Friday, April 13, 2012

The Ring

            Edmond cringed as the bells jangled against the glass door. Tony’s Pawn Shop was the last place he wanted to be. But he couldn’t keep a roof over his baby girl’s head with two broken legs.
            “Eddie!” Tony called. “What brings you in to my shop this fine morning?”
            “I got myself into a bind Tony,” he said. “Think we can keep this quiet?”
            “Eddie! Confidentiality is the cornerstone of the pawn business.”
            “I thought bailing out idiots like me was the cornerstone of the pawn business.”
            “Potato, potahto,” Tony said. “You behind on the rent? Thought you were doin’ okay at the shoe factory.”
            “The shoe factory’s fine. I made a bet with Little Mickey,” Edmond said. “It was a sure thing.”
            “They’re all sure things, ‘til they ain’t.” Tony said sagely.
            “Spare me the lecture Tony.”
            “I’m just statin’ facts. Other peoples’ bad decisions keep me in business. What do you have for me?”
            Edmond reached into the inside pocket of his sharkskin jacket and pulled out the worn blue velvet box. He laid it on the glass counter with shaking hands.
            Tony didn’t pick it up. He wiped the sweat from his balding head, remembering the day he sold the engagement ring to a love struck boy two years ago. Now that nervous kid was a man was a scared man with a debt to repay.
“You sure about this Eddie?”
            “What choice do I have?”
            “Does she know?”
            “No. Peggy’s hands are swollen from the baby. She hasn’t worn it in months.”
            “You think that means she isn’t going to notice it’s missing?”
            “I’ll be able to buy it back in a couple of weeks if I’m careful.”
            “I’ll make you a deal. You tell Peggy first and I don’t charge you interest.”
            “You won’t make much of a living making deals like that.”
            “Eddie, I like you. I’ve known Peggy since she could walk. Her old man and I were friends, you know? He was a good guy before he was a drunk. She got a raw deal with him and I don’t want to see her get a raw deal out of her husband too.”
            “Wait just a second Tony. I can take care of my wife. I’m not a bum like her old man.”
            “Prove it. Go tell her you made a mistake. Tell her the deal I offered. You have nothing to lose. Her ring will be safe and she’ll see to it you never gamble another dime. After a couple of pay days, she’ll have her ring and an honest husband.”
            “Screw you Tony. There are other guys in this town who’ll give me top dollar for this ring and all I’ll owe them when it’s over is money.”

            Today’s piece is in response to Write on Edge’s prompt to write about a time you or one of your main characters had to repay a debt. The debt can be legal, like sending taxes to the government or paying off a credit card, or it can be something promised in a back room deal, sealed by a handshake more binding than a written contract. This is part of a larger piece I have in the works. If you’d like to read more click here.