Wally’s World.

            Oliver Twist doesn’t have a thing on Wally Weathers.  Nobody could pick a pocket quite like him.  He was intelligent, bold, and dashing enough to not draw shady looks from unsuspecting people.  His collective earnings would have shocked just about anyone as he was able to afford a nice one bedroom in the famed Las Vegas.  He was always this way, naturally gifted and justifying it as a way of life to steal from people who do not know the meaning of the word need.  

            It began as a child.  He had a father who was a limo driver for sought after celebrities in the sixties, married to a beautiful cocktail waitress he had grown up with.  It all started when he was eight or nine when Mom was fired. She was kicked out for the next young thing with a little bit of “tighter” everywhere.  His dad, Lenny, was a big hit among the stars that came here.  He had a good personality with a quick wit to match, and he was a good looking fellow.  Most nights he was able to procure autographs from these celebrities, but Sammy who was out of work, would sell them almost immediately. 

            This never seemed to phase Lenny, but he smiled brightly always to little Wally, maintaining this façade.  Sammy only became worse as she couldn’t find work in her aging state.  As Wally himself became older he saw more and more of her borderline insanity.  She would wrap her arms around her husband while at the same time sneaking his wallet away with a sly wink at her son.  Lenny was no idiot, he knew.  He always knew. 

            She became more complex with her ways of snagging dollar bills here and there from him and even took this trade to the street.  She eventually would make her own living around going to the hotspot casinos and acquiring things that were not hers.  Because they could not afford a sitter, Wally was always with his mother while dad was working.  She would have him sit patiently and wait as she flirted and bumped into her newfound customer base.  Once he was old enough, he would be prodded to distract people for her and she would swoop in, unbeknownst to anyone and make off with what she could. 

            This ended a particularly hot March, when Wally was eleven.  Of course, it was the perfect season for rich tourists and luck would have it that Wally was the bait.  He had taken to the ruse of losing his “daddy” and  needing help calling him.  The older the victim, the better in their case.  This time showed the perfect target in an old couple from Sarasota.  They were even wearing matching sweaters tied around the neck.  The take couldn’t have been any easier. 

            The plan was going flawlessly, although a kid that old calling his father daddy seemed a little off.  The couple bit hard as Sammy lie in wait.  They bought into it all and Sammy walked over to the couple and bumped into the grandfather type old man while his wife held Wally’s hand.  Quick and easy as that went, someone spied his mother reach into the old man’s back pocket and snag the leather wallet. 

            “HEY! Stop that lady! She took your wallet!”  A bystander screamed as Sammy tore up the concrete and out of sight.  

            The old lady’s grip was ironclad as Wally attempted to escape.  Soon enough another man had his arms around him and he was caught indefinitely.  The police showed up and soon were taking the crying little kid to the police station.  They asked and asked and all Wally would say was that he did not know the lady.  Eventually he was able to call his father to come collect him.  He wasn’t able to until late because of work, but some of the cops knew him and readily accepted him to pick up his son. 

            Lenny’s story was that Sammy was his ex-wife and she had a multitude of mental instabilities (probably true) and would take the Wally away for days doing God knows what.  Lenny had to deal with actors all the time and apparently it had rubbed off on him.  They released the kid and told him to keep him away from Sammy.  There was no warrant for arrest, but they were under the impression that eventually she would get herself caught. 

            Sammy was waiting when they got home.   A huge argument broke out in the living room and Wally was shooed into his room.  About an hour later Sammy was sobbing as she held Wally one more time before she moved out, and the ex-wife story became true. 

            Long story short, Lenny hit the bottle hard after Sammy was gone.  They had been together since they were kids, and he couldn’t take it.  Years passed in flitting memory, or lack thereof. 

            Wally had to learn how to provide for himself.  High school wasn’t easy in Vegas, but especially not easy for Wally.  He had a brash combination of ADD, the procrastination gene, and the ability to not care one bit about schoolwork.  He would skip class all the time to take his talents to the street. 

             A shadow of his mother’s gift had found its way in him and it grew, turning a natural into a professional in no time at all.  People wondered how he always had cash on him and how he would go to any show he wanted, but his friends never saw him on the strip.  He would slide in just about any situation and come out on top. 

           Wally thought he lost his dad when Sammy left, but when he was sixteen he truly did lose the last piece of his family.  Lenny was on a particularly hard bender, working for a cab company since he was fired for drinking.

           At three in the morning a couple of cops came knocking at the door.  Even before they showed up Wally knew. It was only a matter of time, and as much as he loved his father there was no saving someone that far gone.  The cops showed up awkward and would misstep in every direction, not sure how to go about telling Wally.  They tentatively danced around the issue, but the blunt of it came out to this. 

          It was a late shift and he was passed the point of inebriated.  Drinking until he was blind became a norm for him and this was no exception. He had no passenger in the car at the time and proceeded to wrap his car around a telephone poll, breaking his neck.  From what they could tell, it was instantaneous and there was no pain.  Wally could see the accident happen, wondering in his own head if it wasn’t planned by his father. 

        It took a long while for him to recover.  To say he was numb for a long time would be an understatement. School ceased and it was all he could do to get up and drop the rent money off down the hall.  He didn’t receive any visitors or answer any friends that would call or text him.  Soon though, he started running through the only money his father left for him and decided to honor who his father was, not who he became. 

      He took odd jobs around the city whether they were cleaning hotel rooms, helping off stage with shows, or even working as a bus boy in the Flamingo’s buffet.  That kind of work will wear you out.  It will grind you to the bone when you’re coming off your second shift of the day at three in the morning.  Wally was always tired, and he continued to work himself to keep his father’s apartment, supplementing his dad’s money when he just couldn’t come up with enough.  The landlord, Murray, saw all this and genuinely empathized with Wally and took money off the rent from time to time. 

     As much as the kid appreciated it, he knew he could not keep this up much longer.  He needed a real job.  When he turned eighteen he became a valet for the Bellagio.  This turned to be a turning point for the resourceful teen.  There was a night which turned him.

       Here he was working his ass off and in walked billionaire son Crayton Pritchard.  A tabloid all-star, he was a spoiled little shit with too much money and a bigger ego.  His father owned Pritchard International, a financial assessment firm that had been around since before the Great Depression, which wrecked everyone but his grandfather Lionel Pritchard.  While grandfather and son were known for spending days and days on end without leaving the office, twenty six year old Crayton had never been inside more than five minutes. 

      Slicked back hair, a pair of girls attached at the wallet, and paparazzi buzzing around the scumbag; it was Wally’s turn on the rotation.  An annoyance already crept in his mind, he had been up close and personal with celebrities before but Crayton reeked of arrogance. 

      He walked up to the future billionaire eyes locked on his and spoke in a tone that admitted his distaste, “Sir, thank you for choosing the Bellag-.”

       “Yeah I know where I’m at kid.  Been here before…and I actually know what the inside looks like.” Even his slimy grin was coarse to Wally as he looked him up and down. “Tell you what, Wally, is it.  Let me give you a reeeaal good piece of advice.  This shit ain’t come cheap so pay attention.  You look like you work hard.  That’s good, real good.  You’re standing there parking cars more expensive than houses, sweatin your ass off.  Again, very good job.” He pulled Wally in close. The smell of booze pouring out with his words. “But. You walk over here all jealousy laced with resentment.  Seen it a thousand times.  Remember this, some people are born better than others, you got the shit of the draw.  That’s the way she goes sometimes.  There’s no fighting it.  We’re born, we live, and we die in the same damn place.  You were born in torn up sneakers, me in Italian leather.  So take that with ya.  And go park my fuckin car.” 

      He let that last bit linger in the air between them, as a challenge.  So close that they were touching, and Wally could see his boss looking on puzzled.  And then he was gone, smiling brightly more than the grimace he showed to the lowly valet. 

       Anger wouldn’t be enough to describe what Wally was feeling.  Disgust riddled him devoid of tranquility.  Staring straight he got into the dark blue Lamborghini and popped the clutch pulling around the front pillars to the garage.  He was alone when he got in there and stayed for just a moment.  He yelled and screamed slamming his fists against the steering wheel, doing more damage to his palms.  After a minute he pulled his disheveled brown hair from his eyes and face and reached in his pocket.  Out came a beautiful wallet, engraved in gold was C.P.

       Wally barely remembered taking it.  Instinct put his hand in that asshole’s breast jacket pocket.  Inside was a lot of money.  A few thousand dollars with numerous black credit cards, the casino would certainly front a guy like that hundreds of thousands.  As bad as he wanted to, Wally knew it would cost him more than his job with a guy like this.  He ditched it in the car and rose to get out met by Pritchard himself, now sweating as he had ran. 

       “You piece of shit, you took my wallet.”  He grabbed younger boy by the collar and raised his right fist to strike. 

       In his drunken state he was slow and not anticipating anything from a lowly valet.  Wally used his left hand to break the grip while smacking Clayton across the face hard, to inflict humiliation with the sting.  He then slipped his foot to the inside of the rich kid’s knee and kicked outward, causing him to crumble to both knees.  Wally grabbed Pritchard by the collar and raised his own fist to strike.

       “You’re right, some are born better than others.” 

      He proceeded to push him to the ground and walk away, not turning back once to acknowledge his victory.  Upon being slapped with handcuffs, he revisited the car with the cops and showed them where the wallet was.  Pritchard, defeated and embarrassed, cursed and yelled vowing to never return to the Bellagio.  Off he raced while Wally turned in his velvet uniform and plastic name card to his apologetic boss. 

      No one blamed him, but there had to be some sort of scapegoat.  The next day a video came out of the altercation.  One of the media people had seen Clayton rush off and followed him, getting the whole thing on camera.  Millions of people had now seen what kind of person Pritchard was.  News stations and TMZ religiously called every five minutes hoping to speak with him, but Wally just locked the door and pulled up his shades to the outside world.  He stayed in the next day as knock after knock came.  58 voicemails came and one of them being the Owner of the Bellagio himself, inviting him back with benefits, pay raise, and promotion. 

      As he sat in his room watching the video over and over played on the news, he smiled.  He would choose his own life.  People would call him stupid or idiotic for turning down this opportunity but he didn’t care.  Rich people were disgusting pigs to him. Not all, but most. 

       Wally would take his talents back to the streets in a bigger way.  He would target those people that plighted the rest of the world.  That one percent that inflicted their money in unnecessary leisure would pay dearly.  He would take them for as much as he could and move on, splitting his reward with those less fortunate than him.  He laughed as he sat and plotted, this Oliver Twist turned modern day Robin Hood. 

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