Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #201

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #201

Chapter Eleven

BALANCE OF POWER

…Can’t we say that John Ferrell wasn’t of sound mind when he did this…

“You’re the lawyer in the family James! Can he do something like this?” Martha Ferrell Ferrell will-001has gotten over the shock of her husband’s untimely demise, turning her attention instead to his last will and testament. For her, it is a mystery novel, a work of fiction fraught with plot twists and turns, and a bitterly cruel ending.

“He did,” her son says flatly.

  “Can’t we say that he wasn’t of sound mind when he did this? Look at the crazy thing he did, going to Scotland in the middle of the goddamned war!” There is a lot of that G-D thing going around.

“Mother…  taking the Lord’s name in vain will not change anything. When she turns 21, Maggie Lou “Ferrell”, he clears his throat, “will officially own over 100 acres of Tallahassee.”

“People are calling him a hero, Mother. Cousin Matthew tells us they are thinking about naming a new huge rail-bridge after him.” Agnes is proud of her father, void of the tangible acridity.

“James Barrie can rot in a bog for all I care. He is the one who whined his way into making John feel guilty. ‘Our people are starving’, ‘we have no petrol for our motorcars’. Huh! I for one am glad he could not make the funeral… some silly play about a handmaid called Cinderella.”

Image result for a kiss for cinderella gif“When the war is over, he is going to bring A Kiss for Cinderella to the United States. I told him that I would find a theater for him. He even said I could be an “understudy”, he called it. If Cinderella falls ill, I could be the lead actress.”

“How silly would that be? You could make two of her I’m sure, but yes if Cinderella is single, you would be perfect for the part, 34 and without a man.” Martha’s dour mood turns vicious.

“Cyril (Odz) has been talking about the future quite a lot lately, I’ll have you know. Then you will be all alone, does that make you happy?”

“That is enough bickering!” A lawyer hears his fill of petty wrangling on a daily basis. “Maggie legally owns the land and that is the bottom line, though I wonder how he was able to keep the property a secret for all these years.”

“He was very good at secrets, wasn’t he? A black girl owning half of town,” She cannot let it go.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #201


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Alpha Omega M. D. – Episode #200

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #200

… I think the captain of the U-boat has had attack of conscience,” counters a repulsed Judith. She does not understand war, not even after a nine month dose…

U-Boat by fluidgeometry – Deviant Art

As the Pearson-Eastman Journal launch rounds peninsula Fife, passing the mouth of the Firth of Forth, they spot a terrifying sight, a crippled ship listing heavily to the starboard, with few prospects of staying afloat. Being faster than Ferrell’s ship, they double back to warn them. No more than a minute passes before they can blow a horn of warning, to cause the large boat to turn for the safety of the firth.

A pair of bubbling streaks follows them into the outlet of the River Tay, one striking the stern, the other close behind, destroying the screws and igniting a fresh load of fuel. The resulting chain reaction explosion snaps the defenseless ship into two distinct sections, like a lengthwise banana. Each piece turns over, nosing under the surf in a blink of an eye.

Risking their own safety, the launch plows through a maze of bobbing crates and floatables, searching for survivors in the horrific chaos. But unlike the Titanic or Lusitania, this is a cargo vessel; humans are few, all except one, the crew. The way it goes down, swallowed nearly whole by a cold sea not 13 leagues from Dundee, does not bode well for the thirty, not having had a chance to don life jackets.

“Over there!” Judith points to a man clinging to a plank. They pray that it is John Ferrell, but as they slow to snatch him out of 40 degree chop, he turns out to be the first mate.

“Have you seen anyone else?” is the repeated question, each gaining a negative signal.

Fifty yards away, in the direction of the submerged missiles, huge air bubbles rise and the sea swells. The letters U-36 break the surface, followed by a 215 foot fuselage. The Pearson people freeze, not knowing what to expect. Of the five uniformed German sailors, none is manning the deck mounted machine gun and their hands are occupied by binoculars, not the issued Lugar side arms. One of them calls out in their language, guttural sympathy rather than confrontation.

The launch commander is skeptical. “They must be out of bullets.”

“No, I think the captain has had attack of conscience,” counters a repulsed Judith. She does not understand war, not even after a nine month dose.

“Let’s get out of here, before they change their mind,” urges the commander. “They won’t leave until they fish something of value out of the water.”war-001

“We’ve got to go back to Perth, Barrie shouldn’t find out by reading a newspaper.” Harv tries to do the right thing, contrary to self-preservation. He apologizes to his people, for having exposed them to the ugliest side of humanity. “Filthy goddamned war!”

He never takes God’s name in vain. Almost never.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Firth of Forth in Scotland by Jose Luis Cezon Garcia

Episode #200


page 187 (end ch. 10)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #199

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #199

…The day I penned a letter to my dearest John Ferrell, it was the first time I had experienced the helplessness of the war,..

“I am so inspired by John’s kindness that I myself feel twinges of guilt. I see the suffering, yet continue on with my flights of fancy.”

Escapism Artist Unknown

Escapism artist Unknown

“You cannot think that, Sir James… oh yes, Matthew. If not for you and others, who write of things no one else dare have will to ponder, society would go mad with reality. Time in the theaters is one of their few escapes. If one does not let the child in us out, it dies, leaving a hardened heart.”

“So well put, Judith, I would guess that it is you who writes the words.”

“And I take the pretty good pictures,” Harv jokingly injects.

“Please forgive me, Mister Pearson, my intentions are innocent. I suppose I react too favorably to having my pride stroked by careful hands, but I feel comforted, personal vindication, you see. The day I penned a letter to my dearest John Ferrell, it was the first time I had experienced the helplessness of the war, where position and influence are thrown out the window like yesterday’s table scraps, to be fought over like the starving dogs.”

J.M. Barrie relates a tale his wife likes to tell, “My Matthew had been smitten with disease of the lungs and there were no doctors who had medicine to treat him. Then, while traveling to London, as I do regularly, I was accosted by a gang of hopeless human beings, lusting after whatever they might relieve me of.” He grabs a straight wooden stick, with a persimmon block at the bottom from beside his chair. “It was my brassie that saved me from dreadful harm!”

He tells the story often, so frequently that his wife has her line well rehearsed, “And that is the only good use for those miserable clubs that I can see.”

As in the days preceding the assault on Verdun, no one can count on prolonged periods of peace. John Ferrell receives word that his ship is leaving a day early, with worries about increased submarine activity, even to the coast of Scotland. “Damned scavengers!” They bring a premature end to the time of his life, a month of riches he will carry forth to eternity.

  “Do not let them spoil these days, John Ferrell. Hold them fast, like the smell of heather in the Highlands; until we meet in a more peaceful place.” Long soulful hugs and hopes for tomorrow.

“We will be going, as well,” Harv decides. Their launch awaits a trip to Brest, plus there is strength in numbers. They will negotiate North Sea waters and head to the cargo ship, which is loaded with whatever export goods the Scots can muster.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Haar on the Forth by Alan Reed

Episode #199


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #198

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #198

…Please tell me what it was like to be knighted by the Queen.” John tries his best to get his cousin to be the least immodest, bringing up a subject of great pride to a loyal subject…

Knighted

Knighted by Eva Hollyer

John Ferrell interrupts the polarized opinion exchange about golf, “I have heard of the sport, in fact we have a club in Tallahassee, on the university grounds.”

“Splendid! I will show you how to play when we take you up on your kind invitation to visit. It sounds like you have the perfect climate.” He grips his mashie niblick.

“Don’t be aswingin’ those things in the house James, remember the chandelier?” Mrs. Barrie warns.

“One of my best passes, it was.”

“Me thinks you should be in France, shurein the Germans would flee to home at the sight of you and that stick.”

Please tell me what it was like to be knighted by the Queen.” John tries his best to get his cousin to be the least immodest, bringing up a subject of great pride to a loyal subject, when a carriage comes barreling up the winding trail leading to the Barrie country home. “That will be Harv Pearson and his bride, the publishers of that magazine I brought you.”

“Good work… with stories that match the finest photographs I have ever seen,” high praise from an accomplished judge of word and people.

     “That is Sir James Barrie,” Judith nudges her husband, who may not know, “saw his first production in London, now he is one of the most prolific playwrights – ever.”

“Welcome to bonnie ol’ Scotland set a spell and let’s talk about the generosity of America!”

Judith, who almost never drinks alcohol, accepts a spot from the host. She is smart enough to sip, yet unable to prevent the inevitable shiver, as it burns a path down her esophagus.

“Thank you, Mister Barrie. My wife has been following your career from the beginning, as she will surely tell you later.” Harv speaks, Judith is recovering. “And it is good to see you, John. We were surprised at your cable, quite an undertaking in these troubling times.” He does not recall extreme bravery as one of this man’s character.

“Matthew, that’s what his friends call him, told us of the terrible suffering in the Isles and I was moved to gather the excess bounty that God has blessed us with and share them.”

Neither does Harv remember him as an excessively Godly man.

 “I am so inspired by John’s kindness that I myself feel twinges of guilt. I see the suffering, yet continue on with my flights of fancy.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #198


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #197

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #197

…Each sip of whiskey makes it easier to repress the bad memories, not forget them…

J.M. Barrie

J.M. Barrie by James Quinn

There is a rejoicing noise coming from out the Central Lowlands, not yet audible to the men and women of the P-E J, just loud enough to echo through the Tay River valley, all the way to Dundee. Sir James Barrie, of literary fame, shares gallons of tales and scotch whiskey with John Ferrell, who has become a local hero; the man who has loosed a wealth of necessities on people who may well have remained distant memories. Now John is having regrets having to leave this festive gathering, away from the new world he created.

“I so wish that it hadn’t been a war to bring us together. We could have brought Martha’s Gaskells from merry ol’ England and had a reunion that would put the Queen to shame. Can you imagine the Scots and the Gaskells here in Perth? Come to think of it, we are all apt to be related… in a cousin sort of way.”

“In the American South, relation is a way of life,” admits John, speaking as if it is a foreign practice, without revealing the exact extent of his contribution to an even more sensitive subject. Each sip of whiskey makes it easier to repress the bad memories, not forget them. “Martha would have loved a holiday in Scotland, we rarely get out of Florida, don’t know why.” He silently rues the day he sacrificed a normal life for the lust of his flesh.

James Ferrell Lawyer

“So your James is a barrister? I am proud that he bears my name, me a lowly bard from the Lowlands. I myself never could get past the fantasy world, one which I have complete control. Fiction can far surpass reality.”

“My husband is not a borin’ you with his fancies, is he?” Madame Barrie brings them a tray of smoked kippers to snack on. “I am surprised he has not talked the bunch of us into rehearsing his new play… what is it again?”    

A Kiss for Cinderella, just a modest production in London, but I’d rather be playing golf than staging theater.”

“Oh, that silly game: A waste of good grazing land, if you ask me!”

“We did not!” ask you.

“Pasture billiards!”

“It is a gentleman’s pastime.”

“It is a poor excuse to catch a death of a cold.”


        Alpha Omega M.D.

“Golfers” by Charles Lees

Episode #197


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #196

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #196

…Well, I’ll be. John Ferrell is a Scot – He must have chartered a ship with goods for his people. Now that takes guts!…

“Cargo Ship” by Lia Aminov

There is a message for you,” finally an American uniformed voice, with a Texas twist, “a John Ferrell looking for the magazine people. You guys are well known in these parts, with a German hit squad on your trail and all.”

“Sure, they don’t want the U.S. in the war, cowards that they are. If you don’t want to wake up the watchdog, don’t pull on his tail.” Judith’s tail was tugged the first time she saw a soldier die in person.

“Let me see that.” Harv wonders what has prompted the merchant of Tallahassee to make such a convoluted effort at communication; The Merchant of Venice would be more likely.

The yellow paper reads: looking for pearson-eastman  stop  arrived scotland 10 feb stop relief supplies to perth   stop  would like to meet you there   stop   leaving for home 10 march  stop  will check dundee for reply   stop   john ferrell  stop

Well, I’ll be. John Ferrell is a Scot… isn’t he, sure? He must have chartered a ship with goods for his people. Now that takes guts! Never would have guessed.”

“What a way to top off our story: ‘Private American-Scot shares his bounties with war-torn countrymen’.”

“Good title,” Harv affirms. “I have had enough of bombing to last me the rest of my days. Time for a heartwarming story, Lieutenant, please wire this message to Dundee, Scotland,” he hands a short note to the communications advisor, “and if you could ring Bologna. We have a launch ready to cross the channel.”

   “Got some mean “fish” in those waters, sir, but I guess they won’t waste a torpedo on a launch. Good luck.”

Unfortunately, the North Sea turns nasty once they make it to England, freeing up a few days to experience a few nights of German air raids on London. “How do people get sleep around here? Work the mills by day, then you are rewarded with a 2 ton serenade by night… in a bomb shelter at that.” Judith has had it with war; the sights, the smells, the sounds.

“The winds are dying down to the north; the launch owner believes we can slip up the coast in the morning. Two days with Ferrell in Scotland and we are back on the Oscar, steaming for New York.”

“That sounds wonderful! I miss Rochester, I miss the office, I miss George, I miss our bed, I miss food meant for humans.”

“If you don’t get packed, we’ll miss our b-b-boat-t-t.” A b-b-bomb explodes above them, the latest near miss in a long line of disconcerting disturbances. You may never see seven people move so fast as this again.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #196


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #195

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #195

…”When the shelling stops, I will provide you an escort to Paris,” orders General Henri Philippe Petain. “It appears the Germans are determined to take this position and we’re not in the mood to give it up…

“The Madhouse” by Louis Raemaekers

War slows down in the winter. Much of the energy necessary to carry on armed conflicts is wasted on trying to keep warm and in a war where progress is measured in yards, things do not move fast, even in warmer weather. Shells misfire, feet and hands freeze, the general will to fight disappears with the sinking angle of the sun. It makes you wonder why Russia is ever contested over.

But answers to these and many other questions are more easily obtained; just ask the shivering staff of the Pearson-Eastman Journal. Access to officers and conscripted alike accelerates with the thickening of engine oil and the congealing of diesel fuel. More stories are exchanged between comrades than gunfire with the enemy. There are general objectives to be achieved, but Mother Nature calls most of the shots.

Sometimes the cold causes brain cramps. Emboldened by the lack of fighting, fighting the urge to trade the field for a crackling hearth in Rochester USA, Harv and Judith take their crew to the city of Verdun France, an ancient fortress town, one of the country’s oldest. It turns into a sightseeing tour. In the area called the “Heights”, there are buildings that date back to when North America was just a gleam in a Viking’s eye. For all its obvious history, it continues to be what it was designed to be, a topographical stronghold, not easily breached by land.

Verdun German Artillery

In the days of the Roman Empire, when it was known as Virodunum, it represented stability, a constant in time of conquering, so no matter what country controlled the countryside, the Heights remain unchanged. Treaties are signed here, Europe parceled and re-parceled and still armies are forced to stay away.

Germany managed to do the impossible in the 10th century, the border with France drifting back and forth with the winds of time, and have once again targeted Verdun as the gateway to Paris.

On 21 February 1916, after a week of lens reflex and reticence, Pearson and Eastman-Pearson are shocked out of their beds before dawn. They had been staying in the rectory of the Notre Dame Cathedral, residence to the current Roman Catholic bishop, feeling quite at home.

  For the next 24 hours, there is not a minute that does not contain the whistle of 40 mm artillery shells and the crater creating explosions. Ground troops, led by one of the junior Wilhelms, are 8 miles to the rear, pushing hard against a French Army wall 20 miles long. But there is no stopping the formidable ammunition from arching onto the unattainable Heights at Fort Douaumont.

When the shelling stops, I will provide you an escort to Paris,” orders General Henri Philippe Petain. “It appears the Germans are determined to take this position and we’re not in the mood to give it up.

His message is clear, if understanding his thick French accent isn’t.

“We need to contact Bologna, General. We would like get to England before we head back to the States. Could you help us?” asks Harv hopefully.

“Oui, at our Paris headquarters, you may speak to anyone in the world. And while you are at it, tell your Woodrow Wilson that we could use his help, tout suite.”

“If he has been reading our magazine, he is already contemplating it. If he doesn’t, I am sure our readers may have something to say about it. The pictures of war can be a powerful thing. The very thought of a Europe under German control is unthinkable.”

“I hope you are right, Mon Amie!”

“Arrevoire, General and hold that line,” he points to the east.

“They shall not pass!” Petaine states with a leader’s conviction.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Verdun Trenches by Howard Gerrard

Episode #195


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