Pairings/Characters (this chapter): John/Olivia, Harley Foster, Jason Walton, Erin Walton, Esther Walton, Sarah Simmons, Jim-Bob Walton
Fandom: The Waltons
Genres: Drama, Holiday, Suspense
Rating (this chapter): G
Spoilers (this chapter): For The Book (Season 3, Episode 11)
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 receives a startling invitation.
Date Of Completion: March 4, 2017
Date Of Posting: April 30, 2017
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Lorimar Productions does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1411
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: All chapters can be found here.
Popular Folk Saying
17th Century C.E.
“You’re working too hard.”
John was startled by Harley’s words. He nearly dropped the board he was carrying to his truck. “What?”
“You look tired.”
John threw the board onto the truck. “I’ve been busy with a lot of orders.”
“Guess prosperity’s finally back.”
“I’d like for that to show up and stay awhile.”
Harley laughed. “Can’t argue with you there.” He mopped his dark brow with a red handkerchief.
John checked his watch. “Will you stay for lunch?”
“Nope, Verdie’s got her good friend chicken waitin’ for me, but I thank you for the invitation.”
“Okay, enjoy your lunch.”
“Be back in an hour.”
John went into the house as Harley left. Olivia was just finishing fixing sandwiches as he washed up at the kitchen sink.
Last night had rattled him, but he had chalked it up to exhaustion. He was still uncertain about his experience, but it had to be just a tired mind. Ben had been on his mind a lot lately.
Olivia set the sandwich plates on the table. “Harley went home?”
“Verdie’s fried chicken was calling him.”
She laughed. “Can’t fault him for that. She’s a great cook.” She poured glasses of apple cider. “How’s the work coming along?”
“Good. With Ben up in Richmond negotiating a new contract, Harley is a godsend. He and I don’t even need to talk to know what the other one needs, and he’s a tireless worker. Worth every penny I pay him.” He looked approvingly at his sandwich. “Cold chicken from last night?”
Olivia nodded. “Your favorite.”
John grinned. “I’d say you’d give Verdie a run for her money when it comes to cooking chicken.” Olivia smiled. “Speaking of work, I might be able to knock off early tonight.”
“Good. A relaxing evening is what you need.”
“Relaxing around here?”
“Now, John, it can be quiet around here at night.”
“Well, I’ll admit, Liv, now that the kids are adults, we’re able to enjoy some fairly quiet evenings.”
“Just you see tonight.”
As John worked in the mill alone after Harley had gone for the day, Jason appeared.
“Hey, Daddy, I got an hour before Bobby picks me up. Need some help?”
“Yeah, Harley and me got most of it done, but I want to finish this last batch before I quit.”
Jason grinned and put on his work gloves and got to work.
Companionable silence filled the sawmill as John and Jason went about their tasks, the noise of the machines filling the crisp autumn air. While Ben was a chatterer, Jason was John’s quietest child. Second-born, he was sandwiched between bossy eldest son John-Boy and raucous eldest daughter Mary Ellen.
Jason was so self-effacing that when he had landed a job with Bobby Bigelow and The Haystack Gang, he had tried to tell his good news but no one had listened, too caught up in the excitement over John-Boy’s first published book, which had turned out to be a vanity press scam. Jason had given up, not wanting to steal his brother’s thunder. Gradually the news came out and John had never been prouder.
As the saw’s noise dwindled John said, “You know, Jason, any time you need to talk, I’m here.”
Jason smiled gently. “I know, Daddy. And there’s always the Mountain.”
John nodded. “Just like Alvin York did in that movie about him. He took to the Tennessee hills to decide whether to be a conscientious objector or not.”
Which is what Jason had recently struggled with while serving in the National Guard. He was being trained to kill, but would he be able to take a life if necessary?
A shadow fell across Jason’s face and John felt a chill.
“Daddy? You okay?”
“You seem upset.”
“No, just tired.”
“I wish I could stay, but Bobby will be here any minute to pick me up.” Jason stripped off his gloves. “You know how impatient he is.”
John laughed. “He sure is a man in a hurry.”
Jason clapped a hand on his father’s shoulder. “You should knock off early.”
“That’s the plan.”
“Good. See you tomorrow.”
“Have fun, son.”
John shivered as a cold gust of wind blew through the sawmill as Jason walked out into the twilight.
John had to admit that Livvy was right. The house was quiet as Erin read, Grandma rocked in her rocking chair, Jim-Bob worked on some contraption out in the barn, and Elizabeth was out on a date. Ben was still in Richmond and reported negotiations going well, and of course Jason was working with the band.
Olivia sat at the end of the couch and smiled at John, who was sitting in his favorite chair. She was winding a ball of yarn and looking smug.
He picked up his latest Zane Grey paperback. Time for a good read and just relaxation, which he desperately needed. His strange hallucinations showed that in frightening ways.
He settled down to read, soon immersing himself in the Old West.
The clock on the mantel chimed nine times. Grandma and Erin had gone to bed and since Jim-Bob was still out in the barn and Elizabeth and Jason had not come home yet, it was just him and Olivia left in the living room.
“Quiet enough for you?” she asked.
“Could hear a pin drop.”
She smiled. “Well, got to be up early in the morning. You staying up awhile or coming to bed?”
“Gonna finish this chapter, then I’ll be up.”
“All right.” Olivia stood and went up the stairs.
John concentrated on his book when a sound attracted his attention. He looked out the window and saw a shadowy figure on the porch. His gut clenched as he slowly laid aside his book, rose from his chair, and walked to the door, yanking it open.
“All right, what…?” He stopped in confusion.
An unfamiliar woman looked startled. “I was just about to knock.”
“Sorry.” John shut the door behind him as he came out onto the porch. “I saw you through the window.”
“Are you John Walton?”
“Lilabelle speaks highly of you.”
John tilted his head. “That’s a Boston accent?”
“Very good, Mr. Walton.” She held out her hand. “Professor Sarah Simmons of Harvard University.”
John shook her hand. “Sheriff Bridges mentioned meeting you.”
“All good, I hope.”
He smiled. “Come on in. It’s cold out here.”
Sarah’s smile was pleasant. She was definitely ‘handsome’, as Ep had said, with short blond hair, peaches-and-cream skin, and blue eyes that exuded intelligence. She wore a warm brown coat with matching pants stuffed into hiking boots. A dark-green cloche covered most of her hair, but wisps peeked out. He judged her to be around maybe 35 or so. She stayed on the porch, her expression carefully neutral.
“Lilabelle would like to invite you to a séance on Halloween.”
John was taken aback. “Séance?”
“I know it’s a little unusual…”
“Very.” He glanced involuntarily over his shoulder. Livvy would have a fit if she knew he was even discussing witchcraft with this stranger. “Why?”
“She says your brother has been trying to contact you.”
John felt ice sluice along his veins. How did Lilabelle know?
Sarah smiled, not without sympathy. “She’s the real thing, Mr. Walton. Can you get away from your family on Halloween?”
John’s first instinct was to refuse, but he remembered all the strange things concerning Ben that had happened lately. Despite his scoffing at talk of magic and witchcraft, he had grown up on this mountain and had heard strange tales, many of them told by his deceased father.
“Yeah, I can.”
“Good. Lilabelle says you know where her cabin is. Come for eleven-thirty.” She smiled. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Walton.” Sarah Simmons turned and walked off the porch and down the road, disappearing into the darkness.
John stared down the road for several minutes, the leaves rustling in the night as whispers swirled around him. “Ben?” he whispered.
John jumped. “Jim-Bob!”
“Sorry to scare you. Why you standin’ out here in the cold?”
“Uh, just got distracted. You finished tinkering for the night?”
“Come on in, then.”
John ushered his youngest son inside, glancing back over his shoulder. Was that someone standing in the road? He blinked but there was nothing there.
The door closed behind John and Jim-Bob as shadows shifted along the road.
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