The staff were pretty amazed when I, a 13 year old girl, walked right in there and asked for a job. But it worked. And I finally found out what the place was called. The Pick-pocket Casino. I thought of this as a very fitting name. Lotta pretended she was my assistant. But I was confronted by a very unpleasant surprise when I discovered that Peter Stern, Vanessa's Uncle, was the manager. "You start work on Saturday." he said blankly.
I had always hated lying to my parents, which was why I was always so truthful. But today was Saturday. I told them that Lotta and I were going to the park to observe the night sky for a school project, which would last as long as I needed (I didn't tell them the last part!). With my guitar in tow, I joined Lotta outside the casino doors. "Ready?" she asked.
"Ready." I replied. Inside were tables covered in a scarlet cloth. Laid on the tables were cards set for various games, number wheels and even a gun in some places. Lotta followed my gaze towards the pistols. "They're for roulette." she explained. I had heard of that game before. The thought of it sent shivers down my spine. I had played that before with Lotta, only with fizzy pop cans, one shaken. It was sheer luck wether you got sprayed in the mush or not. "Look," said Lotta, pointing towards the newspaper. As I read, I realised why she had pointed it out to me. It was about a man who, up until last Saturday, had been a tramp. Now, under mysterious circumstances, he was a multi-millionaire. "Now it that just a bit of a coincidence or what?" she said. But before I could answer, I was being led towards the stage. My job started now.
Thousands of expectant eyes pierced me with their gaze. At least, it felt like that. But the playing came naturally. As I strummed, I realised my voice had begun to join in. I sung songs I hadn't even thought of in years. All the memories of happy, sunny days came flooding back to me. The feeling was hypnotic. Everything else drained away. I felt like a tropical bird that had finally broken free of its cage, and was now showing off it's colour and flair. Once I had crash landed down to earth, I saw everybody was staring at me. Drunkards, drug addicts, rich men, poor men. Everyone. But it was nearly 10:00, and if I wasn't back soon, my parents would have a fit.
Lotta was so excited on the way back, I thought she would burst. Finally I had to ask, "What the heck's the matter!".
"You know that guy we read about in the newspaper," she said, her emerald eyes gleaming.
"Yes," I urged.
"Well, it wasn't him who stole your fathers money!"she stated proudly.
"You're kidding, aren't you?" I said, "I mean, earth to Lotta, all the evidence points to him!" But she just shook her head.
"Thats why! It's way too good to be true, isn't it?". I was now completely confused. Come to think of it, that really wasn't hard. Once Lotta was home, I made my way to my house. My parents would be worried sick by now. So, as I slowly opened the door, I braced myself for a real hammering.
It was time to face the music...