The Gizzard of Darkness – by Hunter S Thompson

We drove north in the darkness toward Ignacio – just the three of us, huddled nervously in the cab of the old BMW 3.0 coupe. There was a light fog hovering around the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge, along with some stains of fresh blood on the deck. . . there had been a massive collision a few days earlier.

Driving the bridge has never been safe, but in recent years – ever since it became a sort of low-tech Rube Goldberg experiment for traffic-flow specialists – it has become a maze of ever-changing uncertain lanes and a truly fearful experience to drive. At least half the lanes are always blocked off by flashing lights, fireballs and huge generator trucks full of boiling asphalt and crews of wild-eyed men wearing hard hats and carrying picks and shovels.

They are never gone, and the few lanes they leave open for what they call “civilian traffic” are often littered with huge red Lane Markers that look like heavy iron spittoons and cause terror in the heart of any unwitting driver who doesn’t know they are rubber. . . Nobody wants to run over one of those things, except on purpose, and in that case you want to take out a whole stretch of them, maybe 15 or 18 in a single crazed pass at top speed with the door hanging open.

We were not brooding on these things, however, as out little car sped through the light midnight traffic toward our strange destination in Ignacio. . . It was Saturday night and we were running late; our appointment with the Clairvoyant had been for 11 P.M., but a bizarre call from Washington had held us up.

The story, this time, was that CIA Chief William Casey – a key figure in the mushrooming Iran/Nicaragua scandal – had long since been “disappeared” by his CIA cohorts, and that the elderly gent now sequestered behind a screen of CIA bodyguards in a penthouse suite at Georgetown University Hospital is not Casey at all, but some cleverly crafted impostor.

“It’s only a dummy,” said my source. “They’re going to shoot him full of cancer or some kind of animal poison just as soon as they can get him alone – and then they’ll call a presidential press conference to announce that Casey lived and died as a true American Hero – who unfortunately went to his death with all the secrets of the Iranian Weapons Transactions and Oliver North and the criminal guilt of President Reagan still locked in his crippled brain.

“That will kill the whole case,” he explained. “They will blame it all on Casey, and them bury that poor old wino in a closed casket and call for a New Beginning.”

My informant is rarely wrong on these twisted, top-secret stories from the dark side. But they tend to be hard to confirm, and this one was no different.

I finally gave up and decided to lay off the political stories for a few days. My old friend Heest, a disbarred attorney, suggested another option. He was on his way “up the road,” he said, to visit his personal psychic in Ignacio, to get some legal advice. He was facing charges of felony assault in Oakland for stabbing a stranger in the buttocks with a fork in a waterfront tavern, and his lawyer had quit for reasons he refused to discuss.

Not even the public defender would touch it, he said bitterly, so he had decided to turn his case over to the psychic, who had never let him down. “She is harder than cheap nails,” he said, “and she draws all of her wisdom from Michael, who is very sharp about politics – maybe she can help you out on this Casey thing.”

“Who is this Michael?” I asked him. “Does he have any links to The Agency?”

Heest laughed distractedly, but I could see he was getting frantic. He had suffered a broken wrist and loss of vision in one eye, as a result of the stabbing incident, and he was helpless to drive his own car. “Please help me!” he screamed.

“Don’t worry,” I told him. “I’ll drive.”

It was long after midnight when we finally got to Ignacio, where the psychic was waiting impatiently. She was a nice-looking woman of 39 or so, wearing a stylish white dress and no shoes. There was nothing about her home to suggest a lifetime of witchcraft.

Heest had gone to pieces. It was not his first offense and he was well-known in Oakland as a savage drunkard and wife beater. “What does Michael say?” he whimpered. “He’s the only one who can help me now.”

The woman stared at him for a moment, then she uttered a long sigh and fell back in her Spanish-leather chair. Her eyes rolled up in her skull until only the whites showed, and her lips moved soundlessly, as if talking to birds in her sleep.

Then she came slowly awake and gazed around the room with a faraway look in her eyes. “Michael says he cannot help you now,” she said in a low voice to Heest. “He says you will spend the next two years in an extremely confined environment – probably at Folsom prison.”

“What?” Heest screamed. “Oh God, NO!” He leaped up fro his chair and staggered out of the room. We heard him retching outside on the lawn. I dragged Heest into the car and left him sucking feverishly on a bottle of green chartreuse. . . I went back inside but there was still no sign of Michael, and I demanded to know where he was.

“He speaks to us from the astral plane,” she said. “But tonight he is here in the room.”

Suddenly, the whole thing became clear to me. These people were on a different frequency – like Mr. Kenneth from Park Avenue – and this creature called Michael that Heest had tried to pass off as some kind of hermit political guru was in fact not a person at all.

He was, according to one of the occult handbooks she had on the floor among a pile of stones, “composed of 1,050 individual essences, ex-humans so to speak, who have lived on the land part of earth.”

Well. . . I thought, why not give the bugger a shot? Maybe he knows something. “Where is William Casey tonight?” I asked her. “Is there any truth to the rumours that he is not where he seems to be?”

She seemed puzzled, so I gave her some of the details and she passed them along to Michael wherever he was – and his answer came back like a rocket.

“You must be crazy,” she said. “This man is the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Of course he is where he seems to be! What are you trying to do – get me arrested?” She stood up and waved a fat silver stone at me. “Get out of my house!” she yelled. “I’ve seen your kind before!”

Heest died in the back seat somewhere along the way back to town, so I dropped him off with Capt. Hanssen at the harbour master’s shack on Scott Street, where his body was burned with rubbish.

–          January 12, 1987

This exactly-24-year-old piece was written by Hunter S. Thompson. I know it’s exactly 24 years old because it was published on the day of my birth.