Pawn Takes King Part 18

Jessie drops beside Donny, shaking the thin metal of the bench. The wooden planks on the seat creaked.
    "You look sick, son," Jessie says in a rough voice. Donny can feel Jessie's hard stare, and looks away. Donny realizes he cannot defend himself if he is attacked. Jessie's name sends up alarms in Donny's head. Officer Buresh had talked about a thief named Jessie. Small world. This shady character resembled such a figure.
    "It don't look like Vicks Vapor-rub is gonna cure you."  Jessie says, cackling loudly as he fishes out a smoke from his jacket. Donny could tell this guy sensed the lack of drug in Donny's body. Jessie has been around the block once or twice, and it looks as though he was dragged behind a vehicle while making the trip. The jacket may've been pristine at one time, but now it was covered in scrapes and scratches. Donny wonders if it was a mistake to summon this thug. But, Donny had little choice in the matter now. Being too sick to run away, Donny goes along with Jessie's inquiries.
    "Yeah, that's right," Donny croaks, "OC would help me just fine, though."
    Jessie flicks his Bic, the flame lighting up his grey eyes like an escaped demon from Hell. Jessie's cadaverous cheeks blaze orange in the dark city night. A zombie could not appear more forbidding, or as unhealthy.
    Jessie pulls something else from his pocket. It is a ziplock baggie with several pills. Donny's heart thuds in his chest. His medicine is within reach.
    "It's 30 for a 20, and 60 for a 40. I've got one 80, but that's 100." Donny says, sounding somehow like an auctioneer speaking fast.
    "I'll pay a dollar per milli, nothing more," Donny bluffs. He doesn't even have any money on his person. Withdrawel or not, Donny doesn't like to be ripped off. Street value was a dollar per milligram of Oxy. But Donny is so fiending for a fix, he may try to bolt once the pill is in his hand.
    "You don't look to be in a good spot to negotiate," Jessie says, taking another drag. His eyes are playful, yet cruel. He knows he has leverage over Donny.
    Rubbing his sore eyes, Donny is flooded by a peculiar thought. What if he just quit? No longer would rogues like this douche bag have power over him. It is a peculiar thought because it is so uncomplicated. Donny feels a strength as he pictures himself off all pills. His languid body protests against this idea, but Donny comes back to answer.
    "Fuck it anyway," Donny says, "I don't even have any money. Unless you want to front it, you might as well just go away."
    suddenly, Donny wishes Jessie really would up and leave. It is not a negotiating tactic. Life had descended enough for Donny. He didn't want to be dragged down further by infamous guys. Let him suffer alone.
    Jessie looks off into the brick walkways of the ped mall. His hand covers the lower half of his face as he puffs deeply. A thought is trying to emerge inside Jessie's noggin.
    "I tell you what," Jessie says, with unexpected cheer, "I'll give you a 40. But it ain't free."
    Donny's mouth waters, as if a steak dinner were being offered, instead of what really was up for grabs. Donny wants to know the terms, though.
    "What's the deal?" Donny asks suspiciously.
    "All you have to do," Jessie says, throwing an arm around the bench, and Donny's shoulder, "is help me get even more Oxy."
    Donny wasn't told much. Jessie gave him the pill and Donny was indebted to him. He broke it into forths, crushed it, and inhaled it through his nostril. Jessie made a call on the payphone and said they needed to wait around til Jessie's ride came by. Donny was just fine and dandy. He was well now. Life was peachy. His appetite returned and Donny convinced Jessie to buy him a cheap sandwich. Jessie begrudgingly did so, but said he would take it out of their earnings.
    "What kind of earnings?" Donny says, through a mouthful of burger.
    "All you gotta do is keep watch," Jessie says irritably, "and I'll take care of the rest."
    Donny's dread steadily climbs as they wait. Donny wants to amscray, but Jessie had him in his pocket now. There was no way Donny could've turned down the drugs once he saw them. It was a physical need. His brain was dependent on the terrible substance. And now, Jessie was depending on Donny.
    As the car finally pulls up to the curbside, Donny wonders if officer Buresh will group Donny together with jessie as a no-good hooligan. Donny was hearing more and more tales of Buresh's kindness, from firsthand accounts of homeless drifters. Donny has never sought the respect of a cop before, but Buresh was an alright guy.  If they were chased by police, hopefully Buresh was off-duty.
    The driver was a chunky Mexican with a skull cap, chinos, and a red and black flannel shirt with only the top buttoned. The Mexican looks even more viscous than Jessie, and offers only a gruff noise as he hands the keys off. Jessie hops in the driver seat of the Ford LTD, and fires up the engine. Donny warily watches the Mexican walk away in short, jabbing paces. Donny had a bad feeling about this.
    "Who was that guy?" Donny asks, "and why did he give you this car?"
    "That's one of my posse," Jessie says, with pride, as he guns the engine, "I'm making this job tonight as part of my initiation."
    Donny's blood turns frigid in his vessels. To be part of a gang, you had to commit a crime. NOt being from the hood, Donny made this assumption based on various gang movies and TV documentaries. This was no primetime show, though.
    "We learned this local pharmacy has weekly deposits of Oxy made," jessie says, as he swerves around a vehicle and accelerates, "its a mom and pop kinda setup. They ain't got shit for security. So, I'm gonna run in, stick em up, and we take 'em for all they got."
    Donny feels unease at the mention of "we".
    "I'm just the lookout, though," Donny says unruly, "right?"
    Jessie turns his head towards him, giving an icy stare. Donny turns toward the window. The glass is cracked severely, to the point where it obscures the passenger side window. They might get pulled over for such a blind spot. Donny hopes for once that a cop will take notice to them. But fate seems to operate on opposites, and Donny does not get what he desires.
    "I don't do robberies," Donny says.
"That's not what I hear," Jessie says with a coy smile, "Smokey would be quite interested to know where you're at."
    It was a thinly-veiled threat. They both knew the same people. Donny was being pinched. If he didn't help jessie steal, there went his Oxy connection, and danger of being ratted out to Smokey. Jessie is more cunning that Donny originally believed.
    Jessie slowly idles by the store.
    "You see that armored car?" Jessie points out, "you've probably got all the Oxy fiends in the city watching that thing. It might as well be hauling cash."
    Donny feels a twinge of fretfulness as he realizes  he shares a camaraderie with the throngs of addicts. Most people were not addicted to hard drugs. But there was alcohol, and cigarettes, and other methods of addiction.
    "Hey!!" jessie shouts, slugging Donnie's shoulder. Donny had been daydreaming. The Oxy made everything sluggish and slowed him down to a crawl. Jessie hands him a pair of sunglasses and a baggy green hoodie. Jessie removes his sheepskin collared jacket and replaces it with a blue Adidas windbreaker. Jessie dons a baseball hat and another pair of shades. They exit the vehicle and go towards the trunk. Jessie takes out a pair of bolt cutters from the rear. They wait until the armored car drives away. It is a rental outfit, and doesn't seem too secure. Jessie, like most thieves, prefers the path of least resistance. Knocking over an old man would be easier than trying to hijack an armored van.
    Donnie knew the pharmacy ambiguously as a kid. It was a local staple in Iowa City, part soda fountain, part pharmacy. The owner had been operating when Donny and Ronald had eaten there years ago. When Ronald died, so did Donny's sense of decency, apparently. Donnie can see through the security mesh that blocks the front picture window. The old-school soda fountains reflecting their golden glow in the streetlights. They were vintage, and the owner kept them maintained during decades of business. Donnie spies black and white photos showing young servers in paper hats, and striped vests. They hang on the walls, oblivious to the crime that is about to commence in their establishment.
    "So, the old man is usually in the back, taking stock," Jessie explains, "my crew lives in CR, but they want to hit this place down in Iowa City. They don't like to shit where they eat, know what I mean?"
    Donny nods blankly. He sees a light on in the back of the store, with a shifting shadow that is projected onto the wall. They were going to rob an old man.
Before Donny can voice any objections, Jessie steps forward, the bolt cutters gripped in his claw-like hands. Donny intakes a breath sharply, but follows.
    Jessie hunkers down to the bottom skirt of the security mesh. The jaws of the cutter bite down on the padlock. A brief exertion on the handles of the bolt cutter snap the lock easily. Jessie quickly removes the snapped pieces of the lock and hurls the security mesh upward, with a loud rattle. Jessie tries the front door and it is locked. The shadow on the wall pauses. The distorted head of the silhouette tilts towards the commotion at the front.
    Jessie wails on the front door, using the bolt cutters like a baseball bat. After 10 forceful whacks, the sheet of glass lining the window can be peeled back. Jessie does so, both breaking and entering at the same time. Donny turns toward the street, fulfilling his lookout job. It is hard to see much of anything in the night while wearing those shades. Donny's ears are unencumbered though, and Donnie hears the struggle. Donny glances back and sees it is indeed the old proprietor of the establishment. Such a pity.
    "What???" the old man cries out, the shadow flitting wildly "get outta here!! What do you think you're doing???"
    Jessie says nothing, but speaks with his fists. Donny cringes as he hears the blows rain down. The meaty punches strike the owner audibly. The old man cries out. A table is overturned. Metal stools clang on the ground noisily. No cars pass by. Jessie's assault plays out undetected. Donny turns his head and sees Jessie's finishing move. With an angry grunt, Jessie swings the bolt cutters again, this time overhead, like an ax. The old man is prone on the ground, holding up his hands in a defensive gesture. The bolt cutter connects with the owner's arm, which folds unnaturally 90 degrees the wrong way. The brittle snapping sound makes Donny vomit in the back of his mouth. He swallows the sour puke, feeling dizzy. He can't afford to waste any meal, even if he is shocked.
    The old man groans, almost in tears, with his remaining good arm draping his face to ward off any further injury.
    "Where's the pills?" Jessie barks, "where's the Oxy???"
    The old man whimpers a response that indicates a direction. Jessie rushes through the store, glass crinkling beneath his feet. When Jessie emerges, he shuffles forward, arms full of cardboard boxes brimming with pill bottles.
    Donny will go to hell when he dies. He is sure of this, as they pile into the car. His only hope is that there is no heaven and hell in the first place. Jessie is a maniac. Only a crazy person would wear that smile he currently has plastered on his face. Jessie peels out, laying fresh stripes of rubber on the pavement. The LTD barrels through the deserted streets.  It was 1am. The bars were packed, but no one was on the streets. Once the drinking was cut off at 2am, there would be plenty of belligerent drunks milling about. They were in the clear.

Uploaded 10/29/2012
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