Summary: Hoss and Little Joe go fishing…or do they?
Word Count: 988
Someday We’ll Be Together
“You coulda picked a better spot,” muttered a voice I knew better than my own.
Cracking open an eye, I peeked out from under the low-slung brim of my stetson, and saw a frown marring my companion’s usually cheerful face. “Whaddaya mean?” I gestured around at the beautiful glade we were sitting in with my right hand; my left was occupied with a cane pole, the end of which hung well out over the calm waters of a large pond. “I thought you liked this place?”
“Of course I do,” he replied, “but you chose a piss-poor time of day to sit here of all places.”
I glanced down, nonplussed, at the rocky ledge we were both perched upon. When he noted my confusion, he sighed and then asked, “Where’s the sun?”
“In the sky?”
He gave me a look that said I was clearly dumber than a fence post. “It’s on the back of yer neck, idjit.”
“I see,” I said, but I still didn’t understand what he was getting at, and he could tell.
“We’re both castin’ big shadows over the water. Now, fish may not be the smartest critters in the world, but they ain’t stupid. If they see a man-shaped dark spot, they’re gonna steer clear of it, which means that we ain’t gonna catch a darn thing unless we find ourselves another place to park our behinds, preferably somewhere with the sun in our faces.”
I pulled my line out of the water, checked to see that the bait was still in tact, and then lazily cast it out again in a different spot. “Well, maybe I don’t care if I catch anything or not,” I said.
A bead of sweat rolled down between my shoulder blades. It was hotter than the gates of hell, but a strong feeling of lethargy kept me from rising to seek out the shade of a nearby tree. Somewhere close by a fly bumbled through the air, buzzing along on its merry way. The heavy scent of wildflowers and sun-baked earth clouded my senses. Leaning back, I felt the pole dip as my grip on it loosened. My eyes closed; sleep was not far off.
“You can’t stay here,” my companion said.
“But I want to,” I slurred.
“I know I told ya someday we’d be together again, but today ain’t that day. Ya got a lot more livin’ to do. Now, get up,” he insisted.
“I can’t. ‘M too tired. ‘M tired of it all. I juss wanna stay here and rest.”
“I ain’t foolin’. You gotta go. You gotta go right now. Do ya hear me, Shortshanks?”
Without warning, a big, careworn hand gripped my right forearm tightly, sending a shock wave of intense pain down my limb; my eyes shot open and I cried out in agony. “Joseph Francis Cartwright, you get up this instant! He’s a-comin’ and there ain’t no time to waste!”
He pulled me into a bone-crushing hug, then pushed me away. “I love ya, little brother. I always will. Now go! Go on, now; git!”
Everything around me started to shimmer as the sunlight grew brighter and brighter. Tears pricked in my eyes as I tried to shield them from the blinding light.
“Get on up, now, Joe.”
Get on up.
I gasped in a lungful of dust, and instantly began to cough. The merciless sun beat down on me as if trying to pound me back into the stuff that man was made from.
“Hoss,” I croaked, nearly choking on the name that hadn’t passed my lips for almost a year. Lifting my head, I glanced about through half-lidded eyes; the glade, the pond, and my big brother were nowhere to be seen. Instead, I lay in the middle of a ghost town’s deserted main street. I was alone.
He was just an illusion, a figment of my over-heated brain. The thought sent a pang through my heart. I wanted to look into those Tahoe-blue eyes and see that gap-toothed grin once more, but I wouldn’t, not until I breathed my last. Dying wouldn’t be so bad if it meant spending eternity with Hoss.
It was tempting, oh so tempting to just lay my head back down and give up. And I was on the verge of doing just that when an eerie noise reached my ears.
Whistling what? The hot wind shifted and the song became as clear as a tolling bell.
Dread pooled in the hollow of my empty stomach.
And he was close. Too close.
Memories of the past several hours flooded to the forefront of my brain. The deranged man, the twisted game of cat and mouse, and running, so much running…it all came back to me. Death no longer held the appeal that it had a few seconds ago. In fact, I couldn’t get to my feet fast enough.
My broken arm throbbed heavily, but I did my best to ignore it. I had to get away and fast. Scanning the buildings, I looked for somewhere to hide. There had to be a way for me to get out of this alive.
The glimmer of an idea began forming in my mind; it was what Hoss would have called “harebrained”, but it was the only thing I could think of, and there wasn’t time for me to come up with a different one.
The ominous whistling was nearer now. Another minute or two and he would be within sight.
“Go on, boy. Run!” Hoss’ voice echoed in my mind.
He didn’t have to tell me twice. With what little strength remained in me, I turned in the direction of the jailhouse.
“God, if You’re listening, please let this work,” I whispered.
Then I ran towards the building.
Bill Tanner was coming, and he was coming for me.
~ Finis ~
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.
Author Notes: If you did or did not recognize the name Bill Tanner, he was the lunatic corporal who chased after Joe in the final Bonanza episode, The Hunter.
This was written for another Bonanza Ballads writing prompt on Bonanza Boomers. My song title that I was supposed to write a story based off of was “Someday We’ll Be Together” and the artist, Diana Ross and the Supremes.
Other Stories by this Author
- Someday Never Comes (by Annie K Cowgirl)
- What Do You Want in A Man (by Annie K Cowgirl)
- My Dearest Husband (by Annie K Cowgirl)