Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 2000
The Third Fondue Tale: Heidi
“It‘s about time you boys got back from town!” Ben Cartwright said. “I was about to either get worried or have a cup of coffee or practice pilates.”
“Pilates? What happened to yoga, Pa? ” Joe rolled his eyes.
“Heck Pa, you know you are supposed to be cutting back on coffee!” Adam warned. “You aren’t as young as you used to be.”
“Ok. I lied. I wasn’t going to do pilates and I wasn’t going to drink coffee! I was about to start worrying. I just said that stuff about the yoga and the coffee to seem less… less…” Ben tried to think of the word that best described his state of mind.
“Vexed?” Joe ventured. He had recently learned that word at Miss Abigail Jones’ SAT tutoring class. “Adam, I told Pa you and Hoss could handle yourselves. I, on the other hand, really can’t and, despite my best intentions still need my beloved brothers and beloved Pa to bail my adorable butt out every once and a while. Don’t I, Pa? Don‘t I? Don‘t I?” Joe threw his arms around Ben’s neck and gave him a big squishy wet kiss on the cheek as he reached behind his father. “I need you Pa and love you! I love you more than I love Cochise! OH PAAaaaaaaaaaaaa! ”
Ben rolled his eyes at Joe’s overt suck up behavior and attempt to lift his wallet. “Cut it out, Joe. And payday isn’t until next Saturday.”
Joe giggled. “Couldn’t hurt to ask. I got a date with Marcia and need some dough.”
“MarciaMarciaMarcia,” Adam said cynically. “When will you ever learn, Little Joe? Beauty is only skin deep but DUMB and SHALLOW is to the BONE! ”
“So…what kept you so long, Adam? And where is Hoss?” Ben asked. He didn’t say anything but it took Adam until he was pushing 35 and hitched his wagon to DUMB and SHALLOW Laura Dayton before he learned his lesson. Had Cousin Zorro not come along, Ben might have her as his daughter-in-law. The very idea gave Ben Cartwright indigestion.
“You know that crate of Swiss Cheese Hop Sing ordered for fondue?” Adam
said as he hung up his hat and canary yellow deerskin jacket. (didn’t you always wonder why Adam wore such a GAUDY coat? Could it be that Bonanza was shot in COLOR??? Or was that jacket a gift from a special gal?)
“Mmmmm…..Fondue!” Ben sighed. “Marie made me fond of fondue! Who is this child?”
“She’s a little orphan girl,” Hoss said carrying in the adorable sleeping child. She was wearing a quaint embroidered dress with an eyelet trimmed pinafore.
Joe took copious notes. He was planning his future as a writer/director/producer and the costuming on the little girl was just wonderful. He was secretly writing a script about a spunky frontier family called “Small Cabin on the Frontier” and this outfit was just what he was looking for.
“Who is the little girl?” Ben asked again. Despite the wishes of many fan fiction writers, Ben Cartwright was thrilled not to have a daughter or granddaughter or niece or foundling or any young girls stay permanently on the Ponderosa. Who needed any more weepy temperamental youngsters living on the ranch arguing over hair products and demanding one of the bedrooms should be painted pink? YUK! And a teenaged girl was worse than typhoid or a plague of locusts.
“She lived up in the mountains, raising goats with her grand daddy,” Hoss explained, setting the child on the settee where visiting tykes often set.
“An orphan?” Joe asked. “Where did you find her?” Little Joe patted the child on her head and checked out her perfectly plaited braids. That would be a wonderful hairdo for the little girls in his script. He was naming them Marcia, Jan and Cindy after his favorite girls on the Brady Ranch. Joe was secretly dating all of them as well as their widowed mother. Their stepfather was killed when the building he was working on collapsed and crushed him into mush. Roy Coffee later found out it was murder by watching the reruns. Mr. Brady’s sons had set it up because they hoped to cash in on his life insurance and buy white spandex jump suits and become musical stars with Andy Walker in Vegas. The boys were all cooling their sorry butts in the Territorial Prison in Yuma, taking guitar lessons from Johnny Cash.
“Where did we find the little orphan gal? She was inside the cheese box,” Hoss explained. “Seems the little orphan gal had been chasing her goat and fell into the crates and got stuck inside.”
“I got shtuck inside the cheese crate! I cwyed and cwyed!” The little girl’s lips trembled almost as adorably as Joe’s lips trembled when he was about to cry. She wiped her runny nose on Hoss’ leg.
“They shipped her to us by mistake?” Little Joe said. “Can we keep her Pa? Can we? Can we? I always wanted a little sister!”
Ben shuddered. “No way Jose!” he said calling Joe by his Spanish name.
“Why not, Pa?”
Ben ignored Joe’s trembling lip and poured himself some brandy.
“What’s your name, Darlin’?” Hoss asked the child.
“Heidi, sir,” she answered politely. “Please send me home to my grandfadder!”
“Can’t we keep her? Please!” Joe nagged. “Come on, Pa! I’ll walk her and clean up after her! Please Pa! I‘ll teach her tricks too! “
“She isn’t a puppy, Joe.” Adam rolled his eyes and struggled to explain. “At your age you should know the difference between a girl and a puppy.”
Hoss snickered, recalling the time Joe won a girl playing poker because he thought the other player was betting a horse and Adam said almost the same thing. “Good line, Adam!”
“I thought it was the first time.” Adam winked at Hoss. “Well worth recycling.”
Little Joe made a mental note of that great idea of Adam’s. He hoped that he could write a few great heartwarming, tear jerking scripts and then recycle them into some other great heartwarming, tear jerking script. It was sort of like writing that book report on “Go Dogs Go” in first grade and reusing it for the next five years. Joe Cartwright was an efficient writer. That was why he always signed his work “JOE” rather than “JOSEPH” so he could save a few letters.
“So, Pa, Can I keep her?” Joe tugged on Ben’s vest and looked hopeful.
“You can’t keep her!” Ben tossed back a second brandy and bopped Joe with the bottle. “And don’t nag or I will send your Game Boy to the orphanage for Game Boy-less orphans and ground you and make you sleep on bricks and take the not yet invented TV out of your room and sell that weird Indian picture on E-Bay!”
Joe knew Pa meant business but he had to ask one more time. After all, having a little girl hanging around with him when he strolled through the Virginia City Mall was sure babe bait. Gals loved handsome cowboys who were good with kids. “Please, Pa! Heidi is better than a puppy! And she won’t get fleas!”
“No sir, no fleas. We don’t have fleas in Switzerland. Only Ovaltine and
Swiss Cheese and Fondue and skiing and secret bank accounts with numbers!” Heidi said straightening her smocked dress.
“Secret numbered bank accounts?” Ben‘s eyes lit up. Since the Wagner gang came through the territory, he wasn’t so thrilled with the security of the Virginia City Savings and Trust.
“Please send me back home to my grandfadder and my goats!” Heidi pleaded. “Grandfadder makes fondue on Tuesdays and if I leave now, I can be there.”
“Did I ever tell you how your mother made me fond of fondue on our
honeymoon?” asked Ben.
“Frequently…” Adam rolled his eyes.
“Really?” Ben sighed nostalgically. “Marie, my love…”
“Fondue from Swiss Cheese or Gruyere?” Little Joe wanted all the details. “My mama made you fond of fondue?”
“Yes! And yodeling!” A single tear rolled out of Ben’s left eye. “Yooo
Little Heidi yodeled back “Yooo dleeeleellee oooooo!”
“My Dead Mommy taught you to yodel?”
“Among other things,” Ben nodded. “Marie studied with a Swiss Yodeling Master when she was a girl in New Orleans. And, no, Joe, you can’t keep the orphan girl.”
“Pa… can I have fifty bucks for a shipping Heidi back home?” Hoss asked.\
Ben was lost in his memories of fondue and yodeling with his beloved Marie and sparring with Little Joe over keeping Heidi. “You know, nine months after your mother taught me to yodel, you were born, Joseph.”
“In that little bedroom at the top of the stairs?” Joe grinned. He loved
that story. He used that room as his writing den. He would lock himself in there when his father and brothers assumed he had snuck off to play poker or get drunk or have private dinners with Lotta Crabtree.\
Ben nodded. “In that little bedroom.”
“Pa… can I have fifty bucks for a shipping Heidi back home?” Hoss repeated
again. This time, Adam pulled distracted Ben’s wallet out of his pocket and handed Hoss a wad of bills. “Hightail it out of here before Pa gets weepy and tells how your mother fed him gravlox and liggonberries on their honeymoon and my mother made oysters on the half shell. And we all know what oysters are supposed to do!”
Hoss turned red. He sure didn’t want to hear either story again. He quickly scooped up Heidi and rushed out the door. “I’ll put her on the afternoon stage to Switzerland right quick.”
“Boys, did I ever tell you how Inger, my love, taught me to eat gravlox and
liggonberries?” Ben sighed.
“And nine months later Hoss was born?” Joe said rolling his eyes. That could make a great episode of “Small Cabin on the Frontier”. “Let me take notes on that one, Pa! Was it a blizzard? Were there wacky neighbors?”
“I sure wish you had a puppy,” Adam sighed. He didn’t really want to hear Pa’s tales one more time. Some things were better not imagined or discussed or put into screen plays.
“I’ll buy one after I sell the pilot to the network,” Joe whispered. “Want to be a guest star?”