Crook Takes Pawn, Part 52

Once the party was done, Greg helped gather up the chairs, coolers and miscellaneous things. David and Amy bid adieu and drove away in their pickup truck. Julie's outfit was splattered with ketchup and mustard. Drops of the condiments were hardened to a crust on Julie's face. Rebecca wrangled the unruly girl, swabbing her cheeks with wet wipes. Julie struggled fussily until she descended into tears.
"somebody's awfully tired" Greg says, reciting one of the many canned responses available when referring to children, "It was a hot day."
    "It sure was," Rebecca agrees, "looks like you got burned a little."
Greg wriggled his cheeks and indeed felt the tightness of dry, reddened skin. Ever the vigilant mother, Rebecca pulls a bottle of aloe vera.
"Close your eyes," Rebecca instructs, with a dab of goo on her finger. She slathers his forehead and cheeks lavishly with the gunk. Greg felt lucky to have a mellow gal to take care of him once more. She had fed him today, kept him company, and was now tending to his epidermis. Greg felt sleepy while she applied it all, it was so relaxing. one last handful on his neck felt blistering cold at first, but then decreased to a great sensation.
"Better?" She asks.
"Are you leaving now?" She says worriedly.
"Yeah, I'm gonna head out."
    Her shoulders sink a little bit. Julie is in her arms, and dips along with Rebecca's posture. Julie is none the wiser. She has fallen asleep against her mommy's neck.
"But you said you were gonna stay," She says lowly. Greg is astonished by her vehemence for his overnight company.
"I never said I would stay," Greg corrects, "I told you I'd show up for the barbecue. I've gotta open my shop tomorrow. What time is it anyway?"
    Rebecca consults her sleek smart phone.
"It's not even 9pm, its only like 8:30." She says quickly.
    It was later than Greg had believed. Now that spring was here, the daytime was much later. The crickets were just now getting out as the sun took it's time to set. The chirping sound made Greg even more burnt out. He had probably put away a case of alcoholic beverages by himself. David had matched his thirst and the two had an unspoken battle for most beers. David had walked away without a sign of any intoxication, and had driven with no swerving. Greg however felt pretty wrecked. He would be okay to drive, but once he got home he would hit the hay without delay.
    "I've got so much to do next morning, it's not even funny," Greg says, exasperated, "This has been a grueling weekend."
"Oh, well thanks," Rebecca says sarcastically.
"I didn't mean it like that," Greg says with a  laugh, "I had a rad time with you."
"rad huh?" Rebecca says, playing up his leaving with comedy, "I see how it is. Was it groovy too? Is it hip?"
    "All of the above, baby," Greg says, sneaking in for a kiss. She pretends to be upset with him, but her lips pucker all the same. Showing her appendextrous side, Rebecca holds her daughter with one hand, and grab's Greg's groin with the other. Greg recoils as if he has been scalded by hot water.
    "What?" Rebecca asks.
"Please don't do that in front of the kid," Greg says quietly, "I don't feel right about it."
"ok, ok," Rebecca agrees, "I'm all up in a tizzy for ya, Greggy!!"
"I'll come by tomorrow maybe" Greg mentions, "It all depends on how the day goes at the store."
    As Greg walked drunkenly down the prestigious lawn to his car, it dawned on him that he could easily bed down with Rebecca tonight. But, he was feeling the effects of the alcohol more than he had the night at the club. He decided he should be completely sober the first time they hook up. Again, Greg reminded himself her attraction had to be based on his package size. It definitely wasn't his charming good looks. Greg needed to be sure his performance was at least adequate to her needs. He was walking a precarious line, and had to be careful.
    There were other reasons for Greg's sudden departure, besides his inebriation affecting his libido. Since Greg had thought of his boy Raymond at the behest of his own subconscious, Raymond refused to withdraw from his thoughts. Even worse, as Greg looked at Julie, he kept imagining Raymond in her stead. Julie had reached out for Greg as before, but this time Greg disregarded the child's attempts to be picked up. David chose to pick up the youngin instead, and Julie quickly forgot her rejection. But Greg could not forget the rejection fostered toward's Raymond.
    Monday was horrible. It wasn't that business was slow. Quite the opposite, there was way too many customers to handle at once. Greg was only one man, and quickly found himself inundated with a mob of people. The Pawn and Payday had never seen so much traffic before, at least not since Greg had owned it. Undoubtedly, Greg's father George never reached this pinnacle. As far as Greg could gather, his and Rebecca's danceclub romping had brought together a loose knit group of acquaintances. Greg spoke with the couple who had taken the duck fart drink with him. They were standing looking at the bullet-pocked window when Greg mosied over to them. Greg couldn't converse much, but they ended up buying an expensive stereo receiver. As they left, they stated they were throwing a get-together, hence the need for the sound system. They invited Greg and Rebecca to come over. Greg said he would definitely attend.
    Greg was fighting a losing battle. He had two cash registers, but he was the only person to run one of them. The checkout line trailed through the store ominously. Gradually, some customers became fed up by the wait and abandoned their purchases. With a sinking stomach, Greg watched as the people put back their items onto the shelves. It was money lost, maybe never to be recouped. He still kept running into people that seemed to know him, without knowing who they were. Word spread fast through the city, and the night club scene seemed to be no exception. Greg saw some musicians he recognized from the piano lounge. They bought the few odds and ends of instruments and accessories. One scruffy looking hippy bought an entire drum set. Greg sacrificed more customers when he took time to load the drums and symbols into the flower child's station wagon.
    People piled out of the store almost as quickly as they filled it. It was like some nightmare, where your actions aren't fast enough, and no matter what you do, you have no strength to press forward. It felt like the longest day of his life. Thankfully, 6pm rolled around and cut off his stores operation. Greg was coated with sweat and had to usher the straggling customers out the door. Things couldn't continue like this. Greg needed help. Not just to steady the checkout process, but to also keep eyes peeled for potential shoplifters. Greg had no way of knowing if anything was stolen today. If he checked the security tapes, Greg might be able to pinpoint such action, but even then, how was he supposed to track the violators down???
    Maybe Donnie could become a parttime employee. If today was a portend of things to come, it would be a necessity to garner help. Greg plopped into his office chair and closed his eyes in weariness. His small tabletop fan felt blessedly cool upon his sweaty bald brow.

Uploaded 04/09/2012
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