Pairings/Characters (this chapter): John/Olivia (Olivia does not appear in this chapter), Ep Bridges
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: John talks over old times with Ep Bridges.
Date Of Completion: February 25, 2017
Date Of Posting: March 29, 2017
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Lorimar Productions does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 758
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: All chapters can be found here.
LIKE LEAVES IN THE FALL
Off to war,
Singing and gay,
When the shooting
On a fine
Some of them
Never the same.
Some of them
Torn and lame.
Some of them
In the fall,
Back to earth.
Edna May Hampstead
“The Boys Of 1917”
It was another beautiful October day. John wished that he could go fishing, but the Wilkinson order was due today. Ben was delivering the first load into town while John worked on the remainder.
By mid-morning John was taking a break, drinking a glass of lemonade and talking with old friend Sheriff Ep Bridges. The sheriff was drinking lemonade, too, and chatting pleasantly.
“Had a dust-up last night. Coupla of the boys got a little sauced and started shootin’ The Bucket up.”
“Tell me about it. I had to wrangle ‘em before they hurt someone. Dopes are coolin’ their heels in jail now under the watchful eye of my deputy.”
“Hmph. I remember getting’ a little liquored-up in my day, but not with a gun!”
“Dumb is dumb, I guess.” Ep shrugged.
John finished his lemonade and poured another glass, refreshing Ep’s as well. “Young or old fools?”
“Middle-aged. The Scott brothers.”
John shook his head. “They were in the War. They should know better.”
“Some vets can’t help it.”
“You and I did all right.”
Ep nodded, still troubled. John took a sip of lemonade and said, “I’ve been thinking about the War lately.”
“Mostly about Ben.” John thought about the odd events of last night. “It’s the twenty-third anniversary of the Argonne.”
John rubbed his face with his hand. He could smell sawdust and wood shavings.
Beats blood and bloated bodies.
“I guess it’s because of the war in Europe.”
“I know.” Ep’s hazel eyes were sympathetic.
“I worry about the boys, especially Ben.”
Ep smiled. “Bit of a hothead, huh?”
John laughed. “Bit of one! You know him, Ep. He’s the most impulsive of all my boys. If we declare war, he’ll run right down to the nearest recruiting center.”
Ep tentatively asked, “You don’t want your boys volunteerin’?”
“I could wait ‘til they get drafted, but I wouldn’t stop ‘em from signing up. I just want them to think about it first.”
“Like we did?”
John smiled wryly. “Okay, that’s a fair point.”
Ep touched John lightly on the arm. “Young men are always bristlin’ for a fight. Ben will do you proud if we get involved in this latest war.”
“You think we’ll be able to stay out of this one?”
Ep shrugged. “That’s for FDR to decide, but we might have to fight. You really think that Hitler’s just gonna be satisfied with Europe and Africa?”
John took a long gulp of lemonade. He suddenly wished it was the Baldwin Sisters’ Recipe instead. “No.” And Ep had not even mentioned the Japanese.
The silence hung heavy in the workshop. A cold breeze suddenly gusted through and swirled the motes of sawdust around in a golden frenzy. John could feel goosebumps form on his arms.
Ep said, “Got an interestin’ visitor in town a few days ago.”
“Oh?” John was glad for the change in subject, pulling his shirtsleeves down..
“Yeah, some college professor from up North.”
“Yeah?” Not the usual type of visitor in Charlottesville.
“She was lookin’ for directions to Lilabelle Watkins’ place.”
“I know.” Ep shook his head in amusement. “Crazy Yankee, right? But that’s what she wanted.”
“She from New York?”
“Boston, actually. She’s got a fellowship at Harvard, she says.”
“Harvard?” John was impressed.
“Yep. Actually, she lives up in Salem.”
“Salem?” John’s eyes widened slightly. “Better keep that under your hat. People around here already think Lilabelle’s a witch.”
“Funny how the mountain folk, the most consarned suspicious people around, don’t care she’s a witch, accordin’ to some.”
“Maybe because she doesn’t put curses on people and knows folk medicine.”
“You could be right.” Ep finished his lemonade. “Anyway, Professor Simmons is a right handsome woman.”
“What’s she teach?”
“Didn’t rightly say.” Ep put the glass down. “Thank Livvy for the lemonade. I gotta get back to town.”
“Back to work for me, too.”
Ep drove away in his official car and John went back to his saw, trying not to think about war, whether one from nearly a quarter-century ago, or the current one creeping closer and closer to America’s shores.