The Price we pay
Odd things happened with the text, so just look over those, and read.
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As Joe sat there, the rattling in the overhead air vent was setting his mind spinning. What if there were cameras in there? They were in the halls, offices and even in the Big Boss's office. Jim Donoven had said that the bathrooms were the only safe place from their prying eyes.
But the clattering, it had to be a camera cord knocking against the metal air duct. He could see it now sitting up there staring at him, with it's uncaring eye pointed at him, looking down on him as he sat here in the fourth floor men's restroom.
His body had closed down all functions as soon as he started to think about the camera. There it is staring down at Joe Westhorse. No not Joe, but Joseph like his mother would call him. He never did like Joe, but here at work it had stuck, and like most nicknames, you just can't get rid of them.
There it is staring down at Joseph Westhorse not letting him have any privacy, none at all. He wondered if they even let the President sit on the pot without a camera staring down at her. Though looking at that bit of disk would be very interesting. She was the prettiest female President they had had in over 100 years. Her name was Whitehorse.
He wondered if her family had the same legends about her name as his did about his name. Westhorse his father told him long ago, was the name they gave a young Indian lad who would later become Joe's Great-Great-Great Grandfather. They gave it to him because his first horse headed West the first time the lad got on him. Joe never believed that tale. He knew that the last Native American had died some 100 years before his Great times 3 Grandfather was even born.
Joe's mind came back to the here and now, when he heard a rather loud clank, in the air vent above his head. First he shrugged it off, but the idea had stuck. There was a camera up there, and he had to find out one way or the other. He stood up and pulled up his pants, touched the seal and smirked at the thought that these pants were brand new. He wondered if they knew that as well. He got one foot on the rim of the toilet seat, and using his hand gripped the top of the stall's wall and pulled himself up into a standing position. He could see that the air vent did not have any dust on it, had to dust them to get a clear view of the target. He looked closer and thought he saw the glint of the camera eye. His hands reached toward the vent, only to stop. They were watching him find their camera. Never mind, he had to find out.
He reached upward again, and seeing that the vent had nothing affixing it to the ceiling he pushed up on the center of it. It moved upwards at his gentle pushing. He felt it slid sideways. He looked into the dark hole he had made in the ceiling. All he saw was the open air vent and dark dull metal walls. Nothing else was there. He felt a little ashamed that he had wasted so much company time looking for eyes where there were none. He pulled the grate back over the hole and slowly got down off the toilet rim. He sighed deeply and sat back down to compose himself and after a minute got up and left the stall. He washed his hands in the sonic sink and walked toward the door, with just one last longing look at the air vent over the stall. He opened the door to the bathroom and was about to enter the hall.
Arms grabbed him and pulled him forcibly out into the hall, twisting him around and forcing him against the wall next to the bathroom door. They tied his hands and arms with a tight tie of some kind. The only sound he heard was a man's voice whispering to him.
"We can't have people like you nosing around, it's a crime you know. Curiosity has been Illegal for two days now. You'll be the first to die for breaking the LAW."
The only thing Joe heard from then on was the rushing of wind through his hair as he rode the Indian pony, or was it the rush of air through the vent on the ceiling.
Charles E. Owens Jr. (1997)Revised 2006