Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Eerin wasn’t sure exactly how she came to be in the pawn shop, and yet here she was. When she’d left her apartment in the Brodsky building, she’d been intent on going for coffee, but rather than the chrome and glass and fragrant aroma of a café she found herself surrounded instead by the detritus of generations of the desperate and financially needy. She had no recollection of having walked here, and she had puzzled on that realization as she made her way past the two cast iron bicycles at the door, around the jolly jumper and the stuffed bear that occupied it, and down the length of a case filled with khaki and metal bayonets and seemingly authentic World War II gas masks. Eerin had stopped finally at the back of the store, confronted by glass display cases littered with dusty lighters, jewelry and numerous other odds and ends. It was one such oddity that had begged her attention, though holding the rock encrusted and rusting metal stick as she now was, she couldn’t fathom what interest she should possibly have in it.

“You’ve got a keen eye, Miss, that’s a very valuable piece.” She braced herself for the sales pitch. “A gentleman left that in my father’s care in exchange for a crib and a baby carriage once, and some pocket change too mind, but I’m sure you and I can come to a fair price.” The shop keeper grinned, exposing widely spaced and badly nicotine-stained teeth. She’d begun to hate him the moment she’d stepped through the door.

“I’m not interested,” she lied, only barely aware that she’d done so, “I’m really just looking.”

The object began to feel warm, and she shifted it from one hand to the other, unsure if it was actually getting hot or not. As she did, large pieces of the rusted surface metal began to detach themselves, disintegrating to fall like dirty snowflakes onto the counter top.

“Oh dear, you’ve broken it, you’re going to have to buy it now,” he placed both hands palms down on the counter, leaning forward and frowning, “very expensive that is, very expensive.”

“I’ve done no such thing,” Eerin defended herself, straightening “and I told you I’m not interested. Besides, I’ve only got enough money for coffee; I didn’t come here to shop.”

The store owner narrowed his eyes. “If you’ve got no money, I hope you’ve got some other way to compensate me for my loss.”

Eerin’s first thought was of how quickly could she get to the door, but as she raised her hands and began to step backwards, she found herself staring at her reflection in the mirror behind him, her startled face framed neatly by the perfectly cauterized hole burned through his head.

He dropped behind the counter out of sight, and her mind raced with panicked thoughts: Should she run? Should she call the police? And say what? could she hide the body? Leaning on the counter and frowning down on the repugnant corpse as she worried, she absently began erasing him, neatly vaporizing his remains with back and forth sweeping motions of the now gleaming and gently purring device.

Stepping back onto the sidewalk of 8th Avenue, she paused a moment to bask in the warmth of the afternoon sunlight. For just a moment, she wondered how it was that all of that had come so naturally to her, but that thought was soon replaced with the question of how long it would take to walk to the Starbucks at 8th and West 43rd.

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