Cognitive Dissonance

gun metal barrel
Photo by Somchai Kongkamsri on

“Frank! Come on in.” Her smile faltered when he hesitated and Frank suppressed a rush of indignation at the sight of her office. It should be his. Instead, he silently fumed, the Board chose this black chick to be Director of Biochemical Processes; ostensibly, because of her supposed “outstanding education” and “groundbreaking achievements”. But Frank knew the truth: political correctness run amok! She probably learned chemistry in some crack-house somewhere and Stanford tripped over themselves to get her because of affirmative action. When he said as much, his colleague called a racist! Frank told him a racist was just an insult to a white man who wanted a level playing field. It wasn’t fair. Things have gone off the rails since he was a kid. Nothing made sense anymore- except the 9×19 Sig Pro tucked into the back of his pants. Guns made sense where there was none.

“Hello, Elizabeth.” He smiled as she walked around her desk to shake his hand. As Frank stepped into the room, he congratulated himself on stifling a shudder. He took the seat she indicated, calming at the feel of the cool hunk of metal pressed into his lower back. Instead of sitting behind her desk, she took the seat beside his and regarded him with warmth- and concern. And he decided to take in the room. He refrained from rolling his eyes at her diplomas from MIT and Stanford but felt discomfort at the sight of her Heatley Medal. Elizabeth was the first black to win it. And Frank’s eyes widened in shock at the Biochemical Society Award. Elizabeth followed his gaze then laughed.

“Yeah, can you believe it?”

Honestly, he couldn’t. The Biochem Society had very stringent rules and standards, affirmative action and political correctness be damned. How did she get one?

Maybe she deserved it? Frank inwardly shook off the thought.

“I didn’t know you won it this year.” Her eyes widened at the edge in his voice, he softened it. “Congratulations.” He smiled.

“Thanks, Frank. The announcement will be in the next publication.”

“Was it for the Biorich process?” Elizabeth created a method to quicken the growth and stabilization process of new formulas that revitalized the industry. They called it creative and bold- a concept Frank never liked. He thought playing it safe would get him what he wanted. Obviously, he was wrong. He squirmed.

The concern returned to Elizabeth’s eyes. “Are you okay?” Her voice lowered as it filled with sympathy. “I know you feel you deserved this position.”

Do I?

Frank was a scientist. He followed the evidence. And around him was plenty of evidence that wasn’t the case. Evidence that she was better educated and more accomplished. Evidence she deserved the promotion. His chest tightened.

“Frank, are you alright?”

No. There was evidence all of his assumptions were wrong and he felt ashamed. He felt unbalanced. Things made no sense, so he removed the gun from the back of his pants and shot her with it.

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