Author's Note: I wrote this story in large because I got tired of the way some people will look upon the soldiers of Vietnam. I don't approve of the war, I think it was wrong, but I don't think the soldiers who went there, to defend their country out of their own free will, or because they got drafted, deserves to be treated so badly. This story is kind of to point out that for some of them, the suffering from the war didn't' end just because they were able to return home.
Big Thanks to Hazzard Husker for all the help, and to Uncle Mouse for the help she gave me while having no time to help... ;)
Warning: The warning is placed here for vinsmouse, who wanted a spew warning here, claiming it might be a bad idea to drink while reading the funnier parts. So please keep in mind that drinking any kind of beverage while reading this, might be hazzard'ous to the health of your screen.
Disclaimer: The Duke Boys are not mine, I don't own the Duke boys, nor the General Lee. I promise that once I'm through with them, there will be nothing broken that a trip to Cooter's garage can't fix…. There is a few people in this story I have to claim responsibility for, and should you want them, I never really is impossible.
For The Red White And Blue, But Also For You
Chapter 8: For the Red White and Blue
Uncle Jesse had always said that reflection over matters past was something best left to the old people, the young ones shouldn't waste valuable time they could spend living on brooding. Bo had always though it was a sound advice and had headed it, even more so than either one of his other cousins. He was a normally happy person and he didn't care if it made some people think less of his intelligence for it. He never spent much time thinking about the 'ifs' and 'whys.'
Yet even he found that sometimes he was in that mood that made him hide away in the hayloft where Luke normally brooded and he would slip into a mood near darker than that of his older cousin's.
That was now, Luke was down in the yard working on the pickup and for once he wasn't aware of Bo.
It was strange, Jesse always claimed that some matters had you grow up, even when the years passing didn't, he had always told them that Luke grew up when he lost his family, because in many ways that was when he stopped being a child, and Bo, he grew up during the last two years.
The last two years had given him a taste of what Luke had been battling in the Marines as he battled the aftermath. Even as time passed the treatments had done nothing for Luke at all, but turned him into a completely different person that Bo hardly felt he knew at all. Maybe it was the Lucas K, the one on the birth certificate, but it sure wasn't Luke, his cousin.
When time was running out and Luke was near as good as gone there was finally a glimmer of hope, but not a lot, just a way to buy another few months but as the source of the chemical had been discovered they were able to do as much while working on the cure. By then there was more reported cases as well. Bo still remembered the name, Acetylenproten-B, strange name but he remembered it.
That had been the worst time for Bo, or almost the worst one, because when there finally seemed to be real hope, Luke didn't want it.
The dark mooded young man who had always been the pillar Bo leaned on had given up. He wanted to simply give up and pass with the time, didn't even want to stay where he was in the hospital, he wanted to go home, and he got into a horrible shouting match with their uncle about it. Luke thought it all was an act of cruelness to make him wait for the inevitable, and he wanted it over with as quickly as possibly. Daisy ran from the room as she couldn't stand to watch it, neither the harsh words spoken, the pain they left behind, or the way Luke struggled when he spent more air than he could spare on forcing the words out and seemed to be dying from the argument.
Jesse wasn't one to be quieted though, and with a few words he had him crying in his arms instead, and had him give up and agree. Luke had given up, truly given up, but the family hadn't and they were fighting the battle for him, all Luke did was to let them decided for them, let the doctors try to treat him, but he barley spoke to them and he didn't seem to care about the outcome at all. He was certain what it would be, and that had been hardest on Bo off it all.
Never the less he was taken to Washington DC where they were more capable of dealing with it. The two months they bought him was enough, and while Luke never in any way seemed to care, he was going to make it.
That was when Bo got into an even more severe shouting match with him, because even after he was declared to be on the road of recovery, he still didn't care. He wasn't interested in going home, he didn't care that he was getting better, and Bo didn't believe he could ever hate his cousin, but he had gotten close then, he had gotten really close as he turned to Jesse for comfort and understanding, both of which Jesse had as much as he needed and more.
It had been a Duke that made his fool headed cousin care again, but not the Duke Bo had expected. It was the General.
When they left the farm in Georgia they had left Jeb Stuart Duke in charge of the farm while Cooter, and his two cousins helped out there as well. Cooter had also since Jeb Stuart insisted on the motorcycle taken the General to keep him at the garage. The Dukes needed more money to live on, but they would never accept it for a gift, so Cooter made them a deal to rent the General.
Then when the letters came, Cooter made up his mind on his own, using the winnings from a local race he took the orange stock car and drove it cross country to where his friends were. It was seeing the General that started to turn Luke around again, seeing Bo run out to it and take off for a drive to think and clear his mind made the older Duke boy realize how much he desired to go with him.
When Bo returned he had found a peace of mind he hadn't felt in a long time, and when he got back, he found something even better, Luke smiling and laughing, joking with Daisy and Cooter, Luke reaching out his arms to him, willingly, for a hug.
After that things just seemed to be a lot easier. Cooter moved in with them at the boarding house where they had been boarded and where the Dukes lived with the veterans hospital taking half the rent for two rooms, and where the Dukes worked for the other half, Daisy by helping the old widow out at meal times, and Jesse took Bo to make sure that a lot of small neglected repair work actually got repaired.
Luke's first trip outside was to the General who was parked out on the street, the second one to the boarding house one block away where they started to take him to eat. Bo had thought that as soon as he was signed out of the hospital they would just go into the General and go home, but it wasn't so at all. Luke voiced a request to stay in the big city, and Bo couldn't understand it at first, demanding to know why he wouldn't go home, but Jesse seemed to know and nodded silently, agreeing to stay for a week or two. Later, when Luke had gotten a few full days rest at the boarding house after being signed out, enjoying meals of fried chicken and all the pie he could eat, Bo began to understand, at least he understood when they all took the General for a real special trip…..
An hour later, Bo finally understood what it was about as well. He had heard about it but never really thought about it. He knew about the wall risen after Vietnam, and he had heard talk about fifty thousand names, but he had never really stopped to think about it. Seeing Luke there it was impossible not to think. His cousin just stopped walking as soon as he saw it, and as Bo looked at him he saw tears shimmering in his eyes.
That was when it hit Bo what that wall represented to Luke, he had been there, he had seen all of those names. Even if he hadn't learnt all of them, countless names on that wall was people he had met briefly, some of them he had seen dying. To Luke it was four years of his life, four years of terror and misery, but also the very reason why he had gone there in the first place.
Bo felt the tears come to his own eyes, he had never been there, he had only heard Luke mention a few names and most of those were the ones who had made it through. Yet he suddenly understood more. Seeing all those names he came to realize what a huge thing it was.
He wasn't sure why he did it, but he put a hand on his cousin's shoulder, Luke gave him a brief glance, not even bothering to brush the tears from his eyes, but putting his own hand over Bo's he slowly made his way up to the wall.
As Luke went over and started reading the names a few tears slipped down his cheeks and Bo's hand slid down his back in a supportive gesture. He looked as Luke slowly read the names, the rest of the family following close by. It amazed Bo how many chose to remember their fallen family and friends by the small things that adorned the wall. There was pictures of wives and children, little tiny tots with baseball bats, there was medals left there, a couple of teddy bears. All things that had meant something to the men.
Bo had learnt a few of life's hard lesson himself, he knew how easy it was to lose family, but this was just so pointless. All of those names represented lost family and friends, and watching Luke, seeing young girls and old women break away from the wall and run with tears streaming, little children tracing the words in the stone, none of them had died for any reason. It was all so pointless, but the men were still dead.
"You!" an angry voice called out from somewhere to the left and Bo looked up as Luke was still focusing on the wall.
"You, damn baby killer!" The voice repeated and Bo saw the man even as Luke looked up. He had been called by that before.
"Still so proud eh? Crew cut on a soldier boy, rather on a baby killer," the man spat and Luke touched his head with a hand. He had taken off the hat and Cooter now held it in his hand, and since his hair had not yet grown out Bo supposed it might be mistaken for a crew cut. Jesse was bristling with anger, though Bo was more scared what it might do to Luke. Cooter had drawn himself up, and was ready to act.
Glancing at his cousin Bo noticed the coldness of his eyes and decided to stop for a moment and wait to see what would happen. He could tell how angry Luke was, but he could also tell that Luke didn't want any help here.
"Would you be referring to me?" Luke asked, his voice was quiet and Bo smiled inwards in spite of it all, the more angry, the more quiet Luke got the more you needed to watch out. Even Ledbetter knew to back down when Luke used that tone, because he knew that when he did, it was a barely controlled fury that would have him literally pluck up his teeth from the floor if he didn't give. Even Rosco or Boss dared to push him the slightest and those who had been foolish enough to do that, had always regretted it.
"I sure as hell am, what are you? Army?" The man spat again, he wasn't all that big, and didn't look that muscular, Bo suspected he was drunk or something.
"Marine," Luke informed him, his voice dropping and his eyes getting even colder.
"Marine huh, big strong tough Marine. Always faithful," the man laughed. "Big liars, do ya know ya cost me my cousin? He went there, drafted, and he never returned because he got shot, and it's all your fault, because people like you want to fight, and you don't care who you shoot! You are all damn cowards and baby killers, scum, the world would be better if it wasn't for people like you!"
Looking around Daisy was surprised not many seemed to notice, but with children and even adults crying here and there, no one just paid all that much attention.
Suddenly the man stepped forward. "Did you ever think about that, did you ever care? You never cared about anyone but yourself. Sat damn nice and comfortable and just shot babies, and my cousin was out there doing the real fighting and got shot, all because of you!"
Bo was shocked, how could anyone say things like that? How could anyone accuse someone else of something like that. After all Luke had suffered, why did he have to go through this to?
Luke hadn't really said anything yet, but now he put his arm around Bo's shoulder. "I was there, I went there so that my cousin would not have to."
"Think that makes you a hero huh?!" The man snarled. "It don't your still nothing but a baby killer!"
Bo barely caught it, he was stunned by the words and didn't really notice when Luke pulled his hand away from his shoulder and punched the man, but suddenly he was on the ground, looking completely dazzled.
"I'm sorry about yer cousin," Luke said in that quiet voice. "I am sorry fer his sake that ya can't even appreciate the sacrifice he made, but blame it on those who was there for him then. I don't regret it, yer right, I am proud, I am proud of the fact I stood up for my country when so many like you backed down. I don't regret what I had to go through, I don't regret living in that hell of a jungle because I am still proud of our flag. The only thing that is a shame, is that I did it for yer right to act like yer doing now. Every one of them names there is a boy who fought an' died for something ya will never get to know, an' ya'd rather blame them, well, I ain't half as disgusted over the things I was made to do, as I am over ya. Ya got the right to say what ya wanna say, ya got the right to call me what ya wanna call me, ya got that right because our grand daddies fought for it, because our fathers fought for it, an' because those boys fought for it," he brushed his hand over the wall as he added the last.
"Ya come here, to where we go to honor the ones we knew an' the ones we loved, an' ya do it to tell us how much ya hate us, don't matter, if I had to make that choice again I'd make the same choice, an' while I was there dying or surviving as the lord saw fit, ya'd be here talking about how wrong it was an' doing nothing. An' I tell ya something buddy, before ya has been there an' gone through what yer cousin did for yer sake, an' fer the sake of all them kids ya see here, ya don't have no right to talk this way about what he did."
Bo had never really heard Luke be that lengthy, and he wasn't sure where it had all come from. He was vaguely aware of how a man picked himself up from the floor and slunk off away from the place. He looked at Luke who had simply turned back to the wall as if nothing had happened and he knew that right now it was something Luke just couldn't deal with, but later, when it really hit him, then Bo would make sure he was there for him.
In the meant time the rest of them stepped closer, Daisy wrapped her arms around him, Jesse put a hand to his cheek and Cooter put his hand on his shoulder as Luke lowered his eyes to the ground. He found it harder and harder to deal with by the second.
Meeting his eyes Bo saw soft blue covered with a sheen of tears and he gave his cousin a small smile. He was so very proud of him, not so much because of what he had done as he was of why he had done it.
Then as Bo wondered if it had been too much for him and they should take him back, then Luke seemed to mentally shake himself by the shoulders and he straightened up as he continued his slow trek along the wall, and it took all Bo knew to know what he had just been put through.
This time when he stopped he ran his finger over a name and Bo knew he had found someone who meant just a little bit more to him. Someone he had known. Taking a step back he stood there breathing slowly.
Luke's eyes had been so cold before that it had near scared Bo, but now as he looked on another child his eyes looked warmer. Pulling away from Bo Luke knelt down in front of the little boy, maybe seven years old.
"Hey Timmy," Luke said softly and Bo couldn't understand how he could know his name.
"Who are you?" The frightened little boy asked him in a whisper.
"I knew yer daddy, he would show me pictures of his little Timmy, said ya was his special little boy," Luke told him softly, brushing a finger over a birthmark on his cheek. It was pretty big and Bo felt sorry for him, it was the kind of thing kids got teased for and it was a shame.
"Daddy's gone," the boy whimpered with tears falling. "He was my daddy," he pointed on the same name Luke had been looking at and suddenly Bo understood.
"I know Timmy, I knew yer daddy to." Bo and Luke had always claimed they knew nothing about kids, but now Luke displayed that he knew a lot about compassion, putting his arm around the little freckle faced boy.
"Why did he have to go?" the boy asked, "I wanted him to come back, and mommy did to, she was so sad when he left. She showed me he was there," he pointed to the wall again. "But now she don't wanna go here no more, it only makes her cry, and she don't want me to go either, but I wanna be with daddy. She was busy, so I snuck out because I wanna go here."
"Timmy, yer daddy didn't wanna leave ya, he was really sorry he had to." Luke sat down on the ground and put the little boy in his lap.
"But he still left me," the boy cried, clinging close to a stranger. He had been told countless times not to trust strangers, but children can be so very trusting, and Bo figured he just knew he had found someone who understood his pain.
"He left me to Timmy, but he didn't want to. Sometimes a man has to do things he don't want to do. My mommy and daddy left me when I was just a little boy like ya are, an' it wasn't because they didn't love me, it was because they had to," Luke tried to explain, remembering the pain he had felt then.
"Does daddy still love me?" the little boy asked with tears streaming.
"Yer daddy loves ya very much," Luke assured him. "He liked to tell me about his special little boy, he told me ya wrote him letters all by yerself an' no one had to help ya. He was so proud of ya, an' he would put the drawings ya sent him in the barrack so everyone could see them. Said ya was a little artist."
"It's not fun to draw anymore, I wanted to draw for daddy," the boy said hiding another stream of tears against Luke's chest.
"Ya can still do that Timmy, because yer daddy will still be so very proud of ya, even if he ain't here to tell ya that, he will always be so very proud of ya, an' he will always love ya so very much."
"How much?" the boy sniffed.
"So much," Luke smiled as he held out his arms wide, something someone he knew a long time ago had told him he would always do when his little boy asked him how much he loved him, and even with tears still streaming a little boy smiled. If even a stranger knew how much his daddy loved him, then that had to mean it was true.
"I love him to," he declared.
"I know Timmy, an' yer daddy knows to," Luke smiled.
The little boy jumped to his feet and ran his finger along the wall again while Luke climbed to his feet, at least he seemed to be doing better, he really was a sweet little boy.
There was things Bo hadn't understood before then, things he didn't fully understand until he saw the drawing. Timmy's older brother came looking for him, and Timmy explained who Luke was, begging to be allowed to write him letters, so Luke wrote down his address on a little piece of paper for him, and after they had been home a while the first letter from Timmy came, not as much a letter as a drawing. It was pinned over Luke's bed, and there was two soldiers and a little boy on it, and a wall. Bo though he understood it all better as he sat down on Luke's bed and looked at the drawing. There was those who would always chose to blame the soldiers for things they believed wrong, blame the ones who had no choice, but there were those who saw through that, saw the sacrifice and the suffering, and there was those little golden hearts that reached into the darker suffering ones with tiny little sunbeams of hope.
Timmy had been a special little boy, with a real golden heart.
Now, back in the hayloft Bo was tryin to wrap his mind about it all. No one could tell from looking at him anymore that Luke had been sick. He had been at the dance the week before, enjoying his date and enjoying the late night where they seemed to get lost on the roads somewhere between the Boar's Nest and her farm. Jesse just shock his head grinning deciding that things were back to normal and punished him by cleaning out the chicken coop.
Then he took Bo by surprise, when his uncle packed up the groceries from the store he had thought the socks were to replace his own ones with holes in them, but they weren't, Jesse declared they were for Luke, so maybe he would stop stealing Bo's whenever he got holes in his owns.
So why was he brooding so much? Bo asked himself, there really was no need. Things never was all that normal in Hazzard, but at the moment they were as close as they could be, Luke was back to being the cousin he had always been, and what more, Bo now had a mission. His mood brightened instantly as he started planning, he needed a good plan, he had years and years of sock thievery to revenge……
Authors Note: I am aware that my time line is slightly off for the wall, but this was for the good of the story, I needed the wall to be there. Also, the name of the chemical is not real, it's made up from three different components, all gases. One was in the second world war, the two other I guarantee that Luke has been exposed to, and if handled wrong, they are very, very dangerous, and it seemed fitting as I've seen him use them not quite correctly……
Please review, the Cricket is hungry……….