Critical Decisions, ch. 6

by: Marty Chrisman

Luke awoke earlier than usual, not sure what had awakened him. Then he remembered. Today was the day. Today he was finally marrying Kelly. Smiling to himself, Luke climbed out of bed and went across the hall to take a shower. When he dressed and went downstairs, he found Uncle Jessie already up and in the kitchen making coffee.

“Morning.” Jessie said, sitting a cup of coffee on the table in front of Luke as he sat down in his usual spot.

“Good Morning.” Luke said with a grin.

“Looks like it’s gonna be a nice day for a wedding. You nervous?”

“Maybe a little.” Luke admitted. “I wish it was over with already.”

“It’ll pass. As soon as you see that little girl walking down the aisle toward you, you’ll forget about being nervous.”

Luke grinned. He wondered if Kelly was as nervous as he was this morning. Daisy had insisted that the two girls spend the night in town with Miz Tidsdale since it was bad luck for Luke to see Kelly before the wedding. Luke glanced at the clock above the kitchen stove. It was almost seven and the ceremony was at Ten. He’d better go get Bo up.

Bo was a sound sleeper. Luke was the light sleeper who woke up more easily. Uncle Jesse generally had Luke get Bo up because Bo tended to argue less with his older cousin than he did with anyone else about getting up in the mornings. As Luke entered the room he had shared with Bo for their whole lives, he suddenly realized that he wouldn’t be sharing a room with Bo anymore after today. He grinned to himself. He’d rather share a room with Kelly over Bo any day. The insurance company had finally settled on her claim for the damages to her house and the boys had been working on it, along with some of their friends for the past week so that it would be ready for Kelly and Luke to move back into after the wedding. They still had no idea who had vandalized the house or who had ran Luke off the road, but none of that mattered today. Luke figured they would probably never know.

“Hey, Bo” Luke said loudly, shaking his cousin’s shoulder “Time to get up.” Bo groaned and buried his face in the pillow. He mumbled something that sounded like “grow ray” Luke simply grinned, he knew that Bo was saying “Go away” He shook his shoulder a little harder this time and said in a firmer voice “Come on, Bo. It’s time to get up or I’m gonna get hitched without you.”

That served to wake Bo up enough that he rolled over onto his back and opened his eyes a crack. “What time is it?” he muttered, still not opening his eyes all the way.

“Time for you to get up.” Luke said, pulling off the blankets and tossing them on the floor.

“Hey!” Bo said, wide awake now. He grinned sheepishly and sat up on the edge of the bed, running his hand through his shaggy hair.

“Get dressed. I already took a shower so the bathroom’s all yours. Uncle Jesse already has coffee and breakfast ready.”

“Hey, Luke…” Bo said as Luke turned to leave

“Yeah?” Luke said, glancing back over his shoulder

“I guess I’m gonna have to get myself up from now on, huh?” Bo asked with a silly grin

“I guess so.” Luke said, grinning back.

“I’m gonna miss ya, cuz.”

“Hey, I’m not gonna be that far away.” Luke told him “Not this time.” Luke left the bedroom and went back downstairs to tell Jesse that Bo was up. Two hours later, the three Duke men left for the church in Hazzard. Jessie was already dressed in his good black suit that he normally saved for funerals. Bo and Luke waited until they got to the church to change into their suits. Both boys hated getting dressed up and always waited as long as they could before doing it.

As they waited for the signal that the ceremony was ready to begin, Jessie grinned wickedly and pulled a small silver flash from his inside suit pocket. “Just a little something to calm your nerves.” He said as he handed the flask to Luke. Luke smiled faintly, as he opened the flask and took a sip of Jessie’s finest, then passed the flask over to Bo. The moonshine burned like fire going down, exploding in the pit of Luke’s stomach, and then spreading out to fill his veins with liquid warmth. Jessie always had made the best sipping shine in three counties and he still could if he wanted to. Both of the boys knew the secret recipe but had made two promises to Jesse. Never to make another drop of shine and never to tell anyone the recipe.

Luke did feel considerably calmer when the preacher came to tell them that the service was ready to begin. Bo and Luke followed the preacher out into the main room, where the pews were filled with all the good folks in Hazzard County it seemed. Even Boss Hogg and his wife Lu Lu were there. Along with Roscoe and his mama. Jesse stayed behind since he would escorting Kelly down the aisle. Luke knew that Kelly, Daisy and the rest of the wedding party was somewhere in the church, waiting for their cue.

Luke and the rest of his family had attended this same church every Sunday since Luke could remember. Uncle Jesse had insisted on it. Daisy taught Sunday school and always helped out with the church socials and picnics. In this part of the south, the church provided most of the social activities for the community’s young people (at least the ones who weren’t old enough yet to drive or to hang out at the Boar’s Nest)

Luke took a deep breath to calm himself as the organ began to play the opening hymn. The four bridesmaids, friends of Kelly’s from school, started down the aisle. They were all dressed in long peach colored dresses with cowl necklines and were carrying bouquets of baby’s breath. They took their places on the left side of the alter. Karen Whitlock, a pretty redhead with freckles, smiled shyly at Bo, who favored her with a big grin. Luke turned his attention to the main entrance of the church as the organ began the first chords of the wedding march. Daisy came up the aisle first. Her dress was a darker peach color than the bridesmaids and she carried a bouquet of white carnations.

A few moments later, a collective gasp came from the crowd as they caught their first glimpse of the bride. Luke felt his heart jump into his throat. He had never seen Kelly looking more beautiful then she did at that moment. Uncle Jesse stood beside her, a proud smile plastered on his face as he began walking her down the aisle. Luke never took his eyes off of her as she walked down the aisle towards him.

When he reached the alter, Jesse gently took Kelly’s hand and put it in Luke’s and his bride stepped up beside him. Jesse stepped back to take his place beside Bo. The preacher stepped forward, the music stopped and the ceremony began. There were more then a few wet eyes in the congregation as they watched Luke marry Kelly. Jesse found himself remembering his own wedding to his darling Martha, his first and only love, so many years ago in this same church and in front of many of these same people.

Jesse felt the tears on his face as Kelly and Luke exchanged their vows, and then heard the preacher pronouncing them man and wife and then formally introducing them to the congregation. He had never been prouder than when he watched Luke take his bride by the hand and lead her down the aisle. They were followed by Jesse, Bo and Daisy, and finally the bridesmaids and the preacher. The ceremony concluded and the gathering of friends and family went outside where a receiving line consisting of the wedding party was waiting. The air was filled with laughter and best wishes as everyone congratulated the happy couple. Boss Hogg and Roscoe both made sure that they got their turn to kiss the bride.

After the wedding, there was a reception in the basement of the church. The ladies of the church had provided a buffet table with food prepared by the best cooks in the county. The punch had quickly been spiked from more than a few hidden flasks of shine.

As soon as possible, Kelly and Luke had both changed out of their wedding attire. Luke was more casually dressed in his usual boots, jeans and cotton shirt and Kelly was dressed in blue jeans and a yellow blouse.

The party lasted until late into the afternoon with everyone wanting to dance with the bride. (or the groom)  Both Kelly and Luke put up with a lot of good natured teasing about their wedding night. Boss Hogg and Roscoe got pretty tipsy on the punch and Luke had a nice buzz going himself. Bo snuck off early with Karen and Jesse enjoyed the attention of the older ladies who had an eye for the Duke patriarch. It was day that they would all remember. Unfortunately none of them had any idea that they would remember it for a completely different reason than was intended.

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