Maybe Jesus knows where Bill Oddie found a Remington pump action shotgun. It would be wrong of me to speculate. There was just something reassuring about the way the walnut stock kicked bruises into my hip. I was blasting away at some old oil cans I'd thrown out onto the lake sized pond. I'd been drinking Wild Turkey all afternoon, trying to convince myself that the genial man who hosts a tea-time talk show can really be one crazy son-of-a-bitch channelling the spirit of that other crazy son-of-a-bitch, Hunter S. Thompson. My descent into madness was terminal. It was just a matter of figuring out which way the wreckage would lie.
'You know Bill,' I said as I pumped a few more shells into the breach. 'This is so goddamn right after a long week of feeling sorry for myself. Those bastards at Channel 4 don't appreciate me. The craven heathen pigf****rs.'
'Fire away,' said Bill, 'I was told me that it would calm you down after your battle against your black dog.'
'It's been more like a charcoal grey dog,' I said, reaching for my now underweight bottle. 'But it had rabid bloodshot eyes and drool that could eat a hole through sheet metal.' My lips snatched more whisky before I realised what Bill had said. 'Who told you this would cheer me up?' I asked.
'Oh, this was all Stephen's idea,' said Bill.
'Stephen? Stephen?' I repeated, the whisky having dulled my senses as well as my self-pity.
'He rang me this morning from America where he's filming his documentaries. He told me where to find his old shotgun and he said that I'm to let you fire every last shell if it makes you feel better.'
'That beautiful yet crazy son-of-a-bitch,' I said as I turned the weapon on Judy's ornamental garden and took the head off my least favourite dwarf. 'Die you miserable pot bellied dwarf bastard,' I cried as the air filled with plaster dust.
Bill looked hurt.
'No, no, Bill,' I said, taking my bottle from the floor. 'No offence meant. I was talking to the other pot bellied dwarf.'
'None taken,' said Bill but I could see that my words had hurt him where he lives. His face had that same torn expression it had the time I'd accused him of destroying his reputation inside the BBC by selling his cheap plastic herons.
'The thing is, Bill,' I said, resting the shotgun on my hip as I prepared to oil my temper with more liquor. 'I want to do something wild. I want to prove that I'm more than the man tied to a desk or making small talk between five and six every weekday evening. I think we should take a trip.'
'A trip?' asked Bill. 'A trip where?'
'A road trip. A road trip to Blackpool.'
His eyes lit up. 'There's a fantastic RSPB sanctuary up there on the Fylde Coast. This time of year, we might be able to spot a few of the early migratory waders.'
'I'm not looking to go birdwatching,' I said and lowered the gun ready to menace one of the oil cans that had been foolish enough to resurface. 'I'm talking about us having ourselves a wild weekend of excess in the spirit of gonzo. What do you say, Bill? Are you up for “Fear and Loathing in Blackpool”?'
'Does that mean we'll have to take drugs?'
The gun kicked. The can sang its death note.
'Drugs? Sex? Alcohol? I prefer not to name the vices that work for me,' I said. 'But I do know that I don't need illegal drugs to be reckless and slightly insane. My brain chemistry is a rare mutation of genius.'
Bill sank to the floor and picked up a can of Red Bull. There's nothing more wretched than a caffeine addict swollen with that heinous delusion that they are all powerful. The Greeks worshipped Dionysus for a reason. They didn't have the god of the Genus Coffea in their Rolodex.
'We'll need a car,' he said eagerly.
Luckily, I had it covered. 'Terry Gilliam is a good friend. He still has the Caddy from the film. Convertible in bright red. He'll let us use that. We'll hang a flag from the back.'
'The RSPB crest?' suggested Bill.
'The Stars and Stripes,' I yelled. 'It's the only way to go. From this moment, you call me Richard Duke. You can be my faithful assistant, Dr. Oddzo. I won't be happy until we've got ourselves a hotel suite and smuggled a monkey and a midget into our room and pumped them full of Toilet Duck.'
Dr. Oddzo ran a hand through his beard, his eyes now fully dilated as the Red Bull kicked in.
'I'm with you,' he said and pushed himself to his feet. 'We'll tear Blackpool apart!'
I pushed another shell into the gun, preparing to fire it into the lake, but before I could get my finger around the trigger, Dr. Oddzo had snatched the gun from my hands. That crazy bastard. The spirit of his age: a worn down stump of high living on BBC expense accounts yet a beautiful last hymn to the Sixties.
'Head down, Corbett!' he scream as he fired shells into the neighbour's bedroom window. Glass shattered. The shreds of net curtains floated down like confetti.
'Gonzo!' cried Dr. Oddzo, that twisted version of the human prototype as he ran back up to the house.
'Too crazy to live, to rare to die,' I muttered as I followed after him.