I thought he'd vanished from the city years ago. In fact, when I was close enough to the door, I noticed a tiny yellow label, with the name of the shop. He'd simply relocated on the first floor of a barely visible building. But then I never got the impression he was particularly interested in attracting clients.

All the houses look the same in the city centre, with lovely old façades, but it's only when you open the door that you figure out what they are really like: some have grand staircases with marble tiles and stucco and gentle light falling from a window in the roof, some are rickety affairs with narrow, slanted steps, walls that haven't been painted in ages and magical permanent dust. This house was the shabby kind–of course it would be. As for the shop, it was situated in an attic-like den on the first floor, encumbered with more computers parts than you'd think is possible, and yes, I know you've seen lots of computer spare parts. Just take my word for it.

"So what's the problem?" he asked. Three words into my explanation about the error message that had been popping on my screen, he cut me short, opened my computer and puffed his cheeks. "Couldn't you get more dust in there?"

As I carried on explaining that I really couldn't afford to lose that computer to a short-circuit and could he tell me for sure whether it was a serious problem or not and yes, I did clean the dust from time to time, he tossed the charger around a bit, unplugged it, plugged it again, turned on my computer and let me watch as no error message appeared and everything looked just fine. I was starting to feel foolish, but he just smiled and shrugged, and told me to come back should anything weird appear. I asked one last time what he thought that was all about. He had no idea.

"But then I'll tell you something," he said. "When people bring computers here, they start working again. I don't know why."

I thought he was joking and it was time to laugh politely, but he went on:

"It's true. Computers that won't work anywhere else–I turn them on, and they just seem to be fixed. Last time, there was a guy who had seen six or seven technicians about his laptop. Everybody told him it was a desperate case. He brought it to me, I pressed the button, and everything worked just fine. He never had a problem again."

I wanted to pay him, but he refused. He didn't charge for thaumaturgy, he said.

"And do something about that dust", he said as I walked out again.


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