Chapter 1: Emotional questions
Daisy had just finished hauling the old family albums in and put them all on the kitchen table. She and Lulu had come up with a great idea for this year's festival. The older residents, granted, would be better at the game than the younger folks in town but it'll still be fun all the same. And this time, at least, she shouldn't have to strong arm her two cousins into anything. Not much anyway. Sorting through the books of pictures on the table, Daisy set to finding just what she'd need. Smiling to herself, Daisy was lost in the reminders of days gone by when Bo and Luke came in for lunch.
"Hey, Daisy-girl. What 'cha doin'?"
Bo walked over and affectionately kissed the top of Daisy's head as he looked over her shoulder at the mounds of photos that were covering the kitchen table. Daisy looked up and gave her best conspiratorial smile that she always saves for when she and Lulu need the fellas help with one charity event or another.
"Oh no! Whatever it is, no! Luke and I ain't doin' nothin' that you got in mind. Ain't no way, ain't no how!"
"Now sugar, I wasn't going to ask nothin'. I'm just lookin' through these here photo albums." Daisy looked down to hide the smirk she knew was making its way across her face. "Tryin' to find the best ones to use."
"Use for what, exactly, Daisy?"
Luke walked over to the fridge to get the fixings for some sandwiches since it was obvious that the only way he and Bo were going to get anything to eat was to get it himself. Daisy could be just like a kid when she got into a new project.
"Oh, well Lulu and I were tryin' to figure out a contest that could be fun for the Thanksgiving Weekend Festival. We thought that a guess who's who game would be fun. Folks'll try to match up each other using only baby pictures. The person who guesses-"
"Baby pictures? Is that what you're goin' through now?" Luke gave her his famous look that always meant that he had the feeling that somehow he wasn't going to like this at all when it was all said and done.
"Hey, Luke! I didn't know you was such a cute kid." Bo didn't even bother trying to hide his smirk. "What happened?"
Luke walked over bringing the sandwiches with him to look at the picture that Daisy currently was holding.
"Oh no you don't. Ya ain't using that one." Luke made a grab for the picture that showed a young toddler aged Luke Duke that had clearly just gotten out of the bath and had refuse to allow his mother to dress him so she had grabbed her camera instead. "Why do parents always take pictures that they know can only serve one purpose; to embarrass their kids?"
Daisy tucked the picture protectively close to herself to keep Luke from getting a hold on it. "Well I'll use this one if'n you don't help me find one that you do want me to use."
Daisy couldn't help the giggle fit that swept over her. She couldn't understand why so many, men mostly, got so bent out of shape when it came to pictures. She dared to glance up at her two male cousins; one with a face of true annoyance the other still smirking like the show before him was the funniest thing he'd seen in sometime. That smirk, though, also told her that at least Bo was game.
"Come on, Luke. You know we're gonna have to do it anyway. We'll look while we eat. It can't be that hard to find one picture that won't embarrass the livin' daylights out of us," Bo was already grabbing his sandwich from Luke and his own baby book as he spoke. After all, he had to admit, he was curious.
Uncle Jesse had never let him see his own book. Bo remembered once in school he needed pictures for a project and how Uncle Jesse seemed to act so strange about him not seeing the pictures in his book. When Bo asked about the brown envelope in the back of the book that he saw as Jesse picked a few choice pictures out Jesse said he'd tell him about it when he got older.
The brown envelope!
Bo flipped to the back of the book. There it was, sealed the same as it was all those years ago. Bo began to carefully open the envelope as he reasoned with himself, I'm older now. There ain't no reason not to look at my own danged pictures.
Vaguely, he heard Daisy and Luke debating various pictures and their appropriateness for the whole town to see. As Bo opened the envelope, he was mildly surprised to reach in and find not pictures but what appeared to be newspaper clippings. He randomly pulled one out and started to read it.
"Aw come on, Luke! I know it ain't because you're modest. I think these here pictures are downright cute. Look at this one. I bet 'cha some of the gals in town wouldn't mind you modelin' for them like ya are in this here picture."
Daisy giggled as she spied a picture of an infant Luke lying on a bedspread wearing nothing but the smile that God gave him. Luke looked horrified at the picture and proceeded to try to grab yet another offending photo out of his female cousin's hand.
"Hey, Bo, a little help?"
Luke knew that the only way he was going to get that blasted picture away from Daisy was if he got Bo to help and they tag teamed her. Of course that's if he doesn't go all turn coat on him. After all, just a moment ago he was standing there like a grinning idiot thinking that this was all so danged funny. When Bo didn't respond, Luke looked up just in time to see him storming out the kitchen door holding some sort of envelope.
"Hey, Bo," Luke hollered after him as he headed toward the door.
Bo was already jumping into the General by the time Luke reached the door to the yard. Putting the stock car into gear, Bo sent up a cloud of dust so thick that the two remaining cousins had to fight back the mild choking fit that overtook them both.
"Daisy, can I borrow Dixie?" Luke was already heading towards the Jeep as he spoke.
"Sure sugar. But it won't be no use goin' after him. Not the way he tore outta here; and in the General. Dixie's good but she ain't no General. Bo was drivin' like a mad hornet when he left. Best to just let him go." Daisy stood there watching the dissipating cloud of dust; even as she fought her own urge to chase after her baby cousin. "I wonder what got him so riled."
"Who knows? Well, since we ain't goin' to go running Bo down, let's go finish lunch. If anything'll bring Bo back in a hurry, it's his stomach. He only took one bite of his sandwich and the only thing that I've heard for the last hour was how starved he was."
Luke gave Daisy a smile to reassure her despite his own worry for Bo. Placing his arm around Daisy, he steered her back to the house as Uncle Jesse pulled up in his old white pickup.
"What in the Sam Hill! Luke, that cousin of yours just about ran me off the road coming down Turner's stretch. You two have words again?" Jesse reached across the seat to grab the mail that he went to town for before heading toward the house with his niece and nephew.
"No sir, I don't rightly know what got into Bo. We were all around the table for lunch, lookin' at old pictures and suddenly Bo just ran out the door lookin' madder than a rattler that just got stepped on."
"Pictures?" Jesse suddenly paled. Luke noticed and immediately was at his uncle's side.
"Let's just get inside."
They walk into the kitchen, Luke so close behind his uncle that Jesse bumped him as he pulled out his chair. Reaching over across the table, he grabbed Bo's baby book. Flipping to the back, just as he suspected, he found the brown envelope missing. Jesse released a long hard breath before looking at the two youngsters standing at the table eying him, waiting to see what he might say about Bo's taking off and what the book had to do with it.
"Well, sit down; I guess I'd better explain what Bo found."
Luke and Daisy sat down, both clearly worried now, and Luke noticed that his uncle suddenly looked years older. All of this because of those dang-blasted pictures.
Bo drove as fast as the General would go. Where he was going didn't matter. He always drove when he was upset. Bo glanced over in the seat next to him at the brown envelope unsure of what to make of it. He was in such an all fire hurry to open the dang thing, now he looked at it like it was a snake that had just lunged at him. As Bo looked around at the road, he realized he was nearing the county line. He pulled to a stop onto the side of the road and just stared off into the forbidden county. Reaching over to the envelope, Bo braced himself as he pulled out the articles that it contained.
Abduction at Tri-County Hospital
He just stared at that headline. Abduction. Kidnapping?
Bo pulled out the lone picture that had been placed in with the articles. In that picture he saw his parents. His dad, and yes Jesse was right he did look just like his dad, was holding a small infant wrapped in a blue blanket that clearly had his name stitched into it big as can be. A fleeting thought crossed his mind that that blanket was probably still in the attic with all his other baby things. Beside him sat his mom in her hospital bed with a small bundled in her arms. An infant wrapped in a pink blanket. Pink; a girl. Mom's holding a girl.
Bo looked at the picture and allowed the tears to fall for, not just the two people he never got a chance to know, but the third he never even knew about!
Bo didn't know just how long he sat there. Time didn't seem to mean anything to him at the moment. He read and reread the articles, most of them anyway. All of them seemed to say the same thing.
Baby Kira Duke was taken by a nurse who had worked in the maternity ward. Apparently, she had recently lost a child of her own. To a woman on the edge, it just didn't seem fair that she had lost her child while another had two. It had just been an ordinary day when the nurse had taken two day old Kira Duke from her mother under the pretense of the doctor needing to check out the small infant before she could be released. It was hours later before the alarm went up, but of course, by then no sign of the nurse or infant could be found.
The papers spoke of Sheriff Coltrane's investigation and of how the case would remain open regardless of how long it took to find the infant. Another reported his parents' death and spoke of the still missing six month old. Bo looked over the pieces of newspaper and began to think back on something, or someone, he'd not thought about in years.
Lavinia was climbing up the stairs on her way to put the boys' laundry away when she heard little three year old Bo chattering away in his room. Smiling to herself, that boy can't stop talking even when there wasn't anyone to listen. Lavinia cocked her head to see if she could figure out what Bo was talking to himself about.
"You should've seen Luke! He was so mad!"
A slight giggle escaped his mouth thinking back on the scene he'd just described. He couldn't help it if Luke put the one car he had wanted to play with up on top of the dresser. Nor was it his fault that everything that had been on the dresser had come crashing down when he moved his toy box over so he could stand on it to reach the car and it knocked over the various other toys and what-nots that had been placed on it.
"Luke don't stay mad long though. He still read to me last night out of a book about Peter Pan. Do you like that one too, Kira?"
Kira? Lavinia paused at the door and dropped the clothes on the floor. No, she couldn't have heard that right.
"What do you mean you ain't never heard of it? Don't your momma read it to you?" Bo paused as he cocked his head, "Oh, well maybe Luke'll read to you like he does for me. He's in school right now. He says that it's mostly boring there. You have to sit still a lot."
Bo turned and saw his aunt and ran to her with the energy reserved for three year old little boys.
"Aunt Lavinia! Do you think Luke'll read to Kira? Nobody reads to her. She's awful lonesome most times. You 'kay?" Bo looked at his aunt thinking she looked scared. Something must have been wrong.
"I'm okay, Baby. You'd have to ask Luke about the reading though. I can't answer for him. Tell you what, after chores you and I will go out shopping for the day. You've been growing like a weed."
"Okay. Can Kira come too?"
"Let's just the two of us go okay?"
Bo looked off to the right at nothing in particular for a few seconds before turning back to his aunt. "Alright."
He gave a slight pout but for once, his protest ended there. Lavinia turned to go out of the door with the forgotten laundry and returned to the living room to sit down.
Kira; no, she heard him right. But he couldn't know about her. Maybe it was just a coincidence. And just maybe, if she kept telling herself that, it'd make it true.
Later that night, Bo was just climbing into bed as Luke was finding his bookmark in the book he'd been reading to Bo. Bo was just about settled when he remember the question he'd asked Lavinia. "Luke? Can I ask ya some'em?"
"You can ask, I ain't gotta answer, though." Luke couldn't help smiling at his own joke. Oh of course Bo was too young to get it. After all, being a whole seven and half years old, he's a lot smarter than Bo. Luke giggled a little as he sat beside Bo on the bed getting comfortable so he could read to Bo. "What 'cha want, Cuz?"
"I's thinkin'. Well, Kira doesn't have anyone to read to her. Could you read to her like you read to me?"
So that's it. Bo's imaginary friend. Luke couldn't help rolling his eyes. Most little boys would have had made up another little boy as an imaginary friend. But no! Bo seemed content with having a girl as an imaginary friend. Let's face it, his cousin must be weird.
"If Kira wants to listen, she'd better listen while I read to you, 'cause I ain't reading this twice. Now scoot over, will ya'?"
Luke started reading and watched his cousin begin to drift off into a world of lost boys, pirates and fairies. It didn't take long for Bo to fall asleep listening to his cousin read. Luke put the place keeper back in the book and went to find something to keep him busy 'til his own bed time.
Bo just sat in the General, watching the sun start to slowly slide down behind the mountain as dusk settled in Hazzard. What were the odds for his imaginary friend and sister to have the same name?
Why didn't anyone tell me? Ok, well Luke and Daisy didn't know; he was pretty sure of that. But Uncle Jesse? Why? Why didn't he tell him about his sister? Heck fire! Even Rosco knew about his sister! Just who else has been in on this secret? Boss? Miss Tisdale? Mr. Rhuebottom? Shoot the whole danged town practically!
So lost in his own thoughts, Bo never noticed a car pull up behind him. Nor did he hear the lone occupant walk up to his car.
"Alright, you Duke! Just what do you think you're doin' up here. Plannin' on makin' a run across the county line are ya? Well I ought to run you in you-"
"Is it because she was a Duke, Rosco! You figure one less Duke to worry about would be no skin off your back! Is that why you didn't find her?!" Bo shouted at Rosco with all the emotion that had been churning within him for the last several hours. Hot tears threatened to fall but went unnoticed since he now had an outlet for his anger.
"Just what are you talkin' about?"
Rosco leaned down to look into the car and saw in the fading light of dusk the articles in the seat. He didn't need to read them. He had those same articles in a scrap book at home, along with his other cold cases. Rosco put a hand on Bo's shoulder and look at the boy with such sadness.
"Now, Bo; I did my best. Why don't you let me take ya home. That way you can talk your uncle," Rosco yanked his hand back when Bo cranked the car back up.
Stepping aside, Rosco watched as Bo put the General into a one-eighty and sped off. Going back to his patrol car, he reached over to the CB to contact Jesse. No, he decided, the whole county doesn't need to hear this. Instead, Rosco turned the key and pointed his car towards the Duke farm.