Stepping Backwards

Just as he was climbing into bed, Roscoe was startled by the rap on his bedroom window. He hurried over to it and slid the window up, wondering just who in their right mind would be knocking -- on the window -- at this hour.

Bo stepped out of the shadows and looked in at him.

"Bo Duke! What the blazes are you doing here?"

"Congratulations on the election," Bo said.

That took him aback. Only for a moment, then Roscoe glared at him. "You snuck over here to tell me congratulations? What are you up to?" He looked around, trying to see into the yard if anyone else -- namely Luke, or Daisy -- were sneaking around.

"Nothing," Bo said, and he sounded as innocent as he looked. Which was to say -- he was about as innocent as a man could be.

Even if he was sneaking up to his ex-lover's window at night.

Roscoe wasn't sure what to make of it, so he asked again. "What are you doing here?" They hadn't spoken much to each other in the years since that summer. They'd never been alone where either of them could have said something. It put a damper on anything Roscoe could say, when folks were always listening in.

Which might explain Bo being here, now.

"Just wanted to tell you that." Bo looked nervous, then, and added, "I voted for you."

"You voted against Ledbetter, you mean," Roscoe said, bitterly.

But Bo shook his head. "I'm here, ain't I?"

And that said a lot more than Roscoe thought it deserved. Too much had changed.

"You shouldn't be," Roscoe said, feeling out of sorts at this unexpected visit. "Shouldn't be sneaking around at night -- liable to get yourself shot, someone thinking you're a coyote."

"Roscoe," Bo began, and from his hurt, confused tone Roscoe knew he was going to hate the question that came next. Sure enough, Bo asked, "Why're you working with him, anyway?"

It should have been an easy question to answer. Lord knew Roscoe had asked himself the same thing a hundred times, and told himself why he had no choice, over and over. Roscoe had to look away, before he could answer. "It's the only thing I can do," he said. "All I've got left is what I can take for myself." His fist clenched, grabbing at the air as though it were the money he desired.

"But why Boss Hogg?" Bo asked, and he sounded like that seventeen year old kid, betrayed again.

Roscoe gave him a sharp look. He hadn't wanted this. Not now, not ever. "Who else has any power in this county?"

"You didn't used to care about money."

He felt his expression grow hard. "People change."

Bo was frowning, now, and looking like maybe he was beginning to believe it. That Roscoe wasn't the person he'd been. "That's really what you want, then?"

I can't have what I want, Roscoe thought. Everything he'd ever wanted, was lost. His retirement. The only person he'd ever really loved. Even if he was standing right here, in front of him. The day would come when Boss Hogg went legit, before two men could live together peacefully in Hazzard county.

A thousand times it had been on his tongue to ask. Run away with me. Let's go to Atlanta where nobody knows, and nobody cares. But the Duke Farm barely supported the Dukes, and Roscoe knew that one pair fewer hands working would mean it couldn't even do that.

Without his retirement, Roscoe had to stay and work. Get enough money any way he could, so they could afford to leave at all. And in doing so, he'd have to be someone that Bo couldn't respect, and couldn't love.

"It's what I'm doing, ain't it?" Roscoe turned away from the window, ready to turn off the lamp and get back into bed. He didn't hear anything more, and after a moment he turned around. Bo was gone.

Roscoe climbed into bed and knew he wasn't going to sleep.


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