Drunk Requires a Mercy Dash

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
A drunk fell off a footbridge and I was reluctant to take him to hospital!

Submitted: October 03, 2016

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Submitted: October 03, 2016



As usual, I took Mbise his meal to him after we had cleaned up ours. It was dark and there was the familiar power cut, so I sat and chatted with him as he ate and drank from the Thermos of sweet coffee. Mbise felt secure with the locked metal gate, but really the netting boundary fence with termite-eaten posts afforded no security, hardly able to keep a scratching chook out!

There was gonging at the gate.

I remained, unseen by those at the gate and I could hear that they were using the Meru language, I heard Mbise use the word, ‘Pole’, which indicated to me that someone was in some sort of trouble.

‘There is an old man who has fallen from the bridge and onto the rocks of the creek bed.’ Mbise told me when he came back. ‘He needs to go to hospital.’

The bridge, not far beyond the gate, is three or four metres above the creek and is a simple footbridge made from logs with planks nailed across them. It is wide for a footbridge and it had no handrails, but I would not expect someone to fall off it, even in the dark. The track each side to access it is steep, usually slippery and quite dangerous in the dark, so if he could negotiate the track… anyway.

‘Is he drunk?’ I asked suspiciously.

‘Yes.’ Mbise’s replied simply.

‘No Mbise,’ I replied, ‘I’m not helping drunks!’

I was prepared to take risks driving at night for people needing hospital attention, as mine was the only available vehicle in the village. The secondary school had one, but the driver lived an hour’s walk away so I was more usually called out in emergencies. And I did not charge for the service whereas the school driver demanded payment. There were real risks driving at night, the major one being bandits.

Mbise returned to the gate and I heard some more Meru being spoken – and the speech became a little more animated. There was the rattle of the chain as the gate was opened and Somi, the duty secondary school teacher came into my view.

‘The man is hurt, Mzee,’ he spoke in English, ‘I’m requesting you personally to take him. Just to Kilala to The Sisters.’

‘The Sisters’ is a small hospital run by some Catholic nuns situated not very far along the main road.

I knew Somi very well and the plea from him was too difficult for me to turn down.

‘Who will come with him?’ I asked. ‘Mbise will have to stay here because there is no electricity. Mags will be nervous if she is left alone.’

‘The man lives not far across the creek,’ replied Somi, ‘I have sent a schoolboy to his home, by now his son will be here.’

I fired up the Toyota and Mbise had already opened the gate.  It was difficult to judge but I guessed the man was over fifty years old and he was certainly rotten drunk! He was complaining loudly about the pain he was in. It occurred to me that drunks usually don’t feel pain until they sober up!

The drunk and his son sat in the back seat, so I was alone in front and there was a lot of moaning and groaning going on behind me, but I did not speak or offer sympathy as I drove down the familiar, dusty track. We had gone about two kilometres when there was an unpleasant stink emanating from the rear! At first I thought the dirty old bugger had flatulence, but no, he had lost control of his bowels and emptied them!

I have experienced some stinks in my time but this was high up my worse-list (no pun intended), so I made no bones about his pedigree in my most offensive Swahili and demanded they open all the windows! My eyes were watering!

At the hospital, the son went in to fetch one of the nuns, while I was telling the man how rotten his innards must be! The kindly nun accepted the situation without blinking and eye, but despite the coaxing of his son, the drunk refused get out of the vehicle! Something had to be done, so I spoke harshly to him, ordering him out and to behave! When he stood humbly before the nun I could see why he didn’t want to move. He had been sitting in a pool of black stinking liquid goo and he was wearing it! He was a stinking mess and obviously embarrassed in front of the nun!

The son, not surprisingly, sat in the front with me on the way back and I told him loud and clear that I was not very pleased and that he would be cleaning the mess in the vehicle on our arrival at the house! But when we stopped at the gate for Mbise to open up, the son jumped out and ran off home! I should have chained the bugger up!

Somi was still in our compound talking to Mags, so I told him it was on his plea I took the man to hospital, so he should be the one to clean up the mess!

He agreed, but he coaxed Mbise to ‘help’. We boiled water for him, supplied disinfectant and all the cleaning materials as well as rubber gloves but it was poor old Mbise alone who cleaned the mess while Somi supervised, I guess ‘class’ has its privileges!

I heard later that the man was not injured at all! The pain he was experiencing was due to a stomach/bowel problem, which medication soon fixed. I can’t even be sure the old bugger even fell off the bridge! I think it was a family ruse to get me to take him to hospital!

Two or three days later, to give him credit, the man came to our house to apologize, and brought with him a kilogram of sugar, by way of atonement.

I really did need a sweetener


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