Summary: Are they really accidents?
Word Count: 1900
There was one thing about the Giggly Sisters, Joe mused, while grooming Cochise in the barn: although they were strangely partial to seeing him maimed (and even went so far as to maim him regularly in their stories), ever since they arrived at the Ponderosa his life had been remarkably accident-free. His mind full of visions of their radiant loveliness, Joe completely failed to see the pitchfork lying in a strategically dangerous position on the floor. That was the thing about American barns in the 1860s – they were literally littered with lethal implements and Health and Safety legislation was but a glimmer in the future.
Striding manfully across the barn, his gunbelt hanging at a highly suggestive angle, Joe managed to ignore the fact that once again his trousers were woefully short and barely grazed the tops of his boots. Then suddenly, he was aware of an excruciating pain as the tines of the pitchfork drove upwards and viciously impaled themselves in his foot. Joe recoiled instinctively from the agony, but sadly was not able to avoid the rebound of the pitchfork, which clonked him soundly on the head.
Collapsing in a crumpled heap on the ground, Joe only had time to arrange his curls to tousled perfection and then utter a faint but emotive cry of “Pa!” before succumbing to the pain.
Ben couldn’t work out why Joe was taking so long in the barn, especially as the Giggly Sisters were perched on the sofa, showing off their shapely legs, with Paw snuggled between them, munching on an apple. A cry of “Pa!” rang through the air and then Hoss came thumping into the house, carrying the unconscious body of his younger brother.
“Good thing Joe’s so portable, what with all them unfortunate accidents he has,” Hoss observed presciently and made to lay Joe down on the sofa.
“Not the sofa – it’s rock hard!” the redhead said sharply. “No place at all for someone with a major maim. Take him up to his room.”
Hoss could see the sense in this and just hoped Joe’s room had not been perambulating around again, as was its wont. Ben indulged himself with a quick ruffle of Joe’s curls and an anguished look. “Joe!” he cried. It was his favorite line, because it was so easy to remember. It fitted all occasions from terror (where Joe looked as though he would be killed) to delight (Joe had come home from the saloon on time for once, and unmolested, too!)
Luckily for Hoss, Joe’s bedroom was exactly where it should be, and the bed was almost long enough. His sweet feet stuck out over the end, but this wasn’t a problem with this particular maim. They needed to get his boots off to examine his foot.
“I’m doing that,” said the blonde, jealously, to Ben, as he bent over to pull off Joe’s boot. The redhead smirked. She was holding Joe’s hand, admiring their nice shape, and clean, unbitten fingernails.
Stymied, Ben remembered his other line. “Hoss, get the doctor.”
With a big grin, Hoss lumbered out the door. He loved going for the doctor. Well, it made a pleasant change from the barn. He frowned slightly. He did recall one time when Pa had told him to ‘get the car and get the doctor’. He hadn’t understood the first part at all, but Pa had been under a lot of stress, what with Joe falling off his horse, almost exactly as poor, pretty Marie had done.
Meanwhile, back in the bedroom, the blonde was gently easing Joe’s socks off, and admiring his nice pink toes, and the redhead was stroking Joe’s curls. Ben felt distinctly left out! “I’ll get some water,” he said, and hurried to the door. Opening it he bellowed, “Hop Sing! Get some water!”
With a jerk, Joe woke up. Ben’s voice wasn’t the most soothing of tones in the sickroom.
“I thought you were knocked out?” the redhead said in a confused voice.
Joe smiled bravely. “It’s just a Cartwright Concussion: a hard blow to the head (often with the butt of a gun) which knocks you out a treat, but has absolutely no other side effects whatsoever.”
Ben took up the story. “In many ways it’s really rather similar to the classic “bloodless bullet wound”, which Joe models so well in numerous eps. You know there’s been a major injury but there’s remarkably little blood. Look at The Deadly Ones, for example. Nothing but a small damp patch on Joe’s little green jacket, and even that had disappeared without trace by the following week.”
Sure enough, when the girls examined Joe’s foot carefully, they could see that there was very little blood indeed. Joe closed his eyes and winced in a brave way, then tossed his head fitfully on the pillow and moved his legs in an agitated fashion.
“He suffers so well!” the blonde said in a hushed undertone, as Adam came in bearing a bowl of steaming water and a pile of cloths. The Ponderosa was well supplied with these handy cloths, which came in a variety of sizes and were equally useful for cleansing wounds, moping down fevered bodies or using as a napkin when the normal red-checked ones were in the wash. He looked down at Joe, who was still writhing in anguish and wondered if he’d have to touch him.
Doctor Paul Martin was none too pleased at being summoned by the Cartwrights yet again. He spent so much time attending to all their various mishaps that the rest of his medical practice had virtually dwindled away to nothing and his waiting room was nearly always empty. Then there was that time in The Thunderman when Paul had a change to make a little extra money by nursing a stroke victim in the surgery, but then the Cartwrights had interfered and insist on taking the patient back to the Ponderosa.
To make matters worse, Ben even suggested that as his family gave Paul so much business, they really should qualify for a discount. Not that any money had ever been seen changing hands, despite the many times the good doctor patched the Cartwrights back together. Paul Martin’s finances were consequently in ruins and he had applied to deliver the Territorial Observer to outlying ranches as a way of making a little extra cash.
However, ever hopeful that one day Ben would actually cough up some readies, Paul dutifully turned up each and every time. He felt quite at home on the Ponderosa, and was even considering the proposal from one fanfic writer that he ought to take up residence there, just so he was on hand for these little eventualities.
He examined Joe extremely casually, and dissolved a pain powder in a glass of water, and watched Joe drink it down. This was one of his pleasures. He didn’t bother with morphine for the Cartwrights. Well, it was expensive, and besides, it was so much more enjoyable watching the faces Joe made when swallowing the stuff.
“He’s as strong as a young bull, Ben,” he declared, in the immortal line he apparently said so often. (This writer has yet to hear it, but that’s by-the-by). “Give him some broth, and he’ll be fine in no time.”
“Broth!” exclaimed the sisters, in unison. “That nasty watery stuff Hop Sing makes? What good will that do him?”
Joe perked up at this. He’d always wondered why they’d insisted on feeing him broth when what he really wanted was a good steak. All the fanfic writers seemed hooked on broth, too, and he really wasn’t much into soup. He wondered if it had something to do with that jelly-like soup (or was it soup-like jelly?) they’d been forced to consume in one of the episodes. Now it had been disgusting!
Paul Martin looked down his nose at the sisters. “Do you know anything about illness?” he enquired.
“We’ve both suffered more than our fair share of maims,” retorted the redhead, “and I was never offered broth!” She screwed up her beautiful face as she remembered one thing. “I was offered semolina,” she recalled, shuddering. “I don’t eat that when I’m well!”
The blonde made a disgusted face, too. Joe wondered how it was possible for two people to look so stunningly gorgeous when looking so disgusted.
“My husband’s a doctor,” the blonde said firmly, conveniently failing to mention that he a scientist and not a medic. Paul looked impressed – perhaps there was light at the end of the tunnel if another hapless doctor could be persuaded to take on the Cartwrights.
“What was that miracle drug you gave Joe in MBK that cured him so completely?” the redhead asked curiously. “You could make a fortune marketing that!”
“That was another doctor altogether!” Paul snapped huffily, for he had a shrewd idea that the sisters knew of his financial woes. However, he remembered another staple in his medical kit: the amazing salve that enabled various nasty wounds to heal so completely that not a single trace of a scar was left. He could call it “Doc Martin’s Wonder Salve TM” and it would be a sure-fire best seller! Newly invigorated, Paul bustled off happily, quite forgetting to ask Ben for payment.
Ben bustled over to the bed and pulled the covers firmly up to Joe’s neck, completely obscuring his golden-hued, totally gorgeous body from view. He had rather an annoying habit of doing this, as many frustrated viewers can attest. Paw looked at the rather scabby blue candlewick bedspread and neatly hooked it off with a flick of his outstretched claws.
Pulling up a chair, Ben sat down beside Joe, who was looking much better, despite the extremely cursory treatment from the doctor, and held one of his son’s extremely attractive hands tenderly. “You’ll be all right now, son!” he said comfortingly, and wondered if Joe ever went for a manicure. He reached over to stroke the wonderful curls lovingly.
The sister sighed once more. “A Joe/Pa moment,” said the redhead, with a little catch in her voice. “And after a wonderful maim.”
The blonde simply couldn’t find her voice, which was a very unusual occurrence. She simply drank her fill of this most essential of Bonanza moments.
Looking over at them, Joe smiled. “You do suffer so wonderfully,” said the blonde. “The way you move you legs, telling us silently that you’re in agony. And the moaning, and calling for Pa.”
Ben involuntarily looked at the bear, which gave him a toothy grin.
“The best bit is,” said the redhead, “you’ll be back to normal again in a day or two, ready to be maimed on next week’s show, or the next fanfic story.”
Joe glanced at Ben, wide-eyed at this thought, and caught his father struggling with laughter. “Oh, Pa!” he said, reproachfully, and Ben stroked his hair again.
“That’s your best line, son,” he said. “Say it again, Joe!”
The sisters laughed, but Joe could tell, by a certain gleam in the redhead’s eye, that she was already planning his next unfortunate accident.