Crook Takes Pawn Part 99

Greg returned to Rebecca. Amy was gone. Rebecca seemed to be in a sour mood. She read a newspaper, whipping the pages as she progressed.
    "The stores fine," Greg comments. Rebecca hums an acknowledgement.
    "Did Amy give you a hard time about the van?" Greg inquires, "about giving it away, I mean?"
    "Something like that." Rebecca says lowly. She is pissed.
    "Thank you for doing that," Greg says, "It's the only reason Diane forgave me."
    "Who said she forgave you?" Rebecca asks bitterly, "she was just happy to get a new vehicle. Once we're gone, she'll probably start up with a bunch of new bullshit. And you can't just drop everything and go see Raymond--"
    "Everyone else gets what they want, but not Rebecca. Oh, no, that's too much to ask."
    "What do you want? You want a child? Is that it?"
    Rebecca says nothing. After a brief time, she tosses a plastic stick onto the table. It is a pregnancy test. Greg stares at the single blue line. It is like hieroglyphics to him. It is suddenly very important that he decipher this.
    "Is this--" Greg says blankly.
    "I'm not pregnant," Rebecca says. Greg's shoulders fall in relief, before he can think to hide his reaction. Rebecca sighs deeply.
    "We've already got a kid," Greg says, "Julie. If you want me to be a father with you, then let me become Julie's second legal guardian. That seems like a big step, to me, but one I can handle."
    "You'd do that for us?" Rebecca asks.
    "Sure. You know it, honey." Greg says.
    Rebecca's stern face dissolves very slowly. She is her old self again in a few minutes, like Jekyl and Hyde. A compromise has been made, and Rebecca's wrath has been avoided. IT is fortunate too, because Rebecca was ready to call couch-duty for Greg, denying him their bed. It didn't seem like proportional response, but it would've been utilized by Rebecca anyway, to steer Greg's decisions. She had given Greg many things, and it was time to get something for herself. Even so, her baby dreams were quelled for now.

    Life's mechanics are a strange thing. People interact like circuits and diodes, one chain reaction leaping to another. When Greg left, it was like the flow of fate's machine was interrupted. Donny had accomplished so much while Greg was gone. Perhaps fate was having technical difficulties, on standby. But when Greg returned, like a part in a series of systems, everything resumed its previous natural order. Chain reaction.
    Greg was awoken by his cell phone. It was 1:20am. Rebecca jumps from her sleep, startled by the ringing. Greg usually puts it on vibrate before bed, but he was too tired to go through the hassle.
    "Hello?" Greg asks groggily. The sound of sirens squeals through the phone. Greg pulls the phone away from his ear and winces. He fumbles with the volume on the cell, and turns it way down.
    "Greg?" A hesitant Ben asks, "listen, you need to head down to Digital Dreams. Somethings happened."
    "What?" Greg asks, with sudden stark terror leaping into his veins. Greg is no longer asleep.
    "Just come down," Ben repeats, "I'll explain when you get here."
    Greg takes the Nissan. Rebecca is back home, huddled on the couch and holding Julie. Greg laments as he drives the car to Digital Dreams.
    "What did you do, Donnie?" Greg says sickly, "What the fuck did you bring about now?"
    Greg has to park a block away. The cops have cordoned off the area. Greg walks perpendicular to the sawhorses, and sneaks around. Eventually, he makes his way to the front of the shop. Greg recognizes the black van. It stops him in his tracks. The large vehicle is crashed into a lamp post. The shining metallic grill is cracked. Steam issues from the crumpled hood in a non-stop cloud. Greg's green eyes run along the length of the van. The rear driver-side tire is shredded, the fender is marked with several tiny holes. Rear van doors hang open like a gaping maw. Greg sees one of Ben's computers in pieces on the road. The case had tumbled through the air, flinging metal and plastic to all directions.
    An asian man dressed in black was being attended to by an EMT. It must be the driver of the van. The man's ski mask is  pushed back onto the crown of his forehead, revealing his features, which are jagged and severe. His face twists with pain, and there is a deep cut across his forehead. His face has turned almost completely crimson on one side. The man's hands are cuffed, but he writhes in agony as the EMT cuts away his pant leg. Greg sees white bone sticking from the guys shin and feels like he will suddenly upchuck. Like the van's rear, the leg is torn up with several small holes.
    Greg gets closer, until a length of police tape impedes him. The front entrance has been obliterated. Greg sees the heavy steel doors laying down across the length of steps. The lock held, and the two doors remained together, with an iron-like kiss. It was the hinges that gave. Greg sees the scuffed and scratched stairs where the door was drug a short ways. The van had evidently hooked up a chain and floored it, to gain entry.
    One of the officers on scene walks out of the shattered front doors.  He carries a black shotgun in his hands. The cop wears gloves, to prevent fingerprints, and so Greg understands it is the weapon responsible for all of this. Where is Donnie? Is he still alive?
    Greg stands there, squinting against the circling cop sirens. Everything flashes from blue to red repeatedly, making it hard to make much of anything out. The next body to leave is covered in a sheet, on a gurney. The blue hits the sheet just so, accenting the dark red stain that is soaked into the sheet. A head wound, no doubt, and a fatal one at that.
    "oh no, Donnie," Greg says chokingly. It's him, is Greg's first thought. Donnies misfortune had always been vast. Being alive might've been seen as a sign of providence for Donnie, but he could never expect to prosper. Now he was dead.
    Then Donnie is lead out by yet another cop. He is pale, and frightened. Greg feels his heart drop into his stomach. This was gonna give him an aneurysm if this stress continued. Thankfully, Donnie appears alright. The officer points over to the ambulance, and Donnie nods. Donnie walks over to the medical bus as if in a stupor.
    "DONNIE!!" Greg shouts. Donnie jumps at his own name. A blanket has been draped around Donnie's shoulders, and he now clutches it like a scared child does to a binky. With heavy steps, Donnie comes over.
    "Greg!!" Ben shouts hoarsely. He runs right into Greg's back as he is turning around. Greg nearly tumbles, but steadies himself.
    "What's going on here?!?!" Greg says shakily, "I know we were robbed, but what in the blue hell happened?!?!"
    "I was wondering that myself," Ben says without emotion. They both turn to Donnie. The former bums eyes are distant.
    "I came back late," Donnie says softly, "and I was almost asleep when I heard them ripping the door off it's frame. It took them 3 good tries to do it."
    Donnie turns and gestures to the crippled van.
    "They were loading up all the computers in the back there, so I got out the shotgun--"
    "Where the hell did you get a shotgun?!?!" Greg asks, shocked.
    "I bought it," Donnie replies sharply.
    "I gave him his first commission check," Ben says heavily, "2 weeks ago. He even had a 5 day waiting period. He bought the gun, and was using it for target practice."
    "Clay pigeons," Donnie says distractedly.
    "But don't you have a record?" Greg asks, "I thought crooks couldn't get guns."
    "No, Greg," Donnie says with a dark look, "felons can't get guns. I'm not a felon. And I'm not a crook. Not anymore."
    "So, what are you then?" Ben asks incredulously, "a fucking sherrif, cleaning up the streets?!?! Look at my place, Donnie!!"
    "It's not my fault," Donnie pleads, "I'm sorry about your store, Ben. Really. But it wasn't my fault. I was defending myself!!"
    Donnie waves his blanketed arm at the ruined building.
    "They did it, not me," Donnie says, lowering his head, "Not me."
    An officer takes Donnie by the shoulder and leads him towards a cop car.
    "We need to ask you a few questions, son." the cop says. Donnie turns towards them as he's lead away.
    "Check the survelience tapes!!" Donnie shouts.
    Greg turns towards Ben. "I recognize that van," Greg states.
    "What?" Ben asks, "From where?"
    "That was the same van I saw when I was robbed for the first time at my store."
    Ben's eyebrows raise in startled disbelief. "First time? What do you mean, first time, Greg? That's not the only time you've had a break-in???"
    Oh boy, here we go, Greg thinks to himself.


Uploaded 07/28/2012
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