Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #219

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #219

…George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera, a captain of  industry, reduces himself to nursemaid, helping his brother-in-law cling to life…

captains of industry

 “That damned flu hit him from out of nowhere. I found him in bed, after the magazine called me wondering if I had seen him,”  George Eastman recalls the events.

  “And I was across the country, oh what kind of wife can I be!?” She is distraught. “Why didn’t he let us know he was coming home? I would not have gone away in the first place.”

 “He is upstairs. The hospitals are full. Here, put this on, we don’t need anyone else sick.” He hands her a mask.

 “Is it that bad? I mean if the hospitals are full, that would be thousands.”

“Didn’t you read the papers in California?” George asks like she came from another planet.

“No, had no time, just heard talk of us winning some big battles in Europe.”

11,000 are dead in Philadelphia alone.”

 She hangs her head. “That is why the streets are deserted isn’t it?”

“People are afraid to talk to anybody. And poor Harv, he was shaken badly when he came home, only ten men survived on the Navy ship he crossed the ocean in. He was putting together a story when it got him.”

“Oh, my God – I want to see him,” she rushes to his side.

“You may not recognize him, lost a lot of weight, and he sleeps all day, it’s all I can do to get him to take in fluids, but I think he’s getting a little better.” George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera, a captain of the photographic industry, reduces himself to nursemaid, helping his brother-in-law cling to life. “The good news is that he has made it past the first day. Most people who die go fast, mostly younger too.”

“He’s got a strong heart… oh, Harv I am so sorry I wasn’t here for you, can you ever forgive me?” She kneels beside their bed, sobbing, not expecting an answer.

“Do you think I would die without being able to ask my partner why she abandoned our magazine, to be a movie star no less?” Harv Pearson’s speech is slow, but lucid.

“I can’t hug you, you rascal, but when I can, look out.” She looks back at George, mouthing a hearty, ‘thank you’.

MeanwhileThe Spanish influenza leaves as quickly as it had struck, erasing thirty million lives along the way, in time to allow dancing in the streets when the Armistice is signed and the Great War ends on November 11th.

  The balance of power has shifted… for now.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Colorized photo shows the German delegation, as they arrive to sign the Armistice provisionally ending World War One, in a train dining car outside Compiegne, France. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty)

Episode #219


page 204 (end ch. 11)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #213

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #213

… “It would be a good idea to confine everyone to their deck, to keep mixing to a minimum,” Harv suggests…

Pandemic

Writer/director JOHN DRYDEN

As Harv and the ship commander chat, the subject turns from boats sinking, to young men dying.

“What do you think about some medical experts’ assertion that troop and transport ships are to blame for the outbreak of Spanish influenza?”

American Troops Embarking, Southampton, 1918 by Sir John Lavery

“What do I think? As far as I can see, we are damned if we do or damned if we don’t. If we don’t have a million American troops at Argonne, we are not going home right now.” Admiral Sims speaks about an enemy more invisible than the submarine. “I would avoid interviewing the crew. Keep your distance if you do.”

“Good advice. I hear that IT is killing one person a day onboard. That’s pretty scary.”

“We have twenty sailors in sick bay as we speak. I’m told they are bad off.” He takes off his cap, running his hands through his graying hair. “And we are only one day out to sea.”

“It would be a good idea to confine everyone to their deck, to keep mixing to a minimum,” Harv suggests.

“Did you hear that crewman?” he speaks to the helmsman. “Make an announcement over the loudspeaker. Everyone is to be confined to their deck and avoid physical contact with each other. And tell them not to cough!

“We will figure what to do about the mess hall later. Do you have an idea on how to handle the mess hall, to feed 200 men, scattered all over this boat?”

All suggestions would be welcomed.

“Are there any crewmen who have successfully recovered from the influenza?”

“Two, I believe, but I don’t think they want to get sick again.”

“That is the idea. They can’t.” Rear Admiral Sims looks at Harv like he has lost his mind. “No really, we did an article on disease specialists and one of the things they were working on was figuring out, why once a parson has contracted an illness that they seem to be immune from getting sick from that same disease.”

“I see, so they can mingle with the crew!” He gets it. “You would make a great officer, Pearson.”

“I am a little too old to join the Navy.”

“That may be true, but I lost my First Officer to the sickness and I am hereby appointing you second in command.”

“I’m not very fond of uniforms… no offense intended.”

“Since we are going to spend the next eight days on the bridge, I am going to need your help, if you are wearing a uniform or not.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Influenza WWI

Episode #213


page 200

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #209

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #209

…Mentor and friend Doc Ziggy is felled by a simple act of compassion, unnecessary risk for the sake of healing; a trait passed on to a willing and eager student…

Ziggy-001

So A.O. Campbell is compelled and propelled into the front line of a serious domestic battle. As one day turns into two, three patients swelling to ten, he is joined by doctors Clifton Moor and J. Kenty Johnson, both of whom already spend their days looking down the lenses of a microscope and are anxious to get a magnified view of this biological invader. A good core group of nurses come to the third floor as well.

But before day-two is out, Ziggy’s 85 year old body seems to have plain given up, fluid laden lungs laboring in his sagging chest. And with a hellacious fever to boot, no quantities of Love ice able to stem the upward spiral. Tending to his spirit is all A.O. is able to do. “Laura Bell’s fever is breaking, Ziggy, see–she’s waving at you from the bed across the room. I have all I can do keepin’ her from takin’ my job.”

“In bed vhere she belongs! I don’t vant her paying for my mistakes,” The old German forces out words with precious little breath.

“Mistakes?” A.O. is curious.

healers

“Ya, I treated some sick Indians, from za reservation up north, Laura’s people. Didn’t think they had a plague.” He is regretful to the end.

          “It’s not the plague, Ziggy, somethin’ no one’s seen before, influenza they’re calling it. Clifton and Kenty have isolated a bacteria or maybe a virus.” He attempts to take the pressure of guilt out of Ziggy’s condition.

          “I should have known better. Too many of zose indians vere sick, bad sick.” He pauses to draw a painful breath, a chance to reflect. “I am glad Frieda vent before me. She did not have to be alone. You make sure you take care of Laura unt Maggie, they will be alone now.”

“No Ziggy, you can’t leave me. Please hang on until they can come up with a serum, you’re too stubborn…”

Stubborn does not leave A.O.’s mouth before Doctor Siegfried Endlichoffer eyelids drop over his tired blue irises. He is a fairly early victim that will eventually number 800,000. He is felled by a simple act of compassion, unnecessary risk for the sake of healing; a trait passed on to a willing and eager student.

The student must resist embracing his expired friend, the natural reaction given the moment. Instead he gives way to a trained team of amateur undertakers, whose job is to isolate the corpse for later burial. There is not much room for tender moments, unless you risk your own life in the process.

  A.O. Campbell is left to suffer in silence, removed from the rest of the world by his choice, while witness to an ever mounting carnage, even to the loss of his comforter, the reason for his vocation.


Alpha Omega M.D.

COMPASSION2

34 Compassion Paintings by John Schlimm

Episode #209


page 196

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #208

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #208

…the war will be killin’ two ways; if a bullet don’t get ya, the flu will…

During a day of work in early September at Florida A&M Hospital, an institution that he has helped to grow, from modest beginnings to respectability, A.O. attends a staff meeting concerning the sudden outbreak of influenza. Miss Virginia Hilyer supervises a stable of promising young doctors at this mostly black college facility and she is determined to get a handle on the cause of this spreading calamity, utilizing research labs to isolate what they think is an offending bacteria.

She says there is reason for alarm. Not only is this strain deadly, but it kills in a single day, taking down those considered the strongest, vital men and women in their 20’s. It has migrated out of the Orient, as do most flues, making a devastating stopover in Spain, leaving but a small percentage of its population untouched, before making port at Boston in late August. It seems that the increased coming and goings across the Big Pond, with the war as the cause, has provided the disease a virulent conduit… and it is spreading like a wildfire in the jack pine forests native to the Florida panhandle; tinder dry underbrush feeding sappy needles, fanned by Gulf breezes.

“We are seein’ our first cases already and I’m not takin’ any chances. We are closing off the top floor. It will serve as an isolation ward for the whole county. I lost my mother to the plague in 1914 and I won’t be repeating New Orleans’ arrogant mistakes!” Miss Jennie, as she is known, is also on staff as one of the top career nurses in the nation, dedicated to the care of others, even to the expense of her own personal life.

       No better example for a young physician than she; listen, attend, heal are her watchwords. And do not think that any of these qualities is lost on A.O. Campbell, who grew up watching the sternly skilled hands of Doc Ziggy work minor wonders, forever laced with compassion and kindness.

          Before the sun can reach its zenith and much to Campbell’s dismay, two of the first admissions to the isolation ward are familiar to him, one ill leading the other for care. His mother-in-law and his mentor look as though they’ve been to hell and back, sweating bullets on a cool-ish late summer day.

“I’ll be caring for them, Miss Jennie—my kinfolk and such—that’s if you don’t mind?”

There is gravity to the request. “You may have to stay with them until it’s over,” she informs him, as they are led to the electric elevator, too delirious to recognize A.O.

“I’ll have them good as new in a day or so,” he thinks.

“I don’t think you understand. Them means all of them, two or two thousand. Once you are exposed, we can’t have you infecting the rest of Leon County.”

He hesitates for a moment, staring the subtle hazards of epidemic straight in the eye. It is staring back at him.

  “Would you please go to my house and tell my Maggie that her mother and Ziggy are here and I’ll be caring for them… and anyone else who is struck down.” He has made up his mind. “Tell her not to go out of the house with the baby.”

“That is sound advice Doctor Campbell, somethin’ the whole world should do, but I have a feelin’ the war will be killin’ two ways; if a bullet don’t get ya, the flu will.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Self Portrait With Spanish Flu 1919 by Edvard Munch

Episode #208


page 195

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


page 188

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #174

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #174

…Says here two men and a truck have not returned to Quincy. Sounds like you planned to hijack that truck… Rock Bluff is on the way to Georgia…

Edward Lamson-Henry

Art by Edward Lamson-Henry

The soft-top-cop Ford arrives at the jail, which is next to the law offices of Blount Blount & Jones, Willy his herded away from Clete. He has talked him out of trying to Justice2-001set the record straight. Folks in these parts are not very good listeners anyway.

  Instead of a cell, Willy Campbell is locked in a damp, rancid cellar. He will not see the light of day for two days. Neither will he see Clete, his best chance at exoneration. It is a taste of Southern justice at its worst.

On the third day, the door swings open, casting light on the windowless cellar. Without a word, he is pushed up the stairs by the sheriff himself, plopped into a chair in a small room. The door is shut behind him, only to be opened straight away by an all too familiar face.

“So what do you have to say for yourself, boy? Did you know that it was my son you killed?” He had buried Charlie hence. “He lives twenty-two years only to be run over by a truck, driven by a damned nigger.”

“Where’s Clete? He’ll tell you ‘bout what happened.”Old Road sign-001

“We sent him packing, but maybe we shouldn’t have, seeing that we got this missing persons report. Says here two men and a truck have not returned to Quincy. Sounds like you planned to hijack that truck… Rock Bluff is on the way to Georgia.

“We, I mean Clete tooka wrong turn. We was turning around when a speeding car plowed into us. Mr. Love knows we wouldn’t steal his truck, he’ll tell ya so!”

“Whether you were stealin’ the truck or not, my son is dead and you are going to pay.”

“What ‘bout the girl? The one wit dat baby in her. She knows they was goin’ too fast, not lookin’ out fo trouble.” It turns out that they were rushing to an appointment for an abortion. She ends up getting one, but she will not be admitting it any time soon. “We saved her life, we did.”

railroadedcover

“Trouble is what you are in.” Period, end of story. “Put him in the darky cell, give him bread and water… don’t want to be accused of mistreating a prisoner.” It’s his town and obviously his influence goes across county lines. “We better go after the other guy Sheriff, can’t have him talking. And let Hansen (Liberty County Sheriff who was out on a cattle rustling call that fateful afternoon) know we are handling the situation.” He is ignoring jurisdiction, for his own self interest. Not a good idea.

“Shouldn’t we let Gadsden County know what’s goin’ on?” asks the Calhoun County lackey.

“Tell them the truck they were looking for was involved in a fatal accident. They will find out the rest later,” Blount plots it out. “Now go get that Clete idiot, before I elect another sheriff!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

jail

by Billy Dee

Episode #174


page 162

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #167

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #167

… Alpha Campbell is the only person remotely qualified to perform resuscitation. He may have learned this technique from the stricken Ziggy himself…

by TheMozzy (Deviant Art)

Alpha is smart enough not to scare Maggie Lou off with talk other than friendship. He can only hope that she will be there for him, when he is a doctor and she is not off limits

For the time being, he must be satisfied with holding her hand, helping to complete an unbroken circle around the departed Frieda… surviving husband Ziggy and Reverend Watkins.

“We commit our sister, Frieda, to you, Lord God Almighty. We believe you have already taken her into your loving arms, to a place where we the living look forward to coming; the throne of everlasting grace.

  “And please help her watch over her dearest Siegfried. Comfort his heart, dry his tears, give him the strength to continue to look after Laura and Maggie.”

Strength is substituted by the opposite. Ziggy wavers for a moment, catches himself, only to crumple like a house of cards, narrowly avoiding Frieda’s earthen aperture.

Without hesitation, Alpha rushes to his mentor, removing his tie and loosening his collar. Finding no pulse, he goes to work alternately pumping the breathless man’s chest and forcing his air into the mouth. This looks so foreign, to the point of violence, but Herbert Love and John Ferrell urge the others to stay calm. After all, young Campbell is the only person remotely qualified. And who knows, he may have learned this technique from Ziggy.

Back to Life-001  “Breathe, Doc, breathe!” Alpha screams while forcing the palms of his hands onto the heart area.

“Have mercy on our souls!” calls out the Reverend. What a cruel fate to suffer; how unthinkable.

But just as all hope was lost, with resuscitating efforts having ceased, Ziggy comes to life, seemingly on his own, as if he had an on/off switch that had been accidentally tripped, then reset to on. “Vhat am I doing on za ground? You have been crying, why. Did someone die?”

 Did someone die… indeed.

“We thought you were – not more than two minutes ago,” explains his friend and neighbor, Ferrell, still dumbfounded by what they have just witnessed.

No explanation except God! claims Reverend Watkins.

“Vhy are vee in za cemetery?” he asks, before focusing his failing eyes on the headstone in the background. His chin touches a once silent chest, upon seeing the completed dates under his Frieda’s name. What had caused him to spring back from death had removed the memory of his loss. Laura, Maggie, Willy, Alpha and John, those he knows the best, surround him in loving kindness, easing the newest impact on a man who cannot remember a day without his wife.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #167


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