Chapter 9: End of Innocence
Enos stopped his car and got out at the end of Ridge Runner Road. Before him the land fell off in a steep ravine, ending at a road he driven on only fifteen minutes earlier. This was one of the highest places in the county and from his vantage point he could see the tiny town of Hazzard to his right, snuggled away at the base of the Blue Ridge foothills and Highway 20, winding like a silver snake through the valley until it disappeared to the south. To his left was Choctaw County, more mountainous than Hazzard County, the peaks rising up to meet the low lying clouds.
He closed his eyes as a wind swept across the hills, coming not from the southwest, but from the north – a wind that brought a chill, and not only from the cold. His clock was ticking and, in the last hours before the storm, it was irrevocably joined with Daisy’s. He opened his eyes and cast a last glance around him. Somewhere – somewhere within the area that he could see – she was there, he knew it.
“Daisy,” he whispered, “where are you…”
“Let me outta here! I wanna lawyer…and some food! I’m gonna sue you when I starve. Hey! Somebody come down here an’ talk to me!” Josh Hooper had woken up half an hour before and had been complaining ever since.
“I’m about t’ go down there an’ shut his pie hole for him in a minute,” griped Rosco. “Cletus, where’d Enos say he was goin’? I though he wanted t’ question that numb-skull.”
“He said he was goin’ t’ drive back up around Ridge Road for a bit, just in case he spotted that there pickup truck.”
“Dang-it!” Rosco got up and went over to the police radio. “Enos, Enos this is your comman…Uh…uh…this is Sheriff Ros—co P. Coltrane. Are ya’ out there? Come on.”
Enos’s voice was faint as he picked up. “Hey Sheriff, this is Enos.”
“Enos, your dipstick’s woken up. Either ya’ get back here an’ ask him your questions or I’m gonna put him t’ sleep again. He’s drivin’ me an’ Cletus bonkers.”
“I’m comin’ in now, thanks Sheriff. Enos out.”
Enos spun the car around and headed back down towards town a different way than he’d come up, slowing down as he passed each homestead and shack. He drove past a trailer with an off-white pickup in the yard, roughly the right year, and pulled the car over. It hardly bore examining, he could see when he was twenty feet away that the tires were just about worn down to the threads. He gave a cursory glance around it, though. One corner of the bed was filled with stagnant water – this truck hadn’t moved in quite a while. The screen door of the trailer opened and banged shut. Enos looked up to see a woman, blond and in her mid 30’s, walking towards him with a shotgun.
“Hey, you! Get away from that truck!”
Enos took another look at the woman. “Amy? Amy McCullum?”
“Enos? Oh my gosh!” The woman set the shotgun down against the porch and ran over to give him a hug. “What are you doin’ here? Last I heard you was a big shot in California!”
“I’m still there, though I wouldn’t say I’m much of a big shot.”
“Hell, y’are around here! Gosh, we’re all so proud of ya’, it’s not like one of us escapes these hills every day, ya’ know. Is there somethin’ I can help ya’ with?”
“Well, I’m lookin’ for a pickup that looks a lot like this. Thought this might have been it, but it’s not.”
“This ol’ thing? Naw, th’ clutch done give out on it last fall. Gotta wait till it gets warmer an’ drier t’ work on it, though.”
She grinned and elbowed him. “Now why would I be talkin’ to a police officer about such things?”
“Shucks Amy, you know I ain’t never given nobody away up here. What I don’t see ain’t my business, I reckon.”
“Enos, I swear, you’re th’ best dang cop Hazzard ever had.” She turned to the truck and kicked a tire. “Be better when we can get th’ truck going. Jasper comes up an’ takes th’ orders but he broke two jugs last week. He’s too busy racin’ t’ remember what his cargo is.”
“That’s a shame, your daddy always made some o’ th’ best around.”
“Hey now, my pa’s getting’ old! I do most of it now. So anyways, I heard someone was lookin’ for Andy. That you?”
Enos frowned. “Word travels fast. You know where I can find him?”
Amy shook her head. “I wish I did, an’ I’ll tell ya’, I wouldn’t have no trouble rattin’ out that good fer nothin’. He’s th’ reason half o’ th’ kids in Hazzard are smokin’ dope.”
“Yeah, him an’ that Josh Hooper kid. Got ’emselves a greenhouse somewhere’s up here. I don’t know where, though.”
“Thanks Amy, you’ve been a big help. I gotta get back t’ town, but maybe I’ll see ya’ around later.”
“You take care of yourself, Enos.”
That explained why Josh didn’t want to tell him where Andy was thought Enos as he continued on his way into town. If they were sitting on a patch, he’d probably rot in jail until he got his slap on the wrist. Enos looked at his watch. It was already 4:05pm. He’d wasted too much time up here with nothing more to show for it than a confirmed hunch that Andy was growing weed.
Something else bothered him as well…pot growers usually didn’t try to make extra trouble for themselves – and serial killers were usually too focused on themselves to grow pot. Why did he feel like he was missing something?
Enos pulled his car up in front of the Sheriff’s department and went in.
“Hey Cletus, he’s awake?”
A thunking noise began from downstairs as Josh began kicking on the bars again.
“You’d better go down there before Rosco comes back,” said Cletus. “He’s been doing that for th’ last hour.”
“Thanks, Cletus.” Enos hung up his coat and walked through the booking area and down the narrow stairway at the back to where the holding cells were.
“You!” shouted Josh at Enos. “You’re in big trouble, buddy! You ain’t got no right t’ hold me in here. Warn’t no weed on my property – you ain’t got nothin’ on me!”
Enos rolled his eyes. “I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. You were smokin’ weed when I found you.”
“I..I don’t ‘member that.”
“Well, you can remember that later, right now I need ya’ to remember where I can find Andy Higgins.”
“Huh uh…I ain’t got no idea where Andy is. I already tol’ ya’ that.”
Upstairs, Bo and Luke entered the Sheriff’s department. “Say, Cletus, you seen Enos?”
“Uh yeah, he’s downstairs with Josh Hooper. Say…”
“…Thanks, Cletus.” The men walked around Cletus’s desk and headed to the stairway.
“Listen, I know he’s growin,’ an’ I know you’ve been helpin’ him. It’ll go a lot easier with you if you just tell me where he is right now. I’m gonna find him eventually.”
“Then go find him yourself, asshole!” Josh spat at Enos through the bars.
Enos reached through the bars and grabbed the man’s shirt, jerking him forward and smashing his face into the cell door. “I’ve had just about all from you that I can say grace over, Buddy Roe.”
The man let out a frightened squealing sound. Luke and Bo heard it and rushed down the stairs.
“What the…Enos!” shouted Bo, “Let go o’him!”
“Tell me where he is!” yelled Enos.
“Bo, help me!” Luke grabbed one of Enos’s arms, trying to pull him away from the man whose face he was still crushing into the bars, but Enos was stronger than he looked.
“Leave me alone, Luke! He knows where Andy is an’ he’s gonna tell me.”
“Enos, this ain’t th’ way t’ do it. You’re gonna get yourself in trouble!”
Enos put his face up beside Josh’s. “If she dies, I’ll find you… an’ you’ll wish I hadn’t,” he said, quietly, before letting him go. The man fell to the floor.
Enos ran up the stairs, grabbed his coat from the hook in the booking room and took off out the door. Bo and Luke were too late to stop him.
“Come on, Luke, we’d better go after him.”
Luke caught Bo’s arm and held him back from the door as the sound of squealing tires came from outside. “Let him go, Cuz. He’ll be back. Let’s see if we can talk some sense into that kid downstairs.”
“Hey, now boys,” whined Cletus, as they passed his desk again, “you ain’t really supposed to be down there, ya’ know. Rosco’s libel t’ think o’ some reason for you t’ stay there permanent.”
“Thanks for the heads up, Cletus,” said Luke. “We’ll be fine.”
The cousins went back down the stairs to find Josh sitting dejectedly on his bunk. He jumped up, frightened, when they came back. “Hey, you keep that crazy guy away from me!”
“Listen…Josh, I’m Luke Duke, an’ this here’s my cousin, Bo. I’m sorry that Enos scared ya’, but well, we’re in kind of a bind here an’ we could really use your help.”
“I’m not tellin’ where Andy is. If I did that, I’d be loosin’ a lot more money than just a fine fer smokin’ some weed.”
“Look, we have reason to believe that your friend might know somethin’ about the girls that got murdered up in Choctaw. Now our cousin, Daisy, is missin’. Enos…he’s pretty close to her.”
“Girls?” Josh looked at them like they’d gone crazy. “I definitely don’t know nothin’ about no girls.”
“Well, when’s the last time you saw Andy?” asked Bo.
“Shoot, it’s been going on three weeks now. I swear, I didn’t know he was mixed up in somethin’ like that!”
Bo smiled. “So, you wouldn’t mind tellin’ us where he is?”
“Well, it ain’t all that easy. Ya’ see, there ain’t no road names up there. I’d have t’ take ya’ myself.”
Bo and Luke glanced at each other.
“You two can even cuff me.”
“I don’t see no harm in it, Luke,” said Bo. “It ain’t like he can go anywhere’s if he’s cuffed.”
“I don’t know…” Luke racked his brain for a better solution.
“Come on, Luke! That ice storm ain’t gonna hold off much longer – it’s already dropped ten degrees outside.”
Luke sighed. “Okay, fine…we’ll have to distract Cletus, though.”
“Well, that ain’t never been a problem before.”
Bo ran upstairs. “Uh, hey, Cletus!”
“Yeah, Bo? What’s wrong?”
“The kid downstairs says Andy’s truck is parked over there at ol’ Ace Parker’s lot.”
“Buzzards on a buzz-saw! You mean he’s traded it in?”
“Looks that way. You’d best get over there an’ check it out. We’ll hold down th’ fort here ’till Rosco gets back.”
Cletus got up and grabbed his coat. “You would? Gosh, that sure is nice o’ you two. I’ll get right out there.” He walked towards the door.
“Oh hey, Cletus,” called Bo. “better leave th’ keys here, just in case.”
“Oh yeah, here ya’ go.” Cletus threw the key ring with the cell keys to Bo and headed out the door.
Bo laughed and shook his head. “We’d sure be in trouble if that guy ever grew any brains.” He grabbed a set of handcuffs from Cletus’s desk drawer, left a short note so Rosco wouldn’t think they’d just let him escape, and headed back down.
“Here Luke.” He threw the cuffs to Luke and unlocked the cell door. “No funny stuff, now, Josh.”
“No way, man. I don’t wanna get caught up in any kind o’ murder rap.”
Luke cuffed the mans hands behind him and led him upstairs and out of the building down to where the General Lee sat in front.
Bo pulled the seat forward and he and Luke lifted Josh through the window into the back seat, then hopped in themselves and took off.
It struck Rosco immediately that something wasn’t right when he returned. It was too quiet.
“Cletus? Cletus, where are ya’? Dang nam it! That boy’s dumber than a bag o’rocks.” He went over to Cletus’s desk and found the note that Bo Duke had left.
“Josh says he’ll show us where Andy’s at.”
“Ooo…that’s not good.” He grabbed the keys from the desk and went downstairs. “Ooo..jeet…that’s really not good. Enos is gonna kill them. Then he’s gonna kill Cletus. …Then I’m gonna kill Cletus,” he added. He went back up the stairs and picked up the CB.
“This is Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane calling Bo and Luke Duke. You better come in, boys, an’ I mean right now…this is serious…”
“Hey Rosco, this here’s Luke. Look, I’m sorry we had t’ bail Josh out without tellin’ ya’, but after we told him about the murders he decided he didn’t want no part in it and said he’d take us t’ Andy.”
“That riffraff’s gonna shuck-an-jive you, boys. Now, you turn around right now an’ come on back here.”
Enos, who’d heard the exchange between the two picked up. “Luke, Rosco’s right. If he’s takin’ you up in them hills, you’ll be lucky enough t’ make it back down. He’s the only lead we’ve got an’ we can’t afford t’ loose him. Y’all need t’ turn around!”
“Look Enos,” said Luke, “I understand that, but you didn’t see his face. I think we can trust him t’ show us where he is.” Luke’s voice broke up as their signal began to fade.
“Luke, you ain’t thinkin’ straight!” pleaded Enos, “You can’t trust him t’ do that! Where’s he takin’ ya’?”
…Static…”About five miles off Cedar Point Lane, windin’ around a little.”
“He’s takin’ ya’ right back t’ Abel Higgins place! Turn around, Bo, you guys are headed right into a trap.”
“Enos, we ain’t…get anywhere waitin’… him t’ answer your questions. We’ve…him cuffed…ain’t goin’ nowhere…right back…an’ out.”
“Ding-dang it all! Luke! Bo!” There was no response from the cousins. “Rosco, I’m comin’ in.”
“That’s a big 10-4, Enos. Over an’ out.”
“Pull over right here,” said Josh. They parked at the base of a wooded hill and climbed out of the car, helping Josh out as well. “If we go straight up the hill, he won’t see us. Th’ house is at th’ top.”
“Sounds good,” said Luke. “Lead th’ way, but stay close.”
Together they made their way through the quiet woods. They’d almost reached the house when Bo’s foot caught the fishing line strung between the two trees. Pots, pans, and dishes rattled loudly. He looked over at Luke, a frightened expression on his face.
“I think we’ve been snookered, Cuz.”
Josh grinned triumphantly at them as four men with shotguns came from over the ridge.
“Josh!” shouted one of the men. “Ya’ havin’ some trouble?”
“Yeah, boy I’m I glad t’ see you, Earl! These r’ th’ guys snoopin’ around fer Andy.”
“Oh really…” Earl looked over at Bo and Luke and raised his shotgun at them. “You boys look t’ be tresspassin’. I’m gonna count t’ three, an’ then I’m gonna start shootin’…One…”
Bo and Luke looked at each other and turned and ran down the hill.
“Two…,” the man called after them.
They hopped into the General Lee and spun it around. A shotgun blast rang out, disintegrating the General’s left side taillight. They tore through the back roads until they turned back onto Cedar Point Lane. Bo pulled the General over to the side of the road and killed the engine.
“Luke,” he said quietly, “Do you realize what we’ve just done?” He looked over at his cousin whose expression closely matched his own stricken one. “He was th’ only one who could’ve shown us where Daisy is. We’ve killed her, Luke…”
“It ain’t over yet, Bo. We’ll figure somethin’ out…”
“Why’d we go an’ do such a fool thing? We should’a listened to Enos. He’s gonna kill us…and I wouldn’t blame him one bit.”
“Let’s just get back to town. We’ll put our heads together…come up with somethin’.” He rubbed his face. Lord, but he didn’t want to have t’ face Enos with this.
Bo started the General and they made their way back into town. Night had fallen and with it the temperature which now hovered in the mid-30’s. They had no way of knowing the gravity of that fact – Enos hadn’t told them his suspicions about Daisy being kept outside, but there would be no looking for anyone in a north Georgia ice-storm or for several days after one.
Heavy hearted, they pulled up in front of the Courthouse and climbed out. Luke was sure Rosco or Enos one would be waiting for them when they walked in…and there was no hiding that Josh Hooper wasn’t with them. He didn’t have to wait for his suspicions to be confirmed. Enos was waiting just inside the door
“We’re sorry, Enos,” said Luke. “You were right, an’ we screwed it up real good. I don’t know what else t’ say.”
“I told you he was leadin’ you to a trap!”
“You gotta believe us,” said Bo, “we feel awful. We just…we thought we had t’ take th’ chance…for Daisy’s sake.”
Enos turned on Bo, “There’s nothin’ I wouldn’t do t’ find her if I thought it’d work! Don’t you even think about sayin’ otherwise!”
“Now, Enos, that’s not how I meant it an’ you know that.” Bo took a step forward. “She’s our kin.”
Enos shoved him. “Are you sayin’ I don’t care for her as much as you ’cause we’re not related? There’re things thicker than blood, Bo Duke!”
“Like what, Enos?” asked Bo, shoving him back. “You’re th’ one who left Hazzard. If you cared so dang much for her, you could’a stuck around!”
Enos caught him with a right hook and Bo went down like a sack of potatoes.
“Hey!” shouted Luke, “You two calm down! This ain’t gonna help nothin’.” He pointed to his cousin who was rubbing his jaw and split lip. “You deserved that.”
Enos disappeared out the door.
“Enos!” Luke called after him, but he was already in his car and pulling away. He turned back to Bo and helped him up. “Nice work. Do you think ya’ could be a little more of a jerk next time or is that your limit?”
Enos pulled his car up to the edge of Hazzard Pond, turned off his CB, and got out. The night was still clear, but there was a dark wall of clouds to the northwest, stretching out as far as the eye could see, rolling closer and closer with every minute. He took a seat under an old, gnarled tree that grew by the bank. His hand still smarted from hitting Bo, a fact that he’d normally have felt bad about under different circumstances. Now, he didn’t know what to feel. He supposed he could be angry with them for letting Josh escape, but honestly it probably didn’t matter much – he wouldn’t have told them where Andy was anyway.
He picked up a rock and tossed it into the water, but the sound reminded him of other days, long ago, and he realized belatedly that Hazzard Pond was the worst spot he could have picked to come. It was less than three miles from the Duke Farm as the crow flew, and himself, Luke, Bo, and Daisy had spent countless hours here on summer days when they were younger – summer nights, too, when the catfish were biting. He’d driven by instinct, though, not really even noticing where he was going until he’d pulled onto the road that led down to it.
This pond had seen more of his memories than the mountains had, he reckoned, good and bad. When he was fifteen, he’d come here the day his pa’ had died. Daisy had found him, hours later, sitting against this same tree. He had no idea how long they’d sat there together, neither of them ever speaking a word, until he’d felt like going back. He’d always missed that – the closeness that he and Daisy had shared when they were younger, the ability to know what the other was thinking without saying a word… but it had ended when he was 17…
“Enos, have you ever kissed a girl?”
He shut his eyes and covered his ears in an effort to make the memory go away, but it played on through his mind.
It had been a summer day and he’d come home from the academy to get away from the city. The four of them had come down to fish, but the fish had had other plans. After three hours of nothing biting other than the mosquitoes and chiggers, Bo and Luke had called it quits. He and Daisy had stuck around a while longer, talking about nothing in particular.
“So what’d you get on your history test you were studyin’ for,” he asked her. She’d always hated history with a passion, mostly because everyone knew Mr. Reed was the most boring teacher in the entire tri-county area.
“I didn’t ask ya’ if ya’ passed. What did ya’ get on it?”
“…a D…plus,” she laughed.
“Daisy, you’re smarter’n that. You’d have straight “A’s” if ya’ paid more attention in class and less to th’ back end of Jake Tolliver.”
She elbowed him. “I do no such thing!”
“Yeah, right,” he grinned. “Don’t worry, Daisy, your secret’s safe with me!” He made like he was zipping his lips. ” At least until I tell your cousins!”
“Enos Strate! You tell them a lie like that and I’ll…I’ll tell Amy you’d be happy to take her to th’ school dance next month.”
“Shucks, Daisy, I’m just pickin’ at ya’,” he grumbled. “There’s no need t’ get mean about it.” He picked up their rods and started up the bank. “Come on, we’d better get back before Uncle Jesse feeds our dinner to Maudeen.”
“Enos, have you ever kissed a girl?”
He stopped, sure he hadn’t heard her right, and turned around. “What?”
“Well, ya’ know, some of th’ girls were talkin’ at school. And…well, I want to know what it’s like…to kiss a boy, that is.”
Enos was still reeling from her first question, and his brain hadn’t caught up enough to think of anything to say. She walked over to him and threw her arms around his neck.
“Come on, it’s not like I can ask my cousins. It wouldn’t mean anything.”
He looked down at her, confused. “Y…you..want me t…t’ kiss you?”
“Sure, what’s the big deal? I’m your best friend, aren’t I?”
“Yeah, but…” He’d never thought of Daisy in any context other than that.
“Umm…okay, I guess…” He leaned forward and kissed her cheek.
“Not like that…like this…” She pressed her lips gently to his for a moment before letting him go and smiling up at him. “See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” She picked up the rods that he’d dropped and started up the hill. “Come on, we’d better get back. Uncle Jesse’s gonna tan my hide if I’m late for supper again.”
He watched her go, unable to move, his heart pounding. The moment her lips had touched his, the life he knew had ended. He’d never been able to look at her in the same light after that, or talk to her without fumbling over his words, or turning five shades of red. Daisy herself had never said another word about it.
Enos looked up at the stars – the same stars that shone over Daisy, wherever she was. He was out of ideas, out of time, out of luck. The first drops of rain mixed with his tears as he sat alone, staring up into the night.
Twenty-two miles away, in the hills of northern Hazzard County, another set of hazel eyes stared up into the sky from the bottom of an old abandoned well. She tried to remember how long it had been since she’d woken up to find herself here. It was probably Wednesday or Thursday night, but she couldn’t be sure. Since Friday, the time had been marked only by the rising and setting of the sun, and the man who peered over the edge occasionally. He had thrown her packages of Twinkies and other junk food during the course of the week and a large bottle of water five days ago which she’d drunk sparingly. She’d given up screaming for help, not only because it hadn’t brought any, but the sound of her voice reverberating off the stone-lined walls of her makeshift prison had been enough to suck any courage she’d had left out of her. The well at least had been dry for the most part and it hadn’t rained, and she still had her coat. The temperature had started falling during the day though, and now she was shivering even though the well protected her from the wind.
It wouldn’t protect her from whatever was coming, though. She knew that. On the far side – the side she’d tried to avoid looking at, there was a broken fingernail, wedged in the crevice between the rocks. She thought about what to do when the man came for her. If he lowered a ladder, she could try to climb it and then run. She could try to fight, though she didn’t have much hope that she’d be able to hold up very long. Daisy had no illusions that her time to live was probably short. If she was in the hills, no one would find her in time to save her. It looked like the Duke luck had finally run dry.