Picking pockets on the street is different than it is with a specific mark. On the street, you look for what’s convenient, for where you can get the easy bucks without risk of bringing heat down on you. It’s not about size or smarts, but about where their minds are. You want people that look busy, are preoccupied. Could be they’re having a conversation, reading the paper, or they’re just staring at the same three feet of pavement in front of them. Those are the ones that won’t realize they’ve been lifted until you’re six blocks away.
Specific marks, though, people with something of value that you need for other reasons, those are dangerous. The specific lift is something of value beyond money. A piece of jewelry, keys to special doors, even notebooks socked full of information. People have a way of touching them through their clothing.
Curt Spencer was such a man. He kept the first two fingers of his right hand on the chain to the watch in his vest pocket. He lifted a whiskey sour with his left hand, but that right never stopped fiddling with the chain.
Eva had gone in ten minutes before me, and chatted up two men simultaneously at one end of the bar. She even spared looks for Curt. He noticed, smiling into his drink. But the only time he stopped fiddling with the chain was when he lifted the watch out to check the time.
I slid into the barstool next to him on his right side, out of the sightline to Eva, and ordered myself a gin and tonic, extra tonic. Never drink more than a sip when you’re lifting. Booze gets into the fingers awful damn quick.
I watched him as I sucked an ice cube from my drink. Sucking ice was a good way to avoid taking a drink while making the drink go down. Curt fell into a pattern of checking his watch almost every five minutes, and immediately after checking the time, he didn’t need to fiddle much with the chain.
I continued to nurse ice out of my G and T as I slipped my right hand into my jacket to get my palm cutter. The band kept it tight on my palm so I could lift the watch chain, cut it, and take the watch with one hand.
I caught Eva’s eye and adjusted my hat with three fingers on the brim, the signal for her to set up her distraction. Two minutes later, Curt checked the time, and I adjusted my hat with two fingers. Had I done it with only thumb and forefinger, we would have skipped out.
Eva gave a slight yelp, then turned to one of the men she had been chatting up, tossed her drink in his face and followed it up with a strong slap. Before the man could react she turned to the other and said in a voice that carried down the bar, “He fondled me!”
The distraction caught Curt’s attention, and I made a move, getting fingers on the chain and slipping it into the cutter’s mouth. I gave a quick squeeze, cutting a link in half. Before I could take the watch, Curt stood up and went towards Eva.
It seemed that the man she had turned to for help didn’t think her plight all that big a deal, but Curt adjusted his hat, using his right hand, and strode over there full of chivalrous indignity.
Eva became aware of Curt moving as the man she slapped gripped her wrist. I pinched the bridge of my nose and shook my head, telling her I didn’t get the watch. I moved toward the exit; I didn’t worry about Eva with the two men, despite how they grinned drunkenly at her. She’ll skin them alive if they push her. She stomped on the man’s foot with her high heel, which made the man release her. She broke away and ran toward Curt, bumping into him.
Curt played the chivalrous hero, asking her if she was okay to which she gave breathy sighs and assurances while Curt stared down the two men. The first limped on one foot while the other slapped the bar in laughter. At least they’re not going to start a fight over it.
Satisfied, Curt nodded and let Eva on her way. I ducked out ahead of Eva and brought the car around to pick her up. As soon as we were off, she dangled the watch at me.
“Never send a man to do a woman’s job,” she grinned.