Legal Theft Project: The Harlequin’s Day

He capered across the wall and those rising to start their tasks looked away from him. Some mornings he was more of a spectacle than others, yet everyone pretended not to notice. When he came to the corner of the wall, the man in a harlequin mask ceased his capering and draped himself into the crenelation. A thin knife flicked around his knuckles as he idled and watched the goings on in the square.

Time passed, and a merchant got into an altercation with a buyer. Voices raised, faces red, and blows imminent, until the harlequin dropped lazily from the wall and strolled by them. Knife sheathed, he tapped his fingers against the hilt. Silence followed him. He paused and tilted his head back at the arguers. The conversation resumed, much subdued.

So went the morning, the man wandered, and in his wake, people banded together. A woman and her daughter were tending their vegetable garden and they froze when he passed them by. The hand on his knife stopped tapping and he gave them a clumsy bow. The woman put an arm in front of her daughter, and shook her head at the man. He made a negative sign with his hand and stumbled back a few paces. He bowed more deeply and more sincerely, before turning and striding briskly away.

His steps brought him to the keep where a bearded man in fine clothes was talking with merchants. The harlequin man stayed within view, but at a distance, and leaned against the wall. Flipping his knife. Swish, flick, flash. Swish, flick, flash. The business was soon concluded and the bearded man nodded to him. The harlequin man fell in at his shoulder, a pace of so behind, and shadowed him through his walks and meetings. Close to dusk, the bearded man gave a quiet order. The man in the harlequin mask saluted him and jogged off into the dusk. For once, his knife was silent.


Some literary thieves have run off with this first line. See what they did with their capering gentlemen here.

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Legal Theft Project: What To Call a Girl

Sammy slipped out of the van, keeping the door from slamming so as not to wake her brother or father. The relative silence when the rainstorm stopped had woken her from sleep. As it was going to be morning relatively soon, she figured she’d see if anyone was willing to barter for help that morning in exchange for some breakfast. Eating the same fish bowl at every meal for a week was beyond boring. She made her way from their van at the edge of camp toward the central fire around which all the vehicles were arranged. Passed Echo and Lemon’s trailer, noting who had a lamp or a light on this early, and made her way to Code’s kitchen truck. Code’s assistant had skipped off at the last town and he was more than happy to have a hand with the morning prep. Sammy scrambled the eggs and passed completed bowls to Code so he could make them into burritos. She’d get three of her own and an offer to help with the lunch rush which she declined. The sun was peeking through the crowds as she gathered up her haul and headed off to the rain barrel. More people were out and about by now and Sammy nodded to those who greeted her. She washed her hands in the rain barrel and was picking up her breakfast when she noticed Echo and Lemon, walking by arm in arm, were looking at her. She kept a watch out of the corner of her eye.

“And girls who look like that–they are noticed.” Echo was keeping her voice low, but Sammy had good ears.

“Snicket’s paying attention to her, not serious or anything, but anyone could see. Not to mention Tommy and Yellow. Randa’s getting sour about it,” Lemon replied. Both of them nodded and glanced at Sammy as she walked past.

“Girl’s gonna be Trouble,” Echo declared.

Sammy hurried off, stomach soured. Troubles didn’t last long in caravan life. You needed to make friends, supply jingle, keep people happy to make it in the mobile life. Her dad may not have skills, but he wasn’t Trouble. Trouble’s caused fights, got too much attention, were a risk. She arrived back at her dad’s van and hesitated before she opened the door. They could handle it. She would handle it. She liked being Sammy, she didn’t want to be Trouble.


Stole the line, “And girls who look like that–they are noticed.”  from Beks awhile back. Finally got around to fencing my stolen goods.

Legal Theft Project: Envy in Blue

Blue as skies in summer, pouring out exhaust, and attracting a small crowd, he’d never seen anything like it. He already wanted it gone. His garage didn’t have anything as would come close to those wheels and everyone knew it. The rest of the caravan wasn’t much to look at and the caravan master, Dixon, was the first to pop out of his battered van and head Allison’s way. For his part, Allison kept his arms folded and his face cold as Dixon tromped over.

“Allison.” Dixon bobbed his head respectfully to the man whose domain he’d entered. Allison didn’t acknowledge the greeting, keeping his eyes on the dapper wheels and the crowd swelling around it as the exhaust wisped away.

Dixon soldiered on. “Ah, Sammy’s girl. Elvira. Heck of a car. Heck of a lady.”

Allison turned his head slightly and raised his eyebrow a mere fraction. Dixon swallowed and nodded back toward the car. A mile of leg ending in denim cut offs and hello gorgeous, swung out of the driver side door like sugar in sweet. Her hip pushed the door closed and she leaned against it, pushing her sunglasses on top of her head. He hadn’t figured trouble in a blue jumpsuit into his plans. Oh he wanted her and her car out of his holding and back on the road something fierce. “You brought me trouble, Dixon,” Allison finally said.

Dixon looped his thumbs in his belt. “Got here fastest and safest I’ve ever done. Girl knows her wheels and don’t hesitate on the road. Brought plenty through.”

Allison unfolded his arms. “Any trouble she causes, you cause.”

“No no no. She’s good, but she ain’t mine.” Dixon shook his head. They looked at the woman by the car, answering some of the crowd’s questions, cool as snow in shade. “Sammy handles herself.”

Allison brushed the comment aside, letting Dixon shed the blame and accepting the tacit promise to stay out of the way. “Let’s see what else you brought.”


I’m a thief! I stole this first line from M.D. – take a look at other unique blues at the Legal Theft Project site.