Don’t Try So Hard

By M.L. Shards


“Are you all right?” He asked looking over at the blond behind the wheel of the small yellow car. His shoulders were hunched and he stared straightforward, not really taking in their surroundings. He’d already barely avoiding getting rather intimate with a number of trees and was going much faster than normal, even for a Duke.

“I’m fine.” Was the response that resounded out from clenched teeth.

There was silence.

The car raced along. The darker haired cousin having to reach across to steer them clear of a large bush the car nearly crashed into.

“Dang it cuz’! Something is wrong! What is it?”

“Forget it. It’s not important.”

“Well it’s either that or hand over the keys, you’re going to get us killed.” Came the short response. “Coy, you’ve almost his every dang tree since we left Hazzard-”

“Does it bother you at all? The attention they get?” The blond demanded, lurching the car forwards with another burst of speed.

Vance found himself pressed flat against his seat and slightly unnerved. Sure, Coy would be thick at times, but he was a skilled driver and knew better than to go so fast in a car they barely knew, in rocky terrain. “Slow down!”

“We were gone for how long?”

Vance, attempted to straighten himself in as he did something he hadn’t done in a long time, fastened his seatbelt. “What?”

“How long?” His younger cousin snapped angrily, his knuckles turning white from gripping onto the steering wheel as tightly as he was.

“Uh… s-six years.” Vance stumbled as they hit a bump, causing him to smack his head against the roof. He winced in pain.

“Right, so we get a few hugs and stares and pats on the back, right? I mean, we get a nice welcome back, right?” Coy replied, turning the car sharply around a corner, causing the backend to fishtail. Vance’s eyes narrowed.

“Either slow down right now or I swear-” he threatened in hopes of breaking through the cloud of anger surrounding the fellow Duke.

“Now Bo and Luke, they leave for what? Less than a year?” Coy replied slowly, each word coated with fury. “They get a dang parade!”

The two Dukes had gotten a flat early on in their trip, like seemed so common for the two cousins. By the time they’d changed it and passed through town in hopes of saying their goodbyes to Cooter, Enos, and a few others, Enos was in the middle of announcing a mini parade for the other pair of Duke cousins. Coy and Vance had decided to just head off not wanting to ruin the celebration for their family and the residents of Hazzard by spoiling the moment.

“Coy, green isn’t a good colour on you.” Vance sighed.

“But doesn’t it annoy you?” Coy insisted in an attempt to get his cousin to understand. “I mean, I’ve heard Daisy talking about how much she was worried about our returin’ to the farm after Bo and Luke left. They were upset and they missed them, gave them a big send off, drove them to the airport and everythin’. Cooters even mentioned a small celebration at the Boar’s Nest… I guess… I mean we gave Boss and Rosco more trouble when we were younger than Bo and Luke ever did… We didn’t get a send off really, I mean, we didn’t get that from them, I mean when we left… we got a lunch and a kick out the door.”

Vance shook his head. “Coy, you need to calm down. You know things weren’t and aren’t like that, we need to go help our Aunt and yeah, maybe Bo and Luke have gotten a grander return than us, but they’ve come back from the NASCAR circuit, they’ve won major awards, they’re celebrating their accomplishments, now slow down before you get us killed.”

Coy looked down at the steering wheel. “Aren’t you ever tired of trying to do everything right and not being able to?”

Vance looked over at his younger cousin. He’d never seen him like this before, so upset and angry. He was just lashing out, and Vance had no real idea what triggered it. He doubted it was jealous over some words over Enos’s loud speaker. Coy wasn’t a nasty person, sure, he’d gotten into a lot of brawls when he was younger that he’d often have to lie his way out of, and there was one time he’d nearly burned down the barn, but that had been an accident…

“I mean, Rosco doesn’t even care enough to try and catch us in one last speed trap…” Coy added sadly.

“Coy Duke, stop it right now!” Vance snapped resisting the urge to grab onto the steering wheel. Coy drove fast when he was stressed, and right now, the country side of Hazzard was all a blur, he needed to get this out of him. It was too dangerous to wrestle the wheel from him now. “What’s really bothering you?”

“I don’t really like driving…”

Vance was confused and bewildered by this statement, though not quite sure how it pertained to the certain situation. “What?”

“It’s always made me nervous. But, I mean, Bo was a really good driver, and I always looked up to him, you know? So I got Uncle Jesse to teach me, and sometimes Bo and Luke would let me drive the General and… I’m a stock car tester, Vance. I’m a Bo clone. I’m a Bo clone that can’t even garner half the respect or attention that Bo can…” Coy admitted stepping down hard on the breaks. Vance was amazed neither got thrown through the windshield as the car’s wheels locked briefly, before the car abruptly stopped.

Vance let out a sigh, wrapping his arms around Coy’s shoulders. “Coy, you’re as much Bo as I am Luke.”

Coy looked at his cousin doubtfully, as if that statement had just made Coy’s point right there.

Vance rolled his eyes and let go. “Yes, we look alike, and yes, we think alike, but I’m not him. For one thing, I’m taller.” This brought a small smile to Coy’s face. “Coy, you’re no Bo. You can throw a punch ten times better and you’ve always had your share of callers and friends that Bo has had no connection to. If you’re not a racer at heart, you can always find something else to do. Sure, Luke and I were both in parts of the Marine, but that’s coincidence, nothing else.”

Coy let out a sad sigh. “If you say so Vance.”

“Sure I say so.”

Pressing his foot down on the gas pedal and continuing on the way to their Aunt’s farm, Coy glanced back behind them, in the direction of Hazzard. “Think anyone will miss us? I mean really Vance… now that Bo and Luke are back, what exactly are we? Before we were the replacements, now we’re just un-necessary.”

“Well, Daisy and Uncle Jesse will, and hopefully Ellie-Mae…” Vance replied, grinning. “Come on now Coy, maybe we won’t be missed as much as Bo and Luke were, but we’re not them anyways. Aunt Martha needs our help and we’re Dukes, we stick together, that’s what we do. Maybe half of Hazzard will forget we exist while others will pine over our absence just as much if not more than of Bo and Luke’s.”

Coy didn’t appear to take much comfort in this, but at least he wasn’t gripping onto the steering wheel as hard as he had been before. “I guess we should keep going.”

“Um… after your recent confession an’ all, you sure you don’t want me to drive, partner?”
Coy shook his head. “I’ll be fine a bit longer cuz’.” He took one back look in the direction of Hazzard, though any buildings were long out of sight.

Just like that, Coy and Vance Duke left, heading off for a new adventure, their own adventure; separate from that of Bo and Luke’s. They drove away, out of the lives but not out of all the hearts of the residents of Hazzard County .

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