"Now remember Lyra, what's the golden rule?" my father asked me as my brother and I rode with him in his 1969 blue Camaro that he conned off of a rich woman in his last job.
"Be patient and be the character. Wait for the right time... then take them for everything they've got," I recited. I was only eight years old, but the golden rule had been embedded into my mind. When I was two years old, my mother died of a heart attack at 28 years old. My father was convinced it was because of this energy pill my mother was taking to stay up for work. She was a consultant who was in high demand, leaving little time for family or sleep. After she died, my father found the man who sold them to her and took him for everything he had. Ever since then, it became his occupation.
"So what's the job this time, dad?" my brother asked. We traveled a lot. When your job was to steal from people, you had to constantly be on the move.
"A local gym... Lyra is going to break her arm on the faulty equipment," he said. It probably wasn't actually faulty, but that would be the story. We'd already done it a dozen times. My brother rolled his eyes quietly beside me in the backseat. My brother, Kristen, was 4 years older than me. He was completely into the con-game, but he wanted to try bigger and better cons. My father normally stuck to the basics: a broken arm, car "accident", hit it and quit it scam... the basics.
"When are we going to do something more exciting?" Kristen asked. My dad only guffawed under his breath as his eyebrows knit together in a stern look.
"Keep in mind boy, the longer the con, the greater chance you risk of exposing yourself and getting too emotionally involved. And the bigger the con, the more likely you are to screw up. We don't have room to screw up," my dad answered. Kristen talked to me about it all the time when dad wasn't around, but I was eight and he was twelve. I didn't understand what he meant. I didn't understand his need for a one-stop shop that would set us up for the rest of our lives...
At least not yet.