Hazzardous Nights

by: Rose O’Thorns

 

Enos Strate had just finished his meal and was going about his evening chores. It had been a long day and Enos was looking forward to a good night sleep. However, he knew the dishes would only pile up higher and it was Thursday evening, the night Enos always did his work chores. Enos still believed in all the lessons from the police academy and aspired to be the type of police officer his sheriff used to be. So every Thursday night, Enos polished his shoes and cleaned his service revolver.

Enos was a careful, albeit clumsy, man. He checked to be sure the gun was not loaded, knowing that any gun should be treated as if it is loaded at all times. He began to prep his cleaning supplies and set to work. But something was wrong, out of joint,…BLAM…Enos gasped for air, his bottom lip trembling and his eyes wide in surprise, as he took his last breath and his blood made a pool on the floor……

Luke Duke sat straight up in bed, his throat trying to stifle a scream. Luke looked around to get his surroundings, happy to discover he was at home and just had a bad dream. Knowing that daylight was close at hand, Luke just leaned back to enjoy a few moments of peace. But Luke’s thoughts kept returning to the dream he had had of his close friend’s death. Luke knew it was ridiculous to worry over a dream, nightmare or not. Still the dread of Enos’s final moments haunted Luke, until Luke decided to call and check up on Enos later in the day.

Luke heard a groan from across the room. That would be the beginnings of the cousins early morning ritual, ‘Bo doesn’t want to get out of bed.’ Luke chirped up in his most annoyingly happy voice, “Hey, sleepyhead, rise and shine!” More grumbling consumed the room. Luke, smiling wickedly, stealthily moved across the room and whipped the covers off his cousin while turning on the nightstand lamp. “Isn’t it a wonderful morning?”

“It was about 5 minutes ago,” rumbled Bo.

Luke began to get dressed and head out for chores. “Hey, Bo, what do you say we check in on Enos when we go for those parts for the General?” Bo looked up at his older cousin with bleary eyes, “Did you forget Enos is at a police seminar for a week?”

Luke was puzzled. He didn’t remember hearing about that at all, but he figured he probably forgot. Bo and Luke spent the day fixing the General and the last of the repairs on the tractor. It had been an unremarkable day, especially for Hazzard County.

Cooter had headed out early to help out a stranded motorist out on Route 7. Cooter enjoyed the beautiful scenery Hazzard provided as he took his time, after all it was only a blown out tire and not a dire emergency. As Cooter’s attention was diverted by the splendor of the day, he had inadvertently sped up, a not-too-unusual occurrence for these parts. Just then, Cooter’s tires hit a patch of rainwater and began to hydroplane. Cooter scrambled to regain control of the vehicle by pumping the brakes. Cooter didn’t even see the edge of the highway come upon him until the truck had gone over it. It rolled until it was stopped by a patch of trees. Cooter’s face was marked by cuts and bruises caused by shards of glass from the windshield. He tried to pry loose of the wreckage but his foot was stuck. Then Cooter smelled smoke coming from the truck and fought to get out before the flames could reach him. He began to cough, sweat formed on his body, he began to scream…..

Luke shot straight up in bed. He closed his eyes trying to fight off the images he’d just seen in his head. Bo, sensing his cousin’s alarm, lifted his head from the bed to ask if Luke was okay. Luke didn’t register Bo’s voice at first, but within moments saw the puzzled expression on Bo’s face. “I’m…I’m okay, Bo, just a nasty dream I guess.”

Bo nodded his head in understanding, “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No, I’m fine, just up right before dawn again.”

Bo groaned when he looked out the window to see the sun coming up.

“Hey, Bo, do you think we could visit Cooter today?” Luke asked, hedging around the fact that he wanted to check up on his buddy.

“Luke,” Bo asked concerned, “remember Cooter went to visit Nancy Lou. We were going to watch his place for him?”

Luke pondered over this new information, it was new to him. Luke didn’t rightly remember that Cooter was going away, but “I guess my old age is catching up with me.”

“You got that right, cuz,” Bo replied, dodging a flying pillow.

Bo and Luke spent the day doing their chores and trying to get a piece of Daisy’s peach pie before supper. The boys began to wonder if Boss was feeling well. They hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him in days, not that they were complaining.

Daisy had been setting about making her famous peach pie for the boys and her Uncle Jesse. She had had a few days off from the Boar’s Nest and used the time to get caught up on her chores around home. She knew the boys and Jesse had been working hard to repair things around the farm and decided everyone needed a special treat. Daisy would never let the menfolk know it, but she enjoyed cooking. It reminded her of special times with her Aunt Martha and cooking was a great way to focus her attention.
Daisy had, however, succeeded in making a mess. She had been singing to the radio and letting her attention wonder more than she normally allowed while cooking. She just turned to reach for the measuring cups when her foot caught a patch of water on the floor. Her feet went out from under her quickly and she hit her head on the edge of the kitchen table on the way down. Her chest began to move less, her face began to pale more, Daisy was gone……..
Luke bolted from bed and ran down the hall to his cousin Daisy’s room. Luke looked around the room frantically. Daisy’s bed had been unslept in. Nothing was out of place. Where was she!! Luke began to throw things out of her closet and turned to push the bed aside. Bo and Jesse, woken from the commotion, came in to see Luke in a seeming panic run from the room to the bathroom. “Help me find her!!!”
Jesse took Luke by the shoulders, holding him in a firm grip. “Calm down, son, now just tell us what’s going on?” Luke looked at his family, didn’t they know something had happened here!
“Where’s Daisy at?” Luke demanded. Bo and Jesse exchanged worried glances.

“Come here, Luke,” Jesse said, leading Luke to sit on the couch, while sitting on the chair across from his nephew. “Daisy is visiting Mary Kaye this weekend, you know that.”

Bo pitched in, “That’s right, cuz, you and I drove her. Don’t you remember?”

“No, there’s something wrong here,” Luke said, shaking his head in denial. Every night I dream someone dies and then that person is gone the next day like nothin’ is wrong.” Luke’s voice became soft and pleading, “What’s going on?”

Bo put a supportive hand on his elder cousin’s shoulder, worry clear on his face. “I don’t know what you’ve been dreaming, but no one has died. Everyone is fine. Maybe you’ve just been working too hard in this heat. How about you and I just go relax somewheres tomorrow, ok?”

Luke didn’t look at all convinced. “But what about these dreams I keep having. First Enos dies, then Cooter, now Daisy. And none of them are here,” Luke said adamantly.

Jesse came from his chair to the couch to put an arm around his nephew. “Luke, those are only dreams, I know they’re botherin’ ya, but everyone is okay and accounted for. Bo is right, now don’t fight with me. You two can finish your morning chores and then you can have the rest of the day to yourselves, alright?”

Luke wasn’t convinced that everything was just fine. He spent his day wondering how to avoid the nightmares. Even after a day of fishing and swimming, Luke avoided sleep like the plague. “Come on, cousin, you can’t read all night. At least let me get some sleep, turn out the light,” Bo begged. Luke sighed and reached over to turn out the light. Luke thought out things that needed to be done on the farm, equipment that would be needed for the next season, modifications that could be made to the General. In the end, Luke lost his battle for consciousness.

Jesse stood in the middle of the field. He took off his hat to wipe the sweat from his brow. He was proud of the work he and his family had done on this farm. Suddenly, Jesse’s face fell, his right hand clutched at his chest as his left arm supported its weight. Jesse crumbled onto the field…and didn’t get up again……..

“NO! NO! NO!”

Bo launched himself out of bed, ready to defend his home and family if need be. He was surprised to find his usually reserved cousin, sitting in his bed, knees tucked up under his chin and tears streaming down his face. Bo reached out to his cousin, only to pull back when Luke began to rock back and forth.

Bo ran into the bathroom to grab a cold washcloth. He entered his room almost fearing what he’d find. But nothing had changed. Luke was still sitting in the same position, rocking himself as if he were a very scared little boy.

“Come on, cousin, wake up. You’re okay, I’m here and you’re safe.” Bo didn’t know what else to do but sit with Luke and keep up a mantra of soothing words. After a few moments, Luke stopped crying and looked into Bo’s eyes, “Where are Enos, Cooter, Daisy, and Jesse?”

Bo looked at a loss for words, checking Luke’s forehead for fever and his eyes to see if Luke had been into their Uncle’s shine. “Luke, you know where they are. Enos had a police seminar, Cooter is visiting Nancy Lou, Daisy is at Mary Kaye’s house, and Jesse took a day trip to Atlanta.”

Luke shook his head slowly from side to side, not believing Bo’s words. “What about the dreams,” Luke said quietly, “what about them?”

Bo began to panic, “Luke, I don’t know what dreams you are talking about, you never told me anything about no dreams. I’m calling Doc Petticord to come see you, something ain’t right.” Bo began to walk out of the room when Luke tearfully asked, “Please don’t leave me here by myself.” Luke looked down, as if ashamed to ask. Bo went over to Luke and took him by the arm to the kitchen where Bo could make his call. Bo leaned against the sink counter watching Luke, who sat at the table until the Doc came.

Doc Petticord looked over Luke and found him in perfect health, except for perhaps a lack of sleep. “Bo, can I talk to you a minute?” Doc pulled Bo to one side and explained that he was going to give Luke a sedative to help him sleep peacefully and that he would return the next day.

When the doc approached Luke with the needle, Luke rose from his seat and crept slowly back. “What…what’s that for?” Bo took the lead, feeling Luke would respond better to him, after their years of long friendship. “Luke, the Doc just wants to give you a shot so you can sleep.” Luke began to shake his head furiously. “It will make you think clearly, cuz, come on-trust me.” Luke stood his ground, shaking his head, “No, Please, Bo, Please. If I fall asleep you’ll go away too. Everyone else did. I don’t want to be alone. Please.” Bo exchanged glances with the Doc, nodded his head slightly, and then lunged for his cousin. Luke struggled, fighting first the needle then its effects, but the sedative soon overpowered him. And Luke slept…

***********************************************************************

Luke awoke refreshed and feeling clear-headed. Luke felt embarrassed at the scene he had caused with the Doc, but knew Bo wouldn’t think nothing of it. Everyone was accounted for and Luke felt more confident as rational thinking took over.

Luke dressed quickly and headed out to find Bo and apologize. Bo wasn’t working on the General so Luke meandered over to the barn. He wasn’t there either. Luke swallowed his fears that the dreams had any basis in reality and headed to the General to use the CB. “One lost sheep to another, you out there? Bo Duke , come back now.” There was a long pause of silence, but still no answer. “Lost Sheep, what’s your 10-20?”

“Luke Duke, what are you up to?” Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane replied through the Hazzard Net. “Rosco, I need your help. I can’t find Bo. Could you and Enos help me out?” Luke asked, trying hard to conceal the terror that everyone was still missing. “Git, git, quit wasting taxpayer’s money, Bo’s probably out with a pretty face, and you know darn well Enos is at that seminar. Now stop bothering me, boy!”

Luke fought to get his breath. He leaned back against the General, looking at the ground and fighting for an answer. Luke, half stumbled, half ran, into the house to begin calling everyone and anyone who might know where his friends and kin were when he noticed a half-torn piece of paper on the corner of the kitchen counter.

Luke, Be back soon. I had some running to do and don’t know when I’ll be back. Enjoy the quiet. Bo

But Luke felt for certain Bo wouldn’t be back. After all, Bo wouldn’t just up and leave after the night Luke had had. They had always been there for each other and nothing, but nothing would change that. Luke wondered what fate had dealt to Bo. Did he die a fast death or a slow, painful one? Was Bo in a ditch, alone and unmourned? Luke had no dream memory to let him know what had happened. Luke backed away from the kitchen cabinet until his back was against the corner of the room. Slowly, Luke sank to the floor his mind racing. This just can’t be….he wasn’t all alone…he couldn’t be…his family was…alright? Luke began to shake, sweat pouring down his back, eyes wide as saucers.

Luke couldn’t move and didn’t. He couldn’t seem to cry or yell or do anything, except sit on the kitchen floor, staring straight ahead. Time seemed to be at a standstill, nothing grabbing Luke’s attention. Nothing until the shadows of night began to fall, creating human-like silhouettes. Luke looked frantically left and right as a trapped and wounded animal might. Seeing the shadows lengthen and grow darker, Luke broke from his silence, shut his eyes tight, and started to scream, long, loud, shrill, and tortured.

***

Two arms grabbed ahold of Luke, tight to the point of almost inflicting pain. “LUKE! LUKE! LOOK AT ME…LOOK AT ME!!!”

Luke heard a voice and recognized it as Bo’s, but he didn’t respond, he wouldn’t. He wasn’t going to go through losing his family or friends again. Nothing could make me respond, he thought. But his emotions betrayed him, and though Luke made no sound, two tears ran down his cheeks.

That’s it, Luke! Come on, cousin!”, Bo uttered rapidly, shaking Luke. Still no response. Bo stopped shaking Luke, lowered his head to hide his tears, “Please, Luke,” Bo whispered, “Please, don’t leave me alone.”

Luke was unable to fight off the pleadings of his cousin, didn’t want him to be left alone too. Luke gathered the tattered remains of his courage and looked up, expecting nothing, only to see his cousin Bo kneeling before him, Jesse standing behind Bo with a supporting hand on Bo’s shoulder, and Daisy rapidly talking into the phone.

“Bo?” Luke asked quietly, not wanting his cousin to disappear should be talk to loudly or too long.

Bo’s head sprang up, happy tears running unchecked down his face. “Yeah, cousin, it’s me. What about you, are you okay?”

Luke looked very uncertain. “What’s happening? I thought you were…gone, lost…” Jesse broke in, “Luke, do you remember anything about this past week?” Luke knew what he thought happened but didn’t want to betray anything more. He looked into Jesse’s eyes, with a longing glance and looked once again at the floor.

Jesse moved to kneel next to Bo. He took his hand and gently lifted Luke’s chin so their eyes could meet. “Shh, son, it’s alright. Everything is alright.” Jesse moved his hand to run it over Luke’s forehead and through his hair, comforting Luke as he had done when Luke was only a little tyke.

“Let’s get you up and into your room,” Jesse said, taking control of the situation. Jesse and Bo let Luke lean on them as much as he needed. Neither was sure what Luke thought or felt right now, but both understood Luke needed the physical contact as much as they did.

Jesse had been panicked when he came back to the farm from picking up supplies only to find his eldest nephew cowering in the corner of the kitchen, oblivious to what was going on around him. Jesse had called out to his other kids who had been working hard in the barn and weren’t aware that Luke had even left his bedroom. Bo had immediately ran to his cousin while Daisy had made a call into Doc Petticord.

Daisy ran into the boys’ room, grateful to see Luke back in bed and more collected. It had made Daisy’s blood run cold to see her cousin so panic-striken, especially since Luke never liked to have his emotions on display to begin with. He was always calm and collected, even when he didn’t feel that way. It was a rare occurrence to see naked, raw emotion from Luke and that’s what made Daisy so on-edge. Daisy scooted to one side to let her Uncle Jesse know that Doc Petticord was on his way. Jesse smiled; visibly less stressed at knowing an expert was on the way.

Meanwhile, Bo was coaxing Luke’s story out little by little. Bo knew Luke didn’t want to talk about it, but had to. The story came out in hushed whispers and long, drawn out silences, as if talking too loud would make it all true. Jesse and Daisy hung back, knowing Luke would more likely talk to Bo and keeping an eye out for the Doc.

Luke finished just as Doc Petticord walked in the front door. Jesse quickly ushered him in, filling him in on what Jesse had found and how Luke was acting now. Doc Petticord sat on the edge of Luke’s bed, “So, I hear you ain’t yourself. How about a few questions?” Luke shrugged in a half-hearted acceptance, not keen on talking any more about his what was happening. “Do you remember your fall?” Luke looked perplexed, his eyes cast down trying to remember. “I…sort of remember something…did I fall from..the hayloft?” Luke asked, surprised he could forget something like that. Doc Petticord smiled, “Yep, that was you, you gave your kin quite a scare too. That was a few days ago. Are you in any pain right now?” Luke, speaking clearly and in a normal tone of voice, said, “Come to think of it, I am kinda sore.” Doc nodded as if the mystery had all but been solved. “Jesse, did Luke here have any painkillers over the past days, especially today, maybe before you left?”

Jesse thought about this as it all dawned on him. “Yeah, he did. He had that oxycodone.” Doc turned back to Luke, “Some people have bad reactions to painkillers, including nausea, headaches, nightmares, and even unclear periods where the mind doesn’t really know what’s going on or what’s real. Sound familiar?”

Luke let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding and sat up a bit straighter. The rational world was back and in charge. Just the way he liked it. “Yeah, very familiar.”

Doc turned to Jesse, Bo, and Daisy, “Easy cure, no more oxycodone. Try ibuprofen instead. Let me know if you need anything else, Luke. I’ll let myself out, Daisy–thanks.”

Luke looked up at his family sheepishly. “I’m real sorry, y’all..” Bo piped up, “Hey, don’t worry none, it’s Hazzard after all.” Everyone agreed, happy everything was going to be back to normal. Bo, Daisy, and Jesse were about to leave Luke to get some rest, and so Bo could explain everything since Daisy and Jesse hadn’t heard the whole story yet, when Luke quietly asked Bo to stay behind a moment.

“Sure,” Bo said, wondering if Luke was really okay. Luke looked as if he was fighting with a problem. “What is it, cousin? You know you can talk to me, ” Bo said, knowing how uncomfortable Luke must be, his hating to be emotional and all. “I just feel real stupid,” Bo paused momentarily, stamping down his urge to say something smart. “What is it?” “Well…could you stay here? I mean, at least until I fall asleep,” Luke said, his voice getting lower, “I don’t want to be alone…again.”

“No problem, cuz,” Bo said as he settled down beside his cousin’s bed. And that was the end of the hazardous nights for Luke. Luke insisted on visiting Enos and Cooter, sore ribs or no sore ribs, just to put his mind at ease. Luke wondered looking back on the trauma those pills had caused, how anyone could become a drug addict. Luke would, unfortunately, one day find out. But that, my friends, is another story.

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