Cash Included

A diner, mid-day. Two men in cheap suits take up a booth at the local greasy spoon. The waitress begrudgingly fills their mugs for the umpteenth time, knowing they'll never leave her a tip.

One says, "We could go South, try an insurance scheme while the fish are still biting."

The other grimaces, swigs his scalding coffee, and grunts. "Nah. Jax says it's swarmin' with rookies. How 'bout a pigeon drop? Or a mail scam?"

"Old and tired."

Here are two frustrated cons in need of a new play, each staler than the joe he's mooching. And then she walks in.

Jax is to these two what a cool breeze is to a muggy evening. Crisp and easy, she tosses pages of print-outs onto the table and swings a chair around to join her accomplices.

"This is it, boys. Our big break."

They pore over the papers, sifting through the mark's photographs, bank statements, phone records. Jax adds her newly falsified medical records to the stack.

"I've got her hooked. She's ready. Told her an' her old man I was abused and scared and only 15. They ate it up like cornflakes." She snickered. "Told 'em I was 7 months along. I even talked to Doc about lifting an ultrasound from the clinic. I'm pickin' up the belly tonight." She smirked, a shark who's caught the delirious scent of blood in the water.

"How'd you find her?"

Jax worked a rolled-up newspaper from the back pocket of her jeans and spread it over the tabletop. Crimson ink circled the ad. Leaning over, she dotted the bullseye with the tip of a pen. The ad was only six words and a number, but it was all she'd needed.

For sale.
Baby shoes.
Never worn.