"Twenty-five dollars!" The greasy-haired pawnbroker said, "Take it or leave it!"
"But they're worth more than that. They were my mothers!" I stepped back as his foul breath assailed my nose.
"Not to me, I've got tons of this junk!" He pointed to the rows of jewelery arranged in the glass counter.
I was at Al's in the seedy part of Dallas. And how dare he handle my precious earrings like they were junk! "Is that all I can get?" I asked as I reached over ready to snatch them back.
The man's attitude was indifferent as he stood with hands in his pockets and said, "Lady, I'm doing my best!"
Resigned, I shook my head. "Okay," I said, "but promise me you won't sell them, I'll be back!"
"You got thirty days." He barked.
I clasped the money in my hand and left, feeling really empty now without my precious earrings. The money Archie, my new boss had loaned me paid for my room at the nearby motel for the week. Now I had twenty five dollars for clothes and make-up. And, I would have to go without food each day until I got to work.
I stood on the street corner and looked around. Boarded up store-fronts and still thriving strip bars stood forelornly in the harsh sunshine. Music throbbed through the morning dampness from a place called Josies, and the smell of stale whiskey and cigarette smoke spiraled out from under the doors. I hailed a passing taxi and hurried into the back seat.
"Is there a thrift shop around here?" I asked the driver.
The Spanish man looked at me in the rear-view mirror and said, "You're in luck lady, right around the corner."
"Really? Let me out then, I can walk!"
The combination of moth-balls and potpurri totally sickened me as I walked into the shop. I needed several dresses, some shoes and a purse and after finding some adequate pieces, I bargained for the price and left. The same taxi driver came around the block and stopped for me.
After getting back to the motel, I threw my purchases on an easy chair and lay back down in my crumpled bed. I put a hand on my head and massaged my aching temple. It had been months since my house fire, and the worry and then the exhilaration when I got that check from the insuranc company. Now it seemed like it had been years! A shattering sob shook my body then and echoed in the shabby motel room. My last thought before falling asleep was maybe I'd wake up tomorrow and all this would have been just a bad dream.
But promptly at four-thirty, I walked back across the steaming hot parking lot wearing my second-hand clothes and into Tonys and punched the time-clock!