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We kind of want to hate this guy right from the very beginning. When he shows up at the boy's house, his taxi runs over his sweet little kitten, and for some reason he thinks that replacing it with an angry old tomcat is a fair trade. Yeah, dude, that's like replacing this with this. In other words, not so much.
So the opal miner, with his slicked-back hair and clueless ways, acts as a catalyst for all of the adventures that the boy and Lettie embark upon. When his gambling problems become too much and he kills himself right on the edge of the Hempstock's property, he somehow awakens the flea—who can sense the neighborhood's financial woes and tries to fix them by (sometimes literally) throwing money at them.