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For a while, Richard walks around in a depressed funk. He finally gets his act together and finds a job, because he realizes that he’s got to work if he’s going to get out of the South.
At his next job, Richard does a total 180. Instead of being too aggressive, he is too subservient. His new boss notices the act (Richard is a bad actor) and sends him home. Check another job off the list, Dick.
After a while Richard gets a job at the same hotel as Ned’s dead brother. He’s amazed at how easy it is for the boys he works with to deal with white people.
He also notices that their goals are… a little different. For example, one boy seems to expect Richard to be jealous that the boy has gonorrhea. Richard, however, thinks this is ridiculous, and so do we.
One night Richard is walking home with one of the hotel maids when a police officer slaps her butt. The girl brushes him off, but Richard is appalled. He can’t even move until the officer pulls out his gun and asks him if he has a problem. Later, he realizes that the girl’s just not upset at all, which makes him feel stupid for caring in the first place.
So, Richard is still on this getting out of the South plan, but his household expenses eat up all his money. For the first time in his life, Richard thinks about stealing.
He gets the opportunity when he’s promoted to bellboy. All the bellboys make a little money on the side bootlegging liquor, and he follows along.
Richard ups the stakes when he gets a job at a movie theater, moving from simple bootlegging to actually stealing as part of an organized scheme. Richard isn’t exactly a natural thief. He’s scared and sweaty all the time, as he worries that the whole thing will blow up in his face and land him in jail. Plus, the people that he is working with are totally sketchy, so he doesn’t even know if he can trust them.
Miraculously, the first day of thievery goes well, and so do the next few. Richard makes $670 in a week. Richard only needs around $1,200, so he wants to get while the getting is good.
Yeah, not so much. When you deal with sketchy people, they tend to threaten you when you say you’re leaving.
Richard works for another week and then decides that it’s time to go. He gathers his money, steals a gun from the neighbors just for good measure, purchases supplies, and tells his mom that he’s out.
Then he’s on a train to the North, vowing never to steal again.