It was one of those quiet Hazzard nights when it seemed nothing was stirring, not even the mice. Then, from out of the blue the phone rang and through a sleepy haze was the familiar greeting, "Duke farm."
On the other end was a voice the Duke recognized immediately...
Now the Duke found himself making the familiar drive to town. He was alone with his thoughts which were at the moment very jumbled. He thought as he entered town to swing by the Hazzard garage on his way to his destination, but then figured there would be plenty of time later, so he continued on. At the courthouse he got out of his truck and made the ever familiar trip downstairs. He was mad. That is right until he saw the face looking at him. A face that he knew well, looked at the man. It was his own face and he knew how the young man felt because he had stood in his shoes at about the same age. Right then and there the man knew he couldn't be mad at the young version of himself. He was still mad about the situation and the events leading up to them, but to be mad at the young man standing before him just because he was standing behind the bars of Hazzard's own 'Iron Bar Hotel' he couldn't be mad.
The young man did something a bit different from the what the man himself had done years ago, he looked at the floor instead of in the eyes of the older man as he began to open his mouth.
The older man spoke a bit harsher than he had planned, "Later. At home." and he saw the relief in the young man's face as Enos opened the cell door.
In the truck, the men set in silence.
The young man was the first to speak, "About the General..."
He was cut off by the other as the muscles in his neck tensed at the site of images he had yet to see, "We've put him back together before..." he said with a mix between compassion and hurt. Then, he added, "I'm not so much mad about the General Lee's damages as to why he was damaged..." Who was he kidding he was very mad about the beloved family member being 'injured'. "What I'm mad about is..."
The young man looked deeper into the floor of the truck as he said, "Me being in jail..."
The older man, looked at the younger one as if he'd come from Mars and couldn't help the astonished reply, "What?"
"You are mad about me being in jail. I know with how everyone looks up to you and all..."
He was cut off by, "WHAT are you talking ABOUT?" the older man nearly choked.
"You know that everyone in town looks up to you. When the chips are down, when there is an emergency, no matter how big or small - there you are."
It took a few minutes for this all to sink into the older man's head, then he asked, "Are you sure you have the right person there?"
The younger man, looked at him with a mixed look of envy and hatred. The hatred, not from hating the man, but hating that in his eyes the older man was 'prefect' and the young felt he'd never measure up. "Oh, come on! PLEASE! Yes, I have the right person!" He spat letting the alcohol he'd consumed earlier rule his young mouth. "Mr. Perfect that's you."
The older man nearly choked, "YOU think I'm perfect?"
"Always have been - always will be!" the young man mouthed.
The older man knew the alcohol was ruling the man before him, "Tell you what, suppose we go home, you get a few hours sleep and a shower and tomorrow we'll spend the day talking to a bunch of people who surely won't agree with you?"
This took the young man by surprise but a shower and bed sounded better than he figured he'd get once he got home so he said, "Deal."
The next day after chores and breakfast the two men got in the truck and heading down the drive way. The older man knew he didn't have to travel far to prove his point. In fact, he could have likely stayed right there on the farm, but decided to head straight for town. In town, he parked the truck and said, "Let's go. Take your pick about who you talk to."
The young man had the mouth and 'know it all' attitude that came with youth. Getting out of the truck, he said, "I will." He saw a couple of his friends walking just up the square, "Hey, ya'll. Come here a second."
When the friends got closer, the young man pointed at the older man, "You all ever hear of him doing anything wrong or no one 'looking up' to him?"
The young girl spoke first, "No. Why? I mean why wouldn't they. He's done so much for the County and nearly everyone in it." She spoke first handedly as older man was often at her house helping her grandfather with this or that.
The other young man also added, "I know I was sure glad to see him the last time we had that storm that sent me in that deep ditch and I couldn't even get out of the car until he showed up an got me out. And the car too, without a scratch."
The older man said, "It was no problem. Ya'll have a nice day." and began to start across the street as the younger man bid his friends goodbye and caught up with him. "See I told you. St. Duke is what you are."
The older man laughed and said, "No, I'm not. Far from it."
It was then that Boss JD Hogg came out of the bank, "Well, well, well and well. A couple of Dukes."
The older Duke waved his hand for the young man to ask his question.
"Mr. Hogg." he then pointed toward the older man, "Have ever seen anyone like him? Who is always helping people even if he don't know them and mostly for no pay when he helps them?"
JD Hogg had know the Dukes well for years and replied defeated, "No, I surely haven't."
The older Duke seen that the two were on two different pages and added, "So, I've always helped you and never caused you any trouble?"
JD nearly spit out the unlit cigar he had in his mouth, "You NOT cause me trouble? Ha! You have caused me more trouble than any hundred people. You and your family have cost me more money, caused more patrol cars to be wrecked, messed up more plans than anyone I've ever known."
"Thanks Boss." the young man was content in thinking that he was still right, because the trouble the older man caused was to keep others from getting hurt by Bosses plans.
The next stop was the Hazzard garage, where the Dukes found a greasy Cooter under the hood of a car that had seen its better days. This time it was the older Duke who spoke first, "Hey Cooter, I got a question for ya... You ever known me to cause any trouble, anywhere, when it wouldn't help someone else?"
Cooter looked at the two Dukes before him, "Ok, spill it. What's going on?"
The older Duke spoke, "Well, it seems that I'm a 'Saint' and down right 'prefect'."
Cooter looked at the man before him, "You? Perfect!? That's funny!" he looked at the young man before him, "You're how old now?"
"Eighteen." the young man said proudly.
Cooter looked at the older man and said, "So you think that he's perfect and a saint, huh? Well, just remember, you both asked." Then he looked at the older man and added, "And, remember I lived eighteen with you, Luke."
Luke nodded, "That you did."
Cooter began, "When your dad here was eighteen he was sorta sweet on a girl we'd all grew up with and from about the age of fifteen or sixteen right up until about senior prom there was no other girl for him, even though they did have their own on again off again thing going on. Everyone, including Uncle Jesse at the time figured it was just a matter of time until there were wedding bells in their future. That is right up until she tried to force his hand into marriage a bit sooner than Luke wanted. It seemed to me that he was at the time content to be settled, but after they broke up, well, it was all bets off."
Luke glared a bit, "Thanks a lot. But, what I think Cooter is trying to say to make a long story short," Luke knew the long story and had no desire to relive it all right now. "For the next little bit I did some things I'm not real proud of, went out with far too many girls for the wrong reasons, drank too much, drove too fast, started more than one fight at the Boar's Nest, and likely finished far more that were started with me. I'm telling you I had an attitude and a mouth that would at least equal yours."
The young Duke looked from one man to the other without speaking.
Cooter knew he could bring up many specific incidents but thought that a couple of them that had almost cost him and Luke their friendship were best left in the past. But added, "Yeah, it sure could have. You know sometimes back then I thought you were right, but looking back at it now I don't see how Uncle Jesse survived us all."
Luke said, "You got that right but you know he did often credit me for most of his gray hair!"
"You? Really?" the younger man asked.
"Me. Really." Luke said, then asked, "But, have you ever known of a wrecker having to be sent to pull me out of a ditch on a perfectly good straight stretch because I put it there because I was drinking and driving?"
Cooter had heard Uncle Jesse's talks so many times before he could have sworn that he was about to hear on now, only it was coming from the 'talked to' not the 'talker'. He looked at the young man with honesty "No, I haven't. Your dad, there, me and my father were the only ones to drive the wreckers in the Tri-Counties back then, so I would known."
The front door to the garage opened and in walked Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.
Luke asked before Rosco could speak, "Have you ever arrested me for drinking and driving or ever hear tell of me doing it?"
Rosco thought for a minute, "Well, other than that time you were racing up at the lake and the State Police took that picture with you holding a beer as you were getting in the General Lee."
Luke smiled at the memory, "The time when they were taking pictures trying to stop the racing up by the lake? When I had been racing and wasn't going to race any more and took a drink of beer. Then was challenged to a race I couldn't back down from and ended up handing the beer off to someone to hold? And they got a picture from way up on the overlook and while they were coming down to arrest us all for racing they got a more important call and came back hours later."
Rosco replied, "That's the time! Ket, Ket, Ket!"
Cooter added, "And by that time you were not racing and were drinking heavily?"
"Right." Luke replied.
"Did they arrest you for drinking and driving?" the young man asked.
"No, because there was hours between the picture and them showing up. They wanted to arrest the entire bunch because of racing, but they had only taken a picture of me and a buddy racing." Luke said.
Cooter added, "And to keep Bo, Daisy and several others out of trouble your Dad there agreed to plead guilty to reckless driving, racing and speeding, if they would let all the rest of us go."
Luke added, "Yeah, then they wanted to know who I was racing?"
The younger man looked disappointed, "So you told?"
Luke shook his head no.
Cooter added, "He didn't have to. Our buddy stepped up and admitted it."
The younger man looked at the three men like they had all lost their minds, "Ya'll admitted what you were doing and got arrested so everyone else wouldn't be in trouble?"
Luke replied, "Yes. When I'm wrong I'll admit it, besides Bo and several others were there and drinking when they shouldn't have been which would have fallen back on me, Cooter and a couple more since we were the oldest."
The young man shook his head, "See, even when you are wrong you help others! MAN!" He walked outside. This was just too much information to digest!
Luke's eyes followed his son out the door, then looked at the retired Sheriff and Cooter without a word.
Cooter replied, "Well, Buddy Row, it looks like he's coming to terms with being a Duke in about the same way as his old man did."
"What?" Luke said in disbelief.
Cooter replied, "Remember, I lived through you being eighteen, when you thought Jesse walked on water and it did, if you recall, bother you when you thought you let him down and could never live up to how he expected you to act." Before Luke could say a word, Cooter continued, "But, you know people do grow up and I guess maybe even me and you have done a bit of it. You with all the responsibility of the fire department and me in Washington so much."
Rosco added for good measure, "Yeah, when me and Old Flash were out chasin' you and Bo all around the County and breaking up fights that all three of you were in and likely started most of, we'd never have thought that one day you'd be Hazzard's Fire Chief, you'd be a Congressman and not to mention Bo settling down and having all those youngin's." He shook his head and added, "Don't be too hard on him Luke. According to Enos he was more ashamed last night than he is admitting today."
Cooter almost said something about how the apple sure didn't fall far from the tree but decided against it.
Luke sighed, "So, how bad is the General Lee? I know they just cleaned that ditch line out and it's as deep as I've ever seen it."
Cooter shrugged, "Well, it sure didn't help him none, but a light, mirror antenna, a bit of paint; he'll be good as new. It could have been worse, he could have rolled him there."
Luke nodded as he headed out to look at the General Lee, "I know. I'm just really glad Jake was alright. When Enos called last night I was worried, mad, and happy they were Ok all at the same time."
"Now you know what you and Bo did to Uncle Jesse." Cooter said.
"And, me!" Rosco added.
Luke sighed, "Yeah."
Rosco added, "Look if you all can grew up, he will too."
Some how that knowledge wasn't real comforting to Luke. He knew all he'd put Jesse through in between 18 and the time when everyone thought he'd 'grew up'.
Please read and review. I wrote this after my non driving husband put my Thunderbird in a ditch on a perfectly good straight stretch with only the roads being wet. Unlike this story he wasn't drinking. It was 830 in the morning and he was taking my 21 YO to the store about 3 miles away. When the fire chief showed up my son said, "I've called Mom. Do you care to go get her I know she is walking." I was mad and walking to my car with all the determination I could mustard. Not only did he put the car in the ditch he did it with my son in the car, and even though he's as big as a baby elephant I still wasn't happy, but all considered it could have been far worse.