This Waltons script was written by one of the Waltons Digest Members, Laura. I sincerely thank her for her permission to use it on my Waltons site.
I was in junior high school when "The Waltons" began its original run, and I was absolutely enamored by it. My brother and sister said "Good night, John Boy" to me each evening because I kept a journal like John Boy and because I always wanted to be a Walton.
I started writing scripts for the show when I was in high school because the characters are so well defined that they are a pleasure to write for. Those beginning attempts didn't amount to much and I pretty much forgot about my efforts until FAM began airing the show in repeats. Then I started writing the scripts again.
This one was written either in 1990 or 1991. Jason is my favorite
character, so all of my stories tend to revolve around him. I
wrote this after I had seen "The Choice" on FAM. I was
intrigued with how difficult it was for Jason to get his father
to accept his decision to go to music school and wondered what
it would be like for Jason if that dream was taken away from him,
after fighting so hard for it. I still write these on occasion
when I'm not bogged down with grading papers from my eighth-grade
English classes. It's great fun and is a way to keep the characters
alive for me.
NARRATOR: We all have a dream of the future when we are young, one that we strive to reach and, eventually, even obtain. My dream was to become a writer, and my brother Jason's was to be a musician. I remember one spring when, as young men, we both were passionately pursuing those dreams. It never occurred to us that something so desired and worked for could suddenly become out of reach.
Olivia and Grandma are in the kitchen. Sounds of the children can be heard from outside.
OLIVIA: Here comes the afterschool crowd.
GRANDMA: I'll get some cookies on a platter.
OLIVIA: Not too many, Grandma. We're having chicken and dumplings for supper.
The children come into the house amid much chattering.
OLIVIA: Jim-Bob, don't throw those books on the sofa. Ben, how'd you do on that spelling test?
The kids go into the kitchen and sit at the table. Grandma pours them milk.
BEN: I didn't do too well, Mama.
JIM-BOB: Yeah. That's because he stayed up last night and wrote a love letter to Becky Lewis instead of studying his words.
BEN: Mama, will you tell him to quit teasing me about that?
OLIVIA: That's enough, Jim-Bob. Didn't you have a spelling test today, too?
ELIZABETH: Miss Hunter made him take it over because he wrote it so sloppy.
JIM-BOB: Tattle tale. You're always...
OLIVIA: All right. That's enough. Grandma, remember when we looked forward to hearing about their days?
Grandma ruffles Jim-Bob's hair.
GRANDMA: Well, I still do.
She looks out the window as John Boy and Jason drive up.
GRANDMA: And here's two more I want to hear from.
The two boys come in and head for the stairs.
OLIVIA: Just a minute, you two. Don't you even say hello anymore? Now slow down a minute and come sit with us. Your grandma baked some peanut butter cookies.
JOHN BOY: I can't, Mama. With midterm exams coming up, I don't even have time for that. I'd like to study until supper's ready.
Olivia turns to Jason.
OLIVIA: What about you?
JASON: I need to study for exams, too, Mama. Will you call me when supper's ready?
OLIVIA: All right. Go on, you scholars. We'll let you know when supper's ready.
OLIVIA: I hardly see those boys anymore.
GRANDMA: Well, soon they'll both be on spring vacation, and we'll see more of them.
Upstairs. John Boy is at his desk writing. Sounds of a guitar are in the background. John Boy shakes his head and gets up. He goes to Jason's room and pounds on the door.
JOHN BOY: Jason? Can you stop that, please? I'm trying to study.
The guitar playing continues.
John Boy enters the room.
JOHN BOY: Jason, do you have to do that right now? I have a composition due tomorrow.
Jason stops playing.
JASON: Well, so do I, John Boy.
JOHN BOY: Can't you compose it someplace else? You're making so much noise I can't even hear myself think.
JASON: Why don't you go someplace else? In fact, why didn't you stay on campus and study at the library if you need so much quiet?
JOHN BOY: I would have, if I wouldn't have had to pick you up and take you home. If I'm going to run a taxi service for you, then the least you can do is...
Downstairs. John comes into the kitchen. Olivia and Grandma are getting supper. The children are doing their homework at the table.
JOHN: Smells good.
Sounds of the boys arguing comes from overhead. John looks up.
JOHN: What's going on up there?
MARY ELLEN: They've been arguing since they came home.
OLIVIA: They've both got exams tomorrow. That's the last day before spring vacation. I think they're tired and edgy.
JOHN: Think I should talk to them?
OLIVIA: Well, they're not accomplishing anything this way.
John goes upstairs. Jason and John Boy are still arguing in Jason's room.
JOHN: You two calm down now. What's this all about?
JOHN BOY: Daddy, I just have to finish a composition, and I can't do it with him making all that racket with his guitar.
JASON: It's not racket, John Boy. You know, you're not the only one who needs to write. I'll fail my composition class if I don't do a good job on this.
JOHN BOY: And I'll fail mine if I can't get mine done.
JOHN: Sometimes I think one composer at a time would be enough for this family. Jason, can't you go outside and do that?
JASON: Daddy, there's too many distractions out there. I was doing fine up here until John Boy came in.
JOHN BOY: Well, I'm not doing fine.
JOHN: Find another place, Jason. What about the barn?
JASON: The barn. You've been sending me to play my guitar
in the barn since I was a kid. I was hoping that now that I'm
in school, you'd take my music more seriously.
JOHN: Jason. I think you need to see John Boy's side of this. He can't do his schoolwork if you're in the next room making noise.
Jason takes his guitar and shoves past them into the hallway.
JASON: That's all it is to you, Daddy. Noise. Fine. I'll
go play for Chance. I've been playing out there for years; I don't
know why I should stop now. I'll leave the great writer to his
peace and quiet.
JOHN BOY: Jason...
Jason goes downstairs and slams the door as he goes outside.
Olivia looks after him and then at John as he comes downstairs.
JOHN: Jason's a little bent, but at least it'll be quiet
Later. Mary Ellen goes out in the barn where Jason is playing.
MARY ELLEN: Mama says it's time for supper.
JASON: Tell her I'm not hungry. I've just got to finish
Mary Ellen returns to the kitchen.
OLIVIA: Where's Jason?
MARY ELLEN: He says he's not going to eat.
GRANDMA: That's not going to do him any good.
OLIVIA: I'll go get him. You girls finish dishing up.
Olivia goes into the barn.
OLIVIA: Time for supper, Jason.
Jason shakes his head.
JASON: I'm not hungry, Mama.
OLIVIA: You have to take time out to eat. You'll make yourself
JASON: Mama. I can't get this finished if I'm always interrupted.
OLIVIA: I declare. You're beginning to sound just like
JASON: And I'm tired of being compared to John Boy.
OLIVIA: Jason! What's the matter with you.
Jason puts down the guitar.
JASON: I'm sorry, Mama. I didn't mean to snap at you. I
just feel like I'm not getting the support I need right now.
OLIVIA: We've always supported you, Jason.
JASON: No, you haven't. Not really. None of you take my
education as seriously as you take John Boy's.
OLIVIA: That's not fair.
JASON: It's true. When he was accepted at Boatwright, it
was as if that was the finest thing that was ever going to happen
to this family. I've never seen you or Daddy so proud.
OLIVIA: Jason, we're proud of you, too.
JASON: Mama. I want you to feel about what I'm doing with
my life the way you feel about John Boy. When I got into the conservatory,
all I wanted was for the family to be glad for me the way you
were for John Boy. But I couldn't even tell you I was accepted
because Daddy didn't want me to go there. He still doesn't.
OLIVIA: He just wants what's best for you. Jason, it's
hard for him to understand how you can study music for four years.
And it's hard for me, too. With John Boy, it's easier. He's getting
the kind of education your daddy and I have always dreamed about.
He's learning about history, and philosophy, and...
JASON: What about my dreams? What about the education I've
always dreamed about? I want to be a musician, Mama. And it's
not as easy as you and Daddy seem to think it is. It's not just
playing my harmonica for the family and singing and playing my
guitar with Bobby Bigelow. I know Daddy thinks that should be
enough. But it's not.
OLIVIA: Jason, I think you're feeling a little sorry for
yourself just now, and I think you're wearing yourself down, trying
so hard. John Boy did that his first year, too.
OLIVIA: Sorry. Come eat supper. That's an order.
They both go into the house.
Several days later. The family is having a picnic next to Drucilla's Pond. John Boy is writing and Jason is playing his guitar. The children are playing. Adults are lounging on grass.
Grandpa looks at John Boy and Jason.
GRANDPA: It's nice to see those boys relaxing.
GRANDMA: If that's what you call it. They're doing the
same things they do for school.
GRANDPA: I guess that's what they call increasing their
talents. That's a catchy tune Jason's playing. He write that himself?
OLIVIA: Yes, he did.
GRANDPA: That Jason. I do believe he gets his musical ability
GRANDMA: You old fool. You can't play anything.
GRANDPA: No, but I have music in my heart, old woman. It's
singing now just being here with you.
OLIVIA: I thought Saturday would never get here. John,
I hope all exam weeks aren't going to be this bad.
JOHN: Let's see, they have four exam weeks a year, and
we have two more years to go with John Boy and three more with
Jason, and then there's Mary Ellen. She'll be in at the same time
as John Boy and Jason, and then there's...
OLIVIA: Stop! I think we better just enjoy the week they
have off while it lasts.
JOHN: Well, I hope they don't intend to loaf all week.
I've got a big order to fill that just came in. I need at least
one of them in the mill next week.
OLIVIA: John, will you ask John Boy instead of Jason? Jason's
feeling kind of put upon lately.
JOHN: Why should he feel that way?
OLIVIA: He has some kind of notion that you think what John Boy is doing at school is more important than what he's doing.
JOHN: I guess I do feel that way a little, Liv. I've tried
to go along with this music business of his, but I just don't
see how going to that stuffy school and writing down those henscratches
is going to prepare him for the world. He already knows more about
music and plays better than anyone in these parts. That should
be enough for him.
OLIVIA: I guess it isn't. He wants more. I don't know what,
but he does. Can't you try and understand that?
GRANDPA: Son, I don't like to put my two cents in when
it comes to you raising your children, but I'm going to now. Jason's
chasing a dream. And he thinks that music school can help him
catch it. You remember chasing dreams, don't you, son?
JOHN: I guess I do, Pa. But I also remember a time or two when you stepped in to make sure I kept my feet on the ground.
Next day, at the mill. John and Grandpa are working.
JOHN: We're never going to get this order done if we don't
get at least one of those boys in here.
GRANDPA: I'll go fetch Ben. He's always after the chance
to work in here with you.
JOHN: Well, I guess I can use him, but I really need one
of the older boys, too. You round up Ben. I'll see what I can
do about John Boy or Jason.
Grandpa finds Ben in the barn with a girl.
GRANDPA: Well, who's this pretty thing?
BEN: This is Becky Lewis, Grandpa. I'm showing her the
GRANDPA: I'm afraid the tour's over, Ben. Your daddy needs
you in the mill.
John is in the house. Jason is playing the piano. John pauses
next to him, then goes upstairs. He knocks on John Boy's room
and then enters. John Boy is writing at his desk.
JOHN: I need you in the mill today, son.
JOHN BOY: Can't you get Jason, Daddy? I'm working on my
novel and I'm really going great. I hate to stop now.
JOHN BOY: Just for today, Daddy. Then I'll help you tomorrow.
JOHN: Okay, son. You get back to your writing.
JOHN BOY: Thanks, Daddy.
John goes downstairs and stands next to Jason. He puts his hand
on his shoulder.
JOHN: I need you in the mill, Jason.
JOHN: Now, John Boy said he'd help tomorrow, so you can
be out there today. Besides, he's busy writing on his novel and
you're not doing anything right now.
JASON: I'm writing too, Daddy.
JOHN: I don't like you boys arguing with me about this.
You know that mill supports this family. Now I need you to go
out there and do your share.
Jason sighs, then goes with John to the mill. Ben and Grandpa
JOHN: Jason, I need you and Ben to stack those ties alongside
that far wall.
Ben and Jason each take an end of a tie and move it where John
had indicated. Ben is watching outside.
JASON: Pay attention, Ben. What are you looking at?
BEN: Becky's still out there. She said she wanted to watch
JASON: Lover boy, just do your work.
Ben grabs a tie and hoists it onto his shoulder. He staggers under
JASON: Ben, stop trying to be a show-off. You can't carry
that all by yourself. Let me grab an end.
BEN: I can do it, Jason. Stop treating me like a baby.
Becky is outside and calls to Ben. He turns to wave at her and
swings the tie around. It hits a shelf from the underside and
knocks it off the wall. It is going to fall on Ben. Jason sees
it and dives for Ben, shoving him out of the way and ending up
on the floor. Ben drops the tie back onto the pile, but it causes
the entire pile to collapse. The ties fall on Jason, pinning his
hand beneath the pile.
All rush over to Jason.
JOHN: Hold on, son. We'll get this off of you.
They pull the ties off and John lifts up Jason's hand. Several
fingers are bent at awkward angles, and the hand is dangling limply
from the wrist.
JOHN: Pa, grab a rag. We've got to get this in a sling
quick. Ben, go tell your mama what happened. We've got to take
Jason over to Dr. Vance.
Jason is wincing from the pain, and flinches when John puts the
hand into the sling.
JOHN: Easy, son.
JASON: It's bad, Daddy. You can see the bone sticking out
of the finger.
JOHN: Don't look at it. It will be okay.
Jason shakes his head.
JASON: It's not just the finger, Daddy. There's more broken
bones. I can tell.
John and Grandpa look at each other.
JOHN: We'd better take him into Charlottesville, Pa. Run
in the house and tell someone to go over to Ike's and call Dr.
Vance to meet us over there.
John is helping Jason into the truck when the family rushes out.
Olivia gets in beside Jason. Grandma and Grandpa go to the truck.
GRANDMA: We'll take care of the children, and Ben's going
over to Ike's to use the phone. You get going now.
The truck leaves. The family watches it go.
MARY ELLEN: Grandpa, is he hurt bad?
GRANDPA: Well, Mary Ellen. He's got a broken finger for
sure, and it looks like there might be some broken bones in his
JOHN BOY: Oh, no.
GRANDMA: Now, it's no use guessing how bad he's hurt. We'll
just have to wait and see. No sense borrowing trouble. You all
get along now.
At the hospital. John and Olivia are in the waiting room.
OLIVIA: They've been in there a long time, John.
JOHN: No. It just seems that way when you're waiting.
Dr. Vance comes out, followed by another doctor.
DR. VANCE: John, Olivia. This is Dr. Howard. He's an orthopedic
OLIVIA: A surgeon? How's Jason?
DR. VANCE: I wish I had better news, but the damage is
DR. HOWARD: Mr. and Mrs. Walton, would you come with me,
He leads them into an office where several x-rays are hanging
from a lighted board.
DR. HOWARD: This is your son's left hand. As you can see,
the hand is one of the most complex parts of our skeletal structure.
It has many delicate bones.
He gets a pointer and points to various parts of the x-ray.
DR. HOWARD: Your son has several bone fractures in the
hand. Here, here, and here. The first and second fingers are also
fractured, the first in two places, here and here. The first of
these fractures is what we call a compound fracture. The bone
has snapped and actually punctured the skin. The knuckles of those
fingers are also damaged, as you can see. The bones are not broken
as you would think of it, but rather chipped in several places,
here, here, and here.
OLIVIA: Oh, John. He must be in terrible pain.
DR. VANCE: We gave him morphine. It will help.
John holds tightly to Olivia's hand.
JOHN: What's all this mean, Doctor? All the fractures,
DR. HOWARD: Well, as I know you've guessed by now, it means
surgery. Perhaps several surgeries.
DR. HOWARD: Yes. We need to remove the bone chips and set
the compound fracture. He'll be in a cast for several months.
Then, depending on how much mobility he has when the cast is removed,
there may be some things surgically that we can do which may help.
OLIVIA: What do you mean, "depending on how much mobility?"
DR. HOWARD: Mrs. Walton. I want to be frank with you, and
I suspect you want that. There is a lot of damage here, as you
can see. But there may be other damage too. Damaged muscle tissue.
Perhaps nerve damage surrounding the fractures. I just can't tell
you the extent right now. I could not in good conscious tell you
that the hand will ever be a hundred percent of what it was.
JOHN: Does Jason know any of this?
DR. VANCE: No. He was in so much pain, we didn't discuss
OLIVIA: When will you do the surgery?
DR. HOWARD: Right away. The longer the wait, the more nerve
damage there may be. We're getting him ready now. I need you to
sign a consent form. The nurse at the station outside has it.
JOHN: We'll do that right now. Can we see Jason?
DR. VANCE: I'm not sure that's a good idea. He's in a lot
OLIVIA: If he can stand it, so can we.
DR. VANCE: All right. Just for a minute. They're about
to take him upstairs.
Jason is on a gurney with his hand bandaged and in splints. John
and Olivia stand on either side of him. Jason is tossing in pain.
John holds onto his shoulders.
JOHN: It's all right, son. They're going to operate on
your hand. Everything's going to be all right.
JASON: Daddy, it has to be bad to hurt this much. How bad
is it broken?
JOHN: Well, there's a few broken bones, but nothing they
can't fix. It won't be so painful after the operation.
The nurse comes in.
NURSE: We're ready to take Jason into surgery now. There's
a waiting room on the third floor if you'd like to wait there.
Olivia holds Jason's uninjured hand.
OLIVIA: We'll be here when it's over.
Jason tries to smile, but instead flinches. John and Olivia exchange
looks and leave the room.
Later, in the waiting room. Dr. Howard enters and John and Olivia get up.
DR. HOWARD: We did what we could. Now we just wait and
JOHN: When can he come home?
DR. HOWARD: We'd like to keep him here for a few days.
You should be able to take him home after that. I'll leave you
a prescription for the pain, and you should take him into Dr.
Vance every week to have the cast checked. If all goes well, the
cast should come off in about eight weeks. It's important that
he not try to move the fingers, or even move that arm, at all.
It needs to be entirely immobile. I'll put him in a sling to help
him remember not to use it.
JOHN: Thank you, doctor.
Several days later. John and Olivia and Jason come into the house.
ERIN: They're here. Jason's home!
The children gather around Jason.
JOHN: Easy, now. He doesn't need that arm bumped.
ELIZABETH: Can I sign your cast, Jason?
JIM-BOB: Me too.
JASON: You can all sign it in a minute, if you let me sit
OLIVIA: Maybe you want to lie down.
JASON: No. I'm fine. Let's go into the kitchen.
He sits and puts his arm on the table. Erin comes in with pen
ELIZABETH: Me first.
JASON: Okay. You first.
She signs her name, then everyone else signs, except Ben. He is
in the living room, sitting on the sofa.
JASON: Ben, come in here and sign this. There's room for
one more Walton name on here.
Ben goes outside.
The next day. Jason is picking out a tune on the piano. Olivia is sitting next to him.
JASON: Ever hear of a one-handed piano player? I'll sure
be glad to get this thing off.
OLIVIA: Jason. I think you have something to think about.
School starts again on Monday.
JASON: I know. I'm anxious to go back.
OLIVIA: But how can you do that? You can't play.
JASON: I've thought about that. I'm going to talk to my
advisor as soon as I get back. I may have to drop my performance
classes, but I can keep the theory classes and maybe even the
composition classes. I guess I should be grateful that it was
my left hand and not my right.
OLIVIA: Jason, I love you and you know that. But you can
lose sight of better judgment when you're determined to do something.
I can tell you're still in pain, and you can't take those pain
pills at school. They make you so sleepy. Are you sure you're
not taking on too much right now? You know you're not to move
that arm. Maybe you'd better drop all of your classes now. You
can make up the quarter in the fall.
JASON: No, Mama. I don't want to get that far behind. It
will be hard enough just making up the performance classes. And
I'll have more time to study than I ever had. I guess I won't
be playing for Bobby Bigelow for awhile.
OLIVIA: No, I guess you won't. I'm sorry, Jason.
JASON: It's okay, Mama. Two months isn't that long, and
then everything will be back the way it was.
That night. John and Olivia are in bed.
OLIVIA: John, we need to talk to Jason.
JOHN: About what?
OLIVIA: About what the doctor said about his hand. About
it not being right after the cast is off. He's acting like he
truly believes he's going to get that cast off and everything
is going to be the way it's always been.
JOHN: That's what he has to believe. But he knows, deep
inside, that he may never have it back the way it was. He knows
more than you and me, Liv. You should have seen his face when
he realized his hand was broken. It was more than the pain, it
was, it was...
OLIVIA: Oh, John. What's he going to do?
JOHN: He'll wait. And hope. Just like the rest of us.
Several months later. Jason is in the living room.
JASON: Mama, Daddy. Hurry up!
Olivia and John come down the stairs.
OLIVIA: Be patient, Jason. Our appointment isn't until
JASON: I've been patient. I've been patient for eight weeks.
JOHN: You've done real good, son. I know it hasn't been
easy keeping up with your classes, doing things one-handed. But
you've worked real hard and I'm proud of you.
JASON: Thanks, Daddy. But can't we just go? Maybe they'll
take us early. If I don't get this thing off soon, I'm going to
cut it off myself.
OLIVIA: You'll do no such thing! I guess we can leave a
JASON: Thanks, Mama.
At the hospital. John, Jason, and Olivia are in the waiting room. Jason is tapping his foot on the floor. Olivia puts her hand on his knee.
JOHN: Nervous, son?
JASON: A little, I guess.
OLIVIA: Do you want us to go in with you?
JASON: No, you don't need to.
Doctor Howard comes into the waiting room.
DR. HOWARD: We're all set for you, Jason.
In the doctor's office. The cast has been removed and the nurse
is wiping Jason's hand.
DR. HOWARD: It looks good, Jason. A little discolored and
swollen, but we expected that.
JASON: Can I move my fingers now?
DR. HOWARD: Slowly. They're going to be stiff at first.
Don't let that worry you.
Jason moves his thumb and grins.
JASON: So far, so good. Now for the next.
Jason moves the finger slowly. He feels it with his other hand.
He pinches it.
JASON: I can't feel it. It's like the cast is still on,
like it's asleep.
DR. HOWARD: Now, stay calm. It's going to take a while
for the circulation to come back after that cast. It may have
lost some sensation temporarily. Try the next.
The second finger moves, but Jason grimaces in pain.
DR. HOWARD: What do you feel when you move it?
JASON: A sharp pain. It travels down the finger and up
the arm, to my elbow.
DR. HOWARD: Well, you may have some nerve damage. But,
Jason, it may be fine in several hours.
JASON: What if it's not?
DR. HOWARD: Can you make a fist?
Jason makes a fist slowly, but moans in pain.
DR. HOWARD: Okay. Let your fingers relax. Is the pain gone?
JASON: Yes, but there's a tingling. And the first finger
feels so funny. Like it's not a part of me.
DR. HOWARD: Jason, I know this is frightening. But it may
be only temporary.
JASON: But it may not be.
DR. HOWARD: I think your parents need to come in now.
He nods to the nurse and she returns with John and Olivia. They
look from the doctor to Jason, but Jason will not meet their eyes.
He is looking at the floor.
DR. HOWARD: Now I've told Jason that this is probably not
permanent, but the results are not as good as we had hoped. There
seems to be a loss of sensation in the first finger. If you remember,
that's the one that was most badly broken. And there's quite a
bit of pain when the second finger is moved. It was that knuckle
that had several bone chips.
OLIVIA: Is there anything you can do?
DR. HOWARD: Not any time soon. I've got some exercises
I'll show Jason that will help ease the stiffness and make the
muscles stronger. And, in time, the pain should go away and perhaps
even the sensation return to the finger.
JASON: "Perhaps even?"
JOHN: Son, let the doctor finish.
Dr. Howard reaches into a cabinet and gets several hard rubber
JASON: Jason, I want you to try squeezing these balls,
beginning with the largest one, for a few minutes at a time throughout
the day. Don't overdo it. If the pain is intense, then stop. When
you can squeeze the ball with ease, then try the next smaller,
and work your way toward the little one.
JASON: That's it?
DR. HOWARD: That's all there is for now, Jason. Make an
appointment for next month, and we'll see if things have improved.
You need to come in earlier if there seems to be any further loss
of sensation or strength.
Jason stares at him. John helps him off the examining table.
JOHN: Come on, son. Let's go home.
They arrive home. Jason goes up to his room. He sits on the edge of his bed and takes the large ball in his right hand and transfers it to his left. He tries to squeeze it, but is in obvious pain. He continues, molding his right hand over the left to force himself to keep all of the fingers around the ball. The pain becomes too much and he cries out, then throws the ball against the door.
Several weeks later. John Boy is in Ike's store. Bobby Bigelow comes in.
BOBBY: Hey, John Boy.
JOHN BOY: Well, you playin' these parts?
BOBBY: Here for a week. Came in hopin' to round up my favorite
guitar player. How's he doing?
John Boy shakes his head.
JOHN BOY: I don't know. He had the cast taken off three
weeks ago, but I'm not really sure how he's doing. He doesn't
talk much about it.
BOBBY: We're playing in Scottsville tonight. I sure could
use him if he's up to it.
JOHN BOY: I don't know, Bobby.
BOBBY: Well, you tell him to drop by, will you?
JOHN BOY: Sure, I'll tell him.
At the house. Jason is in the barn feeding the cow. John Boy comes
JOHN BOY: Jason? I saw Bobby Bigelow at Ike's today.
JASON: They playing around here?
JOHN BOY: In Scottsville for a week. He wants you to come
by tonight. He wants you to play, Jason.
Jason puts down the pitch fork and sits on a bale of hay. John
Boy sits next to him.
JOHN BOY: Are you going to go?
JOHN BOY: Jason, you don't have to go, you know.
JASON: Yes, I do.
JOHN BOY: Bobby will understand if you don't show up.
JASON: I'm not going because of Bobby.
JOHN BOY: Jason. How are you? How are you really?
JASON: I'm fine, John Boy.
John Boy picks up the pitch fork and hands it to Jason.
JOHN BOY: Here. Grab hold of this.
JASON: What are you doing?
JOHN BOY: Seeing how fine you are. Grab hold with your
Jason looks at him for a moment, then reaches for the handle.
He curls his fingers around it. He holds onto the handle, but
his face twists in pain. He closes his eyes against it. John Boy
takes the pitch fork from him.
JOHN BOY: Oh, Jason. Don't go tonight. Please.
JASON: I have to, John Boy. Can I borrow your car?
JOHN BOY: Don't go, Jason.
JASON: I need to do this. I'll walk if I have to.
JOHN BOY: What if I drive you?
JASON: I haven't lost my ability to drive a car.
JOHN BOY: I know. I'd just like to come with you.
JASON: Suit yourself.
Later, at the barn dance hall.
BOBBY: You want to warm up first, Jason, before we start
this first set?
JASON: No, I'm ready to go.
Bobby nods to the band members.
BOBBY: "Turkey in the Straw."
The band begins to play. Jason very quickly falls behind and fumbles
his chords. He is obviously making an effort to mask his pain.
John Boy watches him from the dance floor with concern. The song
BOBBY: We have a fiddle and banjo duet I know you're going
to love. Hit it, boys.
The two musicians begin to play and Bobby and Jason leave the
stage. They go outside.
BOBBY: Jason, you know I want what's best for you, and
you know I think a whole lot of you.
JASON: Bobby, don't say anything else.
BOBBY: I have to. This isn't going to work out, Jason.
I wanted it to as much as you, but you can't do it.
JASON: No. I can. I'm just a little rusty, is all. I didn't
get to play the whole time the cast was on. But I'm fine now.
Really, Bobby. Let's go back and try again. I know I can do it.
BOBBY: Jason. You can't play with us anymore.
JASON: Please don't say that. I'm fine, Bobby. I'll prove
it. What do you want me to play?
BOBBY: Go home, Jason.
JASON: "Turkey in the Straw." I can do it this
He picks up his guitar and tries to play, but his fingers are
clumsy and he makes many mistakes. His teeth are clenched against
the pain. Bobby puts his arm around Jason's shoulder.
BOBBY: Jason. Go home.
Jason walks away from him and goes to sit on a bench under a tree.
Bobby goes back inside and passes John Boy, who has been standing
in the doorway watching. They exchange glances and John Boy goes
to Jason. Jason is sitting on the bench, his guitar beside him.
He takes a small rubber ball from his pocket and clenches it in
his fist, clenching and unclenching until sweat is on his forehead.
JOHN BOY: Jason. Let's go home.
Jason continues clenching the ball, and cries out in pain.
JOHN BOY: Jason! Stop it! You're going to hurt yourself.
JASON: I can do it. I can. I just have to tell myself.
The pain's not there. It's not real. I can do it, I can do it,
John Boy puts his hand over Jason's.
JOHN BOY: Please give me the ball.
Jason gives it to him. He looks up at John Boy.
JASON: I lost my scholarship today.
JOHN BOY: What?
JASON: We had auditions today for placement in performance
classes for next year and to have scholarships renewed. I didn't
make it. It seems my piano playing isn't what it used to be. They'll
let me finish up the quarter, but if I want to come back next
year I have to reapply and audition again.
John Boy sits next to Jason.
JOHN BOY: Oh, Jason. I'm sorry.
JASON: Well, you won't have to worry about me making racket
while you're studying anymore.
JOHN BOY: I miss that racket. I'd give anything to have
it back right now. I hope you know that, Jason.
JASON: Well, Daddy's not going to be too upset that I lost
JOHN BOY: How can you say that? He never wanted anything
like this to happen to you.
JASON: I know that. He'll wish it came about another way,
but in the end he'll be relieved I'm not going to be spending
my time on music anymore. He never understood what it means to
JOHN BOY: He was like that with my writing, but he came
around. And with a little more time he will with you, too.
Jason bows his head and his voice shakes.
JASON: I guess he doesn't need to now.
John Boy puts his arm around him.
JOHN BOY: Come on. Let's go home.
Later. They drive up and go into the house. The family is sitting in the living room listening to the radio and doing various activities. John Boy goes into the living room, but Jason runs up the stairs.
Grandma watches Jason.
GRANDMA: What in the world?
JOHN BOY: I took Jason over to Scottsville tonight. To
play with Bobby Bigelow.
JOHN: Do you think that was a good idea, son?
JOHN BOY: He would have gone without me, Daddy. I wanted
to be there for him.
OLIVIA: What happened?
JOHN BOY: He tried to play. He couldn't get past the first
song. Bobby sent him home.
GRANDMA: Oh, no.
JOHN BOY: That's not all. Daddy, he went to Scottsville
tonight because he had to prove something to himself. He had auditions
today at school for the scholarship committee to renew his scholarship
for next year. He lost his scholarship. He can't get back in next
year unless he reapplies and passes his audition.
OLIVIA: Oh, Jason, my poor boy. Why didn't he say anything?
JOHN BOY: You know how he is. He was never one to share
BEN: Daddy, his hand's not ever going to get any better,
JOHN: I don't know, son.
ERIN: What if he can never play the guitar or piano again?
ELIZABETH: You mean not ever?
JOHN: Now, honey. He's going back to the doctor on Tuesday.
Let's just see what he has to say.
Elizabeth begins to cry.
Grandpa hugs her.
GRANDPA: Now, that's not going to help your brother.
Elizabeth is sobbing hard. Olivia goes to her.
OLIVIA: Elizabeth, honey. What is it?
ELIZABETH: He won't be Jason anymore.
MARY ELLEN: That's stupid. Who else would he be?
JOHN: Hush, Mary Ellen. Elizabeth, honey, what do you mean
"He won't be Jason anymore?"
ELIZABETH: He plays his guitar and sings to me when I can't
go to sleep. If I'm sad he plays me a happy song on his harmonica.
GRANDMA: And if he never does that again, he won't be Jason
Elizabeth nods and the rest of the family is silent. Olivia and
then Mary Ellen and Erin begin to cry.
John's eyes fill with tears and he puts his arm around Olivia.
JOHN: It's late. You all go on up to bed now. Ben and Jim-Bob,
maybe you could bed down in John Boy's room for tonight, leave
Jason alone for now. John Boy, you help get 'em settled.
JOHN BOY: I will. Good night, Daddy.
The family exchanges hugs and kisses goodnight and the children
go upstairs. The four adults remain in the living room. They are
silent for a while.
OLIVIA: Elizabeth put into words what I've been thinking
since the accident.
JOHN: Well, he's been playing for her since she was born.
It's hard for her to imagine him without it.
Grandpa puts his hand on John's shoulder.
GRANDPA: That's not it, son. When you think of Jason, what
do you think of? Right off, what pops into your mind?
JOHN: Music. Music filling this house, music wherever he
GRANDPA: Yes. I imagine that's what she meant. Good night,
John, Livvie. Come on, old woman.
Upstairs, in John Boy's room.
JIM-BOB: John Boy, what will Jason do now that he can't
go back to school?
JOHN BOY: I don't know. That's something he's going to
have to figure out for himself.
JIM-BOB: He could work out in the mill with Daddy.
JOHN BOY: He's never liked it much out there, Jim-Bob.
BEN: He's never liked anything but music. John Boy, I keep
expecting him to hate me.
JOHN BOY: Why would he do that?
BEN: The accident. If I hadn't of been trying to show off,
he never would have hurt his hand.
JOHN BOY: You can't blame yourself, Ben. I feel guilty
about what happened too.
BEN: Why should you?
JOHN BOY: Daddy asked me to help in the mill and I argued
with him and told him to get Jason. And I heard Daddy tell Mama
that it's his fault because he made Jason work in the mill that
BEN: That's crazy.
JOHN BOY: No crazier than what you're doing to yourself.
It's nobody's fault, Ben. It was an accident. It just happened.
Now you boys finish getting ready for bed.
The next day. John and Olivia are outside. Olivia is calling for Jason.
OLIVIA: Where is that boy? He's going to be late for his
JOHN: I saw him head toward the pond this morning. I'll
see if he's still there.
At the pond. Jason is sitting on a fallen log. He is crying.
JOHN: It's time to go, son.
JASON: I'll be there in a minute, Daddy.
John comes closer and sees that Jason is crying. He sits down
next to him.
JASON: I don't know how to let it go, Daddy.
JOHN: Let what go?
JASON: I've always known what I wanted to do with my life.
I can't remember not knowing. I've dreamed of being a professional
musician since I was little. It's the only dream I have. I never
wanted another one, never needed another one. And everything was
happening to make it come true. Bobby Bigelow. The conservatory.
Now I have to let it go, and I don't know how.
JOHN: Jason, I feel lost about this. I don't know how to
help you. But maybe I can try harder to understand. What does
your music mean to you? Really mean? How does it make you feel?
JASON: You've never asked me that before.
JOHN: I know. I should have. I'm asking you now.
JASON: I don't even know if I can explain it. To play it
and listen to it makes me happy, but it's not that simple. It's
part of me; the music's in me. It's in me now. It's always there.
I can hear the notes dancing in my head, I can feel how they're
supposed to go together. I know what they'll sound like even before
I play them. And then when I let them out, when I play my harmonica
or my guitar or the piano, it's like setting them free. It's wonderful,
Daddy. It's the most wonderful thing there is. To let the sounds
loose, to know that I can do that, it's...
He looks up at John and his voice is unsteady.
JASON: Daddy, I can't imagine never playing again, not
being a musician. I try to see myself doing something else, being
a business man or working at the mill. But I can't picture it.
It's like someone I don't even know is doing those things, but
not me. It just couldn't be me. I know I have to let go of the
dream I have, but I don't know how. It feels...it feels like something
is being ripped out of me, and I don't want it taken. I just want
to hold on.
He is crying hard and John hugs him and holds him.
Later, at the doctor's office. Dr. Howard, Jason, John, and Olivia are in the examining room.
DR. HOWARD: As you know, there's been no improvement this
JOHN: What can we do now?
DR. HOWARD: Another surgery is a possibility. There's a
specialist in Richmond who's had some success in repairing nerve
OLIVIA: How can we get in touch with him?
DR. HOWARD: I have to tell you honestly that I'm strongly
against another surgery.
DR. HOWARD: It doesn't come with any guarantees, Jason.
The likelihood that you'll lose even more sensation with further
surgery is greater than the odds of repairing the damage. You
could lose the use of your hand entirely. Look, right now you've
got sensation in all but one finger, and even though I know there's
pain when you bend the other injured finger, the pain will go
away in time.
JOHN: Do you know that?
DR. HOWARD: We've seen it before. There is pain now because
the nerve is damaged. The more he uses it, the more damaged the
nerve will become, until finally there will be no sensation at
all, no more pain.
JASON: Are you telling me that I'll have two fingers that
I won't be able to feel?
DR. HOWARD: Eventually, yes. But the pain will be gone,
Jason, and you'll have enough mobility left that the hand will
still be useful. You could do almost anything that doesn't require
fine motor skills.
JASON: Work in a sawmill?
DR. HOWARD: I don't see why not.
JOHN: And with the surgery?
DR. HOWARD: And with the surgery, he could lose the use
of the entire hand, as I've said. And there's a strong possibility
that the pain will still be there, perhaps even intensified.
OLIVIA: But there's a possibility it won't be.
DR. HOWARD: A slim one. But I must advise against this.
It is a difficult operation, not to mention an expensive one.
JOHN: We'll manage.
DR. HOWARD: There will be months in a cast again, a difficult
and painful recovery, a...
JASON: I want the operation.
DR. HOWARD: How old are you, son?
DR. HOWARD: You're young. Too young to realize what the
entire loss of your hand could mean to you. I know you think the
hand is bad now, Jason, but believe me, it's not as bad as it
JASON: I want the operation. Mama, Daddy, please.
DR. HOWARD: You'd have to give your consent, Mr. Walton.
Jason can't make that decision until he's twenty-one.
JOHN: It looks like he's already made it.
DR. HOWARD: Surely you realize the risk?
JOHN: You've made that clear.
DR. HOWARD: But with the hand the way it is now, he could
JOHN: Could he play the guitar? Play the piano?
DR. HOWARD: Well, no. Of course not.
JOHN: Doctor, I know you're giving us your best advice.
But Jason is a musician. He's not a sawmill worker. He needs all
of his fingers, not just some of them. If there's any chance at
all that this operation means he'll play his music again, then
we'll take that chance. No matter what.
Jason hugs John and then Olivia.
JASON: Oh, Daddy. Mama. Thank you, thank you.
DR. HOWARD: I'll make the arrangements. You should be able
to go to Richmond within a week to have the surgery. I wish you
well, Jason. If determination was all it took, I wouldn't hesitate
to recommend this to you. Good luck.
They all thank the doctor and leave.
NARRATOR: Jason had the second operation, and while the
recovery was indeed slow, and painful, the damaged nerves had
been repaired. We will all remember Jason's determination as he
fought against pain and the expectations of others to hold onto
his dream. Today he is a respected and successful musician, and
even though we are separated by time and distance, his music is
always with me. It is forever interwoven with those voices that
echo through that house still.
Night time. The house is dark. Sounds of the piano being played fill the house. Lights begin to go on.
GRANDMA: Good Lord. It's two in the morning.
ERIN: Tell him to stop, Daddy.
OLIVIA: It's the middle of the night, Jason. Go back to
JOHN BOY: Someone's going to have to go down there.
OLIVIA: John, go tell that boy to get back upstairs.
JOHN: You know, Liv, it's kind of pretty. We could just
listen to it until we fall back asleep. Good night, Liv.
OLIVIA: Good night, John.
ALL: Good night, Jason.
Lights go out and the piano playing continues.
More of Laura's Writing: