Chapter Five

It was sunrise when the Dukes pulled up to the courthouse. "Luke, I dunno if this is such a good idea," Bo said as he got out of the General. "Rosco ain't gonna 'preciate us botherin' him at a time like this."

Luke had already started up the courthouse steps. "It ain't Rosco that we're here to see."

"It ain't? But you told Uncle Jesse - oh, now wait a minute Luke! You thinkin' of gettin' answers of that hitman?! Luke, are you crazy?"

"Somethin' ain't right," Luke said in a troubled voice, beating Bo to the door. "And I'm gonna find out what's goin' on."

The two cousins walked inside, pushing the booking room doors wide open.

"Hey Bo, hey Luke," the Deputy called to them, his sleep-deprived greeting lacking all cheer. The Dukes responded with a quick hello and a nod to Enos, while the occupant of the holding cell awoke to their voices. Brian got to his feet and stared balefully at the Dukes.

"Good mornin'," he said to them with sarcasm.

"Enos, we'd like to have a few words with your prisoner here," Luke said bluntly, keeping his eyes on the hitman.

"Forget it," Brian said from his cell. "I got nothin' to say to y'all, so just finish your gloatin', and git!"

Enos made an effort to keep the Dukes back, but they pushed past him and strode up to the holding cell. "Well I got plenty to say," Luke announced fearlessly. "And since you're gonna be up on murder charges, I figure you've got some fast talkin' of your own to do."

"Go to hell," Brian growled.

"No way we're gonna do that and keep your company," Bo shot back. "How could you do somethin' like kill somebody in cold blood? 'Especially somebody like MaryAnne!"

"Who happened to be a Deputy and if I ain't mistaken, a cousin of yours. Or so ya claimed!" Luke said angrily. "We saw MaryAnne let ya go the last time you were in Hazzard! If I'd a known she was gonna do that and that you were gonna come back to do what you've done I woulda let that arrow fly."

Brian grabbed the bars with both hands and prepared to fire back, but Enos piped up first. "Scuze me, Bo, Luke, but it wasn't Brian that killed MaryAnne. It was his partner," he said with apology in his voice. Enos wished again that he could tell the Dukes that MaryAnne was alive. But until Rosco told him otherwise, he would keep his vow. His sense of justice, however, required him to point out the limit of Brian's guilt.

"That's just a technicality, as far as I'm concerned," Luke replied. "I saw MaryAnne lyin' there in her own blood at the Boar's Nest, we all did! If this skunk had the guts to shoot MaryAnne right in front of Rosco, when there's folks standin' around outside, and..." Luke's voice abruptly trailed off. "It don't make sense," he thought aloud. Luke took a few steps back and forth in front of the cell, sorting his thoughts.

A minute passed before he confronted Brian again. "You're supposed to be a professional. Why would you shoot MaryAnne in front of Rosco, 'specially when he's armed and wearin' a badge?"

"Ask Rosco," Brian said flatly, refusing to admit or deny anything. Then he reminded himself that the Dukes had been friends of MaryAnne's. Good friends, by the way they were acting. Brian didn't owe much to the Dukes, but since he couldn't do anything for MaryAnne maybe he could still do something that would have pleased her. While he still had the chance.

"Listen here," he said after the long silence. "Did you two park that damn orange car right out in the front of the courthouse?"

The Dukes blinked at the question, taken off guard. "Yeah, so what?" Bo answered haughtily.

"So Deuce can find you that much easier," Brian said with a sneer. He decided he would help the Dukes; but he didn't have to like them. "You hicks have a Contract out on you. It didn't go away just 'cause I'm busted." Brian proceeded to give them a description of Deuce's appearance and mode of operation. He ended it with a warning. "Git outta Hazzard before it's too late." Bo and Luke simply gaped at Brian. "What, you plowboys got cotton in yer ears? GIT! Deuce could show up any minute, and he ain't fussy about how he gets the job done!"

The Dukes held their ground for a second, before Luke jerked a thumb towards the door. "Enos, we'll check in with ya later, we're gone!" The Dukes hustled out of the booking room, with the graceful ease of life spent on the run. Brian watched them go as one thought rang in his mind. They don't have a chance anymore than I do.

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

Out at the Duke farm, Jesse handed a cup of coffee to the haggered looking Sheriff. Rosco was still dressed in his civilian clothes, he had managed to catch about three hours of restless sleep and as soon as the sun rose over the horizon he drove straight to the Duke farm, only to find that Bo and Luke had left a little earlier.

"They went to talk to you," Jesse explained as he sat down at the kitchen table across from Rosco. Daisy was present as well, and sat beside her uncle.

"Well, I ain't there. If it's alright with you, Jesse, I'll wait here for them," Rosco said.

Jesse nodded. He looked at Rosco, the man looking worn and somewhat lost. Jesse had several questions he wanted to ask Rosco, but he refrained, knowing there would be a time and a place for that.

"Oh...I should probably call Enos and tell him where I am. Can I use your phone?"


Rosco stood up from the kitchen table and walked to the phone in the Duke living room. He picked it up and dialed the courthouse number from heart.

"Enos? This is Rosco. I'm out at the Duke farm....Yeah, I know, I'm gonna wait here for them. Listen, Enos, be careful okay? There's a possibility with the way Brian was talking yesterday that his buddy might try to break him outta jail. If he shows up, just get the heck outta there, don't try to stop him.....I know, Enos, I know, but that's why I called the FBI...." Enos then told the Sheriff the warning Brian had given the Duke boys. "He what?...Were you paying attention? Remember everything he said Enos, we're gonna need that info at some point. I'll be in town later." Rosco finished and hung up the phone. He turned back to the kitchen.

"That hitman's partner might break him out of jail?" Jesse asked.

Rosco returned to his chair and sat down. "Possibly. Brian told me that Deuce, his partner, would either try to get the boys first or go get him first." Rosco caught the looks on both Jesse and Daisy's faces. "I know, I know Brian's been telling me a bunch of things most other men in his position would not."

"Maybe because he's...kin?" Jesse wondered.

Rosco shrugged. "Maybe." The Sheriff picked up his coffee cup and took a drink, knowing that the majority of the questions he would face where all going to start with the same thing: Why?

Just as Rosco put his cup down, the familar sound of the General's exhaust filled the air as the car came into the yard.

Bo and Luke recognized Rosco's car in the farmyard, and they felt some relief in knowing Rosco was there. "Never thought I'd be glad to see Rosco camped out at the house," Bo joked as he hopped up the porch. Luke gave a small grin in response and followed Bo inside.

"Hey, Uncle Jesse, Daisy, Rosco...." Bo's words were echoed by Luke's greeting, and then the Dukes stood there expectantly. They knew the look on Rosco's face meant trouble.

"Mornin' fellas," Rosco said. He then gestured to the table. "Why don't you sit down...I know we have a lot to discuss."

The boys did so, their eyes curious and their bodies tense. "We're all ears," Luke prompted.

Rosco took a deep breath. "I just talked to Enos on the phone and he told me what Brian said to you boys about Deuce. As much as I want to nail the son of a...." Rosco paused, seeing Daisy out of the corner of his eye. He stumbled for a word and finally settled on, "gun, I'm afraid that a lot of folks lives would be put in danger, needlessly. The two things we're facing is that the contract on you two is still open, and there's the possibility that Deuce will break Brian out of jail. I already told Enos to just let Brian go and to stay out of the way. The only thing I can think of in regards to you two is that the Syndicate has to somehow think that y'all are dead. How we do that, I ain't figured yet..." Rosco looked at the boys, wondering if they were going to accept his wanting to help. Not that they're gonna have any choice...I'm gonna help 'em and that's it.

"Wait a minute," Luke said lowly and stood up. "You mean these two killed MaryAnne....and you're just gonna shuck n' jive 'em, and let 'em walk!? Rosco, no way....." Bo was nodding agreement to his cousin.

Rosco's blue eyes looked at the oldest Duke cousin fiercely. "If I don't let them walk, we have more damn strangers come in and they start wiping out the whole town! Besides..." Rosco paused and looked at each Duke individually and then back at Luke. Softly he said, "I've been shuckin' and jivin' them all along...." Rosco held his breath waiting for their reaction...which he didn't figure to be too good.

Luke sat back down, slowly, the question that he'd been holding back finally getting it's opportunity. "Rosco....what's really goin on?" The Dukes attentions were focused on the Sheriff, Luke having spoken for them all.

"I'll tell ya what's goin' on, I'm trying to protect this town from the Syndicate!" Rosco stood up abruptly and paced into the Duke's living room. He stood for a moment, collecting his thoughts. He took a deep breath and let it out quietly, turning back to the Dukes. "MaryAnne had a contract on her," he started softly. "They were gonna kill her! And for some reason gave the contract to Brian to carry out. I think it was because he didn't get you boys before and because MaryAnne stopped him. And because she's kin. I guess the Syndicate wasn't gonna allow a silly little thing like 'kin' get in the way of their dirty work." Rosco paused a moment, his eyes flashing briefly in anger. "Anyways, Brian showed up, shot at us in town and then what happened at the Boar's Nest. He didn't want to kill her but he wounded her so that the Syndicate would think he was doing his job. In the hospital, his partner, by suggestion from Brian, injected MaryAnne with the penicillin....." Rosco's chest hitched and he looked at the Dukes. "She ain't dead," he said in the same tone an apology would be. "I lied to keep her alive. I wasn't gonna give the Syndicate another chance to get to her!! You gotta understand...." Rosco pleaded and then stopped, his emotions taking over and he closed his eyes. The 20 plus year veteren Sheriff was crying.

Jesse Duke was the first one up and at Rosco's side. "You did what you had to do, Rosco...." The elder Duke's voice was gentle. "You caused us all some grief, lettin' us think MaryAnne had passed on, but I understand why ya did it." Jesse put his arm around Rosco's shoulders. "We'll keep it a secret till this whole thing is over...." As Jesse went on, the younger of the Duke clan absorbed the fact that MaryAnne was alive, and struggled to come to terms with the deception that Rosco and Enos had played on them.

Rosco pulled himself together and looked at the Duke patriach. "Jesse, I'm sorry," he said hoarsely. "I couldn't risk anyone finding out that she was still alive. I still can't....but all we need is for the Syndicate to think they got the boys too." The Sheriff looked from Jesse to the young Dukes and then back at Jesse again. "I figured you'd understand...but I ain't so sure they do."

"I would have done the same thing, Rosco..." Jesse said quietly. "And from the sounds of it, I will be." Jesse turned to the searching faces of his young family. "Now I know you kids have had a rough few days....but the important thing is that MaryAnne's okay. And we need to figure some way out of this mess." Jesse cleared his throat and turned back to Rosco. "Though I halfta agree with my nephews...just lettin' these hoodlums go ain't the right thing to do. If you called the FBI, then there should be a way we can keep MaryAnne and my boys protected... and get them varmits arrested without losin' half the town."

"Unless he don't want 'em arrested," Luke said suddenly. "Or maybe prosecuted. Why “let” Brian escape at all?" The boldness of his accusation surprised Bo and Daisy, and embarrassed Uncle Jesse. Though at a nod from Rosco, Jesse refrained from squelching Luke's question.

"I did call the FBI," Rosco informed them. "I called them yesterday after what happened at the Boar's Nest. I'm still waiting for somebody to show up." Rosco then looked at Luke. "And for the record, I do want them arrested, all of them, I just don't want the Syndicate sending axe men to Hazzard to get revenge for the loss of their 'associates.'"

Luke cooled down, and with a sigh he came over to put a hand on Rosco's shoulder. "I just need to make sure we all want the same thing here. I didn't take it too well when MaryAnne...'died.' " Luke's eyes held apology and renewed concern. "Is she doin' okay, Rosco?"

"I went to see her last night," Rosco said softly. "She's alright. I am sorry, Luke, I didn't want to lie to y'all, but I was scared. I'm still scared." Rosco paused, dropping his weary gaze to the floor. "She means a lot to me. When Brian shot her at the Boar's Nest, I thought I was gonna lose her right there..."

Bo and Daisy quietly joined everyone in the living room, to hear the report on MaryAnne's condition. The faces of the Dukes held relief for MaryAnne, and sympathy for Rosco. The Sheriff's fear was contagious, and an unspoken call to action rippled through the Duke family. Jesse Duke cleared his throat. "You don't need to apologize for protectin' your kin, Rosco. The important thing is that MaryAnne is recoverin', and that we got us a chance to round up these varmints." Murmurs of assent came from Bo, Luke, and Daisy.

"How?" Rosco wondered. "Jesse, I'm plum outta ideas."

Jesse glanced over at his oldest nephew, who's blue eyes were sharp with an early idea. "If the FBI's gonna be comin', then we've got the help we need to bust these jerks," Luke began. "All we gotta do is get 'em herded up. We've got the bait..." Luke's eyes met Bo's for a second, asking his cooperation with a silent glance, and getting it. "And we might have somethin' else the Syndicate wants. All we gotta do is stage a little performance, and not get ourselves killed."

"Piece of cake," Bo commented brightly, though his gut was starting to wrench into knots. "There's just one thing I don't like about this though..."

"Probably the same thing I don't like," Uncle Jesse added. "Luke, your ideas always tend to work out, but this one's more n' dangerous. It's right down crazy, if you're thinkin' what I think yer thinkin'..."

Daisy's eyes flew wide as she caught on. "Oh no...."

Luke held up a palm of acknowledgement. "I know it's risky. But I think we stand a better chance, workin' with what we got." The Dukes turned to Rosco for his opinion.

Rosco, of course, was completely lost. He looked like a little kid who had just missed a joke that everybody else in the class had got, and the embarrassment at not understanding was clear in his expression. "Umm...Luke, I know you're always the one to come up with the ideas, and like Jesse said they tend to always work...but I think you're gonna have to explain things to me ...uh...SLOWLY." Rosco found his own comment amusing and a tiny 'khee' came out, for the first time in days.

Bo beat his cousin to it. "Rosco, Luke's just sayin' that we outta let Brian kill us, right out in front of Deuce and any other Syndicate hoodlums who happen to be around." Luke nodded and grinned. "And while they're entertained with us dyin', the FBI closes in on 'em."

 "Oooh, jit jit, now I get it! Come to think of it...that was kinda what MaryAnne said." Rosco paused and then nodded. "Alright...what do we need to do, specifically, to get this started?"

Luke's expression regained it seriousness. "First thing we gotta do, is get cooperation from Brian. Assumin' we can do that...then we need some blanks and...." Luke's voice was low and rapid as he brainstormed on the fly.

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

At the intersection of Route Seven and County Line Road, Duece greeted the four hitmen who had driven out from Atlanta to assist him. He briefed them on the Don's orders, inviting no opinions. "So that's the deal. We nail the Sheriff, we finish the Dukes, and we find Brian."

One burly associate spoke up. "Is 'finding' Brian the only thing we're supposed to do with him?"

Deuce tolerated the question. "For starters," he said in a neutral voice. "I'm gonna check out the local jail tonight. If Brian's in there...then we can't take the risk on 'em squealin' to the law."

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

By the time Rosco left the Duke farm, he felt more invigorated than he had for days. In his mind he went over his checklist of things he had to do and items he had to get to help the Dukes. A stop at the courthouse was first on the list...and what he had to do there was the hardest barrier he, and all the Dukes, had to get through. It would determine how the rest of Luke's plan would go.

Rosco walked into the booking room and looked over at Enos. The deputy looked up and the Sheriff waved a finger at him. As Rosco started to his office, Enos got up and followed. "What's up, Sheriff?" Enos asked after he closed Rosco's office door.

Rosco told Enos about going to the Duke farm, the talk he had with them, the plan that Luke had and how Rosco was going to try to get Brian to cooperate. He then told Enos that the Dukes were aware that MaryAnne was okay. "But you still gotta keep it a secret okay? We ain't free and clear yet."

"Yes sir," Enos said, and smiled a little in relief, knowing the next time he saw the Dukes he wouldn't have to lie to them. " you really think Brian's gonna want to cooperate?"

"No. But we'll never know if we don't ask." Rosco sat down at his desk. "You can go ahead back out there. I'm gonna call the FBI again and tell 'em to hurry up their posteriors. I'll be out in a minute."

"Okay." Enos nodded turned back to the door. He stepped out of Rosco's office and quietly closed the door behind him.

After watching Rosco walk right by without so much as a glance in his direction, Brian got nervous. Something was up...and the expression on the deputy's face confirmed it. In the course of his confinement, Brian had said nothing to Enos, but that was about to change. "What's goin' on?" he asked bluntly, startling the deputy.

Enos took a moment to recover and looked at Brian. "Sheriff Rosco wants to talk to you. He'll be out in a minute."

Brian frowned and resumed pacing in his cell. 

Rosco, meanwhile, hung up the phone. The FBI assured him that agents were on their way to Hazzard at that very moment and would be reporting to him by 11 am. Rosco sighed and came out of his office. He walked over to the holding area and looked at Brian.  "The Dukes told me what you told them about Deuce," Rosco began, no preamble. "I can only conclude that you want to help them, for MaryAnne's sake if nothing else. If you're really interested in helping them, then I have a request to ask of you."

Brian looked interested almost immediately, but then he steeled his expression. "What's in it for me?"

"Maybe a chance to redeem yourself to the Syndicate." It was all Rosco could offer. It was all he would offer.

Brian's eyes were narrowed with suspicion. "And why would you want to give me that, Sheriff?"

"Because I can't give you anything else."

A tense minute passed unnoticed as Brian stared at the Rosco, as if to read the truth behind the words. "Why don't you tell me what you got in mind.”

Rosco explained Brian's angle in Luke's plan, how blanks would be used in Brian's gun, ect. The Sheriff then waited for Brian's response, finding himself holding his breath.

"So you wanna go through all this just to make me look good with the Syndicate...while makin' the Syndicate think the Dukes are dead?"


"And after that, I'm free to go?"

"I can't guarantee anything on that. Enos and I certainly aren't going to try to nab you, but once you leave Hazzard, it's in the hands of fate."

Rosco's offer was a better chance than the one he'd have in court, and Brian wanted to jump at it. But his Syndicate-honed instincts were making him cautious. "I got MaryAnne killed... and you're gonna stage this little show in order to let me walk?"

Rosco took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He nodded. "If I don't let you walk...more people could be killed. If MaryAnne were here now, she'd be tellin' me that it wouldn't be worth it to risk so many lives just to keep you locked up. However, that's not to say I forgive you for what you've done. It'll be a cold day in hell before that happens."

Brian broke eye contact at that. He held the bars and looked down at the floor, thinking everything over. "I'll do it..."he said without looking up. "But let me warn ya, Sheriff...everything that's happened up to this point...happened because I had a job to do and tried to find a way out of it." Brian suddenly lifted his dark eyes to the badge on Rosco's chest. "Don't make the same mistake."

"I don't intend to...and in my opinion, I don't believe you tried hard enough." Rosco turned abruptly and trotted down the steps and out of the booking room.

"Damn you, Rosco...." Brian watched the Sheriff leave.

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

Rosco marched out of the courthouse and started towards his car. He was so lost in thoughts that it took Boss three calls to get his attention. "ROSCO!"

The Sheriff stopped and turned to his brother-in-law. "Oh…hi Boss."

Boss looked at Rosco suspiciously. "What are you doing out of uniform? And where the devil you been?"

Rosco looked at his attire. "Oh..uh, my uniform's dirty. Listen, Boss, I ain't got time to chat." Rosco turned to walk to his car when Boss grabbed him by the arm.

"Rosco, wait a minute." His brown eyes were looking at Rosco in dire concern now. "Are you alright? What's going on?"

Rosco shook his head. "Boss, please, I don't have time to explain. I've got the FBI comin' and I gotta git---" Rosco stopped short of telling Boss he was going out to the Duke farm. "I gotta figure out how to nail Brian's partner."

"Rosco, I just can't believe you're still standing. I mean, after all that's happened...with MaryAnne..."

"I gotta keep goin'," Rosco said. "There's too much at stake if I stop to...grieve..." He hesitated a moment. "Look, Boss, I gotta go."

"Rosco, if there's anything I can do to help, let me know huh? You know I want to see these pole cats nailed as badly as you do."

Rosco nodded. "I'll let ya know if I need ya for anything."

Boss watched the Sheriff run to his car and drive out of the square. Something didn't sit right in the County Commissioner's gut about the way Rosco was acting and he was concerned that Rosco may not be up to handling any kind of police work, not with what had happened to MaryAnne. Luckily, the FBI was coming.

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

After a quick stop at the house to grab a few items, Rosco drove back to the Duke farm.  The Dukes came out of the house right away, as if they'd been waiting for his car to pull up. They held themselves back from asking the same question all at once, leaving it to be voiced by Uncle Jesse. "Is he gonna do it?"

Rosco nodded. "Yeah. Believe it or not, he's gonna do it."

An anxious look passed between Daisy and her uncle. Bo fidgeted with his words and finally put them aloud. "Uh...'scuze me Rosco, but does that Brian fella know everythin' that we're plannin'?"

"Everything but the FBI comin'. He asked that if he did this would he be free to go. I told him that me and Enos wouldn't be trying to nail him, but I couldn't guarantee what happened to him when he left Hazzard. I figure the minute he steps over that county line, the FBI can pick him up."

Luke thought about Rosco's strategy and nodded. "Once he's realized he's been double-crossed into settin' up his cohorts..." Luke left the thought unfinished, and the Dukes shifted uncomfortably.

"You're gonna be in a lot of danger, Rosco," Uncle Jesse said.

Rosco paused in thought. He looked at each of the Dukes solemnly. "I'm sure by now, I already am."

Rosco's words couldn't have been more true. At that moment, four cars began their circuit of Hazzard County, searching for one Rosco P. Coltrane. A fifth vehicle headed to Hazzard, with Deuce at the wheel. Not being one to use the front door, Deuce parked in the alley behind Rhuebottom's and slunk inside the courthouse through the back. He walked down the hall boldly, pushing the booking room doors open with both hands, startling an already-jumpy Enos.

Enos bolted to his feet and had his gun halfway out of the holster when he made eye contact with Deuce.

"Easy, Deputy. I just came to visit an old friend." Deuce spread his arms in feigned innocence.

Enos remained in the same position, getting a good look at the man. After a moment, Enos pictured the face with a white doctor's coat on and he realized it was Brian's partner, Deuce. Slowly, Enos put the gun back in the holster.  There was no telling what the hitman intended.  It could be a jailbreak, or worse. As much as he would have liked to arrest him, he knew Enos knew that Rosco’s plan depended on Brian’s cooperation.  He would have to let the two hitmen have their little meeting – and he would have to trust Brian to keep his end of the deal. 

“Sorry,” Enos said, and moved out of the way.

"It's alright." Deuce said in a voice like snake oil. He walked past the Deputy without concern, striding up to the holding cell like a panther. "So, Brian. Have a little trouble with the Dukes?"

"No, had a little trouble with the law." Brian and Deuce had no affection for each other, and it showed in their tones. Deuce chuckled humorlessly and lit a cigarette. "Looks like I'll have to finish your work again. Tell me where to find Bo and Luke Duke." Deuce's hand moved back inside his jacket, ostensibly to put away his lighter.

Enos kept a watchful eye on everything Deuce did. The deputy's body was tense as he waited for the partner's next move.

Enos wasn’t the only one who was tense. Brian could guess that the Syndicate was about out of patience with him. "Deuce, listen man. I got everythin' under control," he said quickly. "I'll be outta here by tomorrow mornin'. The Dukes will think I'm still locked up, and I'll nab 'em easy. I'll deliver 'em gift-wrapped."

Deuce took a long drag on the cigarette. "I could get you out right now. Why wait?" The senior hitman pulled his gun halfway out of his jacket, tilting his head towards the Deputy. Brian shook his head and whispered urgently. "You'd have to take the Deputy out to do it, and that would draw the Feds to Hazzard! So far there ain't none here, and we'll have a better chance gettin' the Dukes if they think everything's quiet. Another dead cop will throw this town into conniptions...and all these damn hicks have CB's. We wouldn't gain anythin'. Lemme do it my way, Deuce, just give me till tomorrow."

Deuce blew cigarette smoke into Brian's face, and made it look incidental. "You've already had your last chance. But since we're partners, I'll give you one more." Deuce made it sound like a personal favor, though he had his own strategy in mind. The senior hitman turned and left without another word.

Enos slowly let out the breath he was holding. He looked at Brian. "I almost thought he was gonna get you out of jail right now.  One way or the other.”

"He should have." Brian leaned tiredly against the bars and rubbed his healing shoulder. "He's probably got his own reasons for givin' me another day." It was the most conversation that Brian and Enos had ever shared. "Were you and MaryAnne good friends?" Brian asked unexpectedly.

Enos looked at Brian, somewhat surprised by the question. The look was sad though, as the deputy nodded. "Yeah. She was a good friend to a lot of folks..."

The sigh that came from Brian spoke volumes. "I wish she could have been a friend of mine," he said in a rare confession.

Enos found the statement odd, coming from somebody like Brian. A member of the Syndicate and a hitman, Brian wasn't supposed to be affected emotionally by his work. And even though Rosco and MaryAnne were kin to him, Brian didn't know them at all, unlike the lifetime that Rosco and MaryAnne had known each other for. "Maybe she could have been...if the circumstances had been different."

"Maybe." Brian fell into a sullen silence, though his dark eyes held unspoken words.

"There's something I don't really understand," Enos said, his tone apologetic, as if he didn't want to bother Brian anymore, but couldn't stop curiousity from getting the better of him. "Why did the Syndicate send you here to kill MaryAnne? Was it because she was kin, or because she stopped you from getting Bo and Luke last time?" Enos had more questions, but he hesitated.

Brian moved away from the bars and sat down heavily on the bench. "It's my fault," he said softly, leaning his back against the cold brick wall. In the absense of any other soul to talk to, Brian opened up to Deputy Strate. "I just thought I was more clever than anybody else....thought I could talk my way outta anything....When I went back to the Syndicate, without finishin' the Dukes, I was in trouble...big trouble...." Brian's eyes went distant. "I did some fast talkin'...told 'em that Vinnie blew the hit and got himself arrested. They found out who made the arrest...." Brian took another breath. "And they figured out that MaryAnne was kin to me. They gave me'....and then gave me a 'second chance' to prove myself. MaryAnne was my chance."

"Was proving yourself to the Syndicate worth that much to you? The Sheriff and I found the note you had in your pocket. You didn't want to kill MaryAnne, yet you still wanted to be in good graces with the Syndicate." Enos shook his head, his tone still apologetic. "You knew you couldn't have it both ways..."

"I didn't...but I know now." Brian turned himself away from the deputy.

Enos refrained from asking Brian anything more, even though the more burning question was why Brian grieved so badly, for a cousin he barely knew. The deputy wondered though, if MaryAnne had managed to break through Brian's Syndicate-tough-guy-barrier and lightly touch his heart in the short time they knew each other. And that was why he grieved...

Enos sat back down at the booking desk, filing the thoughts away for future reference.

Chapter Six