It’s so hot here at the moment. My flat feels like a Bayou summer and today I had to get out of it. I took my bike to the park. Botanic park. I stopped off to buy some cigarette papers, a notepad and a bottle of fizzy water.
There’s a spot in the park that I like to go to away from all the crowds of people. It’s private and is a natural bowl shape beside a little stream and a tiny pond.
When I got to my favourite spot I noticed some men gathered beside the little pond and then I noticed the man lying on his side. I could hear the men talking about lots of blood. I didn’t see any blood but my curiosity drew me down the hill towards them. There was an old guy lying on his side wearing what looked like a water-proof snow outfit. There was quite a bit of blood.
I kneeled down beside him to help him. The two park keepers that had found him had already called for an ambulance. The blood was coming from his mouth and it was such a deep ruby red colour and looked so thick. I told him to look at how deep red his own blood was and that he probably wasn’t an alien as it would be green. It made him laugh a bit.
I spent about half an hour with him. His name is Davy Mawhinney. He’d drunk a litre bottle of Captain Morgan’s rum that morning and lack of food, dehydration and intense heat had all got the better of him and he’d just passed out into the pond hitting his cheek on the way down. He’d lived in Bangor for 10 years but had come back to Belfast to look for his estranged daughter Holly who is 15. By the sounds of it his ex-wife and daughter have moved on and don’t want to know him.
He was 62 on Father’s Day and had lost both his parents in the past month and drink seems to be the only way for him to cope. He sleeps outside in any quiet place that he can find. Last night he drank 3 bottles of Frosty Jacks which is a really strong cider that tastes of chemicals. I told him he should switch to drinking rum at night and cider for breakfast.
The ambulance guys arrived to check him out but he was adamant that he did not want to go to hospital. He kept repeating that he was a stubborn man. I gave him my bottle of water which he very much needed and appreciated. I liked him. He had a beard which really needed a trim and he had a silver hoop earring in his right ear. He was kind of a dude if you looked past the booze sozzled eyes. The police came along then so I hung out with them all until the homeless help team came along. He told me his blood was royal and that he definitely wasn’t an alien that he knew of, then he fondled his unkempt beard and laughed.
He finally agreed to go with the homeless help team to get more water so they helped him up with his stick and his wet socks and he hobbled off with them but they ended up letting him sit down in the shade under a tree. I watched from my favourite spot that I’d returned to. I watched them get him more water and a cup of something that I hoped was soup. They left him on his own after ten minutes and I thought he probably needed some time on his own and when he lay on his back to rest I knew he was ok. He’d told me earlier that he just wanted to have some water and go to sleep for a while. I checked in on him before I left and he was sleeping calmly.
I cycled home to let my little cat out into the air and just as I got off my bike my front wheel came off. It must have been hanging by a thread and I thank Davy Mawhinney that it didn’t come off when I was on the road. Look after the folk out there. Keep an eye out for those in trouble and be kind.