Why Him


By Angeleyes




Day One


Ben watched as his son, Adam rested peacefully in his bed. Paul had told Hoss and him that Adam had two days at the most. The news had upset Hoss deeply, for Adam and he were very close. Ben was handling the news the only way he knew how, by worrying about how this was going to effect his boys. The one Ben was worried about the most was Joe. Although Adam and Joe fought with each other all most everyday, they loved one another and the bond between them was true.




Joe rode into the yard at a gallop and was surprised that he wasn’t chastised by his Pa or Adam for doing so. Joe saw to Cochise and then headed to the house.

‘It’s too quiet,’ Joe thought when he entered the house and didn’t see any of his family in the main room. Joe knew that they were home because their horses were in the barn.

“Pa,” Joe yelled, “where are you?”

Ben had heard Joe gallop into the yard and thought ‘how do I explain this to him?’ He left Adam’s room when he heard Joe yell for him. “Joseph, please be quiet. I’ll be right down.” Ben responded.

“Alright, Pa,” Joe answered as he waited.

As Ben entered the main room, he tried to decide how to tell Joe what had happened to his brother and what was going to happen in the coming days. Ben realized that with Joe it was best to just be straight forward, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Joe looked at his pa as he entered the room and realized that something was seriously wrong. Where were Adam and Hoss? “Pa, what happened, where are my brothers?” Joe asked quickly.

Ben quickly realized that Joe was starting to panic and needed to be calmed down. He quickly moved to Joe’s side and walked him over to the settee. “Joe,” Ben said, “you need to calm down, then I’ll tell you what has happened and where your brothers are, alright?”

Joe took a deep breath and started to relax. “Alright Pa, I’m ready to listen to whatever you have to tell me.” Joe replied.

“Joe, what I have to tell you is not going to be easy for you to hear, but I need you to listen to me and try to be strong, alright?” asked Ben.

“I’ll try, Pa,” Joe said, not sure what to say.

“Joe, your brother, Adam, was bushwhacked on the way back from Virginia City with the payroll. We know that at least two people were involved because Adam was shot twice in the gut, also Hoss found the tracks of two horses headed away from Adam.” Ben said.

“But Adam’s gonna be alright,” Joe interrupted, “isn’t he?”

Ben looked at the floor and thought ‘why does this have to be so hard?’ and as he looked up at Joe, Ben answered him. “No, Joseph, Paul told us earlier he had two days at the most.”

Ben watched Joe closely not sure what to expect from his sensitive son. Joe wasn’t talking; he just kept shaking his head like he was trying to deny what his pa had just told him. This worried Ben even more because when Joe wouldn’t talk and tried to cover up what he was feeling things could become uncomfortable for everyone. The next thing he knew Joe jumped up and ran out the front door, almost hitting Hoss as he came in.

“You told him,” Hoss stated bluntly.

“I’m afraid I had to,” Ben said truthfully.

“Looks like Joe didn’t take it very well,” Hoss responded.

“No, Hoss, Joe didn’t take it well. He’s not talking and is trying to cover up how he’s feeling, and that makes me think the next few days we may have to be careful what we say around or do around Little Joe.




After leaving the house, Joe headed for the lake. ‘Why him!’ Joe asked in his thoughts. He was so confused, what he was feeling didn’t make any sense. How could he explain to Pa how much Adam meant to him, when he didn’t understand himself? As Joe looked out over the lake, Joe’s memories of the past started to surface; one in particular.

“Joe, I’ll always be your big  brother. No matter where I am or what happens between us.” Adam replied gently. “If you need help controlling your temper or just need someone to hit, come and find me, alright?”

“Alright, Adam,” Joe had replied as Adam had picked him up off of the ground and wiped away his tears. They had gone home as if nothing had been said between them; however the bond between them became stronger.

As Joe finished reliving the memory, he wondered if he would make it through the next two days and then Adam’s funeral. At that thought he was reminded of Adam helping him through his Mama’s funeral and thought who would help him through Adam’s, Pa?




“Hoss, I need you to stay here and keep an eye on Adam. I’m  gonna go look for Joe. I figure that he is probably up at the lake. It’s where Joe always normally goes when is troubled.” Ben announced.

“Bring him home, Pa,” Hoss replied.

 When Ben saddled Buck he noticed that Cochise was still in his stall, which meant that Joe was on foot. He mounted Buck and headed towards the lake hoping to locate his youngest.




Joe walked to his mama’s grave so he could talk to her. “Mama, I don’t know how to handle this. My brother, Adam’s dying. He’s my rock, my stability. Just like Pa’s my strength and Hoss, well Hoss helps me see things clearly. I feel like I’m losing a piece of myself, if I loose my stability how can I continue to control my temper the way I have with his help. WHY HIM, MAMA, WHY ADAM! Joe cried in anger.

Ben arrived at the lake in time to hear “WHY HIM, MAMA, WHY ADAM!” come tearing painfully out of his youngest son, and he realized that the bond between Adam and Joe was stronger than he had thought. Ben dismounted from Buck and walked over to Joe. “Talk to me, Joe. Let me help you, son.” Ben said causing Joe to jump.

“How long have you been here Pa?” Joe asked hoping it hadn’t been that long.

“Only a few minutes, Joe.” Ben replied.

“Pa, I don’t know how to handle this, and I want to see Adam, but I’m scared. Why am I so scared to see my own brother, I love him.” Joe asked, crying.

Ben pulled Joe into a hug, rubbing his back as he tried to answer his questions. “Joe, no one person is totally prepared to handle the death of someone they love. You know that Hoss and I will be there for you, and I understand that you’re scared, the reason that you’re probably scared to see your brother is that it will make everything real for you and you will have to accept the fact that you’re going to lose your big brother.”

“I guess that makes sense Pa,” Joe answered sniffling, “Can we go home now, I want to see Adam, is awake yet?”

“Yes, Joe lets head home.” Ben responded. “No, Adam is not awake yet, or at least he wasn’t when I left to find you.”




After his Pa left to find Joe Hoss headed upstairs to Adam’s room, when Hoss got there he sat down in the chair by the bed and looked at Adam. “I don’t understand this big brother; you were always right when you said we never needed words between us, but daburnit I don’t know what to do.” Hoss said as he talked to his brother.

Hoss nearly fell out of the chair he was sitting in when Adam responded “There’s not much you can do little brother, except be here.”

“You’re awake,” Hoss whispered.

“Hoss, where’s Pa and Little Joe?” Adam asked.

Hoss looked down trying figure out a way to tell Adam what had happened earlier. “Adam, when Pa told Joe about what happened to ya, and then explained to him that ya only had two days at the most, Joe bolted. Pa said he wasn’t talking and was hiding his feeling from him. Pa went searching for up at the lake.”

“Hoss, when they get back I want to see Joe, alone, if I’m awake, alright?” asked Adam.

“Sure, Adam.” replied Hoss noticing that Adam was drifting back to sleep.




When they arrived back at the ranch, Ben led Buck to the barn and took care of him, while Joe headed to the house. As Joe walked in the house, Hoss was coming down the stairs to the main room since Adam had just gone back to sleep. When he saw Joe, he pulled him into a hug and asked “How are ya, shortshanks?”

“I’ll be alright, Hoss,” replied Joe as he hugged Hoss back. “How’s Adam?”

“Adam’s doing fine, he was awake for a little while,” Hoss said. “while Pa and you were gone. He wants to talk to you when he wakes up again.”

Joe was happy that Adam wanted to talk to him because he wanted to talk Adam as well. There was so much Joe wanted tell him, so much he had never been able to explain to his big brother before. As Joe thought about the fact that things had never really been the same between them after Adam got back from college. Joe thought about the memory that had surfaced at the lake and realized that thing had still changed between them, but it hadn’t really been Adam that changed but him.

Joe wanted to be closer to Adam, but realized he should not disturb him so he walked over and sat in Adam’s blue chair. As Joe was sitting there he remembered another time he had crawled into this chair.

Adam had been sitting there after supper reading a book and Hoss was doing his schoolwork. He had crawled up into Adam’s lap because wanted attention and hadn’t been getting any from his Papa for weeks. “Adam, doesn’t Papa love us anymore?” he had cried.

Adam had looked and said “Yes, Joe, our Pa loves us; he’s just hurting right now.

“Why does nobody want me, Adam?” asked Joe.


What do mean Joe?” asked Adam confused.

“Whenever people look at me they walk away quickly or start crying, it’s the same with Papa, Hoss, and you, almost like people don’t want to look at me, why?” he asked.

Adam was surprised he hadn’t noticed anything, but he had feeling he knew the reason and it was staring him in the face. “Joe, it’s not that nobody wants you, its just that you look so much like Mama and right now when people look at you they see her in your eyes looking back at them and it hurts, especially with Pa because he loved her so much.”

Joe listened to what Adam was saying then started crying “Adam, I don’t wanna hurt Papa, maybe I could join Mama then Papa wouldn’t have look at me and see Mama.”

This reaction from Joe had caught Adam of guard and he quickly said “You can’t do that Little Buddy, because loosing you would make him hurt even more, besides we all love you.”

Joe said, “I love you, big brother,” as he laid his head against Adam’s shoulder and was shortly sound asleep in his brother’s arms.

“I still love you, big brother,” Joe whispered as he fell asleep curled up in Adam’s chair.




When Ben walked into the house Hoss meet him. They headed to the main so that they could talk. The sight that greeted them when they got there was precious. As Ben looked at Joe sound asleep in his big brother’s chair, he didn’t have the heart to wake him. “We’ll let him sleep for now, Hoss. Let’s talk in the dining area.” Ben responded as a lump formed in his throat.

“Alright, Pa,” Hoss replied as he headed over to the table and sat down, waiting for Ben.  “He’s so precious, ain’t he, Pa?”

“Yes, he is, Hoss. Hoss how’s Adam?” Ben inquired.

“Adam’s doing alright,

Pa. He was awake for a little while, while you were gone and heard me talking to him, when he heard me say ‘I didn’t know what to do’, he said ‘There’s nothing you can do little brother, except be here.’ surprising me. It comforted me some to, to be able to hear his voice.” Hoss said.

Hoss watched his pa as thought over everything he had just told him. He had more to tell his pa, but he wasn’t sure how to put it cause he wasn’t good with words like Adam.

Ben noticed that Hoss was watching him and realized that there was probably something Hoss hadn’t told him yet. “What’s wrong, Hoss, what are you having trouble telling me?”

Hoss looked at his pa and hesitated before answering, “Pa, Adam made a request of me before he went back to sleep earlier. He wanted to see Little Joe, alone, when ya’ll got back if he was awake. You’re back but he’s asleep, do we just wait until he wakes up again?”

Ben looked over at Little Joe and thought ‘they both want to talk, but what will the outcome be? How will my babies handle this?’ “They’re both sleeping right now, Hoss, so we’ll let them be.” Ben answered as he got up from the table. “I’m going to check on your brother.”




As Ben sat in the chair by Adam’s bed, he looked at his son and thought about everything that they had gone through together. The trip from Boston to here, the birth of Hoss, the loss of Inger, his inability to accept Marie, Little Joe’s premature birth, and the loss of Marie, so many things they had shared so much that they had built together side by side. “I will miss you, my son.” Ben stood and walked to Adam’s desk; he picked up the picture of Adam’s mother, Elizabeth, and went back to the chair and sat down. As he sat down he didn’t notice Adam watching him. “Elizabeth, darling, there are many things I wish that I could’ve told him about you. I guess I just never knew how, it hurt too much. You know, he shares your love for music. The way you played pianoforte always calmed me, I guess it’s the same with Adam and the guitar. However, sometimes I wish he could show people what it is he’s feeling more easily like you did, but I guess the ability to cover his emotions came from me. You always told me that I was stubborn and I guess you were right. Elizabeth, he’s coming to you, take care of him for me, as I have for you.”

“It’s nice to know how people feel about you, Pa,” Adam said. “And thanks for telling me about my mother.”

“Adam, how long have you been awake?” Ben asked as he looked over at his son.

“Long enough to see get up and retrieve my mother’s picture and hear everything you had to say to her. Did she really love music, Pa?” Adam responded.

“Yes, she loved music. How are you feeling?” Ben asked.

I’m fine, a little sore. Pa, did you find Little Joe, is he alright?” answered Adam.

Ben looked at Adam before answering him and thought about how he had found Joe. “I found Joe at the lake Adam, this isn’t going to be easy for him, but somehow I think you already know this don’t you. Right now he is downstairs asleep in your chair.” 

“Pa, can you hand me my journal and some paper and something to write with?” Adam asked

“Yes, Adam.” Ben replied puzzled.

A fter Ben gave Adam the items he requested Adam asked to be left alone for the rest of night so Ben headed back downstairs.




As his pa left the room Adam’s thoughts drifted to his baby brother, ‘There’s so much I need to tell you, but where do I start?’ Memories of their past together rush forward as he tries to figure out how to explain his feelings to Joe. He starts remembering a talk that took place between Joe and him and the events that lead up to it.

Pa and Hoss were out of town for the next two weeks and Pa had left him in charge. Joe was helping out with the ranch what he could, since school was out for the summer.

Adam and Joe were having lunch together at the house when Adam asked, “Joe, I need to go check the mines this afternoon, do you want to go?”

Joe nodded knowing that he would have to do whatever Adam said while they were there because he was only 12.

While they rode to the mine, Adam said, “I have to check the support beams in the mine to see which ones we need to replace so that we can insure safety and reopen the mines. Joe, you stay right by my side, so that I know you’re safe.”

Little Joe nodded saying “Alright, Adam.”

As Adam and Joe walked into the mine, Joe began to feel a little edgy; he started walking faster to put some space around him. Joe was in front of Adam and didn’t hear the support beam give behind Adam causing a cave-in, Adam ran towards Joe pushing him to the ground. “Stay down,” he yelled.

“What’s going on, Adam?” Joe asked, scared.

“There’s been a cave-in, Little Buddy.” Adam responded hoping to keep Joe calm.

However Joe was already in a panic as he looked at his big brother and cried out, “Adam, you gotta get me outta here!”

As Adam watched his little buddy pace around, he also noticed that Joe seemed to be having trouble breathing as well and he started to worry. “Little Joe,” Adam asked, “what’s wrong, talk to me?”

Joe looked at his brother and replied “I can’t breathe, Adam, I need out of here, there’s not enough space in here.”

“Joe, has this ever happened to you before?” Adam inquired.

“Yes, while you were away at college in my bedroom, I solved the problem by keeping the window open a crack; it allows fresh air into the room.” Joe replied.

“Joe, it looks like you have trouble in small spaces, but just keep talking to me, it will help take your mind off of where you are. We should be out of here soon.” Adam responded.

“Alright, Adam. Can I ask you a question?” Joe asked hesitantly.

“Of course you can Little Buddy,” replied his brother.

“Did you love my mama?” Joe asked quietly, unsure of the answer. He had heard people around town saying that Adam and his mama had never really gotten along with each other and he needed to know.

Adam was stunned; this was not what he had expected, ‘How should I answer him.’ Adam thought as he looked at his baby brother. “Joe, my relationship with your mama was not like yours was. When she first came to the Ponderosa, I wanted nothing to do with her and I was angry with Pa for marrying her, but she loved me anyway. She didn’t force me to accept her, because she wanted me to come to her. When she told us that there would be a new Cartwright added to the family soon, our relationship started to change and I realized that I loved her. When I asked her why she hadn’t forced me to accept her she said ‘Adam, love that is forced can only destroy, I wanted to earn your love and respect, and now I know that I have. I love you, son.’ Yes, Joe I loved your mama, my ma, very much.” Adam responded.

“Thank you, Adam for telling me.” Joe responded.

As the conversation stopped, the miners broke through the wall helping Adam and Little Joe out of the mine. Joe took a deep breath of fresh air as he got out of the mine, turned to Adam and said, “I love you, big brother, forever and always.”

Adam just looked at Joe and thought ‘How did I get so lucky?’


As Adam finished remembering he quickly wrote down what he needed to say to Little Joe. When Adam finished he folded the note and put it inside his journal. Adam planned to have Pa give the journal to Little Joe after the funeral, hoping that it would help his baby brother to know his thoughts.




Downstairs Joe awoke to find Ben in his chair reading the paper. “Pa, can we talk?” Joe asked quietly.

Caught by surprise, Ben put the paper down and replied, “Of course we can talk, son. I just didn’t know you were awake. What do you want to talk about?”

Joe looked at his pa and tried to figure out how to explain what he was feeling. “Pa, everyone always says they can read me like a book, that I don’t cover what I’m feeling very well. I try to hide what I’m feeling from everyone because I don’t want to be hurt, but I can’t do it this time pa. What I’m feeling doesn’t make sense to me and I hurt right here,” Joe answered placing his hand over his heart. “I want to see my brother, but I’m scared that while I’m with him, he’ll leave me. Pa, don’t know how to handle all that is happening.

As Ben listened to what Little Joe had to say, he started to realize just how much Adam, Hoss, and he had sheltered his youngest, Ben also realized that Joe had really never had to deal with the death of a loved one before because when Marie died he had still been too young to understand what was happening.  “Joe, it’s alright to let people see what your feeling. I understand that your scared to see Adam, Joe, but don’t let your fear keep you from your brother. Adam wants to see you, he told me he needed to talk to you. Joe, the bond you have formed with Adam since he came back from college is strong, don’t let your fear break that bond go see your brother, talk with him. Tell Adam what you’re feeling, I think he’ll understand.” Ben responded.

“Thank you, Pa, I think I’ll go up and see Adam before I go to bed tonight, so night Pa.” Joe replied.

“Night, Little Joe,” Ben answered knowing that see Adam would help Joe to sleep easier this evening.




When Joe reached Adam’s door he hesitated for a minute before going in. Joe was surprised to find that his big brother was awake when he came in and Joe started to leave but decided maybe it would help to talk with Adam after all. “Hi, Adam,” Joe said quietly.

Adam quickly looked towards Joe; he hadn’t even heard the door open or anyone come in. “Come in, Little Buddy.” Adam responded. He could tell that Joe was nervous to be there.

Joe nodded and closed the door walking over to the chair by the bed and sitting down. “Adam, I need to talk with you.” Joe said as looked at his brother.

“I know Joe; I also want to talk with you.” Adam responded.

Joe hesitated as he asked, “Adam, can I stay with you tonight?”

Adam looked at Joe and saw the fear in his baby brother’s eyes and understood the question he was being asked before he answered it. “Joe, why don’t you go get ready for bed, then come back here and spend the night with me. We’ll talk in the morning.” Adam replied.

Adam watched as Joe left the room to change for bed and realized that Joe was going to take his passing harder than he had first thought. When Joe asked to spend the night with him, Adam had realized that Joe was afraid he wouldn’t be there in the morning. When Joe got back from changing for bed Adam patted the bed saying “Crawl in Little Buddy, lets get some sleep.”

Joe got into the bed beside Adam and said “Night, Adam.”

“Night, Little Buddy,” Adam replied as he blew the lamp out.



As Ben headed up to bed he decided to stop and check on Adam before turning in for the night. When he opened the door and went in to check him, the sight that greeted him was unexpected, for Adam and Little Joe were asleep together in Adam’s bed, Joe lay next to Adam on his side with his right arm resting protectively over his big brother. Ben started to leave the room when he heard Adam call him, he looked back and saw Adam motion him over to the bed.

When his pa got to the chair beside the bed and sat down, Adam looked at him and said “He’s precious isn’t he,” pointing down at Little Joe. “He can in here earlier and we were going to talk, instead he asked me if he stay with me tonight. Pa, I just couldn’t say no, as I looked at his face I realized that he is afraid I won’t be here in the morning.”

“I understand, Adam, earlier when was talking to me he told me that he was scared to come see you because you might leave him. Joe also said the he doesn’t know how to deal all of this. I told him to talk with you that you’d understand, he’s only seventeen and dealing with death is something we’ve always tried to protect Joe from every since his mother died, maybe we did to good a job.” Ben responded.

Pa, I need you to do something for me,” Adam requested as he reached for his journal. “Give this to Little Joe after my funeral; what’s in it may help him get through this.”

Ben took the journal from Adam and looked at it curiously, “I’ll give it to him son, I hope your right and that it helps him.”




Day Two


That morning when Joe woke up he noticed that Adam was still asleep, therefore he got up and went to his room to get dressed, afterwards joining the family for breakfast downstairs.

After Little Joe joined Hoss and Ben at the table for breakfast, they started talking about what had to be done on the ranch. They still had that string of mustangs to finish breaking for the army, they also needed to complete the lumber contract on time, and the cattle needed to be moved to the north pasture. Unfortunately, none of them felt like leaving the house today. “Pa,” Joe asked hesitantly, “couldn’t we delegate our responsibilities to people we trust, to ensure that what needs done is done?”

Ben looked at Little Joe thinking ‘That’s something that Adam would suggest.’ and replied, “Joe, I believe it just might work, since you’re working with the hands breaking those mustangs, who would suggest putting in charge there?” Ben then turned and looked at Hoss saying, “Hoss, you’ve been handling the lumber camp and getting the cattle moved, who would you suggest for each job?”

Hoss sat at the table thinking about what his pa had asked him and replied, “Pa, I think that Dave Hanover, our foreman at the lumber camp can make sure things keep on schedule there at the camp, and when it comes to moving the cattle, I think the best person to put in charge would be our ranch foreman, Charlie. He knows what’s expected and the men respect him.”

Joe didn’t need to think about whom to put in charge of breaking the mustangs, the choice was obvious to him. “Pa, Kenny Larson is the person that I’d trust to finish breaking that string of mustangs.” Joe responded.

“Boys, the men you’ve suggested are good choices. Joe, you ride out the corral and explain to Kenny what is expected and have him report to the house at the end of the day on their progress. Hoss, you’ll ride out to the lumber camp and let Dave know that he’s in charge and to please give us a daily report on their progress. I’ll let Charlie know what’s going on myself; he already knows to turn in his report to the house daily.” Ben replied quietly.




Joe was first to leave the ranch, he saddled Cochise and headed for the breaking pens to talk with Kenny. When he arrived they had already started getting the last of the mustangs corralled so that they could start breaking them. Joe started looking for Kenny and located him getting ready to take his first ride. “Kenny,” Joe shouted, “come here a moment, I need to speak with you.”

Kenny looked towards Joe “Be right there Joe.” he answered. When Kenny got to Joe he knew something was up. “What’s up Joe?”

“Kenny, being put in charge of getting the rest of the mustangs broke and I need you to come to the house at the end of each day to update us on your progress.” Joe replied.

“Alright, Joe, but why aren’t you out here breaking them?” asked Kenny.

“Its family, Kenny, its family.” Joe responded think about Adam. “I’ll see you with your first report this evening, Kenny.” Joe said before mounting Cochise and heading back to the ranch.




Hoss left the ranch shortly after Joe heading towards the lumber camp, when he arrived there; Hoss went straight to the foreman’s office and walked in. Dave was at the desk looking over the figures for the lumber contract. “Dave, we need to talk,” Hoss said as he walked in.

“Come on in, Hoss, what do we have to talk about?” Dave asked.

“The lumber camp, Dave, you’re being put in complete charge up here and Pa wants daily progress reports from you at the end of each.” Hoss responded.

Dave looked at Hoss with concern on his face, and thought ‘So has to have happened at home for them to do this.’ “I’ll do my best, Hoss, and I’ll keep things on schedule for that contract.”

“Thanks Dave, I’ve gotta head back now.” Hoss replied heading out the office door.




Ben’s talk with Charlie didn’t take him that long since Charlie already knew what to do and what was expected of him with reporting in daily. After their talk Ben walked back to the ranch, as he started to go in Paul pulled up in his carriage. “Ben,” Paul said, “wait, I came out to check on Adam.”

Ben looked at Paul knowing that he just wanted to be here for the family as well as to check-up on Adam. “Come in, Paul.” Ben replied. “Thanks for coming out.”

They headed upstairs to check on Adam, when they walked in Ben knew something was wrong. Paul walked over to the bed to take Adam’s pulse and shook his head. Paul looked back at Ben and said “I’m sorry, Ben, he’s gone.”

“No, it can’t be,” Ben whispered. Although he had tried to prepare himself for this he was still shocked. ‘Oh no,’ he thought, ‘how will this effect Little Joe, they were going to talk with each other today.’ Ben looked at Paul and his son, tears running silently down his face as he realized his eldest was gone.

Paul carefully pulled the sheet up over Adam’s face, then turned and slowly guided Ben out of the room. When they left Adam’s room Paul guided Ben down the stairs to the main room, where Paul gave him some Brandy to calm his nerves. Paul sat there with Ben as they waited for Hoss and Little Joe to return.




Little Joe and Hoss arrived back at the ranch at about the same time and noticed Doc Martin’s buggy in front of the house. Hoss and Little Joe quickly put away their horses and went to the house to find out how Adam was. The site that greeted them in the main room was not what they were expecting. Their Pa was sitting in his chair shaking his head like something was wrong, Paul was sitting across from him calmly talking to him, they did not hear the door open therefore didn’t know that Hoss and Little Joe were back home. Hoss walked over to talk with his pa and Paul, while Little Joe headed upstairs to see his brother Adam, because last night he had said they’d talk in the morning.

“Afternoon, Paul.” Hoss said. “Pa, what’s the matter?”

“Hello, Hoss.” replied Paul quietly watching Ben.

When Ben slowly looked up at his son, Hoss knew what had happened by the look in his pa’s eyes and immediately thought of Little Joe because he headed straight upstairs to talk to Adam. “Pa, Little Joe ….”

“NOOOOOO, ADAM!” came the strangled scream of Ben’s youngest son.

Ben looked at Paul as he jumped up and ran for the stairs knowing the effect this was going to have on Little Joe. Hoss was not far behind his pa. When Ben reached Adam’s room he saw his baby standing there looking at his brother like nothing had happened.

Joe stood there and looked at the bed not wanting to believe what he was seeing. He thought about what Adam had told him in the past  ‘I’ll always be your big brother, no matter what happens between us.’ and Joe collapsed to floor saying “You promised you’d always be here, you said you’d never leave me.”

Ben and Hoss quickly moved to Little Joe, Joe looked up and saw his pa kneeling beside him and said “He left me alone again,” wrapping his arms around Ben and crying.

Paul looked at Ben and said “We need to calm him down, maybe I should give him a sleeping powder so he’ll rest for a little while.”

“That might be a good idea, Paul, there’s water in the pitcher and a glass over there.” Ben replied pointing to the table beside the bed.

Paul mixed the sleeping powder in the glass with some water and handed it to Ben saying “Have him drink this slowly, Ben”

Ben took the sedative from Paul and turned back to his youngest, “Joe, I want you to drink this, it will help you calm down.”

Joe looked up at his pa and took the drink, because he just didn’t feel like fighting with anyone. He wanted to be alone but he didn’t, he was glad for the comfort of Pa’s arms around him. He slowly drifted of to sleep wishing he would wake up and this would all be a bad dream.

After Joe drifted of to sleep, Hoss lifted him up and carried him to his room. There with Pa’s help they put him in his nightshirt and put him in his bed so that he could rest and they left the room, heading downstairs to talk.




Once Ben entered the main room he crossed over to his chair and sat down, thinking about Little Joe and what he had said as he collapsed. What did Joe mean Ben wondered.

“Ben,” Paul asked interrupting Ben’s thoughts, “I know you want be left alone, but do you need help making arrangements for Adam?”

“No, Paul, arrangements were made yesterday, and Adam told he wanted to be buried in his black suit. Adam is to be buried up at the lake by Marie, tomorrow morning. Will that give you enough time to prepare him for burial, Paul.” Ben asked quietly.

“Ben, that will give me plenty of time to prepare him. Now, what about you and Hoss, how are you dealing with Adam’s death?” Paul asked.

“It is not easy, Paul, to lose a son and I will grieve for Adam, but right now I fear for my youngest. I’m worried about how the lose of his older brother is going to effect him. Adam has asked me to give Joe his journal after the funeral, hoping that it will help him and I hope that Adam is right. As for Hoss, well I’m not sure how he’s dealing with Adam’s death, they were close, but like me he is also worried about Little Joe.” Ben answered.



After talking with Paul, Ben headed upstairs to sit with Little Joe. Joe sleep was not peaceful as he had hoped it would have been, when Ben walked into to the room he noticed that Little Joe was restless and he wondered what was bothering him. Ben walked over and sat in the chair by Little Joe’s bed.  Ben picked up the picture of Marie from the bedside table and looked at it then thought ‘Marie, give me the strength to get our baby through this, he’s going to need us both, my love.’

When morning came Hoss found his pa asleep in the chair in Little Joe’s room, he didn’t want to wake them up, but knew that he had to, so he walked and gently woke his pa, “Pa, you need to wake up now,” Hoss said, “we have to get ready.”

Ben slowly woke up and looked at Hoss realizing that it was morning and that they had to get ready for Adam’s funeral. He looked over at Little Joe and saw that he was still sleeping and he looked back at Hoss saying “ Hoss, you go get ready. I’ll wake Little Joe and we’ll get ready and meet you downstairs.”

“Alright, Pa,” Hoss replied leaving the room the get ready.

Ben gently shook Little Joe saying “Joe, I need you to wake up now, we have to get ready for Adam’s funeral.”

Joe woke up a quickly realized that it hadn’t been a dream, his brother was gone. He looked into his Pa’s face asking him to tell otherwise, but he didn’t. “Adam’s really gone isn’t he, Pa?” Joe asked quietly.

Ben looked at his youngest son and replied, “Yes, Joe, I’m afraid he is. The funeral is this morning and I need you to get ready.”

“Alright, Pa,” Little Joe whispered.



The funeral was a quiet affair with only the family and a few friends from town attending. After the funeral the family went back to the house for a quite lunch and to rest.

Ben was in his room holding Adam’s journal, he got and headed to Joe’s room finding to door shut he knocked.

“Come in,” Joe replied.

Ben opened the door and walked in. “Joe, I have something to give to you.” Ben said.

“What?” Joe asked curious.

“Your brother, Adam, asked me to give this to you after his funeral, I told him that I would.” Ben replied giving Joe the journal then leaving.

Joe looked at the journal for a long while before deciding to open it and read it. When he opened the journal a note addressed to him fell out, he picked it up and read:

Little Joe,

There are many things that have happened between us, so much that I don’t understand. Think about that I come back from college smart and don’t understand what’s happening between us. What changed you, me, I really don’t know, maybe both.

When I left for college you didn’t want me to leave you and I promised you that I’d be back and then when I came back you didn’t want me. I remember having to rebuild the bond that I’d had with you and how strong it became. I promised you that I’d never leave you alone again and that I’d always protect you. You told me that you would do your best to learn patience and how to control your temper, which started doing over time. However it looks like I’m going to be breaking my promise to you, little buddy, I can’t stay with you anymore or protect you.

Several times you came to me in anger because of a fight you had with Pa only to go back and talk things out with Pa after listen to me explain to you why Pa was doing what he was doing. Now its Pa’s turn, let him help you with your anger and hurt, he understand just as much as I do.



P.S. Little Buddy, I may not be here, but I’ll always be your big brother, Always and Forever. Adam.

Joe wiped the tears from his eyes with his sleeve and looked at the journal, he noticed that the first date in the journal was the day after his mother’s funeral and he started reading.




It was close to supper when Little Joe left his room and headed downstairs to join his family. He felt closer to his older brother now, and it didn’t hurt as much knowing what he now knew from reading Adam’s journal. When Joe walked into the dining area and saw Hoss and his Pa, he could tell that they were concerned about him, so he said “I’ll be alright, Pa.

Ben got up and walked over to his youngest and asked “Are you sure, Little Joe?”

Joe replied by putting his hand over his heart and saying “I may have lost a brother but as long as I have my memories of him here in my heart and my family around me then I can survive. The journal that you gave me of Adam’s started the day after mama’s funeral, it’s Adam’s memories of time he spent with me, along with it was a letter he wrote to me telling me to talk to you, Pa, to trust in you as I had trusted in him. I  may not have always understood what he was telling me to do, but I do know when my big brother is telling me that I need to have the strength and courage to face my fears. You, see Adam knew that I was afraid of death, although I’m also afraid of heights. Getting over the lose of a loved one is not easy, both you and Adam have tried explaining that to me. Adam, after mama’s funeral and you before Adam died, I finally came to understand when I read Adam’s letter and at the end he said ‘Little Buddy, I may not be here, but I’ll always be your big brother, Always and Forever.’ Joe responded”


The End