Of Liquor and Nooses

Of Liquor and Nooses

A Story by dr.chadwick

One must deny himself before his day of humility arrives. To what do we hold as tightly as our pride?


A darkly stained box sat on the table, from which L. Abel Mulino drew many a pinch of his pipe tobacco gazing through moist, tired eyes.  Large, dusty volumes of crumpled pages and waxy covers heaped themselves about the chairs, upon the worn oaken shelves, and upon Mulino’s lap.  Kipling, Poe, Scott, Thackeray, the studies of Socrates, Homer, the long aged text of the Holy Bible in Hebrew; the collection of a thoughtful mind bent in far too many a direction.  Firelight cast its orange gleam on the walls and ceiling of the small office.  Unopened and forgotten laid a year 19¾ bottle of brandy on the desk by the fireplace.  Our evening passed with the slow procurements of broken conversation.  My smoke rings drifted out of an open window and into the garden below.  A chaffed, torn impression of a map of Europe, faded and covered in dark blue ink, hung behind the desk. 

“…was Creadle’s every intention to return to the port that next month, but with being held up in Prague again by severe weather, the Captain reassigned the crew to the ship Galloway.  Under heavy influence of their unpasteurized liquor and low spirits that evening at U Pasinovu, the crew began to swim with emotion and a riot thus broke out, as surely liquor holds such power. The fervor carried them throughout the city, burning shops and monasteries, wrecking fishing boats at harbor, and assaulting the city’s night populace.” I had to pause a moment to wipe my forehead with my handkerchief. 

“That next morning, the crew (including Creadle himself) was hanged as a ‘reckless endangerment to the civil health of the people of Prague and its structures.’”

Mulino puffed at his pipe while I finished my narrative piece, inquisitively studying the tips of my ears (or so the shiftiness of his eyes were to suggest).  “I find that, though as engrossing as alcohol may be reputed, the mind succumbs first, and the will follows.  The men were not inhibited, however, according to the high levels of alcohol consumption, but rather uninhibited and left subjected to their released desires. Creadle found himself in so low a state the following morning due to the lack of mental tenacity.  You, of all company, should be quite aware of my stance on such secular and immoral indulgence.  I conclude, then, that sobriety alone would not have saved him from the fate he shared with his crew.”

I nodded my head.  My armchair creaked as I got up and walked over to the desk.  I shuffled a few loose leaves around from some unknown classical work by some unknown classical writer until I found the bottle of brandy.  As I picked it up, I could feel the clinging dust on my fingers. 

“And this, Abel, is my evidence against your professed stance.  I understand that it’s unopened.  But how, might I enquire, did it ever end up in your possession at all?  You are a staunch believer in sober minds.  Am I to assume that you are exempt from your own ‘microscopical’ criticism?  Leave your pride to fester in the dust and call it glory, if you must.  I will drink mine away.”

I removed the cork slowly and poured a glass (or two).  I held out my offering. 

“Humility, sir.  The will is not strong because we speak of it so.  Break it.  Crush it.  Humiliate it, sir.  And it will strengthen.”  His eyes brimmed as I took my seat. 

The fire grew colder.  The bottle of brandy lay on its side beside that dark wooden box, as empty and dignified as Creadle’s noose.  Or was it Mulino’s?

© 2011 dr.chadwick

Author's Note

grammatical suggestions welcome, ambiguity is intentional (but inform me if it is detrimentally so), lemme know what conclusions you draw--according to your specific personal values.

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Added on October 3, 2011
Last Updated on October 3, 2011
Tags: pride, alcohol, narrative, mind, knowledge