A/N: This story is for the "Cliche' Challenge" and the "Christmas Challenge".
What else could be more cliche'd than a parody of the timeless classic "It's a Wonderful Life"? In this case, Daisy gets to see how the lives of those around her - and even Hazzard itself, would be different if she'd never been born. This story takes place the Christmas after the episode, "Enos and Daisy's Wedding" in season 7.
Having seen the movie isn't required to understand the story; you just won't catch all the easter eggs.
"Looking through my window,
I seem to recognize
all the people passing by,
but I am alone,
and far from home
and nobody knows me..."
Daisy gazed out the window of the Boars' Nest as the last two patrons shuffled to their truck. The snow was falling faster, blanketing the parking lot and whiting out the road beyond it. The truck pulled away in a cloud of exhaust, leaving only Dixie and Hazzard #2 in the lot. The cold of the window made her shiver and she rubbed the goose-pimped flesh on her arms.
It had been a busy Christmas Eve, though she often wondered why anyone would rather be at a bar than home with their families. She supposed everyone had their own priorities. Right now, hers was shutting down before the roads became too slick to get back to the farm. She sensed Enos come and stand beside her.
"You sure you don't want me to drive you home, Daisy? It wouldn't be no trouble."
She turned and gave him a smile. "No, I'll be fine. You go on and get outta here before it gets worse."
Enos frowned, betraying his worry, and glanced uncertainly around the empty bar before picking his hat up from the counter. At the door, he hesitated and turned back towards her. "You'll call me if you need anything, won't you?"
"I will, I promise. You're coming for dinner tomorrow, right?" Since his father had died in 1967, Enos had only missed one Christmas with them.
"I wouldn't miss it," he replied, flashing her a bright smile. "Alright then, I guess I'll head on home. I'll see you tomorrow."
There was nothing further as he left, and anyone who didn't know the two of them would never guess they'd almost been married earlier that year. Enos had not mentioned the incident, and Daisy hadn't pressed the issue. Eventually, their relationship had slipped quietly back into the holding pattern that neither seemed keen on changing.
Daisy had begun to wonder if maybe he'd finally come to his senses. What man in his right mind would want to marry a girl who had never said she loved him? Not that she...didn't... exactly. There had always been something special between them as long as she could remember, but he'd become shy and reserved as the years passed by - far removed from the boy who had been her constant companion in childhood.
It wasn't the first time she'd felt guilty about stringing him along. Enos seemed blissfully unaware that he was one of the most eligible bachelors in Hazzard County, and sometimes she wondered if it weren't for her if he'd be home with a wife and family. Instead, he waited patiently for a love she didn't know if she could ever give him.
Perhaps he would have been better off if they'd never met each other in the first place.
In the office, Boss counted down the money for the day from the Boars' Nest while Rosco looked gleefully over his shoulder.
"How much did ya' rake in today, Boss? Sure looks like a lot...say, I sure could use my fifty percent right about now."
Boss' chubby fingers flew through the bills without ceasing as he cast a doubtful look at the Sheriff. "Your fifty percent of fifty percent of my fifty percent, you mean."
"Well, Boss, you know, being that today is Christmas Eve and all, I figured that I might be able to have just a tiny smidgen more than that..." He grabbed innocently at a twenty dollar bill that was just about to fall off the table, but Boss' hand smacked his out of the way before he could so much as touch it. "Mama's been wanting a new record player."
"Oh, I've got better plans for this Christmas."
"Better plans? You ain't going to cut the orphans funds again this year?"
"Huh?" He shook his head. "No, no, no, Rosco. I've got something better than that by far. What would you say to repossessing the Dukes' farm this Christmas...once and for all?"
Rosco smiled rapturously, but it was quickly replaced by confusion. "Uh, Boss...how in the blue blazes are you gonna do that? Jesse ain't got a payment due till this coming week."
"Yeah, but I know for a fact that he ain't gonna be able to make that payment."
"Uh...if you don't mind me asking, Boss...how do ya' know something like that? It's been a busy week. Daisy'll have more than enough to cover the mortgage, specially with the dipstick giving her half his paycheck in tips," he added, rolling his eyes.
Boss pointed to the register till. "You see all that cash there?"
"In there?" Rosco looked longingly at it. "I sure do."
"No, you don't," he snapped.
"Nope. You don't...'cause that dang Daisy Duke just stole five hundred dollars of it!" He counted out five hundred dollars and shoved it in his pocket.
"Ooo! That's brillant, Boss!" Rosco's happiness faded slightly. "Uh...but Boss...on Christmas Eve?" He'd never been a fan of any Duke, but...well...it was Daisy. What little conscience he had that hadn't been scrubbed away from working with J.D. Hogg was reminding him that it was still there.
Boss peered up at him through narrow eyes. "You want me to tell Lulu what you really think of her cooking?"
"Ooo...jeet! That's just...that's plain cruel, Boss."
Daisy paid little attention when Rosco and Boss came out of the office and into the bar. She was finishing up sweeping and then she'd be done for the day.
"Daisy Duke," started Rosco, "for shame, for shame...Everybody knows your name."
She looked up, annoyed. "What are you going on about, Rosco? Ever'body knows you've got a lot more to be shameful for than me."
"Oh, but see, Daisy," said Boss, "that's where you're wrong."
Daisy's heart began to beat faster. She'd been around long enough to tell when Boss Hogg was cooking up one of his schemes, and she had a bad feeling she was right smack dab in the middle of one. "What d' you mean, Boss?" she asked, warily.
"Well, I just finished counting the register, and do you know what didn't find?"
"I didn't find $500 that should've been there."
Daisy looked at him as though he'd sprouted another head. "Boss, that's ridiculous! You know I'd never take any money outta here." She pointed to him. "More than likely it's gotten stashed in the wrong pocket."
He covered the pocket of his coat defensively. "Why, I never! You were the only one working today, weren't you?"
"You know I was, Boss," she said, angrily.
"Though...you know," he said, innocently, "I, in the gracious spirit of Christmas, am gonna give you a choice."
She glared at him, fully aware that she was being set-up and that there was nothing in the world she could do about it. "What's that, Boss?"
"You can either pay me restitution, including banking fees and such, to the tune of $750..."
"Boss!" she seethed, "You know good and well none of us Dukes have that kind of money!"
"Well, in that case, I might be persuaded to take over the farm as payment in full."
Daisy's eyes glittered with tears. "I never thought you'd stoop so low...to be doing this to us Dukes on Christmas Eve. Of all the low down, dirty..."
"Now, now, Daisy," he interrupted, "there ain't no need to spoil your Christmas over it. I'm gonna give you till the day after to come up with the money."
"Oh, and another thing...you're fired! Rosco, escort this riff-raff off the premises." He waved in her general direction and turned back towards the office.
Rosco watched him go, feeling badly for Daisy, but determined to go through with it nonetheless.
She turned her attention to the Sheriff. "Rosco, you know it ain't true."
The pleading in her voice nearly broke his heart, but he looked away from her. "I'm sorry, Daisy. I...I really am, but there ain't nothing I can do."
She grabbed her coat. "You're the law, Rosco," she reminded him. "You could if you wanted to."
The snow cascaded down upon Daisy, as she climbed into Dixie with a heavy heart. She'd gotten only a mile down the road before the shock of what Boss had done settled in. She pressed on through her tears, wanting to be home as soon as she could, and tried to focus on the road through the whirling flakes. Suddenly, a deer bounded in front of her. Her brakes locked when she swerved, and there was a violent shudder as Dixie hit a tree and died.
In shock, Daisy rested her forehead against the steering wheel and wept until she felt she had no more tears inside her.
"Dear Lord," she prayed, "I just don't know what to do. Sometimes I think everybody would just have been better off if I'd never been born."
A knock on her window nearly scared her senseless. She wiped off the fogged glass and a boy, perhaps twelve or thirteen, peered back at her from the other side. Her first thought was that she'd hit him as she rolled down her window.
"Oh my gosh! Are you alright?" She craned her head around as far as she could, but there was nothing but the deserted lane and the snow.
"I'm fine," he said, "cold though. Say, would'ja mind if I sat in your car for a little while?"
She looked down at him and couldn't help but smile. "What are you doing out in this kind of weather? Hop on in."
He scuttled around the Jeep and a moment later opened the passenger side door and climbed in. Daisy flipped on the dome light and saw a kid with carrot-red hair and a smattering of freckles across his nose and cheeks. He beamed back at her, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief. She figured he must be a run-away from the Sheridan Orphan's Home, but that was a good ten miles away.
"Alright, mister," she said. "I'll tell you what. I won't take you back to the orphanage tonight, but tomorrow I'm gonna have to. I'm sure they're worried sick about you, out in this storm and all."
"Oh, you don't have to do that, " he said, "I didn't come from the orphanage."
"Oh really?" she asked, doubtfully. "Where'd ya' come from then, and I'll drop you home. That is if I didn't wreck Dixie too much." She looked out over the hood, but couldn't see the grill from inside.
"Up there," he said, pointing towards the roof.
Daisy laughed at the joke. "Heaven, huh? Well, I'm sure we've got room for an angel for one night at the farm." She opened the Jeep's door. "I'm just gonna see how bad the damage is. I'll be right back."
She closed the door behind her, and walked around to the front of the Jeep, noticing that the snow had completely stopped. There was a large tree in front and Dixie's front bumper was just touching it. For all the crunching sounds and bumps, she couldn't find a scratch of damage on it. Confused, she got back in and shut the door.
"That's funny, " she said to herself, "I coulda sworn I'd hit that tree..."
"You did hit that tree."
"No, I couldn't have. There's not a scratch anywhere."
"Well, now there's not."
Daisy shook her head. "What was your name?"
"I don't have one."
"Fine, you don't have to tell me. Listen, I've had a rough day, and I just want to get home. I'd really appreciate it if you didn't play any games with me."
"Games?" he looked up at her, confused. "I'm not sure what you mean, Miss Daisy."
"I just... How do you know my name?"
He smiled. "Oh, I know everything about you," he explained. "Otherwise I guess I wouldn't be much help to you, would I?"
"You know, I think I'll go ahead and call the orphanage as soon as we get home 'cause I gotta tell you, you're scaring me just a little bit."
"I'm awful sorry about that," he said. "It's probably because I'm new at this."
"New at what?"
"At being an angel, of course."
Daisy stared at him for a long moment. "I must've bumped my head or something." She turned the key and to her relief the engine roared to life. Carefully, she backed out of the shallow ditch, put the Jeep in drive, and headed off down Mill Road towards the farm. As much as she loved kids, a boy with no name claiming to be an angel was at the bottom of the list of things she felt like dealing with. She'd feed him, let Uncle Jesse give him the "grow up and make something of yourself" talk, and then drop him back at the orphanage...or the psych ward at the hospital.
They were almost to the farm when the boy spoke again.
"Where are you going?"
"If you're going to the old Duke Place, there won't be anybody there."
"I don't know what you're talking about. Uncle Jesse and the boys stayed home today. Now, listen, you'd better stop with this 'angel' nonsense before you get there. Uncle Jesse don't hold with making light of the Good Book or anything in it," she said, longing for her cozy kitchen. "We're almost there. Just right around the next curve. See..."
An eerie feeling crawled up her spine as she turned off on the drive down towards the house. No smoke swirled up from the chimney, and neither Uncle Jesse's pickup or the General Lee were anywhere to be seen. The closer she got, the more wrong everything seemed.
Daisy's hands shook as she opened the door and climbed out. It could barely be called the same house that she'd left only that morning. Most of the window panes in the front had been smashed, and the unbroken ones were grimy and dark. A front post by the door had splintered, causing the porch to sag to one side. The front door hung open on broken hinges, and even the wooden steps that Bo and Luke had built were gone, replaced by the rocks that had served the same purpose before that. She swore they were even the same rocks...
She felt as though she were walking through a dream, her legs taking her forward of their own accord towards the porch.
"Uncle Jesse!" she called. "Luke...Bo...?"
She ran up the steps and into what should have been the kitchen. The house was gutted and desolate. Nothing remained - no stove, no table, even the cabinets and counter-tops were missing. Where the floorboards had not rotted through, puddles rain water stood, slowly rotting the wood that was left. Chunks of sheet-rock hung from the ceiling, water-logged and covered in black mold.
"Uncle Jesse!" she cried again, but the only answer was the wind, keening softly through the ruined farmhouse. "Where is everyone?"
She couldn't grasp it at all. She sank to her knees on the kitchen floor. Remembering the strange boy and his uncanny prediction, she turned to find him standing in the doorway "What's happened here? How did you know..."
"That's what I've been trying to tell you, Miss Daisy," he said, softly. "They aren't here."
"This is a dream," she whispered. "A crazy, horrible dream, and I need to wake up." She closed her eyes and concentrated, giving her arm a painful pinch.
"It's not a dream," he said. "Your uncle died October 18, 1968, when his car flipped over the ravine on Ridge-Runner Road while he was coming home from a bootlegging run. Deputy Ledbetter was chasing him, and his foot slipped off the brake at Dead Man's Corner. Luke and Bo became wards of the state and never saw each other or Hazzard again."
Tears sprang to her eyes. There was only one explanation for what was happening to her. "I hurt myself pretty bad when I hit the tree, didn't I?" Her heart ached for her family, who must have found her dead or dying on Christmas Eve. Was this what a coma was like? The thing was, if this was a dream...it was so real. She could feel the roughness of the wooden planks beneath her hands, the cold sting of the wind against her cheeks...
The boy took a deep breath. Humans seemed to have a way of not believing things, even if they were right in front of them. "You're not hurt, and you didn't hit your head. Please, try to calm down, and I'll do my best to explain."
Daisy watched him suspiciously, waiting for him to continue.
"After you swerved and hit the tree, you told God that you thought that everyone would be better off if you'd never been born. So, here it is..."
"Here what is?"
"What the world would be like if you'd never been born." The boy's blue eyes met hers. "On that day in October of 1968, you were sick in bed with a fever. Your uncle asked Moses Davenport to take his run that night so that he could stay home with you because you were more important to him than moonshine."
Daisy remembered that night, and how Uncle Jesse had brought her crushed ice to eat and stayed by her bed until she'd fallen asleep. How would anyone else know about that? "I had chicken-pox...," she murmured.
"But because you were never born, Jesse Duke lost his life that day."
She jumped up suddenly. "No...no...this is all a trick!" She ran down from the porch and back to the Jeep.
"Miss Daisy, where are you going?" the boy called after her.
"I'm going to see Rosco and give him a piece of my mind! This time he and Boss have gone too far, and as for you... I've had enough of your shuck-an'-jive, kid!"
She sped away in Dixie, as the boy raised his eyes up towards the sky. "She's a stubborn one, alright."