(First time visiting during this year's A to Z Challenge? Start here.)
Kleptomania runs in my family.
Family lore has it that my great-great-grandfather, Elias Embry was very popular with ladies of means, providing a welcome distraction from their wealthy but emotionally distant husbands. The relationships lasted as long as it took the ladies to figure out that their supply of jewelry and silver was gradually disappears. He was shot by a jealous husband before he could cash out, and was buried in a potter's field. Or so the story goes.
My grandfather found a quasi-legitimate outlet for his sticky fingers, lending money at usurious rates to destitute farmers during the great depression. He died of natural causes, which is to say that he was poisoned by an enterprising farmer's wife who fed him with a tainted apple pie, given in gratitude for services rendered. Upon his death, his safe contained over one hundred thousand dollars in cash, more than enough for him to retire on, had he chosen to do so. He did not, and death by dessert was his poetic fate.
My own father inherited a sum of money sufficient for a life of ease, and for awhile it seemed that the family propensity toward thievery had passed him by, or so my mother thought when she married him. Then, when I was fifteen, he was busted for insider trading and sentenced to two years in prison. The last thing he said to me was, "Sorry, son. I never thought I'd get caught."
After my dad went to jail, I considered trying to break the family mold, but honestly, my heart wasn't in it. By then, I was already a fairly competent pickpocket, and had apprenticed myself to a computer hacker that I only knew by his moniker: Ninja Boy. The real problem, as I saw it, was not that I came from a family of thieves. The problem was, they kept getting caught.
Let me backtrack for a minute and tell you what it feels like to be a kleptomaniac. Have you ever tried cocaine? Probably not. Neither have I. But I have heard that the experience is similar. I see something I want. When I was little, it was little stuff: candy bars and action figures, mostly. In the second grade, it was Emily Swanson's sparkly pencil topper. I see something, and I feel like I have to have it. I become obsessed. It's all I can think about. The world sort of melts away and my mind is totally filled with the object of my desire. So I start to think of a plan, a way to get what I must have.
To be continued.