Summary: Being the second instalment of the Giggly Sisters’ unique guide to life on the Ponderosa, which began with A Spoof for Stephen.
Word Count: 2200
After watching Bonanza for several months, Stephen felt he was beginning to understand the dynamics of the Cartwrights family. However, there were several things which still confused him. The Giggly Sisters decided it was time to sort out a few little misconceptions.
“Joe’s bedroom is fugitive,” the blonde explained. Stephen looked blank and she took pity upon him. “It’s never the same from one episode to another,” she explained. Now that he thought about it, Stephen began to see what she meant. The room changed appearance with dizzying regularity. In its earliest incarnations, it was sparsely furnished, with rough cast wall and a wooden ceiling (for further details, readers are advised to view The Truckee Strip. You will note that, at this stage in its embryonic career, the bedroom door was located towards the north-west corner of your television set.) Later series showed Joe as the proud possessor of a much larger and considerably more luxurious room, complete with 66% or two thirds of a three piece suite, as well as a desk and other assorted extras, including the horse statue that used to grace the sofa table downstairs.
“Was Joe an undisclosed kleptomaniac?” Stephen asked. The redhead shook her head.
“That’s known only to a select few. Namely Joe, the set dressers and The Creator.”
“Mr Dortort,” amplified the blonde. “Or DeeDee, as he’s known to his nearest and dearest.”
“How come your bed’s so short in My Brother’s Keeper?” he asked. (Viewers with a geographical bent will be interested to note that in this episode the door is now located to the east of your television set. Or the west, if you live in Australia.)
“Beats me,” Joe replied. “I was so busy trying not to look at the picture of the scary Indian, that I just kept my eyes tight shut. Mind you, it seemed to escape Adam’s notice that my feet were hanging clear off the end of the bed.”
“I was racked with guilt,” Adam explained in sepulchraic tones. “After mistaking you for a wolf, and nearly killing you, I had to reconsider my entire raison d’etre.”
“He quoted lots of Thoreau in dramatic tones,” the blonde explained. Her philosophy degree came in very handy at times like these.
The third major evolution of Joe’s bedroom saw the appearance of a fireplace, an exciting development, which finally banished the imminent danger of frostbite during the winter months. Obviously, money was in short supply at this point, for there was a distinct lack of mantelpiece, as eagle-eyed viewers of The Stillness Within can attest to. And, just in case you were curious, the door had now relocated itself to far left of the screen (due west, if you are of a nautical bent.)
A faint chime rang out. “Time for tea!” Joe announced brightly and bounded downstairs.
“I can only remember that clock chiming once,” Stephen observed.
“Yes, in Matter of Circumstance,” agreed the redhead. “I seem to have the impression that it chimed in another episode, but I can’t seem to bring to mind which one it was.” She knew this would irritate her and she’d need to sit down and watch all her tapes again – purely in the name of research, you understand.
“At least the living room never changes,” Stephen noticed.
“Ah, but it does,” Joe remarked, sorrowfully. “In the beginning, I didn’t have a seat at all. The round table from the foot of the stairs was in front of the fire, and the scabby pink velvet chair that sometimes sits by the clock was where the sofa is now.” Joe cast a jaundiced eye at the sofa. It was hideously uncomfortable, and yet the family kept insisting on dumping him on it when he had been maimed. It was a wonder he’d survived!
Stephen peered at the pink velvet chair and wondered why it wasn’t blue, like the other one. “Well, the study is the same,” he said, rather desperately, it must be admitted.
“The same as when?” asked Ben, who was working at the desk. “The window and the bookcase have just changed sides again.” He shook his head, and looked with disgust at the bookcase, which had decided to move onto the wall to the yard, so he could no longer look out of the window.
“And the Indian rug is now hanging on the banister, instead of the landing railing,” the redhead noted. It didn’t do this very often, but it did like a change of scenery, which is why it sometimes disappeared.
“It’s a blanket,” Stephen said, with authority.
“No,” replied the blonde, with considerably more authority in her tone. Well, she had had more practice. “It’s a rug. Would you really like that tucked over you if you’d been maimed?”
Hanging over the banister, the Indian rug wished more people were as perceptive as the Giggly Sisters. It sometimes even lay on the floor, just for them, so that they had a nice warm seat when playing with Paw, the sisters’ pet bear.
“Why am I not allowed in the downstairs bedroom?” Stephen wanted to know next.
“Don’t even think about going in there!” Ben warned, in sonorous tones. He had an exceptionally clear speaking voice: deep and resonant, with beautiful enunciation. There was just one small problem: it was very loud indeed, which was why Joe tried to grow his hair down over his ears, in order to provide a little DIY sound-proofing. Sadly, they stuck out just a smidgeon too far for this to be wholly successful.
“Why not?” Stephen was very curious about the downstairs bedroom. It looked very small and pokey from the outside, stuck inconveniently between the dining room and the kitchen, but he had heard tales that it was much more spacious on the inside.
“Look at the previous inhabitants!” the redhead advised, as poor little Paw cowered pitifully beside her. “First of all there was Tirza…”
“Dark Star. Completely bonkers,” the blonde added sotto voce.
“Then there was Clay…”
“First Born, Joe’s half brother and a complete ne’er do well,” she added.
The redhead glared at her sister and continued. “But of course, poor paralysed Johnny Lightly in The Horsebreaker just slept on a campbed in the living room. Mind you, he was a good guy.”
Stephen picked up an apple from the unfeasibly large fruit bowl that dominated the vast coffee table. There were never less than two dozen apples on display and although Joe made a valiant effort to eat them, no other member of the family ever seemed concerned that their vitamin C intake was not quite up to scratch.
“I could fair go a cup of coffee,” he said meaningfully and Hop Sing bustled in, dead on cue once again. Despite years of faithful service, it still rankled that he’d never made it to the opening credits, whereas the Dreaded Jamie breezed straight in, despite being abhorred by fans across the continents.
“Did you know that you can tell the date of the episode fairly accurately, just by looking at the coffee pot?” the blonde enquired. Ben shook his head in astonishment.
“It’s true,” Joe affirmed. “Look at Showdown – it’s almost pure white there, but by the time we got to The Stillness Within, it was beige-coloured.”
“How can you possibly know that?” Adam protested. “You were blind!”
“But still gorgeous!” the sisters chorused. They were deeply impressed by the fact that no matter what traumas were thrown at Joe, his hair remained as gloriously curly as ever.
“Besides,” Joe replied, with great dignity, “Pa told me so!” He looked at Adam sorrowfully. “Why didn’t you write to me when I was blind?”
Grinding his teeth, Adam didn’t reply. He felt this topic of conversation was becoming almost as wearing as Joe claiming he’d shot him accidentally-on-purpose in MBK. Everyone knew it was an accident!
“I was busy,” he said. “I left my custard-coloured coat behind after series 6 and it was absolutely freezing in Europe. I got rather a nice chamois-leather jacket in Germany and a lovely sheepskin coat in Scotland.”
“I’ve noticed that at least one of you always goes out without a coat,” Stephen added. “In MBK, Adam’s got the custard-coloured coat buttoned up to the neck, while Joe’s sauntering around in his shirtsleeves!”
“I’m manly!” Joe said modestly. “No need to cover up my charms.”
The blonde decided it was probably time to change the subject. “Where’s the bunkhouse today?” she asked brightly. Ben flushed and studied the floor with great interest. It was nicely polished today, indicating a mid-series episode, for in the early days, Hop Sing’s housekeeping skills left a lot to be desired.
“It seems to have gone on one of its merry jaunts again,” he confessed. Many viewers had often wondered why there were so few ranch hands in evidence during most episodes, but the reason was simple: they were relaxing in the bunkhouse when it embarked on another of its disappearing acts. However, it was just a touch embarrassing to have to admit to this in company.
“It’s amazing the number of places it decides to visit when it is here,” remarked the redhead brightly. “Why, in Abigail Jones it’s beside the corral. In She Walks in Beauty, it’s against the right hand side of the house, with a connecting door, no less. And in Showdown it’s on the other side altogether!”
“And in Dark Past and The Underdog, it’s cozying up to the barn,” added the blonde.
“Small wonder Candy decided to live in the house with you,” the redhead concluded. “Much safer all round.”
By now, Stephen was beginning to feel a little dizzy at the thought of the barn perambulating, and Joe’s bedroom moving all the time. “How do you keep track of it all?” he asked.
“Simple,” Hoss replied. He was chomping on a chicken leg and the others wondered if Hop Sing had neglected to call them for supper because Hoss had eaten it all already. He beamed at Stephen. “We rely on continuity!”
The Giggly Sisters tried not to laugh too hysterically. Attentive viewers will recall that was never mention of Continuity in the closing credits. Adam sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“It’s perfectly obvious,” he began. “Obviously, we have to employ numerous ranch hands on a spread this size. After all, just think of all the times we’re away from home for days at a time – The Gift, Twilight Town, Death at Dawn, The Crucible… Obviously, someone has to do the work around here. But then, when we don’t need the hands, we just pop them in the bunkhouse and it spirits them off. Saves us a fortune on wages.”
“Adam designed the bunkhouse,” Joe whispered and the sisters looked at the eldest Cartwright with renewed admiration.
“Very innovative,” commented the blonde.
“Not to mention imaginative,” the redhead added.
“Is the moving bunkhouse related to the moving stairs?” Hoss enquired. This feature confused him – one day there was an awkward space at the side of the stairs, the next it was gone.
“That was a prototype,” Adam admitted.
Stephen strolled over to examine the stairs more closely, but got distracted by the large array of rifles in the gun racks. “Why do you have so many guns?”
“Birthday presents!” Adam, Hoss and Joe chorused. Guns featured heavily at birthdays and Christmas, which rather dissipated the element of surprise. There really was very little you could do to disguise a rifle, no matter how many bows and ribbons you used.
“I had to replenish the racks after The Deadly Ones,” Ben explained, with great dignity. “All those Mexicans ran off with my guns!”
There was much rolling of eyes at this, for everyone knew that Ben had managed to kill most of the Mexicans singled handed, while keeping an eye on the badly wounded Joe. His talents were myriad. Stephen was looking at him with undisguised admiration.
“I don’t know how you do it,” he admitted. “I’m a tad confused.”
Ben patted the youth on the shoulder. “There is a trick to living here,” he whispered. Stephen wondered if there was a deaf old lady at the North or South Pole that didn’t hear him; Ben had a loud voice, it has to be said.
“What’s that?” Stephen asked, waiting breathlessly for the answer.
“Just remember that it’s better not to ask!” chorused the sisters.
Adam smiled sardonically: for once he totally agreed with the girls! Now, if only they’d move out and take that infernal bear with them, life on the Ponderosa would be just perfect…