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


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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


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #190

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #190

…Captain Silverio claims, “I have every issue of the Pearson-Eastman Journal filed away in my cabin.”

Theodore-Roosevelt-on-horse    “Welcome aboard, folks,” greets the captain, one Barnabas Silverio. “It’s a rare day when we have such famous passengers.” He points to a copy of the P-E J’s first issue, Teddy Roosevelt standing next to his favorite quarter horse, on the cover, as well as June’s arts issue featuring Pablo Picasso. “I have every issue filed away in my cabin.”

  …………..

Harv rolls around some numbers in his head. “That would be nearly 65, sir. We are honored to be in the company of such an avid reader.”

“Why do you think we volunteered to give you safe passage? Your magazine has shortened my every voyage, showing me what is going on, on land. So, when word was out that you wanted to get to Europe, we moved some of our trips back, including Henry Ford and his crazy idea about making us a peace ship. We have to take advantage of these open seas. We must keep the bullets coming or there won’t be a Europe to save, at least as we know it.”

“I guess we won’t be doing another Ford article anytime soon,” Harv surmises.

   “Woodrow Wilson may be out as well,” comments Judith about the President, who has done everything he can to keep America out of the war. He must have something to do with allowing Henry Ford to try his hand at diplomacy.

“Don’t you worry now,” Silverio assures, with a hint of an Italian accent. “He didn’t make up his mind soon enough, plus we will have to repaint the Oscar, with the flags of the Allies and the Centrals no less.  I might just put her in dry dock ‘til the war is over, wait to see if the Swedish flag still exists.”

“We look forward to safe passage, regardless and the chance to capture the essence of a world at war.” Harv shares his vision of untainted coverage.

  “I believe you will.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #190


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #181

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #181

…somewhere between Willy being freed and the present, the whole Charlie Blount incident seems to have been forgotten or maybe just ignored…

Cinderella and the Birds by English School

Cinderella and the Birds by English School

In order to pull this impersonation off, Harv needs to let loose his grip on the English language, as well as his prized goatee. Judith, on the other hand, needed a great deal of dressing down, like pre-castle Cinderella. Sort of like painting gold, black; going as far as having to go corset-less to look less attractive, in clothes that would make a queen look like a pauper.

“Anything For a Good Story” is an apt motto. So is everything for a story such as this. The P-EJ (as Pearson-Eastman Journal will be known from this point forward) goes so far as planting an operative in the Calhoun County Sheriff’s office, though there is no longer a real sheriff’s office; just Hank Blount and a band of marginally qualified vigilantes. That, by itself, would have been reason for the federal government to shut down the machine, Company Town-001but if one is going to properly expose the depth of malignant social behavior, extra effort is in order.

This will prove to be the best move they could have made. In the revolving door Modus Operandi of Blount-dominated Calhoun County, there is room for an impostor to get, not only a good look at the level of corruption, but a bulging eyeful. This unnamed member of Cyril Odz’ Gadsden Co. force, blends in and soaks in an amazing amount of graft; that which relates to the Willy Campbell incident and beyond.

It goes so deep that even the public schools teach what Blount wants them to know. Young minds are tilted toward the twisted leanings of a misguided superintendent – yes of course, Blount.

And somewhere between Willy being freed and the present, the whole incident seems to have been forgotten or maybe just ignored, in order to head off just such an investigation that is covertly continuing. Hannah Fielding shows up out of nowhere, without child and telling Judge Grant that Charlie Blount had indeed been going too fast. The traveling salesman makes a curious stop at the Liberty County Courthouse, saying he did not know who was driving the truck and that they (Willy and Clete) were trying their best to help Charlie and Hannah. They have a funny way of treating heroes out this way.

But there are other Willy and Cletes out there, who unwittingly fall into the cracks in this world unto itself; where rights are few and wrongs are many. Most people have learned to go around this river crossing, using the one up Rosedale way. Those who insist on using Route 20, do so at their own risk. People disappear, either never to be found or found later in a 4 x 4 cell.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #181


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #180

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #180

…Harv and Judith Pearson have changed places with a Blountstown family man, a worker in the Blountstown Granary with a wife and two children…

Company Town-001

The fall of 1908 contains a Presidential election, which would likely mean that Teddy Roosevelt would be re-elected, despite a country awakening from TaftWHdepression, but true to his word, he does not run for a third term. That speaks volumes for the man, going out while you are still on top.

The nation dips back into the state of Ohio for their president, an assassin’s bullet inserting a New Yorker in between. William Howard Taft will end a twelve year pipeline connection between Washington and Tallahassee. Even though Taft had been “Rough and Ready Teddy’s” Secretary of War and staunch tactical executor, he shares none of the friendships, only policies.

  But, a big but at that, Roosevelt will not leave office until March 9, 1909, four months and three days away. Until then, he will support his supporters, up to and past what is considered usual and customary.

Just like a million other Americans, he reads the Pearson-Eastman Journal faithfully and its December feature, sure enough, “Bigotry and Corruption/Beyond Emancipation and Above the Law”, has caught his eye.

Told in a way that can only come from an insider, having to live their lives in harmony with the rest of the community, Harv Pearson has changed places with a Blountstown family man, a worker in the Blountstown Granary with a wife and two children. Before you jump to conclusions, Judith plays the part of the wife and mother, who just happens to contract an extreme interest in photography. The middle-teen-aged children are the sole reality, looking at this charade as a change of pace, time away from parents who keep very much to themselves. Real Mom and Dad are treated to a honeymoon in New York, once considered an unnecessary luxury, before life got “Blountified”.

As in most undercover stories, these fifty-ish journalists need a physical transformation. Harv and Judith look young for their age, the former having more ground to make up, but becoming a lower class working couple proves to be most difficult.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #180


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #159

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #159

…”Now get out of here, while I teach Miss Judith that the rooster rules the henhouse…

“Harv, Judith? Uh, here is the world of Emmeline Pankhurst.” Stanley,the copy editor lays the photos gingerly on the desk.

 Pankhursts“In all her rebellious splendor?” Harv remembers the spirit of the woman they had met in London two months before. “And those daughters of hers, what pistols they are.”

“Christabel and Sylvia.” Judith was deeply moved by these women, to the point of feeling just a bit timid by comparison. If only she could carry out her convictions like that. “I admire how they function as a unit.”

“And drove Mr. Pankhurst to an early grave.” It’s a man’s inalienable right to defend his own, in this case, a short effort.

“I am surprised to find you here, Mr. Pearson, with that earthquake in San Francisco and all,” mentions Stanley, who has watched them leave the office, to parts unknown, with bags that are perpetually packed, without so much as telling a soul.

Quincy Reporter-001

“San Francisco! We almost forgot!” It had been overshadowed by something more significant to them. Revisiting that moment, Harv shifts to lower gear. “We’re going to let the Quincy Reporter have first crack at that story. Jackson (its new publisher) deserves a good start, right Miss Judith Eastman-Pearson?”

She smiles with a heart which has peace, at long last.

“You two are final… uh… getting married?”

“That is why we like you, Stanley, you’re the brightest candle-on-the-abra,” jokes Harv, wrongfully assuming that their imminent nuptials are obvious to even the most casual of observers.

“That is great! Can I tell everyone?”

“I don’t know, can you?”

“Oh, Harv,” he relents, “may I?”

“Yes, you may, Stanley and don’t let this one give you a hard time. And if the truth be known, I practically had to drag it out of him… one stuttering word after the next.”

Now get out of here, while I teach Miss Judith that the rooster rules the henhouse.” Tongue firmly in cheek. “And stay on top of San Francisco for us. We may have to call the wedding off if things heat up.”

“It’s already on fire, no water to put it out, they say.”

“There will be nothing left for us to report about. Give the Wright brothers a call, see if they have a three-seater that will travel 2000 miles or so.” Harv had actually talked Judith into taking her camera up for one of Wilbur’s test flights, during their expose on the Dayton duo. Her knees knock at that very thought.

“Enough nonsense!” Judith screams. “Send the best available photographer out there, as soon as possible. At least the Journal will have a presence there.”

“How about me?” asks the new presence here, standing in the doorway, an Eastman himself.

“George! How long have you been there?” his sister wonders.

 “Just long enough to offer my blessing and my services, you rascals.”

Hugs, handshakes, kisses break out in epidemic proportions, as rest of the staff begins their Thursday workday with the best news they’ve heard since the unexpected size of their first bonus. Instead of advertisers waiting in line, they look forward to a reception line. No greater respect and affection can co-workers have than these.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #159


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #157

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #157

…Harv Pearson is the nearer to the telegraphic news ticker, so he picks up the end of the two foot and adding paper ribbon, reading his way back to the busy machine…

Tickertape machine

Chapter Nine

SHIFTING SANDS

“What is coming through the wire?” asks Judith Eastman. “It looks unusually long.”

She is speaking to Harv Pearson, in a rare moment when they are in their Rochester office simultaneously. One or the other or both are on the road most of the time.

“Might be a test run. It’s a bit early for news and there hasn’t been anything worthwhile for weeks,” certainly not of the human interest variety, the kind that makes good pictures and good press.

They are at the mercy of the news and news makers. Beginning with their first issue of the Pearson-Eastman Journal, the blockbuster interview and pictorial of Teddy Roosevelt in the American West, they had set the standard for finding great stories, combining the two mediums into a must read for millions of readers, i.e. subscribers.

Harv is the nearer to the telegraphic news ticker, so he picks up the end of the two foot and adding paper ribbon, reading his way back to the busy machine. He keeps adjusting his reading spectacles like they must be distorting the words.

“Does the cat have your tongue?” asks Judith playfully; curious as to why his mouth is hanging open without so much as a peep.

“We’re headed for California,” he says simply.

“Another gold rush?”

“Only if the U.S. Mint isn’t earthquake proof.”

“You don’t say.”

“Read for yourself,” he hands her the start of a frightening account. “It’s on fire, Judith, my God, it’s only after 5 o’clock in the morning there. Most people were sleeping when it hit, I would think that casualties are high.”

“We wouldn’t get there for three days.” She recounts the train ride back from Yosemite, in the Journal’s inaugural days.

“There is nothing else going on.” He laments the fluffy content of their magazine of late, though no one in their right mind would wish disaster on anyone for the sake of news. “If I know Jackson (his editor at the Quincy Reporter) we’ll be lucky if we beat him there.”

“You mean your newspaper has room in the budget for that?”

 “He watched me chase stories for years, not standard procedure for a small town rag, but I own it. He does not take that into account. If I told him he couldn’t, I would lose my Quincy Reporter-001credibility. The Reporter has the reputation of getting a big story first hand.”

“So, why don’t you sell him the Reporter?” This is not the first time she has suggested that move, for mostly selfish reasons that include taking away the one threat to his continued and permanent presence in her life. She has passed that point where she has enough emotional fuel for a return trip to her once lonely world. If only he would take that final step concerning their relationship; a proposal of betrothal instead of status quo-sal. “I mean, he has been running it without much help from you for five years now, something he pointed out when you were too busy to buy those new printing presses. The poor guy is working himself to death while you are doing a scant imitation of William Randolph Hearst.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #157


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