back to the Black Table

This year's election isn't enough of a fix. Hunter doesn't need it. His life provides enough of a fix. Just ten days ago, he accidentally grazed his assistant, Deborah Fuller, with a shotgun blast while shooting at the bears that terrorize his house. He's working on two books with a November deadline, Screwjack and Fear and Loathing in America. Screwjack's an older book, being reworked after an initial and scarce publication run. Fear and Loathing is another collection of Hunter's letters.

There's no need for Thompson to even leave the cabin. Not when the trouble finds him so easily.

During the span of two lemonade and vodkas, Hunter uncorks a doozy of a storm. A rainy night. His fiancée's gone somewhere with Jane Buffett. A beautiful wet Arab woman at the door. On the run from Arab killers. A huge debt. Toronto. An international web of intrigue. Consulates. Possible assassins in a dark blue rental car. The wrath of his fiancée. Rumors of torture. And finally, a disappearance.

Hunter, just minding his own business, listening to the rain, cranking out Dunhills, opened a door to madness on a global scale. I think that's an ordinary afternoon for him. And when you live a life this surreal, this year's presidential election is nothing more than a cup of decaf for a speed freak.

Insanity aside, Hunter's really working on the books. His house has become an all-purpose bulletin board, covered in book notes, photographs and old pieces. It looks like a freak power Applebee's. Billy clubs and handcuffs and slates from the film versions of Where the Buffalo Roam and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Photographs, posters, pins, coffee cups and ammunition. Mounted animals, mementos and memos.

Again, I have to ask if he's going to Los Angeles. But I know the answer. I get it, but Hunter's more interested in gunning a lemon across the Woody Creek Tavern patio into a trashcan.

"I don't think so. I got my editor on my ass. This would be a hell of a shot around that pole, underneath that thing and …" Hunter pitches one around the pole and under that thing. Just not in the bucket. "Shit!"

He's distracted, receiving phone calls from people who need no first name: Wenner, Halberstam and Plimpton. Depp visits regularly. Murray's been in touch, too.

"I got lots of weird friends, different kinds," he says. "I don't let ideology stand in the way of friendship. Yeah, you short yourself out of meeting some good people if you don't do that."

Some of those good people call back over and over during the visit. We're making Hunter late for an already late dinner.

And then there's me. I've driven cross-country with his requested 12 Paines Wessex MK3 Red Distress Rockets in the backseat. Why would he want to leave Woody Creek, when people are willing to make a pilgrimage, bearing gifts of explosives?

Make no mistake. Hunter is a full-out junkie. He sits in the kitchen, unable to look away from CNN, even though it pales in comparison to riots in 1968, the evil of Dick Nixon, Vietnam's carnage, kaleidoscopic chemical enhancements and menacing bikers. There's no urgency buzzing from the screen, a flat shot by shot by shot reduction of today's bland political landscape.

But Hunter still stares into the static, waiting for a clarion call, some bloodshed, an evil so pernicious that corneas melt on sight. Something. Anything but this, diet politics lite with nothing to fight over.

He'll be sitting this one out, revisiting the past, pumping out two books in a November when he'd usually be terrorizing the powers-that-be. It's almost as if he's packing up his legacy now because he knows he'll never get another fix that'll be that good ever again.

Someone do something quick. My doctor is sick.