Maxed Out 

A toast to fear and loathing

By G.D. Maxwell

The endless February sun, lowering in the sky, making its way toward the Tantalus in the distance, bore bright white holes through my shades and left my optic nerves numb and damn near blind. I couldn’t stop looking at it. Couldn’t stop wondering if it would ever again be obscured by snow-filled clouds. Couldn’t stop thinking the hundred and twenty centimetres of snow we’ve got – or two hundred and twenty depending on whether you favour the historic or marketing measurement plot – might be all we get in this Year of Missing Winter.

As the sun warmed my face and the tired rock ’n’ roll set the pace on Dusty’s patio, shots of golden Black Jack warmed my gullet. As a general rule, Black Jack is a drink I only favour in a wilderness setting. It is an unsociable drink, despite the best efforts of the company’s spinmeisters to reposition it as a kicky, urban swill. It is a drink capable of stripping away the last shreds of civilization a person clings to before losing consciousness. It is a drink that inevitably leads to an inability to form words, reducing the drinker’s capacity for communication to what Robin Williams once described as one long vowel movement. It is a drink best drunk far, far away from people, automobiles and firearms.

And lacking anything suitably pharmaceutical, it was my drink of choice to honour the passing of Dr. Thompson. If, like so many, you’ve avoided newspapers and newscasts since last November, unable to face the bleak reality of an ends-justify-the-means world, you may have missed the news of Hunter S. Thompson’s death. In a signature act of social defiance, the good doctor put a favoured firearm to his head Sunday and punctuated his final chapter. The legend of Woody Creek, Colorado is no more.

I was contemplating his contribution to both journalism and the culture of excess. I almost didn’t notice a hand reaching for the glass furthest left of the trio of Mr. Daniel’s finest set before me.

"Whoa, dude. Black Jack? This must be serious."

How ironic. For possibly the first time since I met him, the always unexpected appearance of J.J. Geddyup, Whistler’s first and still foremost private eye, seemed both appropriate and welcomed. I was speechless. Glad to see J.J.? It was as though the sun stopped, winked and started to arc back toward the eastern sky. As though the world began to spin the wrong direction. I spoke words I’d never spoken before.

"J.J., good to see you, my friend. Sit. Drink. Celebrate."

In a moment of uncharacteristic caution, J.J. hesitated. "You sure you’re okay, man?"

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