Picking A Pro


lola_icon.gif keagan_icon.gif

Scene Title Picking A Pro
Synopsis Keagan meets Lola, and after she realizes he's a thief, she tries to gauge his capabilities.
Date December 26, 2010.

Upper West Side

The Upper West Side is primarily a residential and shopping area, and not much about that has changed since the bomb. Despite bordering the region of Midtown that was torn asunder by the blast, the Upper West Side managed to survive the fires that raged out of control in the days following the destruction. It was one of the first areas hit with the massive relief effort. While the areas that did burn have yet to be recovered, that region of the upper west side has been cordoned off by large concrete barricades and Homeland Security roadblocks, preventing most through-traffic into ground zero and the affected area. Beyond that border zone, much of the charm of this upper-class neighborhood has not been lost.

The Upper West Side has the reputation of being home to New York City's liberal cultural and artistic workers, in contrast to the Upper East Side, which is perceived to be traditionally home to more affluent conservative commercial and business types. The neighborhood is decidedly upscale with the median household above the Manhattan average before the bomb, and much of that status-quo maintained by the money pumped into the neighborhood from the reconstruction effort. As one of the first neighborhoods to have electricity and water restored, this area saw a massive temporary influx of transients and refugees from the destroyed areas of the city, most of which moved on as more and more of New York was brought back to life.

Famous sites of the upper west side still remain active today, with Broadway Avenue cutting through the center of the borough. But the reminder of what happened to this city is decidedly visible on the south end of Broadway, where the high concrete barricades rise up one story from the ground, and the jagged, broken skyline of Midtown refuses to remain hidden.

Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the city, all the customers were rushing, for pickpockets it was pretty! The midafternoon rush of post-Christmas day gift cards has hit in full swing in midtown. The upscale citizens laughing with one another as they laughingly bounce around to spend their gifts, or to return things that didn't quite meet expectations.
For one of the city's children, Keagan, it has been a day of excitement too. He's like a kid in a candy store. Wait…he really was a kid in a candy store! He has a series of candy bags over his right arm, and a gummi snake hanging from his mouth. The long gummi creature hangs down, reaching almost to his knees as he chews on it and makes his way through the bustling people. Sugar. The most important ingredient for a happy day after Christmas. His brown eyes bounce around, and his whole body bounces on his heels as he pulls the next portion of the snake into his mouth, shortening its length by a couple of inches as he chews.

Lola wouldn't be out right now if she had a choice. She ended up curling up in some bar booth, and the owner missed her at last call. She was awoken later on and bustled out. Now she has a killer hangover, and she's missing her antlers, and she has Diogenes' phone number. It took some thinking to remember what passed between her and Digoenes, mostly the fact that the man was alive! Still. It wasn't quite what she'd wanted - she'd dreamt a different man had been alive.
So she's nudged and shoved a little against the crowd, one hand held over her forehead. Sunglasses are a necessity. They stop the light, and the light is an evil, evil thing. "Watch it!" she snaps as a tweenager nudges her on her rush past.

Time to spread some Christmas cheer! Keagan spots the woman who looks much less happy than everyone else. He watches for her hand to check for her wallet, which often happens when people are bumped in large crowds. It's not a conscious attention that he gives it, though. He makes his way through the crowd, eager to help boost her day. His left hand reaches up to remove the snake from his mouth, still chewing on the sugary goodness.
"You look like you could use a pick-me up, lady!" he says, his voice a little louder than necessary. He drapes his gummi snake over one arm, and begins to sift through his sack of goodies. "Want some…" he looks for a suitable solution. "Oh, here we go, pixi stix. These are the best thing ever." The young teen holds out an assortment of colors rather quickly, the sugar already pumping through his own vents.

"Cocaine-sugar, no thanks kid. Go on now, get away from'me. Aincha see Ah been gluttonin' on the grownups candy? See, now here, a lesson: don' over eat yer sweetness. Otherwise ya turn out like me." She grumbles, waving a hand in front of her face. "Go on now, doncha have a Mexican nanny or something what's suppsoed ta be watchin' you? Little kids like you get snapped up every day fer black market trade." Well! She's surely very pleasant.

See, and he was trying to be nice. "Yeah, I can see that. Plastered ladies get raped in alleys all the time, too," he answers, a defiant cheeriness in his tone. "Or get their stuff ripped off. Y'know where your money is, or did you already get it lifted?" He lets the pixi stix fall from his hand, and back into his bag. His left hand retrieves the gummi from over his arm, and sticks it back in his mouth.

"Seein' as yer balls ain' even dropped yet, kid, Ah ain' so much worried about that one. Now as fer the second one, if ya were thinkin' bout rippin' off these nice holiday shoppers, well Ah'd say that's fairly un-Christian of ya." Her smiles, however, is very small. Small but mischevious. "Same goes as fer anyone else what thinkin' a doin' that. Which begs the question - where'd ya go gettin' all the money fer them candies?" She looks over him, one eyebrow piqued.

The brown-haired boy rolls his eyes and yanks the snake back out. "I didn't say I was going to do that," Keagan answers. "I said that's what happens to ladies that wander around on the streets in your condition." He glances at his bag. "I got Christmas money," he says. "Same reason everybody else is out here knocking themselves out. Do you think that we'll ever invent teleporters?" he asks. How that connects to the rest of the conversation? Only the dark recesses of Keagan's ADHD mind can answer that.

Lola grumbles, leaning back against the wall. She takes out a cigarette and lights it with a match. God, she misses Kain's lighter. It was sweet and it was light and the glit of silver on it made her smile. Oh well, Tess deserves it far more than Lola does. Lola stole it; Tess earned it. "We don' need ta invent teleporters, darlin. They's born in case ya didn' know." She shakes the match out after the fag is lit, watching the kid as she exhales. "So what is it you want, kid?"

"Yeah, but what about the rest of us? I'm trying to do my good deed for the day," Keagan answers, changing gears back to her question almost without a breath. "Helping drunks get home is one of my hobbies. And smoking is bad for you, causes cancer." He shoves the rest of the snake into his bag, and pulls out one of the pixi stix. "Sure you don't want one? They'll make you cool like me." He bites off the top, and then tries to pour the sugar into his mouth. Of course, because h got the end wet with his mouth, it is only moderately successful.

"Yeah?" Lola asks, narrowing her eyes at him behind her sunglasses. "An mouthin' off ta strangers causes bullets in your head, kid. Especially if ya go talkin' bout thievin' an Evos in the same breath. Doncha know how crazy fucked up this city is, or are ya new here?" She exhales smoke again, thoughtfully. "Ta listen to ya, yer a good ol boy from good ol Iaway." Iowa. "Or as good as."

"Oh, I know!" Keagan answers. "I was in the bomb. Got buried in my school." He finishes the pixi stix, and tosses the wrapper on the ground. "I just don't let it get me down. What do you think I should do, mope around drunk?" Yeah, he's talking about you. "Sides, don't think the Evos will blow us all up faster than we would blow ourselves up anyway, might as well enjoy is while it lasts! ~Always look on the bright side of life!~" Yes, he's singing, and he does a little dance to go with it. Too much sugar for this one, and at the end of the dance, he reaches out to clap a hand on Lola's shoulder.

Lola is a paranoid killer. That more or less sums her up, and she's quick to move with her stronger hand to intercept the boy's hand and shove his body back away from her. "Keep yer spit-licked sugar fingers off a me ya brat. Now go on home to er mother, or whoever it is that'll get the fortune a bouncin' you around off the walls once all that sweetness hits yer blood stream."

Keagan is much weaker than the assassain, and his hand is easily caught and he is knocked back. His other hand flies is knocked forward from the impact, and he tries to reach the cigarettes through his momentum, even though that hand is otherwise occupied with the bag of goodies. After all, it makes that hand much less suspect, and he hopes less of a focus. If he manages it, the box is tucked down into the bag of candy and out of sight, a rather deft maneuver. "Whoa!" the teen contests. "Somebody forgot their Christmas cheer! Jeez lady, we gotta get some Ghosts of Christmas to come pay you a visit or something. You're like Mr. Scrooge himself!" He really did come up to be nice initially, but now he's annoyed. Apparently, though, he didn't spot the guns.

Lola smirks a little, lifting her cigarette to her lips and puffing again. "Who's the scrooge here? Ah didn' go stealin' yer candy, an you went an pinched mah smokes." She holds out her hand, expectantly. Yes, little boy, you've been caught with your hand in the cookie jar. But she doesn't seem mad - in fact, she seems much less mad than before. Almost amused, and intrigued. "Come on, hand 'em over, Twist."

"To be fair," Keagan answers. "Oliver wasn't a very good pickpocket," he tells Lola. "He was supposed to be the pure-hearted character, like in all Dickens' books. I'm more like Dodger." He may be caught, but he doesn't look worried. He's been caught before. He holds his hands out, and opens his coat, revealing the T-shirt that hangs from his thin body. "Search me," he offers. he pulls his pockets inside out, bag still hanging from his right wrist, and then jostles the candy bag, hoping to shift the cigarette carton to the bottom, and holds it open. She'll of course have to lean forward to see that the cigarettes are in it. The trick didn't work, they're still sitting at the top of the pile of candy.

Lola reaches forward and snipes the cigarettes out of the bag. "Smarmy bastard," Lola mutters, tucking them back in their pockets. She isn't so mean now, more amused. Even kind, if one dared go that far and hadn't been here for the rest of the scene. "Gimme yer hand, sugar," she says, and reaches out to take one of the upturned hands before Keagan can argue. "Now, two things. One, ya goin' fer someone's pocket, pull yer thumb across yer palm. When ya get bigger ye'll have ta do the same with yer pinky. Don' grab with yer thumb, grab with yer forefinger and middle finger so ya kin get in an out quicker. Then pull it up inta yer palm where yer thumb's waitin' ta hold it." She demonstrates on his hand. "An number two, avoid bumpin' people. full-on. As little phsyical contact as possible. Otherwise ya might get their alarm-bells a singin'. Also, ya bump inta someone outright, they're libel ta stop and apologize or yell or whatever, makin' yer getaway harder."

Keagan smirks. "I did use my forefinger and middle finger," he answers. "That's rookie stuff. I'm just workin' on my right hand grab a little," he says. It might be noticable that he's been doing most things with his left while the right hand had been occupied with a bag of candy, indicating his southpaw tendencies. "You're the one that bumped me, I just decided to take advantage of it." He doesn't have a wallet of his own to be concerned about for retaliation, and even if he did…well, he wouldn't have any credit cards or Driver's license to worry about anyway.
"You lift?" he asks. "That why you were actin' all lame duck?" He gestures at her, the previous motions coming to mind. "You're one of the actor types. Like to lull people into a false sense of security."

"Sugar, if ya feel at all secure around me, that's yer malfunction. Ain' a person alive what meets me an thinks 'secure'. An Ah did bump ya first, but ya didn' grab fer mah smokes until after ya reached yer arm out ta touch me. For a normal person, sure, makin' them make the move is smart nuff. Real smart considerin' you ain' but a sprout. But as little contact as possible, so they might never see your face or nothin'. Cleanest way when yer just startin' out an don' want a record. If ah walked away an found somethin' missin, first thing Ah'd do is tell the cops 'bout some little kid botherin' me. S'how ya get caught." She smirks a bit, flicking the cigarette butt away. "Ah wouldn' say Ah 'lift' much more darlin. But mah daddy taught me, way back in the day. Still manage ta find a use fer it when Ah'm workin' or when Ah'm bored."

Keagan pulls the snake back out. "See, best grab I ever had was with contact," he answers. "And done it more than once, it worked so well. Stole a guy's coat right off his back. Made him think I was going for his wallet. Then tucked around like this," he makes the motion repeat, showing a back to back stance, "While my hand was in his pocket, he went to grab it. Then his other hand was free, I grabbed the shoulder of his coat. Pulled back, he's worried about his wallet, doesn't even notice. I tear free, and off with his coat, and he's thinkin' he just stopped me, because I didn't get his wallet." Obviously very proud of that one. He beams like the sun at the thought. "Sure you don't want a pixi stick?"

"Ah'm sure, quit askin'. Now flash is all well an good, an yer a man so Ah kin see ya got a taste fer it in spades. Well, boy Ah oughta say. Best lifts Ah ever done are the ones off folks with keycard access ta real expensive things, the sort a folks that's meant ta be wise about all that but they never even knew Ah was there. Course that was in the old days, but," Lola heaves a soft sigh, remembering. Her and her daddy did pull some big jobs, back in the day. "And Ah'll tell ya a secret - Ah'm workin' on a way ta get folks' wallets without ever touchin' 'em."

Keagan knits his brow. "What, you just get'm to give them to you?" he asks. "That's not the same, that's a con. Not nearly as much fun. I don't really care what I get…" he admits. "I just like the thrill." Keagan shrugs. "Why am I telling you this stuff? You're a bad influence on me." He takes another bite out of his gummi snake, it's starting to get short.

"The thrill fer me's gettin' better. Ah'm a shit awful con, darlin, Ah wouldn' try ta con nobody if Ah could get away with mah life. No, Ah ain' connin, Ah ain' sayin' a word. Just make a lift, 'cept without ever touchin' 'em or a wallet but ya get the goods inside. Ain' no Evo neither, not that way." She smirks a bit. "Wouldn' you just love to know how that's done." It's not a question. "An Ah ain' a bad influence on ya. Quite the opposite - thieves have as much a place in the economy as anythin' else. An it's all the better fer you if ya learn now how ta be a better one so ya don' get caught. Thieves mean folks need better security. More technology, more cops. Means more American workers, more American innovation an all that shit."

"See!" Keagan answers, feeling his bad influence comment is justified. "Okay, tell me how it's done," he surrenders, as if he was giving her the pleasure of telling him rather than he being so desperate that he must have it. "And you promise this isn't a silly Evo trick. Because that don't count." He finishes off the rest of the snake, and starts to dig in the bag, looking for something else to add to the rush.

"No. Not till it's ready, Ah ain' givin' nothin' away. But it ain' no silly Evo trick. That'd be cheatin'. I agree." She smirks, lifting her sunglasses off her face finally. She doesn't flinch in the light - the fun with this little brat outweights her hangover. For now. There ain' nothin' wrong with thievin' so long as you don' get caught. And who taught you, anyway? Your folks?"

"I taught me," Keagan answers. "Well, mostly. Got started by a babysitter when I was little, but didn't teach me anything, just got me to start doing it." He fishes out a lollipop, and pulls the wrapper off ot it. After sticking it in his mouth, he holds it to one side, and completes. "You know what's the best? Those magician books. Teach you all kinds of stuff you can use so you can even lift stuff when people are watching you."

"Ah'm sure some a them skills are universal," Lola says, contemplating it. "Me, Ah started out runnin' the streets with mah daddy. The old way, the way tons a folks like me got started fer hundreds a years afore me. Not like these days, where the internet teaches ya everythin'. Nope." She sighs, contemplating the days of old. And then she motions to the street. "Do it again," she says, simply.

Keagan looks a smidge uncomfortable at the request to perform. "Uh…" he looks at the bustling people. "Do what again?" he asks, as if he didn't know. He reaches up and bites the rest of the lollipop off of the stick, pulling it out and tossing the remains back into the bag. Crunch crunch.

Lola looks at him a little more directly now. "Do it again," she repeats. "Go on, sugar. Ah ain' tryin' ta put ya up ta somethin' ya don' do willinly. Ah wanna see how ya work is all. Call it a professional courteys or whatever ya like." She smirks, reaching into her pocket for another cigarette.

Keagan's eyes turn back at the crowd. He takes a deep breath, and lets out a sigh. He walks out into the crowd, waiting for someone to bump into someone. Wallet spotted. He walks up and pulls it from the back pocket of a rather wealthy looking man, and flips it around to the back of his own jeans. He pulls a bag of jelly beans out, and opens it and munches on a few, not bothering to leave for a moment, and then heads back toward Lola. "So…" he says as he holds the jelly bellies out to her as an offer. "What, you trying to figure out if I'm good enough for your attention or some nonsense like that?"

"Nah, Ah'm just bored." Lola smirks a bit. "Cause yer young ya got somethin' goin' for ya, you can pull stuff like that. It's good - real good. Daddy used ta run me like that. Ain' a damn thing wrong with it. But yer gettin' up there in years, yer gonna have ta start developin' some new techniques when yer a big enough boy ta be considered a man and thereby somewhat of a threat, or someone there ain' nothin' wrong with sluggin' if yer caught. But ya ain' bad, sugar. Lotta talent." She watches him, careful. "Could be better, though."

"I been hit before," Keagan answers, "Not trying to get better, though," he says. "I really wanna quit. It's just hard." He shrugs. "My aunt sends me to therapy and all that. Try to get me something to replace the fix. They say I got kleptomania." He takes a few more jelly bellies.

Lola shrugs. "Well it'd be a shame. Ya are good at it. Be like one a them famous musicians bein' a lawyer cause his family wanted. But it takes a lotta spirit, too, an Ah reckon that ain' a gift everybody's blessed with. Tell you what - come find me 'round here in a week or two if yer curious bout how Ah kin pinch without touchin. If ya really wanna know. If ya really just wanna stop…well there's nothin' sayin' ya gotta show up at all."

Keagan rolls his eyes. "Yeah, like the movies, I got it," he answers Lola. "Don't even know your name," he says. "You like to be all mysterious or that kind of thing?" he asks. Twitch. Sugar overload. "Hey, have you seen the new Narnia movie?" Completely on the same topic. Promise.

"No. And no. Ah don' like ta be mysterious an Ah ain' seen no new movies." Not recently, anyway. "Ya kin call me Sara. An Ah kin point out that Ah don' even know yer name, so maybe yer tryin' ta be all mysterious too, ever think a that? Hmm?" She grins a bit, smoking again.

"Okay Sara," he says. "Maybe like bein' mysterious," Keagan answers with a boyish smile, not giving his name. "After all, dunno if you might wanna rat me out ot my aunt." The empty bag that used to contain the jelly bellies is stuffed back into the larger bag. "I really feel the need to go running or something," he tells 'Sara'. "So…maybe I'll see you later."

"Run off then, twist." She says, smirking wildly again. "Run home to Auntie Em, or however that all works. God knows ya got enough sugar in ya ta basically fly there, sure she'll love havin' you home all day this evenin'." Yeah, that kid is going to be off the walls. She gestures with her head oncem ore. "Go on, then."

And off like a shot he goes! Zipping through the crowd, but then… he stops at the man who he had stolen the wallet from. "Mister!" Think you dropped this!" he announces, giving the wallet over to the previous owner. His eye glances only for a split instant back at Lola, and then hands over the wallet, cash and all. "Okay gotta go!" And he bounces down the road, back to wherever he came from. Look out Yana. He's coming home.

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