by: Cuz Bonita
Daisy picked up the beer glasses from the empty table and balanced them on her tray. She carefully leaned against the table as she wiped in down, unaware of the admiring glance of a stranger. Spinning on her heel, she turned to carry her tray of glasses to the bar. The stranger smiled at her as she rushed by, and she smiled hesitantly in return. The moment’s distraction was costly, as her high-heeled left shoe caught the foot of a table, and her tray of glasses went crashing to the floor.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. She stooped carefully to pick up the broken glass, and the stranger appreciated how the skimpy shorts flattered her legs…then his sense of chivalry took control.
“Here, let me help you with that,” He said in friendly voice. Daisy brushed back her long, light- brown hair and looked him in the eyes. She didn’t recognize this tall stranger, and she was afraid of him. I hope this ain’t another bounty hunter after Bo and Luke, she worried to herself. She felt the stranger’s eyes on her and she mumbled a reply.
“No, it’s all right, I’m just clumsy today,” she said as she turned away. The stranger began picking up bits of glass, and he sensed that the waitress was uneasy.
“I’ll get this mess, it was kinda my fault anyway. Why don’t you help that other table in the meantime.” He gave her his best grin.
Daisy relented, and relaxed a bit. “Okay, Sugar, and your next beer is on the house.” She sprang up and headed for the waiting customers. As she gathered their order, she chanced the occasional glance at the handsome stranger, who gingerly handled the mess. He was clad in black jeans and a black jacket, and he had wavy dark hair that was perfect for running your fingers through. Had Daisy not been preoccupied with worry for her kin, she would have enjoyed this man’s attention.
She finished up two more tables before noticing that the stranger had already left. In the empty corner booth, a twenty dollar bill was sitting. I can’t accept a tip that big for lunch and a beer, especially when he picked up that mess! She was running out to the parking lot to find him, but never made it out the door. Blocking her way was a one of the men she had been trying to avoid. He was large and unpleasant, with shaggy red hair that matched his unkempt beard. The smell of cigarettes and stale alcohol was overpowering.
“Hold it, Miss Duke. I’m looking for those outlaw cousins of yours, and I need some questions answered.” The big man grabbed her wrist for emphasis. “Don’t make a scene, honey. You tell me what I want and I’ll leave you alone.”
Daisy wrinkled her nose in disgust, and tried tugging her arm away. ” I don’t have nothing to tell you except get out of here before I call the police. Now let me go!”
“The police! Ha! If they had it their way you’d already be in jail. Not that there’s much left of the police around here, anyway. Okay, honey, let’s go out to my car and you can tell me where to find those outlaws.” The big man pulled Daisy out to the parking lot.
“Hold it right there, Mister. Let the lady go.” Daisy saw the dark-haired stranger get out of his black car. He strode up to the big man without fear.
“Mind your own business, city boy. This woman is an accomplice and she’s got some talking to do.”
The black-jacketed stranger set his jaw. “Unless you have a badge and a warrant to show me in ten seconds, you’re going to have a problem.”
The big man attacked without warning, but the stranger blocked the blow and drove a fist into the big man’s stomach. The big man swung recklessly but the black-clad defender connected several blows to his opponent’s ribs and a final uppercut to the jaw.
Winded and outmatched, the big man bellowed a threat. “You have just made the biggest mistake of your life!” Backing away slowly, the big man climbed into an old rusty truck and screeched out the gravel parking lot, giving one malevolent glance back to his enemy.
Daisy embraced her rescuer. “Oh, thank you! I don’t know who you are or why you’re here, but thank you!” Daisy felt exhausted from her ordeal. The unexpected kindness of a stranger released tears that she had been holding back for days.
Taken by surprise at the sudden outpouring of tears, the stranger decided to find out what kind of trouble this country girl was in. “I might be able to help you, if you’ll tell me what’s going on,” he said quietly. “My name is Michael.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The distinctive sound of a four-barrel carburetor wide open on a late-model Charger split the tranquility of the country road. The orange car streaked along the twisting dirt path, it’s occupants anxiously searching for cover. The unmistakable markings of the car made immediate seclusion a priority. It could outrun just about anything, and it had proved it on numerous occasions. It’s occupants, however, were exhausted and desperate.
The car’s driver, a young man with thick blonde hair and deep blue eyes, handled the wheel with precision, despite his weariness. The passenger beside him was slightly older, blue-eyed as well, and had dark hair as opposed to the blonde of his cousin. Together they fled pursuit, which by itself was not unusual; but this time the stakes were very high. The driver turned to his companion for reassurance.
“Luke, I know we need a place to stop, but do you think the old still site by Hazzard Pond is safe?’
“It’s the closest thing to it,” answered his dark-haired companion, “But keep your eyes open, Bo.”
“You got it.” The blonde driver spun the wheel sharply and the orange car swung up the ridge. Bo trusted his cousin’s judgement implicitly, and he was able to spend his energy concentrating on the road while Luke thought through their options. There were very few to consider, but he was sure Luke would think of something.
Luke said nothing for a few moments, as he watched the road ahead. He glanced sideways at his younger cousin, who was also his closest friend, and felt a twinge of guilt. He knew Bo expected him to think of a way out of this one, and Luke had no answers.
Luke’s imagination drifted to the ways that this whole thing could possibly end. He didn’t like the conclusions he came to. Although he could face his own fate with stoic grace, his gut twisted at the thought of anything happening to Bo.
Bo felt Luke’s eyes on him and turned his head with a smile, thinking Luke must have had a brainstorm he was about to announce. Instead, he saw an expression on Luke’s face that seemed to say “Cousin, I don’t know how to tell you this, but we’re not gonna win this one.”
“Uh, Luke, you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking, are you?” Bo’s abrupt question startled Luke, who looked away for a moment before replying.
“I dunno, what do you think I’m thinking that I haven’t already thought of ?” Luke looked back and smiled, and saw Bo flash a grin in return. He could never stay depressed with Bo around. “We’re almost to the pond. Drive through the underbrush and we’ll do the last mile off the road.”
“Yes, Sir!” Bo loved blazing a new trail, and happily plunged the orange car into the scraggly woods. As twigs snapped and rocks were thrown against the underside of the car, and panicked birds took flight, Luke suggested they slow down. “There ain’t nobody behind us now, let’s take it slow and keep the noise down. I want to make sure there’s nobody here.”
Bo sobered instantly and slowly crept the car up to the abandoned whiskey still. The woodpile was still there, along with the old tin shed that they had used to store grain and jugs. The pond was visible several yards away, and the only sound was the humming of insects and the song of a few bullfrogs. Birds quieted at the interruption of the car, then gradually resumed their melodious chatter.
“Looks like we’re okay. Let’s pull over behind the woodpile and the shed.” Luke slid out of the car window, as it’s doors were welded shut. Bo pulled himself out with an agile hop and they walked over to the shed.
“Are there any supplies left in there?” Bo wondered out loud. “We used to have some canned goods and stuff stored away when we used to camp out here.”
“Well, let’s find out. I know there’s an old fishing pole, and a kerosene lamp or two in there.” Luke unhooked the rusty latches at the top and bottom of the shed door. “Watch for hornets!” he said has he flung the door open.
Inside there was a small stockpile of fresh goods, including apples and a loaf of bread. A note was sticking out from the pile of goodies, and Luke grabbed it. “It’s from Daisy!” Bo leaned over Luke’s shoulder as Luke read aloud.
“Bo, Luke, Please be careful. I’m being watched alot and there’s always someone looking for you. I took a chance and brought you some food and this note. I have a few things for you at the other stills but I’m afraid it’s only a few days worth. Uncle Jesse called a lawyer, but the lawyer said he couldn’t help you until you turned yourselves in. Then I heard through the CB that the State Patrol is watching all the main highways and the county lines.
Enos told me that the investigation is focused on you, the law isn’t bothering to look for any other suspects. He says there were eyewitnesses seeing you leave the scene and that Luke’s bow has been fingerprinted. There is more evidence but I don’t have time to go into the details. Rosco is still in the hospital and the State Police are not allowing visitors. There are bounty hunters all over the place and rumor has it that some of them are from Atlanta. You are both considered armed and dangerous and for that reason you are in terrible danger. I don’t want to even think about this, but from what I’ve heard, the State Police wouldn’t question the use of lethal force to bring you in. PLEASE Bo, Luke, your only chance is to surrender to Enos. He’s upset and he doesn’t know what to think, but he’s promised not to let anyone hurt you while you’re in his custody. He says when you’re ready to come in, call him on the CB, channel 9.
Uncle Jesse and I love you both and we are praying for you. Please listen to me and call Enos!!!
Luke hastily crumpled the letter and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Bo stepped back a few paces and sat down, covering his face with his hands. Luke stepped forward and stared out through the trees, where he could see the sparkling water of Hazzard Pond. Neither of them spoke for several minutes. Luke sighed and turned back into the shed where Bo sat. He sat down next to him and put a hand on his cousin’s shoulder. Bo lifted his face from his hands and wiped his eyes, only to have them fill back up with water.
Luke felt his own eyes sting with tears at the sight of Bo’s despair, and was unable to voice his thoughts. Bo finally broke the silence and spoke haltingly to his cousin.
“Luke…if we go to jail for this…we won’t ever get out…we’ll never see Daisy or Uncle Jesse again…and…we won’t ever see each other again, they’ll separate us…” Bo’s voice caught in his throat and he was unable to continue. His shoulders shook as fear and exhaustion overwhelmed him. Luke silently put his arm around Bo’s shoulders, but had no other comfort to offer. He didn’t want to make Bo feel worse, but he had to tell him the truth, even if it meant speaking his own fears aloud.
“Bo…if we keep runnin’…they can shoot when they see us…we’ve got the State Patrol and some bounty hunters after us…and to keep runnin’ we need food, gas, places to stay…we would end up stealing to survive, and become real criminals for the rest of our lives…which wouldn’t be long.” Luke paused and took a deep, shuddering breath before continuing. “On the other hand, if we turn ourselves in, and Rosco dies and we’re found guilty…we could find ourselves on Death Row.” Bo looked up at his cousin with an expression of panic. Luke looked back and held Bo’s eyes with his own. “Bo, I’ve thought this through. If we’re gonna run, we could grab another car or two, and split up…but if we did that and then something happened to you, I…” Luke didn’t finish his sentence out loud, but Bo heard every word. He reached his arm over Luke’s shoulder in return. “Same here, cousin.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Daisy finished her shift at the Boar’s nest while Michael waited for her in the parking lot. Sitting in his black Trans Am, Michael held a conversation with the dashboard of his car. “Well, Kitt, looks like we have a lady in distress, by the name of Daisy Duke. It’s just a hunch, but I have a feeling this ties in with our assignment.
“In what way, Michael?” a section of the elaborate dashboard lit up in synch with the words.
“She says her family is in trouble with the law, and that the State Police are involved. And if I’m right, the jerk harassing her was one of the two-bit bounty hunters that the State Police have been encouraging.”
“It could be the best lead we’ve had, Michael. However, I would advise the customary background check before this young lady learns more about us.” Kitt’s red sensor light, poised between the headlights at the nose of the car, swept back and forth as he began searching for data in the police computer files.
The voice panel within the dash lit up again. “The local authorities don’t use a computer system, but I found a file with the State Police and the ATF. It says here…oh, my.” Kitt paused to recheck the information before announcing it to his human partner.
“Kitt, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong, but there was a very unorthodox “deal” made between the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency and a gentleman by the name of Jesse Duke. Several years ago, Mr. Dukes two young nephews were caught transporting illegal liquor. This charge, compiled with a long list of traffic violations and misdemeanors, would have ensured a lengthy jail sentence. Instead, they were released on parole, with the condition that Mr. Duke would forever cease all production and distribution of liquor.”
Michael was incredulous. “You mean they were running moonshine?”
“I believe that’s the romantic term for it, yes.” Kitt’s voice box flashed. “The state records also reflect that these people became very law-abiding citizens. In fact, they have received commendations from the State and Federal governments for their assistance in several criminal cases.” Kitt’s voice box went dark a second while he considered more new data, then lit up in animation. “At the local level, it’s been a different
matter. It seems that the parole officer for Beaureguard Duke and Lucas Duke has presented charges against these two on multiple occasions, in an effort to incarcerate them. All cases he presented to the State Police were found to be without merit, and on several occasions he withdrew the charges himself.” Kitt’s scanner on the front of the car whipped back in forth in bewilderment. “Hazzard county records are limited to paper files and general ledgers; there is no computer link between the State and this county. One can only imagine the array of local charges that may have been filed.”
Michael leaned back in the driver’s seat and steepled his fingers in thought. “Has the county administration ever questioned this parole officer?”
Kitt’s voice box glowed brightly as he made a connection. “Michael, the head of the county is a gentleman by the name of Jefferson Davis Hogg. Evidently he is also the parole officer, in addition to being a prominent businessman. His holdings are not fully documented to the State, but they include the Hazzard Bank, and the establishment we are currently visiting.”
“So Mr. Hogg owns the Boar’s Nest, too. Very interesting, Kitt. What else do you have on this guy?”
Kitt’s scanner paced back and forth slowly. “Mr. Hogg has been the subject of suspicion in the past, and has been though some investigation himself for improper bank auditing practices, misappropriation of county funds, and income tax evasion, to name a few.” Kitt’s voice box dimmed slightly. “Apparently he was notorious for producing and distributing illegal liquor himself, but on a much larger scale than Mr. Jesse Duke.”
Michael tapped the steering wheel as he thought aloud. “Might be worth talking to that guy. Then again, maybe we just have a local feud here that got out of control. If that’s the case, we no longer have the lead I hoped for with Daisy.”
Kitt’s voice box blinked. “There are some facts in the State Police dispatch records that need to be considered before we arrive at that conclusion.”
“Like what, Kitt?”
Kitt’s scanner slowed, and the flash of the his voice box punctuated the words. “Michael, there were five State Police units dispatched for Hazzard County…one full day before anything happened to warrant their presence.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
A small campfire crackled in front of the old tin shed. Luke munched noisily on an apple and watched Bo attempt to turn over a trout filet in a hot skillet, without using any utensils. “Bo, why don’t you use your pocket knife or a stick before you burn your hands.”
“Because it’s too late,” Bo answered while he stuck a finger in his mouth. Luke chuckled and handed Bo one of the apples. “Here, why don’t you eat something and I’ll watch this for awhile.”
“I won’t argue with that.” Bo smiled and polished the apple on his shirt, then took a bite. “Y’know, Luke, it’s gonna be getting dark soon. Are we spending the night here?”
“I think so. We’ll have this fire out soon, and we’re in pretty good cover.”
“I’ve kinda missed this place,” Bo mused. “This was always one of my favorite hideouts. I don’t think we’ve been back here since we got busted on that last run.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I think there’s four people alive that know about this place, and we’re two of them.”
“Let’s stay on that “alive” list,” Bo muttered to himself.
Luke said nothing in response to that comment, choosing instead to examine their dinner. “This looks about done. Go ahead and put the fire out.” Luke got up to take the meal into the shed. A steaming hiss began to rise from the doused campfire, and Bo quickly joined his cousin .
Aside from saying grace before they began to eat, the meal was eaten in silence. The meager fish was gone in an instant, and they stuffed themselves with the homemade bread Daisy had brought. A wave of homesickness hit them, as the family dinner was one of the daily highlights on the farm. Bo put down his portion early and watched Luke eat for a moment. Finally he broke the heavy silence.
“Luke, are we gonna call Enos tomorrow?”
Luke put his bread down with a sigh. “I don’t know.” He looked at his younger cousin. “Why you askin’ that already?”
“‘Cause before we do, I want to go home…even if it’s for a few minutes… to…y’know…say goodbye.”
“We’ll see them again, Bo, I promise,” Luke said with more conviction than he felt. “Look, we’ll get some sleep tonight, and we’ll figure something out in the morning.” Luke looked around and saw the darkness of twilight covering the woods. “Just to be safe, I’ll keep watch for awhile. You’ve been doing all the driving – go ahead and hit the hay.”
“I ain’t tired.” Bo lied glibly.
“I don’t care,” Luke informed him with a smile.
Bo got up and brushed off his jeans. “I’m gonna sleep in the car. Wake me up in a couple hours, okay cousin?” He patted Luke on the shoulder.
“You got it.”
The dark blue of the evening sky faded to black as a cluster of stars winked brightly. Luke stretched and looked back at the car. Satisfied that Bo was going to settle down, he paced back and forth to stay awake. He had no intentions of waking him up before morning.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Daisy walked out of the Boar’s nest and was happy to see Michael waiting for her. “Hey there!” She yelled, running up to him. “Michael, I called my Uncle Jesse and told him about what you did for me. He says you’re welcome to come over for dinner, as long as you ain’t a low-down dirty bounty- hunter.” Daisy peeked into Michael’s car as she leaned into the open window. “Wow, what a car you got here!”
“Why thank you,” Michael nodded. “It’s fairly reliable.” The voice box glowed red on the dash for a second, and Daisy assumed the sound she heard was Michael clearing his throat. “Tell you what, Miss Daisy Duke. Why don’t you ride with me, it may be safer in case someone is watching you.”
Daisy mulled it over. “Okay! I want a ride in this beautiful car, anyway!” She giggled excitedly. Kitt’s voice box blushed. Trotting over to the passenger side, she gave a delighted yelp of surprise when the passenger door opened by itself. She plopped herself in the seat, squirming in comfort, then gasped when the door gently shut for her. “This is wonderful ! Oh, look at all these gadgets and stuff! What’s the red glow on that panel?”
Kitt’s voice box suddenly went black. “I’ll explain later,” Michael said amusedly. He backed Kitt out of the gravel parking lot. “So which way are we going?”
“Just head south on the road here, I’ll tell you when to turn.” Daisy was fascinated by the car’s instrument panel, but was becoming a little afraid again. Who would have something this sophisticated, and for what? She wondered to herself.
“Turn here,” she said pointing. “Go for a few miles more and then take a right.” Then she was silent.
Michael glanced at his quiet passenger. “Daisy, you can trust me…and my car.” The voice box glowed slightly. “I’m Michael Knight, and I work for the Foundation of Law and Government.”
Daisy went rigid, and her hand sought the door handle. “What’s that mean?” she said cautiously.
“It means I’m a friend. Don’t worry, I’m not a cop, although I used to be one a long time ago. I’m not a bounty hunter. I work for a private interest, and investigate cases in ways other people can’t, or won’t.” He paused to look her in the eyes. “I’m here on an assignment that may or may not tie in to your family’s situation. Believe me, right now I’m more interested in the people who are after Beaureguard and Lukas.”
Daisy was taken aback. “How did you know my cousin’s names?”
Michael smiled, thinking Oops. Kitts voice box flashed twice as if to say Nice going. “After dinner, I’ll tell you more about me…” The voice box interrupted with rapid flashing. “And my partner.” The voice box calmed. “And if you tell me everything you know, I promise to help you and your family. Deal?”
“Deal,” Daisy smiled. “Oh, we’re almost there. See the barn? That our place.” Kitt slowed the car before Michael did. As they turned into the long driveway, an old man with white hair and a matching beard watched from the farmhouse window. Putting on his red cap, he stepped out to meet Daisy and this helpful stranger.
Kitt’s scanner swished with satisfaction; Jesse Duke’s appearance matched the police records he accessed. The sleek black car stopped, and Michael got out first. Daisy could have, but she was fascinated with the door opening by itself again.
Michael gave her his hand as she stepped out of the car. Daisy sprang out and practically ran to her uncle. “Oh, Uncle Jesse, this is Michael Knight! And he has the most unbelievable car! He’s part of some foundation and he says he might be able to help us!”
“Now, slow down, girl,” Uncle Jesse admonished. “I’ll meet this feller for myself.” As he spoke, Michael came up to the porch and extended his hand.
“Hello Mr. Duke, my name’s Michael Knight. I’m with the Foundation for Law and Government. For now, that means we’re on the same side.”
Jesse shook Michael’s hand. “Well, I’m pleased to meet ya. Thanks for watching out for Daisy.” He looked down at his niece as she hugged him. “We’re mighty glad you’ve come along, Mr. Knight. C’mon in, I got supper ready.”
As Daisy and Jesse stepped into the house, Michael spoke into a something that looked like a fancy wristwatch, which really served as a comlink. “Kitt, stay put and keep an eye on the place, will ya?”
“Of course, Michael.”
Inside, the farmhouse was humbly furnished, but clean. “Here, sit down Mr. Knight,” Jesse gestured to the kitchen table. Michael did so, and at the same time Daisy plunked down a mug of coffee for him. “You can call me Michael, Mr. Duke.”
“Allright then, you can call me Jesse.” He brought Michael a brimming bowl of stew and a plate full of homemade biscuits. “Now I know you got questions, and we got questions, but first we say grace, then we eat, and then we’ll talk.”
“Yes sir,” Michael found himself saying. Daisy and Jesse plunked down more food and a pitcher of milk. Michael suddenly realized they were used to feeding two more people.
Jesse took off his cap and folded his hands. “Dear Lord, we thank you for this bounty before us, and we pray that you watch over Bo and Luke…please protect our family. Amen.” Jesse ended his prayer abruptly, and Michael realized the old man wanted to say more. Before Michael could say a word of reassurance, plates were being passed back and forth, and he was being told to take another helping of everything.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The Tri-County hospital was one of the best in the state, and it was the closest one to Hazzard. Inside, state police kept a constant vigil by room #323. Two officers stepped out of the way to allow a doctor inside, then resumed their position.
The doctor examined the patient’s chart before doing a routine check of vitals. The patient had stabilized, but he was not out of the woods. A nurse bustled into the room, flustered by the presence of the police guard. “Do they have to block the @#*& door?” she complained.
The doctor sighed. “I suppose they can’t take any chances, considering that someone already tried to kill the sheriff once. They almost succeeded.” The doctor shook his head. “Nurse, until he regains consciousness, maintain the current dosage and check on him often.” The nurse nodded and changed the I.V bag. The doctor paused before leaving. “One more thing…The police have requested that we notify them immediately when this man is conscious. However, notify me first – I don’t want this patient disturbed too soon.”
“Yes, doctor,” the nurse acknowledged as the doctor left. She saw the guards try and peek in the room as the doctor closed the door. The nurse snorted in disgust at their audacity. Then she picked up the patient chart. “Rosco P. Coltrane,” she read aloud. “Hazzard County Sheriff. Well, Mr. Coltrane, you must have some powerful friends – the state police are sure making a fuss over you.” She put the chart back and left the room, casting a glare at the intrusive policemen in the hall.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Luke tilted his head back and yawned deeply, stretching his arms. He had been on watch for a couple hours, and was already more tired than he thought possible. What happened to my Marine training? He wondered to himself. He quietly walked back to the car to check on Bo. His cousin was sprawled out in the backseat, boots on, sleeping peacefully. Sleeping like a log, Luke thought. Although tempted to go to sleep himself, Luke stepped away carefully. He decided to walk down to the pond, hoping that a splash of water on his face would keep him awake.
Guided by the bright stars and glowing half-moon, Luke found the old trail leading to the pond. The trail sloped down a small ridge, and the tin shed and orange car disappeared from view. Luke stopped. Won’t be able to see Bo from here, He worried. Listening to the sound of the bullfrogs and crickets, he debated whether it might be safe to go ahead, at least for a few minutes. Off to his right and a ways behind him, he heard an owl hooting to itself. Shrugging off his indecision, he continued down to the water’s edge. As he dipped his hands in the cold, murky water, her heard another owl on the opposite side of the pond. Must be courtin’ time for them, he mused as he splashed his face.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Michael pushed his plate away and leaned back in the kitchen chair. “That was the best meal I’ve had in a long time,” he complimented his hosts. Daisy cleaned off the table and smiled. “I sure hope you have room for pecan pie !”
“No, I don’t,” Michael laughed. “Maybe later.” He turned to Jesse, who had been watching him quietly. “Mr. Duke, if you’d like, I’ll answer any questions you have now.”
“Well…I’ve been wondering what a fella like you is doing in these parts. Where you from?”
“California,” Michael answered. “The Foundation is headquarted there, too. I travel a lot…I go wherever by boss, Devon Miles, tells me too.” He gave a rueful smile, imagining what Devon would think of having dinner with moonshiners.
“I’d like to know just what brought you here to Hazzard,” Jesse asked plainly.
“The Foundation has received reports of harassment, assault, and other problems, involving the State Police. I was sent to investigate the validity of those reports, and to find out how widespread the problem is. Actually, I was on my way to Atlanta, and stopped in for a break at the Boar’s Nest when I met your sweet niece.” Michael glanced at Daisy and saw her blush.
Jesse was surprised. “The State Police? Why, they’ve never given us any reason for worry, until lately, when the…” he stopped himself.
“Uncle Jesse,” Daisy pleaded. “Tell him what happened,” she said as she sat down.
Jesse looked at his niece and then back at Michael. “We don’t know exactly how it happened or who’s responsible,” he began. “But Bo and Luke were coming back from town, and Rosco -”
“Who’s Rosco?” Michael interrupted.
‘The County Sheriff,” Jesse answered. “Anyways, the boys was mindin’ their own business but Rosco saw fit to chase ‘em all over hill and dale for some kinda ticket he was tryin’ to give ‘em. That’s about normal. They was getting away from him, and they lost him by turnin’ off the road. Then they heard this explosion.” Jesse paused and Daisy put her hand on his shoulder.
“They told me that they spun the car around and headed back towards the smoke. They saw Rosco’s car rolled over and the front end was on fire.” Jesse put his arm around Daisy, who was starting to sniffle. “The boys ran to pull Rosco out of the car. They’d just got him out and over by the side of the road when the whole car blew up. Rosco was unconcious and they we’re gonna call for help, but a State Patrol car came roarin’ over and the officer pulled a gun on ‘em. Said they were under arrest for killin’ the Sheriff. Luke told him the Sheriff wasn’t dead but would be if he didn’t get an ambulance. The trooper wouldn’t listen and Bo said it looked like he was gonna shoot ‘em both, so they jumped him and took off. They called for Enos and Cooter and told them to send an ambulance out, and to get there right away. They’s been on the run ever since.”
Michael asked for details. “What caused the Sheriff’s car to explode? Why did they accuse your nephews?” Jesse looked down at the table, as if concentrating on his next words.
“Enos, who’s the Sheriff’s Deputy, said the State Patrol found a bunch of hunting arrows on the scene, and some of ‘em had dynamite taped on with detonator caps. Luke’s huntin’ bow was found alongside the road, just about to where they had dragged Rosco. The State police are sayin’ that the boys wanted revenge on the Sheriff for harrassin’ them all the time, and that they only dragged him out of the car to make sure he was dead.”
“Bow and arrows?” Michael questioned.
Jesse fell silent and Daisy continued. “Bo and Luke don’t own any guns, since they’re on probation. They use their compound bows for huntin’ and target shootin’.”
“And the dynamite?” Michael raised an eyebrow.
“Sometimes they taped it to arrows to blow out old tree stumps from the field.”
“Did they ever use it for self-defense?” he pressed.
Daisy looked at her uncle, who nodded imperceptibly. “Yes…if there was no other way,” She answered. “But they NEVER hurt anybody! NEVER!”
Michael sighed. He wanted to believe that the two young men were innocent, but he had some doubts. “Tell me this. Did Bo and Luke ever talk about getting even with the Sheriff?”
“NO!” Daisy yelled. At the same time, Jesse stood up and roared like a bear. “Now, you listen and listen good! Them boys ain’t never harmed a soul in their life! And another thing! Even though Rosco can make a nuisance out of himself, and he and the boys drive each other nuts, none of ‘em would hurt the other!” Jesse abruptly ran out of steam, and sat back down, lowering his voice. “And besides, Hazzard County wouldn’t be the same without Rosco, and without Bo and Luke. I think they all know that.”
Michael was unprepared for the vehement reactions, and decided to apologize. “Mr. Duke, Daisy, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you, but it was a question I had to ask.”
“It’s alright,” Jesse said tiredly. “Just seems that no one can help my boys.” His eyes clouded up. “The only thing they can do is turn themselves in. Then, we’ll have to pray that whoever did this gets himself caught somehow, before Bo and Luke…” his voice trailed off, and the sentence went unfinished.
Michael looked at the tears streaming down Daisy’s face and made a decision. “I promise to do everything I can to help clear Bo and Luke. But I need to investigate the facts. That means I’ll be talking to a lot of people, including those two.” Michael didn’t hear any objections, so he continued. “Now it’s getting late, and I need to call in to Devon. He should be here sometime tomorrow, and all the mobile resources of the Foundation will be here to help.”
Daisy and Jesse looked at each other, and Jesse spoke up. “Michael, you’re welcome to spend the night here at the farm. You can sleep in the boys room…and if looking around in there helps you investigate ‘em…well, go ahead.”
Michael smiled and stood up. “Thank you. I’ll make my call from the car, I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He walked out the door, and stepped down to the gravel driveway. Kitt swung his scanner swung back and forth rapidly, anxious to talk to his human partner.
“Michael, Devon is calling,” Kitt announced as Michael sat down.
“Put him through, Kitt.” A moment later a distinguished-looking gentleman appeared on a monitor in the dash. “Yo, Devon!” Michael greeted his boss.
“Hello Michael,” Devon said with a pleasant accent. “Bonnie and I are about eight hours behind you. Since Kitt’s homing signal has been stationary, I trust you’ve found accommodations.”
“You bet, Devon. I’m staying with some moonshiners.” Michael laughed at Devon’s crestfallen expression. “Seriously, Devon, I’ve got a good reason for it. These people seem to have the lead we’re looking for…and if it pans out, all the evidence we’ll need to crack this open.”
“Kitt has advised me of the State Patrol presence in Hazzard, and the dispatch records,” Devon agreed. “Does this connect to the murder attempt on the local Sheriff?”
“Yeah, Devon, and I’m getting cooperation from the suspects’ family. I have a gut feeling these guys might be innocent…but that means somebody took a lot of time to stack the deck against them.”
“Michael, do be careful,” Devon warned. “I’ve reviewed the State Police records, and there is some strong evidence against these suspects. Another concern is that whether they are innocent or guilty, they seem to have expert skill at evading the law. In any event, they are desperate fugitives who have refused to surrender themselves.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, Devon. But I’d like you to bring the mobile base to the current location on Kitt’s homing signal. There’s another side to this story, and I think you should hear it.”
Devon looked quizzical. “If you feel it’s safe, I’ll concede to it. But please do remember that our primary destination is Atlanta. Should you fail to find solid proof against the State Patrol here, we must move on.”
“Gotcha. We’ll see you tomorrow, Devon. Tell Bonnie we said Hi.” Devon nodded. “Will do, Michael.
Take care.” The transmission ended.
Kitt’s voicebox flashed brightly. “Michael, do you know where to find Beaureguard and Lukas?”
Michael smiled. “They go by Bo and Luke. No, not yet, but I’ll find out tonight. Did you monitor our conversation in the house?”
“Yes Michael, as a matter of caution.”
“That’s fine, Kitt. I’d also like you to monitor the local CB and police radio frequencies. We’ll track down these two in the morning.” Kitt flashed an affirmative. Michael got out of the car and patted it on the hood as he walked back to the house. “Goodnight, pal.” The scanner swept back twice in response.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The hospital room was dark except for the lights on two pieces of monitoring equipment. The antiseptic scent in the room was heavy, almost nauseating, and the temperature was chill. Rosco was unaware of his surroundings, as he dreamed that he was in his patrol car, chasing an orange Charger…flying over bumps…spinning around sharp turns. Rosco smiled in his sleep. I’m gainin’ on ‘em, khee khee…this time I got ‘em! Suddenly the orange car went around the next bend and out of sight…then a thunderous explosion rocked the hood of his patrol car, the vehicle’s front end in flames and the windshield shattered, another explosion, this one underneath the car and it started to roll, turning over and over, in slow motion…the smell of burning oil and wiring…the smell of gasoline, the crackle of flames…everything going black, but still hearing the crunching metal…pain…I can’t move, I’m trapped…a loud whoosh as the flames spurted through the car’s underbody…
“EYAAAAA!” Rosco bolted upright in the hospital bed, gasping in terror. Out of reflex, the thought came unbidden: What a horrendous crash! His heart pounding wildly, he tried to make sense of his surroundings. Where am I? How’d I get here? He peered tentatively into the darkness, gradually realizing that he was in a hospital room, and very alone. Suddenly he heard voices the hallway, and a rattle on the doorknob. Already spooked, he laid back down quickly and shut his eyes, in case something unpleasant was coming into the room.
A nurse bustled in and left the door open, using the light of the hallway instead of bothering to turn on the lights in the room. She quickly changed the I.V. bag, then took the patient’s pulse. Heart rate was up, she noted on the chart. She decided to advise the doctor of this progress, and supposed he would probably order a new set of tests. Leaving the door open, she left the room as abruptly as she had entered.
Rosco heard her footsteps echo down the hallway, and then two male voices spoke up outside the door. “I suppose we can’t risk going in there, she’s probably coming back with the doctor,” one said. “We need to know if he’s about to wake up!”
“It doesn’t matter,” answered the other. “That’s just our excuse for hanging around. We really don’t want him to wake up.”
“Nope. He wasn’t supposed to make it to a hospital in the first place. But now that he’s here, we’re playing along until we get the word…then we’ll bump him off.”
Ooo! Rosco thought, I’d hate to be in that guy’s shoes…
“So what are we waiting for?” The first voice asked.
“We’re waiting for those two plowboys to get knocked off first. If they happen to get captured alive, then we’ll make sure our guest here doesn’t leave the hospital, and they get the rap for killing a cop.. Either way, the Sheriff has to die. But if he wakes up, we’ll find out from him first where these guys hide out.”
Plowboys…Bo and Luke Duke get called that a lot, too…
“What’s taking them so long to find the only orange car in Hazzard County?” The first voice complained.
Uh oh…that sounds like the General Lee, they ARE talking about Bo and Luke…and the Sheriff those mavericks are gonna bump off… must be me…OH NO! Rosco pulled the bed sheet over his head.
“Don’t worry about it,” The second voice answered. “They’ll all be gone by tomorrow, and then we’re out of here.”
Judas priest on a pony, I’ve gotta get out of here! I have to warn Bo and Luke…Rosco felt a moment’s hesitation. I was chasing Bo and Luke when I was blown to smithereens…but they wouldn’t have…or would they…but then why are these criminals gonna do them in? Is it because they missed? Rosco’s head hurt as he tried to sort it out. He tried to remember what happened after the car started rolling.
Couldn’t see…don’t remember the car stopping…heard somebody yelling, somebody pulling my arm…felt like I was carried…Huge explosion…Luke yelling in my ear like I was deaf… Bo yelling… Rosco, are you okay, talk to us…pesky Dukes, don’t they know I’m dead…Rosco felt the cold stab of truth. Bo and Luke pulled me out of the car before it exploded!
Rosco heard footsteps in the hall again. Oh, good grief, now what? Guess I better freeze…he sunk back in the bed, playing possum. The nurse returned with the doctor in tow. The light snapped on, and Rosco hoped they didn’t see him squeeze his eyes shut.
“You’re right, his color is better,” the doctor said. “Since his pulse rate is up, let’s take him out of ICU and run some new tests. He’s stable and should regain consciousness in a day or so.” The nurse nodded and began unhooking the apparatus surrounding the bed. “Get him into neurology , and have an orderly bring down his personal effects. When he regains consciousness, I want to see if he remembers anything.”
“Yes, doctor.” Rosco held his breath as his bed was wheeled out the door. “Where’s he going?” One of the State Police demanded.
The nurse was glad to see them flustered. “Tests,” was all she said without looking at them. The officers grumbled to themselves a moment, then decided that this was a good opportunity to slip out for a break. After all, it was after visiting time, and medical tests could take awhile.
The wheeled bed banged through swinging double doors into the neurology unit. Rosco’s nurse barked instructions to a medical technician ,who grabbed the patient chart and asked some questions. An orderly strolled into the room with Rosco’s belongings. “Put those on the bed, he’s going to another room after these tests,” his nurse said.
There was unexpected silence as the nurse and technician headed to an alcove, busy with neurological equipment. The orderly left. Rosco sat up cautiously. He could hear the nurses talking some distance away, but he was by himself for the moment. Now’s my chance, he thought. Seeing his tattered uniform, boots and hat, he gave a chuckle of delight. This is what I call service! He carefully pulled out the I.V. needle, making a face at the pain. He hopped off the bed, nearly falling with sudden vertigo. Whoa, a little shaky there! He dressed carefully, minding the bandages around his ribs, feeling dizzy and nauseous. Rather be sick than six feet under, he encouraged himself, and slipped out through the double doors.
He made it down the corridor and into the hospital lobby, casting nervous glances to the left and right as he bolted for the main exit. On the street, one state patrol squad was parked. Rosco crossed his fingers and tried the driver’s door. It opened, and Rosco dove in. He looked around, and decided that nobody would mind if he hot-wired the car. “It’s in the line of duty,” he told himself aloud. In a few minutes he was speeding away into the night, knowing that sooner or later someone would notice the car was gone. I don’t dare use the CB until I’m back in Hazzard, he told himself. If those mavericks hear me now, I’ll never make it. He fought the temptation to drift back to unconsciousness, and gunned the engine.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Luke paced back and forth between the pond and the tin shed. The intermittent hooting of the owls wore on his nerves, which were brittle with fatigue. By the position of the moon, he figured it was a couple hours till dawn. Maybe I should wake up Bo to take over the sentry duty, and get a couple hours of sleep. He decided to make one more trip to the pond to wash up again. He walked down the trail carelessly, as he had become well aquatinted with it. He was taking off his shirt at the pond’s shore when a loud hoot sounded to his left. Luke froze. That doesn’t sound right, he thought to himself. An answering hoot came from somewhere to his right, back in the thicker part of the woods. It sounded shallow, almost as if someone were imitating an owl without quite getting it down. Oh, Lord…it’s not owls, it’s them bounty hunters, they’re signaling each other! Luke tucked his shirt back in and carefully retraced his steps. A hoot sounded directly in front of him, not far from the shed, and the woodpile, and Bo.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Michael had settled in at the Duke residence, and had just said goodnight to Jesse and Daisy. He was alone in the room that Bo and Luke shared, and was examining with interest the racing trophies and photographs that adorned a wall. Looks like some car they got…Can’t wait to tell Kitt what it looks like, He smiled to himself. He decided to use the comlink on his wrist and feed Kitt some data to chew on. “Kitt,” he spoke quietly.
“Yes Michael,” came the immediate response.
“Kitt, I’ve got a make on the car these two are driving. Run this through your processor. It looks to be a 1969 Dodge Charger…orange, with a bold ‘01’ on each door, and a Confederate flag pained on the roof, with lettering that says General Lee.”
A short burst of static spat from the comlink. “Michael, you’ve got to be kidding.”
Michael grinned at this partner’s offended sense of aesthetics. “No, I’m not. Actually, I kinda like it.” Kitt decided not to take the bait. “It also has a roll bar in the interior, and a push bar in the front. Can you run that through the police records and see if it’s registered?”
A minute passed before Kitt answered. “Yes, it’s registered to Beaureguard and Lukas Duke, license plate CNH-320.” The red scanner light on Kitt’s front end swung back and forth in contemplation. “If this is the car we’re looking for, it shouldn’t be too hard to find.”
“I agree…but there are lots of racing trophies in here, and don’t forget these guys ran moonshine as well. With their knowledge of the area and their driving skill, it’s no wonder they haven’t been caught yet.”
Michael continued to look at the personal effects in the room. He found car magazines, fishing poles and lures, guitars, and a closet with a sparse assortment of clothes, and some worn out boots. Something in the closet caught his eye, and he carefully reached back and pulled out an old compound bow. It was unstrung. There was also a thick cardboard canister, which he opened to find several arrows. Some of them were missing the arrowhead, others lacking the feather-like vanes. One was thicker and heavier, with a piece of black tape strapped to it, just enough to hold a stick of dynamite. Michael frowned, and returned the objects to their place. In the opposite corner, he found old CB equipment. He spoke into the comlink again. “Kitt, has there been any activity on the local CB frequencies?”
“Not as of yet Michael. If anything, it’s unusually quiet.”
Michael sighed and shut the closet. He hoped that Daisy and Jesse had some idea where to find these two. They won’t last much longer against the state police and the bounty hunters. I’ve got to find them before someone else does, and buries the truth with them.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Luke’s heart pounded loudly in his ears. He couldn’t let them find Bo…no matter what. He picked up a few rocks and whipped them towards the pond, hoping the noise would lead the stalkers in his direction. Suddenly flashlight beams were piercing the woods behind Luke, and more glared in front of him. There’s more of them than I thought! I’ve got to get them away from Bo! He whipped several more stones, each a longer distance than the previous one, trying to draw the hunters away. A shotgun blast tore through the silence and echoed into the hills, and Luke jumped at the sound.
“Listen up, Duke Boys!” A slow, gruff voice shouted. “We know y’all are here. Now we’re all over this place, and y’all ain’t gonna see another sunrise unless you git out here!” Luke knew Bo must be awake now, and hoped his cousin would stay put. Don’t get out of the car, don’t get out of the car, Bo! He thought over and over.
Another blast sounded, this one behind him, only several yards away. “We know ya been by the pond, we see yer boot tracks!” A new voice shouted. “An’ we’re gonna blast you to pieces come sunup if’n you don’t come crawlin’ out now wit yer hands up!” Luke remained motionless as the second man started tracking through the brush behind him, and the first came forward cautiously. A third and forth came slowly towards him from the sides. Go, cousin, get out of here, go!! Luke mouthed the words silently as he shut his eyes, forcing himself to remain still.
A car engine fired up and roared behind the woodpile, causing the hunters to turn and run in that direction. Instead of bolting away, the General Lee idled in the darkness. The pulsing engine thrummed steadily, out of sight. No headlights were on, and the hunters could only focus on the rumbling engine. Luke watched helplessly the armed posse closed in on the car, and heard one man using a walkie-talkie. As they raised their shotguns and started to walk behind the woodpile, Luke couldn’t believe that Bo was going to just sit there and get killed. Luke jumped up and ran out of the woods.
“BO!! GET OUT OF THERE!! GET OUT OF THERE NOW !” Luke screamed. Two of the hunters heard Luke, and fired blindly in his direction. Luke heard the pellets hitting the trees behind him, and he rolled as another round streaked over his head. He was getting up to run ,and heard the sickening CHK-CHK of a shotgun pump loading up a shell, right behind him.
“DUKE BOY! DON’T MOVE!” Luke slowly raised his hands, and took comfort in the roaring sound of the General Lee, which was crashing through the brush. Shots rang out behind the orange car, but Bo was getting away. Alright Bo, keep moving, don’t turn back…Luke became calm as he concentrated his thoughts on the retreating car. Goodbye, cousin…
“OKAY, PLOWBOY, YOU’RE GONNA GIT BOTH BARRELS –ONE FOR YOU, AND ONE FOR YOUR COUSIN.” Rough laughter rose from three men surrounding Luke, and they waved their companions over, who had given up chasing Bo. One man with greasy red hair spoke into a walkie-talkie. “This here’s Red, calling Unit 3. We got us one Luke Duke.” The others whooped, celebrating the thought of the money they were in for.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Bo gripped the steering wheel with one hand, the other clutching a CB handset. “BO DUKE CALLING ENOS, BO DUKE CALLING ENOS, THIS IS AN EMERGENCY, COME BACK!! Bo had the General Lee flying through the woods, trees and brush scratching against the car, rocks spitting up from the tires. “THIS IS BO DUKE TO DEPUTY ENOS STRATE, WE NEED HELP AT HAZZARD POND!!
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Kitt picked up the sudden activity on the CB and alerted Michael through the comlink. “Michael ! There is an emergency CB transmission being broadcast on channel 9 by Bo Duke!”
Michael bolted out the bedroom door, finding Jesse and Daisy listening to the CB in the kitchen, horror etched on their faces. “Kitt, where are they?” Michael breathed into his comlink.
“Five point three miles west of here, by Hazzard Pond.”
Michael put one hand on Daisy’s shoulder and one on Jesse’s. “Trust me and stay here! I’ll help them!” Without another word, he ran out the door and jumped into Kitt.
“Hit it, pal! Zero in on the source of that CB transmission!”
Kitts red scanner light swept back and forth rapidly as they shot out to the road, the sudden acceleration throwing Michael back in the seat. Jesse and Daisy watched the black car disappear from their vantage point in the kitchen window. In seconds it was out of sight, leaving them alone. “Oh, Uncle Jesse!” Daisy began to sob, wondering if she would ever see her cousins again. Jesse held her silently, fearing that his two boys would never make it home.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Bo stopped the General Lee just short of the dirt road, desperately calling Enos on the CB. No answer came, and Bo knew that by using the CB, every bounty hunter and state cop in the county would be heading this way. He saw the dirt road ahead in the headlight beams, beckoning him to escape. He knew Luke wanted him to keep going. Cousin, I can’t leave you back there. Bo swung the car around and plunged back in the way he had came, turning the headlights off. Hang on, Luke, I’ll be there in a second, just hang on Bo repeated in his mind, afraid that Luke might already be gone.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The black of night was giving way to the deep blue of pre-dawn, as Luke dispassionately faced his captors. He watched them argue amongst themselves, some wanting to shoot him, a couple others wanting to keep him alive until they caught Bo as well. One suggested a firing squad, since it was almost sunrise. They all laughed at this suggestion, and the bounty hunter called Red dug out a dirty handkerchief for a blindfold.
Red’s walkie-talkie interrupted their fun. “Unit 3 to Red, Unit 3 to Red !” it squawked, causing them to jump.
Red quieted at his peers, motioning them to keep the noise down. “Go ahead Unit 3, this here’s Red,” he replied.
“There’s a problem. Coltrane took off in one of our cars, he’s got to be headed back to Hazzard. Get your boys on the road and nail him.”
“Yeah, okay. Ya still want us to blast this Duke boy? The other one’s loose.”
“Shoot him, but keep the body. We’ll take care of the other one.”
Luke’s mouth went dry, realizing that the voice on the other end of the walkie-talkie belonged to the same State Patrol officer who blamed them for Rosco’s crash. We didn’t have a chance, between them and these bounty hunters. Why do they want us gone, and what did Rosco ever do to them?A shotgun was leveled at his chest, and Luke knew he was out of time.
A roaring, crashing sound was getting louder, but Red ignored it, preparing to fire. He gave his gun a quick pump, loading two shells into the chamber. Luke attempted to buy a minute, asking the only question he could come up with under the circumstances. “Is that gun a 12 gauge, or a 16 gauge?”
Red looked up, surprised. “What does it matter?”
A loud roar sounded behind them as a car suddenly burst into the clearing, it’s horn blaring Dixie. The high beams flashed, the bright glare causing Red to become distracted. Luke tackled him and they rolled on the ground, wrestling for the shotgun. Luke heard the General Lee roaring in the background, as the other bounty hunters yelled and fired.
Bo spun the wheel at a 180-degree angle, whipping up dirt and stones. A shotgun blast blew out the back window, and a another took out the side mirror. Bo ducked and barreled the car around the tin shed, the headlights finding Luke and Red battling on the ground. Bo revved the engine and blasted the horn again, and Red was transfixed by the sight of the car about to run him down. He jumped away, leaving the gun. Bo slammed the brakes and spun the wheel at the same time, putting the passenger side of the car inches from Luke. “NEED A RIDE, COUSIN?” Bo yelled over the sound of gunfire. Luke dove in the window head first, and Bo hit the accelerator and headed straight for the cluster of bounty hunters, forcing them to jump out of the way. The dust and gun smoke hung heavy in the damp morning air, making accurate shooting a problem for their opponents.
The orange car flew down the choppy path that Bo had made earlier, and he gripped the wheel tightly to maintain control of the car. Moments later they were speeding down the dirt road towards Hazzard, a trail of dust whirling behind them.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Michael, my scanners detect several shots fired in the vicinity of Hazzard Pond.” Kitt’s voice box pulsed rapidly.
“I hope we’re not too late, pal,” Michael said.
“I don’t think so. There is an APB being broadcast on the State Police frequency. Apparently Bo and Luke escaped some bounty hunters, and are now heading southbound towards Hazzard. There is an APB out for their car, with instructions to…” Kitt paused.
“What is it, Kitt?”
“Michael, Unit Three of the State Police is ordering all units to shoot on sight, considering the suspects armed and dangerous.”
“That means we have to find them first, Kitt.” The black Trans Am streaked down the dirt road past Hazzard Pond, raising the same dust that the General Lee disturbed minutes before.
Bo and Luke had said nothing for a few miles, while they distanced themselves from Hazzard Pond. Luke was the first to speak up. “Bo, you could have gotten yourself killed,” he told him. Bo looked back at him and grinned ear to ear. “You’re welcome,” he replied. Luke laughed and put his hand out. “Thanks, cousin.” They shook hands, holding it for an extra minute before letting go.
A bright glow in the east heralded the dawn, and the orange hood of the General blazed with the golden hue. They covered several more miles, heading towards town. Luke told Bo about the State Police officer talking to Red on a walkie-talkie, and that the State Police were involved in this somehow.
They rounded a sharp curve in the road and suddenly found two State Patrol cars blocking it. “Oh, Shoot!” Bo yelled, turning the car around. Luke looked at him tiredly. “Don’t say ‘shoot’, okay Bo?” Bo chuckled as he drove the General into a grassy field, daring the squads to follow them off-road. Despite their peril, Bo was in high spirits. At least we’re together, he thought as the squad cars turned to follow. “Y’know Luke, we need to call Enos and fill him in on all this,” Bo suggested. Luke agreed, and grabbed the CB handset. “Luke Duke calling Deputy Enos State, you out there, Enos?”
Kitt and Michael were minutes behind the General Lee when Kitt picked up the CB transmission. “Michael, Luke is on channel 9 attempting to contact Deputy Enos Strate. I also detect two transmissions on the state police frequency, and those cars are in close pursuit of the… General Lee.” Kitt said the last two words as if they tasted funny.
“Kitt, lock on to the General’s position through the source of their last CB transmission.”
“Done, Michael. Bo and Luke are one point two miles due west. Apparently they have left the road in favor of an open field. The State Patrol is still following them.” Kitt’s red scanner light increased it’s sweeping motion, anticipating a high-speed chase.
“Let’s get ‘em, pal.” Michael said. Kitt obeyed and plotted an intercept course through the open country, leaving the dirt road behind.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Bo maneuvered the General Lee through the bumpy terrain, the orange car making an obvious target against the green field. The state patrol cars followed doggedly, unable to overtake their quarry, but unwilling to abandon the chase. The General’s CB suddenly crackled to life, startling Bo and Luke. “This is Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, calling Bo and Luke Duke, come back!” Luke answered excitedly. “Rosco! This is Luke, go ahead!”
“Listen boys, there’s a bunch of desperados after me, and I can’t shake ‘em. I came back to Hazzard County to warn you two…you can’t stop for nobody. The State Police want us gone, and they got some no-good bounty hunters helping them.”
“We found that out, Rosco. We’ve got two squads on our tail now. Where are you?”
“Never mind that…just get in to town and find Enos, he’s probably first wakin’ up. Tell him the State Police can’t be trusted, and that under no condition is he to listen to any of ‘em. An’ one more thing. If I don’t make it back to Hazzard…tell him he’s the Sheriff.”
“What!” Bo and Luke said together.
“You heard me. Now don’t give me no back-talk, I ain’t got time for it. I’m gone.”
“Rosco! Tell us where you are…” There was no response. Luke hung the CB handset back up. “Dang it!”
“WHOA!!” Bo yelled, and Luke looked up to see that the two squads had come up on their flanks in a sudden burst of speed, with the officers pulling guns.” “HIT IT, BO !” The General pulled away, but the pursuit was uncomfortably close. Bo cast nervous glances at his cousin. “Uh, Luke…I don’t know how to tell you this, but the General is overheating, and we’re getting low on gas.”
“Head for the highway! We’ll get better speed and more air intake! If we lose these guys, we can risk stopping for gas somewhere.”
“10-4!” Bo cranked the wheel and darted to Route Seven, the General’s tires squealing as they hit pavement. Behind them, a black Trans-am suddenly appeared and cut off the State Police, causing the squads to collide with each other.
“Who the heck is that ?!” Bo yelled. He hit the accelerator hard, trying to out distance the new threat. Luke looked over his shoulder and watched the black car zero in on them, an errie red light glowing between it’s headlights. He looked at Bo, who looked back and read his mind. “I got it to the floor, cousin.”
“Turn off on Moose Creek Road. If we can’t outrun him, we’ll out maneuver him…if the General holds up.” Luke held on while Bo swung the car wildly on to the dirt road, barely controlling it on the sharp turns. The back end of the General fishtailed right and left, kicking up huge clouds of dust. Bo turned the General in a zigzag before doubling back and blasting by the Trans Am, which swung around in response.
Michael needled his partner. “What’s the matter Kitt, can’t catch an old orange car?” Kitts scanner flew back and forth in agitation, and his voice box flashed. “Perhaps if you we’re a better driver…” Michael winced. “Nice. Now how about we catch these two, before they kill themselves running away.” Kitt responded by accelerating until his nose was almost touching the rear bumper of the orange car, following it with precision. Only the one-lane, twisting road prevented them from overtaking the General.
Bo and Luke could feel the black car behind them, though neither dared to turn and look. The turbine hum of it’s engine blended with the roar of the General, which was steaming heavily. Bo finally glanced in the review mirror and swallowed. “Luke…he’s got us.” Luke turned to look, and felt the pit of his stomach lurch. The Trans Am seemed to be waiting for enough room to pull alongside them. “Bo, we’ve got one chance! Get to the edge of the creek, and jump it! There ain’t a bridge around here for miles!”
“You got it!” Bo lurched the car down off the road and barreled towards the creek at an angle. The unexpected move caused Kitt to back off in surprise.
“Michael, are they going to drown themselves?” he asked his human partner. The orange car increased speed with the velocity of the descent, showing no signs of stopping. “No, Kitt, they’re going to jump the creek!” The orange car headed towards an embankment which had been built up for flood control.
“HANG ON!” Bo yelled as the General hit the embankment at full speed, becoming airborne. For a few seconds all they could see was the sky and the orange hood of the car… then they felt the car tilt forward and saw the ground many feet below. The General landed hard, the front quarter panels crumpling with a heavy crunch. At the same time, the over-worked radiator blew, a burbling hiss of steam escaping from the hood.
“Go, Kitt!” Michael ordered, and kicked in the turbo-boost. The black Trans-Am shot over the creek gracefully, landing on all four wheels just to the left of the General Lee. The black car swung around and placed it’s red scanner inches away from the steaming front end of the General.
Bo and Luke exchanged a silent look between them. Luke started to pull himself out of the car. “We gave it our best shot, Bo. We can’t do nothin’ else.” Luke sat in the passenger window, looking at the black car. A second later Bo was sitting in the driver’s window across from him. They hesitated to get all they way out of the car, their hands on the roof of the General, as if they wanted to scoot back in. A pressurized hiss announced the opening of the black car’s door. As Michael stepped out of the car, Bo and Luke slowly raised their hands.
Michael read the look on their faces, and decided to ask a couple of questions before he let them relax. “Okay. The State Patrol is after you. Every bounty hunter in the state is after you. Care to explain why?”
Bo answered with temper. “Care to explain just who in the heck you are, Mister?” Luke held his breath, wishing Bo would watch his mouth. Shut up, Bo…
Michael folded his arms and leaned against his car. “Sure. My name’s Michael Knight, I’m with the Foundation for Law and Government.” Bo shrugged, not knowing if this was good or bad. Luke spoke up. “What do you want with us?”
“The truth,” Michael said, walking towards them. “Why did you try to kill Sheriff Coltrane?” Luke gasped, remembering their last CB conversation with Rosco. “He ain’t dead!” An’ besides, we ain’t the one’s who tried to kill ‘em! But right now he’s trying to make it to Hazzard and he’s got a load of trouble on his tail. Instead of messing with us, you should go and help him!”
Kitt’s scanner slowed gradually, and he spoke his analysis to Michael. “Voice polygraph indicates that Luke is telling the truth, Michael.” Bo and Luke jumped, their hands coming down as they gripped the sides of General Lee. Luke recovered first. “Hey, what the heck is that, and how does it know who I am?”
Michael decided it was time for introductions. “Luke, Bo, I’d like you to meet the Knight Industries Two Thousand – KITT for short.” The red scanner swung calmly, a mechanical sound echoing with it’s motion. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” the car said.
“Uh, nice to meet you, Kitt,” Bo stammered. Thinking quickly, he gestured to the orange car. “Kitt, I’d like you to meet General Lee.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Rosco swerved his car sharply, the rear quarter panel striking the front of the State Patrol vehicle that almost passed him. The cars were evenly matched, and Rosco could not evade the well-rested and aggressive officer following him. Further behind, a rusty truck and two beat-up cars tailed the squad, occasionally falling behind but always following relentlessly. Rosco blinked, trying to clear his blurring vision, and swerved the car again, narrowly missing a tree. His pursuer spun the wheel too late, and the passenger side of the patrol car slammed in to the oak. Shaken, the officer hesitated before hitting the accelerator and coming back for more.
“Yeah, that’ll teach ya,” Rosco said while watching through his rear-view mirror. But at the sight of the patrol car resuming the chase, and the rest of the bunch gaining ground, Rosco felt something close to panic. He grabbed the CB mike again. Enos, you dipstick, you better answer this time, he thought as he fumbled with the handset.
“This is Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, calling Deputy Enos Strate, you got yer ears on? Come back!” No reply came. “Enos, you dipstick, where the heck are you ! Over!” Rosco gave the accelerator an extra punch and launched the car over a gully, landing it with a bang on the other side. Ouch! Don’t know how Bo and Luke do this all the time. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the pursuit copy his move and fly up on his tail. Dang it!
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Bo and Luke were leaning in to Kitt’s interior, admiring the control panel when Kitt’s voice box flashed, startling them both. “Michael, there is another CB transmission from the Sheriff. He may be in trouble.”
Michael nudged by Bo and got into the car. “Where is he, Kitt?”
“Approximately four point two miles northeast of our position, heading southbound. He’s been trying several CB channels in an effort to reach Deputy Enos Strate,” Kitt replied.
“Why didn’t Rosco try to reach us again, Luke?” Bo asked.
“He probably thought we had or own problems, and we did…” Out of the corner of his eye, Luke saw Michael smiling. “And we can’t help him now, with the General having this busted radiator!”
Michael interjected. “Kitt and I will help him. But you two aren’t going to be safe out here. I’m going to call someone to pick up you and your car, and I want you to trust me.”
Bo and Luke stood together, hands on their hips as they exchanged a silent look. “Okay,” Luke agreed. “But then we want to fix the General , so we can help.”
“I guess you wouldn’t stay put no matter what,” Michael sighed. “Okay, Kitt, call Devon and have him bring the semi here…and ask Bonnie if she can find a radiator for a ‘69 Charger.” While Michael and Kitt were talking, Bo and Luke tried to raise Rosco on their CB.
“This is Bo Duke calling Rosco, you out there Sheriff?” After a couple of attempts, he got a reply on channel 6.
“Bo? This is Rosco…uh, are you boys okay?”
“Yeah, Rosco, we’re fine, but the General conked out. But don’t worry, Luke an’ me are gonna send out some help. Where y’all at?”
“Route Seven, comin’ up on Moose Creek Road, with a bunch of trouble on my posterior. If you’re sendin’ help, tell ‘em to hurry!”
“We’re not far from ya, Rosco, hang on!”
“10-4, I’m gone.”
Michael and Kitt pulled up next to them, ready to roll. “Bo! Luke! Stay here for a few minutes! A black semi is coming to pick up you and the General…when it gets here, drive the car into the back of the truck. They’re expecting you, so don’t worry!”
“Alright Michael, but get out to Route Seven fast, Rosco needs help!” Luke pointed across the creek .
“Kitt’s got him locked in from the CB bandwidth. I’ll see you guys soon!” The black car shot off with the high-pitched whine of it’s turbine engine. Accelerating rapidly, it headed directly for the creek. A sudden whoosh blasted from the car as it became airborne and boosted over the water, leaving dust hanging in the sunlight.
Bo and Luke leaned back against the General Lee, fascinated. Bo spoke up. “Cousin, I’m glad they’re on our side.” Luke nodded. “You got that right…y’know, ol’ Rosco is gonna have a heart attack when he sees that thing.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Rosco had the pedal to the floor when he suddenly saw a large semi truck ahead. “Oh, good grief, look at the size of that thing…Git outta my way!” His pursuers, seeing an opportunity, pulled up alongside him and started banging the cars together, squeezing Rosco in the middle. “Oh, no you don’t, I can drive like a Yankee too !” He slammed the brakes, and the two cars flew forward and collided together, the impact sending one rolling and the other spinning out. “Ki -khee! Got ‘em!” Rosco giggled. Then he looked over his left shoulder. “Whoops, got one loose here,” he said as a rusty pickup truck headed straight for him, a shotgun sticking out the driver’s window. As Rosco accelerated to outrun the truck, a blast shattered his side mirror. “Ooo! He’s serious!” Rosco punched the gas, and his stolen patrol car flew by the black semi, which blared it’s horn. The pickup followed him, achieving decent speed on the open stretch of road. The pickup’s driver waited unit the semi was a good distance behind them, then poked the shotgun out of the window again, aiming for the car’s tires. Perfect, Red thought to himself. It’ll look like a tire blew, and at this speed that car will crumple like an empty beer can.
A black Trans-Am zoomed passed the semi and accelerated rapidly, going from a small dot in the mirror to a full size car on Red’s bumper. Before he could react, the car passed him and placed itself between his truck and the patrol car. The sight of the mysterious black car popping behind him caused Rosco to crank the wheel in panic and take his car across a field, heading for a dirt road. The pickup tried to follow, but the black car weaved back and forth in front of him, finally causing Red to yank the wheel too hard. The pickup tilted on two wheels, then rolled into the ditch with a heavy crash. The black car circled the pickup once, then came to a halt.
“Kitt, is he okay?” Michael asked as he jumped out of the car. Kitt’s scanner swept quickly. “His vital signs are fine, Michael, but he’s unconscious.” Michael found this to be accurate as he pulled the big man out of the truck. He reached in jacket pocket and retrieved a pair of handcuffs, which he slapped on Red. “No sense taking chances with this guy.” Michael dragged Red over by a tree, leaving him under it’s shade. “We’ll pick him up later, Kitt. Let’s find Sheriff Coltrane.”
Rosco had stopped his car on the side of the dirt road, watching the rear-view mirror nervously. Don’t see nothin, maybe I lost ‘em…not finding any pursuit, he pulled the car back on the worn path and drove away slowly, feeling tired and ready to drop. The dust billowing behind his car abruptly caught his attention. I ain’t goin’ that fast to make all that dust…then he saw a red light tracking back and forth, and the nose of the black car that attacked him on the highway, coming up fast. “OH NO! THERE IT IS !” Rosco hit the gas and drove as if the devil himself chased him. “This is what I get…for all those times I snookered the Dukes…all those fake speedin’ traps…instead of sending help they put this horrendous thing after me…oh, if I get out of this, I’ll never bother them again, I promise….”
Kitt held to the patrol car’s rear bumper, feeling a sense of deja’ vu. “Michael, why do these people insist on cross-country chases and dirt roads? I’m getting dust in my intake.”
Michael laughed at his partner’s complaint. “Tell him to pull over, Kitt, he doesn’t need to run.”
The black car edged over to the left, and a voice boomed from it. “Sheriff Coltrane! Pull Over!”
The patrol car bolted at top speed towards Moose Creek, just a few miles north of where Bo and Luke had crossed earlier. “Not this again,” Kitt said. “Oh well…”As the patrol car roared up the embankment and took to the air, the black Trans Am followed. Rosco shut his eyes as his car sprang over the creek and descended towards the ground, the hood pointing to the grass at a sharp angle. Kitt flew over the patrol car at a high arc, the turbo boost balancing his trajectory. Rosco landed first with a metal-crunching, thunderous crash, the car landing on it’s two front wheels and balancing on it’s nose a second before the rest of it hit the ground. Kitt lofted to the earth, landing precisely on all fours, like an automotive cat.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Bo and Luke watched the black semi pull into the field and head towards them. A couple of short blasts sounded from the horn, as if in greeting. Bo leaned over and hit the horn on the General Lee, it’s Dixie horn playing a melodious hello. The truck turned and pulled ahead of them, dropping a ramp from the back trailer.
“Guess that’s our invitation,” Luke said. They slid into the General, managing to turn the engine over and chug the car cautiously up the ramp. They were amazed at the electronics, bright lights, and touches of wood-grain paneling that furnished the interior of the trailer. As they sat in the car, the ramp retracted, and the door shut behind them with a loud bang. Then the semi began to move, the ride becoming exceptionally smooth.
Bo looked at his older cousin. “Well, now what?” he asked. Luke shrugged. “How should I know? ” They became apprehensive, knowing that they were effectively trapped. Just then a door opened in the front of the trailer, and a young woman stepped through, wearing a white jumpsuit. Her long brown hair fell evenly over her shoulders, and she brushed a lock of it away from her pleasant face. An older gentleman followed her, dressed in an expensive suit, wavy white hair crowning his distinguished features. The woman motioned to them. “Bo, Luke, come on out, it’s okay.” They hopped out of the car, and went to meet their hosts.
The woman extended her hand. “My name’s Bonnie Barstow. This is my boss, Devon Miles. He’s Michael’s boss too, but neither of them will admit it.” Bo and Luke laughed, talking turns shaking their hands, and Devon harrumphed. “Yes, well…I suppose Michael and I see it as an uncomfortable formality at times.” He smiled. “I understand that Michael believes you are innocent, and I have learned to trust his judgement, as well as his investigative ability.” Devon paused, looking them in the eyes. “However, someone has taken considerable time and effort to infer your involvement with the Sheriff’s misfortunes. Until Michael and Kitt have conclusive evidence to implicate the responsible parties, I’m afraid you’re still considered fugitives from the law.”
Bo took a step closer to Luke, out of reflex to the last four words Devon said. “Are you sayin’ we’re under arrest?” he asked hesitantly.
“No, that would be premature, and perhaps uncalled for. I simply want you to understand that our investigation remains in progress, and that there are external elements that continue to seek your incarceration, perhaps even your outright destruction.”
Luke caught on. “So you want us to hang around the Foundation until you’re sure we had nothin’ to do with all this…and to make sure nothin’ happens to us.”
“Precisely.” Devon nodded. “Now, Michael also told me that you’re very adept at evasion. Before you attempt to employ your considerable skills here, please be assured that you are not being detained against your will. Should you insist on leaving, you may, but at your own risk.”
Bo snorted. “With the General busted up, we can’t get anywhere.” Bonnie looked past the two young men over to their orange car, getting a good look at it. “Michael said you blew a radiator, and that if it wasn’t for that, he’d still be chasing you.” She smiled, feeling some admiration for the young men. “If you know where we can find one to fit your car, I’ll help you fix it.”
They started at her. “I led the design team that built Kitt,” she added. Bo and Luke looked at each other, then whooped and slapped their hands together. “ALL RIGHT!”
Devon peered at the orange car, it’s markings causing him to raise an eyebrow. He watched the two young men take Bonnie arm in arm and escort her to the vehicle. Raising it’s hood, they pointed out various items of high performance, as Bonnie nodded and poked around the engine. Devon was amused at their exuberance for the vehicle, but then realized that it wasn’t very different from how he and Bonnie, and especially Michael, felt about Kitt. He walked over to join them, and soon found himself agreeing to direct the semi to the Hazzard Garage.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The patrol car sat motionless as Kitt swung around it. As the black car glided to a stop, Rosco stepped out of his wrecked vehicle, bracing himself against it’s hood. He considered running for it, but his right hand was pressed to his bandaged ribs, and he couldn’t run with the pain shooting through his side. Banged up and cornered, Rosco became unusually brave. Shaking a fist at the black car, be began a verbal assault.
“You maniac! Ya scuffed my car, ya scuffed me, an’ now here ya are tryin’ to finish me off! Well, I’ll tell ya something, Rosco P. Coltrane ain’t no easy target! Git out here and show yerself, I’ll cuff ya and stuff ya, I’m still the law in these parts!”
Michael stared at the spectacle through Kitt’s windshield. “I guess he’s okay, Kitt. Let’s see if we can convince him that we’re on his side.” Kitt’s voice box flashed an affirmative as Michael stepped out of the car.
At the sight of the tall man in the black jacket, Rosco reached for his gun, which wasn’t there. Ooo, forgot the hospital musta took it away…I’m in deep weeds now! He immediately changed tactics. “Um…nothing personal…thought you were somebody else…uh…Awright, move along folks, nothing to see here!” Rosco made a shooing motion with his hands.
Michael smiled and held up his palms in a gesture of peace. “It’s okay, Sheriff. I didn’t mean to scare you back there. My name’s Michael Knight, and I’m with the Foundation of Law and Government.”
“Oh, sure, that’s what they all say!” Rosco then saw the black car move up fractionally. “You! Hold it right there! Freeeeze!” he yelled at Kitt. Kitt obeyed, his red scanner light bouncing back and forth in inspiration, an idea sparking to his circuits.
“Sheriff Coltrane, your driving was an excellent demonstration of high-speed maneuvering in the profession of law enforcement. You must apprehend a lot of criminals,” Kitt said in a mellow voice.
Rosco beamed. ” Yeah, police work is my life,” he chuckled. Tilting his head at the black car, he asked a question. “What the heck are you anyway, some kinda fancy patrol car?”
“I’m the Knight Industries Two Thousand, or ‘Kitt’ for short,” the car answered. Michael stood there, amazed at the Sheriff’s nonchalance over the talking car. Most people drop dead when Kitt talks to them, he thought to himself. Kitt brought Michael in to the conversation. “Sheriff, Michael is my partner. We saved you from that rouge in the pickup truck on Route Seven.”
Michael stepped in. “We’re here to find out who attacked you, and get the evidence we need to arrest people who did it. Would you mind coming with us, Sheriff, to assist with our investigation?” Rosco looked at Michael, then at Kitt, and back at the state patrol car he had stolen and smashed to pieces. “Well…okay.” Kitt popped the passenger door open., which delighted Rosco. He settled in carefully, the complex control panel grabbing his attention immediately. “Khee-khee-khee, this is the biggest radio I’ve ever seen in my life! Ooo! What’s this, television? An’ what are all these buttons for?” Rosco reached for one as Michael got in. “Be careful Sheriff, you don’t want to touch the self destruct button,” Michael warned teasingly. Rosco yanked his hand back as if a snake had bit him.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The black semi was conspicuous in the small town of Hazzard, as it wove it’s way through the town square and over to a rustic garage. A stocky mechanic in a greasy baseball cap watched the truck park along the street. Cooter Davenport knew every vehicle in Hazzard County, and this wasn’t on his list of familiars. He eyed it suspiciously, worried that it belonged to some more enemies of the Dukes…which automatically would make more enemies for him. He put down his socket wrench and stared boldly at the truck.
A door opened in the front end of the trailer, and metal steps folded out. A slim brunette descended the stairs, her white jumpsuit flattering her figure. She headed towards the garage as if she had a purpose for being there. If this is an enemy of the Dukes, I just might change sides, Cooter joked to himself. The woman smiled and jogged up to him, cutting right to the chase.
“Hi there. I need a radiator for a ‘69 Charger. Got one in stock?” She asked casually. Cooter grinned at her and pushed back his cap. “Well, maybe I do, maybe I don’t. What do you want it for?”
Bonnie had little patience for games. “To fix a Dodge Charger,” she said testily. Cooter enjoyed himself. “Is this Dodge Charger orange, with a Confederate flag on top, an’ a big 01 on the doors, an’ goes by the name of General Lee, by any chance?” he smirked.
Bonnie rolled her eyes and exhaled. “What if it did?” she demanded, hands on her hips. Cooter chuckled and led her to the back of the garage. “Darlin’, if it’s for the General Lee, you get it at wholesale.” Then he sobered. “Those good ol’ boys are my friends, and I know they’re in big trouble. Now if you’re helpin’ them out, that’s fine. But if you’re after ‘em, I ain’t helpin’ you none.”
Bonnie was impressed by the mechanic’s loyalty. “I’m helping them. In fact, I offered to put in the radiator for them. I don’t get to play with a 440 cubic-inch V8 very often.” Cooter’s eyes widened. “You know cars?
“Inside and out.” Bonnie folded her arms. “Now how about the radiator?” Cooter nodded and rummaged through a special pile in his garage, where he kept Charger parts for his best customers, namely the Dukes. He carried a radiator over to Bonnie, setting it at her feet. “Here you are, Miss…”
“Barstow,” she told him. “Bonnie Barstow. And your name is?”
“Cooter Davenport, my friends call me Crazy Cooter, Crazy C for short.” He took of his cap and bowed majestically, watching a smile tug at the corner of Bonnie’s mouth. “Let me carry this out for you, Miss Barstow. An’ don’t worry about payin’ for it, I’ll just put it on Bo and Luke’s tab.” Before Bonnie could protest, Cooter was out the garage door and walking towards the semi, his baseball cap peeking out over the top of the radiator. Bonnie realized there would be no keeping him from the truck, so she jogged ahead of him and held the side door of the trailer open, and Cooter marched up the steps as if it were his birthright to enter.
He came to a dead stop as he entered the trailer, it’s sophisticated interior catching him off guard. Bonnie nudged past Cooter and shut the door behind him. Bo and Luke hustled over from the back end of the trailer, both of them taking at once. “Cooter! Crazy C! Boy, is it good to see you!” Cooter put the radiator down as Bo and Luke plowed into him, one patting him on the back and the other leaning on his shoulder.
“Hey Y’all!” Cooter said happily, pleased to see his friends safe. He noticed the dark circles under Luke’s eyes, and Bo also looked worn out, but they were in better condition than he had a right to expect. They chatted spontaneously for a moment, then Cooter’s curiosity got the better of him and he started walking through the trailer, followed closely by his friends. “Mother Dog! Would you look at this place!” he said in awe. Bo and Luke trailed behind him, grinning like kids. “Betcha Cooter is picturin’ all this stuff in his garage,” Bo whispered to his cousin.
Bonnie let them explore. “Just don’t touch anything,” she said as she opened the hood of the General, and Cooter hastily put back a gadget he was playing with. Once they realized Bonnie was busy under the hood, they proceeded to examine and handle as many objects as they could find, talking among themselves in excitement. “You should see the car this stuff belongs to,” Luke told Cooter. “It chased us like a demon, and practically flew over us when we jumped Moose Creek.” Cooter laughed. “So it scared the heck outta y’all, didn’t it!”
“It still scares the heck out of me,” Bo quipped. “I ain’t never seen anything that could run the General around like that, plus jump like a grasshopper.” Luke snorted. “You got that right,” he agreed, “But I think if the General didn’t have a radiator goin’ out, we would’ve had one heckuva race.” Cooter pushed up his cap and smiled broadly. “I’d give a dollar to see the rematch. You just lemme know when and where.” They all laughed, the tension starting to drain from Bo and Luke.
Cooter sighed. “I’d love to stay with y’all, but I got a parts shipment comin’ to the garage today.
Tell ya what, I’ll stop by your Uncle Jesse later, and let him and Daisy know you’re alright.”
“Thanks, Cooter. I wish we could go home, but…” Bo looked down, and Luke finished the sentence for him. “But we ain’t out of this thing yet. Hey, have you seen Enos?”
Cooter took off his cap and scratched his head. “Now that I think about it, no. Ain’t seen ‘em since yesterday.” Bo and Luke shifted their posture nervously, finding a new worry. They remembered that Rosco had been calling for Enos on the CB, just as they had several hours before, without success.
Luke voiced his fears. “Cooter, don’t use the CB, but see if you can find Enos. I’m thinkin’ that if somebody was after the Sheriff…”
“They might go after his deputy, too!” Bo finished. “Aw, dang it Luke, what are we gonna do?”
Luke paced the floor, his right hand on his forehead. He was getting too tired to think anymore, and his weariness made him blunt. “Bo, I don’t even know if Michael got to Rosco in time. We can have Michael look for Enos, too. But where does it stop? Lord, I’m worried about Uncle Jesse and Daisy, and you too, Cooter. Everybody in Hazzard knows you’re our friend, and when they can’t find me and Bo, they’ll come after you. It’s just a matter of time.” Luke regretted his words as he spoke them, knowing that he was painting a grim picture. He turned away from Bo and Cooter.
Cooter grabbed Luke’s shoulders and turned him around. “Lukas, listen to me. I ain’t gonna let nothin’ happen to your kin. An’ I ain’t gonna be in any trouble, nobody messes with Crazy C. Look at me, Lukas.” Luke raised his head, the exhaustion in his body encroaching on his spirit, his blue eyes betraying the despair he felt. Cooter grabbed him in a bear hug, trying to give him some of his own strength. Luke pulled away after a moment, feeling obligated to tell Cooter the rest of his thoughts. Bo stood close, reaching an arm around Luke’s shoulders in silent encouragement. “Cooter, when Bo and I were camping out by Hazzard Pond, we nearly got caught. Actually, I did get caught. These guys had no intention of bringing me in alive. If Bo had been thirty seconds later in getting to me, I’d be dead.” Luke snapped his fingers for emphasis as he said it. Bo was startled. He didn’t know it had been that close. “Then, they chased us for miles, and never quit,” Luke continued. “If Michael hadn’t have shown up…”
Cooter sighed as he began to feel some of the emotional weight that Bo and Luke had been carrying around. “Did them bounty hunters even bother to tell the State Police they had you?”
“Yeah. There was one guy in charge, big fella, called Red . I heard him on the walkie-talkie, with one of the State Police, the same cop that found me and Bo where Rosco crashed. He told Red to shoot me, and keep the body…to prove they got me, I guess.”
Cooter turned pale, as did Bo. “Good Lord, Luke, why didn’t you tell me?” Bo asked. Luke looked at his younger cousin and smiled thinly. “I told you I heard them talking, I just left out some details.” Bo made a face, and Luke apologized. “Sorry, cousin. I guess I should’ve told you about it, but I didn’t want you to worry.”
“Worry? Heck, Luke, I’ve done nothing but worry since this whole dang thing started! You think you’re the only one who worries about anything?” Bo’s temper ignited. “You think I didn’t worry when I woke up to gunshots and didn’t know where you were?” Luke blinked at him, surprised at the outburst. He knew his cousin had a point, though. “Bo, I’m sorry…that was my fault,” he offered, and extended his hand.
Bo pouted for a minute and ignored Luke’s gesture, both of them growing irritated. Cooter yelled at his young friend. “C’mon Bo, you outta be happy he’s still here to yell at! Now you know you ain’t mad at Luke, you’re mad about what could have happened!” The mechanic had been their friend for years, and he hated it when they raised their hackles at each other. Bo thought about Cooter’s words, and recognized the truth in them.
Bo looked at the floor as he shook his cousin’s hand. “I’m sorry Luke…” he said sincerely. Then he sighed and lifted his face to meet his cousin’s eyes. “But for awhile there last night, I thought my worst fear had happened.” Luke pulled him into a brotherly embrace. “It’s okay, Bo. I understand.”
“That’s better,” Cooter said. “Now I gotta get back to the garage. I’ll look for Enos, and I’ll stop by y’all’s farm, so don’t worry.” They walked to the front of the trailer with Cooter, stopping to look at the General Lee with Bonnie under the hood. The new radiator was already in, and Bonnie was tightening the last clamp. Cooter inspected her handiwork, then took Bonnie’s hand and kissed it. “Miss Barstow, you’re the woman of my dreams,” he said with a toothy grin. Bonnie looked startled, and Bo and Luke laughed so hard they doubled over. The mechanic bid them farewell, looking wistfully at Bonnie as he opened the door. “I get off work at five-thirty,” he winked, as Bonnie stared at him in disbelief. After he had left, she turned to Bo and Luke. “He can’t be serious!”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The black Trans-Am covered the distance to the Duke farm in a matter of minutes. Rosco had been too busy talking to Kitt to notice where they were going. Kitt had been giving him tips on driving, and had just told him how to use the emergency brake to spin around more quickly than pumping the disc brakes, which was effective for shooting ahead of another car and then blocking the road. “And the technique for high-speed curves,” Kitt continued, “involves keeping your wrists straight, hands on the 10 and 2 o’clock position on the wheel, and dipping your elbow in towards your ribs. Accelerate after the first half of the turn to maintain control.” Rosco listened intently, enthralled by the subject of hot pursuit.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Michael broke in. “But we’re almost to the Duke’s place. Sheriff, how well do you know Jesse Duke?” Rosco groaned. “All to well,” he answered. Kitt turned down the dirt driveway and pulled up to the farmhouse, opening both car doors. Michael jumped out immediately, patting Kitt on the hood as he walked by. Rosco got out slowly, partially due to his aching ribs, partially because he found Jesse to be hard to deal with when the boys were in trouble.
Daisy had seen them coming, and the screen door flew open with a bang as she ran down to them. “Rosco! You’re okay! She flew into his arms, giving him a big hug and a kiss on the check. Flustered and taken completely off guard, Rosco could only stammer. “Well,..um..um…hi Daisy,” he managed to say. Daisy then plunged into Michael, hugging him tightly. “Oh Michael, please tell me that Bo and Luke are okay too,” she whispered. “They are,” he told her.
The screen door banged again as Jesse came out of the house. Spotting Rosco, he headed for the Sheriff with an uncertain look in his eye. Rosco cringed as Jesse greeted him. “Well, look what the cat dragged in…Rosco P. Coltrane.” Jesse eyed him up and down, noticing the ragged uniform and some cuts and bruises. He reached his hands around Rosco’s sides, having seen the outline of bandages, and realized at a touch there were probably some cracked ribs, too. Rosco jumped back. “Ooo! Jesse, now don’t scuff me. I swear, I didn’t have anything to do with Bo and Luke getting in trouble…uh, other than the ticket I was gonna give ‘em…but I know they didn’t do this to me. In fact, I came back to Hazzard to warn ‘em about those mavericks!”
Jesse smiled. “Oh, I believe you, Rosco. In fact, I’ve never been happier to see you.” Jesse laughed, slapping him on the shoulder. “C’mon in and have some coffee. You too, Michael, we want to hear what’s been goin’ on!”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Cooter drove his tow truck slowly, looking for any signs of Enos’s patrol car. Seeing nothing, he headed towards Hazzard Pond, since that’s where Bo and Luke had found the bounty hunters. Once there, he saw evidence of the General Lee in high gear: ruts dug in the dirt road from spinning tires, stones thrown everywhere, and demolished shrubbery leading back to woods behind the pond. He examined the ground, recognizing the tracks of the General Lee, and found signs of truck tires crossing them. There also seemed to be several more sets of car tracks, more recent than the rest of the imprints. That’s funny, these seem to go right towards the pond. Cooter followed the mowed-down grass that direction, stopping at the pond’s edge. Looking across the water, he couldn’t figure it out. Did someone back up a car here to fish, or to dump something? A fish struck at an insect just above the surface, the disturbance causing wide ripples in the water. Cooter looked at the center of the ripples, and saw something under the water’s surface. He waded in, boots and all, to get a closer view. Waist deep, he could make out the rack of red lights on the car’s roof, and the white color of a Hazzard County patrol car, entirely submerged in the murky water. “Oh no…No, it can’t be…Enos!” Cooter dove in, swimming over to the vehicle and dunking his head beneath the surface, hoping he wouldn’t find Enos trapped in there.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Inside the semi trailer, Bo and Luke were sleeping in the General Lee, with Luke sprawled out in the backseat, and Bo in the front. Bonnie had checked on them once, leaving quietly when it was clear they were sound asleep. Michael’s not the only one who sleeps in his car, she thought to herself. She went to the front end of the trailer, where another door opened to a small living area, just behind the cab. Devon sat at a small table with a steaming cup of tea.
“How are our guests doing?” Devon asked. Smiling, Bonnie sat down next to him. “They’re sleeping in the car. I think they feel safe for the first time in days.”
“Excellent. Now is the perfect time for me to discuss the situation with their parole officer,” Devon said calmly and sipped his tea.
“Devon, you’re not turning them in, are you?” Bonnie stiffened in her chair.
“No, of course not. I simply need to discover if their parole officer has any part in this elaborate scheme. Kitt provided me with numerous examples of the animosity between the Duke family and Mr. Jefferson Davis Hogg, and those only represent cases presented to the State Police. I’m sure the local records will be quite interesting.” Devon stood up and straightened his suit. “Bonnie, I would appreciate it if you avoided mentioning this to Bo and Luke. We don’t want to cause them alarm.”
“Right. Besides, I don’t think they’ll be waking up for awhile. But be careful, Devon. I overheard them talking, and whoever is after them is playing for keeps.” Devon nodded, stepping out of the living quarters. “I’ll take every precaution.” As he exited, he glanced at the orange car, and saw a pair of boots sticking out the passenger window. Kitt would have objections if Michael slept like that, he mused.
It was a short walk to the Hazzard County Police station, and Devon noticed three State Patrol cars parked outside. Odd, there aren’t any Hazzard Patrol cars here at all. He made his way up the steps, and as he entered the double doors to the police station, a state trooper greeted him.
“Name your business,” the officer snapped. Devon was unruffled, and raised his eyebrow before answering. “My name is Devon Miles, I’m here to see Mr. Jefferson Davis Hogg.”
“In there,” the officer gestured. Devon thanked him and paused at the door, which had a sign next to it that read: J.D. HOGG, COMMISIONER OF HAZZARD COUNTY, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, PAROLE OFFICER, FIRE CHIEF, ROTARY CLUB PRESIDENT, ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER. Devon opened the door quietly, and saw a balding, portly man dressed in white sitting behind a large desk. The man was so involved in the documents he was reading that Devon’s entry went unnoticed.
“Excuse me,” Devon said politely, and the round gentleman jumped. “Holy Hannibal, don’t you believe in knocking?” he exclaimed. “Who in blazes are you, anyway?”
Devon exercised his diplomatic skill. “Oh, do pardon my intrusion, I didn’t mean to startle you. My name is Devon Miles, and I represent the Foundation for Law and Government. Have I found Mr. Jefferson Davis Hogg?
“Yeah, yeah, I’m J.D. Hogg. Folks around here call me Boss. What do you want?”
Devon watched in mild distaste as the Commissioner lit a cigar. “I wish to speak to you concerning two parolees under your authority, namely Beauregaurd and Lukas Duke.”
“You ain’t from around here, are ya,” Boss said with a drawl. “‘Cuz if you was, you’d know that them boys hightailed it outta here some time ago.” He puffed the cigar, peering at Devon through narrowed eyes.
“I’d like to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind,” Devon continued. “And I’d also appreciate seeing their case file.”
Boss got up and went to a large drawer in the file cabinet, pulling out a ream of paper overflowing from a tattered folder. He plopped it down on the desk with a loud whap. “Here’s this year’s,” he said with a grunt. “But don’t bother with it, you’ll just waste your time.” Devon ignored the comment and started leafing through the stack.
“An assortment of traffic violations,” Devon pondered aloud. “Speeding, reckless driving, passing on the shoulder, no turn signal, no brake lights, no brakes, missing side mirror, missing review mirror, evading an officer, parking in a no-parking zone, parking on the sidewalk, driving on two wheels, not slowing in a construction zone, destruction of public property with a motor vehicle, obstructing traffic, passing in a no-passing zone, noise pollution -”
Boss cut him off. “Bah! That happened last Saturday. Ain’t nothin’ unusual ‘bout it.” Devon continued his search, finding nothing to indicate physically violent behavior. He found only a few charges that were halfway close, and then decided to make the most of it.
“Ah-hah!” Devon proclaimed. “Several of these charges are related! Here’s a fine example. Assault of an officer, pushed the Sheriff into a duck pond. Assault of an officer, running the Sheriff off the road. Assault of an officer, tying the Deputy to a chair and hanging him from a wall.” Devon read a few more, while Boss cringed.
“Alright, alright, alright! That’s enough, I know all about those things. What’s your point?” Devon closed the file with a slap and put on his best face of disdain. “The point, Mr. Hogg, is that as their parole officer, you should have had these two behind bars a long time ago. If you had done your job, the Sheriff wouldn’t have suffered his latest, and possibly last, misfortune.”
Boss sucked in his breath at the accusation, his eyes ready to pop out of his head. Devon leaned over the desk, face to face. “In fact, perhaps you were working with the two fugitives, plotting the demise of Sheriff Coltrane. It would certainly explain why they remained free, despite the numerous efforts by the Sheriff to bring them to justice.” The Commissioner’s face turned as white as his clothing.
“No! No! No! That’s not true! Rosco is my brother-in-law! He’s my wife’s baby brother! He’s my friend!” Boss exclaimed. “He’s the best Sheriff that money can – uh, he’s the best Sheriff in Hazzard!”
Devon studied the round face. “He’s the only Sheriff in Hazzard. Have you selected a replacement?”
“Replacement! Replace Rosco? You mean… permanently?” Hogg said in a hushed voice.
“Of course,” Devon said smoothly. “After all, why wait? Even if he does pull through, he may not be able to serve in the same capacity. Either way, his career is likely to be over.”
At this, the Hazzard County Commissioner stared blankly. “It can’t be,” he finally said. “It can’t be.”
“Not to worry,” Devon said cheerfully, “I’m sure one of the State Police would be willing to stay in Hazzard as your Sheriff. In fact, perhaps several more of them will stay as deputies.”
“What ? Are you out of your cotton-pickin’ mind? Do you know what life is like with these goons in town 24 hours a day? I’ll tell ya! The Boar’s Nest is half-empty, ‘cause they case the joint night and day. There ain’t a drop of moonshine left in the county, nobody dares fire up a still. Ya can’t hardly be out after dark, ‘cause they’ll stop ya to search your car for open liquor. If ya ain’t got any, they’ll put some in there and arrest ya anyway. They pull over so many folks night and day, ain’t nobody comin’ to town anymore. The movie house is losin’ business, Rhuebottom’s is losin’ business, and I’m almost out of business!” The tirade left him out of breath, and he paced while chomping on the cigar.
Devon became extremely interested. “So the State Police are cleaning the town up, eh?”
“Cleanin’ it up? They’re wipin’ it out! And me with it! Some folks have even put their houses up for sale, and I hold the mortgages on ‘em! Some closed their bank accounts already! I hold the leases on the stores, too, and if those fold, I fold! I’ll be ruined!”
“Hmmm. I suppose that does present a problem,” Devon said mildly. Inwardly, he was excited by Boss’s complaints. The State Police are taking over Hazzard, just like the other small towns. Maybe we’ve arrived in time.
“I suppose my problem ain’t your problem, so why don’t you leave.” Boss was agitated by the Devon’s sophisticated calm.
“I will, and I thank you for your courtesy. But I leave you with a word of caution.” Devon’s tone became low, and Boss had to lean in to hear him. “The Foundation has reason to believe that the State Patrol orchestrated similar events in two other areas. It’s unlikely that your Sheriff was attacked by the two young men that stand accused.”
Boss nodded slowly, as if he had thought the same thing. “Bo and Luke ain’t the kinda people who go lookin’ for revenge outta somebody’s hide. But the State Police! I can’t believe they’d be behind all this!”
Devon nodded. “They are. We can only hope that the entire force isn’t involved. Unfortunately, they have bounty hunters assisting them as well. As one of my associates put it, they’re ‘playing for keeps.’
“Well, Mr. Miles, you’re the genuine herald of doom, ain’t ya? Listen, do you have any word on my brother-in-law? I tried to visit him in the hospital, but the police wouldn’t let anybody in.”
“Sheriff Coltrane has escaped the confines of the hospital, and was attempting to make it to Hazzard. He was being pursued by State Police and their bounty hunters as well. Two of my associates attempted to intercept him and bring him to safety. Their current status is unknown.” Devon wished he had more to tell him, but Michael and Kitt had not yet reported in.
“You mean to tell me, you don’t know if he’s dead or alive?” Boss gaped at him.
“My associates are of the highest caliber, and I have complete faith in their abilities. It may be that they have not had the opportunity to bring me up to date.”
Boss frowned. “I hope that’s it. What about Bo and Luke? Their Uncle Jesse is worried sick.”
“They are safe, although exhausted from their ordeal. There were some close calls, from what I understand.” Devon smiled at the relieved expression on Boss’s face. “I’ll send word of Sheriff Coltrane as soon as I have it, Mr. Hogg. Until then, do not attempt to reach the Sheriff, or Bo and Luke by CB or any other means. You would be placing yourself in immediate danger.”
Boss nodded. “Alright then. I appreciate your help, Mr. Miles. Now you’d better git before them crooked cops get suspicious.” Devon shook his hand and opened the door, finding an officer glaring at him from the booking station. “Thanks again for the property tax information,” he called out as he left, and Boss waved, understanding the need for tactics. “You’re welcome, sir, thank you for visiting Hazzard.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Cooter drove the tow truck at top speed, pushing the heavy vehicle to it’s limits. Soaking wet from top to bottom, he swore under his breath. At least Enos wasn’t in the car, but somebody tired to hide it for a reason. Hope ol’ Enos didn’t get himself killed. He swerved the truck around the corners wildly, getting to the Duke farm in half the time. He was surprised to see a black Trans-Am in front of the farmhouse. Ignoring the driveway, Cooter turned off past the Duke property, then cut back through the field. He parked the truck behind the barn, and snuck up to the back of the house, hoping that Daisy and Jesse weren’t in trouble.
“Michael, there’s someone approaching the house from the back,” Kitt announced through the comlink. “Gotcha pal, thanks,” Michael answered, and got up behind the kitchen door. He motioned Daisy, Jesse and Rosco into the living room.
Cooter peeked through the window and saw the three of them in the living room, all staring towards the kitchen. If there’s trouble, it’s in the kitchen, Cooter thought, and cracked his knuckles. He crept up the porch, feeling as if he was being watched. Behind him, the black car sat motionless, except for a red light that swept back and forth between the headlights. Creepy, the mechanic shuddered as he looked at it. Swallowing his anxiety, he pulled the screen door open carefully, keeping the springs from announcing his entrance. He peeked inside. It’s too quiet. His pulse sped up with a rush of adrenaline, and he whipped the door open, jumping inside. Immediately he felt someone grab him, and he quickly broke loose and landed a punch in the assailant’s stomach. “Cooter!” He heard Daisy yell, then a smack to his jaw sent him spinning. He grabbed a kitchen chair for the purpose of bodily injury, then Rosco ran up to him and tugged his shoulder. “Cooter, no! It’s okay! Michael, this is Cooter, he’s a friend of the Dukes!”
Michael relaxed, but kept his eyes locked on Cooter’s. Cooter felt the chair being taken out of his hands, and he stared at the tall, black-jacketed stranger. “So you’re Michael! Aw, look man, I’m sorry. Bo and Luke told me about y’all, I just didn’t know it was you hidin’ behind the door.” Cooter righted his cap, and offered his hand in a gesture of apology. Michael shook it. “Don’t worry about it, no hard feelings,” he told Cooter good-naturedly, who grinned in return.
Something on Michael’s wrist started to talk. “Is everything alright, Michael?” it asked.
Cooter’s eyes got big as Michael spoke into the comlink. “Yeah, Kitt, this guy’s a friend of the Duke family.” There was a pause while Kitt registered the new information in his database. “Understood,” came the reply.
“That was my partner,” Michael said wryly at Cooter’s amazed expression. Rosco chuckled, and Daisy and Jesse looked bewildered. “Well, come on. I’ll take you to meet him. He’s right outside.” They followed Michael outside, and stopped in front of the car. “Kitt, I want you to meet Daisy, Jesse, and Cooter.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Kitt said pleasantly. “Mr. Duke, I must compliment you on the driving skill of your nephews. You must have shared your talent with them.” Jesse was startled to hear the voice from the front of the car. Seeing Michael smile at him and nod, he accepted it , and answered Kitt with a laugh. “Them boys were taught by the best, that’s fer sure.” Kitt then addressed Daisy. “Miss Duke, Michael is quite taken by your considerable charm, and so am I.” Michael swatted the car hood, and Daisy giggled. “Kitt, you’re the sweetest thing!” Cooter eyed the red scanner light, putting his face directly in front of it. “So y’all was watchin’ me sneak up to the house! If you ain’t somethin’ else!” He stood up and put a hand on the hood. “Kitt, y’all wouldn’t mind if I took a peek under here, would ya?” Kitt’s engine sprang to life and he backed two feet away. “Sorry, Cooter. Authorized technicians only.” Cooter looked disappointed. “I only wanted to see how ya gave the General such a run for the money.”
Michael put a hand on Cooter’s shoulder. “Kitt’s shy around new people. He’ll show you later.” Kitt pulled forward again, nudging Cooter’s legs and making him yelp in surprise. “Hey!”
“Okay Kitt, we need to get back to work. Keep up the surveillance. Oh, call Devon and let him know we have the Sheriff, will ya pal?”
“Right away, Michael.”
As they walked back in the house, Rosco was the last to follow. He patted Kitt’s hood. “Khee khee khee, you sure surprised the heck out of old Jesse Duke!” Chuckling to himself, he ran up the porch. Kitt’s scanner swung twice in rapid motion, as if to smile.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Devon left the Sheriff’s station quickly and avoided looking around. He walked towards a small restaurant at the end of the block, not wanting to lead anyone to the semi trailer. A State Police officer watched him, as he watched everyone who came willingly into the county office. Soon he would report this man, along with anyone else new in town, to his commander.
The commander was currently in the police station, and at Devon’s exit had returned to daydreaming. He thought back to the early days of his career, and recalled how he came about his nickname. On the police radio, he only went by the handle of Unit Three, but his fellow officers called him Slammer.
This title was earned by his ability to place suspects in jail, regardless of the evidence. Slammer’s connections included bounty hunters, gun lobbyists, congressmen, and judges. Over the years, his personal relationships with these groups went from innocent friendship, to organized crime. Officers who respected him in the past did not dare to cross him now. Others chose to join him. There was money to be made from both ends of a crime, and Slammer had it down to a science. An officer from his force would perform the crime and frame a local resident, who would usually flee. Slammer would notify the bounty hunters, and have the State post a reward for the fugitive’s capture. Slammer and his officers would make sure that their own bounty hunters collected the reward, which was shared with them in return.
After some practice, they discovered that crimes against local police officers generated the highest rewards. With the local police under siege, Slammer and his gangs were able to harass citizens in the pretext of clamping down on crime. Eventually, businesses and homes were up for sale, at below market prices. After all, who wanted to work or live in a town that had criminals so desperate as to attack the police? What’s more, how long could people put up with being harassed, fined and jailed on a regular basis?
Slammer’s friends picked up the real estate at wholesale prices, then operated their own illegal businesses from them, which were protected by the State Police. When it was time to elect a new Sheriff, who better qualified than one of the very same officers who served the locals in their time of need, and saw the end of the fugitives at large?
Slammer casually considered the violent consequences of his enterprise. He had nothing personal against the Hazzard County Sheriff, or his deputy, for that matter. But Hazzard was ripe for picking with it’s small police force, and it’s prominent local businessman with various holdings. Slammer rubbed his hands at the thought of owning the Boar’s Nest, Hazzard Bank, the coffin works, and a dozen other outfits. And the Duke boys were perfect pigeons for the frame-up. The whole town is still talking about the local feud that got out of hand… wasn’t it a shame that Rosco pushed them boys too far, and who’d a thought they’d ever do such a thing…I hear it in the Post Office, the bank, Rhuebottoms, and, every front porch, he thought to himself smugly. If those dumb Dukes hadn’t spotted two of our cars the day before we were ready, we coulda let ‘em live, and they would’ve just rotted on Death Row or something instead…Oh well…they’re worth lots of cash either way.
He was starting to consider staying in Hazzard after this town was taken, and running for Sheriff. No one gives this town a second glance…it’s the perfect base of operation…might keep this one for myself. His thoughts were abruptly interrupted by one of his officers hustling in.
“What is it,” Slammer asked without looking at the officer.
“Sir, were you interviewing a white-haired guy in a fancy suit?” The officer inquired.
“No, Rollins, that man was talking to J.D. Hogg. Don’t worry about it, he just was asking for tax records.” Slammer dismissed the officer with a waive of his hand. “Yes Sir,” Rollins saluted and left immediately.
Officer Rollins was not one to remain in Slammer’s presence unless necessary. He was loyal but not familiar with his commanding officer, preferring to maintain a professional distance. Collins enjoyed the money Slammer’s operations provided, and also enjoyed the methods. As he walked to his patrol car, he decided to check in with Red. He disliked the bounty hunters intensely, finding their habits barbaric and their manner unprofessional. One of their prior victims had been unrecognizable, which almost ruined the setup in the most recent town they acquired. Good thing Slammer’s makin’ ‘em keep the bodies with ‘em now, things don’t get as messy. Rollins sneered at the memory of Red trying to clean out his truck from the last “captured felon” he hauled to Slammer. Yep, Red don’t know when to quit, that’s for sure.
Rollins realized that Red had not reported in for some time. He grabbed the CB mike in his patrol car. “Unit Four to Red, Unit Four to Red, over.” Not getting an answer, he tried again.
“Red, this is Rollins, over.” The officer scowled, figuring Red must be drunk again. “Red, come in!”
The CB squawked with an answer, but it was from one of Red’s men instead. “Rollins, this here’s Jimmy, we ain’t seen nuthin’ of Red since mornin’,” the voice drawled. “We figured he wuz wit y’all in town.”
Rollins got an uneasy feeling. “He’s not. Jimmy, have any of you boys been able to reach him on the CB?”
“Where was he headed to the last time you saw him?”
“He was goin’ down Route Seven, chasin’ the Sheri..uh,..one of them suspects,” Jimmy told him, worry thickening his drawl.
Rollins jumped into his cruiser and fired it up. “What’s the status of the suspects?”
“Uh…still at large…”
“You ain’t got any of ‘em? Not one?”
“Negatory…sorry Rollins, but it’s like they up and disappeared. Ain’t nobody seen that orange car in hours.”
“What about the stolen patrol car?” Rollins was especially worried about Sheriff Coltrane being on the loose. I should have hit that hick Sheriff’s car just a few seconds later than I did…then the dynamite would have hit the windshield instead. “Oh, we found that one, yep. Found ‘er bashed up across Moose Creek.” At this, Rollins breathed a sigh of relief and eagerly asked for details. “So you recovered the body?”
“Weren’t no body to recover,” Jimmy reported. “Didn’t find hide nor hair of ‘em. Saw lots of tracks there, though. Lotsa ruts up and down the creek, like a truck and coupla cars had been rippin’ around.”
Rollins sped his patrol car through the town square, heading out to Route Seven. “Jimmy, you and your boys comb every inch of this county for the suspects! I’ll find Red and I’ll report this to Slammer!” He pushed the patrol car into high gear while he worked up the courage to radio his commander. Damn, if that Sheriff shows up in town, this whole setup will fall apart. Especially if we have two dead locals, and the Sheriff tells everybody they were innocent. Rollins debated calling Jimmy back and ordering him to leave the Dukes alive when found, but Slammer was the man in charge. Steeling himself, he snapped up the CB.
“Unit Four to Unit Three, over,” Rollins held his breath and counted to five. Predictably, his commander answered after the few seconds had passed. “Unit Three to Unit Four, go ahead,” came the crisp reply.
“Commander, we have three suspects at large, repeat, three suspects at large. Stolen patrol car found empty. We also have a man missing.” Another five second pause.
“Unit Three,” Slammer said in an undertone, “This is not acceptable, not any of it. Who’s missing?”
“Red’s missing. Jimmy says he was last headed down Route Seven, in pursuit of a suspect. I’m heading there now.”
Slammer barked his new ordered through gritted teeth. “Unit Four, proceed. Advise all units to capture suspects alive. We can’t afford to only catch one or two…but if it turns out that way, we can interrogate them for the whereabouts of the third suspect. And for Red’s location.”
Rollins admired his superior’s perception, which mirrored his own. “10-4 Commander, Unit Four out.”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Devon left the restaurant after he saw the State Police cruiser screech out of town. He walked swiftly to the black semi, carrying a large brown bag. The side door to the trailer opened as he set foot on the stairs.
Bonnie helped him with the package. “Hi Devon! What’s in here?” She asked as she rustled the bag. “Lunch!” she answered herself.
At the sound of Bonnie’s voice, a pair of boots pulled themselves in to the orange car, and blonde hair peeked over the dash. Bo’s heart beat wildly until he remembered where he was. Oh yeah, forgot…whew! Bo quietly slid out of the car, leaving his cousin sleeping in the back. Bo made a gesture of quiet to Bonnie and Devon, and tiptoed over to them.
“Hi Bo, have a good nap?” Bonnie asked in hushed tones. “Yeah,” he answered in a half whisper. “I figure Luke ain’t slept in over a day, so I’m leavin’ him there for a bit. Whatcha got in the bag?”
Devon knew he guessed right about their guests being hungry. “I thought perhaps we could all use some lunch, but I’m afraid the Hazzard Café has a limited menu. Would you care for a sandwich?” Bo didn’t answer with words, having helped himself as Devon spoke. He nodded as he chewed. “That’s great Devon, thank you,” Bo said after a swallow.
Devon took a sandwich for himself and Bonnie, gesturing to the living area. “Would you care to join us?” Bo shook his head while he chewed. “I’d like to,” he said gulping his food, “But I want to stay with Luke in case he wakes up a little spooked. I know I did.” Devon nodded, and went out with Bonnie. “I understand. Just knock if you need anything.”
Bo gave him an ok sign with his hand as he inhaled the rest of his lunch. Reaching in the bag, he found a can of soda, and walked back to the General Lee to sit on the hood. He popped the soda open, the sharp sound echoing in the quiet trailer.
“AAA!” Luke yelled at the sound and bolted upright in the car, banging his head on the rollbar. “OW!” Bo jumped at the sudden commotion and poked his head into the car. “Luke, it’s okay! We’re still in the trailer!”
Luke rubbed his temple and glared at his cousin. Bo hustled for the lunch bag, bringing it to Luke with a smile. “Saved ya some lunch,” he offered. Luke groaned and pulled himself out of the backseat, and sat on the hood of the General with Bo. “Are we still in town?” Luke asked in mid-chew.
“Yeah, I reckon so. Devon went out earlier, probably to talk to Boss. Don’t know what happened with that yet, he’s in there having lunch with Bonnie.” Bo gestured to the front of the trailer.
Before Luke could ask anything else, the semi jolted into gear and started to move. It shifted rapidly, with a sense of urgency. Devon exited the living quarters, followed by Bonnie.
“Ah, you’re both awake. Good. We’ve just received communication from Kitt and I thought you’d like to hear the news.” Bo and Luke looked at him expectantly. “Sheriff Coltrane is alive and well. He and Michael are with your relatives, along with a gentleman by the name of Cooter.” Devon watched Bo and Luke’s happy reaction, noting that their relief for the Sheriff was genuine. He regretted cutting the celebration short. “However, your friend Cooter found the patrol car belonging to Deputy Strate…immersed in Hazzard Pond. He found no other trace of him.”
“Enos,” Luke whispered, and Bo hung his head. Devon continued. “There’s more. Michael had captured one of the bounty hunters, who apparently is called Red.” Luke’s eyes became blue ice at the name, and he felt Bo place a hand on his shoulder. “Unfortunately, Red was unconscious, and Michael decided to leave him behind, since he couldn’t chase down the Sheriff and anticipate Red awaking at the same time. He left Red handcuffed, out of sight off Route Seven.” Devon paused, not wanting to alarm the two young men, who looked at him with serious expressions, their blue eyes seeming to read Devon’s thoughts. “Kitt advised me that the State Patrol is aware of Red’s absence, and they are en route to his last known location…on Route Seven. Once they find Red, he will undoubtedly tell them of a black semi, that held him back momentarily from his pursuit of the Sheriff. Then he will tell them of a black car that placed itself in his path, and ran him off the road.”
Luke finished Devon’s train of thought. “And then, the State Patrol will have an APB out on this truck, and on the black car…on Kitt.” Devon nodded, his expression grave. “Kitt has monitored the CB frequencies, and has arrived at the same conclusion. He and Michael will meet us on the road to offer protection.”
Bo spoke up. “The semi can only go so fast, and Kitt is only one car, no matter how good he is. There’s five State Patrols, and a slew of bounty hunters!”
Luke agreed with his cousin. “If they ignore Kitt and concentrate on this truck, there ain’t no way to stop ‘em. Especially if they use the kind of ammo that blew Rosco’s car to pieces.” Bo and Luke leapt off the hood of the General and slid into the car. “Devon, open the door! Your only chance is to have us lead ‘em away!” Luke called out.
Devon’s comlink beeped, and Michael’s voice carried loudly. “Yo, Devon! We’re on our way, but Kitt says the APB is out! You’ve got two patrols heading your away, and we don’t know what else! Hang in there!”
General Lee’s engine roared, and the car rocked side to side, still in park. “Devon! If we get trapped in here, we’re in just as much trouble!” Bo shouted. “Open the door or we’ll go out the hard way!”
Devon nodded at Bonnie, and she slapped a panel. The back door of the trailer opened, a ramp extending out to the road. With the door open, a wailing of sirens streamed in. The sound pumped adrenaline into Bo, and he backed the General down the ramp in a single acceleration. Hitting the road, Bo slammed the brakes and spun the nose of the General around, heading towards the sirens.
“Go straight at ‘em, Bo. They’ll forget about the truck when they get a look at us.” Bo tromped the gas pedal, sending the orange car streaking down the center of the road. The State Police cruisers were approaching side by side, and catching sight of General Lee, they accelerated. Bo glanced at his cousin, who stared straight ahead. “Head right for their license plates…steady…don’t turn away from em, not even at the last second…trust me Bo…” The sound of his cousin’s calm voice reinforced Bo’s courage, and he aimed the General like an arrow, fixed on the front of the squads.
The patrol cars held their position, not wavering at the sight of the orange car barreling down on them. As the distance of the cars became only seconds away, Bo sucked in a breath and held it. “Keep going, Bo!” Luke shouted, and Bo responded by accelerating and hitting the horn. The patrol cars swerved wildly at the last second, one of the cars skimming the side of the General with the sound of scraping metal. Bo held the car steady, neither slowing down nor looking back. The patrol cars slammed the brakes and spun around to give chase.
“Alright, cousin, good move!” Luke yelled, and Bo grinned. “Now take the side road, we’ll lose ‘em just like we’ve been doin’ for two days!” As they fishtailed over a dirt road, three beat up cars drove behind them, and the squads brought up the rear. They outdistanced the pursuit, their knowledge of the back roads giving them the advantage.
“Bo! Look!” Luke suddenly pointed to the side of the road, where a man stood in a blue uniform. “It’s Enos!” Bo shouted, and he brought the General to a sliding halt. “Enos! Get in!” They yelled together, but Enos shook his head sadly.
“I’m real sorry, y’all, but…” Enos began. The sound of clicking pistol hammers and pumping shotguns interrupted him. Behind the brush, several rough-looking men were visible. A State Police officer strode into view, his pistol pointed at Enos.
“You boys even think about makin’ a run for it, and I drop this fool where he stands.” Cars screeched up behind the General Lee, and another patrol car pulled in front of it. Shotgun barrels poked into the side windows, and Bo looked at Luke desperately. Luke’s eyes met his cousin’s, and he shook his head as he raised his hands. Bo sighed and followed suit.
“Get out of the car! Slow! Keep your hands where I can see ‘em!” Slammer barked. Once Bo was out of the car, Slammer spun him around roughly and handcuffed him in a swift motion. Rollins did the same to Luke.
“What about the car?” Rollins asked his superior. Bo and Luke held their breath, knowing that as long as the General Lee was around, they had a chance. Without it…
“That car is evidence, leave it alone,” Slammer decided, much to the their relief. “Leave it in the road for now. I want the car to be seen, especially by whoever is helping these two sod-busters.”
“Uh, ain’t you gonna read us our rights?” Bo asked. If they don’t bother, that means they ain’t keeping us around…
“Shut up!” Slammer growled. Uh oh…Luke, now would be a great time for one of your ideas…
“Rollins, you take that one in your car, I’ll take this one in mine. Jimmy and Red, you take the Deputy. Meet at the usual spot. The rest of you, split up and find that Sheriff!” Slammer shoved Bo with force, making him stumble. “And one more thing…either of you plowboys act up, and the Deputy will pay for it, you hear me?”
“Yeah, we hear you,” Luke said quietly, and Bo nodded sullenly. They looked back at each other briefly as they were lead to separate cars. Enos piped up. “Bo, Luke, I’m sorry y’all, they told me they had Rosco and if I didn’t help…
“Quiet, you!” Jimmy bellowed, and yanked Enos away. Red paused to give Luke an evil grin before leaving, and Rollins quickly shoved Luke into the back of his patrol car. Car doors slammed and engines roared, and moments later the General Lee sat alone on the dirt road, abandoned.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
“Devon is calling,” Kitt alerted Michael. A second later the transmission lit up on the view screen. “Michael, Bonnie and I are fine. The State Police have been diverted.” Devon’s expression was carefully controlled, and Michael realized how the diversion was accomplished.
“Devon, don’t tell me Bo and Luke are out there with the worst of the South after them.”
“I’m sorry Michael, but they insisted on leaving. Bo was about to drive through the door if we didn’t open it.” Devon said sadly, and Bonnie nodded in the background.
Michael sighed. “Alright, then get the truck to the Duke place and park it behind the barn. Hopefully we’ll find Bo and Luke and bring them back with us.”
Devon agreed. “Yes, we’re heading towards the coordinates Kitt has provided. Good luck to the both of you.” Kitt ended the transmission as Michael gave his boss a nod of acknowledgement.
Michael and Kitt rode in silence for a several minutes, then suddenly Kitt’s voice box flashed rapidly. “Michael! I’m detecting several CB conversations from Units Three, Four and Five of the State Police, and some from civilians.”
“Put ‘em on Kitt, I want to hear it.” A second later, a crackling pop of static preceded a gruff voice. “Unit Three to all units, we have two suspects in custody, repeat, two subjects in custody. Third suspect at large. Whoever brings me that third suspect earns himself a bonus. Bring him in dead or alive.” There was whooping and yelling sent in reply to Slammer’s message, and Michael frowned at the sound of it.
“Michael, I’m afraid Bo and Luke have been captured. But who is the third suspect?” Kitt asked quietly, sensing his partner’s dark mood. Michael didn’t answer immediately, tapping the steering wheel in thought.
“The Hazzard County Sheriff,” Michael said at last. “They can’t announce to the public that they’re after him, so they’re referring to him as a suspect. Once they’ve got him, they can knock off Bo and Luke,” Michael said grimly. “Kitt, take us to the location of that last transmission.” In response, the black car leapt down a dirt road, maneuvering with care around hairpin curves.
“This is the type of road preferred by the Dukes, I’m surprised they were caught on it.” Kitt commented, and he dropped speed as his scanners identified something blocking the road. “Michael, there is a car stopped in the road ahead.” As they came closer, Michael’s heart sank as he recognized the orange car.
“Kitt, they wouldn’t have left the General behind unless they had no choice. Are there any mechanical defects that would have made them abandon it?”
Kitts scanner swept several times before he answered. “None, Michael. The mechanical condition is sound. If it’s any comfort, there’s also no trace of human…injury,” Kitt said carefully.
“No blood anywhere? I’d find it hard to believe that Bo and Luke wouldn’t have put up some kind of fight.,” Michael wondered aloud. “Unless…Kitt, head back to the Duke farm. The bounty hunters may have a hostage, let’s make sure they don’t get any more.” Kitt roared into gear, but he questioned his partner. “Michael, what about Bo and Luke? There are several tracks in the road that seem to head in the same direction. I could follow them easily.”
“Later, Kitt. As long as the bad guys don’t have the Sheriff, they’ll keep Bo and Luke around. We’ve got to get back to the farm before they look there!” Kitt’s voice box glowed red. “You’re right, Michael.” The black car accelerated to the maximum speed possible on the twisting road.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Daisy sobbed gently as her Uncle Jesse held her. “C’mon girl, don’t lose hope.” The CB at the Duke farm had picked up Slammer’s broadcast, sending Daisy into tears. Cooter paced restlessly, and Rosco sat alone at the kitchen table. No patrol car, no gun…I can’t do anything, he thought to himself. Rosco looked at Daisy and Jesse, feeling guilty. Maybe if I hadn’t chased ‘em that day, this wouldn’t a happened…he stood up and considered taking Daisy’s jeep to search for Bo and Luke. He glanced out the kitchen window and saw a large black semi pulling in.
“Ooo!” Rosco exclaimed and shut the curtain, ducking behind the door. His behavior caught the attention of everyone else, who looked out the living room window in amazement at the black truck, which pulled behind the barn. Cooter’s eyes widened. “It’s Devon and Bonnie! It’s alright, y’all, they work with Michael!” Rosco jumped out of the way as Cooter bolted for the door, opening it and holding it wide for their guests.
“Hey Devon! C’mon in! Hello, Miss Barstow,” Cooter said with a wink, tipping his hat. Bonnie gave him an exasperated smile. They came in to the kitchen, and Devon prevented himself from raising an eyebrow at the modest domicile. Daisy wiped her eyes and ran up to Devon. “Michael told us Bo and Luke were safe with you,” she said without accusation. “How did they get caught?”
“Now Daisy,” Jesse admonished. “Let ‘em sit down before ya pepper ‘em with questions.” Jesse waived a hand, motioning everyone into the living room. “Sit down, I’ll bring you some coffee.” As they settled in, Cooter sat next to Bonnie. Devon sat in a battered recliner, and noticed the Sheriff watching him uneasily.
“Ah, you must be Sheriff Coltrane,” Devon said pleasantly, walking over to shake Rosco’s hand. “Uh…well…um, yes,” Rosco admitted. Devon smiled at the man’s discomfiture. “Sheriff, you are a fortunate man. The Sheriff of Brockton County, 100 miles south of here, was not so lucky. There have been other recent incidents involving rural law enforcement, and the State Police, that have ended in disaster.”
Rosco sat down, finding Devon’s statement alarming. “You mean…Sheriff Baker…in Brockton County…um…was killed by…the State Patrol?” he asked in disbelief. Devon nodded, and Rosco swallowed. “And the suspect that was shot beyond recognition…was…innocent?” Devon nodded again, and clarified the facts.
“We have no proof of what exactly happened in Brockton County, but the accounts from locals pointed suspicion to the State Police. The suspect in Brockton had a police record, but had no history of vindictive behavior. The scenarios between Brockton and Hazzard are quite similar.” Devon noted the silence in the house, and felt everyone’s eyes on him. “This time, however, the Foundation hopes to prevent Hazzard from having the same outcome as Brockton.” Devon returned to his seat, and accepted the coffee that Jesse handed him. The old man stared at Devon.
“What happened to my boys?” Jesse asked Devon bluntly, and Devon motioned him to sit down. Jesse did so, and Devon put his coffee aside. “Mr. Duke, your two nephews are headstrong individuals. Our truck was being pursued by the State Patrol, and Bo and Luke insisted on leaving with the General Lee to draw them away. They were correct in assuming that they were in as much danger in the truck as out of it. We could not have evaded pursuit for long.” Devon met Jesse’s eyes. “Your nephews are noble young men. The Foundation will do everything in it’s power to rescue them.” Jesse then looked over at Rosco, who flinched under the old man’s stare.
“And what happens if the Sheriff shows up in town, swearing that Bo and Luke are innocent? Then the State Patrol has no case,” Jesse remarked, and his expression changed to fear, making Rosco nervous. “That’s it,” he said slowly. “They’ll keep the boys alive until they have Rosco. When they have all three of ‘em…” Jesse turned away from Rosco, who had reached the same conclusion himself.
“Ooo! Then…then…they can blow away the three of us, still nail Bo and Luke for the crime, and…”
Devon finished the sentence. “And then the bounty hunters will be given a reward, and the State Police will control Hazzard County. Eventually they will force businesses to sell, many of which are owned by Mr. Jefferson Davis Hogg.”
“Then J. D. didn’t have a hand in this one.” Jesse said with some relief. Rosco looked indignant. “Oh, come on, Jesse, Boss would never hurt them boys, and why would he want to bump off his brother-in-law? It ain’t like he’s got any big life insurance policy on me…” Rosco looked thoughtful for a moment, starting to worry. “He wouldn’t… would he?” Rosco finished in a small voice.
Devon laughed at Rosco’s expression. “No, he would not. I spoke to Mr. Hogg personally. He was quite concerned with your welfare, Sheriff. And he was also concerned for Bo and Luke. He seems to have some genuine affection for all of you.”
“Affection ain’t the word I’d use, but you’re right. This whole thing ain’t J.D.’s style.” Jesse said, and Rosco exhaled the breath he’d been holding. Before anyone could speak again, the whine of a turbine engine distracted their attention.
“That’s Kitt!” Devon said, and stood up. The black car blazed into the gravel driveway, halting with a cloud of dust. The driver’s door opened and Michael ran into the house.
“Sheriff Coltrane! You still here?” Michael called, and then stopped with relief when he saw the living room full of people. Daisy was alarmed by the look on Michael’s face.
“Michael, where are they?” she asked as tears threatened to spill again. Michael walked over to her, placing his hands on her shoulders. “I’ll find them, Daisy, I promise. But I had to make sure everyone was here.” He turned to Devon. “I found the General Lee in the middle of a dirt road, not a thing wrong with it. Bo and Luke were gone, as well as the State Police and their henchmen. I’m afraid they captured Bo and Luke by threatening them with a hostage.”
Everyone was silent for a moment, then Cooter jumped up. “Enos! They gotta have Enos!” Daisy put her hands to her mouth as she gasped, and Rosco’s expression made him look ten years older. “That’s why I couldn’t reach him on the CB,” Rosco said worriedly. “They had Enos before I ever got back to Hazzard.”
“The Deputy was used as bait, I imagine,” Devon pondered. “And they’ll probably use him again.” They all looked at Rosco, who began to understand where this was heading.
“They’ll probably make Enos call Rosco on the CB, and lead him to a trap,” Michael said to Devon, who nodded. The calmness of the Foundation members began to upset Jesse. “Well, what are we gonna do about it? How are we gonna get the boys back, and Enos too, without getting them and the Sheriff killed in the process?” Rosco peered at Michael anxiously, hoping he had an answer.
An idea struck Michael, and he pointed a finger at Rosco. “We’ve got bait of our own,” he said with a grim smile.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Bo and Luke were surprised to find themselves hauled back to the old still site by Hazzard Pond. Luke was chained to the door handle of a patrol car, as was Bo, several yards away. They could see each other, but too far apart to talk. Red paced by Luke, occasionally swinging his shotgun at him and saying ‘bang’. Red would laugh as Luke glared at him. Bo could see Red harassing his cousin, but was helpless to do anything about it.
Enos was held inside the old tin shed, flanked by Slammer and Rollins. An hour later, they brought Enos out, and Luke noticed that the Deputy looked frightened. They took him in another patrol car, but didn’t start the engine. Luke was wondering what was going on, but suddenly the CB in the patrol car he was chained to crackled with life.
“This is Deputy Enos Strate, calling Sheriff Coltrane, over,” After a pause, Enos’s shaky voice tried again. “Enos Strate calling Rosco P. Coltrane, you out there, Sheriff ?” Luke looked over to Bo, and could tell by his cousin’s rigid posture that he had heard the same thing.
Slammer grabbed Enos by the arm, squeezing it painfully. “Deputy, you make that Sheriff answer, or I let Red take that Duke boy down.” Slammer pointed at Luke. Enos shut his eyes, hoping Rosco would answer, but at the same time hoped he wouldn’t. “Sheriff, this is Enos, it’s an emergency, come back!”
After a long pause, a tired voice answered Enos. “This is Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, Enos where the heck have you been, you dipstick?” Enos smiled at the combination of insult and nickname, having missed his superior officer’s badgering.
“Sheriff, I’m out by Hazzard Pond…” he hesitated, not wanting to lead Rosco into a trap. At a gesture from Slammer, Red aimed his shotgun at Luke’s head. “I need you to come out here, Rosco, I need backup! I’m under fire!” Red lifted the shotgun barrel high above his target and fired for the effect, laughing as Luke jumped at the blast over his head.
“Hang in there, Enos, I’m gone,” Rosco replied. Enos held the CB mike tightly in his hand. “Sheriff…be careful,” he said, hoping Rosco would read into the warning. Slammer yanked the CB away from Enos, and roughly dragged him out of the car. Luke watched as Enos was led back to the tin shed, then handcuffed and pushed inside. Slammer shut the doors and padlocked them. Turning around, Slammer whistled as he made a circle in the air with one upraised hand. Whooping, the bounty hunters ran to their vehicles and fired them up, taking off to positions mapped out earlier.
Slammer walked up to his patrol car, where Bo was straining against his cuffs. “You ain’t gonna get away with this!” Bo said angrily, and Slammer backhanded him across the face. “Shut up, plowboy. It’ll be over for you soon enough.” Luke watched the exchange of words, not being able to hear them. When Slammer struck Bo, Luke yelled at the top of his lungs. “HEY! LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Slammer turned at the sound of Luke’s voice, and drew out his pistol. He casually aimed it at Bo’s head.
Rollins watched his superior, hoping Slammer wouldn’t pull the trigger yet. He knew that Luke would become an immediate problem if his cousin was shot. Then they’d have to kill him too, and they needed to wait unit they had the Sheriff. No sense taking chances when they were this close. Rollins jogged over to his commander, his approach distracting him. Slammer kept the gun in front of Bo’s face, and made a statement without looking at his officer.
“Rollins, this better be important, I’m in the middle of something.” Bo looked at Rollins, his blue eyes pleading for intervention. Talk to this guy, will ya? Rollins ignored him and spoke to Slammer for his own reasons. “Sorry, Sir. I wished to remind you of your earlier orders. We need the Sheriff before we can proceed any further.” Rollins held his breath as Slammer lowered his gun and crammed it into the holster.
“Yes, I did say that, didn’t I,” Slammer growled. “Then get in your car and block the road. I’ll be right behind you. The minute we have him, these two go down, you understand?” Rollins saluted. “Yes Sir.”
Slammer detached Bo from the door handle, and shoved him into the back seat. Rollins jogged back over to his patrol car, and was surprised to hear Luke speak to him. “Thank you for stopping him,” Luke said sincerely. Rollins said nothing in reply, unhooking Luke silently from the door handle and putting him in the back of the car.
As Rollins drove the patrol car away, Luke watched Slammer cart Bo off in the opposite direction. Cousin, don’t rile that one up anymore, okay? Luke projected the thought at the passing car, and he saw Bo smiling back at him as if to say you got that right.
The CB broke into Luke’s thoughts. “This is Red to all Units, there’s a black car comin’ looks like the one that ran me off Route Seven.” It’s gotta be Kitt, Luke hoped.
“Unit Three to Red. Do not engage. Let him come to us.” Collins pulled his car across the road, blocking it. Slammer went farther down, intending to get behind the black car and trap it.
“He’s comin’ in fast,” Red announced. Rollins got out of his car, bringing his rifle. He leaned across the hood, taking aim on the center of the road. Luke saw shotgun barrels poking out from the brush alongside the road.
The black car flew into view, trailing a cloud of dust behind it. It hit the brakes and came to a sliding stop, only a few feet away from Collins. The windows were dark, and Collins couldn’t see who was in the car.
A voice came from the front of the black vehicle. “We have the Sheriff. For the right price, you can have him.” Slammer’s car pulled up behind the black Trans-Am, and Slammer got out, pistol in hand.
“Come outta there, whoever you are,” Slammer warned. The front of the car spoke again. “If this is how you treat a fellow professional, there won’t be any deal.”
“Who are you?” Slammer asked, curious despite himself. In answer, the driver door hissed open, and a tall man in a black jacket stepped out. With his sunglasses, he almost looked like one of the troopers. “My name is Michael Knight. I’m a professional bounty hunter, skip bond tracer, and international recovery expert.” He flipped a business card in Slammer’s direction. “I got somebody you want. You can have him, for a price.”
Slammer considered the stranger’s bold confidence. “How did you know that we wanted the Sheriff?” he challenged.
Michael took off his sunglasses. “Easy. I saw the job you did in Brockton County. Then when I heard the APB on some yokels in Hazzard, I figured this was your next hit. I tried to grab the Dukes for myself, figuring that the bounty for these two hicks would be twice what you offered in Brockton. When you nabbed them first, I settled for the Sheriff. You can’t pull the job without him.” Michael smiled broadly.
“You’re right about that,” Rollins broke in and admitted. “I was wondering how that blasted Sheriff could’ve disappeared after that wreck by Moose Creek. Is he still alive?”
Slammer waived his officer silent. “The Sheriff can’t be alive after that crash. You’re bluffing. You’ve got nothing.”
Michael pointed into the car, and the passenger door hissed open. Sheriff Coltrane stepped out, looking as if he’d just woke up and found himself in hell. Guns clicked around them, and Michael held up a hand.
“Don’t be stupid. You open fire, and my associates will hunt you down like dogs. What’s more, they’ll blow the whistle on your little enterprise. This car and that black semi are only a sample of what we’ve got for resources.” Michael motioned to Rosco, who dove back into the car as the door slammed shut behind him.
“I want twenty-five thousand in cash for the Sheriff. No cash, no deal, and the Sheriff goes to town and tells everybody the Dukes are innocent.” Michael folded his arms. “What’s it gonna be?”
Slammer hated blackmail, unless he was the one doing it. “What’s my guarantee that you won’t blow the whistle anyway, once you have your money?” he asked Michael through clenched teeth.
“Actually, I’d like to join your little operation. I’ve watched you work over those other two counties, and I think you’ve got a good thing going. Soon you’ll have to branch out to other states, and I know ‘em all like the back of my hand. I’ll help you cherry-pick the sites for your future stings…for a fee, of course.” Michael sneered at the bounty hunters to the sides of him. “And besides, these yahoos are no good to you outside of this state. You’ll need a professional like me.”
Slammer walked up to Michael, putting his gun away. “Red tells me you drive like a demon,” he replied. “I suppose you can fight and shoot just as good.” Michael grinned wickedly. “Try me,” he offered. Slammer held up a hand. “No need. Three of my best men have seen you in action with that car. I’ll take your word on the rest. You’ll get your money tomorrow night.”
Michael nodded. “So we have a deal. Good. Tell me though, how did you manage to set this one up? The Sheriff said he was chasing the Dukes, then the next thing he knew his car was blowing apart.”
Slammer motioned to Rollins to put down his weapon, and gradually the bounty hunters complied as well. A few of them walked over to hear the conversation. Slammer leaned on the black car next to Michael and decided to tell the story.
“It was my top man, Rollins, who set it up,” he said with a note of pride. “He was watching Hazzard for days, finding out who the local troublemakers were. He watched the Dukes and the Sheriff annoy each other a few times, then called the rest of us in.” Slammer nodded at Rollins, who took over the story.
“I watched everything those boys did, and found out they used bows for hunting instead of guns. I snooped around their farm and found some dynamite. When they were all out of the house once, I found a couple bows and some arrows in the closet. The Dukes themselves gave me the idea when I found a stick of dynamite taped to an arrow. That’s the best weapon signature we could have hoped for – who else would use something like that?” Rollins laughed, and Michael did too. “Anyway, I grabbed a bow and some of the other stuff, and then just waited between the Boars Nest and their farm. I’d seen the Sheriff chase them through that route enough. So I staked out on a ridge overlooking the road, and sure thing that orange car was racing through there with the Sheriff behind it. Once the Dukes were around the next turn, I fired a dynamite arrow at the Sheriff’s car. Hit it too soon, though. I fired another one but it only made the car roll over. I thought the car might blow up and take the Sheriff with it, but the orange car came back and those blasted plowboys pulled the Sheriff out. I got in my car and went down there and chased them away, but I couldn’t finish the Sheriff off since they already called for help. Plus the car had exploded already, or I would’ve tried sticking the Sheriff back in it and blown it up myself.”
Rollins paused, glancing back at Luke in the backseat of his car. “Those two led me on the chase of my life. It’s like they spent their whole lives in that orange car. Red and the boys almost had that one down, but his cousin came back for him. Then that Sheriff took off from the hospital, and I don’t mind telling you, we had our hands full between the three of them. We nabbed the Deputy when we heard that the
Sheriff was on the loose, and that was the smartest thing we did. It got us those Dukes, and now you brought us the Sheriff.”
Slammer agreed. “The Deputy was the only thing that these two fools stopped for. They saw him on the side of the road and hit the brakes. We were on ‘em in a heartbeat.”
Michael nodded. “Great strategy. Are you gonna give the Deputy the same thing as the Dukes and the Sheriff ?”
Slammer answered readily. “Yeah. Got it all worked out. We’ll make it look like the Dukes killed the Deputy. Then we’ll shoot them, making it look like the Sheriff did it. It’ll look like during the battle between the Sheriff and the Dukes, the Sheriff nails them but takes an arrow, and dies slowly. He’s buried with honors, having went down in the line of duty. Then I become Sheriff of Hazzard County, and Collins is the new deputy. The town will be ours within the week.”
Michael heard a muffled wail from in side his car, and realized his comlink had carried the conversation to Rosco. Oops.
“Solid plan,” Michael complimented Slammer. “No loose ends. I like that. You’re the caliber of people I’ve been wanting to work with.” Michael extended his hand, and Slammer shook it. “Just be back here tomorrow night with the Sheriff. After our transaction, you can stick around for the fun,” Slammer invited.
“I’ll do that,” Michael said, and as he turned to his car, the door hissed open automatically. He got in and saluted Slammer, who went back to his car to move it. Kitt’s engine fired up, and when the road was clear, Kitt kicked in the turbine to make a dramatic exit. The black car was out of sight in a flash. “Show off,” Michael chided Kitt.
“Are you okay, Sheriff?” Michael asked Rosco, who sat frozen in the passenger seat. “Uh, well…um…yeah, of course I’m okay. You didn’t think I was scared, did ya?” Rosco said with false bravado. Michael smiled. “I know you heard the conversation outside. Kitt had the comlink activated to record everything.” Kitt’s voicebox flashed. “Michael, we now have a good amount of evidence, but how do we rescue Bo and Luke, along with Deputy Strate?”
Michael’s expression hardened. “It won’t be easy. Sheriff, I’ll have to ask you to put yourself at risk tomorrow night. But if my plan works, we’ll get everybody out, and have that gang arrested before daybreak.” Rosco looked at him quizzically. “And if…your plan doesn’t work?”
“If it doesn’t work, you’ll be the first one to know,” Michael answered. Rosco made a choking sound, and Kitt offered some reassurance. “Sheriff Coltrane, you’re the only one who can save them. Michael and I will be right there with you. Of course, one would need to have exceptional bravery to carry out Michael’s plan.”
“I’m not qualified,” Rosco gulped. Michael looked at him sternly. “Sheriff, Bo and Luke risked their lives pulling you out of that burning car. Are you going to tell me that you won’t do the same for them?”
Rosco took a deep breath and let it out explosively. “Alright, I’ll do it!” Then he paused. “Uh, what exactly am I gonna be doin?”
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Bo had heard most of the conversation between Slammer, Rollins, and Michael, as did Luke. Bo felt queasy at Slammer’s elaborate plan to wipe out them out. It could actually work, Bo shuddered. He hoped Michael had a way to get them out of this.
As the black car sped off, the patrol cars returned to the still site, along with those of the bounty hunters. Slammer yanked Bo out of the car, and Rollins did the same to Luke. Slammer motioned his officer to bring Luke to the shed, and after a moment Bo and Luke were thrown inside with Enos, the doors padlocked shut behind them.
“I thought you wanted ‘em separated,” Rollins questioned his superior. Slammer shrugged. “I did. But they’re still handcuffed, and I’ll have Red and Jimmy guarding the outside. We’ll have the Sheriff by tomorrow night, so let ‘em say their good-byes. Besides, we need to go to Hazzard to get the money, and we can’t have anybody spot these two with us.” Slammer waved at Red, and the big man came trotting over with Jimmy in tow.
Inside the shed, Bo and Luke were relieved to find Enos unharmed. They told him about Michael, and about his conversation with Slammer. The deputy’s face gained another shade of white, as Bo told him of the cold murders that Slammer planned for them.
“We can’t just sit here and wait, we gotta get out of here!” Enos exclaimed. Luke shook his head. “We wouldn’t get ten feet from this shed. He’ll have it guarded like Fort Knox. And if Red’s out there, he wouldn’t hold himself back. He’d shoot first and explain to Slammer later.”
“Michael’s gotta have a plan, or he wouldn’t have come here with Rosco,” Bo ventured. “Whatever he’s got in mind, we’ve gotta give ‘em a chance to pull it off.” Enos looked doubtful. “I hope y’all are right about that. I just hate waitin’ around and worryin’ about it.”
“We know that feeling,” Luke sympathized.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Slammer screeched his patrol car into a parking spot by the County Building, and stormed up the stairs. Rollins followed closely behind. At the sight of the two officers bursting into his office, J.D. Hogg let out a bellow of indignation. “What in tarnation do you want now? Can’t you knock? Don’t you see I’m busy here?” Unimpressed, Slammer scowled at him.
“I need you to get me a loan from your bank,” Slammer informed him. “Twenty-five Thousand Dollars in cash.”
“What! You gotta be out of your mind! I don’t have that kind of money just lyin’ around! Takes three days to get a loan approved anyhow!” Slammer leaned over the commissioner’s desk, and grabbed Boss by the collar of his white shirt. “This is for official police business, Hogg. If you don’t cooperate, you’ll be obstructing justice,” he threatened.
“Official police business? You must be givin’ them dirty bounty hunters an advance – well alright, alright, get your hands off me!” Boss backed down, having no options. “Now come over to the bank, and I’ll get it for ya. But you gotta sign me a promissory note!” Boss stood up and grabbed his hat, and the three of them left for the Hazzard Bank.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The next day came too quickly for Bo, Luke and Enos. They were allowed out of the shed periodically for calls of nature, one at a time. None of them were offered any food or water. Uncomfortable as they were in handcuffs, and from wearing the same clothes for three days, none of them looked forward to the evening. They knew Slammer and Rollins would return by nightfall, and join the other three officers that lurked at the makeshift camp. The bounty hunters were half-drunk, and if not for the presence of the officers, would have cut the wait short for the captives.
Bo squirmed on the shed floor, trying to work at the handcuffs. His wrists were chaffed and bleeding from the friction, but he couldn’t pull his hands through. “Dang,” he muttered. Luke watched his cousin struggle, knowing that keeping busy was the best thing for him. “Try breaking your hands, by the base of the thumb, crush that in and you’ll get ‘em off.” he suggested. Bo looked up at his older cousin, startled. “What?!” Luke grinned at him, and Bo pouted. “Cute,” he finally said. “At least I’m tryin’. It’s gonna be dark in a few hours, Luke. Don’t you think we should at least make a run for it? Michael’s plan, whatever it is, might not work!”
Luke sighed, having thought the same thing himself. “I’ve thought about nothin’ else since we woke up. Listen Bo, we wouldn’t get far enough, fast enough. The General isn’t here. If we run for another car, we gotta hope the keys are in it, and that we don’t get shot first. Our best chance is to wait for Michael.” Enos listened intently, seeing points on both sides of the issue. “Luke, is Michael’s car really as fast as the General?” Enos asked to change the subject. On the topic of cars, Bo stood up, and he and Luke told Enos about their chase with Kitt, pouring over details that only car lovers can recall.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The sun was setting as Slammer left Hazzard with a canvas bag full of money. Rollins remained at the police station for a moment, gathering the paperwork they would need shortly. Police reports and witness reports were already completed, since the outcome had been planned in advance. Boss watched Collins through the slightly-open door of his office. Collins grabbed a folder and his keys, and hustled out the double doors of the Sheriff’s station. Boss saw a page drift out of the folder, unnoticed by Rollins.
Boss crept out of this office and picked up the page, finding it to be a carbon copy of a police report. “Hmm. Suspects shot and killed by Hazzard County Sheriff, Rosco P. Coltrane, who was mortally wounded at the scene. Body of Hazzard County Deputy Enos Strate found at scene, apparently killed earlier by the suspects. Bodies of suspects identified as Beaureguard and Lukas Duke…Good Lord!” Boss yelled as the words sank in. Clutching the page in his fist, he ran for the door.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Night came to Hazzard Pond, and cracks in the seams of the tin shed revealed light from a campfire outside. The sound of crackling CB radios echoed through the night, as final orders were reviewed. The bounty hunters had become professionally-minded as Slammer returned to camp, anticipating the conclusion of their job, and their pay. As Red spotted the canvas bag that Slammer held up, he let out a whoop of delight, which was echoed by the scruffy band of men. The State Police officers held a conference among themselves, which Luke watched through a crack in the shed door. Rollins presented a folder to Slammer, who glanced at it then returned it with a nod. Slammer pointed to the shed and gave some commands that Luke couldn’t quite hear. Moments later, patrol cars were fired up, and only Slammer and Rollins remained, giving orders to Red and Jimmy to pass to their men.
Too soon for the occupants of the shed, Rollins rattled the lock while Slammer and Red drew their weapons. Bo felt an instant of panic. “Luke!” He hissed in a sharp whisper. “I don’t see Michael anywhere, looks like they ain’t gonna wait for ‘em!” Before his cousin could reply, the doors were whipped open with a bang, and Rollins drew his weapon.
“Out,” he ordered curtly. Enos started to speak, but Rollins shushed him. “No talking. Now move.” They were led to the center of the camp, near the fire. Luke watched Slammer take a pistol out of a plastic bag, and Enos gave a sound of dismay as he recognized his police weapon. Luke realized that Slammer was wearing gloves to avoid getting his own fingerprints on the gun. Slammer removed a second gun from the bag, and Bo gasped at the sight of the black pistol with pearl handgrips. “Rosco’s gun,” Bo whispered aloud. Slammer sat the guns on the hood of his patrol car, and then opened the trunk, retrieving Luke’s hunting bow and a few sharp-tipped arrows. Bo saw Luke’s expression of shock, and watched it gradually change to one of fear.
Bo’s heart was pounding so loud in his ears that he almost didn’t hear the sound of a turbine engine cutting down speed. Slammer didn’t turn as the black car came out of the woods, flanked by patrol cars. Kitt rolled to a gentle stop inches away from Slammer’s vehicle. The patrol cars parked to the side and rear of the black car, effectively blocking it in.
The driver’s door hissed open, and Michael stepped out, taking in the surroundings with a fast glance. Slammer reached in his car and grabbed the canvas bag of money, tossing it one-handed to Michael. Calm and professional, Michael stacked the bundles of currency on Kitt’s hood. Satisfied with the amount, he stuffed it back in the bag, and tossed it in the trunk.
Luke noticed that Red stared at Michael intently, as if he recognized him but couldn’t place from where. Slammer looked at Michael expectantly, who nodded and gestured at the passenger door. It opened, and Michael walked over to pull out the Sheriff.
Rosco stepped out of the car hesitantly, and at the sight of Slammer’s entourage, felt weak in the knees. Michael pushed him forward, and Slammer smiled with malice. “So here’s the infamous Hazzard County Sheriff, Rosco P. Coltrane. Glad you could join us, Sheriff. We’ve arranged a little event in your honor.” Slammer’s voice dripped with sarcasm, and he waived Rosco over to Bo, Luke and Enos with the end of his gun.
Michael engaged Slammer in conversation, and Rosco fidgeted nervously under the cold stare of Rollins and Red. Enos was happy to see his commanding officer, and couldn’t resist calling out to him. “Hi Sheriff,” he said cheerfully. Rosco saluted him briskly, as he wore no handcuffs. The gesture caught Enos by surprise, having never received a salute in his life. Bo and Luke tensed at the gesture, reading some meaning into it. Rosco placed himself alongside Bo, slightly behind him. Since Rosco seemed too docile to cause trouble, Collins walked over to Slammer to join the conversation. Red guarded the four by himself, but couldn’t resist watching Michael over his shoulder. The rest of the bounty hunters were closer to Slammer, interested in the sleek black car, and in evaluating Michael as a potential member of their gang.
Rosco slipped an object from his sleeve, and pressed it into Bo’s palm. With his hands behind him, Bo could only guess at the object. Key! It’s a key to the handcuffs! He realized excitedly. He fumbled with it carefully, appreciating for once all the practice he had at this over the years. The lock sprang open, and Bo forced himself to remain still. Luke had caught on to what Bo was doing, and moved closer to him, as Bo leaned over and pressed the key into Luke’s hand. Luke sprang the lock quickly, and froze as Red turned to him at the sound of the tiny click. Tense silence passed between them, and Luke feared that Red was about to walk behind them. Then the sound of Michael laughing distracted Red, and he concentrated on the activity surrounding Slammer once again.
Luke let out his breath slowly in relief, and elbowed Enos. He passed the key to him, but unfortunately Enos did not have the practice of the two cousins. After several futile efforts, the key slipped from his fingers and fell silently into the grass. He looked at Luke with an expression of apology.
Slammer’s voice boomed through the cool night air. “Alright! Let’s get this done. Michael, take the Deputy over there,” he pointed to the north edge of the camp. “Rollins, you know what to do.” Rollins grabbed Luke’s hunting bow and expertly notched an arrow with gloved hands. Michael walked over to Enos, grabbing him by the arm. Enos was beginning to question who’s side Michael was really on.
“Psst!” Michael whispered. “I’m a friend. Did you get those cuffs off?” Enos mumbled a negative. “Okay, just listen for my signal. Then run in the woods for cover, got it?” Enos nodded imperceptibly.
Michael stood the Deputy at the spot Slammer had indicated. Michael walked back to Rollins, who by this time had walked about half the distance from Slammer to Enos, wanting to be sure of his aim.
Rosco felt Bo tense next to him, ready to jump. “Don’t, Bo. Not yet,” Rosco said under his breath. “Listen for the signal.” Bo elbowed Luke and relayed the message. Red didn’t hear them, being more interested in Rollins and his marksmanship. Rollins drew back the compound bow, the pulley creaking. As he checked his aim, a piercing siren spilt the air, seeming to come from all directions. “NOW!” Rosco yelled, and Luke attacked Red with ferocity. Michael had knocked Rollins over, sending the arrow harmlessly to the sky as Enos ran to the woods for all he was worth. Bo tackled Slammer, and was immediately outmatched. Slammer had dealt with desperate criminals long before Bo was born, and he hooked Bo in the jaw with the butt of his pistol. Slammer aimed his gun to make an end of the blonde Duke, then suddenly flinched at the feel of a gun on his back.
“Freeze,” Rosco said with a tone of voice he hadn’t used in twenty years. “Drop the gun.” Slammer obeyed, figuring that one of his officers would take care of this problem for him. Slammer looked around and was surprised to see no reinforcements available; they were scattered throughout the encampment in various battles of their own. Jimmy was out cold, as were Rollins and Red. The dark-haired Duke was fighting next to Michael, and a large police officer Slammer didn’t recognize was mauling several of the bounty hunters, who were also under siege by a mechanic from Hazzard. The black car fired to life on it’s own and plowed in reverse, banging the patrol cars out of it’s way. It drove straight into Slammer’s remaining officers, who fired at it in vain. The bullets bounced off the car without causing damage, and the black car roared it’s engine menacingly. The officers ran into the woods and didn’t come out, the black car keeping them at bay. A car horn blasted a melody of Dixie, and the orange race car that Slammer had come to hate barreled into view, headlights blazing. Slammer saw the Deputy run for the car and make it, jumping in the passenger window head first.
With no thought other than saving his own hide, Slammer spun around and caught Rosco with an uppercut to the jaw. Slammer picked up his pistol and clenched his teeth, intending to demonstrate his rage by putting a bullet in the Sheriff. Rosco was trying to shake off the blow, knowing he was in trouble but unable to react in time. He saw Slammer raise the pistol, then suddenly fall to the ground, as Bo had kicked him in the back of the knee. Bo grappled with the state trooper, not having the officer’s strength but making up for it with pure recklessness. Rosco fired two shots into the air, but Slammer held on like a pit bull, having wrapped his hands around Bo’s throat. Rosco whacked Slammer in the back of the head with his pistol, and the officer slumped unconscious. Bo got to his feet shakily, rubbing his neck. He heard the sounds of yelling in the woods, and gunshots. “Luke? Rosco, have you seen Luke?” Bo asked, and Rosco pointed to the sounds of gunfire down by the pond. “Michael was with him, and they were headed that way,” he answered.
Near the pond, Michael yelled at his comlink. “Kitt! I need you!” Luke dove to the ground as bullets zinged over his head. He and Michael were pinned down between Hazzard Pond and the ridge, where they had chased a bounty hunter. They had ran into a trap, becoming fired upon the minute they set foot near the pond. A bullet smacked into the tree in front of them, spewing fragments of bark. “Kitt!” Michael yelled again. Luke heard the whine of the turbine engine and pointed to the ridge. The black car came at them with the red scanner light swinging back and forth rapidly. Kitt maneuvered around the large trees, mowing down the saplings and brush in it’s path. Bullets bounced off the black car as it slung broadside in front of them, the passenger door opening. Michael jumped in and leapt across to the driver’s seat. Luke no more than jumped in and the car took off, shutting the door by itself. “Hang on!” Michael warned, and Kitt used the turbo boost to rocket up the ridge, arcing in a graceful curve to land solidly in the clearing.
Bo and Rosco had seen the black car take off on it’s own accord, and they heard it crashing through the woods down by the pond. Gunfire rang incessantly, and Bo was wondering if Kitt had been able to make it. Then the sound of a turbine at full power drowned out the gunfire, and the black car shot up into the air like a matchbox racer from a ramp. Bo watched the landing with admiration, the black car coming down on the front two wheels a second before the rear landed, balancing itself in a fluid motion.
Sirens echoed off the hills, and Bo hoped the State Police didn’t have more reinforcements coming. The sight of several squads coming into the edge of the camp made his heart sink. Michael got out of the black car and waved at the patrol cars, motioning them in. “It’s okay!” Michael yelled to Bo. “These guys are on our side!” Luke jumped out of the black car when he spotted Bo, and ran over to his cousin who grabbed him in a bear hug.
Two of the new State Police began asking Rosco questions as a third cuffed Slammer and dragged him to a patrol car. Rollins and Red were rounded up by other officers, and Cooter brought several bounty hunters in front of him by holding a shotgun. He was assisted by a large black man in a Chickasaw County Sheriff’s uniform.
“Sheriff Little, from Chickasaw County?” Bo asked, incredulous. Sheriff Little herded the ruffians to the State Police, then came back to them. Rosco turned from his conversation as well, startled by the sight of the officer. Little stood in front of all of them, the large black man wearing his mirrored sunglasses and his permanent frown. “Let’s get one thing straight. I got no use for any of you. I only came here to make sure Hazzard’s problem didn’t become Chickasaw’s problem. You got that?”
Bo and Luke smiled. “Yes Sir!” They said in unison. Little looked at Sheriff Coltrane, who occasionally gave him as many headaches as the Dukes. “Coltrane,” he snarled, “If I ever catch you in Chickasaw County, I’ll skin you alive.” Rosco jumped back. “But you did a good job here. Sheriff Baker had been a friend of mine, and I’m glad you gave me a chance to nail these bastards.”
Sheriff Little saluted Rosco and marched off to round up the remaining stragglers. Rosco stared after him, dumbfounded. Bo and Luke slapped him on the back, laughing.
A portly man in an all-white suit pulled up in an equally white Cadillac, and he bustled over as fast is his stout legs could carry him. “Rosco! There you are! Thank goodness!” Bo and Luke stepped back to give Boss room to fuss. “Rosco, do you know what it’s been like for me, living with your fat sister while her baby brother is wounded and missing? Do you know what agony that woman put me through? And those blasted cops hanging around my office night and day?”
“Uh, no Boss, but..but…”
“And another thing! More Hazzard County patrol cars destroyed! You know you’ve had six cars ruined already this year! Do you think I’m made of money?”
“Well, I can explain that, you see…um…I was chasing the Dukes, and then my car blew up…”
“Bah! Never mind, never mind! I’m glad you’re back, Rosco. You and Enos both.”
“You are?” Rosco asked with delight. “Yeah,” Boss admitted, lighting a cigar. “But don’t go flappin’ your mouth about it. C’mon, Rosco. Find your dipstick of a deputy and fill out some reports. The State’s gonna reimburse our damages.”
“Damages! I got plenty of those, khee khee khee!”
“You sure do. Now git, I’ll be along in a minute.” Boss watched Rosco return to the officers who were interviewing him, then turned his attention to Bo and Luke.
Boss noticed that the two cousins looked as tired and dirty as he had ever seen them. Despite that, they were grinning at him ear to ear, like a pair of Cheshire cats. “You two look like ya been dragged under a tractor through a gravel pit,” Boss remarked.
“It’s good to see you too, Boss,” Bo said happily. Boss looked around to make sure no one was listening. “You boys have cost me most of my hair over the years,” he told them. “But when I found out what these hoodlums were planning, I almost lost the rest of it. You Dukes have been a pain in my rear for so long, I’d miss it if it stopped.” Bo and Luke laughed and patted Boss on the back, who was chuckling good-naturedly. “Alright boys, stop by the courthouse later and fill out the witness reports, will ya? We need to make sure these polecats stay behind bars.”
“You got it, Boss,” Luke promised. “Bye now,” Boss waived as he walked over to Rosco, who had been joined by Enos and Michael.
A Dixie horn blared, the familiar sound pulling Bo and Luke towards it’s source. They ran to the General Lee, and Daisy leapt from the car and rushed towards them. Luke lifted Daisy and whirled her around, then tossed her to Bo who did the same, the three of them reunited for the first time in days. Laughing carelessly, they didn’t notice the old man in the worn overalls until he was in their midst.
“Uncle Jesse!” Bo shouted, and Luke echoed him a moment later. Jesse held his boys in silence, not trusting himself to speak as tears of relief threatened to spill over. He pulled away and wiped his face with his sleeve, while the two young men pretended not to see it. Getting a good look at his boys at last, he made a mock scowl. “You boys need a bath, clean clothes, a shave, and a weeks’ worth of groceries,” he commented, and Daisy nodded agreement. Jesse laughed and slapped them on the back, and Cooter joined them as they headed to the General Lee.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The black semi was parked in front of the Hazzard County Sheriff’s Department, blocking most of the parking spaces. Nobody seemed to mind. Devon and Bonnie finished their report to the State Police, and the last of the rouge officers had been hauled away, as well as a dozen bounty hunters. Rosco was relieved to watch them go, as was Enos.
“Congratulations, Sheriff Coltrane,” Devon said. “You managed to capture the most dangerous men in this state. Kitt tells me that you acted with uncommon bravery.”
“Yeah, uncommon for him,” Boss snickered, and Rosco didn’t contest the opinion. “That Slammer character gave me a quiver in my liver,” he confessed, and Bonnie squeezed his arm reassuringly.
“You did great, Sheriff. Bo says you saved him from Slammer,” Bonnie said. Rosco blushed, unaccustomed to compliments. The sound of a turbine engine screamed through the windows, followed by a familiar Charger roar. The melody of Dixie sang from a car horn, and screeching tires announced the arrival of Michael and the Duke family.
Enos was already running out the door to greet them, and Rosco followed, soon joined by Devon, Bonnie, and Boss. Cooter saw the commotion and ran over from his garage. “Hey, Miss Barstow!” he called from across the road, and Bonnie sighed. Devon tried to contain his smirk of amusement, but failed.
Uncle Jesse complained loudly as Bo helped him out of the General. “One of these days, unweld one of these dang doors before I need a can opener to get out!” Luke ran over to assist his cousin, setting their sputtering uncle gently to his feet. Daisy slid out from the backseat gracefully, and Michael lifted her out of the car. Instead of putting her down, he held her for a moment.
Daisy brushed a long lock of hair from her eyes, and smiled sweetly. “Michael,” she said quietly for only him to hear, “Thank you for helping us…and for helping me. I don’t know what we would have done without you…I wish you could stay in Hazzard awhile,” she said with pleading eyes. She tilted her chin slightly, and Michael kissed her gently on the lips. Daisy pulled back after a long moment, aware of her family’s presence, and having been brought up a lady. Michael smiled and lost himself in her eyes. “You better put me down before my Uncle Jesse sends wedding invitations,” she said jokingly, and Michael swung her around once before doing so, causing her to giggle.
The group gathered around the steps to the county building, enjoying the camaraderie that comes from shared adventure. Daisy steered Bonnie aside and asked her about Michael, while Cooter took Devon aside to ask about Bonnie. Bo and Luke told Michael, Rosco and Enos of their chases and narrow escapes over the past few days, while Jesse and Boss listened. Everyone then gathered around Kitt as Bo and Luke told of their first meeting with the black car, and Kitt’s scanner light glowed brightly with the attention.
“Hazzard County has provided me with the most challenging pursuits of my career,” Kitt told the group as he received pats on the hood. Everyone talked amiably for another hour, then Devon began saying goodbye to Boss and Jesse, both of whom thanked him heartily for the Foundation’s help. They all began to bid farewell to Michael, Bonnie and Devon, after they had promised to visit Hazzard once in awhile. Daisy’s eyes were moist as she kissed Michael goodbye, and he smiled at her warmly. Bonnie consented to a hug from Cooter, and kissed him demurely on the cheek, liking the mechanic a little more than she would admit.
Bo and Luke shook Michael’s hand, their eyes saying more than words could express. “Hey, if we can ever return the favor, let us know,” Luke offered, and Bo put his arm around his cousin’s shoulder. “You know Luke, It’d be fun to visit Michael in California. Maybe we could sneak up on Kitt’s bumper and give them a taste of their own medicine.” Michael laughed. “Anytime, guys, anytime.”
Bo and Luke climbed up on the General’s doors, sitting in the windows with their arms resting on the roof. Michael etched the picture in his mind, noting that he had found them the same way across Moose Creek. Luke felt sad at the departure of their new friends, and decided that it was time to get things back to normal.
“Hey Rosco!” Luke taunted. “You can give us that ticket now…if you can catch us.” They slid into the General and fired it up, laughing. Rosco churned his brain, having no patrol car, and knowing that Enos’s was still drying out in Cooter’s garage. He looked at Boss, pointing to the Cadillac, and Boss shook his head. Rosco ran up to Michael.
“’Scuze me, Michael, but would you let me borrow Kitt for a little while?” Rosco asked. Kitt answered him directly, opening the driver’s door. “Hop in, Sheriff Coltrane.” Kitt invited. Bo and Luke watched with stunned expressions, realizing the chase would be more than they asked for. “Step on it, Bo!” The General roared down Hazzard Square, squealing tires.
“Hot Pursuit!” Rosco said gleefully. “I love it, I love it!” Kitt surged forward the minute Rosco was seated, the sudden acceleration catching him off guard. “Whoa!” Rosco yelled, fumbling for the seat belt.
“Ready to practice those high-speed maneuvers, Sheriff ?” Kitt asked, his voice box flashing rapidly. “Yeah Kitt, let’s get ‘em!” Rosco shouted, finding himself in the middle of a dream come true. Kitt’s sensors suddenly detected the orange car behind them, and the black car spun around as the General Lee did the same, white smoke pouring from the tires. Michael, Devon and Bonnie applauded the driving exhibition, as did Jesse, Boss, Cooter and Enos.
As the orange car sped away with the black one closely behind it, a yell drifted back to the spectators.
“A Knight in Hazzard,” written by Bonita Breit-Cmiel, June 11, 1999. All characters in this story except for Slammer, Rollins, Jimmy and Red belong to Warner Bros. and Glen Larson Productions, respectively. This fanfic novel has been created for fun and is not for profit. This story is dedicated to my husband, Rich, being part Duke and Knight in many ways. Also a special thank you to all Dukes of Hazzard fanfic authors, who’s friendship and inspiration gave me the encouragement to write. Y’all know who ya are, Rebel Yank, Lisa Coltrane (khee!) Crazy C, Heather and Cousin Aurora. P.S. e-mail me if ya want a sequel!