A Mistake in Time

Rosco sat in one of the chairs in the middle of the waiting room of the Tri-County emergancy room. He was leaning over, his elbows resting on his knees, his face partially buried in his hands. He stared blankly at the floor, not comprehending the colors of the carpet but rather, off in another world of images of the past and present. From the little girl in pigtails to the young woman in a Hazzard County Sheriffs Deputy uniform sprawled on her back in the middle of the square after being knocked down by a bullet.

Rosco shivered and brought his hand over his eyes. What went wrong? he wondered. What did I do wrong? I was the closest one to her. Why couldn’t I get there in time?

Rosco wasn’t the only one riddled with guilt. Sitting next to him, on his right, was Enos, and next to him were the Dukes. Enos was feeling just as guilty and the boys, Daisy and Jesse, had just come into town when everything happened. Boss Hogg and Cooter were seated in the waiting room too. How could something have gone so terribly wrong?

“Sheriff Coltrane?”

Rosco’s heart nearly stopped as he looked up at the doctor who stood in the door way leading to the ER. Rosco tried desperately to read the man’s face for some kind of hint as to MaryAnne’s condition, but the doctor’s face was neutral. Rosco got up, along with Enos, and the Dukes, Cooter and Boss. Rosco approached and stood clutching his black hat in his hands.

The doctor took a breath. Rosco tried to prepare for the worst but a small part of him was praying for a miracle.

“Sheriff, I’m sorry,” the doctor said softly. “We’ve tried everything we can. I’m afraid there’s nothing more we can do.”

The Duke boys and Enos looked at Rosco, who seemed to suddenly age ten years. Daisy buried her face in the bib of Uncle Jesse’s overalls and softly weeped. Cooter and Boss Hogg just stared in shocked silence at the doctor.

“Doc,” Rosco pleaded in a whisper. “Doc, you can’t just let her die.”

“There’s nothing more we can do,” the doctor said gently. “There was just too much damage. I’m afraid she only has a couple of hours. I’m sorry.”

“She--she didn’t wake up?”

The doctor shook his head.

“Can I see her?”

The doctor nodded. “Sure.”

Rosco followed the doctor. After he pointed out where MaryAnne was, the doctor quietly left, to let Rosco be with the closest thing he had to a daughter.

Rosco wiped away a tear as he stepped closer to the hospital bed. He looked at her face, a face that would be forever burned in his memory. The little girl who used to sit on his lap and hold his hat, the teenager who, along with her father, used to help Rosco out back in the days before sheriff’s department had any deputies, and the young woman who he was so proud to have wear a Hazzard County Sheriff's Deputy uniform.

But it wasn't what she had to be wearing when she died.

“MaryAnne, I’m so sorry,” he said, his eyes clouding over with tears. “I don’t know what went wrong, I just...” He stopped and looked up, blinking enough to cause the tears to spill down his face. He then looked down and took her slim hand into his. “I don’t think I ever told you that you’ve become like a daughter to me,” he said softly. “The daughter I never had and now I can’t even keep you. Eli told me once that if something ever happened to him that he wanted me to watch over you. When he passed on I promised myself I’d keep that vow.” He stopped as the tears welled up again and the lump in his throat became more difficult to swallow. “I really messed that up didn’t I?” he managed to whisper before he finally broke down and, leaving his hat resting on her, he buried his face in his other hand.

Rosco stayed with MaryAnne for an hour and half until she quietly slipped away to be with her father and mother. Before he left the room, Rosco gently kissed her soft brown hair and left his hat with her, the soft brim firmly in her grip.

For eternity...

Next chapter....The Leap