Crook Takes Pawn Part 18

Donny slept on the return journey, which was fine with Greg. It was soothing to drive through a snowfall, and Greg enjoyed the ride back. It somehow made him feel safe and cozy, to have heat and light at his control while hurtling through the torrent of wind and snow.
    Greg glanced over at he sleeping Donny, who had his thin hoodie placed upon him backwards, to serve as more of a blanket. Such a thin article of clothing would be little protection from the winter cold, especially if staying at Greg's wasn't permanent. Greg was still contemplating that one. Although it seemed a charitable gesture, it wasn't really feasible to have Donny stay there permanently. Greg had put some thought towards taking Donny to a homeless shelter. That seemed like a plausible idea. It wasn't too much to buy Donny the occasional meal, but Donny had to become self-sufficient. He needed to get a job. Maybe Greg could call Ben, and try to persuade him to give Donny his job back. The only thing wrong with that is Greg didn't know the reasons why Donny was let go. Was it the drugs? That seemed to be the most likely culprit. Donny mentioned that most of his worst problems started when he was hooked on the Oxy. What to do, what to do?
    The errant whisps of snow flakes darted through the vans headlights, and against the windshield. The snow resembled Gregs's scattered thoughts. Greg once again looked over at the dozing Donny. I bet I have an old coat I can give him, Greg thinks, making a mental note.

    Donny awoke when they were idling at the street light not 2 blocks from where Greg lived. As Donny stirs, Greg greets him. Greg has used the time driving to try to formulate an option Donny can take. Greg felt like he should help Donny as much as he could. Somehow it seemed the more he gave to Donny, the better Greg's own situation improved as well. Lady Luck was a fickle companion, and Greg was somewhat superstitious. he felt he shouldn't break his pattern of philanthropy with Donny. Greg's life really turned around the second he started looking out for the bum. Might as well continue, business as usual.
"You can drop me off here,"Donny mumbles, still rousing himself from sleep. The light is still red.
"You can stay at my place again, if you want" Greg offers, "there's a couch in my office." Greg is somewhat surprised at Donny's request. But then again, wasn't Donny the reclusive type? He came and went so quickly, at times you could scarcely tell he was even there.
"I appreciate all you've done for you, Greg" Donny says wholeheartedly. His battered eyes, though slumped and misshapen from the bruises, still flicker with an intelligence that is just now is starting to surface.
"I can't be a burden to you" Donny says apologetically,"I'm a grown man. I can't be relying on someone else taking care of me. I've gotta be on my own."
"They have shelters, you know" Greg says, hoping to empart some alternate solution to improve Donny's life.
"I know" Donny says,"I might consider going there, but right now I need to clear my head. I'll be fine, really. You are not your brothers keeper."
Donny opens the door and plants one lanky foot not the ground.
"Wait" Greg says, grabbing Donny's shoulder. It is an unintended gesture, and Donny looks suspiciously at Gregs grip. Greg lets go, not wanting to invade Donny's space.
"I still haven't paid you for the work you did today" Greg says, motioning to the back of the now-empty van,"I said I'd pay you, and I will."
Donny cannot turn down money, especially if he earned it fair and square. Donny withdraws his leg back into the van and closes the door.
Greg swings the awkward, bulky van into an empty spot.
"I have to get money from inside" Greg says, opening his door,"Wait here."
Greg opens the four locks lining the front door with practiced ease. He heads straight for the safe, withdrawing $30 from his personal savings and loan, as he calls it.
Greg comes back and completes their little transaction in the front seat. Donny feels a real sense of worth as he puts the 10 and 20 dollar bills in his wallet. It's been quite a while since such expensive legal tender has occupied his wallet.
"One last thing," Greg says, exiting the vehicle,"I have a winter coat I can give you. I grew out of it, it won't fit anymore. Just come inside a second."
Donny does not protest, and exits the van as well. With a press of a button, the van's keyless locks chirp their compliance.  Donny trails behind Greg into the pawn shop.
After a brief rummaging in the back, Greg returns with a Chicago Bears coat.
It is indeed too small for Greg, but its because the coat was never worn by him. For a few months, Greg had pondered selling NFL memorabilia in the store, but apparently you needed some license agreement from the National Football League, or something like that, and Greg had balked. This was not before he bought a boxfull of varieties of jerseys and winter coats.
    It is just the right size for Donny. As he zips it up, Donny feels a strange sense of ease and security. It was almost like a childhood sensation, being tucked up and warm from the outside elements.
"So you're a Bears fan?" Donny says, giving a once-over to the coat.
"Sure" Greg says blankly, not wanting to expose the fact the winter jacket is new. In fact, Greg slyly plucks a new tag from the back of donny's jacket when Donny turns to gaze in the display mirror.
"the Bears suck" Donny says,"but this is a very nice coat."
Donny fiddles with the many zippers and buttoned pockets. He has so many compartments now, it's just a shame he has nothing to put in them. Greg plops onto a scuffed stool that has been there since he bought the place.
"I talked to Ben two days ago," Greg says quietly to Donny. The zipping of Donny's pockets pauses as Donny hears this.
"Oh?" Donny replies,"What did he have to say."
"Well," Greg says, stretching and yawning to appear casual,"he told me how you used to work for him. He says he might have a position available."
"Really," Donny says, with surprisingly little interest,"I'll have to talk to him some more about it."
The conversation seemed to lag then. Was that it? Was it all said and done, with Donny heading back into that asphalt wilderness?
A thought occurred to Greg on the spur of the moment.
"You're good at fixing computers, right?" Greg asks abruptly.
"Yeah, I know a thing or two." Donny says modestly.
Greg rises from the stool, and proceeds to snatch his laptop up.
"I've got some kinda virus," Greg explains, opening up the laptop like a clamshell.
Donny perks up with interest. Much like a car enthusiast, Donny examines the obsolescent device. "Impressive specs" Donny says in a light voice,"This was a decent system maybe 5 years ago."
"Yeah," Greg says,"those damn computers speed up so much though, this thing isn't much use anymore."
"Its only useless if it doesn't work for your purposes anymore," Donny remarks.
"Well it won't do nothin now, but power on." Greg says sourly,"I'd say its only useful as a paperweight or doorstopUnless maybe you can get it going.
Donny has one bandaged finger curled to his mouth in thought. He powers the laptop on. There is a blinking white cursor, then the operating system begins to load. Before it can reach the logo screen however, there is a blurred blue screen of pixels.
"I should mention--" Greg begins to say, but his words are cut off by a sudden appearance on the screen. A man is having sex with a woman, doggie style on the screen. Their frantic moaning fills the store with it's obscene noise.
Greg feels the blood rush to his face. In one of his lonelier moments, Greg had attempted to download a rather enticing adult movie file. Greg realized his mistake later, but it was already too late. The virus posted the adult scene onto the monitor, and played in a loop until it was turned off. It was a shame, especially considering that the download took 15 minutes on his neighbors weak wireless signal.
Donny is not phased. He quickly hits the mute button, silencing the speakers and the couples frenzied throes of passion. Donny tries to power down the machine, but it's to no avail. Without missing a moment, Donny unhooks the battery from the laptop and the screen blinks out to a gray square.
"Oh" Greg says,"I didn't think of removing the battery. I just left the laptop on until it ran out of juice. I had to hide the laptop in back, in my desk so customers wouldn't hear it."
Donny laughs deeply at the thought of this scenario. Once again Donnie powers on the computer. Before the blinking white cursor changes, however, Donnie hits Delete on the keyboard. This time, a menu of text-based options come up. Donnie navigates with the arrow until the option "Safe Mode" is highlighted. With a press of the Enter key,  columns of text and symbols flood the screen. Greg sees options like Partition and file tables dance across the screen in a dizzying cluster. After a brief wait, Gregs normal desktop appears again.
"Hey!!" Greg exclaims, patting Donny on the shoulder,"YOu did it!! What did you change?"
"Safe mode allows only the basic functions to run," Donny says matter-of-factly,"It seemed the virus had infected one of the startup programs the OS uses to run," Donny looks as if it should be obvious to a computer novice like Greg.
"So" Greg says slowly,"Is the virus gone then?"
"That's what we have to do next," Donny says, cracking his knuckles and hovering his hands over the keyboard again.
"System Restore allows you to set the computer back to a certain date, hopefully at a time before the virus was installed." Donny instructs. Greg just sits back and lets the computer whiz do his thing. After a new date for restore is chosen, Donny reboots the computer and all is well. Donny powers down the computer and closes it once more.
"Thanks dude" Greg says appreciatively,"I don't know how that virus got on there like that."
"Right" Donny says somewhat doubtfully, not believing that in the slightest. But he doesn't challenge Greg. A guy has needs, and that's what pornography is for.
    Donny gathers himself, putting on his thin skull cap and zipping up his puffy coat.
"I'm gonna take off," Donny says bluntly, ending their interaction. He turns towards the exit. "Do you want Ben's number?" Greg offers, in one last ditch effort to aid Donny.
"I can get ahold of him," Donnie says, without pause as he leaves the store. Greg watches the orange trim of the Bears coat flare bright in the street lamp outside, then become lost in the shadows of the bitter winter cold. For not the first time, Greg wonders why Donnie is so eager to isolate himself from others. On this night, Donny seemed particularly anxious to part company. Every man has his reasons, Greg surmises, and when it came to bums, they probably had more reasons than most.
    However, Donny's true motivation for leaving would soon become apparent.

Uploaded 01/11/2012
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