Madison sat at her home computer and started her search. She quickly found a list of NASA administrators and figured out which one was in charge when the first budgets mentioning SDI went through. She was pleased to see he was still alive. But having his name didn’t give her any way to reach him. She called Cindy.
“What’s up?” Cindy asked.
“I have a guy’s name and I need to interview him. How do I find his contact info?” Madison asked.
“LinkedIn?” Cindy suggested.
“Nope. Nothing there. He’s super old. Probably retired before LinkedIn even existed.”
“Got his birthday and his full name?” Cindy asked.
“Yup. It’s on his Wikipedia page.”
“Easy peasy. Text them to me,” Cindy instructed.
Madison put her call on speaker phone, switched to the message app, sent Cindy the information, and waited. She could hear the rapid-fire keyboard taps at the other end of the call.
“He’s in a nursing home outside Indianapolis. Texting you the info now,” she said.
“How did you do that?” Madison asked.
“I pulled his credit report,” Cindy explained.
“Okay. I repeat, how did you do that?”
Cindy laughed. “The credit reporting agencies have been super sloppy with data security for years. Everyone’s data is readily available on the dark web. Want me to pull your mom’s?”
“No! Oh my God. That’s crazy.”
“Yeah, people see all of these breach notifications and think if they change their passwords, they’ll be safe. But that’s like changing the locks after someone ransacks your house. They already have all your stuff, you know?”
“I don’t know how you function, knowing all the things you know, Cindy,” Madison said. “I think I liked being in the dark a little. Every time I take off my clothes now, I’m afraid someone might be watching on my laptop camera.”
“Tape it,” Cindy said. “Seriously. The chances of someone spying on you are way higher than you think. You saw how easy it was for me to do it in the warehouse.”
“Really? Like any special kind of tape?”
“Nah,” Cindy said. “Anything you put on there will be fine. You don’t want to get glue on the lens, in case you want to actually use it, of course. Just open photo booth or something after you do it, to make sure it’s covered.”
“I’m doing that right now. Thanks again, Cindy. I’m going to see if I can reach this guy.”
“Kisses!” Cindy said, ending the call.
Madison found a cotton ball and taped it over the lens on her computer. Then she called the nursing home.
“Spruce Acres,” a woman answered.
“Yes, I’m looking for one of your residents. Alexander Thornton?”
“Doctor Thornton doesn’t like talking on the telephone,” she replied. “Can I take a message?”
“Well I’d like to interview him. I’m a reporter for my school paper and I’m doing a NASA retrospective,” Madison lied.
“Oh, I’m sure he’d love that! But I’m afraid you’re going to have to come here and do the interview in person.”
“Ugh. Really? That’s kind of far,” Madison said.
“I can give him a message to see if he’d make an exception, but I’m quite sure of the answer already. He’s quite hard of hearing, but he reads lips really well. He is too stubborn to admit it, though. He pretends he can hear just fine and just doesn’t like talking on the phone.”
“I understand,” Madison said, frowning. “I’ll see if I can figure out a way to get there. I have break coming up in a couple weeks. Maybe I can come then.”
“He would love that. All our guests here love to get visitors, and he in particular loves to talk about his time in NASA.”
Madison ended the call and reread the short biography of Dr. Thornton on Wikipedia. She was excited to talk to him, but since that was impossible, she was willing to set the story aside for a while.