Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #49

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #49

… The Ferrell Grocery truck has made a very special delivery…

Delivery Truck-001

Before that scenario can be played out, there is some unfinished business, where State Road 268 runs into the city of Quincy. A bright autumn sun emerged from the east, there to find the entire Gadsden County Anti-Slavery Society gathered in the town square, rejoicing in their success. 5 October will be red letter day for years and

years to come. It is somewhat of a strange celebration to the eye of an outsider, like hearing a joke’s punch without benefit of the set-up. Nonetheless, the payoff seems to be a fine one.

Oct 5 red letter-001

The Ferrell Grocery truck has made a very special delivery. In the cab of the paneled truck are driver John and passenger Jacob Haley, he of narrowly harrowing fame. Standing proudly on the rounded rickety fenders are the Flying Bleaker Brothers, never content with grounded positions and waving like conquering heroes of some Slovakian revolution. Peaking out the canvas back are the three Negro children who should be dead—tired that is, everyone in the strong arms of the blacksmith and thrilled at getting a first ride in motored vehicle. Martha Ferrell is in the back as well, tending to a weak Grandma Lettie Golden and fervently praying with Willy and Amanda for a promising future.

No one is more excited than Herbert and Phoebe Love.

“Good Lord Almighty, by your mercies and your power you have brought us success! Herb screams skyward. He rarely screams.

Jacob Haley opens his door and leaps into a Love embrace. “We did it, Herb, we did it!” he cries.

“Yes Jacob, but we heard you had some trouble at Little River?”

River gorge

The school teacher is puzzled. “How do you know this? Nobody has said one word of our predicament.”

The engineer of the midnight freight stopped at our station to report possible pedestrian contact on the trestle. We were sore afraid you all had been killed.”

Locomotive3

“He was going so fast I am surprised he noticed us and he certainly did not stop to find out if he had hit anything,” the nearest thing to a victim, laments.

“He apologized, explaining that he would never have made the Thunder Hill grade if he stops.” Love chuckles. “Hey, at least we did inspect the cowcatcher for fabric and blood. Finding neither, we sent the train on its way.”

“You should have checked the bottom of the train for sweat. I just thank my lucky stars they weren’t a chain or something hanging down.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Escape2

Episode #49


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

…Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, but he cannot see a thing face down between the rails…

Alive-001

Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, signs of the slave revolution he had himself worked endlessly to create. But he cannot see a thing face down between the rails, thanking his glorious God for divine deliverance from decapitating disaster.Locomotive      

“He lives! Sweet Mary, Mother of God. Jacob is alive!” the Bleakers cannot contain their cartwheeling joy.

Cheers and tears erupt together. Adversity makes for strong glue.

“What’s all the commotion?” asks the blacksmith, who has been toting Grandma Lettie for three miles now, unaware of the theatrical crossing of the Little River. “Did you beat the train?” What a loaded question that is. Almost, he is told.

Hugging and such stops with one more reason to rejoice,  Lettie Golden has made the crossing, alive no less. ‘But what of Jacques Francoise?’ they ask the smithy.

He heard the hounds out of Sumter and he is leading them a merry chase. Right now I believe he is headed downstream, maybe wetting a line for some trout he calls, “Big Bertha”.

Fort Sumter3-001“Oh and the refreshment lady at mile 3 probably made it to the house up the tracks before the dogs came out, says she’ll get the juicy story at the next meeting.”

A recovering Jacob Haley assesses their status while he listens out of the other ear. It is another mile and a half to State Road 268 and does not want a lucky guess by Jefferson Smythwick interfering with this covert coup. Freedom seems assured. Secrecy must follow.

“Poor Mrs. Ferrell is waiting at mile five, wondering in God’s name what happening. For all she knows, we aren’t going to show, seeing we are nearly an hour behind schedule. She is eager and the doubt will eat her alive.”

Bleaker Brothers-001“We will run ahead and give her the good news!” offer the ever energetic Bleakers, never more than a heartbeat apart.

“She will be thrilled with our triumphs!” Jacob guesses, forgetting that she had recruited husband John. His freight truck will transport the group and their family home will shelter the Campbell family until things settle down in Gadsden County.

“We’d better get going folks. An eastbound freight train is due near dawn and we need to finish up before light.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #47


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #46

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #46

…The Campbells is free! The Campbells is free!’ are the cries for joy…

Escape2

“Are you sure the cabin is empty?!” demands Pigface of his night watchman, whose tending of his duties has lapsed this evening into morning. “They’re on the lamb with three brats and a useless old woman. They can’t be far! Get the dogs, you damn fool, whilst the trail is still warm!” 

The baying of a trio of converted coonhounds brings sleep to a raucous halt for the rest of these renaissance cavemen of the 19th century. The lamps in the overseers’ quarters, as well as the mansion are lit room by room. Looking out the window of his bedroom, Jefferson Smythwick sees a line of torches heading northwest across his recently harvested fields. When word of the Campbell flight reaches him, he orders every available man to the search.

The news spreads like wildfire from farm to farm on the plantation. ‘The Campbells is free! The Campbells is free!’ are the cries for joy, resounding and inciting. Those workers who remain take up the torch as well; not to aid in the capture of the Campbells, rather to band together in revolt. Within the hour of 2 A.M., the light generated by scores of burning buildings illuminates the Midway landscape better than the coming clouded sunrise could hope to.

Dynamite-001

There are sporadic rifle shots amidst the chaos, but they are drowned out by the explosions coming from the dynamite shed. The explosive used in stump removal craters straight down to the bedrock.

It feels like a Florida quake after all, epicenter, just outside of Midway. Fort Sumter South shakes to the depth of its old Southern ways, the sound of freedom echoes far and wide. From the slave traders on the Gold Coast in West Africa to the slave markets in Atlanta, Georgia.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Slave Trade

Episode #46


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #45

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #45

…Real time seems to slow down for Jacob, as he falls beneath the wheels of the clamoring iron beast….

The locomotive continues to close_________

Limping and frightened, Hosea makes it to solid ground, reaching his parents who are shouting words of utmost urgency. Agnes and Francis are back in Fabulous Bleaker hands, not having opened their eyes for fear of what they would see if they did. In an effort to clear the way for the onrushing Alfrey and Jacob, they leap over each side of the trestle, plenty of air remaining below, using slight of hand to pass a rope (no high wire performer leaves home without one), to each other. They swing forth and back with the greatest of ease, all the while coaching Jacob about the closing steam engine, ‘50 feet, 40 feet, 30 feet, hurry!’, so he does not look back.

Jacob Haley All-American

Idealism has gotten him into this pickle, but as a member of the first All-American football team, it is the skills of that new combination sport that will sustain him and Alfrey to the goal line. He has tucked Alfrey under his right arm like a twenty pound sack of sugar and sprints to survive.

But he and his singular talent is no match for the would-be tackler. He can see his teammates in the end zone, but the tackle will be made first, leaving him time for a forward lateral only. The toss is accurate; sending Alfrey tumbling onto the grassy slope, head over heals.

  Real time seems to slow down, Jacob visually capturing the moment in fine detail, as he falls beneath the wheels of the clamoring iron beast.

The sound is deafening, yet this appalling sight consumes any noise. Pulse rates are soaring still, leftover anatomical byproducts of a two minute travail. Stunned shock grips those who remain, as they watch the red light blinking on the caboose, the last of the ten cars passing without knowing what it is passing or what it has run down.

The Flying Bleaker Brothers regain the trestle, arm weary from their weighted suspension. They need go 20 feet to reach the site of Jacob Haley’s heroic end, not knowing what they will find. Clouds have overtaken the only source of light, making the dark even darker. Some of the innocent eyes are mercifully closed.


  Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #45


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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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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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