Head Examining on the High Sierra! (by Robin)

Summary:  A REALLY Lost Episode

Word Count:  2600



                                Head Examining on the High Sierra!


Ben sighed as he wiped the sweat off of Joe’s adorable brow, the tears off his cheek, and the tapioca pudding off his chin. His distraught son set on the settee setting and sighing about his broken heart. “I really really really really really really loved her, Pa!”

“Joe, remember what Adam’s grandfather, Captain Stoddard, said when my first wife, Elizabeth died?”

Joe’s lip trembled and he said “What did he say?”

“Captain Stoddard said don’t carry her in your kidney, but keep a little part of her in your…in your…. pancreas… no, that‘s not quite right. Let me try that again.” Ben hesitated. He was struggling to remember that catchy phrase he used each time one of his son’s had a sweetheart who bit the dust. “Don’t carry her on your shoulder but remember her in your memoirs?“

“Memoirs?” Joe asked. “Is that a French word for breast?”

“No, that’s not it.” Ben scratched his head. “I think the word you want is white meat.” He was worn out from this last bout with a son’s failed romance and confusing female anatomy with fried chicken parts. He was not as young as he used to be.

First the drought, then those cattle came down with Texas fever, and then that hoochie mama Lady Bea made a grab for Adam. There was a flash flood and Hoss dated the gambling woman and the blonde gal with consumption. After a bad winter, a never-ending batch of old friends with doomed daughters, gold digging daughters and manipulative daughters who played one brother against the other came for visits. They left after breaking his sons’ hearts and with all the good monogrammed bath towels. That was a real pain in the patootie when you took a bath on a cold night in that copper tub.

 Just when Ben Cartwright thought things couldn’t get any better, Hoss had two teeth knocked out in a fight, Adam got a sinus infection and Joe fell for a wacko gypsy, Tirza.

“Oh Pa!” Joe sighed. “Oh Pa!! She‘s gone!”

“Oh Joe!” Ben sighed in turn. He pretended to be truly sympathetic that the romance between Tirza and Joe was over. “I wish there was something I could do to help you, son.”

The door swung open and Adam strode in.

“I did my best, Pa,” Adam said as he put the rifle back in the massive (like himself) rifle case. “It was cold and windy up on that roof, and my sinuses were pounding but I know Little Joe needed me.”

“Thanks, Adam!” Ben said appreciatively. “You are a fine son and a mighty fine shot! The sharpshooter on the grassy knoll in couldn‘t have done better.”

“I was on the rifle team at Back East U, Pa,” Adam modestly bragged. “And I would do anything for my baby brother.”

“Oh Pa! Oh Adam!” Joe sighed from the settee. Tears rolled down his cheeks. “Oh Pa!! Oh Adam! She is gone!”

“He’s depressed, Pa,” Adam whispered.

Ben nodded. “I sent Hoss to fetch the doctor.”

“Sad, isn’t it?” Adam feigned sympathy for Joe. Pa had told him to go along with the charade. If they couldn’t snap Joe out of his depression, they would have to work double-hard to get the hay in before hay season was over. Adam was not thrilled with this prospect as hay aggravated his migraines. He was the only Cartwright in twelve generations who had never been seduced in the hay stack for that very reason. “It is very sad!”

“Sad, but not as sad as having an insane gypsy marry your brother and come to live here on the Ponderosa!” Ben reminded Adam. “Thanks to your crack aim, we won’t have to deal with that.”

“Or have our Little Joe become a gypsy prince and ride off with Tirza!” Adam added.

“You sit with Joe, son. I have ledgers to work!” Ben grinned and rushed across the room to his desk. He always claimed to be doing the ledgers but that was just an excuse for him to attend to other personal tasks.

The front door swung open and Hoss Cartwright strode in trailed by a small man with a neatly trimmed beard. Hoss was carrying the visitor’s Louis Vuitton trunk in one hand.

“Hey Pa! Doc Sigmund Freud jest got off the Virginia City stage from Vienna. He’s ready to examine Little Joe’s head!” Hoss rushed into the house.

“Who?” Ben said preoccupied with the wording of the personal ad he was planning to run in the Enterprise. “Silver haired cattle baron, single dad, enjoys walks by the lake… romantic walks by the lake. BEHOLD! Feast thine eyes on this silver haired cattle baron…”

“Doc Martin said he might help all of us!” Adam reminded his father.

“Be with you in a minute!” Ben hollered as he shoved his rough draft of the ad in his desk drawer.

“Oh Hoss, Oh Pa! Oh Adam!” Joe sighed.

“Give it a rest, Little Joe. We got company from Vienna!” Hoss said.

“OK!” Joe smiled. He hoped it was a pretty Viennese girl who could make him forget Tirza before she left or died or whatever.

“I love your settee!” said Sigmund, admiring the décor of the log ranch house. He pulled out his note book and made note of getting a settee for his psychotherapist office in Vienna. It would be a wonderful thing for his patients to lie down and tell him their problems. He could sit just out of their eye’s view and none of them would see him stifling giggles at some of the stupid things they said. Just last week Mrs. Einstein was griping about her waltz partner and how he waxed his moustache and that her husband was always busy working. He couldn’t help but laugh at her whining and the woman got insulted and stomped out of his office. He decided he would have the settee covered in leather instead of the sissy fabric these cowboys used. “Thank you for having me, Mr. Cartwright.”

“Thank you for coming all this way, Doctor Freud,” Ben Cartwright said, warmly shaking hands with the visitor. “Little Joe, stand up and let the doctor set on the settee.”

“Joe’s mother, Marie, selected this settee for us to set on before she died,” Adam explained as he shoved Little Joe to his feet.

“Shake hands with the doctor, Little Joe,” Hoss urged.

Joe shook hands with the visitor and pulled Freud’s hanky from his breast pocket and blew his nose with it.

“How unsettling!” Doctor Freud remarked, then he shook hands with morose Little Joe and then with each of his brothers and finally with Ben Cartwright.

“And sad!” Hoss said, taking the hanky from Joe. He blew his own nose in it and handed it back to Adam. Adam blew his nose and handed the handkerchief to the doctor.

Freud grimaced and wondered what he should do with the used handkerchief.

“Now, tell me about your mothers!” Freud demanded of each of the boys. He put the hanky under the settee cushion.

“My Mama! She’s dead,” sighed Little Joe. A tear trickled down his cheek.

“My Mama! She’s dead,” sighed Hoss.

“My Mama! She’s dead,” sighed Adam.

“Hmmmmmm… all of them dead” said Doc Freud.

“And we all want to marry women just like our mothers!” the three said in unison.

“And I am getting older and older and have no grandchildren!” Ben sighed.

“This might be an entire chapter in my new book ‘Head Examining on the High Sierra’!” Freud said. He reached under the settee cushion and handed Ben Cartwright the used hanky.

Joe plopped his tiny adorable tushie back down on the red satin striped settee next to where Adam was sitting. Simultaneously, each brother stretched out his legs and put his booted feet on the coffee table.

Thunk, thunk.

“JOSEPH! Take your feet off the furniture!” Ben roared. “NOW!”

“Yes, sir!“ Joe immediately swung his feet on to the pine floor.


Adam snickered and remained in his original position, feet on table. Then he started to pick his teeth with the tip of his Swiss Army knife. He winked at Hoss who winked back. Hoss picked his teeth with the fire place poker. Adam was his role model for good manners.

“Vell, Little Joe, how did you feel about your father not reprimanding your older brother for the same behavior you engaged in?” Sigmund asked the youngest Cartwright.

“Huh?” Joe said. He didn’t quite follow what the bearded doctor asked. He had been day dreaming about rolling down a hill with Tirza the gypsy and how much whoopie fun they had on the moonlit rock of LOVE.

“Don’t be afraid, Joseph. Speak up vhat effer is on your mind. Anyting,” Freud urged.


“Anything,” Doctor Freud encouraged. “Just express what you were thinking about.”

Well,” Joe winked and grinned and shivered like an excited puppy. “I was thinking about this gal I was once engaged to for about 37 hours and how her petticoats looked as they flew over her head. She never wore undies and neither do I!” Joe leaned back on the settee and put his feet on the coffee table again. “She wore an orange skirt that was the same color as the formica in the Brady Bunch’s kitchen, Doc.”

“Hop Sing used to date Alice, their cook,” Hoss explained. “That’s how come we know about their formica color palette.”

“JOSEPH!” Ben roared. “Take your feet off the furniture!”

Joe was startled and fell over onto the floor with a crash.

Hoss and Adam laughed hysterically. “HAR HAR HAR!”

“You ok?” Hoss said as he picked Joe up by the back of his collar and plopped him back on the settee.

“Set back here on the settee!” Adam said, putting his feet back on the table.

Hoss put his feet next to Adam‘s.

“Ok.” Joe started to put his feet on the table but put them back down when his father glared at him. “Doc! What did Adam mean when he told me to get a butterfly net when Hoss was seeing little green men?”

“Boy, Joe! You sure are a funny guy!” Hoss said quickly.

Adam chuckled. He lifted his feet in the air, caught the full bowl of apples with the toe of his boot and flipped it to Hoss. Then Adam leaned back in his seat and put his feet on the coffee table with a loud thud.

The five men sat eyeing each other for the next fifteen minutes as the fire crackled in the fireplace. Freud sat back in the blue velvet chair, waiting for his patients to say something.

Ben was beginning to feel very annoyed with this entire thing. Joe started thinking about Tirza and Connie McKee and Marilyn Monroe. He wondered who would win in mud wrestling.

Adam mentally tried to figure the square root of 10,347, the number of acres of land on the Ponderosa. Then he mentally translated Macbeth into pig Latin. He was very self-amusing, a skill he learned as a child on the road west.

Hoss nibbled an apple and pictured himself floating like a marshmallow in a steaming cup of Ovaltine as big as Lake Tahoe. “Hop Sing! Kin we have some Ovaltine?” he called.

Hop Sing quickly prepared some Ovaltine and served it to the five men.

“Vell, vell. That was lovely.” Sigmund Freud put down his empty cup on the little end table near the bronze rearing horse statue that Ben had purchased at TarJay. He sat back and lit his cigar. As a good Freudian psychotherapist, he always let his silences allow the patients to fill the dead air with their inner thoughts. “And what do you think about all this?”

“About this?” Ben lit his pipe and blew a smoke ring. “What about this should I think?”

Never to be out done, Freud blew two smoke rings and looked at Ben.

Ben blew a puff of smoke that pierced Siggy’s smoke ring.

“Hmmmmm, very phallic!” said Doctor Freud in his most Freudian manner.

“Is it?” Ben glared at the doctor. “I think this is all fancy mumbo jumbo!”

“Do you? Is this a competition, Mr., Cartwright? What do you think? Do you really thing this is mumbo jumbo?”

Ben put his hand on his holstered gun growled, scaring Sigmund into heart palpitations. “I do. And what are you going to do about it!”

Siggy swallowed his cigar, then downed another cup of Ovaltine. “Aha!”

“Well, sometimes a cigar is jest a cigar!” Hoss proposed with a grin as smoke came out of Sigmund Freud‘s ears.

“Hmmmm! That is a vonderful saying, Hoss!” Doctor Freud pulled out a leather bound notebook and wrote down the statement. “Mind if I use it?”

“Feel free! Want some more Ovaltine?”

“I’d be delighted!” The doctor accepted the cup of steaming hot Ovaltine.

It’s still hot,” Hop Sing offered. He poured another round of refreshments for the therapist, and the Cartwrights. Then he went back to the kitchen. It was almost time for “Oprah” to begin and Hop Sing loved to watch that show while he made supper.

“And tell me about your childhoods. Did you have any transitional objects?”

“Transitional objects?” Joe asked, dunking his Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookie into the Ovaltine. To keep his tongue limber, Joe licked the drops of Ovaltine from the softened cookie and sucked it dry.

“Security objects are items, usually soft and easily held or carried, that offer a young child comfort. They also are referred to as transitional objects, substitute objects, cuddlies, soothers, “loveys,” and security blankets,” said Sigmund.

“Sorta like that lady’s garter that Pa keeps under his pillow?” Adam winked.

Ben glared at him. “That is not a garter; that is the cinch for Buck’s old saddle that I keep meaning to have repaired.”

“Is it?” Freud asked in a Freudian way.

“Sure, Pa, whatever you say.” Adam nudged Joe who nudged Hoss who almost spilled his Ovaltine.

Joe insisted it was his mother’s garter. “That garter was my dead mama’s!” he told Doctor Freud.

“It isn’t,” Ben shook his head.

“Then whose is it?” questioned his youngest son.

“Not your mother’s,” Adam pointed out.

“Adam, the garter has “MA” embroidered on it!” Joe pointed out. “It must have belonged to my Ma!”

Ben gently pointed out that the embroidery was the initials M. A. which stood for Magnificent Adah.

“Was she my Ma?” Little Joe asked hopefully.

Ben shook his head. “No, Little Joe. She wasn’t.”

“Was she Adam‘s?” Joe asked hopefully. He loved his oldest brother and hoped that if he couldn’t have a glamorous mom, at least Adam could.

Adam shook his head. “No, Little Joe. She wasn’t my mother.”

“I understand now! She was Hoss’ Ma!” Joe said. Maybe Hoss had a glamorous mom.

“No she weren’t.” Hoss shook his head.

“Enough about this!” Ben sputtered. “We were discussing transitional objects.”

Freud repeated, “Did you have any transitional objects?”

“Just our historically incorrect Teddy Bears. Adam’s was black velvet. He took it with him to Back East U. Mine, was soft and fuzzy and bought from my Grandfather Lingstrom’s store IKEA. And Joe had one made of green corduroy.”

Freud sighed. This family was going to take at least 14 years of therapy…one hour at a time.


The End



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