A homicide unit in the near future. Captain Philip Marlowe sat in his office facing a bank of computer monitors with a face on most of them.
Another monitor came on and a face filled the screen. “Sir, we have a name from a CI,” shouted detective Leanne “Pepper” Anderson. “I think it might be our killer.”
“Great work,” Philip said. “Run the name through Dani Beck, and let’s see what she can find out about this guy. What’s the name?”
Pepper looked a slip of paper. “It says here the name is Jack Spang.”
An hour later, detective Dani Beck’s face filled a monitor in front of Philip. Pepper was already talking with Philip. Dani was frowning. “Captain, this isn’t good.”
Philip swilled his chair to face her monitor. “What’d you find out?”
“Well, sir, Jack Spang, if that’s his real name, doesn’t have a Facebook account. Nor Twitter,
LinkedIn, or Google Plus. He isn’t on YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram. I can’t find him on Google either.”
Philip was stunned. “What about…”
Dani cut him off. “Tumblr, Flickr or Reddit? Nada. I also checked the DMV. Apparently, he has never owned a car or had a driver’s license. I also checked Social Security. There’s no record of a Jack Spang ever having a Social Security number.”
‘What? That can’t be,” Philip said. “He must have some digital footprint.”
“Don’t be so sure Captain,” Pepper said. “My grandmother once told me that in the olden days, people didn’t use computers. Maybe he doesn’t drive either.”
Philip raised his eyebrows. “Didn’t have computers? How did they communicate?”
Pepper thought for a moment. “Well, she said that they would talk face to face. She said sometimes they sent letters.”
“What’s a letter?” Philip asked.
“I think that a sheet of paper that people used to write on,” answered Pepper. “I read about in ancient history.”
“Okay, I’ll bite. What’s paper?” Philip asked.
“If memory serves me,” answered Pepper. I think they used to cut down trees to make paper.”
Philip and Dani both exclaimed, “Cut down trees!”
“I know, sounds barbaric, doesn’t it?” Pepper said. “Anyway, that’s what my grandmother said.”
Philip thought for a moment. Will. If he isn’t on the internet and doesn’t have a driver’s license and doesn’t have a Social Security number, that can mean only one thing.”
Pepper and Dani both answered, “He doesn’t exist?”
“I was going to say, the guys in vice are screwing with us again. Forget about Jack Spang and get back to work.”