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


page 38

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #30

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #30

… Princess  Olla holds up the Paris creation against her body, not about to let on that she herself has spent time wearing it…

Cotillion dress

That same Friday night, in the less contentious environs of Tallahassee, society’s’ finest prepare for tomorrow and the anticipated Summer Cotillion. It unofficially marks the average annual easing of the “lazy days”, as the sun mercifully starts to drop from its zenith overhead. Shadows begin to lengthen and the dogs come out from under their back porches.

Martha Ferrell prepares for the event by unpacking her favorite gown, first checking for damage from last year’s gala, i.e. footprints on the hem from ballroom challenged partners, or traces of champagne and hors d’oeuvre or third most likely culprit, moth-eaten holes. Lastly, and most important of all, the issue of whether her almost five gallons fits into this three gallon (satin) container.

“What do you think, Agnes?” She does an awkward pirouette in the dress, tailored for her six years ago; a present honoring her fortieth year.

“Maybe we could let out the sleeves some. It looks tight above the elbows.”

“Yes I think you are right.” She confirms the mirror’s reflecting truth, without vain regret.

Agnes is wearing a gown that her mother wore the year before she was born. She has matured at an scary rate, nearly… no definitely surpassing mom’s womanhood; filling in the spaces and providing the kind of cleavage that may well cause the hormone levels of men aged twelve to infinity to rise measurably.

“My, haven’t you blossomed, my dear. Girls are developing faster every year, it seems,” Martha concludes correctly.

Two generations of “real” women are joined by an admirer of both.

“Why Nessie, I remember your mamma when she wore that dress, her first Cotillion I reckon. So beautiful and so graceful,” He muses, then reconsidering, “But you better wait some years before you become a mother. If you weren’t my daughter, I would guess you for a twenty year old college girl.  You are saving yourself, aren’t you?”

“Oh, Daddy,” Agnes (Nessie) blushes, which rhyme with messy, a nickname, as well as her bedroom comportment, “of course I am. You don’t allow me to have suitors!”

Cotillion dress“All right, point well stated.” She is behind many of her peers and he knows it. “It’s just that you look so grown up.” John turns his attention to his wife. “And as for you my dearest, forget about altering your dress.” He peeks around the corner, into the hall to motion to Olla. “I think this one will assure of being belle of the ball.”

  Olla displays the Paris creation, this time merely holding it up against her body, not about to let it be known that it was her own very skin which spent time as Martha’s surrogate mannequin.

The new owner rushes to it, stroking the rose colored satin, admiring the Parisian lace and trying not to shed tears of joy.

The incredible irony of the moment is lost on the ignorant.

  • “Oh mother, you must try it on straight away,” encourages Agnes.
  •  Before she obliges, Martha turns to say, “John Ferrell, life with you is one big surprise.”
  •  John Ferrell is telling himself, ‘Wheeewww, I’m sure glad she will never know the truth’.
  •  Princess Olla/Laura Bell mutters, “Surprises ain’t always good ones, Miss Martha,” under her breath.

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #30


page 29

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #27

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #27

…Ol pigface can smell trouble a mile ‘way–and we can smell him too…

“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!” Herbert Love means business.

Campbell instinctively looks around, to see who might be listening in. He hears stories of the Underground Railroad, but that was long ago and there were dozens of stories circulating about horrible endings to miserable ordeals. At least he can now claim food, clothing and a waterproof roof for his family; the three keys to happiness in his mind.

“I hope you are seriously considering what I am saying.” He senses the all too familiar, deep-rooted fear of a downtrodden human being. There is a group of men in Gadsden County who are determined to take the legs out from under what’s left of slavery. The loss of you and your family should expose Jefferson Smythwick’s underbelly and show him for the enemy of decency that he is.”

“I’za know what ya sayin’, but terrible harm may come on us.” Willy rubs his temples that are throbbing with doubt. “And there’s ‘Manda’s mamma. Shoot, ol’ woman’s better days be behind ‘er… she’s been sickly, ya know, coughin’ and weezin’.”

“I think we have come up with a plan that will ensure the safety for all of your family. The men are all meeting tonight to put the finishing touches on the plan. But I have to tell you that we have an alternate scheme, involving another family, should you decide to stay put.

“So please talk this over with your wife and mother-in-law, think it all through. I will be here at the station this same time, every day for seven days. If you do not come back, that will be our answer.”

Just then, the boy and the bird enter. “Daddy, look at what I did fo’ the sparrow,” Alfery interrupts proudly. “I bandaged both wings together so he can’t hurt hisself any mo’.”

“Looks like doctor material to me, Willy, how about you?”

“When is yo’ plan fo’, Master Love?”

“We are looking at early October… the start of fall harvest.”

“I’ll bea seein’ you in a couple a days, maybe three. I don’t wants to makes them ‘spicious ‘bout anythin’.Ol pigface can smell trouble a mile ‘way–and we can smell him too!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #27


page 26

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #26

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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. SlaveryHe 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.

Henslow’s Sparrow

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.

Episode #26


page 25

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #20

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #20

…When two human beings hit it off, female/male in this case, the chemistry can be notable and not easily mistaken…

“You are burning daylight. Lake Killarney ain’t around the corner, Martha, closer to Georgia

Panhandle Dawn

than Tallahassee.” There is genuine concern in John Ferrell’s voice. He loves his family, though the time he spends working helps makes up for a general shortfall of attention given to him.

Perhaps the stabilizing factor in their relational equation is the former Martha Gaskell, eight years his senior. She had already graduated from Vassar College, the all-girl school in Poughkeepsie, when she met an 18 year old Scottish freshman from Columbia University. She is in the big city researching topics at its arts library. Young John has a part-time job as a research assistant. Martha thinks John does a wonderful job. She visits with him frequently, not coincidentally, whenever their paths cross in a library that covers a New York City block.

When two human beings hit it off, female/male in this case, the chemistry can be notable and not easily mistaken. It must be the random nature of the phenomenon, circumstances apart from the machinations of mankind. Sometimes we are much better off leaving it in the hands of the Master. It is heavenly great, and what’s more, a part of a real plan; as plotted by God, who knew us even before we were born.

The attraction is deeply mutual, to the point that Martha is taken home to Florida for a visit. During Christmas break of 1879, she meets his family, who own a small general store in Tallahassee, saving every penny to give their son a chance at a better life, the American dream.

We now find Martha and John embracing, at Christmas in July, 1896, unaccustomed to being apart. They rarely spend a day apart; their four post brass bed with two permanent impressions in its feather mattress.

John Ferrell waves heartily at the cloud of dust speeding away at the machine-driven pace of twelve miles per hour.

Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire (1897)


 Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #20


page 19

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #18

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #18

…Money buys influence and sometimes it prevents liberty…

Guilt-001

Samuel Goldblatt’s resolute agenda is twisted, compared to the governor’s debatable influence.

“When I told the rest that the F.B.I is involved, in the matter of former doctor A.O. Campbell’s release–they are, except it is in a more ‘round about way. They may not object to his release per se, but I know they are greatly disturbed about how many abortions are being illegally performed in this state, which is under your direction, I might add.”

The Visiting Quack Doctor null British School 18th century 1700-1799 Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T10122

The Visiting Quack Doctor

“We prosecute more doctors than some,” Hopkins brags mildly.

“No, Governor Hopkins, I believe you indict more quack butchers than you do medical doctors. The Bureau has provided me with some intriguing numbers… accompanied by some interesting names.”

“Is Dr. Sapp on the list?”

   “Yes, indeed, I believe you see my, our point. Most every country doctor does abortions, especially for girls with greenbacks in their lily white hands. I suspect those doctors remember the days when the Dixie dollar dried up. They can’t resist an easy buck, like those from families desperate to save the reputation of their dear sweet daughter.

          “Doc Campbell may have cleaned up after Dr. Sapp, but he was caught in counterfeit circumstances, just like folks who were holding Confederate paper,” he deduces.

“That is a lose interpretation of the law,” insists Hopkins, who should be the expert in this twosome.

“It wasn’t loose when you were States Attorney, now was it?” counters the antagonist.

Yes-buts are not relevant in the here and now. He offers no retort.

“I’ll tell you what, W.D. … may I call you that can I not?” He is sarcastic. “Our hotel will be completed in less than a year. That would be a right fine time for ol’ Doc Campbell to be freed.”

A $1000 bill is stuffed into the breast pocket of his Italian-made suit. That is where Wilbert Hopkins had seen the name of Samuel Goldblatt III before; on the contribution rolls of his gubernatorial campaign.

   Money buys influence. Sometimes it prevents liberty.

Hopkins allows the money to stay in his pocket, but its filthy aura will benefit some charity, not him. He is ashamed to return to the parole meeting and the mostly negative reaction that awaits him there.

Wilbert Dexter Hopkins saves his own skin, at the expense of his conscience.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #18


page 17 (end Ch. 1)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #14

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #14

…There is no moment so defining/sad as the body lowering into the ground…

“Married?” There is a slight trembling in his voice, reflecting a tinge of unwarranted possessiveness.

“Yeah, an Italian policeman, Amelio is his last name. Nice guy treats her real good too.”

  No Maggie and now no Camille, not that he ever laid claim to the latter, a comely woman of Puerto Rican decent. She was a house cleaner when a much younger A.O. Campbell found his way into her third floor bedroom, with floor length red fringe doorways. The passion they shared was love, but quite different from the comfortable version he has in Tallahassee, with Maggie owning land and buildings and fancy stuff; comfortable indeed.

Still and all, a life with Camille was always lurking in the forbidden shadows of his life. But the shadows are now gone, thick clouds masking the suns of his life.

With respects paid and proper, the funeral of Maggie Lou Campbell has a grim black hearse to the front of the procession, curtained side windows concealing the wood box, which will occupy the freshly dug hole in the Oakland Cemetery. It is a scenic graveyard, for whatever that is worth, but the Campbell 16×16 plot is Spartan, off by itself in a new section, flat and undistinguished. Compared to the grand statues, stones, monuments and vaults of some local families, this newest of holes is among tall grass, not easily to be found in the future, when people will come to pay their respects.

The four score mourners form a crescent ring around the grave, Pastor Johnson and theFuneral-001 prolific arrangements of cut flowers thereabout. There is no moment so defining/sad as the body lowering into the ground. To some, those who choose not to believe in everlasting life, it is like a door that is permanently closed, never to be opened again.  While pagans here are few, the rest feel that when the fresh dug dirt hits the mahogany lid, it is a temporary goodbye.

Yet that very finality weighs heavy on the grieving hearts, eyes burning, immersed in salted tears.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #14


page 14