October 22, 2018


The Aser Stories 05:Habit and Stubbornness


Namb Jubeth still hasn't figured out how to act even after he got killed for it. And like many people with bad habits, he doesn't care if he ever will.

By the time I got to the mountain village of Swale, I was pretty tired and hungry. An occasional spider would climb out of the bundle of firewood I had gathered along the way, and would try to crawl up my sleeve -- why do they feel compelled to do that? The ghost of Namb Jubeth answered automatically, "They are instinctively seeking higher ground, and darkness in which to hunt vermin. You could take off your tunic."

I stopped and stared at what was left of him. "Jubeth, this is exactly why you're still stuck haunting this road. Do you remember why your body was strewn all along the road for thirty-odd miles for the scavengers to carry off? Let me remind you. Goosing the girlfriend of the Black Knight from the Coast was THE least wise move you made in your life. Continued lewdness will not get you moving on to the next world."

"I don't care. I like it here. Pretty women pass along the road, and the occasional entertaining seer or wizard or shaman converses with me, what more could the next world offer? Peace? Boo. Peace is for warrior spirits. I only had one moment of violence in all my fleshy days, and never enough excitement." His image changed moment to moment, from chopped and disjointed skeleton bones to a hint of a face, and then a misty human shape, and back to bones again, rarely in the proper order.

I needed to find a place where I could rest and do a little barter for food and a blanket, so I rummaged in my pouch and found a bit of rosemary herb and dropped it on the road. Rosemary is for memory, and Namb Jubeth paused above the sprig, became engrossed in recollections, and faded from view.

Even as a ghost, Namb the Lecher won't change. Some people just never will.

Twenty-odd years ago I had a young wife ask me how she could keep her husband from leaving dirty underwear all over the floor. We went through all the textbook solutions: explain to him that you have many tasks to do, and picking up his own underwear would be such a help; that bending is more difficult when you are pregnant, and you'd appreciate the extra effort; have a heart to heart and bring him to the understanding that being expected to pick up dirty underwear every day when the clothes basket is right there is somehow demeaning; that you married him to be his wife, not his body-servant, dammit!!!

The husband was sympathetic while she talked, and nodded his head kindly, and continued to drop 'em wherever was convenient before he went to bed.

So she tried just letting them lie there, and didn't wash them. He didn't care, he just picked them up and put them on again, and dropped them on the floor as always. The smell eventually bothered the wife so much she washed the drawers, and then vowed that she would throw them out the window if she had to pick them up again. Pretty soon he had no underwear, and once again, just wore his trousers and dropped them on the floor, and they went out the window, too. The next day he put on one of her skirts to work in the field. A case of simple consideration became warfare over the course of years, and even after she gave up and just picked the undies up and put them in the clothes hamper herself, he would pull them out and hide them so that she couldn't wash them anyway. How they fought and reviled one another over such a stupid issue!

How would I personally have handled the issue? I'd like to think I'd have found out if my prospective husband was that stupid or inconsiderate before I bedded him. And if not, I'd have hired a maid to tidy up after the lout, and the husband could subsist on soup on the reduced household budget.

The husband hid his dirty knickers, and the woman found them and burned them, and then his pants, and locked up her skirts in a chest, and he went to the field to work with a naked ass, and was locked up himself by the local magistrate, and she enjoyed the ninety days free of his smelly underpants so well that she hired on as a cook in another village and took the kids with her and he had a devil of a time finding new clothes, because every woman in the village thought he was a pig and refused to make any for him for any price. His remaining days he spends alone, reviled, a smelly old joke about whom the village children make rude chants and rhymes.

Habit and stubbornness.

One of these days Namb Jubeth is going to cootchy-coo a seer with a dissolution spell and cold steel and that will be the end of his life as a revenant. Probably the only way to change his behavior, and it'll serve him right, too.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-03-19

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In the same series:

The Accursed
The Aser Stories: Sidelong
The Aser Stories 80: Cabin Fever
The Aser Stories 79: Just Don't Say It Before Spring
The Aser Stories 78: Judgment Call
The Aser Stories 77: "Are We There Yet?"
The Aser Stories 76: A Bone to Pick
The Aser Stories 75: Coalition Forces
The Aser Stories 74: Flying Monkeys
The Aser Stories 73: Elspeth, Ad Nauseam
The Aser Stories 072: Starve a Cold
The Aser Stories 071: House Call
The Aser Stories 70: Dinner Dates
The Aser Stories 69: Fire in the Hole
The Aser Stories 68: The Silk Fable
The Aser Stories 67: The Simple Life
The Aser Stories 66: For What You're Worth
The Aser Stories 65: Taking a Shot
The Aser Stories 64: Second Chances
The Aser Stories 63: The Second Step
The Aser Stories 63: Second Thoughts
The Aser Stories 60: Fish Story
The Aser Stories 59: Ace in the Hole
The Aser Stories 58: Knowledge is Power
The Aser Stories 57: Animal Tracks
The Aser Stories 56: Oz Can Keep Them All
The Aser Stories 55: Small Comfort
The Aser Stories 54: Letting Go
The Aser Stories 53: In a Spirit of Healing
The Aser Stories 52: Stinkin' Kids
The Aser Stories 51: No Words For It
The Aser Stories 50: The Friend in Need
The Aser Stories 49: Run for Cover
The Aser Stories 48: On the Fly
The Aser Stories 47: Just Thievery
The Aser Stories 46: Take My Shaman ... Please
The Aser Stories 45: Hot Stuff
The Aser Stories 44: Courtesy Call
The Aser Stories 43: Adding Insult to Injury
The Aser Stories 42: Natural Selection
The Aser Stories 41: Funny Business
The Aser Stories 40: Happy Endings
The Aser Stories 39: Working Dogs
The Aser Stories 38: Taking Sides
The Aser Stories 37: Dumb Animals
The Aser Stories 36: Harsh Words
The Aser Stories 35: Endangered Species
The Aser Stories 34: Common Language
The Aser Stories 33: Legal Torture
The Aser Stories 32: Whose Fault Is It?
The Aser Stories 31: Money Talks
The Aser Stories 30: The Perils of Sympathy
The Aser Stories 29: Raccoons
The Aser Stories 28: The Ghost of Garfer Miller
The Aser Stories 27: Dynamite
The Aser Stories 26: Junk Mail
The Aser Stories 25: Rose-Covered Cottages
The Aser Stories 24: Crime and Punishment
The Aser Stories 23: Image Is Everything
The Aser Stories 22: Is As Does
The Aser Stories 21: Gourmet Dining
The Aser Stories 20: Families and How They Are
The Aser Stories 19: The Difference Between Men and Women
The Aser Stories 18: On a Silver Platter
The Aser Stories 17: Point of View
The Aser Stories 16: Easy Street
The Aser Stories 15: Moguls
The Aser Stories 14: A Mile Toward Change
The Aser Stories 13: The Price of Freedom
The Aser Stories 12: A Question of Nudity
The Aser Stories 11: Rabbit From a Hat
The Aser Stories 10: Awards
The Aser Stories 09: On A Roll
The Aser Stories 08: Raising Children
The Aser Stories 07: Crosspasses Market
The Aser Stories 06: Judge, Jury, Shaman
The Aser Stories 05:Habit and Stubbornness
The Aser Stories 04: The Wrong Question
The Aser Stories 03: The Labor of Love
The Aser Stories 02: Soup du Jour
The Aser Stories 01: Popping the Big Question
The Aser Stories 40a: Customary Behavior
The Aser Stories 36a: Madly In Love
The Aser Stories 03a: Descent to the Underworld

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