November 19, 2018


The Aser Stories 24: Crime and Punishment


So we're walking along the public boardwalk beside the piers of Skuleflight Harbor, and in front of us are a few city kids shuffling along, talking loudly. That's a problem with cities -- not enough family work for the kids, and no one is available to watch over them because it's so bloody expensive to live in the city that all the parents have to work. City work doesn't often lend itself to the parent keeping the kids with them on the job, either. So the kids roam around trying to console themselves for the lack of parentage, untutored, uninhibited, and uncontrolled.

This stupid twit with huge satchel-ass breeches stops briefly and with a rude, spittle-laden "Phwah!" hoicks a huge gob of bubble gum onto the wooden planks of the deck, right in our path.

"Hey," I call out, holding my temper, "You want to pick this up so nobody steps in it?"

The youngster turns around and looks at the gum. "I just gave you your lunch, bitch. Why don't you just say 'thank you'?"

I hate the namby-pamby bullshit that surrounds kids of his age these days. We are supposed to treat them like they don't know right from wrong, like babies in the playpen. Well, in a sense. We trust them not to go to movies that have graphically sexual or violent content, but we make laws that someone else is supposed to enforce to keep them from doing so. We say that they are innocent and vulnerable, but we refuse to give them the supervision that the truly innocent and vulnerable need. And it's all crap. They've known right and wrong, polite and aggressive, nice and not-nice since they've been pre-pubescent.

"No one can tell my child what to do..." the parents say. Ever notice that only the parents of ill-behaved offspring say that? What an absurd corruption of the idea of freedom, suggesting that refraining from destructive activity is a form of servitude. In fact, the sons and daughters can only learn appropriate behavior as they're growing up by looking to adults to give them good example and guidance. Kids don't just look at their parents to see how to act or how not to act. They look at everybody. That's why they have eyes. And all other things aside, no one has a right to spit, shit, or dump filth in the public places, not even if they are under eighteen.

What can I do in a situation like this? Crack the little creep's head with my staff and then have his parents come after me with hired thugs or worse still, lawyers? Humbly let the rudeness pass, and in so doing, encourage his future bullying of passers-by? "You're a fool," I tell him. "and these other children are fools for traveling with you. You bring your own punishment upon yourself."

His predictable reply is to flip me off with both hands.

With a shrug and a sigh, I turn to my companions, who are muttering between themselves, Danner heatedly, Cloudraft sternly. I could almost feel sorry for the brat, who thought he was scoring easy rudeness points off an old woman, but instead has pissed off two shamans and a powerful wizard.

"Ahem," says Cloudraft, addressing the young man. "You have placed the value of chewing gum above the value of all else. Chewing gum shall be henceforth grateful and cleave unto you wherever it may be found," the wizard tells him, moving his hands ceremoniously, his gestures seeming to frame the rude one.

The piece of bubble gum on the decking moves with a little quiver, almost as though it were happy, and leaps to the boy's shoulder, where a few hairs instantly become tangled. He tries to brush it away, with the same results anyone would get trying to remove gum from their clothing. "Ewww!" his friends squeal. Just then, a piece of graying gum detaches itself from a boardwalk chair seat and hops toward him. His eyes goggle in disbelief as the dirty thing snuggles onto the top of his shoe. "Nooooo!" he howls and runs from us. A piece of fruity chew leaps from the mouth of a tourist as though shot from a slingshot, attaching itself to his back. His friends run away in different directions.

"How long will that last?" I ask.

"Oh, it will wear off gradually," the wizard replies with a studious air, "but his parents will probably pay one of the local mages to remove the spell, or at least cast a counter-spell in order to minimize the effects. Like any consequence, only time and change of attitude will lessen the sting."

"He got off easy," grumps the impetuous Danner. "I wanted the attraction spell to include anything that can be spit."

Consequence, that's the thing. That's why we all have the responsibility to teach the young what to do and how to conduct themselves. Being taught a lesson by a concerned adult is a whole lot less of a consequence than learning the hard way when no other way will do.

Good ol' Dan Ur-Jennan and Cloudraft the Great! I sure have missed them.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-08-13

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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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