by: Marty Chrisman
Bo paced the room anxiously. He wished Daisy and Uncle Jesse would hurry up. The doctor said he could go home as soon as they got there. He was still sore and stiff and his chest still hurt like hell if he coughed or tried to lift anything too heavy but he could handle it. The doctor said the bandages would have to stay on for at least another week. Bo couldn’t wait to get them off, he felt like he could barely breathe they were wrapped so tightly around his chest. He knew he was lucky. The kind of injury he’d had was one of the most common causes of death in car accidents.
But right now, his mind was on Luke, just like it had been for the last week and a half. He hadn’t had any dreams for the last two nights and that both worried and scared him. Jesse had promised that he could go see Luke. He planned on doing that before he did anything else and that included going home. His jaw was set in that stubborn Duke way that spelled trouble if anyone tried to cross him on that.
Jesse and Daisy finally arrived. After a few seconds of rather heated debate, Jesse finally agreed to take him to Atlanta to see Luke right away instead of waiting till later that afternoon but they would have to drop Daisy off at the farm first because she had to work.
Bo was lost in his own thoughts on the way to Atlanta. He spoke when spoken too but otherwise didn’t try to keep up a conversation. Jesse finally gave up trying. Jesse understood Bo’s need to see Luke and he believed it might actually help Luke too. The doctor had told Jesse the day before that they were going to start tapering off the drugs that were keeping Luke in the coma. His body had gotten stronger during the past two weeks and hopefully as the drugs were decreased, he would start to come out of the coma on his own. He was more or less breathing on his own again which was a very encouraging sign and soon they should be able to remove the pacemaker. But until he woke up, they still wouldn’t know exactly what they were dealing with as far as brain damage from the combination of the stroke and the head injury.
When Bo saw Luke for the first time since the accident, his face paled but he immediately went to his cousin’s side and took his hand. In a quiet voice that only shook a little, he said “Hey, cuz. It’s me. I told you I’d get here as soon as I could.” He gently rubbed Luke’s hand as he spoke to him “Thanks for waiting around for me.” Bo swallowed hard trying to dislodge the lump that rose in his throat. It was hard to see Luke lying there like that, so still and quiet, so unresponsive. There was no indication that Luke was even aware that Bo was there. But somehow, just for the briefest of moments, Bo sensed that he did. He realized that the connection was still there between them, weak and faltering, but still there. He took a deep slow breath even though it hurt his chest “We’re gonna get through this thing together. Okay?”
Jesse let Bo stay with Luke for an hour but then he insisted that they leave. Bo needed to go home and get some rest even if he didn’t think so. Reluctantly, Bo finally agreed. By the time they got back to the farm, he was glad he had. He was exhausted from the unaccustomed exertion. The forced inactivity since the accident had left him weaker than he had been willing to admit. But he had seen Luke and Luke knew he that was there now. That was the important thing.
Daisy fussed over him and made him all his favorites for supper. After they had eaten, Cooter showed up to welcome Bo home. They made small talk for awhile then Bo surprised Jesse and Cooter by telling Cooter that he wanted to see The General Lee.
“You sure about that?” Cooter asked, knowing how badly the General was crashed.
‘I’m sure.” Bo said in a fiercely determined voice
“Alright.” Cooter reluctantly agreed. They went outside to his wreaker and Bo climbed into the cab. Cooter drove to his farm which was only a few miles away. They climbed out of the truck and walked across the barnyard to the barn. Cooter pushed open the doors and Bo saw the General for the first time since the accident.
He caught his breath sharply. The General was totaled. There were long scrapes along the driver’s side where Bo had hit the guard rail and the front wheel on that side was shredded and twisted at a crazy angle. The windshield was completely shattered with an indentation in the glass on the passengers side where Luke had apparently been thrown into it during the accident. But the worst damage was on Luke’s side of the car. That entire side was caved in, from the front fender on back to trunk. When Bo looked into the car, he saw the smashed in dash on Luke’s side of the car and the bent steering wheel on his side. And the dried blood all over the front seat. He had to fight back the nausea that rose in his throat. It was hard to believe that either one of them had survived the crash, especially Luke.
“No wonder Luke’s hurt so bad…” Bo muttered, swaying a little on his feet as he straightened up from looking inside the car.
“I think we best git you back home.” Cooter said, reaching out for his friends arm “I don’t think coming here was such a good idea.”
“I had to see The General.” Bo said, brushing away Cooter’s hand. He slumped down on a bale of straw and lowered his head fighting back the nausea that threatened to overwhelm him. He hadn’t expected it to be quite this bad. It was a miracle that Luke hadn’t been killed on impact and that he had held on this long. When Bo was feeling better, Cooter took him back to the farm.
Bo went to the room he’d shared with Luke since they were small children and closed the door. Ignoring his own bed, he walked over and laid down on Luke’s bed. Here in this room where they had shared so many laughs and stories and secrets, he could feel the connection to Luke. Slowly, his eyes closed and he slept. And dreamed.
He was in the family cemetery on the hill behind the barn. And he was looking at a freshly drug grave and a tombstone with the name Lukas Kristopher Duke engraved on it. Bo felt his heart twist into a knot. Then he heard Luke’s voice behind him: “It’s okay, cuz….I’m not dead not.” Bo turned around and saw Luke standing there, smiling at him.
“I came as soon as I could.” Bo told him with tears gathering in his eyes. “I know you did….and I’m glad you’re finally here.” Luke told him with a crooked smile “I need you, cuz…..I’m too tired to keep fighting by myself.” Bo looked at his older cousin with a fierce determination “You don’t have to. We’re in this together now. And I’m not going to let you go”