Sunday, June 5, 2016

Riding with Max Acie (Part 3)

Note, this isn't the actual tattoo. The names have been changed, obviously.
Although my time with Hannah and Max Acie only lasted four days, it felt like an eternity. Especially the couple days we spent in the West Edmonton Mall. We spent only a few hours at the mall on the first day since HB was "malled-out" from Red Deer. It was the first time HB had seen the place, I'd been there before and wasn't too impressed. It's just a mall.

My focus changed from the ranch to being Max's assistant after he offered me the job that first night in Edmonton. We were by the skating rink when I kept bugging him about the ranch job. Sure, his Mom may hate him, but let me talk to her. Or at the very least, give me the address and I'll just taxi out there. Finally, Max gave up on the ranch idea.

"Listen," he told me, "HB and I been talking and we really like you. Now you can probably go work for my mom if you'd like, but I really need an assistant and we'd like it if you could take the job."

"I don't really know much about the sport," I confessed

"That's all right. You'll learn. Plus, it's mostly just making appointments, making sure my gear shows up where I'm supposed to be. You'll get to travel. I do a lot of shows in California, Japan, Australia."

I ignored my irrational fear of airplanes. The word California hit me like a brick.

"I'll give you $500 a week. Cash."

"Let me think it over," I said.

I walked around the skating rink for a bit, then called my Dad. I told him of the situation. I expected him to be more cautious of the situation, as he always tends to be the sober second thought. But this time, he gave me his overwhelming support.

"If you think you'll be happy doing it," he said, "then why not?"

Yeah, why not?

I decided to take Max up on his offer. On September 24th, 2012, I became Max Acie's personal assistant. He gave me five one-hundred bills and a new Blackberry phone. He told me to hold onto the phone's paperwork for tax purposes. I noticed it was all in Hannah's name.

That night as we took our stuff into the hotel Max told me, "get used to this," and a sharp pain struck my gut. This wasn't right. The next morning I sat on the hotel bed thinking the same thing. Something was wrong. This was too easy.

I went for a walk when I heard Max and HB fucking next-door. 

My first stop was a McDonalds where I bought a coffee with a twoonie I had been carrying with me since Winnipeg. I watched the workers behind the counter. I thought about what it must be like to get up every morning, before sunrise, fit into a McDonalds uniform and come to work to do menial labour for eight hours at least. I've done jobs like that, not McDonalds, but grocery stores and factories. Would I ever need to do that again?

My next stop was either at a FutureShop or Best Buy. I don't remember which one. With $500 cash in my wallet I glossed over the tablets, Macbooks and PC laptops. My laptop was an old clunker from 2004. It ran smoothly as long as one was running a Linux distribution, but it was missing the one button so anytime I used "1" or an exclamation mark, I had to copy and paste it from somewhere else. 

I got a text from Max, we were leaving for the West Edmonton Mall soon so I left the store without buying anything. It took HB awhile to get ready, so I spent the time in my room watching BNN. Silver's rise was the hot-topic of the day. Later that day I bought 10 ounces.

The next forty-eight hours mainly consisted of Max buying HB clothes and jewelry. I came along for the ride. I didn't even hold the bags. As their assistant I insisted on carrying everything but HB wouldn't have it. Max explained why:

“Those shopping bags,” he said, “are like flags. They show off to other women where she's been and how much money she has. It's a pride thing.”

Max's only request was that we had enough time to visit Bourbon Street, a "street" within the mall that consists of restaurants. We didn't make it there the first day. This caused some tension between the two later on. We left the Mall in the evening with Max driving. By this time the tension between him and HB had been growing increasingly thick all day. The GPS on HB's car got us lost and this was enough for Max. He pulled over and walked out. HB ran after him. I hopped into the drivers seat and found a safer spot to park - out in a subdivision under construction but deserted. I waited for instructions through the Blackberry.

Eventually I heard from Max. They had made their way back to the mall, so I drove back and met them outside the entrance near the Fantasy Land hotel. Max and HB seemed to have made up. I lightened the mood further by playing my Karaoke CD. Earlier in the day we found a "Karaoke Booth" where one could sing and record it onto a CD for later listening. Max paid for me to sing. Little did either he or HB know that I don't sing -- I yell. Like a lunatic. On the way back to the hotel we listened to me butcher the Beatles' "Yesterday" while throwing in references to Joe and that "Charter" we're entitled too.

The next morning I awoke to a text from Max. He needed a back-tire to his bike. I got the details and then called a spot in the city where we could pick one up. Being the assistant I anticipated having to go myself,

“No worries,” said Max's text, “My bro's got it.”

It was now our full second-day in Edmonton and neither HB nor I had met anyone from Max's family. It wasn't until later in the day that I figured this out, however. As HB shopped, Max and I sat around checking out the sights at the mall. He mentioned that HB wasn't always like this,

"She grew up on a farm," Max said, and this much was true, HB had told me earlier. "But she wasn't like this until she met my sisters. Then she got all girly-girly."

"I've never met Max's family," HB told me separately. I asked her later and got the same response, "I'm supposed to meet his family. That's why we're in Edmonton."

So far we had spent all our time at the West Edmonton Mall. Max spent a lot of time texting or talking on his phone, I don't know to who, but he claims it was his dad and his brothers. He'd keep both of us entertained with stories from growing up and having a dad in the RCMP. And like always, I was making him laugh and he was making me laugh while HB gave us that “boys will be boys” grin. 

As well, Max and HB continued to buy me clothes. Now that I was their official employee, they were more eager to completely redo my wardrobe. So far I had made it across the country with a single backpack. Now I had shopping bags from Bench, West 49 and more pairs of shoes than my sister. When Max saw my laptop, he assured me that he'd get me a new one. After all, it would affect my job and it's basically paid for through Monster Energy Drinks.

The sheer unbelievability of it all kept me from realizing the key to this whole scheme. Max was paying for everything in cash. And when he didn't or couldn't pay in cash (such as, a hotel room) HB would step in with a credit card. At the end of our second full day we hadn't renewed our hotel room and Max was adamant about staying in the Fantasy Land Hotel. He had HB lay down her credit card while he took me shopping for a bathing suit. The three of us were going to swim at the water-park at the West Edmonton Mall. While the two of us were shopping Max told me,

"Hey, if it comes up just tell HB that we saw my brother at here."

"Ok," I said, unsure of what he was getting that,

"I gave the money to my brother."

"Yeah," I said more absorbed in the moment than anything else. I knew he was referring to that envelope of cash he got from the CIBC at Red Deer, but I didn't press my analysis any further. After swimming in the water-park, I was supposed to get laid.

At least that was the plan. Outside the Fantasy Land hotel, in the mall, there is a bar with slot machines. Max and I had visited it earlier where I met a gorgeous bartender. I was convinced she was out of my league and even if I had a chance, the fact that she's a bartender makes the pick-up even harder. Max wouldn't have it. I was getting this woman. Hence, a whole new outfit for the night (including another pair of shoes).

Max and I returned to the Fantasy Land hotel to meet up with HB. In the crowded elevator, a young guy with a thick beard said:

“Gentleman, I think it is imperative that we exit the building in a safe and orderly fashion, and convene outside in the parking lot to smoke a joint.”

Some of us laughed, most felt uncomfortable. Max said,

“Can't do, man. Get piss tested for my job.”

“Oh yeah?” Weed guy said, “What do you do?”

“I'm Max Acie, the motocross rider.”

The elevator doors opened and we stepped out. 

By now I was weary of the whole situation. Since getting hired, I'd been drastically searching the internet for Max Acie. When no results came up, I thought I had the spelling wrong. Max's downfall was when he sent me a text that involved his last name. He wanted me to compile a list of mock questions for an interview and in doing so mentioned "Acie line of clothing," which was his personal brand of clothing HB was working on.

I had the correct spelling, but all I found was his twitter page. The profile picture that was clearly his arm, with his tattoo of Hannah, the real name of HB who he met a month prior to picking me up. Other than that - nothing. I went to the Monster Energy Drink website, I looked under the sponsored motocross riders and racers. There wasn't anyone named Max Acie. Not even close.

And then there were his physical attributes. When Max, HB and I went to the water-park I got a good look at his physique. He wasn't overly obese, but he was definitely out of shape. I didn't think motocross riders had to be in excellent shape, but still. It's a sport. 

Max joked that I had the body of a twelve-year-old boy (early-twenties and no sign of chest hair), so I joked that Max had the body of the forty-year-old man. But he did and once I made the joke I realized the truth of this statement. I've known a few people that looked much younger than they actually were. What if Max really was in his forties or fifties?

Having fun at the water-park took my mind of it for a while, but my intuitive sense of wrongness surfaced again. I hung out with HB in their room while Max took a shower. Something happened at the water-park and the tension between her and Max was thick again. It was like a fucking roller-coaster with these two. This time I didn't mess around. I got right to the questions I wanted to ask, knowing full well that Max could exit the shower at any moment, ruining my chances at talking with HB in private. I asked her everything I wanted to know,

"Have you ever seen Max ride motocross? I don't mean on videos, I mean actually, physically, live, seen him ride? Have you ever talked to his family? His sisters? Did you meet his old assistant? He said you did. An apparent bubble-headed beach blonde that would accidentally wear competitor t-shirts to his shows?”

The answer to all these questions was no. 

It seems that HB knew Max almost as well as I did. But she was having sex with him. She trusted him. She, for whatever reason, felt as if she were in love with him. Maybe she was. Or maybe she was in love with the image of him. With a fake Max Acie that didn't exist.

Max came out of the shower and the two of us headed for the bar. He sensed the tension. He asked me about it in the elevator, so I bullshitted about the drama between him and HB. He acted like it was her fault. I remain detached. I wasn't sure what was going on and I didn't trust Max.

Max won a lot of money on the slot machines, then we made friends with everyone in the bar. It wasn't overly crowded. In fact, you could count on your hands how many people were there. The bartender I had been crushing on had left, but there was a new one. At first, I didn't care, but after a few drinks, I was getting embarrassingly flirty. 

The Weed Guy from the elevator showed up with his friends and eventually I staggered out with them to go smoke a joint. When I left Max and HB they were having one of their tense silent fights. They never yelled at each other - they would just get silent. But the tension was noticeable and it was always thick. 

I don't know what brought this argument on, but I suspected it all came back to the fact that we were now approaching our third day in Edmonton and HB had yet to meet or even speak to anyone in Max's family. I left the bar with Weed Guy and his long-haired hippie friends to smoke weed in the parking lot by their van. I caught myself in reflection once more: I looked like Buddy Holly. I looked behind me to see if Max and HB were going to come. They were still sitting silently at the bar. That was the last time I ever saw Max Acie.

No comments:

Post a Comment