Chapter 1.The Odd Databases
The movie was good they both enjoyed it. Jake liked to think of himself as somewhat of a movie critic, so he always commented on the screenplay, the acting, and the way the cinematography was done. They had gone and gotten a milkshake, from one of his favorite spots, Dave’s it was an old time soda shop that never changed.
When they got home Jake said thanks and disappeared into the basement. He hadn’t mentioned the data from the laptop since their drive to the theatre. But she thought somehow he was intent on getting back to it.
She was right he almost ran into the basement to see what his little miner had found. It had found a lot of stuff mostly junk that gets accumulated over time but some of the stuff was interesting. There were some spreadsheets and a few word files but what caught his interest was the database files.
The miner had found quite a few small Database files. Each file was small in size but had no name for the user who created or last used them. Someone had turned off the OS’s recording switch or they had deleted the information after it was written. Not a hard thing to do but kind of an odd thing to be done. Jake started opening the database files most of them were just a simple single table with three or four columns of data. None of it really made much sense. Each one had a ID column which was auto generated and each one had date stamp but most of them had only a single data column of numbers, one was just notes. It was crazy. None of the tables linked, none of the ids matched. So if it was one database it had been spread over three different hard drives. And only 2 of them could ever be in the computer at one time. He thought what kind of a moron programmer would design a db like that.
He continued to work with the databases for several hours. At 4:30 Kathy called over the intercom, ”Jake, it is 4:30 and you need some sleep for tomorrow time to quit for the night.”
“Ok.” He replied like any other night.
“Hey you I mean it.”
“Ok. Ok” and with that he flipped the 3 monitors off he had been using and went to bed.
He woke at 10:00 that morning. After showering and getting dressed, he headed down stairs and ate a bagel with some cream cheese. He had not seen Kathy yet, and that was unusual. He went into the basement and checked his schedule on the computer. He did not have any meetings for today. He opened a web page to see what he had for projects that he had to accomplish. He saw he had three messages waiting in the project manager. The first message concerned Boland’s database. “Oh Crap,” he thought he did not even look at it last night. He had forgotten to do any work the night before because of that stupid odd data on the laptop. He was rather mad at himself. The second message was concerning a new project they had just gotten, a “web fantasy football engine”. He needed to schedule a meeting with the crew to go over the design aspect of it. He browsed inside the project manager to the scheduling tool and set up a meeting for Friday. He called his office to check in and started working refusing to think about the laptop data.
The next few days went by fairly normal he had the new laptop up and running. The data from it set on his server untouched, because he was still mad that it had drawn him in so completely. Kathy came into the basement to use a computer to check her email. ”Good morning Kathy” said Jake.
“Well good morning to you too Jake.” She replied. “Have you called the Whites to see what time they expect us tomorrow?”
“No I haven’t. I will though,” he said reaching for his head set. He put the headset on and dialed the Phone number from memory. “Hello Helen. Is Keith around?”
“No he is down at the store today.” she replied.
“Ok. Well I guess I can ask you the question. What time are we supposed to come over tomorrow?”
“You know you are welcome anytime Jake. Keith is planning to barbeque though so,” she paused. “I would say three-ish.”
“Alright then around three it is then. Anything we can bring?”
“Nothing I can think of we have the meat, I am making a potato salad, Keith just stocked the old soda machine, and I was going to get a pie from the store this afternoon. So I think we are pretty well set, but if you think of anything your welcome to bring it.”
“Ok. Thanks Helen, we’ll see you tomorrow then.” He pushed the button on the headset that hung up the phone, and turned to Kathy “did you catch all that?”
“Three tomorrow Barbeque don’t bring anything. Right?”
“You got it. So we should stop and get some of that imported cheese that Helen likes so much.”
“Yea that is a good idea.” It always amazed her how good his memory could be. Here is a man who can’t remember to eat or sleep, doesn’t know what day of the week it is nine times out of ten, but yet remembers he should always bring something when invited for dinner, and even remembers the couple’s favorite cheese. He was truly a unique individual. “Oh by the way what’s new with the data from the laptop?”
“Nothing,” he said in a downtrodden voice. “I haven’t looked at it since the night we went to the movies. Did I tell you what happened?”
“No. I don’t think so. What?”
“After the movie I started digging around in the data all kinds of weird databases that made no sense at all. Anyway, I was so wrapped up in the oddness of it I didn’t do anything else. When I figured out what I had done the next day, it made me mad. So I haven’t looked at it since.”
“Really? What do you mean oddness?”
Jake stood and walked to a white board that covered most of one wall. He cleared a section and began drawing as he talked. “Ok. On one hard drive, which we call drive C, there are 3 DB files. Each one has one or two tables. Each table has three or four columns. But the data does not seem to connect in any way. The other two hard drives have even more files but have the same type of format. If all the data does connect which, I think it does somehow, then you would have to switch hard drives around while you were using them, because you can only have two hard drives in the laptop at any one time,” He paused. Then continued on about the information he had found. “So you see what I mean about oddness?”
“Yea. But I have a few questions. First, why would someone cut a database into all those little databases? Second, How big of a table would it be to hold all the connections? Lastly, did any of the tables have names or anything?”
“Well I can’t figure out the why question unless it was purely to confuse people you didn’t want to see the information. How big, less than a megabyte I would say. Maybe two or three megabyte but not much more than one I think. And the last one,” He thought for a moment going over it in his mind. “No there wasn’t any names or locations or anything.”
“Could the connection or the names be in other types of files?”
“Yea it could be,” he started thinking she could tell that was something he hadn’t checked yet and he was running all the possibilities thru his mind. “Why didn’t I think of that.” He rushed back to his chair and swung it around to face the set of monitors. After a few minutes he said, “Ok, here is something interesting. Now we have a hole nether set of tables same structure but these are written in .txt files and they all have Text values instead of number values.”
“What was that guy’s name you thought was the laptop owner?” Kathy asked thru the gap in the monitors.
“Leon, Mr. Leon R. Fletcher. Why?”
“I was going to see if I can find anything out on our friend Leon.”
“Any suggestions on where to start looking for him?”
“Well Maybe if you look thru some of his documents you might find something to give you a lead.” He told her how to get to the documents on the network, and was back digging thru the data.
They worked like that her digging thru memos, and other word documents. Then hoping on the web and searching every time she thought she might have a new clue. He filtered thru file types adding files to a subfolder that he thought helped make up the database. Kathy stretched her arms above her head, and as she brought them down she glanced at her watch. “Wow its 7:30 already.”
“Really what time did we start?”
“I’m not sure I think it was around two though. I am hungry how about you?”
“Not really but I guess I should eat.”
“Yea you should. Want me to make something or do you want to go get something?”
Suddenly he stood twisting his back and said, “let’s go.”
“Ok,” she said. More than just a little shocked at his suggestion and quickness he never acted this way. He was always a just one more minute kind of guy. As she stood her computer beeped. She looked down and scanned thru the search results. “I think I found Leon,” she said.
“Print it we can read it on the way,” he said as he started out of the basement. He stopped and turned to her. “What would you like to eat?”
“You know I am really in the mood for some Chinese.”
“Yea that sounds good.” He looked at her and then at himself. She was wearing nice jeans and a sweeter. He was in a pair of old sloppy fitting shorts and a loose tank top. “Um let me go slip something else on before we go.” With that he left the room.
Something strange was going on, she thought. He never noticed things like what he was wearing. Granted he was good at knowing what to wear, and he had great taste in clothes. But he never realized he needed to change if they were going out somewhere. There was that thing with him getting up to go before she even made the decision too. Did she make the decision? That was another thing he had made the decision to go out and eat. He was one step away from being a total recluse, but he had decided they would go out, just like that. The printer had finished printing. She walked over to it and picked up the pages from the tray.
He returned down stairs and she was waiting for him in the living room at the bottom of the stairs. She was reading thru the pages she had printed. She stood when she heard him on the stairs. “You ready?” he asked.
“Let’s take the Capri,” he said with an evil grin.
“Ok.” In the time she had known him she had only seen him drive the Capri a total of four times. It was his mad car, he drove it when he was upset and wanted to drive very fast. However he did not seem mad tonight.
They walked to the garage and he got the key from the rack by the back door. She had never ridden in the Capri she realized. He had told her all about it, how it had been a total clunker when he got it and he had a few friends in school that had help him fix it up, and how when he joined the army he would send money to a guy that totally rebuilt the body out of fiber glass. He claimed he could beat a corvette hands down no trouble at all. He even had it on a vanity license plate “VETEATR”. He got in the driver side and started the engine. It started right up. He let it idle while he put on a set of driving glove and then his seat belt. She felt a little bit awkward. It was like he was in a church performing some ritual. She had never seen him like this about anything.
He put the car in reverse and backed it out of the driveway. He put it in gear and pushed the play button on the radio. The music was so loud you couldn’t even hear yourself thinking. He quickly turned it down, and they were off. He didn’t raced the car at first he drove very normal just cruising thru town towards the freeway. Once he got on the freeway he was gone. He drove like a man being chased by an axe murder. He definitely knew how to handle the car, she thought. He turned the radio off and asked, “so did you find Leon?”
“Yea I think this is Leon here. I first found him on a web page that lets you search for deceased people by year and name. From there I got the information he had died in New York City. He was murdered.”
“Murdered?” he asked.
“Yea they think he was one of the ones killed by the Cabbie Killer. This cab driver used to kill yuppies he would pick up from the airport. Always the same, single white males expensive suits and a talking on a cell phone. He would drive them to a remote parking garage and make them strip then shoot them. The cabbie killer was killed in a shootout with police officers. But NYC believed he is the one that murdered Leon,” replied Kathy
“So we were both right then?” Jake asked.
“Well I thought the laptop was stolen and you thought that maybe the guy died. So we were both right.”
“Yea I guess so.”
“Did you find anything else on him.”
“No not yet but it shouldn’t be too hard now that we know who he is. The New York Times didn’t have any other information on him. In fact they only had that he was a john doe to begin with and his obituary. “
“What did his obituary say?”
“I’ll read it to you. “Leon R. Fletcher was shot to death in a senseless killing in order to rob him of a few worldly possessions. Services for Mr. Fletcher will be held in Indianapolis Indiana at the Bright Hills Cemetery. Mr. Fletcher had No family but shall be missed by his friends and colleagues.” That’s it. Kind of sad. The guy had no family just people from work to bury him.”
There was a very long silence in the car and Jake was not driving near as fast as he had been she noticed. Then she realized why. He had no family. His mother and father had died. He was close to a cousin but that was it, at least that was all she knew about. “Does it say what company?” he asked.
“No. I read you the whole thing. Why?”
“Well, who paid for his funeral, and who were these mourners? Someone had him shipped to Indiana to be buried, but who?”
“Yea I see what you mean. Well that will give me another direction to go looking in wont it. We know what company he worked for right. Because it is on the letter head in the memos.”
“Your right. Now we are getting somewhere. I think I will ask Keith to tell me where he got the laptop from see if I can back track it.”
“What good will that do?” she asked as he turned off the freeway.
“None at all. I just want to know if he sold me something he knew was stolen,” he pulled into a small shopping strip and parked near Tony Wu’s fine Chinese Dining.
“I will find out everything I can about the company Leon worked for when we get back tonight.”
“Good idea. That may shed some light on the data situation. I still am no closer to making it work.” He said with a lot of frustration in his voice.
They went in and ate dinner. Tony Wu’s was a buffet restaurant. They talked some about the things they could try. But they mostly just ate and had a good time. Tony came over to their table with their fortune cookies. This was a tradition here. The seventy-eight year old Tony always came to each table greeted the people and hand chose there fortune cookies. Tony was Chinese imagrant who had changed his name to Tony when he immigrated to the U.S. “May I say you make a lovely couple tonight. And may the road rise quickly to meet your feet and speed you on your journey.” He placed a cookie in front of each of them. Then turned and went to another table.
Jake opened his fortune and read the small piece of paper. Chuckled then asked “what does your say?”
“What’s so funny?”
“I will tell you in a minute first tell me what your fortune says.”
“It says ‘Risky adventures hold great rewards.’ Now what does your say that is so funny?”
“Mine says, “ he cleared his throat then continued, “Your virtues come to light.” He started laughing again.
“Ok what is so funny? That was a pretty mundane fortune.”
He leaned across the table and whispered, “reread your fortune and add the words ‘for you in bed’ after it.” She gave him a what are you up to look. “Just do it,” he said with an evil grin.
She swallowed the piece of cookie then read out loud “Risky adventures hold great rewards for you in bed.” They both laughed and she blushed “ Ok now read yours,” she said.
“Oh come on. I read mine what was yours.” He slid Kathy the piece of paper and she read his out loud as well, “Your virtues come to light for you in bed.” They both laughed again. This time he turned a little pink. She said “hmm oh really?” and they laughed again.
He picked up the check and went to the front and paid it. Kathy excused herself to the bathroom while he was waiting on the credit card machine.
Once back in the car she kept thinking of what Tony had said. He had called them a lovely couple. They acted like a couple most of the time. Both, in public and at home. But it just kept nagging at her. They weren’t a couple though. They never had been. “But why not?” she asked herself.
“Why not what?” Jake asked as he pulled the car onto the freeway.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“You just said But why not? And I asked you but why not what?”
“I did. Oh sorry. I was just thinking out loud.” She couldn’t believe she had said that out loud.
“Ok so what are you thinking about or is it to personal?” he asked.
Great now what was she going say? She thought of telling him the truth but what would he say. She was afraid of that. What if he just thought of her as a friend how would that effect their work relation, but Helen had told her that Jake was crazy about her. She remembered her fortune ‘Risky adventures hold great rewards.’ Here it goes she told herself. “I was just thinking about what Tony had said.”
“You mean that road thing. It is a old Chinese well wish.”
“No. Not that, the other thing about us being a good-looking couple.”
“He has said that before. We have told him we are just –“ the words stopped. He had just remembered what she had said “But why not?” It made since now, she was asking herself why were they not a couple and it slipped out subconsciously. Now what did he say? What could he say? He could say the same thing back. That would make her come up with an answer then he would be safe and he could think real fast. “Ok so why are we not a couple? You tell me?”
Before he had even finished the words the sound of a police siren reached their ears. When he looked down, he was doing 85-mph. He turned on his blinker and started heading for the side of the road.