The post mistress sat on her motorbike outside the post office. She scanned passing vehicles for Jesse’s pick up and the orange Dodge stock car that belonged to his nephews. Her gaze came to rest on a yellow Plymouth. The early 70s roadrunner had eased into the last available parking spot. “You ain’t Jesse,” she shouted to the figures that emerged from the two door sedan and walked gracefully to the sidewalk.
“Hi Miz Tisdale,” Daisy said politely.
“Hey Miz Tisdale,” Daney greeted cheerfully. Her hands came up and grabbed the stings of her cowgirl hat that was slipping off her head.
“Colonial City was late,” Miz Tisdale looked apologetically at the purple shirted, white jeans attired twosome. “I had to leave it for y’all.”
“That’s okay,” both cousins replied.
“Appreciate you bein’ able to do this on short notice,” Miz Tisdale fixed her eye glasses and placed her hands on the handlebars. “Thanks.”
Before Daisy or Daney could answer, the motorbike sped away.
“Think she’ll be back before closing time?” The older one asked.
“Depends on if she runs into Jesse at Doc’s place or not,” Daney grinned mischievously. She followed her cousin inside. Hazel eyes darted to the clock. “The city one should be arrivin’ soon.” She removed her cowgirl hat and sat it on the counter top.
“Uh huh,” Daisy agreed. She stood by the wooden slotted box built into the south wall across from the window that faced the street. Daney leaned over the counter and almost fell onto the bags. “At least we’ll be busy,” She asseted outloud.
Daisy put her hands on an odd shaped box. “Wonder what this is?”
Daney noticed the addressee. “Maybe Miss Hulmes’ll tell us when she picks it up.”
* * *
Jesse carried a load of firewood inside the farmhouse. Not just the usual stuff from the woods on his property but furniture store remnants. The elderly farmer clad in a faded knit thermal shirt and bib overalls continued. He stooped down and placed the kindling in a large metal box under the window. A weathered left hand touched the fireplace’s rough brick.
His right hand rested on the bookshelf and he straightened up. He squinted and peered through the glass at the General Lee turning onto the dirt and rock driveway. He hurried from the living room to the kitchen and out to the porch. The boys were part way out of their vehicle when Jesse got outside. “You boys finished with helpin’ Cooter already?”
Luke nodded. “He’s gonna forget about our last bill to express his gratitude.”
“He don’t have to do that,” Jesse frowned. “What you boys got planned for the rest of the afternoon?”
“Hmm,” Bo paused. He glanced to his cousin and noticed the Plymouth wasn’t parked in the yard.
Jesse smiled. “I told the girls you’d do their chores since they went to help Emma at the post office.”
“I’ll clean the barn if you do the wash.” Luke turned his head to hide a smile.
“Cousin,” Bo began and glanced toward his uncle.
“All they left was cleanin’ out the barn and I’m sure you’ll have it done by the time I get back from Pettichord’s,” Jesse said.
“We’ll start on it right after we get a cold drink and a bite to eat,” Luke replied for himself and his blond cousin.
Bo nodded in agreement to his dark haired cousin’s words. “How come you’re going to Doc’s?” Bo asked.
“Just a check up,” Jesse went to his truck. The engine came to life as the boys ran to the porch.
* * *
“We just leave these by the door?” Daney asked. She held the empty white bags marked U.S. Postal Service.
“Don’t know where else they would go,” Daisy heard the door squeak open and close, then the voice of the second best car salesman in the county. “Mr. Parker.” Her cousin stepped behind the counter.
“Hi girls,” He smiled.
Daney grabbed the envelopes from under the label titled Ace’s Used Car Lot and turned around. “Got your id, sir?”
Ace gave the young woman a disapproving look. “Daney Hannah…”
“If Miz Tisdale was here,” Daisy started to say.
Ace sighed. “She’d make me take a number.” He pulled out the requested proof from his shirt pocket. He took the envelopes held out. “Thank you,” he said.
“Your welcome, have a good afternoon.” Daney waited until Mr. Parker left before her attention turned to her cousin. “Weren’t you gonna go over to Rhuebottom’s?”
“I don’t really need,” Daisy glanced out the large window to the flower shop across the street. “Suppose it wouldn’t hurt to get some fresh air.”
Daney peeked over her shoulder. “Take your time.” After her cousin ventured outside, she got the mail pieces from the family box and rifled through the collection. She put all but one envelope back. She studied the return address for a moment. Faith Allyson- Colter, Savannah GA.
She took a deep breath. The flap loosened from the envelope which fluttered to the floor. Her fingers unfolded the letter…
“Daney?” a female voice called.
She stuffed the paper in her back pocket. “Hey.” She put her hands on the counter. “I mean Hi Miss Mabel, how can I help you?”
“Besides coming to work for me?” Mabel teased. The young woman’s cheeks were a bright pink. “Would you be a dear and see if I have any mail.”
“Sure,” Daney glanced over her shoulder and saw the slot was empty. She heard the older woman’s sigh. “No, ma’am. Expectin’ something?” She watched Mabel nod. “If anything comes in before Daisy and me leave, we could drop it off for you.” She offered.
Mabel smiled. “If we’re not at the house, you’ll have to use the cb to find us.”
“Yes, ma’am. Same handle?” Daney fake coughed.
Mabel reached a hand up and ran a finger across her temple. “Of course.”
“Can you leave a note for Miz Tisdale incase she has any problems?” Daney asked.
“No problem,” Mabel got a business card out of her skirt pocket and scribbled on the back with a pen from the counter. She placed it in Daney’s hand. “Don’t lose that now.”
“I won’t,” Daney smiled and put the card in a jeans pocket. “Have a good afternoon.” Daney glanced past Mabel to the person coming through the door. “Doc Pettichord, how are ya?”
“Just fine. Need to mail these.” He placed several thick manila envelopes on the counter.
Daney grabbed them and took the bundle over to the postal scale. “Bye, Miss Mabel. Take care.” She waved and returned her attention to the machine. The elderly physician muttered something unkind about the departing customer.
“Doc, you know her girls give you alotta business.”
“And the other half comes from Bo and Luke’s affrays,” he snorted.
Daney chuckled. “Overnight or parcel?”
“What’s the difference?”
“About ten bucks and five days, sir.”
His lips pursed for a moment. “Five days?”
“At least two or three,” Daney paused. “And that’s if they don’t lose ‘em.”
“Overnight’ll be fine,” he decided outloud.
Daney wordlessly punched a few keys and then the postage labels spit out of the machine. She placed them on the envelopes. She kept them on the scale while she marked each item with a ‘Hazzard, GA. 00965’ stamp. “You want to pay now or let Miz Tisdale send ya a bill?”
Doctor Pettichord got his wallet from his vest pocket. “How much?”
“Twenty five,” Daney answered. She took the two bills that were held out. She moved over to the register and placed them inside. She got a receipt and laid it on the counter. “Have a good day and take care, Doc.” She replied sweetly and turned to the postage scale where the envelopes laid. She winced hearing the door slam closed and then bang open.
“Forget somethin’, sir?” She inquired without a glance in the direction of the footsteps.
“Not that I know of,” a cheery voice responded.
Hazel eyes glanced sheepishly at the approaching figure.
Daney remembered a piece of mail in the slot labeled Sheriff’s Department and a few in the Coltrane box. She reached over and got them, then turned back to the counter. “Bet I know who that is from,” Daney commented in reference to the top envelope with a smile.
“Maybe ya never know,” Rosco grinned. “You want me to take a number or see my id?”
Daney shook her head. “No, sir. Just don’t tell Miz Tisdale.”
“Course not,” He caught a glimpse of the time on the young woman’s watch. “Jit, lunch break is almost over.”
“Take care, Rosco.”
“10 4,” Daney got the paper from her pocket and began to read after Rosco made his exit. Faith was a cousin to her and Daisy but not Bo and Luke. They were related through Daisy’s birth mother.
How are you? I’d appreciate any assistance you or Daisy could give me about the antique doll.
Daney folded the paper and got the envelope. She put both pieces back with the rest of the family mail. She glanced at the counter; a smile came to her lips at the sight of the odd shaped box again. Miss Hulmes worked for a trucking company and dealt with antiques. Isabella had originally come from Charleston, South Carolina.
Daney frowned. The young dance student only vaguely recalled the porcelain lady’s appearance. An outfit of faded mint green calico, its edges trimmed with silk. A lace bonnet, shawl, and parasol were accessories that may or may not have been part of the doll’s original attire.
Daney snapped her fingers, there had been a little paper tucked in the bonnet that said Julep. She could only guess that was the doll’s name because it hadn’t said Co. or anything after it that would’ve indicted the maker. Now if you took that with outfit color… it was a summer drink called Mint Julep. Did that mean the other doll would have a name like that too?
Daney thought to herself. There really wasn’t anything she could do but wait for Miss Hulmes.
* * *
Half the state away in Savannah, a light haired woman sat on a piano bench in front of French style patio doors. The bench’s shiny hue matched the 1870 rosewood colored antique Broadwood upright piano that had been placed in the furthest corner of the room. Her left hand held a phone receiver to her ear. “Well,” She spoke with a thick southern city accent. “It’s possible an existing doll isn’t out there after all these years.”
A smile crossed her lips. “I’ll talk to you later this evening, take care.” She hung the receiver up, and then used both hands to fix her sheet music on the matching music stand to the right of the bench. The young music teacher glanced over her shoulder at the sheet music cabinet in the opposite room corner. The doll sat on top.
A clear protective cover around the hundred year contents. The original presentation box had been moldy and dusty. The package’s markings were too faded.
She was pretty sure it was a fashion doll because of the vintage, regionalist clothing. Her friend thought it was a character or portrait since an embossed mark or provenance hadn’t been found. The doll hadn’t been incised in the head or shoulder plate. Nor did it have the crazing that most composition dolls had of criss cross cracks. And it wasn’t the pure white wash color of unglazed bisque Parian.
The genre of the doll was based on head material not what the body was made of. “Mint” had paperweight eyes, watermelon mouth and feathered eyebrows. The type was frozen charlotte, all the parts had been molded in one piece and not separate components put together. An odd expression came across her face as she realized who the doll reminded her of.
* * *
“Hey Luke, you ever figured how come Jesse keeps all this stuff out here instead of the attic,” Bo asked and took a deep breath. “I don’t know,” Luke’s eyelids fluttered closed. The hayloft much like the farmhouse held a lot of history. For not having a lot, items had accumulated.
“Think Jesse would mind if we took a peek.” Bo thought outloud. His hands wiped a layer of thin dust from a white oblong box that had been sat on a big brown crate moments earlier. Luke’s eyes opened. He glanced at his cousin. “Probably not,” the wooden floor creaked with each step over to the boxes. He picked up the white box. “Ever wonder what’s in here?”
Bo shook his head. “Not really.” He watched Luke carefully take the box lid off. “Wow,” He exclaimed. Luke stared at the item. “I don’t think this is Jesse’s…” He paused and walked over to the window. “Hold the box,” He requested after Bo joined him. The dark haired Duke hesitantly took a hold of the item surrounded by tissue.
“Ok,” Bo put his hands under the box and whistled. “Sure is pretty,” He commented. “Yeah,” Luke agreed with his blonde haired cousin. The material was a black silk with a tiger lily flower print pattern. Neither of them remembered seeing it before.
“Kinda looks like Daisy,” Bo commented.
“Sorta,” Luke replied and placed the doll back in the box that was still in Bo’s hands.
“Maybe we should take this in the house…”
“I really don’t think anyone’ll mind.” Bo looked from the antique doll to the farmhouse below. He noticed his cousin’s changing facial expression. He heard the tissue russle and smiled as Luke pulled a small paper taped to the box’s lid.
Tiger Lily 1890
“We could check this out with Miss Hulmes before we let anyone know we found it.” Luke said and put the paper back.
“That’s a good idea.” Bo helped Luke put the packaging back the way it had been. Then he shut the loft window and followed his cousin to the ladder after a glance to make sure the loft was tidy. “Think she’ll mind us stoppin’ by?”
“Why would she?” Luke chuckled.
“Maybe because the last time we dropped in on her unexpectedly…”
“That was at her house not work.”
“We’re going to the trucking firm?” Bo groaned.
* * *
Daisy smiled as the post office door closed behind a pretty young woman in a business suit. “Miss Hulmes, how are you?”
“Please call me Isabella,” She requested. “I’m fine- how are you?”
“Good,” Daisy replied. She stooped down and got the box. She placed it on the counter. “This was all there was for you.”
“Oh,” Miss Hulmes ran a finger over the address label. “Would you mind if I opened it here?”
“No- you want a letter opener for the tape?”
“Don’t need one, thanks anyway.” Isabella smiled and carefully silt the clear packaging tape with a fingernail tip. Daisy held the box flaps and watched Isabella take another long white box out and open it. She whistled as the contents were displayed. It was an antique doll. “She’s beautiful.”
“Yes, if she has her original attire,” Isabella paused. “She’s mint condition.”
“How can you tell if this is the outfit?” Daisy wondered out loud. Her left hand ran over the white lace dress.
Miss Hulmes pulled a brochure from along side the box. She knew it was there from when she been at the auction a few weeks ago. It was actually a reproduction of the original document which was yellow and brittle. She opened it up and laid it on the counter next to the box. “See here…” She tapped the paper.
“Oh,” Daisy exclaimed. The outfit from the brochure was lace too but a different pattern and appeared to be of a much stiffer texture than the one that was on the doll. The color was white not ivory. She looked closer at the pamphlet. “We have a doll like this at the farm,” She paused and smiled at Isabella. She pointed to another picture. “It looks like that one.”
“Would you mind if I came out and checked it over?” Isabella asked.
“Not at all,” Daisy said. “If I can get a hold of Daney, she can pick it up on her way back from Mabel’s.”
Isabella’s eyebrows rose but she didn’t speak. Daisy chuckled. “It’s not what you might be thinkin’. Mabel stopped in to get her mail and it wasn’t here yet. Daney offered to bring it out for her if it arrived before we left. She forgot we had rehearsal…”
“Ah,” Isabella smiled.
* * *
Daney peeked into the front window of the white double wide at the back of the trailer park not far from the Interchange. It was the one near the resident club house and office. It had a wooden flower bed for a border instead of bushes and other shrubby. “Must be out with clients,” she mused to herself and walked back to the Plymouth that had been left on the curve of the cul de sac. She doubted Miss Mabel would mind if she snuck inside, so long as she left a note.
She placed the package on the worn, cracked pavement. Then reached inside the open window for her backpack that laid on the passenger floorboard. She put it on the seat, opened it and rummaged through the contents. The quietness of the street was disrupted by a vehicle pulling into Mabel’ driveway, the sports car came to a stop under the shade of the car port’s black vinyl canopy.
She closed up her backpack and turned. She stooped down and grabbed the package. Hazel eyes watched two figures hurry toward the home. Daney didn’t recognize the business suited man but the woman was a sister of Daisy’s friend. What if, she gave the package to Ivy but the man took it, would Miss Mabel be mad at her? She shook her head.
She waited until they were inside before she went up to the front door and hesitantly knocked.
“Is Miss Mabel here?” She asked with a smile.
“Not at the moment,” Ivy saw the package in her friend’s hands. “Come in. You can leave that it on the table.”
“Ok,” Daney stepped inside. The door slammed as she saw the man standing by a chair.
“I’ll take that,” he said coyly and motioned for the brunette to bring him the package.
Daney tilted her head and looked at Ivy uncertainly.
* * *
Rosco shook his head and replaced the pearl handled pistol in the holster area of his policeman belt. “Mabel, take a breath and repeat that, please.” He had received an anonymous report via the cb radio about a disturbance. The motel desk clerk had given him a room key in order to investigate.
He took his hands off the back of the chair and began to untie the knots in the rope around her wrists and ankles. He sympathetically glanced at her girls.
“I ordered something and apparently there was an error in processing. A man and his associates showed up acting like clients and brought us here. The blond leader took Ivy back to the trailer because Daney was to drop off the parcel.”
The rope dropped to the floor. “Seems extreme for a package.”
Mabel nodded in agreement. “I know and if they messed up mine, who’s to say the package I receive is even that gentleman’s?” She heard the Sheriff sigh and turned her head in time to see his broad shoulders shrug.
“Guess no one’ll know until that package is delivered- How’d he know it was mixed up with yours?”
“He never said,” Mabel replied and glanced over at her girls.
Rosco came around and stared at her for a moment. “You gonna press charges?”
Mabel shook her head and rose from the metal folding chair. “No harm has really been done.”
The Sheriff understood. Mabel had to keep things quiet because of Boss. Too much focus on her business or personal venues by the wrong people and there would be trouble for not just her and her girls, but any one that associated with or could be connected to any of them. “You think this fella will go away once he gets what he wants?”
“Can’t see any reason he wouldn’t.” Mabel answered. She walked over to her girls and loosened the rope that held the three young women together. Rosco helped her after laying his pen and ticket book on a nightstand. “Know his name or vehicle just in case…” His words faded off as he stepped back and reclaimed the items that were normally in his shirt pocket.
“He was a little taller than you, Sheriff. Shoulder length sandy blond hair and matching bushy moustache. Didn’t look like he worked out but he wasn’t scrawny either. His eyes were blue green I think.” One girl said.
Another girl continued after a glance from Mabel. “He drove a red Ferrari and the other fellas were in beige colored van.”
“Anything else?” Rosco put his pen and ticket book back in his pocket.
“Not really,” the third girl looked shyly at the uniformed man. “He mentioned something about being an executive for the auction place that Mabel and Miss Hulmes were at a few weeks ago.”
Rosco turned his attention to Mabel. “The Fallon Road property?”
“If that’s the one Jason Higgins foreclosed on a few weeks ago, that’s correct.” Mabel said quietly. She watched the Sheriff check his notes for something before looking at her again. “Sawyer Colter?” Rosco asked.
“Yeah,” the girls echoed each other.
Rosco ran a hand through his hair. “What do you reckon he’ll do if comes back and finds y’all gone?”
“Oh,” Mabel pursed her lips. The Sheriff questioned something she didn’t have an answer for. “I could always move the trailer somewhere else, Fact is Rosco, I been thinkin’ about changing my business around…” She paused and looked at him.
Rosco kept a straight faced expression, even tho’ he was surprised Mabel was confiding him like she was about too. “Really?”
“Instead of being based outta permanent residence, bein’ mobile with an RV.”
“Boss would probably go for that so long as you keep the proper legal stuff up to date.” Rosco offered an opinion.
“I figured as much- Oh Rosco, could you drive us back out to my place?”
“Well, I’m in the middle of patrol. How about Miss Tisdale’s cab?”
“It’s not available at the moment. The Duke girls were covering for Emma.” Mabel sniffed. “That yellow Plymouth wasn’t outside the post office when we went by.”
“Let’s call first…” Rosco picked up the phone and asked to be connected. The operator wondered if he wanted to hang up and try again when there was no answer.
* * *
“Hey fellas,” Daisy greeted Bo and Luke as they came into the post office and up to the counter. “Where did you get that?” She gestured to a box that was laid on the counter.
“We were just on our way to see you,” Luke ignored his cousin and commented to Miss Hulmes.
“Really?” Isabella asked with an amused expression.
“Uh huh,” Bo paused. “Where’s Daney?”
“She’s out doing the parcel deliveries,” Daisy took the box. “Why do you have this?”
Luke shrugged. “Found it in the hayloft and curiosity got the best of us.”
“I called Daney over the cb to get this on her way back to town because Isabella wanted to see it.” Daisy opened the box and looked at Isabella. “Is it the same?”
Miss Hulmes grabbed the pamphlet and held it along side the box. “I’m not sure.” She paused. “How long have you had this doll?” She asked Daisy and ignored the boys.
“Last summer at our cousin’s place,” Daisy took the doll out of the box. “It was found when they were renovating the attic.”
“Was there any others?” Isabella asked.
Daisy nodded. “Faith has one similar but I didn’t see it on the pamphlet. She looked at the boys. “Why don’t you fellas run home and give her a call.”
Luke smiled. “We could dash to the phone company and have it charged.”
“Good idea,” Bo agreed and followed his cousin to the door. “Bye, Daisy. Nice seeing you again, Miss Hulmes.”
Daisy and Isabella watched them through the window, then began to discuss the dolls again. The door opening interrupted them. “Daney,” Isabella paused in mid greeting as a gun was pointed at herself and Daisy. She gulped. “Maybe, I should’ve gone with the boys,” She thought and glanced to Daisy whose facial expression didn’t register in her own panic.
Daisy looked at her younger cousin, Ivy and the well dressed man holding the weapon. She took a deep breath and said nothing. Hazel eyes watched the man’s face turn into a mask of rage and disappointment after he stepped to the counter. “Lock that door,” he snarled.
Ivy was closest and obliged the request.
* * *
Rosco had just finished hanging up his uniform jacket on the coat rack in his office when Bo and Luke came barging in.
“What do you boys want?” He asked.
“We tried to get into the post office but it was closed.” Bo said.
“Maybe your cousins locked up and went over to the café for a break?”
Luke shook his head. “We checked to see if that was the case.”
“Tried the roof top too,” Bo added.
“Did it look like anything was outta place?”
“Nope,” both boys said. They glanced at each other as shoes squeaked across the linoleum floor.
“Any other day and I’d think y’all were mother hening again,” Rosco paused as Miss Tizdale and Jesse appeared in the archway. “But considerin’ I’ve already had an investigation for a parcel delivery, I’ll listen.” He smiled at the pint sized post mistress and the boys’ uncle. “What can I help the two of you with?”
“Rosco, I tried to return to duties but was unable too,” Miss Tizdale then described an item on the counter.
“I don’t think it was that Emma,” Jesse voiced his opinion. He had given Miss Tizdale a ride from Doc Pettichord’s place. She said her bike had broken down. They had dropped it off at the garage, then went to the post office. Now a few minutes later, they were at the Sheriff’s Department.
“Why can’t we just rush in there?” Bo asked.
“What good is it gonna do if everyone is trapped,” Luke retorted.
The sheriff held his hands up as they began to argue. “Hush, we’re gonna need some more details before there is any action taken.” He looked at the boys. He brought one hand down to the phone receiver, the other to his black hat. He brought the receiver to his ear. “Miss Tillingham, could you ring Mabel for me?” A weary smile crossed his lips. “I meant the other one.”
“What are you callin’ her for?” Boss wanted to know as he came in the room. Jesse fidgeted with the cap he had removed from his head. He whispered to J.D. what they thought had happened.
“I’m sorry but I need to know what that package of yours contained,” Rosco pressed the speaker phone button.
“I really would prefer not to.”
“Mabel, fair warning…” Rosco said gently as he could.
“Just some doll accessories for one of the girls.”
“Anyone else buy something similar or from the same lot?”
“Oh…” Rosco paused. “Thank you, now stay put until you get further instructions from me or Boss Hogg.”
* * *
Sawyer glanced over his hostages. They were being kept in the post office’s storage room. The ‘area’ had no windows and the light nothing but a single bulb on a string deal. The red haired girl he could’ve left at Mabel’s. She had been more hinderess than help. The curly haired woman had been his target, the other two chicks just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Don’t look so sad. Soon as,” He ran a sweaty palm over Isabella’s head. Fingers tangled in the thick locks. “She tells me where the rest of the Kaleidoscope collection is, y’all will be free to go.”
Daisy kept calm composure and her attention on the man’s gun in his other hand. “We’re been in tougher spots than this.”
“Name one,” Daney said in disbelief.
Daisy feigned pouted. “Oh, how about when we were at Faith’s?”
“Seems me and you have a different view of what happened,” Daney challenged her cousin. Hazel eyes glanced at the tall blond haired man. Isabella and Ivy looked amused as the cousins banter continued for several moments.
“Enough,” Sawyer stepped behind Daisy. His six foot frame towered over her. “You know where there is another doll?”
“Sure do,” She smiled mischievously. “Our cousin’s house and if we leave right now,” Daisy reached her hand up and touched along his jaw. “We can be there before dawn.” She paused. “What kind of vehicle you got?”
“Sports car,” He answered.
“Then we’ll take our vehicle, we’ll all be able to go then.” Daney offered. She wasn’t too comfortable with Daisy going off with the man or the fact he had a gun.
“If it’s gonna be a long ride, my car will be better,” Isabella winked at Sawyer. He was cute and except for the fact that he was holding her hostage, she liked him.
Sawyer pursued his lips. He wasn’t willing to take all of them.
“So mister, how come you want the dolls?” Daisy asked.
He shrugged. “There was one in my family a long time ago.”
“We haven’t had ours that long,” Daney commented. “You ain’t really a bad guy.” She surmised.
“Excuse me?” Sawyer looked curiously at her.
Daney smiled. “You just want something that was taken from you is all.”
“You’re not sacred of me?” He wondered out loud and lowered his .22 Smith and Wesson after Daney nodded.
“Fact,” Daisy gasped as Isabella used that moment to send her cousin’s cowgirl hat toward Sawyer.
* * *
Rosco underlined a word on the chalkboard. He laid the white stick from his hand on the ledge, and clapped both hands of the dust. “Mabel and Miss Hulmes received packages from the auction.”
“You Dukes had not one but two from the same collection…” Boss looked at Jesse. He in turn raised his eyebrows in puzzlement. “What are you talkin’ about?”
“Daisy and Daney had one in the hayloft,” Bo started. “Faith has the other one,” Luke paused. “Dammit, if only we hadn’t left the post office…or brought the doll there.” The blond Duke echoed his dark haired cousin’s words.
Rosco shook his head. “You’d probably be hostages too.” He pointed to a sentence on the green board…
The criminal could’ve only held one girl for his demands instead of four.
“Rosco, you sure this all ties into my auction?” Boss asked.
Rosco nodded. “From the description that Mabel and her girls gave,” the sheriff put his hands on the table. “Auction report, who else could it be?” He looked at Boss, the boys and then Jesse.
“Any idea why we haven’t heard from this fella?”
“He’s probably waiting for someone.”
“You mean we may not hear from him at all?” The Duke boys asked.
“It’s a possibility that has merit.”
“I think we should just storm…”
“Where? Don’t know if they are still even at the post office.”
“Seems to me, they are victims of habit,” Boss mused.
“If you mean this Sawyer fella took the usual route in preying on innocent folks, you’re right.” Jesse agreed.
“Considering he’s probably got a weapon and ladies usually don’t,” Jesse reminded.
Rosco sighed. “Once you break the small rules, it’s only a matter of time for the big ones.”
Bo wasn’t sure what the sheriff’s statement had to do with his cousins being in trouble, but it sounded logical. He looked out the window to see the rain had stopped and the sun had set.
“Possum on a gum bush,” Cooter whistled like he was out hunting. He watched the others react with gasps and wide eyed expressions to Ivy walking in.
“Before y’all start,” She stepped close to Rosco and Jesse. “Daisy, Isabella, and Daney are on their way to Savannah.” She placed a paper in Rosco’s hand. He opened it and read it out loud…
Dear family, friends and all other concerned/interested parties,
We will be gone a few days in order to clear up this caper. Sawyer has been searching in order to donate the dolls for a museum display. And we’d like to help him fulfill that goal. We are not in danger not will be seeking charges to be filed upon on return. Thank you,
Daisy, Isabella and Daney
Rosco looked at Jesse. “You believe this?”
Ivy patted the elderly gentleman’s shoulder when he didn’t respond. “They’ll be ok.”
“Yeah,” Jesse agreed and glanced at Rosco. A wry smile coming to his lips answered the Sheriff’s question.
A sunrise phone call confirmed that speculation.
* * *
A few weeks later with a special invite from the Savannah museum curator, several folks from Hazzard were treated to a theatre show that told the collection history. Sawyer’s distant relative handcrafted for his wife, a female detective. Mint Julep represented her teen days. Tiger Lily was the grown up version. And the other was how she looked on an assignment, the day they met. He had named the collection Kaleidoscope for the many patterns he had gone through to make the dolls.