Summary: Ben has trouble accepting the choices his sons have made for wives, or have they? It’s another story for the Halloween season with numerous references to ladies who were in Bonanza episodes.
Word Count: 1129
Standing in his bedroom, Ben adjusted his tie and sighed in exasperation. He couldn’t tolerate another morning of listening to the bickering that occurred every single morning ever since Adam had brought her home as his wife. They had the bedroom next to his and the walls although solid were not soundproofed. How he has wished her house had been better built and could have withstood that terrible storm, but it didn’t and now they were here.
“Adam, you ask every night and complain every morning. You know it is perfectly normal for a husband and a wife to have separate bedrooms. Couples all over the country do it that way. It is far more civilized than being together every night and producing a dozen children as if there was nothing better for a man and a woman to do. If we had more children, people would know what we were doing at night.”
“Laura, of course they would know. Every husband and wife out there knows because they’re doing the same, or actually not the same, because they’re actually sleeping together.”
“Now lower your voice. You don’t want Peggy to hear your base demands of me, do you? What will she think of men if she knows that’s all they want from a woman?”
“It’s not all they want but it certainly is one of the things they want.”
Stepping into the hallway at the same time as the bickering couple at least got them to stop briefly and mutter greetings to him. Then they continued down the hall with Laura telling Adam he needed to stop eating so much as he was gaining a paunch that wasn’t attractive. He rejoined that it didn’t seem to matter if he was attractive or not. Ben waited knowing there would likely be more of that at the breakfast table before they departed for church. The next shock was Joe coming out of his bedroom with his wife.
“Morning, Pa. Did you sleep well?”
Hardly able to speak with the appearance his son made, Ben finally stammered out a reply. “Yes. Joseph, are you wearing that to church? Please tell me you aren’t.”
“Pa, I have to. Tirza gave it to me as a gift for my birthday. It is kind of pretty, don’t you think. I feel like a pirate.”
Decked out in a flame red shirt open to the waist, Joe also had a large gold chain around his neck and suspended from that was a pendant of the Ponderosa brand with a wolf’s head emblazoned on it. He wore black pants with thin white stripes running vertically and the pants could not have fit tighter than they did.
“Joseph, it looks more like a costume for a Mardi Gras parade than for church services!”
“Hey, that’s great. Hey, Tirza, you were right. It is a New Orleans style outfit. Pa said so. Hey, Pa, wait until you see what Tirza is wearing.”
“I can wait.”
At that point, the door to Hoss’ room cracked open enough for Hoss to stick his head out. He looked terrible with mussed hair, red rimmed eyes, and a dour expression.
“Another late night in town with Helen?”
“Pa, she was winning this time. She really was. So I had a few more beers with my friends, and before you know it, she lost her winnings and her stake too. So she had to keep playing to try to make it back. I give her all I had with me, but it wasn’t enough. I had to give her another five thousand in an IOU for the Ponderosa. Ya don’t mind, do ya? I mean, anything to keep my wife happy so she don’t leave me for another man, right, Pa?”
“Hoss, at this rate, you’ll have Helen but we won’t have the Ponderosa. That’s the tenth IOU in ten days. We can’t keep going like this.”
“We won’t. Today is Sunday, and there ain’t no poker going on today.” Hoss smiled. “Oh, and we ain’t going to church. We’re too tired. We’re gonna sleep some.” Hoss closed the door and Ben closed his eyes wondering if the pounding in his head would ever stop.
“Mister Cartwright, Mister Cartwright, you hear me?”
“What is it, Hop Sing?”
“Mister Adam, I think Mister Cartwright open his eyes soon. See them move.”
“Pa, wake up, would you please wake up.”
Opening his eyes then, Ben looked up to see Adam hovering behind Hop Sing who sat at his side. Hop Sing tipped a spoonful of water to his lips and he gratefully accepted it. He had another and another until his dry mouth felt good enough to speak.
“Hop Sing, when you go back to China, please take me with you.”
“Hop Sing no go back China. You talk foolishment. I get more water. You rest.”
Taking the chair next to the bed after Hop Sing departed, Adam put a hand on Ben’s shoulder. “Pa, do you know who I am?”
“Of course I know. You’re my oldest son, Adam.”
“Do you know you have other sons?”
“Of course. Hoss and Joe. Why are you asking such silly questions?”
“You’ve been delirious with fever, Pa. You’ve been saying some rather odd things to us. I only wanted to check to see if the delirium had passed.”
“You’re not married to Laura?”
“No, thank the Lord, Will saved me from that.”
“Hoss didn’t marry Helen Layton.”
“No, Pa, no, she would have destroyed him and us.”
Shivering a little at the thought, Ben had the final question. “And Joe and Tirza?”
“Well . . .” Seeing his father’s look of horror, Adam quickly relented. “No, of course Joe didn’t marry Tirza. That woman was a little bit off kilter, don’t you think. Joe knew that even if he was attracted to her more than ample physical attributes.”
“So it was all like a bad dream.”
“Yes, of course. None of what you thought was real. The fever you had was what made you think those terrible things. You got sick on Halloween night. That’s probably what made you think such bizarre thoughts in your dreams.”
“Adam, why do you have a black eye?”
“I said something to Regan that Hoss didn’t like. Melinda tells me all the time to keep those thoughts to myself. She’ll probably never change me any more than Hoss will change Regan. Oh, and Joe and Calamity are hiding out at the line shack again. Doc’s back in town looking for them.”