It was 3:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday when a knock came at the door of an office belonging to Rick Harrison, the balding co-owner of the World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.
“Come in.” Rick said, not bothering to look up from the game of spider solitaire on his desktop computer.
The door opened and in slumped Chumlee Russell, one of Rick’s oldest employees. Having befriended Rick’s youngest son Corey at a young age, it was only after he’d failed everything else he’d tried to do that Rick took pity on the kid and gave him a job – a decision he’d later come to regret on more than one occasion.
“What’s up?” Chumlee asked.
“Sit down.” Rick demanded.
Chumlee did as he was told and sat in the chair opposite Rick’s desk. He twiddled his thumbs as he stared into his lap. He’d been in that chair enough times to know that Rick was pissed.
“What did I-“ Chumlee started.
“Chum, I don’t know what the fuck I have to do to get through to you.” Rick began, continuing to focus on his game. “I’ve given you so many passes. So many ‘do better next times’, so many chances. And you continue to shit all over me here.”
“What’s the big deal?” Chumlee asked. “What did I do wrong this time?” Rick merely rolled his eyes as he turned to face him.
“You haven’t done anything at all.” Rick said. “Last time I saw you, you were about three quarters of the way through a bag of spicy hot Cheetos watching fuckin’ Breaking Bad in the break room.”
“That’s not true!” Chumlee countered. In fact he’d been watching Sons of Anarchy, one of his all-time-favorite shows and one that he’d been binging for the fourth time.
“Chumlee, the entire fuckin’ break room is littered with Cheetos bags.” Rick declared. “Plus your fingers are still covered in orange dust.”
“That’s a low blow, Rick. Don’t fuckin’ snack-shame me, man.”
“Did you even sweep the stock room like I asked you to this morning?” Rick asked him. Chumlee only lowered his gaze. He had not.
“Maybe I’d be a little more motivated if you guys would let me work the floor more.” Chumlee whined. “Ever since the stupid pinball thing, you guys haven’t let me make a single buy! I wanna talk to customers man, that’s where I should be.”
Rick rolled his eyes. It was true that he and the Old Man, Rick’s father whom he co-owned the shop with, had agreed to keep Chumlee away from the floor for the time being. Ever since Chumlee had broken a repeat customer’s two thousand dollar vintage pinball machine in a brief but effective display of frustration (complaining that the machine had eaten his quarter), they decided it’d be best to keep him away from the other buyers and sellers. But that was neither here nor there.
“The Old Man and I have been talking.” Rick continued. “And we think it’d be a good idea to put you on the night shift for a little while.”
“THE NIGHT SHIFT!?” Chumlee whined. “Are you serious? The only people that come into the shop after midnight are freaks and losers.”
“Then I guess you’ll fit right in.” Rick said with a wry smile, unable to resist the joke.
“This is what you wanted, Chum!” Rick explained. “You’ll be able to make all the buys that you want…as long as you don’t buy any more fake chains or any of that shit. It’ll only be for a little while. Just to help you get your head back on straight.”
“My head is on straight enough as it is.” Chumlee grumbled.
“Look, The Old Man wanted me to fire you.” Rick declared. “I convinced him this was the better option. But if you want to go with him then by all means, you know where the door is. So what’ll it be?”
Chumlee looked to the floor, desperate to avoid eye contact with Rick. He let out a deep sigh and rolled his eyes as he mumbled.
“I’ll do the night shift.”
“That’s what I thought.” Rick said. “Now why don’t you take the rest of the day off and you can start tonight. Be here at Midnight, not a minute later. Got it?” Chumlee nodded. Rick smiled. “Good. Now get the hell out of my office.”
* * *
Chumlee sat behind the wheel of his ’64 Impala, drowning his sorrows in a Monster Energy 32oz tallboy. He watched from the parking lot as the late-night Las Vegas fog swept in over the Gold and Silver and prepared himself for the living hell that awaited him inside. He looked to the digital clock he’d had installed in the dashboard – 11:56p.m. He let out a deep sigh before chugging the last of his drink and tossing the empty can out of his window. It was time to get to work.
“What’s up, Chum?” asked Antwaun, the shop’s six foot five security guard, as Chumlee strolled into the shop. “They got your ass workin’ night shift now? Damn.”
“It’s fuckin’ bullshit.” Chumlee replied. “Rick’s got his panties up in a bunch again. I won’t be here long.”
“Whatever you say, man.”
Chumlee made his way through the shop and was surprised to find that a few customers were actually still perusing the wares. However, his attention was elsewhere.
“Hey Peaches.” Chumlee chimed as he stepped behind the counter. Danielle Rainey, or “Peaches” as the staff had taken to calling her, was one of the newer employees at The Gold and Silver and Chumlee had barely been able to take his eyes off of her since he started. She was young, beautiful, and, like most women, wanted absolutely nothing to do with Chumlee – but that wouldn’t stop him from trying. He figured if there was one good thing to come from working on the night shift, Peaches just might be it.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, far from excited to see him.
“Rick asked me to start working nights.” Chumlee lied. “He said he needed a man in charge for when he wasn’t around.”
“He’s still mad at you for breaking that old pinball machine, huh?” she replied. Chumlee said nothing, just shrugged.
“So what did you do to get on the night shift?” Chumlee asked. “Rick try to get you to suck his dick?”
“Ew, no!” Peaches said with a groan. “No, nothing like that. I was late. A few times. But only by like a few minutes so I don’t really see what the big fucking deal is but whatever I guess.”
“Rick can be a total dick sometimes.” Chumlee confided. “The Old Man is even worse.”
“Ugh, don’t get me started.” Peaches said.
“So uh…” Chumlee began. “What’s say you and I check out the storage room and see if we can find a place to store little Chumlee?”
“I would rather slit my own throat.” Peaches said, almost gagging at the thought.
“You know I’m rich, right?” Chumlee asked her.
“I’m going to work the drive-thru window.” Peaches said. Chumlee couldn’t help but grin as he watched her walk the floor on her way out. She’d come around. Eventually.
With Peaches gone, Chumlee found that he had little to do aside from standing behind the counter and staring at the clock. Sure, if he’d racked his brain he’d be able to come up with plenty of menial little tasks to occupy his time but Chumlee felt that sort of work was beneath him. Better to leave that to the grunts Chumlee thought. He was a heavy hitter. What if someone brought in an important item for appraisal? Chumlee wanted to make sure he’d be available.
But alas, the hours passed and Chumlee found himself doing little other than staring at the clock mounted on the wall. Over the course of the next several hours, he’d sold an antique knife set to one of the executive chefs at Bally’s along with a few low grade gold chains to a tourist drunk on his casino winnings (as well as more than a few frozen margaritas). Chumlee had underestimated how grueling Rick’s punishment would be. He knew that all he’d need to do to put an end to it was get on his knees and beg for Rick’s forgiveness, butter him up with compliments and promise to do better. But that wasn’t Chumlee’s style. For now he’d stick to the plan – endure Rick’s bullshit for long enough to let him cool down and then show up to his day shift as if nothing happened. All he had to do for now was stand around and wait for the morning to come.
And then he met Eddie.
“How you doin’ there, pal?” the man asked as he sauntered up to the counter with a heavy duffle bag slumped over his shoulder. “The name’s Eddie, Eddie Constantine. World traveller and collector of, well, just about anything I guess.”
Chumlee shook the man’s hand and eyed him over. He seemed just like every other idiot tourist that wandered into the shop but Chumlee couldn’t help but be a little wooed by the man’s small town charm.
“How’s it going?” Chumlee asked flatly. “What do you got for me?”
“Somethin’ I think you’ll be very interested in, matter of fact…” Eddie said as he reached into the bag. He fished around for a minute before pulling out a small box. Chumlee’s eyes went wide. Within the box was an action figure. But not just any action figure…
“This, my friend,” Eddie began. “Is-“
“The 1963 G.I. Joe Prototype American Soldier…” Chumlee blurted out in amazement as he snatched the box for a closer look. For years Chumlee had searched for one just like it and in that time he’d become a pseudo-expert in spotting fakes. But as he looked the box up and down and back again, he could find nothing to suggest that it was anything but authentic. Chumlee was in awe.
“You know your toys!” Eddie said.
“I know this toy…” Chumlee replied.
“Well…” Eddie began as Chumlee continued to examine every square inch of the figure. “Aren’t you gonna ask me how much I want for it?”
Chumlee took a deep breath. He almost didn’t want to ask. The last time one of these figures traded hands the sale price was close to two hundred thousand dollars and being that this one was still in the package, it’s value would be much higher. He’d do almost anything to have it but he was only cleared to purchase items under five hundred dollars.
“Yeah…” Chumlee said, dreading Eddie’s response. “What you said.”
“Well I like you, Chumlee. You seem like a good guy.” Eddie replied. “Seeing that I’m in a good mood, I’ll sell it to you for seventy five grand.”
Chumlee did his best to keep his face from betraying the shock coursing through his brain. Was this some kind of trick? The man had claimed to be an experienced collector…could he really not know how much this thing was worth?
“Seventy five grand…” Chumlee echoed, still struggling to believe the number was real. “I…I don’t know if I can do that.”
“C’mon son, don’t cheat me!” Eddie countered. “That’s a deal and you know it.”
“No, I mean that-”
“60 grand.” Eddie said. “Final offer. And only cuz I like ya and I need to get this thing off my hands. What do you say?” Chumlee didn’t need to think it over. Rick’s rules be damned. This was his ticket back onto the day shift.
“Deal.” Chumlee finally replied. He offered his greasy, cheeto laden hand to Eddie and the two men shook. “I’ll go get the money.”
Chumlee sauntered off into the back office and returned a few minutes later with a sale form and a check for fifty thousand dollars from The Gold and Silver bank account with Chumlee’s signature written boldly at the bottom. He handed both to Eddie along with a pen.
“Just sign at the bottom of this form,” Chumlee said. “And we’ll be all set.”
“Sure thing.” Eddie said, taking the pen from Chumlee’s hand. “You’re not gonna regret this you know. That thing is more than just a toy or a collector’s item. He’s a friend. He’s got a certain…charm to him. You’ll see.”
Uh…sure.” Chumlee said. He wasn’t sure if the man was just overly friendly or maybe a little insane. Possibly both. Whatever it was, Chumlee didn’t care. He had just made the buy of a lifetime.
Eddie finished signing the form and handed it back over to Chumlee. He pocketed the check and flashed Chumlee one last big toothy smile.
“I’ll see you around, Austin.” The man said. As he watched the man walk out of the shop, something occurred to Chumlee.
“How did you know my name?” he asked. But, as suddenly as he had appeared, Eddie had already vanished into the night.
“Who was that?” asked Peaches as she returned to the main floor of the shop.
“Just some tourist..” Chumlee said. He noticed Peaches eyeing the G.I. Joe now sitting atop the counter.
“What is that?” she asked.
“Collectors’ GI Joe. Worth a lot of money.” Chumlee replied. “Like, a lot a lot of money. And I got it for a fraction of the price.”
“How much?” Peaches asked.
“Fifty grand.” Chumlee said. “Which is nothing compared t-“
“Fifty thousand dollars!?” Peaches exclaimed. “For a stupid toy? Oh man, Rick is gonna be pissed.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Chumlee replied.
“Whatever. I’m going on a coffee run.” She said. “You want anything?”
“Can you pick me up a Monster?” Chumlee asked.
“No.” she replied. And with that she was out the door.
She’s a hot piece of ass, huh?
“What?” Chumlee said aloud. Antwaun looked up. Being the only other person in the store, he figured Chumlee must’ve been talking to him.
“Did you say something?” Chumlee asked.
“Nope.” Antwaun replied.
He can’t hear me, big guy. It’s just you and me.
Chumlee looked down at the GI Joe sitting atop the counter. Despite the fact that the figure’s face had been crudely painted onto its head, Chumlee couldn’t help but feel as if the toy was staring directly at him. Could it be…?
That’s right, numb-nuts. I’m talkin’ to you.
“Holy shit…” Chumlee uttered.
“You alright man?” Antwaun asked.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine I just….” Chumlee said, returning the Joe’s gaze. “I gotta go back into the office for a little while to do…office stuff. Yell for me if anybody comes in, will ya?”
“Yeah sure…” Antwaun said with a concerned look in his eyes. Chumlee said nothing more as he picked the Joe up off the counter and waddled into Rick’s office, making sure to lock the door behind him. He set the Joe on Rick’s desk and sat down across from it, staring him down.
“This can’t actually be happening, can it?” Chumlee asked. “Am I having a fucking stroke or something right now?”
Nah baby. I’m the real fuckin’ deal.
“Then why is it that only I can hear you?” Chumlee asked.
Who’s to say? You’ve got the touch I guess. Besides if I really wanted that ass-hat to hear me, then he would. But I’m not really interested in him.
“Then what makes me so special? Like, why am I worth talking to if he isn’t?”
I can see you, Chumlee. I can see the way your mind works, I have that power. I know that you know my true value. And I don’t mean a number on a price tag, I mean real value. And that means something to me.
It was true, Chumlee thought. There were seldom few in the pawning community, let alone the entire population, that really understood just how valuable this thing was. Finding a buyer could take a while but the cash out would be insane.
“I…” Chumlee started. “I don’t know what to say.”
You don’t need to say anything. Why don’t we blow this popsicle stand and go grab a few drinks somewhere?
“I can’t.” Chumlee replied. “Rick would kill me if I left early. I’m already on his shit-list and any more fuck-ups and I’ll be on night shift forever.”
You forgettin’ something here, Chum? You just made the buy of a lifetime. When Rick sees me and realizes how much the shop is gonna make, he’ll be suckin’ your dick to come back to the day shift. He may even give you a raise.
“You’re right…” Chumlee thought. “But what about Peaches?”
Leave her. You’ll have plenty of time to get in her panties when you’re back on top.
He would’ve liked to have said that he seriously considered Joe’s suggestion before making a decision but in truth he didn’t need much convincing when it came to ditching work.
“Fuck it.” Chumlee said. “Let’s get a drink.”
* * *
Rick showed up to work the next morning and was surprised to discover that Chumlee hadn’t completely wrecked the place. Despite a little bit of unnecessary mess, it seemed as if everything had been left well enough alone. He felt for the kid – forcing him onto the night shift had been a tough decision but Rick felt that it was necessary to teach him a thing or two and maybe, just maybe, he could transform Chumlee into a valuable asset of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. Not to mention it was nice to get some time in the shop without Chumlee’s obnoxious stoner mumble whining in his ear every fifteen minutes.
He was in the middle of negotiating the sale price of a vintage skateboard with a white-trash wannabe college girl when The Old Man stepped out of the back office.
“Rick!” The Old Man hollered. “Get back here right now!”
“Uh, excuse me just a minute.” Rick said to the girl. “I’ll be right back.”
Rick left her standing there with the skateboard tucked under her arm and walked into the back office where The Old Man was rifling through stacks of cash tucked into the shop’s safe.
“We’re missin’ fifty grand.” The Old Man gruffed. “I checked myself and ran the numbers yesterday before I left. Somehow between then and now, fifty thousand dollars has made its way out of this safe.”
“Chumlee…” Rick mumbled to himself.
“Someone say my name?” he heard someone call out. He hurried back out onto the main floor where he saw Chumlee waiting for him.
“You want to explain to me why there’s fifty grand missing from the safe?” Rick asked him. The Old Man appeared behind him, leering over Rick’s shoulder at the fat stoner he’d advised Rick against hiring years ago. Chumlee merely grinned.
“I took it.” Chumlee said proudly. “So that I could buy this.”
He grabbed Joe out of his back pocket and set it down before them so that they could bask in its glow just as he had. But the look on their faces suggested that Rick and The Old Man were far from amused.
“What the fuck is that?” The Old Man growled. “You stole fifty grand for some fuckin’ toy!?”
“I didn’t steal anything!” Chumlee whined. “Some guy brought it in to sell last night and I fuckin’ bought it.”
“For fifty grand?” Rick asked, bewildered.
“Christ, Rick, are you retarded?” Chumlee cried. “This thing is worth four times that, easily. Probably more!” Chumlee was surprised. He figured that despite their currently strained relationship, Rick was still capable of appreciating the value of such a buy.
“There’s a reason we don’t allow you to buy things over a few thousand, Chumlee.” Rick scolded. “I mean what the hell? How could you think it was okay for you to do this without consulting one of us first?”
“What!? I can’t believe this! I made the buy of a lifetime and you guys are giving me shit?”
I told you Chumlee. You’re the only one who appreciates me properly.
“I…I don’t even know what to say.”
“It’s fine.” Rick said begrudgingly. “We’ll take it and see what we can make on it. Why don’t you just leave it here and go home. Get some rest before your next shift.”
“You mean…” Chumlee stuttered, beginning to fill with anger and confusion. “That I’m still on the night shift?”
“You go and steal fifty thousand bucks and expect to get rewarded?” The Old Man barked. “You’re even more of a dipshit than I thought!”
Fuck them Chumlee. You don’t need them. You are better than them…
“You’re right. I am better than them..” Chumlee said aloud.
“What?” Rick asked. “Who are you talking to?”
“Fuck you, Rick.” Chumlee growled. “And fuck you too, Old Man. Fuck the night shift, fuck this stupid shop. I’m done.”
“Chumlee….” Rick groaned.
“I’m serious. I’m out of here. And I’m taking Joe with me.” Without another word, Chumlee tucked Joe back into his pocket and headed out of the store.
“You bought that with our money, you sack of shit!” The Old Man hollered. “Bring it back!”
But his words went unheard as Chumlee was already out the door and walking to his car. He opened the door and set Joe down in the passenger seat before climbing inside. Within minutes he had the keys in the ignition and was well on his way to anywhere other than the World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.
“What do I do now?” Chumlee asked his new friend. “I don’t have enough money to survive more than a few months without work. I….”
You knew what you were doing the minute you told Rick to fuck off. You’re going to leave the Gold and Silver in your dust and start your own shop that makes those assholes look like little more than fat old men playing with their toys.
“Me? With my own shop?” Chumlee uttered. “I don’t know if I…”
I know, Chumlee. I know all. I can see things. And I see a glorious future for us both.
“But how?” Chumlee asked. “I don’t even know where to start.”
Leave that to me. For now, just drive to your apartment and get some sleep because tonight… tonight we act.
* * *
Corey Harrison lived a charmed life. He hadn’t been born into wealth but he sure had found it. He was only six years old when his father and grandfather first opened The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop but by the time Corey graduated from high school, the shop had blossomed into a multi-million dollar business. He had started working in the shop when he was only nine years old and had eventually worked his way up to co-owner. He enjoyed the work he did and even more so, he enjoyed the money that came with it. He enjoyed the fancy cars he bought with it and the nice apartment he was able to afford because of it. But most of all, he enjoyed the fame that came with co-owning one of the most recognizable pawn shops in the world – and the girls that came with that fame.
“You want another drink or something?” Corey asked as he lead what was soon to become his latest conquest into his apartment.
“I’m feeling a little tired, actually…” the girl said. “Why don’t we just… lay down for a bit? I’ll let you give me a back massage…”
Corey struggled not to seem over-excited. He had been hanging out her for a few hours now after having met her at a club earlier that night. She claimed to be a model for H and M which may or may not have been true but Corey didn’t really care – even if she wasn’t a model she was definitely hot enough to be one and that’s all that really mattered.
“Sure,” Corey said with a wry smile. “Bedroom’s this way.”
He took her hand in his and lead her to his room.
“It’s a little hot in here…” she said. “Wanna unzip me?” She turned her back to him to present him with the zipper of her dress.
“Yes ma’am.” Corey replied. He took the zipper in between his thumb and index finger and had just begun to pull when a knock came at his front door.
“Goddamn it.” Corey said. “Give me a minute.” He left her there, still fully clothed, as he made his way to the front door, grumbling under his breath the whole way. “What time is it? Who the fuck is showing up at my apartment at this time of night?”
When he opened the door he was both surprised and unsurprised to find Chumlee standing in front of him.
“Chum, goddamn it, what is it?” Corey asked. “I’m with a chick right now.”
“This is important.” Chumlee said. “We need to talk.”
A bad feeling began to take shape in Corey’s gut. Something about Chumlee seemed off. He looked tired and jittery at the same time and something about him seemed manic, strange.
Corey couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. He couldn’t put his finger on it but he’d known Chumlee nearly all his life and he’d never seen him like this before. Manic. Jittery. Tired and awake at the same time.
“Chum…” Corey started grimly. “Have you been using again?”
“What!?” Chumlee cried. “No. No no no no. Look.” Chumlee reached into his back pocket and presented Corey with Joe in all of his unopened glory.
“What the hell is that?”
“This is the opportunity of a life time!” Chumlee declared.
He doesn’t get it.
“It’s a fuckin’ G.I. Joe!” Corey replied. “Are you serious?”
I told you this was a bad idea…
“You…” Chumlee stumbled. “You don’t know what this is?”
Of course he doesn’t. He’s not like you, Chumlee. He isn’t special.
“What the fuck is going on?” Corey demanded.
“I…I quit the shop.” Chumlee stuttered.
“Yeah I heard about that…” Corey admitted. He hadn’t thought much of it when his father had called to tell him earlier. Chumlee had thrown fits like this before but this time…something was different. “Look, I’m sure if you call my Dad and apologize he’ll-“
“Fuck that.” Chumlee said. “I love you man but fuck your Dad. We don’t need him.”
“What do you mean we don’t need him?”
“You can’t spend the rest of your life in your dad’s shadow.” Chumlee replied. “You gotta be your own man! We both do. And now is the time to strike.”
“Chumlee, you’re not making any se-“ Corey started.
“We’re starting our own shop.” Chumlee declared. “You and me. Fuck the Gold and Silver, fuck your Dad and your nasty ass Grandpa.”
“What!?” Corey asked, bewildered. “Where the hell is this coming from? And what the fuck does any of that have to do with a fucking G.I. Joe?”
I’m the glue that holds this whole thing together you fuckin’ numbsk-
“Look, I may not know a lot about pawn shop stuff. I admit that maybe I haven’t always been the best employee. But I know my fuckin’ toys man and Joe is worth a hell of a lot of money. Like a lot. Like enough to start our own shop anywhere we fuckin’ want.”
“This is ridiculous.” Corey said, aggrevation mounting. “Opening and maintaining a pawn shop takes time, Chumlee. You don’t just throw a lot of money at it and make it happen. You gotta build inventory.”
Surprisingly enough, Chumlee had considered this part already. Or at least, Joe had. Together the two had come up with a plan but he knew Corey wasn’t going to like it.
“Well, I, uh….I had an idea about that.” Chumlee stuttered. “Considering that we’ll be leaving and all… why don’t we just take a few things from the shop?”
“You mean like steal it? You want to open a pawn shop with a bunch of shit that we stole from The Gold and Silver?” Corey couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Have you lost your fucking mind?”
“Please…” Chumlee said. Corey was surprised to see tears welling at the edges of Chumlee’s eyes. “I…I’ve spent my entire life as nothing more than a fuck-up. I’ve never been good at anything and I’ve been teased for it relentlessly. But I’m smart man, I got good ideas. But no one listens. They just see Chumlee, the fat idiot loser and that’s all I’ll ever be to them. Your dad, The Old Man, fuckin’ everybody. But for once in my life I feel like I can do something. Like…I can feel it. This is it. So please…. Hear me out.”
Corey thought about Chumlee’s words for a moment, caught off-guard by this sudden display of emotion. It was true that Chumlee had been teased all his life but to Corey it never seemed as if any of it had really bothered him. Still….
“Chumlee, I feel for you.” Corey began. “And I like how passionate you are but I can’t leave the shop. It’s my fuckin’ heritage man, that shop is going to be mine eventually.”
Fuck him. I told you we didn’t need him.
“Fine…” Chumlee said coldly, the emotion present in his face now wiped clean. “I’ll do it myself.”
“No you won’t.” Corey said. “Don’t be an idiot, Chumlee. If you really want to do this, I’m sure there’s another way, but if you think I’m just gonna-“
“I’ll call the cops.” Corey said.
“No you won’t.”
As if in response , Corey whipped out his cell-phone from his pants pocket and began to dial.
Chumlee launched himself at Corey, pinning him to the wall and knocking the cell-phone from his hands.
“Chumlee what the fuck!?” Corey yelped.
Chumlee stomped hard down on the phone, shattering its screen to pieces.
“I can’t let you stop me.” Chumlee told him.
“Get the fuck off of me!” Corey barked. But no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t escape Chumlee’s surprisingly powerful grip.
“I can’t…” Chumlee whispered.
“You can’t what!?” Corey cried. “You’re starting to scare me man…”
Chumlee watched his arms slowly work their way to Corey’s neck, as if no longer in control of his body. His hands began to tighten around his best friend’s throat.
“Ch…mm..l” Corey choked, fighting desperately for air. His face began to grow purple. Chumlee slammed him to the floor, Corey unable to escape his best friend’s seemingly inhumanly strong grip. And then everything went black. Chumlee released his grip and watched Corey fall limply to the ground.
Chumlee gasped, as if the entire world had suddenly snapped back into focus. He hadn’t even realize that he’d been crying until he saw a tear drop fall onto the corpse of the boy he’d grown up with.
“Oh my god…” he said. “What have I done?”
What had to be done.
“Why did you make me do this?” Chumlee cried. “I just killed my best friend. Why-“
He was standing in the way of your destiny, Chumlee! He was going to have you sent to jail. His best friend! He’s SCUM!”
You had to do it, Chumlee. You had to do it.
“I had to do it…” he repeated.
Now let’s get the fuck out of here before-
Chumlee’s eyes went wide as the door to Corey’s apartment slowly opened up. Corey’s date stood there in the doorway and looked down at the body of the man that moments ago she was preparing to sleep with.
Chumlee didn’t let her finish.
* * *
Peaches looked at the clock on the wall of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop and was horrified to learn that she still had another two hours left of her shift. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her job – it was actually one of the cooler gigs she’d had in a while – but ever since she’d been bumped to the night shift, things just seemed to drag on. She tried getting some sleep during the day but found it almost impossible, forcing her to spend the entirety of her shift fighting just to keep her eyes open.
But worst of all was the creepy emptiness of the shop at night. As tough as she liked to pretend she was, being mostly alone in the middle of the night in a big, empty shop had her a little on edge, terrified by the thought that at any minute some Vegas strip freak could come in and do as he pleased with her. If it weren’t for Antwaun standing guard, she’d be a paranoid wreck. But as she looked up she realized that Antwaun wasn’t there.
“Antwaun?” She asked aloud. But no response came.
She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself down. Certainly he’d just gone off somewhere and forgotten to tell her. Maybe he’d left to patrol the stock room? Yeah, that was probably it. He’d be back in a few minutes and all would be well.
But a few minutes came and went and still no sign of Antwaun.
As much as she tried to settle her nerves, she couldn’t help but start to freak out a little bit. Obviously she was just being paranoid, right? But if he was in the stock room, she could always just walk back there and check. Just to help put her mind at ease.
“Hello?” she said aloud as she slipped into the stock room. “Antwaun? Are you in here?”
But no response. As she flicked the light-switch on to get a better look, her eyes went wide. The place had been ransacked. Entire shelves of product were missing and some items had simply been knocked to the floor. Shattered glass and bits of plastic and metal were strewn about everywhere, as if a giant raccoon had scurried through the Gold and Silver’s inventory in search of its next meal.
As she slowly crept forward to get a better look, she noticed the trail of blood.
“Oh my god….” She said, her voice frail and terrified. Without thinking, she began to follow the blood, the trail appearing to get thicker and thicker with each step. At its mouth she found Antwaun lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling in a wide-eyed and unmoving expression. There was a hole in the middle of his chest and his entire body was covered in blood.
Before she could scream she felt a hand cover her mouth.
“Mnm! Hmnm!” She screamed, muffled by the hand. She felt a pair of meaty arms turn her around and suddenly she was face to face with Chumlee. But the look in his eyes told her immediately that this wasn’t the Chumlee she knew. Something was wrong.
“Everything is fine, okay?” Chumlee told her. “It’s all going to be okay. When I take my hand off your mouth, are you gonna start screaming again?”
Peaches shook her head. Chumlee removed his hand and she gasped for breath.
“Antwaun is dead….” Peaches mumbled, still unable to believe it herself.
“I know…” Chumlee said coldly. “But it had to be done.”
“What? Did you….Did you do this Chumlee?” Peaches asked horrified.
“No.” Chumlee said. “Well, I… It’s hard to explain. But it’s better this way, trust me.”
“What the fuck is going on!?” she yelped.
“Relax! I just… I… Things are about to change for me, okay? I can’t go into detail right now but I’m about to be a very rich and powerful man. But I have to leave this town behind me in order to make that happen, okay?”
“I don’t understand…” Peaches said, her eyes starting to swell with tears.
“I want you to come with me.” Chumlee told her. “I know that we haven’t always gotten along that great but I… Peaches, I love you. I’ve been in love with you from the minute you started working here. You’ve got a great ass and a tight personality and I want to make you my bride.”
“WHAT!?” Peaches screamed. “I’m not going anywhere with you!”
I told you she didn’t love you.
“But…” Chumlee stuttered, feeling hurt and betrayed. “I thought… I thought we had something. I’ve dreamed about this for so long…”
“Chumlee you’re funny and all but…” Peaches replied. “I… I don’t understand any of this but I can’t be with you. I don’t have those kinds of feelings for you.”
Stupid bitch. You know what to do.
“Please, Peaches…” Chumlee began again. “I know I may seem like a fuck-up but this is for real. I could give you a better life.”
“Chumlee if you don’t explain what the fuck is going on then I’m going to call the police.” Peaches declared.
Wrong move, skank.
“I can’t let you do that.” Chumlee growled. It was then that Peaches started to notice the strange inhuman quality of Chumlee’s voice. She trembled in fear.
“Chumlee what are you doing?” She whispered, the tears now falling uncontrollably.
“Please…” he begged. “I love you.”
“Chumlee get off of me!” She screamed.
Do it. You have to kill her in order to survive.
“I have to kill her in order to survive.” Chumlee repeated.
“What!?” Peaches screamed. “Chumlee n-!”
With a single motion, Chumlee wrapped his hands around Peaches neck and twisted. With a sickening snap, Peaches went limp. He dropped her to the floor.
As he looked down at the body of the woman he had just declared his love for, Chumlee was surprised by how little he felt. Only one thing mattered now.
“What do we do next?”
* * *
Rick Harrison felt many things as he looked upon the burning wreckage of the shop he had opened up with his father so many years ago. He had lived a humble life, he thought, or at least he had tried, always being careful not to take too much pride in the wrong things. He was more than a pawn shop owner, he knew. But looking at the stronghold to the empire he’d worked so hard to build now lying in a heap of smoking ash, he couldn’t help but feel a little empty inside.
What had caused the fire, they hadn’t yet been able to determine. The flames had burned heavily throughout the night and had only recently died down enough for the fireman to enter inside and get a better look at the damage. Rick of course had tried to go in himself but was turned away by one of the policemen now patrolling the area.
This was his legacy, he thought, and the legacy of his father as well. The dream that he had hoped to pass onto his son one day now lying in a burning pile of rubble at his feet. But even as these thoughts came into mind, Rick couldn’t help shake the feeling that the worst was still yet to come.
Rick looked up to see one of the cops he’d spoken to early making his way towards him.
“Do they know?” Rick asked. “How did this happen?”
“We’re still trying to figure that out…” The cop said. Rick noticed the sweat rolling from the cop’s brow. Whatever it was he was about to say, Rick knew he wasn’t going to like it.
“Mr. Harrison there were several bodies inside.” The cop said flatly. Rick’s stomach dropped.
“Oh my God… Do they know….Do they know wh-“
“They were badly burned, they’ll need to be taken in for testing before we can confirm the identities. But sir, that’s not all…” The cop removed his hat and took a deep breath, struggling to figure out the right way to say what he had to say next.
“What?” Rick barked. “What is it!?”
“It’s about your son.”
To be continued….