Sunday, June 5, 2016

Riding with Max Acie (Part 4)

I woke up alone in my truck bed. At the Fantasy Land hotel Max and HB were on the Ancient Rome level while I was on the road theme. My lights were street lights and my bed was the back of a pick-up truck. I awoke to breakfast. It tasted like shit. I had a shower, but it was cut short by a knock on my door. It was a hotel employee, a certain Max Acie was trying to contact me. I looked on my phone, I had a couple missed messages. I had only been in the shower for a few minutes and he sent a man to my door?

I called him to find out what was going on.

"He's dead Caleb," The sobbing voice on the other end said,

"Who?" I asked,

"My Dad."

"Oh shit. Oh man, I'm sorry."

Pause. There was an awkward pause. I could feel it. At first I thought he was offended, in retrospect I believe it might have been a smile. A sinister smile. Caleb had bought it.

"You gotta find HB," he told me.

“I'll call her,”

“I have her phone,”

“Why do you have --”

“You have to find her Caleb!”

I went on the hunt. It didn't make sense, she wasn't where he said she'd be and he was constantly texting me asking if I had found her. Fuck this, I thought. I returned to my room, packed my shit and was ready to bail when I realized I left my green bag in their car. In HB's car. My green camp bag. It had my laptop adapter, my cell phone adapter, and my paperback copy of Rothbard's Man, Economy & State. I needed that bag. What else was in that car? Just the preppy clothing they've bought me, I thought, and my karaoke CD.

I tried to convince the valet parking staff to give me access to the car, even tried to bribe them. I had silver for god's sake. Nothing worked. I figured the only option I had was to find HB. The West Edmonton Mall is a big place but as fate would have it, I found her. She was frantically running around like headless chicken.

"Max has my phone," she told me.

"Why does he have it?"

"I don't know." She looked worried. "Where is he? He left early this morning,"

"He said his Dad died. He's at the hospital."

"What?" Now she looked really worried, and I regretted telling her that, "I have to find him." She started talking to her self, or rather, talking to a non-existent Max. Angry that his Dad died before she could meet him.

"Listen, Hannah," I said, "this is getting sketchy, my gut feeling says something isn't right. I just want to get my stuff from your car and go home.”

"Okay,” she didn't seem to register at first, but when I was standing outside her car with my stuff the reality must have set in. She tried to explain Max's lack of internet coverage.

"There was fraud and they had to take down the websites,"

I wouldn't budge. "Listen, Hannah. I don't think he's who he says he is."

It was no use. I gave back my "Assistant" Blackberry phone, to HB's disapproval, and then gave her the number to my personal phone. I wanted to her to be okay. I wanted her to drive back to Ontario. I wanted her to forget about Max Acie. He was a pathological liar and things had gone too far. But she wasn't listening. She used the Blackberry I gave her to try and call Max.

I darted off into the mall as she drove away. Poor Hannah, looking for that non-existent hospital where a non-existent Dad was dying or apparently already dead. But hey, maybe that much was true. I went into a luggage store and bought a suitcase to shove my shopping bags and shoes into. I then took a bus to the hostel off Whyte Ave. While on route I got a call from Max, on my original phone, the phone I owned before he had given me a Blackberry. I ignored the call, hoping he'd leave a message. If he tried to call again I'd answer but he didn't. I never heard from him again.

Later that day I met up with my friend Claire and we went for dinner. It was my first time seeing her in over a year. I had met her hitchhiking. I explained what happened. I realized that I had left my jacket in the trunk of HB's car.

"But with $500 you can buy a new jacket," she told me.

She was right, but I never did do that. 

The next day I took a bus to Canmore. The following day I still had my job interview with Canadian Tire and was offered the position on the spot. The day after that I found a place to live. I never saw or heard from Max or Hannah again. But I still dream about them sometimes. I still have the paperwork to that Blackberry, and so I have Hannah's full name and address. I don't have those Back-to-the-future shoes anymore, or any of that preppy clothing, but I still have ten ounces of silver, perhaps one of these days I'll return it to its rightful owner.

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