CCTV (Short Story)
Kyle Kallgren stepped inside his tiny room, bathing in the pillowy blue glow of dozens of old TVs. Another day, another dollar. He slumped into his rolling office chair, running his hands over the pilled armrests. There was nothing to do now but watch. While it was definitely not the most engaging work, it was better than no job at all. Plus, there were at least a few perks. Like easy access to the vending machine in the hall. Kyle nonchalantly sipped his ice cold Diet Coke, perusing the screens for anything of interest. So far, nothing. He watched the poker tables and didn’t see any clunky sleight-of-hand. He looked at the slot machines and didn’t see any old grannies trying to shove a magnet up the pay slot. He looked in the lobby, and there was only the normal hustle and bustle of nameless guests. Kyle sighed and leaned his head in this hands. What he wouldn’t give to be back at home, resting in his soft bed, with Lisa.
He smiled, her name rushing down his spine in a tingle of happiness. He still couldn’t believe he was marrying Lisa in only a few months. It seemed like only yesterday when they started their courtship in high school. She was the head of the cheerleading squad. He was just a nobody, trying to get through school with good grades for a good future. A math teacher had put them next to each other in class, and their personalities just clicked. Despite the jealousy from his friends (and the captain of the football team), he and Lisa stuck it out through senior year and college. Kyle smiled fondly as he reminisced. And now, who knew what the future held for them? Kyle mindlessly rubbed his ring finger, wrapped up in his daydreams. The sleepy glow of the TVs glazed his eyes.
After a few mind numbing quiet minutes, a knock on the door made Kyle jump. He scrambled a few papers together into a messy pile and straightened his slumped posture. An older man with greying hair, artificially dyed black sideburns, and wrinkles like trenches in his skin stepped into the dark room with a coffee in hand.
“Kallgren, I got something to tell ya,” he barked in his rough smoker voice. “We got a new order shipment of security cameras in today. We’re gonna be putting them up periodically, so people are gonna be in and out of here for a while. By the end of it you’ll have seventeen new screens.”
Kyle attempted to stifle his rueful scowl in surprise. Seventeen new screens meant seventeen times the obligations. Nice. “Three in the poker room, two in the blackjack room, and the rest are for the hallways in the hotel rooms.” Kyle’s boss sipped his coffee. “Keep a special eye on those hotel hall cameras when they come in. We’ve got a bit of a vandalism issue. Damn kids won’t stop putting their spray paint tags and edgy stickers on our walls. Guess it was my fault for not ordering them sooner.”
He dipped out of the room for a moment. Kyle almost went back to staring. “Hey,” the boss called back. “Thanks for working so hard.” He shuffled rather awkwardly for a second, as if every time he complimented his employees he stepped in a knee-deep puddle of mud. Then, he bolted off. Kyle sighed and kept looking at his screens.
The next few days were ones of relative excitement and annoyance for Kyle. Buff labor men occasionally slammed down bulky, bunny-eared TVs onto the teetering pile, slowly winding their cords into the already fire-hazard-worthy tangle of wires behind the TV table. The blank TV’s would blink to life, showing a new bit of the hotel Kyle had never seen before. It was interesting enough, it’s not like he would ever be in there. Like he would stay here after watching the place all day. Kyle clicked his pen against the table. The first few days presented nothing new. The only people who would cheat in a dump like this were usually as smooth and deliberate as puppies with ice skates on, and Kyle could easily find a cheater. But soon, the TV’s to the hotel hallways clicked to life.
There was something distinctly different about the people who crawled up into the hotel rooms, whiskey bottles in hand; their drunken smiles and stumbling gaits beamed an air of rowdy sensual bliss through the blue little screens. Kyle couldn’t help but pity them. Everytime he saw a couple stumbling over each other, losing shoes and inhibitions as they meandered down the hallways and stumbled into their bed-bug-infested rooms, he could only shake his head and think of how lucky he was. How lucky he was to have the girl of his dreams at home.
Days bled into each other like watercolors. Everyday activities of tourists, drunks, and gamblers swam before Kyle’s tired eyes. New screens were being added every day, adding just about nothing to the entertainment value of his job. He gulped down some cold coffee as he watched his screens. The hotel was especially slow this afternoon, and there was even less to see than usual. Kyle was about to get up to get some more coffee, but his tired legs rooted him to his chair for a lingering moment. His eyes trailed over the screens on more time, when something in the grainy footage caught his eye.
A girl was reclining against the wall, almost out of view of the camera. Her wavy hair slid down to her thin waist, her hips waving a happy hello to a man who had just walked through the door. She met him halfway across the lobby floor and embraced him. Even through the blue screens, he could see she was flirting with him. He could also see she was gorgeous. Kyle’s eyes fixated onto the girl, trailing down to her slender legs. He tried to snap himself out of it. He had a fiancee at home, a beautiful one at that. But yet, so was she. But, the more he stared at the stranger, the more and more familiar she became. The wavy hair, the long legs, the killer body, who was she? And when she turned towards the camera, he finally saw it was his fiancee.
“Look, Kyle, you need to calm down a little bit.” drawled Kyle’s sister, Christina, over the phone. “I know what it looks like, and if it is what it looks like, trust me, I’d be mad as hell. But maybe it isn’t what it seems. She’s got a lot of friends from work and from that quilting bee thing she does.”
Kyle took an objecting breath into the receiver. “ I know, I know,” Christina cut back in. “Quilting bees are usually just for girls, but hey man, this is 2016. And if it’s still possible to get enough wack-jobs together for a blasted quilting bee of all things, I’m sure she wouldn’t segregate by gender.”
Kyle sighed heavily into the receiver.
He heard Christina shuffling around, a rare silence permeating over the phone. She flopped down onto some furniture.
“Listen, Kyle,” her voice turned soft. “I understand that this is rough for you, and I totally get it. But even you said yourself that you didn’t know for sure what was going on. Looks can be deceiving sometimes, I guess. I don’t want what could be happening to be real either. You and Lisa are so happy together. You guys just…” Christina paused. “Click. Like you were made for each other. Everyone in the family knows it, and I’m sure you know too.”
She sighed. “We all want you to be happy. I want you to be happy. And Lisa makes you happy, and I wouldn’t want you to jeopardize that, not yet. But,” she continued sternly, “Just because you’re my older brother doesn’t mean I can’t tell you a thing or two. And here’s what I think you should do. Don’t say anything to her. Don’t tip her off. You’re in a really unique place right now, where if this happens again, you’ll know about it for sure, with hard evidence she can’t dispute. If you tell her you saw her, that could mess things up. If you don’t see her again in like, maybe a week or so, confront her. Or don’t, I don’t know what you want to do.”
Christina sighed in sadness for Kyle. “But I think you should go with that. And if, by some chance, you see her again with that guy, and maybe it’s more than friendly contact, well…” Kyle could almost hear Christina’s devious smile through the phone. “I’m sure you could think of some appropriate vengeance.”
“Now,” Christina’s tone changed back to her usual rough-and-tumble self. “I’ve gotta make dinner, Emily has a soccer game in an hour and her terminally stupid half-dead senile coach will make her run another ten laps if we get stuck in traffic again. Seriously, there’s gotta be something wrong with you if you love making nine-year-old kids cry for something they didn’t do. Gotta be a sociopath or something. Must be an old people thing. But, I’ll catch you later, Kyle. Stay safe.”
The phone clicked off. Kyle shoved his phone in his pocket, upset but relieved. Christina was right, the best thing to do now would be to play the waiting game. And retribution would be sweet, need be.
The last of the TVs was installed the next day. The boss came over to inspect the new security set up, but Kyle couldn’t care much for his bosses’ awkward rough talk. He had a job to do. Kyle scanned the TVs more carefully than he ever had before. With the added load of nineteen extra screens, he had his work cut out for him. With his careful scrutiny, he noticed far more cheaters at the tables. With every call on his walkie talkie to security, he could only wonder how much he had been missing this whole time. He combed through people, looking for fleas in the coat of the crowd. His vigilance got him three empty cups of coffee, five arrested perps, but no results.
Until the next day, however.
Kyle had almost slipped his grip on his vigilance. Tiredness and guilt was chipping away at his resolve. Part of him asked how dare he be so scrutinous towards his own fiancee, the woman he was supposed to love deeply and unconditionally. How could he not trust her? He’d known her for so long now, their trust should have been unbreakable. However, a small nugget of himself stayed petrified in rock hard doubt, impervious to his love towards Lisa. It was this that drove him forward, plus some Dr. Pepper spiked with coffee. An acquired taste, to be sure. Kyle grimaced down his concoction, never breaking his eyes from the screens. Until, all at once, he found what he’d been searching for.
On one of the new screens, the elevator doors parted, revealing a couple practically tied together, seeming to be too impatient to start their romance in their room and elected for the elevator. One was a man Kyle had never seen before. The other was his darling Lisa. Kyle almost threw up in his mouth. He didn’t know what was worse, that his future wife was the one getting felt up in the grimy hotel elevator, or the fact that this wasn’t the man he had seen yesterday. How many men did she have? Kyle could only imagine in horror. The couple stumbled from the elevator, glancing around playfully for onlookers. Lisa trailed behind him, her hand entwined in his. Kyle hadn’t seen her look this happy since college. Kyle shoved himself into his chair, scooting away from the TV’s like they were rabid dogs snarling at him. She always said she was feeling stressed out from work, she was tired, she was dealing with a lot with her family. He didn’t know her gradual decline was from himself. How easily she plastered on a smile for him! It was insultingly easy for her.
Kyle felt tears and bile rise up in him as he wondered how stupid he could have been. The signs were all there. The late calls into work, hell, the early calls into work. The countless mornings he woke up alone, note on the table, signed with her name and a trail of exes and ohs, that she had gone out for groceries and would be back in a few hours. How she’d gone out with friends, got an unexpected workload, that her family needed her. What was real? What was a lie? Kyle had no idea anymore. He felt like he was sinking to the bottom of the sea.
Lisa and her lover practically ran into Room 415; however, they took extra care to throw the Do Not Disturb sign on the doorknob, before shoving themselves into each other arms like animals and shutting the door. Kyle finally got up on his shaky legs. He threw up into the plastic trashbin, spewing acid and soda into his nose. The black pain in his chest wasn’t satiated. Kyle stared up in crackling hatred in the sleepy glow of the TVs. He knew the only thing that could cure him now was revenge. And as he stared at the door his future had escaped into, he knew exactly what to do.
“Hi there, my name’s Dwight. But my friend’s call me Dwight cubed. Wanna know why? It all started when…” Dwight D. Dwight trailed off into his words, and looked down at his mop bucket. Kyle’s imposing build and angry eyes didn’t help his anxiety much.
“Um… nevermind. What can I do for you?” Kyle cocked his eyebrow and was about to speak, but Dwight cut him off. “Hey, wait a second. I think I know you from somewhere.” Dwight squinted his eyes for moment, then gasped and snapped in realization after looking at Kyle’s nametag. “Oh yes, of course! You’re Lisa’s fiancee!”
Kyle stepped back in shock. How did this rando know who he was? “I went to the quilting bee Lisa held at Michael’s not too long ago. She couldn’t stop talking about you, she went on and on truly. SO many details. Pretty private details, truthfully.” Dwight awkwardly nudged Kyle’s cold shoulder. “Didn’t know a man like you would be down with half the stuff she spilled to her girlfriends.”
Kyle felt his face erupt into bright pink.
“But, truthfully,” he continued, “I thought it was quite strange because she left with a man that didn’t match her description of you at all, even though she said it was you…”
Dwight’s pimple-pocked face lit up in realization. “Oh my, this is quite the conundrum, huh? I thought it was strange she would board up with so many…” Kyle’s fiery eyes glowed hot for a moment. Dwight cowered behind his mop. “Hey hey hey, don’t kill the janitor. I think I could help you, if you want!” Dwight cheerly dug through his uniform’s large pocket. Triumphantly, he held up a tiny white plastic pouch, admiring it as if it were some great treasure. On the front there was a gaudy logo of a cartoon man screaming and scratching himself raw.
“Son of an Itch!” announced Dwight proudly. “The highest quality, most potent itching powder on the market. It’s illegal in ten countries!” Dwight smiled gleefully. “I got it from my internet friend, CookieCake645. She… doesn’t regard the law highly, let’s say.” He shoved the powder back into his pocket. “And I’d be willing to help you, free of charge. That’s what Lisa gets for calling my stitching blocky.” Dwight huffed to himself.
“You do want some revenge, don’t you?” Dwight asked pensively. Kyle nodded coldly. “Great.” said Dwight. “Consider it done. She always holes up in the same room. Kind of surprised you never noticed, truthfully. When I go into clean, I’ll be sure to sprinkle this in her hotel bed, and the rest will be done lickety-split.” Dwight pushed his mop down the hallway. “But don’t be surprised if something crazy happens.”
He stopped and turned for a moment. “But, I have a feeling that’s what you want.” He shrugged, continuing on his way. “No judgements. Women have a way of worming into your heart and eating it ‘til it’s rotten. Just don’t let ‘em get to the core, and you’ll turn out alright.” Dwight winked wonkily as he rounded the corner, painfully slamming his mop bucket into his leg by accident. Kyle was left alone in the hallway, stewing in peculiar, primal, petty excitement.
Kyle didn’t have to wait long. After his ex-fiancee’s lover escaped from the pitch black room, with his Lisa departing hours later, Dwight snuck in to do his devious deed. As he left the room after sprinkling his illegal itching powder all over the love den, he flashed a thumbs up to the camera, almost tripping over his own feet as he did. Kyle reclined in his chair and let the hot iron gush of cruel satisfaction boil in his belly. Perfect. Dwight stopped by a bit later.
“Hey pal,” he peeked in his head without knocking. “Figured you would want a trophy. Don’t worry, I washed it out.” Dwight tossed him the empty packet of Son Of An Itch, minus the tiny tab on top. “The deed’s done. Enjoy the show!” With that, Dwight departed. Kyle could only thank God that he wasn’t stupid enough to insult Dwight’s quilting skills.
Towards the end of his shift, as Kyle darkly wondered how he could potentially put on a smiling face for Lisa after all of this, she returned. It didn’t matter who the man was now, but there she was, trailing behind him, hand-in-hand. Kyle felt a stab of grief as he remembered how she had once done that for him, walking to the lunch table, the bleachers for a football game, their car, their home. He tried to roughly shake the emotions away. It was all gonna come to her now.
Lisa slipped into Room 415 with her man. Kyle watched, still as stone, for a few moments. Suddenly, a flurry of activity. Someone was grappling with the door handle. Eventually, the man burst from the room in his boxer shorts, scratching himself wildly. The security cameras didn’t pick up sound, so his screams of agony were mute on Kyle’s successful ears. To Kyle, the flailing of Lisa’s lover was the second best mime performance on Earth, only behind his lady Lisa’s. Lisa pealed out of the room in her underwear, a particularly expensive pair Kyle had purchased for her himself, stumbling into flower vases and walls until finally reaching the elevator. Kyle chuckled blackly. His eyes glowed with gratification in it’s most carnal form. Kyle waited for Lisa to appear again, and she did in a grand way. Her screaming form was rushing into the lobby like a crazed succubi, frightening the crowd of customers into parting for her. Kyle stepped out of his office just as his walkie talkie started blaring for backup. He was way ahead of them.
When Kyle stepped into the lobby, Lisa was screaming viciously, desperately wriggling away from other security officers trying to restrain her. Kyle suppressed a laugh. HE put on his game face and moved to the front of the team. Lisa instantly recognized him.
“Oh, Kyle! Kyle, dear! Something horrible is happening to me, I’m dying Kyle!” She grabbed onto his pant leg. “Please Kyle, I’m-” Kyle swiftly kicked her in the ribs, knocking her on her back, stunned. He leaned down as if he was going to try restraining her. Subtly, he slipped the empty packet of itching powder into her bra, unseen to anyone but her.
“We’re through.” Kyle muttered poisonously into her ear. Her cries cut to stunned silence. Kyle hauled her up and handed her over to the rest of his team as a screaming ambulance pulled up to the curb. Lisa was mewling like a kitten as they loaded her into the back of the vehicle. Kyle stepped back inside the saccharinely sappy golden walls of the lobby, cutting through the relaxing crowd. He returned to his post, bathing in the blue.
Last edited by Spocktopus; 06-01-2016 at 06:54 AM..