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The Award
By Barb
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Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Big Valley" are the creations of Four Star/Republic Pictures and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended. No infringement is intended in any part by the author, however, the ideas expressed within this story are copyrighted to the author.

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Heath and his family encounter some difficulties going to an awards ceremony.
Nick Barkley paced the downstairs rooms of the family mansion. Not a patient man under normal circumstances, he was now in such a state his brother Jarrod voiced concern.

"Nick, why donít you sit down? Mother and Audra will be ready soon."

"I don't wanta sit down, Jarrod," Nick growled, and continued to pace. "What in blazes could be takiní em so long? It's not gonna be easy gettiní to Stockton on time."

"We'll make it," Jarrod said, calm in the face of his brother's panic stricken state. "All there is left to do after the lovely ladies come down is to get Heath loaded on to the buckboard."

"That's all, Pappy! Sure, that's all. Do you realize what a chore that's gonna be? Why, it's likely to take an hour or so!"

Jarrod began to form a response, but halted when he heard his mother's voice from the top of the stairs. "Hurry, Audra, we're running a bit late."

Victoria Barkley then came gracefully down the stairs dressed in one of her finest going to town outfits. She smiled at her two oldest sons. "Your sister will be down in a minute."

"A minute!" raved Nick. "Always a minute, then another minute, then---"

"Nick, Dear, whatever has you in such an agitated mood?" Victoria asked. "Why, this is a very joyous day for our family. It's not everyday that the Barkley name is so honored."

"Yes, I know, Mother," Nick said. "That's why I think we should get started."

"Nick feels, Mother, that we will be late, uh, due to Heath's, uh, rather unfortunate, uh---"

The matriarch of the Barkley family frowned at her oldest son. It wasn't like Jarrod to stutter and stammer. "Say what you mean, Jarrod," she instructed sternly.

"He means that I donít think we can get Heath loaded up in time to get to town in time to receive that award they're gonna give him in time, "Nick answered for his brother.

"That was very poor use of the English language, Dear," Victoria said. "But I understand your anxiety. I, too, wonder how we will ever manage, but we must. Heath must be in Stockton to receive that award."

"Couldn't the commissioners come out here to give it to him?" Nick wanted to know.

Jarrod provided an answer. "Nick, you know I asked them to. They said he can't have it unless we get him to town."

Audra, the only Barkley daughter, came gliding down the staircase.

Having overheard the conversation below, she added her opinion, "Oh, that's so dreadful and mean. Heath will be in such pain."

There was a general round of shrugging from Victoria, Jarrod and Nick, and then Jarrod said, "I suppose we had better get started."

"Yes, well be as gentle as possible with the poor fellow," Victoria said.

They walked then, Jarrod with his arm around his mother's waist, and Audra with her arm linked in Nick's, to the game room. There, Heath Barkley stood in a corner, propped up by an ever watchful Silas. His family came to stand before him.

"Well, Heath, my dear fellow," began Jarrod, "Are you ready to go to town?"

Heath nodded. It was difficult for him to speak, but he attempted to do so. "Boy Howdy, Jarrod, I guess so. It sure is nice of the commissioners to give me the award."

"Uh, yes, Dear, it is," Victoria said, a might distracted by the formidable task she could see they had ahead of them.

"Well, Heath, we'll just, uh, move you a little at a time," Nick told his brother. "Uh, is there something you can move on your own? I mean----"

Heath shook his head forlornly. "I'm afraid not, Nick. Sorry."

"Oh dear," Audra moaned. "We'll never get him out of the house to the buckboard."

"Now, now," Jarrod soothed. "Heath just has a few things wrong with him. Not to worry, we can move him."

"Is that a fact!" Nick roared. "A few things, is it? Letís see, he has two broken legs, two broken arms, a concussion, a punctured lung, a bleeding ulcer, an abscessed tooth, two cataracts, a sinus infection, callouses on his feet, an ingrown toenail, six broken ribs, and very bad breath."

"Boy Howdy, Nick, you forgot somethiní," Heath managed to say.

"What?" Nick wanted to know.

"Well, the doctor did say I might be cominí down with the Mumps, the way my jaw is swollen."

The family ran from the room, Silas with them. Heath would just have to manage for himself, and if the commissioners really wanted to give him that "He Took A Lickiní And Kept On Tickiní" award, they would be obliged to come to the house.

The End

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