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crook Takes Pawn part 89

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The next day, Greg calls the work of Diane's husband, Ed. He worked for a public utility company. Greg supposed Ed wasn't allowed to have calls during his shift. Greg said it was an emergency involving his son Raymond. Greg felt bad for lying, but it was sorta the truth. The issue did involve Raymond, but Greg made it sound like a medical crisis.
    "Ed here," came the reply, after a lengthy hold. Ed sounded flustered.
    "Ed? Hey, it's Greg Jefferson,"
    "Who?"
    "Greg, I'm Diane's ex-husband."
Greg hears a lengthy breathe from Ed crackle the phone reception.
"I take it there's no danger to Raymond, then?" Ed says quietly.
"Well, no," Greg says, cringing as he waits for the phone to be slammed down. Unlike his wife, Ed doesn't believe in such a rude gesture.
    They talked for a few minutes. Ed seemed like a decent guy. He was almost painfully average. Greg found himself unable to progress past meager small talk, and so went right for the center issue.
    "Listen, Ed, I was wondering if I could visit Raymond?"
Another crackling sigh from Ed.
    "I don't really have any say, Greg."
    "But didn't you adopt Raymond? You're one of his legal guardians, right?"
    "Yeah, but you know what I mean. Diane will be the deciding factor, not me."
    Greg hears the pliant bending of Ed's will behind that voice. Diane must've pounded him into shape, with berating and manipulation. Greg had never really bowed out to Diane's tyranny. He was assertive, and stood up for himself in every battle with her. But it sounds like Ed's fighting was over long ago. Greg believed in his old-fashioned way that the man should wear the pants of the relationship. Allowing the woman to domineer would usually mean trouble. But that was just Greg's inner thoughts, something he would never voice to Rebecca, for fear of getting his head ripped off by the voluptuous vixen.
    "Please, Ed. I know how difficult Diane can be."
    "You don't know the half of it, Greg."
    "But I'm trying to start over. I've made a lotta big mistakes, some which may not be able to get fixed. But I'm trying. That's all I can do, is try."
    "Well" Ed says, his voice trailing off. Greg thinks he has put the phone down when Ed speaks up again.
    "Well, maybe you should just come out here and see." Ed says vaguely. Greg frowns.
    "So, you'll talk to her?" Greg asks.
    "Just come out and see," Ed repeats, "if you really want to."
    Greg figured this was as close that Ed could get to ask him just to stop out to California. He could not rely on Ed's help, not that he should anyway. But at least Ed didn't hate his guts, too.
    "Okay, Ed," Greg says, then pauses. "I'll see you soon."
    "Okey-Dokey," Ed says, "Oh, one more thing, Greg?"
    "Yeah?"
    "I read in the paper out here that you uh, saved some kid, or shot it out with a robber, or something?"
    Greg is surprised. Was the Pawn and Payday gun battle really national news?
    "Something like that," Greg says, in a obtuse way, "I can fill you in on it later. When I see you."
    Greg gives his own subtle indication he really will head over 2,000 miles to meet his estranged child. Greg knows the address. The person Greg phoned at Diane's old number gave him the forwarding information. Ed says he must go now, he is needed. Greg says goodbye and hangs up.
    Progress had been made. Greg could hardly claim to be breaking through yet, but maybe there would be daylight at the end of this journey if he continued.
    Rebecca wore a pair of flannel duck pajamas to bed. She could make the most innocent clothes look risque. As Greg settled in beside her, he glanced down and saw her green thong peeking out between a pair of duck bills on her top and bottom. Greg had filled up a dresser full of his pants and shirts. He was essentially living here now. He went to sleep breathing in her shampoo's fragrance.

    Donny was at the Pawn and Payday the next morning. Gus was there too. Jesus fucking christ, what was it now? It was never good news with these two. Especially Donnie.
    "What shit did you step in now?" Greg asks gruffly. Donnie is brooding in a florescent green hoodie. He glances at Gus, who shrugs his shoulders.
"Tell him." Gus says casually.
"I'm getting kicked out of the YMCA apartment." Donnie says flatly.
    Greg's shoulders slump. Same old routine with Donald Grieves: for everything that is gained, it's taken away. Donnie is emotionless. The pinpointed nature of his pupils reveal his methadone dosage is running strong.
"Well, Christ on a cracker." Greg says sadly.
"Whatevs," Donnie says blankly, "I guess I had fines I didn't pay off when I was "trespassing" and "loitering". But in reality, I was getting my nose caved in. Because of delinquent fines, I'm outta there. It's the story of my life, Greg."
    Donnie stretches and yawns forcibly. "But I'm not asking for a place to stay, and Gus neither," Donnie explains, "I just wanted to let you know, and maybe hang out and talk to you a while, before we have to start moving our stuff out."
    Greg sighs and unlocks the fine door that Gus installed. It opens soundlessly, without effort. The three men trudge up the brief hallway, which opens up to the showroom floor. Greg had painted the entryway meticulously. He made sure that all traces of the crook's blood were obscured by the blue hue. The hallway was like a tabula rosa, a blank slate for Greg's dreams. Too bad Donnie's nightmares dwelled equally as blank. What would Donnie do now?
    Gus pulls out a Twisted Tea drink. It's alcoholic content was actually more than beer, but it tasted smooth, like Lipton tea. Greg raises an eyebrow.
    "What're you doing?" Greg asks in wonder.
    "I'm sorry, Greg," Gus says weakly, "I know it's your place of business here. I won't drink if you don't want me to. But now I'm facing the prospect of living in my Blazer again, and I still haven't gotten my first paycheck from the construction outfit. I just, need something, PLEASE?"
    "Allright, cry me a river," Greg says sourly, "Just keep it in the paper bag, okay?"
    Greg studies Donnie. The young man is staring distantly at the glass display of various Game Boy Games and portable devices. His eyes look without seeing. Greg wonders what is running through Donnie's head. Would the bum try to commit suicide? Donnie had communicated such feelings back in the apartment. They all had. But Donnie's terror was right now, while Greg's had already past. What to do???
    Donnie's fingernail scratches at a torn streak of sticky residue that used to be a sales sticker. He works diligently, working up each edge of the smeared adhesive until it is completely free. Donnie rolls it up into a ball and tosses it into the garbage. Donnie sighs and walks over to the guitars. An aimless hand sweeps across several guitar's strings, and they echo in an arcing fade of ambience.
    "how many hours are you working?" Greg asks Gus.
    "I got 50 this week," Gus says, "with the possibility of holiday overtime on July 4th, when it comes round."
    Greg whistles. "That's gonna be a hefty paycheck there, King."
    "Fucking right," Gus says, swigging defiantly, "this life ain't quite buried me yet. I'm up to my neck, but I'm digging my ass out, dick-first. What I really want to do is camp out in a hotel. Once I get another 2 weeks pay after that, I'm gonna go apartment shopping. No offense there, Donnie, but it was getting a little too tight in that little dorm there, anyway. I guess it looks like I'll be camping out in the old Blazer again for a few weeks."
    Donnie looks at Gus, again with eyes that don't see. Donnie stares so intensely, he seems to blend in with the background of the shop. His hand strokes the stubble forming the beard and goatee around his mouth. The facial hair is a subconscious attempt to emulate Greg. Donnie's stroking fingers are the only indicator the kid is still among the living. A thunderclap roars in the distance. It begins to drizzle, smattering the rooftop with a cozy-sound. In a day or so, Gus will be camping out under the elements again. Donnie suddenly breaks his trance and ambles over to the pair of men.
    "Gus," Donnie says excitedly. The carpet king tilts his glance away from his drink long enough to study Donnie.
    "You should take over the YMCA apartment," Donnie says energetically, "We can have Ben fill out some forms again, and explain you were homeless, but you have a job now. I think we can convince him to let you stay, dude!!"
    Greg is startled by the simpleness of it all. Donnie has rearranged his own obstacles, to clear the path for one of his allies. It was yet another counter-clash to the capitalist ideal. All for one, one for all, instead of all for themselves.
   
    Ben was called and the pitch was made. Ben agreed whole-heartedly, and then surprised them all with something unexpected.
    "Why don't you just sleep in the back of Digital Dreams, Donnie?"
Donnie denies himself an easy out. "I don't think that's a good idea, Ben."
    Greg butts him with an elbow and gives a questioning glare. Why is he refusing this?
    "Listen, Donnie. Cut it out. It's not a pity party. Do you want help or not? I know your past, Greg and I both do. And I know you got into it with Rebecca, or whatever--"
    "Rebecca's got nothing to do with this." Donny interjects
"Because of my big mouth, I was high and drunk and was a little too divulging to her. And she confronted you, I know all about it."
    Greg believes that Donnie's self-esteem has taken a major blow from Rebecca's words. She had cut him deeply, wounding his pride, his ego, his sense of accomplishment. Donnie had even dressed up, and tried to interact with strangers he didn't know. But the night still resulted in a seething woman calling him out.
    Donnie hated himself. Greg could tell. It took one to know one. Although Greg felt differently now, he had walked, at least partially, in Donnie's shoes.
    "Rebecca has every right to be angry with me." Donnie says.
"Why won't you allow yourself to be happy, Donnie?" Benjamin says in a rattled voice. Donnie sighs and leans against the glass counter. HIs warped reflection hovers above the many electronic trinkets.
    "Because I've just got a case of permanent bad luck. That's all." Donnie says with a tired wisdom. Greg wonders how many other bad things Donnie saw that he does not speak of. Life on the street had a calcifying effect, hardening one's character to the point of an inanimate object.
    "I can help you move your stuff out with my truck," Ben continues, despite Donnie's stubbornness.
    "Ben--"
    "And that's the end of it."
    "Benjamin?"
    "Yeah?"
    "Thank you."
    "You're welcome, bro."
    And Donnie had a place to stay. The pawn was advancing, ready to reach the end of the board and trade in for a better piece. It's called a promotion, a fitting title for this on-going game. Donnie was still in play. Had he killed himself, they would all be short a player, and a friend as well.
    Donnie did count himself lucky to be friends with people who give second chances.

LINK TO PART 90: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/blogs/view/82672785/

artman4444 Uploaded 07/11/2012
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