It was a rainy night; cold too. I got the call from 5th precinct: another protocol had taken the long trip to nowheres-ville.
"Whadda we got here, Charlie?" i asked O'Malley, the flatfoot in charge of keeping the press hounds at bay.
"Not sure, sir" he mewled back. Something was wrong. O'Malley was shaken up. He was a good cop; something was definitely wrong.
"Okay, let's take a look at the corpse." O'Malley took a deep breath and lifted up the sheet. I gasped out loud; damn if it wasn't ol' Mr. Killer-App himself: EMail.
I scouted the apartment for leads. This was gonna be a tough one. Mr. EMail had fallen in with a rough crowd late in life. Pictures of Nigerian princes covered the walls. Unused S/MIME keys littered the floor. Poor guy. Once a king, now an afterthought.
"Hey! We caught this guy snooping around!" one of the shirts said pushing a punk kid in front of him. "Go on & tell 'em your name"
"He doesn't have to," I say, "I'd recognize young Mr. Orkut anywhere. Say... weren't you lost in the Amazon jungle or something?"
"Amazon? What kind of chump do you take me for, copper?" said the young punk. "I've an honest job down in Rio. ask anybody."
"Okay Orkut. I might just do that. But what with wave and buzz missing in action... you really want me talking to facebook?"
"Okay copper, I'll tell ya' what ya wanna know. But i don't know what happened to buzz. I heard he retired and moved to Florida with Google Reader."
That last bit hit like a punch in the gut. I had forgot about Reader's "retirement." They say it was her decision, but no one knows for sure. When you can't keep a classy dame like google reader safe on the streets and louts like G+ are running the show rather than cooling the sheets at Sun Quinten?
It stinks, i tell you. Stinks. Like yesterday's session keys.
The coroner finally arrived and started poking around the body. "HOLY SMOKES! HE'S NOT DEAD!" he says.
Sure enough, his breath just barely fogs the broken screen of my iPhone 6+. "O'Malley! get your guys to clear out the press, we need room to get Mr. EMail to the hearse.. er.. ambulance."
So there i am leaning over the old jake, helping the coroner wrestle him onto a gurney. And then it hits me, his breath smells bad; real bad, the kind of bad you don't get naturally, like a mix of Hong Kong rot-gut and half refined Texas sweet crude. I used to catch a whiff of that smell whenever I went to the talkies cinema off shoreline road. It smelled... like Microsoft.
"Hey Jay," I call to the coroner as he's wheeling EMail out the door, "while you're down at the hospital, get one of the saw-bones to test the old man for Exchange."
"EXCHANGE!?" he cries back, "you don't think he's mixed up with the Bellevue mob, do you?"
"I'm not sure, Jay. but test him anyway," I answer, "call it a hunch, i think i might have caught wind of a rat."
The rest of the night goes like a million other nights: buried in paperwork and drowned by cheap scotch. As the sun rises through the acrid smog of Silicon Valley, I find myself lost in thought and mumbling to myself, "Microsoft, it can't be you, can it?"