• Jeff South

Cincinnati Chili: Frail

Gwen’s desk was empty. Cleaned out. No pictures of her and her fiancé in annoyingly adorable poses. No small dish of what she called “community candy.” The only remains of her Corporate existence was a small dry erase board she had hanging on one of her cubicle walls that still had yesterday’s inspirational quote of the day:

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud

-Maya Angelou

“What happened to Gwen?” Grover asked Tanvi Deshmukh a Senior Product Configuration Architect, but she only shrugged. Just like that Gwen was no more. The timing was suspicious, of course. She had advised him to stay clear of the Cincinnati Chili project, which only made him all the more interested. Now, she was gone. Would Corporate come for him next?

He sat at his own desk and stared ahead at the void on the other side that Gwen once occupied. His renewed sense of self stirred by last night’s Charlamagne tha God quote now seemed frail and slight. Perhaps this was a sign for him to abandon his quest and simply return to the mundane existence he had come to embrace.

His phone buzzed. A text message from Gwen.

Don’t respond to this. Just look in your upper right desk drawer.

Grover’s stomach knotted and he swallowed hard as he complied with Gwen’s text. In the drawer was a manila envelope with a Post-it note on it that read “open this at home.”

That night, over a plate of fish sticks, Grover opened the envelope. Inside he found another Post-it from Gwen: You’ll need these.

He removed a multi-page document labeled “Rube Goldberg Protcols.”


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