Summary: Same ol’, same ol’.
Word Count: 2200
Joe was idly leafing through the contents of his wardrobe, watched with great interest by Paw, the Giggly Sisters’ pet bear. His dresser contained great amounts of shirts, but most of them looked to be almost identical, in a subdued shade of lightish brown. Or was that taupe? Or perhaps even beige? He looked at Paw, but the bear merely shrugged his furry shoulders and returned to unravelling the threads on Joe’s candlewick bedspread. In the next drawer were some white shirts, but these were obviously for special occasions, as they were stiffly starched and looked a bit uncomfortable.
Succumbing to the inevitable, Joe pulled on a shirt and decided it was probably tan. He had vague memories of once owning a rather nifty black (or was it dark navy?) shirt and he wondered where that had gone. Probably Adam had disposed of it, for he had a marked aversion to ever wearing anything that remotely resembled an outfit being modelled by his father or brothers. A smile flitted across Joe’s face as he remembered how proud Ben had been when he had bought matching tan suede waistcoats for all the family, along with dark brown neckerchiefs, which he insisted they should wear at a jaunty angle. How furiously Adam had reacted to that! Joe couldn’t quite remember if that was the famous occasion his brother had thrown his hat on to the ground in a fit of pique, but he certainly hadn’t been happy!
Paw had spotted one of Joe’s string ties, which was actually a satin ribbon, and was trying to tie it round his own neck, when the Giggly Sisters walked in. “Aw, look at Paw!” exclaimed the redhead in delight. Her tresses were even more vibrantly coloured than usual, thanks to the addition of glittery hair mascara, courtesy of her eldest daughter. “Isn’t he sweet?”
“Just adorable,” the blonde said, helping the wee bear tie a bow.
“What about me?” Joe pouted attractively. “Aren’t I adorable?”
Hoss, who happened to be passing just then, stuck his head round the door. “Joe, you’re cute,” he asserted. “Ain’t he cute, girls?”
“He’s cute,” the sisters chorused adoringly. Joe smirked.
“What are you doing, poppet?” asked the blonde, perching on the edge of the bed and taking Paw onto her lap. The little bear stuck his paw down her top with a contented smile.
“I was just looking at my clothes,” Joe said. “They all seem remarkably similar. I can’t find that dark coloured shirt I used to wear in the early credits, and I really liked it. I wore it in The Gunmen, too.”
“We liked it as well,” the redhead assured him, rifling through his drawers and showing off her experience of finding ‘lost’ clothes. However, the shirt stayed lost, despite her experience.
“I was quite fond of the pants I wore in the early seasons, too,” Joe went on. “They were nice and long, but the seamstress in Virginia City seems to spend such a lot of time fitting them to my butt and…” Joe blushed and hastily went on. “It seems rude to complain that they’re a bit short in the leg.”
“And what happened to that nice grey-ish cord jacket you wore in season 1?” asked the redhead. “And your lovely blue one? I’m not too fond of green, it has to be said.”
“I don’t know,” Joe answered, frustrated. “I got up one day, went to get them, and they were gone. Like my black hat. I’m sure I started wearing that tan one when Adam started wearing a black one.” He had a closer look at the redhead’s hair, deciding that it was redder than it had been the previous day. He had no idea how she accomplished that, but he liked the effect.
He returned to his dresser and started leafing through his vast collection of pants. Once again, they were all depressingly similar: stone coloured, gratifying tight across the hips, but woefully short in the leg. Oh well, they were an improvement on the baggy ones he recalled wearing. Hoss flushed: for some reason all his trousers were baggy! And it got even worse when he was made to tuck them into his boots!
Joe pulled out a pair of dress trousers, which were brown, with a faint stripe.
“Quite nice, poppet,” the blonde commented, “but surely black would be more appropriate?”
Hoss was beginning to get really mad now. At least Joe had some decent clothes to wear to parties, weddings etc!
“I have to wear that awful brown jacket!” he said mournfully. Did the wardrobe department have something against him? And if so, why? He was a kind-hearted chap, a decent actor and was universally liked – so why were his clothes so unremittingly awful?
“It’s not as bad as that hairy horse blanket they fashioned into a winter coat for you in The Last Hunt!” the redhead said, trying to be helpful. The blonde had produced a bottle of champagne from her handbag and was pouring everyone a glass. Except Paw, who got a nice can of condensed milk, as he was still a baby.
“Well, I had to wear that appalling blue-checked number!” Joe protested. “You must remember that, Hoss? It had that awful half-belt on the back and was far too big for me?”
“I sure do. But have you noticed, quite often we’ll be riding along in our shirtsleeves, and then old Adam breezes up, wearing that custard-coloured number he’s so fond of? Don’t seem right, somehow.”
“I’d blame the script girl,” the blonde said sagely. “She never really seems to have a clue what’s going on. I mean, have you noticed the way she always seems to keep Joe’s feet covered up, even when he’s in his nightshirt? Except, of course, for that wonderful scene in “Springtime”
Joe quickly changed the subject, for the blonde’s fascination with his feet was something he felt should be kept private and behind closed doors.
“And of course, I’m never allowed to have belt loops on my trousers, am I? What’s that all about?”
Adam entered the room and everyone immediately looked at his trousers, which were sporting turn-ups of almost ludicrous proportions.
“Is it raining outside?” the redhead asked innocently.
Adam scowled at the redhead wondering (not for the first time it must be said) if hair came that colour in nature. He was almost sure it didn’t. Almost. “Raining?” he repeated. “No, why?”
The redhead sniggered, but didn’t reply.
“Do you suppose the seamstress actually understands about fitting leg length?” the blonde asked, eyeing Adam’s turn-ups. “Because, Adam, those make your legs look very short indeed.”
Adam looked down at his legs, which he thought were perfectly in proportion to the rest of him. “What seamstress?” he asked, finally. “I just bought these off the peg in the mercantile.”
“Why don’t you dress like the rest of the family?” asked the redhead.
“I don’t like to follow the crowd,” Adam said, loftily. The redhead could sympathise with that, as she wasn’t too keen on doing the same as everyone else either. Still, it wasn’t quite the answer she was looking for.
“And what do you wear that custard-coloured coat?” asked the blonde.
“You wouldn’t believe some of the explanations I’ve heard about that,” the redhead said, in a stage whisper, to Joe. Joe, who’d heard some of these highly unbelievable stories before, sniggered. Adam flushed.
“I feel the cold,” he said, with dignity.
“Its useful for hidin’ yer big bum, too,” Hoss put in innocently. “You done told me that, Adam.”
“It was a joke!” Adam hissed, and Hoss looked confused. It sure hadn’t sounded like a joke the way Adam told it!
The door opened, and Ben stuck his head in. “What are you all doing in here?” he asked.
“I was looking to see if I could find some of my favourite clothes,” Joe answered. “But they seem to have disappeared.”
Ben did one of those little “harrumph” noises that he specialised in, and looked down at himself contentedly: yup, his conches were all present and correct! Joe remembered all those excruciating times as a child when Ben had clasped him to his manly chest: boy, those metal conches sure left an imprint on your cheek! Plus, it had to be said that leather wasn’t the best material to snuggle up against. You came away rather sweaty and with crease marks all over your face.
“Paw?” Hoss enquired tentatively and both Ben and the bear turned around expectantly. Not for the first time, Hoss wondered why he spoke so differently to the rest of his family. He cast an enquiring look towards the supremely inept script girl, but once again she was out to lunch. Literally and figuratively.
“Why do I have to wear this dumb hat?”
Ben smiled indulgently and ogled the Giggly Sisters discretely. As the extras were wont to say, they sure were prime dames!
“It’s called a sugar loaf hat, son.”
Hoss took umbrage at this. “No it ain’t! Anyone who says that is just trying it on sumthin’ fierce. It’s a monstrosity, that’s what it is!” Mind you, it did come in handy for stowing the odd snack for elevenses under. You could pack in an entire roast chicken in there and still have room for an apple pie and the odd carrot or two.
“At least your hat doesn’t have those rather disturbing undertones of S and M that Adam’s bondage hat-band has,” the blonde reassured him. Adam bristled rather at this and flaunted his hairy chest.
“Put it away!” the redhead shrieked, being of a delicate disposition. All that wiry hair had an incredibly disturbing likeness to something else and it made her feel rather sick. Adam gave one of his thin smiles, in which his top lip almost seemed to disappear completely and revelled in the fact that he still had a disturbing effect on ladies.
Hop Sing breezed in at this point. “You think you’ve got problems?” he enquired testily, in a perfect RP accent that gave him an uncanny resemblance to Prince Charles (if you closed your eyes and fast-forwarded to 1948). “Count yourselves lucky that you don’t have to wear these bloody demeaning silk jammies and matching hat!” With that, he flounced out of the room, wondering why he had ever left the Charlie Chan films. He’d been able to wear a perfectly acceptable lounge suit in them.
“I’ve been wanting to ask you something for ages.” The blonde was standing very close to Joe and her soft tones whispered gently against his sticky-out ears, which actually were very convenient for someone who regularly wore a hat, as they stopped it from sliding down over his nose.
Joe flashed her an adoring smile. Had she noticed the way his stand-in liked to wear black boots just to confuse the viewers? On second thoughts, given her predilection for his feet, perhaps it was best not to go there. He goosed the redhead instead.
“You are left-handed, aren’t you?” asked the blonde and a slow smile came over Joe’s outrageously handsome face, as he ran his hand through his hair, rumpling his curls so that one fell tantalisingly over his forehead. He knew what was coming!
“I sure am honey!” A lazy grin crept across his face as he anticipated the next question.
“Then why…” A paroxysm of infection giggles overtook the blonde, causing Adam to clap his hands over his ears in protest. A bad back was enough to cope with; he certainly didn’t need tinnitus too. Crowing and whooping with laughter, the blonde was unable to continue, so the redhead took up the tale.
“But that’s not logical and it simply doesn’t fit with the facts. I mean, no discerning viewer can have failed to notice that you dress to the left! Doesn’t that make things a little, …err, um … tricky?”
Ben looked positively mortified. He tried to bring his sons up as decent, God-fearing men and then these girls came along and started noticing all the little inconsequential incongruities that were perfectly normal for one of Nevada’s most prominent families. He put his head in his hands: the worst he had imagined was that the sisters would bring up the dreadful headband Adam modelled so disastrously in The Savage and The Crucible. It was almost on a par with his hammy, over-the-top performance in both episodes. Luckily, the family interaction scenes had been kept to a minimum, for he wasn’t sure he’d have been able to keep a straight face during his son’s worst excesses. But this was infinitely worse.
Joe’s eyes (were they hazel or were they green?) twinkled beguilingly as he looked at the sisters with undisguised delight. Their honesty was so refreshing!
“Honey,” he drawled, lowering his voice exactly 3 semitones, to devastating effect, “That’ll take an entire story to itself!”