by: KK Duke
This story will take place when KK is five. (November, 1980)
Steven was honored to be asked to teach, even if it was only for three days. He had heard the horror stories about Ms. Kingman from other teachers that now had her students in their classes. He was surprised that an autistic five-year old child was the cause of her final demise. He knew he would have his hands full for the next few days but he was up for the challenge.
Now that KK knew that she wouldn’t have to deal with Ms. Kingman again, she didn’t mind talking about what Ms. Kingman had them do. Uncle Jesse had wanted peace and quite at the dinner table, but KK had never talked so much at one time in her life and Uncle Jesse wasn’t going to put a stop to that. She gave Daisy a blow-by-blow detail of the day’s event after talking about Ms. Kingman.
Finally Uncle Jesse had to tell KK to be quite and eat. She looked hurt but Uncle Jesse pointed out to her that she hadn’t touched her food and everyone else was done. She smiled and said, “Sorry, Uncle Jesse.”
“Oh there’s nothing to be sorry about. You’re skinny enough as it is so the more food I can get you to eat the better,” Uncle Jesse said smiling.
Soon KK finished eating and felt pretty good about the day’s events. That was until Luke said that she would be getting a new teacher tomorrow. Suddenly KK’s attitude changed.
“What’s the problem now, KK?” Luke asked seeing KK’s attitude change.
“They won’t be the same, will they?”
“No I don’t think so. K, don’t worry about it,” Luke said but already knew that she would.
“Listen, it can’t be as bad as Ms. Kingman,” Bo said, “So don’t worry. And if they are, you come get me and I’ll teach them a thing or two.”
“What Bo’s trying to say is if there’s a problem at school, you come and tell us and will help you solve it, okay?” Uncle Jesse asked KK.
“Okay, but I’m still scared.”
“Well of course, that’s natural. Everyone gets a bit nervous meeting someone new.”
“Come on, K, let’s take the General out for a spin for a little while,” Bo said.
“Can I go, Uncle Jesse?” KK asked.
“Of course, just be careful you two.”
“Yippee,” KK said and walked out of the farmhouse with Bo.
KK was more nervous the next morning than she was the first day of school. She had never really met Mr. Gleason and didn’t know who or what he was all about.
Mr. Gleason explained the situation that Ms. Kingman had a medical emergency and she would not be returning to teach the class. Uncle Jesse had told KK that she was the only one that knew the real reason but not to say anything to anyone because it was none of there business. He also explained that he was filling in this week and they would have a new teacher beginning next week.
The rest of the week went as well as expected. KK never spoke to Mr. Gleason because she wasn’t too sure of him. It took her a while to speak to anyone. She had to figure them out to see if they were worth knowing. Everything seemed to be going great until late Friday afternoon when she was called to the office to speak to Mr. Kilgore, Hazzard Elementary School Principal.
“KK, have a seat,” Mr. Kilgore said as he shut the door.
“I’m not in any trouble, am I?”
“No, I just wanted to talk to you for a moment,” Mr. Kilgore said as he sat behind his desk. “Now, how do you like Mr. Gleason?”
“I don’t know, don’t know him.”
“How would you like him to help you to learn to read?”
“Okay, I guess.”
“Like I said I don’t know the guy yet.”
“Okay then, we’ll arrange a time for him and you to get together to start working on your reading skills. I’ve already spoken to your Uncle Jesse and he’s all for it.”
“I’ll talk to your new teacher and Mr. Gleason on Monday to figure out a good time for your two to meet.”
“Is that it?” KK asked feeling like she was going to go through the same thing that happened with Ms. Kingman.
“Yes it is. Don’t worry KK; he’s not like Ms. Kingman. He’ll give you one-on-one tutoring and in no time you’ll be caught up to where your peers are at.”
After that KK got down from the chair that she was sitting in and left the room. She really felt that this was not going to help the situation but was willing to give it a try.
KK had been unusually quite the entire weekend but when asked if something was bothering her she just replied that nothing was. Uncle Jesse and Luke both knew something was wrong, but felt that if KK didn’t want to talk about it then let it be. Couldn’t make someone talk about their problems no matter what age they were.
When asked for a ride to school on Monday, she declined the offer saying that she needed the time to think things out. It was odd, because KK loved the General Lee more than anything, but they knew that she was going through something that she would have to deal on her own so they let her be.
When KK got to school she wasn’t gonna rush into talking to the teacher right away. She had done that with Ms. Kingman and see where that lead too. She just needed time to figure out about her new teacher and this Mr. Gleason fellow. Sure he had the best intentions but what if he was another Ms. Kingman? She wouldn’t say a word to him until she was sure that he was okay.
Her new teacher was a Mr. Stone who had just graduated from college and really didn’t know what he was getting into but appreciated the chance to get his feet wet in the field. KK wasn’t too sure of him since he was 6’4” which to KK felt like a giant to her 3’6” frame. When attendance was taken, KK didn’t make a peep to tell the teacher that she was here. Instead Matt said it for her explaining that she is extremely shy around strangers and it might take awhile for her to speak to him.
When 10:30 a.m. rolled around, Mr. Gleason came to her classroom to get KK personally. Although KK was a bit nervous, he had not shown any behavior that resembled Ms. Kingman so she did feel safe with him alone. She still though kept to her guns that she was speaking to him for a little bit until she got to know him better. So when they started it was a bit uncomfortable for him because she wouldn’t speak. He had expected this because she hadn’t spoken to him for the three days that they were in the same classroom together.
“Listen, KK, whenever you feel comfortable with me to speak, you let me know. But for now, I will tell you what each letter of the alphabet look like so you can start memorizing them, okay?” Steve said but all he got back was a cold stare from KK.
At lunch that day Matt wanted to know what went on.
“He just showed me the letters of the alphabet,” KK said as they ate lunch.
“You stuck to your guns?”
“Yep. He’s cool with it, but I don’t know how much longer this can go on?”
“K, I’m sure he’s not as bad as Ms. Kingman. You’ve got to give him a chance.”
“Yeah, I know. I just wish I didn’t have autism right now so I could be in a group with you guys.”
“Well, hopefully this will help you catch up to us. Just stick to them until you’re sure he’s okay and after that let him help you.”
It was a week or so before KK felt comfortable enough to actually say words to him. Actually, Mr. Gleason was shocked by it. He still felt that she wasn’t comfortable enough to speak to him.
Mr. Gleason stopped what he was doing and wanted to have a conversation with her. “KK, what made you start speaking?”
“You’re a pretty cool guy. I just needed to be comfortable with you.”
“K, you’re a pretty courageous young lady.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I know that you have autism. But by trying to learn how to read and facing that mean teacher of yours takes a lot of guts.”
“Do you really think so?” KK said smiling.
“Yes, I do. Not many five-year olds have enough courage as you do.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Let me guess, it has nothing to do with me but a certain cousin of mine?”
”How did you know?”
“Because every new guy in time wants to see if they can hook up with her. Believe me you’re not the first or the last. What I can tell you is that she works at the Boar’s Nest. Maybe you can hook up there.”
There was a bond that KK and Steve had together. It was something that clicked between them and they seemed to work well together. She was disappointed that he had to leave at the end of the school year and wished he could get a job as a teacher here in Hazzard. She made a mental note that she would do everything in her power to make that happen.
Daisy and Steve would go out on a few dates, but Steve was just in love with the body, not the girl. Daisy was nice and everything, but Steve didn’t feel a connection. He did become friends with the whole Duke clan which would lead to eating dinners at the farmhouse, enjoying a beer or two at the Boar’s Nest, and even helping out when the Dukes needed to get out of a tight jam.