Indie and Blinky

       If there were ever two peas in a Harnett County pod, it was Henry Indian Jenkins and Blinky Wallendorf.  Henry sawed a fine old time fiddle and Blink was the best drop thumb banjo man in the County.  They were more old-time than bluegrass guys, but I’d sit in with them at times, and they were excellent musicians.  Even after a night of corn liquor by the campfire, they never missed a beat- perfect timing. 

        One thing I didn’t understand, though.  Both of ’em had prostate trouble and couldn’t sit all the way through church service without a break to go pee, yet they could jam old time music for hours on end and never budge.  One time I asked Indie how that could be.  He gave me a blank stare and said “I dunno.”  Indie used to say not to preach at him, ’cause a sane man couldn’t stand more than an hour a week, and Indie warn’t up to that much.  I knew better than to ask about it in front of Ms. Jenkins- it wouldn’t be proper as Indie would say.

        Blinky has been gone a decade now.  Indie says he got over it, but when it comes up, he’ll ask me to check the skelton skull in the corner to be sure he has been supplied with his Jim Beam.  After that, he likes for me to wheel him out into the courtyard.  Most of all, he loves his garden.  They let him have a small patch of ground there and he put out a flower garden.  He said all them residents hadn’t been as lucky as him, and he wants them to enjoy the flowers at the end. 

        Back when Indie lived at home, he had a garden.  He was extra proud of his roses.  When you went to see Indie, you didn’t go in the house first, but walked around to the garden so he could show off his latest prizes.  Indie was not a golfer, but he forever quoted the great Walter Hagen.  “Son,” he’d say.  “Always take time to stop and smell the roses.”  Boy did Indie do that.  He worked hard, and he cared.  Yeah, he made some mistakes, and he was never a political animal, but cut a wide swath of rose smelling, and that’s a fact.

        Indie loves this time of year.  When the attendants cut the grass, he wants to sit outside.  The smell of that fresh cut grass reminds of when he was able to mow his lawn in the summer.  He was real particular about his yard, and I don’t tell him the folks who bought his house don’t keep it up the yard like he did.  I sure ain’t gonna tell him they let the rose garden go to weeds.  

        Indie took it all in as he went along, and I don’t think he has many regrets.  Still, when the subject of Blinky come up, his mood darkens.  Everyone says you never hear Indie talk of it, but when I visit him at the nursing home, he still confides in me about it pretty regular.  I guess it’s ’cause I’m his Doctor.  If your Doc is any good, you can tell ’em your secrets, and Indie is comfortable telling his to me.

        Indie says he wants me to tell the whole story about Blinky, but I still ask to be sure.  I don’t want to breach his privacy, and I have been reluctant, but he always reaffirms his desire to share it.  He also insists on it being after his death though.  As I said before Indie attracted lawyers like a pretty girl would if she walked into Harnett Billiard and Bowl, and he is way too old and tired to put up another fight.  Maybe even more important Ms. Wallendorf lives right down the hall from him at the Home, and somehow Indian made his peace with her.  I don’t think he wants to disrupt that truce- it was too hard to come by.  One thing about Indie, he never wanted to end up on the outs with anyone.

        When I visited him Wednesday, Indie cracked open the skeleton skull cap and poured a drink.  At first he started to talk about Blinky’s death, then reversed field.  “Ah hell, Bibey. Blink wouldn’t want us to moan about it.  We had too many good times for that.”

        “That’s right Indie.  Blink was a good ‘un.”

        “Hey you remember when that rascal got us invited to John Hartford’s Christmas party?

        “Shoot, yeah Indie.  I’ll never forget that one.”

        “Ole Hartford was a player, huh?”

        “Yeah buddy, and I think he liked Blinky’s banjer picking, too.”

        “And man, when Bill Monroe hisself walked in, I thought……”

         Me and Indie went on about that trip till suppertime.  I wheeled him down to the dining room and bid him good night.  I went back by his room to be sure we had closed the skull on the skeleton, and went home to catch up with Ms. Marfar.  After supper, I was gonna have to get out the Hartford shoe box, and refresh my memory.

 Dr. B

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6 Comments on “Indie and Blinky”

  1. pandemonic Says:


    He’s lucky to have a friend like you.

  2. drtombibey Says:


    Indie was a better Doc than what a lot of folks knew. In my book I’m gonna show how.

    Dr. B

  3. Ted Lehmann Says:

    I like this piece of Indie’s story. It leaves plenty unsaid without seeming incomplete. You caught me on this one with its sense of loss – lost possibility, lost memory, lost opportunity. The skull image has been strenghtened here, along with the sense of strength underlying weakness and inadequacy. Nice one. – Ted

  4. mrschili Says:

    One of my dearest hopes for my yoga practice is that I can learn to be present all the way through my life. I completely understand why people get wistful and melancholy in their older years, but it makes me sad because it seems such a waste of energy. Mourning for what we no longer have keeps us from seeing that we’re still here and can still make something of it while we’re here. Indie’s got his flowers, and that’s good, but I wonder how much of his time is spent in regret and waiting, you know?

  5. drtombibey Says:

    Thanks Ted,

    I can see Indie’s health is gonna decline. I am going to try to visit with him as much as I can over the next six months, and take notes. After he’s gone, I can’t tap into his brain anymore, so I want to get as many of the details straight as I can before the time comes.

    Bless his heart; he is flawed, but you can’t help but love him.

    Dr. B

  6. drtombibey Says:


    Indie can get melancholy at times, but don’t worry too much over him. I know his mind well, and I think he has few regrets.

    He does have his flowers, and he loves them, and he can still play his fiddle.

    This is Mother’s day (happy Mother’s Day, by the way) and every year he sends each one of the mothers in the nursing home a rose. Then after church services finish on the radio, Indie gets someone to wheel him around the Nursing Home, and he plays a tune for every one of ’em.

    Indie says he’s old, but still young enough to make some people happy.

    Dr. B

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