“The first time, it was because I thought he liked me, you know? I know, I know, I’m so stupid, so naïve, so…what’s another word?”
“No, one word that means the same as stupid.”
“Usually, drunk ends up being the same as stupid.”
She was sixteen drinks in. After that first double-shot she had slowed down to sipping Cosmopolitans, but she was still really hammered. Happy hour had come and gone, and although this place was usually swamped with people we worked with, we didn’t see anyone we knew, this time. Word must had already gotten around.
She had been rambling on for so long about how her life was over that she had gotten repetitive. I couldn’t focus on most of the things she was saying, and it wasn’t because of the booze. Mostly, I was wondering if I would still have a job after leaving before noon to hit the bar across the street…with the girl that just got caught giving blowjobs.
This was the third time she was telling me how it all began. “I’m just this fat girl, you know? And he’s suddenly there, helping me out on my projects, teaching me how to get ahead, you know? And I thought he really cared. And then we started fooling around in the office. And then he got that promotion, and everything kind of faded out between us.”
I signaled the bartender for another drink. I was only about four in, finishing about one drink ever hour and a half; trying to stay sober in case I had to rush back to the office. Screw it, though—work day’s over, and even though I knew should be over there burning the midnight oil, I was planning on going the hell home as soon as I could escape. I had earned it. Maybe a couple more drinks to dull the memories…
“And after that, it just didn’t seem so bad. And it was getting me projects, you know? My very own projects. I never really thought of it as being a whore, though. I just figured I was having a good time and getting something out of it—it’s not nearly as bad as what some of those bastards do, you know? To get ahead?”
I didn’t point out that what Dillon was doing to get ahead was posting video feed of her trying to get ahead.
Speak of the devil—I saw a familiar suit across the street and realized that it was Dillon, heading back into the building. Probably on his way to the top as we spoke.
“Did you ever watch it?” The question was sudden, and I snapped my concentration back to her. Surprisingly, this was the first time she had asked. Probably had to get a few gallons of liquor in her before she had enough courage to handle my answer.
“No,” I said.
“You didn’t know about it?”
“I’d heard about the plan to hook up the webcams, but I never really paid attention.” Lies, of course. I had known about it. Dillon and I were the ones that hooked the shit up to the basement-ed hard drives. We were the only two who had access to the system, as far as I know.
The second he had mentioned the idea, I had realized that I was going to be on board. Luck has nothing to do with it—Dillon was right about that. And he’s the kind of guy that will find an edge and use it to slice out your guts from the back while he smiles into your face. I knew he was going to do the webcam thing, and I offered to help just so he wouldn’t be able to get anything over on me. While we were recording Nina’s escapades, we were recording all kinds of other crazy shit from the office.
Dillon was always talking about how we should use it to blackmail our way to the top, and I always convinced him that the “top” around here wasn’t high enough to earn ourselves the reputations as shifty dirtbags that would come along with it—something like blackmail, it never seems to stay quiet.
I didn’t need blackmail or blowjobs or even luck. I was just that good.
Of course, I didn’t feel it would help the situation if I admitted to Nina that I had seen clips of her blowing just about every authority figure in our office.
“Thanks for coming out with me,” she said. She didn’t have much left. Her words were slurred, her eyes were bloodshot, and she was wobbly on her stool.
“My life is over.”
“I think you’re being overly-dramatic. I mean, in this town, having a reputation as someone who gives great blowjobs will probably be something you should put on your résumé.”
“I deserve it, you know? I shouldn’t have been doing that stuff in the first place. I’m good, you know? You, me, and Dillon, we’re awesome at the things we do, you know? I mean, I’d never tell him that. But, that job, it’s going to go to one of us.”
“Maybe—lot of people working for it.”
“Oh, fuck them. We’re head and shoulders above the rest. And now that I’m going to be gone, it’ll be between you and Dillon. You better get that job, buddy—because if he managed to get rid of me and get my job? Ooh, I’d be pissed.”
I laughed. “Don’t worry about it, Nina. I’m sure it’ll work out.”
We talked for a while longer, and then I gathered up my stuff, paid the tab, and went home.
There are over two hundred computers in that office. Of them, there are a hundred and nineteen with webcams. Of those, Dillon and I had control of about half—so about fifty-nine. You wouldn’t believe how much space it takes to record what those bastards are seeing.
During the day, we had them programmed to only record what was going on in the offices that were supposed to be empty. At night and on weekends, we recorded pretty much everything. It was all stored in the drives down in the basement for about twenty-four hours, and then it started re-writing over the top.
The deal we had worked out between us was, either Dillon or I could go check it out if we ever felt like it, but neither one of us was ever supposed to mess with the initial setup unless we discussed it first.
I had a remote link to my home, all kinds of secret-agented out so that there was no way to trace it. I had always assumed Dillon did, too. It was dishonest, but it was dishonest to being with, so so what?
You would be amazed how much footage you can watch in an hour, if you fast-forward fast enough. The key is, you don’t slow it down unless you’re pretty sure something is going down. Otherwise, you just keep it flying by.
If you stay on top of it, you only have to sacrifice about an hour and a half a day. About three hours each Sunday evening, because you have to go through the entire weekend.
We pretended that we only viewed the footage while we were at work, and usually only after Nina had gotten a project, but I think we both knew that was bullshit.
When they went into his house, they found Dillon’s entire setup. It showed them all of the details of what happened that night. I asked around the office just as much as everyone else, trying to get the “lowdown,” as it were. You stand out if you aren’t trying to ascertain the office gossip as quickly as possible.
But I didn’t need to ask—I watched everything that weekend, from my apartment.
When I got the job, everybody kept telling me how lucky I was. I took their congratulations, and I took their bullshit about how lucky I was, but luck had nothing to do with it. In this business, you don’t wait around for luck to pull its head out of its ass and come find you.
Maybe what you do instead is, after drinking all day with someone so low on self-respect that she’ll blow anyone who smiles at her, you say a few words about how she doesn’t deserve this, how she’s better than this, how she doesn’t have to take this shit. And then maybe you talk about how he’s such a no-good bastard, about how he’s only about a half-step above the roaches, about how he doesn’t deserve to live after doing that to her, whatever. You get as dramatic as you can, while still staying believable. And then you go home, and you wait for the next day, where there will be police tape and a promotion waiting for you.
After I left the bar that night, Nina gathered up her things and walked across the street. She rode the elevator up fifteen floors—I didn’t see any of this, because I just have control over the webcams in our office—and she staggered out into the hall.
Where I begin seeing is when she steps out of the elevator, through the double glass door entrance to the office, and through the maze of desks. Every one of these desks has a computer on it, and most of them have webcams pointed in different direction. It takes some looking, but if you have the dedication, you can track her as she stumbles all through the office. Each camera angle is different, and it can get really confusing really quickly, but the payoff is worth it.
You can see her stalking into one of the dark offices, turning on the light, and finding Dillon huddled over a computer. If you wanted to rewind to about an hour earlier, you can see Dillon creeping in and pretending to work, waiting until everyone had gone before pulling the CD out of his pocket and inserting it into the drive.
What he’s doing is, he’s uploading a montage that he had spent all afternoon making—most of it consisting of Nina sucking people off to an added musical track by Linkin Park.
For a while, you can watch from the same webcam, but basically all you see is the two of them screaming at each other. And then she slaps him. And then he slaps her back. And then she grabs something off the desk—you can’t tell what it is from the webcam, but it turned out later that it was a letter opener (it’s always a letter opener, isn’t it?)—and she starts stabbing him in the face and in the neck.
He shoves her, and because she’s so off-balance from all the stabbing she’s been doing, and all the booze, she stumbles backwards, gaining momentum, until she crashes through the floor-to-ceiling window, back out into the main office.
Here’s where you have to start using multiple webcams again, because now she’s stumbling around in the main office, screaming and covered with blood—she got about sixty lacerations when she tumbled through the glass, and two major arteries got cut—and he’s still in the other office, doing pretty much the same thing as her.
This goes on for quite a while, until they both die. He mostly just stumbles around, holding his face and his neck, and then he finally falls to the ground. She tries to get her cell phone out—presumably to call 911. She’s too drunk and panicked to do it, though and it apparently never occurrs to her to just use a phone from one of the hundreds of desks.
It was a horrible tragedy, they said. But the job still needed to be filled, they said, and since my two main competitors had killed each other, it was all mine, if I felt up to the task.
I told them I was, and that they would not be sorry.
You can catch my first movie in theaters this fall. It’s a dark comedy about the cut-throat business of being an intern in the movie business (cut-throat pun completely intended). It’s going to be huge—everybody says so. The camerawork in the final scene, they say it’s some of the best to ever grace the silver screen. When they ask me where I came up with the idea to shoot it like that, I just smile and tell them that everyone has secrets.