Crook Takes Pawn Part 31

The next morning, Greg kept his store closed again. Sure enough, Donny was dropped off by Ben at 10 oclock on the dot. Greg waves goodbye as Ben backs out and the two guys head inside.     Donny stands there as silently as if he were another item on the show floor. Greg just stares at his mug, as stem rolls off the coffee. Things seem different now. It is not how Greg imagined when he planned this. There is a rift now, which changes the dynamic of their friendship. Donny had no real earthly possessions in the world, but the clothes on his back. And yet now Donny was indebted to Greg for hundreds of dollars. Now Donny was here, to act as some servile figure to Greg. Leverage, they call it, in Wall Street terms.     Long ago, when Greg had first daydreamed of being an entrepreneur, he had studied up on the terms and some procedures of the finance game. It had amounted to little more than surfing the internet for an hour, and reading a magazine article about home ownership. You could borrow against so many things, leveraging out your worth and making deals based on how much money you could put down for collateral. Now, Greg had quite a bit of leverage on Donny, and events were well in Gregs favor.
    Neither men seem to know how to begin again. The chasm between them was palpable.     I have a joint we can smoke, Donny says abruptly.And there it was. The first steps to make amends. They would smoke their peace pipe together.
    Did Ben tell you about the deal we worked out? Greg asks, passing the blazing J.    He mentioned it, Donny says offhandedly, taking a drag Selling his stuff in your store on commission, or something? Are you sure that will work?    Greg shrugs. I never thought the Pawn and Payday would ever make me money, Greg says simply, But its working out. Im willing to take a crack at computer sales too. Why not?    Economys bad, Donny comments, returning the joint to Greg, People cant even afford to pay their bills. How can they pay top dollar for a computer?    2 words buddy: credit cards. If they buy on credit, I get paid automatically. Greg says, taking the obligatory two hits, then passing again,  Well test the waters a bit, see what happens,    Greg felt his leg bouncing up and down in a steady rhythm. Weed always seemed to make him hyper. Many thoughts flooded his mind. Man, did Greg miss this sensation.    A lot of things are gonna change, Greg says flatly, Hopefully for the better. Maybe this shitty little place can reach out to the community, do some good, you know?    no, Im not following you, Donny says honestly, What are you saying?    We can talk to schools, man, Greg says animatedly, Maybe we could sell a buncha computers at cost to the schools, or even donate some. A computer lab could house like, jeez, 20 computers, couldnt they?    Donny curls his lip and nods, in an absent, stoned manner. His baked mind mulls it over.A lotta things are gonna change between me and you, too, DonnyI know, Greg. I expected as much. But Im not gonna pull anymore shit. Im trying to fly straight here.     Like I said, if my money comes back to me, we have no problem, comprendo?    Donny smiles. It lightens his face and brings him back to his younger years.     Thank you, Greg, Donny says through a haze of smoke, For all youve done. Youre a good guy.    Greg retrieves the joint from Donny and notices something. Greg gestures at Donnys jeans.    You got some new clothes I see. Greg points out.    Yeah, Ben gave me some new threads. These sneakers too. He said he got them as a gift but never wore them. Bens the best. Im so glad I made amends with him.    Donny suddenly looks sullen. The youthful appearance sags towards older decades.     Im just sick of being a mooch, man, Donny says sadly, I dont want to be a charity case anymore.    Greg chuckles, as the joint flares from his hit,Well, you dont have to worry about that today, Donny. Today, youre working.Donny nods solemnly and extinguishes the joint, putting the roach in his pocket.    Thats right, Greg. Im here to work it off, and do right by you, dude.With those terms laid out, the two men stand and shake hands. Maybe Greg was wrong to jump to conclusions in the first place. Maybe people really could change, to better themselves. Greg had strove miles of progress across the shattered terrain that was his life. Donny could make it to.
    The first task was to dump the rest of those accursed boxes. Greg had neglected to dump his carload of trash from the previous day. It had smoldered under a blanket of stench. Luckily it was just before spring thaw, and the cold kept some of the bad odor at bay. Still, the sour smell hit Greg as soon as he opened his car door. Greg saw Donny grimace as well from the passenger side. Whoo boy!! Donny says comically, That chick you banged last night sure had rotten crotch!!    Greg and Donny snicker at this, as they start up and pull out. Greg refused to lift anything today. This was Donnys idea, and Greg intended to get his moneys worth. They had not discussed hourly rates, or how long the work day would be. Greg had the leverage. He knew Donny felt guilty, and that was enough to drive the bum for at least a good afternoons worth of labor.     Donny cleared the back seat in about 10 minutes. They had parked close enough to the recycling bin that Donny could simply hurl the tattered boxes into the open top. Greg watched with mild interest, as the fleeting smell of mildew and earthworms vanished from his car. Donny pulled back the hood on his sweatshirt and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his large front pocket.    Smoke break, boss? Donny asks, with a cigarette protruding from his cockeyed grin.    Sure thing, prisoner, Greg says jokingly, Since when did you start smoking anyway?    Donny lights up and shrugs. The first exhale twists the smoke around Donny in a funnel cloud.     Addictive personality, what can I say? Donny says, You ever try to beat an opiate addictin? Its tough stuff, man. Im just trying to keep myself sane. My body needs something.    Hows the methadone treating you? Greg asks with interest.    I dont think its quite kicked in, yet, Donny says thoughtfully, I just took my first dose this morning. It takes about 2 hours to take effect. Ben helped out with the payment. He said hed just take it out of my first couple paychecks.    How much are the treatments? Greg asks.    About 300 bones a month, something like that. Donny says quietly,I didnt even have to ask, Ben just yanks out his checkbook, signs his name, tears it out, and thats it. A little piece of well-being for me, on a slip of paper.    Greg grumbles inwardly at this. If they really are friends, Greg should be able to voice his opinion. He speaks his mind.    You just need to stick with the program, Donny. Thats a big investment for Ben, and he doesnt have a lotta money to spare. So remember, you have other people behind you on this.Donnys eyes seem to smolder along with the bright cherry of the cig.    I know Greg. Donny says calmly, I want to change my life. Im tired of scrounging around for my next meal, sleeping wherever I put my head down.Donny waves his hand towards all the heavy metal containers. Recycling? Donny retorts to himself, Ive been recycling for years. Cashing in pop cans to pay for a dollar cheeseburger just dont do it for me anymore. Its demeaning. It makes me ashamed of myself. I take the drugs to forget all that. But now I am able to take an alternative, man. I know whats at stake. Its my life, man.    Greg is sufficiently satisfied with this response. Donny has an intelligence that can be used for more than just surviving day to day. If Donny really is able to avoid the perils of his relapse, he might just make it. Donny tosses the butt of his cig and they pile into the car. Greg swings back onto the road, leaving the hulking bins behind.

Part 32:

Uploaded 02/15/2012
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