Shoot The Messenger (Flash Fiction)

Image by Samuel F. Johanns from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #153

“This is really… a case of… a case of … shooting the messenger.” Lulan manages to say, almost out of breath. But what can she do but to accept the reality? She has been regarded with disfavor by somebody whom everyone admires. She admires him too, and she has voiced her admiration, but she has a quick tongue, too quick for her own good. The problem is that she has a little bit of perception, plus a little bit of vanity, which prompts her to talk a little bit too much with other people about what she knows. “I am such a showoff, but I just can’t help myself.” Lulan says to herself.

As you know, Lulan is an unemployed anthropologist. Ivy, the owner of the Ivy Training Center (ITC), took pity on Lulan and hired her as an instructor. Ivy and her husband Tom managed the Ivy Training Center diligently, but still their business inevitably goes through ups and downs–sometimes it is because of the larger economic environment, sometimes it’s because of a costly expansion which doesn’t bring the expected return, sometimes it is because of their competitor. Anyway, when Ivy and Tom were really down in their luck ten years ago, a local business man named Ajun came to their rescue by lending them the badly needed money. Ever since then, Ajun and his wife Mi have been the supporter of ITC. And they have also been sending their two kids to the ITC to attend the after-school math and English tutoring.

One day about two years ago, several instructors of ITC were chatting after a whole day’s work ended.

“Mi told me that Ajun is so…. Well, he works so hard. Mi told me that he just doesn’t want to have one minute of time to relax. Ajun is on phone almost 24/7, all the time. And he is frequently on phone with people from overseas during morning hours. Mi said it is a signature of Ajun’s family that Ajun’s father and brother are all workaholic like Ajun. Can you believe that? No wonder they are more successful. I mean Tom and I work hard, but still we need to have the Sunday off, and we need vacations just to relax. Tom and I have to turn off our cell phone after 9PM every day just to have some time for ourselves…” Ivy said.

Cindy, Suk, and Vanu, all ITC instructors, were present, and each expressed his or her praise and adoration.

Lulan too said something complimentary. The problem with Lulan is that she doesn’t stop when she should stop. There’s an old story about a great painter who painted a perfect picture of a snake in a flower bed, expressing a message of some sort of aphorism. However the painter didn’t know when to stop and he continued the laborious work to add four little legs to the snake. Lulan can be an artist like that. She just doesn’t know when to stop.

After expressing her praise, Lulan continued, “you know, Ivy, sometimes overwork is a sign of narcissism and depression.”

“Depression? What are you talking about?” Ivy said, “Ajun doesn’t look like he’s depressed at all. Actually he is very upbeat and energetic. And he goes to the gym regularly. And just a month ago, Mi told me that Ajun pulled a muscle and strained his shoulders.”

“And over-exercise is a classical sign of narcissism and depression. A person can feel such a void about his or her own life that he or she can channel the energy into… And overdoing things and not respecting the boundary are typical narcissistic symptoms… And it runs in a family too.” Lulan says.

Ivy and her three assistants laughed at Lulan and disabused her of her opinions.

“Lulan, I over-ate last night. Am I having psychological problems?” Cindy said in a mock tone.

“Well, I am not saying Ajun is narcissistic at all. It is very likely he is not. However I just want people to be aware that sometimes a person may not really need the praise, but rather the person may need some psychiatric therapy. And the praise may be rather harmful since the person may continue the bad cycle in order to get more praise.” Lulan said.

Everybody looked at Lulan as if she’s mad.

“How can you say such a thing? A praise is a praise. People need praise. How can it be harmful? Lulan, you are just too negative. If you are not so negative, you probably would have got a job long ago as an anthropologist. Just imagine if you go for an interview in a university, and a respected professor in the department is hardworking and fond of exercises. You go there and say, ‘both hardworking and exercising are signs of narcissism and depression.’ People would be very upset when they hear that.” Ivy said and laughed heartily at Lulan’s eagerness to share her knowledge that nobody wanted to hear.

And other instructors laughed with Ivy.

(To Be Continued here)

5 thoughts on “Shoot The Messenger (Flash Fiction)

  1. I feel for her, there have been times where we’ve all said something we feel strongly about but that no one else wants to talk about. Even when we’re right.


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