I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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“He was a good Catholic, and so did his best business inside the churches.” more from B. Traven

The opening of the short story “Accomplices,” from The Kidnapped Saint & other stores.  

Vincent Pliego couldn’t make it any more in Jalisco, where he had been involved with the police several times. He had to clear out now because a new director of police had been installed, who began quickly and thoroughly to clean out the lesser thieves and criminals.  That didn’t work so easily with the bigger thieves because some of them were members of the Police Director’s own family, and others were Diputados who had enough influence to help oust the Police Director (if he caused them trouble). And because Vincent Pliego couldn’t compete with the big boys, he removed himself from the spotlight for a while and went to Mexico City, where he was not yet known.

Vincent Pliego was a mestizo. Thievery was his regular line. He had never had any other profession and hoped never to be forced to undertake another.

In Mexico City he kept his head comfortably above water for a while by picking pockets.  He was a good Catholic, and so did his best business inside the churches. He knelt piously, loaded with many crucifixes, next to kneeling and fervently praying women, and cleaned out their handbags.  From the back pockets of kneeling men he extracted purses or wallets and relieved them of their timepieces. He regarded it as un-Catholic and shameless to rob the offerings-boxes of the churches– because that was successfully taken care of by others who were more skillful than he and who threatened to knife him if he tried to trespass on the speciality that they regarded as their particular privilege.

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