Fear and Loathing in the Mystery Machine‏

Excerpts from the never-aired 1973 Scooby Doo episode with guest star Hunter S. Thompson

We were ten minutes south of San Clemente when the putrid green daisy walls of the van started closing in. I recall the fat four-eyed lesbian sweater girl saying something like “are you okay, Mr. Duke? We’ve got a mystery to solve…” when suddenly the gullet of the garish chartreuse steel beast began to spasm like a digestive track readying itself to vomit. I began clawing at my hamstrings and when I turned my head I was looking into the iridescent eyes of a grotesque animal screeching “Ruh Roh! Ruh Roh!” in a hoarse irritating dog-accented gibberish. That’s when things began to turn weird.

I fought off the ether hallucinations and fly swarms and fumbled through my medical bag for my .45 and another shot of absinthe. I pushed off the safety and casually popped off three quick rounds, through the shag carpet stomach lining of the nauseous steel beast that was consuming all of us, and it began thrashing angrily. The lesbian was screaming, and the two Aryan Hitler Youth were screaming, and the grotesque talking dog jumped into the arms of the whimpering hippie boy. Holy sweet Jesus Christ, I thought, don’t these people realize we’re about be eaten alive by poorly-drawn Chevrolet? Nevermind that. They would see it all soon enough, after the nightshade cookies and Scooby snack kicked in.


Hanna and Barbera liked my story on hormone doping at the ’72 Laff-a-Lympics and proposed that I cover a Harlem Globetrotters game at a haunted Aztec pyramid in Mexico. They called me to their offices in Burbank. “Jesus Christ, you’re killing us here, Duke,” Hanna complained when I demanded a $1500 advance for the project. “I’ve got expenses,” I said. They relented and arranged for a chirpy entourage to escort me into the belly of the beast. There was the lesbian chick, the blond Palos Verdes neck scarf Nixon boy and his frigid miniskirt girlfriend, the gawky soul patch hippie kid and his paranoid Great Dane. Lost Manson kids all, Squeakies and Leslies and a canine Tex in a puke green van hoping for some Mexican helter skelter. All the better reason to pack a few guns, I thought.

“Like hi Mister Duke, ready to solve some Mexican mysteries?” said the hippie kid in a grating singsong. I was simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by the shape of his head. “Fuck that,” I said. “We’re going to Compton to pick up some supplies.”

We backed up the van to the garage of my exploration outfitter, Dr. Tyrone, and loaded the necessary cargo for our insane basketball safari in Baja: twelve mason jars of absinthe-laced Goofy Grape, two pounds of hashish, 450 hits of Wacky Package blotter acid, a tinfoiled brick of pure Mendocino nightshade distillate, a Jif Peanut Butter jar of ether, two gross of amyl poppers, a sandwich baggie of MDMA, seven quarts of Mescal, 112 peyote buttons, two cases of Schlitz, and a new experimental medication Dr. Tyrone called “Tyrone Nitrate.” The suspension of the vomitous beast groaned under the load and we pointed it toward Tijuana.


“Rejus Rist! Rejus Rist!”

The dog started whimpering in paranoid Scooby Smack madness when the two Federales started poking their flashlights into the rear van windows. How long can we maintain? I wondered. How long before one of us starts raving and jabbering and making weird sound effects? The lesbian was swatting away at invisible flies and the hippie was in a comatose peyote stare. The two Nixon youths had gotten into the Tyrone Nitrate and were rooting like animals on the van floor. I could probably shoot the two cops, but it would be just a matter of time until the other Mexican pigs tracked us down and fed our corpses to the Baja condors.

“Ola senor,” I said, rolling down the passenger window and motioning to the fat one. I reached out with a $100 handshake. “There’s something you should know. We’re going to the Globetrotters game at the haunted Aztec pyramid. That fat homely girl in back, with the glasses? She’s a hitchhiker we picked up outside El Cajon, a runaway from a wealthy family. I think she is holding drugs.”

We tore off south toward Ensenada, the two fat Federales disappearing slowly in the mirror as they struggled to handcuff the fly-swatting lesbian chick.


“Keep digging,” I ordered, my AK47 trained at the hippie’s hairy, bulbous head. The Schlitz-peyote cocktail had likely rendered him harmless, but I wasn’t taking any chances — with him, or any chupacabras that might appear in the desert night. The shivering mongrel dragged the limp bodies of the two Hitler Young Republicans one by one across the desert floor. I couldn’t tell whether they were really dead or just in a Tyrone Nitrate-induced zombie state, but I wasn’t in any state to explain them to another Federale. The holes were shallow enough that if they were still alive they could dig themselves out and hitchhike back to the border.


The hideous dog jumped out out of the way as I popped a round at his feet. “Ron of a ritch! Rut ruz rat for?” it screeched. “Stop walking on your hind legs,” I said. “You’re a goddam dog, for chrissakes.”


Madness and rank paranoia filled my mind as I looked down from the steps of the pyramid to the violently stupid spectacle. A team of lumbering Aztec ghosts is leading the Harlem Globetrotters, 82-6 with six minutes left to go, dunking over Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon like they were willing victims in one of their ancient blood sacrifices. I half expected the Aztecs to reach into the Trotters’ chests and remove their beating hearts. Christ, I hadn’t see such a beating since Sonny Barger took a baseball bat to a mouthy Oakland meth dealer in ’66.

But the freak circus on the court is only the start of the snarling insanity. Who put a goddam basketball court in the middle of Mexico? And what the hell were Sonny and Cher and Don Adams doing here?

Mama Cass begins choking on a ham sandwich. The hippie gives her the Heimlich while the stupid dog suits up for the Globetrotters, who suddenly start scoring points. Nobody seems to notice.


Me and the dog and the hippie started pulling the masks off the Aztec ghosts. “Like, YOINKS!” the hippie screamed, still half-addled from the amyl.

I should have known. In fact, I knew. I had always known. Those weren’t ghosts. They were monsters, the flesh eating monsters of a country half-decayed by greed, stupidity and rot. The Aztec starting five: Nixon, Agnew, Mitchell, Haldeman and Erlichmann.

“We would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling dope fiends,” said the evil Yorba Linda bastard.

“See you at the Bob Hope Hell Celebrity Pro-Am,” I said, washing down a handful of MDMA with a bottle of Gusano Rojo. I ate the worm.


Saturday morning in the late ’60s was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe Roadrunner or Johnny Quest or Space Ghost or Lancelot Link Secret Chimp meant something. Maybe not, in the long run …but no explanation, no mix of words or music or can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in front of that Zenith console color TV eating a gigantic bowl of Quisp. Whatever it meant.

And that, I think, was the handle–that sense of the inevitable victory, and that we were part of it. In the end we would unmask the ghost as the old evil town banker, or kill those evil frogmen in a really cool explosion; our pre-sweetened, vitamin-fortified energy of youth would simply prevail. We were shooting the curl of a beautiful cartoon wave and nothing could stop us, except when our moms would yell at us and then we would have to go outside and maybe ride our Stingrays around for a while. Now, less than five years later, if you turn on Saturday TV and look at the cheap washed-out backgrounds in a certain way you can see where the wave broke and rolled back, and broke and rolled back, in an endless Xeroxed repetition.


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