” Gage and Syd said in unison. They showed themselves to the door and left for Sydney’s apartment.
Ten o’clock that night came around. Phillip had parked in the business parking lot across from the house. He had a good viewpoint should anyone drive up. Phillip had had Jimmy run him in some dinner about two hours before, and he would have been struggling to stay awake if not for the Coke he was slowly drinking.
Shortly after ten, Phillip had a break. A second car pulled up next to the Toyota. Two people got out. Phillip presumed them to be Thorn and his mother. He grabbed his walkie-talkie and radioed to Jimmy and Walker.
“Hey, I need some back up, they just came home,” Phillip said.
“Didn’t see them coming from my way,” Jimmy radioed back.
“No, they came in from the other direction,” Phillip confirmed.
“I’m already on the way,” Jimmy said.
“I am five minutes behind him…I had a feeling that he wouldn’t show up here,” Walker said. He had seen Burbank’s sister come home with her family, and then her husband had come home. He’d hoped Burbank wouldn’t turn up there.
The three men met by Phillip’s rented car, deciding on a game plan. Jimmy suggested waiting until daylight, when they could see better, but Phillip didn’t want to give him a chance to run. Once again, they approached the front door, knocking loudly.
“Open up, Rangers!” Walker called.
A woman who appeared to be in her sixties came to the door. She had gray hair and blue eyes and was wearing a blue dress. She looked at the three tall men quizzically.
“Ma’am, I have a warrant to search your house for your son,” Phillip said, holding out the warrant.
“I haven’t seen him,” the woman all but cried out as Phillip, Jimmy and Walker pushed in the door past her.
Room by room was cleared by each man. There was no sign of Thorn Burbank, even though Phillip was certain he’d seen him there. Frustrated, he turned his government issued PPK on the woman.
“What are you doing!” Walker yelled at him. He and Trivette still had their weapons out protectively.
“Shut up,” Phillip turned to the woman, “Now you listen. I know he’s your son. But he killed my partner and a good friend, so you will tell me where he’s hiding!”
“I can’t!” the woman cried out, slumping against the wall.
“King, leave her alone,” Walker warned.
“No! She knows something. Now what?” Phillip yelled, gun still trained on the woman, “You’re going in for aiding and abetting anyway.”
“But-“ the old woman started.
Phillip’s instincts kicked in before he saw the movement in the pantry diagonal to him and the woman. He ducked around the wall as the shot fired. The bullet lodged in the wall of the foyer and the old woman cried out. Phillip saw her on the ground, bleeding from the left shoulder.
“Call an ambulance,” Phillip yelled at both Trivette and Walker. Walker was already doing so on his walkie-talkie.
As much as he wanted to help her, Phillip couldn’t put himself into the line of fire right away. He fired four shots into the aluminum pantry door. He was pretty sure he didn’t hit Thorn, but the opposing fire had stopped. Walker went to the woman to stop her bleeding while Phillip dealt with whoever was in the pantry.
“Throw your gun on the ground and come out of there with your hands up!” Phillip called. He heard the gun fall to the ground but still waited, gun ready, as the door folded and revealed the suspect.
“Hands UP I said!” Phillip called again. Faster than he realized, Thorn threw a pocketknife into Phillip’s left shoulder. Phillip’s aim faltered, but Jimmy’s didn’t. He shot Thorn in the right shoulder, the arm he’d used to throw the knife. Jimmy moved in and cuffed him while Walker was seeing to Thorn’s mother. Phillip slowly pulled the Swiss Army knife from his shoulder.
“Am I going to die?” the woman asked.
“No, you’ll be fine, Aida,” Walker said, having learned her name while he was comforting her.
“Will I go to jail?” she asked.
Walker looked from her to Phillip and back again, “No, I don’t think the DA will press charges.”
“What about Thorn?” was her next concern. Outside, ambulance sirens were whining.
“You need to rest now. I’m sorry you had to get hurt,” Phillip said, “We’ll take care of Thorn, too.”
Phillip’s knife wound needed stitches, but he had to wait his turn while the gun victims were seen to. As suspected, Phillip’s initial shots toward Thorn had been harmless. He didn’t mind. He was glad it was over, that he had his man.
“Ready to get some rest tomorrow?” Jimmy asked him.
“Definitely. I want to get on that plane and go home to my wife,” Phillip grinned.
“You were taking a chance, pulling your weapon on Aida,” Walker said.
“I wouldn’t have shot her. She knew where he was. I was calling his bluff, not hers. I knew he was here.”
“Lucky for you, we got him. Not so lucky for Aida,” Walker pointed out.
“I didn’t think he’d risk shooting his own mother, but Hell, he’s killed before. He’d sacrifice family to save himself. That’s just crazy,” Phillip said.
“That’s true,” Walker agreed, accompanying the younger man to his car.
“I’m going to have to wait for him to get extradited back to D.C. They’ll send some other agents for him. One stipulation of my coming out was that I couldn’t extradite him on my own.”
“We’ll keep him under armed guard,” Walker promised.
Phillip stuck out his hand, “If I can ever do anything for you, Ranger, please don’t hesitate to call me.”
“I won’t,” Walker promised. He shook Phillip’s hand and took the card Phillip had offered him. He walked a few feet away then turned back to the agent, “IFF? That’s the name of the agency you work for?”
“Don’t spread it around too much,” Phillip just grinned, “It’s our cover, and a long story behind it. Remind me to tell you some day.”
Walker just grinned as Phillip drove away.
“What was that all about?” Jimmy wanted to know.
Walker pocketed the card, “Nothing. I don’t know about you, but it’s late, and I am going home to my wife and child. Tomorrow’s Sunday, and I’m going to enjoy it.”
Disclaimer: None of the Walker characters, or Phillip King, belongs to me, and I have in no way harmed them during this writing.
Authors note: I have tried to keep time period and all other elements as accurate as possible.
Authors note: I have tried to keep time period and all other elements as accurate as possible.