by: Cuz Bonita
The crowd at the Boar’s Nest was starting to thin out, as Rosco sat alone at the bar. “Can I get you somethin’ else, Sheriff?” Daisy said with a smile, making her rounds for last call.
“No thanks, Daisy. I got to be goin’ anyhow.” Rosco left a crumpled dollar for a tip, and left without another word.
“What’s with him?” Bo asked his dark-haired cousin. The two Dukes sat at a table, waiting for Daisy to finish her shift.
Luke emptied his glass before answering. “Dunno,” he said, wiping his mouth. “Cooter says he’s been mopin’ around like a lost dog since Boss and Lulu went to Atlanta for Christmas. Guess they even took Mama with ’em.” Luke grinned and added, “You’d think Rosco’d be grateful for the peace and quiet.”
Bo was in mid-swallow, and nearly spat his beer. “Mphf!” Bo responded, managing to keep from choking as he laughed and swallowed.
Luke chuckled, letting Bo come up for air before he went on. “What d’ya say we cheer him up. We’ll go give him somethin’ to chase and come back later for Daisy.”
Bo clunked his glass on the table, mischief shining brightly in his blue eyes. “I like the way you think, cousin! I get to drive –“ Bo was already out of his chair, sprinting for the door. Luke shook his head and followed, pausing to tell Daisy their idea.
It wasn’t long before the General Lee caught up with the white patrol car. Rosco looked in his mirrors to see the General’s nose inches off his bumper. “Them dang Dukes…” Rosco muttered tiredly, and ignored them. The air was split with the blare of a Dixie horn, and Bo maneuvered the General to pass, pulling ahead of the Sheriff’s car. Bo immediately dropped speed, doing ten under the limit. “Now what…” Rosco said to himself, irritated. His CB suddenly crackled to life, and the voice of Luke Duke blared a message. “Hey Rosco! Don’t you know tailgating is illegal?” In reply, Rosco shook his fist out the window.
“Yep…he knows,” Bo said with a laugh, seeing the familiar gesture from his mirror. “YEEHAAA!” The General Lee’s taillights became red dots in the distance as Bo floored it, inviting chase.
Rosco sighed and sped up just enough to do the speed limit, ignoring the bait. The patrol car rolled sedately towards Hazzard, it’s squad lights and siren off.
Bo pulled the General Lee over to the side. “Did he crash already?” he asked Luke in concern.
“I don’t think so,” Luke answered. “Look, here he comes.”
They sat in the General and waited, expecting Rosco to pull in behind them with a ready ticket. Instead, the patrol car drove right by them.
Bo and Luke looked at each other in shock. “Possum on a gumbush!“ Bo said in surprise.
“Judas priest on a pony!” Luke echoed. “Hmmm. I guess he’s really got somethin’ on his mind. Come on, let’s go back to get Daisy. We’ll try to rile ol’ Rosco again tomorrow.” Bo answered by spinning the General around, kicking up dirt as he pointed the car back to the Boar’s Nest.
*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
“Howdy Sheriff!” Enos called out cheerfully as his commanding officer entered the booking room. “Uncle Jesse just called me on the CB radio and said we’re both invited over for Christmas dinner tomorrow night, ain’t that nice of him?”
“He’s not your Uncle Jesse,” Rosco answered without thinking, and tossed his black hat carelessly on the desk. “You go ahead and go tomorrow night, I’ll keep an eye on town.”
Enos looked disappointed, and he voiced a protest. “But Sheriff, you an’ me have been goin’ to the Dukes and to Mr. Hogg’s for the holidays for years, and the town’s never disappeared while we’re gone!”
“Hush,” Rosco said quietly. “Just hush. Now git outta here, I got work to do.”
“Yes sir,” Enos said in defeat, casting a worried glance in the Sheriff’s direction as he headed out.
With Enos gone, the loud silence of the Sheriff’s station compounded Rosco’s loneliness. He strode over to the front window, and peeked through the blinds. The town square was decorated for Christmas, with wreaths adorning the storefronts, and Christmas lights strung across anything that either had roots or was nailed down. “Horrendous electric bill,” he commented to no one. He turned away, finding the cheerful sights depressing. His eyes happened to rest on the empty holding cell upstairs, next to the booking desk. “Some Sheriff I am. No tickets, nobody in jail. Boss is gonna have a fit when he gets back in town. But I just don’t feel like bustin’ anybody, not even them Dukes. What’s the use, anyway.” Rosco walked to the booking desk, and sat down in the chair with a sigh.
*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
“You gotta be kiddin’ me, Enos!” Bo said between bites of stew. “Rosco’s not comin’ over for dinner tomorrow? He never passes up Uncle Jesse’s cookin’ !”
Enos nodded, holding his deputy’s hat awkwardly in his hands. “The Sheriff’s depressed somethin’ awful, Bo. I don’t’ rightly know what to do for him.”
At the head of the table, Uncle Jesse sipped coffee thoughtfully. “Maybe he’s just gotta come out of this on his own. You can’t force a person to be cheerful – ‘specially when he don’t want nobody ‘round.”
“That’s for dang sure. Heck, if he’d pass up givin’ me an’ Bo a ticket, ain’t nothin’ gonna cheer him up,” Luke added from his side of the table.
“It’s worse then that, Luke. The Sheriff ain’t givin’ tickets to nobody,” Enos said sadly. “Even when folks deserve to get ‘em.” All movement at the dinner table stopped as the words sunk in.
“Nobody?” Daisy said in surprise. “I can’t believe it! Uncle Jesse, there’s got to be something we can do to cheer Rosco up,” she pleaded.
As Uncle Jesse was thinking of an answer, Bo and Luke shared a silent look between themselves. Bo’s soft chuckle gave it away. “Wait a minute,” Uncle Jesse said suspiciously. “You two ain’t gonna do nuthin’ foolish now…”
Luke took a quick drink of coffee to hide his grin. “Um-umm,” he answered.
*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
“You sure about this?” Bo whispered harshly. “Maudine don’t like Rosco any more than he likes her.” As if in agreement, Maudine tried to pull away from the halter rope that Bo held her by.
“We’re just gonna give Rosco company, with Maudine and her barnyard friends,” Luke whispered back. “Shhh! Here he comes!”
On cue, Rosco came out of the courthouse and went to his patrol car, heading out for his evening rounds. As the squad car left, Bo led a reluctant Maudine up the steps.
Oblivious to the scheme, Rosco patrolled the county half-heartedly. He ignored two cars that were drag racing on Route 7, hardly noticing when they slammed the brakes and took off at his approach. After an hour, he returned to town and parked as usual, trudging up the courthouse steps with a yawn. He swung open the doors to the Sheriff’s department, and stopped in his tracks. Two goats were munching away on ticket books, and chickens roamed the floor. A braying sound startled him, and he turned to see Maudine glaring at him from behind the booking desk, a Deputy’s hat tied to her head.
“HEY ROSCO! HOW DO YA LIKE YOUR NEW DEPUTY?” Bo shouted, bolting across the room. He ran past Rosco, scattering chickens in his wake. “Ha haw!” Bo laughed, tearing out the door.
Rosco didn’t have time to blink before the phone rang. He walked towards the booking desk phone as close as he dared, wary of the mule. Maudine flattened her ears, blowing a warning through her nostrils. “Uh…nice mule, be nice…” Rosco slid a hand over the tesk and picked the receiver up slowly, managing to answer the incessant ring. “Hazzard County Sheriff’s Department, Rosco P. Coltrane speakin’…”
“Rosco, I’m so glad you’re there! I want to report a missing mule. Call me if you’ve seen Maudine anywhere, okay? HA HA HA!”
“LUKE DUKE!! SO HELP ME, I’M GONNA…” Rosco had no chance to finish, since a goat had just discovered how good the phone cord tasted. “DANG IT! STOP THAT! THAT’S COUNTY PROPERTY – OW!!!”
Luke ran up to Bo, who was watching Rosco’s struggles through the window. “How’s he takin’ it?”
“See for yourself!” Bo laughed, pointing at the goat that had found Rosco’s tie tastier than the telephone. At that moment, Rosco yanked his tie free, turning to see two familiar faces in the window.
“Uh oh…” Bo and Luke scrambled for the General, both aiming for the driver’s side. “Bo, move over! It’s my turn – uh, on second thought, you drive!” Luke yelled and climbed over the hood, Rosco bolting from the front doors.
The General screeched away with smoking tires, sounding it’s battle cry of Dixie. Rosco got in his patrol car and fired it up, leaping into chase. Luke looked over his shoulder at the flash of red and blue lights behind them. “Success!”
“Yeah,” Bo grinned. “How much runnin’ should we do?”
“Let’s make it look good. Besides, we don’t want Rosco to catch us too soon, he’s pretty dang mad right now.” Luke watched the squad lights come up on the rear bumper and hang there.
Rosco followed them for a couple of miles, then turned off the siren. “It don’t make no difference…I’d just scuff my patrol car anyway.” He hit the brakes and turned around, turning off the lights as he headed back to Hazzard.
Bo stopped the General Lee, and watched Rosco’s retreat from the mirror. “Dang it, Luke…we’re gonna have to try somethin’ else tomorrow.”
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
“Sure, I can do it, Lukas,” Cooter said, wiping his hands on a shop rag. “But are you sure ya’ll wanna go through with this? It’s liable to get ya busted.”
Luke nodded, a broad smile on his face. “I’m sure. You just go take care of those doors.”
Cooter shrugged, flipping a screwdriver up from the tool chest. “It’s yer funeral…but this I gotta see!” With a whoop, Cooter slapped Bo and Luke on the back and hustled out of the garage.
Bo turned to his cousin. “Tonight’s Christmas Eve…you sure you wanna spend it in jail?”
“I don’t wanna spend it in jail, but I don’t want Rosco to get fired, either. You know if he don’t snap out of this soon, Boss is gonna have no choice but to get another Sheriff.” Luke said seriously.
“I know,” Bo sighed. “I just wish we didn’t have to miss Uncle Jessie’s Christmas dinner.” Luke slung an arm around Bo’s shoulder, grinning. “I’m sure Daisy will bring us some leftovers. Come on.”
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Roscoe straightened the booking desk, which was still in disorder from Maurine’s visit. He had everything cleaned up from the night before, expect for some stray paperwork that the goats had half-eaten. With the booking desk cleaned off, Rosco sat down and began to reorganize what was left of WANTED posters and old police reports.
“Howdy Sheriff,” Enos said quietly as he came through the doors. “Uncle Jesse says he’s sorry about the prank the boys pulled on you last night, and said you’re still welcome for dinner – “
“Never mind, Enos. Can’t you see I’m too busy for piddlin’ stuff like Christmas dinner?” Rosco didn’t raise his eyes off the desk.
Enos fidgeted a moment, then walked over to the radio that sat on the desk. “Okay, Sheriff….but would you mind if I put on some Christmas music, while I finish my reports?”
Rosco looked at his Deputy for the first time that night, and would have said ‘no’ except for his Deputy’s expression. “Oh, awright. But turn it off when you leave.”
“Yessir,” Enos answered, turning the radio on and finding holiday music. The strains of “Silent Night” filled the booking station with a rich melody, and between that and his concentration, Rosco didn’t notice the large shilloute that passed by the double doors.
A few minutes later, Enos finished his work and turned off the radio. “Goodnight, Sheriff…Merry Christmas,” Enos said, offering his hand.
Rosco looked up briefly and shook Enos’s hand. “Merry Christmas,” he echoed without sentiment, returning his attention to his work. Enos sighed and left, glad he had Daisy’s company to look forward to after being with his cheerless commander.
Silence. Absolute and total silence echoed around the room, absorbing Rosco’s depression and adding back to it. Rosco leaned back, stretched and yawned. It was going to be a long, lonely night. He rubbed his eyes, thinking that maybe he should have went for dinner after all.
A sudden ear-splitting roar made him jump, a deep growl rumbling through the courthouse like an earthquake. Rosco knocked the chair over as he bolted up, pistol in hand.
“Good grief, what’s that?” he asked nervously as he crept towards the double doors to the hallway, where the noise reverberated through the glass. Rosco nudged a door open with the nose of his pistol, peeking through the crack. The noise was thrumming steadily, mechanically. “Like a motor,” Rosco said to himself, unable to see anything. As he ventured out into the hall, the noise increased in volume and turned into a screeching, smoking apparition that hurled towards him in a burst of orange.
“YAAAA!!” Rosco dove head-first back through the doors, getting out of the path of the General Lee as it howled up the hall, Dixie horn blaring as it shot by him. Rosco got to his feet and followed it, coughing on the smoke and exhaust fumes that filled the air. Long black skidmarks covered the length of the hallway, leading down the courthouse steps. Rosco saw the taillights of the General Lee bounce down the concrete steps, the CB antenna waving crazily. “I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS!” Rosco yelled as he bolted for his patrol car. He was on the road seconds later, giving furious chase.
Luke saw nothing but the grill of the squad behind them. “Bo, you’d better step on it cousin, this worked a little better than I thought!”
“I can’t! The General must have busted somethin’ on those stairs, ‘cause I can’t get in the next gear!” Bo pushed the gearshift and got a grinding noise. “See?”
“Dang…” Luke swallowed as Rosco shot ahead of them, and turned his patrol car to block the road. Bo had no choice but to hit the brakes. “What’ll we do now, Luke?”
Luke sighed and started to slide out of the car. “Surrender. What else?”
“AWRIGHT! FREEEZE! I GOT YA!” Rosco came forward with his weapon drawn, the first smile in a week breaking across his face. Bo and Luke got out of the General and put their hands up.
“Take it easy, before that thing goes off, “ Luke told Rosco, who had the pistol pointed in their direction.
“I gotcha,” Rosco said jubilantly. “I gotcha! Put these on, and no funny stuff!” He tossed a pair of handcuffs to the Dukes, who cuffed themselves obligingly. Rosco led them to the patrol car. “Khee khee khee! Just when you thought you could get away with it all, huh? Get in there!“ Rosco waved his gun towards the backseat of the patrol car.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
“Reckless driving, endangering a public official, namely me, defacing county property –“ Rosco scribbled away at a police report, looking over occasionally at the prisoners in the holding cell. “Attempted homicide with a motor vehicle -“
“Aw, come on Rosco, we didn’t hurt nobody,” Bo protested.
“HUSH!” Rosco barked at the holding cell. “Where was I….oh yeah, khee khee! Breakin’ and enterin’….”
“We didn’t break in, the doors were unlocked, we just had ‘em taken off the hinges,” Luke objected.
“I said HUSH!”
“We’ll replace that tile in the hallway,” Bo offered, “If you’ll let us out.”
“Yeah, c’mon, it’s Christmas,” Luke added.
“I don’t care if it’s New Year’s Eve, you boys are gonna rot in there until Easter!” Rosco giggled at their expressions. “I love it, I love it,” he said happily, enjoying the sight of Dukes in jail.
Bo leaned on the bars and gave up. “Looks like we’re gonna miss Uncle Jessie’s Christmas beef, with homemade gravy and mashed potatoes,” he said dejectedly.
“And we’ll miss Daisy’s homemade biscuits and pecan pie,” Luke agreed. “All that delicious food, goin’ to waste. Heck, they were cookin’ enough for ten people, you know how they go all out for the holidays.”
“Ooo,” Rosco said, his stomach reminding him how little he’d eaten lately.
Luke winked at Bo. “I suppose Uncle Jesse has hot apple cider warmin’ up right now, with a fresh batch of sugar cookies comin’ out of the oven.”
“And Daisy’s makin’ some of that fancy Christmas candy, with chocolate and butterscotch.”
Rosco got up tried to ignore them, looking out the window. All the Christmas lights were shining and blinking in the early evening, as a group of Christmas carolers serenaded their way through town. The stores and business were closing up, as last-minute shoppers headed for their cars.
“Looks like we won’t be home for Christmas, cousin.” Bo said quietly. “But Merry Christmas, anyway.” Luke chuckled and shook Bo’s hand, then gave an “oof” as Bo pulled him into an embrace, slapping him on the back in brotherly affection. “Merry Christmas, Bo,” Luke said when he could breathe again. Unnoticed by either of them, Rosco came up the holding cell.
“You two done carryin’ on?” The Sheriff’s voice startled them both. To their surprise, Rosco stuck a key into the cell door, opening it with a jangling click. He held the door shut as he eyed them critically. “The General Lee stays impounded until you clean up that hallway,” he said gruffly.
“Yes Sir !” Bo and Luke answered in unison, their faces lighting up.
“Awright…Merry Christmas!” Rosco stepped back and swung the door open. “Khee khee khee!” Bo and Luke spilled out from the cell, shaking Rosco’s hand. “YEEEHOO!” Bo yelled as he jumped down the steps in a single bound. Luke leaned back against the booking desk, taking a moment to ask a question.
“Rosco, you suppose we could ask you another favor?”
“Come over to our place for dinner, and help us put away some of that fine cookin’.”
Rosco grinned and started towards the door. “I’m gone!” Laughing, the three of them left together, piling into the patrol car.