By the time they got back to Hazzard, Bill was feeling better enough to drive on his own. It was about nine-thirty and since MaryAnne had the night off from the Boar’s Nest, he had her drive to her house to drop her off. MaryAnne pulled into the drive of the Coltrane homestead and put the car in park.
“You sure you’re feeling ok?” she asked.
“I’m a lot better than I was when we left Atlanta.” He looked at her. “You’re off from the Boar’s Nest I take it?”
“Yeah. The place should be pretty well empty tonight with everybody down in Atlanta.”
“Including Joey,” Bill said. “Better he’s down there and not up here trying to harass you.”
MaryAnne chuckled. “Yeah, I saw him.”
“He didn’t see you, did he?”
“No. He had other things to look at. Three of them.”
“He’s a pig.”
MaryAnne chuckled. “I’ll second that. Listen, I’ll let the Dukes know what you told me about why you wanted us all out of there so badly.”
“Ok.” Bill paused. “I’m sure our departure didn’t go unnoticed and it’s possible I’ve compromised myself.” He looked at her. “Be careful, ok? I don’t know if what I know and saw today is enough to convince a judge to issue a search warrant but I’m going to see if Matt can get one as soon as possible.”
MaryAnne nodded. “Ok.” She watched Bill as he was quiet for a long moment. “What’s wrong?”
“I keep hearing that girl screaming and crying. I didn’t see her, I don’t know where she was but I could hear her. I can only imagine what they were doing to her, that’s bad enough.”
“Hopefully she’s okay.”
“Hopefully,” he said. “Hopefully she didn’t end up like Jacy Thomas.” He looked at her. “MaryAnne, when this is all over, promise me one thing?”
“Don’t go chasing after a Hollywood dream.”
“I won’t. Never wanted to anyway.”
“Good. I mean, if you ever want to go to LA, I’ll take ya. It’s not all a bad place. But if you’re going to go roaming around Los Angeles, you’ll need a tour guide and I’m the best one ya got.” He grinned.
MaryAnne smiled. “You’d be my first choice,” she said. “I’ll see ya later…”
**** **** ****
When he returned to the motel, Bill found the parking lot mostly empty as expected. He went to his room, deposited his keys on the nightstand and picked up the phone.
He dialed Matt Franklin in Atlanta and told him what he had seen at the party and what he found in Fehr’s study, including the evidence that Jacy possibly was killed there.
“How’d you manage to sneak into the study?” Matt asked.
“You don’t want to know. The thing is, there’s a shipment that either came or went today. Fehr had an envelope of cash in the drawer and he had met with Nelson during this party. You’ll want to see how Commander Mayson wants us to proceed at this point. Getting warrants might be a bit thin. Catching them with the goods would be better.”
“Yeah. No idea on the shipment? Where it is?”
“No. I doubt he’s got it at the house but I think some of the guys who help move it may be there.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Something I heard one of the stunt guys say to the production manager a couple of days ago. Something about Friday being the big one.”
“He would know of it then. Where’s this guy now?”
“He’s at the party. Half the people on this movie are at the party.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m back in Hazzard. I wasn’t feeling so well after looking around the study.”
“Did anybody see you?”
“Yeah. The production manager caught me in the study. He didn’t find me snooping, he just found me standing there like a drunk idiot. I managed to smooth talk my way out but I dunno if it took.”
Matt paused. “You think he’s involved with the shipments?”
“He’s Fehr’s right hand man, I’d wager he is.”
“Ok, let me get a hold of Mayson and find out what he wants to do next. You’re at the motel?”
“Ok, I’ll get back to you.”
Bill hung up with Matt and got up off the bed. He grabbed a fresh change of clothes and headed for the shower.
After the shower and change of clothes, Bill felt a little more refreshed. He sat on the motel room bed and added some notes to his file about what he had seen and heard at Fehr’s party. Around 10:30, the phone rang.
“Mayson wants you to come back to Atlanta pronto. He’s sending Kenny and Daugherty to the house to watch until you and I get there. He wants us to watch who comes and goes. He suspects the shipment is somewhere in Atlanta right now waiting to be moved. Meet me at the 11th street parking garage. You got a radio in that car you’re driving?”
“Ok. We’ll set frequencies when you get here. Oh, one more thing.”
“That evidence you found? Mayson wants you to give it to MaryAnne to hold.”
In case something happens…? It made sense though. She knew the whole story of how he found it. “Will do.”
“Ok, I’ll see you in a while.”
Bill hung up. He stood up and felt in the pocket of his black shirt, finding the diamond earring was safely tucked in there. He grabbed his jacket and keys and left the motel room.
He drove back to the Coltrane homestead. Rosco answered the door.
“I need to talk to MaryAnne, Sheriff. It’s important.”
Rosco gave Bill a wary look but turned toward the living room, letting MaryAnne know it was Bill. A moment later she was at the door and Rosco faded back to the living room.
MaryAnne stepped out onto the porch.
“I have to go back,” Bill said.
“Bill, you’re not going back to that party?”
“No. I’m going back to see if Fehr tries to move anything tonight.” He fished into his shirt pocket. “Commander Mayson wants me to give this to you to hold.” He handed the earring to her.
“You’re not going back there to do this alone are you?”
“Couple guys from the bureau and Detective Franklin will be with me. Don’t lose that.”
MaryAnne closed her hand around the jewelry. “I won’t. You be careful. Please.”
He smiled at her concern. “Hey, come on, this is me you’re talking to.”
“I know…” Thus her concern. Shoot outs, collapsing barns – yeah, she knew. She met his gaze under the old porch light and managed to hold it for a moment, keeping the urge to look away at bay.
Bill read her expression and wished instead he was sticking around to sit with her on her country porch. His smile didn’t fade though. “MaryAnne, I promise. I’ll be fine. I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?”
He gave her arm a reassuring touch and turned, stepping off the porch. MaryAnne lingered on the porch until the taillights of his Grand Prix disappeared down the road.
**** **** ****
Back in Atlanta, Bill pulled his Grand Prix into the parking garage at 11th Street. The garage was mostly empty and Bill spotted Franklin’s Buick backed into a spot at the end of the first row, the yellow parking lamps aglow.
Bill pulled up beside the Buick where Matt was waiting with his window down. Bill rolled down his window.
“Hey,” Matt greeted. “Commander Maryson’s not very happy with you.”
“Because I left?”
Bill figured as much. “I had to get the Dukes and MaryAnne out of that house, plus I think my cover is blown anyway.”
Matt was suddenly alert. “MaryAnne was there?”
“Not for long. She had no idea what was going on in that house. The Dukes neither and I didn’t care to have any of them find out.”
“And your cover?”
“Peter Nelson recognized me.”
“Damn, I wish you had told me that, I’d have explained that to Mayson.”
“Don’t worry about the Commander, I’ll explain it all later.”
Matt nodded. “Hygate and Daugherty are watching the place now. Nobody’s left since they got there. Radios are set to channel 61.”
Bill nodded. He radio was shoved under the front seat of the car and he reached down to pull out the handheld. He adjusted it to channel 61 and looked at Matt. “Ok, let’s go.”
“Lead the way.”
A moment later, the two black cars crept out of the parking garage and blended into the night, heading toward Buckhead.
It was near quarter to one in the morning and cars still lined the street in front of the house Fehr was renting. The half circle driveway was also still lined with cars. The house was set far enough back from the road that the noise from the party was minimal and was otherwise muted by the thick cluster of trees that hugged the property.
Bill pulled into an empty spot just before the exit of the driveway. Franklin pulled up ahead and parked in the spot Bill had been parked in earlier, after the driveway exit. The four lawmen did a quick radio check with each other and then things were quiet.
It was a half an hour before a car left the party.
“I see headlights,” Matt radioed.
“Stand by,” Bill replied. He too saw the lights between the cars and trees of the front of the property. At the end of the drive Bill saw a cream colored flank from the gate light. When the car pulled into the road going away from Bill, he recognized the taillights of Joey’s Chrysler.
“That’s Joey. He’s worth following,” Bill said into the radio.
Matt lowered himself down in his seat as the car passed him. When it passed, he peered up and made out someone in the passenger seat. “He’s not alone either.”
“Matt, you and I follow,” Bill said. “Kenny? You and Daugherty keep a watch for anyone else leaving.”
Bill started the Grand Prix and pulled into the street. He kept his lights off not wanting to catch the attention of Joey in a rearview mirror. The Chrysler was paused at the intersection.
After Bill passed Matt pulled out behind him, keeping the Buick’s lights off. The two cars tailed the Chrysler and stayed far enough back to not be spotted. They rounded through neighborhood streets and then came to a main road.
“Northside Drive,” Matt said over the radio. “Heading south.”
Now that they were on a main road, Bill had no choice but to put lights on. Matt did too and the two cars continued to hang back.
Traffic was light at this hour. A car hanging a distance back wasn’t unusual and Joey didn’t think much of the headlights behind him. It was no different than the previous Friday pickups.
It was a couple of miles before Northside opened up to four lanes. It was obvious as well that they were beyond the manicured lawns and multimillion dollar houses of Buckhead. Empty commercial properties dotted this stretch of the road.
The tail lights of the Chrysler lit up and Bill slowed. The Chrysler pulled into an empty store lot, a large FOR LEASE sign hanging out front. The car disappeared around the back of the building.
Bill pulled over to the side street that was directly across the empty store front. Matt swung up the side street that was next to the property to try to see the back of the building.
He couldn’t see much, but the car was there, brake lights blazing. Matt pulled up, out of sight and stopped, shutting his lights off.
Joey’s car was idle for less than 30 seconds. It backed out around the building again and returned to Northside Drive, continuing south toward downtown Atlanta.
Bill turned his Grand Prix around in a U turn and came out onto Northside Drive, turning his lights on.
Joey glanced in his rearview mirror and saw the car coming on to the road, the lights coming on just as it did so. Finding that odd, Joey continued at an easy cruise but hardly kept his eyes off the mirror.
In the passenger seat, Dale noticed Joey’s extra interest in the mirror. “What’s wrong?”
“Dunno. Might have a tail. Guy pulled out and didn’t have his lights on.”
“Maybe he forgot.”
“Maybe. Let’s take a scenic route and find out.”
While Bill continued to tail Joey, Matt pulled around and into the empty store lot Joey and Dale had just been at. “Keep with them, Bill, I’ll check out the building.”
Bill stayed with Joey, following a good distance back. When the Chrysler took a right hand turn to another road, Bill sped up a little. He reached the road and turned.
The taillights of the Chrysler were gone.
“Damn…” Bill let the Grand Prix creep along the road and he looked around. The road was poorly lit with dark empty buildings spread out on the route. Joey could have been anywhere.
Joey had backed his car into an empty lot, all the way back, hidden by the night’s shadow. He and Dale watched the Grand Prix roll by and Joey recognized the two box taillights.
“The hell? That looks like Bill Alexander’s car,” he said.
“Only his name isn’t Bill Alexander,” Dale said grimly. “It’s Bill Maxwell and he’s a Fed.”
“A Fed?! Shit! When’d you find this out?”
“Earlier tonight. I set him up with Mandy.”
“What’s he still doing walking upright? We gotta take him out.”
“We can’t do it now, not with the load we’re carrying. We gotta git this stuff to the drop point and get back to the party.”
“He knows this is my car.”
“Doesn’t matter. He hasn’t caught you doing anything wrong and he won’t. We won’t catch any of us. I plan to take care of him during tomorrow’s filming.”
Joey chuckled. “During the last battle scene?”
Dale didn’t answer. Instead, he just started to whistle The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Joey grinned and put the Chrysler in drive, pulling back out to the road and disappearing into the night.
While Bill was getting himself lost in an area he didn’t know, Matt wasn’t finding anything at the empty building Joey and Dale had stopped at first. Nothing had been left behind and it didn’t look like the building had been entered at all. The windows were boarded up and the back door was still secured in place, with a pad lock on it.
Matt returned to this car and picked up his radio. “How you doing, Bill?”
“Awful. I lost ‘em.”
“They spot you?”
“Yeah, I think they got spooked.”
“Where are you?”
“Damned if I know. I’m gonna turn around here and see if I can find my way back…”
Matt heard Bill curse before the transmission ended. Agent Maxwell was not having very good luck tonight it seemed.
It took Bill a bit to find his way back to Northside Drive, but he did. He headed north and spotted Franklin’s Buick waiting at the empty building. He pulled in.
“What now?” Matt asked.
“What else? Go home. With tails tucked. They’ve made the drop by now and are probably on their way back to the party with a whole lot of cash.”
“How’s he getting the stuff in to Atlanta? Who’s bringing it in?”
“I suspect that’s Nelson’s end of it.”
“That makes Fehr what? A dealer? How does a bad actor and seedy movie producer get mixed up in that kind of stuff?”
“Money. And if I had known, I’ve paid better attention. He’s gotta be funneling cash through the movie production for it. I figured there was some fraud going on but I’ve been more interested in finding a killer.”
“It could all be related,” Matt said. “If Jacy saw something she shouldn’t have or threatened to go to the cops.”
“Yeah but even that doesn’t make sense. Matt, they should have got rid of her. I mean got rid of her. These guys are in too deep to have her be found in a back alley plain as day.”
“But we couldn’t ID her right away. If it wasn’t for the ex-boyfriend filing a missing persons report, she’d still be a jane doe sitting in the morgue.”
Bill paused. “Yeah… there’s something funny about that too. The boyfriend’s been telling different people different stories.”
“Well, when he asked the Dukes to take him into Hazzard to file the report, he told them he had spoken to Jacy’s mother. Yet, when he filed the report, he said he had no contact information for her parents because she wasn’t getting along with them.”
“Which is pretty well true.”
“Yeah. But why did he lie to the Dukes? Why not just say, ‘I haven’t talked to her folks because I don’t know how to reach them. Jacy doesn’t get along with them.’ Not an unusual response.”
Matt nodded. “True…”
“There’s another thing. He told them that he hadn’t seen her all that weekend and was worried about her. When I talked to him he said he knew Jacy was staying in Atlanta that weekend because she was having a fling with Fehr.”
Matt narrowed his eyes. “Something’s not right.”
“Damn right something’s not right. I think he knows more than he’s saying. I’ll even take bets that he knew Jacy was already dead when he filed the report.”
Matt was surprised. “You think he killed her? But what motive would he have?”
“She dumped him for the producer. The classic text book jilted lover.”
“But she was killed in Atlanta, at Fehr’s house based on what you found. He wasn’t at the party, he wasn’t even in Atlanta that weekend.”
“That we know of,” Bill said. “We haven’t really checked his story, had no reason to until now. There’s something there, Matt. I can’t explain it, I can’t prove anything but there’s something.”
“So what are you gonna do? Go back north to the movie? Bill, if Fehr and his boys suspect you’re the law, they’re gonna be waiting for you!”
“Then that makes me the lynchpin that can blow the lid off this whole thing. If I don’t show up, they’ll know for sure and they’ll circle the wagons. If I show up all sweet and innocent, then they’ll scramble to figure out what to do with me.”
“They’ll kill you, that’s what they’ll do! And they won’t botch it like they did with Jacy.”
“Not if I’m careful.”
“I have to go back, kid. If they saw me leave the party with the Dukes and MaryAnne and I don’t show up tomorrow, they may question them or worse. I have to stay visible, if they’re looking for a target, they’re gonna have to settle for me.”
Matt sighed. “Awright. But I’m going north with you and check out the boyfriend’s story and hope that as long as there’s another cop roaming around it’ll keep them from trying to do anything stupid, like nailing you!”
**** **** ****
When sunlight broke over the field in Hazzard, hundreds of extras in Union and Confederate uniforms were already roaming about. A light dew had settled on the grass and the cannons stood silent and waiting. The sounds of voices mixed with the clattering of horse tack, swords and gear that rattled as men and animals moved around the field.
Mounted atop his black quarter horse and dressed in his Confederate uniform, Bill waited and watched. After getting back to Hazzard around 4am and then having to report for this morning’s filming at 5am, Bill was trying hard not to fall asleep in the saddle.
He closed his eyes for only a moment. He was exhausted but his mind wouldn’t stop replaying events from the previous afternoon and evening. Then within the chaos of his thoughts, MaryAnne came to him, unobtrusive and welcomed. The only thing that seemed to make sense to him.
Apache shifted slightly underneath him. Bill opened his eyes and noticed two riders approaching him.
It was Bo and Luke. Luke carried a Styrofoam cup in hand with a wisp of steam coming from it.
“Mornin’,” Luke said. “You look like you could use this.” He handed Bill the cup of coffee.
“I could, thank ya.” Bill accepted the cup and raised it to take a sniff first. The aroma was strong and much needed. He took a sip, finding it was straight black. The best way to have it.
“Thanks,” he said again.
The boys smiled. “We wanted to thank ya for getting Daisy and MaryAnne out of that party yesterday,” Luke said. “MaryAnne told us why.”
Bill nodded. He then tried to stifle a yawn with no success and shook his head, to keep awake. “Sorry about that.”
“You look beat,” Bo observed.
“I had to go back to Atlanta,” Bill said. “Do some detective work. I didn’t get back here ‘til about 4am.”
“You didn’t go back to that party did you?” Luke asked.
Bill shook his head. “Not inside, no.”
“Any luck?” Bo asked.
“Unfortunately, no. It was a very bad night.”
**** **** ****
An early morning knock on his door wasn’t unusual but when Mike Blake opened his motel door he was surprised by his visitor.
It was Dale Kingston.
Mike was confused. “Dale?”
“Since you did such a wonderful job taking care of Jacy, you’re gonna help me take care of that Fed.” To reinforce his point, Dale waved a gun at Mike.
“Fed?” Mike said. “What are you talking about?”
“Colonel Mosby is a Fed. He’s getting too close to things, which he wouldn’t be if Jacy had been property disposed of.”
Mike eyed the gun and nodded. “Yeah…ok…” He stepped carefully out of the motel room and closed the door, walking with Dale to Dale’s car.
**** **** ****
Detective Franklin found a place to park his Buick with the other cars across the road from the field where the war battle scenes were being filmed. It was approaching 7am and the sun was blazing the new day. He wandered through the gathered extras and re-enactors looking for Michael Blake. Consistently, he kept getting the same answer; nobody had seen him.
Even the Dukes and Cooter hadn’t seen him yet that morning. “Kind of unusual,” Bo said. “He’s usually here by now.”
Franklin eventually came upon Bill, still on horseback.
“I know,” Bill said. “I’ve been looking for him too, haven’t seen ‘em. May be coincidence. Maybe not.”
The morning’s filming got underway a little while later. Through the morning, a haze from the smoke of the muskets hung over the field and the boom of the cannons punctuated the morning air. A crowd had gathered to watch the filming, as one had just about every day battle scenes were shot in the field. With the Duke farm only a couple of miles away, Uncle Jesse and Daisy had heard the distant boom of the cannons. Daisy convinced Jesse to take a break for a while from the farm chores to go watch the filming. Jesse had admitted a mild interest in seeing the filming but had been pretty set on getting the farm work done. It didn’t take much for Daisy to convince him.
They drove up in Daisy’s Jeep and parked in the field on the other side of the road where extras, re-enactors and movie crew members had parked their cars. The field was full of cars. However, once they crossed the road and looked toward the field where filming was taking place, it was like stepping back into time.
Uncle Jesse was so struck by the sight, he removed his red hunting cap. The scene was rolling. Union and Confederate fighters lay “dead” in the field, while a band of Rebel soldiers were regrouping, rounded up by a Confederate officer on a black horse, his sword waving in the air. Cannon fire boomed.
The Confederate officer reared his horse around, yelling to the soldiers. Muskets were raised up and the rag tag group of men waited for the order. A handful of other Confederate soldiers on horseback came up behind the group. The officer turned his horse forward and hollered “charge!”
A roar swelled up from the fighters and the group pushed forward, charging into the field after the Yankee soldiers, who fired back from their position on a knoll. Blue coated fighters charged down over the knoll, on foot and on horseback. Muskets fired. Men on both sides fell.
It was chaos that went on for several minutes. Cameras rolled along trolley tracks following along with men who were running into the charge. There was hand to hand combat, the firing of pistols and the impaling of bayonets.
Down the road from Jesse and Daisy, MaryAnne was watching the scene. She had brought field glasses with her and had been able to pick out the Dukes and Bill amongst the field of men. She smiled to herself seeing Bill turn the horse on the field and leading the Rebels into the battle.
Clouds of smoke from the cannon fire billowed over the field. Voices yelled and muskets cracked in volleys.
On the road, above where Jesse and Daisy were watching things, Rosco pulled his patrol car over. Having the morning patrol during filming had been welcomed as it allowed him to stop and watch the battle scenes be done.
Also watching the scene was Dale Kingston, only he wasn’t on the sidelines. Dale had found himself a Confederate soldier’s uniform and was at that moment in the field with the hundreds of other extras. He was unrecognizable under a wig of long hair and full fake beard. Like everybody else he carried a musket and a pistol with one exception.
He had live ammunition.
He hung back from the main charge, as did some others, firing his musket on occasion in the air. He kept an eye on Bill riding the black stallion and moved up closer to the battle.
One of the camera assistants was signaling to Bill to turn around and make another pass for the camera. Bill turned his horse around, doubled back and swung around in a half circle. He paused with sword raised in the air and was a wide open target.
Dale was less than 15 yards away from Bill. He raised his pistol in the air pointing toward the battle, then changing the trajectory just enough to aim at Bill and fired off a shot.
Bill no more than kicked the flanks of his horse when he jerked in the saddle with the sudden pain in his side. He lowered his arm with the sword and the horse shot forward but then screamed with the pull on the reins. Bill tried to hang on and stay in the saddle but something was terribly wrong and he fell from the animal.
To the uninitiated, it looked like it was supposed to be part of the scene. Hardly anybody thought anything was remiss at first. But the cameramen filming him knew something was wrong and there was frantic signaling coming from the line.
An air horn sounded, like what would blast from the stands at football game, which called for everyone to stop what they were doing. A couple members of the film crew kneeled down by Bill and it was then MaryAnne realized something was wrong. She took off into the field, running hell bent through the remains of the battle scene.
Bo and Luke both saw her, unaware of what had just happened. They looked to where she was running to and saw Bill’s black stallion standing off a ways, riderless. They then saw Bill on the ground.
The boys each kicked their mounts and galloped across the field, riding up behind MaryAnne just as she reached Bill.
“Bill?! Bill!” MaryAnne pushed between two other people to get to him, kneeling down beside him. She touched a hand to side of Bill’s face. “Bill?”
In the spinning confusion and pain, Bill registered MaryAnne’s voice and the touch of her hand on his face. He turned his head toward her hand and his eyes opened wearily.
What he saw was a blur but she was there. “Mar—“ his voice caught. He raised his left hand toward her, not believing she was there.
“Shh, easy Bill…” She took his hand giving it a squeeze and lowering it down easily. “Save your strength. Stay with me, help is coming…” MaryAnne looked up at the crew members. “Is there a medic?” she asked.
Releasing his hand she started unbuttoning Bill’s uniform long coat.
Bo and Luke, meanwhile, remained on their mounts and were looking around the field. The commotion around Bill was drawing everybody toward this section of the field or folks were otherwise remaining put. Except for one lone figure that was hurrying away…
Bo spotted him. “Luke!”
Luke looked and saw it too. “Let’s go get him!” The two Dukes took off on their horses across the field.
From the road, Rosco saw MaryAnne go running across the field. He was about to run down into the field himself to find out what happened when he saw the two riders suddenly racing across the field. He didn’t recognize the two Dukes at first but realized they were heading after a man who was walking quickly back to the road. The Duke boys’ hollering alerted the man and he glanced behind him then suddenly took off into a run.
That was all Rosco needed to see. He started down into the field to try to cut the suspect off.
Dale took a wild shot toward Rosco, sending the Sheriff flinching for cover, of which there was none. Dale then swung around and squeeze off two shots toward the Dukes, causing them to rear up their horses, breaking the pursuit temporarily. Dale continued running and hit the road.
He reached his car that had been parked along the side and yanked the passenger door open, jumping in. Dust billowed from the back tires as the car took off.
Rosco climbed back up to the road and ran to his patrol car. Bo and Luke continued their pursuit on horseback, bringing their animals up to the dirt road and following after Rosco as the patrol car took off.
Back in the field Bill blinked, trying to focus his vision on MaryAnne. She cleared for a moment and he saw the beauty and concern of her features. She worked quickly, removing his gun belt and saber holder then opening the long coat.
The pain in his side was searing and it hurt to breathe. All the same, he didn’t want her to worry. “Eh, it’s…just…a through hole…”
She unbuttoned his uniform vest. A patch of red was already seeping through. “Yeah,” she said, unconvinced. “Just a through hole. Medics are coming, Bill, they’ll get you all patched up. You’re gonna be okay.” She wanted to believe that especially as she opened the vest and saw the wound on his side.
His vision started to blur again. Bill could feel MaryAnne working over him and there was comfort in the touch. If she was to be the last thing he ever saw, he was okay with that…
MaryAnne saw he was starting to fade. “Bill? You hear me? You’ll be okay. Stay with me, Bill. Will you stay with me?”
“Yeah….gorgeous…I’ll stay…” He looked in her general direction, his gaze unfocused, but there was an odd smile upon his face. For the rest of my life…
After untucking his shirt, she turned to him and held his head in both of her hands. Although she kept an outward calm appearance, inside MaryAnne was shaken and distraught. The thought of Bill dying here and now, upsetting enough, was much more upsetting for MaryAnne. If he went, she’d never have the chance to…
To what? she thought to herself bitterly, to get involved with someone who isn’t supposed to stick around? But I don’t want to lose him like this!
“Bill?” she said urgently, searching his bleary gaze. “Bill, stay with me…please…”
He swallowed, willing his voice to work one more time. “Babe…”
One word. It was all he could muster to cover everything that he suddenly wanted to say; to convey the feelings he had for her that he hadn’t spoken of, to wonder if the feelings he thought she had for him that she was too afraid to express…was it all too late…?
Medics were rushing up around MaryAnne. She suddenly felt herself be pulled gently but firmly away from Bill. As her hands left his head, his eyes closed and he slumped to one side.
MaryAnne was barely aware of the supportive arms that were lifting her to her feet and gently pulling her back from Bill so the medics could work. She just stared at him lying there, near lifeless, praying for him to be okay.
When she could no longer see him, blocked by the medics that surrounded him and worked swiftly on him, MaryAnne looked around in a daze having been unaware that a crowd had gathered. She then turned to see who was holding her up.
It was Cooter, who had silently witnessed everything between her and Bill. There was a shine in her eyes that she quickly tried to blink away.
“You ok?” he asked.
MaryAnne drew a breath to steel herself. “Yeah, fine,” she said. She wasn’t but she’d sort that out later. As it was, she was standing there in uniform and as a deputy Sheriff of Hazzard County, she had a job to do. “Cooter, did you see anything?”
Cooter shook his head. “No. I was at the front of the field. I didn’t realize anythin’ was wrong until the air horn sounded. I did see Bo and Luke though, go chasin’ after somebody.” He looked toward the road, where he’d last seen Bo and Luke heading. “I ain’t sure where they went.”
The film’s director came up to MaryAnne as crewmen were directing people away from where Bill still lay with the medics to allow the ambulance that had been parked nearby on standby to get through.
The director was mortified. “This is terrible! Nobody’s supposed to have real ammunition! Nobody!”
“Nobody except the one person who meant to bring live ammo,” MaryAnne said grimly.
The medics were moving quickly and had Bill loaded into the ambulance in no time. As soon as the rear door was closed, the ambulance pulled forward and headed for the road.
Everyone watched it drive away, MaryAnne especially looking distraught. The director then turned his attention from the leaving ambulance back to MaryAnne. “What do you mean ‘the one person who meant to bring it’?”
MaryAnne looked at the director. “Mr. Dexter, this was no accident. Your Confederate Colonel is really an undercover FBI agent.”
Dexter was stunned “My God…I-I had no idea.”
“Somebody did,” MaryAnne said. She thought of how Bill had suspected he had been compromised after the party. Damn that he had to be right. “Listen, you were filming Bill at the time he was shot, right?”
The director nodded. “Yes, yes…”
“Would you please see to it that your footage is preserved? I don’t know what you caught on film, but you may have caught the guilty party.”
Dexter nodded. “Of course, absolutely.”
MaryAnne turned to Cooter. “You said you saw the boys going after someone?”
“Yeah. I’m guessing they’re still givin’ chase because I don’t see them ‘round here.”
“I saw ‘em too,” somebody in a Union uniform said. “Two rebel riders and a sheriffs car on the road, chasing after someone.”
A Sheriff’s car? That’s gotta be Rosco. Thank God… “That’s gotta be Rosco, he was doing the morning patrol. He must’ve stopped to watch the filming.” She turned to Cooter. “Bo n’ Luke are likely to wear out those horses if they’re chasing cars. Do you think you can find the General and catch up to them, give Rosco some help?”
“You bet I can, MaryAnne!”
“Awright, go to it!” she said as Cooter took off across the field, running toward the road. MaryAnne looked at the Union soldier and the others who had gathered around. “Did anybody else see anything? Did anybody see who shot Bill?”
Half way across the field, Cooter met up with Daisy and Uncle Jesse.
“Cooter, what’s happened?” Jesse asked.
“Somebody shot Agent Maxwell,” Cooter said quickly and lingered only long enough to explain, “Bo, Luke n’ Rosco are chasing the guy now. I’m going to find the General to catch up. Bo n’ Luke are on horseback and probably won’t last long in the chase!” He continued on to the road, running as fast as he could.
Daisy and Jesse looked at one another in shock. “C’mon, Daisy, let’s see if we can help MaryAnne out,” Jesse said.
On the road, Bo and Luke had their horses running at full speed, but were too far behind Rosco and the suspect car to do much good.
“We’ll never catch up, Luke!” Bo said over the thunder of hoof beats.
“Maybe we can cut them off! If we cut across Miller’s Flats, we can catch them before they get to Highway 36!”
The boys broke pursuit and turned their mounts off the road, heading cross country over terrain unsuitable for a car but easy to navigate on horseback.
Rosco, meanwhile, was keeping up with the fleeing car. He wasn’t all sure what had happened back at the field, but he had a sinking feeling it was Agent Maxwell who had been shot. The way MaryAnne was running across the field…Rosco thought he heard her calling for Bill, anguished.
Although he distrusted the Fed, Rosco didn’t wish for something like this to happen. At the same time, given Maxwell’s penchant for drawing trouble upon himself, this was what Rosco feared for MaryAnne. That she would get involved with a man who was a little too ‘high risk.’
These thoughts, however, had to be pushed aside for the moment to concentrate on the pursuit. Rosco glanced in his rear view mirror and saw the Dukes were gone. This didn’t surprise him as he figured the horses either tired or pulled up lame possibly. He appreciated the Dukes trying to help but he would have rather seen the bright orange flanks of the General Lee coming up the road.
He would soon enough as Cooter was racing as fast as possible to catch up to the chase.
Rosco, meanwhile, figured he better call for some help. He picked up his CB mike.
“Enos!? Enos, you got your ears on? This is Rosco. I’m in hot pursuit and I need help!”
In town, Enos was at the Sheriff’s office waiting for MaryAnne to relieve him from desk duty. He picked up the radio mike. “I’m here, Sheriff! What’s going on?”
“Listen! There’s been a shootin’ at the movie site on Potters Road, I’m in pursuit of the suspect right now. Where are you?”
“I’m in town at the courthouse waitin’ for MaryAnne.”
Rosco grimaced. “Dang it…” He clicked the talk button. “Enos, listen, I need yer help now! I want you to get your posterior into your vee-chicle and git out here and help me catch this fella. I’m on Potters Road heading south to the junction with 36. He gets on that highway, Enos, it’s gonna be all that much harder to catch ‘em.”
“Ten-four, Sheriff! I’m on my way!” Enos put the radio mike aside and scrambled away from the booking desk, sending up a gust of papers as he ran to the doors of the booking room.
“Breaker one, breaker one! Crazy Cooter tryin’ to find your back door, Rosco. I’m probably a mile or so behind ya, tryin’ to catch up as fast as I can!”
“Yer not on horseback are ya, Cooter?” Rosco asked.
“Naw, but I got about 440 ponies pushing as fast as they can in the General Lee here.”
Rosco wouldn’t have admitted it, but he was relieved to hear that. “What happened to Bo n’ Luke?” he asked.
“I dunno, I ain’t come across them yet. I’ll give ‘em points for making a gallant effort to give chase on horseback but them poor animals probably pulled up lame or tired. You just stick with that fella, Rosco, and keep an eye on ‘em. I’ll letcha ya know when I’ve got ya in my sights.”
**** **** ****
As MaryAnne was talking to a couple of Union extras, Matt approached. When she finished speaking with the two men, she looked at Matt, surprised to see him and, near as Matt could tell, relieved. “Matt? What are you doing here?”
“I was up here to talk to Jacy Thomas’s boyfriend, who I have not been able to find this morning.”
“The boyfriend? The one that filed the missing persons report?”
“The same. Bill had some suspicions about him. Now I’m beginning to think he may be right.”
This tidbit surprised MaryAnne and the thought that Bill might have been close to cracking the case was now shot… she suddenly felt overwhelmed.
Matt saw this. It wasn’t like her either. She had faced harrier and scarier situations before and had always kept her wits about her. Something about the shooting of Maxwell, upsetting enough as it was, had really upset her.
“MaryAnne, I’m somewhat out of my jurisdiction here, but if the Hazzard County Sheriff’s Department would like, I’d be happy to help question the folks here this morning, see if anybody saw or heard anything before the shooting.”
MaryAnne shook off her daze. “Yes. I would appreciate that.”
Matt nodded and he turned with her to approach the lingering crowd.
**** **** ****
When Bo and Luke reached Potters Road again, they brought the horses up on the road and turned to face the direction of the chase would be coming from.
“Hopefully they won’t just try to run us over,” Bo said.
“Should slow them down at least,” Luke said. His eye was focused down the road and they could both hear the pitch of Rosco’s siren.
“Here they come,” Luke said.
In Dale’s car, Mike let up on the accelerator a bit.
“What are you slowing down for?” Dale asked.
“There’s something in the road up ahead.”
“Then go around it!”
As they sped closer, Mike could see it was two horses with riders. He laid on the horn hoping to spook the animals to move out of the way.
It worked. As they car grew closer, the horses sensed that standing in the road was a bad idea. Bo and Luke couldn’t control the animals and the horses turned, hurrying away out of the road.
Clear of the animals, Mike hit the gas more. Directly behind him, however, was Rosco was how able to catch up closer to Mike.
“The Sheriff’s close,” Dale warned.
“Yeah, I can see that.”
Back at their broken road block. Bo and Luke were about to return their horses to the road when the sound of “Dixie” rang through the air. They both looked and spotted the General Lee.
Cooter slowed to a stop. “Come on y’all! Get in!”
The boys each quickly dismounted and threw their reins around low lying tree limbs. They hurried to the General where Cooter was climbing into the back seat. Bo slid in behind the wheel and Luke was on the door of the passenger side. “Hit it, Bo!”
The General leapt forward, throwing dirt back as the tires bit into the dirt of the road and the exhaust roared. Luke slid into the seat and he turned to Cooter.
“We’re sure glad to see you!”
“Amen,” Cooter replied. “Y’all weren’t gonna get far on them horses.”
“No,” Bo agreed. “But we’re not gonna do much good to Rosco unless we catch up.”
“Well, he did call Enos so depending which way he comes there’s still a chance,” Cooter said.
“Yeah but once we hit 36, it’s a flat run,” Luke said. “The only thing we can hope for is that their car isn’t too fast.”
“Luke, did you see who was driving?” Bo said, not sure he had seen it himself.
“Yeah,” Luke said grimly. “Mike.”
“What?” Cooter said. “Mike?! Naw, he wouldn’t…”
“Maybe he wouldn’t but the other fella in the car might,” Luke said.
“I didn’t recognize him,” Bo said. “Could you?”
Enos, meanwhile, was racing down Route 36, heading toward Potters Road and hoping to beat the chase before it got to the highway.
Unfortunately, he didn’t. Less than 20 feet from where Potters Road emptied out on to 36, Dales car came flying out in front of Enos. He had no time to stop and closed his eyes, figuring he was about to T-bone somebody. Instead, he threaded the needle, skimming past the back end of Dale’s car and avoiding hitting Rosco by mere inches. The chase roared on to the flat pavement of Route 36.
Enos opened his eyes and slowed down, swinging his patrol car around and falling in line behind the General Lee after the Dukes came out on to the pavement.
“So much for that,” Luke said.
Dale looked at the speedometer and then at the close proximity of the police car in the side mirror.
“You better be getting a move on,” he said. “You got just as much to lose if we get caught.”
“I’m going as fast as this thing can go. Besides, I don’t know the roads that well and now we have to watch out for traffic.”
“What traffic? This isn’t downtown Atlanta. Get a move on!”
“Why’d you have to shoot the Fed anyway? You realize the heat that’s gonna come down now? You blew it!”
“No. You blew it when you did such a lousy job getting rid of Jacy. You said nobody would find her. If she hadn’t been found, none this would have had to be brought this far.”
“But a Fed. An FBI agent! And right in the middle of filming, man, what were you thinking?”
“He was asking too many questions and knew and saw too much. He had to be taken down.”
“You don’t know for sure you killed him.”
“I didn’t have time to stop and check a pulse!”
“What if he lives?”
“Whether he lives or dies at the moment isn’t what I’m worried about. I’m more worried about us getting away from these cops and so far, you’re not doing so hot!”
Suddenly there was a metallic bang! and the sedan lurched. Mike held the wheel, keeping the car straight and glanced in his mirrors. The Sheriff was practically in the trunk.
“Mike, he’s gonna ram us off the road if you don’t get moving!”
Mike hit the gas and pulled ahead of the patrol car but Rosco stayed right with him. With the traffic in the other lane empty, Rosco pulled to the left and accelerated.
Mike watched his side mirror and saw the patrol car creeping up.
Dale was watching too. He checked his hand gun and had bullets left. He readied the weapon.
“Let him pull up alongside,” Dale said. “I’ll get him to back off for good.”
Mike saw the gun out of the corner of his eye. He kept the car steady as Rosco crept up further. The Sheriff then pushed to the right, ramming against Dale’s car, metal crunching and tires chirping.
Mike held the wheel. “He may put up a fight first.”
The patrol car moved up further and the two cars were running close to even. Dale leaned across Mike aiming the gun out the window and squeezed off a shot.
The passenger side window of the patrol car shattered but the bullet otherwise missed hitting Rosco. The cruiser swerved and slowed, falling back and getting Rosco out of the line of fire.
With Rosco in the other lane, Bo had moved the General Lee up, preparing for a box maneuver. He, Luke and Cooter heard the gun shot and saw the explosion of glass on the left side of the cruiser.
Luke grabbed up the CB mike. “Rosco, back off!”
“And here we are with nothing to shoot back with,” Cooter said. He held up his Civil War musket, which held no ammunition.
“Oh yes we do,” Luke said. “Cooter, if you can get the back seat down, we can get to the bows and arrows in the trunk.”
“You got it!” Cooter shifted in his seat and found the latch to let the back seat fold down. He lowered the back and saw the bows and arrows in the trunk. He grabbed one of the bows and passed it carefully to Luke.
“Should be a couple of arrows with dynamite on ‘em,” Luke said.
“Yep, got one,” Cooter replied. He handed one forward to Luke.
“Awright…” Luke pulled himself out through the window and saw on the door frame of the General. He then brought the bow and arrow out the window.
“Keep ‘r steady, Bo!”
“You got it! Make it count, Luke!”
The chase raced on down Route 36. Rosco kept up alongside the back quarter of Dale’s car.
Dale was about to climb into the back seat to take another shot at Rosco when he noticed the orange Dodge Charger with sidelong Confederate soldier holding a bow and arrow.
Luke let the arrow go and it flew over Dale’s car and landed just off to the side of the road, exploding on impact.
Mike could have driven on past it without incident, but if the local law had that kind of help for back up, Mike wasn’t about to push his luck. He’d pushed it far enough as it was and as a result had lost his girlfriend and now an FBI agent quite possibly had lost his life too. It had to stop.
Mike swerved wildly and hit the brakes, nearly colliding with Rosco’s cruiser. The patrol car fell back as Dale’s car came to a sliding stop broadside across the road.
The chase came a screeching halt. Rosco brought his patrol car around Dale’s side of the car, while the General Lee and Enos’s patrol car stayed on Mike’s side of the car.
Rosco exited his patrol car with gun drawn, holding across the roof of his cruiser at Dale. “Awright! You there! Toss your gun out!”
Dale had been just as surprised by the dynamite arrow too and offered no resistance. He held the gun up and tossed it out the window.
“Both of ya! Out of the car!”
The men did as told. The Dukes and Cooter kept back, allowing Rosco and Enos to do what they had to, although Luke stood ready with another arrow set.
As Enos led Mike to his patrol car, Mike looked toward the Dukes and Cooter. His expression offered no explanation but was the guiltiest expression they’d ever seen.