Crack! With a splintering of timbers and a rendering of wooden support beams, the wall of the barn gave way. Suddenly airborne, Beaureguard Duke was treated to a fleeting vision of a rose bush apparently growing upside down; before he crashed into a heap in a pile of reject hay. The broken pieces of a large section of wall rained down around him, leaving him miraculously unscathed.

"Ow." Filled with a sense of youthful indignation at a supposed affront, Beaureguard - more commonly known as Bo - clambered to his feet and brushed the dust and splinters from his shirt. Before him, through the hole in the wall that his flying body had passed through, he could see his cousin still in the thick of the fight, taking nearly as many blows as he was delivering, and yet somehow managing to stay on his feet. Bo struggled back through the hole, tripping on the loose planks and stumbling the rest of the way back to the battle. His cousin, Lukas, side-stepped him neatly and threw a hard right cross that downed his closest opponent.

"You alright down there, Bo?" Taking a moment to heave his cousin to his feet, Lukas Duke spun them both out of the way of a hastily thrown punch. Bo nodded his thanks before pitching once more into the fight. His pride had taken a knock as a result of his earlier misfortune, but the large hole in the wall was a testimony to his tenacity.

"Let's get out of here!" The slurred shout of somebody who might once have been in charge of the drunken gang which had started the fight in the first place, called a premature end to the fisticuffs. The group of battered men, in their work shirts and jeans, pulled back as one.

"Going so soon?" Despite his own exhaustion, Bo Duke followed the gang as they left the barn. He grinned at them as they departed, waving a hand in the air as a farewell gesture, and trying to hide the badly bruised state of the knuckles. His grin did not waver as the retreating group tumbled into their rusted yellow pickup truck and drove away. As soon as they were out of sight he breathed a sigh of relief and bashed the last of the dust from his jeans. Bo liked to be neat, and to look as tidy as possible - although in the rough and ready district in which the two cousins lived, neat and tidy was rarely an option. He ran a hand through his fair curls, straightening them out, then glanced back at his companion. "I think we showed 'em, hey Luke?"

"I think so." Luke Duke, ignoring the door, clambered out of the hole in the barn wall. "Who were they anyway?"

"Beats me." They shared a grin. It wasn't that either of them actively sought out trouble; but both were determined to handle it whenever it came their way - which was plenty often enough. "Mill workers I think."

"Well next time you decide to insult somebody, Bo, make sure the odds are a little more even, okay? My ribs feel like I've just gone ten rounds with the district champ."

"I didn't insult anybody." Bo threw his cousin a broad grin. "Least, not so much as I wanted to. They started it." He stretched to work the kinks out of his shoulder muscles. "Too much to drink never did do guys like that a whole lot of good." He stared after the cloud of dust thrown up by the racing truck. "We'd better clean up this mess before old Rosco sees it, or we'll be spending the night in the jail again."

"And telling him we were just minding our own business sure ain't gonna do any good." Luke sighed. "Damn, and I'm hungry too. It's well past time for food."

"You're always hungry." Bo threw a broom at him, having found it lying in the dust near to his feet. "Come on. This barn belongs to old man Garris, and you know him and Uncle Jesse haven't said a civil word to each other in fifty years. Be just our luck if he came over here and found his place looking like a bomb hit it."

"He's gonna find that anyway. I don't know how to fix a hole in the wall." Resting the broom on his shoulder, Luke surveyed the damage. He wasn't sure quite which one of several flying missiles had made the hole, although he was thankful enough that it hadn't been Bo. If his cousin's unwilling flight had come just a few seconds earlier, it very likely would have fatal.

"I thought you knew everything?" Bo scratched his head. "Course, I always figured you were lying."

"I ought to bash you for that." Smiling good-naturedly, Luke headed back towards the barn door. Bo laughed.

"Oh yeah? Just you try it. I'm bigger than you."

"Size isn't everything."

"It sure helps when you're fighting."


For all their mock insults, not to mention the brawl in the barn, the Duke boys were not given to violence or trouble; although it, needless to say, was given to them in abundance. It had followed them about for much of their lives: from the time when, as children, they had wound up living with their uncle on his rundown farm in Hazzard County, to the time, a year or so previously, when they had been placed on probation for running moonshine. The creation and transportation of illegal alcohol was an old family tradition dating back as far as there had been a Hazzard County. Hazzard was famous for its moonshine - amongst other, equally lawless occupations - and with their natural daring and inherited skills the Duke family had always been the best at the business. Bo and Luke, with the tendency that they had always displayed for falling feet first into disasters of varying proportions, had been arrested by the local sheriff with a car full of their Uncle Jesse's best brew. Now they found themselves unable to leave the county, unable to use firearms - although this latter was, usually, the least of their concerns - and also found themselves constantly at loggerheads with the local officers of the law. Sheriff Rosco Coltrane had been looking for an excuse to lock them up and throw away the key pretty much for as long as they could remember, and he had added ammunition with a probation constantly hanging over their heads; not that he needed it. Rosco was a prime example of that all too common phenomenon in Hazzard County; a crooked lawman. He lived in the pocket of the town's main businessman and crooked dealer extraordinaire, a large, hearty individual who went by the name of Boss Hogg. The Duke boys, together with their Uncle Jesse and their cousin Daisy, generally found themselves as the county's last line of defence against the crooked law of Hazzard, and as a result they were always running the gauntlet where the sheriff and his cronies were concerned. It was for precisely that reason that they found themselves now struggling to put to rights what they themselves had not really been responsible for damaging. The last thing they wanted was to give Rosco and Boss Hogg further ground in their own little private war.

It was dark before Luke Duke hammered the last nail into the last plank, completing the makeshift repairs to the broken wall. He breathed a long sigh of relief and wiped the sweat from his forehead with a grimy hand, then leapt down the last few rungs of the ladder he had been balancing on. He regretted the exuberance almost immediately, and groaned to himself, stretching his back to relieve his shoulder muscles.

"I'm beat," he announced to the semi-darkness. A disembodied yawn was his only answer. "I swear, Bo, if I see those mill workers again, I'm gonna knock 'em right out of the county."

"Right behind you." Bo emerged from the gloom looking even more dishevelled than earlier. "Come on, cousin. Let's get back home before we get Uncle Jesse even more riled than he's already gonna be. We're past late enough to have to spend all tomorrow skinning rattlers as it is."

"Then let's get moving."

They drove home in silence, too tired to talk, and arrived just as the small, heavily-built figure of their uncle emerged from the house to light the lamp by the door. He glanced up at the sound of their car, and even from a distance they could see the gruff disapproval on his face. It was the mask behind which he hid most of his affection, and all of his relief at their return. Jesse Duke was one of the oldest inhabitants of Hazzard County, and was certainly one of the most respected; but he was also one of the most feared.

"Uh oh. He's mad." Bo brought the car to a halt and glanced across at his cousin. "Why do I always feel like I'm six again, when we come in late?"

"Probably 'cause Uncle Jesse always looks like he's going to send us to bed without any supper." Luke grinned, and Bo mirrored the expression. The Dukes were a close family, even though they so often hid their feelings for each other behind banter and shared insults.

"You're late," Jesse told them as they walked sheepishly up to the front door. His sharp eyes had already spied the signs of a fight on their clothes and their faces, and he frowned deeply. "What happened?"

"It wasn't our fault, Uncle Jesse." As usual Luke was the one to step forward with an explanation. He had always been the one to own up first when the boys were children, if only so as to take the blame and shoulder the responsibility. There was not that great a difference in age between Bo and Luke, but as the oldest Luke still felt a certain sense of accountability.

"Yeah, there were these guys at old man Garris's barn, and they were drunk." Bo hesitated, realising that the mere mention of old man Garris was not the best way to lighten his uncle's mood. To his surprise the gruff old man merely shook his head and gestured for them to step inside the old house.

"Never you mind about that. I've got to talk to you boys."

"You do?" Bo and Luke exchanged a look, the slightly nervous edge to Luke's question reflecting the sense of caution in both their faces. One of Uncle Jesse's talks could vary between the kind of moonshine-encouraged good cheer which anybody would welcome - save, maybe, for Hazzard's few temperance enthusiasts - and a strict lecture designed to put a dampener on both boys' fun and freedom for at least the next week. Uncle Jesse sensed their misgivings and laughed.

"Relax." He led the way to the kitchen table, scene of more family conferences and get-togethers than either boy could remember, and took his creaky seat at the head. Daisy, the sole female member of the immediate family, was already sitting at the table, nursing a glass of milk. She glanced up at her cousins and offered them a salutary nod. A deeply attractive woman who came neatly between Bo and Luke age-wise, Daisy had turned the heads of nearly every man in Hazzard, and beyond. As usual she was dressed in tight jeans, cut down into shorts, and a tight blouse that did everything for her figure, and nothing for the marriage vows of half of the neighbours. Her long brown hair was loose and her unintentionally flirtatious eyes were fixed solely on her family. Many people had expected something to happen between the cousins, since family more closely related than they had been known to marry often in an out of the way, isolated county such as Hazzard; but the truth was that the threesome had never had eyes for each other, and likely never would. The tall and statuesque Daisy was almost as tall as Bo, and her looks would have complimented either boy perfectly, but Daisy's sights were set elsewhere. Nobody was entirely sure where exactly, except that no man in Hazzard yet seemed able to turn her head the way she turned theirs.

"So what's up, Uncle Jesse?" Sitting down in his customary place, Luke frowned up at the white-bearded old man. Jesse frowned back.

"I got a letter today. From an old friend." He folded his arms, leaning back in his chair and surveying his three young kinsfolk with a serious gaze. "He's wanting to come here to stay for a time."

"Well that'll be nice, Uncle Jesse." Bo offered his uncle a broad smile, at the same time sensing that something was wrong. His uncle didn't look like a man happy to be soon reunited with an old friend. The old man nodded slowly.

"It'll be nice enough, I reckon." He shifted on his seat. "Boys… Daisy… I figure I should tell you the truth. Me and Stan, well we ain't exactly what you might call friends. As such. More… acquaintances."

"Meaning you can't stand each other," Luke offered, then flinched under Jesse's sudden glare. The hard expression changed to a smile almost immediately.

"Meaning we can't stand each other," he confirmed, in a tone that mixed rueful with regret. "Haven't spoken since 1932, and I can't say as I ever thought I'd be speaking to him again. I honestly never thought he'd come on back to Hazzard County."

"1932?" Daisy shook her head, her shoulders shaking slightly in gentle laughter. "What did he do? Steal your recipe for moonshine?"

"Now don't you be getting sarcastic, young lady." Jesse's scolding was weakened by the glint in his eyes. "Fact is we had a misunderstanding or two; or at least I guess you could call it that."

"Was there a girl involved?" asked Bo with a smirk. Jesse's eyebrows raised. Bo might have been the youngest of the Dukes, but there were times when it seemed that he had by far the most experience with the opposite sex.

"There might have been," he conceded, without actually admitting to anything. "Fact is, he wants to come here to stay for a while, and I don't rightly feel I can turn him down given the circumstances. I just wanted to warn you, get it all out in the open." He stood up, turning away slightly. "There's no telling which side of the story he'll try and give you."

"We haven't heard your side yet, Uncle Jesse," Luke reminded him. His uncle nodded, heading for the door to the next room.

"No you haven't. And you won't, so long as I get any say in the matter." He vanished through the doorway, although his voice still carried as well as if he had still been in the room. "Now mind you boys get them fish gutted before you turn in. I'll be wanting them fixed up proper for a stew I've a mind to try."

"Yes Uncle Jesse." The chorus of voices included Daisy's, even though she had not been included in the original order. Jesse grinned to himself as he headed for his favourite, threadbare armchair. They were good kids, he told himself. Rather like him and Stan had been, all those lifetimes ago. He leaned back into the comfort of his old chair, and tried not to remember; but his mind was stronger than he was, and it had different ideas.


Jesse Duke had been fifteen when he had first met Stan Pollack. The other boy had been brought to Hazzard County in 1930, by a mother looking for relatives after her shell-shocked ex-soldier husband had finally succumbed to wounds received early in 1918. Stan had been seventeen back then, a tall, lanky boy not yet mature-looking enough to pass muster for the army selection board; although, a few years later in the midst of the growing tensions of World War Two, they would not have been nearly so fussy. They had met at Jesse's favourite fishing spot, when he had been sitting there minding his own business, fashioning a new hook for his pole. Footsteps had alerted him to the approach of somebody, and he had glanced up, expecting to see Miss Proctor or one of her minions, come to drag him back to school. In his mind, fifteen was plenty old enough to be looking for other pursuits to occupy his time, but whatever laws governed the world outside, the laws in Hazzard were of local making, and Miss Proctor demanded the presence of everybody under sixteen in her rickety old school on the edge of town. She taught reading there, and writing, and something that passed for arithmetic, although for most of the children the only reading and arithmetic they wanted was anything that would help them learn to make good enough moonshine to make their names in the industry in later life. Miss Proctor herself was the daughter of one of the county's most respected moonshiners, a tiny, rumpled stick insect of a man who had spent so much of his life bent over brewing alcohol that some people said his spine had become as spiralled as the coils of his stills. Miss Proctor, however, was that rare creature in Hazzard; a temperance enthusiast, and the books she made the children in her care read tended towards those of a nature deemed almost blasphemous to a family like the Dukes. Therefore Jesse found no difficulty in avoiding her attentions. So far this term - and they were only five weeks into it - he had already suffered yellow fever, scarlet fever and green fever. The latter had been the result of his rather too enthusiastic younger brother, himself eager for a day off, and unwilling to wait for their father to return home to write the necessary explanatory note. Miss Proctor was still unsure whether to storm over to the house and complain, or keep her distance on the suspected grounds that the Duke house might be the most unhealthy place in the known world.

In the event, as Jesse glanced up towards the prowling intruder, he discovered that it was not Miss Proctor, or any one of her assistants. Instead it proved to be a tall, blond boy dressed entirely in denim, save for a red flannel shirt that was clearly far too thick for him on such a hot day, especially with a denim jacket worn over the top of it. The boy stared down at Jesse, whose thick eyebrows emphasised his frown into one of almost sinister proportions.

"You local?" he asked eventually. Jesse grunted.

"You sure ain't."

"Name's Pollack." The tall boy came closer, staring at the fishing pole. "You fishing?" Jesse's eyebrows raised. Either the boy was bored enough to be desperate for a conversation, or he was congenitally stupid. He decided to give the kid the benefit of the doubt and assume the former.


"Catch anything yet?" The answer to this was as obvious as the answer to the first question, but again Jesse gave him the benefit of the doubt.


"Don't talk much do you?"

Jesse hesitated before answering this question. He wasn't sure whether this new arrival was being funny, insulting, or was attempting to be friendly. He shrugged.


"You got a name?" The tall boy - Pollack, Jesse remembered - was smiling in a way that was entirely open and honest, and despite his earlier suspicions he found himself warming to the guy. After all, what was he but some stranger looking for a little friendly company beside the river? And if there was one thing that Hazzard County - and the Duke family in particular - was famous for, it was a warm welcome for anybody who happened by. Jesse Duke may only have been fifteen years old, but if it hadn't been only ten o'clock in the morning he would have offered the stranger a jug of moonshine to welcome him properly. He found himself smiling.

"My name's Jesse. Jesse Duke."

"Pleased to meet you Jesse." Pollack sat down beside him, offering a hand. "Stan."

Jesse shook the proffered hand, gesturing towards his spare fishing pole. "You like fishing?"

"Sure." Stan reached out for the pole, and hefted it in a manner that looked professional. As it later turned out, he had never so much as seen a pole before, let alone used one, but such things didn't matter. It was a warm, still day, there was not an adult in sight, and the fish were waiting to be caught. In short, it was the sort of day on which lifelong friendships are born.


"So what do you reckon this Pollack guy is like?" The sun was not yet fully risen, but already it was hot. Luke leaned on his pitchfork, glad of the excuse to take a rest as he considered his cousin's question.

"Uncle Jesse's never mentioned him, as I recall."

"He'd have no reason to, if they haven't spoken since 1932." Sitting on the ladder leading up to the hayloft, Daisy dangled her legs and kicked a low rung with her shoes. A dull, thudding rhythm filled the silence as they pondered this fact.

"I've never known Uncle Jesse to hold that kind of a grudge," Bo commented, then grinned. "Save for old man Garris of course."

"That's different," Luke told him, and the cousins all shared a grin. "That was something to do with moonshine."

"And nobody is allowed to get between a Duke and his still." Daisy jumped down from her perch. "I guess we'll find out for ourselves, one way or the other. He's due here at noon."

"Which is in less than two hours." Bo knocked the pitchfork aside, nearly tipping Luke headfirst into the pile of hay beside him. "So we'd best get a move on."

"In that case I'll leave you to it." Daisy slipped on by them, wearing a clear smirk. She had her own chores to do which, happily, were not nearly as tiring as those of Bo and Luke. Both boys glared after her.

"I swear this hay gets heavier every year," Bo muttered as he heaved another forkful. Luke raised his eyebrows.

"You getting old?"

"Huh." Bo tossed the forkful of hay in his cousin's direction. "You're older than I am."

"Yeah, but some of us wear it better." Luke pitched another forkful of hay back, and a cloud of dust rose into the air. A few stray stalks floated up, catching the sunlight pouring through the door of the barn.

"Are you suggesting something by that, cousin?" Bo went for another pile of hay to add to the battle, but a figure in the doorway stopped him. Jesse Duke, his thumbs hooked in the straps of his dungarees, was frowning at both boys in the way that was so familiar to them both. It suggested displeasure but was filled with good humour.

"You boys are planning on getting that finished before noon, aren't you?" he asked them. They exchanged a sheepish glance.

"Yes sir," Luke answered, only slightly humbled. Jesse nodded.

"Good. In that case you'll have time to finish digging that ditch out back before lunch." A short giggle from Bo made him flick his eyes over toward the younger boy. "And you can get the rest of that wall painted. I've been meaning to get it done more than a week now." Both boys nodded and he turned away, hiding his smile. "And remember we've got guests coming, so you'd better get things finished and yourselves cleaned up by then, right?"

"Right Uncle Jesse." The off-kilter chorus made his smile even broader, and he nodded in satisfaction.

"Then I'll see you later." He stomped off towards the house. Bo sighed.

"It'll take ages to paint that wall," he complained. Luke grinned.

"Only 'cause you're getting old."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah." With the ease of long practice, Luke ducked the hay being thrown at him, and took cover behind the nearest crate. At one time the wooden boxes which littered the barn would have been packed full of bottles of moonshine, ready for shipment to anxiously waiting customers. That had all changed since the boys had landed themselves on probation, but the boxes were still here, waiting. Probation did not last forever.

"We'll see who's getting old." Bo folded his arms, glaring down at his cousin, who was pulling strands of hay out of his hair. "I bet you I get the wall finished before you've dug your ditch."

"You're on." Luke stood up, dusting himself off. "Loser has to baby-sit Uncle Jesse's friend. He's gonna want somebody to show him around, and I'm betting Uncle Jesse won't be doing it himself."

"Fair enough." Bo slapped the dust from his hands in order to shake on the deal. He grinned as he did so. "I sure hope you're looking forward to a long trip with a reminiscing old man for company, cousin."

"You're gonna be the tour guide, not me."

"We'll see about that." Bo's grin grew bigger as he settled back to the task of pitching hay. "There's still a long time before noon."


It was a long car ride from the train station. Stan Pollack, his wide brimmed hat tipped far back on his head, was content to relax in the passenger seat and let his wife drive. She worried about letting him take the responsibility anyway these days, and it was always nice to put her mind at rest occasionally. She liked doing things for him, and to be honest he was rather tired… He stifled a yawn, trying to make his mind as relaxed as his body. He was doing the right thing, going to see Jesse again. He had to see the old guy. It was long past due.

"Another crossroads coming up," his wife told him, her voice disturbing his uncomfortable thoughts. He opened one eye.

"Take a right here." Her turn was rather sudden, and he had to tense up to avoid rolling about on the seat. The rental had no seatbelts, in front at least, and that disturbed him. His wife's driving was bad enough in the city, but on the rough track roads of Hazzard County it threatened to be fatal. He managed to smile.

"They're not expecting us until noon. There's no hurry."

"Yes there is. You might change your mind." She was not smiling. He sighed.

"It was my idea wasn't it?"

"Doesn't mean a thing." She was staring at him in between all too infrequent glances at the road ahead. "I know you, Stan Pollack."

"I should hope so too. We've been married 'round fifty years." He pulled the hat forward, using it to cover his eyes. "Wake me when we get there."

"I'll wake you before that." She finally turned her eyes back to the road on a more permanent basis, and frowned at a car sitting half hidden at the side of the road. "Damn, but there's a lot of policemen around here."

"It's a pretty lawless county all the same." Stan closed his eyes, trying not to think about Hazzard County or its inhabitants, lawless or otherwise. His wife made a disparaging noise.

"I'm not surprised. That sheriff didn't look like he could catch a cold without having to chase it right across the state first. And if that was honestly supposed to be a police dog he had with him, I'm the Duchess of Kent."

"Well keep your mind on your driving, your Grace. Otherwise you're going to be finding out how efficient that sheriff really is."

"Good point." She slowed the car a little, although not enough to lower Stan's pulse rate any, and then spun them round another corner with enough force to make his hat fall off his head. He glowered. So much for a chance to sit and dream. He didn't want to be awake. At least if he was asleep he couldn't be remembering. But the road was too rough and the suspension too inefficient, and the dreams wouldn't come to chase the memories away. He let the past embrace him, and fell back into deep thought as he watched the road roll by outside. He could see another road, many years ago, but that was one that he had no wish ever to drive on again.


The truck bounced and rattled over rough and stony ground, but its two occupants, used to the hard going, rode the bumps without a care. In the back they could hear the steady thumping of wooden boxes sliding into the metal sides of the truck, the occasional clink of glass telling them that one of the bottles was not packed as tightly as it could perhaps have been. Stan hoped they didn't lose any. It wasn't uncommon to break a few bottles during one of the faster runs, but lately they had been paid per intact bottle, and he wanted the extra money. After six months dogged courting, Betsy May Kelly had finally agreed to go out with him.

"Take it easy on this stretch. You can't see around the next three corners and it's a pretty busy road." Jesse Duke, Stan's co-driver, was looking out of the window on the passenger side, checking for any stray local policemen who might be in the mind for a chase. Stan shook his head.

"No way man. This is a race, remember? I said I could beat Jake Garris going this way, and I aim to do it. That fella's way too big for his boots."

"Yeah, I know." Jesse didn't add that lately so was Stan. "But this road isn't safe to go down at this speed. I don't care if we end up in a ditch, but I don't plan on dumping some poor guy in Hazzard General."

"You're getting to sound mighty like an old man, Jesse." Stan pushed his foot down harder on the accelerator, following the opposite of his friend's advice and increasing their speed. Jesse frowned, his trademark bushy eyebrows increasing the force of the glare that he directed at the driver.

"Slow down, Stan. Nobody drives this fast along this road. Not even the damn mill workers, and they figure they own half this county. We're way ahead of Garris. He'll never catch up."

"I want to be sure." Stan shot a sidelong glance at his friend, amused by the expression of concern that he saw on the younger man's face. Jesse had just turned seventeen, the same age Stan himself had been when he had first arrived in Hazzard, and he was trying to grow himself a beard to hide his rather babyish looks. It was still little more than ragged stubble, although it had promise, but it gave him a wild look that was in stark contrast to his words of caution. "Come on, Jess. We're not hurting anybody. I just want to win that wager with Garris, is all. I could use the extra cash Saturday night. Me and Betty May Kelly are heading on over to Grable Springs for a dance."

"You're not going to lose the bet." They were spinning around a corner now, the tight turns and twists of the road forcing Stan to turn his eyes back to look ahead, as he clung to the wheel. Maybe they were going a little fast, his subconscious was admitting, although his pride was damned if it was going to admit the same thing. Only another three or four hundred yards and the road straightened out again. He could keep up this speed until then. If somebody happened along, his reflexes were fast enough to enable him to turn. Of course they were. He spun the wheel again, steering round on to the next stretch of corkscrews. A shout from Jesse echoed in his ears, but when he turned his eyes from staring into the next bend, looking instead to the stretch of road immediately in front of the truck, all that he saw was a dark shape as it flew past the windscreen. Panic fired through him and he stamped on the brakes, nearly catapulting Jesse out through the front of the truck.

"What was that?" Never in his life had Stan known his voice to sound so cold, so thick. He could feel his shoulders wanting to shake, but somehow he was too frozen even to do that. Jesse was reaching for the door handle.

"I don't know." The younger boy almost fell out of the truck, vanishing out of Stan's line of sight. Summoning all of his self control, Stan managed to get back a little of his power of movement. He opened his door and went around to the back of the truck.

There was a pile of material lying at the side of the road. He didn't need to get too close to see that it was a girl. She was about sixteen, he reckoned, with black hair that should have been falling in lustrous curls about her shoulders. Instead it was splayed out on the dusty ground, matted with blood and streaked with dirt. Gently Jesse put a hand on her shoulder, turning her over onto her back. Sightless eyes stared up at a sky that seemed suddenly to be growing dark. Stan felt himself shivering. He was so cold; so very, very cold.

"Is she…?" He couldn't finish the question, but he already knew the answer anyway. Jesse glanced up at him, his eyes strikingly cold.

"She's dead." He reached out with his own, shaking hands, and closed the girl's eyes. They were blue. Bright, bright blue. He hadn't needed to look at them to know that, any more than he needed to look for identification to find out her name. Her name was Katy Garris, and he had known her all of her life. All of his life. She lived no more than a few minutes drive from the Duke farm.

"Oh man." Stan sat down very suddenly on the rear bumper of the truck. He felt sick, but he couldn't throw up. It was almost as though his body had lost the ability, or the knowledge of how to do it. He wanted a drink, but the vast supply of alcohol that tempted him with its nearness was carefully packaged in well-sealed wooden crates. He couldn't even begin to break them open, even though his heart thudded in his chest, and his mind screamed for a shot of strong, mind-embracing moonshine. "Oh man…"

"We have to get her home." With surprising gentleness Jesse scooped the girl up in his arms and laid her in the back of the truck, positioning her as gently as he could beside the crates. He took off his jacket and laid it across her face, not wanting to see it anymore. His hands shook all the while.

"Her father will kill us." It sounded cowardly, but Stan could not stop the words from stumbling out. Jesse did not even look at him.

"Then stay here." He climbed into the cab, his mind in too much of a whirl to think about anything as he started up the engine. He was living in somebody else's body. He was seeing through somebody else's eyes. It was the only explanation for why he felt so detached… so empty. All that he could see with any real clarity was Katy Garris, grinning up at him when he had helped her to fix her saddle last summer; or the time when he had found her lying in the woods after twisting her ankle trying to race her brother home. He had picked her up and carried her back to her father's home, just the way that he had picked her up off the road just then and put her into the back of his truck… He closed his eyes.

"Jesse?" Stan's voice startled him, but he didn't look up. The older boy was standing in the road, making no effort to get into the truck. "What's going to happen to us?"

"I don't know." Jesse pulled away, not wanting to think about what the Garris family was likely to do to Stan when they found out about this. He prayed that his friend would leave the county. That way he would be safe from harm; and Jesse would also be spared from ever having to look at him again. He wanted to cry, but whether the tears were for Katy or for Stan, or even just for himself, he could not be sure. He let the truck move slowly away down the road, avoiding the bumps and the holes, not wanting to disturb Katy. Behind him Stan stood stock still in the road, staring after his departing friend, but Jesse did not look back at him. Right now he couldn't be sure of keeping control if he let his eyes linger on the face of the man who was his closest friend. The man who had just killed his greatest love.


The car bumped over the rough ground at the entrance to the Duke farm, and came to an abrupt halt almost bumper to bumper with a battered old white pickup parked nearby. Betsy May Pollack climbed out of the car before her husband had even realised that they had arrived, and he unfolded himself from the cramped space to join her. She was running a bright, inquisitive eye over the pickup, and both of its two attendant vehicles, all of which seemed to suggest a little something about whoever might own them. Stan had to assume that the pickup itself belonged to Jesse Duke. He'd be old now, he figured; after all, Stan was old himself, and only two years separated him from his old friend. The pickup was old too, but sturdy and strong despite the clear signs of ageing. Just like Jesse, or at least just how Stan imagined him to be. It was close to fifty years since they had last seen each other, and he could only begin to guess at how much the passing time might have changed his former acquaintance.

The second car was a jeep of sorts; a frisky looking vehicle which suggested at youth and vigour. It looked strong and capable, and yet also had an air of fragility about it; the sort of air that made it a pretty little machine whilst belying the extent of its capabilities. Stan was willing to bet it would have held its own well enough in a moonshine race; and maybe given the stout old pickup a run for its money into the bargain. The third car shared that air of speed and strength; but it was in a completely different league to its companions.

It was a Charger, from what he could see of its original bodywork. It had clearly been doctored by somebody who knew their business, and he was fairly certain, if he knew the Dukes as well as he thought, that whatever engine rested beneath the hood was not the one installed by the manufacturers. The car itself lay under a shield of bright orange paint, which at once both attracted and appalled his eyes. A cheery Confederate flag had been painted onto the roof, lending the car a sense of the unique. He ran his hand across the roof, then tried the driver's door. Welded shut. Now why wasn't that a surprise?

"Mr Pollack?" A voice startled him, and he turned in surprise to see his wife standing barely a stone's throw away, accompanied by a young woman. The woman was a Duke, he was sure; with those bright eyes and their suggestion of a challenge there was nothing else that she could be. He wanted to run an appreciative eye over her figure, not to mention the legs revealed by the tight cut-off jeans; but he restrained himself. He didn't want to cause offence, to her or to his wife. And besides, he told himself with real regret; she looked young enough to be his granddaughter.

"Yeah." He strode towards her, shaking her hand. "Are you Jesse's kid?"

"Me?" She laughed. "No. My name's Daisy. Jesse is my uncle."

"Oh right." He nodded. Of course; Jesse had had three brothers as far as he remembered. He wondered if they all lived around here, and how many of the Dukes there still were in these parts. "It's good to meet you."

"It's good to meet you too." There was a guarded look in her eyes which told him that Jesse had let slip a little something about their relationship. He doubted that Daisy knew the real details, but clearly she knew that Stan and her uncle hadn't spoken in a long, long time. He caught a hint of curiosity written on her face, but she didn't ask him any questions. Clearly she thought that anything going on was between him and Jesse. Stan was glad about that, although he wasn't altogether sure why. He followed her to the house, taking his wife's hand, and wondered how much longer they were going to go for before the subject was raised properly. He didn't want to hear the story of Katy Garris's death ever again, but he knew that it would come out before his visit was over. It had to. It was part of the reason he had come.

There were two men sitting on the steps outside the house; little more than boys to Stan's reckoning. They stood up at the approach of Daisy and the guests, and Stan's appraising eye figured them to be more Dukes, even before they came forward to introduce themselves. He guessed the taller boy to be the younger; somehow he looked it, although any difference in age between the pair was clearly not great. He had blond hair with more than the hint of a wave, blue eyes that showed a ready welcome, and a build that suggested speed and hidden strength. He was dressed as though he liked to look good - stylish even in a work shirt and jeans - and his smile was bright and friendly. The shorter of the pair looked stronger, tougher, although his build was hardly larger than that of his companion. His hair was black and grew in curls, and it had a wild, carefree look to it, as though somehow it had reached an agreement with its owner; it would do as it liked, and he would do nothing to stop it. It was a one-sided agreement, but clearly it worked for both of them. This one was the quieter of the two, Stan decided. A little more withdrawn, perhaps, and a little less conscious of his appearance. His face was filled with the sort of dubious innocence that Stan Pollack had come to recognise in the younger inhabitants of Hazzard back in the old days. It meant that whilst this kid - all three of them come to that - might look as though butter wouldn't melt, they had probably all carted moonshine, out-raced cop cars and very likely seen the inside of the occasional jail cell. Undoubtedly they had hearts of gold, but it would take some doing to get them to even consider living a normal life. In fact it probably couldn't be done.

"These are my cousins." Her ready smile drawing Stan's attention back to her, Daisy indicated the two boys in turn. "Bo and Luke." Stan stepped forward, shaking the two offered hands, smiling back at the young men. The taller of the two, Bo, waved an arm up at the house, his manner so open that Stan began to lose his fears about the visit. Maybe things would go well after all.

"Come on in," the blond boy was saying. "There's coffee brewing, and plenty to eat."

"Thanks." Stan took his wife's hand, gathering his strength before his next question. "Where's Jesse?"

"He had to go out. Some important meeting got called at the town hall. He said to give you his apologies." Luke was smiling, but there was something else behind his eyes; the suggestion of a white lie being told to protect somebody - but whether that somebody was Jesse, or Stan himself, the guest could not be sure. He forced a polite smile of understanding.

"Yeah." With a growing sense of apprehension he turned to go back to the car for the luggage. "I bet he did."


Luke Duke heaved a sigh and folded his hands behind his head, trying to look as though he was at least part awake. Typical. Bloody typical. And to think that the whole deal had been his idea. He avoided the come-on smile of the waitress and sat up straight, drawing patterns in the rings of condensation left on the table by his companion's glass. There had been less than a few seconds in it; no sooner had Bo thrown his brush down after finishing the wall, than Luke had been finishing as well. In fact, when all was said and done, he had finished the digging before his cousin had finished the painting. He just hadn't considered the problems inherent in getting out of the ditch once dug, when the edges were slick from the water leaking from the nearby well. And so it was that he found himself now, for once without Bo as his constant companion, watching Stan Pollack apparently trying to drink himself into an early grave. The old man was sitting slumped over the table, nursing a small glass of whisky and a bigger one of beer, his blurry eyes suggesting that he could no longer see either one. He had begun with stories of his youth, at first interesting, then repetitive, and finally just plain tedious. Now he had lapsed into silence, punctuated only by occasional outbursts which were largely unintelligible. At first Luke had thought that he had heard the name Garris mentioned once or twice, but the words were becoming increasingly slurred, and he could hardly recognise one from another now. He was beginning to feel decidedly isolated, for no one wanted to come near the table of a drunken stranger, whose reputation as Jesse Duke's enemy of sorts had clearly preceded him.

They had awaited Jesse's return until late the previous night, boiling and reboiling the kettle to keep the supply of coffee going strong. They had spoken about Hazzard County, the moonshining business, the General Lee, the increasingly distant world outside their own little piece of the country - everything that the three younger Dukes had been able to think of to keep the interest of their guests. They had gone to bed in the end, exhausted by conversation, wondering what on earth had been keeping their uncle. Whatever it was, it had clearly kept him until very late into the night, for he had been sleeping in, for the first time in years, when Luke had risen himself. He had seen nothing of his uncle even when the morning chores were done and Daisy had got breakfast ready. He still hadn't risen when Luke, acting the part of the willing host, had offered to show the Pollacks around Hazzard. Stan had accepted, Betsy May hadn't; and Stan's acceptance had soon turned into a one way trip to the Boar's Nest. He had been guzzling alcohol since their arrival, and Luke was getting worried about him. The old man looked older than he should do somehow; as though his age was recorded in his heart and in his soul as well as on his birth certificate. He looked ill; drawn and tired in the inefficient light of the Nest. The whisky and beer couldn't have been helping, but Luke didn't know how to tell him to stop. It didn't seem right, somehow, to interfere. Not with a guest, and certainly not with a man of Stan's age.

"You're bored." The words were the first intelligible ones in some time, and Luke almost jumped. He glanced back at Stan, as much to check that it really had been him who had spoken as to make any sort of response.

"Of course I'm not bored." Trying not to wince at the sunken eyes staring blearily up at him from their resting position on the folded arms of their owner, Luke managed a wan smile. Was it just the light, he wondered, or did Stan's skin really have a greyish tinge to it? "Can I take you anywhere else? Somewhere you used to hang out?"

"You are bored." Stan smiled. "It's okay kid, you can admit it. I don't care. Don't care about much, really, especially just lately." He frowned, clearly finding it hard to focus on the face turned towards him. "You want to know why I'm here, don't you?"

Luke's mind wanted to answer in the affirmative, but he smiled briskly and shook his head. "No sir. That's your affair."

"Like hell it is." Stan sighed, draining the whisky set before him but ignoring the beer. "It's Jesse's affair too, if I can get him to talk to me sometime soon. It's everybody's affair. It's yours, it's your cousins'. It sure as hell concerns Jake Garris. I had to come, see, and I don't plan on going easy. Not yet."

"Maybe you'd better leave it till later, when we're back at the house." Not sure that he wanted to listen to some old, drunk tale when he was on his own, Luke toyed with the empty glass before him. He'd had a few beers earlier, to try to keep the old man company, but he had stopped long ago. Stan was doing enough drinking for both of them.

"No need to wait, boy." Spinning his empty whisky glass on its rim, Stan passed a heavily-wrinkled hand across his brow. "I know my mind, and I want to talk." His eyes glittered, bright for an instant, then dulled back down to their previous bleary glow. "It was 1932. I was nineteen; a little younger than you are now I figure. Me and Jesse, we were moonshiners, running it together as partners. We were young, but we were coming up fast; the best in the business. Only fella who came close to being a rival was Jake Garris. To cut a long story short, I got a big head. A real big head. I thought I was unbeatable, and one day I got myself into a real dumb race with Jake so as I could prove it. We were racing down some of the worst roads in the county, and I was going far too fast. Jesse tried to make me slow down, but I wouldn't listen to him. We went round a corner, and--" He broke off, and for a moment looked as though he would not be able to carry on. He did though, eventually; his voice suddenly hushed to an all but inaudible level. "There she was. Lying on the ground behind the truck. I didn't really even see her as she went over the windshield. I never even noticed that we'd hit her." He shook his head, reaching for the whisky glass, raising it to his mouth before he realised that it was empty. He scowled and threw the glass away, causing it to bounce off the edge of the table and hit the seat of an empty chair nearby. Amazingly it didn't break. "She was sixteen. Sixteen. Just a child. I was so sorry. So very, very sorry. But it was too late for any of that. It was my fault. She was dead, and everybody knew it was my fault. Jesse--" He broke off again, this time for much longer, staring either at the wall or far back into his own past. Luke couldn't tell which, and didn't see that it much mattered. "Jesse took her home. He had to wait there for hours, he said. All alone back at the house. Her parents were away, and of course Jake was still out there. Still racing us. There was a fight I think, when he finally got home. Jesse wanted to stop him starting up what coulda turned out to be a lynching party. Maybe I wish it had've been. I only saw Jesse once after that… just before I left. Me and my girl, we took out a few days later. Betsy May didn't have any real family as such in these parts, so she wasn't about to stay here. We haven't been back since."

"I see." It was all that Luke could think of to say, although it wasn't easy to get even that much out. There were gaps in the story of course, but they were gaps that he himself could fill in. The girl, clearly, had meant something to Jesse Duke; something more than mere friendship. He had seen it in his uncle's eyes when he had first mentioned the visit of Stan Pollack; the echo of a distant sadness that was not as distant as it might have been. No wonder he had never wanted to rekindle his old friendship. And no wonder Jake Garris had been so distant towards him all of these years. Garris blamed Jesse. Jesse probably blamed himself. Pollack had been hiding from it all of these years, his own guilt growing… the young Duke wondered about Jake's sister. He had never heard anybody mention her. He wondered what her name had been, what she had looked like. Whether, if things had worked out differently, he might have been raised by an aunt as well as by an uncle. His eyes met with Pollack's, and he saw pain and sorrow mingle with the shadows in the old man's face.

"Why'd you come back?" he asked, unable to think of anything else to say. Pollack laughed, a low, miserable laugh that didn't suggest at any kind of pleasure in his presence in Hazzard.

"Because." His shoulders stiffened, his stance straightening, and his eyes burned with a sudden flash of something new. "I'm dying. Oh I don't just mean 'cause I'm getting old. I mean the real thing; illness… some disease I don't even remember the name of. The doctors tell me I've got a while. Even more if I stop drinking." He shrugged. "But I need the drink if I'm gonna come here and set things straight, and I figured that's just what I've got to do. It's long past time that I spoke to a few people, tried to bury a few hatchets; maybe even tried to mend a few fences. I guess I owe that much to Jesse and to Jake." His eyes lowered, the shadows taking them over once again. "And especially Katy. God knows I owe it to her." He managed a watery smile. "See? Now you know why Jesse's been avoiding me. Why he'll go on avoiding me. I can't say as I blame him, but I wish he'd give me a chance. I've gotta put some things straight. I want to make some peace with him, before it's too late."

"I'll talk to him." The words seemed hard to say, his throat suddenly dry. Luke wished that Bo was with them, to take some of the heat off. It was hard to be alone with a man filled with such sadness, such guilt. Stan laughed.

"I reckon you would, too, and it's real good of you to suggest such a thing. But I don't reckon it's right to involve you in this. Not now."

"You said it concerned us all." Luke didn't quite know how to look the older man in the eyes, so instead he directed his words at Pollack's hands, thin and bony, knitted together on the tabletop. Wrinkled folds of greying skin resting far too loosely around bones that were almost visible. He wondered if he would look that way too one day, and tried not to shiver. "My uncle means a lot to me, Mr Pollack. He raised me; me and my cousin Bo. If there's anything we can do to help him get a handle on this, we'll do it. I can speak for Bo same as myself."

Stan nodded, keeping his smile to himself. He looked torn, Luke decided; an old man wanting to do everything himself, and knowing that he couldn't; but still unwilling to accept the help that was on offer. Finally he sighed.

"Maybe you're right. Maybe we should work together. But it isn't just your uncle that I've got to talk to. It's Jake Garris too. I can't leave this world knowing that those two hate each other as much as I reckon they do right now; and all 'cause of me. I killed that girl, not Jesse. He's been blaming himself all these years, just as much as I have. Jake's been blaming him too."

"And you figure you can stop all that by speaking to them?" Luke had had a fair bit of experience with old man Garris over the years. He was a hard-faced, bitter man, who seemed to know no reason or justice. He was said to chase children off his land with a rifle, and he sat alone on his property with nobody for company save an old dog. Luke had been scared of the dog once. It was very big, black from head to foot, and had the loudest growl he had ever heard. Ten years later the dog could barely walk straight, and was about as scary as Rosco's old hound. Garris still threatened to set him on trespassers though, spitting his threats out at the world around the butt of a cigar that looked as old as he did. He always wore the same clothes, he always spent his days the same way, and he had no forgiveness in his heart for anyone; least of all, Luke was willing to bet, for the man who had killed his sister.

"I'm figuring on that, yeah." Slowly, his bones creaking, Pollack rose to his feet. "Drive me home, Luke. It's time I spoke to Jesse." His hard, bony hand clapped the younger man on the shoulder. "Thanks."

"For what?" Luke stood up, wondering if his companion was going to make it all the way outside to the car. He looked well past the just plain unsteady phase, and was well on his way to being legless.

"For listening to me, for understanding; or making out like you do anyways." Stan was clearly stronger than he looked, for he made it to the door without so much as stumbling. "Reckon we can drive past the Garris place on the way home?"

"It's not exactly on the way home." Luke shrugged. Anything to keep the old man happy. "But we can take a detour if you'd like. Not much to see though." Nothing at all from the road, save an old barn with a rather makeshift patch on the wall. He wondered if old man Garris had discovered that yet. The thought almost made him smile.

"Hey, look who it is." They rounded the corner at the same time, startled by the voice, looking towards its source. Four men dressed in working clothes were draped over the General Lee, their casual demeanour not quite hiding a threat. Stan smiled at them, not understanding, but Luke groaned.

"Get lost boys. We don't want any trouble." He folded his arms, walking as slowly and as casually as he could towards his car. Not one of the foursome moved. Why should they? Without Bo, he was severely outnumbered. He could hardly count on Pollack as a fearsome fighter after all. The leader of the group, the man who had sent the airborne Bo hurtling out of the Garris barn a day or more ago, took a step away from the car and folded his own arms. He was tall and ugly, his face still marked by his fight with the Dukes. He wore heavy work gloves and boots that could only have been steel-capped. Luke didn't fancy getting on the wrong side of those.

"You don't want any trouble." The man grinned at him, revealing yellowed teeth and a mouth that appeared to have been regularly rinsed with Eau De Cheap Whisky And Stale Smoke. "Maybe somebody else does."

"I have a guest." That meant something in Hazzard. You might have a quarrel with a neighbour, but you never had a quarrel with your neighbour's guests. Fights were supposed to be put on hold whilst there was entertaining to be done. "Whatever your argument is, leave it for now. We'll deal with it later."

"Sure, boy. Sure." The man was grinning insultingly, nodding his head in a particularly uncaring way. "That's fine. Always supposing my argument ain't with your guest to start off with."

"Huh?" Stupefied by this comment, Luke cast a glance back toward Stan. The old man was watching the proceedings with a half-frown, his shadowy eyes showing no emotion at all. "What argument could you have with him?"

"Ain't my argument." The man waved a handful of twenty dollar bills in the air, fanning them out like a pack of cards. "But when I get paid to have a quarrel with a man, I sure am going to quarrel, if you get my drift." He smiled, then stuffed the money into the breast pocket of his shirt. "So just you keep out of the way, and we'll forget our little scuffle the other day. I'm frying bigger fish than farm boys today."

"Somebody paid you to fight him?" Luke took a step forward, but almost at once Stan's hand was on his shoulder. The old man suddenly looked a good ten years younger, and had finally lost the dark lines of sorrow which had previously blighted his appearance.

"You leave it Luke," he said gently, his voice low. "I've got a feeling this is one piece of business I ought to be handling myself."

"Jake Garris." Luke spoke the words with sudden understanding. "Stan, you can't go with these people. There's no telling what Garris has planned for you."

"I'm betting he'll want to talk first, whatever it is. I came here to talk with him, remember? This is just the opportunity I've been looking for." Hooking his thumbs into his frayed lapels, Pollack drew himself up to his full, not unimpressive height and squinted at the foursome around the General Lee. "Okay boys. Supposing you take me to your boss, huh?"

"That's the plan, old man." The leader of the group cracked his knuckles loudly. "More or less." His yellowed teeth flashed as he glanced back at his companions. "Our orders were to make sure the ride wasn't too comfortable, if you follow me." He spat onto the ground, narrowly missing Stan's left shoe. "You've sure wound somebody up the wrong way."

"You can't fight him. He's ill." Luke tried to push Stan back, but found the old man stronger than he had anticipated. "Stan…"

"Forget it Luke. I ran away all those years ago. I came back because I figured I had certain things I had to answer to. Certain debts I had to pay. I'm willing to take my punishment now, like I shoulda taken it back then."

"It was an accident, Stan. You can't let them hurt you now over some accident you had when you were hardly man enough to be held responsible anyway." Luke shook his head, purposefully placing himself between Stan and the four belligerent men. "This is crazy. If you want him, you're going to have to go through me."

"Fine." One of the other members of the gang stepped forward, pushing a long fringe of dirty black hair out of his eyes. Somehow he seemed a lot bigger today than he had the last time they'd met, and Luke smiled nervously. Maybe gallantry wasn't such a great idea after all.

The big man let loose with a single blow which Luke side-stepped easily enough. He followed it up with a blow of his own, at the same time stamping down hard on the big man's toes. The man let out a shout of rage, hopped madly on the other foot, and promptly lost his balance. He cannoned into one of his fellows, sending the pair of them crashing to the ground. The leader of the foursome made a grab for Luke, only to step back smartly as an airborne beer can smacked into the top of his head, bouncing off and hitting the roof of the General Lee. Luke glanced up to see who had thrown it, but could see nobody. It had to have come from inside the Boar's Nest, and he grinned a silent thanks to some unknown ally. Given that the can had been a full one, he appreciated the gesture even more.

"Look out Luke!" Stan's warning came at the same time as the old man launched into the attack himself, bony fists flailing madly as he charged at the nearest enemy. The man stumbled back, caught off guard, throwing his hands up to protect himself from the wild assault. Luke dodged the blow he had been warned about, twisted out of the way of a second punch, and dodged his way straight into a third. It caught him solidly on the side of the head, knocking him to his knees. He threw himself to the ground to avoid a roundhouse kick, landed hard in the dirt, and rolled out of the way as the big man with the dirty black hair tried to body slam him. The leader dived after him, catching him around the neck with a pair of strong, sinewy arms that did not want to be loosened. The pair rolled about in the dirt, struggling furiously. Dust rose into the air, hampering their vision.

"You crazy old man!" The fourth member of the gang, still struggling under the attacks of Stan Pollack, finally managed to get in a blow of his own. It caught the old moonshiner squarely on the point of the jaw, knocking him back. He went down in an instant, crashing into a heap on the hard ground. His attacker stared down at him, breathing heavily. Old though Stan might have been, his attack had been a violent one, and his hard and bony fists had taken their toll.

"Get over here!" Unconcerned with his compatriot's injuries the leader of the foursome yelled for his assistance, and the other man obediently lumbered over. Two of his fellows had hold of Luke, but the younger man was struggling wildly, his legs keeping the third man at bay. The fourth man threw himself into the affray with gusto, catching hold of the madly kicking legs and holding Luke still. Helpless the Duke boy still struggled, but his attempts to break free were futile. The leader of the foursome stepped up, polishing his knuckles, and ended the fight with an air of almost surgical precision. Luke went limp and his attackers let him fall.

"Come on, before the police get interested." Heaving Stan into a battered yellow pickup truck parked behind the General Lee, the leader of the gang slid behind the wheel. They left Luke where he was, unconscious on the ground, with the dust settling over him in a blanket of brown and grey. He coughed once as the truck sped off, sending new plumes of dust and fumes into the air; but he did not stir. With a roar of its doctored engines the pickup vanished. Rosco saw it go, as he sat on the edge of town in his car, but he did not give a thought to its occupants. He had the sports page to read; and on a baking hot day in Hazzard, everything else could go to hell.


"I feel like such a fool." Flinching away as Daisy applied a cloth soaked in antiseptic to a cut on his head, Luke stared up at Uncle Jesse and Bo. They stood shoulder to shoulder before him, arms folded; a rigid line of stubborn Dukedom. Bo was angry, both at the four men and at himself for not having been there to help. Jesse merely looked serious.

"It's not your fault Luke." Daisy dabbed at his head again, and once more he flinched. Why was it that the treatment always hurt more than the injury? "Hold still you big baby."

"Never try to go into the nursing profession." Deciding that he had taken enough of her ministrations, Luke stood up. "What do we do Uncle Jesse? I'm sure those men were working for Jake Garris. It stands to reason."

"Maybe. Maybe not." The old man eased himself into his chair at the kitchen table, frowning hard. His white eyebrows knitted together as he stared up at Luke. "Why'd you reckon Garris would want to kidnap Stan?"

"Because." Luke's eyes flickered around at the others in the room, unsure if he should be telling them what he had heard from Stan. "I know everything, Uncle Jesse. I know about the race, and about Jake's sister. That's why Stan came back here. To make amends."

"Huh." Jesse shook his head. "That man wouldn't know how to make amends. After all that he did, he comes back here, expects a welcome. He's got a nerve."

"But you let him stay." Luke wanted to reach out for his uncle, although he wasn't sure right now whether the gesture would be appreciated. "He told you why he was coming, didn't he? About being ill?"

"Yeah, sure. It was all in his letter." Jesse took a sip at a long-poured cup of coffee on the table, turned cold a good fifteen minutes previously. He hardly even noticed that it was no longer warm. "I gave him the chance to come here and make peace with his past, but I'm not ready to make that kind of peace with him myself. And if I'm not, I can't hardly preach any different when Jake Garris finds he can't make peace either." He pushed himself to his feet, turning slowly round to walk back to the next room. He stopped. Betsy May stood in the doorway, her large, dark eyes fixed intently on Jesse's face. There was a sense of otherworldliness about her, with her floral print dress so old and faded, and her hairstyle at least a decade out of fashion. Even her shoes were faded and worn. The effect was strangely beautiful, and she looked very strong and determined. Jesse sighed.

"Don't you go trying to change my mind, Betsy May. Nobody asked Stan to come back to Hazzard. He shoulda known what he was getting himself into, coming back here after all these years."

"He did know." Her head lowered slightly, her eyes giving the impression that she was not looking at Jesse, but was looking instead into the past. "It was important to him Jesse. Very important. You have to see that… that it's been so bad for him since we left Hazzard. You can't imagine how he's tortured himself, day after day, all this time. He knew how much you loved Katy, and he knew how much he had hurt you; you and Jake. He wanted to come back and say sorry, to try to mend some bridges. He didn't want to leave this world knowing that he'd left something in that much of a mess. Why do you think he was so willing to go with those men. Luke, did he fight them? Did he try to stop them?" Luke shook his head. Stan had fought, but only to help him. "You see?" She took a deep, shuddering breath. "He knew what Jake's likely to do with him. He knew that he could be going to get himself killed. But he's willing to take that chance, to try and speak to Jake Garris. Can't you see how important this is to him? To both of us?" She stepped forward, reaching out to take Jesse's hands. He didn't resist. "Katy was my friend too, Jesse. She was my best friend. We did everything together, went everywhere together. That day… that day I was supposed to be with her. I'd overslept, and I had to finish my chores before I was allowed out. I was running to meet her, but I was late and she had already gone. If she hadn't waited for me, she wouldn't have been there, at that time. If I'd been wit her maybe I could have saved her. Or maybe I'd have died too, even that would have been easier." She closed her eyes for a second, seeming to gather strength before speaking again. "It hurt us all Jesse. Every one of us in Hazzard, every one of us who knew Katy. Stan wanted to say sorry. He's not asking for forgiveness."

"I don't know that I could give him that." Jesse was not meeting her gaze. "I kept telling him to slow down. I kept telling him…"

"I know. He told me. He told me all of that, and how much he hated himself. But it happened. There's no sense in trying to think how it might not have done; how easy it was to avoid. That's as bad as running away and hiding from it." Her hands tightened on his, just for a second, before she let go and stepped back. "Don't let Jake kill him, Jesse - please. Don't let this go on any longer. He was your friend. Isn't it time you let him be that again?"

"Maybe." He sighed, a long, drawn out sigh that seemed to come from some inner part of him, as though it had been looking for release for fifty years. At last he nodded. "Okay."

"Alright!" Bo pounded him on the back in excitement. "Come on, Luke."

"Wait, hold it." Jesse turned about. "This ain't your concern, boys."

"It sure is Uncle Jesse." Luke sounded more forceful than he would ordinarily have been when speaking to his uncle. "Me and Bo both have a score to settle with those guys, and that's not counting my fight with them earlier. We're going."

"Me too," Daisy announced, folding her arms determinedly and frowning at her uncle. He glared at her, but she did not back down.

"We'll all go." Bo made it sound as though they were planning a day trip to the seaside; a real family outing. "Come on, Uncle Jesse. You don't have time to argue with us, and we'll just follow you anyway, if you try to go on your own." Jesse's glare turned from Daisy onto the younger Duke boy; then he growled something unintelligible and turned his back on the lot of them.

"I'll deal with you later," he told them, his voice suggesting that he could have been pleased at their stance; or that he was anything but. "Come on Betsy May." He took her hand and she went with him, out of the house and towards his pickup truck. He was still starting up the engine when the General Lee roared into life and sped away out of the yard, twin fountains of dust kicking up under its lively tyres. A blast of the car's musical horn sounded a bright salute, and just above it Jesse heard his two nephews, yelling in tandem. He smiled to himself. Look out Jake Garris; the Dukes were coming.


The Garris farm had fallen into a state of considerable disrepair. Stan Pollack looked about at the buildings, most of them with broken windows or collapsing roofs, and sighed a sorry sigh. Jake's father would never have let it fail to this extent; but he was long dead, killed along with his wife in 1942 whilst visiting relatives in London. Not the most sensible of times to go visiting, he thought with a smile; but then Frank Garris had never been the sort of man to let distant events dictate his movements. He had probably dared Germany to just try to drop a bomb on him. His son had been a different sort altogether. Stan remembered him clearly; remembered the fishing trips and the races, the late nights at the Boar's Nest and the moonlit moonshine parties in a string of barns right across Hazzard. Jake had never been one for work, never been one to put himself out in any way. He was a man born to party, born to show others a good time. He had never stopped laughing in all the two years they had been friends. It had only been those last few weeks when the pair of them, fuelled by rumours that each was the best at running moonshine, had begun to lose track of their friendship. The dares had become more important, the betting more intense. It was no longer about having a good time - when they raced moonshine, they raced for bigger and bigger stakes. They had ceased to talk. Stan thought about that last bet, his own stupid idea - thought about his feverish determination to come in first. The memory made him sick now, but he didn't blame himself any longer. The time for that was long past.

"In here." One of his guards opened the door to the main house; a large, wooden building which appeared to have received its last coat of whitewash in 1942. Chicken wire had replaced the glass on two or three of the windows, and a couple of the others had been boarded over with plywood. Even the door was a ramshackle affair, scratched and suffering from long years of harsh winters, and not enough woodstain. It creaked noisily as it opened, and slammed shut with a dull, heavy thump. Almost immediately they were in a dark corridor. The walls were close by, the ceiling low. A crackling firelight lit the way ahead, to a large room with an old, worn carpet and an eclectic collection of mostly handmade furniture. The walls were covered in old, framed photographs depicting family scenes - a cookout, a wedding, a Christening. Stan wandered closer to one old picture, staring at the faces of the people smiling back at him. He recognised Jake, standing with his arm around a young girl. Stan could still see her in his mind, lying on the road with her hair matted with blood. He wanted to close his eyes, but he didn't.

"Beautiful, wasn't she." Jake's voice sounded much as he remembered it; albeit a little more hoarse due to his age. Stan did not turn.

"She sure was, Jake. I remember when we took her to that big fancy store just outside Blue Ridge, to get her that dress she'd been wanting. What was that now? Her fifteenth birthday?"

"I reckon." The sound of footsteps clumped closer, and this time Stan did turn. A light clicked on; one single bulb dangling from the ceiling on a decidedly makeshift looking wire. It swung to-and-fro in the slight draft coming from an ill-fitting window frame.

"Hello Jake." Smiling in what he hoped was a friendly manner, Pollack took a step forward. Jake stared at him, at the outstretched hand of welcome, and shook his head.

"You ain't trying to be friendly, Stan? After all that's happened?"

"I don't see any reason why not. It's why I came, Jake. I figured we'd all hated each other from a distance long enough. Time to bury a few hatchets before it's too late for any of us."

"You think I'm ready to bury any hatchets?" The voice was quiet, and most definitely dangerous. Stan sighed.

"Jake, we were friends once. I made a mistake, I'm willing to accept that now. I'm willing to face up to my failings. I'm not asking for your forgiveness, Jake--"

"Good." His former friend took a shuffling step forward. "I'm not offering it."

"Then what are you offering? Why go to all the trouble of bringing me here? Of giving Luke Duke such a hard time? You could have come to me yourself. We could have talked alone."

"I know." Jake shook his head, suddenly looking much more than his years. "But I didn't want to talk, alone or otherwise. All I wanted - all I've ever wanted - is justice. I wanted to see you pay for what you did to Katy. I wanted to see you in the courthouse, telling it all to us. I wanted to see you shipped off to the County Jail. I wanted to see you suffer." He turned away, rubbing a large, callused hand across his eyes. "That's still what I want, Stan. Oh there won't be any courthouses now - we all now there's no point in that. We all know you're guilty anyway, so why worry about it. All I want now is justice. I want you dead."

"If that's what you need to bring you peace, Jake, I'm not going to argue." Very slowly Stan lowered himself into the nearest chair. He felt very ill, very old. His head no longer wanted to sit still, but seemed to be spinning restlessly round in irregular circles. "I came here to mend bridges, and I always figured my death was what was needed there. So go ahead. Kill me. All I ask is that you do it yourself. None of this hired muscle rubbish. I just want this over with."

"You always were one weird son-of-a-bitch, Pollack." Garris sat down in another chair, rubbing his eyes again. When he looked up, the bad light from the bulb shone right across his face, illuminating every wrinkle, every fold in the sun-tanned skin. Watery blue eyes stared at Stan, tears leaking from the corners. He wiped at them ineffectually.

"And you always were a stubborn one." Stan looked away, staring into the shadowy recesses of the room. "Do I get a last request?"

"I can't see it doing any harm."

"Good." Stan nodded at the cabinet in the corner. "A bottle of moonshine? Like the old days."

"If that's what you want." Climbing to his feet, Garris went over to the cabinet, fishing out a bottle and two glasses. As he returned to his chair he nodded at the four millworkers he had employed to bring in his guest.

"Get going," he ordered them. "Watch the grounds. We might be getting a visitation, and I want to be ready just in case."

"Sure." The foursome left, and in the draft of the slamming door the bulb in the ceiling swung harder. The light cast violent, rocking shadows about the floor, and in its unreliable glow Stan and Jake regarded each other silently. It had been a long, long time since they had last looked at each other, and the years had not been kind to either of them. They smiled at each other, their thin lips lost in the shadows. Jake poured colourless liquid into the two glasses, and handed one to his old friend.

"To justice," he said darkly, and Stan smiled a smile that might have meant anything.

"Justice," he repeated softly, and raised his glass in salute.


"Well will you take a look down there, cousin?" Lying across the roof of the General Lee, Bo lowered his binoculars from his eyes and pointed down the short hill separating him from Garris's main yard. Luke, precariously balanced in the upper branches of an apple tree nearby, leaned out to look, sending a shower of small twigs and unripe fruit to the ground.

"I spy our friends," he said, his grin hidden by a clump of leaves. Bo nodded, even though his cousin couldn't see him.

"What do you suppose we should do to them?"

"I can think of one or two things." Luke ran his eyes over the property. Of the four millworkers, he could see three, all positioned at various points about the yard. One was carrying a rifle, the other two heavy sticks, and he didn't fancy going in for any close range fighting given those odds. "What's in the trunk?"

"Let's take a look." His voice jaunty, Bo slid down the back of the car and opened the trunk. Aside from two bows and a whole heap of arrows there was not a lot inside. He smirked. Not a lot - save for a handful of fireworks left over from their Independence Day celebrations a few weeks earlier. He began to whistle, leaving Luke to keep an eye on their friends below, and began the not-too-arduous task of strapping a selection of fireworks to a few of the arrows. When he had finished he had six improvised missiles. He handed three up to Luke along with one of the bows, and was just taking up position himself when the little jeep belonging to Daisy drew up alongside the General Lee. She climbed up onto the roof next to Bo.

"What's the plan, boys?" she asked, staring down into the yard.

"Plan?" Luke's disembodied voice came from the tree above her. "When did we ever have a plan?"

"Now he tells me." Grinning, Bo fitted the first of his souped-up arrows into his bow, at the same time reaching for his matches. Daisy beat him to it, producing a cigarette lighter and striking him a steady flame. He smiled his gratitude.

"On a count of three," Luke told him, the lowering of his voice telling his cousin that he was concentrating on his aim. The pair on the car roof heard the strike of a match. "Three… two… one… Fire!"

They let rip at the same moment, two arrows flying in perfect unison towards the yard beneath. Bo's arrow caught in the ground near to where one man stood, and Luke stuck quivering in the cloth top of a jeep parked close to the second man. There was a second's inactivity, then a burst of fire. Someone yelled, caught by surprise, and a flash of blue sparks sent one of the men diving for cover. In the midst of the confusion, Luke fired again, his second arrow striking the front doorstep of the house. It sent a mad flurry of sparks skyward and into the ground, spitting flashes of igniting gunpowder into the air.

"Yahoo!" His shout one of pure glee, Bo leapt to his feet, standing on the roof of the car to fire his own second arrow. It missed the third of the millworkers by barely an inch, causing him to shout aloud in fear. Daisy could practically smell his singed hair from the top of the incline. Behind her she heard rather than saw Jesse's pickup truck as it jerked to a halt. The old man clambered out.

"What are you boys doing?" The sound of a gunshot was his answer, as the armed man beneath them recovered his wits enough to loose off a shot at his attackers. Luke answered with his final arrow, hitting the rifle sharply in the barrel and knocking it from the startled gunman's hands. He scuttled for cover, head low, and Bo sent his own last arrow after him as a parting shot. It struck the jeep hit earlier by Luke's arrow. The cloth canopy over the back was already merrily ablaze, and as the boys and their spectators watched, the sparks from Bo's final arrow sounded the death knoll for the vehicle. With a juddering blast that tore it apart, the jeep burst into flame.

"Wait here!" Leaping to the ground, a handful of spare arrows in one hand and his bow in the other, Bo dashed down the hill, keeping to the cover of the bushes. Luke was just ahead of him, dodging from bush to bush and tree to tree, his next arrow already loaded and ready to fire. He broke cover just before Bo, running for the blazing jeep, covering the two men he found nearby with his bow. They stared up at the Duke boy, or rather at the arrow pointed straight at them, and raised their hands. He grinned at them.

"Good boys."

As Luke took care of the two men by the jeep, Bo pushed on further into the yard. He caught sight of one of the other men and yelled a warning to him. The man glanced back, looked wildly to left and right, and made a break for it. Bo sent an arrow into the ground at his feet and the man tripped, stumbled, and gave up. He raised his hands, and Bo could not prevent a broad grin from taking over his face.

"Don't move." The voice was low, but both boys recognised it. They turned as one, facing towards the fourth member of the gang. He held a rifle, and was pointing it straight at Luke. "Drop your weapons, boys. Or I'll drop you."

"That would be a shame." The voice was female, he realised, at about the same time that he also realised there was a gun digging into his ribs. He froze.

"Who are you?" he asked. Daisy's voice was lightened by the broad smile on her face.

"Are you kidding? I'm the heroine. I'm here to save the day." She pushed him over to his fellows, prodding him with the gun she had picked up from the ground; the same gun that Bo had claimed with his arrow. It had clearly been damaged by the firework assault, and she doubted very much that it would fire; but so long as her prisoner did not know that, she figured she was safe. Bo and Luke clapped her on the shoulders as she came nearer.

"Nice going, Daisy," Luke congratulated her. She smirked back at him.

"I never did see the sense in letting you two have all the fun. Now what do we do?"

"You put your hands above your heads." The voice came from the door of the house, where an old man stood, holding an equally ancient rifle. His hands shook slightly as they pointed the gun, but the eyes in his wrinkled face were cold and hard. The Dukes exchanged a worried glance.

"You heard him." Twisting away from Daisy's rifle, the man she had captured cocked his own gun, still in his hands, and used it to push Luke and Bo forward. Daisy followed suit as the other three men moved in to back up their comrade.

"Now what?" Bo asked Luke as they were herded over towards the house. The older Duke glanced up at his cousin and shrugged.

"Search me."

The old man had come down the steps, kicking out the last vestiges of the still smoking arrow that was stuck in the bottom stair, and he surveyed the three captive Dukes with little in the way of triumph. "Get them inside," he ordered his confederates, but just as they were moving to obey another voice rang out across the yard.

"Jake! You put that gun down and come over here so we can talk properly."

It was the voice of Jesse Duke.


Inside the house it was dark and cold, an upstairs window banging without rhythm against the wall as a tuneless accompaniment to all. Jesse stood framed in the doorway of the living room. The four millworkers had gone, and Bo, Luke and Daisy sat in a row on the threadbare sofa pushed up against one wall. The three older members of the gathering seemed to have all but forgotten their presence, and by their body language alone they had shut out the rest of the room. Bo stared at his uncle, seeing a stiffness to the oldest Duke's stance that he had not seen before.

"What's going on?" he asked, still a little uncertain about all of the details surrounding the day's events. Luke shrugged.

"They're old friends," he said. "Old 'shine racers. Stan went too fast on a blind turn and killed old man Garris's sister. She was Uncle Jesse's girl."

"And none of them have ever forgiven each other." Daisy shook her head. She wondered how she would feel, if a friend of hers killed someone close to her; how she would feel about Enos or Cooter if they knocked down Bo or Luke. She couldn't imagine it, and was glad. "Fifty years is a hell of a time to hold a grudge."

"I figure it's 'cause Stan ran out. He took off before anybody could do or say anything, and everything's kinda festered." Luke was watching Stan carefully. He had become strangely attached to the older man during the course of the day, and was worried about him. He was looking grey again, the false strength leant to him by the contents of an empty bottle that lay nearby, clearly beginning to wear off.

"I wonder if he's really all that ill," Bo said. Luke didn't answer. Instead Daisy smiled sadly up at the old man who had come into their lives so very recently.

"He's ill alright," she said, her voice soft. "He's very good at hiding it, but it still shows. He's a tough old coot, but I don't think he has all that much longer to go. Look at his face. It shouldn't be that colour, even in this light."

"I wonder if he's going to get his peace." Bo's thought might have made them all wonder, but Luke was wondering about something else instead.

"Where's Betsy May?" he asked, but of the woman there was no sign.


The graveyard was quiet and still. It was not hard to find Katy's stone, for most of the people in the yard were arranged by family, and the Garris's were a large group positioned all together, in a shady spot down one side. Betsy May stood looking down at the stone, reading the words over and over. She had wanted to come here for fifty years.

"Katy Garris," she whispered aloud, letting her eyes run across the neatly engraved letters. "Sixteen years old. Rest in peace." She reached out with her hands, touching the name, feeling the stone and its light covering of moss. She closed her eyes. Inside her head she could see Katy; laughing at some joke; dancing to a jazz number playing on the crackling old gramophone in the corner of her living room; bent over the radio, trying to improve the reception for some favourite record. She had had her whole life mapped out before her; marriage to Jesse Duke, four kids - she had even chosen their names - a little house with extra rooms so her nieces and nephews could stay. She was going to work in the local school, or maybe become a nurse. Instead she had wound up in the graveyard under a stone that didn't even begin to do her justice. Betsy May let her hands trail over the letters one last time. She knew that she shouldn't be here. She knew that she should be with Stan. He needed her. He was in trouble, and Jake Garris might just be his undoing. She should be arguing for him, begging for leniency, trying to persuade Jesse and Jake that it wouldn't hurt to make up after all this time. She wondered what Katy would have said, to know that her brother and her boyfriend hadn't spoken since her death; to know that Stan might be about to forfeit his own life in penance for his crime. Katy wouldn't have liked that.

"There's got to be something we can do, Katy." Staring down at the neat hump of grass before the stone, Betsy May frowned in thought. There had to be some way that she could get the three stubborn old mules talking to each other properly. Something like the old days; something like the times when they had all got together, laughed over a jug of moonshine, told old stories round a roaring fire. She smiled.

"That just might be it." The years seemed to fall away from her figure as she straightened up, turning away from the stone. "That just might be it." Increasing her speed as she went, she hurried out of the graveyard and back along the darkening road towards the Garris place. Behind her the last rays of the dying sun fell upon the graveyard and lit up Katy's stone. All alone on the grave, a single, blood red flower captured the last of the light, then bowed its head to the rising moon and curled up its petals before nightfall.


"I don't give a damn about your feelings, Jesse. I don't care how much you loved my sister. It was you was with Pollack that day. It was you was in that truck when it hit Katy. It was you brought her home. I'm not going to listen to you."

"Fine." Turning his back on the other man, Jesse stomped away in disgust. "See if I care. See if I give a damn what you do. You always were a stubborn old fool, Jake Garris, and time hasn't changed you none. I'm happy to leave you to it. You do what you want with that other old fool."

"That's it? You're just going to walk away?" Stan shook his head, frustrated. "I came here to help you, and neither one of you wants it. You like being miserable. You like feeling sorry for yourselves, and thinking about what might have been. I swear, the pair of you, you've enjoyed the last fifty years - never speaking to each other, never forgiving or forgetting. It's like you thrive on it. Well see if I care. You get lost, Jesse Duke, and you let this stupid old man have the revenge he's been thirsting for all this time. You turn your back and walk away, and you spend the rest of your life keeping this feud going. It doesn't bother me any. I'm dying anyway. No matter what Jake here does, I'll be dead within twelve months. I don't have to feel the guilt much longer, I don't have to feel the hate any more." He sat down in the nearest chair. "Luke, pour me a shot of something, would you? I think I need it." He gestured with one hand towards the shadows in the corner, from where Garris had fetched the last bottle of moonshine. No one made a sound as Luke got another, and poured a generous measure into Stan's glass. The old man thanked him with a grateful nod.

"Hazzard County Moonshine," he said, as though tasting a distinguished vintage wine. "1949, if I'm not very much mistaken." There was a silence, before finally Jesse Duke began to smile. It began as a faint twitch in the corners of his mouth, then gradually broke into a full fledged grin. He grabbed the bottle from Luke and took a hearty swig.

"Do you know, I think you're right?"

"Don't talk rubbish you old fool. Moonshine doesn't have years." Jake snatched the bottle from him, taking his own swig before neatly contradicting himself. "And it's more like a fifties vintage anyway. The potato crop failed in 1949 and I didn't get any bottles laid down."

"Well I wasn't here to know that." Pollack finished off his glass, hiding a twinge of pain in the dregs of his drink. Only Luke, standing by his side, noticed. "It's still unmistakably a bottle of finest Garris."

"Not finest. Only my father really had the secret. I went through his papers when he died, but I couldn't find the whole of the recipe written down. A man only passes his recipe on when he knows he's never going to put down another bottle, and my father was expecting to come back from London to brew another day."

"Yeah, I heard about that. I'm sorry." Stan refilled his glass, watching Garris carefully through the shadows of the swinging light bulb. He raised his drink in a salute. "To Frank and Rachel Garris."

Jake raised his own glass. "And the revenge they missed out on," he added. The note of good humour was gone from his voice, and Stan nodded slowly as he answered the toast. Jesse looked from one to another of them.

"That's it?" he asked. "I thought you were supposed to be mending bridges, and burying hatchets. You're just going to carrying on hating him, Jake?"

"Are you telling me you'll ever really forgive him?" There was an open challenge in Garris's voice. Jesse sighed.

"Who am I to forgive anyone?" He sat down in the nearest chair. "Fine. Go ahead and kill him, if you think you can. You've been dreaming about this moment so long you can't even consider any other possibility."

"Such as?" Jake's eyes were hot and furious, and Jesse couldn't think of an answer for them. Instead he heard a woman's voice, coming from the doorway.

"Such as trial by road," Betsy May announced, stepping into the room and taking the bottle of moonshine. She raised it in a toast and downed a long gulp before fixing Jake Garris with a stare guaranteed to unnerve him. "A race, like the one that started all this."

"A race?" Jake laughed. "I haven't raced since 1950, and I'll bet Stan hasn't been above the speed limit since--" He broke off, hesitating before he could finish his sentence. "Since the last time we raced each other."

"So you're out of practice. Big deal." She handed him the bottle and he took it automatically.

"Out of practice, sure," he offered her as reason. "And half drunk." She shrugged.

"You won't be half drunk by sun up. A race, from here to the woods out the other side of town and back. If Stan wins, the three of you shake hands and quit acting like a bunch of school kids. If you win…" She looked across at Stan and he took her hand.

"If you win," he finished for her, "you and me, Jake, will finish what it was we started, before our friends the Dukes decided to come and help me out."

"A race." Garris began to pace up and down the room, glaring at Betsy May, at Stan, at Daisy and Bo sitting on the sofa at the edge of the light bulb's flickering sphere of influence. Finally he nodded. "Sure. A race. Tomorrow morning at six." He glanced around at his guests and gestured about the murky sitting room. "Make yourselves at home. I'll see you in the morning." With that he left them, and the only sound in the room was his booted feet marching up creaking stairs.

"He's gone." Jesse glanced over at Stan, staring at him for a few moments. "I guess there's no point in telling you to leave now while you still have the chance?"

Stan grinned. "Sorry Jesse. I did that once before. Not again."

"Uh huh." Nodding slowly, Jesse Duke stretched out in his chair and tipped his head back. "Then you'd better get some sleep, 'cause you're going to need it." He closed his eyes. Betsy May took Stan's hand and pressed him into a second chair, sitting on the arm beside him.

"Are you really up to this?" she asked him. He gave her hand a squeeze.

"I have to be," he told her, his voice the steadiest and strongest that she had heard it in a long time. "I have to be."


"Somebody ought to go with him." Bo Duke, standing in the yard of the Garris place, stared at the rickety old truck that Stan Pollack was intending to drive in the race. It looked as though it was at least as old as the old man himself, and very likely hadn't been driven since he had last been in Hazzard. Luke nodded.

"You're telling me. I'll bet he hasn't been above thirty since he was our age."

"Did you suggest it?"

"Yep. So did Betsy May and Uncle Jesse. He's determined to go alone."

"Then we'll just have to follow, won't we."

"I was figuring that, yeah." The cousin's grinned at each other. Jake Garris passed them on the way to his pickup; a solid, red machine that carried its obvious years with as much pride as its owner carried his. The old man spared them a glance as he went by.

"You boys wouldn't be thinking of interfering, would you?" he asked. Bo and Luke exchanged a look so innocent that they might have fooled anybody - anybody who didn't come from Hazzard, that was.

"Us, sir?" Bo's eyes were rounder than golf balls. "This ain't our argument."

"And don't you forget it." The proud old man climbed into his truck, carefully turning over the engine. "Who's starting this damn race, anyway?"

"Daisy." Luke's eyes travelled towards his other cousin, who was standing by the main gate of the Garris property. She was on tip toes, a large white handkerchief raised in her right hand. Garris raised an eyebrow. Now that was the kind of race official he liked.

"Are you ready?" the young woman shouted, waving her makeshift flag excitedly. Jesse, still noisily trying to reason with Stan, glared at her. Both of the drivers raised their hands to show their readiness.

"Go!" With a mighty flourish and a bow, Daisy threw the handkerchief into the air. There was a squealing of tyres, a roar of engines, and both trucks gathered speed, heading towards the gate. They reached it at almost exactly the same time, neck and neck as they raced out onto the road beyond. Jesse coughed in the dust cloud thrown up by the wheels.

"Bo! Luke!" He waved to them, pointing towards the General Lee. "Get after those trucks!"

"Yes sir, Uncle Jesse!" With a whoop of their customary zeal, Bo and Luke ran for their car. Bo slid behind the wheel, gunning the engine almost before he was seated. He caught a glimpse of Luke offering Betsy May some platitude or other, then his cousin was running towards the car. Bo spun it towards the gate and Luke met him halfway there, leaping and sliding over the hood as Bo slowed for him. He swung himself in through the open window of the passenger side just as Bo hit the accelerator. With a blast of its distinctive horn the General Lee roared out of the gate and down the road. After a few seconds, the others prepared to follow suit.

They raced down roads that were well off the beaten track. Some had once been the main roads of Hazzard, but all had since been superseded by newer roads. Hazzard County was not a place for wide, tarmac covered highways even in its modern state; but the roads they followed now were little more than dust tracks, beaten out originally by farmers looking to transport loads to market. Only later had the roads become more important to the rest of the inhabitants, when the glories of the trade in illegal alcohol had become clear.

Stan knew the roads well; or had done once. He had raced down them many a time during his youth; usually with a truckload of moonshine crates in the back. It was easier when there was no weight other than his own, but even so he found it hard to keep control of the wheel. He spun it awkwardly, trying not to look at Jake Garris alongside of him. He knew that the other man would not try anything dirty; a race was a race, after all; and only the lowest drivers tried underhand means to win. All the same, Stan was scared. He had come to Hazzard hoping for a chance to talk, but so far the only real chance he had had to speak his mind was in a whisky-fuelled chat with Jesse's nephew in the local watering hole. He had wanted to fix things, and now it seemed as though he was going to have to do that by Garris's rules. A race he could handle; losing he could not. If he lost, Jake Garris would probably kill him. He wondered if Jesse would try to stop him. He didn't want to wonder whether or not Jake had it in him to pull the trigger; or whether he himself would take the sentence well. He didn't want to end up begging for his life at the feet of an old friend.

"Who would you bet on?" Some way behind, Bo and Luke were still on the trail of the racers. Luke braced himself in the passenger seat of the General as they shot over a particularly rough patch of ground. If it felt that hard going in a car as well built and improved-upon as the orange Duke-mobile, it had to be a good deal worse in an ancient truck.

"I don't know." He peered ahead, through the clouds of dust blocking their view. "If Stan wins, it'd solve a lot of problems."

"You reckon old man Garris really wants to kill him?"

"He wants to, yeah. Whether or not he will is a different question." The car rocked again as the race route took a detour through a dried-out riverbed. "Do you have to hit every bump in the road?"

"Yep." Bo spun the wheel, trying to keep the trucks in sight. Stan seemed to be edging ahead. Luke almost felt like holding his breath.

With a roar of an engine which had never been as powerful as it should have been, and the blaring of a horn that the boys knew only too well, a second car burst through the undergrowth off to the right. It veered sharply to the right, wobbled furiously, then finally came back under control. Bo jerked the wheel around to avoid it, muttering under his breath. He caught a brief glimpse of Rosco Coltrane's grimly smiling face through the windshield, then put the General Lee into a mighty skid.

"We've got to keep him away from the race." Slamming his foot down on the accelerator, Bo struggled to keep the car under control. The unique, hand-built engine roared in agreement. Luke nodded. If Rosco interfered, there was no telling what might happen. There would be no persuading Garris to take part for a second time, that was for certain, and both boys had felt moved by Stan Pollack's determination to end the years of hate.

"Take a left here." Luke pointed, and Bo followed his instructions, taking the General down a side road that headed out towards the wider, straighter roads towards the outskirts of town. Behind them the sheriff clung to their tail. The boys could almost imagine his excited chattering to his beloved dog as he plotted his victory. They grinned at each other.

"Take a right here." Again Luke pointed. Bo raised his eyebrows.

"You want to let me in on your plan here, cousin?" His only answer was a grin.

"Just get ready to do your kind of driving." They hit the corner going at almost top speed. Ahead of them stretched the white sweep of a painted fence. Bo grinned a lazy grin.

"I think I'm beginning to see where you're heading." He aimed the car straight at the fence. Beyond, as both boys knew, was a shallow stream, a short stretch of scrub land; and a wide, wide river without a bridge.

"Are you ready?"

Luke grinned, staring at the land ahead rather than at his cousin. He hoped that Bo was looking out front too. "Nope." They both laughed.

They hit the fence hard, sending broken pieces of wood scattering out to the sides and flying into the air. The waters of the stream fountained up around their tyres, spraying both boys with moisture. It was cool and welcome in the heat, but they barely noticed it. Ahead was a slope leading down into the scrub land, and if they timed it right, that ought to be their platform to the road beyond the river.

"Yahoo!" Whether the voice belonged to Bo or Luke would have been impossible to say, but at any rate the shout broke clear of the General Lee as the bright orange car shot into the air and flew on a straight and steady course above the glistening waters of the river. They hit the ground hard, bouncing, skidding and jerking about. Bo brought the car back under control, steering it back onto the road. Behind them they heard a yell, a splutter of a mutinous engine, and a loud splash. They glanced back in time to see Rosco clamber out of the police car, Flash in his arms, and wade back to shore.

"Time to get back to the race I think." Once again all business, Bo hit the accelerator, heading back in the direction that the two old trucks should now be taking. It should be a short trip, he figured, to catch them up.

They reached the race route just a few minutes later. The road seemed strangely still and quiet, but it was not until they had navigated a few more corners that they found the reason why. Jesse's pickup was parked in the middle of the road, Daisy and Betsy May standing beside it. Bo stamped on the brakes, Luke already halfway out of the car before it had stopped. Both boys ran over to the women.

"What's going on?" Bo asked. Daisy gave no verbal answer, but merely pointed.

Up ahead, the road turned sharply, manoeuvring around a steep incline before heading back towards town. Jake Garris's truck was parked just next to the incline, and on the very edge of the drop, barely balancing on the brink, was the distinctive vehicle being driven by Stan Pollack. Jesse and Jake were standing close by, trying to work out how to get to it without causing it to fall.

"Oh no." Luke broke into a run, Bo on his heels. They shouted out to their uncle as they neared him, and he glanced back at them. He opened his mouth to yell at them; some instruction, most likely, to fetch a rope from his truck. His words were drowned out. With a noise as of rendering metal the truck began to tip. Its wheels groaned, one axis catching on something. Jake shouted, but his words, like Jesse's, were lost. Finally, slowly and inevitably, the truck pitched forward. There was a creaking, grinding noise, as of metal unable to keep its grip on rock - then without another sound the vehicle rolled the last few inches and toppled over the edge.

"No!" Jesse tried to run, but his legs did not want to do his bidding, and he found himself barely able to limp. Bo and Luke far outstripped him. They were on their way down the slope, already running towards the upturned truck, when a massive explosion rocked the ground. The truck vanished in a ball of fire and the earth shook beneath their feet. Both boys were hurled to the ground.

"Stan…" Shielding his eyes with a hand, Luke sat up, staring back at the flaming vehicle. He struggled to get up, but as though sensing his thoughts, Bo reached out, putting a hand on his cousin's shoulder.

"There's no point, Luke," he said, and Luke turned to look at him, seeing the myriad flames reflected in all their madly leaping glory in the other man's eyes.

"I know," he said finally, and together the Duke boys climbed to their feet. They were still standing there watching the flames when Jesse and Jake arrived, and they didn't move until the fire had finally died away.


"To Stan." Raising a bottle into the air Jesse Duke toasted the sky, and as he handed over the bottle Jake Garris followed suit. They were standing in the graveyard, beside the stone of Stan's mother. There was no stone yet to mark the position of Stan himself, but that would come in time.

"To Stan." Jake let out a long, lingering sigh as he emptied his glass. "Was I too hard on him Jesse?"

"You know I can't answer that one." Jesse had been wondering much the same thing himself. Stan Pollack had been his best friend for two long, wonderful years during some of the most carefree, enjoyable times of his life. It was frightening to think how easily he had cut the man out of his past, out of his memories. Wordless he turned around, staring towards the small, dappled patch of shade where Katy's grave lay. "I don't think Stan could answer it either."

"Yeah." Very slowly Jake began to wander over to his sister's grave. It was very neat, although he knew that he hadn't been looking after it all this time. He hadn't been to the graveyard since the funeral of his parents. He gestured at the neat grass and the fresh bouquet of flowers. "You?"

"Nope." Jesse shrugged.

"Betsy May then."

"Maybe." Suddenly feeling very old, Jesse reached out a hand to touch the ageing stone of the grave before him. "Jake?"


"We've hated each other longer than we were ever friends."

"A lot longer."

"You think we can ever get back to how we used to be?"

"I don't know. I really don't." Jake grinned at him, a spontaneous grin that brought back memories of long ago days. It cleared the wrinkles from his forehead and made his eyes shine brightly. "We could try going on a fishing trip. See what happens."

"Whether or not we both come back alive you mean?" It was Jesse's turn to grin. "Yeah, I like that idea. I figure the boys and Daisy can look after both our places for a few days, and we can make a real trip out of it. Visit some of the old places."

"See that Betsy May gets home safely."

Jesse nodded. "Yeah."

There was a long pause, then: "Do you feel like a fool, Jess?"

This time Jesse was silent for a lot longer than before. Jake almost began to wonder if the other man had heard the question.

"No, I don't," he said finally. "Lord knows I guess I should do. He was the best friend I had back then. We used to think he was so grown up, coming from Syracuse and all, instead of just some out of the way hick town like this one. I thought I wanted to be just like him." A short laugh escaped him, but there was no trace of bitterness in it. "I can't say if the way we treated him was wrong, Jake, but the way we treated each other sure was. We both loved Katy, and she loved both of us." He sighed. "I guess I wish I'd seen Stan once or twice these last fifty years. I guess I'm sorry I didn't make things up with him when we were all a lot younger. But I didn't, and that's all that matters."

"Yeah." With a deep sigh, Jake turned away from his sister's grave and began to head towards the graveyard gate. Jesse followed him. They had reached the road outside before they looked at each other again, and this time they were both smiling.

"Fifty years," Jake said. Jesse winced.

"Don't. You make me sound old."

"You still making moonshine, Duke?"

"You think I'd give up after all these years?"

"I don't know what you've been doing since you turned father to three kids."

"Well I sure as hell haven't turned teetotal."

Jake nodded. "Alcoholic, huh?"

"Me? Ha. You used to be drinking long after I'd had my last glass." Jesse shook his head, exasperated. "If anybody's the alcoholic you old fool, it's you."

"And in denial too." Jake sighed. "There's no saving your soul, Duke."

"Do you want a broken nose?"

"Not especially." They had reached the main road, leading them back towards the centre of town. Both their homes were a long walk away, and neither man was in any hurry. The sun was shining down, illuminating the ancient trees and the dusty roads around them. Jake nudged his companion, and pointed at something barely visible from their current position.

"See that? That's the tree Bobby Delaney fell out of when he was nine."

"Yeah, I remember. It was me he landed on." Jesse winced at the memory. Bobby Delaney had never been a small boy, even at nine years old. "He died, didn't he?"

"Yep. D-Day Landings." They walked on a few more places. Jesse pointed at something else.

"That's the turning off to the place where we built that camp; the first night we stayed away from home. We were what… six?"

"You were six. I was seven. I was scared witless." Jake laughed. "We tried to cook breakfast, but we ended up setting fire to the spit, and even the cooking fork caught fire. Only thing that didn't burn was the food."

"Not just the food. We couldn't get that shirt your grandmother knitted alight either. The one you kept trying to get rid of."

"Ah hell." Jake groaned, remembering the months of patient plotting it had taken to try to lose the dreadful woollen shirt his grandmother had given to him one Christmas. He had hated it from the beginning. He couldn't remember what had happened to it in the end. Probably he had grown out of it. "I hated that shirt."

"Must be why you went to such lengths to get rid of it, huh."

"Whatever I did in the end must have worked. I don't remember when I last saw it."

"You don't?" Jesse seemed to find that immensely funny. "You don't remember digging that big hole out behind the old school building? We buried it with those infernal reading books Miss Proctor was always handing out."

"Well so we did. I'd forgotten that. We buried them real deep, along with that pipe we stole from my old man. We wanted to try smoking it, but when he found it was missing we were too chicken to put it back in his room. Katy kept watch in the schoolyard while we dug the hole." He shook his head. "Imagine forgetting that."

"I'll bet there's a whole lot we've forgotten."

"Yeah." They shared a long look, enjoying being together again for the first time in so long. Finally Jesse smiled a slow smile. There was still plenty of daylight, and Daisy and the boys wouldn't be expecting him home for a while yet. A thought had just occurred to him.

"You reckon those things are still buried there?"

Jake raised his eyebrows. "Only one way to find out."

"Sure is."

"You game?"

Jesse laughed aloud and clapped his old friend on the back. "Reckon you can make it over the fence?"

"How much is left in that bottle we brought with us?"

Jesse checked. "I reckon it's more than half full."

"Then yeah, I can make it over the fence." They laughed. It felt good to share each other's enjoyment; to be in each other's company again, and to be embarking on a wander through the past. It felt as though, just maybe, there might be a chance of reclaiming a little of what they had lost. Fifty years couldn't be regained, but other things could.

Arm in arm, the bottle open, they took the road towards the old schoolhouse, wandering past trees and pathways with more history than either of them could lay claim to. Birds sang in the air above them, children were shouting in the distance, and a hundred and one dogs were barking at each other in the lazy heat. There were other noises too; the noises of Hazzard. A police siren; the distant, musical horn of the General Lee. The roar of a car engine that didn't quite cover the gleeful shout of either Bo or Luke - probably both. And somewhere, floating in from fifty years worth of memories, the satisfied laugh of Stan Pollack.

Or it might just have been the wind.