Jesse sat the phone down with a disgusted look. That had been the second call from a customer canceling their order. He looked in the living where the three youngest Dukes were relaxing on the late April evening. Bo was sprawled on the floor with a car magazine. Daisy was sitting on the couch with pen in one hand and a notebook in the other. The radio playing softly so it wouldn’t disturb Daney who was curled up in the chair, engrossed in another library book. He glanced to his wife Martha at the pantry shelves. She was looking over her supplies for canning.
“I just don’t know what I’m going to do about Luke. He was late on two deliveries this week alone.” He said outloud, not really expecting an answer.
Martha turned. Luke was just an average twenty one year old. He liked to do all the same things everyone else his age was doing, which usually meant spending evenings like this at the Boar’s Nest. It was the only place in town, for folks to have fun. “Jesse, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. What you need to do is go see JD.”
“Yeah, and I bet Lulu would love some company.” Jesse paused as he got up from his seat and walked towards the living room. At 15, Daney and Daisy were old enough to stay by themselves, and Bo only a year younger would be all right. “You kids, mind if Aunt Martha and I head to town for a bit.”
Three voices answered. “No, go ahead. We’ll be fine.”
“Alright. If you need anything, we’ll be over at JD and Miss Lulu’s place.” Jesse said.
“Bye Bo, Daisy, Daney.” Martha smiled as Bo grinned, Daisy smiled and Daney waved her hand as if to say goodbye. Martha handed Jesse his hat and keys, then followed him out the door.
After hearing the truck rumble out of the driveway through the open window, Bo looked at his cousins. “Luke sure is acting funny.”
“I heard him talking to some girl on the phone earlier. He’s just caught up in some new relationship is all.” Daney commented, her eyes still on the book.
“He’s worrying Uncle Jesse and that ain’t right.” Daisy said, her pretty face filled with concern.
Daney finally looked up from the book. “So what are we gonna do about?”
Bo laughed. “That’s cute Daney, I don’t think there is anything we can do.”
“Well, we need to see why he’s so hung up on this girl.”
“But none of us can get in the Boar’s Nest.” Daisy reminded, laying her pen and notebook down on the coffee table.
Daney turned in the chair and stood up with a grin. “You want to wager a week of chores on it. I think can.”
Daisy shook her head but Bo who didn’t say no to any dare blurted out. “Sure Dan, what ya got in mind?”
“You’ll see.” Daney’s grin widened and she headed towards the hallway.
“Hey, that’s my room!” Bo shouted, when she opened one of the doors.
“Bo, hush she isn’t going to hurt anything.” Daisy said gently.
Bo picked up his car magazine and stood up.
Daisy laughed as the lanky blonde plopped down in the chair.
Daisy was walking back from the kitchen when Daney came out of the bedroom. She almost dropped the glass of ice tea in her hand. “Oh, my goodness. Halloween ain’t for another 5 months.”
Bo’s jaw dropped looking at his older cousin. The jeans were hers but the shirt was Luke’s and the cowboy hat that her long brunette hair was tucked under was his. “Hmm ok, but how are you gonna get there? You ain’t got a drivers license.”
“I’ll call someone.” Daney said and headed over to the phone. She thought for a second, there was only one person who she could really call. She looked over at Daisy and Bo while she waited for Gussy to connect her to the Strate farm after she called another friend of her’s.
Mrs. Strate turned from the phone. “Enos you have a phone call.”
A young man with wavy, light, brunette hair dressed in jeans, a short sleeve red and white plaid shirt walked over. He took the phone, “Thank you, Mother.”
She smiled and left the room.
Daney Duke was on the other end. “Enos, I need to go over to Betsy Ann’s house and no one but Daisy and Bo are home.” She paused. “If you could drop me off, I‘d appreciate it.”
Enos chuckled. “Sure Daney, I was on my way over to Cooter’s farm. They’re having a big bash over there.”
Daney smiled. Enos doesn’t drink, smoke, run around with girls or fib. Hmm maybe Luke is at this party and not at the Nest. “Thanks Enos, I’ll see ya in a few minutes.”
“Your welcome Daney, will you tell Daisy I said Howdy.”
“You can tell her when you pick me up.” Daney giggled. She thought it was interesting that the most honorable guy in Hazzard had a crush on her cousin. “Bye.” She hung the phone up and turned to her cousin. “Enos says Howdy.”
Daisy’s face reddened as Bo laughed. She picked up a pillow off the chair and threw it at him. They were in the middle of a pillow fight when someone knocked on the door.
“Oh sorry about that.” Daisy blushed after Daney had opened the door and the pillow in Bo’s hand sailed over her head and hit Enos.
Enos looked cheerfully at the young Dukes. “It’s alright.”
Daisy smiled. Enos was nice but at 15, she wasn’t ready to settle down with anyone. Heck she hadn’t even been on a date yet. Jesse had a firm law of no dating till the age of 16.
And when Jesse said something, you listened or else. Besides there was plenty of time after she became a professional songwriter to do all those things like marriage and kids. That was her dream, to be a songwriter, Bo was interested in cars and Daney was into photography and writing since she was on the school newspaper and yearbook committees. “Well you best get going, didn’t you tell Betsy Ann, you’d be there by 8.”
The others followed her glance to the clock on the fireplace mantle.
“Yeah, I did.” Daney said, it wasn’t a fib. “C’mon, Enos. You don’t wanna be late for Cooter’s do ya?” She stepped closer to the door.
“No, not really. Luke said him and Cooter might do a little racin’ on the interchange.” Enos replied. “Bye y’all.”
Daisy’s smiled. “Bye Enos, see ya later, Dan.”
“Yep.” Daney followed Enos out the door and down the front porch steps to a 1973 Ford Ranchero.
Meanwhile in town, Martha and Jesse were sitting at a table having coffee with JD and Lulu Hogg in their dining room. Martha adored how Lulu had decorated the 2-story home. Every time Jesse and her made it over for a visit, there seemed to be something new. Lulu loved to shop and JD could afford it being the richest man in Hazzard after taking the earnings from running shine and putting them into real estate. She turned to the younger woman after Boss lit a cigar up. “I don’t know how you can stand those things.”
Lulu chuckled. “I really can’t. Those were lovely floral arrangements you made for the Easter services. And the cookies were delicious. I’d love to have that recipe.”
Martha smiled. “You’ll have to ask Daney. She stayed up most of the night finishing the batches so they’d be fresh.”
Jesse interrupted. “And if I recall she almost missed church, because she overslept.”
Martha shook her head. “That was only because the boys turned off the alarm to be funny.”
Jesse chuckled and turned back to JD. “Which brings me to why I’m here. People are canceling their orders. I figured maybe you would know.”
JD pursed his lips and crushed the cigar out. “I don’t really know, Jesse. I haven’t heard of any new stills being set up or folks moving into the area. I can’t think of any reason why they’d be canceling either.”
Jesse sighed. It was just what he thought, it probably had to do with Luke being late on runs. It was risky enough just to be at a drop point or still site with all the local, state and federal officers looking to catch moon shiners and runners. “Luke has been late on a few of his runs.” He confided.
“Guess you better have a talk with him,” JD took a sip from his coffee mug. “Say we haven’t been out to see Emma and Simon Partridge for a while. Y’all got time?”
Martha answered. “Yes, that sounds like fun.”
Lulu had a wide smile. “We can take our Cadillac, they haven’t seen it yet.”
Jesse wasn’t really in the mood, but everything was caught up at home and Martha deserved a break. Here was a chance to tease to his old friend. “I still can’t believe you got one of them things. A convertible.”
JD’s dark eyes were mischievous. “Yeah, well oh never mind. I gotta stop in and check on Rosco anyway.” With that they headed out to the living room and outside.
Over at Cooter Davenport’s place. A birthday party for him was in full swing. Luke was sitting on the sofa with his latest girlfriend. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his family. Just his cousins were teenagers and he enjoyed being around people of his own age. And sometimes it seemed like Jesse had forgotten what it was like to be at his age. Though Aunt Martha seemed to understand.
* * *
Daney stood outside Betsy’s house with the young woman. “I could see if one of my brothers will give you a ride over.” Betsy said.
“No, the less people that know, the better. Jesse will ground me till I’m his age if he finds out.”
“That’s true, you just be careful. I’ll see you on Monday.” Betsy replied.
Daney echoed the greeting as she turned to head towards the woods that would short cut across to Cooter’s. The trail was about the time it took to walk from the Sheriff’s office to the General Store in town.
Daney was quiet as she slipped through the woods. She was almost to the clearing when she heard voices. She got as close as she could in the dark.
“I don’t know why you haven’t gotten her to ask him when his next run is, then you could call the Sheriff, have him bust Luke. Then Jesse’d be sure to get out of the business and Dad’d get all his clients.”
“You know that wouldn’t work. Those Dukes don’t talk about their business. Just been pure luck that she delayed him those times. I figure we somehow follow him and contaminate their stills.”
“Or blow them up.”
“With it being so dry, we run the risk of causing a wild fire and then if we got caught, we’d go up on arson. I say the safest way would be to wreck the stills so they’d be out of business for a while.”
“Yeah probably, pa wouldn’t be happy if we get caught, Levi.”
“Don’t worry about it, Johnny Lee. Everything will be fine.”
Daney stepped slowly back away from the tree and quietly like the squirrels, raccoons and chipmunks and other animals that were scurrying about, she quickly dashed to the edge of the clearing where the land became Cooter’s property.
She saw Luke’s car in the driveway but he wasn’t amongst the folks who were milling around outside. Walking casually, like an invited guest, she went up to the porch and inside. It was a small place so it didn’t take her long to find that he wasn’t in the kitchen, living room, or bathroom or the cellar. She walked back up the steps and heard laughing.
She walked to the door of the room she hadn’t been to and opened it. The person she saw with Luke confirmed who the voices in the woods had been talking about.
Luke was furious after a glance. “You have five seconds to give me a damn good reason why you’re here.”
Daney gulped. “Uh oh well ya see it hmm”
Luke recognized the old stalling tactic. He looked at his girlfriend. “Would you mind excusing us.” She nodded. Luke walked out of the room to where Daney stood in the living room now.
“First I want to know how you knew where to find me, Second I want to know why you are, Third what were you doing in my room, that’s my shirt.”
“Yeah, it’s your shirt. Enos told me there was a party here and your going to be happy to hear the rest of my news but not here.” Daney’s hazel eyes were staring intensely at the young woman in the doorway.
Luke was puzzled, glancing from his girlfriend back to his cousin. “I better get you home before Jesse and Martha find out.” Was all he said, and motioned for his cousin to head outside.
Daney replied, leading the way out. “Yeah.”
The way they had went, no one seen them leave. Luke decided to take a back way home, Jesse had told him to check on one of the stills yesterday but he had forgotten.
“Alright Daney, I ain’t mad at you but you know what you did was wrong. Now tell me what’s going on.”
Daney looked out the window for a second, gathering the facts as she knew them. Uncle Jesse is losing business, Luke has been late on runs… “How well do you like Delia?”
“What does this have to do with–” Luke paused as the cb crackled to life.
“Lost Sheep 1, Shepared, Mother Goose, are you out there?”
Luke grabbed the cb mic and clicked the talk button. “This is Lost Sheep 1 and Scout… What’s going on, Bo Peep?”
“There’s a fire in the chicken coop, another one in Aunt Martha’s flower bed by the side of the house and one along the fencing supplies near the garden…me and LS2 are on the cb in the barn.”
“Can you get Tilly started?”
“Uncle Jesse has the keys. Good, Daney found ya then.”
“Yeah, have Bo hotwire it. I’ll take the blame if anything happens. Meet us on old Ridge Road.” Luke smiled but inside he was angry. From this conversation with Daisy and Daney’s question, he figured out what was going on and he didn’t like it one bit.
Daisy replied. “I called Rosco at the Sheriff’s station and he said he’d get the volunteers out here.” She paused a second, Bo was yelling something. “He couldn’t hotwire it to start. When he checked the battery, the connection sparkled and puffed smoke.”
“Just start walking and I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“Ok. This is Bo Peep over and out.”
“Lost Sheep 1 and Scout out.” Luke threw the cb to the floor in disgust.
Rosco had called all the names on the list for the volunteer fire department except three.
He was down to P, “Gussy, get me Simon Partridge’s place please.”
He waited wondering where Boss was since he hadn’t heard from him in some time. “Hello Emma, could I speak to Simon please? Oh he’s talking to JD and Jesse, Jit Jit, please give the phone to Boss now. This is official business.”
Boss came over to the phone. “JD Hogg here, Rosco what do you want?” His eyes grew wide hearing the message. “Oh my, well you just get out there. We’ll be there in a few minutes. I’m gone.” He hung the phone up and turned to Jesse and Martha.
His fingers fidgeted with the watch in his vest pocket. “Jesse, we gotta get going out to your place. Apparently there is a fire near the house.”
“WHAT!” Jesse’s voice was as loud as a clap of thunder.
Martha grabbed his arm. “Jesse, calm down.”
He turned to her.
Lulu interrupted. “Now Jesse, we probably should get out there. Those kids of yours are probably frightened.”
Boss, Emma and Simon Partridge echoed her words.
Jesse took a deep breath. It wasn’t so much the land or anything material, it was the idea of losing one or all of the kids that was scary. And if he was sacred, then Martha must be sick with worry. They’d been lucky so far in not having any major incidents with any of the youngsters. Bo had gone through a mild case of childhood asthma, Daney and Daisy were prone to sinusitis like a lot of folks when the weather changed from winter to spring, then autumn to winter. And they’d all had the chicken pox but that was it. Sure there were plenty of bumps, bruises and cuts from falling off bikes or playing around but none of them serious enough for more than a visit to the doctor like the time…
Daney was 12 and Bo was 11. He had gotten a new bb rifle for his birthday, Daney wanted to use it but Bo had protested, he was going though an ‘I don’t like girls’ stage at the time. In the midst of playfully fighting over it, the scope on the end cut an inch below Daney’s index finger on her right palm when Bo jerked it away. She came in, got a bandage and went right back out to the barn to help with chores after a scolding from Martha about why girls shouldn’t play with any type of weapon. That Christmas, they had each gotten a bow set after Luke had went on a hunting trip with a pal who used one much to Martha’s dismay, Daisy turned out to be a better shot than the boys.
JD nudged his old friend from his memories. “C’mon Jesse, we gotta get over there. It’ll be alright.”
Jesse saw concern in his friend’s face. JD’d always been a business comes first kind of man but some things were more precious than money to him, he valued family even if he didn’t show it sometimes. Jesse quietly followed the others out of the house. Lulu was trying her best to keep Martha from crying. The white Cadillac soon pulled away from the house and out onto the road under Boss’s skilled guidance.
Rosco meanwhile had hurried out to his 1973 Plymouth Fury patrol car. This wasn’t hot pursuit but it was police work. He pressed his foot firmly on the accelerator and sped out of town on the 18 mile journey to the Duke farm.
Daney had been silent as Luke drove. She was worried, depending on how bad the fires were, nothing short of a thunderstorm would stop them if the fire truck didn’t make it. They were a mile from the farm when they seen Bo and Daisy in the headlights that shined on the dirt road.
Luke abruptly stopped the Monaco and jumped out the driver’s side while Daney bolted out the passenger side. He hugged Daisy tightly after the four ran to each other. Daney was dang near cutting Bo’s circulation off with a bear hug. He stepped back and looked at them. “I got a pretty good idea I know what happened. What we need to do is check the farm.”
They headed back to the car. No one was there yet when they arrived back at the farm.
Daisy and Bo just stared at the fires. Luke shook his head glancing from one fire to the next. Daney smiled suddenly and ran to the barn. Burlap sacks… where are they? What was that I read? She grabbed four and ran back outside.
They looked at her ripping the shirt she had taken off into four pieces. She had remembered the rest of the book, and luckily had a t shirt on under the plaid one.
“Daney, that’s my shirt!” Luke started to say.
“You wanna save the farm or your stinking shirt?” She looked at him and walked over to a bucket near the barn door. She dipped the squares of plaid and sacks in the water. Then turned to her cousins who were behind her. “Use this like a bandana, then take the sack and start putting the flames out.”
Luke finished the rest of her sentence. “Bo, you work on the chicken coop. Girls, you work on the flower bed and I’ll work over on the fencing supplies.”
The younger ones smiled and ran to their places. He watched them for a second before doing as Daney had said.
Bo stepped back from the chicken coop as the flames shot up and engulfed the wooden structure. It could be replaced easily. He ran over to where the flames were inching toward the side of the house.
Daney made out the form of her younger cousin through smoke that made her cough and stung her face. “Bo, don’t just stand there, go get some more sacks and make sure you wet them. Hurry.” She watched for a second before turning back to the fire.
Luke took a deep breath, hearing the wail of a fire engine truck followed by a patrol car.
Daisy made a quick grab for Daney as the trellis of roses along the stone bricks from the fireplace came crashing down after the bottom of it burned.
Rosco surveyed the scene as he got out of the patrol car. He saw the cloth masks on the girls’ faces and the sacks in their hands, he wondered why they weren’t using the hose or buckets. He started walking up after instructing the volunteers to start with the fire by the house as Bo and Luke came running.
“Oh Rosco, thank good ness you’re here.” Luke said, his blue eyes darting from the volunteer fire fighters to the Sheriff.
“What happened?” Rosco pulled a notebook from his jacket pocket. Part of being the best lawman in the state meant keeping your wits about you even when friends were in danger.
Daisy began the story. “Bo and me were in the kitchen having a snack when we heard an explosion. We looked outside to see the flowerbed on fire. We ran outside and the chicken coop was ablaze. Bo noticed the fencing supplies were smoking. We went into the barn.”
They were all quiet and observed Rosco writing the statement down.
“Alright, I have it that you… Daisy and Bo were inside. You heard a noise. Saw the flowerbed on fire and ran outside. Where you then seen the fencing supplies and chicken coop ablaze. Is that correct?” He looked up from the tablet.
Daisy nodded and Bo said. “Yes, sir. We called you from the cb in the barn. Then we called Luke. Daney was with him.”
Rosco jotted that down as well. “So you didn’t see anyone or anything? Hear a noise like a car driving off or someone running away?”
“No sir, we didn’t.” Bo and Daisy said at almost the same time.
“Ok, y’all stay put and I’m going to have a look around. See if I can’t find anything.” He put the notebook and pencil back in his pocket and pulled a small flashlight off his gun belt. Then he walked towards the area of where the flower garden had been. The fire department was now working on the fencing supplies that had spread to the field crops.
Rosco shined the light over every inch of the ground. An idea of what had happened formed in his mind, looking how the fire had seemed to be in somewhat of a pattern, according to the wet, muddy ground. Interesting it had not touched the house.
After not finding anything, he moved over to where the chicken coop had been. Again nothing but the after smell of burned wood and metal lingered in the air. He reached down and picked a handful of dirt up, he rubbed it between his index finger and thumb, he stooped down, the smell of gasoline or was it kerosene present the closer he got to the ground. He dropped the dirt sample and glanced toward the house where the light shined on an object laying a few inches from the door. He stood up and walked over, the light shining like a rainbow in the dark.
He put the cuff of his sleeve over his hand and picked the 5-gallon gasoline can up. It could belong to the Dukes, but they weren’t that careless were they?
He turned with the object in hand as several cars pulled in the driveway. He strolled over casually as Martha, Jesse, Boss, Lulu, the Partridges, Enos Strate, Cooter Davenport and several others came up. The sight of family and friends comforting one other brought a smile to his face.
Jesse looked around as everyone talked at once. The only thing that reminded him of life on the farm, was the barn. It stood untouched by the flames that destroyed the chicken coop, the spring blossoms in the garden were gone and he wasn’t sure but it looked like most of the crops in the field were too. He whistled and held his hand to bring order. He looked at his nieces and nephews. “Alright, what happened?”
“I believe it’s a case of arson, but it’s going to be hard to prove without more evidence than this.” Rosco held the gas can out for everyone to see.
Everyone stared on it. The same question in everyone’s eyes and on their faces. No one noticed the four young Dukes looking at each, an expression that seemed to say, should we tell or take care of this ourselves?
Rosco continued. “Does this belong to you?”
Luke spoke up. “No, it’s not ours. I don’t think.”
Cooter stepped closer. “It ain’t yours. When we were at the races, you scratched Dukes on the bottom to identify it.”
Jesse nodded. “That’s right. Bo was afraid someone else would take it.”
Rosco hated to do it but according to what he had found this was a crime scene and he didn’t need folks trampling all over the place. “Jesse, I’m gonna have to ask to stay off the property till I can look it over more thoroughly in the morning.”
Jesse was going to answer him but Enos spoke up. “Well that won’t be a problem Sheriff Rosco, they can stay at our place.” He gestured to his folks who stood beside him.
“We’d be glad to have y’all over.” Dean and Ellie Strate echoed.
“No, no they can stay with us.” Lulu disagreed. She looked over at JD who nodded, then spoke quietly. “From the looks of things Jesse, you might need to take a mortgage out to get you back on your feet.”
Jesse had been thinking the same thing. What with 3 teenagers and 3 adults in the house, they made it most months. But this was a huge set back. It was going to take more than a few shine runs to make it till next harvest season. He looked at his family. “Yeah, what do y’all want to do?”
Martha spoke for the group. “The girls and I can stay with Lulu while you men folk stay out at the Strates. It’s just for a night, Sheriff?”
Rosco nodded. “Yes ma’am. One, possibly two nights… if you like you can go inside and get a few things.” He paused as one of the volunteers came up.
“Sheriff, we got the fire out. We’re gonna leave now.”
Rosco waved. “Thank you.”
“It was no problem.” Smiles crossed everyone’s faces. That was a true sediment of how many folks felt. Hazzard was a small community and most people loved to help out when they could, however they could.
* * *
The next morning while Jesse and Martha were discussing a mortgage with JD at the bank, Luke, Bo, Daney and Daisy were out at Cooter’s farm.
Luke had been up most of the night thinking. Everything he knew pointed to one thing. Someone wanted the Dukes out of the moonshine business, he firmly believed that given the chance the culprits would come back and destroy the home that had been passed on through five generations of Dukes. They’d been lucky, last night that no one had been hurt, but what if next time they weren’t?
Sure the Sheriff would investigate but if he didn’t have any evidence he couldn’t arrest anyone, plus a lot of folks preferred to handle things on their own with out the law involved and that’s just what Luke had decided and now he had a plan.
“Alright, the way I figure it. The Suttons are behind this. What we need to do is get someone on the inside to find out what they’re up. That’s where you come in, Daney. Your friends with Betsy, right?”
“Yeah, but I don’t see how that will get us any where. We should just go blow up their stills.” Bo commented hastily.
“That won’t work for three reasons. One, their still sites are hidden better than ours. Two, they’d expect us to do that right away. Three, it’s kinda of silly.”
“Uncle Jesse’ll have a fit if he finds out what your up too, Luke.” Daisy gently reminded.
Luke looked at both of them. They were still young and weren’t quite grasping at what he was explaining. “So we just sit back and let them take everything we got! Jesse and Martha have worked too long and hard to have it taken away.”
“Delia said their parents were going out of town this weekend. I want you Daney to get an invite over there,” he paused a moment. “Johnny Lee usually follows everything his brother does, so I want you to get close to Levi.”
Daney raised an eyebrow, the expression on her face was sour. “I think you’re suffering from smoke inhalation.”
“No, there’ll be plenty of people around.” Luke continued, like he wasn’t interrupted. “Now go call her.”
At the farm, Rosco was searching the field. The soil there didn’t have the pattern like a deliberate arson. In the middle of the burned area, he found a small piece of metal, small enough to be a key yet he didn’t think it was. He went back to the patrol car and grabbed a few bags, a marker and a pair of gloves. He walked back to the area and gently bagged the item after putting the gloves on. He placed the item, which he believed was the handle of an oil lantern, in his jacket pocket. Then he continued searching. Finally at the end of the field he found the tip of an arrow that snapped off its shaft. It could prove to be the Dukes, then again it could be evidence. He was getting the impression that an explosion had started the field fire. Some thing had been placed in the middle of the fencing supplies and blown up. He bagged the other item and then made a final search of the area. He had started at dawn and it was afternoon now. A Sheriff’s work was never done but solving things like this and keeping folks safe was the rewarding part of the job.
* * *
The Partridges had invited everyone over for dinner of beef stew. The girls were helping Martha and Lulu clean up, when Luke announced it was time to go.
“Where you kids going?” Jesse asked looking from the game of cards he was playing with Dean Strate, Simon Partridge and JD. Ellie Strate and Emma were working on a quilt for a neighbor’s baby that was due in a few weeks.
Luke looked at him. “Figured I’d take them fishing with me. Weren’t you complaining I wasn’t spending enough quality time with the family?”
Jesse nodded. “Yes, you just have them back by 9– you got your permits?”
Daisy answered. “Yes sir, I got the permits in my pocket.”
“Have a good time.” Martha called from the kitchen.
“We will.” Bo said, before shutting the front door behind him.
Enos stood outside on the Strate farm porch after finishing his chores, the Dukes had dropped a bag off earlier and asked him to hold it for them. He was getting mighty curious what was going on. He smiled as the Monaco pulled up along side the little one level cottage type home. It being just him, his mom and dad, they hadn’t needed a big place. “Hey y’all,” he called as they got out of the car.
“Hey Enos, where’s that bag I left earlier?” Luke asked, as they walked up to the porch.
“Inside, I put it under the kitchen table. The tablecloth hides it.” Enos confided.
“Thanks Enos, you mind if me and Daney go inside and get it?” Daisy asked, with a sweet smile. She was the most cheerful of the cousins. Daney was pretty cheery and both the boys were at times.
Enos blushed. “No, go ahead.”
Bo suppressed a laugh, it wasn’t that funny that Enos seemed to be sweet for Daisy but he just couldn’t imagine Daisy with someone like Enos. Except for being the children of moon shiners, they didn’t have anything in common, no similar interests. Then again half the girls Luke had went out with, didn’t have similar interests either. He was glad he didn’t have to worry about this type of stuff for a few years. He was just old enough know how to use the tractor and other farm vehicles as long as Jesse or Luke was with him. He let the laugh go when Daney came out of the house.
With her hair curled a little and some of that stuff girls liked called make up on her face, she looked a couple of years older. The tank top and shorts were Daisy’s. Daney preferred jeans and a t shirt most days. “You’re going like that?”
Daney shot him a look. “Shut up. I don’t wanna hear it.”
“Alright Enos, I’m counting on you not to let her out of your sight.” Luke commented, as they walked down the steps and piled in the Monaco. “I’ll let y’all off a bit down the road…me, Bo and Daisy’ll be in the woods watching.”
Enos nodded, as the car began its journey. “You can count on me, Luke.”
“I know, that’s why I asked you instead of Cooter.”
Back at the Partridge farm, Rosco stopped to let Jesse and Martha know they could go home if they liked.
“Rosco, you sit down and have some dinner. You don’t look so well.” Lulu fussed.
“I’m fine. I don’t need anything to eat.” Rosco replied, over the years he gotten use to his older sister’s overprotectiveness.
“Lulu, you leave him alone. We could use another partner in our card game if your interested?” JD called from the table.
“Khee, I’d love too.” Rosco said and took a seat. He went over the details of the evidence he had gathered as the cards were shuffled and dealt by Jesse. The women listened with a keen interest as they finished up the quilt.
* * *
Delia saw Luke’s friend talking to her brothers. She watched him sit his bottle of root beer down and laugh at probably some stupid joke of Johnny Lee’s.
She grabbed two beers from the refrigerator and walked outside. She strolled up and casually took a spot in front of the table. She whispered some thing to her oldest brother.
Luke watched the scene unfold, there was nothing he could do inless he blew his cover. His eyes widened seeing Enos sip the beer that had been switched.
Bo nudged him, “Luke, Luke!”
He turned to Bo for a second and when he turned back, he saw Levi, Johnny Lee and Daney heading into the house. This was exactly what wasn’t suppose to be happening but it was. “You two stay here, I’m going to get Cooter.”
Daisy spoke quietly. “He’s talking with Delia and Enos.”
Bo jumped up to make a run but Luke grabbed him back down. “Can’t do it. We’re just going have to trust that Daney can take care of herself this once.”
Daisy looked at him. “Luke, why don’t you just over there and pretend you got done with what you had to do and well you know…”
Luke thought for a second. “I’ll go over as a diversion and you two sneak into the house.”
Enos was surprised to see Luke heading his way, it was then he noticed Daney was nowhere around and neither of the Sutton boys were either. “Hey Luke,” he called to his friend.
Cooter watched as Delia made a break for it. He stepped in front of her as Luke stepped up behind her. “That some kind of new dance?”
Delia looked at him and then turned back to Luke. “Hey sugar, thought you couldn’t make it.”
Luke smiled. “I got done early. But I guess you don’t really need me here.”
Delia laughed. “Well of course I do.”
Bo nervously led the way into the house, he hadn’t ever been here and it was a disadvantage. The house was a lot like the Duke farm but the room layout was different. There was no one anywhere on the first floor. Daisy followed her younger cousin up the flight of stairs. She grabbed his hand as they approached the landing.
Daney looked around the room. “Nice, don’t you think we should be heading back to the party now?”
“We can have a party up here. No one to bother us.” Levi half snickered.
“I left my drink,” Daney replied and stepped back toward the door. “We could go down for a few minutes and come back up here.”
“Johnny can run down and get us something to drink.” Levi replied, pulling her away from where she had stepped.
Daney cringed as the door shut behind Johnny. She glanced around the room again and smiled. “It’s a little stuffy in here. Could you open the window?”
“I guess so.” Levi replied and walked over to the window a few feet away. As he lifted it, he heard the door open. He glanced to see Daney making a hasty exit. Catching a glimpse of his brother on the hall floor, he forgot about the window and it caught his hand as he turned. Luckily it was a window that was loose and he freed himself. He saw Daney, Daisy, Bo and Luke making a run through the back out to the woods. He almost tripped over his brother out cold, upon his own exit from the room.
The Dukes had a heck of a head start but he could catch them. He made it as far as the back porch before Delia stopped him.
“Let them go, we’ll get them some other time.”
“But De, if we don’t do it now–”
Delia held her hand up. “Just shut up. We’re going to have to think this out.”
Levi knew his sister was right. If they made a move now the Dukes would blame them.
Luke caught his breath as they piled into the Monaco, they had left at Cooter’s place. “You guys ready for the rest of the plan?”
“No, not really. We’re gonna get caught.” Daisy said, sitting in the back seat behind Luke in the drivers seat and Bo was in the front passenger seat, Daney in back of him.
Cooter was leaning on the driver’s door. “Y’all ain’t gonna get caught. Anyone asks I’ll tell ‘em you were here the whole time.”
Luke had been having second thoughts up till then. They had the information they needed to carry out part two but would it be worth it? Or should they just let things be. “Yeah, that’s why I told you about it instead of Enos. He would’ve blabbed it to everyone.”
Enos was a really good friend but he couldn’t keep a secret or tell a lie if his life depended on it. Cooter, the best mechanic around on the other end didn’t mind a fib or a shuck and jive especially if it was done with good intentions. And he could keep a secret.
Bo was leaning towards being like Luke too, but he’d already shown a hot temper where Luke’s temper was calm until something snapped and made it explode. Daisy hardly ever got mad but when she did, you’d know it. Daney was somewhere in between. There were times she’d keep it all inside and other times she’d let her temper go right on the spot. But they all shared a strong loyalty and pride.
“Do we have everything?” Daney asked quietly, maybe if they didn’t have all the supplies they could back out of this and when Luke was calmer, he’d see it wasn’t the right thing to do.
Cooter stepped away from the car. “Yeah– Y’all wanna stay here and I’ll go, I don’t mind.”
Luke smiled as he heard three voices “No, we’ll go.”
He turned the key in the ignition, put his foot on the accelerator and drove away.
Within an hour, they had destroyed all of the Suttons stills. The first one a few miles from the Sutton place, had been left standing covered with oil, making it of no use now. The second one somewhere near the swamp was in pieces, scattered on the ground.
The Dukes made their way quickly to the last one, a bow with arrow in one hand and a jug of water in the other. After filling it with the contents of the jugs, they stepped back in almost the shape of a baseball diamond and took aim. Four arrows flew, three were duds but one was dynamite. Metal and water showered down after a loud bang. They looked to make sure no fire had started before leaving the scene.
Jesse and Martha were not home when they arrived. The girls went to their room while the boys stayed up and played cards like nothing had happened.
Emma picked up the phone after it had rung for a few seconds. Everyone was getting ready to leave, the quilt was finished and the card game over.
“Sheriff, its Gussy. She says she needs to speak to you.”
Rosco stepped over and took the phone. “Sheriff Rosco P.Coltrane here,” he listened, the smile on his face quickly turned to a frown. “I see, yes I’ll be at the station to take your complaint in a few minutes.”
He sent the phone down and turned to Jesse. “Your boys have any grudges against the Sutton boys?”
Jesse shook his head. “No, not that I’m aware of. I think Luke was seeing one of their sisters.”
“That was Levi, he claims someone destroyed their stills and it was your boys that did it. I think it’d be best if you called the boys and had them come down.” Rosco was getting an idea of what possibly happened now, the Suttons had done the arson at the Dukes farm and Luke had gotten their stills in an ‘eye for eye’ manner, that some believed was acceptable. “Boss, I may need you to officiate seeing how late it is.”
Boss nodded. “Sure, we’ll wait in the car for you Jesse, c’mon Lulu, Martha.”
It was quiet as Jesse went to the phone while the others left, Emma and Simon even went outside to give Jesse privacy. It seemed forever for Gussy to get anyone to answer.
Luke answered the phone. “Hey Uncle Jesse, the girls are in their room. Bo and me are playing cards. Everything is fine,” he cringed hearing his uncle.
“I want you, Beauregard, Daisy and Danielle at the Sheriff’s office in 20 minutes.”
“Yes, sir. We’ll be there.” Luke said quickly and hung up knowing his uncle would say no more. He leaned back against the wall. “Bo, Daisy, Daney, get out here.” He waited till the three of them were standing in front of him. “I don’t know why, but Jesse called and he wants to see us as the Sheriff’s office.”
“Do we have to go?” the three of them asked.
“Does your birth certificate say Beauregard and yours say Danielle?”
“Yep, C’mon no use in making them wait.” Luke led the way out of the house.
Delia smiled as the Sheriff followed by Commissioner Hogg and his wife Lulu walked into the office. She nudged her brother when Martha and Jesse Duke came in.
Rosco walked over to where they were seated on the bench. “Now, what seems to be the problem?”
“We went out uh to check on our business ventures and found they’d been destroyed.” Levi stated, making sure to keep a straight face.
“You said something about the Dukes on the phone?” Rosco questioned.
Johnny added. “Yeah, he did. We see ‘em leaving the scene of the last one.”
“I take you were following them? Why would you be following them?”
At that moment the doors swung open and the Duke cousins walked in. The looks on their faces and the Suttons was all Rosco needed to know his assumptions earlier were correct.
“Why you did you do it, Luke?”
“Do what? We were at Cooter’s most of the night.” That was not really a lie.
Jesse glared at his eldest nephew. “That better be the truth.”
“It is.” Bo squeaked.
Delia held up a small bag. “Sheriff, we found these at the site. Now we probably should have left them there but we figured you’d want to see them.”
Rosco looked. He held the clear gallon size plastic up for all to see.
Martha buried her face in her hands. A hair bow of Daisy’s, a bandana of Luke’s, a scrap of Bo’s shirt, and a paperback book of Daney’s.
“Sheriff, all that proves is they were in OUR house.” Daney barely kept her voice even in tone as she walked over to the Suttons.
Delia laughed, “Oh really?”
“Alright, one at a time.” JD ordered.
“Daney, you first.” Rosco added.
“Daisy just made that hair bow at Miss Lulu’s place the other night.”
“Or did ya leave it at our house when you were at the party earlier. Bet your uncle and aunt would be happy to hear the rest of the story.” Delia looked over to the patriach and matriarch of the family.
“You shut up, Daney wasn’t anywhere near y’all’s place.” Bo exclaimed. He looked over at his elders. “Just call Cooter.”
“I already did.” Jesse stated flatly. He hadn’t believed Cooter and he wasn’t buying what the kids were saying now. Hadn’t he and Martha raised them better? They could probably reach an agreement seeing how Rosco believed the Suttons were responsible for the arson at the farm. “Rosco, go ahead and lock ‘em up.”
“No,” Daisy paused. “We did it.” Her hair covered her face as she bowed her head to look at the ground. Daney did the same and Bo’s dark blue eyes darted toward the doors behind him but Luke’s light blue eyes remained in a cold stare. “We might’ve, but y’all are the ones who started the fire at our place.”
“Yeah, we did. It was pretty cool too,” Johnny Lee stopped speaking as his brother and sister nudged him.
Delia tried to cover. “Oh Sheriff, he don’t know what he is talking about.”
Rosco didn’t buy it. Now he had a problem. Johnny Lee, Bo, Daisy and Daney were minors. Delia, Levi and Luke were adults. He hated to jail any of them but maybe the older ones would agree to leave the younger ones out of it. He doubted but it was worth a try. “Alright, Bo, Daney, Daisy, Johnny Lee, I wanna take y’all down to the cells first.” He looked apologetically at Martha and Jesse, Boss and Lulu.
“Wait, Rosco, you can’t. It was all my idea.” Luke said quietly.
Daney looked up. “And besides, last night I heard them in the woods behind their place talking about doing something to us.”
Rosco believed both statements. He could understand why tonight’s events had happened. He was about to question the Suttons again when the door swung open, it was the postmistress Emma Tisdale and Enos Strate.
“I told you they might be here.” Enos said, as they walked up to the group.
“Yes you did,” Miz Tisdale said, before stopping in front of Jesse and Martha. “I’ve been looking for y’all. This letter came and it’s important.”
“Thank you Emma,” Martha said as Jesse opened it.
Jesse’s eyes widened. He knew a little about the laws governing the county. He looked over at JD. “What does this mean?”
JD looked it over. “Well it appears to be a draft letter.”
Lulu, Martha and Emma gasped in surprise.
* * *
The next morning, Martha stopped in the archway between the kitchen and living room. She watched the girls as they made breakfast. Daney stood at the stove, cooking a pan of scrambled eggs from the ones, Ellie and Dean Strate had dropped off, along with homemade bread that Daisy was buttering over at the counter. It seemed just like any other normal day but it wasn’t, in a few hours Luke would be on his way to the Marines. And wouldn’t be home until the girls and Bo were all out of high school.
She didn’t like that or the mortgage they’d taken out but they couldn’t keep relying on the kindness and generosity of their friends and neighbors. If Jesse decided to continue making shine, they might get the mortgage paid off a little sooner but with Luke leaving, he’d have to pay people to run it for at least two years till Bo would be legal to drive, Jesse wouldn’t allow the girls to run even if they wanted too.
She turned as two arms wrapped her in a hug, it was Bo.
“Aunt Martha, it’ll be alright.”
“Yes, it will, we just need some time don’t we?”
“Go get Uncle Jesse and Luke, this breakfast is gonna get cold!” Daney said, taking her place at the table next to her cousin after setting the platter of bacon and eggs next to the plate of toast Daisy had sat down.
Bo took a couple of steps into the living room while Martha went to the table and took her seat at the end that was near the door. “Hey, y’all breakfast is ready!”
Daisy teased, “Daney or I could have done that ya know.”
Bo stepped over to the table and took his seat. He smiled, it faded a little as he looked at the seat next to him. This would be the last meal for four years that he and Luke would share, the bedroom upstairs would still have Luke’s things but his older cousin wouldn’t be. He had never thought of Luke ever leaving but a letter from the United States government had said it was to be.
He picked up his glass of juice and took a sip. Luke tousled his hair as he sat down at the table. “Hey, watch it.”
Luke smiled. “By the time I’m back, your side burns will be longer than the mess you call a crew cut.”
Bo grinned mischievously but kept quiet after a glance from Jesse. His uncle hadn’t been in the best of moods after the last few days’ events. They’d been lucky to get off with just a stern lecture after Jesse and Martha had found out. He made a small thank you during the prayer that the letter from the government for Luke had showed up when it did, or they’d probably be visiting him in the Hazzard County jail alongside Levi Sutton who was looking at 5 to 10 years.
A bit later, he watched with the rest of the family and many friends like Rosco, Boss and Lulu, the Partridges and Miz Tisdale, who’d gathered at the farm to see Enos and Luke leave. They were also here to help plant a late crop that Jesse hoped might make it in order that they wouldn’t have to use as much of the mortgage money as he estimated they would if they had to wait till next year. Only time would tell what’d happen next, since nothing in Hazzard except for taxes was guaranteed. Tho’ it was nice to get a surprise like the rainbow that everyone was staring at over the barn.