A legacy of sleepless nights | AspenTimes.com

A legacy of sleepless nights

Michael Cleverly

“That winter the future took a very long time to come.” Francine ProseAnd then it came far too soon.I guess we still owe Hunter some sleep. When he was with us he authored many sleepless nights for his friends, and now, well, a few more. We’ll never really be paid up. There are many ways to keep people up at night and Hunter knew all of them. The 3 a.m. phone calls, wanting to discuss something critically important and urgent, like … cordwood. Or to tell me that I take myself too seriously.

Thank you, thank you very much, Doc.Now when we wake up in the wee hours, for whatever reason, Hunter, being the opportunist, will invade our minds and our hearts. He left the world a legacy of great writing, and for us, another legacy, a legacy of people lying in bed, in the dark, with their eyes open.It seems to me that winter came early this year. With that awful cold snap, it’s made it seem long already. Right from the start something didn’t feel right, like maybe the wheels were going to come off. I’d leave my cabin, and as usual I’d either forget to, or just not bother to, lock the front door. But when I came home I’d lock it behind me. I don’t know at what point I started doing that, but it’s out of character. My weapons are loaded and honed to a very sharp edge; fear isn’t really a big part of my day.Whatever my unease, Hunter would not have been at the core of it if I thought about it. Woody Creek has never been considered an epicenter of mental health; the neighborhood is crawling with case studies waiting to happen. There were too many options to single out Doc.I was wrong … the future came.The week before Hunter died, our old friend Loren Jenkins was in town. That Wednesday Loren and I met at Hunter’s. We had a terrific afternoon, we solved many of the problems of the world and conspired to create new ones. When Loren and I hooked up the next day we agreed that it had been a fine afternoon – Hunter at his best. If Hunter had lived another 30 years, I still would have remembered that afternoon fondly.

I was over at Hunter’s again on Friday. He was in excellent spirits. It was just us. We talked about John Belushi and watched a “used” basketball game. I had no idea it was a rerun. He was making me gamble and give him points, and he had watched the game the night before. Jesus, I hate basketball. In Hunter’s world, if you’re a victim of your own stupidity, it’s really not his fault, is it?Ultimately I was shown mercy.”His history is certain. No more to come. No more to add. His dates are written down indelibly. Nothing can be changed or mended, except by the sentiment and myth of the living. That’s the only Judgment Day there is. The benefits of hindsight. The dead themselves are robbed of retrospect. “A day lived forwards has retrieved itself by fleeing from the future to the past. The dead are resurrected and lie in bed at backward-running dawn, with the first light of a perfect winter’s day ducking and then dropping from the sky into the east, into the morning night. The shrinking and retreating universe has left his death behind. He is not mortal anymore.” Jim Crace

“God’s mercyOn the wildGinger Man” J. P. Donleavy

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