“Desperado” Dedicated to my cowboy….who ever he maybe.
Why don’t you come to your senses
Ben out ridin’ fences, for so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
But I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow
Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
But it seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones you can’t get
Oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home
And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walkin’ through this world all alone
Don’t your feet get cold in the wintertime
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the nighttime from the day
And you’re losin’ all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feelin’ goes away
Why don’t you come to your senses
Come down from those fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, let somebody love you
You better let somebody love you
Before it’s too late……..
“Shut up or I’ll kick your ass!” A deep angry voice shook the kitchen of the Dukes old farm house.
“I’m your father boy, dont you ever tell me to shut up!” Bo Duke’s destinctive voice rattled the windows an echoed through the house.
“I’m 21 years old I’ll say or do what ever the hell I please!” Chet Duke shouted back at his father his mismatched eyes glaring, his black goatee twicthing around his mouth with anger.
“Get out!” Bo Duke pointed towards the back door of the farm house, his back strate, he stood tall an wise with age. His face tight with anger at his son who seemed to have no respect for the roof that he lived under an didnt seem to care about his responsibilities.
“No!” The dark haired young Duke said angerly standing his ground against his older blonde haired father.
“Go on! Get out! You dont wanna work for your keep here then get out!” Bo Duke said stepping forward to usher his son towards the kitchen door.
“Fine you dont want me here!” Chet halted his words abrutly picking up his black stetson and his sky blue long sleeved shirt, he tucked the black hat down on his head hard glaring at his father as he turned for the door. “The hell with you old man!” He said opening the kitchen door an slamming it behind himself.
The plates and cups in the cupbords rattled and shook threatening to break into a million pieces in there holding places as the walls of the old farm house shook from the slammed door. Bo Duke shook his head and sat back down at the kitchen table with his cup of coffee just pearing into the cup at the dark brown liquid wondering where he had gone wrong in raising sucha son. Bo thought to himself, Breyer, Chet’s twin brother had turned out alright and so much easier to get along with, he simply did what he was asked without question an went on his merry way.
But not Chet, no he had to fight an make life difficult for himself and everyone around him every step of the way, and when it came down to lessons needing be learned he learned them the hardest way possible. Bo shook his fist at the door that his son had just disapeared through, he had no idea what to do with that boy. He had considered sending him away to boot camp, but at the age of 21 Bo knew he couldnt force his son to do what he didnt want to. He had tried to persway Chet to enroll in the Army for his own good, but Chet had thrown it back in his face an it had ended in a shouting match much like this one.
Meanwhile Chet trudged off angerly towards the woods on the Duke farm property, his white car lay parked in Cooters garage in town its tranny completely shot. The new tranny wouldnt come in for a hole week an he would be without a car until then. So he walked through the woods cussing his father and cussing about the arguement that they had just had. A crack of thunder smashed through the sky and a streak of lightening crossed it with the blink of an eye then disapeared. A warm pouring rain began to fall from the cloudy sky, a storm was slowly making its way into the morning, Chet groaned aloud, perfect time for a storm. How perfect it was that the wether tended to change to fit the occasion.
He continued to walk, more hastly now his anger still fresh, he turned his body from side to side dodging trees and stepping over the thick flooring of the dense G.A. forest. Water poured from the brim of his black stetson, his cloths completely soaked in the rain water. Suddenly without warning the ground under his feet was gone and he began to plung deep into the ground. Everything around him going completely dark all of a sudden as if he were unconcious, but it was painless.
Chet awoke, simply opening his eyes slowly an looking around with out moving his body. His head rested on a firm surface that was dark colored, he lay done his side half covered up to his sholders in a warm blanket, the first rays of bright morning sunlight hit Chet’s mismatched eyes and he blinked them not believing the sight that came to his eyes. His head lay on a dark brown leather saddle and a tall redish colored horse stood a few yards away munching grass freely.
A loud rumbling sound came to Chets ears and he got to his feet in a flash saddle in hand, in moments he was slinging it over the back of the tall red horse he knew by name as simply ‘Red’. He tightened the cinch on the horse quickly and slid the bridle on the horse, being gental with the bit.
“Come on Red that dont sound like a good report.” Chet said patting a hand on the geldings thick neck as he loosened his guns on each hip in his belt and climbed into the saddle.
He clicked in the horses ear an the long legged gelding sprinted forward into a fast canter just as the posse rimmed the edge of the trees acrossed the field that Chet was just passing out of. Gun shots rang out, bullets spraying wood chips from the near by trees. Chet hugged his horse urging it on forward an leaning over the horses neck as he weaved through the trees. He rode long an hard through the woods for nearly 2 miles until he came upon a wide creek running through it, a perfect get away plan. The posse that as tracking him would loose his tracks in the water and be off his tail long enough for him to get a distance away.
Chet leaned back in the saddle an gave the long legged horse his head as they jogged down the incline of the creek an turned into the water an took up a lengthy canter. The ankle deep water splashed up around Red’s legs and sprayed his firery colored coat.
“Come on hoss we almost lost them.” Chet chanted in the horses ears an the horse turned his ears back to listen an continued to carry a lengthy pace for another mile.
After another mile or so of ridding in the creek Chet slowed to a walk and turned for a moment in the middle of the water to look back the way that had came. There was know sign of the posse, they had to be far behind by now if they hadnt given up. Chet just sat on his heaving horse for a moment allowing Red to dip his head an plung his muzzle into the water and drink hungerly from the cool creek. Chet also leaned down from his saddle uncapping his canteen and letting the slow, cold moving water fill it to the brim. He brought it to his lips calmly and took a long draw from it, the water felt so good filling his hot body, the sun shined in hard an long on his sholders from the peeks of the trys over head.
Refreshed to an extent Red raised his head and listened twiching his ears back and forth awaiting Chet to give his next signal. Again Chet refilled his canteen an capped it, allowing it to hang by its wide sholder strap around the saddle horn as he turned the horse towards home and kneed him up in that direction.
“Good job big fellow, once again we have escaped.” The dark haired Duke laughed to himself without relising it he brushed his hands arcossed his tied down colts that lay slung low on each hip.
Reins still in hand he took up a road towards home, everyone would exspect him to ride on and hide in capital city Atlanta. But not this time, Chet circled back and got on the main rode back towards the small town of Hazzard where he had grown up and where he had earned his title as an outlaw. Just the same he thought, it was still the place he called home an he continued riding along sitting to the gental steps of his horses feet, listing tiredly to the rythmn of the horses shoed feet.
It would be just after dark when Chet rode into town, he knew the town sherif would shoot and kill him on site an so wound anyone of his deputies. He came in the back way, veering away from the main street and ridding to the rear of all the major buildings, the new Boars Nest saloone, the barber, a carpenter shop, a black smith and a supply store. Chet halted his horse an turned in the saddle an untying the flap of his saddle bag an taking a random check of his supplies. No coffee at all, no jerked beef, only alittle flower and some corn meal.
“We best make our first stop at the supply store horse, get you some oats before ya grow thin in the skin on me.” The young Duke boys deep voice spoke to his steed that perked his ears an nickered loudly at the mention of sweet oats.
Although this town was his home he was not welcomed at that, wanted by the law for countless train robberies and murder that he could not be exactly convicted of. Chet an his horse continued on towards the supply store, going down an alley and then crossing the main street an passing into another alleyway. He stopped in the alley where there was know hitching rail an dismounted leaving his horses reins drapped over the animals neck. It had become a habbit to not tie his horse who would not wander anyway, it made for a fast get away an he never had to worry about anyone stealing the red gelding for the horse would not allow anyone to get near him.
“Dont go far Red.” Chet said over his sholder to the horse even though he knew he wouldnt.
He walked out of the alley and stepped up the stairs onto the wooden boardwalk, his small spurs making a slight jingle, his black hat tipped low to cover his half blind mismatched eyes. His long chocolate colored duster whisping acrossed the wooden planks of the boardwalk as he took long strides his guns almost hidden at his hips if not for the raw hide tied around each of his thighs. He kept his eyes low hopping to go unknoticed, some people glanced at him and others hurried out of his way, his chaps branded with dust and his blue shirt faded from long travel under the sun.
The good people of Hazzard conciously knew a gun fighter when they saw one an stepped out of the way. The Duke name was known well to all who lived in Hazzard, known as honest hard working country folk who never harmed the innocent and occasionally brought the guilty to justice. An all who knew the Dukes knew these facts, but if they knew the Dukes then they knew of the one black sheep of the family. Chet Duke, one of Bo Dukes twin boys gone sour, uncontrolable and lethely armed with the fast slinging gun exsperience learnt by all the Dukes, man or women. An it had to be the sour one in the family who had the natural talent for the fast draw an precisely accurate aim that made him deadly.
Chet entered the store, the door propped open to allow people to come and go freely and the cool breeze to flow in. The clerk that Chet had known since a boy glanced at him on his eneterance an Chet returned his glance with a slight nod an awaited the clerk to finish with his other customers. He ventured to the back of the store an gazed over the merchandise, guns in an incasement, saddles and bridles shimmering with new silver and the window ledge scatered with childrens toys. All awhile he listened to the customers talking to one another and the clerk who was also the owner of the store. The womens fancy pointed shoes tapped lightly on the worn wooden floor of the store and the mens heavy boots echoed on there enterence and exit.
When all the customers seemed to have left Chet returned to the front of the store an relaxed leaning on the counter and greeting his old friend.
“Hows it goin Joey?” Chet said shaking the old cattlemans hand as he leaned against the counter and looked out through the open door at the people in the street.
The rough looking old cattleman also leaned forward on the counter to better speek and hear the singled out Duke boy.
“I wasnt sure how long it would be until I saw you again Chet, your a sight for soar eyes boy.” Joey looked Chet up and down for a moment noting the amount of facial hair he wore in the style of a perfectly groomed goatee an eyes that he would never forget.
“It is good to see a friendly face Joey, I wont lie to you there. Too many months on the trail my friend.” Chet replied still stairing out at the street, Joey was the only one he allowed to call him ‘boy’ an the wise old man had long since earned that right.
“Hows you customs holding up?”
“Good, very good.”
Before the old man could blink he was stairing down the barrel of a custom cast Colt .45. A Colt so perfectly made that it gripped the hand of his beholder, in this case the strong long fingered hand of the dark haired young Duke boy. He layed the guns down on the counter to show there natural and proper wear appearing faintly.
“Been busy I hear.” The old man took the guns that he had hand made into his strong hand and examined it closely. “Still as rugged and imperfect as the day I cast it.” He said giving Chet a wink.
“Nah, been around. But not too busy.” Chet lied jokingly to his friend knowing that he had herd the news of the robberies.
“You lyin coyote.” Joey said elbowing the lean sholder.
Chet gave his famous half grin an leaned slightly away from the counter digging into his deep duster pocket and with drawing a gold watch with a long chain on it. He placed it gentally into the open hand of the old man, he always brought Joey something when he came into town, his vists to town were slowly growing fewer in numbers and longer apart.
“Your too kind ol boy.” Joey gazed over the gold watch marveling at its purity then placed it into his pocket hooking the clip on the end of the chain to his vest an allowing it to hang out showy like. “Thank you, really thank you.”
Unallowing the thanks from his old friend Chet stood up straitening his back and with drawing another prized watch from his pocket, like the other he placed this one in his old friends hand. His friend looked at him cock-eyed, unsure what to say to not one but two watches.
“That one is for….” Chet paused he had always wanted to present a gift of purity to his father, but his father would not see him eye to eye.
Joey placed his hand on Chets sholder, he knew who the watch was for an he placed it into his other vest pocket not allowing it to show. The conversation grew silent for a few long moments, the sun shifted an flickered as people passed by the door and a breeze blew in catching Chet and ol Joey in the moment.
“You need the usual?” Joey asked.
“Yeah double up on the beef though and the tobbaco, I run outta stuffin before I do papers.” Chet said refering to the ciggaretts that he smoked.
He began to roll one as naturally as saddling his horse everyday, an it wasnt until he struck the match and peared up to the door that he relised he had done so. The match burned in his fingers slowly, the ciggarette pressed between his lips and his eyes staired, trained on a figure passing by on the board walk acrossed the street. The flame of the match reached Chet’s fingers and he swore as he shook the tiny flame out his smoke long since lit.
Joey brought the supplies to the counter and handed them over to his friend making sure that everything the Duke boy needed was all there and acounted for. Chet payed his friend with a large bill and left him to keep the difference.
“Save it fer the day I dont have it, or the day you buy a ticket to watch me be hanged.” Chet joked and turned away from his old friend, his supplies in hand. They had once come to the agreement that there goodbyes would always be silent and that agreement stood as a promise forever.
The sunshine hit Chet’s sholders once again as he stepped down the boardwalk still glancing from time to time at the figure now crossing the main street. He appraoched his horse packing the supplies into his saddle bag alittle hastly, his smoldering ciggarette pressed between his lips. Finished he returned to the corner of the alley an leaned against the brick building of the supply store enjoying the shade an knowing that the person he had been eyeing would soon pass bye at any moment.
Chet had just taken a short drag on his ciggarette when a set of tan boots that he recognised from his teen years stepped down the slopping steps of the boardwalk. Releasing his exhale of smoke the dark haired Duke boy grined, his dark goatee curving around his jaw.
“Long time know see brother.” His deep voice emphasised the word brother making sure it stuck in the air lingering like his smoke rings.
Breyer Duke, Chet’s twin brother stoped in his tracks and looked at his twin slightly shocked to see him and see him alive. The non-identical twins staired at each other for a moment and Chet straitened up his posture flicking his smoke away as his brother steped down off the stairs.
“Oh, if it isnt my outlaw brother, still alive I see.” Breyer said with a sarcastic nich in his voice.
“Save it. I didnt come here to see you.” Chet said sneering, his own words hard and sharp cutting like a knife into a ripe fruit freshly plucked.
Breyer shook his head and continued on his way, he didnt want to have anything to do with his twin brother just like the rest of his family didnt. Chet knew where Breyer was headed off to adn he could only wonder if his father was there to, but fearlessly he follow a few steps behind him. They crossed the opening end of the alley and broaded the next ranger of board walk, this part of the board walk stood in front of the Boars Nest Saloon.
Chets heavy booted feet echoed the steps of his brothers feet with a dull pounding sound that echoed with every step. Breyer disapeared through the bat wing doors and Chet proceeded to follow pausing for a moment at the doors and thinking for a second. Chances were his father was back at the farm with his mother and the rest of his family, his brother was only in town for his mothers weekly list of supplies. Only person he would have to deal with is his second cousin, Daisy Duke. Known to all as the pretty girl in town, an known to Chet as another Duke that didnt care to have him as family.
He shrugged and passed through the bat wing doors and into the bar room, a new piano playing in the corner by the stairs that curled up to the belcony. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled with awarness as he paused just inside the doors for only the slightest second then continued to his old table at the front of the in the corner. Heads raised from Poker and games a Faro in progress and staired for a moment at Chet as he passed through quickly an took his seat disapearing into the crowd of other drinkers. Everyone went back to what they were doing, but the drinks and players had not been the only ones to knotice Chet’s enterance.
Daisy Duke wouldnt have missed that jet black stetson for anything and she knew who had just stepped through those doors behind her cousin Breyer. She continued with her work waiting tables, bringing full glasses of cold beer to men and picking up the empty glasses. Being the only waiter on the shift Daisy could not ignor Chet, an after one trip behind the bar she approached him hesitantly.
Chet had taken his seat at the round table in the corner of the room making sure his hat tipped forward shading his eyes so that he could see the room but the room could not make him out. He could see his cousin approaching out of the corner of his eye as he looked at the food menu setting on the table, he knew how much Daisy truely despised him. Her nerviousness was like a perfume wiffing its way through the air and lingering around her.
“What can I get you?” She said strait out to him her voice barely holding out.
“Shot of whiskey a beer and….” His voice lingered as he tilted his head back slightly to look her in the eye, silence settled between them and Daisy’s heart raced in her chest.
“And a friendly hello.” Chet repied, his voice disapearing into the loud chatter of the people around them.
Daisy pretended she hadn’t herd his last part as she took a mug of bear from the tray that she held at sholder length and turned away from his to get his oder of whiskey from the bar. She returned with a glass of whiskey and set it down on the table in front of him. Slightly irratated Chet reached out with his let hand and grasped Daisy’s wrist as she set the glass of whiskey down. His grasp was firm but gentally, unintended to inflick pain.
“Whats wrong with greeting your cousin with a hello?” He asked not releasing her.
Daisy gasped as he grabbed her wrist btu didnt try to pull away. “Hello!” She said her voice a shudders of fear.
Nodding with satisfaction Chet released her an took hold of the shot glass of whiskey, at first he sipped it an then washed it all back at once feeling it burn down into his stomach. Apon being released Daisy hurried away returning to her job an staying well away from her outlaw cousin. Chet shook his head, he would never truely harm anyone in his family, he respected them that much atleast and a part of him longed to be cared for by his family.
He settled back in his chair, a copy of the Hazzard Gazzette lay near by and he picked it up and began to read the local news. Times were changing Chet could see by the looks of the paper, an he fell into the news ignoring the world around him an occasionally sipping his bear.
Meanwhile, a pair of buckskin horses rode into town side by side, Bo and Luke Duke stopped there horses out front of the Saloon and dismounted. They slung there reins over the hitching rail and stepped up into the bordwalk preparing to enter the Saloon.
“We should have more then enough corn to….” Luke paused before stepping through the bat wing doors.
The flick of a horses red tail at the edge of the alley had caught his eye and he stepped arcossed the bord walk waving Bo on behind him. Luke stoped at the corner of the build and leaned against it stairing at the tail red gelding who stood freely there snoozing in the shade of the building.
“Now what do you make of that Bo?” Luke said glancing at his cousin.
Bo’s eyebrows darkened and lowered over his brow and his blue eyes glared at the fimiliar red gelding, he knew who the horse belonged to. He turned away from Luke and stepped through the bat wing doors hastly with quick steps of anger. With long strides and Luke now on his heals he appraoched daisy and questioned her emeditly.
“Have you….” He hadnt even gotten all his words out when Daisy pointed a shaky finger ot the corner of the room at the dark figure that resembled her cousin.
Luke glanced behind them at the figure then turned back to her his own facial exspression written in anger. The older Dukes took the room of people into consideration and the threat that sat in the corner, Bo rested a reasureing hand on her sholder.
“Everything will be ok Daisy. We wont let him hurt ya.” Bo said taking a seat at the bar, for now Chet was of no threat.
Bo’s thoughts were cut short as a shimmering star stepped through the bat wing doors and paused there his hands resting on his hips. Rosco P. Coltrane, the sheriff of the town of Hazzard breezed in taking an eye full of the hole room, glancing over everyone even the dark figure who sat in the corner the newspaper covering his face.
The Duke’s breaths caught in there throat, the sherif had spotted Chet and things didnt look good. They feared for the aged sherif, they had seen Chet in action, when riled and angery Chet simply spelt death.
Chet had also seen the sherif come in from under the brim of his hat and behind the news paper, he suddenly wished he had simply picked up his supples and left Hazzard. He listened to the sherif’s boots on the floor as they grew nearer, Chet didnt move, the guns in there holsters on his hips were already loose. Nearer and nearer the sherif grew, he seemed bold and yet very nervous, the smell of his persperation could be smelt in the grim air.
“Dont move Chet Duke! I’ve got ya right where I want ya, jit.” The Sheriff stoped a few feet from the table where Chet sat motionless, the news paper still steady in his hands and covering his face.
The other Dukes watched from the end of the bar, Daisy stood between Bo and Luke fearfully. Not getting a response from the young Duke Rosco took and shaky step forward. That last step was what Chet had been waiting for, he lept to his feet his chair tipping back and clanging to the floor.
Before anyone could gasp or move a muscle both of Chet’s hands came up from his hips, his custom colts idling at chest height. His left hand colt pointed at the chest of the sherif and his right hand pointed at the chets of his father who stood by the bar, he knew that if one of them were gonna move to stop him it would be his father. Tipping his head up alittle so that his eyes met that of the sheriffs he staired the elder man in the eye only glancing at his father momentarly.
“Come on Rosco….dont do anything stupid.” Chet said his voice cold and dangerous.
Even at Chet’s warning the sheriff dropped his stunned hands toward his holster that lay on his right hip, moving slowly looking the young outlaw in the eye.
“Dont do it…. I dont wanna add your name to my list Rosco.” Chet paused watching the sherifs hands halt there slow movement. “You know how many people I have killed this week?”
A heavy drop of sweat ran down the sherifs wrinkled face and he shook his head careful not to move his hands.
“No one.” Chet replied. “Lets keep it that way huh? I’ll leave here peacefully, an you and my father, brother and cousins can all go home happly. I’m sure your kin would be pleased to see you again alive. I dont want to kill you old man.”
Chet moved slowly towards the sheriff flicking his gun, motioning for him to back up towards the bar.
“Just keep your hands where there at and back up towards my kin and I’ll slip outta here silently and peacefully.”
With know other choice the sheriff did as he was told and backed up towards the bar near the other Dukes, an Chet side stepped towards the door his guns still held out at arms length. For the first time since he had drawn he took in the stairs of the other people in the room, all of them frozen where they set. Chet continued towards the door backing out slowly, his eyes never leaving his father and the sheriff. He placed his right hand colt in its holster and gave a low whistle as he backed out onto the bordwalk, Red came around the side of the building stopping by Chet out front.
“Do yourself a favor…..dont follow me.” He said and stepped into his saddle pulling him self up and gathering the reins while placing his gun back in his holster.
Chet urged the horse on into a quick footed canter once again and veered down the alley and went the opposite way he had come in. It was an alternate exit out of town, he didnt look back to see if anyone was following him, he knew they wouldnt, all they cared was that he was gone. He would make a quick stop at the Duke farm to see his mother, wether she cared about him or not he needed to see her for his own soul.
After visiting with his mother he would return to Atlanta where his friends were laying low and waiting for him to return in a day or so to knock off the Atlanta train carrying passengers and a valt of money. Chet continued on towards his old home, the Duke farm, the place that he had grown up and the place of his birth. He kept Red at a steady canter for half a mile, then slowed him down to a jog for a mile or so and then allowed the horse a breather, walking him the rest of the way.
He rode into the Duke farm yard slowly and caustiously, he didnt know who would be there to greet him, he hoped that it would just be his mother. Gaby Duke, Bo Dukes wife and Chet’s mother heard the sound of an approaching rider and went to the front screen door to investigate. She hadnt seen her son in nearly two years, but there was know mistaking that pure black stetson and that red gelding. The firery long legged horse that her and Bo had given to him on his 16th birthday, she remembered it as clear as if it was yesterday. Her son had been so happy that day, she would never forget the happier times for there family and would cherish them more as he grew further away.
Gaby gazed out at her twenty one year old son, an Chet stood there next to his red horse, long lether reins hanging from his hand, an his tall lean body covered in dust from the trail he’d been ridding. He looked like a man standing out there dressed in dark buck skin lethers, a gun hanging from each hip and his black stetson tipped forward so that his eyes couldnt be seen but his goatee could. Gaby hadnt ever seen him with a goatee, it gave him an older appearence that she was sure if she wasnt his mother she wouldnt have reconised him.
“What are you doing here?” She asked in a cool tone suddenly remembering all the grief he had brought to there family and how dishonored he was.
“Hey mamma.” Chet replied letting the reins drop from his hand as he approached the porch slowly, he rested one booted foot on the lower step and bent forward not feeling worthy of coming any closer.
“Dont you ‘hi’ mamma me boy. If you father catches you here he’ll call the sheriff and the sheriff ‘ll…” Gaby stepped out on to the poarch now her voice breaking and the flood gates opening.
The screen door slamed hard behind her, Chet mounted the steps and stood on the top one, his mother came out to him tears breaking from her eyes as she hesitantly touched his face with one hand at first. Emeditly he could feel that old motherly comfort in her touch and he was forced to hold back his own burning tears. He swallowed the knote in his throat and looked into his mothers tear reddened eyes and unintentionaly begging for forgivness.
“Its so good….to see you Chet.” Gaby hugged him like a mother hen being reunited with her chicks.
“Its good to see you too ma.” He hugged her back hardly able to realise it was his mothers arms again, just like when he was a boy.
“Come on, lets get outta this heat.”
Chet followed his mother into the old farm house stopping for a moment to gaze out acrossed the corn feilds and glance over his horse as he turn and went inside. Feeling as though he had just come in from a hard days work in the feild with his brother and father he plopped down in the rocking chair. His mother disapeared into the kitchen then returned moments later with an ice cold glass of lemonade. She handed it to him and took a seat in the living room in a homade chair that sat in the corner of the room.
“How you been ma?”
“Oh, alright I guess. I had alittle cold last week I’m still fighting but I’m doing alright.” She paused taking a swallow of her own drink. “I’ve herd roomers about you.”
Chet gave his famouse side ways grin and got up from the rocking chair his drink in hand, he walked around the living room of the old farm house, his boots making a dull knock on the wooden floors withe every one of his long strided steps.
“I been alright, I have been to New York and California in the past two years. An I spent last winter in Texsas on a cow nurse drive.”
“An ya robbed the train in Amarillo in March.”
“Yeah, an I knocked off the a Texsas Ranger pay roll that came in on a stage a week before.”
Gaby only shook her head, she had purposely not mentioned the stage coach that had been reported robbed. The team master of the stage and its three passengers had all been murdered in cold blood by the robber, a man wearing a pure black stetson, mismatched eyes and set a stride a long legged red gelding.
“So what are you doing back in Hazzard? You sound like your doing just fine.”
“Just needed to come back to my roots for awhile, but I aint st….” Chet froze in place.
A high pitched bugal call came from his horse and the sound of Red snorting nervously. Chet was on his feet and headed for the door in mear seconds, Gaby followed close behind an stopped in the front door way. Red stood in the yard pawing the ground and throwing his head to the air, his notrils flared and his ears faned back an forth nervously. Chet stood on the poarch and listened, hushing the horse for a moment, in the distance he could hear the sound of a rider approaching at what sounded like a high stepped canter.
“What is it Chet?”
“Someones coming.” Chet shushed his mother calmly listening closer.
He strut out into the yard and gathered the reins of his own horse, it was only a single rider and the rythmn of the hoof beats was off. It didnt sound like that of General or Lee or Moonlight, his father, brother and cousins horses. No….he listened closer again, becoming easier to hear he could tell by the hoof beats that this horse wasnt setting a regular paced canter, this horse was prancing.
“Shhhh ma.” Chet said pressing his finger to his lips as he stepped up into his saddle and rode his horse around to the side of the house that wasnt visible to anyone coming in. He stopped Red and held the horses reins tight, so close to the house that his knee pressed into the rough siding.
Soon a high stepping spanish Paso Fino jogged into the farm yard, breathing heavy an its shiny black coat lathered with white foamy swet an its notrils breathed in air as fast as possible, its sides heaving. The lether saddle on its back shinned heavily with new silver plating and squeeked the words of proof of well nurished oiling. An above all else sat his rider, a middle aged man with a dark brown mustach curled on the end, his dark eyes a light grey glare and his cloths a matching suit. The white shirt briming the inside of the suit so clean and ironed to perfection that it discarced the sun light.
“Get outta here Waldruff we aint selling this farm ever!” Gaby’s voice raked the earth angerly.
“Come on women! Ya’ll cant possibly keep the morgage up much longer! Sell before the bank gets this run down dried up piece of earth! Waldruff shouted angery from aboard his horse, his face reddened with anger.
Chet’s own blood boiled at hearing the words of the rich city man, he pulled his red bandanna up over his nose and drew his right gun gripping it in his hand angerly. He backed Red up a couple steps and excited the gelding so that when he asked with the slightest touch of his legs the horse would burst forward.
“Get out of here! My husband will be back any moment!”
That was Chet’s cue, he huged Red with his legs and the horse burst forward both of the big animals front feet sprinting forward. The whole action happened quickly, Chet drove Red on hard and rammed the horse into the Paso Fino’, his gun drawn in his right hand his left hand clawed for the reins of the black horse as its rider went to the ground with a heavy thud. An it was all over quickly, Chet tugged back hard on the blacks reins causing the horse to whirl around, his own horses reins hanging loosely.
In moments the noise and comotion fell silent, Chet’s gun sights set on Waldruff who lay sprawled on his back on the dusty ground.
“HALT!” Chets deep voice shook the earth an his breath breathed through the bandanna.
Gaby stood on the poarch shocked, her eyes staired at the occurance. A long moment of silence passed over the farm yard feeling like hours passing before there very eyes.
“Throw your gun over there real slow like!”
Waldruff nodded slowly and raised himself to his knees and prepared to get to his feet.
“No! Throw the gun away. I didnt say you could get up.” Chets voice came out cold and lethely deep an his thumb pulled back the hammer of his gun pressing a bullet into its chamber.
“Alright! Alright take it easy.” The fancy dressed city man spook softly, but it was his voice that betrayed him to Chet.
Waldruff went for his gun quickly, but Chet knew he was gonna go for it and fired off a shot into the center of the mans wrist. The suited figure burst out in pain and he rolled over onto his stomach grasping his bloody wrist and groaning painfully. The gun that he had attempted to draw lay next to him on the ground glazed with his blood.
“Get up!” Chet demanded drawing back the hammer again.
Waldruff pushed himself to his knees his back facing Chet, the young Duke boy watching and waiting like a tiger waiting for the moment to pounce. The city man got to his knees and pressed both of his hands to the front of his chest hidden to Chet, suddenly Waldruff twisted around and fired a shot from a tiny single shot pistol.
Blood exploded just below the elbow of Chet’s left arm and the black Paso Fino’ reared for the sky in fright as a bullet passed through the arm of its handler. A split second after Waldruffs gun echoed its single shot report a second shot fired, this one reporting from Chet’s smoking gun.
Waldruff pitched back wards sumersulting once then coming to a halt on his face, a long stream of blood huridly oozing from the back of his head. Chet’s rasping breath came as he glanced at the hole in his arm that poured blood down his sleeve, his face spattered in his own blood and yet the trouble was not over.
Heavy hoof beats pounded in the distance drawing closer by the second, in a few short minutes a trio of riders would come into view.
“I’m sorry ma!” He said tightening his fist around the reins of the black Paso Fino and whirling Red around to point towards the back of the house.
Gaby said nothing, she just staired at the dead body in the yard as her son kicked his heals into the sides of his horse sending it running for the tree line as a trio of riders rode up the drive. Bo, Luke and Breyer rode into the farm yard at a high gallop an skidded there horses to a stop at the poarch, they had seen Chet high tail it.
“Are you alright!?” Bo asked hurridly swinging down from the line backed buckskin and taking Gaby into his arms.
“Bo you stay here with Gaby, Brey and I will go after that rogue!” Luke said kicking his heels into the side of his own lineback not giving Bo a chance to argue.
Breyer followed suit jabbing his heals into his Appaloosa’s sides as he followed closely behind Luke and they disapeared into the woods taking the same dear trail that Chet had taken. Chet hooked the reins of the black around his saddle horn and tucked his gun away brushing his bandanna off his face in one quick motion. Red and with Paso Fino following close behind twisted back and forth weaving through the trees with ease and exsperience. Luke and Breyer steared there horses through the trees at a slower pace with out the aid of exsperience.
Chet put an 8th of a mile between him and his brother and cousin then halted holding the reins of the black on his saddle horn with his blood showered left arm. He leaned side ways out of his saddle and untied the cinch of the blacks saddle allowing the fancy lether fall to the ground. With a tight grip still on the horses reins he turned both his horse and the other around in three or four quick circles leaving confusing tracks in the dry dirt on the ground. Halting once again he slipped the blacks bridle over his ears and dropped it to the ground and gave the horse a healthy slap on the rump sending it in a southern direction.
Red spun around in place two more times and shot off North East at a ground eating pace, this was when Breyer and Luke caught up they would become confused by the tracks and branch off possibly following him or possibly following the loose Paso Fino. Even if they split up it would by Chet enough time to leave them behind, exspecially in the diming day light.
Luke and Breyer rode up on the saddle and bridle lying on the ground and skidded there horse down on there honchs coming to a quick stop. They both staired down at the confusing tracks in the dirt, one set of hoof prints leading off in one direction and one in the other direction.
“Looks like he snookered us Luke.”
Luke Duke nodded to his younger cousins conclusion. “Looks like it Brey.”
“We could split up and both follow a trail, but it’ll be dark soon, cant track him in the dark.”
“Might as well turn back and check on my ma and dad.”
Luke turned his horse back around the way they had come, there was know point in chasing Chet all over hell. Displeased, Luke nodded his head, there was nothing they could do.
“Yeah, come on.”
Breyer turned his horse around and got back on the trail that they had rode in on, he was angery but he knew sooner or later his brother would make a mistake and pay for it. They rode back to the house and contacted the sheriff, Waldruff’s body was soon removed an the Dukes were allowed to go back to there normal lives, adding another name to there dishonored kins list.
After a couple miles of hard riding Chet slowed his tired horse to a walk and rode eight or nine more miles. He swayed in the saddle feeling weak from blood loss but feeling the need to get as far away from the town of Hazzard as possible and get closer to his gang in Atlanta. It was late in the evening when he came to a shallow creek and dismounted staggering for a moment then gaining his balance, his first concern was Red. The exshausted gelding drank thirstly from the creek as Chet loosened the horses cinch and pulled his saddle from the horses back and lay it on the ground on the dry bank. After that was done he kneeled down by the creek and shed his duster and blue shirt to better tend to his wound with the cool water.
Fresh blood ran down his arm an dripped from the tips of his fingers as he wripped his ruined shirt into strips an cleaned the wound with teh fresh cool creek water. After clensing the wound he wrapped it in some of the strips and slipped the bridle from his horse as he did every night. Exshausted he rolled out his bed roll a few yards from the creek and layed down to get as much sleep as possible, in the morning he would complete his travels to Atlanta.
****Two Days Later****
“Did ya go an see your mamma Chet?” The gang leader, Jericho, a middle sized man with a clean shaved face, light brown hair and a harty build said as he cinched up his big bay mare.
“Yeah for alittle while.” Chet replied as he placed his saddle blanket on Reds back.
“Is that where you got your arm shot?”
“Yeah I ran into trouble there with this city fool.”
“Added another name to your list didja’?” Jericho’s facial exspression turned into a curled grin.
Chet only nodded as he tightened his horses cinch and plucked the bridle from his saddle horn and approached his horses head.
“Are you two gonna swap spit all day?” Skud a chunky man on a big boned saddle bred said leaning his elbow forward on his saddle horn.
“Yeah before we know it ya’ll be getting mushy!” Zed said chiming in his own wise ass ideas.
A touch offended Chet slid the bridle on his horse and stepped into the saddle in a hurry, Zed had gone too far, he knew better then gun play with Chet.
“Feeling froggy Zed?” Chet said stepping Red up along side Zed’s black and white mustang pinto.
Zed’s wide grinning facial exspression faded away as if the sun had suddenly gone down and the night came on clouding his face as he looked into the dangerous eyes of his comrade. He knew better then gun play with Chet too, the tall black haired Duke boy had at least 3 years of exsperience on him and drawing on such a man was not a smart move.
“Not at all Chet…” He paused trying to find his voice nerviously. “Just a friendly poke.”
Chet glared, his eyes cold. “Best keep it friendly.”
Feeling the uneasiness strike the air like a hammer on a nail Jericho cut in not wanting to loose any one of the three hardened gun man.
“Come on ya’ll we got a train to rob.” He said riding his horse off into the sagy open plains area.
“Yeah come on.” Zed said kicking his horse to catch up with Jericho’s, Skud followed behind in an orderly fashion and last but not least Chet took up the rear.
They always traveled in this fashion, Jericho in the lead, Zed and Skud riding the center side by side and Chet in the rear beings as he seemed to be the most alert besides Jericho. An this way they all had a veiw of all around making it easy to watch each others back and warn one another of any possible danger lurking.
The four riders passed under the hot Goergian sun at a brisk canter, the train would be at what they called the windmill check point and thats where they would stop it. They all rode up onto a hill looking down into the valley that the train was just about to pass through, the black smoke from its stake could be seen bilowing into the sky.
“Alright ya’ll know the plan.” Jericho began prepared to quickly review.
“We stop the train before it gets to the wind mill two miles up the track, if we dont stop it by then we pull back and meet up here. If we get seperated or anything……” Jericho’s words were cut off by Chet who stood at the end of the row of men.
“Apollo’s gang!” Chet said moving Red up closer to the edge of the ridge to get a better look.
Below a black stream of smoke lead to a huge huffing steam engine that had just entered the valley with a line of cars behind it. An behind the cars rode seven riders, there bandanna’s up over there noses, guns raised as they trailed close to the rear of the train.
“There gonna knock off the train!” Skud said angerly.
“Not if I got anything to do with it! I aint eatin good in a week!” Jericho said spuring his horse forward.
“Chet! Get your ass down there to the engine and stop that train before Apollos pol-cats can ruin everything for us, me an the boys will pull up the sides and hold back Apollo and we’ll meet you at the dinning car!” Jericho’s voice echoed to Chet.
Chet raced forward, Red being the fastest horse in the group would carry him quickly up to the engine where he could stop it. He raced down the hill at a easy canter and then as he drew nearer to the tracks followed by the other three Red broke into a grease lightening run and sped up towards the engine that huffed forward at a holding pace.
The train wasnt moving very fast which made it even easier to catch, Chet raced on slipping his own red bandanna up over his nose and drawing his right gun. He leaned close to Red’s thick neck squeezing his legs tightly around the horse and recieving another burst of speed.
“Thats a boy Red, just alittle closer.”
In another few seconds Chet was riding along side the open conductors door, waved his gun at the conductor in warning, when the conductor did not stop Chet fired a shot wouding the man in the sholder. He veered Red in close to the train for one quick moment and grabbed the bar on the side of the train and pulled himself up into the drivers room of the engine. Red branched off into the sage and slowed disapearing.
Chet strut up to the controls of the train and pulled on the brakes and the train began to screech to a slow but sure halt. The conductor layed against the inside wall on the floor clutching his sholder, blood seeping through his fingers. Suddenly Chet was thrust face first against the iron siding of the interior of the train his head clanging against the iron and his mind going dark. He colasped to the floor curing onto his side his chest breaking into a sudden stream of pain.
“You thought you and your buddies were gonna knock off this train didnt ya!” A cruel voice slured as a short wirery haired man entered the room a green bandanna covering his face up to his nose and his gun pointed at Chet.
The Apollo gang member hooked his toe on Chet’s sholder and rolled him onto his back and pointed the gun in his face. Blood leeked from the fresh bullet wound in Chet’s right sholder only inches above his heart. He blinked his watery eyes trying to clear his vision to enable him to see who his attacker was, the pain in his chest extreme.
In the blink of an eye Chet raised his right foot and kicked the gang memebers gun out of his hand and sent it sliding acrossed the floor, the train nearly to a stop now. He kicked out again his foot coliding with the other guys mid section sending him stumbling back off balance, he tripped back wards and fell out the open engine cabin.
Now alone with the conductor and the train at a complete stop Chet pressed himself to his hands and knees then to his feet pressing his hand gingerly against the exit wound. He stood up bracing against the wall an gave a low whistle for Red, his legs threatened to buckle on him. Red jogged up to the side of the train and allowed Chet to slide down onto his back, he hugged his legs around the horses sides and steared him back in the direction of the other cars.
Skud’s horse stood patiently by the dinning car awaiting its rider, Chet rode on towards the dinning car hearing shots echoing all around. A rider with a green bandanna over his face passed by the rear of the train, Chet drew his right colt and fired the bullet throwing the rider from his horse. Suddenly Skud lept from the dinning car and onto the back of his horse who took off emeditily breaking into a run. Jericho and Zed appeared form the rear of the train and waved Chet on, Chet hugged Red with his legs giving the horse his head and the four riders joined together and disapeared over the hill.
The gang rode back to camp, Chet hunched forward in his saddle a hand pressed to the exit wound in the left side of his chest. The bullet had entered his back, he removed his heavy leather duster and packed it away in his saddle bags. Blood soaked the sholder of his sky blue shirt and he fought back the pain, his throat dry and his body exshausted. They approached there camp that was set up next to a creek just out side of Atlanta, Chet slide down from his horse and kneeled on both knees before the creek. Jericho had seen him go to the creek, he knew his comrade was wounded so he followed him to the waters edge.
“You gonna live?” Jericho asked in a joking tone of voice.
“Yeah I’ll be alright.”
Chet soaked his bandanna in the water an pressed it over the exit wound and then repeated the process. Jericho helped pull Chet’s shirt off to have better acesses to the enterence and exit wound in his back and chest.
“Damn boy your lucky, another inch or so lower and you’d be a gonner.”
“Om’ lucky the bullet passed all the way through.”
Jericho fetched the horse sav an some shredded material from his saddle bags and returned to the creek away from the other men who had built a fire and was cooking some biscuits. He packed the sav deep within the enterence and exit wound to slow the bleeding and covered both holes with the shredded cloth. Chet straitened up in pain and groaned aloud.
“Gawd, man that hurts.”
“Its gonna hurt worse if it gets infected, theres some whiskey in my saddle bags, help yourself.”
Chet nodded a silent thanks, an suddenly both men froze in place. A single pair of hoof beats sounded approaching the creek in the dark, whoever it was seemed to be in a hurry. Both Jericho and Chet drew both there guns as the rider halted there horse at the creek.
“State you business!” Jericho said pulling back the hammer on his guns.
The rider held up both hands in surrender barely visible in the dark, but his horse being almost white was not too hard to see. Chet looked close narrowing his eyes as he reconised the horse as his brothers spotted Apolossa, an he holstered his left hand gun and held up his palm to Jericho to lower his weapons.
“Breyer, what the hell are you doing here?! An how did you find me?!” Chet growled halling himself to his feet his right gun still pointed at his brother.
“I gave a kid in town that Paso Fino in trade for imformation on where you were, you gotta come quick Chet please!” Breyer pleaded with his brother holding a tight hand on his Apolossa who breathed hard from the journey.
“Waldruffs boys are after dad! Please brother your the only one I know that can stand a chance against those coyotes.”
“Brother?” Jericho looked at Chet with a questioning look.
“Yeah, alright Brey. But dad’ll owe me for this.”
Jericho jogged away towards the camp. “Saddle up boys!”
Breyer rode acrossed the creek to wait for his brother to slip back into his shirt and saddle his horse.
“What are you doing Jericho?” Chet asked slipping the bridle on his horse an saddling as fast as possible.
Zed and Skud had begun stuffing there bed rolls back together and gathered there belongs. In seconds they were half saddled.
“Your gonna need all the help you can get, were comrades we stick behind each other.” Jericho said cinching his own horse as Chet swung up into his saddle.
Breyers eyes got big in relisation, the whole gang was coming with Chet and not just him and his brother alone. Chet only nodded to Jericho’s words an gathered his reins as the rest of the boys stepped into there saddles, completely prepared for travel.
“Alright Chet your leading.” Jericho said looking among his men.
Chet squeezed his legs around Red’s size and the horse gave forth all his effort and picked up a tired but steady canter. Breyer and the rest of the gang followed behind him as they all rode towards the town of Hazzard. It was a long ride and would take at least the hole night, not including the rest stops that they would have to make to keep there horses in fair condition.
The first rayes of the sun had barely peeked over the horizon when they reached the main rode leading to the Duke farm. Everyone was exshausted and the horses lathered in sweet with heaving sides. Breyer rode ahead pushing his horse to its limits and further, he just had to know if the gang was there harassing his family or not yet. Chet led the gang into a short cut in the woods where they would beable to see the Duke farm but not be scene by any one.
They all halted at the edge of the tree line where Chet had escaped through the deer trail only a day before. Breyer stood in the the farm yard near his horse accompained by Bo and Luke with there horses. The gang had just riden in, all nine of them and all of them with killing on there mind. They skidded to a stop there horses feet kicking up dust that carried away in the wind.
“You Dukes are gonna pay with your lives for killing Waldruff!” One of the men said angerly.
“Get off our land!” Luke shouted at them.
The angery gang member fired a shot at Luke taking him in the arm and Luke fired back scoring a direct hit in the mans chest. The fight was on, Bo drew his gun as another man drew to take a shot at his cousin, Bo’s bullet threw his target from his horse.
“Thats our cue! Lets go!” Chet drew the bandanna up over his face treating this like another robbery.
The three other men standing behind him drew up there own matching bandanna’s and kicked there legs to there tired horses sides in persuit of the young Duke. Red burst forward with all the enegery that remained with in him, the three other riders on his heals as they all burst into the farm yard guns drawn in aim at there own target.
Bo and Luke turned in suprise at hearing the earth shaking hoof beats just as Chet and the gang burts from the trees at a ground eating run. The gangs guns exsploding and taking the other gang by complete suprise as the farm yard turned into a war ground. Gun fire shattered the peaceful morning, hoofs scrapped and pounded on the ground in confusion all at once. And suddenly it was over.
Every member of Waldruffs gang lay in the dirt dead or badly wounded, Jericho kneeled on the ground pressing a hand to his left thigh and Skud held his hand over his lower arm. Zed still set untouched on his horse his gun smoking, Chet peared around taking in the destruction both of his own guns still in his hands.
An among all the confusion Luke relised that his cousin no longer too by his side, he lay on the ground flat on his back.
“Bo?” Luke questioned holstering his own guns and kneeling down by Bo’s side.
Chet’s eyes landed on his father laying on the ground and he lept from his saddle and went to his fathers side.
“Dad?” Chet asked kneeling down to his father.
But Bo Duke did not flinch, he took no breath to reply, he just lay completely still his eyes stairing at the sky. Breyer joined his brother an cousin, an soon the Gaby and Daisy were all there by there side. Tears began to streek Chet’s face as he gather his fathers lifeless body in his arm and sat down in the dirt breaking down and crying against his father.
“Gawd why…..”He paused his voice muffled by the cloth of his fathers shirt. “Why was I so foolish….I never got the chance to tell him.”
For the first time in ages Luke put his arm around his cousin in a friendly hug not trying to pull Chet away from his father.
“He knew how much you loved him Chet.” Luke said to his cousin. “He knew, an he loved you to he just wanted the best for you. An he loved you too he just never knew how to say it.”
Chet nodded through his tears and just cried aloud not carring about the gang seeing him cry, he hated himself. Why had he said the things he once did to his father, why hadnt he stayed on the farm and helped him, why didnt he ever look past his foolish pride and tell his father how much he truely cared. How much he loved him, how much he wanted to be like him and how he admired him. Now it was too late he would never get to tell him, his father would never know.
Suddenly as if he were knocked unconcious Chet’s mind went dark and all his pain disapeared an was replaced with a the wet ground on his back. His mind returned to the world around him and he blinked the blurry darkness out of his eyes and he sat up relising that he was in a few inches of mud. He sat at the bottom of a couple foot deep hole half covered in mud and soaking wet from the rain that had been falling.
Chet raised himself to his feet feeling stiff and bruised from the fall. An suddenly he relised where he was, he looked around for a moment searching for the red gelding but not find him anywhere. An suddenly it clicked in his head, he was back to the real world the world that he knew, the modern world. With his car, Ghost, an concrete rodes and electric and……his father. Chet hurried to his feet feeling light headed for a moment then braced his arms on the edge of the hole raising himself out of it and taking flight back the way he had come, back towards the Duke farm.
He raced around the back of the house and burst there the kitchen door and stood in the middle of the room dripping wet and still covered in mud. Rain water dripped from the brim of his black stetson, an his sky blue shirt stuck to him skin tight. An there at the kitchen table sat his father Bo Duke, Bo sat in the hard strait back kitchen cahir his eyes wide with suprise at his sons sudden return after being gone for only a few minutes.
Chet’s eyes watered with tears remembering what had happened to him….where ever he had been.
“Dad I’m sorry….I’m really sorry.”
Bo Duke looked at his son even more stunned as he knoticed the tears in the young mans eyes. What ever had come over him had changed him some how, he could tell just by looking Chet in the eyes. In the minutes that he had been gone he had grown up, he had learned so much. Bo got to his feet and took his son in his arms in a big hug, Chet returned the hug barely holding back his burning tears.
“Its alright Chet…..its alright.”
“I love you dad.”
“I love you too son.”
Chet and Bo sat down at the kitchen table to talk, an Chet told his father the story about his ‘exsperience’ in the old west and what had made him change his out look on everything. He wasnt sure if his father believed it all, an he couldnt explain where he had gone when he had fallen in that hole out in the woods that day in Hazzard County G.A. But what ever it was had changed his life for ever, an what ever is was had changed him forever.
That evening after his chores an supper Chet stepped out of the old farm house to have a smoke an he sat down on the steps of the poarch and staired up at the stary night sky. His ciggarett smoldered as he staired deep into the sky, an a strong breezed swirled around carrying an awesome smell. The smell of horses, the feeling of being free, the sound of leather squeeking to the rythmn of a sure footed horse. An Chet took it all in shutting his eyes for a moment and remembering what it had been like to live in the old west. He took a drag from his ciggarett and smiled to himself tipping his hat to the keeper of the stars in thanks.
“Thanks to the keeper of the stars….”