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Fear and Loathing in Starkvegas, Pt. 1

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A Savage Journey to the Heart of the People's University

As your attorney I advise you to light some daytime fireworks.
As your attorney I advise you to light some daytime fireworks.

"He who daks a dak of himdak gets dak of the dak of daking a dak."

-Dr. Johnson

We were somewhere around Tupelo on the edge of the Triangle when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded, brah; maybe you should totes take the wheel…" And suddenly there was a terrible howl all around us and the hills were full of what looked like huge wolves, all running and yelping and diving around this badass Range Rover my old man gave me for graduation. We were going about a hundred miles an hour with the windows open on our way to Starkvegas. And a voice was screaming: "Shit, dude! What are these fucking animals? What the fuck do wolves have to do with State?"

Then the howling stopped, and it was quiet again. My attorney had taken off his shirt – this sweet powder blue polo that he got back like four years ago when you couldn’t find those anywhere – because he’d poured some Natty on his chest; he’s like a real sloppy drunk and whatnot. "Bro, what’re you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with these really excellent Ray-Bans. "Never mind," I said. "It’s your turn to drive." I hit the brakes and aimed the Rover toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those wolves, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

It was almost eleven and we still had many miles to go. Hard miles, you know? But there was no going back, and no time to rest. We would have to ride it out. Press registration for the fabulous Super Bulldog Weekend Spring Game was already underway, and we had to get there by noon to claim our spot in the box. A failing newspaper in Jackson had taken care of our passes, and I was, after all, a professional journalist; so I had an obligation to cover the story.

The sporting editors had given me $500 in cash. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, six cases of Natty Ice, 1000 tabs of stolen Xanax, some nice booger-sugar, eight kinds of boxed wine, a hundred grand in crootin' money…and also a fifth of Makers and like a fucking crate of Robitussin.

"Bro, this is the way to travel," said my attorney. Well, he’s only a 2L, but like, he really knows his shit, you know? Like he can get you out of a tight spot and shit, and his uncle is like with this firm in Memphis – not like The Firm like in Grisham and shit, but like a big-time one – so you know he’s on point.

He reached over and turned up the stereo. We were blasting some Robert Johnson. We’re both, like, from the Delta, and the Blues is literally in our blood and shit, you know? Still, the poor bastard turned the volume up louder. Wait until you see the wolves, I thought.

My attorney saw the hitchhiker like a shit-long time before I did. "Let's give that dude a lift, yo," he said, and before I could mount any argument he was stopped and this poor Okolona kid was running up to the Rover with a big grin on his face, saying, "Hot damn! This ain't like my daddy's pickup!"

"Is that right?" I said. 'Well, climb aboard, cuz."

The kid nodded eagerly as we roared off.

"We're your friends," said my attorney. "We're not like the others. We, too, are of the People's University."

Oh shitfire, I thought, he's been snorting the Xanax. "No more of that talk," I said sharply. "Or I'll put the rooster-hand on you." He grinned, seeming to understand. Luckily, the noise in the Rover was so awful - between the wind and the radio (fuckin' Robert Johnson, am I right?!)  - that the kid in the back seat couldn't hear a word we were saying. Or could he?

Maybe I'd better have a chat with this boy, I thought. Perhaps if I explain things, he'll rest easy.

"I want you to understand that this man at the wheel is my attorney. He's not just some dingbat I found on the Square. Shit, look at him! He doesn't look like you or me, right? That's because I was his big bro back in the day, right? Like, this cat pledged under me and shit. He's a wet-ear, you get me? Not like you or I, my friend! Am I right?"

The blank-faced kid nodded. Poor bastard, I thought. He'll need at least a bottle of Robitussin before he can overcome the brainwashing of his daddy's bookfarm.

It was then that I saw his shirt, the strange configuration of dots and points, a hazy jumble of upside down words and the dashes. At first I believed it to be the work of the booger-sugar (I can quit anytime, friend), but then the wolves howled again, and I saw his shirt and understood. "Fuck TSUN?!" I screamed. Why are we the school up north? Why are we to be fucked in upside-down dots? Who is this new god Dak and is he merciful? "When you don't say a man's name you rob him of his power; are you trying to rob me? Are you trying to take what's mine?"

The poor fool shook his head and said "Aw hell no, mister."

Our vibrations were getting nasty - but why? I was puzzled, frustrated. Was there no communication in this Rover? Had we deteriorated to the level of dumb beasts?

Because my story was true. I was certain of that. And it was extremely important, I felt, for the meaning of our journey to be made absolutely clear. We had actually been sitting there in City Grocery - for many hours - drinking these things called Hot Frauleins that my dude Stevie who bartends there makes. They're badass, and they'll like knock you out. I was telling my attorney about Starkvegas and Super Bulldog Weekend and all of it, and he was like, "You're going to need like a shit-ton of legal advice, bro," and I knew he was right, so off we went, trunk full, Rover pointed southeast to the crust-edge of Mississippi, in search of the Agrarian Dream.

To be continued next week, friendos. Many thanks to @doyleberg for the idea and to Juco for the picture.