Summary: Adam and Hoss seek revenge on Joe for the tricks he has played on them with the frogs and onions. This is the last part of the series. All can be read alone.
Rated: K+ (5,805 WORDS)
Rocky Mountain Oysters
“Hey Joe,” yelled Hoss while he yanked on a calf determined to get away from him. Tightening the rope thrown around its front legs, Hoss grabbed the calf by the tail and tossed it to the ground. Usually a job that took two men, Hoss prided himself in being able to do it alone. With his knee resting on the calf’s neck and the rope firmly in his hand holding the back legs he nodded that he was ready.
With a branding iron welded in the shape of a Ponderosa pine in his hand, Joe advanced towards the bawling calf and quickly pushed the glowing-red iron onto its skin. The sound of the skin sizzling soon was replaced by smoke rising from the calf’s new brand. Quickly moving out of Adam’s way, Joe watched his brother effortlessly castrate the calf. Then as he dropped the testicle into a pail, Adam nodded towards Hoss. Moving quickly and swiftly, Hoss released the rope from the calf’s legs and moved out the way of the calf. Within seconds the calf went bawling in search for his mother.
“Good job Hoss,” Adam remarked as he stood to his feet. The sweat dripped down his face as he reached down and helped Hoss stand to his feet. Looking around the corral, Adam sighted his younger brother poking the coals in the fire. “Say Joe, is that the last of them?”
Joe answered with a deep sigh, “Yeah, that’s it. I’m tired and hungry enough to eat an entire steer.” Then as he yawned, Joe rolled his shoulders then stretched his arms above his shoulders, all while looking around for Ben. His pa wasn’t too hard to locate. Surrounded by the hands that had been helping them during the day, Ben was perched on the top of the corral fence as he spoke with them.
“It’s been a long day,” Adam spoke as he rubbed a spot on his back. Taking a quick glance at the pail sitting at Hoss’s feet, Adam took a few steps closer to where Joe was tending to the fire. “Need any help with these?”
“You? You mean you’re asking to help me?”
Tossing his hands up in the air in frustration, Adam replied, “Well, if you don’t need any help forget I asked.”
“Hold on, I didn’t say I didn’t need help,” retorted Joe. Then letting out a sigh he continued, “I’m sorry, I’m tired and just didn’t expect you to volunteer to help me after all the branding we did today.”
“No problem Joe. I’m in a good mood. In fact, I’m thinking of fixing us something special this evening as a celebration that we have finished our branding.”
“A new dish I think you will like.”
Too tired to bother generating an answer, Joe nodded his head while walking over to the fire pit. Reaching down, he picked up the two irons then pressed them down in the dirt, trying to cool off the ends. When it seemed like they were cool enough, Joe handed them over to Adam. The fire still spewing flames up in the air encouraged Joe to turn his focus towards it, while he attempted to muffle the flames.
With the branding irons in hand Adam walked back over to where Hoss was standing. “You ready Hoss?” Then with a sweeping motion with his hand, he pointed to the pail that sat at Hoss’s feet, “Do you mind getting the pail?”
“I sure don’t,” Hoss answered with a grin. Then as Adam led the way back towards home, Hoss leaned over and grabbed the pail and quickly was in step next to him, while a smile danced across both their faces.
The sound echoed in the kitchen where Hoss stood statuesque. Afraid to move, Hoss stared in shock at the top shelf, where a canister he was trying to reach for had just tipped over. A shower of flour quickly cascaded down around him, coating him in a thick layer of white powder. He waited until the flour settled down around him before he attempted to brush it off his clothing. How in the world Hop Sing got that canister off the top shelf was lost to Hoss, as he tripped over a stool at his feet. At the sound of laughter coming somewhere from behind him, Hoss narrowed his eyes at Adam who had just entered the kitchen.
“You look like a springtime snowman,” Adam choked out in the midst of his laughter. He couldn’t help but laugh just looking at his brother. No matter how much flour he removed, swipes of it ended up everywhere he touched. Even his eyebrows and eyelashes were coated with flour.
“Dang it Adam! I didn’t expect that flour canister to be so heavy.” Hearing the chuckles continue to slip from Adam’s mouth, Hoss muttered as he shook off the flour, “If you want me to help you big brother, stop that laughing.”
Biting back a comment, Adam grinned as he walked over to where his brother was standing. He could see the flour had nestled its way deep into his brother’s hair, so he reached up and vigorously shook his hands through Hoss’s hair.
With some of the flour finding its place on his shirt and black pants, Adam could distinctly hear Hoss snickering. “Yeah, so now we’re even,” Adam replied. Looking around him for the pail, he asked, “Where did you put the pail?”
“Over there by the door.”
The dented silver pail sat next to the door, an awful smell wafting up from it as Adam took a step close to it. “Phew!” Adam muttered under his breath. I didn’t realize this stuff was going to smell this bad, he thought. “Hoss, if you would get the stuff out of this pail and wash it, it would help while I get the ingredients ready for it. In fact,” Adam stopped at moment. Rubbing the bottom of his chin, he continued, “If you would get a knife and slice them lengthwise it would save me time.” Hoss, eager to help, strode over to where Adam stood and took the pail from him, before heading over to the water pump.
“This should be a great meal for our dear ol’ brother Joe,” Hoss said, more to himself than anyone. Hearing Adam’s mumbling in the pantry something about ingredients Hoss set the pail down into the sink then grabbed the handle on the water pump. It took several tries before Hoss could hear the water chugging its way up through the system. The water streamed down into the pail, overflowing into the sink, while Hoss desperately sought something to plug the drain.
Grabbing a cloth from the side of the chopping block, he stuffed it down into the drain. He stood back and grinned at his ingenious idea. That is, until he stared at the cloth and realized it was Adam’s black handkerchief he had stuffed down into the drain. With a shrug of his shoulders, Hoss decided not telling Adam at this stage was the best idea. Wrapping his hands around the pail, he vigorously swished the water from one side to the other. It took him just a second to realize that the contents inside the pail were letting out an awful smell. “PHEW Adam! This stuff stinks!” Hoss complained, as he tried to bury his nose into his shoulder. Unable to work effectively in that position, Hoss took a deep breath then plunged his hands down into the water filled pail and grabbed a piece of meat. Not liking the feeling of slime his hand encountered, he nearly dropped the piece. Various thoughts came to mind in his desperate attempt to grab onto a firmer section of the slime. Bringing it up out of the water, Hoss had to let go of his breath. Desperate not to smell this stuff he was handling, he held his hands out one direction and took another deep breath before slinging the slime onto the chopping block. Taking a step backwards, Hoss was exhausted. The smell was overpowering, and the thought of doing that to just one more piece made him screw up his face in displeasure.
There in his hand was a clothespin. Adam, saved him! “Thanks Adam.”
Opening the clothespin, Hoss carefully opened the piece of wood then let go of it on his nose. “OWWWWWWWWWWWW!” Hoss hollered as he ripped the clothespin off his nose.
Adam whipped his head around, “Be quiet Hoss!”
“But Adam, this dang clothespin hurts!”
“What would you rather do? Go with out it and smell our delicacy?”
Making a face, Hoss sighed. This time, he carefully allowed let go of the clothespin. There was pain, but not that sudden onslaught when he let go of it earlier. With his nasal abilities drastically cut off, Hoss had no trouble rinsing off the rest of the pieces in the pail. Slapping them onto the chopping block, he reached for a knife from the block of knives, and began slicing them into oblong pieces. Without much of anything else to think on other than what he was doing at hand, Hoss began to have some concern at their special meal for their youngest member of the family. Chewing on the bottom of his lip Hoss turned to face Adam. “Adam,” spoke Hoss with a distinct nasal tone, “I don’t know if we should really be doing this.”
“Why not Hoss?” Adam answered. Briskly mixing the ingredients he grabbed a bottle of red wine and carefully poured some into the batter. “Don’t tell me you have already forgotten the frogs that Joe had you carry out of the house. From the way Joe described it, I’m guessing you had to have had at least one hundred frogs bulging and rubbing up against you in your shirt.”
“Doggone it Adam,” Hoss grumbled as he swallowed hard. A look of disgust carried over his features as he relieved the moment. “You’re right. But at least I didn’t end up crying like a baby over some piddly onions.”
Raising his eyebrows Adam was about to make a retort but decided against it. If he had his choices, he would have preferred the frogs inside his shirt. Actually, Adam thought, Joe knew I wouldn’t have fallen for that ruse. Pushing the thought away he put a few more pieces of wood into the stove. “Do you have those washed and cut Hoss?”
Taking a look at the platter of meat that Hoss brought to him, Adam had a brief moment of feeling queasy. The last time he had taken a trip into San Francisco, he remembered overhearing some cowboys from the southwest talking about this delicacy. He hadn’t thought much of it until their waiter brought out the dish to them. He had to admit, at the time he didn’t feel too good knowing what they were about to eat. So why do it to his brother? Adam grinned to himself at the answer to that question. If Joe hadn’t played those tricks on Hoss and himself, he would have thought twice about doing this. Unfortunately, he had to live with the knowledge that their ranch hands had seen him crying on the front porch and fortunately Hoss still had the frog incident in his mind so he wasn’t hard to convince to help him out with this. However Adam had to admit, the more he thought about the meal they were preparing the less sure he was of his decision.
Pulling the opened bottle of red wine towards him, Adam took a big swig then handed it over to Hoss. “Take some Hoss, it will make this process less distasteful.”
Without a second thought, Hoss grabbed the bottle from Adam’s outstretched hand. Leaning against the counter, he watched as Adam picked up a piece of meat then dipped it into buttermilk and wine mixture before slinging it down into the batter. Then with the batter dripping from the meat Adam turned and put it into the skillet that was already hot and dancing with grease. Listening to the sizzling sounds of grease when the batter hit it, both men froze when they heard the back door open. Fear coursed through their bodies as one thought went through their minds. Joe. Without a second thought both men grabbed the platter of meat then dumped it into the bowl of batter not paying attention as it sent splatter marks onto them and the counter surrounding them.
“Mr. Hoss. Mr. Adam,” announced their cook as he walked into the kitchen. “I go to Virginia City with Mr. Ben.” He could smell something in the skillet, so he walked over to where the two men stood nervously near the stove. Glancing into the skillet, Hop Sing commented, “You make calf fries, good for you.” Then without another word, he turned and picked up a basket next to the door then took a step outside, closing the door behind him.
Both men let out a deep breath as they sagged against the table. Running his fingers through his hair Adam couldn’t help but shake his head. “That was a close one Hoss.”
“You think Hop Sing will tell Joe?”
At that thought, Adam quickly moved around the table over to the kitchen window and peered out the curtains. Grinning, he turned back around to Hoss. “Nope, Hop Sing just climbed onto the buckboard with pa and they are on their way out of the yard right now.” With his eyes on the buckboard Adam let out a nervous sigh as Ben and Hop Sing disappeared from sight. “They’re gone.” Glancing over to the stove, both men could hear the popping of grease and batter in the frying pan. The smell of buttermilk that was cooking made Hoss’s stomach begin to growl.
“That smells good Adam.” Hoss said, as he leaned over the frying pan.
Not even thinking twice, Adam grabbed a fork from the table behind him and carefully brought out the first piece of meat and placed it on a plate. Brown and crispy, he handed both the fork and plate to his brother. “You want to have the first taste Hoss?”
“It sure smells good Adam,” Hoss answered as he reached for the fork. Despite the wine he had consumed, he had enough sense within him to stop. “Uh no. I think I’ll just save these for Joe. It’s his special dinner and all.” Knowing that he was going to be hungry, Hoss glanced around the kitchen for something else to eat at dinner. In a barrel next to the wall were some potatoes. “Why don’t I make some mashed potatoes to go with our main course?”
“Sounds good,” Adam replied as he turned to grab some more meat to cover with batter. “Why don’t you check and see if Joe is around first?”
Remembering their brother for whom the meal was for, Hoss grinned as he tiptoed quietly from the kitchen. Quickly dusting off the remnants of flour from his clothing Hoss poked his head around the corner into the dining room. He peered into the dining room and let out a sigh. No sign of Joe. Taking a deep breath he quickly took a glance into his pa’s study. Silence. Humming a tune under his breath Hoss turned and walked back towards the kitchen, disappearing into Hop Sing’s hallowed territory just as he heard the bells on the grandfather clock start ringing.
Joe quickly slid into his arms into his shirt and buttoned it up then tucked it into his pants just as he heard the chime of the sixth bell toll from the clock downstairs. Grabbing his towel, he quickly rubbed his hair one more time to make sure that any excess water was free from it. With the towel tossed across his mirror, Joe left his room and approached the staircase where he could smell food wafting through the air. Smelled like something being fried. Stifling a yawn as Joe walked down the steps he could hear the clatter of pots and pans being knocked around in the kitchen. It was the sound of an expletive escaping from the interior region of the kitchen that prompted Joe to make a split second decision. I think avoiding the kitchen is probably the best decision I could make at this point, Joe thought. Besides, he had already done a day’s worth of work and having already taken a bath he didn’t want to get dirty all over again. Sounded like pretty good reason to him, Joe thought. Basically, he admitted to himself, he didn’t want to be put to work in the kitchen, especially since the settee looked so inviting. He deserved a break after all his hard work that day.
Dropping down onto the cushions, he leaned his head against the settee, wondering where Ben had gone. As quickly as the question arrived, he quickly remembered. Ben had mentioned going into town and meeting up with Sheriff Coffee to go over some figures. Probably to play a game of checkers and shoot the breeze for a while, Joe thought as a wave of drowsiness overtook him. Closing his eyes for a moment he was fast asleep in minutes.
Nearly half an hour later all the portions of the calf fries were cooked, along with a generous dose of mashed potatoes. Wiping the grease off his hands, Hoss grabbed a bowl of green beans Adam had decided to make at the last moment then followed his brother out to the dining room table. It was a sound in the living room as he was setting the dish down that caught his attention.
“Hey Adam,” Hoss motioned towards the living room. “There’s Joe. Think he heard us?”
Adam placed his bowl of food onto the table then walked over to where his brother slept, sprawled out on the settee. With his feet propped up on the edge of the settee, his right arm was flung over his face blocking out the last remnants of sunlight that was bearing into the room. Shaking his head, Adam replied, “No, I don’t think did. I think the option of helping us in the kitchen was far outweighed by his desire to sleep. My guess is that he didn’t want to go into the kitchen afraid that we would put him to work.”
Guffawing, Hoss turned and re-entered the kitchen. He returned moments later with the rest of the plates balanced on top of a bowl of mashed potatoes. Adam, who had returned back to the table, started arranging the utensils and drinking glasses. Hoss pushed the bowl of potatoes into the middle, but not before dipping his finger in. He brought up a large mass of potato stuck to his finger. Popping it into his mouth he frowned briefly then smiled. “Not bad, but Hop Sing’s is better.” Together they finished setting the table, readying it for Adam who brought in their special platter for the evening. Holding it away from him Adam had to admit that they smelled good, but knowing what was hidden under the layers of cooked batter made him sick just thinking about it. Carefully setting it on the table, Adam moved it slightly towards Joe’s plate. “To give Joe an advantage as he grabs for the food,” Adam explained with a grin.
“You mean I have to act like I want to eat that stuff?”
“Hoss,” Adam sighed, “if you don’t then Joe will know that something is up. Since when are you not reaching for the food?”
“But Adam…” Hoss stuttered then stopped. Movement was coming from the settee, indicating that their younger brother was waking up. Catching Adam’s attention, he motioned over to the settee where Joe was lying down.
The smell of the buttermilk, fried chicken filtered throughout the room tickling Joe’s senses as he woke up. Rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand he let out a yawn as he leaned forward. His head he rested in his hands as he took a deep breath and slid his feet off the edge of the settee. The sound of them hitting the floor helped pulled him out of his sleepy stage. Lifting his head he looked over towards the dining room table and saw that supper was already on the table while his two brothers stood at the other end watching him.
“Why are you watching me?” grumbled Joe, his voice still tinged with sleep.
With his eyes dropping to the ground, Hoss scurried back into the kitchen leaving Adam to answer Joe’s question. “Nothing Joe, just was wondering if we should wake you up for supper.”
“Oh,” Joe answered with a shrug. Putting his hands on the cushions, Joe pushed his body up from the settee and strolled over to the dinner table. “Mmmmm, something smells good.” It was the sound of Hoss’s grunting that made Joe look up to see his brother carrying out a basket of rolls.
“Not too sure if these are done right. I looked in the oven earlier and they were as pretty as anything, but now they’re a bit flat.”
Grinning at his brother, Adam couldn’t help but ask. “Did you slam the oven door shut after you looked at them the first time?”
“I dunno,” Hoss answered with a shrug. “I guess I did because that stove handle was dog-gone hot!”
“Well, in the ethics of cooking in the kitchen, the slamming of the door probably made the bread fall.”
“What do you mean, the bread fell?”
“Come on you two,” Joe complained as he settled down into his chair. Pointing towards the food he suggested, “Let’s eat, then discuss what makes bread fall up or down.” With his head bowed, he waited until Adam said the blessing then turned his attention towards the spread of food on the table. Across from Hoss sat a bowl brimming over with lumpy mashed potatoes, the butter not quite melted on them, then closer to Adam sat a bowl of green beans. A smile spread across Joe’s face as he realized that the main course was sitting directly in front of him, just out of Hoss’s reach. With a giggle of pleasure, Joe watched Hoss make a bad attempt of trying to grab the plate towards him. Joe leaned forward and deftly grabbed it out of his way. “Sorry brother, you’re getting a little slow in your old age.”
A wry smile across his face, Hoss answered, “I need to work on that. But for now, I’m going to dish me up a big pile of these mashed potatoes.” Out of the corner of his eye he watched as Joe stabbed several pieces of meat and brought it over to his plate. Pushing his food around he looked up to see Adam staring at Joe, his eyes smiling as he accepted the platter of food from Joe. A few pieces were dropped onto his plate when Adam winked and handed the plate to Hoss.
Swallowing hard, Hoss tried not to make a face as he carefully picked up the calf fry and placed it on the edge of his plate. With a gentle knock with his fork it fell off his plate onto the table. Glancing quickly at Joe, Hoss used his napkin to cover it and then discreetly put it into his lap. With the despicable piece of food away from his sight, he dug into his food with relish.
Not paying any attention to his brother’s actions around him, Joe eagerly cut into the meat. Smelling the delectable odor of the buttermilk batter the juices in his mouth began to salivate just as he placed the first piece in his mouth. Carefully chewing on the meat, he rolled it around in his mouth trying to place the taste. He took another bite when he had the vague feeling of someone watching him. Looking across the table he met Adam’s eyes only to see amusement in them. Confused as to what was so humorous Joe chalked it up to his brother’s oddness and continued to dig into his food with relish, mixing his meat with the mashed potatoes. Finished off with his first piece of meat, Joe took a breather from his food and looked around the table. Adam sat across from him pushing his food around, while Hoss sat next to him, his napkin crumpled and twisted in his lap, eating heartily a humongous pile of potatoes. The potatoes were not that great, Joe thought. In fact, they bordered on being terrible.
Suddenly suspicious, Joe dropped his fork onto the plate and demanded an answer, “What’s going on?” It was while he glared at his brothers that he saw the color leave Hoss’s face as he stumbled for the right words to say. Frustrated at his brother’s lack of communication, Joe pushed his chair back and glared at Adam just as a crashing sound echoed through the house. All the men jumped in their seats, automatically on the defensive, until the figure approached the table.
“Pa,” Adam sighed, “you scared us.” Taking a glance at Ben’s face, Adam wondered what got him all riled up until he watched him walk directly to the table and reach for the platter of meat. Sensing that something wasn’t right, Adam lunged forward and tried to pull the plate towards him. A glare from Ben encouraged Adam to release the plate. Sitting back down in his chair, Adam exchanged a quick glance with Hoss. The joke was over.
With the platter in his hand, Ben looked down into his youngest son’s plate and saw evidence that some of the meat that had already been consumed. Glancing at his other two son’s plates the untouched food on Adam’s plate made Ben fear the worst. He was hoping what Hop Sing had told him on the way to town was a misunderstanding, but now he feared it was true. Ben turned his attention towards Joe as he leaned against the table.
“How much meat have you had?”
Glancing up at his pa with a questioning look, Joe glanced down at his plate and pointed, “This is my second piece.”
Ben, feeling weak, sank down in the chair at the end of the table. Shaking his head, the only thing he could mutter was, “I don’t know if I should tell him.”
Hearing Ben’s mumbling, Hop Sing who had entered the room just minutes after Ben approached the table and pointed to the pile of meat. “Adam and Hoss make good calf fries.”
“Calf fries?” Joe inquired as he looked at the cook.
“Also be Rocky Mountain Oysters, same thing.” Hop Sing answered, “Delicacy with cowboys wanting to become men.”
“Oh.” Joe replied with a shrug. “It just tasted like liver to me.”
“No liver Little Joe,” Hop Sing replied, “Rocky Mountain Oyster be calf testicles.”
Dropping his fork Joe blanched at the words. Looking at the food on his plate Joe swallowed hard then looked up and faced Adam with unseeing eyes. Then he slid his glance over towards Hoss and it was his look of guilt that convinced Joe.
Swallowing again he glanced down at the pile of fried meat that was still on the table. “Testicles?”
“Uh yeah Joe, you know them that Adam was clipping off the calves today? He was savin’ them for…”
Stopping mid-sentence, Hoss glanced over towards Adam who was glaring at him. Changing his sentence he continued, “Look Joe, we were just paying you back for the frogs and the onions.”
Already angry at what his sons had done, it was Hoss’s comment of payback that nearly Ben over the edge. Pounding his fists on the table Adam and Hoss jumped as he roared, “I TOLD YOU BOYS THAT WAS ENOUGH AFTER THE ONIONS.”
“But pa,” Hoss complained, “we couldn’t let Joe get away with what he done to us.”
“BUT pa NOTHING!” Ben thundered while his face turned a fusion of color. Fighting to keep his temper under control, he was about to speak again when the sound of a chair being shoved from the table caused him to stop.
Unable to sit still a moment longer Joe bolted from the seat. Hearing the chair slam to the floor in his haste to get away from the table he didn’t care. Feeling queasy he put one hand on his stomach then with his other hand he covered his mouth. Pushing past Hop Sing, Joe had no thoughts in his head as he ran away from the dining table. Grabbing the handle to the front door, he flung it open listening as it banged into the sideboard. Hearing the sound, despite his troubled stomach, Joe couldn’t help but cringe when he thought of what pa would have to say. But feeling the turmoil begin in his stomach and push its way up his throat he didn’t care. Once outside he had to make a split second decision as to which direction he should go. Running straight for the trees he just made it to the water trough when the gagging reflex began. Unable to go any further, Joe couldn’t help it the food chugged its way out of his stomach and exited out his mouth. His back towards the water trough he stood hunched over until there was nothing more to spit up.
Standing across the yard Hoss, Adam and Ben stood silently on the porch. It had been the sound of the front door slamming open against the sideboard that had put them into motion. Running out the front door, it was hearing the agonizing sound of their brother retching that made Hoss and Adam ashamed at what they had done. Unsure as to what to do, they turned to face Ben who was still angry at their deception. “Pa, we’re sorry,” Adam spoke. “At the time it sounded like a good idea.”
Face of stone, Ben shook his head. “What you did was completely uncalled for in light of the jokes he has played on you two. I think what I’m most surprised at is you, Hoss, going along with this scheme.” Glaring at his middle son Ben could tell his words were affecting both him and his older brother. “So if you want to apologize, don’t apologize to me. You need to make your apologies towards your brother.” Taking a step towards where his youngest son stood heaving he felt a hand placed on his arm.
“Pa,” spoke Adam shaking his head, “if you don’t mind, let Hoss and I go over there and check on him.” Without waiting to hear Ben’s answer, both brothers walked towards where Joe stood weaving next to the water trough.
Hearing voices behind him Joe didn’t even have enough energy to turn and see who was talking. He felt sweaty and weak all at the same time so it was with relief that he felt his legs bend as he sagged to his knees. Wiping his mouth he rested his head on the top of the water trough and could feel his body shaking. Weakly grabbing the side of the water trough he lifted his head then dipped his hands into the water, splashing the water onto his face. Feeling the cooling temperature against his skin, he rested his head on the side of the wood when he heard the footsteps of someone approaching.
Hearing Hoss’s voice, Joe didn’t want to do anything. Ignoring him, he held his hand on his stomach trying to ignore the rumblings his stomach made. Having retched as much as he could, he was still hungry, but the thought of eating anything made him queasy all over again. Grimacing slightly he took a deep breath.
“Buddy, we’re sorry,” Hoss spoke again, remorse lacing his words. “It was a joke to pay back for them onions and frogs you done to us.” Concerned from the lack of response from their brother, Hoss turned to Adam for help.
Moving over to where Joe was leaning, Adam rested his hand on Joe’s shoulder easily feeling the tremors that raced through his body. “Joe this is my fault and I’m sorry.” Bending down, Adam rested on one knee as he looked into his brother’s face. Joe’s face was glistening with sweat and the eyelashes framing his closed eyes were equally wet from the sweat that dripped down onto them.
Grabbing a handkerchief from his pocket, Adam dropped it into the water then began to squeeze the excess water from the cloth. Dabbing the cool cloth against Joe’s skin, Adam began to feel really bad for what he had done to Joe. If Joe had done this to him, he wasn’t sure as to how well he would have taken it. Taking the cloth from Joe’s face, Adam saw that his eyes were open and looking up towards the sky. “You know Joe, I think you are handling this a lot better than I ever would have. I nearly puked when I saw some cowboys from Texas eating this very dish.” Seeing the slight wavering of the eyes, Adam felt relief when he saw Joe’s green eyes turn and look into his own eyes. Tapping him on the shoulder, Adam continued, “I’ll tell you a secret about these Rocky Mountain Oysters, they are supposed to make you a virile young man.”
Grinning slightly, Joe shifted in his position on the ground and rested his back against the water trough. Already feeling a little better he took in Adam comments. “Virile, eh?”
“Yeah,” Adam nodded with a smile on his face. “But Joe, really we’re sorry for tricking you like we did.”
Hoss hearing that Joe was up to speaking chimed in, “Yeah Joe, I’m really sorry.”
Joe sighed. Having thought of the frogs and onions for his brothers took some creativity, but this one took the cake. Remembering the sound of Ben roaring when they were inside Joe knew any thoughts of payback were out of the question. Besides he already had his fun with seeing Hoss with the frogs and Adam crying his heart out over onions. Glancing up into Hoss’s blue eyes and the brown eye’s of Adam, Joe gave a half smile. Lifting his hand out and holding it towards his brothers he spoke one word.
Hoss and Adam looked at one another then looked back towards Joe. Nodding, they spoke in unison, “Truce.”