"The Last Straw" - summary: What if the Dukes had sued Boss Hogg? this short story explains how it could have come about, and what might have resulted; point of departure is "Witness: Jesse Duke." Don't worry, nobody dies, but it's close, for them to consider it.
A/N: I had some time after finishing my masters, so I wrote this little AU. I grew to hate litigation after trying it a few times. I prefer being nice and talking things out, and couldn’t act like some clients wanted. Even estates, I didn’t like doing as much by the time I started toward the 2nd career I’ll have now. However, obviously, there’s a *lot* of stuff where the Dukes could have sued. And eventually won.
I have no time to develop this idea in depth, and less than no interest in thinking about litigation :- ). However, I encourage others to do the research and come up with a longer, realistic story about the Dukes successfully suing Boss Hogg. I think it’d only be because of a death, or in this case, Coy and Vance starting it, whereas Bo and Luke would respect Jesse’s wishes not to sue. (Though Jesse might sue if one of his kid died because of Boss.) Daisy, well, she’s feisty, so if Jesse was hurt, and Coy and Vance were there …well, I couldn’t stand to have anyone die, so I wrote it this way.
By the way, the time frame might appear off, but it isn’t. There are over three months between seasons. The one where Rosco sues for the accident could take three months, and one can eliminate the break between seasons four and five, pushing episodes back. Or, more likely is the Dukes and Rosco went through what’s called binding arbitration in that episode; a judge doesn’t do a whole trial, lots of depositions, etc., and it’s agreed both sides will abide by the result. This is odd for a $50,000 case, but it could happen.
Here, there is a suit. Takes place after “Jesse Duke: Witness.”
The Last Straw
Jesse Duke sighed. He’d been recovering in the hospital and at home for over a month. He’d gotten his sight back, but it had been a huge ordeal, what with the rescue and the crooks shooting him. He understood why his nephews and niece had done what they had.
He didn’t have to like it, but, as he remarked, “I understand why you did what you did. I just wish you an’ Coy an’ Vance had thought it over more. I mean, you didn’t go after Rosco when I was laid up tryin’ to find out what that bounty hunter was up to.”
“Come on, Uncle Jesse, you know that was different!” Bo shouted in their modest farmhouse. “They knew you were temporarily blind in this case, they was sworn to protect you, and then they just left like they didn't even care! I don’t care if you did moonshine together, you know that’s not a friend!”
“Easy now, Bo,” Luke Duke, his cousin, said, holding out his hands, “let the man have his say.”
“Yeah, Bo, he said he’s okay with the lawsuit,” their cousin Daisy remarked.
Bo turned and fumed before looking back at his cousins. He didn’t want to accept it, but he knew shouting like that was wrong, too. He’d been brought up better than that. “You’re right. Sorry, Uncle Jesse,” he said grudgingly.
“Well, they did say I almost died. And, we’re always tellin’ him he can avoid us turnin’ him in by makin’ him give to charity,” Jesse reasoned.
“But, he could never give enough to pay it back if a life was lost,” Daisy finished for him. “That’s why I convinced Coy an’ Vance to go see a lawyer after a few days, once them fellas was captured.” Bo and Luke scoffed at the fact Daisy had told them, feeling they should be protecting her, but she didn’t pay attention. “Coy an’ Vance’ll be back to do whatever it takes.” The other cousins were helping a sick relative. “The lawyer’s doin’ a great job, too.”
Jesse had to chuckle as he put away his breakfast dishes, then gingerly started toward the barn. “Doc says I can do chores now, so let’s get to work.” The others went out to help as he continued. “I never sued J.D. ‘cause he and I was good pals in our moonshinin’ days, and I don’t believe in suin’. I always tried to teach you,” he said as he collected eggs from the hens, “to always be there for friends. I guess I can see why you made a snap decision like that.” He paused with an egg in his hand, and muttered, “In fact, I reckon if it was one of you, or Coy or Vance, even, though I didn’t raise ‘em, who’d been in the hospital for weeks, or…worse…” he added lowly before continuing in a normal voice. “If that was the case, after I thought about it a while, maybe I’da done the same. ‘Course, J.D. an’ me, we’re close enough he woulda settled out of court real fast.”
The others weren’t so sure – or, at least, didn’t know if it would be legitimate, but they didn’t say anything.
Bo turned to him. “Think we should tell him about the one lawyer?”
Jesse asked what Bo meant, and Luke explained. “Yeah, there was one lawyer plantin’ phony evidence on us and we had to do stuff to catch him an’ report him to the state Bar.”
“Yeah, then another lawyer was hired by Boss Hogg a few days ago, just ‘cause he heard about the suit and he figured he could make a ton of money,” Bo added.
“He’s not from here, he didn’t know about Boss Hogg,” Daisy interjected as Jesse and the others continued their chores.
“Yeah, and then Enos goes and blabs about how the guy’s gonna have to be real unethical, and the guy quit almost the minute his name went on record in the case,” Luke said with a laugh. The others joined quickly.
“Yeah, so now ol’ Boss is tryin’ to do defend his own case,” Daisy added.
The suit wasn’t just about Boss Hogg refusing to protect Jesse, but the elder Duke hadn’t looked hard into it. Indeed, it covered everything that took place within the statute of limitations. Meaning Coy, Vance, and Daisy sued for a few things - false imprisonment, for Boss Hogg’s illegal use of their phone line, and many other things. Their lawyer convinced them to keep adding things on; which turned out to be a good idea after Boss Hogg’s first lawyer turned out to be acting so crooked.
Coy and Vance hadn’t lived in Hazzard for as long, so they had been more pushy about trying to sue. The others figured they would ease Jesse into that fact.
Once Jesse started to realize how much the case involved, he was a little more miffed, but still, he agreed to testify about the situations for his nephews and niece – he simply didn’t want his name attached to the suit, except where it concerned the time when he was blind. The lawyer said that wasn’t necessary, so his name was kept off; though other defendants were added, and a few defendants sued each other. It was a big, fat mess.
Boss Hogg could only delay for so long. After a loss in court, and numerous appeals – which not only cause the case to be confirmed, but caused him and his nephew Hughie, who had been joined in the suit, to have even more decisions against them, the day had come. Over two years after the first suit had been filed, there were no more appeals.
Boss Hogg shook his head sadly as he hung up the phone. It would not be a Merry Christmas for him this year. “Rosco, it’s official. There’s a recall vote on. This time next month, I’m gonna be thrown out of office. Ain’t nobody who’d vote for me as a janitor now, it’s been over all the newspapers so much.” He held his head in his hands. “Why’d you have to be such a numbskull an’ blurt out in court that I’d asked you to lie?”
“Well, that lawyer was confusing me,” Rosco explained, “with all that talk about torts and stuff. I thoughts torts were desserts or somethin’. He didn’t ask easy questions.”
“Rosco, you’d have a hard time if he asked you your name,” Boss Hogg groused. “And, you couldn’t find one good character witness for me?”
“Well, you said you needed character witnesses, so when I couldn’t find anyone who would say you had a good character…”
harrumphed, just like that day at trial. That day when a character witness was
called to testify, and Boss Hogg asked, “And what would you say about my
character?” The witness had declared, right there on the stand, that, “You,
Boss Hogg, are the biggest liar and swindler in
Rosco thought for a second, and said, “Besides, them Dukes still tried to protect you last spring when that guy you put away tried to come back for you.” He thought for a second. “Well, actually, they didn’t just try, they succeeded, didn’t they?”
“Rosco, don’t you see? That suit set off a chain of events that’s destroyed all the organized crime in these here parts. If I could go back to civilian life and be a crook it’d be one thing, but now?” With a large frown, he moaned, “Now, all them Dukes left me with is our home, and a lifetime supply of food for Lulu an’ me.”
“That’s still pretty much, considerin’ how you eat.”
“The Dukes are selling my bank, they’re selling my companies…there’s even a rumor that a Duke could be the next county commissioner.”
“You mean…. Why, if one of them ran things, this county would be so clean, you could eat off of it.” Boss groaned at Rosco’s mix of metaphors, but Rosco thought it was because of the mention of food. “Sorry, guess I shouldn’t have mentioned food.”
Rosco thought for a second. He’d never liked being 100% dishonest; sure, parts were fun. Maybe he liked it 50% of 50%, he thought with a chuckle. But, back in his honest days, before Boss Hogg stole his pension…boy, had Boss blown his stack when the lawyer got Rosco to admit that! That was what had gotten Rosco so confused that he started telling the truth even though Hogg had said not to.
But, there was a side to Rosco that thought of it as just a game. After all, he’d learned in church that none of this material stuff was going with them, anyway.
“You know, Boss, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, havin’ a Duke run things.”
“Rosco, that’s a terrible thing to say. My whole life has been dishonesty, and now I don’t know what to do since there won’t be any more.”
The Duke family entered Boss Hogg’s office in the back of the Boar’s Nest, where Boss Hogg and Rosco were. “J.D., we need to talk,” Jesse said lowly.
“Yeah, what do you want?” Boss Hogg lowered his head, and said, “I don’t got no more. You cleaned me out. That’s what the jury said you was owed. An’, now you got it all.”
Jesse sighed. “Look, when you kept pullin’ shady things, even after gettin’ yourself sued, I figured this might be just the thing to teach you a lesson. But, from what Rosco was tellin’ us the last couple days, we think we see the real problem now.”
“Boss, you’re addicted to dishonesty,” Bo mentioned.
Rosco scoffed. “Oh, hush; he’s not addicted to it, he just can’t get it out of his system.”
“Rosco, that’s what it means,” Luke countered.
“Well, if you Dukes want to run the county, just…find Boss a job where he won’t hafta be honest,” Rosco insisted. “Or, is this some kinda invention you Dukes are pullin’?”
“I think you mean intervention, Rosco,” Daisy corrected him.
“We ain’t tryin’ that. We just want to help him find something he can do,” Bo said.
you remember that college coach, over in
“That’s why we’re here. To help you see how you can change. It’s the Christmas spirit. It’s gonna take a complete change of heart. Just like the preacher says,” Jesse said.
“And, don’t worry, Rosco. Even if you lose the next race for sheriff, you’ll be more than welcome to stick around as a police officer if y’all mend your ways when I become commissioner,” Daisy announced. Sheriff was an elected position, but the commissioner had the right to remove the sheriff – as Hogg had done a few times, only to restore him.
Rosco would go along with it – the Dukes had promised to restore the pension. But, he was still perturbed. “What makes you think you can be Commissioner, Daisy?”
“Hey, there ain’t nothin’ you can do that a woman can’t,” Daisy said adamantly.
“Yeah, but…what about when we have Sadie Hogg Day, and the women take the men’s jobs? Who’s gonna take yours?”
“One of the boys. Unless you’d rather one of the boys run now,” Daisy said with a smirk, turning to Hogg. “They say a Duke’s sure to win, after how we erased the corruption with what we did. An’, I’m sure you’d rather have me than them.”
“Ergh…well, why can’t you run, Jesse?” Hogg pleaded.
“Sorry, J.D., it’s time to let the young’uns have a chance. Maybe they’ll run things better than we did. Our generation made mistakes. Did a lot right, like honesty and integrity and love for family an’ such. But, a lot of mistakes, too,” he finished sadly. “I didn’t like it, when I heard about the suit. Especially when they kept pilin’ things on. It was hard enough knowin’ they’d found a lawyer who’d do it pro bono an’ only accept a percentage if they won.” That was one other reason he’d never sued; he’d been too proud to ever accept anything for free. “But, I got to thinkin’; a man like you, you never had to take responsibility for your actions.”
“See, Boss,” Rosco interrupted, “I told you this was one of them intercessions.”
“Will you knock it off,” Hogg clamored.
Ignoring the spark of noise, Jesse added, “I didn’t wanna go through the trouble of suin’. But, while we shouldn’t go just suin’ at the drop of a hat, well…I told them, when it almost cost me my life, I could understand. We could tell you was sincere about not wantin’ people hurt. But, at the same time, maybe the jury was right in findin’ you was totally reckless, an’ Hughie was malicious, when it came to what y’all did.”
Boss tried to make himself sound better. “Well, what about your boys’ drivin’? I mean, yeah, it never got nobody hurt; and, they only did it in town ‘cause of some of my men…” Hogg sat again, and held his head in his hands. “What can I do where I can just have everything I want and get lots of money and live in peace?”
“That ain’t the way life works, Boss,” Bo said bluntly.
“Yeah, you shoulda learned that long ago,” Luke said.
“Now, boys…I think he’s more likely to listen if we’re nice.”
Daisy agreed. “Yeah, I can just hear the preacher sayin’, ‘He knows he’s a sinner, he’s just gotta be convinced there’s some good in not bein’ one before he’ll reptent.’”
“Well, we’re all sinners,” Jesse reminded her. “It’s just that some’s saved sinners and some’s lost sinners who ain’t received that forgiveness yet. But, you’re right, he’s gotta see we care, an’ we’ll help him through this. Otherwise, it’ll just seem like a buncha empty words. ‘Cause the ones who are saved, they gotta have a change of heart so they don’t wanna sin no more.”
“Well put,” Bo said softly.
“That’s why we celebrate Christmas. And, maybe that’s one reason God came to this earth like He did. It’s a little easier to humble yourself, knowin’ He was humble. ‘Course, I still got quite a bit of Duke pride myself.” Jesse couldn’t help but snicker. “He’s still workin’ on me. But, at least I can go to Him for help, ‘cause He’s my friend,” Jesse mused before turning back to Boss Hogg. “But, have I ever done wrong to you? Didn’t I always turn the other cheek when you tried all that stuff you tried to pull?”
Boss Hogg knew that Jesse had. And, he’d taken advantage every way imaginable. The way he’d treated them was awful. He could see a difference in that versus the vicious, almost vengeful lawsuit. Their lawyer had sounded tougher than the Dukes ever had.
“I just keep thinkin’…” Boss Hogg muttered. “It seems like there’s nothin’ left.”
“Sure, there is, Boss. You just gotta mean it, if you repent,” Daisy told him.
“If you wanna talk alone…” Jesse offered.
Boss Hogg finally agreed. What did he have to lose? Besides, though the Dukes didn’t know it, he had a new worry. Some things had come out about his involvement in things the federal government was interested in; he’d have to testify to avoid prison time.
The lawsuit had forced Enos to take sides and testify for the Dukes, ending his time as a deputy – they’d rehired Cletus to handle his duties. Enos brought flowers to the new county commissioner about a month into her first term of office.
“Miss Daisy…I mean, Miss Commissioner…I mean…whoo, I still can’t figure out what to call y’all,” Enos said apologetically. “I mean, well…you’ll always be Miss Daisy to me, but with that title you got…”
Daisy rose from
her office chair and smiled. “Well, I doubt y’all would take flowers to just
“That’s true, Miss Daisy. Boss wouldn’t have appreciated that. Any news where he is?”
“The Feds got him in the witness protection program, honey. I ain’t allowed to say no more.” She couldn’t help but laugh as she said, “Bet it’s on a cruise ship, though. They always got lots of food.” Enos agreed.
Bo and Luke ran in excitedly. “Enos, how’d it go?” Luke asked hastily.
“Boys, I just now got here, on account of my car wouldn’t start,” Enos said nervously.
“Yeah, how’d what go?” Daisy asked. “What’s got y’all so excited?”
“Oh…ah…your plan to bring tourists in,” Luke said, trying to recover. Daisy seemed to be satisfied with that answer.
“Yeah, now that we don’t got Boss’s phony speed traps, the economy needs a way to make money, so of course, Daisy’s had all those ideas for attracing legitimate tourism, and Enos was gonna volunteer, right, Enos?” Bo asked.
“Oh, right,” Enos said gratefully. “’Course I was. Whatever it was I was gonna volunteer for, ‘course I was gonna do it.”
Rosco came in at that moment, and complained, “Daisy…ijit, Commissioner…no, that don’t sound right, either?”
“I just call her Commissioner Daisy, Rosco,” Enos told him.
“Well, whatever you’re called, you know that Mayberry set you’re havin’ built? I heard someone say I was another Barney Fife. I ain’t gonna hafta impersonate him, am I?”
“Nah, you’re perfect just the way you are,” Daisy said with a laugh.
“Good, ‘cause I…” He thought a moment. “Wait a minute. Was that a compliment?”
Luke had to laugh – not having Boss Hogg around was making it easier to appreciate him now, especially since they knew Boss Hogg was not only okay, he’d repented. They’d seen little signs before Boss Hogg left that he had truly received Christ’s forgiveness for his sin, and had received a change of heart. “Look at it this way, Rosco, with lines like that, it’ll make you feel like Boss is still here in Hazzard.”
“Yeah…I do miss my fat little buddy. But, I’m just glad the government’s helpin’ him.” Enos and the Dukes kept looking at him. “What?”
“Well…actually, you wanna race to Hazzard Pond for the fun of it?” Luke wanted to know.
Bo realized that Enos wanted to be alone. “Well, yeah, why don’t we do that. Come on.”
“No way, my racing days are over. I wanted to talk to the commissioner about somethin’ else. So, git; she’s a busy lady, you know,” the sheriff insisted.
The Dukes rolled their eyes. Meanwhile, Enos continued, unfazed, as Daisy got excited. A year and more of courting was coming down to this, and he’d get tongue tied as it was if he didn’t continue. “Well, Miss Commissioner Daisy, what I’m wantin’ to say…well, I’d love to be able to be Mr. Commissioner Daisy…that is, I couldn’t be commissioner, I wouldn’t make a good one of them. But, I’d like to be your Miss Commissioner, ‘cept I’m a male, so I guess I can’t be that, either. Well, what I’m tryin’ to say is…”
“Oh, come on, Enos, just say it!” Daisy said, nearly shouting with joy.
“Well, I-I guess I don’t totally know how. I mean, we’ve really had a great courtship an’ all, and I love you, but…phew, that next step’s a biggie. Oh, possumonagumbush, Daisy, I just can’t seem to get it out. You know I wanna marry you, I know I wanna marry you, but the words just ain’t comin’?”
“Then how ‘bout I just say ‘Yes,’” Daisy suggested.
“You mean it! Phew. I’m glad I don’t hafta ask,” Enos proclaimed. The other guys joined in chuckling at the innocent comment as Enos and Daisy kissed.
Bo and Luke walked out of the Boar’s Nest, ready to do some more errands. “Well, cuz, guess we got a weddin’ to help plan,” Bo remarked.
“Yeah. Sure woulda liked to have seen the look on Boss’s face.”
“Well, he got to see Daisy elected, anyway. Never thought I’d see a man eat for twelve hours straight.”
Luke concurred. To him, it didn’t seem the same. “You know, we was runnin’ around and jumpin’ so much…when I challenged Rosco to that race, it was more than just for old time’s sake, an’ so Enos could be alone with Daisy.”
“Kind of miss it, huh?” Bo asked with a smile.
“’Course I do.” They waved ‘hi’ to Cooter, and Bo continued. “Hazzard had to get cleaned up sometime. Mighta been another fifteen years till it was, otherwise, so, it’s good it happened now. But, yeah, I kinda miss havin’ all them people to catch, all them bad guys comin’ through. Ol’ Boss was a magnet, wasn’t he?”
“You got that right. “ They talked a bit more as they shopped, and Luke finished by saying, “I reckon we could go back on the racing circuit, long as someone was around to help Uncle Jesse. Or, we could try to talk Daisy into lettin’ up on our probation an’ makin’ us deputies” Bo frowned. “Yeah, from what Daisy talks about at the dinner table, I don’t think the county payroll could take two more.”
“Actually, I was thinkin’ how we’d be under Rosco’s command,” Bo said with a laugh.
Luke and Bo started putting groceries into the car, and got in, as Luke spoke. “That, too. I reckon it’s just as well. We did quite a lot for the people of Hazzard. We’re finally gettin’ the nice, long rest we deserve. Won’t be no more guns pulled on us or nothing.’”
He let the
weariness of thinking about all those problems drift away, as he pondered the
fun they’d had. It had been exhilarating, and he could see why his younger
cousin, who hadn’t been through
Still, there was one thing that they could do, even in peace, that thrilled both of them, without having to worry about any bad guys. “’Course, that don’t stop us from makin’ those big jumps over Hazzard Pond.”
“You said it,” Bo declared with a broad grin. “Let’s hit it!” And, with that, the General Lee pulled out of the parking space, and once they were in the open road, sped through the countryside, ready to fly again.