Greg turned on his stereo in this back office. The music from the show room comes to life in the office. Donny gives a goofy grin as he sparks the J.
"You wired the speakers back here?" Donny says through a cloud of exhaled smoke.
"Yeah, I just ran some speaker wire into the back here" Greg states, pinching the joint away from Donny.
Greg takes a deep hit and coughs uncontrollably, spraying embers everywhere.
"Save the joint!!" Donny shouts out, as Greg drops it onto the floor.
"Sorry dude," Greg says through reddened eyes, "It's been awhile"
"I see that" Donny says, cackling to himself softly. Donny flicks his lighter on, and attempts to even out the joint by lighting the opposite side that did not burn.
"It's got a run in the seam now" Donny says somewhat glumly. Greg shrugs, feeling like an idiot.
"It'll be fine" Donny says, taking several short tokes to fix the damaged joint.
Donny hands it back to Greg, who carefully takes smaller hits.
The weed hits him all at once. After he passes it back to Donny, he feels a major difference. He is calm, dreamy and light-headed. He hasn't a care in the world, he's just fine and dandy.
Donny nudges Greg's shoulder. Greg turns his head, slightly surprised to see the joint is still burning. A big silly grin crosses Greg's face.
"right on" Greg says sluggishly, taking the weed from Donny's scuffed fingers.
After that hit, Greg realizes he's had enough. "I don't need anymore" Greg says slowly, leaning back in his chair, "I'm good"
"I'm gonna put it out then,"Donny announces, looking around the tiny office, "Do you have an ashtray?"
Greg looks dazedly around his desk, searching for an ashtray. He takes about 2 laps across the desk with his eyes, then pauses.
"What?" Greg asks, confused, "What did you want again?"
Donny shakes his head, laughing deeply. Donny opts to extinguish the joint on his shoe instead.
"You're high as a motherfucker" Donny says, chuckling again.
Greg can only offer another goofy grin and shrugs. The two men laugh again, their voices mixing and becoming one cheerful sound.
Time seems to drag on as they sit in that back office. They chit chat about idle things at first, then begin to discuss their own lives with each other.
"I smoke because I get sad a lot" Donny confesses, "Sometimes I can't even get up to start my shitty little day. It helps to have weed to start out, even if it's just a roach."
Greg doesn't say much at first. He calmly listens to Donny, only pausing to ask questions every now and then.
"How long you been homeless, Donny?" Greg asks quietly.
Donny looks toward the drop-paneled ceiling and scratches his stubbly chin. After a few seconds of adding, he comes up with a figure. "7 years." Donny responds.
"And how old are you?" Greg asks
"25." Donny says.
"So, you left home at 18?" Greg says, with his hands behind his head, looking upwards. "Did you have a place to stay at first?"
"Yeah, I was renting this tiny little dorm apartment," Donny says, recalling the past events, "It was cheap, but I never really learned how to handle money too good. I was always buying stupid shit that I didn't really need."
Donny rests his leg ankle across his other leg, and fiddles with his shoe strings.
"I also got into drugs real bad," Donny says, in a voice hardly above a whisper, "Oxy was my favorite. That's how I knew about those Benzos mixing with Oxy and shit."
"A street pharmacist," Greg says flatly.
Donny raises his head and smiles a weary grin. "Street pharmacist." Donnie agrees. He looks old beyond his years, Greg realizes. If he had to hazard a guess, he would've figured Donny to be in his late thirties, to early forties. The thought-lines on Donny's head suddenly stood out to Greg. Greg could only imagine the hard choices and predicaments this kid had to think or talk his way through. Donny carried himself like a veteran on the streets. It was obvious to Greg that Donny was a lot smarter than he was letting on.
Donny told him about his first job away from home as a computer repair technician. It was part time hours, but the pay was good enough he could live off it. Donny was going to study for his A+ certification, but then he started partying heavy with the college crowd. Donny's potential had fallen by the wayside, along with his former home. When Donny spoke about computers, and monitors, and routers and things, Greg suddenly felt the glimmer of an idea surfacing in his mind.
"Hey man" Greg says, at a particular time when Donny paused," You wanna get some grub?"
Donny shrugs and tugs on the pockets of his jeans slightly. "I ain't got no money," Donny says sadly.
"I'm buying" Greg says, waving an arm to dismiss the thought of Donny paying, "You smoked me up, I'm just repaying the favor."
Donny smiles at this notion. Tit for tat, it wasn't begging. They were helping each other. Tit for tat.
They pile into Gregs car. At first Donny can't open the door, because the handle is busted off.
"That door only opens from inside" Greg explains, stretching across the seat to pull on the latch. The door opens enough for Donny to swing it the rest of the way.
"Nice car" Donny comments, clicking his seatbelt.
"No, it's not" Greg says, laughing to himself.
"You're one of the few guys I know that even has a car" Donny says, "Trust me, it's not that bad. As long as it runs, its a good vehicle."
Greg shrugs, conceding the point to Donny. Greg liked talking to Donny. As bad as it sounds, its always refreshing to hang around someone who's worse off than you are. It allows you time to reflect on the blessings you really do have.
Greg yawns, covering his mouth with his beefy hand.
"Man, I'm bushed" Greg says, clearing his throat, "I haven't been to bed yet"
Donny slumps in the seat. "You don't have to get me anything, if you're tired" Donny says in that same meek voice ,"you can just drop me off here"
"Shut up" Greg says jokingly, "We're getting breakfast drive-thru. I've got the munchies."
Greg shoots a disarming smile to Donny, who shrugs and gives no further protest.
Greg wants everything on the menu. Food has never looked so good to him right now.
"Can I take your order?" the speaker on the menu squawks.
"Just a moment please" Greg responds, turning toward Donny, "What do you want?"
Donny leans forward to closely study the order board. The saliva quickly begins to flow as Donny licks his lips.
"Can you get me" Donnie starts, "A sausage muffin with cheese?"
Greg waits, expecting more to the order, but Donny doesn't say anything.
"That's it?" Greg asks, slightly bewildered ,' What about hash browns? Orange juice? you can get more than just one sandwich."
"That's all I need." Donny says.
Greg shrugs and proceeds to order off what seems like half the menu: 5 sandwiches. 2 hashbrowns, 2 orange juices, and a biscuit and gravy.
Greg swings the Lebaron over into an available spot and puts the car in park.
Greg opens the sacks and begins divvying out the contents.
Without any prompting from Donny, Greg proceeds to give Donny a share of everything right down the middle. Donny is earnest. Greg had to actually prod him to find out what he wanted. Greg admired that. Donny was not greedy. On the contrary, Donny seemed to be too conservative. For all the help Donny had given Greg, he was only willing to take a dollar sandwich off the value menu. Forget the fact that Donny had smoked about 5 bucks worth of weed with Greg, the fact that Donny gathered those pictures for him was immeasurable.
Donny and Greg chowed down. For the second time that day, Greg gorged himself on a hearty breakfast, and that was fine by him. Donny looked as though he hadn't eaten greasy fast food in quite a while. Donny devoured every sandwich, taking great pains to pick every last bit of chess from the wax wrapper. Donny took the top off his cup and inhaled the orange juice with about 4 hearty gulps. Greg took a swig from his own cup and offered the rest to Donny, who gratefully chugged that as well.
Once again, Greg felt good. the mound of wrappers covered almost the entire dashboard. Greg belches loudly and unbuttons his pants to alleviate some of the pressure from his bulging belly.
Greg quickly sweeps his arm across the dashboard, raking all the wrappers into one of the sacks. Starting the car, Greg pulls out and discards the trash in the trash bin by the exit. He searches the other bag and sees the order of biscuits and gravy, and another sandwich.
"Here, take these" Greg says, holding out the sack to Donny.
Donny shakes his head. "No man, I'm full" Donny interjects, "I couldn't eat another bite."
"Well, take it for later then," Greg suggests, shaking the bag impatiently.
Donny smiles, and Greg remarks to himself that his teeth are quite clean for a homeless person.
"Thank's man" Donny says appreciatedly.
"SoWhere do you stay?" Greg asks, craning his neck to check both ways for traffic, "I can give you a ride."
"Um, I sometimes stay over by the park" Donny says, somewhat embarrassed, "I've got a few things I keep over there, by the gazebo. No one really bothers me too much. there's a lattice fence I pull up from the skirting on the side, and I sleep underneath the gazebo."
Greg twirls his hand in a semicircle, turning the car in the direction of the park.
"the park it is," Greg says in a fake british voice, "your taxi awaits"
Donny laughs politely at his bad impression. "you should lay off the weed, son" Donny says jokingly.