By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

It was midnight on Sunday when my telephone rang. My nerves were raw, and my eyes were swollen from an overdose of pure Ozone, which had blinded me many hours earlier when I tampered with input-jets at the swimming pool.

But the phone kept ringing, and I recognized the singular voice of my friend James Irsay, who was calling to tell me not to worry about his star running back, Edgerrin James, not showing up for the Indianapolis Colts' summer football camp.

"It's nothing to worry about, Hunter," said Irsay, who owns the Colts and a few other things -- including the original scroll/manuscript of Jack Kerouac's legendary "Beat Generation" novel, On The Road. ... I had called him to check out some rumors about the "mysterious disappearance" of his 22-year-old NFL rushing champ, who is crucial to the Colts' Super Bowl plans for 2002. The rumors had troubled me.

Edgerrin James
Two-time NFL rushing champ Edgerrin James is skipping the Colts' voluntary workouts.

But Irsay was in a cheerful mood. "I don't worry about 'Edge'," he said. "He's keeping in shape, and he'll be ready when training camp starts in July. He knows he's one of our Big Three -- along with Peyton (Manning) and (Marvin) Harrison -- and he wants to win a championship, just like we do."

"You bet," I said. "We are champions, and our time has come. Tell Edge that I'm counting on him this year. I will see him in Terre Haute, Ind., when camp starts. ... I've already started working out for it -- that's why I go swimming every night."

He chuckled, then inquired about the health of Anita, my smart and beautiful Assistant, who also swims with me. "Is she the one you put some Buckshot into last summer?" he asked, "When you were shooting at bears?"

"No," I replied. "That was Deborah, my Personal Secretary for 20 years -- she stepped into the line of fire."

He paused for a moment before answering: "Well, Hunter ... I've always been confident that you know what you're doing out there -- But it sounds like a dangerous operation."

"It is," I said, "but we like it. We fear nothing."

"Sure," he said. "That's what Charles Manson thought -- and look what happened to him."

I jerked him up short. "You should be more Careful with your jokes, James. What if I told you I know exactly where Edgerrin James is tonight?"

"That's impossible," he said quickly. "Nobody knows where he is. He has dropped out of sight. I called the Police in Miami -- they didn't have a clue."

I laughed. "Don't talk like a fool, James. The Police couldn't find a Whale on Miami Beach at high noon -- much less at three o'clock in the morning. And they're afraid to even drive through Edgerrin James' neighborhood. It's off Limits to cops."

There was no reply for a few seconds. Then I heard him Moan softly. "Please, Hunter," he whispered. "Don't tell me these things. I have to fly to Alaska tomorrow, and I can't tolerate Fear while I'm on my vacation."

"Yeah," I said. "I know what you mean. Grizzly bears can smell Fear from two miles away. They will hunt you down and eat you like cheap meat."

"O God," he muttered. "That's exactly why I'm going to Alaska -- I've always yearned to see Grizzlies in the wild."

"Hell," I replied. "Grizzlies are nothing, compared to what you'll find in Edgerrin's neighborhood. A Grizzly Bear wouldn't last 10 minutes down there. It's like the Heart of Darkness."

He moaned again, then changed the subject. "How is Warren Zevon doing?" he asked. "I missed him when he was here."

"Warren is in excellent shape," I said. "He was here last week, to do some shooting. We drank a lot of Jimson-weed tea, then we watched the Stanley Cup game. Warren worships Patrick Roy. It's pitiful."

"I know," he said. "He sent me that song he wrote about Hockey. He's an amazing talent."

"You bet," I said. "I'm working on a song with him now. It's about Fear."

"What?" he said. "I didn't know you wrote Songs."

"Hell yes," I replied. "I'm a Writer. I know not fear. I can write Anything: Songs, books, Love stories, strange and savage Poems about prostitution in China, wild beasts in Utah ..."

"No!" he said sharply. "Not in Utah! There's nothing Wild in Utah. That's where I'm going for the Olympics next year."

"Well," I said grimly, "I'm afraid you're in for a shock, James. Things have changed in Utah. The State Police are trying to round up the Bigamists, but the Bigamists are fighting back -- with bombs and heavy machine-guns. It's a Civil war over there. They've gone Crazy! The Bigamists are Violent, and they refuse to be rounded up. They're fighting like wolves."

"God almighty!" he groaned. "That's the worst news I've ever heard in my Life. I hate Bigamists! They are crazy and cruel."

"Not really," I told him, trying to ease his mind. "They won't harm you, unless you provoke them. They are peaceful people -- but they're more dangerous than hungry Hyenas when they get attacked."

There was a muttering noise on the other end, but he said nothing. I thought I could hear him breathing, but finally there was a clicking noise, so I hung up and went back to work. "Maybe he fell asleep," I said to Anita. "These football people like to go to bed early."

She nodded. "I know," she replied gently. "They are not like us. We come alive at night, like lizards in the dark. Let's listen to some Oakenfold music and get busy."

Click here to buy Hunter S. Thompson's new book, Fear and Loathing in America : The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist.

Which we did. It was getting late, and I still had a Column to write. There was nobody else awake within two miles in any direction -- only a few owls and some horses in the pasture across the road. I felt a rush of energy in my brain and my hands, like a vampire ready to feed. ... I had no idea where Edgerrin James was, but I knew I could find him if I needed to, just by calling a few people in Miami.

I have always liked Miami. It is a very fast town at night, and the Police have never bothered me there. I was a strong Dolphins fan, and I wore a slick aqua-marine and shrimp-colored football jersey, with a white No. 22 on the back, for many years. That was Mercury Morris' old number -- until a local Judge named Janet Reno sent him to prison for enjoying cocaine too often.

That bothered me. Mercury Morris was a human Lightning bolt when he got his hands on a football, much like Edgerrin James is today -- but "Merc" had a wild streak in him, while Edgerrin is of a cooler and wiser temperament. Maybe I will wear a blue and white No. 32 jersey when football season rolls around this year. It will make me feel happy and confident.

Indeed. But that is another long story that we don't have time for now. ... Maybe later, when we talk about Jack Kerouac again. He was a football star, in his youth, just like me.

Some things never change, eh?

But time flies, and I am going blind again, from that evil Ozone water -- or maybe it's just the daylight. ... Of course! All Vampires go blind when the sun comes up.

So why worry? Everybody needs a few hours of good sleep now and then. And tonight I will be able to see everything that moves, from here to as far as the Crow flies. Ho ho.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.