Power Grid Failure Chapter Five

Good afternoon. Gigi the parti poodle here once again to introduce chapter five of my story Power Grid Failure. Today I am in desperate need of finding something to give my novelist for her birthday. I asked her what she wanted, and she told me my company. That is a lovely thing for her to say but I know she wants a gift. Something tangible. Humans are so difficult to get presents for. The Maltese is presenting her with a still wrapped Lindor ball he found behind the couch, but I know I must give her something better. I cannot be outdone by the Maltese. I did find a quarter out on the sidewalk during one of our walks and I believe if I were to polish it up a bit it might do. Humans like shiny things, do they not. It would be so much easier if I could just get approved for a credit card. And start a Roth IRA. And purchase stock in Chewy or as those in finance call it, CHWY. Anyway, here is chapter five of Power Grid Failure. Buon Natale!

Power Grid Failure


Gigi the parti poodle

Chapter Five

“Where do you follow me to?” Tiffany asks Sloan.

“I…well…we ride the same bus,” Sloan says.

“That can’t be right,” Windy says. “Sloan lives on the Eastside and Tiffany lives near the University.”

As soon as she says it, Windy realizes she’s blurted out more information than the company wanted her sharing with employees.

“Really?” Reynolds says amused. “I’ll bet you know a lot of things about our little motley crew. What about tech guy here? What can you tell me about him?”

Windy looks at Adams. “He’s part of our technology department.”


“I’m HR. It’s my job to keep employees’ information private.”

“What about when you get home? What about when you go out with the girls? Do you keep the employees’ information private then?”


“How about after you’ve ordered one of those tropical drinks with a chunk of pineapple and a maraschino cherry skewered with a paper umbrella?”

A now uncomfortable Windy says, “I keep this company’s employee information under lock and key.”

“Except when you go over to Mr. Peak’s house for a summer barbeque.”

“What are you talking about?”

“So, you didn’t tell Mr. Peak I had a criminal record?”

“Windy is the best HR representative this company has ever had,” Mr. Peak says suddenly feeling uncomfortable.

“That may be, but she still told you about my record.”

“What did you do?” Crystal asks.

All eyes turn and look at her.

Reynolds furrows his brow and says, “Let’s go get that vending machine open.”

The seven workers head into the breakroom where the Circle of Death stands still and unlit.

“How do you propose we go about breaking in?” Martin asks Reynolds.

“Brute force,” Reynolds says. “I could take a hammer and break each individual window.”

“I have a better idea,” Adams says.

“Okay, hot shot. What’s your plan?”

“Well, my friends and I use to have this tubular lock pick you can get at hardware stores. The picks have seven, eight and ten pick variations. We’d stick them into the lock and pop! The machine would open.”

“And then you’d steal the money.”

“No, we never stole the money out of the machines. That would be a crime.”

“Then why did you break into them?”

“Just to see if we could do it. But it will only work if the machine has a tubular lock.”

“So, you have these picks in your desk drawer then?”

“No, they’re back at my apartment.”

“Great,” Martin says. “Thanks for that. Reynolds, get the hammer.”

“No, wait. There’s another way. You can pop the lock using a pen instead. Provided it’s the right size to fit the lock. I think this is an old enough machine we can pop the lock.”

“Everyone head to your desks and bring this man back your pens,” Martin says.

“Guess you’re not the sharpest crayon in the box after all are you, Reynolds,” Sloan snarks.

Reynolds scoffs as he watches everyone except Adams leave the breakroom. “I’m a janitor,” he tells Adams. “I don’t have any pens.”

“That’s a brilliant idea Adams has,” Tiffany says to Sloan as they head to their desks.

Sloan scoffs and says, “It’s just some old college trick he and his nerd buddies came up with because they couldn’t get dates.”

“I think Adams is cute enough to get dates.”

“Cute? You think that dweeb is cute? He’s a creepy troll who crawls under desks.”

“At least he doesn’t stalk me.”

“Now, look,” Sloan says stopping. “This whole thing that weird janitor was talking about is totally overblown.”

“How far do you follow me out every night?”

“We both head in the same direction to the bus tunnel and catch our rides.”

“I’ve seen you on my bus.”

“On your bus?”

“Windy said you live on the Eastside. Why would you get on my bus which never goes to the Eastside if you live on the Eastside?”

“I…we need to find those pens,” Sloan says then scurries over to his desk.

Crystal rifles through the pens in her large coffee mug. The mug is robin’s egg blue with bright pink flamingos all over it. Despite its appealing appearance it looks out of place in the dreary business building.

Crystal has several types of pens for her work. She’s especially fond of worker pens from Germany that flow smoothly when she writes. But she keeps a stash of ordinary Bic ballpoint pens. She’s certain the type of pen Adams needs to open the lock is not a high-tech one. Grabbing her writing instruments, she hurries back to the breakroom.

Windy enters the breakroom with a bouquet of pens in a kaleidoscope of colors. Mr. Peak who rarely uses pens these days and instead tasks Tiffany with typing texts and emails knows he cannot come back emptyhanded. He opens the top drawer of his desk, scans what he has and grabs a couple stray pens before heading to the break room.

“Alright,” Adams says after everyone returns. “Let’s see what we’ve got. Everyone put your pens on the table here.”

All the employees lay out their pen collections on the breakroom table. Adams starts rummaging through them.

“If you know how to open a vending machine with a pen,” Crystal says, “don’t you keep the perfect sized pen in your own desk drawer?”

“I used to,” Adams says, “but since the company provides us pens, I figured I’d save money and took mine home.”

“Well, that sucks,” Sloan says.

“Yeah. The company pens are too thick to fit the lock and by looking at the table here, most of you had the same idea.”

“But they aren’t all company pens,” Martin says. Isn’t there something here that will work?”

Adams puts his hands on his hips. “Maybe this one,” he says picking up Crystal’s Bic disposable ball point pen with a removable cap. “I’m going to have to cut the head off and take out the ink tube. Is that okay?”

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” Crystal says.

“Okay, good. I need a sharp pair of scissors.”

“I have some in my office,” Windy says heading out.

“What if this doesn’t work,” Sloan says.

“Well,” Adams says, “I guess we’re going to have to find out.”


You can check out my books Chicane and the five installments of my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!Musicology: Volume Three, Twist!Musicology: Volume Four, Sweetie! and Musicology: The Epiquad on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will win Musicology!!!


A few weeks back, I recommended the 1988 film The Accused over Luckiest Girl Alive. This week I thought I’d recommend another movie dealing with similar subject matter, a tense intimate French film called Slalom. Written by Charlène Favier and Marie Talon and directed by Favier, the story is set in an elite ski club in the French Alps. Fifteen-year-old Lyz (Noée Abita in a luminous performance), a naturally talented skier who has been accepted to the prestigious ski club. Her mother Catherine (Muriel Combeau) who doesn’t truly understand her daughter’s passion for the sport has taken a job and cannot stay or visit the club often leaving Lyz on her own. Though not as experienced a skier as the other young hopefuls, Lyz is tenacious and hard working. This does not go unnoticed by the club’s lead coach Fred (Jérémie Renier) a charismatic but predatory man in his early forties who slowly grooms Lyz to be as much a champion like he once was as a victim. The film is reminiscent of the US Gymnastic team scandal touching on not only the physical and mental pressure put on young star athletes by temperamental coaches but also the devastation of sexual misconduct. I also found this article written by a former swimmer who in the 1960’s experienced firsthand the torture of narcissistic coaches: I was a teenage swimmer. It took me decades to admit my coach was abusive

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