Categories > TV > Bonanza > Much Ado About Little Joe

In Which a Rift Occurs and a Life is in Danger

by Cartwright_Fan 0 reviews

Beware of Gardener Stacey.

Category: Bonanza - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2006-03-19 - Updated: 2006-03-19 - 1304 words

Chapter Four: In Which a Rift Occurs and a Life is in Danger

THE FOLLOWING AUTHORS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS CHAPTER: Mlle.Sinistra,LJsStalker, Karine, dodo, Amer Esper, and Blaze_of_Glory.
Recap from Ch.3 "Why, Joe, don't you remember me?"
Joe looked confused for a moment, before it dawned on him.
"Jack Bonner?" he asked.
The man in question cackled.
"I told ya he'd remember me, Stacey," said Bonner, "Joe, this is my partner, Gardener Stacey. Stacey, Little Joe Cartwright."
Joe frowned at the use of 'little' and he kicked Bonner. Bonner crashed to the stone floor, and Stacey ran over to them. Joe tried to stand up, but Stacey stopped him with a knife pressed against his throat.
"Move and I'll slit your pretty throat," he warned in his sickly sweet voice.
Joe looked at Stacey with disgust. He had seen all kinds of faces before, but that one was really awful. Secretly, Joe wished that his pa and brothers would find him as soon as possible.
"Put away your blade, Stacey," said Bonner, standing, "he'll be a good boy, won't ya, Little Joe?"
Joe said nothing, merely giving Bonner a glare at the continued use of the 'L' word.
"Tell me again, how do you know him?" asked Stacey, putting his knife in its sheath strapped to his ankle.
Bonner gave Joe a violent kick in the back before returning to sit by the fire.

"Little Joe and I go back a few years," said Bonner, glaring over at his prisoner, "used to be in the same class at school, and he even got me my first job on the Ponderosa when I turned sixteen. Thought we were still friends till he got me sacked. The 'High and Mighty Joe Cartwright' sacking me, right in front of the other men."
"You deserved it, Bonner," Joe interrupted, "no one who attempts to steal Cartwright cattle should expect to get away with it! You should be grateful I didn't turn you in to the sheriff for what you tried to do!"
"Grateful?" shouted Bonner, "you don't seem to realize I needed the money from those cattle to pay off my debts. Because of you, I had to leave the area...leave the girl I loved. My Sally! And what did she do? Ends up marrying your old friend, Frank. Well, you're gonna pay Little Joe, or should I say your pa is gonna pay...big time!"
"Leave my pa alone," said Joe, "I'm the one who got you sacked. I'm the one you're mad at. I'm the one you kidnapped."
"If you don't want him, I'll take him," said Stacey, a bit /too /eagerly.
Joe hoped Bonner refused Stacey's request. He didn't like the hungry look in his eye as he said it. Joe shivered slightly whenever Stacey looked at him. There was something about him that made him extremely uneasy.
Bonner gave Stacey a quick look of contempt.
"Just keep your hands off him. Fenwick has already left for the Ponderosa to deliver the ransom note...or had that little thing escaped your notice?"
Stacey sat back, still staring over at Joe.
"No, I hadn't forgot," he said, "but it don't mean we have to deliver him in one piece, does it?"
Joe swallowed hard, fear sending sweat down his back as something suddenly hit him. The uneasy feeling he had felt about Stacey made him grow cold. Now he remembered him. Through his drunken haze all those days ago, Stacey was the man he had been aiming for when he had shot his brother by accident. Stacey was the man who had been aiming for Adam's back!
Bonner's chuckle snapped Joe back to the present.
"Don't give me that, Stacey," said Bonner, shaking his head, "I know what you want."
He gave a knowing smirk and a glance at Joe.
"I'd say yes, but I don't think Ben will look too kindly on us if I let you defile Little Joe here," he said.
Bonner went outside to check on Kininski, their lookout. Once Bonner was out of sight, Stacey scooted closer to Joe.
He softly caressed Joe's cheek and murmured, "You have such soft skin."
Stacey leaned closer, his face mere inches from Joe's. Footsteps in the entryway stopped Stacey from continuing.
Bonner reappeared, a look of anger on his face.
"I told you to keep away from him, Stacey! You hard of hearing? Now, move away!"
Stacey glared over at Bonner, his fingers twitching around his gun.
"You know, Bonner, I reckon someone ought to show you some manners. I don't take lightly to being ordered around."
With that, Stacey drew his gun, pointing it at Bonner, his finger tightening on the trigger. Just as his finger began to squeeze, Joe leant back, and threw his legs toward Stacey, hitting his arm just as the gun went off, the bullet ricocheting off the cave wall. Bonner drew his gun, and fired back at the stunned Stacey, killing him with a single bullet hole in the head. He turned towards Joe.
"Guess I owe you for that, Cartwright," he said.
But there was no answer from Joe, who lay silent, a deep red stain showing on his shirt, where the stray bullet had hit him deep in his chest. Bonner ran over to Joe, concern etched on his face.
"Kininski!" he bellowed.
"Yes?" the hired gunman called, rushing inside the cave.
"Get this trash outta here," he said, nudging Stacey's lifeless body with his boot, "and go into Virginia City and get Doc Martin."
"Yes sir," said Kininski, hefting Stacey over his shoulder.
"How are ya, Pa?" Hoss asked.
"I've been better," Ben answered.
"We're almost in town. Doc can look at your wound."
When they arrived to Doc Martin's place, they saw him rushing out of the door with a man.
"Paul, where are you off to in such a hurry?" asked Ben.
"This man has just told me there's a man in a cave by Carson City, with a bullet in his chest," said Doc Martin, "I have to hurry."
"Can we help?" asked Hoss.
"Well, by the look of your father, he needs to be resting," said the doctor, giving his old friend a quick look over, "take him into my office until I get back, then follow me and bring my wagon. I might need it for my patient."
"Sure will, Doc," replied Hoss, guiding his father towards the doctor's office.
As the doctor disappeared on his horse, Ben was settled on the doctor's couch, a blanket covering him and Hoss gave him a quick wave goodbye.
"Won't be long, Pa," he said, with a smile.
Ben nodded over as his son left him alone.
Hoss rushed to the back lane and harnessed up the doctor's wagon. With a flick of the reins, he was soon away, following the doctor, unaware of the identity of the new patient, in such obvious distress.
Bonner had torn the very bottom of his shirt and held it against Joe's chest, to stem the bleeding. It wasn't much, but it was all he could do until Kininski returned with the doc. Bonner cursed Stacey. It was his fault that Joe was shot. In hindsight, Bonner should've thought better than to hire him. Stacey was too unprofessional. He had trouble following orders and he had a very lecherous nature he couldn't seem to control. Not someone he'd normally care to work with, but he had been desperate. Bonner no longer cared for revenge on the Cartwrights, his only thought now, was to save the life of the young man who saved his own, and whom he once had considered a friend.
"Hang in there, Joe," he said, "don't go and meet your ma, yet."

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