the winner

“What are you in for?”

“I’m a grifter. They caught me grifting.”

“Really.”

“Yep.”

“What is grifting, anyway?”

“What is grifting?”

“Yeah, I’ve always wondered that.”

“Well, it’s when you pull a scam on somebody. Like a guy thinks you paid him forty bucks for a tank of gas, but you didn’t. Like you got the gas, and you paid him the money, but when he goes to tote up the night’s receipts, he’s forty short.”

“That sounds like what I do. Maybe I’m a grifter.”

“What are you in for?”

“I killed a guy for fifteen dollars and a case of beer.”

“Well, did he know you took his fifteen dollars?”

“He sure did. I said ‘give me all your shit and I won’t fuck you up’ before I wasted him.”

“See, that’s not grifting, per se, if the guy knew you were taking his shit. That’s more like robbery.”

“And murder, because I lied when I said I wasn’t gonna kill him.”

“Right. Robbery and murder. That’s probably what they charged you with, right?”

“Right. You got charged with grifting?”

“No, with petty theft.”

“So why are you a grifter? It sounds like you’re a thief.”

“It’s a kind of thievery. Grifting. Did you see the movie? The Grifters? With Olympia Dukakis and Robert Downey, Jr?”

“I thought it was Anjelica Huston and John Cusack did that.”

“Whatever.”

“No.”

“They grifted a lot in that movie. Rent it when you get out, it’s good.”

“Maybe I will,” Frank said. He took another bite of cornbread. “Maybe I’m a kind of murderer. There’s probably different kinds of murderers, right? Did you ever see a movie where they called the murderers something else?”

“You might could be a terrorist. Like in Speed with Keanu Reeves and that girl from the lawyer movie.”

“Sandra Bullock?”

“Right. Did you kill the guy for anything besides the money and the beer?”

“You mean like, was he fucking my woman? No.”

“No, not like that. I mean was he a Jew or a Muslim or something? Did he take your people’s land?”

“My people don’t have any land, they’re from the project on 28th Street. They’re not Jews or Muslims or any shit either, they can eat anything they want.”

Joe thought about it and said “I guess you can’t be a terrorist then.”

Frank looked out the window and said “Maybe I can be any damn thing I want.”

“Maybe,” Joe said, but he secretly doubted it. The cornbread was good. One of them thought the black-eyed peas were dry, but who thought that doesn’t matter.

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