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RogerDuke

The Hazzard Hermit

15 posts in this topic

For the past week Jesse had made sure he was in the barn when the mail was delivered. Today was no exception as he tightened up the last bolt of the rebuilt starter starter he had just installed on the tractor. From a distance he could hear the revving of Miz Emma Tisdale's two stroke dirt bike and he got excited and walked briskly to the mailbox. Moments later she slammed on her brakes in front of him creating a dust cloud that made him lightly cough.

"Emma, yer gonna git killed on this thing some day."

She took off her helmet and smiled, "Well, if you'll take me to the barn dance on Saturday night I reckon I'll die happy."

He  shook his head no. "Now Emma I ain't got time fer no barn dance 'er any other kinda dance fer that matter. Now I just need my mail."

"Now don't get all bent out of shape you old ridge runner, Jesse Duke" She reached in her pouch and pulled out three envelopes and handed them to him. "What in the world is it you're waiting for? You've been out here every day lately just a waiting on me."

Jesse flipped through the envelopes and looked disappointed "Dag nabit. It ain't here again. It's a week late now."

Emma remarked, "Well, I think I might know what it is you're looking for and I'll be a keeping an eye out for you." She slipped the helmet back on, popped the clutch and road a wheelie, throwing dust in Jesse's face as she rode off.

Jesse coughed again then said to himself "Now how could it be that Emma knows what it is I'm a waiting fer? "

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"Uncle Jesse? Was that the mail?" A young female voice called from behind Jesse and he turned to see his niece Daisy walking towards him from the house.

Looking at her made him smile, and feel a little sad at the same time. She was a beautiful young woman, and so much like her aunt, his late wife... Jesse shook his head and handed over the letters. "Mostly bills again, I'm afraid."

"Well, whatever you're waiting for, I'm sure it'll turn up soon!" A quick hug and she turned back towards the house. Adding with a teasing smile "I've just taken an apple pie out of the oven, if you want to try it and see how it came out."

Jesse smiled in his turn. He never could keep anything from his family. Fresh apple pie, though... he forgot his disappointment and headed inside behind his niece.

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Jesse sat down and took a bite of pie but set his fork down quickly. 

He spoke firmly. "Daisy, there's something I need to say and before I do I don't want you asking any questions when I'm finished." 

He paused a moment to let Daisy soak it in. "I think I'm going to take a little trip tomorrow. Now I'll likely be gone the whole day and I'm gonna be out of CB range and I don't want you or the boys worrying or asking any questions. What I'm doing is my business and doesn't affect you kids in any way. And don't you worry none. I ain't in no trouble or anything. I just need to check on an old friend who might be in trouble. Its just that simple"

He paused but Daisy wasn't reacting, doing just as he instructed. Jesse continued "Well, it ain't quite that simple. Nothing around Hazzard is ever simple."

He stood up, stepped away from the pie he had only taken a bite of and walked back out to the barn

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Daisy watched him go, a sad look in her eyes, before she wrapped the almost untouched dessert and put it away in the refrigerator. She wished her cousins were here, but Bo and Luke were off visiting friends and she wasn't sure when they'd be back. For the time being she was on her own.

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Jesse sat in the barn for awhile thankful Daisy hadn't followed him to pry information from him. He has a lot of thinking to do. Should he make the trip tomorrow or tell the kids what was going on and how many people it could hurt. He made a promise to an old friend to keep this a secret. Breaking a promise was something he didn't want to do. On the other hand if he had to go looking for his old friend that wouldn't be easy either. In the end he determined he had to keep his word and make the dangerous trip tomorrow to see if his old friend was okay and if so, ask why he didn't send the envelope. He took a pencil and paper out of his overalls pocket and started a list of what he'd need for the trip.

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A little while later Daisy followed her Uncle out to the barn. "Uncle Jesse. I'm making a shopping list. Is there anything you need to add? I can go in before work, and I can do it then.

Jesse looked up at his niece, from his seat on the hay bale. "No, thankyou, sweetheart. Not at the moment. I think I've got everything I need, right now."

"Okay, Uncle Jesse." She watched her uncle for a second, as he went back to whatever he was writing, before turning away herself and heading back inside. Daisy didnt want to pry, but it still upset her that her Uncle was hurting and there didn't seem to be anything she could do to help. She finished off her list and let Jesse know that she was leaving, then took Dixie into town.

.........................................

After finishing her shopping and stowing it all in the jeep, Daisy walked around to get in the driver's side. Not really paying attention to any oncoming traffic. The sound of a horn and screeching brakes roused her out of her thoughts. "Look out, girl!"

Looking up, Daisy realised the postmistress' bike had pulled to a stop only inches away from her.

"Oh, goodness, I'm sorry, Miz Tisdale. I was thinking about something else, and I wasn't looking where I was going."

"Well, you need to be more careful! What would Jesse say if I ran you over, hmmm?" Looking at the younger woman's face, she relented. "It's alright, Daisy. Nobody got hurt. You took a few more years off my life, but that's all." It was meant as a joke, but Daisy barely smiled.

"I'm sorry, Miz Tisdale. Im just worried about Uncle Jesse."

The postmistress looked at her searchingly, immediately concerned.. "Jesse? What's with him? He was fine when I was out at your place this morning."

"There's been something on his mind all week." Daisy confessed. "I don't know what it is, but it can't be good. He's usually one of the sweetest people alive, you know that, but well, the last few days, he's been..." She paused, not wanting to say anything bad about her beloved Uncle, but at the same time wanting the older woman's advice. "He's been almost bad-tempered. He even snapped at Luke last night. I mean he apologised, but..."

"Oh, Miz Tisdale, what do I do?"

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Miz Tisdale continued.

"I probably shouldn't say this since it's against regulations and all but I just love your uncle so much maybe I can help out a little. Every year now, right about this time your uncle gets an envelope about an inch thick. I don't know what it is but the return address  is a feller I ain't never heard of from Capitol City. This year that delivery is about a week late. Poor old Jesse is just worried sick about it. Now he doesn't realize that I remember he gets that mysterious delivery on an annual basis  but I got a memory like a steel trap when it comes to anything that has anything to do with that handsome hunk of an uncle of yours. So if you know what that yearly delivery could be you might know what it is that's been getting him down."

Daisy thought for a moment but had no clue what it could be. She shook her head no in disappointment.

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"It does explain, though..." she said thoughtfully.

"Explain what?" Emma Tisdale wasn't one to let anything go when it came to her beloved Jesse Duke. Any detail, no matter how small, was grist to her mill.

"Uncle Jesse said he was going away for a bit. Tomorrow. He didn't want any questions asked. Just that he had to check on an old friend, who might be in trouble. He said he'd be out of reach, but he didn't want us worrying about him, and that he should be back by supper." She looked at the older woman. 'Do you think there's something seriously wrong, Ms Tisdale? I mean, if he doesn't even want to talk about it with me or the boys?"

"Oh, I doubt it, Daisy." She tried to reassure the girl. " Probably just some old coot who's lost track of the days and forgotten it's time send Jesse his letter. You know what Jesse's like. He's got a heart as big as all Hazzard, and if he thinks there's something wrong, or that someone needs help, then he'll be the first one there. Friend or stranger."

" 'A stranger is only a friend you haven't met yet' " Daisy quoted one of her uncle's favorite sayings. Smiling slightly at the thought. "Thankyou, Ms Tisdale!" Bending down, she awkwardly hugged the older woman. "I'm sure you're right, and that everything will  be fine!"

Nevertheless, she wasn't looking forward to the next day or so. She wished her cousins would come home, soon.

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"This is Shepherd to Bo Peep, Shepherd to Bo Peep, do ya copy? " blared on the CB.

Daisy's voice was full of energy as always. "This is Bo Peep. I gotta copy on ya Shepherd."

"I was just looking around the farm and I see we're gittin' low on matches. Ya better pick some up in town."

"Watcha need those for Shepherd?"

"Well, ya never can tell. When I'm on this trip I just might end up in some unexpected trouble and hafta camp out or somethin'. A feller can't be too safe ya know."

Edited by RogerDuke

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  "Ok, Uncle Jesse. I'll do that." Daisy momentarily forgot about the 'handles' usually used over the air. She didn't bother telling her uncle that she had already bought them, along with some extra batteries for the flashlights they kept both in the house and the barn, having noticed Jesse packing what they had, in a bag, earlier on.

  "Was there anything else?"

  "No, that's all. I'll see you when you get home. Shepherd Out."

  "Bo Peep Out." Daisy continued on to work, and tried to put her worries to the back of her mind, at least until the end of her shift.

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The day wore on. Jesse had packed everything he needed for his trip. Being alone often put him in a thoughtful mood. He sat on the steps throwing crushed corn to the chickens who were scattering around his feet. He gently brushed a big rooster aside with his work boot. "Now you behave yourself Rodney. Stop being such a bully and share with the hens."

The patriarch sighed and spoke softly to himself. "I reckon I'm a gittin' too old fer stuff like this but when an old ridge runnin' friend from 50 years ago might be in trouble I ain't got much choice. I just gotta go. I just can't figure out how I'm gonna explain it to these kids. I did keep my word to him that I'd never say what was going on."

Then the old timer's face lit up. "Ha! I got an idea. I reckon I'll need more pencil and paper."

He got up, went inside wrote a note, sealed it tight in a secure envelope and set in on his dresser in his bedroom and waited for his nephews to come home.

 

Edited by RogerDuke

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  Well, as luck would have it, the boys stayed overnight with their friends, and didn't come back until the very next day.

  They were full of high spirits as the General Lee pulled into the yard in front of the farmhouse, both boys hopping out almost before they'd stopped properly. It'd been nice seeing their friends again, but they were both glad to be home.

  Daisy came out to meet them, submitting to their hugs - Bo almost lifting his cousin off the ground - and doing her best to smile and look like she was glad to see them, too. Which she was, but she was still worried about Jesse, and unfortunately, it showed.

  "Hey, Daisy, what's wrong?" Luke was the first to notice.

  "Aren't you glad to see us?" Bo pouted, trying to make his cousin smile.

  "Of course I am, Bo! I've missed you both!" The young woman hugged her cousin a second time. "I'm just worried about Uncle Jesse, that's all." she confessed, sobering.

  "Uncle Jesse? Is something wrong? / Is he sick?" the two men's voices overlapped, their smiles falling away, and being replaced with concern.

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Jesse walked outside carrying an overstuffed backpack. He smiled when he saw the boys. "There ya are. I was hoping I'd see you before I left."

Luke immediately responded. 'Where ya going Uncle Jesse?"

Jesse threw the backpack in the back of his truck and turned around. Now don't go gittin all out of shape but I got somethin' I hafta do and I just ain't able to talk about it."

The three of them just looked at him in silence. Jesse continued "Well, I just gotta give you kids a hug and then I gotta git rolling."

After hugging all three he got in the truck. His left foot on the ground and left hand on the wide open door he looked at all three of them. "Now I'm sure everything will be just fine but if I'm not back fer some reason there's a sealed envelope on my dresser. If ya haven't heard from me in two days, come Saturday morning open it and follow the simple instructions." 

He lifted his foot inside then slammed the door. The window was open. "Now I'm a big boy and I can take care of myself. If I see an orange car or white Jeep in my rear view mirror I'm sure you know I ain't gonna be tolerating ya sticking yer nose in my business.

He started the truck, stuck it in gear and started to slowly lurch forward. "And another thing. I love you kids." Seconds later he was a hundred feet down the road.

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  All three of the younger Dukes watched him go. A little upset that their Uncle wouldn't tell them what was going on - their family didn't usually keep secrets from each other - but knowing that he would have told them if he could.

  Luke finally broke the silence. "Well, I don't know about you two, but I could do with some coffee. That was a long drive, and we started early."

  "Yeah, and maybe something to eat, too. I've missed your cooking, Daisy!" Bo slid an arm around his cousin and watched her smile back at him.

  "I've got some apple pie that I made just yesterday."

  "Sounds good to me!"

  "Me, too. Come on, Bo. The quicker we wash up, the quicker we get that pie!" Both of them made their way inside, pushing each other in their haste. 

  Daisy couldn't help but laugh a little at the way her cousins - two grown men - reverted to little boys when faced with something as simple as pie. Following them inside, her smile dimmed slightly as she thought about her Uncle and just hoped that everything would be ok.

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A half hour later Jesse had arrived at his destination on the southwest corner of Hazzard Swamp. He parked his truck off the road far enough that it wasn't visible. Rain was forecast so he rolled the windows up. The old-timer got out, grabbed the backpack and put it on. He sighed, took two steps then noticed his boot was untied. He grumbled then stooped down, tied it and was on his way heading north on a well worn trail that bordered the swamp.

An hour later he noticed a massive oak tree, by far the largest tree he had seen on the trek. He then turned off the trail and made a left and traveled west through the thick woods for an hour, stopping often to orient himself and rest as well. He then arrived at his destination, an old run down shack two miles from the nearest road in any direction.

He wasted no time knocking on the door while yelling. "Amos! Amos, are you in there? This is Jesse Duke here!"

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