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A Power Play Of Early Days

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A Power Play of Early Days—By Junius Junius

There were many things he could do with a computer. He needed speed, memory and power. He needed to communicate with many people, needed to keep updated with the important events of the world, needed to engage in his many philosophical forums. He needed space to store his many essays, essays on political thought, history, economics, finance, business, governance, philosophy, treatises on acquiring power; letters to the many people of influence he would have to contact, letters to the editors … He needed space to store pictures because one single picture, as you may know, speaks a thousand words—it helps get the point across, though it still is not an argument, despite the fools who do tend to get duped. He needed to store his music, the music that he would come to love, on his journey up to power, and would accentuate that force. His computer would be his centre of power over his life’s struggle.

James Connors knew fifteen years earlier, when he was fifteen, that he wanted political power. He wanted to run things. He wanted to influence the laws, the economy, even the values of an entire country. He used get tingly all over, as he learned about the old ones—Pericles, Alexander, Caesar, Pope Clement V, Luther, Elizabeth, Ferdinand, Medici, Cromwell, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Napoleon, MacDonald, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton … just a random list but men who shared one attribute for sure: power.

His computer shut off on its own, without his will or intention, as he looked through the computer advertisements on the website of Best Buy. This was an on-going problem. It was time for a new computer long ago, as he predicted an acute increase in his literary industry and multi-media needs. This power supply problem was the nail in the coffin of his procrastination. It was just the same; he didn’t really need to find out the prices today, for he could not yet afford a new computer. He had debt; a student loan, credit cards already at maximum capacity for living his life of endless study and social networking.

He already worked full time at a Starbucks, from seven in the morning to three (afternoon). He could have acquired a job with more responsibility and demand, but he enjoyed the getting off at three and having the rest of his day for real work, adding to his political philosophy and his social skills. But since he needed a computer it was time to take a break and to get a second job, until he saved enough for a computer.

The Interrupters Group was a telemarketing firm, located in the office tower of Goodwin Centre, a landmark at Bloor and Sherbourne. This company occupied the floors two, six, and seven. On the seventh floor they satisfied their contract with Rogers Communications, taking marketing surveys, and acting as a customer service help arm. This is where James Connors got a job, working from 5:30 pm to 11:30 pm. He knew that working this shift, Monday to Friday, could be endured for a month, nothing more, and hopefully not that long.

On his first day, he went to Goodwin Centre straight from his Starbucks at College and Yonge. He figured he would eat well and read a bit before his shift. He went into the Burger King in the mall attached to the tower, and ate a double Whopper with fries and strawberry milkshake. Shortly after he had finished he walked through a corridor in between Goodwill and Pharma Plus, and into the office tower’s lobby. He was a little impatient to go that way because he suddenly got the urge to use the washroom. There at a marble desk giving the atmosphere a nice feng shui aura, was a security officer in black uniform. He was a tall young black man, very muscular, your typical Moorish stallion. James approached him.

“Officer, I was wondering if you could tell me if there is in this building any restroom that is single and can lock, you know, a handi-cap washroom or something?”

“I don’t know if I should say. I advise you to use the restroom on your floor. What floor are you on?”

“Seven … listen, I got time to kill before I start my shift and I really want to take a shit. But I predict it is going to be one of those long but pleasant craps, I thought I would read today’s Dose, and take my sweet little time—it’s my first day today, I want to be as comfortable as possible.”

“You work for Interruptions?”

“Yes.”

“There is a handi-cap washroom on the 17th floor—but don’t make a mess coz that’s the one I like to use.”

“Thank you. How long can I access this floor?”

“This building and the elevator are access card only from 6 pm to 7:30 am.

About a half an hour later he was finished his crap. He was curious whether he could access his floor, seven, via the stairs. But even before that, since he was already so high, he decided to walk up the stairs until the end, and see what he discovers. He discovered that people sign in when they access the door at the top that says only authorized personnel allowed, because there was a white board with names of people and times of in and out. What was more interesting was that floor nineteen was accessible because it was a “crossover” floor, which was a fire precaution.

He began his descent to floor seven, and noticed that floor sixteen was a “crossover”, as was ten and five. None of these floors had single lockable washrooms. So he could not access the seventh floor via the stairs, in case he wanted to use floor seventeen on his break, and get back on his floor, since he did not have an elevator access card. He walked down the stairs and exited into a white vestibule. Next to the door he came out of there was a door that lead to the underground, and a door that led into the lobby. He entered the lobby and saw another security officer sitting at the marble desk, a big hefty, mean looking white woman in her early thirties, with shaved head. He made a right and pressed the elevator button.

His work floor was four rows of a series of black computers, brand new it seemed, still clean, the latest flat screen monitors, a slender but very suitable hard drive, and a sleek physiology sensitive keyboard. He was impressed. His job consisted of calling people at random selected by the computer system, and to conduct a survey, and enter the data into the computer database. The process was endurable as the new computer he had to work with was a constant reminder of why he was there.

At one point very early into his shift, he was reproached by a supervisor and told to wear his tie. At another time a young black girl, was aggressively arguing with another supervisor, making claims of harassment and discrimination. There was one guy who spoke too loud but everybody else had to adjust to his volume because he was the leading surveyor. And at one point he heard one of his neighbours talk to another neighbour about how great these new computers were, that they were state of the art, super fast, super storage capacity, super memory, and super reliability. He estimated that they had cost no less than five thousand dollars. This caught his attention for he only expected to spend half of that, though, he would probably have to get on a payment plan.

When it was time for his fifteen-minute break, he used the stairs to descend to the lobby, but when he reached the ground floor reached a grey and white hallway, that bewildered him. He heard noises and the sound of the elevator beep and realized that he had used the other stair door this time, and he was at the east stair door on the ground floor.

When he returned from his break at seven thirty, he called for an elevator and waited. He noticed a small black bubble in the ceiling above him and it was a discreet camera. He looked at the elevator displays, and saw that a middle elevator was coming down. When it opened a cleaner came out with a mop and bucket and James tried to get in but the cleaner stopped him.

“’Dees elevater ees no for jou. No work teel next morni. Tree and fife for cleaner only.” By this James gathered that these two elevators were for cleaner use only until the next morning. James found it unusual that the cleaner immediately got back in the elevator, pressed a button and the doors closed—but he noticed that the cleaner did not have to use a card.

There were six elevators in total, three on each side, north and south. The two middle elevators did not require an access card to operate them. They were turned off when the cleaners were done for the night, and turned on again by security in the morning.

So James went back to work.

When he finished his shift, he caressed the computer hard drive tenderly, put on his coat and left the office. A group of people squished into the elevator and descended. When James exited the elevator, he noticed that both the middle elevators were not turned off on the ground floor as he expected. He looked at the displays for their whereabouts. They were on the tenth floor. Within an instant he had made the connection that he could access that floor. He would investigate tomorrow.

As he walked onto Bloor Street he suddenly got the urge to take another crap. Where could he go? He went in the mall and used the one at Burger King. It was disgustingly filthy. But he had to go and did.

The next day when he finished work, he used the stairs and ascended to the tenth floor, opened the door, and saw the doors of the offices and heard the quiet. The lights were off in both of the elevators he had come up to investigate. This wasn’t a good sign. He went into one and pressed seventeen but the button light did not turn on, and the elevator did not move. He tried the other one, though hopeless as it was. But it worked. This one must be faulty, he thought. The light stayed and the elevator ascended to seventeen. He took out a Dose from his bag and sat down to read. A half hour later, he got into the elevator and took it back to ten, but not before trying to see if the elevator would work on seven too. It did but he left the elevator on ten.

He remembered the camera recording entrance to the elevators, so he used the stairs, found the vestibule of the first day, knowing that a guard might be in the lobby, and a camera might catch him, he took the other door to basement one level. On that level there was the ramp and he ascended it and found himself on Huntley Street. He went north to Bloor, turned right and walked to Sherbourne station.

So every night after work he walked to the tenth floor and took his elevator to the seventeenth floor, and he read his Dose. He did wonder how long it would last before the elevator was fixed. He did fear that a security officer would notice the elevator moving when it wasn’t supposed to be moving—but he took his chances thinking that the worst that would happen is that he gets banned from the building. He liked the feeling of getting away with something.

Several days later, he did not have to go to the washroom after his shift. And it was a nice night, and he wanted to advance in his reading of Machiavelli’s Discourses, so he sat at the steps of the office building on Bloor Street with his book. He put up his green hood, and used a mini light to see the pages. He was happily reading along when a manager and a supervisor on his floor, came out and were talking loudly and unaware of his presence almost, nor his identity unrecognizable because of his hood. They were talking engrossed about number totals and percentages, when the girl, the supervisor, exclaimed to the man, the manager, “You didn’t close the door!”

“I know.”

“But all those computers!”

“I hardly ever close it. And besides you can’t get on that floor without a card.”

“What if security steals a computer?’

“They won’t do that!”

“Boy, you’re not cynical.”

“I believe there’s a little good in everyone.”

“Oh well, it’s your ass.” And they walked east towards Sherbourne Station. James sat there nodding his head and thinking. He chuckled and then let out the following, “Fools.”

The next day, James got off work at the coffee shop early, and went to an army surplus store on downtown Yonge. There he found a big black bag made of canvass, nearing the size of a hockey bag. He bought that and a green army blanket. The knapsack that he walked into the store with was empty for the purpose of putting the new bag tightly away. Then he went to work at Interruptions.

He worked diligently that day. A supervisor kept hinting that they are always looking for people to promote. He made it clear that he had no interest in being a supervisor or something there but that he appreciated her compliments.

He looked around the room periodically trying to spot any hidden cameras. He found none. He was confident that there were none. The telemarketer was the sole tenant on this floor, and they rented only one room, for the special purpose of this special contract with Rogers. The hallways weren’t clean, there were ceiling tiles missing, scratches, and cracks on the wall. There were a series of bright blue doors that seemed to add up to one big tenant. It seemed that this big tenant moved out sometime ago, and only the telemarketer had any interest in renting on that floor. There were no cameras. This room seemed like it was just a temporary space. He did here rumours that they were expanding on other floors. And then the shift ended.

This day, he used the washroom on his floor to take a crap after work. About a half hour later, he walked up to the sixteenth floor and sat on the steps waiting, and listening. No cautious sounds were heard. At twelve thirty he began to descend to the tenth floor. The two middle elevators were there with lights off. It was the southern elevator, number five, and he went inside and pressed number seven. It moved. The elevator door opened onto seven. His large green hood made his identity stealth enough.

The fool had left the door wide open again. At the threshold, he shouted. No one answered. He walked around the small space just in case. No one was there. He picked the cleanest, shiniest computer there. He took out the black bag from his knapsack and opened it. He laid out the blanket. He put the hard drive on it and wrapped it. Then he put the monitor atop of the covered that, and covered that. He put the bundle into the black bag and then slipped the keyboard in and zipped up the bag. As he exited the office, his glove covered hand, shut the door. He checked if it was locked. It was. One did not even have to turn a key; the door just needed to be shut.

He took the elevator back to floor ten. It is true that the tall black security officer noticed as he walked by the elevators on the ground floor, that elevator number five moved from floor eight to nine to ten; his glimpse caught the indication at eight and not before. He called for another elevator to go check floor ten.

Meanwhile, James Connor had just opened the east stair door, and hurried down the stairs to the well terminus. He was at the grey and white hallway again, and then opened the door on his right. At basement one there was the pay booth and the attendant. He went to basement level two and proceeded to the south west exit, attached to a thirty story apartment building, and exited on Huntley street. He crossed the street and descended the steps onto Jarvis. He walked south along the Rogers Building and headed towards Wellesley station.

The next day, Goodwin Property Management received a report from security: Elevator number five cannot be turned off except by turning off the power completely. It along with elevator number two has a single keyhole on the top of the control panel. On elevator number two this keyhole can be turned by the key; on five it cannot. Consequently the cleaners are in the habit of keeping elevator number five in service mode so that the elevator does not operate at random with the other elevators on automatic. But any floor can still be accessed with this elevator. Keep in mind that floor ten is a cross over floor and can be accessed by any person exiting from the stairs on any floor. Until this problem is fixed, it is advised that the power be turned off completely on this elevator, when it is not in use.

James was fortunate in choosing his time. For if he had waited past one in the morning, the security guard would have found this door open and closed it. The security guard found the door in question open on several other occasions, and would just close it, and note it in his report. This was a good thing. It is clear that full responsibility for granting James, the thief, opportunity lies solely on the neglectful manager, who was unwilling to make the simple gesture of pulling a doorknob closed.

James Connor went back to work for another week and then quit. When the computer was hooked up and running he began to write more industriously. A computer hacker can, to this day, perhaps find traces on that mysterious computer of an apt excerpt of James perhaps from one of his journals.

It is a citizen’s responsibility to take advantage of mediocrity; this way, mediocrity will be forced to shape up. A woman holds her purse on a crowded bus, wide open, with a roll of bills in the wide open—what do you do? You take it in stealth—that will teach her not to trust so easily. If the populous are asking for an erroneous and destructive government policy, expressed in popular culture and the market, and they vote for the foolish legislator—if they’ve been doing it for decades—what do you do? You give them what they want; they deserve the inevitable … that way some generation will finally learn the grand lesson of the initial and costly error. If taxpayers give me a treasury, and don’t ask too many questions; if I can use a popular cause as an excuse for starting a campaign, and I can get my friends in business paid; if can regulate an industry and take advantage of the disruption in my own private way; if I’m part of the corruption, and yet the good legislator must delve into it, in order to fix it—what do I do? I open a bank account in the Bahamas.

James Conner acquired this computer when he was thirty. We know his ambition. Today he is in his fifties and he now resides in a town not too far from Toronto. This very moment he is sleeping comfortably in a king size bed next to his beautiful wife. The bed is in a modestly big house in Ottawa, twenty-four Sussex drive. But James Conner is not the Prime Minister. The beautiful woman next to him is, Connie Conner; first elected female Prime Minister of Canada. James Conner has been her most loyal political advisor since the earliest days of her political career.

He met her on line participating in a political forum.

THE END.

Edited by juniusjunius

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Interesting story, junius. Thanks for sharing it. I like how you captured the emptiness of a quest for power. (I am assuming "power" means something exercised over others rather than a description of self-control, life, and the "sky blue lake of joy" in pursuing a life's work, as I interpret Nietzsche to have justified the term.)

I have a couple questions:

May I ask why you chose to write about such a scuzbag?

One of the great things about Ayn Rand is that she posits an alternative and uses that ideal as the focus of her writing. You might find a positive ideal a richer source for your writing. This is just a comment, I am not saying all writing must ignore ugly people.

Also, was the end supposed to signify a terrible fate for the anti-hero, to be subordinate to a woman? Is he a sexist?

Lastly, how terrific that you are from Canada! It makes me think of snowy pine trees and lungfulls of fresh air during this season.

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Interesting story, junius. Thanks for sharing it. I like how you captured the emptiness of a quest for power. (I am assuming "power" means something exercised over others rather than a description of self-control, life, and the "sky blue lake of joy" in pursuing a life's work, as I interpret Nietzsche to have justified the term.)

I have a couple questions:

May I ask why you chose to write about such a scuzbag?

One of the great things about Ayn Rand is that she posits an alternative and uses that ideal as the focus of her writing. You might find a positive ideal a richer source for your writing. This is just a comment, I am not saying all writing must ignore ugly people.

Also, was the end supposed to signify a terrible fate for the anti-hero, to be subordinate to a woman? Is he a sexist?

Lastly, how terrific that you are from Canada! It makes me think of snowy pine trees and lungfulls of fresh air during this season.

If it were a longer story I would have given the other side. I believe that, at least I am not convinced otherwise, that even by Objectivist standards, it is proper (morally) to write a short story about an evil person-AN LEAVE IT AT THAT. A reason I think this, is that a short story is limited and thus its theme is limited, one can only concretize an abstraction not too abstract. Even if the the theme is, getting away with a crime, it doesn't mean it is improper. There is a positive moral action: the security officer is capable and does (too late) provide the solution to the problem which gave James the opportunity.

It is an indictment of human ignorance as an opportunity for crime. Yes, if longer, I probably wouldn't have the guy going so far without being caught in life.

But I know I won't get there.

A line I should add is at the very end. Something about the most recent political crime that the duo committ as governors.

Maybe I should include a few lines about the moral opposition in regards to that crime, forboding criminal charges. I do envision the couple as a political conspiracy to gain power, with evil values guiding them.

When I decide on that, I suppose it would be fine to post it as an addendum to the story.

Junius.

P.S. In Toronto these recent months it was a long summer with many spring type days into September and October. And the winter has been mild, not much snow, and not yet those arctic biting days--there's been many I guess "Vancouver like Winter days". But the fresh air is still very welcome.

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You should learn to write less. For example, you go on and on about abstract things like the main character's needs. There is no need for that. All you had to do was start the story by describing him either performing his rotten deeds or planning them (talking about concrete actions and things is far more effective writing). The reader is smart enough to know that someone like the mc is a power-hungry douchebag if he is willing to screw over friends and strangers alike for his own ends.

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