Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #78
…My son is in love with my adopted daughter, my daughter is in love with her brother, my invincible brother has been murdered by some cruel force in a far off harbor and I fear my husband has been lying to me for God knows how long… I do not wish to continue…
John Ferrell looks over his shoulder to see for himself and reads further. It describes the horrific events of two days earlier, equally taken aback……
……by the some 260 deaths reported. Reports of Maine survivors vary, but with an original crew of 325, one can rely on math and the missing list to fill in the blanks. Two of the four officers are dead and they know the Captain did not go down with his ship.
“Martha dear, we should not assume the worst,” encourages a comforting spouse, knowing Maynard is almost always topside.
So much for a perfect world, as it relates to John Ferrell. The last remaining thread in his wife’s hem seam seems to have unraveled. Brother Maynard has exited her reality, leaving no North American Gaskel left to commiserate with. So fragile is her current state of mind that the very prospect of Maynard’s demise searches out the darkest most recesses of a heretofore dormant state of consciousness.
“My son is in love with my adopted daughter,” she states without hesitation. “My daughter is in love with her brother.” There is a good measure of regret in her voice. “My invincible brother has been murdered by some cruel force in a far off harbor.” Tears are streaming from her heart. “And I fear my husband has been lying to me for God knows how long… I do not wish to continue. Please take me home, my Lord and my God, to the peace and quiet of heaven.” Martha Gaskell Ferrell retires to the foyer settee, to take rest from all the dizzying concerns.
John plays second base for the amateur baseball team in Tallahassee, the Panhandlers. Back in 1890, they played the Cincinnati Red Stockings, a professional team from the National League of baseball, in a spring exhibition game. The unpolished laymen played a spirited game, but still came out on the low end of a 15 to 7 score.–
–It now appears his wife has taken up the sport, at such a late age. Her undoing has come from deep left field.
Just like the coward that lurks in the soul of every man, John Ferrell of the unsavory list Martha had spewed, acts as if he does not hear a thing. “Let me get you a moist towel for your forehead, dearest.” He had been witness to a similar sudden brush with reality when his adopted daughter recognized Willy Campbell, a horrifying piece of her sorted past, in November of last year. Shock surely triggers a process that exhumes buried or repressed memory. In Abbey’s case, her perception, no matter how skewed, is her reality. Martha, on the other hand, could not be more correct.
“I am going back to town and try to contact the Navy. James will be home from school soon. Let me take you upstairs. You should rest a while.” His only chance to save face is to divert her attention, refocusing on matters concerning brother Maynard.
The late afternoon trip back to Tallahassee will not be necessary. There is a report from the heavy brass knocker on the front door. John responds to the unknown beckoning, to find a Western Union agent with a message labeled for Martha, sent by the Department of the Navy. He signs for the cable in her stead, fumbling through his pockets for a proper gratuity for the likely grim messenger.
Martha views the note without outward expression. Her manner is cold and calculating, withdrawing to catatonic solitude.