Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 3100
“Pa, Hoss, Arnold! We just got a letter from Adam!” Joe Cartwright hollered. His brother Adam had been gone for a long time, officially since the end of season six. Joe took off his hat and scratched his poofy hair. Now that he thought about it, Adam had really been gone longer, around the time cousin Zorro took off with Laura “Eeeeeeeeeeew” Dayton. Adam sort of didn’t have his heart in the Ponderosa anymore. He lingered around in the background of the action looking pale and wan and miserable and all twisted up inside.
“A letter from Adam!” Joe shouted again waving the envelope in the air.
“A letter from my beloved first born!” shouted Ben. “This must be my lucky day!”
“Hooray! What did Adam say?” Hoss asked running out of the barn carrying Chubb on his shoulders. Chubb had recently hurt his thigh dancing the hokey pokey at the barn dance with Buttermilk, Dale Evan‘s seductive Palomino. Hoss decided the horse needed to stay off his hooves.
“Oink!” shouted Arnold Ziffel the newly hired hand who happened to be a pig. Since Adam Cartwright had left the Ponderosa, the Cartwrights kept searching for a fourth cowboy for the opening “gallop out and grin at the camera but don’t look down at the name superimposed under you” shot. They also needed a fourth for bridge that they played each Tuesday afternoon. Roy Coffee had no time and his deputy Clem was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier and couldn’t keep the hearts and diamonds straight. Doc Martin had to leave the card party too frequently to deliver breech births or dig a bullet out of some passing guest star. At one point, Joe suggested bringing a female into the game as they were all “dying to play with the Cartwrights” but Ben told him that was a pretty sick joke. Finally Hoss, his usually kindly self, hired Arnold Ziffel to break horses and he joined the bridge game.
Everyone was happy, especially Hop Sing who kept serving Arnold high calorie snacks and surfing the internet for spare rib recipes.
“Adam met an old long lost college friend who is the son of one of Pa’s long lost sailing days friends, Shmeckie Longlost Jr.!” Ben announced as he read Adam’s letter. It smelled of Adam’s favorite cologne, Absolut.
“Who?” Hoss and Little Joe asked.
“Shmeckie Longlost Jr. The first born son of Shmeckie Longlost!“ Ben smiled at the memory of his long lost friend. “He was the captain of the row boat rentals in Central Park. We saved each other from mugging in Times Square while we were peeping in the windows of the “Good Morning America” studio. I was holding up signs saying ‘Yahoo! I am a lonely sailor boy who is Nevada bound.”
“Gee, Pa, you never told us about that,” Hoss remarked. “I sure love that Dianne Sawyer. She is one purty filly.”
“It was Joan Lunden back then, son,” Ben corrected.
“Mmmm…Joan Lunden!” Joe sighed.
“What did Adam have to say in his letter?“ Hoss asked.
“He is going back to Gary Coleman’s homeland to join the pygmies!” Ben read. “He sure goes to mighty exotic places! The schooner sails at daybreak.”
“Oink!” said the new Ponderosa foreman, Arnold Ziffel. Although he had never met Adam Cartwright, he had heard lots about him. “Oink Oink!”
Arnold knew that Joe had given Deputy Clem some of Adam’s discarded clothes from season one when Hoss accidentally burned the deputy’s suit with some fire crackers he had ordered from the Yippee Trading Company. Hoss had hoped to receive a mail order bride again, but only got what he ordered, this time. Ben shook his head and tried to explain statistical probability to Hoss but had no luck in the least. Adam was so good at making complex mathematical theory so easy to understand. Why, that boy kept them all enthralled reciting the Pythagorean Formula and doing quadratic equations while playing his guitar. He used apple pies to demonstrate bisecting angles on cold winter nights. Ben really missed Adam. They all did…especially the audience.
“How is that boy doing? Maybe he wants us to send some of LITTLE Joe’s teeny tiny clothes for them teeny tiny pygmies! Har har har!” Hoss teased. “You sure have a lot of little teeny tiny green corduroy jackets and teeny tiny taupe shirts.”
Joe adjusted his tight tan pants immodestly so that the camera angle showed his ASSets. “Too bad he didn’t hook up with CANNIBALS and ask for you to come for a visit!” Joe poked his chubby brother in his chubby pishtanyikas.
“Too bad Adam didn’t ask for us to mail him his guitar,” Ben sighed. He was awfully tired of wandering house guests plunking at Adam’s abandoned instrument while Ben explained to the audience that his oldest son was “somewhere or other and we miss his guitar playing.” It was a total pain in the saddle each time one of those hooligans got the thing out of tune or tried to swipe it. The worst one was that off-key calypso folk singer who sang some paranoid song about Ben being responsible for the boy’s moron father being lynched. The kid sang like a rusty hinge and even tried to get on American Bandstand.
Once Ben had to send Joe Cartwright, boy Detective, and his pig pal Arnold out to retrieve the guitar when Circus Boy left with it. Circus Boy claimed he was starting a musical group called the Monkees. He also stole Hoss’s wooly Heinrich hat for one of the band boys too. Ben knew they would be flops as they all needed hair cuts and looked like sissy riverboat gamblers.
“I am going back inside to drink coffee and gaze longingly and sentimentally at the pictures of my dead wives,” Ben sighed morosely. “If I am lucky, I can make a single tear trickle down my manly cheek.”
“I always pluck on a nose hair to get a cryin’, Pa,” Joe suggested. Joe cried great. He was considering giving crying lessons in the off-season in Walnut Grove.
“I think of Little Joe wasting grub with his food sculptures. That sure makes me tear up,” Hoss advised.
“Oink!” said Arnold.
Ben missed Adam very much. He was neat, clean, thrifty, reverent, loyal and brave too. He always remembered to replace the toilet paper in the out house, unlike his brothers. Adam never drank from the milk container like Hoss or dated women who wound up impaled on barn implements like Joe. Most of Adam’s romantic leads just left for some sort of non-mainstream higher religious calling.
When Adam wasn’t being depressed or acting dejected or spouting Shakespeare, he was pretty handy to have around. He made huge working projects from his Tinker Toys and Leggos, chewing gum and empty rolls from the out house toilet paper. The best ones were the combination windmill and chicken rotisserie he made for Hop Sing and the turn table for the revolving upstairs bedroom.
Adam was always bringing murders, crooks, and sullen criminals around for dinner. Often, the murderers, crooks, and sullen criminals were musical. Adam and the misfit would sing jolly duets and play dueling banjos. The boy had a talent for trying to reform the un-reformable wretches and invariably had to shoot his friends dead in “self defense” or play the guitar at the buddy’s hanging or both. It certainly livened up dinner table conversation.
Now that Adam was gone, Ben had to satisfy himself with watching Hoss gobble down everything in sight, including the wax fruit center piece and the place mats as well as the leg on one of the chairs, or watch Little Joe mold highly realistic naked ladies from his mashed potatoes and explain the Kama Sutra in terms Hoss could understand and the NBC censors would accept. It was amazing what that boy could do with radishes and a carrot and a few cherry tomatoes. His rendition of Julia Bullette was remarkable and had not Hoss gobbled it up, Ben would have entered it in the Virginia City Art Festival or at least married it. If they weren’t so shorthanded with Adam gone, Ben would have encouraged Joe to go to culinary school or become a plastic surgeon or even a moehl.
Ben was very proud of all his talented sons.
“I’ll see you boys at supper,” Ben sighed as he went inside.
Arnold said “Oink” and Ben hoped that the pig was dining in the bunk house as he made Hoss’s table manners look down right elegant by comparison though the pig did tell good anecdotes.
“Mmmmm! Supper!” drooled Hoss. “Hop Sing is making Australian food tonight!”
“Here, read all about it,” Joe said, tossing the letter to Hoss like a postal Frisbee. Hoss leaped into the air like an agile golden retriever to snag the letter in his teeth. Unfortunately, the huge cowboy forgot he had Chubb draped around his neck, took a bad step and tumbled head first into the papier mache boulder next to the wooden tub holding the ever blooming artificial tropical camellias.
Joe and Arnold had already rounded the side of the barn and missed seeing Hoss’s huge head thud into the boulder. Hoss was knocked cold and no one knew except Chubb. Poor Chubb landed in a heap knocking down Hop Sing’s clothes line which was filled with five thousand matching pairs of Joe’s tan pants, Hoss’s mammoth beige shirts, Ben’s earth toned shirts and his pink satin lapelled robe and one blue dress left behind by a departing female guest star. Poor Chubb was dismayed and whinnied loudly. The clothes line teetered and all the clean wash fell to the dusty ground.
The only one who heard Chubb’s whinny for assistance was Cochise. Coochie finished his cup of coffee and alerted Buck and Mister Ed. Buck was in a rush to get to his second job as Marshal Dillon’s horse over in Kansas. Ed, who was visiting his old pal, unemployed Sport, picked up the barn phone and called 911.
“Hello, this is Mr. Ed. Please send Doc Martin and the Virginia City EMTs out to the Ponderosa. We have an injured man here.”
“Not again!?!?!” said the voice on the phone. “One of those Cartwrights got bushwhacked again?”
“No, ma’am,” said Mr. Ed.
“Someone get an arrow in their armpit?”
“No, ma’am,” said Mr. Ed.
“One of the hands you never saw before get shot by a guest villain while the poor lout was wordlessly carrying a load of fire wood into the house?”
“No, ma’am,” said Mr. Ed.
“Did Joe try to amputate his own arm again with kitchen utensils? Is he shirtless and bleeding on the settee?” The operator panted hopefully. She would rush right out herself if that was the case. She loved shirtless, sweaty Joe.
“No, ma’am,” said Mr. Ed.
“Someone have a bullet wound in the back from a back shooter?”
“No, ma’am said Mr. Ed.
“Ben has gout? Tennis elbow? Laryngitis? Cramps? MSG poisoning? ”
“No, ma’am,” said Mr. Ed.
“Someone take a fall from the staircase and smash the banister as they plummeted to the floor below?”
No, ma’am,” said Mr. Ed. “Hoss bashed his head on the papier mache boulder. He is out cold.”
“Not again!! Oh my goodness gracious!” exclaimed the 911 operator. “Don’t move him. Cover him with a tarp or a drop cloth or that red Indian blanket on the railing or something and we will have someone out there as soon as Doc finishes removing an anvil from Wiley Coyote’s head. And remember, keep calm. The last time Hoss had a head injury, he thought his name was Heinrich and he wore that moronic knitted cap.”
Joe, who adored all his brothers, was oblivious to the accident and his injured beloved brother as he headed out to the northwest southeast pasture with his foreman Arnold Ziffel. Joe was not riding Cochise (a sure sign that the guest star horse would die or Joe would be captured and de-horsed and no sharp eyed viewer could complain later about how he was reunited with Cochise after he wandered through the desert or was held hostage by nasty guest stars.)
Little Joe and the humanoid pig had met by way of Zsa Zsa, the gypsy queen, who introduced the Cartwrights to her sister Eva (aka Lisa Douglass) and brother-in-law Oliver Wendell Douglass over in Hooterville (home of the voluptuous gals who swam in the water tank). Joe was really hoping to hook up with his former gypsy hot date, Tirza, but he satisfied his needs for something soft and warm by simultaneously dating those Hooterville honeys Billie, Bobbie, and Betty who enjoyed his company so much they added “Jo” to their names. (By the way, did you ever wonder about the name of that town? HOOTERville? …how subtle.)
That town later opened a chain of lecherous chicken wing restaurants catering to beer bellied men who objectified woman and loved high cholesterol foods and watching spectator sports on TV.
“Oink Oink!” said Arnold, urging Joe to get moving. Joe may have been a slug-a-bed but Arnold had work to do. As his father (Arnold’s not Joe’s) once said, “You can bring home the bacon and fry it in the pan but don’t let them forget you are really a man or you will be bacon, pork chops and a football by sundown.”
They had lots of chores to do out on the Ponderosa before Hoss’s premier in as Don Carlos in “Carman” that night. The Virginia City Stuffy Snooty Ladies Art Guild, in an attempt to counteract the influence of the newly opened Hooter’s restaurant, was mounting a series of cultural experiences. Originally they had wanted Ricky Ricardo to play Don Carlos but he unavailable as he was playing at the Club Babaloo in NYC. They had asked Wayne Newton, but he had a commitment in Vegas opening for Jack Benny. They finally had to settle for local talent and Hoss was cast as Don Carlos. No female in town had the vocal range to play Carman, so in a bit of off beat casting, Sheriff Roy Coffee was playing the role. The Art Guild Ladies hoped that he would shave his moustache but Roy refused. He said he would hide his upper lip with his mantilla and look coy behind a fan.
Chapter 2 Religious Visions (with a tip of the hat to Bill Cosby)
“Hoss! Build an ark!” A deep voice woke Hoss Cartwright from his sleep…or so he thought
“Huh?” said Hoss rubbing his eyes. The room was dark and he heard a deep voice calling his name. He was really unconscious near the papier mache boulder.
Hoss: (looks up) Is someone calling me? (Shrugs and tries to roll over in his plaid flannel night gown that is big enough to use as a ground cloth for Yankee Stadium.)
God: Hoss Cartwright!!
Hoss: Who is that?
God: It’s the Lord, Hoss.
Hoss: Right … Where are ya? What do ya want? I’ve been mighty good, Lord.
God: I want you to build an ark.
Hoss: A narc? An undercover drug cop for Roy Coffee?
God: An ARK!! Not a narc
Hoss: Right … What’s an ark?
God: Get some wood
Hoss: Right … We got plenty of wood here on the Ponderosa.
God: And build it 300 cubits by 80 cubits by 40 cubits.
Hoss: What’s a cubit?
God: Well never mind, you big dope. Ask Abigail Jones the school teacher! Don’t worry about that right now. After you build the ark, I want you to go out into the world and collect all the animals of the world, two by two, male and female, and put them into the ark.
Hoss: Right … Who is this really? What’s going on? How come you want me to do all these loco things?
God: I’m going to destroy the world.
Hoss: Right … Adam? Joe? Are you fellas funning’ me? You pulling a prank again, Little Joe? Adam, you still mad at me from that Hayburner thing? Adam? Joe? Pa?
Chapter 3 Saved by the Love of a Family and a Pig
“Joe? Pa?” Hoss muttered. His eyes fluttered and then he opened them. He was lying in perfectly manicured clean dirt next to the horse trough, his lumpy head cradled on Pa’s lap.
“OinK!” smiled Arnold, glad that Hoss was regaining consciousness. Arnold stepped back and let the Cartwrights have their weekly “awwwww” moment: Handsome manly men shedding tears and hugging in a perfectly hunky way with the music playing a sentimental them on a French horn or cello…or both. The wonderfully clever humanoid pig had pulled “Head Injuries For Dummies” out of the back of the book shelf in Adam’s old room and attended to Hoss’s bashed cranium. A few love notes from Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor to Adam in Back East College and some incriminating pictures of a young Victoria Barkley as well as a package of very stale Pepperidge Farm Tahoe Cookies tumbled on to the floor. Arnold ate the cookies and shoved the rest back on the shelf behind the pseudo leather bound copies of Readers Digest Condensed Books.
“He seems to be coming around,” Ben sighed with relief and pinched Hoss’s chubby cheek. “I wub you, Hossie Wossie!”
“I wub you, Pa!” Hoss wept glad that he didn’t have to build an ark.
“Thank goodness!” Joe wiped a tear from his eye and hitched up his tight tan cowboy pants. “With Adam gone, it is bad enough that me and Hoss are taking on his chores. If Hoss were in a coma or worse, it would mean just me and Pa doing all the work on this gazillion acre ranch… and Pa don‘t really have the zippity do dah do that he used to have.”
“I’m ok!” Hoss grinned Hoss-like. Ben kissed his lumpy forehead.
“Thank HEAVEN and THANK Arnold!” Ben and Little Joe said in unison.
“Aw shucks, Pa. It was only a teeny little fractured skull. You know us Cartwrights got hard heads.”
“Thank heavens!” Ben and Joe said in unison again as the music repeated the sentimental refrain. “And Arnold too!”
“Thanks to Arnold!” Hop Sing declared. He had changed his dinner menu from spark ribs and pork loin to Hoss’s favorite calamari ala Rossi and tortellini.