Pawn Takes King, Part 4

Donnie's life could be measured in popcans. The deposit was 5 cents apiece. So, when Donnie bought something, it could be determined how many popcans added up. A dollar cheeseburger was over twenty cans, if you included the tax. Donnie didn't actively hunt for them. He merely picked them up if he caught sight of them while walking. There was a time when Donnie first became homeless that he would strive to hunt them. Currently, Donnie had no major motivation to excel. Life was wearing him down fast. Like the squealer indicators on the brakepads of a car, Donnie was worn down to a nub. Judging by the clanking of the pop cans in the bag, Donnie figured he might have $5 worth of merchandise to cash in. It was enough for a nickel bag of swag. Donnie cast his eyes to the pavement as he progressed through the streets. He could feel people studying him, perhaps even mocking him. But he kept to himself. The incredible invisible bum. If only. The can redemption smelled nauseatingly of a mixture of countless alcoholic flavors. It wafted like an expired fruity drink, like a wine cooler gone bad maybe. Donnie didn't mind. He came to associate the smell with getting paid. The owner didn't look too much further from the poorhouse than Donnie himself. But at least the proprietor had a roof above his head, and a means to provide. "Hello Donnie," The owner greeted. He was a hefty fellow, and always wore the same pair of blue and white striped overalls. His name, "Larry" was sewn into one of his suspenders. The overalls, and white shirt that Matt wore was grimed yellow with sweat over time. But hey, who was Donnie to complain about appearance???
Donnie collected the reward from his can scrounging. It totaled to just over 7 dollars. Now, to find his dealer. When he still had a job and ongoing education, Donnie had bought weed steadily from his guy. For over 2 years they had weekly transactions. Donnie became so well known to his dealer that they even traded weed on barter sometimes. Donnie once gave him a stereo for a quarter of fine green. But Donnie no longer had any possessions to part with. He just hoped his dealer would be lenient on the price for old-times sake. Being three bucks short on a dime bag meant Donnie needed more generosity today. Donnie walked more miles to find his weed man. His femur began to hurt again, a dull ache that throbbed in the epicenter of his bone. Donny knocks on the door of the squatted, run-down house. A black man with dyed blonde dreadlocks opens the rickety door. "hey, Donny!!" The man greets. "Hey, Eugene," Donnie says. "Your fly is open, Donnie," Eugene says, stepping away from the doorway. The fly cannot be closed because of the broken zipper. Donnie follows, closing the door behind him. Eugene wears a white t-shirt that resembles the Adidas logo. On this particular design, however, there is a pot plant behind the words reading "Addicted". Eugene picks the Angry Birds sweatpants out of the crack of his ass as he sits down. The red birds cackle at Donnie silently. "Haven't seen you around for awhile, bro," Eugene says absently over his shoulder. Donnie follows him into the living room. "I've been laying low," Donnie mumbles, as he plunks down into a sagging recliner. A faint trail of dust stirs from the chair, making Donnie cough. Eugene searches the cluttered hardwood floor. Upon finding his glass bong, Eugene hoists it aloft from the junk. "You wanna burn one?" Eugene asks in a slightly slurred voice. Donnie can smell the cheap beer oozing off the novice dealer. "Absolutely," Donnie says with an expectant grin. The glass bong is clouded with a dark swirl of collected resin. As Donnie pulls out the stem to clear the bong, he also notices part of it is broken off. It still hits like a champ, however. "What is it you guys used to call me?" Eugene asks, as a snarl of pot smoke exits his mouth. Eugene does a French inhale, letting the smoke drift up to his nostrils, and slowly inhaling through his nose. "Green Gene, we called you," Donnie says as he sparks the lighter again. Eugene guffaws with laughter, slapping his leg in hilarity. "I've never had a buyer move in with me before," Eugene says ponderously, "but you didn't even have to pay rent, just bought weed from me." Eugene and Donnie had some pretty wild times in this dilapidated home. Donnie actually got laid more frequently here than anywhere else. Women seemed more docile when there was a steady supply of weed around to keep them dazed. "Are you homeless, Donnie?" Eugene asks, between pulls on the bong. "'fraid so," donnie says, "I've lost it all, dude." "Why don't you stay here?" Eugene asks, locating his half-finished swill that passed for an alcoholic drink. "I did stay here, remember?" Donnie asks, chuckling lightly, "After I got kicked out of my apartment, I stayed here for like 3 months. you're a fucking burn-out Eugene." "I know, why did you leave?" Eugene asks, loading another heaping bowl. Donnie does not forsake this benefaction. "All my shit got jacked," Donnie says with annoyance, "What little I had left, somebody took while I was at my job. I was still working then." "i found out who did it," Eugene says with energy, "It was my friend's cousin Alfonso." "I don't care who did it," Donnie says, spinning a beer bottle cap with his finger absently, "unless you got some of my stuff back. Did you?" "No, he had sold it all," Eugene relays sadly, "But I beat the fuck outta him. And I pissed on his face. I have cell phone footage, wanna see?" Eugene pats himself for his phone, then locates it on the table. "I appreciate the gesture, Eugene," Donnie says, "but forget it. maybe it's just kharma balancing out. I've done some fucked up things in my life. I'm just paying for them now." "Are you still on the Ox?" Eugene says with a raised eyebrow. Donnie studies his face, the faint scars that dot Eugene's cocoa skin. More than once Eugene has stood up for Donnie, with his fists. "No," donnie says, shaking his head, "I can't afford it anymore. I went into withdrawal. I sweated it out under the gazebo in Rutherford Park." Eugene taps out the cashed stem of the bong into a coffee can. Donnie sees a mountain of cigarette butts within the Foldgers tin. "You promise you're off?" Eugene asks seriously. Donnie nods. Eugene seems satisfied with this. "So Donny," he asks, "how much weed ya want?" Donnie laughs nervously as he pulls out his battered wallet. The bills stink of alcoholic mess from the can redemption. Donnie sees the picture of his father through the clear plastic picture-holder. As always, Donnie feels a simultaneous sadness and joy when looking at his pops. "I only have 7 bucks to my name," Donnie says with a sigh. He holds out the five and two ones. His net worth in his hand. "I've got just what you need," Eugene says, grinning widely. His grill gleams gaudily. Donnie wonders if the fake teeth are real gold, 24 karot, or some kind of zirconia shit. Eugene has two kinds of weed. There was the dirt swag, and the nice seedless bud. It might be Afghan Kush, or something similar. Eugene pulls out the primo jar. Eugene grabs a handful of weed without measure. He jams it into a sandwich bag with no ziplock seal, and even wraps it up for Donnie. "Voila," Eugene says, exposing his tacky grilled teeth again, "I know you don't hang out with me for my personality!!!" "Thank you, bro," Donnie says, bumping Eugene's fist with his own. "I'm telling you man," Eugene says, gesturing with open arms at his halfway-there crack den, "you're more than welcome to shack up with me. i won't charge you rent." "And I also can't get my stuff back if it is stolen, can I?" Donnie says reproachfully. Eugene's grill disappears behind his dark lips as the grin falters. "I got some of my stuff stolen before," Eugene says thoughtfully, "but its been dealt with." As Eugene speaks, he pulls out a 32 caliber pistol and places it on the table with a metallic thud. The gun is even blacker than Eugene is. But the darkest thing of all is the icy intent behind Eugene's eyes. Donnie was accustomed to the dull, funny charm of Eugene. This new side of Eugene is new, and Donnie doesn't want to be around it. "Alright, bro, I'm out," Donnie says, shooting to his feet. Eugene cocks another grin. "Are you gun-shy, Donnie?" Eugene asks. "I don't like firearms," Donnie says without inflection. He leaves. As he twists the tarnished deadbolt on the front door, Donnie turns back towards his drug-dealing friend. "One last thing, Eugene," Donnie asks in his characteristically soft voice, "Do you have a lightbulb I could have?" Eugene gathers himself from the slumped leather couch and heads to the bathroom. Donnie hears the erratic searching, as Eugene knocks over bottles and boxes in his quest. Eugene emerges from the bathroom with a sour face, and an empty lightbulb carton. Tossing the carton indifferently onto the floor, Eugene unscrews the lightbulb from the lamp that is currently on. "Jesus!!" Donnie says, laughing despite himself, "isn't that hot?!?!" "Yeah," Eugene says simply. Having extracted the light source, Eugene holds it out to Donnie. "You're not gonna smoke meth with this, are you?" Eugene asks. His tone matches that of a scolding parent. Donnie shakes his head no, and cringes as he hears the sizzle of Eugene's skin on the glass of the bulb. Eugene drops it into Donnie's hand, who bobbles it back and forth like a hot potato. Donnie can see 5 faint black marks on the bulb, where Eugene's fingertips had touched it. Donnie supposes that having no fingerprints would be beneficial in Eugene's line of work. Eugene absently shoves two fingers into his mouth in an attempt to soothe his minor burns. "I'll be seeing you later, Green Gene," Donnie says with a weary smile. Eugene cackles loudly, the sound slightly distorted by his grill and the digits in his mouth. He continues to do so even after Donnie has left and he is by himself in the shattered home.

Uploaded 09/23/2012
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