A Pocketeer's Memory

Submitted for Contest #18 in response to: Write a story about a very skilled pickpocket. ... view prompt

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Submitted on 12/02/2019

Categories: General

When I stand in the middle of a crowd, perhaps a busy street on a Monday, with hundreds of rushing locals hurrying for their jobs, from their jobs; students to their schools, from their schools; tourists roaming about with no sense of direction… I feel alive.

The people around me do not notice. No, they don’t understand. They don’t feel the tingling sense of ‘being alive’ that floats in the air like dandelion fluff. The erratic emotions of errant humanity that I can taste on the tip of my tongue. The shining colors of light everybody swims in with no idea as to what waters are dragging them down.

I see it.

I see it all.

I stand in the middle of the busy street, on a drab grey Monday morning that lights up with the brightness of the hiding sun when hundreds of people pass by me, leaving me unnoticed and forgotten, leaving me to do what I will, live how I will.

This freedom… it is intoxicating. Unbelievable. Addicting.

I am on a drug few others choose to ingest.

But now- ha, now is the time to stop this euphoria.

I live in two stages – my life, and my hunt. My life is color and rainbows and the sun shining on fools who fail to see what I can. Who fail to see me. My life is dandelion fluff and sunflower yellow and unicorns on grassy fields. My life is the hundreds of people on this very street who I would not hesitate to help, should they require any that I can provide. My life is kind eyes, happy smiles and a heart that heals.

My hunt is not my life.

The hunt, my hunt, is a chase through the stages of existence. I am the thief and they are my victims. I am the killer and they are my targets. I am the hunter and they are my prey.

They swarm about like unknowing sheep with a wolf in their midst they know nothing about. I am the wolf. The wolf in sheep’s clothing. And my hunt will rip them apart like nothing else ever does, for my hunt will be swift, merciless, terrifying. They will be my hunt, and I shall catch them with the finesse needed for a million more.

They will invite me, like they already have, into their lives, into their walks, into their pockets. And if not them, then certainly their clothes.

Oh, how deeply clothes truly speak. They have lives and personalities and characters so much more profound that mortals with their incessant arguments and complaints. Clothes do not complain. Clothes shine.

They sing with their colors and laugh with the embroidery on their surfaces. They giggle with their zips and cry with the tears and rips that adorn them, sometimes on purpose, something I have never understood. Crying clothes I veer away from, for crying clothes make my day the saddest it ever stays.

But clothes speak to me nonetheless; whispers with collars, speeches with patterns and screams for freedom with the pockets I always gravitate to. Pockets yell out for me to empty them, to free them, to help them.

I am in awe of their bid for freedom, for they always scream. Even I, with my yearning for absoluteness, my desire to run… even I did not dare ask for freedom until I could.

But pockets do.

I step forward and let my hand snip into one. The drabness of the day does not dim the excitement of my effort. Instead, it amplifies. My hand slips out, and the man walks away, unaware, ready to live out his day to the fullest, rush to his office – never realizing until the very last moment that he has been my prey, and I have been his fall.

He is an unassuming man. A ironed shirt painted white. A patterned tie that explodes with energy on top. And the coat of black stripes that screams in fury and happiness and moods I cannot decipher. But it screams and I make out its one plea for freedom and I deliver.

The man disappears from my sight, and inside my muffled shirt seams sits my newest win. My loot. My prize.

I let my eyes wander. Inspection is not part of my hunt. It is a part of my life.

(Inspection, introspection, interaction – all the ins and never the outs.)

The next one who screams to me is not clothes. It is a bag that hangs loosely from the fist of a woman who walks aimlessly from one pathway to another. She is a tourist. Her eyes hide behind sunglasses and I do not know what she sees. And yet, I still doubt she can see what I see.

She is harder to crack than the office worker. She is a gazelle more so than a sheep. She shines in the dull light, but I know that the brightest of it all is her handbag. It is overfilled and bursting with the tears of survival. I pity it. I pity her. For soon, her handbag shall not be crying… but she will.

I walk, and my legs drum a beat beneath me. A beat so predictable, I am surprised the woman does not look. My footsteps spell out my intent, but perhaps in a foreign place, footsteps are beyond her.

I come closer and closer and the bag shrieks louder and louder. I stumble, but a hand grips me for a second before it vanishes. I am left with my balance and a thin wallet I was not aiming for – but one I have earned anyway.

I smile, not too bright, and begin walking again, my feet thrumming the same song it sang just moments before. The woman still fails to notice.

I stand next to her as she stops in front of an antique store. There is a crinkle in the corner of her eyes and a twist to her lips that would strike pain into a humble, kindly heart.

I am not that heart, and I did not care. My hunt resumed.

I pull forth and brush by her. Her bag rips from her grip and spills on the floor. She flounders. Humans rush to help this woman. I snatch up a coin purse, a bracelet laced with miniature diamonds, and a small locket, and I slide away into the ensuing crush of people. No one notices. The woman does not notice. She is too mortified by her faux pas.

I am free and her bag is free, and it screeches in a singing response.

I grin, and my face brightens. My life is aching to return.

But one last fall, one last kill.

I shall have one more prey before life takes my hours from me.

But no matter. The time I have to do what I do is little, but it is also much, for I can do all I desire and no one will be the wiser.

This time, I wish to leave a mark. Go out with a big bang. A bang perhaps only I shall see, but a bang nonetheless.

I skip, my trophies safely hidden in various places in my person which are not pockets and thus do not scream for attention. I skip to the awaiting school crowd at the junction on the side of the road. The traffic light is green, and the cars zoom past with no color, no sound, no life. I loath the sight of cars – they do not make a prey I can prey upon.

I stand next to a nervous boy younger than me. He has gelled hair parted in the middle. A sweater over a school uniform that leaves much to be desired, and a boring, stately brown tie I abhor. His fists clench around the bottle green straps of his overly large backpack that sags with too much luggage.

I smirk. For it is not his backpack I have come to acquire, but the silver watch so carefully polished that rests on his wrist like a much cared-for heirloom.

“Hello,” The boy speaks, and I am instantly jarred out of my inner world. “School too?”

I smile and slip seamlessly back, my head diving, once again, into deep waters. “Yes,” I hum, and the boy nods and turns back. But his shoulders relax, and his fists slip open, down, to his sides. They hang, open and free and a perfect opportunity.

The light turns red. The cars stop. The students in the crowd begin walking to the other end.

I stay. I turn. In my hand rests the silver watch.

My hunt is complete.

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