Piqtur Phillips pushed back from where she had been sitting staring at the computer for the past six hours. She stood stretching out the kinks that had been gathering in her spine. It was at this time that a rookie officer opened the door. The poor man froze, his eyes dropping before snapping up to her eyes and saluting. Actually saluting. Where do they get these guys.
"Umm, sir. I mean Ma'am. That is, Ms. Phillips ma'am..."
"What is it?" She hadn't meant to snap at him but her patience was wearing non-existent.
The officer reddened slightly before he took a deep breath and answered. "The chief wants you to look at this"
Her glare deepened. "What is it?'
"There was a new robbery today, we think, these are the surveillance tapes." He held it out with an unsteady hand and left as soon as she took it.
She groaned. Great. She had two more hours of video to look at. She sat down in her seat and placed her face in her hands. How is it that in the entire New Orleans Police Department nobody could catch one pickpocket!
It had started over the summer break. A number of individuals had started to come in to the precinct to report that the had been burgled. The kicker: they had no idea when it happened.
The first victim, a prim woman in her late sixties, reported having one hundred dollars stolen from her purse. From it. She must have had close to five hundred dollars in there total. But the thief had managed to remove her purse from her bag, withdraw one single bill, and put the purse back in her bag. All this was done without the lady even noticing. So of course the police took her contact information, told her they'd contact her and laughed at her irresponsibility. There was no way that could happen.
Everyone stopped laughing a few weeks later when more than forty people marched into the station demanding that the police act to retrieve what had been stolen from them. And they couldn't play it off either considering that each of these victims had a playing card placed in the area where the stolen item had been. An ace of spades to be specific, hand drawn and intricate.
Besides the calling card, there didn't seem to be anything else to identify him. Then came the public announcement from the police department warning the members of the public that there was a pickpocket on the loose and that people should be more careful, reporting any suspicious activity to the police.
That was no help. Everyone became a suspect. Piqtur now had more than 300 suspicious people to interview and dozens of security videos to look through. She saw no one suspicious, nothing suspicious. In fact she was even more confused now than when she had first started and a lot more hated.
Worse, the perpetrator had taken to targeting police officers. One new officer had gotten his badge stolen, right off him. A week later it had been found sitting innocently on the precinct steps.
How? That is what she had wanted to know. She did what any stressed out officer would have done, she yelled at him. Loudly. The officer had been beyond humiliated. Now every officer that had been there for less than six months was now afraid of her.
In her defense though, she was beyond finished with this case. Pictur had tried, without any success, to get the chief of police to put someone else on the case. But noooo. He had refused. This was her chance, he said. She was fresh, he said. If, no when she solved this case she would be the most asked for police detective in the building. Lies. The only thing she'd been asked recently was if she was even doing her job.
How was she supposed to catch somebody who seemed to be invisible. The populace had taken to calling him or was it her 'The Illusionist' as they seemed to be able to pull nothing short of magic off.
She has a few theories of her own but only one was plausible and it wasn't complete either. They must be striking when the victim is standing still, waiting and occupied. So either in a queue or at the stop sign. From there her theory fizzled out. How could he enter someone's personal space, enter their bag and take something out, put something in, all without the person noticing a single thing. How?
How fast were they? Were they that plain? Or is it that they're someone that no one would suspect? Was it more than one person? She just didn't know.
At this point she suspected that it could be anything.
Glancing at the tapes sitting on her desk, she threw her purse into her bag. If she was going to burn off her eyes looking at these tapes she needed a lot more stimulants in her body.
The streets were filled as usual with people bustling to and fro. The aroma of bar-b-qued meat permeated the air. She considered stopping for a hot dog but had second thoughts as she saw the waiting crowd surrounding the vendor. Was the pick pocket in there? If they were, was she looking at them now?
She shook her head to clear it. She was being paranoid. Besides, she hadn't told anyone that she was leaving and she wanted her coffee.
Piqtur turned, walking again she took her time to observe the people that were passing around her. The affluent were hugging their bags close to their chest while those who were poorer walked freely. That's right. The Illusionist only seemed to target the rich.
She wondered why? Why only the rich? Were they poor and misused? Why was his attacks so random? Was it because they wanted to throw off the police or was it simply random. Lastly, okay not lastly, but why an ace of spades? Why not some other ace or a queen or something? Why did he use a playing card at all?
She bit back a groan as she came to stop at the side of the road, waiting with the people that were already there for the light to turn red. Two more people joined them each pausing at her side. on the low she observed them out of the corner of their eyes.
One was tall, neck achingly so. But besides that there was nothing exceedingly memorable about his features. Dull blond hair, plain brown eyes, he wasn't dressed like a pauper or someone wealthy. in fact he was completely forgettable. Could it be him?
He must have caught her looking because he turned along and flashed her a smile. Scratch that. If any of the victims saw that gold toothed smile they would point him out in a heartbeat. She turned around quickly, looking at the other person, and had to look down. Okay that was exaggerating. He wasn't a midget or anything, just short and a teenager.
He had headphones and he was looking at absolutely no one. Both hands tucked deeply in his jeans, his thick dark eyebrows drawn. He was probably frowning. Just as the light turned orange he looked at her and she caught a glimpse of the brightest green eyes, set against a pale face and dark hair. It was only for a moment but she'd probably remember him.
Piqtur figured that she had been creepy for long enough and stared forward, pulling ahead of the crowd as the light turned red. She needed that coffee now before she started to suspect her cat. She snickered to herself.
"Officer Phillips! Officer Phillips!!"
Piqtur paused, turning to see the young boy running towards her. What did he want. When he reached her he stopped, panting, and she gave him a minute to collect himself. He held out a wallet. He held out her wallet. Her wallet that had been deep in her bag.
"Did you drop this? I found it on the ground."
"Uhmm. I guess I did. Thank you"
She took it from him slowly, maintaining eye contact.
"That was a very responsible thing to do. We could use more people like you who return things to their original owners instead of stealing them."
He bit his lip, like he was trying not to laugh. There was that paranoia again, he was probably just shy and didn't know what to do with his face.
He turned and walked away, his smile brightening as he went. His eyes were shining. What a good kid.
Now for her coffee. It was while she opened her purse that she saw a square of paper fall out of her purse.
A playing card.
An ace of spades.
She looked in the direction that the boy had walked away in.
It couldn't be?