Crook Takes Pawn Part 6

A detective came to interview Greg about what happened. The man was gruff and impatient, and rubbed Greg the wrong way. The cop seemed to be accusatory no matter how Greg replied. Greg wasn't too fond of the police in the first place. If they had a faster response time, Greg would never have had to intervene in the car jacking in the first place. Greg had known the police's delayed actions from firsthand experience. Greg's shop was on the border of the ghetto of his small city. Many times, an altercation or incident would occur within the "official" lines of the bad neighborhood, then cross over onto Greg's property.
This was basically the same thing that happened with the mother and her carjacking incident. But it had also occurred with other people Greg didn't even know. At least half a dozen times, Greg had waited with a bloodied or scared victim in his store until the police arrived. The response time did not impress Greg. Greg supposed he should count himself lucky that the police arrived at all. In the rougher sections here, Greg had the feeling police were reluctant to stop out, to say the very least. The fact that the woman was attractive may have also played into Greg's prior decision, but he didn't want to admit that to himself.
"Let's go over it again", the detective instructs, to Gregs chagrin.
"I told you," Greg says tiredly, "I had turned Jessie in for theft and assault. He brought in the stupidest thing I've ever seen someone try to pawn."

Greg's imaginative mind relives that day. Jessie the crackhead sidled into the store with practiced stealth.  The security cameras recorded his every move, buzzing like some inquiring electronic insect. The cameras fed into the back room, where a pair of monitors showed everything the cameras glimpse. Jessie could be seen there, flickering amongst the black and white lines of the screen. Evil intentions do not seem to communicate well, especially on a low-tech setup as Greg's. But Jessies body language, his every move, his every gesture, seemed to communicate hostility. There was no sound on the monitors. Greg and Jessie's brief conversation was recorded several weeks before the two men would be shooting at each other in the store. The police would later use it as evidence. Greg handed it over easily enough, but he made sure to make copies of the tapes before he did so. Greg trusted the cops only slightly more than the bums outside. Jessie was wearing the same sheep skin jacket he would be killed in, and the same frayed and ripped grey acid wash pants also.
Greg was filling out a form when he shot a stern glance towards Jessie.
"Freeze" Greg commands. Jessie's cautious walk was cut short mid-pace.
"I don't want you in my store" Greg says sternly, through teeth already starting to grind in anger, "Out."
"I've got something to sell" Jessie insists.
"I don't care" Greg fires back, "I'm not into buying now, I'm too busy selling."
"Oh, you're sure selling allright" Jessie says, gesturing around with a hand at the store which was crowded to capacity with items, "Look how busy you are."
"I don't trust you, and I don't want you around my stuff no more." Greg says coldly, advancing outward from behind the store desk. He approached Jessie, who leans his head back apprehensively, and puts his hands up. In one of Jessie's hands was a grey backpack.
"You heard me," Greg repeats, pointing  a finger into Jessie's chest,"Out."
"Ain't you gonna at least look at what I gots?" Jessie asks, already becoming upset, "you ain't never seen this before, fo shoo."
Without Greg's prompting, Jessie unzips the bag and reveals its contents. Greg looks into the bag and starts laughing.
"You're kidding me, right?" Greg chuckles, pulling a college textbook from the school bag. "this ain't a fucking library. What am I gonna do with this?"
"Sell it," Jessie says with a shrug, "if u sell it cheap enough, kids will come for it."
"Wow, you're quite the salesman," Greg says jokingly,"that means I'll have to buy it for even less than you thought."
Jessie sneers with displeasure at this haggling.
Greg studied the book, it was an advanced calculus text. What would a loser like Jessie be doing with it?
"Are you working on your degree, or what, kid?" Greg says, snickering.
"Mycousin was using it, butshe dropped out" Jessie says,
Greg's ridicule quickly turned to suspicion.  An apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and in Jessie's case, Greg imagined his family shared a similar attitude and social standing.
In otherwords, Greg called bullshit, he highly doubted any of Jessie's siblings had even finished high school, much less attended college.
Greg decided to play amateur detective. He opened the heavy pressed cover of the book, searching for a name, or way to identify the actual owner. There were a series of dark black lines covering an entry in the name field. Obviously Jessie had tried to block out the name of the previous owner, as to limit the evidence of his misdeed.
As Greg leisurely flipped through the pages of the book, he stumbled across something interesting. There was a flash drive in the book, on of those little tiny deals, where you can plug into a computer and save stuffIn Greg's now dated generation, the closest piece of technology Greg related this too was a floppy disc drive. It was a technology now far obsolete. The thought made Greg suddenly feel all the more older.
For reasons he couldn't explain later, Greg decided to take action against this punk. Perhaps it was the thought of some poor college kid being jumped by this loser drug addict. Greg could almost picture the victim being tackled by Jessie, then left to bleed in the cold winter night.
Greg wanted to divert the attention of Jessie, so he decided to take advantage of Jessie's paranoia. Greg lifts his head from the book and cranes his head, as if he is looking outside at something. Greg squints his eyes, as if trying to focus his view.
Jessie takes the bait, and fidgets uncomfortably, before turning his own head sideways to follow Greg's glance. When Jessie looked away, Greg slipped the flash drive out of his book and put into the plaid pocket of his shirt. The drive had a long string to be used as a necklace. The book owner seemed to use this string as a temporary bookmark in the text. Greg didn't realize the length of the string, and had to hurriedly tuck it all into his pocket before Jessie turned back towards him.
Greg pretends to contemplate the prospect of selling the book. In reality, Greg was scheming of a way to keep the book here, without paying the bum. If he could force Jessie into returning the next day, Greg could call the cops in the meantime and arrange a bust. Greg was tired of Jessies face constantly lurking around his store, on the opposite street corner where Jessie obviously dealt drugs. On one occasion, Greg had contemplated walking over to Jessie to demand he leave the area for good. Greg had run this scenario by one of the older veteran bums that lingered around the pawn shop. The vets name was Gus. Being the elder of many of the bums, Gus seemed more peaceful than the others, less likely to start a fight. As long as he had his bottle of Southern Comfort in hand, Gus didn't bother anyone.
Gus had shaken his head fervently and dismissed this idea, calling it dangerous. Greg had asked why, and Gus told him about a friend of his that was in competition with Jessie. His name was Ed, and he worked for a rival gang of Jessie's. they both wanted to sell dope on Greg's corner, but there was only room for one. Ed had casually walked up to Jessie and tried to intimidate him. Jessie had smiled and flashed a gun tucked into his waistband.
Ed had retreated immediately, while casting scared looks over his shoulder as he walked away from Jessie. Jessie had not persued, just stood there, smiling that killers smile, and blowing into his hands every so often to warm them.
Gus had both spared Greg trouble, and also showed the low depths that Jessie might reach if provoked. This short incident comes to Greg's mind, and helps solidify his disicion to take him down.
"I tell you what", Greg says, trying to sound aloof,"You leave this book here, and I'll get some price quotes for you and let you know."
"No." Jessie responds immediately. Greg pauses. He may have spooked Jessie, and he must talk fast to cover his tracks.
"Now look" Greg begins again, "I don't have any idea what these books are worth. I don't want to rip myself off by paying too much for something that won't never sell."
"Nevermind, I'll take the book back," Jessie says shortly. He holds his filthy and scarred hand out to Greg.
Fuck, Greg mentally shouts to his stubborn self. There would be only one last way to play this.
Greg shrugs and offers the book back. "No skin off my back" Greg says indifferently, "I might just look into selling books anyway. Some of them sell for about $100 a pop. Thanks for the idea."
As he speaks, Greg walks away from Jessie. Greg hopes his uncaring manner will set Jessie at ease somewhat, so he can contemplate reselling the books. Jessie stands there, mulling over this prospect in his mind, or whatever qualifies for a mind within a crazy junkie.
Greg continues his charade, taking a deep swig from his coffee mug, which carries a funny picture of two male and female figures in a variety of sex poses. "Many positions available, inquire within" the mug exclaims in gaudy, bold letters.
Greg pretends to go back over his forms, while in reality he is watching Jessie's every move from the corner of his eye. Jessie is biting on his severly chapped lip. If Jessie came to Greg's shop, then every other pawn shop must've been visited first. Jessie knew Greg's limited policy of buying items, and surely would have tried all other avenues before coming to Greg's. Suddenly, as if a flickering lightbulb went off beside Jessies head,  jessie suddenly nods and motions toward Greg.
"I'll be back tomorrow around 2" Jessie informs. Greg shrugs again and gives no response. Jessie exits the store, with the tiny bell above the entrance clanging and ringing.
Overnight, Greg had used the flashdrive on one of his ancient computers. After some searching, Greg had located the name of the book owner on several school term papers. Greg had called the individual early that morning. the kids name was Arthur Dearborne, and he looked about like Greg had expected. Arthur had thick glasses, the kind only a true book worm would wear. The kid was akward and tall, at least 6 foot by Greg's estimates, and had all the gangly attributes you would expect from a college sophomore.
Arthur's tousled dark brown hair was unkempt and shaggy. Mini cowlicks and "ducktails" as Greg called them, weaved this way and that in Arthur's 'do. The first thing Greg noticed about the shy young student, is the terrible gash on the boy's cheek. The wound had been stitched up, leaving a ghastly threaded cut that would heal in time. Greg must admit he felt a ping of happiness enter his heart when he saw how Arthurs beady grey eyes light up. The kid grabbed the flash-drive gratefully.
As it turns out, Arthur was planning on becoming a teacher. His courseload was viscous right now, and semester finals were approaching fast. Never one for procrastination, Arthur had actually completed the majority of his finals, and had them saved onto the flash-drive. Greg figured he had the cumulative effort of over 20 hours of work on that one little drive. Arthur was ecstatic, and threw an awkward hug around Greg, that actually made Greg crack a smile. Arthur's mother had come along for the reclaiming of her son's possessions, and she gave Greg a similarly warm thank you.
Greg went on to tell the mother and son that he might be able to catch the perp who assaulted Arthur, and maybe they could pick the thief out of a lineup. They of course agreed, and the trap was set.
Later that day, sure enough, Jessie came strolling in at almost exactly 2. At least the crackhead was punctual, Greg thought to himself bitterly. As Jessie approached the counter with the book and bag, Greg hit the power to the front outside sign. This was the signal to the cops parked across the street, hidden in an alley. As the tacky arrow on the message board began to blink, the cops put the car in gear and parked in the lot. As Greg pretended to haggle with Jessie, the two cops entered with their guns drawn, boxing him in. All at once, Jessie turned around and caught site of the two officers. Much to Greg's relief, Jessie did not put up a fight. With the practiced patience of a multiple offender, Jessie simply put his hands up, sunk to his knees, and did not resist as they slapped cuffs on him.
A few weeks later, Jessie made bail somehow. Some thought it was Jessie's supplier, and they might've been right. It makes sense, seeing as how Jessie murdered his supplier of drugs that he peddled, and took a stash of dope and money format that same deceased gang member.
Jessie didn't really have much of a plan. It looked to be a kamikaze mission, from what Greg could gather. The aging crackhead apparently had enough of life, and wanted to take out as many as he could with him, on his destructive spiral. If Greg hadn't killed him, the remaining members of the gang supplying Jessie would have taken care of things.

Uploaded 01/05/2012
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