By G.D. Maxwell
I noticed the necktie before I noticed whose neck it was
tied around. It was hard to miss. In Whistler, where ties are less common even
than leashed dogs, it stood out. Stood out? Hell, it screamed out. On a
background of Pacific Ocean blue silk, a very fetching - circa 1930s - Hoochie
Coochie girl in grass skirt, coconut shell top, fetching smile and come-hither
eyes, danced barefoot on a small, palm treed dot of an island.
"That tie has just about everything a guy could
possibly want in a necktie," I found myself saying. "Nice silk, good
knot, beautiful colour and a design that verily screams, 'Hey, if I have to
wear something as stupid as a tie, I'm gonna make the most out of it!'
A tie with its own sense of irony.
"You are blessed with impeccable taste, my brother.
Buy me a beer?"
I couldn't remember J.J. - Whistler's first and foremost
private eye - ever speaking so many words as prelude to saying 'buy me a beer'
before. I couldn't remember J.J. ever wearing a tie before. And I certainly
couldn't remember me striking up a conversation voluntarily with him before;
usually our encounters were more of the ambush variety, with me being the
"There must be an occasion, since I can't imagine
anyone wearing Little Egypt for no good reason at all.
"Goin' down to the States..."
"And you thought you'd wear your invitation to be
"Say what you will, you Philistine, but this tie is
"Hell, J.J., that suit is a classic. It must be
older than most of the people in this town. You look like you just stepped out
of the Kennedy administration... except for the tie, of course, which looks
like it just stepped out of a bordello in Samoa."
"You have a keen eye. The suit is from the Kennedy
administration, Brooks Brothers, 1962, but the tie is from a little shop that
used to be just outside the compound at Pearl. Hand-painted."
"None of which answers the question. Why the costume
and why ya headed stateside?"
"I'm goin' to D.C. I want to shake Mark Felt's hand
before he dies. When a guy's 91 and you want to shake his hand, you shouldn't
wait around too long."