I have avoided social media like some dark age plague. Not because I didn’t see the benefit in it – of course I did, and do! But because I always thought that the world did not need me updating my timeline with: I just finished a great dinner with a friend; now I am drinking at a casino bar alone; now I am drunk; now I am being asked to leave the casino bar; now I am hearing “you have the right to remain silent.” By the way, that is really good advice which I have unfortunately all too often ignored.
Okay, I made my point about social media. That stated, I have had to rethink my social media stance with the birth of HuntingForThompson.com; the reasons should be obvious. That notwithstanding, this piece is not about this website or social media, per se. It is about a dear friend of mine, and of my intermittent searches for him over the last five years.
Perry Michael Lewis: Chilean and friend extraordinari; more on that in a moment. First, I’d like to properly explain myself on the friend extraordinari statement and to do that I have to go back in time to when I first encountered – and then was properly introduced to – the man.
With the dawn of the 21st Century came the beginning of the end of the gambler and the straight up, no apologies made, gambling halls of Las Vegas. It was in that environment that I met Perry Lewis. He was dealing poker. This was before TV turned poker into a youthful testosterone pit … sprinkled with a dash of estrogen. Before the pseudo promise that being the next big Moneymaker1 was in the cards, and you were just a click of the mouse, a flop and a turn away from being made a star on the river – and wealthy to boot! Back before spin doctors had successfully changed the term from gambling to gaming; because there’s much less reality in gaming and no ominous warning. Now it’s a game of chance instead of gambling. In a game of chance, we will be entertained. In gambling there will be consequences, maybe good ones – maybe not! – but entertainment is not synonymous with a gamble.
I had met Perry when one could still find straight up gambling, back before gamblers were a dying breed. Perry and I did not meet in the normal way most people do: Hi, my name is….
Nope. We met in the heated, contentious throws of a gamble. He was dealing and I was chasing a flush. The flush was not to be and I did not handle that news very well, to say the least. “I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody.”2 Due to my disappointment, and due to it happening where I held swagger and court, I threw a quick fit; along with throwing the empty chip racks to the floor resulting in an attention grabbing thud and ricochet. Perry was not amused. He was at a distance, sitting there safe and secure in the dealer’s chair with nothing on the line except controlling the game, and dealing with an impulsive id* like me.
Perry had recently returned to Las Vegas after an extended hiatus, and resumed his dealing duties at the then: World Famous Horseshoe Casino. The very last of the old school gambling halls in Vegas, or anywhere else for that matter. So, he was at a disadvantage and ill-equipped for what came next. Yet, he was bound by duty to do it. He had to deal with the brief Darwinian outburst of yours truly. He said, “Listen here pal, you better knock that off.” To which I replied, “Or what?” “You’ll see,” he said. “Why wait,” I replied, and then called for the poker room shift manager Steve (who happened to be a friend of mine) to come to the table of broken dreams.
Steve arrived and I quickly gave him a staccato snapshot of the situation. He said to the dealer, “Perry, this is John Hall and John promises not to do that again – right John?” “Obviously,” I said, “and please get me two more racks of chips” while slipping Steve a respectable tip. “Deal him in,” Steve said to Perry. Ah, Vegas … back when gamblers had some juice. Oh, how I miss those days and the friends who taught me “when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.”3
Two things happened on the very next hand Perry dealt. One, was that his relief dealer had arrived and he’d be going on break. Two, was that I saw his relief had arrived and so for theatrical effect I mucked (tossed away) my cards and said to Perry with a huge grin, “Timing is everything, and it’s not on your side today.” I was sure that my jab had the intended effect on him, but he was not going to show that to the other players at the table.
When the cards had been read, and the pot pushed, Perry stood up. That is when I first became aware of the imposing presence he projected: a tall, robust, man. Well, shit, I thought, maybe I shouldn’t have thrown those racks – and I most certainly should not have called for Steve to save me. This could go bad.
So, it was with much apprehension that I followed Perry out of that poker room’s side door per his demand of, “I want to talk to you outside – right now.” Once outside Perry said that it’s obvious that I am “juiced in” and that my joke about timing made it tough for him to keep his composure. And then he proceeded to mock my poker play, by chastising me for chasing that flush by saying that even if I had gotten it, I would have still come in third to two full houses. “That’s not the fucking point,” I said. “And besides that you paired the board on the river.” Perry let out a loud, deep, laugh that I was to hear many, many more times. Perry’s sense of humor, second to none. That sense of humor was to be my saving grace from many bad nights at those poker tables, and from some fairly fiendish situations in which this gambler was found.
And so it came to pass, that on that sidewalk, next to the side door of that poker room, with an era fading fast, that two of a dying breed would become very, very good friends.
To continue on with all of the moments in which Perry brightened my life, through his sense of humor and laughter would be disrespectful to you gentle reader, and would be a disservice to the rest of this article. But I must share this: There were two times when I found myself in dire straits of my own making – think: “you have the right to remain silent.” Both times Perry stopped what he was doing, which was sleeping, and both times he answered my battle cry of, “send lawyers, guns and money….”4 Even an id like me knows that you don’t stumble upon that every day.
That is why I have been searching for Perry Lewis over the last five years. Whenever I was in Vegas, I would ask, “Has anybody here seen my old friend [Perry]?”5 Always to no avail.
I launched HuntingForThompson.com on November 11, 2016, and subsequently posted on a Facebook account’s timeline that I have had for many, many years – but had refused to use. The post was to announce the birth of this website. I still don’t think the world needs to know what I have for dinner, but it does need to know what HuntingForThompson.com is up to – (no good in the eyes of the Right People, I assure you).
I have toiled in technology off and on since 1995, and in that time I have collected a fair amount of “end of life” computer equipment. A few days ago, I decided that it was time to unencumber myself of some of it. Before one ever tosses a hard drive, it should first be mined for needed data, and then liquefied because there is no Fourth Amendment lying in wait to protect you at the city dump. I set out to do just that.
That is how I came across a computer folder entitled: Perry Lewis. It contained a solitary text file with cell numbers I have called, and email addresses to which I had sent emails, looking for my dear friend. Then my eyes focused upon a set of characters. I could not make sense of them. I printed the text file, finished the data mining and then proceeded to liquefy the hard drive.
The next day I was preparing a Facebook post when it dawned on me that the set of characters which eluded my deciphering capabilities the day before were Perry Lewis’ daughter’s Facebook account. You know, the letters at the end of: facebook.com/thisandthat. I sent the friend request and the next day it was accepted and a private message ensued from Perry’s daughter, Nicole. It went like this:
Nicole: “Hello….do I know you? or do you know me?”
Me: “Hi – I know your father Perry and was hoping to get a status update. Unable to contact him nor has any one else.”
Nicole: “Perry passed about 3 years ago.”
Me: “I had hoped my assumptions were wrong. I am sorry for your loss… He was a good friend to me, and to many, many others.”
Nicole: “I feel him closer more now than ever and am sure he is much better off now!”
Me: “Agreed. He had struggles – but was a very good man!”
Who hasn’t had struggles? I have. Too many of them in fact. Now, I have another one. Accepting that my dear friend is gone.
I am here to state and memorialize that Perry Michael Lewis (b. Jan 16, 1948 – d. Jan 30, 2012), father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend extraordinari, was a very good man.
I miss you brother. I’ll catch you on the other side if I am allowed in. Luckily, I’ll have you to vouch for me. Godspeed, Perry Michael Lewis.
Perry Michael Lewis is survived by his daughter Nicole Leslie Lewis, et al, of Chile … along with brood of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Post scriptum: As I passed the news, the refrain was … well, there’s less laughter in the world now.
* Id (Latin for “it”) is the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains a human’s basic, instinctual drives. Id is the only component of personality that is present from birth – more.
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