Summary: A Really Lost Episode
Word Count: 2749
Adam’s Memoirs: Visiting Dustville Junction
“Who is that fella over there?” my kid brother Joe asked. He was sizing up the crowd in the Dustville Junction Saloon.
“Stubby Squeaks. But don’t you call him that, not to his face,” said the bartender refilling my glass and then my two brothers’ glasses. Hoss had a big, heavy bottomed glass mug. Joe, his usual sippy cup with two straws.
“Not to his face?” Little Joe boldly asked with a grin and a wink. He downed his own beer and started on mine. I swatted his hand and the bartender quickly gave Joe another beer.
“On the house!” the bartender smiled.
“Thanks!” Joe grinned warmly. He winked and three pretty gals winked back.
“On the house?” I asked raising my left eyebrow at a 47 and a half degree angle. I was a bit jealous that Joe had that extra sippy cup of beer on the house but wouldn’t say as much. Joe, that little scamp, would just gloat if I did and I had enough of his gloating that week.
He had insisted he had won first prize the Publisher’s Clearing House and was walking around for days waving the letter and talking about fancy saddles and new green corduroy jackets and custom gun belts and trips to Frisco and New York and designer chaps and not yet invented plasma TVs and getting Cochise his/her own latte machine in the barn. That stubborn, hot-headed kid wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell him it was a hoax.
“No sir! You don’t know what you are talking about!” Joe argued. We almost came to blows.
“Then go try to cash the check! Go on! Go into Virginia City and cash the phony check!” I challenged. I was fed up. I even pointed out that Ed Mc Mahon hadn’t shown up on the Ponderosa with balloons and camera crews either but Joe figured I was wrong. So, I told him to ask Pa if he didn’t believe me. Pa would set that fool kid straight.
Little Joe finally got his come-up-ance when Pa pointed out it was junk mail addressed to Occupant/Ponderosa Ranch, not Joe Cartwright. “Don’t you know how to read your own name, JOSEPH!?!?! If you try to cash it, not only will you look like a jerk and embarrass the family but they might just tack it on my over draft account!”
“And there goes our inheritances!” Hoss added.
Pa gave Hoss a real black look at that point and Hoss realized what he said and turned scarlet. He tried to pull his foot out of his mouth and said “Well, not for a real long time, Pa! We ain’t looking for you to die for real real long!”
I grinned knowing I was the executor of Pa’s will and the last laugh would be mine. I was sure I could tell convince those boys to take all the shiny pennies and leave me with the dirty old crumpled dollars.
Anyway, my younger brother Joe had this easy way with people that, to be honest, I envied. That and his hair too. He could walk into a strange bar and within minutes be gabbing with everyone like he knew them his entire life. He would be playing poker or Ms Pac Man and being sized up by the prettiest gal in the place in seconds. Within ten minutes, he would have made a pal from a stranger, won $500 at cards, entered his name as high scorer at Ms Pac Man and left with an appealing gal for the rest of the night. Then he would be gloating the next morning when he bragged about the experience. Sometimes he would gloat about his gal gymnastics before I even had coffee and that would set the day off badly.
About that spending the night with a gal stuff. Some folks liked to assume since all of us Cartwrights were unmarried, we were innocent to the ways of the flesh…that is except for Pa who had married three times… but that is far from true. Very very very very far. Far far far far from true. Really Far. Really really really far. OH BOY, it was really far far far from the truth.
Folks shouldn’t assume things since my brothers and I are unmarried. Just remember what that great philosopher, Felix Unger, said about assuming. He said, “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”
“He don’t like it when you call him Stubby Squeaks,” the bartender explained. He wiped the polished top of the bar with an old damp rag. Did you ever think how unhygienic that was? I once spent a cold winter night discussing that with Doc Martin in such detail. I was pretty nauseous by the time Doc left. We were trying to help Hoss pass the sixth grade for the fourth time by winning the science fair. Joe had said I could ask Miss Jones the teacher out as a bribe but that was a frightening prospect. So we put a lot of effort on Hoss’ science project in microbiology and he won beating out Nellie Olsen who did some cloning and made twins who she named Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen. Pa was real proud. Then again, in a saloon, the spilt rotgut must have worked pretty well in terms of sanitizing the not-yet-invented Formica.
“Call him Stubby Squeaks and he gets mighty peevish,” repeated the stout bartender. Joe sucked down another beer and Hoss bought another round.
“Must be a good story with that kind of nickname.” I said leaning on the bar. It had been a long, boring ride from the Ponderosa to Dustville Junction. I had a pounding headache and my butt hurt and I had dust under my contact lenses. Most of the ride, Joe kept telling obscene “knock knock jokes” and singing in pig latin and giggling and screeching like a blue jay on speed or long fingernails on a slate board.
Hoss spent most of the trip morosely sighing. He was going to miss his date with Bessie Sue Hightower because of this trip to Dustville Junction. Hoss had purchased a new, badly cut, itchy sport coat made from recycled plaid Herculon couch covers at the Virginia City Big and Tall Cowboy Organic Haberdashers.
For a week, Hoss practiced dancing in the barn and cleaned his fingernails and Pa had given him that “no glove, no love lecture.” Hoss was primed and ready to go. Then, the next day, Pa fell and hurt his pishtanyikas said we just had to go up to Dustville and bring up a string of naugas to the LazEboy factory and there was no way we would make it back to the Ponderosa by dance time.
The more morose Hoss got, the more frantic Joe got to cheer him up. Finally just before we hit Dustville, I demanded them both to quite cackling and sighing as it was making the horses skittish and I would shoot them both if they didn’t shut up. I told my brothers that if they didn’t let up on the giggling like a jaybird (Joe) and sighing like a sissy with asthma (Hoss) they would eat lead for dinner.
Joe said, “You ain’t allowed to shoot us any more! Pa said.”
And Hoss backed him up with “If you shoot us, we’ll tell Pa and he’ll be mighty put off.”
“If I shoot you two, you’ll be dead and neither of you will tell Pa.” I dramatically squinted one eye and cocked my revolver. “And!” I said “And I’ll be an only child so just you two think about THAT.”
That shut the two of them up for a bit but then for good measure, I growled a bit. Both of them thought better of wise-mouthing me and I suspect they knew I was right. Hoss was getting tired of Joe’s cackling and Joe was weary of all the sad sighing, anyhow. The last few miles we rode along pretty quiet and then I felt bad about threatening them with a gun and losing my temper so I promised them beers at the saloon and Happy Meals from McDonalds, our favorite Scottish restaurant for dinner as soon as we settled up with the naugas.
Joe said he would have a cheeseburger Happy Meal and some pulque and the cute gal in the drive thru window. Hoss said he would have 32 chicken McNuggets Happy Meals and a super-sized everything else. Hoss was a super-size type of a cowpoke. I had a charred burger on a toasted pumpernickel bun with poppy seeds and black coffee.
We all felt better after we ate and delivered the herd. I really like my brothers and wouldn’t want to shoot them.
“They say that some fellow in San Francisco shot old Stubby in a bad place,” a fellow customer added.
The bartender slid a beer to him. “Have a beer, Floyd. These boys here are the Cartwrights.”
“Ponderosa Cartwrights?” Floyd asked eyeing us three Cartwright brothers. He was an older man wearing a pencil thin moustache and sort of nerdy eyeglasses.
“Yes, sir,” said Hoss.
“From out Virginia City way,” Little Joe added. He downed another beer and winked. That boy had an unbelievable capacity for both beer and winking.
“I know your Pa. Cut his hair once, I did, when he was over to Mayberry dealing with the Sheriff over there.”
“Andy Taylor?” said Hoss. That brother of mine has a mind like a trap or a used car salesman when it comes to names. He can remember the names of all 45,987 naugas on the place and what breakfast cereals they like and their favorite music. Besides, Hoss remembered that the sheriff had this old aunt who made swell pies.
“Yep, Andy Taylor. Tell him that Floyd the Barber said hello,” the gent said.
“We sure will,” Hoss promised. He put his half-finished beer down on the bar.
“Finish what you were saying about that feller.” Little Joe picked up Hoss’ beer and finished it. Hoss didn’t even notice. Joe can drink like a fish and hardly even wobble. Sometimes I think that boy has a hollow leg but Hoss said that Little Joe just has a fast metabolism
“Your Pa has a memorable mane. Lovely silver gray, with shine and body like I have never seen this side of the Rockies,” Floyd sighed. “Never!”
Hoss took the opportunity to ask Floyd about what shampoo he could use to make his hair less tufty. “One week my hair is full and the next I look near bald. Could it be that bear grease I use?” Hoss questioned. Floyd gave him some suggestions and Hoss took notes on a coaster that had a picture of Miss Rheingold 1849 or Joe‘s mom.
“Where was I?” Floyd asked after he explained about blow drying and hot rollers.
“You were telling us about Stubby Squeaks and how he got his name,” I reminded the gent.
“He was shot in a bad place.”
I said, “A bad place? An alleyway?” Each of us had been shot in an alley, usually after flashing a roll of dough.
“Some waterfront saloon?” Hoss asked. He had once gone looking for Pa who had got shanghaied in a waterfront saloon.
“A flea bag hotel filled with floozies?” Joe was fond of floozies and floozies were fond of Joe.
“I didn’t mean that kind of bad place. A bad place on his person,” said the bartender.
“On his person?” The kid wasn’t sure what that meant but I knew immediately. After all, I had gone to college back east.
“What are you talkin’ about?” Hoss asked.
“On his body,” I explained to my brothers. “Stubby got shot in a bad place on his body.”
“Someone shot Stubby Squeaks in a bad place on his body?” Hoss asked, urging the bartender to continue the story.
“Yep. A mighty bad place. A really bad bad place. He and this feller, Jake Crankyanker, were partners in a mine. They made a deal to share everything fifty/fifty.”
“And?” I asked.
“Well, Peter took that fifty/fifty sharing to include Mrs. Crankyanker,” said the bartender. “Yup, shot his manhood clear off. Well, not clear off. A little stub was all that was left.”
“YIPES!” said Joe gagging on his beer.
Hoss clutched his crotch and swooned. He almost fainted dead away.
“And who is that feller over there?” Joe asked. He pointed to a man sitting alone in the corner drinking a beer.
“The educated looking one in the dark suit,” Hoss said.
“Oh, that is Doctor Dave. He’s new in town,” the barkeeper said. “Old Doc Gillespie weren’t too glad to see him come to Dustville.”
To me this town didn’t really look big enough to have one doctor, no less two. Then again, knowing how my brothers and me were sort of magnets for bullets and head whackings and such, it was a comforting thought to know there were a couple of physicians around.
“Why wasn’t the old doctor unhappy to have the new guy come to Dustville?” I asked. “Old guy challenged by the younger man’s education.”
“Nope,” said the comely saloon girl. She was tall and a real looker. “It was a morals thing. I was the one who knew Doctor Dave from before.”
“Oh?” Hoss blushed.
“Oh!” my kid brother Joe grinned. He put his arm around the saloon girl. Leave it to Little Joe to be in town ten minutes and have his arm around the prettiest gal in the place. “Tell me all the lurid details.”
“My name is Laverne. I knew Dave from Milwaukee. I worked in a brewery back there.”
“Shotz?” I raised my left eyebrow and named the famous brewery.
“Yeah,” said the gal. “Shotz. Me and my roomie Shirley put in our time in that place working like dogs in the bottle-capping department. Anyhow. We both knew Doctor Dave.”
“So, what was the problem?” I asked.
Laverne explained, “Doctor Dave had slept with one of his patients and felt guilty all day long. No matter how much he tried to forget about it, he couldn’t. He was a real good doctor but the guilt and sense of betrayal was overwhelming. But every once in a while, he’d hear this internal, voice that said, ‘Dave, don’t worry about it. You aren’t the first doctor to sleep with one of his patients and you won’t be the last.’ ”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” Hoss started. “I don’t know if’n that is a good idea.”
Laverne smiled at my big younger brother. “Well ain’t you a sweetie, Boo Boo Kitty!”
Hoss blushed again and said, “Thank you, Ma’am.”
Then she continued the story. “The voices said ‘And, you’re single, Doctor Dave. Just let it go’.”
“So how did he wind up in Dustville,” I asked signaling the bartender for another round.
“Well, Doc Dave kept on being a good doctor but invariably another voice would bring him back to reality, whispering……………whispering, whispering.”
“Whispering?” Little Joe whispered and tried to nibble on Laverne’s ear lobe.
“Yep, he kept sleeping with his patients but those voices brought Doctor Dave back to reality.” Laverne shook her head.
“What did the voices say, Miss Laverne?” Hoss asked.
Just then, the doctor tossed some coins on the table and walked outside. I could see through the front window that Doctor Dave walked up to the hitching rail humming a tune. Then I noticed him standing near our horses and patting my horse, Sport, on the flank. Sport is pretty high-spirited and doesn’t take to everyone but seemed to be taken with Doctor Dave and the tune he was humming.
“I asked what did the voices say, Miss Laverne?” Hoss repeated watching me watching the doctor rubbing Sports ears. Sport nickered like she had met an old friend.
“What did the voices say? The voices said…” Laverne shook her head and continued, “Dave — you’re a veterinarian…”
Little Joe choked on his beer and Hoss turned red.
“I better go check on my horse!” I said and rushed outside.