It used to be his profession until he spent some time in prison. That was years ago, now he had a good job, wife and two kids. Frankie Valoucci was a changed man, except he loved the skill he practiced for years, slipping a wallet out of a man’s pocket or woman’s purse. Some never noticed until they tried to retrieve it and found it missing.
It had been years since he exercised his skills except to play with his kids putting things in their pockets or taking stuff out without their knowledge.
His wife Doris frowned on even these ‘play’ activities because she knew Frankie’s past.
“I just worry so that you might do it again, Frankie, and I don’t know what we’d do without you.”
“Baby, those days are over except for a little fun with the kids.”
Frankie would remind himself of the years in prison as the price he’d paid for his earlier occupation. Now with all he ever dreamed of, he did not want to screw it up again.
The truth was he longed to practice his art again. He considered himself in the realm of the most skilled magicians. His hand was so fast, combined with his diversion abilities, the mark rarely noticed. It was the hefty wallet that lightened a man’s hip pocket that caused an immediate reaction resulting in going to jail. However, Frankie was exceptionally talented and longed to try it just one more time.
Heading to his office on the busy downtown street, on Black Friday, his fingers tingled with excitement as he clenched his fists, then tried to relax them. His heart was pumping, and the urge was overwhelming. Then he spotted the tall man in the suit and trenchcoat approaching. He had snake eyes and a bit of a squint, but he was staring straight ahead in apparent deep thought. It was so crowded on the sidewalk, people were already bumping into others.
That one impetuous moment was irresistible, and he bumped into the well-dressed man, a hand so quick it defied the eye and a simple, “Sorry,” as he moved away with the thick tall wallet tucked under his coat sleeve. The stranger never looked around. It was perfect. The adrenaline flowing faster and a smile on his face, Frankie arrived at his building.
Anxious to see what he got, even though it was not the motivating reason, the wallet could be a significant money prize also. Cards were useless. Frankie dashed into the men’s room and entered one of the stalls and locked the door. He eagerly opened up the thick leather folder.
Inside explained the thickness, there were precisely fifty crisp new hundred-dollar bills. Oh my, he thought, this really is a lovely holiday bonus. I lucked up, but no more. I’m done. This was just for old time’s sake. Never again.
As he was preparing to discard the credit cards and ID in the building incinerator chute, he noticed a small typed note with the bills.
Frankie opened it and read, “Mr. X, inside the suitcase, you’ll find five hundred thousand dollars and a body lapel camera. Wear it. When the hit is completed and recorded on the camera, you’ll get the other half-million as agreed.”
He felt the blood drain from his face, and his eyes stared ahead blankly. My God, I’ve picked the pocket of a high paid assassin. I’m in deep shit now. Panic and a new surge of adrenalin replaced the satisfaction of moments ago. What if he recorded me bumping into him, he’ll know exactly who to come looking for. Did I ever pick the wrong pocket. This guy don’t fool around. He kept the Driver’s License, though the name was likely fake, the photo was real. A thought occurred to him if something happened, he might have a letter of explanation with the ID picture for the police of what previously transpired. Maybe the assassin would not get away clean.
At home that evening, his wife greeted him warmly. The holiday season already arrived. Frankie didn’t have much appetite thinking he might be the target for his regretful score today. The hunter becomes the hunted, he thought.
The next day he called in sick to work. All night he’d been picturing in his mind walking to his work and a high-powered rifle bullet exploding his skull. The assassin would be getting even. And it would not be for the money, but for the humiliation and possibility of exposure, should Frankie choose to go to the police, which he had no intention of doing.
When he finally forced himself to return to work at the urging of his wife, he was nervous, looked over his shoulder often, though Frankie knew it would not do any good, should he be spotted. He spent the money reluctantly and bought Christmas gifts for his wife and kids. He assumed it would make their Christmas merry.
It would not be joyous. The holidays were filled with gloom because the daddy of the household infected the others from worry that he could not talk about to anyone.
This was going to be a single score to remind me of the old days before prison, and instead, I’ve created a prison for myself and involved my family.
The new year came, and spring was in the offing. Nothing happened.
Summer and the rest of the family were glad winter was over. Frankie felt a little less apprehensive as still, nothing happened.
At long last, Frankie put the incident behind him and gradually resumed a near-normal life. The deep-seated fear never went entirely away. He still kept his letter of explanation and the assassin’s ID in his safe.
These years have been spoiled by my thoughtless actions. I thought I’d learned my lesson when I got out of prison. Just that ‘one time’ has caused me and my family more misery than if I’d gotten caught and served a prison term. At least when prison is over, it’s over.
It was never over.