Word Count: 1300
“Adam!!!! Where are you, Adam??? Adam!!!!” A very winded Little Joe a.k.a. Joseph Francis Cartwright ran around the corner of the barn and screeched to a halt in front of his oldest brother who was dozing in a chair outside the bunkhouse.
“Ooooo…hold on.” Adam opened one of his eyes to find his extremely agitated baby brother huffing and puffing for all he was worth. He closed it, yawned loudly and stretched his long lean body out to its foot 6 foot plus length.
“But, Adam…” Joe protested, still gasping for air.
“Just a minute.” Adam, his eyes still closed, continued his gyrations trying to get the kinks out of his back while at the same time giving Joe the opportunity to catch his breath. “Okay,” he finally was finished, opened his eyes and gave Joe his full attention. “What is it?”
Joe muttered “Yankee granitehead” under his breath, frowning at his oldest sibling, and began. “Winnemucca and 50 of his braves are on the warpath and headed toward Virginia City and Pa is out on maneuvers with his old cavalry unit…”
“Come again?” Adam, wondering whether he was hearing things right, stuck his finger in his ear and wiggled it around.
“…The Wagner gang’s gonna try to rob the bank again and Sheriff Coffee broke both of his legs when this big lummox knocked him down while he was swilling down Miss Looney’s spring tonic…”
“I didn’t do it on purpose, ya know,” Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright wheezed, finally catching up with Little Joe.
“Of course, you didn’t.” Adam nodded his head and looked at his big little brother sympathetically. Still, this all wasn’t making any sense to him.
Joe gave him a look of annoyance. “Any way, Hoss here lost his memory again and thinks his name is Hendrick….”
“My name IS Hendrick, you little varmint,” Hoss insisted, crossing his arms over his chest. “Lookee here, fellas. I know who I am… I just want to know where I am, who you are and where are the Vandervorts?”
“Mmmmmm.” Adam closed his eyes again. Maybe he was still asleep and if he opened them again this would all just be a dream.
Joe took a deep breath and started again. “…and there are cave-ins at all the silver mines in the area and Phillip Deidesheimer is trapped in the Thunderhead with Annie O’Toole and the Swede…”
Adam pinched himself. Nope, I’m awake.
“Snake Creek’s run dry…,” Joe prattled on with his never-ending list of catastrophes. “Barney Fulmer’s crew blew up the flume and the men are going on strike tomorrow if we don’t put a billiard table like the one Hoss’ Chinese mail-order bride got us…”
“I’m not Hoss,” Hoss interrupted him but…
…Joe was undaunted, plowing ahead. “… to put in the bunkhouse up at the logging camp so we could lose the ranch if we don’t deliver on the logging contract with the railroad. Cousin Muley’s here with all his dogs and his guitar and Mr. Dickens, Lotta Crabtree, Jean Lafitte, Calamity Jane and Mark Twain are arriving on the noon stage.”
“All at the same time?” Adam looked at Joe suspiciously while Hoss scratched his head trying to recall ‘cousin Muley’.
“They got a group rate,” Joe explained. “You’ve just got to do something, Adam.”
“That’s all that’s wrong?” Adam blinked his eyes, unconcerned.
“What da ya mean, that’s all that’s wrong?” Joe roared at Adam in exasperation, throwing up his hands.
“Mistah Adam! Mistah Adam!” Hop Sing, wooden spoon in hand, pushed his way between the younger Cartwright sons with it. “Crazy old man with giant bird wings on top of barn saying he gonna fly…Man in tin suit say he king and Mistah Adam is his knight…Big elephant trampled down all vegetables in garden… Venison roast burned up in new stove Hoss’ friend Whizzer McGee sold father…”
“I keep tellin’ ya all, I’m not Hoss,” Hoss growled at Hop Sing. “Who are you any way?”
“Your ex-cook, that’s who!” Hop Sing wagged the wooden spoon threateningly at Hoss who immediately took one step back and smiled innocently. He then put his hands on hips and glared at the oldest Cartwright son. “Hop Sing quit…Go back to China,” he turned and stomped back toward the house, muttering some very graphic things in Chinese.
“Never fear, boys,” Adam said patiently holding up his hand. Much to his little brothers’ surprise, old Adam was still very calm. “I can fix everything with this,” he pulled out – after shifting his backside in the chair — a pencil from the back pocket of his jeans.
“Oh, this I got to see…,” Joe remarked sarcastically as Adam reached down and picked up a sheaf of papers from beside him.
He quickly began to read. “First, we’ll fix Hoss…” He drew a line through one page and then another.
“I’m Hendrick. I’m not…,” Hoss growled but then, stopped shook his head to clear it and smiled broadly. “Hey, that’s right. I’m Hoss. Thanks, older brother,” he grinned a toothy grin.
“You’re welcome.” Adam scanned another page and ripped it out completely. “Now this,” he held up the page for Joe and Hoss to see, “takes care of Sheriff Coffee’s broken legs, Hoss’ spring fever, the bank and the Indians.”
“Gee, Adam.” Joe looked over Adam’s shoulder as he began crossing things out and tearing out pages at a break neck speed. “This is really easy.”
“Helps if you know what you’re doing, sonny boy,” Adam smirked up at his baby brother briefly. “There now. There’s no new stove, no mine cave-ins, no twelve o’clock stage, no elephants, no flying senior citizens or mythical kings, no lumber contract to worry about or any other the calamities associated with it and no cousin Muley and the dogs.”
“That’s plumb wonderful, Adam,” Hoss thumped him on the back. “Have I ever told you you’re brilliant?”
“Not often enough,” Adam stuck his pencil behind his left ear. “Now,” he closed the script and set it on his lap, “since Pa’s no longer needed for the Indian problem, he’ll be headed home so I guess you two better get back to your chores.”
“What?” Joe couldn’t believe his ears this time.
“Can’t you fix that too, Adam?” Hoss looked pleadingly at him. “A fella as brilliant as you should be able to do that.”
“Yeah, can’t you just cross off the chores or write in that they’re finished or something like that?” Joe suggested hopefully, nodding his head.
Adam glanced at Joe and then Hoss and then back to Joe. “Not a chance,” he grinned back. “Get to work.”
“Fine.” Joe glared at him and turned to trudge off to the barn. “Be that way!”
“Some brother you are!” Hoss sniffed and started after Joe.
“Of course,” Adam picked up the script and began to thumb through it again, “if you hurry up, I can always write in a nice trip to town and a couple of pretty girls to spend time with at the Silver Dollar…”
“Hot diggity!” Joe spun around, smiling from ear to ear.
“Now you’re talking, brother.” Hoss winked at Adam, grabbed Joe by the arm and dragged him after him. “We’ll be done before you can make the arrangements.”
Adam smirked retrieving the pencil from his ear, sank back in his chair and began to make sure that he and his brothers would have a very ‘nice trip to town.’ “I love it when Pa lets me be boss.”