By Dan Moren
February 26, 2021 12:55 PM PT
The Back Page: Dial F for Forstall
Lawyers. I don’t hold much with ’em as a rule, but they pay well, and I’ve got more than a few app subscriptions to my name. So when this fellow walks through my door with the troubled expression that usually means an NVRAM reset, I knew this was the kind of case that could put all my in-game currency problems behind me.
The name’s Spotlight. I find things.
“Pull up a chair,” I said. “What can I do for you?”
“I represent a…large fruit concern.” His evasive expression was more than just shifty—it’d gone all the way to Caps Lock. “We need you to find someone.”
“Supply chain not paying their bills again? Or you still trying to track down those leakers?”
“Neither.” He pulled out a light blue folder and slid it across my desktop. “Former employee. Lit out almost a decade ago, without so much as an email forward.”
“Tough break. Why now?”
“That’s not your concern, Mr. Spotlight.” He was glued up tight, this one, with pentalobe screws to boot. “We just need a phone number.”
“What do I look like, the Contacts app?” I said, sliding the folder back to him.
His fingers drummed a marimba on his thigh, jittering like he was trying to keep his screen from going to sleep. “Let’s just say there are some people who want to ask him some questions.” He gave me a meaningful look. “In a couple of weeks.”
“Ah.” I could do the math—I had a built-in calculator and everything. “And I’m guessing you want to find him first.”
“Let’s just say he knows where the icons are buried.”
Any company big enough, they’ve always got some 1s and 0s in their closet. Me, that’s why I always reformat securely. “Okay, let’s say I find him for you. What’s in it for me?”
“I know you, Spotlight. You’ve got…appetites. Let’s say we port you over to an M1 with all the RAM you can eat. How would that strike you?”
It sounded good. Too good. This guy might think he had my eyes spinning like beachballs, but this wouldn’t be my first platform migration. “I know how this ends—I get Sherlocked out to pasture like my pal Watson. Live out the rest of my days in a page setup dialog box, with only a dogcow for company. Thanks, but no thanks.”
“At least take a look at the contents,” he suggested, nodding at the folder with a sly grin. “That’s what you do, isn’t it?”
I had to admit: he had my number. And my curiosity. I flipped the folder open. Just one lone JPG inside and it didn’t take me more than a quick look. I met his eyes. “Him? Really? I thought you’d left all that leather stitching behind you.”
“What can I say? Sometimes a calendar should be a calendar.”
“Fine. I’ll do this one for you, but on one condition.”
“Exclusive rights. I don’t want to see Alfred or LaunchBar nosing around this job, mucking up my leads.”
He put up his hands. “No problem. It’s all you, Spotty.” He was halfway out the door when he glanced over his shoulder. “So, you have a lead then?”
“Sure, I got a lead.”
“And here I thought privacy was important to you fruit sellers.”
I got a laugh for that one and then he was out the door, gone the way of 32-bit apps. Just as well. Trade secrets and all.
Yeah, I had a lead. An old…maybe friend was overselling it. We hadn’t always gotten along, but we’d had a few good times together. Wasn’t even sure they’d even talk to me, but in this game, you did what you had to. I picked up the phone, but I didn’t dial—I knew they’d be listening anyway.
“Hey, Siri. Where’s Scott Forstall?”
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]