Duke begins to “lose control” and walks out to the car to flee. “MISTER DUKE!” someone yells after him. “MISTER DUKE! Wait!” The hotel clerk is running after him. Duke is “dizzy” as the clerk hands him an envelope. “This telegram just came for you,” he says, smiling. Duke rips it open; it is a message from Gonzo. The magazine wants him to cover the National Conference of District Attorneys’ seminal on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. There is a room reserved for him at the Flamingo along with a white Cadillac convertible.
Obviously, Duke’s assignment to cover the D.A.’s conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs is highly ironic. Thompson’s book is first and foremost a satire, and Duke’s identity as a member of the Drug Culture makes his presence at the conference absurd. Duke’s new car, the Caddy convertible, again reflects capitalism and possibility in American society. It is luxurious and American through and through.
The hotel clerk is confused because the telegram came under the name Thompson but says “care of Raoul Duke,” and it appears to have come from Gonzo, who they believe is still in the hotel. The clerk tells Duke that the manager of the hotel would like to meet Gonzo, as he does with all their “large accounts.” Duke explains that the telegram is from Thompson to Duke. “Never try to understand a press message,” he says. He then tells the clerk that Gonzo is still sleeping up in the room. He warns him to wait until after breakfast before bothering Gonzo. “He’s a very crude man,” Duke explains as he drives away.
This is Thompson’s first hint that Raoul Duke is actually his alter-ego. As an example of Gonzo journalism, it is assumed that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is Thompson’s first-person account of the events covered in the book, and Duke represents Thompson’s fictional version of himself. Even though Duke isn’t a real person per se, his emotions and reactions are most certainly Thompson’s.
Duke considers his options as he drives. He knows he should just leave town, but there is a “stench of twisted humor that hovers around the idea of a gonzo journalist in the grip of a potentially terminal drug episode being invited to cover the National District Attorneys’ Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.” Duke is also attracted to the idea of giving the hotel the slip just to go across town to another casino. “It is dangerous lunacy,” Duke thinks, “but is also the kind thing a real connoisseur of edge-work could make an argument for.” Still, Duke worries, he is much too “conspicuous” to pull it off. Duke decides to find an “early morning beer and get [his] head together…to plot this unnatural retreat.”
Duke’s identity as part of the American counterculture implies that he relishes the opportunity to resist the establishment, and going to a drug conference high and fraudulently skipping out on a massive hotel bill are perfect opportunities to do just that. To Duke, it is the ultimate insult to embarrass the establishment in such a way, even if they aren’t fully aware of it. The idea is to be as big a nuisance as possible to those in power, which Duke absolutely does.