“Is that lavender I smell?”; He pondered out loud.
“How would you know?”; His wife chortled. “You wouldn’t realize if a dead cat was in here! You have the worst sense of smell of anyone I know. I’ve worn this perfume for six months. Why would you just start noticing it now?”
“I have no idea. When I woke up this morning my nose was filled with a plethora of odd fragrances. It was as if you had sprayed a potpourri air freshener in the room. I could smell dozens of different things lingering in the room. I noticed fabric softener on my pillowcase, your lavender-based perfume from the bathroom counter and also the horrible stench of my morning breath. Heck, I even got a whiff of the burnt toast from downstairs in the kitchen. I know that’s a pretty distinctive odor but I’ve never been able to smell it so far away before. I can’t explain the sudden sensory overload. It’s kinda overwhelming.”
“I don’t know what you think you smell but I didn’t burn any toast.”; She replied with annoyance. Alice was a little defensive about her cooking.
As if on queue, the smoke alarm downstairs began to incessantly beep. Mrs. Gowan opened the door and yelled to the kitchen. “What’s going on down there?”
“Sorry Mom. My toast got a little overdone.”
Stuart grinned at her. “See, I told ya.” She just rolled her eyes at the incredibly convenient confirmation.
Later that evening and for several days later he was graced with an uncharacteristic sense of smell. He finally understood the reputation of the office ‘stinker’ and was grateful that it wasn’t him. The powerful scent of coffee filled his nostrils and even the flowers at the reception desk ‘called out to him’. He rapidly found himself eavesdropping on a secret olfactory world which he had no previous awareness of. It was both overwhelming and strangely addictive. He had to force himself to stop stealing whiffs of his attractive, twenty-something secretary’s hair. “That’s basically what got King David in trouble.”; He remembered from last Sunday’s church sermon. “David couldn’t stop thinking about the dazzling charms of Bathsheba.”
No sooner than he walked into the door to his home, he scrunched his nose up. To no one in particular, he announced that the milk in the fridge had went bad. Only when his wife opened up the refrigerator door was she able to verify his proclamation. She looked at him with a suspicious look.
“How could you possibly know the milk had spoiled? It was still in the fridge with the door closed and the lid on. I couldn’t even tell until I stuck my nose over the spout. If you knew it was bad last night, why didn’t you just go ahead and pour it out? There’s no point in pretending you have some sort of ‘divine sniffer’ now. No one is going to believe that about your nose.”
“I swear, something has happened. Its a modern day miracle. It’s been like this for a couple days now. Ever since I noticed Sean’s burnt toast in the kitchen, I’ve been bombarded with hundreds of olfactory queues that I couldn’t detect before. I can’t even identify most of them because I have no past field of comparison but it’s a real thing. For whatever reason, I’ve been blessed with a new gift from the Lord. I must be living right, eh?” He chuckled at the realization of his good fortune.
Alice glared at him with skepticism. She was deeply devout in her faith, and didn’t like to take the possibility of modern day miracles so lightly. It seemed blasphemous to assume that mundane things like that would be given by the almighty while far greater needs would not be granted. She didn’t take his true, divine gifts for granted.
“As a matter of fact, I can sense a cigarette burning around here.”; He added confidently. “Come with me. Let’s get to the bottom of it. Then you can decide for yourself if I’m really imagining the whole thing.”
They darted out of the house with Mr. Gowan leading the way. In the storage shed, they discovered their teenage son covertly puffing on a cigarette, as he had predicted. “Lord help me! I can’t believe this! You’re grounded for a month!”; Alice commanded. “Where did you get that filthy thing?”
He attempted to cover up his tracks but when he saw how it was making matters worse, Sean eventually confessed the truth. It had come from a classmate’s Mom’s purse. Despite his protests of it being ‘no big deal’, Mrs. Gowan sent him to his room to reflect on his unacceptable behavior. She was too miffed about his secretive activity to weigh in on her husband’s mysterious new ‘super power’.
Meanwhile Stuart continued to experience a heightened sense of smell in unexplained circumstances. Everywhere he went, a whole new world of mysterious odors followed him around. It ran the gamut from intriguing to downright annoying. The unfamiliar sensations could be overwhelming at times. Most of the time he just wanted things to go back to normal for him. He noticed the pleasant fragrance of baked yeast rolls and the fresh linens on their bed.
There were also plenty of foul odors he encountered. He had to wait a half hour to use the men’s room at the office because of the lingering stall ‘funk’. Javier liked to heat up tuna for lunch in the break room and the office manager used far too much cheap cologne. All in all, it was a wash. The pleasant and unpleasant smells were about even.
That all changed the following Friday morning. No sooner than Stuart entered his office building, he was assaulted with a stench so powerful that if felt like a physical blow to his person. He recoiled in horror. The vile odor invading his nostrils was a compound of many, unpleasant things. The first of which was an unmistakable odor of decay and death. It lingered in the air as if the building was filled with corpses and rotting bodies. There was also an unmistakable smell of charred flesh and heavy gaseous fumes. He looked around in bewilderment. All of his coworkers were milling about as if nothing was wrong. It didn’t make any sense. He choked and gagged from the putrid stench while they looked at him in perplexed dismay.
“Don’t you all smell that horrible odor?”; He grasped. “It absolutely reeks in here!”; He leaned over and vomited. Several of his peers ran over to check on him. “No! No. Don’t worry about me. Have everyone evacuate the building, immediately.”
The receptionist nervously picked up the intercom and asked for all personnel to exit the office building immediately. Like everyone else, she was oblivious to Stuart’s reasoning but took his word for the emergency request. Stuart stumbled over to the fire alarm and pulled it, to further punctuate the critical importance of the announcement. Slowly the staff and executives began to file out of their various offices and into the lobby. Evacuees from different floors dutifully used the stairs instead of the elevators according to posted safety regulations.
Dozens of confused employees questioned the receptionist about her evacuation announcement. She explained that it was Stuart who gave the cryptic order. He stood at the edge of the lobby door and frantically motioned for them to immediately follow him outside. From his well known honesty and character, the staff elected to obey his request without explanation. They assumed he would detail what all the hubbub was about, once they were outside.
As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary. No sooner than the last employee had joined the impromptu gathering on the other side of the parking lot, a massive explosion leveled the building! The incredible blast was heard more than twenty miles away. Shrapnel and flying debris caused a few minor injuries but overall, it was the best case scenario. Some of the survivors suffered temporary hearing loss but they were grateful for Stuart’s heroic actions. No one could explain how he was the only one who could smell the deadly gas leak. In the end, no one cared. He didn’t mention the hellish scent of death he witnessed before the explosion. It was clearly an olfactory premonition he was given to prevent a disaster. Alice fully accepted the miracle after that. It was as plain as the nose on his face.