July 27th, 2016 – cont.
Gen slammed the door shut, squinting her eyes at Jessica as she left. It was like she was trying to throw daggers at Jessica with her mind. I stood there awkwardly, thrown in the mix.
“So, stake-out?” I offered, trying to cut the tension.
Gen’s face instantly changed from angry to amused, “oh, we’re going to catch this bitch and I already have a plan. It’s pretty simple. I’m going to have wings tomorrow. I’ll douse my wings in capsaicin hot sauce and then dust it with chili powder,” Gen said.
“What,” I replied, “what is capsaicin?”
“The hottest hot sauce,” she replied, “it’s hotter than ghost peppers. And it’s odorless. They won’t see it coming, er, smell it coming.”
“Don’t you think that a little…extreme?” I replied.
“Mass, lunch-stealers are right up there with car thieves and bank robbers. It’s the most passive-aggressive way to say ‘I don’t respect other people’s property!'”
“What if they puke or like, die?” I replied.
Gen sighed, “they probably won’t get past the first few bites. Besides, I don’t like when people mess with me. What do you do when people step on your toes?”
I shut my mouth. I’m really not one to talk, but then I remembered we are trying to find out who the thief is not set their mouth on fire.
“Wait,” I said, “but how is this going to help you find out who is stealing your lunch?”
“Did we not just have this conversation a minute ago? Get back to work!” Jessica reappeared out of nowhere.
“I’m on my ten-minute, boss,” Gen replied.
I made eye contact with Jessica for a second before turning around and heading back to the cubicle. I could tell they were either about to bicker or glare at each other in silence. Either way, I did not want to be there. I plopped down in my chair and whipped out my phone. The nice thing is while Jessica is distracted by Gen I can slack a little more. Scrolling through Instagram I saw Alicia had posted a selfie during her lunch break, and Dylan was out getting a mani-pedi. No new posts from Claire. Kristen didn’t post on Instagram, since she was scared of her parents discovering her lifestyle. I missed my friends, more than anything. Last summer only Kristen had a job, so hanging out was easy. This summer was different. I opened my messages and created a group text.
“Get together Saturday afternoon-evening at my place! Bring your swimsuit (obvs)” I hit send.
It had been far too long without a good hangout with the Pretty Committee, but even more so, I wanted to introduce Gen to the group. I was fully convinced that she was the breath of fresh air we needed, just like when Claire came into our lives. She was going to fit in perfectly.
“Who ya texting?” I jumped. Gen had come up right behind me, catching me off guard.
“My friends. Hey, I’m planning a hangout Saturday. Nothing fancy just some food and swimming. Can you come?”
“Oh,” she paused, “I’m not sure I’m really free this Saturday.”
“Just let me know whenever,” I smiled.
With that, Gen sat down and we resumed our work. She seemed a little off, probably because of Jessica. I made a mental note to ask what the deal was between them. Nobody has that kind of relationship without some type of explanation.
July 28th, 2016
“Today’s the day, Mass!” Gen beamed, “Every ten minutes we check to see if the lunch is gone. If it’s gone, we look around for whoever’s exhibiting signs of ingesting fire. They’re our culprit.”
“I still think someone could get sick from that,” I replied.
“Maybe, but they’ll never steal another lunch again. That’s justice, Mass,” she replied.
Gen seemed so confident in herself. It eased my nerves and made it easier to follow her. She has all the traits of a natural leader wrapped under an air of sarcasm and quirkiness. And so we executed the plan. Hours went by, and our lunch break came and went but nobody had touched the food. We checked as often as we could without looking too suspicious. Around two o’clock I opened the fridge to discover the lunchbox had been moved from one shelf to the one below it. As I popped the lid I discovered the food was indeed gone. I ran out and grabbed Gen.
“Quick! Split up! Whoever grabbed those wings is going to be in a lot of pain!” Gen said.
I nodded, “I’ll do the right side of the office, you do the left.”
We split up quickly. I was looking for anyone eating wings or rushing to the water fountain or bathroom. You can’t eat capsaicin sauce or even put your lips on it with feeling an immense amount of heat. I googled yesterday, it can be odorless and tasteless, meaning the thief may not even know until they take a good bite.
I walked past each person, but I had no luck. Nobody was eating any wings, downing lots of water, or struggling. For good measure I checked the bathroom but it was empty.
“Any luck?” Gen texted me.
“None,” I replied.
“Meet back in brkroom” she replied.
I hurried back to the break-room. Gen was sitting at a table, flustered. I opened the fridge, grabbed the lunchbox and opened it. It was still empty, so I wasn’t mistaken.
“Hmm, the thief must have ungodly high tolerance for spice,” Gen said, “or I’m missing something.”
“Well what now?” I sighed.
“I don’t know,” she replied, “I need to think. Want some tea?”
I nodded. And so we sat in the break-room sipping on some hot ginger tea. I was half-expecting Jessica to show up and yell at us for sitting around. I was thankful she didn’t. As I neared the bottom of the cup I couldn’t stop wondering about Gen and Jessica. I figured that maybe the Montenegro’s were somehow connected to Exude and therefore Gen couldn’t be fired, but it didn’t quite explain the tension.
“Can I ask you a question?” I said.
“You just did,” Gen winked.
I rolled my eyes, “Like that hasn’t been done before.”
Gen smirked, “what’s your question?”
“What’s the deal with you and our boss?” I asked.
“It’s such a long story,” she sighed.
“I have time,” I said. I got up to throw my tea bag in the trash when I spotted something peculiar.
“Wait!” I said, “Did you put your wings in a ziplock?”
“Yes!” Gen shot up.
And there they were – Gen’s wings, sitting in the trash can.
“Damn it!” Gen said, “they knew.”
“How could they though? I know the sauce is odorless but maybe they smelled the chili powder?”
Gen carefully grabbed the bag of wings and examined it.
“Ew, what are you doing?” I asked.
“The tape,” Gen replied. She was holding up the bag.
“Can you be more specific?” I said.
“I put a strip of tape to make sure the bag stayed closed. It’s wasn’t even lifted up.”
She was right. The strip of tape remained intact. I wasn’t split or cut. If it had been lifted, I doubt the person would have bothered to reseal the bag. They didn’t even open the bag.
Lunch thief – 1.
Team Gen – 0.
My Word is my Bond,
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