[this story is usually satire]  Twilight of a Pickpocket

Last Saturday at the produce stand I ran into Stanley the pickpocket, a legendary figure in his particular demimonde. He looked hale, with rosy red cheeks and a bright smile offsetting the shifty gaze which is characteristic of those who practice his craft.

I was surprised to learn from him that he had decided to retire, ending an illustrious career spanning 30 years, a career which began in Baltimore, continued in Detroit, then in Chicago and finally brought him here to Naptown.

As we stood on East 10th Street watching the usual parade of police cars race down the street, he ruminated on his years in the nimble-fingered trade. His greatest moment, he said, was pickpocketing Joe Namath.

A Robin Hood of sorts, he made it a practice to tithe 10 percent to the poor, he said. He’d seen the inside of a number of jails, but never for more than a few days. All in all, he said, it had been a rewarding career, affording him the freedom and autonomy that come with being one’s own boss.

He advised aspiring young criminals to keep it simple. He pointed out that his activities consisted solely of placing his fingers in another’s pocket and pulling something out — the essence of simplicity.

As I stood there with him on East 10th Street I wondered why Stanley was walking away from it all when he seemed at the height of his pickpocketly powers. He had had much success, he said, and he had gotten all he had ever desired — beautiful women, nice cars, meals at the best restaurants.

He then pulled his hands out from behind his back and showed me the reason behind his retirement: His success had caused affluently fat hands, hands too fat to stick in others’ pockets.

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