Luck and the Pickpocket

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

1 comment


I rock back and forth from my heels to my toes, just like I do each time I wait on this platform on my way to meet her. I imagine that I stand in this spot every time I’m here, and that there are grooves no one knows about that have been worn down by my feet. It makes me feel permanent and untouchable, like no matter how much time passes, my mark will be left behind.

Screaming rails and a dim beam of light announces the train’s coming to relieve me from my duty of making myself eternal. Just as it does each day.

And just like I do each day, I slide casually through the still opening doors of the subway car, leading the way for the trail of patrons behind. Surprisingly, no one had gotten off, and the car is already packed tightly. I step carefully over the wheels of a stroller that a woman is pushing back and forth in an attempt to quiet her screaming child. 

Annoyed, I swing around one of the poles and brush past a boy in a baggy sweatshirt and a hat tugged down almost to his eyes. Winking at him, I spun to find a spot, and in doing so, come face to chest with the guy next to him. 

“My bad,” I shrug as I take his other side, and then, in an attempt to lighten the mood: “You take up a lot of space there big guy.”

He glances at me, then shakes his head, turning to stare back at the wall. I go out of my way to keep glancing at him. I couldn’t have missed the gargantuan man, but I had. A smile tugs at the corners of my mouth as I watch his silvering hair brush back and forth against the ceiling with each sway of the car. 

He sighs as we lurch to a halt and I bump into him with the momentum. “Can I help you with something kid?” His voice sounds strained and tired. 

“Nope, sorry, you just keep getting in my way.” I grin at him.

His eyes narrow and he shifts to look at me. I feel the smile I had painted on flicker. I don’t like how his gaze crosses over my black jacket and ripped jeans, and I really hope he doesn’t comment on it. I uncomfortably hook my fingers into my belt loops.

We both get momentarily distracted by the line of people pushing past us to the exit. The boy I’d noticed earlier rushes past us both, and his shoulder slams into mine. I shake my head as he walks away. The man looks at me again, about to say something, but I beat him to it. 

“Can I help you with something?”

The car lurches forward again and this time, he bumps me. I raise my eyebrows as my feet stagger with his weight and he grunts what I take as an apology.

“Not unless you’re Cupid or something.” He sighs and takes a seat, and I move to the bench across from him.

I don’t ask anything else, which makes it more awkward because we’re some of the last few people in the car. I have one more stop before I’d be too far.

A few more minutes pass, and then, “What the-”

His voice cuts through the humming car and a couple heads turn to look at the man. He's twisting to look at the ground and patting his pockets frantically. “It was just here,” he says in a voice that was probably a bit more tenor than normal. He turns to face me, and I tug my brows together in confusion.

“You,” he says, and starts towards me. “I knew you were acting funky, get up.”

I put my hands up and slowly stand, “I don’t know what your problem is man, but don’t come at me.”

“The ring, you punk, where is it?” He grabs my jacket and starts pulling at it, feeling the pockets.

“The rin - dude what are you talking about? Aye, stop.” I swat his hand off my jacket before taking it off and giving it to him. “Whatever you’re looking for man, I don’t got it.” I pat my own pant pockets, happy I wore tight jeans today. They hide nothing. 

Unsatisfied that his search came up empty, the man tosses the jacket back at me and crouches to look under the benches, muttering to himself.

I run my fingers through my unruly hair, and the train slows again. Before I get off, I look at him one more time. Our eyes meet and I shake my head. “Cupid won’t help you, man. You need luck, not love.” And I join the crowd on the platform.

Twenty minutes later, and I’m sitting on a green bench next to a homeless man who’s been sleeping since I got here. It’s broad day, but I don’t question it. I’ve been there before once.

The chipped paint is sharp, and pokes through my jeans. I bounce my leg impatiently. Where is she?

Ah. There. From a distance, I can see the boy from the train marching towards me, engulfed in the hoodie that goes past his knees. My hoodie. I smirk, leaning back against the bench.

“You look hot,” I say.

“Shut up,” says the breathy voice, and delicate hands painted with a dark red polish push the knitted hat up and away, revealing the face that takes my breath away each time.

She yanks the hat off and releases her mane of dark curls. She shakes them out and scrubs her hands over her head aggressively. I chuckle, this was her typical routine. Here comes the complaining.

“God, this is it. I’m done. You get to dress like the hobo from now on.” I raise my eyebrows and her eyes flit to snoring man next to me. “It just doesn’t do me justice. Do you know how horrible it is to have men look at you when you look like this? It’s seriously more creepy than when I look like normal.”

“Mhm,” I watch her continue her ritual. “You’re already the star of this show, don’t gotta go making yourself more conspicuous than you already are.” 

“Whatever.” She rolls her eyes and I wink at her.

“Toss it over.” I say.

She pauses to chuck the small box at me, and I snatch it from the air, popping it open. I don’t know what makes diamonds different from glass, and I don’t care. Money is money.

I look at her, and get up. I grab her hair and kiss her. She sighs against my lips, and I know she isn’t really mad at me.

I kneel down in front of her, holding out the sparkler. “Marry me?”

“Asshole.” She kicks me lightly where I’d rather she didn’t, but I laugh. She takes back the box, putting the ring on her index finger, since it didn’t fit her others. She holds her hand out and wiggles her fingers, admiring the rock.

“You did good.”

“I always do.”

“You always do.”

“We have to go, before they close.”

“You’re right.”

She yanks the hoodie off her slender frame, and tugs the oversized sweats off, revealing a tight black dress and matching jacket to mine. I watch intently as she pulls out a couple bills from her bra, and tucks them into the sweater pocket. She then folds the clothes up and places them on the bench next to the man.

“That’s mine, not yours to give.”

“I don’t see you complaining when I take things that aren’t mine.” More finger wiggling. I couldn’t argue with that logic. 

She meets my gaze and shrugs. “And anyways, the cash is for his troubles. I’ll make more.”

“You mean we’ll make more.” I nudge her shoulder as we walk away.

“Nope. Me. Remember who does all the work, Clause. You’re just the diversion.”

“Exactly, and you couldn’t do it without me.” 

“I definitely could. You’re just lucky to be here.” She flat tires my shoe and keeps walking while I hop around, struggling to fix it.

“Okay, Robinhood, whatever you say.”

She’s wrong though. Only pickpockets are lucky, not men in love.

December 06, 2019 17:34

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Sasha Senaratne
09:16 Dec 12, 2019

Excellent story! I really enjoyed reading and loved the interaction between characters.


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.