Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #222

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #222

…Instead, the woman of Puerto Rican descent pushes the hooker to the ground, while rushing the doctor down the street and away from the red-light district…

Red Light District Memories by Michael Litvack

Thinking he is being led to his brother Hosea, he takes the woman’s arm.

“What floor does Hosey live on?”

 “All of them, he owns the joint. But he ain’t here now, went up to Philly on business, you know, to recruit some girls, should be back tomorrow.”

It dawns on the doctor just what business his brother is in. He hastens to free himself from the prostitute.

“Come on, honey, you don’t want to leave. I’m very lonely and I bet you could use a place to stay. Hosey left me in charge.”

“No! I can come back tomorrow.”

“What’s the matter nigger, ain’t you ever had a pretty white girl? Afraid you might rub off on me? ‘Cause you won’t you know, Hosey ain’t, see?” She shows him her belly.

She has him cornered, saying uncomfortable things to the intimidated Christian man, determined to entice him inside.

The mild disturbance attracts the attention of passers by, one of whom is a Latino woman somewhere likely in her twenties, on her way home from her shift at a Boardwalk restaurant. “Why don’t you find someone who wants you, you jezebel. God will strike you dead!” yells the devoutly Catholic woman, with zero tolerance for such depravity.

“This ain’t none of your beeswax, lady.” Jezebel figures that should do the trick.

Instead, the woman of Puerto Rican descent pushes the hooker to the ground, while rushing the doctor down the street and away from the red-light district. Around a few corners and down two blocks, she slows from a trot to a slower gait. “Are you hungry? I am.”         disoriented

He just nods, not knowing if he was afoot or horseback.

“They have good food.” She sees his need for a guide, extending her hand, “Camille Diaz.”

“Doctor A.O. Campbell.” He is settling down. “I would like to thank you for what you did back there. I must be a real country bumpkin.”

“Two specials,” she tells the waitress, who interrupts. “Do you like pot roast? Theirs is the best.”

“Sure, sounds good.” He could eat horse right about now.

disoriented2      “Coffee?” ask the waitress, with a spare pencil on her ear and food stains all over her apron, residue from a long day feeding other people.

Camille Diaz looks at a nodding A.O. “Yes.” She resumes the conversation. “Do not be ashamed for being pure of heart.”

“I still feel addle-headed, can’t change that.”

“Well, if you insist” she relents, speaking with a trademark, but Americanized Puerto Rican accent. Feeling like she must carry their talk, she asks, “What does A.O. stand for?”

“Alpha Omega,” simply stated.

“Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 11, I so love that book. It tells us what we have to look forward to.” It is the second time she has invoked knowledge of God. This, above all, puts the doctor at ease.

“I had a mentor who actually gave me that name. I use it now, mostly ashamed of my real name,” he admits.


Alpha Omega M.D.

by Jammil Deviant Art

by Jammil Deviant Art

Episode #222


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #221

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #221

…But his brother told him to try Melrose Ave. and he will, even though this stretch of street looks a little seedy; unlike any resort the doctor had ever seen…

Atlantic City Boardwalk by Ira Shander

But three days at university is enough and since he was in the general neighborhood, A.O. had suggested, sort of invited himself, to visit his older brother, Hosea in Atlantic City. “My place ain’t much to look at, Alfrey, saw the picture of your digs, not bad.”

“That doesn’t matter, Hosey, I told mama that I’d see you. It would make her feel better. She blames herself for you runnin’ off to Jersey.” Amanda Campbell will die without having seen her 38 year old son again.

“Okay, Alfrey, I live on Melrose Avenue, ask anyone fo me, they knows where I’m at.”

hookers sign

That conversation took place the month before, when A.O. first found out that he would be going to Boston. It is a leap of faith for the doctor, who had the nagging feeling that his generally irresponsible sibling might forget the day of his arrival. But perhaps he will be pleasantly surprised.

Upon arriving at the resort town, he takes a cab to Melrose Avenue. For Atlantic City, a wildly popular summer destination for New Yorkers and Philadelphians, the streets are mostly deserted. If he would venture out to the ocean, he would have the Boardwalk to himself. But Hosea told him to try Melrose and he will, even though this stretch of street looks a little seedy; unlike any resort he had ever seen.

And of course A.O. is impeccably attired, rarely seen without a freshly pressed 3-piece suit, so he sticks out like a sore thumb. Most of the people he passes stare at him, not used to seeing a Negro so natty, with the possible exception of the ostentatious Hosea.

Of those people, some of the female varieties are scantily clad, never mind the chill, with a fetching look on their face, not a stare. He chooses the most proper “lady”, which would be like being the world’s tallest midget, asking, “Could you tell me where I could find Hosey Campbell?”

“Who’s asking, Cutie?” she answers while unfastening yet another button on her glittery blouse.

“My name is Alpha Omega Campbell, Hosea’s brother.” He tries not to stare at the woman’s ample breasts, fearing God would put one or more of his eyes out.

 “I work for Hosey, Alpha honey… and you can have one on the house.”

“What house?” Ignorant and innocent, A.O. should know better. When he goes into Frenchtown down home, less elegant ladies of the evening do exist. It is the oldest profession after all.

What else does he think they are doing on street corners?

“My house, my bedroom, are over there in that hotel.” She points to a three story structure with a crooked neon light, half lit, reading, Melrose Arms.


Alpha Omega M.D.

.Hosea-001

Episode #221


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #220

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #220

Chapter Twelve

CARELESS WHISPERS

…Doctor A.O. Campbell has as much experience on the front line as anyone there, but the entire group is still shaken by the epidemic, having fought the same disease tooth and nail, from every conceivable angle…

New England in Winter

Winter in New England

  ‘What am I doing in Boston in January? asks Dr. A.O Campbell of himself, not particularly waiting for an answer. Had he bothered to respond aloud, he would have said: ‘I’m back at my alma mater, Tufts University Medical School for a symposium on the Spanish influenza and related infectious virus and bacteria’, or something thereabouts, but likely less formal.

It is the first time he has returned to the school since graduating in 1913. Every five years or so, doctors are required to demonstrate that they are staying current, in a field that is progressing as fast as any sector of post war America. There was a time when, thirty or more years ago, when medicine was less technical and more speculative, with certain practicing doctors being graduates of dubious institutions. Snake oils and herbs were used to treat diseases and illnesses with nondescript names like, consumption and the rickets. Anesthesia consisted of either biting down hard on a rag or a bottle of whiskey.

So in the interest of science, young Dr. Campbell, about to celebrate his thirtieth birthday, chugs up the East coast, which sports a blanket of fresh white snow from about Washington north. Floridians are not used to this kind of cold, never seeming to be prepared for these type conditions, even a doctor who should have better sense. His teeth will chatter until he is able to purchase something more substantial than a summer suit of clothes.

It was not the most exciting three days he will spend in 1919, but it was nice to stroll around the granite buildings again. As discussions go among physicians, this gathering is useful, as well as fruitful. There are ideas to be exchanged and the experiences in the field to be related. Doctor A.O. Campbell had as much experience on the front line as anyone there, but the entire group is still shaken by the epidemic, having fought the same disease tooth and nail, from every conceivable angle. A good doctor will learn every day of his or her career. That is what makes a good doctor.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Boston Victory Parade by Charles H. Woodbury

Episode #220


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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


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #214

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #214

…There were as nearly as many burials at sea than had they been sunk…

Deaths ships-001

‘Masters of the Seas’ by William Lionel Wyllie (Text added)

Judith Eastman and Mary Pickford do not put 10 miles behind them on the way to California, when a telegram arrives at the Pearson-Eastman residence. No one is home. It goes undelivered. Had she been there, as Harv had assumed, the piece of yellow paper would have read:

My Project 17-001

MY DEAREST JUDITH  stop  HAVE LEFT PARIS  stop SHOULD ARRIVE NEW YORK 10/7  stop  CANNOT WAIT TO HOLD YOU  stop  LOVE HARV  end

He will regret not sending the telegram from Paris.

In spite of the coming missed communications, so begins an, albeit, short career as a naval officer aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Chesapeake Bay at the age of 63. Those eight days were gratefully uneventful, at least below the waterline.

Above it, it was another story. There were as nearly as many burials at sea than had they been sunk, or so it seemed. The deck by deck segregation worked for a couple of days, but the devil’s disease finally took hold of the Chesapeake, racing from one sailor to the next. The pattern of taking those in their prime, 20 to 30 years old holds true, men who are or would have been husbands and fathers.

Had they had to go to battle stations, a number of stations would have gone unmanned, such was the carnage. They were a floating sitting duck.

  Word from the other ships in the convoy varies. They seem to be the worse-off naval vessel–it could not get much worse. While the troop-transports hold their own, they are ticking time bombs, likely infectious to anyone who comes in contact with them in the States.

The Chesapeake medical officer finally had the good sense to issue every last surgical mask to those who remain, realizing that one does not have to touch a carrier individual, that it is a dreaded airborne virus; the best possible method of transmission.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #214


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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


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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


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