Raoul Duke

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Sometime before or after my journey, posing for a photo I knew would be my last.

* * * U R G E N T * * *

Raoul Duke

Paradiso Springs Hotel

8110 W. Mains

Las Vegas, NV

July 18th, 1971


The bamboo under my fingernails affords me no comfort as I contemplate where the fuck you could've run off to. You left me on a slippery slope, you bastard.

I'd been sipping a mint julep at the poolside cantina when I finally realized that you'd gone off on another harebrained adventure into some uncharted territory never intended for the presence of man. I nearly dropped my glass - sweet Jesus man, you're my retained legal counsel! I felt quite vulnerable; jeopardized by a predicament unanticipated, yet thrust into my lap like some cheap skirt walking the strip. There I was, here, wondering about my next step, my next breath... my next drink. A man refilled my cocktail glass; I continued my introspection. Was there some way to salvage myself for a moment? Could I find some semblance of emotion in the solitude granted to me by your disappearance? Was this mescaline ever going to kick in? Oh, how the rabbit hole spirals, you miserable Samoan.

Returning to my suite was a challenge which I bested like a mighty knight of the table round; so many savages in these depraved halls. The tourists... the lounge singers... Menacing vibrations were all around me. Comfort came in the form of an acid soaked blotter paper, safe within familiar dwellings. Yet, as a lone human, drifting into tragedy only to return to the savage glow of an uncontrollable substance, I felt strangely reborn -- the birth of Venus, leaping from a shell that I'd entered in vain. My eyes couldn't stand it: I let them fall, like so many card houses and ether-ravaged reporters.

But what no one could know, and what no man could predict, was the insanity of the closed eye. The black eyelids that I was able to see through, clear as the transparent stars spangling the banner of our confederacy. How far would this cave lead? Did I need to know? No.

I didn't need to know.

This was nothing, you horrid lightweight.

But I fought my better instincts. I fought the last bastions of sanity lurking in the cobwebbed corners of my progressively fading faculties. The noise of the static confused me; Is this my brain melting, I thought, finally all vestige of coherent thought washed away, or was I merely laying in a room of some sort with a television full of static and a suitcase full of contraband? I stumbled, even in my own thoughts; Now, how would Horatio Alger handle this situation? I boldly carried onward, confident in the will of the Great Magnet. I had no other choice.

But let me tell you, good doctor: of your experience, your love of Jefferson fucking Airplane, your sadistic tendencies towards rabbits, your goddamn guava fruits and your false suicide a la aquatic bathroom refuge, you haven't covered half of the ground I've walked. And I never even left my god forsaken suite.

After my second round of coca leaf extract I began to focus in on the necessary perspective. My prerogative. A mission in my own body, to find something worthwhile. Your absence was not in my thoughts any longer; survival instincts swelled from some unknown origin. I searched the drawers and cabinets, under the furniture and behind the wall units. God can't play a player, good doctor. I wasn't to be duped by a game of three card monty, handed down under the hellish heat of Vegas and her setting sun. It was the last of the buffalo, and so too was I. The last.

The minutes grew long for a few hours (I suppose). The cigarette fell from my lip. A sign of some looming specter -- a phantom, real and morbid, calling for my downfall? A possibility. A capsule for my troubles. The remainder of last night's shrimp cocktail. A hollow pit in my chest.

I awoke from the round-trip wearing a halo; a divine keepsake, ever present. A reminder of my disconnection. And as I reassembled my typewriter, found lodged within the broken glass of my suite's television set, I remembered your disappearance. Calm washed over me; you were still gone. I still had some basis in reality.

And now you receive my words, reading few I'm sure. All is quiet on the western front: the storm has passed. Those animals no longer lounge around in darkened corridors, making a tentative grab for my throat. Yet your presence is still required, as the mission is far from complete. Unforetold dangers await on this savage journey to the heart of the American Dream, and still, I never seem to remember choosing to face them. Or it, for that matter. But that's irrelevant. Buy the ticket; take the ride. You must return. I am not on fucking friendly country here. Obstacles to encounter... to assess... Supplies needed -- food, clothes, medicine. The future of culture and my legal liability depend on your return.

Enclosed is the telephone number of a good barber, and a few Cuban cigars. I am making an investment, you understand? They're for me: DO NOT touch them.



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