Summary: Little Joe just doesn’t do well when he visits that punch bowl too often. The first chapter is a story told mostly in Joe’s dialogue and Little Joe’s thoughts. The second is narration from Little Joe’s POV.
rating = PG WC = 2394
Little Joe and the Punch Bowl
Chapter 1: How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways
My word, Sheila is a beauty. She’s danced with me so many times tonight, she must like me. She let me pull her real close. I think I ought to ask her for a little walk in the moonlight. Yes, that’s it. One more glass of Pa’s special punch, and she should be done dancing with my brother. That darn Adam has his hand on her back and his face right up against hers. Boy he better not try to grab my girl. She might be the one. Time to find out. Okay, here goes. Punch is gone. Time for a little moonlight madness.
Woo Hoo! She said yes! Now I’ll just take her hand and act the perfect gentleman. Oh, this is gonna be good. She does seem a bit standoffish. Now what did Adam say last Friday at the Bucket o’Blood about some poem or something he used to get MaryAnn to be right friendly. Older brother doesn’t often say much about stuff like that, but he was so mad at some of the hands for the messes they made last week that he downed quite a few, and it loosened those tight lips of his. Oh yeah, ‘How do I love thee, let me count the ways’. I hate that Shakespeare stuff, but if it works, I may have to read a little of it. And what he said was hot, man oh man, this is gonna work. We’re almost at the grove now. Just gotta ask her to sit with me and start working that poem. All right, here goes:
“How do I love thee, let me count the ways …”
What, what, or I gotta say some ways, all right now, let me think. What did Adam say? Oh yeah, I remember now:
“I love your juicy red skin which makes me want to caress it, I love those freckled lips which make me just want to hold them, and I love your full luscious body that makes me want to kiss it with gentle kisses.”
Now why did she slap me and storm off like that? Darn that Adam! I bet he made that all up so I would make a fool of myself. He’s always getting me in trouble. No wait a minute, he always catches me when I get in trouble. Oh yeah, that’s it. Oh well, I’m gonna go inside and talk to Hoss and get some more of that punch. That punch sure is good tonight.
“Ah, Hoss, I gotta ask you something about what Adam told us last Friday night. Didn’t he say that he said all those gooey things and MaryAnn was putty in his hands?”
“What’d I say, well I said ‘I love your juicy skin or something like that and I said I wanted to caress it. I said I loved those freckled lips which make me just want to kiss them with gentle kisses, and I said I love your full luscious body that makes me want to hold it’ or something like that. And then she slapped me.”
“Why are laughing?”
“What do you mean how much punch did I have? Only five or six cups, I think. It’s real good so maybe I had more. It was hot in here tonight, and with all the dancing, I was thirsty. What does that have to do with why Sheila slapped me, and darn it, why are you still laughing?”
“Oh no, oh no! Don’t you go and tell Adam. This is all his fault anyway.”
Dang it, Hoss told him and now he’s laughing harder than Hoss. And Hoss didn’t even say all of it. Well I suppose that’s a good thing. Maybe I ought to tell him so he busts a gut laughing. Then he won’t be able to dance with Sheila. That would fix him for messing with me like this.
“Hey, Adam don’t you want to know what I really said cause it was a lot better than that little bit that Hoss told you.”
“So you want to know, do you? Well don’t say I didn’t warn you if this makes you bust a gut. I said ‘I love your red juicy skin which makes me want to caress it, I love those freckled lips which make me just want to kiss them with gentle kisses, I love your full luscious body that makes me want to hold it.’ The she slapped me. So your high and mighty fancy words just ain’t gonna work for ya with that one. Sheila isn’t a pushover for fancy words.”
“I sure wish one of you would say something. You look like you might pass out cause you ain’t getting enough air with all that laughing which you should stop anytime of course.”
“You know if the two of you keep laughing like that, you’re gonna fall down and Pa’s gonna be mad cause he’ll know you had too much of that punch.”
Oh this is good. Pa’s coming over here. He must of seen these two idiot brothers of mine making fools out of themselves. He’ll help me with these two mean brothers of mine who can’t carry on a decent conversation without busting a gut laughing at a man.
“Hey, here comes Pa now so you boys better stop it.”
“Oh yeah, Pa, I followed Adam’s advice and he got me in all sorts of trouble.”
“Oh Hoss wants me to repeat what I said to Sheila? Well here goes. I said ‘I love your juicy red skin which makes me want to caress it, I love those freckled lips which make me just want to hold them, and I love your full luscious body that makes me want to kiss it with gentle kisses.’ Now you’re laughing too.”
“Well it ain’t funny. She slapped me, you know. Well I don’t think it was funny at all.”
“What do you mean, it ain’t Shakespeare! Course it is. It’s got all that fancy talk stuff. That’s all Adam does to get the girls. Why I don’t know cause all it got me was a slap on the face. Hey you don’t suppose Adam likes getting slapped, do you?”
Well, now there goes Adam dancing with Sheila again. I bet he did this all on purpose so he could keep her to himself tonight. Well I’m gonna have one more cup of this punch, and then I’ll take care of that sneaky older brother.
“Hey, you know what I’m gonna do, Hoss? What do you mean I ought to sit down? There ain’t nothing wrong with me.”
What I’m gonna do, is have more of this punch. This punch is really good.
“What were we talking about anyway?”
Chapter 2: Forlorn and Lonely
Forlorn and lonely, Joe stood at the punch bowl at the Harvest Dance. He just didn’t understand women. He had danced with the gal he really wanted to be his gal but she had walked off and left him. He danced with a few more gals but none were at his side after a single dance. Meanwhile his oldest brother Adam was sitting on a bench out in the garden next to the barn with a half dozen women talking with him and getting him anything he wanted. Now Adam couldn’t dance, but that seemed to make no difference to the ladies. Heck, the fact that he couldn’t dance tonight seemed to have made him even more attractive to the ladies. Joe’s special gal had danced with him once and had asked him about how Adam got hurt. He had told her just like he told the others, and then they left him on the dance floor at the end of the dance and headed outside to see how Adam was faring. Geez, they were acting like it was his fault all those wasps stung Adam and made him run to the water trough and jump in to get away from them. Of course he had accidentally on purpose smeared a little honey on the back of Adam’s shirt when he told Joe he was going out to get rid of that wasp nest so no one would get stung. That black shirt never showed it was dirty at all, and those wasps had headed right for that honey. He was just supposed to get a few stings not sprain his ankle. There had just been one teeny little itsy bitsy problem with that. Joe had neglected to fix the leak in the trough and it only had a couple of inches of water in it as all the rest had leaked out. So when Adam went to dive in, he had to catch himself instead, and that’s when the mud next to the water trough became a real issue because he couldn’t stop himself from falling when he stepped in that mud. Now Adam sat outside with all sorts of women attending him, and Joe was alone and miserable.
Well technically Joe wasn’t alone. There were all sorts of married women, spinsters, and widows at the dance looking for a partner. Adam and Hoss would have danced with some of them if they could, but both of them were out of the action for the time being. Now Hoss wasn’t supposed to get hurt either. Joe had conveniently lost their lunch when they were out working that day. Then he made sure Hoss was late for dinner. The idea was that Hoss would be eating when Joe was already at the dance lining up his lady for dancing. But Hoss didn’t eat like he usually did. He said he had to help Adam get up on his horse and then to dismount at the dance. The real problem with that was that Hoss was weak with hunger by the time they rode into Virginia City, and when he helped Adam dismount, he lost his balance and fell hitting his head protecting his older brother from more injuries. Now he sat over on the side of the dance floor with a big white bandage on his head. White bandages must be a universal signal to women to please come sit with me. There had to be at least a half dozen or so gals who were making sure Hoss had plenty of food, drink, and company. Every now and then one of them would caress his cheek or hold his hand to soothe him. It seemed they were all outdoing themselves playing nurse to the gallant hero. None of them had a moment to spare for Joe, and when Joe saw his special gal over there, he had to have more punch.
Now none of this would have happened if his brothers had been in a more sharing mood at the last dance. The gal that Joe had been hoping to lead around the dance floor that night had set her sights on Adam who did nothing to dissuade her even though he knew that Joe wanted her. He smirked at least once an hour it seemed to Joe. Of course he could have been smiling at something the lady said but that really didn’t matter to Joe. He was sure his brother was enjoying being able to monopolize the evening of the gal Joe wanted. Then Joe thought he could dance with the other girl he had been seeing, but she had seen him ogling the one Adam had on his arm, so she asked Hoss to fill up her dance card just to spite Joe. He was absolutely certain that was what happened. The only conclusion he could draw was that he needed to hurt himself the day of the next dance. That was the plan. He decided to get a slip of paper and write that down because he had already had twenty-two of those little cups of punch, and there was a chance it might affect his memory. He was absolutely sure that was the only problem.
Ben came over to tell Joe it was time to leave. He told his Pa he didn’t think it was that late, and his Pa said it was late enough. Now what was that supposed to mean anyway? Joe was upset with his brothers and now with his Pa. Why couldn’t anyone let him have any fun, anyway? Well he threw out his arms as he stated his objections to his father’s order and just happened to hit ole Nate from the blacksmith shop. Nate demanded an apology so Joe told him he was sorry he had been standing too close and got himself hurt. That did it apparently for Nate because he swung. The next problem was that Joe ducked, and Ben took it right in the kisser. If there was a beautiful woman left in the room, she rushed to his father’s side with cool cloths to soothe the pain and all sorts of tender endearments for the patriarch of the Ponderosa. Nate wasn’t happy either, and he pushed Joe outside and up against the side of the barn where he gave him a few well placed blows. Then Roy came to see what all the commotion was and made Joe go over to the jail to pay a fine for disturbing the peace. Nate had to pay too but said he didn’t mind because he had done what he thought was right. Well eventually, they all managed to mount up on horses to ride home.
The next morning as all four nursed their aches and bruises, Joe wasn’t at all happy when Ben told him that he could do all the chores for the next week for all the trouble he had caused. Joe was certain his father was being terribly unfair and favoring his two brothers over him. He decided he would do the chores and work on a plan of revenge. Ben could see it in his eyes and warned him not to think about any kind of revenge. He doubted his words of advice to Joe did any good. They seldom did. Some boys never learn.
Other Stories by this Author
- Does He Like Women? (by BettyHT)
- You Have To Ask the Right Man (by BettyHT)
- First Kiss–Book Three: Joe and Ben (by BettyHT)
- The Jailbreak (by BettyHT)
- Lies and Losses (by BettyHT)