Mining The Past

by: Rose O’Thorns

“Hey, Luke, you ready?”
“I guess, I’ve got the chairs. Where’s Daisy and Uncle Jesse?” The Duke family was
getting ready to watch the fourth of July fireworks from the backforty, a family tradition.
“Well, they’re waiting in town.”
“What? Why are they in town?”
“Remember, Luke, we talked about watching the fireworks from town this year.”
Luke’s face paled and his eyes were downcast. When he raised his head, Luke’s eyes had turned dark and angry. “I ain’t goin’.”
Bo’s face grew puzzled. “Why wouldn’t you go? We always spend the fourth as a
family. Uncle Jesse and Daisy are waiting. Let’s just go.”
“I said I ain’t goin’, don’t you understand English, Bo.”
“I don’t get you lately, Luke,” Bo said, getting irritated. “ First, you act all distant and
don’t want to talk to no one. Next, you don’t want to spend time with your kin? What is
up with you anyways?”
Luke shook his head, “I don’t have to answer to you, little cousin.”
“I think you do! There’s something wrong, now answer me—what is it?”
Luke began to walk away. Bo ran up before Luke could reach the back door and spun
him around. “Oh no you don’t. You ain’t walking away from me…” Bo stopped short,
noticing a vacant expression in Luke’s eyes that left him breathless. “Cousin,” Bo
started, placing a hand on Luke’s shoulder, “we’ve always been there for each other. Let
me help.
Come on, spend some time with us.”
Luke could feel himself pulled in so many directions at once. No, he couldn’t put his
family through his problems. They wouldn’t understand anyway.

“I want to spend time, Bo, but I just can’t go to town tonight.”
“I don’t get you any more, cousin,” Bo sighed, “but you ARE coming.”
“I can’t, Bo!” Luke screamed and ran from the farmhouse. Bo watched his cousin run off
toward the woods. Not knowing what else to do, he headed for town. Maybe Uncle
Jesse would have some ideas.

Luke ran straight into the woods, not paying any attention to where he was going. He ran
until he lost the last of his breath and collapsed to the ground. He leaned his head back
against a tree and wondered when it all would end.

Bo got into town and found his family fairly quickly, having broken every speeding law
along the way. Uncle Jesse was the first to notice his younger nephew and the worried
expression on his face. “Ok, boy, what happened now.”
Bo proceeded to tell his uncle and cousin Daisy what had happened at the farmhouse. “I
just don’t get it, Uncle Jesse,” Bo said, with defeat in his voice.
“Me, either,” chimed in Daisy. “I know you said to give Luke some space to figure out
his problems for himself. But this just tops it all.”
Jesse gave Daisy a hug and squeezed his nephew’s shoulder. “I know how worried you
two are, I am too. But you also know your cousin and he ain’t going to say what’s wrong
until he is good and ready. All we can do is be there for him when he is ready.”

The fireworks didn’t seem as special that year and the family left for home early in the
evening. Bo looked into the family room and didn’t see his cousin. He then headed
towards their room that they had shared since childhood. Bo lay out on his bed and
thought about his cousin’s erratic behavior of late.

Luke must have come in later, cause he was in his bed when Bo woke the
next day. However the boys went from little conversation to no conversation. Luke did
his chores and worked on the General, but in silence. As the week went by, Luke became
less involved with the farm. He slept late, if at all. He was always looking behind him.
couldn’t even look people in the eye. His odd behavior finally got to his uncle.
“Luke,” Uncle Jesse called out from the barn entrance. Luke looked over the edge of the
hayloft. “I want to see you.” Luke looked hesitant and began to back up from the edge.
“I mean now, boy!”
Luke knew his uncle meant business and there was no way out. Luke knew he had been
pushing his family away. He could see it in their worried glances and hear it in the
hushed whispers from the family room long after Luke was supposedly asleep.
Luke walked up to his Uncle. It didn’t escape Jesse’s notice that Luke’s whole demeanor
was of a defeated man. He was slouched down, couldn’t meet his uncle’s gaze, and
couldn’t hold still, slightly rocking on his heels.
“What’s up and don’t think of telling me nothing, Luke!”
“Uncle Jesse…” Luke began, not knowing where to start, “I’m okay, I just need some
space to think, that’s all.”
“Needing space is one thing, avoiding your kin is quite another and it isn’t you. You
look like you need an ear and I have two that work perfectly.”
Luke looked left to right like a cornered animal. He closed his eyes and let out a sigh.
“Uncle Jesse, I swear—I’ll be okay. Just give me time to sort it all out for myself. I
promise I’ll be better around my cousins and you. I guess I hadn’t realized how distant
I’ve been. Okay?”, Luke said softly.
Jesse looked stern as he could and gave a sigh of his own. “Okay, youngster.” Luke
looked up with a slight smile. “I’ll let you have your way. Just a little longer,” Jesse
added pointedly. “But you watch how you treat those cousins of yours, they are awfully
worried about you.” Not to mention me, thought Jesse.

Luke did try his best to be more open to his family. He spent more time with Bo and
Daisy. He picked up the slack of conversation at dinner even. Everyone, including Luke,
felt he was back to his old self. However, things were yet to come to a head.


“Bo, are you going to lose Rosco or let him chase us until we run out of
gas?,” Luke asked his cousin.
“I’m getting there, cousin. Rosco must be practicing.” Bo surveyed the road ahead.
“Hey, I got an idea.”
“And what would that be?,” Luke asked.
“Let’s lose him up my the old caves. There’s plenty of hiding spots to be found.”
“Not bad, little cousin,” Luke said, glancing over his shoulder at Rosco’s car, “but you
better get a move on it.”
“Yes, sir.”
It wasn’t long before Bo had confused poor Rosco something awful, going in circles and
backtracking all along the caves. The boys finally settled in batch of shrubbery.
“Hey, Luke, ain’t these the caves people used to try to mine?”
“Yea, that was before they found out there wasn’t anything worth mining for.”
“Let’s take a look,” Bo said, ready for some adventure.
“I don’t know, Bo,” Luke said, rubbing his chin, “it probably ain’t too safe and we did
tell Uncle Jesse we’d fix the tractor.”
“Ah, we got time. Just a minute?”
Luke laughed at the way his cousin would put-on just to get his way.
Well, why not, thought Luke, it works.

The boys went into the nearest cave. There wasn’t much to see, literally. Bo decided to
go to the General and get a flashlight out of the trunk. That’s when he heard a scream.
Bo took off like a flash. He looked everywhere but didn’t see his cousin. With his pulse
racing, Bo shined the flashlight over the walls of the cave. “LUKE, WHERE ARE
“I’m down here.”
“I fell near the edge of the wall.”
Bo searched again only to find a small opening he had missed before. An opening just
large enough for Luke to have fallen through.
Bo stuck his head at the edge of the hole, unable still to see anything even with the
flashlight’s aid.
“No!,” Luke shouted back, rather calmly, “I think I broke my leg.”
“I’ll radio for help, be right back.”
Luke lay at the bottom of the chasm, trying to remain calm. *I’m okay. Bo’s getting
help. I’ll be out soon. * Luke kept repeating those thoughts over and over in his head.
Luke could feel panic beginning to race through him, his heartbeat growing faster and his
breathing raspy. *I’m okay. It’s just a cave. I’m in Hazzard. Bo is with me. *
Luke lay, listening. Bo hadn’t called back. Maybe he left, maybe there was trouble,

Bo cbed the Hazzard Net. Uncle Jesse was on his way. Cooter radioed in from the
Boar’s Nest that he would be on his way as well. Daisy couldn’t come since she was
working. Bo felt relieved that help was on its way and that Luke sounded just fine, and
not too badly hurt.
When Bo returned the edge, he heard a faint whine. Maybe the wind is picking up,
thought Bo.
Bo listened for a response, but didn’t get one.

*It’s okay. It’s a cave, it’s supposed to be cold and damp. Bo will be back in a minute.
It’s just another day in Hazzard.* Luke was trying desperately to hold down the panic
rising in him every second. Luke wrapped his arms around himself, trying to stop
shaking. He closed his eyes tightly. His hands were turning white from the pressure he
exerting. * It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay…*
Bo’s screaming broke through Luke’s mantra.
Bo could hear the shakiness of Luke’s voice and it scared him.
Luke bit his lower lip, trying to control his emotions, but he just couldn’t.
Luke tried to answer, but couldn’t find his voice. He took three, rapid deep breaths and
started to cry softly.
Bo looked up, hearing a horn. He had never been so happy to see his Uncle in all his life.
Jesse noticed the concern in Bo’s eyes. Jesse stopped cold in his tracks when he heard his
older nephew’s cries, which had gotten increasingly louder and more ragged.
“What in tarnation is going on here?”
“I don’t know, Uncle Jesse, but I gotta get down there.”
“How will we get two of you outta there?,” Jesse asked skeptically.
“I don’t know, but I have to go.”
Jesse nodded and ran to get a length of rope out of the back of the pickup. Jesse secured
one end to the bumper of the pickup and Bo tied the other end around himself.
In a few minutes, Bo was at the bottom. The hole had only been maybe 6 feet deep. It
seemed to Bo that it was more like 6 miles. Hearing his cousin’s increasing cries broke
his heart.
Bo pulled his flashlight out of the back of his jeans. It didn’t take long to spot Luke, who
was only a few feet away. Bo knelt beside his cousin. “It’s okay, Luke, I’m here. You
Luke stared straight ahead, his body shaking, and tears pouring down his face.
Bo reached out to touch Luke, but Luke flinched away.
“Luke, it’s me—Bo. Please look at me, cuz.”
Luke slowly looked over to his left where Bo was. “Bo?”
“Yea, who’d you think it was?,” Bo asked, trying to lighten his cousin’s mood.
“Bo, you gotta get me out of here. We gotta go, it ain’t safe. Please, please, please…”
Bo looked at his cousin in confusion. “It’s okay, Luke. You’re gonna be fine. Just as
soon as Cooter gets here, we’ll rig up a way out.”
“NO!,” screamed Luke, scaring Bo half out of his wits. “WE GOTTA GO NOW!”
“Luke,” Bo said, attempting to be as calming as possible, “we can’t go yet. Your leg
does look broken. If we use the rope, you might make it worse. We have to wait for
“No,” Luke whispered back, starting to cry full force again, “I…I can’t
stay here. Please, don’t make me stay.”
“What, Bo?”
“Is Cooter there yet?”
“No, why, what’s goin’ on down there?”
“I wish I knew, Uncle Jesse. I think we’re just gonna have to get him out regardless of
his leg. The way Luke’s carryin’ on, he’ll hurt himself worse than we will.”
Jesse sighed, weighing his options. “Alright, what do you want me to do?”
“Back up the truck when I yell and then come help me get him out. I don’t know how
long the rope will hold us both.”
Bo rushed back to Luke’s side. Bo had never seen his cousin in such a state. Luke was
always in such control of his emotions. Luke was clearly terrified, but of what, Bo had
no clue.
“Luke, listen, can you hold on to me?”
“Are we getting’ outta here?” Luke asked between sniffs.
“Yeah, cousin.”
“Then I can.”
Luke put his arms around Bo’s chest and Bo crossed his arms overtop.
Jesse pulled the truck forward and stopped when Bo yelled out that he could see the edge
of the hole.
Jesse scrambled out of the cab and to his nephews.
“Luke, you have to help me,” Uncle Jesse said, noticing the death grip Luke had on Bo,
“come on, you can do it.”
Luke reached out one hand and Jesse helped him lay over the lip of the hole. Jesse then
grabbed onto Bo and pulled him out.
Luke’s breathing evened and he stopped crying the moment he was out of the hole.
“Luke, you okay, boy?,” Uncle Jesse asked, pulling his nephew the whole way out of the
hole. Luke only nodded his head.
“I called for an ambulance on the way over. It should be here any minute.”
Luke nodded again, not speaking.
Bo threw a concerned glance at his Uncle, who only shrugged his shoulders.

The wait in the hospital was driving Bo mad. It had been a long ride to Tri-County. Bo
rode with Luke in the ambulance; Cooter was more than happy to take the General home.
Bo was worried that Luke hadn’t spoken a word or even looked his kin in the eye.
“Bo, stop putting a groove in that carpet and sit down.”
Bo sighed and sat down in one of the hard chairs the waiting room provided.
“I hate waiting.”
“I know, I know,” said Uncle Jesse, sympathetically, “but there’s not much we can do
about it.”
“I suppose.”
Bo and Jesse hadn’t even noticed the doctor’s approach.
“How is he, doc?,” Jesse asked.
“He’s fine, Mr. Duke. He has a broken leg that will heal up fine. I’m prepared to release
Bo let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.
“You can go back if you want.”
Both nodded their heads and followed the doctor to the back examining area in the clinic.
Luke gave his family a half-lopsided grin.
“Hey, y’all.”
“You okay?,” Bo asked hesitantly.
“Yeah, I only want to go home.”
“Is there anything you want to talk about, Luke?,” Uncle Jesse prodded.
Luke looked back and forth between his kin, then lowering his head.
“No, I only want to go home.”


The three Duke men drove home in silence. Daisy dropped her sewing when she heard
the pickup pull in.
“What happened to you?” Daisy asked Luke.
“That’s what I want to know,” muttered Bo under his breath. His uncle threw him a
glance best read as ‘back off’.
Luke didn’t answer his cousin, just walked straight into his room to lay down.
“What did I say?” Daisy asked.

Jesse and Bo filled in Daisy on the goings on of the day. Daisy’s eyes filled with unshed
tears. “We gotta help him, Uncle Jesse. There is something wrong.”
“I know, baby, I know. Tomorrow we’re going to have a family meeting
and this gets solved one way, or another.”

Luke meanwhile was having a hard time falling asleep, even though he spent most every
night of his life in that room. Luke heard soft sounds, he couldn’t recognize and
unknown shadows. Everything seemed quiet and dangerously dark. Luke finally fell
asleep right before his cousin came to bed.


Luke woke to darkness. He could feel the cool wind on his face and the rain against his
back. He was exposed, in danger, and unable to see but a few inches ahead of himself.
A low whisper grabbed Luke’s attention. The fear in Luke was overwhelming him to the
point where he couldn’t move, no matter how much he knew he had to.
A scream pierced the darkness. He had to get out of there. Where was everyone else?
Luke forced himself up into a blind run. He ran for what seemed miles until he tripped
over something in the ground, soft and yielding. It was his old buddy—but it couldn’t be!
Mike died in Nam. But there he was, along with Jimbo, Rick, Tex, and…
Oh, God no!
Luke stumbled over to a body so familiar yet so out of place. Bo lay there in fatigues,
covered in mud and his own blood. Luke began to rock back and forth. *I can’t stop it. I
can’t make it better. I can’t…I can’t…*

About 3 AM, Bo woke up. He was sure he heard someone moaning. Maybe he’d been
dreaming about the Landrey sisters again, he laughed to himself. Bo decided to look over
at his cousin, before returning to a peaceful slumber.
Luke was wrapped up in his blanket, moaning, and on the verge of tears. He had a look of
complete fear on his face.
Bo shook his cousin by the shoulder. “Wake up, Luke. Wake up, you’re dreaming.”
Luke bolted upright in his bed. Slowly, Luke closed his eyes and tried to get a hold of his
“Luke, what is it that’s eating you up? You know you can always talk to me about
Luke shook his head, not even opening his eyes.
Bo sighed, “You’re scaring me, cousin. That’s not easy to do.” Bo paused, trying to
think of how to convince his cousin to open up.
“Please, please tell me what’s hurtin’ you so bad.”
Luke met his cousin’s eyes and opened his mouth to talk. Luke didn’t know where to
begin. His eyes began to mist over with newfound tears.
“It’s just me, cousin. Come on, big brother, tell me.”
Luke was unable to contain it all inside anymore. He fell against his younger cousin’s
shoulder and let it all go. Bo whispered reassurances, worried what could have caused
his cousin to have so much pain and what caused him to bury it.
Luke cried for what seemed an eternity, before looking at his cousin. It was the first time
in months, Luke had looked his younger cousin straight in the eye.
“I’m…I’m sorry, Bo.”
“You don’t have to be…” A knock at the boys’ door interrupted Bo. Bo looked at Luke
who nodded his head slightly. “Come in, y’all.”
“I’m sorry, real sorry.”
“It’s okay, son, we’re just worried about ya. I think it’s time to tell your family what’s
going on.”
Luke slowly drew his breath in. “I…I don’t know where to start. Remember the fourth,
Bo?” Bo nodded yes as Daisy took a place beside Luke.
“Well, I couldn’t go. Really couldn’t go.”
His family gave him puzzled looks, shrugging at each other.
Luke pursed his lips together and let his eyes drop back down. “You see, I can watch the
fireworks from the backforty cause I can’t hear them.” Noticing the blank looks on his
kin’s face Luke went on,
“Fireworks sound like artillery.”
“But what about the cave and…” Bo began to question.
“I..I..I couldn’t stay there.”
“Why not?”
“It was cold, and damp, and I was out in the open. It…it…it was too dangerous.”
Bo looked at his cousin with wide eyes. Oh, of course, thought Bo, not
believing he hadn’t made the connection before.
“It was too dark. I couldn’t see well enough…”
“Like ‘Nam?”
Luke’s eyes went wide with surprise. He swallowed and nodded again.
“You never did tell us anything about ‘Nam. You only talk about when you were
stationed in the States. You ready to talk now?” Jesse asked gently.
Luke looked from side to side, like an animal caught in a trap. He bit down on his lower
lip, closed his eyes, and nodded his head very slightly.

Luke finally opened up to his family about his time in Vietnam, both bad times and good
times. Luke knew he could talk to them about anything and he had to admit it did make
him feel better. Luke talked all night about how he had been experiencing flashbacks
ever since visiting the Wall. Later, he would share with Bo his other fears—that he
would change, that Bo would be drafted, that he couldn’t save his friends, maybe not
even himself. Luke opened up to the man he considered to be a brother and never again
let himself keep so much bottled up. Luke still had things to work through but kin seems
to make the difference when mining the past in a place called Hazzard.

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