by: Marty Chrisman
Luke Duke threw the last bale of hay down out of the loft and climbed down the ladder. He was a ruggedly handsome young man in his late twenties with brown hair and sapphire blue eyes. His body was firm, lean and muscular from his years of hard work on the farm where he lived with his two cousins, Daisy and Bo and his Uncle Jesse. Luke had only been four years old when he came to live with his aunt and uncle after the death of his parents in a fire.
Reaching the bottom of the ladder, he grabbed his shirt which was slung over the side of the one of the stalls in the barn and slipped it on. He buttoned it as he headed towards the house for something cold to drink.
The Duke farm had been in the family for five generations and the weather-beaten two story frame house had seen a lot of tears and a lot of happiness. It was the only home Luke could remember and the only one he’d ever wanted. He couldn’t imagine living anywhere besides Hazzard County.
His cousin, Bo was leaning over the engine of the General Lee, the modified stock car that the boys owned. The General was as well known as the boys were in Hazzard. With its distinctive orange paint job, the big 01 trimmed in back on both doors, and the rebel flag painted on the roof with the name General Lee painted above each door, the car was impossible to forget once you’d seen it. Bo straightened up and grinned at his older cousin. In his early twenties, Bo was the youngest of the three cousins. With his blonde hair and baby blue eyes he was considered a local heartthrob among the ladies. With his lean muscular build and slow easy smile, combined with his country boy charm, Bo had more girlfriends than he could handle.
“You done?” Bo asked Luke
“Yeah…you still wanna go fishing?”
“Just waiting on you, cuz.”
“I need something to drink first.” Luke told him, heading on towards the house. He stepped up onto the screened in back porch and went into the house through the back door. His uncle Jesse was sitting at the kitchen table sorting through the mail. Jesse was in his early sixties but acted like a man half that age. He had shaggy white hair and a full white beard with the same blue eyes as his nephews. Jesse’s word was law and was always obeyed, out of respect and love but always obeyed.
Luke’s cousin, Daisy was doing dishes. She was a pretty thing in her mid twenties with long reddish brown hair and big blue eyes. All the boys in Hazzard County adored Daisy but she had recently gotten engaged to Enos Strate, one of the local deputies in Hazzard County. Enos had been sweet on Daisy for years but only recently been able to make his feelings known. Nobody was surprised when Enos asked Daisy to marry him even though some of her ex-boyfriends were surprised that she said yes.
“You got a letter, Luke.” Jesse said holding out an envelope to his nephew “Don’t say who it’s from there’s no return address.”
Luke took the envelope and looked at it with a frown. “It’s postmarked Atlanta.” He said “Could be anybody.” He stuffed the letter in his shirt pocket and opened the refrigerator to help himself to a glass of ice cold lemonade.
“Maybe Luke has a secret admirer.” Daisy said with a teasing smile at her older cousin.
Luke ignored her good natured teasing as he drank his glass of lemonade. Sitting the glass down on the counter beside her, he said “There’s another glass for ya…”
“Dang you, Luke…..” Daisy said with a laugh, taking a playful swat at him with her dishtowel. “Next time I’ll make you do the dishes.” Luke laughed as he went back
outside so that him and Bo could go fishing.
Luke forgot all about the letter in his shirt pocket until he went into the bathroom that night to take a shower before going to bed. As he started to unbutton his shirt, he felt the paper in his pocket and remembered the letter Jesse had given him earlier. Curious, he put down the lid on the commode so he had a place to sit. Pulling the envelope out of his pocket, he looked at the handwriting. It didn’t look familiar but it did look like it had been written by a woman. Frowning slightly, he tore open the envelope and took out the sheet of paper it contained. He began to read:
I didn’t put my address on the envelope because I guess I was afraid that you would tear this letter up or throw away it away instead of reading it if you knew who it was from.
With his curiosity aroused by that simple line, he turned the letter over so he could read the signature. Shelby. Luke caught his breath sharply and felt his stomach do a flip flop. The letter was from Shelby Lynn. Luke had met Shelby around 7 years ago when he had been hurt on a hunting trip and Shelby and her brother, Cory, had helped to save his life. He had ran into her again accidentally almost a year ago and ironically she had ended up helping to save his life again, unfortunately, she disappeared again shortly after he was rescued from two men and a woman who were trying to kill him. Then just a little over 4 months ago, she had ended up back in his life again when her brother was arrested in connection with a drug operation in Hazzard County. Shelby had gotten drug into the whole mess and Luke and the family had helped to get her out of it. Then she had disappeared again and now she was writing him and he wasn’t really sure why.
He turned the page back over and continued reading:
I hope I’m wrong and that you will at least read this. To begin with I want you to know that I never meant to hurt you by leaving. So much happened with the drugs and Cory killing himself that I just needed time to sort things out and I had to do it alone.
And I also wasn’t sure about us or where our relationship might be headed. I told you once you were a dangerous man because women fell in love with men like you and that’s true. Because I did fall in love with you but I knew that you weren’t ready for a more serious relationship than what we had because you still weren’t over Kelly. And to be honest, I’m not sure you ever will be.
But something has come up that I need to talk to you about. It’s important and I just hope that you will agree to at least meet me somewhere so we can talk. I’m staying with some friends in Atlanta. My phone number is 566-555-9013.
Luke slowly folded the letter and put it back into the envelope. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. There was a part of him that wanted to see her and talk to her maybe even try to convince her to come back to Hazzard but there was another part of him that was still hurt that she had left the way she had in the first place without even talking to him first. Because in spite of what she had said in her letter, he had been falling in love with her too something he thought he would never be able to do again.