Pawn takesKing part 34

Donny was sleeping well at night, better than at any point in his winter expeditions. He was snoring loudly when a heavy thunking sound permeated his dreams.
"Who is it?" Donny asked sleepily.
    "Sherrif's department" a gruff voice announced. Donny is wide awake now. Tossing his blanket off, he examines his possible exits. Only the one piece of the lattice is freed. WIth only one way in or out, Donny is trapped. Wanting to just give in and face the music, Donny anxiously emerges from beneath. He meets Greg's grinning visage.
    "Jesus Fucking Christ" Donny says nervously, but he also feels grateful not to have the cops barging in on him.
    "C'mon" Greg says, "Lets go".
    The visit to the hospital was just another activity to occupy Donny's time. Donny was not emotionally involved. He was just there to support Greg. Donny got the impression the fat man was terribly lonely. Greg was, after all, hanging out with a bum, and treating him like family. Such behavior pointed to a melancholy disposition.
    Donny stood in the corner of the hospital room, giving Greg his space. Greg tried to talk to Robert, but the lanky man was in a coma. Greg brought a heartbeat wrist monitor to give to Robert. It was so ironic, it bordered poetic. Greg broke down while talking to the silent patient. Eventually, Greg bolted from the room, and Donny followed.
    Seeing Greg so rattled, Donny felt as though he should distract from the situation. He revealed his drug addiction to Greg.
    "I hate hospitals," Donny says, nervous about his admission. At the last second, he altered his own tale. "When I was younger, a car hit me while I was crossing the street, and fractured my femur. I spent a few weeks in the hospital."
    "IT was right after I moved outta my mom's." Donny continues,"I was partying with some guys, and wasn't really paying attention. The crowd stopped at the crosswalk, but I kept going. WHACK!! I guess your femur is the hardest bone in your body, and it hurt like a bitch. They got me taking Oxy, for the pain. I got hooked after awhile."
    Donny doesn't mention that Steve was the one who supplied the drugs, or some of the benzodiazapim. It sounded better when the hospital was the one to blame. Donny keeps flapping his gums. "It wasn't so much the Oxy itself," Donny explains,"It was when they started handing out those Benzos on top of the Oxy. Itâ¦intensified the high, and after a few weeks, that's all I had on my mind anymore."
    There is a sliver of truth to this. The hospital indeed had over-prescribed him. But it wasn't a quality hospital, just some shitty HMO that was all about profit. Donny soon lost his job and couldn't afford the medical bill payments anymore. They cut off his prescription, although he had enough dough for a doctors visit, and the script itself. The benzos was the icing on the cake. It gave the high a twist and elevated his mood even more. But, it also increased his withdrawal reaction.
    Greg says nothing, and Donny wonders if they are through with their friendship. It wouldn't be the only time drugs came between Donny and others. So why was Donny telling him?
    "You can go into withdrawal from Oxy, just like herione," Donny says sadly, "When I got out from the hospital, I started popping more and more Oxy to stop the dope sickness. And now, here I amâ¦"
    Greg just wipes his hands with the thin paper towel from the dispenser. Donny cannot read him. The truth had to come out sooner or later anyway. If Greg was to know about Donny's addictive disease, it might as well come from Donny's own mouth.
        "Are you still addicted to that crap?" Greg asks, studying Donny closely. Donny fidgets under the stare.
    "I had to get off it," Donny says simply,"I couldn't afford it. I went into withdrawals while I was still on the street. I wasn't trying to quit, I just didn't have enough cash to keep my habit up."
    After regaining composure, Greg and Donny shuffle back into Robert's room. Greg chats with the doctor there. Donny doesn't say anything, but listens. Robert's ribs kept jabbing into his bronchioles, apparently. A bad infection developed and they had to remove the affected lung. Were Jessie still alive, Donny was sure the sociopath would be proud to have caused such irreparable damage. Jessie would also be disappointed nobody died but himself.
    Greg spoke a few fond words to Robert, and left. The heartbeat exercise monitor was left on the table. It was unsure if it would ever be used.
    Donny had Greg drop him off near the McDonalds next to the city park. All the drama at the hospital made Donny tired, which then made him famished. As Donny waited in line to receive his greasy portions, someone tapped him on the shoulder.
    "Hey, stranger!!" Benjamin says chummily.
    "Ben, what's up man?"
    "Nothing much," Ben says, "I was just talking to the Kirkwood university about selling some computers. I'm heading back from there now, and I'm hungry."
    "Did they buy any?" Donny asks hopefully.
    Ben looks away, towards a mural of sports memorabilia signed by different athletes.
    "Nah, it didn't work out," Ben says distractedly, "I just don't know how to sell to people, I guess. I'm the brains of the business, making all the components and cases. But I don't have clue one how to market them."
    Donny feels a twinge of sadness. He wished Ben could get just a few small customers. Even one little sale would build Ben's confidence.
    "Well, you've gotta keep at it, my man." Donny says supportively.
    Ben shrugs. Benjamin had built his own company, Digital Dreams, with only himself to credit. He turned the sales aspect over to his other employees, who ran with it and made Digital Dreams a success. Fast forward to today, and the economy was mired in a slow descent. Ben had to let his customers go, and was doing everything by himself now. Donny sees speckles of gray hair forming in Ben's hair. The stress must be bearing down hard on him.
    Donny senses Benjamin is not exactly thrilled to talk about his ailing business. They talk about other topics. Greg's name came up.
    "I keep thinking about the robbery at that pawn store," Benjamin says with a touch of heaviness, "I feel bad for that guy. Did he survive?"
    "Yeah, he's still sucking air," Donny says, "his name is Greg. He's a solid dude, bro."
    "I keep picturing if Digital Dreams getting broken into," Ben says, "I mean, it would be awful to get everything taken away."
    "I saw the lady and kid he rescued," Donny says, recalling the scene, "it was like a fever dream. The sight of a girl beat down like that really irked me. Nobody should ever hit a woman, and definitely not a mother."
    "The gunman will never have a chance to do it again," Ben says, reflecting on Jessie's demise.
    "You've got that right," Donny agrees, "he's worm chow."
    "I can serve whoever's next," the cashier says cheerily. Donny points his hands forward, while stepping aside. Ben orders a meal to go. He breaks a 20, and grabs the bag of oily goodness. Turning to Donny, Benjamin offers the change to him. It's a least 15 bucks. Donny couldn't delude himself. He could really use the bread. The moolah equaled quite a few pop-cans.
    Donny shakes his head. "Don't give me any charity, I know someone who needs help. He is a good man falling on hard times. Please buy from him, he is honest and will not rip you off. Save your change."
    Ben looks perplexed. "Who is that?" he asks.
    "Greg Jefferson. The guy we were just talking about."
    Donny gives him a crumpled Pawn and Payday business card. It was one Donny got from Greg himself.
    Ben studies the card, and nods his head.
    "Okay, Donny," Ben says, "I'll check it out."
    As Ben turns to leave, he imparts one last piece of advice.
    "your fly is down, Donny. Zip up, there's kids around here."
    Thank you, my mangled pair of jeans, Donny thinks, you never fail to humiliate me.

Uploaded 02/11/2013
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