Maxed Out 

The B-grade seasonal worker horror show

By G.D. Maxwell

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled like a Republican contemplating a Kerry victory. Snain – sloppy, stinging precip on the cusp between snow and rain – came out of the sky sideways, filling the inner right ears of anyone unfortunate enough to be walking west without a good toque or an iPod earbud stuffed down their aural canal. Slushy puddles gathered in low spots and joined other slushy puddles to form slushy lakes, giving anyone walking any direction a double soupcon of cold toe soup.

Nights like these in Whistler, mused Ichabod’s brain, are about as rare as overpriced drinks at happy hour. He wasn’t even sure he understood what he meant but that too was not a rare occurrence. The thought amused him nonetheless as he squished his way down Lorimer Road, becoming more aware with each step that his aging, high-tech, Gore-Tex boots were long on gore and pretty much depleted of any tex they might once have had.

A full moon plus a day smudged the bruise-coloured sky, more gestalt than actual light. It was, after all, a dark and stormy night. But the megawatts of light cast skyward from the nonstop din of Whistler Village and the faint, irregular lights crawling up Blackcomb, like long-neglected rigging lights on a derelict sailboat, gave the sky an eerie cast.

As he walked, erratic shadows played across the liquid sidewalk, cast by the pale light of sustainable streetlights. Occasionally, longer shadows would race back along the sidewalk to meet him as a free Halloween bus stuffed with ghoulish children clamouring for candy roared past, often as not spraying him with the downward parabola of watery runoff, reminding him his aging ski jacket too was more gore than tex. And, of course, his jeans were all gore all the time and very quickly, as the temperature dropped, beginning to resemble a stiffening body cast. The iceman cometh.

Something was coming up behind him. He spun quickly at the sound of footfalls in the slush. In the backlit darkness, he saw… nothing. "Just the wind playing tricks on me," he guessed.

"This sucks," Ichabod thought. He was struck by how much his mental vocabulary seemed to consist of those two words these days. Only two weeks in town, he was already beginning to wonder about the wisdom of his decision to take a year off – off what? Off school which seemed pointless; off life in Tinytown, Ontario which seemed even more pointless – to be a skibum.

It had been his dream to be a skibum ever since he’d overheard a friend of his older brother talk about the year he’d spent in Whistler. The girls, the parties, the skiing, the clubs, the dope; it all sounded like the kind of hedonistic wetdream his now 20-year-old brain burst to even think about. The town, as he fantasized it, was a smorgasbord of everything that had any currency in his young life and far more appealing than studying business and joining his dad in the family insurance business like his older brother, who now seemed decades older than he really was.

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