Summary: People wonder why Adam wears all black clothing and there’s a story to explain why. It’s a tall tale spun by Hoss to get a few free drinks or is it? It’s for blarney and fun. Written for a tall tales challenge.
Word Count: 1151
“Hey, Hoss, why does your brother wear all black like that? He want to look like a gunfighter or something?”
“Nope, Cam, it ain’t nothing like that.”
“He colorblind then and can’t figure out what colors to wear so he just picks black?”
“Nope, Newt, it ain’t that either.”
“He worried about spilling things on his clothes and getting them all stained and such?”
“Nope, Sam, it ain’t that either.”
“Well, doggone it, do ya know or dontcha? Ya gonna make us keep guessing or ya gonna tell us why he wears all black all the dadblamed time?”
“Well, you coulda jest come out and asked me then.”
“Well, I just did and you still ain’t answered.”
“I can’t hardly tell a story though cause my throat’s so dry.”
Very quickly, two drinks were placed on the table in front of Hoss. He downed the whiskey in one gulp, and then grabbed the beer and took a nice long sip.
“But I don’t know ifn Adam would want me to tell this story.”
“Ooh, must be a good one then. Hey, Hoss, none of us will tell a soul if you was to tell us, now would we?”
All twenty-eight men and six saloon girls in the Bucket of Blood nodded solemnly that they would agree to that. Hoss looked around and having gotten their solemn promise, he decided that he could go ahead and tell the story.
“Well, ya see, it has to do with Big Bertha.”
“Ya mean that three hundred pound gal that works for the freight company driving mine wagons? Is that the one?”
“Yep, that’s her, but this was before she lost all that weight. This was when she was real big and had her own claim up on the Washoe. She was a dancing away at a dance one night and she tuckered out one miner after another. Now Adam kept away from her all that he could, but she was after him. He told her that he had a sprained ankle and couldn’t dance. Now she was right sweet on him, and she felt bad about that. She didn’t want to hurt him none so even though it pained her, she let him be. Me and some fellas though kept pushing Adam to drink more. We kept filling his glass every time he wasn’t looking. You know as how he only drinks one drink ever?”
Every one there nodded. Adam Cartwright had been known to get drunk once in his life. He had been seventeen, and he had learned his lesson. The hangover as well as the talking to from his father left him with an aversion to getting drunk. Now he didn’t like to lose control either so that was probably another reason for it. The end result was that everyone knew that Adam never got drunk. However, Hoss and his friends conspired to make that happen just one more time.
“Well, you know how it is. Once you get to a certain point, you keep drinking cause you ain’t got the sense no more to stop. Pretty darn soon, Adam was feeling no pain so I went up to ole Bertha and she thought I wanted a dance, but I done told her that Adam had medicated himself with some whiskey and was ready to dance with her. You never did see four hundred pounds of woman move that fast in your life. She was over there and pulled him onto that dance floor faster than a bear can swallow a fish. In those days, that’s about what it looked like too. Adam was a mite thinner then and she was a whole lot bigger. Looked like a big ole bear pulling a fish right outta the water. They whirled around that floor looking like they was having a good ole time right up until Adam stumbled a bit and fell against her. Remember me telling you all that he was drunk. Well when he fell against her, he kinda grabbed on to stop from falling. Now Bertha thought it meant more than it meant. She thought he was trying to be, you know, ah, fresh with her. Course that was exactly what she wanted anyhow. He started to slip to the floor, and she up and tossed him over her shoulder to take him to her place. I stepped in then to stop her cause it was really going too far.”
“What’d she do then, Hoss?”
“Newt, she punched me so hard, I thought I was blinded. I sat down and waited for my eyesight to come back. My head felt like it near came off my neck. That woman can shur pack a punch. Joe found me and had to hold me up so I didn’t tip over. He helped me find a place to sit until my head stopped spinning around. I held a hand to my eye hoping it was still there. I tried to open it but it was swelled shut for a week.”
“What about Adam? What happened?”
“Well, he come home the next day. He always used to wear them yellow shirts and them red shirts and them white shirts. You remember, dontcha?” Thirty-four heads nodded in unison. “Well, he got rid of all of ’em and he bought all them black shirts, and that’s all he’s worn since that night. He never talks about that night, and dontcha dare ask him about it neither.”
“I wonder what happened that night.”
“I dunno, but she lost all that weight right after, and she done took that job with the freight company too. I ain’t never seen her dance with another man since neither.”
It was very quiet in the saloon then as thirty-four minds conjured up images of what four hundred pound Big Bertha might have done to Adam Cartwright that made him decide to wear all black for the rest of his life. It made some of them shiver.
Hoss finished his beer, smiled at everyone, winked at the bartender, and left. He met Adam at the general store and climbed onto the wagon seat. Once Adam was beside him and smelled his breath, he had a good idea where Hoss had been.
“Spent some money at the saloon?”
“Nope, the drinks were free.”
“Telling a story about me or Joe?”
“The one about Bertha or the one about the cave?”
“I’m going to get some weird looks again for a while.”
“Yep, probably. But I got a whisky and a beer for nothing.”