Alpha Omega M.D. #56

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #56

…Fitfully, Princess Olla strains her limited abilities to transfer her thoughts to paper…

“The Letter” by Camille Corot

Holiday preparation for Princess Olla is absolutely opposing to that if the family outing in the city. Hillside Estate is empty in the final days leading to Christmas Day, albeit perfect for Olla/Laura Bell to prepare her own special holiday presentation. A gift-wrapped box cannot contain that which she has in store.

    As a matter of fact, she has been making this gift for five months. Hand crafted presents are a tradition for those who cannot afford store bought; lovingly knitted, baked, built or written, with more love and care than anything the Sears & Roebuck Company catalogue can provide by mail. And surely none of the shops in Tallahassee can match the fruits of Laura’s effort.

Fitfully, Laura Bell strains her limited abilities to transfer her thoughts to paper. What to say and how to print it, with just enough literacy, but a wealth of emotional fuel. She takes her time crossing he T’s and dotting the I’s.Laura Letter-001 When she has finished the 180 word letter, she must find a spot where John will be the first, and hopefully only, Ferrell to read it. That will be a challenge, but her gift singles out her employer, whose warmth and kindness makes Laura feel loved, inside and out.

In the end, she chooses to hand delivery method. The stable-boy personally gives the peppermint extract scented envelope to John before he leaves for his day at his stores. He only raises his eyebrows for a second, stuffing it in his coat pocket. Hear no evil, see no evil.

To prepare for her surprise, Laura wears her Sunday dress, a Martha hand-me-down of black silk and satin. It is tight around her middle, but she is still more than comely. She

“The Stable Lad” by Franz Adam

waits for John to ride up on his chestnut charge, on a bench, she has just about worn down as she fidgets. San Luis Lake waves are lapping on the shore, a stone’s throw away.

The December sun sets early on the day of the winter solstice. Overcast skies make night riding prohibitive, so John makes it a point to be home before dark. It has been a typically busy day and did not have the chance to read the letter placed in his hands. He is late enough that his stead finds the way. Here at the stable, in the lamplight, he opens the mysterious envelope that had briefly distracted him that morning, nearly forgotten.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Upstairs Maid-001

Episode #56


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #51

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #51

…Fort Sumter South looks like the countryside of Gettysburg, the day after the battle…

Fort Sumter3-001

The Fall of Fort Sumter South

The road back to Tallahassee runs right past Sumter South, at least close enough to Delivery Truck-001see the Mansion far in the distance. Herbert Love precedes the Ferrell Grocery “Freedom Express” in a Love Dairy & Ice wagon, loaded with supplies. He needs to reach the plantation ahead of the truck, if the smoke screen is to work, that is. Just what kind of reception he will get, when he gets there, is up in the air.

As he approaches the area, a thick black haze hangs thirty feet above the ground. Upon closer view, every structure is flattened. Even the grand three story main house stands amid the smoke. It is a sad scene for foes and friends alike. An evil empire has been reduced to ash and rubble; never in anyone’s wildest dreams.

Oddly, there is no person, white or black, to be seen. Farm animals wander unattended, cattle or horse not knowing what to do in area unfamiliar. It looks like the countryside of Gettysburg, the day after the battle, without the military corpsmen on both sides searching for anyone who may still be alive.

That was the view from the road. Love steers his ice wagon down the lane leading to the main house. Magnolia trees line the way, paired every twenty feet. How fragrant this path must be in spring. The team of horses is reined down to a slow pace, no urgency is indicated. Every appearance points to complete vacancy.

About mid-drive he hears the whimpering of a female cry. Where she is is not as obvious. He applies the wagon’s brake and dismounts to investigate, having seen nothing from his higher perch. After a minute of silence, sobs reemerge but not from the ground, rather from among the large leaves of one of the magnolias he was passing under. Peering up the trunk, he discovers a girl, adolescent he guesses, huddled in the crotch of the tree’s largest limb. She is wearing only a yellow nightie, a sure sign that she fled the mansion in a rush.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #51


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #47

…Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, but he cannot see a thing face down between the rails…

Alive-001

Jacob Haley would have been pleased with the bright flashes and the racket, signs of the slave revolution he had himself worked endlessly to create. But he cannot see a thing face down between the rails, thanking his glorious God for divine deliverance from decapitating disaster.Locomotive      

“He lives! Sweet Mary, Mother of God. Jacob is alive!” the Bleakers cannot contain their cartwheeling joy.

Cheers and tears erupt together. Adversity makes for strong glue.

“What’s all the commotion?” asks the blacksmith, who has been toting Grandma Lettie for three miles now, unaware of the theatrical crossing of the Little River. “Did you beat the train?” What a loaded question that is. Almost, he is told.

Hugging and such stops with one more reason to rejoice,  Lettie Golden has made the crossing, alive no less. ‘But what of Jacques Francoise?’ they ask the smithy.

He heard the hounds out of Sumter and he is leading them a merry chase. Right now I believe he is headed downstream, maybe wetting a line for some trout he calls, “Big Bertha”.

Fort Sumter3-001“Oh and the refreshment lady at mile 3 probably made it to the house up the tracks before the dogs came out, says she’ll get the juicy story at the next meeting.”

A recovering Jacob Haley assesses their status while he listens out of the other ear. It is another mile and a half to State Road 268 and does not want a lucky guess by Jefferson Smythwick interfering with this covert coup. Freedom seems assured. Secrecy must follow.

“Poor Mrs. Ferrell is waiting at mile five, wondering in God’s name what happening. For all she knows, we aren’t going to show, seeing we are nearly an hour behind schedule. She is eager and the doubt will eat her alive.”

Bleaker Brothers-001“We will run ahead and give her the good news!” offer the ever energetic Bleakers, never more than a heartbeat apart.

“She will be thrilled with our triumphs!” Jacob guesses, forgetting that she had recruited husband John. His freight truck will transport the group and their family home will shelter the Campbell family until things settle down in Gadsden County.

“We’d better get going folks. An eastbound freight train is due near dawn and we need to finish up before light.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #47


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #37

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #37

…I do not want my son courting a slave owner’s daughter…

“I find that man more repulsive every time I have to see him!” Harsh words from Phoebe Love, a Godly woman with a good and quiet spirit.

“Maybe that punch is doing his talking,” suggests Martha, “we may have put in too much of the ‘recipe’.”

“Pardon me, no, Mrs. Ferrell, but a man who still keeps slaves garners no sympathy from me.”

Most anyone can tell you that when you want to Martha Ferrell’s lamp lit bring up the subject of slavery. A visitor to their Hillside Estate once made the mistake of referring to her servants as slaves. ‘I beg your pardon, but our people are paid employees and are free to leave any time they choose, though none have. And furthermore we have people of all colors come to our farm and our store seeking work nearly every day, but we cannot hire them all. We keep them on a list and if a position becomes available, the most qualified person gets the job.’ You’ve been warned about getting her started on the subject of slave versus servant. This has been a condensed version on that theme. 

Martha maintains her relative decorum, the time and place not synchronized to withstand her usual ardor, merely stating, “I am going to ask that lout to leave!” decorum with an edge.

“You cannot un-invite people, dear,” insists her husband.

“And I do not want my son courting a slave owner’s daughter!”

“You cannot undo the affairs of the heart,” he reasons.

“I will be his undoing, mark my word!” The flushness of her face is masked by her overly rouged cheeks.

Herbert Love takes the flustered Ferrell aside to confide and comfort her. “You can be assured that there are many folks of like-mind with you.”   

“But I…”

“…of like mind with you, with the will and the power to do something about it.”

      “Are you from that vigilante gang about which I have heard and if so, can I join you?”

“Vigilante is a harsh term, Mrs. Ferrell, but we will be in touch with you. I would keep the night of 4 October and the following morning free.”

Masked by the merriment, secrets, whispers and strategies are discussed as “The Band Played On”.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #37


page 35 (end Ch. 2)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #32

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #32

…Remember Sara and Abram of the Bible, rumor has it that she came late John – she is only fifteen…

The Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club Summer Cotillion is this very night.

“Abigail Smythwick is going to be there.” Agnes knows the reason for her brother’s sudden cooperation. She is the daughter of Jefferson Smythwick, born in his sixth decade to the silence of her mother’s still heart.

“I almost forgot that we sent invitations to Midway and Quincy. They are not as refined as we are, you know, though Abigail’s daddy owns much land thereabouts,” Martha offers what she knows. “Is she pretty, how old is she, does she have any manners?”

“Yes in her own quaint way, fifteen I believe and I hope so, though she did not have a mother to help her.” Daughter fills in the blanks.

John Ferrell adjusts his new bow tie, as he walks by.

Fort Sumter3-001“John, sugar, do you know a Mister Smythwick from Midway?”

“Why do you ask?” he asks – a wondering.

“It seems that your son James has a fancy for the Smythwick girl. She will be at the cotillion this night and I do not want to appear ignorant of our neighbors to the west,” like it was a world away instead of 15 miles.

“Fort Sumter South, wealthy, quite old, I thought… his daughter would be forty. Has James taken a fancy for women the age of his mother?”

“Remember Sara and Abram of the Bible? Rumor has it that she came late John, she is only fifteen!”

He prefers to keep what he really knows about the man to himself. Why upset Martha by raising the still broiling subject of slavery. Her lectures, planned or spontaneous, about the difference between slaves and servants are legendary. They can wear a person out.

“Oh, I see. You mean like Mother Nature’s joke on a woman who has assumed her child Continuedbearing years are decades behind her?”

“That is a cruel way to put it,” she admonishes, “especially since her mother died giving birth.”

“That is too bad, I’m afraid,” John says, snatching his watch fob from out his vest pocket. “Say, we best be going, that’s if you want to set the tables before everyone arrives.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #32


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #28

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #28

… members  of GCASS come from all walks of life, ages, backgrounds and beliefs; eager, everyone, to join a band of principled folk heroes…

Anti-slavery organizations have been in existence since before the War Between the States. This one in Gadsden County Florida is sneaky, if not low-down & dirty. They are so smart and clever, that nary a person in the Panhandle knows who’s in and who isn’t. Without fanfare, credit, glory, honors they provide dignity, sometimes one person at a time; faithfully for more than two generations.

And it certainly does not hurt to have your members come from all walks of life, ages, backgrounds and beliefs. Eager, everyone, to join a band of principled folk heroes; understated champions of humanity, who happen to risk their lives in the process.

Jacob Haley is the present president of this 19th century band of merry men. He has the lead role as Robin Hood, but doubles as the superintendent of the Quincy Consolidated Schools. It is the kitchen of the Stonewall Jackson Middle School that, not only hosts this month’s meeting of the Gadsden County Anti-slavery Society, but feeds them as well. These men will be absent from their respective dinner tables.         

“School food has improved since most of us were kids, right guys?” Haley both asks and states his case.

“What are these brown things?” quizzes Jacques Francois, with his apothecary’s curiosity for ingredients.

“You mean next to the noodles? Well, I’d guess meat, but I’ll check the menu about what they are calling it–here it is, Barn Yard Surprise. No, I’m kidding. We do have a dietary aid on staff, so whatever it is, it’s nutritious.”

“Nutritious and delicious!” offers another member.

“Eat more peach cobbler, if you have to. And remember, next month’s is at Smithy’s Livery… I believe hay is on the menu.”

“Now, if we can get down to work, we’ll all be home in time to kiss our kids good night,” a gavel-less call to order.

There are plans to be made and a job to be done.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #28


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #27

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #27

…Ol pigface can smell trouble a mile ‘way–and we can smell him too…

“To be honest, that is precisely why I am here. I want to give you the opportunity to get off Sumter–get away from that Smythwick for good!” Herbert Love means business.

Campbell instinctively looks around, to see who might be listening in. He hears stories of the Underground Railroad, but that was long ago and there were dozens of stories circulating about horrible endings to miserable ordeals. At least he can now claim food, clothing and a waterproof roof for his family; the three keys to happiness in his mind.

“I hope you are seriously considering what I am saying.” He senses the all too familiar, deep-rooted fear of a downtrodden human being. There is a group of men in Gadsden County who are determined to take the legs out from under what’s left of slavery. The loss of you and your family should expose Jefferson Smythwick’s underbelly and show him for the enemy of decency that he is.”

“I’za know what ya sayin’, but terrible harm may come on us.” Willy rubs his temples that are throbbing with doubt. “And there’s ‘Manda’s mamma. Shoot, ol’ woman’s better days be behind ‘er… she’s been sickly, ya know, coughin’ and weezin’.”

“I think we have come up with a plan that will ensure the safety for all of your family. The men are all meeting tonight to put the finishing touches on the plan. But I have to tell you that we have an alternate scheme, involving another family, should you decide to stay put.

“So please talk this over with your wife and mother-in-law, think it all through. I will be here at the station this same time, every day for seven days. If you do not come back, that will be our answer.”

Just then, the boy and the bird enter. “Daddy, look at what I did fo’ the sparrow,” Alfery interrupts proudly. “I bandaged both wings together so he can’t hurt hisself any mo’.”

“Looks like doctor material to me, Willy, how about you?”

“When is yo’ plan fo’, Master Love?”

“We are looking at early October… the start of fall harvest.”

“I’ll bea seein’ you in a couple a days, maybe three. I don’t wants to makes them ‘spicious ‘bout anythin’.Ol pigface can smell trouble a mile ‘way–and we can smell him too!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #27


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