crook Takes Pawn part 79

On the ride over to the store, Greg heard a lyric from a band he had never heard of before. They were called Audioslave, and the song was Heaven's Dead:
Heaven's dead when you get sad
I see your wishes flying
Out of time
For the best time you've had
Heaven's dead when you get sad
I see your wishes flying
Out of time

I'll take it all, arrows or guns
Hundreds or more to save you from one

 Greg brushed the old scar. His gunshot wound was a badge of honor. It granted him elevated access to many things: her pussy, her panties, her mouth, her tits, her bra. Even her money was cleared with him.
    Greg was actually glad to get out of the house. As much as he loved Rebecca and the kid, it felt good to have some alone time. He needed to drift back to earth, where his business dwelled. After the shop was closed, it was stairway to heaven, to commute back to Rebecca. For now, it was the daily grind. This particular grind sheared off a different way than normal on that day. The customer from before returned, the one who hooked up the TV monitor over the phone. His name was Derrik. Greg didn't feel so bad about not knowing his first name because Derrik greeted Greg incorrectly again.
    "Hello, Craig," Derrik says, "the man of the hour. You sure helped this here fella out. I wanted to talk computers again with ya."
    "Sure thing," Greg says, "we're an official vendor of Digital Dreams computers."
    They ambled over to the display of computers. Derrik studied them from afar, a wary spectator to a wiry foe.
    "I'm not much up on technology," Derrik admits, "I have some requirements that the firehouse needs to have."
    Derrik pulls out a roughly folded piece of paper, as well as a pair of reading glasses.
    "You work for the firestation, huh?" Greg asks, making conversation.
    "Yep, I've worked there about 15 years. I'm the fire chief," Derrik explains, "We've gotta use up the last of our state budget, or we won't get approved for the same amount next year. I figured we might as well get some fancy new toys."
    "You public works companies must all have budget dispersals about the same time," Greg says perceptively, "we just sold some more of them at the YMCA."
    "Yeah," Derrik says, "my wife actually works over at the Y. She's the one who told me about you guys. She said 'those computers are wicked fast'. Just like that, she said it!! Like a little kid, or something. She's been reading the manual. I'm amazed theres so much custom things you can do on one of his computers. Like, recording shows and stuff like that."
    "Yeah, his design, its ah--proprietary," Greg says, pulling that word outta his ass. He had overheard Ben use the phrase before.
    Derrik squints behind the rims of his spectacles, and holds the paper at arms-length. "I need a 3 G-H-Z, whatever that means,"
    "That's most likely the CPU," Greg says, reciting his limited knowledge,
    "4 Giga-bitters of memory?" Derrik continues unsurely, "a DVD reader, and CD burner, and a Hard-Drive of--Well, I ran all the stuff by my IT guy. He said the computer I bought would work. Can you just sell me ten more of the ones I got?"
    Greg is stupefied. He can't be serious.
    "I--can you repeat that?" Greg stutters.
    "I need 10 more," Derrik says calmly, "I've got just under $4,500 to work with. Can you help me out, or what? Do I gotta go across town?"
    "NO!!" Greg says loudly. Too loudly. Derrik jumps at the sudden bellowing.
    Giving a nervous smile, Derrik studies Greg's face. "I take it you can fulfill my order, then?" he says questioningly.
    "Absolutely," Greg says immediately.
    "Ring me up," Derrik says, producing the same card he used on the previous purchase.
    Greg's hand is shaking as he swiped the card. The purchase went through. $4,280. The receipt printed out like a grinning tongue. Greg tore the snarl of paper and handed him the copy. The man signed his name. Boom, it was done. Greg was in the money, Greg's in the money, Greg's got a lot of what it takes to get along.
    Greg felt tears of utmost joy forming. He was a little bitch. But that was fine. This bitch was getting paid.
    More than anything, Greg felt thankful. Thankful to have his own business. Thankful to be getting laid by the hottest babe on the planet. Thankful for his life. Right then, he forgave George entirely for any wrongdoing his parenting may have caused. George was dead, but maybe there was a God, a whole new set of rules in another dimension.
    Come to think of it, Greg felt certain there was a God. He wasn't a bible-beating, preaching type of guy. He was more casual like, strictly a Christmas and Easter kinda guy. It had been forever since he'd even gone to church. But he remembered the desperate prayer he had given in the upstairs bathroom, so long ago. He had been shaving, and all looked ready to disintegrate. He had shed his beard, and along with it, God had shed him of most difficulties. Greg's path from that point forward had progressed at a wild pace, but Greg had navigated it. What had he asked for? Just to be let down gently, instead of dropped on his ass. That was it, right? Now, Greg got more than he bargained for.
    "Thank you, God," he whispered aloud. "Thank you Jesus, if there is such a thing, or person."
    Greg told them to back up to his back cargo bay, and they could hoist the computers back. There was another burly fireman with him that helped to transport the computers. 10 pristine boxes were carted away by the fireman's pickup. The stack of Ben's machines looked much leaner now. They were nearly at their goal.
"Thanks again, Craig." Derrik says in parting.
"I'm sorry, Derrik, but my name is actually Greg."
    "you're kidding me, " Derrik's mouth drops open. "I am so sorry."
"Don't worry about it," Greg says, waving a hand, "It's a common mistake. Really."
    It was true. Craig and Greg were very similar in pronunciation, and people's memories followed their ears. So if they misheard his name, it usually kept going.
    "But you are the guy who shot it out with that one fella, aren't you?" Derrik asks solemnly. Greg nods.
    "I heard it on the police scanner. The fire rescue wasn't called in, but all us fire boys were huddled around the radio. We heard it all go down, from a play-by-play. We stood by and expected to be brought in. There was no telling what that bastard was gonna do next."
    For about the thousandth time, Greg thought about Jessie Baxter. It was alright to drudge up the memory, like a forensic reenactment. As long as it always came back with the same decision: Jessie was a low-life, and deserved his cheap coffin.
    "When they were in the ambulance, we were all rooting for you," Derrik says, "we held a candle vigil for you. It was on the news that same night. Didn't you see it?"
    Greg had no idea. By that time, he was in surgery. Maybe somebody posted it online.
    "We listened in, and we heard them say, 'he's flatlining'. That means your heart stopped. He's flatlining. He's flatlining. They kept saying it over and over. They patched the Emergency Room Doctor into the ambulance PA, to give medical advice. That's when we heard this loud THUMP!!! and the beeping on the heartmonitor started again. They brought you back with the life paddles."
    Derrik is crying. He doesn't try to hide it. The other fireman accompanying Derrik seems equally choked up. He chews his lip, and stares past the floor. Derrik wipes his eyes, unconscious of any feelings towards weakness at having cried. He was still as manly as ever.
    "I've had friends go down in bad ways in this job," Derrik relays, "but nothing like what you went through. You saved that child, just as sure as any one of us trained firefighters have saved victims. That's why I'm buying these things from you, Greg. Consider yourself one of our own."
    Greg shakes this man's hand and feels the sting of tears in his own eyes resurface. The other gentleman extends his hand hesitantly and Greg shakes it as well. From one hero to another, a recognition of respect.


Uploaded 06/07/2012
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