It was a Great,Great, Night

The other day I received a comment from one Jeffery M. Barnes, he says, @BustedonEmpty.

I have stopped reading your stories because Henry is doing the same thing in every story, eating at a deli, going to a movie or poetry reading, and continually getting wasted. 

Not entirely true and partially true. 

Nervous and scared I spent last weekend going over new scenarios and possible life events for Henry— going broke, moving to a free love commune in Upper State New York, moving to Cuba and becoming an expat, moving to San Francisco, becoming a paraplegic and so on. 

David Lerner the outlaw poet, and one of the great poets of the 21st Century died too young. His work is one of a kind, some critics claim his work doesn't vary, but does it matter?    
In the 1920s Henry Miller developed a rough outline for all his books in an all-night session, Nexus and Sexus could be the same book. 

William Burrough’s Junky and Queer could be the same book. 

And so what?    

Then Mr. Barnes comments as well, why doesn’t Henry get married and go to rehab? Instead of pissing his life away?

Barnes one of 5 comments @BustedonEmpty in the last 7 years.     

It was winter, dirty snow all over the city, garbage mixed with snow. For many,  winter a kick in the chops. 

Henry was no exception, he didn’t ice skate, curl or ski, he liked to bowl though, bowling a sport for all seasons and every man. Men like Ralph Kramden, Ed Norton, Fred Sanford, Amos and Andy, Walter Sobchak and the Dude. Why isn’t bowling in the Olympics? Bowling more of a sport than say, race walking, synchronized swimming and ski ballet, bowling a centuries-old sport, the people’s sport.   

Henry walks a few blocks to his pals apartment. Cueballs apartment was in Queens.
Cueball big size, not handsome, toothless and bald.   

His apartment like a scene outta hell. Half empty bottles of Chinese beer and Chinese takeout containers, dirty underwear, used lighters, glass pipes for smoking crack and other dope, cans of half eaten food.  

His neighbors were afraid of him and wouldn’t rat him out.  

He had what they call Hoarding Disorder. 

He had a menagerie of small animals that ran free in his place--- the ferrets chased the cats, the cats chased the birds, the birds chased the flies and so on, it was a madhouse, shit, and garbage everywhere.     

Cueball had what they call a Judas Hole in his front door, dope went out and money came in. 

Henry knocks on the metal door and Cueball says,    

OK, common in, it's fuckin mess in here! 

Henry had to stand because there was no place to sit, the apartment was filled with stuff, junk of every variety, you couldn't walk around, you had to stand in place with Cueball practically on top of you, he says,  

Cueball can you front me an ounce? I got a buyer for it and can pay you back in an hour or less. Cueball busting up his sofa with a metal bat says,  

I ain't-a social worker, and I ain’t-a in the loan business.  

Henry just gets out,  happy to get out, the stench was awful and Cueball was nuts and dangerous.   

He takes the A train, Queens to Chinatown, sitting alone in an empty car.  The subway stops at Bliss on the Flushing Line, the most sensual station in New York City.    

At Bliss, a smashing MIlf of a Chinese lady sits near Henry, they know each other and are alone in the car. They're both going to Chinatown.  Her skirt lifts up as she sits exposing a lovely bush with whispy black hair, like floss.     

Henry has dinner with John Chow and May at their noodle house in Chinatown, John and May owned the opium den in the basement of Lee’s Laundry.  Henry, John, and May over a bowl of noodles, Henry straight out tells John Chow that he is broke. 

They eat noodles and drink Japanese whiskey, John Chow gives Henry a chance, on one condition, no using. He would clean the wooden opium pipes in the basement of Lee’s Laundry. May ran the place.    

It was a good setup Henry could work in the basement of Lees Laundry at night and sleep in the day. 

It was a great, great night.   


Drop Out & Go Underground

Henry lived in a small efficiency apartment in Queens that was mostly empty. He didn’t have much and he would tell people he lived in Zen-centered simplicity, which was— an embellishment that hid the naked truth, Henry couldn’t afford furniture.          

Everything he owned was on the floor, a futon, on the floor, a swing fan, on the floor, an IBM Electric Typewriter, on the floor, some large pillows for lounging when high, on the floor, and an old coffee table, technically not on the floor because it had legs.  

When Dave Spleen, the editor of the irrelevant underground rag, Headbanger, visited Henry he would sit on the radiator. If it was winter and the radiator was hot he would put a pillow or wooden fruit box on it, Spleen lucky he didn't catch fire.  

Now the money part, not a pretty picture, Henry was on crazy-pay, 1,123 US dollars a month and 130 dollars for each article he penned for Headbanger, 3 articles a month, 5 sometimes. His income was below poverty level, hardly enough to support his habits. 

Luckily, he had a small inheritance from his uncle, Franky Lucowski who owned a coat hanger factory in Pennsylvania and had died of the clap. Franky would bang the latina women who worked in the factory, eventually getting the clap.     

Well, as they say, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. 

Henry buys a few kilos of cocaine with the money from Uncle Franky. It was enough to get him started pushing the shit around Queens. 

His regular clients were the staff at Chaim’s Deli, where he ate most nights. It's common knowledge that people in the restaurant business partied after hours and everyone at Chaim’s including Chaim, an Orthodox Jew, did blow, usually partying in the deli after hours or going to a bar in the neighborhood called The London Irish Pub, a  joint beloved by the Jews of Queens.  

Henry up at 10 AM, going into the kitchen to make a pitcher of Margaritas, liver protein as he called it. 

Dave Spleen calls him at 1030 AM, in his usual hip, and to the point manner asking, 

Sherman Alexie, an indian, hot stuff do a bit on him, I want it in 24 hours, OK babe.

Henry had never heard of the guy. He finishes breakfast, a pitcher of Margaritas and a pot of percolated coffee. 

He heads out the door quickly, wearing his Mets pajama top and a pair of cut-offs, walking to East Flushing Library in Queens to research Sherman Alexie.  He is carrying a cheap leather briefcase he had found in a dumpster, it is filled with pencils and legal pads. 

As he walks he is overtaken by a school of piranhas on their way to the financial district. They are carrying magnificent briefcases, walking at the speed of light. He does his best to kept pace with them, he feels big and important like them. Looking closer at their faces he sees they’re jumpy about money, shit scared the stuff might evaporate.  
Sherman Alexie is a Spokane indian who was born on a reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. He writes about his early life in the short story Superman and Me. 

His mother had a minimum wage job which was middle-class by Indian standards. But, like most indians on the reservation they were poor. His father was an avid reader and the family house was cluttered with piles of books that would often cave in and collapse. It was a task walking around the place without tripping on a book. 

In Superman and Me Sherman talks about learning to read when he was 3, reading a comic book and associating the panels with the written narrative.  

One day he picks up a book, examining it hard, the words were clear as mud, and as if the gods were blowing in his ear, he sees that the words on the pages are corralled into paragraphs. Sherman says it like this,

I didn't have the vocabulary to say 
"paragraph," but I realized that a paragraph 
was a fence that held words. The words inside a paragraph worked together for a common purpose. They had some specific reason for being inside the same fence.  

Still 3, the genius indian baby dropped from mars, begins to see the world in paragraphs, in his own words,

This knowledge delighted me. I began to think of everything in terms of paragraphs. Our reservation was a small paragraph within the United States. My family's house was a paragraph, distinct from the other paragraphs of the LeBrets to the north, the Fords to our south and the Tribal School to the west. Inside our house, each family member existed as a separate paragraph but still had genetics and common experiences to link us. Now, using this logic, I can see my changed family as an essay of seven paragraphs: mother, father, older brother, the deceased sister, my younger twin sisters and our adopted little brother.

By the age of 5 he is in kindergarten reading The Grapes of Wrath while the other kids are busting their balls reading, Dick, Spot, and Jane. 

Sherman the wunderkind  was seen as an oddball on the reservation, indian kids weren't supposed to be geniuses. 

In 1985 Sherman Alexie applies and is accepted to Jesuit Gonzaga University in Spokane, one of a few Indian kids to make it to college from his reservation.   

Initially, his work focused on the troubles of Indian life on the reservation, alcoholism, poverty, and despair. Later as he matures as a writer his work is less focussed on indianess. Sherman begins weighing what it is to be human, as demonstrated in the following poem,

Grief calls us to the Things to the Things of This World 

The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?

Who is blessed among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because

He’s astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. “Hey, Ma,”

I say, “Can I talk to Poppa?” She gasps,
And then I remember that my father

Has been dead for nearly a year. “Shit, Mom,”
I say. “I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—

How did I forget?” “It’s okay,” she says.
“I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—

And I didn’t realize my mistake
Until this afternoon.” My mother laughs

At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

Not about indianess, just a family dealing with the loss of a loved one voicing tender humor.  

Calling home to talk with your father, forgetting that he died a year ago is either pitiful or funny, take your choice. For Sherman and his mom, that they both forgot the father died is cozy funny.    

It’s okay,” she says.
“I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—

And I didn’t realize my mistake
Until this afternoon.” 

The bit about angels is off the charts superb. Angels doing their best to fuck with us here on earth, maybe they think they are doing us a favor. 

they slap our souls with their cold wings.
Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Henry leaves the East Flushing Library and heads home with plenty of notes and plenty in mind. 

Back at his apartment he opens a bottle of Jack Daniels and boils some brats in a burnt black gallon can which he places on the stove.  

It is 130 PM and Henry remembers he has an appointment at the Queens Welfare Office for his annual physical. 

The administrators— shrinks, doctors, nurses, and caseworkers, all social welfare workers who didn't give a flying shit about welfare. All of them at the bottom of the health care food chain, dead meat in their perspective space at the welfare office, waiting to punch out at 530 PM.   

There were thousands of hard-up folks passing in and out of the doors of the welfare office every day, mere shadows to the social welfare workers.  

The highlight of the welfare worker's day was gossiping as to who was fucking who in which broom closet or X ing off their calendars, anxiously awaiting the weekend.  

Henry shows up at the Welfare Office at 230 PM, one hour late. He then makes his way through the bleak gray halls to the infirmary, takes a number and sits down. 

He is given a medical history form to fill out and told to sit down and wait. Henry an hour late for his appointment.   

The form the usual stuff, asking about blood pressure, chronic illness, your families medical history, medications you take, alcohol, drug use and so on. 

Henry borrows a pen from the desk clerk and fills out the form, jotting down anything that came to mind.   

He felt awkward around doctors, doctors, gods who did everything right, everyone respected them, they were rich and their hands were always clean.

Henry had body odor and he bit his nails. He was on the outs, jobless, he was godless and bad mannered. He was a loser and the doctors were winners.  

He tried to talk smart to doctors because he felt small and buglike next to them.    

Mr. Lucowski, go to Room 7, Dr. Sphincter’s office.   

He goes to Room 7 and sits down, the doctor says, 

Hello, Henry, I’m Dr. Sphincter, you’re here today for a general physical that will establish your eligibility for welfare. I’m going to ask you a few questions which will be followed by an anal exam and some X-rays.

Anal exam? The guy's name is Sphincter? 

Henry felt queer! Sphincter says,

OK let’s get started,

Are you on any medication?  Henry says, 

if u mean pharma dope, yes the stuff I get here,

this a lie, Henry thought pharma dope was a CIA conspiracy, cooked up at the Pentagon with stuff in it that would subdue radical thought. 

Do you use alcohol or drugs and if so which ones and how often? Henry says, 

All of them all the time,

How about your bowels? Henry says,

what about em? 

Are you regular? Henry says, 

Occasionally on good days, yes, but I get constipated after I smoke opium in Chinatown. I have read that Hitler’s feces was gunmetal gray, mine is too, but I can assure you I’m not a Nazi, Sphincter says, 

take it up with Dr. Hiccup the Psychiatrist, now lay on the examination table, turn on your side and drop your pants below your knees.

Sphincter puts on his rubber gloves and lubes up, which seemed perversely sexual to Henry. 

He inserts 2 fingers into Henry’s rectum and it feels like 10, probing about, pushing on glands that were most likely hemorrhoids with the tips of his fingers. Henry says,

Fuuucck that hurts! Are you enjoying yourself Sphincter, you bleeding sadist? The Doctor finishes and says,

OK, that’s it, the nurse will direct you to the X-Ray department, I will pass the results of your physical on to your Psychiatrist, DR. Hiccup.

He runs out of Queen's Welfare full speed ahead, Henry hated the fucking place and thought  Queen's Welfare Office was a step away from Riker’s Island and that Riker’s Island was a step away from Auschwitz, all of them with certain things in common.  

Queen’s Welfare, Riker’s Island, Auschwitz, mental hospitals, orphanages and prisons all over the world— places a sadist can go and have the time of his life and get paid for it. 

It took Henry a half hour to walk from the Queen's Welfare Office to his apartment. In his apartment he gets a phone call from a Miss Pibow from the welfare office, it went like this, 

Hello, Mr. Lucowski my name is Miss Pibow, I’m a social worker at Queens Welfare Office. I’m calling to inform you that Dr. Hiccup and Dr. Sphincter have filed a Disqualification Consent Agreement against you, you are banned from the grounds of the Queens Welfare Office indefinitely and your Social Security Disability payments will be canceled as of next month. Henry then says, 

What? Miss Pibow answers, 

As a result of a lengthy dialogue, your doctors have diagnosed you with a particular psychosis, homicidal ideation, and they think you are a borderline Nazi. Henry says,

Wait a minute, OK, my feces is the same color as Hitlers but I'm no Nazi, I eat at a kosher deli every day. Just between you and me Miss Pibow it's common knowledge that most shrinks are outta their cords and I can assure you Dr. Sphincter has a permanent installation up his ass. Miss Pibow says,

Watch your language Lucowski, if you think the Disqualification Consent Agreement was filed unjustly you can go to the Legal Aid Society and sue the welfare office, good luck with that! And then Miss Pibow laughs. Henry says as Miss Pibow hangs up,


The shit at the welfare office, accused of being a killer Nazi just wasn't true He was an artist, a talented writer, a fragile being. Henry laid in bed the next few days, drinking, smoking pot and swallowing downers. It was his way to deal with anger.  

Institutions— welfare offices, prisons, governments, rehab centers, schools, colleges, the great alienators that often fail to cultivate and inversely through the actions of the stoney-hearted drive people underground.     

That was Henry’s excuse for dropping out if anyone asked.


Monkey on a Leash

Henry waking slowly, itching from dope snorted the night before. It was 10 AM, he turns his radio on and dials in WBAI, 99.5 blues, then, walking naked to his small balcony he lights a joint and sits on a wooden fruit-box. He could smell leaves burning, he loved the smell, looking into the sky he sees an orange glow radiating through the roundish fat clouds, the gods busy carving pumpkins for Halloween. 

It was Indian summer in Queens, sometime between 1970 and 1080.

Henry hadn’t been working for weeks, he didn’t have writer’s block, the thought of writing just didn’t move him, he knew he could write if wanted. 

When he wanted to write he would sit in front of his IBM Electric Typewriter and start typing any fucking thing in the world to get the ball rolling. The thrill of knowing he could go anywhere with it jump-started the process, turning a light on that put him in a poetic region that only artists know.    

He had been reading poems by Dylan Thomas on his balcony, his butt smarting from sitting on the wooden fruit-box. 

His favorite Dylan Thomas poem was

Clown in the Moon

My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.

I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream. 

Henry loved the ease of the poem and the bitter-sweetness of it

I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,

It was the moon holding forth, a melancholy clown pouring his heart out, the moon volatile and fluid, his voice quivering.

So tremulously like a dream. 

Henry reading the verse over and over on his 14th-floor balcony, screaming, chanting it as mantra, knowing the gods and the moon were listening. 

Anyway, Dave Spleen the editor of the irrelevant rag, Headbanger calls and says,

Henry baby, can you do a bit on Neal Cassidy? I need it in 24 hours, fax it to me. 

And that was it, Spleen not much for bullshit. 

Some say Neal Cassidy was the spark that lit the Beat movement, Cassidy was the inspiration for the booksGo, by John Clellon Homes, On the Road by Jack Kerouac and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Ken Kesey. His flow of consciousness letters to Jack Kerouac written on Benzedrine influenced Kerouac’s writing style. 

Blame it on the bennies, but Neal had a hell of a time sitting and writing. Regardless, he managed to write a book, The First Third and a collection of his letters, both were published after his death.  

Cassidy was known publicly as a crazed, balls to the walls, speed, booze and LSD freak who could drive at break-neck speed from New York to California in a day and a half none stop. 

His wife Carolyn Cassidy told it differently though, they maintained a traditional home and had kids. For a good portion of his life, Neal held down a job on the railroad as a brakeman and most likely the way he drove a car, the bosses knew better than to to let him operate a train. 

Of all the Cassidy stuff out there, Henry liked the story of him meeting Charles Bukowski. At the time Buk was penning his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man for the LA rag Open City, busy putting down the other staffers who he considered to be hippies. Allen Ginsberg contacts Buk, asking him if he and Neal could visit him at the office of Open City, Buk says fine.

The threesome, kings of 20th century literati, sit down at Buk’s desk and have a beer. They talk awhile and only the gods know what they said? Then Cassidy who couldn’t sit in one place for long suggests they go out for a drive. At the car, a supped up Pontiac, Buk, who was nervous about driving with Cassidy sits in the back seat with 2 sixes of beer in tow.

Neal drives like a madman, Allen Ginsberg who is sitting shotgun is unfazed and laughing, Buk is frozen with fear and dumb-founded. Actually, Neal Cassidy was a skillful driving who could park a car on a dime. 

It was a round trip and when they got back to the Open City office it was clear Buk had pissed his pants. He never wrote about the crazy ride or pissing his pants, but he often told the story of the experience to friends.  
Henry, not a big fan of Neal Cassidy who was a Scorpio, Scorpios, bewildered souls adrift at sea. From what he read about Cassidy, he reckoned Neal was a kind of a sideshow freak performing for the beatniks and hippies that surrounded him. His wife Carol Cassidy made reference to this saying, 

They treated him like a trained bear. Neal took any drug, any pill, anyone handed him. He didn't care. He was doing his damnedest to get killed. 

Henry finishes the story in a few hours and faxes it to Dave Spleen at Headbanger. After a little editing, it was ready for print. 

Spleen liked things expedient and hygienic. The two worked well together, Headbanger, not pretentious like Rolling Stone, it was freak-show journalism at its finest.

It was 9 PM and Henry was hungry. He showers and washes his hair which was uncut and turning grey. Then dressing for the fall nightfaded jeans, a knee-length black leather coat, and a pair of scuffed-up engineer boots.

It was a 10-minute walk to Chaim’s Deli from his apartment in Queens. The deli was built in the early 60s, it was a single level brick building occupying the corner of a downtown street, the entire corner was windowed. Henry sat at his usual booth which had a good view of the street, he didn't look out the window much because his regular waitress Ruby kept him busy pulling his chain. She says, happy to see him, 
Jesus Henry, we sure have missed you, Chaim was wondering where you’ve been, you know we love you here doll! Henry red-faced and wanting to change the subject says,

Ruby such sweet-talk, thanks babe, does the noodle kugel have a lot of raisins in it? Raisins give me heartburn you know, Ruby says,

raisins in the kugel? Would it give you heartburn if I told you the kugel was made with love? He says,

Made with love by the junk, Fat Frank in the kitchen? He probably spit in the kugel and only the gods know what else he put in it! Ruby says, 

You're disgusting Henry, I’ve heard quite enough, so whataya want anyway? He says,

A corned beef sandwich on pumpernickel, a large bowl of coleslaw, some potato tots well done, a pint of Jack Daniels with a bucket of ice, a couple of bottles of spring water and some noodle kugel for dessert.  

Ruby looking pissed does a brisk about face and walks back to the kitchen, he could see she was talking to Fat Frank, likely telling him to spit in his kugel. 

Henry thought she was immature, Ruby behaved like she was in high school. That said, she was fun to get drunk with and she gave off the chart head.

Anyway, Henry finishes eating and pays the bill, then walking to the Rawson Street Station to catch a subway to Greenwich Village. 

He boards the train and the only available seat was next to a fat man, he asked the fat man if he could move some and let him through to the window seat, the fat man who smelled like Roquefort cheese looks at Henry and says,

why aren’t you a sweet thang now, sit on my lap, why I’ll rock you like you've never been rocked before. 

Henry walks to the next car which was full and stands until the subway gets to the village. Gay sex with a fat man that smelled like cheese on a subway wasn’t in the cards for him, at least not today. 

As he leaves the underground station and reaches street level he is wonderstruck by the red, orange and yellow colors of the fall leaves and the agreeable feeling the brown, orange and pink low rise brick buildings gave off. 

When he reaches 90 Greenwich Ave., he notices a dive called Johnny’s Bar and feels a definite pull. He goes in and sits at the bar, which was painted blue once but didn’t have much color left on it. The walls were covered with what looked like old cheat sheets from Aqueduct Racetrack, odd lists, and moldy stuffed animals. People were there for one reason only, to drink allot and drink cheap. 

Henry goes to the men’s room to take a pee and then snorts a few lines of cocaine. Back at the bar, he orders a boilermaker. 

There wasn't a jukebox or any music in Johnny’s Bar, he sees a handwritten sign that reads,

Rolling Rock $1.25 Pints $3.00

Henry bored out of his cord is making more and more trips to the men’s room. The bar full of barflies with their head down, staring at their drinks or at the walls. 

Then Johnny who was behind the bar asked Henry, 

you got the shits or somethin? You sure are makin allot of trips to the head

Henry looks at Johnny smiling and says, 

sorry about that, I forgot to put my catheter in, if you’re worried about your water bill I can leave a few extra bucks. Then Johnny says,

cut the shit, you're snorting coke in the head, you can snort at da bar if you want.

Henry pours some coke on the bar and lines it off. Johnny goes down on it and snorts the stuff like a madman. Then, looking up at Henry, his nose covered in white powder, he says,

try soma dis, it’s top-shelf, imported from Mehico! 

Johnny puts 8 shot glasses on the bar and fills them with mescal, the two suck em down. 

Things go blank, Henry passes out and falls off his bar stool to the floor. 

When he comes too he is on his back, naked, laying on a tile floor near a large wooden tub filled with cold water. He stands up, goes to the tub, climbs a few steps to a deck and slowly goes in. 

After the freezing plunge, he goes and sits in the steam room. The extended sweat relieves his body of unwanted booze and dope toxins. He raps up in a towel and walks to the front counter asking the attendant, where his clothes were, how he got there and where he was? The guy at the counter says,

You're at da 10th Street Spa buddy, you staggered in a few hours ago, here’s your locker key, where closing in 15 minutes so get the hell outta here so I can go home.   

Henry dresses and catches a taxi home to Queens thinking,

I just don't know sometimes, booze, and dope leads me wherever it wants, I feel like a monkey on a leash. 



The Subway to Times Square is a Masterpiece

Henry up at 10 AM, ready for breakfast— a Veggiemite sandwich on rye toast with Belgium mustard and a boilermaker with a raw egg inside. 

After a couple of boilermakers, he could get the Veggiemite down. It was awful stuff, concocted by the British chef, Xavier Marcel Boulestin in the 1930s to get revenge on Australia for leaving the British Commonwealth in 1901. Nobody in the world could handle the fishy caca-like odor and smack of Veggiemite apart from macho ozzy jackeroos with knackers the size of red kangaroos and Henry after a few boilermakers.  

Dave Spleen the editor of the irrelevant underground rag, Headbanger had asked Henry to do a piece on Hunter S. Thompson. Spleen would call him on the phone and say,

Hey babe, can you do a bit on Hunter Thompson in the next 24 hours?

Dave Spleen, the hippest man in the world, asking him if he would do a bit on this or that— without any mandate and big chatter because Henry needed latitude. 

Some folks say Gonzo journalism was dropped from Mars to Earth sometime between 1971 and 1972 when Hunter S. Thompson was hired by Sports Illustrated to cover a motorcycle race in Las Vegas.

Hunter opens the story by documenting the list of stimulates he takes with him, mescaline, tequila, a case of Budweiser, LSD, 2 ounces of weed, uppers, downers, and anything else you can envision. 

There was scant reference in the 2500 word story to the motorcycle race, instead, it chronicles Hunter’s trip to Las Vegas, a high octane, dope-fueled rampage into the lizard kingdom.   

Hunter says it like this,

a savage journey into the heart of the American dream.

The all-American magazine for jocks, Sports Illustrated didn’t accept the story and didn’t pay Hunter, but when Jann Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone magazine, read it and his reactions was,

we were flat knocked out!

Wenner hires Hunter as a freelance correspondent, their relationship goes on to become a legendary roller coaster ride. Hunter’s essays for Rolling Stone were second to none. All of the writers at the magazine, then and now are mere shadows to Hunter.    

Hunter, the apologist of freak power goes on to pour hefty doses of Gonzo coulis on American politics, causes de célébrité, conspiracy theories and high profile sporting events for Rolling Stone, as well as writing his own books—Kingdom of Fear, Generation of Swine, The Great Shark Hunt and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Fear and Loathing was later made into a Hollywood film starring his close friend, Johnny Depp.  

In 1971 Hunter lost his job at Rolling Stone Magazine. He and Ralph Steadmen were sent to Zaire at great expense by Jann Wenner to cover the Ali, Foremen fight. Hunter was on the outs with Rolling Stone before he left for Zaire and this assignment was his last chance to redeem himself. 

The day of the fight Hunter and Ralph Steadmen 

got thoroughly ripped at their hotel on a bottle of Jules Robin Vintage Cognac—only the gods know how they got their hands on it in Muslim Zaire, but some say it was a gift from the countries dictator, Mubuto Sese Seko.  

The reprobate duo never made it to Rumble in the Jungle as Ali called the fight. The adolescent in Hunter just didn’t feel like going. In the end, there was no story for Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone magazine on the greatest sporting event of the 20th Century.

Then his second wife, Anita Thompson left him because he brought hookers and groupies to his house outside of Aspen that was called the Owl Farm, parading them around naked in front of her.

There were a number of things that lead to it—constant boozing and doping, the divorce from Anita, but Hunter lapses into chronic depression which is followed by another bout of writer's block, which he had experienced on and off during his writing career. 

When the final count is in he only knows why he was depressed and couldn't write, but on February 20, 2005, Hunter S. Thompson walks outside to a picnic table at the Owl Farm and sits down at a wooden picnic table and blows his brains out.  

He speaks of the why of the suicide in his suicide note.

No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun—  anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax – This won’t hurt.

Henry sends the finished Hunter S. Thompson story to Headbanger at 9 PM by fax, it was so hot that it set a Queen’s telephone pole ablaze! 

Anyway, he had been drinking Bud Light all day and was hungry.

He dresses for the cool fall night in a leather coat with a scarf, thick socks, and red hightop Converse All-Stars. He would go to Jimmy's Dinner in Times Square to eat a massive breakfast  ceremoniously in honor of Hunter S. Thompson, who often said,

breakfast is the only meal worth eating!

Breakfast a sacrament Hunter carried out in a prescribed order, but that’s another story.
To save time Henry would forgo walking and would take the subway from Queens to Times Square. He walks a short way to Rawson Street Station and scrambles down the steps into the subway tunnel. The station was painted drab grey and green, he walks by a bum passed out who is soaked in urine, lying on a bench, some might call this local color. 

He goes to the platform and stands close the tracks staring at and fantasizing about stepping on the 3rd rail, wondering if his rubber souled Converse All-Stars would interrupt the current flow from frying him to a crisp?

Then the number 7 train to Times Square arrives, the brakes give off a repulsive high-pitched sound like chalk squeaking on a blackboard. 

Henry boards the number 7 train, the cars are covered with graffiti, some New Yorkers referred to the spray-painted trains as masterpieces— their wrath was masked in humor.

He sits next to an old lady who is nodding out again and again. She was struggling to stay awake because sleeping in public was faux pas for the silent generation. When number 7 hits 49th Street Station at Times Square, Henry nudges the old girl on the shoulder waking her, she thanks him and gets off the train walking out ahead of him. 

As he exits the station stairwell he is hit in the face with a gust of cool night air and the smell of beer, burnt rubber, and hot tamales, he feels alive. 

Henry gets to Junior’s Dinner at 9 45 PM, he walks inside and sits at the counter on a swivel stool ordering grits, fried eggs, cornbread, black-eyed peas, poached catfish and a vodka and orange juice, with plenty of hot sauce. 

After dinner and more than a few drinks, he walks to Chinatown to puff opium in the basement of Lee’s Laundry. 

At Lees, he goes to the alley-side of the 4 level brick building to an unpainted metal door and knocks hard. The door swings open and he is greeted by an elderly Chinese woman, May, who is always there. May is dressed in a drab dark blue traditional Chinese suit, wearing her grey hair in a single braid. She says to him,

Henwee, not see in rong time!

He follows May down some metal steps to the basement, it is dark but he can see a dozen or so people, black guys, Chinamen and 3 or so ladyboys in dresses, all passed out and with their heads on wooden blocks and laying on rice mates. She leads him to his rice mate that also has a block to lay your head on when your out, he sits down and waits a half hour until May returns with an opium pipe, the bowl is packed tight with black tar opium that is rounded off at top. She lights the pipe and Henry puffs away until he nodes outs.  

Going to the opium den in the basement of Lee’s Laundry was raw and rugged, the place had been open for years and was owned by the Chinatown mafia or Pen Wang who paid off New York Citie's finest to look the other way. 

There was a Chinese bouncer who sat at a desk in a small dirty brick room beyond the den who helped May pack the opium into pipe bowls and clean the pipes, he looked like an NFL offensive lineman. Smoking junk was at all like boozing, Lee’s patrons weren’t looking for a fight, they were there to forget, dream and because they were hooked on junk.  

Henry off in a dream, laying on a rice mate with his head on a small wood antique block. He dreams he is flying with angels in Elysium hovering as he waits to descend as a spirit to earth to be placed in a mother's womb.
Flying with angels on all sides was a feeling beyond divine, a feeling of being surrounded by love and wholehearted acquiescence on all sides.  

It was the stuff of Dante’s Divine Comedy. 

Then, angelic Henry wakes in his mother’s womb, feeling nurtured and peaceful until he hears screaming as his head is wrenched by a large mitt and he is pulled out of his out of her womb only to be blinded by bright light and slapped on his ass by the same meat hook that pulled him out. 

3 years later his mother, Helen Lucowski takes him on an outing to Coney Island Beach. They are on the Boardwalk and Helen runs into some friends she knows who offer her a beer and she starts sucking them down and partying. 

In the meantime, little Henry has worked his way out of his stroller and is walking around. He jumps into the sea, he begins to go under, not trying to save himself, everything goes into a spiral around him and then he sees a light at the end of a tunnel and he hears happy voices and chatter, he is back again flying with angels in Elysium, it is glorious. 

Then Helen notices he has flown the coop and lets out a big scream, a lifeguard comes and dives off the Boardwalk and pulls little Henry out, resuscitating him, little Henry looks up and blows out seawater mixed with puke into the lifeguard's face and thinks,

RATS, back again!