Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 1400
Autumn on the Ponderosa
Thanks to Lillian and Ginny for all their inspiration!
Let’s remember that famous tragic, heart-rending Bonanza scene where Joe, upset because he had a mysterious rash on his man parts after dating Julia Bullette, went to his mother’s grave and wept copious tears and said “OH! Mummy, mummy, MUM! What can I dooooOOOo? I fell for a gal who reminded me of you, and now she is dead, dead, dead too too too.”
Where each tear fell, a chrysanthemum grew — a chrysanthemum because it was autumn on the Ponderosa. It didn’t help Joe’s itchy rash but it sure made Marie’s grave look pretty nice for the next few months, even after snow fell, as Mom’s mums were sturdy and could stand up to frost.
HGTV’s “Grave Decor” said “The mums gave Mom’s grave curb appeal!”
But ALAS! Joe was morose.
“Garsh, Adam. Joe is morose!” sighed Hoss. “What can we do? Turn that frown upside down?”
Adam sighed. Being morose was his territory, much as wearing black and getting the first bath and getting the drum stick on the Thanksgiving turkey and quoting Shakespeare.
Then Adam realized his brother had a problem that he had dealt with long before he went to Back East U — a problem that Hoss had dealt with when he played Not-Quite-Yet Invented football at Virginia City High — a problem that Ben had both as a sailor and head of the Virginia City Militia and wagon master and Cattle Baron, as well as when he was a bouncer at that tavern near Ikea and worked the drive-thru at Jack in the Box.
What was the problem?
As much as some fan fic writers think Adam thrived on torturing Joe that was not absolutely, positively, thoroughly, completely NOT true. Adam loved Joe. Joe loved Adam. Adam loved Hoss. Hoss loved Adam. Hoss loved Joe. Joe loved Hoss. They all really loved each other and Ben loved all his sons.
They were a loving yet manly family.
Adam was very protective of Joe as well as of his own personal title as Adam, the morose Cartwright who wore black. If Joe was being morose, Adam had to shove Joe back into his own character of Joe, the hot-blooded, hot-tempered youngest brother.
With this in mind, Adam rode into town and went to Mr. Tarjay’s mercantile and bought Joe a big tube of Tinactin and some fresh 100% cotton boxers. Adam knew this would solve Joe’s problem and un-morose him.
And since it was this time of the year — Autumn — both Hanes and Fruit of the Loom had a huge sale, (buy three packages, get one free). So being a thrifty Cartwright, which he had learned as a five- second-old infant from his soon-to-be-dead thrifty yet doomed New England Mama — Elizabeth Stoddard Cartwright — Adam bought a package of black boxers for himself, a package of 5x for Hoss, and a package of green corduroy boxers for Joe, and some conservative Cattle Baron with extra stretch for Pa.
Ben would be very proud of how thoughtful Adam was, and thrifty too
Adam quickly completed his purchases of the Fruit of the Loom boxers and the over-the-counter jock itch ointment at Tarjay.
“Hmm….jock itch ointment.” The extremely dimwitted yet attractive young female clerk, Prema Churdeath, curled her perky nose.
“It’s not for me. It’s for my younger, itchier brother, Joe.” Adam blushed. He did NOT want the clerk to think HE could possibly be in need of this product. It was almost as embarrassing as when whiney Laura Dayton sent him into town to purchase not-yet-invented feminine hygiene products when they were engaged.
That errand was more horrifying than dragging dead Kane across the desert or pulling that bullet out of his beloved brother while obnoxious Sheila Reagan whined and complained and her tubercular father swilled Ben’s best brandy. It was more horrifying than being kidnapped twice or three times in one season in the Paiute War and by Everett Sloan, who was a pervy sheep herder. It was more horrifying than taking a dunking in both the horse trough in the opening of “Toy Soldier” and in the lake in “Woman of Fire”, and making sure his hair didn’t get mussed or float away.
Prema Churdeath sighed with relief. “Swell!” The clerk said, “Is that not-yet-invented credit, not-yet-invented debit, or cash?”
Adam leaned on the counter and smiled, flashing his dimple, and said “What do you think?”
The clerk smiled and took Adam’s silver dollars and clunked them into the cash register.
“Have a good one!” she said politically correctly and handed Adam his package.
Ten minutes later, Adam had galloped the 35 miles from down town Virginia City to the Ponderosa.
“Where have you been, son?” Ben Cartwright asked as he quickly finished marking his brandy bottle with a not-yet-invented Sharpie marker. He was sure someone had been drinking the good stuff when he was out of the house being a cattle baron. Could it have been that tubercular guy with the bug eyed daughter who complained continually? Or was it that wacky inventor Hoss had dragged home a week ago. What was his name? The kid he had with him claimed his name was Clint Eastwood. Ben took a swig of the brandy.
“Doc Brown!” Ben bellowed. “That was that weirdo’s name! Bet he and that kid took some of my brandy!” His voice echoed off the walls of the dining room and made the bull horns hanging over the fire place vibrate like a tuning fork.
Adam strolled in the front door, secure that he was going to gain back his title of “most morose” in the family.
“Where have you been, son?” Ben Cartwright asked again.
“Been to town. Almost got run over by a not-yet-invented De Lauren as I came round the bend from the courthouse that was also the set for the Carson City Mint and the blind school in Little House, but it disappeared in flash,” Adam said plopping the parcel from Tarjay’s on the dining room table. “Poof!”
“And what made you go into town, son?”
“Been helping out your youngest son.”
(Now at this point, dear reader, you wonder what this story has to do with Ginny and Lillian. Well, Ginny had purchased some mums and it got me thinking and writing and writing and thinking.
What about Lillian? Just keep reading!)
Ben raised his right eyebrow. “Joseph?” He sincerely hoped that Little Joe was his youngest but you never know who might show up from his varied romantic flings that occurred during cattle baron conventions, class reunions, not-yet-invented online dating sites and all those gals who left town to “think things over” when one of the Cartwrights “accidentally” killed one of the gal’s family.
“Of course, Joe!” Adam raised his own right eyebrow. Had Pa been chugging that brandy again?
Ben smiled nervously. “Who else?”
“WHOM else!” Adam said showing off his education. “Joe, of course!”
“Of course!” Ben breathed a sigh of relief. “What’s in the bag?” He pointed at the Tarjay package.
“Something for Joe! Voila! ” Adam said showing off the French he learned from his brief yet passionate fling he had when he was an intern on not-yet-invented Public Television with TV chef Julia Child. “I got that boy some medicine for his…problem. And some new boxers.”
“BOXERS! Hey! I don’t want you boys getting involved with any boxers again. No more fights with Benicia Boy, the Duke, John Regan, that guy from Philadelphia!”
“Not Ben Franklin! Rocky! No boxers!”
“No boxers, Pa. No briefs either.” Adam chuckled. “Under drawers! Fruit of the Loom was on sale.”
“Fruit of the Loom?” Ben gasped.
“Yep, Fruit of the loom! “ Adam spread the four packages of undies out like a winning poker hand.
“Fruit of the Loom!” A tear trickled out of Ben’s eye. “Grapes…”
The colorful label on the Fruit of the Loom package made Ben Cartwright think of grapes and grapes made Ben think of Joyce Edwards and picking grapes. And that made him think of Lillian. “Sorry, son, I was temporarily morose!”
Adam sighed. “Pa, you promised! I could be the morose one!”
And indeed he was.