He stood by the side of the road and watched the jam of taxis start to build up after the traffic lights turned red. It was a Monday evening after a particularly hot day and he was feeling very optimistic about tonight’s prospects. This was going to be his 10th snatch. 10th, without being caught, and within the space of three months. All the guys he’d found in the business had taken at least 1 year to reach the 10 mark.
After no. 5, a couple of them had advised him to slow down. He was drawing too much attention to their craft, they said, and it was getting increasing difficult to pay the officials to slack at their job of hunting them down. Maybe he’d would slow down after this and take a much-needed vacation. He’d been hustling on the streets for as long as he could remember, doing all kinds of random gigs, and it was this particular one that had given him the kind of money that allowed him to even think of vacations.
He watched as a blue taxi slowed to a halt and narrowed his eyes to focus as the driver killed the engine. In the window right behind the driver, he saw what looked like the perfect target. A lady was carrying a baby girl on her lap and talking animatedly to her neighbour. The window was wide open and the baby was seating without a shirt on while the lady carrying her fanned her absentmindedly. The heat of recent meant that most people kept their car windows wide open which made his task easier.
Just as he started walking towards the taxi, the baby turned its head and looked directly at him, as if it had sensed and knew what he was about to do. Like she knew and was empathetic to why he had to do what he was about to do. An understanding look. This kind of unnerved him. Still, he continued towards the taxi and when he was about 50 metres away he broke into a run. It was action time!
The lady next to the one carrying the baby saw him a few seconds before he reached them, but her reaction on realising what he was about to do was too late. By the time her mouth formed an O to scream a warning, he was already by the taxis side and reaching in through the wide open window to make the snatch. The baby was still looking at him though, and as his hands grabbed her sides to lift her out of the taxi it felt like she had raised her hands to allow him get a good grip. This baby was strange. This entire mission was suddenly unnerving. He wanted to abandon, but it was way too late for that now.
As he summoned all strength from his lithe muscles and let the adrenaline take over to enable him run from all the danger that was brewing all around him, he felt the baby’s tiny hands grip him tighter, as if to allow him to run easier without the fear of dropping it. Usually, the other babies he snatched would be wailing and flailing by now. His 10th baby was turning out to be very different. Odd different. He sneaked a look at the baby after leaping over a ditch and saw her looking up at his face with wide trusting eyes and he felt an emotion he thought had died in him start to stir again. He started feeling affection for the baby.
Fuck, this wasn’t a good development….