by: Marty Chrisman
The rest of the night passed without incident. Jesse quickly noticed that Luke was joining into their conversations more and referring to some incidents in the past without even realizing that he was doing it. It was good sign and gave him hope that Luke’s memory was returning even if he didn’t realize it. Doc Applebee had already told Jesse that Luke’s past memories would return first and then his memories of more recent events including what had happened that night. But Jesse wished those dang memories would hurry up a little bit, they really needed to know what had happened that night. Finally, they turned in for the night.
The next morning Jesse woke the boys as usual and they went about their normal morning routine. They were feeding the livestock when Luke suddenly got a strange look on his face and collapsed on a bale of straw as of someone had punched him in the stomach. “Luke?” Bo said anxiously, kneeling beside his older cousin who looked pale and distraught. “Luke, what’s the matter?” When Luke didn’t answer but just sat there with a stunned expression on his face, Bo jumped to his feet and ran towards the house yelling Uncle Jesse’s name. Jesse and Daisy both came running out of the house when they heard Bo yelling.
“What’s the matter?” Jesse demanded. He had his shotgun cradled in his arms and ready for trouble.
“It’s Luke…something’s wrong with Luke!” Bo said turning and running back to the barn with Daisy and Jesse right behind him. In barn, Luke was still sitting on the bale of straw with a stricken look on his face, hunched forward as if he were in pain and holding his stomach.
“Luke, what’s wrong?” Jesse said in a gentle voice, kneeling in front of his oldest nephew and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Come on, son…” he coaxed “Look at me and tell me what’s wrong…”
Finally, Luke raised his head to look into his Uncle’s eyes. His eyes were filled with pain and wet with unshed tears. Concerned about Luke and not knowing exactly what was causing his strange reaction, Jesse instinctively reached out to pull his nephew into his arms. Luke fell to his knees and buried his face against his Uncle’s shoulder as if he were a child. Gently, Jesse stroked Luke’s hair and made soft soothing sounds to calm him so he could find out what was wrong. “Come on, Luke…” he said gently “Let’s go into the house and you can tell me what’s wrong….” Jesse helped Luke to his feet and put his arm around the young man’s shoulders, slowly guiding him into the house.
Luke walked as if he were in trance, following Jesse through instinct. Inside the house, Jesse helped Luke to sit down at the table and ordered Daisy to give him a cup of coffee. Luke’s hands were shaking visibly when he took the coffee from her and took a swallow. He seemed to be calmer than he had been in the barn but still obviously upset about something.
“Alright, son…” Jesse said quietly “Now tell me what’s wrong….”
“I was there, Jesse….” Luke said in a barely audible voice “I was there when they raped and killed that little girl….I had to watch them do it…and I couldn’t do anything to stop ‘em….” He closed his eyes for a minute and then added in a tightly controlled voice “I can still hear her screaming in my head….”
“Oh, my god…” Daisy said quietly, covering her mouth to keep from crying out in pain herself. Jesse struggled to hold onto his own rage as he listened to the pain and torment in his nephew’s voice as Luke remembered the traumatic experience of being forced to watch a thirteen year old girl raped and murdered. In a carefully controlled voice, he said “Do you remember who the men were that did it….”
“No…I still can’t remember that…..” Luke told him “Everything’s starting to come back but its all in bits and pieces….”
“Alright,” Jesse said calmly, gently rubbing Luke’s back to comfort and soothe him. “Why don’t you tell us what you do remember so far…..”
Luke took a deep shuddering breath to calm his ragged nerves and looked at his Uncle for courage and support. Slowly, he started to tell him what he could remember about that night “I was on my way to pick up Mary Anne….and I saw Angie come running out of the woods…she was crying and I stopped because I knew she needed help…next thing I can remember…..I was tied up and I couldn’t get loose…the ropes were too tight….and two men were raping her…over and over again….and I couldn’t do anything but sit there and watch…..” Luke buried his face in his hands unable to go on.
Jesse glanced at Bo and mouthed silently “Call Doc” Bo nodded and went into the living room to call Doc Applebee. Jesse glanced at Daisy, who looked as pale as Luke and almost as upset. He nodded his head at her to sit down which she did without speaking. Jesse sensed that to ask Luke to deal with anything else he might remember right now could do more harm than good. So he wisely kept silent and just kept rubbing Luke’s back gently.
Doc Applebee arrived a short time later. Jesse stepped into the other room long enough to fill Doc in on what had happened with Luke and his memory of the night Angie Baker was murdered. Doc nodded and agreed that Luke had suffered a severe trauma and that he shouldn’t be questioned any farther at the moment. Doc told Jesse that he would give Luke a mild sedative to make him sleep for awhile so his mind and body could rest and recover from the emotional trauma he had experienced from remembering what he had so far.
Luke barely looked up as Doc came into the kitchen. He made no objection as Doc rolled up his shirt sleeve and gave him a shot in his upper arm. Jesse instructed Bo to help Luke back upstairs to their room so that he could rest for awhile. Bo nodded and helped Luke to his feet. Emotionally drained, Luke followed Bo docilely. When they got upstairs, Luke collapsed across his bed and closed his eyes and the sedative took effect.
Bo went back downstairs to join his Uncle and Doc in the kitchen. As he entered the kitchen, he heard Doc telling Jesse “He’ll probably sleep most of the day…but that’s the best thing for him right now. His body and his mind needs to rest.”
“But he’ll be alright, right Doc?” Bo asked anxiously
“He’ll be fine” Doc assured him “As a matter of fact, he’ll probably start remembering things pretty quick once he wakes up. That’s usually the way it works in cases like this…”
“Thanks, Doc.” Jesse said “Is there anything else we should do for him?”
“No, just let him sleep.” Doc said “He needs that more than anything else right now.” Doc smiled at the Duke family “I’ll see myself out. If you need anything else, just give me a call.”
As Doc left the house, Daisy looked at her uncle and said “Poor Luke….I can’t believe he had to watch them rape and kill that poor girl….”
“Whoever did it has to get rid of Luke before he remembers enough to identify them….” Jesse said solemnly “They’ve already tried twice….we better make damn sure they don’t get a chance to try again.”