Part 1, Chapter 11 Summary
It is now 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Thompson has almost left the Las Vegas city limits but has stopped at a tavern. In another few hours, he will be driving into Los Angeles, where he and his car will be completely inconspicuous. But until then the red Cadillac is like a shout disrupting the calm and quiet Nevada highway. There is no way to make himself any less visible. It seems that even the sun has turned against him; the day has turned grey and menacing.
As he sips a beer at the restaurant, Thompson suddenly finds himself “in the grip of a serious fear.” A plane takes off and Thompson wonders if Larceda is aboard, headed home after the race. It occurs to Thompson that he does not even know who won the Mint 400, which is a fairly crucial element to his eventually writing the story for the magazine. He frantically scans the sports section of the Los Angeles Times for news.
He thinks about abandoning the car there at the diner but knows he cannot. He has to make it out of the state. He is exhausted and scared. He does not know what he is doing. Someone plays a song on the jukebox. The lyrics of the song seem directed at him: “Awww... Mama / Can this really be the end?” the singer wails. Next comes Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water.” The song sends Thompson into a head-spin of memories. He is gripped by “paranoia, madness, fear and loathing.” In the midst of his angst, however, it occurs to him that the hotel’s checkout time is still two hours away. The window affords some room for escape; it will not occur to anyone to hunt him down before then.
Thompson remembers that he left a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, which is a good thing because no maid will bother to enter when they see it. He thinks about what the maids will say when the authorities question them. Will they say anything about the six hundred bars of Neutrogena soap they delivered to Suite 1850? Thompson does not think the maids will defend them. In fact, he thinks the maids will be happy to spill their story of mistreatment to the cops.
A sudden need to confess grips Thompson. He wishes there were a priest in the bar. He feels consumed by guilt. Still, he asks whatever god may be listening for five more hours to get out of Vegas. He blames his “primitive Christian instincts” for making him believe he is a criminal. He seeks to lay blame for his behavior elsewhere, chiefly at the feet of his publisher, who sent him out to cover this story in the first place. “It was his idea, Lord, not mine,” Thompson pleads. “You better take care of me, Lord,” he warns. Otherwise, he will soon be God’s problem.