Thursday, May 12, 2016

Riding with Max Acie (Part 2)

The next morning we intended to part ways.

I was heading for Canmore. I had a job interview waiting for me, plus I wanted to live there. Canmore was surrounded by mountains and there were walking trails everywhere. My job interview was at a Canadian Tire. Not glamorous, but it was going to be money in the pocket until my next move. I don't remember if I asked Max, but however it happened, that morning over our hotel breakfast he asked me if I wanted to come to Edmonton.

"My mom has a ranch," he told me, "and she's looking for some hard-working guys."

“Hey I'm your man," I assured him. "I love working outside, and I'm looking for a job that's a little more challenging.”

“Well you can meet her,” he said, “and we'll see how she feels.”

I don't know why Max Acie was offering me this opportunity.

In retrospect, I don't know why Max did the things he did. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty and I believe that's true. For these events occurred over four or five days and I remained a little confused and on edge the whole time. The only thing leading me through was my intuition. If I hadn't trusted my gut, things might have turned out a lot worse.

It was late September and Max was driving. HB was up front and I was in the back listening to music through my headphones. We had to stop at a bank in Red Deer. Apparently Max and HB had gotten a mortgage from the TD Bank for a ranch in Fergus, Ontario. Only a hopscotch away from the town I grew up in. Small world.

We stopped in Red Deer at a CIBC where HB got a line of credit. The bank was on the outskirts of town, a newly paved area that was, as Max put it, a strip-mall for banks.

And he was right. All around us were banks and construction workers.

Max and HB spent at least two hours in the bank, which was a long time when one sits outside on the pavement.

I went inside once to find Max and HB sitting the lobby. They were waiting to meet with someone. I made a few jokes about stealing the iPad they were advertising (some promotional gimmick) then went back outside. It was a concrete jungle under construction. There wasn't anything to do but lay on the pavement and listen to my headphones. Max came out once, rummaged through the car, then went back inside. I continued to listening to headphones.

Finally the two came out and everything was settled. Whatever it was they were trying to settle. HB's line of credit? Whatever, let's go. I wanted to get to Edmonton and see this ranch. I wanted to start making money.

First things first - however - we needed to stop at some shit mall in Red Deer, not too far from the bank. I don't know why it was necessary to stop there, but HB and Max had it planted in their mind.

As I exited the car, I noticed Max and HB discussing an envelope full of a bunch of cash. Although it seemed like they both made an effort to hide it from me, I clearly saw an envelope with large bills. HB asked why he was bringing it and Max replied that he wasn't going to leave it in the car. They seemed on the verge of a fight. I ignored it.

In the mall my attitude changed drastically. I went from being bored and annoyed to grateful. At the time my only pair of pants were jeans I inherited from my little brother, so they cut off around my ankles. I was also wearing an old work shirt that was sun-stained from working outside all summer. HB was convinced that I needed a make-over and Max was willing to pay for the whole ordeal. They bought me a new outfit, including new shoes, and paid for a hair-cut.

When all was said and done, as we were leaving the mall, Max and HB looked at me in disbelief.

"He looks like a whole new person," HB said

"He really does," Max said, "You look so so different."

I caught my reflection in the doors. I looked preppy.

HB drove on the way to Edmonton. Max slept a bit and I observed my shoes from the backseat. They looked ridiculous. Like something from Back to the Future 2. I would be embarrassed if we visited an Alberta ranch and I was dressed like this. I was going to sell these shoes the first chance I got.

As we entered Edmonton from the South, Max pointed to his Mom's ranch. It was the first farm on the way in.

"She owns all this," he pointed to the left, "and most of this," he pointed to the right.

HB wasn't listening and I didn't believe him.

This was my second intuitive response to Max Acie, the first being back at the mall in Red Deer. When HB was gone we looked at engagement rings, but he was rude to the seller. And now this strange gut feeling. Prior to these couple instances, I hadn't really considered Max as anything but a friendly man who picked me up hitchhiking. He was wickedly funny, and was apparently a professional athlete which explained the hot girlfriend and all the money.

But since offering me the chance to work on his Mom's ranch, my future income became instantly entangled with Max Acie. I ignored the disbelief in my gut. I was content to spend another night in a hotel on a bill that wasn't mine. The next day we'd visit his mom.

But we didn't.

"Max and his Mom don't exactly get along," HB told me when we were alone.

"Have you met her?" I asked

"No," she said, "I haven't met anyone in his family. That's what this whole trip is supposed to be about."

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