Well, this is it! Thanks so much to everyone who read along and left comments. As always, I appreciate it and I'm very glad you liked the story. And yes, I do have a couple more ideas in the works… :) Not exactly sure when I'll get them done, but I'll put updates in my profile every so often as I go along.
- Flynne :)
- Chapter Ten -
"Bring it on Home"
As soon as the police car pulled up, Daisy came bursting out of the house with Jesse right behind her. Bo climbed out of the back seat and braced himself just in time to catch her as she ran forward and threw her arms around him. "Oh, Bo baby, I'm so glad you're okay! We were so worried about you!"
"You sure are a sight for sore eyes!" Bo gave her forehead a quick kiss. "I guess this means you missed me as much as I missed all y'all back here?"
"Sure does!" She gave him one last squeeze before she stepped away to give Luke a welcoming hug.
Jesse moved closer and wrapped Bo in a firm embrace. "Good to see you, boy." His gnarled hands rested heavily on his nephew's shoulders and he looked up intently into Bo's face. "Are you sure you're all right?"
Bo smiled. "Yeah, thanks to Luke and Cooter." Then the smile on his face faded a little and his brows drew together as he asked hesitantly, "How's the General?"
Jesse laughed and clapped him on the back. "Ain't that just like you? Worried about the car when you was hauled all over the South. The General's fine. Just a few repairs and you boys'll be back to raisin' Cain in no time."
"I brought your license plate back for ya, Daisy," Cooter put in, holding the metal rectangle out to her.
"Thanks!" She took it and tossed it in the general direction of her Jeep before giving him an enthusiastic hug and planting a kiss on his cheek. "That's for bringin' both my cousins back in one piece!"
"Only one kiss for two cousins?"
She laughed at him and kissed his other cheek. "Better now?"
"You betcha!" A mischievous gleam came into his eyes as he put an arm around her waist. "...Although I will say I kept that Jud fella outta trouble, too…"
She smirked and slugged him playfully in the stomach. "Don't push your luck, honey."
Jesse beckoned to his oldest nephew and extended his arm to wrap it tightly around Luke's shoulders. "Bo told me how ya climbed down to get 'im when we talked on the phone," he said quietly. "That was a big risk, Luke. I'm proud of ya."
Luke sighed contentedly. "Thanks, Uncle Jesse. But you know…I'd do more'n that if it meant bringin' everyone home safe."
"I know you would. You're a good man, son."
"Hey, y'all, come on!" Daisy said cheerfully. "Uncle Jesse an' me got supper waitin' inside."
"Now that is the best news I've had all day," Bo said. "I thought I smelled biscuits out here! You know I ain't had nothin' to eat since lunch yesterday? I feel 'bout as empty as the Boar's Nest on Sunday morning."
"Well, git yourself inside and chow down!" Jesse said, pointing to the house.
"Yes, sir!" Bo put an arm around Daisy's shoulders and headed for the door, followed close behind by Luke and Cooter.
Jesse turned and walked toward the squad car, extending his hand to the policeman who had been standing by silently, watching the reunion with a smile on his face. "Name's Jesse Duke," he said. "I wanna thank you for bringin' the boys home. I gotta say it's the first time I've ever been glad to see 'em in the back of a black and white."
"Lee Mitchell," the officer replied. "It was my pleasure. They helped us put away a real dangerous nuisance…and after all they'd been through, it was the least I could do." He shrugged and rolled his eyes a little. "And my watch commander told me to."
The old man chuckled. "Why don't ya come in for some supper before you head back?"
Mitchell smiled and nodded. "Don't mind if I do! It's a long drive back to Kensington…I'd appreciate havin' something in my stomach before I head out."
"Well, come on, then." Jesse turned to lead the way. "If we want any biscuits, we best get in there 'fore the boys eat 'em all."
The two men disappeared into the house and the screen door slammed closed on the gathering dusk, but the bright light and laughter from the kitchen filtered out the open windows into the clear country air.
Life on the Duke farm had gotten a little off-track for a day or two but the spring planting couldn't wait, so Bo and Luke were hard at work playing catch-up for the next few days. In the evenings, they took Jesse's truck into town to work on the General with Cooter. By the end of the week, the General Lee was looking and running as well as he ever did before he was run off the road.
Bo happily climbed in the General while Luke got into Jesse's truck to drive it back to the farm. With a final wave to Cooter, they put Hazzard behind them and headed for home. As soon as the glow of the streetlights faded behind him, Bo settled behind the wheel with a contented sigh and floored it, feeling the familiar rumble of the engine as the car flew along.
"Hey, Bo, when you get to Keller Field, pull it over, okay?"
Bo was a little surprised, but he picked up the CB mike with a grin. "I hear ya, Luke! That's a big 10-4." He cruised along the dirt road for the next few miles and swerved around the bend, pulling a hard left across the uneven long grass in a wide, treeless field. He cut the engine and climbed halfway out, sitting in the window with his arms folded on the roof as he waited for Luke to arrive. Jesse's truck came bumping across the grass and the field went abruptly dark as Luke cut the lights.
"So what's this all about, cuz?" Bo asked as his cousin hopped out of the cab.
"Celebratin' the General's return," Luke said. He lifted his hand, and in the faint starlight Bo could just make out the silhouettes of a couple longnecks.
He grinned. "Ain't a bad idea!"
The two cousins climbed onto the General's hood and stretched their legs out, leaning back against the windshield. Luke pulled out his knife and pried the bottle caps off. Bo took his beer and held it up in a salute. "To the General!"
"To the General," Luke echoed.
They sat there in silence for a while, slowly sipping their drinks as they stared up at the stars. It was a new moon and the night was clear and cool. Out in the country, the dusting of stars in the black sky was bright and thick. Miles away, the lonely sound of a train whistle wafted on the wind.
Luke swirled the liquid in his bottle for a minute and took a slow breath. "Hey, Bo?"
"I ain't had the chance to tell you this yet, us bein' so busy an' all, but…I really appreciate what you done for me."
"What do you mean?"
"Lettin' Clayton think you were me. You coulda died, Bo. And I know you've always got my back, but…I guess…I just want you to know that it means a lot to me; you bein' willing to take a fall like that for me."
"Oh, well…" Bo ducked his head and rubbed the back of his neck, a little embarrassed by the warmth in his cousin's voice. "I wasn't—I mean, I knew that might happen, but…well, I didn't think about that then. I couldn't hardly do nothin' else. I just knew I didn't want those two trained gorillas puttin' any more holes in your head." He made a fist and lightly socked Luke on the shoulder. "Heck, you're the one who thought he was Spider-Man! Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to bits to see you comin', but I remember thinkin' it was one of the crazier things you've done. Well, if you don't count what happens on the road, of course."
"You might be right, there," Luke admitted with a smile.
"One of 'em," Bo continued, "but not the craziest." He started to laugh. "I still remember that one time you had the goat on top of—"
"Ain't you ever gonna let that drop?"
"—An' when Aunt Liv asked you what in sam hill you were doin' with the hairdryer—"
"I was fourteen!"
"That don't mean nothin'. I was ten, and I knew better'n to pull a stunt like that."
Now it was Luke's turn to laugh. "Like heck you did! You were up there with me!"
"Well—yeah, but it was your idea."
Luke opened his mouth as if to protest, but paused, changed his mind, and gave a sheepish shrug instead. "Okay, you got me there. But it didn't seem so crazy at the time. The goat didn't seem to mind too much." He sobered a bit, running his thumb around the top of his bottle. "Actually, Bo…I don't think goin' down after you was crazy at all. Like you said…I couldn't hardly do nothin' else."
Bo released the last of his mirth on a sigh, taking another pull at his beer. "I guess nothin's crazy where friends and family are concerned."
Luke smiled. "I guess not." He propped his bottle against his hip and leaned back, folding his hands behind his head. "Y'know…Jud told me he knew I had two little brothers."
"He's a smart fella," Bo replied, mimicking Luke's posture. He gave his cousin a little smirk and raised an eyebrow. "Although I hope that wasn't news to you. You bein' so bright an' all, I reckoned you'd've figured that out long ago."
Luke chuckled, reaching out to cuff Bo lightly on the head. "Don't you worry none. I knew it. And it ain't gonna change." The two cousins sat in silence for a while, slowly draining their bottles as the stars crawled by overhead. High above, the fiery tail of a meteor streaked across the sky.
Finally Luke clapped Bo on the shoulder and slid off the hood. "We should probably head back. It's gettin' late and Uncle Jesse's gonna wonder why we ain't home yet."
"Right behind ya, cuz." Bo tipped the last of his drink down his throat and tossed the bottle on the floor of the General as he climbed inside. The sound of engines and the bright gleam of headlights cut through the stillness as the stock car and the old pickup truck started up. Keller Field grew dark and quiet once more as the young men—cousins on paper, but brothers at heart—disappeared down the winding dirt road.
– END –