Hilery Davenport pulled on her coat while she was looking out the window. It was unusually cold for Hazzard County, Georgia. She really didn’t want to leave the warmth and comfort of the kitchen of the Davenport farm. She was in the middle of mixing dough to bake cookies. She had been planning on handing them out to the kids at the orphanage during their Thanksgiving Party. If she’d had the choice, she would have stayed inside, but she had her holiday cookie cutters out in the barn to be stored. She knew exactly where in the barn they were, and which box they were in.
As soon as she had her coat on, she quickly walked out to the barn. The wind had been howling, so the barn, although cold, did offer some relief from the chill. Hil looked around the old building. The place was in disarray. The piles of boxes in the back were completely knocked over for some reason, and the old tool box that Cooter kept in there with his backup tools was laying open, upside down, with the tools spilled everywhere.
Hilery decided she would clean the tools up first. The young Davenport didn’t expect to see what greeted her when she picked the tool box up. She found a snow colored bird that seemed injured. Some of it’s feathers were missing, and it’s wing was clearly broken. The tool box had apparently landed on it. At first it chirped when the darkness was lifted, but then it calmed when it seen Hilery, as though it knew she would help it.
Seeing it was calm, she decided to risk picking it up so she could take it inside to call the vet. The bird hardly reacted. It cooed a little bit which made her smile. She could feel it shivering, so she used her hands to warm it gently. “Now where did you come from?” she asked, looking at it. It was beautiful. Feeling comfort in the animals trust, Hilery took it inside to get something to transport it in to the vets office.
First thing first though. Hilery grabbed a warm towel from the dryer and placed it in an empty box, and placed the dove there. Then she took a small washcloth and draped it over the creature to help shield it from the cold when she took it outside.
About two hours later, Hilery was carrying the little critter back out to her car, Jumper. The vet had asked her to keep an eye on him, and that his wing would be better in a few weeks, somewhere around Christmas.
“Well little guy, looks like you’re stuck with me for a while,” she chuckled, talking to the bird. He was simply beautiful. The look in its eyes though as it looked at her made her think that if it could talk, it would respond by saying, *and you’re stuck with me.* It made her want to laugh and cry at the same time. On her way back to the farm, she remembered what she had gone out to the barn to get – her holiday cookie cutters – and she remembered she didn’t store them in the box in the barn for the summer. She shoved them in the top of the kitchen closet.
Hilery continued with her cookie making as soon as the bird was settled in, which took little effort on her behalf. The small male dove snuggled in the warm towel in the box as Hilery rushed through making her cookies. A lot of childern were looking forward to the sweet treats and without her, they wouldn’t get any at all. It was late in the morning when Hilery finally crawled into her bed under the heavy comforter. The wind still blew hard outside and some tiny snow flakes kicked up.
Sometime during the night, the bird climbed from the box, on its tiny feet, to the window above her bed and cooed with the rooster in the early morning sunshine. The coo was a beautiful sound and alittle unusual. It was Thanksgiving Day and Cooter was already bustling around to finish making some extra turkey and stuffing for the orphanage.
“Hilery, sweetheart, time for you to get up,” Cooter knocked on her bedroom door around 10 a.m. She still hadn’t told him about her finding the dove. He had come in around eleven that night and went straight to bed.
Hilery groaned and rolled over. She was tired and pulled the pillow over her head. “Go away,” she mumbled. The dove looked at her, cocking his head, from his perch on her window sill. It was extra large so he had settled down there for the night. The beautiful white bird cooed softly and did his best to hop down onto the bed. He found his way under her pillow, where her head was, and cooed louder, nuzzling against her face gently. When that didn’t work, he pecked at her hair gently, not hurting her, just annoying her.
“Okay, okay, I’m up,” she told it, sitting up and letting it perch on her finger. “You’re a very persstant little birdy,” Hilery chuckled. He cooed in responce as if he were trying to say he were proud of it.
Hil placed the small white bird back in the box with the towel and sat down to brush her hair, then she grabbed some clothes and headed off to the shower. When her morning routine was finished, she picked the box up and carried it out to the kitchen. “Mornin’ cousin,” Hilery greated.
“Mornin’, took you long enough,” he commented.
“For once it wasn’t me dragging you out of bed cuz,” she laughed. “Yeah, I didn’t get to bed ’til around dawn. Spent the night baking.” Cooter nodded as he listened, sipping his coffee.
“Whatcha got in the box?” he asked, just before he heard a cooing sound.
Gently she reached in and pulled the dove out. “I found him out in the barn. I never did get around to cleaning it up, but it was a complete mess out there. The tool box was over turned on him and his wing is broken,” she explained. “The boxes were all over the place too.”
“I seen that this morning and I cleaned it up.” Cooter told her, and tenderly picked the dove up. It looked at him until he put it down. “I’m sure you’ll take good care of him. I don’t see where it could have come from though, no one in the area has a dove.” Hilery nodded in agreement.
Later that day, Hilery and Cooter took the goodies up to the orphanage for the children. They were overjoyed. The county had yet again cut the funding for the establishment, which was one of the main reasons the Davenports had decided to fund the feast and cook the food for it. If it weren’t for them, there would not have been any Thanksgving Turkey or stuffing or anything else special like that. The Dukes supplied the other deserts aside from the cookies, like the pies.
When the two families arrived, Hilery couldn’t help but to notice that the children didn’t have adiquate winter clothing or gear. They were freezing when they left the building and it explained why none of them had been outside playing when ever they drove by.
Although the childern weren’t dressed for the weather, they were overjoyed for the turkey and other goodies. They ate them up like they hadn’t ever tasted them before, and their grace that day was filled with extra thanks to the Lord for the gifts that Cooter and Hilery had brought them.
When every bite was eaten and every crumb licked away to nothing, the kids hugged and bid Hilery nad Cooter goodbye, petting the little white dove gently as it perched on Hilery shoulder.
It cooed gently as Hilery and Cooter smiled. The children were sweet and deserved much better than what they were being given by the county. Those poor poor kids.
“Say Coot, you think we should do Christmas for them too?” Hil asked her cousin as they walked out to Jumper, having given every child in the Orphanage a hug and wished them a Happy Thanksgiving in return.
“Well if we don’t Hil…you and I both know that they won’t have a Christmas.” Cooter said getting into the passneger seat of the car and settling in. Cooter was right, Hilery had known the answer to her own question, she just needed Cooters approvel for herself to hear.
“Yeah I know. I guess it’s the right thing to do. All those kids want is to know they are loved, be warm, and to be given what they need.” she said. She already had all those things and those kids didn’t. It hurt her to know something like that, to watch them suffer in the ways they did. It was bad enough they had lost their parents; they didn’t need to live in such povershed conditions on top of that. She herself knew how it was to loose some of the people she had been closest to in life.
Cooter took that opportunity to reach out and give her shoulder a squeeze to comfort her. The dove was on the other. “I know Hil, I know,” he told her quietly, telling her he understood.
The following day, Black Friday, Hilery got up and woke her cousin up extra early. She wanted a head start that day. They got to the Garage around 7 a.m. It was a good thing too. Many people had risked the unseasonal snow and ice and wound up stuck in a ditch or mud from the roads being so slick.
“We’d better get out on the roads and get folks outta trouble.” Cooter said gathering the chains for his tow truck and starting the old diesel, letting the engine warm up. “You gonna stay here or come along?”
“How about I do the tow jobs for you? It would give you a chance get caught up on paperwork and stuff,” she offered. She could handle the old wrecker by herself.
“Alright, long as you can handle it.” Cooter said taking a seat in his office chair and he went through his papers. “Becarfull Hilery.” He said giving her a loving grin.
“I always am cousin,” she replied, and then heard the dove coo. “You wanna come along?” she asked it, offering her finger for it to hop onto so she could put it on her shoulder.
The bird hopped onto her finger and climbed its way up her arm and settled on her sholder. Hilery grinned seeing that the bird had made itself all good and comfortable. “Well see ya later cousin.” She said and left the garage in the old rickety tow truck.
It didn’t take her time to find Mrs. Linden, her first tow job. Her car wasn’t that far off from the garage, just on the outskirts of town infact. “Howdy, want some hot chocolate?” Hil offered taking out a styrofoam cup and a thermos.
“Sure.” The chilled women said as Hilery poured her a glass. It was unusually cold out, Hilery slipped her gloves on and chained the car to the tow truck. “Thank you.”
“It’s nothing,” Hilery told her, and then pulled the car out of the ditch. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No you have done enough already. Thank you.” The women clasped Hilerys cold, gloved fingers in her old hands and thanked her tenderly.
Hilery smiled. “Just donig my job. Have a nice day, and watch out for the ice,” she told her. As soon as Mrs. Linden was driving away, Hilery climbed back into the tow truck. She was just in time to hear another call for help.
“Jit Jit, Cooter are you out there? I’ve ditched my patrol car.” Rosco slurred into the CB mic.
“Cooter isn’t doing tow jobs today Rosco, I am.” Hil said. “Where you at?”
“Jit Hilery? Awe I’m on Razor Back Ridge at the end of the road.” Rosco replied, a litte unhappy that it was Hilery comin’ to pull him out instead of Cooter. The older Davenport usually did a faster job.
“Okay, I’ll be there in about twenty minutes. The roads are really icy so I’m takin’ my time. You sound disappointed.” she noted, taking a quick glance at the dove. He sat in the passengers seat. Hilery had put him there for while she was driving so it would be easier.
“Ok good.” Rosco said. “Over and out.” He slurred again and hung the mic up, blowing on his cold fingers.
Hilery shook her head, driving toward the old mountain. It took her longer than she expected it would, but she got there only 10 minutes late. “Sorry I’m late, Rosco,” she said climbing out of the wrecker. “Want a warm drink and my gloves?” she noticed Rosco’s hands were turning bright red from the cold.
Rosco shook his head and hurried her towards the downed patrol car. “Get at it woman.” He mumbled as she raised the large chains.
She chuckled. ‘Take them, you need them more, and there’s some hot cocoa in the tow truck. There’s a package of styrofoam cups in there too for you to drink out of.” she told him, and went to work hooking the car up. She just completely ignored his woman comment, biting her tounge.
Hilery had the patrol car pulled out just as Roasco was getting all cozy, but he was glade that his patrol car was free of the mud.
“Happy Rosco?” she asked him. He nodded.. “Listen, I was wondering if I could ask you something,” she told him. He had her gloves on his hands, and he was sipping the hot drink.
“Oh awe right.” He said after taking a long sip of the hot liquid.
“Are you planning anything for the town for Christmas?”
“Nope.” Rosco said looking at the young Davenport girl, curiously.
“Could I organize something then?” Hil requested. “Something the kids would enjoy, like a parade or caroling.”
Rosco thought about it for a moment then nodded emptying the cup of hot contents. “Just dont make a mess.” Rosco said getting into his car. “Thank ya kindly Hilery.”
“It was nothing Sheriff. I should be the one thanking you for giving me permission to do something for those kids and the rest of Hazzard. Take care and keep those gloves incase you need them again. I got another pair I can use at home.” Rosco nodded.
Hilery did three more tow jobs that morning before heading back to the Hazzard Garage. She was whistling a Christmas tune with the dove on her shoulder as she wakled in. “I’m back Cooter,” she said, and then flopped down on her chair as he looked up at her.
“Welcome back. I take it things went well?” Hilery nodded. Things hadn’t been too hard, but her thermos was empty. She’d have to make more hot cocoa.
Over the next few days, Hilery started to work on getting things ready for a small Christmas Parade, and she began to work 14 hours a day. Cooter didn’t know it but she was taking several side jobs for people to get money. One day she fixed a fence for old man Wickers, and the next she rebuilt the side of someone’s barn.
The work was wearing her down, but it was truely helping the parade. She had been able to purchase some supplies for the children of the orphange to make stuff for the parade.
She also purchased them gloves, sweaters, hats, and coats. It was the least she could do. She gave them to the children early so they could play in the snow. Around December 4th, she went over to Atlanta for something unrelated to the parade, and more supplies. She didn’t want Cooter to know what she was doing. She wanted this to be her own doing.
She went into the auto store with her head held high. She had ordered the stuff for his Christmas Present and it was all ready to be picked up. The gift for Cooter would be perfect and not very pricey. “Can I help you young lady?” a clerk asked from behind the desk.
“I’m here to pick up a welding helmet and leather apron that I ordered. My name is Hilery Davenport.”
In a few short moments, Hilery was on her way out of the auto store with Cooter’s present in her arms. Now to get a few small gifts for the orphange.
She went over to the toy store across the street after putting the stuff in her trunk. She picked out several things including portable cassette players and cassettes for the older children, and stuffed animals for the younger children. She spent all that day shoping for them until she had barely any money left. Her feet ached from all the walking she had done in the stores.
With the little money she had left, Hilery bough some spray paint from a hardware store. She got red, green, gold, silver, and brown. She figured she’d paint some of the old tow behind open tailors used for transporting goods that were stashed behind the garage, and use them as floats. The tricky part was hiding it from her cousin.
Hil had to put the paint in the passenger seat of Jumper because the trunk and backseat were full. She knew she wouldn’t make it back to Hazzard until after dark. The sun was already setting.
Half dollar sized snow flakes began to fall as Hilery pulled into the drive of the Davenport farm, a single candle burned in the front window of the old farm house. It was a tradition to have that candle there and it seemed welcoming to her as it would a weary traveler.
Freezing cold, she put the tarp over her car, and walked in. Her hands were completely numb and she was shivering. She was so tired she didn’t feel like eating, so she decided to go right to bed.
The little dove sat in his box, still awake. He cooed when he seen her and it made her smile. “Yeah, I’m home,” she told it, and plopped down on her bed. She didn’t bother to change, or to take her boots off. She was asleep before her head even hit the pillow.
*TWO WEEK LATER*
Hilery awoke before the breck of dawn, it was the morning of the parade and she was getting last minute preperations ready. Time was flying there wasnt much time until Christmas was apon them, just a little more then a week away.
Just the same, she pressed on, an old record played Christmas carols in the farm house as she hurried from the stove to the table. Hilery’s little fingers flew, rolling out cookies faster then she could cook them.
Cooter awoke to their smell, and it was cheery. He had been concerned about his cousin quite a bit lately. He hardly seen her by day, and at night she barely even mumbled a good night to him before flopping down on her bed. It puzzled him. He watched for a few minutes as she baked the cookies and fixed his breakfast before he said anything. “Good morning Hilery,” he said.
The little dove strutted out behind him and cooed at his feet. Then it climbed up the broom stick and onto an area of the counter away from the food.
“Good morning Cooter!” Hilery said a little startled as she set a plate of breckfast on the table for him and greeted the dove. “Hungery?” Hilery asked rolling out yet another batch of cookies and putting a pan of them in the oven.
“Thanks Cousin,” Cooter said, and started to eat.
“No problem Cuz.” Hilery told him, then turned to the dove. ” Here ya go little guy,” she said and placed some bird seed on the counter in a small dish. “Listen, I won’t be here too much longer. Just thought I’d get stuff started for the orphans and such, then I got things to do in town,” she said quickly, going back to her baking. “Something wrong?” She asked as Cooter watched her.
“Just doesn’t seem like you been spending much time here.” He said filling his mouth with breckfast, deciding not to press the subject. She gathered the rest of the cookies in a few large bags andwent into the living room to put her hat and jacket on. “The cookies in the oven are for you, see you at the parade later. Bye bye!”
“Bye,” he called and shook his head. He heard the door slam before he had gotten it out. A few seconds later he heard the vehicle start and speed off. “I hope you know what you’re doing Hilery, I really do,” he said, and turned his attention to Hilery’s new little friend. He’d been getting left at the farm house a lot lately. “So what do you plan on doing today?” he asked it, like his cousin would.
The small white bird looked at him twitching its head back and forth. It had finished the seed and just set near the kitchen window yerning to go outside and fly free.
“Yeah, are you worried about her too?” Cooter asked it. Much to his surprise, it dipped its head forward and then backwards several times as if to say yes. He chuckled. “I knew animals listened, but I never knew one to actually hold a complete conversation and actually say yes or no,” he said to it. The bird cooed in responce.
Meanwhile, as Hilery was driving into town, she hit a very slick spot as she tried turning. The car hadn’t stopped, just kept going forward until it landed lightly in a ditch. She pounded on the stearing wheel and vented her frustration. This was the last thing she needed. She was running late as it was. She hoped it wasn’t any indicator as to how the parade would go later on. Angry, she picked up the CB and called her cousin. It was kind of humiliating, the fact that she was stuck that is, because she had been the one going around in the tow truck lately getting everyone else unstuck when she was working.
Cooter came nearly a half an hour later; she was gonna be late. He pulled her out as quickly as he could, but it wasn’t going to get her to the parade any sooner. She’d have to ride to town with Cooter in the tow truck, the cars under carage had been damaged from the ditch and it would take hours to fix it to a driving state again.
She wasn’t happy, and it was clear. “So you mind telling me what’s been going on and why you left so early this morning?” Cooter asked her. He had brought the dove with him and it had found its way onto her shoulder where it settled down. When she didn’t answer, she felt it peck at her hair gently.
She gave alittle bit of a bewildered look and took a deep breath she knew she had to tell. “Cooter… I’ve been setting up the parade for the ophanage … .and I have been working to buy them some warm winter clothing and Christmas presents.”
Cooter took a quick glance at her. “Hilery, if you needed help, you could have asked,” he told her gently, watching her pet the bird. “I’ve been worried about you like crazy. You’ve been working yourself ragged.”
Nodding she looked down at the soft little bird in her hands, he was warm and comfortable there. “I know… I wanted to do it myself. I wanted to make some of those little ones wishes come true. They have so little to go home to … if you can even call it home.” She said sniffling back the cold air in her nose.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I told you, I’m just worried,” he told her, pulling up to the Garage. “Would you like to use a loaner car?” he asked her.
She nodded not raising her eyes to him, her mind searching for the real reason why she was running herself ragged but she could come to no conclusion as she jumped down out of the old whitish tow truck. Hilery placed the bird on her shoulder and gathered her bags of cookies and made her way towards an old blue plymoth, it was the nicer looking of the loaner cars.
“Thanks Coot,” she said quietly and got in. He had made her stop and think, and she was very confused. Nonetheless though she drove to the start of the parade. She had found a few volenteers over the last few days to pull the small “floats” and a few to dress up and sit on top of them. Within fifteen minutes, it was starting, and that was a sigh of relief to her.
Hilery sat on the leading float, a huge red sleigh with fake reindeer leading the way. She had nearly forgotten about the small white dove that perched on her sholder until it moved closer to her neck with the cold. The floats moved down the streets slowly, she waved to the people on the side of the road leaning over the side of the seigh and giving out cookies and candy.
Everyone enjoyed it and it started to flurry again. Hilery sighed and gave the white dove a small pat. The orphans were at the end of the parade, waiting for Hilery to give out their gifts. She smiled as they gathered around happily. Each wanted to pet the dove again and to see what the Davenport had brought them.
Hilery had placed all the gifts into a red sack in the back of the sleigh and dug into it as the children gathered around by the many. She raised to her feet and one by one handed out the gifts hopping that they pleased each and everyone of the unfortunate orphanes.
There sad faces turned to smiles as the sound of tearin’ paper echoed through the now emptying streets. The wind blew in more snow, snow that hadn’t fallen in this amount in Hazzard in 50 years or more.
“Wow, I got a bunny rabbit!” she heard one yell, and then another yelled something about a walkman. Hilery smiled as they found other things she had brought them. It was all well worth it, but she felt tired.
“See how happy they are?” she asked her little friend on her shoulder. He cooed in responce.
The happiness was so clearly written on their faces. Each and every child thanked Hilery as they loaded into the school bus to return to there home … a home that would be a little warmer come Christmas morning, they’d be physically warm by the heating in the old building that hadn’t been there for a long while.
Hilery had been able to donate enough money to buy oil for their furnace and they would wake up warm and happy. The smaller ones cuddled close to stuffed animals and the older ones held tight to their fortunate gifts.
The next few days were a little better, but with nothing to do, she still worked so much. She didn’t know what was driving her to do so, but she kept helping the older folks of Hazzard County whos families hadn’t come to visit them or couldn’t work to do repairs. She also didn’t ask for payment in return, just for them to be happy, to have a Merry Christmas.
The days until Christmas were grewing in fewer numbers and Hilery was finding more and more to do as Christmas drew near. Any payment that she could not turn away went to the orpahans, and towards gifts for under their tree.
She was doing everything from fixing fences to fixing porches and cutting trees down for folks as well as transporting them. She even payed for things for the elderly to make them happy and make their Christmas wishes come true. Everytime someone’s face lit up, she felt a little better inside.
The day before Christmas, Hilery had her cousin drop her off at the Boars Nest. She had volenteered for the party that was to be held there. Rosco too had heard about how hard she was working herself, so he figured he’d talk to her, beings he was also going to be setting up.
“Hello Hilery.” He said removing his hat as he approached her. He had a little bit of a nervous look on his face as if he were looking for the right words.
“Howdy Rosco,” she said, plugging in some lights, and then began to string them up with tape. It would be easier for them to be taken down that way. “Somethin’ on your mind?” she asked, taking a quick glance at him after a few moments went by and he hadn’t answered.
Rosco stepped up and took the lights in his hands. “Here, you take a breck, you’re working too much and everyone is worried about you.” He paused pressing her back towards some chairs. “especially Cooter, jit … jit hes worried to death about you.”
“Rosco I’m fine, I don’t need a break. All that matters to me is everyone else being happy,” she explained to him. “I don’t care about myself right now. I don’t know why, it might just be too much Christmas Spirit. But I’m more worried about eveyrone else having a Merry Christmas. I feel like they’re more important than me,” she said. Her eyes had diverted themselves downward toward the floor while she had spoken.
She continued with hanging the lights, taking them back from Rosco’s hands. He knew suddenly that there was nothing he could do or say that would change her mind about how she felt, only thing he could do was help her. Rosco raised the lights and held the tape as she taped them to the wall.
“I’m sorry,” she told him as they finished up. “I just for some reason want to keep busy this year. I’m gonna go hang up the other stuff,” she said and walked away. She didn’t want to talk anymore on the subject.
He only nodded and began to add some orniments the Christmas tree in the corner of the room. People slowly began to trickle in less than a half hour later and soon the room was packed.
When things were full blast, Hilery slipped outside to be alone with her thoughts. Cooter had brought the little dove with him, and it sat on her shoulder now, cooing to comfort her. The outside of the old road house was adorned by many lights, but it seemed too fancy for Hilery at that moment, and the noise was carrying on from the inside. She decided to take a walk in the cold. It was snowing again. It was turning out to be a very unusual winter for Hazzard; much colder than normal, and much more snowy.
The bird snuggled close to her hair to sheild it from the cold. Hilery walked through the snow that had built up to a few inches deep, her mind walking in a whole other place and time as she racked her brain to figure out why she had done all this in spite of other people.
“Hey, it’s okay little guy,” she said to the dove. “I know you’re cold, so am I.”
Silently in her own mind she made a wish, she was cold and there were no arms to be held in at this moment. The friend that would have held her close at that very moment was gone, gone from her forever and she suddenly felt every alone.
Through the snowy clouds, Hilery seen a clearing in the sky and the North Star twinkled as the bird jumped off her shoulder and flew, even with a bandage on his arm. It shocked Hilery, but that didn’t last long because the awe of the sudden brightness in the sky that filled the small area she stood in, just off to the side of the road. It was coming from the clearing.
She suddenly had to sheild her eyes as a light nearly blinded her close by. “Ah …” She gasped for a moment as the brightness calmed to a visible point.
A pretty face appeared, surrounded by bright and beautiful lacy fabric so white it was blinding. The bird landed on the angel’s lower arm, her long golden hair catching the snowy breeze as she undid the bandage on the bird’s wing tenderaly.
The angel looked from the bird to Hilery after a few seconds, and seemed to smile. Hil didn’t understand. She continued looking at the angel for several moments as the bird cooed gently. She was beautiful, but the young Davenport did not understand why the angel was there.
“Fear not..” Said the angel in a high voice that reached for the heavens as she held the bird towards the sky. The North Star brightened as the bird took flight into the darkness from the angel’s lacy arm.
Only moments after taking the flight the bird turned into beautiful golden snow flakes and began to fall towards the white ground.
“Oh my God …” Hilery said in amazement as the flakes fell. They were beautiful. Still she didn’t understand, but thought better of questioning the angel. She was too awed to even ask what was going on as she watched as the golden specks slowly fluttered downward.
For reasons unknown to herself, Hilery kneeled in the snow before the angel, the heavenly woman stairing down apon her for only moments as the golden snow came closer to the ground. Words came to Hilery’s ears, spoken in a low voice and a voice she had once known all too well. The words of a song by Joe Nichols, the song was ‘The Impossible’…
“Unsinkable ships sink, unbreakable walls break
Sometimes the things you think could never happen
Happen just like that
Unbendable steel bends if the furry of the wind is unstoppable
I’ve learned to never underestimate, the impossible….”
And the voice faded away as the flakes golden touch began to spread and the brightness of the angel began to dim.
Hilery looked at her for a few more seconds, and then glanced at the golden snow. It seemed to have been landing on something, or someone, but she could see nothing more than where the snow was hitting.
She raised her eyes back to the diming angel, the golden haired woman’s soft voice coming to her again, barely audioable.
“But for just one fleeting moment
The answer seemed so clear
Heaven’s not beyond the clouds
It’s just beyond the fear…(Garth Brooks 1997)”
As soon as the Angel’s voice was gone, a figure began to show through the golden snow and the outline, the snow bringing color to it. At first the Stetson was pure white, as well as the figure under it, but slowly, it began to change colors. Hilery’s voice and her breath was caught in her throat as she stared, unable to believe her eyes and what she was seeing.
The figure had his head down so that the wide black Stetson covered half of his face, but Hilery was kneeling low enough that show could see it. Her knees were freezing cold in the snow, but she didn’t notice.
His arms were held out infront of him, his knuckles white, his fingers crossed as if he were in the middle of prayer. The Stetson raised and the wearers eyes opened and landed on her. An eye as brown as pure soil, and an eye as grey as the sky on a snowy night.
“Hilery…” He said as he found his voice catching in his throat.
“Oh my God …” she said, finally finding her own, tears streaking down her face. “Chet Hugh Duke …” she said, shocked, trying to get up, but her knees were numb and her legs were like jello beneith her. “How?”
A side ways grin croosed his face, and his eyes twinkled like the North Star had done only minutes ago and he approached her. Tall and lean like the day he had died, built strong and tough like all the Dukes. Chet kneeled down in front of her on one knee and gathered her in his arms.
“I was the dove … just waiting for you to make your silent wish.” He said close to her, she could feel his warm breath and his hot skin through his color changing shirt.
“Oh my God …” She cried, and burried her face in his shirt, tears staining it. “I’ve missed you so much! I think I know why I was trying to make everyone elses Christmas wonderful, it was because all I wanted was to have you back, you’re my best friend, I never thought my wish would ever come true,” she said, her voice muffled as she spoke. He just hushed her in an understanding way.
“I’ve missed you too Hil, I’ve missed you too.”
He pressed her back gently and raised her chin in his chilled fingers from the friged cold.
“Look at me Hil.” He said as his eyes met hers. “You did all those things to make other people’s wishes come true because you didn’t think you could not have your wish.” He paused his own eyes watering.
“You didn’t once think about yourself, you gave so many people better lives.” Chet fumbled for his words, he hadn’t ever been good at speeking the way he really felt. “And for all that you have done, your wish was granted … your wish was to see me again.”
“How long before …?” she asked afraid to finish the sentence. She feared he’d have to go back to where ever he had been very soon, which had apparently been heaven.
Chet shook his head, the words not coming out but his lips saying them soundlessly. He swallowed and forced himself to say it.
“Until I’m an old man…” He whispered and pulled her close in a big hug. “I’m here to stay…” His tears spilled slowly down his redening cheeks.
It opened a flood gate of tears for Hilery, but unlike the ones from just over a year ago, they were ones of happiness. When her tears were finally spent, she looked up at him, looking him in the eyes. “We best get back to the party, we both have some explaining to do,” she said, a little bit of a chuckle in her voice. “Fair warning though, your family’s there.” She warned him, smiling.
He took her hand in his and squeezed it turning towards the road that she had been walking on. “Good, I been meaning to tell my father something for a long time.” He said grinning as he pulled her closer, the look in her eyes still saying that she could not believe this for one fleeting moment.
“Yeah, let’s go, I’m cold,” she laughed as they walked back to the Boars Nest. When they got there, Hilery told Chet to wait outside for a few minutes until she gave him the signal.
“Alirght, hurry Hilery its cold out here.” He said watching as she went in. “Becarful dropping this kind of news on my mother and father… and my brother.”
“I hear ya,” she told him and walked in. She cleared her throat and practically yelled over the music. “Hey y’all, I got one more suprise for y’all, it’s something that I am still trying to believe. I wouldn’t if I hadn’t been there when it happened,” she said, and waited for a responce.
Bo and Luke got to there feet accompanied by the rest of the Duke family and Cooter. “What’s going on Hilery?” Cooter asked, still very worried about her. Chet stood outside listening through the door wondering how his father was gonna take this and wondering if his mother, Gaby, was gonna faint.
Hilery just smiled, tears still reflecting in her eyes as she stuck her hand out the door and waved a little. That was the signal.
He opened the door wide and stepped in slowly, no one needed heart failure, especialy himself. His boots clicked on the wood floor of the Boars Nest as he came up behind Hilery removing his hat in the process and looking out into the silent room.
“What the ….” Breyer whispered. “Chet?” he asked, unable to believe his eyes. Bo and Luke just looked at each other confused. Chet Duke had died over a year before. Daisy was just as confused, as was Gabby.
But it was Bo who stepped forward first among all the people, approaching his twenty year old son. Bo looked his son up and down, standing directly in front of him where Hilery had been standing, she stepped aside and into Cooters arms.
“How?” Bo asked tears coming to his eyes.
Chet just gave his father a bear hug unable to speek a defination of his presence. Bo hugged him back tears pouring from his eyes as it all became so real.
“I love you Dad …” Chet said in a low voice for his father and some of the room to hear.
“I love you too son, I love you too,” he replied, his voice barely audible. Bo then looked at Hilery. “What happened to your dove?”
“He flew away, probably going home,” she said. It was the truth, in a way. Bo took another look at his son, smiling. It felt great to have his family back together again, and tomorrow nights feast would double as Chet’s welcome home party.
Breyer came up behind his brother a little cautiously. Chet turned to his brother and they staired at each other eye to eye for a moment then embraced in a hug.
It was something that Bo had never thought he would see, but then again, he never thought his son would say he loved him either. Something had changed the boy, but what ever it was, it made him happy as a father.
“Missed ya little brother,” Breyer said. It had always been his joke to call Chet younger, if only by a few minutes. “I’ve been bored without someone to pick on,” he joked.
Jokingly Chet nudged his brother in the ribs grinning. “Ive missed you too.” He replied and pushed through everyone towards the bar, he had some drinks to catch up on.
Cooter decided he’d buy them. He too had missed the Duke, as well as Rosco.
“Just so you know, you got a job waiting for you at the Hazzard Garage.” Cooter said. “How many rounds you want?”
He held up two fingers and the drinks came moments later, Chet handed one to the mechanic and raised the other above the crowd in his own hand.
“To a new beginning … and to the future!” He said in a big voice putting his arm around Hilery’s sholder and winking at her.
Hilery patted Chet’s back in return. “To a new beginning,” they all said in responce.
Hilery looked at her friend after he had downed his beer. “I still have Ghost, he’s under a tarp at the garage, in the back parking lot.” He nodded his thanks. The rest of the night was uneventful and was delightful. Everyone welcomed Chet back and gave him a slap on the back.
Later that night, Rosco came over to give him a pass to get out of one traffic violation. Like that was really gonna last very long.
A few days later, it seemed like Chet had never left, only he seemed nicer. Rosco was back to chasing him, and he and his bro were back to rough housing as well as the fact Chet was getting into trouble again, only to a much milder degree. He also hung out with Hilery again, and surprisingly, his brother too. Looks like things just might be back to what ever normal is in Hazzard, now that Chet Hugh Duke was back in Hazzard.
*Special Note: Chet Hugh Duke died in an accident before this story. We decided he needed to come home, and so he has.*
Finished Monday, December 8, 2003; 6:20 pm Eastern