|Jericho: A Road not Taken
Author: 2merryann PM
A prequel of sorts, also taking into account that the folks of Jericho might have decided to make some preparations after Y2K, 9/11 & Katrina. Entire cast with many OC's. Begins 5 years before the show and tells of Jericho and Green family history.Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Friendship - Heather L. & Jake G. - Chapters: 27 - Words: 113,827 - Reviews: 89 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 10-18-12 - Published: 05-10-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8103014
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jericho: A Road Not Taken
Author's Note: The television series has Jericho affected me deeply. I am still obsessing four years after the second cancellation, and hoping for another network to pick it up (Netflix?). In the meantime, I have scoured the internet and enjoyed all of the fan fiction pieces I have been able to locate. I have particularly enjoyed The Tucker Series by JT, Different Circumstances by Marzee Doats, and On a Dark Horse by TarnishedArmour and the collection of stories by Tanaqui & Scribbler. Each author corrected plot holes noted in the TV series, as I hope to do here.
I must admit that I enjoyed Season 1 of Jericho far more than Season 2 (although I am certainly thankful for Season 2, for the Season 3 graphic novel, and look forward to the upcoming Season 4 and whatever happens at Netflix with great eagerness!). I found that I appreciated the characters and their stories, and Season 2 did not have the luxury of time for much of those. Even if Jericho were to continue, it would probably focus on the second civil war and not so much on the personalities. This story is how I would have imagined the backstories of the characters we know and many we never got to meet due to the early demise of the show.
The other thing Jericho did for me was to make me serious about being prepared for such an event. After Y2K, 9/11, and Katrina, it is within the realm of possibility that the folks of Jericho decided to make a few preparations rather than letting the shelters go to the rats. I've done a lot of research for this story that is also good to know in real life (writing the story just makes it more fun).
Chapter I: In the Beginning
August 6, 2001
E.J. Green (1) had lived through The Great Depression. He had a finger on the pulse of national politics and an eye on the economy more than most did. He did not like what he saw developing. He tried to discuss his concerns with Johnston (2), but the current mayor of Jericho was too busy with the day-to-day turmoil of the town to pay much attention. E.J.'s contemporaries were busy with their golf games and grandchildren and didn't want to be bothered with what they perceived to be conspiratorial nonsense. So E.J. kept his council for the time being. Slowly but surely, he did what he felt to be the right things to prepare his family for the coming calamity, in whatever form it might come.
E.J. enjoyed having Jake (3) live at the ranch with him when Jake returned to Jericho after finishing college at Embry Riddle. From the time Jake was a child, E.J. could count on the boy to help out as he was asked without asking too many uncomfortable questions. E.J. didn't want to burden Jake with too much information, but rather tried to instill within him a need to be prepared for any contingency. Realizing that skills were just as important as goods, E.J. taught Jake as many skills as he knew. (He would have been delighted to teach Eric (4) as well, but Eric never showed the aptitude or interest.) Thus, Jake started flying the crop duster at the tender age of 10 and helped to rebuild the engine of the 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner at the age of 12. Jake helped him care for the horses including breeding when it became appropriate. As E.J. was able to buy up adjacent pieces of property, Jake helped E.J. fence and cross-fence it so that the Green Ranch sprawled a bit more into the countryside as the years passed. Johnston and Gail (5), busy with the affairs of Jericho, were only peripherally aware of the details.
In the spring of 2001, E.J. had Jake till a sizable plot of land and help plant a variety of fruit and nut trees, rows of berry vines, and a small grape vineyard. He tried to plant things that weren't already available in Jericho. The orchard, as he called it, was a considerable project. Jake had questioned E.J. about it, particularly considering that the latter had been experiencing some health difficulties of late. E.J., still not wanting to go into details, had mumbled a story about always dreaming of living off the land. Jake did not entirely believe E.J.'s story, but he was preoccupied with something he and Jonah Prowse (6) were working on. Jake left soon after to hash things out with Jonah and ended up leaving Jericho without returning to the ranch.
E.J. missed Jake desperately - both from a companionship standpoint, and because Jake had become his partner-in-crime even if Jake had not fully realized it. It took E.J. a few months to regain his equilibrium and set about the next step of his preparedness plan: Beekeeping. Bees would be a necessary step for the pollination of his new fruit orchard, and the honey was a side benefit to which he also looked forward. One early August Monday afternoon, E.J. took himself to the Jericho library to start research on his future career as an apiculturist. With the help of the librarian, he located a few books to get himself started. Unfortunately, these books were considered "reference material", and he would not be allowed to take them home.
"I don't understand. Why do you have a "lending library" if you aren't going to lend out books?" He asked the librarian in a voice that was a pitch too loud for a library, and clearly showed his disapproval.
The disinterested librarian shrugged her shoulders and turned away.
At this point, a dark-haired girl approached him with a kind smile. "I may be able to help you," she suggested. "Why don't we go sit down and you can tell me what you are looking for."
They found a vacant table in the corner and sat down. E.J. introduced himself to Heather Lisinski (7), a teacher who had just moved to town to take a position at the Jericho Elementary School. The two talked, in hushed library voices, all afternoon. E.J. learned that Heather did not know a soul in Jericho. While she had grown up in New Bern, she had been out of state at college for five years and hadn't maintained any ties there, either. Following the death of her Father, she had been intent on getting her degree and her teaching credential, leaving little time for a social life. Her best friends were her books and her young students. Heather, for her part, learned that E.J. was lonely in a town filled with friends and family with whom he could not speak freely. He did not tell her all of the details of his concerns, but he mentioned that he was working on a project, and could use some help and research. These were all of the words that Heather needed to hear. Someone in need of help, especially a potential kindred spirit like E.J. Green, would certainly receive all of the help she had to offer.
The librarian began to flicker the lights, and then pointedly announced that the library was closing. E.J. and Heather hurriedly stood and exited the building, apiculture books left forgotten on the table as they spoke excitedly about their plans to meet at the Green Ranch the following day. Heather knew just how to provide an end-run around a lending library that would not lend books!
~ Getting Acquainted - August 7, 2001 ~
Heather arrived at the Green Ranch (A) promptly at 11am the following morning. She balanced a bowl of piping hot peach crisp in one hand and had a worn leather messenger bag slung from one shoulder across to the other hip as she approached the front porch. E.J. opened the front door and came bounding out toward her with more spring in his step than he'd had in quite a while.
"Heather, my dear, I can't tell you how delighted I am to have met up with you yesterday," he started out, taking the towel-wrapped bowl from her hand and leading her into the house. "I made chicken salad sandwiches and fruit salad for lunch, I hope that is alright?" he asked anxiously.
"That sounds delicious", she responded, reassuring him. "The Jericho Motor Inn, where I am staying until I find an apartment, only has a microwave. I had to improvise a bit with my mother's peach crisp recipe, but I think it will taste about the same", she ended with a chuckle, putting E.J. at ease.
They enjoyed their lunch at the kitchen table, chatting companionably about Heather's college years in upstate New York, and her extended family who had taken her under their wing following the death of her mother when Heather was 12 and her father the year she started college.
E.J. cleared the table following lunch and Heather brought out the contents of the messenger bag: her laptop computer. E.J. had recently celebrated his 76th birthday, and was the first to admit that he was woefully behind the times then it came to "modern gadgets".
"I think we will find everything you need to know about beekeeping right here", she said with a smile as E.J. gave her a sour look.
"I just don't know about this," E.J. said with a concerned look. "I was familiar with a typewriter before I retired from the Mayor's office, but this is a bird of a different feather."
Heather grinned. "I'll tell you what. To start with, I'll do the typing, and you can do the reading. How would that be?"
"Well, we can try . . . "E.J. said, suddenly interested in the screen in front of them.
The two spend the next several hours researching beekeeping. They saved articles on how to get started, where to order supplies, how to retrieve honey, and what might be done with the beeswax.
As they worked, E.J. went into greater detail his concerns about the ever-growing government and the potentials for disaster including economic collapse, being attacked by those unhappy with foreign policy, and even the inability of the government to fulfill its promises to take care of all the people who weren't prepared to care for themselves in the event of a natural disaster. None of this was news to Heather. Her extended family was always prepared for the inclement weather of New York with generators, fuel, food supplies to last them a week or more, bottled water, and emergency bags in every vehicle in case they became stranded in poor weather. The news in New York was full of headlines each winter where people froze to death in their cars or in their homes when the power went out overnight, or even starved to death if they remained snowed in for an extended period. During the summer, people suffered heat exhaustion or died due to lack of water if they had car trouble in a remote area. The Lisinski family would not be making the headlines in this manner.
Once they had agreed that being prepared was, indeed, a good thing, Heather started searching for websites accordingly. Having recently lived through the Y2K concerns, she had no difficulty finding sites. Blogs were plentiful offering lists of items necessary to have, skills necessary to learn. A surprising number of people were leaving the hectic pace of the big cities in favor of living off-grid, self-sufficient lifestyles, and they were willing to share their learning curve with those who were interested enough to read along. The popularity of the self-proclaimed homesteading movement surprised E.J. He had experienced just the opposite in Jericho, and that was another concern he now voiced to Heather.
"I have to tell you, my dear, you are the first new young person I've seen move to Jericho in nearly a decade. The kids grow up, go away to college, and we never see them again. The ones that don't make it to college have the bus schedules out of town memorized by the time they graduate from Jericho High, and off they go to the big cities. Several of the mayors of other small Kansas towns are my friends from way back, and they report the same problem. There just isn't enough in the way of jobs or activity to keep many of them here to raise another generation. The population of Jericho dwindles a bit more each year, since back in the 1950's." E.J. stopped talking long enough to take a drink of his lemonade and to refill Heather's glass. "Seems like we ought to be able to do something about that problem as well, with the help of your fancy computer," he added, smiling slyly and gesturing toward her laptop.
Heather smiled back at him, pleased they had overcome his phobia of modern technology at least a little. "Well," she said thoughtfully, "I think the homestead idea has us on the right track. You are already off to a great start with the orchard. You said you usually have a vegetable garden?"
"Yes." E.J. said somewhat sadly. "I usually have my grandson Jake help me with that in the spring, but he put the orchard in this year instead. I was going to have him put in a later garden, but he, uh, was called out of town on business and I just didn't have it in me to do it by myself." E.J. paused and looked down at his hands for a minute before he continued "I probably could use some more help around here, but I'm not sure who to turn to. Like I mentioned yesterday, my son is the Mayor of Jericho, and he keeps pretty busy with running the town. My daughter-in-law Gail helps with the horses, and I know she would do anything I asked, but she is always busy with the social aspects of being the First Lady of Jericho and I hate to ask anything more of her. We have help for the livestock, but they are already busy and aren't as interested in farming."
"Well," said Heather brightly, "I would be happy to help all I can. We could probably still put in a fall garden this year, but it might be better to use our time doing research and planning a spring garden. I will print out the articles we talked about and bring them with me the next time I come out, OK?" She glanced at her watch and was surprised at the hour. "Oh, dear, I really should head back to town and start my apartment search. I am having such a good time; I hadn't realized how late it had gotten!"
Heather quickly started to gather her things, but E.J. put his hand over hers to get her attention. "I'm not sure what you will think of this idea," he said slowly, as if thinking it through as he spoke, "but what if you rented a room here at the ranch? You could have your own bedroom and bathroom upstairs. I moved downstairs to the guest room a few years ago when my knees started bothering me. I would love the company, and I would make myself scarce if you wanted to have a gentleman caller. . ." he finished in a rush, looking at Heather expectantly.
Heather looked at him quizzically. "Are you sure about this?" she asked. "What will your family think? I met your daughter-in-law when I came to Jericho for my interview in the spring. She was very nice, but I wouldn't want to be on her bad side."
At that, E.J. let out a chuckle, and assured Heather that being on the bad side of Gail Green was, indeed, an unenviable position.
"Well," he continued, "it is my home, and my life. But you do have a point. How about if we finagle you an invitation to family dinner after church on Sunday. We can see what they think of our plan. In the meantime, I would be delighted if you would be my guest here at the Green Ranch. You can try it out for size. By Sunday, you might decide you don't want to live with a cantankerous old bachelor like me." E.J. moved toward the phone on the kitchen counter, still looking at Heather for approval of his plan.
Heather thought through the idea quickly as E.J. was getting up from the table. She simply adored him. He reminded her a great deal of her father, who had been quite a bit older than her mother, and closer to the age of a grandfather. They had been very close, and she missed him tremendously, even though he had been gone 5 years. She had lived alone in her own apartment the last year of college, but missed having someone to talk with. The opportunity of being able to garden with E.J. and tinker with his farm equipment was quite appealing to the Kansas girl who had spent the past 5 years living in a New York college town. "OK, yes!" she said as he reached for the receiver "I would love to be your guest for the next few days, and your renter/assistant if it all works out." They grinned at each other in a conspiratorial manner as he began to dial the ancient phone.
"Gail, my dear," he started out, in his most charming manner, "I was wondering if I could bring a guest to Sunday dinner."
Gail's mind immediately went to the list of eligible older ladies who lived in the Jericho area. "Why, of course, E.J." she started, her mind whirling, looking for a way to ask who he would be bringing without spooking him. "Ah, is this someone we know?"
"Yes, I do believe you have met her." E.J. had not planned to mislead his daughter-in-law, but laughed silently to himself as he followed her train of thought. Gail was always trying to pair him up with Mrs. Olson (8) or one of the other single ladies in town. Further, she followed the gossip of the town faithfully, and tracking down this tidbit would keep her busy for the rest of the week. Heather was watching him with a quizzical smile, not quite sure what was going on.
Gail tried a different tact. "Should I fix anything particular for dinner? Does she follow a special diet?"
E.J. knew this wasn't nice, but he couldn't pass up the opportunity. "No, I don't think she follows a special diet." He glanced at Heather for confirmation, and she shook her head.
At this point, Gail realized she would have better luck with her own sources than with her irascible father-in-law. "We'll see you and your lady-friend around noon, then?" she asked, before hanging up.
"I look forward to it. See you then." E.J. said to Gail agreeably, hanging up the phone.
"Um, what was that all about?" Heather asked when E.J. turned back to the table, her eyebrows raised.
"Oh, Gail thinks I'm bringing a lady friend to dinner. I didn't want to disappoint her!" E.J. said with a chuckle. "She will love getting to know you better!"
"We are going to get into a lot of trouble together, aren't we?" Heather asked with a giggle.
"Oh, I certainly hope so!" E.J. responded laughingly. "Why don't you go get your things and I'll get your room ready, my dear."