Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 52

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #52

…Herbert Love completes the final five feet in free fall; Mr. Behind, meet Mr. Ground…

About mid-lane leading to Sumter South, he hears the whimpering of a female cry.

“Can I help you down, Darlin’?” Love carefully urges her. Shock has gripped the girl, who is unable to respond.Looking-up-a-tree

Realizing there is no other way to reach her, he becomes a middle-aged tree climber. It is rather late in life to begin this practice (of animal or nimble youth), but he manages several good footholds, enough height for his long arms to gain him vertical parity with a young woman he believes to be Jefferson Smythwick’s teen aged daughter, Abigail. He remembered seeing her at the Cotillion of this summer past.

“Miss Smythwick? Honey, are you chilly? I have a blanket for you in my wagon. Would you please come with me?”

It is not the warmest of Florida mornings, even at this midday. Chiffon is not a fabric that stands up to a crisp breeze and she acknowledges her state of discomfort with momentary eye contact. Love seizes the moment and reaches for her trembling delicate hand, which prompts a descent more easily done. boy-falling

After two backward moves, which should only have been one, her rescuer completes the final five feet in free fall. Mr. Behind, meet Mr. Ground. The rear landing is more comical than serious, though it manages to rouse the girl to a conscious stream.

“Are you all right, kind sir?!” She scrambles down to lend a hand.

“Yes I am, but I must say that that last step is a doozy.” The pair chuckles at the notion. As the once dignified Quincian brushes the terra firma from his pants, reality resets itself in the countenance of the young Smythwick, as she pans the horizon for what is left of her home. She starts walking in the general direction of where she last saw her father, drawn behind the next largest structure, the stable and groomsmen barn. It had not been totally consumed by fire, perhaps because of the presence of freshly harvested alfalfa. A large oak on the backside of the building used to suspend the rope swing of her childhood.

unthinkableHad he known what awaits them, around the next corner in this neo-war zone, he would certainly have sheltered this fragile spirit. On each side of the oak, a deadly collar has snagged Jefferson Smythwick and his hated overseer known only as Pigface.


Alpha Omega M.D.

A Slaver’s End

Episode #52


page 49

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #14

Leave a comment

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

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #13

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #13

…Your letters stopped comin’ over a year ago…

Post-funeral mingling continues…

“We’ll all be missin’ her, Doc, just like we’ve been missin’ you,” offers Edwina Stephens, longtime Frenchtown resident and friend to the family. A warm embrace is given to all in the greeting line.

Second in sequence is J. Kenty Johnson, who along with A.O., was one of the first black doctors in the former Confederacy; numbered lower than 100 for the longest time. “You had the finest possible woman, ‘specially for a doctor, A.O. A single man like me can sure ‘preciate that.”

“Thank you, Johnnie. I know I couldn’ta made it through those early years without her. She was a blessin’ to me.”

“To everyone,” it is agreed.

The slow moving, single file line produces a surprise: Hosea Campbell, the wayward older brother of the doctor, who still looks like his vocation, a purveyor of prostitution. He saunters up respectfully.

“I’ma sorry that I ain’t been ‘round these years, Alfrey,” he speaks to his brother using a nickname only the Quincy Campbells use; Alfrey actually being A.O.’s given name. It wasn’t dignified enough.

“How’d Jersey been treatin’ you, Hosey?” asks Alpha, not expecting what would be coming out of his mouth next.

“Oh well, I’m doin’ okay,” Hosey says, changing to a whisper, “but Angie is worried sick ‘bout you. Your letters stopped comin’ over a year ago. She’s thinkin’ you forgot about her.”

The doctor discretely responds in muted words, “Tell Angela and her mother that I’ll be contactin’ them soon. I was fearin’ the warden’s been spying on my mail, don’t need his knowin’ ‘bout Camille.”

Secrets-001

Secrets are undisclosed facts. You would swear that these liberties with the truth would make a heck of a good story, if they did not make such painful truth. And it’s not as though things got this complicated overnight. Years of careless planning have contributed to current circumstances. 1919 was one interesting year, in the deep dark past and the culprit in several indiscreet situations by multiple offenders.

“Camille is married, did ya know?” Hosey is updating the New Jersey news, as they shunt to an unoccupied corner.

It has caught the doctor off balance. “Married?” There is a slight trembling in his voice, reflecting a tinge of unwarranted possessiveness.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #13


page 14

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #12

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #12

…”I keep this picture with me always,” A.O. relates sadly…

BOOK PIC 6 002

The entire front right pew rises, there to pass in front of the open mahogany casket enveloping the unique blended beauty of Maggie Lou Ferrell Campbell; part Cherokee Indian, part black, part Scot, an Oster mix of unlikely combination. She is dressed in her favorite pale green satin dress; the very one A.O. has given her to wear on Easter Sunday, 1955.

Upon seeing his beloved, so real, so eternally quiet, he turns to his daughters and pulls out a bent picture from his coat saying, “I keep this picture with me always.” It says on the back:

Me and Mrs. Campbell—–Easter Day 1955

The year our tribulations began. At the time,

we had no thought of the gathering storm

that broke loose in August; you see no

apprehension in our faces. Thanks for looking.’

“Mamma’s as beautiful as ever, the way I think of her always,” adds Laura Campbell lovingly. She has been joined by her husband, a late arriver, who actually did care for his mother-in-law, though he betrays her in the present.

“And where have you been, Franklin McLoud? We waited and waited for you. Alpha and Vaughn brought us here and thank God they did, little Laura was crying for her grandpa.”

Children are a good source of guilt.

No answer.excuses

“What could be so important that you could be so late?” Good question.

As if he could explain. He was supposed to be one of the pallbearers.

“The funeral director had to take your end of the casket. Do you know how embarrassin’ that was?” Laura is usually quiet, slow to anger. Had she known the real reason for his absence, the present anger may have turned violent.

He takes his place beside Laura, silently, dutifully and deceitfully.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #12


page 13

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #11

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #11

  …We are here to raise a wonderful woman, wife, mother and human being to meet and be with our Lord and Savior…

Funeral-001

Attending Maggie Lou’s casket are six pallbearers and as well as members of the Strong and Jones Funeral Home, who try to blend in with the proceedings; innocently sticking out with businesslike insincerity, professional mourners, if you will.

Pastor Johnson, on the other hand, could not be more sincere, as if it were his blood sister, instead of sister in Christ, laying still and cold in front of him. He summons the word of God and the courage of David, to properly honor her memory.

BOOK PIC 6 002

A.O. & Maggie Lou

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered this day, a woefully sad day indeed, to raise a wonderful woman, wife, mother and human being to meet and be with our Lord and Savior, who sits at the right hand of God Who reigns in heaven, until the day he comes to judge the living and the dead; the day we believers anxiously await. Our dear Maggie Lou has the privilege to experience this first hand. She is surely a blessed addition to a heaven filled with cherubim and seraphim.”

“Amen, sweet Jesus!” shouts one amongst the many. Pastor Johnson glorifies the Lord most effectively, if not exceedingly.

“A man and Amen to the maker and taker, Father to all, lover of man, Wonderful Counselor!!!” Hands lifted to the heavens, hearts on fire, soaring past cathedral roof and the autumn clouds above.

Pastor adjusts the vest of his three piece suit, runs his hands through his totally gray hair, and corrects his wire rimmed glasses, thereby composing himself as best he can for the rest of the service. It is a memorial observance for the ages.

And even though there are few dry eyes, (the exception displayed mainly by those who attend because of obligation, guilt, or just to be seen) the sincere majority is left with a genuine sense of comfort, verily unsurpassed joy. The past hour has been pure revelation, as they usher Maggie to the steps of Heaven’s Gate.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Related image

Episode #11


page 12

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #10

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #10

…the good reverend Pastor Bill Johnson gazing down at his assembling flock and guests, from the top stair of his church entrance…

Faith Resurrection Baptist Church

A solemn motorcade has assembled in front of Faith Resurrection Baptist Church. Directly behind the funeral director, is the same extended-body black Lincoln that whisked A.O. Campbell to his temporary freedom. Trailing behind, in a considerable line, are those less mobile, nevertheless devoted admirers of what Maggie Lou and her surviving husband mean to the community. As he suffered at Starke, in silence, in disgrace, they were out of sight, out of mind.

Without Doc Campbell in the socially lagging Frenchtown neighborhood, they suffer of body. Without Maggie, they are down one friend. Despite the incalculable disparity in the lifestyle the Campbells have enjoyed and that of, say Lilly Chevis, it can never be said of Maggie, ‘That woman is so uppity, livin’ in that huge house and all. And can you imagine havin’ black servants? How nervy can you get?’ Yes, Lilly Chevis helped out at Laura Bell Memorial Hospital, a two story edifice named after Maggie’s mother, their shared kinship is the byproduct of most relationships that include the Campbell’s by habit. Holidays, birthdays, baby dedications, church socials, graduations and sadly, funerals are shared experiences of the community family; each occasion warm and full to the brim.

The Campbell world, the one not fully revealed to Lilly: the university functions, cotillions, fund raising dinners for the politically given and all black ties affairs.

Yet today, none of these detract from the deep sense of neighborhood.

Consider all of the above. These are what bring a throng of mourners to Faith Resurrection B.C.E., the good reverend Pastor Bill Johnson gazing down at his assembling flock and guests, from the top stair of his church entrance. Neither he nor any of his parishioners can recall this house of God’s capacity being so threatened. Although the Sunday after the Tallahassee soldiers arrived back from World War II was greatly packed with grateful souls.

Ushers Harwood, husband to former Campbell nurse, Lettie Golden and Dr. V.L. Perry, the president of Florida A&M, make the most of “Faith’s” interior, including the little used balcony. For this service, there are extra honoring voices behind the pulpit, which is right behind the flower covered casket.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #10


page 11

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #6

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #6

…What bittersweet irony for a family gathering…

Outside the tall barbed wire crowned concrete wall, past a solitary entry, today turned exit, awaits an entourage worthy of the preeminent boxer of this day, Sugar Ray Robinson, replete with a long black limousine, armed guards and one important addition; the Campbell family complete. R. Worth Moore has managed to assemble the three girls, two of their husbands and those precious grandchildren.

Throw in some Tallahassee tag-a-longs, friends and such, with card-carrying members of the Southeastern Medical Society and you have a mobile armada, of loving proportions. The only thing missing from the fleet is the Frenchtown High School marching band. Their bus is in the shop.

Alpha Omega Campbell, M.D. passes through the restrictive threshold of his temporary home, amid cheers, tears and warden-ly leers, the latter is on hand to remind the doctor that he is expected to return. This makeshift celebration does, after all, resemble a triumphant return to civilian life.

“We miss you, Daddy!” His daughterly namesake, Alpha, is the first to express the most simple of salutations. The Mizzels had flown in from Fort Lauderdale. Her husband Vaughn is also a doctor, as it goes for two out of the three daughters betrothed.

The McLouds, accounting for the #2 Campbell girl, Laura, is next to applying a warm stranglehold on her shorter father. Her uniquely fair skin begs an obvious question, but her stunning beauty deflects the any gossip. Franklin McLoud is in real estate, unable to attend, a pressing land deal blocks his attendance.

He looks down at a young grandchild. “And you, little Laura, the day I see you stop growing is the day I meet my Maker.”

Daughter #3, Zillah Shirley, last but not least in his heart, joins the love reunion. Youngest daughters will always be considered daddy’s little girl and with Zillah farthest away, even at her closest, this special encounter magnifies the joy. Washington D.C. is a world much removed from the old South, but people get sick, even in Camelot, despite official decrees.

  What bittersweet irony for this gathering. Death is a regrettable excuse to assemble this menagerie of a clan, but when weddings and child dedications dry up, this is what’s left.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #6


page 7