Word Count: 1900
Adam Cartwright was flabbergasted! What could this little lady mean that he wasn’t who he was? “But ma’am, I am Adam Cartwright! Why won’t you believe me?” he leaned forward and looked pleadingly into the little gray hair lady’s bright blue eyes.
“Because, the young man had a couple of letters with him addressed to Adam Cartwright, that’s why,” she smiled up at him patiently. “So the stagecoach driver gave him the package.”
“Darn,” Adam slammed his fist disgustedly on the counter, narrowly missing his own black hat. They had the Model 1795 Flintlock Musket. It was handmade in Springfield, Massachusetts…one of only 245 in that first year of production.* It was the devil to locate the rare firearm — it took months — and he had wheeled and dealed to secure it as a present for his father’s birthday tomorrow. He had to pay the equivalent of a stagecoach fare to get it here to Carson City and now the gun appeared to be in the hands of his conniving, sneaky… “Sorry, ma’am.” he came back to reality and apologized as he noticed the clerk’s shocked expression. “Is that all he had to prove ‘he’ was me?”
“Well, he did have this big jolly- looking young man with him. He vouched for him being Adam Cartwright. He even said he was this Adam’s big brother, so he did.” She flicked her feather duster playfully at his nose to get him to move so she could come around to the front of the counter.
“Was this big jolly looking young man so tall” — Adam reached up indicating roughly 6’4” tall — “And so wide,” — he again used his arms to indicating 6’4” wide — “And did he have blue eyes…and a ten gallon hat?”
“Yes, indeed!” the older lady nodded her head up and down. “Said his name was …Horse…or something like that…”
“Hoss…,” Adam hissed covered his eyes with his hands.
“Yes, that was it… That’s a funny sort of name, isn’t it?” The old woman laughed, swiping her cleaning implement over the mirror that hung on the wall.
“Oh, I’m pretty sure he’s been called worse names than that before,” Adam remarked snidely, “Particularly by me.” He picked up his hat from the counter and turned to go but then stopped and pivoted around. “Could you please describe this fella who said he was ‘me’ so I won’t be making any mistake when I strangle him?”
The little woman was taken aback. “You’re not going to hurt that cute young man, are you?”
Adam shook his head wearily. “I promise I won’t strangle him, if that helps you out.” He smiled in that special way that showed his dimple and usually convinced ladies to tell him almost anything even their age and weight.
“Well, he had green eyes and curly brown hair,” she caved in. “And a very angelic face.”
“This Adam and his brother didn’t say where they were headed, did they?” He gave her the dimpled smile once more.
Adam’s smile worked again. “Oh, they did say they had to be getting back home but they wanted to stop at the livery to have them look at a loose shoe on Adam’s paint pony before they headed to the saloon for a beer with Bull.”
“Bull?” Adam looked at her quizzically.
The clerk looked at him a bit impatiently but there was that dimple still. “Bull’s the stage driver that delivered the package to Adam Cartwright,” she explained matter-of-factly.
Adam rolled his eyes. And you think Hoss is funny sort of name? He chuckled, took her right hand which luckily didn’t have the feather duster in it and planted a soft kiss on her fingers. “Oh, thank you, dear lady. You’ve been a big help.” He released her hand and strode out the door with one purpose in mind: fratricide — that is, after he found pseudo-Adam and his big brother “Horse” and secured the Model 1795 Flintlock Musket.
Being of superior intelligence to his little brothers, at least in his own opinion, Adam thought it best to wait in the saloon for them to talk about the gun and their underhanded way of trying to win the little $100 bet about who got Pa the best gift. Anyway, why have a fight with them in the livery stable when he could pass the time with a very buxom, very pretty brunette saloon girl who he spied as he passed by The Lucky Dog saloon on the way to the livery stable? The only problem was this particular saloon girl was clinging to a mountain of man who unbelievably was much bigger than his big little brother. “Hmmm,” Adam thought, resting his hands on the top of the swinging doors surveying the two of them. Could this be Bull? Could he be the jealous type? An inebriated cowhand accidentally bumping into the dark haired beauty and the ‘mountain’ effortlessly tossing the 200 pound cowhand clear to the other side of the room after he growled at him about “not touching his Genevieve”, confirming Adam’s suspicions about him being the jealous type. His identity was simultaneously confirmed by Genevieve who admonished him sharply by telling him in no uncertain terms that “I am not your girl, Bull.”
Adam smiled devilishly to himself, realizing that the pair was the answer to his predicament. So baby brother wants to be Adam Cartwright, huh? Well, let’s see about that. He chuckled, pushed the doors open and, before you could say ‘Model 1795 Flintlock Musket,’ settled himself at the far end of the bar to wait.
It wasn’t a long one. Adam had no more than taken two swallows from his glass before the ‘mountain’ excused himself and disappeared into the backroom. Here’s my opening. Adam straightened himself up and moved closer to the unsuspecting dancehall girl, like a proverbial spider going after the helpless little fly. With almost no effort on his part, he very quickly found his arm around Genevieve’s waist whispering into her ear about Adam Cartwright’s loneliness, Adam Cartwright’s dreams, Adam Cartwright’s terrible relatives, Adam Cartwright’s riches and Adam Cartwright’s desire to show her the world. He hoped he said Adam Cartwright enough times.
Genevieve giggled at first at his tale of woe but when he got to the ‘riches’ part, she snapped to attention. “How sad!” Then before he could again remind her of his name — “Adam Cartwright” – she kissed him on the cheek, told him that she would be back soon and disappeared up the stairs and out of sight.
This is too simple, Adam laughed as he drained his beer glass and moved to the dark back of the barroom where he could see everything but he could not be easily seen, given his partiality to the color black. It would only be a matter of time before…
And here it was! Bull was back at the bar banging on its top demanding, “Whiskey!” and looking around for…
Genevieve then appeared at the top of the staircase, a navy blue hat with a bright red plume placed slightly askew on her head and a navy cloak thrown over her shoulders. In one hand was a large obviously heavy carpetbag and in her other, her drawstring purse. She rushed down the staircase and immediately began to scan the room for…
“Adam!” she called dropping the carpetbag and twisting a full 360 degrees to try to locate him. “Oh, Adam!”
He ducked to avoid her detection.
“What do you mean ‘Adam’?” The ‘mountain’ was immediately beside her, spinning her around to face him. “Who’s Adam?” he roared, taking her by the shoulders.
At the sound of the big man’s voice, everyone in the bar stopped what they were doing – drinking, gambling, laughing, singing – to watch what Bull and Genevieve were doing.
“The man I intend to go to San Francisco with, you big lummox!” She tramped on his toe, causing him to release her and proceeded to call out his full name this time. “Adam Cartwright! I’m ready to leave…Adam!!! Where are you? A-dam!!!” She climbed up a few steps again so she could see better.
“Adam Cartwright,” Bull growled scanning the entire room for the green eyed, curly brown haired young man with the angelic face to whom he had delivered the package. “Where are you? You mangy, gal-stealing, doublecros-…”
At that exact moment, a laughing, joking, pseudo-Adam Cartwright a/k/a Little Joe came swinging through the barroom doors, closely followed by his big brother Hoss who was carrying Pa’s birthday present nonchalantly in his right hand.
Gotcha. Adam began to move clandestinely through the darkness in the back of the room toward his siblings.
“Cartwright!!!!!!!” Bull bellowed loudly at Joe and glowered at him.
Joe’s head snapped around to locate the bellow and saw the big man. Not knowing what was in store for him, he grinned broadly and walked toward Bull extending his right hand for a friendly handshake. Too late he saw the horrible red glow in his eyes.
“Keep away from my girl!!!!” Bull lowered his head, pawed the sawdust on the floor twice and charged right at Joe full tilt, hitting him in the chest with his head and driving him backwards into a wide-eyed, off balanced Hoss.
His middle brother didn’t quite have the hold he thought he did on the Model 1795 Flintlock Musket, for his baby brother crashing into him sent the firearm flying into the air, sort of spinning up and backwards as it went.
Laughing Adam, the master of perfect timing, ran forward from out of the shadows and snagged Pa’s present before any harm came to it.
“That‘s Adam Cartwright back there!” Genevieve pointed to Adam from her raised position on the steps. “Yoo-hoo!” she waved her purse at him and he blew her a kiss. “Adam! I ready!”
“You’re Adam Cartwright too?” Bull who just seemed to have recovered his senses from his head-butt to Joe’s middle, gaped at the real Adam in disbelief.
“The one and only.” Adam bowed to the man, doffing his hat in the process. He then smirked down at both of his dazed brothers — “See you back at the ranch!” — tucked the gun under his arm, and fled the bar with Genevieve hot on his heels still yelling, “Adam!”
Ben Cartwright smiled broadly as he gently caressed the walnut stock of the vintage firearm. He was sitting at his desk using a magnifying glass to examine every inch of the 1795 Flintlock Musket. “Just beautiful,” he muttered. “This is truly one of kind.”
“Just like me,” Adam said to his brothers who were standing behind him. He extended his palms back toward them. “That’s 100 dollars, please.” He wiggled his fingers to give them the idea.
Hoss rolled his eyes as he reached into his pocket and retrieved his share of the bet.
“That’s for darn sure,” Joe whispered in Adam’s ear as he handed him the cash. “One Adam Cartwright’s all this family needs.”
* Wikipedia Encyclopedia, “1795 Flintlock Musket.”