“Who’s your new servant?” I ask my host when the man leaves the room.
“John. Very trustworthy. Looks after me and my wife like a son.”
“Have you verified his past?”
“How can you be so complacent, Tom? Don’t you read newspapers? Crooks are aplenty and elderly people are their easy prey. And you are supposed to notify the local police when you hire someone new”.
Tom hesitates a moment before replying, “Well, he was recommended by a close friend. You know him. Jailor James. He has told me everything about John.”
The cobweb disappears suddenly from my mind.
“He is so light-fingered, My Lord, that he can remove the iris of one’s eye without the victim getting any wiser.” The public prosecutor’s voice reverberates in my ears. I had sent the man to jail for pick-pocketing. Maybe about five years ago.
As I approach my car after bidding adieu to my hosts, I am puzzled to find the key missing from my pocket. I am about to turn back to the house when someone taps on my shoulder.
“Looking for this, Sir?” John asks with a mischievous smile, extending his palm with my key in it.
Amused by my confusion, he confides in me, “Don’t worry, Sir. Tom knows everything about my past. I have decided to lead an honest life, thanks to my fiancee. I am happy here and have no intention of going back.”
“And yet you picked my pocket?”
“Oh, that! I’m still proud of my skills and like to test it now and then, that’s all. No harm intended.”
It seems an eternity before I find my voice. I take him aside and whisper, “John, if you ever get tired of Tom, you are welcome at my place.”