Part 1, Chapter 9 Summary
Thompson and his lawyer have decided to flee from their hotel, which will be expecting payment. Thompson knows that he cannot pay the enormous bill. He also knows that the magazine is ultimately responsible for his hotel debt.
Thompson suddenly realizes that he is alone. The attorney must have “sensed trouble” and flown back to Los Angeles. Not for the first time, Thompson wonders how Horatio Alger, the writer who penned dozens of rags-to-riches novels, would handle such a situation.
Thompson finds himself giving into panic. He is alone with the Great Red Shark, a very expensive car that is not his. He is high on drugs. His attorney has left him alone with a worrisome hotel bill. As he is pondering this unenviable situation, Thompson notices the attorney's plastic briefcase in the car's front seat. He picks it up and realizes from its weight that the .357 Magnum has also been left behind. Thompson imagines what will happen if he is stopped by the police and the illegal firearm is discovered. He concocts a fantastic story of how he came to be in possession of the gun, but he knows immediately that no one would believe it.
Thompson decides that he must calm down and “maintain.” Failure to do so, he understands, is suicide. Vegas is not a place for the weak. It is a place where “the shark ethic” prevails and the wounded are like blood in the water. In a place as corrupt as Sin City, “the only crime is getting caught.”
He prepares to flee in the wee hours of the morning. He tries to act as casual as possible as the car is brought to the front of the hotel. He focuses on a newspaper as he waits. He reads a number of stories about deaths caused by drugs: a young woman who tried to throw herself through glass doors; soldiers who were drug addicts in Vietnam; a pharmacy owner who "lost" 100,000 dangerous pills.
Oddly, Thompson is comforted by these stories. It helps him put his life in perspective. He has done some bad things, but in comparison, his crimes are minor. He turns to the sports page and reads about boxer Muhammad Ali defending his status as a conscientious objector. Ali refused to go to war because he had “nothing against” the Vietcong, a “crime” for which he was given a five-year sentence.