So my book about a high-profile bank robbery, Ghostman, comes out today. I have to say, the excitement here is already reaching something of a fever pitch. Yesterday I received almost a dozen requests for interviews, nearly 50 letters from eager fans (or soon-to-be fans), and literally hundreds of Twitter and Facebook mentions, most of them stemming from the mostly positive review of my book by Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times. I know it is only the very first day of publication, but I'm already tired of talking about myself for hours and hours on end. So, instead, today I'm going to take it easy and give you a blog post doing what I do best. Here is a short list of lesser-known crime slang I picked up over the course of my research for Ghostman.
10. Scatter: A scatter is a secret hiding place where an individual heister sleeps while he is gearing up for a job. The scatter is something of a sacred place — other members of the crew don't go there, and no work is ever done there. It exists so if one guy in the crew gets busted, the others aren't all there with him to take the heat.
9. Shop: The shop, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of the scatter. The shop is a temporary, out-of-the-way meeting place, like an empty warehouse or an old garage, where the heisters gather to plan the job. All the tools of the crime are kept there so they can't be tied to any one of the heisters. The shop itself has special rules. Nobody can own the shop, nobody can live in the shop, and, most importantly, once the job is over, nobody ever returns to the shop.
8. Getaway Pack: The getaway pack is a precaution. It is a pack containing only the most basic supplies a heister might need, usually only a clean phone, some money, a new ID, and a weapon. It is hidden somewhere in the city or region where the heist is going down in case the heister has to leave all of his possessions behind.
7. Go-Bag: A go-bag is similar to a getaway pack, except it isn't hidden — the heister takes it with him always. It has basic supplies (gun, money, phone, ID) but also usually contains a change of clothes, toiletries, and anything else he might need. It always remains packed, so the heister can leave at a moment's notice.
6. Paper Trip: Paper tripping is the act of creating (or stealing) a completely new identity. More than just buying and using a fake ID or passport, a paper trip involves fraudulently acquiring an entire lifetime worth of legal documentation. A successful paper trip can result in a new name, birth certificate, social security number, financial history, and employment record — all valid.
5. Portland Cookie: A blend of better-quality Asian brown-sugar heroin with poorer-quality Mexican black-tar heroin. So named because it looks like chocolate-chip cookie dough and can occasionally be found in Portland, Oregon.
4. Strawberry: A strawberry is a younger woman who hangs around a criminal because he can easily provide her with a steady supply of free drugs, money, and excitement. Oddly enough, the term usually isn't derogatory. I've heard it used affectionately.
3. Flamingo: A flamingo is a woman who is somehow unaware (or unwilling to acknowledge) that her husband or boyfriend is a criminal, so named because flamingos are beautiful birds who bury their heads in the sand. "Keeping flamingos" is considered dangerous because there is always the possibility that she might disapprove of the situation and turn the guy in.
2. Client Dealer: A high-end black marketeer. Unlike a typical dealer, however, who has a limited selection of goods and a great many customers, a client dealer has an exclusive group of customers, sometimes only one, for whom he can procure almost anything (from heroin to hockey tickets) for a price. He does the dangerous black-market shopping so the clients don't have to.
1. Doctor Goodman: A criminal doctor, especially in the drug world. A doctor goodman, or a shop doc, will write a prescription for whatever his patients ask for. Sometimes a doctor goodman is an innocent person who is merely easily fooled, but more often the doctor is corrupt and will write prescriptions in exchange for money or services.
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Roger Hobbs lives in Portland, Oregon, having graduated from Reed College in 2011 after majoring in English and studying ancient languages, film noir, and literary theory. Ghostman is his first novel.
Books mentioned in this post
Roger Hobbs is the author of Ghostman