Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #26
…Po’ Alfrey will be lucky if makes it to 20. Runts don’t last long in the field …
It is here at the train station, that Herbert Love, the Quincy businessman and newly elected mayor, meets and gets to know Willy and Alfrey, on their only common ground. He has told his wife, who has bore him no children, as well as many of his friends, that he would like to deliver Willy and his house to true freedom.
Today is step one to that end.
“Say Willy,” he signals in the direction of a flatbed car being unloaded of its tobacco leaves, “would you please come her a second?”
Willy Campbell obliges, thankful for a break from the oppressive August heat. He has a gregarious way about him, reminiscent of someone whose ignorance is bliss; not realizing how green the grass is on the other side of the fence.
Young Alfrey has found a Henslow’s Sparrow clinging to the next husks of sugar cane to be loaded on an adjacent car, one wing hanging limp, with the other flapping in futility. He stays behind to tend to the wounded sparrow.
“Your son sure is good with animals, Willy,” Love notes.
“Yessir, he sure does. Takes in ev’ry critter that don’t run away.” Then comes a caveat. “He ain’t worth a tinkers’ damn in the fields, fo’ sure. He’sa runt with his mamma’s heart.”
“There is nothing wrong with that, Willy. The world is expanding, population doubling every 10 years and people are doing things you would never have guessed.” This educated, late middle aged man of some worldliness, tries to transfer his optimism to a black man, aged well beyond his 30 years, who is learned at the school of hard knocks and significant if only to God.
“Po’ Alfrey will be lucky if makes it to 20. Runts don’t last long in the field.” That hopeless resignation is the norm for most blacks anywhere, even some poor unskilled whites here in the South. The native Indians in the panhandle do not even show up on this grim map, shunted into socially isolating reservations; the lucky of those with less than full blood, sprinkled with a little white, a little black, a little Spanish, a little indefinable and more easily absorbed into the general population.
“Well, to be honest, that is precisely why I am here. I want to give you the opportunity to get off Sumter–get away from that Smythwick for good!”
Alpha Omega M.D.