Author's Note: This one is for Sandy's Birthday. Thank you for your friendship, your support, your awesome reviews, your highly entertaining stories, and for the DVD too. This story takes place pre-series. Luke is 17, Daisy is 15, and Bo is 12.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and I am not making any money from these stories.
Warning: Non consensual disciplinary spanking of a pre-teen by a parental figure. Non consensual disciplinary spanking of teens by a parental figure.

Luke's Birthday

Luke woke up with the rooster crowing as usual. He threw back the covers and sat up, rubbing at his eyes for a second and stretching. He yawned and then stood up. He walked over to Bo's bed and gave his shoulder a shake. He said, "Rise and shine Cousin."

Bo groaned and pulled the covers over his head. Luke smiled and went to use the bathroom while Bo slept for a few more minutes. As soon as Luke was dressed and ready for the day he went back to Bo's bed and shook him again. He said, "Time to get up."

Bo curled into a ball holding the blankets around him. Luke sighed and yanked the covers off and said, "Come on Bo. Up."

Bo kept his eyes closed and tried to find his covers with his hands. When he wasn't able to, he cracked open an eye and looked up at Luke. He said, "Five more minutes?"

"Nope. Uncle Jessie's probably already out there."

Bo sighed and sat up himself. Luke said, "I'm goin' out. If you're not out in five minutes I'm sendin' Uncle Jessie after you."

Bo just gave him a glare and stood up. Luke walked out and on his way outside he knocked on Daisy's door, knowing that would be all she would need to get up. He found his uncle out milking the goats and said, "Mornin'."


Luke started feeding the chickens, and soon Bo was out helping too. By the time the sun was up, they were done with their chores, and headed in to breakfast. Daisy was in her bathrobe cooking. She said, "Breakfast will be done by the time you wash up."

Soon they were all sitting around the table and Uncle Jessie said grace. Once they were eating Uncle Jessie turned to Luke and said, "It's gonna be your birthday next week, is there anything special you'd like for dinner?"

Luke smiled and said, "Chicken and dumplings?"

Uncle Jessie nodded and said, "I think we can do that. Did you want to invite Cooter over too?"

"That'd be real nice Uncle Jessie."

Daisy said, "I got a new recipe for German Chocolate cake from Betty yesterday, and I thought I'd make that for you."

Luke smiled at her and said, "Sounds wonderful."

Bo said, "It doesn't seem fair that you're gonna be an adult now, and I'm not even a teenager yet."

Jessie smiled and said, "Don't be so quick to grow up Bo, enjoy bein' a young'un."

Bo shrugged not really liking that statement.

Jessie said, "Anywayz, turnin' eighteen don't make you a man. Luke here still has plenty of growin' to do."

Luke lost his smile and looked down at his plate to concentrate on eating, not wanting to let his uncle know how much that statement had hurt him. A few minutes later Daisy was finished eating and got up. "I'm gonna take a shower and get ready for school."

Jessie nodded. As soon as the guys were done eating they all worked together to wash the dishes. Once that was done, Luke and Bo gathered up their stuff to take to school. When they were ready and waiting for Daisy, Jessie said to Luke, "I'm gonna be running some 'shine up to Cleaver county today. I should be home before you young'uns get home, but if I'm not here, just start your chores like usual."

Luke gave him an absent minded, "Yes Sir."

When Daisy was ready, they all loaded up in Luke's pride and joy, the General Lee, and he drove them to school. He dropped Bo off at the junior high before taking himself and Daisy to the high school.

Cooter and Luke were in homeroom together, and as soon as Cooter saw Luke he said, "What's got you down Lucas?"

Luke shrugged as he sat in the desk next to Cooter's. "Just somethin' Uncle Jessie said this mornin'."

"What'd he say?"

"That bein' eighteen don't make you a man."

Cooter said, "Well I turned eighteen a few weeks ago, and nothin' much changed for me."

Luke nodded and said, "Yeah, I know it ain't that. It's that…. Oh never mind."

The bell rang before Cooter could ask anymore. Luke had trouble concentrating in class that morning, because he kept thinking about what Jessie had said. Luke thought he had done everything possible over the past year to show his Uncle that he was a responsible person. He didn't think being eighteen made someone an adult, but he did think a person's behavior made someone an adult, and he was really hurt that his Uncle seemed to think he had so much more growing to do before he could be considered a man.

Over the past year, Luke hadn't gotten into any trouble at home or at school. He had saved up and bought his own car. He had helped his uncle as much as possible on the farm, and he had kept up with his schoolwork. He had even kept Bo out of trouble a few times. He just couldn't understand why his uncle didn't translate those things into Luke becoming an adult.

He was so busy with his own thoughts he almost missed the announcements, but one of them caught his attention. The loud speaker called out; "Tomorrow we will be having a visitor coming all the way from Atlanta City. Gunnery Sergeant Gerald Baker is a recruiter, and will be here in our office all day to speak to those seniors who are interested in joining the military. If you are interested in having a meeting with Sergeant Baker, please submit your name to your home room teacher, and we will set up an appointment for you."

Luke immediately got out a piece of paper and put his name on it, and a note saying he was interested in meeting with Sergeant Baker. Cooter saw what Luke was doing and whispered, "What are you doin' Luke?"

Luke whispered back, "Puttin' my name in."


Luke looked over at Cooter and said, "Because I'm interested."

Cooter gave him a look that seemed to imply Luke wasn't quite right in the head. Luke ignored him and passed the note up to the front of the class when the teacher asked for them.

As soon as class was over Cooter stopped Luke before he could go to his next class. Cooter said, "You're just jokin' right? I mean you just want to get out of class for a while. You don't really want to sign up do you?"

Luke gave Cooter a steady look and said, "The more I think about it, the more I want to sign up."

Cooter didn't know what to say, and just stood there looking confused. Luke turned and went to his next class.

At lunch that day Cooter found Daisy before he went to sit with Luke at their normal table. He found her in line, and stood next to her. He said, "Hey Daisy."

She smiled and said, "Hey Cooter. How ya doin' today?"

"Well that depends."

"On what?"

"Did you ever hear Lucas say he wanted to go into the military?"

Daisy laughed a little, and when Cooter didn't laugh with her she said seriously, "No. Why do you ask?"

"Cause he signed up to talk with that recruiter."

Daisy just stood there for a few seconds until the kid behind her said, "Are you in line or what?"

Daisy realized the line had moved but she hadn't. She walked forward to catch up and then looked at Cooter and said, "I can't believe it. He's never said one word about it before."

Cooter nodded and said, "Then it's probably nothin' serious. He just want's an excuse to get out of class. See you later Daisy."

Cooter walked off to find Luke and left Daisy to ponder this new information. At lunch Cooter kept the conversation on cars, and left the recruiter out of it. He knew Luke well enough to know if pushed he would just get more stubborn and determined about it.

After school Daisy waited for Luke by his car. He smiled at her and said, "How was your day darlin'?"

"Just fine how was yours?"


They both got in, and as they headed to pick up Bo, Daisy said, "So what do you think of that recruiter comin' here all the way from Atlanta?"

Luke darted a look over at her to see if she knew anything, or if she was just asking. She looked casual and was looking at him with normal curiosity. He looked back at the road and said, "Didn't think much of it one way or another."

Daisy frowned but then changed the subject and started talking about an assignment her English teacher had given her. Luke was glad she seemed to believe him about the recruiting officer. It wasn't that he wanted to keep it a secret forever, he just wanted to be able to go talk to the guy without having a bunch of preconceived notions from his family.

The next day as soon as Daisy got to school she went to the front desk. She asked the secretary, "Hi Mrs. Plumb. Could you tell me when my brother Luke has his appointment with the recruiter today?"

"Sure honey, let's see here… it's at two thirty."


As she turned to leave she almost bumped into a man in uniform. He said, "Excuse me Miss."

She knew this had to be Sergeant Baker. He was older with brown hair that was just starting to turn gray, and he was wearing a uniform. Daisy said, "No, sorry, it was my fault."

She walked around him, and thought he looked shady. But she realized that probably had more to do with her feelings about what he was doing there, then it did with the man himself.

Daisy went to class and wondered if Luke was really serious about it. Daisy had been thinking about it most of last night. She didn't want Luke to leave. She had always thought that he would stick around at least until Bo was done with high school too to help their Uncle with the farm and the moonshine. She worried over it for the rest of the day.

Luke was pretty excited to meet with the recruiter, and it seemed like two thirty would never get there. When it finally did he went to the office. He saw that the recruiter had taken over the principal's office for the day, and was sent in to see him. Sergeant Baker closed the door so they could have some privacy.

Luke smiled and stuck out his hand to shake. Sergeant Baker took his hand and gave it a firm shake as he said, "Hello are you Mr. Duke?"

Luke nodded and said, "Yes sir."

"I'm Gunnery Sergeant Baker, but you can call me Gunny or Sir."

As he was talking Sergeant Baker indicated which chair Luke should sit in, and then sat down himself as soon as Luke was seated. Sergeant Baker said, "So why are you interested in joining the military Mr. Duke?"

"Well I've never really been out of Hazzard my whole life, and I want to go out and see the world. I also need the money to help my Uncle with the farm. My father served in the Army, but I've always been more interested in the Marines. I think I could learn valuable skills that will help me throughout the rest of my life, and at the same time I'll be able to serve my country."

Sergeant Baker nodded and said, "Sounds like you've given this quite a bit of thought."

"Yes sir I have."

Sergeant Baker looked down at Luke's personnel file and said, "It says here you're going to be eighteen next week."

"Yes sir."

"You can't sign up without a parent or guardian's consent until you turn eighteen, and I'm going to be gone by then. I'm going to be here for the next three days though, so after we talk and you take some tests, if you want, you can have your parents come in and sign a consent form for you and I'll sign you up on my last day here. Or if that doesn't work, you can come on over to Atlanta anytime after you turn eighteen and visit our recruiting office there."

Luke thought about it and wondered what Uncle Jessie would have to say about it. He nodded and said, "Okay."

Sergeant Baker handed Luke some forms and said, "Go ahead and fill these out now with your basic information, and then I'll set up an appointment for you after school tomorrow to take some placement tests."

Sergeant Baker also handed over two colorful brochures about the Marine Core. He said, "Those are yours to keep. You read them tonight, and then ask me any questions you have about it tomorrow. After you fill out your information, I'll look it over, and then we can talk a bit more."

Luke nodded and started filling out the sheet of paper with his personal information. It was two pages long, and as he was filling it out he was surprised at how in-depth it was. He had to give some thought to answer the question of what his parents did for work. Uncle Jessie ran moonshine, but he couldn't exactly say that, so he put down 'farming' which wasn't exactly a lie. Then when the question was how much money do your parents make a year on average, Luke thought he would have to under estimate to make sure he didn't include the moonshine money. Luke looked up to ask if he needed to fill this question out, and saw the Sergeant was looking through the student personnel files.

Luke cleared his throat, and Sergeant Baker looked over at him and said, "Yes?"

Luke said, "I'm not sure how much my guardian makes a year."

"Well what does he do for a living?"

"He's a farmer."

Sergeant Baker looked back at the files and said, "Then it's not important. You can skip that question and go to the next."

Luke nodded and continued to fill out the form. Once he was done, Sergeant Baker looked it over, and then said, "This all looks just fine. Can you be here for testing tomorrow after school along with some of your classmates?"

"Yes sir."

"Very good. Okay, let's talk about what you might like to do in the Marine Core."

Luke spent the next half an hour hearing about the various things he could do in the Marine Core, and about Boot Camp and how the system worked. When he was done he went to the end of his last class, and had enough time to get his homework assignment before the bell rang.

He went to find Cooter before he left for home. He found him at his car. He said, "Hey Cooter?"

Cooter turned to see Luke. He smiled and said, "Yeah Luke?"

"Could you drive Daisy and Bo home for me tomorrow?"

"Sure, but why?"

"I'm stayin' late to do a test."

"What test?"

"A placement test that the recruiter is givin'."

Cooter frowned and said, "You mean you're really serious about that?"

Luke nodded and said, "I am."

"What's you're uncle Jessie think about that?"

"He doesn't know yet, and I'd really like you to keep it quite like until I'm done with the tests. I'd just like to see what they have to say first before he gets to put in his two cents."

Cooter nodded. "Sure thing Lucas. I mean if it's really what you wanna do, then I'll support ya."

Luke gave him a smile and said, "Thanks Cooter. I knew I could count on you."

Luke walked over to his own car and met Daisy there as usual. He gave her a smile. She said, "How was your day Luke?"

"Just fine, how about yours?" Luke got into the General Lee.

"Fine. Did anything interesting happen to you…. Anything out of the ordinary?"

Luke looked over at Daisy who was now in the car too and said, "What do you mean?"

Daisy looked at him and said, "You went to see that recruiter didn't you?"

Luke was surprised she knew, and irritated about it as well. He turned back to look out the windshield and held onto the steering wheel even though they weren't driving yet. He said, "So what if I did. That ain't none of your business Daisy Mae."

"Don't you 'Daisy Mae' me Lucas. It is my business, and it's Uncle Jessie's business too."

Luke looked over at her with anger and said, "You're wrong. It's MY business, and if you tell Uncle Jessie, I'm gonna tell him you was out by the bleachers kissin' on that senior Tommy Johnson."

Daisy gasped and said, "You wouldn't!"

"Oh yes I would, and you know as well as I do Uncle Jessie said you couldn't date 'tell you were sixteen which is still half a year away. What do you suppose he'll have to say about that?"

Daisy crossed her arms looked to the front and said, "I ain't speakin' to you no more today Luke."

"Well that's just fine by me as long as you don't go runnin' off at the mouth to Uncle Jessie."

Daisy said nothing, and Luke started up the car. They picked up Bo who gave them both a happy smile and a 'howdy'. As soon as he got in the car he could tell something was wrong, and that both his cousins were upset. He looked back and forth between them and said, "What's wrong?"

Daisy gave him a curt, "Nothin'."

Bo looked over at Luke who gave him a small smile and said, "How was your day Bo?"

Bo seemed unsure at first, but soon was talking about his day, oblivious to the fact that neither of his cousins was really listening to him. Soon they were home, and they all got busy with chores, and homework. Jessie was home in time to make dinner, and soon they were all sitting around eating. Jessie asked how everyone's day was, and he could immediately tell that something was wrong between Daisy and Luke. He said, "Okay kids, tell me what's goin' on."

Bo looked surprised and said, "I ain't done nothin' Uncle Jessie. I swear."

Jessie gave him a fond smile and said, "Not you Bo."

He turned to Luke and said, "Well boy?"

Luke said, "Daisy and I disagree about somethin', but we'll get over it soon enough."

Jessie turned to Daisy who was glaring at Luke. He said, "Daisy?"

She turned to him and said with regret, "It's nothin' Uncle Jessie. Just dumb kids stuff."

Jessie made an unconvinced sound and then continued eating. It was an unusually silent meal at the Duke farm that night. Once dinner was over, and things were cleaned up, they all sat to watch a little TV before bed. At nine thirty Jessie turned to Bo and said, "Bedtime Bo."

Bo frowned and said; "Can't I please stay up 'till ten like Luke and Daisy?"

Jessie turned to Luke and said, "How many times did you have to wake him up this morning?"


Jessie turned back to a glaring Bo and said, "Sorry little one. Bed."

Bo gave a not very pleasant, "Yes sir."

Jessie stopped him from standing with a hand on his wrist. He said with warning, "Try that one again Bo."

Bo dropped his gaze and said, "I'm sorry Uncle Jessie."

Jessie said, "I don't make you go to bed early to be mean, I do it because you still need the sleep."

Bo nodded and said a sincere, "Yes sir."

Jessie pulled Bo into a hug and said, "I'll see you in the morning."

Bo hugged him back and then went to get ready for bed. Jessie sat back on the couch and tried to count up how many times they had had the same argument, but soon decided it was too many to count. Fifteen minutes later he looked over and noticed that Luke and Daisy were glaring at each other again. He turned off the TV and said, "All right you two, let's have it."

Daisy couldn't keep it to herself anymore even if Luke did tell on her for the kissing. She blurted out, "Luke went to see a military recruiter in school today!"

Jessie looked over at Luke and said, "Is that true Luke?"

Luke glared at Daisy, who refused to look at him. Luke said, "Yes sir."

"But you still got six more months of high school Luke. You're gonna be the first Duke to graduate and I aim to make sure that happens. You ain't gonna mess it up by joinin the army at seventeen. After you graduate then we can talk about it."

"First off Uncle Jessie, I want to join the Marines not the Army, and second I still plan on finishing out high school first, and third…"

Jessie waited a second and then said, "Well spill it boy."

Luke had almost said it was too late because he had already made up his mind, but he had a flash of temper at the word 'boy', and instead said, "And third maybe I want more for myself then livin' dirt poor and runnin' 'shine all over the county!"

Luke heard Daisy gasp, and as he looked at his Uncle he could see the hurt in his eyes. Luke's temper went away as quickly as it had come. He looked down at the floor and said quietly, "I'm sorry Uncle Jessie, but I've made up my mind about this. Next week when I turn eighteen…. it's what I'm doin'."

Daisy put her hand over her mouth and started to cry as she ran to her room. Luke stood up and called after her, "Don't cry Daisy…."

He looked at his Uncle who was looking kind of pale and sick. Luke said with optimism, "It's gonna be real good for all of us Uncle Jessie. I'm gonna be makin' good money, and I'll send home everything I don't need for livin' expenses. I can get out and see some of the world, and ya'll can work a little less with my money comin' in. Heck, Daisy's real smart, maybe I'll make enough that Daisy can be the first Duke to go to college. And I'm gonna finish high school before going to boot camp. Please try to understand Uncle…. I….. It's….. Well, it's something I'm gonna do."

Jessie took a good look at Luke. He had raised him as his own since Luke was three, and he loved him like a son. It was hard to see him as anything but a boy because he had been a boy under Jessie's care for the past fourteen years. But now when Jessie took a good look he could see the beginnings of the man Luke would become. Jessie slowly nodded and said, "There is plenty of fine men in the military, and it's a noble career son. I just don't think you're ready for it yet. Why not wait a year? Just two months ago you thought you wanted to open a garage with Cooter and fix cars for a livin'. If you still want to do it in a year, then I'll even go with you to sign up."

Luke went to sit at the kitchen table, and Jessie got up and followed him to sit at the table also. Luke said, "Uncle Jessie, this isn't somethin' I just thought of. I've been thinkin' on it for over a year now. You told me my Daddy was in the Army when he was young, and that it was the best thing he ever did, and that it made him the man he was. A man my Mom could love. You've always taught us to respect people in the military, and every Veterans Day we say a prayer for those that lost their lives in wars. So I kind of thought you would be okay with me joinin' up." Luke didn't say it but he thought, 'I even thought you'd be proud.'

Jessie put his hand over Luke's on the table and said, "All those things are true Luke…. It just comes as a bit of a shock to me is all. Why didn't you ever tell me you was thinkin' about this?"

Luke shrugged and said, "I'm not sure."

Jessie patted Luke's hand once and said, "Let me sleep on it tonight Luke, and then we'll talk some more tomorrow."

"Yes sir."

Jessie stood up and planted a kiss on the top of Luke's head and then patted him as if he were a small child. He muttered to himself as he went to his room, "I got some prayin' to do tonight."

Luke sat and stared at the kitchen table for a while wondering if he was making the right choice. Then he heard a noise in the hall. He turned to see Bo standing in the hallway with tears in his eyes. Luke frowned and said, "What's wrong, did you have a nightmare?"

Bo shook his head and walked a little closer to the table. He said quietly, "Say it ain't true Luke. Say you ain't leavin'."

Luke couldn't stand to see his little cousin cry. And he hated that Bo found out the way he did. Luke was upset with the situation and blurted out the first thing that came to his mind, "What did Uncle Jessie tell you about eves dropping?"

Bo shook his head, "I don't care. Tell me you ain't leavin'."

Luke stood up and walked over to Bo. He put a hand on Bo's shoulder and said, "I'm sorry Bo, but I am."

Bo shook his head and more tears fell. He turned and ran back to the room they both shared. Luke took a big sigh and went to sit at the kitchen table alone. The whole thing had gone over worse then he had expected. He stood up and got the brochures out of his backpack and started looking them over. Half an hour later he got up and went to bed. He checked on Bo who was asleep.

The next morning things were normal until breakfast. As soon as Luke had said grace, he turned to his Uncle and said, "I'm gonna be late tonight. Cooter is gonna give Bo and Daisy a ride home."

Jessie said, "What are you doin'?"

Luke had originally planned to say he was taking a career placement test, but since everyone already knew about the recruiter he said, "I'm taking a placement test for the Marines."

The room was silent for a few minutes. Then Jessie said, "When do you get the results?"

"I'm not sure."

Jessie nodded and said, "You be sure to ask the recruiter that today."

"Yes sir."

Daisy said with pent up anger, "You're not gonna let him take the test are you Uncle Jessie?!"

Jessie looked over at her, and cupped her face with his hand. He said, "Ain't no harm in taking a test child. That doesn't sign him up, it just gives him some information on where he might get assigned."

Bo turned to Daisy and said, "Who cares! He wants to leave us so bad, who needs him? We'll do just fine without him!"

Jessie said, "Now Bo, don't go sayin' things you don't mean. We all know you care, we all care."

Bo shook his head, stood up in a huff, and tossed his napkin on the table as he said, "I don't care! In fact I think it will be great to have him gone!"

Bo turned to walk off but Jessie raised his voice and said, "Bo!"

Bo turned back around, and Jessie pointed to Bo's chair. "Sit back down right this minute."

Bo gave a reluctant, "Yes sir." And sat.

Jessie said, "Now all of you listen up cause if I have to go over this again I'm gonna get riled up about it. We are all blood kin. I've raised you young'uns since you was all little, and I love you all like my own. I also know for a fact that you all love each other. No matter how this situation gets resolved, we are all still a family, and I won't have you fighting together or tryin' to hurt each other over this. Now Bo you apologize to Luke right now, because I know you didn't mean what you said."

Bo felt like crying again after hearing his Uncle talk. He looked down at his plate and said quietly, "I'm sorry Luke."

Luke nodded and said, "I'm sorry too."

Bo looked over at him and said, "What are you sorry for?"

"For making you sad."

Bo just looked back at his plate. Jessie said, "Good. Now I expect you all to be civil to each other today, and we'll all sit down and talk like a family tonight after school.

He heard three 'yes sir's' and gave a nod and started eating. The ride to school was a quite one. As Luke dropped Bo off he said, "You wait in your normal spot for Cooter to pick you up this afternoon."

Bo gave a nod and said, "Okay."

Later that afternoon Luke was sent to a classroom with four other boys for testing. Sergeant Baker gave a little talk about the test, and said they had two hours to complete it. He handed the tests out and said there was to be no talking. Fifteen minutes later Sergeant Baker said, "I'll be back in a little while. Keep taking the test, and I'm trusting you all to respect the no talking rule while I'm gone."

Sergeant Baker walked out of the classroom and looked around. When he saw no one, he went out to the parking lot, and got in his car. He drove out of the main town and was soon on a country road.

After school Daisy waited by Cooter's car. As soon as she saw him she gave him a sad looking smile. He knew what she was thinking and put his arm around her and said, "Even if Luke does go off to the military, I'll still be here to look after you and Bo."

She smiled a little bigger and gave him a quick hug. She let go and said with humor, "Is that supposed to be a comfort or a threat Cooter?"

He laughed and said, "Both!"

She laughed a little and got in Cooter's car when he held the door open for her. They were half way to the Jr. High when Daisy said, "Oh no! I forgot my History book in my locker."

Cooter shrugged and said, "We can go back and get your book after we pick up Bo. I don't have anything I need to do right now."

Daisy gave him a big smile and said, "Thank you Cooter. That's real nice of you."

Cooter gave her a grin and said, "See, I'm looking out for you already."

"I guess you are."

They picked up Bo and headed back to the school. When they got there Daisy ran in and got her book. As she was getting back in the car she pointed across the parking lot and said, "That's Sergeant Baker the recruiter. I thought Luke was taking his test right now. Where's he goin'?"

Bo sat up and took a look. He said, "That's the recruiter? He looks shifty to me. He's probably up to no good."

Cooter said, "Now Bo, you're just sayin' that because you're upset about Luke."

"No. I mean yeah I'm upset about Luke, but that guy looks down right crooked to me."

Daisy said, "You're right Bo. That was what I thought the first time I saw him too."

Cooter shook his head. He said, "Fine I'll prove it to the two of you. We'll follow him and see where he goes. Then when he goes to the market to get a soda you can both stop this kind of talk before you get Luke's temper up."

They followed Sergeant Baker, and as they got out of town Cooter had to keep his distance so that he didn't tip the Sergeant off. A few miles down the road, even Cooter had a bad feeling about things when the Sergeant pulled up to an old barn and parked. Cooter pulled off the road and parked behind some bushes quite a ways away from the farm. He turned off his car and tried to get a look at what was going on. Bo piped up with, "I told ya' so."

Cooter gave him an irritated, "Hush."

After a few seconds Cooter said, "You two wait here, I'm gonna get a closer look and see if I can hear anything."

Bo said, "I'll come too."

"No, it could be dangerous, and I don't want you slowin' me down if I need to get out of there fast."

Bo started to protest, but Cooter was already out the car door, and hunching down to get closer to the barn without anyone noticing him. Once Cooter was half way to the barn, Bo started to get out of the car. Daisy hissed, "Bo! You get back in this car right now!"

Bo ignored her and followed Cooter, not wanting to be left out. Cooter made it to the side of the barn. He could hear men talking. He walked around a little until he found a hole in the wall about the size of a golf ball. He looked in and saw Sergeant Baker talking with two other men. Both other men looked slightly unkempt. They were both in their late thirty's and were obviously from out of town.

Sergeant Baker said, "Good then it's settled, you'll hit the Shafer place and the Willington's place tomorrow afternoon, and then we'll meet back here at four p.m. to split up the loot."

One of the men said, "You sure we shouldn't go after the Yates place? Sounds like they are the ones who have the most money in this area."

Sergeant Baker looked irritated as he checked his watch. He said, "I told you the mother will still be at home during the day. The Shafer place and the Willington place will both be vacant. Don't screw it up, or I'll find some new jokers to pull jobs for me, and you two will be out."

The second man said, "Now just calm down Gerald, we'll do things your way. Ain't no need to go gettin' no one else. We done good work for you over the past six months, and we'll keep it up."

Cooter was feeling worse and worse as he stood there listening. Then he felt someone touch his arm, and he jumped about a foot in the air. He almost let out a noise, but was able to keep it in. Bo stood there looking curious, and while Cooter's face was away from the hole, Bo put his face there to see what was going on inside.

Sergeant Baker nodded and said, "Alright then, we meet here at four. I've got to get back to the school. I'll see you boys tomorrow."

Sergeant Baker turned and walked towards the front of the barn where his car was parked.

Cooter grabbed Bo's upper arm in a tight grip and pulled him to the back of the barn to hide. Bo knew enough to keep quiet about it. They crouched down behind the barn and waited until Sergeant Baker drove away. Then Cooter looked around until he found another hole in the barn to check on the other two crooks. They were busy working on their car. Cooter whispered to Bo, "The other two are busy. Keep down low as you're walkin' back to the car."

Bo gave a nod and they both walked quickly back to Cooter's car. Before Cooter opened the driver's door to let Bo climb in the back he gave Bo a hard whack to the back of his head. Bo ducked a little after the unexpected whack and said, "Hey!" as he rubbed the spot on his head.

Bo looked at Cooter with irritation, and Cooter looked at Bo with disapproval. Cooter opened his door for Bo to climb in and said, "I told ya to stay in the car Bo. What if I had yelled when you startled me? Those crooks could have seen us and who knows what they would have done."

Bo climbed in the back and said insincerely, "Soooooorrrrrryyyy."

Daisy glared at him and said, "That was a bone headed move Bo."

Bo crossed his arms and refused to comment. Daisy looked at Cooter who had just sat down in the driver's side and said, "Well?"

Cooter shook his head. Luke ain't gonna like it. That Sergeant is as crooked as they come, and he's got two other men workin' for him too. They're plannin' on robbin' old man Shaffer's place and Jack's parent's place."

Daisy said, "What should we do?"

Cooter sat and thought about it for a few minutes. Then he said, "I guess we should tell Sheriff Coltrane."

Bo let out a mean laugh and said, "That ain't gonna do no good and you know it!"

Daisy said, "No Cooter's right. This is a matter for the law to handle."

Bo muttered, "Waist of time."

Cooter ignored him and made his decision. He started up the car and drove back to town. He parked in front of the Sherriff's office and said, "Come on y'all, maybe he'll believe us if we all go in to tell him."

Everyone got out and went into the office. They found Rosco sitting behind his desk playing solitaire. He looked up and said, "What are you juvenile delinquents doing out of school?"

Cooter said, "School's out Sheriff. We're here to report a crime."

Rosco sat up a little straighter and said, "Okay let's hear it."

Cooter started to explain what they had seen, but as soon as he got to the name Sergeant Baker, Rosco cut them off. He said, "Do you little hoodlums mean to tell me you've come over here to try and fame an honorable military man who came all the way from Atlanta to try and help out our young men?"

Cooter said, "He's gonna have some men rob two houses tomorrow!"

Rosco got red in the face and stood up. He yelled, "I'll have you know I had dinner with Boss Hogg and Sergeant Baker last night, and he is as honest and honorable as they come. If there's any robbin' goin' on in this county, it's you rotten apples doin' it. Now git! And don't come back here telling tall tales or I'm gonna call your folks and tell them you've been skippin' school, terrorizing visitors, and lyin' to the local law enforcement!"

All three kids left the sheriff's office, and as soon as they got to Cooter's car Bo said, "Told ya' so."

Cooter glared at him and Bo took a step back at the look. Daisy said, "What now?"

Cooter said, "I'm gonna take you home, and then we'll all wait there for Luke. We'll tell him, and see what he thinks we should do."

Bo asked, "Why not tell Uncle Jessie?"

"If Luke thinks that's best, then we will, but with Jessie runnin' 'shine he really don't need no trouble with the law. I don't think there's much he could do."

They piled into Cooter's car and headed for the Duke farm. When they got there Jessie invited Cooter to stay for dinner since he had been kind enough to drive Daisy and Bo home. Cooter agreed and called his folks to make sure it was okay. Then he helped Uncle Jessie with some chores until Luke got home.

Luke got home and wasn't surprised to see Cooter still there. Dinner was just about ready, and they all sat down together to eat. Uncle Jessie asked how the tests went, and Luke said, "I think they went pretty good. Sergeant Baker said he would have the results for us tomorrow, and then we'll talk about where I could be placed if I signed up."
Cooter wanted to change the topic, knowing that Bo would have a hard time not spilling his guts so he said, "How has the General Lee been runnin' since we replaced those spark plugs?"

With Cooter there to help, the conversation stayed on cars for the rest of the meal. When everyone was done eating Cooter said, "Well I'd best be getting home. Thank you very much for inviting me to dinner Uncle Jessie."

Jessie said with good humor, "I ain't your Uncle."

Cooter just gave him a smile and then turned to Luke and said, "Walk me to my car?"

Luke nodded and got up to follow him. Daisy got up and said, "Me too."

Bo said, "Hey, don't forget me."

Cooter had a hard time not glaring at Daisy and Bo for being so obvious, but Jessie just laughed and said, "Okay, okay, I'll do the dishes, you young'uns go visit for a while."

All four kids went out and walked over to Cooter's car to be away from the house. As soon as Cooter got to his car he turned to Luke and said, "Lucas, you and me have been friends since grade school right?"

Luke looked puzzled, "Of course."

"I ain't never lied to you neither."

"I know."

"Today after I picked up Bo we went back to the high school so Daisy could get a book, and we saw that Sergeant Baker leaving the school. It was when you was supposed to be takin' your test, so we followed him…."

Luke was getting more and more angry, and everyone could tell by the look on his face. He interrupted through clenched teeth; "You followed him? Were you just tryin' to find somethin' wrong so I wouldn't leave?"

Cooter put up his hands in surrender. "Don't get all riled up at me. I was tryin' to prove that the guy wasn't a criminal."

Luke tried to calm himself down and just gave a slight nod. Cooter looked down at the ground and put his hands in his pockets when he said, "Turns out I was wrong."

Luke turned to Daisy and Bo. He said, "Did you two put him up to this?"

Bo shouted, "No!"

Daisy said, "I'm sorry Luke, but it's true. That Sergeant is crooked."

Luke pointed at Cooter's car. He said, "Go home Cooter, and don't come back."

Cooter got mad himself. He said, "Dang it Luke, don't be an ass. I'm not trying to stop you from doin' what you want, I'm tellin' you the truth! The Sergeant met up with two other men, and they talked about robbin' two houses tomorrow. And I'll prove it to you since you seem to be so thick headed!"

Luke had his hands clenched at his sides, and was finding it hard not to strike out. He said, "How do you plan on that Cooter? You gonna set him up or somethin'?"

Cooter shook his head and said, "Tomorrow after school, you and me can drive out to the barn, and you can see for yourself what kind of a man the Sergeant is. Then you're gonna apologize to me for what you just said, or I'm gonna kick your ass."

Luke took a step towards Cooter and said, "You and who else?"

Daisy quickly got herself in between them facing Luke and put her hands on his chest to keep him away. She said, "You get in the house Luke, before you do somethin' stupid!"

Luke said, "I got chores to do." and headed into the barn.

Daisy turned back to Cooter and said, "I'm real sorry about that Cooter. Luke is gonna hate himself for that when he sees the truth. You'll get that apology and more I'm sure."

Cooter felt himself calming down. He nodded and even smiled at Daisy. He said, "You're right. Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow."

Cooter got in his car and drove away. Daisy and Bo looked at each other for a few seconds. Bo said, "What are we gonna do?"

Daisy sighed and put her hands on her hips. She glared at the barn and said, "Talk some sense into our cousin."

Bo looked wary and said, "You sure?"

Daisy just walked towards the barn. Bo followed but stayed back a ways. Daisy found Luke just sitting on a bail of hay looking at the ground. She could tell he was already feeling bad. She sighed, walked over, and sat next to him. She waited a few short minutes and then Luke said, "Tell me what y'all saw."

Daisy described the whole thing to him. When she was done Luke just shook his head and said, "You guys must have somehow misunderstood what was going on."

Bo said, "Nope. It was real clear. He's a shady low down thief, and you're just too stubborn to see it."

Daisy said, "What are you gonna do Luke? Do you think we should tell Uncle Jessie?"

Luke shook his head. "No. None of you tell Jessie. After school Cooter and I will go out to the barn, and I'll see for myself. Maybe we'll set up some kind of trap for the crooks. Maybe the Sergeant is trying to catch them in the act."

Bo said, "I want to go too!"

Luke shook his head, "No way Bo. Sounds to me like you almost got Cooter caught today. You're just too young. I don't want you getting hurt."

Bo said, "If you don't let me go, I'll tell Uncle Jessie about the whole thing."

Luke stood up and towered over Bo. He said, "You are twelve Bo, you ain't goin'. And if you tell Uncle Jessie, I'm gonna tell him about you smokin' last month with Marshal Henny and his friends."

Bo looked scared and said, "No fair! You said you wouldn't tell. It was embarrassin' enough that you just walked over and swatted me in front of everyone. Then you had to go and threaten to call all their folks if you ever caught us doin' it again. Now you're gonna tell Uncle Jessie and get me whupped too?"

Luke sighed, "No I'm not gonna tell him, as long as you don't go gettin' any ideas about comin' with us or telling Uncle Jessie."

Bo pouted and said, "I don't like you anymore Luke."

Luke rolled his eyes and said, "Fine. Let's just get in the house, before Uncle Jessie gets suspicious."

Luke turned to Daisy and said, "Tomorrow after school, you walk over to the middle school and meet Bo." Luke reached in his pocket and pulled out five dollars. He said, "You two can go to the ice cream shop and wait for me there."

Daisy nodded and said, "Okay. But you be careful, and if you and Cooter aren't back to pick us up one hour after school, I'm callin' Uncle Jessie to tell him what is happenin', even if you do tell him about… that other thing."

Luke thought about it and nodded. "That's actually a good plan Daisy, because something could go wrong."

They all went in the house and saw Uncle Jessie was just finishing up the dishes. Jessie saw them and said, "Good, you're all here. Let's all go in the living room and talk."

The kids all looked a little wary, but went to sit. Jessie dried off his hands and then sat down on the rocking chair across from the couch. He looked at his three charges and said, "I've been thinking over Luke going into the military." He looked directly at Luke and said, "And I've decided if it's somethin' you still want to do, then I'll let you sign up in six months."

Luke's temper had been near the surface since his talk with Cooter, and this was just too much for him to hold in. He stood and yelled, "You'll let me?!! I don't need your consent after I'm eighteen! I'm signing up next week no matter what you say!"

Bo and Daisy just sat there with huge eyes, never having seen Luke yell at their Uncle like that. Jessie moved quicker then any of them thought he could, and he grabbed Luke's arm. Jessie put a foot on the coffee table, and pulled a struggling Luke over his leg. He wrapped an arm around Luke's waist and started swatting the seat of Luke's jeans hard and fast. Luke yelled, "This ain't gonna change nothin'! You can't stop me! I don't care what you say!"

Jessie didn't say anything, just kept up the swats. Bo and Daisy had scrambled behind the couch to get out of the way, and were both in too much shock to say or do anything. They hadn't seen or heard Luke spanked in over a year, and never thought they would hear it or see it again.

A few seconds into it Jessie stopped and shook out his hand. He said, "Why are you over my knee Lucas?"

Luke was in some pain, but didn't want to admit defeat. He said, "Because you think I'm a kid who can't make his own choices."

Jessie started swatting again, and after quite a few long seconds he stopped again. He asked the same question again. Luke was still angry, but knew he didn't want any more. He said, "Because I was defiant and disrespectful."

Jessie said, "That's right." And started spanking again.

Luke was starting to move around more to avoid the swats but there wasn't anyway to get out of his current position because his feet didn't even touch the floor, and the only thing keeping him in place was his uncle's arm around his waist. Very soon Luke was feeling close to tears and said, "Uncle Jessie! I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what I said, and I'll wait like you want me to!"

Jessie gave him a couple more swats and then set him on his feet. Jessie got his foot off the coffee table and tried to pull Luke into a hug. Luke stepped back and said with hurt feelings evident in his eyes, "If you're gonna treat me like a kid who doesn't know what he wants out of life, I'm gonna act like one."

Luke turned and ran to his room slamming the door behind him. Jessie thought about it for about two seconds and then purposefully strode towards Luke's door. He was about to knock and walk in, when he heard the distinct sounds of Luke crying. Jessie sighed and went back to the living room, not knowing if it was the right thing to do or not. He looked at Daisy and Bo who looked a little scared. He sat on the couch and said, "Come over here you two."

Daisy and Bo both walked around, and Daisy sat on his right while Bo sat on his left. He put an arm around each of them, and pulled them both into a hug. He said, "Now don't the two of you fret none. Luke's gonna be just fine. His pride is hurt more then his backside, and the two of us will work things out real soon."

Daisy hugged Jessie tight and said, "I don't want him to go."

Jessie sighed and said, "I don't either, but once Luke is done with school, he has the right to choose the career that is right for him, and none of us is gonna stand in his way."

Daisy nodded into Jessie's chest. Bo said in a small voice, "I can't believe you just whupped him."

Jessie hugged him tighter and looked down the hall towards Luke's door and said, "I can't either, but I won't tolerate disrespect from any of you as long as you young'uns live in my house."

Bo thought about that. Jessie waited a few minutes and then let them both go. He said, "You two watch some TV, and leave Luke alone for the rest of the night. Bo, you can stay up till ten tonight."

Bo thought he should be happy about that, but couldn't even muster up a smile. They all pretended to watch TV for the rest of the night while each was absorbed with his or her own thoughts. When Bo went into the room he shared with Luke, he looked over, but Luke was either asleep or pretending to be, so Bo went to bed himself.

The next morning Luke woke up with the rooster like usual. He sat up and then stood giving his behind a rub. It didn't exactly hurt, but it didn't feel good either. He glared out the dark window and thought about what had happened yesterday. Then he looked at his bed, and with a frown of defiance got back in. He pulled the covers up and tried to go back to sleep. He lay there in the dark not sleeping, and thinking over the last couple of days. Soon he saw the light was coming up, and he heard some noises in the kitchen. He still refused to get up, or wake up Bo or Daisy. Fifteen minutes later he almost couldn't stand it anymore, and was starting to wonder why his uncle hadn't come in and dragged them all out of bed.

Just as he was about to get up he heard a knock on his door. He closed his eyes and tried to fake sleep. Jessie opened the door and went over to Bo. He gave him a small shake and said, "Time to wake up little one."

Bo groaned and rolled over. Jessie said, "Come on Bo. There are pancakes on the table."

Bo suddenly sat up and looked around confused. He said, "What's goin' on?"

Jessie said casually, "It's time for breakfast. Come on in and eat."

Bo looked over at Luke and said, "Is Luke sick or somethin'?"

Jessie went over to Luke and put a hand on his forehead. Luke looked up at Jessie with accusation, and Jessie looked back at him with love and understanding for a full ten seconds before Luke felt his eyes start to fill up with tears of guilt. He pushed Jessie's hand away and rolled over as he mumbled, "I'm fine."

Jessie said, "Good. Then get up and get to the table while I wake up Daisy."

Bo walked over to Luke and said, "What happened? Why are you still in bed? Did Uncle Jessie do all the chores by himself and make breakfast? Are you sure you're not sick? Luke?"

Luke sniffed a little and wiped at his face as he said, "Go eat, and leave me alone."

Bo frowned and got himself dressed. He left the room and shut the door behind him. Luke tried to convince himself not to feel guilty for making his uncle do all the work, but it was hard. He thought, 'Uncle Jessie doesn't trust me to make my own choices, then see how he likes living with me when I don't take responsibility. See how he likes it when I don't act like an adult. Why didn't he just wake me up and make me come help? Maybe he's trying to make me feel guilty. Well it won't work! He can just do all the work, and I'll sleep in every day just like Bo would if I let him.'

Luke got up and got himself dressed. He went out to breakfast and saw everyone was waiting for him. As soon as he sat down, Daisy said grace and they all started eating. When breakfast was over Daisy went to shower, Jessie started to do the dishes, and Bo automatically started to help. Luke just sat there and waited for Jessie to say something, but he didn't. Bo looked back and said, "Ain't you gonna help?"

Luke looked at Jessie, but Jessie was looking at the dishes and didn't comment. Luke said, "No." and waited.

When Jessie didn't say anything about that, Luke got up and went to get his things ready for school. Bo looked up at Jessie and said quietly, "Why doesn't Luke have to help?"

Jessie looked at Bo and said, "Because he needs to learn something about being an adult."

Bo just looked confused. Jessie looked to make sure Luke wasn't in the room. Jessie said, "How would you feel if I told you that you didn't have to do the dishes?"

Bo smiled and said, "That would be great. I'd be happy."

Jessie nodded and said, "That's 'cause you're twelve. Luke ain't happy 'bout it, and he needs to figure out why by himself."

Bo lost his smile and said, "So do I still have to do them?"


Bo gave Jessie a pathetic look and Jessie let out a loud laugh. He said, "But not today. You run outside and play 'till it's time to go to school."

Bo gave a happy yell, and made a dash for the door. Jessie kept smiling while taking care of the dishes.

Luke was distracted as he drove them all to school, because he couldn't get over how bad he felt about that morning. He dropped Bo off and said, "You wait here for Daisy after school, and then I'll pick you both up at the ice cream shop."

Bo looked at Luke like he was still trying to make sense of the morning and said, "Okay Luke."

Luke drove him and Daisy to school and said, "I'll see you this afternoon."

Daisy nodded and said, "You and Cooter be careful."

Luke went off to class early in hopes of finding Cooter. Cooter was sitting in class and didn't say hi to Luke as he walked by. Luke sat at his desk, looked Cooter in the eye and said, "I'm real sorry for what I said last night Cooter. No matter what happens this afternoon, I know you wouldn't just up and lie to me about somethin'. Can you forgive me?"

Cooter smiled and said, "Sure Lucas. I know the story is hard to believe, and I'm real sorry this guy you were lookin' up to has turned out to be crooked."

Luke held out his hand and they shook on it. Luke said, "I was thinkin' that these two men are gonna be at the barn at four, but what if we got there a little early. Maybe we can set up a trap to catch them."

Cooter thought about it. "I suppose we could try. I'm in. We'll meet at your car as soon as the last class gets out. That should give us fifteen minutes head start."

At one o'clock Rosco got a phone call from old man Shafer who was irate and yelling that he had been robbed. Rosco tried to calm him down, and then sent Enos out to take the man's statement and investigate. Then Rosco started to think about what Cooter had told him the day before. He got in his car and decided to park by the school to see if the Sergeant was there. When he found the Sergeant's car there, he decided to stake it out and then to follow him out of town just to make sure he wasn't meeting up with any robbers.

Bo kept thinking about Luke and his change of attitude. He still didn't really understand. Any time Bo got spanked he was extra good for weeks just to make sure it didn't happen again, but Luke was being awful and Bo didn't understand why Jessie was letting him get away with it. Bo also was thinking about Luke leaving, and how he didn't want him to. He also couldn't keep those crooks and what they were planning out of his head.

About one o'clock Bo faked a stomach ache and was excused from class to go to the nurses office, but instead walked out the front doors of the school, and headed for the high school. He made it in about twenty minutes, and then found the General Lee. He looked around, and didn't see anyone. He climbed into the back seat, and waited for school to get out. When he saw people coming out of the building, he hunched down on the floor behind the driver's seat, and pulled an old blanket that was on the floor over himself.

Luke met with Sergeant Baker at eleven o'clock that day, and Sergeant Baker told him he had done very well on his tests. They went over the kinds of sign up bonus he could receive, and the jobs he would be most likely to train for. Luke wasn't sure he trusted Sergeant Baker, but he was sure that the Marines sounded even more like something he wanted to do with his life. As soon as school was out he raced to his car, and found Cooter already standing by the car. They both hopped in and Cooter directed as Luke drove.

They arrived at the barn very soon, and Cooter showed him where he had parked the day before. They hid the General Lee behind some bushes and cautiously walked towards the barn. They soon found it was vacant. Cooter looked at his watch and said, "They could be here any time in the next half an hour."

Luke was looking around at the barn. It was pretty run down, and obviously hadn't been used in years. There were no tools or equipment inside. There were some empty stalls, and on the ground there was dirt mixed with some old hay. Luke looked around in the stalls to see if he could find anything to use as a weapon. When he didn't find anything he looked at Cooter and said, "It's pretty empty. Do you think we could take these guys if we were just hiding and then surprised them?"

Cooter thought about it. Both he and Luke were pretty big for their age, and working on their respective farms had given them plenty of muscles. He said, "I think so. They were kinda scrawny."

Luke smiled and said, "Good. Let's both hide in this first stall. You crouch down on that side of the stall door, and I'll crouch down on this side. Then when they get close, I'll give you the signal, and then we'll both jump out and take them down."

Bo said, "That's a great idea Luke!"

Luke spun around and saw Bo standing in the open doorway of the barn. He shook his head once not quite believing what he was seeing. He said, "Bo?"

Bo smiled quite pleased with himself and said; "I'll hide in the next stall over and come out to help after you start!"

Cooter just shook his head. Luke just couldn't believe his eyes. He blinked a couple of times and said, "How….What the hell are you doin' here?!"

Bo shrugged and said in a matter of fact way, "I wanted to help."

Luke saw red, reached Bo in five big steps and grabbed both his arms. Bo saw the look in Luke's face and tried to step back away from him but didn't have time. Luke gave Bo a hard shake and said, "I told you that you couldn't come! I told you to wait for Daisy! This isn't some game Bo, it's serious!"

Bo was scared at Luke's tone and the shake kind of hurt his head. He stuttered out, "I…I'm…s….sorry."

Luke could tell he was scaring Bo, and some of his anger faded. He loosened his grip on Bo's arms slightly. He knelt down on one knee so he could look Bo in the eyes. He said, "Bo… I love you, and it would kill me if you got hurt 'cause of me. I want you to get back over to the General Lee and stay there until this whole thing is done. You hear?"

Bo gave him a nervous but sincere nod. Luke nodded once, stood up, turned Bo towards the car, and gave him a hard swat to get him moving in that direction. Bo yelped 'ow', and moved quickly back to the car. Luke watched him go and made sure he actually got in. Luke rubbed a hand over his face feeling his fear subside just slightly. He turned to Cooter and said, "Maybe this isn't the best idea. Maybe we should just go wait in the car and then report what we see to Sheriff Coltrane."

Cooter was thinking about it when they both heard a car coming fast. The looked at each other and knew there was no way to get back to the car without being seen. They both ran to the stables and hid.

A few seconds later the car parked in the barn, and the two crooks got out. They were laughing and having a good time talking about the jobs they had just pulled. They started to unload the back seat and the trunk to put all the stolen goods on the floor of the barn for the Sergeant to look through and split up.

Luke took a quick peek over the edge of the stall and saw the two men. He didn't think they looked very intimidating at all. He looked over at Cooter and grinned. Cooter knew Luke was thinking they could take them, so he smiled and gave a nod. Luke gave him a hand gesture to go forward, and they both jumped out at the same time and attacked the two crooks.

Luke punched the guy closest to him before he lost the element of surprise. The guy went down, but started to get back up. Luke looked over at Cooter who had gotten punched but was now punching back. Luke turned back and saw the man he had punched was now up. The guy struck out and tried to punch Luke in the face, but Luke ducked and punched the man in the stomach hard. The guy doubled over and Luke knocked him out with a punch to the side of the head. Luke looked over at Cooter once he was sure his guy was down for the count, and saw Cooter standing over the other thug to see if he was getting back up.

Cooter and Luke looked at each other and smiled. Luke said, "Maybe it wasn't such a bad plan after all."

Cooter gave a victory yell and grinned. "I think that was the quickest fight I've ever been in."

Luke slapped Cooter on the back in congratulations. Then just as he was about to suggest they tie the crooks up, they both heard the distinct sound of a gun cocking. Luke and Cooter both turned to the open door of the barn and saw Sergeant Baker holding a gun on them. Luke and Cooter both put their hands up. Sergeant Baker said, "Luke Duke?"

Luke said, "Yes sir."

"What are you doing here?"

"Catching some criminals."

Sergeant Baker shook his head and said, "That's a real shame boy. I think you would have made a good Marine, but it looks like we'll never know because you know who I am, and I can't let you live."

Luke's eyes got wide and he started to panic. "Now look Sergeant Baker, there's no need for any killing here. I won't tell anyone I swear!"

But even as Luke said it, he knew it was a lie. Sergeant Baker knew it too. He shook his head. "I'm sorry kid, but you're an honest person, and I know you'll tell if I let you go free."

Luke felt nauseous, and then saw movement near the door of the barn. To his horror he saw Bo with a short but thick piece of tree branch that he was holding like a baseball bat. Bo was sneaking up on the Sergeant, and Luke knew what he was planning. Luke closed his eyes and tried to distract the Sergeant by talking. He said, "At least let my friend here go. Trust me when I say he ain't the honest sort. He won't tell no one."

Sergeant Baker laughed and said, "You really expect me to believe you'd be friends with some kid who wasn't honest……Mmmff!"

Bo had took aim and slammed the branch into Sergeant Baker's back. The gun went off, but thankfully it was aimed at the ceiling at the time, because the blow had shoved Sergeant Baker forward. Luke immediately saw his opportunity and rushed Sergeant Baker. They struggled with the gun for a second, but Cooter came over and helped hold Sergeant Baker. Luke got the gun without it going off a second time. Cooter held Sergeant Baker while Luke backed away and checked the gun. He cocked it a second time and aimed it at the Sergeant. Cooter let him go and stepped back. Luke said, "Cooter get Bo back in the car and go get some help."

Cooter nodded and started for the door. Sergeant Baker said, "Hey kid, lets not be too hasty here. How about we split the loot. You can have twenty percent."

At that moment Rosco appeared in the doorway holding his gun. He said, "No one's gonna be splittin' nothin'. Alright Luke, you bring that gun over to me nice and slow."

Luke didn't really like Rosco, but felt relief at his presence. He un-cocked the gun carefully, and turned it over in his hand so he could hand it to Rosco. He walked over and gave it to him as he said, "I'm real glad to see you Sheriff Coltrane."

Rosco handed Luke some cuffs and said, "Cuff the Sergeant for me please."

Luke took them and did what he was told. Rosco looked at the Sergeant and said, "You sure had the wool pulled over my eyes, but no more. You're gonna do some serious time for this, and your career in the military is over."

Luke had the cuffs on, and Rosco pulled out another pair and said, "Cuff those other two together."

Luke had to drag one of them over to the other, but soon they were cuffed together. The Sheriff turned to Cooter and said, "Go call Enos on the CB and have him meet me here."

Cooter nodded and went to do that. Rosco said to Sergeant Baker, "You sit down by your buddies there, and I'll read you your rights."

By the time that was done Cooter was back, and Rosco looked at the three kids in front of him. Cooter said, "Hey Sheriff, do you think maybe you could let us go on home?"

Rosco thought about it. Bo piped up with, "And since we told you about the robbers before they even took anything and you didn't believe us, could you keep us out of it and not tell Uncle Jessie about the whole thing?"

Rosco didn't really want it getting out that the kids had warned him about this and he had done nothing. He pretended to think about it for a while. Then he said, "Okay kids. I'm gonna let you off this one time. But mark my words this is the only time. I better never catch any of y'all doing anything like this again, or it'll be straight to jail for you."

All three boys looked relieved. Rosco said, "Now get!"

They all left, and were soon in the General Lee headed back to town. Bo was the first to start. "Did you see that guy when I hit him in the back? He didn't know what hit him, but he sure did feel it."

Luke turned and looked at Bo who looked quite pleased with himself. Luke shook his head and said, "I don't want to hear one more word out of you Bo. I need to think."

Bo crossed his arms in annoyance and muttered, "Sorry I saved you then."

Luke raised his voice and said, "Did you even think about Daisy at all? You know she's gonna be worried sick over where you are."

Bo looked down and Luke could tell he hadn't thought about that but felt bad about it now that he was thinking about it.

Luke gripped the steering wheel and thought about what they had all done and how dangerous it was. He thought about Bo and what he had done, and he knew that Bo didn't think it was dangerous at all. He thought about Daisy and how worried she must be. Once they got into town he drove straight to the ice cream parlor hoping that Daisy would be there. As soon as he pulled up, she came running out looking frazzled.

He got out, but before he could say anything she stuck her head into his window and pinned Bo with a glare. She said, "Do you have any idea what you put me through?!"

Bo didn't have an answer right away and she yelled, "Well do you?!!!"

Bo shook his head and said, "I'm sorry Daisy, I just…."

She cut him off and said, "I don't even want to hear about it Bo! There ain't nothin' you can say to make this better. You have been childish, inconsiderate, and down right mean to me, and I don't deserve it. Next time you want someone to mend your clothes, or make you a special dessert, or make you eggs the way you like, you can just get some other sucker to do it for you, because you obviously have no respect for me!"

Bo felt worse and worse listening to her talk, and by the time she was done, his face was bright red and his eyes were watery. He pleaded, "No, it ain't like that Daisy. Please don't be mad. I do respect you, honest I do. I just didn't think…."

Daisy stood and turned her back on him. Bo waited a second and then said, "Daisy?…."

Getting no response Bo couldn't stop a few tears from spilling over. He scooted over to one side in the back seat and wiped his face with the back of his hand.

Luke looked at Daisy and said, "I'm sorry you had to worry. I didn't know he was in the back until we were there."

Daisy nodded and said, "I figured as much. What happened anyway?"

Luke filled her in, and her eyes got bigger and bigger as he told the story. When he was done he said, "Did you tell anyone Bo was missing?"

Daisy shook her head. "I knew odds were good that he was with you, so I decided to wait for you and see."

Luke nodded and said, "Thank you Cousin. I owe you big for this."

He pulled her into a quick hug, and as he let her go he said, "Climb in, and we'll take Cooter over to his car."

Daisy climbed into the back and refused to even look at Bo. As soon as they parked at the school parking lot Luke turned to the back seat and said, "You two stay here, I need to talk to Cooter."

Soon Cooter and Luke were standing a few feet away next to Cooter's car. Bo tried to see if Daisy was still mad and said, "I wonder what they're talkin' about."

She ignored him. They watched while Cooter shook his head no and looked kind of upset. But after a few minutes Cooter nodded and then got in his car and drove away. Then Luke got back in. Bo said, "What'd ya say to him?"

Luke ignored him too. Luke started the car and Bo said, "Did I just turn invisible or something?!"

The rest of the trip home was quiet. Luke pulled up to his usual spot at the farm and then turned around to look at his two cousins. He said, "I'm tellin' Uncle Jessie what we did."

Bo yelled, "What! Why?! He's not gonna find out, old Rosco ain't gonna tell. Just don't say nothin' and we won't get in any trouble."

Luke nodded and said, "That's true Bo. If I don't tell him, he'll probably never find out, but I am gonna tell him even if it means both of us get whupped and Daisy gets grounded for helping."

Bo just shook his head not understanding and said again, "Why?"

Luke sighed and said, "Because even if Uncle Jessie don't see it, I want to be a man now…. No I am a man now, and I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror every day. Men don't go around lyin' about what they've done. When they make a mistake or mess something up, they tell the people that need to know, and face the consequences even if they don't like them."

Bo said, "Can't you be a man starting tomorrow? You know Uncle Jessie's gonna whup me if he finds out what I did. Please don't tell."

Luke shook his head. "I have to be true to my own conscience Bo, and I'm sorry but even if I was going to try and keep this whole mess from Uncle Jessie you'd still be getting a whuppin' from me, because what you did was deadly."

Bo looked surprised, because Luke had never done more then the occasional swat or smack to the back of his head. Bo shook his head no but couldn't think of anything else to say. Luke looked at Daisy. She just nodded and said, "It's the right thing to do."

Bo yelled, "Easy for you to say, you're ass isn't on the line!"

Luke said, "Hey! You watch your mouth in front of Daisy."

Bo looked out the passenger side window, and made a dash to climb out it and run. Luke caught him by a belt loop on his jeans and pulled him back into the car. Luke climbed out his side with a hand still on Bo. Then he used both hands to drag a struggling and kicking Bo out his side and stood him up next to him. Luke looked at Daisy and said, "You might want to stay out here for a while darlin'. Things are gonna get ugly."

Daisy nodded in agreement and said, "I'll start on some of the chores in the barn."

Luke felt Bo trying to pry his hand off his belt loop with his hands, and at the same time using his whole body to pull away from Luke. Luke thought he might even rip his jeans at the rate he was going. Luke bent down and heaved Bo up and over his shoulder in a fireman style hold. Bo yelled out, "Put me down!"

Luke headed for the house, and could see his Uncle standing on the porch looking concerned. Bo yelled, "You put me down right now Luke! You got no right to do this!"

Luke made it to the porch and set Bo down, but kept a firm grip on his upper arm. He looked at Jessie and said, "We need to talk Uncle Jessie."

Bo yelled, "No we don't!"

Jessie just nodded and turned and went into the house. Luke pulled Bo in with him, and shut the door behind him. Luke stood in front of the door, and then let Bo go. Bo took a few steps away and rubbed his arm. Luke pointed at him and said, "Plant yourself in a chair and keep quiet. You'll get your turn when I'm done."

Jessie looked on and thought it was all very interesting. Bo said, "I hate you!"

Luke took a step towards Bo, and Bo found a chair fast. Luke sighed and turned to Jessie. He said, "You ain't gonna like it Uncle Jessie. Both me and Bo messed up pretty bad."

Jessie nodded and took a seat at the kitchen table along with Bo. He said, "Okay, let's have it."

Luke described it all in detail while Bo examined the table and kept his mouth shut. Jessie felt his blood pressure go up as he listened, but kept quiet to let Luke get it all out. Luke finished up with, "And the argument outside just now was because Bo didn't want me to tell you."

Jessie turned to Bo and said, "Beauregard, do you have anything to add?"

Bo flinched at his whole name and then said a meek, "I'm sorry?"

Jessie said, "Both you boys could have been killed today."

They said, "Yes sir." in unison.

"You should have told me about it yesterday, and then let the sheriff handle it."

"Yes sir." in stereo again.

"Goin' out to that barn…. Not only showed bad judgement, and lack of common sense, but it shows reckless and impulsive behavior that needs to stop."

"Yes sir."

"So I guess you both know what to expect."

"Yes sir." Both with regret evident in their voices.

Jessie looked at Bo and said, "Go to your room and wait for me."

Bo's face fell as he realized that meant it was time, and he couldn't stop the tears as he ran to his room. Jessie looked at Luke and said, "You go fetch me the strap and then wait right here for me."

Luke felt his stomach clench at that prospect but said, "Yes sir." anyway and went to get the strap out of his uncle's room.

Jessie sat at the table for a second and said a short silent prayer to give him strength to do what needed to be done. He stood up feeling much older then his fifty years and walked over to Bo and Luke's room. He knocked on the door and went in. He saw Bo sitting on the side of his bed with his head and shoulders hanging down. He walked over and sat on Bo's bed next to him.

Jessie sighed and put an arm around his shoulders. "Bo, I've raised you since you was two, and you know I love you. You bring more laughter into this house then all the rest of us put together. I can't imagine what our lives would be like without you boy. So when I hear that you was out there tryin' to fight off someone with a gun….. I just…. Well I just can't let it go. It's my job to teach you not only right from wrong, but also to teach you when it's okay to take some risks, and when it's not."

Bo sniffed and nodded. Jessie said, "Stand up and take down your pants."

Bo pleaded, "Please Uncle Jessie, I swear it ain't gonna happen again. Please don't whup me, please!"

Jessie shook his head, and helped Bo to stand up. As Jessie was undoing Bo's jeans for him, Bo said in a panic, "I'm already real sorry, and I know what I done was wrong."

Jessie pulled Bo over his lap and pulled the pants and underwear down together which made Bo's voice go up a notch when he yelled out, "No! Please no!"

Jessie brought his hand down in the center of Bo's behind with a solid slap, and Bo jumped and wailed, "Owwwww!"

Jessie's hand was big enough to cover most of Bo's butt in one swat. On the second swat Bo put his hand back to try and cover himself, but Jessie just grabbed it and held it out of the way. Jessie gave him a total of twelve swats, and by the time he was done Bo was crying with great heaving sobs. Jessie hated to hear it, but knew Bo would remember this the next time he was faced with a choice between doing something dangerous or telling an adult about it and letting them handle it. Jessie let go of Bo's hand and gently rubbed his back. He said, "There now little one, it's all over, and you're forgiven."

Jessie helped Bo to stand up, and then helped him pull up and fasten his pants. Bo immediately put both his hands behind him to hold his bottom. Jessie picked him up and sat him on his lap. Bo wrapped his arms around his uncle and kept crying while Jessie held him.

A good ten minutes later Bo had settled down, and only had the occasional hitched breath. Jessie knew it had to be killing Luke to wait, so he let go of Bo and put his hands on the sides of Bo's face. He wiped at the tear tracks with his thumbs and looked into Bo's eyes. He gave Bo a kiss on the forehead and said, "Just so I know we're clear, tell me why I whupped ya."

Bo's chin trembled again and he said, "'Cause I went with Luke after he told me not to, and then I went back into that barn to try and save Luke and Cooter even though I knew the Sergeant had a gun."

Jessie nodded and said, "Right, and what else?"

Bo thought about it and then said, "Not telling you about it?"

"Yes, and that goes for both before and after. You should have told me about it the day you and Cooter found out about it. But I also want you to know that I don't approve of your behavior once you found out Luke was gonna tell me what y'all had done."

Bo said, "I'm sorry I was fighting with Luke."

Jessie nodded and said, "You can tell him that later, but for now I want you to stay here in your room until I come back to get you for dinner."

"Yes sir."

Jessie helped Bo to get off his lap, and then he patted his shoulder as he got up and walked out of the room. He shut the door behind him.

Luke went into his uncle's room and got into his closet to find the strap that was hanging on a hook on the wall. Luke swallowed hard and picked it up. He closed the closet and went back out to the kitchen. He set the strap on the table, and sat down to wait. He heard Bo pleading, and soon heard the spanking start. He cringed in sympathy, but he also knew that if his uncle weren't around to do it, he would have. He was glad when it was over, and took a deep calming breath.

Now that Bo was apparently being comforted, Luke's eyes couldn't stop looking over at the strap lying harmlessly on the table. His uncle had used it on him twice before, once for direct disobedience and flat out lying about said disobedience when he was fifteen, and once for drinking and driving when he was sixteen. He really didn't want to experience it again.

But he didn't exactly disagree with his uncle's decision either. He could have gotten Bo, Cooter, or himself killed, and he knew it. He put his head in his hands with his elbows on the table and asked himself again why he had to be so bull headed about things until it was too late.

Jessie found Luke in that position when he came out to the kitchen. Luke looked up at him with regret. Luke stood up and picked up the strap. He handed it to Jessie and said, "Do you want my jeans on or off?"

Jessie was shocked. Every time he had spanked Luke in the past, Luke had pretty much had about the same reaction as Bo. There was pleading, and apologies. Jessie gave Luke a serious look and said, "Sit down, we're gonna talk first."

Luke gave a nod and sat down. Jessie put the strap on the table and looked over at Luke. He said, "I'm gonna have to call Cooter's folks and tell them what he done."

Luke nodded. "I already told him you would. I'm sure he's already told his Daddy about it, but he'll be expecting you to call."

Jessie hadn't thought he could be surprised again, but he was. "You're tellin' me that you told Cooter you were gonna confess, and he just agreed?"

Luke looked Jessie in the eyes. "No he didn't agree. He said I was a damn fool, but I told him I was doin' it anyway."

Jessie said, "Why did you tell me Luke? You could have kept it a secret, and kept both your behind and your cousin's behind out of trouble. You had both your best friend and your little cousin against you. So why did you tell me?"

"Because today for the first time in my life, it was more important for me to be able to respect myself, than it was for you to respect me."

Jessie thought about that for a few minutes. As he was thinking Luke said, "And Uncle Jessie…."

Jessie saw Luke turning red. "…I'm sorry for not getting up and helping with the chores this morning. I did it deliberately, to get back at you for whuppin' me last night. I knew it was wrong when I did it, and I've felt bad about it all day. You treat me like a kid all you want, but from this day on I'm acting like a man no matter how you treat me. And I suppose my behavior last night and today only proves that you were right about me not being mature enough to join up with the Marines. I hope that over the next six months while I'm still in school I can prove to you that I've matured, and I hope that someday you can be proud of me."

Jessie said with surprise, "I am proud of you Luke. I'm proud of you every day."

Luke looked over at Jessie and tried to see if he was telling the truth or not. He said, "Really? 'Cause you said I still had a bunch of growin' to do, and I don't see how you can claim to be proud of me after my behavior over the past two days."

Jessie pushed his chair away from the table and said, "Come over here."

Luke swallowed hard, stood up, and took the three steps to his uncle. Jessie surprised Luke by pulling him down to sit on his lap. Luke sat there stiffly and said, "Um… Uncle Jessie I….."

Jessie said, "Hush. You lean your head down on my shoulder and listen up."

Luke was fairly uncomfortable with this, but did what his uncle had asked. Jessie wrapped his arms around Luke and held him tight. He said, "I am proud of you Luke. You are one of the most responsible, honest, hard working, reliable, and kind hearted teenagers I know. I'm proud of you every day. Even when you make mistakes like you did today, you always find a way to try and make it right. You have strength of character and that isn't something I taught you, it's just a part of who you are. You're gonna be a great man someday."

Luke had a hard time not breaking down into tears. He put his arms around his uncle and hugged him back and said, "Thanks Uncle Jessie. I really needed to hear that."

Jessie waited until Luke let go, and then helped him stand up. Jessie stood up too and picked up the strap. He said, "Okay son, we both know what you did wrong, so let's get this out of the way."

Luke nodded and whispered, "Yes sir."

Jessie pointed to a chair and said, "Lean over the back please. You can leave your pants on."

Luke did what his uncle had asked. Jessie put a hand on Luke's lower back to keep a connection with him so he would know he wasn't going through it alone, and to help keep him in place. Jessie said, "Once we're done here you'll be forgiven, and you can start fresh."

Jessie brought the strap down five times before Luke made even a little sound. Luke didn't have any illusions that he would be able to take the strapping without crying, but he was going to do his best to put up as little fuss as possible.

At the sixth lick he made a noise of pain in the back of his throat, and from that point on he couldn't be quiet. He hissed and grunted and owed through the next six. He had known it was going to hurt, but he found it harder and harder to take without begging for it to stop. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself quiet even as he felt the inevitable tears spilling down his face.

Jessie knew Luke was crying but trying to be quiet. Once he got to fifteen he moved to the backs of Luke's upper thighs for the last five. Luke bucked and yelled at the first of those, not expecting the sharp pain there. After the next lick fell, he yelled out he was sorry, and his crying went from quiet to loud, with incoherent yelling as each of the last three spanks fell. But he stayed in place with his hands on the chair's seat throughout the entire thing.

Jessie kept a hand on Luke and put the strap on the table. He pulled Luke to standing, and hugged him. Luke cried for a good three minutes before he was able to even think about trying to stop. Before he was actually done crying, but while he was trying to stop, he pulled away from Jessie and stood on his own. He wiped at his face and after a few more seconds he said, "I'll p…put the strap away f….for you. You should g…go see Daisy so she d….don't worry, and I'll go check on Bo."

Jessie put a hand on Luke's shoulder and said, "It's okay to be a young'un a little bit longer Lucas. You don't have to turn into an adult over night."

Luke had his crying under control and shook his head. "You're right Uncle Jessie I could play at being a kid for longer, but I'm not. And I'm not turning into an adult over night. I've been headed that way for about a year now. You just haven't noticed."

Luke put his hand up and squeezed his uncle's hand for a second to show he didn't hold it against him, before turning, picking up the strap from the table, and taking it to Jessie's room. Jessie just stood there for a few seconds thinking about what Luke had said.

Jessie eventually turned and went out to find Daisy. He found her in the barn shoveling horse manure. He said, "Hey Daisy girl, how ya doin' out here?"

Daisy stopped and looked at Jessie. She put the shovel down and said with concern, "I'm okay… how are Bo and Luke?"

"They're a little sore I'm sure, but they'll both be just fine."

Daisy frowned and looked away. Jessie went up and put a hand on the side of her face. He said, "Look at me."

She did. He said, "You should have told me what they was plannin' instead of goin' along with the plan and helpin' out."

She nodded and said, "I'm sorry Uncle Jessie."

Jessie nodded and said, "And when Bo went missin' you should have called me straight away."

She nodded again. He said, "Just because you didn't put yourself in danger don't mean that I'm gonna overlook you lettin' your cousins put themselves in danger without tryin' to stop them or get them adult help."

She looked close to tears now and nodded. Jessie sighed and said, "I'm sorry honey, but I'm gonna have to whup you too for your part in this."

Daisy shook her head no and felt like she couldn't breath. She had only gotten spanked three other times her entire life. Jessie took the shovel out of her hands and leaned it against a wall. Then he took her hand and led her over to a bail of hay that was sitting on the barn floor. He sat down and pulled her over his lap. She started to cry quietly before it had even started. Jessie gave her ten swats over her skirt while she squirmed and cried. He quickly turned her over and sat her in his lap. She clung to him and cried more from emotions then from pain. He rocked her and said, "There, there now, it's gonna be fine. You're forgiven, and all you young'uns are the best kids a man could ever ask for."

In the house Luke finished putting the strap away and then went to the bedroom he shared with Bo. He walked in and saw Bo laying on his stomach with his head propped up on his hands. He was looking out the window and thinking. He turned to see Luke come in and then looked away. Luke went over and thought about sitting on the bed next to Bo, but instead decided to kneel down on the floor beside it. Luke said, "How ya doin' buddy?"

Bo shrugged and said, "Better then you by the sound of it."

"You still mad at me?"


"Are you plannin' to run off and try to nab some crooks the next time you see some?"

"No sir."

Luke smiled at that. He said, "Me neither."

Luke continued, "You plannin' on sulking all day?"


Luke chuckled. "What about your chores?"

"I'm too sore to even walk, so I can't do them."

Luke laughed out loud at that one, and poked Bo in the ribs. Bo laughed, rolled over onto his back, and put his hands up to defend himself. Luke said, "Yeah, you look all beat to hell."

Bo pouted and said, "I am."

Luke turned serious and said, "Hey Bo?"

Bo rolled to his side and propped his head up on his hand with one elbow on the bed. "Yeah Luke?"

Luke said, "Over the next six months… things might kinda change between us."

Bo just waited. Luke said, "I'm gonna try hard to do the right thing, and become more mature so that I'm ready for the Marines when the time comes. That might mean you and I could disagree more often."

Bo rolled his eyes and said, "Oh brother. You're already more serious then old man Shafer on a Sunday mornin' Luke. You're so mature some of my teachers could take lessons from you. Don't worry none though, I won't hold it against you any more then I already do."

Luke laughed again and pulled Bo over to give him some noogies. Bo complained loudly as his head was knuckled. He shoved Luke's hand away and said, "Knock it off!"

Luke did and gave him a smile. Bo lay back and looked at Luke seriously. He said quietly, "I'm gonna miss you somethin' awful when you're gone Luke."

Luke felt a wave of guilt and sadness. He pulled Bo into a hug and said, "I'm gonna miss you too, but you know what?"

Luke let him go and Bo said, "What?"

"I'll be leaving the General Lee in your care."

Bo sat up and said with shock and awe, "Really??!"

Luke nodded. "Someone's got to look after it while I'm away. Who better then my cousin."

Bo nodded and said, "I swear I'll take real good care of it."

Luke said, "If it's still in good condition when I get back it will be half yours, because possession is nine tenths of the law."

Bo looked sad again and said, "See. This is what I'm gonna miss."

Luke said, "Well you aren't getting rid of me for six whole months, so let's not dwell on it now."

Bo eventually nodded in agreement and lay back down. He said absently, "I think you'll make a good Marine. Always followin' orders and doin' the right thing. Makes me sick, but you'll be good at it."

Luke smiled and stood. "Speakin' of which, I'm gonna go get your backpack out of the car so you can start on your homework."

Bo groaned, but before he could complain, Luke said, "I don't want to hear it little Cousin." and he walked out to his car.

Over the next few days things settled down in to a more normal routine. Luke was less then happy to hear that Daisy had gotten spanked too, but he didn't make a scene about it, because he understood why Jessie had done it. He was happy to hear Cooter had only gotten grounded, but he was pretty sure Cooter's complaining was going to get old over the next month while he road the bus to school instead of his car.

On Sunday afternoon as they were all getting out of church Jessie surprised his kids by saying, "Daisy and Bo, you're gonna go spend the afternoon at Cooter's house. Luke and I need to go take care of somethin'."

Bo looked to Luke, but he looked as confused as the rest of them. Jessie waved at Cooter and his parents, and they headed over to them. Bo said with horror, "You mean I gotta stay in my Sunday clothes all afternoon?!"

Luke smacked the back of Bo's head before Cooter or his folks could hear him complaining. Bo glared at Luke, but then put on a smile to greet Cooter's parents. Jessie and Cooter's dad shook hands and all the kids could tell this had been prearranged. Soon Jessie and Luke were in Jessie's truck headed out of town. Luke turned and said, "What's this all about Uncle?"

Jessie said, "You'll see."

Luke knew his birthday was in two days, and figured this trip had something to do with that, so he stopped asking about it. Soon they were talking about one of their horses that seemed to be getting old, and the prospect of buying a new one.

Half an hour later they were in Atlanta, and Luke suspected that having lunch at a nice restaurant with his uncle was going to be part of his birthday gift. Uncle Jessie drove around for a few minutes, and then parked. Luke looked around for a restaurant close by, but then his eyes fell on something else. He turned to Jessie and said, "The recruiting office? What are we doin' here?"

Jessie turned towards Luke and said, "I been thinkin' about you a lot over the past few days Luke. Thinkin' about the things you've said about bein' an adult. Thinkin' about the way you've behaved over the past year. And I'm sorry to say I've been wrong. You may be seventeen still, but you are a man. I couldn't see it, because you've been my little boy for so long…. Maybe I just didn't want you to grow up. But you have, and I need to acknowledge that. I know now you're serious about joinin' the Marine core, and I ain't gonna try to stop ya'. I'll go sign the consent forms, and you can sign up today. I'll drive you to whatever weekend trainin' they want ya to do while you finish out school, and I'll support you in every way possible."

Luke had to wipe a couple of tears off his face. "Thank you Uncle Jessie. That means more to me then….. well anything else. No matter where I go or what I do in life, I'm always gonna carry a piece of Hazzard county with me, and I'm always gonna be proud that you raised me to be the man I am."

Jessie felt his own pride swelling at his nephew's words. Luke took a look at the office and then turned back to Jessie. He gave him a crooked smile and said, "But you were right the first time. I should wait until I'm done with high school. It will make Daisy and Bo fret less, and I can put all my energy into school. The Marines ain't goin' nowhere, and maybe I can do better on a placement test in six months. I will join up, I ain't changed my mind about that, but I realized wanting to join up so quick really is kinda childish."

Jessie laughed out loud at the irony and Luke joined him. After a few seconds Jessie turned to Luke with a smile and said, "I guess we drove all this way for nothin' then."

Luke shrugged and suggested, "We could go out for lunch."

Jessie nodded. "Lunch it is then."

Two days later, after school, Luke celebrated his eighteenth birthday with his friends and family around him. As he looked around the room at the people he loved, he knew that no matter where the Marines took him in life, he wouldn't be able to stay away from Hazzard for long. A year ago he couldn't wait to get out. Now, even though he still wanted to see some more of the world, he knew he would never find a place to live that would bring him as much happiness as this home did.

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