He often said, with all the languages floating around, his head was like a world conference where every representative had the same sounding voice. In the beginning, these conferences seemed to be lack in content. Many of the debates seemed to be about the price of fish. Or how to say one's name. Or the whereabouts of the washroom. But, as Allister collected more words and a better understanding of all the languages, the conversations in his head become deeply philosophical and intelligent.
His collection of words was ever-expanding. Some were more useful (the word 'hammer') or more valuable (he had a limited edition Tanzanian 'machismo') than others. But, they were all were words in their own write and Allister wanted to remember each one. He catalogued them carefully in volume after volume. They were put in protective casings and inscribed with a definition and a brief description of how and when they were acquired. When his collection was donated to the Smithsonian, Allister had over five hundred and ninety different 'vanillas', seventy-nine 'lhasa apsos', and possibly the last 'betwixt'.
His collecting career was not free of scandal, however. Early on, he was accused of participating in black market purchases of poached 'furs' and 'tusks'. As well as 'grenades'. In defense of himself, Allister explained, "These were not bought out of greed. But, out of a desire to share my love of grammatics* with the world and to expand my collection furth-ALL RIGHT FINE! YES! IT WAS SELFISH! I AM SELFISH! I WANT ALL THE WORDS FOR MYSELF! AH HA! AH! HA! AH...HA!"
This breakdown was in front of a grand jury with little sympathy. Consequently, Allister was sentenced to five years in prison without parole. His lawyer was able to keep a majority of Allister's collection intact and in Allister's name for when he was released. Though, the 'furs', 'tusks', and 'grenades' in question were confiscated.
Many thought that Allister would be pulled away from collecting in prison. But, in fact, the opposite happened. With nothing else to do, Allister devoted all his time to collecting words. In a matter of months, his cell walls were covered in words that he had gained from other prisoners through trade or, if necessary, brute force. His poker winnings included 'soap', a 'toothbrush', and countless 'IOUs' He was never at a loss for words. There were even prisoners who spoke Spanish, French, and Russian. So, his in-prison collection soon tripled. Guards began complaining to the warden that it did not seem like Allister was being punished at all. He was as happy as he had been outside prison.
The warden (a bifocaled man with pointed nose and arched eyebrows) agreed and ordered the walls painted over and, then, a coat of sealant put on to prevent chalk from adhering thereafter. They removed anything Allister could possibly use for writing and believed whole-heartedly in their victory. For the rest of his sentence, there was never another sign of word collecting. There was never another problem with Allister at all. He was a model prisoner.
On the day of his release, Allister's lawyer picked him up and congratulated him on his return to the outside world. Allister wished only to know how his collection was. The lawyer promised that it was all kept in mint condition and consoled Allister on the loss of all his in-prison words. Allister smiled, though. He rolled his sleeves up to his shoulder and revealed hundreds of words-tattooed in just about the smallest legible handwriting possible-under his upper arms and into his armpits. It had taken his time to find all the words again. But, he did. And, you know, I would expect nothing less from Allister.
*Which is not, by definition, an actual word. But, one can forgive Allister this error, for he was under much stress.