The Herbal Medicine (Flash Fiction #41)

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

“I’m afraid I need to return this.” Penni stands at counter of the vacant little grocery store.

“My store has a no return policy for any package that’s opened.” Leong, the store owner says sternly.

“It’s opened, but I couldn’t use it. I got cold feet and dropped the plan. You charged me $300 dollars for this. That’s like robbery.” Penni is quite indignant.

Leong has run the store for 10 years and his business shrewdness tells him that Penni is not so difficult to handle.

It’s the biggest city in Ohio. And the real estate is very affordable. In a stroke of enthusiasm, Leong and his wife bought this place and opened this little grocery store. There is a sizable Asian population, which is estimated to bring enough business to the little store, but it turns out to be a wrong estimate. In desperation, Leong starts a side business of selling herbal medicine, which has a long shelf life and a good profit margin.

“I am not leaving until I get my refund.” Penni says and sits down on the wooden boxes piled at the corner. “You are selling it at such a high price and don’t do return. That’s very wicked of you.”

“More wicked than you who’s trying to poison somebody?” Leong says, looking at Penni with amusement.

“Look, he wants to leave me, OK? After I sacrificed everything for him, he wants to leave me. I won’t let that happen. I asked for enough herbal poison for two people so that we would die together. I will never leave him, dead or alive. But I have no courage to carry it out. I just can’t do it. I am such a coward.”

“How about this? Keep the package and you may want to use it when you change your mind. I will give you a 5% discount card that you can use for a year. How’s that?”

Penni is indignant, but she can’t resist the card Leong hands to her. She takes it and on her way out, she picks up a package of dried mushroom and a box of 12 Korean pears.

“Hi, Ma’am, you need to pay for that.” Leong’s wife Lia tries to chase after Penni, but Leong stops her by saying, “Let her go.”

“What are you doing? Selling poison? Are we so desperate? By the way, is that the rat poison you are selling to her?” Lia asks.

“No poison. It’s just some harmless herbs. Will make her drowsy for two hours.” Leong says.

33 thoughts on “The Herbal Medicine (Flash Fiction #41)

  1. This almost reminds of a story from MengZi (Mencius as he is known in the West) in which a warrior had to fight his teacher. The warrior, not wanting to kill his teacher, decided to shoot him with arrows with the arrowheads taken out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such interesting characters, as usual! An indignant, irrational customer and a shrewd businessman. β€œJust harmless herbs that make her drowsy for two hours” Lol what a twist!

    Liked by 2 people

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