Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary
Thompson and his attorney sneak up to their room in the Flamingo via the back entrance of the hotel. A flashing red message light on the phone greets the pair as they enter. Thompson calls down to the front desk to find out who has called. Once again, Thompson has registered under the pseudonym Raoul Duke. The clerk, with some hesitation, tells him that one call was from the conference organizers to welcome him to the event; the other, he stammers, was from someone named Lucy, who says to call her “at the Americana, Room 1600.”
Thompson is taken aback. This is most unwelcome news. He goes to tell the attorney, who has already submerged himself in the bathtub. “I feel like Othello,” Thompson says, because everything that has happened seems to point to an inevitable tragedy.
The phone rings. It is the clerk calling back because Thompson had hung up on him. He wants to tell him that the woman on the phone sounded quite upset, and he thought Mr. Duke should know. Thompson is quite aware that Lucy could cause him problems, even get them both arrested. He thinks quickly and tells the desk clerk that Lucy is under surveillance and that she is a “case study.” If she should ever call back, the operator is to treat her “very gently.” The clerk agrees as long as the hotel is not under any threat of trouble. Thompson assures them they are not at any risk.
Thompson and the attorney discuss Lucy. To Thompson’s surprise, the attorney claims Lucy “flipped” for the writer; she has a serious crush on him. The only way the attorney could convince her to let him leave her at the airport was to say that Thompson was taking him “out to the desert for a showdown.” The winner of that showdown would get Lucy. She must have assumed that Thompson won the duel because she asked for him when she called the front desk.
Thompson begins packing his bags. He does not want to go but Lucy poses an incredibly real risk of incarceration. He thinks a jury would certainly believe a pretty young girl over the likes of the two of them. Her story would be even more credible when the trunk of the Whale was searched. The amount of drugs in its belly would be enough to fell an “entire platoon of Marines.” But the real rub, in Thompson’s mind, is the vast, unbridgeable gap between the drug culture and the nonusers. He knows they will insist on making everything much more dangerous and frightening than it actually is. The result will be a long, lonely life in prison.