“I pick-a-pocket, pick-a-pocket, that’s what I do! Try to get more than one pocket, one pocket’s a fluke. But ten or twenty a day, that’s the best way. It feeds my addiction; I eat like a king with all my winnings – some folks I picked were down right rich! I pick-a-pocket, pick-a-pocket, that’s all that I do!” Peter sings jovially as he saunters down a now empty street. It’s early morning, the Sun shines on happily – it doesn’t care who it’s shining for. Peter’s shoes cackle on the cobbled street stones., his knobbly knees jutting out from underneath his too small shorts.
“You think I’m stupid, don’t do well in school. But truth is I’m street smart – maybe cleverer than you!” He continues to sing in nonchalant tones, drumming his fingers along to the tune. The streets are beginning to fill with people on their way to work, or else they’re running errands. With streets this busy, Peter can take his pick. “Today will be a good day,” he hums cheerfully. Peter is an optimist.
Peter saunters up behind his first mark, taking care that no one is paying him any attention. He slips a wallet out of a gentleman’s back pocket and slides it up his own sleeve. It’s nice and fat. “This alone could feed me for a week!” he shouts in happiness, his eyes wide, his mouth bent in a curious smile. “I need this more than you.”
Peter sidles along to a quiet side street, deftly fingering the wallet and opening it to see what he got. “I do Math better than you! Count the pennies inside the purse that I took, guess the value of that ring or the price of the silk scarf.” Inside this wallet, there were bills upon bills of money. Peter quickly discarded anything that could link the wallet to its previous owner and tucked it into his own pocket.
“I’m charming as they come, I can act or dance to save my life, but better social skills than I have you’ll find none.” Peter ventures back on to the main street. He slyly follows a very well dressed, middle aged woman, her fingers laden with gleaming gem stones set in gold rings. He passes by, and with no one the wiser, he leaves her sans her purse and unaware of where it had gone. “A good home,” Peter laughs in melody.
He quickly pops open the purse to see it brimming with everything nice, and everything rich. “This will do, this will!” Peter croons.
He continues to amuse himself with little serenades. “I know the science of the human form and the fashion of today’s clothes – I’ll pick your pocket without you noticing, yes you will not know.” Peter winds his way among the crowds, the noise from his heavily clad feet are masqueraded with everyone else’s clickety-clackety steps. “It’s not the noise that I make, but rather the deft stealth of my hands that gives me a win better than that! I’ll take all of your things, leave you with nothing but the clothes on your back – maybe not even that!” he mimics the tune with the heels of his shoes, slightly too big for his feet and taken from a shoe salesman when he wasn’t looking. “When they ‘aint looking! – that’s the best time to take!”
“I’ll get your coins and your jewels, even if you keep them safe, my fingers are nimble and my touch is sly. I see without eyes what needs to be done, picking the pockets on this street and that,” Peter emits the words, enunciating purposefully and in conjunction with the movement of his skilled and practiced fingers, as he picks their pockets. Nobody notices. “This one was pretty and young, that one was older than my Mum, then there was the man wearing eyeglasses and the woman with the feathered hat. The man with the hairpiece he thought no one would notice – not me, I nearly took it right off his head. Then there was the man with white, scraggly hair, the woman dressed in all black – mourning, it seems, but from a letter I found in her purse, she’ll soon be over it. There’s the kid dressed so well I was jealous – I don’t limit myself to any one type. It’s the money you have not the age that you are, you can be pretty or old, I’m not the person to care. I’ll treat everyone the same, it’s your pocket I want!” Peter sings loudly as he meanders here and there picking pocket after pocket.
And even when his luck ran thin, Peter was luckier than most. “Stealthier than the police constable you reported me to, I can outwit them all, it’s what I do. I never got caught, not once, you batty old dot!” The constable said, “Empty your pockets, you ratty young youth, show me what you have – this lady said you took her purse, is it true?”
Peter looked at them both, with eyes shining and wide. “I ‘aint took nothing. I’m just a child. Maybe she dropped it? What about that there? – is that it?” Peter points at a purse he has just dropped, when the policeman and the lady weren’t looking. It is the same purse he knows he took from her. She apologizes profusely as she recognizes her purse. “Sorry, young boy, I thought it was you!”
Peter replies with a smile, “No need for apologies Madame, it’s a mistake easily made. But maybe next time, you won’t be so quick to judge me.” The lady and policeman leave Peter where he stands. He stuffs a hand in his pockets, feeling for the wallets and purses he took. His hand gropes around, his face confused. In place of the wallets was nothing! Where could it all have gone?!
As the lady walks away, she fingers her pockets, touching the wallets she has taken from the pick pocket. Today was a good day. One pocket and ten wallets, not to mention the one the policeman had.