William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Twenty-Three

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“Unbelievable.”  Alice took in Carson’s apartment.  In size, coolness, and by any other measure, it surpsassed hers by an infinate measure.

Carson smiled.  “A man’s home is his castle.  Also his prison.”

“This is like 3,000 square feet.”  Alice admired the open kitchen, the couch pod by the fire and the glass blocks that concealed a bedroom.

Carson wheeled into the kitchen and produced a bottle of wine.

“I thought you lived with your parents?”

“My dad and my stepmom live upstairs.  They pretty much leave me alone.”

Alice stared at a framed movie poster.  “Oh, my god, is that real?”

“Which one?”

“White Zombie?  I loved that movie.”

“Yes, it’s real.  All of them are real, except for the Count Yorgas.  And nobody loved White Zombie.  It was marginal.”

“I loved it.”  She pointed to the next poster.  “But not as much as I loved Mr. Sardonicus. ‘When the master tells me to do a thing’” she said with a haunting voice.

“’I do that thing,” Carson finished the line.  He stared at her.  “I think I’m in love.”

“What, do you have like a hundred posters?”

“Twenty-four, but I’m working on the collection.  Like I said, only the Yorgas are fakes.”  He handed her a glass of wine.

“Thanks,” she said.  “But Count Yorga himself was fake, a derivative vampire if there ever was one.  I didn’t know you liked old horror films.”

“Love them.”

“This is a sweet place” she said, drinking her wine.  “I live in a little rat hole with three other students, two of whom are anthropologists.  We live in poverty.”

“Let me show you my command center.” Carson wheeled over to an alcove fitted with low tables and several computers.

“What is this, NASA?”

He beamed.  “I got hooked up with this support group some years back; guys like me.  And these guys have mostly government jobs because the government hires guys like us at a statistically higher rate than industry.  What this means is that I have contacts.  I can get access to stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“Stuff like this.”  He handed her a copy of Karen Sorrows’ birth certificate.

Alice read the details.  Karen Sorrows was born in 1999 in Cartersville, Georgia to Muriel Sorrows.  The father was listed as Dobs Dewey.  Karen was a twin; her brother Kevin was also noted.  “I don’t think you need any special clearance to get documents like this.  Birth certificates are public documents.”

“Do you know anyone in Cartersville, Georgia, who would be willing to sift through public documents to get you information?”

“Point taken.”

“I have a death certificate for Dobs Dewey, a itinerant worker who favored  periods of alcoholic revelry.  He died in Atlanta in 2001.”  Carson pulled another document from the folder.  “Muriel Sorrows worked as a maid in suburban Atlanta until 2003 when she was killed in an automobile accident, at which point, the grandmother took custody of the children.  Millicent Sorrows,” he read from a page of notes, “a retired nanny.  No birth certificate.”

Alice shook her head.  “Birth certificates get lost all the time.  Give me some more wine.”

Carson refilled her class.  “I asked some of my peeps to work on this.”

“Your peeps?”

“My peeps, yes.  I put out a request for information on Millicent Sorrows.  And I got some interesting results.  Will you have sex with me?”

“No,” she said.

“Do you know anything about slavery?”

“Sure.  About as much as the average person.”

Carson rocked his wheelchair back and forth as he read from a page.  “In September of 1835, a Georgia planter of cotton and flax by the name of Morgan Sorrows purchased four slaves at an auction.  Thosee slaves were then baptized and given Christian names.”

“You found records on this?”

Carson nodded.  “Only because Morgan Sorrows became an abolitionist in his later years.  In 1850, still some years before the outbreak of the Civil War, he freed his slaves and gave them the option of land or money to travel north.  He was murdered in 1852.  No prosecutions but it appears likely that neighboring landowners were complicit in the crime.”

“This is documented?”

“It is,” Carson said. “His daughter kept diaries which are curated at Georgia Tech University.  Hardly anyone looks at them.”

“Tell me more,” Alice said.  “Don’t be a tease.”

“I have so few opportunities.”  Carson grinned.  “One of those slaves that Morgan Sorrows purchased that day in Atlanta was a young girl who was given the name Millicent.”

“So this was some great-grandmother of Karen.”

Carson placed the folder on his desk.  “I thought that too,” he said.  “but Morgan Sorrows’s daughter kept financial records.  She notes that twenty of her father’s twenty-four freed slaves traveled north.  Three stayed in exchange for land, and one took the money and bought a cabin in Cartersville, Georgia, the same property that is registered to the current Millicent Sorrows.”

“So what?  So the family stayed local.”

Carson shook his head.  “I think it’s the same woman.  I think she’s really old.”

“Get out.”

“I’m serious.  I think Millicent Sorrows is Karen Sorrows’ grandmother.  I think she gave birth to a daughter, Muriel, in 1960, when she was about 140 years old.”

Alice stared at him.  “You are a fucked-up dude.”

Carson refilled his glass.

“You believe this?”

He nodded.  “We’re looking for human longevity, right?  It’s all around us.  I think Karen Sorrows is a very special girl and I think she’s going to be alive for centuries.  I want to know why.”

Alice drank her wine  “We need to talk to Karen.”

Carson shook his head.  “We need to talk to grandma.  Cartersville is just outside of Atlanta.”

“Are you serious?  You want to visit her?”

Carson smiled as he showed her the plane tickets.

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Written by williamdoonan

February 21, 2013 at 4:39 am

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