A/N: Welcome! This is the second installment of The Diaries Series. If you haven't read Part 1, The Diaries of Circle M Ranch, I would highly recommend reading that installment first. That story is currently undergoing some minor editing to improve the overall writing quality, but the content will not change. All chapters will remain online and available during this process. Enjoy!
Chapter 1 -Difficult Adjustments
"Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed."
~ Irene Peter
It was going to be another sweltering day in Hazzard County. Enos begrudgingly left the cab of his air-conditioned pickup and walked to the County Courthouse, his mind on the drought and the condition of his hay fields. It was almost 7:30 AM and the heat already radiated from the pavement. It wrapped around him with suffocating pressure.
Once inside the building, he walked down the corridor to the Sheriff's Department, where he could hear Rosco and Cletus having a heated discussion from his position in the hallway.
"Not again..." he moaned and walked through the door.
Sheriff Rosco and Cletus stood in front of a marked-up road map of Hazzard County loosely pinned to the bulletin board. He stood quietly and took the scene in, listening for any clues that could mean Boss Hogg was up to something illegal. From what he could discern, Cletus had been out setting up speed traps in road construction areas, but he'd put the signs in the wrong places.
Not noticing Enos's arrival, Rosco gestured wildly and continued chewing out his deputy. "Now listen up this time, ya' big dummy! I said Pond Creek and Highway 20, not Highway 14! How are you supposed to set it up at Highway 14 when it doesn't even intersect with Pond Creek?! Now ya' done wasted four hours out there and Boss Hogg plans on shutting down Highway 20 in - GYU! Enos! What are you doing just standing there?!"
Waggling his fingers, he said, "Mornin', Sheriff! Hey Cletus!"
"Don't come in here and 'mornin' me, dipstick! What are you doing sneakin' up on us like that! Are ya' trying to give me a heart attack?" Rosco yanked down the map and rolled it up into a jumbled mess.
"Golly, I'm sorry," Enos replied, innocently. "I sure didn't mean to interrupt your little meeting."
"Oh just hush! We've finished anyway, now you two just get on outta here. Go find that convertible that's been speeding all over the county. It's getting to be plum embarrassing!"
"Convertible?" Enos crinkled his forehead. "Sheriff, I've been off duty for three days. What convertible are you talking about?"
"Oh, good grief!" Rosco replied with rolling eyes. "Don't you keep the radio on at the house? That riff-raff has been causing all kinds of commotion around here!"
Enos considered mentioning the long hours spent working well after midnight, just to get back up at the crack of dawn to feed horses and muck stalls, but he didn't dare take that risk. Balancing his job as a deputy sheriff and his new life as a ranch owner was proving to be a rather difficult task.
Boss had already voiced his displeasure over Enos's decision to remain with the Sheriff's Department. He suspected all the double shifts, last minute calls on the opposite side of the County - that turned out to be bogus - tedious filing jobs, and other unusual duties he'd been assigned lately, were just the beginning of Boss Hogg's attempts to force him out.
It was frustrating and he'd been tempted to call it quits a time or two, but he loved being a peace officer. If he made one complaint about his duties or being overworked in any way, Boss would hear about it and fire him immediately. At this particular time, it was more important than ever to keep his job. Without it, he wouldn't be able to keep up with Boss Hogg's shenanigans ... or continue his investigation into mafia leader, Wallace Monroe.
Maybe it was time to take his foreman's advice and hire a few new ranch hands.
"Enos!" the Sheriff barked. "Are you paying attention!?"
Enos snapped to attention and said,"Yes sir, Sheriff! I always keep the radio on in the house and the barn. I reckon I spent more time outside than I thought. What's been going on?"
"Oh, you missed our high-speed pursuits!" said Cletus.
"Pursuits? You've had more than one?" Enos winced, instantly worried for the Dukes. "In one weekend?"
"We sure did!" Cletus announced, proudly. "The first time we saw the convertible was Friday night..." The other deputy bent his knees and gave an animated play-by-play of the first chase. Then he stood straight, smacked his hands together, and made a high arching gesture with one arm. "...and SPLASH! That's when the silver convertible ran Sheriff Rosco right into the pond." He chuckled and hooked a thumb at the Sheriff. "Saturday he went in twice."
Rosco wasn't amused. "Oh hush! Whoever is driving that thing put you in the pond once on Saturday and twice Sunday afternoon! At this rate, we ain't gonna have no ponds … just holes with patrol cars in 'em! Now y'all split up and find that car! Oh, and watch yourselves! We're goin' through cars faster than Cooter can dry them out!
"Yes sir, Sheriff." Enos grabbed the keys to Hazzard Two and walked out with his fellow deputy. "Hey, Cletus? What were y'all talkin' about when I walked in? Is there some road construction being planned near Pond Creek and Highway 20?"
"Boss mentioned something about a resurfacing project, but I don't think the County has any money in the budget for major repairs."
"Huh," Enos mumbled, scratching his cheek. "Highway 20 is the only way to get to my ranch. Sure would be nice if they repaired Old County Road though. The intersection you're talking about was just widened and resurfaced two years ago. What else can you tell me about this convertible? What's it like?"
Cletus's look of excitement returned. "Wow is it fast! I mean really fast! It's brand spanking new, a silver Mercedes 560SL. It has a black ragtop, but I've never seen it with the top down. We were swamped with calls all weekend from upset farmers about it racing up and down the roads and stirring up the livestock. Sheriff Rosco and I haven't even been able to get close to it. I was alone on Saturday when I chased it and it actually pulled over. I couldn't believe it! But when I got out of my car, the dang thing took off!"
"Did you run the tags?"
"The license plate number?" Enos took a calming breath. "That one time it pulled over for you, did you write down the tag number?"
Cletus looked back at him with a blank face. "I sorta forgot. But!" he said, holding up a finger, "I do remember it had dealer tags. I ... ah ... just don't remember which dealer."
"Well, there can't be that many silver Mercedes convertibles sold in this area in the last thirty days," Enos said. "You're off in an hour. Why don't you check the local dealerships and see if anything turns up? Maybe we can get a name and address."
"Hey, that's a good idea. I think it's probably a bunch of kids."
"Maybe, but it's an awful expensive car for kids. Have you seen the Duke boys? Maybe they've seen it, too."
"I don't know. I haven't seen them all weekend." Cletus shielded his eyes and looked up at the rising sun. "I hear they've been busy digging irrigation ditches."
Enos let that set in. "Thanks, Cletus. I'll head to the Duke Farm then."
"Hah! Finally!" Cletus slapped his shoulder. "It's about time you went out to see Daisy!"
"I'm going out there on official police business, Cletus. I'm curious if the Duke boys have seen that convertible and if they haven't, I want to make sure they know about it so they can keep an eye out. If the car is as fast as you say it is, the General Lee won't have any trouble keeping up with it. Have you talked to Cooter?"
"Cooter?!" he scoffed. "What for?"
"Well, I was just thinking that its gotta gas up somewhere, don't it?"
Enos rubbed the back of his neck. It was getting harder and harder to play dumb. Lately, he was dropping his 'dipstick' mask and working like the cop he always wanted to be. He was trying not to do that in front of Cletus and the Sheriff, as it would affect his ability to behave like a bumbling idiot when the Dukes needed his help. Life was so different now. Having all this new responsibility didn't make it easy to think and act like one of the Keystone Cops everytime Boss Hogg came up with a new scheme.
Cletus scrunched his forehead and replied, "Oh. I guess that makes sense. You want me to talk to Cooter?"
"No, thanks. I'll do it. I need to talk to him anyway about a truck that broke down at the house."
"You have another truck?"
"No, it's not mine. It's on loan and I've been too busy to look at it. I'll be sure to tell Cooter to keep an eye out for that Mercedes while I'm there."
"Okay, partner. I'm off to pick up those road signs then I'll call the dealerships."
"See ya' later, Cletus."
Enos strolled to the patrol car and accidentally dropped the keys before he could get the door open. He bent down to pick them up when a pair of high heels appear to his right. Tall red ones, with long tan legs attached.
"Ding dang it," he muttered. Enos swallowed the dollar sign shaped lump in his throat and stood without making eye contact. "Hey Margaret, how are you today?"
Enos quickly opened the door, but she slipped in front of him and blocked him from getting inside. She batted her lashes and cooed, "Hi there, handsome. It sure is hot this morning." A single finger with perfectly fake nails covered in ruby red polish drew tiny circles on his arm on it's way to his shoulder. "I was wondering if you wanted to go out to the pond and … cool off." Her breath blew across his ear, causing a tickling sensation that forced him to cringe and lean back. She giggled and said, "We could go swimming or something?"
"Margeret, I thought we talked about this. I'm on duty."
"I made sandwiches and some peach cobbler," she said, trying to entice him with food. "I even got me a new swimming suit!" Margaret moved in close and whispered sensually. "It's itsy-bitsy. Wanna see?" She stepped back, grabbed the hem of her too tight crop top, and began to lift the material.
"No!" Enos said, a little too loud. "No-no, no. That's okay, really."
His skin crawled from head to toe and he took another healthy step back. Margaret was one of three girls he now called 'The Three Barracudas.' Margaret, Cindy Lou, and Lori Jean, had no shame. They had yet to get the message that he was not interested ... at all. He'd rather chew off his own arm than tangle with one of these women. They must think him to be completely unaware of their motivation, too.
The girls hadn't given him the time of day until he inherited the O'Connell assets. They weren't the only women in town to suddenly change their tune and express undying devotion, but the Barracudas' tactics were downright scary.
Enos sighed and wondered if he would ever find balance. His natural affinity to be kind had been repeatedly challenged. He constantly walked a thin line between assertive or rude and was growing weary of the games.
Margaret crossed her arms, purposely pushing her breasts further out of her low cut top as she leaned forward. Enos's head snapped back as he looked up at the sky and blushed.
"C'mon! It'll be fun!" she said. "You can put the sunscreen on my shoulders, and back, or even my-"
"No! No sunscreen. I'm sorry, Margaret but I'm on duty. I have to go."
"Oh, Enos. Why do you have to be so shy?" Margaret pouted and lowered heavy fake lashes. "It's summertime! Don't you want to have a little fun in the sun? You keep this up and you'll have a terrible farmers tan."
"I have bigger things to worry about these days. Now it's time for you to go on home." Enos took her arm and moved her out of the way, but she popped right back into position like she was attached to a spring.
"Wait!" Margaret blurted, startling him. "Why don't you just meet me at the pond on your break?"
Enos huffed and dug his fingers into his gun belt. "Margaret, I can't. I told you last week when I'm on duty my time belongs to the Law. When I'm not on duty, I got a mess of things to get done on the ranch. There's no time in my schedule for dating and my schedule ain't gonna change for a long time."
Putting that long red fingernail between her front teeth, she asked, "How long is a long time?"
"Really, really long. Years, probably. It's a lot of work having two jobs."
"Margaret! You shameful hussy!" The shrill voice belonged to Lori Jean. She marched across the street to confront her nemesis by grabbing the girl's arm and dragging her away from Enos, shouting, "What on earth are you wearing?! I know what you're up to! It ain't gonna work! You just get away from him!"
Margeret shoved Lori Jean out of her space with flat palms to the shoulders and screamed, "What did ya' call me!?"
"You heard me!" Lori Jean said, quickly regaining her balance. She stood with her arms crossed and her nose in the air. "Shameful. Hussy."
"Why you little tramp!" Margaret made a grab for Lori Jean's hair and the fight was on.
"Ding dang it. Is this ever gonna stop?" Enos hurried to separate the girls.
There had already been one catfight this week between Cindy Lou and Lori Jean. There had been hair pulling that time too. When Cindy Lou's ponytail had come off it was a traumatic moment for Enos. He hadn't realized the extent some women would go to for the sake of appearance. In the end, he was the one who had been knocked in the head when Cindy Lou had thrown a shoe at Lori Jean ... and missed.
Once the girls were separated, his patience was spent. "The two of you can't keep acting like this! Margaret, go home. Lori Jean, where's your car?"
"It's across the street, but I think I twisted my ankle. Oh, ow. Oh, help me, Enos! I can't walk!" Lori Jean suddenly developed a limp and hooked her arm around him while still managing to stick her tongue out at Margaret.
"You little liar!" Margaret immediately countered. "Enos, that's not fair! I was here first! You should walk me home! How could you send me all that way by myself?"
Enos peeled his arm away from Lori Jean and said wearily, "Margaret, I can see your house from where I'm standing. Go on home now. Y'all are gonna get me in trouble with Sheriff Rosco if you don't cut this out!"
"But I made peach cobbler and everything!" Margaret frowned dramatically.
Lori Jean sneered, "Don't eat it, Enos. It's probably got Margaret cooties in it!"
"You ain't one to talk! You're about as useful as a sidesaddle on a pig!"
When the slapping started, Enos was right smack in the line of fire, as usual.
"Ow! Ding dang it! I said cut it out! What's wrong with you?"
"Can I give you a hand, Enos?" Doc Appleby stepped off the curb and the girls immediately stopped to stare at him.
Enos went rigid, barely able to tolerate being in the man's presence.
The country doctor frowned and said, "Margaret, I know your daddy wouldn't be pleased with you acting like that in front of the whole town. You just come with me and I'll walk you home so you can ... ah, change."
Doc Appleby took her arm and moved her away from Enos. With a sad expression, he said, "I'd sure like to visit with you, son. I hate that we don't talk anymore. Would you please come by my office later? I've cleared my appointments this afternoon. I have some important things I'd like to share with you. It would mean a lot to Mrs. Appleby if you dropped by, too. She sure misses your visits."
"I'm not your son." The breeze ruffled Enos's tie as he said stoically. "I appreciate you walking Margaret home Doc Appleby, but I'm on duty until late tonight. I don't see where we have anything left to discuss anyway. But, please give Mrs. Appleby my best. I don't mean to hurt her feelings. If you'll excuse me, I have to get to work."
Enos took Lori Jean's elbow and quickly led her across the street - minus a limp - while Doc Appleby stalked away with Margaret.
"Aw, darling." Lori Jean spoke with a sugary timbre. "You're so sweet to walk me to my car."
"Lori Jean, I'm on duty and if you and Margaret don't stop this bickering I'm gonna … I'm gonna…" Enos sucked in a breath and let it out in a flustered whoosh. "Y'all just stop acting like a couple of teenagers before I have to do something I'm not proud of."
With a dramatic gasp, she stopped and smiled giddily. "Are you saying you might arrest me, Enos?"
"Lori Jean, that's downright creepy. Just get in the car!" Enos opened her door and pushed her inside, slamming the door behind her.
She leaned out the open window and grabbed his wrist. "Hey, anytime you wanna see a movie just give me a call!"
"Please, Lori Jean. I really need you to buckle up and go on home now." Enos freed his hand and turned on his heels before she could respond, feeling very much like he needed to find soap.
He hurried back to his patrol car hoping to get inside before Cindy Lou popped up somewhere. It wouldn't be the first time she had hidden in the bushes to catch him off guard. Thankfully she was nowhere in sight and Enos drove to Cooter's unimpeded. Maybe he had seen the last of The Barracudas for the day.
Just a few minutes later, he walked into the cool shade of Cooter's Garage. A large industrial fan sat near the back doors, providing a strong breeze and plenty of noise as it stirred the air. Enos made a quick circle but didn't see the local mechanic, so he hollered above the noisy fan. "Hey, Cooter! Where ya' hiding?"
Cooter slid out from underneath a nearby station wagon, the wheels on his wooden creeper making a smooth whisper across the concrete. "Hey there, Enos! What's going on! Did you see what Margaret is wearing today? I gotta tell ya'! Since you inherited all that money? On behalf of us menfolk, we wanna 'O'-fficially thank you for improving the local scenery ... if you know what I mean." He waggled his brows before bursting into rowdy laughter.
Enos shook his head and sighed. "It ain't funny, Cooter. I feel like the last fish in the barrel and guess who is shootin' the bullets?"
"I'll trade problems with you anytime you want."
"Feel free to ask any of the three dozen women trying to wrangle me into a shotgun marriage out on a date. I'd even help pay for the popcorn as long as it gets them off my case."
"You'd have to pay me more than popcorn to mess around with that Lori Jean. Hey, sorry Boss wouldn't fix the a/c in your patrol car. Why don't you bring it in later this week and I'll see what I can do off the books?"
"Really? I'd sure appreciate that. That's mighty kind of you."
"Hey, I'm happy to do what I can if it means keeping the real law in this town from having a heat stroke. So what brings you over here so early this morning?"
"I have a job for you." Enos took off his hat and worried on the brim. "There's a truck out at the ranch that won't start and I don't have time to look at it. I need it running so I can find somebody to drive it out to Wyoming next month."
Cooter looked at him quizzically, "The Ford? Again? That's a brand new motor I put in it while you were in Wyoming. What's wrong with it?"
"No, it's not the ranch work truck. This is another one-ton."
"You mean to tell me you have three trucks now?" Cooter chuckled and said, "You can only drive one at a time. You do know that, right?"
Enos hesitated, wondering how much he should tell Cooter about his current situation. He leaned against a support post and said, "It's a really long story."
It had been four months since Hazzard discovered Beth O'Connell had left her substantial wealth to him in her Will. The news had spread through town like a raging wildfire that burned so fiercely he heard about it from Wyoming. Despite the time that had passed, he was still the gossip vine's number one topic.
Now his life was a lot like being a circus monkey. The local citizens gleefully watched to see what he would do next. The shiny red truck that sat in his driveway and the speculations about its original owner would probably be the hot gossip of the week. The truck belonged to Jenny MacFarland and every time he looked at it, he yearned to be with her again.
Right on cue, the pang in his chest nearly took his breath away.
"Hey, you all right?" Cooter stood and kicked the creeper aside to peer closer at his face. "There it is again," he said. "It's that sad puppy look you been wearin' all summer. What's going on with you lately anyway?"
Enos quickly schooled his features. "It's nothing. Sorry. I'm just distracted."
Cooter grinned widely. "It's that Margaret, huh!"
"Huh? No!" Enos harrumphed. "It for sure ain't Margaret. The truck I need you to fix is the same red Chevy Emily was using when she was in town. Do you know which truck I'm talking about now?"
"Oh, that red truck! I thought that was Emily's?"
"Cooter, can I ask you that question so I can get back to work before Boss Hogg sends me to the house for good?"
"Sure! What are ya' waiting for?"
Enos took a calming breath relieved that he didn't have to explain further and asked, "Has a silver convertible been by lately for gas, or have you seen it out on the roads?"
Cooter's eyes widened with obvious excitement. "You mean the Mercedes 560SL rag top with tinted windows? The one that put Cletus and Rosco in the pond this weekend?"
Aha! Maybe he was getting somewhere! "Yeah! That's the one! Have you seen it?"
"Nope. Ain't seen it."
"Cooter..." Enos flopped his hat back on his head. "Would you keep an eye out for it? I'm going out to look for it now. It needs to be stopped before somebody gets hurt. If you see it, or it comes in for gas, give me a shout on the radio, okay?"
"You got it, buddy roe." Cooter sat down on the creeper and looked up with concern. "Enos, have you been sleeping at night? You look awful tired and you ain't been acting quite like yourself. I saw Daisy last night at the Boar's Nest and she's been real worried about you. I hear you ain't been to the farm for a long while neither."
"I appreciate you asking about me, but I'm all right. It's just the heat." Enos turned away to hide the embarrassment he knew was showing on his face.
"Alrighty then." Cooter grabbed his tools and reclined. "I'll go out to the ranch and take a look at that truck later this afternoon. Think about dropping by to see Daisy, would ya'? She won't admit it, but she's missing you something fierce." Cooter pointed the wrench at him and said, "Swallow your pride, Enos. Everybody can tell you're just as miserable without her as she is without you. The two of you need to kiss and make up."
Enos's stomach rolled over. "Things are just fine between Daisy and me, I just don't have much free time these days. I'm headed out there now to see Bo and Luke about that convertible. I gotta go. When you get to the ranch, the truck is in the driveway in front of the garage. I left the keys on the floorboard."
"Okay, I'll check it out. See ya'." Cooter took off his cap and scratched his head. Enos was already to the door. "Huh. Wonder if there's any truth to the rumors about that girl? That boy's been actin' squirrelly since he got back from Wyoming."
The temperature continued to rise as Enos drove towards the Duke Farm. The air was thick with humidity and the mirage shimmered in waves across the pavement ahead of him. While he listened to the dirt pepper the undercarriage of his patrol car, he thought about his exchange this morning with Doc Appleby.
Doc hadn't approached him since their ugly confrontation when his ma made a rare appearance in town. He knew he should eventually sit down and have it out with the man but now wasn't the time. He was overloaded with hurt feelings from multiple directions and wasn't prepared to deal with the fact that Doc Appleby lied to him his entire life about Beth. As a result, they had been robbed of precious time together. Even when Beth died suddenly, Doc took his chance to say goodbye away from him.
Enos was tired of important choices that affected his life being controlled by someone else.
The thought brought Jenny to mind. When they met at his godparent's ranch in Wyoming, they had an instant connection. He was drawn to her smile, her eyes, and her hourglass figure was impossible to ignore, but it was the connection between them that was so special. It was present the very moment he set eyes on her and grew with every encounter. She was beautiful inside and out, with a heart overflowing with kindness. She had an inner glow that enticed him in a way he'd never experienced before. That evening after supper they had a long conversation, alone, over coffee and tea. The things they had in common were astounding and he found himself just wanting to be in her presence. He even asked her to go riding with him the very next day.
Later that night they shared their first kiss. Their connection continued to grow and knowing they only had the time during the cattle drive to share each other's company, they lived a lifetime over the next couple of days. She became a balm to his wounded soul and gave him confidence and courage he hadn't experienced since Beth was alive. He had no idea of the danger she was in or the pain she was hiding, but he wasn't afraid of it. No matter how hard she tried to push him away to protect him from Wallace Monroe, he refused to let her go. Then things happened that were out of their control. After she saved his life, twice, her brother Drake expressed his disapproval of their relationship and was now keeping them apart.
Tightening his hands on the steering wheel, he battled against the rage that was building inside. He could still hear Drake's thick Scottish brogue as he cut his heart in two. Drake had said, "Jenny is precious to the family. I told ye she's no' yer plaything. She's a bonnie lass who deserves better than the likes of you. I ken how ye treated Daisy, the lass ye claimed to love and had yer engagement ring no' a month ago! I'll no' have ye use my sister that way! If that's no' enough for ye, then think on this! Ye cannae love her or protect her the way Jaxon and I can! You'll stay away from her if ye ken was good for ye now! The twins have always been mine to protect! Understand?!"
Enos didn't understand. He'd never understand how Drake could be so cruel to his sister and claim that it was love. Deep in his heart, he knew Jenny would never ignore him this way. If she were able to contact him, she would have.
With Drake standing between them, the only choice he had was to prove his abilities and stop Monroe on his own. Even after working all summer with Agent Chuck Ferguson, the same agent who investigated the shooting at the ranch in June, he wasn't any closer to stopping Monroe than he was the day he met Jenny. The only hope he had going for him was the unannounced visitor that arrived at the ranch several weeks ago.
July 1987 - Several weeks ago...
'Enos sat on the porch swing, rocking back and forth as he watched Sam start one of the two-year-olds in the round pen. The horse was doing well and moved with an easy gait as it ran circles in one direction then turned to run the other when given a simple cue. His attention was pulled from the activity when he heard a car approaching on Old County Road. A moment later, an expensive black Jaguar with Massachusetts plates pulled through the gate.
"Sam? Are you expecting company?"
"No sir!" Sam called out as he continued working the filly. "Ain't got another appointment until tomorrow and it for sure ain't nobody in a car like that!"
Enos watched curiously as the car drove up to the house. Hazzard County didn't see many high-end imports like this one unless they were passing through on the interstate. The Jag parked in front of the house and the driver stepped out.
The man took off his suit jacket and tossed it in the car. Despite the dark sunglasses - which he figured were also very expensive - Enos immediately recognized him from the Boar's Nest. He was the patron flirting with Daisy earlier in the day. He rounded the car, straightening his tie while carrying a large envelope.
Sizing the man up, Enos thought there was something else familiar about him, but he couldn't quite place it. While not extremely tall, he was far from short. In his mid to late twenties, he had an athlete's body, muscular and trim. His thick, brown hair was swept back in a carefree style, but a few rebellious strands fell over his forehead, giving him a youthful appearance. He wore a gold class ring of some sort on his right hand and everything about him screamed money and the finer things it could buy. Where had he seen this man before today?
Then the man paused, taking a long look at the red truck in the driveway and setting Enos off guard. He moved to the rail, next to the third planter, where he'd stashed a small pistol for emergencies. "Howdy. Welcome to the Circle M Ranch. Can I help you?"
The man stopped and looked up, "Hello. Is Gus Rafferty still around? Or have I missed him?"
At least he knew Gus. "I'm sorry, but Gus went back to Wyoming two weeks ago. I'm Deputy Enos Strate. Is there something I could do for you?"
The man leaned against the car, folded his arms and crossed one foot over the other. Even his mannerisms were familiar.
"Yes, there is." A single finger pulled his sunglasses down just enough to peek over the top, then pushed them back up as he grinned like an imp. "So, you're what all the fuss is about. By the way, I love what you've done with the place. Beth would be very pleased. Now, to get down to business, I brought something for you to look over and then we need to have a long talk. I'm here to help."
"Help," Enos replied, skeptically, and moved to the top of the stairs to get a better look at the man. "You're here to help me? Have we met?"
His visitor gave a carefree laugh and said, "No, we haven't. It's funny, I get that question often. I've heard all about you though. In fact, she finds something new to tell me about you every day."
"Mister, I'd appreciate it if you would … sh-she?" Enos's mouth gaped and he muttered, "No ding dang way."
The man had removed his sunglasses, revealing brilliant green eyes, then he smiled … and tilted his head to the side.
"Jenny told me just this morning how funny you were and that I would like you. Looks like she was right again." He held up the envelope he carried and said, "Deputy Strate, you need to read this and then we need to have a long talk about Wallace Monroe and my sister. My name is Jaxon MacFarland. It's very nice to meet you."
It took a minute for Enos to regain his equilibrium. This was the moment he'd been waiting for. A chance to plead his case and get in touch with Jenny again. When he could speak, he blurted, "Possum on a gumbush!"
Enos rushed down the porch steps and offered his hand. "Jaxon, I'm sure glad to meet you! Come on inside and get out of this heat!"
"Thank you." Jaxon shook his hand and flashed a charismatic smile. "The pleasure is mine."
A few minutes later, Enos sat at the harvest style table in his refurbished kitchen, directly across from Jenny's twin. He was baffled that he didn't catch it earlier. The young man had a striking resemblance to his sister, especially when it came to their eyes. He could hardly believe it. Jaxon MacFarland was the last person he expected to see on his doorstep after the way things had ended with Drake.
Enos wrung his hands to keep them from shaking. "So, does Jenny really talk about me?"
"All the time," he said, putting his soda pop back on the table. "She really misses you, Enos."
"Really!?" A million questions burned through his mind at once. He opened his mouth to ask them, but the emotion strangled his voice before he could speak.
Jaxon chuckled, "Well, that answers my first question. The feeling is definitely mutual."
He nodded, emphatically. "Yes, sir!" Clearing his throat, he asked his most pressing question. "Is she okay, physically, I mean?"
A cloud passed over Jaxon's face, but he schooled his features quickly. "She's going to be okay. Do you know what happened to her, the day Monroe's gunmen attacked you here?"
"Drake wouldn't tell me anything, but I know she was... They found blood in the driveway." Enos wiped his eyes on his sleeve, a bit overwhelmed by how his emotions seemed to have a mind of their own. "She wouldn't have left without seeing me. She was shot, wasn't she."
It wasn't a question.
"Yes, but she's okay now," Jaxon said, firmly. "I made sure she received the best medical care possible. She's had a rough time, but she's going to be fine. That's why I'm here. I made a promise to her the day we found out Monroe was coming after you. I told her I'd help her, that I'd help both of you. I need to explain several things to you before we talk any more about Jenny, okay?"
It hurt to know that she'd suffered and he wasn't there for her. He mustered his strength and said, "Okay."
Jaxon handed him the envelope. "Take a look at these and then ask as many questions as you like."
"What is it?" Enos said, pulling out a sheaf of papers.
"Just read it," he said, smiling, and took another drink of his soda.
With a sigh, he began to read. The first page was an internal memo from the office of F.B.I. Agent Travis Patterson. It concerned a meeting with a confidential informant close to Wallace Monroe. Enos's breath caught in his chest. This was huge! Then he noticed the red ink in the corner. The memo had been stamped 'TOP SECRET.' He shot a look across the table only to be met with Jaxon's laughing eyes.
"I have ways," he said.
"I'll remember that," Enos replied, returning his attention to the paper in his hands. It was a report on the shooting, the same one that injured Drake, Jenny, and himself.
"You can read the details later. Skip to the bottom paragraph."
Enos read it aloud.
CI reports prime suspect #7463583, W. Monroe, is abandoning all action against Hazzard County parties due to strategic risk to critical assets. The suspect is concerned about losing additional staff and operations, therefore these parties have been moved to protected status, indefinitely.
Enos again looked over the table. "Is this what Drake meant? He said something about us being protected."
"Yes, that's what he meant. We will continue to ensure that your protected status does not change."
"How will you..." Enos flicked a look back at the memo. "This says Monroe is 'concerned about losing more staff and operations.' My friend, Chuck Ferguson at the F.B.I. told me recently that an auto theft ring in Philadelphia that may have been run by Monroe was recently exposed. The authorities caught the men in charge red-handed and tied up at the pier with an entire shipment of expensive cars. You and Drake wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"
"You know I can't answer that question."
Enos didn't like it. He didn't like it at all. "You're going after him."
"I'll pretend that I didn't hear that."
"I want Monroe stopped, too, but don't go and get yourselves killed, Jaxon. Chuck shared his research with me. I know what y'all can do, but Monroe has unlimited resources."
"Our resources aren't exactly slim, we just don't ask others to do our dirty work. Listen, Enos. This is where I need you to trust me in return. We're fine and you're safe. That's what we wanted to happen. Whether we go after any more of Monroe's assets now is a decision the three of us have to make."
"Can you at least tell me why Monroe came after us in the first place? How did Boss and Daisy get involved in this?"
"Does that really matter anymore?" Jaxon sat forward in his chair. "Listen, it's my job to know these things. If anything changes and you, or Daisy, or anyone else in Hazzard is in danger, I'll know. Jenny and I wanted you and your friends to have the reassurance that another assassin isn't waiting around the corner."
"I sure appreciate that," Enos said, lowering the memo to the table. Clasping his hands together he pleaded, "Please tell me more about Jenny. Is she ever coming back? I have so much I need to say to her. The way we left things hanging is just... I can't stand it."
"I think it's best if I let Jenny explain things to you herself. Just know that she misses you very much and she wants to come see you, but she's in a bad spot. I think we can work through the issue with Monroe, but the problem with Drake is more delicate. He's putting a lot of pressure on her to stay away."
Enos tried to bite his tongue and failed, "Why? Jenny knows the truth about my relationship with Daisy and it's not the way it looks!"
"I know, she told me," he said. "Drake is just very, very protective of us. Jenny told you about his fianceè?"
"Yes, Cynthia." Jaxon paused and took on a faraway look. "Drake loved her with everything he had. When she was killed, it nearly destroyed him. He blames himself for what happened to her and I think in some ways, he's trying to protect Jenny from going through any heartbreak. He needs us right now. He will deal with it eventually, but even then... Well, until Monroe is stopped, none of us have much of a future to look forward to."
"That ain't true, Jaxon." Enos leaned across the table and pleaded with his eyes. "Let me help you stop Monroe. Please. I'm begging you. I won't call the F.B.I., or force you to do something you don't want to do. I promise. You're welcome to come stay here with me for as long as it takes, no matter what happens between Jenny and me. I'm hoping for the best, but her happiness is more important to me than my own."
Jaxon went still, his eyes doing all the speaking for him. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Um..." his throat visibly moved as he swallowed, "and what about Drake? Would your offer extend to him, too?"
"Of course. Jenny loves him. I'd never come between any of you. That wouldn't be right." Shifting uncomfortably, Enos swallowed the pain as he said, "Drake told me I was using Jenny as a plaything. I'd never do that. She's not a rebound, or a fling, or a security blanket either. What I feel for Jenny is real and I'd never, ever, hurt her. Is there any way you can help us?"
"I'm going to do my best." Jaxon smiled but turned melancholy. "I hate seeing her this sad, Enos. Do you understand what you are getting into? We've been living on the run and it isn't easy. Using alias names, staying in a different place every night, always watching your back, being extra careful if you go someplace more than once, never being able to ... to go home, or see your friends." Flustered, he ran a hand through his hair. "With Monroe out there, the three of us have to stick together. It's a hard life. We aren't normal people."
"No, Jenny's far from normal. She's too special to be called normal, but she deserves a normal life, no matter what Monroe is trying to do to her. All of you deserve a normal life. My home is always open, to all of you. I hope you'll remember that."
Jaxon laughed and wagged his finger. "You know, Jenny said you would say exactly that. I love my sister, Enos. We have a very special bond as twins and I can't watch her wither away in front of me anymore. I'm losing her a little more every day. I need you to give us a little more time to work with Drake."
Wrestling with disappointment, he said, "It means a lot to me that you're here."
"I'm glad we could talk." Jaxon looked at his watch. "I've got to go soon. Is there anything you want me to tell her? Or, I could take her a note."
Enos couldn't get to pen and paper fast enough. He poured his heart out in that short missive. When he was finished, he handed it over and said, "Thank you for helping us. She can call me anytime, even in the middle of the night. Can I ask a favor?"
After discussing a little business and promising to return in a couple of days, Jaxon left the ranch. Enos felt an odd sense of sadness at his departure and watched until all that was left of the Jag was a tiny column of dust on the horizon. He could easily picture them becoming good friends and looked forward to seeing him again.'
Enos thought back to that day now with a terrible sense of fear. He'd been so full of hope, so certain he would see Jenny again. Then days had gone by. Then a week and then two weeks. Now it had been over a month, and Enos's excitement had returned to the same painful yearning he struggled with since leaving Wyoming.
Every morning he got out of bed and prayed that he would hear Jenny's voice, or see her smile before the sun crossed the sky and fell beneath the horizon for the day. Each night, he would look up at the stars and wonder where she could be. Was she safe? Could she possibly be looking up at the same sky at that very moment? Was she thinking of him? The only comfort came during the brief moments he held her in his dreams and whispered to her how much he cared. Alas, even his dreams were marred by Drake's cruel hand. They always ended with him ripping her away from him while she screamed his name.
His biggest fear was that they attempted to destroy another one of Monroe's illegal operations and something had gone wrong. If that was the case, he might never find out what happened to them. He should've asked Jaxon for more details, like exactly what they had planned. He might not have told him, but at least he would've tried. It was all so overwhelming.
"Please, Lord. Keep her safe. Keep all of them safe."
Enos banished his dark thoughts as he turned into the Duke Farm. The crop of corn near the road had been scorched by the drought, turning everything that once thrived shriveled and brown. He knew the Dukes would struggle to make ends meet this year. They were proud folk, but if things got worse, he'd already taken steps to make sure they didn't lose their farm.
With Tom Grady's assistance, a relief fund would be made public any day now. He had more money than he could spend in ten lifetimes. Why not use it to help the locals affected by the drought. It felt like the right thing to do. Some would lose farms and homes that had been in their families for generations if he didn't step in and help.
An icy ball of dread formed in his stomach when he spotted Daisy's jeep in front of the farmhouse. While they were repairing their friendship, some days were more difficult than others. He had nothing but friendship and confusion to offer.
"I'm here to do my duty," Enos said, repeating the mantra a few more times.
Hopefully, the Dukes had seen the silver convertible and could help him find it. If the car was as fast as Cletus said it was, Enos would have to out drive it.
The silver Mercedes was carefully hidden in the shade of the trees along Old Mill Road, it's driver waiting patiently for just the right moment to act. The last three days had been a total waste of time. The patrol cars the convertible engaged over the weekend had not been the right ones.
Losing them had been simple, but watching them crash into various ponds around Hazzard ... six times ... had been hilarious. This town might as well have a special traffic sign made, one with waves with a police car above it.
When the scanner crackled to life, it was time to get down to business. Blast. It was Hazzard Three saying he was still making calls to Mercedes dealerships around the state. That meant time was up. Today had to be the day.
There would be no more meddling in his life. She was his responsibility to love and protect. Not some hick deputy with a High School Diploma and a few years at the police academy. She was too good for him and he would make sure the cop knew it, too. He planned to teach that loser a lesson he would never forget.