Crook Takes Pawn Part 2

That morning, like many mornings when the holidays swung around, Greg stared at the card. He turned it over in his hand every few minutes, unable to help himself. He found the price on the back of the card: 99 cents. This was the real value of a person's thoughts. How much they spent on the card said a lot, at least to him.
The front cover was obviously Christmas themed. It had a terrible watercolor drawing of Santa flying his sleigh above box-shaped houses. The reindeer were strange renditions of either camels mixed with moose, but they did not resemble the animal they had intended.
He saw what he thought were dasher and dancer, but the rest of the reindeer floated off the page, into a half-finished swirl of color that might've been a border, or maybe just the artists lack of interest finally getting bored with the project.
Greg had learned by mail that his father had died. Strange to see a funeral message sprawled across the inside of the holiday card. It could only be his Aunt Katherine's handwriting. It would have been funny to combined a xmas message with a deepest sympathy:
Merry Christmas to all, and to all corpses a good night!! Not a creature was stirring, not even your deceased, illegitimate, deadbeat, biological father.
As it turns out, he was buried for three months before they found his next of kin.  His father had moved out to Iowa, from California to what amounted to a reason to leave his family behind. He said the cost of living was cheaper there, and jobs were plentiful, but there were other reasons. You could read it in the fidgety way he always tried to leave early when family gatherings were occurring. He mind was already out the door, but his body was just making preparations to follow.
Greg wholeheartedly leapt into the lease of the building. Greg was under the impression the pawn shop was thriving. The funeral pictures of Gregs father George showed an elaborate ceremony. Georges coffin was solid oak, with gold trim. It looked heavy, although Greg would never know for sure. Greg never got to be a paul-bearer for his own fathers funeral.As it turns out, the expensive funeral and procession were cobbled together from whatever inheritance Greg would have received. In death, George had spent his whole meager life savings he had earned through swapping and peddling. The business was broke. It turned out to be a massive moneypit that drained Gregs bank account every month and had him living hand-to-mouth.
To save money, Greg was now living in the back office section of the dilapidated bulding.

A woman runs into the store screaming. The girl has an injury, a cracked bridge of her nose, bloody nose black eye, with red cornea. Greg is startled, dropping his fathers death card, which he had pulled out for a bitter reminiscing. She struggles with the heavy entryway door. Greg runs quickly to assist her in opening hit. He opens abruptly, and she staggers forward from lack of strength. Gregs beefy arms catch her mid-fall, saving her from a disastrous fall on her face to the thick linoleum. Her woman's khakis are dotted with what appears to be her own blood. Her tan blouse is torn along the neck, revealing her white lace bra beneath.
Greg's immediate thought is rape. The woman is young and would be quite attractive were it not for her current injuries. The woman's red eye swings toward him wildly, burst capillaries almost screaming their dying color. Her tousled hair hangs limply onto her disastrous face. An expensive-looking clip used to bind her hair together now tilts wildly askew in her mound of hair. Gregs stunned first impression is that the clip resembles some eagle's claw, grasping her roughly and not letting go.
"Whoa!!" Greg exclaims, his voice echoing in the coordior, "What's going on here?!?!"
"My baby!!" The woman yells shrilly," He's got my baby!!" Her volume is almost ear-shattering in the enclosed space they both occupy. Greg gingerly hauls her to her feet, supporting her with his large hands on her slender shoulders. She must weigh 110 pounds soaking wet. She is tall, maybe 5' 9", still coming 4 inches below Greg's own height. He can feel the outline of her collar ones beneath his fingers. They feel almost like pencils you could snap with enough force. But Greg hold her with kids gloves, merely wanting to get her to a spot to sit. He eases her into a leather office chair. It is actually the nicest piece of furniture in the store, so therefore it was here to stay, no one would ever buy it.
Her shaking hand was pressed to her streaming bloody nose. Greg vaults to his feet, quickly retrieving both a towel and his personal cell phone. He hands her the phone and flips one his cell, preparing to use it as soon as he gets a brief low-down on the situation.

"What's your name?" Greg asks.
"Rebecca." she answers, in a nasally voice. The towel is pressed firmy against her nose and she is leaning her head back.
"Tell me what happened," Greg instructs, "How else are you injured?"
"I was driving down Gilbert Road" she says, voice muffled from the towel ,"When we got to the stoplight at Kirkwood" She was speaking fast, frantically, but he was able to follow her. He hung onto every word, trying to assemble the scenario in his mind.
This man was coming up from the side. I tried not to make eye contact, just watch him from the side of my vision. These damn stop lights, they're always longer than they need to be. During this really long red, I could see the man coming across the crosswalk maybe 10 feet from us.
Then he broke away from the painted walk, and charged right toward us. I locked the doors.
The guy tapped on the window with something metal. It was a gun. I hit the gas, but couldn't enter the intersection because of heavy traffic. I tried to back up, maybe to wedge between two cars behind me. I bumped them, but knew I wouldn't fit the van through, so I stopped, then tried to go forward.
Thats when he started shooting. He fired three times, once at the windshield, one at the ground, and one more into the air.
I had to stop, I couldn't go anywhere and he would kill me if I tried. He tried the door but it was still locked. He started screaming to open the door, and smacked the window with the handle of his gun. I told him no, I had a baby, just leave me alone. Then he pointed the gun at my head and cocked it. I unlocked the door, and he yanked me out.
I told him to let me get my baby, but he cracked me across the forehead with his gun  right between the eyes.

"The van has One-Star on board!! i activated it before he pushed me out of the car. The engine will die as he's driving and lock the doors. The police have automatically been called. They should be trying to call the car phone right now.

"Tell the police that I have a gun and give them my description."
Greg unlocks his desk drawer and jerks it open. The wood squeals in protest against the frame of the desk. Greg pulls out his beretta, as well as the fully loaded clip.

 Tell them I'm a store owner and I have a  concealed weapons permit. There's a cell phone on my desk in the back, call 911 and tell them everything.

"There's a magnetic key in the rear passenger side wheel well. use it to unlock the door and get her out!! She's in the back, in a child seat!!

"Please don't let him hurt her!!" the mother wails over his shoulder as he hurriedly exits the store.

This is insane Greg thinks coldly to himself. He is at a level he has never been to before. Actually it was more like a sub-level. His heart rate was slow. His thoughts are simple, focused, not distracted in the slightest. Think of the child Greg continually whispered to himself, in his mind's voice. A calm voice, understanding what he had to do. Greg thought of his own child. He had a little girl with his now ex-wife. He thought of his little girls face, and knew the terror he himself would feel if his own kid was in danger. Think of the child.
Greg walks with a slow, confident stride. He thumbs the safety switch on the beretta to off. I don't want to kill anyone Gregs mind voice says simply. It is not my place to take a human life, not unless there is no other choice. What if the kid is hurt? What if the bum pulls the gun on him? When will those damn cops get here???
Greg pulls open the heavy mess that is his hastily repaired front door. The cold air howls around him in the small front corridor. The flaps of his blue worksheet ruffle in the wind from outside His skin breaks out in instant gooseflesh. However it is not just the cold that sends chills up his spine, and through every appendage in his body. Although he would never mention it to anyone else afterward, he was feeling exhilarated. He was facing danger and death, and he was ready to meet it head on. His struggle could be over today, if that's how the cards were dealt. He might die, but with that finality, his tedious worries and problems would be over.
 Mustn't think like that, Greg's inner voice coaches. This is not a suicide mission here, pal. That kid ain't even old enough to have a say in what good or bad was. The kid hadn't had a chance yet. There lay the unfulfilled promise of a human life. Infinite possibilities could await that child. Greg wasn't about to put that precarious existence in danger. He had to be cautious. The crackhead was obviously crazy, and didn't care if he lived or died.
The moment the baby was mentioned, it gave the scenario a whole new dimension. It gave purpose to his ownership of his gun, and the concealed permit he applied for legally. He had never been one to tout the 4th amendment. However he knew from hard experience that there were indecent human beings out there. They helped contribute to his lower social standing now, and everything had come to a point. Fate never held much interest to Greg. Until today, he would have said that if fate were true, he was destined for this life of misery and scrounging for money.
Greg hops in with someone who knows which direction the crackhead went. They tear off and see the car break down kitty-corner at a diagonal across from the park. On the opposite edge of the park, the car was almost sideways, immobile from the security measure. Greg gets out of the car and tells the dude to park close behind so he can snatch the baby and get out quick. Greg sneaks through the park to intercept the crook.


Uploaded 01/03/2012
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