There was this incredible need for spy talk. Julian would often refer to the places where he lived as “safe houses” and say things such as “When you go to Queensland there’s a contact there you should speak to.” “You mean a friend?” I’d say. “No. It’s more complicated than that.” He appeared to like the notion that he was being pursued, and the tendency was only complicated by the fact that there were real pursuers. But the pursuit was never as grave as he wanted it to be. He stuck to his Cold War tropes, where one didn’t deliver a package but made a “drop-off.” One day, we were due to meet some of the WikiLeaks staff at a farmhouse out toward Lowestoft. We went in my car. Julian was especially edgy that afternoon, feeling perhaps that the walls were closing in, as we bumped down one of those flat roads covered in muck left by tractor tires. “Quick, quick,” he said, “go left. We’re being followed!” I looked in the rearview mirror and could see a white Mondeo with a wire sticking out the back. “Don’t be daft, Julian,” I said. “That’s a taxi.” “No. Listen to me. It’s surveillance. We’re being followed. Quickly go left.” Just by comical chance, as I was rocking a Starsky and Hutch–style handbrake turn, the car behind us suddenly stopped at a farmhouse gate and a little boy jumped out and ran up the path. I looked at the clock as we rolled off in a cloud of dust. It said 3:48. “That was a kid being delivered home from school,” I said. “You’re mental.” “You don’t understand,” he said.
From A Secret Life by Andrew O’Hagen.