In this series, I will take the Word of the Day from Dictionary.com and craft a short piece of creative writing around it. My goal is to embrace the meaning of the word in some unique way, all the while trying out different styles, rhythms and characterizations. It is as much an exercise in creativity as it is an exploration of grammar. Enjoy!
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By Alex Seise
“I found him like this down in the wine cellar. The door to the antiquities vault was ajar, and I noticed that one of the crates had been pried open from the inside,” Winston explained calmly, guiding his silk robe-clad employer down the cold stone slab steps beneath the Great Room. They passed three glowing electric sconces since the latest chamber door some two dozen stairs ago. “He was sipping from a broken bottle of cabernet sauvignon. I suggested he use a goblet lest the shards nip at his lips, but that didn’t help, I’m afraid.”
“Didn’t help?” The yawning man asked, shaken by the events that had plucked him from a particularly nice dream about flying over the jungles of Peru.
“He was crying, you see. Crying and mumbling in what sounded to me like Old English.” They stopped, and Winston pulled a key from his crisp black jacket. He unlocked the heavy wooden door, but before he opened it, he spoke a few more words. “I do believe this is the type of mess your mother cautioned me about before she left for Cambodia.”
“Leave it to mum to predict these kinds of shenanigans,” the young man said, pulling the door from the butler’s hands and stepping into the cask-lined room. On the far wall, hundreds of bottles were stacked in a climate-controlled glass vault. The sobbing man had helped himself to a thirty-year-old red.
“Hello,” he said to the character in drab old rags hunched near the case. “I won’t hurt you. What’s your name?”
“Iwis,” the man croaked between tears, gurgling additional archaic words in a wine-slogged stream. He seemed to ignore the homeowner’s presence entirely, consumed by the fog of drunkenness. “Iwis!”
The young man turned. “Winston, do me a favor, please. Fetch me mother’s tome on medieval English terms from her study. I didn’t catch much of what our friend here just said, but I have heard ‘iwis’ before. It’s old, and I’ll bet I can decipher some more of his jabbering if I have the right book.”
The butler nodded, conveying no emotion. “As you wish, Master Croft.” Winston stepped backwards from the room, turned and looked up the winding stone steps. He sighed, wondering if he might consider retirement one day. His muscles and bones were old, but his loyalty was stronger than his aches and arthritis. He knew that day would never come, and he began the slow, reluctant journey upwards.