I heard Reggie Best before I saw him.
On Monday, Reggie, accompanied by “Grandma,” his acoustic guitar, was singing in a park behind Ninth Street Bakery in downtown Durham.
He has a beautiful voice, one that belies his condition: a homeless veteran afflicted with lymphoma of the stomach—the same disease that killed his mother.
Reggie is 51. He was up from Fayetteville, where his doctors had diagnosed his condition and subsequently sent him to the Durham VA for 30 days of treatment. Reggie was chilling out at Urban Ministries until May 27, when his daily regimen of radiation is scheduled to begin.
When I saw Reggie on Tuesday, he told me the shelter wouldn’t allow him to bring his guitar inside, so he had to sleep outside the previous night. Although he looked tired, “I slept well,” he insisted, “under the stars.”
Yesterday Reggie was standing at a bus stop outside my office window. I waved and invited him inside the INDY so he could meet the staff. He was headed for the VA, and from there he would take a bus to Fayetteville for the weekend. There, he has a place to stay.
“I don’t need the stress of being on the street before my treatment,” he said.
I told him which bus to get on—the free Bull City Connector. And then we said goodbye.