The Gents Piaget
A Short Story by
Alex Morton

      I’m eleven years old, alone on the New York subway, and I’m all pockets. In one hip pocket is a gents Piaget watch that’s worth maybe ten thousand dollars. In another is a subway token and enough money for an onion roll with a schmear of cream cheese. Because my father insists that I dress properly for the jewelry business, I’m wearing a suit jacket that provides me with a pocket that’s next to my heart. This is where I keep the watch box, as a decoy. I figure that if anyone spots it when I’m doing a delivery and tries to boost the goods, all he’ll get for his trouble is an empty.
      I don’t worry too much while I’m still on Forty Seventh street because the plain clothes dees know who I am and keep an eye out for me from the minute I leave the jewelry exchange. But the subway is no man’s land, and once I’m down those grimy steps, I’m on my own.
      My father says that if anybody gets wise to me and figures out where I’m really carrying the goods, let them take whatever I’ve got. “It’s not worth your life” he always adds, but I don’t intend to test it.
      One afternoon, I get on the train and wind up standing next to the door, hanging onto a pole. I’m still too short to reach a strap. Because I don’t like staring at people’s midsections, I keep my eyes straight down, but it doesn’t stop me from sensing what’s going on around me. As my father says, “You might not always be able to see something, but if it’s rotten, you’ll smell it all right.”

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