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#a26 :: Jeweler’s loupe

March 10, 2008

0310081.jpg“This is shit, stuff dosage Phil.”

“Whuh.”

“This. It’s shit.”

“Wharyuh tawkinboutshit. ShitWHUH. WHUAH shih.”

“Phil, price you brought me a 1962 quarter for Chrissakes. It’s shit.”

“THASSNODDUH QUARH MIKUHLLL, SSSA SSSSILVERR DOLLLLR YUH CHEEEDN’ FUKKHN’ GUINEA!!!”

Phil undulated a little in the breeze from the door, which alternately freshened the shop and polluted it with half-digested esthers of the Olde English 40 he was now waving around for emphasis …“FFFFUKH YOUSAYYY, UUHHH CHEEEP FFFFFUKH, THASSA RRRARE 1902 SSSSILVERR DOLLLRR IN MMMMMINT CNDISHN!”

Michael held up the quarter and offered the loupe across the counter. Not his good one, which cost a good $75 and came from Germany, the cheap Chinese 16-mm thing he kept on his keychain for just such occasions.

Phil had been a musician once, pretty good bass player, really before the industry came along and crushed all his scurrying little monomaniacal dreams of groupies and endless Glenfiddich like so many ants, until all that was left was the antish energy, which needed to be drowned several times a day to keep it in check.

Phil had been marching back across the line from dear friend to fuckin’ customer for eight years now, with all the inevitability of rust.

That journey was almost done.

“Phil.” Patiently now. But barely.

“Phil, it’s a goddamn silver quarter. It’s all chewed up. Take a look, here – look at the date.”

Phil hugged the counter with his elbows, making a deliberate show of steadying his hands in air before taking the keychain, loupe and coin.

He dropped all three to a hideous clatter on the glass countertop.

“JEEEZus.”

Phil now scrabbling wildly to retrieve the keys with one hand, pointing the other unsteadily at the coin.

Skipping on edge across the linoleum pawnshop floor, the silver quarter now arced back to loop around Phil’s ankle, tinkling faintly.

“Aww, fukh, mSAAAHRREE, MIIKHULLLL. MAHBAAAAHD. FFFFFUKKH.”

He picked up a foot gingerly to let it continue to roll in a decaying spiral.“Wwwhoa.”

He snickered and almost fell over as the coin threatened to collide with his toe, but kept rolling around.

“Lllook. Sssmagic. Sssa MAAAGIKH QUARRH, MMMIKUHL.”

“C’mon. Pick it up.”

Well, that was the afternoon, pretty much, in a nutshell right there.

“Careful now. Just pick it up and look.”

The two customers he’d had all afternoon – a pair of goth kids ogling some ornate Mexican silver bracelets and a skittish little knob who’d asked one question about the stopping power of the police .38 before returning to another 10 minutes of staring intently into the gun case – had bailed the minute Phil shambled in.“Iii, IgODDIT MIIIKHUHLL.”

The coin now centered and flickered to a stop, inertia’s death rattle a pretty ringing sound.

Phil bent down, his tattered-denim ass in the air, and promptly fell head first through the glass front of the electronics case.

Glass sliced into his neck, and he slumped against it, his head cradled in a pile of old bullet microphones.

Blood pooled on the floor, and he twitched for a few seconds. Then he was still.

Michael reached for the remote door switch. And with a click/clunk, the lock engaged and the neon “PAWNSHOP OPEN” sign went out.

Michael walked slowly around the end of the counter and considered the unruly heap of a man on his floor.

He waited until the wet sough of breathing stopped. Then he lit a smoke and walked towards the phone.

Yep. That about said it for today.

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