Short story: Wall of Shame

To understand what happened, why it happened, you need to know that for three years we worked in a climate of fear. Our backwater branch office was where our boss, Eldritch, got to play at being our torturer, tormenting us for his amusement. On the wall was an A4 sheet on which Eldritch had printed the words:

‘ISYFU’ meaning ‘I see you fuck up.’

There were pictures of all of us on that wall – me on drunken night out, with my pants on my head; Hadely when he started to doze off in a meeting; Butterworth picking her nose. Eldritch always had his phone ready. Each photo was carefully chosen to make us look like dicks. At first we tried behaving at work, but it made no difference because then he started trawling our social media for embarrassing old posts and stuck them on his wall for all to see. Of course, we tried not posting anything, that just made things worse. Avoid his sneering and he sought you out, found ever more humiliating ways to show you up, until you submitted. That’s what happened to Janet, she made all her social media accounts private, so he put superglue on her chair and then livestreamed the results.

It was only a matter of time before someone cracked. Not me, but I thought about it often, enjoying daydreams of revenge. After it happened, people would read the new stories and say: Why didn’t you just leave? but they’re living in dreamland. We stayed because the money was good, we stayed because we’re still in a recession and you can’t just throw away a good job, can you? Everybody hates their job, right? Well, so did we. People have said: Why didn’t you sue? and I don’t get that either, the job might be well paid, but none of us had the thousands necessary to take on a whole organisation and win. HR knew that; when we made complaints, they would smile sweetly, tap at their computers and do nothing.

Up until that day, I only ever thought about the janitor when the vending machines ran out of coffee or chocolate, or  the sink got blocked. But I still knew the photo of him, taken when he was on the toilet. It was also on a poster on the toilet door. Yes, Eldritch had a camera pointing at the toilet.

Being the janitor, he had all kinds of powers I’d never thought about. For a start, it was his job to catch the rats. He was supposed to kill them of course, not keep them in a cage in the basement, but no one went down there but him, so we had no way of knowing that he was stockpiling. He kept them hungry. He also put a bolt on Eldritch’s door one night, on the outside, high up where nobody noticed it. And on the fateful day he found it easy to slip a tranquiliser into Eldritch’s afternoon coffee. It must have taken some planning, but when your anger is all that gets you through the day, when hatred for your job is your only source of energy, planning is easy.

The police asked me: Why didn’t you hear the screams? Well, his office was soundproofed, after all, he wanted to be the only one with the power to spy. They asked: Wasn’t it odd that he stayed in his office all that afternoon? Well, yes, it was; but when you have a boss like Eldritch you enjoy having a bit of peace, you don’t pester the beast, you let him rest. And then the question that really rankles: Did you know you’d get promoted to Eldritch’s job after he died? No, of course not. Although having been here the longest, I was the natural choice.

So, things are peaceful now. Now that the carpet has been cleaned and the story is out of the papers. Now that I am the boss. Of course I took down all entries on the wall of shame and the cameras in the toilets. I let my workers relax; finally they can enjoy their jobs. I do monitor their social media accounts, download any interesting photos or posts; each employee has their own folder, just on the off-chance. Now they think no one’s watching they get up to some ridiculus shit. It’s the work Christmas party coming up soon, I’m looking forward to collecting a few embarrassing snaps then, I may set up a Tumblr account. After all a little fear is useful, keeps everyone focussed.