“There was no one out there who didn’t want to be Breht Boone’s friend. // A world-class conversationalist // Genuine .”
The Knicks are struggling in what could be their final game of the season. The Celtics are pounding, and the scoreboard reads four eights across the board: 88-88. The bar is rowdy and alive. The waitresses are hustling and the bartender is sliding shots down the line. The world is still moving, but a table of four that will soon grow to a table of 5,6, and eventually 15-20 is at a standstill.
I look across the table to one of the best friends that I have made here in this big endless city that sometimes echoes loneliness even when a bar is filled to capacity. His eyes try to swallow his tears, but they are unable.
“I just don’t know when I’ll break down again,” he says to us. One of his best guy friends reaches for his hands, and we nod in agreement. A night like this isn’t supposed to be easy—like the Knicks losing in the final seconds—this family feels the struggle of a tough battle—one that saw the loss of not a championship trophy, but a champion—a person who smiled beautifully, drew poetically, and lived genuinely. A person who would one day build a gallery of art to auction off. A person who allowed each person whose life he became a part of to be the highest bidder and have the opportunity to be a part of his.
I didn’t know Breht Boone that well. Before I met him, I knew of his epic alliterative name and of his art, of his kindness and his sincerity--and I before I met him, above all, I knew that I wanted to be his friend. Before ever speaking a word to him, shaking his hand, or giving a head nod hello, I knew that I wanted to one day have him be part of my life. The family of friends that I had been invited into last year had spoken so highly of him that I often declared to some of them, “Damnet, when do I get to meet Breht Boone?“
And then one day I did. And every word I had heard about the man, the artist, the cheerful soul, was undoubtedly true. It wasn’t before long that Breht and I were having a conversation with two, three, and then four other people about movies we hated, movies that were awesome, and movies that we couldn’t agree on. It wasn’t before long that I could see why each and every person I had met before Breht, had such kind and enduring words to say about him, his personality, and his talent.
Now, sitting in a bar with his New York City family, I can see their pain, their hurt, and their disengagement with any world that exists outside the one they are living in. Time has stopped. And even if the trains are moving, the streets are humming, and the lights in Times Square are glowing, this family doesn’t know that. They know what they are feeling and whom they are feeling it with. My friend is no longer trying to swallow his tears, his face is red, his hair is ruffled, and his body seems tired. Several others join him. From across the bar, I see others laughing over memories they have over the charismatic comic book fan, the man I was often told to be the last man standing at parties, the man they all loved and believed in. I see my good friends, remembering their great friend…their brother…their reminder that great people do exist in this world—people who are probably too good for this world anyway.
On the night that I met Breht, he reached to grab his phone and show me examples of his drawings. He told me how he was planning an art show, how excited he was for it, and how everything was coming together. It may not be the art show we all expected, but I am pretty sure he’s going to draw us a pretty beautiful and amazing gallery of a better world from up above.