Stealing in the Square

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

The gray clouds hung low over the city of London. The cold, dull streets were filled with people bustling around in and out of shops. Jack watched as hats flew up into the gray sky like dancers twirling threw the air when a sudden and strong gust of wind blew past. Jack shivered and walked on through the square. In the midst of the hustle and bustle stood a rich looking man. The man stared down at a piece of parchment in his gloved hands, most likely, Jack thought, a newspaper. Jack continued thinking, the fool, he thought, standing around in the open with his wallet stickin' out his pocket. Jack smiled to himself as he planned his approach. His scheming, however, was interrupted by an angry shout, "Aye! You! Move it boy, before I run you ova with these 'ere horses." Jack looked up at the gruff man perched on a seat, rains in hand. Charming. Deciding not to pick a fight he quickly stepped back and watched as the dirty, gray, hoofed beasts trotted past.

As soon as they were no longer blocking his view of the square he focused his attention back on the man still standing there, still examining the parchment.

Jack made his way forward walking relatively close to the man but not close enough to seem suspicious. As he passed behind the man he let his hand slip out of his pocket. With a few quick movements of his wrist and fingers the man's wallet appeared in his grasp hidden by the angle of his hand. He hadn't stopped walking and wasn't planning on doing so until he was well away.

Jack slipped the wallet into his own pocket and rubbed the smooth leather. If there turned out to be in there he could at least sell the wallet itself for a decent price. Against his will, the corners of his mouth curled upward into a triumphant smirk. He kicked his heels and continued walking at a steady pace towards the ally way he liked to call home. The mood didn't last long and he didn't get to far before he felt a gloved hand press down against his shoulder. The smirk slipped off his face and landed in a soppy puddle at his feet. He stopped walking and turned around to face the man he'd stolen from. The man's eyebrows were raised and his wrinkly, pale face was stern as he held out his hand.

Jack met the man's pale blue eyes before he turned on his heel and ran, pushing people out of the way. The cold air stung his face and he ran not daring to stop or look back. Of course he felt guilty, but he needed this, that fellow probably has mounds of cash at home in his three story mansion. 

He kept running through the crowded street. He slipped into an alley and ran to the back crouching behind a bin.The odor of old fish and rotten eggs filled his nostrils, he tried not to breathe for he didn't want to taste the stench either.

Jack sat behind the bin and closed his eyes as he listened to the tap of horses hooves against the pavement and the howl of wind from outside the damp, dark, an smelly alley way.

He snapped his eyes open. A loud scream echoed through the alley way. Jack slowly crept out from behind the garbage. The wind still howled and bit at his exposed skin. He continued down the small alley and out into the square. The wind whipped his hair all around and tugged at his clothes. He covered his face with his arm and faced towards where the scream came from. It didn't take long to notice the cart tipped over in the middle of the road. No one was inside so what was all the commotion for?

In startled confusion he came closer to the tipped cart. The sight hit him like a train. The image of a mangled body sat beneath the wheel. Hoof marks stained the pale face. blood leaked from many places on the face and body. The neck was twisted. The pale blue eyes stared right into Jack's.

Jack stepped back, his scared eyes stilled locked with the mans lifeless ones. A loud bell rang from the distance and the people crowd around the scene cleared a path. Jack still stared unmoving at the man, the man he'd stolen from. The bell got louder and the sound of hooves hitting the pavement echoed throughout the now silent square. Someone tugged him out of the way. He watched in a daze as the paramedics untangled the man and strapped him onto a wooden plank and covered him with a dark sheet.

 They carried him away and the crowd slowly ebbed away. As the people continued their errands, Jack stood and stared at the ground where the man had been only minutes ago, a lifeless body. 

People jostled him around and told him, "Watch it, youngster." 

Eventually he started to walk again, his head down and his hands stuffed in his pockets rubbing the leather of the stolen wallet. 

Later that night as he lie on small cotton pillow in a chilly alleyway, images of the mans pale blue eyes flashed through his head. Guilt twisted his stomach into knots as realized what he'd done.

I've killed him.  

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