Fulbert Dorsblatt had trouble sleeping the night before he betrayed his country.
He lay in his neatly made bed, in his well-pressed pajamas, staring into the darkness and trying to calm himself and talk sense into himself.
I could renege. I could refuse to go through with it. Just not show up NO! it’s too late for that. The time for that has passed. Everything is ready. I have to go through with it.
He resisted the urge to look around at his bedroom; it was pitch dark, and all he could see were the glowing tips of the hands on his alarm clock. But when he left tomorrow morning, he would never see his apartment again. His few prized possessions would have to be left behind, along with his clothing and his former life. All new things would be provided on the other side.
That was the key. Dorsblatt was purchasing for himself a chance to start a new life. A life in which he would be seen as someone who had done something great. A life in which he was viewed as a contributor, rather than as a cog in the machine. A life in which he was welcomed by the people around him
Dorsblatt would be leaving no picture portraits of his parents, who had spent his formative years telling him he was and always would be a failure. He would be leaving no letters or greeting cards from his only sibling, his sister, Fauna, whose scorn he had endured for years until he was on his own; then he heard nothing from her.
He had long ago destroyed his high school yearbook so that he would not have to read the insulting prediction made for his life. So he would not have to see the smiling, confident faces of those who looked down on him every day during his education. Or the bored, smug faces of the teachers who did not merely permit the abuse at the hands of his peers but actually abetted it.
He would be sorry to have to abandon the diploma from the Gestwiler Business School; it was there his natural talents were focused and began to be appreciated. That had led to his job as a file clerk at the Pentagon.
But good annual reviews for putting the right documents in the right folders could not make up for the fact that he was, again, on the bottom of his immediate society. Useful, but not liked.
Fulbert Dorsblatt wanted to be liked. And he found a way.
He had finally dozed off into a fitful sleep and the alarm clock jangled him awake at 6 a.m. He got up and went through his usual morning routine, as though he were going to work. The only exception was that he put on his best suit. He picked up his briefcase, took one last look around, and left.
He had the taxi driver take him right to the Soviet Embassy. He felt that, in case he were being followed, there was no point in being caught walking the last block. He strode purposefully onto the grounds and inside.
“Mr. Dorsblatt to see Mr., er, Comrade Rovski.”
“He is expecting you, sir. Right this way.”
On the next floor up, Dorsblatt waited in a small, comfortable room. His contact came in almost immediately, and Dorsblatt handed over the briefcase.
“These are the copies of the files you requested, Comrade Rovski. Everything is there.”
Rovski leafed through the pages Dorsblatt had cautiously duplicated in the copier room near his Pentagon workstation.
“Yes, Mr. Dorsblatt, I see that. This is good. This is good.”
“And now may I know the arrangements for my leaving the country?” Dorsblatt asked.
Rovski hesitated. “Mr. Dorsblatt … I know you were promised certain things, but we no longer feel that it is in your best interests to immediately leave your job and your country. If it were to be discovered that you had given these papers to us, it is difficult to say with assurance you could be protected, at present, even in the Soviet Union. The CIA would stop at nothing to get revenge. This is much more likely to happen if you suddenly disappear.”
Dorsblatt paled. “Then … what am I to do?”
“Go to work. Put in a normal day as though nothing were out of the ordinary. Then, in a couple of weeks, when you’re certain no one suspects anything, contact me again. There are certain other things we would like to have from your files, Mr. Dorsblatt. In the meantime, we will look for and prepare a secure, pleasant place for you. To properly reward you for all you have done for us. A place where the CIA cannot get to you, and where you will be given the respect you are so richly due.”
Dorsblatt considered this for a moment. “I suppose that will be for the best. And yes, I have access to a great many things you will want to know. I’ll do good work for you,” he promised.
Rovski smiled. “I know you will. You are a good man. An intelligent, capable man. You will be doing wonderful things for humanity … Comrade Dorsblatt.”
Dorsblatt beamed in the glare of the praise, praise he had so rarely heard before. He shook hands with Rovski and left.
A few minutes later, the door opened again.
“How is our traitor today? Disappointed he’s not leaving?”
“Not at all, Comrade Arbatov. He is simply delighted to know we have such appreciation for him.”
The men laughed.