Crook Takes Pawn Part 11

"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.
"Speaking of which" Greg mentions, "You think you can hook me up with a bag of that grass?"
Donny looks over at Greg, somewhat doubtfully. After weighing the situation in his mind, Donny nods.
"Yeah, how much you want?" Donny asks
"Well, how much does an eighth go for nowadays?" Greg asks uncertaintly.
"An eighth of that stuff we just smoked is $60" Donny informs,"Unless you want some lesser swag. Swag will have seeds and more stems, but it's only $30 an eighth."
Greg chews on his lip, doing figures in his brain. His number one expense now (that is, after conceding he won't be able to make his bank loan payment) was his electricity bill, gas bill, and car insurance payment. Added together, he had more than enough to pay those expenses. He had just enough to fall short of the bank payment, so $60 wasn't going to matter much.
"$60 of the better shit" Greg relays to Donny.
"It might take a day or two to get ahold of my guy" Donny says, "But that's because I don't have a cell phone. I'll just stop by his house tonight, it isn't far from here. I can stop by tomorrow morning and pick up the money from you. Then I can had over there, pick it up, then drop it off at your store."
"can't I just go with you, and meet the guy?" Greg asks, confused,"I don't feel comfortable just giving you the moneyno offense."
Donny shrugs indifferently. "My guy only meets with me." Donny says,"I don't take offense, but that's the only way you're gonna get your greentake it or leave it"
Greg groans to himself. He hardly knows Donny. Can he really trust him with his money? Greg once again sidesteps his objections and nods to Donny.
"Ok" Greg agrees, "Stop by my store tomorrow around 3, ok?"
Donny holds out a fist, which Greg promptly bumps with his own.
"Right on, brother" Donny says cheerfully, "My guy is always holding. It's how he makes all his money. I'll let him know you're looking."
Donny unbuckles his seatbelt and slides out of the car. After slamming the door, Donny holds two fingers up in a peace symbol. Greg returns the gesture awkwardly, as he starts his car at the same time.
"I hope you know what you're doing, Greg" he whispers to himself.

The next morning, Greg took another day off. He busied himself with the shoebox full of poloraids, labeling them, and putting them between the plastic sheets of a photo album. The water-stained tan box held a veritable treasure trove of information. Not only pictures were housed within, but several letters written by George as well.
Greg was steadily gaining more and more information about his father George. It was piecemeal, but the bigger outline was slowly coming to gather. George had served in Vietnam. He was a naive young kid, just looking for a free ride at college. Little did George know that the lasting trauma from 2 tours destroyed his psyche. Years later, they would come out with a label for it: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. George got a steady government check every month because of disability. George got wanderlust, and started bouncing from state to state, changing addresses like one would change a pair of socks. He went off the deep end, and Greg believed him to be homeless at one time. THere is a single picture of George surrounding a firebarrel among him and other veterans. Three other men in the picture all have beer, or wine bottles in their hand. They point to the stitched patch on all of their navy green jackets. 69th Infantry Vietnam. Greg deduced that this was a point when George was without shelter, or place to stay. The wind batters the tiny fire in the barrel, which lights all the faces of former soldiers. The camera snapped a moment that has long since moved on. God only knows where some of these fellas ended up. A dull throb of pity builds within Greg. Perhaps he can forgive the transgressions of the father.
    If he could only pick one thing from this flaming building, it would now be the photo album. Everything else could turn to ashes, and it wouldn't matter in the slightest. The one expense he could bear through anything would be the fee for the storage shed. It was more than just a pile of junk in that particular buidling, it was a part of his lost heritage. There came a strange sort of freedom as he detached himself from all material possessions. the pawn shop was a weight, dragging him down like an anchor. He wasn't free while he lived and worked here. He was a prisoner. And meanwhile, all the stress and heartache of keeping this place afloat was too tiring. It was a battle that was lost long ago, despite how he continues to wage it.
Greg was finally at ease. Throughout the day, he took out random films and had them playing on several TVs as he did his odd arts and crafts.
His favorite was Fight Club. The whole film dealt with the same battle for sincerity, amongst possessions and materialism. Greg found himself inthralled in the film, even rewinding certain phrases to play over and over. His favorite was one saying in particular: "When you lose everything, you're free to do anything." Also "The things you own end up owning you."
It was like the actors were talking directly to him. Greg's true journey could start once he gave up these shitty pipe dreams. His store was finished. the wreckage is rusted, let it sink.

It was decided then. He would give up the store. Perhaps he could use whatever junk was here as collateral, or to finalize any last debts.
Who knows. he had another month to watch this place implode. there would be plenty of time for worrying down the road. For now, just let him bide his time, and patch together his fathers life through poloroid Puzzles pieces.

Greg actually forgot about the arrangement he made with Donny. Greg really didn't care one way or the other. Perhaps it was for the best that Greg didn't start smoking weed. If he started becoming a huge stoner, he would lack the energy to do what final steps needed to be taken down the road.
However, at about a quarter past 3, Donny entered the store. Greg had been working on the photo album all day, and the box was empty, save a few letters from George he couldn't wait to start reading. Greg planned to make more trips out to the garage, hunting for more.
"Oh, hey Donny" Greg greeted warmly.
Donny looked a trifle more nervous than he had yesterday. "I got that thing you wanted" Donny said softly, "But I need the money to make it happen."
Greg flipped absently through the cellophane pages of the photo album. It seemed Donny was more dependable than Greg thought. It would be nice to have enough pot to get ripped for about a week, then lay off after all his cleaning and sorting was done. Being high would make dismantling his dead business a little easier.
"Ok" Greg says, opening the register and removing 3 Andrew Jacksons from the tray.
"Let's just call this a test of trust." Greg says, offering out the bills to Donny. Donny looks Greg square in the eye and nods gravely. He takes such a statement seriously.
"I'll be back in about 20 minutes" Donny says, stuffing the bills into his pocket.
    After about 10 mintues, Greg started to regret his decision. Might as well kiss that money goodbye, Greg mentally kicks himself. The guy said it himself that he was a drug addict. He lost his job, and his home because of it. Even his own mother wouldn't take him in. What a fucking--
Donny returns to the store, his face somewhat rosy from the brisk wind outside. Donny struts over to the counter with a coy smile affixed to his face.
"you get it?" Greg asks suspiciously.
In reply, Donny retrieves a brown paper bag from his pocket and plunks it on the counter.
"There's your green" Donny points out, and holds his hand out, "And here's the rest of your green."
Greg mentally counts thirty dollars in Donny's hand.
"I thought you said it was $60?" Greg asks, as confusion sets in, "Did you get swag, or what? I asked for the good stuff."
"and that's what you got," Donny says proudly, motioning to the bag, "Take a whiff man."
Greg didn't have to lean over, he could smell the weed's aroma seeping through the bag while he stood a few feet away.
"My guy hooked me up" Donny explains, "We go way back. He used to sell me Oxy, too."
Greg couldn't believe his good luck. As Greg peered into the bag, he realized there was a lot more than an eight of an ounce of weed in there. There looked to be damn near a quarter of an ounce in the ziploc baggie. Greg grinned. "Wanna get high?" he asked Donny.

Greg had a small display of swisher sweet cigars he kept by the register. They were about the only hot selling item in the place, and he kept plenty stocked at all times. The profit margin was slim on the cigarillos, though, and was barely worth the effort.
Greg plucked one of these from his inventory and handed it to Donny, who quickly went to town on the Swisher, cutting it open and replacing the tobacco with marijuana.
    As they puffed on the blunt, the room slowly filled with thick evergreen-like smoke. In their haze of euphoria, Greg recalled the idea he had before.
"Maybe I can open up a computer repair store," Greg says, thinking aloud, "and you can help me run it."
Donny raised an eyebrow above his slanted-eye. "UhhhhMaybe" Donny mumbles.
"i've gotta do something," Greg says, toking the blunt,"I"m closing the shop. I can't do this piddly ass flea market bullshit anymore."
"really?" Donny says, surprised "That's too bad. Easy come, easy go."
"Yeah, it was a lousy idea to start with, I guess." Greg concedes, "But computersthat's the future. Not selling them, but fixing them."
"Maybe." Donny says doubtfully.
"I'd hire you. Let me check your references." Greg says with a smile.
"WellMy residence for the last 6 months has been under a city park commons area." Donny says, coughing and chuckling.
After both men became sufficiently blitzed, Greg gave the remaining blunt roach to Donny, who slipped it into his shirt pocket.
"Thanks again," Greg tells Donny, "I'm thirty bucks ahead, if you think about it."
Greg looks to his array of worthless crap as he walks Donny out. His eyes stumble across one particular item.
"Do you have an outlet you can use on that gazebo?" Greg inquires.
"Uhyeah, there's one setup for public bands and families to use on outings." Donny says.
Greg hauls an electric space heater from the shelf. He presents it to Donny.
"It's yours, if you want it." Greg says,"I can't sell the fucking thing"
Donny holds it lovingly, like a small child.
"I'm getting out of the selling business." Greg says, gesturing all around at his useless plethora of used goods,"Everything must go."
Before Donny can even respond, Greg snatches up an old military sleeping bag from under the counter.
"This was my dad's" Greg says nostalgically, "military grade surplus. He kept it with him wherever he went. I read some letters he wrote to me, but never sent. He said he didn't even have enough cash to pay for postage. This was before he got his government check, see."
Greg hands the bag unceremoniously to the astonished Donny.
"that tough old bastard hitchhiked across half the country with that thing." Greg says wistfully, "but to be honest, it kinda smells like cat piss, so I can't sell it."
Donny laughs uproariously. If it's one thing about being hopeless, it's that you really lower your standards. Cat pee? Who cared, as long as it kept him warm. By the look of the thick padding, it would certainly do so. Surely it didn't smell worse than he did throughout the week. Sometimes Donny was able to scrounge some liquid hand soap from the public bathrooms and wash up some. But for the most part, his sense of smell had died off long ago, a victim of decrepit environments and unclean living quarters.
    Donny had tears in his eyes as he thanked Greg for the gifts. It had been so long since someone had shown one iota of caring toward his lot in life. In this one afternoon alone, Greg had drastically improved his living conditions, and Donny could hardly contain his emotion. Greg could've pranced about and pretend to be magnanimous, looking down at Donny at the same time as a charity case. But Donny had not asked for these things, Greg had offered them of his own accord. And Greg would not hear of any excessive thanks. Greg figured if his store was going belly-up, the least he could do is help keep a poor bastard warm at night.
Donny had to turn from Greg as he left the store. The tears were flowing freely, and his gratitude was a real thing. For the first time in a  long while, Donny looked forward to the approaching day.
    Greg silently watched Donny make his way down the road. The bum seemed to walk with a more purposeful stride now. Donny's head was held high, and Greg could almost feel the lifting of the poor man's soul. Greg continued to watch until Donny's silhouette faded from view around the corner. Rest easy, Donny...
Uploaded 01/06/2012
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