Flash Fiction Challenge: Purse Snatcher

columbus new providence bahamas 1984The punk grabbed the old lady’s purse and ran up those steps like a monkey on crack. A little crowd of tourists gathered around as the old woman yelled at me to do something.

I’m at least thirty years older and a good fifty pounds heavier than him. I don’t do foot chases any more.

Looking up at the steps, I just smile. “Oh don’t worry. He’ll be coming back this way in a moment.”

I know something he doesn’t know.

In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Purse Snatcher”

  1. It was hot, everyone was tired, and we still had a long climb to reach the Columbus Memorial. “C’mon everyone, let’s get this over with.” I shepherded the group ahead of me. “Jenny, don’t touch that. Mary, how did you get candy in your hair?” We were halfway up the next set of marble stairs when Alex, my twelve-year-old son, stumbled. He threw out his arms and grabbed for the only thing he could reach, an elderly lady picking her way down the stairs. Alex missed her, but his left hand ripped her purse from her grasp.

    Alex managed to regain his feet just as she screamed…“Purse snatcher.”

    The man closest to Alex, a burly guy in a plaid shirt, made a grab for him. “Come ’ere, you.”

    I yelled, “Wait, no.” But no one was listening because Alex had slipped under the guys arm and was darting away like an Olympic sprinter. In his panic he didn’t think to drop the purse. “STOP!”

    I was trying to get Alex to stop and explain, but my yell spurred two men to dart after Alex as if he was a criminal.

    My wife, Evelyn, suddenly pushed her way past me. “Watch the kids. I’ll get Alex.”

    I watched her bound down the stairs with an agility that belied her years. The first man went down to a shoulder jab. The second folded when Evelyn’s elbow caught him in the ribs. Alex finally stopped… and stared.

    Nobody messes with my Evelyn.

  2. Other Resources

    The purse snatcher scrambled up the steps as if his Docs were on fire. Spry for a guy with more metal trinkets on his jacket than leather.

    Despite the goading from Grannie, I didn’t get paid enough as a security guard to launch myself up after him. And what was I supposed to do in the unlikely event that I caught up to him? Tackle him? He wouldn’t need a knife. I’d be impaled by some jacket widget. Death by trinket. No, thanks.

    Fortunately, I had other resources.

    “He’ll be back,” I assured the purple-haired, red-faced grandame.

    Behind my confident grin, I drew magical energy from the ethers. It roiled in my gut like heart burn as I manipulated the spell into a boomerang blast. I focused so hard on the receding figure I could almost smell the beer nuts on his breath.

    I was just about to sic my spell on him when a radiant green serpent the size of a palm tree rose up out of no where, scattering the tourists. Its scales glowed like cartoon plutonium. The beast lightninged through the crowds until it struck its target at the top of the stairs.

    With a flick of its tail, it delivered the purse into Grannie’s arms. Wound up in its coils, the thief came next. I couldn’t tell if his eyes were bugging out from fear or constriction.

    “Can you handle it from here?” Grannie asked me, rubbing the serpent’s snout. “Or shall I keep him summoned?”

  3. “The little…” Dayton muttered to himself, panting, having hurried after the youth who’d grabbed the purse off an old lady two blocks over.
    The chase ended here, with Dayton facing the wide marble steps in front of the Founding Fathers Memorial Museum which the kid had run up after climbing the fence. For some reason, there was no sign by that fence, Dayton noticed.

    He stood there, catching his breath, waiting for the youth to come heading back his way. People who had followed part of the spectacle were beginning to gather on the sidewalk. Shouldn’t he give chase, Dayton was asked by a woman.
    When, after nearly fifteen minutes, the thief still hadn’t re-appeared, Dayton heaved his post-retirement belly over the fence, and started toward the building.

    He made the call, had two uniformed officers standing next to him within ten minutes. All three of them were now staring down into the construction pit, twelve feet deep, bordering right on the back wall of the museum building.
    “He must’ve run like nuts,” one of the cops said. “Turned the corner, took a tumble before he had a chance to stop.”
    “There ought to be signs up,” the other one said, his brow furrowed. “Still, he had to figure there was a reason for the place to be fenced in.”
    “When you’ve done this job for twenty-five years,” Dayton said, “people no longer surprise you all that much.”

  4. He charged up the broad concrete steps two at a time. Glancing back he glimpsed the gathering crowd and that old lady flappin’ ‘er jaws at that washed up cop. He reca’nized ’em as that same old belly-hangin’-out pauncher that booked ’em the last time ‘e got nabbed. “Man, what a lousy buncha losers”, he sneered.

    This was one of the easiest picks ever. Nearing the top of the steps, feeling smug and free, he slowed his pace slightly and began to paw through the old lady’s purse.

    Wearing a crooked grin, Ole’ Paunch calmly faced the old lady as she poked at him, “Go get ’em! Well aren’t cha gonna go after ’em?”. It had been a while since they took him off the beat and stashed him behind the counter. But what he now lacked in agility, he made up for in smarts.

    They’d had their eyes on this kid, so just a nod was enough for his partner. Standing at the top of the steps, striking his best puffy-chested Superman pose, the rookie took his cue, delivered a shrill whistle, summoning his canine colleague into action. The snarling pooch surprised the cocky thief, who then flung the purse straight up into the air, shrieked like a coward, turned and careened down the steps straight into Paunch’s shiny new handcuffs.

    Caught! Again! They may look like losers but the punk learned, ya’ just don’t mess with The Paunch, The Pooch and The Probie.

  5. My partner stood in line at the hot dog stand. For a moment I instinctively anticipated his command to pursue the perp. But our days on the force were through long ago. Since retirement my partner came into town to reminisce—to people watch! I just tagged along for the hot dogs. I would much prefer spending our retirement together relaxing, watching television, hunting, or fishing! Fishing—now that is a perfect way to spend a day!

    As the old lady lie on the ground whining for me, for us, to help her, I sensed something ahead none of them could. My agility had declined but not my senses! My partner assisted the old lady to her feet. Honestly, I was more concerned if I would still get a hot dog. Sitting, stock-still I waited.

    Presently, the perp came running back down the steps, a former colleague of mine in close pursuit. Not even half way down, he sank his teeth into that crack monkey’s leg; tripping, he tumbled down to the bottom of the marble steps. Kody, a K-9 officer, a brother of the shield, snarled and barked until his partner arrived, giving him that familiar command—stand down! He slapped the cuffs on the purse snatcher, jerking him upward, both officers gave us acknowledging signals.

    Bending down my partner rubbed my head and said, “I sure do miss those days. Don’t you, Buddy?”

    “No! I would rather be hunting or fishing! And those hot dogs smell delicious!”

  6. The chase ended at the fence. I watched the kid sprint up the steps, clutching the worn leather purse like it held more than coupons and sticky lifesavers. I almost envied his ignorance.


    “Go after him, you dumb cop,” yelled a man shooting a video on his phone.

    “Don’t bother,” said the mugging victim. She took my hand and I helped her up. “He’ll be back.”

    “Ah. You’ve seen it.” I met the old woman’s gaze. “I was that kid once. Did a stint in juvie. But that wasn’t what made me fly straight. No ma’am.”

    She nodded. “I was on top of the world. Beauty, brains. I had it all. Never knew what was missing until –.”

    The kid flew down the stairs, jumped the fence and plowed into the phone cameraman’s belly. I grabbed him and was about to slap on the cuffs when I felt a tug on my arm.

    “I don’t think that’s necessary.” The woman took her purse from the wide-eyed boy.

    “What the hell?” said the cameraman. “You saw him snatch –”

    “There’s a mirror up there. It shows who you truly are. I looked in it long ago and never wanted to again. But it doesn’t let you go. I’ve spent my life preparing for this.” She turned to me. “And you?”

    I wasn’t perfect. I would still see a few too many burgers and white lies. But my face looking back at me would be human.

    Together, we walked through the gate.

  7. I need another fix. I hate stealing, but I need a fix, and the old woman’s purse has money.

    I sprint by the pudgy guard, grab the purse and dash up the steps, leaping two at a time. When I get to the top, my lungs burn and knees throb. And because I’m stupid from drugs, I turn to see if the guard’s chasing me.

    He’s not.

    The old lady’s screaming at him, but he’s just smirking up at me, his arms folded and resting on his protruding gut as if he knows something I don’t.

    That’s when my hands burn. I can’t even scream. I hold out my arms gazing at the orange flame that’s consuming both the purse and my hands. In a second the purse is ash, and my wrists end in charred nubs. That’s when the pain shoots through my arms to the back of my neck. And then nothing.

    When I wake up, I’m on my stomach, my face pressed into concrete. A cop jams his knee in my back and cuffs me. He reads me my rights as he jerks me to my feet. That’s when I realize my hands, thank God, my hands are behind my back.

    Still at the bottom of the steps, the guard’s making a statement to the another cop. When he’s done, he looks up at me winks. I nod back. I know I somehow I no longer need a fix. And I never will.

  8. Thump. Thump. Thump.
    A horrified crowd watched as the punk’s head bounced two steps at a time and rolled into the closest fountain. It bobbed happily like an autumn apple, sending out decorative waves of crimson that quickly dissipated in the current.
    Coming down the stairs, stolen purse in hand, toddled a Purple Hat Lady. You know, the group that wears purple hats and blocks the sidewalk at arts and crafts events? Yeah, those grannies. I had never noticed their swagger—they were old and they owned it. The leader handed the purse to me and smiled sweetly.
    “Here you go, sonny,” she said. “Sorry about the mess…”
    “It wasn’t like you had a choice, Velma,” another granny added. “He was going to take your handbag, too. You had a right to stand your ground.”
    “I’m glad we went and practiced with our hats at the range last week,” a particularly frail octogenarian whispered. “You might have only taken an arm off, and then he would have been mad.”
    The police arrived at the same time as the local news crew, and the darlings were only too happy to tell their story in detail, and to show everyone photos of their grandchildren. Before the crowd dispersed, Velma had an appointment with the “nice young officer to make a formal statement. Did I tell you I have a lovely granddaughter, a teacher, who is unmarried?”

  9. “Don’t just stand there! Go after him.”

    Concerned tourists gathered around the old woman. Purse snatching isn’t on my list of things to witness while vacationing, but hey, I’m a cop. I looked up the flight of marble stairs. The punk that grabbed her bag must have been part monkey. If I tried running him down I’d be clutching my chest like the old lady. I was a lot older than monkey kid and my daily donuts hung around my waist like banana custard. Good think I didn’t need to.

    “Don’t worry. He’ll be right down,” I said. “Those upper steps are slick.”

    No one noticed my fingers wiggle as I helped the woman stand. A thin glaze of ice formed on the steps. Not an easy feat to do in Southern California. But hey, I’m talented.

    Just my luck, monkey kid must have been part cat. He stumbled on the ice, then leaped past. I muttered an oath. At least I had one more ace up my sleeve. My little friend popped up to the top of the stairs just as the kid reached the uppermost step. By little I mean huge. Anyone but me saw Clyde as heat rising in the distance…Unless, of course, you ran into him.

    Monkey kid shrieked, then tumbled backwards down the steps. I couldn’t help but smile. Any mention of what he saw would be attributed to the huge crack on his skull. Score one for me and Clyde.

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