Chapter 12: One Step Forward
Hours after Daisy had finally drifted off to sleep, Enos got up and lit the oil lamp that had been stored on the mantle. Something wasn’t right. His head felt like there were huge boulders rolling around inside of it and his shoulder throbbed and burned like hot coals. He took the lamp into the bathroom, hoping to find aspirin in the medicine cabinet, but it was empty, and the kitchen didn’t have any either. There was no water to drink, only watered down moonshine. He sat the lamp down, found a small glass, and poured some from the jug. He took a drink and grimaced, not because it had a bite, but because it had the distinct flavor of pond water that tasted like it might have been stored in an old rubber tire.
“Gosh, that’s bad,” he whispered. It was just as well that it wasn’t a higher proof anyway, he’d never trusted himself to drink much around Daisy, even if it was for medicinal purposes. He might say something he didn’t intend to say.
Enos finished the glass and went back into the living room, frowning when he noticed Daisy sleeping on the floor. He knelt down beside her and watched her for a moment.
“Sweet dreams, Daisy Duke,” he whispered before returning to the couch. His headache was worse since standing up and walking around, almost blinding in it’s intensity, and his ears rang slightly. It was a long time before he slept.
Across the mountains, a solitary lamp burned in the window of the Duke farmhouse off Mill Road. After they’d found Andy and brought him, Rosco, and Amos back to town, Bo and Luke had made the slow, treacherous drive back through the country roads of Hazzard county. It was late, but no one felt like sleeping, and a feeling of dread hung like a black shroud over the family.
There had been no word from Enos. He’d disappeared into the storm without another word other than his last cryptic transmission, and every attempt to contact him had been met with static. Rosco, more subdued than either of the cousins had ever seen him, had even managed to keep his insults to a minimum, promising them that he would keep trying to reach Enos and that he would stay at the station overnight – just in case the power went out since the courthouse had a generator.
For now the electricity and phones were still on, though the lights had flickered a time or two. Uncle Jesse had done all the prayin’ he could think of to do on that behalf as well as the others. They could rig the CB up to a car battery, but as far as they knew, Enos was somewhere up in the hills and most of that area was out of range of the radios anyway.
Eventually Bo and Luke fell asleep where they’d been sitting, but Jesse stayed awake. Visions of Daisy as a child filled his mind. He and her late Aunt Lavinia were the only family she could remember, her parents passing away in a car accident when she was only six months old. It had taken some getting used to at first, raising a girl, but Daisy had a way of capturing everyone’s heart who knew her, and his broke to think of his little girl out there somewhere in danger.
The sun streaming through the window filled the tiny cabin with light and woke Daisy, and she got up and looked out the window over the frozen lake. Everything exposed to the elements was encased in ice. The branches of the pine trees, burdened with the extra weight, dipped to the ground and several larger ones from the tops had snapped off and lay scattered underneath. Just looking at the cold outside made her shiver and she threw another log on the fire for good measure.
She turned towards the couch where Enos was still sleeping and frowned. His hair was drenched with sweat. She went over to him and put her hand on his forehead. He was burning up.
She shook him gently. “Enos, Enos wake up.”
He opened his eyes and squinted up at her. “I don’t feel so good,” he whispered. “It’s freezing in here.”
“It’s not cold in here, Enos, you’ve got a fever.” She looked at the bandage on his arm. “You want me t’ see how it is?”
He nodded and she gently untied the knot she’d made in the bandage and unwrapped it. He didn’t need to ask how it looked, her eyes told him enough.
“Guess weak moonshine ain’t a very good disinfectant,” he murmured before closing his eyes again.
“Hey, I don’t think you should go t’ sleep.” Daisy shook him gently again, but got no response. “Enos? Please wake up.”
“I’m awake,” he mumbled, without opening his eyes.
She tried to think about what to do. The roads were impassible and she’d never be able to get them back to Hazzard right now. They were out of CB range to Hazzard here in the mountains as well, so she wouldn’t be able to get through to anyone she knew. Lake Chickamahony was in Choctaw County anyway, so…
“Choctaw County,” she whispered to herself. She was out of range for Hazzard, but Choctaw was half that distance away.
“Enos, where are your keys?”
“Hmm um, can’t leave…too slick. I’m fine, Daisy, just tired.”
“You’re not fine! I’m not leavin’, I’m just gonna see if I can get a hold of anyone in Choctaw. I need your keys, though.”
“In my coat.”
Daisy picked up his coat and felt in the pockets until she found them.
“I’ll be right back,” she said as she put on her coat and opened the door. She walked slowly to the car, nearly slipping twice despite the fact she only had about 20 feet to cover. The door was frozen shut on the driver’s side where the wind had blown the worst of the rain, but she was able to open the passenger’s side after beating around the door frame to loosen the ice. She slipped across to the driver’s seat, started the car, and turned the CB on.
“Breaker, breaker, this is Daisy Duke calling th’ Choctaw County Sheriff’s Department. Anyone out there? Over.”
There was only static on the line. She waited for a minute, and tried again.
“This is Daisy Duke calling Choctaw County Sheriff’s Department. Please, if anyone’s out there, pickup. Over.”
Again, there was nothing. She was about to turn off the car and go back inside when the CB came to life and a faint voice broke the silence.
“This is Choctaw County Sheriff Dewey Wilkes. Daisy, can ya’ hear me? We’ve been lookin’ all over for you, girl! Are you okay? Over,”
“Dewey! It sure is good t’ hear your voice. Listen, I’m fine, but me an’ Enos are stuck up here at Lake Chickamahony, and we need t’ get out. He got shot in the arm and he doesn’t look real good.”
“I read you loud n’ clear, Daisy. Don’t you worry, you two just sit tight an’ I’ll get hold of th’ State Patrol. We’ll have ya’ outta there in a jiffy. What about the guy who had ya’? Over.”
“Thanks Dewey. I won’t be around th’ radio, but I’ll keep my eyes out. The guy who took me’s dead, Enos shot him. Over.”
“Roger that. Over an’ out.”
She turned off the car and went back inside.
“I got hold of Dewey, Enos. He said he’s gonna get in touch with the State Patrol and they’d…”
Enos was sitting up on the couch, his head in his hands. Daisy sat down beside him. It worried her, seeing how run down and defeated he looked, unlike the perpetually happy man she remembered. She wanted more than anything to throw her arms around him and tell him everything would be okay, but she dared not. She was still lost in her thoughts when he spoke, and what he said was so unexpected, she nearly asked him to say it again.
“Daisy,” he said, wearily looking up at her, “I know it sounds terribly improper of me, but would you mind if I borrowed your shoulder?”
Her heart nearly lept out of her chest. “No, that’s… that’s fine, Enos. Here, wait…,” she backed up into the corner of the couch and put the pillow in her lap. “Turn around and lean back against me.”
He did as she told him, leaning back, resting half on her and half on the pillow. She had nowhere to put her arm other than around him. “I’m sorry, Daisy. Thank you, kindly,” he mumbled and closed his eyes.
“You just rest. Someone’s gonna be here for us soon.” He didn’t answer and she felt him gradually relax and fall back asleep. The heat from his fever radiated through her, and she wished she’d left that extra log off the fire. His uncharacteristic physical closeness, though not unwelcome, concerned her. He must be worse off than she’d originally thought, or else the fever had addled his brains – she wasn’t sure which she should be hoping for. Daisy rested her head against the back of the couch and, lulled by the warmth, fell asleep.
Dewey Wilkes hung up the CB, smiled, and shook his head. Somehow, through the worst storm these parts had seen in thirty years, Enos Strate had managed to save Daisy Duke. He picked up the phone and dialed the Georgia State Patrol, letting them know that their detective had been wounded while taking down the Tri-County Strangler. They were more than happy to provide assistance. His next call was to the switchboard in Hazzard County.
The phone ringing woke Bo and Luke with a start, and they both struggled to their feet, but Uncle Jesse motioned for them to wait.
“Now, just calm down you two,an’ let me get it. Our luck it’s prob’ly a wrong number.” He got up and went to the phone and picked it up. Bo and Luke followed behind him, hoping to decipher what it was about from the one sided conversation.
“Mornin’ t’ you, too, Sheriff Wilkes. What can I do for ya’?”
There was a long pause before Jesse spoke again. “How bad?”
“Well thank ya’ for calling, Dewey, much obliged. You have yourself a good day, ya’ hear?”
“Alright then…Bye.” He turned to the cousins, a bewildered expression on his face.
“Well?” asked Bo. “What goin’ on?”
Luke was silent. A phone call from the Choctaw County Sheriff either meant really bad news or really good news. By the expression on his Uncle’s face, he was hoping for the good news.
“He found her,” he said simply. He stared into space for a moment, unable to process the news he’d just heard.
“Who, Enos?” Luke asked. His uncle seemed to not hear him, so Luke shook him gently by the shoulder. “Uncle Jesse, are you alright?”
His Uncle snapped out of his reverie and looked over at his nephews, laughing with relief. “What d’ ya know? He did it. That boy followed some guy up into th’ mountains in th’ middle of a storm and found her.”
Bo let out a ‘whoop’ of happiness. “Luke, remind me t’ never doubt Enos again.”
Luke shook his head in amazement. “You got that right, cuz.”
Uncle Jesse’s face clouded. “Well, now, you boys better still be doing some prayin’. I guess th’ guy got off a shot at him. Don’t know where he was hit, but Dewey said th’ State Patrol was gonna air lift him t’ Atlanta.”
“Atlanta? Luke wouldn’t they just take him t’ Capitol City if it weren’t serious?” asked Bo.
“Not necessarily with th’ weather,” answered Luke. “Uncle Jesse, did Dewey happen t’ say anything about th’ other guy?”
“He did,” Jesse replied, gravely. “Enos shot him dead.”
A sound invaded Daisy’s dreamless sleep, and she woke with a start, confused at first by the weight resting against her. Enos was still sleeping, and still overly warm, but his fever wasn’t as alarmingly high as it had been before. An unnatural throbbing noise seemed to vibrate gently through the cabin. As she sat listening, trying to pinpoint what it could be, the sound grew louder and the vibrations more apparent until she realized that she was hearing a helicopter – and that it was landing just outside the cabin. Shortly afterwards there was a knock on the door.
“Ms. Duke, are you in there?” called a voice from behind the door.
She lifted Enos and the pillow up enough that she could slip out from under them and went and opened the door to the police officer who waited there.
He removed his hat and nodded a greeting to her. “Howdy, ma’am. I’m Sergeant Collins with the Georgia State Patrol. I’m t’ transport you and Detective Strate to th’ hospital in Atlanta.”
“Oh..,” her attention was on the helicopter instead of him and she almost missed what he said “Oh! Of course. Come in. I’ll try t’ wake him up.”
“I’m sorry, we’re kinda unprepared for a medical rescue. They called for Life-Flight from Grady, but they’re stretched pretty thin with all the accidents on th’ ice. I can help ya’ if you need, ma’am.”
“Thanks, his fever’s not as high as it was. He’s been out for a while, so hopefully he’ll feel better.” She knelt by Enos, reminding herself not to shake him by the shoulder, and patted his cheek lightly. “Enos…Enos, wake up. ”
“Cow,” he mumbled. “C…O…W…”
Daisy grinned, wondering what in the world he could be dreaming of. “Enos, wake up.”
He opened his eyes, and looked around, confused until they focused on her. “Oh, hey Daisy!” he said dreamily. “Say… did you know that there are more cows in the state of Wisconsin than there are people?”
She laughed and shook her head “How are ya’ feeling?”
“Well…other than feelin’ like someone shot me in th’ shoulder and then pounded my head in with a meat tenderizer, I guess I feel just fine.” He grinned weakly back at her and sat up.
“This here’s Sergeant Collins. He’s gonna take us to th’ hospital in Atlanta. They’ll get you fixed up good as new in no time.”
He stood up slowly and between leaning on Daisy and Sergeant Collins, they made their way out across the ice to the helicopter. Enos and Daisy climbed into the back seat and the sergeant climbed into the front passenger’s seat.
Enos looked around with wide eyes while they took off, the cold helping to clear his head. “Wow,” he said, with a nervous laugh. “I always wanted to ride th’ copter with SWAT, but never got to. Guess I never thought I’d ride in th’ Georgia Patrol one.”
“This here’s Chester,” the Sergeant told them, beating his fist affectionately on the wall of the chopper. “He’s our pot-watcher.”
“It’s a what?” asked Daisy.
“We call him a pot-watcher. From the air, you can tell a plot of marijuana by it’s blueish-green color so we take th’ chopper out in the summers and survey th’ more rural parts of th’ state. Cover quite a large area like that… Oh, I almost forgot. Did you have your keys, Detective? I’ll send someone to come and pick up your car. Where would you like them to take it?”
“I’m much obliged, sir.” He felt in his coat pocket for them.
“I still have them, Enos.” Daisy fished them out of her coat pocket and handed them to Collins.
“I guess, if you don’t mind, sir, just take it to Jake’s on th’ square in Hazzard.”
“No problem, we’ll get it taken care of. An’ if you’re th’ one who found th’ Tri-County killer we’ve been lookin’ for, you can just call me Fred.”
He stuck his hand out and Enos shook it. “Enos.”
“Now, I know you’re not really feelin’ up t’ yer peak, Enos, but I’m gonna have to ask you some questions ’bout that,” he said, pulling out a small pocket notebook and flipping it open.
“That’s okay,” he replied. “I know how it works. He’s dead, by th’ way. Up off Cedar Point Road about fifteen miles and to th’ right. It’s the ol’ Johnson place, but there ain’t no road names, so you’ll have t’ get Sheriff Coltrane to take ya’ there.”
“Did you see what kind of gun he had?”
“It was a .22 caliber revolver, I didn’t see th’ make.”
“A 9mm Smith and Wesson. Shoot! It’s on the table in the cabin.”
“That’s okay, when they pick up your car I’ll have them pick that up as well. We’ll have t’ do ballistics on it anyway, just to cross our ‘t’s” an’ dot our “i’s”. If you could just run down how ya’ found him, I’ll put it in my report, though you’ll probably get sick an’ tired of tellin’ your story by th’ time everyone who thinks they’ve gotta know it is satisfied.”
Enos ran through a short explanation of how they’d seen a truck on the surveillance tape matching the suspect’s and of how they ran down a wrong trail for a while chasing Andy.
“Higgin’s is his name?” asked the Sergeant. He flipped to a different page in his notebook, and read for a minute before continuing. “He jumped bail down in Calhoun County. Went home again, huh? Feds’ll be happy t’ see him again. So how did ya’ end up findin’ this other guy?”
“Well, that was purely Providence, I reckon,” said Enos. “If m’ tires hadn’t of been so dang worn down, I would’ve taken Mill Road into Hazzard instead of Highway 20. There was a truck parked at Silas’s General Store when I passed that matched the description so I turned around an’ checked it out. I followed that guy and radioed to th’ Sheriff t’ go ahead and have th’ informant show him where Andy was.”
The Sergeant was impressed. “Nice work, detective. Two wanted men in one day, sure wish you were on our regular payroll.”
“Shucks,” said Enos, brushing the praise aside, “I can’t hardly take credit for either of ’em. Th’ Sheriff went after Andy, an’ I just got lucky findin’ the real killer.”
Daisy couldn’t sit by and be silent any longer. “Enos Strate, that’s not true! Why you followed that man up th’ mountains through an’ ice storm, and if you hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here! You saved my life, and I won’t sit here an’ let you not take credit for it.”
“I was just doin’ my job, Daisy,” he said, solemnly. His eyes met hers for a moment, though, and in them she saw the trace of pride that he couldn’t quite conceal.
Enos explained the rest of what had happened to Sergeant Collins from the time the man had turned off towards the Johnson place until they’d arrived at the cabin.
“You’re lucky you had someplace close to go,” said Collins. “We’ve got people everywhere in th’ ditches. You’d of never made it down th’ mountain. ‘Course it’s s’posed to warm up in th’ morning. They’re sayin’ 60’s and 70’s by th’ middle of next week. Go figure…if ya’ don’t like th’ weather in Georgia, wait five minutes and it’ll change.”
“That’ll be nice,” said Enos, “I guess I’ve gotten soft livin’ in California. I sure don’t miss th’ winters here.”
“Speakin’ of California, what division you in out there? I had a friend who was with the Valley Bureau, out in North Hollywood.”
“Never worked with Valley. I was on the Metro squad with the SWAT team for almost two years, an’ I’ve been two years with the Robbery/Homicide division as a detective.”
“Wow. Bet that looks good on a resume’. Say, that must’ve been a big move – Hazzard County t’ Los Angeles. What made ya’ go there?”
Daisy held her breath, waiting for his reply, but he answered easily.
“Oh, I don’t know…things just changed, I guess.”
Collins didn’t miss the way Daisy paled and looked away. There was a long history between these two, he surmised, and he wouldn’t be surprised if she’d had something to do with the detective’s departure from her actions. They seemed to be drawn together, like magnets, each leaning from their seats towards each other until their shoulders were nearly touching.
Enos’s quick eyes didn’t miss the glance the man shot between himself and Daisy. He sat back into his seat, nonchalantly widening the distance between them.
“Time t’ move on, huh?” asked the officer. “I hear ya’. I was with Camden County as a deputy for ten years ‘fore I got tired of sittin’ out in th’ woods waitin’ for a speeder t’ come through.”
“No kiddin?” Enos laughed. “Yeah, I remember them days. Seems like another life-time ago.”
They were approaching the greater Atlanta area now, and miles upon miles of sprawling suburbia stretched out around them. Daisy could never imagine herself living in such a place – of course she couldn’t imagine Enos living there either, and Los Angeles was over twice the size of Atlanta.
The pilot communicated something to someone via the radio and in a couple minutes they circled a huge building which read ‘Grady Memorial Hospital’.
“When we set down, the staff’ll come and get you,” said Sergeant Collins. “Ms. Duke, they’ll need to run some tests on you as well, make sure you’re okay. We’ll need you t’ give your side of the story, but that can wait until you’re settled. Th’ state’s pickin’ up th’ tab for you, too, so order th’ good food.”
The chopper set down on the helipad where a number of people in white coats waited nearby.
Enos leaned over towards Daisy. “They’re gonna stick me fulla them ding-dang needles. I can see it in their beady little eyes already,” he whispered, nervously fidgeting with his hands.
“Oh Enos, you’ll be fine.”
“You’ll check in on me in th’ mornin’ and make sure, won’t ya’?”
She grinned. “I’ll sneak you in some buttermilk.”
He laughed and flashed her a smile before the door opened and organized chaos descended on them both as the medical staff whisked them away in separate directions.