"What the heck happened to Wet Coast endless, drizzling spring?" I was thinking to myself. One day fleeced up, the next a case of nascent heat stroke in search of a cold beer in a resort town post-long weekend with nary a shady patio seat in sight. Undaunted, I searched on.
Please tell me the heat's bringing on aural hallucinations. Please.
The voice was growing closer. The voice was unmistakable, like a bike scraping itself and its rider down a sharp gravel trail, wheels in the air, hope for a graceful recovery long abandoned. Like cement and gravel in a mixer before the water's added. Like new skis finding the only rock on an impeccably groomed run. Like... snap out of it, this heat's getting to me.
"Dude, wait up."
Great, now I'll have to find two patio seats and buy J.J. a beer, or four.
"Dude, I've been looking all over for you. What are you doing here?"
"I figured this was a place you could find me, J.J. Why are you looking for me? I haven't seen you in, well, I don't know how long but I knew it couldn't go on like that forever."
"Dude, have you heard the news?"
J.J. Geddyup, Whistler's only private eye — and that's stretching the definition of the job about as far as it will go — doesn't exactly live in the same world you and I do. Well, you anyway. What passes for news in J.J.'s world can, often as not, be found in dog-eared textbooks or the pages of the National Enquirer or, not infrequently, nowhere except JJWorld.
Over the years, I've learned getting a newsflash from J.J. is like tuning in to the mothership. On the other hand, he did know the identity of Deep Throat, or at least he'd perfectly described Mark Felt to me several years before Felt outed himself. It was one of the things that led me to believe he'd maybe been telling the truth all these years about being a CIA operative in the dark netherworld of what he still called the Indochina Adventure, his term for Vietnam.
"Whatever the news is, J.J., I'm pretty sure I haven't heard it. I've been up at Smilin' Dog. What's up."
"Dude, you're going to be out of a job."
"I'm not sure what you mean. Most people don't think what I do is work anyway. 'Splain it to me like we're both stoned, J.J."
Looking around furtively, like he was about to pass something illegal to me, J.J. whispered, "Dude, I hear the Pique might be sold."
Two can play that game. I shoulder checked, darted my eyes left and right and left again, moved closer and whispered in J.J.'s ear, "Dude, that ship's already sailed. It's a done deal."
"C'mon, J.J. Hell, it's already all over Facebook. If you can't trust Facebook, what can you trust?"
"Never mind. So why do you think I'm out of a job?"
"Dude, you really think a new owner's gonna put up with you? By the way, do you know who bought it?"
"Same outfit that owns that other paper in town. Good point, though, about putting up with me. I hadn't given it much thought. I mean it has been a while since anyone tried to strongarm Bob into getting rid of me."
"So how come Bob sold out?"
"Sold, J.J. Sold, not sold out. You have any idea what's happening right now in print media? Hell, you have any idea how hard it is to sell any business in Whistler? There were only two ways out for Bob: sell or die. Seems to me he opted for the better path."
"Yeah, maybe. But to some corporate Borg? Dude, what the world needs now is love, not another road to suitsville."
"There are lots of moms and pops out there starting businesses, J.J. There aren't very many buying them. Media's been all about concentration for a long time and I don't think the New York Times was knocking at Pique's door."