Maxed Out 

The Big Apple beckons

By G.D. Maxwell

Strange the way life plays tricks on you, isn’t it?

That’s what I was thinking, sitting on the patio at Zeuski’s, watching the endless parade of summer people, nursing a beer and contemplating the unfair twist of events that had dragged me away from Smilin’ Dog Manner and back to Whistler.

In the hot sun of Whistler’s smokin’ summer the beer tasted especially good. It kept my mind off the horrible things I imagined were about to happen to me, gave my tongue something to do other than worrying the broken piece of molar loose in its socket, and fortified my courage for the rescue effort the dentist would be undertaking within the hour.

A mime, probably a freelancer, annoyed tourists as they passed, following them, mocking their movements. A kid whose scoop of ice cream broke through its cone and dropped to the ground bawled while a black mongrel dog revelled in his unexpected treat. Bikers in mud-spattered armour walked their rides down the plaza regaling each other about what a fornicatin’ great time they’d just had.

A stick of gum. I still couldn’t believe I’d broken the biggest damn molar in my mouth on a stick of gum, something I don’t even chew as often as I have birthdays.

More jugglers. More clowns. And... what the...? My first thought was, "This is why I’ve decided to leave Whistler during the summer." I know we’re a resort and tourists are our collective lifeline. But Uncle Sam? I took another drink and rubbed my eyes. There he was. Uncle Sam in full redwhiteandblue regalia. Tourism Whistler had gone too far this time.

Then I really started to get uncomfortable. I couldn’t see his face with the sun behind him but I recognized the walk... or more accurately the almost syphilitic shuffle, a unique amble part lack of co-ordination, part uncertainty of destination, part ill-fitting shoes. Worse yet, it was clear he was shuffling my direction, purposefully.

I braced myself, ordered another beer and one for him on my tab since I was sure he would if I didn’t.

"Yo Bro."

His voice sounded like bald tires spinning on a loose gravel road. I was still too lost in the visuals to answer. Top hat, white goatee, swallow-tail coat, stovepipe trousers, all in patriotic colours. Make it go away, please.

"J.J.?"

"A/k/a Uncle Sam, dude."

"Costume party? Or just getting an early jump on Halloween this year?"

For all I knew, J.J. might have found this get-up dumpster diving. It was no more outrageous than the tattered brocade housecoat he was sporting most of last winter. J.J. was a flamboyant dresser, no doubt about that. Unless he was actually working, tailing someone, a more and more infrequent occurrence. As Whistler’s only private eye, J.J. worked less than any adult I knew. The local market for bail bond jumpers and cheating spouses wasn’t exactly robust.

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