Sitting in the frenetic neighbourhood Pretentious Bean Café, Stella noticed a well dressed man enter. He was tall and elegant with slightly greying hair.
Stella followed him with her eyes as he browsed the merchandise by the pick up counter. The barista placed a cup on the counter and called a name. In the bustle of activity, the cup sat unclaimed. Stella watched the well dressed man glide to the counter. He nonchalantly picked up the cup, nodded to the barista, then slipped out the door.
It took a few seconds for Stella to process what just happened. The well dressed man stole the cup of coffee. It was so natural, it hardly seemed real.
Two days later, Stella was at the same table when the well dressed man returned. The café was in the middle of its morning rush. Stella cautiously pulled out her phone to record what would transpire.
The well dressed man hovered casually around the pick up counter. The barista set a cup on the counter, called out a name and no one responded. The well dressed man approached, picked up the coffee and left. This time, the actual customer complained about his missing beverage. The barista shrugged and made a replacement.
Stella didn’t know what to do. A wave of excitement shivered down her spine. It all seemed so defiant. Stella spent the next week and a half watching the criminal actions of the well dressed man. Several episodes were secretly recorded. After two weeks, she decided to act.
It was a Tuesday morning when Stella confronted the well dressed man in the parking lot of the Pretentious Bean.
“Excuse me,” she said.
The well dressed man stopped at his BMW. “Yes?”
Her courage wavered. “I couldn’t help but notice that you have a coffee,” she said.
“Is that a pickup line?” he asked.
Stella swallowed hard. “No. Um, more of an accusation. You stole that coffee.”
The well dressed man leaned against his car. “That’s a bold statement to make without proof.”
The man’s belligerence emboldened Stella. She pulled out her phone and showed him video clips of his crime. He laughed.
“That’s a lot of effort for something so minor,” said the man.
For the first time, Stella looked directly into the man’s eyes. They were a topaz blue, haunting and beautiful. “It doesn’t change the fact that it’s still wrong.”
The well dressed man looked at the café behind her. “What do you want?”
Stella wavered. She hadn’t thought that far ahead. Thinking quickly, she asked, “I want to know why. You obviously don’t need to steal coffee, so why do you do it?”
The well dressed man looked at the bookworm, wearing a cardigan, standing before him. “You really want to know?”
“I do it because I can. Because one day, when I was waiting for my coffee, the opportunity just presented itself. And It happens all the time, everywhere I go. It happens so often, in fact, that I realized people secretly want this to happen,” he said.
Stella was at a loss for words. He was so brazen, so unapologetic.
“What are you going to do?” asked the well dressed man.
“Teach me. Teach me to do what you do. I want to see the opportunities,” said Stella. The words shocked her, as though they came from someone else.
The well dressed man smiled and looked Stella over. “Alright, then. I’ll teach you, but after that, you’re on your own.”
This was the beginning of Stella’s compelling career in white collar crime.