I had been there before, but I had never liked it. Nobody ever does. I did not seem right, it did not seem fair, yet it was legal and sometimes necessary. Where I stood was before the counter of a pawn shop. I looked around, as I waited, at the displays filled with musical instruments, firearms, televisions, jewelry, and miscellaneous this and that. It was a place of hope and second chances, broken hearts, and broken dreams.
I was going to start a new job in a couple of days and it would be at least two weeks before I would see a paycheck from it. It had been too long since I had seen the last one. I was not in dire straits by any means nor was l looking for a handout. I just needed enough for some gas and groceries. I just needed enough to help get me by until the first paycheck came in and then I would be sitting pretty again. Say what you will about your friendly hometown banker. He is a nice guy, professional, well educated, but he will not let you hold a twenty until payday. He does not do small, short-term loans. Family and friends are not always an option. Even if they are willing to help, it can be a hard line to cross.
The customer in front of me finished his business and headed for the door. I stepped forward and was greeted in a friendly manner by the gentleman behind the counter. Slightly embarrassed, I explained my situation to him and handed him my pistol. He took it and inspected it in a calm, professional manner. It wasn’t the best pistol that I owned, but it was my favorite. It was a .380 caliber with a combat grip and two seven shot magazines. I had bought it from another pawn shop two or three years earlier. Today my $300 investment was good collateral for $50 dollar loan. My heart sank and I swallowed a little pride. I understood it was only business on their part. There was overhead to take care of, taxes, and various laws that came into play. I knew that if I defaulted and failed to pay back the loan, they had to be able to sell it at a profit.
I completed the paperwork and accepted the money-it was just what I needed- enough for some gas and some groceries. It did not seem right, it did not seem fair, but it was necessary.
Erin Jones was born in Wisconsin and raised in Arkansas. After graduating high school he went off to college, dropped out of college, and enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served as a cavalry scout. Returning to college, he graduated from the University of Arkansas with B.A.s in communication and economics. Today he works as a mild-mannered salesperson. He has published in Criminal Class Review and Poesia. In his free time he collects beer cans and brewerianna.
Copyright © 2016 by Erin J. Jones