The Road Towards Reconciliation

Summary: Sometimes, all it takes is an honest conversation and
willingness to bridge the gap of hostilities. "All Good Things"
inspired this very short Homefront story.

Disclaimer: Homefront characters belong to their creators. No
copyright infringement intended. No profit is being made.

Author's Notes: Special thanks goes to Sharon for offering this idea and
especially for her unwavering and infectious enthusiasm for Homefront

Author: Tracy Diane Miller
E-mail address: tdmiller82h...

The Road Towards Reconciliation

Life is funny sometimes. Not funny in the sense of "ha ha", but
funny in the perverse power, irony really, that Fate seems to wield.
One day you're boasting a .297 batting average in your rookie season
with a major league baseball team, engaged to a beautiful and swell
dame, and looking forward to your wedding and honeymoon "practicing"
at creating your own team of little short stops. But the next day,
you're crying in your beer as the dame refuses to give up her screwy
show business career to become your wife, starts dating your
teammate, and appears as the spokes person on the barnstorming tour
that you signed on to months earlier. The stage becomes set for more
absurdity when you slip on a tomato, tear the ligaments in your knee,
get hired and later fired as the co-star on the radio show featuring
your estranged fiancée, and told by the doctor that you'll never play
professional baseball again. Then, it's back to your dead-end job as
a bartender pouring drinks for other hopeless saps and listening to
their sad stories.

Like it isn't enough that you're one of Fate's inconsequential pawns
that she toys with at her whim but then it seems that she decides,
maybe out of boredom, to throw more tragedies your way. Your mother
is stricken with polio and your stepfather is a Communist.
Well, "accused Communist"; he won't deny the charge because of
his "principles". How screwy is that?

What happens next? Fate has changed her mind once more and decided
to cut you a break, let you off the hook so to speak, in the downward
spiral that she had charted for your life. That knee of yours is
getting stronger every day, courtesy of a special ointment and a lot
of prayer. Mom always said that God hears prayers even when you
think that he isn't listening. You're given another shot at baseball—
an opportunity to play in the minors for a while with the goal of
returning to the majors. And the dame? Well, she understands how
much of a fool you were breaking up with her. She agrees to marry
you instead of that ham fisted yahoo that she became entangled with
while on the rebound. It was even worth it to get socked in the eye
by the guy just to see the expression on the jerk's face when you
announced that you had reclaimed your girl. Of course, now you're
sporting quite a shiner. No matter-—at this moment, life is good.

Jeff stared out of the car window as Al drove him towards the train
station. The young rookie felt excited and anxious, the same
emotions that he had experienced when he was about to leave for
spring training in Clearwater. This was his shot at the big leagues-
-again. He just needed to play in a couple of games for the minors,
show them what he's got, and he'd be back in the majors in no time.

The silence in the car was deafening. Finally, Al decided that he
had enough of the quiet. "Maybe I can apply for a job as a cab
driver. I'm pretty good at this and I hear that the tips are swell."

No response from his passenger.

"Of course, I suspect that patrons like it better when cabbies keep
their mouths shut. You know, all that talking interferes with the
important daydreaming that they're doing in the backseat."

Still silent.

"How about Feller's no hitter, huh? I tell you, it's going to go
down in the history books. I'll tell you something else. Baseball
will have a union someday soon. You mark my words. And the ball
players will be all the better for it." Al said.

"Says you. Baseball doesn't need a union. The ballplayers play
because they love the game. They love the crowds. It's not about
politics." Jeff countered.

"If you believe that, then you're a sap. It's always about politics,
kid. It's always about the working class licking management's boots
for a few crumbs. It's about the boys at the top having fat wallets
while the little guy is sweating for peanuts. And when you no longer
can feed management's wallet, they get rid of you without a by your
leave. A union exists to give the average Joe a fighting chance."

Jeff let out a wry laugh. "Always trying to drum up support for a
union, aren't you? Just like when I first met you at the Roadhouse."

"And you're still stubborn and resistant to change just like when I
first met you. Change doesn't always have to be bad. You don't have
to be afraid of things changing, Jeff. Change can be good. It can
be an opportunity to have a better life."

A brief silence.

"Is that what you gave my mom, Al, a better life?" Jeff asked, a
trace of hostility in his voice.

Al pulled the car over to the side of the road. He stopped the car
and turned off the ignition.

"I'm going to miss my train."

"Do you want me to say that I'm sorry that I came to River Run? That
I'm sorry that I fell in love with your mother and that I married her
and we had Mike? Well, I'm not going to say that. I came to this
town because I believed more than anything that the workers needed a
union and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that
they got one. Falling in love with Anne-I never planned that. I
never planned to get married again. I never expected to get caught
up in that crazy world that you Catholics have where you see all of
us non-Catholics as sinners determined to destroy the natural order
and where you lie but call it a mental reservation to ease your
guilty conscience. You think that I planned to fall in love with a
stubborn, exasperating woman like your mother? But I did. I love
her very much. And I'm sick and tired of having to apologize to you
because of that or because you see me as your enemy."

A brief silence.

"Look, we're not perfect, but Mom raised us to be good Catholics.
We're not killing people or anything." Jeff paused briefly before
continuing. "And-and I don't see you as the enemy. Maybe I did
once, but I don't anymore. It's just that, well, when you came into
our lives, it seemed like everything changed. You say that change
can be good, that it can be an opportunity to have a better life, but
I didn't see where you brought that to our family. You got Linda
involved with the union and with Hank working for management; it
became World War III at our house. You started dating Mom and you and
she...the next thing we knew, Mom was going to have a baby. It
seemed that because of you, Mom sacrificed her principles and did
things that she never did before and told us not to do." There was
another brief pause as Jeff considered his next words. "And the
truth of the matter is, that I guess…I guess I never wanted to see my
mother dating anyone because no one was ever good enough for her,
except my dad. I didn't want to see Mom with anyone else except
Dad. I know that it won't make any sense to you, but that's the way
I feel and I'm not apologizing for feeling that way."

"I'm not asking you to forget your father, Jeff. I never tried to
replace him. And if I died and Anne remarried, I would hope that
Mike would remember me and remember how much I loved him. But I'd
also hope that he'd be happy that his mother found love again and
that she was happy. I would hope that he knew that his stepfather
loved him and cared about what happened to him."

No response.

"I don't want to be your father. And maybe it's too late for this,
but I do want to be your friend, if you'll let me."

Still silent.

Al let out a frustrated sigh. He placed the key in the ignition and
started the car. The rest of the drive, done in silence, made the
trip seem like an eternity. Finally, they had reached the train
station.

Jeff reached for his bag that was next to him on the back
seat. "Thanks for the ride." He said.

Both men exited the car. "Good luck. We're very proud of you." Al
said simply.

Mud green eyes stared into the eyes of his stepfather. Jeff briefly
hesitated before he extended his hand to Al. "Thanks. Good luck to
you, too." He replied awkwardly.

Jeff began to walk away. He stopped abruptly, rubbing his hand
across the back of his neck. Jeff turned back around. "Hey, Al?"

"Yeah?"

"I think a union for baseball would be swell."

Al smiled.

It was only a small step, but sometimes, all it takes is an honest
conversation and willingness to bridge the gap of hostilities to lead
people on the road towards reconciliation.

The End