Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 1150
The Dead Mule Story
Ben Cartwright and his sons were on the wide prairie driving their cattle, plethers and naugas to market. (Editor’s note: hides from plethers and naugas are used to make the seats in Chevrolets and Laz-e-boy Loungers)
It was a hard, dirty job even for manly cowboys like the Cartwrights. Hop Sing had stocked the chuck wagon with basins of yummy suppers in Tupperware for them to reheat in the campfire and gone off to a Fung Shui seminar in Stockton.
Even though Ben Cartwright was a gazillionaire with the world’s largest ranch, he had virtually no hands working on the Ponderosa and it was up to him and his boys to do all the work. Occasionally they would hire a worker or two, but that was only if it was an interesting guest star who fit into the stock costumes and would be killed or leave by the end of the episode. This way the stars were able to get larger salaries, the show still came in on budget and everyone got home for dinner.
The first night on the dusty trail, after dinner, Ben gathered his sons around him. “I want to tell you a story and hope you will learn from it, boys.”
The boys loved to hear their Pa tell them a good bedtime tale.
“Tell us Pa! Tell us!” The three cowboys grinned and cuddled up in their cowboichik matching plaid flannel nighties and quilts that served them well in the cold Nevada moonlight. They all thought women would serve them even better in terms of keeping them warm but that was a whole other issue. At least they had fluffy quilts and nighties and matching sleepy hats that made Adam, Hoss and Little Joe look like Snap, Crackle and Pop, and Pa look like Smee in Peter Pan.
“Did you wash, brush, pee and flush?” Ben asked as he tucked the boys into their quilts and fluffed up their saddles that they were using as pillows. Women would have made the night more cozy but that was a whole other story. They would discuss that off camera during the commercial break.
“Yes sir…all but the flushing. We are on the wide, wide, wide prairie Pa.” Hoss said as he took off his big white hat and placed it safely on his saddle bag. He didn’t trust it to be too close to his brothers as they often filled it with goopy horse poop while he slept and had a good laugh when Hoss got dressed in the morning.
”No flush toilets here…just bushes, trees and gopher holes for us to water,” Adam pointed out. “Maybe we should get windmill powered out houses…”
Ben rolled his eyes, “Adam sometimes you go to far with this windmill stuff, son. Did you boys make fart noises with your arm pits and polish your horses? “
“Sure did, Pa!” The all chorused and then made an armpit fart noise that echoed off the papier-mâché boulders.
“Did you boys spit and wipe your noses on your sleeves and say your prayers?”
“And being manly men, we did a fine job of it.” Joe grinned. “And you know what I prayed for Pa? A wagon train filled with gals!”
“Us too, Pa!” Hoss and Adam said nodding their heads like bobble headed dolls.
“Three wagon trains…at least one of those women should live long enough to give me at least one grandchild.” Ben nodded. “Keep prayin’, boys! Pray hard and long. Pray, boys, pray!”
Hoss checked the chuck wagon for the last of the milk and apple upside- down cake that Hop Sing had sent with them and sucked down the last smidge of lard and burped. Too bad he didn’t have a bit of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream to top it off.
Little Joe took one last look around to make sure there wasn’t possibly a cowgirls boarding school nearby or a runaway troop of girl scouts, or maybe his prayers were answered and a wagon train of pretty gals was just over the hill. He had prayed mighty hard, just as Pa had told him. The boys always did what their Pa told them to do.
“Story Time!” the Cartwright brothers demanded.
Ben sighed and started his story. “A city boy, Velvil, moved to the west and bought a mule from an old rancher for $100. The rancher agreed to deliver the mule the next day. The next day, the rancher drove up to Velvil’s ranch, the Circle V, in his buck board and said, “Sorry, but I have some bad news. The mule just up and died.”
“Well, then, just give me my money back!” said Velvil.
“Can’t do that. I went and spent it already,” the other rancher said.
“OK, then. Just unload the mule.”
“What ‘ya gonna do with him?”
“I’m going to raffle him off,” he answered.
“You can’t raffle off a dead mule!”
“Sure I can. Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he’s dead.”
A month later the rancher met up with the city boy and asked, “What happened with that dead mule?”
“I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a gross profit of $900.”
“Didn’t anyone complain?”
“Only the guy who won the dead mule. So I gave him his two dollars back.”
“This boy grew up to be a big rancher and owns that Enron ranch over near the canyon road,” Ben concluded. “The End.”
“That crooked Enron ranch that steals from widows and orphans and old folks?” Hoss gasped.
“That crooked Enron ranch that rustles cattle?” Adam added.
“The same dang Enrons!” Ben said with a nod. “They are worse than Martha Stewart!”
The boys silently looked into the crackling camp fire wishing the had a microwave oven to make some peep s’mores…. left over Marshmallow Easter chickies, Hershey bars and graham crackers nuked until they burbled. Roy Coffee made that recipe up. Doc Martin even used that molten peep stuff for a poultice when folks got shot or snake bit.
“Now, what do you make of this story boys? Ben looked at his sons. “What is the lesson we learned?” Ben was very didactic.
”Honesty is the best policy?” Hoss said sincerely.
“Be cautious about plans that are not exactingly investigated and well thought out?” Adam said. “And there is always a good story in any experience?”
“And you Joseph?” Ben looked expectantly at his youngest and most adorable son. “Do you have any questions?”
“Where do we get a mule?” smiled Little Joe. “And did that mule guy have a pretty daughter?”