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 #13

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #13

…Your letters stopped comin’ over a year ago…

Post-funeral mingling continues…

“We’ll all be missin’ her, Doc, just like we’ve been missin’ you,” offers Edwina Stephens, longtime Frenchtown resident and friend to the family. A warm embrace is given to all in the greeting line.

Second in sequence is J. Kenty Johnson, who along with A.O., was one of the first black doctors in the former Confederacy; numbered lower than 100 for the longest time. “You had the finest possible woman, ‘specially for a doctor, A.O. A single man like me can sure ‘preciate that.”

“Thank you, Johnnie. I know I couldn’ta made it through those early years without her. She was a blessin’ to me.”

“To everyone,” it is agreed.

The slow moving, single file line produces a surprise: Hosea Campbell, the wayward older brother of the doctor, who still looks like his vocation, a purveyor of prostitution. He saunters up respectfully.

“I’ma sorry that I ain’t been ‘round these years, Alfrey,” he speaks to his brother using a nickname only the Quincy Campbells use; Alfrey actually being A.O.’s given name. It wasn’t dignified enough.

“How’d Jersey been treatin’ you, Hosey?” asks Alpha, not expecting what would be coming out of his mouth next.

“Oh well, I’m doin’ okay,” Hosey says, changing to a whisper, “but Angie is worried sick ‘bout you. Your letters stopped comin’ over a year ago. She’s thinkin’ you forgot about her.”

The doctor discretely responds in muted words, “Tell Angela and her mother that I’ll be contactin’ them soon. I was fearin’ the warden’s been spying on my mail, don’t need his knowin’ ‘bout Camille.”

Secrets-001

Secrets are undisclosed facts. You would swear that these liberties with the truth would make a heck of a good story, if they did not make such painful truth. And it’s not as though things got this complicated overnight. Years of careless planning have contributed to current circumstances. 1919 was one interesting year, in the deep dark past and the culprit in several indiscreet situations by multiple offenders.

“Camille is married, did ya know?” Hosey is updating the New Jersey news, as they shunt to an unoccupied corner.

It has caught the doctor off balance. “Married?” There is a slight trembling in his voice, reflecting a tinge of unwarranted possessiveness.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #13


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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 #11

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #11

  …We are here to raise a wonderful woman, wife, mother and human being to meet and be with our Lord and Savior…

Funeral-001

Attending Maggie Lou’s casket are six pallbearers and as well as members of the Strong and Jones Funeral Home, who try to blend in with the proceedings; innocently sticking out with businesslike insincerity, professional mourners, if you will.

Pastor Johnson, on the other hand, could not be more sincere, as if it were his blood sister, instead of sister in Christ, laying still and cold in front of him. He summons the word of God and the courage of David, to properly honor her memory.

BOOK PIC 6 002

A.O. & Maggie Lou

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered this day, a woefully sad day indeed, to raise a wonderful woman, wife, mother and human being to meet and be with our Lord and Savior, who sits at the right hand of God Who reigns in heaven, until the day he comes to judge the living and the dead; the day we believers anxiously await. Our dear Maggie Lou has the privilege to experience this first hand. She is surely a blessed addition to a heaven filled with cherubim and seraphim.”

“Amen, sweet Jesus!” shouts one amongst the many. Pastor Johnson glorifies the Lord most effectively, if not exceedingly.

“A man and Amen to the maker and taker, Father to all, lover of man, Wonderful Counselor!!!” Hands lifted to the heavens, hearts on fire, soaring past cathedral roof and the autumn clouds above.

Pastor adjusts the vest of his three piece suit, runs his hands through his totally gray hair, and corrects his wire rimmed glasses, thereby composing himself as best he can for the rest of the service. It is a memorial observance for the ages.

And even though there are few dry eyes, (the exception displayed mainly by those who attend because of obligation, guilt, or just to be seen) the sincere majority is left with a genuine sense of comfort, verily unsurpassed joy. The past hour has been pure revelation, as they usher Maggie to the steps of Heaven’s Gate.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #11


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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 #9

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #9

…  Samuel Goldblatt III thought he might be able to sneak one past these Southern bumpkins …

Sneaky Sam-001

“Campbell’s property on Tennessee Street is worth millions to you, yet you’ll get it for pennies on the dollar,” the doctor’s son-in-law complains.

“Speaking of percentages, you’ll be getting a good fee for your part, you know blood moneythat,” chimes in George Lewis, the handler of the title arrangements.

“That is blood money to me, George and you best make sure that the Leon County Clerk will see you as the aggressor in this matter,” he implores.

“You will take the money I bet?”

No answer, is his answer.

“Let’s get past the pettiness and get right to the meat, men.” Samuel Goldblatt III does not linger on such trivial things as fragile human emotion. “Ten thousand dollars an acre is the agreed on price, am I correct?”

Samuel Goldblatt III

“It is ten thousand, only if I am the managing partner in the hotel,” Charles Wilson asserts. “Fifty thousand per if I’m not.” Ironically, the latter would obviously be best for the Campbells. But this is not about their welfare, rather the personal gain of the vultures.

Why do we need you Wilson? We could have leveraged our way into your Plaza, you know.”

“We will never know, Sam, will we? I am the sole owner of the Capitol Plaza and the only one who can pull off the land deal you need to erect your tower.” Stated like someone with clout of his own. “And I cannot stand competition, unless I have a stake in it as well.”

Holiday Inns knows full well that if they are going to make inroads into certain markets, regional lords, the holders of their dominion, will have to be players. The word “franchise” is a recent addition to popular vernacular and corporations have instituted these units to bring limited partners into the larger company umbrella. Charles Wilson is an example of a franchisee.

  Samuel Goldblatt the Third thought he might be able to sneak one past these Southern bumpkins; Fat chance.

“Sixty thousand for the lot, purchased by the Holiday Inn Corporation of America, with the Leon County Treasurer the payee, minus 5% real estate fees payable to McLoud Realty,” George Lewis enumerates. “Our attorneys will draw up the necessary papers, including the title search.”

Franklin McLoud stays seated, hands covering his face, disgusted with himself, as the others disburse, each his own way.  For $3000 dollars, he has seriously jeopardized the once proud Campbell Empire. It has been said, ‘every man has his price’, with some lower than others.

“I’ll see you at the funeral, Franklin. Try not to let this eat you alive. Leave that to the gators.” Lewis’ morose analogy disguises his true feelings. He is now the proud owner of two huge secrets – to deal with in the now and in those tenuous times to come.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #9


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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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