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Thick as Thieves

GrantFieldgrove

Published: 2013 Categorie(s): Fiction, Action & Adventure, Humorous, Literary, Romance, Suspense Tag(s): "con men" "con artist" cons robbery "cat burglar" "dark comedy" "father and son" criminals romcom "boy meets girl" "matchstick men" "growing up" flashback

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Thick as thieves

A novel By Grant fieldgrove

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Copyright 2013 ManChops Inc. All rights reserved ISB 978-1481917193

Published by ManChops Inc. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over or does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. Copyright 2013 by Grant Fieldgrove Cover Design by Eric Duhart No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions. First edition: November 2013

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I hope this book makes you proud. I love and miss you so much. You went above and beyond for me and I’m so sorry I never told you enough just how much it meant to me.New Section FOR MY DAD I know I told you I loved you too many times to count but I’m not sure if I ever told you how much I truly appreciated you. You were my number one fan and I promise to forever strive for greatness in your honor. Until we see each other again… 4 . Dad.

" -Master Con Man Simon Lovell 5 .New Section "It's all about playing the man. not playing the game.

"This carpet is ruined. "Give me the goddamn code. assuming my five-year-old mind could comprehend such a question. he tells me. Why would anyone buy white carpet.New Section let’s begin. I ask." he keeps saying to me. Ten lousy years and everything changed. "Do you feel how plush this is?" as I dig the tip of my foot into the soft fiber like I'm grinding out a cigarette. And here I am with new shoes on. "It's got Stain Master on it. The man with the gun sees the blood flowing near and takes two steps back. I say. I'm trying to buy time but he doesn't seem to care. Probably upwards of sixty dollars a square yard. shall we? If you would have asked me when I was five years old if I thought that. then ask if he finds that at all ironic. I tell him Stain Master's slogan is Beauty Meets Brains. I ask myself. too. I say." I say to him. and 6 . really. the thickest padding you can get for a residential building. Recognizing quality carpet is a major plus in my line of work. "This has gotta be a seven-sixteenth padding. here. Ask me that same question one decade later and I probably would have given it fifty-fifty odds. This is quality stuff. Still asking me for the code." Still no response. the Glock circling around my head and now being pointed at the base of my spine." The corpse lying face down on the floor in front of me has a small trickle of blood worming its way south from the sizable hole where the back of the man's skull was just minutes before. I would be standing in a stranger's house with a Glock 7 being shoved into the left side of my temple. three days before my twenty-fifth birthday. "A shame. and into the confluence of the warm and sticky crimson river slowly inching its way towards my feet. "This carpet is probably a Shaw." The clock is ticking. The man with the gun can see I'm thinking a little too intensely at the moment and pushes the compressor a wee-bit harder into the side of my ol' brain cave. He tells me to give him the code again but I ignore him. It's still ruined though and he still doesn't seem to care. "Give me the code. That's not even counting the padding." I tell him you can tell by the way the blood isn't soaking in too much. Last chance. I would probably have said no. He doesn't say a word but I hear his leather glove scrunch as he grips the pistol's handle tighter and slowly begins squeezing the trigger back." Silence from behind me. He's still ignoring me.

but not. I'm proud of my skills and I feel that not a lot of people can say that. my name is Finnick Hollins and I'd like to tell you how I arrived at this particular situation. I had a 7 . I have conned hundreds of people out of their hard earned money over the course of my life. "places like that are too risky. I'm a criminal. I'm not sure I totally understood what he meant. Especially about their job accomplishments. sitting me down at the kitchen table. wrestling with their consciences. In fact. I steal and I swindle. I never have been. Once they have your face or your prints. I remember once when I was really young. And that makes me feel even better about myself. I don't think it was his initial plan to teach me how to be a thief. but I do remember him adding on a little stinger to my lecture. a lot of stuff went down in that time period. Do you understand what daddy is telling you? Even if they don't catch you redhanded. He told me you never. ever steal from legitimate establishments such as a supermarket. Cut and dry. Once you're caught. you are theirs forever. I take a deep swallow of air and hold it in my lungs. But not most. it's lights out for you. I lie. But. Stuff I should really be ashamed of. Some. He's currently deceased. In fact. In fact. I cheat. pretending to be ashamed. I doubt that it was. my father and I were doing some grocery shopping and I pocketed a simple pack of gum. my father was appalled. plain and simple. You steal from a place like that and you get caught. the odds are pretty good the police will come and you'll have no chance for an escape. When I got home and revealed the stolen merchandise. Maybe so. Bottom line though. being bred from a master flimflam man like himself. unbeknownst to anyone. But not me. he's about five feet away from me. flour and romano cheese his words leave behind. Remember that ten-year span I mentioned earlier? Well. Maybe not. face-down in some eggshellwhite Shaw. At least. My father taught me everything I know. Either way. and find you on their security cameras." he told me. They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. I am not a very trustworthy man. I know this for reasons other than the trace of garlic. I had no idea. He had pasta for lunch. You see. Understand?" I didn't. "Son.the warmth of his breath wafts past me. the traits are pretty easy to pass along. there is always the chance they'll find out later. Things that would keep normal people up at night. I just shrugged my shoulders a bit and looked down at the floor.

my dad's arm around me and my head nestled comfortably into his arm pit. leaning in close to me. I was five then. just like a Golden Ticket. "shoplifting is for pussies. The commercial ended and I assumed my father forgot all about it. a not-happy look on his face." I lifted up the potentially-winning bag and tipped it in his direction so he could peak inside. "Sure would. eh Sport?" my father said to me. I could just make my own. I did not. and if found. my first real brush with danger. could win you twenty-five thousand dollars. "Promise me you will not steal from stores ever again. "Well. two empty cases of M&Ms opened and their contents spread out before me. we were sitting on the sofa. "What the heck are you doing?" a voice calls out from the doorway. just don't steal from places you have a high risk of getting caught." I'm not sure they teach that lesson in school. His cringe turned into a slight smirk. instead of waiting to find this bag. and somewhere out there. my father and I were watching television in the living room one evening. however. when a commercial comes on for a contest M&Ms is having. "Besides. I open one bag." Lesson learned: It's okay to steal. I pick out the red ones and return those to the bag. I mean it. I'm sorry. if you want to call it that. um. I repeat this step until I have one full bag of nothing but reds. The rest of the bags I tear open carelessly. there was one bag filled with nothing but red M&Ms. daddy. "I'm um. when I was around seven or so. He tried to hide it but it had been too late." "No big deal. I thought. Three weeks later I am sitting at the kitchen counter. Apparently they were introducing the new red M&M into the fray. removing the reds and dumping the discards into the box. A year or so later. son. mother had abandoned us at least three years prior by this time.free pack of gum. I wanted that money." "I promise." My eyes wide. "Sure would be nice to find that bag. My dad. you 'member that commercial? The one that said if you get a bag full of the red ones you get all that money?" I saw my dad's unhappy look slowly morph into a sort-of cringe as he waited for me to continue. Anyway. That twenty-five grand was as good as mine. very carefully and dump all its contents into one of the gutted boxes. 8 . I'm startled and swiftly look up." my father added. then whispering.

When most children my age took this opportunity to make their parents and educators proud of them. The school gets money. On Tuesday. The jog-a-thon thingy my school was doing. um. dad. until I had two. I pretended to look embarrassed. I took it as a good way to scam. The school sent the children out into their neighborhood with a sponsor sheet. She gave my hair a rustle. knocking on doors and giving people my spiel. two weeks prior. nearly filled-out sheets. where. I kept one safely tucked away in my room and turned in the other to my school. everyone is happy. You know. the kids have a good time. When the jog-a-thon was over. They knock on doors and ask adults if they would like to sponsor them in the school's jog-a-thon. To say my brain doesn't quite work the same as most seven-yearold's would be a bit of an understatement. After leaving each house. when the papers were due. Back and forth. My father never lost his cool. the teachers handed back the sponsor slips and the kids went back around the neighborhood and collected the money. that. On Friday. I had hit a lot of houses. I went up to my teacher and told her I had somehow lost my sponsor sheet and asked for a new one. "I didn't steal them. may I ask. I began walking from house to house. I would swap out the sponsor sheet. They could either donate a flat rate or choose to donate a certain amount per lap that the jogger completed. The kids would then turn in their sheets to their teachers to prove they put in the effort. didn't you? After I specifically told you never to steal from a store. he would tell me later that that was one of the con-men's golden rules. "You have no money and I know you didn't take it from me." His voice remained eerily calm. The sponsor sheets were handed out on Monday. where did you get these M&Ms?" The smirk had vanished and been replaced with a deathly serious straight line of lips. I would hand them my sheet and clipboard and they would write in the amount they agreed to give me and I would tell them I would be back next Thursday to collect. was in fact. Most were happy to donate a few dollars. reached into her drawer and pulled out a fresh sheet. At the end of the week. I promise. well. you turn your sponsor sheet back in. jog-a-thon thingy my school did?" His eyes narrowed at me. back and forth." "So you bought them? Well. a fundraiser of some sort. did you get the money to do that?" "Um. this time with an envelope full of your donations. You stole them. I bounced merrily on my way."Fin. 9 .

resting his forearms on the backrest. month after month… you get the idea. wash. Rinse. repeat. age seven: zero year There's nothing new here. the world and its inhabitants are on one. For the greater good. Put the address you want the letter to be delivered to in the top left corner and write your address. or a fake address front and center. the more they are the same. Day after day. I returned to the houses and collected the money. but by now it doesn't matter. decades. You may try and take a sip. an argument could be made the human race is evolving. To send a letter for free. Honestly. Life is like that. You try and get it with your straw but it just won't budge. week after week. Growing smarter each and every day. I didn't know. I explained to my father that I had used that money to purchase the M&Ms so I could turn those into even more money. Time goes by. But they're not. More lessons I am pretty sure they do not teach in school. then "forget" to put a stamp on it. folks. It will be delivered as Return to Sender. just like each generation's Mr. The soda is lost.When the jog-a-thon was completed. but throw them in with the population as a whole and they're drowned out like a man's silent prayer in a war zone. Any idea you have has already been someone else's idea which has been someone else's idea. The straight line parted into a toothy grin." And that is when it all started. simply reverse the address. Wizards and Beakmans. The more people claim to change." he said. They become like that last little drop of soda left in your glass that gets buried under all the ice. They never have been and they never will be. "Son. but all you're really doing is drinking water now. if you think about it. centuries. "I think I need to tell you a few things. the ice melts and becomes one with that daring last droplet. I was seven. The school was only expecting one sheet and a certain amount from me. I was later informed that you would need a winning bag code to coincide with all the red M&Ms. flipped it around and sat. every generation has their brainiacs. Based on technological advances over the years. True. never-ending cycle. I turned it in and then kept the other sheet and the envelope full of money for myself. Whatever faint taste left in the water may be what a 10 . My dad pulled out a chair from the kitchen table. but hey.

Every one of you. always will be. It's what makes people people. If you don't believe me. It's what pushes them from one day to the next. Money. I assure you I am actually quite lovable. Oh but you are. Wonderful greed. Maybe you won't believe my story. folks. Repeat. cruel asshole. My point here. You feed off of your greed and I feed off of you. It's like this everywhere. Maybe you'll say No way did that really happen. like I said before. there is nothing new here. Mouths open. I should have just said that in the first place and saved us a little time. And it's what makes people vulnerable. Still don't believe me? Think of an area in your town. Now go to this area and wait for two-a. But with the ice constantly melting. to hit. The things that motivate you. People fall for the same tricks over and over. no one is that dumb. Still don't believe that you're dumb enough to be scammed? Well. Doesn't even matter which mall. my friends. When paying your bills. Scams like mine are as old as the hills. let me ask you this: Have you ever bought a lottery ticket? And now I'll ask this: Have you ever won the lottery jackpot? Believe me now? I thought so. It's what makes people predictable. see what comes staggering out and tell me you truly think the population is growing in intelligence. Without greed I would not have a job. My bad. Always have been. is that people are stupid. always ready to react at a moment's notice. waiting.m. eyes glossed over. sitting. or any other that is heavily populated with bars. Rinse. I hope I'm not coming off as a heartless. tucked away into the far corner. And greed. it's an uphill battle. I am merely 11 . enclose your check in the envelope provided and do not write your return address. Pee in a swimming pool. Perhaps. go to a mall on a Sunday afternoon. Wash.generation left behind to make the world a better place. You have greed to thank for that. Watch these living mounds of death lumber from store to store. Put a one-cent stamp on it and mail it away. It's inevitable that you've been scammed and will continue to get scammed. Now you believe me. Sex. The letter will be delivered with postage due and with no return address. the company will almost always accept the charges due to the payment enclosed. That illustrious little life form that lives inside everyone's brain. Greed controls everyone's destiny. That motivate everyone. ladies and gentlemen. So.

He said we were confidence men. leaning towards me. often with much more success? Rinse.000. Let's continue. This was years ago. way back when. About what things were like before I was around. though. was going to sink the boat. Hell of a plan. but he was caught by his crew and actually drowned with the sinking ship after the crew locked him away. He stockpiled all the corn back home. As it turns out. my lovability is crucial to my job. in this case. Total value of the watch: $70. Are we good? Great. was finally delivered. My dad said there was no reason it would have stopped with him.. Again. he would borrow money and agree to pay it back with interest when his cargo. we mustn't forget my father's amazing sleight of hand and ability to outrun most of the country's population. keep the money. The way the bottomry worked was. a TV tray and about twenty minutes standing behind the Sands Casino in Las Vegas. What Hegestratos did was. repeat. If the money was not repaid. The M&Ms scattered across the table and the fifty-six dollars I had remaining in my pocket proved that the trait would continue on trucking. shall we? My dad sat backwards on his chair. (I mean. 12 . around 300 B. Total cost for my dad to acquire said watch: Five dollars to purchase a fake Rolex from a Chinaman he knew. the corn and the boat would be acquired by the lender. Scammers. my Great-Great-Great Whatever. a boat load of corn. even though I couldn’t even guess where they originated. How many times has it been duplicated since. The diamonds glistened and produced a near-blinding shine. a hell of a plan. Flim-flams. referred to back then as a bottomry. The sunlight from the window behind me was dancing across the Rolex watch he was wearing. Hegestratos set sail with an empty boat. bent playing cards. arms folded. Matchstick men. Several generations. I actually come from a long line of crooks. you would find evidence our family is tied to a Greek merchant named Hegestratos. Besides. Well. came up with a plan. He explained to me what we were. He told me about his life.C. the cost of three old. wash. Also. what the hell is a flim-flam?) My old man said if you traced our roots back far enough. he took out a large insurance policy. basically. really.trying to establish a point. return home and sell the food. There were a hundred names and every one of them fit.

There are a few sure fire ways to spot a fake Rolex and not end up shelling out thousands for a piece of China-made shit. Rederick Hollins. you've got a fake. If the number below it is not magnified. you've got a fake. I apologize. take the back off and look at the guts. I didn't really understand the story. If the case-back is clear and showing the inner workings of the watch. He took aim and began blasting the gold deep into the side of the rocky walls. the most obvious. too many times to count. Rederick broke up the gold into fine. One. began mining for gold. Look and study this sticker from all angels. loaded them into empty shotgun shells and walked into his cave. I'm off track. with no such luck. If the case back is solid but has an engraving on it. Back to my family heritage. who in the mid-1800s owned a quite worthless bit of land in North Dakota. I forget who he was to us. you're on your way to being a proud Rolex owner. such as the Rolex logo. and as far as anyone knows. after showing proof to them there was gold to be had inside and saying he was simply too old to dig. flip the watch over. On this land was a small mountain with a cave-like opening. pebble-sized pieces. If the pictures shift. If you're still unsure. like my dad has sold to rich white people in expensive suits. Now. punch the salesman in the face and leave. you get the idea. got away scot-free. there should be a holographic sticker back there as well. He decided to make his own luck. over the date on the crystal. trying desperately to strike it rich. called the Cyclops. is to look at the glass bubble. but I was oddly intrigued. walk away. The light caught my dad’s watch and a kaleidoscope blinding reflection directly into my eyes. He left town. If the picture is flat and still.That was the first bit of family history my father every shared with me. He told me he heard these stories from his father. He found another miner who had more luck than him. My dad said we had another distant relative. If the number is R863698. Our dear relative. or why he was sharing it with me. abort the sale immediately. My dad said that scam was called salting and it has been around for as long as there was money to be 13 . That's a guarantee. who heard them from his father who… well. He then sold the cave to two fools for an outrageous sum. remove the watch band and check for the serial number between the lugs. If you're a sucker for a bargain and still not convinced. slit his throat and stole his gold. If there is one single piece of plastic to be found inside. then you've got yourself a phony. If the watch is being represented as brand new. I had to squint and turn away briefly. or its whereabouts.

sweaty from condensation. Alex Hollins." he told me. before they could put the finishing touches on the outside. two rolls of painters tape and a Super Big Gulp. told me to go get my shoes on. he tells me this is his job. "That shows you've got spirit. if I stick with him and let him show me the ropes that I will never be caught. In due time. my old man. but I think that's bullshit. though. despite being abandoned for reasons unknown. My dad went on like this for quite some time. He says he's never been caught. a couple hours' worth of gardening and a Now Renting sign posted out by the street. I had thought I simply had a good idea when I set out with my scam. Daddy. it turns out. sitting comfortably on his forearm. whatta ya say you and I hit the town. With a few touch-ups. My dad. Right now. "Hell of a plan. the scam would be begin to take shape." he tells me. still leaning in close. I can feel his warm breath flow across my face. Laid out on the floor beside him were several paint brushes and rollers. his chin hanging over his folded arms. California. I had no other choice. He says. He says he's been running cons on people since he was just a little older than me. And brains. "we'll clean this mess up later. they would need to fix up one room on the 14 . my feet dangling near his shins. either. It's evolved and he told me we would even be using a version of it. several times. But not for us. that I was bred for it. I remember being completely enthralled. Several. "I love you. He lifted me up out of my chair. He stood up from his chair and walked around the table towards me. too. I say. still looked presentable." Our foreheads still touching. I ran off towards my room.made. nodding towards my table filled with M&Ms. where it all began Two years before I was born. waiting for his partner to return." "Come on. He says he has a set of rules that he follows to a T. Sport. It's a good combination to have. "I love you." he said. happy as can be without a care in the world. The outside of the building. I believed him. he set me down on the floor and patted me on the behind. of course. He rustled my hair with his right hand then pressed his forehead against mine. He told this story to me in great detail. He tells me about the dangers involved. grab us a pizza and play some video games?" And with that. he says. But. was sitting in the center of an empty room located inside an abandoned apartment building in Santa Monica.

returned from the hardware store. often it will be placed on a discount rack for dirt cheap. That was their job for the day. Japanesey." he had told my father. since sunlight was flooding in from the large window facing east." my father had told him. there was always a way to steal without really stealing. too. the room was completely without electricity. Again. That wouldn't be a problem. To own a house or building you don’t actually own (for a short period of time) remove all For Sale signs out front and simply pick the locks and replace them with new locks to which you have the keys. your partner walks into the store and purchases the returned paint. people wouldn't even notice there was no artificial light and with the cool breeze coming in off the ocean. my dad's partner in crime. We have to be done before the sunlight dies. My father used to tell me that all the time. no big deal. With enough natural light. quite literally. Sure. "Great. though. they were fine as far as that went.inside. Next. The padding underneath wouldn't need to be changed. 15 . even though most of the time you don't even need one. Many major chains feature a no-questionsasked returned policy. Gordon Gillingwater. which shouldn't be a problem. like never blatantly stealing from a store and risk being caught. Also. you get the idea. using any excuse you'd like. Go in alone and select the custom color you want to purchase and have the employee mix it for you. Unable to restock the custom paint. there. because really. "I got the paint back. they would call it. Shortly after you make your exit. The next day. go into a hardware store which has a fairly lax return policy. Thank him. Subterfuge is all that matters in a con. who gives a shit? So. They didn't even have to be careful with it. the paint in the room was old and peeling. To get paint at a discounted price. lessons they do not teach in school. since it didn't matter if the old carpet got messy. The store has no use for it. As it stood now. So. either. Home Depot. The show room. "Pour some in the trays and let's get moving. such as Lowes. two one-gallon paint cans dangling from each hand." Never buy something you can steal. there were always ground rules. it can't be sold as new and they are marked down ridiculously cheap to ensure they don't take up space for very long. as dad knew a carpet layer and could get scraps for practically nothing. but if you thought long and hard about it. Easy Peezy. return the paint and get your money back. purchase it and be on your way. the carpet was ruined. the temperature would be comfortable. it's all about quick glances and first appearances. boss.

They would be long gone before that. cutting everything to fit perfectly. With the ad placed and paid for with a stolen credit card. The first person to come by was a man in his mid-twenties. It gave the address and said the apartments were on a first come first serve basis as to trump up the attendance. mix one-eighth cup of fabric softener with a couple tablespoons of baking soda in a normal sized spray bottle. My mother had typed up legal (looking) documents for the renters and my dad kept them in a nice stack on a small table just inside the entrance. He and Gordy stood outside the building. of course. with no socks. my dad and his partner begin painting the walls. in their suits and ties. The man was sold. My father told him to bring a cashier's check for first and last month's rent plus a security 16 . the room looked brand new.With the paint in the tray and their brushes in hand. Furnished units would also be available. my father and his team were ready. They returned the next morning. Chicks love the beach. the cool ocean breeze filling it and everything sprayed down with a homemade liquid freshener my father should have patented. but that was unimportant. When all was said and done. My father and Gordy showed him around the apartment. paint dried. explaining that all the units were more-or-less identical. To stick it to the company that stole my dad’s idea and make your own Febreze. the outside of the building looking fantastic and one apartment and the hallway leading to it in pristine condition. Fill the rest of the bottle with hot water and shake for a few seconds. When one coat dried. and began ripping up the soiled carpet. they applied the next. a V-neck t-shirt doing a poor job of concealing his hairy chest and a sport coat with those horribly outdated elbow patches. First and last month's rent plus a security deposit moved you in. until their paint ran out. he and Gordon began laying it down upon the shit-soiled padding. They trumped up the story of their property by saying that with the beach so close. natural light. That’ll learn ‘em! My mother stayed at home and phoned the newspaper classified section and placed an ad for apartments to rent in Santa Monica. It shouldn't take long. the building was set for demolition. meeting guests as they arrived. Potential renters began dropping in the very same morning the ad went live. there would be plenty of women nearby. Their next step was the exterior. tan. Grey boating shoes on his feet. just as my father predicted. fresh paint. With the carpet scraps from my father's friend. Short corduroy shorts. Fresh carpet. It was important this room look perfect. Three weeks from then. located near the beach.

I turn my head and focus on various objects around the room. They gathered up the cashier's checks and portfolios of renter's information and walked right out the door into the cool night air. By the end of the weekend. My dad said the move-in date would be exactly three weeks from that day. We're sitting in an upscale restaurant in Valencia. "Study everything about them. California. my father already cutting me off. He says. "You should see something familiar in the eyes of a crook. Is it combed and cut nicely. telling me to be careful not to stare. He says. or is it ratty and unkempt?" My dad tells me that these questions." 17 . The day after the building was set for demolition. pretending to be bored." My father informs me the eyes are the windows into the soul and very rarely lie. and began speaking. I think she is older than the other two ladies." He nods in the direction of a lady sitting with two other. three's company "You have to learn about people. He said he could not guarantee the unit until money was inhand and all the paperwork was properly filled out. The man agreed and said he would be back later that day. son. "Well. That was their last night in Santa Monica. He tells me I should be able to spot another criminal just by making eye contact.deposit. Go on. Look at their hair. among others. criminal to criminal should produce a zero rating on each other. I am supposed to do just with information provided by innocent glances in a mark's direction. you'll be able tell everything you need to know about a potential mark just by looking at them and studying them for a few minutes. can help you gain information about the person's personality. but I don't think she is their mommy. just as my dad had known." Mandatory life lessons for an eight-year-old child. younger looking women. I believe they are co-workers. He tells me that's how I will know who to stay away from. "Tell me what you think about her?" "Well. for starters. or frowns. "Take this woman for example. they had a total of forty-nine renters for an eight-apartment building." My father says to me. you're right about that. Look for any signs of craziness. eighteen thousand dollars richer." "Good. "When you get good at this." I said. What I am supposed to do. See if the person generally smiles a lot." my dad tells me. He says. I say. "Take special notice to their eyes.

He returned a few minutes later. Buddy. how is it cut?" It's short. My father began laughing. My mark's heels are higher than her friends. is to sniff out potential creepers. Look at all three of them quickly and tell me one more difference. now you're missing one vital thing. The man stood up and shook his hand and as our waitress walked by my dad got an embarrassed look on his face and nervously told her 18 . They are all dressed the same. one brown. They were also pink. The menu didn't list any prices. Two different colors. saying stuff like Oh my god. Look at her hair. My father even stood up to introduce me and him to the man." "Good. I guess he dropped his wallet when he removed his hands because the newly seated man bent over and picked it up. The food is set before us and I remember it smelling delicious. Her blouse is also silky. from an upscale place. Our mission today. I was forced into wearing a button-up shirt and a tie. my father tells me." and made an effort to hand it back to him. "You're right. despite our target being about twenty years older. the other some sort of color only found when bleaching something. as he called them. like he didn't have a care in the world. her friends are both more cottony. like those pictures in my activity books. trying to think of anything more. He said to my father. trying to find what doesn't fit." They're all three wearing skirts and blouses. kind of flared in the back. We're both drinking water. I guess. "Sir. Next week's lesson will take place in a different venue. The other two women's shoes were both black. my father is in a suit. as we very rarely used those. and thank you so much. I say "Well." I said. Dad said alcohol blurred the senses."Um. they're all kind of dressed the same. Find the differences." I turn my head. One other girl is wearing heels. "Short? Kind of punk-rocky. hands in his pockets. My mark's blouse has one more button undone than her two friends. It even smells expensive. avoiding looking at or being seen by the new couple. the other is wearing flats. quickly taking in all three woman. I believe you dropped this. I'm interrupted by our waitress bringing us our meal. The mark is also wearing high heels. He stands up and heads in the direction of the restroom. We're sitting in a restaurant I had never even heard of. Going on and on about how nice of him it was to be honest and return the wallet. not using our real names of course. I breathe in a big whiff of the sizzling plate before me then briefly turn my attention back to the table of women and see a man and woman being sat at the table directly next to us. My father tells me to hold that thought and he will be right back. Like the girl on MTV.

having what is obviously a working lunch with two much younger. but the other two are. my dad would include the man and his wife. "But. "Good job. He tells me. in the conversation. not fully understanding what he meant. My dad tells me that her bra is at least one size too small. has what she probably considers to be a hip haircut. probably divorced. He tells me that this means she will fall easily for any scam my dad could run on her as long as in the end. Odds are she can't afford them right now so makes due with what she has." my father continues.that they were old friends who hadn't seen each other for a long time. but she has none. Just being friendly. I have no idea so I answer. As the waitress returns to remove our plates. "You see the outline of her bra? You see how it seems to be digging into her back?" I look but don't really understand. I could tell the man felt pretty proud of himself and was quite happy. she was promised whatever she desired. not much money despite attempting to keep up appearances. She feels her life slipping away from her. the waitress offered up a friendly smile and walked away while my dad and his new pal were sitting down.' as he put it. then he added that the man had just offered to pay for our meal. my father 19 . My dad and his new friend laughed for a few seconds more. again thanking him for 'saving his neck." "How do you know she doesn't have much money and is keeping up 'pearances?" I ask. every now and then. While we continued to eat. also a woman like that just screams breast implants. "She's not married?" "Yes. He says he is proud of me and we finish our meal shortly after." he tells me. "this is just a training exercise. She is dressed in younger looking clothes. "The woman isn't wearing a wedding ring. So was my dad. then laughed. I was supposed to be going back to work. I'm confused. son. I glanced back at the table of women and realized what I had been missing." and he smiles up at me. I say to my father. When they weren't looking. Any line of garbage I feed her would work. married women. leaning in as to not be overheard. and you have yourself a woman who is desperately holding on to her youth who is ripe to be taken advantage of from a handsome man such as myself. My dad continued talking to him." "Good job. "but add up the evidence. today. My dad tells me to look closely at her back. She spends all her money on her outward appearance and has old undergarments." my father says. And what does that tell you?" my father asks. We won't be scamming anyone today.

I am eight years old. What my father does now is something I am no stranger to. You'd be amazed who you can fool simply by folding a ten dollar bill a certain way. He glances towards the front of the restaurant and waits until our waitress is up front. It's simply amazing what one can achieve with a little punctiliousness. and give the waitress a nod or a wave. my father's finger staring at him. folks. Or at least. I make like I am heading to the bathroom and duck out the front door when no one is looking. then he will tell her to hide the money and check so the mark's don't see. probably saying he'll go have the bill adjusted to accommodate the bottle and off he goes to our waitress up front. Write up an official looking letter and mail it from somewhere out of town. addressed to the police department with attention to the citing officer. seems like such a waste to have to pay for them out of pocket. the officer who gave you the ticket must show up to court. Try this. the man will see them standing there. My father will tell her that the hundred will cover the bottle and a very generous tip. Find out your court date. My dad will saunter out of the restaurant like he owns the place and to the street where I will have his car waiting for him. The people at the table. In order for charges to be filed. Do not include a phone number. agree to the bottle of wine and they say their friendly goodbye. my father says something along the lines of "Our dear friends over there are insisting on picking up our bill. Nothing new here. These meals are ridiculously expensive. as he wants the wine to be a surprise. In detail. The officers are paid for their court appearance so most of them show. To get out of paying a speeding ticket. Since the will was handwritten." He will point to the table.makes another show of chatting up the table next to us. the waitress will look at the table. preferably out of state. My dad takes the check from our table. what looks like a hundred. these days. shakes the wallet-man's hand again and tells them he would like to buy them a bottle of wine. of course. there will be a lot of red tape to clear up and it 20 . Before the waitress can verify properly. She will tuck the money into her apron or pocket and go retrieve the bottle of wine. He then slides me his keys and tells me to pull the car around. To her. just a simple address from whatever city you mailed the letter from. A hundred. My dad stands up. describe how a member of the officer's family has died and there is a hand written will which leaves the officer and his family a nice chunk of money. my dad will insist on purchasing the wine for them and pull out a single bill from his pocket. demand to have your day in court.

would make things less complicated if all parties involved were to show up to an official reading. even after business hours. Then skip out of that county. that date is the same date as your court appearance. where it all began My dad met his partner Gordon in the summer of 1979. The mark. fast cash from the bank was always readily available. After doing a quick evaluation of his mark. He would tell the kid that they're "kind of hot" and he needs to unload them fast. would be interested. Gordon. seeing the amazing opportunity before him. Show up to court in your best suit and act confused when the officer forgot all about you. he would lure him over to the van and explain the details of his merchandise. or had a husband who did. driving a convertible or had a tattoo. There are a hundred ways to run this scam and the way Gordon was playing it on this particular night was whenever a kid walked into the store. The store won't take a return because he… whatever… and now he is desperate for anything he can get. What Gordon was doing is literally called the White Van Scam. if the young man was wearing a tank top. My dad returned to his car with his PayDay candy bar and his soda and sat. The mark could go take however much money out as possible. Wouldn't you know it. that would be the exact selling price. or whoever. would probably tell a different tale. Gordon was posted outside of a convenience store one night when my father happened to stop in for a quick snack. If the mark was a woman. watching Gordon sit in the back of his white van. Life lessons not found in even the most prestigious of schools. If the woman had any interest in music. He sat back there with low-end speakers. being represented by the boxes as high-end speakers and trying to con local college kids living on their own into purchasing his crap stereo equipment. Perhaps he bought these speakers for his wife as a gift. Gordon would spin him a yarn about him working for an electronics store and getting these speakers sent to the store that weren't on the invoice. about fifty-percent of the time. but now something awful has happened and he needs quick cash. For instance. A tale of boo-hoo bullshit. she would recognize the opportunity and jump at the chance to profit from the con 21 . and with the recent expansion of the automated teller machine. and as luck would have it. he would tell his story.

He’s still the only person I’ve ever met with gray eyes. the boxes didn't even need to be filled with stereo equipment. Gordon thought he was police and began to panic. If ever tempted to purchase merchandise from a parking lot. That's not really important right now. The con. would be long gone. is feeding off her sympathy and of course. load the crap speakers into the back of his car and drive off. Let's just say that since the invention of those flat televisions. always make sure to see a bill of sale. looking at them with those sad-filled gray eyes. waiting for the mark to tell him what he wanted to hear. LCD television on the market. unblinking. of course. In fact. if you get a little too snoopy anyway and catch the con in his grift. Always has and always will. my dad sat in his car until Gordon hit his mark. but rarely do people follow their own words of wisdom. however. Gordon was closing up shop when my dad exits the car and walks towards him. If packaged correctly and sealed correctly. Anyway. Even if he does. or receipt. the grifter won't have one prepared. her greed. anyway. My dad said. because fuck people with gray eyes. Gordon. no more than eighteen or nineteen. Gordon would just stand there. some forty years later. This scam is still running. you are too smart to fall for something like that. then offered him a job. you're likely to get knocked out so he can make his getaway unimpeded. give the glass a nice polish. I've even run this scam from time to time when low on funds. Chances are. I’ll give him that. After all. Paint the outer area black. By then. they would realize they had been conned. Everyone says that if it's too good to be true. which is a good thing. He was good at it. do yourself a favor and skip parking lot sales in general. Right? And ya know. so I'll just skip over it. My dad calmed him down by congratulating him on the successful grift. at first.man's misery. No one can pass up a deal. Anyway. throw it in a box you can find in the dumpster behind an electronics store and you're ready to sell some poor sucker that latest flat screen. or whomever. He watched some kid. they could easily pass for brand new merchandise and it wouldn't be until much later. It works. or if he didn't really purchase the equipment and swap it out with shit. 22 . Break into any abandoned house and steal the doors off of the ovens. the con has become a lot easier. it probably is. It's all about subterfuge. He can even peak inside the box to make sure you're legit. it's no guarantee the receipt is real. upon the mark's arrival home.

before he could say anything. as well he should have been. Without this violin I have no job. After a month of practice and getting each other's rhythms down. "Sir." Gordon said. "Sir. wreaking of confidence and wealth. is any plot device or object of desire. He sees this 23 . showed him the ropes and the two eventually became partners. making a show of patting his pockets. He would say. I can run home. as to tell it he will return for it shortly. saying he will be back in one hour's time." he said to the bartender. then turn to leave. retrieve my wallet and return within the hour. of course. please. Anyway. the bartender is hooked." The bartender would let out a heavy sigh. His story would be that he was stepping in for a quick nip before a very important business meeting. would look upon him with suspicion. keep my violin as collateral. He takes a seat at the bar. By the time the bartender makes his way over to him and asks what he'll have. Blah blah blah. Gordon drank his whiskey. By this point. Across his lap was a violin. I will certainly return for it as it is my only means for money. Gordon sat at the bar of a swanky hotel wearing a ripped and mildly dirty sports coat. stood and reached for his wallet. dingy jeans. I do not return." My dad will still be caught in the magnificent spell radiating from it and ask the bartender to see it. stationed across the street. would then strut into the bar. and the three of them began working their cons. Gordon would walk out. "Oh dear. set the violin on the bar. by the way. It’s unimportant to everyone except the key players around. Gordon will touch his violin once more. my dad's attention will be solely upon the violin next to him." The bartender. said he'd be right back with money to pay and to pick it up. perhaps roll his eyes but Gordon would cut him off before he was able to say anything. locates the violin and become transfixed with it. Ever seen Pulp Fiction? That briefcase is a classic MacGuffin. My dad. He will ignore the bartender's question and quickly steer the conversation towards the MacGuffin. forgot his wallet.Gordon was skeptical at first. Gordon would cut in. my mother. certainly a violin is worth more than one whiskey rocks. but again. A MacGuffin. old sneakers and a top hat. holding his gaze until the bartender agreed. And if by some chance. wearing his most expensive outfit. He was introduced to my dad's wife. but my dad took him under his wing. my dad will ask about the violin and the bartender says "some guy left it here. the bartender watching him the whole time. left it for collateral." Gordon would give him his most sincere look. "I assure you I live quite close. "I seemed to have forgotten my wallet.

examining every inch of the wonderful instrument. duck into any deli that has a fishbowl sitting on the counter. In actuality. sounding annoyed and frustrated. Asking if it is rare or expensive. The bartender will be in shock and probably offer to sell it right then and there. depending on his honesty. My father will tell him to please pass it along to the man who owns the violin and my dad will promise to be back in two hours if the owner is willing to wait that long. To enter. picked up at a yard sale or thrift store for pennies. If he is honest. Today. My dad will sigh. will have no idea. the bartender would believe it's the most valuable item on the planet. but the way my dad will weave a tale of such beauty and rarity. Asking if my father knows what it is. he will offer to sell it right there but it will be my dad who suddenly remembers it is not the property of the bartender. the bartender will tell him the man said he would be back in one hour. will play this out one of two ways. Gordon will walk back in five minutes later with a few bucks in hand and pay the bartender. my dad's name is Harry Sellick. of course. Broker of what? Nobody gives a shit. Broker. My dad will then leave the bar. nonchalantly reach your hand into the glass and pull out a handful of business cards and quickly shove them into your pocket. sort through them all and decide which ones are keepers and can help you run your con. 24 . just drop your business card in the glass bowl. He will turn it over and over. he will remind my father that the violin is not his to sell and that he must wait for the owner to return. Order a sandwich and while it is being made. in turn. He will say he has to be in a meeting in less than ten minutes and will offer the bartender his business card. Either way. My dad will pick it up with all the care and lovingness of holding a newborn child. "Do you know what this is?" The bartender. in his expensive looking suit and has become increasingly interested in the once worthless MacGuffin. advertising a drawing for a free lunch if you're the week's lucky winner. He will tell the bartender that he must have it. He will tell him he is willing to pay ten thousand dollars for it. If he is dishonest. walk out of the hotel and give Gordon the signal. My dad will pretend to be in awe for a few more seconds before slowly looking up at the bartender and quietly asking him. the bartender will be asking questions. The bartender. the violin is a worthless piece of shit. To get business cards to use in scams like these.expensive looking man. My dad must have it. By now. Later.

age ten Being a con man requires a certain set of skills. For one. Or two. I forget what town 25 . saying a man came in and said his violin was quite valuable and offered to buy it for a huge sum of money. "It's morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money. greed gets you nowhere. My father told me that story for the first time standing outside of a gas station bathroom. The odds will always be in favor of the con. the hot. arrested or at least fired for theft of company funds. He completely foregoes telling Gordon what happened and offers to buy the violin from him. the bartender tells Gordon what happened. there are a certain set of rules my father taught me.One. Remember folks. He is leaving town within the hour and will not be able to wait around to sell it. the bartender plays the saint. Gordon walked out. and most other con men. bringing with it the scent of dirt and oil. it's time for him to hang up his hat for good because he is officially finished. obviously. then later sells it to business man. but there is always a chance something could go wrong. down on his luck and sulking." Aside from that. for a con man to operate on a professional level. before either he or the bartender gets the idea. usually follow. and if that ever begins to change. The con man always walks away with a clear conscience. A great con man by the name of Canada Bill Jones once said. He will sit at the bar. met up with my father and the take was split fifty-fifty. Also. just to help him out since he can tell times are tough. it takes a tremendous amount of luck. being that the bartender buy the violin for a fair price. that he. the bartender is left with a worthless violin and more likely than not. this is actually how it went down. The idea. Gordon and my father. The bartender took the bar's money and paid Gordon for the violin. I remember the first time he told them to me. Gordon will act shocked. but it gets me everywhere. They both make money and all three parties involved are happy. we were sitting in a McDonalds eating a rare meal that I actually witnessed my father paying for. That was their first con together. Meanwhile. of course. You'll see how later on in my story. musky breeze blowing in our faces. there can be no sympathy towards the mark. then quickly realize his misfortune.

You need to follow these at all times while working." I remember him looking around the restaurant." he told me. pronto. Questions that you probably won't know the answer to. I’ve found when people think you’re not listening. Hell. woman. um. I agree with him?" "Yeah. Say you're running a sweetheart scam on some broad. "Son. "First. maybe 'Yeah. so it's best to change that subject." he continues on. because that could be followed up with questions. Listen to his crappy stories and laugh at his unfunny jokes. I barely cared. dipping them into honey. Never. away from the fun-zone and most patrons. but I'll never forget the details of the conversation. ever. What do you say?" "Um. look bored." "I'm ten. all the way. "when you get a little bit older." he says. Hence the name. Just don't overdo it or you'll come off as insincere. I had that maddening ability to make it seem like I didn’t give a shit. Smarty-pants. now say he reveals that he is some weird. they’ll tell you the best stuff. as if anyone there would be even remotely interested in what he was saying. "Second. Listen to whatever pointless drivel he tells you. Say something along the lines of. "Okay." I remember being confused by this and it must have shown on my face. this one will probably come in to play. "wait for your mark to reveal any views or beliefs and then agree with him. Listen. we moved around a lot. "I am going to tell you the golden rules of our profession. I'm just giving you an example. off-the-wall religion. even then. Nobody cared. "you have to be a patient listener. at such a young age. We were sitting in one of those vinyl booths tucked away in the corner of the restaurant. say you're chatting up a mark and he finally reveals that he can't believe George Bush is running for a second term. "Okay. Understand?" I gave him a nod while sipping on my soda." I nodded in agreement and continued eating my Chicken McNuggets. The simple pleasures of childhood. you are that very same religion! That one is tricky though. I don't know.we were in at the time. Clinton's got my vote." he said. You have to act like what this pigeon is saying fascinates you. son. but don't just say you agree. The goal of a con man is to gain the mark's confidence. It is never your job to bring up sex-" 26 . my father leaning across the table towards me. Okay. What a shocker." "I know you're ten.

when I looked into them. Didn't want to know. the smile still parting his face. hearty chuckle followed by a toothy grin. "Never boast. after a while. nothing that could draw the attention of some sap and have him remember more about you than necessary. the stereotypical costume for con men. As far as I knew. Never be untidy unless the con specifically calls for it."Dad!" I remember being shocked by this. as a joke. He was tall and fit. To look ordinary. make me feel better. We'll get to that later." he said. A lot of the time he would wear this black fedora he won on a routine bar bet some ten years previous. I could never tell what he was thinking. "Okay. though. and now I understand why. You always had to be able to get away quickly when things went wrong. If you come right out of the gate asking personal questions they will be suspicious. I don't know. not only are people skeptical to trust a man with tattoos. I remember. too. Con to con. If you didn't believe me. He would always tell me that being fit was important for crooks. you could have just asked him. and often times there was no other way except by foot. I love how my dad always made me laugh when I was a child. a guy would lay on top of a girl. For what reason. too." I nodded. Well. Gain their trust and they will tell you if they wear their grandma's underpants." For some reason I found that comment ridiculously funny. I do the same thing. My dad went on to tell me to never get any tattoos because. He was a handsome man. No matter how hard the times were or what predicament we were in. To this day. appear ordinary. His eyes were a glistening blue. No extreme haircuts or hair colors. had a nice tan and usually clean shaven. but that each tattoo was just an extra identifiable mark on your body. except with a different brim on the hat. "Next!" My dad laughed. even back then I could recognize that. Always look good. 27 . no piercings. okay. actually. they'll tell you eventually. he would always make me laugh. Always a zero read. not really scared. Ironically enough. It looked good on him. A con man's job was to blend in. he kind of looked like the Neighborhood Watch guy. now a days. They drove the ladies wild. I still say never trust a man in a fedora. A big. I never once was scared when he was around. This was a man who actually kept a picture of himself in his wallet. He used to go for jogs every morning. I didn't even know what sex was but I knew it was gross and I knew I didn't want to talk about it while enjoying my Happy Meal. "the next is to never pry into people's personal business. Believe it or not. Nobody likes a boaster and all it will do is draw suspicion to you and get you busted. He also told me to never ever get drunk. And naturally.

Let the mark get drunk and let him think you are matching him. I nodded and said yep then he handed me the jewelry box and told me he would be just on the other side of the parking lot if I needed him. We're at a gas station because. ever resort to deadly violence. "Never. we're standing outside and I'm nervous as all hell. I went into the bathroom. it all comes down to this moment. I hung out in there for ninety seconds then 28 . I’m ten years old and after two solid years of sitting in restaurants picking out wedding ring tan lines. Now. Then he told me thanks for listening and that I'd already mastered the first rule. always stay sober. but always drink slowly. but I stayed strong. Right now. I returned with a key attacked to a large block of wood. designer clothes versus knock-offs and never ever paying for the bill. Well. I could tell this one was important. expensive shoes. Anyway. the sensitive man my father is." My dad smiled again and told me good job. "Never. California. That is not the kind of people we are. always. enclosed room where bums poop is beyond me. leaning in even closer." he told me. the one with the hot wind and crap smell? Right. but again. bad haircuts. I looked at him intently. Outside of a pisssoaked 7-11 gas station in Fresno. So I did. I remember the smell nearly knocked me out. My first run at it. Right here. My dad asked me if I knew what to do. "One last thing. I honestly had no idea if gas station attendants were dumb or smart.There would come a time when drinking a glass or two would be imperative to the con. so I was just taking his word on it. This is it. Make it appear you've drank more than you really have. but always. He sent me into the convenience store to retrieve the key for the bathroom." I nodded but my dad shook it off and made me say it. Dreadful place. remember that gas station bathroom I was talking about earlier. He rustled up my hair and told me good luck then headed off towards a pay phone about fifty yards away. said gas station employees are stupid and will look for any chance to make an escape from working such a wretched job. my dad tells me the con I will be running. I just shrugged my shoulders at him and gave him a stupid look. a city to which I have never returned. ever resort to deadly violence. a scam he ran a hundred times way back when. Why in the world anyone would want a key to a small. It's one of the many variations of the pigeon drop. My dad said the wood was to keep people from taking the key home. white teeth. I just offered up another shoulder shrug.

re-emerged to the wonderful fresh air, box in one hand, stupid wooden keychain in the other. I walked back into the store, put the key and block of wood on the counter and when the man came over to retrieve it, I whispered, "Excuse me, sir?" The man looked at me and leaned down to hear what I had to say. I set the box on the counter and told him I found this in the bathroom. I remember the man cocking his head to the left and observing the box. He asked what it was and I shrugged and said I didn't know. He said we should open it and find out. I flipped the lid up and inside lay a pearl necklace. It looks brand new and more importantly, it looks damn expensive. The clerk whistled and looked to be in shock. The phone behind him began ringing and he told me to hold on for one second while he picked up. On the end of the line, a man told him that he recently used the bathroom there and feels he may have lost something of great value. The man on the end of the line was panicking. He spun the clerk a yarn about how he just bought an expensive piece of jewelry for his wife. It's their anniversary today and he is desperate to get it back. He asks the clerk if he has seen it. The man on the phone describes the necklace and the case perfectly and the clerk assures him it is safe and he can come down and pick it up. The man thanks him profusely and tells the clerk there is a five-hundred dollar reward in it for him or whoever found it. He thanks him again and says he'll be down within the hour. Rinse, wash, repeat. Same as before. I have to be home in fifteen minutes or else I'm grounded. Blah blah blah. I'll take the necklace home and maybe the man can pick it up from me. Yada yada yada. Bottom line, the man takes two-hundred and fifty dollars (give or take) directly from the till and hands it to me. In return, I give him the necklace. And guess who never showed up to pay off the reward money. Wouldn't you know it, here comes my father headed my direction from the payphone across the lot. We meet behind the building and he is so proud of me he can barely keep himself from doubling over with laughter. Inside, I imagined the store clerk holding the necklace, maybe even contemplating trying to scam the poor shmuck who lost it. Rubbing the pearls between his thumb and fore-finger, smiling. What he should have known, and what he has probably learned since being fired from the gas station for theft, is that to test a pearl, you rub them on the biting edge of

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your upper front teeth. If the pearls feel gritty like they are covered in sand, they're real. If they're as smooth as a baby's lily-white ass, you've just been conned. More lessons most fifth graders never learn. babies ruin everything

When my mom got pregnant, my dad was ecstatic. He would always tell me he never knew how such a dirty con like himself ever got so lucky. My dad loved me with all his heart. He still does. I was his life, especially after my mom exited stage left from our lives. My father would do anything to protect me. To keep me safe. He proved that time and time again. The news of becoming a father had, albeit temporarily, changed my father. He didn't want to live the life of a crook anymore. He wanted to settle down. Have a family. At first, Gordy was excited for them. He gave them his blessing and hung around for a while. My father and him both had money set up in a bank in Switzerland. After every grift, they would keep what they needed to live and the rest would go into the bank as a sort-of retirement fund. It was a joint account which required both men to participate in the withdrawing of funds. That's how much they trusted each other (or, in hindsight, perhaps mistrusted.) Of course, there were safeguards, in case things went awry, but for the most part, the two looked forward to a healthy retirement in a country or island far away. Because of this, they couldn't live too high on the hog or else they would risk suspicion, so for most of his life, my father lived rather modestly. He always made sure to provide for me, though. Gordy blew through his cash within a year of me being born, though and tried to persuade my dad into rejoining the game. My father declined and Gordon got pissed. He left town and began running a bunch of dirty little cons down near San Diego and most of Southern California. Gordon was an average looking fellow. Not ugly, but certainly not as good looking as my father. He was thin and fit like my dad, but his hair was thinner, even twenty-plus years ago. I have only seen one picture of him but his image is burned into my brain. Him, standing next to my father, standing next to my mother who had me wrapped up in her arms, in front of the house my parents just rented, totally on the up and up. My dad laughed at the picture at first glance, merely from the

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memory that he conned the camera and the tripod used to take the photo from some drunk photographer in a bar with a simple card trick. A NAP trick as they called it. It stood for Not a Prayer, as in, the poor rube didn't stand a prayer at winning. More on that later. Anyway, my dad's good cheer turned to glum soon after and he took the picture from my hand and put it in the drawer, locking it away, not saying another word. Why he bothered to carry it from place to place with him, I guess I'll never know. Back to Gordy. He began running nasty little cons with a couple of fellas he met up with God knows where. They stole a construction workers truck from somewhere in Arizona, brought it over to California, painted it, switched the plates and began driving through high priced neighborhoods looking for houses with slight flaws. In particular, they would look for houses with tiled or slate roofs or tarred driveways. Gordy or one of his crew would knock on the door and explain to the home owner that they noticed some work could be done on their roof, driveway, etcetera. The con would then go on to tell the homeowner a believable story of how they just finished work a few blocks over and over-estimated the job, now they have materials left over and they would be willing to work at cost plus labor at a reduced rate. A bargain. He would tell the homeowner they were fully insured and they would let their official truck be seen as an extra dose of insurance. If the homeowner was game, the con was on. Two ways this can play out. The cons go on the roof and make a lot of noise. If the mark decides to leave, one con breaks into the house, cleans it out and they make their leave. If the mark decides to stay and just watch his TV at a higher volume, the cons finish their job, ring the doorbell, let the mark inspect the work then take the money and run. The homeowner would be happy for a while before he caught on. Maybe, while they were up there, they actually nailed down some loose tiles, but your new roof is nothing more than a layer of machine oil applied over the old tiles. And your beautiful, newly tarred driveway currently drying in the front of your house is nothing more than heavy number-nine motor oil spread out nicely on top of your existing, crappy driveway. Hope it doesn't rain before you catch on and clean it, because the oil will leak off the roof and down the driveway destroying all plants, grass and trees in its path.

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Mine were spent alone in my bedroom or at a park or my backyard climbing trees. I know. but I never really grew out of that. Sometimes I would look into my neighbor’s backyards and think of ways to rip them off. My friends were pretty scarce growing up. My weekends weren't spent at the arcade with my friends or riding skateboards together. I wasn't a normal child and wasn't really into what everyone else was. I don't really know how to describe it. During the school year. I would get as high up as I could then just sit. Spy down on people who have no idea they're being watched. my father and I would stay-put. there was nary a tree I couldn't scale. I managed to only attend a few different schools. In regards to everyone else. but travel to other cities on weekends to run scams and pull cons on people. even to this day. my father used to tell me that you don't shit where you sleep. eventually I could just hug the trunk and scale up like a goddamn koala bear. I've always felt this odd disconnect with people. what you'd call. More on that later. I'm pretty sure I took this literally until I was about sixteen or so and had no idea what he was talking about. but I was just goofin' around. but for the time being. just because it's not what I want to be doing and I'm angry that other people find enjoyment in something I find to be so 32 . I get it now. In fact. I still do. The mark was an off-duty cop. Not because I am jealous or because I want to join them. In fact. A homeowner agreed to let the men do the job and no sooner than five minutes after they were on the roof two black and whites came roaring up the driveway. I used to love climbing. too. Gordon was charged with theft by deception and misrepresentation and damage to personal property from the other house-jobs they pinned on him. but it felt like we were constantly moving around. house wise.It was with this grift that Gordy got pinched. traditional childhood. with my cartoon watching and comic book reading. he was nonetoo-thrilled with my father. And fast. Awful. doing whatever and it makes me mad. He did three and a half years and when he got out. thirteen candles I never really had much of a. that was fine. Maybe when I was younger I could have just been passed off as a quiet child. If the branches were too high. But. Besides. drinking. Sometimes for hours. I guess you could say I was a pretty big daddy's boy. partying. I see people my age now going out.

When everyone gathered around me was unburdened of 33 . but that's okay. each side weighs exactly the same. They said I could play anytime then laughed as I made my exit. I knew my dad had plenty of loaded ones made and ready to go. Why would someone want to go out and deliberately make themselves stupider when you can sit in the comfort of your home. of which I already knew. When it was my turn I would grab the dice. and made my way to the stairwell. This got their attention. I instantly recognized the game and knew how I could scam them. One guy waved me over and told me a quick version of the rules. I guess there really are two kinds of people in the world. The way these precision dice are manufactured. It was so easy. I returned home and went through some of my father's stuff and found a brand new box of these exact dice. there's that. This can be done with any number of objects. These kinds of dice have their pips drilled into them instead of the cheaper kind with which the pips are just part of the mold. becoming smarter? So. Couldn't have had more than four or five steps to it. quickly remove my dice hidden in the elastic of my cuff and swap them. plotting. I made a few bad bets. I was counting on it. This was important. I walked over to them and said hi and they mostly just ignored me. but I was anxious to try this out for myself. To influence the roll of a die. Shaving even a little bit from one side will cause that one and the exact opposite side to show. Givers and takers. I said I would like to play and pulled out a few dollar bills. I made small bets when someone else rolled and large bets when I rolled. wearing long sleeves. but I used my dad's shoe polisher. I remember hustling children out of their lunch money in junior high.stupid and a major waste of time. The dice they were using were top of the line but I had a sneaking suspicion these knuckleheads didn't have a clue. Pick the number you want to come up and hold it against the buffer for a few seconds. Behind one of the buildings there was a small concrete stairwell. Losing my few dollars gave me enough time to see exactly what kind of dice they were using. I showed up to school the next morning. shave a small portion from one side. but I remember walking by one day and seeing a small group of black kids rolling dice with a few dollars bills scattered around the cement near the roll area. Sheep and wolves. that have a polished finish which makes them translucent. Turns out they were using precision dice. lost my money and walked away. usually found in casinos.

"But if you didn't want to pay. but he promised me I would love it. I wondered where he had stolen it from. Not once." I smiled and nudged him with my elbow then returned to my tub-o-calories sitting on my lap and resumed watching a dinosaur stalk that nervous fellow from The Fly remake. They would teach patience and stealthness. In the meantime. Apparently some rapper I've never heard of got his fat. we would be going all out and actually paying for our tickets and food. it is my thirteenth birthday. More on my personality issues later. pulled out a very generous cash advance from the hotel before dumping the card in the nearest trashcan. I looked confused because I had never really shown much interest in video games before. aside from enjoying hanging out at arcades with my dad. that my dad had gotten for free by simply lifting a fellow travelers wallet. a huge bucket of popcorn on my lap. You are all objects to me. I was a fine-tuned machine and you were all my prey. leaving the suckers broke and pissed off. I can probably think of a few ways. When we returned home after the movie my dad said we could order pizza. he says to me. It's the top story leading into my teen years. I honestly can't say. that day. Not that I cared either way. grab. He told me. What city we are in. God knows where or for what reason. mumbling ass plugged in a drive-by. Another thing I will always remember about my father from my childhood is that he never left the house without a deck of cards. Even from such a young age I viewed humans only as a source of income for myself. He said they had games on here that would help me with my work. Home. An old crack-dealer gets gunned down and the world mourns. we just ordered room service pizza on him and when we left. someone else's loss is my gain and my father always made sure I was on the winning side of all grifts. turn. USA. since it was my birthday. Who knows how long it took that poor sucker to realize what was missing.their money. All of this took place in under five seconds. The present I opened that night was a Nintendo 64. One-handed shuffles 34 . my dad sitting next to me. Who gives a shit? Me. then once inside. was a room on one of the top floors in some swanky hotel in Whatever City. I quickly swapped the dice again. Lift. I’m sitting in a dark theater. return. removing a credit card near the back of the bunch. then ever-so-swiftly putting the wallet back in the mark's pocket. And he could do amazing things with them. For right now.

ever trust a man with a deck of cards on him at all time. never. We ate our pizza and fell asleep on our beds watching Nick @ Nite. It was one of the best days of my life. With two. He tells me to look behind his driver's license and pull the bill out that’s folded up. if you're in a bar somewhere. my dad asked if I wanted to have some fun. He told me to look at the serial numbers. With money in our pockets. looking to run a scam and you find a betting man. He begins to lay out the odds for me. He told me to take out the cash and look it over. I said yes and we drove off into the dimly lit desert. back on the road. and. Remember how I said never trust a man in a fedora? Well. With all the duplicates.and sleight of hand tricks to make even the most famous magicians envious. then 120 to 1. but aren't. You're just going to end up pissed off and broke. and totally random. At first glance.42 in your favor. he tells me. I did as I was told and he told me how he won enough money to purchase my mother's engagement ring. and immediately understand where he is going with this. It's a twenty with the serial number 00808880. the odds are 3. I ask him what they are and my dad tells me they are player's club cards for casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. He tells me that is a fantastic bill to pull. pulling out some cards that look like credit cards. I say. JG 20010226 A. nonchalantly pull out a couple of bills from your wallet and say you'll bet him he can't guess three out of the eight numbers that make up the bills serial number. with no misses. My dad removed his wallet from his suit jacket and tossed it to me. most people will forget about zero. random little memories stick with you for so long. He said. especially if he's drunk enough. Anyway. My father takes his right hand from the steering wheel and points to the serial number and tells me to read it out loud. 35 . It's funny how certain. then 12 to 1. I laugh and begin digging through the wallet. he says. searching for the next great hustle. he tells me. which is the most common number of serials. The hotel TV didn't have the correct connections for me to hook up my new system so it would have to wait until later. He tells me if there is just one duplicate figure. Naturally. the mark may think it's the easiest bet he's ever heard. We left town the next morning. A NAP bill. then 30 to 1. there are only four numbers. the odds are 6 to 1. A guaranteed winner.

Some people seem to think dry heat is more tolerable than the alternatives. He agrees and we pull over in Baker. My dad tells me now that it's cooling down it's a good time to stop and key. He holds on to them. when he met my mother. Stories about the old days. It was a dry heat. He says to me that he's already switched the plates and the key will be ready in a few minutes. He tells me he loves me and nudges me with his elbow. shake the egg violently to break the yolk inside. I return to the car. This will hold the egg up and is easily removable after the bet is won. she was working in Hollywood as a make-up artist. find one of these common cars without an alarm. My father still has a few of her makeup kits at home. to balance an egg on end and win a bet. First. filing away. after my dad made a quick stop to "switch. stories about my mother. though. cars that are a dime a dozen on freeways. my dad and I talk about anything and everything. for some reason. which was currently reading. The sun is setting behind us which means we must have been in California. then it will balance like a Weeble Wobble. It's always a Toyota Camry or a Honda Civic. at nearly seven o'clock at night. mostly B-grade horror flicks. but still impressive. assuming you have one tucked away in your luggage at all times like my father. just nice chit chat. let it settle. but never really wanted to bring it up. Even before. They're easy to spot since alarms like to advertise that they're armed. Common cars. something nice.On our way through the hot desert. a town with a giant thermometer. rub a little water on the bottom of the egg and apply a few grains of salt. I ask if we can stop at a gas station so I can use the restroom and get something to drink. 104 degrees." as he called it. I've peaked inside a few times and was intrigued at the zombie props and what-not. There are a few main key points to stealing an automobile. My dad impressed her with his card tricks. He tells me he's sure. I'm not one of them and I'm already counting down the minutes until I'm out of this frying pan of a podunk town. He tells me how. The car we're driving in is similar to the type of car we always travel in. They met at a bar behind Paramount Studios in 1977. I open the passenger door and step in and ask if he's sure he didn't want anything. Pepper in my hand. to 36 . He even named off the movies she used to work on. but not noticeable. Use a slimjim. my dad had shared this story with me on numerous occasions. bladder empty but ready to fill it back up with a giant Super Tanker of Dr. This I had already known about. Or. He tells me. I see the car we're parked next to is identical. and see my dad sitting in the driver's seat of the Camry.

find the red coil wires on the engine. He usually does this a lot sooner. this is a feat that can be done in less than one minute by my father. so always know your cars. while under the hood. check the car's break lights. On modern cars you have to be especially careful not to set off the side airbag. You don't want to get pulled over for something stupid. Run a wire. Sitting in our stolen car in the hot Baker heat. find an identical car. It takes practice but eventually you'll get it. Now. they'll be barking up the wrong tree and you'll be free to make your getaway. Not so much. either in the same parking area or drive a ways until you find one. if no one is around. find the starter solenoid. Get inside and rev it up to make sure it doesn't die. Cross the two terminals they're connected to with a screwdriver. Once the car is started. Only a little punk or moron would do it this way. or a jumper cable from the positive connector of the battery to the positive side of the coil. His way was classier. My father would never steal a car like this. there is no way to kill the ignition without looking mighty suspicious. while the car you're driving in is stolen. While I was inside. It may work on some cars. but not most. and without the key. Once in the clear. there is no power to the dash. you can play dumb and say you forgot your wallet. Alex Hollins: Classiest cat in town. but the less run-ins with the cops or highway patrol the better. pop the hood. Now. This will crank the engine and the car will eventually fire up. With a small electrical screwdriver. It's located in different spots on different manufacturer's vehicles. Now. the one on the lookout for will be the car with which you just switched the plates. Without the key. but I guess he was feeling adventurous. then drive away happily. And remember. always always always obey the traffic laws while driving a stolen car. There will be a small wire at the top of the solenoid along with the positive battery cable below it. This will destroy the locking pins and enable the car to be started with a screwdriver.unlock the driver's side door. and switch the license plates. If you're in a bind and need to make a getaway fast. Presto. I know that in movies you'll see the car thief touch two wires together under the steering column and off they go. he switched the license plates 37 . use a small drill and drill into the keyhole about two-thirds of the way up from the little keyhole flap. He called it uncivilized. Once inside the car. which they're not. my dad is using a file to make a key. You can memorize the owners name and address from the registration. If the cops are even bothering to look for a stolen car. now your dash has power.

I had no idea what this meant. take an uncut key like you would buy from any hardware store (my dad kept a Ziploc bag filled with them. I was wrong. "Got it.again." my dad says to me. I never in a million years would have thought my dad would want to return to the wretched City of Sin. it would cause even more confusion and allow us an easier drive. It takes skill and patience. Take a file and saw away at all parts that had the marker rubbed off. To make a key for a car. Either way." my dad says to me. though. With an average response time of around three hours for police to take a stolen vehicle report. Then. all different shapes and sizes) and color both sides of the silver metal with a black marker. If the guy in the car next to us was headed back into California. though. With the ink still wet. or any tumbler-based lock for that matter. but my father has this mastered and can have a brand new key made for a car he just stole in less than five minutes. It should only move a millimeter or so to both sides. we should have been one state over and two license plates away from the crime by the time the local pigs even showed up and pretended to care. I remember him telling me Viva Las Vegas as we merged. smiling. we were home free. bright lights city Want to get a room in Las Vegas without all the hassle and bother of reservations or payment? Try this: Go into a hotel and buy a large sum of chips. carefully remove the key. shall we?" He inserts the key into the ignition and gives it a turn. The engine fires up. holding up a newly minted key. "Let's try it out. I was smart enough to put it together. Finnick Hollins: Boy genius. We were headed to Las Vegas. go to a 38 . carefully insert the key into the ignition and gently turn in back and forth. We soon took the Frank Sinatra Drive off-ramp and returned to the city of my father’s long-buried heartache. "On the first try. but when I saw the giant pyramid with the bright light pointed towards the heavens. To be fair. Take those chips to a different cashier and cash them in. We did this often. I figured we would travel five-hundred miles out of our way just to avoid it. He puts it in reverse and we head back out to the freeway. On the key should be a perfect cutline for you to follow. Then. Be sure to hand the counter employee your player's club card. In fact.

They had made a pact to not touch the account. The casinos had eyes in the sky hovering over every table. at least to their knowledge. Needless to say. With all your buy in they will practically beg for you to stay and treat you like royalty. Wash. It proved to be a bad decision. hand the pit boss you card and start over. Pit bosses lingering over the shoulders of every dealer. color up your chips and cash them back in. my father. Do this enough times at that casino and their sister casinos and eventually you will be noticed as a high roller and offered someplace to stay. Gordy and I pulled into the Flamingo parking lot on a hot August afternoon. attracting the eye of the law. aside from the money in the Swiss account. once more. After successfully scamming the casino for a suite. Gordy was all but broke. agreed to one more heist to get his friend back on his feet. Between 1970 and 1980. Especially if you tell them you're not staying there and plan to leave soon. combined with half the money of every con they pulled since 39 . Play small. depending on the outcome. My dad refused. That money. My mother. which he needed my dad to sign off on if either of them were to get a dime. or removing high dollar chips. Rinse. aside from adding to it. This was after Gordy was released from prison. I don't know how he did it. That time had not come and my father. my mother decided she wanted to spend this trip lounging around by the pool and off she went with me in tow. until they were all set to retire from the life and live abroad. finally. they concocted a mean little scam involving the placement of high dollar chips onto bets once the outcome had already been decided. my father and Gordy had stolen close to seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars from casinos all up and down Nevada without once. much to Gordy's disproval. Take the cash to another table on the other side of the casino. being sure to hand the pit boss your card. My mother was unaware of the scam and was under the pretense that this was just a getaway for them. One of them would play the straight man and provide the proper cover for the con to make his move. Hitting the tables was too risky now. In their youth.table and buy a large amount of the chips again. buy chips. A return to their old stomping ground where my father and Gordy would con dumbass tourists out of their paychecks with their sleight of hand tricks and marked cards. Repeat. I was four or so. Dad and Gordy had a plan. but he somehow talked my dad into helping him with one more big score. This is where their quick sleight of hand came in most handy. this was my last trip with my mother. shaved dice and blatant mistruths.

Only problem is that Gordy got sloppy. Anyway. They figured the crowded area and normal chaos of the casino floor would provide enough cover to remain anonymous for a while. viva las vegas 40 . or my father and Gordy. when you're as good at picking locks as I am. my dad turned and ran from the casino and returned to their hotel. Slot machines from this specific time period used an optical device for counting out the correct number of coins whenever a paying reel was hit. is currently sitting in a money-market account in Switzerland collecting about six percent interest. It is a very small and easily concealable wire with a tiny light bulb on the end and a small battery on the handle. The job of the light wand was to blind the optical reader. By this time. these locks and can be picked and emptied within ten seconds. one of them would stand guard. the machine would dispense coins until it was completely gutted. Skip on over to the one next door. My dad and Gordy were kaput and it was the last time I saw my mother. most video poker and slots use tubular locks in the front which keeps the money safe. In a panic. Nothing was the same after that. once they'd spot a crowded enough section. Fill up your bucket with coins and quickly. never hit the casino at which you are currently taking up residence. I guess Gordy wanted one more score and began picking a lock without my father's knowledge and proper cover.then. look around. With the distractor blocking the view of nearby cameras and casino personnel. My father watched the pit boss clasp his large bear-claw sized hand around Gordon's shoulder and insist Gordy follow him. but nonchalantly. Repeat these steps up and down Nevada. Their tool for this run was what is called a light wand. First. all tax free. My father was going to cash in the final bit of their coins and added the cash to his current roll of hundred dollar bills. maybe sipping on a drink and appearing far more drunk than they actually were. with the heightened security around the tables. he had his two pants pockets and four jacket pockets filled with rolls each about the size of a large skateboard wheel. They would use the same cover as before. make your way to the exit and cash in at the next casino. as soon as any winning combination was hit. Problem is. Then. and for a less romantic way to steal. With that out of commission. Dad and Gordy's plan was to hit the slot machines. At smaller casinos. the other would insert the light wand down into the coin hopper.

my dad switched the plates one more time and we headed out towards Utah. We spent the last three weeks of summer there and left with over seventeen thousand dollars and a brand new car. That night we walked around the strip. complete with bill of sale and title. I remember us stuffing ourselves sick. It was nice. he told me. It was a nice little history lesson and a good re-introduction to a city I could not remember. Excalibur. The next day.No scams. He was right. It was quality father-son bonding time. Suffice it to say." I remember being kind of nervous that my dad would get sad from being here and I wouldn't know how to cheer him up. we had a really great time. Never once did my father break off to go gamble or scheme. I never told him. but by the end of the trip. Actually. "Hey. no trickery and no thievery. no cons. He smiled back at me and told me. Me and you. I liked the castle and he could see how excited I was. He said it was a pretty shitty hotel but I didn't care. much to his chagrin. We stayed there for close to a week. at least you didn't pick Circus Circus. but he surprised me and never mentioned anything. where we would spend the rest of the summer before I was to return to school. where a parking garage stands today. We went down to the arcade near the casino floor and played some video games for a while then we went to eat at the buffet. my father pointing out various spots he used to haunt. our stolen car tucked comfortably away in a dark parking garage where it would never be discovered. I was itching to get back to scamming. of course. Just a good time. I could have sold them ocean-front property in Nebraska. He pointed out the corners and the alley where he would run his three-card monty scams and what not. he took me to this little theme park the MGM Grand had in back. It was a mini-van. He let me pick the hotel and I chose. When we left. I won't even bore you with the story. My dad said scamming Mormons was easier than falling off a log. but still… they’d be wise to remove that extra M in Mormon. That is what my dad promised me as Las Vegas came into view over the mountains as nightfall was nearly upon us. my driving year 41 . We spent the whole day there.

pardon the pun. When the money got back to him it was cleaner than a hospital waiting room. To him. Scams all my own. My dad had begun laundering his money. though. His partner was not around nearly as much and he spent most of the days just sitting around. With that problem solved. He let my dad "invest" in the business for a small cut of the loot on the back end. Now.The next couple of years were all pretty much just more of the same. it got a lot more complicated. I attended school.approved job. I had peaked at age six. healthy business. trying desperately to think of new scams. my dad got bored. That's the easiest way to get your money out of the country. actually. Problem was. with being well into my teenage years and going off and doing things on my own. with Gordon gone. leaving Vegas with roughly the same amount he brought in and filling out a tax form. He could have just kept the money hidden and used the cash whenever he needed. the two of them had planned a little getaway overseas then simply took their cash into the bank and set up the account. He hadn't touched his Swiss account for years and years. it was getting harder and harder to come up with legitimate income. my dad breathed a little easier. he kept tucked away in a duffle bag in our closet. Through his years of running cons. but with no official. that my father didn't teach me. It didn't work out to well. simply by buying in at tables then cashing out. Still in California. He had laundered money in Las Vegas long before he and Gordy split. His house was filled with top notch equipment that was easily 42 . One of them was a man named Louis Freedman. I think he assumed the money was gone. When he set up his Swiss account with Gordon. He bought a house in Glendora for fairly inexpensive then sold it when that market went up for a hefty profit. Seeing as it was impossible for the feds or anyone else to really find out how much money was coming into the joint. He used the profit to buy the house we are currently in in Bakersfield. made a few friends who I pretended to have fun with. he made a few friends in the business. A perfect front for a laundry kick. Apparently. and spent most of my evenings at home watching TV. Most of every year was pretty boring. for obvious reasons. His house was paid for. Louis had a nice little racket going with a small laundromat on the east side of town. What he did have. it had seemed like my dad and Louis had a legitimate. so that wasn't a problem. IRS.

purchased with non-laundered cash. He never stole anything. it was a recognition skill game. we're not home and not planning on being home for a while. I looked around some more and pointed to a house two up and on the opposite side of the street. I take that back. People turn them on when they leave in the morning so they don't have to come home to a dark house. He told me he hadn't stolen anything from a home yet. just sitting there. We were parked on a street in the hoitytoity Bakersfield Country Club. He told me if I ever get bored. "Now. My dad asks me. Please rob us. He began breaking into people’s houses just for some excitement. I told him and he smiled again and gave me a little 43 . Look in the windows. though. looking from house to house. and then leave undetected when he got bored or he heard them come home. He was all about the thrill on this one. but being away from the life was really getting to him. what's a good way to figure out if a house is worth robbing? Without stepping foot inside. My dad asked me which house was empty right now and I said probably a lot of them since it's two o'clock on a Thursday. Actually. He said he just parked here at random and wants to know what I think. "That one. I sat there in the idling car with the air conditioner struggling to beat the Bakersfield June heat. Not the eleventh grade graduation present I was expecting. He would break in. There never was. The last day of my junior year of high school. but said maybe one day I would need to. he said. maybe I should try it. my dad picked me up and took me for a little drive. so now was the time to learn. My dad asked me what I could tell him about this street. The rush isn't quite as great as pulling off a great con. the thrill of anticipation begins to kick in. but if you wait long enough." I thought about it a while before the obvious answer came to me. look through the families' photo albums. to say the least. He told me to make a more educated guess. It was exactly the present I was expecting. in broad day light. but what they're really doing is telling us Hey. The easiest way to figure if someone is gone for the day and not coming back until nightfall is to simply see what houses have their porch lights on during the day. but just like sitting in the restaurants before. This is when he told me about his break-ins." I told him and he smiled. sit on their sofa. I was a bit confused at first. watch their TV. He would check the newspaper the next day to see if any break-ins had been reported.

After about an entire month of my summer vacation pissed away on that. carpet is low on the list of things that need replacing if they're on a budget. The kind of carpet that costs a hundred thousand dollars just to cover the bottom floor of his big. It takes a truly wealthy man to have great carpet. every day. These are all things I need to figure out in just a few seconds of seeing it through a window. he said to me. Here in the real world. Prowl around. For starters. to pick a lock. Forget that old movie and television show cliché of using a credit card. But a rich prick who is just asking to be robbed will have the expensive stuff. wasn't exactly fulfilling them if you know what I mean. For most people. continue turning 44 . But. if it's Scotch-Guarded or has any other protectant. It's not that I wasn't having fun doing this. you'll need a tension wrench and a pick. stupid house. didn't mean I wasn't having certain teenage urges and hanging out with my old man all day. He told me that carpet is a good way to judge a man's wealth. get a good feel for the house before you do the job. I need to know if any corners were cut or if no expense was spared. I need to know if it's got a good padding underneath.nod. I would close my eyes and he would hold up two swatches and I'd have to decide. We spent several weekends at various carpet stores around town and my dad would quiz me on which carpet was the expensive one and which was the cheapo. telling me that was an easy one. Insert the pick into the top part of the lock until you feel the all the pins of the locking mechanism pushing down on it. The lock needs to be pretty goddamn flimsy for that to work. we moved on to practicing gaining entry into the houses. my dad went on. the others should be a breeze. Find the most stubborn pin of the bunch and apply enough pressure to shove it up and completely out of the way. A man with expensive carpet has expensive taste and the cash flow to back it up. My dad tells me that any asshole can buy an expensive TV or a nice stereo and still be piss poor. but I was sixteen years old. The rest of that summer was spent learning about houses. I guess I did learn a lot and it benefited me a little later in life. My dad tells me I need to learn how to spot the good stuff from the bad stuff and I need to be able to do it with a quick glance. The kind of carpet you can slide on and not have it burn. The kind that invites people like us inside. Just because I didn't have many friends. you'll need to insert the tension wrench into the lower part of the keyhole then turn it in the direction you would normally turn the key. Once all the pins are disengaged. With the hardest one finished.

like the charmer he is. they're usually behind bars. he was harmless. a few girlfriends before her. simply repeat these same steps as the lower lock will stay unlocked. Subtle. That summer my dad mentioned that I had packed on a few pounds. I would bring my dates home to meet my dad and. though. But that was okay. perhaps. at least. the girl would usually leave probably liking him more than me. Not because I had a conscience and gave a rat's ass about the women I used. Not to steal. right? I hadn't noticed but apparently he had. We worked on this the entire rest of the summer. but to get laid. though. I didn't want to turn into one of those brain-dead meat-heads you see at the gym. wasn't as smooth as my dad. I went out on a few dates. I always knew what to say and what to do to close the deal. the more I felt bad. I. but perhaps he was right and I had fallen a little out of shape. Am I even human? Are other people out there like me? Am I some sort of robot completely devoid of human emotion? I didn't really know and it made me a little depressed. If there is a deadbolt in place. Every morning my dad and I would go on a run. I just wanted to be fit.the tension wrench and the door will open. but I used the skills he taught me all those years ago in all those restaurants quite often my senior year. I'm ashamed to admit it but it worked quite well. I began working out at home a lot. My dad didn't know it. porn legal My senior year in high school was actually pretty fun. hung out with a few friends and generally had a fairly good time. and if you do. though. My dad insisted that a con man must always be handsome if he is to be successful and if I wanted to make it as a cat burglar later in life. I began feeling good about myself and my confidence level was back up. I still fit comfortably into a medium t-shirt. all I see are objects with things I want and can easily take. The more I thought about it. but because I wondered if I would ever truly find love. fitness would be a key role. When school started back up my dad returned to being bored and I returned to even more raging hormones and unattended boners. but I still got the job done. At first I hated it but after a while it became a ritual. I gave up the weight training 45 . My dad had found my mom and probably. He told me that you don't see too many lardass burglars around. but for me.

I can see tears forming in the points of his eyes as he appears to be too excited to even tell me. I turned to him and asked who he stole it from. We hit the end of our street and he points to the house on the other side. He tells me he is sorry it is so close to his house but then adds that he couldn't bear to have me be too far away. presumably. he tells me. I remember looking at them and wondering what the trick was. 46 . my father handed me a small box wrapped in the comics section of the newspaper. and ask what the other key is for. Reading my mind again. He shook his head. That would have just been weird. I realize that I am not a robot. I shake my head in disagreement. That came in quite handy a few years later. as well. I removed the lid and saw two keys laying on a piece of cotton that. On my eighteenth birthday. I tell him. and the title is in my name. One-hundred-percent on the level. My mouth dropped in shock. He tells me I am the only friend he has in the world and that he needs me close by. I was happy. My dad began a yoga routine. I tore the paper back carefully to reveal a plain cardboard box. but realizing that right then had a huge impact on my life. two down on the left and says surprise. He tells me I've earned it from spending my entire childhood dealing with him. my stamina. sensing my upcoming disappointment. It helped with my physique. but it is an amazing vehicle and one I have wanted my entire life. I tell him to shut up.and began to focus my attention on yoga. He just smiled at me. For right now. I tell him I love him. and told me that he didn't have any money left over for fancy wrapping paper. in disbelief. though we never did it together. my father tells me there is no trick. I give him a big hug and he hugs me back. It's been an honor and a treat. In the parking lot sat a brand new Vespa. again. Don't laugh. He tells me to follow him outside and I turn and begin walking behind him. I say wait. he tells me it's bought and paid for. and again I take up behind him. and most importantly. I remember looking at him and wondering what useful tool it could be. after all. Follow me. my flexibility. I tell him he's been the best dad anyone could hope for and I'm making my way over to my bike when I remember the second key. For both of us. He assures me I now own it. More love would come to me later on. came with the box. I love my father. I am absolutely floored. that's more than enough to pull me from my funk. Officially.

my dad would lift some poor shmucks wallet. As soon as I get the money I promise to come there. I skipped out on college and got a nice. Most of my dad's gym-bag cash was completely laundered and clean as a fat woman's rape whistle and he didn't have much reason for pulling too many cons. we would have made more if he'd just kept the wallets. My dad giggled like a child. quiet job working in a small. He 47 . Svetlana Well. He had written: I love you. and run off with it and I would chase him down. Hugs and kiss. but he was able to live comfortably. but i’ll just take a water The next couple of years were fun. This time he wrote: I love you. Soon. He was far from a rich man. Kisses. every now and then. Before he even had a drink made there was another chime. I turned in my chair to see my dad walk to the computer and type a quick response. obviously. at least Svetlana is a Russian name.alcohol legal. that almost always work. He would escape and I would return the stolen goods to the dumb schlub and collect a little reward. if not a little uneventful. hit send and stood back up to make his way into the kitchen. too bad Bianca is an Italian name. Soon I leave and Hugs and kiss… That is the extent of the old man’s foreign relation skills. too. Sounds Russian enough. Cannot wait. Hopefully soon I leave Russia. I can't wait to see you. For old time's sake. He sat on the couch opposite me and held up his cordless phone and nodded towards a small box plugged into the receiver. One day when I was hanging out at my dad's place. everything my dad knows about foreigners came from the Die Hard movies. my dad and I would go to the opposite side of town and pull some dumb cons on people. I couldn't see the screen too well so I got up and peaked over his shoulder. I swear. right? Yeah. I want to come there and marry you. purely for laughs. Just stupid little cons like that. but that's boring. He asked if I knew what this was and I answered honestly that I had no idea. Bianca. though. pretend to tackle him and get the wallet back. local bookstore for a few months. too baby. Outside of a crowded area in East Bakersfield. My dad shared his money with me but I still needed some sort of job so I could pay my taxes like a good boy and stay off the radar. Sure. he had his desktop turned on behind me and I heard a ding informing him that he had mail.

more panic from Ms. but still very effective. Gretch's side. no doubt. "us cons don't even have to get off the sofa to scam these suckers. He thanks her and tells her to watch her mail in the upcoming week for a new summons. My dad. Into the phone. In that time of caller ID on every phone. Gretch offers up her thanks and my father asks for her social security number and date of birth to properly look up her records and verify she is who she says she is. Gretch. "That." I laughed with some pretty intense admiration. my good man. complete with their official telephone number. "is the beauty of what is called a spoofing caller machine.O. Box that was rarely used. "In this modern age. In this case. Gretch that failure to appear for a jury summons could result in a warrant being issued for her arrest. Ms. he says. Not quite as eloquent as the old days. Probably breathing a sigh of relief. Ms. "I am from the courthouse and we have on file that you failed to respond to your jury summons. in fact. My dad. being the strong authority figure of the court reminds Ms. He tells me to open it up and pick a woman's number at random. My dad uncaps a pen from the table and scribbles some numbers down on his palm.smiled and asked me to toss him the phone directory which was sitting on the coffee table directly in front of me. wondering where the hell this is going. Gretch?" The woman presumably acknowledges that she is. "Hello. Gretch just willingly handed over her most personal of information to a con man. and a federal crime. have all the merchandise sent to it. He dials the number and waits while it rings." Now. then easily pick the lock and retrieve his goods. I do." I've heard of them but never seen one. Ms. Ms. 48 . Presumably. She probably doesn't remember receiving this jury summons and maybe even begins to panic a little. then hangs up." my dad says. I suspected Ms." he says to me. a spoofer allows you to program the name and telephone number you want to show up on a victim’s ID. my dad had programed it for the Kern County Court. would have staked out a P. Gretch would have a few credit cards opened in her name in the upcoming month or so and be held accountable for a pretty hefty bill from online shopping. the woman is probably shocked and confused. My dad then proceeds to tell her that maybe they could reschedule for next month. and my father says something like. and read the number and the woman's name aloud for him. sure.

To make it better. it was this shmuck. I wanted to see what the inside of his house looked like 49 . About things that couldn't have concerned me less. but I swear to God. but good lord! He was the main reason I began breaking into houses. Good lord. or for whatever I was doing. He would tell me how his lawn mower was better than mine. not enough plants. unless I'm playing you for a fool. Oh man. Every day it was something else. Phil Collins? Phil Collins. The guy was just that annoying. now. When he knocked. I would pretend I wasn't home. He told me how he just completely overhauled his air conditioner and how much better it was than mine. I began hiding out in my house. If ever there was a man who was all into everyone else's business. He would ask to borrow gas. You know what this jackass said? He said. How my yard had too many trees. If the coast was clear. He offered to help me fix mine. It got so bad. perhaps he wouldn't be so proud of it and wipe that stupid. Just anything and everything. I know his intentions were fine and dandy. I have the most annoying neighbor on the planet. One day I saw him and his wife leave and I got curious. shit-eating grin off his face. I knew I was in trouble right off the bat when I first introduced myself to him. He would ask if I was going to sell the solar panels I had on top of my house. too hard of soil. About nothing. I wanted to see how he lived. Like his. how he talked. I'm not a big hand shaker. but I would never see him gone long enough to actually attend it. He would talk about his job. But somehow he would always manage to corner me and tell me some mind-numbing story about something he bought at the swap meet. I would make a mad dash for the mailbox. what a yuckster! If that putz knew that at least fifty-percent of people I introduced myself to had that exact same joke. Or was outside. before I would leave the house I would have to peak out to make sure he wasn't out there. Oh! And he was a talker. No luck. but I still stuck it out and told him my name was Finnick Hollins and that I just moved in next door. Or was sleeping.bored mind and restless legs I'm sure everyone thinks this is true of themselves. How his grass was greener than mine. My tools. I always parked my bike in the garage so I could make quick escapes. Anything. Finnick Hollins. He would ask to borrow my edger.

50 . I hopped over my back fence and into his backyard. I hopped the fence and went back inside. a few cleaning supplies were missing. That's when I got the idea. here. An idea was born. No big deal. So. but thinking about it now. I needed to see if he would mention anything about what happened. the furniture was all cheap. I went to the sliding glass door and was prepared to unhinge the lock with a credit card. Sliding glass doors typically don't have the best locks and. killed the engine and came walking over to me. set it against the wall and return in when you leave. folks. Just as I suspected. I doubted it.but I would never dream of going over when they were there. My idea began to excite me. shirtless. Who would miss stuff like that? Without a sign of break-in. He hadn't mentioned the break in. He saw me. you can remove the door from the track. honestly. the table and chairs were all pressed-wood crap. I wondered if anyone would notice if I did this all the time. with his missing teeth and toes prominently on display. The TV was at least a decade old. it's not exactly like people would jump to the conclusion of robbery if say. the door was unlocked anyway so I slowly slid it open and peaked inside. just like in the movies. Not much. My father once told me to never buy something I could steal. plopped down on the sofa and enjoyed my snack. I grabbed an unopened bag of ruffles from the cabinet and a Red Bull from the fridge and walked back outside. All this time I had been going to grocery stores and wasting my money when I could have been getting everything I needed for free. Easy stuff. one afternoon. a credit card will usually do just fine. I was too afraid I would never be able to escape. closing the door behind me. when they were gone. I finally interrupted and told him I needed to get to work. After thirty-five minutes of not even being able to fake interest. In the off chance they have a pole in the tracks or a small track lock you can't get to. why couldn't it apply to the smaller things? I could easily steal every day household items and no one would be the wiser. I should have left right then but I decided to poke around a little more. I went to the fridge and opened it up. I didn't get too smug about my idea until the next day when I deliberately went outside when Burt was mowing his lawn. I assumed he meant big stuff.

" my dad answer. hidden by the side of the garage that consists of approximately nothing. It was a perfect plan. He tells me to relax. While going for my morning run I came up with the idea to carry two of those reusable grocery bags with me. I could learn who left and who returned simply by matching the cars to the houses. I would be attacked and bored into a drooling stupor by Burt. honestly. In all my years I never once saw my dad show an interest in owning a dog. I took him. No one would be the wiser. My house was in a good location. "I found him. if I was outside. I would never need to go forreal shopping again. It was on a street which ran parallel to several cul-de-sacks. "What's this?" I asked him. not this street. a t-shirt and black Converse All-Stars and walked over to my dad's place. He says he found him on the east side. no collar. No one would ever find anything suspicious about a man enjoying a cold drink and some nice shade. I showered and got dressed in some shorts. I had a plan. it was just too hot. Outside my front door there is a large area. It was a good idea. I realized that I should have been paying more attention to the houses I passed. in mild disbelief. The problem was. "He was wandering down the street. I could break into a house. It is well shaded and out of view from Burt. If I took my run at the same time every morning. When I finished my run. So. If I stayed outside long enough. Eventually. I would have people timed down to the minute when they would be leaving for work. He assures me he was wandering and lost and would have either gotten hit by a car or chopped up 51 . fill the bags with groceries and then simply walk home. down near the laundromat. maybe I could get a routine of when people left and when they returned. I knocked on the door and when my dad answered he was carrying a small. considering he stays on his own property." "He was wandering down… which street?" I ask. If I hit enough houses and took a little from each. I didn't want to go for afternoon runs because. "This street?" He tells me no. nothing. I decided I would build a deck. it became my obsession. Or if I decided to hit houses outside of walking distance. he didn't steal him out the arms of some child or anything like that. I needed to work on when they would start coming home. sleepy eyed Beagle puppy. I could still be pretty inconspicuous driving the Vespa with a couple of grocery bags.The next day I began thinking it through more thoroughly.

No we wouldn't. I have never seen my dad act this way before. sure. "No. at least. I ask him if he couldn't have come up with a little more original name.and served by the Chinese restaurant the block down from the store. He said. I ask him. He tells me if I think about the name. How long have I been gone? When did my dad turn from master thief to stereotypical. Might be fun. stupidly Caucasian dog owner. Possibly old." he told me. I just meant he was acting like a typical overweight. Luckily. But. Snoop-y. "Anyway. meh. Get it? Har har. No we wouldn't. At least he hadn't lost his taste in music." My dad turned the dog towards me. I told him about how I snuck into my nosey-neighbor's house the other day and had the idea to start stealing groceries. Mildly racist comment." I was mildly appalled. but really? Baby talk? "Well. lifted up both of the dog's floppy ears and said in some dopey-ass voice… ugh… "We're all ears. My dad's eyes grew wide and a smile crossed his face. baby talk?! I mean. overweight dog owner? He wasn't overweight. Snoopy. You know what my dad says? He says his name is Snoopy. I have an idea for us. cradling it in his left arm. what's his name?" I asked. it's quite fitting. returned home to a family that lives on the east side." Sigh. embarrassing baby talk. Or worse. only the stereo was on. My dad and Snoopy followed me into the room and my dad asked what was up. What happened here. "Why didn't I think of that?" I shrugged and he told me all those times he broke into houses he just sat there and watched someone else's TV. whatever. we wouldn't let you be chopped up or live with Mexicans. "That's ingenious. We all make them sometimes. Possibly female. "Really?" I ask him. the dog was cute and all. Looked through their 52 . He held the dog up and pressed his face against his own and began speaking in some blubbering. "when this pathetic display is over." I say. If I walked into the living room and the Game Show Network was on I was leaving. Sergeant Pepper.

He told me to come back tonight at midnight. then start all over again." he told me. "It's not midnight yet. long-sleeved thermal. and get the routines down of everyone within my range. I knocked on the door and he and Snoopy let me in. Since I walked. My dad smiled and rustled my hair like he used to do when I was a child. I stripped down to my underwear. He asked how I would not arouse suspicion. His smile grew and I could tell he was excited about another heist. "You mean to tell me I could have been helping myself to their food? That never even dawned on me! Who is going to miss a few chips or one soda?" "Exactly. on the off chance. no one would think twice about someone walking with a couple of grocery bags. "It will be fun. I informed him that I wanted to build a deck out front of the house so I could relax." I told them and walked off towards the bathroom. I told him I would always exit through the backyard. he told me we would need to steal some lumber. lumber jack I got to my dad's house around 11:30. OJ gloves 53 . I told him that if I got enough people's routines down and knew exactly when they were home and when they weren't. Once out front. I slung the backpack off my shoulder and held it for them to see." I added. Then. "And. pointing out the obvious. I could hit enough houses and steal enough supplies to last me a week. I was even seen.books and movies. Figured out their tastes. I can hop a fence with one step and be up and over in less than two seconds. hidden in plain sight. "What do you think I came to you for?" I said. "You're not dressed and ready. I will be ready in five minutes. He told me he was proud of me. fully dressed and ready to go. No one would ever know. From the backpack I pulled out a black. either. With the door closed. I decided to take a backpack with my clothes in it instead of walking down the street dressed in all black while people were probably still awake. Nobody would see me. tight black women's sweatpants. if. It would be just like neighborhood watch… but not." My dad asked what I needed his help for." I told him. that way I could always make sure I was in the clear before hopping back over.

and a black beanie. I pulled my shirt on, messing up my hair a bit, then snapped the pants out straight and slipped inside. True, they were women's but they were tight, comfortable, and most importantly, stretchy. Have you ever tried scaling a wall in jeans? Or even worse, Dickies? Trust me, aside from wearing plain tights, these pants are the best. I put my black converse back on, ran my fingers through my hair and gave myself a look in the mirror. Lookin' good. I smiled to myself, snatched the beanie from the bathroom counter and walked back down the hallway towards my dad. He was sitting at the computer typing out another love letter from Bianca, or Svetlana or Natasha. Who knew? Soon my dad would go in for the kill, crushing sad, desperate men's souls with a broken heart and robbing them blind. It was a fantastic scam and I was envious that my father had the balls to pull it off. He went so far as to open a bank account in Russia. He has God-knows-how-much money stashed away there, just waiting for us to make the trip and collect. Suckers. My dad tells me he drove by a few places earlier in the evening and checked out the situation. He went to three different lumber yards and each one used a combination lock on their back fence. He then points to the table where there are three, unopened combination locks he must have bought, or probably stole. I hear the sound of the email flying away to another unsuspecting shmuck and my dad asks if I'm ready to go. I say I am and we head out to his truck, my dad grabbing the locks and his shoulder bag on the way. The first lumber yard we hit was about a ten minute drive from us. My dad pulled the truck around back and we waited a few minutes to make sure we were in the clear. When everything appeared safe, he reached into the bag, handed me a few items and asked if I would like to do the honors. Just as my dad had said, the lock on the gate was a combination. The easiest way to get through a lock is by using a pair of bolt cutters. They're not exactly the stealthiest of tools, though. They are large, heavy and impossible to hide. And not to mention they are extremely suspicious should someone stumble upon you. You may be able to explain away other tools you're carrying, but there is little doubt as to what your giant set of bolt cutters are going to be used for. To make quick work of a lock, take a can of compressed air that you can purchase at almost any electronics store, shake it up, stick the little straw into the nozzle, hold the can upside and spray the air down into

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the lock. Quickly strike downward on the lock with a hammer and watch in amazement as your supposedly impenetrable safe-keeping device is foiled by a three dollar bottle of air. I bent down and picked up the broken parts of the lock and tossed everything back into the cab of the truck. Another important thing to remember while doing a job like this; always make sure your dome light is off and keep your doors open. It helps. And always, always, keep the engine running. The last thing you want to happen after a heist is to get into a car with a dead battery. Anything that adds time onto your job is a major negative and if there isn't another car around with the same size battery that you can quickly steal, you're pretty much busted. In case of emergencies, try to keep a bottle of vinegar in your trunk. If you didn't plan ahead, a cheap bottle of wine may also do the trick. When you go to start your car and the battery is dead, pop the caps on it and pour the vinegar inside. This will allow the electrons between the positive and negative terminals to spark up just enough energy to operate the motor for your getaway. Buy or steal a new battery soon thereafter. I open up the gate and my father and I make our way into the lumber yard. Whether or not there are security cameras here, we don't know, but it shouldn't matter. The gate was not wired with an alarm, which is a stupid oversight by them and the alarm company. They deserved to get punished for it. Another way to easily crack a top notch security system is to simply check for portable air conditioning units. This comes in handy especially if you are ripping off offices. People pay top dollar to have their homes and offices wired but forgot about this huge, gaping hole practically begging us to come in. Remember, AC units are easily removable, even from the outside. We make our way to the stack of wood we need to build my deck and we slide one long plank at a time off the pile and put it in the bed of the truck. We do this seven more times, so when we are finished, there is only one layer missing from the stack. Not even noticeable. My dad hops back in the driver's seat, I pat the sawdust off of me and close the gate, putting a new lock on. This way, to the common eye and average, idiotic hardware store employee, nothing looks out of place. If by some chance someone actually needs to unlock this gate, they will simply chalk up their inability to get the padlock off as a memory failure to the combination. They will cut the lock off and replace it with a new one. This will also serve as a heads-up to us if the lock is changed

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when we return and we will know not to risk another break-in here. With the odds of anyone missing the wood being slim to none, there will be no reason to review the security footage, if there even was any. We left the hardware store and made our way over to the east side where we hit three more in the exact same fashion. Total running time was ninety minutes and when we returned home, we had enough lumber to get a good start on my deck. We would hit the stores again in a few nights, and continue doing so until my deck was completed. It was a fun little heist and, as far as we know, not a single hardware store even caught on. This would lead to a problem for me later on when my ego began to get the best of me. But, for the time being, I was proud of our work. I stole all the nails needed for the deck from Burt's garage when he wasn't home and my father and I got to work. Neither of us had much knowledge on the subject, but we made due. When all was said and done, I had a perfect little lookout post, complete with shade, a chair and a small pair of binoculars which I five-finger discounted from Wal-Mart. Dumb hicks never even saw me. Two or three days in a row, though, while outside with my father, I couldn't shake the feeling that perhaps we were being watched. I paid extra-close attention and never saw anyone, not even Burt. I shrugged it off as nerves. a little bit about my old man, real quick

My dad was born in the heat of the summer, nineteen-sixty-eight to John and Beth Hollins, and that’s about the only solid fact I have about his childhood. Everything else I have is just subjective; bits and pieces of modest info I’ve collected over the years and managed to piece together. As far as I can tell, my father’s home was not a happy one. He’s mentioned the loud fights that would keep him up at night, the alcohol abuse from, I believe, both parents, and the eventual divorce which I’ve heard him mention exactly once. When my dad speaks of my grandfather, it’s usually in vague recollections, some off the cuff story about a random con or the time he served because of his drunkenness and stupidity, which is one of the main reasons my dad has always pounded deep into my brain, the importance of not being a worthless boozer.

56

I’ll be able to retrace my family history and find out who I really am. my maternal grandparents. so I don’t really care. if I dig far enough down. apparently.My grandmother divorced my grandpa and neither of us have any idea where she went. Not sure why. and I respect that. Perhaps my dad knows. Also thrown into the mystery of the Hollins-clan. he sure doesn’t let on. They’re not as nice to me as I remember when they’re floating through my sleep. I always figured if he wanted me to know. Sure. while my grandfather ended up dying in prison on a fifteen year wrap for armed robbery. I’m sure none of this seems important to you. But. deep down. It’s not important right now though. I never asked what happened. When my dad was eighteen he left his father’s house and never looked back. with him lying at my feet and with a gun barrel leaving an indentation in the back of my skull. we lead a life of crime. it’s a lot better than the alternative. Grandpa hasn’t been mentioned in a long. takes that very seriously. I never even met the man. though. No point in bringing up shitty old memories. Maybe one day. buried far into the darkness of my father’s being. but I know it has a lot to do with why my dad and I are so close. So. I just thought I’d share. but he is always there when I need him. I can’t seem to picture their faces but sometimes they’ll come to me in dreams. he would tell me. It’s funny. is a pain that he is too afraid to ever let me see. It’s been over twenty years since I saw them and I’m too afraid to ask my dad. I know every parent says they want the life of their child to be better than the life they had and my dad. time to knock off 57 . though. but looking back on it now. maybe he over-compensates and smothers me a little more than a grown man should smother another grown man. He never has. An embarrassment to our profession. I know. a scoundrel’s crime. He left the nest and began doing his own thing with his own set of rules. whom I actually did have a relationship once upon a time. as clear as reality. I actually have no idea what became of them either. but if he does. when I’m awake. long time and it goes without saying.

If you don't have the good sense to dress nicely then I shall focus my effort elsewhere. If you've ever purchased an aerosol-based cologne from the grocery store. it’s a knock off. you are not worth my time. That Louis Vuitton bag you're parading around town with like you're hot shit. then something tells me you're not going to have too much stuff of value in your house. then. Nowadays. you are not worth my time. I was just starting out and figured it was a lot easier to prey on the masses of morons. Tricking idiots into giving me their money didn't seem fun anymore. Your shampoo or hairspray.C. as I recall this moment now. I'll keep moving. I had gotten sloppy with my cons and I still managed to reap ridiculous sums from these bottom-feeders. all that tells me is 'I'm poor and make bad decisions. If it's casual Friday. But. my ego had yet to get the best of me and I was still playing it modestly safe. with the barrel of a Glock 7 currently trying to be pushed from the base of my spine into the back of my teeth. I would have been on you like a hobo on a ham sandwich. The challenge was gone. The Fendi sunglasses you were promised were authentic were made in China. if you pull out a flip phone. or in fact. and again. At this particular point in my life. you just saved my nose a lot of work. As I sit here on my patio. At a particular point in my life. you don't have to worry about finding me in your house some night after staying out too late at a bar. any Andriod based phone. Sure. if you would have told me your favorite television show was any reality show. but I had moved up to a higher level of my game. that by this time in my life. And frankly. The Marc Jacobs ensemble you're sporting today is just an off-the-rack J. sipping my glass of ice water with a wedge of lemon. And if you are too stupid to be fooled by this shoddy merchandise.' There was a time when those were the people I would prey upon the most. Your stupidity may have actually saved you. I could tell pretty much everything about the superficial you. And if you're walking around listening to a Zune instead of an iPod. I'll keep moving along. peeking out through my new binoculars. If your body wash cost less than a dollar-fifty and has a scent which features the words OCEAN or BREEZE anywhere in its title. All I was 58 .I should tell you. it just tells me your level of taste isn't up to my personal standard. Penny markdown. I can still judge your basic net worth just by catching a whiff of your cologne or perfume. I can tell with one glance just by the stitching or if the logos are cut off. what I am looking for is routine.

from as far as I could tell. and going unnoticed. flexible gym shorts and a t-shirt. It was quite the ego boost for me. then nonchalantly walked down my street. This would allow enough time to pass in case he forgot something and needed to return home. Quick thrills of getting into a house. I had two rolled up bags. though. I wore comfortable. Twenty-three days of waiting and I felt it was time. drove a three-year-old Mercedes M-Class. All this information is filed away. And filed away all my information. My plan was to go at 10am. but to never even be noticed as being there. trying not to look suspicious. minus a few meals I had at my father's house. And I thought my neighbor was nosy. The street was quiet and deserted. do some shopping and carry the bags home. as if I was just returning from a morning walk to the grocery store. My plan was to break in. I walked with purpose to my target house. I peeked around the corner to make sure I was in the clear from Burt. Three weeks go by. and made my way to the side of the house. I slowly backed up. has been made from ingredients I have stolen from Burt next door. When there was no answer. lived alone.interested in for now was small grabs. back then. but not enough time for him to possibly be on a lunch break yet. I've begun running earlier so I can try and identify which cars belong to which houses. From there. Everything I have eaten. In my back pocket. following the sidewalks and turning on the cul-de-sac. He's never mentioned a thing to me about it. picking what I need. I reached the house and walked up to the door. in broad daylight. Not even a car parked on the street. the world's most worn shoes. Just my brain. knocking on it twice. But I sat. Every day I sit out here. Cataloging when my neighborhood residents come and go. careful of my surroundings at all time. Those hippy-recyclable bags that are the in things nowadays. On my morning runs I make sure I go down each cul-de-sac whose ends I can see from my porch. biding my time until I felt I was ready to start my first task. but probably looking extra-suspicious. but my hands were actually 59 . My plan was to not only not be caught. No pen. along with my trusty Converse. No pad of paper. I didn't take the precautions I take now. I would be going on foot. The first cul-de-sac to my right had a man who. When mom comes home early because she forgot something. His house would be my first target. When the kids walk to school and return. I'm ashamed to admit it. wore a tie to work and left every day between 7:55 am and 8:05am and never once returned before 5:15.

As a safety measure.trembling. the big. blood trickling down my face. I wanted to throw a temper tantrum and just go home. I didn't know that at the time. Still. I have scoped out this house for a while and have seen no sign of an alarm system. it was no guarantee but I was going to risk it anyway. Why bother. and continue my walk to the grocery store. pride still stinging from my blunder and checked the sliding glass door. I called out Hello? When I got no response. This was it. I felt like my entire life was a joke. contemplating my future. The break-in that would lead to massive things. I tasted blood in my throat and I had prickly weed stickers in my clothes. Just like the earliest days of running cons and nothing like breaking into Burt's house. the alarm sounds and I hop the fence into the neighbor's yard on the street over and exit out that way. I continued my trek through the house. right? It's not like a burglar will ever enter through your backyard. everything I had done in my life up until then vanished. was in the clear. These are the riskiest place to enter. Of course. like a fucking amateur. I either do this. My ego. stupid fall. When I see none. The door slid open with nary a sound and I stepped foot inside. I saw no evidence at this house. you're way too smart to be robbed. Once again. slide them on and I gently tug on the handle. But. and placed my hands on the top of the fence and hoisted myself up. for five full minutes. My cheek was scratched. This was showtime. With that one. It opens. gone. Usually if people have an alarm. you know which decision I came to. I made my way to the backyard. My first stop was the bedroom. The next door breakins were just rehearsal. I remove some surgical gloves from my front pocket. but I wanted to cry. Obviously. right? See. I stood there. Most alarms are wired to go off if any door besides the front or garage doors are opened while armed. someone forgot to lock their back doors. A rush of adrenaline flowed through me. they will advertise it. like a man. Worst case scenario. I took one more look around. inaugural break-in. whether it be a sign in the front yard or a sticker on a window. I'm ashamed to say it. My foot caught a board. I carefully look around the door jamb for any signs of being wired. and I ended up tripping and falling face-damnfirst into the pebble and weed filled side yard. I grew some fuzzies down below and decided to dust myself off and do what I goddamn came to do. or crawl home and live a sad-sack life working a minimum wage job I would probably learn to hate. 60 . Absolutely embarrassing.

I take five packages of Top Ramen. Vanilla flavored. at maximum. There were no female touches in the home. I finally made my way into the kitchen and opened up the tallest cabinet. The bathroom contained no make-up. it would be easy to see this man was a bachelor. a box of Triscuts and a tall jar of protein powder. zero. whatever. The man obviously lived comfortably and alone. Below the bed were a pair of slippers. one handful each of Cheez-It and Triscuts. nothing fancy. like you'd buy at Costco. Entertainment center built for a projection television that was missing and replaced with another 42inch plasma. purchased for. no vases. no tampons. Two unopened cases of Bud Light occupied the floor. No flowers. fifty dollars. five scoop fulls of protein powder. If I hadn't noticed from my surveillance. The carpet was midrange. a case of Extra gum. roommate. With a spouse. I snap my grocery bags to attention and set them on the kitchen counter. a case of Top Ramen. retail around two grand. ten tortillas. Bachelor chow. worth of the television. unzip it and fill it with two handfuls of Reece's Pieces. not even fingernail clippers. With no one to blame but himself. The sheets were an inexpensive department store brand. but not top of the line. a packet of 100 corn tortillas with possibly one-third gone. I remove one bag. Heinz. the Xbox 360 and six-disk DVD changer and surround sound that occupied said entertainment center. His bed was unmade. In the living room. the family size. a jar of gravy. Two lamps.just to take a look around. this one was manufactured by Samsung. a giant box of individually wrapped Famous Amos cookies. though. Above that. With no one else occupying the home. Total worth of the entertainment center. a box of Cheez-its. apparently brand new. three bags of Famous Amos. I remove five Ziploc bags I brought along and set them down. a coffee table with Golf Digest folded open to page 32 and a fireplace rounded out the living room. one jar of spaghetti sauce and leave the unopened bread for 61 . In the corner there was a Sony 42-inch plasma television. Ashley. outdated. Nice. seal the bag back up and set it in the grocery bag. four jars of spaghetti sauce. things could go missing and be blamed on the other person. From inside. around three grand. no cutesy pictures. the padding thick. around two thousand dollars. Directly below was a DVD player and a cable receiver. one loaf of Wonder Bread. there was a sectional sofa. I realized I would need to be sparse with what I took. Above there. it would be a little trickier. a 24 pack of Slim Fast with three cans missing. retail for the time. and a bag of Reece's Pieces. was the only thing on the first shelf.

I'll take more than I need or even want. and one Rocket Pop. From the freezer I take two Lean Cuisine TV Dinners. Sort of a deranged movie rental service I happened to invent and be CEO of. I love everything about them. one small bag of frozen raviolis from the back of the bottom shelf that will go nicely with my newly acquired pasta sauce. and. By the end of that year. I unlock the deadbolt and place the bags on the front porch. even though I have never eaten one before in my life. with nearly every house on my list. I walked to the porch. into my last Ziploc. When I am satisfied. all alarmfree. While reaching for the knob. the bedtime bo jangles Ever since I was a child I loved airports. I'll violate their toilet with smelly leftovers from yesterday's grab. I put everything in my bag and head to the front door. I hit one a day and the two week span between houses allows for enough time for restock. I leave the same way I came and hop the fence like a pro. removed the disk. and sometimes. I ended up doing this all the time. I would take the disk. pick up the bags and strut home like the fucking champion of everything that I am. I had fifteen houses on my agenda. Then I move to the fridge. where they were less likely to be missed. As long as I clean up and return everything exactly the way it was. nobody will ever be the wiser.next time. one stick of string cheese. I had an idea. make sure no eyes are on me. watch the movie and return it the next week when I hit that house again. returned the case to the drawer and put the disk into my bag. I radish. I find them to be the most relaxing place I can 62 . relock the locks and take one more look around the house to make sure nothing is out of place. 1 carrot. five slices of American cheese from a 50-count package. if I'm greedy. Sometimes. if I'm feeling ballsy. I picked a movie I hadn't seen before. I'll make myself lunch and eat it on their recliner while watching their TV. From there I steal two Sugar-free Red Bulls. I close the door. For some reason. from the back. I have no interest in the disgusting pig crap Heinz has the nerve to call gravy. I pour a healthy dose of barbeque sauce. revealing three rows of DVDs. from then on out. so I returned to the entertainment center and opened the main drawer. Anyway. I had nothing else to do tonight.

I'm sitting now near Gate 6. I get nothing. I made a mental note to start checking clients' medicine cabinets for prescription sleeping pills. I thought there was something wrong with me. just bread and worthless crap like that. a plane is landing. listening to the sounds of the hustle and bustle. clearing my head. comes and sits down next to me. because. And what a bitch it truly is. I started making a nightly habit of visiting the airport. three hours sleep per night. I didn't spend much time in them growing up. and I'm finally getting. They are obviously security men and there is obviously something of importance on that plane. lately. over and over. With yet another night passing before me. the over-the-counter shit I was ripping off from Rite Aid just wasn't cutting it. Stuff no one will miss even if I told them I stole it. I'd be lying if I said I got the same thrill out of it as I did before. from out my bedroom door I witness the alpenglow from the sun rising behind my house. So. I haven't been able to sleep. my legs begin getting a tingly sensation giving me an overwhelming urge to shift. my father and I usually drove a lot instead of flying. at least. I come here to think. I don't steal anything of value. but totally at peace. just watching the people. as cliché as that sounds. frankly. I can't help but wonder what or who it is. and if. If it is. I do find some comfort. Daddy is home. waiting for something or someone to unboard the flight. The little girl is saying. A mother and two little girls are standing up. 63 . When. in fact. I lay in bed and toss and turn in a futile effort to get comfortable. I'm confused and completely lost for words. It makes me smile. there are four large men standing by. In the terminal. faces pressed against the glasses. Outside the window directly in front of me. not only feeling happy. I quickly glance at her and try to size her up.think of. an it. thanks to my ordeal. Three weeks in. and I don't even know why. illuminating my backyard. how valuable is it and can I steal it? It's all just a daydream. To my left. though. A complete zero reading. there is another plane being taxied to its gate. but from time to time we did catch a flight and I remember sitting in the airports and. To get away from my life. and I finally decide I've had enough. My daydream bubble pops as the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. but I later came to realize it's a real symptom called Restless Leg Syndrome. Truth is.

if you get my drift. Only it doesn't really come out as a word in the English language. Talkin’ about poop here. It’s a face-plant on a dog-shit-covered land mind that blows me to pieces but keeps me alive to suffer. I shift in my seat but still sitting there in a panic-induced stupor. A cheat." Hello Ziemer.) But not now. Could it be on my one and only flaw? My ego has deflated. Not here. Much worse. tank-top wearing buffoon being taught physics. no one else would ever get the truth from me. What was it about this girl that was so different from everyone else? It wasn't until that exact moment that I realized my social interaction skills were an absolute joke. This whole scenario. Nothing sexual about that. I was silent. Every time it comes to me testing my abilities I fail miserably. really stupid to me. Something I couldn't pinpoint. NASCAR watching. My apologies. you're the most gorgeous creature I have ever encountered in my nearly 64 . you've been with pretty girls before. it's the face plant over the fence all over again. you've charmed your way into their beds on several occasions. I don't sweat. It kind of ends up sounding like some terribly unfunny and definitely uncool Tim Allen-style grunt. beads of sweat forming above my brow like I’m being interrogated by Dick Tracy. "My name's Ziemer. tilting it slightly and allowing the liquid to flow into her mouth. Something about this girl was different. Ziemer.What the hell is wrong with you. I'm cool as a can of Coors Light with the Blue Mountain indicator (which is really. Nope. "Hi. by the way. "Hope this spot isn't taken. It takes me a second or two for this to register and I say hi back. not a thing. Unless I was talking to my dad. How can someone this handsome." she tells me. hairy-backed. Hell. My home restroom. Like Charlie Brown trying to talk to the little red-head girl. Why? I thought. I felt sick to my stomach as the realization sunk in and I felt like I needed to use the restroom. folks. only this time worse. Finnick." she finally says to me. She pressed her lips together and quietly swallowed then turned to look at me. this quick-witted and amazing with such a perfect stomach and face and such a fantastic dong be this horrible at proving himself? It just doesn’t make sense. like some drunken. Every word out of my mouth until that point had been a lie. I sat there. She wrapped her brightly-painted red lips around the opening of her Dasani water bottle. Now I sit with my mouth agape. though. A scam. What a strange and beautiful name you have. All my training and all my skill had been washed away.

Quit being so defensive. Taking my boat out. "Excuse me?" "Finnick. this time in a much more appropriate decibel. I’ll do it. well." she says. The best I could do was blurt out my name. halfembarrassed look on her face. a result of perhaps one too many restless nights. It’s not love at first sight. This isn’t some shitty Katherine Hiegel by-the-numbers rom-com. Come on. My name is Finnick. His flight was delayed by three hours. Sigh. Living our dream. "Yeah. idiot. much like myself. I’ll do anything for you. In my head. 65 . Her facial expression told me she had no clue what I was telling her. a creep. half-worrisome. May I have your babies. I was just known as Baby Boy Hollins. as I just continued to stare. Way too loudly. I snapped back to reality and realized she had stood up and was making her exit. Ziemer and I. I don't know if my jaw followed my brain's instruction though. Cracking jokes about poor people and listening to stories about how marvelous and good looking I am. I tell her.twenty-five living years. Or worse. The only audible part of my statement was a muffled uh noise accompanied with a douchey. I try and shake the bubble away. I wanted to tell her to stay and that I was sorry." she says to me. Really real life. "My name. Easy boy. I don't deserve to live! Just give me a sleeveless shirt and a lower IQ and sit me down in front of a twelve year old television so I can watch my races! "Well anyway. "I won't bother you. Doing things our way." I told her again." Her eyes set deep. My mother and father always said I was finicky. I realized my mouth was still open and made a conscious effort to close it. onto the sea." "Finnick? That's an interesting name. Miss Beautiful Ziemer? I don’t care if it’s like the horrible movie Junior or that crappy dream episode of The Cosby Show. head nod. Beautiful Ziemer. Ziemer. totally un-Finnick-like. so after a week of coming up empty in the ol' name department. with this weird. probably. I was just waiting for my boss. What a fool I must have looked like to her. My eyes were glossed over as my daydream bubble was violently pushed aside and a new one appeared. I am going to marry you one day. I didn't have a name until I was almost a week old. This isn’t a clichéd meet-cute. living somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I quickly added. Overworked. the one I will own one day. but still wonderfully gorgeous. This coming from the girl named Ziemer. She turned with a look of surprise on her face and said. married. This is real life.

How do you get teeth that white without paint? "What do you think is going on over there?" She nodded towards the security men. how I loathe you. apathy. rubbing it over every inch of her body. but which managed to work marvelously together. just in case she needed a visual aid to go with my childish promising remark. Her tattooed-douche of a boyfriend probably shared a shower with his this morning." She looked puzzled again and I quickly told her to nevermind. She takes another drink then asks. She smiled.someone thought it would be a wise decision to just go with Finnick." I told her. lathering her up with his body wash." she said. talking to Ziemer was a lot easier. She lived with a man. "I thought I may have bothered you. Oh. "Please." I say. no bother at all. sit back down. It smelled clean and not over-fruity like most girl's hair. The scent on her body was a combination deodorant. I breathed in heavily before answering." "Oh ok. A man's body wash. Cross my heart. Her teeth were so white. Suddenly all my happiness drained from my body. I’m sure they probably 66 . "Thank you. The scent was invigorating whereas most girls smell like a half-sucked Jolly Rancher. today. It’s just what flashed in my mind. Let us live our lives on the open sea. for alas. Ziemer. Her hair had the slight scent of apples. blossom. I had no way of knowing this was true. miserable town." "No. Nothing is ever more erotic than what the girl you like is doing with another guy in your head. It was a heavenly aroma but I soon realized her body wash was a scent of Old Spice called Fiji. "Why?" "For not saying Phil Collins. I'm sorry. I haven't been feeling very well. dry. glowing smile. I love you. body wash and perfume. perhaps we weren't meant to be. removing the shower head from the wall and washing all the suds away before sticking his… Of course. Ziemer and I. slowing down when he reached her breasts. Stupid! "Okay then. lemon and perhaps a note of jasmine and sandalwood. Then. My pessimism regained its rightful control of my body and suddenly. making a large X across my chest with my index finger. She had spotted them. Fucking Fiji bodywash. too. Promise. She used a higher-end shampoo brand and the result was noticeable. Finnick Hollins. At all." she said with a warm. plum. Let me take you away from this hot." She smiled.

Who cares. On the way home I stopped by Target and picked up a few essentials for the house. such as baby powder. I grab a Darth Vader and add it to my cart. "Um. It reminds me of my youth and in some weird way." I say nothing and turn to leave. Where’s the flat-billed hat section? On my way to the checkout counter. the color of a melted brown M&M. Bye. dislodged itself from behind her left ear and crossed her face. but like I said." she says. Instead. You take care. I smile and shove him into my pocket. I guess. my left eye clenched tightly shut." "Oh. but I’m sure they never survived our many moves. Shocking that I've never had a girlfriend before. I’m not sure. God damn it. Yes. 67 . One quick. I hear her say sorry. admiring him and suddenly I am seven years old again. For what. restores a little bit of happiness to my soured shell of a soul. I don’t stick around to find out. bitter-filled house where I shall sit in my bitter-filled recliner and be bitter. fluid motion from her hand and it was returned to its proper position. during the school year when we weren't always on the move. I don't know. My father and I used to sit around. every-day. and watch these movies together. as she looked looked up at me like a lost kitten. But my brain doesn’t want to acknowledge that simple probability. I'm holding him up to the sun. though? The airport has failed me and I shall return home to my quiet. even though it technically isn't even a correct answer to the question at-hand. typical relationship. watching Zeimer and Douche’s brain-porno on repeat. shocked once again at the sudden change of direction our encounter has taken. how long have I been doing this? It was time to talk before risking being called a perv and possibly being slapped. there is an end display of Star Wars toys. I’m aware most people don’t wear their hats in the shower. I had a ton of these things when I was little. rubber gloves. A thick strand of her hair. right? As I step away. kinda-boring. this is special circumstances. I try to shake it away." I answer. Okay. On my way out to the Vespa I opened the packaging and freed the Darth from his confines. I gathered my thoughts and came up with this masterpiece: "Yeah. um.had a normal. Fiji scented Old Spice body wash. Stuff that wasn't readily available for thievery. "I've got to get going. I have Zeimer bent over in a shower with skinny twerp with a flat-billed hat nailing her from behind. Again. How frightening must I look just staring and not making a single sound? In fact.

spend fifteen minutes doing my shopping then sit on the sofa and watch movies." I remind him. I'm the new movie trivia master. Remember the old days when we would do exercises that would actually benefit us? Smelling tests. I might add. one day." "We still run. That's how bad it's gotten. It's like some sick. which. I quickly remember just how bored I am sitting around my house and take a walk over to my dad's place. "Yeah. he is cuddled up on the sofa with Snoopy as I silently enter his house in a rather pathetic attempt to get the drop on him. is also stolen. Now what do we do? We steal loafs of bread and watch television. I don't even want. Of course. if you ask me. My tabletop and counters are littered with so much stolen household product I don't know what to do with it. but big whoop. Yes. "Hey buddy. I have shit piled up that." "Actually. Even that isn't exciting to me. I've even begun stealing spare change and collecting it in a large wine bottle that I stole from someone’s trash. slightly evil version of Hoarders. now. though. While watching the movies. we do. I know. "What are you up to? Finally decide to stop by and visit your poor ol' pa'?" "It's been like." I say. He senses me as soon as my foot hits the carpet and says. That's a pretty major fucking downgrade." "Hey dad.i am your father -sigh I return home to my house and unpack the few items I just purchased. dad. is sit on the patio." "Yeah. I have to look up facts about the movie I am watching. and breath-holding exercises? All that stuff that made us the best goddamn conmen in whatever stupid town we were in. I'm just so bored. literally all day. personality tests. I know the feeling. What's the point? We run to practice running from the impossible chance we should ever actually have to run from someone. 68 . No one is chasing us down for that half a stick of butter I just knifed into my Ziploc bag. Do you know how many goddamn movies I have watched in the past month? Ask me anything. it's come to that. not only do I not need. All I do. I think I'm in a rut. demented.

a video store or bookstore. Something easy but enjoyable. I'm really missing out on that. "Like ol' Snoop Dog. though. Yeah. So." he tells me." I say to him." "Christ. I just need something." "You should get yourself a dog. I'll call it Scot-Free or something pun-y like that."I've just… I don't know. all but demanding a good scratch. Like. son? Settle down?" "Funny you should mention that. it's good to have someone around. Give me something to do. remember? I don't know. I'll gladly go up against ya. We're not really the job people. I meant like a real job. I don't know. but I really want to buy a boat." My dad laughed and agreed to the subject change. The whole reason I took this walk was to get my mind off that very fact. I catch myself rolling my eyes and cram my hands into my pocket to turn and leave. Christ. turn the garage into a dojo… get back on my fightin' game. clean as a whistle. Maybe it will tire me out so I’ll actually get more than a few hours of sleep. lately I wish I actually was a partner in the stupid laundromat. Most of my money is back. you know? Why don't you get yourself a nice girl. "Well. you want to compare ruts. Maybe I'll buy myself a punching bag." "I worked at a bookstore once. like in my original plan. the highlight of my night last night was watching a Nick @ Nite Classic TV Rewind commercial about an obvious set-piece mistake in the VitaMeataVegaMin episode of Lucy. yet I have nothing to buy. "Why don't you get a job?" "A job? What the hell for? I have a job. Something laid back but time consuming. remember? It's called Stealing from Assholes. Remember when we used to spar? We were good at it. It's enough to live on but not enough to skip this place and start anew. seems thrilling." "No. I have money in Russia that I'll probably never get to and the money in Switzerland is all but lost forever. please. "Yeah. Vader reminds me of his presence by wedging the corner of his cape underneath 69 ." The dog on my father's lap isn't bothered enough to lift his head even the slightest. I actually have a framed picture of one in my bedroom. dad." Apparently it was time for Snoop Dog's belly rub. here." "I know it sounds kinda lame. I've hit a wall and I'm so goddamn bored I can hardly keep a straight thought in my head. New subject. He ever so carefully rolled over and pawed at my father's face. unless… ya know. Just get on it and go wherever the wind takes me.

more to myself than as an answer to his statement. I make my way back out to my Vespa. Lately. I must have made an equally-as-girlish sound because when I looked up. Once I retrieve what I need. It's the country club neighborhood filled with a bunch of stuffy. It hit the sofa cushion and bounced up. I have to look for something else. anymore. "I'm going to take off. a job. Never trust business cards thrown on a front porch. really need to find some way to spend my time. People very rarely spend the time or 70 . A pile of newspapers in the driveway is also a hint. those are worthless. any house that looks empty. causing my hand to recoil in an embarrassingly un-masculine reaction. Where I'm driving to is a small neighborhood on the east side. I can't help it. my eyes begin to roll. barely hitting his majesty Snoopy. It's still daylight for another hour or so. The porch lights won't work this time since it is so close to nightfall. "Careful!" My dad said as if I was maliciously throwing sharpened scraps of metal doused in AIDs and rat poison at his precious Snoopsy Poopsy. In my experience." I said. Locate a house with two papers out front and use the flyer routine on that one house. This boredom is killing me. and change my shirt to an all-black V-neck and begin rifling through my duffle bag." I removed Darth Vader from his darkened cell and tossed him at my dad. Seriously. you should think about it. Stealing shakes of pepper from some dipshit's Mickey Mouse shaker just isn't doin' it for me. like my father told me." I say. A good way to see if someone is out of town is to print up some bogus flyers and leave them folded and wedged in people's front doors." "Alright buddy. Let me know if you find something. retrieving my action figure and returning him to his pocketed home." "Yeah. though. fighting through the mild agony. Return two days later and any house with the flyer still sticking out is your new target. but not sure fire. I return home and sit at my desk.my fingernail. good luck. I sharpened a pencil and began scribbling wildly on a piece of paper until the pencil is nearly worn down. my dad's eyes were pointed at me. "Meh. rich pricks that you almost hope get robbed on a semi-regular basis. I rolled the paper into a cylinder and dump the lead powder into a baggie. I'm wearing black shorts and converse right now. it's my go-to reaction to almost everything. so I begin cruising up and down the streets. "check what I bought today. It's a good starting point though. Again. "Oh hey. I really. forget it." I say. What I am looking for is.

I type in 2-8-9-4 and hit enter. Pardon the pun. I check the boring places first. To find out someone's alarm code. Still. like so. The second button you push has slightly less residue. On the far wall. no one ever takes notice. Has someone else. again. The sock drawers. I unzip the baggie with lead dust. Oh. Har har. done the legwork for me? I take note of the house and continue driving until the sun has completely set.energy to bend over and pick one up upon returning home. turning on lights to rooms that can't be seen from the street. this could be a number used for a command prompt. and stroll right up to the potential target house. I knock on the door and wait. The way this works is. I continue driving and I locate one house with front porch lights on and. is a very large and very expensive grandfather clock. And there is only one way to find out if you are correct. a pizza coupon flyer hanging from their front door knob. and so on and so forth. Most alarm codes are 4-digit. 71 . Plush and probably expensive. scoop up a handful and blow it carefully onto the control pad. so if you see a number with a tiny bit of lead stuck to it and you've reached your 4-digit maximum. I feel a surge of energy and wonder if it could really be this easy. The alarm chips noisily as I stumble down the darkened hallway looking for the light illuminating from the alarm keypad. your finger leaves an oily residue. I hear nothing. The chirp dies down and I should be home free. The clock is ticking. Every time you press a button. I see the carpet is white. Follow this until you run out of numbers and hope you are correct. I park down the street a bit. This house is worth my time. I walk up the street as innocently as possible in case any passersby catch a glimpse of me from their bedroom window. nothing. what appears to be. then find the number with the second largest amount. I don't bother cleaning up my mess and begin rummaging through the house. It is located at the hall’s first turn. This is not easy and takes practice. to make sure. unwittingly. the jewelry cases. Gloves on. I dig into my pocket and retrieve my jewelers' diamond magnifier and hold it up to the peep hole. I knock once again. but in my vehicle. facing the door. Get it? I trade my loupe for my pick and get to work on the lock. Inside. That's your first number. Most people just hope it will eventually be carried away by the wind. find the one number that has the most concentration of lead. What this does it basically revert the looking glass and allow me to peek inside while still appearing somewhat innocently to anyone who may drive by. door open and I'm in in under fifteen seconds.

With my hand full of newly acquired merchandise. It was a nice change of pace from my normal tossing and turning. just like I owned that bitch. I take him out. In the pantry. I open up boxes of powdered detergent and instant mashed potatoes. I whistle a happy little diddy. Spoiled puppies don't sleep as well as I did.ya know. I begin going through the closets and realize the stupidity of clients. When I arose I walked down to the corner to purchase a newspaper from the vending machine. next to the can foods. go back to the Comet and unscrew the bottom. Oh well. I believe. to steal your shit and two. two gold rings and two social security cards. I place Darth. this is supposed to trick me into thinking I found your stash. On my way back to the Vespa. then I walk out the front door. the basics. in hopes there would be a story about my previous night's excitement. Vader's Imperial March theme. we only want two things. If you hide your stuff too well. I had no idea when there would be anyone to even report the robbery. just like before. Dumb people. that night. I close the closet door. Clearly out of place. One. I can't believe I didn't catch on sooner. By stashing a few hundos underneath the Misses' unmentionables. but am reminded once again of Lord Vader's presence. was a can of Comet cleaner. out falls a roll of cash. I take the empty Comet can and set it front and center on the kitchen counter. a diamond tennis bracelet. Comet would go with the rest of the cleaner. I began checking the underside of all the trashcans. I take Vader to the sink and run water over him then towel him off. on top. I go to insert it into my right pocket. there wasn't. finnick hollins and the news I remember waking up the next morning around one pm. If you're going to use a false-packaging gimmick to hide your stuff. In fact. we will tear the house apart until we find something. In an underwear drawer I find two one-hundred dollar bills. I check the fridge for anything out of place. This. I would have to do a little detective work. at least make sure it fits in with its surroundings. 72 . not in a cabinet filled with food. replace him with the goods and begin to laugh. is a decoy. No luck. Of course. to get out as quickly as possible. but all this does is advertise to me that you've got much better shit in the house and if I want to find it. When a burglar is in your home. That might work with some people.

two plain-white V-neck undershirts with no disgusting pit stains. when I returned home. after about two minutes of poking around his shitpile of a bedroom. If that premise was reversed it would be called Racist Honkies and the Reverend Jesse Jackson would be up in arms over it. I took it. I digress. (Oh. I've realized I'm better off buying my own underpants. The acting was simply atrocious. About a month ago I found a set of spare keys tossed carelessly into a junk drawer. Since then. The kid is probably fourteen or so. seems to have a body with pretty similar proportions to yours truly. I knock twice. I browsed through the newspaper again. because he still gets a ride to school. who should be ashamed of his taste in cinema. I can take anything I want from this dump and its absence may never be noticed.) Back at my house I threw my entire score. into the washing machine. My first score from him was a brand new package of boxer briefs that I seriously doubt he even knew he had in the first place. I couldn't get through more than ten minutes of it. Later that night. I'm all filled up on groceries for the moment so today's score will be new shorts and a few undershirts. Doesn't get much easier than that. If you must know. You never know what kids are up to these days. I'll just be more careful when borrowing movies from now on. then just let myself in. fifteen tops. then make my way to the teenage son's bedroom. a brand new. since I am quite picky about them. I actually ended up returning it later that day. I find a nice pair of size 32 Abercrombie and Fitch cargo shorts. slapped me on the back and told me I was a genius. I went and hung out with my dad for a bit and told him about my score. but shit-luck for him. He laughed.I was running very late and had a house to hit in my neighborhood and a very odious little movie to return to its owner. I took the keys to my dad who made me a copy in about five minutes. The teenager’s room is a mess which works to my advantage. I prefer Adidas brand. sans porno flick. even though I should have just snapped it in half. Now. and in case you're wondering. along with scolding hot water and color-safe bleach. hoping it would give me a hot tip for my next target. But. Anyway. This 73 . unopened package of below-the-ankle socks and a porno flick. Seeing as my entire life up until that point had been entirely devoid of even a casual glance in a porno flick’s direction. Two black guys dressed as snobby white girls? Give me a break. then returned the originals to their crap-drawer. Today's house is the easiest on my route. I return the shitty movie to its case.

anyway? Nothing but trouble they are. Her hair was so red it almost looked orange. ya know. and without an exciting caper under my belt for the day. I went back to sleep. enter through the automatic door about thirty minutes after I had arrived and taken a seat at Gate 6 and instantly perked up. I'm fairly certain it was orange. but I still feel. I guess. My own answer kind of deflated my rush of joy. not the swap meet knock-offs that usually flood this town. But. Where do you even buy dye that color? She was wearing a much more casual outfit than the other day. using whatever body wash they happened to have around. Hair. was something to be admired by even the most pathetic of men. body wash. But then I remembered her clothes. HELLO would have been the proper response. Doesn't matter. apparently. True. being flown right back out of here tonight. Would she even talk to me. and noticed her Tiffany bracelet. In fact. from her hair right down to her. maybe just maybe. "Your hair.was back out when newspapers were more than five pages thick and actually had a prickish. I tossed and turned for two hours before heading back to the airport for some relaxation." I smiled. She looked right at me but pretended not to see me. sigh." I say. her bright blue eyes wide and gorgeous. and recall her 74 . up up and getaway I saw Ziemer. I have a tendency to dye it a lot. Oh well. The jeans she was wearing were the type where you pay extra to have them look like you stole them off a stinky wino and her button up shirt appeared to be a DKNY. I wondered if that was what those security guards were for. another bottle of Dasani in the other. "Yeah. Nothing. Her scent was the same. I thought about if I were a girl. Or even a simple YES. I thought. it had changed colors in the brief amount of time we were apart. Your. It's kind of my thing. who needs stupid girls. though? I had made quite the ass out of myself during our last meeting. This is my response. My level of gauche. Oh fuck! "Finnick?" She asked me. I had a brief thought that perhaps she still lived with her parents and was. purse in one hand. would I talk to someone like me. according to the paper. My first sign was a major negative. Authentic. elitist SOCIETY column. museum piece was flown into town for observation and. perhaps. but none-theless still rather pricey. The only interesting news I found was that some rare.

Was it possible someone this. She seems well off. so the possibility of having a deadbeat boyfriend was high. it looks nice. He was… He's dead now. but this late-breaking news is comforting and I can feel my mood perk up again. Also. I don't even know your last name but it doesn't matter. I am shocked. guys are stupid and leeches. out of nowhere." "I wear this scent to remind me of my dad. I have no idea if it was noticeable or not. But. Hopefully. Everything about her screamed successful. Something I have never seen the likes of before. You're right. it will soon be Hollins. which. Wow. Down the checklist I went. I think we're actually using the same scent. "Um." "Actually. if she 75 . Is that weird?" I breathe out a massive sigh of relief and I almost burst into tears. It's what my father used to wear. "Oh! Don't think I'm weird or anything. she appeared mildly goody-goody so maybe she was into dangerous guys. I like it. But whew. I do know. successful and gorgeous could be single. Maybe. was a mold I didn't really fit. They say smell is the emotional brain. I think my body wash is Old Spice." Smooth. It's pretty much the only thing I have left of him. and from what I know. And even if it was. Is yours Fiji?" "Um. it's been at least twelve hours since I applied it. seemingly. How did you… " "I have a nose for those things. It's not like I could go blabbing about my job. I try and think back to what I am wearing and have absolutely no idea. I don't think it's Old Spice. Living with mommy and daddy was about as likely a scenario as me getting laid that night." Either this woman is spying on me or her olfactory senses are nearly on par with my own. I'm still not out of the woods yet with the boyfriend situation. You know why?" "Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain's limbic system which is closely associated with the hippocampus and amygdala which are responsible for memory and emotion?" I love you. "Well. I began weighing the odds for what seemed like a very long time. yeah. on the outside. ya know. I hope not. I think it is. but which I prayed was just a few seconds in duration. yeah.saying her boss was on one of the flights. Ziemer. "Yeah. um. "Are you wearing Old Spice deodorant?" She asks me.

was. ya know. geez." Hunky fucking dory! She sat there. I stood up and said I had better get going. again. Stop. there would be no man. I eventually came up with the masterful "Goin' somewhere?" She giggled. My boss just left again. I would think of a line. That should have been my clue to stay. Well. they put all personal matters aside and focus. She took a seat beside me and I struggled to find the right words to say. is everything okay?" "Yeah. Why was my brain doing this to me? I consciously felt my legs moving in the opposite direction of her. If this was the case. I've heard of these women who are so invested in the work they do. Luckily. which. scratching the inside of her ear. It was like a pitcher waving away a catcher's suggested pitch. but at the same time. um. either. A double edged sword. One quickly started heading towards my direction. or a giggle because she's thinking this guy is an idiot? Why is my narcissism failing me now when I need it the most?! "No. Was that a good giggle as in she thinks I'm cute. please. I stopped for a moment and looked back to see Ziemer standing up from the bench. maybe she wouldn't have time for a boyfriend." The off chance what? The off chance that the plane exploded and parts of her boss were scattered across the runaway? The off chance the flight was cancelled? The off chance the super cute guy with the winning conversational talent was sitting on the same bench as he was two nights prior? The off chance of what?! "Oh. The man was still heading in 76 . I finally realized she was still standing. I went to grab a quick bite then came back to the airport on the off chance… I don’t know. Hunky-dory. then wave it off. I happened to walk in the direction of two men standing together who seemed to have no real reason to be in the airport. but the man simply walked past me. It was great seeing you. sit down. idiot! Go back! But nothing listened. My natural reflex is to be defensive in such a predicament." And this is what I did. I certainly am. Staying in town. I shit you not. I guess there wouldn't be much time for me. as successful as I thought. fate intervened. indeed. Are you hearing this? I STOOD UP TO LEAVE! A caprice to which I could never have predicted." Finnick Hollins. even though it was my own impulse. Ladies' Man. flinging her Gucci purse over her shoulder. That's what I did. head down. Love the hair. shocked. strictly. on what they find important. um. "Oh. Seriously. "Oh. I gave her one more glance back and saw her sitting there.

Man #2 came out of the woodwork to stop the mean ol' criminal and retrieve the purse. the kid hero. "we've gotta jet!" first date After whisking her away from the airport and out into the parking lot." I said. She simply flashed me a cute little smile and told me she'd meet me there. I would usually collect my reward. Neither of us were hungry so we ended up just sipping away at our ultra-adult beverages of a Diet Dr. grasped her purse and took off running. He lost his balance and did a strange little dance over to the luggage claim where he eventually. Not like your average con. would either trip him or recover the goods somehow and return them to the mark.her direction and when he got within arm's reach. Did that really just happen? A purse snatch? Who does that? Then I recognized the scam. Ziemer screamed and before I could make a move. somehow smiling from the fortuitousness of it all. unless. and me. Ugh! Fuck it. and rather hilariously. I cold cocked him. I stood in shock. as soon as Man #2 was handing the purse back to Ziemer. wouldn't you know it. at all. grabbing her by the arm. Pepper for me and an ice water with 77 . I didn't have a very good feeling about them. which seemed kind of odd to me at first. of course. "Come on. but pretty much ended up reassuring me of her strength and independence. They looked… dangerous. and without thinking and with as much temerity as I could muster. We agreed to meet up at a local coffee shop and she didn't even laugh when I informed her we would need to take separate vehicles. of course. I didn't like the looks of these guys. she wouldn't mind riding on a Vespa. I finally got the nerve to ask her if she would like to hang out for a while. tumbled over the railing and onto the conveyor belt. It was one my father and I pulled several times when I was about twelve or so. would get away and #2 would return everything to Ziemer in hopes of… what? In hopes of what? Actually. My dad would snatch a purse. It was an attractive quality on top of some many other attractive qualities so relevant to the superficial male. Being as I was so young and totally a hero. Right in the side of the skull. Man #1. She didn't seem scared or shaken up at all from the incident. I walked briskly back the bench.

Or nearly bored her to tears. I asked her how she got her name since it was only fair. Magazine articles." she told me. She told me how her parents died a few years ago. I eventually got back on track and regained my usual. I couldn't very well come out and say 'Oh. For high-end businesses and whatnot. She told me it was her great-grandmother's maiden name and shrugged her shoulders. seeing as she knew how I got mine. but I figured it would at least vouch for me always seeming to have free time. Yeah. I have to admit. ya know?" She didn't ask anything further on the subject so I guess I had lucked out." She didn't seem too interested in talking about jobs. You?' The only thing I could think of was to tell her I'm a carpet salesman. um. charming demeanor. it was a terrible lie. it's a family tradition. Either way. insurance company. "I guess I do a lot of writing. I guess. tacking on to my lie without once stopping to think what I would do should she ask to read anything I've ever written. For me. We made friendly chitchat for another half an hour or so and decided we should call it a night." I said.lemon for her. I was back! I left a tip for our waitress. That was fine with me. though. something that I never do. lie. even though it was her who initially broached the subject. If I didn't blow it. that I saw her smile leave her face. I had no idea how well this story would gel in the long run. she actually wanted to see me again. and I kicked myself for not thinking of a proper cover story on my drive over here. poorly. aside from the brief mention of her parents. No thanks. paying someone extra simply for doing their job? Usually. anyway. take advantage of them. My dad would have been proud. too. That was fine with me. apparently. Maybe that would come later. The less about it the better. my dad too. I didn't think two simple refills warranted some extra cash for a job well 78 . For an. "I'm what you'd call. Certainly my father would not be proud of me for such a feeble effort. a glorified secretary. I don't think. clear out of the blue. Oh. too. I guess it's considered. Even the most novice of confidence men would have found it laughable. "Trade magazines. "On top of that. I write carpet reviews. I rob people. That's all there was to it. She asked me what I did for a living. I could tell it was painful for her to discuss so I tried to steer the conversation elsewhere without even really getting all the details into their untimely demise. stuff like that. if in case.

As she snapped the cap back on and returned it to its home. lying there in my bed. for almost three hours. And please don't point out that I was already well on my way to fucking it up simply by starting out our entire relationship with a couple of pretty major lies. you wouldn't want to. We ended up riding around with the cool breeze blowing in our faces. Thanks. I was simply a horny teen doing what needed to be done. Until that point. but had zero preparations. I went straight to bed and still had a hot date with my jimmy-legs and Nick @ Nite." I let her use my helmet and we scootered off into the night. I got up and roamed around my house. After about an hour or so. my legs dancing like they were being pulled by a sadistic puppeteer. She seemed genuinely happy when she wrapped her arms around me again and kissed my cheek. maybe. I really didn't want the night to end but was too much of a wuss to invite her over. I hopped on the Vespa and 79 . it was different. nodding in the direction of my Vespa. Across it. I grabbed my messenger bag of equipment and headed out the door into the garage." she said through a smile. she nodded to my arm and said. I love it. all of my female conquests have been with girls who really meant less than shit to me." And that was how I fell in love with Ziemer Sheeley. go for a ride. When I finally returned her to her car. I didn't want to fuck this up. As cliché as it sounds. huh?" I asked her. but I didn't want to give off the aura of cheapness to my date so I laid a few singles down on the table and we walked out.done. "Listen. That meeting Ziemer had quenched every other urge that regularly surged through my body. "Now use it. Oh well. Mr. my gas tank was bone dry. I wish I could say that. "Actually. she scribbled her phone number and ended it with a little heart and a capital Z. "Sweet ride. i hate golfers I wish I could tell you that I went home and slept great. even at the time of coitus. She removed a Sharpie from her purse. bit the cap off and took my forearm in her hand. um. but I can't. would you?" "I would love to. I realized that. Now. I would need to go home and think of an entirely new game-plan. I'm a smart dude. I knew what I needed to do to get some sleep. Hollins. illuminated by only the stars in the sky.

I was beyond exhausted. which humans can't hear. The arrogance of these people. Sometimes houses with dogs are good. I just needed to really play up this angle so I would be utterly forgettable to the sleepy. a few rot iron gates and some are wide open. should anyone happen to drive by. tends to drive the animals crazy. just to teach them a lesson (and well. Assuming their little fortress was so impenetrable to not even bother with a fence. With my back to the 80 . I look around for any security cameras but don't see any. keeping myself against the walls and as out of sight as I can possibly make myself. some orange juice and a Batman action figure. I actually parked on the street in front of the clubhouse and cut through the parking lot on foot. (Carlin really speaks to me. (Didn’t really need it to be an impression.) The houses don't even have proper fences. George Carlin had it right when he said it was an elitist activity for well-to-do white business men. cutting through fairways to get to the line of houses on the far side. On second thought. A five year old could have hopped that gate.took off towards the closest 24-hour drugstore. though. peaking in windows for any movement. because they are less likely to have dogs. I step onto the patio and up to the sliding door on the far side. apathetic clerk who obviously hated his job. but um. It's a boring game that takes up entirely too much space in this country. I gave it 10-1 odds at least half these houses didn't even lock their back sliding glass doors.) I walk slowly and mindfully from house to house. And houses that don't bother to lock their doors rarely bother to set their alarms. In reality. Nothing makes my blood boil quite like watching a bunch of arrogant pricks with their stupid pants and sweaters drive around in a miniature car chasing around a goddamn little white ball. more on that later). They're so smug and prickish it makes me want to violate my non-violent rule (which I eventually do. man. I think I could have saved a few bucks and just bought the stupid toy. I slowly crept past the pro-shop. I decide to go for a house with no gate. Told the clerk I had a sick boy at home and gave my best impression of being exhausted.) I dumped the medicine in the trashcan and hopped back on my bike and headed off to a near-by country club golf course. If there is anything I hate more than fucking golf. The frequency. There I bought some cold medicine. it’s fucking people that live on the goddamn golf course. Getting on to the course is easy. I walk through the grass. There are a few block walls. as those houses usually steer clear of the difficult-tobypass ultrasonic detection alarms. so I quickly cross the bridge over the canal and onto the course.

Soon. one minor noise and it could be game over. I needed to be there. The couple hadn't stirred. the glass door glided smoothly and silently. From what I can tell. When I returned to my bag. I walked back to the closest-to-the-course door and peeked inside. When I finished. I had no idea if there was a gun in the house. I guess it didn't really matter. Standby. The alarm was off. One solid green light on the top right. I lifted the flap and looked inside. I realized the good stuff would probably be in the bedroom. Two people were occupying the bed but remained still for the duration of my voyeur. I lifted my bag over my head and set it down on the patio. so I just grabbed my pen light and my gloves. No signs of life. I remember panicking. I reached in my bag and grabbed a can of WD-40 and sprayed the door track down. It made a loud scratching noise that froze me stiff. I was unarmed. probably averaging about one step every ten seconds. I realized I had been holding my breath the entire time. I wish I could tell you I was cool as the other side of the pillow. Maybe sitting out on the nightstand after the misses took it off after work or dinner. Honestly. I set off down the hallway. I was scared shitless and bordering on a nervous wreck. this is the master bedroom. Once they were secured around my hands. I didn't know what tools I would need at this point. there were so many things that could go wrong. but I wasn't. allowing me access to my target. My heart was pumping so fast and hard I swear I could hear the blood coursing through my veins. With people home. the alarm control panel is mounted. I grasped the door handle and gently tugged. Anything they did to me now would be good and legal. On the far wall. The living room was set up just as any other living room in America probably was. too paralyzed to move but too energized to attempt to leave. I cup my hands around my eyes and press my face to the glass. With every step I tried to talk myself out of it but I couldn't come up with a single reason that could defeat the stone-cold fact that I actually craved this. I slowly reach my head around and peak inside. I found myself standing in their living room. One false move. I had no idea what merchandise they would have. but I eventually snapped out of it and flicked on my pen light to have a look around. Mad at myself for not thinking this through. I have no idea if I stood there for a minute or an hour. 81 .wall. I walked briskly to the other door and peaked in.

the air was still. Right next to me. like the professional I am.The floor was clean and the carpet was plush. on the chest of drawers. The room was silent. I covered the light with my hand and slowly stepped into the bedroom. I lifted two sets of diamond stud earrings and one pair of dangly ones (I couldn't really tell since it was so dark. I reached the bedroom door. I walked casually. snuffing the light out with my palm. I don't think I need to tell you how well I slept. Sitting in plain site was a gold and diamond tennis bracelet (apparently these are popular with the golfing-wife crowd). I went into a full on sprint. across the fairways. I got to my knees and began slowly and quietly snooping.) I took a few moments to regain my composure and act. was the man's wallet. and peaked around the corner. over the bridge and up and over the gate. The pen light was shining on the ceiling but I didn't even notice. I moved a little bit faster and once I hit the patio and grabbed my bag. Once there. I slumped down to a catcher's stance and waited for what seemed like forever. I literally jumped and began to panic. From behind me there was a loud rustle and it seemed like the entire house shifted. crawling towards the hallway. I began opening drawers. The vanity was my target. I snatched it and put it in my pocket. Once I hit the exit I stood and took one last look around. (I now make it a point to turn off all AC units once I enter a house. I nearly laughed at my scare. setting Batman right on top of his driver's license. I killed the light and got to my knees. a whole day wasted 82 . which made me feel better. From them. It didn't even matter. There was a bedside table on each side of the bed. The owners still laid silently in bed. The complete lack of any toys made it clear there were no children here. A few seconds later the air conditioner unit came to life and began pushing cool air out into the house.) I grabbed a few necklaces from a novelty hanger and a ring (not a wedding ring) then began crawling back towards the door. Once on the street again. Making my exit. I reached for it and freed the cash from its leathery clutches and laid the wallet open. a chest of drawers to the left with a television on it and a vanity mirror in the hallway towards the master bath. once again. through the trees.

I vaguely remember waking up once and making the journey to the rest room. I gave the god-like creature staring back at me a nod. I slept through the majority of the day. almost instantly." We went on like that for probably five minutes. I dropped by pants and underwear and peeled off my black shirt and saw the numbers scribbled down my arm. I don't even remember falling asleep." "Why thank you. Um. Stud? That's a mighty big cock you've got there. Talking without really ever saying anything. I walked back to the bedroom and picked up my phone. detective." I showered. grabbed a granola bar courtesy of the Millers and laid back down in bed. We said our goodbyes and hung up. Before I stepped in. Didn't seem too important. but I somehow ended up back in bed. ya know. I dialed the number scrolled down my arm. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The standard first date.All the insomnia and wonky-legs must have caught up with me. It took me a second for my brain to come back in to focus and realize what it was. Dinner. I told her how long I slept and credited her for my relaxation. not in my contact list. I was confused and couldn't even be one-hundred-percent sure what day it was." she inquired when she answered the call. a local number. Standing there naked. I strolled back to the bathroom and turned the shower water on. toweled off. That's how you know you got some good sleeping in. (And why wouldn't she? Am I right? These abs!) It was all set up for tomorrow night. wake up call 83 . I rolled out of bed and headed for the shower. How'd you know it was me?" "Well. it was so late in the afternoon that the sun was setting and peering in through my bedroom windows. Movie. I went out on a limb. I don't remember giving my number out to too many people last night. "What's up. And. because not only did I sleep through the rest of the night. I perked up. I was still wearing my gear from last night. "Finnick." "Good guessing. "Yeah. When I finally awoke. wisely leaving out all incidents between the time we parted company to when I actually fell asleep. I finally worked up the nerve to ask her out and she agreed.

Were you careful to wipe down the action figures you used?" "Yeah. is this you." "You're right. here. How could you not be jealous?" I couldn't help but laugh. well it is and I would be much obliged if you didn't mention that to anyone." "Finnick Baby Boy Hollins. right the fuck on." "Have you gotten the newspaper yet?" I rub the sleep crust from my eyes and try to get my mind into focus. "Yeah. old-man hair that’s going gray. well. did I fail to mention that my middle name is Baby Boy? Yeah. Why. So?" "They're not dolls. I am jealous. like someone is wadding up paper. you've got flowy. They're action figures. "Ello?" "Is this you?" A man's voice asks. Like his calling card. I'm perplexed. at least I comb my hair." "You bought another one?" "Yeah. I had to. I hear some crunching in the background." "Man. It was still light outside but the sun was no longer in front of me. what's up?" "There is a story of a potential cat burglar in town." "Wait. dude?" "I don't know what you're talking about. Yours looks like you always just rolled out of bed. dad. If there was one thing the two of us never lacked. I made the papers.My phone vibrating insatiably across my bedside table finally knocked me from my unconsciousness and forced me to sit up." "Well. "Dad?" "Yeah. kiddo!" Ugh. I washed Darth Vader off really well. it's pretty exhilarating. It says two nights this week houses have been burglarized and at each scene there was a toy doll left behind. It only takes a second and I know exactly what he's referring to. it's our narcissistic tendencies. I think we're off track. I slept all through the night and my stomach sure was reminding me of it. then Batman I took straight from the package with gloves on. "Please." 84 . just look at this jawline on me. I have to admit. You could shred lettuce on it! And this hair. You hear that? Your old man is jealous of you for a change?" "For a change? When was I ever jealous of you?" "Please. "No. You look like a surfer from 1965.

I am not going to be doing that. Look at my boy go. You don't need to be going around. a grown ass man." "No way. We'll look in to it. "I told her I was a carpet salesman. I was just wondering. ya know. There in a box in the garage somewhere. sooner or later. Right." "Well… you do know a lot about carpet. You don't remember? I would buy you like two a week when you were little." "Right? But he's good and can get your stuff moved and sold. If you need your money washed. I guess a name doesn’t matter as long as she’s hot. son. a date and a new career. Who is the lucky lady?" "Her name is Ziemer. you know where to go. I'm proud of you. you know you can't just sell that stuff you stole. especially now that the news has hit." "What kind of name is Ziemer?" "Dad. "Now. If you have gold. you named me Finnick Baby Boy. good job. (I did that) "Well." I could actually hear his cheesy grin. I could already tell. you can melt that down yourself if you know the right way to do it."Dude." "No shit?" "No shit. saying." "Totally." "Subtle. shall we?" "Hey. It was the only thing I could think of. Just don't get caught. They call him Johnny the Fence. I know a guy. he was going to ask to join in." "I thought so. Don't worry though. Melting my own gold down? At the time I thought he was insane." My dad was rambling. Like for businesses and whatnot. buying action figures. "Hey guess what?" "What?" "I've got myself a hot date tonight. I actually met her at the airport when I was just down there relaxing. boy?" I laughed. Your jewelry needs to be fenced. maybe eat a little of the food. He had never made the papers. Let's not judge other people's names. Man. the lips parting and the slight squishing sounds of saliva strands breaking apart." 85 . we have tons of action figures here. All he ever did was jimmy a few locks and watch other people's television. That's a good a job as any. Thanks!" I could hear the envy in my father's voice.

Final ensemble: Red Polo shirt. socks stolen from that kid and of course. I've charmed the panties of a few ladies since then but-" "Dad! Gross! Stop! My ears are bleeding!" "Oh grow up and quit being such a sissy. I have costumes I wear to con people out of their shit. Butterflies in my stomach. wipe the steam from the mirror with my forearm and am treated to the gloriously sexy sight of my shirtless self. stolen from my Thursday house. the date knight Being naked already shaves a good fifteen seconds off the time it takes me to get into the shower. I’m in and out in less than five minutes. I have a burglar suit. not unlike that first time outside of the gas station bathroom. Okay. flapping their wings wildly. 86 ." "It's four o'clock?! Holy shit. Man. trying to talk myself into thinking everything would go well. I felt myself getting nervous. going-on-a-date suit. they wear suits. but everything I've learned from television shows is that when people go on dates." Where oh where did the time go. The bowels clenched again and I had no choice but to obey them. you better get moving." "Well. my trusty Converse All-Stars. Abercrombie & Fitch jeans. I'm usually a pretty casual dude. I could feel my bowels constricting anxiously. I haven't been on a real date since your mother. I decide to class it up a bit with a polo shirt. I wrap the towel around my waist. Nothing worse than a postshower poo. As usual. I decide to fall back on casual. I could grate cheese on those abs! The amount of dates I've had in my life is embarrassingly bantam and the amount of time I've actually spent with a girl I was even remotely interested in beyond sex is even smaller. But. I suppose. Instead of my usual V-neck t-shirt. I'll talk to you later. I don't have an honest to goodness. I have no suit. What time is this date?" "Dinner at like five. That helps a little. movie at seven. stolen from Monday's house. I clenched my eyes tight."A date. Sure. it's four now. A small pit growing in my stomach. When I step from my shower. Not a promising start to my evening. Fuck. I dropped my towel to the floor and took a seat. I didn't know what to wear.

is now a blonde. Like a couple of teenagers. I can actually hear my hatred for the human race rising up inside me. But I do not. folded position." 87 . I've actually never stepped foot in this place before." She sips from yet another bottle of Dasani and asks. I grab my keys and head out the door. Standing here alone. "I have no idea. I stand there and fester in my own anger and annoyance until I see the beautiful. smiling face of my date. we decided to just meet up instead of me doing the traditional thing of. dreadful. She hooked her arm around mine and asked where I was taking her. so I return it to its proper." She laughed. here. "How does your hair not fall out?" I say to her with a smile as she walks up. waiting for my date. "And what machine would that be?" "Stupid kids. As a joke. They offer food and cinema all in one convenient area. It fits in nicely with this brand of jeans. it's all I can do not to start a fistfight with these obnoxious fucking moppets. she lived quite a ways away and this place was barely a mile from my house. I was about to rage against the machine. Apparently. It does nothing for me. may it be noted. my chest pressed against the soft cotton of her white Abercrombie button-up. It's fine though. What they also offer is an absolute plentitude of abhorrent. picking her up and being gentlemanly. "I have mad dyeing skills." I add quickly. I didn't have time to shave so I'm sporting the trendy douchebag stubble. odious little twits and underage sluts. you know. you couldn't have come at a better time. who." she tells me as she wraps her arms around me and pulls me into her embrace. We went to some teenage wasteland called The Marketplace." I say. Maybe put to use some of those old fighting techniques I've been working so hard on lately in my garage with the bag I had such a hard time stealing from a random stranger's garage six weeks prior.I return to the mirror for a double-check." "Really? You never go to the movies or anything?" "Sometimes. "Ya know. I pop my collar up and wink at myself. I've only driven by it. foul-mouthed. "Well. She's the one who should be nervous. I begin to feel better about myself after seeing how fabulous I am in the reflection. "With my dad.

barreling towards the inevitable sunshine and lollypop ending. I tell her I never really knew my mom and that my dad raised me. Finnick Hollins: Master of the Female Mind. there is an Italian place down on the end here. with money. It's a little pricey but it'll sure be free of the chicanery of the local. We make more small talk. "That handsome?" she asks with a smile. I tell her I don't care what we see then near immediately regret my words when she picks the movie. 88 . I pay for the tickets the old fashioned way. I purchase the sixdollar bottle for her and we make our way to auditorium 3. I don’t need fancy clothes to look amazing. Lucky for her.) but. I ask her if she wants any popcorn or anything. You deserve some extra money! Anyway. pretend I do. we take off and make our way to the movie. at least. She asks what he's like and I tell her I will introduce him to her as long as she promises to not ditch me for him." She laughs at this. PG-13 rated romcom featuring good looking." Jerk. The food was actually pretty decent so I decided to pay for it the old fashioned way. She doesn't mention her parents but asks about mine. I tell her it sounds great and we make our way towards the restaurant. Or. and will just have a water. dangerous youth you're so apprehensive about. I was serious. she has the body type and she looks casually fantastic. (something I do not mind paying for. some are lies I have to make up on the fly. This informed me that she was giving me a hard time. who wants to seem like a cheapo on a date? Especially such a crucial date. We talk all through the meal. I’m wearing stolen pants and a t-shirt. but I do okay. just like at the diner before. and for me. She’s wearing those tight jeans that only girls with a certain body type should be allowed to wear. I remember something. too. Oh well."That's sweet. And plus. just look at his son. but poorly skilled actors sleepwalking their way through one contrivance to the next. Once seated. So I pay and I leave a tip. even though it makes me cringe to do so. Way to transport that food from ten feet away all the way to our table. Me. another generic. I'm actually looking forward to the movie just so I can be quiet for a couple of hours and work out my lies in my brain. She smiled and nudged me in the ribs. "Well. but fun facts about each other. obviously taking it as a joke. Yum. learning more and more meaningless. Well. she says she is stuffed. Some of mine are truth.

"Missed you. careful to not accidentally remove my keys with them. real smooth like. walk around the screen and scurry back up the stairs. my good dear. and agrees to refund my money. Not too hard for one of these hooligans to just drive off with it. Six dollars for a bottle of water! Up yours! This'll teach 'em! Six dollars! Out yo' mind! I run around to the front of the theater. I tell him I'm sorry but he doesn't really seem to care one way or the other. they'll let me back in. using my fingernails and utter skill. 89 . I put my card back in my pocket. "Uh-oh. When I reach Ziemer. I pat my pocket. and asked. just bought yourself a date night with yourself." she says. It's almost as though Ziemer was my shield. machine gun-like bursts. Once back inside. I can't help but smile. I tell her that I'm actually parked right outside the exit door behind the screen and that I'll just go out that way."Oh man. It was a good feeling. crappy rom-com! To the back door I return." I smile then remove the ticket stubs from my jean pocket. My Vespa was parked closer so I told her to hop on and I'd take her to her car. you know what?" I ask with mock surprise. When the movie ended. if that thing closes you'll be locked out. She's in the car now and is there any way I could return the tickets. then reclaim my seat beside her as the lights begin to dim." She snorted. getting to my feet. preventing the lock from clicking shut. hand the man working in the ticket booth my two stubs and explain to him that I just bought these tickets but my date started feeling very ill. I remove my insurance card and slide it between the frame and the door. letting her know the keys are safe and sound. Take that. and kiss her on the top of the head and tell her I'll be right back. cash in pocket. The atmosphere was still ripe with sounds of pesky teenagers (How did I get so old so fast?) but it didn't seem to bother me as much now. What?" "I think I left my keys dangling in my ignition. "You sure a teenager would want to drive off in that thing?" "You." I bend over. "Be careful. I walk down the steps and behind the giant movie screen and open the rear exit. like her joke was so witty. "I have my ticket stubs. She rolls her eyes at me and I tell her I'll be right back. She hooks her arm around mine again. (let's just say I'm glad I got my money back) we walked together to the parking lot. warding off all the evils and annoyances the human race fires at me in rapid. and carefully open the door back up." I say.

I was used to only getting laid by lying to women. Once inside. It's like. she entered her car and followed me to my house. The dinner was nice. I asked if she would like to come back to my house. Um. here. I just laid there. Something my life had lacked for so many years. When all was said and done. in complete shock. this was not a lie. timidly. top of the line water I am offering you. eventually kicking my legs over the side of the bed and into a standing position. I had no idea what had happened. right? I didn't make any comments about my beliefs that a vegetarian diet is the best option for the body. Something that. slack-jawed until she said she was sorry and exited my bedroom. it's really good water. we were in my bedroom. I really wasn't. I really was looking for just good company. Long strands of saltwater streaked down her cheeks as she said. I filtered the shit out of that water. Everything seemed to be going well then boom. Hell. she 90 . this. even when she ordered meat sauce. In the distance. naked." And with that.At her car. though. out of nowhere. I never knew I wanted. My brain finally regained control over my body and we propped myself up. "But. I promise. looking at her." Not exactly the words I was hoping to hear. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I noticed the beautiful woman next to me sobbing. I heard the front door open and close. Women. we laid together under the covers. followed by the trailing sound of a car. so I just continued staring. I said it innocently." "I like water. Not a big fan. high-end H2o. seriously. I think I only have water?" Sadly. "Shit. I don't have any coffee. Um. she rolled herself off the bed and clumsily began stepping into her clothes. This time. I filled up a glass with filtered ice cubes and even morefiltered. ooookay With her face still tear-streaked. I couldn't even find a word to say. "This wasn't supposed to happen. I zombie-walked into the bathroom and splashed some water over my face and retraced the evening’s steps to see where something could have gone wrong. "Maybe for a cup of coffee or something?" She said. I wasn't expecting sex. up until that point. I think she was impressed because before I knew it. ever-so-smoothly.

the movie was a typical paint-by-numbers shitfest of the so-called Rom-Com variety. I was still as confused as ever about the night's developments. I just couldn't turn everything off and settle in for some rest. she’d feel the need to immediately depart after sex. alarming but not alarmed 91 . Had she seen my messenger bag yet? I couldn't remember. could it? Chicks dig the Vespa and she seemed to enjoy riding around on it the other night. why did she sleep with me? I splash another round of cold water on my face and rub my eyes back into focus. coupled with poor direction and basic lack of talent from pretty much everyone involved. I played my cards right. I turn the shower on and wait for the water to heat to an appropriate enough temperature to wash the foul stench of fornication from my godlike body. I know I did. just like always. In fact. Some uneducated. so I doubt. obnoxious turds of human life sometimes call them a man-purse or a murse. There is no way she could have known about my ticket scam. then just crawled back into bed. until I eventually got out of bed and suited up. barely dry. Women. She didn't appear nearly as shallow as I was. fully expecting to get a decent night's sleep. and look down upon the men who are secure enough in their masculinity to notice the massive benefits of carrying one. So I did what I had to do. I kept my mouth shut and pretended to laugh at the asinine attempts at humor whenever she would laugh. And if that was such a turnoff. still naked. But yeah. turned and crazy-danced in my sheets. Sure. the Vespa wasn't a deal-breaker at all. I tossed. but for some reason. I was wrong. Not like she could think I have horrible taste in cinema and finally realized it while lying next to me. even in the presence of the murse. I would have offered her many insights into good films and she could have worked on her taste a bit. my body was tired. either. If she would have asked.probably didn't even realize what I ordered. but she picked it. She can't blame me for NOT pointing out the fact that her movie choice lacked in everything from writing to acting. My mind was tired. Not me. What else was there? It couldn't have been the Vespa. I stepped into the shower and washed the stank from my body. I think it actually helped me land the date in the first place.

fuck-you of a house with ridiculous pillars around the back patio. but not in the order. The light that was scattered into a vague suggestion of shape and color from the frosting is removed. Before me are two sets of sliding glass doors. Behind that is what I would consider the junk side of the house. It's pretentious enough to make me hate the people living there so I make it my choice. On the other side of the house is a long strip of freshly mowed grass. God knows what’s going on upstairs. I take this is a good sign. A gaudy. Not enough to make an educated guess as to the house being still. this one much closer to my own neighborhood. padlocked. allowing you to peek in through the strip of tape. Not necessarily filled with junk. like the trash and recycling cans. I dig through my bag and find my roll of tape and set it up on the window. Through the kitchen I am able to see most of the living room and some of the hallway. To peek in through a frosted piece of glass. but more to keep building items or other gaudy shit that could withstand outdoor conditions and be kept hidden. I survey the yard. Around me is patio furniture of high quality.I Vespa over to another country club. it's a good enough bet that the stuff inside will be even better. My hatred for golf and all things golf-related gets the best of me again as I begin focusing all my attention on houses lining the course. but it works well enough. On the north side is a large storage shed. it looked like the figure of a really fat woman who has her belt cinched up to nearly asphyxiating tightness. I giggle at the thought of such a thing. It's not crystal clear. when possible. which is frosted. a large window and a small window. simply take a strand of everyday Scotch tape and press it firmly to the glass. I stop and turn into the first back patio I pass. Another good thing to look for when scouting houses. If they're rich enough to spend tons of money on furniture they only use a fraction of their time at home. 92 . two story. The rear of the property is fenced in with a metal gate that Snoop could probably hurdle over and I waste no time making my entrance. In actuality. Always. stay off grass All the shades are pulled on the doors and main windows and my only way of peeking in comes from the small window. and begin stalking around looking for just the right house. presumably over the sink. I enter on the eighth hole and begin my stalking by foot. When I remember that I really don't care about who I hit tonight. Behind me was the swimming pool that resembled a vague figure eight.

Self-destructiveness be damned. You never know these days. It was locked. considering if it was even armed. It was locked. though. which would mean there was a better than even chance the curtains would be opened. It just would have made me feel better about entering blind. so I was banking on the window not even being wired. the choice it obvious. I grab hold of the railing and lift myself up and over. I began to shimmy my way up a pillar. It was a ballsy move and in hindsight I wish I would have had my tranq gun. when I realized that my black outfit and roll of tape would be no match for a shotgun blast to the face. or maybe I'm just being selfdestructive after the enormous failure of my evening. The window is small and it would take a lot of flexibility to squeeze ones-self into it. both with large glass doors. but I decide to go for it. I tried the spare bedroom first. hoping it is unlocked. I ruled out child's bedroom. so there will be no morning sunshine blasting into the room in the early morning. But if it comes down to me getting busted or some prick taking a dart in the neck and sleeping it off. From the layout of the house.Maybe I am apathetic enough tonight. would be my hope that the doors would be unlocked. Another ballsy thing to do considering I have not checked for an alarm. two separate rooms leading to the deck. Didn't matter either way. I was right. I surmised the master bedroom was on my left and perhaps a guest bedroom on the right. That's the whole point. When I reach the top. folding it nicely and placing it in a pocket of my bag so as to not leave behind any evidence. right? Or the twenty-fifth floor of a major Beverly Hills condo skyrise. just on a hunch. This was based on 93 . As I leisurely and stilly make my way up the large stone column. I removed one glove and peeled the tape from the window. No one could possibly enter from a second story building. which I acquired shortly after. I am hoping for easy access into one of two rooms. that no half-decent parent would give their child a room with easy access to a suicide trap and no gate around the pool. What's the point of living on a golf course if you do not enjoy the view? The second. Maybe even unwired to an alarm. which lead me to another calculated conclusion that it was not used often. People are so confident about safety on all the bottom floors that they get careless about the uppers. And it's not like tranquilizers are lethal. I tug on the window. The back of the house is facing west. right? (More on that later) The sloppiness and pompous feelings of safety are used greatly to my advantage.

the fact that it was locked and the fact that I could see inside. No alarm. From that. Silent alarm would still allow me ample time to get in and out. food and toiletries from my regular clients and. judging by all the fancy stereo and television equipment and utter lack-of-man in her bed. I exited the house through the ground floor and made my way around the side to the shed. I had wondered if her night had ended as fucked up as mine had. She probably took everything the man loved in the divorce just out of spite. I hoped so. I assume the proper. Perhaps she had had a gentleman caller earlier in the night. Nice sleuthing skills. none of this strikes my fancy. remove the top and bottom from the can using scissors. directly under the slumbering woman. The chimerical life I had created for this woman in my mind had led me to the magnanimous decision to reclaim all her ex-husband's goods for myself. at least none noticeable. Littered across the kitchen counter were the remains of what appeared to be this evening's dinner. holding my breath. It appeared to be a lot of food for just the one woman I saw sleeping upstairs. erect. I get my movies. I kneel down beside the bed. I began to think that this woman was a divorcee. I picked it with a beer can from the recycling bin. and flatten it so you have a rectangular sheet of metal. I simply have no way of getting it home. Down below is the normal. Honestly. It slid open silently and I quickly and mutely ducked inside. human style walking and make my way downstairs. clenching my bag to my side tightly. cut from the bottom two triangles that meet in the middle at the bottom so what you are left with looks like a boxy. with that piece. It was padlocked but really pitifully. 94 . I peeked in through the glass and saw a woman sleeping peacefully and alone. letter M. Now. cut out another rectangle approximately one inch by three inches. or in my case. Once in the hallway. I took my chances and removed the WD-40. am I right? I tried the door on my left. Empty boxes from a Thai place I had heard of but had never actually been to were stacked in a row. rich-bitch cornucopia of scattered goods and entertainment merchandise. a box cutter. Scoring one more giant point for men everywhere! I remembered the storage shed on the side of the house. There is a nightlight coming from the bathroom that I turn away from and wait for my eyes to adjust. I crab-walk from the bedroom. I had an idea. Fold the top a quarter of the way down then fold the two side parts up and over. sprayed down the track and tugged on the door. To pick a combination-style padlock with a beer can. as much as I'd like that television. When they do.

china. I go back inside and lock the door behind me. it was so the lurching beast of a man could have some light while his stomach wrestled with the Thai food. What a shitty bed for such a nice house! I held my breath. I load everything carefully into the shed and lock it back up. The light from the bathroom provides just enough luminance that I can make my way through without use of my penlight. to the Thai food. I spied out from underneath and saw the man's bare feet stop at the foot of the bed. I make my way back upstairs to grab some jewelry and take my leave. movies and silverware. again. aside from a few tools and what looks to be a giant Santa Clause. wrapping its cords around itself and throwing a blanket over top. it was vacant. The nightlight wasn't on to offer security for the slumbering woman. Once the shim has cleared the bar and is inside the locking mechanism. I dropped and rolled under the bed. The man let out a painful grunt which I contributed. I'll come back for it later when I am more prepared. Curse my amazing olfactory senses! I spun around and looked for where to go. I wouldn't be able to make it out either door without being spotted so I did the only thing I could think of. I need blankets and sheets so I don't scratch up my merch.wrapping it around a pen or something equal in size to the bar on the padlock. I move it into the shed. nearly right on top of me. I open the shed door and am pleased to see it is nearly empty. I tiptoe past the front of the bed and to her vanity desk. slowly push and twist the metal and ta-da. I open the first drawer and help myself to a handful. in the space previously occupied by their television. I go back to the living room and unhook the massive flat screen television. I ascend the stairs slowly and cautiously and peak in on my girl. Still quiet. I don't want anyone to know how I got in. controlled breaths of someone obviously in repose. Lucky. The door slid open and the stench was nearly unbearable. your lock is now opened. I begin opening closet doors down the hallway in search of a linen closet. I leave a new Spiderman action figure I had just stolen from Rite-Aid (sorry dad!) standing. I smile and make my way back inside. My hand is reaching in to the second drawer when I hear the toilet flush. His weight was enough to make the springs above crush down on me like a trash compactor. He turned and sat. Slide the pen out leaving your metal in a cylinder shape. Wrap the metal around the bar and slide the pointed side of the shim into the lock. 95 . combat ready. Once I find what I need. I do this over and over with all the stereo equipment. She has the slow.

Doris?! She said. He yelled. (Again. From there. He got us! He called me a son of a bitch and a few other choice words. From there. though. but I didn't get so lucky. True. I jumped and grabbed ahold of the roof. What the hell was that all about? Later. I had hoped he would be returning to the toilet to fight it out with round two. I heard her ask. all I could think about was: Did that guy call me The Action Bandit? stop! or my tranq will shoot There was nothing about me in the paper the following morning.) That made me even happier to have stolen his stuff. We've been fucking robbed. I scooted out from underneath. It's that fucking Action Bandit! He yelled. I heard the woman gasp as she sprung up from the bed and headed to her man's side. He’s still here? The man responded. using my dad's breath-holding exercise he had taught me so well in my youth. I would do a little research. (His words. He yelled. I heard a clangorous roar of WHAT THE FUCK echo its way north and straight into my brain like an icepick. The man burst back into the bedroom. Ted!. opened the door and made my way to the patio. I am quite fast and lean and far stronger than my appearance would 96 . releasing the GI Joe Kung Fu Grip the mattress had placed on my spine. but that was to be expected seeing as it was the middle of the night when I hit. The hall light flicked on and I heard him lumber his fatass down the stairs. For now. until the man stood back up. Why the fuck would he still be here. though. I jumped to the neighboring roof and nonchalantly climbed down the front of their house and to my bike. pulled myself up. then set off to argue down the stairs. He said he was but he had a bad case of the squirts. Loud. my blood felt like it had been microwaved and I had never felt more energized before in my life. not mine) He blamed it on the shitty Thai food that she had insisted on being a bitch about and ordering. I never want to be in a situation like that again completely unarmed. not mine. Goliath-like steps came climbing back up the stairs.I heard a woman's voice asking if the man was okay. I was busy looking up proper means of defense. I laid there. I don't know. Thanks. My heart was pounding. I started thinking more and more about what that man had called me: The Action Bandit. and walked to the side ledge. On my ride home. his words.

I wouldn't have time to measure out the appropriate dose.suggest. Side effects for humans include a temporarily severe loss of melanin. that has never been my goal or intention. In small amount. confusion. paranoia and xerostomia (cotton mouth. loss of teeth and extreme halitosis. can you just take a seat for a minute while I estimate your weight and load this gun. resulting in stark white hair for the following few months. vomiting. Instead. is the chance of detriment. T7: General wildlife anesthetic. If something can bring down an elephant in 2. Excuse me. I've never 97 . Pinky swear. such as walruses. xerostomia. -Krotatophomeline. with a little bit of forged documentation. all of which begin occurring almost exactly twelve hours after ingestion. if you's a gangsta. even with the smallest dose you could administer. AKA Kro: Used to calm large monkeys or small apes when attacking. But I digress. I am not out to harm or injury anyone. It'll only take a sec. sir. Side effects for humans include delayed but unannounced loss on bowel and bladder control. I find Petrotoline is way too powerful and would kill a human instantly. There is a reason anesthesiologists need a doctorate in the subject before they can practice. AKA Poly: Administered in large amounts to medium-sized sea-life. but if it comes to either me or him. Very tricky. Scrolling down the pages. I have to run through a list of toxins and make a decision. That is where a tranquilizer gun will come in handy. I continue scrolling until I have a small list made up of three. it can successfully knock out a human in under four seconds. something to do with the human body’s chemistry. Given that. true non-lethals. The big dilemma that spawns. -Tributrofin-7. Thanks Al Gore and your amazing internet. blurred vision. will be sent to any PO Box of your choosing. of course I choose me. Not bloody likely. dumbass humans don't stand much chance. Too small of a dose may just piss someone off even more and too large a dose could kill them. in care of whatever bullshit zoo you make up. Of course. and I have been practicing my fighting again.6 seconds.) -Polytretrazine. AKA Tri-Bute. however. The guns they'll sell to anyone and the drugs. temporary amnesia. Side effects upon waking include: Jitters. And I would rather get it over with quickly and easily. again. if I ever had to use one. tranqs can be tricky. feelings of anxiety and. so I am fairly confident I would come out the victor in your average mono-y-mono fisticuffs. You'd be surprised just how easy it is to get these drugs. Tri-7.

(I'm aware I'm including myself in to the High-End Category. I could wait. Those would be my go-tos. which is just a fancy named for a well-trained security guard commissioned by a company for the sole-purpose of guarding a specific MacGuffin. if I was ever caught by a heater. Keep listening. We're of no use dead. Right? She wasn't so innocent and naive that she truthfully didn't know that even the slightest venture into sex may occur under such circumstances? Coming inside was always a gamble. Did she have some master plan? Did she work out some ridiculous date algorithm prior to last night's meeting? If so. but again. I don't stay petty for long. Everyone knows that. With expedited shipping. even better for the authorities. with extra doses of Poly and Kro. thieves are simply working a job. why did she come inside? Everyone knows what come inside really means. my wonderful Ziemer left my bedroom in tears mere hours ago. Then again. we're just too valuable alive to be put down with a Neanderthal’s weapon. but I hear the teeth fall out like ice-cycles from a house on a warm winter's day. They would be using these drugs. who hired them? How far back does it go? These are all questions every cop and F. I'm not out to ruin these people's lives. exactly.) My point is. NEED. That is what she told me. but this is the kind of stuff heaters and security and a lot of law enforcement use on people in my work. they will not be using bullets on me. using the T7 would prove to be quite comical. no. Sure. knocking us out would probably sentence us to a lifetime of sloppy prison sex unless we turned snitch. Shoot to kill is definitely not the proper way in dealing with high end thievery. But. at least there's no dry mouth. the fact of the matter is. As a segue from sloppy prison sex… It was now time to get back to the much more pressing issue of just why. they should be arriving in three to five business days. the same way I would be using those same drugs on them. to know. Often time. just free them of their valuables. I decided to order all three. and you won't read it in any book or see it in any bullshit Hollywood movie. This wasn't supposed to happen. 98 . just in case.seen it. No thief wants a murder rap. it may be good to have around. Men depend on it and every woman in the world should be aware of this and enact proper countermeasures should she not want to brave the risk. And. Nobody will tell you this.B. But hey.I agent want. Aside from the embarrassment caused to a thief's ego after enduring these side effects. especially with the higher end thieves.

It was above average size and amazing." "Who cares? Do as Slick from Slick and the Dimples once said: Love 'em and leave 'em. and I cannot come up with a single rationale of thinking that would conclude in her leaving. Never get into that car. it's almost for certain that any other parent could handle the task. let's be honest here. according to my arithmetic. This is what parents teach their children at a very young age. And it's not like I'm some uncircumcised freak trying to stab her with some fleshy sleeping-bag-wrapped penis. I ask my dad. It's not too small to induce any sort of ridicule nor is it some King Kong dong which would cause discomfort. Taking all that into consideration and combining it with the glorious head of hair. when all else fails. But. kid. but he still manage to squeeze in that one important lecture. she should have stuck around for round 2. killer good look and lean. muscular." my dad tells me while Snoop has his disgusting dog-tongue buried so far into my dad's ear it's probably tickling his brain. but I can't figure this one out. son. Adonis-like physique. actually." 99 . Most women did. And. if Bad-Hat-Harry could manage not to louse it up. And just look at what it’s attached to. Shit goes through women's brains faster than white people driving through Compton and they're not smart enough to keep track. She certainly didn't seem to not want the sex. don't spend too much time worrying what some crazy broad thinks. so it couldn't have been that. she obviously called an audible and switched things up. My father taught me shit no child should ever learn. fatherly advice or no shit "Girls are crazy. Never step foot in someone unfamiliar's house. Yep." "What the fuck is Slick and the Dimples?" "They were from here. In fact. Impulses that are usually wrong. as always. so they act on impulse. Okay. My point is. Never take candy from a stranger. "I know. That's why they're all so crazy.This is common knowledge. But girls are the crazy ones. Even if her initial plan for the evening didn't include sex. They were on Star Search once… " "What the fuck is Star Search?" "Nevermind.

Give her some time to work out her issues. "I guess." He laughed at this and. If she's still crazy. "But. didn't she?" All I can respond with is. I tell my father. something was taken and needs to be replaced. this girl is different." "Well. As Snoop is still licking for brain matter. dad. I'm trying to be serious. "Fine. I can see how bad the mention of her stung my dad. 100 . All those personality tests you used to give me are being put to maximum usage and I get nothing from her. My dad's smile fades to sullenness. He is about to ask me if she is a thief but I interrupt and don't let him have the opportunity." "Oh thank God. actually. He cuddled back down beside him and seemed to fall right to sleep. He said we would give it another day or two then go back. "And she's good. "I would have smacked-" "Damn-it. far away from my mother. I thought you were going to say you wanted to steal her heart. Like. "I can feel it."Was mom crazy?" I ask. It perks me up a bit and I tell him about last night's adventure and the close call. like something is missing. genuinely curious. as well. seemingly concluding the topic of my female problems. And fun to be around. It doesn't suit you. She's real. I did as well. defeated. just send her my way and I'll-" "Dad! Gross! Stop it!" "Sorry. She married me. She's not like those loosey-goosey other girls. whatever they may be." and hope the conversation sways back to my problems and far. I just think she is lonely and sad inside." "And you want to-" "Yeah." Snoop appeared to have gotten to what he was digging for and finally retracted his disgusting tongue from my dad's even-more-disgusting ear. and see what's up. "Of course. I really like her. Wait until tomorrow and give her a call. here." I said. Which was fine with me. "I'll-" "Any other action lately?" he asked. much as I tried not to." I say. He laughed and told me it was an ingenious idea to hide the loot in their own backyard. She's an all-around good person. He seemed pretty anxious to accompany me on its retrieval. I was envious. I want to replace it. I could tell the question caught him off-guard and I wish I could retract it. Just give her a call tomorrow." I can see where my dad's train of thought is headed when his eye's go from half-mass to Bo-Jangles wide. boy. knock it off. And the best thing is that I never know what she is thinking.

" followed by a short pause." He smiled and told me he hoped so. In fact." "Agreed. BPD. An old trick my dad uses when dealing with cops. Business is a-boomin'. "Who in the world could that be? I don't think I ordered anything. "What do I know about it? You mean when you hang your clothes out on a line and let the sun dry them?" "Sunshine Laundry." my father says. Was something wrong. "Hold on. I was curious. I followed at a vague distance. The voice says. was the laundromat in trouble? Was there something wrong with my dad's business partner? I had no idea. My dad stays silent." the voice corrected. I saw my dad's brow furrow quizzically. how much money could my dad even have left to launder? I haven't seen him leave 101 . Dumpy little piss-hole up on the east side? Pays you? Ringing a bell now?" "Ohhh. I need to-" I was interrupted by a knock on the door. Terrific little place." Another knock. Over there on the poor side of town where people can't seem to afford a simple washer and dryer. but I'm pretty certain he flashed the world famous Alex Hollins shit-eating grin that made the women swoon. "Maybe we can scam some more money from them. apparently." He gently pushed Snoopy off his side and rose to his feet. That'd just be stupid. "What do you know about Sunshine Laundry?" Uh oh. "Detective. "K. I can't see. My dad answers the door and from the kitchen I hear a man's voice from the patio. It says "Hey. One word answers. my friend." the voice says. seeing as no one suspects the same house will get hit twice. as always." my father replies. another sure-fire way to penetrate the skin. Of course. You know what I'm talking about. one letter answers. probably some Mormons. We don't want to use mine. I better get going. he told me.It would probably be fairly easy. "I'm Detective Anderson. The skepticism was obvious and I started to feel a little uneasy." My dad stays cool. Shit. in this case. Idiots. Look. officer?" he says. "I'll steal us a truck to use. with mock surprise. "What can I do ya for. "The Sunshine Laundry. Or. You ever want to get under a cop's skin? Repeatedly refer to him as a lower-rank. "Right." "Who knows." "Is it?" the voice asked. We don't get many visitors.

" he said. "Douchebag." 102 . Coming to the house was a last-ditch effort to get me to confess. He's got bupkis on me and he knows it. kiddo. My dad closed the door in the same manner he would if he was saying farewell to a dear friend. My father should have pulled out of this a long time ago. I promise. award-winning zinger. Hollins. If he had anythinganything at all. he says "Did you see that guy's cellphone clipped to his belt?" And again.his house in weeks." "That very well may be. The money in Switzerland is untouchable and untraceable. I'll be seeing you around. overflowing bag of douche. he mutters his totally original. Shocking. and walked past me back to the sofa." "Well. He turned and saw me standing in the kitchen. I tells ya!" "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that. "That's all you have to say? Douchebag?" "What do you want me to say? He was a huge. I wasn't born yesterday." the voice pondered. Maybe months. my good man. "Yes. never once losing his composure. I am a fine." Shit. from time to time. Just great. "I've heard rumors it has been known to launder money. dad! But he knows about the laundromat! And he knows about you!" "Relax.I would be arrested. Or. upstanding-" "Cut the crap. quite matter-of-factly and rather smugly. at least taken down for questioning. I know about you and I know about Vegas. All the money from the Russian bride sweetheart scam he's running is in Russia." ugh! "Seriously?" I yell at my dad. not to his son. that is simply shocking news." my dad answered. Son of a bitch has nothing. He's certainly not working any jobs or else he would have told me about them. jaw unhinged and wide-eyed. would you?" "Of course not." "Hmmm. "Douchebag. "It sure is. but now he appears to be under some pressure due to his poor lack of judgment. To his dog.

He's been doing this for a long. worrywart. I rubbed my eyes and frustratingly tried to see his side of view on this." he said." I heaved out a loud." "I don't want… Emergen… Are you kidding me right n-… Dad! Try to come back to reality here." I said as I walked out the door." "Besides. No matter how hard my brain worked. "To be continued. You think this guy is just going to give up because you flashed him some panty-dropping smile and insulted his rank? He's not. so it's pointless to stay involved unless you want to go down with the ship. This way of thinking my dad was taking was boggling my mind. Regardless. Clean-Pants Ed-?" "-And even if he does go down. "Just be cool. annoyed sigh and turned on my heel like a mad housewife. Or whatever other outdated pseudonym my father had resurrected."You need to get out of that business. That would be having nothing. should the worst happen. dad! And fast! You can't have much money left to wash. I watched both my movie "rentals" and looked up the fun facts." "Calm down. son. I was leaving. "we always have our emergency contingency plan. restless and fidgety until I decided to do something about it. It's a very big goddamn something if you ask me. There." "I'm sorry." I was getting dizzy. After the slamming sound finished echoing in my head. "Besides. Having my father's name and some background information is something. If the cop truly had nothing." He continued petting Snoopy until he returned to his snooze-fest aside my father's lap. I lay in bed. stopping my thinking dead in its tracks. I go down. though. I heard my dad call out from the sofa." Or chick. I looked up and down the street for any sign of the detective then walked back home. kiddo. I assumed the conclusion was somewhere along the lines of "go with that broad. Along with several other crooks that have their hand in his cookie jar. you think Clean-Pants Eddie is just going to roll over for these ass-clowns? Of course not. he wouldn't have been here asking him questions. long time. I could tell by his voice. I've been in hot water before and always managed to escape before I was cooked. Or dame. 103 . When nighttime was upon me. "Let me know how things… " That's all I got before I was out of earshot. I was stumped. you think he's just going to take the wrap and leave me free and alone? If he goes down.

take two

You know what the easiest job in the world is? Robbing a house for the second night in a row. Yeah. Talk about your unexpected hit. Especially when everything, meaning the cops and principle parties involved, assume everything has already been stolen. What else of value could you possibly want and who would be so stupid as to go back after a clean getaway? Well, that's where people are wrong. Day #2 is as easy as pissin' in a river. (Whatever that means. It's another one of my dad's.) Long, boring story cut short, my dad actually ends up taking his truck to the house and we easily load up all my goods. It's a quick inand-out job that nobody even notices. Fact is, after a robbery, especially when the victims are home, the house is almost always vacant the next night. Nobody wants to stay there. They always stay with friends, get a hotel, whatever. They don't stay. That just makes my job that much easier. As for neighbors, apparently no one gives a shit. After a robbery, most everyone is just happy it didn't happen to them, and just the same, assume their street is now safe. We're in and out in six minutes. It was almost boring. The stuff I stole, I really didn't even need. In fact, I didn't even bother unloading it from my dad's truck. It's still just sitting in his garage and I'm back home. Sitting on my sofa. Wondering what the hell I did wrong with Z. I pick up my phone and stare at it. I hit the home button and my screen flickers to life. I continue to stare until it fades and eventually returns to sleep. I do this for ten minutes. Time to man up, Fin. I hit the home button for the God-knows-how-many-nth time and actually dial her number. To my delight, she answers. Hi, she says to me. Not exactly the warm welcoming I was hoping for but at least she answered. Right? "Hey. Um. It's me." "Yes. I know," she says. Then she tells me she has caller I.D. This is really not going how I wanted. "Oh. Yeah. Well, I mean. Um. I guess I was. I mean… " Good lord! Say something, Stupid! "Yeah," she says. "Hey, look. I'm sorry about just leaving."

104

Okay, this is getting better. "Yeah? About that… " "I just had some stuff on my mind. I handled it the complete opposite way I should I have. I'm really sorry." Wow. "Wow, um. Thanks. I mean, if I did anything wrong I'm really-" "No, it wasn't you, Fin. I promise. I have some issues." "Well, hey, if you've got nothing going on tonight, maybe you could come over. Maybe pop some popcorn or eat dinner or something. I know you like rom-coms and I have a few classics you've probably never seen. I promise you'll love them. I'm kind of in to cinema, ya know. Have you ever seen It Happened One Night?" "No. That'd be nice." "Oh. Wow. Okay. Great. Um. What time?" "You tell me. You're the host." "Um. Sev- seven?" "Sev-seven it is." "Great. I'll see you there. Then. I mean. Okay. Bye." I ended the call. Perhaps I should have made myself appear slightly smoother to you than the stuttering bumblefuck I actually was, but I'm being truthful with you here, no point in making shit up at this point, am I right? Anyway… I began trying to straighten up a little so I wouldn't have to do it later. I still needed to kind-of take a nap, too. I hadn't gotten much sleep lately and something told me, what with the good news and all, I'd be able to catch a few Zs. Get it? I finished cleaning then put on my shoes and stepped out the front door. No need for my fake grocery bags, this time. I was only after one thing. One measly little thing I saw in my Monday's house a few weeks back. Sure, it wasn't Monday, but I was willing to take the risk. I was out of the house only fifteen minutes, and when I returned, I had a palm full of little blue pills. My performance would definitely be noteworthy tonight! I was wrong about being able to sleep. I was too happy, or excited, I don't know which, to rest. Ziemer showed up right on time, this time sporting hair a very light shade of yellow. She looked lovely. "Come in, come in. Love the hair." "Thank you."

105

We hugged. Awkwardly, I might add. Perhaps my needing the pills tonight wasn't as sure a thing as I thought. Naw, who am I kidding. Look at me. They'll be going to use. We decided to order pizza because, frankly, my grocery selection was that of a typical bachelor, and like a typical man, I failed to plan ahead. No bother. I was polite and paid for it, at least. Hello, sex! Am I right? Anyway, she explained to me that she was kind of having some family problems or some shit, and then how she never does that, and blah blah blah, and in all honesty, I didn't really care. All I cared about was that she was here. And I was happy. And at the end of the day, that's all that matters. After getting through the whole never-ending story of her problematic current situation with various branches of her family, we retired to the sofa to watch Clark Cable and Claudette Colbert. According to the internet, you are to pop your correct dosage of Viagra around ninety minutes before the sexual intercourse is to occur. Sneaky Sneaky Mr. Finnick Hollins snuck off to the bathroom twenty minutes after the movie started. This would allow time enough to segue into the bedroom and show her my skills with the lady parts then, time for action (bandit!). I had no idea what the dosage was, so I went with two pills. It works for aspirin, why not? After my chemical fill, I returned to the sofa and flung my arm up over Z. After no resistance on her part, I knew I was as good as gold. The movie ended and I made my move. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Within five minutes we were making our way to my bedroom, and ninety minutes be damned, knocking on the inside of my shorts was the biggest goddamn beast ever. Seriously, I didn't know he had it in him. Z had stopped off in the bathroom for a second and I stood on my knees on my bed, just ready to unleash the newly awakened monster in my pants. From the bathroom, Z calls out, "You hear about that cat burglar around town called The Action Bandit? Pretty stupid, huh?" Um, wait, what? I call back, "Yeah I guess." From the bathroom, "No?" "Naw, no way. Not stupid. That guy seems pretty awesome." From the other side of the door, "You can't honestly think that rinkydink, Bakersfield low-life, small-timer is awesome. You are not being serious, are you?"

106

Sleep was pretty uncomfortable and even when I woke. So much blood had been pushed into it now it was actually pointing me in the face. I love a good heist flick as much as the next guy. "Soooo. I wouldn't be leaving the house that day. pointing at my chin. So. It's time for the Action Bandit to hit the big time! oh. Lesson learned from the previous night? You'll never guess. you are ridiculous! Quit being so goddamn stubborn. hollywood Don't get me wrong." I hear the door open. alright. I believe." "Oh my god. Yes. After hours of trying to get rid of my unwanted new guest." "I'll give you something. Who robs houses in Bakersfield? Good lord!" Her eyes made contact with my new friend who was currently pointing straight at her face. No. don't change the subject. stiff as a corpse. but sometimes Hollywood puts such stupid shit into them that it takes me completely out of the movie and I can do nothing more but roll my eyes. innocently. I eventually had to give up. Aloha. Regardless. She says. Not with my ego at stake. In shock. Engine starting. He was awesome! I spent my whole life lying but I couldn't lie about this. "No." Screams of frustration. Hand. Maybe the Action Bandit likes staying local. I didn't know what to do. this things not going to fuck itself. "Yes?" I ask. Tires screeching. "You are out of your goddamn mind if you think that hack could cut it in the big leagues. he was still laying on my stomach. My ego wouldn't allow me to admit The Action Bandit was lame." I had nothing to say. Door slamming. I sat there on the bed.Low life?! Small timer?! "Of course I'm being serious. Just admit that The Action Bandit is lame. I'm pretty sure he could pull off a major heist if he wanted to. I said the only thing that popped into my mind. "Where's its arms and legs? What the hell… ?" "You likey?" She shook her head. Just give me this one. my wine-bottle sized ding-dong continuing to grow somehow. 107 . Mr.

if the lasers are protecting a specific item. including the stupid air-duct. But not for Hollywood. or that old lady who still thinks she is twenty from the T-Mobile commercials will put on a skin-tight outfit and sexily slink around. or whatever. will usually always be labeled some mediocre. But Hollywood thinks you are stupid. I could go on and on like this. NO! Ugh.Here. like a piece of art or what-not. is armed with the infamous red laser beams! You've seen it around a billion times before. Ever see Mission: Impossible with Tom Cruise? Of course you have. but that would be boring. Full proof. You know when he's dangling from the air ducts and the French fella is somehow holding on to him and it's really exciting? Well. And come on. too. you kind of are. Anyway. you trap the shit out of everything. never. Ugh. Total bullshit! No one would spend that much money on that high-tech of a security device and then just leave the air duct wide open. You ready for this? It’s the name! Superheroes get to make up their own names. you place them up the wall and across the wall. I'm going to tell you how The Action Bandit took Hollywood by storm! but first… Let me tell you what the major plus is to being a superhero instead of a crook. Usually awesome names. And. unless they’re fame-seeking attention whores who plan far in advance. Another French guy will breakdance through the lasers. up and over and down and under the lasers. you make the laser squares at least one square-inch smaller than the item. Crooks. Another thing in movies that I absolutely cannot stand is when a house. Instead. If you're using these stupid lasers you leave no room for failure. and you put a highly qualified heater sitting in the corner with an alarm linked to his steady pulse rate. 108 . And really. Nope. You don't place them randomly around a room. Hence. you want to successfully guard that room. mildly embarrassing pet-name from the brain trust of a bunch of media dumbasses. let me give you a few examples. those airducts were sparkling clean. forming perfect squares. or museum. The Action Bandit. guess what.

I loaded the duffle bag into my dad's truck and hit the 99 South freeway towards Los Angeles. Anything is better than The Action Bandit. He assumed I was staying local. much more. I just didn't know what. Along the streets stood giant. was actually in the Hollywood & Highland center where I was currently seated. The theater where the awards were to take place in two nights. I exited the 110 at Hollywood and Highland and parked in a parking garage near Mann's Chinese Theater. No more rinky-dink bullshit heists.Stupid. When I had everything I needed from my house. but now I am stuck with it. Much. stole his newspaper and sat on my front patio skimming through it. He just smiled and told me not to be stupid. They robbed me of an awesome moniker. This is where all the nominees get together and suck each other's cocks for being so much better than us commoners. the media has robbed me of something. grabbed an iced tea and sat amongst the tourists for a while. A little awards show known as The Oscars was happening this Sunday night. I knew how I was going to scale the heights. but I did insist on taking his truck and a few action figures from the box in the garage. golden Oscars. I went to my dad's and looted his closet. then got out. I decided it was time to go big. It's amazing what you can find out just by acting dumb. grabbed a duffle bag and loaded it with supplies. No. Front page of the entertainment section and it dawned on me. I returned inside. It's 109 . Huge banners hung from every building. No more lumber yards and kitchen cabinets. It reminds me of the horrible eighties movie Action Jackson. Quite literally. or even El Barto. and have fun. He would find out later just how stupid I was. In a sense. I didn't tell him where I was going. The traditional Oscar Brunch was to be held tomorrow morning and last until late afternoon. it was time for more. Billboards reminded us that Oscar Sunday was upon us. like The Ghost or The Phantom. The town was alive with a buzz you don't normally feel and I was here to take advantage of it. stupid name. and action After Ziemer hit the road last night and I was left with more than a bruised ego. I walked next door to Burt's house.

though. on loan or for keeps. in pathetic hopes for free advertising.also the time when almost every nominee would be out of their hotel room. I sat on my barstool and waited. Casa Del Mar and The Chateau Marmont. I was dressed in my dad's country-bumpkin tourist outfit. take it. You usually set it on your desk and forget about it. glorious balconies. You see where I'm going with this? If not. You throw them on the desk and go to brunch. but a woman nominated for Best Supporting Actress that year and now currently pushing Weight 110 . Virtually every room is occupied by someone with at least a little bit of recognition. Glorious. Here. The beauty about hotels is that anyone can enter them. Same goes with if you're given something you don't really care about. I'll let you borrow it. from designers. And waited. you'll know that you don't take very good care of said item. Have you ever been loaned something you didn't really even want? Like. I'm not going to say who it was. I got in my dad's truck and drove the few miles to Santa Monica and visited the Casa Del Mar first. The latter being where they usually stay when just hanging out in town or filming. This is where the stars would be shining. that they want you to wear. The hotel itself is gorgeous. The three major hotels where celebrities stay while in Los Angeles are Shutters. They all have lobbies and they all have bars. now image that you're a dickhole movie star and people are throwing diamonds and jewels at you. And that's what I was counting on. celebrities are given insane amounts of jewelry. Until I eventually spotted a celebrity or two. Shit. The upper floor had guest room balconies. I left my duffle behind and walked into the lobby and took a seat at the bar. For Oscar night. Do you give a shit about these items? Do you take extra special care of them and make sure they're safe at all times? Hell no. someone is trying to brag about something they have and think they're being a real great person by saying. open to the public. keep up. A huge U-shape structure with windows from each room facing the pool area and the beach. "Hey asshole. Nobody is wearing that to the brunch." Even though you really don't want it and could not actually give two shits less about the thing? If so. How come when people come to California they feel the need to wear pastels? Hideous. Well.

I discovered where one of the producers of the Oscar telecast lived. it was the top. I’m relying purely on luck that no 111 . dumbass white person. not as well known.Watchers shit on television while horribly singing Snap's horrible song I've Got the Power. camera hanging from around my neck. Shouldn't be too difficult. it's damn near impossible. be sure to leave the MAID sign on your door when you leave. A half days' worth of planning is never ideal for this type of situation. then exited the hotel. I hit Weight Watcher's room the next morning. I walked back to the other side and took the elevator down. not even the most hardcore of tourist. like a typical. accompanied by her entourage. Not far from where I was sitting acting dumb and no one. My own ego wouldn't even allow that ridiculous daydream. someone. I returned to the Casa Del Mar. I had a fifty-fifty shot of guessing which one was hers. say. If you're ever wanting to get your stuff stolen from a hotel. bodyguards. I returned to Hollywood & Highland and continued pretending to be confused and star struck. Probably the one with the greasy doorknobs and empty KFC buckets outside the door. with so much beefed up security. They've got security. In fact. I hate everyone equally. you name it. (See?) Robbing a celebrity's actual place of permanent residence is not easy. With a little research. I got to my feet and casually walked around the hotel lobby. No one is getting in or out. then hopped out onto the roof. I'm making this up as I go along. and with two suites per side. One door had a MAID sign dangling from it. lately. came in through the front door and headed towards the elevators to the left side of the entrance. Let the crook know you're not there. hopped on an elevator and took it to the top. I put my gloves on then removed my bolt cutters from the duffle bag and made quick work of the padlock. it's a joke. duffle bag in hand and bumblefucked around the lobby for a few minutes before taking the elevator to the second floor then taking the stairs to the roof. would give a shit about him. and we've got a totally different story. Of course. (Calm down. No one is going to bust into Brad and Angelina's place and expect to get away scot-free.) I walked to the other side of the hotel. then took the walk around to the other side where her suite would be. The other did not. I was close enough to the elevator to see which floor the woman got off on. But.

I took the rope from my bag and tied it to an air vent. When I see it is empty. peeking in the window to make sure the coast was clear. Here is where it gets tricky. Followed by another one. My arms began to ache and beads of sweat bubbled from my face. The smoke drifted up straight into my face. I lowered myself upside down like Spider-Man on to the balcony. over-weight black-female sass. Sorry for boring you. as she smoked her cancerstick and began striking odd poses as if she was being photographed. terribly exciting. but laying up there felt like eternity. giving it a few tugs to make sure it would support me. I ditch my tourist attire and slip into my all-black outfit. It is terribly nerve-racking and at the same time. grab everything I 112 . I was trying to listen for any disturbance in the room or the patio. I decided to go for it. Will they be accompanying her or will they stay behind? I wish I had my tranq gun. a woman yells that they're leaving. The woman came into view. I have no idea where her entourage is. And wait. I am lying flat on my back about twenty-five feet directly above my target’s room. I slide open the glass door. She should be leaving for the brunch any minute. A cigarette lighter. She walked to the end of the patio and flicked the butt down to the street below. all with that typical. And wait. She stood there for what seemed like an hour smoking that goddamn thing. standing less than four feet below me. The smoker disappears inside and I stay hanging there until my arms eventually give out and I drop down. From inside. I'm shocked. but the ocean and street noises were simply too loud. I find a spot near the ledge of the roof and sit. I climbed back up out of sight and held for five minutes. I heard them pack their stuff and leave but I remained frozen on the roof for another thirty minutes. When I felt it was safe. a voice yelling to the smoker to hurry up. Waiting is the worst part. It's a roll of the dice. but due to my lack of planning. Someone directly below me had lit a cigarette. but she sure did seem to enjoy playing the part. fucking finally.one will be using the roof today. I found it hard to believe anyone would take any interest in her. The sun is just beginning to peak up from the far-off mountains directly behind me. I clenched my eyes shut and tried my best to stay as still and quiet as possible. A menthol. By the time the sun is fully visible. I remain quiet and peek inside the room. I nearly dropped down when I heard a faint clicking noise. From inside.

Producer wasn't the only famous person who lived here. I exited three stories higher than needed and walked down the stairs. Apparently Mr. And stupidly. The sun was beginning to set and the big night was about to get started. Roads into Hollywood were blocked causing congestion everywhere else. leave a Luke Skywalker figure and climb back up the rope to the roof. My tuxedo was hanging in its bag from a hanger in the extended cab of my dad's truck. I changed into my tourist clothes. My destination wasn't the awards show. The next day. I got to Mr. Nothing too spectacularly difficult about the lock. even going so far as to make small talk during the ride. I packed up and left the room around three-pm. My mark lived on the twenty-fifth floor and I shared an elevator with several people. I was going to rob the producer while I was most certain he would be away. The camera in the lobby would have picked me up. I blended right in with the crowds. But what a ninety seconds! Back on the roof. Tonight was Hollywood's night and everyone seemed to be in a mad panic. zipped everything up nicely and dropped the duffle six stories down into some bushes. I knew this place was wired up the ass with security systems. The lobby was packed when I arrived. I had forgotten nice shoes so my Converse would have to do. Traffic was a mess because of the Oscars. In an out in less than ninety seconds. but with so many people dressed exactly like 113 . It was three miles away in a sky rise condo building called the Sunset Tower. With my tuxedo on. I was going in blind. pulled around back and threw the duffle in the bed and drove off to a sleazy motel where I stayed the night. I pulled into an alley and quickly changed into it. the door man opened the door for me and welcomed me in just as a large group of fellow formally-attired individuals were rushing out. Again. It was glorious. No one was the wiser. Producer's room and casually walked by it. with no ID and no questions asked. pulled a new padlock from my bag. The problem was. throw it in my bag. I was counting on that. I spent most of the night staring blindly at my take. I held my cellphone up to cover my face and had a bullshit conversation with myself all the way to the elevator.could. walked around the elevators and bumblefucked out the same way I bumblefucked in. Re-padlocked the door. I got in the truck. though. I hoped no one would notice.

but with that much adrenaline coursing through your body. slowly across the slick ledge. dad. not touching a thing. It had started to sprinkle.me. The rain would come and go in mild fits. The air is a lot colder that high up and I wished I had a sweatshirt with a hood. No security company. It's Dad. I carefully check the ID. making it glisten. back pressed firmly against the wall. I knock at the condo across the hall (which I later learned once belonged to Mr. When enough time had passed and I felt safe. Twenty-five stories up. when there is no answer. I cut through the condo. I carefully shuffled to the other side of the building. I figured I had a minimum of ninety seconds before anyone got here to check out the disturbance. it makes it damn-near impossible. Their mistake is my gain. son!" "What?" "You know what! I just checked the Times. Frank Sinatra!) and. As far as anyone else was concerned. I jimmy open the window and enter the condo. I stood and waited again. My idea was simple. I locked the door from the inside and turned to survey my situation. bothers to secure the non-patio side window on the twenty-fifth floor. But simple. My pocket begins vibrating." "This will have to wait until later. Little busy. Dangerous. It was harder than it sounds. crossing my original exit and making my way to the window of Mr. open the door and set off their alarm. On a ten inch. When I was far enough away from the room I exited from. I would be spotted. stone ledge. pick the lock. opened the window and climbed out onto the ledge. The light rain began to fall down on me and the ledge. With my back pressed firmly against the building wall. minding my step and the fact that should I pass by a window with the blinds open. no matter how high-tech. When I'm satisfied with my take and with Cobra Commander sitting on the dining room table. And slippery. I tried desperately to be as still as possible. I hardly stuck out. I slowly walked back. but still I waited. I leave out the window and step onto the ledge." 114 . My lips were chapping and a small trickle of running snot was making its way down towards my chin. I was just another Hollywood Phony-Baloney Shithead. I stood there for an hour to make sure the room had be thoroughly checked out and all parties involved convinced it was a false alarm. My phone. Obsessively. "Hello?" "Hol-y shit. I grab every richprick item of high value and shove it into my pockets. Producer.

I don't wait for his response. No mention of The Action Bandit but it did mention my good friend Luke Skywalker. print Tuesday's Times had the full story. Police were baffled how it was pulled off. currently empty. bathroom. I do. I hold my phone to my face again and make my way out. even though they had no way of knowing I was a man. People were asked what they thought of me. Women loved me. and men were envious. I just hang up. I open it and step inside. I don't touch a thing. Rednecks were begging me to break into their house just so they could flex their second amendment right "on my ass. The man in a tux. It's dark and quiet. My dad assured me someone would eventually make the connection and I would be big-time! Slept for twenty hours straight. 115 . I sit on the edge of the bed for six hours in silence. They make their way into the bedroom. etcetera. I can feel the vibrations in the building when the excitement in downtown Hollywood is over and all the non-stars are returning home. Fingers crossed that I get lucky. unnoticed. the woman in a gown. cut I returned home at sunrise. I walk straight out the front door and right back down into the crowd of people. I made the Los Angeles Times! I close the window behind me and scoot back around to a window to another. I was being talked about on entertainment news shows. with the full. The door to the residence opens and in stumbles a man and a woman. But I know what he meant. Dumb hicks. I hide under the guest bed and wait. and I am certain no one is home. I had called my dad back during the drive and he informed me the Weight Watcher's girl robbery was a small blurb on the front page. now seemingly all drunk and even more stupid than before. and when they're out of sight. short story on page three. The Action Bandit hit two very high-profile celebrities within twenty-four hours. condo. just cut through the large living room and make my way into a guest bedroom." Like I would ever waste my time on them in the first place.

that's a wrap I couldn't shake her. what the hell was going on? I had to know. When she pulled into an office building. I couldn't just show up at her house. cons. but it was worth a try. I didn't know what I had done wrong. Sounds more like personal security than insurance. After doing so. But they were wrong. Easy. I entered through the lobby and walked to the front desk to see what offices were here. but who cares? Was that really so major as to cut off all ties with someone? Is that so unforgivable? I don't think so. It was my only idea and I'm fully aware that it sucked and completely stolen from a sitcom. Sure. I went back home and waited until early morning. At four-am I got up. then. All I knew was that she worked in insurance. Only a team could pull off this kind of heist. If there is one thing I'm good at. Third floor.Cops were convinced I was not working alone. Took me about two hours to figure out her house. I decided that I should run into her somewhere. so maybe I could track her to work and wait for her lunch break. So. office 302. I followed her from a safe distance. Pathetic. I disagreed with her about a stupid cat burglar. At half past seven. it's profiling houses. It was only four stories so it shouldn't be that hard to figure out where she was. ya know. I had made it big. I knew that much. besides robbery. I know. I called and got no response and no return. I turned on the next street. Nothing creepy about that. parked and walked towards her building. they told the news outlets. As always. I decided to do a little stalking. But why did I still feel so empty inside? Ziemer. The only one that sounded close to insurance was a place called Figus' Property Protection. She never gave me her address but she did tell me which neighborhood she lived in. got dressed and drove my dad's truck there and waited down the street. I continued straight. her garage door opened and out backed her car. sex and just about everything else. pull a Seinfeld and magically run into her there. That would set off a few alarms. then. So. out of sight. 116 .

We both just stand there. My first reaction is to cry but I catch myself. The two men from the hallway. The bottles of water. I gave them a few moments to get on the elevator and be out of my way before I continued on. I quickly turn and catch Ziemer off guard.I took the stairs and exited out into the hallway just as two men passed me. her hair is jet black. She wasn't a thief at all. That motherfucker. Gordy. fuck you The man's face is burned into my brain. The next reaction is anger and it comes flooding through me like a New Orleans hurricane's aftermath. And it suddenly clicks. The zero reading when I looked into her eyes. I found room 302 and opened the door. headed towards the elevators. but I couldn't place them. Shit. I try to turn around and face her but something on the wall grabs my attention. When I stepped in. not really knowing what I was looking for. They shot me a curious glance and they looked familiar to me. the room was empty of people. On me. two-bit piece of shit. I would recognize it anywhere despite only seeing a thirty year old picture of him within the last two decades of my life. the metal still pressing into my skull. Neither of us go for it. I picked up a few pieces of paper. 117 . I walked to a large desk on the far wall next to the window. The changing hair color. Shit. "What the fuck are you doing here. knocking the gun from her hand. I recognize as the two men in the airport that ran that shitty con on Ziemer. I suddenly felt something cold and hard pressing against the back of my head. She's a heater. Their faces. Today. I quickly straighten up. Those goddamn gray eyes are like fucking icicles stabbing my soul. I see a half-empty bottle of Dasani and I know I have the right place. A nicely framed picture of the man who murdered my mother. failing to lower the gun. staring at each other. Finnick?" Ziemer asks me.

I still stand there silently like an idiot. Same with the bottles of water: Cotton mouth. She grabs my hand and tells me we have to go. Finally. The motherfucker you have a framed picture of in your office. I have no idea what she would have done. She releases her grip on me and peaks around the corner. And we run into the hallway and out the fire escape." "From where?" "Your house. "Who?" "Gordon Gillingwater. "What the fuck are you doing here?!" "I needed to see you!" "How did you even find out where I work?" "I followed you. With her hand still grasped in mine. "Gordon Gillingwater." "Trust me. unable to figure out anything else to do. I look stupid. My heart breaks and I back up against the wall." And I am floored. When she returns. "How the hell did you… " She screams in frustration. I am confused. A million questions to ask but none actually exiting my mouth." I stand there looking confused. His name is Gordon Gillingwater and he killed my mother." she says. "If you fucked this up for me. "I swear to God I will… " But she trailed off. I feel stupid." "I know. loss vegas 118 ." "His name is Arthur Figus. My eyes betray my feelings and Ziemer sees that I've put it together.Her ever-changing hair color wasn't a fun fetish. it was a necessary cover up. She's a fucking heater and I am the dumbest man alive. she looks mad again. Her hair is stark white from all the toxins she intakes to build up her tolerance. It's his company. then adds. I say. "Forget it. Now. we run into the alley and wait." She looks confused and asks me. I don't know whether to kiss her or punch her in the nose and run. I expect her to be pissed but instead she starts crying.

This is all on you. He enters his hotel lobby and makes his way up to our suite. When Gordy stumbles. Inside. Gordy. His face and shirt are drenched in sweat. smashes the guard on the side of the head with it and runs from the casino. A loud pop is heard as a bullet tears through the fabric and shoots straight into the guard's foot." "Is anyone dead?" "I don't know. "Gordy. He feels as though he might have a heart attack. Praying no one sees him now. He's breathing heavily as he makes it across the street. making a mad dash across the street to their hotel where his wife and I are waiting for him. my mom and I are standing. Gordon?" Dad asks him. Everyone in the casino is in a panic and Gordy removes the gun from his smoking pocket. "What I had to. Gordy stumbles again. "What did you do. his right hand enters his suit jacket. Dad makes it to the doors of the casino and quickly exits. pleading. my dad. trying not to be seen. I'll fucking kill us all!" He points the gun directly at me and my dad reaches out and grabs his arms right when a shot is fired. Gordy begins pleading with the man that it's all a misunderstanding. The casino security guard has a vice-like grip on Gordy and is violently tossing him around like a child's play toy. Gordy removes the gun and points it at dad. this time on purpose. Not again!" "Fuck you. Staring at him. "Gordy!" "Fuck you! I'm not going down without you." Banging on the door. When he tries to regain his balance. her hands out in front of her. My 119 . She says. He hides the gun." My mom takes a step forward." but shuts up immediately when the gun is pointed at her. Alex Hollins sees this and backs up slowly. sending blood and teeth splattering on the wall behind her. the guard yells at him to get the fuck up.The security guard clamps his hand down on Gordy's shoulder and pulls him up from the slot machine he is currently trying to jimmy open. He is able to escape due to the mass hysteria. My dad gets pissed. never once losing his grip. The bullet hits my mother in the mouth. "I'm not going back. He fumbles with the key but eventually gains access. But I do know I’m not doing any more time. Praying no one has seen him and Gordy together.

weak in the knees "We've got to move. the only thing crazy would be if we stayed here. My dad wrestles with Gordy and gets the gun from him when the door bursts open and in charge the cavalry. would have dried her mouth and whitened her hair. Apparently. I knew this. "I'm not going anywhere with you. Damn it. I know this! No one could apply color and strip it that often while still maintaining that healthy glow. He cradles her in his arms and that was the last time I ever saw her. I am in trouble. For someone who has spent his whole life sizing people up in the first thirty seconds of meeting them. The Krotatophomeline and Polytretrazine. she grabs my arms and pushes me in front of her. Crazy!" "Trust me. come on. "We've got to move!" This time I hear her. How did I not see it? I can tell how often women dye their hair. I mean. I cry. never loosening her grip. We need to move and we need to do it now. along with several other drugs intended for wildlife." Ziemer tells me this over and over and it takes me a solid minute to comprehend that she is even talking to me. I snap out of my trance when she finally grabs my shoulder and shoves me harder against the block wall I'm already using for balance. It was obviously just temporary colored placed over Gandalf-white hair. STUPID! I deserve this. Finnick! COME ON! I knew that heaters loaded up on drugs to build up their tolerance. I was planning on using my drugs on civilians. MORON! People this fucking stupid shouldn't even be allowed to live. IDIOT! I deserve to be taken out into this alley and killed by the woman I thought I loved. I had just never once stolen anything that would require heat protection so I never gave it much thought. My dad drops the gun and crawls over to my mother.dad yells. 120 . Let's go!" And just like a child getting in trouble at the grocery store. I really managed to fuck this one up.

something else came up and the police moved on to that. dad. and my parents became just another entry in an unsolved case file." "So how did you figure it out?" "I started digging around. Was I even born?" I don't know what to say. nor did I have anything to do with it. went through the motions. Oopsie-daisie! All that shit you taught me. and when I did. but nothing worth two lives. Photo albums. again. When there were no leads. We turn again. totally gone. "What the hell are you doing?" she asks me. a dumpster to our left. Some stuff was stolen. In fact. "He killed my mom. ya know. "I know he did. home movies. too. he broke into my parents' house and shot them both in the head. too. Not my finest moment. I'm so fucking confused I wish I could just crawl into bed and sleep. They investigated for a while. I couldn't sleep at night. gordon gillingwater: motherfucker "Four years ago. stupid! I didn't kill your mom. no clues. Police said it was a home invasion gone horribly wrong. but nothing ever came from it. So I started going through my parents old things. I lock my knees to stop all forward momentum.I wish I could call my dad. ya know that chick I was nailin'? Turns out she works with the dude that killed mom and now I'm probably going to die. At least you'll still have Snoopy. stuff like that. the nightmares were so bad it made me not even want to try again. Right now. Just say. and again and I'm pretty sure we're a few streets over. I'm intrigued. Just one last time. "What the hell am I doing?! Really?! What am I doing?!" "Calm down. Ziemer slams into the back of me and we both tumble to the gravelly road below. Up in smoke at the first sight of some boobies. I deserve this. I have no idea where we are going. There 121 . Our backs against a stone wall. "Four years ago." It's the only thing I can think of to say. we are invisible. Hey. I'm sick of this shit." she begins to tell me after taking a seat in another alley." Now. Just something felt wrong to me. He killed both my parents. "Turn!" I come back to my senses and realize she is leading me away from her building.

Finnick." "No. staring at things. I was following that son of a bitch. but I'm no robber so I wouldn't-" "Cut the crap." "It does. Anyway. like. My mom may have been pregnant with me. Gordon gets out of jail then is arrested again in Las Vegas. fucking years. not hidden and with two retired people living there?" "Well. he didn't skip. At least that was my hunch. Eighteen lousy. you're right. ya know. So." "Nice. but I just couldn't believe that they died for nothing. Sixty-four and they were almost in the dead center. I lost my job because I couldn't tear myself away from the boxes. Here is a guy who had associations with my father and was a murderer. That was your mother and I assure you I was. Nobody would. five-minutes old when it happened. It had to be something more. Why would a home invader choose that particular house? It made no sense. then I began thinking. would you pick that house to rob? No easy escape. doesn't it?" "So. and if you're twenty-four. You weren't born yet. My dad just served a few months but I guess Gordon did a few years. you lived down in San Diego then?" "Yeah. I see this and I freak out. We thought he skipped the country. Anyway. This was before I was even born. Would you rob that house or not? Yes or no." "No. I dug everything out of their attic and their junk room and I spent weeks just sitting on the floor. Sometime during the third week I found out my dad had a record. with no easy escape route. then he just vanished. what if it wasn't just a random home invasion? Not that my parents were the type of people that someone would want killed. Right?" "I guess not. for all of my life until I moved up here. I went through box after box of their old stuff." "I know exactly when it was." "Well." 122 ." "That sounds remarkably close to fate. Apparently he and Arthur… Gordon… pulled some dumbshit roofing con-job and got arrested." "Gordy served eighteen years for my mom. I wouldn't probably pick it. He just happened to change his identity and set up shop in the exact same town you happen to live in." "Exactly. I don't know.were sixty-four houses on my parent’s street. as far as I can tell.

cop dick. ya know?" "How'd you find out?" "I stole a glass he was drinking from at the airport bar one night. anyway. I didn't tell the cop what I wanted it for. Small." "Yes he did. So I fucked him. since he needs my dad to access an account in Switzerland. Everywhere he went." "Sorry. back before text messages and cell phones. straight River Phoenix style. And waited. I discovered 123 . I had no idea what he was doing there and I didn't really care. "turns out I was right. And when I got what I needed." "Don't worry. so I waited. Every night I would pick a place on the list and wait." Sweetie? I'm so goddamn confused I just want to throw up and die in the puddle of my own vomit. but adios. sweetie. But. I decided we just needed to be friends. Served eighteen years. I started to get freaked out. Just… let me get back on track. My hard work had paid off and I now had tabs on him." "God damn it."How did you even figure out who he was? My dad and I assumed he left. I needed the paper analyzed. I boarded the plane. I befriended a cop on the SDPD. Hope for some sign of him. Through my own digging. Why are girls so confusing?! "Anyway. That's where I come in. Of everything I just learned over the past few minutes. Then I just started stalking." "So I keep going through their stuff. I had addresses and I had known aliases and accomplices. He wouldn't have had enough money to do anything major. Show them enough of your body and men will forget anything and everything. And I fucked a cop again. I had my information. Nothing personal. What if it wasn't him. For a long time. and some papers he and my father had written to each other. we thought he would come for us. I found out it was Gordon." she continues. I followed. I needed the fingerprints run. two bit con and murderer. If he boarded a plane. he had nothing on you. I don't need to-" "Grow up. Until I spotted him one night leaving his old neighborhood. I had a name. I find some more photographs. the only thing replaying in my head is SWEETIE. Anything that will help me locate this son of a bitch. Didn't take long to discover his name was Arthur. He had only been out of jail for a little over a month. It's amazing what men will do for you if you fuck them. As many times and as often as needed to get my information. But he never came. That's how I found out his name." "Man. looking for anything I can find.

" "And I still do. So I've been biding my time." "What kind of boat?" what am i on." "So." "What?" "A little wooden elephant. steal his boat. and bam. He had no idea who I was. I want him to know that I win. That's evidence. And I will! I'm just not a seasoned murderer and I don't want to go to prison. I want to win and more importantly. laughing as he bleeds out. That sick son of a bitch killed my dad then stole his present that I gave him and had the balls to set it on his desk directly in front of me. As far as he knows. It wasn't in the report of things missing because. I had forgotten about it. I'm in. honestly. though?" "What's that?" "I wanted to slit his fucking throat. I don't want jail for him. crazy pills? "This is crazy. And when I learned this. I only had my hunch at first. "How do you even know it was Gordy who killed your parents? It could have been anyone. Wow. Finnick?! So I could keep tabs on him. Waiting for the right moment." I say. You know what I really wanted to do. You have no proof.he stole someone’s identity and was in the process of opening up his own security company." "Why?" "Why. But Arthur Figus would. that's when I decided to get myself hired. It was my fathers." "I do have proof. and it was a strong income and he knew all the ins-and-outs. I gave it to him when I was very little." "Oh. That's the plan. I want to be standing over him. Fin. I'm just some girl with a badass record of security… which I forged. He still doesn't. He kept it on his nightstand." 124 . I'm going to slit his goddamn throat. Add that to flashing a little cleavage and helping him with the book-keeping because the fucking moron couldn't even remember his own phone number. but I saw something on his desk that sealed it for me. call the cops. and sail far away." "I'm so far past the cops stage." "Why would someone like Gordon want to open a security business? It makes no sense?" "Someone like Gordon wouldn't want to. it's not even funny.

Just great. I protected Picasso’s and Monet’s. But I panicked. then what?" "Then I became the best goddamn heater I could be. He knows who you are and he knows what you do. Only problem was. I was still lost." "Yes. And you did." "He was losing more money than he was bringing in. but you didn't." "So this whole thing was just a fucking con that I managed to fall for. Enlighten me." I knew I felt like I was being watched but I just assumed it was Burt Buttinsky. Arthur got richer. They alerted me as soon as they stepped into the elevator. I protected some stupid stick from Africa. "So. You. Jesus fu-" "Hold on! Shit! Yes. I protected the Queen's jewels when they were on display in Los Angeles. in a weird way. I think the whole charade would be over. Every time I succeeded. the more he lost on his stupid fucking bets. it started out as a con." "Those were the two guys I passed in the hallway?" "Yes." God damn it. You figuring out where I worked would be hard to explain. You stepped in and saved me and took me away to safety and bought me dinner. He told me he had an old business partner with whom he had a shared bank account with over-seas. So I did it. and if I got the code. so he sent two associates to try and run one on me in hopes that you would step in and save the day. the backend pay would have been even better. I protected it all. "Oh. He couldn't access the money without a code or proof of the other guy’s death or something like that.I sighed. Or hide. though. He had been watching you and your dad for a while. I was supposed to flirt you up and get to know you. I was just supposed to leave." "He told me he had a good-looking son around my age. you knew?" 125 . The pay was very good. I have awards to prove it. Liked to hang out at airports when he had insomnia. I had to think of something else. Great." "So. they're also the guys we're running from. the more money he got. it was amazing. please. He had a plan. especially to someone like those fucking Neanderthals. More and more contracts were coming his way. I followed you to the airport. And. "Me. but when you didn't seem interested. Arthur told me you would be able to spot a bullshit con. Nosey Neighbor." "You don't?" "Not at all. And if they saw us together." "I still don't understand where I come in. I knew the con was fake.

we're having sex on a pile of trash. Then she kisses me. I had had quite the morning. It wasn't supposed to happen. The Action Bandit." "Well. I still wasn't a hundred-percent sure that I had a firm grasp on everything and I was pretty sure I was getting a massive headache. but for some reason I start laughing. And before I know it. I'm sorry though. bullshit. honey. All that. I wanted to be with you and I freaked out. That was just a legitimate argument. And left. that's a lot to take in at once." "I took four dozes of Viagra for you! It took me twenty-hours to get rid of that boner! Do you know how hard it is to walk with a baseball bat shoved down your pant leg?" She's laughing. The only thing I could think to do was invite Z to meet my dad. No you don't. and your small time bullshit would have been no match for me. Ziemer got a call from the two cats who had ratted me out. So. You and your stupid I'm A Carpet Salesman. Hard. I have no idea what they said on the other end of the line. And I kiss back. meet the parent After we were finished with our hobo sex. Phil Collins." "It was a good story. but Z seemed relieved when she hung up so I took it as a good sign. I'm not a hooker."I knew everything. then?" "Because you were being a shitbag. 126 ." "Aww. Give me a break. She agreed. You know how big your ego is?" "Yes. We met at my house an hour later then walked to my dad's. too. We got dressed and I drove home while Z went back to the office for a few minutes to clear everything up. I'm tired of cops with big muscles and small dicks. My point is. and that's okay. I genuinely liked you and wanted to sleep with you. that's why you left after sex? Saying this wasn't supposed to happen?" "Yeah. Give me a break." "I have muscles. And I'm not sure if it's with me or at me. She assured them she had intercepted me in time and everything is still the same as it always was with no cause for alarm." "Why did you pick a fight with me the next time. mine is just as big. He had a right to know this.

it's very suiting of you. She doesn't listen and begins following me." "Should we be discussing this… ?" 127 . There is a reason I never bring my girls around him. dad!" My dad looks like he is going to respond then notices the woman standing next to me. It was my grandmother's maiden name. I don't know how it goes. What did the cop want?" He returns from the kitchen with three glasses of ice water.Half way to his house and I see a black sedan parked out front. dad. a man walks down the driveway and gets into the car." "Jesus. Ziemer looks at me. Hold on." "Well. "Only foolin'." "Then I can't tell you that. "Oh my god. "Did you think it was that piss-ant detective?" "Yes. I am mortified. "I'm not sure. You sure know how to pick 'em. He. boy. We stop and watch him leave. Lovely lady. That's what the Hollins' clan drinks on every occasion." I say as I begin sneaking forward towards the house." "Enough. I give him the death stare and he just starts laughing. This stops me in my tracks and I reach out to stop Ziemer as well." He turns to walk back into the house. lovely name. "That's quite a nose. still horrified and whispers. "Same old bullshit. is his charming self. dad." I chime in. "That's quite the name. while we're sitting on the sofa. boy." I tell my dad when he opens the door. dad." he says from the kitchen. You know how it goes." "Jesus Christ." "Yeah. I've never had a detective show up at my house before. "What is it?" she asks. of course. "Please tell me that wasn't who I think it was. My dad sucks some air through his nose like he is sniffing a fine wine and adds. "True story. About fifty yards from the house. did you guys just have sex?" "Dad!" Ziemer has a wide-eyed look of shock on her face. "On a pile of trash?" This is my father's first impression to my girlfriend." "No. "So Ziemer. guys! Come on in." We go inside and I introduce Ziemer to my dad… properly.

That officer was here probably to discuss with you your involvement in a money laundering operation on the east side run out of an ever-so-subtle laundromat." "Hold on. "Pretty good? Geez. "Found it! A little Sergeant Pepper." "Sounds like great news." she replies. but only a few even cross the halfway point to The Beatles. We've got something to tell you. sweetheart." No shit. I know everything there is to know. Then to me. my dad asks "How do you feel about Matchbox Twenty and Coldplay?" "They're pretty good. call me Alex. "You th." To Ziemer.You think so? Oh girl. Ziemer sees this and returns the gesture. "You guys want some music?" 'No. Which isn't to say there aren't some great bands out there. are you?" "No… " "Rats. it wouldn't be a bad decision. dad. you've got a thing or two to learn. of course. Wait." "Fin?" "Trust her."Mr. Let me take a seat first. Okay." "How would you-" "Trust me." he says to her. "Do you like The Beatles?" "I think so. I don't even have to see it to know it is Sergeant Pepper. and I'll tell you that if you sever all ties with that place. he asks." He begins rummaging through his CDs and I can't help but roll my eyes." He lifts a disk triumphantly. Hollins. you're not pregnant. That's why we're here. boy?" "I'm Ziemer." she responds. Just let me find the perfect soundtrack for our big first meeting. breaking the news 128 . They're the greatest band of all time." He sets his drink down on the coffee table and picks a seat right next to Ziemer. You don't get anything like them anymore. From his face buried in a drawer. believe me." "Please. dad." "Dad. "Who the hell is this girl.

They could have worked together if things had turned out differently. "No. They're dead and they don't even have to live on with the agony of being killed. It just seems to lack imagination and is pretty anti-climactic. He's in shock. bang! It's over. Just like that. I don't know. She was… Ya know. but you really should get your point across. My mom was a hair stylist. She would do all the monster make-up and stuff. Out loud. Apparently." I'm still just sitting there and letting them talk. those really bad ones that come on television late at night. Slit the throat of a prominent business man and your escape might be a little harder. My dad and Z both stop their conversation and look at me as if my dick was stapled to my forehead. Ya know. but honestly. he just sat there. all I can think about is stealing that cocksucker's boat and getting some revenge on him. That's one thing I never understood about murder. Actually. but death just seems like such a cop-out. I still carry her case with me wherever we go. murder? Yikes. killing him would be great. every now and then I will nod. "My point is. I'm sure he wasn't expecting something like this coming from our little talk. When Ziemer was done explaining. She worked for the movies. Such a cheat. It's a lot harder to get your clean getaway with a murder rap following you. the way the lazy writers tie up all the loose ends is to just have everyone kill each other in a big gun fight or something? Ugh.We finally get my dad to sit still long enough to tell him the story. I know Z said she wanted to slit his throat." "In Hollywood. This seems to keep them satisfied as they carry on with their conversation. Sure." I say. naturally." "Yeah. I'm not saying to torture someone. he hasn't learned his lesson. but it just seems so boring. so boring. steal some insured diamonds and nobody gives two shits a week later and you can disappear. Out of nowhere. It's a shame the way things turn out. If you just go and kill someone. I just brought my internal conversation to the vocalization realm and embarrassed myself quite extensively in the 129 . To pretend like I'm not completely zoned out. Especially quick murders. maybe I'm being ridiculous. Yeah. "You know how we met?" he asks her. Have you ever watched a movie and at the end. You kill someone and then." "That's sweet. she was great at it. Silently.

we're teamed up with an A-list heater. beat him at his own game. I am all ears.process. "Look. but is that the best possible punishment we can come up with?" "I'm listening. We can trick anyone and we can outwit just about anyone. And now. So does my dad. son?" "Fucking up that piece of shit that killed mom. "How about we do something much more fulfilling than murder. I don't know what you guys were talking about. but I refrain. To my knowledge. Let's rob the fuck out of him. I was daydreaming." Ziemer corrects me and I wish it was still socially acceptable for me to Ricky Ricardo her right across the lips." "You haven't told me shit. we are three extremely intelligent people." 130 . I wasn't paying attention. And you're telling me the best we can come up with is to slit that bald asshole’s throat?" "Well babe. we've-" "My dad and I. too." "Me too. boy." "No shit?" Thanks dad. Yeah. You told me you were going to slit his throat. "Yeah boy." Ziemer says. That's fine and dandy. "No. mocking me." "Yes. Your point is duly noted. babe. con him. humiliate him and make sure the only sex he gets from here on out is with large black men in the Big-Boy section of the pen. Me and my dad. and Ziemer gives him a playful punch in the arm. "Welcome to the conversation. And do you want to know what I was daydreaming about?" "What. I've already told you my plan." she says. What exactly was your point now?" Shit. "My dad and I. Snoopy opens his big stupid mouth and lets his tongue roll out." Ziemer laughs." "Thanks for involving yourself. this is why I don't bring girls around my dad. for decades. thanks for joining us. Day in and day out. I don't believe I've done that before. we've conned the fuck out of people. "Um. No shit. "that would be nice. Relieved assholes from their possessions they were too stupid to keep. Z starts laughing at me and my dad joins in." adds my dad. I have no idea what they were even talking about." "Look. And your parents.

and my father and I both took separate vehicles to the coffee shop which was nowhere near any of our houses. "you sure you don't just want to slit this fucker's throat?" Remember when you first met me and I was trying to talk my way out of getting shot in the head? My dad was a corpse on the floor and blood was trickling from the hole in his skull and headed my direction? Yeah? Well. I know he comes to the office first thing in the morning and makes himself a protein shake. "that's a pretty good start. daydreaming about smacking them both in the face.da plan boss. But. Him seeing Ziemer palling around with the two of us would be devastating and possibly put her in harm's way. regardless of the close call. almost every day. We had to be careful everywhere we went." he turns to me. so far so good. Most of the time was spent with my dad hitting on my girlfriend while I sat silently. He stays there for a while sometimes and sometimes he leaves for a business call. I don't know much. "Me?" I answer. we were somehow able to form a semi descent plan. Gordy obviously knew where all three of us lived and we know for a fact he had been keeping close tabs on my dad. sit tight. "I know dick. I work for him but he's not in my constant sight at all times. She's the one you need to talk to. "So. then goes into his office and. he drives to Santa Monica and takes his boat out. the exact same thing every week. I'm guessing. No idea what he did on his boat. And we weren't followed. da plan Just like hipster douches in clichéd crime flicks. back to the future 131 ." "Okay. We're almost there. Son. drinks it. So." "Yeah. well. He likes to eat lunch at a place around the corner called The Cornershop. literally. what do we know about Gordon's routine?" my dad asks us." my dad says. Z still went to work and acted like everything was fine. So we played it cool. sometime in between the flirting and the make-believe punches. we all met the next day at a local coffee shop. I used to follow him but it was. The weekends.

" rewind My dad and I are stationed in an alley behind Gordy's security business." "What makes you think I have a code. unless that particular part of my head is missing soon. "Give me the code. in the other." "Ziemer! Get your little ass in here. Finnick. I don't give a fuck about carpet or padding. you little shit. You're a smart little faggot." "Thought you'd get a kick out of that." "That doesn't really concern you now." "What do I win?" "You win the satisfaction of knowing your father's money won't go to waste. Gordy?" "I know you do." he tells me while giving my head a light crack with the business end of his Glock. In walks the love of my life." he yells out the sliding glass window. "Fine. a Glock 7. "Sorry about your dad. What a prize. In one hand. The very same alley Z had first pulled me in to a short while ago." "Wow." "Will you at least buy yourself a toupee? Please? That swipe from side to side isn't fooling anyone." "Come on. Quit wasting time." she says." I sigh. "But you guys really should have just butted the fuck out and cooperated. That is." "Then what? You still won't have the code? And even if you get it you'll just gamble it away like you always do because you're a fucking loser. You look like you should have on a dirty wife-beater and some sweatpants with that haircut. a Macbook Air. It's about three in the morning and we're both dressed all in black.The gun is being pushed so hard into the back of my head that it's going to bruise. does it?" "Because I'll be dead either way?" "Ding ding ding. Congratulations. faggot. "Ow." "Shut the fuck up and give me the code. otherwise you're going to be facedown with your old man. There is a small bathroom window on the third floor where Gordy's office is 132 . you little son of a bitch.

I grab it and tie the end through the duffle bag. She has no idea. I am watching. climbs up above it then wraps his legs in the rope. We are counting on this window not being armed. let alone my own father. Hopefully. she won't get pissed. but they were really laying on their backs and leaning to the side to make it look more realistic. I can tell that from here. I think they may actually be ballet slippers. go!" He is not amused. The building is four stories tall so it's going to have to be quite a throw from my dad to get it up to the roof. He slowly leans backwards until he is dangling upside down. He pulls tightly on the rope twice then places one foot on the wall. Hopefully. Watch and learn. He reaches into his duffle bag and pulls out a grappling hook then tells me to stand back. You never know who will be the weakest link in a first time team. I can't even keep my 133 . NaNaNaNaNaNaNaNa Horse Shit! That's what I think about when I start giggling and chuck a small pebble up at my dad and whisper-yell. Why would it be? We're also doing this without Ziemer's permission. Hopefully. We keep it safe this way. In fact. especially when working with someone you've never worked with before. Then they always have some celebrity guest star peak out from a window and say hi. It's a tight squeeze. It takes me a while to get the hang of it. He jimmies the window open and begins trying to wiggle his way in. but it's really our only option. everything will go well and no one will even know. faster and faster with each loop then finally lets loose. "Go Boy Wonder. He makes it in. He begins twirling the rope. My dad is wearing black shoes that look like ballet slippers. "Watch and learn. From a compartment in his belt he removes a few small tools to jimmy open the window. He makes it the window. Deniability is always the safest bet. It's quite different from anything I've ever practiced. The grapple clanks on the roof and a hook catches the railing. He looks like the old Batman show when Batman and Robin climb up the building but you can tell it's just the camera turned sideways. with enough slack as to not hinder my climb. untangles his legs then sends the rope back down to me." Believe me. but it really just sucked. I've never actually seen someone do this before. It's an impressive toss and I'm not ashamed to admit I'm quite proud of the old man for showin' up with some skills. boy.and my dad's plan is to enter through it. In fact.

Gordon instructs me to sit. My dad reaches out to grab me and helps pull me through the tiny crack. Me and your old man. "Will you grow up?! Shit! Hold on!" I give up on my Boy Wonder walk and just begin climbing the rope. "I like money. dickless? Give me a second!" Another bath soap. I follow my orders. It hurts but I can't let on. we've got work to do. We flew over there and set everything up together. She powers it on and when we hear the chime. I thought I had a son.feet gripped to the wall properly and keep dangling like an idiot. I'm sure you know all about this. walked. Betty-Lou. He flips through a few pages and holds it open. I look up at Ziemer and ask her how could she. The money in Switzerland." "Feel really bad about that… " "Shut up. don't ya think?" "What's that?" 134 . "Now. we made quite a score back in the day before you and your mother fucked it all up for me. what is your fucking father's goddamn fucking code?" "Kind of funny. Neither of us can touch it without the person's code. I'm to the window in fifteen seconds. My dad comes to my aid by laughing and chucking down tiny bath soaps right at my face. "And these are brand new shoes. after all we've been through. I ask. and quietly. They're not broken in. how? She just looks at me and responds with. Like a man. Come on." And out of the bathroom we slowly." "Funny. whizzes from three floors up and cracks me right in the nose. or something similar. "I've never done this shit before!" I quietly yell back up to him. here's what we're going to do. Nancy. "Jerk. Gordon reaches into his suit pocket and pulls out a bank book. So. I then pull up the duffle bag." Women. hurry it up!" "Where's your little foo-foo puppy dog. now. back to the future part two Ziemer sets the Macbook down on the kitchen table and flips open the lid. I bet your old-man ass couldn't have climbed that rope like I did. yet!" "Come on." "Sorry. I pick up the last remaining bath soap by the sink and fling it at the back of my father's head.

my dad begins picking filing cabinet locks. Me and this hot little piece of ass here are skipping out as soon as this is done. now that dad is dead. I'm pulling out notebooks. I look up at Gordy. "It's all ready to go. You never know what you'll need on a job like this so it's best to over pack. but come on. His code." He grunts and wipes his brow. He pulls a stack of papers from the drawer and sets them on the desk. Typing in letters. looking back often towards his bank book. just everything possible." "What an offer. The fact that you could get the money now. anyway? I know cops are stupid. "Just that easy. He looks up and tells me we need to find the safe. I drop the duffle on the floor and begin emptying its contents onto the carpet. faggot. you really think this fucked up plan of yours is going to work?" "I know it's going to work. take. Everything that will fit. gloves. like he has heartburn or indigestion. He clears his throat and begins typing into the Macbook. When he is satisfied he slides the laptop over to me. in the office Once inside Gordy's office. I don't give a fuck who they think killed that piece of shit down there. and I know your name is Arthur Whateverthefuck. The oldest and most 135 . But. You think nobody would come knocking on your dad's old associates if he winds up shot in the face. They're not that stupid. a laugh riot. Typing in numbers. Type it in and I'll make your death painless. now. Or you. graph paper. When I finish." I do. I don't want to blow my cover. I nod then point to a painting on the wall. blades." I say as I begin typing in the twenty-six digit code I know by heart. Picking desk locks. "Just that easy." "Why didn't you just kill him yourself? Earlier?" "You know damn well why. I mean. Another grunt and another swipe of his arm across his forehead. "Now press ENTER. and setting them in a line." I say. The account number. ya know. My dad is sitting at the desk going through the papers." "Isn't that what they're going to do now." Ziemer responds."Ya know. how would you be able to explain this fiasco?" "Yeah. Picking anything with a fucking lock.

"I don't just sit around all day." The usuals he refers to are sets of numbers that actually come with the safe. I should hope so. Only problem was. then try the test number to make sure everything works. At least. despite what my father thinks. son. You buy it. though. that moron would forget the combination if it was set to his birthday. ever. Let me at it. "It's a fire safe. my dad says. "Holy shit. "His laptop is in there." 136 . And besides. I'm sure it was something easy for him to remember. Pretty simple instructions to follow. that is what a fire safe is for. not if there is a fire. You would not believe how many people keep the number the same and never bother to change it. Sometimes they think they're being really clever and tape it to the underside of a drawer or hide it as a phone number under Jimmy Crackcorn or some other bullshit name in their planner. That said. most people write their combinations down then leave them in the same goddamn room as the safe. a regular safe keeps everything safe but gets extremely hot. Not that Gordy was a real brainiac when it came to numbers. then. Five seconds of research will get you all of these codes." I tell him. right? Of course you are. you're too smart to do something stupid like that. not if you're Average American Joe. install it and whatever. in fact. Well. Check the usuals. A fire safe keeps things cool during a fire. "He's not a rookie. Gordy has been in this game for too long to pull that big of a boner. "How out of practice are you on these things?" I ask while nodding to the safe. We weren't even bothering to look for that here. yes? Well.boring place to hide a safe. he was a pretty big fucking moron. I am right. what these idiots don't realize is that these numbers are industry standards. essentially. My dad was going to have his work cut out for him. we had no idea. son." "Egos get the best of people. I stand to double-check and." My dad deduces his laptop is in the safe because. But not you. I try all the numbers and none of them work. Then you are able to set your code. sometimes." I laugh and agree with him. this is a lot of crap. Also. From the desk. But. but I'm pretty sure he would never forget the number to his own safe. You don't want to keep your electronics in there. just like always. Shouldn't be hard. Watch the master.

it's not quick and it takes a lot of luck and a high level of acumen to accomplish such a feat. You can understand why they bypass this shit in the movies. Every time the dial passes the number he parked it on. When the nose makes contact with the lever. "Okay. the drive pin will click as each wheel in the wheel pack is picked up. The drive cam has a notch in it like the one in the wheel pack. Add up the number of clicks and that is how many wheels are involved in your cracking. my dad resets the lock by spinning it to the right and parking it at zero. In fact. He re-engages the drive cam and begins spinning the wheel slowly. listening for the tell-tale clicks that 137 . But. it can be done and it's the best way to crack a safe if you're trying to be sly about it. Hold on to your horses! Now that we know the contact areas and number of wheels. wiping his forehead and listening intently to the clicking sound from inside: All bullshit. gaping hole in his wall in a few hours when he comes in. unfortunately. It takes time. But. This particular safe has a one-hundred-number dial on it and the combination could be anywhere between one and eight numbers. the only difference being that it is sloped to allow the fence and lever to pass through it when it spins around. Then he starts moving it slowly to the left. The bullshit they show you of the robber pressing his big dumb face against the cold steel of the safe. you'd be better off stealing the safe and taking it to your hideout. Lots of it. our job here is to go completely undetected. a doctor's stethoscope and a pencil. there is a small click. Snoozefest! It gets even more exciting. The first thing my dad listens for is the contact points. Each one of these numbers has a corresponding wheel inside the wheel pack. It's not easy. Gordy might think something is afoot if he sees a huge. Sorry. "Let's do it." he says while handing me the graph paper and pencil. It gets harder. We've gone over this. No one is cracking a safe this easily and quickly.My dad stands up and walks to my line-up of robber essentials and grabs some graph paper. too. My dad is currently trying to figure out how many wheels this safe contains. Again. With me so far? This is a contact area. Huge bullshit. which is him stopping the lock on the opposite side of the contact area. I apologize. readies the scope and leans in close." Cracking a safe isn't as easy as it's portrayed in the movies. My dad does what is called Parking the Wheel. The real way to break a safe lock is with lock manipulation. when the graph paper comes out. He walks to the safe.

It's all worth it when my dad pulls out a laptop and what appears to be a small notebook. on your graph. Then." He boots up the laptop and sits at Gordy's desk. It's actually even more complicated than all that. I do believe it is. son. The only way to get the correct order of the numbers is the old fashion way. do this enough and eventually. cut to the chase. Each time he starts over. my good boy. 138 . I hope you know what you're doing. this takes eighteen long minutes. So we went." He loaded whatever was on the disk to the computer.indicate the position of the left and right sides of the contacts. Is it? Well. Anyway. you'll have all the contact points and what not. shut everything down and returned it all to its proper position. he removed from his pocket a small memory card and held it up like Simba in the beginning of The Lion King. I took the bait and asked what it was. Not like there was anything of importance in there and I only had a few minutes before my dad called me back in." "What do you think. five minutes later. I begin snooping around the room but with no real purpose. then six. From start to finish. I really want to go out into Ziemer’s office and snoop there. and so on. I was tired and my hands were chaffing under these stupid gloves. but for the sake of both our sanities. But. I just sit around watching soaps all day? I've got this. I've got a plan. I did it anyway. A stinger. Check it out. "That thing is probably going to have password protection up the ass on it. Line those up with the numbers on your graph paper and there are all your numbers to your combination. I'll let it be. He flips it open and I can count the number of teeth in his head from how big his smile is. he's in. "A stinger." he says as he tosses me the tiny black book. son. "Is this what I think it is?" "I do believe it is. "I cannot believe this. When he was finished. I was ready to go. He does this over and over while I chart the results. as my dad would so famously quote Paul McCartney. This provides the slight variance needed to accurately get your numbers. he starts from three numbers left of zero. Sorry." And sure as shit. Try every goddamn combination. saying we were ready to jet. I'm afraid that’s a little too close to stalking. Trust me. Let’s get to work. he hummed the rest of the Wings' song as he stacked the papers back in the drawer.

the timing of which could not have been any better. Gordy can't seem to wrap his head around what is happening. helpful hint To make a man shit himself as if on a time command. begins coughing. Gordy grumbles something that I can't understand. ever thought I would be using it. he'd be pulling the trigger on the gun pointed at me. Along with some bloody saliva are two teeth. And just like a miracle from above. I know exactly what this is. I knew as soon as everything was said and done. Gordy has lost all control of his bowels. still in shock for his loss of bowel control. he is down three. And by a little. Gordy was watching it intently. Loud. He raises a hand to his face and spits into it. I don't know if it just loosens the gums so much that they fall out. The timing on this is no accident. I have no idea how many Tri-Bute makes you lose. horribly agonizing coughs. his bottom half making a horrible tearing noise that rips through the still kitchen like a horrible thunder. I mean a fuck-ton. A white projectile comes shooting out of his mouth and hits the table right in front of me then bounces off onto the floor. break in to the son of a bitch's office that morning and slip a little Tri-Bute into his protein powder. Gordy lurches forward. So far. then grumbles another something to Ziemer who seems to catch his drift. back to the future part four: biff's revenge or flying teeth and dirty underpants Gordy. He then makes his way to the sink and begins a cough-spit-drink routine until he 139 .back to the future part three A little spinning wheel on the screen indicated that the transaction was being processed. or what? I never put too much research into it for the simple fact that I never.

downtown. Just what I want to see. So I sit. still giving me the Look of Death. Especially in front of such a pretty girl. Her left hand under the table. The plan is still in effect. washing her hands in water so hot I can see the steam. My adrenaline is pumping." "That's gross. "We get the money. The gun is still being pointed at me so I sit still and continue being a good boy. I sit quiet and still. Quietly. He calls me a wide variety of names then promises my death will not be painless. I also know there is probably some more action going on with Gordy. That's gross. I want to fight. with his shitty pants and missing teeth." Gordy. "Later. Then. "As soon as I can stand up I'm going to march you over to your father so you can see me piss in his skull. stupid-looking. She tells him that it'll be okay. because I don't think laughter would do either of us any good right now. Especially in light of recent events." "I was talking about the fact that you have a boner and can't stand up. he says." I say. Ziemer joins him at his side. toothless smile form on Gordy's big dumb face and I know the transfer has gone through. doing God-knows-what to Gordy's dick. It's all I can do. "Let's go make sure that transfer went through. She walks to Gordy and starts rubbing on his crotch with her left hand. Ziemer then does something that I wasn't expecting. I see a big. Gordy. How embarrassing. cry. Please keep in mind." she says to him. And I am in total disbelief of what I am seeing. At himself. focuses his attention back on me and says something much more clearly. scream. "Well. quietly." he tells Ziemer and pushes his arm away. Pants can be washed and teeth can be replaced. who gives a shit about this scrawny little prick and his corpse of a father? We win. Waiting.regains his composure. You can tell Ziemer is trying not to laugh. baby. anything. to me. Can't say I blame him much. though." Behind him. I'm glad she's holding it together. he is still sitting in a puddle of his own liquidy shit. He's pissed and yelling at me. seems to agree with her reasoning and takes a seat back at the table. But I can't. that's nothing compared to what I'm going to do to you. if you catch my drift. yell. 140 . Ziemer is at the sink. At anyone who can hear.

respected business man of security and protection. The Big V. telling him the good news. my father and I will be hitting a house in the nearby country club in an hour. especially when you're as good at spinning a believable yarn as me and my old man. bust us in the act and blackmail us. Crushed pills. Viagra. He does this almost every day and my father and I are waiting for him in the alley. if someone comes into their kitchen and begins passing out hundred dollar bills to spike someone's lunch with a nonlethal powder. Everything is coming up roses for ol' Mr. It's a good plan for them. give or take a few minutes. She says she knows this because she overheard me planning it. my father is picking the lock on the rear exit of the cafe. About anything. Gordy. I stand out in the alley waiting until 3:25 when my dad finally exits. Ziemer says she will get there early to keep an eye on us and call him if anything happens. you will know that they don't give a shit. will all meet up and face our fates. Gordy agrees and their plan is set in motion. He'll show up. The house we are going to hit just happens to be one protected by Gordy's firm. Now. But for now. Arthur Figus. No matter what my dad or I say. I remove a Ziploc bag filled with blue powder. They cook up a scheme to catch us in the act. My dad takes the bag and removes a wad of cash from his pocket and struts into the restaurant like he is the owner. 141 . So. a la carte Gordy enters The Cornershop at around 3:15pm. I don't think they'll invest too much thought in it. my father and I. Once the door is open."Well. or should I say. the cops will believe Gordy. In an hour and forty five minutes. think what you'd like. As we leave. and I know it is done. Ziemer enters through the front of the cafe and takes a seat with Gordy. Most of them probably won't even speak English." "I think it's going to be a lot longer than that. Gillingwater. My dad gives him the code or Gordy turns us over to the police. smiling. along with Ziemer. if you've ever interacted with chefs at a cafe. You can see where this is going." boner. but it's the only thing keeping you alive for a few extra minutes.

Sure. He could travel where ever he wanted. I'm sure he's relieved my dad is dead. We park down the street then casually stroll to the house. It's Ziemer. I am still alive. And then she tells him she shot my father in the face. I assume Gordy rushes out of the restaurant when he hears this news. regardless of this little setback. "We've only got an hour or so." bodies in motion Gordy receives his phone call at around 4:45." my dad tells me. It was a bargain package. He laughs and I want to shove my fist down his fucking throat. my dad carrying a briefcase in one hand and a glass bottle of Coke Classic in the other. Close the account and disappear. But. She tells him how we didn't cooperate. Fly to Switzerland with the appropriate paperwork of my father's death. the internet transfer would be preferable. me with my hands in my pocket. Ziemer had one job and she blew it. we know this in advance. He had a boat. Things were going to be okay. She tells him shit has gone horribly wrong and he needs to get here as soon as possible. He sees the mess of my father on the floor and laughs. I'm sure Gordy is running through all the possible scenarios this detour can take. And he has to know I am vulnerable. We hop the fence and let ourselves in through a small window on the side.and here we go We get to the house in Sundale Country Club in about ten minutes. he can get the money the hard way. I'm sure he is telling himself. She tells him we fought back. I can't make a move. Not the way he wanted it to go but definitely a silver lining. there is a bright spot. And of course. The house is only armed from the front entrances. fifteen minutes before everything was supposed to be wrapped up nicely. If worse comes to worst. Ziemer has her gun trained on me. "Come on. 142 . if he was even still there. but not mandatory. the same as Ziemer. Gordy knows I have to have the code. He got to the house and entered through the back door.

we all sit quietly. I do as I'm told and he shoves the gun barrel into the back of my head. He walks a little closer to him." "Okay. you dirty motherfucker. And it seems like a hundred years go by in silence. you motherfucker. "What's the code?" Over and over. When he does. "You can enjoy lookin' at your old man while we wait. kill these motherfuckers!" Then he feels another gun. Eyes wide. he meets a gun pointed to his forehead. "We really appreciate that. boss. After the whole Gordy ordeal of shit and a semi-permanent boner. "You killed my parents. to the back of his head. get my laptop. Finally. now drop the gun. just kind of staring at the computer screen. it is quite the contrary. piece by piece. It's Beckett McRyne. what's the code. Right in front of my dad." she tells him." she says as she exits. sitting at the table. Gun pressing against his forehead. What's the code? I just start talking. This time." He backs up and points his gun at me. "My name's not Ziemer Sheeley." he says. he speaks. bitch. conning the con "Nothing worse than a con being conned. "You killed my wife. "Thanks for the money. Gordy?" And just like in the movies. "Ziemer." he says to me. "You. "I don't think this one is gonna make it."He don't look too good." 143 . his corpse make-up from my mother's old stage bag. He's won. "Ziemer. carefully avoiding the blood still flowing out and bends over slightly." says a voice from behind him. in fact." I stay silent. He's got all the money and all his problems are solved. examining him. Mouth open." He does. be a peach and run to my car. Gordy is startled and quickly turns in his chair. what's the code? Ziemer walks back in and tells me she's sorry about my dad. telling me to stand on an imaginary X on the carpet. my dad begins removing. Gordy sits quietly. Tells me I should have cooperated and now we're back where we started. About the stupid carpet of all things What's the code." my dad says to him and he quickly realizes that. is there.

I've got everything right here!" "Flip open your bankbook. "I-I've got your money. you'll see where I used a razor blade to remove a page from it. and Abracadabra." A man's voice from the doorway." he pleads with my father. "Ring a bell?" she asks him and I can see his eyes watering up." It's Detective Anderson and I kind of begin to panic. a sly smile on his face. moron." "No. though! There's no getting that back. Gordy clenches his eyes shut for a moment. You transferred all our money into my account.And this is news to me. gun drawn." Gordy starts chanting to himself. "Arrest him!" Gordy starts yelling. no. cheese it. Ziemer shrugs her shoulders and mouths SORRY. Arthur." "What are you waiting for?! Arrest them all!" 144 . the skills of a talented forger never go to waste. you don't have shit. you fat bastard. "Nonono! Impossible." So she is a thief. "I see. Alex. Alex. You just typed in an account number that I just opened. You're Fucked! Ah." "Yes it is. Ziemer. "I ran background checks on you!" "You’re not the only one who can create false identities." Anderson tells my dad and I am confused all over again." I tell him. changed the account number. I don't believe you. no. it's the fuzz! I'm tensing up in my chair as Detective Anderson makes his way to the table. "Good job. I shrug back and smile. To me. "Drop the gun. "If you look really closely. over and over. Then I just copied everything you had written down onto the next sheet. Gordy? Because. My dad and Ziemer lower their weapons and set them down. You really should have secured your office a little better. "They held me at gunpoint and forced me to transfer all my money to them!" Anderson nods. Fifty-fifty and we both walk away. This is not part of my plan. "Un-Unless we make a deal. thinking hard." "Fuck you." Gordon yells. hate to break it to ya. That makes me feel a little better." "How 'bout a hundred-zero. "I'm going to kill all three of you! I swear to God! This isn't over. I keep my hands flat on the table.

and probably Ziemer. "You see. but something told me my dad." he tells me. Your dick is going to swell to the size of a baseball bat over the next few hours. so have fun with that. My dad begins laughing and tells me that he was the one who called the detective in." "Who you callin' petty?" my dad asks. or a cold-blooded murder? Choice seemed pretty easy. that boner is not going to go away. Over and over." His eyes narrow at me. Until enough blood is gone to stop the priapism and return your dick to its normal. "Wow. your dick up in the air and the doctor uses this very." Anderson says. this detective was pretty close to busting my old man. as to not risk getting his own hands shitty. very long time. Apparently. Without proof of the murders. Maybe some blurry vision. All the while Gordy is yelling that they've got the wrong man. "We had a plan. "Had it timed perfectly. Not exactly the case of the century but it was something that Anderson was working on and gave his full attention to. about the size of a newborn's forearm and he sticks it into the underside of your shaft and slowly draws the blood out. That's going to cause some major priapism. "A petty crook. But the real kicker is going to be getting rid of that boner. Anderson finally glanced down and saw Gordy's bulge. very large needle. I do the only logical thing and continue." The detective cuffs Gordy's hands in the front." I go on. pathetic state. I'm thinking we wouldn't be seeing Gordy for a very. "Well. It's going to cause some massive chest pains and a killer headache. And you know how a doctor has to fix that?" He doesn't answer.Anderson stands Gordy up and grimaces when he sees his soiled pants. "I don't usually make bargains but this one was too good to pass up. Gordy. had a whole lot of stuff to turn over. cowboy. I guess my dad called Anderson and tried to work out a little deal. "He's probably going to need to see a doctor soon. After we had our first meeting. the police still had a ton to bust Arthur Figus on. just sneers. I'm not sure of the details but I guess it worked." I say. Not 145 . "Whose handiwork is this?" "Mine. someone happy to see me?" I tell Anderson that I ground up twenty Viagras and sprinkled it all over his food. "they lay you on a table. Not with twenty pills.

gonna be easy, though and the nurse watching it will probably be some giggling little tramp." I see Anderson and my dad wince. Ziemer snorts a laugh and says, "I'll bet they'll think that toothless little mouth of yours is awfully purdy." Gordy's body spasms and he breaks from Anderson's grip and quickly reaches his cuffed hands for his gun on the table. He points the barrel to the side of his head and quickly squeezes the trigger. A small clicking sound and nothing more. Over and over, he rapidly pulls the trigger back. Nothing. He begins to cry and falls to his knees like the pathetic sack of shit he is. "Oh," Ziemer says, "I took the firing pin out of that a long time ago. You didn't think I was going to let you hold a live gun on my boyfriend, did you?" Boyfriend? cleanup

Anderson still has a hold on Gordy when we begin tidying up the house. The fact is, the house belongs to one of my dad's old buddies in the business. We'll have to pay for new carpet, but other than that, everything is fine. "Make sure your dad keeps his half of the bargain," Anderson says to me. I look to my dad for a response. "I promised I would give Gordy's half of the money to St. Jude's." "Seems fair," I say and smile to Ziemer. "And, stay gone," Anderson adds. "I don't want to see you guys ever again. Understood?" My dad salutes him and says, "Yes sir." I can't believe we pulled this off. I never dreamed it would end this well and I really will never believe that my dad was able to sweet talk a detective into running a con with him. It's is one for the books, I tell ya. "Don't forget to search his computer," my dad says to Anderson as he is leading Gordy out the door. "We won't." "I'm sure there is plenty more on there to convict him for." And, oh God, I remember the memory card. After Gordy and Anderson deprive us of their company, I ask my dad what is on the computer.

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"Child pornography." "Oh my God," Ziemer gasps. Quickly, my dad interrupts, "Trust me! I didn't look at it! Let's just say some sick shit goes down in Russia. And even better, you know what they do to kiddie-lovers in jail?" "Especially ones who arrive with huge hard-ons," I say, and for some reason we all start laughing at this horribly lurid subject matter, just like the end of a Scooby-Doo cartoon. My dad walks to me and collapses in the chair next to mine. He ruffles my hair with his hand and tells me good job. He tells me he loves me and I tell him I love him, too. To Ziemer, he says, "Well, I guess we've never technically met. I'm Alex." "I'm Beckett, I suppose. But still call me Ziemer. My name is legally changed." She puffs up her cheeks then blows out the air. "We run quite a con, don't we boys?" I nod. "We certainly do, Ziemer," I tell her. "We certainly do." She stands and walks in our direction then leans down to whisper in my ear. "Let's disappear together." epilogue

The salty air is refreshing. I haven't breathed this well in years. The rocking of the boat is the most soothing motion I have ever felt. Right now, Ziemer, dad and myself are somewhere off the coast of Mexico in the Pacific Ocean in our new boat, Scot-Free. Gordy's boat, just renamed. Z is lounging in a chair on the deck, her ghostly white hair dancing in the wind, a stark contrast to her bikini-clad, deeply tanned body. She’s getting some more sun while my dad, wearing his newly-trademarked Hawaiian shirt, and Snoop are at the wheel. Me, I'm leaning over the railing watching the waves crash below us. Today is my birthday. We can go wherever we want, do whatever we want. We all have valid passports and all the time in the world. First though, we've got a few stops to make. Switzerland, for one. We've got a hefty sum to reinvest there, then probably Russia. My dad has some cash there, too, from his sweetheart scam, but mostly he really wants to destroy the man who sent him the kiddie porn. Should be exciting. We've got nothing else to do.

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Ziemer gets up and joins me by the railing. She kisses me on the cheek and from the rear of the boat I can hear my dad yell for us to get a room. Z laughs but I just roll my eyes. From my pocket, my cell phone starts ringing and it takes me a while to even realize what it is. Nobody should have this number and, more importantly, how do I even have a signal out here? I had trouble making calls in my own living room. I fish my iPhone from my pocket and see that it is not a number I recognize. I answer it anyway. Why not? "Finnick Hollins?" a man's voice asks me. I narrow my eyes and say yes. This gets Beckett's attention as she seems to try and listen. "You don't know me, I assure you," the voice tells me. "But we know you." I wave for my dad to come over. We all huddle around the phone and I put it on speaker. My heart is pounding. "We know you are quite good at what you do and we also know all about you." I can think of nothing else to say, so I just say, "Yeah." "Ever stolen from the mob?" the voice asks. "No… " "Would you like to? It's a three-man job, minimum. United States Government funded. We will make it worth your while." My dad and Z both smile and await my answer. "We've got some stops to make first." "You've got one hour to decide, Mr. Hollins." My dad elbows me and smiles even bigger. Ziemer does the same. "Nah. Won't need the time. What's the job?"

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Tayler Buzby. Sean Coyle. Thanks to Summer Shepard and Leslie Buzby for always whoring me out! And thanks to the following who. Thanks to my cover-man Eric Duhart for always doing great work. mom and dad and everyone else who continues to support me and cheer me on. Tammi Perez. Julia Torres. complained. Thanks to Heather Odem for helping me with my drugs. Elson Garcia. helped me out and kept me sane while being locked away in my office as I whined.New Section Thank you to all my family and friends. Shannon Decker. distractions and various destructions. Eli Sanford. David Kampa. Tiffany Robinson. bitched and moaned: Xavier Gonzalez. Chapman for being my writing partner on various (awesome) projects. Carl Lange and Dani Boyd This book is lovingly dedicated to my father. Tawni Franklin. Thanks to my son McClane for only breaking two iPads during the writing of this book and for not once turning the laptop off during final construction of the manuscript. not to use! Thanks to Justin Davis. Gary Fieldgrove 12/18/49 – 08/14/2013 149 . Thanks to Jeni Elcano for daring me to write a rom-com. Karen Neumann. To write about. Thanks to Amanda Davis for sharing her maiden name with me. Thanks to my wife Julie for letting me write while she dealt with all the household duties. Thanks to Jared K. Thanks to Melissa Ricketts for the help. on top of being great friends. my right-winged weapons expert.

feedbooks.www.com Food for the mind 150 .