“This will be my exercise for the day,” I thought as I left the bar, planning to walk home.
Like most winter nights in New York City, I was in a cab a minute later. I hop in and land on something blocky. It feels like a seat belt. I don’t wear seat belts in cabs, but didn’t want to sit on it for the entirety of the ride. I reach under me and feel familiar plastic: an iPhone case.
I yell up to the cab driver. “Hey, someone left a phone back here.” He mumbles something into his bluetooth headset, ignoring me.
I tap the home button and the screen lights up. It’s locked. Glowing behind the keypad is a picture of a dog. White with brown ears. A basset hound, I think.
It’s the new iPhone with the fingerprint reader, which I heard were faulty. I press down my thumb. Nothing. My index finger. Nothing. My pinky. Nope.
I’m prompted to enter a passcode. 1-2-3-4. Denied. 9-8-7-6. Still no. I’m immature so I try 6-9-6-9. It works! Joking. I put the phone down. The screen fades to black. I pick it back up and try again. 1-9-9-9.
Holy shit. It unlocks.
It’s the kind of iPhone home screen that gives me anxiety: a plethora of apps, all open and running, each with notifications in the triple and double-digits. Hundreds of unread emails. 20 unread texts. 15 missed calls. The battery is low. Given the urgency of the situation, I prioritize. Photos.
The first picture is of the dog. The second is a selfie of a pretty girl with full cheeks and choppy hair. “Looks like Jennifer Lawrence,” I think. The third is of the same girl, although she doesn’t look like Jennifer Lawrence; it is Jennifer Lawrence. The fourth is one of those blurry photos taken by accident. The fifth is two women standing in front of a suburban home. I zoom in. It looks like Jennifer Lawrence and an older woman, probably her mom.
I scroll through more pictures. I wasn’t looking for it, but there’s nothing racy. (I was looking for it.) There are a few more selfies taken from a bed. Another of her bowling with a pink bowling ball. Also, the meme picture of Jennifer Lawrence from the Oscars: “Climbs trees. Can’t climb stairs.”
I’m pretty sure this is Jennifer Lawrence’s phone. If it’s not, whoever’s phone it is should be arrested for stalking her.
I look at the text messages. The most recent is to “Sara K,” and before that, “Momma.” The text conversation with Sara is from 15 minutes earlier. Sara texted an address, along with the landmark of “building with gargoyle but not the scary kind.” Jennifer texted back, “On way and scared.”
I blurt to the cab driver, “Go downtown.”
I open Maps. The address is already in there. I tell the driver the intersection.
I text Sara from Jennifer’s phone.
“Hi. Found this phone in my cab and you were the last text. Let me know how I can give it back.”
I get a text back.
“omg i’m with the person who lost it. i tried calling the cab company but”
I start typing, then get another text.
“couldn’t get through. apparently people lose phones saturday nights lol”
“are you in the city? tell me where and i’ll come get it? thx”
I respond, “I know this is weird, but I saw the address you sent and am nearby. I can meet you around there?”
A minute goes by. I text again.
I was joking, and was about to say so, but then I get a response.
“k no prob”
“Joking about the money.”
No response. I take a moment to consider the opportunity.
“Any chance I could say hi to Jen? I’m a big fan.”
Why did I call her Jen? I don’t know her. I send another text.
“Jennifer. Meant to say Jennifer.”
A minute goes by. No response.
“Shit,” I think. “I blew it.”
Eventually she texts back
We exchange a few more texts and agree to meet at a pizza place in the neighborhood.
I get to the pizza place. It’s after midnight on a Saturday night. Drunk twentysomethings stumble in and out with slices. My phone is in my pocket. I grip Jennifer’s phone like it’s my own. I text Sara after 10 minutes.
A few minutes later, the phone dies. I hope Sara didn’t change the meeting location.
I scan the surrounding apartment buildings and spot two people peering through the blinds of a top floor apartment. The building has a granite gargoyle perched above its door. I walk down the sidewalk to get a better look inside.
The lights turn off. The blinds close.
I go back inside the pizza place and get in line. I glance over my shoulder and see a girl and guy standing outside. I make eye contact and they look away. I approach them.
“You here for the phone?” I felt like a drug dealer who for some reason sold phones.
The girl turns to the guy. “Told ya.”
I hand the phone to who I think is Sara.
“Okay, cool. Well, have a good night.” I start to walk away.
“She’s happy you found it. Almost gave her my old flip phone.”
Was “she” Jennifer?
“Glad I could help.”
“I’m Sara, by the way. This is Lance.”
Sara was petite, brunette, pea coat, scarf, probably 22 or 23. Lance was older, but not old. One of those 30-year-olds with speckled grey hair.
“She said if you weren’t a big monster weirdo you could say hi.”
I follow Sara and Lance into an apartment building. I look up at the gargoyle on my way in. I get in the elevator with Sara. (For some reason, Lance takes the steps.) I try to make small talk, but she’s busy texting.
We arrive to a door. Sara sticks a key into the slot and enters. Lance reaches out and holds the door. I walk in.