I was spare changing on Thayer street outside of the Brown University Bookstore and had the sudden urge to read Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck.

I stole a book from that store roughly… Hmmm… A couple times per week.  My backpack was full of books, fine literature I might add.  That was all I owned, other than some candles, hacky sacks, an Indian blanket, and some incense, all of which I also stole from the same hippie tarot card shop across the street.

The Brown Bookstore was full of surveillance camera blind spots and I had them all memorized like the alphabet.  I was living outside their store next to a bunch of milk crates and cardboard boxes on the sidewalk of Thayer Street, but I had a library that what compete with that of an 14th century scholar (whatever the fuck that means).

I was unstoppable.

Every morning I’d wake up and read a different book while simultaneously holding up signs like “need money for beer pot and hookers” as drug dealers, pimps, whores, other teen runaways and ivy league students passed me by and dropped quarters on my blanket every now and then.

As soon as I made a couple dollars I’d take a break and walk to the park and stare at the city.

The local grocery shop, Store 24, gave away their stale sandwiches after the expiration date, so all I had to do was save my appetite and every few days the clerk would give me all the sandwiches that had expired, still perfectly fine to eat, and I’d parade up and down the street giving them to all my hungry friends.

I had my system down.

Then one day I walked into the bookstore to do my normal thing.. you know, steal a book.

I grabbed “Of Mice and Men”… which by the way is the thinnest book of all time… and let my baggy sweatshirt hoodie’s sleeve drape over the book completely and casually started walking outta the store.

I walked past the security detectors and thought

YES, another book!

Then some dude came straight at me.

He grabbed my bag, pulled me back inside and threw me in a small room.

What’s your name?

Greg

Where do you live?

Outside.

Where are you from?

New York.

How old are you?

16.

Where are your parents?

New York.

Why are you here?

Don’t know.

Let me see some ID.

Don’t have any.

Then he finally stopped.  Stumped.  I had stumped him.

I need to verify you are who you say you are.

So I told him to call my friend Rob Deltorro and ask if he knew a Greg Cayea.

So he dialed the phone.  Rob picked up.

Is this Rob?

Who’s this?

I need to know if this is Rob Deltorro.

Who the FUCK is this?

Do you know a Greg Cayea?

Huh?  Is everything Okay?  Who the fuck is this?!!!??!?!?

Sir, calm down, I just need to know if you know a Greg Cayea.

YES I FUCKING KNOW HIM IS HE DEAD?!

Click.

Dude hung up.

He opened my backpack and saw about eight other books… from The Complete Works of Henry David Thoreau to William Blake to Shakespeare… all HUGE books… fifty times the size of the measly Of Mice and Men they had caught me with.

He looked in my bag then looked at me.

These too?

NO NO!! I CAME IN HERE WITH THOSE I SWEAR!

Well… at least I wasn’t lying, I stole all those on totally different days.

He told me to get the fuck out of there and to not ever come back.

I was freaking out… I grabbed my shit and got the fuck out… only problem was I was living, on that particular day, outside the bookshop… so I saw the dude like three times later that day!

It’s safe to say I’m the ONLY person to ever get pinched stealing Of Mice and Men.

Anyway… I went back a week later and stole it again.

Great book.