A friend sent me a quote which was written by an unknown writer. We both had trouble understanding its meaning. My friend said to me jokingly-
"The writer didn't mention his name, otherwise we could ask him directly."
I wonder if this use of "could" is correct here or not. As far as I'm aware, "could have" is used for lost opportunities of the past. Here, we are talking about a lost opportunity which was lost due to an event that didn't happen in the past (The writer mentioning his name). I'm confused whether "could ask" should be used here or "could have asked" should be used instead. Please help. Also, if it is possible to use both, what is the difference in meaning, if any?