crook Takes Pawn part 91

    With every piece of miscellaneous item he sold, Greg felt like he was cutting away weight from his old life. He doubted if would continue to buy crap from people, trying to resell it for a meager profit. Greg had already turned down 3 offers for pawning. One was over a TV, another for a set of golf clubs, and the last was an unimpressive music keyboard.
    Greg was tired of fiddling with crap. Trying to figure out if someone was conning him was a beleaguered job. Not to mention that many times a seller would actively hide a pawned goods faults from Greg. Computers were like selling diamonds compared to peddling junk and gadgets. He might have to repaint the sign outside. It was the Pawn and Payday no longer.
    A few college kids picked through his remaining wares. They bought several Game Boy games from Greg's scratched and nicked glass counter. Donnie kept texting Greg. Gus was now set to take over the YMCA apartment. Ben and Gus were now having a meeting with the head honchos at the Y, to sort everything out. Donny had moved into the Digital Dreams loft. Donny had nothing but a mattress to move. Donnie rescinded all his possessions to Gus, who readily accepted them. It wasn't much more than a television (and an old one at that), a dresser, and a radio. Donnie wasn't exactly Buddha, but he certainly wasn't suffering from materialism. Also, Donnie didn't meditate, unless getting baked qualified as such.
    Greg did not sell any computers that day. One morbidly obese man bought a lava lamp from Greg's diminished remaining stock. The man looked reclusive. It took one to know one. Greg recognized the signs. The pale skin. The furtive energy behind every phrase. This guy must put a lot of thought into whatever he has to say. Greg does his best to interact with this fellow.
    "I like lava lamps," the large man says, "black lights, too. My apartment is full of them."
    "Cool," Greg responds, "I'm sure you'll enjoy this, then."
    "Yeah, it's great," he says, shaking his head in the affirmative. The jowls around the guys neck wiggle sickeningly. Compared to this fellow, Gregs bulbous frame is diminished. Oh well, everyone has to live. And the guy bought something, so Greg accommodates him. The man is desperate for attention. He stays until closing, almost an hour. Greg becomes antsy, but then drudges up an image of this dude alone in his place, surrounded by lava lamps and black lights, but no other humans.
    The man says he will definitely be a repeat customer, as he gathers up his cellophane sack containing the lamp. Greg flips off all the switches to the place, except the front outside door light. The big man waddles off as Greg twists the locks shut. Greg watches the obese figure struggle into his pickup, and feels sympathy. He also feels grateful to have someone to come home to at the end of the night, especially a hottie like Rebecca. When Greg drives the Nissan back to Rebecca's, he pauses outside her home. Rebecca is stooped over her flowerbed, trimming and weeding. Greg quietly walks up behind her and simply studies her for several minutes. She turns to grab her mini trowel and sees him. She smiles, her accustomary greeting to him.
    "Hey you," she says.
    "Hello," he says. She stands up, dusting the dirt off her shorts. Greg hugs her tightly. She doesn't pull away, even after an extended period of standing there, enveloping each other.
    "What's got into you?" she asks.
    "Nothing," he says, "I'm just a lucky guy, that's all. The luckiest in the world."

    Greg and Donnie spent that Saturday cleaning out the storage shed Greg had kept afloat through dire finances. It all had to be done. Once Greg had sifted through this catalogue of junk, he might simply cancel the monthly agreement on the shed. It was one less expense he wouldn't need.
    They made three piles: a good-will pile, a trash pile, and a keeper pile. Most everything went to the trash. Greg's dad George had been a pack rat. Like the Pawn and Payday, nothing was in order, nothing made logical sense. More moldy newspapers. A sorry-looking harpsichord that sounded even sorrier when one tried to play it. Snow shovels. 3 sets of car ramps. Christmas ornaments. The sheer multitude of crap was unbelievable. How could so much be crammed in such a tiny space? It seemed to defy modern physics.
    Donny was working for $20. It was a flat rate, and he wasn't complaining. Anything Donny could scrape together would go far.
    Donnie moved a large oak entertainment center by pushing the bottom of it along the gritty floor. He twisted it away from the last back corner of the garage, and was startled to say the least at what he found.
    "You know you have a car in here?" Donnie says, bewildered.
    Greg was kneeled beside another of George's old shoeboxes, and rose to his feet quickly. Once beside Donnie, it was confirmed: there was a vehicle under a tarp. Only the front passenger side headlight peeked out from underneath the car cover, like a child under the covers. Greg pulled off the tarp. Greg didn't know shit about automobiles. It was Donnie that pointed out it was a Chevy caprice classic, from the '70s, by the looks of it. It was a convertible, with a black soft-top, and baby blue paint. Greg's ecstatic expression gleamed in the reflection of the fender. He looked like a happy papa smurf.
    "Where are the keys?!?!" Donnie asks excitedly, "let's fire this baby up!!"
    After a brief search, the ignition key was found in the center ashtray.
    "I wanna be the one to start it up," Greg says, "scoot over, Donnie."
But it wouldn't even crank. There was only a brief rattle, as if the car was clearing it's throat, then nothing.
    "It's been sitting awhile, I bet," Donnie says, "probably needs a new battery."
    Greg had only intended their cleaning excursion to last 2 hours or so, but they ended up working on the car until nightfall. Rebecca kept texting him, asking when he would come back home, she was lonely. After replacing the battery, it still wouldn't fire up. It turns out the battery cables that connected the terminals were almost disintegrated. Another trip back to the auto parts store. Another failed attempt to start, but this time the engine turned over at least. The clerk at the auto store looked mildly amused to see these men shuffle back in time and time again. The clerk suggested a new set of spark plugs. The Caprice was a huge boat of a car, with a V8 engine. So, once the 8 plugs were properly fitted in the car, Greg anxiously turned it over once more.
    The car shuttered like an epileptic fit. The muffler backfired, making their ears ring. A faint cloud of carbon accompanied the exhaust's noise. But on the next crank, the car fired to life. It ran for only about 30 seconds before it died. But it was still enough cause for celebration.
    "Just one more thing we need from the auto parts place," Donnie says. Greg takes yet another jaunt over to the same store. Donnie buys a length of clear plastic hose with his own money. When they get back, Donnie explains his theory.
    "My dad once bought a car that sit for awhile," he says, feeding the clear tube into the gas tank, "gas can go bad after about 90 days of sitting in a gas tank. So, we need to siphon it out."
    Donnie sucks on the opposite end of the hose, until the gas curls around the top of the hose, and down with gravity. The suction of the flowing fuel takes care of the rest, but not before Donnie gets a sudden spray of gas in his mouth. He chokes and gags, spitting continuously while Greg laughs his fool head off. Greg catches the overrun in a glass container. It would be dangerous to allow gasoline to spill on the cement.
    Before they call it a night, they fill up the car with a portable refillable gas can. This time the car runs and stays on. Greg pumps the gas pedal before he cranks it, to give the carburetor a little help. This time the car starts and stays running. The exhaust has a cobalt blue tint to the smoke.
    "I think it needs an oil change, too," Donny says over the monstrous V8 engine, "that's why it's so smokey."
    Greg high fives his fellow amateur mechanic. No too much got cleaned, but the car takes up about 3/4s of the whole garage. Had Greg bothered to clean out this stall anytime in the past months or years, the car would've been uncovered much sooner. But many things Greg had procrastinated on before that he intended to rectify now. He planned to give the car to Diane.

Uploaded 07/20/2012
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