**** **** ****
Details were something the law was trying to lay out back in town as the clock moved closer to the noon hour. Roger, Bill, Rosco and MaryAnne were at the courthouse with a map of Hazzard County spread out on the booking desk. Pencil marks indicated what sectors on the map were areas that had been searched so far for the hit men. There was still a lot of territory to cover.
“What about the place where Jay and his boys were hiding before they went to Chattanooga?” Roger asked. “Might these guys be using the same place?”
“I thought of that too,” Bill said. “MaryAnne and I looked there yesterday. They’re not there.”
“Oh,” Roger said, disappointed. “Naturally, that would’ve been too easy.”
“Probably something similar though,” MaryAnne said. “These guys aren’t from around here, neither were Jay and his boys. So they got directions from somebody to an old cabin or something. They may be hid but they can’t be too far from a main road. Granted that Suburban will get them over some rustic roads but even that thing can only go in so far.”
“What about down here, in the marshland?” Roger asked, pointing to the map.
“It’s hard enough for locals to get in an’ out of there,” Rosco said, “never mind somebody who don’t know their way around.”
“Hmm,” Roger pondered. “So basically that leaves us with this northwest section of Hazzard and this eastern part.”
“I was thinking to look out around this area,” MaryAnne said, pointing to the eastern section of the map not marked yet. Two major roads showed, one being a state highway 7 and County 14. “I drive out State 7 anyway, might as well go the whole way and come back down 14.”
Roger nodded. “Okay. Bill, you’re going with her?”
“When’s your patrol time, MaryAnne?”
MaryAnne looked at her watch. “In about an hour. I’m gonna run over to the café first and get something to eat. Anybody want anything?”
Roger and Rosco both had an order. “Wait a sec, lemme get my pad…” MaryAnne pulled her ticket book from her gun belt and opened up to a blank ticket page. “Okay, Rosco wants a corndog…”
Bill watched with amusement as she took down the orders. Even as a deputy she was still waitress.
“How about you?” she asked, looking at him. “You want something?”
“Yeah. Only how about I go with you and help you carry all that stuff back for these two?”
She smiled. “Fair ‘nuff.” She folded up her ticket book. “We’ll be back,” she said to Rosco and Roger.
Roger watched them leave and then looked at Rosco, the Sheriff giving the still swinging booking room doors a somewhat unsure look. The telephone on the booking desk rang and whatever Rosco was thinking was immediately forgotten as he answered it. “Hazzard County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Roscooo P. Coltrane speakin’…”
“Sheriff Coltrane, your two deputies and the Fed Maxwell are to surrender themselves to me at my chosen time and place, or else I’m going take your little town and I’m going to lay it to waste.”
“What? Who is this? Wait just a pea pickin’ minute here---“
“No, no waiting, Sheriff. And this isn’t a joke. Allow me to demonstrate….”
“Demonstrate? Demonstrate what? Now listen here, I ain’t got time for any silly shenanigans…”
Roger stared at Rosco, wondering what the phone call was about. Suddenly he heard the sound of squealing tires and a roaring engine outside. Both men looked toward the window and Roger hurried over, drawing up the blinds in time to see the big black Dodge Charger go screaming into the square, bullets spitting from the rifle barrel pointed out the front windshield.
Outside, there was momentary confusion before the panic erupted. A car racing through Hazzard square rarely caused a stir. But one that shot bullets, now that was different. Over at Cooter’s garage, Bo, Luke and Cooter were caught off guard by the arrival of the Hit Car and watched helplessly as the behemoth car plowed into the square. People screamed and ran out of the path of the car, diving for cover. Nicky purposely shot above folks’ heads, occasionally hitting a second floor window of a building. The Hit Car thundered around the square.
Across the way, Bill and MaryAnne hadn’t yet made it to the café. They were in the middle of the road, having stopped to look when they heard the car enter the square. It was mere seconds after that the Hit Car was sprinting around the turn, barreling toward them like a panther.
Bill grabbed MaryAnne and they both dived out of the way of the snarling, bullet spitting beast, hitting the asphalt between two parked cars. The Hit Car roared around the turn, bullets continuing to rain from the front windshield. A second story window at the bank shattered as the black Charger made its exit from the square and out of town.
The terror was over in mere seconds. The danger passed, people in the square emerged into the street and the collective confusion set in. What the heck --?
Bill helped MaryAnne up from the street. “You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, yeah,” MaryAnne replied, brushing herself off. “You?”
“Mad enough to spit nails, sweetheart.” Bill looked around the square, the immediate concern being if anyone was injured. He wondered too if the Hit Car was going to make another pass.
“Bill, that was—“
“Yeah, I know.”
“I thought the Feds had it impounded!”
“We did. That’s something I forgot to mention. We were taking it to the crusher and those creeps stole it right out of the junkyard. That was the second time they tried to kill me. Or the first, depending which scorecard you go by. C’mon…” The idea of lunch now forgotten, Bill took MaryAnne by the arm and they headed back in the direction of the courthouse.
Back at the booking room, Roger walked back to the booking desk as Rosco hung up the phone. The sheriff looked stunned.
“Rosco, what was that phone call and did it have anything to do with what the hell just happened outside?”
Rosco looked at Roger and nodded. “Them fellas that are tryin’ to kill MaryAnne n’ Enos n’ Agent Maxwell. He wants them to surrender or else he said they’ll shoot up the town.”
“They just did!”
“That was the demonstration. He said if they don’t surrender, next time people are really gonna git hurt!”
A moment later, Bill and MaryAnne came rushing back into the booking room. “Our hit guys have upped the ante,” Bill said. “They’re using the Hit Car.”
“More than that,” Roger said. “Rosco just got a phone call. The hit guys want you three to surrender, or else they’re going to pull that stunt again and hurt a lot of people.”
“Terrific,” MaryAnne muttered. She looked at Bill. “Like you said, they might take friends and family hostage.”
“They’re desperate,” Bill said. “Dangerously so.” He looked at Rosco. “Where and when do they want us to surrender?”
“He didn’t say. Said he’s gonna call back in about thirty minutes with that.”
“Just long enough for us to absorb what’s happened and contemplate our options,” MaryAnne said.
“We only have one option, deputy,” Bill said, “and that’s to nail these garbanzos. Meantime, we better make sure no one got hurt in that melee.”
“Yeah,” Roger agreed. “Go on ahead, Rosco, I’ll man the phone here for you.”
Other than a few bumps and bruises, along with some broken windows and pock marks on building fronts, the town of Hazzard was no worse off than it would be on a Saturday night. The fracas brought Enos out from the boarding house and Agent Daugherty from the hotel. Rosco, MaryAnne and Bill brought Enos and Daugherty up to speed on the situation and then the Hazzard law and FBI men went about settling the folks in town down about what had just happened.
As promised, Piper called back thirty minutes later. The booking room was packed with the addition of the Duke boys and Cooter. Rosco started for the phone when Bill held him back.
“Wait a minute,” Bill said.
“But that’s gonna be them,” Rosco said.
“Yup. I know…” Bill continued to hold Rosco back and looked at the phone. “We don’t need to look anxious about being led to slaughter…” Finally, after about 6 rings, Bill stepped to the phone and answered it. “Hazzard County Sheriff’s office.”
There was a pause. “Let me speak to Sheriff Coltrane.”
“The sheriff’s a busy man. Can I take a message for him?”
Bill smiled into the phone. “Is that you Mr. Hitman? Nice show you boys put on a little while ago. Real barn burner. What are you going to do for an encore?”
“I don’t think you want to see the encore, Mr. Maxwell,” Piper said. “You and the deputies surrender and we leave the town alone. It’s that simple.”
“Takes a real buncha tough guys to shoot up a small town.”
“And it takes a really stupid Fed to allow that much blood to be on his hands because he refused to do what was right.”
Bill scowled. “Awright, your script stinks but I’ll play the part. Where are we doing this Appomattox?”
“There is an old farmstead, two miles down State 7 south from the junction of 14. You and the deputies will be there in thirty minutes.”
“Thirty minutes? C’mon…”
“Thirty minutes, Agent Maxwell, and no more. It’ll take you about that long to get there. You come by yourselves and you will come in one car. No one is to follow you and you will maintain complete radio silence as we’ll be listening. If anybody does follow you, even after we dispatch you the quaint little town of Hazzard will still suffer the consequences.”
Bill scribbled down the location on a nearby notepad. He had no choice but to accept the terms. He didn’t know the area and couldn’t haggle about the location, or the time. He was at a severe disadvantage.
But then again, so was the hit squad. They couldn’t possibly know the area all that much more than he did but he at least had an ace to play in this gamble. He briefly glanced at the anxious faces of the Hazzard folk who were watching him.
“Awright,” he said. “Like I have much choice anyway.”
“No,” Piper said. “You don’t.” With that, he hung up.
Bill hung up the phone and looked at everyone. “He wants us at an old farmstead off State 7, two miles south of the junction with 14. In thirty minutes.”
“Can they cut it any closer?” MaryAnne said rhetorically.
“They’re not giving us any time to call in any back up or plan any ambush,” Bill said.
Rosco turned and stepped toward the map of Hazzard that was on the wall opposite of where Bill was standing at the booking desk. Bo and Luke also approached the map. Rosco pointed to the location. “That’s gotta be the old Garrison place.”
Luke nodded. “That what I was thinking too. We may have a chance with this.”
“What kind of place is it?” Bill asked.
Luke faced the agent. “It’s an old dairy farm. Set way back from the road. There’s a gate at the end of the driveway if I remember right.”
Bill raised an eyebrow. “So if one of the hit guys is at that gate and closes it up after we pass through, that’s going to keep anyone else from following. I thought you said we have a chance here?”
“We do.” Luke smiled. “There’s a back way onto that property and I would reckon these hit men ain’t gonna know of it.”
“Yeah,” Bo added. “So we send the Hazzard Confederate Calvary in the back door and get the drop on these guys.”
“Okay, I’m liking your scenario,” Bill said. “Keep talking.”
“Okay, here’s what I’m thinking,” Luke began, speaking to the whole group. “We can get some extra help from Uncle Jesse and Daisy…”
**** **** ****
Luke worked the rest of the details of his plan with Agent Kelley and Daugherty, allowing Bill, MaryAnne and Enos to go on ahead to the farmstead so the hit men wouldn’t get antsy if they didn’t arrive within 30 minutes. His only request of the three was to stall for as long as possible, as those same precious thirty minutes were needed for everyone else to get into positions.
They took Enos’s patrol car and Bill had Enos drive. Bill rode shot gun and MaryAnne rode in back. Since Piper made no request that they come unarmed, all three were carrying their guns per usual. If nothing else, they weren’t going to go down without a fight.
Almost 30 minutes later, Enos guided the patrol car down State 7 from the junction with County 14.
“Slow it down,” Bill said. Enos reduced his speed down from the speed limit and the patrol car crept along the road. The gated entrance to the old farmstead soon came into view.
“You realize,” MaryAnne said, perched on the backseat between Enos and Bill, “once we pass that gate, we’re in no man’s land?”
“Yeah,” Bill said. “There’s no telling what these creeps have set up for us. The only ace we have is your cousin and your friends.”
At the wooden gate, Moose was waiting. The white Suburban was parked on the side of the driveway under an old oak tree. As Enos approached, Moose pushed the stockade gate open and directed them through.
The patrol car crossed the threshold without incident. Once passed, Moose pulled the gate closed again and he stood sentry to make sure no one followed the patrol car.
The long dirt driveway lay out before the slow moving patrol car. Off to the left, the field was wide and gently sloping with the occasional tree here or there. Heavy woodlands bordered the right side of the driveway. Neither Enos, MaryAnne nor Bill said a word, the threesome watching the road ahead of them. The driveway rounded a patch of trees on the left and then sloped upward. The farmstead then came into view.
At the top of the drive, frozen in time, was the old farmhouse with a small detached barn about 200 feet away from it. There were several other old dormant out buildings behind the house and out in the back field. The roof of the barn sagged with age. The place had been empty and for the most part forgotten about for many years.
Enos slowed the patrol car down to a creep. Piper stood alone in the dusty yard just beyond the farmhouse, a rifle in hand, facing them as they approached. There was no sign of the Hit Car or any of the other hit men.
Piper raised a hand up to them, indicating to stop. Enos did so, putting the patrol car in park and shutting the engine down. None of the three moved to get out, however. Behind his aviators, Bill was looking around, looking at the farmhouse and the nearby barn.
“Can’t be just this one dude,” MaryAnne said.
“It’s not,” Bill said. “You can bet on it.”
Down at the bottom of the drive, out of sight of the farmhouse, Moose looked up as an old white Ford pickup truck came lumbering slowly down the road toward him. It passed the driveway and pulled over to the side, the right front tire having gone flat.
“Oh no,” Daisy said dramatically as she exited the passenger side. Moose forgot about the flat tire once he saw the long legged beauty in short shorts. He watched her look at the busted front tire and then to the white bearded man in overalls who had been driving.
Uncle Jesse came around the front of the truck to inspect the flat tire. “Well that tears it,” he muttered. “C’mon, we’ll get the jack and change it.”
Jesse and Daisy walked to the back of the pickup and reached in to grab the tire iron and the jack. What Moose couldn’t see was a brown tarp bunched up at the front of the payload. And even if he did, he never would’ve figured anyone was hiding under it.
Daisy helped carry the jack to the front tire and then stood back while Jesse proceeded to situate it. She looked over at Moose, sitting on the front bumper of the Suburban, and gave her prettiest smile. “Hey there.”
Moose smiled back. She was pretty.
Before jacking the truck, Jesse tried to work a lug nut loose. He feigned not being able to do it. He made a couple more “attempts” and still couldn’t loosen it.
“Can you get it?” Daisy asked.
“I dunno. They’re on there good n’ tight,” Jesse replied.
Daisy looked over at Moose. If the big thug had any smarts, he would’ve figured he was about to be set up. But he didn’t have a clue. And why would he with such a beautiful woman smiling and looking at him?
“Maybe he can help us, Uncle Jesse,” Daisy said.
Jesse looked over. The big brute could probably take the tire off without using the jack. “I reckon he probably could.”
Daisy walked up to the fence near Moose. “Hi,” she said. “I don’t suppose you could give us a hand changing that tire?”
Moose stood up from the bumper. “Sure,” he said. The girl didn’t look the type to be messing with a tire and the old man would probably have a coronary trying to loosen the lug nuts. He unlocked the gate and stepped through it, leaving it open.
Daisy smiled sweetly at him. “Thanks.”
Jesse stepped aside from the tire and handed the tire iron to Moose. Moose kneeled down to the wheel and started on the first lug nut. Daisy strategically positioned herself near Moose, by the front of the truck, her legs becoming a distraction.
She shot a look to Uncle Jesse. This guy is big!
Jesse nodded. He hoped the man wasn’t going to be too difficult to take down. With Moose preoccupied by the tire, and sneaking looks at Daisy’s legs, Jesse moved to the back of the truck. “I’ll get the spare,” he said.
The brown tarp in the bed of the truck flipped back quietly and Cooter emerged. He then moved quietly, standing up slowly in the bed of the truck and looking to see where Moose was at. Jesse, meantime, reached into the back of the truck bed and grabbed his shot gun.
Moose had loosened three lug nuts already. He rewarded himself by looking at Daisy’s legs again.
Cooter, meanwhile, had stepped up on the edge of the bed of the truck as close to the back of the cab as possible. Daisy glanced up at him and as soon as he leapt from the truck she stepped quickly away.
Moose looked to see where she was going just as Cooter came crashing down on him. Both men spilled onto the road and Cooter rolled once and sprung back to his feet.
Moose, however, was still holding the tire iron. He launched up to his feet and took a swing at Cooter. The mechanic ducked and then took advantage of the opening Moose left and swung a fist into the man’s gut.
It was like hitting concrete. The hit hardly phased Moose but left Cooter grimacing for a sore hand.
“Awright, that’s enough,” Jesse said, coming around by Cooter so Moose could see him with shotgun in hand. “Put the iron down, you’re done for today.”
Moose stood still and looked at Jesse and the gun. It was close enough to do some serious damage. With a grunt, Moose tossed the tire iron to the ground.
Daisy picked it up and out of the way while Cooter pulled a pair of borrowed handcuffs from his back pocket. Jesse kept a careful eye and aim on the big thug.
Moose glared back while his hands were cuffed behind him. “You’ll be the first ones we kill when we trash your town.”
“I don’t think so,” Jesse said. “See I got no qualms about usin’ this here shotgun to defend my family, my neighbors, my land and my town. The likes of folks like you won’t be tolerated ‘round here.”
Moose said nothing as he met the old man’s gaze. The words weren’t a threat.
They were a promise.
Back up at the farmstead, Bo and Luke along with Rosco and Agents Kelley and Daugherty had made it to the backside of the property. They left their vehicles at the road and entered the property on foot. The law men had their guns, while the Duke boys were loaded up with their bows and arrows. Knowing the nearly indestructible qualities of the Hit Car, Bo and Luke brought along a couple of extra arrows with sticks of dynamite attached to them.
Kelley and Daugherty led the way across the back field to a milking shed. The long building obstructed their view of the farmhouse and barn, but it also kept them from being spotted by any of the hit men. The five men split up, with Bo, Rosco and Agent Daugherty going to one end of the milking shed, while Luke and Agent Kelley went to the other end.
Piper, meantime, walked up to the front of the patrol car, rifle aimed in general at the windshield. “I’m sure all three of you wore weapons to your grand sendoff here. Toss them out the windows.”
“So much for that,” MaryAnne said softly. She, along with Enos and Bill, carefully tossed their hand guns out of the windows of the patrol car.
“Very good.” Piper walked around to the passenger side of the patrol car, keeping the rifle aimed at the car’s occupants. At Bill’s window, Piper was at close range. “You three,” he said, “are three of the damndest targets I’ve ever had the pleasure of killing.”
Bill eyed the rifle barrel that was only a few inches away from him. “Eh, maybe you’re just not very good at what you do,” he said.
“I won’t be made to look like a fool. You’re all going to be the shining example of my handiwork. And you, Agent Maxwell, are going first...”
“FREEZE! FBI! DROP THE GUN!” Agent Daugherty, Rosco and Bo suddenly came around the far side of the farm house.
Piper froze, but didn’t drop the weapon. He kept his gaze on Bill but out of the corner of his eye he could see the three men coming from the area of the farmhouse. Luke and Agent Kelley were hurrying over from the far side of the barn. Piper let them surround the car and was hardly fazed by the three guns and two arrows that were aimed at him.
The two FBI men were on either side of him, guns aimed point blank at him.
“Drop the rifle,” Kelley said. “Game’s over.”
“No,” Piper said. “No, I’m afraid it’s not. I knew you wouldn’t follow my directions—NICKY!!!”
The Hit Car suddenly roared to life inside the barn. Sensing he only had this split second, Bill leaned back in his seat and grabbed Piper’s rifle. He yanked it into the car, keeping it pointed toward the front windshield and away from Enos and then shoved it back out the window again, ramming the hit man in the gut.
The Hit Car, meantime, busted out of the closed barn doors, sending splintering wood flying. Piper stumbled back from the patrol car and was grabbed by Kelley and Daugherty, who wrestled him down to the ground. Bill himself spilled out of the patrol car to assist. The looming Hit Car forced Bo and Luke to take cover on the passenger side of the patrol car before Nicky opened fire. MaryAnne and Enos ducked down inside the car just as the windshield shattered under a spray of bullets.
Down at the bottom of the drive, Jesse, Daisy and Cooter looked at each other at the sound of the gunfire. Moose, down on his knees next to Jesse’s truck, his hands cuffed behind him, looked up at the three. He gave a snort.
“You’re too late,” he said.
He was ignored. Jesse, Cooter and Daisy listened to try to figure out what was going on.
What was going on was complete chaos. The Hit Car went to the end of the yard near the driveway and swung around in a short, dust filled turn. Bo and Luke ran across the yard as the car was turning to take cover in the clump of trees and brush opposite the farm house that filled that corner of the field. Agent Kelley, Daugherty and Bill had Piper, his hands cuffed behind him, face down in the grass between the front of the farmhouse and the patrol car. Bill held the hitman’s rifle and directed Enos and MaryAnne to get out of the patrol car. The Feds and Hazzard law maintained their cover behind the patrol car as the Hit Car made a pass again. More glass shattered and bullets pierced the body of the car.
When it passed, Bill directed his fellow agents and Rosco to seek shelter in the farmhouse. The Hit Car was spinning around in a quick turn and Bill rose up quickly firing Piper’s rifle at the Hit Car while Kelley, Daugherty and Rosco hurried up onto the porch of the farm house. Kelley kicked in the front door and the three law men dashed inside.
Bill ducked back below the patrol car again. More glass shattered. A tire blew out and the car slumped. He figured at some point Nicky would get bold and jump out of the Hit Car and shower them with bullets.
MaryAnne and Enos had no weapons to fire back with. Bill looked around and spotted his tossed .45. He quickly reached for it and handed it to MaryAnne. “Split up,” he said to her and Enos, “they can’t chase us all at once. Get behind the farmhouse, get behind the barn, wherever.”
The Hit Car was in a turn again near the drive way. Bill ran for the barn while MaryAnne headed for the rear of the barn and Enos went to the rear of the farmhouse.
Bo and Luke had swapped their regular arrows for two dynamite loaded ones. After the Hit Car sprinted past them to the other end of the farmyard, Luke stepped out from the trees and brush and aimed his arrow.
The big black Dodge spun around. Luke adjusted his aim and let the arrow fly.
It landed beside the Hit Car and exploded. The force pushed the car around but otherwise had little effect. Luke ducked back behind a tree as the Hit Car made a pass and Nicky answered back for the dynamite arrow with a hail of bullets that ripped through the trees and brush.
Inside the farm house, Rosco, Kelley and Daugherty took shots from the windows at the Hit Car as it swung around again near the driveway. Their bullets, however, were useless doing nothing but sending sparks off the car.
Just inside the barn, Bill watched the Hit Car pass again. He stayed hidden behind the wall and then stepped out into the farmyard after the car passed.
Like John Wayne facing down a gang of bandits, Bill stood in the middle of the yard firing the rifle as the behemoth car spun around in a cloud of dust. Hugh and Nicky both saw him standing there and Hugh punched the gas.
Nicky started shooting back. Bill spun toward the barn and ran back into it, bullets and the Hit Car itself following after him. The Dodge slid through the already broken up front of the barn, knocking out part of the front wall. The sound of the engine and the roaring gunfire was shattering inside the barn and the car was close to running Bill over. He leapt out of the way in time, diving into an open stall but not before a hot searing pain grabbed the back of his right leg.
Bill hit the old dusty floor hard. The Hit Car crashed passed him, taking out part of one wall of the stall and barreling on through the remainder of the barn, fishtailing into a support beam and cracking it before crashing out through the back wall.
MaryAnne saw the car coming and dove away from the backside of the barn as the Hit Car came smashing through. The car continued on forward, never seeing her there. She stayed low to the ground as the Hit Car made a wide turn heading back to the farmyard to find more targets.
Once it was out of sight, she stood up. She could hear the car racing through the farmyard on the other side of the barn but she was suddenly aware of the sound of snapping timbers.
“Bill?” She looked through the busted back wall of the barn and could see him lying in the broken stall. “Bill!” She started into the barn when a slat from the exposed roof came crashing down in front of her.
“Deputy, get out of here, she’s gonna come down!”
“You gotta git outta here!” she countered. “Bill!” MaryAnne didn’t get the chance to step forward again. The weight of the barn shifted and the aged wood groaned loudly in resistance as the roof caved in and the barn began to collapse.
MaryAnne had no choice but to jump back from the falling building. She lost her footing and tumbled down to the dirt of the path that led away from the barn. The front of the barn went down first, the collapse blowing a large cloud of dust through the front farmyard. The center of the barn then leaned in on itself, timbers from the loft snapping and crashing down over the stall where Bill was laying, face down with his arms covering his head. Pieces of wood, old hay and several years of dust rained down on him.
The timbers from the loft crashed the stall but didn’t take it down completely, nor did the outside wall of the barn budge. Bill was spared from being buried under a lot of wood but was essentially trapped in a pocket.
The shifting and collapsing of planks stopped. Dust swirled around the half collapsed barn. Enos had seen everything from the back of the farmhouse and he rushed over to where MaryAnne was picking herself up off the ground.
“MaryAnne! Are you okay?”
MaryAnne ignored any concern for herself. “Bill’s in there,” she said, “he was in one of the stalls, Enos. I think he was hurt…” She turned to the barn and hurried up the path to the still open doorway. “Bill!”
“MaryAnne, it’s not stable,” Enos said. “The rest could come down at any moment!”
MaryAnne wasn’t concerned with that. She entered the barn and looked to where she had last seen Bill, lying in the stall. Broken boards, some heavy timbers and planks were now between her and Bill but she saw him still lying there. Fragmented sunlight spilled over the Federal agent and MaryAnne saw the blood stain on his leg.
Outwardly, MaryAnne remained cool and collected as she alerted Enos to Bill’s status. “Enos, he’s wounded. We gotta get him out there…” Inwardly, her concern for the Fed was high. MaryAnne had been running on full crisis mode since all this started and she carried on as usual, staying calm, giving Enos clear orders to help move certain planks out of the way so she could crawl in to where Bill was. In the back of her mind, however, the sight of Bill sprawled on the ground like he was and wounded bothered her more than it typically should have.
With enough boards moved out of the way, MaryAnne crawled into the stall and over to Bill. His clothes were covered with splintered pieces of wood, dust and hay and she brushed them away. “Bill? Bill, can you hear me?”
Bill stirred and turned himself just enough to see her. “Deputy…” he said thickly. “Get out of here…it’s not …safe…”
“We’re gonna git you out of here,” she said. She looked at where he was wounded in the leg and immediately pulled her black necktie loose, slipping it off. She wrapped it around his leg at his knee and then brought it above the wound on his thigh and proceeded to tie it firmly.
“Where…are the hit guys?” Bill asked.
The sound of the Hit Car’s engine could still be heard racing around in the farmyard. “They’re still out there,” she replied.
“Then you should be too…stop them. Forget about me. I’ll be all right…”
MaryAnne didn’t say anything and gently probed the wound, pulling the torn material of his pants away from it to get a better look. It looked like the bullet cut through the outer flesh of the leg, leaving a fairly deep and nasty gash. The blood was soaking his khaki’s and MaryAnne took a breath to hang on to herself.
Bill saw her expression and thought she wasn’t going to be able to handle it further. “I…can crawl out of here,” he said, starting to move to sit up. “Go on…”
“Just stay put a minute,” MaryAnne said sternly, putting a hand on him and shooting him a look. Damn this man! What’s he trying to prove? “As much as I want you out of this barn, you’re not goin’ anywhere until I get some kind of compress on this wound.” She started to unbutton her blue uniform shirt. “Enos,” she said, “let me have your necktie…”
Enos untied his necktie as MaryAnne slipped her shirt off. Underneath she wore a plain white t-shirt. She removed her badge from her uniform shirt and tucked it into the back pocket of her black pants. Enos crawled through the opening and handed his necktie to MaryAnne. MaryAnne folded her shirt lengthwise a couple of times and began to wrap it around the wounded area of Bill’s leg like a compress.
Bill watched her as she worked. He grimaced but gave no resistance as she wrapped the shirt around his leg.
A loose slat from the roof that had been balancing precariously on the fallen timbers above MaryAnne and Bill crashed down inside the stall about a foot away from them both. Enos, MaryAnne and Bill all flinched and MaryAnne leaned over Bill protectively.
“Get out of here, kid…before this whole place falls in on ya…”
“I’m not leaving you here.” MaryAnne quickly tied Enos’s necktie around Bill’s leg to hold her shirt in place. “C’mon…” she said with haste.
Bill rolled over on to his back and started to sit up. MaryAnne, anxious to get him out of the unstable barn, took a hold of his jacket and put an arm around his back to help him sit up.
“Ow ow ow…wait a minute…” He said, his leg reminding him very much now that he was wounded. He grabbed at her arm in front of him and held her pat for a moment, looking at her.
MaryAnne regarded him with concern, wondering if he would be able to crawl back out between the busted timbers. Bill simply beheld her, the dusty sunlight that streamed through the broken barn softening MaryAnne’s features. Despite the pain in his leg and the unsafe barn, he decided this wasn’t such a bad spot to be in…
MaryAnne saw the softening of his handsome features and a peculiar smile came to his face. The change in his demeanor both confused and alarmed her. Awkwardly, she averted her gaze from him and glanced at the opening at the end of the stall that she had crawled through, where Enos was waiting apprehensively. “You’re gonna have to crawl out through there,” she said and then looked at him again. “Think you can make it?”
Bill looked at the crawl space. “Oh sure…” he said. “No problem, gorgeous…” He still looked loopy. MaryAnne wondered if he was going into some kind of shock.
“Good,” she said. “C’mon…”
Out in the farmyard, the Hit Car was still raising a ruckus. Everyone had seen or heard the barn collapse but the immediate concern was still the car and its spitting bullets. Bo and Luke had seen Bill be chased into the barn by the Hit Car and could only hope he wasn’t still in there. The thick cloud of dust from the front of the barn had forced the Hit Car into the field where it was circling around to come back to the farmyard again while the dust dissipated.
“If one didn’t work before, let’s try two!” Luke said to Bo. The blonde Duke nodded and the boys stepped away from the trees they were protected by. The Hit Car was on a straight shot back to the farmyard.
“Aim for the knoll,” Luke said. “On my count….”
The boys aimed their arrows. The Dodge was coming fast.
The two arrows flew across the field and hit the knoll the same time the Hit Car did. The double explosion sent the car airborne and listing to its left side where it crashed down hard on its side and slid a few feet across the yard. The beast finally was slayed.
The crash of the Hit Car and Bo’s victory cry brought Rosco, Kelley and Daugherty running out of the farmhouse. Bo’s yell was also heard down at the road by Uncle Jesse, Daisy and Cooter who took it as a good sign. With the front tire on Jesse’s truck having been quickly changed earlier just as the shooting had started, they loaded Moose up into the back of the pickup and the three piled into the cab, turning the truck around in the road and speeding up the driveway.
Behind the barn, MaryAnne and Enos had Bill on his feet and between them leaning on their shoulders as they walked him out of the building. The explosion had shaken the ground under their feet and they had heard the sound of the crashing car. The sudden silence of the air from the gunfire was punctuated by Bo’s happy call of success.
“That sounded like Bo,” Enos said with a wide grin.
“Yeah,” MaryAnne said. “I think we just won the war!”
Bill grinned too despite his wounded leg. “Let’s get out there and see what happened.”
Out in the farmyard, Jesse’s white pickup pulled up beside Enos’s shot up patrol car as Agent Kelley, Daugherty and Rosco along with Bo and Luke surrounded the Hit Car. The Dukes had new plain arrows loaded on their bows, while the law men went about getting Hugh and Nicky out of the car. Hugh climbed out the driver side window that was now close to the ground. Nicky followed after him and both hit men surrendered to the law without a fuss.
Kelley and Daugherty stood the two against the roof of the Hit Car, patted them down and removed subsequent weapons before putting handcuffs on them. “Where’s Maxwell?” Kelley asked. “I hope he wasn’t in that barn when it went down.”
“Where’s MaryAnne?” Rosco asked, having other concerns. “And Enos?”
“There they are y’all,” Bo said, seeing the three coming around the side of the barn and walking towards them.
Rosco was relieved to see MaryAnne and Enos were okay. Maxwell obviously was a little worse for wear and the sight of the wounded Fed alarmed Agent Kelley.
“Bill! Good Lord, we better get you to a hospital.”
“Eh, just a scratch,” Bill said. “But I’m not about to turn down the free ride.”
Kelley looked at Bo and Luke. “One of you go and get one of our cars so we can get Bill to the hospital. And the other one go get your uncle and bring that other guy up from the gate.”
“Mr. Kelley,” Jesse said, as he and Daisy approached. Kelley had been so concerned with arresting Nicky and Hugh and then with Bill’s injury he hadn’t seen the arrival of the Duke patriarch. “We got the one from down the drive in my pickup. But you’re not gonna have time to wait to get another car. Let’s unload the fella I got and Daisy and me will take Mr. Maxwell here to Tri-County Hospital.”
Kelley nodded. “All right.”
Kelley and Daugherty escorted Hugh and Nicky away from the Hit Car to where Piper was still face down in the dirt next to Enos’s patrol car. Rosco followed the FBI men and the Dukes followed Rosco. MaryAnne, Bill and Enos were the last ones to catch up, moving slower because of Bill’s wounded leg.
No sooner was everyone a safe distance away from where the Hit Car lay on its side, and the half collapsed barn that was about 40 feet away, there was a sudden loud creak of wood. Bill stopped to look back, prompting MaryAnne and Enos to do the same. The remaining portion of the barn that had remained standing and protected Bill from further injury when he was trapped fell to the ground with a thunderous crash.
“Hoo boy,” Enos said and looked at Bill. “Good thing we got you out of there when we did!”
“Yeah…” Bill turned from the now demolished barn to look at MaryAnne. “Good thing…”
She met his gaze and felt her face flush. “Uh yeah,” she said, looking toward Jesse’s truck now. “Said I wasn’t gonna leave ya there…”