A Time of War, A Time of Peace by bjnkha9192
1. Chapter 1 by bjnkha9192
2. Chapter 2 by bjnkha9192
3. Chapter 3 by bjnkha9192
4. Chapter 4 by bjnkha9192
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing
Bradley and Neilson slammed down on the buttons of their game controllers.
“Oh I am so kicking your ass” Bradley said as they furiously smashed on the buttons they stood up from a leather sofa in front of a large flat screen TV.
“The hell you are” Neilson said as they focused on the game in front of them.
“Here you guys are” Natalie said entering the room.
“Go go go!” Neilson yelled at the TV.
Natalie looked at them irritated “Guys!” she said once more.
“Yeah just a second” Bradley said to her.
“No no no!” Neilson yelled.
“OH! WHAT?!” Bradley said to Neilson “Totally just kicked your ass!” Bradley said.
“This is a really unattractive side to you” Neilson said to him.
“I’m not even going ask what this is about…” Natalie said.
“Rematch?” Neilson asked.
“You’re on” Bradley said to him.
“Have you guys been here the entire time? I’ve been waiting for you at the library for hours!” she said irritated.
“…Why?” Bradley asked her.
“Yeah when have you ever seen us in a library before?” Neilson asked her.
“I thought we were going to start on our history project together” she said.
“What history project?” Bradley asked.
“The one we were assigned this afternoon?” she asked.
“Oh that” Neilson said.
“Yeah that” she said.
“It’s not due for like three weeks” Bradley said to her.
“Yeah we got plenty of time, don’t worry” Neilson said.
“You do know that this isn’t something you can just slap together at a moment’s notice right? You need to do actual research” she said to them.
“Sixties, JFK, hippies, Vietnam, all that stuff” Bradley said.
“See? We’re half way started” Neilson said to her.
“Alright fine, good luck” she said leaving the room.
“What’d she say?” Bradley asked.
“…Who?” Neilson asked looking around.
2 weeks later:
“Alright guys remember, projects are due next week and you will be presenting them to the class” their teacher said as everyone groaned “I know, I know, pure torture” he said as the bell rang.
“So I’m almost done with my project…how’s yours coming?” Natalie asked Bradley.
“Don’t worry about me alright? I got this” he said opening his locker.
“Bradley, it’s due next week, you have nothing, you really think you’re going to pull this off?” she asked.
“Like I said, don’t worry about me, I know what to do” he said.
“Hey mom” Bradley said entering Vicki’s office later that day.
“Hey, to what do I owe the pleasure?” she asked looking at a file.
“Is grandma home? I’ve been trying to get ahold of her but she’s not answering her phone” he said sitting in a chair.
“Oh yeah she’s out of town” Vicki said.
“What? What do you mean out of town? Where is she?!” Bradley asked.
“She’s in Seattle visiting your great-grandparents” Vicki said to her.
“Well when’s she coming back?” he asked.
“Don’t worry she’ll be back this weekend” she said as he breathed a sigh of relief “Something wrong?” she asked.
“No I just…I have a project due in history and I need her help.”
“Oh yeah? well maybe I can help, what is it?” she asked, he pulled the paper from his bag and handed it to her “You made it all the way to the sixties? I always got stuck in the Industrial Revolution” she said to him.
“Yeah I figured I’d talk to grandma since this was her era and all” he said.
“Don’t let her hear you say that, she’ll smack the blonde right off of you” she said to him “But yeah those were her glory days” she said.
“Oh yeah?” he asked.
“Yeah she was about your age back then.”
“She still have anything from back then? Pictures? Anything about Vietnam?” he asked.
“I don’t know maybe…but I’d tread lightly, this subject is kind of…touchy for your grandma” she said to him Vicki said to her. “God this is due next week? They’ve got to give you more time than that” she said, he looked away from her “Bradley…how much time did they give you to do this project?” she asked.
“…I don’t remember” he said.
“Bradley!” she said.
“I had…more than just a week…” he said.
“How much more?” she asked.
“A week or…three” he said.
“Three weeks?! You had three weeks to do this and you’re just starting now?!” she asked.
“I had a plan!” he said.
“Asking your grandmother questions does not qualify as research” she said to him.
“I know!” Bradley said to her “I looked it up on Wikipedia” he said.
“Oh my god” she said to herself.
“Doctor McAdams, your next patient is here” Marian said.
“Thank you Marian” Vicki said to her “Here, you take this…” she said handing him his backpack “And you go to the library” she said to him.
“The library?” he asked “You mean that place Harry’s always hanging out at?” he asked.
“Just go do your homework” she said ushering him out of her office.
Bradley stared at his computer screen, the words running together as he played with a pencil between his fingers, there was a knock at his bedroom door “God please come in” he said in desperation. Vicki opened the door and stepped in “I’m doing my project, see? I’m working” he said.
“Yeah you look like really hard at work there” she said noticing the Wikipedia page on his laptop “Here I brought you something.”
“What’s all this?” he asked as she handed him a box.
“I went by your grandma’s house and found some of her things that just might help.”
“Oh great” he said looking into the box “Wow, this is grandma?” he asked.
“That’s her, in all her teenage glory” she said.
“Who’s this guy? Doesn’t look like grandpa” he said.
“Because it’s not, that’s Tommy he was your grandma’s high school boyfriend” she said.
“Oh” he said “They break up or something?” he asked.
“No, he enlisted in the army and was sent to Vietnam” she said “He was killed over there” she said.
“Oh” he said.
“Yeah, sweetie, like I said this is a very touchy subject for her, she’s never really gotten over it” Vicki said to him.
“So, she wouldn’t be able to talk about it?” he asked.
“I asked her and she agreed to come over this weekend and give you the full story but like I said just try to tread lightly with this okay?” Vicki said.
“Yeah no problem, thanks mom” he said to her.
“You’re welcome and hopefully next time something like this comes up you won’t wait until the last minute” she said.
“I probably will” he said looking through the pictures, she shook her head and left the room.
“Morning” Bradley said coming down the kitchen steps. ~*~
“What’re you doing up so early?” Brian asked him.
“What early it’s noon” Harry asked from the kitchen table.
“Yeah that’s early for him” Brian said.
“Grandma’s coming over to help me with my project for school” Bradley said.
“I’m all done with mine” Harry said cheerfully.
“No one cares” Bradley said.
“Bradley” Brian said admonishing him.
“Yeah you don’t have to be a jerk just because we’ve had three weeks to do this project and you just decided to start doing it now” Harry said, Bradley glared at him.
“What?” Brian asked.
“…What?” Bradley asked him.
“You’ve had three weeks to do this?” Brian asked Bradley.
“We did? I don’t…I don’t remember anything about that…” Bradley said to him.
Brian sighed “Bradley” he said irritated.
“What? I’m doing it aren’t I?!” Bradley asked.
“Hey” Adam said coming down the kitchen stairs.
“Perfect timing, kill him for me will you?” Bradley said to Adam about Harry as he went to the living room.
“What’d I do?!” Harry asked.
Adam smiled wickedly at him “It’d be my pleasure” he said, Harry looked at him nervously.
“Mom, now if you don’t want to talk about this you don’t have to” Vicki said to her.
“Vicki it’s fine, it’s been over forty years now, I’ll be fine” Lizzie said as they approached the front door.
“You sure?” Vicki asked.
“Positive, anything to help my grandson” Lizzie said.
“Okay” Vicki said as they opened the door and stepped inside.
“Hey grandma” Bradley said to Lizzie.
“Hello sweetheart” Lizzie said hugging him tightly “Oh you get more and more handsome every time I see you” she said.
Brian came in from the kitchen and saw Lizzie standing here.
“Hi Brian” Lizzie said to him.
“Mrs. McAdams” he said timidly.
“You’re not a teenager anymore you can call me Lizzie you know” she said to him.
“I can?” he asked.
“Sure, you pretty much earned that right when you knocked up my daughter” Lizzie said to him.
Brian nodded “Right” he said chuckling lightly before sinking into a chair.
“Grandma I love when you come to visit” Bradley said to her as he kissed her cheek.
“So, your mother says you’ve got some questions for me” she said.
“Uh yeah…if that’s okay” he said nervously.
“It’s fine, don’t worry” Lizzie said to him.
“You sure?” he asked.
“I’m positive, shall we sit?” she asked.
“Uh yeah, sure” Bradley said as they sat on the couch.
“I’ll get you some tea mom” Vicki said.
“Oh no please, let me” Brian said quickly standing up from the chair and disappearing into the kitchen.
“So…I’m not exactly sure where to start uh…okay well uh mom told me that the sixties were basically your hey-day” Bradley said.
“Oh that they were” Lizzie said to him.
“And that your high school boyfriend went to Vietnam” Bradley said.
“He did” Lizzie said.
“And that uh…he was killed over there” he said cautiously.
“He was” Lizzie said.
“I guess I’m just surprised” Bradley said.
“Oh?” Lizzie asked.
“Yeah, I just always assumed that grandpa was your boyfriend” he said.
"Well...he was a boy...and he was my friend" Lizzie said to him “Your grandpa and I grew up together, we were neighbors, in fact after my father, your great-grandfather came home from world war two, Jimmy’s dad got him a job at his law firm, our families were very close” she said. "Your grandpa Jimmy was my best friend but Tommy was the love of my life".
"I guess it all started in 1967, I was about your age, a Junior in high school…Tommy and I had been together for about 3 years at that point, we were completely crazy about each other “times were different then...the country was being torn apart by war, a lot of people were experimenting with drugs and sex and..."
“All the good stuff huh?” Bradley asked.
“Oh…” Lizzie said laughing “In fact before Tommy enlisted the biggest thing that happened to me that year was probably early spring when I decided to give myself a new look, you see my best friend Josephine's mother owned a hair salon…”
Lizzie sat in a stylist's chair a large cap covering her head, Josephine balanced a cigarette in her mouth as she brought two soda bottles to Lizzie.
"For you" Josie said handing her a bottle.
"Thank you, give me that" Lizzie said reaching for Josie's cigarette.
"Your mother is going to kill you" Josie said as Lizzie passed the cigarette back to her. Josie sat back in a chair, putting her wet toenails up to dry.
"It's my head" Lizzie said to her.
"Okay kiddo, ready for the rinse out?" Josie's mother asked.
"Let's do it" Lizzie said to her "Give me that" she said taking a drag from Josie's cigarette.
Color washed down the drain as Lizzie's head hung over a sink, she then sat under a large hair dryer.
"What do you think?" Josie's mother asked spinning her around to face the mirror.
"Oh my god...I love it" Lizzie said to her.
"I think Tommy will love it too" Josie said to her.
"I got to say the blonde suits you" Josie's mother said to her.
“That’s not your natural hair color?” Bradley asked Lizzie.
"It is when she dyes it” Vicki said smiling.
"Excuse me!" Lizzie said to her.
“Alright here we go” Brian said setting a teacup in front of Lizzie.
“Oh, thank you…is this china?” Lizzie asked him.
“Boy bands can be fancy too” Brian said taking a seat.
“So uh, did grandpa know Tommy?” Bradley asked Lizzie.
Lizzie chuckled “Tommy and your grandpa were thick as thieves…they were a lot like you and Neilson actually” she said.
“Oh god” Brian groaned, Bradley glared at him.
“The day your grandfather turned sixteen he had a choice, he could go and help out at his father’s law office, delivering mail and handing out coffee and donuts or he could find a job…so that’s what he did” Lizzie said “He found a job in this little record shop in town.”
“Really? That’s so cool, I didn’t know that” Bradley said to her.
“Yep, he had been working there for about a year and a half, every day after school and on Saturdays, unbeknownst to me the day I went blonde was the day Tommy enlisted. Lizzie said thinking back to her teen years.
"Yes sir…no problem sir" a young James McAdams said on the phone, he stood behind a sales desk “Loud and clear sir" he said. The bells above the door jingled as Tommy came into the store, he gave Jimmy a wave and approached the sales desk. "Yes sir I understand okay, bye" he said hanging up.
“What’s going on there Jimbo?” Tommy asked.
"Ugh jackass boss being a dictator” Jimmy said to him as he began to push a cart around the store “I’m starting to think handing out donuts to a bunch of fat cat lawyers wouldn’t have been so bad” Jimmy said putting stacks of records into the display stands. “Where’ve you been anyways? You weren’t in school yesterday or today for that matter.”
“Yeah uh…something came up” Tommy said following closely behind him “Liz hasn’t been in here yet has she?” Tommy asked.
“You see her anywhere?” Jimmy asked.
“I’m serious, there’s something I need to talk to her about” he said “I have some news she is definitely not going to like” Tommy said.
“That’s great buddy give her old man just one more reason to hate your guts” Jimmy said pushing a cart full of records around.W
“well I think he might appreciate this one” Tommy said following him “I enlisted” he said.
Jimmy stopped in his tracks and turned to look at him in disbelief “What?” he asked.
“I enlisted, yesterday, went down to the army recruiters office and today I went and had a physical” Tommy said Jimmy looked at him dumbfounded.
“I can’t believe it” Vicki said “He enlisted and didn’t bother to tell you?” she asked.
“That’s exactly how I felt, up until Tommy enlisted I didn’t pay much attention to the war, your grandfather on the other hand was dead set against it, he hated that they were sending people our age to another country just to die” Lizzie said to Bradley.
“Wait a second, you voluntarily signed yourself up for this ridiculously unnecessary war, a war we all know is wrong?” Jimmy asked him.
“Hey come on there’s no guarantee that they’re going to send me over there” Tommy said to him.
“Of course they will! They’re sending everyone!” Jimmy said to him.
“Guess they need all the help they can get over there Jimbo” Tommy said picking up one of the records from the cart.
“No, what they need is to end it” ” Jimmy said snatching it from him “Tom people are coming back without limbs when they’re even coming back at all, this is serious stuff” Jimmy said to him.
“Really? And here I thought I was just going for a vacation” Tommy said to him.
“What about school?” Jimmy asked.
Tommy shrugged “I quit” he said simply.
“So that’s it? You’re dropping out?” Jimmy asked.
“Come on Jim, what kind of future do I really have? I’m not as smart as you okay, there’s no Ivy League education waiting for me” Tommy said to him.
“What about Lizzie? Do you have any idea what this is going to do to her?” Jimmy asked him
“I’m not an idiot, listen you can’t tell her about this alright?” Tommy asked.
“No, forget it, I can’t keep this from her” Jimmy said.
“Come on Jimbo, I’m going to tell her as soon as the time is right” Tommy said.
“Alright fine” Jimmy sighed.
“Hello boys” Lizzie said coming into the store.
“There’s my girl” Tommy said kissing her.
“Hey, I missed you at school today, you okay?” she asked.
“Uh yeah…I had to take care of something” he said looking at Jimmy “Uh what’s with the scarf you trying the mod look again?” Tommy asked her her hair wrapped tightly up in a brightly colored scarf.
“Oh yeah, I have a surprise for you” she said before taking the scarf from her head revealing her freshly dyed blonde hair “What do you think?” she asked happily.
“Whoa” Jimmy said.
“Well?” she asked Tommy.
“Oh my god” he said “You…you’re blonde” he said.
“Your mother’s going to kill you, you know” Jimmy said.
“I know! Isn’t it great?” she said happily "Do you like it?" she asked twirling around.
"I love it" he said as she kissed him.
“Come on I can’t wait to show off, let’s go down to the spot and get a soda” she said pulling on his hand.
“Coming Jimbo?” Tommy asked.
“Love to but unfortunately I’m stuck here all night, this place is going to be mobbed any second” he said to them.
“I was so oblivious to how much your grandfather liked me, I was too focused on Tommy to notice” Lizzie said.
“I take it grandma and grandpa weren’t too thrilled with your new ‘do’ huh?” Vicki asked her.
Lizzie scoffed “Are you kidding? My mother nearly had a heart attack when she saw it” Lizzie said to her.
Later that night, Lizzie held her shoes in her hand as she tried to sneak into her house, she crept quietly up the stairs and just reached her bedroom door when the hallway light flipped on.
"Elizabeth" her father said angrily “Do you have any idea what time… are you blonde?" he said laying eyes on Lizzie’s newly dyed blonde hair.
"What is going on?" her mother asked coming into the hallway, tightening her robe.
"Look what your daughter did to herself" Dan said.
“Oh my lord” she gasped “What on earth have you done to your hair?” she asked.
"Oh my god it's dye it's not like I went out and got myself pregnant" Lizzie said irritated.
"Don't you even joke about that" Dan said "Young lady, you do not stay out all night and you most definitely do not do something this drastic without checking with us first!" Dan said as Lizzie’s sister Gracie, rubbed the sleep from her eyes and came into the hall.
“Wow, you look just like Nancy Sinatra” she said to Lizzie.
“Thank you!” Lizzie said to her.
“Alright, that’s it, everyone back to bed” Dan said “We’ll deal with this in the morning” he said.
“Can I dye my hair blonde?” Gracie asked.
“Absolutely not!” Mary said to her.
“Bed, now, young lady” Dan said to Lizzie, she rolled her eyes and went into her bedroom, shutting the door behind her.
“Wow mom, I didn’t know you were such a rebel” Vicki said to her.
“It was the sixties, everyone was a little radical back then” she said to her.
“Hey” Neilson said as the front door opened, Natalie stepping in after him.
“Oh hello Neilson” Lizzie said standing up to greet him “My goodness you’ve gotten so tall” she said.
“Hi…Bradley’s grandma” Neilson said smiling “Oh this is my girlfriend…” he said.
“Natalie, of course I’ve heard all about you” Lizzie said shaking her hand.
“Well I’ve heard a lot about you too, Bradley says you’re the one responsible for his Beatles obsession” Natalie said to her.
“I knew it!” Brian said.
“What’s going on?” Neilson asked.
“Nothing grandma’s just helping me out with the project for school” Bradley said writing in a notebook and clicking a button on a tape recorder.
“Oh good, you’ve finally decided to start working on it after three weeks” Natalie said to him, Bradley glared at her.
“Yes I’m just telling Bradley a story, you’re welcome to join and listen” Lizzie said as she sat back down next to Bradley.
“Oh yeah that sounds like fun” Natalie said.
“Really?” Neilson asked her.
“Yes! Come on, it could be interesting” she said to him.
“Seriously?” he asked he said sitting next to Bradley on the couch as Natalie sat on the couch’s arm.
“What have we missed so far?” Natalie asked.
“Uh grandma went blonde” Bradley said to her.
“Really? That’s not natural?” Natalie asked.
“Yeah right” Vicki said to her.
“Oh!” Lizzie said slapping her leg.
“I just thought maybe that’s where Bradley’s blonde hair came from” Natalie said to her.
Brian looked around confused “Uh Nat?” he asked.
“Oh, right sorry, I keep forgetting about you” she said.
“Wish I could do that” Bradley said writing something down in his notebook “So when did Tommy finally tell you that he enlisted?” Bradley asked.
“It was a few days later actually, I had begged my parents to let him have dinner with us one night, my father was never very fond of Tommy and my mother never really said much either way but I suppose she felt the same” Lizzie said.
“Why’s that?” Bradley asked.
“Tommy lived on what you would call ‘the wrong side of town’” Lizzie said to him. “His father was never in the picture, his mother raised him by herself, he wasn’t a very good student and they thought he was beneath me” she said.
“Really?” Vicki asked.
“Oh yes” Lizzie said to her “Not to mention they were always hoping I’d end up with your father and Tommy got in the way of that” she said to her.
“…But you did end up with Vicki’s dad” Brian said.
Lizzie glared at him “…Can I get back to my story please?” she asked. “Anyways, Tommy came over for dinner that night and it was the first time I’d ever seen my father approve of anything Tommy did” Lizzie said to Bradley.
Lizzie and her family sat around their dining room table, Tommy sat next to her.
“Tommy would you like some peas?” Mary asked.
“Oh thank you Mrs. Moore” he said taking the dish from her.
“So Tommy, you line up a job yet?” Dan asked.
“Uh…not yet sir” Tommy said to him.
“Maybe you could help Jimmy out at Mr. Johnson’s record store” Mary said to him.
“Well uh actually Mrs. Moore…” Tommy said.
“Speaking of Jimmy…” Dan interjected “Ed donated almost ten grand to Nixon’s election campaign.”
“My goodness” Mary said “Certainly a lot of money” she said.
“It scored him an invite to Republican National Convention” Dan said.
“Oh how exciting” Mary said.
“You’re eighteen right Tommy?” Dan asked him.
“Uh yes sir as of last week” Tommy said to him.
“You thinking of voting for Nixon next year?” he asked.
“If he even gets elected” Lizzie said.
“Oh he will, don’t you worry” Dan said to her.
“Yeah uh…hey, Liz, you think we can talk after dinner? It’s kind of important” Tommy said to her.
“Well by all means, please, share with us” Dan said.
“Daddy” Lizzie said.
“No, if it’s good enough for you it’s good enough for everyone, what’s going on Tommy?” Dan asked.
Tommy sighed “It’s about the war” he said to her “I’m going” he said.
She looked at him dumbfounded “What are you talking about? You’re going to Vietnam?” she asked.
“Probably” he said.
“Wh…ho…oh my god were you drafted?” she asked.
“No I uh…I went do to the recruiter’s office and…I enlisted” he said, the table became silent.
Lizzie’s eyes filled with tears as she looked around in bewilderment.
“Good for you son, you’re doing your patriotic duty” Dan said sticking his hand out.
“Thank you sir” Tommy said shaking his hand.
“Excuse me” Lizzie whimpered as she left the table, the screen door slammed shut.
“Excuse me” Tommy said putting his napkin on the table and going after Lizzie.
“What’s for dessert?” Gracie asked.
“Liz” Tommy said running out to the front porch, he found her sitting on a glider “Lizzie…”
“If you are doing this to impress my father…” she said angrily.
“I’m not doing this to impress anyone” he said.
“Then why? Why would you want to put yourself in danger like this?!” she asked “What about school? What about our senior year together?”
“Lizzie come on, my grades weren’t good enough to get me into a trade school let alone college, I would’ve ended up flunking out anyways” he said to her.
“Why can’t you realize how much potential you have? Or how smart you are? If you only just applied yourself…” she said.
“Well it’s too late now” he said to her “I’m doing this for me okay? For us”
“For us?!” she asked.
“Yes! When I get back, when this whole thing is over, we can have the life you deserve” he said to her.
“Jimmy was right” she said “This war is pointless and unnecessary” she said shaking in anger “You need to go” she said turning her back on him.
“What?” he asked.
“I can’t look at you right now okay? Please” she said to him.
“Oh I was so mad, I was beside myself with anger and worry, you can only imagine how much angrier I was when I found out that your father knew before I did” she said to Vicki.
Lizzie lied on the glider in her pajamas, snuggled up in her coat and covered in a plaid blanket, a radio playing quietly next to her, her mascara dried in streaks on her face.
Jimmy cautiously approached the porch “Hey neighbor” he said slowly climbing the steps to the porch.
“What are you doing out so late?” she asked him.
“Had to lock up the store” he said dangling the keys from his finger, he took a seat on the porch’s banister.
“So tell me something, neighbor” Lizzie said “Did you know that my boyfriend enlisted?” she asked.
“I had an inkling” he said.
“Jimmy, I am in no mood…did he tell you before he told me?” she asked.
“Yeah” he said.
“Ugh!” she groaned in aggravation “Why didn’t you tell me?!” she asked.
“He wouldn’t let me” Jimmy said “Would you have believed me if I told you?” he asked.
“Of course not!” she said “Did you at least try and talk him out of it?” she asked.
“He had already signed up when he told me”.
“This is so wrong!” she said.
“I’m sure he’s just doing what he thinks is right” Jimmy said.
She looked at him in disbelief “Are you actually standing there and saying those words to me? What with all your ‘Vietnam is wrong’ rants?” she asked.
“It is wrong! To me that is, maybe Tommy feels differently” he said.
“God he’s selling himself short! He’s so smart, he could do anything” she said.
“You know that, I know that…maybe he doesn’t” Jimmy said to her “Listen to me, he’s going to be leaving for basic training any day now” he said to her “Do you really want to leave things like this?”
She rolled her eyes and sighed “No” she said reluctantly.
“So don’t you think you owe it to yourself to work things out before he leaves?” he asked.
“…I guess” she said.
“Hey just because he signed up doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily get sent anywhere, he could probably just end up at a base camp or something” Jimmy said to her.
“You think so?” she asked.
“Can always hope can’t we?” he asked, she wrapped her arms around him and lied her head on his shoulder.
“Did you talk to him eventually?” Bradley asked.
“Not until the day he went to basic” she said “The day before, your grandfather was helping him pack…”
Tommy stuffed some of his clothes into a duffel bag as Jimmy perused his record collection.
“Gonna be weird with you gone” Jimmy said.
“Oh don’t worry I’m sure you’ll get used to it” Tommy said cracking a smile “You gonna miss me?” he asked amused.
“Oh, so much” Jimmy said to him jokingly.
“Hey, look I know you think this whole war is wrong…”
“What I think doesn’t matter, you do what you need to do” Jimmy said to him.
“Do me a favor…watch over Liz while I’m gone?” Tommy asked.
“Don’t even need to ask” Jimmy said to him “You ready to lose all that hair of yours?” Jimmy asked.
Tommy sighed “Not even close” he said “Do they really have to buzz me?” Tommy asked.
“Don’t worry pretty boy you’ll pull it off” Jimmy said to him “Tell you one thing I’ll miss, your record collection, you got some good stuff here” Jimmy said.
Tommy shrugged “Take it” he said.
“What? No way” Jimmy said.
“What am I gonna use it for?” Tommy asked.
“You sure?” Jimmy asked.
“Course, take what you want” Tommy said to him.
“Far out” Jimmy said cracking a smile.
“Please don’t talk like that” Tommy said chuckling.
“What time you leave?” Jimmy asked.
“Tomorrow morning eight am” Tommy said to him.
“I’ll be there” Jimmy said to him.
“Think Liz will be?” Tommy asked.
“If she’s as crazy about you as I think she is she will” Jimmy said to him.
“The next morning I got up early and went down to the bus station to see him off, it’d be the last time I’d see him before he was sent to Vietnam” she said to Bradley.
“Here I made you a snack for the trip” Tommy’s mother said handing him a paper bag.
“You didn’t need to do that mom” he said to her.
“Nonsense” she said fixing his shirt collar “Be careful okay?” she asked tearfully, a handkerchief tucked in her hand.
“It’s just basic mom, I’ll be back before you know it” he said to her.
“I know, I know but…just make sure to write okay?” she asked.
“I will” he said to her.
“Hey, Tommy boy” Jimmy said approaching him.
“Jimbo, you made it” he said as they greeted each other.
“Well…someone else wanted to say goodbye” he said as Lizzie approached Tommy.
“Hi” she said.
“Hi” he said “You made it” he said.
“I couldn’t let you leave without saying goodbye” she said as she wrapped her arms around his neck, he pulled her in for a long, deep kiss.
“I’ll be back in a few weeks okay?” he said, she nodded.
“Promise you’ll write me every day?” she asked.
“Cross my heart” Tommy said to her “Alright, guess I better…get going” he said “Jimbo, remember our deal” Tommy said to him.
“You got it” Jimmy said to him.
“I’ll see you guys soon” he said climbing onto the bus.
Lizzie pressed her hand to the window of the bus, Tommy pressed his hand to the other side, the bus then slowly pulled out of the depot, Lizzie looked at it grow farther in the distance.
“Oh my god” Natalie said “that’s so sad” she said.
“So did he write you everyday?” Vicki asked.
“Oh he did, and I wrote him every day” Lizzie said to her “your father wrote him quite a lot too.”
“Sounds like they were close” Natalie said.
“Picture Bradley and Neilson back in the 60’s” Brian said to Natalie.
“Oh god you poor thing” she said to Lizzie, they turned to look at her in offense.
“So how long was he in basic?” Brian asked.
“A month or two” Lizzie said to him “I’ll never forget the day he came home, school was almost over for the year, I was hanging out with your grandfather at the store, he was in yet another one of his anti-war rants..”
Lizzie paged through a teen magazine, rolling her eyes as Jimmy prattled on about the war.
“I’m telling you this war shouldn’t even be happening right now” he said putting the records into the display.
“Yes you have made your point many, many…many times” she said irritated “Can we talk about something else please? Have you heard anything from Tommy?” she asked.
“What he didn’t write you this week?” Jimmy asked.
“Did he write you?” she asked.
“Been a little busy here, not a lot of time to check the mail” Jimmy said to her.
The bells above the door jingled as it opened, Tommy stood there in his dress uniform “Isn’t anyone going to welcome me home?” he asked cracking a smiled.
“Oh my god” Lizzie said throwing her arms around him “You’re home! You’re really here” she said happily.
“Told you I’d come back” he said smiling at her.
“Welcome home soldier” Jimmy said Tommy.
“Hey there Jimbo” he said.
“Please tell me you’re back for good” Lizzie said looking up at him with pleading eyes.
“Well uh…” Tommy said nervously.
Jimmy looked at him warily “They’re sending you over there aren’t they?” he asked.
“Yeah…I’m going to Vietnam” Tommy said.
“When?” she asked.
“I ship out in two weeks” he said, they looked at each other solemnly “Hey guys, come on, everything will be fine, I promise” Tommy said to them.
“Two weeks?” Lizzie asked.
“Yeah, I know that’s right before your birthday and everything but…”
“No, I know” Lizzie said.
“Guess we better make the most of it while we can huh?” Jimmy asked.
“Right, I mean the Memorial Day parade is in a few days and the carnival…” Lizzie said.
“Oh yeah” Tommy said to her “I’m coming home guys, I promise” he said to them.
“What was the carnival?” Bradley asked.
“Every year they have this big parade for all the military serviceman and a summer kick-off carnival” Vicki said to him.
“They’d been having them for years, I grew up going to the carnival too” Lizzie said to him.
“And then at the end of the night they’d have this amazing firework show” Vicki said to him “It was pretty cool to see” she said.
Harry limped into the living room “I hope you’re happy” he said to Bradley irritated.
“Not really, you’re still alive, I thought I told Adam to kill you?” Bradley said to him.
“He tried to!” Harry said angrily.
“Must be losing his touch” Neilson said.
“What’s going on in here?” Harry asked.
“Hello Harry” Lizzie said to him.
“Oh hi…Bradley’s grandma” Harry said to her.
“I’m just helping Bradley out with his project” she said.
“Oh yeah? Did he tell you he had three weeks to do it and is just starting on it now?” Harry asked.
“Adam!” Bradley barked towards the kitchen.
Adam hurried into the living room “Thought you could get away did you?” he asked Harry “Oh…hello…Bradley’s grandma” he said upon seeing Lizzie.
“Hello Adam” she said “Would you two care to join us?” she asked.
“I will” Harry said quickly taking a seat on the floor.
“Well as fun as it sounds…I’m not really into the whole…story time thing so…” Adam said as he turned to leave.
“Sit down, shut up, and listen” Brian said pulling Adam down.
“Now where was I?” Lizzie asked.
“The carnival mom” Vicki said to her.
“Oh right, well anyways, my heart stopped when I found out that Tommy was being sent to Vietnam, he told me everything would be okay but…some part of me was just scared beyond belief that he wouldn’t make it home…turns out I was right” Lizzie said to them all. “He was due to ship out the day after the carnival, so that night we made the most of what we could, we went to the carnival, played games, went on rides, it was perfect” she said to them.
Fireworks boomed overhead, children ran around with sparklers in their hands, tears filled Lizzie’s eyes as she watched the colors explode over her.
“Here you are, I’ve been looking all over for you” Tommy said approaching her “Here, I got your funnel cake” he said holding up a paper plate.
“Thanks” she said sniffling.
“Hey, come on, don’t cry” he said to her.
“I’m sorry I can’t help it” she said.
“I just keep thinking of what can happen over there” she said.
“Listen to me, nothing or no one is going to stop me from coming home to you” he said lifting her chin up.
“You promise?” she asked.
“Cross my heart” he said to her.
“You’ll write me?” she asked.
“Every day” he said.
“I love you” she said.
“I love you more” he replied, they kissed as more fireworks flew high into the sky, exploding loudly.
“That was the last time I saw him” Lizzie said.
“Really? He didn’t come home even on furloughs or anything?” Harry asked.
“No” Lizzie said to him “The war was so intense at that point they weren’t letting anyone come home for any reason whatsoever” she said.
“He wrote you though right?” Natalie asked.
“Every day” Lizzie said to them “In fact…here are the letters we sent back and forth to each other” she said digging into her purse and taking out a stack of envelopes.
“Wow” Bradley said.
“Amazing, how’d you get these?” Natalie asked.
“They sent Tommy’s belongings home after he was killed, his mother was nice enough to give them to me” she said. “I will never forget that summer...ironically they called it the summer of love” Lizzie said.
“Right, that’s when The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper” he said writing something down.
“Very good” Lizzie said to him.
“That you remember?!” Brian asked.
“How do you forget about something like that?” Neilson asked “That album is legendary” he said.
“Yes but unfortunately for me, it was no love fest” she said sadly “It started out okay, my parents threw me a big party for my seventeenth birthday, not that I could enjoy it” Lizzie said to them.
Lizzie sat on her front porch steps, an envelope in her hand, music played from inside as her friends mingled amongst themselves.
“Hey, birthday girl” Jimmy said approaching the stairs “I miss the party?” he asked.
“No, you’re just on time” she said to him.
“What’s that?” he asked sitting next to her on the steps.
“Birthday card from Tommy” she said to him.
“He found one in English?” he asked.
Lizzie laughed lightly “His mom dropped it off for me I guess he got it before he left” she said to him.
“Ah” he said “You hear anything from him lately?” he asked.
“I got a letter yesterday” she said “You?” she asked.
“Same” Jimmy said “So…should I put this inside or…?” he asked handing her a present,
She tore the paper off and gasped as she saw a copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band “You told me you there was no more coming in!” she said hitting him.
“Happy Birthday Lizzie” he said, she hugged him tightly.
“Thank you” she said.
"Be careful with that thing, it's the last copy in the state" Jimmy said.
"I am not letting it out of my sight" Lizzie said to him "thank you so much" she said “We need to play this right away” she said as they went inside.
A record needle scratched as she pulled it aside, taking a record from the turn table. She pulled the large black vinyl circle from it's protective covering and set it on the turn table. She then pulled the needle over and set it down. It began to spin around the opening noise for the title track began to play and soon the song filled the room.
"It was twenty years ago today Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play They've been going in and out of style But they're guaranteed to raise a smile So may I introduce to you The act you've known for all these years Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band..."
“Damn, gramps was smooth back in the day” Bradley said smirking.
“That should’ve been a big hint of just how much he liked me, he held that record for me for weeks and got docked a whole week’s pay for doing so” Lizzie said.
“But, like most good things…they eventually come to an end” Lizzie said.
“Mom, if you want to take a break before you get into this part…” Vicki said to her.
“No, it’s okay” Lizzie said to her “The summer was ending and, I was about to start my senior year of high school, I hadn’t heard from Tommy in weeks, I just figured he hadn’t gotten time to write, he was fighting a war after all” she said “Little did I know…it was much worst” she said.
Jimmy bounded up the steps of Tommy's house, Tommy’s records tucked under his arm, Tommy's mother wiped her hands on her apron as she opened the door.
"Well Jimmy" she said smiling warmly at him.
"Hi Mrs. Porter" Jimmy said to her "I’m just bringing Tom’s records back" he said.
"Oh well come on in, actually as long as you're here, could you help me with something?" she asked.
"Sure" he said.
“I’m making a cake and the dish is way up on top of the cabinet there, would you mind?” she asked.
"Not at all" he said.
"Right up there" she said as they walked into the kitchen, she unfolded a small ladder, he climbed up and pulled the cake dish from the cabinet top.
“There we are” he said handing it to her.
“Oh thank you, I don’t know how I’ve been getting anything done without Tommy around” she said when the doorbell rang "Oh” she said scurrying to the front door "Can I...help you?" she asked seeing two soldiers standing on her doorstep.
"Eleanor Porter?" he asked taking his hat off.
"Yes" she said.
Jimmy watched from the kitchen doorway.
“Is your son Thomas Porter?” the other asked.
“Yes, he is, is something wrong?” she asked.
Jimmy stepped closer to the front door, the soldiers’ words seemed to become more faint as he got closer.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this…” they said to her, He could see one of the soldiers hand Tommy's mom something shiny and metal, they tipped their hats to her and left the porch. Her knees buckled and she fell to the floor, Jimmy rushed to her side as she sobbed, he looked to see Tommy's dog tags dangling from a chain in her hand, he looked around bewildered as Tommy's mom fell apart before him, His face crumpled in sorrow and he began to sob along with Tommy’s mother.
He walked absently up the street, the faint sound of music began to fill the air as he got closer to Lizzie’s house. Lizzie laughed, her freshly painted toes propped up on the porch railing, Josephine sat on top of the banister as a record player played loudly next to them, magazines spread around. He wiped the tears from his face and took a deep breath and climbed the porch steps.
"Hey Jimmy" Lizzie said to him.
"Hey Jimbo" Josephine said to her "Whoa, what’s with you?" she asked.
"Uh...Josie, I need a minute with Lizzie...you mind?" he asked somberly.
"Sure, I'll go grab a soda."
"eGt me one" Lizzie said as she went inside "Hey, are you alright?" Lizzie asked standing up.
"Lizzie I...I uh sort of have some bad news” he said as tears began to well up in his eyes.
“What? What happened? Is it your parents, are they okay?" she asked.
"It's Tommy" he said, tears welling up in his eyes as her face fell.
"What about Tommy?" she asked nervously.
"I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry Lizzie” he whimpered.
"No…what happened? What happened to Tommy?!" she asked.
"His unit or platoon or whatever…there was an ambush and…he was killed in action” he said quietly.
"No...no, it's not true, it's not true, he's not dead, he's not dead, he's coming home and when he does, we're going to be together for the rest of our lives...." she said rambling as Jimmy pulled her close and held her tightly.
She fought against him, trying to push him away when her knees gave out and she fell to a crouching position, sobbing openly as Jimmy tried to soothe her.
"No!" she screamed in agony "No" she choked shaking her head. Josephine watched from the screen door, covering her mouth in shock, Jimmy looked up at her, Lizzie still weeping on his shoulder.
Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.