Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 4050
The Cartwright Figure Skating Challenge
The Story Begins
It was a frosty early winter afternoon and Joe and Hoss Cartwright headed out for Virginia City. “You boys make sure you come back at a decent hour! I’m leaving on my trip first thing in the morning,” Ben Cartwright ordered as they left.
“And the not-yet-invented Weather Channel says it’s going to snow again tonight!” said Adam, switching the station on the not-yet-invented TV to the Encore Western channel, which was showing the so called “Lost Episodes “ of Bonanza. Adam was curious to see what had gone on after he left the Ponderosa.
After a heavy night’s drinking, Joe and Hoss staggered to their horses and started the long, cold ride home from the Rusty Bucket Saloon. A few snowflakes had already begun to fall. The brothers intended to take a shortcut through the graveyard at the top of the windy hill between Virginia City and the Ponderosa. Being much the worse for wear, they decide to climb down from their horses and give the horses a rest before they did the rest of the ride home.
“The fresh air will clear our heads, little brother,” Hoss said, easing from Chubb.
“Good idea, Hoss!” Joe said, sliding off Cochise.
“This boy needs a cup of strong coffee!” Cochise whinnied, shaking his Pinto horsy head.
“Hoss too! And to join Weight Watchers!” agreed Chubb. “Or at least join a gym and do Zumba.”
Joe and Hoss decided to take a rest against a stone and watch the snowflakes fall while the winded horses finished gossiping. Joe wiped the stone off the stone he was leaning against and read the inscription.
“Do y’know, Hoss, this fella here lived till he was 103!!” declared Joe, reading the stone.
“And did he come from hereabouts then?” asked his brother.
“No,” says Joe, reading the stone, “he was Miles, from San Francisco.
Snowbound Brothers Battle
The arguing on the Ponderosa had hit a fever pitch. Despite the drifting snow and freezing wind, the temperature inside was like an inferno from all the escalating battles.
Ben Cartwright had been away from the Ponderosa for three weeks in St. Louis or San Francisco or San Diego some other town that started with an “S” that wasn’t Syracuse or Saigon or Cincinnati — which Adam pointed out started with a “c” not an “s” but was the home of some fine gals who loved skating.
Ben had written down their his itinerary before he left but somehow the sheet of paper it was written on had disappeared during one of his boys knock-down battles which they called “horsing around”, or when they decided to reenact the last quarter of the not-yet-invented 1925 Rose Bowl game between Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame team featuring the four horsemen (using Buck as one of the horses without a man) and Pop Warner’s Stanford team. Hop Sing was sure the piece of paper fluttered into the fire place when Adam shouted, “Win one for the Gipper” and crashed into Hoss, who knocked over Mr. Cartwright’s desk. The papers scattered and one or two fluttered into the massive stone fireplace where they caught fire burned to ashes before they could be rescued.
The only thing the boys remembered was that Pa wasn’t going to be back for a few weeks and he was somewhere that started with an “S”. The three weeks had turned to six when the weather turned cold and snowy and the roads were washed out from a flash flood.
Hop Sing suspected Mr. Cartwright’s extended absence might have something to do with a bit of romance and Olive, the pretty widow of long lost friend sailing friend Popeye, whose funeral Mr. Cartwright had attended at the end of the summer. Popeye had overdosed on iron rich-spinach and rusted to death in a rain storm.
Hop Sing wondered if perhaps Ben Cartwright was checking out condos in Boca Raton for a bit of not-yet-invented snow-birding, but who was he to suggest the boss might want something soft and warm to snuggle with, like one of those four widows who lived together in Miami. That Blanche Devereaux was one hot lady and Mr. Cartwright did like Southern blondes. She sure was more appealing than kissing Buck goodnight in the barn or putting up with his sons, who were clueless on getting married and moving out of the house. Now the boss had been gone for a month longer than originally anticipated, and none of the boys knew who had been designated as the “man in charge” while Pa was gone.
The snow had fallen deeper and deeper each day. The three housebound Cartwright brothers were growling and hissing and spitting at each other like a den of bobcats or a sorority of mean anorexic high school cheerleaders. They daily came to blows or broke pieces of furniture or both.
They were getting more rambunctious from boredom. The barn was cleaned, the stock attended to, and enough wood had been chopped to feed all the fires of hell for all eternity. Hop Sing had run out of distractions like taffy pulls, juggling pitchforks or playing not-yet-invented video games. They had all knit matching sweaters, hats, scarves and matching sox for everyone they knew, including the horses, Arnie the Ape and all the little orphans in the Virginia City Orphanage.
Hoss was tiring of Ms Pac Man on the not-yet-invented Atari 5600 and writing obscene limericks, singing karaoke, rolling Joe’s poofy hair in pin curls or giving Adam pedicures. He was really was annoyed with Joe’s new manly challenge of “Let’s put duct tape on our chests and pull it off quick without screaming” since he had the most body hair of the three brothers, much like his Viking uncle Gunnar. Even claiming he was going back to China wasn’t getting Hop Sing any respite from the Cartwright boys arguing, wrestling, furniture smashing, competing and boasting and boasting.
“Anything you can do I can do better ……I can do anything better than you!” declared Adam angrily but musically. It had snowed for 23 days straight. Snow was up to the second floor and Lake Tahoe had frozen over solid and smooth.
“No, you can’t!” sang Hoss and Joe in unison.
“Yes, I can!”
“No, you can’t!” Joe shouted.
“Yes, he can!” Hoss suddenly changed allegiances to side with Adam against Joe, confusing things even more.
“No, you can’t!” Joe threw a chair at Hoss. Hoss ducked and the chair hit Adam in the ribs, bounced off and smashed into the arm of the settee.
“Yes, I can, yes, I can!” Joe said dancing on the coffee table.
“Anything you can be, I can be greater ……Sooner or later I’m greater than you!” the brothers screamed at each other.
“I can shoot a partridge with a single cartridge!” Hoss bellowed.
“I can get a sparrow with a bow and arrow!” Adam, who invented the term “Native American” after the spring he went steady with White Buffalo woman.
“I can live on bread and cheese!” Joe bragged, knowing that Hoss was lactose intolerant. Ben Cartwright didn’t raise his sons to be intolerant but he made an exception in this case, especially since dairy products made Hoss gassy.
“And only on that? Bread and cheese?” Adam glared at Joe.
“So can a rat!” said Adam and Hoss together. “Put that in your hat!”
“You keep up yelling like that and all you get is bread and water! No cheese for you!” threatened Hop Sing. He ripped Hoss’ hat from his head and stomped on it.
“I can drink my liquor faster than a flicker!” said Joe, grabbing the flask of brandy from the dining room sideboard and downing half. He fell to the floor in a semi-conscious, yet adorable stupor.
“ I can do it quicker and get even sicker !” countered Adam, grabbing the flask from Joe’s limp hands and downing it in two swallows, turned chartreuse and vomited on Joe’s boots.
“GROSS!” bellowed Hoss. He grabbed the apples out of the bowl on the coffee table, juggled them for a few minutes and then bounced them off of Adam’s head as he lay prone on the floor.
“No get sick! Hop Sing no want puke on shiny hard wood floor or colorful oriental carpet or on stucco walls!” Hop Sing shrieked. “You puke! You mop!” Hop Sing bashed Hoss over the head with a drippy string mop.
“Hop Sing! “ Hoss fell to the floor next to Adam. He groaned as he rubbed the rising lump on his cranium.
“Enough!” Hop Sing bellowed brandishing his largest carving knife like Luke Skywalker’s light saber. “You figure way to play nice or I make you sing soprano! And you and you!” Hoppy poked the belt buckle each Cartwright brother in turn with the tip of his knife.
“Brothers, I think Hop Sing means business!” Joe declared to his two brothers sprawled beside him. Then he passed out, his head pillowed comfortably on unconscious Adam’s chest, which was now hairless due to winning the numerous rounds of the pull of the duct tape game.
The next morning the three brothers woke up and straggled down to breakfast in the cold dining room. All three were nursing pounding headaches and Hop Sing was still angry at them.
“Black coffee!” Hop Sing growled as he slammed a steaming mug in front of Adam.
“Black coffee!” Hop Sing growled slamming a cup in front of Hoss.
“Black coffee!” Hop Sing said for the third time, putting the last cup of coffee in front of Little Joe.
“Is that all we get?” Hoss asked hungrily.
Hop Sing glared at the three and spat out, “YES!”
“No Lucky Charms?” Hoss pleaded. He loved Lucky Charms ever since he had met the leprechauns in “Hoss and the Leprechauns”. It was their favorite breakfast. “No Swedish liggonberry jam from IKEA, my mama’s favorite store?”
“Black coffee!” Hop Sing said firmly.
“No potato latkes or bagels?” Joe pleaded. “No babke from Lillian’s bakery or lox?” When Joe was a small boy, his brothers had told Joe that these were his mother’s favorite New Orleans breakfasts and he believed them. The also told him if he swallowed his chewing gum, his innards would get glued together and that shiny pennies were worth more than dirty silver dollars.
“No jelly or eggs or toast or bacon? No oatmeal, bran muffins or stewed prunes to keep us regular?” Adam, asked hoping Hop Sing would bend a bit. “No mushroom omelets or quiches or little pink sausages or fluffy biscuits or honey? No Wheetina? Patina? Granola? Flapjacks? Cheerios! Waffles? Green eggs and ham or spam or jam or not-yet-invented Eggs McMuffins?”
“BLACK COFFEE!” Hop Sing growled in a deep disembodied threatening voice that sounded much like Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker that he was his father.
Adam, Hoss and Joe shuddered and paled and silently drank their coffee.
“No lunch, no dinner! No brunch! No supper! No midnight snack or mints on your pillows when you go to bed! No nothing until you pick one brother to be boss. You be bad and crazy while father gone. You pick boss. You get food.”
The three brothers knew Hop Sing meant business. With their stomachs growling like a not-yet-invented rear-engine Chevy Corvair that with a hole in the muffler, the brothers knew they had to make a plan to pick one of them to be the boss until Pa returned from wherever he was.
As the snow fell in glittering white heaps, the brothers decided to have a figure skating completion. The winner would be the man in charge of the Ponderosa until Pa returned from his trip.
Each brother would select a judge. Adam picked Sheriff Roy Coffee. “I know Roy is an honest man and will judge our skating in a non-biased manner. Besides, Roy owes me a favor for when I backed him up when the Wagner Gang was headed for Virginia City and the mayor felt Roy was too old to be sheriff.”
Hoss selected his sweetheart Bessie Sue Hightower. “Bessie Sue knows all about ice skating. Besides, she thinks I am pretty swell.” Hoss blushed.
Little Joe was thoroughly stumped. He had so many choices of female admirers to be his selection of judge he wasn’t sure who to select as his choice of judges. Finally he decided that he would select one hottie and then have the rest of his female admirers fill the stands so their cheers and applause. That surely would influence the other judges as well as warm him up at the end of the competition. Joe carefully listed all his favorite females in alphabetical order:
1) Terminal Lea Ailing
2) Julia Bullete
3) Debbie Doomella
4) Caroline Quiner Ingalls
5) Fatal Lee
6) Susan Grote
7) Tirza the Gypsy
8) Connie McKee
9) Regina Inez Peterson
10) Laura White
11) Zelda Z. Zeeplemeyer
Each day after practicing, he would take one or two of his lady friends for a private ride on the Ponderosa to relax and have them give him feedback on his skating or costume or his music selection, as some might say, “to prime the pump”.
By the time Joe had made up his mind, Terminal Lea Ailing, had croaked from a fatal illness and Regina Inez Peterons (AKA RIP) was suffering from a terminal case of charley horse and chapped lips, having spent the previous 12 hours privately viewing the Ponderosa scenery with Joe.
Joe moved down his list to Julia Bullette who admired his manly ASSets. He selected Julia as his judge and then sent the rest of his doomed gals invitations to fill the bleachers around the shore of frozen Lake Tahoe and the ice rink.
Since the Cartwright brothers were extremely charitable and decided that the event was going to be a fundraiser for the school, the fourth judge was selected by the school board — Miss Abigail Jones. Adam was both perturbed and delighted, knowing how Miss Jones would favor him in the completion but would also try to woo him or at least pinch his tush.
In the two weeks leading up to the ice skating completion, the brothers planned out their routines, designed costumes, selected music and practiced, practiced, practiced.
The three brothers drew cards to see who goes first. Joe got the King of Hearts.
“Heh heh heh!” he chuckled. “See if you can beat that, Adam!”
Adam drew the joker and sighed morosely. He was good at sighing morosely. At least his chest hair that had been lost to the duct tape competition was beginning to grow back.
“You go, Hoss,” Adam said, handing the deck to his brother.
Hoss shrugged and drew the Ace of Diamonds. “Guess I go first.”
Out came Hoss Cartwright, the first competitor; he waved his huge white hat, grins and skated around to some banjo music in a slightly strange, awkward costume: scuffed brown hockey skates and his best plaid Herculon jacket and red flannel long johns, the same ones he used to dress as a bedraggled Santa for the blind, Heidi-like girl, Gabrielle, who later went on to get a PhD in not-yet-invented rocket science and teach at MIT and date Howard Wolowycz of Big Bang Fame.
Meanwhile, back on the ice, Hoss performed some excellent leaps but without any great artistic feel for the music, which was pretty jangly banjo music much like that played by the inbred Hillbilly boy in “Deliverance”. Hoss was a large man but he was extremely light on his feet and had been the undefeated double Dutch champ of the Virginia City school yards as a boy, as well as a master of Irish step dancing as tutored by the leprechauns. He finished his routine with a perfectly executed triple spin and the crowd went wild as he did a back flip, stood on his head and waved a small American flag in a show of patriotic fervor.
The Judges’ scores read: Bessie Sue Hightower 6.0: Sheriff Roy Coffee 4.9:
Abigail Jones 3.5: Julia Bullete 3.0
“See that star! It’s the North Star! I would like to pluck it out and have it as my own!” said Tirza pointing to Joe as he waited for his performance.
“Give it a rest, girly!” grunted Tom “The Boss” Slayden-Bunker, annoyed with the bizarre Gypsy girl. He handed his two daughters, Gloria and Karen, a few dollars. “Go get me a hot dog and some beer from the concession stand.” The two young women ran down the bleachers towards the concession stand which had been set up by some Scottish immigrant hamburger chefs, the McDonalds. Gloria and Karen purchased burgers and beer for their daddy, and two cups of prune gelato and some chicken nuggets for themselves.
“Our next contestant! Joe Cartwright!” announced Dick Button over the not-yet-invented PA.
As Joe walked past her, Tirza the weird gypsy girl said “You are walking in your father’s shoes!”
“No I’m not! I’m skating in my own skates!” responded Joe, hitching up his tight tights.
“I am old and withered I am dead!” Tirza said rolling her eyes counterclockwise.
“Huh?” said Joe.
“Go away before I turn you into a toad!” said Tirza.
“Eeeeeeeeeeeeew!” squealed Fatal Lee as she suddenly died from the thought of her darling Joe being replaced by a warty icky toad.
Joe shrugged, kissed each of his remaining female admirers and made his way towards the Lake.
Joe gracefully stepped on the frozen surface of Lake Tahoe in a sparkling green outfit with green spangly stars affixed to his jacket that had been sewn by some of his female admirers. His coif was perfectly perfect. His tan tights were tighter than his tan pants ever were and showed off his ASSets and made the hearts of all his admirers go pitter-pat. The shiny silver blades of his skates were as sharp as his wit. He was skating to Johnny Cash singing the Theme from Bonanza, which Fatal Lee had found on not-yet-invented eBay and had purchased for Joe to play on his not-yet-invented CD player. The familiar music got the fans excited as every one of them watched the show on not-yet-invented TV each Sunday night. Then, he bowed and Joe raised his hands above his head and got the crowd clapping and cheering and screaming.
His performance was exciting, but was not technically as good as Hoss’. He slightly missed landing a triple Salchow and lost the center during a spin. But, artistically, it was a more satisfying performance. The crowd cheered and whistled. Joe spun and twirled on the ice. Then for the climax he looked up at the rising moon that illuminated the lake and let one perfect tear drop trickled down his cheek.
The crowd went wild and most of the female fans threw flowers onto the ice or their panties or both.
“Ooh! My tushie is freezing!” declared Debbie Dowel in the stands as she turned blue and died from frostbite. With her last breath, she said how she never regretted pulling off her panties, and for her remains to be launched off the shore of the North Atlantic where it can form into an iceberg and eventually sink the not-yet-invented Titanic and kill Leonardo Di Caprio. “He’s no Joe Cartwright!”
Doc Martin called for the scores. The Judges’ scores read: Bessie Sue Hightower 3.8; Sheriff Roy Coffee 5.5; Abigail Jones 5.9; Julia Bullete 6.0 with a bonus of 10 points for the tightness of Joe’s tights. “We can all attest to the fact that he’s no LITTLE Joe!” Julia declared, ducking a knife thrown at her by John Millain.
“I’ll get you yet, Julia!” Millain declared in an immense declaration of foreshadowing as he ran off into the snowy underbrush.
Finally out came Abigail Jones’ favorite competitor, Adam Cartwright. His heart was really not in this foolishness, especially seeing how Little Joe was so involved and had practiced to perfection. Only Adam knew that their father had telegrammed to say he was arriving on the morning stage from Sacramento so this entire competition was for naught.
Adam was wearing a tatty old black outfit, not wanting to waste his new black outfit on such foolishness. His borrowed skates were tied over his boots. He reached the ice, tripping over the numerous floral bouquets and pairs of panties Joe’s female admirers had tossed on the ice straight away. Adam sprawled face first on the ice and banged his nose which started bleeding. He tried to get up, staggered a few paces then slipped again, breaking his arm. Despite his injuries, Adam soldiered on. He was unwilling to let either of his brothers beat him and win the bet. He also was a stoic competitor. He did his entire ‘routine’, getting up then falling over again. Finally he crawled off the ice, a tattered and bleeding mess.
Doc Martin ran to his side and immediately began to administer to Adam.
The Judges’ scores read: Bessie Sue Hightower 0.0; Sheriff Roy Coffee 0.0;
Doc Martin 0.0; Julia Bullette 0.0; Abigail Jones 6.0.
The other three judges turned to the Abigail Jones judge and demanded in unison, “How the heck can you give that mess 6.0?!”
To which the Abigail Jones judge replied “You’ve got to remember — it’s darn slippery out there.
The Dramatic Conclusion! The Winner is declared
The musicians struck up the fanfare and Beyoncé sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Dick Button came up to the not-yet-invented microphone and said “The judges have tallied their results and our winner is……. JOE CARTWRIGHT!”
Joe leapt to the ice and skated a slow victory lap, and then spun around faster and faster blowing kisses to all his admirers.
The crowd went wild and more flowers and panties were tossed onto the ice in joyful and lustful celebration.
Being good sports, Adam and Hoss cheered and applauded too.
“I can be a fish if I want! “ Tirza declared, running from the bleachers. She stamped her sharp-heeled gypsy boots and cracked the ice and fell into Lake Tahoe; as she sank below the frozen surface of Lake Tahoe, she went ”Glub blub Gllllubbbbb!”
Susan Grote cheered and said, “What a great birthday!” Being a good citizen, she helped Roy Coffee fish Tirza out of the water. “What a great birthday!”
You think?” Hoss asked Bessie Sue, who shrugged and handed a towel to Susan Grote. “Happy Birthday, Susan.”
Susan smiled knowingly. “Ahhhh, competitive skating and the Cartwrights! What more can a girl want at her birthday?” She wondered if she was going to keep the towel or it was only a loan.
“Let me keep you warm, darlin’,” Joe suggested wrapping his arms around Susan. “Cake?”
“Ooo la la!”sighed Susan.
“Let’s have cake!” said Adam, Hoss and Joe in unison.
“You want cake? First you want Hop Sing to dye long Johns tan and shrink tight! Next sew green spangles on corduroy jacket! Now you want cake! I go back to China!” Hop Sing roared.
“Cake!” ordered Hoss, who had come in second in the skating contest. His stomach was growling. He hadn’t had much to eat since Hop Sing went on strike
“Cake!” added Adam firmly. He glared at Hop Sing and his hand hovered over his holstered pistol. He had come in third and had the bronze medal to prove it.
“Can’t wait until Mr. Cartwright comes back from Club Med Vacation!” Hop Sing muttered as he scurried back to the concession stand. He quickly returned with a crinkly cellophane wrapped package of not-yet-invented Hostess Twinkies and a not-yet-invented twirly glow stick. He ripped the Twinkies out of the cellophane and put the two Twinkies end to end on the business end of the snow shovel that was lying next to the judges’ stand. Hoppy shoved the glow stick into the phallic shaped pastry and declared. “Cake! You like Miss Susan? Happy Birthday! “
Susan smiled modestly and said “Thank you, Hop Sing!” Susan never breathed a word how much the shape of the Twinkies reminded her of Joe…but she was a lady and ladies never told.