In The Sanctuary Of Outcasts_ A Memoir Part 23

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"Good, good," he said. Jimmy squeezed his horn again and peddled off toward the patient canteen.

Ella and Harry eventually made their way down the breezeway and stopped where they always did, just inside the hallway. I stood where I always stood, just inside the inmate boundary.

"You packed?" Harry asked. I nodded. I stepped into the hallway, reached for Harry's hand, and held it in both of mine. I wanted to tell this gentle man that I was honored to be his friend, that his disfigured hand was a symbol-like a unique, broken, beautiful sculpture-that embodied something important for me that I didn't fully understand. I wanted him to know that taking Communion with him, watching Father Reynolds place the wafer in the remnants of his palm, was a privilege and would alter, forever, how I felt about the sacrament. I wanted him to know that a tip of his hat and a smile as he rode past me in the hallways rea.s.sured me there were kind, understanding people waiting outside the gates. But I didn't say anything. As usual, Harry didn't say much either.

Then I turned to Ella. She looked so alive and vibrant. I couldn't possibly say anything adequate to this woman who had every right to be bitter and resentful, but was more content than anyone else I had ever encountered. She had come to exemplify for me what was good and pure and honest and right in all of us, an angel who'd lost her family as a girl, but made a home in a colony of outcasts. A woman whose words had directed me along a new path.

Ella always seemed to know what I needed to hear. "Any words of wisdom?" I asked.



She didn't miss a beat. "Don't forget to go to church."

I wanted them to know that they had been great examples for me. Examples of how to live a simple, fulfilling life, in spite of the facts. I wanted Ella to know that she showed me a new way to view my flaws and strengths. She even influenced how I would be a father to my children. I wanted to tell them both how much they meant to me, but I didn't.

The three of us had an imbalanced relations.h.i.+p. I wasn't nearly as important to Harry and Ella as they were to me. Like the doctors, nurses, and short-term patients who occupied Carville over the years, I was just another in a long line of guests. A transient pa.s.sing through their secret world.

As I stepped away, down the ramp into the inmate courtyard, I didn't turn around. I walked backward, slowly. I wanted to remember everything.

I wanted to remember my good fortune. A prison sentence, anywhere else, might have been lost time.

I wanted to remember the smells and the scenes. The long shadows thrown by the stately white buildings and the sweet smell of dust in the walkways that connected them. The way mist rose from the fairways of the golf course in the morning.

But most of all I wanted to remember Ella. Every detail. The way she cranked the antique handles. The way she twisted in her chair at the dance. The way she turned her disease, the most shameful known to man, into something sacred. I wanted to remember how she held her coffee mug, the way she got excited on bingo night, her smile when she said something unexpected, the joy she found in the smallest encounters, the way her skin smelled like flowers. The way she rested her hand on top of mine when I felt most alone. I wanted to remember her every word. I wanted to remember her especially whenever I was confronted with my own past, in hopes that I could face it with a fraction of her dignity.

I kept my eyes fixed on Harry and Ella. I had no idea what the future held for me. When I stepped outside the gate, I planned to stop at the edge of the levee to see which way the river flowed. After that, I didn't know.

But at some point after I settled in Oxford, I would take Ella's advice and find a church. Not just any church. A place like the church at Carville. Where the paris.h.i.+oners were broken and chipped and cracked. A place to go when I needed help. A place to ask forgiveness. A sacred place where people were not consumed with image or money.

I didn't know if a church like this existed, but if it did I would go. And I would pray. Not the kind of prayers I used to say for miracles or money or advancement. I would ask for something more simple. I would pray for recollection-pray that I would never forget.

I reached the bottom of the ramp and walked up the small concrete steps that led to the inmate hallway. I opened the screen door and looked at my friends again. I wanted to remember them exactly this way. Harry straddling his bicycle. Ella in her antique wheelchair.

I waved one last time, stepped inside the hallway, and turned toward freedom.

Fifteen years ago, as a prisoner, I was welcomed by the secret people. It was an honor I cherish. I left with the hope that I would never forget. But a lesson is never as clear as the moment it is learned. I have forgotten and remembered. Veered off and corrected.

But I am always drawn back. To the place where the river flows backward, where outcasts find a home, where the disfigured are beautiful. At night, I dream about the colony. Sometimes I am lost. Other times, I encounter my old friends. And sometimes, I see Ella. She glides in her chair down the empty corridors. She sways to music I cannot hear. She reminds me there is no place like home. And I know I will always be able to find her. Ella will be waiting for me. In the breeze.

September 4, 2008 Oxford, Mississippi

Ella Bounds in the breezeway.

EPILOGUE.

Frank Ragano's book, book, Mob Lawyer, Mob Lawyer, was published immediately after his release. He died in Tampa, Florida, in 1998. In 2007, the U.S. government released secret doc.u.ments that revealed the CIA was published immediately after his release. He died in Tampa, Florida, in 1998. In 2007, the U.S. government released secret doc.u.ments that revealed the CIA had had paid Santo Trafficante to a.s.sa.s.sinate Fidel Castro. The report claimed all a.s.sa.s.sination attempts had failed. paid Santo Trafficante to a.s.sa.s.sinate Fidel Castro. The report claimed all a.s.sa.s.sination attempts had failed.

After his release from prison, Dan Duchaine Dan Duchaine was paid an unprecedented advance for was paid an unprecedented advance for Body Opus: Militant Weight Loss, Body Opus: Militant Weight Loss, a book he wrote while imprisoned at Carville. He introduced DNP, the primary component of Doc's heat pill, to the bodybuilding world. Its use has been implicated in the deaths of several bodybuilders and athletes. On January 14, 2000, at age forty-eight, Dan died in his sleep of complications related to polycystic kidney disease. a book he wrote while imprisoned at Carville. He introduced DNP, the primary component of Doc's heat pill, to the bodybuilding world. Its use has been implicated in the deaths of several bodybuilders and athletes. On January 14, 2000, at age forty-eight, Dan died in his sleep of complications related to polycystic kidney disease.

In 1994, Jefferson Jefferson moved back to New Orleans intending to open a legitimate franchise. His whereabouts are unknown. moved back to New Orleans intending to open a legitimate franchise. His whereabouts are unknown.

After his release from federal custody in 1997, Steve Read Steve Read sold yachts in Florida. He died of cancer in 1999. sold yachts in Florida. He died of cancer in 1999.

I have had no contact with Link Link since he left Carville. His whereabouts are unknown. since he left Carville. His whereabouts are unknown.

While in prison, Victor "Doc" Dombrowsky Victor "Doc" Dombrowsky was awarded three patents from the United States Patent Office. After his release in 1999, he opened a medical clinic in the Italian Alps to administer his heat pill. The procedure was internationally recognized as an effective treatment for Lyme disease and certain forms of cancer. In 2008, he was found guilty on five of eighteen federal charges related to a se curities fraud scheme. He was sentenced to fourteen years in federal prison. He maintains his innocence. was awarded three patents from the United States Patent Office. After his release in 1999, he opened a medical clinic in the Italian Alps to administer his heat pill. The procedure was internationally recognized as an effective treatment for Lyme disease and certain forms of cancer. In 2008, he was found guilty on five of eighteen federal charges related to a se curities fraud scheme. He was sentenced to fourteen years in federal prison. He maintains his innocence.

Six months after I was released from federal custody, Carville residents commemorated the one hundredth anniversary of the leprosarium-and the closing of the federal prison-with a weeklong ceremony.

Jimmy Harris's self-published book, King of the Microbes, King of the Microbes, sold six hundred copies before he died of natural causes at age ninety-two. sold six hundred copies before he died of natural causes at age ninety-two.

Two funeral services were held for Betty Martin, Betty Martin, who died on June 7, 2002. One at Carville, under the name Betty Martin, with her secret friends. The other in Baton Rouge with her prominent Louisiana family, where leprosy, Betty Martin, and her best-selling book were never mentioned. who died on June 7, 2002. One at Carville, under the name Betty Martin, with her secret friends. The other in Baton Rouge with her prominent Louisiana family, where leprosy, Betty Martin, and her best-selling book were never mentioned.

Annie Ruth Simon remained at Carville until her pa.s.sing in 2002. She is buried next to her husband in the patient cemetery. remained at Carville until her pa.s.sing in 2002. She is buried next to her husband in the patient cemetery.

Ella Bounds died at Carville in 1998. She is buried outside Abita Springs, Louisiana, in an unmarked grave. died at Carville in 1998. She is buried outside Abita Springs, Louisiana, in an unmarked grave.

In 1999, the Public Health Services closed operations at Carville. The patients were given a choice between being relocated to a hospital in Baton Rouge or living on their own and receiving a $33,000 annual stipend. Father Reynolds Father Reynolds watched as the Carville residents were removed from their home, two by two, and relocated to a nondescript hospital wing in Baton Rouge. A year later, a Catholic bishop ordered Father Reynolds's transfer. He now lives in a monastery in eastern Kentucky. watched as the Carville residents were removed from their home, two by two, and relocated to a nondescript hospital wing in Baton Rouge. A year later, a Catholic bishop ordered Father Reynolds's transfer. He now lives in a monastery in eastern Kentucky.

Desmond "Harry" Harrington still lives at Carville. In 1999, he and thirty-six other long-term residents refused to leave their home. Today, he and fifteen others share the facility with Louisiana juvenile offenders. still lives at Carville. In 1999, he and thirty-six other long-term residents refused to leave their home. Today, he and fifteen others share the facility with Louisiana juvenile offenders.

My mother, Jane Stanley, Jane Stanley, graduated from seminary in 1998 and started a church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Gulfport, Mississippi, where she spends her days doing great things. graduated from seminary in 1998 and started a church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Gulfport, Mississippi, where she spends her days doing great things.

My father, Neil White Jr., Neil White Jr., is a federal administrative judge in Alexandria, Louisiana. is a federal administrative judge in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Little Neil is a student at Princeton University. is a student at Princeton University.

Maggie is a student at Davidson College. is a student at Davidson College.

I live in Oxford, Mississippi, where I operate a small publis.h.i.+ng company. I am married to Debbie Bell, a law professor at the University of Mississippi. We live in a log cabin in the woods. She is allergic to cologne.

In 2000, the National Hansen's Disease Museum National Hansen's Disease Museum was established at Carville to preserve the unique history of the residents and the leprosarium. was established at Carville to preserve the unique history of the residents and the leprosarium.

Although 95 percent of the population is resistant to leprosy, approximately 6,500 individuals in the United States have been diagnosed with the disease. The number of active cases requiring treatment is just over 3,000. In the United States between 150 and 200 new cases of leprosy are reported each year. Of the indigenous cases, virtually all are discovered in southern Louisiana and Texas, Gulf Coast areas where there is a high prevalence of leprosy in armadillos.

Though leprosy is now treatable, there is no vaccine; there is no test to determine who is susceptible, and the exact manner of transmission is still not known. Most leprosy patients in America never reveal the nature of their disease.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.

I cannot begin to thank all the people who helped me with this book until I apologize to those I hurt. My deepest apology and sincere regret to Leo, George, and the fine people at Hanc.o.c.k Bank; to Chevis and the Peoples Bank; to my childhood friend William Weatherly; to Joe Casano, who was there to lend a hand; to my bankers, Alan and David; and to Bill Metcalf, who tried to give me a fresh start. I also apologize to a long line of investors who believed in me and lost, especially Elwood, Bill, Gerald, Margaret, William, Sherman, Ernest, Catherine, and Sarah, and to all the other lenders, vendors, advertisers, subscribers, business a.s.sociates, freelance writers and photographers, and friends I hurt. And a most sincere apology to the loyal and committed employees who believed my promises. I am so sorry.

This book is not mine. It is a collective effort of hundreds of friends who took an interest in the story, including Colby Kullman, Christopher Schager, Larry Kadlec, and Cathey Riemann. Thanks for your early enthusiasm for the work. Thanks also go to the following: To Pamela Ma.s.sey, who gave me my first job out of prison. To Ken and JoAnn for giving me a place to stay until I found my footing. To Will and Patty Lewis for opening doors. To Anne Strand for listening. To Duncan for leading the Wednesday night services at the church I'd been hoping to find. To Taylor, Ollie, and St. Peter's Episcopal Church, for everything. And to the good people of Oxford for being more forgiving than I had ever imagined. There really is no place like home.

To everyone who helped with research, fact-checking, and archival images, Tanya Thoma.s.sie, Ca.s.sandra White, Kris Gilliland, Paul Johansen, Vern Evans, Ken Murphy, and Terri Fensel. To Marcia Gaudet, Tony Gould, and Zachary Gussow for writing great books about Carville and leprosy. To Dr. James Krahenbuhl, director of the National Hansen's Disease Program, who helped me better understand an extraordinarily complex disease, and Elizabeth Schexnyder, curator of the National Hansen's Disease Museum, who a.s.sisted in navigating the even more complicated culture and history of Carville. To Anwei Law and IDEA as well as Jose Ramirez and The Star The Star for your opinions and notes on nomenclature. To all my inmate friends who were just too normal to be included in this book and, of course, to the residents of Carville for their generous storytelling. for your opinions and notes on nomenclature. To all my inmate friends who were just too normal to be included in this book and, of course, to the residents of Carville for their generous storytelling.

To my great readers, Karen Bryant, Mary Ann Reed Bowen, Susannah Northart, Margaret Seicshnaydre, Linda, Julie, Tor, Priscilla, Scott, Debbie and Randy, Cheryl and Cory, Liz and Jamie, and the Oxford essayists group. To my writing teachers, Cully Randall, David Galef, Darcy Steinke, Steve Yarbrough, Romulus Linney, Marcia Norman, Tom Franklin, Dinty W. Moore, Lee Gutkind, and most especially Barry Hannah, my friend and tennis pal, who showed me the way when I finally had something to say.

To Carroll Chiles for keeping the store.

To Max and Carrie for Crow's Nest.

To my agent Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management, who recognized the possibilities, waited patiently, and gently nudged me along.

To the wonderful people at William Morrow/HarperCollins for believing in this story, especially Lisa Gallagher for her enthusiasm and Laurie Chittenden for her vision, insight, and patience. The book wouldn't be the same without you. Also to Tavia Kowalchuk for your marketing brilliance, and Seale Ballenger and Ben Bruton for your invaluable publicity work. Also to Stella Connell of The Connell Agency.

To my stepmother, Jill, who was sane in the crazy years.

To Linda Peal for her forgiveness and friends.h.i.+p.

To my strange, wonderful, loyal mother, Jane Stanley, who is best when times are worst. To my father, Neil White Jr., a private man, for supporting me always, especially in this public confession. To Lindsay, for laughing at whatever I do and welcoming the three of us into a new family. To my wife, Debbie, a remarkable partner, editor, and friend who stepped in where Ella left off. To Little Neil and Maggie. They say parenting is a one-way street, but that's not true for us. Your innocent love while "Daddy was in camp" kept it from all falling apart.

To Judge Walter Gex for holding me accountable.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Elwood, Julia, ed. Carville...100 Years: Carville Centennial Celebration 18941994 Carville...100 Years: Carville Centennial Celebration 18941994. Was.h.i.+ngton, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1994.---. With Love in Their Hearts With Love in Their Hearts: The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul 18961996 The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul 18961996. Was.h.i.+ngton, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996.Gaudet, Marcia. Carville: Remembering Leprosy in America Carville: Remembering Leprosy in America. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.Gould, Tony. A Disease Apart: Leprosy in the Modern World A Disease Apart: Leprosy in the Modern World. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2005.Gussow, Zachary. Leprosy, Racism, and Public Health: Social Policy in Chronic Disease Control Leprosy, Racism, and Public Health: Social Policy in Chronic Disease Control. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989.Martin, Betty. Miracle at Carville Miracle at Carville. New York: Doubleday, 1950.Ramirez, Jose, Jr. Squint: My Journey with Leprosy Squint: My Journey with Leprosy. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009.Secret People: The Naked Face of Leprosy in America. DVD. Directed by John Anderson and Lisa Harrison. Boston: Fanlight Productions, 1995.Stein, Stanley, and Lawrence Blochman. Alone No Longer: The Story of a Man Who Refused to Be One of the Living Dead Alone No Longer: The Story of a Man Who Refused to Be One of the Living Dead. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1963.Triumph at Carville: A Tale of Leprosy in America. DVD. Directed by John Wilhelm and Sally Squires. Arlington, VA: PBS Video, 2008.

National Hansen's Disease Museum, Elizabeth Schexnyder, Curator Physical Location: 5445 Point Clair Road, Building 12, Carville LA 70721Mailing Address: 1770 Physicians Park Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70816Web: www.hrsa.gov/hansens/museumEmail: : 225-642-1950; Fax: 225-642-1949The museum is open to the public, free of charge, Tuesdays through Sat.u.r.days, 10:00 A.M A.M. to 4:00 P.M P.M. Closed federal holidays.

National Hansen's Disease ProgramMailing Address: 1770 Physicians Park Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70816Web: www.hrsa.gov/hansens

PHOTOGRAPH CREDITS.

Copyright Ken MurphyPhotograph by Linda PealPhotograph by Neil White Jr.Copyright 1995, Vern EvansCourtesy of Neil WhiteCopyright 1995, Vern EvansCopyright 1999, Terri FenselPhotograph courtesy of Bureau of PrisonsPhotograph courtesy of Neil White Jr.Copyright Ken MurphyCopyright Bruce KeyesPhotograph courtesy of Bureau of PrisonsCopyright 1995, Vern EvansPhotograph by Pamela ParlapianoPhotograph courtesy of Neil White Jr.Copyright Ken MurphyPhotograph courtesy of Neil White Jr.Photograph courtesy of Bureau of PrisonsPhotograph courtesy of Linda PealPhotograph courtesy of Jane StanleyCopyright 1992, Paul Mange Johansen / www.IguanaPhoto.comCopyright 1995, Vern EvansCourtesy of National Hansen's Disease MuseumCourtesy of Neil White Jr.Courtesy of National Hansen's Disease MuseumCopyright 1995, Vern Evans

About the Author.

NEIL W WHITE is the former publisher of is the former publisher of New Orleans Magazine, Coast New Orleans Magazine, Coast magazine, and magazine, and Coast Business Journal. Coast Business Journal. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where he owns a small publis.h.i.+ng company. This is his first book. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where he owns a small publis.h.i.+ng company. This is his first book.

www.neilwhite.com To book Neil White for a speaking engagement, visit: www.harpercollinsspeakers.com www.harpercollinsspeakers.com Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.

In The Sanctuary Of Outcasts_ A Memoir Part 23

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