FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS -- A SAVAGE JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
by Hunter S. Thompson, © 1971 by Hunter S. Thompson
Part Two, Chapter 1
About 20 miles east of Baker I stopped to check the drug bag. The sun was hot and I felt like killing something. Anything. Even a big lizard. Drill the fucker. I got my attorney's .357 Magnum out of the trunk and spun the cylinder. It was loaded all the way around: Long, nasty little slugs -- 158 grains with a fine flat trajectory and painted aztec gold on the tips. I blew the horn a few times, hoping to call up an iguana. Get the buggers moving. They were out there, I knew, in that goddamn sea of cactus -- hunkered down, barely breathing, and everyone of the stinking little bastards was loaded with deadly poison.
Three fast explosions knocked me off balance. Three deafening, double-action blasts from the .357 in my right hand. Jesus! Firing at nothing, for no reason at all. Bad craziness. I tossed the gun into the front seat of the Shark and stared nervously at the highway. No cars either way; the road was empty for two or three miles in both directions.
Fine luck. It would not do to be found in the desert under these circumstances: firing wildly into the cactus from a car full of drugs. And especially not now, on the lam from the Highway Patrol.
Awkward questions would arise: "Well now, Mister ... ah ... Duke; you understand, of course, that it is illegal to discharge a firearm of any kind while standing on a federal highway?"
"What? Even in self-defense? This goddamn gun has a hair trigger, officer. The truth is I only meant to fire once -- just to scare the little bastards."
A heavy stare, then speaking very slowly: "Are you saying Mister Duke ... that you were attacked out here?"
"Well ... no ... not literally attacked, officer, but seriously menaced. I stopped to piss, and the minute I stepped out of the car these filthy little bags of poison were all around me. They moved like greased lightning!"
Would this story hold up?
No. They would place me under arrest, then routinely search the car -- and when that happened all kinds of savage hell would break loose. They would never believe all these drugs were necessary to my work; that in truth I was a professional journalist on my way to Las Vegas to cover the National District Attorneys' Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
"Just samples, officer. I got this stuff off a road man for the Neo-American Church back in Barstow. He started acting funny, so I worked him over."
Would they buy this?
No. They would lock me in some hellhole of a jail and beat me on the kidneys with big branches -- causing me to piss blood for years to come. ...
Luckily, nobody bothered me while I ran a quick inventory on the kit-bag. The stash was a hopeless mess, all churned together and half-crushed. Some of the mescaline pellets had disintegrated into a reddish-brown powder, but I counted about thirty-five or forty still intact. My attorney had eaten all the reds, but there was quite a bit of speed left ... no more grass, the coke bottle was empty, one acid blotter, a nice brown lump of opium hash and six loose amyls ... Not enough for anything serious, but a careful rationing of the mescaline would probably get us through the four-day Drug Conference.
On the outskirts of Vegas I stopped at a neighborhood pharmacy and bought two quarts of Gold tequila, two fifths of Chivas Regal and a pint of ether. I was tempted to ask for some amyls. My angina pectoris was starting to act up. But the druggist had the eyes of a mean Baptist hysteric. I told him I needed the ether to get the tape off my legs, but by that time he'd already rung the stuff up and bagged it. He didn't give a fuck about ether.
I wondered what he would say if I asked him for $22 worth of Romilar and a tank of nitrous oxide. Probably he would have sold it to me. Why not? Free enterprise. ... Give the public what it needs -- especially this bad- sweaty, nervous-talkin' fella with tape all over his legs and this terrible cough, along with angina pectoris and these godawful Aneuristic flashes every time he gets in the sun. I mean this fella was in bad shape, officer. How the hell was I to know he'd walk straight out to his car and start abusing those drugs?
How indeed? I lingered a moment at the magazine rack, then got a grip on myself and hurried outside to the car. The idea of going completely crazy on laughing gas in the middle of a DAs' drug conference had a definite warped appeal. But not on the first day, I thought. Save that for later. No point getting busted and committed before the conference even starts.
I stole a Review-Journal from a rack in the parking lot, but I threw it away after reading a story on page one:
SURGERY UNCERTAIN AFTER EYES REMOVED
BALTIMORE (UPI) -- Doctors said Friday they were uncertain whether surgery would succeed in restoring the eyesight of a young man who pulled out his eyes while suffering the effects of a drug overdose in a jail cell.
Charles Innes, Jr., 25, underwent surgery late Thursday at Maryland General Hospital but doctors said it may be weeks before they could determine the outcome.
A statement issued by the hospital reported that Innes "had no light perception in either eye prior to surgery and the possibility he will ever have light perception is extremely poor."
Innes, son of a prominent Massachusetts Republican, was found in a jail cell Thursday by a turnkey who said Innes had pulled out his eyeballs.
Innes was arrested Wednesday night while walking nude through a neighborhood near where he lived. He was examined at Mercy Hospital and then placed in a jail cell. Police and one of Innes' friends said he had taken an overdose of animal tranquilizer.
Police reported the drug was PCP, a Parke-Davis product not sold for human medical purposes since 1963. However, a spokesman for Parke-Davis said he thought the drug might be available on the black market.
Taken alone, the spokesman said PCP effects would not last more than 12 to 14 hours. However, the effects of PCP combined with an hallucinogen such as LSD were not known.
Innes told a neighbor last Saturday, the day after he first took the drug, that his eyes were bothering him and that he could not read.
Wednesday night police said Innes seemed to be in a deeply depressed state and so impervious to pain that he did not scream when he pulled out his eyes.