BUMPING INTO SIERRA
The park was packed. Kids swung on swings, parents prepared picnics, and joggers jogged, as young lovers walked, hand in hand, slowly along the park paths. Meanwhile, Sierra and Bam walked side by side along one of those very paths.
"So, how old are you anyway?" Sierra suddenly asked.
"I'll be twenty next month," Bam, as a matter of fact, answered.
"How long you been a Grifter?"
"A Grifter?" Bam frowned, "Where'd you pick up that word?"
"Oh, in some movie I once saw," Sierra grinned.
"Well, to answer your question," Bam smiled, "all my life. I was born into it."
"Born into it?"
"Yeah, my father picked pockets, my grandfather picked pockets, and his father before him picked pockets. In fact, I was told that my great great-grandfather worked the boat that he came over on."
"Wow, that's pretty cool," Sierra admiringly remarked.
"Yeah, actually picking pockets was how my mom and dad met," Bam continued.
"Was your mom always a pick pocket too?"
"No," Bam chuckled, "she was my dad's mark."
"Your dad's mark?!"
"Yeah, my dad was working a bus station. My mom was waiting for a bus. He wandered over and snatched her watch right off her wrist."
"What happened then?" Sierra asked fascinated.
"Well, he worked the dip too fast."
"What's the dip?" Sierra interrupted.
"That's the name for the actual act of physically removing an item from the mark's pocket," Bam explained, "anyway, he worked too fast and my mom felt him snatch the watch."
"Oh my God!" Sierra excitedly replied, "what happened next?"
"She grabbed my dad's wrist and politely asked him to give her back her watch."
"Yeah, but in his haste he had broken the watch's band. So needless to say, my mom wasn't too happy about the whole situation."
"Well, yeah!!!" Sierra stated the obvious.
"Anyway," Bam continued, "my dad apologized, offered her another watch he had stolen earlier from some other mark and well, one thing led to another, and he took her out to dinner that very evening."
"Did they dine and dash?" Sierra wondered.
"I don't know," Bam answered, "but they eventually got married. Dad always claimed later, however, that he purposely let mom feel her watch being snatched so he could start up a conversation with her."
"Oh, that's so romantic," Sierra sighed, "what happened to your dad?"
"He died several years ago," Bam sadly answered.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Sierra consoled.
She wanted to ask Bam how his dad had died, like did he die in a big shootout with police? Was he executed in the electric chair or something cool like that? However, Bam didn't seem to want to talk about it any further, so she let it go.
"Anyway," he continued, "I've worked with my mom ever since. Helping her organize Wire Mobs here and there."
"Why is it called a Wire Mob?" Sierra wondered.
"Many, many years ago," Bam explained, "they used to use thin wires to hook onto the chain of a pocket watch or a money clip and so forth. As time passed, it became more and more refined until the wires were eventually replaced with more manual skills."
"Well, all of this just sounds so awesome!" Sierra cooed.
"Yeah, and you do get to travel all around the world, of course you're usually just one step ahead of the police."
"It all seems so intense," Sierra supposed, "just like that old movie Thelma and Louise, except its you and your mom."
Bam nodded, "Yeah, well anyway lets get started with your training."
"All righty then!" Sierra happily replied, "Let's do it!!!"
Meanwhile back at the Suite, James Connors slipped his clothes back on. Pebbles remained in bed, under the sheets.
"What's your hurry, cowboy?" she teased.
"The kids will be back at any minute," he hastily answered.
"Oh, I'm sure they won't be in any hurry to come back and hang out with us old folks," Pebbles coyly replied.
"Yeah, but still," Connors replied, as he pulled on his boots.
"Why, James Connors!!" Pebbles laughed, as she reached for her dress which she had carelessly tossed over a bedside chair, "what happened to your old spirit of adventure? Your desire to live life on the edge?"
"Not when it concerns my daughter," he sternly replied.
"Speaking of your daughter," Pebbles smiled, "how is your own project with her coming along?"
Connors reached into his back pocket and pulled out Sierra's forged permission slip.
"This should get everything started," he answered, "could Bam help me out on this?"
Pebbles took the slip and looked it over.
"No problem, I'll have Bam take care of it… for ten percent. You sure you want to go ahead with it? I mean, she's never had a father around and she really seems happy to be able to just hang out with you."
"Yeah, I do," Connors irritatingly replied, "I want to go ahead."
"Okay, okay," Pebbles replied, as she got dressed, "meanwhile, how about we go on over to the park? See how she's doing? We can then start showing her the full operation."
"Yeah, good idea," Connors agreed, as he put his car keys in his pocket. He watched Pebbles quickly brush her hair.
He remembered a time, long ago, when he and her had first met and how they had worked that long con in Rhode Island. Connors noted she looked as beautiful today as she had back then. He had never told her this, but he had once fallen for her. He knew she was married at the time. Hell, he had worked with both her and her husband on that Rhode Island scam. He even considered trying to convince her to run off with him, but at the last minute he had backed off.
It wasn't that he suddenly decided back then that he didn't love her, but he realized what had attracted him so much to her in the first place was the same thing that would have eventually drove them apart. It was the fact that they both were so damned much alike!
"You ready?" Pebbles asked.
"Ready," Connors sighed, as he held open the Suite's door for Pebbles, then they both headed out to check up on Sierra and Bam.
Meanwhile back at the park, Bam had just begun to teach Sierra how to "bump" into people.
"The secret to bumping into people," Bam explained, "is to make it look as natural as you can. You do that by getting in front of someone and act like you're pre-occupied with something."
"Pre-occupied?" Sierra wondered, "pre-occupied by what?"
"Oh," Bam explained, "say you suddenly stop right in front of someone to get something out of your purse, or you quickly stop to check on something you saw in a store window or check on a flight schedule at an airport.
My mom and me and a couple of other guys once worked the airport in Los Angeles. Mom was the stall, so all day long she would suddenly stop in front of people acting like she was checking on the flight arrival times displayed on the airport monitors. We must of made a couple grand that day just working in front of the American Airlines and Southwest Airways ticket counters."
"Cool beans!" Sierra replied, "so show me."
"Okay, start walking," Bam commanded. So Sierra walked.
As Sierra strolled along, Bam quickly passed her by. He wasn't walking fast, just a little bit faster than she was. She figured he was going to get a ways ahead of her, slow up slightly to allow her to catch up, then bump into her.
However, Bam suddenly stopped and turned right in front of her. She instinctively put on her brakes, but it was too late. Sierra bumped right into the back of Bam.
He quickly turned and apologized.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, ma'am," he politely apologized, then walked on.
Bam then turned around and came back.
"That was your basic bump," he noted.
"Okay," Sierra replied, "seemed easy."
"Oh, by the way," Bam said, "here's your bracelet."
Sierra looked at the silver bracelet Bam was now holding in his hand. The same one that seconds before had been on her right wrist.
"Oh My God!" she squealed with delight, "how'd you do that! I didn't feel a thing!"
"Because you were distracted," Bam replied, as he handed back her bracelet, "now you try one."
"Okay," Sierra said, putting her bracelet back on, "start walking."
"Not me," Bam replied, "pick someone in the park. Pick your mark. I want to see how you do."
Sierra nervously gulped, "but I…."
"No excuses," Bam slyly smiled, "in this gig, you learn by experience. Remember, we're not trying to take anything right now, you're just bumping into people. I took your bracelet just to show you how it's done."
"You took my bracelet just to show off!" Sierra coyly replied.
"Well, that too," Bam smiled, "now pick your mark."
Sierra slowly scanned the park. There were so many potential marks. She decided on a young guy, who appeared to have just stopped jogging and was pacing himself. He was walking along the path just ahead of them.
"Him!" Sierra said.
"Then go for it," Bam instructed.
So Sierra took off. She quickly caught up to the young guy and kept pace with him for a few seconds, then picked up her own pace a bit to eventually pass him by. As she was just a few steps ahead of him, she quickly stopped and turned.
The guy apparently didn't see Sierra, who was now directly in front of him, as he was too busy checking the pulse monitor on his watch. Suddenly, he went flying over Sierra and tumbled, head over heels onto the grass. As a result, Sierra herself was knocked down.
"Are you all right?!" the young guy nervously asked, getting up and quickly coming over to help Sierra back up.
"Yeah, I'm okay, thanks!" she replied.
"I'm so sorry," the young guy apologized, "I didn't even see you! You sure you're alright? Are you injured? Do you need me to call an ambulance?"
"No! No! I'm fine," Sierra, now completely embarrassed, replied, while noticing Bam was now further down the path trying to keep from laughing, "I'll be okay. Thank you."
"Okay, again I'm so sorry!" the guy said, who then went on his way.
Bam soon walked up.
"Nice one, Sierra," he laughed, "the key is not to attract too much attention, but you had the right idea. Its just you've got to be sure that your mark is paying attention to where they're going."
"Obviously," Sierra dejectedly replied.
"C'mon," Bam said, "I'll show you some more techniques. You'll soon catch on."
Sierra nodded. She now realized that gracefully bumping into people was not as easy as it appeared.
To be Continued--