Epilogue: Reason To Believe
It was weird, coming back after so long. He paid the taxi and then made his way carefully up the steps. He'd not been back to the house since that fateful night fifteen years ago, and it had remained derelict since his mother had died. Now the yard was overgrown, the paint was peeling off and there was rot in the veranda. He'd meant to come back and sort it out but he'd never found the time.
He didn't even have a key anymore, but he knew that the lock had been broken on his bedroom window and doubted his mother had ever gotten round to fixing it. So, in full military uniform, he took a running jump at the flagpole and hauled himself to jimmy the window and climb inside, just like he had as a teenager.
He stood inside his room and looked around. It was exactly as he remembered it, although everything was covered in a thick layer of dust. He picked up the photo of his mom and Dad and him from the bedside table and sat down on his bed to stare at it. The sun had bleached the colour of it and damp had found it's way into the frame like it had the rest of the house. Carefully, he undid the back and slid the photo out, placing it safely in the breast pocket of his tunic.
He continued to look round his room and then remembered something else he wanted to keep. He reached under his bed and found an old cardboard box and slid it out, hefting it up to the bed with him. Inside was his cassette tape collection. He glanced through the titles, smiling at his teenaged musical tastes, some good, some not so much, until he found what he was looking for. He pulled it out and studied it, the track titles written in a neat hand, the cassette recording that Jessica had made for him all that time ago.
The cassette case was empty though, but a quick search found his old Walkman in his bedside drawer and the tape was already inside. Of course it was, he grinned, how often had he played it, over and over until he was sure it would wear out? He put the headphones over his ears and pressed play and miraculously the batteries still worked. It had been abandoned in the middle of a song, and the quality was crackling and aged now, but the words came through as clear as the first day he'd heard them.
"Well, we made a promise we swore we'd always remember, No retreat, baby, no surrender,"
Fate again? He wondered, that it would be just that part of that song, frozen in time for fifteen years. It reminded him of something else that had been frozen in time, for just that long.
He pulled his new cell phone from his pocket and scrolled through his contacts list to a number he hadn't used in a long time. He had no idea if it would still work, but he knew he would forever kick himself if he didn't try. He pressed the button and listened to it ring with bated breath.
When the phone was answered, he felt his nerves increase tenfold as he recognised the voice on the other end of the line. "Hello?"
"Hey, Jessie. It's John. I know it's been a long time, but I'm in town and I was wondering if I could take you to dinner."
His heart leapt with relief when she said yes.
Authors Note: I want to thank everybody who has taken the time to read my little journey back into John's past. I really enjoyed writing it and appreciate all the feedback.
I've tried hard to make the timeline work but apologise that John's little driving story from Season 4 wouldn't quite fit, not without making John four years older than Mr Caviezel. Ultimately, I felt it more important to get the part about his dad dying right after Vietnam right and having him this age set the rest of the story better.
I know most of you won't be Bruce Springsteen fans and I hope it didn't matter that you weren't, but one of the writers of the show clearly is, and if you check out the lyrics for Born In The USA you'll see what I mean.
Also, points awarded to those who spotted the movie reference in chapter 8.
Until Next Time