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Accident Prone
By Lynn
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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 has a rough morning

It was a beautiful summer morning at the Barkley Ranch. The Barkley family was filing into the dining room for breakfast. Victoria was already sitting in her position at the head of the table. Audra entered the room followed by Jarrod and then Eugene.

"Good morning, Mother," each of them said as they alternately placed a kiss on her cheek and took their places at the table. Nick came in behind them and boomed, "Good morning, Mother. It's a beautiful morning."

"It is at that, Nicholas," Victoria agreed smiling at him. She passed him the coffeepot as he took his place at the table. "Nick, would you mind getting Heath? I don't want his breakfast to get cold."

Nick reared back his head and hollered at the top of his lungs, "HEATH! MOTHER SAYS YOUR BREAKFAST IS GETTING COLD!"

The entire family jumped in unison like startled deer. Jarrod spilled his coffee, Audra dribbled syrup down her blouse, Victoria knocked over her glass of juice, and Eugene, who was getting ready to place a bite into his mouth, accidentally stuck himself with his fork.

"Nick!" Victoria shouted. "That's not what I meant! One day you're going to give one of us a heart attack and it had better not be me!" She began mopping up the juice with her napkin. His siblings took turns throwing a dirty look his way.

Heath came limping into the dining room.

"Well, what happened to you?" Jarrod asked Heath.

"Boy howdy, Nick. You tryin to start an earthquake or somethin?" I was comin down the stairs when Brother Nick there let out that cry of the banshee of his. I didn't expect it and it startled me. I fell on the stairs."

"Oh, well, sorry there Heath," Nick said looking just a little embarrassed. "I hope your leg there isn't hurting you too bad."

"I think I sprained my ankle," Heath grimaced as he sat down.

The rest of the family glared over at Nick. Nick smiled back at them and shrugged. They turned towards Heath and gave him a poor-Heath look. Nick decided he might as well grab a piece of ham off the platter. He stabbed his fork at a really large slice he'd been eyeballing. Just as he made the snag, Heath's fork pierced the same slice. Nick sneered at Heath, sighed and looked over at Jarrod expectantly.

Jarrod, tired of this routine, hurriedly picked up his knife. He muttered, "Oh, for Pete's sake," and haphazardly began to slice at the piece of meat.

Heath let out a blood-curdling scream. "Ahhhhhh! My hand! You've cut my hand!"

Everyone looked at Heath's hand. There was a jagged slash oozing blood across the top of his right hand.

"Heath, you've ruined a perfectly good piece of ham there," Nick bellyached.

"Oh, Heath," Jarrod said, "I am so sorry. I guess this is getting to be such a regular thing that I wasn't really paying attention. Please forgive me." He jumped up and took an extra napkin from the table over to Heath.

"Let me see that. Now, now that's not too bad. We'll have that wrapped up in no time." Jarrod wrapped the napkin around Heath's wounded hand and tied it. "All better? I am so angry with myself, I could spit."

Heath looked at his bandaged hand and mumbled, "That's all right. I forgive you, Jarrod."

Jarrod reclaimed his place at the table. "Thank you, Heath. I really don't deserve it."

Nick gave Jarrod a you-must-be-kidding look and then turned to Heath and said, "Well, I hope you can still go into town with Jarrod and me today."

"Well," Heath said pitifully, "It's all gonna hurt a bit but I . . . I think I can manage it."

They all looked at him sympathetically.

"How about some of that coffee, Sis?" Heath asked.

Audra, feeling sorry for Heath, jumped up with the coffeepot in hand and took it around to his side of the table. "Here Heath, let me pour this for you. You shouldn't be pouring in your condition," she cooed. In her enthusiasm to help her brother out, she slipped and dropped the pot of scalding hot coffee into Heath's lap.

"OWWWW!" Heath leapt up from the table. He wanted to grab the injured area but with Mother and Audra present, thought it best to grab his butt instead. He began a little limping dance around the room. "Ow, ow, ow! Boy howdy that was hot!"

"Oh! I'm so sorry Heath," Audra cried out.

"Great balls on fire, Audra!" Nick yelled. "Watch what you're doing there. You could keep poor Heath from having a family!" The remaining male Barkleys winced watching Heath hop around the room holding his butt.

"Heath, what can I do to help?" Audra asked almost in tears.

"Nuthin, nuthin," Heath managed to say through clenched teeth. "Just eat your breakfast. It'll be okay, Sis."

Victoria sprang into action. She grabbed the water pitcher off the table and threw the water right at Heath's privates as he passed her while circling the table again. Unfortunately, her grip on the water pitcher slipped and it followed the water to its target with a loud clang and a thump.

That action brought Heath to his knees. "Ohhh," he moaned. He couldn't believe a woman that tiny could lob a pitcher of water so hard. Jarrod, Nick and Eugene jumped up from the table with eyes wide. They looked at each other and flinched. Together they all let out an "Eewwwwh."

"Heath!" Victoria shouted. "Heath! I'm sorry. It slipped. Somebody got jelly on the pitcher handle."

Eugene examined his hands and then guiltily hid them behind his back.

Victoria put her hands on Heath's shoulders. "Oh, Heath! What can we do for you?" she asked visibly shaken.

"Gee, Mother," Nick said, "How come you never make a fuss over me like this when I'm in trouble?"

"Me neither," squeaked Eugene.

Victoria shot them both a murderous look. Nick backed up towards Jarrod and Eugene backed up towards Nick. They both shut up.

Heath couldn't speak. He was just shaking his head no again and again and making low guttural sounds.

"Jarrod, Nick, Eugene, what can I do for Heath?" Victoria asked.

"Nothing," they all answered. "He'll just have to ride out the pain, Mother," Jarrod stated.

Just then, Silas came into the dining room from the kitchen with a fresh pot of steaming hot coffee. He took one look at Heath on the floor writhing in agony, his crotch steaming. Silas' eyes grew big as saucers as he hesitantly asked, "Anyone for some more hot coffee?"

"No!" Heath yelled.

"Well, yes. I'd like some," Nick said.

"Silas! Get back in the kitchen with that coffee pot!" Victoria barked scowling at Nick. Silas made a hasty retreat to the kitchen.

"Mother, I'm afraid you may have fixed it so you won't have any grandchildren from Heath," Audra whimpered hoping to remove that responsibility from herself.

"Don't be ridiculous, Audra!" Victoria snapped back. "Heath, maybe we should get you into a tub of ice water or something? Not that I'm really looking forward to being a grandmother but it probably would reduce any swelling and numb the pain."

"Mmmmnoooo, nooo," Heath managed to get out. "I don't need no bath. I wanna go back to Carterson."

"Carterson Prison? He's obviously delirious from the pain," Victoria said. "Jarrod, Nick, let's get him into a tub of ice water quick!"

"Oh, Mother, I just don't think that's such a good idea . . .," Nick began.

She shot him a shut-up-or-die look. "Well, okay," he said. "Whatever Mother wants . . ." he grumbled under his breath to Jarrod as they picked Heath up off the floor.

"Eugene, you run out to the ice house and get some ice," she demanded. "And be quick about it!"

"Yes, Mother." Eugene scampered out of the room.

Jarrod and Nick began to haul Heath up the stairs to the washroom. Near the top of the steps, Jarrod yelled, "Easy Nick! Not so fast. I'm trying to get my footing." Nick stopped abruptly and they lost their grip on Heath. They both watched as Heath began tumbling down the steps like a log. Heath let out an "Ow" with each step he made contact with and then rolled to a stop at the bottom in a crumpled heap.

"Now, look what you did, Jarrod," Nick said testily.

"What do you mean me? You're responsible for this one, Nick," Jarrod replied.

"Nick, Nick," Heath moaned trying to raise his head.

"Yes Heath, yes, what is it?" Nick rushed to his brother's side.

"You ARE . . ." Heath's voice was barely audible and Nick lowered his ear to Heath's mouth to better hear his words.

"Yes, yes go on," Nick urged.

" . . . a bull in a china shop," Heath gasped. "Jarrod is right." Heath exhaled and his head slumped back to the floor.

"Oh for . . . ," Nick grumbled. "Jarrod, you are useless!"

"Nick, don't push me," Jarrod warned.

Losing patience, Victoria cried, "Oh stop bickering about who is responsible and who is useless and get poor Heath up to the tub. Hurry!"

Jarrod and Nick completed the second portage of Heath up to the washroom without incident. They got him undressed and put him in the tub. They poured bucket after bucket of cold water on top of him while Heath shrieked in shock from the cold. They heard a bump-bump-bumpety-bump sound coming towards the room. Eugene burst through the door with beads of perspiration on his forehead. His shirt was soaked from sweat and he was grappling with a colossal chunk of ice.

"Dump the ice in the tub," Nick demanded.

Eugene staggered over to the tub wobbling under the immense bulk of the ice. His stringy muscles suddenly gave out and the ice chunk plunged into the tub landing on Heath's kneecaps. A tidal wave of cold water gushed from the tub drenching everyone. Heath let out an animal cry.

"GENE!" Nick yelled. "You clumsy little corset waist!"

Eugene ran from the room squealing, "Sorry Heath. Truly sorry, but I just remembered that I have homework to do. Hope you feel better soon."

"Bad break, Heath," Jarrod said watching Heath rub his knees.

"What about us big brother? I'm soaked," Nick grumbled. "That water is COLD and that is a fact! Why, just look at Heath there."

Jarrod looked at Heath. Heath's teeth were chattering. "He's turning blue," Jarrod exclaimed. We'd best get him out of there now, Nick."

They hauled Heath out of the tub and swaddled him in dry towels.

"We'd better get him near a fire and get him warmed up immediately," Nick said. "Mother, would you and Audra get a fire going in Heath's bedroom?"

Victoria and Audra raced off to Heath's room to get the fire started. Nick and Jarrod gingerly carried Heath into his room and lovingly place him in a chair near the fireplace. Audra was prodding at the logs in the fireplace with the poker. "I can't get these logs to lay just right," she whined.

"Allow me, little Sister," Jarrod said taking the hot poker from Audra. He poked and prodded at the logs until he maneuvered them into a position where they could get a good flow of oxygen. The fire flamed up putting out a sudden wave of heat. Jarrod reared back to avoid the heat and flames and in doing so, swung the glowing hot poker behind him. He heard a loud sizzle, which was followed by a scream. He turned and looked behind him to see Heath staring intently at a large ugly red mark in the shape of a poker on his arm. Heath began to blow on the wound frantically.

"Heath!" Jarrod shouted in utter horror. "I am SO sorry."

"I'll get some butter for that burn." Victoria ran towards the stairs.

"Jarrod, you really must learn to be more careful with those hot pokers," Nick lectured.

"I know, I know, Nick. Believe me when I say, I am so angry with myself, I could spit!" Jarrod shook his head dejectedly.

"Poor Heath," Audra sniffled. "Oh, poor, poor Heath." She placed a kiss on his cheek.

Heath, whose normal color was beginning to return, began to babble, "Ittthh okay thhis, I forgivth efthryone."

"Heath," Nick asked wearing a look of concern, "what's the matter with your speech?"

Heath was speaking as if his tongue was numb. "Itth watth tho cold in thhe batth and my teetttthh were thattering tho muth thhath I bith my thongue."

"Well, whatever you do, I wouldn't mention it to Mother," Nick said matter of factly. "I'd hate to see what her remedy for that might be."

Victoria came running into the room with a dish of butter. "Here Heath, this will soothe the burn."

"No budda Mudda," Heath mumbled.

"Whaaa . . .?" Victoria asked puzzled.

"No budda. I juth wanth to get drethed and be by mythelf. Okay? Pleath, everyone juth leaff me be," he pleaded.

"Well, if you insist Heath," Victoria said sadly.

"I inthith," Heath said.

"Come along, Audra. We have things to attend to." Victoria took Audra by the hand.

"Let me know if there's anything I can do for you, Heath," Audra called sweetly. "Poor Heath." They both left the room.

"Well Poor Heath, you're still going to town with us, aren't you?" Nick asked.

"Nick, I hathh a loth of inthuries," Heath responded while he discarded the towels and limped over to get into his pants. "Thith coulth be a record day and ith noth even noon yeth."

"Well now, that never stopped you before," Nick said.

"Yes, you know how quickly you recover," Jarrod added hopefully. "We could really use your help in town. I'm sorry about those injuries, Heath. I know for my part, I'm so ma . . . "

"Jarrod, if you say it one more time, I'm going to belt ya," Nick chided. "Allow me. We're all so angry with Jarrod, we could spit, right Heath?"

"Well, I'm tho angry withh you all, but I don't thhink I couldth spith righth now." Heath finished dressing. "But, I forgivth you." He grinned at his brothers. "Leth go tho thown."

"Yahoo!" Nick yelled. "Atta boy!" He slapped Heath on the back and Heath fell to the floor groaning.

"Nick, be careful! " Jarrod scolded helping Heath to his feet.

"Owth," Heath said as he limped out of the room supported by his brothers.

Outside, Ciego had their horses saddled and ready. Jarrod and Nick mounted their horses and began to ride towards town. Heath smiled at Ciego as he took Charger's reigns from him.

"Have a nice day Senor Heath," Ciego called after Heath as he rode off.

Jarrod and Nick looked back to check on Heath's progress just in time to see Heath and the saddle toboggan off of Charger and hit the ground with a loud whump. The saddle and Heath slid along the ground for about 25 feet throwing up dust and debris.

"Thhiego!" Heath yelled.

"What is it with our little brother?" Nick asked Jarrod.

"I don't know, Nick. I've never been able to understand why he's so accident prone," Jarrod said shaking his head.

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