To be completely honest, I was thinking dark thoughts. Somehow, drinking dark beer and thinking dark thoughts seemed to be parallel threads in a common unreality. One blended seamlessly into the other, both seeming bottomless, as I glazed, staring at an infinite point maybe three feet in front of my nose.
I was wallowing in a malaise in Dustys after another day exceeding guests expectations assuming they werent expecting much. Trying to remember what day of the week it was and whether wed just slipped through Christmas, New Years, or both. A blur of faceless holidayers möbiused through my mind, shuffling their snowy, wet feet across memory neurons, leaving no impression but confusing delicate remembrances soon to be muddled in the soup of personal history.
How many days had it been since Id had a day off? Trying to count I got tangled up in fascination with my own fingerprints, better just to carve notches in Marks table. No, that could lead to close encounters with sharp objects. Best to just forget and call it a lot.
It was after Christmas. I remembered opening presents. More distinctly, I remembered skiing Christmas morning in more snow than Id ever seen on Whistler Mountain all at one time. Faceshots the length of Dave Murray, straightlining Tokum to keep from losing momentum in thigh-deep was it really thigh-deep snow. Watching boarders drop into fluff-filled gullies and have to swim back to the surface, struggling as though theyd fallen into pools of quicksnow. Filling the inside of my jacket with snow on Fall Away because it was so deep it came in through open pitzips. Oh yeah, it was definitely after Christmas cuz Christmas was another indelible memory day in Paradise. Filed and cataloged.
It must have been after New Years too. I remembered having written 2003 a number of times already. Wouldnt have done that if we were still in 2002, not like its something I need to practice. Thoughts drifted back to deep Christmas snow, post New Year rain, dishing up the Whole Whistler Experience again and again. Karmas gonna catch ya boy. Think nice thoughts.
"Whatthehell you starin at, bro?"
It was the sound of Karma catching up with me. J.J., ever generous with my tab, ordered another beer for me and one for himself as he swung his bulk into the seat next to mine. "What day is this, J.J.?"
"Day after yesterday."
I didnt need another riddle and I wasnt sure I needed to see J.J. Theres never a good time to be sneaked up on by J.J., but solitary, reflective moments crash to a particularly abrupt halt when he appears. J.J. Geddyup Whistlers only private eye embodies intrusion. His disheveled appearance is intrusive. His hurky-jerky locomotion is intrusive. His voice is pure intrusion. The stale smell of unfiltered French cigarettes clinging to his personal atmosphere is intrusive. And his personality was intruding on my dark serenity like a dentists drill poking into the pulp of a live tooth.
"No, seriously. Ive lost track. What day is it?" Curiosity outweighed annoyance.
He pulled back the sleeve of his tattered fleece Whistler Mountain hamburger logo Lift Ops uniform, circa 1990 and started punching buttons on a watch the size of a can of tuna. It looked expensive and multifunctional and I itched to ask where hed gotten it but figured knowing the answer might make me an accomplice.
"Shit, I know this thing knows, I just cant remember which button to push. Wow, barometers falling "
"Its rainin outside, J.J. You dont need a watch to tell you the barometers fallin." Gadgets.
"The fourth I think."
"The day, J.J. What day is it?"
"Sat." An almost binary answer.
Makes sense. Hockey had been droning in the background, much to the chagrin of the small but vocal contingent of good ol boys from Florida whod protested when the big screen flipped from some college football game to Canadas pastime.
Having lost interest in his watch, J.J.s attention was diverted by a half-eaten bucket of gone cold french fries left behind on the next table. He pulled the table over, not being able to reach the bucket and not embracing the idea of actually getting out of his seat, and noshed in earnest on congealing frites.
"So, any New Years resolutions?" he asked.
"Oh, the usual. Come out in full support of the Olympic bid, buy into the sustainability boondoggle, be kind to politicians, give accurate directions to tourists, buy an SUV with at least 300 horsepower and finally put the polish on my surefire Start Smoking Seminar idea."
"I like that one."
"I thought you would. Money back guarantee. Attend my two day seminar and I can get you smoking and keep you smoking. Ought to appeal to the in-your-face crowd. What about you."
"Never make promises I cant keep. Although I did give passing thought to resolving myself a new job this year."
"Getting tired of the spook business?"
"Not much business left. Even the insurance companies have dried up. Since 9/11, they dont seem to care that much about whether someones makin false claims or not. They just ramp up their rates, blame it on terrorism and wallow in the dough. Least thats my theory. Whatever the reason, theres not much PI business to be had."
"I thought you were lookin into the whole RezRez thing for the independent retail boys and girls?"
"Yeah, thats still an active investigation, as the say in the detective biz. But Im not sure how much itll matter. TWs stonewalling and my inside source at RezRez got cold feet and quit talkin. Im still sniffin around but Im not sure how much it really matters. Were talking about players here. They can do pretty much what they want, you know."
"You may be right. But I suspect youre not convinced enough of that to drop the whole matter. Besides, what kind of real job would you ever be able to hold down around here?"
"Pardon my French, but isnt that a casino job?"
"Mais oui, mon ami."
"Do you know something I dont know?"
"I know lots of things you dont know."
"Okay, do you know something I dont know about a plan to allow casino development up here?
"Well, lets just say one of my New Years resolutions was to keep secrets even from you."
"Youre just stirrin it up, arent you? Youre just startin rumours again. Arent you?"
"Order me another beer. Just might loosen my tongue."