Authority By D.I. Jolly
When Benny had first gotten his job as night security, he was convinced he had just hit the jackpot. He would have his days free to do what he wanted and then sleep at work and get paid for it. Because who would want to break into a textile factory? And in some ways, he was right, no one wanted to break into a textile factory, nor did anyway want to call him, hang out with him or even pop by to say hello. The work computer had all been locked out of social media and he had to make hourly perimeter sweeps which included signalling to each camera for confirmation. And then there were the two guard house cameras. Which meant he could even get in trouble for spending too much time reading because he was supposed to be watching the monitors. It didn’t take long before Benny started to hate his job. The work itself was fine, he found it hard to hate something that boring. He actually found it hard to feel anything about something that boring. What really got to him was the loneliness. He quickly realised that just because he was free during the day didn’t mean his friends were, and he was tired from work so slept most of the time anyway, he missed people. So when, for the first time in seven months, he saw someone moving on one of the monitors, he was kind of excited. Finally, someone to talk to. With torch in hand, he made his way over to the fence and shone his light on the figure of a man, who appeared to be digging.
“Hey, what are you doing over there?”
The man looked up into the light and smiled.
“Oh that’s brilliant! Can you come shine that over here? That would make this much easier.”
Benny stared at the man, so surprised by his reply that he wasn’t sure what to do, so he stepped forward and shone his light in the hole. Still smiling the man looked down and said.
“Right, brilliant, I think that’s about deep enough.”
He then reached into the darkness and came back with a sapling which he proceeded to start planting in the hole.
“My name’s Jack, by the way, I really appreciate the help.”
Benny continued to stare for a few moments before his sanity came rushing back.
“Wait, what are you doing here? This is private property.”
“Oh I know, I saw all the signs. And I’m planting trees, obviously.”
Jack straightened out and pointed down along the fence.
“You see, this whole area just sits here, and since the factory produces quite a lot of carbon dioxide I thought, why not plant some trees here? It’ll help with the Co2 and look better. Also, it means more trees which is always a win.”
He grinned at Benny then patted the tree into the ground, picked up and shovel and started walking along the fence, then stopped and turned back.
“Well? Come on then.”
Benny stared at him totally bewildered.
“But, but, I… I need to get back to my post?”
His voice has started off weak and seemed to lose confidence as it went, but Jack just continued to smile.
“Nightwatchman is it?”
“Well, like you said, this is private property so you have to come with me to make sure I don’t break or steal anything. Really, by shining the light you’re doing your job. If you just left me well, that would just be reckless.”
Benny stared at him, knowing full well that it was basically just all bullshit, but he couldn’t fault him, he was right he couldn’t just leave a man digging holes and planting trees. It was his job to… to do something. But he was so taken in by Jack’s charm that he wasn’t exactly sure what he was supposed to do, so he followed him and held the light as Jack started to dig a new hole.
“Don’t worry… Uuummmm, what’s your name?”
“Oh, nice name. Don’t worry Benny, I’ve only got three more trees to plant and then I’ll be on my way.”
Benny nodded his head and thought okay, but was still very confused by the whole situation.
“Who said you could plant the trees here?”
“Oh, no one.”
“But then, how do you know you’re allowed to plant them here?”
Jack looked up at him and smiled again.
“Well, no one said I couldn’t plant them here. And if we really think about it, trees do belong in the ground, so?”
Jack, still smiling, shrugged and went back to digging, while Benny tried to think of something else to say or any words at all, but every time he opened his mouth, he just couldn’t find any. So he kept holding the light and walking with Jack, listening to him talk about the benefits of the trees until he was done. Then they walked together back to the guard house and stopped. Jack extended his hand and smiled a little broader.
“Thanks ever so much for your help Benny, it would have taken me much longer without you.”
“No… no problem.”
They shook hands and Jack walked off out of sight, leaving Benny standing alone again, wondering if it had actually happened, if anyone had actually been there or if it had just been a weird fatigue induced hallucination.