Three years ago, Hunter Stockton Thompson died. Here is my only HST story. Enjoy.
October of 1990, a wrong way, hit and run, illegal alien drunk driver hit me head on in Shafter, California, near Bakersfield. He was in a 77 Monte Carlo, I was riding a 1984 Canadian-spec Honda Nighthawk S.
You could say, from a physics perspective, that he won.
Two friends of mine and I were on a weekend road trip from So Cal to somewhere up in Northern California. I forget, but it may have been Laguna Seca. Anyhoo, we didn’t get to leave until late at night, and it was around midnight when I met this young, drunk Mexican, who decided after he hit me, that he would continue driving with my bike wedged under his front bumper. After a hundred meters of sparks, he left the car and ran on foot.
The CHP went to his house the next day, but he lied and said he was someone else. Once they realized they had been duped, they came back, and he had literally left town. Nice work guys. Have another donut.
I had a torn PCL and ACL in my left knee, and was put in a splint from ankle to hip. My right shoulder was separated. My left leg had a fractured tibia and fibula. Not a scratch on me, thanks to my full set of Fieldsheer leathers and AGV helmet. Oh, a nice concussion, too. Evidently, I hit the blue Monte Carlo at a combined speed of about 90 MPH with the crown of my helmet. At that point, I flipped and landed on my feet, whereupon I began tumbling. When I came to, I tried to get up, but I thought there was something on my left ankle pinning me down. Not true, it was the fact that my leg was bending at the fracture point, mid-tibia, instead of the ankle. Nice. I wasn’t going anywhere.
I was working for a fine HMO at the time, as an independent contractor. Of course, my independently purchased health insurance ran out the week before. So I either paid for treatment myself, or through the California “victim of violent crimes” fund.
At first, the docs just used pins and plaster to set the leg. That did nothing. Bone growth, but no bone fusion. I got a new doctor, and he recommended a tibial rod. Of course, our friends at the fund wouldn’t pay, and nobody would take someone with a pre-existing condition.
Or would they?
I worked for the finest HMO in California, I had access to every company that contracted with them, I could find out who would hire me and accept my pre-existing condition.
Enter Martin Marietta.
I worked for them for 7 weeks. At that point, I had the surgery scheduled. Rather than just using the reamer to get through my tibia, the doc had to slice my shin open and use a hammer and chisel to fracture the shinbone. Lovely.
So it took me about 3 weeks to recover from the surgery. But hey, I was still getting 7 weeks off at full pay! So during the 3rd week, I went body surfing every day in Huntington Beach or Malibu. I had a wetsuit, and a plastic cast. I used the boogie board as a crutch until I hit the water, then I could swim. I had several conversations with lifeguards, but they greenlighted me, especially when I wasn’t loaded up with percocet.
In week 4, I was truly bored. So after having read “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” again, I decided I would go to Aspen, and hunt down Hunter S. Thompson.
I was accompanied by my post-surgical amigos, percocet, vicodin ES, the brothers: Tylenol 3 and Tylenol 4, and some of the finest tequila available in Baja California.
So the convertible and I went off in search of Gonzo. Which happened to be my nickname in high school.
Last time I was in Aspen, it was still a small little ski town. Ted Bundy was news, not Fila or Versace. Times had changed.
So I found a hotel, conviently located near a local bar, in the middle of the village. After seeing that my nice little western town had turned into yuppie hell, and being in monumental pain, I made the only rational decision.
I would find out, in a blind tasting, what the best Scotch in Aspen was.
I had the barkeep line up shots of everything he had, with a note stating what it was. Eleven shots, I recall. He was reluctant at first, oh sure. Why serve massive amounts of alcohol to some schmuck in shorts with bloodstains coming out of his left leg bandages?
Because this is science, dammit.
And, with Mr. Jackson’s encouragement, it could be profitable for the mixologist.
So I carefully tasted each of the glasses. I predicted that Johnnie Walker Red would be abysmal in a blind test, and indeed it was. Johnnie Walker Black fared much better. Other nameless blends fared poorly. Single malts such as Oban, Glenmorangie, and Glenfiddich did well. However, I was indeed shocked at my choice for number one.
A fucking blend.
Where is my street cred now? Huh? I pick a blend.
This pissed me off, indeed.
I threw down the platinum card, left an honorable tip, and took a taxi to the Woody Creek Inn.
I was gonna find Thompson on his own stomping grounds, and kick his single malt ass.
That is, assuming he wasn’t armed to the teeth at the time.
So the cab took me there. Long, costly fare from Aspen to the Woody Creek inn. I entered, and expected an Ennio Morricone soundtrack to blast through my ears.
I limped up to the bar, and made my order.
Fucking Chivas neat, dammit. No, I don’t want a single malt.
Well, the barkeep, after plying with Mr. Lincoln. Ok, a couple of Mr. Lincolns, told me that HST was out of town. Gone. Or at worst, not coming into town from the compound. Evidently, snorting cocaine off of the breasts of seventeen year olds was more widely accepted in his home than at the tavern I was patronizing.
Stagger to the bathroom…stagger back. Order another.
But that barkeep had a surprise. A cab! Bastard.
I refused. A tall man who did not recently have invasive surgery informed me that it would truly be a wise decision to vacate the premises. I inquired if this was a request or a demand. He stated that at this point, it was still a request, but if I wished to keep the tibial rod in my tibia, I should heed his advice before it became a demand.
So I got booted from the Woody Creek. The cabbie was understanding, and quite appreciative that I did not “yawn in Technicolor” while in his vehicle.
Once at the hotel, things kind of got dark. A friend told me to keep a journal on the trip, and the notes from this particular evening are quite incomprehensible.
I managed to leave the next day, after putting the linens in the shower to remove the chunky parts.
My western quest continued, but I was putting the HST chapter behind me. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, at least, until I got my hands on some kick-ass Valerian root.
When I came back to my abode in SoCal, I sat down on my leather recliner, and went through the mail.
I found a letter from the hotel in Aspen where I sought respite. Evidently, the credit card company gave them my real address, and they informed me that they had charged my card a fifty dollar cleaning fee. If I wished to discuss it, they would be happy to do so.
I opened up a Pilsner Urquell, and said hello to Mr. Vicodin.
Perhaps it might wise not to appeal this charge.
The leg was healing fine, and chicks dig scars. I put in my two weeks notice at Martin Marietta, and became an independent contractor again.
Hasta la victoria, siempre.