by: Marty Chrisman
Luke pulled up in front of the Hazzard Café just after eleven A.M. the next day. He knew that he was early but he wanted a little while alone before Kelly arrived. He had spent a restless night, filled with anxiety about this meeting. He could hardly believe that Kelly was back and that she was alive. After the bodies of her parents had been found in the old shack where they had lived, he had been so scared that Kelly was dead too. Her father had threatened to kill her before, maybe this time he had carried through on those threats and buried her body somewhere in the woods that surrounded the old shack. As the days, then the weeks, then the months passed with no word from Kelly he had convinced himself that she was dead and he would never see her again. Her arrival at the farm the night before had been like seeing a ghost.
Luke walked into the café, relieved to see that there were only a couple of other customers in the restaurant. He walked to the back of the room and slid into an empty booth, letting this thoughts drift back to the past. He was the one who had known just how violent and cruel her father really was and how badly he had beaten Kelly and her mother.
He was the one she had shared her darkest secrets with, including the secret that her father had been molesting her for years, even before they came to Hazzard. He had never gone all the way with her, but Kelly was scared that he would try eventually. Luke was also the one she had made love to for the first time when she was fifteen and he was seventeen. He had loved her, with all the passion and the commitment of a young man’s first real love.
They had hidden their relationship from everyone, sneaking away whenever they could to spend time alone. It wasn’t because they were worried about Jessie’s reaction to their relationship (Luke kind of suspected that Jessie had it figured out anyway) It was Kelly’s father that they were hiding their relationship from. He was violent and dangerous and as far as he was concerned, Kelly was his property. They had planned to get married as soon as she turned 18. Luke’s eyes darkened with pain as he remembered the last night he had seen her. The night she had disappeared.
* * * *
Kelly was cradled in his arms, crying after another beating by her father. They were in the hayloft in the barn, hidden away behind a large pile of bales of hay. “I hate him! I hate him!” Kelly had cried, clinging to Luke “I wish he was dead!”
“Shhh” Luke said in a soft, soothing voice, trying to calm her down. “I won’t let him hurt you again. I promise. We’ll talk to Jessie, tell him the truth. He’ll find a way to help, I know he will.”
“He’s really crazy this time, Luke.” She cried desperately “He said he’d kill you if he finds out I saw you again or anybody in your family.”
“Then we’ll run away.” Luke said in a fiercely determined voice “We’ll go someplace safe where he won’t find you and can’t hurt you. And in a couple of months, we’ll let Jessie know where we are.”
Kelly choked back a sob and pulled herself out of the comfort of his embrace, shaking her head. “I can’t let you do that, Luke. He’d find us, no matter where we went. He wouldn’t stop looking until he does.” She shoved herself to her feet, her jaw set in that determined, stubborn way that Luke had come to know so well over the years. “This is my problem. I’ll handle it my way.” Before Luke could reach out to stop her, she turned and ran from him, climbing down the ladder to the ground below. Luke followed her but by the time he reached the bottom of the ladder, she was already outside and running over the ridge that separated the Duke farm from her shack.
* * * *
Stella Mae, the café’s only waitress, walked over to his booth, pulling Luke’s thoughts away from the dark memories of that night. She smiled brightly, like most of the young women in Hazzard (and some of the older ones too) she had a crush on the Duke boys. Luke ordered a cup of coffee and told her that he was waiting on someone else to join him. As she walked away, Luke found himself wondering if Kelly would show up or not. It was almost noon now and there was still no sign of her. Then through the plate glass window, he saw her car pull up and park behind the General Lee.
Heads turned as she walked through the door. Kelly didn’t notice, she was used to being stared at. Luke smiled to himself. God, she was so beautiful it almost hurt to look at her. He could almost hear the whispers of the other customers in the café as they tried to figure out who the woman was that was meeting Luke Duke. Today she was dressed a white cotton sundress that showed off every inch of her fabulous body. (A body that Luke had known quite intimately at one time)
“Glad you could make it.” Luke said, as Kelly slid into the booth across from him.
“Didn’t you think I would?” she asked with a sweet smile.
“I wasn’t sure.” Luke admitted with a grin “Would you like something to eat?”
“Of course, you said you were buying me lunch” she told him with a laugh. It felt good to hear her laugh again. Luke had missed that.
He signaled Stella to let her know that they were ready to order. She came over to their table, eyeing Kelly with open envy and more than a little jealously. They both ordered coffee, cheeseburgers and fries.
“I need to know what happened that night, Kelly” Luke said as Stella walked back behind the counter to turn in their orders. Luke always had been one to get right to the point. He needed to know and Kelly was the only one who could tell him what had really happened after she left him that night.
Kelly took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, her eyes darkening with pain as she let her thoughts carry her back to that terrible night so many years ago. The moment of truth, it was too late to turn back now. In a low, barely audible voice, she began to tell Luke about that night.
* * * *
It had been after midnight when she got home and her father was in a full blown drunken rage. Kelly could hear him screaming at her mother as she slipped in the front door. He had turned when he heard the door and looked at her with that murderous rage in his eyes that Kelly knew so well. “So” he sneered in a nasty voice “The whoring little slut finally decided to come home.”
Kelly backed up as he stepped towards her, reaching behind her, feeling for the door. She could feel the danger in the air, so thick she could almost taste it. Before she could run, he grabbed her by the arm and slapped her across the mouth, once, twice, three times. Kelly could taste the blood in her mouth as her bottom lip split open from his blows. “I told you to stay away from those no good Dukes, didn’t I?” he demanded as he hit her again, this time with his fist.
“Leave me alone!” Kelly screamed, trying desperately to push him away “I hate you! I hate you!”
“I hate you too, you little bitch” he yelled, as he shoved her back against the wall. Kelly felt her head hit the wall behind her, hard enough to make eyes burn with tears. She could feel her fathers hot breath against her cheek and smell the alcohol on his breath. He leaned against her, pinning her against the wall. “You letting him do ya, girl?” her father snarled, “You letting that no good Duke boy lay with ya?” To emphasize his words, her father began rubbing his body up against hers, making Kelly sick to her stomach.
“Let me go, you bastard!” Kelly screamed, spitting in her father’s face and sinking her teeth into his arm. As he yelled with pain and rage, he stepped back long enough for Kelly to struggle free. She started to run towards her room, thinking that she could climb out the window, but her father spun around and grabbed her arm again, throwing her to the floor.
“I’m gonna teach you a lesson that you ain’t about to forget, girl!” he screamed at her, as straddled her waist, pinning her down. Kelly raised her arms to protect her face as he began beating her again with his fists. It seemed to go on forever, as he punched her, concentrating the worst of his punches on her stomach and chest. He didn’t stop until she passed out.
Kelly had no idea how long she was out. She slowly clawed her way out of the darkness to the sound of her father’s voice still screaming and ranting in a full blown rage. Kelly doubled over in pain, clutching her stomach. She could barely breathe and she knew from the stabbing pain in her chest that she probably had some broken ribs. As she forced herself to her feet, she saw the blood on the floor and on her clothes. She knew he had almost killed her this time and if she didn’t get out of here, he just might finish the job.
Through the fog of pain that clouded her mind, she heard her father’s words. “I’ll kill the little bastard, then she won’t be able to go running back to him no more.” Kelly saw her father heading towards her with his twelve gauge shotgun in his hand.
“No!!” she screamed, lunging at him and grabbing for the gun. She knew he was drunk enough and crazy enough to try and hurt Luke. He swung back his arm and hit her across the face with the barrel of the gun, knocking her to the floor. Kelly felt the blood running down her face as she relentlessly, shoved herself to her feet in spite of her pain. She lunged at her father again, determined to keep him from going out the door with the gun. As she grabbed for the gun again, it went off, the sound of the shot echoing loudly in the tiny room. Her father fell to the floor at her feet, the side of his face covered with blood.
“Look what you done now!” her mother screamed at her from her huddled position on the couch “You better git girl, he’ll kill you for sure when he gits up!!”
Kelly didn’t hesitate, she turned and she ran, out the door and into the darkness. She knew she couldn’t go back to the Duke farm. That would be the first place her father would look for her. So she just kept running, deep into the woods and away from the horror she had left behind her in the shack.
* * * *