Summary: A Really Lost Episode
Word Count: 3000
The Magician and the Pirate
The four thirsty Cartwrights were having hard-earned drinks in the Rusty Bucket. Ben was enjoying a well-mixed Brandy Squash, his favorite drink. Adam was sipping a glass of Rossi’s Vino de Ponderosa Blanc. Hoss was enjoying a frosty cold beer and Joe was sucking down a jug of pulque.
Just then, a pirate and a magician walked into the saloon.
“Well, would you look at them two?” Hoss observed. “Wonder if they think it’s Halloween,”
“Or perhaps Purim?” Adam wondered multiculturally.
He and his brothers celebrated the festive Jewish holiday with Rebecca and Aaron Kaufman. Everyone dressed in costumes and had a carnival and read the story of Esther from the Bible. Hoss particularly liked the traditional triangular hamentashen cakes filled with fruit filling and had devoured 18 dozen in one sitting. When Ben apologized for his middle boy’s enormous appetite, Aaron Kaufman said it was truly a Purim miracle, since most of them were filled with prunes and Hoss had no adverse reaction.
“Who do you think they are?” Hoss asked.
“It ain’t Halloween or Purim or even Mardi Gras which my dead Mama, Marie Mylove DeMarigny Cartwright adored,” said Little Joe reaching for his third jug of pulque. “Someday I’m going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and I’ll dress as the prince of the Ponderosa.”
Adam and Hoss rolled their eyes and shrugged. When Joe got to drinking pulque, he got sentimental and grandiose.
“Who do you think the pirate and the magician are?
“They are strangers to me.” Joe shrugged and swigged the last swallow of pulque. Had they been pretty gals, the brothers would have paid more attention, but a pirate with an eye patch, peg leg and hook hand and a magician in a top hat and red satin lined cape didn’t merit that sort of close attention.
Ben took a second look at the pair of strangers and suddenly recognized them. Ben Cartwright exclaimed, “My goodness! It’s my long lost old friends Pirate Pete & Max the Magician! “
Adam, Hoss and Joe groaned as it was the 43rd time that year that their father ran into long lost old friends…and it usually meant having to wear clean shirts to dinner and someone would wind up digging a bullet out of some part of their body.
“Pete! Max! These are my sons, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe,” Ben introduced his sons to his long lost old pals, the pirate and the magician.
Everyone shook hands all around and made polite but manly chitchat about how lucky Ben was to have not only the magnificent dream ranch but three such handsome, virile sons etcetera etcetera and so on and so forth, and wasn’t it a goldarn crying shame that all three of Ben’s wives had croaked but wasn’t he mighty lucky that, in addition to his three handsome cowboy sons, he didn’t even have to pay alimony.
For some reason, Joe shuddered at that prospect, imagining if he got married 3 times and had an entire flock of children. What might happen to his fortunes? Pa always said that truth is stranger than fiction. Or was that Tirza who said that?
Ben smiled proudly and explained to his sons how the Pirate Pete and Max the Magician were his pals back years ago when they sailed together.
Adam swiftly finished off the remainder of Ben’s whiskey squash and tossed Hoss the perky maraschino cherry that loitered lazily in the bottom of the glass. Joe gave him a dirty look as it really was his turn to sip the dregs of Pa’s drink.
“Hey!” Joe complained pulque-liciously.
“You got to be fast boy, quick,” Adam chided.
Hoss nodded as he flossed his teeth with the cherry stem, then spit in a nearby brass spittoon.
“Did you meet Pa on my grandfather Abel Stoddard’s ship before he married my beloved dead mother, Elizabeth Mylove Stoddard Cartwright?” Adam asked morosely.
“No,” said Max. “Your Pa and I were briefly were together on the crew of the Pacific Princess with Captain Merrill Stubing.”
All three Cartwright boys simultaneously lifted their left eyebrow. They had never heard of this chapter in their Pa’s youthful adventures. “REALLY!?!?”
“Ahhhhhhh, yes!” smiled Ben nostalgically, recalling the adventure. “The Pacific Princess!”
“Those were the days!” said Pete the Pirate and Max the Magician.
“Indeed!” smiled Ben Cartwright with a nostalgic sigh. “SIGH!”
“We never heard about Pa being on that ship,” said Hoss.
Joe nodded in agreement with Hoss and simultaneously shook his head indicating he had never ever heard this story. Joe was quite agile.
“Never?” said Pete with a sly grin.
“Never!” said Adam, who had the memory of a not-yet-invented Commodore 64 Computer.
“NEVER? Didn’t your Pa tell you how the three of us competed for the affections of the pert and perky Julie McCoy?”
“Never ever!” Hoss shook his head.
“Ben never ever told you about pert and perky Julie McCoy?” Pirate Pete’s one good eye widened in amazement.
“PERT AND PERKY JULIE McCOY!” Adam, Hoss and Joe grinned. “NEVER EVER!”
“Wowza!” said Max the Magician. ”Julie McCoy was HOT!” He put his index finger on top of the bar and hissed loudly as if he had touched a hot griddle. “Tttss ssssssssssssssssssssSSss!”
“HOT TttssssssssssssssssssssssSSss!!” The three boys nodded their heads like a chorus of “Bonanza Giveaway Bobble Heads”.
“We never heard THAT!” exclaimed Adam. The Cartwright boys loved to hear about HOT gals. The last story they heard about HOT gals was the tale Joe told about how he dated the Olsen Quadruplets – Mary Kate, Ashley, Nellie and Merlin. He took all four to the annual Barn Dance and Chicken Flicking. They were so hot that subsequently Doc Martin had to sit Joe in a tub of ice for three and a half days and lectured Joe on the dangerous of sparking four hot quads and how Merlin was rarely the name of a girl and the risks that might bring.
“Let’s have another round!” said Max, swinging a shiny red silk handkerchief over the bar. Suddenly six beers appeared. “TADA!”
“Hey, I haven’t seen you in quite a while. What happened, Pirate Pete? You look terrible!” Ben said, quickly changing the subject from Julie McCoy. It was far too sad as Julie McCoy had come to a tragic end (as did most of the women who got romantically involved with the Cartwrights) when she lost her perky spunk in a snow cloud and was washed away to oblivion and obscurity.
“What do you mean?” the pirate replied, “I’m fine.”
Ben said, “But what about that wooden leg?”
Pete took a swallow of his beer. “My wooden leg?”
“You didn’t have that before,” added Ben. He was carefully picking his words trying not to sound rude or politically incorrect.
“More drinks?” asked Cosmo the bartender who was coincidentally played by an actor named Cosmo.
“I’ll buy another round,” said Max the magician.
“Thanks!” chorused the Cartwrights politely and thirstily.
“TADA!” said Max, taking two quarters out of Hoss’ ear and paying for their five beers. “Keep the change, Cosmo!”
“Why thanks!” smiled Cosmo the bartender, wondering how the stranger knew his name and not realizing he had read the script of this week’s episode on the not-yet- invented internet. A dime tip would buy a lot in those days. He was saving up for a not-yet-invented Commodore 64 computer so he could be as smart as Adam Cartwright and play not-yet-invented pong when the saloon was slow on Sundays.
The magician swirled his colorful silk hanky over the bar and a dove appeared. “TADA!” Cosmo was impressed but hoped the bird wouldn’t poop in the saloon as it was enough work to empty the cuspidors.
“How did you lose your leg, Pete?” Hoss asked. He hoped the story wasn’t too gory as he was feeling a bit puny and queasy after devouring a bowl of what he had thought was fancy potato chips on the bar but later found out was potpourri that one of the saloon gals had placed their in an attempt to add class to the place. Now Hoss’ breath smelled of lavender and he feared his brother’s would tease him for smelling like a flower or the doomed French gal Fifi La Fleur that Adam had dated in episode 68, “Wilted Lavender Love”.
“Well,” said the pirate, “we were in a battle at sea with the Royal Viking Sky in the Gulf of Mexico… and a cannon ball hit my leg. But the surgeon, Doctor Adam Bricker, fixed me up, and I’m fine, really.”
Hoss wondered if his Mexican Viking Uncle Gunnar was involved in that melee but didn’t want to interrupt the story.
“But what about that…that metal…hook?” Ben asked eyeing Pete’s hook hand. The hook closely resembled the running iron that Ross Marquette had used to change the brand on Ponderosa cattle or the not-yet-invented electric curling iron that he secretly used to poof up his silver pompadour on damp days. Ben liked to look spiffy even when riding the range or burying dead gals or reading the script hidden inside his ledger or newspaper rather than memorizing the lines. “The last time I saw you, you had both hands,” said Ben, waving both his hands in the air like jazz hands.
Adam, Hoss, and Joe put down their beers and waved their hands in unison following Pa’s dynamic musical lead. They always followed Pa’s lead.
For the last month, the four Cartwrights were secretly rehearsing a jazzy dance number for the Virginia City Community Theatre production of the not-yet-invented musical “Chicago” with Roy Coffee in the Roxie Hart role. Deputy Clem Foster was his reluctant understudy. Adam was directing and thought it would be an interesting interpretation to have the female roles played by men and the male roles played by women.
His father had easily mastered the dance routines but his two brothers were having a hard time with the choreography. Adam had brilliantly decided that the best solution was for them just to follow Ben’s lead and that was working out perfectly.
Abigail Jones was playing Billy Flynn, the corrupt lawyer, and Adam had convinced Hoss to stretch his talents and take on the role of Mama Morton, the villainous jail matron who gives favors for bribes. Adam knew Hoss would bring down the house in “When You are Good to Mama.” Hop Sing was sewing some not-yet-invented lycra panels into his costume so he could dance without worrying about his bustle busting. If everything came together, it would be awesomely spectacular. Adam didn’t want to even consider the disaster the performance could be if it didn’t all come together. (Could that be why he left the series after season 6???)
“But what about that…that metal hook?” Ben asked again.
“Well,” said the pirate, “we were in another battle and we boarded another competing ship. I was in a sword fight and my hand was hacked off but the surgeon fixed me up with this hook, and I feel great, really.”
“Oh pshaw,” panted Hoss, perspiring and growing pasty and pale. He positively didn’t want to say anything poignant or politically incorrect but his heart positively went out to Pa’s pawless pal Pirate Pete.
“What about that eye patch? You had two good eyes when we were on Captain Stubing’s ship together, back years ago,” Ben said.
The bartender brought them all another beer. Joe burped melodically.
Max pulled another two shiny quarters out of Hoss’ ear and paid the bartender. “Tada!”
“WOW!” everyone in the saloon gasped.
“Keep the change, Cosmo.” Max winked. “Tell them how you lost your eye, Pete.”
“Well,” says the pirate, “One day when we were at sea, some birds were flying over the ship. I looked up, and one of them shat in my eye.”
“One of them shat in your eye?” Ben repeated.
Hoss gasped. He had never heard Pa use such language.
“Aye, matey! One of them shat in my eye!” Pete repeated.
Adam was quite impressed that the Pirate correctly conjugated the verb “to shit”. At Back East University, Adam was the best conjugater in his frat, as well as the best kisser. He was voted Male Student Who Thought Fastest With His Lips of both 1851 and 52. He was awarded a huge silver loving cup that Adam kept in his room on a shelf. He kept it filled with his valuable collection of rare hen’s teeth.
“So?” replied Joe, “what happened? You couldn’t have lost an eye just from some bird shit!”
“Joseph!” Ben reprimanded. Joe wasn’t sure his father was correcting his boldness with a guest, his use of the rude, bleepable word “shit” or the fact that Joe had both feet on the top of the bar. Before Pa could reprimand him, Little Joe quickly put both feet on the dirty pine floor of the saloon and almost knocked over the brass cuspidor that held Hoss’ discarded maraschino cherry stems and cowboy phlegm.
“Well,” explained the pirate, “I really wasn’t used to my hook hand yet…”
“What are you doing in Virginia City?” Ben asked his long lost pals.
Adam, Hoss and Joe held their collective brotherly breath, hoping Pa was not going to invite this pair to stay on the Ponderosa. The Cartwrights had barely got over The Countess causing labor unrest, burning down the forest and bringing her crappy painting of a black haired Pa into the house to smash with a fire place poker. The last three long-lost pals of Pa had doomed misfit daughters who croaked in the guest room, and Cousin Muley sang to flea-bitten dogs. Hop Sing had to use 17 gallons of Febreeze and burn most of the bedding after that round of house guests.
“I’m going to be performing my magic act at Piper’s Opera House for two weeks, a week at the Shamrock Pub that some leprechauns opened over in Gold Hill, and after that I’m booked into the cocktail lounge at the No Tell Motel over in Carson City.”
Joe, Hoss and Adam all simultaneously blushed as the three brothers all knew the reputation of the notorious No Tell Motel in Carson City. That was where numerous married politicians carried on their shenanigans while in the state capitol.
“Do you have a place to stay, fellows?” Ben smiled hospitably.
They held their breath as they waited for Pa to invite the pair to the Ponderosa, hoping against hope that he wouldn’t. Joe, Hoss and Adam gritted their teeth and silently prayed, “NO NO NO NO NOoooOOOO!”
“Oh Lawdy! I sure hope they do!” Hoss whispered to his brothers.
“Me too!” agreed Adam.
“Me three!” agreed Joe.
“Oh, don’t bother, Ben! Pete and I are being put up in the luxury penthouse suite at the International Hotel,” Max explained.
“Whew!” sighed Adam, Hoss and Joe, collectively wiping their brows. Then, being good brothers, they wiped each other’s brows. Adam spit on his hanky and wiped some potpourri crumbs off of Hoss’ chin.
“We have a hot tub at the hotel!” Pete added.
“Maybe we should bunk with you!” Joe suggested. Joe loved hot tubs, especially after that butt in the ice tub adventure.
Everyone laughed at Joe’s adorable remark, and Ben said, “Well, we better head for the Ponderosa, boys. We have cattle to round up, fences to fix and gals to bury. Did you remember to pick up the gallon of Febrezze that Hop Sing wanted? And the new shovels?”
Hoss nodded and they all headed for home.
“Wait!” called Max.” Here’s four tickets for my show on Saturday night!” He handed Ben fist full of tickets. “TADA!”
“We’ll be there!” Ben promised.
A few days later, the Cartwrights went to see Max the Magician’s show.
Max was amazing. He made rabbits disappear and reappear when he said “TADA!”
The audience cheered and applauded.
He said “TADA” and a flock of doves flew out of his sleeve.
The audience cheered and applauded. Pirate Pete stomped on the floor with his peg leg.
Max swung his cape over his head and said “TADA!” and a horse appeared on the stage.
After one especially amazing feat, a man from the back of the theatre yelled, “How’d you do that?”
“I could tell you, sir”, the magician answered, “but then I’d have to kill you.”
After a short pause, Joe yelled back, “Ok, then… just tell my brother Adam!”
Ben glared at his son “Joseph!”
“Ok, don’t tell Adam! Tell Hoss!”
“No!” said Adam with a sarcastic twinkle in his eye. “Tell Laura Dayton!”
The audience applauded thunderously, particularly Cousin Will Zorro Cartwright who had heroically taken one for the Cartwright team when he “stole” Laura from Adam.
“Now, I now will do my most famous trick,” Max the Magician announced. “I need the biggest strongest man here to assist me.”
“Hoss Cartwright!” everyone shouted. “HOSS hoss HOSSSSSS!”
Adam and Joe pushed a reluctant Hoss up on the stage.
“Hoss, I’d like you to take this 20 pound sledge hammer and hit me as hard as you can right in the head,”
Kind-hearted Hoss refused. “I can’t do that! I can hurt you!”
The magician then said, “Hoss, I am a professional. This is the Greatest Illusion. Besides, there are hundreds of witnesses. Hit me as hard as you can right in the head with the hammer.”
“Go on, Hoss! “ Adam and Joe urged.
Hoss shrugged, did it, and the Magician went flying across the stage, rolled into the orchestra pit, bounced, hit the wall, and immediately fell into a coma. He was rushed to Doc Martin’s office, and remained in the coma for years.
Ten years later, Max the Magician finally came out of the coma, looked around, and said “TA DA!!”