by: Marty Chrisman
Bo and Uncle Jesse had searched around the barn and found four sets of footprints in the dirt. They both knew what had happened but they had no proof. Bo was the one who found the tire tracks on the road in front of the house. It didn’t help much but it did prove that a car had been parked there recently which would have hidden it from view unless you were in the front of the house. Jesse had called Daisy at work and she had insisted on coming home immediately.
Bo looked up as Roscoe’s car pulled into the drive and the sheriff climbed out of the cruiser. “All right, Jesse…” he spluttered in an annoyed voice “What’s going on that’s so danged important now?”
“Luke’s missing!” Jesse growled, his eyes narrowing at he looked at Hazzard County’s excuse for a lawman. “That’s what’s going on! And I expect you to do something about it!”
Rosco looked surprised at the news. “Are you sure he’s missing?” he stammered
“Of course we’re sure you danged idiot!” Jesse snapped too upset to be polite. “And I want him found before something happens to him! You know as well as I do that Cyrus Carson and his boys are behind this!”
“Well, I can’t arrest ‘em without any evidence.” Rosco said defensively. He didn’t want to rile Jesse any further than he already was by arguing with him. Roscoe shifted his weight from one foot to the other nervously. “I can run over to the Carson place and talk to them, I guess……”
“Roscoe, they won’t be there!” Bo said in an exasperated voice. “They done took Luke and they sure ain’t gonna take him back to their place.”
“Now Jesse….Bo,” Rosco said, his tone softening “You know I don’t want nothing bad to happen to Luke. I’ll put out an APB on Luke and on the Carson boys and their car. That’s about I can do till we get a lead on where Luke might be….”
“Meanwhile, me and Bo will be getting us a search party together to look for Luke ourselves.” Jesse said
“You do that, Jess and I’ll send Enos out to help you get things organized.” Rosco told him. He turned and walked back over to his car. Glancing back at Jesse before he climbed under the wheel, he said sincerely “We’ll find him, Jesse.”
Jesse sighed as he watched Rosco drive away. At one time Rosco had been a decent honest cop and a good one. And when it was a real emergency, he still was a good cop and Jesse knew that. “Come on, Bo” he told his youngest nephew. “We got some phone calls to make”
The first call Jesse made was to Cooter Davenport, the local mechanic in town and a close friend of the Duke family. “Crazy Cooter coming at ya. Talk to me.” Cooter said answering the phone on the first ring.
“Cooter, it’s Jesse Duke. Luke’s missing and we need some help looking for him.”
“You think Cyrus and his boys got him?” Cooter asked his concern sounding clearly in his voice
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Jesse admitted
“You hang in there, Uncle Jesse. I’ll git hold of everybody I can and we’ll meet ya’ll at the farm in an hour.”
Just as Jesse hung up the phone, Daisy came bursting through the door. Tears were glistening in her eyes as she hurried to her Uncle’s side and threw herself into his arms. “Now, Now…it’s gonna be okay, Daisy girl” Jesse told her in a gentle comforting voice “We’re gonna find him.”
“What if they hurt him, Uncle Jesse?” Daisy cried
“Then they’ll answer to me.” Bo told her fiercely “I’ll kill ‘em if they hurt Luke!”
“Now, Bo, you just settle down.” Jesse told his youngest nephew who was the most volatile of the three cousins. “Us Dukes don’t take the law into our own hands.”
“Yes, sir.” Bo said sullenly
Within the hour Cooter arrived as promised with half of Hazzard County in tow, including Doc Pedicord. Jesse found himself praying that they wouldn’t need Doc’s skills when they found Luke but he was also grateful that Doc was going to be part of the search party just in case. It would save a lot of time if Luke needed medical attention when they found him.
They all gathered in the living room to discuss how to conduct the search and where to start. The problem was there were a lot of deserted buildings; farms and still sites in Hazzard County and Luke could be at any of them. Not to mention the swamp. There were also abandoned mine shafts and caves to be considered as possible hiding places too. They had their work cut out for them and very little time to search. If the Carsons had Luke, Jesse knew that they wouldn’t keep him alive indefinitely.
“The way I see it, the best thing to do is split the county up in sections with each one of us taking a different area to search.” Cooter suggested “We check out every place we can think of……abandoned buildings, still sites, caves……and hope we find something.”
“What about the swamp?” Daisy said “It’s gonna take more than one person to search there.”
“We’ll just have to check out the other places first” Cooter said “Then if we don’t find anything any place else, everybody can work on searching the swamp together.”
“I think Coot’s right.” Jesse agreed “And we need to get started. We don’t know what they got in mind for Luke.”
“That’s right,” Cooter’s cousin, L.B. said “We wanna find Luke alive…not dead.” He looked at Jesse sheepishly immediately regretting his choice of words “I’m sorry, Jesse…” he apologized.
“That’s alright L.B.” Jesse said somberly “We all know that Cyrus and his boys probably plan on killing Luke….that’s why we need to make sure we find him before they do.”
They quickly divided up the county into sections and everyone prepared to start their search. They divided into groups of two and picked out the areas they wanted to search. They would keep in touch with each other by CB and eliminate all the other possibilities before meeting at the swamp to start searching there.