Joining the Dream, pt. 1

by: Essy Jane

I suppose when telling a story you go overboard about yourself. It’s not
your fault it’s that the story has to do with you. Sometimes you think about
other people along the way and other times you don’t. Many people tell
stories about their good times and other stories are about their bad times.
I suppose that this story is both though at first it doesn’t seem like it.

My feelings along the lines of war are one of hatred. I don’t like it and
not a person can convince me otherwise. Just remember that. You see that is
important in the end and soon you will know why. You see all of these war
films talking about how this is this and that is that. You seem them talk
about the romance of war. I don’t think they’re right. War is ugly. It’s not
heroic its plain old dumb. I think no one understands it until they go
through it.

Things happen for a reason a lot of times other times we make them happen. I
choose my own destiny and I hope others get to choose theirs. There are some
people that are born to lead and others that make it happen. I made it
happen. I guess I should just start at the beginning though. The story
doesn’t make sense without the beginning. But it is so hard to remember that
far back…not for me but for some it really is.

I am Bo Duke. At the time I wasn’t all that old. I am younger than everyone
in my house. I live with my Uncle Jesse. Well more than that though. I also
live with my cousins Luke, Daisy, Coy and Vance. Everyone is older than me…I
said that already though. Oh well, repetitive sentences seem to stick in
people’s minds more.

I don’t have a father nor do I have a mother. I don’t care about that
though. My mother died giving birth to me and my father died in an
avalanche. Both died on my birthday which does trouble me some but not too
much. It has been dealt with in my mind for the most part. However there is
one time it does bother me and that’s on my birthday. I often think of what
kind of people they are.

Being a Duke has certain responsibilities. You need to be kind and not take
advantage of girls. Well that’s my Uncle’s rules anyway. You need to be
wonderful all the time. When you have an Uncle like Uncle Jesse you need to
be good. There’s nothing else that would make someone happier than to see
what good your caregiver taught you rub off on you too. I am not saying it
is a bad thing but I am saying you have to live up to large standards.

It had been two weeks since Luke had turned 18 years old. Vance, Coy, Luke
and I were walking back from a nice afternoon of fishing. We should have
brought Daisy but it was a guy thing. I wouldn’t leave her out of things
most of the time but this was one of those days where I just had to be with
my cousins. Okay, okay, she’s my cousin too but I felt that it was a boy’s
day out. I don’t like leaving her out of things.

Daisy’s a remarkable person. She taught me how to knit and everything. But
the only problem is that I just do not know how to cook. It doesn’t matter
how hard she tries, neither Daisy nor anyone else on the American continent
can teach me how to cook. I don’t why I can’t seem to learn I suppose that’s
the way I am.

I tell you, I must have the shortest attention span ever. I can’t seem to
keep my mind on one topic. They roll through my head like bowling balls
aching to hit the pins. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t want stay on course
for the perfect strike. It depends. I wish I could keep my mind on things
just a bit better.

Anyway, back to the fishing trip, we walked home not because we had to. We
thought we could use the exercise. We weren’t like these big chubby guys but
hey, keeping up good exercise was important. Besides that, having someone to
exercise with is wonderful. I like being a string bean. It’s really neat to
have all these girls all around you telling you just how dang gorgeous you
really are. I am not vein or anything even though more teen boys worry about
their looks than average men.

I just mean I don’t need to be fat. I would rather exercise than become
large. I know that just because you aren’t perfect shaped it doesn’t mean
you ain’t nice. Take Lulu, she’s a wonderful person. She does so much for
this place. Lulu can bring out the best in her husband. Well anyway I just
don’t want to loose my figure. There’s something about it that makes me feel
like a Duke. Without it…I don’t know how I would feel without it.

We loved doing anything physical. Luke loved to play football a lot when he
was in school. He taught me how to play of course. I was good at it too.
Then there was basketball and wrestling as well. I especially liked
wrestling girls when it came time to date them. Luke always told me that
this was my best sport out of all of them. I simply replied, “I get lots of
practice.”

These were tough times for everyone. With a war going on and all those women
alone it wasn’t a wonder why everyone was so depressed. There were things
that just didn’t seem fun to people anymore. All these notices went out
about Uncle Sam needing us. Well I would go except I am just too dang young.
Some people talked about how honorable it was to be in the war and how great
people are that join. I don’t know about stuff like that. All that I know is
that sometimes things aren’t always as they seem.

“Luke, what do you want to do with your life now?” I asked him. Luke smiled
and took a deep breath letting it out slowly. He was a smart person and
could go mighty far with schooling and everything. I always thought he
would. Luke had a talent when it came to school.

“Bo, I don’t think I will be doing anything but farming,” Luke replied. How
could he say that? He was much more than a farmer. He could be a nuclear
physicist. He could be anything he wanted to. Luke was always an A+ student.
How could he possibly do this to himself? Luke couldn’t stay here.

“Why would you want to waste your life like that?”

“Are you against farming or something?” Why would he say something like
that? I don’t get him. I have lived on a farm all of my life and he has the
nerve to pull something like that on me? I didn’t understand what his
problem was.

“How could you even think that about me Luke Duke?”

“I can think whatever I want to. I want to follow in my Uncle’s footsteps.”

“I just think you can do way more in your lifetime. I mean look at you. They
offered to give you a scholarship for academic achievement and for sports.
Luke you could go to the best collages with that. You don’t know what you
are missing.”

“Bo I am not an inside guy and you know that. I can’t stay in school any
longer. You don’t need much education to be a farmer.” Luke you are not
doing the right thing. That’s all that I could think about. He wasn’t doing
the right thing with his life. Luke didn’t understand what I was saying. I
wish he would just change his dang mind. Sometimes Luke seemed like the
smartest person in the world and the next he was doing something stupid
again. I don’t understand why he has to hold himself back. Luke is too smart
for something like that. I just wanted to beat him over the head.

All went silent after that for a while. Coy wanted to break the silence and
I could see it in his face. Coy hated silence more than anything else in the
world. He would rather be in a noisy class room then be outside on the warm
grass in summer drinking nothing but lemonade. That kid was an interesting
one for sure. He came here just three years ago with Vance. I didn’t like it
much. I mean that guy was more than annoying. His mom sent him over because
he was getting beaten up at school. Of course Coy wouldn’t leave without
Vance so both of them came.

Vance was an okay creature. He was liked a lot in school. Vance was somewhat
like Luke but not quite. Vance kept to himself more than Luke. I wanted to
talk to him once and it ended up being him that left. I suppose he hated it
here too. He was from farm country as well but just didn’t seem to get the
hang of Hazzard. Unlike normal small farming places, Hazzard was full of
adventure. Coy and Vance both weren’t used to it. “Luke, can you really
understand this war in Vietnam?” Coy questioned his older cousin.

“Well I’m just glad I haven’t been send over there yet,” Luke replied.

“What do you think the boys out there would be doing?”

“There would be a lot of noise. I don’t “I am sorry, I wanted to…”

“You are the smart one Luke, I love talking to you because you’re so smart.”

“I ain’t all that smart. I couldn’t never be all that smart Bo and you know
it.” I didn’t really know what to say to Luke. After all, he was my favorite
cousin. I thought he was smart but then again maybe I was just being biased.
I have admired Luke from afar. I can never quite add up to him but I still
like him. My cousin has taught me a lot about my life. I am still learning
and it will take me a couple of years to get that temper under control but
no one is perfect.

“Luke, you ain’t stupid. You could never be stupid. You’re the one that
comes up with all of these great ideas. Heck I can’t even come up with one.
I suppose you’re better than me in a lot of ways. You are very smart though
and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” I told him. Luke laughed and I
wondered why but was afraid to ask. I gave up before trying and just hoped
he would tell me why.

“Luke you are very well known in Hazzard, I just wish I was as amazing as
you,” Vance commented as he picked up a giant rock and tossed in the air.
Vance wanted to belong somewhere. I knew it by his eyes. That kid wanted to
make something of himself. It was hard in this town to run down a reputation
of being great.

“Vance, Bo, you never have to worry about any of that stuff. You two will
find your own way in life. I don’t care if it takes you forever you two will
get it someday. As will you Coy,” Luke said.

“I won’t get far. I ain’t anything but a big sap baby,” Coy answered. I had
to laugh at that one. It was true. This kid couldn’t out run anyone. He
wasn’t a fighter and he wasn’t even close to being a man. I wonder if he
would ever make the cut for a team. Oh well, maybe that ain’t Coy’s thing.

“Don’t put yourself down.”

“I can’t tell lies Luke. You know it’s the truth. That’s why Mom sent me
down here with Vance. I was getting beaten up all the time. Luke they wanted
me to be like you.”

“You can’t be like me; you are your own person with your own mind so just
forget that thing you just said.”

“I wish that I was like you.”

“Don’t, I ain’t the best person in the world to be like.”

“You are a great example.”

“So is Uncle Jesse. You will learn more from him than me. Trust me, if you
want to stop being beaten up you will find a way for it to happen.”

Uncle Jesse is great. He is known by everyone in this town. We are told to
be respectable because of our name being so popular in the County. I don’t
mind it too much. Although I get in trouble a lot Uncle Jesse smiles and
simply shrugs it off. I guess he knows I have to learn the hard way.

We were all kicking the stones down the road when Uncle Jesse’s pick-up
truck drives by. He stops and offers everyone a ride. Luke and I get front
seat and the other two sit in the back of the pick-up dangling their feet as
they go along.

Uncle Jesse gazed at Luke regretfully as if something was wrong with him. He
looked at him with a sense of deep lament. “Luke this telegram was sent for
you today. You’ve been drafted,” Uncle Jesse stated as he wiped the tears
from his eyes.

Luke was shocked, not saying a word. He took a deep breath and looked at me
with worried eyes. I don’t know why in the world he was concerned about me.
He was the one that might be going off to war. I didn’t want this to happen
to him. Luke wouldn’t feel good about himself there just as I wouldn’t feel
good about him being there. I suppose I was being selfish but I didn’t care.
I was hoping he would just say no. Just tell everyone to shove before he
used his powerful fists and sent them all to the ground. I didn’t want this
to happen to my cousin for any reason.

I couldn’t believe that they were doing this. Well I knew my good old cousin
wasn’t about to take a mission like this. In all honesty he was smarter than
that. Luke is an amazing person. I mean he can fight more people than I have
ever seen. Luke is a great person that’s for sure. I couldn’t see him being
in the military.

I couldn’t see myself in the army either. I mean I am not the disciplinary
fellow. I like following my own rules and making my own laws. I would rather
hit someone in the face then follow their rules. It’s just the way that I
am. Sometimes Uncle Jesse says that I am going to regret what I do but I
don’t care. There is nothing like hitting someone to make you feel just a
little bit better. I know I wouldn’t be able to be in the army. If a person
yells at me too much I get mad. I will hurt him too. I don’t care how many
chores I have to do but I will get even.

What Luke was about to say didn’t make me feel good! He was going to leave
me and I didn’t want him to. With all my heart I would rather go with him
than leave him alone there. He couldn’t be going though. We were just
talking about the noise and everything. Luke was afraid of loud noises ever
since he was a child. I don’t know how he will be able to deal with those
kinds of things. He’s my cousin and a good one at that.

Luke wouldn’t want to go over to that dumb war. There are so many bad things
to it. I mean for one you have to kill people. Now does anyone want to have
the blood stains on their hands? Do they want to see the people they kill?
What is the point to this dang war? I hate that they’re doing this. I can’t
stand thinking to what happened to people.

Why are people dying and rotting? Well it is all because of this dang
country wanting to do something about communism. If I said that in front of
the government I would be a communist though I have never wanted to go to
that system. Heck I don’t care for it but there are some that like it. Why
don’t we leave them alone? I am sure they would leave us alone if we left
them alone. Besides that, I am sure that if their system is so dang bad it
will crumble and fall apart.

Luke finally opened his mouth. I didn’t like what he was going to say. I
didn’t want him to even say it. There was something about him going to war
that gave me the creeps. I didn’t want it happening no matter what. I
couldn’t have it happen.

“I guess sometimes this family isn’t as lucky as it’s supposed to be. But
I’ll serve my country,” Luke replied. I pounded on the dash board hard. I
wasn’t willing to let my cousin die out there.

“Run away Luke! You don’t have to do it. Go to Canada or China. Please…I
don’t want you to get killed,” I pleaded. But there was no way he’d fumble.
No way would he take a small turn in life for me. I loved my cousin dearly.
He was more like a brother than any of my other cousins.

“Bo, I can’t. I have to serve my country with liberty and justice. We have
to protect the democracy.”

“But just a second ago you said…”

“That was a second ago. This is now. You know what this war can mean. I have
to do what’s right.” I couldn’t believe how selfish I was being. I couldn’t
accept this. I just couldn’t. He was my best friend. He protected me though
everything. I didn’t want to loose that. I couldn’t loose that friendship.
Luke talked to me when I felt troubled. He helped me out of the tightest
spots. I couldn’t just let him go off to war. I couldn’t let Luke forget me.

But Luke packed to go. This was the hardest thing in the world to deal with.
The bottom bunk would be so lonesome without old Luke there. What would I do
if I had one of those weird nightmares? Vance and Coy just don’t understand
them. Luke will stay up all night listening to me jabber on. Those two
couldn’t hear on episode of a show.

I don’t know I just couldn’t leave him. Or he couldn’t leave me, one of the
two. I Guess I just wanted Luke to stay. But then I was angry. I was angry
he was leaving me to go there. I wanted to fight too. I wanted to go there
and experience what he was with him. I didn’t want to be lonely. I wanted to
show him that I was just as tough as he was…maybe I was even strong than he
was.

But I’m plain old young. Everything about me is young. Right down to the
peach fuzz on my chin. It’s not fair, why couldn’t I be the one to sacrifice
my world? Luke was the better one. He was so much kinder than I. Luke had
this wonderful quality about him that I just didn’t want to ever miss out
on. I on the other hand was the reckless one. I risked his butt every time
I got in trouble. I suppose that he was meant to be there for me.

“Luke you can’t leave,” I pleaded with him.

“Bo this is my destiny. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t supposed to,” Luke
replied.

“You can’t leave Luke. Who in the world can I talk to about my day?”

“Vance is here Bo. Vance will be with you always. Even when I am not here he
will be here. Besides, you have a pen and paper. You can write me long and
detailed letters. You can even write me about who stepped on your shoelaces.
Bo I will read every word of it.”

“It’s not the same. I won’t get a response from you for weeks. What if I
have a crisis? Vance and Coy don’t understand. They’re so…”

“You just ain’t used to them. Give them both a chance maybe you’ll find
something in them that you didn’t see before.”

“I have looked for every way I can to get to know them.”

“You will Bo I know you will. You are a strong person.”

“You think so now. You just wait until I have died because you’re not
around. You can’t leave Luke. I can’t let you leave me. I won’t let you go
over there and get yourself killed. I just won’t have it Luke.”

“Bo, that’s like commanding the sun to stop shinning. Only I can decide
where I am going. I can’t tell myself that I won’t be killed but I can say
that I will be careful so that I come back to you safe. Bo you are important
to me. You are like a brother to me. You have been there when I need you and
I have been there for you.”

“Well you obviously don’t care about me anymore.”

“Bo, don’t you ever say anything like that ever again!”

“Why are you leaving me then?”

“Look you know why I am leaving and you know that I have to go. I know you
understand better than anyone why I have to go.”

“I don’t know Luke. I wouldn’t be telling you this kind of stuff if I knew.
I can’t believe you are leaving. It ain’t your place Luke. You shouldn’t
have to go. I won’t let you go. I can’t let you go. It’s suicide Luke.”

Bo we’ve been through this a million times over. We have been through why I
have to go and I want you to respect that.”

“No we haven’t. If we were through with this you would be staying home!”

“Bo you’re twisting my words.” I couldn’t take this conversation anymore. I
hated him. He was ruining my life. Luke shouldn’t have to go to war. I can’t
stand this. He’s too good to be killed and still he’s going.

Two weeks later, Luke left for the airport. I didn’t go to see him off. I
was mad. I couldn’t get over what he was doing to me. I would worry every
moment of the day for him but he still didn’t care. Well he did but I don’t
know…I guess I couldn’t see past that. Luke is my best friend and not a lot
of people have that between cousins. Luke is the only one I can trust with
girls.

How am I supposed to tell Coy or Vance all of my secrets? Coy was still too
childish and Vance was a little too serious. That’s just the way they were.
Besides that, Coy was Vance’s best friend and not mine. Sure they admired
Luke however they didn’t like me. I liked that guy more than anything. I
thought that he could be president of the United States if he wanted to.

I cried in my room and refused to come out. But as more people say over and
over, it is the ones with the emotion that hide in the corner. I am one of
those. I really have an aversion to him not being here for anything. I don’t
want him to die. I love him too much to have him be in some foxhole and die
like in the movies. I don’t want to sit there and beg for him to come back.
I just want him here like he always has been for me. I have known him since
he was born.

Well, when I got my first letter from Luke, I read it over and over to
myself. I missed him more than life. All I wanted was to see his face again.
To just smile at him when he tells me one of his stories or to listen when
he gives me advice on girls; I suppose I was hopeless on that department.
His letter did make me feel a bit better about him being gone. I suppose
everyone should have a letter like that. It went like this:

Dear Bo,

I’m sorry that you feel so rotten. I am not about to argue with you again
about me being here. I know that you were just upset about me going. I also
didn’t want to go. I knew that if I made a big stink about going it would
put me in an even worse spot then before.

Uncle Jesse says that you’ve dropped the debating team. How could you even
think of doing such a thing? You were really good at that. In Junior High
you made top honors. You knew your stuff really well. I wouldn’t quit
something that you’re good at. Don’t spite me with something that you love.

I know that high school is new to you but don’t worry about it. You need to
get in there though Bo. Volunteer in everything. For goodness sakes, please
join the football team. You’re so good at it that it would be a waste for
you not join in. You could be a quarter back and I know it. You have the
guts for it that’s for sure. I think that many people have a gift when it
comes to sports. You are definitely a good guy for that one. I am sure you
can get on the junior team.

Marines are tough. Tell Vance if he gets booted over here not to join the
Marines. I tell you there training is so advanced. I’ve learn lots from my
drill sergeant. But still, he’s not Uncle Jesse. I mean honestly, this guy
only cares about you when you get hit. But I’ve been called a natural in
this stuff. So I’m being shipped out tomorrow.

Bo, take care of yourself and just keep telling yourself that you can do it.
Rejoin the debate club. You’re sure to get another prize. Your school needs
you and so do your friends.

Keep Coy and Vance out of trouble for me. I know they’re in it a lot.
Without me there you are the only one that has lived in that house all your
life. They still have a lot of learning to do. Don’t be so rough on them. I
know they will never be me.

No one can be expected to be me. They are their own person. Coy is a very
good guy even though physically he isn’t as strong as you. Vance can teach
you a lot if you will only let him near you. Bo you know that they are good
people. They may not be who you think they are. There is something about
them both that I know you will learn to find special. They are both amazing
people. They’re Dukes as well and you know that Dukes are good people.

Bo I know you’re hurting right now but don’t think I haven’t thought of you
everyday. I always want to be around for you. Bo you are an amazing person.
I hate not seeing you grow up. I don’t want to miss a minute of getting to
know you.

Don’t worry about loosing me because you never will. I love you Bo. I don’t
think that I can say that enough in this letter. You are the type of person
that needs to hear it often. I know that you will understand later on. You
are a good person and you do have brains. You’re smarter than you let people
think. I can tell that with all those marks you bring home. Don’t lie to
yourself Bo and don’t make people think that you are nothing but a dumb kid
because guess what you ain’t. You will never be a dumb kid I don’t care what
anyone says.

Now I got to get moving but I do love you a lot. I know guys don’t say that
a lot to each other but you’re not just an average guy…you’re my friend, my
brother. You mean more to me than a lot of people do. You know that don’t
you? I know you always will. Thank you for everything.

Love always,

Luke

Now what could I say to him? I guess he was right about the debating team. I
did have a knack for it. But honestly, seeing his sorry butt in the chair
cheering me on every round was why I stayed on. I was going to join the
football team. I’m in the tryouts. The coach told me I had talent.

In fact the next day, he told me I was going to be quarter back. Boy my
cousin was right. Coy joined too but he was on the senior team but he was on
the bench most of the time. I hated being so young. Daisy was the run of the
mill cheerleader, her last year of it too. Smiling like she always could.
She was always placed on the top of the pyramid. It was probably because she
was the prettiest of the bunch but that would be biased.

Girls? I saw a few in my sight. A lot of them liked me this year. I didn’t
know if it was my charm or what. I mean these girls were literally hanging
off of me. The seniors invited me into their circle because I was Vance and
Luke’s cousin. They all liked me. I guess I must’ve had a mature attitude.
But then again if you look at half of these guys you would really think I
was mature. They truly are unique in their own little ways and you could see
it a mile away.

There was Dave, he ate with his hands. Even with ice cream. That guy is huge
though. I swear he could lift the whole cheerleading squad without even
breaking into a sweat. He’s the quarterback of the senior team. And they
don’t call him bulldozer Dave for nothing. If he gets rushed, he has about
half the football team hanging onto him before they can manage to plough him
down.

Sammy is a weird kid. He’s always quoting some sort of poetry before he
scores a goal in soccer. ‘Cast thine eyes upon this soccer ball and they
will fall out’ you know, weird things like that. I guess he’s okay though. I
have never seen a guy stuff so many pieces of pie in his mouth at once.

Then there was Kumar, he’s quite the fellow. He’s very quiet and listens to
all around him. One of those environmentalists that can’t seem to find his
direction in life, weird to say about a child but it’s true. I mean he’s a
basketball player; he concentrates for three minutes before actually asking
for the ball. He’d be quite the nerd if he didn’t play basketball well.

Jacob was one of the real normal guys that didn’t care about too much. I
couldn’t quite get him sometimes. For the first while he was calm and the
next minute he would do whatever it was that made him happy. He was really
one of the football players on the junior team who really liked being
himself in the world.

Basically all the guys fall under Dave, Jacob, Sammy or Kumar’s style of
attitude. But some fell under my code, reckless and smart all at once. My
teachers always ask me how such a smart kid talks the way I do. I figure
it’s ‘cause I’m a country boy. No one can change how a country boy talks.

When I got home that night Uncle Jesse looked at me and smiled. He was happy
to see me for some reason or another. “Your painting has won first place
Bo!” Uncle Jesse exclaimed. I didn’t want him to tell everyone about my
artistic talents. Not many people knew about those. I wouldn’t show them off
either. I would rather pretend to draw stick men than show the world that I
paint and draw.

“You promised not to tell about that. I am supposed to be an athlete not an
arts and crafts guy,” I replied.

“I didn’t promise to keep this a secret. I promised to keep ballet a secret.
That’s why you are doing it in Chickasaw County.”

“Uncle Jesse I thought we were never going to mention that. I told you that
I never want Luke or Vance or even Coy to know about that. They would laugh
at me and you know it.”

“You’re good at it Bo!”

“It makes me look like a geek. I mean I don’t want to ruin my reputation. It
really helps me with sports too.”

“I know it does Bo. You are very good at it and you shouldn’t be so ashamed
about doing something you love. I know it is odd to do things like that but
you shouldn’t think of it as being a horrible thing. You are amazing at it.”

“How would you know if I shouldn’t be ashamed? None of the guys dance like
that. All of the kids are older than me. I hate being in that class. I mean
everyone treats me like I am such a child.”

“Bo, growing up is hard and I know that but you also know that you are
gifted. You can do so many things that other children only dream of. You
know how to draw. Bo you can sing and act and you dance. Plus you play all
of those sports.”

“Country boys ain’t supposed to dance like that. They just are supposed to
farm and not worry about those kinds of things.”

“Who told you that?”

“Sandra Anderson. She said that boys in tights are worse than seeing a cute
stuffed animal in a wood grinder. She also said if she ever saw me in tights
she would die laughing. I didn’t like that all too much but you told me not
to hit girls so I didn’t. She deserved it though.”

“Good Bo, thank you for being the bigger person. However that comment she
made wasn’t very nice. That ain’t very fair to you.”

“Well it is the truth. Do you think that I should be prancing around like a
deer? That’s something I should be killing not acting like. I don’t think
that people know that. But I do it because I like doing it. Thank goodness
no one knows me there. Sometimes…I want to be like every other boy. I want
to just be normal. I can’t be like this.”

“You aren’t like every boy Bo Duke. You’re gifted!”

“What if I don’t want to be gifted?”

“You can’t just throw it away and think it will stay out of your life.”

“I sure can.”

“I am proud of you for seeking your talents. I am just happy you are by my
side. I love you and I know that you will find a way to be yourself.” I
knew he was right, Uncle Jesse was usually right. Sometimes I didn’t like
that. I wish I could be right about something. But it was true that I had a
way to find everything out for myself.

It was hard though trying to think of a way out of these problems. Being a
teenager isn’t all it is cracked up to be. I mean for starters you’re young.
No one really takes your opinion in consideration. Well that is until you
hit like 20 and then it is too late.

I missed Luke that was for sure. I would usually tell him about everything.
I couldn’t do that when it came to dancing though I think he knows. Luke is
very observant. I used to practice in the barn a lot. I guess some things
are noticeable. I didn’t know what to do though. I guess life throws you too
many curve balls.

Doing homework was something I hated. I didn’t like sitting down in one spot
and working out all of this dang math. How much of it do you really use? I
don’t see what triangles and that stuff has to do with farming. I guess I
would never really get it at all but I did it anyway. Being smart sucked. I
hated having to hide it from all of my friends. I wanted to be me but at the
same time become accepted. Was that too much to ask? I guess it was because
I never got what I wanted.

That evening after dinner I lied in bed and looked up at the ceiling. I
wondered if Luke was thinking about us or if it was out of his mind. I
missed my cousin. Coy and Vance had each other. I had Uncle Jesse and Daisy
but it wasn’t the same. I guess I just missed having someone to look up to.
I also wanted my cousin sleeping above me. He would look down when he wanted
to talk. When I was feeling low he would jump off his bed and come to talk.
I loved it…and I missed it with a passion.

I wanted life to be the way it was before Private Luke Duke went off to war.
I wanted to help him start up the tractor when it broke down. I wanted to
laugh at him when he couldn’t get it going again and I could. I suppose I
just want my life back with Luke. These two don’t even match my cousin. I
guess he was right though No one could ever replace Luke in my heart but the
least I could do was try to be nice. What was so good about being nice to
those two anyway? I suppose I was being too hard on them. It wasn’t there
fault that Luke was gone.

I wish I could have gone and have been with him. I honestly wanted to help
him out there. Who knows how strong they are until they get to a pace like
that? Certainly not me that’s for sure. I never know of what I am capable of
until I try it.

Vance walked in and climbed into his bed and Coy followed closely behind
him. They were both laughing and pushing each other. I couldn’t stand them
sometimes. “You know she would like me better,” Vance commented.

“Yeah but you ain’t going for her. She is way too young for you!” Coy
exclaimed.

“Maybe she is and maybe she isn’t.”

“Do you guys mind? I was enjoying the quiet until you had to ruin it all!” I
screamed. They were getting too annoying for my taste. I couldn’t stand them
sometimes. That’s all they did was fight over girls.

“Sorry Bo, Geeze what has gotten into you lately?” Vance asked.

“Well look who is finally talking to me. You think that you’re so much
better is that it? Is that why you don’t ever talk to me? When I try to get
near you, you just blow me off.”

“You blow me off. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You just don’t get it do you?”

“Get what Bo? How in the world am I supposed to get anything if you ain’t
willing to talk to me? I don’t read minds you know.”

“You have Coy and I have no one. You have had Coy since you got here! I
don’t have someone. It’s the Coy and Vance brigade verses me.”

“You have Daisy to talk to.”

“Yeah sure I do. What is she interested in now? Daisy is too busy for me.
She is trying to get her prom all figured out. I don’t have anyone. You have
each other. You spend all day just together. From the time Coy comes home
until the time you sleep.”

“I don’t do that. Look, I will spend more time with you.”

“You don’t care anyway!”

“I do too I am your cousin you know. You have stop hiding from your feelings
or you will never get out of this rut. We’re all worried about you.” They
were not. Those guys cared about two things girls and cars. Not much else
went through their puny little brain. I didn’t like them at all. I didn’t
want them to pretend to me my mother or my Luke. I wanted them to get off of
my case. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to be friends with them. I didn’t like
them pretending to be like Luke. I didn’t want that.

“You don’t and you won’t. Why don’t you go to sleep?”

“You have a chip on your shoulder.”

“You have nothing in that head of yours.”

“Obviously you are not in the mood to be reasonable. I don’t think that
talking to you will make me feel any better. You Bo need some times to just
relax. I don’t want you to have a heart attack because Luke isn’t there. I
am sorry that he isn’t but I can’t pull him out of the army magically.”

“He shouldn’t have gone in the first place Vance Duke and you know it!”

“Coy I hope you don’t have this kind of a fit if I have to go.” I couldn’t
believe he would say something like that! Of course he would have a fit if
Vance left to war. I would have a fit if Vance went to war. It wasn’t far
that this was happening to Luke. I wouldn’t want it to happen to Vance even
if I didn’t like him.

“Well if it was you going off to war I would stop you somehow.”

“Bo, just grow up.” Grow up? I will show you who needs to grow up. You need
to grow up Vance. Vance Duke could be in the Vietnam War? I couldn’t see
that even if I wanted to. He wouldn’t be able to last through basic
training. There’s not a chance that he could do it. I didn’t care how
wonderful Coy thought he was.

“You grow up Vance you get older over waiting for Luke to come home. I have
got grey hairs and I am not even old.” I didn’t want to loose my cousin it
was a comfort thing I suppose. I was melancholy in utter worse sadness. I
couldn’t take him being gone.

“You just don’t get it Bo. Luke is fighting for you and all that you can
think of is yourself. I don’t think you know what it means to fight for your
country. It is an honor to fight for what you believe in. I would do it any
day of the week.”

“You would not. You would be scared for your life and run away I know it in
my heart. You may be tough Vance but you ain’t as tough as you try to be. I
know you couldn’t make it one day or even two. I could see you dying on the
frontline.”

“I wouldn’t talk Bo, you couldn’t make it either.”

“I could too. I bet you that I could get more promotions in one day than you
could get in a lifetime.”

“I guess we’ll never find out will we?” I rolled over; I didn’t want to talk
to Vance anymore. He didn’t know how it felt to be the youngest in the
class. I had to impress everyone in order to be me. I hated this though.
Knowing that he would always think of me as inferior to him made me hate
Vance all the more; I wasn’t worthless.

I would show him. I don’t know how I would show him but I had to do it
somehow. Maybe I could help in a way that he couldn’t. Being young was a
curse. I hated it with a passion. I couldn’t stand always having him look at
me as if I were different from anyone else. I wasn’t different at all. I am
a person just like Coy or Vance or even Luke. I was just sick of it. Sick of
being treated like a baby all the time, it gets annoying.

The next day…

Sitting through all that school was like sitting through a crash course on
how to blow up a balloon at this age. I had the assignment done before she
explained it. For goodness sakes, who wouldn’t get this material? Most
people could get it if they listened a bit. She puts down this science
formula and I figure it out. I can’t stand the teacher either.

Her name was Mrs. Muller and let me tell you one thing, this woman was old.
I never thought you could see a dinosaur that was extinct for millions of
years come alive…until now that is. She wasn’t all that smart when it came
to this stuff. Always fumbling with the overhead projection and such; oh
well I guess it happens when you were transported from the Stone Age.

I want out of school very badly. I was sick of having to take up for
everyone. There was Duncan the geek. He was always getting the tar beaten
out of him. Sometimes he would be trapped in his locker. Thank goodness I
knew his locker combination or he would have to be taken out by the Janitor.

I mean just today one of the school bullies were botherin’ Coy. He wasn’t in
any big trouble or anything but I just jumped right in there. I didn’t think
or nuthin’. Just jumped right in there pounding on that boy’s face until it
turned red; it’s what I do. The principal tried to break us up but we were
too strong for him. I was latched on to that bully like you wouldn’t
believe. I wouldn’t let go for a minute. So they had to bring in the
wrestling coach to get me off.

I sat in the principal’s office for a half hour whiles the man pacing back
and forth pointing his finger to me. He would talk but suddenly stop. Uncle
Jesse knocked on the door. “Hi Mr. Jumbles, what’d he do this time?” Uncle
Jesse asked as he sat down beside me. He put one hand on my neck and
squeezed a little.

“Your nephew has done it again. He’s gotten into a fight with someone that
was picking on Coy. One of the Bullies that don’t care how cool you are,”
Mr. Jumbles replied.

“So what do you propose we do?”

“He’s suspended for the next two weeks. So you can take him home and punish
him how ever you please.”

“Oh I will.” This was bad. I am getting in trouble again. There was nothing
about this that I couldn’t handle before but still. There was always
something that someone had to be mad at me about. Why did my life have to be
so hard? Every time I tried to help I seemed to be doing the same old wrong
thing. I didn’t mean to do it but that’s always what appears to happen. I
don’t know if I need to say anything to him or to Coy.

“Look I am sorry,” I tried to make amends for what I had done but it wasn’t
working. Mr. Jumbles looked like he was ready to kill me.

“Sorry doesn’t count. That boy has a bleeding nose and a sore face. You
think you would know how to be a good young man. You’re so smart yet so
stupid. I wish you would learn something,” Mr. Jumbles lectured me.

“Sir…”

“No more needs to be said.”

“Yes, I need to say this!”

“Look, I don’t need to listen to some dumb kid tell me what is what.”

“You ain’t. I am not a dumb kid. I was put up grades remember?”

“You shouldn’t have been.”

“Sir…”

Mr. Jumbles pointed to the door. I didn’t know what he was implying here but
I was sure I was about to find out what was going on here. “There’s the door
and don’t hit yourself on the way out Bo Duke.”

On the way home in the car, Uncle Jesse wouldn’t say two words to me. I went
directly to my room. I knew that’s what Uncle Jesse would want me to do. Coy
came in and threw his books on the floor. He looked very angry. “Bo! I
could’ve taken care of him myself without you interrupting our little
session!” Coy exclaimed. I didn’t have anything to say to Coy. I was sorry
for what I had done but not really. “You know what, I wish you were dead!” I
wished I was too.

“I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you Coy and you know that. I wish that I
could change it but you’re weaker than me. You are not a strong person. You
get beaten up all the time. That’s why your mom sent you over here,” I
replied.

“You don’t get it do you? I am in loss of my dignity. They always say you’re
taking up for me. I don’t like it one bit. I am sick of having to listen to
all of them bullies telling how much of a baby I was.”

“You’re right. I am going to go and get the mail now.” I walked out of the
room and looked at Uncle Jesse. His face was still sour. I told him what I
was going to do and he nodded.

I rode my bike over towards town. I was sick of this. There was no life out
here for me. Taking all those night classes would get me out of school this
year. I got someone else to sign for it. Thank goodness they believed that
old Arty was my Uncle Jesse. Summer school and other things would make me
feel much better. I was almost home free. I could run away or do something
good with my life.

“Good day Miss Tizdale. How are you this fine afternoon?” I asked her. She
smiled at me and looked me deep in the eye.

“Well I am just fine Bo. How are you?” She asked softly.

“Why I am just fine ma’am.”

“I heard about you punching out that boy. Good work. I know that he probably
deserved it. I bet any son of that sweet Jesse Duke would only do something
like that for a reason.” I told you, a very large reputation to keep. Us
Dukes had to be proper for Uncle Jesse’s sake. I didn’t like doing things
like this to him but I did anyway.

“Well he was after Coy.”

“And you instinctively helped that poor Coy? Good boy, I am proud of you
even if you did get suspended.”

“Well I know I shouldn’t have done that. Neither Coy nor Vance was too happy
with me. I guess they just don’t want anyone around.” I didn’t think they
did anyway. They would call me all sorts of things and ignore me. I didn’t
understand what was so horrible about me. I didn’t think there was anything
that bad.

“They do want you boy. Now take a number.”

“Thanks.”

“Any time for his family. I can’t believe you are related to that sweet man
known as Jesse Duke. I tell you the way he makes me feel would melt your
insides.” I took a number and stood in line for my mail. As I got to the
front of the line, Miss Tizdale handed me my mail. I looked through it.
There was a telegram addressed to Vance. It was the same one that Luke got
to go into the marines.

Oh no, Vance wasn’t going to die for his country. I wasn’t about to watch
him come home in a body bag. It is not going to be the same way for Vance. I
know if he gets this he will go too. I know he’ll follow Luke’s example.

I wasn’t going to be wondering where two of my cousins were. I put it in my
pocket and wondered what I was going to do. Well no one wants me around
anyway so I’ll join the army, yeah sure why not? School was over for me in
two weeks. It’s not like I would be missing anything. They wanted Vance to
report to the training camp in three weeks. That gave me just enough time to
devise a plan.

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