• I may just be the hardest burglar to find in all of the world. That would be because I'm a finch. American Gold to be exact. I have a certain level of intelligence that allows me to be a part of the human world. Unlike a parakeet, I can't talk, but I can communicate my desires and intentions through a keyboard that my friend carries for me.

    My friend Charlene often gets called my owner, but she's quick to correct them and say "Claus is no one's property." Bless Charlene, without her I wouldn't have been able to learn what I needed to in order to be where I am now. A professional burglar, hired by bigshots to get in to places they can't get to.

    My affinity for theft started when I met Charlene. I could only somewhat understand English then, but I knew a distraught little girl when I see one. Her necklace (a birthday gift from her late father I later learned) had been stolen by a rival girl. I snuck into the rival's house and retrieved it for her. A friendship founded on shiny things and crime.

    Charlene loved jewelry and went on to become a jewelry maker. She never had to pay a cent for materials, because I'd steal them for her. She is quite skilled at breaking down and recreating new jeweled items, and an expert in gem quality.

    Now, she sits in an Italian leather chair with me standing on a desk between her and a Vegas mob boss.

    The boss sits refined in his Armani suit, a golden pin he recently purchased from Charlene glinting in the light from its place on his lapel. "So do we have a deal?" he asks in a honeyed voice. "All we need in someone to go in through the vent and unlock it from the inside, using the emergency lock."

    I tap my beak on my keyboard and a robotic voice plays out a preprogrammed word. "Cameras."

    The boss looks down at me maintaining his charm, "My men will have infiltrated the control room by then and disabled those."

    I tap again, "Easy"

    "Almost too easy," Charlene chimes in. I chirp at her to stay quiet. Futilely. "What backup plans do you have in place if something goes wrong?"

    The boss looks up to her, a hint of irritation in his expression. "If Pete runs into trouble, I'm sure he can easily escape, given his species. If he is able or unable to do his job, he should rendezvous with his contact to relay a proceed or an abort order. His task is easy, but the most important. You've worked with us before, why be so hesitant now?"

    Charlene shrugs "This is the biggest heist you've tried to pull, forgive me for being anxious. In the end it's up to Claus." They both turn to me expectantly.

    I take a moment to consider. It's the most ambitious the boss has been, but my part is easy. Any ******** ups will likely come from his own men. Even if I fail, jail time is out of the question for a bird. I have to protect Charlene on the other hand… jail would be easier than whatever the mob will do to her if I refuse. I slowly lean down and tap another button.

    "I'll do it."