“You never said what happened on your date the other night,” Nick was saying to Bill Monday night at the Boar’s Nest.
“I told you,” Bill said, “I don’t kiss and tell.”
“I dunno why that deputy showed up,” Joey grumbled.
“Dunno why you left, Joey,” Bill said. “I mean, you weren’t going to do anything wrong, were ya?”
“Hell no,” Joey replied. “But I didn’t need no cop watching.” He looked at Bill. “Didn’t you leave too?”
“No. I had no reason to.”
Joey frowned. “How long did the deputy stick around?”
“Five minutes, maybe. Once the girls closed up for the night, he left. I hung around, chatted with Daisy….and MaryAnne.”
Nick and Andy exchanged amused glances.
Joey scowled. “I told you, don’t you be crowding in on my territory,” he said.
“She ain’t your territory,” Bill said. “She ain’t even your type. She’s a lady, as is Daisy and the last thing either one of them needs is some bull headed Neanderthal creep like you harassing them all the time.”
“When I see a chick I want to score, I score her and MaryAnne’s next on the list. I saw her first and it doesn’t matter how many times she says no, I will have her. So you better just stay out of the way and stick with the other chick.”
Bill looked up from his glass of bourbon to Joey with a cool and serious expression. “Sorry, Joey. If you want MaryAnne, you’re gonna have to go through me first.”
Joey was hardly fazed and gave a snort. “I’ll take you off at the knees, old timer. Nothing’s gonna stop me from getting her.”
“You do realize she’s a deputy sheriff herself, don’t you?” Andy asked.
Joey shrugged. “So what? Don’t matter what she wears for clothes, she won’t be keeping them on anyway.” He laughed.
Nick and Andy chuckled and shook their heads. Bill was stone faced with an unsmiling gaze on Joey.
Joey looked at Bill, still smiling from his raunchy humor. He looked around the Boar’s Nest and spotted MaryAnne. “Hey! MaryAnne! I need another beer here!”
Across the room, MaryAnne looked over at the table with dread. “Yeah, awright, I’ll be there in a minute…”
Joey’s grin hardly ceased while they waited for MaryAnne. A couple minutes later, she arrived at the table with a full beer for Joey. She placed it down on the table and picked up his empty. “How ‘bout you fellas?” she asked, looking to Bill, Nick and Andy. “Any of you need a refill?”
“No, we’re set,” Nick said with Andy concurring. Bill just shook his head.
Glad to have no further reason to remain at the table, MaryAnne started to turn to leave. Joey suddenly grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
MaryAnne found herself being not just pulled back to the table, but right into Joey’s lap. Joey laughed at his success but it was only temporary. He tried to hang on to MaryAnne, his hands aiming for inappropriate places. MaryAnne pushed herself away from him, cracking a loud slap across his face.
Boar’s Nest regulars knew if MaryAnne had been pushed to the point of slapping a customer, something was about to go down. And it did. Bill sprung up from his chair and moved MaryAnne back and away from Joey. Taking this as an affront, Joey grabbed Bill’s shoulder and spun him around, winding up a punch. Bill blocked the hit and fired back with one of his own.
The commotion now had the attention of everyone in the Boar’s Nest and the assorted movie stuntmen looked eager to see a fight. Bo and Luke stepped over to try to subdue Joey, which brought Nick and Andy into the fray and the Boar’s Nest erupted in cheers and chaos. With the Dukes not able to get to Joey, he recovered from Bill’s hit to launch back with a barrel punch to Bill’s gut.
MaryAnne cleared back from the fight, as did everyone else. With Bo and Luke occupied by Nick and Andy, that left Joey to charge back after Bill.
Bill was still slightly bent over from the punch, trying to breathe normal again. He had little time to react as Joey came at him like a linebacker, sending both men crashing over a table. Beer and popcorn flew through the air and the customers at the table, hardly bothered by the loss of their drinks and snacks, cheered on the fight.
Like railroad spikes going into his head, Bill suffered a couple of blows from Joey’s iron fists before managing to roll the brute off him and get back on the offensive. He hauled Joey back to his feet, balancing on the broken table top and fired a vicious right cross to Joey’s jaw.
The blow sent Joey stumbling back to one of the booth seats along the wall. For Bill, however, he was only good once for the punch. He flicked his now sore hand and watched Joey.
Joey stumbled against one of the movie stuntmen sitting in the booth who pushed Joey back the other way. Joey lunged after Bill and Bill side stepped him, letting the freight train rumble on through – all the way to the bar.
Joey collided with two empty bar stools and held on to the bar to stay steady. He turned back to see Bill.
MaryAnne could see Bill was favoring his busted hand. “Bill!” she yelled. She held up her serving tray and tossed it to him. “This always works for me!”
Bill caught the tray and held it like a shield. Not to be out done, Joey picked up one of the bar stools and charged after Bill. Bill held the tray up and turned away from the coming blow.
The stool crashed down on him but lost momentum. There was another sound of crashing furniture and Joey was suddenly howling in pain and crumbling to the floor.
The bar stool dropped to the floor, useless. Bill turned back to look at Joey down on the floor and the chair that was on top of him. Given MaryAnne’s close proximity, he knew what had happened.
“Thanks,” he said to her.
“No problem,” she replied. “I’ve wanted to do that for a couple of weeks now….”
“Heh, I bet you have.” Bill picked the chair up off of Joey and set it right. He then pulled the lug up off the floor and sat him down in it. “Awright, Joey, you’re all through for today…”
Bo and Luke, meanwhile, were still going at it with Nick and Andy but not for long. Andy made the mistake of looking over at Joey and Bill, seeing their fight was done, which let Bo take him down with a good hit. That left Luke and Nick, whose fight came to an end when Luke delivered the knockout punch and took out another table as Nick went down from the blow.
There was boisterous laughter and hooting and hollering for the victors. Bo and Luke gathered around Bill and MaryAnne, while catching their breaths.
“Thanks fellas,” Bill said.
Luke grinned. “Anytime.” He looked at MaryAnne. “You okay?”
“I’m fine, thanks.”
“She’s dangerous with furniture,” Bill said.
The boys laughed. “It wouldn’t be a Boar’s Nest fight if furniture didn’t get used,” Luke said.
“And broken,” Bo added.
MaryAnne chuckled. “I’ll get you some ice for that hand,” she said to Bill and headed for the bar.
The losers of the battle were being picked up off the floor, along with the debris and the atmosphere started to settle down. Just in time for Rosco and Enos to come barreling in.
Rosco had gun drawn and suddenly stopped short, seeing he had missed the excitement. “Jit! Awright! What’s going on here?”
“Just another quiet night at the Boar’s Nest, Rosco,” Bo said.
“You Dukes, hush.” Rosco looked at Joey, sitting passively in the chair and Nick and Andy who stumbled over to the bar, more or less to have something to lean against to hold themselves up. “Now what happened?”
Bill gestured to Joey. “He was grabbing at MaryAnne,” he said, “and grabbing too much.”
Rosco looked at MaryAnne as she came up beside Bill with a towel full of ice for his hand. An extra two cool, damp towels were draped over her shoulder, which she handed to Bo and Luke. “That’s right,” she said. “He’s the one I’ve been tellin’ ya about.”
“Awright, who threw the first punch?”
“He did,” Bill said as MaryAnne helped with the ice and towel wrap.
Rosco tried to ignore MaryAnne’s tending of Maxwell and looked at Joey.
“He grabbed at me first, Sheriff,” Joey said. “I was just defending myself. Shoot, you want to know who hit first, she did. She slapped me. For no reason.”
“Oh boy…” Bill muttered.
“Did you grab at her?” Rosco asked Joey.
“I’ve been nothing but a gentleman—“
“Bull,” Bill said. “You’ve been nothing but a disgusting pig toward her.”
Rosco knew this to be true, having heard the stories from MaryAnne. When Joey argued that he had not been what Bill was accusing him of, Rosco waved his hands in the air. “Awright, awright, it don’t matter none because I’m throwing all y’all in jail and we’ll sort it out in town. Let’s go, all of ya now.” Rosco grabbed Joey by the arm and prompted him out of the chair.
“What’s the charge?” Joey argued. “I tol’ ya, I was defending myself!”
“Fistfightin’! Now git a move on! Anymore trouble like this and I’m gonna hafta ask Boss to let us build a bigger jail. Khee!”
Bill looked at MaryAnne and gave her a wink before following the other guilty participants toward the door where Enos waited to escort everyone out. The fighters shuffled out of the Boar’s Nest and the milling crowd returned to what was left of their tables and chairs. Rosco paused by MaryAnne.
“You okay?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” she said, showing none of the animosity she had earlier at lunch. “I’m glad you happened to show up.”
“Daisy called on the CB,” Rosco said. “She said furniture was broken. That’s all I had to hear.”
MaryAnne smiled. “Go throw the book at ‘em.”
“I will. Khee!” Rosco headed for the exit of the Boar’s Nest while MaryAnne went to get the bucket and mop.
**** **** ****
At the courthouse, Rosco separated the winners and the losers, putting the Dukes and Maxwell in the holding cell upstairs and locking Joey, Nick and Andy downstairs. He gave equal treatment to all, slapping them all with fines for the fight and threatening to follow up with restitution once Boss Hogg had an estimate for the damage and losses at the Boar’s Nest.
He allowed them all one phone call as well. The Dukes, of course, phoned their Uncle Jesse, who was less than enthused to learn his nephews were in the slammer yet again. Nick phoned somebody with the movie production. Until somebody showed up with bail, the men could do nothing but cool their heels in jail.
“What’d Uncle Jesse say?” Bo asked when Luke was returned to the holding cell by Enos after making the call.
“The usual,” Luke replied. “He’s not happy.”
“I’ll make it up to you boys,” Bill said. “Since you were backing me up.”
“Uncle Jesse will appreciate that,” Luke said. “All the same though, it was worth it. That guy’s been trouble since day one with MaryAnne. It’s guys like him that make me look forward to when the movie is done and these folks are gone.”
“Amen,” Bo said.
“I’ll agree to that,” Bill added.
“Hey, Luke, why don’t we tell him that thing we’ve been meaning to tell him for the past few days?”
Luke looked outside the holding cell, seeing only Enos sitting at the booking desk reading a comic. “I reckon now’s as good a time as any.”
“Tell me what?” Bill asked.
“Well a few days ago, there was a cop from Atlanta up here asking about that missing girl. Matt Franklin?” Luke said.
Bill nodded. “Yeah.”
“Yeah. He’s an old friend of MaryAnne’s so we got to talking to him and all and he told us how a body had been found in Atlanta but that y’all hadn’t confirmed the ID yet.”
Bill noted the old friend of MaryAnne’s line. That’s what MaryAnne had referred to him as and Bill couldn’t help his wondering just how much of a friend Matt was.
“Yeah,” Bo continued the story, “and he said how you were working on finding Jacy’s parents to contact them to identify the body. Well, me and Luke got to thinking about it afterwards. See, we brought Mike into town to file the report with Enos there.”
“Right,” Luke said. “When we talked to Mike he had told us that he had talked to Jacy’s mother already and said that her mother had said that she hadn’t heard from Jacy either.”
Bill found this very interesting. “He specifically said that?”
“Clear as a bell,” Luke said. “We figured you must have asked him about her folks and if he knew how to contact them.”
“Either that or he would’ve told you how to get in touch with them,” Bo added.
“Right. I did ask him. He told me he did not have any contact with them because Jacy herself was estranged from her folks.”
“Is that true?” Luke asked.
“For the most part.”
“Now why do you supposed he told us one thing and told you something different?” Bo wondered.
“More ‘n that,” Luke said. “Why did he lie to us, but more or less tell you the truth?”
Bill shook his head, finding the whole thing rather peculiar. “I dunno…”
Sometime later, Uncle Jesse arrived at the courthouse to bail out his nephews. He paid the bail money, begrudgingly, and his disappointment showed especially since the charge was legit and the boys admitted as much.
Rosco was all smiles though after accepting the bail money and unlocking the door to let Bo and Luke out. He closed the door on Bill and the agent stepped toward the bars, watching.
Jesse glanced toward the holding cell, seeing Maxwell, but did not otherwise acknowledge him. Knowing from the boys and Daisy that the Fed was working undercover with the movie production, Jesse knew that he was to be otherwise treated like a stranger in town.
Nonetheless, Jesse couldn’t resist a little ribbing. He counted out the bail money for the boys and put each bill on the desk for Rosco to see. “….180….190…two hunnerd dollahs, Rosco.”
“Khee!” Rosco scribbled up a bail receipt for Jesse and tore the paper off the book, handing it over.
“Thank ya. Now,” Jesse said, folding the receipt. “I’ll be some glad when Hazzard County goes back to its own local riff raff and we don’t have any more of these out of town riff raff leading folks astray ‘round here.”
“Yeah,” Rosco grumbled. “Especially him.” He jerked a thumb in Bill’s direction.
Bill peered through the bars of the holding cell and looked innocent.
Bo gave a snort. “Aw, Uncle Jesse the one in there ain’t so bad. He was just defendin’ a lady’s honor, is all.”
“Yeah,” Luke said. “Now them fellas that are down stairs, they’re the riff raff.”
“Well, it don’t make that much of a difference, I’ll be glad when they’re gone. Then maybe we can get some work done at the farm and not be spending all the harvest money on bail before we’ve even got the harvest done.” Although it was spoken somewhat mildly, it was still a reprimand and both Bo and Luke sobered at Jesse’s words.
“Let’s get goin’. Good night, Rosco.”
“Good night, Jesse.”
Once the Dukes left the booking room, Rosco shuffled back to his office leaving Bill alone in the holding cell. Bill turned away from the door and stepped to the bench, sitting down and holding his towel wrapped hand.
A couple hours later the clock was pushing toward 10pm. Bill was dozing in the holding cell when a man walked in through the double doors of the booking room.
Dale Kingston, the production manager for the movie, paused looking around. “Anybody here?”
Bill awoke from his dozing and looked up.
“Hello?” Dale stepped toward Rosco’s office and found the Sheriff fast asleep at his desk. “Uh, excuse me, Sheriff?”
Rosco, leaning back in his chair with his feet up on the desk, awoke with a start. He started to go for his gun but stopped when he looked at the man in his door way. “What? Who are you?”
“Sheriff, my name is Dale Kingston I’m with the movie production. I believe you have some of my boys in your jail.”
“Oh. Yeah.” Rosco shook off the cobwebs from his brain and got up. “They was all fightin’ and tearin’ the Boar’s Nest apart.”
“I’m aware of the charges. How much for bail?”
“Oh. That’s a hunnerd dollahs.”
“For the four of them?”
“For each of them.”
Dale didn’t look too pleased to hear that. Nonetheless he stepped aside letting Rosco leave his office and go to the booking desk.
In the holding cell, Bill stood up from the bench and went to the door.
“Will you accept a check, Sheriff?” Dale asked.
“I prefer cash.”
Dale figured as much. He reached into his sport coat and pulled out a bill fold, removing four crisp $100 bills.
“There you are, Sheriff.”
Rosco held one of the bills up, examining it in the light.
Dale chuckled. “It’s real, Sheriff.”
“Khee! Looks like it is.” He placed the bill down and scribbled a receipt for Dale. He tore the paper off, handing it over and then grabbed the keys off the wall near the holding cell. He released Bill first with hardly any fanfare.
“The other three are downstairs,” Rosco said to Dale. “I’ll be back.”
“Thank you, Sheriff.”
Rosco nodded and headed for the stairs. Bill wandered out of the holding cell and away from the booking desk and he looked at Dale.
Neither of them had met before.
“You must be Bill,” Dale said. “I’m Dale Kingston, the production manager.”
Bill nodded. “Thanks for bailing us out.”
Dale snorted. “Nick told me you and Joey went at it at the roadhouse.”
“Uh…yeah, we did.”
Dale nodded. “Over a girl?”
Bill cleared his throat. “Yeah.”
Dale chuckled. “Yeah, I’ve seen this script before.” He eyed Bill’s wounded hand. “He also said you took Joey down. I see you paid for it.”
Bill glanced at his hand and gave a sheepish grin. “Yeah, how about that?”
“I’ve no doubt he deserved it. You going to be able to work tomorrow? You’re part of the group filming the battle scenes, right?”
“Yeah. No problem, I can still work.”
The door to the stairs opened and Nick, Andy and Joey marched through with Rosco bringing up the rear. The three men said nothing to Dale, just exchanged looks. When Rosco got back to the booking desk, Dale approached, handing a card to him.
“Sheriff, will you please give that to the owner of the bar that suffered the damages and have them forward the bill for repairs and furniture replacement to me.”
“Oooh,” Rosco said, looking at the card. “Boss Hogg will appreciate dat. Thank ya.”
Dale nodded. “Good night, Sheriff.” He glanced to the four men and then led the way out of the booking room.
Since everyone’s cars were back at the Boar’s Nest, Dale drove everybody out there to retrieve them. The drive out was fairly quiet other than idle chit chat between the men. Bill got the sense that Nick, Andy and Joey all knew Dale pretty well and with Bill being the odd man out whatever conversation they would have liked to have had, they refrained from having.
They arrived at the Boar’s Nest, which was still open and still quite busy. The men exited the car and Joey started heading for the front door.
“Where are you going, Joey?” Dale asked.
“Back inside. Night’s still young.”
Dale shook his head. “I think you’ve had enough for one evening. The best thing you four can do is go back to your motel and stay out of trouble.”
“Joey, I just forked over $400 and God knows how much more to fix this hell hole up because of your stupidity. Now, unless you’d like to me withhold the total dollar amount from tonight’s mess from your pay, I suggest you go back to your motel room and simmer your ass down.” Dale looked at everyone. “That goes for all of you.”
Nick and Andy didn’t need to be told twice. They merely nodded and started for their cars. Bill too turned and walked to his Grand Prix, parked just one car over from where Dale parked.
Joey still lingered, testing Dale’s patience.
“What’s the matter, Dale? Getting nervous?” Joey said.
Bill paused at his car, pretending to be fishing for his key while still listening.
“We can’t afford any trouble with the cops, Joey.” Dale hissed. “You know that. Now get out of here.”
“Big one’s Friday isn’t it?”
Dale hushed him and grabbed Joey by the arm, walking him further away from Bill.
Big one? Big one what? Bill wondered. He found his key and got into the car. Nick and Andy had already left and reluctantly, Bill drove out of the parking lot too. Dale and Joey were still talking to each other.
**** **** ****
Bill spent Tuesday and Wednesday in the muck, sweat, blood and tears of filming battle scenes. Despite his sore hand, he rode fine with Apache, the horse seeming to know more of what to do than Bill did.
Tuesday and Wednesday night at the Boar’s Nest were without incident. Whatever Dale Kingston said to Joey, it must have got through, as Joey behaved, for the most part. He still leered at MaryAnne every time she came to the table and spoke lewdly, but otherwise kept his hands to himself. Which was a good thing as Bill was too exhausted from two days of riding to go at it with Joey again.
Despite their scuffle, Joey welcomed Bill to sit at his table with Nick and Andy. Apparently there were no hard feelings after the fight and being tossed in jail. As far as Joey was concerned it was all in good fun.
And speaking of good fun, Joey asked his table mates if they were going to Fehr’s big party on Friday.
“Party?” Bill asked.
Joey looked at Bill. “More wine than you can drink, more song than you can dance to, more food than you can eat and more women than you can possibly ever lay.”
“In one night?” Bill asked straight faced.
Nick and Andy chortled. Joey laughed too. “In one night!” he said. “You should go, Bill. There’s always something for everybody.”
“Well, shoot, I got nothing going Friday night, sounds like a good time. Where is it?”
“It’s at Michael Fehr’s place, in Atlanta.” Joey rattled off the address.
Bill repeated it, committing it to memory.
“Yeah. Starts early. Production wraps here at 2 o’clock and everybody heads to Atlanta. Assuming you last all night, the party will too.”
At that moment, Daisy walked by the table. Bill looked up, watching her go by.
Joey saw her too. “Yeah, she won’t be there,” he said. “MaryAnne neither. The local yokels don’t go to any of the parties.”
“Oh,” Bill said, with the right amount of disappointment. “That’s too bad.” Good, he thought. He wouldn’t have to worry about MaryAnne or Daisy being in a bad situation.
**** **** ****
Entering the ballroom in Cedar City on Thursday was like stepping back into time. The extras for the scene were all there, dressed in 19th century gowns and suits, with many in Confederate dress uniforms. Movie cameras and equipment were situated around the room, a reminder of the current day, but otherwise, between the costumes and the décor of the room it felt like it was 1861.
MaryAnne stood with Daisy, both of them outfitted in era ball gowns, their hair and makeup complete. Other girls were being tended to by makeup artists and stylists. The room was bustling with activity.
Maxwell entered the ball room dressed in his full Confederate officer’s regalia, his grey uniform fitted, his boots shined and his side sword adjusted just right. He paused to look around and saw MaryAnne and Daisy standing along the side of the ballroom floor. He made his way over.
MaryAnne looked and saw him and couldn’t help her grin. Although Bill was hidden behind the full fake beard he wore, she recognized him and he certainly looked quite handsome in the get up.
Daisy spotted him too and she looked at MaryAnne, seeing her grin from ear to ear. As Maxwell got closer, he smiled broadly.
“You two look gorgeous,” he said. And they did, truly. MaryAnne especially, though Bill tried not to stare too long at her.
“You don’t look half bad yourself,” MaryAnne replied. “Y’know, grey really is your color.”
“Which explains why I don’t feel all that much different walking around in this get up.” He rattled the saber a little. “Although this thing I could do without.”
Daisy grinned, watching the two. She then glanced around the ballroom, looking for an excuse to leave and let Bill and MaryAnne be alone together for a bit. Although neither of them would have admitted it, Daisy could tell. There was an attraction happening there and far be it for Daisy to stand in the way of nature.
“I wonder what Bo and Luke look like in their uniforms, I think they were going to be here too,” she said.
Bill nodded. “They were being fitted for the formal uniforms same time I was.”
Daisy nodded. “Oh, there’s Cooter. He’s probably seen the boys. I’ll see you later, MaryAnne. Bill.”
“Okay, Daisy,” MaryAnne said. She watched Daisy walk toward Cooter, who was also dressed in a formal Confederate uniform and was really cleaned up for the part.
“Wow,” MaryAnne said. “Ol’ Cooter cleans up pretty nicely.”
Bill turned to look. “Yeah. Especially considering how he is during the battle scenes we’ve been filming. He gets right into it. That boy is one hundred percent southern fried rebel.” He turned back to MaryAnne, struck all a new by her appearance. Her dress was dark blue, her hair pinned up and accented with ringlets.
“You uh….clean up nicely yourself,” he said.
MaryAnne blushed and smiled. “Thanks…”
“Really…you look gorgeous…” He met her gaze and held it for a nervous yet wonderful moment before she glanced away at the bustle of the ballroom.
There was an awkward pause. He was nervous too because he was starting to feel things he shouldn’t have been feeling for her. Plus, he still had a job to do, a killer to find and a seedy movie producer to bust. After seeing Fehr fawn over Daisy and MaryAnne the other day, Bill felt an extra pull to protect her.
“Listen, uh, I don’t know if they’re gonna pair us up with certain people for this scene or not but if they don’t….will you be my dance partner? I’m not much of a dancer myself but…”
MaryAnne looked at him and smiled shyly. “Sure…”
Bill grinned. He then held his arm out to her. “In the meantime, let’s see if we can eavesdrop on some people. Do a little police work…”
MaryAnne hooked her arm with his and they walked together amongst the activity of ballroom.
“How’s your hand?” she asked him.
“Oh, okay.” He held his hand up and flexed his fingers. “Still a little sore but useable.”
“Any problems while filming? You had to ride Tuesday and Wednesday?”
“Nah, no problems. The horse I’m riding is pretty good, has a good temperament.”
MaryAnne smiled. “I would have never guessed you knew how to ride a horse.”
Bill chuckled. “What about you? You’re a country girl, don’t you know how to ride?”
“Yeah, I used to, as a kid and a teen. I had a horse then. Been a long time since I rode.”
Bill filed that little tidbit away for later. “Well, I’ll admit I don’t get to do it often but it’s like riding bike, MaryAnne. You never forget.”
As they slowly walked around the room, they both heard mention of the next party coming up at Fehr’s place in Atlanta. Bill especially took note but didn’t say anything to MaryAnne, figuring she didn’t need to go to a party like that.
When they were almost full circle around the room, they came across the Dukes and Cooter. Daisy smiled seeing the two of them arm in arm and she nudged her two cousins who turned to look.
“Well, well!” Bo said and offered a salute to Maxwell. “Colonel Mosby, sir.”
“Colonel Mosby?” MaryAnne said. “They have you as an actual historical figure?”
“Yep,” Bill replied. “Colonel John S. Mosby, 43rd Battalion, 1st Virginia Cavalry otherwise known as Mosby’s Raiders.”
Luke nodded. “The Grey Ghost. Hit Union defenses fast and then he and his men would disappear into the woods and towns, eluding pursuit.”
“Yeah,” Bo said. “Isn’t he the one that there’s a story he rode back and forth in front of the Union line, taunting them and somebody shot ‘em?”
“The same,” Bill said. “He was quite the cavalryman, put up a hell of a fight for the Confederacy. He was wounded several times in battle but kept coming back to fight.”
“Seems fitting,” MaryAnne said with a grin.
“Eh, just through holes,” Bill said. “And, I didn’t know this myself until the production folks gave me the overview on this guy, but he was friends with the family of General George S. Patton. When he visited, he would recreate Civil War battles with the young future general by playing himself and letting Patton be General Lee.”
“Bill’s quite the admirer of General Patton,” MaryAnne explained.
“Pressure makes diamonds,” Bill said.
The Dukes grinned. “Guess what goes around, comes around,” Luke said.
“Ladies and gentlemen if I may have your attention please…” the voice of Brent Dexter, the director, came through the sound system “We have a lot of filming to complete today and we’d like to get started. If those of you who are dressed as officers with rank please make your way toward the front here with your dance partner if you have one…”
Bill turned to MaryAnne. “That would be us, gorgeous,” he said, extending his arm to her. MaryAnne hooked her arm around his and they headed toward the front.
The director was looking over each couple as they came forward and he separated out certain pairs instructing them to certain positions on the dance floor. When he saw Bill and MaryAnne, he literally stopped and stared.
“Ah, Colonel Mosby,” he said with a smile. He looked at MaryAnne. “And Mrs. Mosby. You two, right here front and center. Fabulous…”
Standing in the middle, Bill and MaryAnne looked at each other.
“Can you dance the waltz?” MaryAnne asked.
“Barely,” Bill said.
“That’s about my level too. Should we tell them that? I think they’re making us a focal point for this scene.”
“Nah. We can wing it. Besides, they’ll rehearse us first.” He grinned at her. “We’ll learn fast.”
She smiled back at him. “We’re gonna have to.”
For a moment, Bill was lost as he looked at MaryAnne who was watching everything else that was going on. He didn’t hear the choreographer telling everyone that if they didn’t know how to waltz not to worry, they would get a quick and easy lesson.
“They’re gonna teach us how to waltz,” she said.
“Huh? Oh, well, like I said, we’ll learn fast.”
Learn they did. Bill tried not to be nervous as he took MaryAnne into his embrace for the first time. When had he last danced? He wasn’t sure he could remember…
MaryAnne at the same time was trying to keep her own nervous feeling in check. Being pressed close to him, feeling his arm around the small of her back was a wonderful feeling. She prayed she didn’t trip on her dress, or on his feet, or on her own feet…
Following the instructions of the choreographer, Bill and MaryAnne were soon moving together in time with the music. The nervousness began to subside as they moved confidently with each other. The choreographer was pleased.
They grinned at each other like kids. “See?” Bill said. “What’d I tell ya?”
“You said you weren’t much of a dancer.”
“I’m not. Except…with the right partner…” Just saying the words put butterflies in his stomach.
MaryAnne blushed. Being so close to him made it hard to avoid his gaze and she only managed to look away when the choreographer called for everyone to stop and to be placed in new positions.
Filming went on into the late afternoon. Bo and Luke had no problem finding dance partners and Daisy paired up with Cooter. At one point, Bill and MaryAnne were specifically filmed showing them entering the ballroom together.
Although he had no speaking lines, Bill was asked to stay for the evening shoot since he was Colonel Mosby and the Colonel and other officers were being honored at a dinner. MaryAnne was asked to stay too, since she was pretty much playing Colonel Mosby’s wife.
Bill turned to her, knowing she was going to say something about having to work at the Boar’s Nest.
“Uh, well, I—“ she started.
“MaryAnne, I think the Boar’s Nest can survive one night without you,” Bill said.
The assistant director was understanding, however. “If you have another obligation…”
“You really want to see Joey that bad?” Bill asked.
“Ugh, absolutely not.”
Bill grinned at the assistant director. “She’ll be staying.”
The assistant director smiled. “Mr. Dexter will be happy to hear to that. Since it’s a dinner scene, you get a free meal out of it anyway.”
“Well, that’s a plus,” MaryAnne said. “I’m starved.”
“Great. I’ll let Mr. Dexter know.” The assistant left.
Bill looked at MaryAnne.
“Guess I’m staying,” she said.
“Good.” He smiled.
“Let me go tell Daisy so she doesn’t wonder where I’m at.”
Bill nodded. He watched MaryAnne walk away, the sweep of her dress a gentle sway as she moved.
Watch it, Maxwell…
He was watching. All of her.
No, silly. Watch what you’re doing. You’re not supposed to be sticking around Atlanta for long, remember? Don’t be thinking what you’re thinking…
He sighed. But dancing with her and holding her close had felt so wonderful. It had been so long since….
A moment’s despair came over him. He realized MaryAnne was gone from his view. His time in Atlanta was only supposed to be for a short while. He knew he shouldn’t be thinking what he was thinking. If things continued on, eventually he would have to say goodbye.
It was like opening a curtain in an empty, lonely room to let in the sun. No matter how stark, how empty, how lonely the room, the power of the sun, the warmth and light, made it more welcoming. To block it out seemed cruel.
MaryAnne was sunlight shining into the loneliest room in Bill’s heart. Even if it turned out to only be for a short while, how could he block it out? How could he turn away now? He couldn’t.
He wanted her. He wanted her in his life.
He wanted her in that lonely room in his heart.
He wanted her in that empty place in his bed…
He felt the blood go to his feet with that thought. He sighed and realized he was still standing in the same spot, staring blankly in the direction MaryAnne had disappeared in. He snapped out his thoughts and walked over to a nearby table to sit down.
MaryAnne, meanwhile, was looking for Daisy. She found her standing with Cooter.
“Hey, MaryAnne!” Daisy said. “You and Bill looked great when they had you do the entrance.”
“Thanks, Daisy,” MaryAnne said and couldn’t help her smile. “Listen, they’ve asked Bill to stay for the filming tonight and they want me to stay too.”
“Aww. Joey’s gonna miss you.”
“Yeah, well, life’s just full of disappointments isn’t it?” MaryAnne chuckled. “Anyway, just wanted to let you know so you wouldn’t wonder where I was.”
Daisy smiled. “Ok, MaryAnne. But to be honest, sugar, if I didn’t see you at the Boar’s Nest and I didn’t see Bill, I would’ve figured something out.”
MaryAnne blushed “Hey, c’mon now…”
Daisy giggled “Have fun, MaryAnne. I’ll see ya tomorrow. You’re still coming with us to Atlanta, right?”
“Good. See ya then!”
MaryAnne turned and headed back to where she left Bill. She realized she was hurrying and slowed down.
Yeah, what are you hurrying for? What are you thinking? Seriously?
But it was nice being held by him and dancing.
So what? He ain’t sticking around, remember? This goes any further, then he’s going to say goodbye and where will you be? Right back where you started.
MaryAnne slowed to a stop amongst the dining tables that surrounded the dance floor.
Yeah, you’re all happy now when you see him but when he’s gone so’s that. Then you’ll be miserable. You were better off when you didn’t pay any attention…
MaryAnne placed a hand on a chair to steady herself.
Rosco’s right. Maxwell’s no good for ya. And what happens when Bill finds out just how far out of “practice” you are. Think he’s going to have the patience for that?
Her head felt light. She drew a deep breath, trying to fight back the nausea and the discouraging thoughts in her mind.
She looked up, thinking she had heard Bill’s voice. She didn’t see him with all the other people in around the tables.
Suddenly he was beside her, holding her up as the edge of her vision darkened. She couldn’t see anything, barely realized she was being helped into a chair and could only hear the loud tinging noise in her ears.
“…hang on, kid…”
Somebody was holding her hand. Her head rolled back and light flooded back to her eyes. She opened them, looking straight up to the high ceiling of the ball room and the overhead lights.
She opened her mouth to draw a deep breath. The nausea started to fade. She looked around, seeing a crowd had gathered and saw Bill kneeling next to her. It was him holding her hand.
“Easy, sweetheart. I think you got a little faint there…”
She nodded. “Yeah…”
Still holding her hand, he placed his other upon her face to feel for a fever. She was cool to the touch.
“I’ll be ok,” she said. “Just let me sit here for a minute…”
MaryAnne’s fainting spell didn’t go unnoticed and someone had caught the attention of the medics. A couple of medics came through the crowd to check on MaryAnne. Bill remained close by as they did a quick check of vitals and asked MaryAnne some questions.
“Have you eaten today?”
“Not since this morning,” she admitted.
“What time was that?”
“About six o’clock.”
“You didn’t have lunch?” Bill asked.
“No. I came straight here from the courthouse because they had to do the fitting for the gown. I didn’t have time to stop for lunch.”
“Well, your blood pressure and pulse are fine but your blood sugar may be a little low. Best thing for you to do is eat,” the medic told her.
“No argument here.”
The medic looked at Bill. “It’ll be a little while before they have the dinner ready. But the snack truck is outside, best thing you can get her is some peanut butter crackers.”
“Will do.” Bill looked at MaryAnne. “You stay put. I’ll be right back.”
MaryAnne wasn’t going anywhere. She thanked the medics for their assistance and the two young men headed back to their staging area. The crowd around MaryAnne started to disburse although a few hung by until Bill returned with the crackers.
MaryAnne was fine after she ate and the evening carried on without another hitch. She pushed aside the discouraging thoughts she had and instead just enjoyed the moment, and the meal, with Bill. Being with him did make her happy, what was the sense in fighting it?
It was after 11pm when filming finally wrapped up. MaryAnne changed out of her evening gown and back into her deputy’s uniform. Not only had she not had time for lunch, she hadn’t had time to change into civilian clothes either.
Out in the parking lot, Bill waited by MaryAnne’s car. It hadn’t taken him long to shed the Confederate uniform and return to his modern day civilian attire. He leaned against the front left fender of Maverick and watched the exit of the building for MaryAnne. Other extras were walking out and moving through the parking lot.
She emerged a few minutes later, her police uniform informal with no necktie, the top button of her shirt left undone and her jacket and gun belt draped over her arm. Her hair was combed out and loose.
Despite her weariness, she smiled seeing him. “Hey…”
He smiled back. She still looked gorgeous. “I want to make sure you get home okay,” he said. “You’re pretty well flamed out, sweetheart, I can tell.”
“I’m exhausted,” she admitted. “I’ll get a few hours’ sleep tonight and be right back up at five-thirty tomorrow morning.”
“Then let’s get your home. I’ll follow you.”
MaryAnne stepped past him to get to the door. He moved behind her to hold the door open while she put her jacket and gun belt in the backseat. She paused to turn to him.
“I, um…I had fun,” she said.
He smiled. “I did too…”
She hesitated another moment, like she was going to say something or do something. Bill was close enough to her to reach for her and before he knew, he was.
MaryAnne felt his arm around the small of her back and his body draw closer to hers. There was a moment’s resistance, that almost ingrained response to flee, but then she remembered how it felt dancing with him. Feeling that way again, she opened her arms and held him.
Neither of them said anything and they stood like that for all of maybe five seconds before somebody hollered, “Hey you two, get a room!”
MaryAnne broke from Bill’s embrace, suddenly uncomfortable. Bill let her go and silently cursed the jerk who had spoken up. He looked at her with apology.
She shook her head and turned, getting behind the wheel of Maverick. Bill closed the door for her and she rolled her window down.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Forget it,” she replied, with a shake of her head. She started Maverick’s engine and pulled the lights on.
“Um, listen, don’t drive too fast now,” he said, “I don’t want to lose you.”
She glanced up at him. “I won’t.”
He gave a nod and headed for his Grand Prix, parked across the way. MaryAnne watched him, still feeling the ghosting feel of his body pressed closed to hers.
When the box taillights of Bill’s Grand Prix lit up, she pulled forward. The two cars exited the parking lot and headed for the main road back to Hazzard.
As promised, MaryAnne didn’t drive too fast. She was too tired to anyway. It wasn’t long before they reached Hazzard and the dirt roads to the Coltrane homestead. MaryAnne signaled to turn and pulled into the drive way.
Bill pulled up to the end of the drive and waited. He watched for her to exit the car, collect her jacket and gun belt, and saw her walk up to the porch. She paused under the light and turned, waving to him.
He flashed his headlights. She then disappeared into the house.
He lingered at the end of the driveway. He felt better that she was home safe, but that brief moment holding her….he would’ve liked to have done it again. But there was another car in the driveway, a white Plymouth Fury police car that probably wasn’t MaryAnne’s. Bill saw a shadow in the front window, that was definitely not hers either.
He sighed trying to curb his longing and finally drove away to head back to his motel room. He too would only get a few hours of sleep before getting up early to start all over again.
In the house, Rosco let the front window curtain fall back into place. “Who followed you home?”
“Rosco, it was a very long day and he just wanted to make sure I got home okay. I’m very tired.”
“I’m not arguing with you now about this. I’ve gotta get some sleep, you have a midnight patrol to do.”
Rosco let it go and nodded. “I’m glad you’re home safe,” he said.
MaryAnne gave a nod, acknowledging the cease fire for this round. “Good night, Rosco,” she said and headed for the stairs where Bandit met up with her.