Leary and the entourage left, driving the short distance back to his rented home in Beverly Hills. At the house, a helper wheeled him into the bedroom, helped him change to more casual clothes and got him into bed.
Only a handful of people were in the room when Leary suddenly blurted out, "That was horrible, just horrible."
An uncomfortable pause followed.
"In all these years, I've never been at a loss for words."
Truelove, his personal assistant, put her hand on his shoulder. "It wasn't that bad, not as bad as you think."
"All the thousands of times I've talked about my life," Leary continued, shaking his head.
Dean Chamberlain, a friend hearing the conversation from the next room, quickly came in. "Tim, that was brilliant," he said. "It was the biggest event of the night."
Fouch-Roseboro also came in. She took Leary's hand. "Everyone had to take a back seat to you tonight," she said firmly.
More praise followed. Leary began to brighten a bit. He looked at Fouch-Roseboro and Huxley. "Well, I had my two girlfriends there for inspiration," he said, rallying.
The tension in the room eased. One of his assistants gave Leary a balloon full of nitrous oxide -- a drug that when inhaled gives a quick but short-lasting high -- from a tank ever present by his bed.
Soon, Leary was feeling so much better that he and several others headed to Spago for a late dinner. "I'm having a good time tonight," he said, several times. Old friends wandered over to greet him and the staff obviously knew him well.
The bartender did not charge for his drinks. When someone asked why, Leary matter-of-factly said, "I'm one of their oldest customers, and I'm dying."
The evening seemed to have turned out well. But in the parking lot, there was one hint that Leary knew something had changed, that the public Timothy Leary had died.
For weeks, he had said goodbye to people with the words, "Stay in touch." But on this night, as one by one his friends and associates embraced him in his wheelchair, his departing words were different. "Stay close," he said. "Stay close."
Pub Date: 6/08/96