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Confidence Trick

A short story

By Dana StewartPublished 2 months ago Updated about a month ago 9 min read
Confidence Trick
Photo by QUI NGUYEN on Unsplash

Grifting is hard work I don’t care what anybody says. If I had a dollar for every time I heard ‘these people should get a real job’ I could retire right now. Between preparation and scouting, I have zero time for a social life. Don’t even get me started on how annoying those freaking RFID wallets are, either.

Example, my current situation. Crouched in the tiny backseat of a borrowed Porsche, bouncing Wi-Fi off CrazyHorse’s network – seriously – it wasn’t even stealing access. It was too easy to guess the password would be SIOUX, in all caps. Most people don’t realize how easy they make it for people like me. They think their so clever. Please. Easy marks are everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

My phone dings with the flight confirmation email. I laugh out loud as I do a ‘parade wave.’ A big thank you to Carol Hughes of Halo, Texas for the ignorant generosity of her Platinum card. My first-class ticket to Grand Cayman is on her dime. Ol Carol would get a text notification of the charge sure enough. But with a name like Carol, she won’t check her text messages until tomorrow and while that’s too late for Carol it’s right on time for me. I’ll be lathered in SPF 30 staring at cerulean seas while sipping my second Pina Colada before she even realizes her credit card was lifted. I mean, technology exists for a reason, right? Too bad people don’t learn to use it to their advantage. It’ll take her about a week to connect the dots. Maybe she’ll remember how it happened. The bump and go last week on the subway when I apologized profusely while my frequency scanner grabbed account numbers for all the cards in her wallet.

My Uber arrives and the driver is predictably self-absorbed. He doesn’t ask me any questions, and that makes my escape easier. I relax in the lush backseat. Thanks to the app, the driver knows my destination is the airport. No conversation is wanted nor needed.

Everything started to break bad a couple of hours ago. I’d been working a long con, trying to gather enough coin to lay low for a while. I prefer to work the suburban areas hard in the cold months. Heavy coats and blue lips make people vulnerable. One well timed innocent encounter with a random ‘brush up’ is all it takes to put a mark on the send. Right where I want them.

Long cons take the most dedication. Those require more than one interaction, or a longer time together. And I was working the toughest grift of all, the love con. It’s a tough sell, it takes time to get to know one another. As stupid as people are, few start off their relationships with trust. That’s a good thing in my line of work. It’s unbelievable how much personal information I can extract from a simple conversation. Give me a couple of days, and I’ll know your life better than you do.

My mark was Nick Jones, who, according to the DMV was the new owner of a Porsche Taycan. A few clicks on social media and voila, there he was, chugging a Guinness in his profile picture. Mr. Jones was proudly employed (part time) at a local bar, The White Rabbit.

Now, for the novice this might seem like a coincidental turn of events. Nick might be leveraged to the hilt with debt.

I suspected different. Impulse purchases like a 200k luxury car scream Powerball winner. Hell, he only needed four numbers to cash out enough to buy the ride. Maybe Mr. Jones had luck playing the ponies. He had that look about him, like he was gullible yet smart enough that swindling him would be a challenge. That was enough to get my attention. A few more clicks on the trusty internet and the mystery of the money origins was solved. Mr. Jones had inherited a small fortune from his estranged granddaddy in Cedar Rapids.

Paydirt. Or so I thought at the time.

It’s such a rush, being reborn. When you’re hunting a mark, you become who they want you to be. Nick posted tons of photos of him kissing bosomed brunettes. So he clearly had a type. The next day I shelled out eight bucks on mahogany chestnut hair color at the corner CVS and bought a push-up bra.

His occupational hazard of bartender gave me the perfect in. I arrived at the bar early to get the lay of the land.

When I first saw him carrying that case of Jim Beam, my stomach did backflips. He had a goofy grin, a sheepish personality. Seemed to know everyone by their first name.

I sat alone at the bar, peeking over at him every chance I got as I pretended to text a friend. He was so wholesome, the way he interacted with the other patrons. When he walked over to check on me I surprised him by ordering a pint of Guinness.

His eyes bulged and that pretty little mouth of his tilted up at the corner with my request. He placed my glass of foamy brew on a napkin in front of me and said “My kind of woman,” as he winked.

Nick was easy pickings. While I wasn’t as bosomy as some of his other conquests, I had his attention, too. Whenever I sensed his eyes on me, I made sure I laid the bread crumbs. It’s always easier when the mark makes their own assumptions. I’d glance at my wrist watch every so often as I shifted my weight on the barstool. Turn to look at the door whenever someone came in the bar.

“Been stood up?” He asked as he wiped off the counter. The bar was crowded. I feigned embarrassment and ordered another Guinness.

A couple hours later and I upped my game and powered my cell phone off.

“Hey, Rick,” I slurred my words intentionally. “Is there a phone I can use? I need to call a ride,” I said as I waved the black screen to demonstrate the presumptuous dead battery.

He laughed as he poured me an ice water. “Use mine,” he offered, handing me his mobile.

“Thanks,” I said, as I took his phone and tilted backwards on the barstool. He grabbed my wrist to keep me from falling.

“Are you ok?”

I blinked a few times. “I think I’m going to be sick. Where’s the bathroom?”

“Let me help you,” he offered.

He came around the bar and like the perfect gentleman guided me to the ladies restroom. I promised him I’d be ok and just needed a minute. Like a fool he believed me.

I locked myself in the stall and cloned his phone to mine. It was that easy to get access to all his banking apps, financial data, and even the webcam in his living room.

I initiated a transfer of twenty thousand dollars to one of my ghost bank accounts. Since I had access to his account, I would try for another 20k later. The wire should post on the next business day. Then I deleted the app on his phone so he wouldn’t get a notification.

I staggered out of the bathroom to find Nick waiting. I swayed just enough for him to put his arm around my waist.

“Are you ok?”

His warm hand on my skin was all I could focus on. “Yeah, I think so. I’m ready to get out of here.”

He nodded as he bit his lip. I handed his phone back. He shoved it in his jeans pocket.

“Wanna go to my place?”

I nodded my head. I had everything I needed, but for some reason I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. That’s where I fucked up.

The Uber parks at the terminal drop off. I get out of the car and check in for my flight. Soon I’ll feel the heat of the Caribbean sun on my face. The redeye flight is surprisingly vacant. I stretch out in my seat and close my eyes.

We rode in the new Porsche to Nick’s apartment. That car was worth every penny.

Once inside we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Clothes peeled off, bodies entangled, followed by more laughter and more booze.

I’m self-employed so sex is a fringe benefit. Besides, Nick didn’t complain.

Nick had voice announce enabled on his phone. He couldn’t ignore his mother’s third call.

“What’s wrong?” He assumed the worst with a call from good old Mom at a such a late hour.

He stood and wrapped the bed sheet around his naked waist.

“Slow down. What are you talking about?”

Mama must get banking notifications too. This was an oversight. I dressed quickly as Nick’s eyes got wide and the vein in his neck pulsed.

I grabbed the Porsche key off the nightstand . “It was fun, baby,” I said as I made a run for the door. He tripped on the gathered material of the sheet, fell flat on his face.

“Wait a minute!” I heard Nick scream as I slammed the door behind me.

The Porsche was more fun to drive. I ditched the car and while I waited for the Uber I booked this flight.

Nick was a good guy. But he didn’t need all that money. He won’t miss it. I left him plenty to spend. I am never too greedy with my marks. I just take what I need, I think as I doze off with his scent all over me.

The morning light bleeds through the cabin as we land. Over the loudspeaker the captain welcomes us to paradise. I can’t help but think of all the wallets hidden in beach towels on sandy beaches.

I didn’t have any carryon luggage so it‘s easy to clear customs.

The airport is bustling with traffic even at this hour. When the salt air hits my nose, I really feel like I can make a new start. Maybe I’ll text Nick to tell him I’m sorry. I don’t know. Maybe I won’t.

I wave my hand to hail a cab. An older redheaded woman stands too close beside me on the sidewalk. As a grifter, I know what to watch out for. I take a couple of steps away.

“First time on the island?” she asks.

I don’t feel like conversation. But I nod to be polite.

She smiles at me like we’ve met before. There’s something familiar about her, but I can’t place it.

“A first for me too. First time in the Caribbean, and a first time to meet myself. I’m Carol Hughes. Of Halo, Texas.”

Shit. The ginger points her finger at me.

“It’s her,” she says as we’re surrounded by police and the sirens blare.

Short Story

About the Creator

Dana Stewart

Soup lover proudly owned by fluffy little lap dogs. Likes: sunsets, chocolate, witty replies, and good hair days. Dislikes: Mean people and flan. Hit that subscribe button.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (27)

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  • J. Jay27 days ago

    Dang, what a twist at the end! Your main character was super crafty and enjoyable to read. Thank you for writing it.

  • Amber Annabelle28 days ago

    Congratulations on being featured as a top story, it is well deserved 👏🏼

  • JBaz28 days ago

    I just wanted to tell you I had to read this again. So good.

  • Quincy.v28 days ago

    very Good… i really like your blog…

  • Holly Pheni29 days ago

    Very well-written! Love it!

  • Tiffany Gordon 29 days ago

    Intriguing read! Awesomely written! Very well done! I love your writing style! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

  • Brenton F29 days ago

    What a brilliant tale! Top story or not I was hooked at the end of the second paragraph, i stayed with it as your main character appealed to me on so many levels and then Carol!

  • Laura29 days ago

    Brilliant Story! Congratulations 🎊

  • Novel Allen30 days ago

    The devil is always in the details. congrats.

  • Cathy holmes30 days ago

    Congrats on the well deserved top story.

  • C. H. Richard30 days ago

    ooh so happy to see this one as a top story! Congratulations!

  • JBaz30 days ago


  • JBaz30 days ago

    Congratulations, this was a non stop read from the first line. Excellent

  • Jimmy Butler30 days ago

    The 'Wild West' of today. I hope some folks learn the lesson of this story. Great writing.

  • Caroline Jane30 days ago

    Congratulations on top story! Well deserved. ❤️

  • Congratulations on your Top Story

  • Samara Simson30 days ago

    Such a Nice read. Congratulations on Top Story :)

  • Heather Hubler30 days ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!! Already loved this one!!

  • Veronica Coldironabout a month ago

    I'll admit it. I was homeless before so the story hooked me from the first line, but I couldn't stop reading. (I never stooped to anything nefarious, but it's hard not to get involved with your character.) Had me second-guessing my own thoughts! LOL! Great story!

  • Lilly Cooperabout a month ago

    A good read! I enjoyed it :)

  • Caroline Janeabout a month ago

    Oooo she was so close! Great read Dana. Very well put together. Nicely done. 👍

  • Such a gripping story! Loved the twist! I enjoyed this story very much!

  • As always, well done ❤️

  • Heather Hubler2 months ago

    Oh, I loved that twist!! What great fun and really well written, nicely done :)

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