Authors: Steve Elliott
Copyright Steve Elliott 2012.
All rights reserved
This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
We were shopping. That is to say,
was shopping. She
seemed to be indulging herself in that particular activity. I was simply there as a parcel carrier. Suddenly there was a commotion up ahead, compounded by various shrill cries of ‘
!’ I stood on tiptoe in an endeavour to discern what was happening. The commotion seemed to be coming closer, judging by the growing disturbance in the crowd. I looked over at Kim who raised her eyebrows at me and shrugged. She obviously didn’t want to become involved. However, our neutrality wasn’t to be. Some people in front of us were pushed roughly aside and we came face to face with a young girl who wore a distinctive ‘hunted’ air. She was slim, dressed in nondescript clothing with her long brown hair tied into two pigtails. She barged into me and then disappeared into the crowd.
Kim shrugged again and marched off in our original direction. We shopped for about another hour and I was subtly tapping at my watch and shuffling my feet in an effort to persuade Kim to finish our expedition when I heard her exclaim, “Oh no, you
I turned around to behold out erstwhile young barging acquaintance, being held immobile in a grip of iron by Kim.
“What the devil is going on?” I asked.
“This naughty person was trying to
from you,” Kim explained.
“What!” I exclaimed. “
“I didn’t feel anything.”
“I know,” Kim said. “She’s very good at it. I was lucky to see her. Now, Miss Thief, just what do you think you’re
“I wasn’t doing
,” the girl sullenly replied. “I was just getting my property back.”
property?” I asked.
“The stuff I put in your pocket before,” she told me.
“When they were chasing me.”
“Let me get this straight,” I said. “You put some ‘
’ into my pocket?”
“Sure. I didn’t want to get
with it, did I? I’m not stupid. So, I just hid it there for safekeeping, like. I came to get it back, that’s all.”
have put anything into my pocket,” I told her. “I would have
“Have a look,” Kim suggested.
I did, and my hand came up with two wallets and a necklace that weren’t mine. Kim made a snide comment about the necklace not being my usual colour, but I ignored her.
did you do that?” I asked the young girl in astonishment.
She shrugged. “It’s what I do,” she said, nonchalantly.
you she was good,” Kim commented. “Now, what do you suggest we do with our diminutive thief here?”
vote is to let me go,” the girl said, with an impudent grin.
Kim grinned. “You’re a bold little ratbag but I like your style.
are you thieving anyway?”
The girl shrugged once more. “What
is there?” she asked, bitterly. “There are only
trades for women around here, and the
one is to be a thief. The first one is something I’d rather not do.”
“You mean, get a
job,” Kim commented, sarcastically.
“No,” the girl said, awarding Kim with a hostile glare. “The first option is to become a prostitute like my two flatmates. They tell me stories about what happens to them and I
want to go through what they do. Between us all we make enough to pay the rent, but that’s about all.”
“Well, we’ll have to turn the proceeds of your criminal activities over to the police,” I stated. “They can probably find the owners. And as for
, young lady,” I said sternly, shaking an admonitory finger at her, “I suggest that you give
your life of crime. One day you’ll find yourself in
trouble.” I paused and sighed despondently. “Did that sound as corny to you as it did to me?” I asked, plaintively.
“We could have fed a flock of chickens for a whole
on that amount of corn,” Kim sniggered. “
it, Paul. She’s not going to change her ways. This isn’t a Hollywood movie.” She shook our young thief roughly. “Don’t
try this with us again,” she warned. “The next time I’ll get mad. And Paul’s right. One day you’ll run into big problems if you keep going this way.”
with the sermons,” the girl replied, unrepentant. “Listen, I’m sorry I tried anything with you,
“Fair enough,” Kim responded, letting her go. The girl did a little dance step and bowed with a flourish. “Until we meet again,” she said before she disappeared into the crowd.
little thing,” Kim commented, “but I sort of like her. She has spirit.”
“You can say that again,” I answered. “It’s a pity she won’t stay on the straight and narrow. But we may have given her a nudge in the right direction. Maybe……wait a
! That little so-and-so has run off with my
“Are you sure?” Kim questioned.
I’m sure!” I told her, feverishly searching my pockets. “I was wearing it just now! Why, that……..naughty……
Kim grinned broadly. “Nice language restraint,” she observed. “Anyway, too bad about the watch. She must have pinched it while I was holding her. I didn’t see a thing. She’s
“Probably years of practice,” I grumbled. “What am I going to do about my watch?”
“Go and buy
one, I suppose,” Kim said, heartlessly. “Don’t make such a fuss. You bought it for about ten dollars if I recall.”
of the thing,” I remonstrated. “It might have been a cheap watch that didn’t keep very good time, but I don’t like being
“I wonder how our little thief is going to feel,” Kim pondered, “when she finds out she’s nicked a second-hand
dollar watch? Not very happy, I should think.”
“Serves her right,” I groused. “Come on, let’s take her other loot to the police station.”
I acquired a new watch, which secretly pleased me, because the old one
kept proper time, but I’d always been too miserly to throw it away. The next day we had a call from the police. They wanted us to take part in a suspect line up to identify the thief who had taken the goods we’d handed in. Kim agreed, mainly from
, I suspect. We’d never taken part in a line up procedure before and she was always open to new experiences.
We ended up in a room behind a one-way mirror as the suspects shuffled in and lined up in a ragged row. I gripped Kim’s arm as I saw our little thief among the supposed miscreants.
“Now, take your time,” the policeman advised us. “They can’t see you behind this mirror, so don’t worry about that. Just point to the one you think stole the goods.”
,” I began, without thinking. “It was…..
”….. I stopped short as Kim’s elbow jabbed me painfully in the ribs.
“What my brother
,” explained Kim, “is that it happened in such a hurry that we couldn’t identify
. I’m sorry. I’m fairly sure that it was none of these people.”
“Okay,” said the policeman. “Thanks for your time, but if you remember any more details, let us know.”
“We will, Officer,” Kim said.
We made our way out of the observation room and through the administrative offices to the sidewalk.
all about?” I asked Kim. I was feeling a bit peeved. My ribs were still sore.
“Well, I couldn’t let you ‘finger’ our girl,” she explained with a wink. “I see a lot of potential in her and jail would corrupt her into a hardened criminal.’
a hardened criminal,” I expostulated. “She stole my
“Oh, give it a rest,” Kim admonished. “Stop complaining about your wretched watch. That’s past history.”
“Okay, okay,” I grumbled. “What are we waiting around
“I’m waiting for someone,” she explained, enigmatically. She stared at the police building entrance expectantly. “And
Our young thief emerged, saw us, stopped abruptly, and then walked hesitatingly down the stairs. She approached us and stood in front of Kim, shuffling her feet. “I guess I owe you a favour,” she said in an embarrassed voice. “I knew they would have called you in for the identity parade. But you didn’t point me out.” She glanced away down the street, then looked directly into Kim’s eyes. “Can I ask
Kim grasped the girl’s shoulders and said, “Because, sweetie, I believe there’s
to you than being a petty thief. I sometimes get flashes of what could be and I think you could be
much more.” She released her hands. “But
up to you.”
The girl lowered her eyes and said nothing. “My name’s Martina,” she offered, finally. “And I’m definitely in your debt. Would you like to come back to my place for a coffee or something? You could meet my two flatmates. They should be home. They’re probably getting a bit worried about me by now.”
“Sure,” Kim agreed, easily. “I’d like to meet them. I’m Kim, by the way, and this is my brother, Paul.”
We all shook hands and made those inane polite greeting noises that people make to introduce themselves.
“I’m sorry about your watch,” Martina confessed to me, shamefacedly. “You looked such an
mark and I just couldn’t resist taking it. Afterwards, I felt a bit guilty and was wondering how to return it but it stopped working a few days later and I had to throw it away.”
Kim smiled. “Don’t worry about it, honey,” she soothed. “It was a piece of junk anyway. I think that Paul was secretly glad to get rid of it.”
!” I lied. “Well……okay, maybe I was. Anyway I bought a
one.” I held up my arm as a demonstration, only to find my wrist was devoid of any time-marking appliance of any description. “What the
!” I exclaimed.
“Oh, you mean
thing,” Martina said with a cheeky smirk, holding up my new watch in her hand. Kim roared with laughter.
……” I exploded. Then I saw the funny side of it and laughed too. Kim was right. Martina was very,
good at this. I hadn’t felt the slightest twitch.
We walked a few blocks into the more disreputable area of the city, and Martina led us into a third storey flat, via a stairway that had seen better days. She opened the door and ushered us inside. The flat was cramped but well kept. There wasn’t much in the way of furniture but everything was neat and tidy. The two other occupants were sitting on a tattered couch, reading magazines. They looked up as we entered and Martina introduced us.
“The one with the red hair is Bella,” she said, “and the other is Francine. This is Kim and Paul. They’ve just saved me from jail.”
“Your luck won’t last forever you know, Martina,” lectured Bella. “One day there won’t be
around to save you.” She shook hands with us both. “
for rescuing Martina. She can be a right handful.”
Martina poked out her tongue at Bella who smiled indulgently. “She’s like our little sister,” she explained. “Not that Francine or myself are such exemplary role models, mind you, but we do what we can.”
I liked Bella. She was probably thirtyish but still retained a youthful look. She had a nice figure too, and a pretty face, but I supposed that would be an asset for her profession. Her eyes were clear but all too knowing, and I could see the beginnings of a dark hopelessness in them.
Francine was older, her features ravaged and lined with worry creases. Her makeup was so thick it appeared to have been applied with a butter knife. I could see needle marks on her arms and I then understood the meaning of those worry lines on her face. But she was friendly and generous, making us some coffee and passing around a plate of biscuits. We made small talk for about an hour and then Kim and I headed for home, with a promise to return for a further visit.