crook Takes Pawn part 75

    "I meant to text you, to let you know," Brenda says, "but one of the other children threw up, and we had a heck of a time cleaning it up. I know most parents want the first steps to be when they're around, but it happens when it happens. Kids these days get around pretty quick, and they wait for no one. I got some video of it when she first started, do you want to see?"
    Brenda's voice is gleeful, crackling the speakers of the small camera. Julie is tuckered out from the excitement of the day. she lays limp against Greg's shoulder, halfway to dozing. Rebecca is chatting it up with Brenda. Greg just wants to leave, and get the kid to bed. Brenda is the one who breaks up their conversation, going across the playground to tend to the other kids. Rebecca could be an attention hogger sometimes. But it only milady annoyed Greg. More often than not, her temperament was endearing.
    "Have you eaten yet?" Greg asked. His stomach growls the acknowledgment of hunger.
    "Weren't we going to get ice cream? I have a craving for it now." Rebecca states. Greg's sugar mama kept him and hers well fed. They sat at a bench outside the Dairy Cone and lapped up their cones. Greg had gotten a fudge dripped cone. Rebecca had a twist, with brown and white spiraled together. Julie battled with a dilly bar, a piece of ice cream on a stick dipped in cherry syrup and hardened. Upon his behest, Rebecca also got a small container of crinkle cut fries, and they contrasted nicely. IT was a winning combination that Greg swore by. Sweet and cold meets salty and hot.
    Greg talked and talked for once. She just listened, as Greg unfolded the events which led to his triumph today. Greg talks about Donny's phone tech support with vigor.   
    "Who's Donny again?" she asks.
    "He was riding with me the day my car died," Greg says, "he and I are both selling computers for Digital Dreams."
    "The homeless guy, right?" Rebecca asks inquiringly.
"He's living at the YMCA right now. He actually sold the Y a bunch of computers the other day."
    "Oh, that's good," she says absently. She was surveying the outlook of Greg's acquaintances. She really should meet Ben, to give a better rounding on their compiled business efforts.
    They were gushing over each other. Greg kept feeding her fries and she would do the same. Greg was hungrier than the speed her hands were dishing them out, however, and he began eating them on his own.
    "I was thinking about our trip," Rebecca says between swallows, "out to California. To visit your son Raymond."
    "Yeah," Greg says, rummaging through ketchup with a french fry.jj
"I've already made the reservation," Rebecca explains, "you should call Diane and let her know you want to see her."
    "I'm not quite ready," Greg counters, "I want to bring her a payment, for raising the kid without me."
    "Well, you can at least call her," Rebecca says, "to start testing the waters. See if she's willing to let it happen."
    Greg hadn't thought about that. Suppose Diane won't even let Greg near Ray? It would be over before it even began. Greg no longer held sway through legal proceedings. Raymond was Diane's kid exclusively.
    "I'll call her tomorrow," Greg decides.
    "Good. Do you know who will watch your shop while your away?" Rebecca inquires.
    Yet another detail Greg hadn't considered. Donny was the first name to spring to mind, but he did not say this. Rebecca still seemed wary of Donny. Greg was not a good liar. He felt he would buckle under Rebecca's questioning.
    "I don't know," Greg says.
    "What about your friend Ben?"
    "Maybe. I'll have to ask him."
    Greg didn't bother to bring up the fact that Ben had his own store to run and oversee. Greg would simply cross that bridge when he came to it.
    "Also, I wanted to ask you," Rebecca starts, "Now that you're doing better at the store, do you think you could cut down to part-time hours?"
    Greg shakes his head immediately. "No way, the fact that I'm doing well means I'll have to work that much harder.
    Rebecca frowns and gives Julie one of her tattor crinkle cuts. "You know, you don't have to worry about money anymore."
    Greg stares at her blankly. What was she getting at?
"How so?" he says.
"I'm your sugar mama," Rebecca says slyly, "I'd be willing to pay for the lease on your building every month, if you want. You wouldn't need to sell anything. Or, you could sell the place and move in with me."
    Greg's face turns sour. "I can't move in with you. NOt yet. That's a huge step, and it's way, way too soon."
    "But I--"
    "And I can't realistically expect you to pay for my expenses." Greg says.
    "Why not?" Rebecca asks plainly.
    "Because, it's not just the lease I need to pay. I also have a bank payment every month. When I first moved here, I took out a small business loan, which was dumb. But now I'm still paying on it."
    "How much is the loan?" Rebecca asks.
    "I don't want to get into this, Rebecca,"
    "How much?" she repeats.
    Greg studies her closely. She wears circular John Lennon-type shades, which partially obscures those baby blues. She tilts forward, raising an eyebrow as she does so, and Greg can see quite clearly that she is in fact serious.
    "$5,000," Greg states.
    Rebecca wipes her hand on the provided napkins and digs in her purse. Locating her pocketbook, Rebecca opens it and takes out a check blank.
    "Rebecca," Greg starts,
    She fills in all the blanks, and scribbles her name. Then, she hands him the check. His debt is eradicated by this one scrap of thick paper. Greg's eyes run across the zeroes. In the memo, "gift" was jotted in her neat printed script.
    Greg tears up the check in a few quick motions. Rebecca looks mortified.
    "What the hell?!?!" she exclaims.
    "I told you I don't want you to bail me out," Greg retorts, "This ain't WallStreet. I told you, I want to do this for myself."
    "And I told you, what's mine is yours," Rebecca says, "I didn't work for this money. You don't need to feel any guilt. But it's my cash to give away, nonetheless."
    "The money I give Raymond has to be money I earned." Greg defends
    "I'm not talking about your payment, or tiding, or whatever," Rebecca says, "I'm talking about your bank loan. How much would it cost to let you close down the store an extra day during the week?"
    "Whattya mean?" Greg asks.
"If I could reduce your debt, you could have Wednesday off," Rebecca explains, "So you can spend that time with me. Deal?"
    "What about your college classes?" Greg asks.
    "What about 'em?" Rebecca says, "I passed this semester. I just won't take any through the summer, maybe not even the fall. It's not like I'm building a career or anything. You're right. I was just kinda killing time with school."
    "What about your student loans? Won't you default on them and have to start paying, or whatever?" Greg says probingly.
    "My classes were paid for the day I signed up for courses," Rebecca says, "I'm not hurting for funds, Greg."
    Greg contemplates this. Could he swallow his pride and allow the woman whose child he saved pay half of his worry away?
    Yes. Yes, he could.
    "Deal," he says, shaking her hand formerly, "But only half of it. I need some motivation to keep selling. I think this Digital Dreams thing is really hitting the ground running."
    "You should try my cone," Rebecca says distractedly. Greg leans in and licks. At that moment, Rebecca tastes the same spot as well, and they touch tongues. The owner gives them a disquieting look from the confines of his florescent blue booth, and neon signs. Greg decides to pack, it in.
    A new check is composed. $2,500 is the new figure. Also, in the gift description, Rebecca doodled a bunch of cartoon hearts with arrows through them as the went to the bank to cash it. Julie was passed out in her carseat, face all sticky and white with ice cream.
    It was comical to Greg as they went through the drive-through. It was a large amount, and needed a few days to confirm it. Greg spoke to the sam loan officer, Pam. Needless to say, Pam was stupefied to see a fat baldy getting his life squared away by a supermodel-looking chick. But truth is stranger than fiction, and Greg made the transfer, just the same. Like the old saying, they laughed all the way to the bank. Then, laughed all the way to the house. Most of the rest of the night was shared in upward spirits.

Uploaded 05/28/2012
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