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Pawn takesKing part 35

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Donny talks to everyone about Greg's store. Normally, Donny would shy away from interaction, especially if he recognized students he used to share classes with. But Greg needed help, desperately. Donny told anyone who would listen to shop at the Pawn and Payday. People he didn't even know became aware of the pawn shop. Sometimes, Donny would extoll the bravery of Greg by telling them about the shootout. Donny became ardent towards assisting Greg, chatting up with the cashier at the fast-food places, or just passerby on the street. If Donny had a sandwich board to wear, to deliver messages, it would say "Shop at the Pawn and Payday!!"

    Donny and Greg shared something in common. They both spent Christmas alone. Donny had no family or home to celebrate the occasion. His father dead, his mother in a care home, Donny just slept most of the day away. Greg was in a similar situation. His ex-wife and child were in California. George, Greg's father, was also dead as a doornail, just like Ronny. There were no carolers, or fanciful feasts for these two. Greg did buy some egg nog, but it was in a carton, like milk. He spiked it with Rum and got shit-faced by himself. Had Donny stopped over, it would've been a welcome visit for the sad pawn shop proprietor. But Donny assumed Greg had someone to share the season with, and so left Greg to his own devices. Since the robbery, Greg had basically became what amounted to a shut-in. He didn't trust anyone, and came off as rude or abrasive to customers. This didn't help the accumulation of friends, by any means.
     Donny only got out and about once, to buy some fast food. American capitalism didn't allow for the restaurant chains to be closed on this holy holiday. Being a festive occasion, Donny ordered a supersized meal, and a couple custard holiday pies. It was a splurge for Donny, but he allowed it, seeing as how it was the only gift he could give himself.
    Greg's meal consisted of a family-sized microwave turkey dinner. The mashed potatoes were the instant kind, and were slightly chunky, from the powdered ingredients. He warmed it in the minuscule oven in his loft, because the microwave made everything luke-warm, or half-frozen still. It was the most depressing Christmas Greg ever had. NOthing was working out. His store was set to fail, and the bank would take everything. All because of that stupid SBA loan he had taken out. Even if he could afford to buy presents, there was no one to shop for. He was all by his lonesome. He didn't bother to get a Christmas tree. It seemed almost sacrilegious to have a tree decorated next to a former murder scene. But then again, weren't Christmas trees already a blight to the religious day? Whatever, Greg wasn't a Jehovah's witness. He didn't think people would go to hell for tree usage.
    Yet, he was still alive. Greg found himself staring at the steaming turkey slices in the plastic tray. Jesus had supposedly celebrated his birthday in similar fashion. No, JC was delivered in even more squalid conditions. A manger was the birthing place of mankinds "savior." Greg supposed he should count himself lucky. Some people didn't have a roof over their heads (like Donny). Still others couldn't count on steady meals throughout the week (like Donny).
    Greg found himself crossing his hands and lowering his head. He prayed without speaking aloud. The sound of his own voice in the hollow home was just too pathetic to hear, and he knew he couldn't stand it. Greg offered tidings to his son, whom he abandoned so many years ago. He even prayed that his ex-wife Diane could spend the day with peace-of-mind. There weren't any prayers for himself, though. He didn't want to be let down when no angel came to greet him.
    "Amen," Greg says to himself, and digs into his quick-ready dinner.

    Donny had to talk to someone. He had spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day alone. Sure, he was warm with the heater, but felt like he was so off the grid, his sense of humanity was slipping.
    It was cold out, as Donny emerged from the gazebo like a hibernating creature. A weasel was best suited to represent Donny. A weasel awakening from hibernation.
    The wind was blowing, kicking up snow into his face like sand. It really felt like traversing a desert in a lot of ways. Donny had a container of Mountain Dew, which he sipped from occasionally, like a canteen. A scarf was shielding his face from the wind, like a sheik. Donny carried a small cellophane of weed like one of the three wise men, bearing incense. Myrrh. Donny wondered if Myrrh gets you ripped. 
    His nose was runny. He might have a deviated septum in his schnoz because of all the Oxy Donny snorted. Near the end of his first drug experience, Donny had taken to smoking the pills off a piece of tinfoil. Good old tin foil. A drug-user's toolkit.
    Donny knocked on Eugene's door. There was soothing Christmas music playing inside. Eugene had seemed to be in a festive mood, and took time to string a rudimentary display of Christmas lights on the porch. Several of the bulbs were burnt out, but those remaining had a timer, which made them blink at intervals. A white decorative reef was hung on the door. As Donny waited for Eugene to answer, he fiddled with the little box. The lights on the reef began to sparkle, and Donny is impressed. There must be a fader switch varying voltage to each light. Donny presses another button and the lights blink rapidly in unison. Further pushes make the reef begin to sing out from a tiny speaker on back. The voice sounds sluggish, and the batteries need replacing. It is like a drunken caroler decided to stop by and holler out tunes.
    Eugene answers, clad in a santa hat, and a pair of over-all bibs. He is shirtless beneath.
    "I didn't know Santa lived in a crack house," Donny says sarcastically.
    "Ho-Ho-Holy shit!!" Eugene says in mimicry of old Saint Nich, "I know you've been a bad lil bastard, Donny!!"
    "I also didn't know Santa Clause was black," Donny mutters with a grin as he enters.
    "I just got back from my moms," Eugene explains, walking toward the living room. His black books squeak with moisture on the hardwood floor.
    "I dress up for my lil nieces and nephews," Eugene says, hopping onto his customary recliner.
    "That's cool," Donny says, "I wish I had family to spend time with."
    "I love the holidays, Donny. Me and my brother Thomas both smoke, and we got high as fuck the whole two days. Christmas Eve and Christmas day. My moms cooked turkey and mashed potatoes. Mmm, mmm. I forgot what a home-cooked meal tastes like."
    As Eugene rambles on and on cheerfully, he snaps his suspenders. Other times, Mean Gene will run his thumbs up and down the suspenders, and bow his hips back and forth playfully, in a gesture from the old rag-time days.
    "What did you do for X-mas?" Eugene asks, as he loads a bowl of weed in a ceramic pipe.
    "I slept. Then I ate. Then I slept some more." Donny says, naming off his activities.
    Eugene shakes his head, "You shoulda gave me a holler," Eugene says, patting his overalls for a lighter, "I coulda hung out with you, smoked you up. At least until I left for ma's place."
    "What can I say?" Donny mutters, "I'm alone in this world."
    Eugene looks carefully at Donny, one eyebrow cocked, smoke rolling from his cocoa lips.
    "Something gotcha down, Donald?" Eugene asks, passing the pipe. Donny shrugs. It is only after he has taken a hit, and feels a peaceable mood elevate him that he speaks."
    "Sometimes I wish I was dead, dude," Donny says lowly.
    "You should be careful what you wish for, bra," Eugene counters, "I've had some friends gunned down in the streets, in Chicago, before I moved to Iowa. I for one don't want to see you dead and buried. You're a good guy, Donny."
    Donny thinks about the robberies and theft and violence he has witnessed, and sometimes taken part in.
    "I'm not a good guy," Donny says, "Santa would give me coal, I know it."
    "C'mon, Donny. Baby Jesus was just born yesterday. It's a whole new begginnng, you know?"
    "I don't believe in Jesus," Donny says coldly, "or God, for that matter."
    "I do," Eugene says, with a wide smile, "you believe in Santa, but you don't believe in Jesus?"
    Donny shrugs. This was odd. Religion has never come up between them before.
    "My mom had lotsa leftovers. You hungry, Donny?"
    Need he ask? Donny mows down a huge turkey sandwich, filled to capacity with stuffing. As he gorges himself, Eugene digs in a pop case on the floor and pulls out a Mountain Dew.
    "Here ya go," Eugene says gladly, "it's warm, but it's wet."
    "That's what she said," Dony says, popping the top on the fizzy goodness.
    As they settle back in the living room, Eugene loads yet another bowl.
    "Well, Eugene, you've kept me alive another day. Time will tell if that's a good thing, or a bad thing, though!!"
    "You're trying' ain't ya?" Eugene asks, passing back the pipe, which smolders.
    "I applied at the Y, and at a place called Shelter House," Donny mentions, "but there's so many people who applied ahead of me, it's gonna be a month long wait, at least."
    "That's a shame," Eugene comments, adjusting his fluffy hat, "A lotto people are hurting right now. Some people are even worse off than you, my friend."
    "I find that hard to believe," Donny says doubtfully.
    "At least you don't have any kids," Eugene says with a shrug, "imagine the folks out there who have mouths to feed."
    "Yeah, I guess that's true," Donny concedes.   
    "You're trying, man," Eugene says comfortingly, "all you can do is try. If your best don't do it, that's how it rolls out sometimes."
    Donny feels better. Just being around someone during times of depression can be effective. Eugene was almost always in a good mood. Forces counteract Donny's negative outlook. Things become more balanced, leveled out.
    Donny finds it strange that a fuck-up like Eugene could inspire so. Well, compared to Donny, Eugene was living the high-life, and not just the euphoria of marijuana either. Eugene had an entreprenual facet to him, in some ways. He owned his own business, and set his own hours. He had a place to stay, and food to eat.
    "So, what happened to your roommates?" Donny asks, glancing around at the house.
    "I narrowed it down to just one," Eugene explains, "he's some asian dude that works long hours. He's hardly ever here."
    "What's he do?" Donny asks, puffing and passing. Eugene taps out the cashed bowl.
    "I don't really know," Eugene says, "he just gives me money everymonth, so I don't ask questions. I think he stays here because it's quiet."
    "It won't be quiet for long," Donny says, "if you're selling again."
    "I'm not doing hardcore sales no mo," Eugene says, placing his glass pipe on a metal TV tray in front of him, "just enough to pay the bills. The asian dude buys a lot from me, so we work it out just fine."
    Eugene holds up another bag of fine herbal supplements.
    "You looking' to buy, son?" Eugene asks, nodding towards the bag of marijuana.
    "I can't afford it right now," Donny says, "I'm trying to prioritize, know what I mean?"
    "yeah, I know," Eugene says in a docile manner, "I've been trying to do that myself, actually."
    Eugene powers on his gaming system, and pulls a controller that's wedged in the couch cushion. As Eugene starts up a racing game, Donny nervously cracks his knuckles. There was an alterior motive for coming over.
    "Mean Gene?" Donny asks.
    "Yo."
    "You think I can crash on your couch tonight? Just tonight, I can't stand being alone right now."
    Eugene pauses the game and tosses a blanket from the floor over to Donny. Donny smiles as he arranges himself on the leather couch.
    "Santa, with your weed so green," Donny recites, adding new lines, "won't you help a brother in need?"
    "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night, motherfucka" Eugene says, holding a smoking blunt in his hand. Donny goes to sleep to the somewhat soothing sounds of gunfire and vehicle combat. Eugene offers him more weed, but amazingly, Donny has enough and declines.
    Just before Donny's perception blackens, Eugene speaks:
    "Green and need, don't rhyme, Donny,"


artman4444 Uploaded 02/18/2013
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