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Random Fiction #3 – 112718

The crowded Blue Line platform served as the perfect cover for Crash Simon to make extra money for the holidays. Sliding smoothly between the crowds, nimble fingers at play helping himself to easy pickings amongst the overstuffed arms of holiday shoppers.

If he dared risk a bigger payday, he could punch and run and get away with a few larger parcels, though assault wasn't his cup of tea. Not that day; he was fine with the smaller wallets and cell phones. With a crowd that size, a few minutes of work might yield a few hundred to at least a thousand dollars.

His buddies working the Brown Line had easy marks, what with all the office workers from the Loop making their way home to their condos and townhouses in Lakeview.

Crash started out there when he first moved to Chicago in late 2015. The crush of passengers during rush hour gave him a rush and a way to make a lot of money, but it was too easy for him. There was no sport in picking pockets of the well to do.

He soon moved over to the Blue Line. The random mix of elite office workers and down on their luck homeless riders was more his speed. Everyone was fair game and more often than not, the riders who looked like they couldn't rub two wooden nickels together often had the fattest wallets.

Crash worked the evening rush hour trains for an hour or two each night. He always hopped on first at Clark & Lake, more as a middle finger to the heavy police presence upstairs than anything else. It didn't hurt to also have hundreds of people fighting for every spare inch of the trains in a mad dash to get home.

After a long day of work, most were content to zone out and let their guard down. With bodies smashed against each other, they'd barely raise an eyebrow if they felt a random stranger brush up against them, never noticing his eager fingers making off with their most prized possessions. That is Until they got off to catch the bus or grab a bite to eat and reached for a wallet that wasn't there.

He’d ride to Damen where the crowds started to thin out. Then Crash would follow them along up and down North Avenue for a few blocks, picking off some naive, wide-eyed tourists and bearded hipsters before heading back to the train and starting over in reverse. He'd make his way south on a Loop-bound train and start again.

He always boarded one of the last cars, farthest from the conductor. The people on those either didn't care or know any better. If any of his non-thief friends asked, he'd always say to ride in the first car with the conductor. “Safest spot,” he'd tell them.

The last car was a bit of a gamble since he couldn't guarantee there'd be a good crowd getting off.

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

All rights reserved.

Bryan Goff

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