Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 3050
Adam Discovers Secrets
Sometimes, there comes a moment when a child discover that his parent is not perfect. Adam Cartwright came to know that one summer in his third decade.
After he made his discovery, Adam Cartwright finally decided that he was weary of being sensibly sensible and perfectly perfect and dependably dependable. Adam was tired of living in his father’s shadow and being the wind beneath his two brothers’ wings, especially Hoss. It took a lot of wind to loft that big hefty bird. He was tired of being the son of the richest man in Nevada (other than Charles Augustus Hackett and that guy Don Corleone, who had a son living in Tahoe) and still having to chop wood, run errands and rake out poopy horse stalls.
“Jeez, Pa! I don’t know why I have to do all this work like a lowly ranch hand. Jarred Barkley never has to do all that, and most episodes…er… days, he just walks around in a silk cravat, a brocade vest and a spiffy pinstriped suit. His hands are perfectly clean and as soft as…as…”
“…a little girl’s?” Joe finished Adam’s sentence and cackled like a blue jay then ducked behind Hoss before Adam threw something at his head.
“Yeah! Jarrod’s hands are as soft as a little girl’s!” Adam sputtered angrily.
”Yes, Adam. Jarred has swell clothes and never dirties his hands but would you want that…that…that mother of his?” Ben glared. “Would you?”
Adam instantly turned red and stammered, “No sir, she looks like she could kill her husband for the insurance money and run off with the Pa from ‘My Three Sons’.”
“Robert Young?” Ben guessed, confusing Chip, Robbie and Mike’s dad with Kathy, Bud and Betty’s.
”No, sir. That was Fred McMurray,” Adam corrected.
“And how come Mike disappeared when he got married and suddenly Fred adopted Ernie?” Joe interrupted from his hiding place behind Hoss.
“Yeah!” Hoss agreed. “How come?” He grabbed one of the apples off the coffee table.
“And their grandfather sure looked like Fred Mertz and that Uncle Charley sure looked like Mr. Milford,” Joe pointed out, taking an apple for himself.
“I don’t know, Joe. That Uncle Charley looked more like that Mr. Tweedy who tried to stick us with Old Sheba,” Hoss countered.
“Maybe.” Joe shrugged and looked at Adam for help. “What do you think, Adam? You know EVERYTHING!”
”What do I think? What do I think? I’m sick and tired of doing all the thinking for you two!” Adam yelled.
“Sometimes it only looked like the grass was greener on the other side of the fence,” Ben said philosophically.
Suddenly Adam realized Audra Barkley looked vaguely like his former fiancée Laura EEEEEeeeeeew Dayton. His stomach did flip flops. Even though he had silk cravats and brocade vests and clean hands that were a soft as a little girl’s, Jarred sure had his family problems too.
“Be thankful for what you have, son, and enjoy life,” Ben added.
It was clear as the nose on his face and the hair on his chest, and he had never figured it out. All those years, after the boys were in bed, Pa snuck out!
They had the same nightly routine for YEARS. Cocoa and one cookie for each boy. Then Hoss and Little Joe had put on their cowboy nighties. Adam usually slept naked except in the coldest of winters or when they had house guests. Then they and would brush brush brush their teeth and gargle. Then, while his boys sat on the settee in front of the fireplace, Pa read them boring stories from an old Hardy Boys book or some boring dreck that Dickens or Mark Twain supposedly wrote. Later, Adam discovered Ben had made THAT up too…he was really reading to them the out of date Encyclopedia International that Roy Coffee had won as a consolation gift on Jeopardy. Roy had traded them to Pa for his autographed picture of Barbara Stanwyk and some old toupee glue. Ben’s ‘Three Sons’ would finally fall asleep from boredom or from his bopping them over the head with one of the thick volumes of the encyclopedia.
Sometimes Little Joe pretended to fall sleep. Joe act like he was sound asleep so Pa would kiss him on his little sweet head and order Hoss or Adam haul his dead weight aaaaaaall the way up the steep stairs like a sack of lead horse shoes.
Once Adam said, “Can’t we put Joe to sleep in that downstairs guest room that appears randomly when we need it?”
Pa replied, “No, Adam. You can get a hernia or ruptured spleen or slipped disc or both, not me. You haul dear Little Joe up the steep stairs. After all, Little Joe carried you over his shoulders in ‘The Honor of Cochise’. And you are much bigger while he is merely a slim, sweet young boy.”
No matter how hard Adam tried to explain to Ben that Joe had carried a fake Adam Cartwright dummy that Hoss made from a discarded CPR dummy Doc Martin had in his back room and dressed in one of Paladin’s old outfits, and that Adam had crawled on his own back to safety, Pa didn’t listen. The man was so stubborn!
Then, as usual, when Pa was not looking, Joe opened his eyes, stuck out his tongue at Adam and whispered, “Jokes on you, Adam! Catch me if you can; I am the tight crotched spandex pants man! Ain’t I adorable? I’m the baby! Got to love me!”
Before Adam could smack his pesky little brother, Ben gave him one of his riveting looks and Adam quickly carried Joe up the stairs but let his head bang on the top step when Pa wasn’t looking.
Later that night, as usual, Adam was sitting alone in the dark and doing algebra problems in his head as he frequently did. Adam was contemplating that Pa had been married three times, but if you added up the whole shebang up, he couldn’t have been married more than five or six years, and most of that time those wives were “with child”. Pa hadn’t been “with a woman” in like fifteen years or twenty three years or five seasons on NBC Sunday’s at 9 (8 o’clock central). Now, Adam knew why Pa was cranky at times, shouted loud enough to make a landslide and shot people.
Suddenly, Adam heard a rattle and a clunk and thud.
Could it be Paiutes?
Wolves? Cattle rustlers?
Santa coming down the chimney?
Adam leapt from his bed. He quickly put his boots on and grabbed his gun from the Rubbermaid Gun holder. He ran naked (except he wore his boots as slippers were so uncool for a cowboy, even though Hoss wanted fluffy bunny slippers for his birthday) down the hall just in time to see that rascal Little Joe disappear over the window sill and down the ladder-like rose trellis that he had so cleverly nailed to the side of the house and covered with fake flowers.
Adam stood at his little brother’s window and watched the lad gallop off toward Virginia City. Cochise ran after him.
“JOE!” Adam bellowed. “Come back!”
Then, realizing he was neked, Adam grabbed a pair of Joe’s belt loopless spandex pants and tugged them on. They amazingly stretched 17 sizes and fit Adam perfectly. He caught his reflection in the mirror and decided that the next time Old Navy had a sale, he would ditch the black duds and try some tan spandex…. Maybe even some powder blue and neon green biker shorts. And maybe one of those plaid shirts. Better yet one of those flowery Hawaiian shirts. To hell with startling the cows and horses. To hell with morbid borrrrrrrrrrrring monochromatic BLACK.
Adam ran down the hall feeling like a super hero in the tight pants. “PAAAAAAAaaaa!” he bellowed, “Joe is galloping off!!!” He threw open Pa’s bedroom door and discovered the room was empty, totally empty.
The massive Cattle Baron bed was smooth and unrumpled. No one had slept in it! Ben’s pink lapel robe hanging neatly from the hook. The infamous three dead wife portraits were lined up neatly on the nightstand next to Pa’s kangaroo brief case and the remote for the not-yet-invented TV, where Pa claimed he watched Johnny Carson before he fell asleep.
Adam gasped. A note was pinned to Pa’s pillow. Could Pa have been kidnapped?
With a trembling hand, Adam took the note and read, “Had a late dinner date with a floozy. If you see this note, you are dreaming and it never happened. Go back to bed. See you in the morning when we eat a healthy breakfast.”
Pa was gone.
Cochise was gone — Buck and Joe too.
“Hooooooossss!” Adam hollered as he ran into his brother’s room. Hoss was gone too. There was a note on his pillow held in place by a stale Twinkie that had been gnawed to a sharp point. The note said “Went to the Seven Eleven for lotsa grub and a late date with the cashier, Lustilla. I’ll be back.”
“I’ll be back!?” Adam repeated out loud. “Very Arnold-esque!” Adam noted. Maybe Hoss should run for the governor of California and change his name to the Hoss-inator?
Adam was alone.
Everyone in the family had all gone out for a major wild time in Virginia City and the suburbs of Virginia City, and he was the dang goody two shoes, responsible, boring one, doing math in his head and trying to go to sleep early so he could get up at dawn to de-poop the stalls in the barn.
That was the turning point.
Adam decided to run wild and free. He would quit being so responsible and serious. He would not open those fool letters from the Publishers Clearing House on the off chance he won. He would rip tags from the pillows and be a rapscallion or whatever kind of scallion he wanted to be.
Instantly, Adam thought it was time he could live life to the fullest. He would go wild and order lots of real books on Ebay, and change his wardrobe to something new. He would get a tropical print Miami Vice shirt or maybe some tie-dyed tee instead of gloomy dusty black… and some nice open toed sandals or colorful Ed Hardy high tops instead of heavy black boots. He would kick up his heels and have fun fun fun and even have a second flat beer or one of those tropical drinks with paper parasols in them at the bar, and maybe even have one of those “private” dinners upstairs with one of the saloon ladies. He would finally date someone who wouldn’t die before they did the “deed” or even go to the new video game arcade in the Virginia City Mall and play Tetris or Ms Pacman and eat Fritos and caviar and burp.
He would go wild.
Adam Cartwright was going to rebel.
There would be no more of this “Be home for dinner and let me tuck you in, son” crappola that Pa always pulled. Adam suddenly figured out that the reason Pa did that was so he knew exactly when his three “boys” were bedded down and sound asleep, and then Pa would sneak out. He would ride into town for a bit of frivolity and falderal himself. That explained what Doc Martin had let slip once when he was drunk at the Annual Flesh Wound and Evil Twin fest in Carson City (which was named for Johnny Carson)!
Adam had finally realized that his Pa had lived a lie.
Adam slept until noon and ate all of Hoss’ stash of Halloween candy for breakfast. Then he took another nap. That night Adam rode into town looking for a good time. At the saloon, he ran into Lotta Crabtree. They drank champagne, lots of champagne.
They gazed longingly at each other, the hoochie mama song and dance gal and the darkly handsome cowboy who had decided to throw caution to the wind and go to the wild side.
“Ooolala! Is that another bottle of champagne in your pants that you borrowed from your brother Joe or are you just really happy to see me?” Lotta sighted suggestively.
“Wanna find out, baby?”Adam smiled lustily and followed her up the stairs for a yummy dinner.
Adam tipped her back and kissed Lotta a lot. He kissed her long and he kissed her hard. He kissed her with a fire that could melt all the silver in the Comstock Lode as well as render chicken fat. They exchanged hot burning kisses and Adam twirled his tongue around Lotta’s tonsils (both of them).
“Wowza!” sighed Adam, deciding if he would kiss and threaten to break her arms. Then he figured “what the heck! It’s my time to go wilder than wild.”
”You have something I want!” Lotta said, batting her eyelashes and Adam’s head with a baseball bat. He was sure she eyed his magnificent manhood jammed into Little Joe’s spandex cowboy pants.
“What is that?” Adam smiled flashing his best smoldering lusty smile. “What is it that you want?”
“Your brother” Lotta sighed.
”No, you dumb cowboy! I want Joe!”
“Just Joe?” Adam’s heart fell.
“Not just Joe. Joe and…and your father’s moolah!”
Mortified, Adam quickly departed, taking the empty champagne bottles with him for recycling. Old habits don’t fade that easily.
At the next Virginia City saloon, Adam ran into the lovely and seductive Julia Bullette. They also drank champagne, a lot of champagne. They gazed at each other. Julia looked him up and down longingly and said “Ooolala baby! Is that the Sunday edition of the Territorial Enterprise in your pants or are you happy to see me, Adam?”
Adam smiled back lustily and followed her up the stairs, hoping for a yummy private “dinner”.
As they entered Julia’s red velvet boudoir, Adam tipped her back and kissed Julia a lot. They exchanged hot burning kisses and Adam twirled his tongue around her tonsils too (both of them). Adam did great tonsil twirling.
“Wowza!” sighed Adam, deciding she kissed pretty well for someone who did this professionally Then he figured, “what the heck!”
”You have something I want!” Julia said, batting her eyelashes and Adam’s head with a baseball bat. She too eyed his magnificent manhood jammed into Little Joe’s spandex cowboy pants. Adam decided he wouldn’t even wait for sale days at Old Navy. He was replacing his wardrobe as soon as he could, maybe sooner. He started to pull off his clothes in preparation of his shopping spree.
“What is that?” Adam smiled, flashing his best smoldering lusty smile. “What do you want?”
“Your Pa’s ranch” Julia sighed. “Er, is this your first time.”
“Tonight? Do you know Lotta Crabtree?” Adam smiled roguishly.
“No you dumb cowboy, I only know MEN!”
Adam smiled. This sure was better than staying home alone reading classics or memorizing Latin verb conjugations or doing quadratic equations by the fire while the rest of the Cartwrights had a wild time in town.
Days and nights passed in this way for Adam Cartwright…wine, women, song, drinks with little parasols tucked into the pineapple slices, take- out tacos and women — lots and lots of women. Finally Adam collapsed into a pile of partied-out dirty sox and empty champagne bottles and wearily decided it was time to go back home.
When he finally arrived back on the Ponderosa, his family was eating breakfast. Nothing was said about the nights they all were gone. Pa had taught that a gentleman never discusses his lady friends with other gentlemen, and the Cartwrights were not only handsome manly cowboys but they were gentlemen. The Cartwrights all made vague comments about the fences and the ooziness of the fried eggs and the sliminess of the half-cooked bacon and moving cattle and who would ride into town to pick up the mail. Adam’s stomach lurched as did his father’s and his brother’s but no mention was made.
They were manly men, tough cowboys, heroic heroes. They were Cartwrights and some things were never discussed.
“Well, boys, let’s ride. Got lots of horses to break and dead gals to bury before the week is through!” Ben smiled, passing out a shiny new shovel to each of his sons. “Bought these swell new shovels online at Shovels R Us.”
Joe looked at Pa and a tear traced its way down his cheek. “I sure liked her.”
“Who?” Hoss asked.
”What’s-her- name…I kinda forgot… The girl who died.”
”There will be others,” Ben said in his eternal paternal way but not really paying attention to the conversation. Johnny Carson was having Zsa Zsa Gabor on tonight along with Jay Leno, David Letterman and Edwin Booth, as well as the entire cast of “Bohemian Girl” with that dippy, red-haired girl Joe fell for before she dumped him. What was her name? Julia Grant?
”You mean, I’ll fall in love again, Pa?” Joe climbed into his father’s lap and laid his head on Ben’s shoulder. Hoss climbed on too. Then Adam joined his brothers on their father’s lap. Pa loved his boys but this was completely ridiculous. Their combined weight was equal to a John Deere tractor and almost squashed his pancreas and left kidney and smooshed his precious family jewels.
”Uuuuhhhhh!” Ben groaned hugging close to half a ton of grown sons, trying to shove them to the floor. “I love you boys but enough is enough!”
“Do you mean I will fall in love again with other girls?” Joe repeated, looking into Ben’s eyes or possibly up his nose.
“No, I mean other girls will die!” Ben explained, dumping his boys onto the floor…
They all laughed and decided that they deserved a night at home together playing cribbage, chess, checkers and Chutes and Ladders, eating greasy food and watching reruns of “Full House” on the not-yet-invented TV. They all loved sweet baby Michelle, except Adam who secretly preferred Kimmy Gibler and her wry, off beat sense of humor.