Prompt: “Meet me at the clock tower at midnight.” said the note in the wallet of someone you just pickpocketed.
The target and the pick pocket both wore leather jackets. That’s why the pick-pocket chose this target. If he picked the pocket of someone with similar taste, it upped the chances of getting something he liked. It was a win-win. He got what he wanted and the target got…well, ok, it was just a win for him.
As the train rounded the corner, he jostled the man. He grabbed the wallet and it was in his own pocket without anyone even looking up. A minute later, the train arrived a tthe Seventh Avenue stop and the pick-pocket got off.
He walked up the stairs to cross to the exit. He did his best to remain patient. He didn’t pull the wallet out until he had left the station and walked a couple blocks. Once he had, he pulled it out and flipped through the contents. The wallet was nice. He could probably make a few bucks off it. But the contents were disappointing. A couple credit cards which would probably be useless as soon as the man realized his wallet was missing and reported it to the bank. The pick-pocket took photos of the cards – front for the number, back for the security code – and sent them to the fence anyway. Might get some use out of them for the next few minutes. Except there was no ID.
Who didn’t carry an ID these days? It was the first wallet that had no ID of any sort – not even a library card. He rifled through the few bills – just a few ones and fives, the credit cards, and a folded piece of paper.
The pick-pocket opened the piece of paper and read it. Then he looked nervously around. It read, “Meet me at the clock tower at midnight.” That wasn’t the unnerving part. That note could have been to anyone. No, the unnerving part was his name written at the bottom: Charles.
Charles Green, who went by Rawley for reasons no one could quite pin down, waited in a shadow opposite the square from the clock tower. He watched until the clock finished striking 12. He waited a few more minutes, but there was no one there.
When he got back to the apartment, he didn’t know how to feel. It was probably a crazy coincidence. He reached into his pocket to grab his key. He felt a piece of paper. He pulled it out.
“You can trust me.” He read. Then he pulled out his key, unlocked the door, and stepped inside.
“welcome home, son.” A voice said from the darkness. Rawley turned on the light and stared at the man, relaxing on Rawleys ouch. He was dressed entirely to ell or the apartment. His suit was more expensive than the apartment and all the furniture combined.
Rawley shook his head. “Trust you to do what? Use me up then drop me when I’m not longer useful for the job?”
The man raised an eyebrow and spread his hands. “I did not ask for your trust. I am here to offer you a job, though. While we must find an appropriate level of cooperation so we can both benefit, I understand that trust is not truly possible among thieves.”
Rawley stuffed the paper in his pocket. “What job? How do you know who I am?”
“A sensitive job requiring the lightest hand in the city. You come highly recommended by several of my associates. It appears you have worked a variety of jobs.” The man had steepled his hands together as he spoke. He could not have looked more like a classic villain if he’d been placed in a Hallmark movie.
“Ok, what’s in it for me? And who would I be working with?” Rawley still stood by the door. The man stood and walked towards him. He reached into his pocket. Rawlry stared him in the eye without flinching.
The man pulled out a gun and aimed it at Rawley’s forehead. “I have in my pocket details of the plan. You need not accept. It will be dangerous and complicated. I only accept participants who are confident they can fulfill their part. Regardless of your decision, you will keep the money also in the envelope. But if I ever hear any detail of the plan anywhere but from my own peopl,…” He cocked the gun and trailed off.
“I understand,” Rawley said, trying not to blink. It worked until a drop of sweat fell into his eye.
“Good boy,” the man smiled and put away the gun. He pulled out an envelope and handed it to Rawley. “You can contact me at the Lamplight hotel’s dining room. Let me know by Thursday morning.”
He walked up to Rawley. Rawley looked up at his face. “What’s your name?”
“Mr. Drexel.” He looked at Rawley expectantly. The pick-pocket stepped out of the way and Mr. Drexel opened the door. He paused halfway out the door and said, “Whoever asked for your trust, don’t. It’s not wise to trust.” Then he shut the door.
The next night Rawley stood at the door of the clock tower just as it began to strike midnight. He no longer hid in the shadows. That was clearly ineffective. He didn’t know if anyone would show. Maybe last night had been his only chance. But he’d spent all day thinking about it.
He had no idea what this person wanted, but he did know what they were capable of. They knew he was going to pick that pocket on the train. They were able to slip something into his pocket while he was alone and alert. Whoever it was, they were very, very good. If they wanted to harm Rawley, they would have done so.
So, he waited in full view, wondering what would happen.
“You should take the job with Mr. Drexel,” a voice beside him said. He turned, startled.
“I…what job?” Rawley asked, remembering at the last second that he should be trying to hide that.
“It’s good money,” the man beside Rawley said. He wore a leather jacket and a hat, pulled down low to cover his face. “Besides, he’ll probably kill you if you don’t take it.”
“Who is Mr. Drexel?” Rawley responded, hoping it sounded casual enough. This wasn’t the sort of covering up he was used to doing.
“I won’t force you to compromise yourself. Just consider what I said.”
For a moment there was silence. Rawley could hear the ticking of the giant clock far above. A siren wailed in the distance.
Rawley broke the silence first. “What do you want?”
“It’s not what I want, it’s what do you need to know.” The man turned toward Rawley. Rawley tried to look at his face, but it was covered in enough shadow that he couldn’t make details out. He found himself wishing he’d studied him a little more on the train. The leather certainly smelled the same, though.
“Fine, what do I need to know?”
The man’s shadowed face continued to gaze at Rawley. Rawley stared back, trying to make out something from the shadow.
The pick-pocket looked away first.
“Ok,” he said, “I guess…how did you do it?”
He chuckled. “I’ve been watching you. You’re good, but I’ve been around longer. I could tell how you chose your mark. Looking for someone worth something, but not too much. Someone who was aloof enough. Getting in front of you and acting was easy.”
Rawley shook his head. “But how do you know my name?”
“I’ve known you for a long time, Charles. Longer than almost anyone else.”
Rawley looked at him and narrowed his eyes. “What are you saying?”
“It’s me Charles. It’s Dad. I came home.” He pulled back his hood and Rawley got a good look at his face. Not just the side, like on the train. He saw it then. He didn’t have any photos of his dad, but he could see the resemblance. The same jawline, the same nose.
Those features blurred as Rawley’s eyes watered.
Then he punched the man in the face.