Paranoia (094 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Macmillan: Paranoia

Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.


Yet the key to Camilletti's office was nowhere to be found.

I checked all the usual places—every drawer in his admin's desk, inside the plants and paper-clip holder, even the filing cabinets. Her desk was open to the hallway, totally exposed, and I began to feel nervous poking around there, where I so clearly didn't belong. I looked behind the phone. Under the keyboard, under her computer. Was it hidden on the underside of the desk drawers? No. Underneath the desk? Also no. There was a small waiting-room area next to her desk—really just a couch, coffee table, and a couple of chairs. I looked around there, but nothing. There was no key.

So maybe it wasn't exactly unreasonable that the company's chief financial officer might actually take a security precaution or two, make it hard for someone to break into his office. You had to admire that, right?

After a nerve-wracking ten minutes of looking everywhere, I decided it wasn't meant to be, when suddenly I remembered an odd little detail about my own new office. Like all the offices on the executive floor, it was equipped with a motion detector, which is not as high-security as it sounds. It's actually a common safety feature in the higher-end offices—a way to make sure that no one ever gets locked inside his own office. As long as there's motion inside an office, the doors won't lock. (More proof that the offices on the seventh floor really were a little more equal.)

If I moved quickly I could take advantage of this....

The door to Camilletti's office was solid mahogany, highly polished, heavy. There was no gap between the door and the deep pile carpet; I couldn't even slide a piece of paper under it. That would make things a bit more complicated—but not impossible.

I needed a chair to stand on, not his admin's chair, which rolled on casters and wouldn't be steady. I found a ladderback chair in the sitting area and brought it next to the glass wall of Camilletti's office. Then I went back to the sitting area. Fanned out on the coffee table were all of the usual magazines and newspapers—the Financial Times, Institutional Investor, CFO, Forbes, Fortune, Business 2.0, Barron's....

Barron's. Yes. That would do. It was the size and shape and heft of a tabloid newspaper. I grabbed it, then—looking around once again to make sure I wasn't caught doing something I couldn't even begin to explain—I climbed up on the chair and pushed up one of the square acoustic ceiling panels.

I reached up into the empty space above the suspended ceiling, into that dark dusty place choked with wires and cables and stuff, felt for the next ceiling panel, the one directly over Camilletti's office, and lifted that one too, propped it up on the metal grid thing.

Taking the Barron's, I reached over, lowered it slowly, waving it around. I lowered it as far as I could reach, waved it around some more—but nothing happened. Maybe the motion detectors didn't reach high enough. Finally I stood up on tiptoe, crooked my elbow as sharply as I could, and managed to lower the newspaper another foot or so, waving it around wildly until I really began to strain some muscles.

And I heard a click.

A faint, unmistakable click.

Pulling the Barron's back through, I put the acoustic ceiling panel back, sat it snugly in place. Then I got down from the chair, moved it back where it belonged.

And tried Camilletti's doorknob.

The door came open.


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