Taking Candy From A Baby
He said it’d be easy. Like taking candy from a baby.
We were in a Seven Eleven near Santa Monica and the beach. I was stuffing a Sara Lee cheesecake under my skirt, inside the reliable knapsack of my panties. John spotted me in the oblong mirror and winked. He’d already palmed a Hustler, which took real finesse since the sex mag’s were stacked behind the counter.
We were thirteen and already burnt out on school and stole regularly to offset our boredom.
Joining John at the bus bench, I began panhandling the squares.
“I lost my bus fare, can you spare any change?” My lipgloss and pleated, Catholic school skirt worked wonders on that mean hungry street. I didn’t go to Catholic school but none of those fools knew that. I went to Emerson Junior high, this flesh colored shack, filled with sleazy teachers who were always being hauled off by cops and a riotous bell that rang all the time like someone trying to break in a bank. The principal thought uniforms would bring some swank to the place but all it brought was crazies who honked at our thighs and lots of eyes gawking at kids wearing navy.
My after school routine was always the same. I panhandled before the metro bus came. In twenty minutes I’d rake in three or four bills and then I’d go buy a Blowpop or a cheap pack of gum and take eight or nine bucks worth of stuff.
It was four o’clock and school, that thief of the sun, was finally over for good. I sat down and shared my cheesecake with John who gorged like a pigeon in your trash. His tongue licked the cream off his fingers with speed. I was impressed. I liked his cranberry lips. In two seconds we were kissing like a wild sex scene as cars whizzed past our knees. He had big football arms and a strong Kung Fu grip. I was a homely chick with thick glasses and prairie home braids. I could easily pass for eight.
“Listen,” John said. “I know how to make some money.”
John’s friends snickered in their palms. They were scamming me for something but I didn’t know what so I figured I’d at least listen to their scheme.
“How?” I said licking the cream off my lips.
“I work the ticket line at school. Tomorrow’s the dance. The box will be brimming with cash.”
I was interested. I sat up on the bench.
“We could make a couple of hundred easy,” he said.
I squinted at his face. If he was conning, he was good. His crystal eyes looked ocean blue and serene. He looked like a Catholic school priest.
“Why do you need me?” I asked, nonchalant.
“’Cause, no one suspects a pretty girl.”
One friend held his hand over his mouth trying to stifle a smile.
John kissed me again, “you’re so beautiful,” he said, sucking the side of my neck. His friend almost fell off the bench.
“All you have to do is show up at nine and I’ll give you an envelope of cash.”
So the next day, I wore a stretchy tube top. I saw John at the door and did exactly what we planned. He handed me a wad and told me to meet him out back. I smiled shoving the cash inside my bra, tapping it twice to let him know it was safe.
When I walked out my mom was still at the curb. I told her I was only going to peek in the door. She hadn’t even turned off the car.
The next thing I knew, I was back at the pad, counting fives and tens on my bed.
John waited but I didn’t go to school for a week. I ditched every day and baked out in the sun, buying candy and snow cones at the beach. I came back tanned and relaxed. As soon as I walked in I ran into John.
“The principal caught me,” I said looking down at my feet. “He suspended me for a week.”
A sad covered John’s innocent face. He swallowed the con, hook, line and sinker. I swear he looked just like a baby.