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"Hey, Quick Draw!"
By: Wayne Brown
Banks was a gun-nut! My good friend, Banks, was a total gun-nut. I think he might have been the “original gun-nut” for up until I met him, I honestly had never encountered the breed. Oh, having been a child of the fifties and a teenager of the sixties, I can guarantee you that I had played more than my share of “Cowboys & Indians”. We rode stick-horses with shoestring reins all over the neighborhoods and shoot up the place on a daily basis. Still, we only had one gun, sometimes maybe two. Nobody ever called us a gun-nut so I was not familiar with the term. At the same time, having first met my friend, Banks, I truly believe that he impressed me as a certified gun-nut even before I knew there was a term as such. Are ya with me?
Anyway, my friend Banks and I had a number of adventures and many of them entailed the use of guns and sometimes explosives. Banks was a true believer in having more firepower than the next guy. I didn’t give it much thought ‘cause he gave it more than either one of us needed to on a regular basis. Banks was convinced the bad guys were just over the next ridge waitin’ for us in ambush. Lookin’ back on all of it, I consider that I might have been ill-prepared to approach life in a safe manner if Banks had not showed up and armed me to the teeth. He firmly believed that “if they showed up, you shot ‘em in the ass with both barrels and never quit firin’ until the barrel melted down.” Hell, just listenin’ to him was enough for me to start feelin’ sorry for the other side in this big fight that was always a comin’! There was only two of us but somehow Banks gave me the impression that we had ‘em outnumbered. Now either I’m a bit slow and stupid or Banks missed his callin’ on the high school cheerleader team. Banks not only asked all the questions, he also answered mine for me. I just kind of stood there with my mouth open waitin’ to shoot.
Banks had picked up a western-style holster at the local watch and gun shop back home. It fit real nice with the little .22 caliber six-shooter that he had purchased earlier. The holster could be worn low on the waist and it tied down around your leg with a leather strap. When you had it tied down, you could “slap leather” and yank that gun out on a moment’s notice to fend off any of the bad guys who might have thrown down on you by surprise. I can’t really remember it ever happening but Banks always said that it might so we had to practice just for that moment regularly. We had to work toward becoming fast as greased lighting with that gun and holster. It wasn’t enough just to get the gun out of the holster quickly, oh no…you got to get off a shot too. The damn shot better be accurate because the bad guys are only giving you one chance to wing ‘em according to Banks. So we practiced. We even greased the holster leather a bit to speed things up.
Well, it came to past one day that my friend Banks and I were scheduled to accompany his dad, Belmont out to some land that he was looking to buy. Mr. Belmont wanted to peruse it from corner to corner before he made the purchase. Banks thought it would be a good idea if we went with him and brought along some guns to fend off any bad guys who were hiding out to spoil the land deal. You know, we was gonna shoot ‘em in the ass before their plan came together. I doubt Mr. Belmont realized what a dangerous situation that he was headin’ into as we drove off to see that piece of land with him.
Now, this is about the point that I need to stop and explain something to you. This will be something that will be important not only to this story but another that I have yet to write at some time in the future. My friend, Banks, well he was a creature of habit. He was strong-headed in a stubborn sort of way. I guess the doctors would probably say that he was obsessive-compulsive now that I give it some thought. What he disliked, he disliked wholeheartedly and didn’t require much discussion to dispense with it. At the same time, if he took a likin’ to something, then it was just awful hard to get it away from him. I had discovered that the hard way when he had taken a likin’ to me back in the 7th grade. We’d been fast friends ever since as Forrest Gump might describe it. At any rate, Banks wore the same kind of black loafer shoes all the time. He would buy a pair, wear a pair out, buy another pair…always the same kind, but wait that is part of the other story, so let’s just move on. Oh, oh, let me get this in…he always wore white socks with his black loafers. I think we all did back then. Well, it seemed pretty cool at the time!
So we get out to this piece of land. It is down in a place a lot of folks like to call “the swamp” meaning that it was on one side or other of this creek bank that ran through the land. It was covered in trees, not timber, but trees, all kinds. There was high weeds, brush, and vines. It was the kind of place that I, if I had been in charge, would not have gone without some damn good reason. It was the kind of land that I could have looked at very quickly from the road, concluded that “there might be snakes in there” and moved on with my life without another thought as to any consideration of purchasing that piece of ground. Not so with Mr. Belmont or my friend, Banks, no sir. If it looked “snakey” in there, that was all the more reason to park that car and head right in there and rid the area of them varmints. Hell, Banks was makin’ me brave and I didn’t even want to be brave. I just wanted to piss my pants.
We headed right into the woods but not before Banks could open the trunk, toss me a rifle, and strap the western holster and gun to his leg. We were armed and ready, I suppose. We worked our way across a barbed-wire fence and headed into the woods. I looked back at the car longing to just go home. Banks shoved me further into the woods. Within two steps I was pretty sure we were already lost. Now, wouldn’t it be just like those bad guys to show up and shoot Mr. Belmont and Banks leavin’ me lost out here in the woods. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t shoot me not once they saw that I had already pissed my pants thinkin’ about the snakes that were hiding in brush. Sometimes I felt like a hostage.
Well, we reached this spot in the woods at which point Mr. Belmont decided that he had no use for our land surveying talents. Besides that, Banks was tired of following him around and wanted to shoot the guns. Mr. Belmont pointed off toward the creek and told us that he was headed over in that direction to look around. I thought he was crazy but I didn’t tell him. Banks and I were to “hold our position” and wait for him to return. As he was about to depart, Mr. B told us that we needed to be careful with those guns like we were going to do something dangerous, I guess. We nodded our understanding and he headed out.
Banks backed off away from the big tree we were standing under indicating that he was about to practice his fast draw on this tree and put a slug right between its eyes. I was to stand aside, hold the rifle, and provide words of encouragement. I had to do this while I was scanning the brush for the snakes that lay in wait. Banks took a mean look on his face, dipped his hips pulling that hog-leg and firing all in one blinding motion executed at light speed. Then he did it again. Then again, and again, and once again before deciding to rest a moment. I offered some words of encouragement along the lines of what a fast draw that most certainly was! Banks tells me that I ain’t seen nothing yet. I can’t wait.
After resting a bit, Banks was ready to outdraw that tree once again. He dipped the hips and went for it pulling the gun for the kill. The speed, the motion, the sound of gunfire…it all came at once. I took it all in trying to see the techniques that I could apply to my fast draw if I ever got a turn. One thing I noticed quickly that was apparent on this try that I had not seen before. Banks had his hand on the gun, the gun had discharged, but the gun was still in the holster. Now, I think to myself, he’s fast but I really think I would have seen that gun come out of there and go back in. Banks goes into slow motion at that particular moment and slowly turns his head in my direction and says, “I think I shot my damn self.” I watch as he shakes his loafer off of his right foot. There on the sock, down near the toes, was a spot of blood slowly appearing on the white surface. The loafer had a hole all the way through it too! Banks looks at the blood and back at me, “Yep, shot my damn self, call Belmont!” he says shoving the foot back into the loafer.
I really wish I had saved pissing my pants for this part because I had never been any where with anyone who shot themselves. I was totally unprepared. Not one first-aid kit in sight. What do you do? Do you suck the blood out like a snake-bite? God I hope not! I try to scream but nothing comes out at first except emptiness. I didn’t know what it looked like but I felt it when it came out. I tried again to yell for Belmont and finally I heard it as the words echoed off the trees. I just blurted it all out, “Mr. Belmont, come quick, Banks has shot himself!” To this day, I can still hear that giant of a man coming through that brush toward us. I sure as hell hoped that it was Mr. Belmont coming through the brush cause if it wasn’t whatever was coming through that brush would probably make me piss my pants, I thought.
Things begin to happen quickly at that point and my memory blurs when I attempt to recall it. Perhaps I fainted momentarily, I don’t know. It just seems like all of a sudden we were at the emergency room at the hospital and they were cutting Banks out of his sock. We were huddled around figuring that he must be missing a few toes or horribly disfigured, perhaps ruining his chances of ever becoming a foot-model. I don’t know. I just had a lot on my mind. Finally, the doctor tells me and Mr. Belmont that we had to leave. I guess we were crying too much. I don’t know. Anyway, the two of us end up out in some waiting room area waiting for the sad news of Banks’ disfigurement. I think Mr. B was wondering what he was gonna tell Banks’ mama. Hell, I was wondering what I was gonna tell mine about pissin’ in my pants.
Well, a little time goes by slow and finally out comes Banks limping along with that shot-up loafer right there on his bandaged right foot. He was grinning from ear to ear which I thought was rather sad considering that he was disfigured for the rest of his life. Banks tells us that the doctor has cut him lose with a couple of stitches. Seems that he had shot himself just below the smallest toes of the right foot, right there in that place where there’s not a good fraction of an inch between the tendons connecting the toes to something back toward the heel. Anyway, he had shot clean through, did not hit a thing in the process. It was a clean wound. He would heal, he would not be disfigured. Well, I tell ya right now. This was about as close to what you would call a miracle as I figured that I would probably ever get to witness. I wasn’t even scared anymore that is until Mr. Belmont looked at both of us and related that the whole time that he was running through those bushes, he was begging God that I was a lyin’ ‘bout Banks shooting himself. At the same time, he looked me in the eye and told me that if I had been lyin’, he would have kicked my ass right there in the woods. Well, I don’t mind telling ya, I pissed my pants.