Summary: A tribute to Michael Landon on what would have been his 72nd birthday.
Word Count: 1,180
Lorne Greene looked on with mild interest at the drama unfolding below, but time was getting on and he really had other things to do.
“We can’t sit here all day,” Lorne said to his two companions, but in reality they paid no heed to his comments.
“Ain’t gonna happen,” Dan said with conviction, his big toothy grin stretching from ear to ear.
Mike looked at him sideways but was undeterred. “It will, just wait and see. We set the deadline at 7 o’clock and we still have five minutes to go. You haven’t won the bet yet.”
“Well, his guests are leaving, so I suppose it’s now or never,” Lorne chimed in. Then with a placating voice, he turned to Mike and said, “As the years go by, he’s bound to forget. Life moves on; that’s the way of things.”
Mike glared at him and stuck out his chin in the defiant way the others knew so well. “He won’t forget; he never forgets.”
Dan and Lorne looked at each other behind Mike’s back and shrugged their shoulders; Mike always was the stubborn one and he hated to be wrong.
Just then, a bell chimed in the distance and Dan stood up and stretched his long legs. “There’s the bell for supper,” he stated unnecessarily. “Can’t remember the last time I felt so hungry.”
Both Lorne and Mike burst out laughing at such a preposterous statement. “Try going back a couple of hours to lunch time, if you can think back that far.”
“Well, whenever it was, it doesn’t hide the fact that I’m hungry now. And much as I have nothing better to do than sit here watching other people lead their lives, I’m gonna move on in favor of my belly.”
“That means you forfeit the bet,” Mike challenged, looking up at the tall man standing at his side.
“No I’m not forfeiting anything,” Dan rebuked. “It’s almost 7 anyway.”
“But we still have three minutes to go,” Mike persisted. “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”
Dan patted his ample stomach and screwed up his face with annoyance. Much as he wanted to eat, he also wanted to win the bet…just this once.
When it boiled down to it, Dan was by far the most business astute of the three; he knew a good deal when he saw it, but when it came to downright craftiness and practical jokes, Mike Landon was a hard act to follow, as both Lorne and Dan had found out to their cost time and time again.
“I would wait…” Lorne glanced at his watch…“two minutes and twenty-three seconds if I was you. You know we won’t hear the end of it if you don’t.”
“Oh all right,” Dan conceded, sitting down next to the other two once more.
“He’s on his own now,” Mike whispered, the excitement showing in his face. “And look, he’s pouring a glass of wine; that’s always a good sign.”
The three men now watched with renewed interest as the old man below finished pouring his drink and settled into his favorite chair. Picking up a book from the table next to him, the man glanced briefly at the calendar on the wall, and as he did so, a knowing look flickered in his eyes and a familiar smile appeared on his weathered face.
Raising his glass above his head, he looked heavenwards and said in all sincerity “Happy Birthday, Mike, wherever you are.” As he finished speaking, the grandfather clock in the corner chimed seven.
Mike jumped to his feet and punched the air with a smug satisfaction. “I knew he wouldn’t forget! Pernell never forgets our birthdays.”
Dan’s smile broadened on his face; this was one bet he didn’t mind losing. “Got to admit you were right this time, but he is getting on, you know.” Then turning to Lorne he asked. “What age will he be now?”
Lorne’s eyebrows knitted together and he mentally counted the passing of the years. “Must be eighty at least,” he deduced. Then with a shake of his head he added. “Where have all the years gone?”
Mike showed more interest in the man below than the passing of time. “He’s lost a lot more hair,” he observed, focusing his eyes on the top of Pernell’s bald head. “Then again, he never had much anyway,” he added mischievously.
“Well, you know what they say about bald men,” Dan smirked, stroking his own bald head and winking at Lorne. “That’s why the ladies love them.”
Lorne Greene said nothing. Even after all these years, he didn’t like to be seen without his toupee; it shouldn’t really matter, but somehow it did.
“Ironic, isn’t it,” Lorne chuckled, changing the subject. “When we were all in Bonanza, I was never really old enough to play Pernell’s father, or Dan’s, for that matter, but now, theoretically, Pernell is older than me.”
They didn’t have much time to ponder this last statement before the supper bell sounded for a second time and all three men stood to their feet and headed towards the nearest restaurant.
“What do you plan doing tomorrow?” Mike asked, taking long strides in order to keep up with the other two.
“Thought I might go fishing,” Dan replied. “But for something different this time. In fact, I thought I might do a bit of shark fishing.”
“Yeah, why not,” Mike replied. “You can fish for whatever you want up here. I’m just pleased the Lord loves fishing, ‘cause think how boring it would have been if he’d been into flower arranging or dress making.”
Lorne shook his head and laughed. “Trust you to think of something like that.”
“Hey Dan,” Mike cackled as they walked along, suddenly remembering the previous conversation. “If Pernell’s now older than Lorne, and you were only 42 when you came here, I guess that makes you the kid from now on and not me.”
Without warning, Dan’s long arm shot out and his hand landed a sharp slap to the back of Mike’s head. “Don’t push your luck, Short Shanks; I can still whip you with one hand tied behind my back and don’t you forget it.”
“Boys, boys,” Lorne berated. “Do you think we could have just one meal without the usual carry on?”
“Yes Pa,” Mike and Dan chorused at once, before Dan’s hearty belly laugh and Mike’s distinctive cackle echoed throughout the heavenly air.
Down below, Pernell had switched on the television and was amused to find a rerun of Bonanza was in progress. “Ha….. Hayburner” he said with glee, “One of my favorites.”
Just then, Pernell thought he heard an unmistakable giggle fill the room and he flicked the remote control, silencing the television. For several seconds, he listened intently, but the night was silent. With a shake of his head, he switched the sound back on and settled down to enjoy the show ……it really must have been his imagination!!!