The city is more full of hard cases than a whiskey warehouse. But that sign on my door says walk-ins are welcome, even if each new client at my hole-in-the-wall detective agency chips away a little of my faith in humanity like a sculptor at marble. But when I saw that client there–duck’s ass haircut, popped collar, pink polo shirt, the works–I knew I was in for another deep dive into the underbelly of a city that never sleeps.

The name’s Chad Schmidt, and I’m a private eye for douches.

The client approached my desk, the sharp shadows from my blinds cutting into his tanned skin. “Check it. Rush is in two weeks, brah, and someone took all our Jaeger.”

I leaned back in my chair, the springs squealing like a mob snitch under the hot lamps. “You messin’ with me? All of your bros’ Jaeger is missing?”

“Jeeah, brah. We went out for tacos, and all 500 bottles were gone! So my bros and I were like ‘sick’ and I was all ‘dude.'” It was a sad story with a sad end. This city filled libraries with stories like that, libraries that left them so moulder on sad, forgotten shelves caked with sad forgotten dust.

“Dude, chill out,” I said. I placed one hand on the revolver taped under my desk. A desperate man with a desperate story had a way of turning on you like a wounded bobcat, after all. And it was clear to anyone who saw him that this man was hurting inside. “What’s it got to do with this guy right here?”

“We, like, heard about the time you totally found Phi Qoppa Beta’s missing kegs.”

“Totally, brah. No one messes with the Phi Qops and their sick keggers.” I massaged my temples. That had been a hard case. A lot of good booze had been lost, and the newest pledges had even wound up stone cold sober. That’s the part about being a douchebag detective that they don’t put in the books, the cases that keep you waking up at night in a cold sweat.

“So you’re all about finding my bros’ Jaeger?” There was hope in the client’s tone. Hope is a dangerous thing in this town, a town that enjoys making hope die a slow, screaming death or running it out on a rail.

“Lay it down for me, brah.”

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