“You can’t cheat an honest man…” by Alan David Ross (1994) – based on true events

          Jim was a con man; he had always made his living as long as I had known him by deceit.  Jim was an amiable person and I liked him, but being a liar and a scoundrel made him a friend at arm’s length.  Being too lazy and overweight to work a regular job, Jim used his jaw muscles to get people to volunteer cash to his cause.  Jim had recently purchased one thousand wrist watches at two dollars a piece; I believe they were Rolex lookalikes.  Of course at a glance they looked like the famous Rolex on the outside and there the similarity ended. 

          One summer afternoon outside of a corner variety store I think I was shown the meaning of the adage “You can’t cheat an honest man.”  I didn’t believe that a watch that was bought for two dollars could be sold for much more.  My buddy, the rip-off, said “I’ll bet you I can get seventy five to a hundred dollars for this watch.”  Knowing his reputation for scam I made it a friendly wager. Jim set up shop in front of a store next door to a local hangout on a busy street.  I leaned against the building and Jim paced back and forth in front of the entrance.  Soon a car pulled up to the curb and the passenger jumped out heading for the store to buy cigarettes. 

          My man intercepted him and in the space of fifteen feet and thirty seconds gave him his spiel… “My wife kicked me out…I need some quick money”…standard bull to get the guys attention.  The victim eyed the watch in its impressive box and genuine-looking warranty but seemed unimpressed.  Jim pleaded with the man begging for a hundred and fifty dollars and if the man were a Christian he wouldn’t offer a penny less.  The fellow held the watch in his hands for a few moments and then shook his head, handed it back to our villain and went into the store.  James shrugged this rejection off and went back to pacing. 

          Where I was leaning against the building there was a large window which I looked through and noticed the intended pigeon.  He paid for a pack of smokes out of a large wad of bills.  After receiving his change the fellow stepped towards the back of the store.  In the place he had chosen he counted out a number of bills and held them in his right hand while the rest were stuffed into his left pocket.  And now the roles are reversed as the intended sucker becomes the aggressor.  Striding from the store he is ready to negotiate Jim into submission with the words…”I’ve got seventy five… take it or leave it.” 

          Of course my pal’s pleading and whining fell on deaf ears and the watch was handed over for a mere two thousand percent profit.  Greed had gotten its man and crime paid.  The unknown guy forked out lots of coin for a toy watch with a life expectancy of two days.  Not much of a moral here but although Jimmy goes on selling bogus goods for good money and is happy doing it, I will bet that the gentlemen who stopped for cigarettes has stopped buying bogus goods with good money.

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