This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any actual resemblance to persons or historical persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The Dukes of Hazzard characters, settings, locales, ect. are owned by other entities who have not endorsed this fic nor have they given express permission for the character's use. Author makes not claims to these characters and is not making any profit from their use.
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© Copyright: 1996-2004. Lisa Philbrick
The Winds of November (Part One)
On the edge of history, Rosco must keep his family together or risk losing his Uncle Eli to a prison term and his little cousin MaryAnne to an orphanage.
Finchburg County, Georgia.
Tuesday, November 12, 1963.
With the lonesome voice of Patsy Cline softly drifting out of the radio of the 1954 Thunderbird, Eli Coltrane hummed along while placing his cargo for this run in the trunk. It was 10:30 at night and the chill of the November air was settling into the old barn. After placing the last box of his own brewed moonshine into the trunk, the forty-five year old ridge runner rubbed his hands together before bringing the lid down.
Eli pulled his dark blue jacket together and zipped it up. He then reached up to the oil lamp and extinguished the flame, plunging the barn into darkness. He turned and got into his car, then started the engine. He listened to it rev and smiled.
“Okay, Miss Claudia,” he said. “Let’s make a good run and get home safely.” Eli shifted gears and the car rolled out of the barn.
From the porch of the farm house, Eli’s friend Steve Daniels waved as the Thunderbird drove out down the roadway. Being an only parent with a six year old daughter, Eli hated to leave MaryAnne alone. Although she was asleep, he didn’t want to chance anything, so he asked Steve, as he had several times before, to stay at the house while he was on his run. Steve always obliged, since he had been in a similar situation a few years ago and Eli used to stay at his house whenever Steve went out on a run.
This run was pretty much routine for Eli. It was the same run he made two Tuesday nights a month into Choctaw County. Eli rarely ran into trouble but he was always prepared for it.
Despite being prepared, Eli was still surprised when he suddenly heard a siren and saw the red light reflection in his rearview. Eli smiled as he stepped down on the accelerator and the T-bird pulled ahead of the Finchburg County Sheriff’s car.
What Eli didn’t know was that he had THE Sheriff behind him. Sheriff Frank Fuller. He knew Eli made moonshine. He knew he ran it. What he didn’t know, was how the heck to catch him.
“Damn it,” Frank muttered seeing the T-bird pulling further ahead and then cutting off the road. Frank jerked the steering wheel to try to make the turn and the big ‘58 Impala slid too far. It swayed to a stop briefly but Frank kept his foot on the gas, getting the Chevy back on to the road and after the little T-bird.
Eli looked in his rearview again and saw the distant headlights. He pulled the steering wheel all the way and turned ‘Miss Claudia’ in a complete 180 and went charging toward the police car.
Frank had enough time to utter an explicative before turning the Chevy out of the way of Ford. The Impala went sailing into the ditch as Eli continued on down the road, laughing.
When the Impala settled, Frank was shaking his head. “Well, that was a fools errand,” he muttered to himself. “Damn, he’s good.”
Eli didn’t run into any further trouble after that. He made it to Choctaw and dropped off his shine and returned back home by quarter to midnight.
“Thanks, Steve,” Eli said after he came into the house.
“Hey, no problem,” Steve replied with a smile. “Happy to help out, Eli. Gotta be the easiest baby-sitting job in the world.”
Eli smiled. He turned his blue eyes up to the ceiling in gesture to where MaryAnne was asleep. “It’s been hard, but I think she’s adjusting. At least, she’s sleeping through the night now.”
“Yeah. She’ll be all right. She’s got a good father looking after her.”
Steve gave his friend a pat on the shoulder and then said, “Well, it’s past my bed time. You gonna be stopping in to the cafe tomorrow?”
“I’m gonna try.”
“Alright.. I’ll see ya then.”
“Yeah.” Eli walked with Steve to the door. “Thanks again, Steve.”
“You’re welcome. See ya tomorrow.”
After Steve had driven away, Eli closed the door and then headed up the stairs. He stopped for a moment at MaryAnne’s door and gently opened it. The light from the hallway shone in through the partial opening and Eli saw MaryAnne snuggled up with her teddy bear. It had been a long year since his wife, Sarah Mae, had passed away. All MaryAnne did for awhile after was cry and wake up in the middle of the night from bad dreams. Eli was sure MaryAnne still didn’t really understand where her momma had gone, but the crying had since quieted and the bad dreams had stopped. Eli knew she missed her momma, and he did too.
Quietly, Eli closed the door and continued down the hall to his room to get ready to finally turn in for the night.
* * *
Finchburg County, Georgia
Wednesday, November 13, 1963
The next morning, Eli got MaryAnne up early to do her morning chores and get ready for school. After the little girl dressed in an old sweat shirt and overalls, Eli would comb her shoulder length brown hair back into a ponytail. She would then skip out the door and to the barn to collect the eggs from the hens. After returning those to the front porch, she would go back and feed the horse.
“Mornin’ Cheyenne,” she said as she dumped the old carrots and alfalfa from the day before out of the bin and poured the fresh ones in. Cheyenne tipped his head in quizzically, investigating the new goodies. When it seemed they passed inspection, he
began to chomp away.
MaryAnne giggled and collected the pail of old carrots and alfalfa. She left the pail by the doorway of the barn. Papa would take care of it later. She ran back into the house, changed into her clothes for school, washed her hands and Eli fixed her hair again.
As she climbed into her seat, Eli put the plate of corn muffins down on the table. He then turned back to the stove and grabbed the skillet and a spoon and scooped the scrambled eggs out on to two plates. When the slices of toast were brown and set on the plates with butter melting into the crevices, Eli delivered the plates to the table and he took his seat across from MaryAnne.
“Did you wash your hands?”
“Good girl.” Eli then folded his hands and rested them on the edge of the table. MaryAnne did the same.
“Lord, we thank thee for this bounteous table thou had placed before us and we thank you for the love and strength you have given us to live from day to day. Amen.”
“Amen,” MaryAnne echoed.
Breakfast was usually quiet. Not that father and daughter didn’t have anything to say to each other, but MaryAnne had to eat fairly quickly in order to make it to the bus at the end of the roadway by 7:30.
“Is Robbie comin’ home this weekend?” MaryAnne asked after she took a drink of her orange juice.
“Not this weekend, sweetheart. Next weekend.”
“Oh, yeah,” she replied disappointed that her brother wouldn’t be home and that she forgot which weekend was which. Robert was 12 years older than MaryAnne and had graduated from Finchburg High School in the spring. He then took a job in an automobile factory up in Tennessee, sending some of the money he earned back home to help Eli and MaryAnne.
“Can we go to Hazzard?”
Eli looked at his daughter and smiled. Although she didn’t know what the word ‘idolize’ meant, that was how she felt toward her older cousin, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane of Hazzard County. Eli’s nephew was continuing the Coltrane tradition of law enforcement in Hazzard, which had been dormant since Rufus Z. Coltrane retired as Sheriff in 1892. Rufus was Great-Great Grandpa Robert’s older brother.
“Well, if I get everything done I have to get done, and if Rosco’s not too busy on Saturday I think we can go over for a visit.”
Eli laughed. “Alright, you better get goin’. Don’t forget to let Cheyenne out of his stall when you get home.”
“I won’t,” MaryAnne replied as she got down from the chair. She ran upstairs to get her book bag and then came back down. Eli bent down to receive a good bye kiss on the cheek.
“Bye, sweetheart. Have a good day,” he said.
“I will. Bye Papa,” she called back as she dashed out the kitchen door and down the roadway. She ran for a couple of moments then slowed to a quick walk. As she passed the big oak tree, she got a glimpse of something black out of the corner of her eye. Continuing to walk she turned her head to look. She saw a black pickup truck and three men down the shortcut to the patch where the tomatoes, cucumbers and sting beans were grown. MaryAnne figured they were waiting for Eli and she continued on her way, not knowing that the three men were going to turn her young life upside down.
* * *
The three men didn’t notice the little girl walking along the road. They were too engaged in conversation, huddled at the front of their black 1957 Ford pickup truck. One of the men had his foot up on the rounded chrome bumper, his elbow resting on his leg, he head resting in his hand. Gerald Emerson wore a pair of khakis and a crisp white shirt. On his head was a beige brimmed hat. He was a handsome young man with hazel eyes and black crew cut hair. He was all business, however, as he regarded his two partners. The man next to him was Jason Bryer, about the same age as Gerald with similar ambitions. He was dressed in khakis and wore a light blue denim shirt, with the sleeves rolled up. The third man, the owner of the pickup truck, was Charlie Danforth who had entered into this deal with Gerald and Jason thinking he’d be on top of the world as soon as his competition was eliminated. His hands were shoved into the pockets of his faded blue bib overalls and his brown eyes were looking at the ground in thought.
“He’s usually never away from his truck for more than a minute or two,” Charlie said. “Except when he’s at the diner.”
“Which means,” Jason said, “he could stop there after he’s emptied everything out of it and suddenly finding cargo in it when he comes out of the diner is gonna look funny.”
“We don’t have to put it all in the truck,” Gerald said. “Just enough to get him into trouble. Besides, he always has that tarp in there, so we can just tuck it under there if the truck’s empty.”
“You really think this is gonna work?” Charlie asked.
“Charlie, we can’t miss,” Gerald said. “As soon as Eli Coltrane is behind bars, the whole county will be ours.”
* * *
Gerald, Jason and Charlie had moved the black pickup off the Coltrane property and to the main road, down far enough to watch for Eli when he left.
After loading his light blue Chevy with two bales of hay, a cord of wood and three one pint glass jars of tomatoes, Eli headed off to deliver his goods. The black truck followed.
His first stop was at the Blanchard place, where Henry Blanchard’s baling machine broke down two weeks ago, so in exchange for three pounds of potatoes and a couple of quarts of Lucinda’s pickles, Eli agreed to bale their hay.
“You’re such a darlin’, Eli, for doing this for us,” Lucinda said after Eli and Henry had unloaded the two bales. It was a the last two of ten bales total Eli had done.
“Anything to help out Mrs. Blanchard,” Eli replied.
The silver haired woman smiled. “And a quart or two of my pickles.”
“Well...” Eli chuckled.
Lucinda laughed. Not only did Eli get two quarts of pickles and the last one pound bag of potatoes, but a brown paper bag of pralines as well.
“For MaryAnne,” Lucinda said. “Sweet things for a sweet heart.”
“Mrs. Blanchard, thank you,” Eli said as he took the bag. He peered into it and smiled. “Mmm, gonna be hard to resist.”
“Oh, Eli, you can have some too.”
“No, I mean resist eating the whole bag.”
Lucinda and Henry laughed. They thanked Eli again and then said goodbye. After Eli drove away, the black truck followed again.
They followed Eli to the Fremont place, where he dropped off the canned tomatoes, in exchange for another burlap bag, this one filled with squash, and then Eli delivered the cord of wood to David Rush for $45.
Before heading back home, Eli stopped at the diner in town for a cup of coffee. He parked his truck on a side street, out of view of the front window of the diner, and went in, greeted by the cast of regulars.
“Hey, Eli,” Steve greeted from his usual seat at the counter. While Eli was settling in on a stool at the counter, Gerald was telling Charlie to park the black truck behind Eli’s. Charlie did and the three men waited a moment before Jason and Charlie got out. While Charlie turned to the back of his and carefully slipped two bottles of moonshine into a burlap bag, Jason nonchalantly made his way to the bed of Eli’s truck. With nobody on the street and those few who drove by not really paying attention, Jason grabbed one of Eli’s burlap bags. Charlie hurried to the truck with the other bag and put it in the truck, in the same spot the other bag had been. They then quickly returned to Charlie’s truck and drove away, off to make a very important phone call.
* * *
Half an hour later, Eli said goodbye to Steve and the others and headed back to the farm
Laying in wait in the woods off Route 61 that led to the Coltrane property, were six ATF agents. The head agent, Roger Ellis, watched the light blue Chevy truck as it cruised by. He then picked up his radio mike.
“Let’s get him, boys.”
Three 1960 Ford sedans came out of the woods and raced after the truck.
Eli caught a glimpse of the dark blue cars in the side mirror of his truck. He heart skipped a beat in natural reaction to the site of ATF agents and he almost slammed the accelerator when he stopped to remind himself that he wasn’t running any shine.
Certainly not out of my truck and in broad daylight, he thought. The ATF men, however, didn’t know that and Eli watched as two of the three sedans came up on both sides of his truck and pulled ahead. They then turned toward each other,
blocking the road.
Eli slammed the brake and the truck slid on the dry dirt. The third car stopped close to the back of the truck, pinning Eli in.
“What the--” Eli started to say when the six men got out of their cars with guns pointing at Eli.
“Alright., Coltrane,” Roger said. “Out of the truck.”
Another agent walked up to the driver door of the truck and pulled it open. With gun pointed at Eli the man growled, “Out!”
Eli did as he was told. The agent grabbed Eli’s arm and turned him to face the truck and forcefully pushed him against it.
“Hey! What’s goin’ on here?”
“Shut up,” the agent said.
Roger stepped over to Eli. He regarded him a moment, with the smug look of victory on his face. “Do you know how long I’ve waited for the day when I would finally catch you?”
“What are you talkin’ about, Ellis?”
“Moonshine, Eli. I’m talkin’ about you and your illegal sippin’ liquor. Today you are now out of business.”
“You been in the sun too long. I ain’t got no moonshine in this truck.”
“No?” Roger looked to another agent and nodded. The agent opened the tail gate of the truck and grabbed the unmarked burlap bag. He opened it and pulled out one of the two whiskey jugs. He popped the top off and took a whiff.
“Moonshine,” he said.
Roger smiled. “Uh, what was that you were saying, Eli? No moonshine in this truck?”
That may have been moonshine he was sniffin’, Eli thought, but it smells more like a frame up to me.
Eli said nothing as Roger began to slap handcuffs on him.
* * *
Sheriff Fuller was surprised when the ATF agents showed up at the jail with Eli. Roger quickly explained to Frank what brought about Eli’s arrest and that the truck was being put in the impound and the shine locked up as evidence.
“Evidence my eye,” Frank muttered after the ATF boys left the jail. He then went to see Eli in the jail cell.
“What happened?” he asked.
“How the heck do I know? I made my rounds this morning, stopped at the cafe for a cup of coffee and then tried to go home and somehow ended up with two jugs of shine in my truck. Ellis knows I don’t run shine out of my truck. Somebody set me up.” Eli looked at Frank. “Frank, can you do me a favor?”
“MaryAnne’s in school now. When she gets out can you take her over to Hazzard? My brother and his family will look after her.”
“I think the CPS people are taking her.”
“What?!” Eli exclaimed. “Dammit, I won’t have her put in some orphanage when she’s got family that’ll look after her. Frank, you gotta let me make a phone call.”
“Yeah. I’ll have him get custody of her.”
“You should be trying to get a lawyer.”
“I don’t care about gettin’ no lawyer now. All I care about is makin’ sure MaryAnne is okay and is in the care of someone I trust.”
Frank paused a moment, then went to grab the cell key off the wall. “Allright.”
* * *
It was just before the end of school when a Child Protective Services officer went to the Finchburg Elementary School. The principle accompanied the man to Miss Gagnes 1st grade classroom.
MaryAnne regarded the man suspiciously as they all gather at the front of the classroom after all the other students had left. He started off by saying that she couldn’t go home because her father wasn’t there.
“Where is he?”
The man took a breath looking at the principle and Miss Gagnes. “You’re father’s in jail.”
“He did something wrong?”
The man nodded. “Yes, I’m afraid he did.”
The little girl’s blue eyes brimmed with tears. “No! He didn’t do nothin’ wrong!”
“MaryAnne, sweetheart,” Miss Gagnes said, “the thing is your father isn’t at home right now, so you have to go with this man.”
“I have to take you to the orphanage,” he said.
“But I have to let Cheyenne out of his stall at home. He’ll kick the door out if I don’t.”
The CPS officer looked at Miss Gagnes.
“Well, I’ll take to your house so you can do that, okay?” he said.
MaryAnne sniffled. “Okay.” She turned and went to get her book bag from her desk. She then followed the CPS man out of the classroom.
While the CPS officer was taking MaryAnne to the house to let Cheyenne out of the stall, the telephone in the office of Hazzard County Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane was ringing.
Rosco was just coming into the booking room when he heard the ringing phone in his office. He dashed to the door and went in, leaning over the desk to grab the phone. The sudden stop sent his black cowboy hat flying onto the desk and then to the floor.
“Doh---” He brought the receiver to his ear. “Hazzard County Sheriff’s office,” he greeted running his free hand through his black hair.
“Rosco, it’s Eli. Listen I’m in trouble.”
“I’ve been arrested.”
“The ATF found some moonshine in my truck. It ain’t mine, somebody set me up, but that ain’t the worst of my trouble. The CPS people have MaryAnne. You get her back. I won’t have her shipped off to some orphanage and lose her sense of family. The poor girl loses her momma, now her papa’s in jail and I won’t have her not be with family. So you get her back. I don’t care if you gotta file to be her legal guardian ‘til she’s 18 or whatever, but you get custody of her, ya hear?”
“I hear ya, I hear ya. I’ll be right there.” The thirty-one year old Sheriff hung up dazed at the news. He went around the desk to pick up his hat, which he put on the desk and then picked up the phone again, waiting for Gussy to connect.
“Gussy? This is Rosco. Listen, I gotta go over to Finchburg County for awhile.”
“I heard. Oh, Rosco, I’m so sorry. How old is MaryAnne.”
“Oh the poor dear. Do you want me to call Gene and have him on stand by?”
“I’d appreciate that.”
“Okay. Good luck, Rosco.”
* * *
When Rosco got to Finchburg County, he spent almost an hour and a half at the courthouse. The CPS people told him he would have to file a petition with them and with the court for custody of MaryAnne. So he did, and was told that later in the day he would know when a hearing would be held.
Rosco went over to the orphanage to see MaryAnne. The orphanage director showed Rosco to the dayroom. From the door way Rosco looked in. He saw most of the children were engaged in various activities, some were coloring or playing with dolls or playing board games. But seated in a chair by the window, staring off into some other world, was MaryAnne.
“She hasn’t been quiet the whole time she’s been here,” the director said. “There’s a little girl named Julie that she talked to. Julie’s at a doctor’s appointment right now.”
“Just a warning though. She’s gonna be very disappointed that she can’t leave with you yet.”
“Yeah,” Rosco said. “I’ll try to be careful.”
Several of the children looked up at the tall man in the black uniform when Rosco walked in. He smiled at them and one girl giggled and turned to her friend and said, “He’s a peace man.”
MaryAnne was still staring out the window when he stopped. He looked at her then looked out the window that faced the back of the orphanage where a large field spread out, surrounded by trees. A sandbox and swing set were set closer to the house.
Rosco bent down on his knees so that he was just a few inches shorter than MaryAnne perched in the chair.
“Scenery don’t change much,” he said.
The little girl quickly turned her head at the sound of the voice of her favorite cousin. Her face broke into a smile and she threw her arms around his neck.
Rosco smiled and hugged his little cousin. When she let go, she looked at him seriously and said, “They told me Papa’s in jail. Is that true?”
Rosco nodded grimly. “I’m afraid so.”
“Why? Why do they think he did something wrong?”
Rosco paused a moment then said, “Why don’t we go outside? I’ll tell you what happened.”
Rosco took her hand and picked up her school bag. He walked her outside the orphanage and they stopped and sat on the steps. Rosco put his black hat on his knee, which MaryAnne promptly took from him and placed it on her head.
She giggled as the hat tipped over her eyes. It was something she’d been doing since she was about three. She took it back off and rested it on her lap.
“Do you think I’ll ever be big enough to fit into this hat?”
“Someday,” Rosco replied with a smile. “You think you wanna be a police officer?”
She shrugged her small shoulders. “I don’t know.”
“Well, you have a long time to figure that out.” Of course, he didn’t have the heart to tell her that police work wasn’t exactly in the top ten list of careers for women. Things could change in twenty years tho’, he thought.
“What happened to Papa?”
Rosco took a breath. “Well, you know the stuff your Papa makes, the stuff that looks like water?”
“Yeah, the moonshine. Papa says it’s something that could get him into trouble.”
Rosco looked at her, a little surprised that she understood that. “That’s right.”
“Is that why he’s in jail?”
“That’s partly why. It was moonshine somebody else made that got him into trouble.” Rosco paused when he saw the questioning look on her face. “It’d be like if somebody in your class did something bad and told the teacher that you did it.”
MaryAnne’s eyes widened in understanding and then narrowed in disgust.
“Yeah,” Rosco said.
“Who would do that?”
“I’m not sure. I’m hoping I can find out so I can get him out of jail.”
“Yeah,” she said. She was quiet for a moment and then asked, “Rosco, how long do I have to stay here?”
Rosco looked at MaryAnne. He sighed and said, “Hopefully not for long, sweetheart.”
“What if you can’t get Papa out of jail? I’ll have to stay here forever.”
“No, you won’t. I’m working on tryin’ to have it so I can take you back to Hazzard with me.”
“Really?” she said her eyes brightening. “I can stay with you?”
“Yeah. I’m hoping it’s by next week.”
Her shoulders slumped. “Next week? Can’t I just go with you now?”
“I wish I could take you home now, but I can’t.”
“Why not? You’re a Sheriff.”
Rosco’s smile was bittersweet. “Sweetheart, just because I’ve got a badge doesn’t mean I can just do what I want.”
They were quiet for a moment and then Rosco had to tell her that he was going to have to leave.
“I’m afraid so. I’m gonna go see your Papa.”
“Okay.” She looked at his hat and then handed it back to him.
He took the hat but watched the little girl, who stared down at the ground. He could only imagine that her young mind was spinning. After the long year it took for her to adjust after the death of her mother and trying to get back to something of a normal life, now her father was gone, with the possibility of it being years before she would see him again. For all she knew, she’d be stuck at that orphanage ‘forever,’ with maybe a visit or two from her older cousin.
Rosco looked at the hat. Eli’s words on the phone came back to him. I won’t have her shipped off to some orphanage and lose her sense of family...so you get her back. I don’t care if you gotta file to be her legal guardian ‘til she’s 18 or whatever but you get her back.
“Why don’t you hold on to this for me?” he said turning the hat back to MaryAnne.
She looked at it and then looked at him.
“You can give it back to me when I come to take you to Hazzard in a few days.”
MaryAnne’s eyes brimmed with tears and she took the hat and then grabbed a hold of Rosco.
Rosco returned the hug. “That’s a promise, okay?”
“Okay,” she said and looked up at him.
“Now you gotta promise that you’ll be a good girl while you’re here.”
“Allright,” he said as she sat up and placed the hat on her lap. “Is there anything you want me to tell your Papa?” he asked.
MaryAnne thought for a moment. “Tell him I hope I can see him soon and that I love him.” She paused. “And that I let Cheyenne out of his stall.”
Rosco softly chuckled. “I will let him know.” He hesitated a moment and then stood up, straightening his jacket. MaryAnne stood as well, gripping his hat in both hands.
“Okay,” he said, “you be good and I’ll be back to take you home soon, okay?” He gave her a hug.
“Okay,” she said. As he started to walk down the walkway to his patrol car, she wiped away a tear from her cheek. When he turned back to her, she waved and he waved back. She watched him get into the car and she gripped the hat tighter, hanging on to it dearly and saying a silent prayer as the patrol car slowly drove away.
Rosco was saying the same prayer as he glanced back to see her still standing there. It broke his heart to have to leave her like that and he hoped he’d find out soon about the hearing.
* * *
Eli was lounging on the cot when Rosco came down the hallway to the cell with Sheriff Fuller. The Sheriff unlocked the door and let Rosco in.
“You give me a hollar when you’re ready to leave,” Frank said.
Sheriff Fuller nodded and closed the door, locking it. He then returned down the hall.
Rosco looked at Eli.
“Did you see MaryAnne?” the older Coltrane asked.
“Yeah. I filed a petition first thing when I got here too. I should know when the hearing’s gonna be by this afternoon.”
“Good. You can’t lose. You’re her cousin and a Sheriff. What could they possibly find wrong with you that would be cause for denial of custody?”
Rosco shrugged. “Hopefully nothing. I only got one hat.”
“Oh, I left my hat with MaryAnne. Kind of as a promise that I would get it back when I take her back to Hazzard.”
Eli chuckled and shook his head. “That girl and that hat. I think she’s after your job, Rosco.”
“Eli, she’s only six.”
“I know. But she’s been grabbing that hat from you since she was three. By the time she’s twenty she’ll be taking your badge.”
Rosco smiled. He subconsciously brought his hand to his head and ran his fingers through his hair.
“And since you’re without a hat, you better be carrying a comb around with you from now on,” Eli said.
“Is it a mess?”
Eli nodded. “Yup. You gonna end up lookin’ like one of the them singers on this record I saw in the record shop window in town.”
Rosco paused. “Elvis?”
“No, it was some group or something. They had more hair then I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Rosco adjusted his hair as best he could with his fingers. “Well, anyway. I ain’t here to talk about my hair, I’m here to find out how the heck you ended up here.”
Eli shook his head. “I haven’t the slightest idea. Somebody at some point today put a two jugs of shine in my truck. And they took one of my burlap bags too, so I wouldn’t notice that I suddenly had three burlap bags in my truck.”
“What do you mean?”
“I made my rounds this morning and I got a bag of potatoes and a bag of squash, The ATF boys pulled one of the shine jugs out of a burlap bag. A burlap bag that is not mine. Now, I checked both bags before I put them into the truck and there were no bottles of shine in either of them when I received them.”
“Do you know which one’s missin'?”
“No. Couldn’t tell. They had those hand cuffs on me faster then a hot knife through soft butter.” Eli paused. “There’s also a paper bag of pralines on the front seat which have probably all melted by now.”
“Any idea who would do this?”
“Well, take your pick. There’s plenty of runners in this county who would be more than happy to see me in jail and no longer runnin’ whiskey. My shine’s a little too fine for their tastes I guess.”
“Can you give me names?”
Eli sighed and paused in thought. “Well, there’s Charlie Danforth. He doesn’t like me runnin’ shine just because I’m not originally from Finchburg. And then there’s Gerald Emerson, who just wants to control the entire industry in the county and I won’t sell out to him. There’s Sheriff Fuller, but he don’t like me runnin’ shine just from a law point of view. Besides, he's a friend. I don’t think he’d do something like this just to get me in jail.”
Rosco nodded. “Them burlap bags of yours. Are they branded?”
Eli thought. “Yeah. My initials are up in the corner near the top.” He looked at his nephew. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, whoever switched the shine for your other burlap bag may still have it, especially if the brand is small and not easily noticeable. If it’s a bag of fresh potatoes or squash, I doubt they dumped it.”
“Find the bag, and you find who framed me.”
“Well, that’s it then.”
Rosco made a face. “I’m afraid it’s easier said then done.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Eli, I can’t investigate this. I’d be out of my jurisdiction. The ATF boys would have my hide.”
Eli growled. “That’d be all Ellis would need. If he’s not happy nailing one Coltrane, he’d be delighted to nail two of us.”
“Ellis?” Rosco said. “Roger Ellis?”
“Oh great.” Roger Ellis had left the ATF to run against Rosco for Sheriff in 1958. The good news was Rosco won. The bad news was Roger took it personally and returned to the ATF, vowing to catch Eli and put him out of business.
“You think he set this up?” Rosco asked. “I certainly wouldn’t put it past him.”
“I wouldn’t either. It’s possible. But don’t worry about me now. You just worry about getting MaryAnne back.”
“I mean it, Rosco. Makin’ moonshine ain’t a legal business and I know that. I could’ve just as easily ended up here legitimately, but the only thing I care about is the welfare of my child. And if I’m gonna be in jail for a long time they only people I trust to take care of her are you and your father and mother.”
“I know,” Rosco said. “But you ain’t in here legitimately. You’re bein’ framed and I’m not gonna let you stay in jail for a long time for somethin’ you didn’t do. It ain’t fair what that little girl’s goin’ through and I’m not gonna stand idly by and watch her lose her father too.”
Eli looked at Rosco, his face reflecting in appreciation and a little pride. “You are your father’s son.”
“You are. And that’s why I want her to stay with y’all over in Hazzard. Even though you’re only cousins, she looks up to you the same way I looked up to your father. She looks up to Robbie too, but with him up in Tennessee and he bein’ just a young man, he can’t afford to look after his little sister, as much as he would want to.”
Rosco nodded. “Don’t you worry, Eli. She’ll be goin’ home with me soon.” He paused. “Oh, MaryAnne wanted me to tell you that she hopes to see you soon, and that she loves you and that she did get to let Cheyenne out of his stall.”
Eli smiled. “That means somebody’s gonna have to put him back in.” He eyed Rosco.
“Not me! Eli, that horse hates me!”
“He doesn’t hate you, Rosco. He’s just bullheaded.”
“Yeah, right. I still got bruises from the last time I got near that horse.”
“He got spooked, that’s all.”
Rosco rolled his eyes. “Uh-huh.”
* * *
Rosco drove over to Eli's farm afterwards. He left his jacket in his patrol car and went through the barn to attempt to put Cheyenne back in his stall. He paused and looked out into the field. The horse was out near the fence by the woods, a good hundred yards or so from the barn, snacking on the grass. Rosco then looked at his uniform, knowing it wouldn’t look like it did now by the time he got the horse into the barn.
Rosco sighed and marched into the field towards the horse.
Cheyenne didn’t stir until Rosco was about ten yards away. He raised his massive head and glanced at Rosco, gave a grunt and started to turn away.
“Come on, Cheyenne, don’t be a pain. Literally.” Rosco took a step closer to the horse and tried to grab the halter but the horse trotted away from him.
“I mean it. Can’t you behave for MaryAnne’s sake? I gotta put you back in your stall. There’s a bag of oats waiting for ya in the barn.”
The horse stood there not interested in Rosco or what was waiting in the barn. Rosco carefully stepped closer to the brown horse again. He managed to place on hand on the horse’s shoulder and grabbed a hold of the halter.
“There. See? I ain’t gonna hurt ya.” He gave the horse a pat and then gently tugged on the halter, but Cheyenne wouldn’t move.
“Cheyenne, you got four legs and I ain’t gonna move ‘em for ya. Come on.” He tugged on the reins again, but the horse resisted.
“I don’t know why you don’t like me. I didn’t kick you, you kicked me. Not my fault you got spooked.”
The horse responded with a neigh.
Rosco gave the horse a rub on his white face. He tugged on the reins again and the horse took a step forward.
“Yeah, that’s it,” Rosco said as he started to lead the horse back toward the barn.
Rosco turned his head quick towards the barn. A man stood with a shotgun aimed toward the air.
“Oh shoot, don’t pull the trigger--”
Too late. Cheyenne stopped and pulled back at the sound of the shot. Rosco couldn’t get his hand out of the bridle quick enough and he got pulled in the direction the horse started to run off in.
“Doh-ho!!” Rosco’s arm was yanked hard and he lost his footing. Cheyenne shook his head to get Rosco’s hand out of the bridle and when it let go, Rosco fell to the ground. Cheyenne trotted away to the other side of the field.
“Oh, ow,” Rosco moaned as he sat up and rubbed his arm and shoulder.
The man with the shot gun came running into the field. Rosco turned to see who it was.
“Holy mackerel, Rosco!” Steve Daniels exclaimed when he finally recognized who it was. “Oh, man I’m sorry.”
“Steve. For Pete’s sake, what did you think I was, a rustler or something?”
“Well, yeah I did. How was I suppose to know?” Steve gave Rosco a hand and helped him up.
“How many rustlers drive Sheriff’s cars?”
“I didn’t see your car. What are you doing here anyway?”
“Tryin’ to put that dang horse back in the stall,” Rosco replied still rubbing his arm. “I had just got him to trust me and then you had to go and shoot that dang shotgun.”
“Sorry. Listen, I’ll make it up to ya. I’ll go get him.”
“I’d appreciate that.” Steve jogged over to where Cheyenne was standing and started to lead the horse towards the barn. Rosco followed.
“I could ask you the same question, you know,” Rosco said.
“What are you doin’ here?”
“Well, when I heard that Eli was in jail I thought I’d come over to check on the animals and make sure the house was secure.”
“Oh.” Rosco smiled. “I suppose I should thank ya.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it. It’s kind of hard to be appreciative after getting your arm practically yanked off. You all right?”
Rosco moved his shoulder a little and flinched. “Yeah, I think so. Nothing a few tons of ice won’t heal.”
Steve smiled. The arrived at the barn and Steve let Cheyenne into the stall. After securing the door he said, “Yeah, this ol’ boy’s a little strong headed still.”
“A little? That’s the second time he’s dropped me on my posterior.”
Steve chuckled. He checked the door and then he and Rosco left the barn. As they came into the front yard Rosco asked, “How could you miss seeing this car?”
“I came in the back way.”
They were about to go up on to the porch when they heard the distinct sound of tires crunching against dirt and gravel. They turned to look and saw a Finchburg County Sheriffs car pull into the yard.
“It’s Frank,” Steve said. “Wonder what he’s doin’ here.”
Rosco recognized the Sheriff after he stepped out of the car.
“Hi Steve, Sheriff Coltrane,” Frank greeted.
“Frank,” Steve replied cordially. Rosco nodded in acknowledgment.
Sheriff Fuller looked at Rosco. “Sheriff, I wanted to talk to you about your Uncle Eli.”
“I think somebody set him up. I’ve been chasing after him when he makes his runs ever since he first moved here, and it’s always been at night and it’s always been with that little T-bird. He don’t run it out of his pickup truck.”
“I also have to admit that I’ve had a sip or two of your uncle’s shine and the shine that was found in his truck ain’t it.” Frank paused. “I want to help you prove Eli’s innocent.”
“Well, I appreciate that, but I don’t think the ATF is gonna like that, especially Agent Ellis. I think he’s out to settle a personal score with both Eli and myself.”
“What do you mean?” Frank asked.
“I ran against him for Sheriff five years ago in Hazzard. Needless to say, I think he was a sore loser.”
“You think he’s framing Eli?” Steve asked.
“He’s on my list suspects.”
“Who else to you suspect?” Frank asked.
“Eli said Charlie Danforth and Gerald Emerson."
Frank was nodding thoughtfully. “Emerson. And if it's Emerson he's got Bryar right along with him. This would be right up their crooked alley.”
Rosco looked at the two. “Who are they?”
Frank looked at Steve. “Steve, why don’t we take Sheriff Coltrane here to the diner for some coffee and give him a who’s who of Finchburg County.”
* * *
Rosco learned a lot about Gerald Emerson and Jason Bryar from Sheriff Fuller and Steve. Emerson was a young political hotshot, who was determined, if not destined, to become the next county commissioner. He’d be perfect for the job, from a graft point of view, seeing as he’d built up an impressive network of contacts who would easily support such a candidacy and would very graciously benefit from it. Jason Bryar was Emerson’s right hand man, an ex-deputy who would no doubt try to challenge Sheriff Fuller in the next election or the one following after. They both would do anything, at anytime and at any cost to advance their own agendas. Not particularly future prospects that Finchburg County could be proud of.
Before Rosco left the diner, he accepted Sheriff Fuller’s offer to help, although he wasn’t sure how they were going to be able to investigate without the ATF knowing. Rosco then went back to the courthouse to find out if a date had been set for the hearing. One had, for Friday at 10:30.
Rosco was starting to feel better about things as he left the courthouse. With the hearing set for Friday, he could have MaryAnne in Hazzard by Friday afternoon. He had a list of names of folks who could have framed his uncle AND he had the support of the Finchburg Sheriff. The day wasn’t going all that bad.
Rosco stopped when he saw someone standing by his patrol car. He dreadfully recognized Roger Ellis, who was leaning against the Chevy with his arms crossed in front of his chest. Rosco swallowed bitterly and walked to the car.
Ellis looked up. He chuckled and shook his head. “Coltrane, it’s hopeless. Your uncle is guilty.”
“Not until proven so.”
“Oh? Well, I’ve plenty of evidence to help that along, and if I find out that you’re investigating this in anyway, I will be more than thrilled to bust you right out of your job.”
Rosco snickered. “Really? Well that's interesting. You see I have this sneaking suspicion that it's gonna be me busting you out of your job."
Roger glared at him.
“Now could you get away from my car? You’re peelin’ the paint.”
Roger stepped away from the car as Rosco went to get in. “You just wait and see, Rosco. You’ll be sorry you ever got that badge to begin with. Will see who’s so smart when this is all over with.”
Looking at Roger through the open passenger window Rosco said, “Well, you always did look like an ignoramus so it won’t be much of a change for you will it?” He then drove away leaving Roger fuming on the sidewalk.
* * *
Hazzard County, Georgia
Thursday, November 14, 1963
Rosco spent most of Thursday trying to hurry the clock. He took care of various Sheriff’s business in the morning, went to visit Eli again and tended to more Sheriff’s business in the afternoon. He debated going to see MaryAnne at the orphanage again, but didn’t want to disappoint her and have her think he was taking her back to Hazzard then.
He sat in his office for about half an hour looking over his copy of the petition he had filed the day before. He realized he didn’t even know what to expect at the hearing the next day, so he decided to see Joe Ross, a friend from school who was now a lawyer in Capital City, for advice.
Rosco sat in a chair in front of the desk of Joe, watching him shake his head as he looked over the petition. “No, I don’t think you’re going to have any trouble, Rosco,” he said. “No trouble at all. The CPS people would have to be delirious to put up much of a challenge to you.”
“So what’s the point of the hearing?”
“Well, the judge will make the final decision on who gets temporary custody of MaryAnne, either you or the state. His role is to act as a neutral third party who is only looking out for the best interest on the child. What the CPS people will do is tell what
they think is best for the child and you have to prove that you can provide that and more.”
Rosco looked unsure.
“You can’t lose. Between you being a Sheriff, drawing a steady income, having a roof over your head, your parents help, AND being MaryAnne’s kin, you surpass the CPS’s basic requirements for custody by a lot.”
“Very sure.” Joe smiled. “Don’t sweat it, Rosco. You’ll do fine.”
Rosco paused and then nodded. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” He got up from the chair and extended his hand. “Thanks Joe, I appreciate you takin’ the time to look at this.”
“Hey, no trouble,” Joe replied shaking Rosco’s hand. “Good luck tomorrow, ya hear?”
Rosco smiled. “Thanks.”
* * *
Finchburg County, Georgia
Friday, November 15, 1963
Rosco arrived at the Finchburg County courthouse early, allowing himself about a half an hour to really fray his nerves. It wasn’t like he’d never been in court before. Being in the room itself was old school to him, having had to either escort prisoners or testify in a trial. But this was different. The custody of a little girl, his little cousin, was at stake and he was afraid he was going to mess it up, despite what Joe had said.
When the case was finally called, Rosco walked to the other side of the bar and stood behind what would normally be the defense table. A lawyer representing the CPS came to the other table across the aisle.
The judge looked over the folder before him.
“This hearing is on the petition filed by Sheriff Rosco Coltrane of Hazzard County for the custody of MaryAnne Coltrane.”
“Yes, Your Honor,” the lawyer said.
The judge looked at Rosco. “Are you representing yourself, Sheriff Coltrane?”
“Uh, yes, Your Honor.”
“Very well then. According to the affidavit I have here, the girl’s father was arrested on Wednesday and having no immediate family to look after the child, CPS took her into custody. This petition was filed by you, Sheriff Coltrane, that day?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“And you are a first cousin to the child?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
The judge looked at the CPS lawyer. “Now, I have reviewed this petition and the affidavit and all the information provided me about Sheriff Coltrane in regards to his qualifications to have custody of this child. Does CPS really have any serious protest to this man taking custody of the girl?”
“Based on the same information that we have, the CPS has no protest to Sheriff Coltrane taking custody of his cousin.”
“Well, I should think not,” the judge said. He then looked at Rosco. “Custody of MaryAnne Coltrane is hereby granted to you, Sheriff Coltrane.”
Rosco grinned. “Thank you, Your Honor.”
“You’re welcome. You may pick up the appropriate documents to take her from the orphanage at the clerk’s office at one o’clock.”
The judge slammed the gavel, signaling the end of the hearing.
* * *
Rosco was floating on air as he hurried out of the courthouse and then ran across the street to the Sheriff's station.
Frank was sitting at his desk and looked up, startled, as Rosco came clamoring in.
"Frank! Khee khee, I did it! I did it!"
"I got custody!"
"Oh! Well, alright, Rosco!" Frank exclaimed getting up from his desk and extending a congratulatory hand shake to Rosco. "Eli's gonna want to hear this. Let's not keep him waiting."
Eli was ecstatic of course and immediately asked when Rosco could take her home.
"Well, I can get the papers to get her out of the orphanage at one o'clock, which, frankly, ain't soon enough," Rosco said.
"The fact is, you got custody and that piece of paper will be there awaiting for ya at one o'clock," Eli said. "I knew you could do it, Rosco."
"Hey, now you get your hat back," Eli added.
Of course, Rosco had to wait for almost two hours until he could get the papers. He spent most of it sitting in a chair just outside of the clerk's office, sipping on a cup of coffee he got at the diner when he grabbed a quick lunch.
When he had the papers in his hand, Rosco hurried out of the courthouse.
* * *
MaryAnne was sitting by herself in a chair in the day room of the orphanage with Rosco's hat in her grip. She was fiercely protective of the hat, never letting it out of her sight. The other children asked her what it was and MaryAnne told them proudly who it belonged to. Many of the boys were impressed. A REAL Sheriff's hat.
She even told them that she had it as a promise from him that he would be back to take her home soon. She knew Rosco would be back for her. There was no doubt in her six-year-old mind even though some of the other children tried to tell her that she probably would be at the orphanage for a long time.
Even the adults tried to tell her that there was a possibility that her older cousin wouldn't be back for her. MaryAnne refused to listen. She believed what she believed and there was nothing and no one who could make her think otherwise.
Rosco, meanwhile, was close to breaking the speed limit as he drove to orphanage. When he arrived, he brought his patrol car to a stop and took a moment to collect himself before going in.
The director greeted Rosco when he came in. "Hello, Sheriff."
"Mr. Dentworth," Rosco greeted. He then smiled and handed the papers to the director. "I'm here to take MaryAnne home."
The director unfolded the papers and looked at them a moment. He seemed surprised, but nodded. "Very well, then," he said and smiled. "If you'll wait here, it'll be just a moment."
The director sent one of his assistants to get MaryAnne while he signed the appropriate forms.
MaryAnne looked up as the lady came in.
"MaryAnne? Your cousin, Rosco, is here."
"He is?" The little girl looked past the woman towards the door to the hall. There was no one there. "I don't see him."
"He's down the hall."
"Why doesn't he come down here?"
"He's here to take you home." Like that answered the question.
MaryAnne looked again. She then glared at the lady, shaking her head. "He ain't here. You're just being mean!" MaryAnne turned away from the lady.
The assistant sighed and left the room. She walked down the hall to where Rosco stood.
"Sheriff, MaryAnne doesn't believe you're here because she can't see you."
Rosco had to smile a little. "Well, let's show her the proof."
The assistant smiled and stepped aside. Rosco walked down the hall and came to a stop at the door to the day room. He peered in and saw MaryAnne sitting in her chair, looking towards the window.
He stepped into the doorway. "You didn't think I'd forget ya, did ya?"
MaryAnne turned her head towards the door and looked at the tall man in the black uniform with the shiny star on his chest. Her face lit up in fireworks and she bolted off the chair and ran to him.
"ROSCOOOOOOOO!!" she exclaimed, holding the last syllable and letting her voice jump octaves as her feet hit the hard wood floor in her run to the door.
Rosco bent down to scoop up his young cousin. MaryAnne threw her arms around his neck.
"Am I going home with you?" she asked.
"You sure are, kiddo," he said as she looked at him. "You sure are."
"Yay!" she still had his hat in her hand and she placed it on his head, giggling.
Rosco smiled, relieved to have custody of not just his cousin, but a very special little girl.
* * *
Rosco took MaryAnne to the house first, so she could pack some clothes to bring with her to Hazzard. The house felt incredibly empty to Rosco as he and MaryAnne came in the front door.
Rosco found a suitcase and assisted MaryAnne with picking what clothes and items to take with her. He told her not to worry if she forgot anything because they would probably be back to check on the house and the animals anyway.
The first thing she put in the suitcase was her stuffed teddy bear. She then went to her dresser and opened one of the drawers and started pulling stuff out, tossing it all into the suitcase.
"Whoa, hold it," Rosco said with a chuckle. "There's a more organized way we can do this." He took the clothes she had in her hand and he laid them on the bed. He pulled out what she had thrown in the suitcase, including the teddy bear and laid the clothes on the bed as well. He then picked out five of her little T-shirts and folded them as neatly as he could and laid them inside the suitcase. The remaining shirts he put back in the drawer.
"You're not gonna be able to fit everything you own in here," he said.
"Alright, now let's get you some pants and a couple of your dresses too."
MaryAnne nodded and walked over to her closet. She opened the door and then turned back to Rosco.
Rosco looked and he pulled out MaryAnne's overalls and a couple pairs of her jeans. He also pulled out two pairs of cotton pants and then turned and placed them in the suitcase.
"Okay," he said. "Pick out two dresses."
MaryAnne looked into the closet and thought for a moment. She then pointed to one dress.
"This one," she said.
Rosco carefully took it out of the closet and laid it on the bed. He turned and waited for her to select another one. When she did, he pulled it out of the closet and then stopped and looked at it. He recognized it to be the one he and his mother had got for MaryAnne for her birthday back in April. He smiled and placed it with the other dress.
"Okay," he said, closing the lid on the suitcase. He then picked up her teddy bear and handed him to her. She gripped the bear and he picked up her suitcase and the two dresses.
"Ready?" he asked.
She nodded and followed him out of her room.
As they drove back to Hazzard, MaryAnne asked if Rosco saw Eli.
"Yeah, I did. I saw him just before I went to pick you up."
"Is he okay?"
"Yeah, he's alright. He don't like bein' in no jail, that's for sure."
"Will I be able to see him?"
"You wanna see him?"
"Well, I'll tell ya what. After we get your stuff dropped off at the house, we'll come back and visit your Papa, okay?"
"Okay!" she exclaimed.
Rosco smiled, glad he could find something to brighten her day.
Hazzard County, Georgia
Friday, November 15, 1963
Raleigh and Abigail Coltrane were in their early sixties with three grown children. Their only son, Rosco, still lived at home and as of yet, they had no grandchildren. But that didn't bother them too much. They enjoyed having MaryAnne at the house for a visit and were looking forward to her staying with them until Eli got out of jail.
Abby was in the kitchen when she heard Rosco's patrol car door slam. She went over to the window and looked out and saw her son and her niece as they started to come up the walkway.
"Raleigh, they're here," she called to her husband who was sitting in the living room. The elder, grey haired Coltrane got up just as the front door opened.
"Hello, hello," Rosco called as he came in with MaryAnne in front of him.
"Uncle Raleigh!" MaryAnne exclaimed and ran to give her uncle a hug.
"Hey, little one." Raleigh bent down and scooped up MaryAnne and then swung her around in the air before placing her down again. She giggled.
"We're not staying for long," Rosco said to his mother. "Just to drop off her suitcase. I'm gonna take her over to Finchburg so she can see Eli."
Abby nodded, taking the suitcase and the two dresses from Rosco. "Your father and I will put her stuff away in the room for her."
"Okay." He turned towards the living room. "Ready to go see your Papa, MaryAnne?"
The little girl ran to the door, snaked around Rosco and darted out to his patrol car.
Rosco chuckled. "I'll take that as a yes."
* * *
At the jail house, MaryAnne sat on her father's lap, with her head resting against his chest. She listened to him and Rosco talk about the circumstances surrounding Eli ending up in jail and how they were going to get him out. None of it made much sense to her so she decided to get right to the point.
"Papa? When are you gonna be able to come home?" she asked, looking up at him.
Eli looked at his little girl. He sighed and said, "Hopefully soon, sweetheart."
"You gotta come home for Thanksgiving," she said. "And Christmas."
"He'll be home for Thanksgiving," Rosco said assuringly. "You can count on that."
MaryAnne smiled at Rosco and gave her father a hug. Eli returned the hug, but was looking at Rosco as if to say, "Don't start making promises you can't keep."
"Listen, sweetheart," Eli said. "Visitin' time's gonna be up soon, so you and Rosco are gonna have to get goin'."
"Already?" she whined.
"I'm afraid so. Sheriff Fuller only allows a half hour for visitin' and the half hour's almost up."
"Oh okay," she said, although clearly not happy with Finchburg County's jail policies. She gave her father another hug and then a kiss on the cheek and climbed down off his lap.
Sheriff Fuller was already on his way down to the cell. When he got there he announced that the time was up and he unlocked the door.
Rosco and MaryAnne stepped through the door and then Frank closed and locked it.
"Frank," Eli said, "can you take MaryAnne with you? I wanna talk to Rosco alone for just a second."
Frank nodded. "Sure."
"Bye, Papa," MaryAnne said.
"Bye-bye, sweetheart. You be good to your Uncle Raleigh and Aunt Abby, ya hear?"
"I will." MaryAnne then followed Frank down the hall. When they disappeared through the door, Eli looked at Rosco.
"Be very careful what you promise her, Rosco."
"What was I supposed to say? 'Sure, your Papa will be home for Thanksgiving. In about thirty years.'"
"I don't want you to get her hopes up for anything. And besides, what I said before still stands. I'm more concerned about her welfare than I am my own."
"Well then, that's where you and I differ in our priorities. I'm concerned about her welfare too. But I'm also concerned about getting you out of here. So you will be home by Thanksgiving." Rosco said definitively. "Of THIS year."
* * *