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 Four)
By Lisa Philbrick
'The Sheriff's Prayer' is a real thing, but I altered it a little to fit the time period. I honestly don't know if it was written prior to 1963, but it seemed appropriate for the story.
"Well, I've got one thing to say to you, Rosco," Doc Petticord said as he placed his remaining ace bandages in his medical bag.
"Stay the heck away from horses."
Rosco smiled as Jesse, Raleigh and Abby laughed.
Doc Petticord looked at Raleigh and Abby. "He's gonna be sore for a couple of days, but he didn't break or dislocate nothin'."
"Except maybe my brain," Rosco piped in as he fixed his uniform shirt over the ace bandages wrapped around his shoulder and arm.
Raleigh gave his son a disagreeing look.
"Well?" Rosco said, catching his father's look. "I mean, what dang fool jumps out of a car at 55 miles an hour, just as it's about to plunge into a creek?" He pointed to himself. "Me."
"Rosco, you were under fire," Raleigh said. "If you hadn't jumped out, you wouldn't be here now having this conversation."
"That's right," Abby said.
"What bothers me more," Raleigh continued, "is that Ellis was trying to kill you. And there ain't no tellin' what he might try to do my own brother."
"I was thinking of that too," Rosco said. "I can't touch Emerson or Bryar, but I think I know how to put a stop to Ellis."
"How's that?" Raleigh asked.
"Well, if I can get to Atlanta, maybe I can get his superiors to listen to what's been going on. There can't be any way that Ellis is working under the authority of the ATF. They'd NEVER allow any agent to act like this. So I figure if they can come down on him from that point of view that could help bring all this mess to a stop."
Raleigh was nodding. "You've got another card you can play too."
"How? He ain't on our side anymore. Emerson got to him."
"Right," Raleigh said. He paused and then said, "When you broke out of jail, Sheriff Fuller chased after you, right?"
Rosco nodded. "Then Ellis showed up and joined the chase. Frank was behind Ellis when he was chasin' and shootin' at me."
"Exactly. Frank witnessed what Ellis did. Only a few folks know you're okay and ALIVE, and we're all standing right here."
"That's right," Rosco said, letting his sight drift to the floor as he thought. "They all think I'm dead."
Abby had a questioning look on her face. "I don't understand."
Jesse smiled. "What he's thinking is, if you and Raleigh raise a ruckus about Rosco here being "killed," you're bound to get the Sheriff over in Finchburg to turn around and tell what really happened when Rosco went into that creek."
“Right,” Raleigh said. “Which means we better get a move on. We’ve gotta make sure the town knows you’ve disappeared and have possibly ‘passed on’ and Abby, you and me got a memorial service to plan.” Raleigh gave his wife a sly smile.
“Wonderful,” Abby said.
Rosco smiled. “Make it really pretty, Mama. And just think of all the nice things folks will say about me. Well, hopefully nice things.”
“Rosco, hush!” Abby scolded.
“There is tho’, a couple other folks we should let know what’s really going on,” Raleigh said.
“Who?” Abby asked.
“Boss and Lulu.” Rosco said.
Raleigh looked at his son and nodded.
“Yet knowing J.D. and Lulu,” Jesse said. “I’m sure they’ll be the perfect compliment to this shuck and jive.”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Raleigh said.
Jesse smiled. “Alright, I’ll spread the word around town and let J.D. and Lulu know what’s up.”
“And as for you,” Abby said, looking at her son, “you’re gonna rest until it’s time for you to go to Atlanta and I don’t want any fussin’ about it. After all you’ve gone through today, you should take it easy.”
Rosco nodded and sighed. “I wasn’t gonna argue. I feel like I could sleep for a week!”
* * *
Hazzard County, Georgia
Wednesday, November 20, 1963
The next day, the town of Hazzard was waking up to the news that their Sheriff was missing and presumed drowned in Chilsom Creek. Everyone in town already knew that Eli Coltrane had been arrested and they figured that something, or someone had declared open season on Coltranes. The previous evening, Jesse had gone to the cafe in town and made the announcement. That was enough to get the ball rolling and before the church bells rang the next morning, everyone in town knew that Rosco had been falsly arrested in Finchburg while trying to prove his uncle innocent, had escaped jail and was followed by the Finchburg Sheriff. Many agreed that whether or not the Finchburg Sheriff’s actions were intentionally malicious remained to be proved. But what had happened did not sit well with the citizens of Hazzard.
The memorial service had been scheduled for seven that evening. That gave Rosco the day to rest, and gave time for the events of the previous day to settle a bit. Over in Finchburg County, Sheriff Fuller was reporting to the courthouse after only getting four hours of sleep. All he could think about was the young Hazzard Sheriff and what Agent Ellis had allowed to happen.
In the plain language of the law, Frank knew he was an accessory to murder, albeit after the fact. This turned his stomach in knots enough so that he couldn’t even have his usual cup of coffee upon arriving to work. He simply looked at the pot one of his deputies had prepared and then turned to his desk.
The courthouse was quiet, atleast. Agent Ellis wasn’t parked at the spare deputies desk in the corner keeping an eagle eye on things. The phone wasn’t ringing, Frank’s three deputies were probably out on patrol. Yes, the courthouse was very quiet.
Down the hall, Eli was laying awake in his jail cell. One of the deputies left a breakfast tray which Eli had picked at, but the unease of not knowing what happened to Rosco hampered his appetite. Had he really got away from Frank? Did Ellis have something do with all of this? Eli remembered Raleigh saying something about the creepy answers he had got from Frank and Ellis. Raleigh had been concerned that something dire had happened to his son and now Eli was starting to wonder if something did.
Will somebody please tell me what the hell is going on??
Eli heard the echo of the telephone ringing in the Sheriff’s office. He strained his ears to listen and heard Frank answer.
The courthouse was exceptionally quiet now, as Frank stood listening to Boss Hogg tell him that there would be a memorial service that evening for Rosco.
“Maybe they’ll find him today,” Boss said softly. “But I just thought I should let you know. You’re welcome to come if you like. I don’t think anyone here holds you responsible for what happened. I mean, these things happen, cars go out of control.”
Frank found himself gripped in guilt. Oh god...what have I done?
“Mr. Hogg,” he blurted. “I...” He couldn’t admit it. How could he run from Ellis? “I’m sorry,” he continued. “He had a very bright future ahead of him and a lot of potential. I will be there this evening to pay tribute to a fine officer.”
“Okay. We’ll see you later then.”
Frank slowly hung up the phone. He swallowed hard and glanced towards the door that led to the jail cells. He couldn’t even bring himself to tell his friend that his nephew was gone. Especially not knowing what he knew. With a lonesome sigh, Frank sat down at his desk.
Across the street at the telephone company, the operator was dialing Steve Daniels number.
“Steve? It’s Jean. Something’s happened to Eli’s nephew, Rosco. They’re having a memorial service for him over in Hazzard this evening.”
“Memorial service?” Steve said, dumbfounded. “My God...he’s dead?”
“I guess his car went into Chilsom Creek. He...never came out. Steve, I’m sorry, but I thought you should know, I know how Eli’s your friend and all.”
Steve was quiet for a moment. “Yeah...” he said softly. “Yeah...thanks, Jean. I’m gonna go see Eli, see if he’s okay.”
“Okay, Steve. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. Talk to you later.”
* * *
News spread just as fast through Finchburg County as it had through Hazzard. Gerald Emerson heard it as he walked to his office and past by three women standing on the sidewalk infront of the beauty parlor.
“...he was so young. You know Eli Coltrane’s his uncle. Tsk, first Eli’s thrown in jail, now his nephew’s killed. Ain’t been nothing but bad luck for those Coltranes....”
Gerald kept walking. What the hell did Roger Ellis do? He picked up his pace and jogged up the stairs of the building where his office was located. He walked down the hall to his office and stepped in to see Roger Ellis and Jason Bryar sitting waiting for him.
Gerald stopped and closed the door behind him. He glared at Roger and slowly stepped towards the ATF agent. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? When I said I wanted Rosco removed permanently I meant stripping him of his badge and throwing him in jail, NOT what you did.”
Roger shrugged. “What’s it matter? Hazzard’s gonna need a new Sheriff and I know just the man for the job.”
“None of this was supposed to be an opportunity for you to act out a personal vendetta. I could care less that you were beat by a 26-year-old kid five years ago for the office of Sheriff.”
Roger stood up suddenly. “He embarrased the hell outta me! I’ve been in law enforcement for over 15 years and I was beat by a night rent-a-cop in a home made uniform!”
“Maybe the citizens of Hazzard found him to be a more competent law man than you,” Jason said.
Roger spun around to him. “I should have won. That badge was supposed to be mine!”
“Shut up,” Gerald said firmly. “I am NOT going to be tied in to murder. Certainly not the murder of a Sheriff. That’s when they start bringing in the Marshal’s office and we don’t need more friggin’ law officers crawling around here now.”
“I ain’t goin’ down for it,” Ellis said.
Gerald looked at him. “Yes,” he said. “You are. And you’re going down alone. You should have thought of that before you made him go into that creek.”
Roger stood silent for a moment, shaking slightly with rage. “They couldn’t prove it. First, they ain’t got no body. And second, the only witness to the whole thing, ain’t gonna talk anyways, because if he did, he’d be implicapting you and your plot here.”
“Sheriff Fuller’s not my concern. You are right tho’, he won’t be talking. But what happened to Rosco Coltrane is your responsibilty and I will not tolerate any more actions like this. Do I make myself clear?”
Roger looked Gerald in the eye for a long moment. Finally, he looked away and nodded slightly.
“Alright. Now get the hell out of here, both of you.”
* * *
Frank looked up when the courthouse door opened. He cringed, thinking it was going to be Roger Ellis. But when he saw it was Steve Daniels, he relaxed a bit.
“’morning, Frank,” Steve greeted. He then looked at Frank cautiously as the Sheriff stood up. “How’s Eli?”
Frank hesitated. “You heard...about Rosco?”
“Yeah, Jean told me. Is Eli alright? How’d he take it?”
Frank couldn’t look at Steve any more. He turned away slightly and stepped towards the book case. “He doesn’t know...” he said softly.
Steve looked at the Sheriff. “Frank...you can’t keep something like this from him. It’s his nephew!”
“I know!” Frank replied and turned back to Steve. “But I can’t bring myself to go in there and tell him. Steve, I....” Frank’s voice softened. “I... I was the one chasin’ after Rosco when he went into the creek...” Frank dropped his gaze and covered the bottom half of his face with his left hand. “I can’t go in there and tell him...”
“Frank, he has to know,” Steve said. “Do you want me to go in and tell him?”
“But...he’ll want to know what happened. He knows I went after him. He’ll think I...” Frank swallowed. “He’ll think I...killed him.”
“It was an accident, Frank.” Steve stepped towards the shamed Sheriff. “Frank, the worse you’re doing right now is not telling him. I’ll go tell him for you okay?”
Frank nodded slowly. “Alright. But Steve...tell him I’m sorry..?”
Steve nodded. “I will.” He stepped out of the way so Frank could unlock the door that led to the cells. Frank hesitated a moment and then pulled the keys off his gun belt and walked to the door. He unlocked it and let Steve go ahead down the hall.
Eli sat up on his cot when he heard the door down the hall clang open. He sat and waited for the person to show themselves infront of the bars and when he saw it was Steve he stood up to greet his friend.
“Hey, Eli,” Steve said softly.
“What’s the matter? Steve, you wouldn’t by any chance have any idea what’s been goin’ on do ya? Like where Rosco is?”
Steve hesitated. “Um, Eli, I’m afraid I have some...bad news for you...”
Eli grabbed the cell bars. “Steve...he’s not..? No...no way..”
“Eli, I’m sorry. They found his patrol car in Chilsom Creek...but they didn’t find him...”
Eli’s hands dropped from the bars and he turned away from his friend. He was quiet for several moments and then finally took a deep breath. “My God...it’s a joke ain’t it? For God’s sake, Steve, tell me it’s some kind of joke...”
“I don’t think so...”
Eli closed his eyes. “Oh man...Raleigh...Abby...MaryAnne....aww dammit!”
Steve didn’t know what to say at this point. He knew his friend had been through enough in the past year, starting with the death of his wife then the recent events of MaryAnne being taken to an orphanage as a result of his being unfairly jailed. Now his nephew was dead. Trying to tell him that everything would be okay seemed asinine.
Eli stood clenching his fist, thinking the same things. Why was it that nothing seemed to be going right for him anymore?
“Frank says he’s sorry. There’s going to be a memorial service for him this evening,” Steve said finally. “I thought I should go...”
Eli turned back to his friend and nodded. “Yeah, that would be nice of you. Maybe you can see if Raleigh and Abby are holding up okay and MaryAnne. Tell them I wish I could be there.”
“I’ll do that.” Steve sighed. “I am sorry, Eli. He was a heck of a law officer.”
“He was also just a young kid. Well, maybe 31 isn’t a kid, but young atleast.” Eli shook his head. “I can’t believe he’s gone...”
* * *
The turnout for the memorial service surprised even Raleigh and Abby. Hazzard’s small church was quickly filling with town folk, who stopped and expressed their condolences to the Coltranes and Boss Hogg, who stood at the back of the church. Jesse watched from the front, standing with the preacher. He wondered if Lulu had missed her calling in theater. She played the grieving sibling almost too well. Raleigh and Abby were the ‘still-in-shock’ parents, experiencing the tragedy of losing a child, albeit an adult child.
It looked convincing, which was all that was needed. Even the kids were doing good. Jesse looked over at Luke, Bo and Daisy who were sitting with MaryAnne in the second pew. Rosco and Raleigh had explained to her that she had to ‘make pretend’ that Rosco was missing and had to ‘act sad.’ And she was. She sat quietly with the Duke cousins looking sad faced and staring down at the floor. Luke and Daisy were quiet as well, yet they didn’t know what was really going on. Bo was too young to understand and sat between Luke and Daisy a little restless, but other wise behaving.
When the church bell struck 7 p.m. everyone sat down and the minister stood at the front of the church. He opened his prayer book and looked at everyone gathered. Just before he spoke, however, the door at the back of the church opened. Several folks turned to look to see who it was, including Jesse, Raleigh and Boss Hogg.
It was Sheriff Fuller. He was in uniform and around his left arm was a black arm band. He only paused a moment, feeling nearly a hundred eyes looking at him, some suspiciously. He gave a quick nod to the preacher and sat down at the back of the church.
Raleigh, Jesse and Boss Hogg all glanced at each other.
Looks like we got his attention...
Once the room was quiet again, the minister began.
“Friends, we are gathered here this evening in the hopes that, with our prayers and thoughts, a tragedy has not befallen one of ours. In this day in age there is much fear and uncertainty in our world and now it becomes more difficult at this moment with the fear and uncertainty that Hazzard County has lost her young Sheriff.”
Lulu dabbed at her eyes with a tissue and gave a sniffle. Raleigh glanced at his watch and figured Rosco to be leaving the house by now.
“We can pray that perhaps he has survived and will rejoin us soon. So I ask now that you all join me in a prayer written by G.D. Downing simply titled, ‘The Sheriff’s Prayer.’”
Everyone in the church bowed their heads.
"Oh, Almighty God, whose great power and eternal wisdom embraces the universe please watch over all our sheriffs. Protect them in their everyday duties. Give them the strength to accomplish the difficult task that lie before them. Give them the wisdom and quick reactions that will result in the safety of the people in their community. God, protect these brave men and grant them your Almighty protection and please unite them safely with their families after their duty has ended." The preacher paused and then added his own line. “Lord, we ask you to watch over Rosco now where ever he is and if it is within your divine power, to allow him to return safely home to his family. Amen.”
“Amen,” came the congregated reply.
“Amen...” Raleigh whispered.
* * *
Rosco flinched a little as he put on his uniform jacket over his sore shoulder. He tugged at the jacket and straightened it and then buttoned the buttons. Abby had spent most of the day cleaning the jacket after the beating it had taken along with Rosco at Chilsom Creek. The jacket was looking pretty good. Rosco only felt half as much better than he did before.
He turned from the mirror and picked up his hat from the chair. In his hand were the keys to his father’s truck, which the older Coltrane had asked, with a smile, for Rosco to not wreck this evening.
“Cute,” Rosco had said. “Real cute, Dad.”
But the Sheriff had chuckled at it anyway. Rosco jingled the keys and turned to the front door.
Outside, parked across across the street, sat ATF agent Henry Phelps. He had been ordered by Roger Ellis to watch the Coltrane house, more or less because the little girl, MaryAnne, was a witness to what had happened when Rosco had been arrested. Although only six years old, she could become trouble. Big trouble.
So Henry watched. He had seen the family leave to go to town, but had found it odd that the house still had several lights on. So he stayed behind and watched and just after 7 pm, the lights started to go out. Then he saw somebody come out of the house and in the light of the porch he recognized the Hazzard County Sheriff.
“Well now...” Henry said softly. “He’s looking pretty good for a dead person...” He watched Rosco get into a Chevy pick up truck and as the truck started to drive away, Henry started his car. He drove the Ford around and followed the truck and picked up his radio mike.
“This is Agent 18 calling the Chief.”
Roger Ellis was camped out at the Finchburg courthouse. He went over to the radio set that was near the filing cabinet, next to the door that led to the jail cells. “Go ahead, 18.”
“I thought the Hazzard Sheriff was...missing?”
“He is. Or, he should be. Why?”
“Well, he’s alive and well. He just left the house and is in a pick up truck. I don’t know where he’s going tho’.”
Ellis narrowed his eyes. That son of a-- “Follow him! He must be trying to pull some kind of shuck and jive.”
* * *
The minister had closed his prayer book and had asked if anyone wanted to say anything. Several people did. Isaiah Davenport started and with each person Raleigh started to feel a little more guilty. They were all saying nice things about Rosco, and Raleigh wondered how it was going look when everything was all over with.
Raleigh shook his head a bit. If this whole thing nails Roger Ellis and gets my brother out of jail, nobody’s gonna care at that point.
When the service ended, and everyone gathered outside, Raleigh saw that Sheriff Fuller seemed to be hesitating in leaving. Many of the folks looked at him suspciously as they walked by, but Frank was keeping his eyes to the ground, holding his hat in his hands.
Jesse saw this too and he nodded to Raleigh and J.D. He walked over to the Sheriff.
Frank looked up with a start. “Oh, uh...yes?”
Jesse put his hand out. “Jesse Duke. I’m a friend of Rosco’s and his family.”
Frank shook Jesse’s hand and nodded. “I’m very sorry about what happened.”
“Well, I can tell you that the family’s glad you came. None of them hold you responsible for what happened. No sir. In fact...” Jesse glanced around him to make sure no one was listening. “I believe that it’s quite possible Rosco was....murdered.”
Frank swallowed. “How--how do you figure?”
“Well, I think that possibly Rosco’s patrol car was tampered with, that’s why he lost control and went into the creek when you were chasin’ him. Rosco’s a fair driver, he ain’t too particular on having finesse behind the wheel, but I can’t figure any other way he could have lost control of that car the way he did. I even have an idea of who may have tampered with the car.”
“There’s an ATF agent, Roger Ellis. He and Rosco have been enemies since Rosco beat him out of the Sheriff’s badge back in ‘58. I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t mind seeing Rosco dead.” Jesse eyed Frank, who was not meeting Jesse’s gaze. “Of course, if he ain’t above murderin’ one Sheriff, he ain’t above killin’ another.”
Frank looked at Jesse now. He gripped his hat a little tighter.
Now I’ve REALLY got his attention.
“Um...Mr. Duke,” Frank said. “Would it be possible to speak to you and Rosco’s family. Privately?”
“I take it you want to help investigate the terrible loss of a fellow officer?”
Frank nodded. “He was a hell of a law man.” He paused. “And I may have some...information to support your theory.”
* * *
Agent Phelps followed the pick up to Route 35 and as soon as Rosco shifted gears and picked up speed, Henry knew exactly where he was going.
“Chief, this is 18. He just turned onto 35, headin’ to Atlanta.”
Roger swung around and looked at the radio set. “Dammit!” He stepped over and grabbed the mike. “He’s probably gonna try to get to Commander Donovan. I’m gonna put a stop to that right now. Keep after him. He’s now an escaped prisoner, armed and dangerous. You understand?”
“What’s the truck he’s driving look like?”
“Brown Chevy...probably a ‘52 or ‘53.”
“Alright. I’m out.”
Roger turned the channel on the radio. “This is Roger Ellis of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms calling the Georgia State Patrol. We’ve had a jail break in Finchburg County. The escapee is armed and is considered dangerous. Is heading south on Route 35 in Hazzard County, heading towards Atlanta in a brown 1952 or ‘53 Chevrolet pick up truck. I repeat, he is armed and considered dangerous. Take any means necessary to stop him!”
Rosco, meanwhile, was just trucking along whistling to the tune of ‘Honky Tonk Man.’ His peaceful drive however, soon was filled with the sound of a siren wailing in the distance. He looked in his mirrors and saw the red light flickering in the night behind him.
Then he saw more up ahead in the distance. Something was up so Rosco turned his father’s CB radio to the police frequency to find out just what exactly that was.
“...brown 1953 Chevy pick up truck, heading south on Route 35. Suspect has escaped from the Finchburg County jail and is considered armed and dangerous. He is to be stopped by any means necessary.”
Rosco gulped. The description of his father’s truck and the mention of Finchburg County was all he needed, to know they were after him. He looked at his rearview mirror again and saw the red lights were getting closer. Rosco shifted gears and stepped on the accelerator, weaving around the car infront of him. The car’s horn blared in response as Rosco took off down the road. The State Patrol cruiser flew past the car and went after the truck.
“He just took off,” a voice over the radio announced. “This is 41 , I’m in hot pursuit.”
“That’s what you think,” Rosco said. He kept the Chevy on a straight run along Route 35, staying ahead of the cruiser for a couple of miles. He saw the red flashing lights about a mile ahead but Rosco kept the truck flying. He wasn’t about to let Ellis have his victory. Not without a fight.
The State Patrol officers saw the headlights coming fast and weaving in and out of traffic with red flashing lights behind it. Officers started running as one of them shouted, “Block the road!” Patrol cars squealed into action and four of them straddled across the road.
“41 this is Unit 6. The road ahead of you is blocked. Be prepared if he tries to double back.”
Rosco saw the road block. He squinted his eyes, trying to see if there was any room to squeeze by, even if it meant damaging the truck. But there was no room. The guard rail on one side and the narrow ditch on the other were not promising. He sighed heavily and let off the gas, downshifting the truck. The cruiser behind him turned in the road, blocking behind him and Rosco brought the truck to a stop, turning it to the side.
Rosco had more shot guns pointing at him than prime deer on the first day of hunting season. He held on to the top of the steering wheel tight, looking at each State Patrol officer that was facing the truck and prayed that they wouldn’t full him and the truck full of holes before they asked questions.
Well, everybody’s already at my memorial service...
Rosco swallowed, realizing his heart was pounding now. Suddenly a bright white spotlight shined onto the truck and Rosco scrunched up his eyes, trying not to look directly at the intense light.
“Throw your weapon out on to the road and step out of the truck with your hands up!!”
Slowly, Rosco took his hands off the steering wheel and undid his gunbelt. He rolled down the window and tossed the belt and gun out on to the road. He paused a second and then pulled the latch and opened the door.
Click! Click! Click!
“Jit jit,” Rosco said softly. Slowly, Rosco raised his hands. His right arm only went up so far, but he made sure to keep his hand as far out as possible. As officers started to approach him, Rosco thought of his family. Eli who was still in jail, MaryAnne who seemed to be losing family members left and right, his mother and father. He thought of his friends. He thought of all these things and he frowned in disgust, thinking Roger Ellis had finally won his victory.
At the Finchburg County courthouse, Roger Ellis was smiling.
“They got him, Chief,” Agent Phelps reported from the scene. “The State Patrol caught him.”
Ellis chuckled. Nothing could stop him now. He glanced at the door that led to the jail cells. He smirked and opened the door.
Eli took a deep breath, a little preturbed that somebody was going to bother him while he was grieving. He looked up towards the bars and hallway and when he saw it was Roger Ellis, his stomach went sour and he turned away from Roger.
“Oh for crying out loud,” Eli muttered. “Can’t you leave me and my family alone?”
“I thought you’d want to hear some good news, Eli,” Roger said, ignoring Eli’s comment. “By the grace of god your nephew is alive.”
Eli spun around and looked at Ellis. Slowly he shook his head, not believing the man and certainly having no reason to believe him.
“Yeah don’t get too excited. He’s now in the custody of the State Patrol,” Ellis gloated. “Guess I’ll finally see the end of your nephew. Who knows, I might be on a roll. Maybe I'll put an end to the whole Coltrane line, while I'm at it. Like you,...your little girl..."
Silence hung in the jail and Eli saw red. He rushed towards Ellis and poked his hands through the bars and grabbed the ATF agent’s shirt. He pulled hard, slamming Ellis right into the bars. In a quick motion, Eli grabbed Roger’s gun and shoved the revolver into the man’s neck.
Ellis stopped squirming when he felt the cold metal on his skin. He looked at Eli.
“You think I ain’t gonna use this gun don’t you?” Eli growled. “Well you’re wrong. You either open this door, or I’m gonna put an end to you right here, right now.”
“I ain’t got the key,” Ellis replied.
“Like heck you don’t. It’s right there on your gunbelt. Now open the door!”
Ellis hesitated and then fumbled to get the key off the key ring on his gunbelt.
Eli kept a tight grip on Roger’s shirt and listened as the key jangled in the lock box. When the lock gave, the door moved slightly and slowly Eli pushed it open, still hanging on to Ellis. When it was open wide enough, Eli stepped out of the cell.
He let go of Roger and kept the gun pointed at him. He was about to tell him to step inside of the cell when Ellis pushed the cell door which slammed against Eli’s right hand.
The ridgerunner yelped in pain. Ellis kept on the offensive and kocked the gun from Eli’s left hand and then pushed the man back against the wall. Eli struggled and managed to get a fist up and into Roger’s face, sending the ATF agent stumbling a bit. Eli grabbed Roger and pushed him against the jail cell and then ran down the hall and out of the courthouse into the cool night air.
Roger got to his feet and shook out the cobwebs. He picked up his gun and went after Eli. As he stumbled out of the courthouse, he heard the sound of a gunning engine. He looked towards the drive leading to the impound in time to see Eli’s truck go flying by. Roger wasted no time and ran to his car. He was going to put an end to the whole thing, he didn’t care what Gerald Emerson said.
It was going to end now...
At the Coltrane house, Raleigh, Abby, Jesse, Boss and Lulu were all watching Sheriff Fuller. He had just finished his confession, directing most of it to Raleigh and Abby seeing as it was their son that was involved. Now he had paused a moment to take a deep breath, and letting everything sink in with his captive audience. He dropped his gaze momentarily and then looked up at Raleigh.
“Mr. Coltrane, I’m very sorry this happened. It shouldn’t have happened. I shouldn’t have allowed it.”
“Sheriff Fuller,” Raleigh said. “I appreciate your honesty. And I know that it’s taken a lot of courage for you to come to us and tell us what you know, especially with what Roger Ellis has shown that he’s not afraid of trying to do. I think it’s only fair that we confess to you that Rosco is okay. He’s alive.”
“He is??” Frank asked suddenly feeling like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
Raleigh smiled. “He is. He’s on his way to Atlanta to let the ATF know what Ellis is really up to and hopefully bring all of this to a stop.”
Frank let out an incredible sigh of relief. “Oh I’m so glad he’s okay!”
“I’m sorry we had to kind of jive you a little bit,” Raleigh said. “But we had to get the truth about what really happened out of SOMEBODY.”
Frank smiled a little bit. “Well, thankfully he’s okay. I suppose I should thank you for jivin’ me. I don’t know if I would have told what really happened otherwise, not with what Emerson and Ellis have got hanging over me.”
“We can nail both of them, if you’ll help us,” Raleigh siad. “However, I’m not so sure how intact your badge is going to be when this is over with.”
Frank nodded and sighed. “I made a mistake and it’s a decision I’m going to have to live with long after I retire. I realize that my badge has been tarnished somewhat by this, but if I can help put a stop to Gerald Emerson and Roger Ellis, than it’s a sacrafice I’m willing to make.”
Raleigh nodded. “As soon as Rosco gets back from Atlanta, we’ll let you know when we’ll need you.”
“Fair enough,” Frank said. He stood, as did everyone else and extended his hand to Raleigh. The Coltrane patriach shook it and smiled at the man. Frank returned the smile but it faded a little. “I am sorry that all of this has happened.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Raleigh said. “I think we’ll all feel better when this is all over with tomorrow.”
Frank nodded. He then said goodbye to everyone and headed out to his patrol car.
As he walked to the car, he heard the sound of a radio transmission having just ended. He got into the car and listened.
“Route 35, Hazzard County. Suspect is Rosco Pervis Coltrane, Sheriff of Hazzard County....this is joke ain’t it?”
“ATF made the call. Agent Roger Ellis of Finchburg County.”
“Well, we got him. I don’t know what the heck promted the ATF to think that Coltrane was dangerous.”
“Was he armed?”
“Well, of course he was armed! A Sheriff would have to be a damn fool nowadays to walk around with out his gun.”
“Alright, I’m going to forward this to Finchburg. Maybe Roger Ellis can tell us what the heck is going on.”
Frank quickly changed the channel on his radio and picked up the mike. “This is Sheriff Fuller calling Deputy Thompson. Come in.”
“Frank, where the hell are you?!”
“I’m in Hazzard County. Listen, I just heard the State Patrol channel and they caught Sheriff Coltrane.”
“Yeah! I thought he was dead. Man, I don’t know what the heck is going on.”
“It’s a long story, but he ain’t dead. Did Roger Ellis order the State Police after him?”
“He did. Said Coltrane was armed and dangerous. Can you believe that? The guy don’t look like he could hurt a fly! But that ain’t all, Frank. Eli just escaped from jail and Agent Ellis went after him.”
“Oh great...” Frank pushed the talk button. “Amos, listen, go after him. Help Eli if you can alright?”
“What?! Go AGAINST the ATF? Frank, that’s like a black man walking into an all white diner. You DON’T do that unless you expect to be severely reprimanded!”
“Amos, just do it, alright? Roger Ellis is gonna have a enough trouble in a few minutes. I’m gone.”
Frank jumped out of his patrol car and jogged back to the Coltrane house.
This truck was not built for high speeds. Eli turned the steering hard to the left, skidding the back end of the truck around as he tried to turn on to another road. Roger was right behind him in the Ford sedan, the car nipping at the back end of the truck like a hound dog on a rabbit. Eli now had to rely on other driving tricks, seeing as speed was not his advantage in this race. He planted the accelerator to the floor, managing to keep ahead of the Ford and swayed the truck back and forth, keeping Ellis at bay.
As the chase crossed over into Hazzard, Eli decided to take a risk and broadcast a mayday on the CB. He grabbed the mike and made his call.
“This is Eli Coltrane calling anybody out there, any friend who may be listening. I’m in trouble. Rosco’s been caught by the State Patrol and I’ve got Roger Ellis right on my tail.”
At the Coltrane house, everyone was just coming out of the house when Eli’s call came over the airwaves. Raleigh, Jesse and J.D. gathered at Jesse’s truck and Raleigh grabbed the CB mike.
“Eli, this is Raleigh. Where are you?”
“I’m on Route 43, I just crossed over into Hazzard. Raleigh, the State Patrol’s got Rosco.”
“I know. Frank told us. Keeping him running, Eli, you’ve got help coming.”
“Raleigh, wait a minute. Is it true? That Rosco’s alive? I mean, good Lord, I thought he was dead!”
“It’s true, he’s alive. Listen, little brother I can explain everything later. First thing we have to do is get you out of Ellis’s clutches and get Rosco out of hock with the State Patrol. So just hang on.”
Raleigh tossed the CB mike onto the front seat of Jesse’s truck and turned to everyone.
“Okay. J.D will you go with Abby and Lulu here and try to see if you can talk some sense to the State Patrol?”
“And me!” MaryAnne exclaimed, jumping up and down. “I wanna go too!”
“You’re gonna have to anyway.” Raleigh looked at Boss. “I’d rather she go with you than with me and Jesse.”
Raleigh then turned to Jesse. “If you think we’re gonna need some help, we can give Isaiah a call.”
“Well, considerin’ all we got is my pick up, we better go see him. We might be able to borrow a car.”
“Alright. Let’s get goin’ everybody.”
Raleigh turned to walk around Jesse’s truck and he stopped when he saw Frank was still standing there. He looked at the Sheriff for a moment and then sighed. “Frank, I know you have to do whatever you have to. Eli’s an escaped prisoner and you have to go after him, so you might as well git.”
Frank nodded and put his hat on again. He turned and walked to his patrol car. After he drove away, Raleigh looked at Jesse.
“Alright, let’s go.”
Rosco, meanwhile, was still standing by his father’s truck, in the bright white spotlight. When he had finally been able to identify himself, the head officer just looked at him, kind of like a deer caught in headlights. “Why the hell would the ATF issue a call for an escaped prisoner on a county SHERIFF?” he had asked.
“It’s a very long story,” Rosco had replied. “If you want, I can try to explain.”
So Rosco did. Now he was waiting while the officer called into headquaters trying to get answers to a whole lot of questions.
Driving fast at night was nothing new to Eli. Driving fast at night in his truck, however, was. Twice he had hit bumps he normally would have just leap frogged over, but the truck took them hard, and Eli wondered just how much of a truck he was going to have left when this was all over with. Ellis had come along side the light blue Chevy three times, leaving dark blue paint lines on the back fender and several dents. Eli kept the ATF agent at bay as much as he could, but each passing minute was feeling like an eternity waiting for help to show up.
Eli snaked the truck down another road. The move surprised Ellis and he almost missed the turn. Eli managed to spread the distance between himself and Roger and he picked up his CB mike.
“Raleigh, if you’re coming, it would have been nice if was about five minutes ago!”
In town, Raleigh and Jesse were about to pull up to Isaiah’s garage when Eli’s call came. Raleigh grabbed the mike.
“We’re coming, Eli. Jesse’s on his way, I gotta grab another car.” Raleigh dropped the mike and opened the door just as Jesse brought the truck to a stop at the garage. He jumped out and closed the door and Jesse drove off.
“Right here,” Isaiah said as he came out of the office. “I heard some of it on the CB.”
“Yeah, I can explain later, but I need to borrow a car.”
Isaiah smiled and waved a finger for Raleigh to follow him. “It just so happens I have the very thing you need at the rear of this here establishment.”
Raleigh followed Isaiah to the back of the garage. Parked off to one side was a car under a car cover. Isaiah walked over to it and pulled the cover back to reveal in the flood light a burgundy colored brand new Thunderbird.
“Whoa! Isaiah, this car’s brand new!”
“Eh, it’s actually about a year old. Don’t worry about it, Raleigh, she’s fast. Take her and go get Eli outta trouble. Just bring her back in one piece.”
Raleigh grinned. “I will.” He got into the car and found the keys in the ignition. He started the car and then looked at the mechanic.
Isaiah nodded and smiled. “Go teach that ATF feller some manners.”
The chase was still on. Doesn’t he give up? Eli wondered as he swerved the truck to cut the Ford off again. Ellis’s pursuit was relentless and Eli’s truck was taking a beating. Just when Eli thought things couldn’t get any worse, another car showed up.
At first, Eli thought it was help, but when he recognized the Finchburg Sheriff’s patrol car his relief turned right back to anxiety.
“Frank, this is Roger Ellis. I’m ordering you to stop Eli at all costs!”
Eli kept on driving despite hearing what he heard on the radio. The patrol car started creeping up on the passenger side of the truck. Eli had no choice but to let the Impala go by, there was no way he could out run it. Once the car was in front of him Eli could do nothing more than stare at the six tail lights.
“Stop him, Frank!”
But the Impala didn’t do anything. It continued to hang there, as if trying to decide if it should block the road or not.
“Frank, I’m ordering you!”
The Impala still didn’t do anything. Eli was now wondering just exactly what was going on.
Eli looked up briefly and saw another set of headlights coming down the road. He couldn’t tell in the dark of night if it was help finally arriving or one of Ellis’s boys. He decided to take no more chances and was about to cut the truck down an upcoming side road when the Impala started to move out of the way. Eli watched the car move and when there was enough room to get by, he took the chance and darted to the side of the Impala, which slowed down and let Eli go by.
The Coltrane moonshiner never looked back. He drove straight towards the other set of headlights, undeterred.
Those other headlights, however, belonged to Jesse Duke’s truck. Jesse saw the bright lights heading towards him and he grabbed up the CB mike.
“Eli! If that’s you barreling towards me, you better slow it down! It’s me, Jesse Duke!”
Eli slowed up a little and pulled to one side of road, so as not to hit Jesse and eventually came to a stop by the side of the road.
Meanwhile, Frank, had come to a decision. He let Roger’s Ford sedan come in line with the Impala. Roger had no idea what the Finchburg Sheriff was up to but was furious with him for letting Eli go by. Before he could pick up his radio mike to give Frank hell, the Impala started ramming into the Ford.
Coming from behind was Raleigh in the Thunderbird. He saw the two cars fighting with each other and as he got closer he recognized the Impala and the ATF car. Question was, was Roger trying to knock Frank off the road or the other way around?
Instinctively, Raleigh grabbed for a CB mike that wasn’t there.
“Oh geez, some flangle dangle car this is. No CB!” Raleigh stepped on the gas to keep up and after a few more hits from the Impala, the Ford went sliding off the road. The Impala pulled off to the side and Raleigh went right by. He saw the lights from two vehicles that were stopped up ahead and he drove on to join them.
Eli and Jesse were still sitting in their trucks, the driver sides facing each other. They watched as the car came closer and Raleigh turned the T-bird to the side so that when he stopped, he was facing the trucks.
“Eli! Are you alright?”
“I’m fine!” Eli then grinned at the car that shown in the headlights of Jesse’s truck. “Where’d you get them wheels, son?”
“I borrowed it from Isaiah. Listen, I sent J.D., Lulu and Abby to try to talk some sense to the State Patrol about Rosco, I think we oughta--”
The explosive sound of gunfire cut Raleigh short. All three looked back down the road and figured the worse. Raleigh backed the T-bird up and swung down the road followed by Jesse and then Eli.
When he came around the corner, Raleigh saw somebody standing by the Impala. He was about to slow down, thinking it was Frank, when the person turned around and Raleigh suddenly had a hole in the windshield of the T-bird.
Jesse and Eli heard the gunshot and saw the T-birds tail lights swerve to the side of the road. Eli grabbed up the CB mike. “Jesse, look out!”
Jesse pulled as far to the side of the road as he could. He drove past the man with the gun, and heard the sound of a bullet hitting the truck body.
Eli stopped his truck quick and killed the headlights. He watched as Jesse’s truck went up the road a ways and then stop. Raleigh’s T-bird was stopped at the side of the raod, across from where the gunman was standing. The gunman then started walking to the older Coltrane’s car.
“Raleigh!” Eli had his hand on the gear shift and was about to throw the truck in gear when the gunman reached the car. Suddenly light spilled out of the car as the driver door flew open and the gunman was knocked to the ground. Eli now put his truck in gear and the headlights blazed on.
Raleigh jumped out of the T-bird as Eli pulled up.
“Good Lord!” Eli called as he came up to his older brother. “I thought you’d been shot!”
“Well, we’re all gonna end up being shot if we don’t stop whoever this is,” Raleigh replied as he bent over the man on the ground and grabbed him by the shoulders. Eli grabbed an arm and once they had the man in the light of the headlights they both recognized him.
“Roger Ellis...” both Coltranes growled.
Jesse’s truck was returning to the scene as Eli said, “Hold on to him, I’m gonna teach this guy a lesson...”
“What?” Raleigh watched his younger brother wind up for the hit. “Eli, wait!”
Pow! Raleigh let go of Ellis and let the AFT man fall over the hood of the T-bird. He then looked at his brother, some what disapprovingly.
“Feel better now?”
Eli grinned. “Much.”
Jesse rushed over to them. “You two okay? Where’s Sheriff Fuller?”
“Yeah, we’re fine,” Raleigh said. “Frank...” The two Coltrane brothers looked at each other and Eli’s grin dropped. “Good Lord!” Raleigh exclaimed as he and Eli turned and looked at the Impala.
The driver door was wide open. There was a little light from the dome lamp and slowly they approached the car.
“Is he in there?” Raleigh asked. Eli was just a few steps ahead of his older brother and was the first one to look into the car.
“No, he’s not,” Eli said. “There’s nothing here.”
“Where’d the devil did he go?” Raleigh wondered.
“He may have took off into the woods, seeing as Ellis was about to try to kill him,” Eli said. “Atleast, we can assume that, seeing as he took shots at us.”
“Well, we gotta find him and make sure he’s alright,” Raleigh said.
“I don’t think we’re gonna have to look far...” Jesse said. Raleigh and Eli turned to him and saw he was standing on the other side of the big Chevy, looking down at the ground.
“Oh Lord...” Raleigh whispered as he and Eli walked around the back of the patrol car. They saw Frank lying on the ground and Jesse kneeled down to him.
“Jesse..?” Raleigh was hoping not to hear the worst.
Jesse checked the Sheriff for a pulse and then looked at Raleigh and Eli. “Well, he’s alive.”
“Is he shot?”
“Not as far as I can tell,” Jesse said. “It’s too dark.”
“Okay...we gotta get Ellis here some place where he won’t run away, and if Frank’s hurt we should get him to Tri-County.”
“I’ve got some rope in the back of my truck,” Eli said. “Well, I hope it’s still there. We can, uh...as Rosco would say, cuff an’ stuff Ellis with that.”
Raleigh chuckled. “Alright, let’s do it.”
* * *
Rosco was relieved when reinforcements showed up. Even if it was just his mother, sister, brother-in-law and little cousin.
“Leave my cousin alone!” MaryAnne had yelled at the troopers standing behind the bright white light. “He’s the best Sheriff in the state!”
“MaryAnne, hush!” Abby had scolded. But Rosco grinned with some pride. How many other six-year-olds would face down a unit of the State Patrol so gracefully? Despite the little girl’s definant claim, and the fact the head officer couldn’t get a straight answer from headquarters, Rosco was taken in for questioning.
Sheriff Fuller was fine. Eli and Jesse had no more than got him off the ground when he suddenly awoke, nearly falling from Eli’s grip. It turned out the Sheriff had seen Roger Ellis pull his gun and he had bailed out of his patrol car. Ellis took one shot and Frank had ducked behind his patrol car...and hit his head on the outside mirror. Eli, Raleigh and Jesse figured Ellis would have finished the Sheriff off for good if they hadn’t come rushing back down the road after the first shot. So the trip to Tri-County was put off for a bit. Instead they headed straight to the State Patrol headquarters in Atlanta, with Eli carrying a slightly extra load: A tied up ATF agent in the back of his pick up. It was an amusing display of the moonshiner having caught his ATF pursuer. Eli couldn’t help but grin and giggle during the whole drive to Atlanta.
When they arrived, they learned that Rosco was being questioned. Frank didn’t pause for conversation and went down the hall to talk to the troopers. After almost an hour, Rosco and Frank emerged, the Hazzard Sheriff free to go, the Finchburg Sheriff not.
Rosco stopped from walking towards his family and turned to Frank. The Finchburg Sheriff looked at his own badge and then slowly slipped it off, knowing it’s true meaning was now lost. He looked at the young law man with regret.
“Frank, I’m sorry...”
Frank shook his head. “No, it’s not your fault, son. But listen to me, it’s not worth it, Rosco. Don’t ever let the temptation get you. Don’t ever let your badge tarnish like I let mine. You’ll have nothing to show and nothing to be proud of if you do.”
There was a pecuilar silence that hung over the hall. Rosco watched Frank place the badge in his jacket pocket, out of site, no longer serving the purpose of identifying him as a law man. Frank then looked at Rosco.
Rosco just nodded, letting him know he heard. The troopers that stood on either side of Frank started to lead him away. Rosco watched them go and then turned to join his family.
Roger Ellis was collected out of the back of Eli’s truck and hauled off for questioning. No one was sorry to see him go and both Rosco and Eli hoped it was the last they would ever see of him.
“About the only thing I’ve found him to be good for,” Eli said, after they watched the AFT agent be led away, “is for adding weight to the back of the truck.”
He made a good fall guy too. Gerald Emerson and Jason Bryar couldn’t be charged with anything, despite Frank telling the State Patrol that the entire plot was concieved by them. Roger Ellis, however, took the fall for everything. Everything from Eli Coltrane’s arrest to the false charges against Rosco were “all my idea.” The State Patrol was content with that and by the end of the following day, the ATF had stripped Roger Ellis of his authority. In doing so, all charges against Eli and Rosco were dropped.
Rosco’s triumphant return to Hazzard, with his own badge still intact, was met with a celebration. Nearly everyone in Hazzard turned out for the festivities, glad to see Rosco was alive and okay, glad to see that Eli was out of jail and that the whole mess was now behind them all.
Raleigh apologized to Isaiah about what happened to the Thunderbird. Isaiah shrugged it off and then gave a smile. “That’s okay,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll pay for it in due time.”
“Well of course I’ll pay for it,” Raleigh said.
Rosco gave Isaiah a sly smile and then looked at his father. “Why don’t you just buy the car, dad? Khee!” he said.
“Buy the car? And just what exactly would you expect me to do with that thing? It doesn’t even have a CB in it!”
“I could put one in,” Isaiah said. “I can fix the window, put a CB in and give you the car in real good deal.”
Raleigh shook his head. “No, that’s okay. I’ll pay for the repair to the window and that’s it.”
“Papa has a Thunda-bird,” MaryAnne said.
“Yup, that’s right I do,” Eli said. He then looked at Rosco. “Come to think of it tho’, you don’t have a car of your own...”
“Oh no, you ain’t gonna sucker me into buying it,” Rosco said.
Eli chuckled. “Think of it, Rosco. A young bachelor like yourself, that car would be perfect. You’d have ladies crawling out of the woodwork.”
Rosco rolled his eyes. “Right.”
“Yeah, right,” Jesse said. “With Rosco here, he’d be more likely to crash the car INTO the woodwork!”
“Doh! Jesse...” Rosco said.
Everyone else started laughing and soon enough Rosco was giggling too. Not so much because what Jesse said was humorous, but because everyone was there to be a part of it. Eli was reunited with his daughter, he was out of jail and Rosco was out of trouble as well. It was a sweet, innocent moment filled with laughter and much relief. It was a moment to be enjoyed, even if the joke was at the expense of Rosco. Because little did any of them know just exactly what lie ahead and the history they would soon be witness to.
Back to the Coltranes of Finchburg.