Summary: A WHIB for the episode The Jury. Adam and Hoss have another heart to heart. This one would take place before the one in the episode, but after the scene where Adam comes home with a busted fist.
Word Count: 959
Author Notes: This was written for Bonanza Ballads #11 on Bonanza Boomers. I was given the song title “Everybody’s Wrong” by Buffalo Springfield and instantly this episode came to mind. After all, we can never have enough HAM (Hoss/Adam Moments).
*Hjalmer Olson’s brother is never mentioned by name in The Jury–trust me, I checked–so I gave him one.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
by Annie K Cowgirl
“I take it from the look on your face that jury duty didn’t go well.” Adam said, plopping down next to me on the front stoop.
“You could say that,” I mumbled. I carved off a good chunk of bark from the piece of wood in my hand with my pocket knife. Whittling had always had a way of calming me down; however, this time it didn’t seem to be working. If anything, I was more on edge than I had been three hours ago when I’d left the courthouse for home. “Never figured I’d become a pariah in my own town just for sticking up for what I believe in.”
My older brother pulled off his dust-covered stetson and ran his fingers through his hair. “Yeah, well, Aksel* Olson was a well-liked, well-respected member of the community; you can’t blame folks for wanting to bring the man responsible for his death to justice. And you not agreeing with the rest of the panel has just…”
“Stirred up the hornets’ nest?”
He grinned crookedly at me and replaced his hat on his head. “I was thinking more along the lines of throwing grease on a house fire, but the hornet analogy works too.” Picking up a sliver of wood from my pile of shavings, he started scraping dried mud from the sole of his left boot. “Give it a little time, and things will settle down again. They won’t hate you forever.”
“So long as I change my vote to guilty, that is.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“No, but you implied it.”
He glanced up at me, dropping the shaving. “Look, Hoss, everybody believes that Jamie Wrenn killed Aksel.”
“Well everybody’s wrong!” Suddenly, the stick in my hand broke and the blade of my knife dug into the end of my thumb. “Dadburnit!” Instinctively, I moved to put the injured digit into my mouth, but Adam stopped me.
“Hey, don’t do that, it’ll get infected.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a bandanna and began wrapping it around the wound. For some odd reason, Adam never went anywhere without a freshly laundered handkerchief. Must’ve been the Northern blood in him.
“Thanks.” I murmured as he tied off the ends of the cloth.
“Don’t thank me yet, you still need to clean that cut out or you’ll run the risk of possibly losing that thumb altogether.”
“Well, if you’re a good boy, I’ll be sure to buy you some penny candy the next time I’m in town,” he said, sarcasm dripping from every word.
I fiddled with the bandage for a minute and then sighed. “I don’t know what to do, Adam. The man’s entitled to a fair and impartial trial, but how’s he gonna get that if the entire town believes him to be guilty just because he’s a trouble maker?”
“That’s not the only reason they think he did it, Hoss, and you know it. You need to weigh the facts that were laid out before you.”
“That’s just it, the evidence is circumstantial at best. We’re trying him due to the eye-witness testimony of one man, and that man happens to be the brother of the victim.”
“What are you trying to say? Do you think Hjalmer lied?”
“I don’t know…maybe. All I’m saying is that he’s biased. Now, maybe he saw what he saw and maybe he didn’t; it was awful dark that night…but that isn’t the only thing nagging at me. When they arrested Wrenn, he didn’t have the stolen money on him, and he was caught not long after the crime was committed.”
“So, where’s the money? He sure didn’t have the time to stash it anywhere. I also wanna know how that stolen bill ended up in my pocket, cause I didn’t steal it, and I sure as shootin’ didn’t take no bribe.”
Adam scratched his jaw where stubble was already growing, even though he had shaved earlier in the morning. “Yeah, you’d think the townsfolk would have more sense than to accuse you of taking a bribe. Aside from Pa, you’re the most honest person I know.”
I glanced at him sideways. “I won’t tell Little Joe you said that.”
“Very funny. But Hoss, I can’t tell you what to do. This is your choice, and yours alone. No man can make it for you.”
“I know that. Look, I just need someone in my corner, all right? The whole town is against me, pa’s not saying anything, and if anyone can understand what I’m going through right now, it’s you.”
“Because of Toby Barker and Bill Enders,” he said softly, and I nodded.
“I believed you. It may have seemed impossible for a body to make it from Goat Springs to Virginia City in less than two hours, but I didn’t for one second think you were lying about Enders. All I’m asking is for you to believe me the same way I believed you, that’s all.”
“Okay,” he nodded his head.
“All right then.” I slapped the palms of my hands against my thighs.
“Watch what you’re doing, Missouri Mule,” he said, noticing the hiss that escaped my lips when my injured hand suddenly twinged. “I don’t see how me being on your side helps things; you’re still no closer to knowing what to do than you were before.”
“True, but there is one thing I do know.”
He raised a brow at me and I continued. “The next time Roy asks me to sit on a jury, I’m gonna ignore him and just keep right on steppin’.”