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


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #12

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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


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #10

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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


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #7

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 7

… The 4 conspirators are meeting in a fallout shelter, one constructed forty feet below the basement, a paranoid reaction to Hiroshima and Nagasaki…

Back to the west of the Starke Prison and a little to the north, perhaps 140 miles total, as the flamingo flies, there is the beginning of a covert transaction under way. The underlying focus of this meeting is a juicy plot of Tallahassee, on the south side of Tennessee Street. A mere five blocks south of the Oakland Cemetery, where Maggie Lou Campbell will be buried, are the six acres of land most coveted by those expanding the capitol city.

As it happens, thousands of government people, legislators and the like, rotate their stays here in Tallahassee and their home districts. In addition to that, the two universities attract transient visitors as well, many of whom are moneyed, needing to tarry the next day and beyond.

Not all too surprisingly, one of the four men at this meeting, in the bowels of the Capitol Plaza Hotel (the sole world class facility in town) is the owner, Charles Wilson. Yes, there are quite a few “motels” scattered about, typically family operations; one floor, no frills, no food. Are mom & pop ten roomers considered competition to the Plaza? The answer is no, because if they were, Charles Wilson would have his fingers in that pie. ShrewD with a “capital” D, while possessing the clout of an entrenched incumbent politician, Wilson will be a part of any hotel doings, you can be sure.

In the room as well, one constructed forty feet below the basement, a paranoid reaction to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is Samuel Goldblatt III. He represents the exploding Holiday Inn chain of hotels and motels, lodging for the masses that targets large cities and sites along newly organizing interstate highway systems connecting those cities. He is fashioned after the new breed of American businessman; a child of the Great Depression, determined never again to be poor, sometimes at any cost.

No mega-deal would get off the ground without financing. George Lewis, he of Lewis State Bank, fund-raiser for Wilson and mortgage maker for FranklinGreedy-001 McLoud, completes the quadrangle. He seems to be the uneasy-est member of the group, perhaps because of a rumored, but unsubstantiated connection to the Campbell family.

Neither he nor McLoud should be comfortable in this bunker, taking into account the nature of their business, not to mention the fact that they are expected to be numbered at Maggie Lou’s funeral.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #7


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #6

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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


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #5

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #5

…The Governor has granted you special dispensation…

“You have a visitor, Doc Campbell.” The voice of guard Lightfoot pierces the night, routing the man from a spasmodic sleep. It feels like he has been daydreaming with his eyes closed.

“I ain’t been been killin’ no white girl!” yells the doctor incongruously, with conviction.

R Worth Moore-001Standing before his 6×8 foot cell, is R. Worth Moore, the attorney who was unsuccessful in refuting the testimony of the dead girl’s mother. Her daughter, in a deathbed revelation, tells her mother that it was a Tallahassee doctor who performed an abortion on her. Whether or not the privileged evidence is true, the six white males on the jury believe so. Go ahead and disregard the known fact that her then “family” doctor was a Doctor Sapp, who practiced medicine 10 miles north, in Havana. He is white; any potential holes in the testimony?

“Wake up, Doc… do you want out of here or not?” Lightfoot has a heavy hand.

You can almost smell the fresh air of freedom from inside this hell-hole.

  “A.O., I’ve come to take you to be with your Maggie!” Attorney Moore looks more disheveled than normal, because of the early morning hour, but not too far from his typically crumpled appearance; being a widower, he does not have his suits pressed as much as he should.

“Say what now Mr. Moore?” he mutters in a surrealistic daze.

The Governor has granted you special dispensation. I’m here to take you home for the funeral. Alpha is waiting for us in my car.”

“Mr. Moore went over the warden’s head, Doc,” says the guard. “Now get on your Sunday clothes before someone changes their mind.”dignity

Moore has brought the doctor’s best fall suit with him. Prison cannot take away this proud man’s dignity and the way a man dresses is the outward expression of that. Prisoner Campbell is suddenly transformed into his former self; the one who operates in the realm of the respectful and respected, as opposed to the regulars at Starke, molester, murderer and thief. How did he ever get lumped in with this motley crew?

The metamorphosis is completed when a renew-ly proud man strides confidently through the open cell door. An emotional Attorney Moore sniffles in concert with his tears, much as he had done after his closing statement on February 2nd, 1956.

“If they’ll give me my black bag back, Worth, I‘ll give you somethin’ for that.” He thinks of others before self. If one’s life motto can be summed up in six words, write the previous sentence down in The Book of Life, alongside the quiet doctor’s name.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #5


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #3

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #3

…”What is today’s date?” the doctor inquires. It is hard to keep track of time, when daylight comes to your world but an hour a day…

October 21 1958-001

“My Maggie died this morning, Frank,” simply put.

Lightfoot’s face turns a whiter shade of pale. Realization of another’s mortality will shine the light on your own, producing humility and ultimately humanity.

“I am truly sorry, Doc Campbell. I didn’t mean to disrespect you.” He means what he says.

“Maybe you could put in a good word for me, with Warden Hayes I mean. He denied me a pass to go to the wake.”

“This IS a maximum security prison,” Frank states, then recants, regaining his new humanity. “You’re right, Doc. The warden should grant you a pass and I’ll volunteer to take you to… where are you folks from?”

“Tallahassee.”

“How can I forget that, state capital and all?”

“To be rightly correct, we hail from Quincy, in Gadsen County. But we have a family cemetery plot  at Oakland Cemetery in Frenchtown, not far from my hospital.” The mention of his clinic floods him with emotion, accent on the guilt. “My Maggie would still be alive if I had been there for her. She always needed me to guide and care for her. And where am I? I’d say I’ma wasting my retirement years, serving time for a death which I dint cause — and now my Maggie’s gone and I have nothin’ to live for.”

“You have daughters, don’t ya? Three seems to me, ‘cause I remember all of them coming the day you came here. It was February 3rd… in’57, the same as my weddin’ anniversary.”

What is today’s date?” the doctor inquires. It is hard to keep track of time, when daylight comes to your world but an hour a day.

“Tuesday,” is the response.

“No, the date. Ain’t it October?”

“21st, yeah, October. It says so on this here new watch I got, shows the date and the day,” ironically on an Omega.

“623 days without her and now I don’t care about tomorrow or any other day. Take me home, Lord, I want to see my Maggie!”

“I’ll talk to Warden Hayes in the mornin’. Blow out that candle now. We’ll get you home, Doc.”

Getting Warden Hayes to change his mind will be no small task. Ten years ago, two former inmates, black and hopelessly unemployed, with too much time on their hands, kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed the warden’s 11 year old daughter. Revenge was their motive… as it is now his… an unreasonable rebuke of this 68 year old black Southern doctor in mourning.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #3


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