New extras for the movie were instructed to check in with the coordinator at the battle field location on Potter Road. With the help of a map, Bill found it. The place was packed with people, equipment, tents, vehicles, horses. It looked like the circus had come to town and in a manner of speaking, one had.
On the other side of the road, another field was being used for parking. Bill found a spot to leave his Grand Prix and walked across the road to the battlefield. After asking one Confederate dressed man, he was pointed in the right direction of where to sign up.
Under a clump of trees set back from the battlefield, he found a table with a sign on it that said EXTRAS REGISTER HERE where a small line of men were waiting. He got in line.
The line moved fairly swiftly. The coordinator rattled off instructions to each man and designated every other one either Union or Confederate and pointed them in a particular direction to get set up with a uniform. After the young man in front of him was sent off to be a Union soldier, Bill stepped up to the table.
The coordinator didn’t look up right away. Why would he, since he’d done nothing but process a bunch of new extras all morning and they were pretty much all the same. “Name?”
Bill cleared his throat. “Uh, fifty-one…”
The coordinator looked up now. He stared for a long moment making Bill start to feel uncomfortable. He figured he was about to be dismissed for being too old.
“Remove your sunglasses.”
Bill removed his aviators. He looked at the coordinator apprehensively. “Uh…is there something wrong?”
“Yes. The thought of you in a buck private uniform in the Confederate Army, that’s what’s wrong. Mr. Alexander, can you ride a horse by chance?”
The coordinator beamed. “Fantastic. Aaron! Go get Brent, I want him to see this guy…”
Another man who had been assisting, took off toward the battlefield.
Bill wasn’t sure he needed the extra attention and recognition. “Ah, heh…I just came to be an extra in your movie, I wasn’t looking to audition for particular part.”
“Oh you’ll be in the movie, but if I’m right Mr. Dexter is going to want to put you in an officer’s uniform.”
“Oh. Well, I suppose an extra braid won’t hurt.”
A few minutes later Aaron returned with Brent Dexter, the film’s director. Dexter looked at Bill and immediately approached, walking around Bill and looking him over from head to toe.
Dexter was nodding. He had Bill walk away from him, toward a tree and then turn and walk back.
“Fabulous,” Dexter declared. “Definitely an officer. Colonel John S. Mosby to exact. We may be able to salvage that piece of the picture after all. Jimmy, see to it he’s fitted for a Colonel’s uniform and insignia, get him a beard and I want him riding that black horse we saw but haven’t used, Apache.”
The coordinator nodded. “Will do.”
The director smiled at Bill and offered a handshake. “Glad you joined us, Mr. Alexander. At the very least, you’re going to help save my favorite part of the picture.”
Bill returned the handshake and gave a little bit of an uneasy smile. Really, he didn’t need the extra attention. He nodded, however, and tried to be enthusiastic. “Glad I showed up.”
The director gave a nod. “Jimmy here will take care of ya, get you set up for tomorrow.”
Jimmy, the coordinator, returned to his table and grabbed some forms. “Ok, Mr. Alexander, we’re gonna get you a uniform and a horse. Are you familiar with this area of Georgia at all?”
“Only enough that I was able to find my way here from Atlanta.”
Jimmy grinned and nodded. “Well, we have pretty good directions. You’re gonna pick up a battlefield uniform and be measured for a formal one over in Denton. The wardrobe director is set up over there working out of a tractor trailer. Ask for Linda, she’ll take care of ya. The battlefield uni will be ‘off the rack’ but she can have her people do alterations if needed so it fits proper. The formal uniform will be a bit more tailored for ya, that’ll be used in some filming scheduled for next week so there’s some time to get that. But you’ll need the battlefield uniform first thing tomorrow. She’ll get it taken care of but you may have to pick it up tonight.” He handed the form to Bill.
“And this form is for the horse. There’s a horse farm just a few miles from here where Apache is. Directions are here…” Jimmy circled a section on the back of the form. There was more than one farm listed. “Get over there today and check out the animal and give this to Mr. Blodgett, he’s the owner of the farm, and he’ll make sure to have Apache ready for pick up tomorrow morning for filming.”
Bill nodded, accepting the form. “Ok. What time should I be here tomorrow?”
“Six a.m. sharp. There’s a tent down the way here with a sign that says “horses.” Check in there. Joey will get you set up with Apache. You said you drove up from Atlanta? Are you staying somewhere locally?”
“Yeah, there’s a motel up the highway I found a room at.”
“Good. Although, you won’t be there much except to sleep.”
“That’s what I was thinking. With the way you got this all running like a military operation and being fitted for uniforms and getting papers and being assigned equipment and what not…I’m having flashbacks.” Bill grinned.
Jimmy smiled. “I helped run a supply depot in Saigon during Vietnam. What was your bag?”
“Infantry. Korea. 72nd Armored.”
Jimmy nodded. “Well, consider yourself back in the field, soldier. I mean…” He smiled and offered a salute. “Colonel.”
Leaving the battlefield location, Bill went to check out the horse first. He showed his paper to the farm owner who had Bill wait in the exercise yard and brought Apache out to him.
The black quarter horse followed Mr. Blodgett with purposeful steps and came to a stop in the exercise yard. Seeming to know he was being introduced, Apache stood with head raised.
Bill looked at the horse and was impressed. He surmised the animal had to be show quality, given its straight leg stance, healthy looking size, shiny coat and alert expression. Bill approached easily to Apache’s shoulder, touching a hand to the stallion’s neck and petting it.
“Mr. Blodgett, Apache is gorgeous.”
“Thank ya. I’m glad the movie people are gonna use ‘em. He loves to put on a show, one of my best show horses.”
“Has he done movies before?”
“Couple of years ago, there was a western being filmed up in Tennessee. I trailered him up there every day for about three weeks. He loved it.”
Bill smiled. “So he’s old hat at this. Doesn’t mind commotion and noise and all the ruckus?”
“Nope, he does fine. I think he thrives on it.”
Bill chuckled and looked at the horse. “Well, Apache, you and I are gonna be in a movie together and I’ll be first to say that you’re gonna look better on film than I am.”
Mr. Blodgett laughed. “If you want, I can saddle him up and you can take him around the yard here.”
“Would love to.”
Bill rode the horse for about a half an hour around the yard, familiarizing himself with the animal’s responses to commands and the reins. Apache responded well and seemed eager to please.
Mr. Blodgett was pleased to see a rider like Bill handling the horse well. Sometimes riders of a new horse tended to be forceful and expecting too much of the animal. Bill didn’t force anything, letting Apache show him what he could do. Mr. Blodgett could tell in those thirty minutes that horse and rider were going to be a good match.
When Bill brought the animal back toward the barn at the end of the session, Mr. Blodgett nodded approvingly.
“Very nice,” he said. “Mr. Alexander, where did you learn to ride?”
“Oh I learned a long time ago, from my grandfather,” Bill said. He leaned forward in the saddle, petting Apache’s neck. “You have a fine animal here, sir.” He dismounted and led Apache back to the barn.
In the barn, Bill helped unsaddle Apache and get the animal settled back in his stall. Mr. Blodgett handed Bill a treat to give to Apache. The horse took it from Bill’s open palm and munched it contently. He then turned his head toward Bill, looking for more.
Mr. Blodgett chuckled. “You got a friend for life there.”
“Best kind to have,” Bill said. He rubbed Apache on the forelock, the top part of the face. “I’ll see you in the morning, Apache. Get your beauty rest.”
After leaving the horse farm, Bill headed to Denton to get his battlefield uniform and be measured for the formal. For a former ghost town, Denton was hopping with activity and there was filming going on as he arrived.
After being fitted for the battlefield uniform and measured for the formal, he wandered around the set, watching things. He spotted MaryAnne in a cotton dress of the Civil War era, standing on the boardwalk outside of the emporium, speaking with another woman that looked like Daisy Duke. They were amongst a few others in the background of a scene for two lead actors in Confederate uniforms standing by a buckboard exchanging important dialogue.
When the scene concluded and the director yelled “cut!” Bill remained where he was. He would have liked to have said hello to the ladies but if MaryAnne hadn’t had a chance to spread the word yet about his being undercover, he didn’t want to risk blowing his cover already. So he remained anonymous and hung back from everything.
He also realized, MaryAnne really was right about getting a score card from folks like her and the Dukes who had been involved with the production for a while and knew more or less who was who. There were hundreds of folks involved just with this scene alone and Bill didn’t know a line producer from an electrician.
For now, however, until he had a chance to talk to the Dukes and MaryAnne again, he had to just keep his ears open and listen.
*** **** ****
When Bill’s first day of filming wrapped on Friday, he rode Apache back to the staging area for the horses. The horse had done well during filming and after Bill dismounted he patted Apache on his shoulder and neck, speaking positively to him for a job well done.
There were volunteers who helped take care of the animals and do the rub downs and brushings after filming, but Bill opted to take care of the animal himself. While Apache munched on some available hay, Bill tended to the horse’s flanks, brushing the coat.
On the other side of Apache, he could hear two men talking while they tended to another animal. He recognized one of the voices belonging to Joey, the lead coordinator for the horses and related equipment.
“So what happened couple weeks ago?” the first man asked. “Was there a problem with the shipment?”
“No,” Joey said, “but there was some kind of hot mess at the party. One of Fehr’s girlfriends got a little too bold or something.”
“She get slapped?”
“I guess so. Dale’s mad about something with it though, I dunno what. You know him, he’s gotta have total control of everything.”
“Don’t knock it, his way has worked so far.”
“Yeah, I know. If he could get Fehr to keep his thoughts in his pants though, Dale’s job would be a lot easier.”
The first man snorted. “Look who’s talking.”
Joey laughed. “Yeah, but I’m not the one with the cash in this deal. I just work here.”
“You just work here…”
“I do! I’m nobody important. When I find a girl to lay, she don’t need to ask no questions.”
“You don’t give her a chance to.”
Joey laughed again. “True. Even if I were the man with the funds I wouldn’t go blabbing about it to some chick. Not good to mix business with pleasure.”
“Except when the business is pleasure…”
The men were quiet for a moment, working on the horse they were rubbing down.
“Speaking of girls,” the first man continued, “you going to see that waitress tonight?”
“She said yes yet?”
“Nope. She’s a tough one. I like a challenge though.”
“Sometimes no just means no, you know.”
“It does? Then how come the last couple of girls who said “no” to me still ended up in my bed?”
There was a pause, followed by a somewhat awkward chuckle. “That’s because you’re very persuasive, so I’ve heard.”
Joey laughed. The two men hauled up horse gear and walked away, still talking.
Bill looked over Apache’s back, watching the two men walk away. That had certainly been an earful. He knew who Fehr was, that was the movie producer and Bill deduced that the girl who got slapped was Jacy. He didn’t know who Dale was and had no idea what was meant by “shipment.” As for Joey’s treatment of women, Bill could only hope that Joey got everything he deserved.
Nonetheless, Bill had found somebody to watch and listen for. It was a start.
Bill finished grooming Apache and bid the horse goodnight. He picked up Apache’s gear and carried it off to the check-in table.
Joey was back at the table, checking gear with two other men. Bill waited in line and put his gear on the table when he got to the front.
“Alexander,” Bill said. “Horse is Apache.”
The man next to Joey, Nick, checked a clipboard. “Ok…” he marked the sheet and then looked up at Bill. “You’re the one that’s Colonel Mosby.”
“Nice riding today.”
“Yeah word spreads fast,” Joey said. “Even though you don’t speak any lines, Dexter hadn’t been happy with the casting for Mosby. Figured we were gonna have to scrap that part of the film. Then you showed up.”
“Well, I just came because I needed the work,” Bill said, “although I hope the director’s happy with me. I’d like to stick around and make a couple of bucks. Still got a car payment ya know. Gotta eat.”
“Hear ya on that.”
“Yeah, speaking of eats, you fellas wouldn’t know a place around here with some good food n’ good beer and maybe something better to look at then the bare walls of my motel room would ya?”
“The only place around here worth the couple of bucks for beer and some nice scenery is a place called the Boar’s Nest, a few miles from here,” Nick said. “Joey, Andy and me go there most nights.”
The Boar’s Nest? Bill thought. Really? Of all the beer joints that have to be around these parts, they had to pick the Boar’s Nest?
“Yeah,” Joey said. “In fact, we’re heading there tonight. Wanna join us?”
You going to see that waitress tonight…
“Sure,” Bill said, not missing a beat. “Boar’s Nest huh? Sounds like a nice place…”
**** **** ****
Bill tried not to appear apprehensive about going to the Boar’s Nest. He only hoped MaryAnne had had a chance to spread the word by now. He figured he’d find out as soon as he walked through the door.
When they entered the road house, the place was booming with music from the jukebox and crowded with people. Bill trailed behind Joey, Nick and Andy, trying not be conspicuous and pretending he’d never been in the place before. He looked around the room, spotted every face that knew him and pondered a quick jaunt to the men’s room.
Winding through the tables, he saw MaryAnne standing with a full tray of beer waiting for him to pass by her. She looked up at him, made eye contact and gave a subtle wink. Once he passed by, she continued on to deliver the beer order.
She’d passed the message along and to confirm it, Bill looked toward Cooter as he passed the mechanic’s table. Cooter glanced up, casually, but his expression appeared as if he didn’t know Bill.
Bill relaxed when they reached a table. MaryAnne walked up as they all sat down.
“Hey baby,” Joey said, his eyes traveling all over her. “Miss me?”
“No,” MaryAnne replied. She looked to Nick and Andy. “What y’all have?”
“You’ll know what I’ll have,” Joey said. “It’s not on the menu.”
“If it ain’t on the menu, it ain’t bein’ served.” She continued to ignore Joey and looked at Nick and Andy. “Beer?”
MaryAnne then looked at Bill neutrally. “Buy yerself another friend, Joey? You must be getting paid well.”
The men chuckled. “Nah, he’s a new recruit,” Joey said, “Just joined up with the production. Already promoted to Colonel.”
“Congratulations,” MaryAnne said.
“Thanks,” Bill said, smiling at her. “What’s your name?”
MaryAnne had to watch herself. Bill’s smile was enough to launch ships. “MaryAnne,” she said.
“I’m Bill. Nice to meet ya.”
“Watch it, Alexander,” Joey said. “This territory’s already been claimed.”
MaryAnne rolled her eyes. “What’ll ya have, Bill?”
Bill hated the Boar’s Nest beer but he couldn’t be obvious so he ordered it anyway. “Beer.”
MaryAnne nodded. “Ok, be back in a bit.” She headed off toward the bar.
“She don’t react to nothin’,” Nick explained to Bill. “Joey here has asked for a date at least three times.”
“Four,” Joey said. “And counting. I’m not giving up until I get her either.”
“No doesn’t mean maybe, Joey,” Bill said.
“She’s just playin’ hard to get. I’ll wear her down. She won’t be able to resist once I do.” Joey grinned.
A few minutes later, MaryAnne returned to the table with a round of drinks. She laid them down, putting Bill’s drink down last. With Joey sitting to Bill’s right, it put her within easy reach and Joey took hold of MaryAnne’s hand.
“When ‘r we goin’ on that date honey?”
“We’re not,” MaryAnne replied. She attempted to pull her hand away but Joey kept a good grip on it.
“C’mon, baby, you’re not giving me a chance…”
“Every time you been in here, you’ve asked me for a date and I’ve said no. Chances are I will continue to say no if you keep asking. Why not quit while you’re ahead?”
Joey grinned. He liked that he had a hand on her.
Despite his front row seat, Bill tried to appear disinterested in the exchange between Joey and MaryAnne. Truth was, he didn’t like the way Joey had a hand on her and Bill realized he had a much stronger urge to protect MaryAnne than he normally would have.
MaryAnne tried to pull her hand away again to no avail. “Could ya let go?” she asked, “I gotta git back to work.”
“I kinda like it,” Joey said. “It feels good. I bet the rest of you feels good too…”
Bill shot Joey a look that could have killed. Nobody noticed it, thankfully, because MaryAnne took her serving tray and smacked it down on Joey’s hand and arm.
Free from his grip, she spun away from the table and walked off.
Joey rubbed his hurting hand while Nick and Andy were laughing. After a minute, Joey was laughing too.
Bill wasn’t. He was inwardly disgusted by Joey’s tactics. “Gee, you’re a real charmer, Joey,” he said. “Don’t know how she can resist you.”
“Yeeahhh I got this girl in the sack already. Maybe I’ll just wait around until the place closes tonight and I’ll show her a real good time.”
Bill lifted his glass of beer and swallowed down a nasty mouthful.
“I think you’ll just end up with your head bashed in,” Nick said. “She’s wound too tight, man.”
“I can loosen her up,” Joey said. “Easy. Get a little booze from behind the bar there into her and I’ll have no problem getting in to her….see how tight she really is.”
Bawdy laughter answered Joey. Except Bill. He wasn’t laughing.
Joey noted this. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing,” Bill said. “I’m just in awe of your chivalry and your smooth talking ability. I mean, you been fighting off the dames since we walked in.”
“I don’t see them falling all over you, old timer,” Joey said. He glanced toward the room and spotted Daisy. “Let’s see you try to get the other waitress there. I’ll bet you fifty bucks she drops you flat.”
Bill sighed and feigned annoyance. Actually, he was annoyed but he knew he had to go along with it. If Joey was looking for a reason to stay after closing, Bill was going to need one too. He turned to see where Daisy was at. “That one over there?” he said.
“Yeah. Her name’s Daisy.”
“Awright...” Bill stood up from the table and removed his wallet. “Let’s see your cash.”
Joey dug out some money from his pocket and counted out fifty dollars. He laid the money on the table.
Bill added his and put his wallet back. “Watch and learn, hot shot…” He turned and left the table and headed toward the bar where Daisy was waiting for a round of beers to be placed on her tray. She was talking to some of the people at the bar as Bill approached.
Daisy turned to him and smiled. “Hey there.”
“Hi,” he said, smiling back. Bill stood so that his back was to Joey’s table. “MaryAnne told you the scenario?”
“Ok. I need your help. One of the boys at the table I’m at has been harassing MaryAnne and I think he’s going to try to stick around when you close up to get a ‘date’ with her.”
“Yeah. I’m gonna stick around too, make sure you girls get out of here safely. But I need your help to have an excuse to stick around. At this moment they’re watching me sweet talk you for a date. They’ll want to hear the answer from you directly I’m sure and I’ll leave it up to you as to which way that goes.”
Daisy smiled. “If I say no, what’s your excuse for sticking around?”
“Well, then I act like a jerk and figure you don’t know what you’re saying no to and I hang around to show you.”
“Yeah, it’s stupid. But the way this creep was talking about MaryAnne is even worse and I don’t want to see anything happen to her. Or you for that matter.”
“I appreciate that, especially where Bo and Luke ain’t here tonight.”
“Ok. Swing by the table with your answer later on.”
Daisy picked up her tray of beers from the bar and started to make her way around Bill, putting her in full view of his tablemates. “Well,” she said, loud enough for them to hear, “I’ll think about it.”
Bill turned to watch her walk away and grinned. She played the scenario perfectly. He headed back to the table.
“She’s gonna think about it,” he said, sitting back down. He started to reach for the money.
Joey slapped a hand over it.
Bill looked up. “She didn’t drop me flat.”
“She didn’t say yes either. I want to hear a straight answer from her before the night is over.”
“Okay.” Bill took his hand back from the money. “We’ll give her some time to think about it and then get an answer from her. Straight.”
“I heard her say she’d think about it,” Nick offered. “Gotta admit Joey he didn’t get a flat no like you have. Five times.”
A little while later, when the crowd started to thin out and closing time was getting closer, Daisy wandered over to Bill’s table and stepped up beside him.
“Hey,” she said sweetly, “listen, we’ll be closing up in a little bit. If you want to hang around for a while, we could talk, get to know each other a little better.”
Bill smiled. “Sure.” Nick, Joey and Andy went slack jawed.
Daisy smiled back, her country charm working perfectly for the scenario. She walked away with every set of eyes at the table watching her go.
Bill turned back to Joey, held back a smile while holding his hand out for the money from their bet. “You lose.”
At closing time, Daisy and MaryAnne shoo’d the last few stragglers out of the Boar’s Nest. Continuing the act, Daisy walked up to Bill as Joey, Nick and Andy lingered nearby.
“My Jeep is parked out front,” she said. “I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
Bill nodded. “You ladies need any help?”
“Oh MaryAnne and I can take care of everything,” she said sweetly. “But thank you.”
The men filed out of the Boar’s Nest and Daisy closed the door, locking it.
“Well,” Nick said as they walked to the parking lot. “Good luck you guys. You’ll have to tell us all about it tomorrow.”
“I don’t kiss and tell,” Bill said.
Nick and Andy chuckled. Joey just looked sour.
“We’ll see ya tomorrow!” Nick called as he and Andy headed for their car. Joey waved good bye but otherwise said nothing. He left Bill by Daisy’s Jeep and meandered over to his own car.
Bill watched him. It was obvious the creep was serious about trying to get to MaryAnne tonight because he wasn’t leaving right away, instead standing near his car and watching the exit.
Bill wasn’t sure yet how to keep Joey away from MaryAnne. Brute force was probably going to be the only option and after hearing the way Joey talked about MaryAnne most of the night, Bill was kind of looking forward to that.
It was then Bill realized this was a much stronger protective instinct for MaryAnne than he typical would have. He would want nothing to happen to either her or Daisy, after all he was a lawman and it was his job to protect folks like them from hard cases like Joey. But the words coming from Joey’s mouth about what he wanted to do to MaryAnne, disgusting enough on their own, had sent a near red hot shot of anger through Bill. He kept it hid, for the most part, during the evening but not without considerable effort.
The sound of a car approaching on the road distracted Bill’s thoughts. He looked up as headlights came into view and the car pulled into the parking lot. He froze a moment, wondering if Joey’s buddies were coming back to help cause trouble…
It wasn’t. A white Plymouth Fury police cruiser pulled up next to Daisy’s Jeep. Bill sighed with relief.
Enos stepped out of the car. “Howdy,” he said to Bill.
“Evenin’ Deputy. Or rather…” Bill looked at his watch. “Good morning.”
Enos grinned. “Yeah it is. Everything ok here?”
“Seems to be.”
At the other side of the parking lot, Joey’s car door slammed and the motor turned over. Bill looked over as the car pulled out of the parking lot. After it hit the road and disappeared, he looked back to Enos.
“It’s a lot better now.”
“Yeah, Daisy called on the CB and said there might be some trouble.”
“That’s what just drove away. Glad you came along.”
The door of the Boar’s Nest unlocked and opened. Daisy peered out around the door frame. “Is he gone?”
“Yeah, he just drove away,” Bill said.
“Good.” She pushed the door open wider. “Why don’t y’all come in? MaryAnne and I are just finishing up.”
Bill and Enos went into the Boar’s Nest and Daisy closed the door again, locking it.
At the bar, MaryAnne was tallying up the day’s receipts and recording them on a ledger for Boss.
“Joey’s gone, MaryAnne,” Daisy said.
“I hope you don’t mind that I called Enos, Mr. Maxwell,” Daisy said. “But with the kind of trouble you were talkin’ about, I figured a little extra help wouldn’t hurt.”
“It was a smart thing to do, Miss Duke. Reinforcements are always welcome.”
“What kind of trouble were y’all expectin’?” Enos asked.
“The bad kind, Enos,” Daisy said. “The kind no good girl wants to find herself in.”
“You mean this fella wanted to…to….”
MaryAnne looked up from the ledger book. “Assault my virtue?” she suggested.
“Possumonagumbush, that’s awful.”
“Yeah and he was serious too,” Bill said. “Does he try to bother you any other time, MaryAnne?”
“No, only here. I don’t see him during filming of the town scenes.”
Bill nodded. “Good. That keeps him at least somewhat contained and I can keep an eye on him.”
MaryAnne looked at Bill. “What do you mean? You gonna be here every night that he’s here?”
“If I have to be.”
“Bill, it’s not that I don’t appreciate you watching out for me but you can’t keep watching Joey when you’re supposed to be trying to find out who killed that girl. Unless, you suspect Joey…”
Bill paused, glancing at Daisy and Enos. Daisy looked particularly worried, as did Enos.
“I don’t think he killed Jacy,” he said. “I don’t think he even knows she’s dead at this point. But he knows a little something about what happened at the producer’s last party. I overheard him talking to somebody else today about it. There was some mention about a shipment and somebody named Dale.” He looked at MaryAnne and Daisy. “Any idea who Dale might be?”
The two girls thought for a moment. “Well,” Daisy said, “there’s a Dale Kingston. He’s some big shot with the movie, his name gets mentioned a lot.”
MaryAnne nodded. “I think he’s the Production Manager. He’s in charge of damn near everything I think.”
Bill nodded. “Ok, that makes sense. I figure Joey’s some kind of assistant or runner, keeping track of the horses and gear for all the extras for the battle scenes. Do you ever see this Dale Kingston?”
Both girls shook their heads. “No, I don’t think we’ve ever seen him,” Daisy said.
“Joey’s my best lead at this point. Along with this Dale Kingston if I ever come across him. So…” Bill looked at MaryAnne. “It looks like you’re gonna see me here a little more often.”
Admittedly, MaryAnne was a bit relieved at the thought. However, she still had Bill’s cover story in mind. She held back a smile and pointed to Daisy. “You mean, she’s gonna see you a little more often here.”
“Oh.” Bill looked at Daisy and then back at MaryAnne. “Right. You’re not interested in creepy dudes asking you for dates.”
Daisy giggled. “Yes, but you’re not a creepy dude, Mr. Maxwell – I mean, Mr. Alexander.”
Bill smiled at Daisy. “Thank ya,” he said. He then looked at MaryAnne, who had her gaze lowered to the ledger book, closing it up. She then turned to place it back underneath the register.
Depending who you were in the room, the momentary silence was either awkward or unnoticed. Daisy noticed Bill was still watching MaryAnne and could read the expression on his face plain as day. She looked over at MaryAnne, who had her back turned and busied herself cashing up the register. For cryin’ in the sink, sugar, turn around!
Enos was otherwise oblivious to what was going on. “Well,” he said, “You can always call me on the CB, like ya you did tonight,” he said. “I usually try to patrol close to the Boar’s Nest around closing time incase y’all have any trouble.”
“Yeah,” Bill said, the faraway look disappearing. He looked at Enos. “Like I said, reinforcements are always welcome.”
MaryAnne finished balancing the register and closed it up. “There,” she said. “Another night in the books.” She grabbed her purse from underneath the bar. “All set.”
“Just let me grab mine…” Daisy said. She retrieved her purse from behind the bar and the group left the Boar’s Nest.
After saying goodnight, each headed for vehicles. Bill lingered near MaryAnne’s Firebird as Enos drove away first, followed by Daisy heading the other way. Bill held the door for her.
“Thanks,” she said and smiled at him as he closed the door for her.
“You going to be in Denton tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yeah, they got me there too for some scenes.”
“Guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.” MaryAnne grinned.
“Guess you will.” Bill smiled. He looked at her for a moment and his expression sobered. “Listen, MaryAnne, you watch out for Joey. He’s got his sights set on you with bad intentions.”
MaryAnne nodded. “I know. I’ve dealt with creeps like Joey before, Bill. I can handle it.”
Maybe, he thought. But she didn’t deserve it. She deserved…better. “Awright,” he said, not sure what his thoughts were alluding to. He let it go and smiled again. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
**** **** ****
During a break in filming on Saturday in Denton, Bill sat on the boardwalk near the saloon with a few other extras. The horses waited nearby. He watched people and observed the activity as cameras were moved into new positions and sound equipment was checked.
The producer, Michael Fehr, was wandering around the set. This wasn’t unheard of but it was the first Bill had seen it. Fehr stopped to talk to a group of women and Bill recognized Daisy in her costume. Fehr seemed particularly interested in Daisy and whoever was standing next to her. Bill couldn’t tell from this angle as Fehr himself was blocking the other girl. Daisy smiled and seemed flattered by whatever Fehr was saying.
One of the extras behind Bill sat down next to him and looked in the same direction as Bill, seeing Fehr there. “Ah, there he is looking for his next victim,” the man said.
Bill registered the word “victim” and looked at the man. He feigned obliviousness. “Hmm? What?”
“The producer there.” The man pointed to Fehr. “That’s Michael Fehr. He is, amongst many things, a notorious womanizer.”
That wasn’t new, but Bill continued to play ignorant. “Really?”
“Oh yeah. I’ve heard stories. Mind you, they’re just stories but there’s been a lot of whispered threats by some of the women on this production.”
That was new and Bill didn’t have to pretend to find that interesting. “No…”
“Oh yeah.” The man regarded Bill for a moment. “You haven’t been here long have you?”
“No, I just got in a few days ago.”
The man nodded. “Ah, so you’ve missed some of the crazy stuff so far. Though I’m sure there’ll be more coming. There was a big party at Fehr’s place in Atlanta couple weeks ago. I didn’t go but I heard there was some really wild stuff going on if you know what I mean.”
Seeing Daisy’s sweet face and knowing all too well the kind of “wild stuff” that could go down, Bill felt a little ill at ease. He hid it, however, and continued to be curious. “No kidding. These parties happen often?”
“There’s been two so far. Probably be another one before production wraps up. I went to the first one. It was wild but the stories I heard about the second one top it. If there’s a third one I’m gonna try to make that one if I can.”
“Gotta be anybody special to get on the guest list?”
“Nope. It’s been open to everyone on the production. He’s had hundreds of people at that house, it’s a wonder the cops don’t bust the place.”
Bill grinned. He looked toward Fehr, who was still talking to Daisy and the other girl.
“Well, when he has another party, I’ll have to check it out,” Bill said. As he spoke though, Fehr moved away from Daisy and the second girl was finally revealed.
It was MaryAnne.
Bill’s heart skipped a beat. The thought of Fehr sweet talking Daisy into some kind of trouble was bad enough. But the thought of both her and MaryAnne getting mixed up with Fehr suddenly made him very ill at ease.
**** **** ****
Sunday afternoon, Rosco took MaryAnne to lunch at the Busy Bee Café, since both of them were in town at the same time.
“That fella still giving you a hard time?” he asked.
“Every night he’s there,” MaryAnne said. “Bill said he’s gonna try to hang out at the Boar’s Nest the nights these fellas come to Hazzard.”
“Isn’t that just about every night?”
MaryAnne snorted. “Just about. Actually I feel better having Bill there. Daisy too. Especially where Bo and Luke aren’t always there, because they’re catching up on the farm chores.”
“MaryAnne, he’s supposta be undercover. You’re not supposed to know him.”
“I know. But Daisy’s his excuse for being there anyway. They’re supposed to be having a fling.”
Rosco watched MaryAnne’s expression and thought he saw a bit of disappointment.
“He’s sweet on Daisy?”
“Only for show,” she said. “Since Joey thinks I’m his, which I’m most definitely not, he egged Bill on to go for Daisy. So Bill did the other night. But he did it to have an excuse to stick around after closing. Apparently Joey said some things about me that Bill didn’t like.”
“What kind of things?”
“Things Joey wanted to do to me.”
MaryAnne held a hand up. “That’s why Enos came to the Boar’s Nest when we closed up. Daisy called him on the CB and asked him to come out as backup.”
“Good thing! I oughta toss Joey in jail right now.”
“That’d be great, Rosco, except he hasn’t broken any laws.”
“Since when does anybody need to be breakin’ any actual laws around here to be thrown in jail? Besides, harassing you, that’s bad enough.”
“Well, if harassing me at the Boar’s Nest is suddenly against the law, you’ll have to lock up half the county. Rosco, I’ve dealt with creeps like this before. When the movie’s done, he’ll be gone. It’s only a few more weeks.”
“Yeah, well, if he tries anything, he’ll be under my jail in two second flat. That goes for Maxwell too. If he tries to pull anything with Daisy, it’ll be a one way ticket to the clink.”
“Rosco,” MaryAnne admonished, “Bill’s not gonna do anything to Daisy. And if he did, Bo and Luke would tear him apart first.”
“How do you know he’s not gonna do anything to Daisy? Them city boys, y’know…”
MaryAnne looked at her cousin. “No, I don’t know,” she said. “Rosco, Bill’s a gentleman.”
“Hmph…” Rosco grumbled.
“He is,” she defended. “He’s been nothing but a gentleman toward me. And Daisy.” She paused, studying him a moment. “What do you have against him? You’re not still mad about Chattanooga are you?”
“I just don’t trust ‘em,” Rosco said. “And after what happened in Chattanooga, I’m not too crazy seein’ him back in town again. Now, I know you like ‘em all but—“
“What gave you that idea?”
“MaryAnne, it’s plain on your face. Has been for a while now. Every time you go to Atlanta for your lunch dates with him, you’re always so happy when you get back. And the fact that he’s been around here lately, you’ve been pretty happy.”
She paused, surprised. “Am I that obvious?”
MaryAnne made a face. So much for thinking she was keeping the feelings at bay. She looked at Rosco. “Is that why you don’t like him? Because I do?”
Rosco paused thoughtfully. “MaryAnne, it’s been a long time since you showed interest in anybody. And I know why, I remember what happened. I had always hoped that one day you’d find somebody to take that memory away. I guess I always figured it’d be a local fella, but I think most of the fellas here in Hazzard have given up on you. But Maxwell….I dunno. I dunno if he’s really right for ya.”
“Because he’s a city boy. And…the last one was a city boy too.” Rosco spoke gently when he said it but cringed inside. “I don’t trust him, MaryAnne,” he added quickly. “There’s just something about him I don’t trust.”
MaryAnne was quiet for a moment, looking out the window of the café to the square. “I keep trying to fight it, Rosco,” she said. “It’s been so long since I’ve felt like this I’d forgotten how nice it feels.” She looked at her cousin. “But he’s not supposed to stay in Atlanta and I don’t want to go through the kind of heartbreak I went through before. Yet…I can’t fight it. After all this time, I don’t know why him. Why now. I was doing just fine blocking it all out…”
She lowered her gaze for a moment before looking back up again. “But Rosco, he’s a Fed. He’s been a lawman for a long time. Why don’t you trust him?”
“It’s not the badge I don’t trust. It’s the man behind it. He seems an honest law man but…there’s just something about him that’s not quite trustful. You know what I mean?”
“No,” MaryAnne said. Rosco had a reason for his suspicion of Bill, but whatever it was he didn’t seem willing to share it.
Rosco wilted under MaryAnne’s critical gaze. “Um…”
“Rosco, what are you not telling me?”
“Uh, well, y’see, MaryAnne, I don’t really know that much about him…”
“But you’ve arbitrarily decided he can’t be trusted?”
“Well, no, I have my reasons—“
“Jit, MaryAnne, I’m sorry. I have my reasons but I’m still sorting through it. Please just…don’t go too far with this. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Are you telling me to stay away from him?”
“Yes. But I know better…”
“Damn right you know better. Until you give me a good reason to stay away from him, I don’t think I’m going to. You wanna know why? Because seeing him does make me happy.” With that, MaryAnne was done lunch. She slid out of the booth and stood up, digging out a couple of crumpled bills from her pocket and leaving it on the table. She put her hat on and walked out of the café.
Rosco sighed and watched her go. He wanted nothing more than to see MaryAnne happy, but with it being the likes of Bill Maxwell, with what Rosco had managed to find out about him so far, Rosco wasn’t sure MaryAnne’s future happiness could be guaranteed.