RIP John Banks, dear friend and dear friend of my late Uncle Jack. I'm so grateful y'all had each other in high school.
The past two weeks have been open season on people dear to me. George was taken shockingly, John has been ill for a long time. Both, heartbreaking.
Among many other things, I will never forget going to visit John when he was laid up with a bullet in his gut. He'd been at an antique store (he was an antique dealer himself) when it was held up. He chased the robber out the door and got shot in return. Not quite sure what he thought he was going to do if he caught this guy, but he wasn't one for sitting around watching folks get robbed.
I was in law school in Fayetteville at the time and so got to go sit with him while he was recovering.
He had a gorgeous old-ish house on a street. I coveted the house, its contents and its location. So unbelievably cool. And he was so cool in it. He was a bit of a hermit, on his best day. Couldn't be bothered to fuck with most folks. He consented, likely due to my association with his friend, my late uncle, Jackson Reeves, and to his lifelong best friend, Shellie Wilson Bailey, to let me come visit and dote on him.
I knocked on the door, it was answered by some completely insane neighbor who directed me upstairs. I got up there by navigating a series of bizarre gates designed to contain his blind dog upstairs. You see, she was accustomed to the arrangement downstairs but not up. And he needed to recover in bed and they couldn't be apart. So the whole time we were visiting, the dog was running headlong into things and every time she hit the metal bed frame, it sounded like a gong.
The room was heavy with the scent of slowly decaying flowers and there were nearly empty whiskey bottles around.
At one point, John asked if I could get him a glass of milk. I started downstairs to the kitchen, and he said no and gestured toward his closet. In his closet was a fridge filled with nothing but gallons of milk and a collection of glasses. I poured him one and he downed it.
Then some other neighbors came over. They looked straight out of central casting aging country club couple in kelly green terry cloth and madras. Probably 70 years old. They came to show John photos of their son who had recently won some sort of drag queen pageant. They were so proud, and I was so proud of them for being proud.
I loved him dearly. He was good to me.