"That's the thing about this city," Scrags said. "There's so many gullable fools here! I've got enough marks to last me half a century." Oliver rolled his eyes as he regarded his scruffy companion. "So what?" Oliver said. "You keep scamming people either the gangsters or coppers are gonna get you. It's a dangerous game you're playing."
Scrags reached across the restaurant table to pat his youger brother on the arm. "Oliver," he said. "You've always looked out for me. But you don't seem to remember I've been around the block a couple more times than you. I know how to take care of myself." Oliver wiped the grime that his borther's dirty gloves had left on his suit.
"I guess that's true Steve but--"
"I TOLD YOU NEVER TO CALL ME THAT!" Scrags bellowed. "I'M SCRAGS! THAT'S HOW EVERYBODY KNOWS ME--"
"Okay! Okay!" Oliver said. "You're Scrags, I'll just remember that."
Perhaps it had been a mistake trying to reconnect with his brother. Oliver knew his older brother was unstable, but he still loved Steve. Scrags though...this street persona of his brother's thoughroughly disturbed Oliver. Still it was best to not agitate Steve after a few beers.
"I can't let people know my real name," Scrags said. "The police'll throw me in the slammer soon as they know who I am. 'Sides this way I can't embearass you. Wouln't want to be associated with some low life now that you're a fancy pants politician, right?"
"Well I'm only the press secretary to Mayor Lister," Oliver said. "That's hardly a prestigious job." Scrags guffawed at this statement. "So what?" He said. "You still can't be associated with Beechwood City's filth. You know, with a grifter like me?"
Oliver pinched his nose between his forefinger and thumb. "I guess you're right," he said. "I guess I'll just pay the tab and leave. Just don't cross the wrong person okay...Scrags?" He slapped a fifty dollar bill on the table as he stood up. Scrags waited till his brother wasn't looking then made a rude gesture.
Picking up his worn out coat, Scrags left the money on the table. No sense in being arrested for non-payment at The Drunk Seagull.
After stepping into the late afternoon sun, Scrags decided to head to Beechwood's hardware store. There was always some old duffer buying stuff for a project they'd probably need help with. What easier way could there be to gain someone's trust? Help some guy out and you could get access to his whole house and their tool shed besides.
Waiting for about ten minutes Scrags spotted an elderly man with about eighty pounds worth of pavers on a flat bed cart. "Need some help loading those into your car?" He asked. "Sure," said the man. "I'm building a patio for my back yard."
This was going to be a cake walk! "Oh!" Scrags exclaimed. "Well I know a thing or two about brick work! I'm having a hard time getting a job. I wouldn't mind helping out if you payed me a little." The older man looked delighted. "Sure," he said. "I can pay you nine dollars an hour." Scrags shook the man by the hand. "You got a deal!" Scrags enthused. It was amazing how easy the elderly let handy men into their lives.
Paul, as the mark's name turned out to be, drove them to his house. "Nice place you got" Scrags commented. "How much it cost you?" Paul grinned as he opened the back of his station wagon. "Well I bought it back in eighty-six to the tune of a hundred thousand dollars," he bragged. "Back before Beechwood became the Summer Home of rich weekenders. I was lucky I'd invested in computers. Gave me enough money to afford this house."
Scrags began lifting pavers out of the car. He still found time to talk. "So is it just you living here?" He probed. "Most of the time," Paul said. "My wife passed a year and a half ago. My daughter, Alyssa, and her two kids come see me once in a while."
That means he's vulnerable, Scrags thought, there's nobody to get suppicious if I want to rummage around. "Sorry to hear about your wife," Scrags said aloud. "You must miss her a lot." Paul sat in a nearby lawn chair. "I do," he said. "Kelly was a good woman. The cancer though it made her suffer so. I'm sure she is in a better place."
An awkward silence engulfed the pair. "Right," Scrags said. "I've got these out. Do you got any mortar and some tools?" Paul pulled a set of keys out of his pants pocket. "They should be in the garage," he said. "I'll--" Scrags bludgeoned Paul repeatedly with a paver.
It didn't take long for Paul to succumb to Scrag's assault. The grifter pried the keys from his victim's hands. He tried each one carefull to not rush.
The lock clicked and Scrags lifted the garage door. He had to do some searching but he found an antique looking box and a Philadelphia Flyers jersey. Scrags shoved these into his coat.
After he concealed his loot, Scrags dragged Paul's body into the garage, he then shut the door and locked it. A few blocks away Scrags found 'Lucky's Pawn and Antiques'. A fat balding man in a polo shirt stood behind a desk picking his nails.
It's been a slow day, Scrags thought, this guy must be desprate for a new pawn there's hardly anything besides rifles here. "What do you want?" The store owner asked. "I think I got some good stuff at a yard sale," Scrags lied. "Wondering how much you'll give me for it?"
Scrags placed the jewelry box and jersey on the counter. The pawn broker eyed it carefully. "A Victorian jewlry box fair condition," he stated. "A Philadelphia Flyers jersey with some water damage...five hundred for both."
"Look I ain't born yesterday," Scrags said. "I've seen Victorian Jewelry boxes go for about two thousand dollars. The jersey is worth at least two hundred!"
"Two thousand! That's like throwing in the jersey for free."
"One thousand! The tarnish and water damage decrease the value."
"Fifteen hundred! Or I take my business elsewhere!"
"Seventeen thousand! Final offer...oh dammit!"
"Ha! Seventeen thousand! Sounds good!"
The owner glared at Scrags. "I have to get that from the safe," he said. "Don't try anything there are cameras where you can't spot them." Scrags danced on the inside! That money would get him a good fix. Maybe score an eightball, a hotel room for the week, a few good meals and some booze!
Oliver was so stupid to assume I can't look out for myself! Scrags thought; I got my street smarts and that's plenty.
The store owner returned with the money. He layed out a strap of on hundred dollar bills, a strap of fiftys and a strap of twentys. "My man!" Scrags said. "How do you have so much dough on hand?!" The man scowled. "What do you care?" He said. "Take your damn seventeen thousand and go!"
Scrags left the pawn shop with a spring in his step, he put his money in the secret pocket he had made in the lining of his coat. Maybe it was the crack but sucess went to Scrag's head easily.
He lay in the hotel bed in a pool of money. He rolled in it and then decided he needed to do another job. Maybe if he picked the right mark, he could buy his own condo! But maybe not yet. He couldn't become predictable, it was dangerous. Scrags decided to wait a while.
A week later, Scrags was standing outside the same hardware store. A sucessfull looking young man came out pushing a cart with a big block of pete moss, some mulch and a pear tree. "Doing some landscaping?" Scrags asked casually. "Yeah," the young guy confirmed. "My wife wants to can her own fruit. So I'm planting this tree even though I don't know what I'm doing."
Great, Scrags thought, a stupid trust fund baby that's whipped; perfect! "My father was a gardner" Scrags said. "He taught me what he knew about trees. I could do the work for cheap."
"Wow," said the man. "That'd be peachy keen!" All of a sudden there were squad cars with lights and sirens surrounding them. "BWPD! Get on the ground now!" Officers shouted at Scrags. The grifter tried to make a run for it. Electricity shot through him as a Taser hit its mark. Scrags hit the pavement hard. He was still spasming as he was moreandized.
"Steve 'Scrags' Warren," an officer intoned. "You are under arrest for the murder of Paul Shiply, grand larceny and fraud! You have the right to remain silent--"
"YOU IDIOTS CAN'T PROVE NOTHING!"
"Anything you say can and will be used against you--"
"FUCK YOU ALL!"
"In a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If--"
"If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to you by the state--"
"Do you understand these rights as I have given them to you?"
"YES WHATEVER! LAWYER!"
Of course the brat had been an undercover cop! The police had found Paul's body a few days after Scrags had killed him. CSU had found Scrag's prints on the paving stone and garage door.(They had his finger prints on file from a previous arrest for possesion of a controlled substance.) Video from the hardware store and pawn shop confirmed that Scrags had been in contact with the victim and in possesion of Paul's belongings.
Stupid Oliver, Scrags thought, why'd he have to be right?!