Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary
Thompson decides it is time to ditch the Great Red Shark. The convertible is far too conspicuous. The best place to get rid of it, he reasons, is in the airport’s parking lot. He finds a spot between two enormous Air Force buses and walks to the terminal, which is a good distance on foot. By the time he arrives, his clothes are soaked in sweat. He used to worry about how much he sweated until he went to his doctor and told him how many, and how many different kinds, of drugs he regularly ingested. The stunned physician told Thompson that given his history, he should begin worrying if he stops sweating. This would mean his organs had ceased trying to flush out the poison in his system.
“In Vegas, they kill the weak and deranged,” Thompson reminds himself. He tries hard to pull himself together and appear normal. He turns in the keys to the Great Red Shark, complaining bitterly to the attendant about the poor performance of the Chevrolet. The clerk apologizes and suggests the Coupe de Ville. Thompson accepts it and summarily names the white Cadillac “The Whale.” He is pleased by all The Whale’s automatic gadgets, from the rear windows that leap up and down with a switch to the soft roof that can be raised or lowered with the touch of a button. He pays for the car with a credit card he later finds out has been cancelled. Fortunately for him, the computer system had not yet flagged his account. He imagines, with some delight, the call that will come to inform the car rental agency of what had become of his last rental car. But by then it will be far too late. But because the credit card he presented at the time of the rental was thought to be valid, they had no reason to detain or question him. This desire to not bother people is a “hallmark of Vegas hospitality,” Thompson says. Rules are few but one is set in stone: “Don’t Burn the Locals.” Other than that, people are pretty much left to their own devices.
Thompson arrives at the Flamingo and sees the Whale safely driven away by the valet. He is a bit taken aback when he sees that the entire hotel is “full of cops.” But of course it is: law enforcement personnel by the hundreds have arrived for the conference. At the registration desk, one cop is haggling with the hotel clerk; his reservation cannot be located. Thompson takes pleasure in interrupting and promptly being given his room key despite his disheveled and dirty appearance.