The Black Gloves
A Bonanza Parody

Debbie Milesky
Answering the burning question
Why did Joe suddenly start wearing those black gloves?

This is a parody of the hurt/comfort genre.  If it’s going to upset you that I poke a little fun at Bonanza, quit reading now.

Oh, Pa!  It hurts...make it quit hurtin’…Please, Pa!”  Joe’s voice cracked as it caught in a spasm of pain.  He grimaced, nestling his head against his father’s shoulder.

“Shhh…it’s gonna be okay Joseph.  Just hang on.  We’ve already sent Hank for help.”  Ben’s eyes misted with tears as he gathered his son close to his heart.  Rocking Joe slowly back and forth, Ben sought to comfort his youngest child.

Hoss knelt next to the pair, despising his feelings of helplessness.  “Pa, what else should we do?”

“Why don’t you take your brother upstairs to his room?”  Ben released his hold on Joe with obvious reluctance.  “Where’s Adam?”

“He’s inside, looking in the medical book.  We never really treated an injury like this before; he wanted to make sure we did it right.”  Hoss lifted Joe into his arms with minimal effort.

“Good idea.  Leave it to Adam to approach the situation logically.”  Ben smiled at the thought of his eldest son, the most levelheaded of the three.  The small grin was quickly wiped away as Joe groaned in pain.


Hoss deposited Joe gently on the bed.   Hop Sing appeared as if by magic, hot water and bandages on a tray.  Joe bit his lip against the pain as Ben gently removed his shirt.  Seeing past Joe’s brave front, Ben reached out to push a wayward curl off Joe’s forehead.
“I’m sorry, Joe, so sorry this had to happen to you.  If only I hadn’t sent you out to mend fence…”

“Pa, don’t do this.  Don’t blame yourself.  It was an accident, pure and simple.”  Hoss placed a hand on his father’s shoulder as he attempted to assuage any feelings of guilt his father might be harboring.

“Damn useless medical books!”  Adam stormed into the room.  “Not a one of them mentions an injury like this!  How are we supposed to know what to do? HOW?”

Ben sank to the bed as the significance of Adam’s statement hit him.  “I guess we’ll just have to wait and pray.”


Ben, Adam, and Hoss rose from the table as they heard the door to Joe’s room open and close.  Hop Sing had insisted on serving dinner, although Ben and Adam’s plates remained untouched.  Hoss, of course, had cleaned his plate twice over.

“Well?”  Ben could hardly speak past the lump in his throat.

“It was nasty, Mr. Cartwright.  I’ve dosed him up with laudanum and bandaged the hand as best I could.  The next twenty-four hours are critical.  If he makes if that long without a recurrence, then his chances are good.  But lots of things can still happen—infections, pneumonia.  He’ll need at least a week of bedrest, and then light work until he’s fully healed.”

“Sounds like you’re saying this could happen again.”  Hoss frowned at the thought of the events of the day repeating themselves.

“It could, and without warning, just like this.  From now on, I want him wearing gloves whenever he works outside.  Might not be a bad idea to wear them nearly all the time.  Can’t be too careful with things like these.”

“Is it really that bad?”  Adam looked at his own hands.

“Of course it’s bad.  You saw Joseph today.”  Ben paced the length of the great room.  “As much as I love the Ponderosa, sometimes I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off living nearer to civilization. If we’d been in the city, this wouldn’t have happened, and if it had, treatment would have been more immediate.  We were just lucky that Sally Sue was in Virginia City today.  She could have been as far away as Placerville.”  He looked to the woman packing her bag.  “What would it take to entice you to settle in Virginia City, Sally?”

Sally closed her bag and stood tall, looking Ben squarely in the eye.  “Ben, you know I can’t settle in one spot.  There’s too much need and not enough bodies to do the work.  Until more manicurists heed the call of the West, it’s my lot, as an itinerant manicurist, to travel my circuit, helping where I can.  Would you have someone else suffer, as Joseph did today?  As long as there are hangnails to be treated, I’ll be moving on when my work is done.  Maybe, if people learned to care for their hands, their cuticles, the way they care for their horses, then perhaps I could settle.  But until that day comes, I am one woman-- one woman with a mission.”  On that dramatic note, Sally picked up her bag and walked to the door.

Hand on the latch, she turned.  “Don’t forget about the gloves.”  And with that, she was gone.


Unfortunately, as we know, it took Joe two more seasons (and presumably several painful recurrences) to fully heed Sally Sue’s words and begin wearing the gloves.  Adam, unable to face a future fraught with painful hangnails, high-tailed it back to the civilized East coast, eventually heading to out to sea.  Rumor has it that he required his cabin boys to be highly proficient manicurists, in addition to their numerous other duties.

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