Sunday, July 28, 2013
PORFLE PRESENTS: "MY 'BONANZA' FAN-FIC"
HE WALKS IN BEAUTY LIKE THE NIGHT
A "Bonanza" Adventure
(DISCLAIMER: Not associated with the official "Bonanza" TV show or any of the people who made it or were in it or anything.)
One day, the members of the Cartwright clan--brothers Hoss, Adam, and Little Joe, and father, Ben--were sitting around the living room of their large, comfortable ranchhouse on the beautiful Ponderosa, languidly digesting the latest of their Chinese cook Hop Sing's delicious lunchtime feasts, when suddenly Hoss stopped in mid-sentence, which was unusual since Hoss usually finished his sentences, and went stiff, which was even more unusual.
"And so dang if I didn't have tuh whump that ornery polecat right upside thuh--" Hoss was saying when he fell silent.
"Upside the what?" asked Little Joe. "Hoss? Upside the what, Hoss?"
When there was no answer, Adam leaned forward and examined the silent, stiff Hoss, which he had been meaning to do all day anyway, although until now there hadn't been a really plausible excuse for doing so.
"Upside the what, Hoss? Hoss?" Little Joe persisted.
"I don't think he can hear you," Adam thoughtfully intoned in his rich, sonorous voice.
"OH! Dat such a rich, sonorous voice you got dere, Mistah Adam!" Hop Sing exclaimed from the kitchen. "Me rove hear you talkee, ah-ha ah-ha, ha ha!" Further sounds from the kitchen indicated that Hop Sing then dropped a large frying pan on his foot, screamed something dreadful in Chinese, hopped around in pain for a few seconds, and then launched himself over a butter churn and crashed through the window into a watering trough.
"Upside the what, Hoss?" This came not from Little Joe, but from the Cartwright patriarch, Ben, who shared Little Joe's curiosity regarding Hoss' unfinished sentence and had decided to stop clipping his toenails and join in the conversation.
"I don't think he can hear you, Pa," Adam reiterated. This prompted another exclamation from Hop Sing, farther away this time and mostly unintelligible except for the words "me rove" and some random gurgling noises.
Adam reached for his sidearm and slowly drew it from its holster. "Hoss," he said gravely, "I'm going to give you to the count of five to finish that sentence." He aimed the pistol at Hoss. "One...two..."
"Upside the what, Hoss?" said Little Joe.
This caused Adam to lose count, so he started over. "One...two..."
"Adam," said Ben, reaching for his own gun and smoothly drawing it from its holster. "You've already shot Hoss three times this week, and, by Gadfrey, I think enough's enough." He leveled the gun at Adam and cocked the hammer.
"One...two..." said Adam, starting over due to Ben's causing him to lose count again.
"Upside the what, Hoss?"
"Adam, I'm warning you for the last time..."
"Hoss? Upside the what, Hoss? Hoss?"
There was a loud crash from outside, and a huge burst of flame was reflected against the front windowpanes, followed by a scream from Hop Sing, and the pitter-patter of unknown debris upon the rooftop, and horses neighing in terror, and even more plaintive screams from Hop Sing, and a strange bellowing cry that none of them had ever heard come out of a cow before.
At that point, Hoss unexpectedly broke his silence. "Upside thuh..." he said in a dull, droning monotone, his eyes glazed over like one of Hop Sing's doughnuts that Hoss had eaten four hundred of that very morning. "Upside thuh..."
Adam relented for a moment, although he was fully prepared to proceed to "three" if necessary, and resolved to do so if Hoss were to fall silent again. He leaned even farther forward, listening, as did the others. An eerie silence fell over the scene, broken only by the distant sounds of a stampede of horses, an avalanche, some Indians, and the reverberating echo of Hop Sing's now-unending screams.
"Upside thuh..." Hoss repeated.
Adam leaned forward still farther, until finally he lost his balance and fell off the couch, hitting his head on the edge of the coffee table and passing out cold. Ben shook his head slowly and returned his pistol to its holster. "I've told him a million times not to lean forward so far when he's sitting down," he said reproachfully as he surveyed Adam's sprawled figure. "One of these days this might happen during an Indian raid, or a buffalo stampede--a time in which a man needs all his wits about him, or he'll perish just as sure as the dawn rises up over the Ponderosa each morning...or the stream heads down from out of the mountains after the spring thaw every year and makes its way toward the raging river...or the chipmunks--"
Suddenly, the top of Hoss' head flipped open like a jack-in-the-box, causing his ten-gallon hat to pop off. A thin, metal rod emerged, and collapsible propellors sprang taut to the sides, whereupon they began to spin in an increasingly rapid motion which emitted a soft buzzing noise like the sound of angry bees. Hoss' head detached from his neck and rose slowly into the air, bobbing slightly from side to side, and then began to fly around the room in a circular pattern.
Little Joe observed all of this with a look of bemusement, unable to speak since his entire concept of reality had just been utterly subverted by the strange display. He felt his very sanity begin to slip away as Hoss' head continued to buzz past him with its every noisy revolution around the room. Finally, he managed to formulate words that emerged stumblingly from his quivering lips.
"Pa..." he said. "Is...is Hoss' head supposed to be able to...to come off and fly around like that?"
"No, Joseph, it isn't," said Ben. "And for the very life of me, I just don't know what's gotten into Hoss today. What if we were in the middle of a buffalo raid, or a chipmunk stampede, and this sort of thing happened? Sometimes a man needs all his wits about him. Well, you don't have all your wits about you when your head is flying around like a buzzard circling its prey, waiting for it to die in the desert. Not when your head is flying around!"
This last part he punctuated with a resolute pounding of his fist against the arm of his chair, which spooked Hoss' head and caused it to attack. Like an enraged chicken hawk from out of the blazing noonday sky, Hoss' head took a sudden nosedive right at the shocked Cartwright partriarch and knocked him backward, his chair falling over with a wracking thud. Little Joe could see only a pair of feet sticking up over it.
"Pa..." Little Joe tried to say, but his sanity began to slip away again. Without another word, he rose from his chair, a blank look on his face, and headed upstairs. In an old trunk in the attic were stored several lovely dresses that had belonged to Ben Cartwright's various wives, and there was a particularly stunning sequin-bedecked emerald evening gown that Adam's mother had purchased in Boston many years ago, which Joe had always admired. Now, no longer restrained by the restrictions of sanity, he was free to try it on at last.
The matching pumps were a perfect fit as well, and Little Joe posed proudly in front of a full-length mirror, admiring his beauty. But something was missing--ah! Makeup! And there, in the old trunk, was an assortment of lovely accessories that would compliment his ensemble in every conceivable way. Before long, the makeover was complete.
Downstairs, Adam had finally regained consciousness and crawled over to Ben, who was hiding behind his overturned chair. They watched warily as Hoss' head, which had resumed its circular pattern, continued to buzz relentlessly around the room.
"What's happening, Pa?" he asked.
"I'll tell you what's happening," Ben said in a low voice. "There's been a buzzard stampede, and we were caught unawares like a herd of Indians on their way to a barn dance. The chipmunks are circling their prey, waiting for it to die. And we...we are that prey."
"Prey tell," Adam remarked with a wry smile.
Ben smiled back, mentally noting that in times of danger, Adam had always been the most wry of all his sons. He figured that Adam must have gotten his wryness from his mother, who had been the wryest of all the fair young maidens in Boston in her time. It was her wryness that had first attracted him to her, along with the beautiful sequin-bedecked emerald evening gown that she had been wearing when they'd met. He grew wistful, wishing that he could once again gaze upon the picture of beauty she had presented to him on that fateful day.
Suddenly there came a footfall at the top of the stairs, and there, standing with the elegant assuredness of one who knows that she is the most beautiful woman in the room, stood Little Joe. He gathered his lovely gown about him and strode gracefully down the stairs, heedless of Hoss' head as it flew past repeatedly, barely missing him each time. Finding Ben and Adam crouched behind the overturned chair, he stood with one hand on his hip and the other delicately fluttering a lace hanky about his breast.
"Pa, I want a coming-out party," he said. "One of those big, elegant affairs like we have out in the front yard, with Japanese lanterns and a band, and food and punch, and a cake. That is, two cakes," he added wryly. "One for Hoss, and one for everyone else." With that, he screwed his face up into that familiar Little Joe smile which always seemed to light up the whole room.
Ben was confused. Certain elements of his concept of reality had just overlapped in ways that he'd never even begun to anticipate, and the only sound he could manage to emit was a somewhat undefined quacking noise.
"Quack, quack, quack!" Hop Sing exclaimed, rushing out of the kitchen with a large pot in which he was stirring something thick and green, his clothes singed and tattered. "All time quack, quack, quack, when it time for dinnah!"
"But, didn't we just eat?" asked Adam, trying to out-wry Little Joe's previous wryness.
Hop Sing stopped short, puzzled. "You right, we did--" Suddenly, the floor beneath his feet collapsed and he fell through, plummetting down an abandoned mine shaft over which the house had been built many years ago. His terrified screams could be heard echoing up from the dark pit as they grew steadily more faint, until finally they were cut short by a distant splash.
Hoss' head abruptly ceased its circular flight and assumed a holding pattern over his body. Presently it lowered onto his neck and reattached itself. The little propellor blades folded neatly away and the slender metal rod retracted into Hoss' skull once again.
"--upside thuh head," Hoss concluded, to the incalculable relief of Little Joe. "Did somebody say 'dinner'?"
"Three-four-FIVE!" Adam exclaimed, and shot him. He smiled wryly as an angry Hoss sprang from his chair and chased him out the front door. "Dagnab it, that's the fourth time this week!" came his bellowing voice as the two brothers disappeared into the forest as they so often did whenever Adam shot Hoss.
Ben rose to his feet, a sudden rush of well-being surging through his body, and patted Little Joe on the shoulder. "Son," he said proudly, "you look beautiful."
"Thanks, Pa," said Little Joe, his features becoming contemplative. "But I don't think I'll be needing that coming-out party now. And," he added, suddenly feeling less elegant than before, "I don't think I'll be needing this dress anymore, either. You see, I've realized that, when you come right down to it, true beauty comes from inside a guy, and not from what he wears. Besides," he said, his Little Joe smile returning in full force, "this corset is killing me."
Ben laughed heartily and pounded him on the back as hard as he possibly could. Little Joe gasped, suddenly unable to breathe, and sagged to his knees, where he then fell face-first through the coffee table with a resounding crash. Ben continued to laugh heartily. He laughed and laughed and laughed, his laughter growing louder and louder, and more crazed, and more terrifyingly maniacal, until all the ranch hands began to emerge from the bunkhouse and come down out of the fields and approach the house with trepidation, peering curiously through the windows.
When Ben saw them, he drew his gun and started shooting at them. They ran in stark terror as Ben stood at the front door, still laughing, still shooting at them until his gun was empty. His laughter finally dying down to a satisfied chuckle, Ben holstered his gun and bellowed to the world: "I love the smell of chipmunks in the morning!"