So, Super Bowl VIII in Houston TX has finished, with the Miami Dolphins defeating the Minnesota Vikings, and all that is left for the good Doctor is to collect on his bets and get out of town.
I stayed in Houston for two days after the game, but even with things calmed down I had no luck in finding the people who'd caused me all my trouble. Both Tom Keating and Al LoCasale were rumored to be in the vicinity, but - according to some of the New York sportswriters who'd seen them - neither one was eager to either see or be seen with me.
When I finally fled Houston it was a cold Tuesday afternoon with big lakes of standing water on the road to the airport. I almost missed my plane to Denver because of a hassle with Jimmy The Greek about who was going to drive us to the airport and another hassle with the hotel garage-man about who was going to pay for eight days of tending my bogus "Official Super Bowl Car" in the hotel garage. . . and I probably wouldn't have made it at all if I hadn't run into an NFL publicity man who gave me enough speed to jerk me awake and lash the little white Mercury Cougar out along the Dallas freeway [I-45] to the airport in time to abandon it in the "Departures/Taxis Only" area and hire a man for five dollars to rush my bags and sound equipment up to the Continental Airlines desk just in time to make the flight.
Twenty-four hours later I was back in Woody Creek and finally, by sheer accident, making contact with that twisted bastard Keating - who bent my balance a bit by calmly admitting his role in my Problem and explaining it with one of the highest left-handed compliments anybody ever aimed at me. . .
"I got nothing personal against Thompson," he told another NFL player who happened to be skiing in Aspen at the time: "But let's face it, we've got nothing to gain by talking to him. I've read all his stuff and I know how he is; he's a goddamn lunatic - and you've got to be careful with a bastard like that, because no matter how hard he tries, he just can't help but tell the truth."
When I heard that I just sort of slumped on my bar-stool and stared at myself in the mirror . . . wishing, on one level, that Keating's harsh judgement was right . . .but knowing, on another, that the treacherous realities of the worlds I especially work in forced me to abandon that purist stance a long time ago. If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.