“Dallas Bard.” Jonathan read the name out loud. He gazed up and watched a canal boat glide by. Smoke, stinking of frying fat, wafted up from it. Tourists snapped pictures of the gables, of him. In a reflex, he hunched up as small as he could, as he was used to ever since the book came out. He straightened up again, when the boat disappeared under the bridge. One day, he would get back at her. One day, he would tell his side of the story and show everyone what a world-class bitch she was. But he needed his notebooks. He’d plotted his revenge in his notebooks. He stared at the container with identical business cards. Nothing came up. He didn’t know a Dallas Bard. The name didn’t ring any bells. All the card ventured was a name, a company name, Messiah LLC, an email address and a telephone number that started with +1, a US number, which he wasn’t gonna call. It would cost him a ton.

He put the card down and rummaged through the papers. Most dealt with a meeting that seemed to be some sort of internet conference. Most papers were mere technical blabla. He leafed through. No names, no addresses. He stuffed it all back, locking his gaze on the laptop. He slid with his finger over the smooth surface, hesitated, pulled his finger away. It already felt like he was invading someone’s privacy. His finger slipped back to laptop. His thumb joined. Between them, he lifted the laptop, no more than an inch, felt its lightness. His breath hitched, when his eye caught sight of a black-covered Moleskine notebook. One of his! He tempered his hope right away. Literally millions of people used these books. Millions.

It wasn’t his. As soon as he spotted the tiny handwriting, he knew that. The writer had used a black felt pen with a very fine point and the lines set so close together that he couldn’t even begin to discover which language the writing was in. He flicked through. Some pages were filled with plain text, some had addresses and what looked like phone numbers, but most pages were scribbled top to bottom with mathematical formulas and equations. With a shudder of disgust he thought back at the eternal struggle with math in high school. He leafed quickly past the formulas to the notebook’s inner pocket in the back. It held two tickets for the Rijksmuseum, one for the Anne Frank House, a Segway flyer, and a clipping from an English-language newspaper. He threw a glance at the article. A murder and a suicide in the States. Some lines were blacked out with a thick marker. He shoved the tickets, flyer and article back into the pocket and concentrated on the pages with the addresses that were scribbled throughout the notebook, but all he could read were the street numbers, the street names as undecipherable as the rest of the notebook’s texts. The digit 8 wasn’t a Dutch one, which would make sense if the bag belonged to an American.

Jonathan snapped the elastic band back around the notebook and shoved it back into the bag. If he wanted to return this bag, he had to call this Dallas Bard guy, which would send him right over this month’s phone plan. Jonathan punched in the number, but as soon as he heard it ring, the bag’s insides started vibrating. He found the vibrating iPhone hidden under the cabling mess. The screen showed a phone number in big white digits. His number. Startled, Jonathan disconnected and stared at the iPhone in his hand. Slide to unlock, said the message on the screen and even before he realized, he had swiped the screen.

His finger barely left the screen when it flicked to life. Instead of a request for a password iMessage opened, indicating someone typing on the other end of the line. Within a second a text appeared.

Dallas! Dude! Where are you? We’re all at Kras. Everyone’s DYING to meet you!

Before he could decide what to do the next line appeared.

Dude! Drinks at the Winter Garden. Now!

In a reflex, Jonathan dropped the phone back into the bag. Hurriedly and with trembling fingers, he closed the Velcro straps, as he tried to shake the feeling of being caught. Come on, he scolded himself, this was what he had wanted. He wasn’t breaking in or hacking or whatever. He was returning a guy his gear.

Jonathan’s fingers brushed the bag’s black shoulder strap, the white Crumpler logo. ‘MT’ had been the sender of the messages. Kras had to be Hotel Krasnapolsky, only a quick bike ride away from where he was now. Dallas Bard might be there. And at least this MT, who definitely seemed to know the man.