Ben’s Boy Hoss (by DJK)
One ~~~ Giving
“Hoss, where’s your jacket?”
Hoss cleared his throat and then replied, “I’m wearing a jacket, Pa.”
“Where is your new jacket?” Ben Cartwright’s voice deepened slightly.
“My new jacket, Pa?” Hoss delivered his query in a faintly quivering voice.
“Yes, your new jacket. The one I bought you less than three weeks ago.” A tinge of impatience had crept into Ben’s tone.
“I thought I’d wear this one today, Pa.”
“That jacket is too small for you to button; that’s why I bought you a new one.”
“I don’t need to button it today, Pa; it ain’t that cold.” The quiver in his voice had grown, and Hoss’s eyes were fixed firmly on the floor at his feet.
Ben stiffened, and the volume of his words rose, “Hoss, I asked you where your new jacket is. Now tell me where it is and why you are not wearing it.”
Hoss swallowed convulsively. “Well, Pa, I don’t rightly know exactly where it is.”
“YOU DON”T KNOW! Do you mean to tell me you’ve lost that jacket already!” Ben’s voice lashed out, and his son flinched at the sound.
“No, no, I ain’t lost it, Pa. It ain’t lost.” Hoss’s eyes had begun to shimmer with tears, and he shifted nervously from one foot to another.
Ben drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. In a lower volume, he demanded, “Tell me exactly what has happened to that jacket, Eric, and tell me now!”
The tears slipped down his cheeks as Hoss muttered his reply. “He was shivering, Pa. He was shivering, and he didn’t have nothing, and I still had this jacket and my big coat when it really gets cold, so, well, Pa, he was shivering so. . .” The declaration ended in a sob.
“Are you telling me that you gave your jacket away?”
Hoss nodded. “I think he was sick, Pa. He looked sick.”
The silence was filled only with the twelve-year-old’s raspy breathing.
Ben looked down at his son as varying emotions flickered through his eyes. Hoss ventured a glance at this father’s face through lowered lashes.
“I can wear this one for now, Pa. Maybe if Hop Sing moves the buttons over.” Hoss lifted his head and gazed into Ben’s eyes. “I’m sorry, Pa.”
Ben reached out and placed a hand on each side of the boy’s face. Shaking his head, Ben said softly, “No, no, son, never be sorry for doing a kindness. Never be sorry for that.” He drew his son to him and held the boy in a prolonged embrace. Then he sighed and released him. “You know you can’t always give the clothes off your back to others, don’t you, Son?”
“I know you spent good money on that jacket, Pa. You don’t have to buy me another.”
Ben smiled and tugged the edges of the too small jacket toward each other. “This will do for today, I suppose, but tomorrow, tomorrow we go shopping for a new jacket.” He used his thumbs to wipe the lingering tears from his son’s cheeks.
“Thanks, Pa.” Hoss smiled. It was his mother’s smile. To Ben it was well worth the price of a boy’s jacket.
Please note that this was written in response to a prompt and was part of the challenge thread on another site. Other writers responded to the same prompt and this prompt resulted in some similarity in ideas.