Summary: A REALY lost episode.
Word Count: 3200
“Hey!” shouted Hoss as he walked past Little Joe’s room in the front or back or side of the house. “Them are my sox, Little Joe!”
“No they ain’t!” Joe argued as he sat barefooted on the edge of his bed. A
gray sock dangled from the boy’s left hand and the weird portrait of the Indian Chief stared down on the handsome youngest son of Cattle Baron Ben Cartwright. “They are mine!”
“No they ain’t!” Hoss argued angrily.
“Yes they are!” Joe countered.
“Ain’t!” Hoss shouted louder.
“Are!” Joe said indignantly. Then he figured he would outwit Hoss.
“Ain’t!” Hoss bellowed attempting to grab his brother and rip the sox of his feet.
“AIN’T!” Joe repeated Hoss.
“Are!” Hoss countered not realizing Joe had confused him into saying the wrong word.
“Ain’t,” Joe giggled.
“ARE ARE ARE!!!!” Hoss bellowed his voice rattling off the walls.
“See, I told you they are mine,” Joe grinned triumphantly. “MINE!!!”
“Wait a minute! You tricked me!” Hoss lunged for his smaller brother. Joe ducked, flipped backwards and raced down the hallway nearly careening into his father.
“What are you two boys arguing about?” Ben demanded, walking down the hallway. He narrowly missed getting knocked down the staircase by Little Joe and Hoss.
“Hoss said I stole his socks!” Joe said, furiously waving the gray socks in
the air. He danced back and forth trying to avoid being captured by Hoss.
“He did! Joe, you sock thief! Them are mine!” Hoss again reached out to grab the sox.
Joe agilely feinted left and slid right and hid behind Ben.” MINE!”
“Watch out!” Ben said. “I just had that banister fixed again for the seventy third time. Bob Villa said to let the glue set for at least a week before any of us plunge down the stairs and bang into the railing again. After all, we are all big men and even the sturdiest oak isn’t enough to stand up to our manly man tumbles.”
“OK, Pa!” Hoss and Joe nodded obediently in unison like two bobble heads. “Yes sir!”
“Well,” said their father wisely. “There is only one way to tell who owns the socks.”
“Draw straws?” Joe suggested. “Hold lit matches?”
“Cut cards?” Hoss suggested.” Eat pancakes?”
“Smell those sox? And if you die quick, you know they belong to Joe?” Adam
chuckled as he came out of his room. “If you die slow, they belong to Hoss?”
Adam knew they weren’t his as Laura Dayton had purchased 17 dozen black socks for Adam upon their engagement and he still had at least 3 dozen left. Whiney blonde Laura must be buying poor cousin Will’s undies now. Poor Will! Zorro under-ooos briefs? Starched boxers? GARTERS!!?!?!
“No, try the sock on… Little Joe has big feet…” Ben started.
“And you know what gals say about the size of a feller’s tootsies?” Joe winked wiggling his adorable hips like a western Chippendale dancer.
“Ahem!” Ben corrected. It was far too early in the morning to see his youngest son doing a hoochie dance at the top of the stairs. He hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet.
“Joseph, like all of us manly Cartwrights, has big feet etc. etc.” Adam nodded.
“Especially the ‘etc.’,” Ben smiled knowingly. He was proud of the legacy of that Cartwright “etc”.
“Especially the ‘etc.’,” Joe bragged wiggling his hips again.
“JOSEPH!” Ben shouted grabbing his hyperactive son by his shoulders. “Save the dancing for after my coffee!”
“Yes sir!” Joe said. He winked and gave one last wiggle. No one in Nevada territory winked and wiggled with the agility of Little Joe Cartwright; though many tried, few succeeded.
Ben continued, “Joseph has big feet. However, Hoss has both the Cartwright feet genes as well as the Borgstrom feet genes; we all know Uncle Gunnar.”
“And the convoluted synchronization of Cartwright foot genes and Borgstrom foot genes is a bio-medical astonishing medical phenomenon!” Adam exclaimed. He had studied that topic in Back East U.
“Uncle Gunnar the Viking Comanchero?” Joe added with a shudder. Gunnar wore sandals even in the middle of winter. He started that fashion faux pas when he started wearing sombreros and orange satin shirts.
“Yes, that Uncle Gunnar,” Adam nodded. “What was the man thinking? Basic black was so cool and sophisticated.”
“Uncle Gunnar,” Ben continued was also known as ‘Big Foot’ or the ‘Yetti‘ or ‘El Tootsie Grando’. Put the sock on Joe and let’s see.” Ben crossed his arms across his chest in a very Solomonic gesture.
Joe pulled on the sock, and pulled on the sock and pulled on the sock. The
foot part fit fine. However the top of his sock reached beyond Little Joe’s
thigh and could easily have been used as a turtleneck sweater had Joe unrolled the garment completely.
“OOooops… guess these are yours, Hoss,” Joe giggled.
“Sock thief!” Hoss said, yanking the sock from his smaller brother’s foot and tossing Joe aside with a thunk. Adam snagged Joe by his hair before he tumbled down the stairs.
Lunch on the Range
Lunch was routine.
Each boy opened his Zorro lunch box and quietly ate the peanut butter and jelly sandwich Hop Sing had packed for him. Joe wanted a Lunchable but Pa had declared them “Crappolla!” and off limits. Each drank their entire thermos of milk and then went back to work.
“Pa said we got guests for dinner and we should finish up early,” Joe reminded the others.
“Adam’s lady friend Camille is joining us,” Hoss added.
“And don’t you boys forget to change your sox!” Adam reminded his younger brothers as he headed back to the house to meet his guest. “Camille is delicate.”
Dinner on the Ponderosa
“I always look well when I’m near death,” said Camille, coughing her last lung into Ben’s hanky. She handed it back to him.
Ben looked at it and handed it back to the wan tubercular gal that Adam had brought home for dinner. “Keep it my dear. I have plenty more where they came from.” Ben had just bought a bale of new Cattle Baron hankies down at the mercantile at the annual white sale. The Cartwrights went through them like Kleenex. Ben was always generous to guests. Sometimes he even gave them a few acres of land or some compost or a bunch of clean hankies.
Adam Cartwright and Tubercular Camille Blue-Dress had spent the afternoon on the front porch reading depressing sonnets. Hop Sing had cooked a marvelous dinner of Adam’s favorite foods: black truffles and black caviar on burnt pumpernickel toast and blackened Cajun flounder with black eyed peas. They all watch frail Camille smile at her beloved. She had brought blackberry cobbler for Adam for dessert and he was smitten… at least for today.
“Think I should Heimlich her, Pa?” Hoss offered hospitably.
“Why bother?” Ben shrugged.
“Better wed than dead.” Camille coughed. “Hack hack choke.”
“Don’t you mean it the other way? “ Joe asked the coughing girl, raising his voice. “I see dead people. I date dead people before they die.”
“Me too!” said Hoss. “And most of them are gals who fall for one of us Cartwrights.”
“I tend to marry them first…then they die,” Ben smiled, paternally handing Camille a bowl of vichyssoise with black bean garnish and a new hanky. She didn’t quite notice that the fine linen was monogrammed “RIP”.
”You look so pale and so terminal,” Adam smiled. “Would you like me to play my guitar for you, Darling? I can play great funeral tunes. It will only take a second for me to run upstairs and get my new guitar that came all the way from New York.”
“A second is too long. Oops!” she said and croaked. Her head flopped in the cold potato soup. One black bean floated up her right nostril.
Joe giggled nervously as the cold potato soup splattered on Adam’s new black polyester shirt. Little Joe put his elbows on Camille’s back and reached for the breadbasket. Camille head bobbed as a wave of vichyssoise sloshed over the edge of the soup bowl.
Adam whacked his younger brother over the head with the ladle. It was the same silver ladle that Marie had bought with Ben on their honeymoon. The infamous ladle of WOWza.
“Can’t you ask for me to pass the bread? Were you brought up in a barn?” Adam corrected him. “Get your elbows off my gal’s back while she drowns in the soup.”
”JOSEPH! Adam!” Ben thundered. “Couldn’t you even let me finish dinner in peace?
“Peas? Pa this is potato soup…” Hoss interrupted. “Peas is green.”
“PEACE HOSS! Peace!” Ben bellowed. “Do you think we could have a quiet, calm meal without all of you starting up with your brothers and another dead woman in the soup? And watch how you swing that ladle. It is a family heirloom!”
”Yeah, Joe. We worked dang hard today fencing in that North Pasture so that the Plethers and Naugas wouldn’t break free and trample down that miniature golf course that Adam put in last week.” Hoss grumbled. He wiped his chin on Pa’s toupee and replaced it perfectly centered on Ben’s cranium.
”Sure wish we could have one meal with out some dead girl in the soup.” Ben muttered as he took a sip of his soup. “Just one.”
Hoss shrugged. “What’s for dessert?”
“Blackberry pie,” Joe smiled. “Adam’s favorite.”
Hoss shuddered; the only dessert he hated was blackberry pie. The teeny seeds caught in the gaps in his teeth and made whistley sounds. “Think I’ll ride into town for some dessert.”
Little did his family know what Hoss REALLY meant by that remark.
“Son, while you are in town, pick up a dozen gal-sized coffins,” Ben requested.
“And a quart of low fat chocolate milk,” Adam added.
“And some Pepperidge Farm cookies, Tahoes!” Joe added.
“Mmmmm… Tahoes!” smiled Ben and Adam with matching twinkles in their smoldering eyes. Both father and son loved those Tahoe sweeties.
Dessert in the International Suite
“I’ve never been alone with a man before – even with my dress on. With my dress off, it’s most unusual. I don’t seem to mind. Do you?” she lied to Hoss Cartwright.
“No, Ma’am,” Hoss nervously shifted his weight from foot to foot. His sox were wet and he made squishy noises as he walked. He had no idea how he wound up in the boudoir of the internationally infamous saloon singer Sally Bowles. One minute he was in the mercantile picking up supplies, the next he was helping the alluring gal schlep her tiny sack of gourmet poodle food up to her penthouse suite in the International Hotel in the pouring rain.
And there was NO POODLE. Hoss was beginning to think he was tricked.
“Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome,” said Sally Bowles to Hoss as she locked the door behind them. Her suite was known as the Pod Bay.
“Howdy, Ma’am” Hoss said nervously eyeing her ruby velvet robe. Pa had a similar robe; only it had pink satin lapels. “Ain’t you got a poodle around here?”
“Poodle?” she laughed. “Why don’t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?” Sally Bowles, international entertainer, said to Hoss as he dripped on the floor. She had no poodle but she sure had plans for Hoss.
“Take off my fuzzy funky wool jacket?” he asked nervously as a puddle spread around his feet.
“And whatever else suits your fancy. Sweetie,” Sally smiled. “I would love to see your birthday suit…and your SOX!”
So Hoss took off his hat nervously and turned it round and round and round in his hands. “Ummmm. Ummmm. Umm!”
“Is that all that suits you?” she said eyeing his ten-gallon hat and the rest of the large cowboy. “Come on, darling. Why don’t you kick off your spurs?”
“Well…er… these boots are dang tight too.” Hoss sat down on the floor to pull off his muddy boots and sat in the puddle. “And my sox are wet.”
“Hossie Wossie… you just got your sox all wet. Don’t you think you should take them off and let them dry by the fire? And your britches too? And your flaming map boxers? You just sat in a puddle!”
Hoss blushed knowing that his brothers would tease him if they saw his wet cowboy pants and boxers hanging near the fireplace. Joe would laugh and say “Looks like Big brother pissed his pants… again!” Joe would cackle like a hen laying an oversized ostrich egg on a cold night. Then Adam would chuckle and shake his head and toss a lit match at Hoss or shove him down the well. Hoss did not relish that …again. It wasn’t easy being the middle boy and having sox trouble.
“Ya wanna dance or would you rather just suck face?” Sally Bowles said rudely yanking off the cowboy‘s sox.
“Garsh, I ain’t a very good dancer Miss Sally.” Hoss blushed modestly. He wasn’t really a bad dancer. For a huge man, he was quite light on his feet and could do the Virginia Reel, the mambo and was learning the hora from Mr. Kauffman the peddler as well as the tarantella from Mrs. Rossi. Older brother Adam could spout poetry and act cultured, Joe could melt a heart with his grin, the twinkle in his green eyes and his secret soxs stuffed in the crotch of his cowboy pants but Hoss could dance like Fred Astaire.
More importantly, Hoss Cartwright had learned that playing shy and naïve with women worked like a charm.
“You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.” Sally batted her eyelashes at Hoss. ”That and hot sox.”
“Hot sox?“ Hoss swallowed hard looking down at his wooly argyle sox.
“Yes! No other trashy woman has a yen for sox like moi!” Sally purred.
“Thanks. Folks say my other brothers are smarter but I am likeable and have a good heart.”
“And mighty big feet. You know what they say about men with BIG feet?”
“That you better watch out when you dance together?” Hoss said innocently. He remembered stomping on Mr. Kaufman’s bunions a couple of times when they did the hora.
“Oh no!” Sally purred. “That is not what they say about men with BIG FEET!! Didn’t anyone ever tell you that?”
Hoss blushed and whispered, “Men with big feet have big… big…umm…”
Sally snuggled closer and kissed Hoss seductively. “Say it Hoss. Men with big feet have big…”
“Sox?” Hoss blushed. He prayed he had remembered to wear clean sox that matched and had no holes in them as this was going to be the night that some lucky gal was going to see the sox of Hoss Cartwright.
Midnight Snack In Virginia City
Hours later, the Cartwrights, desperate for dessert had ridden into town to search for Hoss and the Tahoe cookies. They found Hoss sitting in the corner of the saloon in the lobby of the International House. Hoss’ head was spinning and he tried to tell the tale of his traumatic encounter with hoochie mama Sally Bowles.
“Then she tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up.” Hoss told Ben, Adam and Little Joe.
“Then what happened son?” Ben said, protectively patting distraught Hoss on his wide back much as the Karate Kid polished a car.
“I heard a scream, and I didn’t know if it was me who screamed or not!” Hoss sobbed.
“If it was I or not…”Adam corrected automatically as he looked up the staircase towards the private area of the saloon. No one messed with his brothers without Adam Cartwright tending to it.
“Why that brazen hussy! I think I am going right up there and give her a piece of my mind!” Ben said angrily as he comforted Hoss.
“Too late Pa, Adam already headed up the stairs and he looked mighty excited. “ Joe winked and grinned. “Mighty excited.”
“He sorta looked like he was a thinkin’ with his lips agin, Pa.” Hoss said hitching up his trousers and shoving his BIG soxless feet into his boots. “She done stole my sox! My good argyles!”
“Your older brother always watches out for you two boys,” Ben said proudly. “Such a good son! And he always wears clean black sox too.”
“Yes sir, he sure does,” Joe sighed, wishing he had rushed up the stairs before Adam. Joe was wiry and quick and probably a better athlete that his older brother but when it came to strategy and protecting his younger brothers from the attentions of alluring, slutty women, Adam would take the fall for them and die with a big smile on his handsome face and his sox steaming.
Adam Cartwright pounded on the door of Sally Bowle’s private suite. “Open this Pod Bay up!!” he demanded mellifluously. Her butler HAL came to the door.
“Who is there? Miss Bowles is not receiving visitors,” said HAL in a flat tone.
“Open the Pod Bay doors, HAL.” Adam demanded pounding on the door.
“I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that,” HAL said firmly. “Miss Bowles has company right now.”
“I’m not Dave! My name is Cartwright. Adam Cartwright. I demand Sally Bowles come to the door, right now! Open the Pod Bay doors, HAL”
“What’s the problem, Dave…er…Adam?” Sally said, swinging open the door. She was wearing some sort of glittery sheer gown that gave the illusion that you were seeing more than you thought you were seeing. She also was twirling one of Hoss’ charred sox in her hand.
“I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.” Adam growled as he stepped into the suite. “And those are my brother’s sox!”
“Only one. A little souvenir! The other is in my cleavage.” Sally smiled seductively.” Want to search me? I don’t understand why you are complaining!”
“Not that I can see either, Mr. Cartwright,” HAL said. The butler opened the second door of the suite and handed a tall blonde, blue-eyed cowboy his hat. HAL handed Sally another pair of sox. These belonged to the departing cowhand.
“What are you talking about, HAL?” Sally smiled batting her black eyelashes at Adam and tucking the sox into her cleavage.
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Adam said, noticing Cool Hand Luke leaving through the other door to Sally’s place, hitching up his cowboy pants and chugging down a bottle of Newman’s best Ranch dressing. “I came for my brother Hoss’ sox.”
“Sox?” Sally smiled. “Everyone wants sox!”