Thadeus, the King of Thieves, sat on his gold, ornate throne. It was a gaudy thing, his throne. But it was made of just a portion of his accumulated wealth. Gems, filigree, weapons, and even a bit of leather went into the chair. After three decades of thievery, one has a lot to show for his labors.
It was late at night and Thadeus couldn’t sleep. He stared out a window, watching the moon slowly sink behind the city skyline. The entertainers had come and gone. The women of his harem were asleep… somewhere in the palace. For his many trinkets and toys, the King of Thieves was bored.
Sitting back in his throne, he remembered the good ol’ days. The days when he was a young lad with no coin to speak of. The days when a sharp knife and a distracted mark was all he needed. He never killed his victims, just made sure their purses dropped from their belts with relative ease.
And silence. That’s the key. To be a good thief, you had to be silent.
Which was not the case for the man who was climbing into Thadeus’ throne room. He stumbled through the open window, in full view of the throne. He clanged against a pile of jewels, knocking over a bronze tray. Honestly, this boy needed to get his act together.
By the time the young thief collected himself, he discovered Thadeus staring at him from the throne.
“Wow. You just might be the worst thief I’ve ever seen,” Thadeus said.
“But you called me a thief,” the young man said with a satisfied smile.
“Yes, but I saw you,” the king said. “First rule of thieving kid: if your mark sees you, you’ve failed.”
“What about grifters? Grifters’ marks see them the whole time.”
“Buh—we’re not talking about grifters. Lousy con men too untalented to sneak around. Show me a grifter who isn’t in jail or hanging from a post. Show me the King of Grifters, eh? Yeah, because there isn’t one.”
The young man scratched his head. “I guess you’re right.”
“What’s your name, boy?”
“Boy! I’m twenty-one years old.”
“That’s a boy to me,” Thadeus said. “Name.”
“Menus,” he said.
“Ugh, that’s a terrible name,” the king said. “You want to be a thief, you’ll need to come up with a better name. Like Broculus.”
“Broculus? Is that your name?” Menus said.
“No! I’m Thadeus, King of Thieves.”
“Then don’t try pawning off your bad names to me.”
Thadeus grumbled. This wasn’t the kind of amusement he had been hoping for.
“What are you doing climbing into my palace, Menus?” he asked.
“I heard a dumb old coot lived in this house,” Menus said. “Super rich and too pathetic to put up a fuss.”
“You heard wrong, I live in this house,” Thadeus said.
Menus paused. “You’re point being?”
“I’m not an old coot!”
“Eh… okay,” the young thief said.
Thadeus sat up in his throne, sucking in his gut. “What makes you think I’m a coot?”
“For one, you called me ‘boy.’”
“Get past it.”
“What do you do all day?” Menus said. “Hang out in this room? Sit on that fancy toilet?”
“It’s not a toilet, it’s a throne,” Thadeus said. “If you haven’t noticed, I run things around here. There are entire armies that beckon to my call. Cities across the sea send me tribute. Master criminals pray to me for guidance.”
“Oh, do you answer their prayers?” Menus asked.
“How could I? I’m not God.”
“Right. But do you ever get out? You know, spend time among all those people who pray to you? There’s a big world out there, you know.”
“I’ve been out there,” Thadeus said. “That’s how I won my fortune. I traveled all over the world. Stealing both gold and hearts. Now, at this point in my life, I can sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labors.”
The king lifted his head in a haughty sort of way.
Menus looked around. “Pretty empty in here.”
“Everyone’s gone to sleep,” Thadeus said, lifting his head back.
“Why aren’t you sleeping?” Menus asked.
The King of Thieves deflated a little. “Well, I guess you can say I’m bored.”
“Really, kings can get bored?”
“Then may I suggest to his highness that he do something about it?” Menus said. “Preferably now, so I can pinch some of his stuff.”
A light came into Thadeus’ eye. “You know what, you’re right. But I’m going to let you do more than pinch a few coins off my table.”
“What do you mean?”
With a leap, Thadeus descended his throne to Menus. He pulled off his purple cloak and threw it around the boy’s shoulders.
“I hereby declare that you, Menus the Boy, are now King of Thieves.”
“What? You can’t do that!” Menus said.
“Sure I can. I can do anything I want.”
“But I’m not suited to be king of anything,” the young thief said. “I don’t even wipe when I’m done on the toilet.”
“Fine. I’ll make you Regent to rule in my place,” Thadeus said.
“What are you going to do?” Menus asked.
“Me? I’m going to follow your advice. Get out and experience the world. Plenty has changed, I’m sure. I’m going to have a bit of fun. See if there’s still fire in these old bones.”
Thadeus ran across the room, throwing off the rest of his royal garments. Menus averted his eyes as the king ran naked to an old chest beside a wardrobe. Cracking it open, Thadeus pulled out a faded tunic, leather jerkin, and some leggings. Worn socks and boots he pulled over his feet.
“Glad I still kept these old clothes,” Thadeus said. “Surprised they still fit.”
“K-king, you can’t do this. What am I supposed to say to your subjects?” Menus asked.
“Tell them I made you Regent,” Thadeus said.
“They won’t believe that.”
“You’re right. How silly of me,” the king said.
Menus let out a sigh. Thadeus ran over to the other side of the room, behind the throne.
“You’ll need this!” He popped an ornate, bejeweled crown on top of the man’s head. Thadeus ran for the door.
“Enjoy the palace! Try not to get anyone pregnant!”
Thadeus heard Minus complain some more, but the doors closed behind him. Quickly he bounded out a window, to avoid the guards, and slipped away from the palace. The night air was cold. It stung his nostrils and chilled his lungs.
For the first time in a long while, Thadeus felt free.
To be continued…