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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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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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #38

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #38

Chapter Three

CHANGES

…Jacob Haley must take a dismaying trip into his ancestor’s past; regressing from educated free man to undercover freedman…

Undercover-001

  In subtropical climes, there are seasons of change, though these exchanges fade in and out, making it hard to distinguish one from the other. The autumnal equinox supplants the warm slothfulness of summer; the latter reluctant in coming, the former resistant in leaving.  DawnToDusk

The harvesting of crops decides the issue of transition. It is a call to action, plant maturation and ripening that warns the grower, ‘Use me or lose me’. Land activity increases three-fold, with so many different related things going on. Only the infirm of body are spared from the dawn to dusk work load.

At Fort Sumter South, infirmity is no excuse, much as it was for the Hebrews building the monuments to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Some die as reward for their efforts, then and now.

The rigor of reaping takes its toll on the overseer as well. In time and energy spent, supervisors sleep as deep as the workers. That is exactly what Jacob Haley and his unlikely group of liberators are counting on.

Rescue-001Anti-slavery-001The Gadsden County Anti-slavery Society has used the forty-some days since Willy Campbell decided to take the leap of faith, to consent to be liberated, to its best advantage. Freedom is scary for a cigar maker who has no idea of what to expect from his liberty. The freedom fighters fear anything but success.

seasons

seasons of change

All the pieces are in place, all except Jacob Haley, who must take a dismaying trip into his ancestor’s past; regressing from educated free man to undercover freedman, without the support of Congressional amendment. His clothing, duties and speech will not, in any way match the life he has lived up to now, save the blended color of his skin. He is about to penetrate a world (undercover) that would paralyze most people of any race, creed, or disfranchised lot.

Courage is a term that comes to mind, the very same that caused him to stay in the South, rather than migrate northward. Segregation exists in both worlds, but he will effect greater change here at its cruel source.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #38


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