Summary: While working at Archie Bunker's Place, Mandy Mason hears of John Lennon's death. Soon, she has to make a difficult decision that may cause her to lose her job.

 

 

ARCHIE BUNKER’S PLACE

Starting Over

(An Archie Bunker's Place Fan Fiction Story)

By: Kristi N. Zanker

Author's Note: In 2003, I decided to write an All in the Family/Archie Bunker's Place fan fiction story that surrounded the death of John Lennon. I created a fictional character for this story, Mandy, since there wasn't a character who was a Beatles/Lennon fan on the show. For those of you who are familiar with ABP, you'll notice as you're reading that some of the regular characters are missing. I did not include them because at the time I wrote this, I was not too familiar with ABP (as I am now). I hope you enjoy the story, I had fun writing it. Happy reading!

Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters, settings, etc. are the property of Embassy Television, Norman Lear/Tandem Productions, The O'Connor-Becker Company, and UGO Productions. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I, in no way am associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Archie Bunker's Place. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

Starting Over

(An Archie Bunker's Place Fan Fiction Story)

By: Kristi N. Zanker

 

Archie Bunker’s Place was quiet that night. All the customers were satisfied with their drinks. Barney Hefner, Archie’s longtime friend, sat at the bar and struck up a conversation with him.

“Hey, Arch, you know what day it is today?” asked Barney.

“Barney, do I look like an idiot? It’s Sunday,” retorted Archie.

“I know its Sunday, but what day is it?”

“Awww Jeez, Barney, I think you’ve had enough to drink and it’s almost midnight!”

“I’ve only had four beers. It’s a special day. And can I have another beer?”

Archie sighed and poured Barney his fifth drink for the night.

“Let me guess, Blanche is back in your life.” There was a hint of sarcasm in Archie’s voice.

Blanche used to be Barney’s wife, although she could not stay with one man and continued to run off with several while still married to Barney.

“Don’t say that name anymore, this has nothing to do with her!”

“Then, what the hell is it?”

“It’s Pearl Harbor Day! Don’t you remember, the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December seventh, nineteen forty-one and today is Sunday.”

“December seventh, nineteen eighty! Get your history right!”

Archie went over to one of the tables, and began to collect the empty glasses. Barney followed him.

“Don’t you remember? You got your draft notice in the mail and you were about to enlist?” reminisced Barney.

“Why are you telling me this now? I know what I did then.” Archie shoved two glasses at him. “Here, make yourself useful.”

“I don’t work here, I only come here to drink.”

“Just help me out, will ya? Harry’s organizin’ the storeroom. And why do you have to bring up all this Pearl Harbor stuff, huh?”

Harry was Archie’s other bartender.

“Because it’s a special day! Pearl Harbor was bombed on Sunday and today is Sunday. We used to talk about the war all the time.”

“Yeah, well, them days are over now.” Archie paused for a moment and then spoke quieter. “Those was good times though. I remember Edith would—“ Archie gently placed the glasses in the sink, and took the others from Barney.

“What would Edith do?” Barney asked as Archie grabbed a dishrag and headed over to the same table.

“Oh, nothing, nothing…she always wrote me such long letters.”

Archie stood still for a moment. To Barney, it seemed like he had forgotten something.

“I gotta go now, Barney, Harry’ll close. Here, give this to him, he’ll finish cleanin’ dis.” He handed the rag over to Barney.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Arch?” Barney watched as Archie quickly grabbed his coat and hat.

“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just that….Stephanie’s babysitter always plays this record by this British fag, whatever the hell is name is.”

“Oh, Mandy? She works here too, doesn’t she?” asked Barney.

“Mandy? No, he’s a guy! A singer!”

“Mandy also works at the bar too, right?”

“Huh? Yeah...yeah, she does.”

“He’s a singer, you said? Oh, you must mean, John Lennon.”

“Who? Oh yeah, …he was in that group.”

“The Beatles.”

“Yeah, Gloria liked them. I hated them. Jeez, they don’t write music like they used to, I tell ya.”

“I hear you.”

He left the bar, not hearing Barney’s last words.

Archie walked in the door of 704 Hauser Street. The record player sat next to the phone and was playing John Lennon’s latest album Double Fantasy. The song 'Woman' filled the living room.

“Awww Jeez! Not dis again!” Archie whined.

Eleven-year-old Stephanie ran into the living room and hugged Archie.

“Hi, Uncle Archie! Mandy and I are making a snack for you.”

“Hey, aren’t you supposed to be in bed? It’s a school night.”

“Yeah, but I wanted a snack.”

“Oh, whatever…you know if you’re Aunt was here, she wouldn’t let you get away with dis thing you’re pullin’ here!”

Stephanie was quiet for a moment. “I know.”

“Well, I’ll let it go for one time, but that’s all. Hey, could you turn off Jim Lemon over there?”

“It’s John Lennon!” She corrected him.

“Awww whatever. Please turn it off.”

“Okay.” Stephanie went over to the record player and snapped it off.

Twenty-eight-year-old Mandy Mason came into the dining area carrying a bowl of chocolate pudding and three smaller bowls.

“Hi, Mr. Bunker, I didn’t hear you come in," the blonde said as she set the bowl on the table and began filling each bowl with pudding.

“Of course not, you had that thing blastin'.”

“Sorry, I know you don’t like things to be too loud. John hasn’t had an album out in years.” Mandy looked over at Stephanie. “I just wish they would have put Yoko’s songs on one side and John’s on the other.”

Stephanie nodded.

“That’s right, he married that Jap lady. Now, I remember. Gloria had brought home a record with the two of them naked—on the cover for everyone to see! I didn’t want to see it, so I took the record, broke it in half and cut up the cover. The world don’t need none of dat!” Archie said.

Mandy definitely knew he would say something about John and Yoko. They were different and Archie had a hard time handling change or things that were out of the ordinary in his world.

“Gloria didn’t speak to me for a week. But let’s get away from this now…I’ve got something to say. Today is a special day," said Archie.

They all sat down at the table and Mandy passed out bowls of pudding for everyone.

“Why is it special?” asked Mandy.

“Today is the day that the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor," Archie replied.

“It’s today? I didn’t hear anything in school about it,” said Stephanie.

“No, not today, in nineteen forty-one.”

I remember, we learned about it in school,” replied Mandy.

“Yes, that was a beautiful war. They sent me to fight the wops and Krauts.”

Archie…” said Mandy.

“The Eye-talians and Krauts…uh, Germans.”

“What did you do in the war?” Mandy continued.

Stephanie kept on eating her pudding as if there was no tomorrow.

“I was in the Air Corps., we dropped bombs on them Germans. Edith always wrote me such long letters….uh, you better get to bed now, sweetheart and you better head home.”

Mandy and Stephanie looked at each other. It has only been a little over two months since Edith had died from a stroke in her sleep. Stephanie left the table, then slowly climbed the stairs.

“Okay, Archie. I’ll clean this up." said Mandy.

"Yeah...."

Archie headed into the living room and sat in his chair. Mandy quickly put the bowl of pudding in the refrigerator, washed the smaller bowls and headed out the back door.

The next night, Mrs. Canby, a neighbor, came over to watch Stephanie. It was busy at Archie's bar because of Monday Night Football. Archie had asked Mandy to help out since it was going to be so crowded. Everyone hung around until eleven that night. Mandy was tired from going back and forth to the bar, serving drinks. She even helped out in the restaurant because there weren’t enough waiters or waitresses. Mandy couldn't understand what was so important about some dumb football game. While sitting down at a table, taking a short rest, she had sworn she heard Howard Cosell say that "this is just a football game." He agrees with me, she thought.

"Hey, Mandy,” called Archie. Mandy instantly stood up.

"Oh, sorry. I was just taking a rest."

“Come into the office, I want to talk to you."

I'm going to be in trouble for resting again, she thought. I'm going to be fired.

The two of them walked into the office (which was also the storage room) and Archie shut the door.

"Sit down over there,” said Archie, as he pointed to the chair on the other side of his desk.

“You haven’t heard the news, have you?” he asked her.

"What news? Who won the game? I wasn't paying attention."

“Never mind that, it was something said during the game."

"All I heard was Howard Cosell saying that football was just a game."

"Awww, jeez, then you didn't hear.”

"Hear what?"

"That guy, John Lennon, you like to listen to so much…” Archie paused for a moment. “He was shot and killed a few minutes ago."

Mandy gasped and suddenly couldn’t breathe. Finally, she found her voice.

"What?! You're kidding aren't you! I know you don't like him, but that's a cruel joke!"

"It's not a joke! Howard Cosell announced it."

"I didn't hear anything like that!" It's not true! I'm sure I would've heard it! Her mind shouted.

"Well, it's true." Archie spoke softer.

"I'm going home; I don't have to listen to this. You're a horrible person, you know that? I don't say rude things about people you like! If Edith were here, she wouldn't let you get away with what you just said."

"You leave Edith out of this! It's true you know…what happened! I ain't makin' it up! I thought I was doing the right thing, by telling you. It's hard telling someone about someone else bein’ killed."

"I'm going now." She left Archie alone.

He sat at his desk, staring at boxes and boxes of booze across the storage room. Archie still missed Edith greatly. Tears started to form, but he brushed them away. He didn't want anyone to see him cry, especially people at work.

The next day, the papers verified the news; it was true--John Lennon was dead. When Stephanie came home from school, she found Mandy sitting at the table staring at the newspaper. Archie had phoned her that morning to come over in the afternoon and help Stephanie with her homework. He didn’t say anything else. She agreed, but thought that she wouldn’t be helping Stephanie much longer after what she told Archie yesterday. Mandy’s eyes were red from all the crying she had done since she’d gotten home last night, after turning on her radio. Now, the papers and television knew too.

"What's wrong?" Stephanie asked her.

"A friend of mine was killed."

"Oh, some teachers at my school were crying about John Lennon's death."

"That's who my friend was."

"You knew him?" Stephanie sat down next to her, eager to hear more.

Mandy nodded.

"Wow! What was he like? I think it’s cool to meet someone famous."

"Well, when I knew him, he was a very nice person. John was like anyone else. He was so funny! He always made me laugh and knew he could come talk to me if…oh, I—I shouldn't tell you anymore."

"Why not?"

"When you're older, you'll understand."

"Oh. Does Archie know you knew him."

Mandy shook her head. "No way, and don't you tell him."

"I didn't know you knew him until today."

"Stephanie, you're the second person I've told since I knew him. I told your Aunt Edith, shortly before…you know.” Stephanie nodded and Mandy continued.

“I first met him during the summer of nineteen seventy-three. At that time, I was twenty-one years old, the first time out on my own. I knew him until the end of nineteen seventy-four. I didn't tell anyone for the longest time because I just knew they wouldn't believe me."

"I believe you. Did Aunt Edith believe you?"

“Yes, she did.” Mandy hugged Stephanie. "Thank you. I want to show you something." Mandy found her purse on the couch and took out a pair of sunglasses.

"These were John's."

"They were?!"

"Yeah, he gave them to me, saying he had plenty of pairs. We met at an eye doctor's office, of all places." Mandy laughed. Stephanie did too.

Archie walked in the front door.

"Hi, Uncle Archie!" She ran and gave him a hug.

"Hi, You. Hi, Mandy." Archie hugged Stephanie back.

"Stephanie, I think you should start your homework now," said Many.

“Okay, thanks for telling me about—“

Mandy shushed her. Stephanie got the message, grabbed her school bag off of the couch and ran upstairs to her room.

"I got your schedule for the weekend,” said Archie.

"Oh, what is it?"

"You're working Friday evening from five til midnight and then Saturday and Sunday all day."

"Okay. I'll be there."

"It's nice to come home to some peace and quiet, no records blastin'."

"What did you mean by that?"

"I didn't mean nothing, but it's nice to—"

"I know what you meant! You're glad he's gone, aren't you?"

"I never said that! Now, come on, I wish you'd stop this nonsense. It's not like the world has come to an end. He's still here—on the radio, on his records. I mean, the people I listen to are long dead too."

"Archie, no one you knew was killed the way John was. And I don't want to talk about John with you anymore. You, of all people, would not understand,” Mandy retorted.

"Why did they kill him?" said Stephanie, who leaned over the railing on the steps.

"Hey, ain’t you supposed to be up there doin’ your homework?” Archie said firmly.

“Yeah, but I had to ask that question and I want a snack.”

“No snack, but I’ll answer the question for you," said Archie.

“This should be good,” said Mandy, under her breath.

“The truth is, I don't know, sweetheart. Maybe it's because they didn't like what he had to say or how he sang."

"Archie, people don't like what you have to say and no one has shot you yet!”

She couldn’t believe she just said that, in front of Stephanie too! At first she felt anger, but then felt her stomach churning. Archie turned and stared at her, his eyes were an ice blue.

"You get out right now! How dare you say that to me! If I was your father, I'd belt you good, no matter how old you are, or think you are!"

Mandy grabbed her purse, ran past Archie, and out of the house. He looked over at Stephanie. She started to head upstairs.

"Wait, I didn't mean none of that…but I didn't like what she said."

"She knew John. His sunglasses are on the table." Stephanie ran to her room.

Archie decided he would have a talk with her later. He went over to the table and picked up the glasses lying next to the paper.

"She knew him, huh?" He said quietly.

*~*~*

Mandy was helping Archie clean up the bar at four in the morning on Sunday, December 14th. She did her best to avoid her supervisor the rest of the week since the outburst. She was always taught to respect her elders. Her eyes were puffy from all the crying she'd done throughout the week. The nagging numbness she felt after being so awful to Archie only added to her mourning. Ever since she read about the silent vigil for John in the paper, she'd been hesitant to tell Archie she would not be in until later in the afternoon. She had to be there at the Dakota...for John. Well, it's now or never, she thought.

“Mandy, how about we end it for the night,” said Archie.

“Okay...Archie? I forgot to tell you something. I won’t be coming in this afternoon until later on.”

“Why not? I gave you your schedule. It’s going to be a busy day today. You’re supposed to come in at two.”

“I can’t. I have someplace else to go.”

“What’s so important that you’ll be late for work again?”

This whole week, she was never on time. Lately, nothing seemed to matter anymore.

“Uh, well…there was something in the paper earlier this week—about John. You see, his wife is holding a silent vigil at two today and I’d like to go down to the Dakota and be there for him.”

“You what?! What the hell’s a virgil?”

“Vigil.”

“Whatever! No, you won’t be going there. You’ll be coming here! If you’re late, like you have been, I hate to say this, but you won’t be working here anymore.”

“Archie! You can’t do that! You don't understand! I have to go there this afternoon.”

“You’ll be here! You’re not standing silent for some guy you don’t even know.”

“Okay...but I’m still going," she said and walked out the door.

Mandy couldn’t understand why Archie was being like this to her. She’d worked there for nearly three years and was usually a reliable employee. After all, it wasn't everyday that someone you've loved and admired was murdered.

A half hour before the silent vigil was to begin, Mandy hailed a cab and was on her way to the Dakota.

“I hope you can get there, Miss. The place is going to be crowded.” The cab driver told her.

“I know.”

“I can’t believe that jerk shot him. And he was a fan? I loved John’s music and The Beatles. I grew up with them. Even listened to them when I was in ‘Nam,” reflected the cab driver.

“I grew up with them too.”

Mandy had a sinking feeling in her stomach and a lump in her throat. She really did not want to lose her job. She really wished Archie could understand her feelings right now.

“Uh...Sir? Could please turn around and go to Archie Bunker’s Place?”

“Sure, Lady. But don’t you want to go to the Dakota first?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to lose my job.”

“I gotcha.”

He turned the car around on the next street and headed toward the bar.

Mandy’s heart pounded as she walked toward the frosted door. She was going to go in there and tell Archie everything—about meeting John, the sunglasses, her feelings and why she was late for work all this week. Then maybe he would understand her better. She glanced at her watch. Two on the dot. The silent vigil would begin. She took a deep breath and opened the door to

Silence. Silence in a bar, this was unusual, she thought. Unless…. No, it couldn’t be!

She saw Archie standing behind the bar, motionless, just as everyone else was. She went over to where he was standing and gave him a hug.

When the silent vigil was over, Archie told Mandy to come into his office.

“Stephanie told me you knew John," he said as the two of them sat down.

“Yeah, I did.”

“I have something for you." He opened a drawer and took out a brown paper bag. "You left these at our house.” He pushed the sunglasses toward her.

“Thank you, Archie.”

“You know somethin’? Edith did tell me that you met him, but I didn’t believe her. I should’ve though," he said softly.

“He was a wonderful friend. That's the most important thing....I wasn’t expecting the silence when I came in.”

“Well, I know he meant a lot to you and it’s a terrible thing that happened to him. It was hard for me to tell you because, even though this situation with John was different; I remember some of my friends in the war who got shot. It was hard to leave them there and go on. But with John…it’s terrible, just terrible. Even though I don’t really care for the rock ‘n’ roll, it’s still sad.”

“I’m sorry, Archie, for what I said earlier at the house. It must’ve been hard for you to tell me about John, considering Edith. I’m glad I was able to tell her about him…well, you’re the third person who knows.”

“Being third is good. And oh, you still have your job. I really didn’t want to fire you. You’ve been a big help to Stephanie these past few weeks and you’re great help at the bar.”

“Thank you.”

“You know, the pain, it’ll still be there. It will creep up when you least it expect it to. But as time goes on, things will get better.”

“You too, Archie, things will get better for you too. John wrote a song called "Just Like (Starting Over)." In a way, we’re both starting over.”

Archie nodded and the two of them got up silently and headed back into the bar to their respective jobs.

Copyright © 2003 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

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Copyright © 2014 by Kristi N. Zanker