The spirit of Dr. Thompson seems very close at hand tonight, as I sit hunched over this beautiful white machine pushing the buttons and watching letters pop up on the screen. “Sister Morphine” just came on the stereo and the sun has dipped below the trees; a pile of Thompson books, tapes, and clippings sits to my right, topped off by a bottle of Chivas Regal, the Doctor’s whiskey of choice.
By now the Gonzo Cannon has spoken, and the Doctor’s ashes are floating around the air over Woody Creek, but the event seems to have received surprisingly little coverage, at least in this country. The best stories I could find online were from the U.K. paper The Independent and, for some reason, Al-Jazeera.
In poking around I discovered that, contrary to what I’d previously believed, HST did actually leave a suicide note, of sorts: In the kitchen where he shot himself was a typewriter, and in that typewriter a sheet of paper where the Doctor had typed, in the middle of the page, the word “Counselor.”
I read a number of theories as to what this possibly could have meant, but the most provocative was from D.A. Blyler of The Raw Story, who postulates that it is a reference to this passage from the Gospel of John:
And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
The biblical connection is especially interesting in light of another key Thompson fact that I belatedly learned this week. I had always assumed that he called himself “Doctor” because he was a self-appointed Doctor of Journalism; turns out that he was the proud owner of a mail-order Doctorate of Divinity, not unlike my own from the Universal Life Church. It figures in the following passage, which is the conclusion of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
I was asleep when our plane hit the runway, but the jolt brought me instantly awake. I looked out the window and saw the Rocky Mountains. What the fuck was I doing here? I wondered. It made no sense at all. I decided to call my attorney as soon as possible. Have him wire me some money to buy a huge albino Doberman. Denver is a national clearing house for stolen Dobermans; they come from all parts of the country.
Since I was already here, I thought I might as well pick up a vicious dog. But first, something for my nerves. Immediately after the plane landed I rushed up the corridor to the airport drugstore and asked the clerk for a box of amyls.
She began to fidget and shake her head. "Oh, no," she said finally. "I can't sell those things except by prescription."
"I know," I said. "But you see, I'm a doctor. I don't need a prescription."
She was still fidgeting. "Well...you'll have to show me some I.D.," she moaned.
"Of course," I jerked out my wallet and let her see the police badge while I flipped through the deck until I located my Ecclesiastical Discount Card - which identifies me as a Doctor of Divinity, a certified Minister of the Church of the New Truth.
She inspected it carefully, then handed it back. I sensed a new respect in her manner. Her eyes grew warm. She seemed to want to touch me. "I hope you'll forgive me, Doctor," she said with a fine smile. "But I had to ask. We get some real freaks in this place. All kinds of dangerous addicts. You'd never believe it."
"Don't worry," I said. "I understand perfectly. But I have a bad heart and I hope -"
"Certainly!" she exclaimed - and within seconds she was back with a dozen amyls. I paid without quibbling about the ecclesiastical discount. Then I opened the box and cracked one under my nose immediately, while she watched.
"Just be thankful your heart is young and strong," I said. "If I were you I would never...ah...holy shit!...what? Yes, you'll have to excuse me now; I feel it coming on." I turned away and reeled off in the general direction of the bar.
"God's mercy on you swine!" I shouted at two marines coming out of the men's room.
They looked at me, but said nothing. By this time I was laughing crazily. But it made no difference. I was just another fucked-up cleric with a bad heart. Shit, they'll love me down at the Brown Palace. I took another big hit off the amyl, and by the time I got to the bar my heart was full of joy. I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger...a Man on the Move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.
Yes, Hunter Thompson was definitely a holy man of some sort…or maybe an incarnation of a minor deity, the god of mind-bending and Bad Craziness. More on that later…in the meantime, Saturday night beckons. God’s mercy on you swine.