By sean mcnulty
My friend Dixon’s fadder is an alco, a wino, a sour old souse too. We all know it. Now here he is lyin in a hape along Legion Avenue. I’ve seen him rumbling home from the pubs early in the day before but I’ve never seen him like this. There’s nobody else around on the street. He’s slumped against a wall and there’s a Supervalue bag beside him with a ripped-open box of the shop’s own crispy pancakes. It seems like he’s tried to eat one of them still-frozen because there’s one at his feet with a clumsy bitemark in it.
There’s nothing to do but go help him up but when he comes to he does so with a bang and hits me such a clout.
--I’m oney tryn ta help ya, Mr. Dixon.
--Gway and fuck, he splutters.
I pick up the crispy pancakes and put them in the bag. There’s also some sausages and a pint of milk in dere. WHAT TO DO? The Dixons live the other end of Cox’s Demesne which is too far now for him to walk or for me to try helping him.
--Call home, he spits.
--CALL ME HOUSE.
I realise we’re near McSwiney Street where there’s a phonebox so I help him up and we walk in that direction. I have to hold him as we trip along the cracked pavement. He smells pretty bad. Fags and booze. And daresay piss. It’s hard having to cart the weight of him along – but if Chuck Norris did it in Missing In Action hay I can do it too, I suppose. Anyway we’re not that far and we get there eventually.
I know this phonebox well. It’s where we make the joke phonecalls from. I hope Mr. Dixon isn’t in a joke phonecall mood. Pray he remembers his phone number and he calls home and someone comes to get him. But I hope it’s not Dixon who picks up the phone. Pray someone else answers and comes to get him as I don’t want Dixon to know that I found his fadder lyin in the street. It’s kind of embarrassing, isnit? I’m glad my mam and dad don’t get on like this, even though they do a fair bit of drinkin themselves. I wonder what it is that makes people go from a few drinks to a regular hape on the ground because they’re not all at it. Just some of them. Just some wind up hapes on the ground which is sad.
Mr. Dixon used to be a star in de town. A rock star of the seventies right up until only a few years ago. The Hurrymen they were called. Mr. Dixon was the singer. They played all the hits from back in the day. I heard they were crap but what would I know about that? I’ve seen pictures of Mr. Dixon wearing a red suit and black tie and wit a haircut like yer man Alvin Stardust.
Now he’s a hape on the ground.
--Ello, who’s dat?—Oh, Mary—isit? –Mary, love—It’s me---Me—Yer daddy---where are ya---oh yeah—yer home—where’s de rest---did ye do yer homework—well, do it---but not now—Mary—I don’t know where I am—where am I?
--You’re on McSwiney Street, Mr. Dixon.
--Oh right---Mary, I’m on Shwiney Street---where’s de rest---Can ye go next door to Sam, love—and tell him—come pick me up—wha?---no----eh---I’m in a telephone---tell im ta hurry up.
After he puts the receiver down, Mr. Dixon slumps back inside the phonebox and slowly slides down the inner wall.
Mr. Dixon, don’t fall asleep in dere, I say. Someone might want to use de phone.
Ah, gway and fuck.
I want to go home. But I decide to hang about until the person he called for comes to collect him. If at all anyone does bodder to come collect him. I’ll give it ten minutes and see.
He starts singing after a while and I stand back clear of him.
WELCOME TA THE HOTEL AH-AH-AH-AH
SUCH A LOVELY PLACE, SUCH A LOVELY AHHH
I endure six minutes of this shite and then a wee brown Ford with a Northern reg parks nearby. A man gets out and starts approaching the phonebox. He’s very tall. Aran sweater on. Swanky-looking shoes. Hair like Billy Fury.
--Right, boss, he says to me. Did you help him along?
--I did. I found him up dere on Legion Avenue.
--Good man yourself. I’m Sam. I’m de drummer.
Sam goes into his pockets and takes out a one pound note. Me heart skips a beat.
--Dere ye go, son. Take dat for your troubles. Yer a gud man.
I walk off, and hear behind me Mr. Dixon say Gway and fuck again to Sam as he’s helped out of the phonebox.
I go into the sweet shop on Culhane Street and buy two Stinger bars and a packet of Space Raiders and I’ve still loads left after.
Then I go home and stick on my parents’ Beatles album and swear to myself that if I ever join a band I’m going to be the drummer, not the singer.