December 11, 2017

 

The Aser Stories 33: Legal Torture

 
 
 

Most of the time you're not allowed to cause discomfort or pain to people around you. But there is one nasty, notable exception ...



The weather has turned cold and my whole party is ready to get in out of the wet and relax at the inn. Oddly, a small band of lizardmen are huddled on the wide porch, almost asleep with the lowering temperatures. Normally you'd find them in front of an inn's fire, hogging the heat and belching mead breath.

"Hail," I say to the scaly cluster. "Is the inn so crowded that you freeze out here?"

One of them opens a sleepy eye and shakes his head slowly. He coughs a little and snuggles closer to his mates.

The door to the inn opens and a couple of cloaked travelers tromp out, hacking like the next best thing to pneumonia, eyes streaming tears. And with them comes the scent of rotted lilies like a vile cloud of poison gas. Oh, no, not one of those, I pray, and holding my nose, peek in the door. My prayers are unheard. At a table in the middle of the room sits a fat woman and her escort, oblivious to the nearly visible waves of odor emanating from her, and equally oblivious to the sneezing and coughing of the few patrons left who can tolerate such quantities of bad perfume. I let the door swing shut, but not before my companions catch a whiff and wrinkle their noses in disgust.

This is one time I'll pick on women with no compunction at all about equality issues. What in the nine levels of Hell are ladies thinking, drenching themselves in perfume so thickly that it causes respiratory distress in passers-by? Do they have no sense of smell themselves? Do they have no sense of hearing to perceive the wheezes and hoicks of those who get within twenty feet? No sense of taste to commiserate with fellow diners whose food is contaminated by the odor?

A person who would not think of squeezing a skunk for a natural odor event will put on enough perfume to make a horse shy or drop a squirrel out of a tree -- how does that happen? And even should a courageous soul inform the smelly woman of the offense of her overpowering scent, the source of the stench will, fifty times out of fifty-one, stoutly refuse to believe that anyone could possibly be affected by the vapor.

The innkeeper comes out onto the porch and shrugs apologetically. "I already accepted a week's worth of their coin for the best rooms," he says. "And I can't force her to bathe."

He lights up a thick black cigar. "You know," he says, "a lot of people don't like smoke, and some of the cities have actually passed laws that say a body can't have a puff indoors because of what it does to them as breathe it in. But nobody wants to take on a woman with too much perfume."

"Except an orc," I nod. "They don't seem to be affected by it. If I were you, I'd offer the next band of them that passes by beers on the house."

The inn door slams open again and a waiter staggers out, coughing and gasping and clutching his throat. When he breathes in, he sounds like a bad accordion. My companions and I can't go any farther along the road tonight; but from observing the purple face and labored breath of the waiter, there are worse things than sleeping with a bunch of lizards.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-10-22


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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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