Summary: What happens when Adam and Joe have time to kill until the stage arrives?
Word Count: 1,010
The men in the town of Virginia City were beginning to turn out in full force as word spread via quiet whispers of the imminent spectacle, a once in a life time event that was taking everyone by surprise. Sam at the Silver Dollar began to brood as one by one his patrons headed for the door. It was one thing for his establishment to clear out as a result of a bar room brawl between ranch hands and miners, but it wasn’t late enough on Saturday, it wasn’t even night yet, and these men were calmly walking out the batwing doors. They waited along the boardwalk and looked down the main street to watch.
Across the hard packed street in front of the Hardware store, men stood around the wagon stocked full of supplies. Two horses stood patiently in their harnesses, dozing in the warm afternoon sun that highlighted their coats. Their tails swished easily, batting down any flies that chose to land on them, but neither horse appeared agitated as the men began to gather. Occasionally, one or the other would shake their head and neck causing the chains that ran from the harnesses to the singletree to jingle.
A stranger to town might have thought that a shootout between two known gunslingers would soon erupt, but for the fact that no one was hiding, they stood calmly, and in full view. Not one appeared worried or nervous; a hip cocked against the side of a building or an elbow resting against a stack of crates indicated everyone’s devil-may-care attitude.
The men whispered, inquiring what was stirring, but from one man to the next they shrugged their shoulders indicating they didn’t know exactly; they’d heard the rumor and as such, something was bound to happen. It had been a long time since they’d seen her with such a determined look in her eye and she only had her eyes on one man. And if it happened on the main street and involved a Cartwright; then it was bound to be good.
Two of Ben Cartwright’s sons sauntered from the Silver Dollar saloon, both with a beer in hand and took in the sight of their friends and neighbors gathering along the boardwalk.
“How much longer do you think it’s going to be Adam?” Little Joe asked as they stepped to stand behind the back of a wagon.
“Don’t know, but the stage isn’t due in for another hour or so, at least that’s what Slim said when I asked him earlier.” Adam answered as he checked his pocket watch.
“Do you think it’ll get here on time?”
Both brothers and the others took in the happening down the road in front of the boarding house.
“Pa’s gonna be upset that it’s running late,” Joe offered.
“I imagine so,” Adam answered.
“I feel bad for Hoss,” Joe commented and sipped his beer.
“It couldn’t be helped,” Adam replied.
Both brothers kept their eyes on the unfolding affair just down the street.
“Do you think we should go help him?” Joe asked.
“Nope,” Adam stated before he lifted the glass to his lips and took a deep drink of the still frothy beer. “He said that he didn’t need our kind of assistance.”
“I know, but that was before…”
“If you want to be the one to go over there and suffer his wrath…” Adam smirked, his eyebrows rose as if daring Joe.
“Nah, think I’ll wait right here and sip my beer.” Joe looked around and saw more people coming to stand around them. Whispers slipped by on the wind, but words could not be distinguished. “Do you think maybe we should go get Roy?”
“He’s not there. I saw him leave early this afternoon, overheard him muttering about an errand to run.”
“He could really use Roy’s help,” Joe muttered under his breath. “Ya know Adam, he’s getting awfully red in the face.”
“That he is,” offered Adam with a calm smile on his face.
“Maybe I should go get Doc Martin…”
“No need, he’s over there…” With his in beer hand, he motioned off to the left. Adam carefully moved the glass, aware that he had spilled some of its contents as he pointed to the good doctor.
“Do you think he’s going to be okay?”
“He should… especially when he’s reminded of today’s date.”
Joe looked curiously to his eldest brother, “Today’s date? I don’t get it.”
“That’s because the joke’s not on you, little brother.”
“I’d say right about now, Clementine Hawkins should be getting ready to let Pa off the hook about accepting his marriage proposal…”
Joe interrupted, “But Pa wouldn’t propose… Not to her… I mean… He wouldn’t propose without discussing it with us, would he?” His voice revealed his panic. “Please… I can’t see her as my step-mother.”
“Don’t worry, Pa didn’t propose. It all started in good fun after last Saturday’s barn dance…”
“What started? What happened?”
“Well…” Adam teased, waiting to see how long he could bait his youngest brother.
“Ah, come on Adam. You know Pa sent me to Old Man Grigson’s to deliver those horses and I had to miss the dance.”
“All right,” Adam conceded. “From what Roy told me, it seems that Pa bumped into Mrs. Hawkins, causing her to twist her ankle. And the way she carried on… Well, Pa felt so guilty, he spent the rest of the evening attending her, getting her punch and cookies and cake… Like I said, Roy and Paul probably cooked this up with Widow Hawkins; she’s probably getting ready to wish Pa a Happy April Fool’s Day as we speak. Too bad Hoss had to go out-of-town and miss this.”
“Adam… I hate to burst your bubble, but… uh… today isn’t April First, that’s tomorrow.”
The beer mug fell from Adam’s hand, shattering as it hit the ground, splashing the remaining contents on his pant legs and boots.
Story inspired by events occurring in The Burma Rarity