A/N: This is it friends and dear readers...the last chapter. There will be an epilogue later (i.e., when I get around to it), but this is the end of the main storyline.

It saddens me to be leaving the world of 'Halls of Stone and Iron' behind. It's been a long journey. I hope, as it draws near to its close, that it has brought you enjoyment: both with tears and laughter. Thank you, again, from the bottom of my heart for all your support and reviews.

The first chapter of my new story, "Evergreen' has now been posted.


Chapter 83: Birds Gotta Fly

"I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright.
And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still,
the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone."
- Red Redding, The Shawshank Redemption (Stephen King)

"A novel is a confession to everything by a man who has never done anything." - Mark Twain


Enos stepped down into the yard, outside the glow cast by the porch light, and wandered across the road, kicking at rocks in the dark which skittered over the dirt. Across from him, the hill sloped upwards, ending at the fence line which sat between the Duke land and a parcel owned by Mr. Hogg. The stickerweeds caught at his pant legs as he waded through the knee high grass. When he was a boy, this rise had seemed impossibly tall, back when he had played king of the mountain in the drowsy days of summer, standing at the top and looking down on the small farmhouse that was his castle.

Now it was just a hill like any other - worn down, not by weather or wind, but by the rite of passage from boy to man.

At the top, he turned and sat down against the fence post. Darkness filled the valley below, and, except for the house with its warm, steady glow, there was nothing but inky blackness. He closed his eyes, smelling pine sap mixed with damp leaves, and a freshness that only came from being far, far away from the urban sprawl of a big city. The wind had died down to a steady breeze and the heat of late July forgotten in the cool of nightfall.

An owl called from the thicket behind him, but another sound, as soft as the beating of a heart from this distance, made him smile. It tugged at him...pulled at him...whispered to him, and he knew that he could go to it and disappear, and the knowing was what made him able to stay.

The train passed on, and he opened his eyes at the creak of the porch door, watching as she stepped down and dissolved into the night. It seemed wrong to break such a perfect stillness, and so he waited.

"Wrong way," he whispered, as her shadow darted around the barn.

A moment later, she doubled back, standing silently in the light to scan the unseen land around her. For an instant her eyes unknowingly met his, and then drifted past. He whistled a bobwhite call, and her attention snapped back to where he sat. She started towards him. The grass hissed rhythmically on the hill below, growing closer until she sat down beside him.

She leaned her head against his shoulder, and for a long time, neither spoke.

"A part of me wishes I could just run away," he said, at last. "You and me and never come back."

Her hand found his. "I know. But you wouldn't be able to live with yourself if you did. Wilburn said for you to take some time," she reminded him. "Maybe we should get away for a little while. We'll tell everyone it's our honeymoon so they won't worry, and we'll leave and not think about Hazzard or any of this."

He smiled to himself. Leave it to Daisy to find the answer when all he could see where the two extremes. He wished he could take this moment and preserve it forever: like a flower pressed under glass, to remember how she made him feel and how much he loved her. "Where should we go?"

"Alaska," she said, decisively, her voice brimming with excitement. "We never made it there, and I'd like to see it. Just once, anyway."

"Alaska." The word felt strange on his tongue. "How do we get there? We ain't grown wings yet."

"We can take a plane to Anchorage and fly from there to Nome, and then we'll be as far away from everything as we can possibly get. And we'll stand at the edge of the world and look out over the Bering Sea, just the two of us."

"You sound like somebody who's read too many of them mushy romance novels."

She chuckled and elbowed him. "Maybe, I have."

He hesitated to say what was on his mind, not wanting to quell her happiness. "There's someone I have to talk to first," he said, "but I'll have to wait for the next night it rains."

"Someone." Her heart quickened. The early field corn was already in; another six weeks and it would be the beginning of prime bootlegging season. "Someone who will only be home when it rains, because otherwise they'd be out in the woods running a still?"

"Something like that," he murmured.

Daisy found herself torn between wanting to know everything, and wanting to let it go. He made it sound like a burden he'd rather not carry. "Should I not ask?"

He laid his arm around her shoulders and hugged her to him. "Whoever killed Darcy saved my life or, at the very least, they saved me from going back to prison. I need to know if I'm right about who it was and that they-"

"Got rid of the evidence?"

"That they know not to talk to me, or anyone else, about it. Ever. They deserve a warning, and it's the only chance I'll get to give it."

He could only mean one person. As the officer in charge of all things related to Darcy, he would be duty bound to arrest her if he found solid evidence. She leaned her head back to look at him, a shadow against her in dark, and kissed his cheek. "Do what you need to do, sugar."

He sighed against her hair, grateful that she understood. "As soon as that's done, we'll go, and that's a promise."

They planned their new adventure while the moon and stars traveled their courses above them. In the morning, they packed their travel-worn backpacks and set them in the closet, but it was eight days before the rains fell again.


The window seat was quiet and cozy, the notebook on her lap lit by the soft, warm glow of the lamp behind her. Amy McCullum leaned her head against the window and imagined standing on top of Starr Mountain with the storm raging about her. The glass melted away and she was there, with the rain beating down like BB's, stinging her face while the wind tore at her. A flash of lightning crackled across the sky, throwing light across the rocky edge.

She bent her head to the paper in her lap and scribbled:

... He stood at the edge of the mountain as the world stretched away in a kaleidoscope of trees and rocks. Far below, the Tennessee River burned with the last light of the dying sun. The wind pushed him gently, like the hand of a mother. Beyond was life and dreams: perhaps love again. Behind him lay death in its cold and silent shroud.

The taste of blood filed his mouth as the memory came again. The gruesomeness of the death had been expected, but it was the look in the man's eyes, a surprise that was almost childlike and innocent, that would haunt him forever - no matter that it had been justified. He had wanted him to go down as he had lived his life, spewing vile threats and indecent promises, not with a frightened whimper and tears and the stench of hot urine. It had made him second guess himself, in those seconds between life and death as the weight of the trigger rested against his finger. Then he remembered what the man had done to her, and of the life he had stolen. Given the same choice, he would kill him again and gladly.

She sighed and closed the notebook, sticking the pen into the spiral binding, and tossed it gently to the far end of the bench. The clock struck the half-hour, and she stretched her stiff muscles. The biggest problem with writing was that large chunks of time seemed to dissolve into thin air while doing nothing. Running a still was certainly better exercise.

A flash of lightning lit the sky and, for a moment, she could see the clouds boiling beyond the darkness. A BOOM! of thunder shook the house to its foundations and the lamp flickered and went out.


It was after 9:30pm by the time Enos pulled onto Ridgerunner Road. The wind and rain, which had been spotty at best all evening, had turned wicked after dinner, and the weather man had read off a list of counties under a tornado watch until 11:00pm that night. Hazzard was not among them; the worse of the storms followed the path of the Chattahoochee River further to the west, but he still managed a good drenching between the porch and the car when he left the farm.

The rain lashed at the windshield, the wipers sweeping rivers side to side as he looked for the McCullum's hidden driveway. He slowed at their mailbox and turned, thinking of all the bad news that came late at night to moonshiners from someone in a patrol car. He parked and shut off the engine, and the house disappeared into the storm. The lines between past and present began to blur as he sat in the dark cocoon of the car and tried to think of what to say.

Fifteen years had passed since the last time he had spoken to Amy. He'd been in Los Angeles when her mother passed away, and by the time Rosco had mailed him the newspaper with her obituary, it was seven months old. The right thing, the polite thing, would have been to call or write...something, but it always got pushed until tomorrow. Then tomorrow was gone and past as well.

He pulled up the hood of Luke's raincoat and opened the door, slamming it just in case Amy hadn't seen him, yet, and found his way to the dark porch by way of the lightning in the sky. The wooden steps up to the porch were slick with mildew, and he took them slowly, reminding himself that scrambling around on trains hadn't cured him of his innate clumsiness.

Water dripped steadily from his hood as he knocked on the door and waited, falling on his cheeks and running down into the neck of his shirt. He shivered at the feeling, despite the warm night.

The door opened to Amy with a lantern in her hand. For a moment, they stared at each other, transfixed by their own emotions, separated only by the rain.

"Hi Enos," she whispered, at last.

"Hey, Amy." He waited. "Can I come in? It's kinda wet."

She blinked and shook off her paralysis. "Oh! Sure, sure. Sorry!" She opened the door for him, and he stepped past her. The water dripped around him in dark splotches on the rug. "If you wanna take your jacket off..."

He stripped off the raincoat, his eyes lingering on the shotgun propped beside the door before he held it out to her. "I'm sorry to barge in on you, hope that's okay."

"You know you're always welcome here, Enos," she said, as she took his coat and went to fold it over a chair in the kitchen. "Sorry, the power went out right before you drove up."

She came back into the living room and sat the lantern down on the low coffee table in front of the couch. "Pop's lantern's low on kerosene, so I hope it comes on pretty soon, otherwise I'm going to have to go fish the can out of the shed. Do you want something? Coffee or tea?"

"No, I'm alright." His eyes wandered around the shadowed living room. With the electric lamps off and only the lantern lit, it transformed into something more intimate, and he felt like an invader. This was her space alone now, and he missed the liveliness and laughter which used to fill it. His heart felt an acute and sudden loss over her mother, which he had not felt when reading the impersonal obituary. He ran his hand nervously through his hair. "Amy, I need to talk to you."

When he looked back, her eyes were filled with regret, but also that same undefinable emotion he himself had felt at the bridge. "I can't talk to you, Enos," she said, softly. "You know that. I hear the news just as well as everyone else does, and I know Rosco gave you your badge back."

His eyes held onto hers, willing her to understand. "Do you trust me?"

"Of course I do," she said, without hesitation.

Wordlessly, he took the star from the pocket of his shirt and lay it down on the table beside the lantern. The flames danced across it, turning it from silver to gold. "Then trust me when I say that anything I hear tonight goes nowhere but me." He saw her brows knit in confusion and a frown pull lightly at her mouth. "I'm gonna be going away for a little while," he told her, "maybe a week, maybe a couple, but when I come back, the State's putting me in charge of looking into Darcy. That don't just mean his death, in fact the GBI's more worried about what he was doing in his free time. Apparently, he was running errands for some big shot criminal down in Atlanta...but that's beside the point. My point is that I can't protect you, unless I know you're the one that needs protecting."

"Keeping secrets is a hole with no bottom, Enos," she told him, flatly. "I can't let you do that to yourself. You have a job to do, and if for some reason I'm standing on the other side of that line and you have to go after me, I'm not gonna hold it against you. Moonshining doesn't exactly provide a stable work environment."

"That's not..." That's not what he wanted. "Ding dang it, Amy! I'm not talking about hauling you in for moonshining. I know it was you that left that truck there for me and Daisy when we got outta the mines, and set us up with Matt, and paid him with your own shine. I need to know if you killed Darcy. I was on my way to kill him myself when I found out he was already dead." His eyes drifted once more to the object beside the door.

"Careful, Enos, that sounds like a confession."

His jaw hardened in anger. "You didn't see those pictures, or how his eyes lit up when he talked about what he was going to do to you and Daisy." He harbored little doubt that it would haunt him forever. "If you didn't to it, I'll keep looking for who did."

The light flickered softly across her face. When she spoke, there were tears in her voice and pain in her eyes. "What do you want to hear, Enos?" she asked. "That it was self defense? That he threatened me?"

Hope bloomed in his heart as he remembered Uncle Jesse's rationale that self-defense was not murder. "Did he?"

"As I heard it, he threatened a lot of people, myself included."

Her answer wasn't an answer at all. "You're evadin' my question."

She brushed past him and grabbed the shotgun from beside the door. "You keep looking at this." The dark, oiled metal of the old Winchester 21 Side by Side shone richly in the lantern light and the walnut stock had worn smooth by the passing of many years. Her proficiency was evidenced by the way she held it.

"Amy..."

She thumbed the release lever to the side and broke it open, removing the shells from both barrels before she handed it to him. "Check it," she insisted. "It'll make you feel better."

He searched her face as he took the gun, but there was no hint of agitation or anger there. She knows it will haunt me if I don't, he realized.

He closed the gun, hearing the chunk of the well oiled latch as the barrels met the stock, then took a handkerchief from his back pocket and cleaned the inside ends of both tubes, noting that the chokes had been removed. There was no powder residue on the white cloth, and he let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. He handed it back to her.

"Look Enos," she sighed, setting it beside the door again, "if you're worried about something coming back to me, it won't. I'm sure whoever killed him is smarter than to ever talk about it, or to keep the clothes and shoes they wore, and I'm sure they cleaned their gun afterwards. Chances are, you'll never even see them again after they leave town."

His heart beat faster, knowing his instincts had been correct, and if this was the game she wanted to play, Enos was more than willing to play it. "That would be suspicious," he warned, "leaving town so soon after a murder. It would draw attention to them, especially if no one else suspected them. Even the State thinks it was a mob hit."

The ghost of a smile crossed her face. "I'm sure that's a relief, I mean, to whoever did it."

"They should know," he said, slowly, swallowing past the lump that rose in his throat, "that it meant a lot to me, what they did." In his mind, he saw Amy's platinum ringlets and delicate features splattered with Darcy's life blood. "I know how much it must have hurt them to take someone else's life. I can imagine that it haunts them, that it's always there, replaying itself, in the back of their mind. It wouldn't be right to make them suffer more, and if it's in my power to protect them, I will."

Tears blossomed in Amy's blue eyes as she stood there like the soldier she wasn't, trying her best to be brave and strong. He couldn't stop himself from hugging her. She tensed in his arms, and he wondered if he had made things more awkward between them. "I care about you a lot, Amy," he told her. "There's not a lot of people who I've ever been close to, and I don't want you to think that you mean nothing to me. You do."

She put her arms about him and hugged him back, resting her forehead briefly against his shoulder before stepping away, out of their embrace. He wiped the tears from her cheeks, but she shooed his hand away. "I'll be fine," she told him firmly, her eyes on his, a deeper meaning finding its mark. "Although, I do have to leave town. For a little while anyway."

He shook his head. "What for?"

Suddenly, the lights flickered and the house awakened. The table lamps came on, and the compressor to the air conditioning clicked and began a soft purr, freshening the stale air.

She grinned through the last of her tears. "Apparently, I have more skills than just moonshining, at least that's what Random House thinks."

The change in topic caught him off guard. "Huh? Who?"

"Hold on a second."

Before he could ask anything else, she ran down the hallway to where the bedrooms were. A moment later she came back in, carrying a book and a piece of paper. She handed him the paper.

He read:

"Dear Amy,
My staff has completed the review of "Under the Shine Moon" I am pleased to inform you that we think your work would make a positive addition to our list of new titles for the fall of 1985 here at Random House Publishing.

To begin the process of publishing your book with us, we have passed your file on to Veronica Maddox, Senior Publishing Services Consultant, whom you can reach at 410-848-1900. I am confident you will find my colleague both personable and knowledgeable. Please contact her this week to negotiate details and set up a personal Project Coordinator.

More information and procedures will follow in future correspondence. We look forward to working with you now and in all your future endeavors.
Sincerely,
Mark Wilhoit
Senior Managing Director, Random House Publishing Co. New York, NY"

He looked back up to where she was shyly biting her lip, her eyes bursting with pride, waiting on him to say something. "Did you write a book?"

She handed him the book she had brought in with her. A hardback: the weighty, expensive kind with premium binding. On the dust jacket was a beautiful painting of a full moon with "Under the Shine Moon" emblazoned across in raised silver letters. Below the title and the moon, a dirt road wound through the trees. And, gleaming in the moonlight, was...of all things...an early 1950's Hudson Hornet.

"Read the back. It'll tell you what it's about."

He turned it over.

When Sheriff Ben McKammon leaves Detroit for the small town of Babylon, Georgia, the last thing he expects is for big city crime to come with him. But when townsfolk begin dying, the race to catch the killer drags him back into his own past; to a time when he was just another moonshiner's son, and a world where justice is in the eye of the beholder.

New author, Amy Lynn McCullum, masterfully weaves the worlds of present and past together in this spellbinding, murder mystery thriller!

"Painfully beautiful depictions of life, love, and family." - Newsweek
"McCullum's storytelling keeps you on the edge of your seat in this gritty, psychological thriller!" - USA Today
"Under the Shine Moon will forever change the way you look at the culture of the Appalachians." - Atlanta Herald

"Possum on a gumbush!" He stared at her in awe. "Amy, you're famous!"

She laughed and shrugged. "Well, I think it's gonna take more than one book to make me famous," she said. "But I just wrapped up the second book in the series and Random House has already bought it. They're sending me on a book signing tour up in New England before the Christmas buying season starts. Do me a favor, though, don't spread it around everywhere, okay?"

"Why not!?" he asked in disbelief. "This is amazing!"

"Cause I'm perfectly happy living up here in the hills and not seeing anyone for days on end," she explained. "People already whisper behind my back when I go into town, this'll just make it worse."

He shook his head, still not understanding, and looked back down at the book. "Amy...," he felt his face heat. "The sheriff sounds...sort of familiar."

"Ben McKammon's my piece of you that you can't steal back from me. Although," she considered, sadly, "like all good characters, at some point he began to write himself, and I'm afraid he barely resembles his doppelganger anymore. Except people around Hazzard might figure it out, which is another reason I'd rather not have them gawking over it. Can you believe he even has his own fan club where people make up stories about him?" She paused and looked down at her hands which were nervously unfolding and refolding the letter. "I hope you're not upset." She sounded worried, self conscious. "Ben's a good cop...he's a hero."

He ran his fingers across the cover and the term coined by his father, feeling strangely as though he was seeing into another world - a version of his own that might have been had his father lived. Like peeking through the looking glass in Alice in Wonderland. He was reminded of his father's watch ticking silently against his wrist, and the love Daisy had shown him by having it repaired. In this book, another fragment would live forever.

And, he knew then that a part of him did love Amy - in a way - though it wouldn't be right to say it.

"I love it," he said, instead. He held the book out for her to take.

"No, that one's yours."

He tucked the book against his chest, and they stood in silence which began to feel uneasy. Everything they needed to say had been said.

Amy broke the stillness first. "So, you said you were leaving for a while," she prompted. "Where're you going, or can I not ask?"

"Alaska," he answered. "Nome, Alaska. The far end of the world, at least to me."

She smiled, knowingly. "Didn't get enough adventure, huh?"

"One last stop," he said, "then I reckon I'll have so much work, I won't be able to get away even if I wanted to." He looked down at his watch. It was after 10:30. "I've gotta go."

"Yeah, I know." She picked his badge up from the coffee table, her eyes silently asking permission before she stepped closer and pinned it over his heart. "Please be safe."

"I promise to try."

He took one last, long look at her - at the woman who had saved his life, and knew he could never come here again.


It was Daisy who found the inscription Amy had written in the front of the book, and while her heart felt a shadow of the old jealousy over Amy's affection for Enos, she wholeheartedly agreed with her words...

To Enos Strate ~ the real hero
Amy M.


"It's better than the Atlantic," said Daisy, shouting over the gust of wind that fluttered their parkas like sails on a ship. She gathered her tangled hair together and snapped an elastic band around it.

Except for the wind, the day was gorgeous, probably one of the best the beach would see that summer. The sea was flat and smooth, like a silver blue agate. Further down from them, a huge structure of driftwood rested where the tide had dragged it. It reminded Enos of the bones of an ancient ship.

They had been here for three days, arriving by prop plane into a world of gray overcast skies, wind, and waves. The dismal weather had been brightened by the cheery cabin they had rented. It was small and plain, but cozy and efficient, and they had made a good dent in the stack of firewood left beside the door for the stone fireplace.

And they were finally alone, which hadn't happened in a month of Sundays, it seemed. When Enos had told Uncle Jesse he missed their privacy, he hadn't realized just how keenly his heart had felt that loss until now. They didn't see much of Nome the first day.

He grinned up at her from where he sat in the exotic black sand, then grabbed her hand and tugged her down beside him. "You're right about that," he agreed. "Smells better, too. Less like an old aquarium."

She turned to peer at him through a piece of green sea glass which she held up to one eye. "I'm in love."

"With me or the Bering Sea?"

"Toss up."

He laughed. "I'm warmer."

"Hmm..." She kissed him softly. "Enos?"

"Uh huh?"

She sighed and gazed back out across the water, then scooped up a smooth rock and threw it into the sea. "I don't...," she hesitated, and blushed fiercely. "I mean... I don't know...how much have you got saved away?"

The question surprised him, but he supposed it was a subject that just hadn't come up before. "Enough that we don't need to worry about it, I guess. Why?"

"I don't wanna live at the farm forever."

"Me either," he said, relieved. "I was afraid you'd be upset if I said something."

She shook her head. "There's been so much going on lately, and there wasn't a good time to bring it up. Can you believe less than five weeks ago we were still in Montana?"

So much had happened between the beginning of July and now, the 6th of August, that Kansas, Utah, Montana, and Maine all seemed like something out of a very realistic dream. The last month had just about sucked the life out of him.

"I reckon there's been a year's worth of happenings stuffed into those five weeks," he said. "I'd like it if things would stretch themselves out a little more."

"No kidding. I'm sorry, I had to ask."

"Don't be sorry," he told her, squinting up at the sallow, hazy sun. It hung low on the horizon like a dim light bulb, though it was still early afternoon. "It's your business, too, Mrs. Strate. It just hasn't come up. Speaking of which, I should tell you...I talked to Gary before we left."

Her face grew overcast, like a sky before a storm, in anticipation of trouble. "Everything okay?"

"Oh, it's fine," he assured her, quickly. "More than fine, I suppose, depending on who you talk to."

"Well, don't hold me in suspense."

"The state legislature passed the bill for my compensation."

"That's great, Enos!" she exclaimed. "You deserve to get your back pay for everything you went through."

He frowned down at the pile of glittering black sand he'd been absently scooping together. "Oh, I got my back pay, alright," he said, cryptically.

"So...what's wrong, sugar? You sound upset. Why the long face?"

"What's wrong is that they tripled it and then added another zero onto the end. I had to go down to Mr. Amos at the Hazzard Gazette and bribe him with an interview on riding trains to keep it out of the paper."

She laughed in relief, and he grinned shyly at her. "Oh Enos," she chided him, "only you would be worried about having too much money. Just don't let Boss find out."

He lay back against the sand, wondering briefly how Mr. Hogg was doing, but more so how Rosco and Lulu were holding up. Rosco mentioned the doctors were worried that Mr. Hogg was getting a touch of pneumonia from being laid up for so long. Even with a younger person, that was no small matter.

"We'll have to stay in Hazzard County," he said, "since I'll be interim sheriff after Rosco retires. I thought we'd look around the northeast corner, if that's alright with you. Up past Drexel Road, away from town. It might take a while, but maybe we'll get lucky and find something we like."

She stretched out beside him, her head propped up on one elbow. "Something with plenty of room," she suggested. "You never know when you might need it."

His heart skipped a beat. "Are you tryin' to tell me something?"

"Not that I know of," she grinned, her eyes shining with mirth. "Not yet, anyway. I'll keep you posted."

A lock of sun-bleached hair blew into her face, and he threaded it behind her ear, brushing his thumb across the spray of freckles on her cheek. So much had changed since that summer day when they took him away from Hazzard to lock him up in a world made of stone and iron. The bond between them, once as dull and brittle as slag, had been refined in the crucible of pain and grief and loss, and poured out shining gold on the other side. If given the choice, he would go through it all again to be here with Daisy on a windy, weathered beach at the end of the earth.

"It was worth it, you know," he whispered, as she leaned her face into the warmth of his hand.

"What, coming here?"

"No." He shook his head as tears pricked his eyes. "Everything."

~
~~~The End~~~
~


A/N: I hope the ending was worth the 250,000 words before it! Thank you, again, for spending your time with me, and please consider leaving a review! Love to all - XOXO, WENN9366


ADDENDUM Author's Note...for those of you who want to know more (you can skip this, my feelings won't get hurt).

Things that inspired this story:

#1: The movie "The Next 3 Days" inpired the original plot of this story. The concept of an innocent person (for whom all the evidence is damning) being locked up forever, and their spouse, a straight and narrow, law abiding citizen, becoming an expert on how to break them out of prison and evade capture was riveting. I suggest this movie if you are ever bored in the evening.

#2: Tales of an American Hobo by Charles Elmer Fox or "Reefer Charlie": I found this at a sale of old, discontinued, library books at our county fair when I was still trying to figure out how Daisy and Enos could travel the country safely and surreptitiously. His stories, anecdotes, and first hand knowledge of being a lifelong hobo from the time he ran away from home in 1928 to when he retired in 1965 was not only the inspiration for Jack Cole, but also opened my eyes to how practical riding the rails could be to my story.

#3: Crew-change Guide. This, dear readers, is Jack's little black book. It does exist and has been secretly passed around the hobo community since the 1930's with updates every few years. It's a wealth of information and hard to find unless you do a lot of looking. You can download it in a compendium called the "Vagabond Bible" if you google "reddit" and "vagabond bible". It contains all sorts of amazing stuff, including the Crew Change guide, Railroad Atlas of America, Greyhound lines, and all sorts of hints on how to be a hobo and not get caught, killed, or starve. Awesome stuff and extremely helpful when writing this novel.

#4: Playlist: You can listen to the songs that inpired different scenes in this story if you search YT for "halls of stone and iron" Some are obvious, some not so much. (The song Seven Spanish Angels is where Daisy's nightmare in Chapter 46 came from). If I could choose only 1 song for this story, it would be "Anywhere" by Evanescence.

#4: YOU Sometimes I would sit for hours at my computer, wondering if anyone still cared about a story that hadn't been updated for 2 years. Your reviews let me know that someone out there was still reading (and hopefully enjoying) my work. Thank you so very much!

Original Characters:

I don't mind if you borrow my OC characters, as long as you let me know and credit is given to WENN9366 and the original story. The only exceptions are Sheriff Ben McKammon and the fictional town of Babylon, Georgia (from Amy's book). You may also use my stories as a springboard for your own. In fact, there are a lot of side plots that I didn't have time to flesh out, not to mention the fact that Enos is now opening a whole new can of worms by investigating Darcy's activities. Here's some things that I'd love to see a story about: Luke goes back to see Annie at Etowah station (I got the feeling those two were made for each other!), Otis Strate's murder (those of you who have read The Story of Us know more), Jack's history (he will show up in the epilogue), Dirk and Boo, and What Happens Next? Write a sequel!

Special thanks to KayCee1951 for having the courage to post her story, 'Secrets, Bittersweet Memories, and Dolly Parton Goodbyes'. During a long, dark time of no inspiration, her writing renewed my love for my own story. S&I might still be sitting at Chapter 70 without it!

I think that's it! Normally I wouldn't write a whole book as an author's note, but 8 years of writing demanded it.

Please leave a review!

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