crook Takes Pawn part 90

    Greg knocked on Ben's front door. His house was a modest 2 story domicile. The paint was a dark red, like a fire engine's chassis. Their lawn was neat and tidy, with grass trim against their metal chain-link fence surrounding the border to their property. Greg supposed it was clean because they had no kids to contend with. No toys or childrens bikes were anywhere to be seen. Greg hoped that would change with their continued success. Ben would make a good father.
    Michelle answered. "Greg." she says. Her greeting comes across as frosty. "Ben's taking a nap upstairs, I can go wake him."
    she ascends the staircase to the second floor. Greg notices there is no carpet on the stairs. Michelle's steps bound loudly with the bare wood. Greg glances around. The home is nice, but it is missing something. Nothing is finished. Here, a half-painted wall. There, a stack of boxes labeled "Electronics". Ben may keep his business clean, but this house is in a state of disarray. Surely the stress of foreclosure has put much of their remodeling on the back-burner.
    Greg hears a mumbled conversation from above. The reason he came here was to collect the commission. The trip to California was only a few days away. Greg needed to get things squared.
    Michelle returns. "He's getting dressed," she mutters. Her grey eyes look perturbed.
    "is something wrong, Michelle?" Greg asks innocently. She turns and glares at him, in her hateful womanly way. After a searing pause, she speaks.
    "Now that you bring it up," Michelle says coldly, "I think it's messed up that you got Ben high, to influence his decisions."
    Greg laughs. He can't help it. Was she serious?
    "It's not funny," Michelle snaps, "you know how naive Ben is, and how much of a push-over he is."
    "I'm not getting into this with you, Michelle," Greg says flatly, "Ben came up with the rate, not me. And if you ask me, he seems to function better when he's relaxed."
    "Nice negotiating tactic," Michelle says sarcastically, "I guess it's easier to control a pot-head."
    "Stop it, Michelle," Ben says. She and Greg collectively look up at Ben, who is at the head of the stairs. He wears a pair of stylish plaid golf shorts, and a Pink Floyd T-shirt. In the picture on the tee, two business men are shaking hands, and one is engulfed in flames. Greg hoped this was not foreshadowing he and Ben's business relationship.
    Ben shuffles down the steps and exchanges a look with Michelle. Although no words are spoken, Greg knows they will have more to say later, when there was no company around. For now, Michelle wanders off into the kitchen.
    "I'm sorry for that, Greg," Ben says apologetically, "she is out of line."
    "As long as you know I'm not trying to cheat you," Greg says plainly, "then that's all that matters.

    On the way over to the bank, Ben divulges some insight into his and Michelle's relationship.
    "Every couple has a power struggle," Ben says musingly, "one tries to dominate the other, always having this one-upmansmanship. It's a constant thing."
    "I fight with Rebecca, too," Greg reveals, "all couples do."
    "Some fight more than others," Ben says with a trace of sadness, "lately it seems like it's all the time."
    A brief interlude of silence follows this. Greg is driving the Nissan, and the car navigates a hump in the road, making them hop in their seats a bit.
    "What do you guys fight about?" Ben asks softly.
    Greg is at the turn to the main drag of Iowa City. The cars signal ticks, like his brain. He gives pause and tries to sum up what the arguments with Rebecca were really about.
    "Well," Greg says, as the red light continues to bar his progress, "In all honesty, our first fight was because we were gonna screw, and I didn't have a rubber with me."
    Ben smiles and looks puzzled. "really? That's not too serious. Especially if she was so eager to hook up with you."
    "She got pissed and started laying into me, and I said something like, 'all you do is go to school and learn the alphabet' or something like that."
    Ben laughs and claps his hands together. Knowing Rebecca like Ben does now, he is amazed Greg is still standing after making a comment like that to her.
    "Then, our second big fight was because she wanted to install the glass in my shop without telling me."
    Ben looks even more confused now. "Are you kidding me, Greg? Those don't really sound like fights to me. Just sounds to me like you're messed up in the head, dude."
    Greg shakes his head vehemently. The light turns and he must get into traffic before he can respond.
    "I explained to her about my son, and how I gave him up," Greg explains, "and I couldn't accept her gifts knowing that I was so self-centered."
    "But you still got the glass installed," Ben mentions.
    "Well yeah," Greg says, "but I addressed why I felt like I did, and we got past it."
    "I'm trying to take control of my marriage," Ben blurts out, "I don't want her controlling me. She's all about money. If I can handle the cash, she won't have any sayso."

    Greg is silent as Ben continues to speak. Ben and Michelle had a fight once they got home from Rebecca's party. But Ben asserted his dominance. He grabbed Michelle's wrists because she was slapping him. He held her tightly against him, and told her the way it was gonna be. She turned away to walk back to the bedroom, but he grabbed her and bent her over the table. He slipped her panties off and pulled up her dress. She was already dripping. Women can say they are not aroused, while in reality, a river is flowing. The pussy is the true lie-detector. Dry for lies, and damp for a champ.
    Greg hears this and realizes the shallowness of Ben's marriage. Ben said it himself: Michelle only gave out her vagina when Ben started making sales again. Greg does not dare voice any of this. But inwardly, he celebrates at how much more simple, and deeper Rebecca's love was.
    Ben's bank is the same as Greg's. Ben withdraws Greg's share: $1000. Ben Franklin and his 9 twin brothers looks out at Greg with green, dull eyes. It is not the money itself that makes Greg happy, but the notion that this could be a way to pave a new path towards Raymond's reunion.
    Pam, the same loan officer that Greg has been dealing with, watches the fat guy count out his dough. As an afterthought, Greg makes his monthly small business loan payment. Now that his debt has been cut right down the middle, his minimum payment is now much lower. The payment also cuts down more of the principle, because the interest is not jacked up by the size of that loan.
    In terms of money, Greg was ahead. But more importantly, his soul felt recharged as well. The two men left the bank feeling like VIPs.

Uploaded 07/19/2012
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