Thursday, February 5, 2015

Deep Ellum Icon: Honest Joe's Pawn Shop

Here is an original sign (there were hundreds) from Honest Joe's Pawn Shop, for decades a Deep Ellum institution. Here is how I used it in "Friend of the Devil," as a pawn shop in Del Rio:

The tower bell starts ringing, bong, bong, bong, and that’s when I see, a block and a half up the street, a big sign for Honest Joe’s Pawn Shop, which I don’t remember being there before. Bong, bong, bong. So I wrap my arm tight around my guitar case and start running toward it. The whole way up, there’s folks standing there saying, Hey Slim, Hi Slim, Where you running to, Slim? And to each of them I give a nice, friendly how you all, because as anyone in the business will tell you, fans are money in the bank. bell is still ringing when I force myself to stop and catch my breath for a second before going in, because nothing good ever happens to anyone who comes too fast into a pawnshop. Honest Joe’s is really just a hole in the wall; less an emporium than a vestibule with a couple glass display cases filled with trays of watches, rings, and pocketknives.
Honest Joe is a little bald gnome of a man with green eyeshades, who sits perched on a swiveling metal high chair. He looks up from his racing form and swivels to face me. “Whattaya need?” he drawls.
I set my guitar case on the counter and open it. He tries not to look impressed, but he is. “That’s a Martin, innit?” he asks. I nod.
“I need a gun,” I tell him. 
(Excerpt from "Friend of the Devil," available on Kindle)


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