Crook Takes Pawn Part 71

They slept till nearly noon. Greg would've been content to squirrel away the hours of the day, burrowed in covers and snuggling Rebecca in his arms. She seemed pretty tired too. Perhaps it was due to lack of food. Greg thought back and realized she didn't eat anything last night, (other than his protein).    
    Taking precedence, Greg awoke before her. She usually was the first one up. Greg propped himself up on one elbow and rubbed his eyes sluggishly. He kept that way for a few minutes, head angled to the side, and watched her sleep.  She snored a little bit. With each rise and fall of her side, a snort would accompany her inhalations. He grinned. Having access to most of her time meant they would uncover each others peccadilloes. Greg had his fair share of pet peeves, and annoying behaviors. But she was about perfect. He didn't want to put her on a pedestal, but it was getting difficult not to.
    His only reservation was about her divorce. There were two sides to every story, and surely it couldn't be as simple as she made it out to be. He felt conflicted. On one hand, her divorce was a different facet of her life, and didn't involve Greg. On the other hand, knowing the full breadth of the fallout and separation might prepare for obstacles in their relationship.
    Her breasts ebbed and flowed with her breathing. The black brazier beckoned to be taken off, but he was no date rapist. Rule number one: both parties should be conscious to partake in sexual activity. Greg wasn't some perverse frat boy, with a bag full of ruffies.
    He admired her body with a touch of awe. The garter belt was askew, pushed upward onto her ribcage from moving on the bed. One strap hung free, the clip trailing on the bed. Greg straightens the belt properly, and reattaches the clip to the top of her stocking. He caresses the little valley down the center of her posterior, between her shoulder blades, across her bra strap, down to the small of her back. He goes back and forth until she wakes up. She turns onto her side, contorting her body so that her butt still presses against him, but showing the swell of her breast from the side.
"Morning, lover," she says, clearing her throat.
"Morning," he says, nuzzling her neck, "are you gonna get up?"
    She brushes the brown hair from her eyes and glances at the bedside clock. "Yeah, we probably should. Julie is raring to get outta her room, I'll bet."
    She ekes aways from him. Greg's nose and chin linger against her feathery skin, and down her scapula as long as possible, until they slide free from her. Sigh, time to get up.
    Julie was a touch cranky, but only because it had taken them so long to rise. Julie was stuck in her locked room for a few more hours than normal. Crabby or not though, Julie tried to cooperate as best she could while getting dressed.   Rebecca and Greg alternated shower time. He helped put on Julie's socks, and tied her shoes as Rebecca took a brisk rinse in the shower. She had hung up the expensive stockings, bra, and panties on the closet hanger, so as not to wrinkle them. He wished they were still clinging to Rebecca's body, not limply existing as they were now.
     She began to apply makeup, but Greg told her not to bother. It would take too much time, and anyway, she was ravishing, even when au naturale. Greg's own bathing was likewise short, and he dried quickly on her designer towels.
"Do you have a shirt I can wear maybe?" Greg asks from the bathroom, as he applies his deodorant stick. Anticipating several stays at Rebecca's, he had purchased an assorted supply of toiletries: antiperspirant, toothbrush, combs, and cologne. He neglected to bring a spare set of clothes however, and last nights shirt was sweaty from their romp.
    She hands him a blue and white jersey.  "Wear this. It was my exe's."
The mesh material fits him nicely. It must've been baggy as hell for her ex-husband, but has perfect dimensions for Greg.
    They all went out for a family feast. Although it was lunchtime, they went to IHOP to indulge their appetite for breakfast. Julie chowed down on pancakes and scrambled eggs, which Greg fed to her. Rebecca initially tried to sit Julie on her lap, but the child fussed until Greg held her. Apparently Greg's love for the kiddo went both ways. That was okey-dokey with Rebecca, it freed up her constant need for mothering. Rebecca was ravenous.  She ate quickly, paying no attention to her table etiquette. She was at ease with Greg. There was no need to walk on eggshells, not after last nights debauchery.
    Greg put away plate after plate of pancakes. The initial meal of eggs and bacon was supplemented with a bottomless pancake special, and Greg took full advantage.
    His phone vibrated with a text message. It was from Donny.
"We need to talk. Can you meet me at the Pawn?"
Greg wiped his fingers and face free of syrup and typed back.
"I'll meet you at your apartment. 'bout 20 minutes."
"Who was that?" Rebecca asks curiously.
"It was Donny. I need to meet up with him," Greg says distractedly, "I hate it when I get interrupted when I'm with my fam--when I'm with my girlfriend."
    On impulse, Greg had almost referred to the girls as his family. It wasn't quite accurate. Not yet, anyway.
    Greg climbed the steps of the YMCA. The stairwell carpeting was threadbare, and well-worn. Occasionally, there would be faded water stains, or a cracked piece of plaster. This place wasn't the Ritz, but it was a suite compared to the stony parkbenches, or doorways.
    Greg knocked on Donny's door. 301 was the room number. Donny answers. Greg is hit by a wave of marijuana scent, barely masked by a cloud of incense. Donny is wearing a scruffy-looking red bathrobe. His brown hair is an unkempt mess. A tall cowlick stands at the parting of his air. Greg views himself in the reflection of Donny's mirrored shades. A large wooden pipe is clamped in Donny's teeth.
"Welcome!!" Donny says with a slight impediment because of the pipe.
Donny turns back into his apartment, kicking popcans and wrappers out of his way. It was dirty, but the room was so small, it surely wouldn't take more than 30 minutes to clean. Gus was lying on the bed, one hand propped up into a V that supported his neck. Greg had a fleeting image of Gus posing for Playgirl with that posture, to his amusement.
"Greg." Gus says.
"Hey King,"
    Donny settles down into a sorry-looking green recliner. The metal screeches as he pops up the leg rest, and lays back.
"Whattya think?" Donny asks, gesturing around the diminutive room with his arms.
"Not bad," Greg comments, "I'm really glad things worked out for you. I really mean that."
    Greg nods his head in the viscidity of Gus. "And I'm glad to see you doing so well, too, King."
    Gus is cramming his mouth full of potato chips while Greg is speaking, and Gus gives a thumbs up.
"Is there another chair in here?" Greg asks.
    Donny bounds up from the recliner and pulls out a folding canvas chair that has the Iowa Hawkeyes symbol on it. Greg sits down experimentally. Once he's satisfied that the chair won't collapse, he relaxes.
"So, what's this all about?" Greg asks.
"Ben told me you guys had a talk about me," Donny says, pushing his suglasses up onto his forehead. his eyes are cashed; lined with spiderwebs of veins.
    "Yeah." Greg confirms.
"So, you guys are talking about me behind my back? Is that it?" Donny accuses.
"That's not it all all, Donny," Greg says evenly, "Ben told me what really happened to make you get on the dope. You lied to me."
"maybe I should go" Gus says, uncouthly brushing crumbs from his shirt, and swinging his legs off the bed.
"You don't have to leave. I have no secrets from ya." Donny says.
"But apparently you have secrets from me, though," Greg says, "It's not like you lied about a direct question. Remember that day in the hospital bathroom? You offered up this info yourself, and made it up. The thing that sucks is that it makes me question your believability."
    Donny crosses his arms and rocks back and forth. The chairs springs ratchet back and forth, pivoting with his weight. A stick of incense smolders on the lip of the Air Conditioner's top.
"Just promise me you won't lie again, man." Greg says forthrightly.
"I can't say that, Greg. You know that. If you want to look at it like a rational human being, that is. But if you're gonna be on your high-horse, and not concede that people lie occasionally, it's gonna look bleak."
"But you also stole from me." Greg says defensively.
"And who told you that? Me, that's who. I was a man, I owned up to what I did. Addiction is fucking horrible, man. IT makes you turn on your friends, even a close bro like you, Greg."
    The emanation of the incense is sickly thick in the cramped room. Greg looks on the floor and sees a marijuana leaf ashtray. The green glass is full of cigarettes, and a few noticeable roaches. The smell of weed still hangs beneath it all. Who knows how much pot the two bums had gone through. Addictive personalities are drawn towards their own.
    "The drug comes before everything and anything," Donny says, continuing his critique on the perils of dope, "And even when I got off of it, just the sight, just looking at it, made me want to do every fucking last one of them. I would've nabbed the whole bottle, but that would've been too noticeable. Not to mention, if a cop stopped me with another person's prescription bottle, I'd be fucked."
    Donny removes the shades altogether, and rubs his blood red eyes. The glasses tumble from his grip, clanging against a pop can. Greg says nothing, only listens.
"I was so messed up, I didn't realize I left some behind. I had snorted three 10 milligram lines, and I was back on the ride again. I don't even remember passing out that night. Even now, I'm a junkie of-sorts. But the state is taking care of me now, so it's okay then. I'd like to be off of everything eventually."
    The Carpet King opens the sliding glass window, and the chatter of birds overtakes the quietness. Greg is thankful to have some oxygen flowing through here, but then Gus lights up a cigarette.
"I didn't want to tell you about my fucked up life," Donny says sadly, "I thought it was already too much just telling you about my addiction. It was a half-truth, I guess."
    "I don't know what to tell you Donny," Greg says, "I can only imagine what you've gone through. But you've given me reason to question your actions. Half-truths are just as worthless as lies, to me. If you don't want to be in a pissing match with me, then stop your damn lying. It's pure and simple."
    Donny chews on his fingernail as he contemplates this. Gus requests the ashtray, and Donny hands him the glass pot leaf.
"I'm sorry I made up that story," Donny says, "Your friendship means a lot to me, Greg. I might very well be dead now, if you hadn't stepped in and got my shit together for me. Thank you, dude."
    Donny stands, opening his arms. Greg stands as well. They give each other a bro hug, starting with one clasped hand between them, then embracing with the other free arm. Donny cries as they pull apart.
"So much bad shit has gone down in my life," Donny sobs, "I swear sometimes I just want it to be over. Like, fuck this world, you know?"
    "I know Donny," Greg says reassuringly, "remember when we first started hanging out? When I was lying there on that curb, bawling like a little girl? Right then, I wanted an out, too."
    Donny wipes his eyes as the tears subside. Gus reaches over and grips Donny's shoulder in a manly show of affection.
"Don't forget about me," Gus says, "There's been plenty of times I thought about punching my own clock. Thing was, I couldn't even afford a fucking gun to do it!!"
    The Carpet King's joke is morbidly gruesome, but sometimes that works. They all chuckle together, three guys who have had encumbrances and burdens that would've destroyed weaker men.
    Greg spends a few more minutes chatting. Donny shows him the bulky picture-tube Television he picked up for free from Ben. The antenna input was broken on the TV, but Donny didn't like television anyway. The video input functioned, and that was enough to run a second-hand Sega Genesis. Donny had paused a frantic session of Sonic the Hedgehog when Greg came a knocking. As Greg left, Donny hit pause again and resumed his 16 bit interaction. Greg thought Donny would be okay. The kid got by just fine with next to nothing. As Greg left, the sounds of cartoon coins being collected faded from his ears. If things went accordingly, Donny could help all of them collect their share of coins as well.


Uploaded 05/10/2012
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