“Arnold, I’ve come around to talk to you about something really important.” Arnold, dressed in an open, checkered dressing gown and three-day-old underwear, stood behind the security door, assessing Harriet who was standing on the porch. “Can I come in?”
Reluctantly, he unlocked the door with a flick of the catch and turned back down the hallway toward the lounge room. Taking his actions as an invitational gesture, Harriet stepped through the door and followed him. Arnold sat down on a well-worn armchair and reached for a bag of bacon flavoured potato chips. Arnold looked across at Harriet who had carved herself a spot on a couch covered in clothes and said through a mouth stuffed full of chips, “Well, what do you want then?”
“I want you to come back to work.”
“Not a chance. Hey, can you pass me that ashtray over there? Ta.” Arnold pulled his aluminium pipe, black and sticky with resin, out of his dressing gown pocket and emptied some old ash into the tray.
“But we need you. We need to leak those files,” said Harriet. Arnold filled the pipe bowl with pot, took a hit and emptied the remains. He filled it up again and passed it, along with an orange Bic lighter, to Harriet.
“The world has become a bloody parody unto itself, Harriet. ”
“What do you mean?” Harriett took a hit from the pipe and passed it back to Arnold.
“First thing this morning, I checked the news. There were no tragedies. Nothing more than like, the expected Pokémon Go-related car crash fatalities,” said Arnold. “And you know how I felt?”
“How did you feel?”
“Disappointed,” Arnold took another hit from his pipe. “Fucked up, hey? What does that say about the state of affairs when I’m so desensitised to this festival of human pain that I was pissed off that nobody suffered in the hours I was asleep?”
“Well, you know plenty of people suffered, Arnold. It’s just that nobody cares enough to report on it. That’s where you can help – you know they’ll care about the leak. Do you want some tea?”
Arnold shrugged, so Harriet handed him a cup of peppermint tea. “I don’t give a fuck anymore either. This world can rot, it’s going to anyway. So there’s no point me risking everything and being forced into exile for the rest of my life.”
“So you want to watch the world burn, Arn?”
“Then leak those files today.”
“What’s the point? It’s a catch 22, Harriet. We’re damned if we get her arrested and we’re damned if we don’t. So I’m gonna ride it out here, in front of my TV, with junk food and pot and this documentary about fat people in America that I’ve already watched like thirty times. I’ll watch the world burn from here.”
“Why not have a little fun with it, instead of being a depressed mess? That’s what we’re all doing back at the Organisation,” Harriet took a sip of her tea and draped her arm over Arnold’s shoulder.
“You hold the golden ticket, my friend. Leak the files, get her arrested and expose him for what he is, a puppet for the Russians. It will be beautifully chaotic,” Harriet smiled wistfully. “Besides, I have always wondered what underground is like in the Spring.”
“Fuck it.” Arnold took a key from around his neck and unlocked a safe hidden in the cupboard above his fridge. He took the hard drive out and handed it to Harriet. “Post this to your contact. When you’re done, come straight back here and we’ll make tracks.”
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
Arnold drained his tea, slamming the cup on the coffee table. “Let’s have some fun with this, hey?”