Hooker, sitting astride the ancient tombstone, inhaled deeply from the Sweet Afton perched precariously on his lower lip. He watched the grey smoke curl gently skywards toward the pale icy moon that stood sentinel over the sleeping village. He had stopped for a cigarette in the old protestant graveyard on his way home from the O'Donovan Rossa, having consumed a gallon or so of the finest Murphy's stoutto be had this side of Shehy with his friend Dipstick.It was a bitterly cold November night deathly silent apart from the tortured emissions, a heady mixture of fermented stout and chicken vindaloo,leaking from the large rugby player's expansive fundament. After one particularly resonant effort that gave much satisfaction to its proud owner an angry voice from the grave beneath him demanded that he desist immediately. Hooker nearly wet himself with fright. He stood bolt upright, rooted to the spot in mortal fear. Suddenly, a hand appeared from the grave and started to flap at the foul air overhead.
ďChrist, you're a walking septic tank; I was having a grand sleep until you came along. Would you ever feck off back to whatever sewer you came from and leave me in peace?"
Gradually, a body started to appear before the terrified front rower. It stood up and dusted itself off and stretched as if awakening from a deep sleep. It tapped itself sideways on the head to dislodge some earth from its ears and finally opened its eyes to gaze at the intruder. Hooker, now fully recovered after taking a good swig of Jameson from his hip flask, noticed that his new acquaintance had no eyes but despite this handicap seemed to be able to see quite clearly:
ďJesus suffering Christ, you're a big hoor," said the spectre. "
He extended a long bony hand to Hooker who shook it gingerly, afraid that he might pull it off.
"My name is Captain John Nash, the hanging judge of Bandon. I was also known as Shane Dearg, not because of my red hair but because of the amount of blood on my hands. You my friend I would have sent to the gallows for crimes against humanity. I have mellowed over the years though and no longer have a desire for taking life so consider yourself lucky. I would advise you to see a proctologist, however, as you seem to have a dead rat lodged in your rectum."
Hooker thought about his friend Dipstick, the local GP who had advised him to have a flatus tube fitted which could then be attached to an appropriate container and the collected gas sold off to Bord Gais at a healthy profit. Hooker knew his friend was being sarcastic and just ignored him.
Hooker introduced himself as the captain of the local rugby side known as the Lazybaters. He didn't mention that they hadn't won a match yet this season as it really didn't matter that much anyway. The Lazybaters did most of their training in the O'Donovan Rossa and Hooker himself had trained extra hard tonight.
The two new friends sat together for a while. Hooker offered him a cigarette which he gratefully accepted. After a minute or two puffing on it Hooker saw that the smoke which the judge had inhaled seemed to be escaping from his entire body and soon the ghost was enveloped in a cloud of Sweet Afton. He seemed oblivious to this however and puffed away to his heart's content.
The light from the winter moon shone through the belfry casting long sinister shadows across the graveyard. A startled bat flew past overhead and a straymongrel that had wandered into the graveyard yelped in terror at the sight of the dead man sitting on the tomb and ran for dear life with tail tucked between legs. Captain Nash finished his cigarette and thanked his companion for his kindness. He hadn't smoked for a long time as he didn't get out much anymore, he confided. He preferred the oul' pipe though and if Hooker could bring him a nice Peterson and perhaps a tin of Black Cavendish and Virginia he would be eternally grateful. He couldn't give him any money but would gladly give him a ti