I Remember: Chapter 2

by: TNRiverRat

Chapter 2
Twenty years earlier,
An early April morning in Hazzard County, Georgia

The bright spring morning began as any other in Hazzard. Bo and Luke Duke were racing down a dirt road, kicking up a cloud of dust, with Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane fast on their heels. They had no idea why Rosco was chasing them, other than the fact that they were Dukes and they had blown past his new speed trap going at least ninety! Around the next bend, Luke hollered “Watch it, Bo!” and braced himself. Bo suddenly turned the wheel hard; sending the bright orange muscle car into a tight turn, in order to avoid old Mr. Sloan (who had chosen that particular road to transport his wagon-load of hay). The sheriff was unable to react as quickly to the surprised mules and their driver in his path. Rosco narrowly missed a very white-faced Mr. Sloan and ended up going through a fence and nose-first into a small cow pond. Bo and Luke slowed down long enough to see the sheriff emerge from his car and stomp through the mud of the shallow pond. They left the scene laughing along with the familiar sounds of Rosco’s frustrated shouting, the General’s “Dixie” horn and the powerful growl of their car’s engine.

Since the fun was over, the cousins calmly continued on their way back to the family farm, discussing the day ahead. Their Uncle Jesse was waiting for them to return with the new pieces for Maudine’s harness. Their old mule was going to be used to help with the spring planting in the south field and just as he was getting the plow and harness ready, Jesse discovered a weak spot in the leather. He sent the boys into town for the new pieces and threatened to tan their hides if they took too long. Jesse had a full day’s work planned in the fields and another delay would cause him to be even more irritated; so the young men decided to hurry up and get home. After arriving home, Bo and Luke found a note tacked to the barn wall from their uncle. The note told them to get Maudine and Molly (another mule borrowed from a neighbor) ready and bring them to the south field. Jesse would already be there, breaking up the ground with the tractor. The younger Dukes quickly harnessed the mules and walked them to the field. True to his word, Jesse was sitting on the tractor and waiting for them. “About time!” he called, “This corn ain’t gonna plant itself.”

Bo and Luke, familiar with many years of farm chores, knew what was expected of them and soon got to work. They used the mules to plow deep furrows in the rich dirt while their uncle continued to break up the winter-hardened soil ahead of them. The boys plodded slowly behind the animals, reins draped loosely around their own necks, holding the old, wooden plow handles with steady, calloused hands. Their family had prepared these fields for planting in such a way for generations past. Only in recent years had the Duke family used any mechanical farming equipment at all. Jesse thought it was good to stick with tradition, therefore they still did the majority of the farming the old way. Bo and Luke didn’t really mind the strenuous work. They felt it gave them a closer connection to the land their family loved. They occupied their time by talking about upcoming races, girls, and sometimes singing snatches of favorite songs. The sounds of their voices and laughter mingling with the noises made by the clinking harnesses of the placid mules floated on the spring breeze to their uncle’s ears. He smiled as he watched them from his perch on the tractor as he sat parked beneath the limbs of a large, old oak at the end of the field.

The early April sunshine was becoming warmer as the morning edged closer to noon. The Duke boys soon had their old, faded bandanas rolled up and tied around their heads in order to catch the sweat that dripped from their soaked hair. Jesse was taking a break, cooling himself in the shade of the tree. He watched as Bo shucked off his blue T-shirt, leaving it at the end of the row. He shook his head and frowned slightly, ‘How many times have I warned them about working in the sun without a shirt’, he thought. Jesse sighed in dismay when Luke soon followed Bo’s example. “Well, when they come in tonight complaining about being sunburn’t, it’ll be their own fault!” Jesse said to himself. He took off his dusty red cap and wiped sweat from his face with his wadded-up handkerchief. He thought, ‘I need to get back to work, but…I think I’ll take an old man’s privilege and rest just a wee bit more!’

Jesse continued to watch his boys while they worked; his thoughts drifting back to when his “kids” were children. Luke, his dark-haired nephew, had always been the steadiest and most reserved of the three young Dukes; even as a youngster. He was well liked by everyone and real popular with the ladies even though he was still skittish about settling down with any of them! He was sharp as a tack and could’ve done well in any college; but he chose not to go that route, much to Jesse’s dismay. Luke was the stronger of the two boys, both physically and emotionally, and had always taken his responsibilities, as being the eldest, very seriously. ‘Almost too seriously, at times’, thought Jesse. His eldest nephew was fiercely protective of his family and friends, especially since his return from his stint in the Marines. He also seemed to become a bit more reserved, if that was possible, as he grew older. Luke was the epitome of Calm, Cool, and Collected; at anytime, in any situation.

Jesse fondly laughed when he thought of his blond-haired nephew who idolized Luke. His youngest adopted child could rarely be either calm, cool, or collected when upset, much less all three at once! Jesse watched Bo, the sun glinting off his bright blond hair, as he worked in the field; his distinctive laugh carrying across the distance. He was so glad to see that his “baby boy”, as he often thought of Bo, had outgrown the asthma and allergies that had plagued his childhood; making him sickly and shy. He had grown from being small and scrawny to being the tallest of the Dukes, as well as strong, and he certainly wasn’t shy anymore! Bo was very outgoing and handsome, with a quick wit and a brilliant smile. Where Luke kept his feelings to himself, Bo wore his emotions for all to see…happiness, sorrow, anger or love. He sometimes acted as if he didn’t have a brain in his head; but Jesse knew Bo was a lot smarter than he let on. That boy could be deep…but he didn’t let too many people see it. Besides…he just didn’t seem to care what other’s thought about him and he seemed to be fine with letting Luke be in charge. He was a terrible flirt and seemed to fall in love every other week! Jesse laughed at the thought of his nephew’s exploits with and over girls. Bo’s almost cocky self-assurance and open personality often gained him many friends, many female admirers, and the occasional fight; but, he always seemed to come out OK. He was getting better about controlling his recklessness as he got older, but Jesse felt that Bo would never be as stable-acting as Luke.

Jesse’s thoughts then turned to his pretty dark-haired niece. His sweet Daisy had always been the perfect little lady and the ultimate tom-boy. ‘She still is,’ he grinned to himself. She could keep a house running smooth and manage a garage with equal skill. Daisy loved her family and “mothered” the boys as much as they would let her. She also took Bo and Luke’s merciless teasing and over-protectiveness in stride and managed to dish out some teasing of her own. Jesse wanted so much for her to be able to find someone to settle down with and start a family; but he didn’t think anyone would ever be good enough for her or be able to keep up with her! Jesse thought and chuckled to himself, ‘I guess I just want to see some “grandkids” around the farm before I’m gone.’

Jesse Duke’s thoughts began to drift toward the future of the old farm, as they did more and more often as the years progressed. Jesse hoped that the land would stay in the family, but he didn’t really think his nephews and niece would be able to keep up with the responsibility. ‘No, that’s not the truth,’ he realized. Jesse knew the kids were more than capable of running the farm. He just didn’t want to keep his nephews and niece from living their dreams any more than he already had. ‘I should have encouraged them to get away from Hazzard, to make successful lives for themselves…but, I needed them here…not just to help with the farm, but because I needed to keep them with me a while longer,’ he grudgingly admitted to himself. He was glad to see that his kids were so close and had become such good people. His heart swelled with love and pride for his family. ‘I need to tell them all how proud I am of them,’ Jesse decided as he turned in his seat to get down off the tractor. Suddenly, he began to feel strange. He felt very weak and dizzy. His head hurt very badly and he began to feel disoriented. Jesse vaguely felt himself fall from the tractor as darkness overcame him.

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

Bo Duke was only halfway listening to his cousin, Luke, bemoan the fact that he still hadn’t been able to get Katie Pearson to go out with him. Bo’s mind was actually on trying to figure out a way to get his Uncle Jesse to slow down a little. He thought, ‘Jesse tries to do too much for a man his age; not that he can’t, but there’s no need for him to work as hard as he does with Luke and me around.’ Jesse had been both mother and father to him and his cousins. Bo felt he could never repay his uncle for all that he had done for him; but, he could at least help take as much of the workload off his uncle as Jesse would let him! He had also been worrying about Jesse’s health lately, even though he had no obvious reason to do so, and that worry was getting worse. Bo just felt uneasy and the thought of something serious happening to his beloved uncle honestly scared him to death! He didn’t know what he would do without Jesse… or Luke and Daisy, for that matter…one of them had always been there for him. His untraditional family was his whole world and any threat to that world terrified him more than any mishap in a car or close call with the law ever could.
Luke soon noticed that his younger cousin was not paying any attention to him.

“Earth to Bo! Hey, cuz, I know I’m not talking about stuff as exciting as NASCAR or that pretty new girl that works at the Boar’s Nest, but I didn’t think I was boring you to death.” Luke said, laughingly, as he stopped plowing.

“Oh. Sorry, Luke. I’ve just got a lot on my mind.” Bo replied as he stopped the mule he was working with and wiped sweat from his face with his hand.

Luke looked surprised; his crystal blue eyes twinkled with mischief. He laughed, and said “Whoa…that’s something different!”

“Cut it out, Luke. I’m serious.” Bo said agitatedly, glaring at his cousin; his own dark blue eyes were clouded with worry. “I’ve got a bad feeling about Uncle Jesse. I don’t know why…but it’s getting worse.”

Luke sobered instantly and asked, “What do you mean a ‘bad feeling’?”

“It’s probably nothing…” Bo started to say as he looked toward the tree where his uncle sat. Bo’s voice caught in his throat as he watched his uncle fall, heavily, from the tractor to the hard-packed ground.

His voice returned and came out in a panicked scream, “Uncle Jesse!” Bo threw down the plow lines and ran over the uneven ground towards his fallen uncle.
Luke jumped at Bo’s outburst and had to pause in order to calm the mules, excited by the loud scream and flurry of motion. He soon looked in the direction his cousin was running. He paled when he saw Jesse lying beside the tractor. ‘Oh, no!’ Luke thought as he, too, began to run toward the end of the field.

Bo reached his uncle and gently rolled him to his back. He noticed that Jesse was breathing regularly and sighed in relief as he cradled his adopted father’s head on his lap. Luke skidded to a halt beside them.

“What’s wrong?” Luke asked.

“I don’t know. He just fell off the tractor.” replied Bo. “He’s breathing OK, though.” Bo said hopefully.

The boys tried to rouse their uncle with no success. Luke said, “Stay with him, I’m goin’ to the house to call an ambulance.”

“OK…just tell them to hurry.” Bo said, shakily. He was trying to hide his fear from Luke, but his cousin could tell from the look in Bo’s dark-blue eyes that he was scared to death.

“Don’t worry, Bo,” Luke said as he squeezed Bo’s shoulder, “Jesse’s tough. He’ll be OK.” Luke then turned and ran toward the old farm house.

Bo watched Luke run. He slowly turned to look at his uncle, and smoothed the thinning white hair from Jesse’s sweat-dampened brow. He whispered, “I sure hope you’re right, Luke. I really hope so.” Two large tears broke free to slowly trickle down the scared young man’s sun-burned face.

Luke was almost in a panic when he reached the old white house. He felt just as upset as Bo, but he couldn’t fall apart! Daisy and Bo would need him to be strong if something was really wrong with Jesse. ‘Please, God, don’t take my uncle! Not yet! We still need him.’ he prayed as he burst through the kitchen door. Daisy, who was doing laundry, squealed in surprise and accidentally knocked a basket of wet clothes onto the floor.

“Luke! What are you…” she started to say, but was cut off by Luke’s gesture of impatience.

Luke grabbed the phone and nervously dialed the operator: “Mabel, this is Luke Duke. Get me the ambulance service. Hurry! It’s an emergency!”

Daisy looked at Luke, open-mouthed and cold with fear.

Luke fidgeted impatiently as he waited to be connected to the Tri-County ambulance service. After a long couple of minutes, Luke was able to relay Jesse’s condition and location to the ambulance dispatcher.

Daisy then pounced on Luke, “What’s going on? Is Uncle Jesse OK? Is anyone with him?” Her voice getting higher in pitch and louder in volume as her anxiety grew.

Luke, as he hung up the phone, said, “Daisy, calm down! Bo’s with him. All I know is that he passed out and fell off the tractor. I didn’t actually see him fall, but Bo did. He was breathing fine when I left but he was still pretty much out of it.” Luke leaned against the kitchen counter and slowly wiped a shaky hand across his face.

Daisy sat down, hard, in one of the chairs. She looked pale. “Jesse’s never sick other than a cold or the flu. Luke…this could be something bad!” she said.

“I hope not,” said Luke, as he jerked the sweat-soaked bandana off his head. He grabbed a button-up shirt for himself and one for Bo from the pile of clean laundry. “Come on, let’s go meet the ambulance. One of us needs to flag it down and direct it to the field,” Luke stated, calmly. He tried his best to hide his anxiety from Daisy as he slid his faded denim shirt over his sun-reddened back.

The two cousins ran outside, climbed into Daisy’s jeep and sped overland toward the field where their younger cousin sat with their uncle.

“Where are they?” Bo said impatiently. His imagination was getting the best of him. His mind thought up every possible bad scenario concerning his uncle’s health and each one scared him senseless! He didn’t want to think about life without Jesse. He still felt like a little kid at times; he needed to be able to run to his Uncle Jesse to make things right. He and his cousins still needed Jesse’s wisdom to guide them. He stroked his elderly uncle’s hair, and spoke to him while he waited for Luke and the ambulance.

“I’m sorry I haven’t done more to help you, Uncle Jesse. I should have been here helpin’ you more instead of out messin’ around, causing trouble and worrying you. I promise I’ll be better…I’ll do more…you won’t have to work so hard anymore. Please, Uncle Jesse, wake up! Please…wake up…don’t leave me!” Bo sobbed as he hugged his beloved uncle.

Bo was jarred from his thoughts by the faint stirring of the man in his arms. Bo loosened his grip on his uncle and spoke to him, “That’s it! Come on, Uncle Jesse, wake up!”
He heard the sounds of Daisy’s jeep coming across the field and soon heard the distant wail of an ambulance siren. Bo smiled, echoing his uncle’s words from earlier that morning, “About time! Listen, Uncle Jesse! Help’s coming! Come on, wake up for me.” Bo continued to help his uncle come to consciousness.

Jesse Duke struggled to open his eyes, glanced around and looked at his young nephew, confusedly. He then asked in a slightly slurred and halting voice, “What…? Where am I? Why on earth am I lyin’ in the dirt?” Jesse’s eyes held an almost wild look.

Bo’s relief at seeing his uncle awake soon eroded as he saw his uncle in such an agitated and disoriented state. His concern for his uncle was foremost in his mind. As a result, he didn’t even register the tight feeling that was creeping into his own chest.

Luke and Daisy rushed to the two men beside the tractor. Luke looked at Bo and read the concern and confusion in his eyes. Daisy knelt in the dirt next to her uncle while Luke stood behind her, scanning the road beyond for the approaching ambulance.

“Oh, Uncle Jesse,” Daisy said as she hugged Jesse, “I’m so glad you’re awake!”

Jesse just looked at his niece with a bewildered look on his face. This worried Bo even more because Jesse had always responded to Daisy; if only with a grin or a pat on the arm. Daisy met Bo’s eyes and mutual looks of fear and worry passed between the cousins.

Luke had yet to notice his uncle’s confused state. He was just relieved to find him awake and was preoccupied with looking for the ambulance. He knew, however, from Bo’s expression that something wasn’t quite right. He finally spotted the flashing lights.

Luke yelled, “They’re here! I’m gonna show them how to get up here!” He then ran to the edge of the field where there was a well-worn dirt path the ambulance could use to get to where his uncle lay.
The paramedics descended from the vehicle in a whirlwind of motion. Bo reluctantly surrendered his uncle to the ministrations of the medical team. He slowly pulled the bandana from his drying hair and stood with his cousins as they watched their uncle be examined and loaded into the back of the ambulance. Throughout all of this, their proud and independent uncle acted confused and spoke only when prompted. Luke finally noticed Jesse’s confused state and looked at his cousins. ‘This could be serious,’ he thought and he knew his younger cousins thought the same.

The ambulance driver caught their attention: “Your uncle needs to be checked out by a doctor at Tri-County General. We’re ready to go, now. Do either of you want to ride along to help keep him calm?”

The cousins looked at each other; each wanting to go with their uncle. Finally, Bo said, “Daisy, why don’t you go with Jesse? You know more about what to write on all the paperwork than we do.” Luke agreed.

Daisy nodded and replied, “OK, you two follow in Dixie.” She followed the driver to the back of the ambulance and was helped in to sit beside Jesse. He gave her a weak smile. Daisy gave him a wobbly smile in return as she tried to bite back her tears at seeing her uncle in such a state. She grabbed Jesse’s hand and gently spoke to him as the doors were closed. The two Duke boys watched as the vehicle stirred up dust as it sped down the dirt path with its sirens wailing and lights flashing.

The young men raced toward Capital City and Tri-County General Hospital. Luke was driving and trying to keep his mind focused on the road ahead of him. Bo struggled into his favorite yellow shirt Luke had brought for him as he watched the ambulance that was just ahead of them. Bo began to notice that his chest was feeling tighter and that he was starting to feel slightly short of breath. ‘If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was havin’ an asthma attack…but I can’t be!’ he thought, ‘I’ve outgrown that.’ He had been plagued with asthma as a child, but he hadn’t had any breathing problems of any significance since Junior High. He dismissed the feelings as “just nerves” and tried not to think about it. His concern should be for Jesse, not himself.
Bo and Luke made the trip to the hospital in relative silence; both too worried about their uncle and too afraid to say their thought aloud. They each prayed for Jesse’s safe return home. In the ambulance ahead, Daisy prayed the same prayer. The silence was briefly interrupted when Deputy Enos Strait jumped in on the CB to ask if everything was alright. (In typical small town fashion, Enos had heard from the telephone operator that Luke had called for an ambulance to come to the farm.) Luke explained the situation and Enos offered his help, if needed. Their friend, Cooter Davenport, had been listening to the conversation between Enos and Luke. Cooter’s voice, unusually serious, came through over the air waves. The mechanic offered his help, as well, and said he would say a prayer for Jesse. Bo and Luke thanked their friends and continued on their journey.

Some twenty minutes later, the Duke family arrived at Tri-County General. Jesse was unloaded from the ambulance and whisked to the ER. Daisy was given a stack of admission forms to fill out while she waited to hear from the doctor. Bo and Luke hurried into the waiting room after they had circled the small parking lot twice before finding a parking space.

“Any news?” Bo and Luke asked, simultaneously.

Daisy replied, “No…not officially.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Bo, with irritation sounding through his voice, as he finished tucking in his shirt.

“Well, the paramedics couldn’t say for sure…they can’t say anything definite until a doctor sees him…” nervously twisting the tissue she held “but they thought Uncle Jesse may have had a light stroke.” Daisy said; her voice cracking due to unshed tears.

Upon hearing this, Luke paled and his knees buckled. If Bo had not steered him toward the nearest chair, he might have fallen. “A stroke,” Luke whispered as he sat down, heavily, “Is he paralyzed or something?”

“I don’t think so, Luke. He was moving OK in the ambulance.” said Daisy. “He just seemed so confused and had a little trouble talking. I’m scared ya’ll! I’ve never seen Uncle Jesse look so…so…” Daisy grasped for words to describe her feelings.

“Helpless.” Bo quietly finished for her.

The youngest Duke had at first seemed to take this news rather well…almost too well (for Bo, that is) and the other two cousins looked up at him with concern. Bo stood perfectly still, his eyes distant, and his skin paling under his sunburn. He was thinking about how this scene seemed hauntingly similar to one of the awful scenarios that played through his mind as he waited with Jesse for the ambulance’s arrival. It hurt him to think of his strong uncle being so fragile and weak. His uncle could be crippled or sick for the rest of his life! ‘NO!’ Bo thought. Worse yet, if his nightmarish daydream came true, Jesse might not make it. ‘He CAN’T die! Not yet!’ Bo screamed in his mind.

“Lord, no! Please! No!” Bo whispered as he continued to stare blankly down the hallway. He didn’t even feel the tears streaking his face or seem to notice his own increasingly labored breathing.

Luke looked worriedly at Bo. He could tell that his younger cousin was working himself into a fine state of nerves. ‘If he don’t calm down, he’s gonna make himself sick or something.’ As if in response to Luke’s thoughts, Bo began to wheeze loudly and cough. Luke jumped up and grabbed Bo’s arm. He led Bo over to the hard plastic waiting-room chairs and sat him next to Daisy.

“Bo, settle down! Jesse’s in good hands. The doctors will take care of him and we’ll be able to see him in a little while.” Luke said in a quiet, calming voice as he put a comforting arm around his cousin’s shoulders.

“You… you don’t understand!” Bo gasped between breaths and coughs. “I shoulda been watching him closer. I… I…” Bo was unable to finish. His breathing became more difficult as he became more anxious.

“Bo, you couldn’t have known this was going to happen. Uncle Jesse was fine this morning,” Daisy said as she put her hand on his knee.

“But,” Bo wheezed, “it DID! What if he dies? That can’t happen! IT JUST CAN’T!” Bo yelled and immediately grimaced in pain as he fell into a vicious coughing fit.

Luke tried to calm Bo, but was having no luck. Bo’s chest heaved and his rough breathing appeared to be painful. He wheezed with every breath and sheer panic was visible in his wide dark-blue eyes.

Luke became doubly worried. His cousin hadn’t had a full-blown asthma attack since he was thirteen. They all thought he had outgrown it. Bo didn’t even have to take any more medication or carry an inhaler with him like he used to when he was younger.

“Daisy, I don’t suppose you have one of Bo’s old inhalers in your purse, do you?” Luke asked, desperately.

“Of course not, Luke…and if I did, it would be so old that it wouldn’t do him any good!” Daisy replied anxiously.

“Great,” Luke said exasperatedly as he ran a hand through his dark, wavy hair.

Bo continued to wheeze, becoming paler and more nervous by the second, which did nothing to help his asthma attack. He knew worrying didn’t do him any good, but it was awfully hard not to worry when you couldn’t breathe! His chest constricted painfully; each breath harder to obtain than the last. Bo was quickly becoming light-headed due to the lack of oxygen and he was afraid he was going to pass out, right there in the waiting room, if he didn’t get some relief soon. He looked up at Luke, pleading with his eyes for help of any kind. Luke noted the scared, begging look in Bo’s eyes. He had an instant flashback to when the two of them were children and Bo would give him the same look whenever they got into trouble. Bo had always looked up to him and trusted him to get them out of any tight spot.

‘Sometimes,’ Luke thought, ‘having someone depend on me this much is almost too much to deal with…especially when I’m scared out of my wits!’

Luke laid a strong hand on his almost-brother’s head and told him, “Don’t worry, Bo. I’ll get you some help. I haven’t let you down yet, have I?” Bo gave a slight smile and shook his head as he continued to struggle to breathe.

Luke ran up to the nurses’ desk. He frantically looked for anyone who could help Bo. The space behind the desk was currently unoccupied and the doors to the ER were closed so Luke couldn’t even get the attention of any passing hospital staff. He began to get angry and hollered, “Is there anybody here that can help me! I need a nurse or doctor or somebody… please!” Luke slapped the desk in frustration and had started to go behind the desk in order to enter the ER when he was almost bowled over by someone coming through the swinging doors. A petite brown-haired nurse with a huge stack of patient charts in her arms backed through the doors, oblivious to the fact that she had almost hit someone.

Luke grabbed the nurse’s arm, startling her. He sighed in relief and said, “Finally! I need some help. My cousin’s in the waiting room and he’s having an asthma attack.”

The pretty young nurse immediately laid down her charts, pulled her stethoscope from the pocket of her scrubs and said, “Lead the way.”

Luke led the nurse to the waiting area. He noticed that Bo was sitting hunched over, his hands on his knees, wheezing loudly. Daisy gently rubbed Bo’s back and tried to calm him as much as she could. The youngest Duke did not seem to be any worse, but he sure wasn’t any better.

The brunette nurse soon stood in front of Bo. She knelt down before him and said, “I’m a nurse and I’m here to help. I need to listen to your lungs, OK?” Bo nodded; he had closed his eyes to ward off the increasing feeling of dizziness he was having, so he didn’t see the woman who knelt by him… but he was instantly comforted by her soft, gentle voice and promise of help. The nurse quickly unbuttoned Bo’s shirt and placed the cold stethoscope on his chest. She moved the instrument over his chest and his back as she listened to his labored breathing. Apparently, she had not liked what she heard, because she ran to the nearest in-house phone and paged an orderly to the waiting room with a wheelchair and respiratory therapy to the ER: STAT!

The nurse told the Duke cousins, “His lungs are very tight. He needs a breathing treatment fast and needs to be seen by a doctor.” She turned to the dark-haired man next to her patient. “Has your cousin ever had an attack like this before?” she asked Luke.

“Yeah…but that was when he was a kid. We all thought he had outgrown it.” Luke said, tensely, as he rubbed the back of his neck. He looked at Bo with concern

A middle-aged orderly soon arrived with a wheelchair. Daisy and Luke managed to get their wheezing, light-headed cousin, who still had his eyes tightly shut, into the seat and Bo was quickly whisked back into the recesses of the ER. The pretty brunette nurse followed behind. She stopped, turned and said, “I’m embarrassed to ask this…but, what’s your cousin’s name? I guess I got too excited to ask earlier.” she grinned, sheepishly.

Luke was struck dumb at the sight of that silly grin. This little nurse was very cute…she wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous or anything, but he liked what he saw. He couldn’t help but think that he would like to know her better after all this was over. He wished he had looked more closely at her name tag.

Daisy noticed Luke’s lack of comment and replied, “His name’s Bo…Bo Duke.”

“Thanks!” the nurse said as she hurried after Bo.

Bo was soon sitting on a hard bed behind some curtains in the Tri-County ER. He was still dizzy, but he had managed to keep his eyes open for the last few minutes without it getting worse. He could hear the activity going on around him and it made him even antsier. Bo knew Daisy and Luke were worried about their uncle and now, about him! ‘I’m more trouble than I’m worth,’ he thought, miserably. He began to cough again and have more difficulty breathing as he waited for the doctor. The curtains parted and through them walked a woman in white. ‘She’s the cutest little angel I’ve ever seen…’ Bo thought through his pain. It was the nurse from the waiting room, he realized, when he heard her voice as she said “Hi”. She wore white nurse’s scrubs and had her shoulder-length, straight, brown hair tied back into a ponytail with a white ribbon. Her stethoscope hung around her neck and her soft green eyes held a look of genuine concern. The nurse seemed to be around his age, had a curvy figure and stood, at the most, 5’3”. To Bo, she seemed tiny and delicate. He was absolutely captivated with her. She was just so adorable! Her eyes, the freckles across her nose, and her dimples all seemed to capture his attention.

Bo momentarily forgot his struggle to breathe, but was soon reminded why he had even met this woman by a harsh spell of painful coughing. The young nurse quickly came to Bo’s side and gently laid a small, but strong, hand on his arm. “The respiratory therapist is on his way. You’re gonna get some relief soon. I promise.” she said in her soft, musical (and Bo thought, sexy sounding) drawl. Bo thought, ‘with a voice like that, I’ll bet she can sing…and…she’s definitely Southern, but that doesn’t sound like a Georgia accent…I wonder where she’s from?’

Soft-green eyes and dark-blue eyes met momentarily and Bo felt a jolt of electricity surge through him. He had never felt anything that strong before when looking at a girl he had just met, not even when he met that carnival lady, Diane! Bo shook the strange feeling off and chalked it up to his lack of oxygen as he continued to wheeze.

The nurse stepped back and looked at him with a mixture of concern and brief confusion before she treated Bo with a wide, dimpled smile. “Well, I guess I should introduce myself…my name’s Meghan Riley, RN.” she said, reaching out to shake Bo’s hand. “I already know your name. It’s Bo Duke; am I right?” she asked with a tilt of her head, a slightly naughty-looking raised eyebrow and a trill of easy laughter.

(For some reason, Bo was instantly reminded of Sally Field’s character, “Frog”, in his favorite movie, “Smokey and the Bandit”.) The tall young blond was hooked! Unbeknownst to her, all Meghan Riley, RN needed to do was reel him in!

Bo nodded and smiled, weakly, back at her. He wished he could do some of his famous sweet-talking, but even if he had felt like it, he wouldn’t have been able to think of anything to say. He had a strong desire to impress this woman and right now he didn’t have a clue how to do that!

This was uncharted territory for him. Bo Duke…the biggest flirt in three counties…had never been at a loss for what to say to a girl! He knew he definitely wanted to get to know this little woman better. ‘Maybe later I could…’ Bo briefly let himself think before guilt over thinking about a possible date when his uncle lay in the hospital consumed him.

A man in his late forties, wearing navy-blue scrubs and carrying an equipment case entered the little cubicle where Bo sat.

Meghan smiled again and said “Don here is going to help you. I’d better get back to my unit… I have patients waiting.” At Bo’s puzzled look she explained, “I actually work on another floor. I was just down here to pick up some patient charts when your cousin stopped me…and …well…I just couldn’t bring myself to leave you until I knew you were in good hands.” Meghan seemed to blush and looked at the floor while she grinned crookedly and backed out of the little room.

Bo watched with obvious disappointment as Meghan slipped behind the curtain and disappeared from his sight.

Don, the respiratory therapist, soon had a nebulizer with breathing medication ready for Bo. The older man pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the young Duke’s breathing. Don looked serious and said, “Sounds like you don’t need to wait around much longer, son. Let’s get this breathing treatment started before you croak on me.”
Bo sat on the hard bed, inhaling the medication through the plastic tube of the nebulizer until his lungs loosened and his coughing decreased. After about thirty minutes, a tired and harried looking ER doctor came in to assess his condition. The doctor listened to his lungs and told him the attack may have been triggered by the extreme emotional stress caused by his uncle’s illness. The physician warned him that he could have another attack and to seek help before it got severe. Bo was then advised to follow-up with his family doctor, Doctor Appleby, at his office in Hazzard and to get a prescription for an inhaler to keep with him. He was soon free to return to the waiting room and resume his worrying about his uncle and his daydreaming about the little nurse named Meghan.

Luke paced the floor of the small waiting area; he watched the swinging ER doors like a hawk. He was getting on Daisy’s nerves, but she knew that this was just his way of coping with the stress of the day. She had already shredded several tissues and paper cups during her wait, so she really couldn’t say anything about Luke’s pacing. The doors swung open and Bo emerged; he was still quite pale but he was buttoning his shirt, walking (somewhat slowly) on his own and apparently doing much better. Luke and Daisy ran to him, eager to hear how their younger cousin was feeling.

“Are you OK, Bo?” Luke asked, quietly, as he placed an arm around his cousin’s shoulder.
“Yeah,” said Bo, “I’m still wheezing a little, but the doctor said the medication would last for a few hours. He thinks the asthma attack was caused by me worrying so much over Uncle Jesse.”

“Well, I see how that could happen…but, don’t you dare do that again, Bo Duke! I don’t think my nerves could stand it!” said Daisy, with tears of relief shining in her eyes, as she pulled him into a quick hug.

“I’m sorry for worrying ya’ll…” said Bo, dejectedly, “…I had no idea that this would happen. I shouldn’t have gotten so worked up, but I couldn’t help it! I was so worried and all…” he rambled.

“Hush, Bo. Don’t blame yourself. You’ll be back in the ER if you start this again.” said Luke, gently, but with a slightly exasperated look on his face.

Before any of the cousins could say more, a black man of average height and build, wearing a white lab-coat approached them. “Are you three related to Mr. Jesse Duke?” the doctor asked.

“Yes,” said Luke, leading the others to stand in front of this bearer of news.
“Are you our uncle’s doctor?” said Daisy.

The doctor nodded, smiled, and said “I’m Doctor Wilson and I’m handling your uncle’s care.”

“How is he?” Bo and Luke said simultaneously. Daisy looked at them and had to crack a small smile. Sometimes she still marveled at how close the two of them were…almost thinking the same things at the same time.

The doctor looked at the cousins for a minute and said “Let’s sit down over here and discuss things.”

The cousins looked at each other and paled. ‘It must be bad if the doctor wants us to sit down,’ they all thought.

The perceptive doctor caught their looks and reassured them by saying, “Now don’t get excited. It’s not that bad! I just have a lot to say and I didn’t think we would want to stand for that long.”

The three young Dukes let out a collective sigh of relief at those words.

Dr. Wilson began to speak after everyone was sitting and comfortable. “Your uncle is doing quite well at the moment. According to the lab work and the scans, he seems to have suffered a very mild stroke. There appears to be no major damage such as paralysis or lingering speech difficulty, though. He has some weakness on his left side and he may have periods of memory loss or mild confusion for the next few days. The weakness will improve with time and he should have no lasting effects. I’d like to keep him here at least over night in order to monitor his condition. He will most likely need a cane or some other support to get around until he is at full strength. We’ll provide him with one and instruct him on how to use it safely before he goes home. He’ll be on a couple of prescriptions that he will need to take daily and I will send a pamphlet on diet restrictions and recommendations with him at discharge.”

The doctor took a deep breath and pushed himself up from his chair; slightly holding his hand to his back as he did so.
“I’ll tell you one thing…Mr. Duke already seems to have better mental clarity than when he was first admitted and he is very adamant about wanting to go home!” the doctor finished with a smile and shake of his head.

Luke and his cousins smiled at that comment. “That sounds like our Uncle Jesse.” Luke said. Bo was still trying to get a hold of all that the doctor had said; but he was grateful that his uncle seemed to be doing better and would recover.

Dr. Wilson smiled at the three young people and said, “He’s in room 618 if you’re ready to see him.”

Bo practically leapt from his chair, “Yes! Can we go now?”

The doctor replied, “Go ahead, but don’t be surprised if your uncle acts a bit differently. It’s common for stroke patients to feel depressed, angry, or have a slight change in personality until they are able to regain some sense of normalcy and independence.”

Bo nodded and ran toward the elevators. “Thank you Dr. Wilson,” Daisy said as she hurried after her cousin. Luke shook the doctor’s hand and thanked him again before running to catch the elevator as Bo held the doors open for him.

The doctor looked after the three young people and thought to himself, ‘It’s a pity all families can’t be that close.’ He then turned and retreated into the bustle of the ER.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *