Into Each Life Some Rain Will Fall

It was 1975, coming up on summer. A year before the bicentennial celebrations which would fill the county with festivities and parades and distractions. A year before the local elections that would, as tradition would hold, be suspect and go unsuccessfully challenged. A year before the current group of seventeen year olds would be faced with the serious question of their futures. It was a year before the rains would fall away and give the farms a three-year struggle. It was a year before one young man would learn that sometimes happiness doesn't win out over all.

~~~~~

School was due to end in three more weeks; as usual, the kids were restless and inattentive. Most would rather be in school than home, planting and hoeing fields, but that didn't make studying any more attractive. Passing notes, whispering with friends, and hanging out was much more fun, much more worth their time. It was especially true for those for whom school was difficult, whose athletic skills were only enough to almost help the team, and whose passion cost more money than a young boy could honestly earn.

Fortunately for Bo, his uncle was not into farming for its honest dollar. Weekly trips to the family stills earned the them enough to live and leave plenty over for each member to enjoy his or her own desires.
Uncle Jesse spent his supporting the farm and the kids he cherished. Cousin Daisy spent hers on clothes, make-up, and trips to Atlanta with her friends. For Bo it was one thing -- cars. For the past seven years he and his cousin Luke had had one or another old car out by the barn, suffering through
repairs and body work until what had once been a heap of spare metal was a drivable, raceable, salable machine. The profits of one car went to pay for the work on the next, but Bo never minded. It was the car itself that was his passion, not the potential for profit. Now that his elder cousin was away in the Marine CORP, he had the work to himself -- and, he was pleased to point out, all the test driving.

No one to complain that he was spinning too fast, or leaving the road for less smooth passages. No one to know to where he drove, and for how long he was parked, out by the old mill or otherwise abandoned barns. Today, barely ten minutes past the last school bell, Bo was driving the latest car down Henderson Mill road. He was hoping to meet someone -- he'd been thinking about it all day, and would have left school hours ago except the person he was planning to meet would never let him get away with it. He'd threatened him already, the time Bo ditched school entirely to join him on his day off. Threatened to tell Uncle Jesse.

Bo knew he'd do it, too. So he suffered through six hours of school, then pushed a barely repaired engine to its limit. Impatience of youth, his lover teased him. Bo didn't care -- he didn't want to waste valuable time. Besides, he eventually had to head for home and finish his day's chores, and the longer he took driving from one place to the next, the less time he could spend spread out on a quilt under the trees, talking, laughing, and enjoying himself.

Especially enjoying himself. It was the best part, except sometimes for the talking. There was nothing quite like sex and nothing at all like the sex he'd discovered with this older man. But the comfort he found when they lay together talking was important as well. Since his cousin had left a year ago, he'd had no one to confide in and no one to turn to when he was too embarrassed or proud to ask his family. Roscoe encouraged him, answered his questions and explored with him the wonders of their world. He loved it -- he lived for it, there was nothing he wouldn't give up to have more of it. Even his cars. He'd said once he'd gladly walk everywhere, for the rest of his life, if it meant staying with his lover forever.

Bo was in love. He knew it, and though he hadn't told his lover he suspected Roscoe knew, as well. Bo knew why they never talked about it -- the first time they'd found each other standing alone, in the woods (Bo had been caught fishing a hundred yards past a no trespassing sign), Roscoe had warned him this was not a thing to talk about. He'd said it about talking to other people, but Bo knew somehow he meant for himself, too. As he headed for their rendezvous, he remembered the man telling him, serious even as he stared at Bo with hunger in his eyes.

~~~~~

Bo had recognised the look being given him and grinned eagerly, a virgin with men but not ignorant of his body's desires. He knew what that sort of look meant and felt only excitement.

Roscoe had stopped, speechless at Bo's reaction. Bo had set his fishing line down, tied to a nearby tree branch. He'd given Roscoe a cheerful 'howdy sheriff' and waited. Bo knew from the girls' talk that he looked good in his faded, tight jeans and faded yellow shirt and was glad to let the man look his fill. Roscoe had stepped forward, trying to say something about Bo's illegal presence on private land. Bo was prepared to take his warning, promise never to do it again, and then ask the other man if he'd like to stay a while.

Roscoe stopped, a few feet away. "Do you know what you're feeling, Bo?"

Startled, Bo simply nodded. Then he added, "Course I know. Ain't you feeling it?"

Roscoe swallowed, Bo found himself looking the man over and realised he liked the way he looked. Not just 'liked', liked, but liked. Bo saw that Roscoe had forgotten about the trespassing; from the expression on his face Roscoe had forgotten about quite a bit. Bo smiled. That was fine. At times thinking was very overrated.

He walked forward until he was inches away, then tilted his head and kissed the other man. His first thought was how neat, not to lean over to kiss a shorter girl. His second was not quite coherent, as he recognised just how much better this was. He pulled away, eyes wide. Roscoe was staring at him -- shocked, but Bo never thought about it being a mistake. He hadn't been wrong about that look of desire.

Roscoe didn't move. Bo frowned, "Was it okay?" Maybe he wasn't a good kisser, when it came to kissing men. Maybe Roscoe expected something different.

"What? Yes, it... no, I mean... We shouldn't do this, Bo."

"Why?" Bo moved away, hearing the rejection in his voice and, though unsure what he'd done wrong, hurt that he'd only had time for one kiss to convince him. "Was that wrong?" he'd asked, thinking that maybe men didn't kiss the same way a boy kissed girls.

"No!" Roscoe had answered instantly, grabbing his arm and pulling him close. He'd looked at Bo with a serious, almost sad expression. "Don't ever think this is wrong. It isn't. But most folks won't agree with you -- if anyone saw me kiss you they'd say--" He'd stopped, then started again in a milder tone. "They would think it wasn't right. They'd say it wasn't natural, that we were sinning against god. But we aren't -- you wouldn't be this way if god didn't want you to be."

Bo had stared at the other man, confused. He hadn't ever thought his feelings were wrong. Years back Uncle Jesse had assured him that, while rare, his feelings were not 'unnatural'. Jesse had counseled him to never approach another man, to avoid getting his nose broken. Bo had agreed to always wait for the other person to make his move -- and spent his teenage years chasing girls. So Bo had just shaken his head at Roscoe's words. "I didn't... did I kiss you wrong?" He'd blushed, and looked away briefly, but he'd had to know.

"Huh?" Roscoe had pulled back, but didn't let his arm go. "No, no you...." He'd smiled then, and Bo felt wonderful. "You did it real good."

"Then why can't we do it some more?"

Roscoe had sighed. "Bo, you don't understand."

"Because you're older? Because you're the sheriff? Because I'm under 18?" Bo was used to hearing excuses from the senior girls and knew how to get around them when he wanted. He knew that sometimes a person had to talk himself into something he wanted to do and Bo could be stubborn about not letting them get away.

Roscoe had nodded. "All of those. I can't... I don't believe I'm having this conversation with you. Bo, you just get out of here and don't mention this to anyone, okay? You do understand it's not the sort of thing you can talk about?" Roscoe had looked at him warily.

Bo had nodded, seriously. He had made no move towards the other man, letting him know he understood. Then he had pouted. "Can I kiss you once more?"

At first Roscoe hadn't answered, gaping at him again. Bo had tried to look cute, pleading, giving him his best 'irresistible me' look. When Roscoe still hadn't answered, Bo had moved in and taken his kiss.

That had led to other, enjoyable, amazing things. That second kiss had melted the other man's resolve, and soon Roscoe had wrapped his arms around him. Bo had done what he could figure out to do, and let his new lover do the rest. Bo learned more about the ways he could feel than he ever had before. Being held in strong arms, pressed down by a man's body, kissed by rough lips and brushed by a chin covered in a beard's shadow, all made Bo dizzy with unexplained sensations. He'd screamed, loud and often, and felt his body trembling from head to toe -- nothing whatsoever like the pleasant tumbling of a girl. When he lay, breathing hard, next to Roscoe, he'd felt himself shiver and knew one thing he wanted above all else -- to do this again.

~~~~~

As Bo drove, he grinned, remembering how that first time had soon led to several more, all arranged carefully by Roscoe. His lover was rightfully wary of anyone discovering their affair -- he could be fired,
sent out of the county, or worse, arrested. Bo would at best be packed off to a boy's school to be taught the error of his ways. While Bo knew Uncle Jesse would never do such a thing, he also knew that his uncle might not entirely approve of the affair. Jesse respected the law, with a few minor exceptions, and respected the honest lawmen of the county. But that didn't make him seek out friendships with them and Bo didn't know if Jesse would appreciate his relationship with Roscoe. Jesse had always spoken of Roscoe with respect, as he did any other honest man, but still Bo didn't think his uncle would be entirely pleased.

Luckily, for all Jesse seemed to keep track of his charges' every move and every whereabout, he didn't seem to realise with whom Bo was spending time. Anyhow, Bo had promised Roscoe never to tell, and so he'd simply not said anything about it. Whatever Uncle Jesse might have thought, Roscoe was dead set against Jesse's knowing. As long as he said nothing, Bo found he was not in conflict between the two. He didn't think about how long they would be able to maintain their relationship under such conditions -- twice Roscoe had tried to bring it up, and twice Bo had distracted him with more interesting things.

Bo wasn't entirely stupid. He knew that eventually things would have to change. He'd be expected to get serious about a girl, marry her and raise a family. He'd already decided against that -- but he wasn't sure that he'd be able to live with his lover anytime soon. Maybe once he'd graduated high school and was legally an adult, Roscoe would change his mind. If he moved into town, they could see each other more easily and more often -- but whenever he tried to explain that, Roscoe would only say it wouldn't work, and go on to distract Bo with more interesting things.

Today Bo was set on not saying a single word about it. He'd been thinking about summer, and no matter what might happen a year from now, he had all summer with no other plans than to be with Roscoe. And finish his car in time for the county fair races, and help tend the farm as always. But those didn't count as real plans. Bo smiled. He'd be doing those things no matter who he was seeing. It occurred to him that he wouldn't be able to go to the fair with Roscoe as he had done last year with Sue Ellen. Maybe they'd be able to get together afterwards, though, and spend the long evenings together.

He pulled off the road and followed a clear route through the brush. Up ahead was a spot where he could park, hidden from the road, then walk about 300 yards to a small, secluded area where he and Roscoe often met. Roscoe's police car would be off in the other direction, parked behind an abandoned squatter's shack. Roscoe was only just off-duty -- another reason why Bo couldn't have met him earlier in the day. Sometimes dating a policeman was frustrating.

Bo left his car parked and headed to meet Roscoe. He wanted to tell him about the science project he'd turned in last week; the grades had been given out today and he'd done much better than he'd expected. He and Roscoe had thought up dozens of ideas for the semester-end project, and when Bo had picked one on the effects of water erosion, Roscoe had met him a few days later with a couple books from the GSU library in Atlanta. Working through the books had been difficult, even with the two of them reading through them together -- sometimes a hindrance, but eventually they'd picked out enough of the scientific terms and common sense concepts that Bo had been able to put his project together with confidence.

Ms. Carol had been suitably impressed after Bo's oral presentation proved he hadn't taken liberties. He knew Roscoe would be proud of him -- he was forever after Bo to pay attention, do his homework, and stop skipping class. Bo thought Roscoe could get a little tedious about it, but didn't argue with the man. Not after he'd said 'If I find your schoolwork is suffering, I'd feel responsible and would stop seeing you.' Tedious, and frustrating. Bo whistled as he headed through the woods towards his lover.

Roscoe was sitting on the ground, legs out and hands back, waiting for him. Bo grinned and rushed over, landing across the other man's legs and knocking him back. Bo attached himself to his lover's mouth, kissing him deep before letting Roscoe push him away to say hello.

"Bo, someday you're going to kill me doing that," Roscoe teased him.

"But what a way to go!" Bo re-attached himself, before letting Roscoe breathe again. Roscoe held him tight for a moment, then rolled them over and tossed Bo onto the ground. Bo grinned up at him. "I got an A!"

"You did? On what?"

Bo was thrilled at the gleam in Roscoe's eyes -- his lover was honestly proud of him. He stayed where he was, looking up at Roscoe. "On my water project. Ms. Carol said it was the best I'd ever done. Wanted to know how I came up with the idea -- told her I just got inspired." He stopped and gave his lover an appreciative look. "Told her I'd borrowed books from GSU and that's how I got so much information. She said it showed real 'motivation'. I'm gonna pass with a B, now!" Bo couldn't lie still; he wiggled a bit then sat up. "She wanted to know why it took me this long to show any sign of intelligence. I told her I borrowed that, too."

Roscoe laughed. "That's good, real good, Bo! I guess you're waiting to celebrate, now?"

"Yeah!" Bo launched himself forward again, high speed. He kissed every bit of skin he could find, and removed whatever clothing he encountered to create more bared skin. Before long he had Roscoe naked, on his back, and laughing again. He knew Roscoe would tease him about not taking his time, but Bo didn't care. He'd let the older man do it his way next, after Bo got the energy out of his system. Some of it, anyway. He listened, delighted, to Roscoe's laughter as the other man let him first have his way, then rolled Bo onto his back. Roscoe teased him, making him laugh and then writhe as the touches became more arousing. Soon he grabbed his lover tight and they left the playing far behind.

Bo opened his eyes to look up at the clear blue sky. The sun was bright, shining above the shorter trees on its way down. Roscoe was holding him, lying on his side, one arm tight across Bo's chest. He looked over, and saw his lover smiling at him. He returned the smile. "This is wonderful."

"Yeah, it is." Roscoe looked away briefly, and said nothing more.

"Roscoe, what's wrong?"

Giving him a squeeze, Roscoe shook his head. "Nothing, Bo. Just tired." He gave Bo a wicked grin. "You take a lot out of me."

"I didn't hear you protesting," Bo teased him back. Roscoe laughed, then lay silent again. For a few minutes they didn't talk, and Bo felt as if times like these would last for an eternity. Then his lover hesitantly broke the silence.

"Bo, I--" Roscoe stopped, looked away again, then held Bo tight. "I'm gonna have to leave Hazzard next Wednesday."

Bo sat up fast, alarmed at the expression on his lover's face. "Why? What's--"

Roscoe spoke quickly, "Now there's nothing wrong, Bo. I'm going up to Alabama for a training course -- it ain't no big deal." He pulled Bo back down gently, placing one hand on his chest. "I'll be back end of May."

Letting out a whoosh of air, Bo glared at Roscoe. "What'd you do that to me for? Scarin' me clean out of my socks..." He grinned. "Well, if I'd been wearin' any, you would have." He gave Roscoe an unworried, lazy smile. He could survive two weeks alone. Maybe.

Roscoe must have understood the look in his eyes, for the other man laughed and said, "You'll be getting all your school work done, won't you?"

Bo sighed, and held his lover close. "And my chores, and finish tuning the engine on Daisy's car, and probably clean out the barn and repaint the outhouse...."

"And what'll you do on Thursday?"

Bo answered the accusation by rolling over on top of Roscoe and kissing him on the collarbone. "I'll have to give you something to remember me by."

"Bo Duke, if you give me a hickey I'll throw you in the creek."

~~~~~

One year later, sitting together in another small clearing, leaning in Roscoe's embrace, Bo thought about that day. They had made love again before going on their way, and spent the next few days preparing for the two weeks apart. Bo had been convinced he wouldn't survive, after the first day. He'd demonstrated just how desperate he'd been, when Roscoe had returned home, exhausting the other man until they'd fallen asleep under the trees. They'd awoken to stars, and each hurried home. The rest of the summer had been filled with similar days and nights, meeting secretly and near spending enough time together. Facing his family and friends and hoping they would not guess who he loved, hoping someday he might be able to love openly.

The school year had been much harder. He'd had to spend more time on his schoolwork, and the rains had begun dying away in early spring. Jesse had stubborn hope for that season's planting and gave his nephew extra chores to help the farm produce its crop. Bo had often seen Roscoe only once a week, sometimes less, and the usual teenage turmoil of being faced with the adult world to come had not made anything easier.

Now he was faced with the proposition that he did not know what he was going to do with his life. He had plans, and dreams, some of which would wait for Luke's return later next year. He'd been trying to figure out how he would tell his cousin about Roscoe -- never able to keep secrets from Luke, he didn't consider being able to do so now. Maybe by then things would have changed, and the secrets would no longer matter.

Bo glanced up at his lover's face, evening's shadows starting to crawl onto his chin. He saw the sorrow in Roscoe's eyes, and suddenly he knew there would be no sharing of secrets, there would be no opening of hearts. He rolled over and wondered if it would be tonight, or if they would have the last two weeks of school before Bo would take up his new role as an adult, working on Jesse's farm and doing what was expected of a grown man. He knew there wouldn't be another summer together, he hadn't even had to ask Roscoe to know what his lover would say.

Lucky beyond hope that they had managed the time together without suspicion, once Bo was out of school folks would start to notice his doings, notice when he spent a half day out of sight on the Sheriff's days off. It wouldn't take long for them to wonder why. Bo looked up at Roscoe and watched him for a moment as his lover gazed out at the woods around them.

"Roscoe?"

The other man looked over. "Yeah?"

Bo saw it in his eyes. He tried to smile, found he couldn't. "You wanna make love one last time? Or do you wanna go?"

For a long moment Roscoe didn't say a word. Then he shook his head. "How did you know?" Bo shrugged. Roscoe looked away as if gauging the time by the shadows. "I reckon...."

Bo didn't want to hear it. He knew what was coming and didn't want to hear the words. He stood up fast, scouted around for his clothing. He didn't look over when Roscoe said his name, didn't look up at all until he had his jeans and boots back on. His lover was standing before him then, also half dressed again.

"Bo, I'm sorry. You knew we weren't going to last."

Bo couldn't keep his eyes from watering. "I didn't think it was gonna be today. I didn't think it'd be so soon. Roscoe... I love you." He wondered if it would help. But from Roscoe's startled reaction he knew it
wouldn't. Had he ever said those words out loud before? Hadn't he ever told his lover how he felt? Bo shook his head. Maybe he hadn't.

"Bo, I don't... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't want to hurt you."

"I know. But it hurts anyway." Bo picked up his shirt and held it, twisted in one hand. "Now if you'll excuse me," he turned away.

A hand touched his arm. "Bo, wait."

He turned back, not sure he wanted to but more sure he didn't want to go. "What?"

Roscoe stepped up and kissed him. Long, tender, until Bo had nearly forgotten that he was supposed to be leaving. Then Roscoe broke away and the look on the man's face told him all over again that it was over. Bo turned and ran.


Next Story: Stepping Backwards