It was the middle of the night, years ago, I was on a flight to where, I don’t recall. I had picked up a book at a bookstore on the recommendation of a friend; “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. This was back when there actually were bookstores, not the mega-chains that now prevail.
The plane was very dark with only a few of the overhead lights on, and after taking care of whatever, I reached in the bag and pulled out the book. I’ll never forget getting about 4 or 5 pages into it and suddenly LAUGHING OUT LOUD. So loud, that previously sleeping heads turned to look at what the hell was going on. As I recall, it was one of the funnest flights I ever had. That was my introduction to HST.
Over the years, I read a lot of his stuff, saw the movies and semi kept up with his career. I even once saw him in person in Denver when he did a reading and question and answer at the Paramount. Signed a book of mine and shook my hand. Hunter was always a riot, and that night he kept a bottle of whiskey under the black clothed table and regularly took his glass, reaching under the table and bringing up a full glass.
Living in Denver, you would from time to time hear about the exploits of HST. One of my favorites was the story about when he and Ed Bradley from 60 Minutes were playing golf. It was Ed’s turn to drive, and as he began his back swing, Hunter pulled a shotgun from his bag. As the ball took flight, and Ed watched the ball intently, Hunter neatly blew the ball out of the air. And, nearly giving Bradley a heart attack. You’d hear little tidbits like that about him.
Over the last few years, I would occasionally catch his column on Page2 of ESPN.com. What started out as a regular column had somewhat degenerated into once a month or so of his thoughts on life from Woody Creek. It seemed that Hunter wasn’t quite as sharp as he once was but the occasional brilliance would show through.
Tonight, I hear Hunter has taken his own life. No doubt, with one of the guns that he most often wrote about.
It brings to mind the fate of many of the great authors, taking their own life. Maybe they feel the dulling of the edge. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and maybe the pen sometimes begins to run out of ink. And to the men that wield it, that is probably a very frightening thing.
I’ll miss him.