Remembering You (by Wrangler)

Summary:  This story was written to finally explain the death of Hoss Cartwright.

In her mind at the time, the author felt it should be addressed, since the television show chose not to explain the absence of that very pivotal character. You will probably be able to spot the lack of mangling, but, hopefully will like this peek back to where it all began.

Rated:  T  WC 11,000

 

Remembering You 

It seemed to be one of those days when both the weather and scenery cooperated and painted the morning beautiful. The crisp air came breezing into the bedrooms and did its part to awaken the sleeping Cartwrights.

Joe Cartwright lingered a few extra minutes by the window in his room to allow the fresh air to fill his lungs. There was something all too familiar in the scent of the wind. Something that caught his thoughts and sent an ache deep inside his soul. Joe shook his head and tried to forget what his mind was trying so hard to remember. There was a lot of work to be done this day, and there was no time for anything else. Joe quickly washed and dressed and made his way down the stairs.

“Good morning, Son,” Ben called across the room as Joe appeared on the bottom landing. He poured a cup of coffee and set it in front of Joe’s place setting. Joe took his seat over to the side of his father.

“Morning, Pa,” Joe replied and reached for the morning paper. “You done reading this?” he wondered. Ben smiled back amused.

“Yes—about an hour ago,” Ben replied implicating how late it was getting.

“I guess I’ll have to catch up on the world when I get back,” Joe said in between gulps of his coffee. “I should be up at the logging camp by now.” He put down his cup and headed for the front door. Ben followed close behind him.

“I’ll be in town most of the day. Why don’t you join me once you get done up there?” Ben offered.

“Sounds good to me, Pa, I’ll see you later,” Joe smiled and hurried out to work.

 

It was a little more than an hour’s ride up to the logging camp where Joe was to check on what progress had been made on getting enough railroad cross-ties for a big order which was due for shipment very soon. He usually enjoyed the ride up into the cool northernmost woods. It had always been a time for him to clear his head of problems or just enjoy the solitude. But, he eagerly hurried to the camp, not wanting time to reflect on anything other than the business of the day. Joe was afraid of where his mind would take him if he really stopped and thought on it.

Soon the shingled roof of the camp headquarters appeared through the pines. There was a young man standing on the porch and he waved as Joe approached.

“James has been waiting on you. He’s inside.”

“Sounds like trouble,” Joe replied frowning. He entered the cabin and noticed the foreman of the camp going over some papers. “Okay what’s the trouble?” Joe asked pulling up a chair and straddling it with his legs.

“Half the crew didn’t come back from town the other night and I found them at the jail yesterday. Guess from now on we ought to pay them monthly so they stay broke longer. Paying them every two weeks is too much temptation.”

“Did you get them all back?”

“Only the ones that could still walk,” James smiled amused. “The rest will be in for at least another week.”

“I’m sure Clem really appreciates us filling up his jail cells! I bet my father will get an earful today when he goes into Virginia City.”

“Getting back to our problem,” James cleared his throat “what do you suggest we do about our lack of workers?”

“There’s a half of a dozen men just sitting around at the ranch house –guess we’ll help them relieve the boredom until the cattle are ready to be herded down south.”

“Cowhands aren’t the best loggers,” James said as he lit his cigar.

“Well, you can show them the ropes can’t you?” Joe grinned.

“Yeah, I’ll show them all right,” James paused, “how about you giving us a hand yourself?”

“Me?” Joe laughed. “I’m just a cowhand–what do I know about those nasty old railroad ties?” Joe stood and started to leave.

“Hey, Joe!” James called and Joe turned from the doorway.

“What?”

“You reckon I’ll ever get one of those nice cushiony jobs like you have?”

“I hear they’re all taken,” Joe smiled “but I’ll let you know if anything comes up!” Joe left the room and James cussed under his breath.

 

After delegating the men for the logging job and checking on some other chores Joe turned his horse eagerly towards Virginia City. It was late afternoon already and the day seemed to have passed faster than usual. As Joe rode, that earlier feeling began to play in his mind. He slowed Cochise and looked off toward a grove of oak trees in the distance. He didn’t want to go over there. As much as he fought the desire to ride off in the opposite direction, he could feel it bidding him closer. Joe knew in his heart he needed to be anywhere but over there. Joe’s horse seemed to feel the indecision and stopped abruptly. Joe patted the pinto’s neck. “Not now,” Joe spoke as if the horse could understand. “Let’s go.” Joe kicked at the sides and sent Cochise into a gallop towards town again.

 

When Ben Cartwright finally spotted his son’s horse it was in front of the Bucket of Blood Saloon. Joe sat at a table towards the back. For the middle of the week the bar was unusually full. Ben bought a beer and took it over to his son’s table. Joe had been staring over at a poker game being played in back of him and didn’t notice his father as he approached.

“Is this seat taken?” Ben asked and Joe turned around.

“It’ll cost you,” Joe warned as Ben sat down.

“What now?” Ben frowned and took a drink of his beer.

“A week in San Francisco?” Joe questioned.

Ben shook his head “no”.

“Three days in Carson City?” Joe continued.

“No.”

“How about dinner and a few drinks?” Joe settled.

Ben thought for a few moments and replied, “dinner’s on me, the drinks are on you.” Ben signaled the bartender and he brought over two more beers. Joe frowned and handed the bartender a dollar.

“Let’s see—” Joe paused and leaned back in his chair “what’s the most expensive restaurant in town?”

Ben shook his head amused. “So, what’s going on up at the logging camp? Clem seems to have half the boys in his jail.”

“Everything’s all right, Pa. I got some of the other hands to go up there. I’ll check back later on this week.”

“You know the contracts call for all the ties to be ready by the sixteenth,” Ben remarked, a good amount of worry in his tone.

“I told you I’d make sure it was done, so don’t worry, okay?”

“I’m not worried,” Ben corrected. “It’s just that you have to stay on those boys up at the camp. You remember last year how much trouble you had?”

Joe looked over at his father and it was at that moment that Ben realized the mistake he had made. Ben looked down at the table and then back up at his son. “Last year Hoss was in charge up there wasn’t he?”

Joe nodded. Suddenly it was as if the atmosphere had changed. It became very quiet between both men. Joe usually had a way of joking his way out of even the worst situations, but he couldn’t find any words this time. After what seemed a very long time, Ben broke the silence.

“It’s getting kinda late. Why don’t we go get that dinner I owe you?”

Joe looked over at his father and though he knew neither of their hearts were in it, they would go and eat.

 

It was a lot later that night that Joe stood alone in his bedroom. He knew the feeling he had felt all day would just not go away. And so, he took the time to bring it into his mind again. Why do we go on pretending? Joe thought to himself. Like we’re really going to be okay, when we know we’ll never really be the same. Not without Hoss. Joe walked over to his bureau and to the picture of his brother Hoss. How can we ever make sense out of it, when it doesn’t make any sense? Joe took the picture over to his bed and sat down wearily. I’m so tired of pretending. Pa tries not to talk about it at all. Like if we don’t talk about it that it never really happened and you’ll be coming through that door– Joe could feel the tears course down his face and he brushed them aside. I wish Pa and I could talk–I thought that maybe now–it’s been almost a year–I thought we could talk about it. I just wish it had been me instead of you– Joe stood and walked over to the washbowl and rinsed his face. He decided he would go to sleep and close his mind, shutting out the past.

 

It was a few days later that Joe’s responsibilities brought him out to the main breaking corral. Spring round-up would begin in a few weeks which meant there would be the need for new horses. Joe stared out at the string of horses which would require breaking. He didn’t exactly feel anxious at the thought. But, with more of the hired hands up at the logging camp there was the need for his expertise here with the newer crew.

“Got one saddled and ready for you, Boss,” A young man smiled and pointed out a chestnut horse who was rearing up on it’s two back legs in protest.

Joe jumped off his spectator perch on the corral gate. He looked cooly at the kid. “Let me show you how it’s done, Boy,” Joe retorted, conceit in his statement.

He approached the stall and took a deep breath. Joe thought of what a big joke it had always been that everyone on the ranch thought him to be so calm when attempting to break such violent creatures. When, in actuality, Joe had always felt scared to death. Joe steadied himself as he climbed on the bucking stead. Then, it was like being in the middle of a storm and everything was flying. He could vaguely see the bystanders as he turned round and round with the horse. They want to see me fall on my butt, Joe thought to himself. He tried not to give them all the satisfaction. When the ride was finally over suddenly another cowhand approached to help with the horse. Joe managed a smug grin. “Nothing to it,” Joe stated calmly and sauntered proudly back to the others. He approached the young man who had chided him on earlier. “Your turn, Bill,” he smiled.

The afternoon went slowly, but they all took their turns and they were making headway. Joe decided it was time to check on other chores. Something quieter was in order now. As he headed for his horse, he heard a familiar whistle and turned around.

 

It had been almost three years since Joe had seen the peculiar grin which controlled the face of his friend Candy. The man approached Joe.

“Well, looks like those mean old horses are still giving you trouble,” Candy stated and dismounted.

Joe pushed back his hat and shook his head in wonderment. “I kicked up a little dust and look what appears!” Joe exclaimed as his face broke into a smile of welcome and the two men shook hands. “To what do we owe this unexpected pleasure?” Joe looked suspiciously at his friend. “You aren’t wanted by the law or something?”

“Not this month, no. Actually, I figured round-up would be here soon and your dad would need someone dependable–not like you or Hoss!”

Joe’s facial expression changed abruptly and he became quiet. Candy read the change.

“I say something wrong?” He asked bewildered.

“No,” Joe paused “I guess you didn’t have any way of knowing. We didn’t have any way of contacting you.”

“What’s wrong? Contacting me about what?”

“About Hoss,” Joe replied quietly “Candy, Hoss died last year.”

Candy stood stunned by the news. For some reason he expected everything to be just as it had been before. So many times he had thought about writing his friends or just appearing out of the blue. But, he had never got around to it.

“How, Joe?” He asked sullenly.

Joe felt uneasy. It didn’t seem the right time or place to get into it. “Let’s go get a drink,” he said and didn’t wait for a reply. Joe mounted Cochise and reined it towards Virginia City.

Virginia City was starting to come alive with week-ending cowhands. It was nearing six o’clock at night when both Joe and Candy tied the reins of their horses outside the saloon. With it being Friday night there was little chance for quiet conversation inside. But, there would be whiskey, and for that reason Joe walked through the saloon doors and approached the bartender.

Bruno looked over from the draft he was pouring and noticed Joe and smiled. “Who’s that you got there, Joe? Some new stranger to our town?” Bruno implied looking at Candy.

Candy broke into a grin. “Well, you haven’t changed, that’s for sure!” Candy said not at all flattering as he appeared to be checking out Bruno’s expanding girth.

Bruno patted his rotund belly. “Can’t tell I’ve gained a few pounds since you’ve been gone can you?” he laughed heartily. “What can I get for you two?”

“Give us a bottle and a couple of glasses,” Joe said and put his money on the bar. Joe and Candy took their drinks over to a table and sat down. Joe poured two glasses of the liquor and passed one over to his friend. “To old times,” Joe toasted.

Candy nodded and took a good long drink. Joe looked around and then back over to his friend who sat patiently waiting for Joe to tell him about Hoss.

“Candy, remember that time we were in here and Hoss came looking for us to help load the wagon with supplies? Remember how you tried to fake an appendicitis attack?”

Candy smiled and nodded. “Yeah, but as I remember you put me up to it!” he protested.

“Remember Hoss lifted you up and said he’d carry you off to the doctor’s office?”

“Yeah, and instead he carried me outside and dropped me into the horse trough. And as I recall, he came back in here and got you too!”

Joe laughed. “That’s right! And as I recall you and I ended up loading that whole wagon while Hoss sat here finishing our beers.”

Candy looked over at Joe who had stopped laughing.

“It seems like it was only yesterday,” Candy stated.

Joe poured another drink and tossed it down. “Sometimes it’s just as real to me as here and now,” Joe admitted. “Sometimes I think I’ll be sitting here and he’ll walk in and –” Joe’s voice trailed off as he choked with emotion. He looked at the whiskey bottle and decided it was the tonic he’d need to get on with telling his friend what had happened.

Candy waited patiently for Joe to open up to him. It was a very apparent, the pain on Joe’s face as he finally began his story. “It will be a year next week,” Joe started. “It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. It seems like only yesterday that Hoss and I were sitting here in this room making plans for a vacation. We were going to go down to Mexico just as soon as the trail-drive was over. We had it all planned, where we’d go and what we’d see,” Joe stopped long enough to take another drink. “But, we never made it. The next day he was gone.”

“How did it happen?” Candy pried further.

“It was a Thursday, and Pa had sent us back into town to get some papers over to his lawyer and we had some equipment coming in at the hardware store. So, we were going to check on that too. I should have gone to check on the equipment and Hoss should have gone to the lawyer’s office—then it all would have been different.” Joe stood and walked to the doorway and peered down the street. It was still light enough to see the road. “Something spooked a horse and it took off down that way,” Joe pointed towards the end of town. “The rider had fallen off but the horse was panicked and tore down the street so fast that people were jumping to get out of the way. That’s what Hoss saw moments before it happened.”

“The horse knocked him down?” Candy asked.

Joe shook his head. “He would have been all right, but he saw a kid in the path of the horse. He ran and pushed the boy just in time. Saved the kid,” Joe looked up through tears at his friend, “and got trampled in the process.” Joe walked back over to his bottle on the table. Candy sat down numbed by Joe’s descriptions. He drank another glassful of whiskey.

“Sounds just like Hoss,” he paused for a minute, “always worried about someone else.”

Joe nodded. “I made it to him before he died. You know what he said?”

Candy shook his head “no”.

“He said–take care of Pa, Lil Brother,–and don’t worry none about me–I’ll be fine.”

Candy stood up slowly and walked over to the bar for another bottle of liquor.

After a long silence Candy finally spoke. “How did your pa take it?”

Joe leaned back in his chair and for a moment it was a year ago in his mind. He remembered so clearly the long ride back to the Ponderosa that terrible afternoon…

After what seemed like days, Joe had finally reached the ranch house. He dreaded the task that lay before him. The doctor in Virginia City had urged Joe to stay in town and let someone else bring the news to Ben. Joe knew he had to be the one. Joe tied Cochise’s reins loosely around the front hitching post, knowing he’d be needing his horse soon to return to town.

As he entered the house it already began to occur to Joe how hard it would be from now on without his brother. His thoughts suddenly turned to his father’s loss and not just his own. How would he ever find the words? Before he had time to think about it, Ben’s voice called from the top of the stairs.

“Who’s there?”

Joe took a deep breath before he called back. “It’s me, Pa!”

“Joseph–” Ben returned, still upstairs. “Come on up here, I’m working on some inventory sheets.”

Joe slowly ascended the stairs and met his father at the door to his bedroom.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting you boys back for at least a couple of hours. Did you get those papers delivered all right?”

Joe didn’t reply. Instead he turned away from his father and walked over to the window. Ben could tell right away that something was dreadfully wrong. He approached his son.

“What is it, Joseph? What’s wrong?”

Joe’s voice broke as he replied, “Pa–there’s something I have to tell you–”

Ben grabbed Joe by the shoulders and forced his gaze. There were tears streaming down the young man’s cheeks. A coldness touched Ben’s heart as he read his son’s face. There could be no other reason for the total grief which had taken control of his son. Ben hesitated for a moment, afraid to hear that his intuition was correct. “It’s Hoss—what’s happened to him!” Ben demanded.

Joe looked up at his father and finally spoke the words. “Pa–Hoss is dead.”

Ben could feel his knees go weak, taking three steps backwards, he sat down abruptly on the bed. “No–not Hoss.” Ben found himself to be repeating over and over again, in total disbelief.

Joe walked over to his father and knelt down next to him resting his hand on Ben’s knee. “Pa—I’m so sorry–I wish to God it wasn’t true!” Joe sobbed.

“But, why? How could this have happened?” Ben asked looking directly at Joe.

“It was an accident–Hoss saved a boy who was standing in the path of a runaway horse—he saved the kid—but he was trampled–there wasn’t anything that anyone could do–” Joe could see the tenseness in his father’s jaw and saw the brave attempt he was making to stay strong.

“Where is he?” Ben asked quietly.

“In town,” Joe answered as his father stood back up.

“Will you get my horse saddled?” Ben asked turning away from his son.

Joe stood up and stared over at Ben. He wished he could have made it easier on him but there was not easy way to tell him that Hoss was gone. Joe could feel the distance taking over between them both. He left the room giving Ben a chance to be alone.

It was almost an hour later that Ben appeared out at the hitching post. He didn’t speak when Joe handed over the reins of his horse. Joe could see the redness which now surrounded his father’s eyes. They rode off into town.

 

The next day had been like a nightmare, people coming by to pay their respects and the funeral with all its formalities. But throughout the ordeal Ben held his composure and handled all the details himself. He had picked the grave site and he had chosen the Bible verses that Hoss would have liked. And, even though he tried to help, Joe was more of a bystander than a participant. After the last of the mourners had left that evening Ben finally appeared to be wearing down.

Joe brought in coffee from the kitchen and handed his father a cup. Ben accepted it without speaking. Joe undid his tie and sat down on the couch. The silence pounded against Joe’s ears and he prayed that his father would say something–anything! Finally, Joe decided he would start it off. “Hoss sure had a lot of friends—I think the whole town showed up–”

Ben looked over at his youngest son. “I wrote Adam, but he probably won’t get the letter for a month or more.”

Joe realized that they both were just talking to hear themselves talk. Nothing was touching on what they were feeling. Joe finally stood and faced his father. “Pa, I know this isn’t something that is going to go away—I know we’ll never get over this. But, we have to talk about it–”

Ben cut Joe off abruptly. “Joseph, we all have to deal with our own grief—and I really can’t talk about this right now. I’m sorry–” Ben stopped and hurriedly left the living room. He walked up the stairs and Joe could hear his father’s bedroom door close. The door closed, and so did all discussion about Hoss.

“Joe? I asked you how your father took the news about Hoss?” Candy tried to shake Joe out of his far away daze.

“When it happened he just stopped talking. He never really wanted to discuss it. I thought maybe it was just too much of a shock at first, but he hasn’t changed. He almost never brings up Hoss’ name, and if it does come up in a conversation he quickly changes the subject.”

“That doesn’t sound like your pa, Joe.”

“Sometimes I think he blames me,” Joe admitted sullenly.

“Joe, that’s crazy! Why would you think that?”

“If I had gone with Hoss–or if I was there at the end of the street instead of him maybe it never would have happened.”

Candy touched Joe’s arm. “You can’t think like that, Joe. It happened–for what ever reason–it happened and you didn’t have anything to do with it! Hoss made his choice when he pushed the kid down and risked his own life.”

“I keep waiting for Pa to open up and admit how he really feels—but he won’t. So, I go along with it, I play the game too.” Joe looked over at his friend and confessed, “this is the first time I’ve talked about this since it happened.”

Candy put his arm around his friend’s shoulder in a show of support. “Let’s have one more drink for the night and then we better get you home.” Candy poured a final drink and handed it to Joe. “This one’s to Hoss,” Candy toasted “a great brother and one hell of a good friend!”

Joe attempted a smile and touched glasses with his old friend.

 

There were no lights on at the ranch house when Joe and Candy finally arrived late that night. That was good news, as neither of the two of them were in much condition to carry on a serious conversation.

“Come on, Candy,” Joe said louder than he had intended, “you can stay in one of the guest rooms.” Joe tossed his gunbelt on the table by the front door as he entered the room and it slid down to the end, knocking a vase onto the floor. The glass shattered with a loud crash.

“Shush–” Candy called quietly to his friend.

Joe looked down at what remained of the vase and began laughing. “I never liked that stupid thing anyway. So, what’s an antique or two?”

“I think you’d better get upstairs before you do any more damage to the place,” Candy argued and his friend walked over to another table by the den where there sat a bottle of Ben’s favorite brandy.

“Let’s have a little night-cap,” Joe said pouring a glass. He wasn’t doing a good job of it, as most of it spilled onto the table instead of into the glass. Candy followed across the room.

“I think we’ve had enough, don’t you?”

Joe laughed and tossed down the brandy, just as a figure appeared at the top of the stairs.

“Who’s there?” Ben demanded as he looked down the flight of stairs.

“Just me, Pa,” Joe replied meekly. He watched as his father descended the stairs and turned towards both men.

First, Ben noticed the rather intoxicated state of his son, then he noticed who stood beside him. “Candy!” Ben called out surprised. “What in the world are you doing here?”

“Trying to stand up actually,” Joe chimed in amused. Ben himself, was not amused at all. He shook his head somewhat annoyed.

“Hello, Mister Cartwright. Guess it would be a shock to see us both here like this,” he inferred to their obvious drunken condition.

Ben was about to comment when he noticed the wreckage that lay on the floor by the front door. He walked over to it and bent down to retrieve a small piece of the once expensive vase.

“It was like that when we came in–” Joe started as he held back his laughter.

“You two go on and get some sleep. We’ll discuss this when you are both sober tomorrow morning,” Ben stated sternly.

“Sober yes, tomorrow morning–I’d rather doubt,” Joe whispered under his breath to Candy. Candy grinned back at him and Ben walked by the two of them shaking his head disapprovingly.

 

Breakfast was as good as Candy had remembered it at the Ponderosa. Even after a night of a little too much partying he could still eat his share and then some.

“Hop Sing, this is the best grub I’ve tasted in months,” Candy commented, and the cook smiled broadly and then walked back into the kitchen.

“So, you’ve had enough of wandering for the time being, huh?” Ben asked.

“Yes, sir, for the time being,” Candy smiled and as usual made the subtle hint that he didn’t know how long he’d stay. “So, I was hoping you could use another hand with the herd?”

Ben nodded his approval. “I told you a long time ago that you’ve got a job here whenever you want,” Ben confirmed Candy’s membership into the family.

At that moment Joe descended the stairs, and he looked close to as bad as he felt. He took a seat next to his friend. Hop Sing brought in a plate of food and set it in front of Joe. Joe pushed it away. “Coffee,” Joe stated weakly and his father sent him down a cup from the head of the table.

“Candy like Hop Sing food,” Hop Sing sang out disgruntled.

Joe stared over at Candy putting away food at a good rate of speed. He gave Candy an unfriendly smile to indicate his disapproval at his friend’s obvious good condition. Joe, himself, felt as though he might not live through the day. As if to confirm that, Ben cleared his throat.

“How nice of you to join us, Joseph. Tell me, did you sleep well?” Ben asked heavy of sarcasm.

Joe did not speak, he just shook his head to indicate that he had not slept.

“Good,” Ben smiled. “Then I’m sure you won’t mind telling me what brought on this incident?”

Joe looked back over at Candy, who offered no help.

“Well?” Be restated.

“Just celebrating my old friend’s return–that’s all there was to it, Pa,” Joe tried to sound believable.

“That’s just fine!” Ben said exuberantly. “Because there’s some more celebrating you both can do. Like getting finished with the horse-breaking, and there is about one hundred yards of fence that needs to be mended. I have all sorts of things to help you celebrate today!”

Joe looked weakly over at Candy and said, “welcome back.”

 

Both Joe and Candy decided they’d take the fence mending over the horse breaking any day, so they rode to a remote section of the Ponderosa where they would begin their work. As they took turns stringing the fence wire and nailing it into place, neither of them spoke much. After two sections were finished Joe walked over to the supply wagon and sat down.

“Break time already?” Candy called over to Joe.

Joe leaned back and took a drink from his canteen. “You can go on working if you’d like,” Joe replied casually.

Candy threw down his hammer and neared his friend. “What’s with you today? Too much celebrating?” Candy laughed.

“Yeah, I guess–I haven’t gotten that drunk in ages,” Joe answered rubbing the back of his neck. “As a matter of fact, I really haven’t gotten out that much lately. A trip to town once or twice a month, but usually it’s for business or a quick drink and then right back here to the ranch.”

“Well, now that I’m back, we’ll change all that,” Candy affirmed.

“I don’t know,–” Joe paused “Pa needs me to help more now. I’m in charge of a dozen different jobs right now. Including a big railroad order—that I’d better go check on by the way,” Joe suddenly remembered and stood up.

“Hey, Joe, you’re only one person–you know you can’t do the work of two men!” Candy reminded his friend.

Joe turned from his horse and said seriously, “Hoss always did.”

“You’re not Hoss,” Candy replied quietly.

Joe mounted his horse and didn’t look back at his concerned friend. “I’ll see you later,” Joe said and rode away.

 

The supper dishes had already been washed and dried and put away by the time Joe finally made it home that night. He walked into the house and noticed his father sitting in the living room talking to Candy. Joe undid his gunbelt and hung up his hat. He walked over to the couch and sat down exhausted.

“We were wondering when you’d get back,” Ben said. “Hop Sing waited dinner as long as he could.”

“That’s all right, I’m not really very hungry.” Joe looked over at Candy. “So, did you get all that fencing done?” he asked.

“Thought I’d save some for you, partner,” Candy grinned.

“Thanks,” Joe said and leaned his head back on the couch.

“Candy was just filling me in on all his travels,” Ben commented.

“Oh? Did he tell you about all the hearts he broke along the way too?” Joe asked sarcastically and Candy laughed.

“We wouldn’t have time for all that in one night,” he replied conceitedly.

Ben poured a cup of coffee and looked over at his son. “How are things going up at the logging camp?”

Joe frowned, he hoped he could keep the conversation away from business. “There was a little trouble, but it’ll be okay.”

“What kind of trouble this time?” Ben asked concerned.

“It’s not important, Pa,” Joe answered wanting to get off of the subject.

“Not important! What do you mean not important? Do you know how much time and money I have in those contracts, Joseph?” Ben countered agitated.

Candy looked over at Joe, who didn’t seem to appreciate his father’s outburst.

“Look, Pa–I know what I’m doing! If you don’t trust me then you can put someone else in charge!” Joe retorted with both hurt and anger in his response and written all over his face.

“You need to stay up there and keep your eye on what’s going on–”

Joe cut his father off in mid sentence, his temper mounting. “What do you want me to do? Move up there permanently?”

“I just want you to do your best–that’s all I’m asking of you!” Ben returned harshly.

“That’s exactly what I AM doing, Pa!” Joe fired back.

“Well, we didn’t have this much trouble last year–because Hoss–” Ben caught himself and turned towards the fireplace. Joe and Candy exchanged glances.

Joe stood up and walked slowly toward the staircase. He paused and turned back towards his father and said, “I’ll go back out there tomorrow and stay with them until the ties are delivered.”

Joe walked up to his room feeling totally despondent. He felt as though he had once again, as he had so often, proven he could not meet up to his father’s expectations of him. Candy saw Ben look over across the room as Joe disappeared up the stairs. He could feel the hurt still in the air. Candy couldn’t decide if he should say something or just excuse himself. Finally, choosing the latter, he left the room.

Ben sat in the living room a long while after the two had left. He hurt deep down. He hurt for himself, and he hurt for Joe. Never in his life had he felt so all alone. And, the worst part was that he just didn’t know what to do about it. He would have gone up to his son’s room to apologize, but he didn’t know what he could say to make things better. It had been so long since they had really talked that the closeness that they had forged over the years was no longer there.

 

Ben hoped that a full night’s sleep would help the situation. He walked up the stairs and to his room. Pausing at his bedroom door, he stared across the hall over to what had been Hoss’ bedroom. It was just as he had left it that last morning a year ago, Ben noticed as he entered the room. All of his son’s favorite possessions, though there wasn’t as many as most would imagine, were still in place. Most of those favorite things that his middle son cherished were his family and his friends. He had never desired anything fancy, Ben remembered sitting down on the bed. Maybe a new saddle or a pair of boots, but he’d be more apt to give even those away at the first opportunity to help someone else.

Ben surveyed the room. He knew it would soon be a year since he had been taken. Some dates he would never forget, no matter how much he wished he could. Ben left the room after a brief time, it was all he could take. He stared down at the end of the hall to Joe’s room. He hoped that there would be a time when they could both be as they had been before. But, in his heart, he didn’t know when he would ever be able to let go of the past.

 

The sun had not yet risen when Joe saddled his horse the next morning and made his way out to the logging camp. He was determined to get the order of railroad ties through on time.

The foreman of the camp was awakened as Joe entered the cabin.

“Joe? What in the devil are you doing here in the middle of the night?” James asked puzzled as he sat up in his bunk. Joe walked over to the table where the progress sheets were kept.

“It’s almost six, and I want everyone up and moving,” Joe responded.

James stood and walked across to the stove. “I can’t do nothing till I get some coffee in me,” he said groggily and lit the stove.

“We have three days and that’s all. I want those ties stacked and delivered to the rail-line in two,” Joe announced going over the papers.

The foreman lit a cigar and walked over to the table. “Now listen, we ought to have them done on the sixteenth, but no way can we get them done the day before!” he protested.

“I’ve had it with excuses and delays! Now, I want it done and that’s it!” Joe yelled standing back up.

James looked at Joe strangely. He had never seen this side of his friend. “What’s got you so riled up, Boy?” he asked.

“I’ll tell you what’s got me riled,” Joe paused, “I left you in charge, thinking you’d keep on top of these men. But, it’s been nothing but confusion around here ever since! No one accepts that I’m the boss around here—and that’s gonna change!”

“Okay, Joe, you’re the BOSS! Now does that make you feel better?” James said sarcastically.

Joe moved over towards James and looked the foreman squarely in the eyes. “Last year Hoss had trouble with this same crew, but he got everything done and done on time! Well, I want the same thing, and I won’t accept anything less.” Joe turned toward the door. James followed close behind.

“So that’s it, huh? You got to do as good as your brother?”

“Just get going! I expect everyone up and working in thirty minutes!” Joe fired back and then walked outside angrily.

At the same time, back at the ranch house, Candy had just come out of the kitchen with a cup of coffee as Ben walked down the stairs.

“Morning, Mr. Cartwright,” Candy smiled and sat down at the table.

“Good morning, Candy,” he replied quietly and sat down at the head of the table. He stared over at Joe’s place setting. “Has Joe come down yet?” Ben asked.

Candy shook his head. “I haven’t seen him.”

Hop Sing came out of the kitchen and started to put food in front of the two men.

“Keep something warm for Joseph, Hop Sing. He had a hard day yesterday and he might sleep for awhile.”

“Little Joe leave vely early this morning,” Hop Sing paused and shot an unkind look at Ben. He always seemed to know what was going on, and he was not happy about the lack of love showing between two of his favorite people in the world. “Told Hop Sing to tell you he be back in few days.” Hop Sing turned his back on Ben and walked into the kitchen.

Ben stared over to where Joe always sat at the table. He knew it was his fault that Joe had hurried to leave. Ben didn’t blame his son for wanting to avoid him. He had been putting too much on Joe and he regretted it.

Candy looked over at Ben, who seemed to be very far away in thought. “You want me to go give Joe a hand up there?”

Ben shook himself out of the daze. “Maybe that would be a good idea.”

Candy finished his breakfast and stood to leave. “You want me to tell Joe anything for you?”

Ben shook his head, “no’. Candy frowned and left the room.

 

At the camp later that afternoon James approached his boss, who stood untangling some logging equipment by the supply shack. “I got them down the road stacking the ties now,” he said and reached into the water pail for a drink. “There sure are a lot of ties. We’re gonna need at least one more wagon than we thought. You want to go back to the ranch house and get one?”

Joe looked over at the foreman. “Send one of the others. I want to keep my eyes on the men.”

James frowned and walked away. He had hoped to get rid of Joe, at least for a couple of hours. Joe had been getting the job done, all right, but the men were ready to either drop or quit.

Candy spotted his friend walking down the grade to where the ties were lining the road. He rode his horse up alongside Joe and said, “How’s your army doing, Captain?”

“What are you doing here?” Joe wondered. “Pa didn’t send you did he?”

“I volunteered!” Candy exclaimed. “You didn’t think I was gonna stay back there and break those mean old horses by myself did you?”

Joe shook his head. “Well, since you’re here, grab a tie and get some work done.” Joe walked over to where three men were sitting under a tree. “What’s going on here?” Joe asked madly.

“Just taking a little break, Joe,” one of the men answered. “We’ve been stacking these damn things all day and we’re about give out. You know you have us doing two days work in one!”

“Yeah I know you are doing two days work–but if you all had been busting it out all along you wouldn’t be so far behind! I’m working just as hard as you are, and I’m tired too. I want to get these delivered tomorrow so that means we’ve got to get them all on the wagons today. So come on!”

“Remind me never to work for you again, Joe!” one man yelled over to his boss.

“Only if YOU remind ME never to hire you either!” Joe called down to the man as he walked away.

Joe turned and saw Candy tackling a rather large tie by himself. He walked over to help. “Don’t throw your back out today,” Joe paused and grinned at his friend “wait until the job’s done THEN injure yourself!”

The two men worked together for hours loading ties onto the wagons that were filling up.

 

James had taken it upon himself to fetch the wagon from the ranch house barn. It was almost dark when Ben heard a rider outside. He walked to the front door and pulled it open. “James!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here? Some kind of trouble?”

James entered the house. “We just need another wagon for the ties.”

“You’re not ready to deliver them already?” Ben asked confused.

“Well, we wouldn’t have been, but Joe’s been up there all day riding the men. I don’t agree with his reasoning, but he is getting more out of them than I could!” James admitted.

“He’s pushing pretty hard, huh?” Ben asked.

“Yes, sir. I don’t know why—I told him that we’d have them delivered on the due date, but he wants them a day ahead of time.”

Ben remembered back to the conversation that Joe and he had the night before. He knew that his son was out to prove to him that he could handle things just like Hoss could. “I’ll help you get the wagon ready,” Ben muttered and they walked into the barn.

 

Candy handed Joe a cup of coffee and they both sat down stiffly inside the foreman’s cabin.

“All we have is that last wagon load and then we can get the ties delivered, probably by noon tomorrow.” Joe said gladly.

“You know I expect to find half of the men dead tomorrow,” Candy quipped.

Joe laughed. “Oh, they’ll be okay after a few months!”

Candy turned suddenly serious. “You did this because of your pa, didn’t you?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Joe answered flatly.

“That’s just great, Joe! You and your Dad are growing more alike each day. He doesn’t talk about anything either. Sure, you’ll both keep the ranch going—while your family goes to Hell!” Candy yelled.

Joe stood up. “I don’t want it this way–you know that! But, you’ve seen the way he is! How can I get through to him?”

“You’re not much better, Old Buddy,” Candy commented.

Joe shot the other man a sharp look. “What the hell do you mean by that?”

“You let him get away with it! You never challenge anything he says.”

“He expects me to handle things—that’s not asking too much is it?” Joe replied defensively.

“He expects you to handle things the way Hoss would–and that IS asking too much!” Candy argued, trying his best to get through to his friend.

Joe sat down sullenly. “Maybe that’s because Hoss was better at doing everything. Everyone stood in awe of him. I know I did! He was so strong, so good at getting the best out of you. He was a whole lot smarter than anyone gave him credit for too. Pa really depended a lot on him. And why not? He was always the dependable one! You could always count on him!”

Candy took a seat next to Joe. “We both know how good Hoss was. But, you can’t take his place–you know that! You are good at a whole lot of things—–and you’ve always been there for your father too!”

“Sometimes I really think that I’ll never measure up—that Pa will never accept me for myself.” Joe walked over to the bunk. “We’ve got a full day of work tomorrow, Candy. Better get some sleep. Goodnight.” Joe whispered to let his friend know he couldn’t talk about the situation any more.

 

Just as planned, the shipment of railroad ties were delivered the next day at noon. Joe stood at the rail line headquarters with the man he was to turn them over to.

“There’s about twenty extra,” Joe stated as he signed the delivery receipt.

An older man with gray hair and thick glasses looked over the shipment and replied, “extra ties and a day early at that! You tell Ben how pleased I am. We’ll be sure to use you and your crew the next time we need ties.”

Joe returned the smile and said, “we’ll be glad to cut you some more any time–but give my men at least a month to recuperate, okay?” Joe laughed as he stared over at the faces of several of his workers. He put the copy of the receipt inside his jacket and shook the man’s outstretched hand. “See you again, Mr. Tippens.” Joe turned and made his way over toward James. “Listen, tell the boys they did good for me, will you?”

“All they want is to go into town and soak up some beers, Joe.”

“Well, you go on with them, and tell Bruno to put it all on my tab. Tonight’s all on me.”

James smiled and patted Joe’s shoulder, releasing his earlier frustration. “Joe, didn’t know you had THAT much money!” He exclaimed with a wink.

“Go on–get out of here!” Joe insisted. James signaled the crew to follow him and they turned their horses towards Virginia City.

Joe walked over to Cochise, where Candy stood waiting. “Well, you did it,” Candy announced proudly and Joe nodded.

“We all got it done,” Joe reaffirmed. “Aren’t you going into town with the rest of the men, Candy?”

“Actually I was wondering the same thing about you.”

Joe shook his head. “There are still a couple of things I have to do today—maybe I will tomorrow.”

“What kinds of things?” Candy asked confused. “You got those blasted ties delivered a day ahead of time—don’t you think you deserve a little time away from work?” he protested.

Joe mounted his horse. “Do some celebrating for me today–okay?”

Candy shrugged his shoulders as Joe rode off. He decided that all the problems between Joe and Ben would not just go away without a little help. He mounted his horse and turned and rode off towards the Ponderosa.

 

“I thought Joe would be with you, Candy?” Ben asked as he stood from his desk at the ranch house.

“Joe decided that he had some more work to do.” Candy stopped abruptly and tried to get it in his head what he was going to say next. “Mind if I pour myself a drink?” Candy asked trying for a way to break the ice with his boss.

Ben walked over to the brandy and poured Candy a drink. He could sense that the man had something on his mind. “Did you want to talk to me about something?” he asked handing Candy the glass.

“Yes, sir—I did. I know it’s probably none of my business—but I want to talk to you about Joe.”

Ben walked over to his favorite chair by the fireplace and slowly sank down on it’s cushion. “What is it that you want to say?” Ben responded quietly.

“I just can’t stand to see you both like this—it’s just not like you–like either of you! You’ve always been such a close family! Why are you both avoiding each other? Joe thinks it’s because of Hoss—is that true?”

“What has Joseph told you?” Ben asked, surprised that Candy had come to the point so bluntly.

“He told me that things haven’t been the same between the two of you ever since Hoss’ death.”

Ben stood and faced the fireplace, staring into the flames. It was minutes later that he finally spoke. “Does he really think anything will ever be the same without his brother?” Ben questioned, a great deal of pain in his voice.

“No, in fact he’s been out there killing himself trying to forget that Hoss won’t be coming back!”

“I just don’t know what to say, Candy,” Ben turned back around. “I know it hasn’t been easy on him—”

Candy cut Ben off harshly. “Well, you’re not making it very easy! Why do you keep putting so much on him? He’s only one man and he’s been doing the work of at least two!”

“I just don’t know how to talk to him any more. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t.”

Candy stood and put his hand on Ben’s shoulder, offering what comfort he could. He could see the desperation written all over the man’s face and at that moment Candy felt more like a member of the family and not just an employee. “I know how much you must miss Hoss,” Candy paused again. “But, isn’t it about time that you and Joe confront your feelings about his death?” Candy asked pleadingly.

Ben looked over at Candy, sadness controlling his face. “I think I could use some fresh air,” he said and walked towards the front door to retrieve his hat.

“I think Joe is down at the breaking corral,” Candy called over to Ben in the hope that the man would go to his son. He prayed that was Ben’s reason for the quick get away.

Ben turned and left the house without a reply.

 

It was almost dusk when Joe reluctantly made his way down to the grove of oak trees that surrounded the property where his brother Hoss was buried. He really didn’t want to be there, and he had fought the urge to turn back with each step of the way. Joe hadn’t been to the grave since the day of the funeral, he just couldn’t bring himself to believe it was all true. But, the following day would mark a whole year since the tragedy had happened. He felt it was something he should do out of respect.

Joe approached the granite headstone which bore his brother’s name and his nickname. He stood a few moments in silence and then began talking out loud. “I guess this is customary,” Joe said and placed some wild flowers on the grave. “As you can see I’ve gone to a lot of trouble for you,” Joe referred to the flowers. “You know I don’t have a lot of time anymore—especially no time for picking flowers! You sure left me holding the bag—I don’t have any time to goof off any more! Not that it would be any fun without YOU to irritate!”

Joe started to feel the tears welling up in his eyes. “Why did you have to go and be a hero!” he yelled. “You weren’t supposed to die—don’t you know that you were supposed to be indestructible? How could you leave me? We were the ones who would keep the Ponderosa going—how can I do it by myself?” Joe kneeled down and wiped the leaves off of the headstone. “Sometimes I really hate you, you know? Sometimes I wish you knew how many lives you’ve messed up by saving that kid! Maybe he would have gotten out of the way in time—maybe he wouldn’t have been hurt bad. But, no, you had to save him!”

Joe broke down at last. He had held the tears in as long as possible and now there was no stopping them. “I miss you so much, Big Brother! Why couldn’t you have been a little less concerned about others and a little more concerned about yourself?” Joe questioned angrily. Joe stood back up again and finally admitted, “I guess you did what you thought you had to. You know you told me to take care of Pa? It’s just not that easy anymore. He misses you so badly–he can’t even bring himself to admit it to me. Things just aren’t the same here without you. I don’t know how any of us can get along without you to help us make some sense out of this crazy world!”

Joe began to leave, but turned back towards the grave when he remembered he had something else to tell his brother. “I know I never told you—you know the way I am—I just never got around to saying the words. But, I love you, Hoss, and I’ll never forget you—never!” Joe wiped his eyes on his jacket sleeve. He felt so terribly empty deep inside his heart and soul. Like the best part of himself was gone forever. Joe took one final look at his brother’s grave and turned away. The bereaved brother never spotted the buckskin horse, nor its rider, which looked down at him from their perch on the ridge over- looking the grave. Mounting Cochise, Joe rode off in the opposite direction.

 

It had been a long day and as Joe stabled his horse late that night, he thought only about getting into his bed. He felt physically drained and emotionally spent. So, when he noticed his father’s presence in the living room he hoped there wouldn’t be much more to their conversation, other than finding out about the shipment of railroad ties.

“I thought you might have gone into town,” Ben commented as Joe removed his jacket and hat and walked over to the fireplace.

“No, I didn’t feel like going there tonight.” Joe stretched his hands out toward the fire and warmed them. “Did Candy tell you about the ties?” he asked, never looking directly at his father.

“Yes. I didn’t expect them to be delivered until tomorrow.”

“Well, there was no sense delaying it any further,” Joe returned quietly.

“Is that the only reason that you got them done today, Joseph?” Ben pried.

Joe turned toward his father, staring into his eyes at last. He wondered how he would react to the complete truth. Joe decided to hit him with it head-on. “No, Pa, that wasn’t the only reason. Of course I knew how concerned you were about me getting the job done, but it wasn’t the main reason—” Joe paused and swallowed hard. “I didn’t want to be involved with business tomorrow.”

Ben knew what his son was getting at. If they were to try to resolve the gap in their relationship, Ben supposed now was as good a time as any. “I never should have let the shipment be due on that date,” Ben confessed sadly and Joe looked over at him, surprised to hear him admit it. “I’m sorry if it put too much on you, Joseph. As a matter of fact, I guess I’m sorry for a lot of things I’ve done lately.” Ben neared his son. “I think it’s about time that we talked. Come over here and sit down will you please?” Ben asked quietly and walked over to the couch. Joe hadn’t expected this at all. He appeared to be somewhat stunned as he followed his father and took a seat next to him.

“I really don’t know how or where to start—” Ben fought to control his voice, the emotion filling his tone. “It’s almost as though I’ve been in a daze ever since your brother’s death. I guess the reason that I haven’t been able to talk to you—is because I haven’t been able to accept his death myself. I’ve been through grief many times, but this time—it was far too close—far too sudden. One minute Hoss was here, the next minute I’m in town with you claiming his body,” Ben stopped abruptly and Joe stared into his eyes.

“I know how bad it feels, Pa. The feeling that it was all too soon—that we never got to say what we wanted to.”

Ben nodded. “Even now I can’t help thinking that the door over there is gonna open and we’ll hear the heaviness of his boots as he makes his way over to the table.”

Joe’s expression showed great surprise to hear his father sharing the very same thoughts he had experienced every single day. The thought that his brother was surely going to return, just as before, haunted Joe day and night. Hearing his father say the same thing to him now, was something he really needed to hear.

“Why couldn’t we talk like this before, Pa?” Joe asked, filled with regret over all of the time that they had kept their feelings from each other. “I wanted so much to talk to you—to share this with you.”

“Because, Joseph, until today I guess I never really thought about how bad you were hurting yourself,” Ben apologized as he reached for Joe’s arm. He could feel the awkwardness of touching his son and it pained his heart. Ben had never felt uncomfortable in the past in showing his affection, but the year spent holding back from Joe had taken its toll on their relationship. There before him sat his youngest child, now a man. Joe had gone from being the baby of the family to only son all in one day. With his oldest brother, Adam, living a new life in England, it left Joe now as sole heir to the Ponderosa. It also meant that all of the responsibility had fallen on him, and he was showing the signs that he was caving under the weight of it all. “Candy told me how you were doing your best to take on the whole load—I never meant to put it all on you. Maybe I was expecting you to fill your brother’s shoes—I don’t know.”

Joe shook his head. “I never even thought I could fill his shoes, Pa. Hoss was better than I will ever be. I know I can never take his place, no matter how hard I try.”

Ben could feel the tears stinging his eyes after hearing what his son had conveyed. He could read the remorse on Joe’s face at having not lived up to what his brother had been in life. “Listen to me, Joe, I don’t want you to! I love you just as deeply as I loved your brother Hoss. You are just as special to me in your own way, as he was in his.” Ben forced his gaze on his son. “If you try to be the same as Hoss, then I will lose the part of you that makes you Joe!”

The statement, coming off with his father’s love, melted the wall which had existed between them both for such a long time. Joe, feeling so relieved to know that he was not expected to measure up to his brother, reached for his father. Ben hugged onto his son.

“I am so sorry I pushed you away, Son,” Ben whispered as tears drifted down from his eyes.

“I was so worried, Pa—so worried that you blamed me–” Joe broke down and sobbed. Once the block was off, all of his pent up hurt came pouring out. There was no stopping it now.

Ben pulled Joe back so that he could stare into his sad green eyes. “Oh, Joseph!” Ben exclaimed, ashamed of his own behavior over the past year. “You didn’t think that! Oh—no—I never ever thought that, Son. I am so sorry if I somehow put that notion in your head—-”

“If only I had changed jobs with him—then it wouldn’t have happened!” Joe insisted and then, the weight of that statement hurt him so bad he clung to his father again. He was not at all sure if it was his father who had made him feel like he was the one to blame, or whether it had only been caused by his own guilt feelings.

“You are no more to blame than I am—I sent you two into town that day. If anyone is to blame it’s me.”

“No, Pa—it wasn’t your fault!” Joe protested, gripping his father’s arm to get his point across.

“And it wasn’t yours either.” Ben nodded and sighed wearily. “It happened, it will probably never make sense to us I am afraid. Your brother happened to have one bad flaw—he loved others more than he loved himself. But, then, that was him. His heart was bigger than his whole body. He died the same as he lived, thinking about everyone else.” Ben closed his eyes and tried his best to let go of some of his grief. He knew that he would always hurt, and most likely so would Joe. But, now, he had to patch the relationship there in front of him. It was not fair that he had put his son second to his own grief for a year, and Ben knew Hoss would not want that either.

“I’ve missed you,” Joe whispered as he felt his father’s hand caress the back of his head, just as he use to do when he was a child.

“I’ve missed you too,” Ben replied.

The two men sat there in the living room for a long while trying to hold on to the moment, each of them drawing strength and courage from each other. As the tears started to finally ease up, Joe spoke, “ So? What do we do now? How are we going to get through this, Pa?”

Ben patted his son’s arm as he pulled himself up off of the couch. “Do you think Hoss would like us sitting here crying over him?”

“No–not Hoss! I don’t think he’d like that one bit,” Joe replied thinking of his brother. He wouldn’t have liked the idea that he had caused his family so much pain.

“Then let’s not.” Ben nodded.

“But, I want to talk about him, Pa! Because when I talk about Hoss it’s almost like he’s still here. That’s what I’ve missed so much,” Joe confessed “talking about him. It’s like it keeps him alive in my mind.”

“I like remembering and talking about him too—but let’s talk about the good times tonight, okay?” Ben asked.

Joe managed a smile and nodded his head. “There were a lot of good times, Pa!” Joe announced.

“Well, we have all night,” Ben returned his son’s smile “and I don’t have any plans for tomorrow either.”

“No plans tomorrow, Pa?” Joe asked prying.

Ben caught on to what his son had in mind. He knew Joe would want to go with him to his brother’s grave now that they had opened up to each other at last. “Yes, Joseph. We’ll go on out there tomorrow. I think your brother won’t mind that little bit of sentimentality.—But, tonight we remember Hoss as he was, all right?”

Joe stood and walked over to the brandy on the table in his father’s study. He poured two drinks and brought them over to Ben. “Here,” Joe said handing his father a glass. “Now–you remember that time that Hoss bought the gold detector?” Joe grinned at the thought of one of his brother’s great escapades.

“Which one?” Ben laughed. “Weren’t there several of them?”

Joe continued with his story, which was followed by many many more, told by both him and Ben. And, as they shared the memories, and laughter filled the room for the first time in so long, it was as if a gentle giant of a man sat there with them and laughed right along.

 

The end

Written for Mom and Hoss 1986

 

Pre Wrangler

(Before anything is mentioned in email to the author, she acknowledges that she purposely left out the character of Jamie. Both pre-Wrangler and Wrangler never could emotionally handle the fact that Joe was not the youngest son according to the television series, and took it upon themselves to play with those facts. Also, we did have Adam ending up in England, but, it was as good a place as any in the author’s mind.)

 

Tags: Ben Cartwright, Joe / Little Joe Cartwright, grief

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Author: Wrangler

6 thoughts on “Remembering You (by Wrangler)

  1. What a wonderful story! So sensitive and so real!!! I suffered a lot reading, but Loved it so much!!
    Ps: I neither could not admit other son more younger than Joe!

  2. Grief is difficult to climb through the hurt and the fog, but when you really try, the tears will propel you to remember the good times. And with the memories, the loved ones will always be with us.

    Wonderful telling.

  3. 1986 . . 30 years ago. I did not know at the time that there was a such thing as fan fiction or that people were writing stories about my favorite TV show. I enjoyed the stories; the emotions and the explanation. Great job!

  4. So good. So much to be worked through after such a loss, and it was bound to be difficult for the two of them. Makes sense that they would need an outside push.

    Thanks for writing!

  5. I didn’t realize there was a pre-wrangler and I was very surprised by the date this story was written. I read this story many years ago, and I enjoyed reading it again this time.

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