She’d been sitting at a small table by the window for five minutes, nervously telling the server she was waiting on a friend, when a familiar man walked in. He came right up, said “Hi, Tasha,” and sat down opposite her as if he’d been expected.
Who was he? Wait, now she remembered; she’d seen him at one of the antiwar meetings she’d attended. Couldn’t remember his name. Tall, built like a track runner, short light hair, and glasses. What was he doing here? He was years younger than the voice on the phone had been.
“Oh, hi,” she said. “I’m sorry, but I’m waiting for someone.”
“Yes, me.” He sat there with an implacable face. Waiting for it to sink in.
“I’m not who called you, no. He sent me here in his stead.” She noticed he was carrying a black man-purse, which he flung open now. He removed two manilla folders and placed them on the table between them right as the waiter appeared. He ordered a vodka tonic, and it took her a few seconds to realize the waiter was looking at her. She managed to utter a barely audible “Iced tea.”
Things were slowly falling into place.
She tried to remember what they had talked about during their five-minute chat a couple of weeks ago. He’d said he was a graduate student, something about Asian history. He’d recently returned from years teaching English abroad and he was incensed at the direction their country was headed in.
“I’m afraid I forgot your name,” she said, trying to keep calm as everything shifted around her.
“And you want to talk to me about one of my firm’s clients?”
“Yes, GTK. That was quite a story that broke in the ‘Times’. The reporter had access to all kinds of confidential information about a company that’s represented by your law firm.”
“That story very much angered our client.”
“You’re the lawyer here – I’m sure you could skew things any way you want. But all I have to do is pick up the phone and call one of your firm’s partners and tell him that I represent the government and I happen to know that one of his associates leaked those GTK files. One of his associates decided that her political opinions were more important than legal ethics, more important than the firm’s reputation for defending its clients. And then I’d say your name.”
The glasses arrived and Leo informed the waiter they wouldn’t be ordering any food.
“I’m not sure how any of this is your business, Leo, but here are the facts. The partners already interviewed everyone at the firm, including myself, about the leak. GTK performed its own internal review as well. We still don’t know who did it, and I have no idea why you would think it was me.”
He smiled. “I get it. You think I’m taping this, and you need to be circumspect. Which is smart. But here are some more facts: The e-mail account you used to contact the ‘Times’ reporter was created by a hacker we’ve been following, a hacker who travels in the same circles that you’ve unfortunately started travelling in of late. Your buddy T.J. And when those e-mails were sent, the account was accessed from the downtown D.C. public library, which is a five-minute walk from your office.”
She needed a few seconds. T.J. and not a friend of T.J. was the hacker? Which probably meant that T.J. had read those e-mails she’d sent and never said anything about it.
“The library’s a five-minute walk from thousands of people’s offices,” she said, “and most of them are much more politically connected than me and must have had access to something about GTK.”
His smile hadn’t changed. “You need to scan in and out of your building at the security kiosk. Terrorism-prevention measures – aren’t they a bitch? We can match the times you scanned in and out with the times those e-mails were sent. Three times, all perfect matches.” He tapped one of the manilla folders, then slid it closer to her. “This has the evidence that the e-mails were sent from MLK Library, and also the security scan times at your office building.”
She opened the file and was confronted by pages of techie-speak – acronyms and long streams of programming code, like android haiku. “I’m supposed to understand this?”
“You don’t have to, but your firm will, and GTK will. And the D.C. Bar will.”
She skimmed some more of it and found the entire e-mail exchange between her unnamed self and the reporter. She felt dizzy and hot, and took a long sip from her glass.
Copyright © Thomas Mullen 2011