A Waltons Story

(The Waltons Fan Fiction)

By: Kristi N. Zanker

 

Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters, settings, etc. are the property of Lorimar Productions and Warner Bros. Television. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I, in no way am associated with the owners, creators, or producers of The Waltons. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

19.

The Confession

 

The next morning, as John-Boy sat at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee, Olivia and Elizabeth cleared the table, while Mary Ellen took John-Curtis outside to visit with the animals in the barn. Erin stood at the sink, washing the large pile of dishes and when the table was empty, Elizabeth joined Erin at the sink. Olivia sat across from him and asked if he slept well the night before.

“I slept decent. Mama, you don’t have to worry about me,” he said as he took another drink.

“I’m your Mama, I’ll always worry about you. You have dark circles under your eyes. I want you to rest today.”

“Don’t worry, I intend to.”

Just then, the phone rang. John-Boy watched as Elizabeth sprinted toward the ring, saying, “I hope it’s Drew!”

Right before she picked it up, John-Boy quipped, “Say, when are you going to introduce me to him?”

Elizabeth didn’t answer, as she then said into the receiver, “Hello? Drew, I just had this feeling it would be you.”

She chatted in the background as Olivia told John-Boy that he should take a walk down to Ike’s for a visit. Jason had gone there about a half hour before and went to buy guitar strings.

“Before he left, I forgot to give him this list of things I need. Would you take it down to Ike’s for me? It’ll be nice for you to get outside and some fresh air.”

“Sure, Mama,” he said, as he got up and planted a kiss on her cheek.

“It’s good to have you home. It’s been so long,” she said.

Without another word, Olivia handed him the list, which consisted of the usual condiments—gravy, sugar, fruit, bluing etc. He headed for the door and was about to leave, when the phone rang again. He stopped just to see who it was. When he found out, he wished he’d already gone.

“John-Boy, its Daisy,” said Elizabeth, standing by the phone. “I just got off with Drew and the minute I set the phone down, it rang.”.

He didn’t want to talk to her. But he couldn’t tell his mother and youngest sister that. He set the list down, next to the phone, and she handed him the receiver.

“Daisy,” he said.

John-Boy listened as she went on, sounding frantic because she couldn’t get through.

“Elizabeth was on the phone,” he could tell his voice was clipped.

His answers were abrupt. He wanted to sound as normal as possible, but it was difficult, as he wanted to get off the phone right away. John-Boy felt their eyes on him as his back was to them. She went on to say how dare he left without telling her. She had no idea where he’d gone. He listened to the high pitched voice, mumbling “yes,” and “I know” every so often. Finally, he had had enough.

“There’s a reason why I didn’t tell you where I was. If you’re smart, you’ll know what it is! Now, don’t bother me again.” He slammed the receiver in the cradle. The force caused the phone to give a tiny ring that faded into the silent room. John-Boy turned around and stared at half of his family who now stood in the kitchen, with wondering eyes as to why he acted that way. Instead of satisfying their curiosity, he grabbed the list, and went outside. As the door slammed behind him, he heard his father’s voice inside, “What happened here?” John-Boy didn’t wait to hear their reply.

At least the walk would calm him down. He knew what he would be coming back to, but he didn’t want to think about that now. Ike and Corabeth did not see this outburst, they knew absolutely nothing, where as his family was getting the puzzle slowly together. He would feel safe there, at least for a few moments.

The bell tingled as John-Boy opened the door. He saw Jason conversing with Ike about the guitar strings. They both looked up when the bell sounded.

“John-Boy! Welcome home!” Ike ran up to him and gave him and shook his hand. Corabeth came into the store from the house in the rear part of the building and gave him a welcome-home hug.

“Mama needed these few things,” he said, as Ike took the list from him.

“So, John-Boy, the world has changed and yet Waltons Mountain remains the same,” said Corabeth.

“It’s always been like that—even during the Depression. It’s still there, still beautiful.”

“Agreed. You must be thirsty after your walk here. I have some freshly-made lemonade,” said Corabeth.

“Sure, I’ll have a lemonade,” he replied.

“Coming right up.”

“How’s Daisy?” Jason asked.

“She’s fine,” said John-Boy in a quiet voice.

“Well, I better head back; I have to open the Dew Drop this evening.”

“See you around.”

He waved as Jason left. John-Boy heard the bell tingle as the door opened and closed. He thought he had heard someone come in the store, but he wasn’t sure. Glancing around, he could see that very little had changed. He noticed that the prices went up, as they had in New York, after the war ended. He noticed a few fountain pens on display. Seeing those brought him back to when Ike had given him one on his high school graduation day. John-Boy winced when he realized that was eleven years ago. Time moved so quickly elsewhere, but it seemed to stand still on Waltons Mountain.

He heard footsteps behind him and thought it was Corabeth coming back with his lemonade. Instead, he saw Ike at the cash register who asked the other customer in the store if they needed anything. John-Boy didn’t hear them say anything. He saw Ike nod, and then went over to the clothing display to straighten it up. Just then, he was sure someone was behind him. When he heard the voice, he thought he’d pass out.

“Do you still have your dulcimer?”

He knew that voice. It was the only voice who knew that he could play a dulcimer. John-Boy turned around and saw Jenny Pendleton standing in front of him. Suddenly, it wasn’t 1945 anymore. It was 1933 all over again, when he first met her.

“No, I stopped playing that years ago. I think it’s still at the house somewhere.” John-Boy smiled. It had been a long time since he really smiled. “Jenny—“

“John-Boy, it’s good to see you. But I didn’t think you would be here.”

“I didn’t know you would be here either. But it’s great to see you again.”

“Here you are, John-Boy,” said Corabeth, as she handed him his lemonade.

“Miss, would you like some lemonade? It’s surely to cool anyone down on a day like today.”

“No, thank you, Ma’am. I would like some cleaning supplies and fabric. You see I make my own clothes and I’ll need—“

John-Boy listened as she described the texture and pattern of the fabric she needed. He wondered when she began to make her own clothes. He also questioned why she needed the cleaning supplies. Did she have some type of job as a seamstress or a maid? His mind wandered. She was still beautiful, as if he’d seen her yesterday. Her brown hair was still long. He could tell, even though most of it was in a tight bun, a few strands lingered, outlining her face. Ike asked Jenny if she needed any help carrying these things home. He walked over and set his empty glass on the counter. He told Ike to thank Corabeth again for the lemonade.

Before he could stop himself, John-Boy offered to take Jenny’s supplies home, where ever that was now. A part of him felt wrong for doing so because when Jenny pushed a few strands of hair behind her ear, he caught a glimpse of a diamond ring, with a matching wedding band. She turned to look at him, as he picked up the large box. He saw her eyes dart to his left hand and back. He knew she saw his ring as well. Still, he followed her out of the door and outside into the summer blaze.

As they stood outside of the store, John-Boy suddenly remembered the list his mother had given him.

“Jenny, would you excuse me for a minute? My mother gave me a list of things she needed. I have to go back and get them,” he said as he set the box down on the bench near the door.

“Oh, you go on. I’ll be here. By the way, how is your mother?” she asked.

“She’s doing just fine,” he smiled at her and then headed back into Ike’s.

When he emerged from the general store for the second time within the same hour, he found Jenny sitting on the bench next to the box. He placed his mother’s things inside the box, picked it up and asked her, “Where to?” A smile crept across her face, as she began to laugh.

“Why John-Boy! Where has your memory gone? It’s the same place as always.”

“You mean, you’re staying at your father’s house?”

That house had been abandoned for many years. Many times, after Jenny left with her stepmother for good, he’d walk past there, hoping to see someone inside. His mind raced. It was just too big for a young girl like her to live alone. Wait…perhaps she didn’t live alone. His mind was clouded.

“Yes. For now, at least. I just need to clean it up and Corabeth is going to help me sell it.”

“Corabeth?!” John-Boy laughed. Yes, of course. He remembered the sign in the one corner desk that read “Real Estate.” “Oh, yes. That must be here new career now.”

“She’s been at it for quite some time she told me and she’s the only person I know around here who does that sort of thing.”

“I guess you’re right about that. Well, shall we get a move on?”

A breeze of dust greeted them as they opened the door. The smell of mothballs and dampness hung in the air and the feel of loneliness beckoned them. John-Boy set the box on the floor, as he went around the room, opening up every window that would budge. The furniture sat forlornly, covered with two or three inches of white dust. It’s going to take more than one person to get this place ready to be sold, John-Boy thought. He shuddered at that thought. Sold! He couldn’t imagine anyone else living in that house, except Jenny and her stepmother.

“Jenny, I—I’d be glad to help you clean this place.” He offered.

“That’s very nice. Maybe your family can help too?”

“No—no, that wouldn’t be a good idea. At least, not right now.”

“Why not? They don’t remember me?”

“Oh no, no, of course they remember you! It’s just that—it wouldn’t be a good idea.”

“Well, alright. Let’s see what we can get finished.”

John-Boy carried the box into the kitchen and set the contents on the table. He saw Jenny open up cupboards, putting the cleaning supplies away. The sunlight from the window caught her ring. Suddenly, John-Boy felt like an intruder. He had to leave.

“I—I better go now.”

“You seem nervous.”

“Well, it’s just that…it’s not right for me to be here now.”

“Why not?”

“Well, your husband could be home any minute.” He felt his stomach turn and a weight had been dropped. He shouldn’t have said that. He had seen Jenny’s reaction, as she dropped the fabric on the floor.

“I’m sorry, I’ll get that,” he said, as he picked it up and placed it on the table. “I didn’t mean to—“

“John-Boy, my husband…Jack was killed in action over in the Battle of the Bulge.”

Bastogne…the Battle of the Bulge…he was there too. But he didn’t tell Jenny that.

“Jenny, I—I’m—“

“That’s the first time I’ve said his name since I heard the news almost nine months ago now.”

“I’m so sorry to hear about that, Jenny.” It was all he could say, feeling his throat close up. Instead, he bravely walked over to her, and put his arms around Jenny and held her tight.

For the next two hours, John-Boy and Jenny talked about what went on in their lives since they last saw one another. He told her about Boatwright, The Blue Ridge Chronicle and some of the controversial articles that were written, about New York and moving there, his first and second novels in the stores. Jenny smiled as she explained that her husband bought her a copy for her birthday. He said it would remind her of the place she loved so much, and it did. Jenny had tears in her eyes, as she spoke of Jack
.
“The second one didn’t sell so well. I haven’t written much since then. Can’t seem to get into it, I guess. Then, the war came and I was a reporter over in Europe," said John-Boy.

“I still bought the second one. Will you autograph them for me?”

He smiled and nodded. John-Boy then told her about Daisy, how they first met at the marathon dance, to their wedding, and turmoil of a marriage.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen now,” he said. “I don’t even want to talk to her.”

“Give it time. You’ll work things out.”

“You sound like my Mama and Daddy. But I don’t think it will. That’s why I came here for a little while. To get away.”

“Me too. I live in Richmond. When the house is sold, I’ll head back there.”

John-Boy nodded and then asked how her stepmother, Eula was.

“She died three years ago of pneumonia,” replied Jenny.

“Do you know anyone in Richmond?” he asked, then wishing he hadn’t.

“Sure, I do. I have friends and neighbors to talk to and go to movies with.”

“That’s good. You also have my family.” He wished he hadn’t said that either.

“Oh, the Waltons were always my second family.”

By the time, John-Boy returned to the house, it was well past lunchtime. Neither of them had gotten started on the cleaning, but he promised he would be there after lunch. He wanted to invite her home with him, but it just didn’t seem right. It was just too soon.

“John-Boy Walton! Where on earth have you been? I’ve been waiting for those items to prepare lunch. Your father and Ben are starving,” said his mother as soon as he came through the door.

“Sorry, Mama. I got sidetracked and went for a walk.”

“I went to Ike’s and you weren’t there. He said you helped someone carry her groceries home.”

John-Boy’s face turned red. “I did, Mama.”

“You must remember that your wife is waiting for you at home in New York. Don’t go gallivanting off with someone else now.”

“Oh, Mama, please.”

“Don’t you ‘oh, Mama’ me. You were gone for three hours!”

“Alright, Mama, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t you talk to me that way. Is that how everyone talks now? Why the other day, Elizabeth—oh, never mind.” He saw his mother twist and turn the towel she had been holding. “And besides that, Daisy has been calling you all day.”

John-Boy cringed at her name.

“I don’t want to talk to her.”

“I think you should. She was in tears, wondering where you went off to. Your father was so quiet about everything I had to pry it out of him. I know what’s going on, John-Boy.”

Good, he didn’t have to explain anything now. However, he had hoped his father did not bring up the discussion they had about the war and the aftermath.

“The question is what are you going to do about it?”

Forget it, he thought. He had to give some kind of explanation.

“She lied to me, Mama, repeatedly. She cheated on me, and nearly had another man’s child, knowing full well that the doctor said she shouldn’t have anymore children!”
By now, he was shouting. “She told me she loved me and would never hurt me again. But she did, several times and I just can’t take it anymore!”

“You married her for better or worse. You remember the Reverend saying that.”

“Yes, I do,” he said softly. “I’ve tried to make things better, but it just isn’t working.”

“And now you’re making things worse, by going off with another girl.”

He was fuming. He wished he could tell who it was he had been with, but he couldn’t. “I was just helping her out, that’s all! You’re starting to sound like Grandma.”

“John-Boy, I probably shouldn’t say anything, but I warned you about Daisy. I remember when she hurt you the first time, by not telling you about her daughter. For a time, I believed she was a fine, well mannered girl, but still something inside me told me she wasn’t. But you’ve made your bed, now you have to lie in it.”

“Don’t you think I know that!?”

“Don’t use that tone with me.”

John-Boy got up and headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” he heard his mother call.

“Out for a walk!” The door slammed behind him.

He hated speaking that way to his mother. He knew that if his father were around and heard him, he’d surely take him out behind the smokehouse, like he did when he was younger. It wouldn’t matter, even if he was twenty-nine years old now. He would apologize, he thought to himself, later on.

He walked by Druscilla’s Pond, sat there for awhile and thought about Jenny. Everything else gave him a stomachache. One day, he hoped he could bring Jenny home again, just like before. But he knew it wouldn’t be like before. They weren’t in love with one another this time. Those days and feelings had vanished, along with the Depression, and now the war. It was in the past, and he knew he could not go back.

Copyright © 2005 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

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Copyright © 2014 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

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