Chapter Five

The next morning, Brian went with MaryAnne and Rosco to the courthouse. As his two uniformed cousins went about their duties in the booking room, Brian tried to stay out of the way. He busied himself by looking at the wanted posters, recognizing some of his old friends in the mug shots. Immersed in his memories, he jumped when the phone on the booking desk rang. MaryAnne snatched up the receiver by the second ring.  "Hazzard County Sheriff's Office, Deputy MaryAnne Coltrane speakin'."

 "Good Morning, Deputy. This is Special Agent Frank Mayson. I stopped off in Capitol City on my way in. I'll be in Hazzard shortly."

"Howdy, Frank," MaryAnne greeted. "Alright, we'll be expectin' you soon then."

Mayson took a breath. "I also have my partner with me, Agent Kelley. And a State Police escort.  The D.A said you may have some...objections."

"I did have some objections," MaryAnne laughed awkwardly. "But as long as it's just you and Agent Kelley and the State Police escort... tho’ if anybody else shows up, I will be right back to being objectionable."

"Understood. We'll keep this low-profile, for everyone's sake." Mayson gave MaryAnne last-minute instructions and then hung up. As MaryAnne slowly hung up the phone, Brian looked at her.

MaryAnne looked at the phone and then up at her cousin. "Agent Mayson," she said. "He's on his way from Capitol City."

"Mayson..." Brian chewed over the name. "Oh, that one. He's okay, as far as Feds go. Who's all comin' with him?"

"His partner, Agent Kelley...and the State Police escort."

"I hate cops," Brian muttered out of habit, then caught himself. "Present company excluded, of course."

MaryAnne laughed and looked at Rosco, who smirked. "Well, thank ya Brian, we appreciate that." He looked to MaryAnne, who was still smiling but it was fading fast. He knew she didn't like having to send Brian back to Atlanta, and Rosco didn't like it either. In a way, Rosco sensed that MaryAnne felt guilty about it – thinking that Brian would assume they’d given up on him, that they didn't want him to stay in Hazzard. But they did want him to stay.  They really and truly did and Rosco couldn't help but feel the same sentiment towards the D.A that Brian had towards cops. Here they had a chance to patch a family together… and now the D.A. was going to tear it apart?  Rosco took a deep breath, lost in his thoughts.

Brian wandered over to stand near his cousins, pacing nervously as they waited for the agents and the troopers. Though none of them said much, there was a comfortable security in one another's presence. Too soon for any of them, a grey sedan pulled up to the curb, along with a state patrol cruiser behind it. A moment later, the agents and troopers were filing into the booking room. Brian shrank back to stand behind his cousins. He'd go no sooner than he had to.

"Sheriff Coltrane, Deputy Coltrane, good to see you again," Mayson said with a handshake.

"Hello, Agent Mayson," Rosco said professionally. He shook the agent's hand, as did MaryAnne. Both Sheriff and deputy were looking at the troopers, seeing if they passed inspection.

The two troopers stepped forward and eyed the local officers coolly. They were relatively young officers, physically fit with postures of readiness. Mayson introduced them briefly to Rosco and MaryAnne, then continued on with business. "Before I take a statement from the agent in custody, I'd like to see the evidence you collected."

"Well, I'm glad somebody's interested..." MaryAnne muttered as she turned and walked up the steps to the booking area. "I'll be right back." She disappeared into the back room and came out a moment later with a small cardboard box and a manila file folder. She placed the items on the booking desk and looked at Agent Mayson.

Mayson took a pair of disposable evidence gloves from his sport coat pocket and snapped them on.  He carefully opened the plastic bag and removed the knife, careful to avoid the dried blood caked on the blade. The agents expression was initially bemused as he looked at the knife itself, as if he had seen it somewhere before. He held up the black-handled knife to his partner. Brian recognized it before the agents did. His sharp intake of breath preceded Agent Mayson's slow turn to his direction. "I believe," Mayson said cautiously, "That this is yours, son."

MaryAnne's expression dropped. She stared at the knife and looked at Rosco who had the identical expression.   "What?" the Sheriff said softly.

Brian was too speechless to voice a defense. It had been dark outside when Nellis had murdered the fellow agent, and no one had taken notice of the knife's characteristics at the time. Agent Mayson came forward, still holding the bloodied weapon. He looked at Rosco. "When I arrested this young man a few weeks ago, I removed this knife, along with his gun, from his possession."

"Yeah? And…?”

"Frank," MaryAnne said. "When Rosco and I picked Brian up from the Federal pen he had nothing on him. Now he's been here in Hazzard, and that knife has been locked up in FBI possession since the day you arrested him.  If you're insinuating something, I'm gonna become pretty objectionable pretty quick.”

"That's exactly my concern." Mayson looked directly at Brian, then back at MaryAnne and Rosco.  "There's no way this weapon should have made it out of the FBI evidence archives." The experienced agent was nervous, and it showed. "Kelley, go downstairs and take the statement from Nellis. I have a feeling I know what he's gonna say already, but we'd better get a certain Coltrane out of Hazzard fast." Mayson put the knife back in the bag, his motions showing sudden haste.

MaryAnne didn’t like where it was all heading.  "Everything that happened that night, is in that report," she said defensively.  "Now you can believe it or disregard it, but the statements in there were sworn and signed before Circuit Judge Carter. The D.A wasn't very interested in what happened, but there's something going on here! Me and my cousins are on somebody's hit list...and to be honest I think that somebody has a badge!"

"As we say in Bureau...this case remains under investigation." Mayson came closer to the Hazzard officers, and spoke quietly so that only they could hear. "Take every conceivable precaution regarding your own safety. I'll send backup when I can."

"Mr. Mayson, how are we gonna know that the next crop of agents that show up are here to protect us?" Rosco asked. "The three who came before said they were here on your orders. MaryAnne here tried to stall to get confirmation, but you were outta your office."

"My orders? I didn't give..." Mayson turned to look at his partner, who shook his head. The senior agent faced Rosco again. "Sheriff, I think you understand how grave this situation has become. I'll call you from Atlanta." Mayson began to bark orders at the State Police. "Get him out of here," he said with a gesture at Brian.

"Wait a sec, we'd like to say something to Brian before he goes, if you don't mind," MaryAnne said.

"Make it fast. Kelley, let's get the evidence in the car and have it running. When we bring Nellis up, I want to move out immediately." The two agents soon collected their man and left, but the State police remained, standing at attention. Brian glanced at them and then back at his cousins. Fear was evident in his dark eyes, but he smiled bravely. "Looks like another quick exit outta town," he joked.

Rosco and MaryAnne managed partial smiles. "Look, Brian, you take care of yourself ya hear?" Rosco said.   "Yeah," MaryAnne agreed. "We wanna get ya back here as soon as we can."

“Thanks,” Brian answered.  “Y’all take care.”  He offered a handshake to Rosco.  When Rosco accepted it, Brian pulled the unsuspecting Sheriff into a quick embrace.  “Watch your back and your badge,” he told his elder cousin with a grin.  Then he turned to MaryAnne and gave her a quick hug as well.  “See ya around, Deputy.”  Before any of it could turn into a long goodbye, Brian removed himself and walked up to the state troopers.  “Let’s go, boys.”  Flanked by his escort, he walked out of the booking room. 

From the window, Rosco and MaryAnne watched Brian get into the back of the state patrol car. When the squad pulled away, Rosco let the blind fall and both officers turned towards the booking room, which suddenly seemed too quiet.  "You okay?" Rosco asked MaryAnne.

"A lot better now that that icky federal agent is outta our jail," she replied.  Rosco nodded. The tension did seem somewhat relieved. But he and MaryAnne still had to be careful. They didn't know where that third agent was, or what he was capable of doing. And the possibilities only served to keep both officers right on edge.

The departure of the State Police and the FBI did not go unnoticed. Across the street, Bo, Luke, and Cooter watched from the Hazzard Garage. "Looks like it's fixin' to be quiet in town," Bo remarked to his cousin.

"We can hope," Luke answered. "But we'd better keep our eyes open just in case." Though he hadn't spoke it aloud, Luke had a nagging fear in his gut. That cousin of Rosco's and MaryAnne's was scared. And if he's scared, then the rest of us have plenty to worry about.

The rest of the day passed without incident. In an attempt to return things to relative normalcy, Rosco used his patrol time to seek out a certain vehicle.  General Lee.

It had seemed like years since he last chased the Charger. He missed seeing the taillights and quite frankly, the task of finding the boys and giving chase took his mind off of everything else. And all he wanted was one moment to not have to think of everything that had happened.

Bo and Luke were cruising along to the Boar's Nest when they spotted the patrol car coming on the road parallel to them. They blew through the intersection and the Plymouth swung out behind them.  Luke looked out the back window. "What in the world is he doing?" he wondered. Bo shrugged. "I ain't goin' over the speed limit. Shoot, I'm going plumb slow compared to most days!"

"You're gonna be going a lot slower in a minute. Step on it, before he ends up in the trunk."

Rosco was rooting for them to go. "Come on," he said. "Go on. GIT! Step on it, Bo, I know you got more lead in your foot than Boss has fat on his body."  The General sped off. Rosco hit the accelerator.

"What's he chasin' us for??" Bo asked.

"How would I know! You didn't make a pass at MaryAnne or something did you?" Luke grinned. 

"No." Bo smiled. "Although..."

"Bo, just drive please!"

Bo laughed as the General and patrol car took off with dust clouds behind them.

In the woods, a disinterested soul watched the chase go by him. He smirked. Enjoy it while you can, Sheriff...

"Well, it won't be too hard to keep an eye on him will it?" Bo said.

"Maybe. We don't need him following us around. We're supposed to be keeping an eye on him and MaryAnne.”

"Why don't we just bring him with us to the Boar's Nest," Bo said and swung the General down another road. The patrol car followed suit.

The man in the woods turned and walked to his car. He got in and picked up his radio mike.  "Wilson to headquarters."

"Stand by."

Wilson waited and then another voice came on the air.  "Have they spotted you?"

"Not at all. And they won't. When do you want me to move?"

"When you're ready. But don't stall for too long. Take care of it and get out."

"Ten-four, Commander. Consider it done. Out." Wilson put his radio mike down and started the stolen car and drove out of the woods.

At the Boar's Nest, Bo swung the General into the dirt parking lot and spun it around to face the patrol car.

"DOHHO!!" Rosco exclaimed, slamming the brakes. The two cars were nose to nose and dust swirled around them.

Bo and Luke chuckled as they climbed out of the General. "Nice to see you haven't lost your touch, Rosco," Bo said.

Rosco stepped out of the patrol car. "Khee, ain't done that for a long time. I've missed 'hot pursuit!'"

The boys laughed. "So that's why you were chasin' us?" Luke said. "Just for the heck of it?"

"Uh..well...jit jit." Rosco looked down at the ground. "Yeah."

The boys chuckled and Bo sat on the edge of the patrol car's hood. "Well that's alright with us, Rosco.  We've missed having you back there."

Rosco grinned. "Khee!"

Luke looked at the Sheriff. "Umm...ain't you gonna give me and Bo a ticket?"

"Huh? Oh! Jit jit...uh.." Rosco straightened himself. "I'll just let ya off with a warnin' this time." He didn't really want to give them a ticket anyway, after all they had all been through.

"I dunno Bo, if he keeps up with this kind of generosity, we might have to buy him a beer."

"MaryAnne'd kick my tail if she saw me in there drinkin' on duty. Not to mention Boss too. He'd have the fits."

Luke smiled. He looked towards the road where a car was traveling. The car slowed and Luke saw the driver was looking at all three of them. When the driver realized he was being watched as well, the car picked up speed and disappeared down the road.

Rosco saw it too, and although it was from a distance, he was sure it was the third federal agent. He looked at the boys, who exchanged glances.  "Um...listen fellas, maybe y'all better just head on back to your farm..." he said softly.

"I think it'd be better to go inside the Boar's Nest where there's lots of people and we can keep an eye on both you and MaryAnne," Luke said.  He took the Sheriff by the arm and steered him towards the door.

"Luke, wait a minute..."

"Rosco, we know what's been going on. You and MaryAnne are in serious danger," Bo said. 

"That's right,” Luke added. "Brian talked to us before he left.  He asked us to keep an eye on the two of you and that's just what we intend to do."

Rosco had no choice in the matter. Both Dukes escorted him into the Boar's Nest. They got as far as a table but Rosco didn't sit down. He turned to the boys.  "What do you mean, Brian talked to you?"

"Exactly that," Luke said. "He told us what happened last night, how somebody don't want him to testify and that they're willing and capable of doing anything to prevent him from doing so."

"Yeah, including taking out you and MaryAnne," Bo said.

"Yeah? And I'll tell you what's gonna happen if you boys try to get involved. You're gonna git yourselves killed that's what!"

"Rosco, all of us have been through hell and back in the past few weeks. You and MaryAnne saved me and Bo, the least you could do is let us return the favor!" Luke said.

"Luke--" Rosco started to protest but stopped when out of the corner of his eye he saw MaryAnne approach.

"Brian talked to you fellas?" she asked, holding her pencil and pad in her hands.

Bo nodded. "Yeah, he did." He chuckled. "I know it sounds weird, but yes the conversation was civil."

"He just asked us to keep an eye out for y'all that's all," Luke said. "And that car that went by just now gave me enough of the creeps to believe him."

"What car?" MaryAnne asked.

Rosco looked at her. "I think it was that third agent."

"Look, maybe we can figure a way to nail this guy before he tries anything," Luke suggested.

"Sure," MaryAnne said. "And then more of them come, in the middle of the night and try to get me and Rosco. And possibly you two as well. Look, me and Rosco appreciate it and all but..."

"MaryAnne," Luke said and stepped up to her. "You and Rosco have been through more than your fair share in the past few weeks. You can't face this alone. Me and Bo want to help you. And Cooter too. And Jesse and Daisy...we're all concerned for ya." He put a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Don't argue with us on this. We're gonna help ya."

"Whether you want us to or not. So there!" Bo said and crossed his arms over his chest. The gesture got a smile out of Rosco and he looked at MaryAnne, who was nodding at Luke.  "Alright, Luke," she said.

Luke smiled. "Now then...may we order a coupla beers?"

"What? Rosco ain't drinkin' on my shift!" she giggled.

"How 'bout buttermilk then?"

"Ugh...that stuff can kill ya. I'll get ya a root beer, Rosco."

"Khee, that's what I was gonna order anyway."

*****                          *****                          *****                          *****

Back at the Sheriff's department, Cooter and Enos were busy with a game of checkers. "Ding dang it," Enos complained at Cooter removed two red game pieces off the board. Cooter grinned. "Jesse Duke taught me," he chuckled.   Enos just shook his head and pondered the next move.

The police scanner suddenly bleeped and crackled with an announcement. The scanner occasionally picked up chatter from other frequencies, and Enos paid it no mind. The female voice that came through the scanner was broken by static. Enos moved a red checker forward.

"Lieutenant Ferren with an A.P.B. All units, be advised of a stolen State Police vehicle, car number 211. Last seen heading southwest on highway 67." Clicks and crackles followed the broadcast. Cooter moved a black checker next to Enos's red one.

"Suspects armed and dangerous. Repeat, armed and dangerous." Acknowledgements began to stream in through the scanner. "Chickasaw County responding, Sheriff Little reporting. State Patrol car seen crossing through Chickasaw approximately four hours ago." Enos frowned at the checkerboard. "Ding dang it, it sure is hard to concentrate with that scanner goin'..."

Cooter slowly looked up from the checkerboard, as he listened to the continued broadcast. "Lt. Ferren to Sheriff Little. What route did the stolen vehicle follow, over?"

"Outbound from Hazzard County, proceeding along Route Seven. No suspicious activity noted at the time. Had your A.P.B come sooner, Lieutenant, they'd never have left Chickasaw." At the words Hazzard County, Enos lifted his eyes from the game board to see Cooter looking back at him.

 "I think we got trouble," Cooter said to Enos. "Big trouble."

Enos scrambled up and ran over to the scanner, snatching up the CB mike. Cooter stood up and followed, hoping he was wrong about the feeling in his gut.

"Lt. Ferren, this is Deputy Enos Strate of the Hazzard County Sheriff's Department. Do you know about when this patrol car was discovered stolen?"

"This car was taken from the State Patrol garage facilities in Atlanta. Was reported missing approximately an hour ago, though there's no telling when it was taken."

Enos sighed. "Sheriff Little, you didn't happen to notice how many people where in the car did you?"

"Negative," came the brusque reply.  Enos glanced at Cooter. The mechanic's expression matched Enos's feelings.  "Ten-four, Sheriff. Thank you, Lt. Ferren. Over and out." Enos put the mike down, shaking his head in worry.  "I don't like it Cooter. What if that's the car that was supposed to pick up Brian?"

"Maybe you can call the State Police headquarters. Find what officers were assigned to pick him up and whether or not they ever made it back to Atlanta with him."

"Good idea." Enos turned and walked to the booking desk, reaching for the phone.  He dialed the State Police headquarters and got connected to the captain.

"Captain Richardson here," said a busy-sounding man.

 "This is Deputy Enos Strate of Hazzard County. Sir, I'm looking to confirm that a government witness that was picked up here by y'all made it back to Atlanta."

"That Syndicate witness? I was going to send a car out this afternoon, but due to an internal problem, there's been a delay. I apologize, Deputy. I thought the Bureau had notified you."

Enos's jaw dropped and he stared ahead in a stupor for several moments.  He finally managed to finish the conversation and hang up the phone.  He looked at Cooter helplessly. "Ding dang it, Cooter, Sheriff Rosco and MaryAnne are gonna be fit to be tied when they find this out."

"Either way, Enos, we gotta let them know."  The deputy nodded and walked back to the CB set. "This is Deputy Enos Strate callin' Sheriff Rosco, you got yer ears on Sheriff?"

*****                          *****                          *****                          *****

At the Boar's Nest, MaryAnne was wiping out another freshly-washed beer mug when Enos's call came over the CB. She put the mug down and reached for the CB mike underneath the bar. "This is MaryAnne, Enos, hold on a second." She looked at Rosco who was still sitting with the boys. "Rosco, I've got Enos on the horn here."

The Sheriff looked up and then got up and stepped to the bar, taking the CB mike. "Go ahead, Enos."

"Sheriff, what's your twenty?"

"I'm at the Boar's Nest."

"Ten-four, Sheriff, I'm on my way out there."

"What?" Rosco looked at MaryAnne, wondering if he heard right. "Enos?"  What on earth would he need to come out here for?  "Enos! You dipstick, you will answer me?"

MaryAnne shook her head. "Forget it Rosco, he's probably on his way here."

"Yeah, but what for?"

The younger Coltrane shrugged. "We'll find out when he gets here."

*****                          *****                          *****                          *****

Back at State Police headquarters, Captain Richardson was calling his top officer. "Lt. Ferren, I want you to proceed to Hazzard immediately. We've got a situation. Repeat, we've got a situation. Priority one, secured channels only from this point. Do you copy?"

"Ten-four, Captain. On my way, Ferren out."

Meanwhile, Enos and Cooter were rushing into the Boar's Nest where the boys, Rosco and MaryAnne had been waiting. Enos started explaining things so fast, Luke had to grab ahold of the deputy and nearly shake him to slow him down. Cooter filled in tidbits here and there, and in the end, Enos’s earlier prediction about Rosco and MaryAnne being fit to be tied turned out to be accurate.

"Aw man I don't BELIEVE THIS!!" MaryAnne exclaimed. "They looked legit! I mean, good God, Mayson was right there!" She turned away from the boys in helpless fury.

 "Somebody gave the Feds false information," Luke said.

"No," MaryAnne said, turning to face Luke. "Somebody gave the Feds GOOD information and Agent Mayson didn't know what was going on. The only person who knew that the State Police were coming to get Brian was the D.A. himself.  Now who he told at the FBI, we don't know, but if it wasn't Agent Mayson first, damn near anybody coulda found out."

 "Like Turner," Rosco said.

"Exactly. He's the head of the whole damn office right? He'd know everything that's going on."

"Dang it, MaryAnne, how can we put a stop to all of this?!?" Rosco asked.

 MaryAnne looked at Rosco with a softened expression. "We can't...Rosco, there ain't a dang thing we can do."

"It's gonna be up to the State Police to find Brian," Bo said.

"That's assuming they find him," MaryAnne replied. Her expression then clouded over and her gaze dropped to the floor. "Alive..."

*****                          *****                          *****                          *****

Not caring to make small talk with his trooper escorts, Brian had dozed off in the back of the state patrol car. The crackle of the CB woke him up, and he stretched and yawned as the radio babbled. "Eagle One to Osprey, come in."

It didn’t sound like something meant for a cop, but to Brian's surprise, one of the state troopers picked up the mike and answered. "Osprey to Eagle One, we copy."

"You have the pigeon?"

"Pigeon is in the bag."  

That made Brian sit straight up in alarm.  As one of the state troopers turned and looked pointedly at him, any doubt in the ex-hitman's mind evaporated. He was in the wrong hands. He fumbled desperately with the car doors, which were locked securely.  He was completely trapped and he knew it, and ice-cold panic seeped into his gut.

 The radio crackled with a command. "Take care of it.  Now.”

"We copy, Eagle One." The trooper driving the car hung up the CB mike, as his partner drew a pistol. Brian's mind raced frantically for a way out, a way to bargain with his enemies, a way to stall, but he knew it was over. The troopers in the front seat were separated from him by heavy wire mesh that he couldn't break through. It was, however, just open enough for the barrel of a gun to slip through.

Brian suddenly scooted over to the driver's side of the backseat, forcing the trooper to adjust his aim. In the split second the pause afforded him, Brian did a trick that Rosco had used on him once.  He kicked the back of the driver's seat just as hard as he could. The unexpected jolt startled the trooper who was driving, as well as the trooper holding the gun. The gun went off, and a bullet smashed through the back window as the patrol car swerved wildly.  The driver over-compensated and hit the brakes too hard, tires shrieking protest as the squad left the road.  The car tilted sharply for a long second, then flipped and rolled, falling on it's roof and turning again as glass shattered and metal screamed.  Then as quickly as it had begun, everything stopped.

Brian opened his eyes and saw the world upside down. The squad had came to rest on it’s roof, and Brian was surprised to find himself laying on the ceiling of the interior. The two troopers made groans of pain and stirred, both of them starting to swear profusely. Brian untangled himself from the wreckage and moved slowly as bits of glass fell out of his hair. He was in shock, but his instincts were telling him to get out, get out! He crawled through the broken rear window, and swayed unsteadily as the horizon dipped and swam in his vision. He staggered away into a cornfield, leaving the patrol car behind.

It took several minutes for one of the troopers to find the CB mike, and several more to make the damaged antenna operational.  " One...we have a problem..."

Chapter Six