Ciaran was sweating, he could feel it running down the back of his neck and under his collar.
Feck me…people pay money to come and live like this two weeks at a time?
He couldn’t fathom it. Even the cold beer he had ordered at the street café wasn’t easing his discomfort. But then the conman showed up, distracting him from the oppressive heat of a July evening in Paxos.
The man set his little table up in the same spot as the night before. Four cups and a little red sponge ball on top and a sign hanging from the front of the table in Greek, then English, then German. It read “Find the Lady, Win €10”
Ciaran watched as the conman went through his little routine of popping the ball in the air off his scrawny bicep, then snapping it under one of the upturned cups, then sliding them around and around. It was the same routine as before, and one which had allowed the conman to attract small crowds as one tourist after another had fallen for his flim flam, losing money to the scam hand over fist.
Well, ye cheeky fecker, ye won’t be winning too much tonight.
Ciaran took a sip of his beer then ambled over to the man and his little table.
“You want to try?”
He pointed at Ciaran then at the upturned cups.
“Find the Lady…I give you €10…you don’t find the lady…you give me €10. Yes?”
Ciaran flicked a ten euro note onto the table while the conman made an elaborate show of flashing the red sponge ball before placing it under the middle cup. He then started to slide the cups in and out of each other, slowly but then building to a pace until they were nothing more than a blur.
When he finally stopped, the man rested both is hands flat on the little table.
“Where is the lady, Sir?”
Ciaran bent forward as though studying the top of the cups. Tentatively he reached out as though to select one but at the last second, he grabbed for the conman’s left hand, taking a firm grip on the index finger. Ciaran wrenched it back to a completely unnatural angle, feeling it dislocate as he did so.
The man howled in agony, pulling his hand to escape the Irishman’s grasp but Ciaran wouldn’t let go and eventually the little sponge ball popped out from under his victim’s palm.
“I don’t mind a bit of good-natured cheating, fella. But when I watch ye taking money from a load of wee kids like ye did last night, I figured it was time to level the oul playing field, like.”
And with that Ciaran swept up his money and kicked the table over for good measure.More Snackable Danny