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crook takes pawn part 38

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For the next few hours, Greg became engrossed in the matters of finance. Gus understood both slopes for success and failure. Greg would shoot a question, and Gus would answer his query. After a time, Gus began to discuss business like Greg was a trusted associate. Gus commented that Greg had a well-rounded head on his shoulders.
    For one, Greg understood cashflow, the amount of money you actually have generated from business. Greg also was able to properly identify the difference between assets and liabilities. It this one fact, Greg seemed to be more ahead of the game than the average homeowner. Most people who bought a home considered it their biggest asset, when in reality, the house was their biggest liability. And if people were spending most of their paychecks on the one thing costing them the most money every month, it can quickly spell disaster. Greg learned a lot from the King.
    Finally, the old carpet was torn completely free. The final corner they attended to was the spot where Jessie had violently kicked the bucket. Gus took one look at the faded maroon stains, then the window which still had bullet holes in the center of the fractured glass.
"Evidently, you had a good aim," Gus says distractedly, as he wrenches the blood-soaked carpet up, "you're a regular badass."
"I wouldn't go that far, King," Greg says in an aw-shucks tone, "I'm lucky to be amongst the living. The crackhead that shot up the place blew a hole in my buddies chest the size of a golfball."
"Did he die?" Gus asks over his shoulder, as he hunches to the floor.
"He's recovering in the hospital," Greg says happily, "I think he got his lung removed, but he's out of the woods."
"Glad to hear it," Gus responds, as the carpet peels up like an old skin.
"I wouldn't touch that blood, King" Greg says with humor, "I don't know where the crackhead has been, but it wasn't a clean place."
"Okay Greg," Gus says with a grunt, as he and Donnie move the carpet roll to the side of the room, out of the way, "we need to go get the new carpet. There's a remnants business a few blocks from here. A former employee of mine works there. He'll hook us up."
Donny sweeps up a few loose smithereens of glass, without Greg having to say anything.
    Gus continues his autobiography as they aim the toyota towards their destination. Life had taught Gus humility in his autumn years. A man had to learn which battles to fight, and which to leave. Gus had several different places he would rotate parking so as not to garner attention from the local cops. Gus didn't consider it illegal to live in your vehicle, but the cops didn't take to kindly to wanderers, even those who were stranded, unable to venture further, only enough to make it day by day. A gallon of gas at a time, and a whole lot of scrimping and ghetto rigging to get by. And so, Gus picked his battles.
"Have you ever been beat up by the cops?" Donny asks with utter seriousness.
"No," Gus admits, "But it wouldn't surprise me to learn they did rough up a few folks from time to time. It seems those coppers were programmed to harass and bother."
    Donny grins broadly and turns in the passenger seat towards Greg. Greg can decipher the meaning behind the look. It said 'look, I'm not crazy, someone else can attest to it.'
    Gus lead the way into the store. A swarm of peaceful background music engulfs them. the smell is a sharp mixture of linoleum, adhesive chemicals and fabric material. It is synthetic in scent, but not exactly unpleasant. Gus turns back towards Donny and Greg, raising his hands to his sides at the store, while strolling backwards.
"this is my real home, baby!!" Gus says while shaking his head loonily, "come check out my store!!"
    Gus ambles over to a corner of the store, knowing right where they need to be. A young gentleman with curly red hair and freckles looks up from his desk as they approach. A sly smile comes across the ginger's face.
"Hey Gus," he says, "How's it hanging?"
"long and hairy, Big and scary," Gus says energetically, "Wants to pop some hot chick's cherry!! how ya doin', RandY?"
"You're nothing but class, Gus," Randy says sarcastically, "Whattya need?"
"We need some carpet remnants," Gus explains, "whatcha got in stock?"
"Whats the dimensions?" Randy asks, diligently looking up their inventory on computer.
"About 30X50 roughly," Gus says, glancing at a post it note he had crammed into his back pocket with the measurements scribbled.
"Any preference on color?" Randy asks, sweeping his gaze to each of the gentlemen in front of him. It seems obvious Randy is not the one purchasing, merely supervising. Greg clears his throat.
"Ah, I guess I like blue." Greg says, "something dark, to hide stains. do you have a dark blue?"
Randy punches in a few keys for the search. Randy's mouth squirms as he frowns and wiggles his freckle-spotted nose funnily.
"We have a navy blue," Randy says, picking up a carpet sampler book. His sun-spotted hand points toward a very dark square section of the color in question.
"Is that berber?" Gus asks with a scratch to his head.
"yeah," Randy says, speaking directly to Greg, "with this, you can limit the appearance of foot tracks and vacuum lines."
"I'm sorry, I should explain," Gus interjects, "this is for his business, not his home."
"Oh, ok," randy says, unfazed, "not a problem, we do have some of this multi-level loop pile on sale now. It has the appearance of random texture, and is good for high-traffic areas."
Gus runs his hand along the dark fabric. "The loop heights of the carpet vary," Gus points out to Greg, "See? There's three different heights to the threads. so sometimes the smaller loops of thread might get dirt wedged between them."
"Oh," greg says with an unknowing look.
"What I think we want, Randy," Gus says, raising his voice somewhat to be heard over the forktrucks operating near them, "is a level loop pile type. He needs it to be durable, and track resistant because of those strong loops."
    Randy nods in understanding and clacks away at the computer keys again.
"I've got one to show you," Randy says, "We just got it in yesterday, so we don't have a sample for it yet."
    The group of men follow Randy around to the back. Gus is at the front, beside Randy, still chatting away.
"I call this my store, because most of this stuff was bought out by a property auction," Gus relates to Greg, "Randy here used to be my top-level employee!!"
"Right," Randy says with a sigh, "And now, here I am, basically a stock boy that makes barely above minimum wage."
"How many hours are they given' you here?" Gus asks, his curiosity piqued.
"I'm barely getting 25 a week," Randy says in a disparaging voice,"I"m working another job the rest of the week, at the Tile shop across town."
    As they round a corner, a mountain of carpet is stacked before them. Randy frowns as he checks a clipboard with paper information.
"I'm sorry for what happened, Randy," Gus says reservedly.
    Randy turns and looks at Gus like he just farted in church.
"what the hell are you talking about, Gus?" Randy asks
"I took out a mortgage against my house to buy a stupid boat for my whore of an ex," Gus details, "Then, things got outta hand, and I lost it everything. All because I didn't want to give up that vagina, I lost it all. I couldn't hold onto any of it."
    Greg pretends to examine a thick roll of carpet, letting Gus have some semblance of privacy. Randy scoffs and waves off this attempted apology.
"Vagina has swallowed up far greater men than us, Gus," Randy says with an amused expression, "Shut up, you old idiot," Randy says, berating him playfully, "I never blamed you for any of that shit. You can't go around blaming others. I took responsibility, and got another job. I've got a kid to feed, I can't go around feeling sorry for myself, and neither should you, dude."
    Without anymore banter, Randy directs them to the proper carpet sheet. Gus helps Randy Roll out the section they need, and Randy cuts through with what looks like a longer version of a utility knife, Greg can't place the name of the tool. Randy starts on one end and quickly ravels it up as Gus holds the opposite side down on the floor. With a quick wrap of clear tape, the carpet is secured. Randy and Gus lug it onto the metallic supports of the forklift.
"Maybe you can haul it out to the car out there?" Gus asks, "We really should have brought my blazer to haul it, but I was running low on gas."
"don't worry about it," Randy says with a blue-collar casualness, "We deliver shipments that are in-town, as long as it's over a $100 purchase."
"So whats the cost exactly?" Greg asks with trepidation. Now that they had passed the first hurdle of expense, how much would cap it off? IT was at least $100.
"Its gonna be $103.55" Randy says with a grin, "You just barely made our limit for free shipping.
    Gus lights up at this news, and pats Randy on the back.
"this is my main guy right here," Gus says with vigor, "Once I get back on my feet, you're gonna be the first guy I call with a job offer, brother."
"Sure thing Gus," Randy says with a thin smile.
    Gus' statement seems to hang in the air, refusing to dissipate. Gus will never get back on his feet, everyone in the group seems to sense that. Gus will struggle towards a somewhat dignified grave, and that's pretty much all he has left. Will he make it towards a peaceful resting place? That depended on how long the Blazer would hold out, and how strong Gus' resolve was. The old bum certainly appeared to have a lot of fight left in him, but appearances can be deceiving. Greg shifted uncomfortably from one foot to another as this gaggle of men waited silently as the forklift carted away Greg's newest acquisition.
    Gus attempts to initiate another conversation to break the awkwardness, but something catches Gus' eye. Greg turns his head to follow Gus' gaze and sees a well-dressed middle-aged gentleman walking towards them. It's the store owner, Jerry Perkins. Even if the man's name wasn't sewn into the light blue polo shirt he wore, Greg recognized him from the entranceway of the store. There was a huge picture of Jerry, standing tall with a blinding smile from his carefully groomed face. The grin is so over-exaggerated that it almost looks pained, an expression of glad-horror. Jerry's aqua green eyes seemed to have a perpetual sharp light reflected in them, giving his stare a somewhat intense quality. Those eyes seemed almost predatory for some reason, which did not come through in the depiction of him in the store front. Jerry sidles past a display of overhead fans in that section. His black hair waved in the draft, seeming so unkempt and wild that it was almost certainly an expensive haircut style.
    Gus glared at Jerry as he approached. Greg could cut the tension with a hacksaw. Randy was stiffening, puckering up to attention as the boss came by. There was a deep undertone building, even before Jerry said a single word to them. Greg had become quite the adept reader of body language, and things looked primed for possible conflict.
    Jerry scanned the mens faces as quick as a whip. Jerry was sizing up the situation, trying to determine who was doing the purchasing here. With eerie insight, Jerry extended his hand to Greg.
"Hello, Jerry Perkins, I'm the owner. "
Greg shakes dubiously and introduces himself as well. Jerry's eyes snap over to Gus, who locks their gaze. It is intense. Gus' anger seems just as powerful as his humor.
"Hello Gus" Jerry says. Again, Greg detects the subtext. Jerry manages to say Hello as if he were really saying 'fuck you'.
"Jerry" Gus says pointedly. Neither men offer a handshake.
"I thought I told you not to come around here," Jerry says frankly.
Gus doesn't flinch. His eyes do not drop, and he does not answer.
Jerry's face turns from stone back to smiles and chuckles.
"I'm just joking there, buddy," Jerry says, "You're always welcome here!!"
The mood has turned icy. It seems these two men have a long standing beef, of which Greg is not privy too.
    As unnerved as Greg feels, Randy looks all the worse. Randy has his fake smile out, the one he shows the customers. It is different than the natural smile Randy displayed earlier when they first arrived. This new grin shouts as loonily as randy's manufactured smile on the picture near front. Randy clutches the clipboard tightly.
"That's fine, Jerry," Gus says in a low voice, "Most of this store is mine anyway. When you and the whore tidied up after my bank raped me, you took most of my inventory and employees."
    At the mention of employees, Gus flicks his eyes toward Randy. Randy drops his gaze to the store carpet. Greg has a sneaking suspicion that Randy is not counting the loop threads of his place of business. Randy is caught in the guilty crossfire of two men he knows well.
    Jerry blinks. Though his smile never falters, Jerry's eyes shift unseen into some new agitated state. The light from the florescent lamps across from them outline those diffused green iris of Jerry. The eyes look like an alligators. The thought creeps into Greg's head and what's even more interesting is that this comparison fits.
"C'mon, Gus," Jerry says with a condescending titter, "Can't we let bygones be bygones? Your ex settled with me, I wasn't trying to pull anything over on you."
"you were always looking to take over," Gus says randomly.
"Listen Gus," Jerry says, reaching into his wallet,"I know things fell apart between us, but I'm willing to help you out."
    Jerry withdraws a crisp $50 bill from his luxourious leather wallet. Gus' eyebrows raise in astonishment. After a delay, Gus takes the bill slowly from Jerry's handand with a loud honking sound, blows his nose on the treasury note.
Gus points the front of the bill towards Jerry's disgusted look, and lets it fall from his hand. The soiled Grant lazily floats toward the floor. Greg feels his stomach churn as he spies the glob of greenish brown stain on the former President's face.
Jerry's eyes dart first from the bill, then to Gus.
"You still living in your car, Gus?" Jerry asks with an abhorrent tone.
    Rather than feeling the plucky charm of the gracious owner, Greg felt ready to leave. These two surly men were going at each others throats, all in a span of not even two minutes of interaction. Surely this wasn't proper etiquette around customers. But Greg supposed Jerry could delve into battle in front of lesser-off people like them. Jerry's business looked to be thriving, and Greg wasn't exactly a heavy-hitter when it came to purchases. Jerry took more pleasure in humiliating Gus' than loosing possible business.
    Gus steps forward, fists balled at his sides. Jerry looks mildly amused as Randy diverges in between them.
"Hey, Gus, looks like the rugs been all loaded up for you," Randy says with great effort, "If you follow me up front, I can ring you up, and get the address for delivery."
    Gus allows himself to be lead away, with Randy's hand hooked into Gus' arm. Although there is no pulling on Randy's part, the grip on Gus' arm looked firm, and adamant. Gus had his arms crossed tightly to his chest as Greg was rang up at the checkout. Gus' foot tapped the concrete floor so savagely that the cashier gave a questioning look as the transaction was finished.
    Greg dutifully tucked the receipt into his wallet. As a legitimate expense, it was important to keep records, distressing run-in with Jerry or not. It was business, not personal. Gus had steered them to this particular store anyway. It was obviously a larger enterprise that was cheaper overall. Gus seemed to take some salt with his pride in order to save Greg money. Lastly, it looked as though Gus had fully anticipated running into Jerry. A war requires both sides to continue the conflict, and Gus was ready to oblige.
    Jerry's words had seemed to cut deep. It was actually Gus who had brought up a lot of the past bitterness, but Jerry hadn't refuted anything really. From Greg's perspective, it still looked like Jerry was a vulture, picking the carcass of a struggling half-corpse. Kick them while they're down? How about, pick at them when they're down. Gus was certainly down at that. He didn't say hardly another word throughout the rest of the day.
    On the way back to the pawn and payday, Greg took them all out for lunch. Although Gus did not protest, it also did not lighten the man's spirits. Greg and Donny chatted as Gus picked at his food.
"that looks pretty good, Gus," Donny says, pointing to the fish sandwich Gus had ordered.
Gus offers a phantom of his real smile.
"yeah, I usually just get a couple cheapie hamburgers.' Gus says, "Now I've got the whole meal, fries and all."
Donny emits a short laugh, unsure if he should continue.

Part 39: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/user/blog/artman4444/view=82368307
artman4444 Uploaded 03/09/2012
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