Pawn Takes King Part 9

Much to Donnie's grief, Gus would not allow a guest to stay in the Blazer Hilton any longer. Gus never had gotten hassle from the cops before that. Gus was always holed up in the flatbed, out of eyesight. For Donnie to be in plain view like he was, it was bound to attract attention. Gus drove away, leaving Donnie as a red stain from the taillight's glow. It was about 4am in the morning.
     Donnie crushed a 20 milligram Oxy and snorted it off one of his old school books. It was a hefty manual on computers, for his A+ certification tests. Donnie couldn't part with it. He actually read it that night, intently studying the pages in the emerging light of dawn. Computers were always easier for Donnie to deal with than people. Machines could be programmed to follow your every whim. They either worked 100% of the time, or the system merely needed to be fixed. It was so simple. A much more complex task was discovering how survival was possible for himself.
    It became imperative to find Greg. Winter was coming again and Donnie needed money. Hopefully, it might be a mild season, with only a few storms. The last few years, it seemed as though it went on and on without any snow, then BAM!!! It would dro[ like crazy all at once. The inches of accumulation were like inches of dirt thrown onto Donnie's open grave.
    Donnie saw Greg a few days after the first time they met. Greg gave another dollar. As Donnie took it, he leaned in so Greg could hear him better.
    "I hear you have work," Donnie says a little louder than his usual quiet self.
    "What?" Greg asks, tilting his head forward.
    "I hear you have work!!" Donnie repeats, this time too loudly. He didn't want Greg to think he was getting angry all of a sudden.
    "Maybe," Greg says, "what's your name?"
    "Well, Donnie, the light's changing," Greg says quickly, putting the car into gear, "Meet me at the Vine tavern over there. We'll talk about it.
    Donnie eagerly trotted over to the Vine, hoping things would just work out for once. Donnie had a building reputation for bad circumstance.
    Greg steps out of his crappy car and ushers Donnie over to one of the tables outside.
    "I was gonna hire some illegals to do it,"  Greg says, "but I didn't want to involve myself with any of that. Next thing I know, I'll have immigration knocking on my door, or something."
    "I know, right?" Donnie says chummily. Donnie was sipping on a soda, courtesy of Greg. Lunch was also on the house. Donnie eagerly anticipated his roastbeef and mashed potato meal.
    "So I figure the next-cheapest labor would be from a homeless person," Greg says straightforwardly. Donnie smiles.
    "you've come to the right place!!" Donnie says, "I am without home, or money. I'll work hard, man. Anything for some dough."
    This was a slippery slope they were on. Was Greg a gracious benefactor, or an exploitive, greedy man? He spoke of hiring illegal aliens, who milled around the corners of the northwest section of the city, closer to Corallville. They, like many actual American citizens, were desperate for work. Greg had much leverage when working with those less able to care for themselves.
    "I'll pay ya $8 an hour," Greg said, "a little above minimum wage. I just need some help with odds and ends: tar-papering the roof, mowing and trimming, and maybe painting the outside of the building."
    "Is it true you got a small business loan, or something?" Donnie asks.
    "Wow, word gets around quick," Greg says with a chuckle, finishing his own soda off, "yeah, I got a few bucks from the bank, because I took over my dad's old store."
    "How much?" Donnie asks. His fingers tear at the napkin encasing the silverware. Greg detects the sudden eagerness in Donnie's question.
    "Enough to live on," Greg says abstractly. Greg wonders how much cash it takes for Donnie to subside on. Greg does a once-over on this frail man. Donnie's hair and beard is past scruffy, into a wild-man hermit stage. He wears a faded blue Foo Fighters shirt, with Dave Grohl almost disappeared into nothing. Greg doesn't normally look at another person's shoes, but takes notice of Donnie's rough Green Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Duct tape is holding one sole together. The green has darkened to something resembling black. The jeans in between are scuffed and dirty.
    The waitress returns with their food. She smiles, but does so nervously. She recognizes the bum from his shift at the curbside, begging for money. She is glad they are seated outside, otherwise she might have to keep an eye on Donnie to make sure there is no thievery. Donnie drains half of his glass in order to get a refill while the waitress is there.
    Donnie eats ravenously. He finishes his whole meal while Greg is only done with his fries.
    "You eat like a starving Ethiopian kid," Greg says with a laugh.
Donnie shrugs. "It's been a long time since I ate this good." he says, mopping up some gravy with a biscuit.
    Donnie is thinking about more than just wages. He asked Greg how much the loan was because there might be a possible score to be had. Donnie sized up Greg, just as the fatman had done to him. Greg looked like a harsh adversary. He outweighed Donnie at least 2 to 1. If a robbery went bad, this dude could mess some shit up. Donnie's plans for stealing are gone before they begin.
    Greg ends their meeting feeling as though he had gained another piece in their strategic game. Without knowing Donnie's background, or drug affliction, Greg asked him to meet tomorrow at the Pawn and Payday. Greg leaves a hefty tip on the table.


Uploaded 10/02/2012
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