by: Kristy Duke
A wave of self doubt rushes through me as I stare at the aging, small building that lies only a couple of feet in front of my scratched up front bumper. Above me, the dark dreary gray sky slowly seeps into darkness of another starless night while small droplets of rain begin to fall upon my dirt streaked windshield. Abruptly, a loud crack of laughter quickly brings me back into reality as I watch a young couple slowly walking past my driver’s door holding each other tightly on their way to the old scarred wooden door. For a long moment I watch the petite woman holding onto the waist of the muscular, broad shoulder man as I allow my thoughts to silently sink back into it’s harbor of doubts and questions.
Watching the young couple disappear within the closed door of the bar, I slowly watch the rain slowly picking up upon my windshield for a long moment before looking down at my car’s radio clock. Eight o’clock. It’s now or never. Taking a deep breath, I slowly step out into the fall’s chilly evening as the icy cold sprinkles of water begin to drip down upon me, sending chills rushing across my num body. Watching my muddy boots dragging in the muddy parking lot, I slowly reach the closed door to have an handsome blond man beat me to the door, opening it for me.
“Thank-you,” I give him a weak smile as I step into the warmth of the crowded bar. Slowly I glare across the bar, searching for a familiar face; searching for Ethan.
“Looking for someone?” the blond man asks as he follows my empty glares with his baby blue kind eyes.
“Uh yeah,” I slowly respond looking up at him as a wave of laughter fills the bar before it becomes suddenly hushed for a long moment, “Ethan McKleen.”
The blond man nods with familiarity as somewhere in the back a guitar begins to play what seems to be a Country song. “That’d be him with the guitar back there,” the blond man nods in the direction of where the people are crowded towards the back left corner, “c’mon, I’ll show you.”
“Thanks,” I give him an appreciative smile as he begins to shoulder his way through the crowded bar until he reaches the crowd where he waits up for me. From within the crowd a strong male’s voice begins to sing “She’s Got it All” an Kenny Chesney song.
“Hey Ethan,” the blond man says as he gently grabs onto my shoulder as he makes a path through the people that circles around the guitar player until we are within the circle. Sitting upon an old and scarred table, Ethan sits comfortably with his lengthy legs crossed, a wide black leather strap rests heavily upon his left shoulder while he picks upon a brown wooden guitar. I am struck with awe and surprise for a long moment as Ethan gives the stranger a familiar smile while he continues to play the guitar and sing word for word to the Country song. People behind us sing along while clapping and yelling in encouragement as I silently watch the country boy watching his fingers strum the guitar for a short moment. A few curls of Ethan’s copper brown hair fall over into his intense green-gray eyes as he plays, his strong jaw is thinly covered with copper beard and mustache.
Ethan slowly finishes the Country song to send a wave of applause and yelling to rush around us for a long moment before he slowly stands up to force a few people to begin to complain. “Done for now,” Ethan grins at them and they slowly begin to file away. “Well hi Bo,” Ethan grins perfectly to show a row of bright white teeth as my thoughts suddenly stop at hearing him call the blond haired man Bo. I should have recognized him. “How’s it goin’? You find company for tonight?”
“Ah I wish,” he grins down at me before looking up at him, “she’s your company…I guess there is a first for everything.”
“HA HA very funny,” Ethan jokingly slaps Bo on the shoulder, “you that writer that wanted to interview me?”
“Uh yeah,” I silently answer as I force myself to stay focused and to look at him, “Sally.”
“Well I guess you could join me here for a moment or two,” he motions me back to the table he had sat on a moment ago before waving to Bo, “Bye Bo.” Turning back to me he asks, “What is it I can do for you? Garrett already warned me about you.”
“He did, did he?” I ask as I slowly slide into the wooden chair, “Guess it wouldn’t surprise me, it really didn’t go as I expected it to go.”
He shrugs as he raises a hand to a waitress who slowly walks over with her writing pad and pen in hand. “Two beers,” he orders her away before looking back at me, “Garrett’s unpredictable. He got over it.”
“Yeah perhaps,” I sigh as I silently revisit the last interview I had done with any Hazzardite only a few months ago, “it was an experience. Hopefully this will go a little better.” Silence slowly fills the table for a long moment before the waitress comes back with two watered down beers and Ethan slides one to me and one towards himself. “Thanks.”
“You are of age, aren’t you?” he arches his right eye brow up at me.
“As much as Garrett and Bo there are,” I answer boldly as I take a long sip of the beer he had bought me, “As I said, thanks. You sing much?”
“Yeah off and on,” he shrugs as he plays a few notes on it before unstrapping the strap and placing it into a long black leather guitar case, sitting up he says, “it’s more of a hobby than anything else…always been a dream of mine. Music and cars. It helps me relax and concentrate if need be.”
“So what kind of stuff do you play or sing?” I venture as I lean back in my chair.
“I like Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith,” he lists a few top names of Country Music, “Keith Urban, Clint Black, and Dwight Yoakam to list a few. I don’t really play to a crowd very often, tonight is the first in a long time that I ventured out to play in front of people.”
“Why’s that? You sound good,” I comment taking another drink of the beer he had gotten me, “I enjoyed what I had heard.”
“Thanks,” he nods at me as he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, “I try at least…something to keep me out of trouble.”
He gives me a shy smile as he seems to look over my shoulder for a moment before looking back at me. “You get in trouble often?” I ask, feeding off of his own statement.
“I’ve gotten into my share of trouble,” he shrugs nonchalantly, “but I think everyone here has at one time or another…more than others. My view is, it’s impossible for one person to stay outta trouble their whole lives…one time or another we’ve all gotten ourselves into trouble.”
“True enough,” I nod as I eye my drink for a moment before turning back to him, “I heard that you have a good relationship with your dad…I am sorry to hear about him. How is he doing?”
He goes silent for a long moment as his handsome face grows serious as he stares down into his drink for a long moment before looking up at me. “All I am going to say on the subject is some days are better than others,” he goes silent for a moment and I nod in understanding.
“Well how about your brothers?” I slowly ask as I silently remember what all had brought Ethan into Hazzard, his brothers and his brothers’ friends. “What are they up to?”
“I wouldn’t know,” he shrugs as he runs his right hand through his thick curly hair, “I haven’t seen them since they ran off a year ago…last I knew they went back to the garage.”
Silence once again builds up between us as someone pushes a few buttons on the old model juke box and Brooks N Dunn’s “Boot Scootin Boogy” begins to play loudly within the bar. “You know who you remind me of?” I slowly speak up after listening to the odd silence that had began to accumulate between the two of us, dragging his attention away from a thin, pretty brunette that’s doing the line dance smoothly upon the dance floor.
His intensely gray – green eyes harden with irritation towards me for interrupting his silent thoughts or from distracting him away from the woman on the dance floor. “Who?” his voice is thick with frustration as well.
“That new Country singer,” I boldly respond, ignoring his attitude towards me, “Billy Currington. Have you heard of him? Sings “Walk a little Straighter, Daddy” and has a newer song out plus he sings -”
“With Shania Twain…”Party for Two”,” he rolls his eyes at me as he finishes my sentence for me, “you aren’t the first one that said that…I think Kristy had mentioned that to me the last time I was over.”
“You friends with Kristy too?” I ask, looking up from my watered down beer at the mention of Garrett’s older half sister, “How well do you know Garrett?”
“‘Course I consider her a friend, who wouldn’t?” his irritation builds within his voice, “As for Garrett, I know him as much as he wants me to know him. We hang out, talk, drink together and so forth. I know enough to know he don’t want to be here.”
“He don’t keep that much of a secret,” I snap back at him, “You want to be here? In Hazzard I mean.”
He sighs audibly before falling back into silence while he glares over my shoulder while taking a long drink from his beer. “I guess so,” he shrugs his shoulders as his attention remains over my shoulder, away from me, “I want a place to fit in at…friends, perhaps a family one day. They may be in Hazzard, and may not be. Right now, the Dukes…Garrett seems to accept me as who I am.”
“Hopefully you will find it here or somewhere. Hazzard is a friendly town for the most part,” I answer as an Alan Jackson song quickly replaces Brook ‘n’ Dunn. “Well I guess there isn’t more that could be said here. Thanks for the beer…and thanks for joining me here.”
“I’d be here anyways,”he shrugs as he slowly glances away from where he was staring to look at me with saddened eyes, “thanks for the company. If there is anything to know about me… is that I am who I am. Nothin’ much that’s for damn sure. Don’t know what all the interest in me is, but I spose you have your reasons.”
“Don’t say that about yourself…we are a part of something. You have good talent with that guitar there and your singing…more than I can say for myself,” I smile shyly at him before I slowly scoot my chair back to stand up, “and for my reasons…I am just working on a little project to deal with Hazzard. Call it ‘the people of Hazzard County’ or something or other like that. Who knows? It could be something big,” I smile at him once again, “but most likely not.”
“Think positive,” he nods towards me as a smile flickers upon his handsome face, forcing his gray- green eyes to lighten up a bit, “I’ll see ya around I’m sure. I’ll tell Garrett hi for you, he’ll get a kick out of it.”
“I’m sure he would…you may be getting the kick end of the deal,” he laughs at my lame joke, “tell him hi anyways, he seems like a pretty good guy once you get to know him; but once again, I could be wrong, cause I don’t know him.”
“Eh no one does,” he waves it off, “Garrett’s Garrett.”
“Yeah. He’ is that,” I nod in agreement as I eye the door before looking back at him, “thanks again…and I’ll see you around. Bye.”
He waves a muscular long hand at him before I slowly turn around and begin to make my way through the crowd that has gathered in the small local restaurant.