“What?” I ask in surprise. “Are you serious? I thought you said—“
“Calm down, kid. It’s all part of your training. Once we get done here everything goes back to normal. But I can’t really say you’ve had a complete training until you’ve helmed your own swindle.”
“Are you for real?”
“Hey, I’m always for real.”
“This coming from a confidence man…”
“With you, I mean. With you I’m always for real.”
“Okay, so what’s the scam?” I ask, noticing I’ve begun bouncing in anticipation for the fifth time already today.
“I’ll let you decide the specifics. All I’ve done is pick the mark.”
“Okay, what is it.”
“You see up there about halfway down the block, the place with the fancy sign called The Shrouded Arcana?”
“Yeah,” I answer eagerly.
“That’s it. It’s an antique shop which specializes in the weird. I’ll play shill if you need.”
“Wow,” I gasp. “Okay, you’re not going to make this easy for me, are you?”
“Nope,” he laughs. “This is real world stuff here, kid. Gotta get you thinking on your feet.”
“Okay, so, the guy’s probably one of those weirdos who is always looking for some new and weird item, especially one with a unique background.”
“Fair enough guess. I’ve never stepped into the place. Just know about it from reputation.”
“Okay,” I repeat. My tongue rubs against my teeth while thinking about the possible schemes available to pull against a man I have no background on. “Fiddle Game?”
“You think?” Griff bares his teeth in amusement. “What’s your fiddle?”
“Well, a true artist can make anything into a fiddle, right?”
“Rule #55,” Griff concludes. “But that still doesn’t answer my question.”
I look around me, hoping to find anything which might be able to pique the interest of the sucker inside the store. Then a thought hits me and I find it’s now my time to grin at Griff.
“You got it?” he asks.
“Oh yeah,” I giggle. “Fiddle Game.”
“What’s the fiddle?”
“Oh, come on. That’s not fair,” he groans. “You can’t leave your shill hanging like that.”
“A good shill is never left hanging.”
“Rule #56,” Griff says dejectedly. “I’m starting to think it wasn’t that smart of an idea for me to force you to memorize that damn book.”
“I’m finally starting to think it was your best idea yet.”
“Alright, kid. If you think you’ve got this all figured out, why don’t you lead the way.”
“No,” I say firmly, taking charge of the game. “You head in first. It’ll look better. Just make sure to remember you’re the shill once things get started. I’d hate to lose this mark just because you’re too used to running things.”
“Look at you, getting all demanding and whatnot,” he smiles. “Alright, kid. See you inside.” He walks away from me and enters the glass door marking the entrance to The Shrouded Arcana.
I nod at him while thinking through the game, specifically focusing on the mark. It’s a goofy name for an antique shop, right? I’d guess the place is filled with all sorts of things like skulls and talismans and whatever else, you know, all that occult and Wiccan crap people were really into during the 90s. Kinda makes me wonder if my fiddle will even be able to play in this game.
Can’t doubt myself now. I’ve learned everything I’ve needed to learn. Plus, the great thing about the Fiddle Game is that most of the heavy lifting is left up to the shill. I just have to lay the foundation.
Maybe I should have picked something different. A pigeon drop or a pig-in-a-poke? Either of those would definitely work better toward showing Griff that I’m capable of working a scam on my own. I wonder if I could tip him off that I’m changing scams.
No, I set something up, I’ve gotta stick with it. Rule #2: Dedication. I take a look at the clock across the road. It’s been twelve minutes since I sent Griff in. Normally that would be more than enough time to allow between us and not look suspicious. But this isn’t a high-traffic business. If I were to guess, I’d say there could be hours between customers on a normal day.
Then again, waiting out here like this with a dumbfounded look on my face probably isn’t going to help anything either.
I take a deep breath and walk forward.
Here goes nothing.
Go to Chapter Four