[personal profile] psifi872

Author's Note: This story is a loving tribute to the wonderful James Best, aka Rosco P. Coltrane. This is a Dukes of Hazzard story. However, much of Rosco's characterization, the man behind the bumbling cop, is going to be based on some of his other roles, particularly his Westerns. Some of the roles I'm drawing on are Jeff Myrtlebank and Johnny Rob from The Twilight Zone, Bitter Creek Dalton from The Cimarron Kid, and Thorne Sherman from The Killer Shrews. However he should hopefully still be recognizable as a young, more idealistic version of Rosco.

Welcome to Hazzard County. See that pretty orange car tearing down the road? That's the General Lee and the handsome young men inside are Bo and Luke Duke. The pretty gal in the back seat is their cousin, Daisy. The patrol car hurrying after them is being driven by the sheriff, an older, but still handsome, gentleman named Rosco P. Coltrane. Rosco chases the Duke boys a lot, for lots of reasons, most of them not his own. What none of them admit to each other, or even much to themselves, is how much they enjoy these little chases. This is Hazzard County's idea of fun.

Bo gave a whooping rebel yell, his familiar yee-haw ringing in his cousin's ear. Luke shook his head, grinning.

"Uncle Jesse's gonna yee-haw our back sides, if we're late for dinner," Luke reminded him. "You better lose Rosco fast."

"Ten four on that," Bo said, grinning widely.

Bo increased his speed, heading for a more densely wooded area, where he could hide the General, until Rosco gave up. As Bo drove, Luke frowned, turning on the defroster. The day had been a mix of sunshine and clouds, but now the clouds were swiftly taking over.

"Looks like we got some rain ahead, boys," Daisy remarked idly.

"Sure does, cuz," Bo said, complacent in thinking they would most likely be home before the bad weather struck.

Unfortunately for Bo and his cousins, he's dead wrong about that. There's bad weather just up ahead for them Dukes. In other words, it's business as usual.

"All right, you Dukes!" Rosco said over the cb radio. "This weather is getting bad! You all just show sense for once and pull over!"

"No way, Rosco!" Luke responded, laughing shortly. "You want us, you gotta catch us fair and square!"

"I did that, before they put you on confounded probation. Now, it's getting ready to rain cats and dogs and that's just dangerous!"

"Aw, don't worry none, Rosco," Luke soothed, sardonically. "We'll have lost you and be safe at home, before the rain hits!"

Bo and Daisy couldn't help laughing, especially hearing Rosco squawk almost incoherently over the radio.

"Luke Duke, that was mean!" Daisy scolded playfully.

Luke just chuckled, shaking his head.

"We'll say sorry later," Bo suggested. "He ain't half wrong. This weather is getting worse...well, will you look at that?"

Luke and Daisy both peered out of the windshield. Sitting in the middle of the road was a dense, gray cloud. It was almost opaque, but there seemed to be lights flashing inside, though not bright enough to be lightning...not normal lightning, at least. Bo pulled to a stop just outside the cloud.

"Well, what do we do now?" Bo demanded.

"Only got two choices. We drive through or sit here and let Rosco catch us."

"Heck with that!" Bo swore. "How big can a cloud be? It'll probably disperse before we get through anyways!"

"Yeah, go for it!" Luke agreed.

Daisy sat back, scrunching down a bit in her seat. She trusted the General and her cousin even more, but the cloud was worrying. Bo hit the accelerator, just as Rosco came into view in the rear view mirror, his back end fishtailing as he struggled to stay on the road. Rosco pulled his patrol car to a halt, looking worried and confused.

Bo was right. By the time Rosco stopped, that ole cloud had completely disappeared. Bad news is...the Dukes had disappeared right along with it.

Rosco frowned. The General was fast, but he'd seen it go into the cloud and the road ahead was straight for the next few miles. He should have been able to see the General Lee. Rosco scanned the sides of the road for any sign of smoke or impact. Seeing no evidence that the Dukes had gone off on either side, he grabbed the cb.

"Dukes? You got yer ears on?" Rosco asked, then waited for a reply. "Luke? Luke, where are you?"

Rosco waited again, but the radio stayed silent. He began to truly worry. It wasn't like the boys to maintain radio silence, even in the middle of a chase. They rarely missed an opportunity to exchange insults, well banter really, with the local law.

"Boys? I ain't asking you to tell me where you are. Just come on and let me know you're all right. You can do that much, can'cha?" Rosco said, solemnly.

If asked, Rosco would say the Duke boys were a pair of ornery, untrustworthy criminals, who needed to be in jail. Truthfully, he knew they were decent boys, brought up well to be polite and considerate. There was no way they'd stay silent and worry anyone needlessly.

Rosco put down the cb and started driving, heading for the Duke farm. He'd had to tell Jesse Duke his nephews were gone once before. Then, he had been sure the boys had died, drowned in a pond. This time, he wasn't sure what had happened. Somehow, that made this particular duty even harder.

Don't be worrying about them Dukes. They're in one piece. For once, though, they're about to be as confused as Rosco.

Bo stopped the General again, looking around in confusion. They'd been on a country road, sure, but a fairly well-used one. Now the path they were on seemed to be not much more than a deer trail. The weather had cleared up completely too. The sun shone down bright and strong.

"What in tarnation is going on?"

"I don't know, but I don't like it."

"I only went straight!" Bo insisted.

"I know you did. Look, this has to still be Willow Creek, so the old mines are nearby. We can hide the General there and head for the Boars Nest. Maybe we can get some information from there."

"That's a good six miles away. Why are we walking?"

"Because if we run into anymore of those clouds, I want to be able to go around. I don't want to go through another one, until we find out what the first one has done to us."

The Dukes climbed out and set off down the road. About halfway to the Boars Nest, the Dukes came across a man trying to dig and tug his car out of a ditch. Bo whistled appreciatively at the old style Plymouth Fury. Except for some slight scratches from landing in the ditch, the car was in mint condition, painted a cheerful red with a white stripe.

"Howdy!" Bo called out, while still a way back. "Can we give you a hand?"

"That'd be neighborly of you," the old man agreed cheerfully.

Getting cars out of ditches is nothing new to any Duke. Even Daisy in her pretty blue dress gave a hand. Then, the boys changed the man's flat tire. See, they was raised to be helpful.

"I thank you folks kindly for your help. I'm Marty Stovall."

"I'm Tom Earl," Luke told him. "These are my cousins, John and Cathy."

"Pleasure to meet you all," Marty said. "Now listen. If'n I had got hold of Davenport, he'd've charged me twenty dollars for that job--and I AIN'T giving you a penny less. Not one penny. I can see yer travelling on foot. I ain't going far, but if you'll ride with me a few miles up this road, I'll be pleased to buy y'all a drink at a little place called the Boars Nest."

"Thank you, sir. We'll be honored," Daisy told him.

"Done then! Hop inside."

The Dukes obeyed, the boys climbing in back and letting Daisy take shotgun. Marty handed a few bills back to Luke, smiling kindly. Luke took the money with a polite thank you.

"Want some music?" Marty asked, turning on the radio.

The radio host announced Elvis Presley's latest hit, Jailhouse Rock, before the classic hit began playing. Daisy turned in her seat to check her cousin's reactions. Bo and Luke were staring hard at each other, each waiting for the other to confirm or deny what they had just heard. Finally they shrugged, accepting what they didn't understand.

"Y'all don't like Elvis?" Marty asked, confused.

"Oh, no, we like him just fine," Bo assured him.

"Ain't heard this one before?" Marty said. "It's only been out a week."

"That's right!" Luke confirmed. "Good song, though!"

"Sure is!" Marty said happily. "Ain't no one does a good song like Elvis."

In no time, Marty and the Dukes were pulling into the parking lot of the Boars Nest. The signing was a bit different, more old fashioned, but the building itself was much the same. A jukebox was pouring out more country hits of the time and voices were raised, some arguing, some laughing.

Marty led the Dukes, or Earls as they'll be known as, into the bar. He sat the Dukes down at a table near the front. A waitress came and took their order for a pitcher of beer.

"Now, I'll just enjoy the one beer with you, then I gotta be going. I still got a chore or two to get done. Tom, you got that twenty I gave you. You'll be all right from here?"

"We'll be fine," Luke assured him.

"Good. I'd hate to leave you young folks with no where to go," Marty said.

Lifting his glass to take a swig of beer, Marty managed to slosh some onto his shirt.

"Oops. Hang on, sugar, and I'll get a damp cloth from the bar," Daisy told him.

The barman heard and had a cloth waiting for Daisy, by the time she got to the bar, brushing past the few locals not seated. Daisy noticed one of the barflies was wearing a deputy badge and gave him a small smile. Seems the Dukes were always running into Hazzard County law. She took the cloth from the bartender and turned to go back. Standing in her way was a blond man of medium height. His face was flushed and he stared hard at her. Without saying anything, he grabbed the cloth and tossed it at Marty, almost hitting him in the face.

"Excuse me," Daisy told him, surprised and unhappy.

"He'll be fine. Why don't you come dance, pretty lady?" the man said, while some of the other patrons let out wolf whistles and laughter.

"I don't even know you," Daisy said, trying to inch past him.

"Name's Otis. Now you know me. C'mon. I wanna dance with you."

"Well, I'm sorry, but I don't want to dance. I'm trying to have a drink with my cousins and my friend."

"That ain't very friendly of you to me," Otis insisted, sliding a hand down her arm.

Daisy pulled away, grimacing, and turned to the deputy at the bar.

"Deputy? This man's had one too many. Could you give me a hand please?"

"Why don't you just dance with him?" the deputy asked, chuckling.

Several of the locals stood up, clapping and laughing. Bo and Luke stood, trying to push through the crowd, but some of the men shifted, blocking them. Several others boo'd, urging Otis to leave Daisy alone. They tried to clear a path for the boys, but with no luck.

"I said no," Daisy said firmly, once more trying to get past Otis.

Otis grimaced and grabbed her arm.

"Why'd you come here, if we ain't good enough for you, huh?" he snarled.

"I never said you weren't good enough," Daisy snapped.

Daisy considered kicking the man, but the deputy changed her mind. The last thing she and the boys needed was trouble with the law...not in this place and time and not with the General hidden away. Instead, she placed a hand on Otis' chest and shoved, while yanking her arm away. Unfortunately, Otis shoved at the same time and Daisy landed on the floor in a heap.

"I'm gonna have that dance, girl," Otis snarled.

The deputy laughed out loud, taking a deep drink of his beer. Daisy watched as the people in the bar drew up into sides. She could see a fight brewing fast, especially with the way Bo and Luke were glaring. She tried to back up, but some men were suddenly behind her. The locals shouted back and forth, some urging Daisy to just dance all ready, others telling the aggressors to leave her alone. Daisy waited for the barroom to erupt, wondering who would throw the first punch.

The sound of a single gunshot brought silence to the barroom. Everyone looked towards the door, eyes wide and hearts pounding. Daisy looked up from her spot on the floor and her jaw dropped slightly. Standing in the door, gun hand held out and pointing outside, was a tall man with dark brown hair and cold blue eyes. He was handsome and tanned, with a tall frame and long limbs, wearing a plain blue, button-up shirt and a white cowboy hat. A sheriff's star was pinned on his shirt, over his heart.

If you're wondering why the Dukes don't look happier, it's because they know this fella. He may be some twenty to thirty years younger than usual, but they all know Rosco P. Coltrane, when they see him. Bet you didn't recognize him, did ya?

The young Coltrane didn't show much interest in the Duke boys. Instead, the sheriff let his long stride carry him through the parting crowd to the back of the bar, where he stood glaring at his deputy. Neither man said a word. The sheriff didn't need to, his anger and disappointment coming off of him in waves. Finally, Deputy Hardgrove dropped his eyes, backing up an inch or two. Rosco grimaced and turned to the men standing closest to Daisy.

"Y'all back off," he ordered, sternly.

Bo and Luke watched anxiously, surprised when the farmers and moon runners obeyed. They were even more surprised to see Rosco approach Daisy and reach out his hand to her.

"C'mon," Rosco coaxed gently. "It's all right now, miss."

Daisy took a breath, before taking Rosco's hand. He gave her a reassuring smile, pulling her firmly to her feet, then guiding her to sit on a bar stool.

"I'm sorry for their bad manners," Rosco said to Daisy, solemnly.

"I ain't sorry," Otis retorted.

"You, hush!" Rosco snapped. "Otis Beauford, you're drunk and meaner than a rattle snake. Get home, if'n you don't want to be arrested for disturbing the peace."

Now, Beauford was drunk and mean, but he wasn't stupid. He knew Rosco wasn't bluffing. Beauford hated the law and back then? Rosco was Beauford's least favorite kind of police--the honest kind.

"Seems to me we had plenty of peace, before these strangers showed up," another local commented.

"Get to know 'em, instead of harassing them, and they won't be strangers no more," Rosco said. "If you're drunk enough to say things that stupid, Carl, then you oughtta run along home too."

"I gotta right to drink here, same as anyone," Carl argued, stubbornly.

"I gotta right to hold you in jail for forty-eight hours, before pressing charges. You don't get uppity about your rights and I won't get uppity about mine."

Luke almost laughed at that. Rosco, in Luke's experience, wasn't usually that witty. He certainly never made such quick comebacks, when arguing with Bo and Luke. He choked his laughter back, really hoping to avoid Rosco's attention. Rosco watched Carl storm out, then turned his attention back to the deputy.

"As for you, Deputy Hardgrove," Rosco continued. "Don't ever let me catch or even hear of you letting someone harass a lady, much less participating in it! You do and I'll do worse than just have your badge. You hear me?"

"Yes, sir," Hardgrove answered, sulkily.

"Good. Now GIT!"

"I ain't drunk!" Hardgrove complained.

"Yeah, but right now I can't stomach the sight of you."

Hardgrove tried for a moment to hold Rosco's contemptuous gaze, but he couldn't quite do it. After a moment, Hardgrove grabbed his hat off the bar and marched out of the building, same as the other two. Once he was gone, Rosco relaxed, leaning against the bar and taking off his own hat to set it down near where Hardgrove's had been.

"I'm Sheriff Rosco Coltrane. I am sorry about all that. We ain't usually so unfriendly around here."

"That's okay, sugar," Daisy assured him, smiling. "I appreciate your help."

"My pleasure and my duty, miss."

"I'm Cathy Earl and it's a real pleasure to meet you," Daisy said, flirting just a bit. "You ever get to go off duty, Sheriff?"

"I catch a break now and then," Rosco said, chuckling lightly, the sound far different from his familiar staccato noise. He removed his sheriff's badge and stuck it in his pocket. "I think now's a good time, if the rest of these fellas behave."

The boys rolled their eyes and walked over. When they reached Daisy, Luke cleared his throat. Daisy jumped a bit, giving her cousins a sheepish smile.

"Sheriff Coltrane, these are my cousins, Tom and John Earl."

"Nice to meet you," Rosco said, holding out his hand once more.

Luke took Rosco's hand, giving it a firm shake. The gesture felt odd, but not bad. After all, the man had just defended Daisy. Bo followed suit, giving a quick grin.

"Good to meet you, Sheriff," Bo said cheerfully.

"Yeah, thanks for helping Cathy. We appreciate it."

"You're welcome."

Marty Stovall came over, looking sheepish.

"These nice folks are with me, Rosco. They, uh, helped get me out of a ditch."

"One of these days, Marty, some ditch is gonna have your name written on it," Rosco said, pointedly.

"Naw, Sheriff," one of the locals, Sammy, quipped. "He's much more likely to put himself into the side of a mountain!"

"Just as dead, either way," Rosco said dryly. "Y'all might be careful, out on the road. Crazy driving is sort of a way of life, in these parts."

"Like you got any room to talk," Marty laughed, teasing.

"Well, I couldn't do my job, if I wasn't able to keep up with you, could I?"

"Oh, yer joooooob," Sammy drawled. "Don't you folks believe him none. He's just as fond of fast cars and a good race as the rest of us. See, Sheriff Coltrane here is a local boy and them things is just in his blood."

The Dukes waited for Rosco to lose his patience, but the man just grinned, shrugging.

"What of it, Sammy? You saying just because I'm law that I ain't allowed to enjoy my work?"

"A person oughta enjoy what they do," Daisy agreed.

"Only thing you being law means is that yer touched in the head," Sammy said dryly. "And, we've all known that since you was in grade school."

"Ain't nothing wrong with being law," Luke disagreed, thinking of his friend back home, Deputy Enos.

"That's right. Gotta have law, just like ya gotta have criminals. That's just nature, balancing things out," Marty said, wisely.

"Do you fellas race or just tear around ignoring the speed limit?" Luke asked.

Rosco snorted.

"They wouldn't know a speed limit, if it bit them."

"Yeah, we race," Sammy said, ignoring Rosco. "You interested?"

"Well, we would be, if we had a car," Bo said, regretfully.

"Ain't that a shame," Rosco said, dryly.

Marty seemed to think for a moment, then shrugged.

"Aw, what the heck! You can use my car. Them chores ain't goin' nowhere."

"You sure?" Luke asked, a bit surprised at the generous offer.

"Sure I'm sure!" Marty insisted. "Gotta let yerself have a bit of fun, now and then. Which of you's the better driver?"

"That's me!" Bo said, grinning. "Who would I race?"

Rosco surprised the Dukes by laughing, a far different sound than the gyuck-gyucking they were used to. Rosco pushed his hat back, shaking his head.

"All of 'em that ain't too drunk to get behind their wheels," Rosco told them. "You think they'd pass this up?"

"That's right. I bet two dollars them new boys make it to third place or better," Sammy said.

"You're nuts!" a voice cried out. "They won't make it past fifth."

Marty Stovall took out a paper and began writing down the bets. Luke judiciously bet only three of their twenty dollars, though he knew they stood a good chance of winning, even without the General Lee. Everyone handed their money over to Rosco, who took it with an eye roll. The Dukes considered that fairly good grace on his part.

"Where we gonna race at?" Daisy asked.

"Oh, dang!" Marty cried. "Anyone got a map? Keep turning right makes a pretty good circle, leading back here, but we gotta show the Earls."

Everyone looked around, but no one volunteered a map.

"Aw, heck, Marty," Sammy scoffed. "Why you need a map? Ain't you gonna be driving with them? You can tell them when to turn, just don't wait too long. Navigate 'em!"

Marty hesitated, staring over at Rosco, who shrugged.

"Don't look at me," Rosco instructed. "Ask the Earls if that's all right."

"Shouldn't be too hard, since they'll be following the rest of us," another man chimed in.

"Not if we're winning," Bo argued, but shrugged. "Heck, though, why not? I'll trust Marty to navigate."

"Good, good. You're refereeing, ain't ya, Rosco?"

Rosco nodded, turning to Daisy with a wry smile.

"Guess it's a good thing I didn't order a beer. Round here, refereeing means riding along."

"Well, you wouldn't want to miss out on all the fun," Daisy said, grinning.

"No, I don't reckon I would."

"Daisy, would you mind riding with Rosco?" Marty asked. "It might not hurt to have two sets of eyes on everyone. Poor Rosco can't look everywhere at once and keep his own eyes on the road."

"That sounds like an attempt to protect the 'little lady,'" Daisy said, smirking. "However, since I won't be any safer with the sheriff, as he'll be keeping up with y'all, I'll do that. Assuming he doesn't care."

"Uh, no, I don't mind," Rosco agreed, a bit awkwardly.

Smiling, Daisy threaded her arm through his.

"All right, fellas, get your engines going and let's get this show on the road!"

Rosco escorted Daisy outside. He led her to his patrol car and opened the passenger door for her. Daisy climbed in. The car wasn't that much different from the one he drove in his future. The dash and cb radio were less advanced, but everything was in the same place. Daisy looked at all the old fashioned cars. Some had fins and some didn't. Most of them were fairly long sedans.

Daisy put her seat belt on and settled back in her seat, as Rosco climbed in behind the wheel. He looked over at her for a moment and Daisy noticed that Rosco was faintly blushing. She gave him a friendly smile and the sheriff ducked his head a bit, turning the movement into a search for his own seat belt. He buckled in and started his car.

Once all the cars were started, Rosco gave three short honks of his car's horn. A moment later he gave two, then finally pressed down heavily, giving one long burst. Ceasing, Rosco threw his car into gear and followed the leading cars out of the parking lot. Daisy gave an excited laugh, watching the other cars peel out of the lot, jockeying for position and burning rubber. Rosco grinned at her.

"You ever done something like this before?" he asked.

"Something like this," Daisy agreed.

"Keep an eye on that green car," Rosco advised, pointing to a green Bel Air, with tall fins and a rounded roof. "That's Sammy. He's a good guy, but he don't always have a lot of sense."

"Sure thing."

"Hey, Rosco," Sammy said over the cb. "Keep up, Sheriff! Ya can't decide who wins, if you fall into last place!"

"Don't you worry about me," Rosco answered. "Just keep up yerself. Forget the Earls. You won't even beat Tizdale, the rate yer going."

Despite his words, Rosco laid on more speed, keeping to the outside of the road, until he was in among the front runners. He noticed the Earls and Marty were close to the front, with only two or three other cars keeping up with them. A silver VW Beetle swerved rapidly sideways, cutting Rosco off and forcing him more towards the middle of the road.

"WHOOO! Watch out there, Sheriff. That almost had your name on it!" Bo added to the radio chatter.

"You're tellin' me?" Rosco responded, showing the first hints of irritation. "Lewis, quit trying to dent up my car! I ain't racing, if you'll recall!"

"Sorry, Rosco, but Danny was blocking me."

"Well, find a way around him that doesn't include side-swiping me!"

"Yeah, you don't get points for taking out the referee!" Bo agreed, before swinging around one of the few cars in front of him.

Daisy laughed, taking the cb from Rosco.

"That's surprising, coming from you, cousin! Come on, you fellas at the back! You bet money that you could take 'em. Show us what you got!"

"That ain't exactly objective," Rosco observed.

"Well, they are my kin," Daisy admitted. "Besides, I was just offering encouragement."

"Oh, believe me, they're encouraged," Rosco said, dryly.

"Why, thank you, Sheriff," Daisy said saucily, swallowing a laugh, when the lawman blushed again.

"You seem to have lit a fire under some of them boys," Bo said, laughing. "They still ain't gonna catch us, though!"

"John Earl, put that radio down and keep your hands on your wheel," Rosco ordered.

Listening, Luke and Marty laughed.

"Hush up and drive, boy," Marty paraphrased, cackling.

"Yes, sir," Bo said, with good humor.

"Okay, first turn is up on the right boys, just past that willow hanging off into the road."

"I'm on it!" Bo promised, working his way further to the right.

"He's good," Rosco admitted, watching Bo succeed in claiming a spot closest to the inner section of the turn.

"Your local boys are good too. That Sammy is doing pretty well for himself."

"Yeah, long as he concentrates. Still early though."

A sudden bang caught their attention and Daisy watched as Lewis swerved his car off the road, coming to a halt. Rosco snatched up his cb.

"Lewis! You all right?"

"Yeah, I'm okay. Y'all can keep going. I just got a flat, dang it."

"Well, you wait in your car, until everyone gets past you. No point in taking chances."

"Roger that, Rosco. See you at the Boar's Nest."

"Ten-four. Holler if ya need anything."

Well, now, ain't that sweet? Rosco might just be full of a few surprises for them Dukes.

Now things were getting more intense. A few cars were hanging back, having admitted defeat to themselves. Sammy and the Dukes were almost neck to neck, with only one or two other cars coming close to them. Marty got them around the next turn.

"Rosco really is keeping up pretty good," Luke praised, a bit surprised. The Rosco he knew would have wrecked by now.

"It's like Sammy said. This kinda thing is in that boy's blood. He may be law, but his family tree has its fair share of moonshiners and bootleggers in it."

"Fair point," Bo agreed.

The race was going fairly well, but the Duke's luck never did hold for long. Up ahead, Bo spotted seven cows, milling about in the center of the road. Luke grabbed up the cb.

"Everyone, put on your brakes. We got cows in the road!"

Fortunately, no one was dumb enough to argue. All ten cars came to a screeching halt, though there were a few who used the situation to pull just a bit closer to the front. Rosco ended up parked right behind Marty and the boys. He climbed out, took a good look at the cows, and burst out laughing, startling the Dukes. They weren't used to seeing him in such a good mood.

"Welcome to Hazzard County. Y'know, I talk to other sheriffs and they never mention having stuff like this happen to them."

"Maybe they just don't want to admit it," Luke offered.

"Yeah. I wouldn't blame them neither. Good thing there's only one farmer with cows along this stretch. Come on. We need to herd them back to the left."

Everyone worked together and it only took half an hour to get the cows moving off in the right direction, despite the dumb beasts wanting to go every which way. They all heaved a sigh of relief and some laughter, when the last one was off the road. Rosco waited for the racers to get back into their cars, then gave three more blasts on his horn to start the race again. Everyone was off and running.

After the next right turn, the road got worse. The other areas had been fairly dry, but this section ran next to a creek and the rain from last week hadn't drained off yet. The racers found themselves slipping on mud. All cb chatter died, as the drivers focused on keeping from sliding about too much. Rosco kept pace with Danny, who was in third place. Bo had been pushed back to second, with Sammy and another driver tied for first. Everyone had their windshield wipers on to clear away spitting mud.

Bo concentrated, his grip firm on the wheel. He was on the left towards the outside and determined to work his way back onto the right. He gave a cheerful yell, when a patch of mud sent Sammy's competition sliding back and to the left. Bo put on a bit more speed, not quite catching up to Sammy, but moving to the far right. As they got around a curve in the road, Bo's stroke of luck looked like a bad one. The rain and flooding from the creek had built up a huge pile of dirt and rock, right in Bo's path. Both checked his sides, but there was no way he could safely swerve far enough to the left to avoid the pile. Smiling determinedly, Bo aimed the car at the pile head-on.

"Tarnation!" Marty yelled. "John, stop!"

"Sorry, Marty, too late now!" Bo told him.

"Oh, shoot fire!" Rosco swore, alarmed.

"He'll make it," Daisy said, as much to herself as to Rosco.

All the racer's watched as Marty's car went flying into a perfect jump, sailing past Sammy to take the lead.

Now, there's a familiar sight, even if it isn't the General Lee. Don't it seem odd that Rosco's siren ain't goin'?

Marty and the boys landed perfectly a few feet in front of Sammy and tore off down the road, turning at the last right. Unheard by each other, the other drivers laughed and cheered, even Rosco, while the few passengers clapped and hollered.

"That fella could almost be professional!" Rosco praised, grinning.

"Gonna tell him that?" Daisy challenged playfully, but Rosco just shrugged, relaxed.

"Sure. No reason why not."

Daisy smiled, trying to hide her surprise and confusion. She tried to examine Rosco out of the corners of her eyes. The last thing she wanted was to get caught staring. Rosco wasn't paying her any mind, his eyes fixed on the road and the cars ahead. Daisy gave a whoop of triumph, as they watched Bo pull into the parking lot of the Boars Nest.

Rosco pulled up alongside Marty's car. He quickly hopped out and opened the passenger door for Daisy.

"There ya are, Miss Earl."

"Thank you kindly, Sheriff," Daisy said, grinning at him as she went quickly around his car to give Bo and Luke hugs.

Rosco went inside and ordered himself a beer. He watched cheerfully as the locals and the newcomers poured back into the bar. Everyone gathered around him and Rosco counted out the money to the winners, giving another forty dollars to Luke. Some of them boys had bet big.

"There you go, fellas. Welcome to Hazzard County. I was telling your cousin you boys should consider going professional."

"Well, shucks, thanks, Sheriff," Bo said, blushing a bit from the praise. "You other fellas certainly gave us a good race!"

The barroom filled with cheers, clapping, and calls for more beer. Daisy rejoined her cousins and Marty, who agreed to drop his new friends off at the Hazzard Hotel.

Well, the Dukes ain't doing so badly, for having got dropped into the past, practically on their backsides. Of course, tomorrow is another day and Hazzard County always seems to have surprises in store. Maybe we oughta go check and see how Rosco is doing back in the present, uh, future? Heck, you know what I mean.

The older Rosco has been trying to get a good night's sleep. Bad enough he somehow lost the Duke boys. Now, he's having strange dreams, only the dreams almost feel like memories.

Rosco dragged himself into the county courthouse, stretching uncomfortably. Two days the Dukes had been missing and there was no evidence to suggest what had happened to them. He sighed, sending up another heartfelt prayer that they were all right.

"Rosco! Get in here! We got business to conduct!" J.D. Hogg bellowed, sharply.

"I'm comin', Boss," Rosco assured him, swallowing a yawn.

Rosco went into Boss Hogg's office and took a chair, trying to blink himself further awake. Boss studied Rosco, not liking what he saw. His sheriff and brother-in-law looked exhausted and worried. Blast those Dukes! Things so rarely went well, whenever they were around, and now their absence was causing trouble too!

"Rosco," Boss told him, "you have got to stop brooding about them Dukes! There ain't no evidence that anything bad happened."

"There ain't no evidence of anything," Rosco countered, unable to keep his frustration hidden. "They're just gone!"

"Yeah, well, they'll be back, when they're good and ready...and then you can arrest them!" Boss insisted.

"Mmmhmmmm," Rosco hummed, not really paying attention. "Boss, do you remember the Earls?"

"Who?" Boss asked, thrown off guard.

"The Earls. They...I think they stayed in Hazzard for awhile. I don't properly recall and I kinda should. There were three...two boys and a gal."

"When?" Boss said, still confused.

"I don't rightly recall...twenty years ago, I guess?"

"Twenty...ROSCO! I don't care about some family that may have been in Hazzard twenty years ago. I have work for you to do and I need you to focus!"

"Yes, right, sorry, Boss," Rosco said, trying to sound sincere and feeling only tired. He wished Boss would stop scheming for just a bit.

Boss sighed. He'd hoped this plan would distract Rosco from the missing Dukes. After all, he reasoned to himself, the sheriff had nothing to feel guilty about. Chasing folks like the Dukes was his job! Anyway, Boss hadn't lied. He was sure the Dukes would show up sooner or later. After all, if they had died, they'd have found the General Lee smashed up by now.

"All right, Rosco. Tell me about the Earls. What made you bring them up?" Boss said with exaggerated patience.'

"Nothin,' I just been dreaming about them. I haven't thought of them in forever, but the past couple of nights...they've been in my dreams."

"Well, there you go! You said there were two fellas and a girl, right? You're just getting them mixed up with your worryin' about the Dukes...which you DON'T need to be doing? Y'hear?"

"I hear ya, Boss," Rosco promised, though he knew better. He felt a deep need to know what had happened to the Dukes.

Poor Rosco doesn't seem to be doing so well. He better pay attention to them dreams. The Dukes may end up needing him.

Well, the Dukes ended up staying the night in the Hazzard Hotel. They all agreed they would get jobs, saying they needed to save up money for awhile, before traveling on. Wouldn't you know Daisy was the first to get hired? Turns out the hotel needed someone to watch their front desk in the mornings and were glad enough to hire a pretty gal like Daisy to be friendly to other travelers. So, the boys headed out after breakfast to find some work of their own.

Bo and Luke headed out. The Hazzard Hotel just happened to be across the street from the Hazzard County Courthouse. They got outside just in time to see Rosco's car, sirens going, pull up behind a dusty station wagon. Both boys shook their heads, crossing the street. They weren't planning anything, but they were in the habit of seeing what Rosco was up to. Rosco didn't pay them any mind, as he got out of his car and approached the station wagon.

"What in tarnation are you trying to do?" Rosco asked the driver, a middle aged man approaching fifty, wearing nice, but worn, traveling clothes. "You're going in circles, Mister, and Elm Street is one way!"

"No, it ain't," the man argued. "Ya take Elm Street going south to Flat Shoals and then on to Mason toward Highway twenty-two."

"Sir, Elm Street runs east and west."

"No, it don't," the man insisted.

"Eldon, he's the sheriff," the woman said, nervously. "I'm sure he knows which ways the streets run."

"I don't care if he's sheriff, Lisa," Eldon persisted. "I have a map showing me exactly how to get to the highway."

"There haven't been surveyors out here in a long, long time. I'm afraid your map is probably out of date," Rosco suggested.

"No, it ain't," Eldon said sharply. "I purchased this map just five days ago at a gas station. They gotta change their stock regular, much custom as they were getting. Now, if'n you want us to stay off Elm, then I gotta take Ridge Run to Elks Club and that's five miles out of my way!"

"I'm surprised Ridge Run is even on a map. The only people who really use it are moon runners!"

"Moon runners?" Lisa asked, confused.

"Folks that run, er, smuggle moonshine, ma'am. There's a local group that call themselves the Ridge Runners.

"Land's sakes!" she gasped, horrified. "Why don't you put them in jail?"

"Well, I do, when I have evidence," Rosco said, shrugging. "Then the judge gives them a huge fine and they go right back to moon running, partly so they can pay up."

"You should capture their leaders and everyone connected to the business, at the same time!" Lisa advised. "That might show them to take the law seriously."

"Everyone connected...ma'am, that would be just about every person in the county! Between providing supplies to them or just being kin, I don't think there's anyone not connected. I'd have to turn the county into a giant penal colony."

Eldon and Lisa both gasped, staring at Rosco with wide eyes.

"I can't believe you said that to us!" Eldon scolded.

"Sir, penal means..."

"I don't need you to tell me what that word means!" Lisa interrupted fiercely. "I have three children, Sheriff!"

Rosco sighed, tipping his hat back. Bo and Luke couldn't help grinning, but tried to hide it. They just managed to keep from actively laughing. They looked away and spotted Sammy nearby, leaning against his car and not bothering to hide his laughter.

"Yes, ma'am. Sir, may I see your map?" Rosco asked, desperate to change the subject.

Reluctantly, Eldon handed the map over and Rosco laid it down on the car door, so he and Eldon could both see it.

"Aw, no, this ain't right at all!" Rosco said. "See this has Flat Rock intercepting Floyd, but that part of the road was completely wiped out by flooding."

"I don't need Flat Rock. I am heading for Highway twenty-two."

"Yes, you said. Now, the easiest way to get to twenty-two is to keep going the direction you're facing, until you get to Mill Road, then go north, turning right, onto..."

"No, no, no!" Eldon interrupted, angrily. "Sheriff, look at the map! Mill Road bends away from twenty-two!"

"Sir," Rosco said as kindly as his frustration would allow, "your map is wrong."

Eldon grabbed the map back, holding it defensively against his chest. Rosco bit his lip to keep from laughing, holding up one hand in a gesture of peace.

"Now, if you'll just listen, I'll give you instructions on gettin' to the highway. You go the wrong way on Elm Street again, though, and I'll have to ticket ya."

"Do as the sheriff tells ya to, Eldon," Lisa ordered.

"Oh, all right!" Eldon snapped, throwing his map into her lap. "But, if we don't find the highway, we'll come back and I'll lodge an official complaint!"

"Fair enough," Rosco agreed, taking out a pad of paper and scribbling down the directions.

Eldon and Lisa drove off, following Rosco's instructions. Bo and Luke walked up to the sheriff, no longer hiding their grins.

"Good morning, Sheriff! I sure hope the rest of your day gets better," Bo said, chuckling.

"Good morning. I'd say it's bound to," Rosco answered wryly. "How was your stay in the hotel?"

"Good. Turns out they've been looking for help for quite some time. Cathy managed to sweet talk them into hiring her!" Luke said, feeling proud of Daisy.

"Congratulations to her. You fellas sticking around too?"

"Yeah. Guess it's our turn to find jobs," Bo said.

"Can you work on cars, as well as race around in them?"

Bo and Luke exchanged looks of surprise, then shrugged.

"Yeah, we can fix cars up. You got something in mind?"

"About two streets over is a garage, owned by a man named Davenport. You've seen how we treat our vehicles and heard what I said about moon runners. He keeps busy enough that Davenport needs some extra help. I don't know if he'll take both of ya, but he'll give ya a fair shot."

The Duke boys grinned, any surprise or misgivings at finding Rosco so helpful fading away. The young sheriff hardly seemed like the gruff, suspicious lawman they regularly dealt with.

"Thank you kindly, Sheriff!" Bo told him. "We'll check that out."

"No time like the present, either," Luke agreed, once more holding out his hand for the sheriff to shake. "We sure do appreciate how helpful you've been."

"You're welcome," Rosco assured them, shaking Luke's hand. "Good luck, fellas."

In case you're worried, Eldon and Lisa made it to Highway twenty-two just fine. Eldon sure did give that map and its maker a good cussing! In the meantime, Bo and Luke headed over to the Davenport garage.

Bo and Luke didn't bother going into the office section of the garage. They knew Cooter and his daddy well enough to know that it would be empty. Instead, they headed straight for the shop. They stopped outside.

"Y'know Cooter's bound to be in there," Luke warned Bo.

"Yeah, I know," Bo said, shrugging helplessly.

"Gonna be weird seeing him be a kid again."

"1959. Shoot, Luke, I'm five years old right now!"

"Daisy's only three."

"I ain't gonna be the one that points that out to her."

"How old do you reckon Rosco is?"

"I don't know. He don't exactly invite us to his birthday parties. Thirty? Forty?"

"He ain't sixty in 1979!" Luke scoffed. "I mean, he's old, but he's not that old."

"What do you reckon then?" Bo countered.

"I say...late twenties, maybe early thirties."

"If you say so, cuz. You ready? It ain't like Cooter is going to recognize us!"

"Yeah. Let's do this."

The boys went in, looking around for their friend and his daddy. Sure enough, Micky Davenport and his son Cooter both had their heads underneath the hood of a car. Being ten years old, Cooter was standing on a wooden box, so he could reach.

"Mr. Davenport?" Luke asked.

Davenport looked up, giving a friendly smile and a nod.

"Howdy, folks. Be with you in just a tick. Now, Cooter, you finish tightening that, just like I showed ya," he instructed, standing and wiping his hands on a rag. "What can I do for you?"

"Howdy. I'm Tom Earl and this is my cousin John. We're new in town and looking for work. We're good with cars and hoped you might have something for us," Luke said, respectfully.

"Huh. I may have at that. How long you been in town and how long you planning on staying?"

"I'm done, Daddy!" the young Cooter announced, proudly.

"Good boy, Coots. Now hush a minute."

"Well, we just got here last night and we're not quite sure how long we'll be staying. We'll need time to figure out a few things, before we head back for home. We'll have to stay at least long enough to get some traveling money for us and our other cousin," Luke said, lying as little as he could get away with.

Davenport didn't seem bothered, just nodded his head slowly, looking them over.

"What'd'ya think, Coots?" Davenport asked his son.

Cooter looked the Duke boys ever, his eyes narrowed. His straight, black hair was messily cut and he was missing one of his front teeth. Finally, Cooter grinned back, nodding.

"Yeah. They look like they'll do."

"My boy's a good judge of character, for a young'un," Davenport confided. "All right. I'll give ya an afternoon's trial. I could use a couple of hands. I don't just need mechanics, but someone to run deliveries and do towing work. You up to that?"

"Yes, sir!" Bo and Luke agreed, enthusiastically.

"Oh, don't be sir-ing me. Mickey'll do just fine. You can start by switching the alternator on that Chrysler."

Bo and Luke got to work. They fixed the alternator in good time and by lunch they were officially hired. Mickey gave them a few deliveries, letting them borrow a truck, and told them to go ahead and eat, while they were out doing errands. The boys were glad to get out into the sunshine. They made a few deliveries, including to a garage in nearby Capitol City. While there, they grabbed some fried chicken for lunch and headed back for the garage.

On their way back, the boys were surprised to see Rosco parked underneath the shade of an oak and sitting on his hood. He didn't seem to have wrecked, but the boys pulled over all the same. They came to a halt and got halfway out of the truck, sitting on the windows. It was almost like being back in the General, after a chase.

"Hey, Sheriff," Bo greeted. "Everything all right?"

Rosco nodded and Luke noticed the man was holding a sandwich. An entire picnic--more than ample amounts of sandwiches, potato salad, pickles, and pie--was sitting on his hood.

"I'm fine, thanks. I just came out here to get away for a bit. People have been calling all day for one thing or another. Figured the only way I'd get to enjoy my meal was to get out of town," Rosco explained. "How has your day gone?"

"Real well, partly thanks to you," Luke told him. "Davenport hired us. We've just been running errands for him."

"Well, good," Rosco said with sincere pleasure. "I'm glad that worked out for you fellas."

"Mind if we join you?" Luke asked, curious to learn more about the young Rosco, wondering if they would ever catch glimpses of the cantankerous, older man they usually dealt with. "We happen to have picked up some chicken and this does look like a good place to rest a bit."

"Sure, I don't mind company. I just don't want to eat and work at the same time," Rosco assured them.

"Can't blame ya for that," Bo agreed cheerfully, climbing back inside to turn the truck off. He grabbed the food and climbed out. Luke had already lowered the truck's tailgate and the cousins perched on it so they could enjoy their meal, while talking with Rosco.

"I hope nothing serious has happened to keep you so busy," Luke said, fishing a bit.

Rosco just gave an amused snort.

"Nah, nothing to be worried about. Most of it was just a bunch of domestic nonsense. Dogs in neighbor's yards, noisy kids, that sorta thing. In a town as small as Hazzard, being sheriff doesn't mean fighting crime, so much as it does trying to keep chaos at bay."

"I think you better hire more deputies," Bo told him.

"It ain't that easy," Rosco said dryly.

"You never know, 'til you try," Bo said, giving a wide, bright grin.

Rosco studied Bo a second, then laughed, pushing his cowboy hat further off his brow.

"Now, tell me something, John Earl. Does that sunshine smile of yours get you in or out of trouble more often?"

Bo gave a short, startled laugh, ducking his head a bit.

"I'm sure I couldn't say."

"I can," Luke provided. "It's fifty-fifty. First it gets him into trouble, then it gets him out again."

"Hey, now!" Bo protested, while Luke and Rosco laughed.

"You fellas want any of this?" Rosco said, waving at his food. "My mama sometimes forgets she's only feeding one person, when she packs me a lunch."

"I wouldn't mind one of them pickles," Luke admitted, taking one, when Rosco handed it out. "Thanks!"

"You're welcome," Rosco said, distributing the food.

Now, yesterday, if you'd told the Dukes they'd be enjoying lunch outside with Rosco, they'd've assumed you'd gotten hit in the head somehow. As is, Luke was wondering less and less why young Rosco was being so nice and more and more what happened to make the older Rosco so ornery...and how much of the younger Rosco might be left inside. Luke's clever that way.

Them dreams just ain't lettin' Rosco alone. Every night he dreams of the Earls, only they look exactly like the Dukes. Rosco ain't entirely sure, if he's got one mystery on his hands or two. It seems odd he only started thinking about and remembering the Earls, once the Dukes disappeared. Rosco don't do anything by halves and that includes lovin'. He simply can't imagine forgetting three good friends for such a long time. Well, he's sheriff and he knows how to ask questions.

Rosco walked into the shop of Cooter's garage, looking around. The equipment was modern, but it still hadn't changed much in twenty years. Had Rosco visited the D-Earls here? He wasn't sure...of anything really. Cooter came out and held his hands up, though he was smirking slightly.

"Whatever it is, I didn't do it!" he said, with a half laugh.

"Do what...Cooter, I ain't here to play games," Rosco sighed. "I wanna ask you something, okay?"

"I guess. Whatcha wanna know?"

"Do you remember the Earls?"

Cooter frowned in confusion, blinking.

"I don't think so. Who are they?"

"I...some people that stayed awhile in Hazzard about twenty years or so ago, maybe? I think the fellas did some work for your dad, here in the garage."

"Twenty years?" Cooter asked skeptically. "That's a long time, Rosco. I'd've only been about ten or so."

"Ten ain't that young," Rosco argued, with an impatient gesture of his hand. "Surely you'd remember two fellas that worked here for several months!"

Cooter thought. The names did seem kinda familiar and his dad did hire people off and on, back then. He couldn't really place the Earls, though.

"Nope. Sorry, Rosco, I just can't bring them to mind. The name is kinda familiar, but that's about all. What's important about them?"

"Nothing. I've just been, well, having dreams. I haven't slept good, since Bo, Luke, and Daisy disappeared."

"None of us has, but it hasn't affected my dreams none. Maybe you just really do need a good night's sleep. You could ask the doc to give ya something."

"Oh, Cooter, I don't want sleeping pills. I want answers!" Rosco huffed, feeling a band of pain begin to throb behind his eyes.

"Well, no one's got any of those!" Cooter said, losing his own patience. "You was the last to see them."

"I know," Rosco admitted, his anger evaporating into a weary sadness.

"Look, Rosco, no one's blaming you, neither. You and the Dukes chase each other around all the time. Folks know that."

"You and I both know they're not all right. They'd've contacted Jesse by now, if they could."

"On the other hand, if they'd crashed, we'd've found wreckage."

"I suppose. I gotta get back. Let me know, if you remember anything. Please."

"Sure, Rosco. Just get some sleep. Best thing for ya."

Strangely, no one seems to remember much about the Earls, other than Rosco. Maybe once he remembers more, he'll be able to ask the right people. Or the right questions. Or both.

For those of you familiar with Hazzard, you may be missing Rosco's cantankerous side. Well, it's about to put in an appearance. See that purple car? Rosco has reason to believe it was involved in a burglary that resulted in a hit and run incident. So, he and his two deputies, Ralph Hardgrove and Lonnie Dawson, are in pursuit. Thing is the driver don't want to be caught.

Rosco watched in satisfaction, as his deputies came roaring down the south and west roads, driving the purple Buick Riviera heading east, towards him. Confidently, Rosco headed his car towards the end of the one lane bridge the Buick was headed for. With all three roads covered, the Buick would be boxed in.

Unfortunately, as soon as the Buick passed the south road, Deputy Dawson merged onto the west road with Deputy Hardgrove. Rosco cursed, increasing his speed, in case the Buick turned fast to make for the south road, since the area between the roads was flat and covered with nothing but short grass. The Buick, however, ignored the sudden opening and headed straight for Rosco. Only halfway over the bridge, Rosco laid on his horn to warn the Buick's driver.

The driver ignored Rosco, still making his way to the bridge. Once on the bridge, the driver pulled as far to his right as he could. It wasn't enough. He clipped Rosco's front end on one side, sending him into a spin that took him clean off the bridge. Rosco and his car landed in the creek below. The creek was only a few feet deep, so Rosco was able to pull himself up and out. He was soaked through, but uninjured.

He was also spitting mad. The Dukes were sent to get Rosco's car from the creek. They got there to see Rosco standing beside the creek. Every inch of him was dripping water and algae. His clothes clung to him in a way that had to be uncomfortable. Rosco kept wiping water from his eyes as it dripped onto his face from his hair. Bo and Luke couldn't help laughing, especially at the familiar sight of him chewing out his deputies.

"I don't care, if he's being peaceful. He's under arrest and I want him cuffed!" Rosco fussed loudly.

"What happened, Rosco?" Luke asked, as Gamble moved behind the suspect to obey and to take cover from the sheriff.

"Aw, nothing much. We were in pursuit of this...thief, Dubose. He had a clear opening to the south road, thanks to my dipstick deputy, but did he take it? Of course not! It's much more fun to drive onto a one lane bridge and push the local sheriff off into the creek!" Rosco ranted, trying to wring water out of his hat.

"You're okay, though?" Bo asked.

"I'm fine. Just wet and mad," Rosco admitted, though the corners of his mouth twitched into a tiny, rueful smile.

Bo and Luke laughed, giving Rosco affectionate pats on his shoulder, as they walked around him. Once the car was secured, they turned back to Rosco, who was giving some final instructions to Hardgrove, before he drove off with the prisoner.

"Hey, Rosco. You want us to give you a ride home?" Luke asked.

"Thanks, but no. I gotta make sure Hardgrove gets that fella securely in a cell. I have spare clothes at the office. Y'never can tell what'll get on you, though no one's ever tried to drown me before."

"Well, here. Borrow this," Luke suggested, throwing him a tarp. "At least it'll keep the deputy's seat dry."

"Thanks," Rosco said dryly. "I'll see you fellas later."

"Thanks for the assistance," Gamble told them, ruefully.

"No problem at all," Bo assured them, smiling brightly.

The Dukes got back in their tow truck and headed for the garage.

"Poor Rosco," Bo chuckled.

"Yeah. He sure doesn't have any luck with cars and driving."

"Y'think that's the first time that's happened to him?"

"I don't know, but we know it won't be the last!" Luke snickered.

"Yeah. Funny thing is I almost feel bad about it, now."

"He'll be okay, once he gets dry," Luke said, though he felt a small twinge of remorse, too.

Rosco was working on just that. Once Dubose was locked up, Rosco headed for the Hazzard Hotel and found Daisy at the front desk. She started, seeing his condition.

"Rosco! Sugar, what in tarnation happened to you?"

"I got drove off a bridge into a creek," Rosco admitted, becoming embarrassed.

"Are you all right?" Daisy asked.

"Sure, I'm fine. I just need to get cleaned up. I was wondering if you, well, the hotel, wouldn't mind lending me some towels. I'll bring'em back in about an hour. I just need to dry off and change my clothes."

"Wait here and I'll see what I can do," Daisy assured him.

Daisy left and came back after a few moments. She handed Rosco three large towels.

"You want to borrow a room and get a quick shower?" she asked.

Rosco shook his head, though Daisy could see he was tempted.

"That's kind, but my clothes are at the station."

"I can run across the road real quick and get them for you!" Daisy offered, watching Rosco shiver.

"If you're sure? I won't take long."

"You take whatever time you need, Rosco. You just get yerself warm and dry, before you catch cold," Daisy ordered, handing him a set of keys to an empty room.

"Yes, ma'am," Rosco agreed playfully. "Thanks, Cathy."

Daisy watched Rosco walk away, admiring the way the water made his shirt and pants cling to his back and bottom. She blushed a bit, remembering who exactly she was gawking at. She laughed at the thought of old Rosco catching someone ogling him! Daisy had to admit that Rosco was pretty easy on the eyes.

Daisy hurried over to the sheriff's station and Deputy Gamble gave her a satchel with Rosco's clothes in it. Returning to the hotel, Daisy found one of the guests, frowning and tapping his fingers on the desk. He turned and forced his face to relax into smooth lines.

"Hello, again," the man said, his gaze sweeping over Daisy appreciatively.

Daisy recalled the man signing in as Adam Huffman. She smiled brightly at him.

"Howdy. I'm sorry for the wait, but could you give me just one more minute? I need to give this satchel to someone."

"Of course," Huffman agreed, trying to sound gracious, but Daisy noticed the tension around his mouth and eyes, as he struggled to hide his annoyance.

Ignoring him, Daisy went to the room she'd given to Rosco and entered, intending to quickly leave the satchel on the bed. Fortunately, Rosco had left the room unlocked. Daisy was a bit surprised, but figured he'd done it so she could leave the clothes for him. She walked past the bathroom door, with the sound of running water drumming steadily behind it, and set the satchel on the bed, as intended. Before she could get out the door, however, Rosco came out of the bathroom. He was using one towel, tied around his waist, as a robe and was vigorously drying his hair with the other, rubbing it roughly over his dark hair.

Daisy stopped and gave a small gasp, swiftly taking in his long, muscular legs, the fine hairs just below his stomach, and the magnificent thatch of chest hair that covered over half his torso. She lingered a bit over that and his strong shoulders and arms. Turning a bright red from head to foot, Rosco stared back, too mortified to realize he was being minutely examined. Daisy met his eyes, finally, and blushed.

"I...I brought you clothes," Daisy reminded him.

"Um," Rosco started, throwing his second towel around his shoulders. "Yeah. I mean...thanks. Thank you. I..."

"You're welcome," Daisy said automatically, taking a hesitant sideways step towards the door.

Rosco retained enough presence of mind, barely, to make a sideways motion in the opposite direction, giving her access to the door. Daisy circled round to it, then turned to face Rosco again, unsure what to say.

"I--I'll only be a few more minutes," Rosco said weakly.

"Okay," Daisy agreed, nodding. "Just leave the towels and stuff on the floor. Maddie and I'll clean up later."

"Right. Oh. Sorry. I made a mess," Rosco said, though he hadn't really, beyond some wet towels.

"No! I mean...it's fine," she assured him. "I gotta go. Man at the desk. See ya later!"

"Bye," Rosco said, watching Daisy leave.

A few feet from the door, Daisy burst into giggles, the absurdity catching up to her. She found Huffman still leaning against the desk, with Bo and Luke sitting nearby in the lounge's chairs. She smiled brightly at her cousins and approached the desk.

"I am so sorry that took so long...Mr. Huffman isn't it?"

"Yes. Adam Huffman," the man agreed, almost preening at being remembered.

"What can I do for you?" Daisy asked.

"Finally. I need to keep my room for a couple of days longer than I thought. I'd like you to extend my original reservation."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Huffman, but your room isn't available. It's been reserved almost immediately after your original check out date."

"Put them in a different room. I was here first, after all, and I've been a good customer to this hotel over the last ten years."

"We appreciate your business, but there's a festival next week and the hotel is just booked plum full. I can't just cancel those other folks reservation, because you change your mind."

Huffman reached out and grabbed Daisy's upper arm, frowning fiercely.

"Now listen to me, girl..." he began.

"You let go of me!" Daisy ordered, pulling her arm away.

"Girl, you don't know who you're dealing with. I could buy this rat's nest of a hotel and never even notice the money was gone! Now I expect better treatment than this."

"Well, you just do that, then. When you own the hotel, you can do what you like, but until then you ain't no different from any other guest. You'll just have to find somewhere else!"

"Ain't no little snip of a hotel girl gonna talk to me like that," Huffman snarled.

Huffman reached out to grab Daisy again, but she let fly with a solid kick to his stomach, sending him staggering back into the waiting arms of Bo and Luke. They glared at him, pinning his arms to his sides. A surprised laugh came from the guest room hallway. Rosco came into the lounge, shaking his head.

"Don't stand there laughing like an idiot," Huffman snapped at Rosco, pulling himself free. "Arrest her!"

A befuddled look settled on Rosco's features. His shoulder's drooped a bit and he ambled forward clumsily. He stopped close to Huffman, looking around, his eyes comically wide.

"Arrest who?" he asked, puzzled.

"Her! The girl right in front of you!"

"Oh? OH! You mean for kickin' ya?" Rosco asked again, looking back and forth between Huffman and Daisy.

"Yes! That would be considered assault, wouldn't it?" Huffman asked, sarcastically.

"Oh. Well. Could be, could be," Rosco conceded, seeming to think about it hard. "Of course, if'n you touched her first, it could be considered defense. Have ya got a witness?"

"You're my witness, you oaf! You stood there and watched her!"

"Ah. Well, I just sorta came in at the last minute. I didn't really see nothin'," Rosco explained, shrugging apologetically.

"Are you saying my word isn't good enough?" Huffman demanded.

"Well, it's plenty good enough for me. I don't know about the judge. You'd have to ask him."

"Fine. I'll be speaking with the hotel manager about the girl. Who do I need to speak with about you?"

"About me?" Rosco asked, hurt and surprised.

"Yes, you! You do have a boss, don't you?"

"Well, of course I do! My boss is the county commissioner--fella name of Wesley Charmaine."

"Fine. Where can I find him?"

"Well, he ain't in Hazzard."

"This is the county seat, isn't it?" Huffman demanded.

"Well, gosh. I suppose so. Charmaine don't care for it though. He's city folk. No, if you wanna talk with him, you either gotta make a phone call or make the trip over to Capitol City."

"You know, you almost aren't even worth the trouble," Huffman sneered.

Huffman stalked off, muttering about idiot sheriffs and small town ignorance. As he left, Rosco straightened back up and a smug smile appeared on his face. He turned to his friends and noticed them gaping at him.

"What was that about?" Daisy demanded, almost not believing what she had just witnessed.

"Oh, don't look at me like that!" Rosco insisted. "If some city slicker wants to think I'm an idiot, just because I'm sheriff of a small county, then I ain't gonna bother to correct him. Tell ya something else, Charmaine won't put up with his guff, either."

"Y'know, Rosco," Bo said, giving a short, sharp laugh. "You deserve a dang Oscar! I'll be back."

Bo left, heading for his room. Rosco watched him go, frowning, puzzled. He turned to Luke.

"Did I touch some kind of nerve?" he asked, concerned.

Luke stared blankly at Rosco for a moment, then laughed.

"No, you didn't. You just, uh," Luke fumbled, still laughing, "you reminded us real strongly of someone from home, for a second there."

"Did I?" Rosco asked, thoughtfully. "You folks don't talk about your home much."

"There's not much to tell," Luke claimed, shrugging. "It's a lot like Hazzard, really. It's a small place, but filled with good people."

"There's no place like Hazzard," Rosco retorted, grinning. "This place just seems to have it's own rules."

"Hazzard does have it's own sort of charm," Luke agreed, grinning back.

Bo came back, stuffing his wallet in his pocket. His mercurial temper had settled and he gave Rosco a friendly smile.

"We're heading to lunch. You ready for some food after that little adventure of yours, Rosco?"

"Sure," Rosco said agreeably. "Food and coffee sound like fine ideas right now."

"Guess we're driving," Bo said, snickering a bit.

"Ya think?" Rosco asked, pointedly. "How is my car anyways?"

"You can have her back tomorrow morning," Luke assured him.

"Just in time for my days off," Rosco said, chuckling.

"You coming out to the lake for the barbecue?" Daisy asked.

"Well, of course. I wouldn't miss the ribs Sammy's wife'll be making."

You wouldn't miss those ribs, either, if you had the chance. If you're wondering, the barbecue ain't no formal event. Summer days can pass slow in Hazzard and sometimes the community just decides to kick back a bit. Everyone decides to gather at one of the lakes and people bring food to share around. There's a bit of fishing, a bit of ball playing, and a bit of swimming. Guess which event Rosco doesn't share in?

Bo came up out of the water and stared at the shore of the lake in exasperation. Rosco was just a foot or so away from the edge of the water--reading a book, of all the darned things! Bo knew Rosco couldn't swim, but he had expected him to at least wade out in the shallow areas. The day was hot and bright and Bo figured even that was better than nothing and certainly better than trying to read with everyone making so much noise.

"Rosco!" Bo called. "Put that book down and come enjoy the water! It's nice and cold."

Rosco looked up, briefly, amused by the request. He shook his head.

"No, thanks, Johnny. I'm fine right where I'm at."

Luke swam up and stood beside Bo. He tilted his head. Bo and Luke had pretty much always known that Rosco couldn't swim. They'd known it so long and so well that Luke couldn't remember when they had first learned the fact. It simply was. He felt a bit of frustration. It seemed to Luke that, all along, they had known a lot about Rosco, without actually knowing him!

"Come on in, Rosco. There's not much current here."

"Nope," Rosco said. "I don't swim. I don't even know how."

"Well, dang, Rosco, it ain't that hard!" Bo said, impatiently.

"We'll teach you," Luke soothed, elbowing his cousin.

Rosco looked up, studying them for a minute, then laughed. He shook his head.

"I appreciate the offer, but I've gone this long without knowing. All you folks are doing is scaring the fish."

Daisy came up beside Rosco and grinned at everyone.

"Hey there, fellas."

"Hi," Rosco greeted, smiling up at her.

"Cathy. You talk to him. We're trying to get Rosco to come swimming."

"Which I have politely and consistently said no to," Rosco added wryly.

Daisy stared at her cousins in surprise. They knew Rosco didn't swim! So far, the Dukes had carefully avoided doing anything that would change what they knew of Hazzard's history. They knew enough about Rosco and his history, she hoped, to avoid altering him and his past. Daisy placed her hands on her hips and glared at her cousins.

"Fellas. Rosco does not swim," she reminded them pointedly.

Rosco watched, intrigued, as "Tom" and "Johnny" exchanged startled, guilty glances. "Cathy" hadn't said anything Rosco himself hadn't, but it was if the fellas were remembering something important. Rosco knew the Earls had secrets, but they were good people and his friends, so he chose not to pry.

"That's what I told them, too," Rosco said, feeling a bit amused.

"All right, all right. We give up," Bo sighed.

"I get the idea you don't say that very often. I promise it won't do you lasting harm," Rosco teased.

Bo and Luke gave each other a brief, silent look, then simultaneously turned and splashed Rosco with huge waves of water. Gasping and laughing, Rosco removed his hat, using it to cover and protect his book. Reaching up, Rosco ran a hand through his hair, shaking his head to dislodge the water dripping from it.

"C'mon, fellas, watch the book," Rosco scolded lightly.

"What are you reading, anyways?" Luke asked, not having figured Rosco as someone who read much for entertainment.

"Zane Grey's latest...uh, The Arizona Clan," Rosco said, checking the book's cover to make sure he had the title right.

"How about you, Cathy? You joining us?"

"Later I might. Right now, I'm getting me some sun."

Bo and Luke climbed out of the water.

"All right, fine," Luke conceded. "We can fish. Everyone swimming is staying away from the best fishing spots."

Rosco chuckled, looking over at Daisy.

"What do you think, Cathy? Should we agree?"

"Sure. They can't have scared all the fish away."

"Probably not," Rosco agreed. "I don't think any of us is gonna want supper, but some fried catfish sounds good for breakfast."

"Well. Come on, then," Bo urged, laughing and shaking his head.

"All right, all right. I'm coming!" Rosco retorted, hefting himself up to his feet.

"Look, I know growing old slows ya down, but those fish won't wait forever," Bo reasoned.

"OLD??" Rosco said incredulously, his voice going up in pitch. "I ain't even thirty, yet! Who are you calling old?"

"Well, comparatively. I'm only twenty-five myself," Bo explained hurriedly, grinning brightly.

Rosco snorted in derision.

"Well, all right, then, whipper snapper. I guess you're leading the way, with those young eyes of yours," Rosco mocked, playfully.

"I'll just do that, then," Bo agreed.

Poor Rosco. Being sheriff may make him feel old at times, but he ain't there yet. Seems like being in the past a couple of months hasn't made the Dukes forget the older Rosco. After all, they've known him longer. Too many slips like that, though, and the boys might have some explaining to do. Speaking of explaining, we better check in on the older Rosco. He might have some explaining to do himself.

Folks in Hazzard know Sheriff Rosco and the Duke boys don't mean each other any real harm. They're Hazzard folk, after all, and people know them. No one pays much mind to them chasing each other about or to Rosco threatening to arrest the Duke boys. Sure, the boys might spend a night or two in jail, but that's no more than a drunk would get. Rosco might be crooked, but folks know he ain't naturally violent or even especially mean.

Folks not from Hazzard might see things a bit differently, not really knowing the people involved.

Rosco sat at his desk, working on his weekly reports. They were fairly dull, without the Duke boys' antics to liven them up. Rosco was grateful he was almost done and could find something more engaging to do. He was interrupted by a sharp rap on his office door.

"Come in," Rosco ordered, though the effect was weakened by a long yawn.

FBI Agent Roach came in and stood in front of Rosco's desk.

"Agent Roach," Rosco greeted, surprised. "How may I help you?"

"I want to talk to you about the Duke boys, Sheriff Coltrane," Roach informed him.

Rosco sighed and rubbed his eyes.

"They're missing. That's about all I or anyone else knows."

"You were the last to see them."

"Assuming the worst, then, yes, I believe I was."

"You're still hoping they're alive, then?" Roach asked skeptically.

"We never found their bodies or the General Lee," Rosco pointed out, then shook his head wearily. "No. I can't see the boys or Daisy staying out of sight this long. They wouldn't worry Jesse like this."

"So, you admit they're likely dead?"

"Agent Roach, I'm too tired for games. I haven't been sleeping well. What are you really here for?"

"All right, Coltrane. Cards on the table. I think you killed them."

Rosco blinked, his tired mind taking a moment to process the unexpected accusation.

"You-you think I...killed the Duke boys. And Daisy," Rosco said, genuinely stunned.

After a moment, Rosco began laughing hard, all the stress and sleeplessness finally catching up to him. He laughed until tears were streaming down his eyes and he got a stitch in his side. He took long, deep breaths, trying to get himself under control. Roach waited impatiently, frowning sternly. Rosco gave a final chuckle.

"Whatever gave you such a fool notion, Agent Roach?" Rosco asked.

"They've been thumbing their noses at you and the law. You've wanted them back in jail, but couldn't get them there," Roach reminded him. "Maybe you got tired of the chase and decided to end things, once and for all."

Rosco snorted derisively.

"First thing you oughta know about me, Agent Roach--I never get tired of the chase. I love the chase," Rosco boasted, grinning merrily. "If I ever got tired of that, I'd quit law enforcement all together."

"I've talked to other people in town. They say you haven't been sleeping too well. A couple even mentioned you having dreams. You've been asking around about some people called the Earls."

"That's right," Rosco agreed. "My worry for the Dukes seems to have got mixed up with some old memories."

"Uh huh. Here's what I think. You're losing sleep over a guilty conscience and all this hooey about the Earls is just some sort of cover...maybe even an attempt to establish an alibi. You're trying to get people to forget how much you hate the Dukes, by seeming worried and out of sorts."

"Now, that is just ridiculous," Rosco protested. "I may have my differences with the Dukes, but I certainly don't hate them! They get on my last nerve sometimes with their cocky attitude, but I don't wish them no harm. Anyways, I don't see how dreaming about the Earls establishes any sort of alibi. You're reaching there, Agent."

"The Earls never existed, Coltrane. You made them up."

"What are you talking about?"

"You told your deputy that Tom, John, and Cathy Earl lived for a spell in Hazzard twenty years ago. They were all in their twenties. I ran through the census records, both local and federal. There were no cousins of that name and age. There's no employment records. No tax documents. Nothing to show the Earls ever existed."

"That can't be," Rosco said slowly. "The Earls were good folks. If they'd been in trouble and needed to have changed their names, they'd've told me."

"Yes, I'm sure your imaginary friends trusted you completely," Roach said dryly. "Do yourself a favor, Coltrane. If you do escape a murder charge, make yourself some real friends."

Rosco remained quiet, watching Roach leave. He felt his stomach twisting. Was Roach right about the Earls? It seemed a bit unbelievable that he could have made them up in such detail. Were they some fantasy he was having in his sleep...a wish that he'd been friendlier to the Dukes? A manifestation of guilt? Rosco rubbed his eyes, wishing the boys and Daisy would just show up again, with their usual flare.

Now don't that beat all. Rosco's smarter than he lets on, but he ain't no luckier. Let's hope he finds out something on the Earls and the Dukes, before he really does think he's gone crazy.

Well, the boys and Daisy have been in the past for exactly four months now...from their point of view. Fortunately, they've only been missing a couple of weeks, in their own time. The boys and Daisy have been carefully avoiding other Dukes and their closest friends in the future. Matter of fact, ole Rosco and Cooter are the only people they know real well in both times and Cooter is just a kid. Hazzard's a small place though and their luck's bound to run out sooner or later.

The three Dukes were currently walking down the street with Rosco, who was still in uniform, despite being off duty. They were all headed to the pool hall to play a few games and have some fun. They were about halfway between the sheriff's station and the pool hall, when Rosco stopped, peering sharply down a small side street.

"LUKE DUKE!" Rosco shouted suddenly, making all three of the Dukes jump and go wide-eyed. Rosco looked at Tom and gave a small laugh, clapping his friend warmly on the shoulder.

"Sorry, Tom, I didn't mean to startle ya. Just a sec. Luke Duke, you get down from there, before you fall and bust your head open!"

The Dukes turned and finally spotted what Rosco had. A young boy of about six was clinging to a ladder attached to the backside of the local theater. The boy had dark hair and bright blue eyes. He wore denim coveralls and a blue t-shirt. Luke swallowed, recognizing himself from old photographs and distant memories.

"Who's yelling at me?" the boy asked, dropping down from the ladder and coming out onto the sidewalk. Seeing Rosco, he gave sighed. "Oh, it's you."

"Yeah, it's me," Rosco agreed.

"Hey, now, show a little respect," older Luke urged, embarrassed.

"No 'fense!" little Luke protested, shrugging. "I mean, I know yer law and all, but can't ya wait til I'm grown to start in on me?"

"Why? What are you planning to do, that you think'll need my attention?" Rosco asked, amused.

"Nothing!" Luke answered, rolling his eyes.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that. What were you doing on that ladder?"

"Climbing it," Luke answered casually. "No law against that is there?"

"Probably. That ladder is for people doing repairs and work. It ain't for young fellas having adventures."

"Anyone who wants can be in the theater. Why's the ladder dif'rent?" Luke asked indignantly.

"Well, like I said, you could fall and get hurt. It's my job to keep you from doing that."

"My daddy and uncles say lawmen just help the gov'ment keep people down."

"Well, I certainly intend to keep you down off that ladder," Rosco agreed dryly.

"It's a vile-ation of m'rights," the boy sulked. "Don't it bother you bein' a presser of the people?"

"Nah. I don't sleep real well, if I ain't pressed at least a few people a day," Rosco said, hiding his smile. "I'm a rotten fella."

"Well, you ought'nt brag about it!" little Luke exclaimed, shocked.

"No, I probably ought'nt," Rosco agreed, easily. "Where's yer folks?"

"Going to the bathroom. Daddy bought everyone soda pops."

"Luke! What are you doing out here?" a new voice asked.

Luke turned and his heart ached. His father stood there, alive and well, his eyes twinkling with amusement, in a stern face. Little Luke grinned up at him.

"Hey, Daddy."

"Everything all right?" Ethan Duke asked, glancing warily at Rosco, who shrugged.

"Sure. Your boy stepped out for some fresh air, so I figured I'd keep him company, til you caught up with him."

"That's kind," Ethan admitted, somewhat reluctantly. "Thank you, Sheriff."

"You're welcome. You and the boy might remember that I'm sheriff of Hazzard, not Nottingham," Rosco pointed out. "Y'all have a good night. Be good, Luke."

"I am," Luke assured him.

"G'night. Y'all have a good evening," the other Dukes chimed in, before following after Rosco, who was strolling away.

"Hey, Rosco," Luke said. "You don't treat lettin' people think you're rotten, same as you do lettin' people think you're dumb, do you?"

"I suppose so," Rosco said, shrugging, then laughed. "I'll make an exception for little kids, though."

"I can't believe he talked to you like that!" Daisy admitted.

"The Dukes have a little piece of land and do some farming, but most of their money comes from moonshine. I don't know 'em well, but from what I've seen they have a lotta respect for morality and almost none for actual law."

"Not all lawmen combine those as much as you do," Bo suggested, hesitantly.

Rosco stopped and turned, just outside the pool hall. He gave his friends a slight smile, that only made his expression more serious.

"Don't be setting me on any pedestal. There isn't a lawman ever existed or will exist who doesn't compromise in some way, at some time, especially a sheriff. We've all got feet of clay. Comes from being human," Rosco advised them.

"Well, Rosco, as your friend, I gotta tell ya something," Bo said solemnly. He then grinned his brightest smile. "I'm glad to hear you can compromise, because you're about as stubborn as an old mule!"

Rosco stared hard at Bo for a moment, before giving a snort of laughter. He reached out, pulled open the pool house door, and pointed sternly inside.

"Get in there!" he ordered. Bo obeyed and Rosco smirked, shaking his head. "Ain't like you got any room to talk."

Luke followed Bo inside, but Daisy stopped beside Rosco and placed her arm around his waist, giving him a brief hug.

"C'mon, sugar. You've been picked on enough for one night."

"That's all right. I'll get even at the pool table," Rosco assured her, his smile becoming softer.

Well, folks, Rosco's done being picked on for the evening. His troubles ain't quite over, though, even if he has won the first two rounds of pool. Here comes Deputy Hardgrove with some bad news.

"Sheriff, I gotta tell ya something, before I head home," Hardgrove said, trying to sound regretful.

"I'm off-duty, Deputy. Can't it wait?" Rosco asked, lining up the cue ball for Bo.

"Um. I think you'd rather hear now, sir, so you can act in the morning."

Rosco straightened up, staring hard at the other lawman.

"That doesn't sound like good news. What's happened?"

"Um. I wasn't able to arrest Lester Evans. I lost him."

Rosco walked around, until he was on the same side of the pool table as Hardgrove. Folding his arms, Rosco leaned back, so he was propped against the table by his lower back. He waited just long enough for the silence to grow uncomfortable, before speaking.

"You managed to lose an entire suspect. Well, this just ain't your day, is it, Hardgrove?" he said sardonically.

"Sheriff, I..."


"Where, s--um. I lost Evans on Mills Road, heading towards Carson's Creek Road. I tried arresting him at the Boar's Nest, but he managed to get in his car. I chased him, but he managed to slip by me."

"Near Carson's Creek Road," Rosco repeated, his voice tinged with disbelief.

"Yes, Sheriff. I'm not sure how he did it..."

"Neither am I. That road leads to town. Most of the turnoffs before then are onto folks' driveways. You reckon he stopped for a visit?"

"No, sir," Hardgrove disagreed, flushing a bit. "I think he went off into the woods and parked.

"Uh, huh. So, you think he abandoned his car and high-tailed it out of town? On foot?"

"Well, no, Sheriff. We all know Lester don't have any kin outside of Hazzard. He'd have no where to go," Hardgrove reminded Rosco, puzzled.

"That's right. What do you imagine he did, then, after he parked?"

"I don't know," Hardgrove replied, sullenly.

"Now you listen to me. I'd call you a dipstick, but you ain't actually this stupid! Don't interrupt me," Rosco snapped, seeing Hardgrove beginning to speak. "Hazzard ain't that big and you know folks well enough to find'em, even if they ain't right in front of you!"

"I don't know where he went. He could be anywhere!"

"Anywhere? Hardgrove, you've been friends with Lester Evans ever since second grade. You know where he lives and you know who his family and friends are...unless you've forgotten? Can anyone here remind my deputy where Lester Evans lives?" Rosco shouted towards the other tables.

"Twenty-four Cedar Point Road," a voice called out from one of the corners.

"That's right. Twenty-four Cedar Point Road. Thank you!" Rosco said. "Now, I suggest that'd be a good place for you to start looking. My next suggestion is this--don't you ever come to me and say you can't arrest someone, because you lost them! If you 'lose' someone in a car chase, it's because you damn well wanted to lose them!"

"I can't go out there at suppertime, even if he is dumb enough to go home," Hardgrove protested. "Ellie would take a shotgun to me for interrupting their meal!"

"Ellie ain't that dumb, but if I'm wrong, then you arrest her, too, for assault with a deadly weapon."

Hardgrove looked like he wanted to argue more, but a look at Rosco and the few others in the pool hall convinced him to keep quiet. The expressions on most people's faces were simply amused and a few were uncomfortable. Rosco's expression was a mix of impatience and anger. Finally, Hardgrove nodded.

"All right. I'll find him."

"Good. You can go to your supper, now, if you want. You just make sure Lester Evans is in jail by this time tomorrow."

"Yes, sir," Hardgrove agreed, turning on his heel and leaving.

Rosco watched him go, then gave a tired sigh. He turned back and took his turn, missing badly. He straightened up and gave a shaky laugh.

"Well, judas priest!" he scoffed. "Your turn, Tom."

Daisy stepped up to Rosco, leaning towards him a bit.

"You're too on edge, sugar. Why don't you come dance with me for a bit? Tom and Johnny can finish out this game."

Rosco blushed a bit, but smiled, shrugging.

"Well, I gotta warn ya--I'm a lousy dancer at the best of times," he admitted.

"Maybe we can work on that, then," Daisy said, threading her arm through his.

"All right," Rosco conceded. "That okay with you fellas?"

"Sure, go ahead!" Luke encouraged, wanting some quiet words with Bo. He was glad the place was mostly empty and they could talk without being heard. He took his shot, waiting for Daisy and Rosco to make it to the dance floor at the other end of the hall.

"I don't get it," Bo admitted.

"You heard the man. If ya lose someone in a car chase in Hazzard, you must want to lose them. Evidently, Rosco wants to lose us a lot!"

"Why chase us at all then?"

"I don't know. Because of Boss, I guess."

"He oughta arrest Boss!" Bo protested.

"I know, Bo. I'm confused about all this, too. He's gotta be a bit corrupt. We know he accepts money from Boss. Then again, as stingy as Boss is, Rosco might not actually get that much money. You know how Boss likes to charge his employees 'fees.' I doubt Rosco is any different."

"I wish we knew the whole truth. You think losing his pension really hurt him that bad?"

"Yeah--and maybe not just money-wise. Believe me, when we get home, I plan on asking him. I just hope he trusts us enough to give us some answers."

The same questions were plaguing Daisy. Her kind heart ached at the idea of getting home and finding Rosco no longer was interested in their friendship...that he no longer cared. Knowing his chasing them around was an act was a huge relief to her. She smiled warmly, when they reached the dance floor, turning and slipping an arm around Rosco's shoulders. He smiled back and wrapped an arm around her waist, holding her other hand in his.

"You aren't doing so bad," Daisy assured him, as they swayed around to the slow song playing.

"At this pace, I'm okay. You don't have to worry about me stomping on your toes, but I'm not very graceful."

"That's all right. You need things to slow down for you a bit."

"Oh, they will. It's boredom I gotta beware of, more often than not."

Daisy thought of all the car chases he'd been in with the Dukes and couldn't help smirking a bit. She shook her head in wonder. Daisy stared into Rosco's blue eyes, which were still a bit stormy, though calming. Who'd've thought ole Rosco would turn out to be such a puzzle?

"What is it?" Rosco asked.


"You look like you want to ask me somethin', but aren't quite sure how to word it."

"No," Daisy denied, shrugging lightly.

"Ah, not me. It's that fella from home I remind you of," Rosco guessed.

"You could say that, yeah," Daisy admitted, ruefully.

"Who is he?"

"Oh! Just someone we know," Daisy hedged, searching frantically for a description, but not wanting to lie, "through an uncle of ours."

"Friend? Enemy? Other?"

"Ya never can be quite sure with him," Daisy said dryly, then added hastily. "No, not an enemy. Not really."

"You're not running from him?"

"Running from him?" Daisy repeated, a tad indignant.

"Sometimes it's the innocent that end up running," Rosco explained. "If you need help, you just gotta ask."

"We would, if we knew what to ask for," Daisy said. "We aren't running away. We just...hit a patch of weather and are waiting it out."

"Fair enough."

"So serious tonight," Daisy scolded gently. "Why don't you kiss me or something?"

"That's not a less serious subject. I've outgrown kissing games. When I kiss a gal, I prefer to mean it."

"What's wrong with kissing games?"

"Nothing. They're fun, but...they make me feel lonesome, in a way. They just remind me of what I really want."

"What's that?" Daisy asked, concerned.

"A wife and family. I'm nearing thirty and I'm ready to settle down and put that kind of play behind me."

"Can't be much stopping you," Daisy prodded.

"Not much. It's just most the gals my age are kin to moon runners and I'm sheriff. It makes dinner conversation a bit awkward."

"Their daddies don't like them dating the law?" Daisy asked.

"That or their daddies think it gets them a pass to break the law."

"I'm sorry," Daisy told him softly, thinking of the older Rosco, still alone well into his forties.

Rosco shrugged. "I'll cope...and hopefully sooner or later I'll find a gal who'll support me and my work."

Impulsively, Daisy leaned forward, giving Rosco a brief, soft kiss. She'd given out similar kisses before, mainly to Enos, Cletus, and other men as distractions--kissing games of a more serious sort. Rosco did look caught off guard, for a second, but then he leaned forward and kissed her back, heatedly. She melted into him and was disappointed, when he broke away, shaking his head.

"This ain't a good idea."

"Why not?" Daisy asked, feeling faintly hurt.

"You don't plan on staying," Rosco reminded her, not unkindly.

"How do you know?" Daisy asked, entertaining for the first time the idea that their trip into the past might be permanent.

"You've never even found a proper place to live. You're taking up one third of the rooms at the Hazzard Hotel," Rosco said dryly.

"Even if we did leave for a spell," Daisy said, musing, "there's nothing to say we wouldn't come back."

"Would you?" Rosco asked soberly.

"I promise. No games," Daisy said, gently.

"I know," Rosco assured her, reaching up to tenderly stroke his thumb across Daisy's chin, just below her lips. "I trust you, Cathy."

"Good," Daisy said, kissing him again firmly.

Things just keep getting more complicated. I wonder what ole Rosco's gonna think of this memory? He really isn't gonna believe the Dukes and the Earls are the same folks, without proof, now!

Folks, I'm worried about ole Rosco. I ain't alone either.

Rosco sat on his porch swing with his dog, Flash, snuggled on his lap. He stroked her ears absently, staring off at nothing. Rosco's mama came out onto the porch, near to wringing her hands with worry.

"Rosco? Are you hungry at all? I could fix you something up," she offered.

"No, thanks, Mama," Rosco said absently.

Mrs. Coltrane sat down next to her son. He had bags under his eyes and looked pale. She'd rarely seen him looking so poorly. Taking a deep breath, she firmed up her resolve, forcing herself to be stern.

"Rosco, this has gone on long enough, son. You gotta accept things as they are!"

"That'd be easier, if I knew how things are."

"However it came about, those young Dukes are gone. Now, I know you cared more about them than you let on, but it's time to grieve and let go."

"You don't understand. All these memories about the Earls are just haunting me. It's like I'm reliving that time. Only instead of seeing the Earls, I see the Dukes. My feelings can't tell the difference. I want them back," Rosco admitted.

"Darlin'. Neither Dukes nor Earls are here and neither are gonna be."

"I don't believe that. I know I should, Mama, but I don't. It just seems like I'm missing something important."

"Look, it's like J.D. said. There were three Earls, just like there were three Dukes. Your worry and grief is just getting them confused with each other."

"NO, MAMA," Rosco shouted, pushing forcefully to his feet and whirling to face her. He stopped, when she gasped in surprise and took a long, deep breath. "I--I'm sorry, Mama. I didn't mean to shout or disrespect you. Look, can't you see how strange all this is? Dukes aside, why am I only now remembering the Earls?"

"Well, you knew them so long ago," Mrs. Coltrane offered, feebly.

"Twenty years. I was grown, not a kid. Maybe 'why am I remembering them now' is the wrong question. So, here's a better one. Why didn't I remember them before? How did I manage to lose all contact with people who meant so much to me?"

"I don't know what you want me to say, son. I don't remember what happened with the Earls. Did you have a falling out?"

"No, we didn't have a falling out, Mama," Rosco sighed, sitting back down beside her. "Wait. You remember the Earls? Roach thinks I made them up."

"Well, I haven't had no dreams, but a little bit's come back to me. They were your friends and I tend to remember the people you have over for supper. You always were a lonesome boy."

"What did they look like?" Rosco asked flatly.

Mrs. Coltrane straightened her apron, not responding immediately.

"Well?" Rosco prodded, trying to control his impatience. "It'd be helpful, if they turned out to be a family of red-heads."

"No, but I don't remember their looks very clearly. It ain't uncommon for family to have different colored hair."

"Maybe not, but it'd sure be a coincidence, if the Earls were a tall, blond man, a shorter, dark-haired man, and a leggy brunette!"

"Rosco!" Mrs. Coltrane chided. "Even if they resembled the Dukes, what good would that do ya? They're bound to have a few things in common, after all. The Dukes are about the age now that the Earls were back then."

"In common," Rosco mused. "Y'know, the first thing the Earls did, when they came to town, was win a race with some fellas from the Boars Nest? They were excellent drivers..."

"Well, every other person in Hazzard races," Mrs. Coltrane said dismissively.

"Yeah and, in a town this small, good drivers end up in the newspaper, sooner or later," Rosco said enthusiastically, feeling energetic for the first time in weeks, getting back on his feet. "I gotta go, Mama."

"Go?" Mrs. Coltrane asked, alarmed. "Where are you going?"

"To the library. I gotta do some research!" Rosco declared, walking out to the street. He paused at the door to his car. "I'll be home for supper. Love you, darlin'!"

Rosco ain't quite figured out the truth, yet. He just hopes seeing what the Earls really looked like will settle his dreams down some. The poor fella's gonna get a heck of a shock, when he finds a photo of his old friends.

Rosco stepped up to the library desk and gave the librarian a tight smile.

"I need to see copies of the Hazzard Gazette for these dates," Rosco said, handing her a slip of paper.

"We haven't got those onto microfiche, yet. You'll have to go downstairs and go through the racks. The years you're looking for are at the back on the right-hand side."

"Thank you."

It took Rosco a bit of time to find what he was looking for. The stacks were rather dark and he hadn't done this sort of research in a long while. Finally, though, he hit pay dirt. An article on county circuit racing featured a large, candid photo showing the winners of one of the qualifying races. Rosco himself had gone to that race, cheering on his friends and keeping company with Cathy.

Rosco brought the newspaper over to a table situated directly under a light. He flipped the pages, laying the photo open and flat. He stared hard at the photo, unbelieving, despite the dreams. Bo and Luke sat on the hood of their car, with Rosco standing next to them and Daisy leaning against him. She was laughing at something someone had said, though Rosco couldn't remember what or who. Rosco and the boys had been chatting and joking, just as the picture was taken.

Shaking, Rosco sat down, trying to gather his thoughts. He remembered that day and that race. Rosco and Cathy had watched from front row seats, stealing kisses from each other in the slower moments. Only, it wasn't "Cathy." It was Daisy and Tom and Johnny were Luke and Bo.

They were the Dukes.

Rosco ran his sleeve across his eyes, doubting his own sanity. He took another look at the photo, but it still showed Bo and Luke, in all their handsome, youthful glory. Brats, Rosco thought affectionately, an anxious chuckle lodged in his throat. Standing, Rosco headed back up the stairs, returning to the library desk.

"I need to use your phone," Rosco told the librarian, who merely shrugged, handing the phone to the sheriff.

Rosco called the police station, relieved again, when Enos answered.

"Enos, this is Rosco. I need you to come over to the Hazzard Library right away."

"Um. Does it have to be right away, Sheriff? I'm not alone here right now."

"Yes, right away, dang it! Who're you talking to over there that you'd leave me hanging?"

"Well. It's Uncle Jesse, sir. He just wanted to talk a bit...y'know, reminisce about...things."

Rosco swallowed a bit.

"Never mind. Bring him with you," Rosco ordered.

"You want Uncle Jesse at the library? How come?"

"You'll find out, when you get here. Come downstairs to where the newspaper stacks are."

Enos showed up with Jesse in tow. They found Rosco seated at the table, brooding. Jesse spared a moment of pity for Rosco. Rosco might not get along with the Dukes, but Jesse knew the boys' disappearance had hit the sheriff hard. Rosco looked up at their approach and waved a hand at the newspaper on the table.

"I pulled that off the stacks less'n half an hour ago," Rosco told them, not bothering with social niceties. "Tell me what you see. I'm so blasted tired and twisted up from these dreams that I don't trust my own eyes."

Jesse and Enos stepped forward, silently, and looked at the photo. Enos gave a shaky gasp, while Jesse absorbed the sight of his kids, smiling at him from the old picture. Picking up the paper, Jesse examined it carefully, checking the date and looking for any hint that the paper was fake. Deep down, he knew it wasn't and everything he saw confirmed that. Jesse sat down, shrugging helplessly.

"It's them. Bo, Luke, Daisy...even you."

"That's the Earls. They won that race. I knew them as Tom, Cathy, and Johnny."

"How? How'd my kids get twenty years in the past?" Jesse demanded, confused and irritated. "By driving into a cloud?!"

"I suppose so. I can't explain it any other way. They're alive though!"

"Golly. Luke and them back in 1959," Enos mused. "What're we gonna do, Sheriff?"

"Nothing we can do," Jesse said, "except pray they get back home."

"Well, they gotta," Rosco said firmly. "They didn't stay in Hazzard and they had no where else to go."

"I hope you're right," Jesse said, mildly, standing and patting Rosco on the shoulder.

Enos remained silent, unable to come up with anything comforting to say. He'd never say such a thing out loud and almost blushed to think it, but Rosco looked like hell and Enos was afraid for him. He prayed Rosco would get some sleep, now that they knew where, well, when the Dukes were. Enos trusted the Dukes and knew, if there was a way home, Luke would find it.

Well, that solves the mystery of the Dukes and the Earls. Now, Rosco just has to find a way to get them back home.

Trouble in Hazzard has a bad habit of starting just when things are going really good. Know what I mean?

Rosco and Daisy walked along one of Hazzard's many streams, looking for a picnic spot. They had left Rosco's patrol car under a large elm, a short way back. Rosco had their picnic basket in one hand and Daisy's in the other. A distant cry interrupted their quiet moment. Rosco set the basket down.

"Wait here, please," Rosco asked, waiting for her nod, before running in the direction of the cry.

As Rosco got further into the nearby trees, he heard a low sobbing. A child's bike leaned against a young oak and Rosco turned further in that direction. Another sharp cry brought him to an older oak frequently used for climbing. A young boy of about five was standing on one foot, leaning heavily against the tree. The boy's clothes were mussed and one pants leg was torn. As Rosco approached, the boy tried to put some of his weight on the raised leg. The boy fell to the ground with a yelp of pain.

Rosco strode quickly over, standing near the boy.

"Hey, I don't think you should try and stand on that leg, young fella," Rosco advised.

The boy leaned way back, gaping up in awe at the tall sheriff. He hastily wiped away his tears. Smiling, Rosco leaned down, trying to put the boy at ease and project some calm.

"Do you know who I am?" Rosco asked.

"Y-yes, sir. You're Sheriff Coltrane," the boy answered.

"That's right. What's your name?"

"Enos Strate, sir."

"Austin Strate's boy?"

"Yes, sir," Enos said humbly, shrinking slightly.

"It's okay, Enos. You fall out of the tree?"

"Yeah. I was halfway up, too," Enos said, disappointed.

"Uh huh. I'm gonna lift you up now, all right? Your leg looks busted and we need to get you to Doc Petticord. On the way, we'll try to get your daddy on the cb."

"Oh. Okay, Sheriff," Enos agreed.

"Good boy," Rosco praised.

The kid seemed chipper enough, though, as Rosco lifted him gently off the ground and settled him as comfortably as possible in his arms. Enos place one arm around Rosco's shoulders, leaning trustingly against him. Rosco walked swiftly back to Daisy, though taking care not to jostle Enos. Daisy watched them approach, puzzled and concerned.

"Rosco? Is everything all right? Who's that?" Daisy asked.

"Well, they will be," Rosco answered, not wanting to upset the boy by making a big deal of his injury. "This here is Enos Strate. He busted his leg up some. I'm afraid our picnic will have to wait."

"Well, that's all right," Daisy said soothingly, smiling kindly up at Enos. "Hi, sugar, I'm Cathy."

"Um, hullo," Enos murmured almost inaudibly. He started to bury his face in Rosco's shoulder, but settled for partly ducking his head. He didn't want to look like a baby in front of the beautiful, sweet-looking lady.

Daisy grabbed the picnic basket and settled her free hand on the small of Rosco's back. They walked silently to the car and Daisy opened the back door for Rosco. Leaning in, Rosco tried to settle the boy easily on the seat, but Enos still whimpered, paling some, in pain and shame.

"You okay?" Rosco asked, fastening the boy's seatbelt.

"Hurts," Enos admitted.

"I know," Rosco assured him, kindly. "Doc'll take care of that, too. You just hang in a little longer. You're doing fine."

"Yes, sir, Sheriff."

"Would you like something to drink, sugar?" Daisy asked him. "We got some lemonade."

Enos readily agreed and Daisy handed him back a cup of the lemonade, earning a grateful smile from Rosco. He'd rarely dealt with little kids before and wasn't sure how to handle them. He'd scolded a few in his role as sheriff, but he'd never had to comfort one.
He grabbed the cb, once they were on the road.

"This is Sheriff Coltrane. Austin Strate, you got your ears on?"

"This is Austin Strate. What I can do for you, Sheriff?"

"Your boy fell out of a tree, hurt his leg. I'm taking him to Doc Petticord."

"Sheriff, this is Deputy Gamble. We need you at Tri-county hospital. Can you bring the boy here instead? Over."

"What's going on, Lonnie?" Rosco asked.

"We've had a shooting, sir," Dawson said, reluctantly.

"I'm on my way. Do you copy that, Mr. Strate?"

"I copy. I'll meet you at Tri-county. Enos, if you can hear me, you listen to the sheriff, until I can get there. I'm hurrying, son."

"Yes, Daddy," Enos called from the back seat."

"Ten-four on all that," Rosco assured Amos.

Shootings are rare in Hazzard County. So Rosco ain't in a good mood. Finding Lonnie Dawson and Austin Strate standing across the emergency room glaring at each other probably isn't helping matters none. I tell you it's a good thing Daisy is there to keep the men folk simmered down. All poor Rosco wanted was to enjoy a picnic with his lovely lady.

Daisy took Enos over to his daddy, while Rosco went to the other side of the room to talk with Lonnie.

"Unless Austin Strate had something to do with the shooting, quit glaring at him and talk to me," Rosco ordered sternly. "What's going on?"

"It's Marty Stovall, sir. I found him in the woods, along Ridge Run. His car was on the highway, smashed up. It looks like someone ran him off the road, took him to the woods, then shot him. He's still alive for now, but he's in rotten shape. They got him in the chest and one of his lungs collapsed."

"Any suspects?"

"No, sir, not yet. Deputy Hardgrove is with forensics at the dump site and his car."

"All right. You stay here and watch who comes and goes. They might want to see their dirty work or be checking how people are reacting."

"Yes, Sheriff. Um. There was moonshine in Marty's trunk."

"Of course there was!" Rosco snapped. "Why else would anyone shoot the old fella?"

"Yes, sir," Dawson said, staring down at his shoes.

Rosco placed a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Lonnie. We'll figure this out. Just keep your eyes open, okay?" Rosco said with deliberate kindness.

"I know we will, Sheriff," Lonnie agreed, standing tall again.

Rosco gave him a brief smile and went over to Daisy.

"How's the boy?" he asked.

"Doc's seeing him now. You have to go back to work, don't you."

"I'm afraid so. Cathy...you'll hear soon enough anyways. Marty Stovall's the one that's been shot. He's alive, but in bad shape."

"Marty? Why? Why would anyone want to shoot that sweet, old man?" Daisy protested.

"He's a moon runner, darlin'. I-I can't really discuss it with you. Can you call Tom to come take you home?"

"I'll take her home, if she don't mind waiting until Doc is done," Austin offered. "I'm sorry about old Marty."

"Is that all right with you, Cathy?"

"Sure, that's fine. Thank you, Mr. Strate."

"Austin is fine, Miss Cathy."

Daisy gave him a brief nod, before turning back to Rosco. He was frowning deeply and Daisy could see real pain in his eyes, a pain matching Daisy's own. She stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on his cheek. Rosco leaned into the touch for a moment, then pulled her into a hug.

"I'm sorry. I know he's your friend," Daisy whispered.

"Yeah. Well," Rosco sighed, pulling away, "I don't get to be anyone's friend, right now. I gotta be the law. I'll see you later, but I can't say when."

"I know," Daisy assured him. "You do what you gotta and go find who did this."

"Thank you," Rosco said softly, relieved at her patience and understanding.

Daisy stepped forward one more time, kissing him soundly.

"I love you, Rosco Coltrane," Daisy asserted, almost stern.

"I love you, too, Cathy. I gotta go," Rosco said, stepping away and nodding to Austin. "Mr. Strate. Good day and thank you for helping her."

"You're welcome, Sheriff. I hope you get whoever shot Marty."

"Oh, I will," Rosco promised, before turning and walking away.

After leaving the hospital, Rosco headed for the Boar's Nest. He entered the bar and headed straight for the office in back. Rosco knew J.D. Hogg, his brother-in-law, did a lot of business, both clean and dirty, from that back room. Rosco was pleased to find not only J.D., but also Jesse Duke in the office.

"Afternoon, fellas," Rosco greeted.

"What do you want?" Jesse drawled, suspiciously.

"Now, now, Jesse. The sheriff is my brother-in-law," J.D. scolded sarcastically. "I'm sure my own dear wife's baby brother isn't here to cause any trouble."

"Not this time, anyways," Rosco agreed, ignoring the jibe. "There is trouble brewing, though. Marty Stovall was shot, while running moonshine."

Jesse and J.D. exchanged a long look. J.D. turned away first puffing stoically on his cigar. Rosco shook his head.

"I tolerate a lot from you Ridge Raiders. One reason for that is you don't tolerate killin' and you two, at least, influence all the local criminals. So, I figure you two must have some idea of who shot Marty...and why."

"Well, we appreciate your tolerance, Sheriff," Jesse scoffed, "but we don't know who the shooter is and we don't need you nosing into our business."

"You saying an attempted murder isn't my business?" Rosco asked, incredulous.

"Nooo, we ain't saying that, Rosco," J.D. assured him. "We're just sayin' that you oughta be able to catch his shooter, without us discussing Ridge Raider concerns with you. After all, anything we say could be used against us!"

"You ain't under arrest, J.D.," Rosco pointed out impatiently.

"No, but we would be, if you had the nerve or evidence to make us that way," Jesse snapped.

"Don't think I lack nerve, Jesse Duke," Rosco warned. "If I ever decide to put you or any of your clan in jail, you'll wind up there, one way or another."

"Why, you lousy, arrogant..." Jesse started ranting, before J.D. interrupted, clearing his throat dramatically.

"Uh, Rosco, you weren't exactly forthcomin' with details," J.D. simpered. "How is poor old Marty doing?"

"He was driven off the road, dragged off into the woods, and then shot," Rosco told them coldly. "Other than that, he's fine."

Rosco had the satisfaction of seeing Jesse wince.

"He's still alive, though," Jesse concluded, hopefully.

"For now, but he's not in great shape," Rosco answered. "Let me make myself clear. I'm not after your moon shine operation, though I know it's connected to the shooting. If you refusing to cooperate keeps me from finding Marty's shooter, I'll see you charged with everything I can, up to and including accessory to murder."

"Rosco!" J.D. protested. "You think we'd protect someone who shot one of our own?"

"All I know is you're keeping things from me."

"Rosco Coltrane, I told you we don't know who shot Marty," Jesse said severely. "Now, I'm giving you my word as a Duke that that's so and that we're just as shocked as you are."

"All right," Rosco conceded reluctantly, after considering that a few moments. "You just let me know, if you find out anything or somethin' else happens."

"We'll surely do that," J.D. lied sweetly, patting Rosco on the back.

Don't that just figure? Rosco ain't the only one having a bad day, either. It just wouldn't be Hazzard, if Bo and Luke didn't get caught up in things. Them boys just can't resist helping someone out.

Bo and Luke were out driving around Hazzard. Mickey Davenport had got them a good deal on a used Ford Fairlane and the boys were testing it out. It wasn't the General Lee, but it was still a sweet set of wheels.

"Hey, Bo," Luke said. "Look past them trees. Isn't that Lewis?"

"Sure enough," Bo agreed, looking where directed and spotting Lewis' silver VW Beetle. "Who's that behind him?"

Luke took a closer look at a green Pontiac that was hugging Lewis' back bumper and shrugged.

"I don't know. They don't seem familiar. Looks like they're racing. Cut across and we'll see who wins."

"Yes, sir," Bo agreed, grinning.

He put actions to words and cut across an open patch of grass, pulling in behind the Pontiac. Both boys flinched, when the Pontiac put on a bit more speed and rammed hard into the back of Lewis' VW making him swerve wildly. Luke frowned. People in Hazzard generally weren't that rough, when racing.

"Hey, does anyone have their ears on? This is Lewis. I could sure use some help!"

"This is Tom Earl," Luke replied over the cb. "Lewis, we thought you was racing. What's going on?"

"I ain't racing!" Lewis protested. "I was coming back from a run and this polecat gets in behind me. He's been chasing after me for five miles now!"

"Just keep going," Luke ordered. "Johnny and I'll take care of him. Try different frequencies and see if you can't get Rosco on the cb."

"Thanks, fellas. Roger that and ten-four."

Bo pulled to the side enough to fit side by side with the Pontiac. He put on speed and drew up next to the other car. Steeling himself, he swerved, pushing the Pontiac to the right. The Pontiac swerved back and the two cars drove side by side, grinding against each other.

Luke studied the fellas inside the Pontiac. One was a gangly redhead with light blue eyes and permanent frown lines around his mouth and eyes. The other was an average looking brunette with brown eyes and a bit of a squint. They stared back at him in challenge. Luke grinned, mocking them with a friendly wave.

Bo chuckled at his cousin's antics, pulling their car ahead. As soon as Lewis was ahead enough, Bo pulled in behind him and slowed down, forcing the Pontiac to do the same. The Pontiac tried to pull to one side, but Bo kept directly in front of it. Unfortunately, Lewis wasn't such a good driver. He hit a patch of gravel and went into a spin, sliding sideways and leaving Bo and Luke in front.

Seeing Lewis spin out, the men in the Pontiac swerved sideways, heading directly for the VW and it's occupant. Bo cut right, trying to intercept the Pontiac. Fortunately, before the cars could get into a collision, everyone heard a siren and Rosco appeared on the road, heading straight for them.

Seeing the law approaching, the Pontiac's driver peeled away and turned down a road that barely qualified as one. Rosco set up pursuit, but didn't get far. The squinty brunette leaned out of his window and shot out Rosco's front tires. Hearing the shots, Bo and Luke set off down the same road, pulling in behind the sheriff's car.

"Rosco!" Bo shouted, worried. "You okay?"

Rosco climbed out of his car, his face flushed with anger.

"Yeah, I'm okay, Johnny. Are you fellas okay? Was anyone hurt?"

"Nah, everyone's fine," Luke assured him. "Do you know who that was?"

"No. Whoever they are, they aren't local."

"Dang. Well what are we going to do now?" Bo asked.

"We aren't going to do anything," Rosco said severely. "You are going to continue your day and let me do my job."

"Rosco! Whoever that was is probably the same guys that did Marty!" Bo protested.

"Yep. They probably are," Rosco agreed. "Which is exactly why you're going to stay out of this. These people aren't messing around and you don't need to get involved."

"They gunned down one friend of ours and tried to mow down another, two others, if we count the shots they took at you," Luke said. "I'd say we're already involved."

"The law says differently. You're simply witnesses. Nothing more."

"There ain't no law against us protecting our friends and helping them, if someone goes after them," Bo persisted. "You can't arrest us for that!"

"Arrest you?" Rosco asked, grinning sharply. "Why, Johnny, who said anything about arresting you? No, I'll do something far worse."

"Like what?" Luke asked, uneasily.

"I'll deputize ya," Rosco said. "You fellas are fairly law-abiding, but I've gotten the impression that isn't something you would enjoy."

"Can he do that?" Bo asked Luke.

"I guess so..."

"Sure, I can. It's not commonly done anymore, except during disasters and emergencies, but legally, I can do it."

"All right. You win. We'll keep our noses out," Luke said, sighing.

Bo turned wide eyes on Luke, but Luke just shrugged helplessly.

"Good. Now, uh, you wouldn't have a spare tire I could borrow, would ya?" Rosco asked, with a rueful grin.

Bo and Luke burst into laughter, clapping Rosco on his shoulder.

"Yeah, I think we can get you rolling again," Luke assured him.

Now, the old Rosco woulda known that telling the Duke boys to stay out of trouble, was like telling a fish to stay away from water. They just keep getting pulled back in. Now they've gone and made the bad guys mad. I don't know about you, but I'd almost feel sorry for them bad guys, if they weren't so rotten. They just don't know what they got coming.

August Henry sat at his desk in his law offices. Before him stood the driver of the Pontiac, Dillon Percy, and his partner, Matt Jessup.

"So, Lewis escaped unscathed."

"He didn't escape," Dillon objected. "He was helped by some other guys. They just came out of no where and gave Lewis enough time to get hold of the local law."

"We should've took care of him," Matt groused.

"In front of witnesses?" Henry asked coldly. "Don't be stupid. These busy bodies...you think they'll be trouble?"

"Yes, sir," Dillon said firmly. "They didn't hesitate to go after us and they drove like a demon."

"Well, take care of them, then, especially since they saw your faces. Leave the sheriff alone...for now."

"We'll keep clear of him. You want us to finish what we started with Lewis?"

"No. Leave him. Harassing the runners isn't working and I want this deal done. Kill Jesse Duke. I'm sure the loss of his partner will make J.D. Hogg more cooperative."

See what I mean about them Duke boys and trouble? Those stooges didn't waste anytime, neither. They headed straight to Hazzard and soon enough spotted Bo and Luke going back to work, after having lunch at the Boars Nest. Fortunately, the boys have been chased enough that they keep a real close eye on who's behind them.

"Aw, dang it, Luke. Check out who's behind us!" Bo told his cousin.

Luke obeyed, then said a few words that would make Uncle Jesse wash his mouth out.

"They're catching up fast. You better speed up...a lot!" Luke advised.

"You betcha."

Bo pulled ahead, trying to outdistance the Pontiac. While Bo was the better driver, Dillon was highly motivated. Bo was able to keep ahead, but only by a short distance.

"Man, this fella's on me like molasses on a pancake," Bo complained. "Any ideas?"

"Yeah. Rosco should be on patrol about now. Drive down near Hobson Creek. He'll be in that general area."

"I hope he doesn't think we're sticking our noses in and get bent out of shape," Bo said, sulkily. "Why did you agree that we would stay out of things, anyways?"

"Rosco doesn't need our help."

"Luke Duke, I'm shocked at you!" Bo protested. "He's our friend and friends help each other!"

"I know, I know, Bo, but listen," Luke urged. "One of our problems with Rosco, the older Rosco, is he's always thought we had no respect for him, especially as a law man..."

"That ain't so! We respected him, before he went crooked."

"Bo, before he went crooked, we were criminals running shine. Sure we had our reasons and never meant any harm, but the only time we saw Rosco, then, was when he was chasing us and we were pulling stunts to get away or when we were being arrested."

"Well, all right, but what's that got to do with us not helping him now?"

"Just this. If we do as he tells us, we can prove to him that we do trust and respect him. Frankly, in this time, he's earned that trust from us. Don't ya think?"

"Yeah. Of course I do! It ain't that I don't trust him. I just don't feel right not helping out a friend, when things are getting bad."

"I agree, but we need to do this for him. He knows we're willing to help. If he needs us, Rosco'll let us know."

"Okay, you're right," Bo conceded.

Bo kept heading for Hobson Creek. The Pontiac was still following close behind, always within a few feet of the Dukes' bumper. As they approached Route 36, Luke got on the cb with Rosco.

"Hey, Rosco, it's Tom. You out there? Come back."

"Yeah, Tom, I'm here. What's up?"

"We didn't need to go looking for the guys in that Pontiac. They found us. They're on our tail right now and we're near Hobson Creek, hopefully heading right for ya!"

"Judas priest. Yeah, I'm at the Route 36 intersection. Bring'em my way."

"Will do," Luke assured him.

Bo drove to the intersection. Dillon looked ahead, spotting the sheriff's car, and began swearing.

"Figures they'd lead us right to the law," Matt complained. "I say we take all of them out!"

"No! Mr. Henry told us to leave the sheriff alone. I'm getting us out of here. We take care of business and take care of the busy bodies later."

Dillon cut his wheels swinging into a wide u turn and shooting past the sheriff. Bo followed suit, preparing to chase after them.

"Johnny!" Rosco called over the cb. "Let them go!"

"What? Why?" Bo answered.

"Because I don't have enough proof to arrest them for Marty's shooting, yet, and I don't want to arrest them, until I have a good case. What could I get them for right now, anyways? Tail-gating you?"

Bo rolled his eyes, then slowed down and turned back. He drove over to Rosco's car and parked, climbing out.

"Dang it, Rosco, this is ridiculous!" Bo ranted, as Rosco got out of his own car. "What kind of proof do you need?"

"I need to establish motive and opportunity, at the least. If I could find probable cause to search them or their vehicle, I might be able to find the gun they used to shoot Marty," Rosco explained, shaking his head tiredly. "Look, I know it's frustrating and justice isn't always swift. You fellas gotta just be patient though. Sooner or later, they'll make a mistake."

"You still want us to stay out of it, even though they're targeting us?" Luke asked.

"More than ever!" Rosco insisted. "I don't want you giving them any more reasons to come after you."

"All right," Luke agreed, spreading his hands in surrender. "We'll do what you tell us."

Rosco looked a bit surprised, but smiled gratefully at his friends.

"I'm sorry, fellas. I know you've got good, brave hearts. It's just you're civilians and my friends and I don't want you at risk. I do appreciate you cooperating."

"Lu-Look, Tom," Bo interrupted, frowning. "Look over there."

He pointed to the far bank of the creek, which was gray from a thick mist. A series of small clouds sat along the ground...all of them twinkling from within from flashes of light. Luke grimaced. The clouds weren't big enough to be any use to them, even if they could get to them, before they faded. Bo and Luke exchanged long looks of both disquiet and budding hope.

"Fellas?" Rosco asked, concerned, and wondering what they were staring at. "What's wrong?"

"Those clouds with the weird...lightening in them," Luke explained. "We ran into a cloud like those, right before we came to Hazzard."

"Cathy said y'all were waiting out a patch of weather, but I thought she meant figuratively."

"Not exactly," Luke said.

"Hm. They are kinda weird. I never saw clouds that small produce lightening, especially so close to the ground."

"You should see what the bigger ones can do," Bo said, smirking, before Luke elbowed him.

Rosco studied Bo and Luke for a few, long moments, then shrugged, clapping Bo on the shoulder.

"I'm sure it'll leave you alone, if'n you leave it alone. Shouldn't you be heading back to the garage?" Rosco teased gently.

"When you're right, you're right. We'll see ya later," Luke said, smiling warmly.

"Later, buddy," Bo echoed, grinning.

Heck of a time for them clouds to start showing up! Things are just getting worse, too. Our baddies reported back to August Henry, who reminded them of their main objective--killing Jesse Duke. Somehow, I'm seeing a shiny pair of badges in them Duke boys' future. Let's take a peek at them and see what's brewing.

Bo kicked the flat tire on the passenger's side of his and Luke's car. It figured he'd only notice the flat, after the Boars Nest closed and everything went dark. Of course, it didn't help that he was parked around the side of the bar. Bo gave a rueful chuckle, as Luke slid silently out of the passenger's side. Bo was surprised to see headlights approach and swiftly ducked down, grabbing Luke, when he recognized that ole green Pontiac.

Bo and Luke watched quietly as the Pontiac pulled into the lot, parking directly in front of the bar. Dillon got out of the car and drew his gun, before opening the rear passenger door. The Duke boys looked on in dread, as their Uncle Jesse climbed out of the car.

"Should I bind him?" Matt asked Dillon.

"Nah. We ain't going far," Dillon told him, shrugging.

"You fellas can still rethink this," Jesse told them, warily. "Ain't no way my death will get J.D. Hogg to hand over any business to you."

"You're his partner and, from what we've heard, his best friend," Dillon disagreed. "Anyways, it'll weaken and shake up the others. Might be they'll pull Hogg down for us."

"Ridge Raiders don't act that way," Jesse said, scornfully.

"Everyone acts that way," Matt said, chuckling.

"Of course, you're highly respected and known for keeping your promises," Dillon mused. "If you swear to give Mr. Henry control of the moonshine in Hazzard..."

"Not on your life," Jesse said, hotly.

"It's not my life at stake," Dillon said, smiling. "Tell you what. This tiny town of yours is out for the night. We'll give you, say, half an hour to think about it."

Bo and Luke listened to the exchange, growing angrier by the moment.

"What are we gonna do?" Bo asked, speaking as softly as he could and still be heard. "We ain't even got our bows and arrows."

"We'll have to take them by surprise. Come on!" Luke ordered, remaining in a crouch as he headed for the back of the Boars Nest.

Bo followed, keeping low and quiet. Fortunately, the Boars Nest wasn't a tall building and the boys were able to climb up on the roof with relative ease. They kept hidden behind the large sign, until they were directly behind it. Moving carefully around the sign, Bo and Luke got as close as they could to Dillon and Matt, before jumping down on them.

Fortunately, Dillon and Matt weren't any heftier than Bo and Luke and were knocked to the ground. Dillon's pistol went skittering off, landing at Jesse's feet. As the boys pulled Dillon and Matt to their feet, Jesse picked up the gun. He fired it into the air, when Matt and Dillon began struggling. Matt elbowed Bo hard in his stomach, then rushed forward and head butted Jesse, catching him off guard.

Huh, y'know, I'd've surrendered, seeing that gun in ole Jesse's hands. Some folks ain't got a lick of sense.

Dillon hopped into his driver's seat and turned on the engine.

"Let's go!" he yelled, not liking three to two odds.

Matt cursed, pulling away from Jesse and rushing past Bo. A swift punch to Luke's face cleared his way to the car and he got in fast. Dillon pulled away, leaving Bo and Luke standing face to face with an uncle who didn't recognize them.

"Sir, are you all right?" Bo asked, unable to completely hide his concern.

"Fine, thank you," Jesse assured him gruffly.

"Glad to help," Luke said, smiling. "I'll get on the radio and get Rosco."

"Now, hold on," Jesse interrupted. "I don't think that's necessary. I'm fine and they're long gone. Why drag the law into things?"

"It's the right thing to do," Luke answered, with careful respect. "We promised Rosco we wouldn't interfere in his investigation."

"Yeah, he's not going to be too happy that we had another run-in with those clowns," Bo said.

Jesse sighed. Everyone in town knew the Earls were in tight with Sheriff Coltrane. Jesse wasn't inclined to trust anyone who made friends with the law. On the other hand, he'd heard from both Marty and Lewis that the Earls were good people. Now, it seemed he and Lewis both owed their lives to the Earls.

"All right. Go ahead and call him," Jesse agreed.

Bo walked over to their car and got Rosco on the cb, telling him to head to the Boars Nest. Rosco arrived only a few minutes later, parking where the Pontiac had been. Stepping out and around his car, he raised his eyebrows at seeing the Earls in company with Jesse Duke.

"What's going on?" Rosco asked. "Johnny said there'd been trouble."

"It's those guys in the Pontiac again," Luke admitted. "We had a flat and managed to overhear them threatening to kill Mr. Duke. Fortunately, they gave him a little time to sweat and we were able to get the jump on them. Literally."

"Jumped right on them from off the roof of the Boars Nest," Jesse chortled.

"If they weren't planning on killing him right away, why didn't you call me?" Rosco asked.

"Well we woulda, but we were afraid J--Mr. Duke would decide to fight and just get gunned down!" Bo explained defensively.

"Oh, I'd've waited for the half hour to expire first," Jesse admitted. "Y'never know what might happen in that much time. Heck, Rosco might've passed by on patrol!"

"Exactly," Rosco agreed, opening his passenger door and taking something out of his glove box.

"Aw, c'mon, Rosco," Luke coaxed. "We didn't go looking for these guys! They just showed up and, well, we couldn't just stand by and do nothin'."

"Maybe you couldn't. I admit it's not entirely your fault that those fellas keep getting in your path," Rosco conceded, stepping over to stand directly in front of Luke. "Your fault or not, though, you're involved against my better judgment and I told you what would happen."

Rosco reached up and stuck a deputy's badge onto Luke's shirt. Luke looked down at the badge and huffed out a tiny, annoyed sigh. Bo backed up from Rosco, his hands held in the air as if Rosco had pulled a gun on him.

"Wait a minute, can't we talk about this?" he pleaded.

"Nope, 'fraid not," Rosco said easily, grabbing hold of Bo's shirt and pulling him forward again. "As sheriff, I hereby deputize both of you as deputy sheriffs of Hazzard County."

"Why don't you leave them be?" Jesse asked, sourly. "They don't want them badges."

"I got my reasons, Jesse Duke, and they don't involve you," Rosco snapped, still irritated at Jesse's refusal to cooperate.

"What if I tell you who I think is spying on the Ridge Raiders? Would you take those badges off then?"

"If I want to know who is spying on you, I'll find out for myself. Now, I said I have my reasons. Why don't you use my cb and have someone come get you? I'll get a statement from you tomorrow."

"Oh, you're gonna get a statement from me all right," Jesse promised, angrily. He shook his head at Bo and Luke. "Nice friend ya got there."

"He is a good friend," Luke said quietly. "He gave us a chance to avoid this. If he needs us deputized, well, we were taught to help our friends."

"That's right," Bo agreed, hating to argue with Jesse, but knowing he wasn't being fair to Rosco.

"Good luck with that, then, and thanks for helping me," Jesse told them. "I'll just step into the Boars Nest and use the phone."

Rosco watched him go, shaking his head.

"You oughta run a shuck and jive, get him to tell you who that spy is," Luke suggested.

"I already know who it is. Fella name of Mike Futch. He's got a distant cousin in Hazzard, but he's from around Atlanta."

"The gun!" Luke exclaimed suddenly, rushing over to the shadows at the bottom of the building. He picked up the gun with his handkerchief and gave it to Rosco. "That's the gun those polecats had. Jesse got it away from one of them, but it got knocked from his hand."

Rosco grinned.

"Finally! If we can match this gun to the bullets taken from Marty, we'll be on our way to closing this case."

"Rosco...why did you deputize us? It can't be just because we keep running into those fellas," Bo asked.

"Well, that's part of it. Truth is I want you boys to talk Jesse into letting you drive along on all future moonshine runs, until I catch whoever is behind this. With you along and keeping contact with me, I might finally run down the drivers of that Pontiac. Being a deputy will keep you out of trouble, if you have to cross county lines."

"Why haven't you had Gamble and Hardgrove doing that?" Luke asked, curious.

"It would spread us too thin and Jesse would never allow it. I expect him to squawk about you two, but he owes you one and that might get him to agree."

"Agree to what?" Jesse asked, warily, coming out of the Boars Nest.

"Letting us go undercover as your runners and tagging along to protect the real runners."

"No way," Jesse said, firmly. "That's way too dangerous for everyone. I'm not gonna thank you for saving my life by getting you killed."

"Well, shoot, Mr. Duke, you ain't gotta worry about that," Bo assured him, grinning. "We can drive circles around those guys!"

"Might be the only way to get them stopped for good," Luke pointed out. "Plus, we owe them for what they did to Marty."

"Can you out shoot them?" Jesse asked dryly.

"Well, we ain't got..."

"I'll be providing you weapons. You'll wear them and use them if necessary," Rosco ordered them.

"You might have to teach them how to use them...and hope they have decent aim."

"We know how to use guns. We'll be fine," Luke told them, sighing at the bickering.

"Well, all right, then. I sure hope you boys know what Rosco and you are getting you into. You ever run any shine?"

"A long time ago, we did," Bo admitted, reluctantly. "We quit, though. We thought for good."

"Figures," Rosco said, chuckling. "I'll talk to Mickey tomorrow and let him know what's going on."

And that, folks, was that. Rosco had himself two shiny, new deputies to help catch Marty's attackers. Fortunately for them, and much to everyone's relief, Marty was on the mend. Well, everyone except Dillon and Matt. They and their boss weren't happy at all.

"What are we gonna do now?" Matt asked the next morning, as he climbed into the car beside Dillon.

"We're gonna kill them. All of them. I got Mr. Henry's permission to take out the sheriff. We're gonna kill him, Jesse Duke, and those two trouble makers."

"They got your gun."

"Yeah, we'll just have to get that back, once the sheriff is gone. His death'll make so much chaos, it'll cover our clean-up."

"So, him first?"

"Yeah, it'll unsettle those friends of his."

In small towns, everyone knows everyone else's business and folks tend to be helpful. It never occurred to poor Sammy that telling two fellas about Rosco having breakfast at the Boars Nest could cause a problem.

Finished with his meal, Rosco left the Boars Nest and got into his patrol car, planning on heading back to Hazzard. He had to file the paperwork on deputizing the Dukes, so he could get some weapons to them. He pulled onto the road and had only traveled a mile or two, when he felt something cold and hard brush the back of his neck.

"Good morning, Sheriff."

"You one of the fellas driving that Pontiac around?"

"I am. You can call me Matt. Now, I want you to turn off onto one of these side roads."

"Where we headed?"

"Some place out of the way and private."

"Sounds like you're gonna shoot me anyways. Why should I cooperate?"

"If I kill you here, someone else might come along and I'll have to kill them, too."

"Judas priest," Rosco swore.

"Yeah and, in case you decide to try anything, my partner is just a bit behind us."

Rosco nodded, not bothering to talk. He thought furiously, trying to find a way out. The road ahead grew narrower and steeper, with sharp curves. They were headed deeper into the woods. Rosco checked his rear view mirror to see how well the Pontiac was keeping up with them. He hid a grin. The Pontiac was close behind, but the Earls were catching up fast. Rosco slowed down a bit.

"Hey! What're you doing? Keep going!"

"I am, but unless you wanna kill me by making me wreck the car you're in, I gotta take it easy on these curves."

Matt was just dumb enough to buy that and didn't even bother looking behind for himself. He figured Dillon would let him know, if anything went wrong. Rosco waited for the Earls to catch up within a few feet, then slowed down even further.

"Speed back up!" Matt insisted. "I want us nice and deep into the woods."

"You wanna find yourself nice and deep inside a tree?"

"You drive like an old woman," Matt complained. "Are you hoping someone will come along and rescue you?"

"Something like that," Rosco admitted, flinging his car door open and jumping out of the vehicle.

As soon as Bo and Luke saw Rosco hit the ground, they picked up speed, ramming hard into the back of the Pontiac. Dillon swore. He'd seen the Duke boys, but had figured they'd just take care of them at the same time as the sheriff. The Dukes ramming him made it impossible for him to slow down enough to avoid the swerving patrol car and all three cars ended up crashing into a large tree. Bo felt his axle catch and break on some underbrush.

Fortunately, the Duke boys recovered first and hightailed it into the woods, keeping low and out of sight. They backtracked in a wide arc back to where they'd last seen Rosco. Now all three of those country boys were creeping slow and quiet, heading away from Dillon and Matt. Fortunately, they managed to find each other.

"What now?" Bo asked.

"That Pontiac didn't look very banged up. They can't use it to catch us, but they can use it to get away," Rosco said, frustrated. "Same can't be said of our cars."

"We're near the old mines. If we can take a short cut to them, we'll have a car and can cut them off."

"It'd have to be an awfully fast car," Rosco said, doubtfully. "Those fellas won't be stunned that long."

"Oh, it's fast," Luke promised, a bit smugly.

"Uh, Tom? Is this a good idea?" Bo asked.

"We're running out of options," Luke said pointedly.

Bo considered for a moment, then nodded.

"Let's go, then."

"Why do you have a car hidden in the mines?" Rosco asked, not suspiciously, exactly, but with a wariness the Dukes hadn't heard in awhile.

"Wait'll you see him. You'll understand. In fact, we're gonna explain a few things, as soon as we can," Luke promised. He turned to Bo, expecting his cousin to protest, but Bo was nodding.

"All right," Rosco agreed.

Luke led them to the right mine entrance and Bo went inside. He slowly drove the General Lee out. The boys had sneaked up to the mine ever so often to run the General and keep him in good shape. Rosco took one look at the General and whistled. Rosco wasn't an expert on cars, but he could tell this one was more advanced that any he'd ever seen.

"Where in the world did you get a car like that?" Rosco asked, amazed. "Is he some special car for the government or something?"

"Nope. He's just a race car. Climb in. You'll have to use the windows. The doors are welded shut."

Rosco rolled his eyes, but obeyed, climbing into the back seat. Bo and Luke took their usual places, with Bo behind the wheel. He turned to Luke with his brightest grin.

"Ready, cousin?"

"Let's go get 'em," Luke said.

Bo peeled off, heading back towards the crash site. They got there just as Dillon and Matt started taking off again. Bo grinned, happily. Dillon wasn't nearly as pleased.

"The hell is that?" Matt asked, rudely.

"It's them trouble makers and the sheriff in some fancy hot rod," Dillon growled. "Make yourself useful and fill them all full of holes!"

"You betcha," Matt agreed, leaning out the window.

Matt fired off a couple of rounds, but didn't do much, except scratch off some paint. The curves of the road and Dillon's high speed driving made aiming next to impossible. It didn't help that after the first shots, Rosco began firing back, forcing Matt back inside his car to take cover.

"It's too bad this guy's a crook. He's a good driver," Bo praised.

"You're both driving like maniacs," Rosco told him, wryly, making Bo laugh.

Dillon was good, but not as good as Bo, and nowhere near as familiar with Hazzard's roads. He took one sharp curve too many at high speed and ended up hitting a deep ditch. He went off the road and his car ended up on it's side. Bo pulled up, screeching to a halt. Rosco slithered quickly out the window, managing to get his gun aimed at Dillon and Matt, before Matt could get hold of his.

"Freeze!" Rosco ordered, shortly. "Get out of the car slowly. Keep your hands where I can see them. Tom, take my cuffs and lock them together, please."

"With pleasure," Luke agreed, grinning.

So, the Duke boys helped Rosco catch Dillon and Matt, who agreed to give state's evidence against August Henry, in exchange for reduced sentences. Rosco released Bo and Luke from being deputies. Now, Luke just has to find a way to explain to Rosco that they're from twenty years in the future.

Now, the Dukes may be good ole country people, but that don't mean they only watch westerns and the like. Science fiction is much appreciated in the Duke household. So, Daisy remembered a few tricks from some old movies and books. She delivered a couple of letters to the post office--with instructions that they be delivered in 1979.

Miss Tizdale rushed over to the county jail. Pushing open the door, she skidded inside, startling Enos. She took a deep breath, her short, plump form vibrating with excitement.

"Where's the sheriff?" she demanded.

"Sheriff's in his office, Miss Tizdale, but I'm under orders that he ain't to be disturbed, no matter what. Is there anything I can help you with?"

"NO! Oh, Deputy, I'm frazzled. I've never made an error like this before. I got a reputation to consider, you know!"

"You're the finest post mistress in Georgia," Enos said soothingly. "Whatever ya done, I'm sure it can be fixed."

"No, it can't! I was supposed to deliver this letter to him two whole weeks ago! TWO WEEKS!" she gasped, shaking her head. "There's no excuse for that sorta dereliction of duty. I gotta deliver it to him right away, then I gotta head out to the Duke farm and deliver another to Jesse Duke!"

Enos looked between her and the sheriff's door, torn. On the one hand, he was under strict orders. On the other, Enos felt bad for poor Miss Tizdale, who was only trying to do her duty. He sighed.

"Miss Tizdale, I know it ain't standard procedure, but could you let me take it into him?"

"Oh, I don't think I can do that," Miss Tizdale said, clasping the letters against her chest. "You ain't a mailman."

"No, ma'am, but I can accept deliveries on behalf of the sheriff's department."

"Well...only, I don't think the letter is police business. It's old and well...from a lady," Miss Tizdale whispered, winking.

"Possum on a gumbush," Enos whispered. "That letter wouldn't be from a Cathy Earl, would it?"

Miss Tizdale checked the name, just to be sure, then stared hard at Enos.

"How'd you know that, sonny? Don't go interfering with the U.S. mail!" she warned.

"It's a long story, Miss Tizdale. Come on, though, and I'll take ya into the sheriff."

Enos led her over to Rosco's office door and pounded urgently on it.

"Enos, I told you I ain't to be bothered," Rosco snapped, his voice carrying clearly through the closed door.

"Sheriff, Miss Tizdale needs to deliver a letter to you!" Enos told him.

"Well, take it off her and I'll look at it later."

"Sir, you're gonna want to see this right away."

"No, dipstick, I don't! I want you to go on, so I can get some work done."

"Let me handle this, Deputy," Miss Tizdale said, pushing Enos out of the way.

Once Enos was clear, Miss Tizdale threw the door open, letting it slam into the wall. Rosco stared at her in amazed indignation. Smiling apologetically, Enos crept in behind Miss Tizdale, who marched boldy up to the desk Rosco was sitting behind.

"Sorry, Sheriff, but you got your duty and I got mine!" Miss Tizdale declared, slapping the letter down on his desk.

"Well, seems like you got your duty done. Maybe now you'll go and let me do mine," Rosco suggested, angrily. "I mean, thank you and all, but you coulda just left a message for me to pick it up later."

"No, I couldn't," Miss Tizdale argued. "That letter's two weeks overdue and I had to deliver it as soon as humanly possible. So. You're welcome. Good day, Deputy."

"Good day, Miss Tizdale," Enos said, watching her stride off. "Um, Sheriff..."

"Enos, I've got the letter and I'll look at it later," Rosco said firmly, sorting through some paperwork. "Go on, now."

"Um, Sheriff...Rosco, sir," Enos stammered. "That there letter is from Cathy Earl."

Rosco started, dropping his paperwork and picking up the letter. The paper of the envelope was fine and yellow with age, crinkling in his hands. Rosco smiled a bit. Leave it to the Dukes to find a way to communicate, even if it was only one way. With shaking hands, he tore the envelope open. Enos took that as his cue to leave, backing silently towards the door.

"Thank you, Enos," Rosco told him.

"You're welcome, Sheriff," Enos said, as Rosco began to read, then quietly shut the door, leaving Rosco alone.

Dear Rosco,

I'm not quite sure how to start this. It seems strange to be writing to you, so far into the future, especially as I'm meeting you for lunch in about half an hour. I have so many questions to ask, but I won't get any answers, until we get home. I gotta believe that will happen. We're spotting more and more of those clouds around town. Do you remember the clouds we kept seeing around Hazzard in the fall?

Rosco, did you know this would happen? Is that why you never let yourself catch Bo and Luke? I'm not accusing you, sweetheart. It's just all so confusing, this time travel stuff. I got new sympathy for Kirk and Spock, haha! Sorry, I know it's no laughing matter, but I hope that gave you a chuckle. Strangely, I get the feeling you didn't know this would happen. I can't imagine you forgetting us. I don't want to think you would forget me, Earl or Duke...unless that's some time travel rule. After all, Daisy Duke is three years old in '59 and has never been time traveling.

Maybe you just never had reason to connect the Earls and the Dukes. If so, I hope you aren't too disappointed in your old friends. I hope you aren't disappointed in me. I love you so much, Rosco, 1959 or 1979, makes no difference. I guess that's the real reason I'm writing to you. I don't know of anything I can say that will get us home faster. What can anyone do in 1979? Then, again, maybe you'll think of something.

If this letter gets delivered when it should, we'll have been gone about a week. We've been in the past about seven months now. If you don't remember none of this, don't fret! We're okay. I know you might have a bit of a wait, before seeing us again. I've written to Uncle Jesse, too, so he'll know what's going on. Look out for each other, okay? Also look out for clouds with weird lights in them. They'll sit close to the ground, but they don't look like mist or fog.

Whatever else, sweetheart, just remember that I love you with all my heart. I want to be with you--and that ain't something I ever thought I'd write in a letter! But, it's true. Hopefully, I'll see you real soon. Take care of yourself, until I can get there.



Rosco set the letter down, trying to breath past the lump in his throat.

"Darlin', anyone disappointed in you doesn't deserve ya," Rosco whispered. "I love you, too."

Sweet Daisy didn't need to worry one bit. She owned Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane's heart. His memories of his time with the Earls was almost complete. He'd even started sleeping easier, now that he knew the Dukes were safe and what the dreams were all about. Now, while Rosco was getting his heart strings tugged on, Miss Tizdale was delivering that other letter...and had a far easier time of it! Jesse sat down at the kitchen table to read what Daisy had to say.

Dear Uncle Jesse,

I know a week can be a long time, when you're worried. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I don't know, if you've talked to Rosco or if you believed him, if you did. Maybe this letter will help. Bo, Luke, and I are okay, but we're in 1959, going by the name of Earl. That sounds so ridiculous, but it's true.

The thing is we've been in 1959 for several months now. This letter should reach you about a week after we vanish, so it might be a while, before you get to see us again. I am so sorry, Uncle Jesse. Don't worry, though! I promise we're doing just fine and we'll be home with you, just as soon as we can. Do you remember Tom and John Earl? Well, that's Bo and Luke! We love you and we miss you terribly.

Do me a favor, please, Uncle Jesse. Take care of Rosco for me. A lot of the reason we're doing so well is because of him. He's been a good friend. No, I won't be so mealy mouthed. I love him, Uncle Jesse. If he'll have me, I want to marry him. We've learned some things about him, here in the past. He's a smarter, kinder man than we ever realized and he's our friend.

I can hear you squawking and talking about people changing, sometimes for the worse. Maybe he has a bit, but not so much as you might think. Please, believe me, Uncle Jesse. You don't know him, so well as you think. All these years, we've accused Rosco of not being very bright. You never corrected us and you would've, if you really knew him. I hope, eventually, you and he will be great friends. Don't fall for his "dumb and crooked" act. We've seen enough to know he's only been pretending to try and capture Bo and Luke.

I love you. I can't wait to see you all again and be properly home. Keep an eye out for us and any strange clouds. Rosco will explain what I mean.



Jesse sat back and gave a tired sigh. Seven months? It might be that long, until he saw his kids again? He re-read Daisy's later, frowning at what she had to say about Rosco. Smarter and kinder? He'd always known Rosco had a basically good nature. Part of Jesse's anger at the man came from disappointment. Jesse tried to remember what Rosco was like as a young man, but couldn't get a clear picture of him. He remembered young Rosco had been honest and mostly fair.

Try as he might, Jesse couldn't remember where he'd first gotten the impression that Rosco was stupid. Sighing, Jesse stood and headed for his truck. It seemed he and Rosco needed to have a heart to heart talk. He drove to the county jail and found Enos manning the booking desk.

"Enos. Is Rosco available?" Jesse asked.

"I'll certainly ask for ya, Uncle Jesse," Enos said, smiling. "He got a letter today that might've put him in a good mood."

"From Daisy. Yeah, I got one too."

"Oh, yes, sir. Gimme just a sec," Enos said, going over and knocking on Rosco's door again.

This time, Rosco came out, looking around.

"What is it, Enos?" he asked, before spotting Jesse.

"We need to have a talk, Rosco," Jesse said, trying to sound friendlier than normal.

"Come on in," Rosco agreed, stepping back into his office.

Jesse followed him and sat down.

"Enos said you got a letter from Daisy," Jesse said. "I did, too, as a matter of fact. She said some pretty interesting things, including about you. She said I shouldn't fall for your 'dumb and corrupt' act."

Rosco chuckled.

"They aren't even back yet and they're outing me."

"Why the act? Why pretend to help and support J.D. Hogg?"

"I'm not pretending. Oh, I won't really let innocent people get sent to prison and I make sure the worst of his schemes fall through. Make no mistake though. I won't let anything happen to him or let him get pulled from power."

"Why, dagnabbit?" Jesse demanded.

"Why? Let me tell you something. There are a few facts I keep in mind--for those days when supporting Boss gets a bit hard. In 1959, the crime rate for all of Georgia was eleven point nine. For Choctaw county, it was ten point seven. For Hazzard? Six point four. Almost half! Last year the rate for Georgia was seventeen point one, for Choctaw fifteen point nine, and for Hazzard? Nine point two."

"Hazzard has a lot of good people," Jesse boasted.

"Sure, but it also has Boss Hogg and there's certain things Boss don't allow, like violence or drugs, especially the hard stuff."

"You're supposed to uphold the law," Jesse reminded him gravely, but without rancor.

"I'm also supposed to protect the citizens of Hazzard," Rosco countered.

"All right. What about Daisy? Whatever happened between you two back then..."

"If she'll have me, I plan to marry her," Rosco interrupted, his voice firm.

"She said pretty much the same about you," Jesse said with wry humor. "We gotta get them back first, though."

Jesse and Rosco working together? That's a team I wouldn't bet against. All they gotta do now is wait for the right weather to develop. That shouldn't be too hard for a couple of country boys like them.

Now, Luke Duke had made a promise to Rosco and Dukes always keep their word. So, as soon as they could, Bo and Luke went walking with Rosco on the outskirts of town. Problem is how do you sell a strange tale like that?

Bo and Luke walked quietly on either side of Rosco as they ambled slowly around the town. Luke started to speak a few times, but each time shook his head, stopping.

"For wanting to talk, you fellas sure are quiet," Rosco said softly. "Is it that bad?"

"Not bad, exactly, just strange," Luke complained. "I just don't see how you could believe us."

"You think I don't trust you?" Rosco asked, hurt.

"No!" Luke said hurriedly. "It ain't that at all."

"See, when we say strange, we don't just mean unusual," Bo explained. "We mean Twilight Zone levels of crazy."

Rosco studied them a moment, then shook his head, grinning.

"I know you ain't crazy, fellas. You're either gonna tell me or not. All this build up can't be helping."

"My cousins and I were out driving in the General Lee," Luke began, keeping his voice flat and steady. "We drove into one of those clouds. When we came out of the cloud...we were twenty years in the past."

"One of those clouds...and it just dumped you into a different time and place?" Rosco asked, not quite believing them, but not disbelieving either. They were just too worried and sober, for Rosco to think they were joking.

"Well, not place. We're from Hazzard."

"What are your real names?" Rosco probed.

Bo and Luke exchanged glances, then mutually shrugged.

"Duke. I'm Luke. He's Bo. Cathy is our cousin Daisy."

"Moon runners," Rosco observed, then gave a laugh. "You said you ran shine a long time ago. I guess twenty years counts."

"Actually, we quit about four years ago," Luke clarified.

"Why? The Dukes have been making shine for hundreds of years, according to Jesse."

"Not anymore. Bo and I got caught by the feds and the prosecutor was pressing all sorts of charges. We were given probation, but only because Uncle Jesse cut a deal. We'd quit running shine and he'd quit making it...forever."

"Yup, the Duke family is officially out of the moonshine business," Bo agreed.

Rosco rolled his eyes, giving a huff of annoyance.

"Well, all's well that ends well, I guess."

"Aw, c'mon, Rosco," Bo urged, not bothering to hide his hurt. "Why you got such a problem with our probation? We've never hurt anyone, never would. It ain't like we're dangerous."

"Oh, I know that," Rosco assured them, his expression softening. "It's nothing personal against you, Johnny. Look at it from the law's point of view, though. You were given probation in exchange for not running shine--which you shouldn't have been doing anyways!"

"Never thought of it like that," Luke admitted, grimly.

"I bet," Rosco teased, jostling Luke with his shoulder.

"Hey, now!" Luke protested, chuckling and jostling back.

"The real question is...what are you going to do now? Do you plan on going back?"

"We gotta. There ain't no Earls in 1979 in Hazzard."

"And no Cathy or Daisy Coltrane, either," Rosco guessed, feeling a heavy sorrow settle on him.

Bo stepped a bit closer, placing his arm around Rosco's shoulders.

"Rosco, we don't know any more than you what's gonna happen," Luke said. "I do know Cathy loves you and plans on staying by you, in one time or another."

"How do you even plan on getting home?"

"Same way we got here?" Bo suggested. "We'll have to find a cloud big enough to drive the General through."

Rosco looked between his two friends, incredulous and a bit horrified.

"That's it? That's your plan?"

"It's all we got," Luke defended.

"Uh huh. And what happens if ya go through one and don't get back to '79?" Rosco asked sharply. "What happens if you end up '29 or '99? Hell, what if you end up in 1979 B.C.?"

"It's a risk, but I don't think that'll happen," Luke said, soothingly. "Look at all the clouds showing up. I think history is trying to right itself."

"There's gotta be some way to test things. Have you tried looking these clouds up in the library?"

"I did, but I didn't find anything. Not so much as a tall tale."

"We could throw something into one and see what happens," Bo suggested.

"How would we know when it landed, though?" Rosco asked.

"We might be able to pull whatever we sent back, if we attached a line to it," Luke mused. "But, then, we'd have to hope someone saw it and sent a message back to us."

"You could write a message on something tough--a piece of canvas, maybe," Rosco said.

"Cathy should be getting off work in just a bit. Let's go pick her up and we can get started!" Bo said enthusiastically.

Now ain't that gonna be an odd sight? Three men and a lady going around Hazzard, throwing a letter on fishing line into clouds. Good thing Hazzard folks are used to a bit of weird. Let's see if they get a nibble.

Rosco watched gravely as Bo and Luke again threw their letter on canvas into a cloud. This one was right next to the county courthouse, but no one was paying them much attention. The day was overcast and cold. The few people who did pause, curious, just shrugged after a moment and went about their business. So far, they'd tried three other clouds, all of which had faded away, once Luke placed the letter in them.

"Rosco?" Daisy said, pulling lightly on his arm.

Rosco tore his gaze from the cloud and walked closer to her, letting her lead him a couple of feet away. Daisy kept her hand on his arm, but couldn't quite meet Rosco's eyes. After a moment, Rosco placed his other hand on hers.

"C'mon, darlin'," he encouraged. "Talk to me."

"Are you angry at me?" Daisy asked softly.

Rosco frowned, giving the question serious consideration, before finally shaking his head.

"Not at you, no. I guess I'm angry at the situation, but...what else could you have done? You certainly couldn't have come to town and introduced yourself as Daisy Duke. I don't regret loving you. Mostly, I guess I'm worried and sad."

"Why?" Daisy asked, concerned.

"I'm worried, 'cause there's no guarantee you'll get home safe. I'm sad 'cause, if you do, I won't see you properly for another twenty years. I'll be approaching fifty, not thirty."

"Rosco Coltrane, do you think that matters to me?" Daisy demanded.

"No, but maybe it should. You gonna want to marry me when I'm bald and feeble?"

"Well, I would, except you ain't neither of those things!"

"That's comforting at least," Rosco said, with a chuckle.

"Rosco? Ask me," Daisy whispered.

Rosco tugged her gently closer, wrapping his arms around her waist.

"Will ya marry me?"

"Yes. I love you, darlin'," Daisy answered, leaning into Rosco and kissing him deeply.

Bo and Luke both grinned, turning away.

"I wanna fish!" a young voice piped happily.

Rosco looked up to see a young girl in a blue dress with yellow flowers standing close to Luke...and to the cloud. He walked over to stand near the girl, looking around for her parents.

"Hi there!" Bo said cheerfully. "What's your name?"

"Daisy," she answered not noticing the wry look exchanged by the adults around her. "Can I?"

"We ain't aiming to catch fish, honey."

"You're not catching fishies?"

"Nope, no fishies," Luke agreed.

"There's no fishies in clouds?"

"Nah, ya need creeks and lakes and stuff for fish," Rosco explained.

"What's in the cloud?" Daisy asked, peering closer.

"Well, that's what we're trying to find out," Bo said, laughing.

"I'll find out!" Daisy cried brightly, rushing towards the cloud.

"No!" Rosco shouted, reaching out and scooping the tiny Daisy into his arms. "Uh. Y-you don't want to get your dress damp, honey. Stay out of the clouds, okay?"

"O-kayyyy?" Daisy said, confused.

"Daisy, honey, don't be scaring the sheriff," Molly Duke said, finally catching up to her energetic daughter. "Thanks for catching her for me."

"You're welcome."

"Hi, Mama!" Daisy said, giggling. "He's sherf?"

"Sher-iff, yes," Molly corrected. "You can tell by the shiny badge he's wearing."

"Yeah. He's got a badge," Daisy agreed, grabbing the badge and running her fingers around the edge. She reached up for his hat. "This is mine..."

Rosco watched as Daisy took his hat and placed it on her own head. He chuckled a bit at the sight.

"I'd say you need to do some growing, first," Rosco said. "Besides, that's part of my uniform, little lady."

"Give the hat back, Daisy," Molly scolded lightly.

Daisy placed the hat back on Rosco's head, pouting a bit.

"Thank you, darlin'," Rosco said, handing her over to Molly, adjusting the hat a bit.

Molly took Daisy, staring curiously at Luke. Luke just smiled boldly at her.

"I gotta ask. Why are you fishing in a cloud...and what are you using for bait?"

"A piece of canvas, ma'am," Bo answered honestly, with a cheerful grin.

"What are you hoping to catch?"

"Information. Ya gotta admit the clouds are a bit weird all on their own."

"You think the ones here are strange? You should see the one in the Partridges' barn. Most of these will fade soon, but that one just keeps getting bigger. It's big enough now to swallow a car."

The Dukes tried to hide their sudden excitement, disguising it as interest. Molly just grinned. Rosco tried to shrug casually, though he mostly looked uncomfortable.

"Nothing's gone missing out there, has it?"

"Not that I know of, Sheriff. Well, good luck to y'all. Say bye-bye, Daisy."

"Buh-bye!" Daisy shouted merrily, blowing kisses around at everyone, as Molly walked away.

"Bye, sweetheart," Luke said, amused.

Well, that sure was helpful of Aunt Molly. Now the boys know how to get home...assuming the clouds'll take them there.

"So, should we stay here or go out to the Partridge place?" Bo asked.

"I dunno," Luke admitted, giving a half-hearted tug on the fishing line. To his surprise, the line went taut.

"We got a bite!"

Everyone gathered round, staring. Luke gave light tugs on the string, but something tugged back. Finally, the line went slack and the canvas letter came flying out of the cloud. Shaking, Luke picked the letter back up. He grinned, seeing the message written on it:


This is 1979. The sheriff and I are all right. Now, get your backsides home.


your uncle

Underneath was a second message:

We got your letters. Let me know, if you can, when and where you'll come back. Send a message. I might not remember what you tell me in time to help.

"That's my handwriting," Rosco said, disturbed. "'I might not remember in time.' What...does that mean I won't remember all of this?"

The Dukes shrugged helplessly, saddened at the thought.

"It might," Luke said. "That would explain..."

"No," Rosco interrupted. "Don't tell me. That's likely why I forget, so I won't know the future."

Luke started to speak, but then stopped, nodding.

"Yeah. Sorry, Rosco. At least, it does sound like the memories come back," he offered.

Rosco grinned, thinking of the times they had mentioned their "friend from home" that Rosco reminded them of.

"Hopefully I won't be pulling my dumb act on you anymore."

Bo wadded up the letter and threw it at Rosco's head. Rosco ducked, laughing, as Daisy caught it. Luke shook his head.

"Hopefully," he agreed wryly, before sobering. "I think we oughta get the General and head out to the Partridge farm. We don't want to miss a chance at home."

"We ain't got much to pack, but we should take what we can with us, so people will know we left and didn't just disappear," Daisy argued.

"We best wait a bit anyways. Say three hours? We don't want to go mucking with Partridge's barn in broad daylight. You gonna send a note back here or wait until we get to the Partidge place?" Rosco asked.

"Best do it here," Luke decided, scribbling a hasty note on the canvas and sending it back into the cloud, saying:

We know of a cloud big enough for the General. We'll be at the Partridge farm in three hours. Meet us there. Hope to see you all soon.

True to Luke's word, in three hours Luke and his cousins pulled up to the Partridge barn in the General Lee. Rosco and his patrol car were already there. Friends and neighbors, I think the Dukes are almost home.

Rosco watched as Bo parked the General Lee next to the opening of the barn, within inches of the cloud. The Dukes clambered out and gathered around their friend.

"Y'all ready to go?" Rosco asked.

"Yeah. We left letters for our bosses and tidied up as best we could," Luke said.

Rosco nodded, unsure what to say.

"Rosco, um. We sure appreciate everything. This whole thing woulda been a lot harder, without you helping us and being our friend," Bo told him, awkward, but sincere.

"I don't know why that cloud brought you here, but I'm glad it did," Rosco said simply.

"Fellas! Look at the General!" Daisy cried.

Looking over, the men saw the cloud shift and grow just enough to engulf the General Lee. Bo started to run toward the General in horror, but Luke caught him by the arm.

"Wait. Let's see what happens."

After a few minutes, a handkerchief floated out of the cloud. There was writing in ink on it, reading:

The General has come through. Where are you?

Luke gave Rosco an apologetic smile.

"Oops," he said, quickly scribbling an answer and tossing it into the cloud.

We're coming through on foot. We should be there in a few minutes.

"I guess we better get going," Luke told them.

"Yeah, I guess ya better," Rosco agreed wryly.

Rosco held out his hand to Luke, who used it to pull Rosco into a tight hug. Bo and Daisy took their own hugs. Rosco was flustered and a bit embarrassed, but he returned the hugs. Daisy lingered, placing her head on his shoulder. Rosco gently pulled her chin up and kissed her tenderly.

"I'll see ya later," he whispered.

"Yeah, you will," Daisy agreed firmly. "Y'know what else? I really am gonna snag that hat of yours."

She reached over and took Rosco's white cowboy hat, placing it on her own head. Rosco chuckled and adjusted the hat, setting it at a jaunty angle.

"Looks good on you. I love you, sweetheart."

"I love you, too. See you soon, darlin'."

"We gotta go," Luke said apologetically.

"I know," Daisy agreed, then leaned in and gave Rosco a lingering kiss.

"Daisy," Bo protested, pulling her away. "You can carry on with that, when we get home!"

"Oh, Bo!" Daisy swore, reaching up and swatting him hard on the shoulder.

"Come on!" Luke demanded, shaking his head, while Rosco just laughed quietly. "We'll go one at a time...just in case."

"Ladies first!" Daisy said, turning and walking boldly into the cloud.

Daisy was startled to find herself struggling up a steep incline. Taking a deep breath, she pushed forward. Soon, she found herself forced to crawl upwards on her hands and knees. She couldn't see much of the terrain, seeing mostly swirls of gray. Where or whenever she was, Daisy managed to find hand and footholds to push herself further up. Finally, the ground leveled off and she came to a stone barricade. Reaching up, Daisy just managed to grab the top of the stones.

Daisy managed to crawl halfway up the stones, before skidding down, scraping her hands. She gave a sharp cry of frustration, which echoed up. Squaring her shoulders, Daisy took a running leap at the top of the wall. To her surprise and relief, strong hands grabbed onto her arms and began pulling her up. After a moment, Daisy found herself sitting at the top of a water well. Rosco, the older, dear Rosco she had known for years, stood in front of her, still gently, but firmly, gripping her arms.

Daisy grinned brightly at him.

"Hi, darlin'!" she proclaimed, before surging forward to kiss him deeply.

Rosco didn't hesitate to return the kiss, pulling her into his arms.

"Hello, sweetheart. You all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. It wasn't an easy trip, but I made it!" Daisy said, happily.

"Let's hope Bo and Luke aren't far behind."

They weren't. Soon enough, them good ole boys were climbing out of the well, grinning at the sight of Daisy and Rosco. Ain't nothing to make a person misty-eyed like a reunion between old friends. This one is bound to be a bit awkward.

Luke climbed last out of the well and paused, hearing Bo whistle. Daisy had been too distracted by Rosco to notice, but now all three cousins gaped at the tall wall of cloud and wind that whirled around them in a circle. Nothing was in the circle except for the well, Rosco's patrol car, an old pickup truck with a load of fresh hay, and the General Lee.

"What in tarnation is that?" Bo asked.

"It showed up about ten minutes after I did. That was about an hour ago," Rosco told them, shrugging tiredly. "The good news is that it's a bit lower than it was before. When I first got here you couldn't see nothing past it. Now, you can just make out the barn."

Luke started to comment, but then stopped, noticing the dark circles under Rosco's eyes.

"Rosco? Are you okay?"

"Just tired," Rosco answered, laughing ruefully. "I've had several months of memories come back, packed into three weeks of dreams."

Bo and Luke came and sat next to Rosco and Daisy on the edge of the square well.

"You really didn't remember us then."

"No. After you left, all those memories just faded. Oh, if you'd asked me about the Earls a year ago, I probably woulda had some recollection of them. I didn't remember the way I should've, though, and I certainly had no idea it was y'all."

"It does make sense, in a way. Time protects itself," Luke mused.

"Yeah," Rosco agreed.

The conversation died. Bo and Luke both thought hard. They were still confused by the differences between Rosco in the past and the man they had thought they knew so well. Rosco looked at their hesitant, confused faces and smiled fondly.

"I guess I need to explain myself a bit. I owe you some answers," he admitted.

"We know you've been doing a lot of pretending. You could have really arrested us and not lost us in all those chases. We just don't understand why," Bo complained.

Rosco placed a gentle hand on the back of his young friend's neck, giving a comforting squeeze.

"It's changed over time. Remember, you got your parole about the same time as I lost my pension. My anger over my worries sorta bled over onto you fellas...and I'm sorry for that. Truthfully, I should've had this talk with you a long time ago, with or without your trip to the past."

"You didn't know us then," Luke said.

"No. I really didn't. You were just criminals getting away with running shine."

"You didn't used to mind that, either," Bo pointed out, feeling even more confused. "The running shine, I mean."

Rosco gave a sad laugh.

"I was young and naive...not to mention being from Hazzard. I thought back then running shine was pretty innocent, a victim-less crime. I winked at and pretty much ignored it. I refereed races between men I knew earned their living from moonshine and smuggling," Rosco explained, before giving them a pointed look. "Others paid the price for my indulgence."

"Others...oh, Lord," Luke groaned, rubbing his face. "Rosco, please tell me you ain't spent the past eighteen years feeling guilty about our parents' deaths."

"Why not?" Rosco asked softly.

"You weren't even there!" Daisy protested. "Uncle Jesse told us you were away in Atlanta that entire week at a convention."

"I was, sure. Point is, though, I nurtured an environment that let running shine flourish."

"It's only coincidence they were running shine at all," Luke said kindly. "They could just as easily have died going to the Boar's Nest or any other drive around Hazzard."

"Maybe, but I didn't see it that way at the time. I turned against running shine, started taking it seriously. By the time you boys were arrested, all I saw was a couple of young criminals, scoffing at the law."

"Something had to change, though, if you've been keeping us out of jail," Bo said.

Rosco grinned, amused.

"You changed. You grew up and started helping people. Unfortunately, by that time, I was in deep with Boss and you only knew me as an old enemy. Pride kept my mouth closed at first, though I never really sunk low enough to let you or anyone else get railroaded."

"I guess our falling for your dumb act hook, line, and sinker didn't help any either," Luke said with a sigh.

"That and I didn't expect you to believe me, if I tried to explain."

"Why support Boss at all though?" Bo demanded.

"Other than him being my brother-in-law and keeping me off of welfare? Bo, someone is going to be head of crime in Hazzard. There's no avoiding that. Now, would you rather have someone like Boss or someone like McQuade or Hickman?"

Bo and Luke thought of the trouble they'd had, when other crime bosses had come to Hazzard. They grimaced, nodding.

"Problem is, sweetheart, what happens, when Boss realizes what you're up to?" Daisy asked.

"He's bound to find out, sooner or later," Luke warned.

"Oh, he knows," Rosco assured them. "He don't admit it to himself, but he knows. Not much gets past Boss."

"Now I'm really confused," Bo admitted. "Why would he let ya?"

"Several reasons. Boss may hate himself for it, at times, but he does care about people, especially family. Most of his aggression towards you fellas is just bluster...and his greed getting the better of him."

"Yeah and he's got plenty of greed to be getting him, too," Luke chided.

"He does," Rosco said, agreeably, then chuckled. "Still, every other sheriff he's had was an even worse disaster. I might mess up his grander schemes, but I let him get away with just enough. He can't risk an entirely honest sheriff, someone like Little, replacing me."

"Yeah, we wouldn't like that none ourselves," Bo said, thinking of Little and his military style approach to law enforcement.

"What about now?" Luke asked soberly.

"Well, I can hardly go around chasing my in-laws," Rosco said cheerfully. "I'm afraid my little buddy is gonna have to face up to some truths."

"He ain't gonna like that. What if he fires you?" Bo asked.

"He won't. Boss has threatened me a few times with the idea of him divorcing Lulu, but he never would. My sis'll be tickled pink at the idea of Daisy and me getting married. She'll keep him in line long enough for him to get used to the idea."

"Yeah, now we just have to get out of here and tell everyone. What time is it? " Luke asked.

"It's almost eleven."

"Dang. It'll be two in the morning, before that thing's low enough for us to get over, at this rate."

"If you think I'm staying up until two in the morning, waiting for that to blow itself out, your lug nuts are loose!" Rosco declared.

"Well, what're ya gonna do, then?" Bo asked, laughing.

"There's a truck full of clean hay, right over there. I'm gonna get some sleep."

"Sounds like a good plan to me," Luke agreed.

Rosco got up and walked to the truck's back. Climbing in, he settled in the middle. The Dukes followed behind him. With a saucy smile, Daisy curled up on Rosco's lap, resting against his chest. The boys settled on either side of them, huddling close for warmth. Rosco looked at his company and shook his head in bemusement, but didn't argue. He laid his head back and let himself drift to sleep.

Now ain't that a sight? Fortunately, Rosco did manage to get a good night's sleep. He didn't tell no one where he was going, so ole Enos was out early looking for him. Jesse was out and about, too, anxious for news of Daisy and the boys. Can you imagine their reaction to that scene in the truck?

Rosco woke to a clicking sound coming from a few feet away. He opened his eyes just enough to make out what it was, then closed them again.

"Enos, if you don't stop taking pictures of me, I'm gonna dump you and that camera in the nearest creek," Rosco growled.

"Oh, no, you won't," Daisy said, firmly, her face still pressed warmly against Rosco. "Enos, don't you let anything happen to that film. I want copies!"

Rosco gave a raspy chuckle, running a gentle hand over her hair.

"Sure thing, Daisy," Enos said happily. "Good morning, Sheriff. Hey, fellas."

"Hey, Enos. I want coffee," Bo added thickly, still mostly asleep.

"Daisy Duke, get off the sheriff and out of that truck," Jesse ordered gruffly, then watched her obey. "If ya want coffee, get up and get home, so I can make breakfast for ya!"

"Yes, sir," Luke agreed cheerfully, groggily pulling himself out of the truck and to his feet.

Rosco got himself up, stretching. He yawned, amazed at how good he felt. Looking around, he smiled at the Dukes, sending up a silent prayer of thanks.

"Rosco," Jesse said. "You gonna join us and Enos?"

"Yes, thank you, Jesse. I think I will," Rosco agreed.

Daisy started to wrap her arm around his, then grinned mischievously. Reaching up, she took his black hat and replaced it with the white one from the past. Rosco smiled, shaking his head.

"You done swiping my hats now?" he asked, teasing.

"For now," Daisy conceded happily.

"Come on, you two," Jesse ordered.

"I'm gonna ride with Rosco," Daisy said.

"Aw, why?" Bo asked, laughing. "Don't you trust my driving, cousin?"

"Boy, you just get in that car and get back to the farm," Jesse ordered dryly.

Everyone laughed, heading for their vehicles.

Well, it ain't the easiest way to forge a friendship, but that's Hazzard for ya. Things sometimes take a strange turn, but everything usually works out in the end.

Rosco and Daisy are getting married and y'all are invited to take a peek at their nuptials. Few things in Hazzard go off without any sort of hitch, not even getting hitched. This is especially true, if Dukes, Coltranes, or Hoggs are involved. Heaven help us, when it's all three. Naturally, telling Boss was the first hitch to get over and then picking a best man.

Boss sat at his table in the back of the Boars Nest, his head in his hands.

"It weren't bad enough my deputy spends all his time mooning over that girl. Now my sheriff--my own brother-in-law--is doing the same thing!"

"I'm not mooning over her. I'm marrying her."

"That's even WORSE!" Boss shouted, indignantly.

"I know, Boss," Rosco said soothingly. "I know you're upset."

"You ain't even holding the ceremony at the Boars Nest or letting me preside!" Boss wailed. "You ain't thinking of me at all!"

"Boss, Daisy wants a church wedding, with a preacher and everything. She only skipped all that with Enos, because she didn't have time for it. Now, is there anything I can do to make this easier on you?"

Boss looked sharply at Rosco, trying to gauge how sincere the man was. Rosco wasn't wearing his usual eager-to-please expression, but Boss never trusted that look anyways. Rosco's steady gaze back at him was calm and slightly sympathetic, though. Boss considered what he could ask for that would soothe his battered pride. He needed something big to make up not only for the lack of profit in the business, but for Rosco going mostly honest again.

"I want to be best man," Boss demanded. "Only I don't do no ushering! After all, I'm your brother-in-law. Bo and Luke're only your cousins-in-law and they won't even be that, until after the ceremony!"

Rosco carefully hid a triumphant smile. He and Luke had planned to offer that honor as a pacifier. It kept Rosco from having to choose between Bo and Luke for the honor. Enos and Cletus would complete the groomsmen party and do the ushering. Daisy's friends Rose Ellen Sally Jo and the other waitresses from the Boars Nest would form most of the bridal party.

"Of course, I want you for my best man," Rosco said warmly.

"You do?" Boss asked, warily, not quite believing it, though he genuinely wanted Rosco to like the idea.

"Of course, I do. You're my little buddy," Rosco assured him. "It works real well, too, since Lulu is gonna be Daisy's matron of honor."

"She is?" Boss asked, startled, but pleased on behalf of his dumpling.

"She sure is."

That's all it took to get Boss settled. Once you side-step past his greed and ego, Boss is almost agreeable. Now, Dukes tend to be agreeable first and only get ornery, when they gotta. Still, most of the ones not living in Hazzard took the news of Daisy's impending wedding with a huge ole grain of salt. A couple of the more suspicious types decided to pay a visit, a bit before the wedding date.

"Hey, pretty lady!"

Daisy looked up from spreading chicken feed around the front of the barn and grinned.

"Coy! Vance!" she cried merrily. "When did you two get here?"

"Just a few minutes ago," Vance answered, sweeping her into a huge hug, before passing her to Coy.

"How's our prettiest cousin?" Coy asked.

"I don't know. Bo's in town with Luke," Daisy teased.

Vance laughed, but his mirth faded a bit, when he recognized the black cowboy hat Daisy wore.

"Oh, now, what's that look for?" Daisy asked, worried that she already knew.

"Daisy, uh...we got an invite from Lulu Hogg...for you getting married to Rosco?" Vance questioned.

Daisy didn't let her smile falter, but her hands went to her hips.

"That's right. It's next Sunday. You're three days early."

"Well. What's going on?" Coy asked.

"Rosco and I are gettin' married. It's just that simple, fellas."

Coy and Vance exchanged uneasy glances.

"No offense, cousin, but...why would you do that?" Vance asked.

"Because he's a wonderful man and I love him," Daisy said, her tone becoming sharper.

"Rosco?" Coy asked, sheepishly, unable to hide his disbelief.

Daisy huffed, folding her arms and striving for patience.

"Look, I know you mean well, but you don't really know him. None of us Dukes did, until recently. He's not what you think."

"Who isn't?" Rosco asked, coming up behind them.

Daisy smiled warmly, walking swiftly to her lover's side. Coy and Vance both noted how her expression brightened at Rosco's presence. It was impossible to miss the new softness in her eyes and the flush in her cheeks. Daisy, at least, was genuinely in love. Vance turned to study Rosco and almost did a double take. There was pride in Rosco's expression, but nothing cold or aloof. Vance couldn't recall the man ever wearing such a warm look, except maybe with Flash.

"Hello, Coy, Vance. It's good to see you. We didn't expect you so soon. Bo and Luke said you might not get here, until Sunday," Rosco said, his new warmth evidently extending to them.

"They came to check up on me and see what we were really up to," Daisy told him with mild sarcasm.

"They plannin' on giving me a shovel talk?" Rosco said amused.

"A what?" Daisy asked, concerned.

"Basically a speech that boils down to if I hurt you, they hurt me," Rosco explained.

"They better not!" Daisy warned, glaring at her cousins.

"You can't blame them for worryin' for you."

Daisy tossed the rest of the chicken feed to the ground and wiped her hands on her jeans. She gave Rosco a rather hard kiss, then took the white cowboy hat he wore and gave him the black one.

"Fine. Have your little man to man talk. I'm going in to start supper. You joining us, sweetheart?" Daisy asked, softly, relenting.

"Glad to," Rosco assured her, winking.

Smiling, Daisy left. Coy and Vance watched her go, before turning a bit sheepishly to Rosco, who leaned casually against the barn. Vance took a breath, then shrugged.

"We didn't really have a shovel talk in mind, Rosco. It ain't like Daisy can't take care of any guy who disrespects her."

"That's true," Rosco agreed, cheerfully.

"You can't blame us for being worried though," Coy added.

"No and I don't," Rosco said sincerely. "I doubt anything I say'll convince you. Just--I do love her."

"Thought you despised us Dukes on principal," Vance said grimly.

Rosco shook his head.

"No, though I acted it at times and I'm sorry for it. Act being the operative word. Anyway, I can't imagine anyone really despising Daisy."

"Fair enough, but I still find it hard to believe you two are getting married."

"Well," Rosco said, laughing. "If you want to take your chances, Cooter is offering ten to one odds against us. Luke's keeping track of the money."

Vance and Coy stared blankly at Rosco for a few moments, then burst into laughter.

"Uh uh," Coy said. "I wouldn't want Daisy finding out I bet against her!"

"Why? I'm sure she'd take your money as cheerfully as anyone else's. She's bet fifty dollars in favor of us," Rosco admitted, grinning.

"That's pretty confident," Vance said, chuckling, then grew serious again. "Rosco. If this is real, we don't wish you anything, but happiness."

"I know," Rosco said kindly. He walked over and patted Vance on the shoulder. "Come on. We better show Daisy none of us are sporting black eyes."

"We weren't planning on hitting anyone!" Coy protested, even as Vance steered him towards the house.

"Yeah, yeah. I think Daisy might like it, if we let her know we're happy for her," Vance instructed.

Most Dukes are too full of love to deny that sort of blessing to anyone, much less their own kin. Coy and Vance sure weren't going to do it. Now, it was just a matter of waiting for it to be Sunday. Folks, it's time we had ourselves a wedding.

Sunday was a busy day. Everyone in the wedding party and Mama Coltrane showed up for breakfast at the Duke farm, before attending services. After church, the bride and groom had three hours to get dressed and deal with any last minute complications. Lulu had worked with Bo and Luke to have everyone's outfits ready and waiting at the Duke farm. The gals were getting dressed and putting on make up in Daisy's bedroom, while Rosco and the other fellas got dressed in Bo and Luke's room.

While everyone else got dressed, Lulu was reigning in the kitchen, making sure everyone was well-fed and trying to help Uncle Jesse manage the chaos being created. Dukes, Coltranes, and Hoggs came and went, making last minute preparations and making sure everything was in order.

"Lulu. Have you seen Rosco? He ain't finished dressing and we can't find him!" Bo complained.

"No, darlin', I sure haven't. He might be in the bathroom. Why don't you sit and grab a snack. I'll go look for him. Eat up! You don't want to get hungry and I made plenty of food to go around!"

Lulu bustled out and Bo looked at the table, which was groaning with food. Lulu had set out a proper brunch, with biscuits, sausages, bacon, deviled eggs, fruit salad, cold cuts, breads, cheeses, olives, and half a dozen other dishes. He grinned, grabbing a small plate, before continuing his search for Rosco.

Lulu met him in the hall, looking exasperated.

"Bo, have you seen Daisy? We've only got another couple of hours and she ain't even in her dress yet!"

"No, ma'am, but I'll keep an eye out for her too! Any sign of Rosco?"

"No, but he's around here somewhere. I'm gonna see if J.D. knows where he's at."

"Okay," Bo said agreeably, deciding to check outside.

Luke met him at the door, shaking his head.

"Don't bother, cousin. Neither of them is out there."

Vance and Coy came out of the guest bedroom, fully dressed in their suits.

"Hey, cousins. How's it going?"

"Rosco and Daisy are both missing and we need to get them to finish dressing!" Luke explained.

"Did you check the side porch?" Vance asked.

"Nope," Bo said.

"Me neither. I guess that's next," Luke said, heading for the door in the living room.

The other Duke boys followed and choked back laughter, when Luke got the door open. Rosco and Daisy were curled up on the porch swing, with her in his lap, sharing a deep kiss. Rosco was almost dressed, though his shirt was opened and not tucked in. Daisy was wrapped up in her winter house robe. Mama Coltrane noticed the Duke boys hovering around the door and came to see what they were staring at.

"Rosco Pervis Coltrane!" she chided sharply, making him start.

"Oh. Hi, Mama," he said sheepishly, while Daisy giggled.

Mama Coltrane came and took Daisy's hand in a firm, but gentle, grip.

"You'll have the rest of your lives for that. Right now, you have a ceremony to get ready for! Come on, Daisy darlin', and I'll give you a hand with your dress. Rosco, if you see Lulu, send her along to help with Daisy's hair!" Mama commanded.

"Yes, Mama," Rosco agreed ruefully.

"Well, now that you're not distracted, you wanna come along and finished getting dressed, too?" Bo asked, laughing.

"I practically am!" Rosco protested, grinning. "I ain't putting that coat on, until the last minute."

"Okay, but just don't disappear on us," Luke grumbled.

"All right, I'm sorry," Rosco said soothingly, buttoning his shirt up, as he came back into the house.

See what I mean about chaos? I'm sure some of you are just waiting for something to go wrong...along with half of Hazzard county. Have you got your bets in with Cooter? I'm not sure I'd risk my money either way. We best be getting to the church.

Rosco stood at the altar. The bridal hymn was playing and he stared at the doors to the chapel. He noticed Bo was flirting quietly with the bridesmaid opposite of him. Luke caught Rosco's eye and gave a supportive nod and smile. Rosco smiled back, then beamed as Daisy entered, taking Jesse's arm and walking slowly down the aisle to him.

Most of those who still thought the wedding was a joke swiftly changed their minds. When Daisy reached her groom and placed her hand tenderly in his, the look they exchanged was full of love, ignoring the rest of the world. Matter of fact, the preacher had to clear his throat three times to get their attention. Bo would tease them a lot about that, later on.

The ceremony went smooth and sweet, with Rosco and Daisy exchanging their vows solemnly and sincerely. Boss handed over the rings at the proper time, displaying a pride in his role and in Rosco that he usually kept well hidden. The preacher pronounced them man and wife and Rosco kissed his bride. Their guests ooooo'd and aaahhhh'd at the soft, heated kiss the couple exchanged.

Cooter broke the moment by sitting on the back of one of the pews and addressing as much of Hazzard as had managed to fit into the church.

"All right. This is a done deal, so you can count your money as lost, if you was dumb enough to bet against them. For the rest of y'all, you can collect your winnings from Bo and Luke during the reception!"

There were a few moans, but many more cheers, even from some of the folks that had bet against. Everyone filed out, heading for the reception at the Boars Nest.

That folks is the legend of how the Coltranes and Dukes became friends and then kin. Hazzard is a different kinda county and it ain't always easy. Still, there ain't no better place for a happy ending...like this one.
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