The Man He Used to Be, ch. 3

by: Marty Chrisman

Bo tapped the General’s accelerator, revving the engine, as he waited for the race to start. He never got nervous before a race but he did get impatient. Luke adjusted the strap on his orange crash helmet and glanced at his cousin with a grin. Bo was always full of nervous energy but before a race, that energy kicked into a high gear. And it was that same energy that brought out Bo’s razor sharp skills behind the wheel during a race.

The starting flag waved and the race was on. The General’s powerful engine roared as Bo took off, the rear tires smoking. It was only a matter of minutes before Bo had pulled to the front of the pack. Bo kept the lead, the General easily outrunning the other cars in the race. Which anyone who had ever seen the Duke Boys race knew to expect if they were entered.

Twenty laps into the race, with just five more laps to go, a yellow car suddenly appeared from out of the pack and pulled in beside the General on the left.

“Where the heck did they come from?” Luke said in a startled voice

“Who the heck are they?” Bo asked, equally surprised to find a little competition after all.

“I don’t know, Bo.” Luke said “But if you wanna win this race, you better pay attention to your driving and not the competition.”

For the next three laps, Bo did everything he could to stay ahead of the yellow car. But no matter how many tricks he tried, the yellow car stayed with him. “Come on, Bo!” Luke told him “You gotta get ahead of ‘em!”

Bo’s jaw tightened with determination as he gave the General all he had. Slowly, the General inched back into the lead. He blew the horn triumphantly, the musical sounds of Dixie floating in the air, as the General crossed the finish line first. The yellow car came in second. It had been close, the closest the Dukes had come to losing a race. The General had only been beat once and that had been years ago by a driver with a turbo charged engine.

“YEE HAW!!!!” Bo yelled excitedly, as he pulled the General into the winner’s circle. The boys climbed out of the car and sat on the roof, grinning happily and waving to the crowd that was applauding enthusiastically.

From the corner of his eye, Luke saw the yellow car stop a short distance away. The driver climbed out of their window and reached up to take off their helmet. Luke turned around to stare as sun streaked dark blonde hair spilled out and fell halfway down the other driver’s back. Slowly a huge grin spread across his face as he recognized the other driver (even though it had been six years since the last time he had seen her)

Leaving Bo to accept the prize money and the trophy, Luke slid down off the General’s roof and walked over to the yellow car. The woman driver saw him coming and smiled as she crossed her arms and leaned back against her car.

“Luke Duke,” she said as he joined her “Up and walking around. That’s better than you were doing the last time I saw ya.”

“Yeah, I guess it is.” Luke said with a happy grin “I have you and your brother to thank for even being here. You ran a good race. You had me and Bo running scared for a minute.”

“I still came in second, didn’t I?” She said with a soft laugh.

“We can’t all win, Darling.” Bo said, joining his cousin in time to hear her comment.  “But I didn’t expect to almost get beat by a girl.” When the girl and Luke both started laughing, Bo looked at them with a puzzled frown “Am I missing something here?” he asked

Sorry, Bo.” Luke apologized. He dropped a friendly arm around the girl’s shoulders  “This is Shelby Lynn”

“Hot dang!” Bo said, instantly recognizing the name. “I don’t remember you being so pretty.”

“Well, you had other things on your mind that day.” Shelby told him. Six years ago, Luke had gone on a camping trip up in the mountains. He had accidentally stepped in a bear trap and would have died if Shelby’s brother, Cory, hadn’t found him and saved his life by taking him back to their cabin. Shelby had cared for him until Cory had returned with help. After his injuries healed, Luke had tried to find the brother and his sister to thank them personally for what they had done but he hadn’t been able to find the Lynn cabin. Now, it looked like he was finally going to get his chance to say thank you.

“Hey, you have to come to supper tonight.” Luke said “I know Uncle Jesse and Daisy would love to meet ya.”

“I don’t know…..” Shelby said hesitantly

“Come on,” Luke encouraged her “Uncle Jesse would tan my hide if he finds out I ran into you again and didn’t insist that you come to supper.”

“Well, we can’t have that.” Shelby said with a grin “Okay, I’ll be there. When and where?”

Luke told her to be at the farm at 6 and gave her directions on how to get there. As she climbed back into her car and pulled away, Bo looked at his cousin and said in a teasing voice “You never told me she was so dang pretty, Lukas.”

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t notice it myself till just now.” Luke said with a grin

Because of the accident, he had been in so much pain that he hadn’t really been able to notice a lot of things too clearly. Among other things, his ankle had been badly broken and to this day, it still ached when the weather got cold because of the pins that had been inserted so it would heal properly.

After finishing up things at the fairgrounds, the boys drove home and told Jesse and Daisy about winning the race and the prize money. Then Luke told them about running into Shelby Lynn and inviting her to supper. Both Daisy and Jesse got tickled when the boys told them about Shelby almost beating them in the race.

“Old Red taught all his young’uns to drive just like I taught you boys.” Jesse said with a laugh “So I guess she comes by it natural just like you two did.”

Daisy made a special supper in honor of their guest. She made a honey ham, candied sweet potatoes, homemade biscuits, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Shelby arrived promptly at six. After the introductions were made, Jesse smiled and said,

“It’s real nice to meet you, Shelby. You sure are a pretty little thing.”

“It looks like sweet talk runs in the Duke men.” Shelby said in a teasing voice.

“She’s got you all figured out and that’s for sure.” Daisy said with a laugh “Sugar, you ain’t heard nothing yet.”

*   *   *   *

            High on a hill overlooking the Duke farm, Pete and his friend were sitting in his car. They had seen Shelby arrive and go into the house. Neither of them recognized her.

            “Looks like one of the boys has a new girlfriend.” Pete said dryly. He’d always been a little jealous of the Duke boys and their popularity with the girls in Hazzard County.

            “As long as it’s not Luke” his companion said ominously. “Cause if it is, that’s one relationship that sure ain’t gonna last very long.”

 

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