Pairings/Characters (this chapter): John-Boy (Narrator), John/Olivia, Esther, Jim-Bob, Jason, Elizabeth, Erin
Fandom: The Waltons
Genres: Drama, Holiday, Suspense
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
General Summary: As World War II grows closer to Waltons Mountain, John is haunted by the memory of a lost loved one during the last War.
Chapter Summary: The Haunting begins.
Date Of Completion: February 24, 2017
Date Of Posting: March 24, 2017
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Lorimar Productions does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 949
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: All chapters can be found here.
Glints off gold,
A time long past,
Precious and old.
Loved ones gone,
As smiles fade,
In the autumn of 1941, the Second World War was coming to Waltons Mountain. Though many pretended not to, deep down everyone knew it. My parents and grandmother remembered the First World War and what it had cost them. My father’s older brother Ben never came home from France while he did twenty-three years ago. The loss of my Uncle Ben was always with us, but as the latest War came closer, my father felt the loss more keenly.
The days were growing cooler as October burst out its glory on the Mountain. The bright colors always made a good show of Nature, and there was excitement for the approach of Halloween. The Walton children were too old for trick-or-treating, but there was a dance planned for the community at Godseys’ Hall. Decorating at home was done with Jack O’Lanterns, cornstalks tied to the front porch pillars, and a black Witch cut-out hung on the front door, despite Olivia and Esther’s discomfort with the latter.
The sawmill was working at full capacity. John and Ben were putting in long hours, but neither complained too much. After years of Depression, it was good to have some prosperity again. Olivia made sure they were well-supplied with cold drinks and snacks when necessary.
One evening John trudged from the mill. Ben was on a date with Cindy, so he had finished up alone. A slight breeze blew, rustling the trees.
John liked seeing the warm glow of light in the windows. It always gave him a good feeling to know that his family was safe and happy in their cozy house. A smile creased his tired face.
John looked around. “Jason? Jim-Bob?”
There was no answer. John shrugged. The wind could play tricks with a man’s ears, especially when he was tired. He trudged up the steps and entered the house.
Grandma, Jim-Bob, Jason and Elizabeth were gathered around the radio listening to Charlie McCarthy, while Olivia and Erin were on the couch sewing. A fire crackled in the hearth as John went to the kitchen sink and washed his hands. When he returned to the living room he sat down in his favorite chair.
“I hit that baseball right outta the park!”
“I know. I saw you against the Yankees last night.”
“You know what they call me?”
“The Splendid Splinter!”
The radio audience laughed, joined by the Waltons.
“He must think he’s Ted Williams,” Jason quipped.
John felt himself relaxing after a long day’s work. His eyes began to close as his clasped hands rested over his stomach.
“Time waits for no man. Or a wooden dummy,” said Charlie.
John felt himself beginning to drift off. His energy was no longer that of a young man.
Well, so be it. Still got enough to put in a good day’s work.
“Well, now, ain’t that a kick in the head!”
“Charlie, stop being a wise guy,” chided Edgar Bergen.
“Kind of like you, huh, Johnny?”
John shook his head side-to-side. No one called him Johnny anymore.
“Charlie, you’re impossible!”
“Well, Johnny, don’t you look cute napping away.”
John roused himself awake. He blinked and looked around. Everyone was absorbed by the antics on the radio. Even Olivia and Erin were listening as they sewed.
“Hmph, musta been dreamin’,” John muttered. He closed his eyes again, sinking back into a twilight state.
“The Nazis are securing their foothold in El-Alamein as Rommel’s Afrika Korps dominate the desert. The news from China continues to be grim as Chiang Kai-Shek’s forces battle the Japanese on all fronts. In the South Pacific…”
John felt restless. He could hear voices talking as he tried to open his eyes. He felt a cold breeze and shivered. Opening his eyes, he blinked. For a minute he thought he saw fog drifting around the radio. He rubbed his eyes.
Must be tireder than I thought.
He looked over to see Olivia’s concerned expression. “Wha…?”
“You look cold. You all right?”
“Um, yeah.” John smiled wearily. “Just a little tired.”
“You’ve been at it all day. Why don’t you go to bed early? It’ll be quiet upstairs while we’re all down where.”
“Y’know, that sounds like a good idea.” John stood and smiled at his wife. She smiled back and promised to be up soon.
John trudged up the stairs and yawned. A good night’s sleep would fix him right up.
He went to the bathroom and washed up, then removed his clothes in the bedroom, leaning against the dresser. He was about to drape his jeans over the chair when something did not seem quite right. He took a closer look at the dresser.
The photograph of his brother Ben in his Army uniform was set at the edge. Confused, John pushed it further back on the dresser.
“What are ya doin’ here, Big Brother?” The gold-framed photograph was kept in his mother’s bedroom, not his. Maybe his mother had put it here by mistake.
He looked at his brother’s smiling face. He remembered the day the picture had been taken. His mother had a photo of himself and another one of the two of them in uniform, arms slung around each other and smiling.
Two very young pups going off to war, expecting a great adventure. Mostly we got blood and bombs and fear in those stinkin’ trenches.
John shook his head and crawled into bed in his longjohns. The picture on the dresser wobbled slightly as laughter drifted from downstairs.