The Lion And The Cadillac

Fear? I know not fear. There are only moments of confusion. Some of them are deeply stamped on my memory and a few will haunt me forever.


One of my ugliest and most confused moments, I think, was when I was driving a junk Cadillac down the Coast Highway to Big Sur and a large mountain lion jumped into the moving car.


I had stopped for a moment beside the road to put out a newspaper fire in the backseat when this huge cat either jumped or fell off a cliff and landed on its back in the gravel right beside me. I was leaning over the side and pouring beer on the fire when it happened.
It was late in the day, and I was alone. When the beast hit the ground I had a moment of total confusion. And so did the lion. Then I jumped back in the car and took off down the hill in low gear, thinking to escape certain death or at least mutilation.

The beast had tried to pounce on me from above, but missed… And now, as I shifted the junker into second, I heard a terrible snarling (I was, in fact, Terrified at that moment.) …And I think I must have gone temporarily insane when the damn thing came up beside me and jumped right into the car through the passenger-side window like a bomb.


It bounced against the dashboard and somehow turned the radio volume all the way up. Then it clawed me badly on my arm and one leg. That is why I shudder every time I hear a Chuck Berry tune.


I can still smell the beast. I heard myself screaming as I tried to steer. There was blood all over the seat. The music was deafening and the cat was still snarling and clawing at me. Then it scrambled over the seat and into the back, right into the pile of still-burning newspapers. I heard a screech of pain and saw the cat trying to hurl itself through the back window.


We were still rolling along at about thirty miles per hour when I noticed my ball-peen hammer sticking out of the mangled glove compartment.


I grabbed the hammer with my right hand, steering with my left, and swung it wildly over my shoulder at the mountain lion.
Whack! I felt it hit something that felt vaguely like a carton of eggs, and then there was silence. No resistance in the backseat.




I hit the brakes and pulled over. My hand was still on the hammer when I looked back and saw that I had somehow hit the animal squarely on top of its head and driven the iron ball right through its skull and into its brain. It was dead. Hunched on its back and filling the whole rear of the car, which was filling up with blood.


I was no longer confused.


– Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005), Kingdom of Fear

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