Fly in the Ointment by R. Schlaack

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SUMMARY: (I'll keep doing these stories until someone gets tired of them).

"Ointment! Beautiful skin! Get your ointment here! Vitamins A, D, and E! Ultra Pro-vitamin formula! Get it right here!"

"Here, boy," the fat woman said. "I'd like to buy some of that ointment."

The ointment-boy smiled, revealing all the teeth he had lost. He was so pathetic and pitiful and (admittedly) disgusting that the fat woman could hardly bear it.

"I'll take two," she said.

The little boy handed her two jars. She brought out her money and paid him, noticing his poor little malnourished hands, bent like claws. The poor, poor dear, dressed in rags, standing on this street corner...and there was something wrong with his eyes; they bugged out, and they had cataracts or something.

"What's your name, my dear?" she asked him.

He shook his head. "What's your name?" he lisped.

Pity tore at her heartstrings. Such a sweet little thing.

"My name is Matilda Bartle, and I live up on the hill," she said, gesturing with a heavily ornamented finger. "If there's anything you ever need, just come on up and ask for Matilda."

The little boy grinned again. He smelled so bad - poor dear probably hadn't bathed in months. "Ohtay," he said.

After Matilda was gone he did take a bath. He licked his forearms and wiped them over his gigantic eyes and bald head. None of the passers-by seemed to notice.

Matilda opened her front door and set down her bags. She hummed a little tune as she bustled about the kitchen. The cleaning lady had been here, and everything was sparkling clean and put in order. She scrawled a quick note and attached it to the refrigerator with a magnet - "Bill and Eva for dinner, Tuesday 6:00" - and then she took her jars of ointment and went upstairs.

Her bedroom was very large and red. She liked to call it her "boudoir" - it seemed more French that way. And the more French, the better. The big vanity had jars of perfume and lotion and bags of bath beads on it. The bed was a big four-poster, with red lace and red sheets - very French, or so she had been told.

Matilda sat down and opened on of the ointment jars. It was a bright green, almost like pistachio ice cream, and it had a faintly sweet aroma to it.

She dabbed some on her wrist. She took a sniff.

"Like almonds, almost," she mused.

She rolled up her sleeves and began massaging ointment into her arms.

"Even if it doesn't help my skin, I'm just glad I could help that little urchin," she said to herself, and smiled at the memory her charitable endeavor. She could probably go back and help the boy some more. Perhaps she could pay for a hospital visit, find out what was wrong with him...

Matilda stopped. Her brow darkened. Something was wrong.

"What the devil is that smell?" she said, and her nose wrinkled as a fresh wave of the stench hit her. She looked down at her arms, and then took a sniff, and then recoiled in shock.

"Like spoiled meat!" she said, and she ran to the bathroom. She lathered her arms with scented soap and scrubbed and scrubbed. She rinsed her arms, and took another experimental sniff.

"Still there!" she wailed, and scrubbed and scrubbed some more.

Her forearms looked like boiled lobsters from all the scrubbing.

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