Letting Life Lead
“Come on, Cecily.” A balding man patted a lawn chair. “Not ideal, but we’ll adapt.”
A woman leaned against a rusted, blue hatchback after pulling her cardigan tighter. “Whatever you say Joe. The parking garage is a step up.”
She shuffled her feet and plunked herself in the haphazard semicircle. The meeting of the Sticky Fingers Club was in order. They hated it when she called it that. No one had a sense of humor anymore.
Cecily twirled a lock of her graying brown hair. The fancy professor, Dr. Ronda, perched her wool-clad behind on the edge of a dusty folding chair. Cecily noted how Ronda’s eyes flitted to the bedazzled eyeglass case perched on Gina’s purse. Gina was four feet tall and enjoyed a rousing game of turkey-toss. Steal from Peter and frame Paul. It made for lively office drama.
But the doctor. She was another sort.
Last week, Cecily had tempted and tested the doctor’s mettle with a deliberate bauble drop at the snack table between the hairy coffee and petrified donuts. It hadn’t taken long. The bounce in Ronda’s step and her too-wide smile while drinking tar black coffee was all the proof Cecily needed. She wondered if the doctor had been bold enough to keep it in her bag or pocket. The doctor’s fingers twitched and she tugged at her hair.
“So does anyone have anything they’d like to share?” Joe said.
Ronda left her seat after thirty minutes and excused herself to the vending machines at the far end of the parking garage. Cecily slunk away. No one much cared for her company so she wouldn’t be missed.
“I knew you were a magpie.”
Ronda whipped her head around and hid her hands in her pockets. “Excuse me?”
“You like all that glitters right?” Cecily leaned against the machine after Ronda tried to stuff a crumpled dollar in. The slot whirred and spit it back out.
Ronda smoothed her hair and concentrated on straightening the bill. “We’ve all confessed our proclivities.”
“You weren’t here that week.”
“I’m here every week.” Cecily pulled a modified tape measure from her pocket, bent down, and extracted a soda. It fell with a satisfying thunk. She plucked the bill from Ronda’s fingers and tucked it into a seam split at the back of the old machine. “Here.”
“You are so…”
“Weird? That’s fair. I’m a crow, see? I prefer the give and take game. All the rush without the guilt.”
Ronda cracked the soda and sipped. Her brow furrowed. “We should get back.”
Cecily read Ronda’s stress wrinkles. “This isn’t Joe’s group you know. He’s a damn peacock. The regular guy got hit by a car and shattered his leg. He’ll be back eventually.”
“What’s with you and birds?”
“We all got our weird. Like you and the pockets.” Cecily pointed to the purse with the extra stashing spaces, the skirt, and she’d caught a flash of the inside of Ronda’s blazer which normally didn’t come with inside pockets — much less four on each side. “Seriously, do you them in your shoes?”
Ronda’s eyes widened and Cecily laughed. “You do!”
The women laughed together.
“Joe is a prick, but…I need this you know? It’s getting out of hand.”
“You look like you can afford more posh accommodations.”
Ronda shrugged. “I’m not keen on the paper trails or fights with insurance operators. What about you?”
“Been scoping for a…”
“I swear, if you use another bird metaphor I’ll dump this Tab down your bra.”
“Fair.” Cecily smirked. “I’m looking for someone whose got the touch with locks.”
“I thought you weren’t into thieving?”
“I’m also into Trash Reclamation.”
“Dumpster diving you mean.”
“Some people go to yard sales, I like the back alley of stores.”
“So what do you need me for?”
Cecily tilted her head close to Rhonda’s ear and whispered. “Who said I needed you?”
“I’ve got the touch, as you say.”
“Well, see, good citizens don’t gripe if they put their discards on the curb and you come and take it away. Stores put security on trash and gate off dumpsters full of perfectly good stuff.”
“It’s easier with a partner. Liberate and give to the needy. It’s not stealing. Just a wee bit of trespassing.”
Ronda pivoted to walk away, paused and fondled the bauble Cecily knew she had.
“I know your thinking it. Just say it…”
“Not interested in being…Robin hood.”
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