A Mistake in Time (continued)

Rosco was still standing infront of the coffin, long after everyone else had left the cemetary. He held the triangle folded Georgia state flag close to him. The coffin was bare, except for the single white rose that lay on the polished mahogney finish. Rosco had asked that in lieu of flowers for folks to make donations to either the orphange or some charity of their choice. It seemed a more lasting tribute than just having flowers that were going to wilt and die anyway.

As he stood looking from the coffin to the name of Coltrane that was etched into the granite stone, he came to a decision. A decision, he wondered, that he probably should have made a long time ago. He paused a moment, bidding a silent and final farewell to the young woman who had meant so much to him, and then slowly turned away from the gravesite and walked towards the gate.

When he got to town, he saw Boss’s white Caddy parked infront of the courthouse. Still dressed in his suit and with his Sheriff’s badge in hand, Rosco went inside.

Boss looked up when his brother-in-law came through the already open door to the office. “Rosco?”

“I wanna talk to ya.”

Boss got up from his desk. “Alright.” He went to the door and shut it and then turned back to Rosco. “Sit down.”

Rosco shook his head. “This is only gonna take me a minute.”

“What is it?”

Rosco looked at the badge in his hand and then turned it toward Boss. Boss looked at it then looked at Rosco.

“I don’t want it anymore,” Rosco said. “I’m resigning.”

“But, Rosco--”

“No. This is something I probably should have done a long time ago. If I had, maybe MaryAnne would still be alive.”

“Rosco, it ain’t your fault.”

“No? Would you rather I blame you?”

Boss stared at Rosco with a bit of shock. “Rosco,” he whispered.

“Well, why not? You’re the one who hired them two. You’re the one who had the real jewels in the store switched for paste.” He paused and in barely a whisper said, “She saved your life.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Boss said. “Rosco, that girl saved my life a few dozen times since she moved here.”

“Oh yeah,” Rosco said with a sad chuckle and twisted smile on his face as he glanced up at the ceiling. “And after everytime, you’d turn around and let your greed get you and me into trouble again and again. Well, not anymore. Not for me. While you were tryin’ to make a quick million, MaryAnne ended up paying the ultimate price and now this badge is worthless to me.”

Rosco took Boss’s hand and put the badge in it. He then looked at him with clouded blue eyes. “So go buy yourself another unbuyable Sheriff.”

Boss started to say something but Rosco turned and walked out of the office, leaving Boss looking at the badge with guilt.

* * *

When Rosco returned to the house, he grabbed a single suitcase out of the closet in the hall and threw some clothes into it. He changed out of his suit into jeans and light blue shirt and grabbed his denim jacket out of the closet in his room. He paused when he saw his old black sheriff’s jacket that was hanging behind it. But the memory was short lived. He closed the door and with suitcase in hand and denim jacket under his arm, he walked out of the house. He went to the barn and pulled the tarp off of Maverick and put the suitcase and jacket into the Firebird and got in. Without a moments hesitation, Rosco started the car and drove out of the yard.

Boss, meanwhile, had gone home and told Lulu what happened. Worried of the affect MaryAnne's death was having on her baby brother, Lulu insisted that they go to his house to try to talk to him.

“He won’t wanna talk to me,” Boss said. “I think he hates me now.”

“He doesn’t hate you, Jefferson,” Lulu said, “he’s very upset right now and he’s saying things he doesn’t mean.”

“Oh no, he meant it. He won’t talk to me.”

Lulu paused. “What about Jesse?”

“Jesse Duke?” Boss repeated. He then stopped, realizing that if anyone in Hazzard County could talk some sense to Rosco, it would be Jesse.

“Alright,” he said. “It’s worth a try. I’ll give him a call and ask him to meet us there.”

The whole Duke family met Boss and Lulu at Rosco’s house. They saw Rosco’s car was still parked in front of the house but nobody answered the door when they knocked.

From inside the house though, they heard the distinct bark of Bandit. They paused, listening, and then Boss grabbed the door handle and pushed on the door, which opened.

Bandit was standing right by the door and backed up as it opened and Boss was the first one in, followed by Jesse, Lulu and the rest of the Dukes.

“Rosco?” Boss called.

“Woof!” Flash barked from where she was laying on the floor in the living room.

Boss looked, startled as always by the basset’s bark.

“Well, Rosco must still be here if Flash is,” Lulu said.

“And Bandit too,” Daisy added.

“Maybe he’s out back?” Luke suggested.

“Why don’t you boys check?” Jesse said. “We’ll look around here in the house.”

“Alright. C’mon, Bo.” As the boys headed to the back door Daisy turned to Lulu.

“Why don’t we look upstairs?”

“Alright, Daisy.”

When the boys got out back, they saw the door to the barn was wide open. They went over to check and found the tarp that had covered Maverick was bunched up at the back of the barn.

Luke sighed. “I think he’s gone, cousin.”

“Oh man,” Bo said. “But Flash and Bandit. He wouldn’t leave ‘em behind would he?”

“I don’t know,” Luke said, although he could only imagine the worst. Not unless he ain’t coming back.

Luke shook away the thought. “Let’s go tell Jesse and Boss.”

As the boys were walking back to the house, Boss, Jesse, Daisy and Lulu were already realizing Rosco was gone when Lulu and Daisy found that some of his clothes were gone.

“Maverick’s gone,” Luke annouced as he and Bo came down the hall from the back door.

“So are some of Rosco’s clothes,” Daisy said.

“Where do y’all think he went?” Bo asked.

“I don’t know,” Jesse said. “But it bothers me that he didn’t take Flash and Bandit with him.”

“Oh no,” Boss said to no one in particular. Looking at the floor in a blank stare he slowly sat down on the couch. “Oh, I really did it this time.”

“Oh Boss,” Daisy said sitting next to him. “This ain’t your fault. I’m sure Rosco just went somewhere to be alone for awhile.”

“But, Daisy, you don’t know what he said to me earlier when he turned in his badge.”

“I’m sure he didn’t mean any of it,” she said. “He’s hurtin’ real bad because of MaryAnne’s death, we all are. This is just how he’s reacting to it.”

“No. No, it was the truth, it was all the truth. I was the one who hired those guys. It is my fault.”

“Oh Boss.”

“Look, maybe we can find him,” Bo said. “You know, maybe it’d be better if he was with people instead of off all alone.”

“Yes,” Lulu said. “Oh I hate to think what foolish notions he could get off by himself somewhere.”

“And then you can talk to him, Boss, and all of us can talk to him,” Luke said. “I think it might do all of us some good.”

“Yeah,” Jesse said. “We’ll get Cooter, Enos and Cletus to help out in lookin’ for him. In the meantime, why don’t we take Flash and Bandit here to the house. We’ll look after them until we get Rosco back.”

Rosco, however, had his foot planted to the floor of Maverick, pushing the Firebird closer to the county line, on his way to the one place where he hoped he could find some solace and some peace.

Next Chapter... Another Chance