I've spent half a century writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
We was all down there on the dock, having spent a good part of the evening boozing at Paddy's when we see Banjo reeling towards us. By the look of him he'd been boozing as well, which ain't unusual for Banjo. He was clinging onto a bottle of Blindeye like it was the last bottle in Pickle Harbour.
Just as we was a'getting ready to holler something to Banjo he lurches to the edge of the wharf and takes a swig from his bottle. You could plainly see by the look the come over his face that he'd already emptied that bottle. Now, Banjo ain't a happy man when he's out of Blindeye; so he stands at the edge of the wharf, looks at his bottle, cusses, and heaves it into the water.
But, Banjo ain't a man who can easily say goodbye to a bottle of Blindeye, even an empty one; I mean, to Banjo, life without Blindeye ain't really life at all. He stands there for a while watching his bottle bobbing in the water and then, all of a sudden, he follows her in. Now, Banjo is a powerful built man and he makes quite a splash. By the time we gets to the edge of the wharf, all we can see of him is a few bubbles.
We stood around for a while wondering what to do, and nobody was getting all-fired up about going in after him, when he floats to the surface, belly up, with a big smile on his face. We don't know what he met up with down there at the bottom of the dock, but, by the time we've hauled him out and laid him on the quay, he looks like he's been introduced to a killer shark in a bad way for a meal. Lost a lot of blood too, by the look of him.
Can the Doc Save Banjo?
Some of the lads were all for trotting him straight down to the mortuary to save wasting good drinking money on the Doc. But, some of us knows Banjo better than that, and are of the opinion that it will take more than a shark, that's only had time to do half the job, to finish him off. So, we picks him up and trot him off, at the run, down to the Doc's.
We lay him out on the Doc's table and, in the light, he looks even worse. One of the lads is all for nipping off to the Town Hall Park and getting some flowers to put in his hands. But, the Doc takes a good look at him and says “Blood transfusion,” him being a young Doc with a lot of new-fangled notions.
The Doc starts sticking this needle into poor old Banjo. The Doc says he's taking a blood sample for grouping to find out what sort of blood runs through Banjo. We could have saved him the bother of all that fancy needle-work, because any man there could have told him the blood would turn out to be about 80 percent Blindeye and the rest what used to be Banjo's blood.
The Doc says Banjo's blood is a mighty rare type. What he said next turned out to be something you wouldn't hardly credit. He says it's a rare grouping and the only person in town that matches it is the Preacher. Most of us were of the opinion that if Banjo knew he and the Preacher shared the same blood grouping he might not pull through.
But, the Doc says he needs to the Preacher to save Banjo; and we says, no disrespect but the Preacher's going to need a powerful lot of help from above if he's going to get that job done in one night. The Doc says he'll get it so off we set, at the run, to fetch him.
The Preacher to the Rescue
Now, the Preacher, by my way of thinking, has some mighty strong ideas of his own about Banjo and might have thought the best thing we could do, for all concerned, was to pitch him back into the dock, and let that killer shark finish off his supper. Only being a Preacher, and not able to speak his mind straight out like a normal man, and being mighty strong on the love thy neighbour as thyself stuff, he has no choice but to come along with us. So off we set, at the run, back to the Doc's place.
When he sees Banjo, the Preacher says “Poor soul, may he rest in Peace,” only he sounds as though there isn't much chance of that happening. He looks around at us and seems to be picking out the best recruits for pall bearing. Then, the Doc comes over and tells him to take his coat off and lie down beside Banjo. The Doc starts rigging things up for a blood transfusion.
Now Banjo's lost such a mighty lot of blood down there in the dock that he keeps a'taking that blood; and the Preacher, who don't have no choice in the matter, he keeps on a'giving.
After a while, Banjo starts to look better but, by the time he's sitting up and hollerin for a slug of Blindeye, the Preacher is beginning to look pale and tired. In fact, he's looking so bad we are of the opinion he's about to start knocking on the pearly gates.
Just then Banjo looks at the Preacher and he stops his hollerin' to ask what the hell is going on. We tell him what the Preacher has done, and are getting ready to duck when Banjo starts throwing things about. But Banjo gave us another surprise that evening, when, meek and mild, he says “The poor old Preacher ain't looking so good.”
The Doc says that's on account of his loosing a lot of blood. Banjo looks at the Doc and yells “What in the hell are you waiting for? Just you get busy and start putting some of that blood back where it belongs.”
The Doc can't think of anything better so he starts putting all of his gear in reverse, and, after a bit, he's pumping blood from Banjo back into the Preacher.
By the time the Preacher gets the colour back in his cheeks and sits up to ask for a glass of water, Banjo ain't saying so much about that slug of Blindeye.
Eventually, the Doc's got things nicely balanced out, and he has them both conscious at the same time, so he reckons it's about time to put the plugs in and pack up his gear.
But, there ain't no one can say how much of the Preacher's blood Banjo has or how much of Banjo's blood the Preacher has. Which, by my way of thinking, explains what happened the next Sunday, did happen.
There's always a good crowd turns out hear the Preacher on Sundays because he's a mighty powerful preaching man, even if he does come down a bit heavy on hell fire and the wrath to come.
It ain't unusual when he's going on about the damnation awaiting sinners for some people to start a-fidgetin' in their seats. But, that Sunday when everybody settles down to hear a rip-roarer, he comes out with his text as gentle as a lamb; “Take a little wine for thy belly's sake.”
I don't know if that's in the Scriptures or not, but it was only the beginning, because he did find plenty to quote from later. About how Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding, and he says if it's okay for Jesus it must be okay for the rest of us.
A lot of it was high-talking stuff above my understanding, but it all kinda sounded like he thought there was nothing wrong with the occasional booze up. And, by the looks of the prissy-mouthed ones and the hot tea-totallers, that's the way it sounded to them.
I say that those who turned on the Preacher after that, and there was plenty that did, were a mighty uncharitable lot, because they all knew what he had done for Banjo.
© 2022 Rupert Taylor