“So, Candice, got a sec?”
I didn’t really, but when the night desk clerk where you’re staying, who doesn’t say anything even though the place doesn’t allow pets but you’ve acquired a cat who keeps sneaking in your room, wants to talk, you would say, just as I did. “Sure, what’s up?”
“I’m not sure you can help me.”
When they started like that, they wanted magic. They weren’t sure that the stories they’d heard or the things they’d observed with their own eyes were true. They were afraid of being laughed at, by friends, family, even me. “Oh, the magic, that’s not real. Just a con. To earn money.” I looked like I’d earned a lot of money, clearly.
“What’s going on?” I played dumb, as if I didn’t see her inner struggle.
She closed her eyes. “I think my boyfriend’s cheating on me.”
I waited. And waited. So did she.
“And you think this because—why, exactly?”
She shrugged. “Different things.”
“I’m not a private detective,” I said.
“I know, I just. You know things.”
“Normally the same things you could know if you open your eyes. I don’t mean to be mean, but have you confronted him?”
She shook her head. “What if I’m wrong? I love him.”
But you don’t trust him. Familiar story.
“I can pay,” she said.
How did you know my weakness—grocery money.
“I have a picture of him.” She handed me a snapshot, taken from a fancy dinner party with fancy dinner pary clothes.