This week’s underwear-drawer safari is brought to you by The Vagabond. Let’s dive right in!
The vagabond’s name is Isaac. He says his last name is Bary. I know at least one person who says it’s not. If asked if he’s human (which has never happened), I’m sure he’d answer ‘yes’ with a look that would say, “Are you all there?” Because if it walks like a human and talks like a human, it’s human, right?
Isaac’s underwear drawer is also his pants drawer and shirt drawer and sock drawer and brush drawer and deodorant drawer. It’s a falling-apart suitcase he keeps under the sagging twin bed in the loft of Grandma Opal’s barn. He used to wander, but she took him in; gave him work and a place to stay. He was welcome to live in the house, but he preferred the barn. It felt more like home.
Plus, it was easier to come and go without her noticing.
His suitcase is old, and not very big, so he doesn’t keep any secret treasures there. But next to the suitcase is a box. This is where Isaac keeps what’s precious to him.
Inside the box is a leather bag. It’s old; soft with wear. When you look at it, you get the feeling it has seen many miles, many places. Under the bag is a stack of clothing, neatly folded. They look handmade, old-fashioned. A pair of supple leather boots are at the very bottom of the stack – the tall kind that would go to the wearer’s knees. You wonder why he keeps those clothes separated from the faded jeans and flannel shirts in the suitcase.
There’s paper, and there’s pencils. There’s a stack of drawings that stop you in your tracks. All of the same woman, and all done in lead, in shades of grey, but with such skill that you can almost see the fiery hue of the woman’s hair; the churning gleam of her silver eyes; the teardrop of the blood-red ruby that rests below her breasts. You shake your head, trying to clear the hallucination, telling yourself drawings in lead can’t show color.
There’s a little leather pouch next to the stack of paper. Inside is a ring – gold, with leaf-shapes carved into it. Inlayed is a single ruby, the shape of a leaf, and so deeply red it looks like a drop of blood. Also inside is a lock of red hair, braided and knotted into the shape of a heart. You look at it closely, wondering about the drawings of the woman.
That’s all that’s in the box, and as you put the contents back and fold the lid-flaps over themselves, you notice something else behind it. Two somethings, actually. You have to push the box and the suitcase out of the way to get to them. You pull them out, surprised at their weight, and stare down, wondering. They’re long, covered in leather and tied. You undo the ties and unwrap the contents.
One is simple – no markings that distinguish it (except of course, the fact that it’s a freaking sword). The other is isn’t. Leaves are carved into its hilt, and characters – some form of writing? – are pressed on the blade, diminishing as they go. Another blood-red ruby rests on the end of the hilt.
For a vagabond, the dude digs rubies.
Go ahead and wrap those back up. Put everything back how you found it. Isaac doesn’t have much to his name, and what he does have, he’s fiercely protective over.
If you stop by Opal’s house when you leave, I bet she’ll invite you in for some chocolate cake. Take her up on it – she makes fantastic chocolate cake. Just don’t tell her you went snooping through Isaac’s things or she’ll give you a lesson in manners.