Frogs (by Sherri)

Summary:  Part 1 of three-part series: Frogs, Onions, and Rocky Mountain Oysters
Category:  Bonanza
Genre:  Western
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  1400

“We need to plan a getaway, Hoss,” whispered Joe as he cowered down behind his big brother.

Surprised at the sound behind him, Hoss jumped. He turned, grabbing Joe by the collar and pulled him to the front of him, “What do you mean WE?”

“Uh, well…” Joe stuttered, as he tried squeezing out of the chokehold that Hoss had him in. Reaching up with his hand, he patted his brother on the shoulder, then pointed to his neck. Once he felt his shirt loosen around his neck, he coughed slightly before speaking with a strained voice. “Thanks.”

Hoss narrowed his eyes at his younger brother. He knew something was up, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it, other than the way that Joe had approached him. Shrugging his shoulders, he figured he couldn’t hold it against his brother for his approach towards him after dumping him into the water trough the day before. Grinning even now, he remembered the help he had received from his brother Adam and how they had tossed the unsuspecting Joe into the water. “What ya need to hide?” he asked as he leaned against the corral.

“There’s something in the house I need help getting out,” Joe answered as he wondered what the grin on his brother’s face was for. Quickly he decided his brother had no evil intentions; Joe hopped up onto the fence next to him. He leaned over and whispered his plan into Hoss’ ear.

“What in the world, Joe! Just take them critters out the back door and toss ‘em,” Hoss exclaimed, waving Joe away from him.

“Aw Hoss, if Pa knew I had them in my room, he’d kill me.”

“So?” Pushing away from the fence, Hoss was determined to get away from Joe’s harebrained crazy scheme. Besides, who ever would have thought his brother would have tried to raise frogs in his room? Hoss shook his head, muttering to himself at the craziness of his brother at times.

“Listen, Hoss,” Joe spoke as he looked around the yard, “Pa is out at the moment; let’s get inside the house and get into my room.” Sensing his brother’s reluctance, Joe grabbed him by the arm and tugged, “Come on, Hoss.”

Hoss shook his brother’s hand free from his arm, “I’m coming, just hold your horses there.” He followed his brother inside the house and on up the stairs, then stood in Joe’s doorway looking at the assortment of boxes scattered around his room. As he watched his brother reach down and grab something from the box, Hoss couldn’t help but take a few steps forward. That is, until he saw his brother walking towards him with a big green frog in his hand. “Um, Joe. Why don’t you do this, and I’ll deter Pa?”

“’Cause this is the easiest get away from these frogs. You can hold more than me.” Taking another step towards his brother, Joe urged, “Come on, tuck your shirt in and let me drop this frog down into your shirt.”

With a distinct look of disgust on his face, Hoss did as he was told. He watched as Joe slid the frog down into his shirt and couldn’t help but gasp as the frog’s cold body rubbed against his chest. “Gosh Joe, that frog is cold. How many of these critters do you have?” Hoss asked as he counted the boxes.

“Not many, but you gotta stand still while I get the rest of them over here to ya.”

Soon all the frogs were out of the boxes and tucked away into Hoss’ shirt. Joe took a step backward and tried to smother a giggle at the look of horror that had spread across his brother’s face. His shirt looked like a squirming mass of movement as the frogs attempted to jump up on one another in their effort to escape, rubbing their wet slimy bodies against his chest.

Swallowing hard, Hoss carefully reached out and pulled his brother by the scruff of the neck, “You go check if Pa is out there so I can get rid of these frogs. If he is, I’ll just go out the back way.”

Joe shook his brother’s arm loose from his neck then scooted past him. He paused at the stairs, and looked downstairs. There Ben sat at the desk, steadily working on paperwork. Turning towards Hoss, Joe saw his brother watching him. The frogs were moving in a disjointed mass in his brother’s shirt, and a suddenly idea took place. He nodded at Hoss, motioning him towards the stairs. Quietly walking down the stairs, Joe strode over to his pa’s desk, “Hi Pa.”

Looking up from his work, Ben smiled when he saw his youngest sliding to sit on the edge of his desk. “Joe. How are you doing?”

“Doing great, Pa; I took care of the stock and put…” Before he could finish, a gasp from his pa stopped him. Just one look on his pa’s face told him everything he knew, as he carefully looked over towards his brother. There stood Hoss, shuffling his feet as he tried to figure out how to get out of Ben’s eyesight and hugging his arms lightly around his middle. The bulges in his shirt suddenly seemed to realize that something was going on, as one frog somehow was able to jump from Hoss’ shirt. In slow motion, all the men watched as it flew thru the air in an arch, landing at Ben’s feet.

“HOSS CARTWRIGHT! Get those frogs out of here!” Ben yelled, as the voice thundered in the room.

“But Pa, it was…” stuttered Hoss, as he tried to get his words out straight.

“But Pa nothing. Get those out of here and get them out NOW!” Pointing to the door, Ben glanced down to see Joe gathering the escaped frog in his hands. Glaring at the frog then at his son, he watched as his son backed away and followed his brother out the door, slamming it behind him.

Joe faithfully followed Hoss to the middle of the yard, stopping only when his brother suddenly halted next to the water trough. Ripping his shirt out of his pants, frogs suddenly came raining down to the ground and into the water, hopping in every different direction to get free. As Hoss continued to shake his pants, one more frog ended up tumbling from his right leg, before he turned to face his brother.

When he saw Hoss staring at him, Joe slowly realized that he was still holding the frog he had picked up from his pa’s feet.

“Remember Hoss, you dumped me into the water trough; this was only a joke,” Joe stuttered. With a quick smile towards his brother, he held out the frog as a peace offering, chewing his lip as he wondered what was going to happen next. Backing slowly away, he knew it was too late when he felt Hoss grab his arm and propel him towards the water trough. He could feel his arm being twisted behind his back just before he felt his body plunge into the water trough.

As Joe came back up for air, his body soaked. Hoss couldn’t help but bellow out in laughter as he looked at his brother. His brother sat in the water, his arms crossed, while being surrounded by jumping frogs. And perched on the top of Joe’s head was a big bullfrog, sitting as though he was the king of the world.

“I’m going to get you for this,” Hoss swore, shaking his head. “That I promise you.”

Yanking the frog off his head, Joe couldn’t help but shake his head as he watched his brother walk away. “Yeah, like you could really top that,” Joe muttered. Quickly jumping up out of the trough, he pulled his waterlogged body out of the water and trudged to the house for dry clothes.

***The End***

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