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XII

The prize one is the one about the time the two cops searched me for money an’ couldn’t find it on me. I was eight years old then. I’ run away from home.

I was hustlin’ papers; it was on a Sunday, an’ me an’ another kid, we was workin’ a roomin’-house neighborhood. Two guys call me up. One of ’em’s got a Sunday hard-one, an’ he wags it at me. Me, I’m on the make, but not that way, an’ I take a look around. I spy a purse that belongs to one of the lads an’ I take it. When I get downstairs I show it to the kid who’s workin’ with me, an’ he wants a cut. I wouldn’t give it to him. There was about twelve dollars.

I took the money an’ the purse an’ the rest of the stuff that’s in it I throw in an alley. There’s a wind blowin’, an’ all the papers that was in the purse blow away.

Pretty soon, along comes these two lads runnin’ after me, an’ there’s a couple o’ cops with them. “He’s the one, he’s the one,” one of the lads says, pointin’ to me, an’ one o’ the cops, he grabs me, an’ the other cop grabs the kid’s that with me. I play dumb rummy, an’ I don’t know what the hell they’re talkin’ about. But the other kid, he owns up he saw the purse an’ the money on me, an’ they start searchin’ me.

Well, they go through every inch o’ my clothes an’ they don’t find nothin. The two lads, they don’t care so much about the money, they say I can keep that, only they want the papers that was in the purse, papers that was important, and railroad tickets. I just played dumb. But the kid who was with me, he’d seen the money, an’ I called him a liar an’ told the cops, “All right, I took the money, huh? Then I oughtta have it on me? Why don’t you find it then? If I aint got it, then I couldn’ta taken the purse, could I? An’ they couldn’t find the money. So after a while they let us alone, an’ we go about our business selling these papers.

Me, I’m fellin’ pretty smart an’ laughlin’ to myself at this kid. An’ I was plenty sore at him because he’d snitched. So I get back at him. I roll down the sleeves of my shirt an’ pull the money out. I’d flattened the bills out an’ rolled ’em up in my sleeves. Seein’ I was only about eight years old then, I don’t know how the hell I got the idea to do that. “See smarty, “I said, “if you hadn’t been so smart an’ gone an’ snitched, I’d give you a cut outta this. But you know what you can do, don’t ya?” An’ I put the bills back in my sleeves again an’ rolled them up.

While I went in a house to sell a paper, this kid, he runs back an’ gets the cops an’ they pinch me. I was sent to the detention home, the reform school for a while for that.

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