Pawn Takes King Part 11

    Donnie supersized his meal. It was a lavish expense for Donnie, but he might not be here come tomorrow. Donnie figured he might as well enjoy whatever he could, while he could.
    Donnie told Greg about himself as he munched on his gargantuan packet of fries. Donnie's dad had been a blue-collar worker. Untold hours had been spent by Donnie's dad between the factory walls. HIs name was Ronald. Ronald and Donald. Ronnie and Donnie. They had been quite the pair, two of a kind. Ronald was a maintenance supervisor for all the CNC equipment. That's Computer Numeric Control, for the uninitiated. Donnie got into computers because Ronald was into them. At home, Ronald always upgraded his desktop computer whenever there was a major leap in the operating systems.
    Ronald was a heavy smoker. For some reason, repair and addictive personalities went together. Perhaps it was because the troubleshooting necessary and all that stress need a release. Ronald always relayed to Donnie about the tough times. When people were waiting for him to figure out what the issue was, before they could continue on their job. Of course, the operator wasn't too concerned. It was one less machine he had to use. But the plant manager was very concerned. The supervisors trained the new hires on several machines though, to pick up the slack. Still, whenever there was down time, all eyes were on Ronald to make it right. Ronald once told his son that there was nothing better in the world than having a nice long smoke after completing an arduous task.
    Donnie took note of his dads words. Perhaps the seeds of addiction were sown right there. Or, maybe it really was a gene that passed from father to son. In any case, Donnie turned to drugs when Ronald died.
    Cancer. It raced through his lungs and ate up Donnie's father like an orange, leaving the whitened rind behind. The only thing to disappear faster was the life savings Ronald had accumulated through his retirement fund. Ronald had a zest for life, and always believed he would emerge victorious from the disease. His optimism did not match the pace of the progression of the cancer. Within a year of being diagnosed with late stage emphysema and tumors, Ronald was in a casket. Donnie was shocked at how fast his whole fucking life blew to pieces. He was now fatherless, his mother a widow. Ronald had a life insurance policy, but only enough equity was paid into it to pay for the funeral service.
    Donnie was 15 when his father was buried. Donnie memorized the way his father looked in the coffin. Ronald was far too skinny, the bones more noticeable than his usual weight revealed. Ronald was not a person anymore, father, or otherwise. He was now an object. lifeless. Soulless.
    As Ronald was lowered into the grave, Donnie was in shock. Ronnie would never eat another meal, or pass one of his atrocious farts that made Donnie gag. Ronnies digestive system was now embalmed, or removed. Donnie wasn't sure how they did it. He cried. Relatives he did not know tried to comfort Donnie and he was inconsolable. Ronald's hands were stiff and cold. Yet, those very hands had split open the guts of countless machines. The fingers had dug into intricate wiring and circuit boards. Now they were useless. Ronald would stay in the ground, but he would not rot. That embalming fluid would preserve him like a modern day pharaoh.
    Donnie cried all that day. In some ways, he never stopped crying, at least not inside. Life had flipped backward and crushed poor Donald Grieves. Nothing was good after that. Donnie had never really been terribly confidant with the girls, and after the death of Ronald, he withdrew from the arena of dating altogether. He fell in with the skater crowd, but only did so for the drugs they were submerged in. Weed was a huge relief for Donnie. It numbed him to the point where he could deal with it all. High school was a huge bong haze for Donnie. He was smart, but didn't really apply himself. With minimal effort, Donnie graduated. With even less effort he was enrolled in the community college in Cedar Rapids.
    Donnie didn't even go to the prom. He lost his virginity somewhere along the way, but it was during one of the many parties with the skaters, and details were sketchy. It was consensual, but drugs and liquor seeped through the experience.
    There was more, but that was the furthest Donnie dared go. Greg just sat back and said nothing at all really. Donnie could tell Greg still wanted to know how Donnie got homeless exactly, but no questions regarding that are thrown Donnie's way. Perhaps Greg didn't want to reveal all aspects of his life, either. There is still a gold band on Greg's finger, despite his divorce.
    "Why do you still wear your wedding ring?" Donnie asks.
    "Oh this? I had this theory that women only want guys that already are in relationships. And if a guy's married, that must be the ultimate, then."
    "Does the theory hold up?" Donnie asks, with genuine curiosity.
    "Not for a fat man, it doesn't," Greg chuckles, "maybe if I was halfway decent-looking, it might prove effective. But results show anything but success."
    Donnie liked Greg's self-effacing humor. It matched Donnie's own.

Uploaded 10/10/2012
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