Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pickpocketing Gone Wrong - A Short Story

"Just make sure you create a huge scene," I said.
 
"What if we get caught, dude?" said Rajesh stroking his chin thoughtfully.
 
"Listen guys, it's all in the performance.  You create a huge ruckus and everybody starts looking at you," I said holding up hands up in the air as if I am a director describing a movie scene.  "It creates the needed distraction.  You guys should shout at each other at the top of your lungs so that the people around you get annoyed.  Then you demand loudly that the bus be stopped so that you can get down and take the fight outside.  And if you have done it well, all the people should be happy to just get rid of you and ask the driver to stop the bus as well.  And, in the middle of all the commotion, I slip out of the bus along with you guys.  In the end, we are all left completely clean."
 
"What if they didn't stop the bus and the guy realizes that hes been robbed?" put in Lokesh.
 
"Again, its all in the performance guys.  Be as huge a nuisance as you can be.  Make the people 'want' to throw you out of the bus and we will be off the bus even before this guy has a chance to realize his wallet's gone!"
 
They both stood lost in thought.  I knew they weren't sure about the plan, but they weren't about most of the ideas I came up with.
 
Well, dont blame us! We tried to get a job, but being school dropouts, the only people who hired us were people who were going to make us work like dogs and then underpay us.  All we do is hangout all day long at the teashops and come up with such ideas to get easy money.
 
This one was my latest.
 
Next morning, we had a few more verbal rehersals of our plan, and then we finally got into a bus that looked crowded enough for our mission.
 
First, I had to find a suitable target.  Someone who might have a decent amount of money in his wallet.  I had to do this before the bus turned into the main road.  Our plan was to get out of the bus somewhere in the middle of the main road and then hire an auto and get the hell out of there.
 
After a bit of covert observing, I finally settled on a guy wearing a flashy branded T-shirt with white earphones sticking out his ears, which indicated that he most probably owned an iPod, and most probably had some decent cash in his wallet, provided that he didn't own one of those Chinese iPod knockouts.  Then I observed that he carried a handbag with the logo of a multinational company on it.  Suddenly, he seemed like a safe bet.  I pushed myself through the crowd and placed myself right behind him and waited for the chaos to begin.
 
Just as the bus turned into the main road, I started hearing Rajesh and Lokesh shout at each other.
 
"For the last time, stop stamping my feet, you asshole!" I heard Lokesh shout.
 
"What the hell are you talking about?? I didn't stamp your feet!" I heard Rajesh retaliate.
 
"Hello! Are you calling me a fucking liar??" Lokesh shouted back.  
This went on for a few seconds before it began to make heads turn.  Everyone were straining their necks to get a look at the fighting duo.  The branded T-shirt guy couldn't resist either.
 
I took a look and made sure that the guy's wallet was in his back trouser pocket.  I then gently placed my fingers on the top of the guy's wallet and waited patiently for the speedbreaker that I knew was coming.  As the bus hit the speedbreaker, I pretended to miss my footing and fell on the branded T-shirt guy and at the same time managed to pull out the wallet from his pocket.  The guy stumbled ahead, but then caught the top railing and straightened himself and looked back at me irritated.  My heart jumped to my throat for a moment as I wondered if he realized what I had just done, but all he did was scowl at me for a few seconds, then turn away.  Relieved, I slowly dropped the wallet into my pocket.
 
Luckily, by then, the passengers had started to get irritated with Lokesh and Rajesh.  Everything was going according to plan.
 
An old man pretty close to me started shouting at them telling them how the youths these days are brats and asked them to shut up.  Hearing the commotion, the bus conductor made his way towards Lokesh and Rajesh.
 
"Whats the matter with you guys?? Shut the hell up!" the conductor shouted at them.
 
"Let us off the bus right now! I know how to deal with this asshole!" said Rajesh looking at Lokesh.
 
"I dont take orders from anybody!  You can get down when the bus stops at the next stop!!" the conductor shouted back at him and started to push himself through the passengers to the back of the bus towards me.
 
Lokesh and Rajesh looked at me with a look of helplessness on their faces.  The next stop was about 5 minutes away.  I swallowed hard.  Suddenly, I started to get panicky.  What if the guy finds that he has been pickpocketed, then suspects me and asks me to empty my pockets.  Suddenly, I realized that prison was the last place I wanted to be.  I could imagine how my parents were going to shout at me while I sat on the floor behind bars.  My siblings looking at me, judging.  Even worse, I will be branded a pickpocketer for the rest of my life!
 
As all these thoughts whirled in my head, I realized that the conductor was moving towards me.  He was asking everybody around if they had bought their tickets.  He then looked at me and asked me the same thing.  I nodded yes hoping he wont demand to see the ticket.  Luckily he didn't and instead turned and asked the branded T-shirt guy, who unfortunately wasn't even aware that the conductor was asking him.  The guy was busy staring out one of the windows, his head slightly bobbing to the music he was listening to.
 
"Hello, have you taken the ticket?" the conductor shouted at the guy.
 
The guy heard it this time and turned to the conductor scowling.
 
"Well? I have had it with you youngsters! Cant you just take those damn things off your ears when someone is talking to you??" the conductor shouted at him again.
 
The branded T-shirt guy removed one of the earphones so that he can hear the bus conductor better.
 
"Where's your ticket? Have you bought it??" the irritated conductor said again.
 
"No. I got a pass." the guy said arrogantly and put the earphones back into his ears and turned away to stare out of the windows again.
 
I wished the conductor would just walk away at that, but he didn't.  

He looked visibly pissed off and jerked out one of the earphones out of the guy's ear and shouted,
 
"Well, show it to me! How will I know if you are not lying??"
 
"Comon man! I travel in this bus everyday! I always have a pass!  I have shown it to you hundreds of times!" said the guy.
 
I started to get nervous.  If the guy went to get his pass from his pocket, he might realize that his wallet was gone.
 
"I don't care! What if you didn't get the pass today? What if you forgot??" the conductor was shouting even louder now.
 
Now all the passengers were looking at the bus conductor and the guy.  The guy scowled back at the enraged conductor, then feeling all the eyes on him, said,
"Ok, look......" The guy slipped his hand into his back pocket and suddenly looked confused as he realized his pocket was empty.  He started checking all his other pockets.
 
The conductor now had his hands on his hips with a satisfied I-knew-it look on his face.  A few more seconds of searching later, the guy looked at the conductor, worried, and said,
"I think I forgot my wallet at home.  The pass was in it."
 
The conductor stared at him for a few seconds, then shouted towards the front of the bus,
"STOP THE BUS!!!"
 
The bus jerked to a stop in the middle of the main road.  The conductor looked at the guy and nodded towards the exit.
  
Grumbling, the guy got off the bus.

***

- Rejo John

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