“Adam!” Ben Cartwright bellowed. “That’s quite enough.”
“But Pa, I’m 15 now. Why can’t I drive the wagon to town?”
“I am well aware of how old you are Adam, but it takes more than age to handle a team of horses. Besides, you have a mild concussion and Doc Martin wants you to take it easy.”
“I’m fine Pa and I’ve driven a wagon in worse conditions.” Adam argued.
Ben cringed. He felt guilt that Adam had been hurt and no one mentioned it or dealt with it until the injury had gotten worse. He couldn’t change the past but he could fix the present. “Yes you have but I said no and that should be enough for you young man.”
“That’s no reason Pa.” Adam pouted.
“Be as it may, it’s the only one I’m giving you. You can accept that or we continue this discussion in the barn.” Ben waited for Adam’s next move.
Adam knew he had lost the argument, but wasn’t about to give up trying so he retreated. “I wish I lived in the future. Then I would be treated as a man.”
“Adam?” Ben warned. “You better change your attitude quickly before I lose my patience. Now please go rest like the doctor asked.”
Adam sighed then answered, “Yes sir.”
“Good boy.” Ben said as he moved away from Adam. Adam grumbled about being called a boy as he headed back to the house.
After supper that evening, Adam went outside and sat in the rocker on the porch. Pa would say he was sulking. Adam was thinking about the last few months. He still got tears in his eyes when he thought about Marie being gone. He knew his Pa still hurt from Marie’s death, but it had been Adam who had made sure the house and ranch hadn’t fallen apart when his father crumbled in his grief. Adam had been the man of the house until two weeks ago, when he was hurt riding a bronc and five-year old Little Joe had gotten lost.
After ignoring his headache everyone searched all day and into the evening until Pa had found Little Joe half way up Eagles Nest. He had climbed it to find Mama. The whole event snapped Pa out of his grief. He had been worried that he could have lost two of his sons. Now Pa was back, but with a vengeance. Little Joe wasn’t allowed near the horses. Pa drove Hoss to school every morning because he didn’t want any of us riding and Adam had been confined to the house to rest and was reminded he was but a child in his father’s eyes.
Adam wanted to be a man. He daydreamed of being able to go to town on his own and going into the saloon. He wanted to be allowed to drive a wagon and maybe even go to college someday. Maybe it will happen. Right and men will fly. Adam closed his eyes and fell asleep.
“Adam. Wake up son.” Adam came awake suddenly to see his father smiling at him.
“What time is it?”
“Time for young men to be in bed. You’re still recovering from your concussion.”
“Okay.” Adam rose from the chair and stumbled toward the front door. Ben helped Adam through the house and up the stairs. As they walked through the door to Adam’s bedroom, Ben turned on the light and tucked his teenaged son into bed. Adam barely noticed since he was so tired. Ben smiled down at Adam who was already asleep. “Good night son. See you in the morning.”
Adam woke to a strange and persistent buzzing noise. He groaned and was about to open his eyes to investigate when his door opened. A moment later the noise was silenced.
“Sweetheart? You need to get up for school.” Adam recognized the voice and sighed. He must be dreaming again. He rolled over and opened his eyes to see Marie sitting on the edge of his bed and smiling at him.
“Yes Adam.” When Adam’s eyes filled with tears of anguish, Marie became concerned. “What’s the matter Adam? Does your head still hurt?” Marie checked his forehead for fever. Adam just shook his head as he grabbed her hand and held it against his head. She didn’t hesitate as she gathered her son into her arms as he sobbed.
“Benjamin!” Marie yelled as she gently stroked Adam’s back. “Shh Adam. It’s okay.”
Ben entered his oldest son’s room to find Adam sobbing in his mother’s arms. “What’s wrong?” Ben settled on the other side of Adam and pushed the hair off his forehead.
“He won’t tell me. I came in and shut off his alarm and he saw me and started to cry.”
“Adam? Son? What’s wrong? Are you in pain?”
Adam shook his head again waiting for the dream to fade. It always did after he sobbed out his grief but not this time. As he calmed down, he was still in his mother’s arms and both his parents were there caring for him. Taking a deep breath he leaned away from Marie and looked her in the eyes. “I must be dreaming.” He stuttered.
“No, son. You’re awake. Can you tell us what’s wrong?” Ben asked.
Adam decided to play out the dream. “Nothing Pa. Just really glad to see mama.”
“Pa? Mama? Are you sure you’re okay Adam?”
“Joseph.” Marie and Ben said together and smiled. Just then five-year-old Little Joe ran into the room and jumped on the bed.
“Joseph, what have I told you about knocking before you enter Adam’s room.”
“But Dad, Eric is going down for breakfast and he’ll eat it all up.”
Ben laughed. “Son, there is plenty for everyone. Please go get dressed for school.”
“Okay Dad.” Joe jumped down and ran out of the room.
“When did they start letting five year-olds in school Pa?” Adam asked.
Ben frowned. “Are you sure you’re okay son. Joe has been going to school since September. And why do you keep calling me Pa? What happened to Dad?”
“Dad?” Adam was confused. Nothing made sense in this dream.
“I don’t know what’s wrong son, but I think you need to stay home from school today and get some more rest. I’ll send Benson up with some breakfast.”
“I feel fine Mama. Who’s Benson?”
“Benson’s the house keeper son. Don’t you remember?”
“What happened to Hop Sing?”
“Who?” Ben and Marie asked together.
“Hop Sing. Our cook and housekeeper.”
“Adam, Benson has been with us since Joe was born. You know that.” Ben clarified.
“Maybe I’m not okay. I seem to be confused.” Adam lay backwards on his pillow and closed his eyes.
“Maybe I should call the Doctor?” Marie asked Ben.
“Yesterday was his first day up and about since the accident, so he probably just over did it. Let’s give it until after lunch and we’ll see how he feels.”
“I’m still in the room.” Adam whispered. He was shocked to hear the laughs instead of a rebuke.
“Not feeling bad enough to spare us the sass, huh Marie?”
“Rest Adam.” Marie said as she kissed his forehead. Ben and Marie left to have breakfast sent up.
Adam didn’t know what to think of this dream. Mama was alive! He looked around the room he was in and frowned. Nothing was familiar. He decided to explore this new world so he got out of bed. It was then that he noticed his strange clothes. Instead of his nightshirt, he was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of thin undergarment. As he was pondering, Hoss knocked and walked in.
“What are you doing Adam?”
“Hoss don’t you know how to knock?”
“Don’t call me a horse or I’ll tell Dad.”
Adam looked again at his undergarments confused. “What are these?”
“What? Your boxers?”
“Your underwear stupid.” Hoss pointed. “Are you okay Adam? You’re acting weird.”
“I don’t know Hoss. I went to bed and I think I’m still dreaming.”
“Why do you keep calling me that?”
“Not horse; Hoss.” Adam clarified. “It’s your name.”
“No it’s not. It’s Eric. I think maybe I should go get Dad.”
“Dad, not Pa?”
“No.” Eric backed out of the room. “I’ll get Dad.” And turned and ran downstairs.
“What’s wrong with Adam? He’s talking funny.”
“I’m not sure son, but it’s probably just from the accident. I don’t want you to worry.”
“Sure.” Eric sat down to the table and filled his plate again.
“Son? You’ve had enough for this morning. You know what the doctor said about your weight.”
“Ah Dad.” Ben frowned and Eric sighed. “Yes sir.”
Ben smiled. “Thank you. The bus should be here soon, so go find Joe for me please.”
“Pa?” Ben looked up at Adam as he entered the dining room.
“You shouldn’t be out of bed son.”
“I feel fine Pa. I’m just confused. What’s a bus?”
Ben looked at his son closely to see if he was joking to get out of school but Adam looked honestly confused. “Adam I want you to go back to bed and lie down. I’m going to call the Doctor and see if he can’t come out here and see if there’s not something seriously wrong.”
“Really Pa, I’m fine.”
“I will not argue with you son. Please go back to bed.”
“I need the outhouse first please.”
“Adam, we don’t have an outhouse. Just use the bathroom upstairs.” Ben was becoming real concerned. “I’m calling the doctor.” Ben went to the phone and dialed the clinic. Adam just stood there getting even more confused. Ben covered the mouthpiece and spoke, “Adam? Go to bed. I’ll come get you if the doctor can see you today.”
Adam just nodded and turned to go back upstairs. He didn’t know this house and his family seemed different somehow. What has happened? Adam passed Marie on his way back to his room.
“Adam, sweetheart, why are you out of bed?”
Adam had had enough and let the tears silently run down his face. “I need to pee Mama. Pa said we don’t have an outhouse.” He wiped the tears away and lowered his head in embarrassment.
“Ah honey. The bathroom is right here.” She showed him to the bathroom and watched as he looked at the strange room. The tears flowed freely now as Adam tried to stop the sob from escaping his throat. “Let me show you where everything is and then we can get you back to bed for a nap.” Adam just nodded. “It’s okay son. Everyone gets confused when they have a concussion.” Marie showed Adam how to use the toilet and sink then gave him some privacy. When he came out she helped him back to his room and into his bed. “Get some rest son.”
“Thanks Mama. I love you.” Adam closed his eyes and hoped his dream would fade and he’d wake up back in his own room and house.
The next time Adam woke it was because someone had removed the warm blankets. He tried to pull the blankets back up but gentle hands stopped him. Adam opened his eyes and saw his parents and a strange man standing over him. Marie noticed the panicked look right away and was quick to reassure him. “It’s okay son. This is Doctor Hough. He just wants to make sure you’re okay.”
“Okay.” Adam whispered.
“Ben? Marie? Why don’t you two go wait downstairs and I’ll just ask Adam some questions.”
“Okay Dave. Holler if you need something.” Ben led his wife out of the room.
Adam sat up and answered all of the doctor’s questions as best as he could.
Dr. Hough came downstairs and settled down next to the concerned parents.
“Well, Doctor, how is he?” Ben asked.
“Adam is very confused right now.”
“He’s been so emotional since he woke up this morning. He hardly ever cry’s.” Marie said.
“He explained that to me. He said yesterday he was on his parent’s ranch in Nevada…”
“All that’s true Dave.” Ben said impatiently.
“In the year 1845.”
“What?” Ben and Marie said together.
“You heard me. He says he’s from the old west and the reason he’s been so emotional is because all of this is new to him but especially, in his time, Marie died 6 months ago in a riding accident. He’s pretty upset right now. I told him it was 2005.”
Marie gasped. “What? My poor baby, I’m going to go sit with him.”
“That’s a good idea Marie.” Marie headed upstairs and found Adam crying into his pillow. She went to him and gathered him into her arms and let him cry.
“So, what’s wrong with him Dave?”
“I’m not sure. It is some form of amnesia but he knows who you and the rest of the family are, he’s just stuck in the past.”
“Could he be faking it?”
“For what reason Ben? He loves school and he really enjoys the ranch work so I can’t see how he’d want you and Marie fussing over him.”
Ben smiled. “No I don’t suppose he does. So what should we do?”
“I’m hoping it’s just the concussion and with time, he’ll remember everything. Until then try not to overload him.”
“What about school?”
“I’d keep him home. Let him work from here until this passes. And show him around. You’re going to have to treat him like he’s a stranger who doesn’t know anything about this time. Back in 1845 they had outhouses, rode horses, and communicated with telegrams, so be patient with him. It should get better.”
“Okay Dave. Is there anything that would help him remember faster?”
“Just time Ben. You can give him some Tylenol if he starts getting headaches but rest and time are the best healers.” Dr. Hough gathered his bag and headed for the door.
“Thanks Dave. I appreciate you coming all the way out here.”
“No problem. Considering his amnesia it’s probably a good thing you didn’t bring him to town. Give him small doses of this time to keep him calm. If he gets worse or real anxious call me. I’ll also expect to see you all in about a week if nothing major happens.”
“We’ll take good care of him Dave and we’ll see you in a week.”
Dr. Hough left and Ben went upstairs to check on his son and wife. When he entered Adam’s room, he found Adam sound asleep curled around Marie’s waist. Ben entered quietly and sat on the other side of Adam. “How is he?” Ben whispered.
“Exhausted. Confused. He cried himself to sleep as I held him.” Marie whispered back. “What did the doctor say?”
“What do we do for him?”
“Give it time. Dave said to keep him close to home until he remembers.”
Ben helped Marie settle Adam into his bed so she could stand. “I kind of like being called mama.” Marie smiled as they left Adam’s room. “I’ll go into town and talk to his teachers and get his work and then pick up Joe and Eric. I think I need to stay close to home too for awhile.”
“What about your publisher?” Ben asked.
“I can work from here like I used to do before the book was published.”
“If that’s what you really want. I need to get down to the north end and check in with the branders. I’ll grab a packed lunch and be back for dinner. I have my cell phone if you need to get a hold of me.”
“Okay. We’ll be good. Should I take Adam with me to get the boys or leave him with Benson?”
“I’m not sure he’s ready for town yet so see if Benson can keep an ear out. I don’t want him alone right now.”
When Adam woke next he noticed the sun was low in the sky. He decided to get up and make the best of a weird situation. He opened a few dresser drawers and found pants and a shirt. He also found what he assumed were his boots. He left his room and went back to the indoor outhouse and quickly relieved himself. He entered the hallway and looked at his new surroundings. The house looked the same but things were different at the same time. He noticed his brother’s rooms and peeked into each room.
Joe’s room was filled with bright colored toys scattered all over the floor. There was one stand with a black square that looked like glass. Around the floor of the stand were quite a few items that Adam couldn’t identify. There had been a similar black square in his room. Next in Hoss’ room, Adam saw another black square and miniature animals all over the place. Hanging from the ceiling were more miniatures that Adam didn’t recognize. Along the top of the wall ran a ledge with tracks and a beautiful train set.
Adam left Hoss’ room and looked down the hall and saw Marie coming up the stairs. “Yes ma’am?”
“Son, what are you doing in Hoss’ room?”
“I’m sorry. I was just looking, honest.”
“No harm son. Why don’t you come downstairs an have some lunch.”
“Okay.” Adam followed Marie down to the dining room and took his seat.
“I stopped at the school on my way home and picked up your school work Adam. The doctor wants you to stay home until you feel comfortable and your memory comes back.”
Adam was quiet as Marie put a sandwich and soup in front of Adam to eat. After she had her own lunch and sat down Adam asked, “Mama?”
“Could you help me remember all these new things? I don’t like not knowing what’s what.”
“Of course Adam.” Marie leaned over and kissed Adam’s head. They ate in silence then Marie gave Adam the grand tour of the house and all the new and interesting stuff. He learned about the indoor plumbing, the telephone, electricity and cable television. When Ben came home from working, he found Adam glued to the television set in the living room flipping through the channels with the remote.
“Well, some things never change.” Ben laughed.
“Pa! Mama showed me the TV? And it’s pretty interesting.”
“Did your mother also show you your chores?”
“No sir. I’ll do them if you show me what I need to do.” Adam turned the TV off and stood before his father.
Ben looked at Adam and saw he was serious. “I was partially kidding son. You’re still recovering from your concussion. Doc doesn’t want you over doing it.”
“Could we go outside and see the rest of the ranch?” Adam pleaded.
“Well, we don’t have time to see all of the ranch but I’ll show you the stables and then we can ride down to the gate and pick up your brothers when they get off the bus. Okay?”
“Yes sir.” Adam grabbed his boots and slipped them on.
Ben showed Adam the stables and the boy was awed at all of the new ways to do things. “Let’s go get your brothers Adam.” Ben said as he headed out of the stable.
“Pa? Aren’t we gonna ride?” Adam pointed toward the horses.
“Not on horses son. We’ll take the Jeep.” Ben walked up to the garage and opened the door. Inside was a dark green Jeep Wrangler. Adam just stared. “Come on son. Hop in.”
“Is this one of those motor cars that I saw on the TV?”
“Yes son. Get in.” Ben helped Adam get into the passenger seat and buckle up. Then they headed toward the gate to meet the bus. Adam stared at the surroundings and was speechless. They arrived at the gate ahead of the bus so Ben turned off the engine and waited. He looked toward Adam and smiled at the open wonder in the boy’s face.
“So what did your mother show you today?”
“Quite a bit Pa.”
“Adam, here in 2005 I’m your dad or father.”
“I’ll try to remember; dad.” Adam smiled.
“Good.” Ben smiled as Adam told him of all the ‘new’ things he saw today. He was just sharing what he was watching on TV when the bus pulled up. Adam’s jaw hit the ground at the large yellow bus stopped and opened its door. Hoss and Joe exited and ran to the Jeep.
“Dad!” Hoss and Joe yelled.
“Boys, how was school?”
“Okay I guess. I’m just glad it’s Friday.” Hoss answered as he lifted Joe into the Jeep.
“I learned about butterflies today dad and learned more of my alphabet.”
“Great Joseph. Do either of you have homework?”
“No sir.” They both replied.
“Good. Let’s go see what your mother has for snack.” Ben started the Jeep and headed toward the house.
“How are you doing Adam?” Hoss asked.
“I’m doing better Hoss.” Adam replied.
“Adam! Don’t call your brother names.” Ben admonished.
“I’m sorry Pa…I mean dad.”
“It’s okay dad.” Hoss said. “What does ‘Hoss’ mean Adam?”
“It’s a mountain term for a big friendly man.”
“I like it. Dad? Is it okay if he calls me Hoss?”
“Son if it doesn’t bother you, then it’s fine.” Ben smiled.
Ben dropped off the boys at the house and then parked the Jeep in the garage. When he entered the house he heard Marie scolding Adam.
“What’s wrong dear?” Ben asked Marie.
“Ben? Did you take Adam down to the stables and to meet the boys?”
“Yes, I did. Why?”
“I told him to stay in the house.” Marie stated with her hands on her hips.
“Oh.” Ben turned to his oldest son. “Adam? Why didn’t you tell me what your mother had said about going outside?”
“Would you believe I forgot?”
“Would that be the truth?”
“No sir.” Adam put his head down. “I just wanted to see what the rest of the ranch looked like.”
“I’m sure your mother had a good reason for asking you to stay in.” Ben clarified.
Adam just shrugged. “I’m sorry mama. I was just curious.”
Ben sighed and he looked at Marie. “Son, go up to your room I’ll be up shortly.”
“But…” Adam started to protest.
“Go on son.” Ben said as he pointed toward the stairs.
“Yes sir.” Adam jogged to his room and threw himself on his bed.
“What are we gonna do with that boy, Benjamin?”
“I don’t know Marie. It was wrong for him to disobey you, but with him still off balance I hesitate to punish him too severely.”
“Maybe under the circumstances, a little understanding will go further than a little strap leather?” Marie winked.
“Maybe, just this once. I’ll go talk to him then he can have a snack with the boys.” Ben walked up the stairs and knocked on Adam’s door, then entered.
Adam quickly stood. “Son, I’m disappointed.”
Adam put his head down to hide his tears. His Pa’s disappointment was worse than any tanning. “Son, look at me please.”
Adam lifted his head and quickly swiped at his eyes. Ben softened and gathered Adam into his arms. Adam crumbled into his father’s arms and cried. “Sh. It’s gonna be fine son.”
“I’m really sorry Pa.” Adam hiccupped.
“It’s not me you should be saying sorry too son. Your mother was just trying to help you recover. You owe her an apology.”
Ben let Adam go and smiled. “Since you haven’t been well, your mother and I have agreed to let you off with a warning. But I will be clear son. If you disobey her or me again from this point, well or not, we will be back here for a more serious discussion.” Ben made sure Adam saw his hands near his belt. “Are we clear?”
“Okay. Let’s go get a snack and you can apologize to your mother.”
“Pa? I mean dad?”
“Thank you and I promise I won’t let you down.”
“Son, I never had any doubt. I’ve always been proud of you. And always will be.” Ben hugged Adam again and then headed downstairs.
“I love you Dad.”
“I love you too son.” Adam followed Ben downstairs to apologize to Marie.
Adam and Ben returned to the dining room and after an apology to Marie, they ate a snack as a family. They all listened to Joe rattle off what he did in school and then Ben sent Joe and Hoss off to do chores.
“Dad? You said you’d show me what my chores were.” Adam asked.
“How are you feeling son?”
“I’m fine.” Adam fibbed.
Ben ran a gentle caress over Adam’s brow. “Looks to me like you have a headache.”
“Just a little one.”
“Why don’t I get you some Tylenol and if your headache is better in an hour, I’ll show you some of your light chores.”
”Really pa...dad, I feel fine.”
“I want you to rest, so have a seat on the couch and I’ll be right back with the Tylenol.”
“But…” Ben stopped Adam with one look and pointed toward the couch. Adam sighed and went to the couch. Ben returned a few minutes with two Tylenol and a bottle of cold water.
“Here, take these and rest for a bit.”
Adam took the pills and swallowed them quickly. “Will these make me sleepy?”
“No. They just help with the headache.”
"Really? I thought you wanted me to rest.”
Ben sat next to Adam and smiled. “I do, but these shouldn’t make you sleepy, just take away the pain so you can rest. Now here’s the remote and relax.”
“Okay dad.” Adam settled down and started flipping through the channels.
“Hey!” Adam winced at the volume of Joe’s voice.
Ben noticed. “Joseph!” Ben rebuked quietly. “Why are you shouting?”
“Dad, how come Adam doesn’t have to do chores and gets to watch TV?”
“Because he’s still not feeling well. Now go finish your chores.”
“That’s not fair dad. I don’t want to. I want to watch TV too.”
“You will do as I say young-man.”
Ben took hold of Joe and swatted his backside several times. “You do not tell me no. Do you understand?”
“Yes dad. I’m sorry.” Joe rubbed at his bottom and his eyes.
“Good. Go get those chores done.”