crook Takes Pawn part 86

The next day, Rebecca flushes the rest of the marijuana that Donny gave as a gift. Greg had asked casually about it, planning to get baked before going to work. Greg is dumbfounded.
"That was like $50 worth of weed." he states in protest.
    "You want $50? I'll give you $50," Rebecca sneers, "But I don't want an illegal substance in my house. DHS could take away my Julie. So, do you want the money, or what?"
    "No, I don't want your money. Are you pissed at Donny, or something?"
Greg was acting aloof. He didn't want to get on Rebecca's bad side by revealing he had been eavesdropping on her.
    "I don't want to discuss it," she says flatly. Greg leaves it at that. It is one of the few topics that are barred to him. Like the details on her ex-husband Luke. Greg does not pry. She will tell him if she wants him to know.

    "I think the HD output is fried," Donny says thoughtfully, "the picture shows up on composite red, white and yellow, but not on the HDMI."
They are at the Pawn and Payday, discussing one of the damaged next-gen gaming consoles. Greg is looking to dispatch with it, post-haste.
    "Well, shit," Greg says, mystified by Donny's wizardry with gadgets again, "that's more than I got to work out of it."
    "You could still sell it," Donny suggests.
    "Nah," Greg says with a swipe of his hand, "it'll cause trouble, if they get home and it don't' work. They'll just return it. Or, if their assholes, they might smash it, then return it."
    "I'll buy it from you," Donny says pluckily, "I sold a DD computer--"
    "DD?" Greg asks. They both say Digital Dreams in unison.
"Jinx," Donny says, "but yeah, I sold one to a friend of a friend, and Donny gave me the commission. I'll give you $50 for it."
    "Sold," Greg says, shaking his hand theatrically. Donny slips the $50 down Greg's belt. Greg frowns and curses. "What the fuck, Donny? you fucking pervo."
    "I thought that's how all bitches like to get paid," Donny says insultingly.
    "That's how your mama gets paid," Greg says, not thinking. His grappling for the loose bill pauses as he sees Donny's smile die.
    "I'm sorry Donny," Greg retracts, "I know you had a falling out with your ma."
    "Don't sweat it," Donny says, "The real gripe I had was with Evan, my mom's boyfriend. There were fights. He aways had a bone to pick with me. It wasn't abuse. I wasn't a little kid, I was outta high school."
    Donny gathers the cords together, as if he is gathering up his old thoughts alined with it.
    "I always had this thought process, like: I've got to survive. I developed a selfish mentality. I couldn't worry about others, just myself. But I'm really trying, bro."
    Greg nods, but sees a sight that worries him. Rebecca has just entered the Pawn and Payday. Greg foresees confrontation. Donny follows his concerned look, and the distant smile falls away at sight of Rebecca.
    "So, listen Greg. I've really gotta get going. Gus is waiting outside to give me a ride, so."
    Greg nods and allows Donny his escape from Rebecca. The woman was passionate, to say the least. Her love was like her hate: rigid and hard, not wanting to wait. Donny scurries past her.
    "Rebecca," He mumbles in passing. She does not respond, not even an acknowledging tilt of the head. Greg sees her jaw-line flex as she most likely grits her teeth. She was just looking out for her lover, Greg reminds himself. But still, like most nice guys, Greg just wished all of his pals could just get along.
    "Hey Reb," he greets. The kiss is automatic, taken over by muscle memory. After planting one on him, she glances towards the upstairs. She wears a tiny gray tank top, and Greg can see halfway to China when looking down that shirt. No bra. The black and gold Hawkeye football shorts are equally as tiny, and leave little to the imagination.
    "Is that your living quarters upstairs?" She asks distractedly.
    "Uh, yeah. Why?"
    "I was gonna clean it out for you, and wash your sheets, make your bed." she implores.
    "I can't ask you to do that," Greg says chivalrously, "you're not a maid."
    "Whose asking?" she retorts, "I'm telling!!"
She punches him jokingly in the stomach. It reminds Greg of their first night together, when she was still nervous and playful.
    "Ok, if that's what you want," Greg says, "knock yourself out."
    "I just didn't want to wait 8 hours for you to come home," Rebecca explains, as she clambers up the stairs, "I missed you, Greggie."  She has a small shopping bag. A trigger handle of windex pokes out of the bag. She is loaded for bear. Greg thanks the heavens for his good fortune.

Greg's junk is fragmented, but they consolidated it all to one corner of the store. Once again, Greg has a full house. Rebecca occupies herself with tidying up the store. Greg must say that it helps tremendously. One customer is buying the last of Greg's stereos. The customer studies Greg carefully."
    "Hey, do I know you from somewhere?" the customer asks.
"Do you watch channel 9 news?" Greg asks, preparing to relay his tale once again.
    "No. Why?" the customer asks.
"Oh, no reason. I was on the news a while back."
    "I know where I've seen you!!" the stranger says in realization,  "you were at Toad's a couple weeks ago, weren't you?"
"Oh. Yeah, I went there on a date."
"Who was that chick that was grinding all up on you?"
    Greg feels the urge to brag about securing a fine specimen as a partner.
"that's my girl. That was actually our first night out together."
"Dude, she was fucking stark-raving mad. What's the secret, brah?"
    Just then, Rebecca sauntered down the stairs. She was lugging Greg's musty sheets in her overloaded arms. She meanders over to Greg and the customer.
    "Hey baby, I'm gonna go to the Laundromat to wash these, allright?"
    Greg confirms this is okay, and leans in for another soft kiss. Rebecca recedes. When Greg turns back to his customer, the guy has an envious look.
"You are the man." the guy says admiringly.

    Another customer recognizes him from that night of partying. "You never showed up for our party, Greg!!" the guys says, "That stereo system you sold is freaking' wild, dude!!" it was the duck fart drink guy again. He had to learn this bloke's name. He couldn't keep calling him duck fart man. It was Peter, Greg found out. Greg takes the dude's number, but doesn't give out Rebecca's. Greg isn't sure how protective Rebecca is about her info. Having a hot girl's digits is like gold in the pocket. Greg states he will mention another party to Rebecca.
    It occurs to Greg that these people only respond to him because of Rebecca. Maybe they want to get closer to her, or perhaps Greg is just a side attraction to the main event of beauty. In either case, Greg still welcomes friends, and cash-heavy patrons especially.
    Still another visitor from Greg's past enters the shop. It is a day for past remembrances. Stacy, the reporter from Channel 9, briskly walks in through the front door. She pauses, and turns in a small half-circle as she surveys the place. Her microphone is in her hand, pointed downward, like a mine detector, or something similar. She approaches Greg quickly.
    "Hello Mr. Jefferson," she says cheerfully, "I interviewed you for a piece on our station about 3 months or so ago."
    "I remember," Greg says nostalgically, "I was in quite a mess when I last talked to you."
    "It appears as though you've cleaned up that mess," Stacy says in a complimentary way.

    Greg knew she wanted another interview. This career-gal was the self-driven type. And not much for news passes in Iowa. This was juicy stuff. They got down to it right away. Stacy called the camera man in on her walkie-talkie. As if it weren't pre-planned. Whatever, Greg would humor her. It would be more free publicity for the shop, too. Greg would just make sure she put in a shot of the "Digital Dreams" logo somewhere. That's all that he asked.

    "So, how have things changed for you?" Stacy asks professionally.
    "As strange as it sounds," greg says, "the robbery was one of the best things that ever happened to me."
    "How so?" Stacy asks, trying her best to look compelling.
    "Word got out about what happened," Greg states, "and it seems people respected what I did. I met a good friend who convinced me to sell computers on a consignment basis out of the shop here. Business is booming!!"
    "Have you spoken to the mother at all?" Stacy inquires, "the one whose child was kidnapped?"
    Stacy leans forward perceptively and Greg suddenly knows her tactics. Rumors and gossip spread like wildfire in this small metropolitan city. She probably already knew Greg and Rebecca were now involved. Stacy was looking to paint the larger picture, and broad strokes were being used currently. The finer details would make up quite the romantic scene, Greg suddenly realizes. Everything about Greg and Rebecca seems unique. From the first chance meeting, to the blaze of gunfire, and equally as explosive fucking, Greg was lost in a tale of drama and intrigue.
    "Well, one day I came back to find a note taped to my door," Greg reveals, "and as it turns out, it was written by the mother. She wanted to meet me, to thank me."
    Stacy calls a cut and asks Greg if he can show the letter. Greg digs it out from his desk. Since first reading it, he hasn't even glanced at it a second time.
The pages still are soaked with her fragrance. Greg forgot the joy he felt when first discovering this message. It was the beginning of the greatest love-story he had ever been a part of.
    Greg returns to the showroom, where customers are milled around, mugging for the camera. No one is buying anything, but Greg feels self-important enough to allow them to stay. Rebecca enters as Greg hands the letter to Stacy. Rebecca sees the cameras and stops abruptly. A worried frown crosses her face. She motions for Greg to come over.
    "What's up?" she asks unsurely.
    "nothing, the news crew is doing a follow-up to our story."
    "Our story?" Rebecca says doubtfully, "I don't think--is that the letter I wrote to you?!?!"
    Rebecca's mouth drops open in shock. Stacy is running a finger down the lines of Rebeca's prose. Greg should've recalled Rebecca's resolute desire not to be on-camera.
    "That's private!!" Rebecca snarls, "I don't want that on television. I wrote that for you, not for the fucking nightly news!! Put it away, Greg!!"
    This is the first direct order she has given him, unquestioning and demanding. Greg abides by it. She had exposed herself in that letter. It was a soul-chat, yearning for a connection to another human being. In her mind, she thought he might reject her, after such an offering. But who in their right mind could reject her, Rebecca? And how could he reject her pleas to relinquish the letter?
    "I'm sorry, I need this back," Greg says sternly, "The mother doesn't want this to be filmed."
    Stacy releases the note back to Greg's care. WIthout missing a beat, Stacy pursues. "Is the mother here now???"
"Uh, yeah."
"Would she be willing to do an exclusive interview???"
"No, I don't think she wants to."
"Are you sure? Heh, I know a good story when I hear it. I think we could really be onto something here."
    Greg's sharp mind strikes upon an idea.
"I tell you what," Greg says calmly, "if you're willing to get some shots of my business partners computers, and the sign outside, I'll convince Rebecca to say a few words for the news, okay?"
    Craftily, Stacy shakes his hand and winks. The girl is cute and aggressive. Greg returns to Rebecca. She is on the phone. The camera man is showing her something on a small monitor. Rebecca looks stretched three different ways by worry.
    "I'm on the phone with Amy," Rebecca says, "this camera dude here is trying to convince me to be filmed. Amy is trying to get me to do an interview, too."
    Greg smiles. Sometimes, the moves of the game play out by themselves.
    They are being directed to the front of the building. Greg took them on a brief tour, pointing out the replaced window, the new carpet, the new door. Rebecca does not pipe in at all. She lets Greg have the moment. No use in diminishing his accomplishments by pointing out she paid for most of it all. It added to the appearance of success, and independence. Rebecca wished she had worn a different outfit to be on the news. The kinky top was too showy. Whats worse, when Rebecca was agitated, her nipples hardened. A natural reaction maybe, but embarrassing too.
    Most people think being on the local media is something special. Tell the friends and neighbors, little Rebecca is gonna be on. Rebecca had only bad associations with the carjacking, kidnapping, and robbery. It was a triathlon of torment and agony. Had this been a local story about her being a prom queen, or something, then maybe she would be more enthused to participate.
    But her sensitive mind did not like dwelling on that awful December day. In that horrifying period after the shooting, and before meeting Greg, Rebecca had been paralyzed with fear. She couldn't remember celebrating Christmas, or New Years, or any of those suddenly meaningless holidays. It was only when she wrote that letter that she knew which path to take.
    Greg had healed her scars from that day, so that she didn't think about events endlessly. He had taken control, as she wanted him to do from the day they made each others acquaintance. She felt frail before hooking up with him. Now, she was ripe and healthy, and strong. But to backtrack to everything meant a return to that shattered mentality.
    But she did so, for Greg. He told her about the exposure for Digital Dreams. The pitch was made. She agreed despite her reservations.
    She wears sunglasses during the interview. Her responses are short and to the point. No elaboration.
    "Did you know the man that attacked you?"
    "What were you thinking, when you saw the two men get shot?"
"I was scared for me and my child."
    "Do you regret what happened?"
"I used to. But then I realized that if that never happened, I never would've met Greg."
    "Are you two in a relationship now?"
    "How long?"
"Oh, about a month or so, maybe. Greg?"
    "I'd say its been about 3 weeks, Rebecca."
"It seems longer, we've had so much fun together lately."   
    "Is he a hero?"
"Of course. What kind of question is that, lady?"
    "Well, he did kill--"
"I think I've had enough of this interrogation."
    Stacy digresses, trying to ease the tension. Rebecca is fidgety and complaining. She asks how much longer this will be. Greg rubs her shoulder and whispers convincing words only she can hear. Rebecca only went into detail on one particular question.
    "How do you feel about this man, Greg Jefferson?"
"I love him with all my heart. He's my man. He stood by me when no one else was there, and now it's my turn to repay him. I can spend the rest of my life with him, trying to thank him for all that he sacrificed for me."

    The Digital Dreams sign is in the lower-right third of the frame, a perfect angle that draws the viewers eye to the letters.
    Stacy is less than happy about Rebecca's surly attitude. But, Stacy has one more ace in the hole.
    The cameraman pulls out the same small monitor as before and holds it up for Rebecca and Greg to see. Rebecca removes her glasses and squints, unable to view the picture.
    "Is that--Oh my." Rebecca gasps.
    It is footage of the candle light vigil, the one the firefighter mentioned to Greg. Dozens of soft flames hover in the darkness, lighting up faces like phantoms on a ghost ship. And there. There is Rebecca, standing at the front of the crowd. Julie is in her arms, clutched tightly. Rebecca's candle gutters because it is burned so low. She has evidently been there quite awhile. Greg studies the flickering picture of the interlaced video signal. Rebecca's eye was still swollen to beat hell. But she was still alive, and Julie as well. It is because of Greg that they are there.
    The footage dissolves to that old Chamber of Commerce picture. The solemnity of the moment is contrasted by the bright smile Greg wields in that pic. A face that laughs at death. It is blood-chilling, like watching your own eulogy.
    "Here is the man, Greg Jefferson," Stacy narrates, the tiny speaker on the monitor crackling, "a hero, and savior for daughter and mother. Mr. Jefferson is in critical condition at Iowa City Intensive Care after a tenuous gunbattle. We have unconfirmed reports that he has passed away. There was some chatter in the ambulance which make us believe his heart stopped."
    Rebecca is beside herself with emotion. The tears started at sight of herself holding Julie. Seeing Greg's picture is too much. A waterfall of cries gushes forth. She waves a hand at the crew, sobbing deeply.
    "Just stop!!" Rebecca pleads, "no more, I can't take this again!!"
    She turns away from the crew, and stumbles, nearly falling. Greg catches her, and she weeps uncontrollably into his shoulder. Her uneven breathing makes her near unintelligible. But Greg makes out the gist of most of it.
    "I thought you were going to die. And I had just met you. And I didn't know your name, and you saved us. And there was nothing I could do, Greg. After everything you did for me and Ju-Ju, and I couldn't do anything but pray."
    Stacy is eating it up. The cameraman has shot this whole escapade from start to finish. It's the money shot, and both newspeople know it.

Uploaded 07/07/2012
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