Aesthesia: Chapter 2 (1)

 07:13 Thursday 29th September 2005, Maya

‘Admire the diamond that can bear the hits of a hammer’

Kabir

            Magic is all around us. We choose not to see it. It complicates what is solid, what we know with absolute certainty. Magic and illusion are what I build my life on, sleight of the hand and a trick on the mind. Humour me – pick a card, any card.

My mum had never approved of my tricks, telling me more than once aisa jadoo mara hai (this magic is bad). Maybe she’d seen it in me, my talent for deception.

‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you,’ I bashfully said to the middle-aged man, as I brushed passed him on the busy street.

‘Watch where you’re sodding going,’ he barked, speedily walking off.

Something tells me you missed the trick. Abracadabra and now you see it – I have his wallet, keys and watch. I’m still working on my powers of telekinesis.

For my next trick, I’ll be getting £65,000 by selling nothing for something.

‘Where have you been,’ Matt asked as I approached the dilapidated, council owned house. ‘Cutting it a bit fine aren’t you. Do you have the keys?’ he asked gesturing at the locked front door.

‘Keys? Seriously? You never need keys,’ I replied, while picking the lock. ‘Yee have little faith,’ I glanced at Matt before swinging the door open.

‘Is that what we’re gonna be telling the mark?’

‘Client, I prefer when we call them clients – after all he’s paying for a front row seat. And no, here are his keys. Catch,’ I said tossing the keys towards Matt.

‘I take it these aren’t the keys to the front door. Won’t he get a little suspicious when his keys don’t work?’ Matt asked, trying to cover all the angles.

‘Will you please chill. By the time he checks the keys we’ll be long gone. Worst case scenario, if he checks while we’re still here, I’ll explain that I must’ve picked up the wrong keys from the office,’ I appeased Matt, although he didn’t look happy.

‘You’re getting sloppy,’ he answered.

We did a quick check of the house, cleaned up a bit making it look presentable. We needed this sale and couldn’t afford to lose it over some bloody detail. Todays trick is simple enough – we’re ‘selling’ this two-bedroomed council owned house to my client, Mr Gill. Only thing is, after he’s paid us, the house will still belong to the council.

A life lesson I’ve picked up along the way is to respect karma, as she can be a bitch. That’s why my clients are carefully selected, take Mr Gill for example – he’s hardly a moral specimen of the human race. Mr Gill is no stranger to fraud, working as a psychic surgeon preying on desperate infirm victims, to whom he promises a miraculous non-existent cure. He only accepts cash payment from his dying victims – his profits aren’t declared (avoiding tax and litigation from distraught relatives). This leaves him with the small problem of laundering money. Riley reeled him in a few weeks – Riley was doing his usual hotshot rich boy routine and recommended property to help with the laundering issue, after which he introduced him to our bogus company.

A few minutes past eight there was a firm knock on the door. It’s show time. I opened the door to the balding Mr Gill and his shorter stockier Indian friend. The deal was easy enough – the clients predictably bartered five grand off the asking price, after which they happily paid me £65,000 in cash. The deal was completed with the signing of contracts (that may as well have been written on toilet paper) and handing over the keys. £65,078.22 – not bad for a few hours work. Who said magic wasn’t a profitable business?

We left the house and made our way back to our hotel, which was a short train ride away. Leaving the train after the hour and nineteen minute journey, I walked through the main concourse of the train station immersed in the intoxicating smell of caramelised sugar and fresh croissants, only to be greeted by the rough and ready odour of the over flowing smog filled city that carried the underlying sweat of stale oil. I continued out of the station car park onto the busy street paved with an odd collection of shops, at the bottom of which stood one of the best hotels in the city.

The impressive hotel foyer contained the usual suspects – the high-flyers of the city with the small collection of attractive women who wanted to shortcut their way up the ranks of society. At the front desk was a grey haired man wearing more gold than the local mob boss, exuding his frustration onto the cowering receptionist having unsurprisingly not had any luck overnight.

‘Look love, I think I know which films I’ve watched and the filth listed here really ain’t to my taste! I don’t appreciate being billed for items that I’ve not had!’ he bawled spraying her with a thin film of saliva.

‘Y-y-yes Mr Guiz,’ she replied with more grace than I’d have mustered, ‘but the computer logs everything and says that Busty Ladi….’

Debbie, the overly polite receptionist, was duly interrupted by the manager who agreed to deduct any contentious items. This was an opportunity too good to miss.

‘Matt why don’t I meet you upstairs?’ I said, passing the briefcase to him.

‘Seriously, not conned enough money for one morning?’ Matt asked sarcastically.

‘We’ll need expenses for our next con. Money’s like water, you know how quickly it goes.’

I briefly took a seat in the foyer next to the front desk while getting out my mobile, watching Mr Guiz mock the receptionist.

‘Chop chop drone, come on finish the fucking payment! How flippin’ long does it take?’ Mr Guiz taunted the receptionist as soon as the manager was out of earshot, ‘you know what drone I’m going to grab a coffee from the restaurant and pray that by some miracle you have finished taking my payment by the time I get back.’

A few moments later, I entered the lift and called the front desk.

‘Hello, could I please speak to a Deborah Lewis please,’ I asked in a southern accent.

‘Speaking,’ replied the receptionist.

‘Hello this is Lloyds credit card services. You’re just taking a card payment with a Lloyds Mastercard.’

‘Is there a problem?’ she asked mildly concerned.

‘Not at all, we’re just running extra security checks given the recent rise in credit card fraud,’ I replied, ‘Could I please speak to Mr Guiz?’

‘He’s just left unfortunately, but should return in a few minutes,’ she replied with an expected hint of consternation.

‘Not to worry, I will just need you to confirm the card details please.’

By the time I had arrived at the suite I had a credit card number, expiry and start dates and the card security code for a card I was certain had a substantial limit, and would provide expenses for our next con.

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Filed under Fiction, Novel, The Book: Aesthesia

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