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 #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


page 184

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


page 183

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #194

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #194

…Agnes Ferrell is still somewhat of a prize, but should the classically endowed “Gibson Girls” go out of favor, 25 pounds will need to be shed…

“The Gibson Girl” by Kasai on Deviantart

“We will discuss your father’s crazy idea after dinner, when the guests leave.”

“I get the hint, Mother. Feel free to torture me.”

“Oh, by the way, we invited Frankie, from…”

“The Dry Goods Manager, from store #3? You really must think I am desperate!”

“Your Father invited him to Thanksgiving, at the last minute. Seems he never had a father and his mother died two weeks ago.”

“Yes, I remember, very sad, but I do not view him as a possible suitor.” She is still somewhat of a prize, but should the classically endowed “Gibson Girls” go out of favor, 25 pounds will need to be shed.

“Don’t get the wrong impression, Agnes. He is a nice man, not altogether without merit, but he does not represent our desires for you. Be yourself around him; make him feel at home, that’s all we ask of you.”

 “You always manage to keep me grounded,” Agnes admits.

“Now Cyril Odz, he is a different story. We continue to hear nothing but good things about him from your brother.”

James has been on the lookout for possible mates for years and he has informed Martha that the Gadsden County Sheriff fits all the criteria.

“Look who is here, dear.” John ushers Ziggy into the kitchen, along with the bag of beets and rutabaga stalks he insisted on contributing. They will need special attention to fit in with meal, but no one will be the wiser.

While Doc Ziggy is in his eighties, his mind is still sharp as a tack, as adept are his arthritic hands. So don’t you dare — walk with bare — feet that is. “Martha, you must improve your posture,” he places a hand on the smallest of her back and one on her left breast, while lifting. If he were anyone else, a slap across the brow would be in order. “Laura, Alpha and Maggie Lou vill be by shortly and do not throw out za greens from za beets, boil zem is salt vater.” Advanced age does have its privilege.

Cross

  That afternoon, after all have assembled at Hillside Estate, there is so much to be thankful for. John Ferrell speaks for them all, with an inspirational grace for the ages, lifted to the heavens and direct from his heart. Unbeknownst to him, his prayer strikes a deep cord with Frankie, leading him to accept Jesus as his Savior. Agnes had wondered why he had been invited, this is her answer. The plans of man are mere pieces of the great plan of God.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #194


page 182

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #193

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #193

…Martha Ferrell is letting her true feelings surface for the first time…

Preparing For Thanksgiving by Doris Lee

John ponders Scotish aid.

‘I wonder if he wants to go see where his family has its roots.’ She knows John is eager, knee-deep in his new project, but a look that would stop a charging bull in its tracks, halts his notion there and then. ‘No, I suppose he has better things to do… busy, busy, busy, always something,’

 Thanksgiving is the next day.

“And please do not spoil Thanksgiving dinner with too much talk of Scotland. It will be difficult enough dealing with the extra guests.” She is in the kitchen, preparing to prepare enough food to feed the Third Scottish Regiment, with Agnes’ help… as soon as she wakes up.

“Ziggy is old and alone.” John insists.

“He is not the problem. Neither is his friend, Doctor Alpha. It is who will be with them.”

Truth-001“Laura Bell and Maggie – I thought we buried that resentment years ago?”

“We buried? No, I have learned to forgive your adultery, but I may never understand your complete devotion to that child, I mean we could have paid Laura off and sent them away. Instead, they live across the lake and you spend as much time with them as you do me.”Martha is letting her true feelings surface for the first time.

There is the welcome sound of footsteps coming down from upstairs, much to John’s relief. “Agnes, darling, you’re up early, good, your mother needs help peeling the vegetables, I am going to stoke the stove. Let’s make this the best Thanksgiving ever!”John heads for the woodshed for enough fuel to cook six separate dishes and a 25 pound turkey.

“Daddy is unusually lively this morning, Mother. Did we put too much starch in his underwear again?”

“I will let him tell you himself, but suffice it to say he has a new project to work on, something to do with the war in Europe.”

“How exciting! Do you think I could help?” Agnes could use a little spice in her life as well.

“No, I mean yes, no I mean maybe.” It is hard for her to be clear, without appearing to oppose the one man whom Agnes overtly adores. “We will discuss this after dinner, when the guests leave.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

MimiEunice_60

Mimi & Eunice by Nina Paley

Episode #193


page 181

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #187

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #187

Theirs is not to reason why’, writes Tennyson about the six hundred and I for one buy into that notion 100 per cent…

“Their is not to reason why., theirs but to do and die.”

“I guess they don’t read your magazine in Britain.” 14 months and a scary recollection away, James turns sober, recalling that he really did not know if his clients had boarded the Titanic or not. “I don’t know why they didn’t…”

“‘Theirs is not to reason why’, writes Tennyson about the six hundred and I for one buy into that notion 100 per cent.” Harv shakes off the morbid tone of the conversation. “Say, what McGillicuddysdo you men say to an ice cold beer over at McGillicuddy’s?”

James is willing, though he will tell Abbey who is with Judith and the women, where they are going. Alpha, however, is distracted by Maggie Lou, who has been patiently waiting her turn to congratulate him. She represents a more inviting diversion than a beer in a tavern filled with over-served Irishmen.

“We understand, Alpha.”

 There is no way we can compete with a pretty girl, Harv.” James is giving A.O. a good old-fashioned ribbing. “Beware the female charm, Campbell, or she will have you in her spell before you know it.” Some of his playfull advice is valid, considering that his doctor friend has been cuddling up to books, not females, up to the present.

Now brother Hosea could show him all he needs to know about women, but he will not get the chance, Willy has seen to that, showing his scoundrel son the way off campus, before he can flaunt his fleshly acumen and pollutes the innocent.

Medical School graduation in 1913

Instead, Maggie is allowed her time, with Laura and Ziggy lurking at a safe distance “You look so handsome, Alfrey.” She feels the collar of his velvet-trimmed robe.

“I can’t wait to take this thing off. In fact I am, right now.” The white bow tie follows. “There.”

She will always look up to Alpha, her big brother in past times, but admiration has recently altered, more in the vein of a wistful pining. She has missed his company during his academic journey to today, but she sees him now through the eyes of a woman. “Please show me where you stay, your room I mean.”

“Not much more than a cracker box, I’m afraid, a desk and a cot,” he warns, “and I am moved out.”

“Then show me the buildin’… please, I’d like to get away,” she whispers, motioning subtly in the direction of her mother Laura Bell and Ziggy.

They do not elude the opportune eye of Judith’s camera lens, the last image she will capture for posterity; Alpha and Maggie Lou, arm in arm, walking down the paths he knows so well, with a girl he is just getting to know.


Alpha Omega M.D.

“Modern Times” Charlie Chaplin

Episode #187


page 175

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #184

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #184

…Alpha looks handsome in his black cap and gown,  but pays a price, his dark presence soaking in the penetrating sunlight like a sponge…

LATOBSD3-001


At the end of the second quarter of 1913 Alpha Omega Campbell is about to graduate from Tufts University School of Medicine, formerly Boston College of Physicians and Surgeons. If anyone from Quincy would have been so foolish as to predict that the runt of the family they had rescued from the grip of Jefferson Smythwick, would become a doctor 17 years later, they would have been laughed out of town.


Old Doc Ziggy was the first to have an inkling back in 1897, when Maggie Lou was new and the then Alfrey Campbell would explore all the wonders of his black bag. He has spent the intervening years as A.O.’s personal career consultant, imparting as much of his knowledge as he could and encouraging him the rest of the way. It has been sixty years and an Atlantic Ocean away, since a German university fashioned the good doctor.

Now he is the proud Omega to his dear Alpha, part of the well-traveled Tallahassee contingent, here in Boston for a slice of history; Willy, Amanda & family of course, with John, Martha, James, Abbey, benefactors Herbert and Phoebe, Laura Bell and 16 year old Maggie Lou.  Out of nowhere, Atlantic City produces brother Hosey and a floozy, though no one would freely admit to any association.

A hot summer sun beats down on the plaissance grounds, where Tufts graduations are held; ten rows of folding chairs for the graduates, twenty for spectators behind.

         Alpha looks handsome in his black cap and gown, with three rings on each sleeve and white shirt and bow tie, but pays a price, his dark presence soaking in the penetrating sunlight like a sponge. Looking closely at the second row, you can see the third person in, in between Misters Calvert and Carson; fall off his chair like a lead-filled balloon.

 Prowling nearby, as they often are where there is a significant human interest story to be had, Harv Pearson plops his notebook on the grass to rushes to his aid, without realizing there are over two hundred new doctors in a fifty foot radius. “We need some water and a towel, Campbell’s dehydrated,” says physician in waiting, Carson.

“He will not be the last,” Harv suggests, “not if they don’t shorten those speeches.”

 He will be the last black person to faint, the other two of his original freshman class minorities having dropped out of school early on.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Graduation Day by Howard Temperley

Graduation Day by Howard Temperley

Episode #184


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