Chapter Three

As the Chevy tore into the back roads, Brian fought to keep his poker face. "Whattaya mean, loose ends?"

"Your last job was never finished," Duece said conversationally. "The Contract on those two Dukes is still open. You a good shot with your left hand?"

"Yeah, I am...." Brian couldn't keep the distraction out of his voice. He had gambled with MaryAnne's life, by telling Duece that she was leathally allergic to penicillin. He didn't think she was...since he wasn't. But if Duece found out MaryAnne was still kicking....the Syndicate would not be amused. No more than they had been over his failure with the Dukes. But what can I do? Brian knew he had to get away from Duece long enough to talk to Rosco....though the effort could get him behind bars without accomplishing anything. "Tell ya what, Duece. I'll get ya back to the hideout...and I'll go follow up on the Dukes."

"You do that," Duece answered cooly. "And this time....don't miss at close range." The threat and suspicion in Duece's voice was unmistakable.

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

Back at the hospital, Rosco and Enos were walking out through the lobby, after Rosco explained his idea to MaryAnne and asked the doctor for help. The doctor offered to move MaryAnne to another floor and wing of the hospital and she went in under a different name. As much as he wanted to, Rosco didn't stay to see MaryAnne resituated for fear that he and Enos would be watched now, so before leaving, the two cousins embraced, Rosco promising that they would see each other again.
When they got to their patrol cars, both officers stopped and looked at each other.

"Enos, you gotta promise me you won't tell anyone where MaryAnne really is. I mean, no matter how much Daisy cries or Lulu or WHOEVER, they can't know what's really going on until it's safe. I don't mean to be forward, but don't let your honesty put MaryAnne back in danger, okay?"

"I understand, Sheriff," Enos said. "I'm just gonna feel bad lyin' to everyone."

"Misery loves company. I'll be lyin' too, Enos....and she's my cousin."

Enos nodded. He then drew in a breath and let it out slowly. "Time to act sad huh?"

Rosco nodded. He then nodded to Enos's patrol car. "Go ahead, I'll follow you."

The two Hazzard County Patrol cars paraded back to the courthouse...driving slower than usual.

When they arrived in town, Rosco and Enos saw the General Lee and Daisy's Jeep parked infront of the courthouse. The boys and Daisy were standing on the sidewalk, waiting and they immediately came to attention when the two patrol cars came up to the curb. Rosco and Enos approached, their looks of weary true...their look of grief convincing enough.

"Rosco?" Luke asked, looking at the Sheriff, trying to read an answer to the unspoken question.

Rosco shook his head slowly. "They got her..." he said softly. "One of 'em snuck in and injected a lethal dose of penicillin into her...she was allergic to it..."

Daisy gasped and grabbed Bo's arm. The three Dukes looked at Rosco in shock and horror. "Rosco, we're sorry..." Luke said.

"The Doc said she didn't feel nothing...nothing at all..." Rosco turned away and walked up the steps to the courthouse followed by Enos.

"Oh my God..." Daisy said softly. "MaryAnne..."

Luke put his arm around Daisy and the three Duke cousins stood quietly in grief, staring at the pavement or the traffic in the square. Luke then broke the hynotic stance and said, "We better get back to the farm...and tell Jesse... You okay to drive, Daisy?"

Daisy nodded. "I'll be alright."

"Alright, me and Bo will follow you."

They dispersed to their vehicles and Daisy sat for a moment before turning the key. Poor Rosco....

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

After spending a couple hours at the hideout with Duece, Brian drove to Hazzard alone. He wore his bloodstained black jacket, that he had grabbed from his hospital room during his hasty departure. The weight of the gun in his pocket was a reminder of what he'd done to MaryAnne. At least she should be safe in the hospital. At least Duece thought she was dead.

Brian had a choice in front of him....nail the Dukes as he was supposed to, and go back to Atlanta and the Syndicate....or take another risk and talk to Rosco. He decided on the latter, for now. And he had to know how MaryAnne was doing. Brian pulled the Chevy into the alley behind the courthouse, and snuck inside.

He crept to the booking room, flattening himself against the wall, a sense of deja' vu nagging at him. He pushed one booking room door open a crack. No one in view, but voices coming from the Sheriff's office. Brian snuck over to it, assuming he had surprise on his side.

"Rosco, I'm sorry...." Boss Hogg was saying. "I'm terribly there anything I can do?"

"Let me know when you're gonna tell Lulu. I'll go with you."

Boss nodded. He then adjusted his grip on his cigar and stood up. "She was a fine officer, Rosco. I mean that...I'm very sorry this happened..."

Rosco nodded.

"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!!" Enos yelled in the booking room.

Brian froze, cursing under his breath. He raised his hands up halfway, the right arm to the best of it's ability. "Don't be a fool," he growled at the Deputy behind him. "I need to talk to Rosco."

Boss and Rosco came rushing out of the office to find Enos standing with his gun pointed at Brian, who showed no sign of pulling any kind of trick.

" this--?" Boss started.

"Boss," Rosco said plainly. "You better get outta here."

"What for?"

"Just GIT! Now!"

Boss nodded and scooted towards the booking room doors. He took one last look back and then slipped out the doors.

"Enos...put the gun down."

"But Sheriff--"

"Put it down, Enos." He looked at Brian. "The man has something to say, let him say it."

Brian let out a breath as the Deputy's gun was holstered, and he lowered his arms. Pain was throbbing steadily in his right shoulder, and looking into Rosco's cold eyes seemed to make it worse. This was the 'incomptent Sheriff ' he'd heard about?

No...Brian thought to himself, realizing with a chill why Rosco was capable of using the Colt on his hip. This is another kin. And just as surely as I was able to fire on MaryAnne...Rosco was able to fire in return. And he'd do it again. "Sheriff....Duece was in MaryAnne's room, right after he was in mine," Brian said with an unsteady voice, the question unspoken, but obvious.

"Yeah," Rosco said, piercing his blue eyes into Brian's dark ones. "He finished your job for you..."

The room seemed to be tilting under Brian's feet. His mouth had went dry so suddenly, that it took him minute to form the next words. "She...was allergic to penicillin?"

Rosco's expression remained unchanged. "Lethally. The allergy was discovered when she was an officer in nearly killed her then."

"My God...." Brian felt sick. He turned away, unable to look into Rosco's accussing eyes. "MaryAnne....." he wanted to go to her, apologize, tell her everything...but he'd never have the chance. Brian staggered over to the wall and leaned against it so he wouldn't fall over.

Rosco watched the hit man, who seemed geniunely upset by the news. Even shocked, which surprised the Sheriff.

"You knew he was going in there," Rosco accused, still keeping up his grief stricken act. "You KNEW what he was gonna do!" So why the heck are you so shocked??

Brian covered his face with his left hand, shaking his head. "I knew....what Duece was gonna do," he said in a broken voice. "I thought I was givin' MaryAnne a chance..." A sudden, choking sob shook Brian's shoulders, and he turned to face the wall, buring his face.

Rosco suddenly realized that it was Brian that had told Duece to use penicillin. But he didn't let on. "What do you mean, give her a chance?"

"The Syndicate...doesn't trust me...since I blew the last job I had in Hazzard...they sent...." Brian took a breath, trying not to completely break down. "They sent Duece to make sure...the job got case I failed them." The despair in Brian's voice echoed the hopelessness that drained his soul. "I didn' want to hurt MaryAnne...but I had to make it look good....I thought I could fool them....I'm not allergic to penicillin, I thought -" The rest of his words were replaced with grief, and he could say no more.

"You thought she wasn't either, being "kin" and all," Rosco said plainly. He paused, looking at Brian in a peircing stare. " sure made it look good didn't you?"

With a cry of anguish, Brian spun from the wall and walked towards the booking room doors.

Rosco wasn't going to let Brian off that easy. The man's tears meant almost nothing to Rosco, Brian's grief over what had "happened" was not going to stop Rosco from protecting his kin. He stepped behind Brian and grabbed his jacket, spun him around and gripped the lapels. Enos stood rigid as the Sheriff prepared his words carefully.

"You walk out that better be heading straight back to Atlanta, and no one, not you or anyone else in the Syndicate better even THINK of setting foot in Hazzard again. Otherwise, if I find out you and your buddy are still in'll either be going back to Atlanta to the Federal Prison....or a pine box." Rosco had to make a point, although the final threat was meant more for Deuce, seeing as he had intended on killing MaryAnne. Brian was trying to protect her....and Hazzard. Rosco started to realize it now, yet his blue eyes continued to look at Brian coldly. He could betray nothing.

I'm going to protect my kin...even this retched one.

"I wish it was that easy," Brian snarled back. "Believe me, Sheriff, I want to leave this goddamn town. But there's a problem." Brian paused, his chest heaving in anger and grief. The weight of his handgun, tucked away inside his jacket, was a temptation...if only to make Rosco let go of him. But the gun stayed put. "The problem is that there's an open Contract on the Dukes."

Rosco forcefully let go of Brian. "You're a buncha fools....the whole damn lot of ya! You're idiots! You go ahead and try to get the Dukes. I'm gonna go reserve your number for ya at the Federal Pen."

"You do that," Brian hissed. "If I had killed them to begin with, like I was supposta the last time...MARYANNE WOULDN'T BE DEAD!" The rage had built up to a boiling point, and Brian's voice rose as he shoved Rosco back. "YOUR BADGE WON'T STOP THE SYNDICATE! IT DIDN'T LAST TIME! IT DIDN'T SAVE THE DUKES, AND IT SURE AS HELL DIDN'T SAVE MARYANNE!!"

Rosco stood steadfast, undeterred by Brian's fury. Silence hung in the booking room for a moment. He gave a look to Enos, keeping the deputy at bay after Enos had seen as his commanding officer be pushed by the hitman, and then looked Brian calmly.

"Good bye, Brian," Rosco said calmly, his blue eyes taking on a new look, still cold but with a new gleam...unafraid...holder of a secret. "Have a nice life...."

Brian's gun hand twitched. Rosco's scorn was almost too much to bear, after the loss of the one person Brian felt he could really talk to...the one person that had halfway understood him. The one person that he would have done anything to protect, and failed. His dark eyes were hard as onyx, and he kept them locked on Rosco as he slowly backed away.

"Goodbye....Sheriff. Enjoy your pension.''

Rosco watched Brian leave and remained quiet for a moment after the doors stopped swinging. He then looked at Enos.

"Come on, Enos. We're going to the Duke farm...."

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

The Duke family were working quietly about their farm, each of them lost in thoughts of the news they had received a couple of hours ago. The young Coltrane was gone and each of them was now starting to feel some kind of void in knowing that MaryAnne was no longer around.

Jesse stopped what he was doing for a moment and looked at his two nephews and neice. He couldn't help but think of Rosco...and how MaryAnne had been something for the Sheriff to live for, a piece of family to look out for, to protect. Jesse knew that if he ever lost the boys and Daisy he wouldn't know what to do with himself. There was nothing else in the world that matter to him more than his 'kids.' He could only imagine how badly Rosco was hurting now. Very badly.

Daisy glanced at her uncle just as he resumed his work. She pulled a damp shirt from the laundry basket and hung it on the line. It was one of her shirts, a red and white flannel one that she had let MaryAnne borrow once. She chuckled a little at the memory, and remembering how MaryAnne wouldn't wear anything LESS than a full blouse or shirt.

"I ain't wearin' one of them things!" she has said, reffering to the halter tops Daisy often wore at the Boar's Nest.

Daisy put the second clothes pin on the right shoulder of the shirt and then wiped away the tear.

Bo put a silent hand on Daisy's shoulder. He knew words wouldn't help right now, so he held them back. Daisy looked up at him with a sad smile of gratitude for his sympathy. Then her eyes looked across the yard, at their older cousin, who was chopping firewood with a vengenance. Bo nodded at Daisy and walked towards Luke. There seemed to be no consolation for their older cousin. Bo sighed and gathered the split logs into cords of wood, staying near enough to Luke to be supportive, far enough away to allow him to grieve.

It was a couple of moments later when the sound of approaching automobiles made the Dukes all stop what they were doing and look up. Two white Plymouth Furys slowly came around the Duke farmhouse and to a stop in the yard.

Almost as one, the Dukes stopped their chores and walked to the patrol cars, words of sympathy at the ready.

Rosco stepped out of his patrol car and looked at each of the Dukes. Oh boy...they're gonna hate me when I tell them that MaryAnne's actually okay...look at their faces! But he wasn't here to tell them that just yet.

"Umm....listen y'all..I got something to tell ya...and it ain't good."

"What is it, Rosco?" Jesse Duke asked gently.

"Y'all remember that fella from the Syndicate...tried to get Bo and Luke here awhile back?" Rosco swallowed. "He's gonna try again..."

Luke stepped forward, his face etched in stone. "How'd ya know that, Rosco?"

"He...." Rosco stopped, suddenly feeling sick. He just kinda came waltzin' and told me...oh geez....

"He told us," Enos said. Rosco looked at the deputy...praying he wasn't gonna spill the whole thing.... "After he...told Sheriff Rosco how he told his partner to use penicillin to...kill MaryAnne."

Rosco nearly collapsed right there, more or less out of relief. Thank you, Enos.... Rosco figured everything was gonna come out in the wash eventually, but for now, he and Enos were going to do what ever they had to do to keep folks safe.

The confusion on the Duke's face was only second to thier shock and anger. "He WHAT?!" Luke said loudly, as Bo put a restraining hand on his shoudler. Daisy piped up suddenly, her voice quiet, but intense. "Wait a minute Rosco....MaryAnne wasn't allergic to penicillin...was she?"

Rosco was shaking a little now....from Luke's sudden outburst and from knowing he was now about eye deep in horse manure. He nodded though. "It was discovered when she was in Atlanta..." he said softly. Somebody in Atlanta heard about it...passed it on...the Syndicate heard about it...BAM! He wasn't exactly lying now...just not confirming she was lethally allergic to it.

Jesse Duke knew Rosco pretty well, and he caught the Sheriff's nervousness.   Still, Rosco had been through a sense in riling him at a time like this.  "I'm sorry about MaryAnne.  We all are.  And I appreciate you comin' out here to warn my family, when you ain't over the loss in yours."

"I don't want them to do it to you, Jesse," Rosco said.  "I don't want them to do to you what...they've done to me...."

Jesse put a hand on Rosco's arm, and the younger members of the Duke clan murmured their sympathy.  At a nod from their Uncle, the three cousins drifted off, giving him and Rosco a chance to talk. Enos wandered over to join his three friends, agonizing in his inability to tell them the truth. 

Rosco looked at the Duke patriarch, starting to feel the weight of everything now. He glanced over at Enos and the Dukes and then at Jesse and waited for him to speak.

"Rosco, you know that if you need anythin' at all, you can come to us Dukes," Jesse said gently.

Rosco stood for a moment, wringing his hat in his hands.  "I appreciate that, Jesse," he said. "All I need is...for you Dukes to stay alive..."

Jesse gave the Sheriff a kindly grin.  "Rosco, you n' J.D. never managed to tree those boys...and I don't think nobody else can do it either.  Though we're obliged for the warnin'," he added more seriously.

"Jesse, I'd give anything if this whole situation could be traded for one of...Boss's frame ups.  I'd rather be chasing the boys, chokin' on the General's dust than...not having MaryAnne here..." he finished softly. 

Rosco's statement held a double meaning. To Jesse, it was as if the Sheriff was mourning the loss of his cousin. But Rosco was wishing he could have her there with him for help and guidance.

“I know, Rosco...we all loved MaryAnne.  We all did."  Jesse's voice roughened with emotion, and he looked to the ground.  He rested a hand on Rosco's shoulder and stood in silent grief, picturing MaryAnne's bright smile and her ready 'khee' laugh, so much like the Sheriff's, though lighter and merrier.  Finally he raised his moist eyes to the Sheriff's, and spoke in low tones.  "You git this varmint," he ordered Rosco.  "You git 'em and bring him to justice for what he done.  And if he shows up on Duke land after my boys..." the rest went unspoken.

Rosco's eyes weren't dry anymore either. "I'll get him, Jesse...if it's the last thing I ever do..."

Jesse nodded and patted Rosco's shoulder.  As their conversation continued, another took place in the yard.  Luke had cornered Enos on a question the Deputy didn't know how to answer.  "You got information from this guy, but he's not behind bars?  Why?!"

The Deputy had a hard time making eye contact now. "He...duped us." Enos stammered out.  His hat was being held so tight in his hands that his fingers were turning white.

Luke was getting a feeling that he was being lied to. But what shocked him was that he was being lied to by Enos.  Some things in the universe just weren't possible...and this was one of them.  He took a step closer, as Bo and Daisy looked from the deputy to Luke in concern.  "There's some kinda cover-up goin' on, ain't there," Luke accused.

"Luke...please...there's a lot of lives at stake...and there ain't no way in the world anyone would ever believe what was going on...."

For once, it was Bo who restrained Luke, instead of the other way around.  "Take it easy, cousin," he said just as Luke was about to wring the truth out of the deputy.  Daisy clung to Enos's arm protectively, knowing that whatever was so important as to make Enos hide the truth, was important enough to earn their cooperation.  Luke took a slow, deep breath and counted to ten.  "Awright," he said finally.  "But I'm gonna be lookin' for answers real soon."

Enos looked at Luke, feeling more guilt about lying than he had ever felt in his life.  But he knew he had to keep his promise to the Sheriff, for MaryAnne's sake and everyone's in Hazzard.  Enos loosened his grip on his hat and nodded at Luke. "Luke, I'm sorry," he said. "Hopefully, Sheriff Rosco and I can provide some answers later..."

"You do that... and meantime, we're not just gonna sit here and wait for an ambush.  C'mon, Bo."  Luke titled his head towards the General Lee and walked off, with Bo following.  "Be careful," Daisy called after them.  She then looked at Enos, silently forgiving him with her warm eyes, before squeezing his arm in farewell and walking towards her uncle.

Enos watched the boys climb into the General and then he looked over at Rosco who was looking too.  Enos started to walk towards Rosco as the orange Dodge came to life and started to roll out of the yard. "They say they ain't gonna wait around for an ambush," Enos said.

Rosco was still watching the car as it drove down the road, away from the farm. He then looked at Enos. "I ain't gonna stand here and do nothing either," he said. "Come on, Enos."

The General Lee had no sooner pulled onto the dirt road, when a black Chevy swung into view a half-mile behind it, tearing out of seclusion and ripping up shrubbery.

About a quarter of a mile behind the Chevy were Enos and Rosco.  Rosco rubbed his hand over his face, realizing that having lied to Jesse Duke had been the hardest thing he had ever done.  Seeing the Dukes reactions to MaryAnne being 'dead' and their shock at how she 'died' bothered him the most.  He was almost certain they wouldn't forgive him when they found out MaryAnne was actually okay, but he hoped they would understand why he lied. He felt fairly sure that they would have done the same thing, in his situation.

But they don't have a…cousin...who's a hitman…I bet they'll never understand that either....

"Sheriff?" Enos's voice came over the radio, making Rosco jump a bit.  He picked up his mike.

"Go ahead, Enos."

"Sheriff, have you thought about what you're gonna do...when this is all over?"

Rosco paused. "Yeah, Enos I have. I'm gonna retire, go to Florida, go deep in the Everglades and I'm never coming out."

"You are?"

"Enos...I'm kidding. Listen, I'll worry about what to do when this is all over with, once and for all."

"Yes, sir." 

Rosco hesitated a moment, "Listen, Enos---" He stopped when he glanced up the road and saw two cars. The black Chevy and the General Lee. "DOH! Enos, he's up ahead, right behind the General!"

"Sheriff, Route 17 meets up with this road again about two miles ahead! I'm gonna try to cut them off!"

"Do it!" Rosco glanced in his rearview mirror as the twin white Plymouth disappeared from behind him and down Route 17. Rosco put the mike down and stepped on the accelerator.

Brian closed the gap on the General Lee gradually, until he was in striking range. Then he punched the accelerator hard, hurling the black Chevy towards the General's trunk at high velocity. The sudden roar caused Luke to turn and look over his shoulder. "HIT IT BO! NOW!!" Bo floored it, seeing the chrome and long black hood filling the mirrors. "LUKE, HE'S GOT NITROUS OXIDE IN THERE, HE'S GONNA -"

Bo's words were cut off as the Chevy's grill caught the edge of the General's tail, and with a thunderous bang of metal, the General Lee was sent spinning off the road. The black Chevy flew by, then braked hard and turned around. Bo's hand was already holding the CB. "ENOS! ROSCO! BO DUKE CALLIN' WE GOT TROUBLE!" Luke reached back and grabbed a compound bow, but the Chevy had already slid to a stop in front of them. "Drop it," Brian ordered coldly as he got out of his car, gun at the ready. 

Both Rosco and Enos heard Bo's call and Rosco slammed the accelerator. The patrol car swung around the corner and Rosco aimed the Plymouth for the black Chevy that was a short distance down the road. Rosco was no good of a shot with his left instead he grabbed a tear gas canister and tucked it between his gun holster and hip. He kept both hands on the steering wheel and never took his eyes of the cursed black car.

The Dukes had a minute to live, between the two of them.  Luke dropped the bow, but his eyes were hard with defiance. "You won't get away with what you did to MaryAnne," he vowed. As if to prove Luke's point, Rosco's patrol car came howling down on them, forcing Brian to make a split-second choice. Fire on the Dukes...which meant also firing on Rosco, since the Sheriff would be a witness...or not fire, knowing that the Dukes would nail him with an arrow when he tried to escape…which meant arrest by Rosco. 

Damn," Brian swore softly, not liking any of the options. 

The patrol car came barreling along and Rosco grabbed the tear gas canister with his left hand, shifting the Plymouth the to the side of the road, to avoid a head on collision with the Chevy when he got to the scene. Rosco saw that the Dukes and Brian appeared to be in a stand off, and Rosco knew the boys had no way of knowing he would throw the canister. He wanted the boys to get the advantage...but he didn't want them to get distracted. So, knowing the risk involved, he had to wait for Brian to make a move first.  Rosco slowed the patrol car slightly and plotted his course.

Bo and Luke exchanged a quick glance between them. If this hitman wiped out one cop, it won't bother him to kill another, Luke thought to himself. He caught Brian's brief, nervous look towards the patrol car. Luke then noticed the dried bloodstains on the hitman's leather jacket. It gave him an idea, and he broke the tense silence with a suggestion. "Give yourself up. MaryAnne was Rosco's cousin, and they were close-knit.  You shoot us now, and the Sheriff's gonna have all the excuse he needs to settle up the score with you, permanent-like." Bo caught on and nodded. "You'd at least have a chance, with a trial.”

Brian suddenly looked at them as if he'd seen the Dukes for the first time, which maybe he truly had. They almost made doing the right thing sound attractive.  "Sounds like somethin' MaryAnne woulda said," he answered.

"She was our friend," Luke said evenly, and despite Brian's gun on them, the Dukes looked ready to settle accounts themselves.

"I know,” Brian muttered. It’s the only reason you two lasted this long, he added silently to himself. 

As the Dukes tried to talk their way out of it, Rosco had spotted Enos’s patrol car coming at them from the opposite direction.  Rosco picked up the CB. “Enos, stay back a bit and keep an eye out okay?"

"Are you sure, Sheriff?"

"Just do it, Enos...just keep yer eyes sharp."

"Yes sir..."

Rosco swung the car around the Chevy and it came to a swerving stop, the driver side coming around completely and facing the Dukes and Brian. He jumped out of the car, the tear gas canister in one hand, and his pearl handled .38 in the other, pointed down. The Sheriff said nothing.  His eyes, steel-blue and ice-cold, spoke loudly enough.

Brian acknowledged Rosco's presence with a sideways flick of his dark eyes, but kept his gun leveled at the Dukes a moment longer. Finally he gestured towards Rosco with it. "Get over by the Sheriff," Brian ordered the Dukes.

Bo and Luke walked over to stand by Rosco, both Dukes suspecting that the hitman intended to take them all down at once.

Rosco kept his eyes trained on Brian. Still, he did not speak.

Brian's gun barrel was leveled at the Sheriff and the Dukes, and he kept it there as he took slow steps backwards towards his car. 

"You really think you're gonna get all THREE of us, and get away?" Rosco challenged.

"No," Brian answered coldly. "I think I'm just going to get away." He eased his way to the Chevy, never taking his eyes off the Sheriff.

"What's the matter? Can't finish it, Brian?"

"Not that I can't.....just that I ain't. Not here. Not now."

"What's wrong with right here, right now?" Rosco asked. "Come on, Brian, don't give me this pile of horse manure. The only witness you got here is Enos. You had a dozen or so at the Boar's Nest when ya shot MaryAnne, Enos and I saw your buddy there go into MaryAnne's room...what do you want more witnesses?"

"What do you want, Sheriff?!" Brian suddenly countered, waiving his gun. "Want me to pick off the Dukes right in front of ya, so you can nail me and not have to worry about 'justification of lethal force' ?"

"Who said anything about lethal force? All I want is for you to be out of Hazzard FOR GOOD, ain't you figured that out yet?" Rosco's anger was building now. "There ain't nothin' for you here. You'll never get to know MaryAnne, you'll never get to know me. So why don't you just FINISH it now!!"

Bo and Luke watched nervously. They couldn't figure out why Rosco was baiting the hitman...and why the situation, tense enough as it was, had an added, personal element beyond anything they’d expected.

Rosco was using that element effectively.  His words tore Brian open, more than the bullet wound had.

The young hitman wanted to argue, defend his actions, explain himself…but then he looked into the burning blue eyes of the Sheriff and saw exactly that...a Sheriff. Not someone that he could turn to or confide in. Not someone that could help him...after all, he was a criminal. MaryAnne had at least tried to understand him...and now she was gone. And it was his fault, just as surely as if he'd aimed for her heart when the shots flew at the Boar's Nest.

At the thought, Brian lowered his gun, then dropped it altogether. 

Rosco watched the gun drop and looked at Brian. The Sheriff tossed the tear gas canister back into his patrol car and holstered his gun. He stepped towards Brian, pulling his handcuffs off of his gun belt.

Brian saw Rosco coming for him.  It made him think of something he’d told MaryAnne once, something he’d forgotten about until now.  You’re a good Deputy...a damn good one...and if I ever let anybody arrest me, it'd be you.

Brian turned slowly and put his hands on the hood of the Chevy, giving the honor to Rosco.

Without a word, Rosco patted down Brian's jacket pockets and emptied out the various contents onto the hood. He then carefully took Brian's arms and brought them behind the hitman, turning the wounded one gently. The touch of cold metal found it's way on the hitman’s wrists.

Brian had no words to say as Rosco did his job. There were none that would matter, anyway. None that would bring MaryAnne back.   Brian would eventually tell Rosco what needed to be said......but right now the silence seemed appropriate.

Rosco looked at the Duke boys, their faces white in shock and disbelief. "One of you wanna tell Enos to get down here?"

Bo snapped out of his stare and nodded. He turned and reached into Rosco's car, grabbed the CB mike and called the Deputy.

"Ten-four, Bo," Enos said. "I'm on my way."

The boys then got out of the way as Rosco authoritively directed Brian to the back door of the patrol car. He opened the door and Brian got into the back seat. Rosco closed the door and looked down at the ground as Enos's patrol car came up to them. He then looked at the Duke boys.

"I'm sorry, fellas," Rosco said. "I'm very sorry that all of this happened..."

Questions burned in the Duke's bright blue eyes, but they restrained themselves with effort. "We're sorry about MaryAnne," Luke answered emotionally, wondering if MaryAnne's death could have been prevented. Bo nodded agreement to his cousin's words, and pulled Luke towards the General. "Call us if you need anythin'," Bo said as they walked away. The two of them took a final, meanacing look at the hitman, who returned their glare without apology.

Enos got out of his patrol car and came to stand beside his commanding officer. "Keep an eye on him, Enos," Rosco said adn turned towards the Dukes. "Fellas, wait a sec..." He jerked his thumb towards Brian sitting in the patrol car. "His partner's still around somewhere. You still gotta be careful...ok?"

"We'll be careful," Bo said quickly, cutting off Luke's yet-unvoiced questions. "We'll be careful alirght, " Luke added for himself. "About everythin'." He turned and walked away fast, leaving Bo to follow.

Rosco sighed and let the boys go. He wondered if he'd be able to answer all their questions later...

If I'm still standing...

Rosco turned back to Enos as the boys climbed into the General and the big engine came to life. The orange car drove off down the road both law men watching it.

"I'll follow you, Sheriff," Enos said.

Rosco nodded. "Alright."

Enos looked at Rosco for a moment and saw the Sheriff looked clearly drained from the whole thing. His eyes held a mixture of anger, sadness, fear and even grief, despite knowing that MaryAnne was okay and alive. Rosco looked at his deputy. "I'm alright, Enos. Go ahead."

"Yes, sir." Enos walked to his patrol car and Rosco got into his. Not a word was spoken from the Sheriff as he put the car in gear and began to drive back to town.  

The entire trip was made in silence. Rosco was actually a bit perturbed at Brian for not taking the bait, despite knowing the risk the Sheriff had been placing the Dukes in. Rosco had figured that with the tear gas, he could have duped Brian into thinking he'd killed the Dukes… and then 'let' him escape, return to his partner, Deuce, and then return to Atlanta, where everyone would think Deputy Coltrane and the Dukes had finally been taken care of.

The Syndicate would welcome Brian back with open arms, and with smiles of satisfaction in knowing he was still 'one of them', that he still had the capabilities to do their dirty work and that he hadn't let a silly thing like finding blood kin mess up his mind. Life would go on.

At least, for a little while. Until Brian somehow goofed on the next hit. And he wouldn't have a cousin deputy or sheriff, to help him out of that one.  I wish you could be 'one of us', Brian, but I can't reverse a lifetime's habits and the Syndicate doesn't let theirs go so easily.

Without any words or an audience to watch, Rosco and Enos escorted Brian into the courthouse and booking room. The hitman was locked up in the holding cell and Rosco told Enos he was going to have Cooter drive him out to bring in Brian's car.  Enos nodded, despite the fact that Rosco was already out the door.
Cooter agreed to give the Sheriff a ride, although he didn't know really what car Rosco was going to fetch, or why. The mechanic had only learned of MaryAnne’s "death" a few hours before, from the Dukes and couldn't believe Rosco was still functioning.

Everybody reacts different... Cooter thought. He expressed his condolences to Rosco but could find no more to say. During the drive out to where Brian's Chevy was, Cooter glanced at Rosco every once in awhile in concern, seeing the Sheriff staring blankly out the passenger window. Cooter wasn't used to Rosco being this quiet and he wondered if the Sheriff was ever going to be quite the same again.

When they arrived, Rosco mumbled a "thanks, Cooter," and climbed out of the truck. The Chevy was still where it had been last, Brian's gun on the ground, all the stuff Rosco had emptied from Brian's pockets still on the hood of the car. Oblivious to Cooter watching, Rosco gathered the items, picked up the gun and literally threw everything into the backseat of the car.

Cooter put his truck in gear and backed up, figuring Rosco was quite angry and that it would be best to let the Sheriff alone to deal with his grief. The tow truck rattled as it turned and drove away and Rosco gave it nothing more than an uninterested glance. He then violently slammed his hand on to the roof of the car and stood in silence, burying his face in his hands.

Chapter Four