Summary: Might have kept the doctor away from another Joe, but not his latest maiming.
Word Count: 1900
Attentive viewers will have no doubt realized that the various members of the Cartwright family demonstrated an uncanny knack for being maimed. Especially the youngest (and most gorgeous) son, Joe. A variety of unfortunate accidents had seen him knocked unconscious either in explosions, or by the butt of a gun, or by falling off Cochise, being shot by both bow and arrow and by gun, suffering from dehydration and exposure, being trampled upon by a horse, not to mention indulging in numerous fights, most of which resulted in a fetching cut over his left eyebrow. Indeed, on one memorable occasion, Joe had managed to successfully combine bullet wounds and the resulting infection with various animal bites all in one heart-wrenching illness. Adam continued to assert his innocence in this affair, avowing that he had merely mistaken his brother for a wolf, although Ben sometimes had his doubts. After all, who had ever seen a wolf with luxuriant curls?
All of the above meant that Doctor Paul Martin was a frequent visitor at the Ponderosa. Strangely enough, no money for his medical services was ever seen to exchange hands and the truth was that the respected physician was sadly impecunious. After all, patching up the Cartwrights meant that he had little time to devote to his other patients.
“Why don’t you try diversifying?” the blonde suggested helpfully. Years of working in the exciting world of Government service meant that she could offer seemingly useful solutions, which sounded plausible, but were somewhat tenuous and elusive. A bit like politicians in fact.
Paul looked perplexed, as well he might. Being a mother, the redhead was ready to translate her sister’s statement.
“You could try using your medical knowledge to come up with a popular product people want to buy. How about orthopedic footwear?”
Paul gave her an old-fashioned look. Well, he wasn’t among the trendsetters of Virginia City, was he?
“I hardly think that’ll be a best seller,” he rebuffed. “Doc Martin’s boots! Not exactly catchy, is it? Who would buy a product like that?”
Luckily, Joe came into the room at that point, which stopped the blonde from revealing that punks, bikers and even the Pope all wore the iconic footwear. Joe had been beaming happily at the Giggly Sisters, for he seemed to have been missing them for a few weeks, although he couldn’t quite figure that one out. However, his ready smile faded when he saw the doctor standing there. “I’m fine!” he cried, unasked, and started to back away. He’d lost count of the number of times he’d been used as a human guinea pig for the latest fancy treatment Paul Martin had dreamt up.
Not believing this protestation of robust health, for it was Joe’s perpetual cry when faced with the good doctor, Paul began to advance on Joe, who continued to back away until, despite warning cries from the sisters, he toppled over the uncomfy settee and cracked his head off the coffee table that seemed to have been made from railway sleepers.
“Joe!” the sisters chorused in despair, and dashed to Joe’s side, beating the doctor there by several minutes, despite the fact he was in the same room. It had to be said, Doc Martin spent too much time riding in his buggy, and not enough using his legs, and was getting rather portly. From their position by the unconscious Joe, the sisters exchanged a glance of delight.
“A maim,” sighed the blonde. “I haven’t seen a maim in ages.”
“I’ve seen a few,” replied the redhead, who looked equally misty-eyed. “But it’s not the same without you to share it with.”
Of course, it was a complete mystery why Ben had decided to combine the delicate (but hideously uncomfortable sofa) and London gentleman’s club-style leather chairs with a coffee table of such chunky proportions.
“They’re called railroad ties, not railway sleepers!” Ben hissed at the girls. His ever-alert parental radar had alerted him to the fact that Joe had indulged in yet another unfortunate accident. The blonde was busy loosening Joe’s clothing and removing his boots, but she retorted pithily, “As the steam engine was invented by a Briton, I think we know what we’re talking about!”
Ben puffed out his chest in indignation. It was an impressive sight and the girls in wardrobe wondered if they would be called upon to do some emergency repairs to the buttons. Perhaps Ben would keep his shirt on, necessitating close contact, or then again, he might remove it and stride about sans chemise. It was very exciting and one of them had to sit down and put her head between her knees.
“Joseph!” Ben’s tones were full of concern and his conches quivered with anticipation. He turned to Doc Martin in relief. “Good thing you were on the spot, Paul! And, of course, there’ll be no call out charge, will there?”
With a little sigh, Paul sat down on the table to examine Joe. It was a lot more comfortable than the sofa and bore his weight easily. Mind you, despite all its practical virtues, the table was highly incongruous and it was a complete mystery why Ben never minded anyone sitting on it but objected when Joe would occasionally try to prop his feet on it (normally to relieve the excruciating backache the sofa induced).
From where she was sitting, the redhead had a good view of the fireplace, which some misguided soul had seen fit to accessorize with an enormous set of horns. She wondered vaguely if some woolly mammoths had escaped the Ice Age and were wandering around the far-flung reaches of the Ponderosa, but then the fire basket itself caught her attention. What on earth were those two huge spheres on top of the andirons? And why on earth was there a kettle on a trivet when the kitchen was only steps away?
“Is there any water in that kettle, or has it all boiled dry?” she asked. “Because since it’s never really over the fire, the water might be handy for reviving poor darling Joe.” She shook her head. “Why it is, when people break in here, you never use the fire irons as weapons? You could bash someone’s skull in with them.”
Rolling his eyes and gritting his teeth, Ben thought about utilizing the said fire irons in suggested manner, and only a beady-eyed glare from the blonde stopped him. However, he forgot all about the andirons and the kettle as Joe groaned and moved his legs in that heart-breaking manner he had. “I’m here, Joe,” he said, in loving tones. A crystal on the nearest lampshade shattered. The sisters no longer jumped when this happened. They had lived at the Ponderosa for so long now, they were accustomed to things like that happening.
Paul Martin bent laboriously over Joe, lifting one eyelid and peering into the eye beneath. He wasn’t looking for anything medical; he just wanted to know what color Joe’s eyes were. However, he was none the wiser, for the unconscious lad’s eyes didn’t look much of any color right then.
“He’ll be fine, Ben,” Paul said, heartily. “He’s as strong as a young bull.”
“You haven’t even checked his head for lumps,” the blonde protested. “He’s probably concussed.”
“It’ll be a Cartwright Concussion,” Doc said, dismissively. “It always is. Makes it easy for me to remember.” The blonde smiled reflectively. She was contemplating writing a treatise on this particular phenomenon for The Lancet and CNN had also expressed interest. While deadly effective on knocking the victim unconscious, the Cartwright Concussion (or CC) had one major advantage: the lucky recipient would wake with, perhaps a slight headache and maybe a small contusion to denote the point of impact, but there were absolutely no other side-effects. However, the most remarkable thing was that this medical marvel appeared to be restricted to members of the Cartwright family, all of whom were known to indulge in the occasional CC. Singly, mind you, not en masse.
“Do you want to borrow my leather hairband to keep the dressing in place?” Adam asked helpfully as Paul examined the cut on Joe’s forehead. He had been forced to employ this device in both The Savage and The Crucible.
Paul shot him a disdainful look. “No need for that. I’ll just use my trademark suturing technique.” A series of blank looks greeted him. “You know, the stitches that are so fine they heal without leaving a single scar?”
The blonde could now see great possibilities for her article and decided to submit it to the New England Journal of Medicine too.
“And, of course, I’ll finish up with a dab of Doc Martin’s Wonder Salve TM, just to ensure there’s not a single trace of the wound.” Paul was really warming to his subject now.
The redhead watched as Paw, the Giggly Sister’s pet bear, calmly abstracted an apple from the enormous fruit bowl and started to chomp noisily on it. Hoss’s jaws also moved in rhythmic fashion and he drooled slightly.
“It certainly worked a treat after Adam shot Joe that time, didn’t it?”
Paul smiled happily. “Of course, Doc Hickman did his best, but he wasn’t really up to the challenges Joe presents. And things weren’t helped by Adam using that pair of sugar tongs to remove the bullet.”
Adam was feeling slightly persecuted. He did so wish they would all stop going on about it! “I thought he was a wolf!” he grated, through gritted teeth. “And the sugar tongs were all that were handy.”
“You’d have thought the mad Irish girl would have had a pair of tweezers in her cabin trunk,” the redhead commented. “She certainly seemed to have plenty of clothes with her.”
At that moment, Joe decided to groan once more, and opened his glorious, if ambiguously colored, eyes. “Oh my head,” he groaned, and put his hand up to feel the large lump there. Then he focused on Paul Martin, and began to back away, even though he was still lying on the floor. Well, it was a darned sight more comfortable than the settee. “Go away!” he cried, piteously. “I was fine until you came along!”
“Of course you were, poppet,” the blonde soothed. “Don’t worry, we’ll protect you.”
Paw, ever helpful, jumped down from the table and presented Joe with an apple to make him feel better. Joe took it rather dubiously, but thanked the little bear none the less.
“Ah, what a bright creature,” Paul commented, levering himself to his feet, and wondering if he would have time to run into town and hold a clinic for paying customers. “See, Joe, he already knows that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
As Doc Martin gathered up his belongings to leave, Joe eyed the apple in disgust. He had never noticed that eating an apple kept the doctor away. A twinkle came into his eyes, and he grinned at the sisters. As Doc Martin opened the door, he was struck solidly on the back of the head by a particularly well-aimed apple.
It really was a pity that he wasn’t a Cartwright. Because if he had been, he wouldn’t have suffered from such a nasty concussion.