It was the sort of terminally uncool place that would offer an afternoon Groupon on shrimp cocktail to make up for weeknight dead zones. The sort of place where people wore sweatshirts at the bar and everybody found their smart phone more interesting than the decor.
I scanned the booths. Gaga on the sound system. Kids plug-and-playing DJ with their iPhones. No respect for the trade anymore. It was easy to spot Topher. He was the red-eyed boozer I was looking for, three sheets to the wind on that drink made out of white hot chocolate, Kahlua, and whiskey in an ice cube, one Four Square check-in away from being declared Pharaoh of Cupxor.
"You're that detective?" he asked as I approached his booth.
"Yes," I said, trying to decide whether to lean against the wall or keep my hands in my pockets. I decided to smooth the front of my houndstooth vest. "You did a job for me before."
"Before the present. Before whatever is going to happen in the next five minutes."
"That present, ah?" he leaned back, a boozy, bloated Lemmy Caution. "Technically every event exists in the philosophical before."
Lady Gaga ended, Times New Viking faded in. Topher snapped his fingers. "The queue was five songs."
I flicked the paisley cuff of my shirtsleeve. "I need you to find a missing Macbook."
The fee was the usual, on a tab, to be paid never. Topher was just lucky I hung around with him and made him look almost acceptable. He took his Macbook out and thumped it on the table. The only info I had to go on was her name.
"Here it is," he said after five or six seconds. He pointed to a Google map.
"Ew," I said, noticing the address. "Brooklyn."
Elliot said my breakup must have been due to the sweater curse, an unexplained phenomenon where anyone who gives their significant other a hand-knit sweater gets dumped. The only way to break the curse, Elliot said, was to destroy the sweater.
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