Dale sat at the table at the Lapin Rouge. His day was already beginning all wrong, the morning after. First, last night he had laid his passport on the dresser near the bed in his hotel room, and covered it up later with a napkin, so that he panicked and thought it missing after reading the newspaper and placing THAT over the napkin already hiding the passport and when he was done with his coffee he had put the saucer and coffee cup on top of that and so, he ended up searching for his passport an extra ten minutes instead of keeping it in the side pocket of his laptop bag like usual. Then there had been the hassle with the pipe. He still needed a proper one. And moments ago, someone had walked away with that laptop bag.
Trixeme walked up from the east side of the Avenue Gobelins and when he saw Dale sitting at his table, his eyes lit up, he gave a heads-up nod, and walked over to him.
"Ah, my American friend, how’s it going today?”
“Lousy! Someone just fucking ripped off my laptop, passport, everything is gone!” The look on Dale’s face told Trixeme that things had gone well.
“I will get your computer back for you.” Trixeme had well accomplished technique. Indeed, Dale would get his laptop back, but he would pay a dear price for it as well. Such was how Trix worked, on a good day.
“I happen to know a few of these… these parasites who prey on good people like you.
I will spend a few hours running one or two of them down. I am pretty sure I have a good idea of who it was.” Trix certainly did, indeed. Maybe when he has sweated it out for a couple hours, I will return it to him. For a price. First he must be made to be bankable.
By bankable, Trixeme meant, he must be on his toes and willing to use his ATM card to draw down at least a couple of hundred dollars which Trix could then bring back to Claudine.
"You will need to offer a reward, you know? I think if you offer a few hundred dollars that the thieves would turn out very happy to return your computer. They don’t really want it either, you see, to be caught in possession of stolen property would put them in bad state with the flics, who know all of them, anyway.”
“How much do you think I should offer?” asked Dale, biting his nails and grabbing for a cigarette from the pack jammed into his front shirt pocket.
“I think I can do that.”
Dale had enough on hand to swing it, €250 in cash from the foreign exchange, of which he had used about €45 already, and he could take out a couple hundred at an ATM. He did not like having to do that, but, while Dale was not a millionaire like Guru, he did have enough funds to cover, theoretically, his entire trip (or stay, rather) here in France. This would set him back a night in the hotel and a few days worth of food, but he had more. Not an unlimited supply, you understand, but he need not freak out. What he was freaked out about was someone walking around with all his computer information, his personal connections, his online art and all the rest…
His entire creative world resided inside the little black metal and plastic machine. You could think yourself into anything, but thinking your way back out of a strange foreign city without your interior roadmaps, would be like losing Ariadne’s thread in the escape from the Labyrinth.
“That sounds OK, not to worry. I will return. Meantime why don’t you go have a drink, go to the Moulin, or go back to that place went went last night? I won’t take all day.”
Trixeme then was out of Dale’s face faster than Dale could take time to think about what should he do next, when two of the street folk Dale had met while scoring his hash came walking down the avenue and spotted Dale in his café seat. Swaggeringly approaching from the café fence was Jacques, his bandana lending him the air of a phantom engineer. Jacques was not Parisian but Canadian, and only in Paris to collect some money which would reset his life in Montreal. The bright lights were fine, but he was in the street due to a desire to keep within the counterculture. The evening life for Jacques, then, was all about going to raves, scoring dope and pills and redistributing them with a little markup on the side, plus the ability to beg a high off the buyer. He looked at Dale as if another mark, and yet, could see Dale was two steps away from being stranded in the street as any one of Jacques' daily associates.
“I am trying to get to you to help you,” said Jacques. Whether it was a dope score or his laptop, Dale wasn’t sure, but Jacques had been the friendliest and kindest of the several he had approached at the Notre Dame stoner hangout.
“I hope you can. Somebody’s gotta help me – my laptop is stolen and I’m really not in the mood to discuss getting high at this point.” Dale flipped back his hair from his forehead, a gesture he often used when trying to keep a distance for himself from someone.
“What can I do for you though? I can keep my eyes out for you, if I see someone who looks like he could know, I will ask about a laptop. Meanwhile, Hollow-A, I would just care to sit and have a coffee for myself, as well.” Jacques’ companions had slithered off along the avenue, and he was alone with Dale. Watching a pigeon grab crusts from a sidewalk sweeping, Dale seemed to stare right through Jacques into the traffic on the street behind him.