Don’t Be a Stranger

By Kate Matthews

Luke finished packing his dark brown suitcase, fastening the clasp that kept the
case from falling open. He placed the bag down on the floor, next to another, previously
packed. Before leaving, Luke took one last look around the room that he and his cousin
Bo had shared since childhood. He glanced around at the walls, filled with racing posters, a checkered flag, and photos; mostly of the boys at racing meets. Pleasant memories flooded Luke’s mind; memories of the first night he and Bo slept in this room together, through all the late nights they’d spend talking, until Jesse would come in and tell them to go to sleep. There were also times of tears, fears, and secrets that both boys would never dare tell anyone else. And of course the odd pillow fight.

Now it was time to leave. Luke was on his way to become a Smoke Jumper for the Forestry Service, it had been a decision made carefully. Though Daisy, Jesse, and Bo – especially – did not take to the idea, at first, they understood that Luke wanted to stretch his wings; so the family gave him their blessing. And today Luke Duke was leaving to start his new life. Jesse and Daisy decided to say their good-byes to Luke while still at the farm, then Bo would drive him, in the General Lee, to the Bus stop. For Jesse, saying good-bye to Luke reminded him of the day he’d seen his eldest nephew off to the Marines. Daisy felt the same way, except she wasn’t afraid this time, because Luke wasn’t going off to war.

Bo and Luke spoke very little, on the way to the Bus depot, mostly because they
had no idea of what to say to one another. Once at the depot, the boys sat in awkward
silence in the General. Luke finally said the first word. “Well, we’re here.”

Bo’s eyes went downcast for a moment, he dreaded this moment for days.”Yeah”
Bo sighed, “Looks like your bus is here to take you to Atlanta Airport.”

Luke bit his bottom lip. He too, dreaded this moment as well. “I guess I should get
a move-on. Don’t wanna miss my ride.”

Bo nodded, then both boys climbed out of the General at the same time, and
walked over to where Luke’s bus sat waiting.

“Luke,” Bo called out.

Luke hadn’t noticed that Bo had stopped walking, and turned to face his cousin.
Luke saw a loneliness in Bo’s deep blue eyes, an expression that mirrored in his own
lonliness. Except for the three years Luke served in the Marines, this would be the first
time the boys would be on their own. Around Hazzard, Bo and Luke Duke were like two
peas in a pod, and rarely was one seen without the other. The boys were close, as far as cousins go, but they were more than that, they were also brothers.

Luke slowly walked back over to his younger cousin and set his bags down for a
moment. They stood there, facing each other, knowing what the other was thinking
without saying a word. In an instant, both were locked together in a brotherly embrace.

“Take care of yourself, little cousin…” Luke whispered.

“I will…” Bo replied, letting unchecked tears slide down his face.

“You come out en’ visit some time.” Luke said, his voice beginning to falter.

“You too. You take care of your self, fightin’ them fires.” Bo said.

“You bet.” Luke let go of Bo and smiled. Luke’s eyes began to brim with tears as
he picked up his two bags and continued on his way to the bus.

“Don’t forget to write, Luke!” Bo called out, “En’ don’t forget to call, either.”

“Every day!” Luke called back “I promise!”

“I’ll hold you to that.” Bo laughed through his tears.

“Catch ya on the flip-side, cousin.” Luke said.

“Take care, Luke” Bo replied, “Don’t be a stranger.” Bo waved farewell to Luke
as he stepped up into the bus. Once Luke found his seat, he looked out his window to see Bo, and waved back.

The bus began to roll out of the depot, bound for Atlanta. Luke continued to wave
to Bo, and Bo did the same. Luke continued to look back until he could no longer see Bo, until the rolling hills of Hazzard disappeared behind him.

Bo continued to stare off in the direction Luke’s bus went, well after it had gone.
Bo stood there alone, without Luke, for the first time in over ten years; already he missed Luke dreadfully.

Finally, Bo turned around and headed back to where the General was parked. He
paused before climbing through the driver’s side window. The ride home, in the car that
he and Luke had built together, would be painfully lonely. Bo sighed, slid back into the
General, then made the journey back to the farm.

It was quiet around Hazzard, after Luke left. Rosco didn’t chase the Dukes as
much as he use to, and Boss didn’t always try to throw them in Jail, either. Bo never
drove the General as much as he use to, because it didn’t feel right with out Luke, sitting there in the passenger seat.

About three months after Luke left, Bo decided to go back into racing, full time,
on the NASCAR circuit. As always, the family supported Bo’s decision, and even Luke
gave his blessing when Bo wrote and told him.

The General Lee was put into retirement, and placed in Cooter’s care. And Boss
Hogg signed the necessary papers that allowed Bo to cross the county line, with out
violating his probation. Then Bo was on his way to Charlotte, North Carolina, to join up
with the circuit.

Bo and Luke always kept in touch, and visited each other, once in a while. Which
eased their separation a bit, but they always knew that their friendship would withstand
any amount of time and distance. And would continue to do so, for the rest of their days.

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