This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any actual resemblance to persons or historical persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The Dukes of Hazzard characters, settings, locales, ect. are owned by other entities who have not endorsed this fic nor have they given express permission for the character's use. Author makes not claims to these characters and is not making any profit from their use.
All original characters are the property of the author(s).
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© Copyright: 2002. Cuz Bonita and Lisa Philbrick
The sound of boots clomping up the stairs was followed by a knock on MaryAnne's bedroom door. "Hey, Deputy! You got somethin' in the mail."
MaryAnne looked over at the door and then got up from her desk. "I never get mail," she said. "Unless it's addressed to 'Occupant.' Khee!" She opened the door.
"Like you should complain. I never get mail unless it's from the courthouse." Brian handed MaryAnne the letter. "It's official-lookin', but there ain't no return address. I held it up to the light but I couldn't read through the envelope...uh, anyway here ya go."
MaryAnne eyed her cousin. She looked at the envelope. Brian was right, it was official looking. But the lack of a return address bothered her. She turned it over and slipped her finger through the seal, tearing it open. Once the paper was unfolded before her, she read:
To Deputy MaryAnne Coltrane, Hazzard County Sheriff's Department: You are hereby ordered by the authority of the Federal Government of the United States to resign your position as Deputy and report to the Altanta FBI headquarters. Compliance with this order is required within 48 hours. Debriefing to follow. Sincerely, Commander Frank Mayson, Atlanta Bureau, FBI.
MaryAnne re-read the letter, if only to avoid looking at Brian for a few moments. Resign as Deputy?? Now just how do they expect me to explain that to Rosco?? Once she was sure she had a good poker face put on, she looked up and folding the paper and shoving it back into the envelope.
Brian caught the look. "What's wrong? What is it, MaryAnne?"
“Oh nothing." She gave a shrug. "I gotta go to Atlanta. Some new evidence's come up in a case I was involved with when I served there. They could be close to finally closing it." She gave Brian a flawless grin. "They need my expertise."
"They can't need it more than Hazzard does."
MaryAnne chuckled. "I'm sure Hazzard will function okay with out me for awhile. It did before I got here."
"Khee! Yeah, I've heard the stories. So you gotta go to Altanta to help nail some hapless bad guy r' somethin'?" Brian peered at the envelope. His cousin had always been somewhat of a private person, but usually she enjoyed talking shop.
MaryAnne tilted the envelope closer to her, hiding it from Brian. "Yeah. It was a pretty sensitive case, kinda hush-hush."
"Ah." Brian knew better than to pry. If MaryAnne didn't want to talk about it, then hell or high water wouldn't get it out of her. He privately speculated that the case may involve an old associate of his, which could explain her reluctance to talk about it. The variety of career backgrounds in the Coltrane household often necessitated some caution. "Awright, it's one of those cop-things, I gotcha. Listen, I gotta take off, I'm helpin' ol' man Avery with the harvest. I'll be back in time for supper."
MaryAnne nodded. "Alright. I'm making fried chicken, so don't be late!" she grinned.
"I won't!" Effectively distracted, Brian forgot about the mysterious letter and hustled down the stairs. "I'm gone!" he yelled as the screen door slammed shut behind him.
MaryAnne chuckled softly but then it faded. She opened the letter again and read it. She drew in a big sigh, knowing she was going to have to pull a big shuck and jive on her own kin. And they weren't going to like it.
It was just past noon at the Hazzard County Sheriff's Department, but Rosco was already having a bad day. A mid-morning chase of the Dukes had left his patrol car scuffed, and Boss had taken the news with his usual lack of sympathy. Rosco purged some of his frustration by verbally abusing Enos, and worked out the rest by vehemently stamping his month-end reports. Flash gave a whine as one loud stamp woke her from her nap. "Sorry darlin'," Rosco said to his bassett hound. He resumed stamping, abeit more quietly. Maybe he could get the Dukes on something this afternoon....
The booking room doors swung open, and Rosco looked up to see MaryAnne striding through them with determined purpose. "Oh, hello MaryAnne," he said, managing a smile for his favorite cousin.
"Hi, Rosco," MaryAnne replied quickly, but not snappy. She was pleasant, if only to avoid drawing any suspicions from her cousin. Her mind was already swirling with 'what-ifs' and possibilities of how to slip out of Hazzard quietly, even though it wasn't going to be necessarily temporarily.
"You see what them Dukes did to my patrol car again?" Rosco said conversationally. "Ya know, someday I'm gunna give 'em a fine so big they'll have to mortgage their teeth to pay it..." The Sheriff''s grumbling was automatic. MaryAnne's friendship with the Dukes didn't change the fundementals of Hazzard.
"Yeah, I saw." MaryAnne looked absently at the paperwork on the desk closest to Boss's office. "Maybe if ya stopped chasin' them...."
"What? Arrrrrre you kiddin' me, without the Dukes, business for the Sheriff's Department would plain dry up...khee khee!" Rosco grinned at the admission.
MaryAnne glanced at Rosco and merely shook her head. "Yeah, I suppose ol' Cooter would go out of business too." She flashed an amused smile at her cousin. "Listen, I'm gonna use the phone in your office for a bit." She didn't wait for an answer and disappeared into the office, closing the door.
"Okay-" the shut of the door cut off Rosco's answer. Bemused, he looked down at Flash. "She musta had somethin' on her mind." Flash woofed an assent, and Rosco went back to his paperwork.
MaryAnne sat at Rosco's desk with the phone to her ear. "Commander Mayson, please," she said. As the call was transferred, she glanced at the photo of her, Rosco and Enos that was on the corner of Rosco's desk. She quickly looked down at the desk top, not liking what she was going to have to do. And only having 48 hours to do it.
Apparently the call had been expected. "Commander Mayson speaking," came a crisp and familiar voice.
"Commander, this is Deputy Coltrane. I, uh...received your message..."
"And I assume you're startled by it's abrupt nature. This matter is classifed, Deputy, and I can't tell you more until you're here in person. This line may not be secure. Understood?"
"I understand, Commander, but you put me in a very difficult position. All I can say, is it better be worthwhile."
"Is serving your country worthwhile, Deputy?" There was a heavy tone to the Commander's voice.
"I already serve my country, Commander." She sighed. "And yes, it's worthwhile." She paused. She knew she was never going to find out what was going on until she actually got to Atlanta. And she wasn't sure she was going to like what she would find out. "I'll be speaking to you soon, Commander."
"Very good. Thank you, Deputy Coltrane." Mayson hung up.
MaryAnne slowly hung up the phone. She then got up and left the office.
Rosco looked over when the office door opened. Seeing his cousin's expression, he frowned in concern. "Somethin' wrong, MaryAnne?"
"No. Um, listen, I gotta go to Atlanta. It's for a case I was involved with when I was an officer there. New evidence and all."
"Oh. Okay, I'll have Enos cover your patrol. How long you gonna be gone?"
MaryAnne paused. "I dunno." She looked at Rosco and shrugged.
Rosco stood up and moved out from behind the booking desk. Something in his cousin's voice sounded like trouble. "MaryAnne, what's goin' on?"
"Nothing!" She headed towards the door. "I just don't know when I'll be back. I should be back before supper." Hopefully...
"MaryAnne," Rosco said again, intercepting his cousin's retreat at the door. "I can tell somethin's up. If you don't wanna talk about it, that's okay, but I'm at least gonna drive you to Atlanta."
"Rosco, you don't need to drive me to Atlanta. I'm okay." She smiled at him and patted his arm. "I'll see ya later, okay?"
Rosco studied her for a minute, then grasped her shoulder. He was worried about MaryAnne, but that didn't give him the right to intrude. "Awright," he said, relenting. "But you be careful, ya hear? And I want you to call once you're there, and radio me on the way back."
"Yes, mother." She gave him a smirk.
"Git on with ya then!" Rosco said with feigned gruffness. His over-protection of MaryAnne was second nature, and both of them knew it. "I got work to do around here anyways."
MaryAnne grinned. "See ya later." She slipped out of the booking room doors and out of the courthouse. Her grin was faded now. She was half way to her patrol car when she stopped. I'm supposed to resign as Deputy.... Something was telling her not to take the white Plymouth to Atlanta. She changed direction and headed to the impound yard, where Maverick waited.
The blue Firebird slipped out of town and headed towards Atlanta. In the hour drive it took to get there, MaryAnne couldn't stop thinking about the letter and what Commander Mayson had said. And then Rosco's concern...good grief...when she suddenly turned in her badge, he was really going to want to know what was going on. She wondered if the Commander was aware just how difficult resigning as Deputy was going to be.
What the heck do they want me for anyway??? Country deputy leadfoot for a high priority obviously very sensitive case? And a Coltrane to boot? Were they nuts?? Maybe I can get out of it....
And not serve your country? MaryAnne sighed. Maverick hummed along at his cruising speed.
An hour later, Maverick wound his way through old streets. The car seemed to sputter a little. Either it was stop and go traffic...or the old boy just didn't want to be back in this town again. MaryAnne arrived at the FBI office just after 1:30.
"I'm here to see Commander Mayson," MaryAnne announced to the secretary. "He's not necessarily expecting me."
"Right," the matronly secretary answered, then buzzed the intercom. She went through the motions of announcing an unexpected visitor, though she showed no suprise at her boss's instructions. "Show her in," came Mayson's answer. A minute later, MaryAnne stood within the highest office of the Altanta Bureau, as Commander Mayson appraised her from behind a stately desk.
"Okay," MaryAnne said. "What's goin' on?"
Mayson rested his elbows on the mahagony desk and steepled his fingertips. He looked past MaryAnne as he spoke, his own words disturbing him. "Since the breakup of the Syndicate, there have been some alarming trends in the city of Altanta. Not the least of these is the increase of violent crimes - homicides in particular. It would seem that two factions of crimelords are anxious to take Mancini's place." Mayson paused and rubbed his temples with one hand. "I finally understand the motives of my predecessor. The old Syndicate was dangerous, but it was organized and followed a certain operational logic. Turner may have even helped Mancini establish his position in the underworld..."
MaryAnne drew in a quiet breath and sat down in the chair across from Mayson. "One hand washed the other..." she said softly.
Mayson nodded, moving his hand down briefly over his eyes. "The streets of Altanta are practically burning. Competetion between the factions is heating up...and innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire. The Syndicate that rises from these ashes may be far worse than the one that was quelled."
MaryAnne sat in silence. So much for the good guys winning... "Commander Mayson, my one year with the Atlanta police department was not...all that great. Why would the federal government want me back here again?"
Mayson leaned forward. "I've lost several agents in the past month, Deputy. Each one of them attempted to go undercover within a faction...and never returned. Some of the most seasoned agents in the Atlanta Bureau were dragged down with Turner... and I'm getting desperate. I need someone that can go undercover as a criminal and make it work. I briefly considered using your cousin Brian...but the belief on the streets is that he's either dead or incarcerated. His sudden reappearance at this juncture could be considered suspicious at the very least; he wouldn't last a day. That made me realize something.”
At his pause, MaryAnne prompted him. “That being…”
“You're the blood kin of somebody who was once a high-profile Syndicate operative. Blood motives are respected in mafia circles..." Commander Mayson explained. "And with the existing factions believing your cousin to be dead or out of circulation ...why, it wouldn't be unheard of for a relative to show up and want vengenance. The old Syndicate betrayed Brian. The Bureau, under Turner's command, also wanted him dead...and presumably accomplished their mission.”
Mayson took a breath, then delivered the corker. “The underworld seems to think that you, personally, had a lot to do with Mancini and Turner's fall from power...and if you're the enemy of the old Syndicate and the FBI, that technically makes you an ally of the new power structures...."
The suggestion was incredible. MaryAnne gaped at Mayson for a moment. "Really?"
"Assuming, of course, that you were no longer an officer of the law! Rumors of your resignation, along with your intention to pick up where your cousin Brian left off, are already circulating." Mayson cleared his throat and lowered his voice. "I'm not saying that this will be a cakewalk, Deputy. You will be in extreme danger, and your loyalties as a 'criminal' will surely be tested. But unless we get a toehold in the new Syndicate, we'll never be able to put out the fires."
MaryAnne couldn't meet the Commander's gaze. Slowly she stood up and walked over to his office window that looked over the skyline of Atlanta. She wasn't all that fond of the city, having experienced the seedier side of it. Atlanta's deep southern roots and rich history didn't do much to offset the modern problems that plagued her. Drugs, violent crime, inner city poverty. And now…the cancer of organized crime, still spreading…
For some reason, MaryAnne couldn't ignore the call for help. If things could be brought under control in Atlanta, maybe none of it would spread to places like Hazzard.
She sighed. "I suppose," she said softly, "that if I do this, I won't be allowed to tell Rosco and Enos what I'm doing. Or Brian."
"No, I'm afraid you won't. For their safety, and your own. You will have to convince your family and your friends in Hazzard that you've turned your back on the law."
MaryAnne took a deep breath and turned back to the Commander. "Easier said than done, Commander. My cousins will never accept it, especially Rosco. I think if you let me tell them what I'm doing, that'll reduce the chance of them showin' up in Atlanta, trying to find me and demand answers. If they know, then they'll stay out of the way."
Mayson looked directly into MaryAnne's eyes. "Do you really believe that they would stand passively aside and not try and stop you, let alone keep themselves from becoming involved? Your cousin the Sheriff is very protective of you, for one thing. And your other cousin might have...conflicting loyalties."
MaryAnne eyed the Commander for a moment. "That's exactly why this whole thing could fall apart if they don't know why I'm really doing this. If them two start poking around here looking for me, it'll blow everything. And you said the word on the street is that Brian is either in jail or dead...it'd be kinda odd if he were to show up just as I turned my back on the law."
"You would act as surprised as anyone else in that event. Don't forget, Deputy, that in accepting this assignment, your singular priority will be the service of national security. As much as I understand your desire to be honest with your family, I can't allow it to jeopardize this mission." Mayson clenched his jaw and lowered his voice. "I have several empty desks on this floor, desks that I walk by every day...where some of my finest agents used to sit. If you feel unable to accept this assignment, MaryAnne, now is the time to tell me."
"Oh alright, alright. You don't need to lay a guilt trip on me, Commander." Her eyes looked off to the side. "If you want the new power structures brought in line to prevent the city of Altanta from exploding and having it spill out all over the state of Georgia," she looked at him, "I'll do it." MaryAnne paused and sighed. "When do you want me to start?"
"In three days. I'll make some final preparations for your induction as an agent during the interim. You will be fully covered and compensated as an FBI employee during your assignment. And although I'd like to say this isn't necessary...you might want to decide in advance who your beneficiaries are, in the event something goes wrong. I hate to be this blunt, but I will not lie to you."
"I"m aware of the risks, Commander."
Mayson sighed, the implications of his own words weighing heavily on him. "If I thought there was another way, if there was someone else I could ask to take this risk, I would do so in a heartbeat. But you know Atlanta from your rookie days, and you've dealt with both the Syndicate, and with sensitive cases, before. Your cousin Brian might even give you an edge, if you can get him talking about his 'good-ol'-days. Get as many facts as you can. It'll help with your cover." Mayson cleared his throat. "Meet me here Friday and we'll get started. And Deputy...thank you."
MaryAnne paused and a small twitch of a smile came to her lips. "Don't thank me yet, Commander," she said. "I ain't done nothin'."
"You've made a brave decision to help my department and the citizens of Atlanta. For that, I'm grateful." Mayson pressed an intercom button on his desk, signaling the end of their meeting. His office door was soon opened by the secretary. "Remember your priorities while making your preparations in Hazzard," Mayson said to MaryAnne in departure.
MaryAnne nodded. She then walked out of the office, resolute.
A few minutes later, she was sitting in Maverick in the parking lot. There was much to do in three days, the hardest being turning in her badge. She figured the best thing would be to do things leading up to that, and turn in her badge at the last minute. Write a couple of bogus speedin' tickets…
MaryAnne smirked. For some reason there was something appealing in that. But Rosco...she knew when she turned in her badge, he'll be hell bent for an answer.
MaryAnne started the Firebird and drove out of the parking lot. When she was on the highway heading back to Hazzard, she began to formulate her plan in her mind. Maverick would be coming back to Atlanta with her. She was going to need wheels. Fast wheels. Maybe Cooter could do a tune up before Friday? She wondered about a new paint job...
Lord, forgive me for what I may do during all of this. My only hope is that when it's over, Rosco and Brian will understand...
MaryAnne's stomach turned. Her cousins would be adamant about an explanation. She knew she was going to really have to look like she had turned her back on the law; that being a deputy didn't matter to her anymore; that the idea of being on the other side of the law was more appealing. She would not only have to look it...she would have to believe it. She would have to completely abandon everything she had believed up to this point and act excited about a criminal way of life. And how glorious it all would be.
Yes, she had much to do in three days...
When MaryAnne arrived back in Hazzard she stopped at the house. Brian was still out and Rosco was either on patrol or in town. The young deputy spent the rest of the afternoon putting her affairs in order. Under her bed was a strongbox that held all her important papers; birth certificate, high school diploma, police academy diploma, her old City of Atlanta police badge, bank account papers, her insurance papers…and her will. She checked the beneficiaries on her two life insurance policies. One still listed her deceased father.
"Dang it...gotta change that one." She put the policy aside. She then looked at her bank account agreements. She listed Rosco on the savings but had left her checking in just her name. She put the checking account agreement aside.
The will itself was about the only thing that didn't need to be changed, seeing as that had been done just after her father passed away. There was a time when her father had been her sole beneficiary on just about everything...now it was Rosco. Not like I got much...
MaryAnne was systematic in her approach to updating the insurance policy and adding Rosco's name to her checking account, in trust. She went to the bank first and then drove to Capital City to change the insurance policy. Once everything was done, she returned home, put the updated papers away, and was ready to focus solely on the conversion from good deputy...to good criminal...
While dinner cooked on the stove behind her, MaryAnne quickly wrote a note to stick in the strong box. If anything happened to her, Rosco would be looking in that box first thing...and if Commander Mayson didn't explain things to her cousins, she hoped this note would. After the note was safely tucked away, MaryAnne returned down to the kitchen.
It wasn't long before Bandit was barking at the front door. Brian came through it, giving the German shepard a wide berth. "Awright, it's just me! Dammit MaryAnne, ain't this dog ever off duty?!"
More barking followed, and Flash galloped in with Rosco right behind her. "Khee! Bandit and Flash know a criminal on sight! Ooo, what’s that yer fixin' for supper, MaryAnne?"
MaryAnne giggled, carefree. "Fried chicken. Khee! So go get yerselfs cleaned up and we'll eat. I'm starved!"
Brian was all for that. "Sure, but what's Rosco gonna have? OW! Khee! Think you can make it up the stairs before I do, cousin Sheriff?" Brian and Rosco's banter was echoed by the two of them thundering up the stairs, both dogs barking in tow. It was the homey sort of ruckus that made a house a home. Through the ceiling, there came the sound of clomping boots, running water, and the slamming of doors… and then another burst of chaos as two hungry men elbowed each other down the stairs.
Rosco managed to make it to the kitchen first. "Dibs on the whole thing! Khee-khee!"
"Awright you two," MaryAnne said, and waved to the table for the boys to sit down. Flash and Bandit circled around her feet as she brought dishes from the counter to the table. She weaved around the hungry dogs, smiling at them. "As fer you two, you'll get your vittles in a minute, just be patient."
Brian wanted the serving priorities known. "Feed us first, 'cause honest work makes me hungry! Tho' I can't tell ya why Rosco's got such an appetite all the time, he don't do no honest work....gah!" Brian laughed and scooted in his chair, avoiding a playful swing from the Sheriff.
MaryAnne gave a smile to her two cousins as she set down a platter of chicken and a basket of warm biscuits. Flash and Bandit were drooling by now.
"How was your patrol today, MaryAnne?" Rosco asked as he unfolded a napkin. "Get any big tickets?"
MaryAnne shook her head. "Not a soul." She paused and grinned. "Maybe tomorrow."
"Doh! Boss ain't gunna like that, we're behind on our quota already. "
MaryAnne bent down and placed two dog bowls down on the floor. Flash and Bandit were on them like chickens on a june bug. "I know," she said over the crunching and slobbering of the dogs. She stood up straight and put her hands on her hips, looking at the puppies and shaking her head. "You two act like I never feed you! Sheesh!" She then turned and sat at the table with her cousins.
"How come the dogs don't halfta wait 'till we've said grace?" Brian grumbled lightly.
Rosco shot him a look that said hush and glanced back at MaryAnne. "You want to do the honors, sweetheart?"
MaryAnne placed her hands together and rested them on the edge of the table. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Brian and Rosco bow their heads. "Lord, we thank thee for this bountious table Thou has placed before us, and we thank Thee for the strength to live from day to day, and to be able to gather together like this..." MaryAnne paused a heartbeat and wanted to add something else, but the words weren't coming. So she finished with, "Amen."
"Amen," echoed from Rosco and Brian, and the rattle of silverware followed. A biscuit and chicken leg found it's way to Brian's plate, and the young man attacked it with gusto. Country cooking agreed with him. He was soon on his second helping, with Rosco keeping good pace with his own appetite. "Never seen anythin' like it," Brian commented between mouthfuls, "The way cops could eat."
If MaryAnne wasn't careful, her lack of appetite at the moment was going to blow her cover. She purposely served herself small portions and decided she had to keep the conversation going. "Police work builds up quite an appetite. I knew cops in Atlanta who practically ate up their weight in groceries."
Brian eyed Rosco's waistline. "I think ol' Cousin Sheriff's gonna have a middle to rival Flash's pretty soon....khee!"
Rosco said nothing, but reached over with a fork and stabbed a piece of chicken off the platter with more force than necessary. "Keep it up, hoodlum, and I'll see to it that you get to taste jail food again," he threatened casually. Brian grinned and busied himself with an ear of corn. A few quiet moments had passed when Rosco looked over at MaryAnne's plate. "You ain't eatin' much, MaryAnne. Somethin' wrong?"
MaryAnne poked at her chicken. "I had a late lunch," she said.
Brian glanced at MaryAnne from over his cob of corn, read the stiffness in her posture, decided she was lying, and also decided to let Rosco handle it. The Sheriff was way ahead of him. "You didn't have any trouble on patrol today, did you?" Rosco asked in concern. "I know you were out of radio frequency for awhile, 'cause I couldn't get ya on the CB a couple hours ago."
MaryAnne looked at Rosco. "No, I didn't have any trouble. Perhaps I was visitin' a little deputies room somewhere...?"
“You ain't sure where you were either?" Brian remarked, unable to resist any longer. "Damn, MaryAnne, you're a good deputy but a lousy liar."
MaryAnne glared at Brian. "I know where the hell I was two hours ago. I'm sorry I don't have a damn CB radio permanently attached to me so you can keep tabs on me!" MaryAnne really didn't want things to have to go down hill during dinner...but it looked like she had no choice. She eyed her two cousins waiting to see if the interrogation was going to continue.
Brian dropped his eyes down to his plate, MaryAnne's vehement response surprising him. "Sorry," he said quietly, wishing he knew when to shut his mouth. Rosco, meanwhile, was now convinced that something was really wrong. "I'm sorry too, sweetheart." His blue eyes rested on MaryAnne's a moment, as if to say we'll talk about this later.
MaryAnne read Rosco's silent comment and then went back to poking at her chicken. She ate all her food, despite not being very hungry. Her father had instilled that in her.
Her father had also instilled in her that shucking and jiving one's kin was okay only if the shucking and jiving was to keep them alive. Now just exactly how was she going to shuck and jive to Rosco when he came calling later?
When her plate was clean, MaryAnne carried it to the kitchen. Flash and Bandit were lapping at their water bowls. She’d miss them…and there was no way to explain to the animals what she was up to. It was going to be a long three days before she left for Atlanta.
Rosco stood up the same time MaryAnne did, scooping up dishes for an excuse to follow her to the sink. "You okay?"
"I'm fine." She put the plates in the sink and could feel Rosco's eyes on her. "Okay, no, I'm not fine, but I don't want to talk about." She looked at him. "To be perfectly honest, I CAN'T talk about it. You understand?"
Something like ice settled in Rosco's stomach. He put a hand on MaryAnne's shoulder and leaned in, keeping his voice lowered to a whisper. "You mean there’s somethin' personal goin' on, or....police business?"
MaryAnne turned the faucet on and squeezed some liquid soap into the dish pan. She then paused, debating how to answer Rosco's question. His hand was still resting on her shoulder.
"Police business," she replied softly. "And that's all I can tell you. I'm sorry, Rosco."
The Sheriff blanched, then nodded slowly. "Awright," he said quietly. He gave MaryAnne's shoulder a pat and then walked away, pausing to look back once. Then he returned to the dinner table and resumed his usual demeanor for appearances. "Brian, git over there and help your cousin with the dishes, she don't need to do the cookin' and cleanin' both around here so long as you're freeloadin'..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Since you're too old, I guess it's all up to me." Brian grinned as Rosco muttured "Watch it, boy," at his back. The verbal jabs between the ex-criminal and the Sheriff held their own sort of affection. As Brian took up a dishtowel and nudged his way into the sink, he whistled tunelessly, knowing it would get on MaryAnne's nerves…but also knowing it might make her smile.
MaryAnne went about cleaning the dishes and couldn't help but smile at Brian's whistling. Can't he whistle something I know??? "Didja used to do that while sittin' in your getaway car in Atlanta?"
"Whistle? Yeah. Usually I whistled ‘Desperado’ or somethin' by the Eagles." Brian gave her a few notes of it, just to show that he wasn't tone deaf.
"Desperado..." MaryAnne sang it softly. "Why don't you come to your senses? You been out ridin' fences...for so long now...oh, you’re a hard one…but I know you got your reasons…these things you find pleasin’, can hurt you somehow…" She looked at her cousin, figuring her singing wouldn't impress him.
Brian whistled the melody as MaryAnne sang, pleasantly surprised at his cousin's singing voice. At the next verse, he broke into singing himself, a little hestitantly at first, but then let his voice fully join in. ““Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds boy, she’ll hurt you if she’s able…you know the queen of hearts is your best bet …now it seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table – but you only want the things that you can’t get…”
He then picked up a fork and pretended it was a microphone, figuring if he was going to make a fool out of himself, he might as well do it in style. The dogs tilted their heads and listened quizzically, occasionally adding a whine of their own.
MaryAnne giggled through a few lines at Brian and his silver microphone. She then lost it when Bandit got too far into it, going from whining to howling along with her and Brian. She laughed out loud. The final chorus was up for grabs, and she traded lines back and forth with Brian.
“Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses…”
“Come down from your fences, open the gate…”
“It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you…”
“You’d better let somebody love you…”
“Let somebody love you!”
“You’d better let somebody love yooooou….”
Flash took to baying, and where Brian and MaryAnne left off, the basset hound and German Shepard carried on. "They sound better than us!" Brian laughed, egging the dogs on by howling himself. From the dining room, Rosco muttured something about having a headache from all the noise, but it was good- natured grumbling.
Brian went back to drying dishes, his smile still lingering. "You know somethin', MaryAnne," he said after a moment, "It's stuff like this...just bein' able to hang out at home and goof around with you and Rosco...that I really appreciate. Don't know if I ever told ya."
"No, I don't think you did." MaryAnne handed the last dish to Brian. "I'm glad to hear that."
He smiled again. "I owe you n' Rosco a couple favors," he said in mild understatement. "If there's anythin' I can ever do for y'all..." he left the rest unspoken. MaryAnne seemed back to her old self, but her earlier mood swing had not been lost on him.
"Well, we appreciate that." MaryAnne wiped down the counter top and cleaned around the sink. "I'm sure we'll think of something for ya. Hee hee." She grinned. A few minutes passed as she finished cleaning and Brian put the dishes away. It was a comfortable, relaxed moment…and within it, MaryAnne sensed the opportunity for info.
She brought up the subject as if discussing the weather. "You know, Brian…when I went back to Atlanta today, I kinda got to thinkin'. This is just out of curiousity…”
“Yeah?” Brian listened.
“With Don Mancini fallen from power, who do you think was more likely to take his place, if anybody?”
Brian didn’t seem bothered by the question. “Hmm. Tough call…”
MaryAnne pursued the issue. “I remember with Frankie Tyler, we never nailed him really good, he just went into hiding for a few years. Think he'd try to pick up the pieces and build a new empire?" MaryAnne paused after the question. She had to get names and find out who, if anyone, was in line to ascend the throne of the Atlanta Syndicate.
"Fearless Frankie. Damn, that's a name I never expected to hear again...." Brian went to the fridge and retrieved a beer. "I never thought of that, but it would make sense. With Mancini and most of the boys on ice, things in the city gotta be up for grabs."
Brian paced around the kitchen, reminiscing while nursing his beer. His dark eyes were deep in thought. "Ya know…I never knew it at the time, but Mancini took power and held it thanks to his Fed connections. I think the Feds musta figured Mancini for the lesser evil…which tells ya how bad Tyler was.”
“Interesting,” MaryAnne said. And it was. Keep talking…
“I wonder what’s left of my old outfit,” Brian mused. “I don’t figure the Feds managed to nail everybody. Still, without Mancini, Deuce, or Dirk…and most of the ‘enforcers’ out of the picture…hell, the axe men that are left must be awfully busy.”
Struck by a sudden thought, Brian stopped pacing. “I wonder if they rounded up Spade. God, if he’s loose, he’ll have taken the Don’s position by the virtue of drawin’ the most blood. He’s the type that gives organized crime a bad name.”
Brian took a long swallow of beer and crunched the can in his fist. "Spade was Mancini's right-hand man. Top-notch assassin, plus an expert...uh, "importer", if you know what I mean. He dealt with the heavy stuff, though Mancini never relied on drugs as a mainstay. It would have risked his position with his Fed buddies.”
“I imagine it would have. No telling who’s leading the pack now…” she dangled the question.
Agitated by his memories, Brian returned to slow pacing around the kitchen. "Fearless Frankie had the guts to bump off a Senator. While Spade ain’t above toastin’ cops just to make a statement. Both of 'em hate each other and hate the law more…”
A distant look creeped into Brian’s eyes. “Damn, if I were to ever go back to Atlanta, I don't know which one I'd hate more…Spade or Frankie Tyler. But I guess, all things considered, I'd end up workin’ for Spade. He'll have the stronger position, plus most of Mancini's money to hire fresh goons. Frankie's gonna halfta muscle his way back in and make one helluva statement to be taken as a contender."
Brian became quiet, considering the what if's of revisiting a life of crime, though the thought repelled him. "Lots of opportunity out there," was all he added.
MaryAnne was silent as she digested Brian's information. "Lots of opportunity for a bloody gang war," she said softly. She inhaled and exhaled slowly, then looked at Brian. He was looking back at her intently.
She quickly turned one corner of her mouth into a smile. "Ain't ya glad you're here in Hazzard?"
It took Brian a long minute to answer. "I am," he said finally. "Though I can’t help but wonder how things could have been. “Don Coltrane" has a nice ring to it. It's every bad guy's dream, you know...rise to the top and run things better than the last guy, thinkin' you'll call all the right shots and make none of the dumb mistakes. Providin', of course, you live long enough and manage to stay outta jail."
MaryAnne was silent in thought. Maybe I should order my tombstone now...Here Lies MaryAnne Coltrane who made a dumb mistake.
Brian looked up. "I imagine ol' Commander Mayson's gonna have his hands full. Cousin, I'm really glad that you n' Rosco are small-town cops right now."
"Yeah..." MaryAnne said, looking at her dishtowel. "Me too..."
From the doorway, Rosco listened silently. Unnamed fear swelled in his heart with Brian's words. He watched as Brian took a step away from MaryAnne. "Sorry Deputy," the young man said. "I know that talkin' about stuff like this bothers ya. But you can't stop all the crime in the world, cousin. Nobody can." Brian studied MaryAnne another minute. "What brought this on, anyway?"
MaryAnne shrugged. "I was just wondering" she said, looking him flat in the eye. "Just wonderin', that's all."
"Don't wonder too much," Brian said with mild caution. "I know how you take crime personally, whether it's here in Hazzard or someplace else." He paused and put a hand to his chin in thought. "What was that sayin' you told me once, when I was ribbin' you about bein' a cop? Somethin' about if ya want peace..."
"If you want peace...work for justice..." she said softly.
"That was it." Brian smiled sadly at her. "That's why you're such a good cop."
Rosco coughed from the doorway, choking on the breath he'd been holding. Startled, Brian turned and saw Rosco watching them, and knew immediately that the Sheriff had heard everything.
The expression on Rosco's face made Brian and MaryAnne puase. It was drawn and serious, holding a look of near-despair. Realizing his cousins were looking at him in concern, Rosco made some pretense of picking up Flash to take her for a walk. He glanced at MaryAnne as he scooped up the bassett hound, his steel-grey eyes holding both a warning, and a silent plea.
MaryAnne looked down at the floor and then forced herself to meet Rosco's gaze. She wasn't sure what to say. All she could think about was how in the next two days she had to make it look like she was turning her back on all of that. Judging from the look she had just seen from Rosco now, there was no doubt that he would be devastated by her actions. And that was going to hurt the most.
“Well, I try to be a good cop," she responded for herself. There was more to be said, but MaryAnne knew she could say no more.
"You're the best," Rosco said in a strained voice as he left with Flash.
As the screen door banged shut, Brian sighed. "I think the all close calls we had in the past get to Rosco sometimes. Anytime he hears the word "Syndicate" or somethin', he gets that look on his face." Brian then peered at MaryAnne. "You don't look much better. C'mon, quit worrin'. The Atlanta cops and the Feds took some pointers from ya when you were there, I'm sure they can handle things."
MaryAnne managed a chuckle. "Yeah, I'm sure they'll do just fine." She put her dish towel on the counter top. "Well, I guess I'll go get changed and get my butt out to the Boar's Nest."
"Tell ya what. While you're gone,I'll take Bandit for a walk for ya....c'mere, pooch...nice doggie..."
At the sight of Brian going for his leash, Bandit growled. MaryAnne chuckled and looked at Bandit. "It's okay, Bandit. Be nice to Brian now." She looked at Brian. "You just need to be around him more."
"Uh huh. I swear, they used my jacket to police train this damn dog...GAH! I mean, nice pooch! Leggo!" Bandit now had a toothy grip on Brian's sleeve.
MaryAnne laughed. "Maybe they did." She stepped towards Bandit and took a hold of Brian's sleeve in one hand, and Bandit's collar in the other. "No, Bandit. Let 'em go..." The dog kept his grip on the sleeve and then let go and sat down on his rump. MaryAnne kneeled down to have a talk with the dog. "Now you behave. Brian's gonna take ya for a walk, so you be good okay?" She petted the dog for a moment and realized that she wouldn't be able to bring Bandit with her back to Atlanta. If anything, the German shepherd was more reliable security than anything else. "You be a good boy now..."
Bandit nuzzled MaryAnne's hand, giving a soft whine. He didn't understand the sudden sadness of his mistress, but he offered what comfort he could by wagging his tail.
"That's my boy..." MaryAnne gave Bandit a final rub on his head and behind his ears and then stood up, handing the leash to Brian. She had to stop herself from reminding Brian of when Bandit ate, when to take him for a walk and various other nuances that kept the dog happy. She put on her 'everything's wonderful' poker face and nodded to Brian.
"Well, he shouldn't give you too much trouble now," she said and smiled.
"Famous last words. Awright, mutt...let's see if we can catch up to Rosco and Flash...hey! HEY!" Bandit barked and lunged out of the kitchen, yanking Brian in tow. The German shepard barely let Brian get the door open before tearing off, and there was no slack in the leash as Brian hung onto the police dog for all he was worth. MaryAnne could hear Bandit's barking, Brian's swearing, and the distant bay of a bassett hound clear down the street.
MaryAnne laughed...even if for only a moment. A sour pit had settled in her stomach and it was going to be hard to keep up the charade for very long. Brian's account of who's who in the Altanta crime world only served to make MaryAnne realize just how much danger she was putting herself in. And the look on Rosco's face spoke a thousand words. But for some reason, something was telling her to stick with it, despite the hurt she would be inflicting on her kin. With a sigh, she headed up the stairs to change into her waitress uniform.
The sky had taken a twilight hue by the time Bandit dragged Brian into the town square. Stooped and panting, Brian recovered his breath as Flash and Bandit busied themselves with watering shrubbery. "You wouldn't be so winded, if you hadn't been a smoker," Rosco chided merrily.
"You take a bullet in the chest and then run a half-mile," Brian grumbled, but there was a grin in his voice. Once he straightened up and caught his breath, he found an armload of bassett hound being presented to him.
“Flash is tired of walkin', and I gotta run into the bookin' room for a minute," Rosco announced. "Don't drop her now..."
"What? Oh no, that dog weighs....oof!" Brian adjusted Flash in his arms as Bandit started to stroll down the sidewalk, pulling the leash and tugging him along. "Don't take too long!" Brian called after Rosco's back. The Sheriff was already making quick strides up the courthouse steps.
Bandit kept moving against the leash, forcing Brian to keep walking. Flash seemed content in his arms, and despite feeling a little foolish, Brian didn't mind the dog-duty. Until an orange stock car rolled to a stop along the curb.
A dark-haired Duke poked his head out of the passenger window. "Hey Bo! Lookit! Hazzard's two finest officers made an arrest! Good work, Flash n' Bandit! Ha ha ha! YEEEHAAAA!" With a whoop and a squeal of tires, the Dukes pulled away, getting out of earshot before Brian could impress them with some vulgar language.
Brian had nearly recovered his dignity when Rosco returned a few minutes later. "Those Dukes need a ticket," Brian suggested, hoping that Rosco would be in the mood for some hot pursuit. The Sheriff shook his head. "Not now, Brian. I got other things on my mind." Rosco held out his arms, and Brian sensed his cousin's mood, yielding up the bassett hound wordlessly. The Sheriff and the ex-criminal continued their walk, each falling into his own private thoughts.
***** ***** *****
The Boar's Nest was crowded later that evening. MaryAnne and Daisy were nearly wearing out their high heeled shoes trying to keep the pace. As MaryAnne balanced empty beer mugs on her tray, got bumped by folks dancing to the music coming from the jukebox and stepped on every popcorn kernel that hadn't made it to somebody's mouth, she thought of how much she probably wasn't going to miss working at this place. But then again...deep down she knew she would miss it.
What am I thinkin'? I'll be back before too long....hopefully. Good grief...
"You okay, MaryAnne?" Daisy asked when the young Coltrane reached the bar.
MaryAnne deposited her tray on the bar top. "I feel like a ping pong ball out there!"
Daisy giggled. "I know. But you seem kinda quiet tonight. Is everything okay?"
MaryAnne looked at Daisy. Was everybody in Hazzard this damn observant? "I'm fine. I'm just a little tired, that's all. Splittin' time between here and the Sheriff's department...I dunno, I think I'm gonna have to settle with one job soon."
"Well, you gotta admit that you're the only one in Hazzard that has Boss for a boss twice over. That's enough to drive anyone crazy!"
"Well, if you decide to stop workin' here in favor of the Sheriff's department, I'll understand. You're one of the best deputies Hazzard's ever had."
MaryAnne gave a tired smile. "Thanks, Daisy."
"HEY!! Can we have some beer over here or what???"
"Yeah! And how come you ain't on the menu, MaryAnne???"
MaryAnne rolled her eyes and turned to the two customers who had spoken. "If I was on the menu you two couldn't afford me, so you're gonna have to settle for beer!”
“So long as you bring those over personally yourself…” one of the yahoos chortled.
Some things would never change. “Daisy," MaryAnne turned to the brown haired Duke girl. "Gimmie two beers."
After the Boar's Nest was locked up for the night and she bid Daisy a good evening, MaryAnne started towards home. Rosco would be waiting for her, she knew. The sour pit was still in her stomach and somewhere inside her, another MaryAnne had to come out, especially if she expected to survive...and get out of Hazzard by Friday with a convincing performance. She pulled Maverick over, turned the lights off, and for nearly a half hour, MaryAnne cried and prayed. Her cousins were the most important people in her life, and now she had to distance herself from her kin...and emotionally detach herself from Rosco in particular. A half hour's worth of tears couldn't begin to undo the lifetime bond she had with Rosco, but there was no turning back now.
She eventually started Maverick up again. It took her fifteen minutes to get home and MaryAnne spotted the light on and could see Rosco by the window. After parking Maverick, MaryAnne stepped out of the Firebird and headed into the house.
By the time MaryAnne opened the door, Rosco was sitting in easy chair, trying to look as if he hadn't been up pacing the floor. "Hello sweetheart," he said with a smile. "Have a decent night?"
"Hey, Rosco. Yep, we were busy. I think I wore out my shoes." She paused by the stairs and went about removing her high-heeled sandals. "How'd Brian do with Bandit?"
"You mean how Bandit did with Brian. Khee! Dragged 'em clean across town. I don't know which one of 'em's more wore out."
MaryAnne giggled. "Good thing Bandit's not a Great Dane! Khee!"
"He don't need to be, he's dog enough." Rosco gave an affectionate glance over to the two sleeping hounds. Then he cleared his throat and looked back at MaryAnne, unsure how he was going to handle his next thought. "Um...I stopped in by the bookin' office tonight."
"Yeah?" Which sound more like, "so?"
Rosco stood up and shoved his hands in his pockets, feeling awkward. "I heard you tellin' Brian earlier that you went to Atlanta today. We had nothin' that had to go to Atlanta, and I know Boss didn't send you there..."
MaryAnne looked at her cousin, surprised. "Rosco...I told you I was going to Atlanta. Remember? You wanted me to radio you when I got there, and radio you when I got back and I said something to the effect of 'Yes mother.'"
"Oh, I know that." Rosco waved her protest off. "But you never told me why."
"Yes I did. I told you that some new evidence in a case I was involved with back when I was an officer there had come up so they wanted my expertise."
The expression in Rosco's steel-blue eyes was one MaryAnne hadn't seen since her childhood. "I don't like it when you lie to me," he said softly.
MaryAnne didn't blink. "I know you don't. And I ain't lyin' to ya."
"But you ain't tellin' me the truth, neither." Rosco took a step closer, hesitated, then rested his hand on her shoulder. "Talk to me, sweetheart. Please."
"Rosco, there ain't nothin' to talk about. If you don't believe me that's fine but I ain't gonna stand here all night yappin' about it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to get some sleep, seein' as I have the early morning patrol."
With a defeated sigh, Rosco took his hand off her shoulder. Pressing the matter would get him nowhere. He didn't have the heart to tell her that he'd called Atlanta and spoken to the police chief from her rookie days, just to check and see if there was anything about new evidence for an old case. How can I accuse her of lying, when I'm not being completely honest myself? "I'm sorry MaryAnne," Rosco said tiredly. "Go on...get some rest."
MaryAnne looked at her cousin for a moment. She really wanted to tell him what was going on, but with what Brian had told her earlier she knew now that she couldn't say anything. Not without really making Rosco upset. "I think the close calls we all had in the past get to Rosco sometimes. Anytime he hears the word "Syndicate" or somethin', he gets that look on his face..."
MaryAnne's stern expression remained intact and she nodded. "Good night, Rosco." She then turned and started up the stairs.
Rosco watched her go. After her bedroom door had closed shut, he walked over to the couch, scooted the dogs over, and spent the remainder of the night pretending to sleep.
MaryAnne didn't even pretend. With all that was on her mind, sleep would have been impossible. So she sat and made notes, writing down everything Brian had talked about after dinner. She also made a "To do" list of things to be taken care of before she left for Atlanta. Some things, unfortunately, would have to be left in a lurch, and MaryAnne knew there wasn't much she could do about that.
She then lay on her bed, still in her waitress outfit, in quiet thought and prayer. She eventually drifted off to a restless sleep.
***** ***** *****
The lone Plymouth Fury drove slowly down County 18, late the next morning. There was no traffic on this road and no fog to slow MaryAnne up. She was merely waiting for another car to arrive. And now we witness the begining...of all hell breaking loose...
MaryAnne left Maverick at Cooter's earlier for a tune up. Now, she drove her patrol car, lazily turning the wheel back and forth, swerving the cruiser like a drunk. She watched her mirrors, waiting for the car to show up. They were late this morning.
C'mon, c'mon... She looked in her rearview mirror again. Ahh...there they are.... MaryAnne straightened the patrol car and drove normal, watching the black push bar of the General Lee come closer.
"Is that MaryAnne?" Bo wondered as the General traveled closer. Luke nodded.
"Well, she won't mind if I just scoot around her then. Jesse's already mad at us for taking so long getting going this morning." Bo stepped on the accelerator and he swung around the Fury, passing it in, technically, a legal passing zone.
MaryAnne watched the Charger go zooming by and saw Luke wave his hand out the window as the car sped away. She grinned and gunned the engine of the Plymouth.
For some reason, the idea of giving the boys bogus tickets...seemed like fun. She hit the switch for gumballs and siren and the Plymouth came barreling down on the General.
Bo and Luke glanced at each other in question. "Uhh...maybe it wasn't MaryAnne...?"
Luke turned in his seat to look out the back window. "It is her...boy she looks mad---Bo, what are you doing?"
Bo had hit the accelerator. Cop car, lights, siren, how else was he supposed to react?
MaryAnne didn't waste any time. She pulled the patrol car to the left of the General, coming up along side in a few seconds.
"Maybe she's just passing, slow down Bo, let her go," Luke said.
Bo slowed down, letting the Plymouth go ahead of him. MaryAnne cut back over to the other lane and pulled ahead for enough room to turn the car sideways, blocking the road.
"What the---?!?!" Bo yanked the steering wheel hard, sliding the General sideways and to a dust choked stop.
MaryAnne stepped out of the patrol car and walked over to the General. Bo hacked on the dust that swirled into the General and then looked at MaryAnne. "MaryAnne, what are you doing?'
"Hush." The deputy opened her ticket book and began to write.
"MaryAnne??" Luke was looking now too. After a moment, MaryAnne ripped the ticket off and threw it into the car. "That's for passing in a no passing zone." She started writing another one.
"What?!?! Now, MaryAnne wait a minute--" Bo started to protest.
"I said hush!" She finished writing and threw another one at the boys. "That's for having tail lights that don't light up."
"What in the world..." Luke looked at her again. "MaryAnne, what has gotten into you?? Is Boss threatening you with something to make you do this??"
MaryAnne didn't answer and kept writing. She finished her third ticket and threw that at Bo. "That's for evadin' an officer, namely me." She closed her ticket book and bent over to look at both boys through the window. "Now, if I was you two, I'd be headin' back to the farm, because the longer you're on the road, the more likely you're gonna git more of those." She tipped her hat. "Have a nice day, fellas." She turned to walk to her patrol car.
"Now just wait a minute!!" Bo exclaimed, scrambling out of the General. "MaryAnne, just hold it right there!!"
MaryAnne turned to the tall blonde Duke. "If you want to dispute those tickets, that's fine, but you'll have to take it up with Rosco or Boss." She paused and chuckled. "Good luck with that."
Luke had climbed out of the General at this point and put a restraining hand on Bo. MaryAnne resumed her walk back to her patrol car. After she drove away, Bo turned to his older cousin.
"Luke, if she didn't have that pretty face and long hair I'd swear she was Rosco!"
Luke looked at the three tickets in his hand. "Somethin' ain't right. Come on, we'll go talk to Rosco and Enos. Shoot, even Rosco knows MaryAnne wouldn't pull stuff like this."
Bo sighed heavily. "Alright." He looked down the road where the patrol car had disappeared and then turned back to the General.
***** ***** *****
In the booking room, a bleary-eyed Rosco P. Coltrane was wondering where his stamp pad had gone off to. He was thinking of abandoning his search and getting more coffee, when the double doors to the booking room swung open with a bang.
"Rosco, we'd like to have a word with you," Luke announced as he and Bo came marching into the booking room. He slapped the three tickets MaryAnne had written down on the booking desk. "MaryAnne, just nailed us with these tickets not 15 minutes ago. Now even you know MaryAnne don't subscribe to Boss's rules!"
Rosco palmed through the tickets. "I don't see where you Dukes gettin' tickets is anythin' outta the ordinary."
"Rosco, we weren't doin' nothin'!" Bo grabbed the three tickets and then held one up. "Non-functioning tail lights?? How could she know? I never stepped on the brake!"
"Yeah...and passing in a no passing zone? County 18 is a straight run road with a passing zone that stretches for miles and miles," Luke said.
"County 18? She gave you a ticket for passin' in a no-passin' zone on County 18?"
"That's right," Bo said. "There ain't no ‘no-passin' zones on County 18, Rosco. Even you know that."
"Of couse I know that, everybody knows that, you Dukes are makin' this up to get out of some tickets!" Rosco's ire was building. MaryAnne wouldn't have made a mistake like that, I know she wouldn't have, he thought to himself.
"And if you wanna check the General's tail lights yourself, go ahead," Luke said. "They light up just fine."
"Oh, I wasn't born yesterday, ya know! You coulda had Cooter fix 'em before ya came here!"
“In five minutes? Come on, Rosco, we're not making this up!" Luke said.
"Besides, it looks like Cooter's busy working on Maverick," Bo said. "If we had gone over there and interupted him, MaryAnne probably would've given us another ticket!"
Rosco froze in place. "Working on Maverick? What's wrong with Maverick?"
"You're asking us?" Bo said, clearly exasperated with the Sheriff by now. "It's yer own dang cousin's car, you don't know??"
Bo's words hit Rosco right between the eyes. He didn't know, and that bothered him. "Alright, alright....just git. I'll look into these, just git outta here before I think of a reason to give ya a ticket myself."
Bo tossed the tickets he'd been holding back onto the booking desk. The boys weren't all that satisfied with Rosco's proclamation, but they figured it was the best there were going to get. "Let's go, Bo," Luke muttered. The two Dukes then turned and walked out of the booking room.
As soon as the Dukes were out of earshot, Rosco grabbed the CB on the desk. "Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane to MaryAnne, come back," he said urgently.
MaryAnne was still on patrol. She turned the patrol car onto another road and the picked up the CB mike. "Go ahead."
“Swing by the station right away, I need to talk to you, over."
MaryAnne chuckled. Wow...them boys move fast... "Ten-four."
When MaryAnne's patrol car finally pulled up to the curb, Rosco felt nervous. In all their time working together, he never had to question her performance as a Deputy. He tried to look busy at the booking desk when she walked in.
She strolled over to the booking desk. "What's up?" she asked, perky as usual.
Rosco fumbled into his shirt pocket and pulled out the tickets. "Uh...well, nothin's wrong, 'zactly, but....did you write all these?"
MaryAnne looked at the tickets and smiled. "I sure did."
"Ooo. I see...um....MaryAnne, maybe you didn't notice, but County 18 don't have a no-passin' zone through Hazzard County," he blurted.
"Yeah, I know. But umm..." She eyed Rosco. "That never necessarily stopped you from giving out such a ticket..."
It stung him like a hornet. "That's different! I mean...that's besides the point!"
"How's it different?" MaryAnne paused. The line was drawn now... "And uh, just what point are you trying to make?"
"Uh...um....ya see...." Rosco cringed. Then he looked at the badge on MaryAnne's uniform, gathered his resolve, and steadied his voice. "You're better than this," he said directly.
MaryAnne looked at Rosco, meeting his eyes for a moment. Rosco's praise had always meant a lot to her and she found she had to dig deep down to say this: "Maybe so, but I've started to realize lately that I'm better than a lot of things..."
MaryAnne's eyes remained on her cousin for a moment longer and then she turned to walk out of the booking room. Let Rosco figure it out himself.
Stunned, Rosco watched her leave. He took a step towards the doors, thinking of going after her. His next thought stopped him. This could be my fault...all my fault. As he heard the screech of her patrol car pulling away, he walked slowly up to the booking desk, sat down, and put his head in his hands.
***** ***** *****
MaryAnne's sudden change to crooked law enforcing continued through the day. She nailed three other unsuspecting folks with trumped up tickets, speeding, parking near a fire hydrant (one of Boss's fake ones) and parking in a red zone…as indicated with red tape which she applied to the curb herself. Most folks weren't mad...just plain stunned.
By the time MaryAnne headed out to the Boar's Nest, Rosco had a line in the booking office of people who had been given tickets by MaryAnne. Rosco told them all, like he had the Dukes, that he would look into them. But after the last person left, Rosco just stared at the pile of tickets on the booking desk with MaryAnne's initials on them. And his heart just sank.
MaryAnne picked up Maverick from Cooter's and thanked the mechanic for keeping her chariot in fine working condition. The mechanic tipped his hat as the young woman got into her car and drove away. A few minutes later, MaryAnne pulled into the Boar's Nest parking lot.
A tinge of dread came to her now and again. She felt it when she gave out the false tickets, she had felt it when she was talking to Rosco earlier, and she felt it now. She wondered how she was going to feel when she actually took the badge off her uniform shirt. She took a deep breath and got out of the car.
"Hey, MaryAnne!" Daisy greeted.
"Hi, Daisy." Apparently Daisy had not heard of the boys ticket yet. And that was fine. MaryAnne walked behind the bar and placed her purse down.
"MaryAnne, you're two minutes late," Boss Hogg announced from somewhere in the back. "It's comin' outta your pay."
MaryAnne walked across the floor of the Boar's Nest and poked her head into Boss's office. "Oh well!" she sneered.
"Don't you sass me, girl," Boss said with ire. "There's more waitresses where you came from." He jammed a cigar into his mouth and lit it as he walked towards her. "Now I want this place clean tonight, ya hear? I found popcorn in the cash register last night, and more inside the pinball machine! There's probably an explanation for it, but I'd just rather it didn't happen again."
MaryAnne saluted. "It'll be cleaner than your Caddy, Boss."
"It better." Boss peered at her as he walked towards the bar. Somethin' ain't right with that girl today. Must be that Duke influence, she outta pick her friends more careful. After inspecting the afternoon's cash intake at the register and pocketing most of it, Boss made ready to leave. He looked at MaryAnne again, trying to pin down what exactly was bothering his employee.
MaryAnne looked at him and raised an eyebrow. She could tell he was a little confused by her actions, but she kept at her play. "What's the matter, Boss?"
"I aint' figured it out yet," he answered blandly. "But seein' as how you're a Coltrane, I may never figure it out."
MaryAnne looked amused. "And seein' as you're a Hogg, you'll never have me all figured out anyway." She smiled. For some reason, this was turning out a lot more fun than she thought it would be.
"Bah." Boss turned around, giving up on the female Coltrane. Rosco was bad enough for his nerves. "Just keep this place in one piece," he said as he walked out.
"MaryAnne..." Daisy said. "I've never known you to talk back to Boss like that."
MaryAnne looked at the door a moment, listening to Boss's Caddy drive away. "Eh, he deserved it," she said turning towards Daisy. "He dishes out enough of it to everybody else." MaryAnne walked back to the bar.
"Don't you worry about Boss firing you?"
MaryAnne thought for a moment. "No. Not anymore." She grabbed the bag of popcorn and noticed the pretzel bag beside it was getting low. "I'm gonna go get some more pretzels. I'll be right back."
Boss wasn't a mile down the road when he realized he'd forgotten his solid silver cigarette lighter. "Dangnab it...musta left it on the bar." He swung the Caddy around and headed back, working himself into a fume. "If that Deputy Waitress wasn't actin' so swimmy-headed, I wouldna forgot nuthin'." He parked in front of the door and bustled inside, foraging around the bar for the lighter.
MaryAnne came back out of the store room with the bag of pretzels. "Boss ain't you a bit premature with inspectin' the bar already? Shoot we ain't even been open twenty minutes!"
Several of the customers chuckled, and if there was one thing Boss couldn't stand, it was being the butt of a joke. "Now see here, MaryAnne. You'd better show more attention to your work, or I'll be re-thinkin' the waitstaff...and the head count at the Sheriff's department!"
"Boss, I pay more attention to my work than you pay in wages. And yes, you are gonna have to rethink the waitstaff because after tonight....I quit!!" She dropped the bag on the bar, as if issuing a challenge. The Boar's Nest fell silent.
Boss was shocked for a full second, then replied as MaryAnne had expected. "Oh, no you don't! No you don't! Nuh-uh! 'Cause yer FIRED!"
"Ha! I figured you were gonna say that anyways. That makes things just as easy. And just as cheap for you." She walked around the bar to grab her purse and stopped. "Oh, do you want me to leave now? Or do you want me to stay this one last evening to make sure the place is spic and span when we close?"
Boss was about to shoo her out, when he thought better of the waiting customers. "You can finish tonight, long as you're already here. But no goldbrickin', onconna yer fired!"
MaryAnne snorted. "Goldbrickin'...I'd never do that to you, Boss." She put her purse back under the bar and went about placing the pretzel bag down under the bar, near the popcorn bag.
“Harrumph!” Mustering an air of offended dignity, Boss jammed the cigar back in his mouth and stormed out.
***** ***** *****
After running some errands for Uncle Jesse, Bo and Luke were heading home when they saw someone walking along the road. "Give 'em a ride?" Bo asked.
"Wait a minute...Bo, look who it is." With Luke's words, the General slowed, affording the two cousins a good look at the pedestrian. "I thought so!" Luke said with a grin. "Pull up to 'em, Bo."
Brian looked over his shoulder at the sound of the rumbling car behind him. "Aw, hell..."
The General came to a rumbling idle next to him.
"Hey!" Luke said with friendly-sounding threat. "Want a ride?"
Brian saw the matching grins on the Dukes faces. He'd been in Hazzard long enough to know that a grinning Duke usually meant trouble for a Coltrane. Still, working at old man Avery's farm was tiring, and it was a healthy walk home. And he'd be damned if he'd back down from the silent dare in Luke's eyes. "Sure."
Luke climbed out of the General to allow Brian to climb in, and once he'd made it to the backseat, Luke hopped back into place and the General tore off. The acceleration pushed Brian back against the seat. "We saw your cousin MaryAnne today," Bo said conversationally.
"Really," Brian said dryly. "Imagine that, in a town this big."
Bo and Luke exhanged a look, and the General picked up speed. Brian had to steady himself with one hand on the rollbar as they careened around a curve.
"MaryAnne's one of the best officers Hazzard ever seen," Luke continued. "But she was up to some tricks today that were worthy of ol’ Rosco."
Brian grinned automatically. "She nailed ya on a few things, eh? Try livin' with 'er."
Luke's tone of voice dropped lower. "It ain't that she nailed us on somethin'. It's that she made stuff up completely. Now I'm willin' to bet that because MaryAnne n' Rosco took you in, you know a little somethin' about their behavior."
"What're you gettin' at, Duke?"
"She's always wore that badge of hers with nothin' but clean honor. Today, she acted like it didn't mean anything to her."
Brian was quiet as he digested that. "I didn't notice anythin' different about her last night...'except she was kinda quiet and sad for some reason I couldn't figure. I'll talk to her."
Bo looked at Luke, then looked at Brian from the rearview mirror. "We'd appreciate that." He paused and added, "MaryAnne's our friend. If there's somethin' wrong, you can be dang sure we ain't gonna let it slide by without tryin' to help."
"I hear ya," Brian said. Then as the conversation waned, he took notice of his surroundings. "Uh...'scuze me, but where the heck are we? I live about ten miles in the opposite direction of where we're headin'...."
Luke chuckled and Bo snickered, and Brian got a sinking feeling. "Oh, don't worry," Luke said with a wide grin. "Bo here is just takin' a little shortcut..." The General lunged with a new burst of speed, and Brian saw the orange hood aiming for a ravine. "Hang on!" Bo yelled, adding a Duke war whoop of "YEEHAAA!" as he launched the stock car airborne.
It was nearly an hour later when a dust-covered and road-worked General Lee pulled into the Duke homestead. The boys were in good spirits, having deposited a shaken but unharmed Coltrane off before returning to their own home. "That one was worth the price of admission," Bo said as he climbed out of the car. "Think we're about even with 'em?"
"Nope! Didja hear 'em as he was staggerin' up the porch? 'This ain't over!' " Laughing, the two young men went inside to see about dinner.
Jesse was busy setting the table when the boys came in. He looked over at them as they came through the kitchen. "Now just what have you two been up to?" Jesse knew the looks on both their faces.
"We just gave somebody a ride, that's all," Bo grinned. "Dang, wish we woulda had a camera..."
Jesse eyed his boys for a moment. "Gave 'em a ride huh? You jumped the General is what you mean."
"Clean over dry creek." Luke was still smiling, and the early lines around his eyes were crinkled with mirth. "I just wish Brian had stopped screamin' long enough to appreciate the view."
Jesse shook his head but chuckled. Outside, Daisy's Jeep came into the yard and slid to a quick stop. All three heard the young woman as she ran up onto the porch and came into the house, hair flying, with the look of someone who had something they had to say immediately.
"Hey, Daisy," Jesse greeted.
"You'll never believe what happened tonight at the Boar's Nest!" Daisy said, unable to wait long enough to get through greeting her family to tell them her tale.
"What, you get a raise?" Bo said teasingly.
"No! MaryAnne quit!"
"Quit? Why'd she quit?" Luke asked urgently.
"Luke, she was mouthin' off to Boss in no way I had ever heard from her before! And she took bein' fired like she had been hoping for it!"
"Fired! I thought you said she quit!"
"Well, she told Boss that she quit...and then he said that she couldn't quit because she was fired, ya know how Boss is..."
"Hold on a minute. Just hold on." Luke rubbed his hands over his face. "The main thing is, MaryAnne wasn't actin' herself."
"Yeah..." Daisy said softly. "It was weird, fellas."
At the puzzled look of their Uncle Jesse, the bosy quickly filled him in on the day’s events. "Fake tickets? MaryAnne?" The elder Duke’s voice rose in pitch. "Why in tarnation would she stoop to that?"
"We got no idea, Uncle Jesse. We told Rosco about it, even told Brian," Bo said. Luke nodded. "And Rosco reacted 'bout normal, but I think we got through enough to have 'em a little worried."
"I'm more than a little worried," Jesse said, looking his family in the eyes. "A lot more."
***** ***** *****
MaryAnne didn't hurry home. In fact she drove as slowly as possible, giving herself time to prepare for facing Rosco and Brian for what would probably be the last time. Sometime tomorrow, she would be turning in her badge. If the look on Boss's face when she quit the Boar's Nest was any indication, tomorrow was going to be a hell of a day.
When the house came into view, MaryAnne knew there was no turning back. She put her "I don't care" face back on and drove Maverick into the yard.
Flash and Bandit barked their greetings from the house. Brian looked out the kitchen window, then returned to fixing dinner. He didn't look over at MaryAnne as the door banged shut. "Hey, cousin Deputy," he said by way of hello.
"Howdy, Brian," she returned. "Smells good in there," she added before she headed up the stairs.
"It's Mafia chili," Brian yelled up from the stove. "Just don't ask what's in it!"
MaryAnne laughed. "With a name like that, I wouldn't ask anyway!"
"Khee!" Brian stirred the pot of chili and grinned to himself. So far, MaryAnne sounded okay. Maybe she just gave them Dukes a little hassle as a joke. He was wishing he could have been there to see it, when the dogs started barking again. Rosco was home. "Hey, cousin Sheriff," Brian called from the kitchen.
"Hey, cousin jailbird...Khee!" Rosco came into the house and removed his hat. He dropped it in one of the chairs in the living room and walked into the kitchen.
Brian let the Sheriff get away with the ‘cousin jailbird’ remark, knowing he’d find a way to repay Rosco for it later. He gestured instead to his culinary project. "Made some chili. It's...uh...an old family recipie."
"Oh yeah?" Rosco leaned over the pot and smelled the aroma. "Jit jit!! Whatchya do, put the whole box o' pepper in there or what??"
"Gunpowder, actually. Gives it kick. Here, try some!" Brian offered a heaping spoonful to Rosco.
Rosco backed away from the spoon a little. He eyed his cousin and then decided to throw caution to the wind. He took a small taste of the chili.
"Hoooooooooo boy!" Rosco exclaimed. He shook his head, as the aroma of the chili penetrated his sinuses.
"Good, ain't it!" Brian resumed stirring. "This batch is kinda mild, tho'. Y'all didn't have any habenero peppers."
"Mild??? Shoot..." Rosco watched Brian as he continued the preparation of the chili. There was a thoughtful pause and then Rosco spoke softly, "How was MaryAnne when she came home?"
"Seemed okay, but I only talked to her for a second. Thing is...I got talkin' to the Dukes today, when they gave me a ride home. And just before I got the economy flight over Dry Creek, they told me that MaryAnne wasn't actin' right, like she didn't care about her badge anymore."
"Yeah..." Rosco paused in thought. "She wrote up all them tickets on folks, the kinda tickets she'd never do." He looked towards the doorway, his eyes slightly turned up towards the ceiling. "I dunno, Brian, I'm wonderin' if it's me..."
"Maybe it was some kind of joke." Brian set the spoon down, and turned to his cousin. "Rosco...I don't know as much about MaryAnne as you do, but she's still a woman, and women…well...they have...uh...bad days. She'll probably be her old self again soon."
"That's just it. I know her so well that in the past couple of days...I feel like I don't know who that girl is in that deputy's uniform. Something's eatin' at her, Brian. Something is very very wrong. But she won't talk about it, and I know I can't pry into her life all the time." Rosco paused. "I dunno...maybe yer right and she'll be back to her old self again really soon."
Worry began to seep into Brian's stomach. "If she'd open up to anybody, it'd be you. I guess all ya can do is be there for her when she's ready."
Rosco nodded and drew in a quiet sigh. Suddenly they heard MaryAnne come down the stairs.
"You got that chili ready yet? I'm starved..." she asked as she came into the kitchen. "Hey, Rosco."
"Hi. Didja have a good day?"
"Sure did. You?"
Rosco paused. He briefly contemplated confronting her about the tickets, but he quickly abandonded that idea. "Yep."
"How 'bout you, Brian?" she asked as she came around the side of him to see the chili in the pot.
"Had a good one." Brian stopped himself from mentioning his ride with the Dukes. Like Rosco, he wanted to talk to MaryAnne, but for the life of him, didn't know how to start. "If you wanna settle yerself down at the table, I'll fix ya up with a bowl. I even made an attempt at some biscuits, but I'll never outshine you in the bakin' department." He scooted over and started grabbing dishes.
MaryAnne grinned. "We'll wait and see on the finished product." She turned and headed to the dining room. Rosco glanced at Brian, their eyes meeting briefly reflecting the thought both of them had. So how the hell do we talk to her?? Rosco tilted his head, a slight shrug that said, 'danged if I know' and he followed MaryAnne to the dining room.
"So...everything go well at the Boar's Nest tonight?" Rosco asked.
"Yeah, for the most part. I think I made Boss mad tho'."
MaryAnne paused for effect. "I quit." She said it as if it was the least important thing to happen that evening.
Cutlery hit the floor in the kitchen. "You what?" Brian's voice echoed.
MaryAnne glanced in the direction of the kitchen and then back at Rosco, who was sitting across from her at the table. Her expression asked ' what's the problem?'
"I quit," she repeated. "Although I supposed technically I've been fired, because Boss, you know, don't allow no one to quit---"
"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute," Rosco interrupted. "What in the world prompted you to quit working at the Boar's Nest??"
MaryAnne paused, looking at the table cloth in thought. "Well...it was getting boring to be perfectly honest. And it don't pay that much. I'm worth more than the 85% tips Boss allows me to keep." She now narrowed her eyes at Rosco. "That fat marshmallow is rich only because he's ripped off everybody else in Hazzard County. Only he ain't gonna be rippin' me off no more."
Rosco was dumbfounded. His jaw was even dropped a bit and he stared at the young woman across the table from him. MaryAnne's dislike for Boss was no secret, but the Sheriff couldn't believe the way she was talking.
"I'm tired of bein' treated like some second class citizen 'round here."
Rosco's shock went to brewing anger now. "You wanna know what I'm tired of?"
"I'm tired of your attitude. I'm tired of people comin' into the courthouse with bum tickets that you issued. MaryAnne, you've been actin' like you've been snake bit or something. Now I wanna know what's goin' on, right now, and I ain't takin' no wishy washy answer." Rosco's blue eyes were piercing now. He was both fed up and hurt, which was a volatile combination.
Brian came into the dining room silently and stood in the background. He'd never heard Rosco raise his voice to Maryanne, and it unnerved him.
MaryAnne was strangely cool under Rosco's demanding gaze. This was it, this was where the line was not only drawn, but effectively crossed with no turning back. Once MaryAnne smart-mouthed off to her blood kin, Rosco, nothing was going to be the same until everything was all over. Assuming she was still alive when it was all over.
MaryAnne chose her words carefully, not wanting to say something too searing that Rosco would remember for the rest of his days. Or that she would have to live with for the rest of hers. “Ok..." she said. "I won't give you a wishy washy answer. In fact, I'm not going to give you an answer at all. And if you ask me again, you're gonna git the same thing."
Rosco took in a deep breath, straightening his spine. "MaryAnne...."
"You can ask until you're blue in the face, Rosco. No answer."
Brian held his breath. I wonder if my old cell in Atlanta Federal is still available. His eyes flicked over to Rosco, sympathizing with his older cousin. MaryAnne was the one being unreasonable; but why?
MaryAnne and Rosco stared each other down for a moment and then MaryAnne looked at Brian. "No, I ain't tellin' you either."
"Did I ask?" Brian said defensively. "Good Lord, cousin. Rosco is only askin' because he cares enough to notice when you're bein' a…" he cut off the word a second to late, and he wasn’t talking about dogs.
MaryAnne raised an eyebrow. "Bein' a what?"
"Alright, that's a enough," Rosco said.
MaryAnne slapped her hands on the table and stood up. "Good enough for me." She headed towards the doorway, brushing past Brian.
Rosco's fist pounded the table. "Dammit..."
"MaryAnne!" Brian called out. "I didn't mean it like that, c'mon!"
"Just let her go, Brian," Rosco said with a defeated sigh. He closed his eyes and rested his head in his hand.
Brian halted his chase towards the door, and watched it bang shut behind MaryAnne. The next sound was that of Maverick firing up and spitting gravel as it burst from the driveway like a bullet. "I'm sorry," he said to both cousins, though only one could hear him.
Rosco came up behind Brian and put a hand on his shoulder. "It's alright, Brian..." the Sheriff said softly.
Brian sighed so hard that his posture sagged. "Hope you're right."
Maverick flew down the dirt road, like a shot in the dark. MaryAnne didn't slow down until she was about a mile from the house and then she took her foot of the gas completely and let the Firebird coast. She pulled over to the side of the road, coming to a stop and shut Maverick's lights off, but left the engine running, putting the gear shift in neutral so she could take her foot of the clutch. The purring engine and rumbling exhaust were the only thing that gave her any comfort, and that was small compared to the sudden emptiness she felt.
She ran out of the house more or less because she didn't want Rosco or Brian to see her breakdown, which she knew would have happened had she stayed a moment longer. MaryAnne may be a good cop, but she was emotional. She had now completely alienated her kin and that left her with only two friends now. Her car, and herself. And she was beginning to realize she didn't particularly like herself very much anymore.
Maverick idled for about twenty more minutes, the silver Phoenix bird on the hood reflecting some of the moonlight. And MaryAnne cried...
***** ***** *****
After an hour, and a quiet dinner with Brian, Rosco sat by the window in the living room waiting for MaryAnne to come back. When the old grandfather clock chimed the top of the hour, Rosco sighed and stood up. He walked to the stairway and called up to Brian.
"Brian? Listen, I'm gonna go out and try to find her. I don't know what good it's gonna do, but I can't sit here otherwise."
"Awright...I'll wait here. If she shows up, I'll call you on the CB," he yelled down. "And Sheriff...drive safe, ok?"
"I will. I’m gone." Rosco turned and grabbed his hat from the chair he had dropped it in earlier and left the house, quietly pulling the door closed behind him.
MaryAnne, meanwhile, had no intention of wanting to go back home any time soon. Rosco would be adamant on an answer now, and MaryAnne knew she couldn't face him. So she drove.
Rosco drove around town and then headed out the back roads. After a few minutes he picked up his CB mike. "Songbird, you out there?"
The radio remained quiet. But MaryAnne did hear him. She wasn't surprised that he'd be calling for her on the radio.
Rosco paused and then pushed the talk button again. "MaryAnne, look, I'm sorry. I mean that. Will you please answer me so I know yer all right?"
The CB was silent for a long moment. Long enough for anyone who was listening to think something was really wrong. But then a soft voice returned Rosco's call. "I'm okay, Rosco."
"You know I'm only worried 'bout ya..." he said sincerely.
"I know. You don't have to broadcast it all over Hazzard tho'..."
Rosco hesitated. "I'm sorry..." He disengaged the talk button and sighed. He then pushed it again. "Listen, are you gunna come home?"
"When I'm ready."
"I promise I'll...leave ya alone..." Now that was going to be hard. Rosco knew he couldn't leave it alone, but in order to keep peace with her, he was going to have to. If only for the night.
He didn't like her short, clipped answers. This was going to be a long night. "Okay," he said. "You be careful, ok?"
Rosco didn't bother with signing off. He just put the CB mike on the seat beside him and kept driving. If MaryAnne didn't want to talk over the radio, perhaps he could talk to her alone. He knew he shouldn't try, she was going to get mad...but something was telling him that that didn't matter.
Brian listned to the CB conversation and paced a hole into the floor. Several times he picked up the handset of the old tabletop CB, and put it back down without saying a word. The dialogue between Rosco and MaryAnne had been short and strained, and Brian doubted that anything he added would make a difference. "Dammit!" he said to himself for the tenth time. Since his outburst attracted Bandit and Flash's attention and there was no one else to vent to, Brian talked to the dogs. "It ain't like Rosco an' me really did anything to hack her off! That's what scares me. She ain't mad, really, she's actin' mad but she's also actin' like she don't care." He stopped to pat Bandit on the head, who had started to whine.
"Bandit, she's actin' cold. Like she's shut off the part of herself that makes her human...." The German Shepard, all ears, tilted his head and looked at Brian plaintively, and whined louder. Brian stopped and considered his own words. "Lord...she's actin' like I used to… but why?"
The dogs had no answer. They too, could only wait and hope. The chime of the grandfather clock sounded again, in a house that was suddenly too empty to be a home.
Rosco turned his patrol car onto another road and headed west. The road was dark and the Plymouth's highbeams lit up the bugs that happened to be in the line of the patrol car’s flight. Up ahead, another set of headlights appeared, heading towards him. Rosco switched to low beams as the car approached and he looked at it as it passed. As soon as he realized it was the only '78 Firebird in Hazzard County, he suddenly pulled the steering wheel around hard. One half of him was telling him to go after her, the other half demanding that he leave her alone, but the Plymouth was already tearing after the Firebird.
MaryAnne saw the patrol car turn around in her mirrors. Her heart skipped a beat and she stepped on the gas. She wasn't mad at Rosco...she was now afraid.
Rosco realized Maverick was picking up speed. This was one time he couldn't let her outdrive him. He stepped on the accelerator and even hit the switch for the gumballs, but no siren.
After following her through a turn, with the patrol car sliding more than the Pontiac, Rosco grabbed up his CB mike. "MaryAnne! Will you pull over?!"
"Back off, Rosco," she replied. "Just back off!"
"You know I can't back off. Now pull it over. I wanna talk to you alone."
"No can do..."
"I mean it! Dang it, don't make me run ya off the road!"
MaryAnne kept driving. One thing she knew, Rosco was head up enough that he WOULD run her off the road if he really had to. "You do what you think you have to," she replied finally. "Just like I gotta do what I think I have to..." She dropped the CB mike on the seat and concentrated on driving.
The Plymouth whined and Rosco pulled it around the left side of Maverick. He swerved a little towards the Firebird, not wanting to hit it but hoping to scare MaryAnne into pulling over. Maverick only moved closer to the shoulder of the road, tearing up the grass and gravel to avoid being nudged by the patrol car and still plowed forward. He tried it again, nicked Maverick's door with the patrol car's fender and then he pushed the Plymouth for all it had to get ahead of the Firebird. When it did, Rosco risked having MaryAnne T-bone him by turning the Plymouth side ways, blocking the road.
MaryAnne slammed the brakes and then tried to put Maverick in reverse, but the gear shift stuck. Rosco had jumped out of his patrol car and was running around towards her. She let off the clutch a bit and tried reverse again, grinding the gear. It was if Maverick had decided to yield to Rosco's demand of stopping, even though MaryAnne had not.
Rosco pulled open the door. "Outta the car," he said evenly.
MaryAnne looked up at her cousin. "Will you just leave me alone?" she said.
MaryAnne threw the gear shift into neutral and stepped out of the car. "Alright, I'm outta the car. NOW will you leave me alone?"
Rosco grabbed her by the arms, not hard, but firmly. "MaryAnne, what is going on? Why are you actin' like this? It ain't like ya."
She pushed his hands away. "So what? Why can't you just leave me alone??"
"Because I've known ya long enough to know that something's wrong, but you won't talk about it."
"There ain't nothin' to talk about, Rosco. Just leave me ALONE. What part of that don't you understand??"
Rosco's look went from stern to pleading. "MaryAnne, please..."
She shook her head and turned to get back into her car. The door slammed hard and Maverick sputtered and shot backwards. Rosco watched it and then hung his head as the car spun around and taillights faded into the darkness.
Rosco debated going after her again. But his urge faded as fast as the Firebird into the distance. He walked back to the patrol car, slamming his hand on the back fender as he stepped toward the door. He got into the car, slamming the door hard. Rosco was mad, frustrated and hurt by all that MaryAnne was doing. And what made him more mad, frustrated and hurt was that he couldn't figure why. Why was she doing this??
After a few moments, the patrol car turned and headed down the road, back to town.
The radio silence got to Brian more that the actual CB transmissions had. After a few suspenseful minutes, he had to know if Rosco and MaryAnne had ran each other into a ditch, or were talking things out, or...."Blackbird to Songbird and Bear, come back!"
Rosco picked up his CB mike and waited to see if MaryAnne would respond first. She didn't, so Rosco did the honors. "I hear ya, Blackbird. Go ahead."
Brian's sigh of relief was audible over the radio. "Y'all okay, Bear?"
"I suppose," Rosco replied. "She just plain didn't wanna talk to me."
Brian tightened his grip around the CB handset. "Roger, Bear....I'm gonna give it one last shot." He let up on the button, gave it a minute, then radioed again. "Blackbird to Songbird, come back."
MaryAnne looked at the CB set with a disinterested glance. She didn't reply.
"Awright, Songbird," Brian said after the wait had been too long. "Awright. I'm gonna bank on the odds that you're still listenin', even if you aint' talkin'. So listen a minute." Brian took a breath that could be heard over the air. "Cousin, there's been bullets and blood between us, and even then you never gave me the silent treatment. And since you're one of the two friends I got in this whole county...I can't afford to let you run off without speakin' my mind.”
He took another breath. "I'm gonna give you room, Songbird, to sort yourself out. I got no right to intrude anyhow. But Bear is my cousin too...and so help me, what you're doin' to him is worse than the knife he caught in the spleen that time." Brian paused as his temper began to build. "You've gone too damn far. All I can tell ya, is I hope it's worth it."
Maverick came to a screeching stop in the middle of the road. MaryAnne closed her eyes as the memory of when Rosco had been attacked came rushing back at her. Her hands gripped the steering wheel so tight her arms shook. Some slimy Syndicate killer nearly took Rosco from her...and the whole damn Syndicate itself nearly prevented Brian from becoming part of the family. Was what she was going to do worth it? MaryAnne snatched up the mike.
"You damn well better believe it's worth it!" she said so suddenly that both Rosco and Brian jumped at her burst of a reply. "You'll see...the both of ya will see..." She stopped before she said more than she should and threw the mike down on the seat. She then slammed on the accelerator.
MaryAnne's answer sent a foreboding chill down Brian's back. "Songbird!" he radioed desperately. "Songbird! Don't do anythin' crazy..."
"Don't worry about me, Blackbird..." MaryAnne said softly to herself. She did not pick up the CB mike however.
Defeated by the silence, Brian shut his eyes and hung up the CB. He knew half of Hazzard probably heard the conversation, and suspected that anywhere Maverick went, someone would let him or Rosco know about it. It was the only thread of hope left to grasp.
Rosco kept driving, if only for something to do. Meanwhile, out at the Duke farm, the cousins and Uncle Jesse were standing in the kitchen, having heard the conversations between the Coltrane cousins. Jesse was shaking his head. "Something is very, very wrong," he said.
Daisy looked at her uncle. "I don't like it, Uncle Jesse," she said. "It's like she's a whole different person."
When the radio was quiet long enough, Jesse walked to it and picked up the mike.
"Shepard callin' Bear--oh dang it, Rosco this is Jesse Duke. Come back."
Rosco sighed and picked up his CB mike. "What is it, Jesse?"
"Listen, can you come out to the farm for a minute? We need yer help with something."
Rosco couldn't help his snap response. "Jesse, for cryin' out loud, I got my own problems to deal with! What could you Dukes possibly need my help for??"
"Because yer the Sheriff! Now git out here!"
Rosco flinched. When Jesse Duke told you to do something, you did it. Rosco turned the patrol car around. "Ten-four."
"What are you thinkin', Uncle Jesse?" Daisy asked.
"I'm thinkin' to suggest to Rosco that one of us try talkin' to MaryAnne. I don't know how much good it'll do, but it's worth a try at least."
About five minutes later, Rosco's patrol car pulled into the Duke yard. He walked up onto the porch and knocked on the inside door.
"It's open, Rosco," Jesse said. Rosco opened the door and saw all the Dukes standing there waiting for him.
"Jesse, what's goin' on?" Rosco asked as he closed the door behind and removed his hat.
"We wanna talk to ya about MaryAnne, Rosco," Daisy said.
"And we want to help," Luke added, with Bo nodding agreement.
Rosco's expression softened. "Ya heard on the radio didn't ya?" He stepped towards the table and sat down, moving like a man much older than he was. He sighed. "I don't understand what's happened...."
The Dukes moved to surround the table, with Jesse sitting down across from the Sheriff. "We heard," the Duke patriach said. "Now we may not know MaryAnne as well as you do, but we're sure we know her well enough to know that she ain't actin' right."
Rosco nodded. "I can't even talk to her, Jesse. She won't tell me nothing..."
"Did ya'll have a fight before all this started?" Bo asked. His blue eyes were bright with concern. "Was there somethin' goin' on at the Sheriff's department, or...."
"Somethin' at home?" Luke finished for him.
Rosco slowly shook his head, though he was staring at the Duke’s red checkered table cloth in thought. "No.." He was quiet as he thought more of when this all started. "She had gone to Atlanta couple days ago...said she had to go because of some new evidence in a case when she was there a couple years ago." He looked up at the Dukes now. "She was lyin'. Flat out lyin'. I called Atlanta and spoke to Lt. Briggs who was her commanding officer when she was there. There ain't no new evidence in any cases from the time she was there! That's when she started actin' strange..."
Luke leaned forward. "What reason would MaryAnne have to lie to you?"
"MaryAnne ain't never lied to me before. Never. I can't for the life of me figure why she would start now..."
"MaryAnne ain't never given us trumpted-up tickets before neither," Bo said worriedly.
"And she ain't never mouthed off to Boss before, at least in front of customers!" Daisy pointed out.
Luke rested his elbows on the table and curled his hands together, propping his chin up in thought. His dark blue eyes seemed absent as he spoke. "One thing's for sure. She's not just upset with her own family. She's mad at the world."
"But why?" Rosco wondered. His blue eyes were fearful now. His voice softened. "Why's it happening? And just how far is she gonna go...?"
"That's what we've got to try and find out," Jesse said gently. "Now Rosco, don't worry. Me n' Daisy and the boys here are gonna get to the bottom of this..."
"Or we're gonna wear ourselves out tryin'," Luke finished.
Jesse nodded. "He's right. Now you're the Sheriff, Rosco. You got the whole county to look after, besides keepin' an eye on your cousins. You take it easy, 'cause we'll help any way we can." The elder Duke patted Rosco's arm.
"Thanks, Jesse," Rosco replied. He then sighed, his shoulders slumping a bit. He had more he wanted to say, about how much MaryAnne meant to him, but the Dukes had heard it before. They knew.
Daisy got up and brought Rosco a cup of coffee. It was clear that the Sheriff needed a minute to quietly collapse. Bo and Luke stood up at the same time. "Reckon we'll take a ride down to the Boar's Nest," Luke said generically.
"We'll call on the CB if there's any news," Bo said as he pulled the General's keys from his pocket. The boys walked around the table to the door, each of them giving Rosco's shoulder a light touch of reassurance as they passed. They knew how he felt, because their own concern wasn't far behind.
MaryAnne, meanwhile, kept driving. She wanted to go home, but she was sure that by now, there was no going home. She figured she'd be out the rest of the night, then roll in to town in the morning, turn in her badge and be on her way to Atlanta.
Absently, MaryAnne found herself on the road that led to the Boar's Nest. She drove by it, the light still on and Boss's Caddy now parked out front. He was probably counting the nights cast receipts. MaryAnne didn't stop and continued on heading towards town.
After a half-hour of searching, the Duke boys were getting nervous. "I dunno, Luke. She could be anywhere in the whole county. She ain't at the Boar's Nest, and we know she ain't at home."
Luke stared out the open passenger window of the General and pondered it all. "And the only other place she'd usually show up is our farm. Dang it..."
"What about Cooter's?"
Luke was about to dismiss it, but then his blood chilled. "Only way we'd find her at Cooter's is if she'd run Maverick half into the ground."
Bo was already speeding the General up, both of them becoming quiet with dire speculation.
When she got to town, MaryAnne parked Maverick in front of the Busy Bee Cafe, which was still open. She had stormed out of the house before getting any dinner and now her stomach was demanding her attention. She had three dollars in her pocket and about 56 cents in change. That was enough to buy her a sandwich and a small drink. She returned to Maverick to eat.
She paused and looked at the sandwich a moment, wondering how she could have an appetite for anything at all considering all she gone through in just the last hour and a half. But slowly, she took a bite and sighed, looking out over the darkened square.
The General's headlights flashed off Maverick's rear view mirror. The orange stock car turned the corner and pulled into Cooter's. "I ain't sure whether to be relieved or more scared," Luke said, when it was clear that the Firebird had not been towed in.
"More scared," Bo answered. He swung the General around and pulled out of the garage's lot. "I don't see Maverick in front of the courthouse neither. She musta lit out of the county-"
“Bo, look!" Luke pointed to the blue-tailed Pontiac sitting across the street. "Maybe she got a job waitressin' at the cafe! Ain't that many blue Firebirds in town."
"Just one, to be exact!" Bo said cheerfully, aiming the General down the street.
MaryAnne was sipping on her drink when she heard the rumble of the General as it approached. She turned her head and watched out the window as the orange Dodge passed her.
Luke made eye contact with MaryAnne as they slowly drove by. "She's just sittin' there in the car," he said uncertainly. "Bo, back it up. Maybe she's ready to talk to somebody."
Instantly, the General stopped and lurched as Bo threw it into reverse, the red taillights zeroing in on Maverick's front end.
MaryAnne watched as the General backed up infront of her car. The Firebird didn't move and she watched the boys in the lights that shined from the cafe climb out of the General and walk over to her.
Bo and Luke stopped a half-foot from Maverick's driver-side door. Not knowing what to think of MaryAnne regarding them calmly from the car, they stood awkwardly in the street. Luke cleared his throat and leaned forward, hooking his thumbs behind his belt buckle. "MaryAnne?"
MaryAnne looked at the two, her expression neither threatening, but not particularly welcoming either. "Evenin' fellas."
"Evenin'," Bo said with the most charming smile he could muster. "Uh..."
Luke salvaged it. "MaryAnne, are you okay?"
She sipped at her drink again, pushing the ice inside the paper cup around with her straw. "Oh, I'm fine," she said. She didn't look at the boys as she spoke however.
Bo tried again. "Rosco's worried about ya," he said neutrally.
"Ain't he always?"
Bo and Luke's spines stiffened at the same time. "MaryAnne, the Duke's have been worried about ya too. Bo n' me just wanna talk to you a minute and see if there's somethin' we can help ya with."
MaryAnne gathered up her sandwhich wrapper and now-empty soda cup. She opened the door, startling the boys a bit. "I appreciate your concern fellas, but there's nothing you can help me with." She tossed her litter into the trash bin. She then turned back to the boys. "Other than stayin' outta my way." She marched back to Maverick.
That one stung. "MaryAnne!" Luke said in surprise and gently grabbed her shoulders. "C'mon, is that any way to talk to your friends?"
MaryAnne stopped and looked at Luke in the eye. "It is...if you want 'em alive..." she said softly and pushed Luke's arms away. She then swung around and got into her car.
Bo and Luke stood there, dumbfounded and slack-jawed as MaryAnne started Maverick up. They jumped out of the way as the Pontiac rocked back into reverse and then swung forward around the General. Luke silently mouthed the words MaryAnne has spoken, trying to place a meaning in the cryptic message. One thing's for sure, he thought to himself soberly. Whatever's botherin' MaryAnne is serious. Dead serious.
"Luke, c'mon!" Bo yelled, doing a graceful flying dive into the General. "We gotta catch 'er!"
"Bo." Luke hadn't moved from the street, his gaze still focused on the ghostlike tail lights of the speeding Pontiac. "We ain't gonna chase her," he said softly.
Bo looked up at his cousin. "What do you mean we ain't gonna chase her?? Luke, something is really wrong!"
"And if we chase her, we're gonna make it worse." Luke walked up to Bo and rested a hand on his cousin's shoulder. "And besides, we gotta let everybody know that she's okay."
Bo sighed and dropped his hands off the steering wheel. "Yeah, you're right. But I'll tell ya, Luke, it don't seem like she's okay to me."
"You got that right...." Luke walked around the General and slid into the passenger side. Bo fired the car up with a spitting roar and swung it away from the curb in a Y-turn, heading back towards the farm.
The Duke boys made one quick detour on the way home, stopping at the Coltrane homestead. Brian took the sight of Dukes on the doorstep as a bad omen, and he received the news about MaryAnne with a mixture of gratitude and deepening worry. There was no time for more, however, as Bo and Luke hurried back home. They had refrained from using the CB out of concern for MaryAnne's last words to them.
When the roaring Charger returned to the farm, Rosco's face was already peering out the window. As the boys headed towards the porch, Rosco let the kitchen window curtain fall and he stood waiting, anxiously, for the boys to enter.
"We found her," Luke said as he swung the door open. "She's okay, but she's also neck-deep into something she wouldn't talk about."
Rosco sighed and ran his hand over his face. "What did she say to you?"
Luke debated the truth. Rosco was already worried, and there was more to MaryAnne's behavior than her few words could explain. In the end, Luke couldn't deny the look in the Sheriff's eyes. He relayed the words as MaryAnne had spoken them, withholding his own impressions.
The Sheriff sighed heavily and turned towards the living room, pacing towards it while deep in thought. Jesse and Daisy watched him and the boys followed him into the room. "If you want 'em alive..." he whispered to himself. He looked at each Duke now, trying to figure an explanation.
Jesse looked back with grave concern. Daisy's eyes were wide and troubled. Bo looked nervous and pent-up; he just wanted to do something about it all, not stand around and talk. Luke, however, held the Sheriff's eyes the longest. "I reckon she meant somethin' by it," he told Rosco quietly. "What, I ain't sure. But I'll tell you this much, it was the only time tonight that I saw the old MaryAnne that we know."
"Why won't she talk to me?!" Rosco exclaimed, the fear and frustration clear in his eyes and his posture. His cowboy hat was practically a mangled wreck in his hands. Not to say the least about how the rest of him felt.
"Maybe she can't." Jesse said. He tucked his hands inside his overalls and took a couple of steps towards Rosco. "You know she'd come to you if she could. What she told Luke sounds like a warnin' of some kind."
Rosco eyes were intense as they stared ahead, not looking at any of the Dukes. He then suddenly turned towards the fireplace. "A warnin'. She can give Luke some kind of warnin' but not me?" Rosco turned back to Jesse. "How do you explain that?"
Jesse didn't flinch. "Would you have been satisfied by what she told Luke?"
"Arrre you kiddin' me, of course not!" Rosco lost steam quick. His shoulders slumped. "Wouldn'ta gotten any more of an answer from her than I've gotten in the past two days."
"But she's okay," Luke reminded him. "That's what's important. She's still here in Hazzard."
"Sure," Rosco said. "But for how long? She's okay now, but will she be okay tomorrow? And the next day? And the next??"
"You've worried about that ever since she was six years old," Jesse said with a mild smile. "You've got to trust her, Rosco. She'll come to you when she can."
Rosco sighed and looked at his hat, the brim now a tight curl. "I just got a bad feelin', Jesse," he said. "A really bad feelin'. I trust her and all..." He looked Jesse in the eye. "But something is wrong. Seriously wrong."
The Dukes circled closer around Rosco. "I know," Jesse said softly.
Rosco sighed again. He then looked at Luke. "Where did you find her?"
"Sittin' in Maverick in town, parked outside of the cafe'. Eatin' somethin' in the car."
"At least she's had dinner." He paused and nodded. He then fixed the brim of his hat as best he could and put the hat on his head, taking a step towards the Duke’s kitchen and the door.
"Rosco?" Jesse said.
Rosco stopped and looked back at the elder Duke. "Yeah?"
Rosco gave a thoughtful nod. "I will." The Sheriff then left the Duke's homestead. He decided to try one more time to find MaryAnne and pointed his patrol car towards town, despite knowing that she was probably wasn’t there anymore.
But she wasn't far away. While Rosco was thinking of one last way to get her to talk to him, Maverick was pulling into the gravel drive of the Coltrane house.
The lights inside the house were on, and the dogs were barking their enthusiastic hello. The porch light was on as well, glowing optimistically.
MaryAnne left the Firebird in the drive, instead of driving it into the barn as she usually did. She closed the door after getting out of the car and walked up onto the porch, unlocking the door and going into the house.
She stopped the greet the puppies, both of whom had their tails wagging excitedly. Bandit especially seemed happy to see his mistress again.
Brian came out from the kitchen, and stopped at the threshold of the living room. He watched MaryAnne wordlessly.
MaryAnne hugged her dog and rubbed his tummy. She then took a moment to pet Flash, talking to both dogs in hushed tones. She then stood up and started towards the stairs. She saw Brian out of the corner of her eye, but did not acknowledge her cousin.
It annoyed him. "Woof!" Brian barked insistently, folding his arms and leaning against the doorframe.
MaryAnne put one foot on the stairs and looked at Brian. "Bow wow, yourself. I have nothing to say to you or to Rosco. I'm going upstairs and I'm goin' to sleep."
"Worked for you guys," Brian mumbled to the dogs. But as MaryAnne began to hoof it up the stairs, he couldn't let it rest. "Hey!" he called out, leaving the doorframe and rounding the corner towards the stairs. "MaryAnne, I'm sorry, c'mon!"
MaryAnne kept going and made it to the top of the stairs. She went straight for her room and the door quietly clicked shut.
Brian jogged up the stairs, pausing at MaryAnne's door. He stood there a moment, uncertain. He was angry, hurt, worried, and just plain confused, and there didn't seem to be anything he could say that would make a difference. He opened his mouth and found his throat too tight to speak. After a deep breath, he got the word out, half-question and half-plea. "Cousin?"
"Good night, Brian," was all that came from the other side of the door.
Wounded, Brian shut his eyes and braced one arm against the wall, leaning against it as he drew in a long sigh. After a couple of minutes, he turned away and walked quietly down the stairs.
"MaryAnne...?" The Sheriff's voice was soft over the CB radio that sat on the table next to the couch in the living room.
Brian picked it up. "She's home, Rosco," he said bluntly. "If you want, I can try to get her to come to the radio."
"She's home?? Jit jit....uh..you don't have to Brian, I'm on my way," Rosco replied anxiously.
"Ten-four." And I wish you luck when you get here, Brian added silently.
A few minutes later, Rosco patrol car came to a gravel skidding stop in the drive. The Sheriff hurried out of his car and ran into the house, startling Flash and Bandit to their feet. They barked as he came into the door but he looked straight at Brian. "Where is she?"
"Upstairs, in her room."
Rosco didn't even bother removing his hat. He headed straight for the stairs and even skipped every other one as he went up. He stopped in front of MaryAnne's door and knocked.
"MaryAnne? MaryAnne, will you please open this door so I can talk to you?"
"Rosco, will you please just leave me alone."
"I wanna know what you meant by what you said to Luke Duke earlier." He paused. "MaryAnne, if you're in trouble I just want to help ya if I can."
Rosco heard the floor creak as MaryAnne came to the door. It opened enough for her to peak out at him. "You can help," she said, "by staying out of my way. And heed the same warnin' I gave to Luke. Just stay away from me."
"MaryAnne--" The door closed before Rosco could finish. "Dang it!" He came close to pounding on it with his fist, but didn't. Instead he just turned away and went back down stairs, mumbling as he did so. "Judas priest on a pony..." He looked at Brian. "Did she say anything to you when she came in?"
The ex-criminal stuck his hands in his pockets and shook his head. "Only that she had nothin' to say to either of us."
Rosco sighed and pulled his hat off his head. He sat down on the couch, defeated, letting his hat flop on his lap. "I give up, Brian. She won't talk and I guess I can't strangle it outta her..."
The expression on Rosco's face was giving Brian's worry a new depth. "What exactly did she say to the Dukes? They stopped by here to let me know she was okay, but that's all."
Rosco propped his elbow on the arm rest of the couch, resting his forehead in his hand. "She said something, to which Luke replied, 'Is that anyway to talk to your friends?' She responded with, 'It is...if you want 'em alive.'" Rosco turned his eyes up to Brian. Whaddaya make of that?
Brian's dark eyes went into sharp focus, taking on a hardness of expression that tried, unsuccessfully, to hide his fear for MaryAnne. "If it was anybody else talkin', it'd sound like a threat," he said at last. "But from MaryAnne, that's a warnin'. But it aint' enough of one to tell us what the hell it's for!"
Rosco's hand dropped on the arm rest and he leaned his head back against the couch, staring up at the ceiling. He sighed and shook his head. "We probably won't find out what it's for before...it's too late..." he finished in a whisper.
The remainder of the night was a troubled one in the Coltrane household. Brian and Rosco ended their conversation without drawing any comfort from their speculations. Once the Sheriff had trudged up the stairs to salvage what rest he could for himself, Brian crept out the front door.
Keeping hidden in shadows, he skirted the neighborhood on foot, mindful of MaryAnne's warning. He saw nothing worthy of suspicion in town, but maybe MaryAnne's meaning lay elsewhere. Something nagged him that he couldn't put a finger on. One thing's for sure, we'd better be ready for anything, he thought to himself, and skulked over to the Hazzard Garage. It was no problem to slip inside.
The sun came up a short time later, without Brian's notice. He was busy underneath an old Chevy. Meanwhile, Hazzard was about to wake up to another surprise.
***** ***** *****
MaryAnne was up and gone by the time Rosco woke up. The emptiness of the house was more than Rosco wanted to deal with, so he decided to find something for breakfast in town. Maverick was parked in his usual spot in the impound yard, and Rosco could only conclude that MaryAnne was doing the early morning patrol.
News of MaryAnne quitting the Boar's Nest was floating around at the cafe when Rosco walked in. Several people stopped talking and looked at Rosco when the Sheriff went up to the counter. Rosco could feel several pairs of eyes on him and he turned to look towards the dining room. Some folks looked away, while others still gave him a curious stare. He turned to the front of the café, watching the waitress fill a coffee cup for another customer. She glanced at Rosco as the customer, farmer Davis, regarded the law man as well. When the waitress walked away, Rosco looked at Mr. Davis.
"Whatchya lookin' at?" Rosco said, nearly barking it.
"Sorry, Sheriff. Folks' been talkin' ya know." He took a sip of his coffee. "We heard how MaryAnne quit workin' at the Boar's Nest last night..."
"Ain't like her," the old man continued. "tain't like her at all..."
Rosco was stone silent as the waitress brought his coffee and breakfast sandwich to him. He thanked her and put four dollars on the counter, enough to cover the breakfast and a tip. He picked up the coffee cup and brown paper bag and was about to leave when Mr. Davis asked him a question. "Why'd she quit, Rosco?"
Rosco hesitated. "It's...a long story, Henry. I ain't got time to tell ya now." The Sheriff walked out of the cafe and straight to the courthouse.
***** ***** *****
"I dunno, y'all," Cooter said as he opened the Hazzard Garage for business. "She's been actin' madder than a tomcat in a bubble bath. If it weren't for what she told Luke here, I'd a-thought she'd just plain flipped."
Light burst into the garage as Cooter pulled the big doors open. "Even with what she told me, we're not much better off," Luke answered. "I figure we'd best keep our eyes open and our ears on. No tellin' what kind of trouble she's got herself into-"
Luke broke off his words at a nudge from Bo. The younger Duke was pointing to the tools that were scattered on the garage floor, all near a black Chevy Impala. Cooter nodded at the Dukes and squared his baseball cap on his head. "Looks like I been broke into, sure 'nuff!" He picked up a heavy wrench and slapped it into his palm noisily. "When I get my hands on the varmint that snuck into my garage and messed it up, I'm gonna-"
"Easy, Cooter," Luke said with a wink. "Best to let the law handle somethin' like this." Silent as a cat, Luke snuck around one side of the Chevy as Bo stepped to the front of the car. Cooter blocked the way to the door. "You're right, Lukas. I'll let the law handle it, right after I've had a word with whoever's responsible for this."
Underneath Diablo, Brian was trying not to breathe or move a muscle. He could see Cooter's boots between the car and the door, and he knew Bo stood close to the car's front bumper. Luke's voice suddenly rang out. "Tell ya what, Cooter. First we'd better start this ol' beast up and make sure he didn't get damaged, then we’ll drive it out -" Luke opened the door and sat down in the car, and turned the key just enough for the ignition switch to buzz.
"WAIT!" Brian scrambled out from underneath the Chevy. Cooter grinned and the Dukes started to laugh. Feeling his ears turn red, Brian stammered an explanation. It was turning out to be a hell of a morning.
Meanwhile, MaryAnne nailed more trumped up tickets, sending more annoyed and curious folks to the courthouse later that morning. But that was nothing compared to what Rosco would face when MaryAnne came in.
Boss Hogg was parked in his office and had the door open. He heard the people come in, complaining about the tickets they got from MaryAnne. The heavyset man's eyebrows creased in question, and when a pause came between people coming in, he stepped out of his office and looked at Rosco. “Did I hear right? MaryAnne's handin' out speed trap tickets?"
Rosco looked at his brother-in-law with a somewhat cross expression. "Yeah, ain't that great?" He held up a couple of tickets. "A hundred and seventy-five dollars worth right here!"
"A hundred and...." Boss walked up to the booking desk and looked at the tickets. "Oh man I wish she had done this before now! Hee hee!"
"Boss, it ain't funny! You know as well as I do that MaryAnne wouldn't--" Rosco almost said 'stoop to this level.' Instead he finished with, "do this."
Boss's expression sobered and he poked his cigar into his mouth, picking up the tickets in his chubby hand. He looked them over, normally overjoyed by the amount of money such tickets could bring in. But Rosco was right, and deep down that bothered Boss.
He shrugged and put the tickets back down. "Maybe she's just trying to meet her quota early."
Rosco shook his head. "I don't think so..." He looked at Boss. "If this don't seem strange to ya, then what do you call her quittin' the Boar's Nest last night?"
Boss paused, still staring at the tickets. "I call that strange." He looked at Rosco. "Rosco, what's going on with that girl?"
Rosco shook his head again. "I dunno, Boss. I think she's in some kinda trouble or something but she won't talk to me, or Brian, or to anybody! You know I nearly ran her off the road last night trying to get her to talk to me?" Rosco sighed.
"I tell ya, Boss, I feel like somebody's pulled a bait an' switch on me or something. She looks like MaryAnne, but ain't quite actin' like MaryAnne--"
Rosco stopped and looked over at the booking room doors as they opened. He figured another irate motorist would be entering. But it wasn't. It was MaryAnne.
Rosco's spine straightened and he watched his young cousin cautiously. MaryAnne, however, smiled up at him and Boss Hogg. "Hey, Boss, didja see all the tickets I've been nailin'? Doin' pretty good eh?"
"Uh..." Boss looked at the tickets and then at MaryAnne. "Yeah...yeah, you've been doin' real good..."
MaryAnne kept her poker face on, but inside she was thanking Boss for his half hearted reaction. That was all she needed to fuel her retort. "What's the matter? Is it not enough?"
"No, no, it's fine...it's just..." Boss glanced at Rosco for some kind of help. Not that the Sheriff could provide much. "Umm...well, ya see it's just that..."
"It ain't like you, MaryAnne," Rosco blurted out. "It just ain't like ya. You're better than this!"
MaryAnne looked at Rosco. "Yeah, you said that before." She paused, her eyebrows creasing in thought. "You know, if I'm better than that, how come I'm the one getting screwed? If being honest is so great and wonderful, how come it pays so little?" She eyed Boss Hogg now. "Why is it the one who walks all over the little guy, reaps benefits?"
Boss sucked in a breath. Rosco was standing up now. “MaryAnne--"
"Hush, I ain't finished. You're right, cousin, I am better than this. I'm better than ALL of this!" She looked at Boss again. "I'm a hell of a lot better than this paid-off lawman you got here. This county ain't worth peanuts, crooked or straight! I'm tired of gettin' the short end of the stick all the time..." She slipped her badge off and slapped it on the booking desk, startling both Rosco and Boss. "I'm gonna save ya a couple of bucks, Boss...and go find a way to make myself more...."
Rosco stepped around Boss and came down from behind the booking desk just as MaryAnne was removing her gun belt. Just as she was to place it on the booking desk, Rosco grabbed her by the arms. "What--what has gotten into you?!? MaryAnne--"
MaryAnne knocked his hands off her arms. "The only thing that's gotten into me is the realization that I'm a fool! And that my talents would be better suited elsewhere." MaryAnne dropped the gunbelt on the desk. "The last few months have only proven that being an honest law officer doesn't mean diddly to anybody! And it's not gettin' me anywhere that's for sure..." she turned away from Rosco and started towards the doors of the booking room.
"Wait...MaryAnne, wait a minute." Rosco got in front of her, blocking her from leaving. He looked at her, putting his hands on her shoulders. "MaryAnne, look, I know I...I ain't been a straight as an arrow lawman for awhile, but you gotta believe me..." He paused, his eyes looking back towards Boss without turning his head. "It ain't worth it," he finished softly.
MaryAnne looked at her cousin without expression. But she could see what her words were doing. They were hurting him, deeply. He knew his mistake and he didn't want to see her take the same route he had. "I'm sorry, Rosco," she said. "I've made up my mind." She turned away from him, not being able to stand the look in his eyes and brushed passed him, out the door.
Rosco followed after her. MaryAnne's steps were quick as she headed towards the impound yard. "MaryAnne, wait!"
The ex-deputy didn't turn around. She went straight to Maverick and got in.
Maverick's engine turned over, revved. Tires squealed as the Pontiac went flying out of the impound yard and onto the street, leaving Rosco in a cloud of dust and catching the attention of Brian, the Duke boys and Cooter over at the garage.
The four men spilled from the garage at the sound of Maverick's howling engine, and they were out in time to see the Pontiac's blue tail disappear around the town square. Rosco could be seen running for his patrol car. Brian spun on his heels and made a beeline for Diablo, pausing only to move tools out of the way. "Brian! Wait!" Cooter yelled after him. "That U-joint needed to be bolted on-"
"I took care of it!" Brian yelled back, opening the car door and turning the key. The Chevy gave a short, hesitant whine, then a stuttering chug before kicking over with a va-hooom that blew debris from both tailpipes. The Dukes ran for the General Lee, knowing that three Coltranes on the road at the same time could only mean trouble.
Cooter cupped his hands around his mouth to be heard over the sound of the roaring motors. "But Brian! I didn't get the steering box checked, I ain't road tested that car!"
"I'll let ya know how he does!" Brian yelled out before putting Diablo in forward gear. Cooter jumped out of the way as the black Chevy leapt from the garage, lunging ahead like a loosened bloodhound. It took to the street like the proverbial bat out of hell.
The General Lee had already torn away from the curb and was in pursuit of MaryAnne. Pushing Diablo into high gear, Brian caught up with the Dukes in a matter of moments. He could barely make out Maverick's blue shape some distance ahead of them, with Rosco's car a few lengths behind.
"Aww geez..." MaryAnne shifted gears. It was bad enough she had Rosco after her. Now she had nearly the whole dang town. Sorry I'm late, Commander Mayson. I got held up in a car chase....sheesh!
The Dukes picked up the CB and radioed Rosco. "Lost Sheep callin' Rosco, Lost Sheep callin' Rosco, come back!"
"Dang it fellas!" Rosco replied. "I know yer back there!"
"An' we know you're up there," Luke replied. "But what we don't know is why MaryAnne went tearin' off and why you're chasin' her! Since we've invited ourselves along for the chase, why don'tcha fill us in!"
"She quit! She done quit as a deputy!" Rosco exclaimed, flustered. "And she's sayin' she quit because she could be a better CROOKED lawman somewhere else. I'll be damn---" Rosco bit off the rest of his words. "Just help me stop her will ya?"
Luke couldn't answer right away for shock. When it sank in, he answered, "You got it, Rosco. We're gone!"
"Back off Rosco! All of ya, just back off dammit!" MaryAnne's voice suddenly screeched through the CB sets of the General, Diablo and Rosco's patrol car.
Luke picked up the CB again. "MaryAnne! We'll back off if you slow down! Let's just all pull over and talk about this, okay?"
"There's nothing to talk about Luke! I'll slow down when y'all back off, plain and simple."
There was an instant of hesitation, then Rosco's patrol car dropped speed. "Better slow down, Bo," Luke said, and the General followed suit. Diablo swung up alongside the General Lee and paced it. Even at the reduced speed, they were all moving faster than what safety called for - and chasing MaryAnne to her death was not part of anyone's plan.
MaryAnne glanced in her mirror again and saw the vehicles were slowing down. She picked up her CB mike. "That's it...now bring it to a stop. All of ya."
Rosco guided his patrol car to a stop, and the General and Diablo rolled to a halt behind him. They waited tensely, engines running, for MaryAnne's next move.
Maverick's taillights lit up and the car swung around in a 180. The car stopped in the dust about 20 yards up ahead and the nose of the Pontiac pointed at the patrol car and two muscle cars behind it. MaryAnne held her CB mike in her hand. "Now turn it around, and go back to town. My decision to quit the Sheriff's department has nothing to do with any of ya. My decision to quit the Boar's Nest has nothing to do with any of ya. Any decision I make from here on out, has nothing to do with any of you."
Rosco picked up the mike. "MaryAnne...sweetheart...then you gotta tell me just one thing...what does it have to do with?"
The radio was quiet for a long moment. "Can't say," MaryAnne said. "Just..." her voice softened a bit, almost to a whisper. "Just don't believe nothin' anybody tells you about me..." Dust kicked up from under Maverick's back tires and the Firebird turned around and sped off down the road.
"MaryAnne!" Rosco called frantically. "Wait!"
"MaryAnne-" Luke shouted over the CB, echoing Rosco. Despite MaryAnne's instructions, the patrol car and the General Lee leapt forward to give chase. They couldn't give up, not like this.
Brian urged Diablo forward with the gas pedal on the floor. By not giving the Chevy a chance to shift, he shot ahead of the General Lee and then tore ahead of Rosco's Plymouth. He then yanked the wheel hard to the left, spinning the long black car to block the road.
Rosco slammed his brakes and glared at the black Chevy. "BRIAN!!" He threw the transmission into park and jumped out of the patrol car. "Dang it, Brian, don't tell me yer gunna start in on actin' weird now too?!"
Brian gave one last look at the blue Firebird that was rapidly disappearing. Now we're even, MaryAnne...I let you go, too. He fought with the constriction in his throat; he'd be damned if he'd snivel in front of the Dukes, who were now climbing out of the General Lee. He took an uneven breath and faced Rosco. "We had to let 'er go, Rosco. We can't force her to stay."
"Argh..." Rosco paused and let out a defeated sigh. He looked up to the sky and clinched his hand into a fist. "I just...want to know...what's goin' on..." He hit the hood of the Plymouth with the outside of his fist. "Can't somebody tell me what's happened to her?!"
Brian turned away. He had no answer. And the Dukes were looking at the two Coltrane men with a mixture of sympathy and unanswered questions of their own. Brian wiped his eyes quickly. He knew how it must look to the rest of the town. Sure, a crooked Sheriff and a criminal, bein' kin to an honest cop...how long could MaryAnne deal with that? he thought to himself bitterly.
Rosco watched Brian and suddenly thought the same thing. After a moment, he hung his head. "Of all the things I never wanted to have happen to her, was for her to think she ever had to go crooked..." He shook his head. "If this is my fault..." I ain't got no excuse...
"It's either neither of our faults...or both." Brian sighed despondently. There seemed to be nothing left to do, other than go home and hope that MaryAnne would call when she simmered down. He got back into the Chevy, waiting to see if Rosco would follow suit.
Bo and Luke were watching Rosco. Hesitantly, Luke took a step towards the right side fender of Rosco's patrol car, looking at the Sheriff standing on the other side of the car. "Rosco...did she really say she was going crooked?"
"Not straight out. She said she was tired of gettin' the short end of the stick. That bein' honest...wasn't worth it." Damn those words sound too familar... Rosco looked at the boys and then turned away, a little ashamed and stepped back to the driver door of his patrol car.
Diablo pulled away slowly. Brian gave the Dukes a short nod of thanks and then gunned it back towards town.
The boys nodded back and watched Rosco as he got into his car. They stepped back as the Plymouth pulled away and the car headed back to town as well, but not as fast as the Chevy had. When the patrol car's exhaust note began to fade, Bo sighed. "Luke, there's no way...there is just no way MaryAnne would throw away the law book like that..."
Luke nodded. "I know, Bo. There's more to it. She's doing it for a reason, a bigger reason." Luke looked at his younger cousin who nodded.
"What if she's bein' threatened?" Bo suggested. "What if somebody's got something hangin' over her, and if she doesn't comply they'll do...something. Shoot, they could be threatening to kill Rosco or Brian or the whole town!"
"Yeah...but the question is: Who would threaten her like that?"
Bo paused in thought, staring down the road where Rosco and Brian had disappeared. He didn't know anymore than Luke did...
***** ***** *****
MaryAnne hurried out of the house and threw the last of three duffle bags that she had packed previously into Maverick's trunk. She was sure Brian or Rosco would probably come back to the house, so she didn't have time to grab everything she would need in Atlanta. The FBI had better be receptive to her shopping list.
The trunk lid slammed down and the CB attenna swung back and forth. She was still dressed in her uniform, which she would have to leave somewhere. She paused in thought for a moment and looked down at Maverick's personalized license plate that spelled Coltrane in six letters. The plate would have to go too.
A moment later the blue Firebird was tearing out of the yard and MaryAnne was trying to block everything that had taken place out of her mind. Rosco would haunt her for a long time....
It was sheer luck that kept Brian from running into MaryAnne as she made her exit from Hazzard. The Chevy had taken a detour back to Cooter's garage; Brian didn't feel right about just taking off with the car without paying for the repairs. After giving his meager earnings from old man Avery to Cooter, and promising to make good on the balance, Brian drove home.
He couldn't bring himself to park Diablo in the barn, even though there was plenty of room in it without Maverick. He parked the car in the gravel driveway, but found himself reluctant to go into the house alone. The barking of Flash and Bandit finally urged him inside.
He could feel something had changed the moment he walked in the door. It wasn't something obvious or anything immediately noticeable; rather, just the innate feeling that something was wrong. Bandit and Flash circled his legs, whining and looking lost.
"I'm afraid to look," he said to the dogs, stooping down to pet them. A realization hit him with the German Shepard's whine. Maybe this is what bothers me the most. How could she leave Bandit? He gave the distressed animal an impulsive hug, and waited for Rosco. For some reason, Brian couldn't get himself to go upstairs alone. He was afraid his suspicions would be correct.
Ten minutes after Brian had arrived home, Rosco pulled his patrol car in behind Diablo. He walked up the stairs of the porch, really not sure what he was expecting to find here. He certainly didn't figure on finding anything that would explain MaryAnne's behavior.
Flash and Bandit both were at the door to meet him when Rosco walked in. He looked down at the dogs and then over at Brian. Now he felt it...
Rosco closed the door behind him and without a word, headed towards the stairs.
Brian followed his cousin wordlessly. Rosco moved up the stairs quickly and went straight to MaryAnne's room. He opened the door, walked in, and stood there frozen. Brian peered in over his shoulder.
The room didn't look any different than usual. The desk was tidy and the book case had it's regular assortment of paperbacks and hardcover books. The closet door, however, was half open and Rosco could see the few empty hangers and although the bed was made, laying on the corner appeared to be a photograph. Rosco stepped towards it and reached out to pick it up.
Two law officers stood by their patrol cars that were pointed inward. One car white, one brown. The veteran Sheriff and the new deputy. Rosco knew the photo and he flipped it over to read what MaryAnne had written.
Me and Rosco, June 1977. I survived my first week as a deputy!
In newer ink though, the following words were added: If you want peace...work for justice...
Brian swallowed the lump in his throat, but he couldn't stop his eyes from blurring. All the times he had teased MaryAnne about being a cop rushed back to him, and the photo of the eager young Deputy looking brave and proud put grief in his heart. And the fresh, hastily-scrawled writing of hers seemed to be an epitaph. "No..." he whispered.
Rosco's heart was already broken. He looked away from the picture and dropped it back on the bed, turning away and stepping towards the closet. He pulled the sliding door open all the way and looked in. Various shirts and pants were gone and the small wooden box on the floor was empty. Rosco picked up the lid and then dropped it loudly, sighing heavily as he did so. "MaryAnne, why?" he said, his voice trembling. "Why?"
Brian noted the missing clothes the same time Rosco did. The wooden box, however, was something he hadn't known about. It seemed something private to Rosco; something that was better left alone. But Brian couldn't help it. "Uh...Rosco, what was in that box?"
Rosco was quiet for a very long time. He leaned against the closet door, staring down at the floor of the closet and the empty wooden box. "She swore..." he started softly. "She swore she would never use them..." He looked at Brian now. "This may not seem like such a big deal to you, but in that box MaryAnne kept a 9mm pistol and a silencer for her revolver. She swore to me, after her tenure in Atlanta, that she was never going to use them for anything. Especially the silencer."
Brian felt as if everything he'd ever known about MaryAnne had just been bundled up and tossed out the window. "A nine-millimeter...with a silencer? Rosco, there ain't many cops that have use for a silencer," Brian blurted out. "And the ones that do, ain't too far removed from..." he couldn't finish. The idea of MaryAnne even owning such weaponry was one thing. The fact that she'd left it in an inconspicuous little box in the closet was another. Here I was always tryin' to break into that gun safe for nothin'...
But the worst fact was that she'd taken the 9mm and the revolver silencer with her. MaryAnne's intentions had been anybody's guess, before. Now, it seemed her intentions, and her methods, were unthinkable. "Good Lord," Brian said as his thoughts settled. "Rosco...she can't be plannin' to use that..."
Rosco was already shaking his head. "Not if I can help it. I won't let her throw it all away like this..."
"What're you gonna do?"
Rosco closed the closet and started for the door. "Everything I can," he said as he stormed out of MaryAnne's room.
"Then you ain't doin' it alone." Brian hurried to follow his cousin.
***** ***** *****
MaryAnne drove Maverick down the dirt drive that led to the old barn on the Finchburg homestead. The windows on the house were all boarded up now, after the shoot-out with Turner’s Feds a few months ago. Burnt grass was still visible where unmarked Federal sedans were torched by Coltrane Molotov cocktails. But MaryAnne didn't look at any of that. She aimed the Firebird towards the barn and brought the car to a stop, getting out to open the door of the barn.
Leaving Maverick's engine running, MaryAnne grabbed one of her duffle bags from the back of the car and went into the barn, closing the door. She made a quick change from her uniform into the jeans, shirt and boots she had packed. The uniform was then stuffed into the duffle bag and placed inside on the seat of the aged 1966 Olds Tornado that was parked in the barn.
The black car hadn't been run in several years, the last time being when MaryAnne had taken it with her to Atlanta when she was a cop there. Previously, it had served as a moonshine runner. MaryAnne would have liked to have taken the Tornado back with her to Atlanta, but there was no time to get the car back up to snuff. So instead, the Tornado would have to take Maverick's plate, while Maverick got a new standard issue.
MaryAnne walked around to the passenger side of the Tornado and opened the door. She retrieved the last registration slip, dated 1982, from the glove box and was then on her way.
If it wasn't for the Firebird's personalized plate that spelled the name she was proud to bear, MaryAnne wouldn't have bothered with any of this. But there was no way she was going to tear around Atlanta, doing God knew what in a car that screamed COLTRANE. There was just no way.
Forty minutes later, MaryAnne returned to the barn with Maverick's new plates and a new registration for the Tornado which now would wear the CLTRNE plate. Too bad the car didn't run.
Glancing at the plate that now adorned the front of the Oldsmobile, MaryAnne quickly closed the barn doors. She returned to Maverick, who now wore a plain six digit alpha-numeric plate, and aimed the Firebird north…to Atlanta, and to whatever fate awaited her there.
***** ***** *****