“Bo, c’mon, let’s go,” I shouted from the front yard. Uncle Jesse had said my cousin was out here doing chores a second ago, but glancing around, I didn’t see a sign of him. The barn door was open, so I walked on over there and poked my head in. “Bo?”
Suddenly a curly blonde head popped up from behind a stack of hay. “Hey, Luke!”
I jumped, and Bo flashed me a grin in response. The expression on his face seemed so innocent that I couldn’t resist reaching forward and ruffling his hair, which he put up with typical stoic grace.
“C’mon, let’s go,” I said, turning to leave. Long legs loped to catch up with me, and we both walked to the car.
“Where we goin’?” he asked curiously, sliding in on the passenger’s side. I jumped over the hood and got in behind the wheel.
“To town. Jesse needs some boards for the fence around the goat pen.”
Normally, I let Bo drive, but the day was so pretty and I was so full of energy that I grabbed the driver’s side without even thinking about it. It was mid-spring, and everywhere the greenery was blooming and the sky was clear as you could ask for—there wasn’t a cloud in the sky far as you could see.
“What?” The sound of sirens hit me then, and I suppressed a groan when the flashing red lights showed up in the mirror. “What’s he want?”
Bo smiled. “You actually wanna find out?”
“Not really.” And this is why I love the General. One light stomp and bang! We were off, flying down those roads like they were water or something. The dust flew up behind us and obscured the cop car followin’ us, but man, the wind blowin’ against your face like that… ain’t nothin’ like it in the world.
I turned the corner sharply, barely seeing the car in time to stop. Poor Enos cowered against the thing like I was gonna hit him and for a second there, I thought that I might. Instinctively, I tossed out my arm across Bo’s chest, slamming down on the brakes and saying a quick prayer. The General stopped just a hair from the other car. I was out of the door before anyone could say anything.
“What the hell were you thinkin’, Enos?” I said, angrily gesturing to the near miss. “You wanna get killed or somethin’?”
“Gosh, Luke, I’m sorry, I just—”
“Don’t you ever do that again, you hear me?” And maybe I was a bit hard on him. He was just doing his job, after all, but a little closer and the only job he’d have to worry about was his eternal one in Heaven. Liked to scare me to death, anyhow, and my heart was still pounding.
“Sheriff says—” Enos began, but I cut him off with a wave of my hand.
“Nope. I don’t want to have to deal with this today. You tell Rosco if he wants us he can come get us at the Boar’s Nest, ’cause I’m going to get a beer and sit down and enjoy this day. Then I’m going to get the boards for Uncle Jesse, and then if Rosco wants to arrest me, he sure can try. Until then, bye.”
“Bye, Enos!” Bo waved from his perch on the side of the car door. He slid himself back in side, dodging the roof as he slipped in. I did likewise.
We were only a few minutes along when Bo chuckled. Well, truth be told, he giggles, but the last time I said that, he wouldn’t talk to me for a couple of days, so he may laugh, chuckle, or occasionally snicker, but never does he giggle. Even though he does.
“What?” I said, glancing over at him before looking back at the road. The General was going a mite slower than I had him at before, more out of care for my nerves than anything else.
“Oh, nothin’,” he answered, staring out the open window with a broad smile on his face.
Now I was a bit curious. “Tell me,” I said.
“Just… when you put on the brakes.”
“Yeah?” I shot him a puzzled frown. So? “What of it?”
“Did you even notice what you did?”
“What did I do?”
Bo’s grin nearly split his face in two. “You did the mom thing.”
Sometimes, I swear, he don’t make any sense. “What are you talking about?”
“The mom thing.” He gestured with his arm, mimicking the move, then shrugged. “Just thought it was pretty funny, s’all.”
“The mom thing.”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
Shaking my head, I picked up the pace a bit. Then slowed down, because I was thinking. It was just pretty much habit to do that, especially to Bo. I think I’ve done it with Daisy once or twice, especially back when she was little and would sit on her knees on the front seat to see over the dashboard or poked her head out the open window. I spent more time watching her then the road.
Been a long time since I did it to Bo, though. Back when he was a kid, he was probably worse than Daisy, constantly trying to be everywhere at once. Once he turned fifteen, I started letting him drive, and by the time he was eighteen, he was driving most of the time anyway. I laughed at the thought. Been a really long time since I did that to Bo.
“What?” He gave me a suspicious look, as if I were keeping something from him.
“Oh, nothing. Nothing at all.”
We pulled into the Boar’s Nest before he could press me for more answers, and we walked in and found Cooter sitting at a table. The place was nearly full—normally it was—and we spotted Daisy running back and forth between customers. Me and Bo waved, and she smiled at us before going back to work.
“Hey, Bo, go get the beers from Jerry.”
Bo glanced at me. “Why?”
“Because Daisy’s already working hard, she don’t need her two cousins giving her orders, too.”
Bo returned with three glasses of watered-down beer, trying to hold them all without spilling it. I jumped up to help, grabbing two of them and giving one to Cooter and one by my seat.
“Thanks, Mom,” Bo said, laughing when I just glared at him. Cooter shot glances between the two of us, arching an eyebrow.
“Care to explain?”
“He does the mom thing.”
“The mom thing,” Cooter repeated. Bo nodded.
“Yeah, you know, when you have to slam on the brakes real fast, and you throw your arm out?”
“Oh!” Cooter said. “That mom thing!” He gave me a smile, and I braced myself for it, sipping my beer and shooting him a warning look over the top of the glass that he cheerfully ignored. “Aww, Luke, you did that to Bo? That’s so sweet!”
“So does that make Bo my kid?” I remarked casually, hiding my amusement behind the glass when my cousin shot me a look. “‘Cause I sure don’t want him.”
Cooter snickered, draining the rest of his beer and standing up.
“Well, y’all, some of us gotta work. See y’all later,” he said, slapping his cap on his head and heading for the door.
“Bye, Cooter,” I said, Bo echoing me. We sat there in silence for a moment, then Bo spoke up, looking at me with his blue eyes sparkling.
“Say, Luke, why do you do that?” he asked. I shrugged in response, putting the glass down.
“Uncle Jesse used to do it to me when I was a kid, and I took y’all out driving so much that it was just instinctive.” I smiled. “I swear, you and Daisy were little hellions.”
“Aww, you ain’t that much older,” Bo protested.
“Eight years between you and me.”
“Only for two months. Then it’s only seven months the rest of the time,” Bo shot back.
“Doesn’t matter.” I stood, depositing a few dollars on the table in payment. “Still enough to know you were little hellions.” I waited for him by the door, and as he walked past, I heard him mutter,
“I bet Uncle Jesse said the same thing about you.”
Shaking my head, I followed him out, clapping him on the shoulder.
“C’mon, kiddo, let’s go get the wood for that fence.”