Bluff City Pawn

Bluff City Pawn Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: Bluff City Pawn Read Online Free PDF
Author: Stephen Schottenfeld
feels delayed, arrested. He surveys his brother. Harlan’s got more hair, the same big smile, but the rest of him’s less.
    “Both.” Huddy steps out and hands the shotgun to the loaner and gives the bucket to the guy not wearing the coat. The breeze feels good. Only a small bit of one but enough to cool Huddy’s face, which is as hot and red as Harlan’s is tan.
    “We were trying to figure out what those balls mean,” Harlan says. “This sign here.” And he points to the window.
    “That’s your pawnshop symbol,” Huddy says. “Three brass balls. Every shop’s got that.”
    “See, I was trying to tell these folks it meant you got ’em by the balls.”
    Huddy smiles. And the others do, just less so.
    “Hey man, can I see the gun?” Harlan asks, and before the owner can say no Harlan adds, “You got a premium gun there,” and his hand is out, his eyes signaling he’s not some stranger off the street. The owner offers it slowly, puzzled, like Harlan’s the old friend he can’t yet recognize.
    Harlan steps aside, points the gun at the street. Puts his cheek against the stock, looks down the barrel. Then he wheels at Huddy. “Your money or your life,” he says, in an old-movie stickup voice, and Huddy doesn’t laugh, his back bumping the door, but Harlan does, then lowers the gun, returns it. “Yeah, this gun fits me. This gun is premium.”
    “What you think?” the pawner says to Huddy. “You think my gun’s premium?”
    Huddy steps forward, doesn’t want to feel jammed. “I think it’s a good, strong loan. You can bring it back anytime.”
    The three men troop off to their truck. If I was on Summer, Huddy thinks, I could loan on the vehicle, too. He shakes his head, not about title loans, but all the day’s complaints and curves. He unchains the merchandise. “Grab this mower,” he says. “I got no help today.”
    “Why not?”
    Huddy shrugs. “Because my best employee is the computer.”
    They move the mowers inside and Huddy goes back for the bike, then back in to close out. He transmits all the sales downtown. Puts the pistols and jewelry in safes, puts the loans up.
    “Fishtank, huh?”
    Huddy looks up from the counter but Harlan’s already off it, over to the jewelry.
    “You stop in Knoxville?” Huddy says.
    “No. Not really.”
    He checks the coffeepot, the back door. Pumps the hand sanitizer onto his hands. The phone rings. Damn, Deanie. Maybe Christie, or Joe again, so he answers. But it’s just a man wanting to sell a pressure washer. “It’s new,” the man says.
    Of course it is. “Bring it in tomorrow, we’ll see what you got,” Huddy says.
    New , Huddy thinks. Tomorrow it’ll be ten years old.
    Harlan singing, “Golden rings, golden ring, with one tiny little stone. Waiting there, waiting there . . .” He looks at Huddy. “You gonna harmonize with me or what?”
    Huddy croons his face, eyes closed, lips puckered.
    “Man, where’s the music? It’s too quiet. Stereos on the shelf, stacks of CDs. This should be a party place.” Harlan goes to the stationary bike, climbs on and starts pedaling.
    “Come off of there,” Huddy says. He turns off the signs, the lights, sets the alarm. Steps outside with Harlan and closes the metal shutters. Harlan’s truck is double-parked, although who can see the lines out here? Huddy stares up at the darkness. “You see, these lights are supposed to be on. Joe’s supposed to be taking care of that.” He hears Harlan laugh about responsibility. “Near an hour ago they should be lit.”
    Trucks rumble down Lamar, shaking the air. “You got yourself in a no-neighborhood.”
    Huddy surveys the ruins. A sign down the street says, best prices in memphis , but the store’s gone. He knows the decline by heart. The office buildings going derelict. The projects torn down. Churches closing, too. The train container yard closed and the warehouses moved to Mississippi. Now Mister Barnes leaving. “Surprised the sidewalks don’t
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