by: Marty Chrisman
Kelly drove back to her house in a sad, deeply depressed mood. She had seen the pain in Luke’s eyes and she knew that she had hurt him, hurt him badly. That was the one thing she had never intended to do. She wondered if telling him the truth about the baby had been the right thing to do. He was right; she should have told him when she first found out instead of keeping it a secret. But at the time, she had been afraid, afraid of seeing the disappointment in Uncle Jessie’s eyes, afraid of becoming the gossip of Hazzard because she’d got herself knocked up by one of the Duke boys, and afraid of Luke’s reaction. But most of all, she was terrified that her father would find out. She knew that he would never have allowed her and Luke to get married. He would have killed her for sleeping with Luke in the first place. Kelly found herself thinking about the first few days after she had ran away and the months that followed.
* * * *
She had run until she couldn’t run any more and the pain forced her to stop and rest. She had miscarried there in the woods. Cold, alone and afraid. The pain, both the physical pain and the emotional pain, was almost unbearable. When she was finally able to walk, she was numb and empty, aching deep inside. Her mind shut down, trying to block out the loss she felt. Not just the loss of the baby, but in her mind, it was also the loss of Luke’s love.
She wondered through the woods until she came to one of Jessie’s still site that he no longer used. Luke had brought her here more than once and she knew she could hide there and be safe for a few days while her injuries healed. There was an old shack where she could sleep and inside, she found some clothes that one of the boys had forgotten and left there. They were too big for her but she couldn’t go walking around in her bloody clothes. There was a stream nearby so she had water to drink and there were berries to eat. Kelly stayed there for three days. Before she left, she destroyed her bloody clothes so there wouldn’t be any evidence of her having been there.
Making her way to the highway, she had hitchhiked into Atlanta. She spent two weeks at a shelter for runaways, and then found a job working in a bar. She had always looked older than she really was, so it was no problem lying about her age. She rented a sleeping room and kept to herself, never mentioning her past and afraid to even think about the future.
She had been in Atlanta for almost a year when she happened to stop at the local library and found back issues of the Hazzard Gazette. Hungry for news about Hazzard, she had read all the papers she could find. That was how she had discovered that her father had apparently killed her mother and then himself the night she ran away. The article mentioned her by name and simply stated that her whereabouts were unknown but that the police believed that she was probably dead too. In a later edition of the paper, she found a small item hidden away on one of middle pages stating that Lukus K. Duke had enlisted in the Marines.
Kelly had used a friend’s name and subscribed to the Hazzard Gazette. Through the years, she knew who got married, who had babies, who got divorced and who had died through the years that she was gone. It wasn’t the same but it gave her the connection to Hazzard that she desperately craved.
* * * *
Kelly forced her mind to stop dwelling on the past. She couldn’t change what had happened or take back the decisions she had made back then. At least now, Luke finally knew the truth and that was all that really mattered. But she didn’t know if she could handle it if she lost his friendship, that had meant as much to her as his love.
Kelly arrived at her house and went inside. A blinking light on the phone let her know that she had messages. One of those messages was from her publishing company letting her know that a singer named Diana Monroe was interested in recording a couple of her songs. Kelly found herself smiling as she thought about her years in Nashville.
* * * *
She had stayed in Atlanta for almost five years. As the months and then the years passed, her mind and her soul had slowly begun to heal. Impulsively, she had decided to leave Atlanta and go to Nashville. She had always sung and wrote songs, her music was a deeply ingrained part of her. At the bar in Atlanta, she had made just as many tips singing with the band as she made waiting on tables.
Nashville was everything she had expected it to be. She quickly found an apartment (with a little help from the inheritance from her grandparents that she had recently received) and a job singing with a band at Tootsie’s, the famous bar located behind the old Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. She had also signed a writing contract with Little Darling publishing based on the strength of her collection of songs she had written over the years.
Kelly had loved her years in Nashville. She had made contacts and worked her way up, developing her own devoted following at Tootsie’s. But she soon found out that she didn’t care for the politics of the music business. And, even after all the years she had been gone, she still missed Hazzard. She struggled with the decision to go back for almost a year before she finally decided to do it. She had already bought the property in Hazzard, knowing deep in her heart that someday she would go back to the only place she had ever thought of as her home.
* * * *
Kelly erased the messages from the machine and tried to keep busy doing some mundane chores around the house to keep her mind off of her meeting with Luke earlier that day. She was only half successful. Relentlessly, she found her mind drifting back to the hurt in his eyes when she had left the café. Finally, too restless to stay in the house alone, she left and drove along the back roads of Hazzard County with no particular destination in mind.
A couple of hours later, Kelly pulled into the parking lot in front of the local hangout, a tavern called The Boar’s Nest. It was a long cinder block building located about five miles outside of Hazzard, just off the main highway. Like most of the other businesses in Hazzard County, it was owned by Boss Hogg. Boss also held the mortgages on most of the properties he didn’t own. (Except for Kelly’s place which she had paid for in full when she bought it.)
A faint smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as Kelly noticed Daisy’s pride and joy parked by the front entrance. A white jeep CJ 7 with the name Dixie written on either side of the hood in descriptive gold letters. Kelly pulled in beside the jeep and climbed out of her car. She didn’t drink, but maybe she could visit with Daisy for awhile if she wasn’t too busy.