Tonight I conclude my blog series, “Fantastic Books,” with a spotlight on Up and Down The Evergreen by Trellie James Jeffers. Yes, I am related to this author; Dr. Jeffers is my Mom 🙂 But I still edited her novel– and it’s a fantastic novel!
Here’s the synopsis:
With deft prose and humor Trellie Jeffers tells the story of Jackson Greene, a young black doctor searching for himself during the Civil Rights era. Greene’s struggle to get ahead in a hostile white environment, his evolving attitudes toward women and love, and his journey to find his true purpose in life, is a timeless tale that is still so relevant in our so called “post racial” America.
Cover art and design by Quinton Veal.
Dr. Jackson Greene sat at his desk in the doctor’s cottage of the New England hospital ideally going over his life. It’s 1967, a great time to be alive.
He could not discern why 1967 was better than 1957 or 1947. It was just that this thought came to his mind and he made no effort to justify or deny it. He looked about his cottage, a rather spacious three bedroom dwelling which he shared with two other white doctors.
After the first awkward weeks, the other two doctors had adjusted to living with a Black man. After his decisive effort to convince them that he had no intentions of cleaning up behind them, things went reasonably well. The hardest task of all was that of staying out of each others’ way. And since they were all doctors, even that task was simplified.
Yes, he was rather pleased at how it had all gone. He picked up a book on organic medicine, thumbed absentmindedly through a few pages and then threw it back on the desk. He had become so addicted to the literature on organic medicine, since his common sense had convinced him that what people eat or what they didn’t eat somehow affected their health. He planned to take this thought further in his medical practice. He didn’t know how, but he was sure that he’d find a way.
But right now, with only six months left of his residency, Greene needed to plan for his future. A frown came across his face. Why could he not get any direction for his future? Why? This deeply troubled him. Every time he tried to think about it, his mind began to wander.
I really want to make some money, he thought, as he walked over to the window and peeped out into the early night. It was early winter, and he starred into a blanket of snow that was falling furiously onto the earth. He stood and observed it thinking: I want to buy a home and lovely things for my mama.
He smiled affectionately as he thought of his mama. He always thought of her size whenever she came to mind. She was a little over five feet tall, and less than a hundred pounds even at mid-forty.
Greene took on grave feelings when his mind ventured into the portals of his mama’s life. He remembered well how and when their lives had changed. Though he was only seven years old at the time, he’d never forget how suddenly his father was dead. Their income was gone, and their little house in the lower middle class neighborhood was up for sale. Within months of his father’s death, they moved to the government projects. And his mama, who had always been there to monitor and direct his life, went out and took a job in the sewing factory leaving him and his little brother to partially manage their own lives.
He could see his mama now returning from the factory, tired and lonely and, although she was in her twenties at the time of his father’s tragedy, she had never remarried.
And three years later after his father’s death, his little brother. . . Greene was overcome with grief when he thought of his little brother, Ralph. He pulled himself down on the floor next to the window and stretched his long legs out in front of him. He thought of calling his mama now, but he was not together.
He was confused and indecisive and he didn’t want to trouble her. After all, he was a man, and she had always been there in his childhood. She had loved and guided him through his adolescence, and she was a pillar of strength through medical school. It was time for him to stand on his own feet.
He could see her face now standing proud at each graduation, tears streaming down her face as “her boy” was lauded at the top of his high school class, and ranked Summa Cum Laude in his college class, and ranged in the top one percent of his medical school class. She had stood there, crying both tears of joy and sorrow, as Greene held his six-feet- four frame erect, his ebony skin gleaming with pride, choking back his own tears.
After each graduation ceremony, Greene would rush back through the crowd and find his mama and whirl her through the air, shouting, “I made it, Mama! I made it!”
“Sure, you did, Son!” she would say with pride bursting over her face. And she would put her arms as far as they would go around his broad back and embrace him with all of her strength.
“I made it, Mama,” was always his way of reminding her that he had kept a promise he’d made to her when he was ten years old: that he would make excellent grades and win the necessary scholarship to make himself a doctor.
Lula Belle Greene had never doubted that her son would keep his promise, for he was the image of his father who’d always said, “A man’s word was all that he had.”
She knew the moments after his birth when she looked at his tiny ebony body that he had his father’s smartness, his father’s character and his father’s will to accomplish whatever he set out to do. Whenever she would tell that to her family and friends, they would doubt that she knew what she was saying, and when they would ask her for proof, she never gave any.
But she always looked at him and said: “Son, you smart jest like your daddy. But your daddy never got a chance for book learning. He had plenty of common sense, though. Had he’d lived he’d done a mighty lot wid his life.” She’d put her arms around him and pat his shoulders tenderly and say: “God give you that smartness. You use it. You show the Lord what you kin do wid it.”
Perhaps it was a self fulfilling prophesy. And after each graduation, she would share the adulation of the moment with her son; and then, she would retire to a quiet place to weep, not so much for her dead husband, but for the emptiness and loneliness of her own life.
Greene pulled his knees up to rest on his chin, as he sat thinking of how he wanted to repay his mother for helping him to become what he now was. He had moved his mind back to attempting to make some kind of future plans.
He reached down to pull at a loose thread in the rug. Maybe I should stay here in New England and accept some of the lucrative offers that have been made to me, he thought. I really should call
Mama and asked her what she wants. Surely she has a right to make some demands of me for all that she has given to me.
Greene pulled himself up from the floor as he imagined his mother sitting peacefully under a southern shade tree, watching her flowers grow as he provided her sustenance.
He looked at his watch. It was 6:45, and he was due at the hospital at 7:00. He decided to put the decision aside, and tackle the cold snowy night in route to the hospital. It was bitterly cold outside, as Greene stepped out into the early night.
The cold wind of the otherwise serene night, ripped through Greene’s old frayed overcoat and bit at his flesh. He pulled it tighter around him, and decided to trot to both warm up and to make the time shorter. Since the hospital was only five blocks away he ran the distance in a few minutes, slipping sometimes in the freshly fallen snow.
When he reached the hospital entrance, he paused to get a final glimpse of the night. There was a pink glow in the sky. This meant that the blizzard would get worse, and probably sixteen or seventeen inches of snow would fall.
He shook himself off, wiped his feet, and walked briskly through the hospital corridor to the elevator. He pushed the elevator button and turned to look absent-mindedly about. From where he stood he could see a small lobby containing a few people, all of whom seemed to be busy, except one sleeping man whose legs sprawled out into the floor: his head in his hand, his mouth opening and closing in quick jerks. Greene smiled to himself as he watched the sleeping man.
A microphone over his head, above the elevator, startled him: “Dr. Jackson Greene, Dr. Jackson Greene, please come to the emergency room, a cold mechanical voiced announced. “Dr. Greene, Dr Jackson Greene, please come to the emergency room.”
Greene pushed the button again. “Damn, this thing must be stuck.” he said aloud.
Just as he abandoned his thoughts of the elevator and decided to take the stairs, it rushed down with a loud impatient thud. He rushed in, anxious to answer the emergency call. He reached his floor, bounded out of the elevator and ran frantically toward the emergency room.
Standing in front of the emergency room nervously anticipating Greene’s arrival was Billy Kitrell, his partner in ER for the night. Kitrell had manned the emergency room while Greene and others took a break. They now were all being summoned back to their post.
“What’s up?” Greene inquired of Kitrell. It was an expression that all of the doctor’s used when they were called by microphone to duty.
“We are in it,” Billy announced, fear audible in his voice. Greene’s eyes went pass Billy, searching around the room as if he anticipated danger. His eyes focused upon an enclosed compartment. He threw back the enclosure and went in. Billy followed closely behind.
Greene walked over to a blood-covered sheet where a middle-aged white man lay, his blue face covered with dried blood. Green’s heart raced as he threw back the covers. The sight was an ugly mess. The man’s chest seemed crushed and his breath was sharp and quick.
“Where is everybody?” Greene demanded.
“They’re coming,” Billy assured him. “We reached them by telephone, but your phone didn’t answer so we just kept paging you. But we can’t find a chief!” There was desperation in his voice.
Greene ignored Billy’s fearful voice. “Let me see the X-rays,” he ordered. A nurse raced to get the x-rays for Greene.
“You don’t understand, Jack!” Billy pleaded. “This man’s got to go to surgery and we can’t find the chief!”
Greene, still ignoring Billy, looked carefully at the patient’s X-rays. Jesus, he thought, just what I feared. This man’s ribs are lying in his lungs.
“If we can’t find a chief, this man is going to die!” Billy moaned.
A litany began in Greene’s brain: Die, die; he’s dead. Get the doctor. He’s dead. . .Dead. . . Dead
. . .
“This man going to die!” Billy continued to moan.
“Don’t say that!” Greene whispered fiercely. “We are the doctors. We got to save him. We got to operate.”
“But we can’t operate without the chief!” Billy argued.
“Where is the chief?”
“He isn’t here,” Billy answered, his voice trembling.
“Well, how the hell are we going to operate with him if he isn’t here?” Greene shot back angrily.
Greene was now moving rapidly around the patient, checking vital signs. He frowned when he checked the lungs; then he double checked. Billy looked on, red-faced.
“Nurse,” he called to the female attendant standing nearby, “summon the operating team. We’ve got to get this man to surgery.”
“You can’t do it, Jack!” Billy pleaded. “We can’t do it. We’ll ruin―we might ruin our careers! Suppose this man dies?” The nurse waited to see what the ultimate decision would be.
Dead, dead, he’s dead! He’s dead! Greene heard the chant once more, and he moved his head in an effort to block out the sound. He was seized by a frantic passion.
“Get the operating team, nurse,” Greene urged her, motioning his hand. “And Billy, I hope that you are coming with me! I’m going to need you!” Green shouted while racing to the scrub room.
The full novel, Up and Down The Evergreen is available in print, for purchase from the author at http://tehotep.wix.com/trelliejeffers
Barnes and Noble as a nook book
Smashwords as an ebook
Dr. Trellie James Jeffers was born in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia. A product of Eatonton Colored Schools, she holds a BA degree from Spelman College, an MA degree from California State College, and a Doctorate of Humanities from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). She has spent nearly sixty years teaching from elementary school through college. Her final job was teaching French and English at Talladega College, in Talladega, Alabama, where she taught from 1985 though 2009; and from 1999 to 2009 she also served as Acting Dean of the Humanities at Talladega College.
Dr. Jeffers won a short story contest for her story, Sun Up Sun Down, which was later published by South Alabama Press. She has written numerous articles including: The Black Black Woman and The Black Middle Class, and We Have Heard: We Have Seen: Do We Believe? The Clarence Thomas―Anita Hill Hearing, both of which were published by Black Scholar Magazine; and her article Booker T. Washington: The Mistaken Giant appears in Booker T. Washington: Interpretative Essays (edited by Tunde Adeleke). Dr. Trellie Jeffers is currently completing her memoirs.
Contact Valjeanne Jeffers for editing: email@example.com
Valjeanne Jeffers is the author of eight science fiction/fantasy novels, and she has been published in numerous anthologies. Purchase her novels at http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com and Amazon
She is co-owner of http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com with poet and artist Quinton Veal. Contact Valjeanne for editing, and Quinton Veal for cover art at: firstname.lastname@example.org Their reasonable prices will shock and amaze you 🙂