Frank finished off his coffee and stood up. “Come on junior, your educations starts now.” He left the café without a look back and after a slight hesitation Alvin trotted after him. His adrenalin was running. The future was looking bright. Frank led him to the local convenience store and stopped outside. “Now just watch carefully and don’t say a word.”
They went inside and Frank reached into his pocket. When he brought it out he had a twenty-dollar bill. He waited until the owner was busy with a customer then hurried over the to counter and tipped his hat to woman being waited on.
“Good day madam, I’m in a real hurry, got a cab waiting, do you mind?”
Without waiting for her to respond he turned to the owner waving the twenty. “My good man, a pack of Marlboros please.” As the owner handed him the cigarettes he locked eyes with him.
“Say don’t I know you? You got a brother named Joe?”
The owner shook his head as he put the bill in the register and handed back a ten and a five. “Nope.”
“Oh, my mistake then. Thanks.”
He grabbed Alvin by the arm as he headed for the door. Once outside he headed around the corner and pulled Alvin up short. He handed him the $15. “Here’s your first taste kid.”
“Um…I don’t get it. What just happened?”
“I showed him a twenty and put it on the counter and when he turned to get the cigarettes I clawed it back and slipped a one in it’s place. Then I kept him distracted while he made change. Takes some practice with the hand movements and the patter but you get the idea.”
“That’s so cool Frank. So what now?”
“So now we go to your bank and you get me the bond. Then you go home and pack up whatever you need and go to the bus station. Get a ticket for Allensville. I’ll meet you there tonight.”
“Sounds good. Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
They walked to the bank and Frank waited outside. When Alvin came out he handed over the money. Frank grinned and shook his head.
“Okay kid, you’re on your way. I’ll check the bus schedule when I get back to the carnival and pick you up at the station. Only bring what you can’t bear leaving behind, you hear?”
They shook hands and parted ways and Alvin headed home. He was dreading having to deal with his old man but Dad was passed out on the sofa. He shook his head and started packing. He took one last look around on his way to the door. Fuck it, he thought. He went over to his father and fished out the old man’s favourite silver lighter and shoved it in his pocket.
He bought his ticket and while he waited for the bus he dreamed of the great times he’d have in his new life. He was going to fleece the suckers and that was a fact. He boarded the bus and fell asleep until they pulled into Allensville.
Getting off he looked around and grinned. Yep, the place was full of hayseeds just waiting to be parted from their money. He looked at his watch and sat down to wait for Frank. Half and hour passed, then an hour and he began to get restless. At last he walked over to the counter.
“Excuse me mister, can you tell me where the carnival is?”
“Carnival? Son, there ain’t been a carnival in Allensville in longer than I can remember.”
As the weight of it hit him Alvin grabbed the counter to steady himself.
“Uh, could you tell me when the next bus back to Morris Town is, Mister?”