"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
On a rocky beach, curled into a fetal ball around a bottle of whiskey, a drunk woke screaming in a desolation of the soul more deep than death. He had found himself this small corner, little more than a wedge of large stones last night when he realized the drink was close to overcoming him, rather than trying to make it home. Josh often did that. Eventually someone would come looking for him. They always did since Aejys took him in. The Vorgeni called him Josh the Sot, or more often simply The Sot and left it at that. No one else invoked as much contempt in the town as Josh.
Sand crusted his grey-brown hair and untidy beard. The bridge of his nose, crooked from a childhood break, was squarish and his chin was blunt like pushed-in clay. He reeked of whiskey and vomit, yet he pulled the cork and got another drag down, causing his stomach to heave again. Josh slapped at the cobwebs of images still lodged in his half sleeping mind. Demons on thin legs pranced through his thoughts and tore him with knives that left no blood in their wake. He twisted and howled again.
A voice echoed in his mind, “Once there were three brothers, Brandrahoon, Isranon called Dawnhand, and Waejonan the Accursed.”
Josh screamed and howled, clutching his bottle, gulping at it. He raised his eyes and stared out at the waters, thinking how easy it would be to simply walk out far enough into the tide to let the undertow catch him, to let the terror end, to let it all be over. He straightened and started toward the water, feeling the fear draining out of him as he listened to the waves. Josh kept swigging from the bottle as he walked into the water. Suddenly, seemingly from out of nowhere, a group of children rushed around him and he hesitated.
“Grandfather is looking for you,” shouted a little girl, her black hair in two braids and sand coating her buckskins.
Josh blinked and the lure of the water was broken. Yes, he thought, someone always comes looking. Before Aejys, it had been just Branch and his grandchildren and great grandchildren. The old Kwaklahmyn shaman had befriended him when he was a child. Now there were many watchers, as if they all recognized the despair in his soul. But his despair came from within. He had Aejys and others now who cared. So long as they were around he did not feel that void as keenly and could distract himself from his awareness of it. It was only there, pounding in his awareness, when he found himself alone.