Families Stick Together, pt. 7

by: Essy Jane

The next few weeks were filled with bed rest for Luke. Bo wouldn’t have it any other way. He knew the best way to get over injury was to sleep it off. Luke was pretty tired even if he didn’t want to admit it. Luke slept long periods of time and woke up even later.

Jose called home over and over again through the week trying to get a hold of his family but there was no answer. Every time he would call there would be no answer. Maybe Maria high tailed it out of there…but that was unlikely. She wasn’t willing to leave her home. Jose became scared and just hoped he was wrong but with his mother.

Luke was feeling much better than he did on that day. Then again, Luke looked horrid and beaten. He couldn’t think nor did he want to try. All that was on Luke’s mind was telling his son the truth and hoped that he wouldn’t have those men find him. He now felt better and wanted to see his son.

Jose came in with a mud track on his pants. He sat down in the hand carved wooden chair and looked at his father with his deep brown eyes. “You didn’t tell me that you were convicted of things,” Jose commented. He put his feet up on the chair and waited for an explanation.

“Jose, I know what you must be thinking of me right now,” Luke replied. Jose wanted to know what was going on. He wasn’t about to judge his father in any way but he had this desire to find out.

“I don’t think any less of you since the last time I talked to you. I would just like to know what the heck was going on. I can’t get a job so I quit college. I am going to be a farmer…at least there people aren’t asking you about your past. What made you so able to get a job?” Luke took a deep breath and pulled himself up. He looked at his son and wondered how to get the words out properly. The beginning was always the best place to start. That’s where Luke would start his story. As he talked the picture came out into his son’s mind.

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~Luke’s story~

Luke and Maria moved into a small apartment as Luke couldn’t afford the biggest and best houses on his salary. He tried to support Maria as best as he could. The minimum wage jobs weren’t cutting it. With a baby on the way, Luke searched hard for a good job. Times were hard. Maria was so sick and all. The doctor knew that she was having problems with her first child.

“Maria you have to stay in bed, the doctor said, minimal movement and that’s what we’re going to do,” Luke commented. She rubbed her stomach lightly. Luke was extremely concerned about his wife. With the way things were going she would feel a lot of pain.

“Without me working we’re going to be crushed,” Maria replied. She looked into her husband’s eyes. He knew that as well as she did.

“Look, I know that this is hard to say but listen. I haven’t provided you with enough and I need to get you and I more so we can have this baby. We have to do better. Maria, if you don’t have that rest you need then we might not make it.”

“We won’t make it if we don’t have more money.”

“We’ll make it; you have my word on it. It will just mean you will see me less.” Maria kissed her husband. She rubbed her hands down his back. “Okay, it means that my employer will have to add a room to where I am working so I can see you more.”

They both had a good laugh but it was true, this was going to be hard for both of them. Luke would have to buy Maria microwavable dinners to make sure she wouldn’t have to move at night. TV dinners cost more than if you made anything for yourself.

Just as Luke said he got another job and seeing Maria was hard to get in between the yawns. The places were only allowed to let Luke work 12 hours a week legally so of course he got more work. By day Luke worked two part time jobs and was just barley making ends meet. It wasn’t an easy life but then again, the young man was used to it.

He felt bad though, dragging Maria into it. Luke made his way out to look for jobs. With the criminal record sticking onto his back, Luke wouldn’t be able to sustain a good position. Sure he had the skills to be in many trades. He was a hard worker and could do many things. Luke just wasn’t allowed to do such things. As soon as the words “probation” and “Jail time” hit his lips, the young man was out of work.

Long days turned into tiring nights for this family. Money was spent on bills and such. Food and rent were high priorities as well. Luke opened the door and hung his coat on the nail in the wall. “Maria, I’m home,” Luke said cheerfully. Maria walked out slowly as she held onto the wall. It was almost like she was ready to fall over. Luke walked over towards his wife and helped her to the cheep metal chairs they had bought at a garage sale.

“Darling, if you keep up these long hours you’re going to kill yourself,” Maria commented. She stood up and went behind her husband rubbing his shoulders softly. “You need to rest my love.” Rest, Luke couldn’t even think of that word right now. How would things be ready for a baby? How could he get a crib? How could Luke afford more blankets and more sheets? He couldn’t…he wouldn’t even be able to afford to send them to school.

“I’ll be fine.”

“No you won’t Luke…you won’t be if you keep this up. You never have time for yourself anymore.”

“That’s not true, I get Sundays off.”

“Yeah sure and all you do on Sundays is go to church and sleep off the work that you did all week. You have no fun time for yourself.”

“I don’t have time to have fun…I need to work.”

“Does work replace yourself? Does work replace your needs?”

“No it doesn’t…Maria I need to do this.”

“For who, for you or for us, or is it for the baby?”

“I need a better job and it is out of my reach.”

“Ask Bo for money…he’ll give us some to tie us over.” Luke glared at his wife. He had too much pride in his heart to ask Bo and Nancy-Lou for help. “Sometimes we have to do things even though it pains us to do it.”

“I would rather eat dirt!”

“Luke…he’s your cousin.”

“He also just got married! You think I would be asking him for money?”

“Luke, you heard his letter. His crops are doing well. He even had enough money to plant some grass and flowers.”

“Maria, I can’t do that.”

“Bo can give us some money, you know he would willingly.”

“Us Dukes don’t ask for charity.”

“You Dukes also ask family for help!”

“This is the first time in his life where he has everything. Bo has always had this thing about being in trouble. He’s just getting his life together. I am not about to ask for money.”

“Maybe you don’t want to ruin your pride but I on the other hand don’t want us to end up on the street.” Luke sighed. He didn’t want to end up on the street either. What could he do? Nothing if he wanted to save himself. Maybe a goodnight sleep would do the trick. He and Maria fell asleep just as midnight struck.

The morning came faster than Luke hoped. The 5’o clock alarm buzzed and buzzed. It echoed through the room. Luke didn’t want to get up. Something about the morning seemed dreadful. Luke turned off the alarm and got dressed in his blue shirt and black pants. He put on his hat as a yawn was pushed out. Luke got a cup of coffee and gulped it down. He grabbed two pieces of bread out of the bag and headed out to work.

Luke walked at snail’s pace to the bus stop. He couldn’t concentrate on much. Luke was always worried about leaving Maria alone. They moved to New York six months ago. Houses there were quite expensive and all so of course a cheap apartment was all they could afford. Luke didn’t trust half of their neighbours nor did Maria. So, Luke couldn’t trust leaving her with anyone during the day.

He watched the scenery from the bus. Most of it was tall buildings. Some trees in the corners caught Luke’s eye as the bus continued to move. Adults walked down the streets most of them holding their cups of coffee. My goodness, this is crazy. I miss Hazzard. Everyone knows your name. Here, you’re lucky if you know one person’s name. What a busy city, Luke thought to himself as he continued. He pushed the button and got out of his seat. Another bus to wait for and he would be at work.

As Luke sat there calmly, a man snatched a woman’s purse. “Oh my goodness, somebody help me!” The lady exclaimed. Luke began to run after him as best as he could. His hair trailing with the wind as he continued to chase the man; he would get that guy. The man was younger than he was but Luke was still in great shape. Luke had him in a half nelson before he knew it.

“That there purse doesn’t belong to you! Now I suggest you don’t touch it again,” Luke commented. Two police men saw the whole thing happen and came to the rescue. As one cuffed the man, the other police officer was standing behind Luke. The cop had this over sized smile on his face.

“That was some good running,” The police officer commented.

“Yeah thanks, now can I get to work? My boss will fire me if I am late,” Luke replied.

“Well maybe you should soon. I know that the working man waits for no one. But you were a hero.”

“I ain’t a hero; I am doing what a good citizen would do. Now if you’ll excuse me time is money.”

“Now just hold on a second boy. What’s your rush? You need to write out a statement.”

“Give me a paper and I will write it out later. I promise. I need to get out of here.” The police man stared at Luke. He wanted something from him but what? Luke had a bad feeling about this guy…worse than before.

“What’s your name boy?”

“I am Luke Duke.”

“Have you ever thought of becoming a police officer?”

“Not really, I wouldn’t be able to get in anyway.”

“Why is that son?”

“I don’t have a good background…I have a criminal record. I would never get in sir.”

“What did you do?”

“That’s not important.” The police officer circled Luke for a few seconds and smiled mischievously. “What?”

“Look boy, if you come in three weeks and inquire about a job you’ll have one. Bring your record and I guarantee that you will get the job.” Luke wasn’t sure what he meant by that but of course he went to his self served gas station job. At one he would go home and change. Soon after that, Luke would go to the restaurant to work until 10 PM.

Three weeks went by faster than Luke could count. When he went to get his police records, there was nothing to get. They were wiped clean. Bo couldn’t believe it and neither could Luke. He talked to Rosco but he said he didn’t remember Luke ever having a record.

It was obvious that something made him change his mind. Rosco would have forgotten that Luke was in prison…not with how many tricks he had pulled on the lad. It wasn’t right…but how could Maria or himself complain? He got the job and now they had a good wage. They had enough money to put a down payment on his house. The mortgage was there but within years they would have it paid off.

Luke was good at his job. After being in Hazzard, he could tell a lot of things crooks were trying to pull. The job got easier and easier for Luke. Not a care in the world. Luke now had benefits, his wife was happy and life was good.

Well that is until some of his police buddies brought him into a meeting. “Luke, you are a wonderful police officer and such like we all knew you would be. There are some of us like you that have had bad records. It made it impossible to get a good job. I wasn’t one of those people but my buddy was. We made enough money to bribe people into changing his records. He was a good police officer and a great friend,” Ron said as he sat on the desk.

“You did that for me?” Luke asked.

“Well don’t be so surprised! Now, we did you a favour it’s your turn to do it for us. We need to get someone like you into the police service.”

“What are you asking me to do?”

“Help us commit a robbery.”

“That would be going against everything I was taught!”

“You did that the minute you joined the force! Now are you in it or not?” Luke thought about it for a long time and couldn’t think of doing such a thing. He couldn’t believe that they would ask him to even consider it. I can’t let this happen, I won’t let this happen. If they get away with this…if they do those men will be free to do it again, Luke thought to himself.

“I will do it.” Luke wasn’t about to do it but he would be able to get into the plan. If he was able to do that, Luke could get police there. They could wire the man and catch them in the act. Ron gave Luke instructions on how to get to the place and soon they parted.

Nightfall struck and Luke was ready. As the men all got to the bank, Luke made them reveal their plans. “How long has this been going on?” Luke asked. He straightened the wire on his chest.

“Luke, we have been doing this for five years. Robbing banks and mostly jewellery stores; we have done well for ourselves,” one of the men replied. Luke couldn’t believe it had been for that long.

“Well that’s not right.”

“Anything for a little extra cash…helps all of us out.” That was all the information the police needed before they surrounded the building.

“This is the police, come out with your hands up!” The man on the megaphone said. They all came out one at a time with their hands on their head. Luke turned out to be the hero.

“Luke, we have been trying to catch these thieves for so long. I am…so happy and further more, I am proud of you.” They were all arrested while Luke was on the outside. He was awarded for what he had done. The guilt and pain though carried with him…even after he had been a police officer for so long.

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“I had no idea. Now they’re after you?” Jose asked. Luke nodded his head slowly. He didn’t know what else to tell his son right then. All he knew was that he was endangering his son. He couldn’t tell the police, no one would believe him.

Besides bribing Rosco off, the men bribed all the lawmen. Rosco offered to fire Enos if he said a word about Luke being on probation. There was nothing Luke could do…nothing that he would do. Something about this whole situation brought him down.

“All we can do is wait here and see what happens I suppose,” Luke commented. Jose looked at him and wondered what happened to his Dad’s fighting spirit.

“So, we’re going to give up just like that? I thought we were Dukes, we fight the corrupt system—no matter which one it is.”

“Jose, it ain’t giving it up…its becoming something more. They did a favour for me. I don’t have a record. But it’s the fact that they want something back for it. I don’t know what to do.”

“Just don’t loose hope Dad, Tony and I need you still. Tony needs your gentle side and your listening skills. I am doing great here in Hazzard but I still need to talk to you once a week.”

“Thanks son…you make me feel like I am meant to be here.”

“You are welcome Daddy.”

“You haven’t called me Daddy in years.”

“There were a lot of things holding me back…barriers that I put in my life to stop myself from getting hurt. I couldn’t believe that it was me who was the problem…I didn’t know it was me who couldn’t figure it out. I know better now…I know how I hurt you and Mom for it.”

“Jose, after hearing all the wonderful things about you from Bo, I wondered if that was my son he was talking about. You have changed so much.”

“I hope that it was for the best. I love you Dad, I really do. Everything that happens is a miracle. You know…I never think back for a minute what it would be like if I was still in New York.”

“I am glad that boy I knew isn’t here in Hazzard. I am so proud of you.”

“If it wasn’t for you Daddy I would be in prison right now. I would still think that this place was nothing more than a hick town and I would be treating Jo Anna like a toy instead of a person.”

“Bo’s taught you a lot…he’s a lot like Uncle Jesse.” Luke thought about when Bo did all those rotten things to kids that were smaller than him at school. He handled it way better than Luke ever could. Bo seemed to have the same qualities. It was a good idea sending Jose here. But at times Luke wished that Jose was back here with him. His son was such an amazing child even with his problems.

“Dad, Bo is great but as I told you, he would never be able to replace you ever. You’re always going to be my father.”

“Thanks Jose, I needed that.” The two hugged each other. Jose turned on a little bit of music “Still the one” by Shania Twain. It seemed to relax Luke and he slowly nodded off along with Jose. It was going to be a good nap like no other.

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