As Ben gathered his boots and jacket, he turned toward Hoss who had dropped his boots as he strapped on his gunbelt. "Shh, shh, you'll wake your brothers."
"No, Pa, Adam was up late like usual last night, and he'll wake up at dawn and no sooner, and Little Joe won't wake up ifn we just use the word 'work'. Honest, you should try it."
"Hoss, I have WORK to do and it's very early, and I didn't get enough WORK done last night."
"Oh, yeah, Pa, that's it. He'll hear that word and put a pillow over his head."
"All right, you ready to go?"
"As ready as I could ever be to do this because I never thought I would be doing this with my father."
"Hoss, that man said I was 'old'. He said I was 'too old' to play pranks. He said I 'didn't know how to have fun' any more." Ben's voice rose with each sentence. He had been very upset when his arch rival had taunted him with those words emphasizing how old he said he was. He was out to prove to that man at least that he wasn't old at all by doing something that young people did.
"I know, Pa, but you sure this is the one you want to do?"
"You and your brothers pulled this one on me. I assure you that it is the right one. When I questioned your brothers, I found out that you were the one who came up with that plan. So you're the logical one to do this with me."
"Yeah, Pa, but Adam figured out the angle for the rope, and Joe was the one who snuck up and looped the rope over the hook."
"Well, then you learned how to do that from working with them."
"Yeah, and I suppose Adam would do his best to talk you out of doing this, and Joe would be giggling so hard, it'd be hard to get it done without waking everybody up who was within a quarter mile of us. All right, I got the rope all set to go, and I got a hook in my pocket. I got the tools and other stuff in my saddlebag. Now all we have to do is get over there and do this."
The two men had to ride slowly because the full moon gave some light but not enough for a fast ride. As they neared town, Hoss tried once more to dissuade his father from this task. "Hey, Pa, now I know he made fun of you, and I know he said you couldn't do stuff like this, but why do we have to do this? Is it because you said you could do anything a younger man could do, and you could do them better than he could?"
"Yes, that's part of it."
"Cause now ifn you don't do it, then he'll probably make more fun of you?"
"Yes, I have to admit that's true too."
"Pa, didn't you always teach us to follow the golden rule? Aren't we supposed to forgive and forget and treat our neighbors like we want to be treated?"
"Hoss, we are doing this. Now let's be quiet so no one hears us and recognizes our voices."
Hoss and Ben rode into town and up behind the target's house. Once they were there, Hoss did his work with his father as his assistant. It did feel nice to be in charge and to be able to give orders to his father. Once he had the hook fastened, he strung rope over a tree limb and attached his extra element to the surprise. Then he directed his father to a hiding spot convenient for what they had to do next. Finally all they had left to do was wait with the rope in hand for their target to come out to use what he had bragged about so incessantly. Only about twenty minutes later, Ben hissed that he had seen his nemesis. Hoss made sure that the coil of rope was ready to go with no tangles and nothing in the way. The man walked around his necessary looking on the ground for a rope or any other signs that anyone had tampered with it. He never noticed the hook up high on the small structure with a rope up and over a tree branch. Hoss had stained the rope a dark color and it blended in with the tree branches very well. Once the target went inside and closed the door, Hoss handed the rope to his father with instructions of what he needed to do. Soon Ben was back, a little short of breath but fired up too. Hoss handed him the rope after tying it with the second rope that Ben had brought back with him after tying it around the necessary effectively locking the target inside.
"Pull real hard, Pa."
Ben was more than happy to follow Hoss' advice, and soon Barney Fuller stood where his necessary had been surrounding him just a moment before. His pants were down around his ankles and a dozen tin cans were clanking in the breeze with enough noise to draw all of the neighbors' attention and there was nothing around him to protect him from public view. His nice new large necessary structure lay on the ground behind him. It's plastered walls and nice padded bench with the two seats useless as it lay on its side. Barney stood and shook his fist at the wooded area behind his house where Hoss and Ben stayed hidden and kept silent.
"I know it's you, Ben Cartwright! I'll get you for this, Cartwright, I'll get you for this. I will!" That's when he seemed to remember that he was exposed and the neighbors were able to see him. He pulled his pants up and skedaddled to his house. Hoss and Ben started laughing then.
"Yeah, Pa, that's what Barney Fuller gets for bragging about his new necessary and picking on you like he done. Shur did work out nice for us reminding you about the time we done it to you. Course we didn't hang any cans in the tree to make noise and draw more attention. That was fun just for the family. This was for everybody."
"Thank you, son. I never could have done this without you."
All the commotion had drawn a small crowd and Dan DeQuille from the Territorial Enterprise had been on his way to work. He pulled out a small sketchpad and notebook. Little items like this had a tendency to entertain readers and sell more newspapers so he knew his editor would like it. Ben and Hoss smiled broadly as they retreated through the trees to their horses and a pleasant ride home after a father-son escapade.