“JOSEPH!” shouted Ben from the bottom of the stairs.
“I’m coming, Pa,” the reply was shouted back from the first room on the right at the top of the stairs.
“You’re going to be late for school if you don’t hurry up!” Ben yelled.
Joe’s alarm clock just began blaring and Joe slung his arm across to the other side of the bed to turn it off. He hated the infernal thing…always blaring out the funny little ditty… ‘One for four, four for one, this we guarantee…It’s on this land we staked our claim...’ God how he hated that tune.
“I’m almost there Pa,” shouted Joe as he crammed his legs into the waistband of his pants and jerked them up. He quickly pulled open the top drawer of his dresser where Hop Sing always placed his clean shirts, in neat little stacks, but this morning there was none of his cotton button up shirts that he normally wore.
“Damn,” muttered Joe, turning suddenly to look over his shoulder to be sure that his father had not sneaked up behind him and had overheard his cuss word. “Whew,” smiled Joe as he glanced at his reflection in the mirror.
Joe turned first to his right and then his left, admiring the shape of you body. He held his arms up and flexed his muscles, grinning from ear to ear in satisfaction. Taking both hands and placing one on each side of his head, he smoothed down his curls. He liked the new mousse that he had found at Wally World at the mall in Virginia City; it was just what he needed to tame his unruly curls and to make him look cool, like that movie star, The Fonz.
Rummaging around in the drawer for a shirt, Joe frowned, nothing but the dreadful tacky, out-of-date Izod pullovers with the funny green alligator on the left front side. Joe sighed; well at least it was green.
Joe heard the step squeak a sure sign that his father was on his way up. Grabbing his boots, Joe ran from the room, nearly bumping into Adam in his haste.
“Hey Little Buddy, slow down,” laughed the dark eyed handsome older brother that Joe had heard some of his female friends refer to as a real dreamboat.
Joe glanced up at his brother and quickly gave Adam the once over. He supposed his oldest brother could be considered good looking, considering his age.
“Joe?” Adam muttered, wondering why his kid brother was scrutinizing him.
“Oh, sorry Adam, I was trying not to be late,” Joe quickly added. “Say, you look sharp today, where you heading off too? Job hunting again? I thought you said yesterday that you found a temporary job,” Joe asked as he pulled his boots on while he walked beside of his brother. Every couple of steps, Joe would stomp his foot on the hard oak floor to force his foot into the tight fitting boot.
“Oh, I did. I’m starting today.” Adam’s smile spread across his face, forcing the dimple to deepen into his cheek.
“Great, where’d you get a job?”
“I’m right here, Pa,” laughed Joe. “See ya big brother, good luck on the new job!”
“Thanks Joe, I think I’m really going to enjoy this one. I’ve waited a long time for such a golden opportunity.” Adam turned to face his father and winked.
Joe had finally made it to the breakfast table and did not notice the exchange between his father and brother. Joe scooted his paper plate close to the serving dish and began piling it high with his favorite S’mores Pop Tarts. He heard the front door close and smiled up at his father as Ben returned to his chair.
“Ain’t Adam gonna eat?” Joe asked as he chewed the chocolate gooey treat.
Ben shook his head, “Joseph, can’t you please eat with your mouth closed?”
Joe looked up at his father and smiled, “sure I could Pa, but then how could I talk to you if’n I gotta keep my mouth closed?”
Ben frowned and rolled his eyes up, and held the palm of his right hand up in front of Joe’s face, “Whatever, whatever.”
Hoss had finally made his way from the kitchen to his place at the table. He sat down with a loud thud to the chair and groaned, drawing both Joe’s and Ben’s attention to himself.
“What’s that junk you’re drinking?” inquired Joe, wiping his mouth with the pretty pink rose covered paper napkins that Hop Sing had told them he found on sale at the Dollar General.
Hoss scrunched up his face, holding the can up for all to see. “Its called Slim Fast,
and it’s suppose to make me lose weight.
I went into that new GNC Health Food Store that Roy Coffey told me about
and the saleslady said this stuff really works.
“Well, just remember son, we love you just the way you are,” smiled Ben, giving his middle son a soft pat on the arm.
“What’s it taste like?” Joe said as he moved around the table to read the label over the top of Hoss’ shoulder. “Strawberry Banana Milkshake? Sounds sick-o, if you ask me.”
“Well, short shanks, I didn’t ask you,” smirked Hoss.
“Joseph, where in the world do you come up with these words you’ve been using lately? I swear, I’m not sure half of the time if your cursing or not!” Ben shook his head and started laughing; “I must be an old foggie!”
“JOSEPH! I think I get the idea, so please son just pay attention, that way I won’t have to repeat for the teacher what you should have heard. You know how I hate talking about the birds and the bees! Now get, and drive carefully, Joe.” Ben followed his youngest son to the door and watched at Joe ran across the yard and jumped into his car.
Joe had been so proud of that car. Ben remembered the happy glow about his son’s face the day that he had driven Joe into town to pick out his car. Ben knew the minute that Joe’s eyes had found the late model black and white Ford Pinto, complete with black leather interior, kick ass stereo system, with mega bass, duel exhaust, air conditioning and last but not least, sunroof, that the car would be his.
Joe popped on his new RayBan sunglasses and revved up his engine, dropped it into reverse, stopping at the porch to wave goodbye to his father and then jerked the stick into drive, making the tires spin before racing from the house. Ben stood silently as the cloud of dust settled about him and then dusting the loose flying dirt from his pants, marched back into the house.
As Ben pushed opened the door the telephone began ringing. Ben hurried to his desk to answer the call.
Ben spoke directly into the mouthpiece and smiled. He loved the phone that the boys had found at
the novelty store over in
is that you?”
it’s me…how are you today,
fine Ben, you ready for a round of golf?”
“Golf! Oh, I almost forgot, let me make some entries in my ledger and I’ll be right there. Wait for me at the front door, okay?” pleaded Ben, scooting aside some papers.
“Okay, Ben, I’ll see you in about half an hour. Bye.”
cringed as the loud whack of
“Now,” muttered Ben under his breath, “If I can only remember how to turn this new fandangled thing on.”
Ben pushed the button; something began spinning inside of the tall tower and seconds later little icons began popping up on the blue screen in front of him. After a few unnerving moments, Ben smiled.
“Hey, I’m getting pretty good at this,” he praised himself.
Ben’s hand tightly gripped the mouse. His sweaty palm rested gently across the back of the mouse and slowly Ben eased his hand around until the little white arrow rested on the correct icon. Ben’s index finger slowly pressed the left side of the mouse and clicked. The blue screen disappeared, strange images appeared before the dark chocolate eyes; suddenly a new screen popped up.
‘WELCOME!” it blared into Ben’s face, “YOU”VE GOT MAIL!” Ben’s eyes opened wide, “No shit, Sherlock!” he whispered as he clicked the mouse again. This time a gray warning box flashed onto the screen, causing Ben to tremble slightly.
“This program has performed an illegal action and will be shut down. Press any key to continue.”
“Oh great,” thought Ben, pushing back his chair. “I don’t have time for this!” Ben mashed the power button, lights flashed, something began whizzing and suddenly the computer went blank.
“I can not think about this today, I can not. Tomorrow, I will think about this, tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.” Ben suddenly laughed; he sounded just like Scarlet O’Hare!
Joe, half way to school remembered that he had not picked up his lunch ticket from his father’s desk. When he was forced to stop at the only red light within the city limits, he made a left turn into the parking lot of the newest fast food restaurant that had just opened the week before. Joe slowed his pinto down as he pulled up to the speaker and stopped, waiting until the power window had finished going down. Joe leaned out and caught his reflection in the mirror. He smiled, watching his face smile back. Joe leaned in closer to the mirror.
“Oh crap, I’ve got a zit.” Being careful not to mash too hard, Joe pinched his fingernails together and popped the tiny bump. A tiny white swirl eased from the broken skin and Joe quickly wiped it away and smiled a second time. Looking again into the mirror, Joe spotted a microscopic dot of bright red where the zit had been. Quickly he ripped off a tiny corner of Kleenex and placed it over the spot where the flesh oozed.
“There,” he whispered to his reflection, “I’m too sexy for my hair,” he hummed.
“May I take your order please?” the voice said from somewhere inside of the black speaker.
“Yeah, give me Happy Meal cheeseburger with fries and a Coke please,” stated Joe loudly.
“Will that be one Happy Meal cheese burger with fries and a Coke?” the black box asked.
“Yes, that’s correct,” answered Joe, leaning out of the window.
A car had pulled up behind him and he glanced back to see if he knew who was driving. He was surprised to see Hoss waving at him from the window of his shiny brown and white Bronco. Joe smiled and returned the wave, shaking his head silently…he hated the color of that vehicle. The fact that Hoss had mounted a pair of long horns to the front bumper did nothing to enhance the vehicle’s sex appeal. Joe giggled, Hoss had said that the color reminded him of his old pal, Chubb.
“Is this meal for a little girl or little boy?” the voice with no face inquired of Joe.
Joe rolled his eyes, “I suppose a little boy!” he blared in return.
“Thank you, your total is $2.91, please pull up to the first window.”
Joe shifted gears and eased his car forward, waving goodbye to his brother that had now moved to the speaker.
Joe gave the woman his money and waited for his change. He couldn’t help but stare at the lady; she was about as homely of a thing as he had ever seen. Her voice had sounded so sexy coming through the speaker that he had even thought about flirting with her when he moved to pay for his meal. The thought was swept away the moment the older woman smiled at him, showing her missing front teeth. Joe, taught to always be polite and respectful of his elders, returned the smile with one of his own.
“Thank you,” he said and pulled forward to the next window. As he waited, he glanced up into his rear view mirror to watch Hoss’ expression when he saw the toothless woman.
Joe laughed out loud when he saw Hoss’ brows rise slightly and then cut his eyes forward and frown at Joe from behind. Joe giggled again.
“Here you go, sir,” the boy in the window handed out his sack and the paper cup with the lid. “Have a good day, sir and come back soon.”
Joe nodded his head, glanced at the clock on the dash and knew he had to hurry or pay the consequences of being late for class. He knew he could not risk another late slip, he had already had to bring two home to his father and worried that a third might lead him into more trouble at home than what he wanted to have.
As Joe made his way through the traffic, he rummaged around in the sack. His hands found what they were looking for and slowly, Joe pulled the kid’s toy from the bag. Stirring carefully, he glanced at the tiny plastic bag that held the prize. He smiled, showing his straight white teeth, the braces glimmering as the morning sun reflected off of them.
“A real G.I Joe figure! This was the one I was needing,” he squealed happily and he pulled into the school parking lot.
Joe parked his car in the nearest space he could find to the building. He spied Mitch waving from the corner of the gym where they had always agreed to meet in the mornings.
“Hey Joe,” greeted Mitch, grinning from ear to ear. “You ready for Health class?” The blue-eyed blond who had been Joe’s best friend since childhood had a sparkle to his eyes.
“I’ve heard that the new sub is a real looker; we should be able to have some real fun outta her, especially considering that new section we are suppose to be starting today.”
“Yeah, I can’t wait,” laughed Joe. “You know Mitch, most of us kids around here have grown up on ranches, we pretty well know about how…well…you know…how babies are made and all. It’s not something I like to talk about…least ways, not around Pa or Adam. I mean…hey I don’t mind stealing a kiss and touching now and then, but to do the wicked thing with a girl…yuk! That’s nasty…just thinking about it!” Joe made a face that sent Mitch into the giggles.
“Yeah, and just think Little Joe, the teacher is a girl! Us rancher boys probably know more about making babies than some old maid substitute teacher. She’s probably real young too, which could be to our advantage you know.”
Joe stopped and studied his friend’s face. “I don’t know Mitch, we might get into trouble if we give her to much of a hard time. I don’t wanna risk Pa taking my pinto away from me again. You know how much my butt hurt from having to ride that darn horse all the way into town everyday for a month? No, siree, I’m not going to push this teacher over the edge!”
“Boys…move along, please.”
Joe and Mitch glanced up, offering what they hoped to be pleasant smiles. “Good morning, Miss Jones,” chimed the pair.
“Good morning, Joseph, and good morning to you, Mitch.”
Joe pulled Mitch along by the sleeve of his shirt to hurry him up. Joe had no intentions of letting Miss Abigail Jones, the school principle, stop him and start asking embarrassing questions about his older brother, Adam. Joe cringed; the old maid had been sweet on Adam ever since Joe could remember. He recalled his grammar school days, back when Miss Jones had just been a teacher. Day after day, Little Joe had had to sit in the classroom and listen as the lovesick woman droned on and on about the aptitudes of his oldest brother. Not today, Joe finally pulled Mitch to the side, next to his locker.
“I’ll see you later, Mitch,” whispered Joe as the bell rang, signaling the beginning of a new school day.
Joe met Mitch out behind the gym after third period. Mitch pulled a pack of *Marlboros from his shirt pocket and offered Joe one. “Want one?” he asked, placing one in his own mouth and flipping is Bic.
Joe scrunched up his nose. “You gotta be kidding. My pa would have my hide if he caught me smoking those things.” Joe turned his head away from the smoke that Mitch was blowing at him. “How can you stand that stuff. That smoke makes your clothes stink,” laughed Joe when Mitch made a smoke ring that floated down around their heads and making them look as if they had halos.
“Hey Joe, look.” Mitch pointed his finger to the cars in the parking lot, “Ain’t that your older brother’s new black Ford Mustang?”
Joe followed the end of his friend’s finger until he found what Mitch had been pointing at. “Sure looks like it. Wonder what he’s doing up here?”
Mitch giggled, “Probably here to see Miss Jones.”
Joe glanced at his friend and saw the mischievous twinkle in his eye. “I seriously doubt it, he tries to avoid her at all costs.”
Joe continued to stare at the shiny black car. He smiled, remembering the day that Adam had come driving into the yard with it. His brother had been so proud, he had offered to take Joe for a ride and they had driven for miles, enjoying the comforts and the time spent together. Adam had even given in to Joe’s persistent pleas to drive the car. He had been allowed behind the wheel, and then turned loose to enjoy the freedom of the opened road. It had been a special day for Joe and he had never forgotten it.
“Come on Mitch, we better hurry, the first bell’s already rung and we can’t be late, not with the substitute teacher. We don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with her,” insisted Joe as he pushed Mitch along in the crowded hallway.
“Hi Little Joe.”
Joe looked back to see who had called out to him, but the hall was so busy, kids laughing, pushing and stepping all over each other that it was hard for Joe to see who had called his name.
“Hurry up!” ordered Joe as he and Mitch flew around the corner, nearly colliding with another student. “Oh sorry,” called Joe as the last bell rung.
“Damn,” whispered Mitch as they saw the classroom door being pulled shut.
Joe and Mitch stopped outside of the closed door, each taking a deep breath. Joe’s hand moved slowly toward the doorknob until it closed tightly over the golden knob. Joe gulped, turned the golden ball to the left and pulled. Bright sunlight blinded their vision as the two young boys stood in the doorway. The sun shone through the row of windows on the opposite side of the room, giving the class a look of a near celestial supremacy.
Mitch pushed Joe through the doorway, both boys fighting to bring their vision into focus. Joe rubbed at his eyes and then glanced around the room. Everyone was staring at him and Mitch, but no one said a word, except the new substitute teacher.
“You’re late!” The voice was deep, familiar somehow, laced with a touch of sarcasm.
The words brought Joe to full attention; he struggled to wipe the sunlight from his eyes. He moved into the dark shadow that loomed over him, suddenly the bright light was gone and he looked up.
Joe’s mouth dropped opened, he struggled to put sound to his words. “W…Wh…Wha…What are you doing…here?”
The laughter was warm and light hearted, the tone pleasing to every listener in the room, except one…Little Joe. “I’m your new substitute teacher.” The lips curved upward forming a smile on the face of the new teacher.
“But…but…I …thought…” stammered Joe, totally confused.
“As usual, little brother, you were wrong!” Adam smirked. “Now I would suggest that you and your friend there…hello Mitch…find a seat…NOW!”
“Hi Adam…ere…Mr. Cartwright,” faltered Mitch after seeing the dark look that his friend’s older brother cast his way when he had used the teacher’s first name rather than the more formal one.
Joe moved to the back of the class where he normally sat and plopped his books down on the desk, making a loud noise. He quickly turned his eyes toward his brother’s face to check Adam’s reaction. “Sorry,” he offered humbly.
nodded his head at his little brother, smiling inside. He had felt guilty for several days about not
telling Joe that he had accepted the position of substitute teacher for Joe’s
Health class at
It was obviously to Adam that Joe was not taking to the idea that his oldest brother would be his new teacher. Joe seemed anxious with the situation and as he cast his eyes around the room, Adam noted that all eyes had turned to stare at his younger brother. Suddenly Adam had second thoughts about his decision; it was never his intent to make his brother feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by the arrangement. Joe had dropped his head, his eyes were lowered to avoid the eyes of his classmates, and quite unexpectedly, Adam felt sorry for his kid brother.
“If I could have your attention now class, we will get started,” said Adam in a clear voice that spoke with authority.
Joe raised his head and looked at his brother. Adam offered the slightest of nods and a tiny smile to the boy who watched him from the back of the class, relieved when Joe returned the smile.
Ben clicked the automatic door locker on his key ring to be sure that the alarm on his Tahoe was on. He mashed the button once again and jumped when the horn started blaring, the lights began flashing and the voice within the system began shouting.
“YOU ARE STANDING TO CLOSE TO THE VEHICLE! PLEASE MOVE AWAY FROM THE CAR. YOU ARE STANDING TO CLOSE TO THE VEHICLE! PLEASE MOVE AWAY FROM THE CAR”
Ben fumbled with the key chain, mashing and pushing the tiny little white buttons. He felt like screaming for the voice to shut up. Ben dropped the key chain; the keys broke loose and scattered about on the ground. “#@*%+” Ranted Ben.
“May I help you?” asked Miss Rutherford as she knelt down and took the automatic lock gadget from Ben’s trembling hand.
Miss Rutherford pinched one of the white buttons and instantly the world grew silent. As Ben stood to his feet, the lady smiled at him and returned the gadget. “It’s this little button, if it ever happens again,” she cooed at him.
“Why…thank you ma’am,” smiled Ben, embarrassed that he had made a fool of himself.
“Any time, Mr. Cartwright,” she beamed and then batted her long fake, thick coated, eye lashes at him before turning and leaving him to find the rest of his keys.
Ben’s eyes raked over the woman’s appearance. She was average height, well endowed and had the reddest hair that he had ever seen. Her Channel #5 cologne was nice, but it was easy to tell that the perfume had been used in abundance. He laughed softly to himself as he watched her hips sway from side to side as she sashayed away. Ben giggled; Miss Rutherford reminded him of the lady who owned the saloon in that new television western…what was her name, he pondered. Miss Kitty that was it, Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke!
Hoss stuffed the last of his Egg McMuffin into his mouth and quickly swallowed it. He had given up on his Slim Fast, it was just not satisfying his huge appetite. Besides, who cared, his pa had told him that he loved him just the way he was…and if his family loved him as such, why should he care what others thought? Pa was always right, at least that’s what he was always telling them. Hoss chuckled to himself and climbed up into the big seat of his John Deere tractor.
He twisted the key and the machinery began to sputter until it finally started. Hoss shifted gears and the big tractor moved slowly along. Hoss loved his new John Deere almost as much as his Bronco.
Hoss worked for several hours, plowing perfectly straight rows up and down the garden spot where Hop Sing had instructed him to plow.
Sing was excited about the new tractor.
In his free time, he loved to sit in the shade sipping lemon aid, made
from the juice of RealLemon, and eating Little Debbie’s. Hop Sing loved the out-of-doors. Many afternoons during the hot summer months
when the Cartwrights were all busy with their own activities and the washing
was sloshing about in the new
“This be perfect for family, Mrs. Stouffer’s home-cook, family-sized meal. Beef lasagna, with real Parmesan cheese. Hop Sing flipped the box over to read the directions, bake on 350 for one hour, or cook on high in microwave oven for twenty five minutes or until heated thoroughly.
Hop Sing voted for the microwave. Hearing a car pull into the yard, Hop Sing glanced out of the window to see who had arrived home first. Little Joe, his favorite number one son, the family servant smiled. Hop Sing turned from the window. It would only be a matter of minutes now before the rest of the family would arrive and each man would be hungry for his supper. Hop Sing pulled the plastic tray of frozen lasagna from its box and dusted the ice crystals from the top before placing the tray on the turning thingamajig and mashed the ‘cook’ button.
Hop Sing turned from the microwave back to the freezer. He had totally forgotten to prepare a dessert for his family of hungry men. Quickly he found the Sara Lee pound cake and set it on the table to thaw. He ran to his pantry and digging around in the can goods, found the large cans of Hunts sliced peaches. Back in the fridge, Hop Sing found the Cool Whip and placed it beside Sara Lee to wait to be served. Lastly, Hop Sing placed the can peaches under the blade of the Westinghouse electric can opener and then poured the peach slices into a pink Tupperware bowl.
Thirty minutes later the Cartwrights were sitting at the table, enjoying their home cooked meal. Ben smiled at his sons. “After supper, let’s watch some television. Tonight PAX is having a western marathon; they are showing John Wayne for twelve straight hours.”
Ben saw his son’s faces break apart with wide grins. “Adam, that new Sony television you bought last month with your allowance is really neat. I love that surround sound, makes it sound like John Wayne is shooting up the place!” laughed Ben.
“Hoss, the garden looks great, you did a very nice job, thank you,” praised Ben.
“Tweren’t nuthin’. Thanks
“Adam, something is wrong with the computer, sorry, I think I screw something up,” apologized Ben as he heard Adam groan softly.
Ignoring his oldest, Ben turned to Little Joe. “Joe, what did you do in school today?”
question had captured everyone’s attention.
Joe swallowed, glanced around the room at his family and gulped. “
Joe shot a glance toward Adam, who ducked his head and suddenly became very interested in his Mrs. Stouffer’s home cooked dinner.
“Uh, uh, little brother. This one is all yours.” Adam said to himself as he filled his mouth with the delicious lasagna.
“A fight!” exclaimed Ben. “What on earth did you do that made them fight?”
Joe shifted nervously in his chair and looked pleadingly at his older brother. Adam ignored him as he reached for the bowl of Miss Olive’s garden salad. Joe knew he was on his own.
“Well, Tiffany wanted to carry my books and…” Joe began.
“What!?! Some little gal wanted to carry YOUR books?” Hoss thundered. “I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.”
Joe felt the flush rise up his neck and encompasses his entire face.
“Go on Joseph.” Ben instructed, not at all sure he wanted to know where this conversation was leading. He’d read all of Dr. Spock’s books and followed his advice to the letter. Why didn’t it work for him?
“Well, like I said
Tiffany wanted to carry my books, but so did
“You mean there was TWO of ‘em?” Hoss interrupted, completely astonished at this revelation.
Joe flushed again and, holding up four fingers, admitted, “No, actually there were four of them. The twins, Muffin and Buffy, were there as well.
Hoss shook his head. He was getting dizzy just trying to sort out all them gals so he decided to just concentrate on his dinner. After all, Mrs. Stouffer had probably worked long and hard to get this dinner together. He wondered just who this Mrs. Stouffer was. She sure did make fine tasting lasagna! He’d have to get on the Internet later and check out Switchboard to see if she was listed.
“Continue Joseph.” Ben said as he tried to figure out what kind of hold his youngest son seemed to have over so many women.
“I started to tell
them that I could carry my own stuff when Tiff shoved the other three back and
tried to take my books. Well, Brit got
mad and threw down her backpack, which landed on Muff’s foot. That made Buffy mad and she started to shove
Joe took a deep breath and looked around the table trying to gage how his family was receiving the news. Adam, of course, already knew about it as he was there at school with Joe so he concentrated on his dinner to keep from laughing. Ben had his head resting in his hands, making strange moaning sounds while Hoss had an odd, puzzled look on his moon face.
Taking another deep breath, Joe continued, “When Miss Jones came to break up the fight, she asked who started it and all four of the girls pointed at me!! Pa, I swear, I didn’t do anything.”
Joe nervously raked his figures through his hair as he watched his father, trying to judge his mood.
“Hmmm,” Joe thought. “Musta used too much mousse this morning. Hair’s kinda stiff.”
His hands stopped in mid air as he saw his father’s face go as red as Mitch’s restored, cherry red, tricked out Maverick. He realized he’d made a huge mistake.
Ben stared at his youngest son for a full minute before stuttering, “J-J-Joseph, what…what is that…that…THING…in your ear?”
“Oh, this ought to be good.” Adam grinned to himself.
Hoss had finished the delightful Mrs. Stouffer’s lasagna and was working on the Sara Lee pound cake wondering if the two ladies might know each other. If he could find Mrs. Stouffer’s phone number, he might just ask if she knew how to get in touch with Miss Sara Lee. Maybe she could whip up a chocolate cake. That would be awesome! With thoughts of delectable desserts occupying his mind, Hoss was oblivious to everything going on around him.
an ear ring,
“An ear ring! JOSEPH FRANCIS CARTWRIGHT what were you thinking?”
“Apparently, he wasn’t.” Adam thought to himself.
“There was a sale going on at Piercing Pagoda’s in the mall-only $29.95 and that included the ear ring. You gotta admit that was a great deal. Besides, Pa, all the guys have ‘em.” Joe said quietly.
“All the guys have ‘em.” Ben repeated in a dangerously low voice. “And if “all the guys” went out and got a tattoo, would you do that, too?”
Joseph suddenly went pale as he rubbed his left arm absent-mindedly. Adam, who was waiting patiently while Hop Sing made him a double chocolate latte, couldn’t help but notice Joe’s gesture and decided to call attention to it.
“Something wrong with your arm, Joe?” He asked innocently as he wiped his hands on the moist towelette lying by his paper plate.
Joe glared at Adam and started to make a snide remark but before he could open his mouth to explain, his father started talking. No, not really talking, Joe thought. More like bellowing!
“Joseph, what am I going to do with you? Causing fights at school, getting an ear ring and now a tattoo!”
Again Joe opened his mouth to speak, but Ben wasn’t finished yet.
“You are so grounded, Joseph. No TV, no X-box, no Cube, no PS2, no Gameboy Advance, no Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy on the computer for two weeks. Do you understand me?”
Ben glared at Joseph, daring him to speak.
“No ‘buts’ Joseph. One more word and you’ll lose your cell phone with the funny “Dum da da dum” music AND your pager!”
Joe hung his head and chewed on his bottom lip. Pa was so darned unfair. Wouldn’t even give him a chance to explain that the tattoo was one of those wash off deals.
Hoss had long ago given up trying to follow the dinner conversation and since he’d finished his meal, wandered into the kitchen to see if there was any of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the new Whirlpool freezer. He found Hop Sing at the kitchen table reading a new magazine called, Bonanza Gold. Must be a new jewelry store catalogue.
As Hoss passed the new Kenmore Silent Wash dishwasher, he wondered why Hop Sing bought the thing. As far as he knew you couldn’t put paper plates in it and since all them nice people kept sending food over, didn’t understand the logic in having a dishwasher.
Hoss found the ice cream that Ben & Jerry had made and sat down at the table to eat.
“Hop Sing, what are
we having for breakfast?” he inquired.
Hoss was always worried about food.
Once, when Hop Sing had gone off to
Hop Sing looked up from the Bonanza Gold catalog and answered, “Jimmy Dean sausage, Bob Evans gravy, Hungry Jack biscuits and some of Rose’s farm fresh eggs.”
“Ummmmm Um! That sounds good!” Hoss exclaimed as Hop Sing returned to his
magazine. Hoss wondered where all those
folks lived. He thought he knew everybody in
“How about dinner?” he asked.
Hop Sing sighed, then answered, “Marie Callender’s freshly-roasted turkey breast, hand-carved and served over a special recipe stuffing, topped with homemade gravy. Accompanied by freshly mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. And for dessert, Marie’s "Sky High" Boston cream pie with a flaky crust, vanilla ice cream, layers of rich chocolate cake, more vanilla cream, topped off with a glaze of chocolate fudge and real whipped cream.
Hoss nearly passed out with the thought of all that luscious food. Forget Mrs. Stouffer and Miss Sara Lee, Hoss now knew he must somehow find this Marie Callender and marry up with her.
While Hoss was in the kitchen thinking about all those folks he’d never met and trying to figure out why they all send food to the Ponderosa, Joe was in the dinning room trying hard to keep his mouth shut. He was more than relieved when Ben turned his attention to Adam.
“So, Adam, how was your first day teaching son?”
Joe had to put his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing out loud as it was his brother’s turn to go beet red.
“Yeah, Adam, tell us about your first day.” Joe said to himself. “Tell Pa all about them birds and bees…
Adam coughed to clear his throat before turning to his father. Taking his coffee cup in his hands, he swallowed a big gulp of his double chocolate latte in order to regain a semblance of himself. His hazel eyes turned almost as dark as his father’s as he gave a side way glance at his brother. Those eyes were telling his little brother he was not pleased at all. Still, Adam figured there was a way to tell his father about his first day.
“Well, Pa,” began Adam. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The hardest part was getting out of Miss Abigail Jones’ office in the morning before my class.”
“What were you doing in the principal’s office Adam?” inquired Ben.
“Every new or substitute teacher gets a brief overview from the principal.” Adam replied. “They go over the school policies, upcoming school events like the Pep Rally this Friday before Saturday’s soccer game, volunteering to be a mentor on some of the school clubs, go over your lesson plans, things like that.”
“Soccer game? Whatever happened to football?” asked Ben.
“Well first off Pa, football is in the fall,” responded Adam. “Plus, seems soccer is all the rage amongst the kids and the schools anymore. The girl’s soccer team is even up for the state championships.”
Joe squirmed on his seat. This wasn’t turning out like he thought it would.
“I finally managed to convince Miss Jones that even with my accounting degree, and accounting knowledge from maintaining the books on the Ponderosa, I would not have the time to spend keeping the books of all these various clubs,” continued Adam. “You wouldn’t believe the number of bake sales, car washes, T-shirt sales, greeting card sales and so on, all these clubs have to make money. And that doesn’t include each class treasury trying to make money to go to Disney World for their senior class trip.”
Adam actually had a few degrees, thanks to those online universities. He had accumulated one in Accounting, one in Engineering and his latest one in Education.
in tarnation would those kids want to fly all the way out to hot, humid
may be so,” Adam stated, “but there is more to do at Disney World with the
Joe was getting more and more impatient. He wanted Adam to go into what happened during Health class, not all this other nonsense. He wiggled on his seat in his impatience.
“Hey Adam!” piped in Little Joe. “I thought you were gonna tell Pa about you teaching today.”
Hoss had finished his ice cream and came back through the dining room while his big brother Adam was discussing the events of the day with his father. He decided now was a good time to get to the computer to try to look up them folks who had been sending over all this delectable food.
As Hoss quickly made his way around the table, he headed toward the desk where the computer was.
“Shore hope I don’t blow nuthin’ away on this thang.” Hoss thought to himself. He knew that if anything happened to the new computer, his brother Adam would pitch a fit.
Hoss pushed the on button to turn the fancy machine on. The light on the Gateway computer tower began flashing as the drives began their strange whirring noises. The monitor came to life with its bright glow. Next the printer and scanner thingamjiggys began their wake up call announcing they were getting ready for their next job.
Hoss glanced over his shoulder to see if all the noise had been noticed by anyone in the dining room. Satisfied that they were still listening to Adam go on about his first day, Hoss took the mouse and clicked on the icon that would bring up the Netscape browser.
The Norton anti-virus window popped up screaming for attention. Seems it was saying that the antivirus definitions needed to be updated.
“Dagnabit!” muttered Hoss under his breath. “Seems ever time I tries to sneaks into here this machine always is wanting something from me.”
He went to move the mouse to click on the button that would close down the request. Being in a hurry, Hoss had instead clicked on the button that said to Continue.
“Dadburnit!” snarled Hoss in what he hoped was a whisper. “I didn’t want to do that. Well, I better push this definition whatsits all the way through just so’s I don’t mess anything up.”
The antivirus definitions finished their little install finally and Hoss shut down the window.
“Now where is that browser I asked to come up?” he asked himself.
Not finding the window opening, Hoss clicked on the browser icon again. This time he at least got the stupid hourglass gizmo that told him the application was coming up.
Sitting there staring at the monitor as if mesmerized, Hoss counted the interminable seconds while the browser slowly came to life.
“Finally!” said Hoss. “Seems forever for this browser to come up. Wonder why ole Adam ever bought one of these with that dumb Windows XP operating system; Windows 98 was far better. Heck even that Windows NT operating system was even better than XP.”
Hoss typed in the url for the google search engine hoping that his search would lead him to that Marie Callender lady who makes those fantastic meals and even better desserts. “Shore hope she is still single,” thought Hoss.
Once the Goggle search engine page was loaded, he typed in the words “Marie Collender”. Instead of any search results, he noticed that he had mistyped the last name. On his search result were the words: ‘Did you mean: “Marie Callender”
“Well, at least I won’t have to retype that name in” as he clicked on the link directing him to Marie Callender. This time Hoss’ blue eyes lit up as he saw the first result to Marie Callender’s Home Page.
“Hot diggety! She even got her own web page,” squealed Hoss with delight. “Now I’ll find out all about her and where she lives.”
The Marie Callender page loaded up in the browser window. “Hmm,” thought Hoss.
“What’s this about Company History?”
He clicked on the oblong button that said Company History in hopes that would lead him to where Marie Callender was.
His mouth dropped open as he began reading all the information that was displayed there. He could not believe what he saw.
1940’s!!!” he hissed. “Dadgummit! That’s means she’s
old enough to be my grandmother!” He continued to read on and saw that she used
to sell her pies to restaurants in
“Wonder if she at least has a granddaughter or sumthin’.”
Hoss scrolled down the window as he read feverishly hoping for any clue to a female heir to the Marie Callender estate of fine recipes.
Hoss’ heart plummeted to the depths of his feet as he saw that Marie’s son, Don Callender was the one who had opened the first Marie Callender restaurant in 1964.
No mention wherever of a granddaughter. He also noted that references to Marie Callender were now in the past tense.
if there were any locations nearby, Hoss began navigating through the site
location windows. He came upon several in
new thought popped into Hoss’ head with this information. He wondered if next
time Hop Sing takes a trip out to
As Hoss began hitting the back button in the browser window, all of a sudden the entire screen went completely white. Hoss shook his fists at the infernal machine, as he could no longer see the desktop or the icons. Even the Start button was gone to try to click on to shut down the computer.
“Dadburnit!” The word came out in a low growl from Hoss’ lips. “Adam is gonna kill me if I messed up his new toy. Dang this infernal machine!”
Hoss did not know how Adam managed to retrieve this one window in order to bring up some Task Window do-hickey to properly shut it down. Taking a quick glance towards the dining room, Hoss quickly flipped the button on the surge suppresser that the computer was plugged into. With that the monitor, tower, printer and scanner all went out and became silent little sentinels eagerly awaiting their next victim to play games with.
Hoss could hear the conversation still going on in the dining room.
“I’ll get to that in a minute younger brother,” responded Adam. “Oh before I forget Pa, that tattoo on Joe’s arm is one of those kind that can wash off. It’s a big fad in the high school crowd. Course with Joe, it just might be permanent.” Adam couldn’t help laughing as he teased his brother and his reluctance to want to take a shower every day.
Joe wasn’t sure whether to be mad at his brother for teasing him or to be glad that his father now knew that the tattoo wasn’t permanent.
“Well, I am glad to hear about the tattoo. I don’t know what is coming to this younger generation. I think Mr. Spock needs to re-write his books,” said Ben.
“Umm, you mean Dr. Spock don’t you Pa?” Adam asked with a glimmer of bright laughter that made his eyes twinkle. Adam pulled his lips together, as he was about to do to stymie of a snicker. He couldn’t resist correcting his Pa in confusing Dr. Spock with the re-runs of that old space series.
Ben gave a wisp of a glare in Adam’s direction. He didn’t like to be corrected especially by any of his sons. Deciding not to continue along that line, Ben directed his attention to the youngest of his three boys.
“Joe, I am glad to hear that you didn’t get a real tattoo,” began Ben. “However, I am still upset over that, that EAR ring dangling from your ear.”
Joe peeked up at his father and then placed his hands on either side of his hips on the chair. He sheepishly looked down at the pretty blue and white flower designs on the Corelle dinnerware as if fascinated by their pattern.
“You are still grounded for the stunt with the earring but only for a week. I still need to think about whether to restore your Gameboy and computer privileges,” finished Ben.
Joe wiggled again on his seat, seemed all of a sudden his cute little back-end itched like the very dickens.
“What’s wrong Joe?” asked Adam. “You didn’t put one of them wash off tattoo things on your back porch now did you?” Adam chuckled softly at the thought of his brother trying to do something his friends might have dared him to do.
“No, I didn’t Adam,” snapped back Joe. “It just itches for some reason.”
“Sure you don’t have any toilet paper stuck somewhere?” Adam joshed back.
“Adam. I think that’s enough,” stated Ben.
“Well, he’s a little too old for diaper rash.” Adam was really pushing his luck this time.
“I SAID that’s enough Adam.” Ben snarled.
Adam looked at his father and figured he might have joked just a little too much this time.
Hoss got up from behind the computer desk and wandered back to the dining room where the family was still sitting around the table. His brother Joe looked like he was trying to scratch the back of his pants.
“Hey Joe, what’s the matter?” asked Hoss. “You got the wiggle-fidgets or sumthin’?”
“It ain’t funny Hoss!” Joe called out. “I got me an itch in a funny place is all.”
“Yep, that shore nuff is a odd place for an itch all right,” laughed Hoss.
“Now Hoss,” began Ben. “I already warned Adam, and now I am telling you to stop poking fun at your brother. For all we know he might have a case of prickly heat and I might wind up taking him to Doc Martin.”
At this, Joe paled whiter than the clean sheets that Hop Sing always washed with
“Ah Pa!” whined Joe. “Not Doc Martin!”
“Come on Joe,” replied Adam. “I’ll take you into the bathroom so’s I can take a look at what the problem is. You might not even have to go to Doc Martin.”
Joe looked at Adam weighing the pros and cons of this. He didn’t want to go to Doc Martin’s for this but neither did he want his brother Adam taking a look at his caboose and perhaps making fun of him.
“NO!” decided Joe. “You will just make fun of me, and then all the kids at school will find out, and I will be the laughing stock of the whole school.”
Joe’s eyes turned even greener than usual as his temper flared while trying to control the moisture that was gathering in his eyes from the teardrops starting to form.
“Joe, I promise I won’t make fun of you,” said Adam in a very soothing tone. “None of the kids at school will find out from me either.”
Adam was used to taking care of both his younger brothers as they were growing up and tending to banged up knees, bumps on the head, splinters in fingers. In addition, he nursed them through the childhood sicknesses of chicken pox, mumps, and measles along with any colds or flu symptoms. He had amassed a great deal of medical knowledge throughout his life caring for his brothers and on occasion his father. At one point, Adam had thought of becoming a doctor, but decided that wasn’t the profession for him.
Then, there were all those medical books he got from his one former girlfriend who had become a registered nurse. She gave the books to Adam when she decided to turn in her nursing license and marry someone else and raise an army of kids. He often wondered how many she had by now. Last he knew, she had 5 and was gonna have baby number 6.
Joe had thought over his options and decided the lesser of two evils was to have his brother take a look at why the seat of his pants itched so furiously. He got up from the table and said, “All right Adam,” in a condescending voice. “Let’s go get it over with. I can’t stand this itching any more.”
Adam put down his cup of latte, which was almost finished and got up. He turned his head sideways towards their father. “Be right back Pa, this won’t take long.”
The two brothers headed towards the kitchen to go to where the first floor bathroom was. Joe went in first and pushed the silent button that turned on the light above the sink and vanity. Adam quickly followed and closed the door behind them.
“Okay little buddy, I hate to tell you this but time to drop ‘em.” Adam tried his best to make it come out in a very serious tone. Joe was not sure if Adam was teasing him or not, but one look at the concerned look on his brother’s face told him otherwise.
Joe still didn’t like doing this, but didn’t have much choice if he didn’t want to keep scratching back there. He pulled off his pants until they were down around his ankles. Then he took his one hand and only partially pulled down his briefs to reveal where the itch was.
Adam looked and paused for a moment. He shook his head to make sure he was seeing what he was seeing. Then he bent a little closer to examine the strange lump.
Joe was now getting impatient, as his brother was awful quiet and not saying a word.
“Well!” snorted Joe. “Why is it itching so much back there? Don’t tell me I am gonna have to go to Doc Martin.”
Adam pulled himself up straight and put his hand to his mouth in a short fist to cough.
“Umm… Joe?” began Adam. “I don’t know how to tell you this.”
“Tell me what?” asked Joe.
“It seems you have a great big pimple on your left cheek, also known as your
Joe turned on his brother in a fury of emotions, the first of which was anger and disbelief.
With his green eyes blazing he looked at his big brother, which stood there trying to stifle a laugh.
“Look Mr. Big, that ain’t funny, all I want is for you to take a look and tell me why I am itching so. I don’t get pimples. And if I did it most certainly wouldn’t be on my, my whatever you called it. Now be serious and tell me what you see.”
Joe turned back to the way he was facing and once again pulled his jockey shorts down just enough for Adam to see the trouble spot.
“Okay Joe tell you what, bend over a bit so I can get a better look.”
Adam chuckled to himself and went in for a closer look, all the while he was humming and hahhing.
“Okay Little Joe I think you are right, it is not a pimple, it is a Pustules Inflammatory Lesion.”
Joe straightened up and once again turned to face his brother, his eyes glisten with moisture as he is near tears.
“Oh Lorry, Adam that sounds so serious, are you sure, is that a cancer or something? Will I die?”
It was all Adam could do to keep from breaking up, but he was having too much fun with his Little brother. It was obvious that he had not been paying attention in health class. But Adam was determined that would change, with him behind he desk. Especially after today’s start.
He could see that his Little Joe was very upset and brought him into a hug, and while patting him on the back and smiling at himself in the mirror Adam spoke to Joe in calm smoothing tones.
“There, there Little Joe, don’t you worry about a thing, no it is not serious and it is not cancer, of that I am sure. You just follow my instructions and we will have this taken care of faster than you can say Pustules Inflammatory Lesions.”
He and Joe pulled away from each other and Joe wiped the tears from his face. He looked at Adam with all of the trust in the world showing in his eyes and Adam almost caved in.
“Okay Adam I know that you wouldn’t lie to me, Pa would have your hide. I trust you with my life. Now what do you need me to do? And more importantly what is the treatment for this?”
“Well Little Joe, it will hurt a bit, but I know you are a big boy and can take it. Once I relieve the pressure, it will be best if you take a long soak in a tub of hydrated magnesium sulfate. That will relieve the itch. Then, we will treat it with a coat of Benzoly peroxide. I would then suggest that for the rest of the evening you try to avoid sitting on that cheek as much as possible and sleep on your stomach.” Then in that sarcastic tone that only Adam could get, “I think you have had a little practice at that.”
Little Joe was still upset and trying to absorb all that Adam had told him. All those medical words sure did sound bad to him, but what did he know, he was just a teenager and Adam was, well Adam was Adam and he knew it all, or that is the way he seemed.
“Okay Adam tell me what you want me to do.”
“Joe, I may not get it all the first time, and I need you to hold as still as you can. This is most certainly not going to be pleasant for me either. I need you go drop the jockeys all the way, bend over the sink, brace your hands on either side of the vanity, and relax as best you can. You tense up and it will hurt more. Like I said, I may have to repeat this a couple of times to get it all, but once it is over with you will feel a lot better, understand?”
Joe did as instructed and turned his head to Adam. “Okay lets get this over with”
Adam moved in for the kill, as he looked down at Joe’s gluteus maximus, it was all that he could do to keep from busting out laughing. He took his large strong thumbs and placed one either side of the giant, Pustules and with his face screwed up as if he was about to feel the pain, squeezed.
“OUCH,” Joe let out a yell as he jumped and bumped his head on the mirror in front of him. “What the hell are you doing back there?”
Foots steps could be heard coming from the great room in a hurry, Adam had no doubt that Pa and Hoss had heard Joe and were coming on the run. For that matter Adam was sure the ranch hands in the bunkhouse had heard him.
Pa was the first one at the door, closely followed by Hoss. Joe now had his back facing away from the door and was fully exposed, he quickly forgot the throbbing pain for a moment and grabbed a towel and placed it in front of himself.
“What in blue blazes is going on in here, Adam what did you do to your brother?”
Adam put up both hands to ward off any further rebuke from his Pa or Hoss. “I was just trying to relieve the pressure of the source of Little Joe’s discomfort. I told him that it would hurt. I got a good bit of the Mucopurulent out, but when he jumped, I lost my grip and didn’t get to the core of it.”
Ben understood exactly what his son was saying without coming right out and saying it, but Hoss stood there scratching his head. He looked from Joe to Adam, “ The what for the what, were you doing?”
Adam gave a sigh and drooped his shoulders a bit. “I told Joe he had a large pimple on his left cheek, he said there was no way. So I took another look, which confirmed he has a Pustules Inflammatory Lesion, or a comedones. In order for him to get relief I have to squeeze the Mucopurulent out of it. And as you can guess it hurt like the devil.”
Joe had tears coming down his face from the pain that he had felt when Adam squeezed that thing he had, and he could feel something slowly seeping from it.
“Look Joe lets get this over with, the sooner you let me have another go at this the sooner it will be over with and you can soak in the tub with the medicine I told you about. And just to make you feel better, Pa here can have a look and see if he agrees with my diagnosis.”
Joe looks from this pa to his brother and turned back around, and got into position.
“Okay, lets get this over with. Pa, so you see the same thing Adam here does?”
Ben moved in for a closer look, he looked up at Adam with a big grin on his face. “Oh yes son, that is definitely a Pustules, and a big one at that. Let Adam take care of it.”
Joe once again braced himself against the sink; “Maybe I could have a piece of something to bit down on like you see in those old westerns, so you don’t feel the pain as much.”
Ben rolled up a clean wash cloth and passed it to Joe. “Son, I think that was as much to keep them from biting their own tongues, as anything, but here try this.”
“No son, I think you are more than capable of doing it, you started, you finish.”
Hoss was still standing there trying to figure out what it was Adam said Joe had.
Once again Adam took his position and his operating thumbs approached the offending Pustules Inflammatory lesion. He could feel Joe tense up and tighten his butt cheeks, which actually made his job easier. Just as he was about to squeeze the very core of it, Hoss bent in for a closer look. “Hey that ain’t nothing but a great big pi…just then Adam was able to get under the pocket and a big wade of hard pus popped out hitting Hoss right on the chin. He jumped back falling on the floor with a mighty thud that rocked the house, and at the same time Little Joe let out a scream that left his father and brothers ears ringing.
Adam looked at this father and gave him the signal to hold Joe in place so he could have one last quick look.
“Well that one did it, looks like we got the core, and the rest is draining very nicely now.”
“Good work son, sometimes I think you should have gotten one of them Doctor Degrees from the Internet.” Hoss you okay, son?
Hoss was getting up off the floor, rubbing at his backside, which he was now sure was as sore as Joe’s was. “Yeah Pa I’m just great.” He took the washcloth that Adam was holding out to him and wiped the stuff from Joe’s butt off his face. “I sure hope that Pust… Pust…that there thing ain’t catching. I got me a mug full of it.”
Little Joe turned to Pa and with little teardrops coming down his cheek, he asked in a voice that was full of concern and dread for his well being. “Pa, Adam says now I got to soak in a tub of warm water with some special stuff and put this other medication on it. You say that you agree with the Professor here on what this is and what to do, but could you explain it in plain every day good old American so I can understand just what this is and what to do about it? Please Pa, I ain’t going die or anything am I?”
It was hard for Ben to keep a straight face when he looked at his youngest son, and could also see that Adam was getting ready to explode from holding back. And Hoss, well Hoss was just that, good old Hoss that looked as puzzled and forlorn as Little Joe.
“Look son, tell you what, why don’t we go out to the Family Room while Hop Sing runs this “special” bath for you and I will explain?”
The whole family headed out to the Family Room, Adam stopped by the kitchen and filled Hop Sing in. As Adam headed to join the family and Hop Sing headed to the bathroom off Little Joe’s room, you could hear a rumbling of Chinese mixed with laughter.
As they settled around the room, Little Joe, standing by the hearth of the great fireplace, turns and faces his father. He looks for briefly like he is standing, waiting for the count down from the firing squad, then a simple explanation from his Pa.
“Well son, I will tell you, but you have to promise not to interrupt, no matter what. Do I have your word, not one word out of you until I have finished?”
Little Joe stood straight and tall, but only because he knew that sitting would be next to impossible at this time.
“Yes Sir, not a word. Shoot”
Ben had been sitting in his favourite chair with Adam standing just behind Joe, and Hoss has plunked himself down on the settee. He too was near tears. Why, just the thought of what Little Joe had on his caboose was enough to bring the tears to his eyes, tears from trying so hard not to laugh, when Joe sounded so serious.
Ben got up, walked over to Joe and put on hand on each shoulder. “Son, Adam was one hundred percent right in his diagnose. You have a Pustules Inflammatory Lesion that was full of Mucopurulent which is best pinched out as Adam did for you, then a warm bath in hydrated magnesium sulfate and a liberal dose of Benzoly peroxide afterwards. In plain good old American, you have a giant pimple on your butt that was full of pus, which Adam popped out for you. Now if you go have a bath in warm water and Epsom salts, it will draw more of the pus out and then put on a good coat of extra strength Clearasil, and it should be gone in a day or two.”
Ben had said this in almost one big breath, in a tone so serious that it was all that Adam and Hoss could do, or Pa for that matter, from busting a gut trying not to laugh. Joe stood there with a look of utter shock on his face, which turned to disbelief when his father finished his little speech. By this time Hoss, Adam and Pa were almost rolling on the floor laughing.
Little Joe just stood there looking from one to the other. “Sure you all just laugh at me!”
He started for the stairs. “I am in pain, dying here, and all you three can do is laugh.”
Joe took the steps two at a time to get away from his family. When he reached the top landing he looked back at them all standing laughing at his delicate problem.
“I will tell you this again, I don’t get pimples, not there.”
Once he was in the safety of the bathroom, Little Joe undressed and turned as best he could to get a look for himself in the full-length mirror.
“Oh God that is one hell of a big zit.”
got into the tub and sat down gently; at first it stung, but after a few minutes
he could feel the soothing relief of the Epsom salts drawing out more of the
pus. He laid back, closed his eyes with
Back in the family room, the rest of the family were finally getting themselves together.
looked over at his Pa and Adam. “Boy did
you see the size of that thing? Why it
must have had a head on it as big as the snow caps of
Adam, when you squeezed it and it popped, it reminded me of the Geyser in
Pa composed himself and settled in this favourite chair. “Okay boys that is enough, Little Joe has been embarrassed enough for one night, we will have no more said about it.” But even Ben was having a hard time saying this with a straight face.
John Wayne extravaganza starts in a while and I would really like us to watch
at least the first together. By the time
that one is over it will be time for Little Joe to go to bed and you two may do
as you wish. It starts with
With that Ben lit up his pipe, picked up his paper and started reading. Hoss was looking through the Good Housekeeping magazine that Hop Sing had, checking to see if he could find any mention of Marie Callender or any granddaughters she might have. Adam was busy at the dining room table readying his lessons for the next day.
After about 20 minutes in the tub, Joe decided that was enough and got out. He spent some time in front of the mirror admiring his earring and blow drying his hair, until he had it just the way he liked. He put on a t- shirt and a pair of lose joggers without any briefs in order to have as little as possible touching his delicate condition. Satisfied that no one could look any better, he headed downstairs. He was not thrilled with the prospect of an evening with John Wayne, but since it meant so much to his father to have a family evening he would endure it for the man he loved so much, although you would never catch him admitting that to his friends.
Ben heard Little Joe coming down the stairs, he looked at his watch, there was about half an hour before the movie would begin. “Well son, how do you feel now?”
“Well Pa, I must admit for once big brother here was right, the sulfate stuff took more of the mucopu… pus out of the giant zit but the peroxide glop stung a bit going on. I just thank God that I didn’t have to go to Doc Martin’s to have it looked at. It would have been embarrassing to bother him for a…” then looking at Adam, “a pimple”
Just then Hoss looked up from the magazine he was reading. “Oh Pa that reminds me, I met up with Doc Martin and another fellow at Starbucks today. Paul said to tell you that he was leaving tomorrow for the Hawaiian Islands to do some scuba diving and surfing, said he be gone for about a month.”
“Well I wish I had known he was going, I might have tagged along for a week or so, I have a couple of good friends over that that I would have liked to spent some time with. Maybe I will see if I can find out where he is staying, get on that plane and join him for a week or so. Who was this other fellow that he had with him?”
While pa was talking Hoss had been staring at Adam. “Hoss want are you looking at? Do I have a big pimple on the end of my nose or some damn thing?”
“No big brother it’s just that his fellow that was with Paul sort of reminds me of you, but in about 15 to 20 years. I mean, he was your height, and size but well maybe a few extra pounds, the dark hair but with gray in it. The biggest difference was that he was bald on top and had a beard and mustache, smiled just like ya too.”
Adam was curious know, “Oh is that so, and just who did Paul say this gentleman was?”
yea I didn’t tell ya that did I? He is taking
Paul’s place while he is away, comes from some hospital in
“Well now I am real glad that Adam here could take care of the problem, there is no way I am showing my tush to some strange doctor.”
“Okay boys I think it is time to get ready for the movie, it will be starting soon. Hoss, why don’t you go out to the kitchen and see if Hop Sing can make us up some of that Orville Redenbacher’s buttery flavour popcorn, and I do believe there is a bag of that Mrs. Vickie’s kettle chips that Adam likes. And tonight I think I will have a Dr. Pepper Soda.”
In the great room Ben turned to Little Joe, “Before this starts, I hope you have your homework completed, Joseph?”
Adam was gathering up his books and notes and putting them in his briefcase for tomorrow, when he dropped one of the books on the floor, with a loud thud.
He bent to pick it up and had to chuckle to himself. At the same time Joe had looked up to see what happened and noticed the book that Adam had dropped, then remember that day’s lessons.
With a mischievous look on his face, and the look of the devil in his eyes that could only belong to Little Joe Cartwright, he called over to his brother, his new teacher. “Hey Adam, you never did tell Pa about your first day teaching, did you?” It was a pure statement not a question.
Ben set aside his paper, took a sip of his coffee, “That’s right son, I would be most interested to find out how things went today.”
Joe, rather gingerly, settled himself down in a chair, with most of his weight on his undamaged right butt cheek, and looked over at his eldest brother. Adam, as usual, was keeping his emotions in check, but Joe could just detect a slight pallor coming over Adam’s tanned face. It could not be put off any longer; the story had to be told.
Adam prevaricated, for as long as he could, talking about the school and what Miss Jones had said to him. She said that the aim of the teachers was to see that when the children graduated, it was as well rounded individuals, with a good working knowledge in all subjects. And, hopefully, with a plan of what they wanted to do, in the future.
“Joe is already a pupil there, Adam,” said Ben. “You don’t have to sell the school to me. I am very happy with it.”
“Sorry, Pa, I thought you wanted to hear about my day,” said Adam.
“Tell ‘em about the health class, Adam,” interrupted Joe, his eyes twinkling with a mischievous gleam in them.
Adam sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Well, this is not my field of expertise,” began Adam, causing Joe to start laughing.
“Do you mean that you’ve never done it in a field, brother?” said Joe, when he was able to speak.
“Joseph, I will not have talk like that in this house,” thundered Ben. “Please get your mind out of the gutter, listen to what Adam has to say, or if you can’t do that, leave the room.”
“Yes, sir, sorry Adam,” said Joe, stifling his giggles.
“As I was saying,” continued Adam. “Not something I have been called upon to do before, but I was thinking that it couldn’t be that difficult. After all, these are sixteen-year-old young adults. Surely they were mature enough to handle such a discussion? However, I’d forgotten that one of them was my little brother and the word ‘mature’ most definitely does not apply to him.”
Joe resented that remark and was about to retaliate, but was prevented from doing so, by a look from his father. He knew that he’d better remain silent, particularly as his Game Boy and computer privileges hung in the balance.
“I knew that the class had already received the basics in sex education, but now I needed to cover the wider issues, such as birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and, I hope, an injection of good old self restraint. Many a life has been ruined for the sake of a fumble in the back seat of a car. I don’t feel that the moral side is discussed enough. It is just assumed that all teenagers are sexually active and I wanted to make it understood that this isn’t the case and no one should feel pressured into having an intimate relationship, if they are not ready to, or don’t feel that it is the way to behave.”
“Pleased to hear that son,” said Ben. “It’s like giving people instructions on how to use a life jacket, when they board an airplane. They need to know, but you hope they don’t have to use it. As you three already know, I like you to be aware, but that doesn’t mean that you should be putting that information into practice.”
Hoss just blushed beet red at this and Joe began to giggle again. It was a typical teenager’s reaction to discussing sex with your parents and Ben glared at Joe, once more, until Joe stopped.
“Please continue, Adam,” said Ben.
“As I was saying, they know the basics and so I decide to expand on this and talk about responsibility. Now, I know that this is not something very high on your average teenager’s list of priorities, but with a subject as serious as sex, it needs to be addressed. With Valentine’s Day being just around the corner, we all know where a young man’s fancy can lead him, don’t we? I knew that just spouting words would not be enough and so I wanted to liven things up, with a practical demonstration. Before school, I purchased several packets of condoms from the drug store.”
Once again, Little Joe began to laugh. “Bet the guy behind the counter was envying you, Adam. Did he ask if you were going to an orgy?”
“Oh, grow up, little brother,” snapped Adam. “I had enough of your crass remarks in the classroom. Honestly, Pa, I sincerely wish there was still corporal punishment in schools, I was so close to clobbering motor mouth here.”
“I can understand how you must have felt, Adam, and I might remind you, Joseph, that there is still corporal punishment in this house. If you carry on with that smart mouth of yours, I just might use it.”
looked horrified. “But my tush is injured already,
“Just try me,” said Ben, but he winked at Adam and Hoss, as he said it.
“Anyway, I went into the classroom and introduced myself,” said Adam. “Had to put up with a fair bit of comment over being Joe’s brother, but then we settled down and I handed out a condom to each student. Of course, we got some giggles and a few, lewd remarks, but once the class was quiet, I began to explain what we were going to do. In case anyone didn’t know, I told them what it was that they were holding in their hands, threw in a bit of history on the product, along the way, and then came to the reason why I had given it to them. I said that a condom was the best form of defense against sexually transmitted diseases and gave them a quick run down on the various things it could prevent you from catching, particularly AIDs. This conversation sobered them up a bit, not a nice thought, I know, but one they need to think about.
I also stated the obvious, that using a condom was a good way of preventing pregnancy, too. However, they needed to know the correct way to use it and so that was why I had given them one to practice with. At this point, Joe stands up, pockets his, and goes to leave the room. When I asked him where he was going, he said that he was off to practice.”
Hoss burst out laughing at this and even Ben found it hard to keep a straight face. Joe buried his face in a cushion, partly to prevent himself from laughing, again, but also because he didn’t want to look at his father. Ben was likely to be real mad about his performance in the classroom. Perhaps having Adam tell Pa about his day, was not going to be as embarrassing for his big brother, as Joe had hoped. It looked more likely that he was the one ending up embarrassed.
“I told Joe to return to his seat and I continued with my talk,” said Adam. “I then explained the proper way to use a condom. I had a broom handle as my penis,”
Joe couldn’t resist. “Mighty hard to get your pants on with one of those inside ‘em.”
“Pa, if you don’t get him to shut up, then I will,” shouted Adam.
“JOSEPH, that’s enough,” yelled Ben. “Carry on, Adam.”
“As I said, I was using the end of a broom handle and I explained that they had to remove the condom from the packet and roll it down over the erect penis, being careful not to trap any air in it, as this was likely to make it burst. This caused gales of laughter and I was beginning to think that I was never going to get through the talk. Several of the students removed them from the packets and began blowing them up and we had the comments about size and would they fit everyone or could you buy extra large. Guess who asked that question?” Adam glared at Joe, as he said this.
“It was a valid question, bro. As you well know, us Cartwrights are pretty well hung, don’t want any accidents, do we?”
Ben decided to let that comment go, as it was getting close to the start of the movie.
“I then let them all try to put the condom on the handle and that was okay,” said Adam. “We then moved on to talk about other forms of birth control and their success rates. Mitch told a rather amusing story about his parents and their attempts to use the rhythm method. The basic gist was that Mr. Devlin was tone deaf and that’s why Mitch has a little sister. However, it was going pretty well, and then we tackled abortion, a very emotive subject and one that you have to tread carefully with. I attempted to present both sides of the argument and kept my own personal thoughts on the subject, private, but I did stress that it shouldn’t be considered as a method of birth control. I also discussed the best method of contraception, ever invented, saying no to sex. That one didn’t go down too well, but I hope I gave them enough things to think about and did manage to reassure those who were beginning to feel pressured into having sex, that it is their choice and nobody else’s. Kids always imagine that they are the only ones ever facing whatever dilemma they are coping with, and it’s a good idea to let them know, that we all wrestled with our consciences, at such times.”
“Sounds like you did a good job, Adam,” said Ben. “I’m proud of you and if it has made just a couple of the youngsters stop and think, before embarking on something which could ruin their lives, then that is a good thing.”
“Pa, did you ever wrestle with your conscience, when it came to having sex?” asked Joe.
At these words, Hoss disappeared behind a magazine; his little brother constantly amazed him with his audacity.
Hoss was even further amazed, when Ben answered, quite calmly. “Yes, of course I did, every young person does. But, I knew what was expected of me and I had enough respect for the girl, to behave like a gentleman. I trust that my sons are doing the same.”
“Aw shucks, Pa, you don’t havta worry on my account,” said Hoss. “I know how to behave around a lady.”
“Yeah,” giggled Joe. “Go bright red, trip over your feet and almost swallow your tongue, real smooth operator you are, brother. Now me, I know how to treat a lady.”
“Yes, a Saturday matinee, a box of popcorn, a hot dog and an ice cream and home in time for supper,” said Adam.
Now it was Joe’s turn to get mad. “Huh, that maybe your idea of a date, but it ain’t mine. My girls like to go to Inspiration Point and it ain’t for the view.”
Once more, Joe had not engaged his brain, before opening his mouth, and was now in serious trouble. He had been forbidden from taking a girl up to the point, as Ben did not think it was right for a boy of Joe’s age to visit such a place, alone, with a young girl.
“So, you have been up to the Point, have you, Joseph? Well, that has just earned you a week end restriction, for the next two weeks.”
“But next week end is the Valentine’s dance and I’m taking Lucy,” protested Joe.
“Not anymore you’re not,” said Ben. “Now, be quiet, the movie is just starting.”
But Pa!” Joe protested. He leaned forward and unfortunately hit the sore spot on his tush. “YOWCH!”
“Joseph! I can’t hear the beginning of the my movie!” Ben grabbed the remote and turned the volume up to 32. “Now go do your homework…all of you!”
John Wayne’s filled the screen as the credits rolled and a manly male chorus sang “CHIz OM Chiz OM”
“We ain’t got no homework, Pa,” Hoss tried to explain but Adam shook his head. There was no use discussing that order with Pa when he was in count down to John Wayne mode.
Joe sputtered like a motorboat on
“No butts about it little brother,” Hoss chortled. He headed for the computer in the study. He was going to find out once and for all about Marie Callender and her granddaughter and Sara Lee and Mrs. Butterworth and Little Debbie all the nice gals who were sending food to the Cartwrights.
“But Pa!” Joe argued. “I promised Lucy to take her to the dance. You always said a Cartwright’s word is his bond.”
“Chiz Ohm ! Chizolm!” the male chorus sang as John Wayne galloped manfully across the Cartwright large screen television. Ben swayed in time with the galloping and slapped his hands on his thighs to sound like hoof beats. Ben loved John Wayne.
“Pa also said that Cartwrights act respectfully to women,” Adam said smugly . He sat back in the Lazee Boy Lounger at his father’s right hand. Adam suspected Little Joe had promised Lucy more than just an escort to the high school dance.
Lucy La Bongas was known around Virginia City as a very friendly girl, perhaps too friendly with the young men in Ben‘s opinion. She had a pierced navel, a tattoo of a burning naked female devil on her thigh and no curfew. Adam guessed her parents had sprung for breast implants as a sweet-sixteen gift. Little Lucy La Bongas was suddenly Voluptuous Lucy.
Last summer at the lake, Adam tried to explain to his brothers how gravity acted on human fat tissue. Adam patiently explained that if the girl is lying down on her back and her breasts are pointing straight up like twin-peaks, it was an indication of artificial enhancement with some plastic product made by Dupont.
“Better living through chemistry,” Adam explained. Neither of his brothers took their eyes off Luscious Lucy’s pert parts.
Joe said that he didn’t much care and awkwardly held his Boogie Board in front of his bathing trunks. Hoss just drooled into Adam’s lemonade. Adam sighed at his brothers’ lack of subtlety but he too didn‘t blink behind his Ray Bans.
“My movie is starting! Quiet down.” Ben growled at Joe.
“Call that girl up and tell her you can’t accompany her, “ Adam told his kid brother. “She is out of your league any way, kid.”
“KID!” Joe spat out.
“Besides, one of my old friends, Shmeckie Longlost, is due back in town and he is bringing his daughters with him. I was hoping you boys would escort the Longlost girls to the Classic Western Film Festival that weekend. Forty five hours of John Wayne, Gabby Hayes and even some old B thing with Randolph Scott and James Coburn and some other actor. A good-looking guy, wonder what ever happened to him?.”
‘Ride Lonesome?’ Adam guessed. It was one of his favorites even though he wasn‘t that wild about westerns. He preferred Shakespeare to Cowboys any day.
Now Joe was fuming. Not only was being punished, he had to escort some geeky Longlost girls to a stupid film thing with his brothers and the two fathers. And his butt was throbbing. The boy stomped into the study . He stood behind Hoss who was absorbed in surfing the web. The glow of the computer monitor lit his wide face.
“Hoss..” Joe started.
“Not now.” Hoss cut him off.
“HOSS!” Little Joe demanded. He could always count on Hoss for sympathy when Pa and Adam ganged up on him.
NOW, Sore Butt Boy. Leave me alone,” Hoss was hunting for those food-giving
women like a hound dog sniffing for a fox. He needed all his concentration not
to get distracted. He had even found Chiquita Banana and Betty Crocker. They
were pretty good looking gals.
“Hoss!” Joe poked his brother’s beefy shoulder. “HOSS!”
Hoss swatted at Joe’s hand. “Quit it Joe.” His little brother was like a flea nipping at him…buzzing and nipping and annoying him just as he was getting ahead.
“Hoss!” Now Joe was getting very angry.
Hoss was not paying attention to him either. Little Joe imagined that someday, when they showed his biography on “E” “Lifestyles of Famous Handsome Rock Stars (and the women who wanted them) they would say how neglected and abused he was by his family, and a poor motherless child to boot. Joe Cartwright would look directly at the gorgeous interviewer and reveal how Pa was addicted to television westerns, Adam picked on him and Hoss ate all the food and let poor Little Joe starve. But despite it all, Joe Cartwright would triumph over adversity and became a famous gazillionaire rock star with an entourage of gorgeous female fans.
“HOSS!!” Joe picked up Pa’s TV Guide and swatted his brother over the head. “I have to do my homework! Let me on the computer.”
Hoss shuddered. He had almost found the address of Mrs. Butterworth and lost his focus when Joe smacked him. He wondered why he suddenly thought his name was Heinrich.
“Okay…let me log off.” Hoss rubbed his head and remembered he was Hoss.
“Don’t bother…I’ll do it for you. Pa wants you in the other room anyway,” Little Joe lied. He already had his revenge in mind.
Hoss got up from the desk chair and lumbered into the room where Ben and Adam watched John Wayne blast five villains and ogle Maureen O’Hara.
Joe grinned as he slid into the rolling desk chair that Hoss had just vacated. The seat was still warm. Joe clicked to the next site and smiled as he read the screen. “Let the Pillsbury Dough Boy help you celebrate Contest. Do you look like the Pillsbury DoughBoy? Email us your picture and tell us why Pillsbury should send the Pillsbury Dancers to your party. We will also supply you with all the food from our line of famous products.”
Joe clicked open a few files. He found a picture of Hoss from last summer at the beach. A few clicks on the Photo Shop software and Hoss was enhanced with brighter blue eyes and whiter skin.
“No need to fatten you up Big Brother. You are plenty pokable as you are.” Joe hit the key that would send the picture to the contest and smiled as he logged off.
By Marcia Lee
The next day, at the High School.
Abigail Jones examined herself closely in the full-length mirror in her office. The tailored suit fit her just right, showing off her hips and waist. The color of the expensive tweed matched her hair and the new hairstyle framed her face perfectly.
“Hmmmm” the Washoe Valley High School Principle had a predatory grin on her face. “Adam Cartwright, eat your heart out.”
“Rinnggg!! Ringgg!!” The double warning bell for first period sounded. Outside in the halls the chatter of the students and the crash and bang of locker doors reached a noisy height.
Adam was sitting at his desk, he was staring at his open desk drawer and was beginning to feel hunted. Reposing prettily on top of his attendance book was a valentine. Innocent enough, after all Valentine’s Day was this Friday but this was the third card in two days from Abigail.
“RRRRINNNGG!!” The final bell for class sounded and his students which included Joe and Mitch were all in their seats waiting for their lesson in male and female reproductive processes to begin.
Adam stared down at the red and pink heart shaped card. Adam’s thoughts were running round and round like a hamster trapped on its wheel. “The woman is my boss! I should have known better than to take this job! What am I gonna do!!”
“Pssst!! Mr. ah…Cartwright?”
Adam was oblivious, his mind rapidly making plans and just as quickly discarding them.
“Uh…Adam?” It was Joe standing next to the desk, a curious look on his face.
“What!!” Adam looked up with a start and rapidly slammed the drawer shut, but not before Joe’s sharp eyes caught sight of the heart shaped valentine.
“Are you okay?” Joe’s face was a curious study as he eyed his suddenly nervous oldest brother.
Adam slewed around, suddenly aware that it was five minutes after the hour and fifteen pairs of bright curious eyes were watching him; soft laughter tittered through the room.
“Ah sure! Take your seat, Joe.” Adam lurched to his feet to start the lesson.
Joe took his seat at the back of the class. As soon as Adam, the teacher, turned to the blackboard to illustrate a point in the lecture--Mitch leaned over, questioning.
Joe’s mind was too full of delighted speculation. He shook his head at Mitch whispering, “Later.”
Adam could not concentrate on class that day. All he could think about was "HER"-his worse nightmare. "What I'm I going to do about "HER"? This can't be happening," he said out loud. The class looked at him and snickered.
"Class, today instead of a discussion, why don't you read chapter 6, and write down any questions you might have and I'll answer your questions tomorrow," Adam said to his class.
Little Joe sat there and watched his big brother as he sat there at his desk and he pinched the bridge of his nose.
Adam felt ill, so he got up and told the class that he would be back in a few minutes, and he left.
"Mitch, watch the door and let me know if you see Adam comin' back," said Little Joe as he ran up to Adam's desk, opened the drawer and looked at the three Valentine cards to see who they were from. He started to laugh and he put the cards back in the drawer, closed it and ran back to his seat. He told Mitch the cards were from Miss Jones and they both laughed. Adam then returned to the class.
As he sat there, Little Joe suddenly got some ideas in his head as what to do to Adam, and he giggled softly.
After school Little Joe and Mitch went to do some shopping. One of the shops they went to was called " A LITTLE BIT OF PLEASURE. Neither boy had ever been to that shop before, but they might be able to find something that Little Joe wanted for his plans. His plans would be in three parts.
PART ONE: To have Tiffany, one of his girlfriends, make a lipstick mark on a couple of dainty lace hankies that he had bought. Then he would put it in the drawer of Adam's desk.
PART TWO: This part would take Adam's mind totally off of Miss Jones, but it might also put him in trouble with Adam or
PART THREE: His best part of the plan would be a surprise gift box from Miss Jones to Adam for Valentines Day.
Next morning when Adam took his attendance book out of the drawer, he saw a lace hankie with a lipstick mark on it. He gasped, which made the class look at him. "OH NO," thought Adam as he sat there in shock shaking his head. Little Joe sat there with a smile on his face and he looked at Mitch and winked.
Early the next morning Little Joe got up very early before anyone else was up, and he got ready for PART TWO of his plan. The class knew of this part of the plan, so they were to help out with it. When Little Joe got to class and sat down, the rest of the class came in and they gathered around him and they did laugh at him. Soon Adam walked in reading a book, but he didn't notice the students gathered around his little brother.
When got to his desk he very slowly opened the drawer to take out his attendance book. He was really happy not to see anything from "HER" in the drawer.
"OK class-please, take your seats. While he was taking attendance he looked over towards his little brother, and he just stood there with his mouth open and stared. There sat Little Joe with GREEN HAIR!!!.
Adam walked over to his little brother, stood there staring at the green-haired, green-eyed boy.
"Hi big brother" said the boy with a big smile on his face.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR HAIR?" yelled Adam as he ran his fingers through Joe's soft curly hair.
"It's the new me Adam...I mean, Mr. Cartwright" Little Joe said as he was trying not to laugh.
"I DON'T BELIEVE
YOU DYED YOUR HAIR GREEN!” a very upset Adam said.
Adam slowly walked back to his desk, sat down and pinched the bridge of his nose, and shook his head. He thought, "what is Pa going to say when he sees his baby boy with GREEN HAIR? Why me God, why me? First it is “SHE”, and now my little brother. Oh GOD!” he said softly that time.
Finally Valentines Day arrived, and Little Joe was ready. His hair was back to its normal color. Pa was very angry with him for putting green food coloring in his hair. There had been a lot of loud yelling in the Cartwright household that evening of February 13th.
Little Joe got to class before Adam got there, and he placed the medium sized box on Adam's desk. It was nicely wrapped also. The boy had put in the box, a pair of black lace bikini panties, another lace hankie with lipstick mark, a small box of condoms, some chocolate hearts, a small can of whipping creme, a small bottle of Adam's favorite after shave lotion, and a very romantic Valentine card. Now he sat there and waited for "his victim" to arrive.
When Adam walked into the class he saw the nicely wrapped box sitting on his desk, and boy was he ever nervous, and he didn't know if he wanted to open it or not.
"Class, today we
are having a surprise quiz on chapter 6," Adam said as he started to hand
out the quiz paper to the students. A lot of grumbling could be heard.
"This quiz will be completed by the end of the class. You may begin
Adam went back to his desk, sat down and picked up the box and looked at it carefully. Little Joe kept one eye on Adam while he took his quiz. Adam slowly unwrapped the box and opened it, then he swallowed hard. First he read the card which almost made him sick. Then he parted the red tissue paper to see what was in the box. He just sat there and stared at what was in that box. All of a sudden, he felt rather ill and he got up and ran out of the room.
Little Joe was giggling so hard that he fell out of his chair and was rolling on the floor. By now the whole class was laughing.
"Boy Little Joe, you really got him," Mitch said laughing.
"This is just too funny," said a giggling Little Joe.
"I sure hope Adam NEVER finds out you did this, or you’re going to be in BIG TROUBLE, said Mitch.
"I will be in even bigger trouble when Hoss finds out. I sent his photo into the Pillsbury Company for him to be the Pillsbury DoughBoy look-alike" said Little Joe still giggling.
"JOE, JOE, JOE, when's your funeral gonna be?" laughed Mitch.
By Katja van den Berg
As soon as Adam had left the classroom he started to calm down. He slowed down and found himself standing in front of Abigail Jones' office. At first he thought it really were presents put there by Abigail, but after thinking about it for a few moments, he realized even Abigail wouldn't do that. Even though she obviously had a crush on him and wouldn't take ‘no’ for an answer, the woman did have class and she would never stoop this low. Besides, it just didn't look like a grown up thing. No, he was sure it was a prank. And he knew just who was behind it. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.
Now, the only thing he had to figure out was what to do about it. Of course he could play the heavy and haul the boy out of the classroom and into the principal's office, but that wouldn't teach the boy a thing. He'd been there quite a few times already, it never worked.
Another option was hauling him home and take care of him himself, but frankly, he had the feeling there must be a better way to deal with this, a way to teach him once and for all not to mess with his big brother.
And then it hit him. He just had to go through this door. He gathered his courage and knocked on the door waiting for the "enter" to go in. When he opened the door and walked in, Abigail Jones was standing by the window, again dressed sharply and fashionable and suddenly he realized that she had changed a lot since she started wearing these designer suits and cut her hair short. She looked feminine and strong. Dressed as she was he started to have a vision of her in those black lace panties, somehow he couldn't picture her in something an innocent white lacy thing. Now a sexy, tight-fitting latex suit on the other hand...a riding crop in her hand…
STOP, his mind screamed at him. That was the last thing he needed to have nightmares about. He shuddered and got his mind back to Joe.
"Can I help you, Adam?" She actually sounded pretty normal right now. No trace of that crush at all.
"Well, something has happened and I would like to deal with it in a certain original way. I can't do that without your help though." He said as he said down on the edge of the desk.
He proceeded to tell her about the things he had found in his drawer. Her first reaction was to call Joe into her office of course and start reading him the riot act, but when he explained his plan, she started to laugh.
"Well, I do have to ask my boyfriend of course. Although I have a feeling Marc will love the idea. He's used to pranks. He tells me doctors are constantly trying to get the better of one another. Anyway, I'd love to help out, Adam. Even on Valentine's Day." She blushed just a little. "You know there was a time when I would have committed murder for a Valentine's date with you. I think I made your life hell back then."
Adam smiled. "Well, you weren't that bad, but I'm glad you're happy now. Alright, better get ready for this."
Later that day at home, Joe was feeling pretty good. He was still relishing the look on Adam’s face when he had opened the box and although Adam’s look had changed significantly when he returned to class, Joe wasn’t too bothered with it. If Adam knew it was a prank he would have done something about it right there and then. All sorts of scenarios had gone through his head already and none had happened.
The look on Adam's face almost made up for not being able to go to the Valentine's dance with Lucy. Almost, it wasn't so much the dance as the promise Lucy had made to go to Inspiration Point with him.
But he was already working on a little idea to get to the dance anyway. Adam wasn't likely to be there. Didn't seem like he had a date the way he was hanging in the living room playing with the remote, flipping through the channels. No, he felt he was pretty safe.
So after dinner he made himself scarce, playing hurt and sulking about missing the dance. He saw Adam's amused looks and that made him even angrier. He'd show him! Well, not really of course, because showing his big brother meant getting caught and getting caught would probably lead to pain, pain in certain places, mainly that part of his anatomy that was meant to sit on. No, that was definitely something to be avoided.
So Joe stomped upstairs, mumbling he was tired. Pa watched him go, shaking his head. He could be such a kid sometimes. He looked at his eldest.
"You seem to be in a good mood." He remarked.
I am, Pa, I am." Adam chuckled. "I'll tell you all about it
"Should I be worried?" Ben inquired.
"No, no reason to be worried, it's all harmless; it'll just teach Joe a little lesson. A well deserved one, I might add."
Hoss looked up from working on some motor-parts that he had displayed on the table. "Aw, come on, Adam, Shortshanks ain't done nothin' to ya. He's jest young. Sometimes I think ya forgot how it was when ya was young."
"All I ask is that no one gets hurt and the law isn't broken. And don't come complaining to me when your plan, whatever it is, backfires." Pa looked at Hoss and thundered: "And how many times have I told you NOT to use the dinner table to work on your car. We have a perfectly fine garage for that. Now clean this up."
"Aw, shucks, Pa, it's cold in the garage. An' there ain't no one there ta talk to." Hoss almost whined.
"Brother, brother, brother" Adam shook his head. "There's a TV there, your…um… magazines." Hoss started to blush. "And I just had that mini-fridge put in the garage, so you'll have everything you need. Oh and it won't be cold, there's heating. Don't try to tell me you don't know that."
While Hoss reluctantly started to clear away his things and move everything into the garage, Adam headed upstairs to get ready. He put on his brand new leather pants that he bought earlier that day and new silk shirt that he didn't button up all the way showing off part of his chest, as the salesman showed him. When he looked at his image in the mirror he felt a bit odd, but he liked the feeling of his new clothes and he had a feeling it would attract a lot of attention which was just what he was after.
An hour later Joe was having fun on the dance floor with the most beautiful girl in the class, Lucy. He was wearing his tightest jeans and to be honest Lucy wasn't wearing much. Just the way he liked it. The low cut pale blue dress that barely covered her thighs looked stunning and didn't leave much to the imagination. Joe pulled her close as they were dancing and lost him self in the blue pools that were her eyes. He knew he was in love.
He didn't notice the commotion until the music stopped and Lucy looked up over his shoulder with a shocked face. She immediately let go of him and he slowly turned around to look into his brother's face.
It wasn't so much Adam's face that totally blew him, nor was it his outrageous outfit. No, it was the person on his arm. A figure dressed in a tight fitting stunning red dress, very low cut, showing every curve of her body, making all the boys in the room drool until they realized who it was.
Adam smiled at Joe. "Thanks, buddy, I don't think we would have found each other if it hadn't been for your interference. You know, putting those gifts in my drawer. If I hadn't gone to Abbie’s after that I would never have realized I loved her. Thanks." He pulled his brother into a hug and kissed him.
As all the teenagers in the room started to laugh and giggle and pointing at him, Joe wanted to crawl under a rock and disappear. He wasn't even concerned with being caught out of the house that was only secondary to a more pressing problem right now. How could Adam do this to him? His reputation was ruined. He would never be able to show his face in school again. His brother was dating the principal, Miss Abigail Jones.
By Rona Young
Standing there as Adam walked away with his arm round Abigail, Joe felt as though his world had stopped turning. Lucy was doubled over with laughter, and none of the rest of his friends could meet his eyes without copying her. At that moment, Joe wished the floor would open up and swallow him. He backed away from the middle of the floor, and the music started up again.
It took a long time for the flush to die away from Joe’s face. He kept his eyes riveted on Adam and Abigail, tripping the light fantastic out there in the middle of the floor. He had to admit that they made quite a striking pair, but the thought of his brother marrying her made Joe want to puke.
Joe had no idea where Lucy had gone, but he no longer really cared. He just wanted to get out of there, but his pride wouldn’t let him leave. He stood by the wall and watched.
“Thank you,” Adam said, as he danced with Abigail. “This has worked out better than I ever dreamed!”
Laughing, Abigail said, “I’ve certainly never seen him with the wind out of his sails before.” She cast another glance at the unhappy, pole-axed teenager. “When are you going to tell him truth?”
“Later,” Adam responded, drawing her closer. “Much later. After Pa has finished tanning his hide for coming. He’s on restriction.”
Later, during a break in the dancing, Adam crossed over to talk to Joe. He was beginning to feel that perhaps the joke had gone further than he had intended. Joe was certainly very upset. “Joe?” he said.
“Go away, Adam,” Joe said, refusing to look at him. “You’ve had your fun, now go away.”
“Don’t be like that,” Adam said. “It is such a big deal?”
Giving his oldest brother a disgusted look, Joe began to walk away. He didn’t care any more; he was going home. Adam grabbed his arm. “Wait a minute,” he protested.
“Let go of me!” Joe hissed, totally overwrought. He struggled against Adam’s grip. “Let go!”
“Now, just wait a minute, young man,” Adam began, but Joe wasn’t waiting to hear anything Adam had to say. He gave Adam a shove in the chest just as Adam let go of his arm.
They both tumbled to the floor, attracting yet more attention from the avid crowd of teenagers who had enough gossip to last for the next few months, if not years. Joe landed heavily on his still slightly tender butt, and bit his bottom lip to stop groaning out loud. He jumped to his feet, and fled outside. He jumped into the car, started the ignition and drove erratically home.
Back in the gym, Abigail rushed over to Adam, who was still sitting on the floor, looking slightly stunned. “Are you all right?” she asked, anxiously.
“I’m not hurt,” Adam assured her, but he seemed in no hurry to rise. Perplexed, Abigail shooed away the kids, and turned back.
“What is it, Adam?” she asked.
Looking up at her, he said, “Pa warned me that whatever I had planned would backfire on me. I didn’t believe him, but I sometimes wonder if he has second sight.”
“Why?” she asked, but the suggestion of a smile was playing over her lips as she began to suspect the nature of Adam’s predicament.
Climbing carefully to his feet, Adam looked over his shoulder. Peering round, Abigail could no longer contain her laughter. “You split your pants!” she cackled and leaned against his shoulder and laughed until the tears ran down her face.
When he arrived home, Joe was still very upset by the scene in the gym. He had forgotten that he wasn’t supposed to have gone to the dance; all he wanted was to get inside and retreat to his room. He flung open the door of the house, and only when he saw his father’s surprised, then angry, face did he remember.
“Joseph?” Ben said, rising. “Where have you been?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “You went to that dance, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I went to the dance,” Joe snapped. “And thanks to Adam I’ve been totally humiliated!”
“Don’t talk to me like that!” Ben snapped, furious at his tone, and furious that Joe had disobeyed him. “What’s this about Adam?”
“Ask him!” Joe shot back and fled upstairs. Ben let him go. He’d seen the tears on Joe’s face, and decided that whatever had happened, had been bad enough without him castigating him any further. However, he meant to get the bottom of it.
At breakfast next morning, Joe’s face was still closed and sullen. Adam didn’t look much better, and Ben seemed to be wavering between anger and amusement. He had laughed uproariously when Adam returned home the pervious evening with his expensive leather pants split down the backside, and he had laughed even harder when he discovered what had preceded that event. Now, both sons were waiting to hear what he would say.
“As far as I am concerned, last night is over with,” he said, sternly, “and we’ll hear no more about it. Joe, you are still grounded, until I say otherwise. You will all come with me today to town to meet my friends, the Longlosts. I expect you to cheerful and polite to the girls, and to escort them around. No sulky faces, Joseph, is that understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Joe muttered, his face set in a rebellious frown. He swiftly cleared that away as he caught the glare his father sent him. He had been slightly mollified by the news that Adam had been embarrassed in front of the kids, too, but it would take several days before either brother could laugh about it.
They set off to town, in plenty of time for the start of the film festival. Ben had arranged to meet Shmeckie Longlost in plenty of time for them to have coffee and a chat. He hadn’t seen Shmeckie in years.
So it came as a shock to see his old friend with two beautiful young ladies, and realize that the last time he had seen the girls, they had been toddlers with long blonde ringlets. Now, the older girl had orange streaks in her hair and the younger one….
Her hair was cerise. There was no other color to describe it. She wore boot-cut jeans with high-heeled tan cowboy boots, and a sleeveless T-shirt, which showed off the large tattoo of a horse on her right upper arm. Ben could feel his jaw dropping. Joe could feel a smile creeping across his face. Perhaps this visit wouldn’t be so bad after all!
All through the introductions, Ben could hardly keep his eyes off Katherine. She was well aware of his scrutiny, and smiled graciously. But most of her attention was on Joe, who grinned at her. Before too long, they were ushered off to allow their fathers to reminisce.
“Is that a real tattoo?” Joe asked, longingly. The horse reminded him of his horse, Cochise.
“Sure is,” Katherine laughed. “And it’s permanent.”
“Did you see my pa’s face?” Joe cackled. He felt restored to his normal good spirits. “He went mad when I got this done,” and he flicked his earring, which Ben had studiously ignored after the first day.
“My dad wasn’t too keen on the hair or the tattoo,” Katherine admitted, “but that’s his problem, not mine. My hair, and my body.” She grinned, and Joe thought how pretty she was. “Do you really want to go to this festival?” she asked.
“No,” Joe replied, honestly. “Do you?”
“No fear!” she replied rolling her eyes. She beckoned to her sister Madeleine, who was talking to Adam and Hoss. They all came over.
“Why don’t we skip this festival?” she asked. “Go for something to drink, then go out and see your ranch?”
“I guess we could,” Adam agreed, for the thought of the festival didn’t thrill him either. Hoss just nodded. Anywhere they could get a drink meant that he could get a snack, and then he’d have something to do with his hands.
They hit the mall, and went into a café. Hoss ate his own and Adam’s donut without noticing. Adam did notice, but said nothing. Hoss was too overcome by the girls’ prettiness to say anything. After a time, they strolled round the mall, and then headed back to the ranch.
The mail had been delivered since they left, and Adam flicked through it idly, setting aside the one letter for him. “Hoss, there’s one for you,” he said. “It’s from the Pillsbury Dough Company.”
“For me?” Hoss said, and Joe suddenly went very pale and quiet. Katherine gave him a look. Hoss tore open the envelope and read the letter slowly, his eyes getting wider and wider. When he finished, he jerked his head round and looked at Joe. “JOE!” he bellowed.
At that, Joe turned tail and fled outside. He knew Hoss couldn’t out run him, but he didn’t want to risk running out of places to run to! He glanced over his shoulder to see where Hoss was, and if he was coming after him and that was when disaster struck.
The night before, Hoss had managed to bump the front of his Bronco with the tractor, and had knocked off the pair of longhorns mounted on the front. Since he wasn’t taking his car into town that day, he hadn’t yet got around to putting them back on.
Dodging round the car to take a breather, and gauge Hoss’ mood, Joe stepped right on the tip of one horn. It went straight through the rather worn sole of Joe’s favorite sneakers, and penetrated his left foot!
For a moment, Joe stood there transfixed. He was aware of an intense, excruciating pain and there appeared to be something poking through the top of his sneaker. Sneaking a quick peak, Joe let out a yell of horror as he realized that his foot was firmly impaled on those stupid longhorns Hoss insisted on sticking on the front of his pickup. Honestly, his brother had no taste at all! Didn’t he know that the only really cool thing to display on your wheels was an Eminem sticker? Mind you, it was marginally better than having them hanging over the fireplace.
Hearing the anguished cry, the remaining Cartwrights rushed over.
“Probably had another unfortunate accident,” Ben thought mentally.
the boy was so accident-prone. What a good thing he’d invested in a fully comprehensive
medical policy for the entire family the day Joseph was born. He’d got his
money’s worth on Joe alone in the first year, while Doctor Paul Martin was able
to afford a new Mercedes every year, two holidays in the
“Joe!” Adam gasped, quickly summing up the situation and grabbing hold of his young brother’s swaying body.
The blood was now gushing out Joe’s foot at an alarming rate and the boy was deathly pale. Joe opened his eyes fractionally and they lit upon Ben, who rushed to his side and laid a manly, comforting hand on his youngest son’s forearm.
“Oh Pa!” Joe moaned softly and his luminous eyes filled with tears. In this light, it was difficult to tell exactly what color they were: they could be green, but then again, they might be hazel.
“It’s all right son – I’m here!” Ben said reassuringly.
Well, he’d had a lot of practice with those words over the years. He pushed Joe’s curls back from his forehead and stifled an exclamation – those young people and their passion for wet-look hair gel. Joe smiled slightly at the familiar comforting touch, then grimaced and threw up all over Adam’s brand new Tod’s loafers.
“I’ll go for the Doc!” Hoss said, feeling dreadfully guilty, but deeply grateful for the chance to do something useful.
His brother was maimed, and it was his entire fault. But just then, there was the sound of sirens and Clem drove up, blue lights flashing on top of his patrol car. He did not get out, but merely raised a megaphone and bellowed out instructions.
“Adam Cartwright! Move away! Face against the barn, legs spread and hands up!”
Adam looked stunned, but he obeyed, trying to ignored the unpleasant squelching noise coming from his sadly ruined shoes.
Clem got out of the car, looking rather forbidding in his biker boots and mirrored sunglasses.
“What’s all this nonsense about?” Ben demanded, his powerful voice causing all the windows in Clem’s patrol car to quiver and vibrate. Only last week they’d had to replace the double-glazed patio windows after a little outburst and the Cartwrights had long since switched to plastic glasses, as the real things only lasted a matter of hours before being shattered by the powerful bellow of the Patriarch of the Ponderosa.
“I’ve got a warrant for Adam’s arrest. He’s accused of recklessly endangering the morals of young, impressionable schoolchildren by willfully exposing himself at a school dance!”
Adam grew almost as pale as Joe, who was more than a little put out to realize that he was no longer the center of attention.
“Excuse me,” he murmured faintly. “I’m maimed. Bleeding rather badly and ruining Pa’s chinos?”
Hop Sing tried to control himself, but he was totally fed up with having to take blood-covered clothes to Number Three Cousin and then plead for them to be restored to their former glory. Not that his cousin had ever let him down: the man was a genius among laundry workers and his invisible mending had to be seen if I was to be believe. Why one would almost think a brand new garment had been purchased!
Clem refused to listen to Adam’s protestations of innocence. “You expect me to believe that a man your age would be parading around in leather pants before innocent youngsters? And don’t try to drag Miss Abigail into it. She’s a fine lady. A little repressed perhaps, and certainly disillusioned, but a nice lady.”
Adam tried to explain further, but when he mentioned the silk shirt, Clem had a hard time keeping a straight face. “Were you wearing a medallion too and going to a costume party as Tom Jones?”
Even Ben had to laugh at that one.
Just as Clem was fastening the shackles around Adam’s wrist and ankles (being careful to avoid the copious amounts of vomit), the sound of loud music and laughter could be heard and a large pantechnicon drove into the yard. The doors opened, and a bevy of beautiful young girls spilled out, wearing crop tops, short skirts and high heels. They shrieked and screamed happily, before gyrating wildly around the yard. Joe squinted painfully and saw that Katherine and Madeleine had joined the dancers and were doing an energetic dance routine that blended the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
One side of the truck slowly raised up to reveal a large screen, emblazoned with a gigantic picture of Hoss wearing only his swim shorts and a sheepish smile, beneath which a caption proclaimed: “Hoss Cartwright – the living, breathing, eating Pillsbury Boy!” Beneath the screen, a large table was groaning with an incredible assortment of goodies and Hoss’ mouth began to water uncontrollably.
A small, bespectacled man ran over and grabbed the bemused Hoss in an enthusiastic hug. “Congratulations! You were a clear, out-and-out winner!” he announced. “We want to sign you to an exclusive 5-year contract, starting at $1 million a year! Fame and fortune is yours.”
“Nope,” Hoss said slowly.
The man looked astounded. A slow smile spread over Hoss’ face as he explained, “I want $1 million, plus all the Pillsbury products I can eat! And exclusive tasting rights on all new lines.”
The Pillsbury representative blanched, but a handy accountant pulled out a calculator and did some hasty sums. They could just afford it, but profit margins would be drastically reduced. Still, as he said to Hoss “You’re worth it!”
Ben sat there astounded, absentmindedly cradling the injured Joe in his arms, watching dumbfounded as Adam was lead off to face charges and Hoss disappeared with the Pillsbury people.
By Jennie A. and DebbieB
The door to the police station swung wide as Clem led the notorious Adam Cartwright into the building. Policemen and criminals alike stopped in their tracks to turn and stare at the man in black.
Adam glanced around nervously, hoping to find Roy Coffee amid the small crowd who gathered to gawk at him. Clem led him slowly toward a door to the rear of the main office. As he walked slowly, hampered by the shackles around his ankles, he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his caboose. His body suddenly jerked forward as he spun his head around to see what had caused the mysterious pinching sensation to his perfectly curved buttocks. Adam looked straight into the dark eyes of a retched old woman that instantly reminded him of Whistler’s mother, or was it Granny Clampet? The old lady grinned, revealing the hag’s missing teeth. Adam scrunched up his nose; her perfumed smelt more like BO that Chanel # 8 or was it #5?
“Yeah ya, cutie-pie,” the old woman cooed. “Wanna mess around?”
Adam drew back as the woman reached out to squeeze his debonair once more.
“Hmm…no thank you, ma’am, I’m already spoken for,” Adam quickly answered as he shoved Clem through the door and into the next office.
A sudden loud boisterous laughter stopped him dead in his tracks.
well, well,” laughed
Adam stepped forward, a frown creasing his handsome face. He suddenly realized that he was impairing his natural good looks and smiled instead.
“Roy, what’s this all about?” he said, trying hard to keep the smile perfect so that it enhanced the dimple in his cheek, the one on his face, not on his perfectly shaped buttocks, for only a chosen few knew of that one.
knelt down being careful not to get his hands dirtied and removed the leg
chains and then the wrist chains. Adam
rubbed each wrist and forgetting the smile that enhanced his facial dimple,
“I demand an explanation,” he said.
“Um Roy,” Adam said, feeling his face grow hot with embarrassment, for what the sheriff was saying was nothing short of the truth. Adam was well aware of the impact he had on most of the local women, both married and single…and Miss Abigail Jones was certainly one of his pursuers. “I get the picture,” he finished. “And, I thank you…now, if I am free to go?”
Adam arrived back at the ranch just as the ambulances, fire trucks, and the local chapter of the Rescue Squad and Life Force were leaving. Frightened, Adam jumped from the patrol car that he had borrowed to get home in, and ran into the house.
All seemed natural as he burst through the door and into the main room. Pa was sitting in his favorite red leather chair that he forbid any of his sons to sit in, Joe was sitting on the hearth with his face buried in his hands, and Hoss was sitting in the blue chair munching on a Pillsbury snack.
Ben looked up at his son, noting the worried expression on his first borns’ handsome face. He was proud of his son, Adam was like a living extension of himself and each time he gazed into his son’s hazel eyes, Ben saw himself, in his youth, looking back.
home son, I take it that since you’re here…
“Well, actually, this time, he thought he was saving me from the clutches of Miss Abigail Jones, you know,” said Adam as he sat down on the hearth next to Joe and causally glanced at the weeping youth and then back to his father, “Roy didn’t believe me when I told him I had really asked her out…he just laughed and gave me the keys to his car.”
Joe’s weeping was growing in volume. Adam glanced again at his brother and turned to his father.
“What’s with him? I thought he lost his foot and what was all that ruckus in the front yard. Do you know that when Life Force took off, they nearly blew the shingles off the barn, and the sirens spooked the horses in the corral, and the Rescue Squad left in such a hurry they dug ruts into the earth?”
Adam turned around to Joe. “Boy…what IS wrong with you?”
Joe looked unhappily into Adam’s face. “It was only ketchup,” he whimpered.
“Ketchup?” muttered Adam, confused.
“Yeah,” answered Hoss, stuffing a whole crescent roll into his mouth. “itth was jthust ketuph,” he muttered.
“What? I can’t understand a word you’re saying with your mouth stuffed so full,” snapped Adam, not caring that his family could see his frown that took away from his exquisitely chiseled features.
“Ketchup,” Ben repeated.
“Joseph, why don’t you go out to the kitchen and fix you something to eat so that I can have a word in private with your brother?” Ben instructed.
Joe looked up sadly at his father and then down at Adam. “That’s all it was…nothing more than a tiny package of ketchup smeared all over the bottom of my shoe,” stammered Joe.
“You mean, you didn’t really hurt your foot?”
“Nope,” sniffed Joe.
“I don’t understand…which is so unlike me, but if you aren’t really hurt, why are you so upset?” Adam asked with real concern showing on his immaculately shaven face.
Joe took a deep breath and then let it out slowly. “Well for Pete’s sake, wouldn’t you be disappointed if you thought you were dying and was going to get to fly on the rung of the Life Force helicopter and then find out it was only ketchup and not blood?”
Adam started laughing…his tone was merry and the sound was perfectly pitched.
“Sheesh, Adam, you have no heart…I don’t find anything you’ve done today, or tonight a bit amusing…and you sit there laughing in that annoyingly perfect voice, at me missing the opportunity of a lifetime!”
Joe stomped off toward the kitchen, wiping his dripping nose on the sleeve of his shirt. Adam glanced at his father who was smiling warmly at him.
“The boy really needs to get a life, Pa…I think he needs to set higher goals for himself, like I’ve done…or even Hoss.”
Adam glanced at his middle brother. Hoss was still eating and he looked up and grinned at both his brother and his father.
“I think someday, Hoss will be a fine connoisseur of good food. I will be a master Shakespearean play-write, and Little Joe will be…what Pa, a trouble magnet?” smiled Adam.
Three months later:
A sharp rap at the door brought Hop Sing running from the kitchen. He pulled opened the door and nodded his head in greeting.
“Welcome oh Master of Law Enforcement and Dedicated Deputy, enter,” bowed Hop Sing.
howdy ya self, Hop Sing,” greeted
Ben rose from his chair to greet his friends.
“Roy, Clem, what brings the two of you out this way?” Ben smiled as he motioned for the pair to make themselves comfortable.
Adam, Joe and Hoss came from the hallway upstairs where they had been listening and joined their father and the sheriff and Clem.
brought the paper for ya to read, Hoss.”
“What is it?” Hoss asked curiously.
Ben, Adam, Joe, Roy, Clem and Hop Sing gathered around Hoss, all trying to peer over his shoulder. Hoss cleared his throat and began reading aloud.
“Pillsbury Files Chapter 13”, Hoss said aloud, glancing at everyone.
Pillsbury can no longer fill orders on demand, and because of a lack of
revenue, due to a huge deal struck with a local
“Well dadburnitall,” grumbled Hoss as he put down his paper. “And just when I thought I’d found my niche in life!”
Joe began jumping up and down. “It’s okay Hoss…really,” the excited boy shouted.
Every head turned and every eye looked into the smiling face of the young boy. Joe grinned, showing off his perfectly straight teeth that had been freed of their braces.
“Hoss, listen…I was goofing around on the computer last night…and I found this great web site. Wanna know what I found?” he grinned as the light twinkled back from the shine on his teeth.
“What?” the group echoed.
“M&M’s is having a look-a-like contest of their own…” Joe laughed, his tone was high-pitched for his voice had yet to fully change and was not as perfect as his older brother’s was.
“They’re looking for the perfect p-nut shaped body…and I figured, what with all of those Pillsbury products you’ve been eating for the last three months, that you might stand a good chance to win…so I…”
Hoss’ eyes rounded wide and he glared at the boy. “JOSEPH…YOU DIDN’T?” he said, beginning to circle around his little brother.
Joe gulped and backed away. “Now Hoss…listen…”
“NO, YOU LISTEN,” bellowed Hoss, moving in to make a grab for the boy.
Joe turned toward the door, running, with Hoss close behind.
“But Hoss, you’d make the perfect p-nut!” shouted Joe as he made his way across the yard. “And if ya win, ya get a lifetime supply of M&M’s. Just think about it Hoss…ya love those fat candy-coated nuts, and you’d be so cute dressed up as one…Oh, did I tell you about that? Ya get to be in a commercial and ya gotta….Hoss…Hoss….!
The small group of men, followed quickly behind Hoss and laughed as Hoss chased Joe around the corner of the barn, yelling.
“JOSEPH, JUST WAIT’LL I GET MY HANDS ON YOU!”