THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 42

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 42

May God bless everyone,” is all Aldona can say, in this all-hands-on-deck, everyone-for-themselves, Turkish Delight  free-for-all.

free-for-all-001

With the trouble heading to the floor above, Afridi leaps into action, “We are leaving this mosque, Allah be damned! They will not leave until they have found me.”

Fatima stares at the Sultan Ahmet Mosque ceiling, where the Deming and the staff are/were sleeping.

May God bless everyone,” is all Aldona can say, in this all-hands-on-deck, everyone-for-themselves, Turkish Delight,  free-for-all.

Fatima Alfridi stares at the Sultan Ahmet Mosque ceiling, where the Deming and the staff are/were sleeping.

“May God bless their souls,” is all Aldona can say, in this free-for-all, all-hands-on-deck, everyone-for-themselves shake-up.

His timing is good, in this case only fair, considering his run of uncanny luck. Upon seeing that the assailants failed to leave a “trailer” to protect the rear; the Afridis show exceptional speed in streaking out the back door, one after the other, to parts unknown.

Parts unknown are a sure thing. Had they waited for protection from US official guard, they would be facing no future at all. Perhaps if they had the powers-that-be listened and taken his story at face value, both they and Afridi would be winging their way to Galveston Texas.

So, without concrete direction and armed only with the Ashtaar business card {the key toabdullah-ashtaar-001 Istanbul}, these four hunted people, throw caution to the wind and head for much needed anonymity. “Us against the world” is not a strange feeling to Afridi, though one he thought would vanish once they reached the American Consulate. But they did not make it and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque is now awash in conflict, innocent participants in a fight for now distant outer space.

Amid the smattering of near-distant gunfire and the rushing stream of sirens, a Mehmet Ali Erim driven something-or-other joins the chaotic scene, Mehmet having worried about Afridi’s safety. From out of the shadows Afridi cries out, “Mehmet, Mehmet,” jumps in front of his taxi, lest he not notice him. Taxi drivers are not notoriously good drivers and the man’s actions cause him to panic, depressing the accelerator instead of the brake. With little time to react, Afridi is thrown up onto the hood.

“Are you mad man? There are better ways to hail a cab than this,” helping the dazed man off turkish-taxi-001his front windshield.

“Aldona!!!” Fatima and the girls rush to the scene.

Mehmet begins to piece things together, “My friend from the train station. Hey, did not things work out with the Americans?”

“We had to leave—THEY have found me.”

“The Americans? You found them. I am confused. I think they believe you.”

“There are others who want me dead.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 42


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 20

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 20

…Out of shear consideration for an ill-advised swimmer, several longshoremen move to hoist Afridi from the frigid drink…

The Longshoremen by John George Brown

The Longshoremen by John George Brown

… Afridi tackles the fifty meter swim to provisional independence; independence not freedom, with freedom attained only with asylum status for him and his family at some rare and highly fortified Western Embassy.

He wastes no time swimming at a record pace, for him, and not overlooked by the gathering swarm of bargemen & dock workers who are up early to start their day. Out of shear consideration for an ill-advised swimmer, several longshoremen move to hoist Afridi from the frigid drink, bantering away in a local unrecognized dialect. Surely they were asking him, What the hell man!”

He nods politely, pretending to understand them, but really only understanding the camel hair blanket given him. Playing dumb is his sole shot at unrecognizability. A single sentence from his intelligent tongue may well tip off any pursuers.

The oldest of these well-meaning men, seems to be on to his plight, considering all the flashing lights on the dusty streetsopposite riverbank. Drawn by the man’s kindness… and his own desperation, he takes the helping hand who leads him away to parts unknown, with the hope of a warm bath, at the bare minimum, at the end of one of these dusty streets.

Once entry is gained, there Afridi meets the better half of his clandestine champion. The ethnic matriarch seems to be upset that her man is not at work, yet somehow gathers some kindness for the stranger in their midst:

cell phone

  • Tepid bath…check
  • Dry change of clothes…check
  • Some kind of meat meal…check

He is worried about his family. ”Do you have a…?” Afridi puts a hand to his ear, the universal cellphone gesture.


THE RETURN TRIP

The Kindness of Strangers by Alberto Ruggier

The Kindness of Strangers by Alberto Ruggier

Episode 20


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #112

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #112

…This has been a day for the ages…

Day for the Ages-001

The crew of the River Queen lowers a rope ladder.

“Hurry now,” urges Captain Longfellow to his remaining passengers.

“Aren’t you coming?” they ask their newfound friend, forged by strife. You learn a lot about people in times like this.

“My job is the safety of my passengers.” Phileas Longfellow lives up to his name, as does Catfish Albert Wright: “And everybody knows a captain must stay with his ship!”

Freighter

The Conquistador

So, as in the style of Noah, two by two the remaining couple dozen passengers of the River Queen are ferried to the foreign vessel. Speaking in a combination of three or four tongues, Catfish Al convinces the Conquistador, a colorful, aromatic freighter, loaded with coffee beans and rum, to drop its anchor and ride out the pending storm, pointing out the hail of lightning and accompanying roar of thunder.

Funnel clouds Fierce winds and torrential rains pummel the Delta once again. Barely a week has passed since the hurricane, now a squall of a different breed attacks from the northwest. Though sparing the immediate vicinity, a pair of funnel clouds can be seen, traveling in tandem to the east. For the privilege of escaping the worst, pecan sized hail rains down on them, accumulating by the inch before they begin to melt.

    Upon seeing welcome sunlight to the west, Catfish Albert Wright doffs a new Sombrero Catite, a spanish hat obtained in a fair game of chance during the storm. He bids adieu.

“If you ever come Tallahassee way, please grace us with a visit,” insists John Ferrell.

“You know, I might just do that. I have been around Old Man River for too many years now.” Al reflects on his life. “Do you have any lakes or rivers for my boat?”

“More than you can count, though I must say that you would raise a few eyebrows and spook all the livestock with that contraption.”

“Wait ‘til they see my motorized bicycle.”

riverboat    About the time the hugs and handshakes have been exchanged, a peek of the setting sun shines on the shifting silhouette of the River Queen. Considerable rainfall, collect by all the tributaries upstream, has swelled the great river above the silt line.

“Look! She’s moving!” James noticed. Cheers and applause overspread the freighter. Phileas Longfellow waves out the window of his bridge, having built up enough steam to set the huge paddle-wheeler to motion.

“What a triumphant moment!” John Ferrell embraces his children.

This has been a day for the ages.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Legends-001

Episode #112


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #110

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #110

…”I told those balloon guys I would help, but I think they think I am peculiar, so they put me off, the fools…

While everyone else fearfully looks for possible shelter, John Ferrell asks anyone who will listen, “Do you know anyone who will go into the Delta?” Not many even seem to listen. Those who do, shake their head no.

He is reduced to entreating a person who looks like a bum/hobo looking sluggard, feeding pigeons on a bench along Bayou St. John. He asks him the same desperate question.

“Catfish Al,” he spits out.

John is taken aback by a response that is a possible answer.

The ragged man simply points to a rickety pier, with a strange craft lashed to its warped gray wood. An interesting chap tends to what looks like a flatboat… with what looks like a motorcar engine and fan blade mounted at the rear.

John Ferrell approaches with caution, not knowing what to make of it. He musters the courage to ask, “Mr. Catfish?”

pilot town“Close enough,” Al responds. “What do you want and why aren’t you runnin’ for the hills like the others?”

“I need to find a way to, I think they said, Pilot Town?”

“Yes, Pilot Town, a delta settlement, down the Great River Road. Hear tell the hurricane wiped it out.”

River Queen-001   More news than John really wanted to know. “I guess… I don’t know… but I do know my son and his wife are stranded on the River Queen.”

“Yea, I heard she’s mucked up.” Catfish Al is nonchalant in his account of what he knows. “I told those balloon guys I would help, but I think they think I am peculiar, so they put me off, the fools.”

“The balloons are grounded and I need to find a way to get to Pilot Town. Can you get me there?” he asks, now cautiously optimistic.

“Let’s go……….” he extends his hand begging for a name.

 “John. John Ferrell.”

  “Come on stranger John, sit yourself at my feet and grab those handles on either side.” Al pulls goggles over his eyes. “I wanted to outrace that northwester anyway.”

Al spins a blade, attached by an axis to a now noisy motor. After casting off tethers, he leaps to a high seat, increases power and away they go, skipping across the water like a skillfully tossed flat stone. They whiz up the bayou, meeting the waters of Lake Pontchartrain at a speed rarely achieved on land or sea.

“Keep your mouth shut!” Al shouts over the roar of the exposed engine and the whir of the blade.

No sooner than John turns to ask, “Why?” a swamp bug splats against his cheek. “Oh.” He scrapes the remains away.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pilot Town-001

Episode #110


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #108

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #108

…Tossed onto the sprawling mud like a toy, fully three hundred yards from permanent water, at a staggering 20 degree angle, the River Queen boasts many survivors…

Aftermath-001

Father Ferrell had thought he would be on his own in his search for James and Abbey, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease.

At least he will not be alone.

At least they are still alive.

Tossed onto the mud like a toy, fully three hundred yards from permanent water, at a staggering 20 degree angle, the River Queen boasts many survivors. But it is horribly out of place at its present semi-dry dock. It may take the spring flood waters to naturally return it to sufficient buoyancy.

Until then, James and Abigail wonder, how on earth rescuers will negotiate the swampy wild, especially considering the pockets of quasi-satisfied alligators; scavenging the dead fish and distressed wildlife. Those who chose a lifeboat that did not stay upright, meet the same repulsive fate. So distasteful is the scene, not even the biggest, toughest, manly man is able to stomach it. In fact, the crew has closed all exterior deck to passengers. They have food and water. A radio will be their contact with the outside world.

80 Days

“I know this isn’t how you expected your cruise on the Queen to end, but things may have turned out much worse,” relates Captain Phileas Longfellow. His foreknowledge of a spectacular rescue effort has him choosing his words carefully. He asks of already shaken cruisers, “How many of you have read the book, Around the World in Eighty Days?” About one-half of the seventy-five hands are raised. “Jules Verne is my mother’s favorite author, the inspiration for my first name. I do not consider myself an equal of Phileas Fogg, but we will soon have something in common with the fictional balloonist of globetrotting fame..”

They are given a firm clue of what is in store. For folks who have never been higher than the fourth floor of a big city building, the thought of ballooning is more than a stretch.

“I can see that some of you may be afraid of heights, but I have been told that it is the only way we are going to get out of here. Those of you who know you have a problem with heights, please come forward and we will match you with people who are not. Remember it is the only way we can get back to New Orleans.”

James and Abigail look at each other. Newly wed, they have much to learn about each other. This topic is one that has eluded those celebrating their golden anniversary.

“I have jumped from the loft in our biggest barn,” Abbey says proudly, speaking of her short term role as a tomboy.

 “I have a tree fort in the tallest oak on Hillside Estate.” James describes his prowess as a boys-boy.

Captain Longfellow describes the operation further. “The Army Air Corps, stationed at Fort Pickens… that is at Pensacola… are sailing twelve balloons from their aerial observation unit. They will begin arriving here in when wind conditions allow, needing a southeast quartering direction for optimum flying. Beside the balloonist, they hold six people. The flights will be spaced fifteen minutes apart. The crew will stay with the River Queen.

Age before beauty“The only bad news is that your baggage will have to wait for salvage operations. So make sure it is labeled and at the staging area at the rear of the ballroom.

“Lastly, as close as we can do it, we are going to evacuate according to the age of the individual or the average age of a family grouping. This is at my discretion–so ladies, please refrain from exaggerating your age–opposite to what you are used to.”

‘Well I never’, is the consensus common comment of women truly over 35, secretly hoping to pass for 45 or 50.

“That would place us on the last balloon,” laments the undeniably youthful Abigail. In the meantime, they have a ringside view of one of the most amazing rescues in the history of this low-lying country.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Phileas Fogg & Passepartout

Episode #108


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #107

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #107

…John Ferrell is most relieved, having thought he would be on his own in his search for the newlyweds, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease…

Aftermath-001

“The animals knew what was comin’,” suggests Willy Campbell, with affirming nods throughout the swaying railroad car he was seated (the 1st-not the last). They too had noticed the strange lack of wildlife as far back as the Ferrell wedding, one week ago. Not to mention domestic creature behavior in the final days.

 “Perhaps that is the answer, yes I declare it is; local weather observers, reporting directly to the Weather Bureau on a daily basis. From Maine to Montana, the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico; temperatures, cloud cover, rainfall… by God even “Bossie’s” milk production or the sudden disappearance of songbirds.

 “Willy Campbell, this is the very reason that you are my right-hand man. You inspire some great ideas.” Love then goes over to Alfrey Campbell, picks him up from his seat next to Doc Ziggy, telling him, “Your daddy is quite a guy, isn’t he?”

The pre-teen merely nods his head. Love can see that the boy’s interest is not in the affairs Related imageof his father. It is the elderly doctor who has captured his imagination. Ziggy plugs the gap in respect by stating, “Let’s hear it for, Willy Campbell, za finest a man can be!”

Applause accompanies the exhortation, embarrassing the former neo-slave. John Ferrell rescues him by asking of Love, “What will be our route?” eager for a stop near the Mississippi Delta.

     Herb Love had anticipated the needs of the Florida group, suggesting, “I think it would be a good idea for your entire contingent to get off at New Orleans. The rest of the train is stocked with aid for Galveston: doctors, food, tents and the like. So if it is all right, I would like to drop you off at New Orleans Union Station and pick you up on the way back through.”

“New Orleans is my town, Herb,” states Jacques Fransoise, as a point of information.

“You have been in Quincy so long; I forgot you hail from Louisiana. Well that is perfect, you all have an experienced guide and with a bag full of medicine thrown in.”

  John Ferrell is most relieved. He had thought he would be on his own in his search for James and Abbey, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease.

At least he will not be alone.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Dog predictor-001

Episode #107


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