Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #44

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #44

…before long, optimism turns to panic, at first a distant rumble is heard…

Trestle-001

On a still, quiet night like this, the steady trampling of six pairs of feet is easily Bleaker Brothers-001detected. The Bleakers celebrate the coming Campbells, eagerly cart wheeling to the task of escorting them across the trestle that spans the Little River gorge. One quarter mile across and 100 feet down, the watershed which feeds the larger Ochlockonee aquifer may scare the average person, for these men who dangle and fly for a living (with the greatest of ease), the dizzying height is nothing at all, even in the moonlight.

finish-line

Darkness conceals the river below, making it appear to be endless space, without mass or ditch or anything that will stop an object straying from the rails. But it is there and gravity is waiting to take over.

The final stage, the most dangerous of the five, is in good hands. Footsteps are rhythmic and sure with half of the span negotiated. Even the Fabulous Flying Bleakers Brothers sense the mythical “finish line”, the end of the trestle where they will not likely be followed. Agnes and Francis cover their eyes and sort of bravely ride the shoulders of their daring escorts from a far-off land.

But before long, optimism turns to panic. At first, a distant rumble is heard. There aren’t herds of buffalo in Florida, even before they were nearly wipe clear of North America, so it must be something else.

The wooden structure starts to vibrate. There are no earthquakes in Florida, though there are a few old-timers who remember a shaker late in 1811, distant resonance Midnight Freight-001from the Missouri and Ohio River valleys.   

A plume of coal smoke drifting past the sinking moon settles the matter. That rising cloud of ash and dust smoke can only be one thing. It is the unwelcome calling card from the Midnight  Freight.

The hard charging mass of iron and steel travels at speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour and closes in on the trestle in no time. A quick assessment of their status is not good at all. Amanda Campbell joins Willy for the final 300 feet; his strength will help them carry the day. Hosea tries to keep up, but his unsure feet slip between timbers. The Bleakers must put down the girls to free his wedged right leg. Screaming the whole time, his leg is loosed, but his shoe remains.

The locomotive continues to close_____________


Alpha Omega M.D

Episode #44


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Only the Songwriter Knows For Sure – WIF Music

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Famous Songs

(That Are Widely

Misunderstood)

It’s often been said that songs are largely driven by emotion rather than meaning or complexity of the music. This certainly would explain why a scant three chords and a groovy haircut goes a long way and can help to sell a ton of records. Conversely, sometimes the lyrics can evoke equally powerful feelings — even when a song’s meaning is completely misunderstood.

From The Clash to The Kingsmen, here’s just a fraction of classic tunes that people continue to love, despite completely missing the point of what the songwriters were trying to say.

10. “Train In Vain” (The Clash)

Ever since its release from the seminal London Calling double album, “Train In Vain” arrived at the station shrouded in mystery — largely in part to the track not being listed on the sleeve or back cover. The song name would also become muddled after fans began calling it by its chorus, “Stand By Me,” as well as the actual title never being mentioned in the lyrics; furthermore, the toe-tapping tune has absolutely nothing to do with transportation or working out. Now 40 years later, the heart of the controversy lies in a simple printing snafu and a stubborn girlfriend.

Written by Mick Jones, “Train In Vain” was originally intended to be used as a flexi-disk promotion for the British music magazine, NME. But when the deal fell through at the last minute, the band decided to tack it onto the master of their recently completed album. This, however, resulted in one small problem: the artwork, lyrics, liner notes, etc. had already gone to the printer. As a result, it landed on Side Four as Track 5 with the title crudely scratched on the original vinyl in the needle run-off area. Subsequent pressings would later include the proper title on the album — although in the U.S., it contained the variation, “Train In Vain (Stand By Me).”

The story behind the meaning is rooted in Jones’ ex-girlfriend, Slits guitarist Viv Albertine. Although Jones has remained somewhat tight-lipped about the doomed relationship, the feminist rock icon has been more candid: “I’m really proud to have inspired that but often he won’t admit to it. He used to get the train to my place in Shepherds Bush and I would not let him in. He was bleating on the doorstep. That was cruel.”

The all-female Slits supported The Clash on their White Riot tour — and the alluring Albertine enjoyed a well-earned reputation of breaking many punk hearts, including Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders, and Joe Strummer.

9. “There She Goes” (The La’s)

An undeniably catchy, jangly ballad, “There She Goes” appears to be a simple tale of unrequited love. However, the lyrics ”Racing through my brain… pulsing through my vein” reveal a not-so-innocent side. Additionally, frontman Lee Mavers’ eccentric and reclusive behavior only furthered drug-fueled speculation that the popular track drew inspiration from poppies. Yep, it’s about heroin.

Released as a single in 1988, the track earned the proto Britpop band from Liverpool earned critical praise before typical band infighting and chaos ensued. Although the song would be re-released two years later on their debut album under the Go! Disc label, The La’s had already been relegated to one-hit wonder status.

Later, the alt Christian-rock outfit Sixpence None The Richer covered the tune and enjoyed a major hit stateside — proving Jesus has a place in his heart for all saints and sinners.

8. “Fire and Rain” (James Taylor)

This one’s also about smack. Sorry. Taylor wrote “Fire and Rain” as a deeply personal reflection of life’s bumpy road, capturing all of its twists and turns and pains and joys. A remarkable feat considering he was only 20 years old at the time. From his second album, Sweet Baby James, the song’s structure unfolds like a three-act play with a beginning, middle, and end. Taylor explains in a 1972 interview with Rolling Stone:

“‘Fire and Rain’ has three verses. The first verse is about my reactions to the death of a friend. The second verse is about my arrival in this country with a monkey on my back, and there Jesus is an expression of my desperation in trying to get through the time when my body was aching and the time was at hand when I had to do it… And the third verse of that song refers to my recuperation in Austin Riggs (psychiatric facility) which lasted about five months.”

The end result earned the young singer/songwriter a multi-platinum record and a career that remains strong today over five decades later. But the “monkey on his back” would become a recurring affliction. Taylor first began using heroin after arriving in New York City in 1966 — a habit that escalated in London while briefly signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records label. Despite his personal and professional setbacks, Taylor has sold over 100 million records, and in 2000 became enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

7. “Dancing With Myself” (Billy Idol)

In his tell-all memoir, Dancing With Myself, the title is both metaphor and the name of one of his biggest hits. It’s also a cheeky double entendre for spanking the monkey. You know, the five knuckle shuffle. Jackin’ the beanstalk. Badgering the witness. Jerkin’ the gherkin. Okay, enough already — it’s about masturbation.

The song was first recorded in 1979 by Idol’s previous band, Gen X, and then re-released as a single in 1981 for the singer’s solo launch. Written by Idol and Gen X bassist, Tony James, the song was inspired in part during a Gen X tour of Japan in 1979. According to Idol, he and James visited a Tokyo disco, where they were surprised to find most of the crowd there dancing alone in front of a wall of mirrors instead of with each other.

However, when pressed on the subject, Idol later conceded there’s more than one layer: “There’s a masturbatory element to it, too. There’s a masturbatory element in those kids dancing with their own reflections. It’s not too much further to sexual masturbation. The song really is about these people being in a disenfranchised world where they’re left bereft dancing with their own reflections.”

Umm, sure, Billy, whatever you say. The song’s music video (which saw heavy rotation in MTV’s halcyon days) features a half-naked Idol thrusting and grinding with post-apocalyptic zombies. Oddly, there’s no mention of social anxiety, disillusionment or the despair of ennui. But then what do you expect from someone who kicks off his autobiography prologue with sordid tales of “never-ending booze, broads, and bikes, plus a steady diet of pot, cocaine, ecstasy, smack, opium, Quaalude, and reds.”

Long live rock & roll!

6. “Imagine” (John Lennon)

On the surface, this simple piano-driven ballad is a dreamy elixir for the soul, calling for an end to war, borders, religion, greed and hunger. The song would not only become a modern hymn of sorts for world peace and unity, but also helped solidify Lennon’s enduring legacy as a stand-alone rock and roll deity. But the ex-Beatle, who clearly understood the power of celebrity, was also a bit cryptic with the hidden message — one which he later characterized as his way of delivering a “sugarcoated” communist manifesto.

Masterfully arranged and co-produced by pre-felon, Phil Spector, in 1971, “Imagine” remains as relevant today as ever and ranks #3 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All-Time. But the main takeaway that’s often overlooked isn’t just some hippie ode to all love one another — but rather encourages people to use revolutionary methods and ideas to make the world a better place. Does this mean John Lennon spent his free time puffing on cigars with Fidel Castro in Havana or riding on the back of Che Guevara’s motorcycle through Bolivian jungles? Hardly.

Lennon much preferred the company of his wife and co-collaborator, Yoko Ono, at their spectacular estate in Ascot (and location for the song’s music video). Furthermore, Lennon set the record straight regarding party affiliations, stating “I am not particularly a communist and I do not belong to any movement.”

5. “Poker Face” (Lady Gaga)

Anyone who saw Gaga on Season 5 of American Horror Story knows this lady can get down. In fact, her convincing performance even won her a Golden Globe — which shouldn’t have been terribly surprising given her impressive real-life talent for switch-hitting. And no, we’re not talking baseball. As for that little ditty that launched Gaga’s career into another galaxy, “Poker Face” has little to do with playing cards. It’s all about bi-sexuality.

Co-written by Gaga with her longtime collaborator, Red One, the track is said to be a tribute to past conquests in Gaga’s wild ride to fame and fortune. It was first released in 2008 off her debut album (and prophetically named), Fame, and went on to become one of the best selling singles of all time. Featuring more hooks than a Bass Pro Shop, the song also benefits from that over-the-top accompanying music video, a wildly sexy romp that has since been viewed more times than every Kardashian sex tape combined. Well, maybe.

Unlike other songs on this list, the lyrics are fairly transparent and only get lost in the blinding glare cast by the singer’s hyper-radiant star. Nonetheless, it’s doesn’t take much imagination to decipher what she means when she playfully teases, “I’m just bluffin’ with my muffin.” Got it, Gaga. Message received, no distortion.

4. “Every Breath You Take” (The Police)

Ironically, the cops should’ve locked up these guys a long time ago for allowing this unofficial Stalker Anthem to become such a massive hit. Actually, it’s not their fault — but you’d think that someone as smart as Sting (only his name is stupid) would have anticipated that his lyrics would become so widely misinterpreted as both a sappy love song and a license to creep. Unfortunately, the subtext about a possessive lover with an Orwellian zeal for spying never quite registered with fans. Perhaps the band should’ve named the album something other than Synchronicity.

Sting wrote “Every Breath You Take” during a critical juncture in his life — both personally and professionally. Although The Police had enjoyed a mercurial run with sold-out arenas and multiple-platinum records, Sting felt cornered and wanted out. He had also become embroiled in an affair with his future wife,Trudie Styler, while inconveniently still married to her best friend, Frances Tomelty. Awkward. So, like any rock star with lots of money and access to private jets, he took off for the Caribbean, where he found refuge on Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye estate. There, he penned the song that became the band’s biggest hit and won the 1983 Grammy for Song Of The Year.

In a 1993 interview, Sting explains the inspiration: “I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.”

3. “Death Or Glory” (The Clash)

The London-based rockers return with another entry on the list, which shouldn’t be a surprise from the group simply known as “the only band that matters.” Also from their London Callingalbum, “Death or Glory” is a parody about those who talk a big game but fail to back it up or wind up selling out to the man.

An upbeat tempo and satisfying melody accompanies possibly the greatest lyric in rock & roll history: “He who f**** nuns, will later join the church.” The amusing metaphor hammers home the point that those who fight hardest against conformity will eventually become what they vowed to avoid. It was apparently one of the band’s favorite songs on the album, recorded at Wessex Studios in Highbury, London for CBS records. According to legend, their eccentric producer, Guy Stevens, ran around the studio like a madman, throwing chairs and ladders during the session and even dumped a bottle of wine on Joe Strummer’s piano.

Interestingly, the song also reflects the band’s acceptance of change in terms of dealing with their own success while trying to stay loyal to their working class roots. Sadly, Strummer passed away in 2002, but unlike previous generations of rockers who pledged to die before they got old, this frontman actually did it.

2. “Born In The U.S.A.” (Bruce Springsteen)

Although many still believe this 1984 mega-hit reflects America’s ass-kicking greatness, the true meaning tells a much different story. But the confusion is understandable. The easy-to-remember chorus coupled with Springsteen’s trademark gravelly, blue-collar vocals practically screams baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. The Boss, however, wrote it as a scathing indictment of the U.S. military-industrial complex and the debacle of the Vietnam War.

Nonetheless, beginning with Ronald Reagan, politicians continue to misuse the song as a propaganda tool on the campaign trail. Perhaps taking time to actually listen to the lyrics, or better yet, having the words explained to them by the man himself would help to clarify the matter: “when you think about all the young men and women that died in Vietnam, and how many died since they’ve been back — surviving the war and coming back and not surviving — you have to think that, at the time, the country took advantage of their selflessness. There was a moment when they were just really generous with their lives.”

In “Born in the USA,” Springsteen pays a specific homage to the Hell experienced at Khe Sanh, where in 1968, a U.S. Marine garrison bravely withstood 77 days of relentless bombing in one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the war.

Fittingly for our purpose, Springsteen once called “Born in the USA” the “most misunderstood song since ‘Louie, Louie.’”

1. “Louie Louie” (The Kingsmen)

No list about misunderstood songs would be complete without including that 1963 golden oldie,“Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen. Featuring mostly indecipherable lyrics, it would eventually become the most recorded song in history with well over 1,000 versions, ranging from Barry White to Motorhead. But the bizarre, serpentine path that led to the rock n roll pantheon is as murky as the garbled vocals laid down in one take by an obscure, teen-aged garage band from Portland, Oregon.

In an equally strange, ironic twist, golden-voiced Harry Belafonte deserves some credit for the song’s wild odyssey. After all, his 1956 chart-topping album “Calypso” would inspire a doo-wop singer in L.A. named Richard Berry to hastily write down the original “Louie Louie” lyrics on a roll of toilet paper (yes, really) in hopes of cashing in on the popular island sound craze. In 1957, Berry and his band, The Pharaohs, recorded the track about a Jamaican sailor yearning for a girl as he laments to a bartender named Louie.

Although the song enjoyed decent regional airplay, Berry sold the rights a few years later for $750 to help pay for his wedding (he would be justly compensated years later). Then in 1961, a singer in the Pacific Northwest named Rockin’ Robin Roberts covered the tune with his band, The Wailers — and that’s when The Kingsmen finally enter the picture.

Childhood school friends and bandmates Lynn Easton and Jack Fry had heard Roberts’ version playing on local jukeboxes around town and decided to try a recording of their own. And so on April 6, 1963, after coughing up 50 bucks to pay for a quickie studio session, the boys walked into Northwest Inc. Recording and a date with infamy.

The small studio had been set up for an instrumental arrangement only, forcing Ely to get up on his toes to be heard on a microphone dangling from the ceiling. Adding to the difficulty, he also wore braces at the time, producing his soon-to-be-legendary mumbled words. By October that year, the single had raced up the charts, fueled largely by the raw sound and its perceived obscene message.

The single was banned by several radio stations and declared indecent by the Governor of Indiana — and later investigated by the FBI. Eventually, the boys from Bridgetown would only be found guilty of poor enunciation (as well as Fry botching the third verse two bars too soon) but no charges were ever filed. It should be noted, however, Easton can be heard yelling “f***” at the fifty-four second mark after dropping his drumstick.


Only the Songwriter Knows For Sure

WIF Music

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #43

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Alpha Omega M. D. – Episode #43

…The Flying Bleakers, a Slavic family of acrobatic proportions, is manning the next post. Mile four – versatile performers…

Bleaker Brothers-001

Grandma Lettie’s feet fail to meet a pace that is increasing, slower to faster. 2500 ties into the task, the oldest of the 8 hearts begins to fail, unable to see the journey to the end. Fortunately, Jacques Francoise is stationed 500 feet ahead at the first mile marker. He is the lone member of the Society who remotely resembles a doctor – Mile one – one life at stake.Mile 1-001

“Keep going, please and send Jacques back to me. I will wait for him and catch up. Amanda, you have to keep up the pace!” Jacob does not like the way things are going.

She is fearful for her mother’s life, yet she has to trust the planning and of this liberator.

The longer Jacob remains behind, the greater is his potential for peril. There is no way of knowing when or if the night guards will spot the Campbells’ empty blankets. Will the corn meal sacks work the way they had the day before?

“Remember how we practiced chilens. Steppin’ stones–left foot, right foot, keep yo eyes on the next log and stay close to yo daddy!”

Amanda Campbell senses the urgency.

Mile 1-001Mile two – less eventful; with Jacob regaining his position in the pack as the rest reach station two. “Grandma Lettie is being cared for, go back and combine forces with Jacques,” Jacob tells the Midway village blacksmith, muscularly equipped to carry the 110 pound woman 10 miles if necessary.

Mile 1-001Mile three – aid station, with orange slices and water to keep up their energy. The volunteer, a Negro seamstress, looks at the Campbell girls, imagining herself making wedding dresses for them, free to marry the men they truly love, not bred to the healthiest male to produce the strongest male children.

One minute well spent.

Waiting ahead is quite a pair. Circuses and carnivals are popping up all over theMile 1-001 South, as they have in New York, Saint Louis, and Montreal having been born in Europe. Two of The Flying Bleakers, a Slavic family of acrobatic proportions, is manning the next post. Mile four – versatile performers. The oppression they had fled in the “olde country” is a whiter shade of prejudice than here in Florida, but just as, if not more dirty. The ethnic cleansing that they and their ancestors have survived or participated in for more than four centuries inspires them to lend their unique skills to help right the wronged.


 Alpha Omega M. D.

Episode #43


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #42

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #42

The good thing about railroad tracks is that they travel as very nearly as the crow flies, the shortest distance between two points…

For the record, 30 minutes before the beginning of 5 October, Jacob Haley summons A drawing of the Colt Navy Model .36 cal revolver manufactured in 1851. The scene beneath the revolver shows a group of sailors firing a canon at a distant ship. One of six prints enclosed in a folded cover entitled "A Collection of Colt Historical Prints 1836-1873".the Campbell’s for their flight from servitude. The children have been properly coached in the art of silence, as well as single file marching. Willy leads the way, followed by Hosea, Agnes, Francis and Alfrey, backed by Mother, Grandmother and finally, Jacob, bringing up the rear with a Colt Navy Model 36 Cal.  revolver on his belt and the determination of a charging bull. Willy sets the pace, Jacob backs them up.

Much of the ground leading to the Pensacola & East R.R. right-of-way is woodlot, which provides fuel for all the many and varied Sumter fires. That forest of deciduous trees absorbs this string of conspicuously shadowy figures, formerly highlighted by a full harvest moon.

Uncut windfall and branches make for treacherous going, slowing their all important pace. Jacob is aware of the P&E R.R.’s midnight freight, but does not know where it is on its way west, as the clock strikes 12. His nose tells him that absence of coal smoke means it has not preceded them, his heart hopes that it is still stopped in Tallahassee, taking on much fuel and water after its long haul from Jacksonville.Midnight Freight-001

The good thing about railroad tracks is that they travel as very nearly as the crow flies, the shortest distance between two points; over, around and through natural and man-made obstacles. The stretch from Midway to Quincy is as rugged and secluded as there is on its 400 mile course. The  hills are shaved, the hollows filled by the hills and the Little River valley trestle, making their five mile trek to State Road 268 as easy as possible. Any other way would never do.

Plot-001After reaching the parallel iron rails, a left hand turn is made and the evenly spaced wooden ties are host to eight sojourners, careful to match their stride to each. There will be 13,000 creosote coated 6”x 8” timbers anchoring the rails on the path ahead.


 Alpha Omega M.D.

RR tracks

Episode #42


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #41

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #41

…Who are you talkin’ to n____r?” Pigface enters unexpectedly; rounds being made by a round man…

The fifth of October 1896 passes without notice of an extra pair of hands, save a near extra bale of fluffy white fiber. Production overshadows any reason why, especially since there is some form of insect cutting into the yield. Jefferson Smythwick will never acknowledge that he is pleased with his workers.

“You did good, Mister Haley,” compliments Willy, who checks up on one tired lad. “I’ll bring yo supper shortly.”

The Throne

“Grits and gravy again?”  He has to ask. “I would really just like a chunk of bread, if you can spare it. I lost a night’s sleep to the outhouse yesterday and we’ll be on the run soon. No time to stop!” Time only for action. “Now you make sure to have everyone ready. When the moon clears the stable roof, I will meet you at your shack.” Jacob Haley has a serious look. “Are you sure you can get us to the tracks in the dark?”

It is too late to wonder, but Willy answers, ”Yessir, did so last eve, most likely while you were on the throne.” He speaks of the one person shed which covers a hole in the ground with a crescent moon cutout on the door.

“Very funny Willy. Not everyone’s constitution is used to pure pork grease.”

Willy looks up to the loft and sneers. “That’s right, causin’ we can’t be a stoppin’ along the way.”

Who are you talkin’ to nigger?” Pigface enters unexpectedly; rounds being made by a round man.

Undercover-001

Willy Campbell freezes, trying to pretend he was stretching his back, arms reaching for the sky saying, “I was tellin’ the horses to be ready for an early day in the morn, don’t you know.”

         Darkies Talkin’ to the animals… you’re ‘bout ready for the ol’ nigger pile, the one your woman’s mamma should be on… addled and useless,” he rambles. “You ain’t been kicked in the head or worse makin’ your own shine, have you? You been actin’ a fool lately.”

“Oh no sir, no sir, no demon rum fo’ me,” he claims emptily.

“You best pray it ain’t your brain goin’. We ain’t feedin’ no wacked out darkies on Sumter.”

A hidden and listening Haley will make sure Pigface won’t have to bother needlessly overseeing a family that deserves better.

Episode-001


Alpha Omega M.D.

Outhouse

Episode #41


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #40

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #40

…Willy looks at the hands of the school teacher and concludes, “Get yo hands dirty for the morrow, least you’ll look like you worked a day in yo life…

Who is waiting for Willy at the gates of Fort Sumter South? It is the head overseer himself. Affectionately nicknamed, Pigface by his workers, this man is as ugly on the inside as he is on the outside. If his resemblance to a swine weren’t bad enough, he is a nitpicking all the day long.

His beef this day is tardiness. “Campbell Nigger! You were supposed to be back before sundown! I have a mind to throw you into the Hole!” The Hole is just that. Not a good thing.

“The horses needed water, Pig–uh, Master.” A name earned but never used near his presence.

“What about the pigs…? They ain’t got nothin’ to do with you bein’ a half hour late!” he grouses. “And I don’t see that barrel of molasses I asked you to get from the mill!”

Oops, there is an untimely oversight.

“I swear you ain’t worth the dirt you sleep on these days, heckfire, most of a month now.”

“I can go back for it, probably still on the dock, Master,” Campbell cowers. “I was thinkin’ you said meal, conemeal… got 2 sacks.” More correctly one sack meal and one sack of trembling bones.

“Put those poor horses away, before I kick your dumb ass from here to Quincy! Their day has been long enuff. Molasses, meal, how ignorant can one nigger be!” The pompous people pusher himself embodies ignorance, however unaware he is of his own condition.

It’s best if he gets to the stable and don’t spare the horses. All is nearly lost before it can get started. He has a special guest to care for.

“You best stay in the hay loft ‘til the mornin’. I’ll sneak you some supper later, when things settle down—you like grits and gravy?”

Jacob Haley, freedman, is no position to turn away Campbell hospitality, even though gravy and his bowels are not close friends, but then again, how can they be any looser than they already are.

“You gonna need yo strenth to pick you a bale of cotton.” Willy looks at the hands of the school teacher and concludes, “Get yo hands dirty for the morrow, least you’ll look like you worked a day in yo life.”

No insult intended, none taken.


Alpha Omega M.D.

The Overseer

Episode #40


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #39

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #39

…Willy Campbell has made yet another trip to the rail depot in Midway, this fourth day of October 1896…

Willy Campbell has made yet another trip to the rail depot in Midway, this fourth day of October 1896, one of many in a wagon that could use a rest. He hopes to accommodate that soon, but is perceptively nervous despite encouragement to the contrary. No matter how justified the venture, he has the raw feeling of betrayal in his gut; inexplicable loyalty to the only life he and his family have ever known.

“You slip under this here canvas, Master Haley.” Campbell takes the first step for future generations. “And you best not be movin’, seein’ we’ll both be workin’ in chains, should’st we be caught.”

“Don’t you worry now, Willy. We have been planning for this day for months,” he assures. “We’ve done this before and we will do it again, if we have to.”

“I don’t know what Master Love sees in a nigger family like mine.”

“Stop using that word!”

Willy thinks back to figure out just what he said was wrong.

“You are not a nig___.” He cannot say that guttural term, it repulses him so. “And there is no reason to call me, Herb Love, Master, or anyone for that matter.”

“Don’t mean nothin’ to me, but if it pleases you, yessir I won’t no more. Now hush and stay still.” Quite literally, the only “Love” he has ever tasted began with that peach of a man, Herbert, who treated him like he was a real human being, instead of a rented mule.

The dutiful team of horses turns back toward home, merely looking forward to their reward of oats or an apple maybe or fresh hay at the very least. Back at the stable, where the sun is setting, black and white horses eat together.

Where have humans gone wrong?


Alpha Omega M.D.

Campbell Home-001

Episode #39


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