Crook Takes Pawn Part 29

The cluttered boxes took up the back seat, like unruly children crammed together. Greg found himself holding the Lebaron steering wheel in a deathgrip. He was mad. Before, Greg had written off the fact that he would never see Donny again. Greg had not obsessed his thoughts with Donny because Greg felt it was no good to conjure up toxic feelings when there was nothing he could do to remedy it. But now that Greg was going to confront Donny face to face, the anger was there. Donny had a lot of explaining to do. But not until Greg had chewed him out about what happened. Greg found himself muttering again. None of it was good.
    Greg slid into an empty spot at Bens store. Actually, the entire parking lot seemed abandoned. As Greg walks to the front door, he sees the white and blue handicap parking symbol, glaring an accusatory shade to deter any illegal parking. Greg couldve probably steered into the Handicap Spot and it wouldnt have mattered. People werent exactly clamboring over each other to get inside Bens shop.
    As Greg walked alongside Bens building, he noticed a large brightly colored mural on the wall. It showed a man that resembled the character on a mens bathroom door. This faceless figure had the top of his head opening like the lid of a tin can, and there was a wave of color and shapes that led from the brain to the computer screen.
    Greg was no art buff, but he was impressed by the complexity of the piece. It seemed to ooze urban street appeal. But it was a different kind of street than what Greg was used to. This was the well-off side of town. The lines of poor and beleaguered masses thinned out, and the rich houses began to dot the street. Pot-holes were filled. Lawns were maintained. Hell, there was almost no grass in Gregs urban sprawl.
    Greg liked it better over here. He didnt feel the subconscious paranoia and regard for safety that one would travel with inside Gregs section of the city. It made Greg wonder if his and Bens business deal would come to fruition. If this swanky side of town aint buyin, why should Greg suspect his poverty-stricken neighbors would do any better?
    Greg rounded the corner towards the front of Bens building, and caught site of the store sign. "Digital Dreams, make imagination a reality", was the proclamation on the elegant sign. It was an art deco style, although Greg could not place the artistic method. The lettering and picture of another empowered computer user was stylized in that quasi modern, elaborateness of the 1920s and 30s.
    In a similar fashion, there was a relief carving above the entrance. It showed the point of view of a person typing on a keyboard. The Keyes seemed remarkably huge, and the hands poised above them occupied the space towards the viewer. It was like a living 3D image. Greg wonders why he never saw this place before. It was right next to the interstate. Greg could hear the roar of cars barreling up their concrete passageways, leading down toward the highway and lively downtown. Jeez, Ben spared no expense when it came to decorating his establishment.
    Greg paused at the heavy glass door of the entrance. Greg saw his face darkened from the illusions of the glass. His scowling face looked menacing in that darkened reflection. It gave him pause, made him take a few breathes to calm himself. Then he went inside.
The entryway led into a lobby, with a three stair step taking him downward. Greg immediately hears and feels the circulating warm air from the heating ducts. It is a pleasant sensation that makes for a cozy atmosphere. A stubby hallway is dotted on each side with 2 more extensively creative paintings. The hall gives way to the large lobby, which strectches widely in seemingly all directions. It seems like one big giant artists loft. In the center of the massive space is Bens desk.
    Ben is leaned back into his large leather-backed soft chair. The chair goes all the way up past Bens shoulders, complete with a cushy headrest. Bens eyes shift to Greg and Ben motions him over. Donny sits in the gleaming metal office chair in front of the desk. Greg knows its him because he recognized the Bears coat that was offered in charity.
Greg feels the frustration build with each step towards the two men. When he finally reaches them, Greg is agitated in a sense that resembles the man in the art mural outside. Gregs top is boiling over, his head is ready to unleash a torrent of insults.
    Ben shows his intuitiveness as a leader, and holds up his hands in a wait before you explode motion.
    Listen Greg, Ben says carefully, I know that youre upset, and you have good reason to be. But before you go off, Donny would like to say a few words first.
    Gregs breathing is harsh and very audible. His nostrils flare as oxygen floods his body, fueling his vehemence. Ben motions to another immaculately shiny chair and Greg begrudgingly sits down. As he settles himself, Greg takes off his thin spring coat and shoots a look towards Donny. Donny stares at the floor, clutching his black skull cap tightly. Donnys eyes are closed, but not from bruises this time. His eyes are completely healed, but Donny cannot summon the strength to look Greg in the eye. Greg notices that Donny is shaking minutely. Donnys wavering hands seem to increase in their jitters as he turns toward Greg. With still downcast eyes, Donny speaks.
    Greg, I Donny starts, Im the one who took your pills. Im sure you figured it out when it first happened. Ben told me how upset you were. And youre right. I wronged you, and Im sorry. I have no excuse. The pills are all gone. I took them all, snorted up my nose.Donnys voice wavered with each word. Greg could detect the regret. Donny was being genuine.
    I fucked you over, Donny continues, because of the junk. I went into your medicine cabinet that night, to find some band-aids, and there was the bottle. I couldnt stop myself. I told myself I would only take one for the pain, because I was swollen and beat up. Then, I was lying in bed, and I got up just to take more pills. Then I was emptying the bottle into a little baggie I found on the floor there. I dont know why I left the ones behind. It wouldve made more sense to just take the whole bottle. But maybe, I wanted you to know, to understand what a piece of shit I am, and that Im still a junkie.
    At the end of his brief statement, Donny broke down into tears. Ben says nothing, but offers up a box of Kleenex. The sobs once again portray a lost man-boy, an old soul aged beyond his current life span. Greg is moved by his honesty, but there is much to atone for. Pity points do not add up much for Greg anymore. At Gregs lowest, there was no one there to offer sympathy, or condolences.
    Stop it Donny, Greg says gruffly. Bens eyebrows rise slightly in surprise. Donnys crying gradually dies off.
    Youre not gonna get any pity from me, Greg says bluntly, I tried to help you out. I tried to jump-start things for you, to get something going with your life. And you stabbed me in the back.
    Greg, Ben starts to interrupt, but Greg raises his own hand, silencing Bens objection.    Im not gonna feel sorry for you, Greg says, youre not gonna get off that easy. I treated you fair and square, and now I have to treat you as your actions deserve.
Donny composes himself as best he can while listening to Gregs onslaught. But Donny does not retaliate. Donny knows he had this coming.
    Nothings ever been handed to me on a silver platter, Greg says, his voice rising unintentionally, I worked for everything I got, whatever its worth now!! Im struggling, just like you, Donny. Everyone has difficulties. We each deal with our own bullshit. But when you double-cross people, when you steal, when you do the wrong thing, it makes me not want to help others!! So few people are willing to give a hand anymore if it doesnt benefit themselves. Donny, what you did was for your own benefit. And you crooked me out of expensive medication, which I needed!!
    Donny shrinks from Gregs
Uploaded 02/10/2012
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