Families Stick Together, pt. 8

by: Essy Jane

Meanwhile, at the Strate home, DJ was working the fields like he had always done. The afternoon was crisp and beautiful. The trees blew in the background as the clouds wandered in the deep blue sky. Denver-Jones Strate loved to farm but what he really wanted was to be a police officer like his father once was. He wanted the adventure and the fun. Mostly, DJ longed for the chance to help people. Sure he could help his father and mother but was that enough?

He walked in the house and raided the fridge instantly. DJ grabbed a pitcher on lemonade and put it on the table. He could just taste the lemons as the flavour filled his mouth. DJ loved lemonade, especially how Enos made it. It was like a special tradition passed down to him from Jesse senior. Enos took pride in having Jesse’s recipes. The man was so special in everyone’s lives.

DJ took out the meat, mayonnaise, mustard, cucumbers, tomatoes and ketchup. He began chopping up things and literally throwing it onto the bread. He put it all together and slapped it together. As DJ took a bite, the mustard and ketchup ran down his chin. He wiped it with his black button up shirt and smiled. “Dang that’s good,” DJ mumbled to himself. He took another bite and another. DJ gobbled the sandwich down. Roxanne walked in and looked at DJ. She giggled at the sight of his face. “What?”

“You look just like you did when you were little,” Roxanne commented.

“Well I am hungry and…”

“You don’t have to explain those sorts of things to your mother. Now, what were you planning on talking to me about?”

“Mom, I want to be a police officer…a deputy. I want to help people. I don’t know if Dad would want me to. I mean, he’s always telling me how crooked being a deputy was in Hazzard.”

“Well it is crooked. But you know what? You need to let your heart guide you. I love Enos very much and I know that he will support whatever decision you make. You know he will.”

“I know Mom…I think I will go and do all the testing before he finds out. He would be proud if I did it on my own compared to if I asked for his help.”

“He’ll be proud of you no matter what you do son. I know you’ll make the right decision.” Roxanne gave DJ a big hug and smiled. “You will always be my son.” DJ smiled at his mother and got into the 2004 Saturn. He loved that car because of its old features. DJ looked out into the deep blue sky and laughed. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. There was nothing like being with your dad in history.

As he finally made it over to the court house, he noticed Perry writing his usual tickets. “Oh I love it I love it, police work is in my life!” Perry exclaimed. He let out a Coltrane laugh and kept up his work.

DJ walked into the office where Sheriff Cletus Hogg was on the phone talking to his wife Maybelle. “You are too cute…no you are…come on Maybelle, you’re too wonderful. You’re gonna make that fried chicken right…well are ya? Awe, darling you are wonderful. I got someone in the courthouse, I think that he wants to talk to me…yeah I am an important man around here. I love you chicken legs…I am always going to be your bumble bee. Okay my belle. Bye, bye,” Cletus said. He hung up the phone and lay back in his chair. Something about that woman lit his heart on fire every time.

“Sheriff Hogg, I am DJ Strate, I want to be a deputy,” DJ commented. Cletus looked down upon the new man. DJ was a lot like his daddy, more honest than Abe Lincoln and twice as happy. He loved to be a part of the world and wanted to help in anyway he could. Unfortunately that would mean trouble for Cletus. Honesty in Hazzard’s police force wasn’t heard of since Enos left.

“You…a Strate…want to join our police force?”

“Sure, I mean if Daddy could do it I could too.”

“Well…you don’t want to join here I mean we have enough deputies.”

“No you don’t, you could never have enough deputies. I mean you’re always saying how those Duke boys are always getting away with stuff. That’s why you hire someone like me.” Cletus couldn’t argue with this guy. Being the son of Enos had this affect on a person.

“You know what? I will give you the course and if you can’t make it, you ain’t gonna be a deputy.”

“I can do it, I know I can.” Cletus knew that he would make it no problem. Boss Rosco wasn’t going to be too pleased with having an honest lawman. However, if Cletus didn’t hire him, he’d have Roxanne and Enos on his tail.

“I am sure you will.”

Two weeks rolled by fast and DJ was out on the streets of Hazzard in his new police uniform. Already he was waiting for Dukes to walk into his speed traps. However, the Duke boys were too smart for him. He would be a good lawman though. Honesty was needed…badly. Someone who could tell the truth in the police department; they hadn’t had that in a long time.

Jesse and Jose had things to do besides play with DJ Strate. They were out playing detective again. Sure, it wasn’t anything new but it would be fun. They had to look for particular men, the men that were after Luke. Something had to be done about those men and women. Luke was in big trouble and there was no way they could help unless they could find something.

Jesse didn’t know what he was looking for exactly and Jose was just as clueless. Luke was still too sick to do anything or to recall names. They would search though just the same. There had to be a clue that Jesse and Jose could find even with no leads. Something small or stupid…as Jose would say, “This is definitely a job for Jesse.”

“You think they’d be hiding somewhere obvious? They could be hiding in a weird place considering they don’t know Hazzard well,” Jesse commented.

“How would I know? I ain’t the brains here. Do you think that I have all the answers?” Jose snapped. He was worried about his father. Jose didn’t like leaving his dad alone too long even though Bo and Nancy were both there. Something about it wasn’t right.

Jose got a feeling in his gut that something was going to happen. Luke was going to be the one that was going to suffer from it. Those men were after his father. What were they waiting for though? Were they waiting for him to get better? They wanted him well…if that was the case then why?

“Well I was just asking you because I thought you would have some sort of ideas. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders. Then again, you’re a city boy, what do you know?” Jesse announced.

“I know lots!” Jose exclaimed.

“What are you hiding from me Jose? I know that look in your eyes. You’re thinking up a storm there.”

“I don’t know what to tell you…I keep running all of this through my head…I wonder why they haven’t gone after him yet.”

“All I have to say is that we have to move Cousin Luke soon before they do come after him. He needs to be in a place where he won’t be bothered.” Jesse thought about it and wondered where he could go. There was only one place that they could take him to and that would be to the caves. “Somewhere he could be by himself.”

“There’s no way I would leave him by himself.” Jesse knew somehow that Jose was going to say that. Jose had become over protective of his father since they found him like that. It was hard for the boy to come to terms with Luke being that hurt. “I would go with him.”

“Jose, I need you to find clues and such. Maybe Jo Anna could go with him.” Jose rolled his eyes and thought of how bored Jo would get after a few days being in the same spot. She wasn’t the type of person that would just watch kids. Jo Anna always had to take children she babysat out somewhere. If it was an evening job, Jo brought her diskmen and danced the whole time. Luke wouldn’t find her to be very good company.

“Well you think that Jo Anna would be smart enough to pay attention to him?”

“No…but she would try. Oh I know, maybe Daisy could.”

“Jesse, you have to be out of your mind! That’s the stupidest idea I have ever heard! Daisy has a life.”

“I know she does but Daisy’s also his cousin.”

“Dad wouldn’t go for that either. He needs someone around but I don’t know if he would accept Daisy taking time off. We couldn’t have gotten Jo anyway…I mean she has a job at the Boar’s Nest now.”

“When’d she do that?”

“A few weeks ago…she didn’t want to tell you about it because she knew you would stop her.”

“Dang straight I would have! They’re gonna make her wear them shorts! I don’t want her going near clothes like that. She hates being female…why would she take a job that requires her to do it full time?”

“Nothing like an over protective brother…look, she’s growing up. She’s not the Jo Anna that I met when I came to Hazzard. Jo is becoming quite the woman…she ain’t a girl anymore. You need to let her make her own decisions.”

“I don’t want to…she shouldn’t…”

“Jesse, that’s enough, she’s her own person. You let Jo do what she needs to do. Now can we get back to the problem at hand?” Jesse tried to remember what they had been talking about. It took him a second to realize that it was about Luke. “Now who is going to go with him?”

“I just figured it out, Bo…I mean those two ain’t seen each other in what six months and now they’re together again as cousins. They should have a chance to be together again. It would give them a chance to catch up on old times and what not.” Jose couldn’t believe it, Jesse finally had a good idea…there was something wrong with it though and even Jesse realized that. “Oh I know what you’re gonna say. I will take care of the farm.”

Jose nodded. Suddenly, out of the corner of Jesse’s eyes something popped out at him. It was the coffin factory. Boss Rosco made a new one but didn’t empty the old one. Why? Well that would have cost a pretty penny and the Boss was too cheap for something like that. Besides, the coffins there didn’t make much money anymore. Everyone was going for bigger and better.

Something was funny about this place though. Yep, there were cars all around it. Why would so many people be gathered in one place? Jesse pulled the General off and looked into the old building from afar. They both got out of the General and began to look around.

The only way to see what was going on without getting killed was up. Jesse looked around for any traces of rope. There was a thick brown one that Jose finally spotted. He looked around for a board or something to latch it on to. There it was, a large nail holding a horse shoe. That would have to do it…they hoped. Jose did a few knots and let it fly just getting it on the nail.

“Are you sure that’s sturdy enough?” Jesse asked.

“Of course I ain’t but let’s go anyway…I have a feeling that whatever clues we need to find we’ll find them here,” Jose replied.

“Well you’re going first then.”

“Me?”

“Yeah, you’re the lightest Jose.”

“Oh no, I have this muscular build and you have jell-o belly.”

“I do not and even if I did you would still be lighter than me, you’re shorter.”

“You had to bring that up now?”

“Yes I did, you’re short therefore you’re lighter.”

“Not funny Jesse, it ain’t my fault that I have my father’s genes.”

“Just get up there.” Jose began to climb and as he climbed further up the side of the building. He got up to the top and signalled Jesse to come up after him. Jesse just hoped that the thing wouldn’t break.

He climbed up further and further there was a funny sound as he continued. Jesse held his breath and blew it out hard. He continued climbing. Only a few more steps, Jesse thought to himself. As the rope snapped, Jose grabbed onto his cousin and pulled him up.

“Dad told me that the same thing happened to him once…weird,” Jesse whispered. They hung low making sure the people didn’t catch them.

“This is going to be great. We have almost everyone in his family…there’s one left and that one is in Hazzard. We get him and we have those Dukes under our hat. It’ll teach that Luke Duke who really is Boss,” One of the men said.

“You know, once he’s under our hats Aaron we’ll be rid of his name. We lost our jobs and our lives because of Luke. Though we won’t get it back, at least he can loose everything too,” one of the women said.

“Look Noel, we better get out and look for his son…Jose. He could be anywhere in Hazzard. I hear that he’s a chip off the old block, probation and all. An apple never falls far from the tree.”

“I am gonna stuff a tree right down his throat,” Jose whispered.

“Shhh, just listen will ya?” Jesse mumbled softly.

“Well should we feed our prisoners?” Noel asked.

“Sure,” Aaron replied. They walked over to one of the coffins and opened it. Inside was Maria struggling to get free. Noel laughed as she fed her nothing more than a piece of bread. Maria had a beer hat on her head which had two bottles of water in them. “Hello Mrs. Duke.

“Let me go please, why are you doing this?” Maria asked. She trembled as the cold air rushed into the newly lightened coffin. The tears ran down her sleek cheekbones as she continued to cry.

“Blame your husband.” Jose began to get off of the top level. He had to get his mother out. Jesse grabbed him by the collar without even looking at him. Jose struggled to get back off to help his mom but Jesse wouldn’t allow it. He knew that Jose would only be killed. It wasn’t gonna happen to his cousin folks. Nor would it happen to Maria. They had to think of a plan but what. “He’s the one that betrayed us. Luke ruined my life…we should never have accepted him into the force.”

“You betrayed yourself, you did wrong things.”

“Yeah, and those wrong things are what got your husband his job. Don’t deny that we helped you and your family. Your husband would still be working two jobs if it wasn’t for me.”

“You would have still had your job if you didn’t bribe people. Luke did what was right and I am proud of him for it. Even if I have to die for what he did so be it.”

“So be it Maria…you don’t have much else of a choice anyway. I wonder if your sons feel the same way.”

“Let Tony go!”

“I don’t think so. Next we’ll get Jose and then your family will finally get what you deserve.”

“Leave Jose alone, my sons didn’t do anything.”

“Didn’t they?”

“They weren’t even born when this happened.” Jose could see the desperation in his mother’s eyes. He reached out towards her though she couldn’t see him. Maria was a wonderful woman…she didn’t deserve all that kind of stuff.

Jose’s head filled with flashbacks. He could remember when Antonio was born. His brother’s small hand touched his. Maria smiled as baby Tony grabbed onto her hair. Those looks in his mother’s eyes were amazing. Now Jose could loose her? There was no way that he would let that happen to his own mother.

They opened the coffin beside Maria and there was Tony. He had gotten taller since Jose last saw him. His brother looked a bit wilder than he once was. “Let my Mother go!” Tony exclaimed.

“How sweet, a mother and son wanting to give up their lives for each other. It makes me want to throw up. You two are way too sappy. I didn’t see my husband until a year after I was released from prison and you know what he said to me? He wanted a divorce. Can you imagine how that feels Tony Duke? He gets my kids and I have nothing. Your father shouldn’t have anything either,” Noel commented.

“That was your fault. Mom is right; you should be ashamed of yourself. I wouldn’t even consider doing something like you did. I hope you both burn!” Tony exclaimed. Noel punched Tony in the face and he spit in her face.

“He’ll be in solitary for a while,” Aaron commented as he closed the coffin. Noel put a lock on his and Maria’s coffins. The rest of the men and women laughed and got into their cars. All of them were angered beyond belief. They would find that Jose Duke if it was the last thing they could do. Only five of them were left guarding the two Dukes.

“Okay, now we have to have a plan before we do anything. I think it would be for the best if we put Luke and you somewhere. Dad and I will go and get these guys,” Jesse whispered.

“No, my mother is here and I am going to get her out,” Jose whispered back.

“You don’t get it, if they find you; your carcass will be found in a coffin along with mine. Now, those people are gonna get bored of being there and they’re going to leave on person in charged.”

“Yes, and by the looks of things they all have radios.”

“Yeah that they do. Now, what we have to do is get them all out of here. I will do it…they have to know how you look. They don’t know me at all. I can freak them out by saying I am lost and hurt them.”

“Good plan genius…that won’t work. What if you get hurt? I would never forgive myself.”

“If you think I am gonna get hurt you’re crazy.”

“I am crazy…and you are gonna get hurt.” Well all the Duke Cousins could do was wait…wait until there weren’t many people there. How long would that take? Well sit around and find out.

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