Smile, You’re On Camera: A Short Story

Gary Hutchins shut the bathroom cabinet. Staring back at him was a pudgy middle-aged white man on the cusp of balding. His face was expressionless; lips pursed together in a straight line, his beady eyes without emotion, as if his soul had escaped his body overnight.

Gary left the bathroom and made his way out the front door, picking up his keys along the way. He climbed into his 1992 Toyota Camry sedan and drove into the dark, following the same route he always took. Gary knew that this was the fastest possible route unless he was travelling by air. Knowing his pay grade and importance, a helicopter would be out of the question.

Pulling into the entrance of his work, Gary parked his Camry in the same old spot he always did. Although Gary’s routine lacked excitement or spontaneity, he felt comfortable with it. Bored, but comfortable.

Gary left his car and swiped his ID card at the side door to the factory. He began to pace down the pitch black hallway, looking straight ahead. Lights flickered above as the sensors kicked into action. Gary turned left at the end of the corridor, and steadily ploughed forward up the stairs. Not speeding up or even slowing down, Gary made his way to the top and into a small room lined with small television screens. Each showing different views of inside and around the factory.

Gary slumped into the room’s singular desk chair, sighing heavily and stretching out his legs. Although Gary was the only breathing individual in over 2000 metres, that would be the most noise he would make in the entire night.

Gary barely glanced at the cameras before picking up the day’s newspaper. It lay on the desk in the same old place it always was. Gary scanned through a front page article on the nationwide teacher’s strike when out of the corner of his eye he saw something move.

It was one of the screens.

Putting down the newspaper Gary sat up in his chair and looked at what appeared to be a young male out by the garage entry to the factory. The security cameras were black and white and not of the best quality, but Gary guessed the man was young, judging from his baggy jeans and a hoodie that was too large for him. The hoodie hid his face from the camera.

Just as Gary reached for the phone he saw the boy signal off camera. A young woman entered the frame wearing a low-cut skirt, and high heels. Late night out on the town Gary suspected. The boy grabbed the girl and pushed his face onto hers. At first the girl stood back in surprise, but then she moved her arm over the boy’s head and pushed his hoodie back, revealing a blonde mop of hair. They began to kiss passionately. Gary scratched his head and felt embarrassed to be watching this public display of affection. But he also couldn’t stop watching. A sudden beeping took him out of the moment, and he put the phone back on the receiver.

The boy started to kiss down her neck. The girl pushed him into the metal roller door, and kissed him back. Gary heard the muffled clang all the way from his little office. The young man unbuckled his belt, and dropped his pants to the ground.

The girl stopped.

She looked up at the guy, and down at the pants around his ankles. A flush of red anger took over her pretty features, and her lips made short, aggressive movements. Inaudible through the small television. The girl stormed off. The young man simply stood and watched her leave. Once the girl was out of sight, the boy shrugged, pulled up his jeans and walked off.

Gary sat back in his chair. His mind reeling.

Some hors later Gary left the side entrance and climbed into his Toyota. He pulled out of the car park and into the street, coming to a roundabout. Going straight through was the same old route Gary always took, the fastest way home.

Gary turned left.