20:30 Friday 30th September 2005, Maya
Pulling a rabbit out of the hat isn’t as easy as it appears, trust me. First you have to find the right kind of hat. Rabbits are reasonably interchangeable, and so it is with marks. Anyone can be conned, but the scenario has to be just right. Finding the right hook, is the make or break point. As with any performance, the trick is in the preparation.
Sometimes the magician has to take a leap and learn to play with the big boys, the heavy weights to ever be taken seriously. Problem is, you never know if you’re punching above your weight until you’re crushed. The next client was a piece of work – a newspaper editor who was notorious amongst the industry for hacking personal e-mail accounts and mobile phones to eavesdrop of conversations. Having evaded numerous law suits for such hacking activities she seemed like the perfect mark. Problem was, if we got caught our life as con artists would be over. When conning a mark, anonymity is your best friend and if our pictures ended up on the front page of her paper we could wave goodbye to this life. As I finished the pitch, I could see the general lack of confidence in the plan.
‘Charlie O’Rooke? You’re kidding right?’ Matt asked staring at the picture that had remained on the projector, ‘If our pictures end up in the Daily News we’re done for.’
‘You know it’s not like me to agree with Jimmy Cricket over here,’ Riley answered gesturing toward Matt, ’but selling her a story that the Royal Family are impostors. Seriously? Haven’t the conspiracy theorists flogged that tale enough? Besides she’s one smart bitch, whose in with the politicians, really think she’ll jeopardise her golden girl position?’
‘I think greed is a powerful motivator, of which she has bucket loads. I don’t see why she wouldn’t go for the scoop of the century. Besides, it’s just a rough plan at the moment, obviously it needs polishing up,’ I defensively answered.
‘Perhaps Maya just needs time to iron out the creases. The mark, Charlie O’Rooke, is undoubtedly a challenge,’ Walter soothingly spoke. ‘Conning your average Joe Bloggs out of his only tuppence is easy work, which even the average street crook can do. Conning a couple of hundred thousand from a greedy and corrupt editor, now that’s hard work.’
‘Dimples, usually you can sell me anything,’ Riley paused staring at me, ‘but it feels like you’re selling me a seat in the slammer next to big brother and that’s just not happening. Besides I’m just too pretty for jail, I’d never get any sleep.’
As always, Riley had managed to diffuse the tension. That didn’t help with the plan, it just left me back at the drawing board. The con would have to break from our usual pattern of roping the mark to the inside man if we had any chance of conning her.
‘Walter, didn’t you say you had a mark? Just thinking, this place isn’t cheap and we’ll need rent soon,’ Matt pragmatically said.
‘I have been befriending a mark, Albert Smithe, who I met a few weeks ago. He’s a frequent attender at the gentleman’s club, whose earned himself quite a reputation. Recently left his employment at South West Rail with a million pound settlement and a golden handshake, after steadily increasing train fares, avoiding repair works and having mishandled company finances has lost thousands of workers pension schemes. Not that it bothers him, he feels the public, or ‘plebs’ as he calls them, deserve everything they get’ Walter said despisingly.
‘Sounds like he’s a lovely old chap,’ I sarcastically commented, ‘so what’s our in?’
‘Well he has two dirty little secrets he’s managed to keep out of the press. Prostitutes..’
‘Looks like you’re up, dimples. At least we don’t have to argue about whose going to play the inside, although I might come along to watch,’ Riley teased, sitting forward.
‘No, not another prostitute picture scam, where we’re threatening to tell the wife,’ I protested.
‘Don’t worry dear, it was actually his second vice that caught my attention. He has a hankering for the gee-gees. Horses, only problem for him is he doesn’t have much talent in predicting the winners’ Walter smirked, turning to look toward Matt.
‘Before you guys start pitching ideas, I should say that predicting the winner takes months of research and mathematical modelling of over 80 variables. I haven’t been keeping tabs on the races recently, given that bookies shut their doors if they just see me walking past,’ Matt pre-emtively said, ‘I have no better a chance of predicting the winner at the moment than the next person.’
’Well there’s nothing like the golden oldies. We could work the wire?’ Riley suggested.
‘The wire?’ I asked, ‘only problem nobody really relies on telegrams anymore to get the results across the country, well not since the advent of TV. Wire would only work if we could show we knew the results before they were broadcast.’
‘The principle still holds – no-one watches the races live. We just use video link instead of telegram,’ Riley reasoned.
‘I suppose,’ I answered. The wire is not a con that I had worked before, although The Sting did have a certain appeal (other than Paul Newman). ‘It’s doable, but it’ll need work. Big store?’
‘Walter, shall we reel him in?’ I asked.
‘Of course dear. He’s ready to go,’ Walter paused, ‘Monday mornings he is usually at the gentleman’s club. We can rope him in there.’